Waltham Forest pushes through LEA privatisation

26 Jul 01
The London Borough of Waltham Forest has approved its controversial deal with private sector consortium EduAction to privatise its education service.

27 July 2001

The final decision was taken at breakneck speed, passing through the various stages of ratification in a matter of days in defiance of fierce opposition from education staff.

The £200m, five-year contract, accepted by the authority's Cabinet on July 12, was rejected by the scrutiny committee immediately afterwards. But a meeting of the full council on July 18 approved the deal and it was signed within 24 hours.

EduAction, a joint venture between Amey and Nord Anglia, will run all the borough's schools from September.

Tim Harrison, London regional secretary of the National Union of Teachers, told Public Finance that members were concerned how quickly the contract was approved, and objected to the LEA's privatisation.

'We would have expected a far longer run-in period. This would have allowed proper negotiations to take place between EduAction and employees,' he said.

Harrison said that although the NUT had no 'immediate' plans to repeat its one-day strike, staged on July 20 to coincide with the contract signing, its ballot result was still valid.

Graham Moss, EduAction's director of support services, said: 'We will meet the unions and find a way forward.

'We have given a cast-iron guarantee that we will take over existing terms and conditions for staff.'

Under the deal, the council will pay EduAction £15m per year, but services bought directly by schools could net the company up to £40m annually.


Did you enjoy this article?