Take a quick look at your surroundings and you will see that almost everything you own, and services you use, are provided by dynamic private companies.
Who would ever suggest that the government, and especially the local council, could provide these goods and services?
There are “public goods”, such as road repairs and waste collections, that are paid for from our taxes, and these can be delivered by a mix of private companies or the council. Yes, we live in a “mixed economy”.
This highly competitive environment has enabled us to enjoy hitherto undreamed of living standards while a proportion of our taxes has been allocated to provide a safety net for those in society who are unable to benefit from this dynamic environment.
This is why I was shocked by a 2017 Labour manifesto commitment stating: “We will act to ‘insource’ our public and local council services as preferred providers.”
Jeremy Corbyn, and his Momentum-backed followers, have decided that local councils will, if they were to take power, not just pay for but also deliver all of our council services even if they are less efficient, potentially wasting billions.
Ten years ago, the Conservative administration in Brighton and Hove signed a contract with Mears Group to perform the maintenance on council owned housing and leasehold stock.
Acknowledging that any large contract will always have flaws, the Mears contract resulted in 100 per cent of council homes now meeting the Decent Homes Standard and over £100 million saved through efficiencies that was spent on making further improvements to our housing stock.
A couple of weeks ago the Labour administration won a vote in committee, supported by the Greens, that enabled the signing of a contract for the delivery of maintenance repairs that would be provided by – and incredibly checked by – the council.
Council officers also admitted that this contract would also cost an extra £3 million to deliver over the next five years. Wow!
Labour, and its Momentum backers, are expecting to take control of the council next May. I shudder to think how much more would they be able to waste should we allow this to happen.
Councillor Tony Janio is the leader of the opposition Conservative group on Brighton and Hove City Council.