MORE than a third of council jobs in Burnley could be 'privatised' under a potential £118million deal which will revolutionise town hall services in East Lancashire.

An advert has been placed in the European Journal for a 10-year contract, affecting the futures of at least 125 staff at Burnley, and worth £37million, with savings of 15 per cent being sought.


And Pendle and Rossendale Councils have signed up to be potential future partners, which could affect approximately 200 more workers employed by both boroughs.

Union leaders in Burnley are hoping that the wholesale changes, affecting the council's customer services, environmental health and licensing, payroll, IT, revenues and benefits and property management units, will at least be diluted if Labour nationally win power next May.

The Lancashire Telegraph understands that the scope of the Burnley arm of the deal could have been even wider, but a decision was taken to keep the development control and engineering sections 'in-house'.

The authority must save £3million from its budget before 2016-17 and is pressing ahead with outsourcing as part of its Change Programme."

Peter Thorne, Burnley Council Unison branch secretary, said: "There is nothing in here which surprises us - but it will be at least 12 months before these contracts are awarded and there is a General Election next May.

"Labour has said it will examine the depth of the cuts being made and will look at spending in areas where it is needed."

Council bosses in Burnley are leading the major tendering exercise, on behalf of Pendle Council and Rossendale Council, and its new sports and arts arm, Burnley Leisure.

A Burnley Council spokesman said the primary purpose was 'to deliver savings to contribute to future financial pressures'.

"Potential partners will also be asked for their ideas on how technology could be used to improve services, how jobs could be protected and how they could assist the council in building on its success for economic development and creating local jobs,” he said.

Pendle's requirement is for £6.7million per year, for environmental health, facilities management and property services, customer services, council tax and housing benefits and payroll.

Currently the borough has a deal with Liberata, covering all these areas except environmental health, which is due to run for another six years.

Dean Langton, the council's head of central and regeneration services, said: “Our award-winning public private partnership with Liberata runs until 2020.

"Inclusion in Burnley’s procurement process may give the council options for the delivery of these services beyond that date."

Only council tax and housing benefits and customer services would be outsourced by the Rossendale authority - the contract is still worth £1.4million per year.

Their deal with Capita runs out in 2016 and council officers and senior councillors will begin reviewing their options next year.

Rossendale's chief executive Helen Lockwood said: "Rossendale Council has included its name in the procurement process as this is a technical requirement should the council wish to engage with the contract provider in the future."

The development is only the latest twist in local government services, with a number already handled by external contractors.

Waste and refuse services are handled for Burnley by the French-owned multinational Veolia.

Rossendale has sought joint working arrangements with Hyndburn in areas such as pest control, emergency planning and waste, recycling and transport management.

The lead authority yesterday held a 'bidder's event' at Burnley's Towneley Hall, to provide more information to would-be interested parties.