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Full council review (5): Serco under pressure?

12.20.10 | Comment?

Let’s turn to the questions asked at Full Council last Wednesday.

Not least in the context of Serco’s own bullying attempts to drive down its contractor costs, a Labour councillor asked the following question:

Has the Council made any approach to Serco Leisure Operating Ltd about the possibility of it accepting a reduced level of subsidy, while retaining or improving current services levels, in the context of the government’s cuts and the accompanying narrative that “we are all in this together”?

The response we got was along the lines that, yes, this matter will be discussed in January 2011 at a West Lancashire Leisure Trust meeting. 

I’ve asked for details of this meeting, and whether it is open to the public.

At first sight, this is good news, and comes as a result of consistent pressure on the council from the Labour side, most recently at the 30th September Executive Overview & Scrutiny meeting, at which I again raised the issue of the continuing subsidy to Serco, guaranteed to it under the ridiculously short-sighted 15 year contract signed off in 2004 by the Tories. 

This is recorded simply as discussion about “current level of subsidy and how calculated”, but it does seem that the message about the need for the Leisure Trust and the council actually to tackle Serco about it’s subsidy level, in the context of cuts everywhere else, has finally got through.

That does not, of course, mean we’ll get anywhere.  Serco may well be reluctant to tighthen their shareholders’ belts at the same time as the people of West Lancs are being required to tighten theirs, but at least this first step appears to have been made.

This is, no doubt, something I’ll be reporting back on.

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