Visit to One Trafford

This morning, I went with a cross-party selection of Trafford Councillors to Tatton House in Baguley which is the main base for the mix of council and Amey staff that make up the Trafford Partnership.

I really dislike the Amey contract – it places far too much control in the hands of a private company. The visit hasn’t changed my personal view that in 2028 we have to say that the contract won’t be extended. I’m not totally against contracting out services like bin collections, most councils do it, but Trafford’s almost complete handover was ridiculous and not a model that others have followed.

Despite my abhorrence of the arrangement, the staff that work from Baguley are excellent. It’s a tragic constant of privatisation, whether it’s the water utilities pumping sewage into rivers or different modes of public transport, the staff on the ground always do their best.

There are successes, our recycling rates are high. We compete with Stockport as to who has the best recycling in GM. There is a real prize for reducing it further as we pay more in the waste levy than we spend on the entire Amey operation, which begs the questions as to how can we increase recycling further. What is the upper limit subject to current practices of packaging etc?

I think it’s also worth asking what the incentives are to people for whom there are much more pressing priorities than the council making a saving. For a lot of people, the link between their well-being and council finances is more tenuous than some councillors assume is a given. We can do more with communities both in terms of empowerment and delegating spending.

Achieved a success whilst there in the offer of an extra marked disabled space to Lostock Court on Barton Road. They’ve had two spaces for years, but pressures and changing need caused some of the residents to come to me last year (it’s taken that long) to ask for an additional space. A letter will be going out soon making that offer. I’m really pleased with that.

It was an enjoyable and informative visit. There’s some real stars there on both sides of the contract divide. As always, I really welcome your feedback particularly on the One Trafford arrangements.



2 responses to “Visit to One Trafford”

  1. Andrew Gould avatar
    Andrew Gould

    I don’t think you can compare privatisation with the Amey contract which is outsourcing. From memory some golden rules of outsourcing are:

    • Don’t outsource core functions (non-core would be the staff restaurant etc). Public services are core functions.
    • Don’t outsource your problems. Problem functions don’t get magically better because someone else is responsible.
    • Remember that you are still accountable for outsourced services. Whilst you can tell ‘customers’ it was someone else who screwed up it’s still your problem.
    • You are outsourcing a defined set of services. You cannot expect flexibility outside of what is defined in the contract without paying a premium.
    • Service providers are always going to be better at negotiating than you are.

    I could go on but I think that every one of these points was ignored at the Amey contracts inception and again at the 7 year review. I personally could not believe the Highways Manager telling councillors that he expected Amey employees would want to give a little bit extra in their own time because they enjoyed their jobs so much.

    So here we are. We’ve had a review and a year down the line my personal opinion is that, with the exception of bins, the service is worse than it was last year. All the guff about SLA’s hasn’t come to pass. One Trafford is in chaos. It’s telling that the person on the council side that once had ‘improvement’ in their job tile no longer does but earns much more.

    1. Mike Cordingley avatar

      I’m probably stretching the semantics calling it privatisation, but wanted to stress the extent to which management of important and complex services is divested from the town hall to a contractor.

      I generally agree with your summary, it was a bad contract at inception and it’s still bad.

I love hearing your views