Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Your Choice Barnet: cuts WILL affect quality

There is a lobby tonight of the Your Choice Barnet board. Campaigners against the planned cuts will be there, including parents and carers of the adults affected by the changes.

They will be objecting to the fact that their voices are being ignored. There is an interview with one of the parents, John Sullivan, in this New Statesman article.

Barnet Unison, the trade union that represents many of the staff whose pay and conditions are being cut to make ends meet, has published the following figures:


Your Choice is claiming that the proposed changes to staff terms & conditions are not going to have an impact on service quality.

For the sake of transparency UNISON is providing the [figures on] cuts and changes for staff and we will leave it for you to decide if service quality will change.

Currently Support Workers are paid £12.40-£13.56/ hr and Assistant Support Workers are paid £9.49-£10.07/ hr

* As & When hours: Your Choice rely heavily on As & When hours. We learnt that staff now working As & When have already had their rate cut by 25% before the consultation began.

* 28 support workers posts to be reduced to 8 support workers posts.

* Creation of 20.5 assistant support worker posts

* Enhancements for working evenings to be stopped

* Enhancements for working weekends to be stopped  (these are paid at time and a half)

* Staff working a 5 day week to be moved to a 7 working week with no extra pay.

* Up to a sixth of the workforce have requested and been granted voluntary redundancy.  This will have a massive impact on a client group who have built long term relationships with workers in which ‘trust’ is a critical feature of this relationship.

* Your Choice has commissioned a consultant to carry out a benchmarking exercise with the market competitors. UNISON is already aware that many of the competitors are paying 30% less and some of these well below the London Living Wage.

For one month only

Hello, remember me? I used to be one of the Barnet bloggers, but for the past couple of months, owing to perturbations in my personal life, I have been peripatetic, a nomad.

However, for the next month I am house-sitting in East Finchley. So if you see me in unfamiliar places that is the reason!

I am living not far from Martin School which, for one term, was the first school I attended, way back in... 1969, or was it 1970?!

For anyone who has always lived in the area, or indeed has always lived in any area, which infant school someone attended is not remotely commentworthy. But, for me, winding up here, next to this, rather than any other, infant school, seems like a happy and remarkable coincidence. And, if nothing else, it certainly makes a pleasant change from Burnt Oak!

For one month only, possibly, therefore, I'm back!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Welcome to Capitaville... I mean, Barnet

No great surprise that Capita, in the shape of its subsidiary Capita Symonds, are the preferred bidder for Barnet Council's second enormous One Barnet contract, Development and Regulatory Services (DRS), having already got their claws on the New Support and Customer Services Organisation contract.

Always assuming the law allows it! An appeal is pending in the Judicial Review case brought by Barnet resident Maria Nash, and all of these contracts are on hold awaiting the outcome of that.

Here is Barnet Unison's press release on hearing the news this morning about the DRS contract.
‘Capitaville’-Capita to take over more Barnet Council services
Today staff were told at a series of briefings that Capita Symonds is the preferred bidder to deliver a whole range of Council Regulatory services to Barnet residents and businesses.
 The services to be handed over to Capita include the following:
Trading Standards & Licensing, Land Charges, Planning & Development, Building Control & Structures, Environmental Health, Highways Strategy, Highways Network Management, Highways Traffic & Development, Highways Transport & Regeneration, Strategic Planning & Regeneration, Hendon Cemetery & Crematoria
Barnet Council has a number of statutory responsibilities to monitor the private sector in order to ensure the health and safety of their residents. The recent high- profile national public-health scandal about the use of Horsemeat in processed foods emphasises that private companies do not adequately monitor their own activities, leaving the public at risk. If Barnet Council is allowed to privatise these services, it will set a dangerous precedent for other councils.
Barnet Council has been promoting itself as an innovator for the future of public services by adopting the Commissioning Council model. In the last 12 months the Council has overseen a significant number of services outsourced to other providers. The full list of services are here.
John Burgess UNISON Branch Secretary said: “Barnet Council is making a huge mistake in handing over these critical services to the private sector. It is not just about the risks this brings but what it means in term of democratic accountability. Next year we have the local elections in May 2014. What options will there be for the electorate if all the council spend is tied up into complex contracts? As for all the remaining staff the message is stark: no matter how loyal you are, no matter how hard you work political dogma is dictating all services are to be outsourced. Today a number of our members have chosen to wear black armbands/ black clothing as a sign of the demise of the public sector ethos in Barnet Council.”
1. What is One Barnet? Watch this short animation
2. UNISON report on One Barnet DRS contract
3. UNISON financial report on One Barnet DRS contract
4. 100+ reasons why One Barnet is high risk and bad for residents and services
5. 397 jobs “The true cost of One Barnet outsourcing”

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Barnet Tories must condemn Brian Coleman's aggression

An open letter to Richard Cornelius, Conservative leader of Barnet Council.

On Friday 3 May Councillor Brian Coleman pleaded guilty to the charge of common assault by beating of Helen Michael, in the High Road in North Finchley. Evidence from CCTV was shown in court and proved incontrovertibly that this incident was nothing less than an utterly indefensible act of aggression. It resulted from Councillor Coleman being caught parking in a loading bay, trying to evade the hugely controversial parking payment scheme he had imposed on residents in this borough.

Despite the fact that he has now been convicted of a criminal act of assault, Barnet Council has refused to comment, absurdly claiming that this is unnecessary as the attack did not take place while the Councillor was on council business.

Indeed local Tory members, including leader Richard Cornelius, openly continued to support their fellow member after he was charged, and were privately informing others that the story of the assault was false. Councillor Coleman was suspended from the party only after intervention from Conservative Central Office.
Since the conviction, local Conservatives have issued no statement.

By his own actions Councillor Coleman has shown himself to be unfit for public office: such bullying behaviour, dishonesty and hypocrisy are not acceptable in an elected representative of the community. We demand therefore that he stand down from his seat in Totteridge, and that the Conservative Party expel him from membership.

We call on Richard Cornelius, as leader of Barnet Council, and on behalf of the Conservative Party in this borough, to apologise to Ms Michael, and to dissociate himself and his colleagues from this appalling incident.

To remain silent is not an option: to remain silent is to condone an act of violence against a woman, and this was and must always be absolutely unacceptable.

Derek Dishman
John Dix
Vicki Morris
Theresa Musgrove
Roger Tichborne