Below is the text of a letter from Central Hove Councillor Andrew Wealls that was published in the Argus this week:
I was very disappointed that the Labour and Green groups on Brighton and Hove City Council joined forces to kick our initiative on staff-led mutuals into the long grass at our recent full council meeting.
This is something which I’m certain has, in principle, cross party agreement. We need to work together to take it forward.
Staff-led mutuals involve groups of employees (of the council in this case) coming together to take over the running and management of a particular service area from the council.
The concept has been around a long time in the commercial world – look at John Lewis, for example – but is relatively new in the public sector.
An increasing number of staff in councils (both Conservative and Labour-controlled) are pioneering mutuals to deliver services such as home care for elderly and disabled people.
The benefits of mutuals are well-documented and stem from the fact that staff are given greater freedom and flexibility to innovate when released from the dead hand of council bureaucracy.
The evidence so far suggests that, under these conditions, the service received by residents is improved, the cost of delivering the service is reduced and staff pay and conditions are protected – a win-win situation.
This was our offer to the Green administration of Brighton and Hove Council and the Labour Group; please talk to council staff and encourage and support them to take this forward in whatever way works best for everyone.
As Councillor Cox said at the meeting, this is an open offer from the Conservative Group to work together on staff-led mutuals.
We will offer support in discussions with staff, unions, management and customers to devise a model that works best in Brighton and Hove. There is nothing to lose.
Councillor Andrew Wealls, Conservative for Central Hove ward, Brighton and Hove City Council