Barnet resident Maria Nash has applied for a Judicial Review of Barnet Council's One Barnet outsourcing programme, and the application will be heard in the High Court from tomorrow, Tuesday 19 March. The case will probably continue on Wednesday and might run to Thursday.
Barnet Alliance for Public Services is supporting Maria in her application. With Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), we have organised a support demonstration outside the Royal Court of Justice, The Strand tomorrow (Tuesday) from 9.30am to 1.30pm.
Please join us if you can, and follow proceedings on Twitter. Follow @BarnetAlliance, hashtags: #OneBarnet #BarnetSpring.
It is a shame that it has come to this: a legal challenge to Barnet Tories' privatisation plan, but for more than four years we have been arguing, debating, challenging in every way that we can politically. I think we honestly believed that they would see sense or at least calculate that the political price they would pay for One Barnet would be so high they would not want to pay it.
We were wrong.
Maria is not a member of BAPS but we are supporting her. Of course, the political campaign WILL continue and Barnet Tories WILL pay a high political price for persisting with One Barnet. They are likely to lose control of Barnet Council to Labour in the local government elections in 2014. I for one will certainly be campaigning to make sure that they do - and to pressure Labour to make sure that what we get instead will be better!
But it is a tragedy that so much damage has already been done.
It is a shame that it has come to a legal challenge, but we will all learn interesting and useful things through this process (we already have).
There will be high public interest in the court case. The arguments aired will be mulled over and used by other local authorities contemplating mass outourcing, and by those challenging them.
Maria has a right to insist on her her day in court. Her case is that she is worried what will happen to her when services are outsourced - she is disabled - particularly if the outsourcing goes wrong, the contracts fail, and Barnet ends up losing not saving money. She is right to worry! The cuts to our vital public services - already severe - will be far worse the more money that Barnet loses.
The problems with 'Your Choice Barnet', the arms-length company set up by Barnet Council to deliver care and support services to disabled adults show the dangers of moving to a commercial model for vital public services. The Council is being called on to bail out Your Choice, which was supposed to make a surplus.
Now that it is losing money, the management are making plans to cut staff pay and conditions and reduce the standard of the service.
Please sign the petition here calling on Barnet Council to bring 'Your Choice Barnet' back in-house. And you can end an email to Barnet Council's Cabinet members using the link here on the Barnet Alliance website.