Somerset County Council is renegotiating its contract with South West One – the controversial company that runs ‘back-office’ services for various local authorities.

The partnership, set up in 2007, involves Somerset County Council, Taunton Deane Council, Avon and Somerset Police and IBM.

It has involved outsourcing various council responsibilities like customer services, payroll, some finance operations, and human resources.

When started, the £600million contract was touted as being able to save the county council £180million over its ten-year lifetime, but, as reported by the County Gazette, it is now forecast to fall well-short of that target.

Now a the county council is setting up a panel, made up of the ruling Conservative group and opposition LibDems to examine the possibility of bringing some staff and services back in-house.

The council says that due to the commercial nature of the talks, details will not be made public.

Southwest One has been criticised for its high levels of secrecy since the outset while other critics see it as creating another layer of unnecessary costs.

Last month, we exclusively revealed how security passwords for every school website were allegedly published online at its site due to a mishap at Southwest One.

For more details on the story, see this week’s Somerset County Gazette.