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MP welcomes Southwest One-IBM review

'Local authorities should take extra care'

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A panel of councillors at Somerset CC is conducting a review of the council's joint venture with IBM.

The review, which is being conducted by the controlling Conservative group and the opposition Liberal Democrats, will take several months to report. It has been welcomed by Somerset Conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger, who has made frequent criticisms of the joint venture, which also involves Taunton Deane DC and Avon and Somerset Police.

"Southwest One declared losses of £2.5m to December 2008 and is facing losses ten times worse in the current period," Liddell-Grainger told GC News. "IBM already has a tarnished track record for central government projects. Other local authorities should take extra care before signing up."

Somerset CC said that Somerset One's published accounts showed a "small loss" for the first year, but that this was projected, and that it expects the joint venture will break even in its seventh year.

The review will be chaired by John Wilkins, a councillor with 30 years experience in finance and auditing. "I promised to look at the deal to make sure it's the best possible one for the people of Somerset," said council leader Ken Maddock. "The panel chairman has huge experience in the financial sector, and I'm also pleased that the opposition spokesman has also agreed to be part of the panel."

The Conservatives campaigned against Southwest One, which aims to save the council £150m over 10 years, as part of their successful campaign to take control of Somerset CC from the Liberal Democrats in last year's local elections. The review formally started in February.

This article was originally published at Kable.

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