No to privatisation - Ceredigion abandons plans to share services with the private sector

Plans for Ceredigion, Gwynedd and Powys councils to combine with the private sector in providing current highways and other services have been abandoned.

A business review of the proposals carried out by the consultants Deloitte has concluded that a joint venture with the private sector is 'not conducive' in the current economic climate. The three councils are still intending to work together to save money through economies of scale but without involvement from businesses.

The decision was hailed by many Ceredigion councillors as the best possible outcome at yesterday’s meeting of the Highways Property & Works Scrutiny Committee. It’s been made clear by Brian Gibbons, Assembly Local Government Minister, that councils are expected to work more closely together in the future to save money and that working with the private sector should be considered. Hints have been made that councils refusing to work together could end up being re-organised or amalgamated. But many councillors on both sides of the chamber were very suspicious of linking up with the private sector as any efficiency savings brought about by their involvement would inevitably be eaten up by their need to make a profit.

There were some grumblings from councillors in the south of the county that it would be better to work with Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire but council officers pointed out that the nature of those counties meant that Ceredigion’s interests would come very much third in that kind of partnership, whereas Ceredigion can operate on an equal footing with the more similar (in terms of rurality) councils of Gwynedd and Powys. Plans for inter-authority collaboration are still being investigated and senior officers have been asked to draw up proposals.