Now I like birds, and seabirds in particular, but the undignified image of gannets diving into the ocean after fish comes to mind when I think about Barnet council at the moment. Or, rather, about those big private companies flapping around at a great height watching for the shiny One Barnet morsels just beneath the waves.
I understand that a flock of gannets will descend on Barnet council on Friday, for a presentation on one of the big tasty contracts that are up for tender - I forget whether it's the £275 million contract for regulation and development (a "bundle" of services that includes such things as environmental health, planning and, bizarrely, Hendon cemetery) or the £750 million contract for revenue, benefits and the Customer Service Organisation (aka Barnet call centre).
I don't suppose the companies care much either what they are bidding to provide. If a contract's big enough to attract their attention, they will find a way to fulfill it, subcontracting where they have to in order to meet the brief, as we have seen with such resounding successes as the contract to maintain the Fremantle care homes - you know, the ones where legionella bacteria were discovered recently.
We have seen, through the MetPro scandal and their own recent damning internal audit report, that Barnet council are crap at procurement and crap at monitoring what happens when services are contracted out. So I think we can safely assume that, in the months and years ahead, we will also be getting a lot of that other thing you get when gannets gather in large flocks: guano.
Anyway, a few of us Barnet residents are venturing outside the borough tomorrow, Thursday evening, to make a protest outside Capita HQ at 71 Victoria Street, SW1. We will be there from 4.30-6.30pm; join us if you are in the area, whether you agree or not. We are always up for a debate!
Capita's subsidiary Capita Symonds is one of the companies bidding for one of those big contracts. Other companies will not escape our attention in the coming weeks.