Sunday, 19 August 2012

One Barnet catch-up, Or: When does outsourcing become Joint Venture?

The meat and potatoes of my political life here in Barnet is opposing the council's privatisation plan "One Barnet" - but you wouldn't know it to look at my blog!

If it seems that I have been sorely neglecting my duties to report on this recently, rest assured that it is mainly down to my assuming more responsibility in the Barnet Alliance for Public Services. This organisation opposes cuts... and One Barnet. So I have been putting some of my former blogging energies into helping to draft leaflets and so on.

Luckily you are served very well by the other Barnet bloggers who, unlike me, haven't been shirking in their duties of late, in fact, they have been excelling themselves.

But it is time (well time) for me to produce a catch-up, which mainly consists of posting links to other people's work!

First, there are the remarks by Barnet council leader Richard Cornelius to the local press, sticking up for One Barnet. Here are some choice quotations from the Times series article "One year on, leader of council talks about tackling budget cuts, One Barnet and parking":
“The North Finchley Parking Review is also underway so we should know what all the traders think rather than just those who are most vocal. I think it’s important to know what the shopkeepers actually want.
“Their PR campaign has been really very successful but unfortunately they have actually persuaded people that it’s difficult and expensive to park so they’re shooting themselves in the foot with this..."

North Finchley traders' leader Helen Michael has written a very robust response to Cornelius. You can read it in this blogpost by Mr Mustard.

In his Barnet Press interview, "Barnet leader Cornelius hails ‘progress’ during his first year", Cornelius says:
“I’m a natural conservative. I don’t want to do anything – I feel it is a good idea,” he said. “Outsourcing is driven by a need for greater efficiency. If we do not do that, what are we to do to meet the budget requirements? “We are delivering a much fairer and a much more efficient system.”
The local papers this week are full of letters taking issue with what Cornelius says. But, more to the point, the man who declares himself a convert to 'One Barnet' outsourcing has some more explaining to do now.

It transpires that the wholesale outsourcing programme about which the council has been in dialogue with BT, Capita and EC Harris, is about, at least in the case of the £275 million contract for Development and Regulatory Services, to be transformed into the setting up of a Joint Venture (JV) company.

Yes, that's right, someone has got massive cold feet and over the summer holidays what seemed like the answer to all our problems is not that any longer. Something rather different is envisaged.

If you had any confidence in the whole process before, you must be losing some by now... no, isn't that right, Conservative councillors?

Anyway, Roger Tichborne breaks the news of this volte face on his Barnet Eye blog.

Mr Reasonable tells us more about the implications of a JV.
...what are the risks of the Council entering into a Joint Venture?  
Barnet will have to pick up their share of losses should the outsourcing project be a disaster - and please don't say it can't go wrong. Just talk to the former Conservative leader of Somerset County Council and their problems with SouthWest One.
Mrs Angry in her Broken Barnet blogpost "One Barnet: new rules, and a new look for the House of Fun" has a lot more detail about other failed JV experiments.

There I was catching up with One Barnet outsourcing, now there's this JV stuff to get our heads around.

Meanwhile, none of this, but none of it, has been put before the residents to ask them what they think.

If you think that is wrong, please sign the Barnet Alliance petition calling for a referendum on One Barnet.

If the total looks rather forlorn on Barnet council's e-petitions site, don't worry, we are collecting lots of signatures on paper forms.

Please email if you want some in order to collect signatures in your area/networks:

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