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Officer Decisions

County Solicitor - Jan Shadbolt, Mary Davis and Rob Parkhouse

Summary of Matter or Issue Requiring Decision:

To agree the future of Babcock Learning and Development Partnership LLP once its Service Contract with Devon County Council (DCC) expires on the 31st July 2022.

Decision Taken:

To wind up the LLP once the Service Contract with DCC expires on the 31st July 2022.

Summary of Reason(s) for Decision Taken:

In 2012 following a public procurement exercise, DCC entered into a joint venture partnership with Babcock Educational Holdings Limited (Babcock) called Babcock Learning and Development Partnership LLP (LLP) and awarded the LLP a Service Contract to deliver DCC’s Education & Inclusion Services (Services). Annually the LLP delivers approximately £8.8 million of services to DCC and £4.2 million services to other local authorities and schools/academies outside of the DCC’s Service Contract (Traded Services).

The Service Contract is due to expire on the 31st July 2022. Cabinet has resolved that the Services will be delivered in-house by DCC from this date.  The LLP does not automatically end with the Service Contract. A decision therefore needs to be taken as to what will happen to the LLP from the 31st July 2022 when the majority of its work is brought into the direct delivery of DCC. On 10th March 2021, Cabinet delegated authority to make this decision to the officers named above in consultation with the Leader and Lead Member.

A Corporate Board was formed to consider the options available for the LLP and external legal advice on those options was obtained. Once the Corporate Board had identified its preferred option, it met with Babcock to discuss and both parties agreed the only viable option from a financial and operational perspective was to wind up the LLP:

  • it would not be financially viable for the LLP to continue and just provide the Traded Services
  • the majority of the LLP staff deliver both the Services and the Traded Services and will therefore TUPE transfer to DCC once the Service Contract ends
  • having the Services and the Traded Services delivered to schools by the same organisation provided continuity of provision to schools with staff they know and trust. Splitting this work between two different organisations – DCC and the LLP – would add an additional level of complexity for management oversight leading to a more fractured offer to schools.

The Leader and Leader Member have been consulted and have approved this option.

Summary of Alternatives or Options considered and rejected:

The other Options potentially available would all involve the LLP continuing to just deliver the Traded Services. These Options were therefore each rejected because (as outlined above) neither Officers or Babcock felt the LLP would be operationally or financially viable once the Service Contract ends and the majority of LLP staff transfer to DCC. 

  1. DCC sell/transfer their member interest to Babcock or a third party. This option was rejected. Babcock do not want to purchase DCC’s member interest and do not want to continue to be a partner in the LLP once the service contract ends. An LLP must have a minimum of 2 partners.
  2. Babcock sell/transfers their member interest to DCC or a third party. This option was rejected. DCC could not continue in the LLP with a replacement third party without running a public procurement exercise. An LLP must have a minimum of 2 partners.
  3. Do nothing – Babcock and DCC continue as members of the LLP to deliver the Traded Services. This option was rejected. Babcock do not want to continue as a member of the LLP and the LLP is not financially or operationally viable once the Service Contract ends.
Details of any conflict of interest and dispensation granted to the Officer taking the decision or by any Member of the Council in delegating responsibility for any specific express delegation:

None

Contact for enquiries/further information:
Kate Bollans (Senior Lawyer) Email: kate.bollans@devon.gov.uk or 01392 383857
Decision Date:
21 June 2021

A copy of this decision and any supporting documentation considered by the Officer taking this decision may also be made available or inspection by the public at the Council’s Offices or posted upon payment of any copying and postage charges. Any member of the public wishing to take up either of these options is asked to please ring 01392 382888 or email: members.services@devon.gov.uk


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