Burnley Council services sold to private firm to save money?

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A private company could clinch a multi-million-pound deal to take on parts of Burnley Council’s services.

Council bosses are in talks with One Connect Ltd to take on a contract to run the authority’s Revenues and Benefits Systems Support Services.

Officials say that the deal with OCL, run by telecoms giant BT, could create a “substantial” six-figure saving for Burnley Council as budget cuts bite.

But similar deals with Lancashire County Council and West Lancashire Council have caused controversy.

West Lancashire MP Rosie Connor expressed concerns about the “lack of openness, transparency and publicly available information” about the agreement in her borough.

Similar plans in Burnley are set to be debated alongside service users, staff members and trade unions before any agreement is signed.

Coun. Mark Townsend, Executive Member for Resources and Performance Management, believes could bring jobs into Burnley while saving the council money.

He said: “We are always looking for creative ways to run more efficient and cost effective services for our residents. Burnley faces a big problem at the moment, because of a massive gap in funding imposed by Government.

“In spite of this, we are looking for positive ways forward. Where we can, we want to turn the Government’s senseless threats to our financial viability into opportunities.

“If this deal comes off, we will protect our staff members’ jobs and terms and conditions, make substantial savings, and put in place arrangements which could bring additional jobs  and investment into Burnley over the next two or three years.”

Burnley Council’s Chief Executive, Steve Rumbelow, added: “Looking ahead, our expectation is that we will face serious budget reductions in 2014 – 15 and beyond. Meeting these challenges in the interests of Burnley’s residents will require imaginative and radical approaches to developing and recasting our services”.