Cornwall council’s privatisation compromise

The west country council came perilously close to outsourcing a wide range of services to BT. Why did it change its mind?

Based on a set of interviews with councillors, and a trip to Bodmin to take a look at the Beacon technology park courtesy of Ann Kerridge – some images in the gallery above – this is my first piece in my second run as a freelance journalist, for the Guardian’s Society pages. Cornwall council is taking a pragmatic approach to outsourcing, trying to create and protect local jobs, increase efficiency and involve its local NHS trusts.

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Further reading: the Cornwall council and NHS outsourcing rebellion

The last fortnight has seen extraordinary events in Cornwall. This Tuesday, council leader Alec Robertson lost a vote of no confidence, primarily over plans to outsource many local council and NHS jobs. Jim Currie, a councillor who opposes the scheme, and who had resigned last week as deputy leader, won the vote to replace him. (Both are Conservatives.) The debate was watched live via the internet by around 4,400 people. Continue reading “Further reading: the Cornwall council and NHS outsourcing rebellion”

NHS commissioning support units: CSU-zy names, CSU-zy regions

As noted in May, the eventual names of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have ended up being sensible and a bit dull – with the exception of appropriately-independent NHS Kernow CCG (Cornwall). But this is not the case for commissioning support units, which will provide a range of services to CCGs behind the scenes. Firstly, there’s been an in-flight change of generic name – CSUs were firstly known as commissioning support services, then they weren’t.

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Roadside cameras suffer from large gaps in coverage, police admit

Automatic number plate recognition cameras stay secret after freedom of information tribunal told of patchy picture

I first applied for the location of police ANPR cameras under Freedom of Information (FOI) three years ago. This article, below and on page 14 of today’s Guardian, is the result of, in effect, a successful failure for FOI. In June, the Information Tribunal reversed its 2011 decision that Devon and Cornwall Police should release its camera locations. However, the evidence the force provided to this year’s tribunal, both written and verbal, sheds new light on the functioning of these systems. Continue reading “Roadside cameras suffer from large gaps in coverage, police admit”

NHS clinical commissioning groups drop odd names, adopt boring ones

The NHS Commissioning Board last week published a new list of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), which will take over from primary care trusts in April 2013 in running primary care in England. As I was remapping the list for Guardian Healthcare Network (the map is also below), three things were striking about the new list: it’s shorter (212 ’emerging’ CCGs as opposed to 268 before); there are now far fewer very small CCGs; and the rich profusion of odd names in previous lists has been stamped out. Continue reading “NHS clinical commissioning groups drop odd names, adopt boring ones”