Liberal Democrat Councillors at Cornwall Council have called on the Conservative-led Cabinet to bring wide-reaching privatisation proposals before Full Council.

A party spokesman said: "On Monday the Council’s ten-member Cabinet will decide whether to invite bids for the outsourcing of a number of key services, including Libraries, contact centres and IT provision.

"The NHS in Cornwall are also expected to become involved in this process. Once a decision has been taken there is unlikely to be any further involvement from elected representatives and, due to complex ‘evaluation criteria’ there will be no democratic choice over who is awarded the contract."

Jeremy Rowe, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group said: “This is the most important decision this authority will take over the remaining months of the council. Once key services are privatised in this way there will be no turning back."

“There are far too many unanswered questions. How answerable will the new venture be to the people of Cornwall? Why has the Tory-led administration failed to explore other ways of working with the Health sector to save money, such as joining up IT? How much will this ultimately cost the taxpayer?"

“Regrettably it doesn’t seem that the Council’s Cabinet have answers to any of these questions, yet they seem set to push ahead and make a decision. We think it’s vital that these proposals are placed in front of the whole Council, not just the ten Members hand-picked by the Leader.”

Liberal Democrat Finance spokesman, Ann Kerridge added: “Times are changing very fast, the origins of these proposals were in selling the services of Cornwall's skilled housing benefit advisers to other councils. This week councillors were briefed that the government no longer wants councils to administer housing benefit at all. How can we be sure that this contract, which will run for at least ten years, will not similarly be swiftly overtaken?”

Cllr Alex Folkes, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat group said: "With the recent transfer of waste and recycling collection to a new service provider, Cornwall's Conservative leadership proved incapable of getting basic services right. This proposal is far more complex and would be catastrophic if it went wrong. Residents will be concerned about their ability to get it right."

"We are particularly concerned about the future of library and face to face services. Cornwall's Conservative leadership, which considered closing all but nine libraries just over a year ago, now wants a private company to run them as some sort of 'loss leader'. We cannot see anything but a bleak future under this privatisation proposal for a service we should be proud of."