Health workers' union Unison has accused Westminster City Council of "putting private profit before public safety" in its proposals to privatise more of its safety enforcement work.
The union also claims that Westminster's plans to contract-out food safety, health and safety, and trading standards enforcement "raises serious questions about conflict of interest, potential for corruption and lack of independence."
But Jonathan Djanogly, chairman of Westminster's environmental and leisure committee, said: "We dispute that the private sector has any less capability of providing services than the public sector." He pointed out that more than half of food inspections had been contracted out for the past two years to the council's satisfaction.
Djanogly said the council was seeking to determine whether the private sector could provide services to the expected standards, and at a better price. "No action will be taken without the utmost concern for health," he stressed.