The concept of handing over council services wholesale to a private company will fill many Northumberland residents with a sense of foreboding.
You only have to look at the record of public-private sector partnerships elsewhere in the country to see that this is a move which is fraught with problems.
When care provider Southern Cross went bust, local authorities were left to pick up the pieces, at enormous cost to the taxpayer. Metronet, which abandoned its refurbishment of the London Underground, cost the public £410million.
These are just two examples of many. But what is perhaps most concerning is the idea of handing over democratic accountability to what will be a profit-led business. How much influence can elected councillors have over officers who are partners, rather than employees, of the local authority?
When public interest ceases to outweigh corporate profit margins, it inevitably leads to one thing – a deterioration in services in pursuit of financial gain. If it’s not cost-effective, it will most likely be cut. Rural bus subsidies spring to mind.
This cannot be allowed.