From PFI to PF2 – Business as usual for Carillion!

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We cannot give a guarantee that Carillion will not sell their equity investment in the Midland Metropolitan Hospital PF2 in the future.

This was the answer of Richard Samuda, chair of the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital Trust to a public question at last week’s Trust AGM and responding to the concern about profiteering by private companies from the sale of assets paid for by the taxpayer.

Local NHS campaigners questioned Carillion’s track record as a major PFI contractor of selling on their historic PFI equity investments with returns of 15 – 17%. The Midland Metropolitan Hospital will be the first major NHS construction scheme to be funded under the new national PF2 scheme.

After explaining that under PF2 that the Treasury has an equity stake and an increased say by the taxpayer in individual schemes, Mr Samuda confirmed this does not prevent PF2 contractors from the selling of their equity stake as under historic PFI schemes.

The new 670 bed Midland Metropolitan Hospital which is due to open in 2018 will replace City and Sandwell General Hospitals. Carillion has been left as the sole bidder in the procurement for the multi-million pound contract to build and then maintain the new Midland Metropolitan Hospital over a possible 30 year period. This follows the withdrawal of two other Companies from the competition for the contract leaving Carillion in prime position as the procurement reaches its final stages.

The 2012 Treasury Committee inquiry into Private Finance Initiative found PFI procurements to be uncompetitive and a market only open to a small number of companies able to meet the costs of preparing bids. The Birmingham TUC Health Campaign Committee is concerned that Carillion has significant commercial advantage by being left as the sole bidder for a contract of this size.

At the Hospital Trust AGM the campaign questioned the Trust decision to go ahead with the procurement with Carillion as a single bidder and whether value for money could be ensured. The response of the Chief Executive, Toby Lewis was that both the Treasury and the DoH had given the green light to moving ahead to complete the procurement with Carillion alone. In these circumstances the Trust had introduced an additional challenge to compare the costings of the companies that would supply Carillion in constructing the new hospital.

Although we were told that the meeting was an important opportunity for the public to scrutinise the Board’s on the Trusts activities a question about Carillion’s history of blacklisting workers and trade unionists was avoided.

The question as to why the Hospital Trust was seeking to contract with a company that has illegally ‘blacklisted’ workers was met with a single sentence response from Mr Samuda that the Trust had exercised due diligence in the shortlisting of possible contractors.

While the Trust Board is currently giving consideration to the BMA’s campaign to ethically source surgical instrumentation it is unclear what ethical standards if any were applied by the Trust to shortlisting the companies for this important contract.

Many of the criticisms of the historic PFI schemes still stand in relation to the PF2 schemes, such as Midland Metropolitan Hospital that are now coming on stream; those criticisms are of widespread market failure and opportunities for cartels to operate in a uncompetitive market conditions, the lack of effective public accountability in the management of PF2 projects, and the opportunities for private companies to continue to profit from the management of PF2 schemes and from the sale of equity in assets paid for by the taxpayer.
The procurement will be completed by the end of 2015 and barring a miracle Carillion will be awarded the contract to build the new hospital. The Birmingham TUC Health Campaign/ KONP will continue to challenge the impact of the Midland Metropolitan Hospital PF2 on the planned restructuring of local health services and loss of beds and health care professionals.

Get involved in the Health Campaign of the BTUC/KONP by contacting btuchcc@hotmail.com

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Labour Leadership Hustings: Questions for Labour Party members

Urge your Birmingham Labour Councillors to reverse the Library cutbacks

£88.8 million was spent on the New Library; it was opened by Malala and now is an international tourist attraction. Unfortunately the tourists from Sydney, Australia have arrived to find the Library closed. Hundreds of young people and others have turned up on a Sunday or after 5 pm and been turned away expressing considerable frustration. BBC Midlands, ITV, Birmingham Post and Mail have run numerous programmes and reports indicating the anger of many in the Birmingham population in what can only be described as cultural and educational vandalism. Unfortunately the Labour Council has made no case to the government for extra funding to maintain these valuable services.

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Sir Albert: ‘There will be a discontinuation of services that the council currently provides.’

At the public meeting of the Birmingham Improvement Panel on 11th June 2015 Panel members challenged the Council leadership as to how they planned to make further substantial cuts to Council services over the next two years.

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I wanna sing, I wanna shout – Who Rules Busking? Join the buskers’ protest against the amplification ban – Monday 22 June 4pm outside Waterstones

Have you heard about the proposed amplification ban on buskers in Birmingham? Want to say something about it?

Next week we want to make a movement to bring people together on the topic.
Whether you’re a musician or not, if you’ve got something to say, join the march.

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City centre Budget day protest 8 July 5-6.30

Birmingham against the Cuts has agreed to call a Budget day protest at 5 – 6.30 pm on Wednesday 8th July outside Waterstones at the Bull Ring.

The budget will almost certainly contain brutal cuts in working family credit which will hit the working poor, and the removal of housing benefit from young people under 25. This will hit young parents particularly hard, many of whom could be evicted from their homes.

BATC is also organising a lobby of the Labour Leadership hustings from 10.15 am on Saturday 27th June. The central Birmingham venue has not been announced yet but will probably be the ICC or the

Council House – more details later. A statement with the following themes will be distributed.

  1. An appeal for Labour Party members to contact their Labour Councillors to oppose cutbacks in the new city Library
  1. Opposition to the Labour Council’s proposal to ban the use of amplification equipment in the City Centre
  1. A call for the Labour Leadership and LP members to support the resistance of the Greek people to demands by the EU Commission and the IMF for more austerity.

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Say No to this attack on free speech and democratic rights – consultation deadline extended to 29 June

The city council is planning to ban loudspeakers and amplification in the whole of the city centre. The consultation period has been extended to 29 June. Please send in your response to protect this democratic right to www.birminghambeheard.org.uk/place/the-introduction-of-public-spaces-protection-order

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Urgent: Say No to this attack on free speech and democratic rights

The city council is planning to ban loudspeakers and amplification in the whole of the city centre. There is a consultation survey which ends on June 22nd. Please send in your response urgently to protect this democratic right.

Last Saturday a large crowd outside the Council House heard speakers and poets supporting the Library campaign. They were able to be heard because there was a microphone. In future, if the Council have their way, this will be banned.

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