One of the big outsourcing companies Capita is hosting a conference for movers and shakers in the world of outsourcing and local government. It is called "New Models of Service Delivery - Opening Up Local Government Services to New Providers". Barnet council's own deputy chief exec, Andrew Travers - Mr £1k-a-day - all paid for by you and me - is speaking at the conference. He has a 20-minute slot just before lunch to pronounce on the following:
The One Barnet Transformation ProgrammeI presume he will be saying that One Barnet is going swimmingly...
• Creating a new relationship between public services and citizens
• Encouraging self-help and behaviour change
• Simplifying systems and access to services
• Creating a single customer services organisation
• A single Barnet insight function to support joint commissioning
• New ways of ‘bundling and delivering services’
I explained today to the local papers why some of us were journeying to central London on a workday morning to make this protest. The reasons are so numerous they just rolled off the tongue. For starters:
• One Barnet is not liked by most of the council workforce, who have moreover been taking industrial action about the terms under which they will be transferred to the private sector.And so on. If you can join us tomorrow morning, here's the website for the venue, the sumptuous Lancaster Hotel, so you will recognise it! We'll be outside with our Barnet Alliance banner and distributing a leaflet to conference attendees.
• The council does not know whether One Barnet is liked by the residents, because they have never asked them what they think of it. In fact, they have banned them from talking about it at residents' forums.
• Why are the people most affected by the topics under discussion - the far more numerous residents and council employees - not invited to attend such events and give their views? Why do we only find out about such events by accident?
• Andrew Travers earns £1,000 a day as a "consultant" at Barnet council which is too much. (I will be taking steps to find out whether he is being paid to speak at this conference.)
• It is indecent that this conference is being held at a plush, central London hotel, and that attendees pay between £225 (concessionary discount!) and £575, at the same time as they are discussing how to make cuts to vital public services and how to lay off council workers.
• There is something fishy about Capita, one of the multinationals bidding to run council services, including here in Barnet, putting on events such as this. Their website says: "Capita Conferences is the UK’s number one provider of public sector conferences." Is anyone surprised, when they can hope ultimately to profit from the topics discussed at these conferences?
• There is something fishy about Capita, one of the multinationals bidding to run council services here in Barnet, inviting Andrew Travers to be a guest speaker at this event.
No to One Barnet! And no to private sector profiteers hobnobbing with council officials behind our backs!