Tuesday, 22 January 2013

One Barnet referendum petition - presented Tuesday 22 January

At last, Barnet residents' own views on the Council's One Barnet outsourcing programme will be heard in the council chamber. Tonight, Tuesday 22 January, we will hand in the so-called One Barnet referendum petition. The text:
Hands off our Barnet! Stop the One Barnet Programme

We, residents of Barnet, are alarmed at the council's plan known as the ONE BARNET PROGRAMME, to hand over our public services to private for-profit companies. We call for an immediate stop to these measures until the issue is put to the electorate in the form of a simple YES or NO referendum on the ONE BARNET PROGRAMME.

A representative of the Barnet Allliance for Public Services will give a five-minute presentation on what the One Barnet referendum petition means to us.

We have been collecting signatures online here and on paper for a few months and a little while back topped the 8,000 we need for the right to present the petition at a full council meeting. This January date was the earliest we could present it.

It might seem as though the horse has bolted, since the Council is poised to sign the first big contract with Capita. However, in the event, the legal challenge by Maria Nash means that the deal cannot quite be sealed yet... So, as it turns out, Tuesday's presentation will be quite a dramatic moment.

A few years back, in 2008, when the local trade unions and some of the more left-wing residents set themselves against the mass privatisation plan (named 'Future Shape', then 'easyCouncil' before finally seeing the murky light of a grey day as 'One Barnet') we quite simply under-estimated how much support we would get from ordinary residents for our stance - if we only knew how to ask for it.

Barnet's Tories never believed that they needed to ask residents about One Barnet, they thought residents would not care about how services would be delivered. They certainly did not imagine that residents would oppose the bulk of council services being handed over to outsourcing multinationals. How wrong they were. And how wrong were we to leave it so late before we went big with our publicity! I think we simply spent too long rehearsing the arguments - and trying to take our objections through the proper political channels.

However, perhaps it is not too late! We have our petition! We have our council chamber debate! We have our legal challenges! And we certainly have, I believe, the support of most of the engaged Barnet residents.

Please join us on Tuesday 22 January at Hendon Town Hall, The Burroughs, NW4 from 6pm for a lobby and then inside the Council Chamber from 7pm. Follow proceedings on Twitter: @BarnetAlliance

No comments: