Devon may soon be the only non-unitised county in this part of the South West – but for how long?

So, Somerset is moving towards a unitary authority (see below). Inevitable really, isn’t it.

The new HQ for the already combined Taunton Deane and West Somerset authority is ten minutes walk from Somerset County Hall. Taunton Deane and West Somerset are intending to spend £11 million altering their building to accommodate their merger requirements – when Somerset County Hall has a lot of spare capacity.

Meanwhile EDDC proceeds apace with Blackdown House, their new HQ in Honiton, at a minimum cost of £10m – and an ultimate cost of probably MUCH more than that – without at any factoring into their calculations of the likelihood of a unitary Devon proposal similarly coming forward with the same arguments for big savings.

EDDC’s consultants apparently estimated the open market value of Blackdown House on completion of the building to be £3 million. Given the current economic situation, even that might be optimistic.

So a potential BIG loss looming – with the local taxpayer picking up the bills? And that’s if HQ builder Interserve s

If Somerset goes unitary, that will be Somerset, Cornwall and Wiltshire all unitary and Dorset double unitary. Devon will be an anachronistic exception.

Has Devon County Council leader John Hart anything to tell us?

And Owl bets soon-to-be-ex-Leader Paul Diviani may be very pleased with the timing of his exit!

Would you take business advice for your small business from our Local Enterprise Council/Serco?

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership is obsessed with growth, mostly because it has promised an over abundance of it.

So, it is interesting to receive an email from their “Growth Hub” to see what it promises:

https://www.heartofswgrowthhub.co.uk/

Well that’s nice – they offer advice. Always helpful, though Owl guesses it depends where the advice comes from.

Is it from those “business leaders” on the Board of the LEP? Or one of the board member councillors (though many of those seem to have had either little business experience, none at all, or so long ago that computers hadn’t bedn invented).

No, scroll down to the bottom of the email and you get:

Our mailing address is:

Serco Employment, Skills and Enterprise
Envoy House
61 Longbridge Road
Plymouth, Devon PL6 8LU
United Kingdom

A company which offers outsourcing services all over the world, particularly in the UK.

So what does Wikipedia have to say about Serco?

“The 2017 Paradise Papers revealed that Appleby carried out a risk assessment of Serco and noted it had a “history of problems, failures, fatal errors and overcharging” and had faced allegations of fraud and cover-ups.”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serco

and an article in The Guardian saying that, in Australia, outsourcing with Serco is “an accident waiting to happen”:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/apr/23/outsourcing-ndis-contact-centres-to-serco-an-accident-waiting-to-happen

and a Telegraph Business article headed:

“Serco recovery still on ‘long and winding’ road, says boss Soames”

The boss of troubled outsourcer Serco has warned that its road to recovery will be “long and winding” as its strategy to concentrate on providing services to governments means it is exposed to political changes.

Rupert Soames said the business’s five-year plan remained on track, after its shares were hit when the company today announced that last year its revenues fell by 13pc to just over £3bn … .

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/02/22/serco-recovery-still-long-winding-road-says-boss-soames/