Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bigastrin ready to open its doors

The decision to privatise the pre-school Bigastrin caused a great stir in Bigastro. The dismissal of 11 out of the 17 council workers has cost the town 210,000 euros in compensation, a figure that will rise as others make their claims.

Now that phase is over, the good news is that a cooperative of 10 local ladies won the contract and will be opening the doors to the children on September 3rd. They have already started work though by giving the centre a new lick of paint. The ladies say that the service will be improved to include lessons in English and IT and perhaps more important, will be open on Saturdays. The only downside is the cost per month has risen from 90 to 125 euros. However, when you consider that my daughter and son in law pay £40 a day for nursery care for Molly, that is still very cheap.

The ladies, who all have at least a year’s experience of caring for young children, won the contract that will last for five years which could be renewed for further years. They were up against two other companies offering to take over the service and won clearly on points.

Although, Aurelio Mucia could not put a firm figure on it, he estimates the saving to the council to be around 250,000 euros per year.

When I was in charge of finance at Anfield School, we were able to switch contracts from the local authority to commercial firms. The first contract we switched was for cleaning. The company we chose gave us poor service by skimping on hours and materials so we eventually changed to another company who were much better. We also switched from using the council as the payroll provider to a private company. There were some initial hitches which resulted in staff being under or over paid but eventually things did sort themselves out.

What Aurelio will find is that private initiatives may seem to offer a better deal on paper but still have their eye on profitability which can adversely affect the service they provide.

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