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Date: Sat 15 October 2011

Edinburgh Council censors critical report as UNISON launches privatisation pledge

Beleaguered officials at City of Edinburgh Council have censored a report which records public attitudes to the proposed £1 billion privatisation of council services.

Peter Hunter, UNISON's Regional Organiser for Edinburgh said:
“The council has a legal obligation to consult stakeholders on the great service sell-off and there has been growing criticism of the veil of secrecy surrounding plans for privatisation”.

Councillors attending public meetings across the city have witnessed the clamour for openness and transparency – a call endorsed in writing by UNISON, Audit Scotland and the council’s own independent consultants.

The censored report was written for the council by pollsters IPSOS MORI and it is based on the views of Edinburgh residents who came together to debate the council’s privatisation plan.

In response UNISON has launched a “Privatisation Pledge” - the union will be asking elected politicians to oppose privatisation of services until there has been full public consultation and proper scrutiny.

Peter Hunter explained the background:
“UNISON and the council’s consultants have been calling for consultation for over a year, but secrecy is the name of the game in Waverley Court. The MORI report was always just a fig leaf – it was only commissioned after the negotiation with bidders was finished. People never had the chance to influence the design of new services.”

Now the council faces further intense criticism for censoring public opinion.

Peter Hunter said:
“The lesson of the trams fiasco is that we need more scrutiny, not less. When we heard a rumour that the MORI report was being suppressed we made a Freedom of Information Request which has been refused. We’ll see what the courts make of that, but in the meantime we’re calling on councillors to make a stand. We want all councillors to pledge their public opposition to privatisation until we’ve had open and transparent consultation across the city. The city needs another tram fiasco like a hole in the head.”

ENDS

PICTURE OPPORTUNITY: Sat 11.30 , The Mound - Launch of Privatisation Pledge – with giant Pledge card

Note to editors
Elected politicians across the Edinburgh and Lothian area are being asked to sign the Privatisation Pledge. The pledge, which will be launched on the Mound at 11.30 am on Saturday 15 October, reads as follows:

“I think it’s best that vital public services are delivered efficiently by public servants, not private companies. So I’m very concerned about plans for wholesale privatisation of large swathes of Edinburgh Council services under the Alternative Business Models (ABM) process - especially since allowing bidders to close the pension scheme means that there’s not a level playing field for the in-house bid. Until there has been full public consultation and proper scrutiny I will oppose any moves by City of Edinburgh Council to appoint private companies to do its core work for it”

For further information please contact
Peter Hunter, Regional Organiser, on 07740167777

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