Thursday, 25 October 2012

Barnet CEO Andrew Travers and his One Barnet project grilled by Barnet Tories

The Barnet Council Business Management Overview and Scrutiny Committee (BMOSC) - it fair rolls off the tongue - last night was interesting!

Barnet Alliance for Public Services had submitted its petition calling for a referendum on the Council's One Barnet outsourcing programme.

(Please sign the One Barnet referendum petition here.)

Janet Maddison spoke very well for the Alliance, presenting the petition to the committee.

Then committee members asked her some questions. Then Barnet's next CEO, Andrew Travers, who is 'in charge' of the One Barnet project, had to respond to Janet's presentation. Then the committee asked Travers some questions. Finally, which we hadn't anticipated, Janet got to ask Travers some questions.

At the end of this, the committee members voted on whether to recommend to the Cabinet to put One Barnet to a referendum. With one Tory missing, the vote was tied: 3 Labour, 1 Lib Dem for to 4 Tories against.

The Chair, Tory Hugh Rayner, with the casting vote put the kibosh on the idea that residents themselves should decide what happens to their services for the next 10 years, plus the £1 billion plus we will hand to private contractors to run them. (Don't worry - we'll be back.)

However, apart from the party hack, Rowan Turner, and the half-asleep Hendon Councillor Maureen Braun who said nothing during the meeting, the Committee did give Travers a real grilling about One Barnet.

Now, one expects it of Labour and this particular Lib Dem, Jack Cohen, but it was great to see some truly ROBUST and RIGOROUS questioning from some Tory councillors. The committee voted unanimously - Turner and Braun followed Rayner's lead - to feed back the concerns raised in the committee to the Cabinet and to the Leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius.

Of course, it is shocking that it is only this bleedin' late in the day that Tories are asking questions about this billion pound gamble. (I first spoke to Rayner about it four years ago when we first started campaigning over Future Shape, as it was then called.)

One might think that they are just feeling slightly hot under the collar as D-Day for signing contracts approaches. But the questions and the issues they raised were genuinely important.

Below is a list of clips from the meeting.

Arising from Travers' responses, I think residents will have lots more questions for our new £100k a year CEO.


1. Hugh Rayner on One Barnet at the Business Management OSC, 24 October 2012

2. Barnet Council's interim Chief Executive, Andrew Travers, explains One Barnet

3. Hugh Rayner: How can we stop the Council getting screwed in contracts?

4. Rowan Turner: Aren't 10-year contracts normal and really without much risk?

5. Brian Salinger on One Barnet at the Business Management OSC, 24 October 2012

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