Somerset County Council and Taunton Deane District Council signed a £400m Strategic Service-delivery Partnership contract with IBM in September 2007. The Joint Venture Company, Southwest One, is the first SSP to have a framework agreement to enable other local authorities and public bodies to obtain services bypassing the procurement process. It is also the first to potentially include a Police Authority as a partner (Avon and Somerset Police Authority negotiating to join the partnership) and the first to combine secondment with a 10-year assurance to staff in the founding authorities. This report exposes the unprecedented use of commercial confidentiality in the procurement process, identifies effective ways for UNISON to respond to the new agenda and ensure a good industrial relations framework in Southwest One. It also proposes regional and national public policy changes to improve the accountability and transparency of options appraisal and procurement processes.
58,000 .pdf and .doc files were downloaded from the ESSU website in 2007, a 45% increase on the previous year. Readership is even wider because many documents are circulated by other organisations. The figures exclude the downloading of material in .html format. Although most users are from Europe, North America and Japan, the website statistics show that ESSU reports have a global audience.