AT A time when the city council is cutting its budget, having to make radical changes to services and has just announced a pay freeze for 7,000 employees, you can be excused for raising an eyebrow at today’s revelation that companies working for them have contracts that deliver them £9m in profits.
Some of the most high-profile companies in the city such as Kier, Veolia and Capita have won contracts netting them a tidy profit.
It is perfectly understandable and common practice that councils outsource some of their services.
Companies tendering for those contracts will be able to provide those services more cheaply and have the relevant expertise in those areas.
For example, the reason why the council no longer runs its road maintenance operation is because a company that has the expertise and experience will be far better at delivering the service more cheaply.
As a result, we would also not expect any company to do this purely for the love of providing a service.
Businesses are in business to make money and often to give shareholders a return on their investment.
But at a time when the council faces such financial restrictions, the figure of £9m does raise questions about whether those in charge should be trying to renegotiate those contracts to help the authority’s finance.
As taxpayers we would expect our council to negotiate the best deal possible and to put pressure on those profiting from the contracts to be putting a little back into the public coffers.
Press the button
SMOKE alarms can make the difference between life and death.
This is why we launched our Press The Button fire safety campaign and if you ever doubted it, read the story of a man who was led to safety by firefighters after neighbours heard his alarm.
He was asleep and had his neighbours not woken, there is a every chance this incident could have ended in tragedy.
Thankfully, disaster was averted, proving once again how a working smoke alarm is an essential part of your home.
Putting buzz back
CHAPEL Walk in the city centre should be a little boutique shopping quarter attracting a different type of retailer and shopper. Sadly, the buzz from this arcade has dimmed.
So we are delighted to see this new initiative to incubate a new type of retailer to the area. Let us hope it is a success and the experiment can be extended to breathe new life into an important part of our city.