"Proposals which could jeopardise the future public ownership of Ordnance Survey were buried in the government’s 2015 spending review and Autumn statement. The government wants to realise up to £5bn in corporate asset sales by March 2020, including looking to “develop options to bring private capital into the Ordnance Survey before 2020.
Prospect negotiator Ben Middleton, speaking on behalf of OS specialists, said: “This announcement is a cause for concern becomes it comes so soon after the transition to a government-owned company (GovCo) in April 2015. Clear assurances were given that becoming a GovCo would not change the ownership of Ordnance Survey and that it would remain in public ownership.
“Prospect is not ‘anti-private sector’, and private investment into Ordnance Survey could be a positive move if it is done in a way that is compatible with the existing GovCo strategy. This was to look at further partnering arrangements to enable OS to move into new markets and develop new products and services.
“We want Ordnance Survey to continue to be a successful organisation. But we are quite clear that we want it to continue as a 100% publicly-owned body fulfilling its public task as the National Mapping Agency.
“Investment in the form of equity share or partial sell-off, where profit would increasingly come before public service, would be contrary to that policy position. We do not believe that maintaining a majority ownership or ‘golden share’ provides any meaningful assurance that wholesale privatisation would not follow. "