England

Outsource plan for some Durham County Council services

Scientific and specialist technical services in County Durham could be supplied by outside contractors, in a move aimed at saving cash.

The county council's cabinet is being asked to approve the closure of its scientific services, and its civil and geotechnical engineering laboratories.

A review concluded that they could not continue in their present form without significant ongoing investment.

It found that the most cost-effective option would be alternative providers.

The geotechnical engineering laboratory provides a range of services including site investigation, engineering materials testing and carriageway assessment.

Scientific services are responsible for food safety and consumer protection and provide testing services.

Staff implications

Councillor Bob Young, cabinet member for strategic environment and leisure, described the services as high performing and of high quality, but also costly at a time when the council was facing increasing pressures on its budget.

"All options have been carefully considered including expanding or reducing the services, retaining them in their present forms, partnership working and using alternative providers," he said.

"Each option was assessed against a set of criteria including the impact on service delivery, costs and the implications for staff.

"Evidence from the review showed that the services cannot continue in their present form without significant ongoing investment by the council and the most cost effective option would be to use alternative providers."

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