Sunday, 7 December 2008

All the fun of the Barnet Christmas fair

The trades council had a stall at Barnet Christmas fair today, happily on the sunny side of the street. It was a good atmosphere in the winter sunshine, with a donkey braying somewhere nearby, displays of morris dancing, and bursts of Elvis (eclectic jumble the English do so well). High Barnet is nowhere near as sniffy as I had thought it would be (I comes from Burnt Oak, don't you know?).

Anyway, enough of this purple prose: the point is, we gave out lots of leaflets and got a great response! Yet more evidence that hardly a soul wants this privatisation plan.

Just say the words 'Barnet Council wants to privatise a lot of the council services' to a random passer-by in Barnet and they will more than likely groan at the idea. We ran out of leaflets and dispatched someone to print some more.

New slogans occur to me all the time: No privatisation without consultation!

I am thinking up some cartoons for the campaign and will get out my felt pens during the week - this campaign needs some pictures. Today we gave out the latest issue of the Barnet trades council newsletter - I can send copies to people if they email - and our latest press release about the Plain English Campaign's verdict on the Future Shape report (see post below).

1 comment:

Citizen Barnet said...

The verdict of the Plain English Campaign is available in blogpost of 4 December. Here is the rest of the text of the press release.

Unions call for better information and more public consultation over Future Shape

We are releasing here an assessment by the Plain English Campaign of the Future Shape report passed at last night’s Barnet council cabinet meeting. The Future Shape report forms the basis for the whole Future Shape project. Its contents deserve to be widely known during the next phase, as the council examines in more detail, and at a cost of £250,000, its proposal for large-scale outsourcing of council services.

This opinion was given on Friday 28 November. We held back from making it widely known at the request of the Plain English Campaign, because they wanted to give Richard Grice, Future Shape Programme Director, a chance to respond, but up until now he has not responded. We ask: does he appreciate the importance of producing documents that Barnet residents can understand, especially when such drastic changes are being proposed?

Arising from last night’s meeting, we have further worries about the quality of Barnet’s democracy. Six concerned residents had tabled questions about Future Shape to last night’s public Cabinet meeting. Council leader Mike Freer answered the questions of three of the residents who were there in person, and three more residents should receive written responses in the next few days. But he displayed complacency about the need to inform and consult more widely with residents about Future Shape, saying they could find out about it if they wanted to through the usual channels.

In the face of proposed massive change to the way the council is organised, we do not think it is good enough for the administration to pretend it is business as usual. The usual channels, the usual byzantine methods for the public to get information about and express their opinion on council matters, is not enough where Future Shape is concerned. It makes a mockery of the notion of local democracy and accountability to pretend otherwise.

The trades council and council unions will be working in the next few months to bring Future Shape to the attention of the public and get their opinion on it: if the administration will not, we will.