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.