Following on from the ongoing arguments surrounding problems within Medway Commercial Group, we sent the following question to all councillors:
Do you feel Medway Commercial Group continues to provide good value for money for Medway taxpayers?
As usual, we told everyone that their answers would be published entirely unedited. They are presented below in the order they were received.
I am away on holiday so I will not be able to respond until 16 March.
Paul Godwin, Labour, Chatham Central
Naushabah Khan, Labour, Gillingham South
Our manifesto launched last weekend has made clear that the Labour Group has no confidence in MCG as an entity for a variety of reasons including the fact it is does not provide good value for Medway taxpayers, whether financially or more importantly in the manner it has managed services.
Tristan Osborne, Labour, Luton and Wayfield
Pat Cooper, Labour, Gillingham North
As you are already aware, Medway Council & MCG have commissioned an audit, along with a full review of current operations. We are awaiting the outcome of that audit, and I am reliably informed, an independent outside specialists’ advice may also be sought. In addition, MCG provide a valuable service in relation to Telecare in looking after the more vulnerable members of our society, along with the monitoring of the Medway Tunnel ensuring road safety. So it’s not just about CCTV. So, until that audit has been completed, and any potential recommendations implemented, only then can we decide on the value of the service to the people of Medway.
Gary Etheridge, Conservative, Strood Rural
As you may be aware, Cllr Doe, the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holders for Housing and Community services has implemented a review into Medway Commercial Group and as such, I feel that it would be unfair to comment either way at this time.
Mark Joy, Conservative, Strood South
No, I don’t believe that MCG does provide value for money. In addition, I have some key concerns about the lack of democratic accountability and the impact of the privatisation of public services which mean I cannot make a reasonable judgement about important aspects of the company’s performance and governance and how well it benefits Medway and our residents. It is shocking how little of MCG’s operations are reported to councillors in terms of performance, community impact and profit/investment ratios. I think MCG is a failed experiment.
Clive Johnson, Labour, Gillingham South
In a word no – there is no doubt in my mind that MCG is a failed experiment.
From handing back the contract for Governor Services which cost taxpayers thousands in unbudgeted expenses to having less than half of CCTV cameras working MCG has let down Medway residents.
There are serious question on the wider issues of governance from a council perspective too with an ongoing audit investigation.
On May 2nd Medway voters have a stark choice. A Labour Council which would put an end to the failed experiment or a Conservative Council which is comfortable with MCG running everything except social services.
Vince Maple, Labour, Chatham Central
While many organisations use wholly owned subsidiaries to deliver services, Medway Council’s MCG is troubling in specific ways: The Council has sought to passport it’s responsibility for services as well as the delivery mechanism which results in a reduction in customer accountability; The Council has not developed adequate oversight of MCG and its operations meaning there is not demonstrable value for money or achievement of the Council’s strategic objectives. In effect it has been set up and simply let off the leash.There is a major difference between private organisations using subsidiaries and the Council doing so, and that is the Council’s customers do not have a choice in paying for Council core services – they have to pay Council Tax – which means there should be a commensurate accountability for the delivery of those services. with no sign of such measures being put in place, it is time for MCG to be rolled back into the Council.
Glyn Griffiths, Labour, Twydall