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Councillors get training to deal with handovers

Evesham Journal: All change at County Hall All change at County Hall

COUNCILLORS in Worcestershire are going to be handed "commercial" training as more services get handed to the private sector.

Your Worcester News can reveal how Worcestershire County Council wants all 57 of its elected politicians to be extensively briefed on how to get the most from any new deals with private companies.

The training, which is taking place at the end of June, comes as the council plans to hand over 85 per cent of services to new providers by 2018.

Under the tactic, known as commissioning, outside organisations are being invited to 'bid' for services and departments.

We can also reveal:

- The council wants to sit councillors down every six weeks for the rest of 2014 to update them on the plans

- The website will be beefed up so it provides the public with extra details on how the process works, the services at risk and what commissioning is about

- It will include a timetable for each service or function, the stage of the process each one is at, and how the public can get involved in any consultations

- A strict set of rules around managing contracts is being developed in-house in the expectation that dozens of deals will be agreed over the coming months

The agreement to provide "commercial" training at County Hall follows some concern councillors will find it difficult to adapt to the rapid pace of change.

That led to a piece of work from Councillor Kit Taylor, a backbench Conservative, who was tasked with leading an in-house investigation into how much involvement they should have.

His requests have been accepted by the Conservative cabinet, which met on Tuesday.

Councillor John Campion, cabinet member for commissioning and transformation, said: "What this does show is the need for a different approach from members of the council."

Under the plan, commissioning will not only include the private sector but the likes of voluntary groups, not-for-profit bodies and charities.

Unison, the main union for the workforce, is hoping co-operatives can be set up by staff to help safeguard as many jobs as possible.

Around 1,500 in-house roles will be axed by 2018 under the blueprint, with the hope as many jobs as possible can be transferred over.

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