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Southwest One

Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 1 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) if she will place in the Library a copy of the business case related to the provision of public services by single joint venture partnerships; and if she will make a statement; (194931)

(2) what estimate she has made of forecast effects on costs of the procurement of local services by Southwest One, broken down by area of service provision;

(3) what assessment she has made of the effects on existing local services in Somerset County Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council of the recent contract with Southwest One; and if she will make a statement;

(4) how much was paid from the public purse to IBM (a) prior to and (b) in connection with the establishment of (i) the joint venture partnership in the South West and (ii) Southwest One.

The Department has not been involved in the process of developing the Southwest One partnership. The questions that you raise in relation to Southwest One are for Somerset county council and Taunton Deane borough council to answer. With respect to policy, we believe that councils can gain greater value for money through joint venture partnerships in some cases. Councils should, therefore, consider this as a potential option where appropriate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what contractual provisions on (a) accountability, (b) audit and (c) assurance of value for money there are in the agreement between Taunton Deane Borough Council and South West One over the provision of public services; what contractual provisions there are in the agreement relating to the role of the Audit Commission; and if she will make a statement; (194137)

(2) who is on the permanent board of Southwest One;

(3) what estimate she has made of the effect on costs to the public purse of the contract with Southwest One in each of the next five years, broken down by public sector client;

(4) what her policy is on the provision of (a) further public services and (b) public services to further public sector clients by Southwest One beyond the borders of the South West Regional Development Agency; and if she will make a statement;

(5) what the cost of the contract for the provision of services by Southwest One has been to date; how much has been allocated for such provision in each of the next three years; and if she will make a statement;

(6) what estimate she has made of the effect on costs to the public purse of the contract with Southwest One in (a) 2007-08 and (b) 2008-09; and if she will make a statement;

(7) what process was followed in appointing IBM as preferred bidder to join Somerset County Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council in establishing the joint venture partnership Southwest One; what her role was in this process; and if she will make a statement;

(8) if she will make a statement on the future of public service provision by Southwest One; and what her policy is on the outsourcing of local services to joint venture partnerships.

The Department has not been involved in the process of developing the Southwest One partnership. The questions that you raise in relation to Southwest One are for Somerset county council and Taunton Deane borough council to answer.

With respect to policy, we believe that councils can gain greater value for money through joint venture partnerships in some cases. Councils should, therefore, consider this as a potential option where appropriate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions took place with (a) the South West Regional Development Agency and (b) the Government Office of the South West prior to the contract with Southwest One for the provision of public services being finalised. (194148)

As part of their normal interaction with Somerset county council and Taunton Deane borough council, the South West of England Regional Development Agency and the Government office for the south-west were both aware of the developing proposals for Southwest One, but they had no formal discussions with either the local authorities concerned or the Department about it.