UNISON is receiving information from members across the whole of BHCC, that senior Officers are considering the privatisation of a range of services, particularly in Adult and Children’s areas.

Whilst there is clearly a massive “hole” in next year’s budget, and Director’s have been ordered to look at anything and everything that can be cut, to meet this crisis, it appears that actual plans are now well-advanced, as to what services can be closed or hived off to the profit making sector.

In the past few weeks, it has been announced that an “independent team” from outside the Council, are to be paid to come in and review all of the Learning Disability service, both residential, day and support teams – UNISON believes that the Officers, having failed earlier this year to get elected members to agree to the formation of a Local Authority Trading Company (LATC), which is effectively a private organisation with some insecure links to the Council, are now having this “review” with the sole purpose of getting it to recommend privatisation.

Last week the Health and Well Being Board, consisting of some elected Councillors and non-elected, and thus non-accountable, Health Service managers, decided to recommend privatisation in 2015, of the Integrated Community Equipment Service (ICES). This was agreed on the basis of a shoddy and inaccurate report, and is completely opposed by staff and their Unions. The service is given a 98% approval rating by its users – those leaving hospital, or needing adaptations to their houses, or walking aids, special beds, and so forth.

In the past 48 hours UNISON has learnt from separate sources that contracted refurbishment work, has, inexplicably, been halted on the following services

– Knoll House, Hove, a centre for the elderly requiring intensive rehabilitation, or short term care.

– Wayfield Avenue, Hove, a similar centre to Knoll House.

– Tarner Children’s Centre.

– Tudor House, Brighton, a residential unit for children with severe learning disabilities.

UNISON is writing, today, to the Leader of the Council, Jason Kitcat, and to the Leaders of the Labour and Conservative Groups, to request urgent information on this matter. Specifically, we will be asking if these plans have the political “green light” from elected members.

In addition, UNISON will be very clear that any attempt to privatise these services, provided to the most vulnerable in the City, will be utterly opposed by this Union, by all the means at our disposal, up to and including full strike action.

Alex Knutsen, Branch Secretary, said

“Our members, in all these establishments, and in the wider Branch (3,700 in total), supported by the vast majority of the citizens of the City, will not accept privatisation of essential services. The Government, and successive administrations, told us that “front-line” services would be protected – we will now hold them to that promise.

Over the next few months we shall see whether we have principled Councillors, or not, and if it is the latter, then at next years May elections, they will pay the price”

For further information, please contact, Alex Knutsen on 07961025930 or 01273 291611

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