Saturday, 22 November 2008

Straw poll - Burnt Oak Tesco: No public appetite for privatisation

For a couple of months past I and a couple more people from Barnet trades council, reinforced by members of Barnet Unison and a friend who lives in Kingsbury, have organised a stall outside Tesco on Burnt Oak Broadway on Saturday morning (10.30-11.30, in case you pass that way on a Saturday).

We ask people to sign the trade unions' 'Future Shape' petition (text here Barnet trades council (Barnet TUC)).

Its basic demand is that the Council should give the 'inhouse' option a fair crack of the whip when assessing it against any other option they can dream up, all of which would involve some sort of outsourcing to private companies/Third Sector or arms length organisations, or what have you.

I can say, hand on heart, based on this consultation exercise - as far as I know, the only one so far conducted over the council's Future Shape plans - that there is NO PUBLIC APPETITE FOR PRIVATISATION/OUTSOURCING. People visibly groan when I tell them what is being contemplated. OK, a few people scuttle past, with their heads down, their body language telling me 'I don't want to talk to anyone on the street about anything ever'. A few people say 'the council's rubbish, anyway' and have given up on the idea of doing anything about it. And on one occasion a business Masters student from China politely discussed with me why privatisation MIGHT be a good thing. But, apart from that, the overwhelming sentiment of the public using Burnt Oak Tesco is: privatisation, no thanks.

This Saturday, some of my colleagues ran a stall outside Waitrose in Whetstone High Road. Socio-economically speaking this is a different kettle of fish from Burnt Oak Tesco, so it will be interesting to hear what the response is there. I bet they get a few more people prepared to support privatisation, and ready to argue about it. But I bet it's still not a majority. I'll report back here when I've found out.

1 comment:

Rog T said...

The thing about privatisation is that it means different things to different people. In her pomp, Thatcher spent millions selling the UK public the concept that it meant you'd buy loads of shares at a discount and sell them at a profit. Even better, with the mutual societies, you got them for free and sold them for thousands.

This created a false perception of the process. As utility bills soar, rail services get worse etc, privatisation gets less popular.

In the terms of Barnet council, there's no bribe, so only the ideological right will be in support.

In effect the only bribe Barnet could give would be a council tax cut and I don't think there's any prospect of that right now.