Craig Dearden-Phillips, Lib Dem Suffolk County Councillor for Bury St Edmunds, is an advocate of spinning off public services to social businesses and mutuals. He runs a company called Stepping Out which aims to help services make the change.
The vital factor appears to be the benefits of freedom both strategically and operationally. Getting away from a much larger public body seems to have a powerful galvanising effect.
But warning signs abound. A trickle of spin-outs has not yet turned into a flood. Few councils, it appears, are looking seriously at this option, choosing instead to cut their inhouse services and tender them out.
Now, this is interesting in a week when Judy Terry, cabinet member responsible for libraries, announced the intention to form a Community Interest Company to run Suffolk libraries. The scheme remains vague as no details have yet been given.
But it has engendered a lot of interest in exactly what Deaden-Phillips is writing about. He finds that there is a need for leaders and concludes:
It remains in the balance whether potential leaders of new mutuals are encouraged and nurtured – or made to walk through fire before stepping out.
I would very much like to hear his thoughts on possible futures for Suffolk libraries. But I hope he will avoid jargon: what on earth does “public bodies need a ‘playbook'” mean?