Sunday, 21 October 2012

Barnet Alliance tells residents about 'One Barnet' - well, Barnet Council weren't going to

If you have seen a copy of the Hendon Times this week you'll have noticed - goodness, I hope you have! - the fetching orange (easyOrange) cover with the startling headline:
Barnet Council wants to give two multinationals £1,000,000,000 of your money and control over 70% of council services for 10 years.
£1,000,000,000 is £1 billion. The figures are approximate, because everything Barnet Council cooks up is approximate, but I can tell you that the final figure isn't going to be less than £1 billion! You can add in £15 million for the five-year parking contract with NSL, and a joint contract with Brent Council for 'streetscene' services.

Then it coyly asks 'Do you approve?' You are invited to tick either the 'yes' or 'no' box. Shockingly, in real life, residents don't get a choice. In fact, this is probably the first time that many have heard of these plans, Barnet Council's 'One Barnet' programme, and it is certainly the first time they'll have had so much detail.

This newspaper wraparound is provided by Barnet Alliance for Public Services - you can download a pdf of the wraparound from the Barnet Unison website.

As BAPS' publicity officer I confess to having had a hand in it. It has been an interesting experience; now that I look at it, I wish we had made the petition details (see below) more prominent. Because that's what it's all about: the fact that Barnet residents have had no say in what happens to their council services and their own money for the foreseeable future.

Sign the 'One Barnet' referendum petition

Barnet Alliance is collecting signatures on a petition calling for One Barnet to be halted until it is put to residents in the form of a referendum. I don't usually go for referenda, speaking personally, but one can certainly argue that One Barnet is not just a normal-course-of-events policy decision but more in the nature of a constitutional question.

It threatens to change completely the nature of local government (one friend of mine described it as 'stealing local democracy'). Public services will be tied up in long contracts, that can only be varied at great expense, and if residents have a complaint about services, they can't expect their councillor to be able to intervene on their behalf as they do now.

Please sign the petition online on Barnet Council's e-petitions website:

Let your friends, colleagues and neighbours know about One Barnet and about the petition. It is not too late to stop One Barnet. There have been many last-minute changes-of-heart over similiar outsourcing plans. Barnet Council need to know that residents have got wind of it and that they don't like it. Over to you!

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