The Express & Star reported today that Wolverhampton City Council has finally made a decision on the £60million 10-year Axon contract to ‘shake-up’ the local authority, and has resolved to call the deal off at an estimated cost of £8million.
Although this money represents another significant blow to the council’s finances, this is surely preferable to having elected members commit to a hugely expensive contract agreed by a previous administration that left the city council with very large debts.
The newspaper reports that although the 1000-page contract had yet to be signed with Surrey-based Axon, 80 of their workers had been deployed to the Civic Centre in May to begin the revamp. The seventeen who remain are expected to depart soon.
This deal might have been billed as the greatest overhaul in Wolverhampton’s history, with flash new computer systems prompting hundreds of redundancies, but beneath the service the value for money element really was dubious.
Spend £60million to save £43million by 2018? This isn’t the sort of equation Wolverhampton residents are fond of hearing, and it really wasn’t the sort of risk a council in trouble should have been taking at taxpayers’ expense.
The Labour group opposition finance spokesman warned of Axon’s possible vengeance against Wolverhampton for pulling out of the agreement, as though the threat of legal action should have been enough to make the council sign and seal the contract and drag staff and local residents along on this £60million pipedream.
If Axon truly specialise in ‘saving councils money’ then I doubt it’d serve its reputation very well to financially cripple one…
Councillors at Wolverhampton took a commendable decision in not pursuing this questionable project, but they should not lose sight of the inspiration behind it, and must push forward making appropriate cut-backs, improving their efficiency and giving council taxpayers value for money.