The West Lancashire Front Organisation For Serco

This was posted on the website of then Cllr Paul Cotterill

on 13 March 2011 “West Lancashire Leisure Trust, the front organisation for Serco in West Lancashire, met on March 8th. As ever, it met behind closed door to discuss public money and public services. On the agenda, I understand, was the question of whether it should accept a voluntary reduction in its subsidy from West Lancashire Borough Council as its contribution to helping the Council deal with the massive cuts imposed by government.

As I’ve set out previously, a cut to the subsidy in line with the cuts to the council budget would mean an extra £150,000 in 2011-12 or so for the Council to maintain jobs and services. Serco and the Leisure Trust decided they would rather not bother with social responsibility. Presumably the shareholders might get upset”.

He also wrote “As I’ve reported, West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust met last night. On the agenda was a discussion about whether it would accept, effectively on behalf of its delivery partners Serco (because the Trust itself has little money), whether it would take a voluntary reduction in the subsidy paid to it by the Council.

“I had written to Trustees to suggest that a reasonable reduction might be on the same lines as the reduction in the central government grant to West Lancashire Borough Council. It was, I suggested, reasonable that Serco’s shareholders share the same pain, in monetary value terms, as West Lancashire’s residents.

“I do know what was discussed at the meeting, and I do not know what proposals may or may not have been put on the table. The fact that I am not allowed this information, even though I have asked specifically for it, is a matter of democratic deficit,
but I won’t go on about that here. What I have been told is that no decision was made by the Trustees last night, and that the matter will be considered further at the next board meeting on March 8th. This is on a matter which was first raised with the board in the Autumn, and I am unclear as to why a decision could not be taken last night.

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“The consequence of a failure to take a decision, however, is clear enough. The council’s budget will be set on 23rd February, and those setting the budget will need to assume that, as under the present contract, they need to fork out in the order of a million pounds to the Trust in continuing subsidy. This means that items of expenditure that might have been included in the budget, had a voluntary reduction been announced, will not be included in that budget.

“Just as handy examples, that might have included expenditure on concessionary travel for older and disabled people, or even the funding of free swimming for children under 16. The Leisure Trust and Serco have serious questions to answer on this matter, and I’ll keep on asking them, because that it my job as an elected representative, irrespective of how much information is withheld from me”.

And in 2020, you might assume the front organisation for Serco is the Labour West Lancashire Borough Council as it still hides from the public what the public will be still paying Serco for…how very un-Cotterill of them!

He was a governor of the Lathom High School which in 2017 wrote of him “Paul trained as a nurse and worked in London and Switzerland before moving to Bangladesh to work in urban slum primary health care and nutrition for a number of years. After spells in India and Tanzania, he returned to the UK and became involved in urban regeneration and community development work.

He has been a trustee to several charities in the West Lancashire area, and has had governance roles in primary and higher education before taking on his role at Lathom High School. He has also been a magistrate and a Non-Executive Director in the NHS. In a fund raising event he completed a charity cycle ride from Lands’ End to John O’Groats. He still enjoys a decent game of cricket especially being a left arm swing bowler, despite being very clearly over the hill and more suited to umpiring. Don’t ever get him on his favourite author, Franz Kafka, or he’ll bore you to tears”.

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