Monthly Archives: March 2018

The Corporate Take Over of Everything

Amey is one of those corporate entities that take over just about everything and anything. They have a website just like their competitors, who like them are Jacks-of-all-trades but masters of none. Why have I chosen Amey. Just because it is currently in the news concerning Liverpool prison. When I searched for Amey and Liverpool it wasn’t the prison that came up but the council which is ending Amey’s contract six years early on its failure to run the street services effectively to keep the city’s streets clean. Liverpool has gone back to doing its own thing setting up a company.

In 2003-4 I came across Amey when I was Cabinet Member for Transportation and Street Services in Birmingham. Lucky Birmingham won a PFI contract to deal with the upkeep of roads, street lighting and everything else. I had oversight of the in-house services at the time. The work force were from my experience diligent and performed relatively well with resources available. Not being a fan of PFI I found myself in a difficult position. One measure recommended to me by a fellow councillor in Yorkshire was to have the work force seconded rather than handed over lock stock and barrel to whoever won the contract. Who won, well it was wonderful, sweet Amey who now have oversight of all. At least I think so. Just now outside as I write there is a van with a team of contractors lopping the trees in the street. It display the name “Acorn Group”. Maybe Amey doesn’t do this but prefers to subcontract in some areas.

S how are things going now in Birmingham. The PFI runs for some 20 years yet. The Birmingham press reports claim and counter claim with councillors saying what a bad state the roads are in and Amey responding by saying that Birmingham was ‘maintenance-light” in the years prior to them inheriting the street maintenance contract. One would have thought that the state of things would be pretty clear when drawing up a contract. I can only speak for myself by saying that the garage I use reported that I have “square wheels” on my car due to the pot holes that abound. They certainly weren’t like this before!

Back to news I was searching for. Amey and Liverpool Prison. The report is about the sacking of whistle blowers who dared to say what a state the prison is in. Not that Liverpool is alone, Winson Green in Birmingham recently faced riots. It’s not “run” by Amey, but another similar outfit which is a long-standing joke – G4S.

Over the years privatisations have typically ended in tears. It wasn’t just the Tories who followed the Chilean experiment under Pinochet. Milton Friedman led the charge from Chicago which put profits before all, in particular human beings. The system is broken. But who will fix it. The EU is predicated on the “Neo’liberal” model to which gave rise to unfettered Capitalism, and is followed by many politicians in Europe and across the world wooed by lobbyists. In Westminster it is the culture which it appears impossible to break. It seems to me those who want Brexit see that as the only chance of dealing with it – from the left, not the right which has got all the news that it is racist and xenophobic. Maybe that’s true of UKIP and the tory right, but not of those of the many that objected to the corporate take over over of everything.

Like others of its ilk Amey has a web site extolling its virtues and how it benefits so many of us. It advertises jobs. Questions to be asked include how good are pay and conditions? Are unions functioning? What happens to profits? Do they pay tax or have they off-shore havens? Typically sites spout “values” they supposedly uphold. You can look at others: Capita (known here in Birmingham as “Crapita” – it has run the City Council at some expense for some years, oh dear….), Serco, KPMG (also active from time to time in Brum).

What goes on behind the backdoor between these financial service giants and their new ways of amusing wealth is reported regularly in the local press. Hospitality is one of the themes regularly picked u
Coming back to Europe we can note the Germany’s GDP is strongly supported by its industry. Italy also has an industry but not having the clout of Germany is susceptible to takeovers. France for example has its eye on Italian communications while strongly protecting its own interests. In the 1970’s Britain’s GDP was based on 80% manufacturing and 20% service industries. This has reversed with service industries continuing to grow. The new way with money is to make more from it, both real and virtual creating bubbles which inevitably burst. It is not a question whether it will happen – like a volatile volcano – but when. To argue against the “progress” that is proclaimed is to be likened to the dinosaur. We want to go backwards. Well if it is to discard what is regarded as progress described in this article we urgently need to retrench!