Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Don't Panic

Don't panic! Don't panic! We’re all Doomed any way

In 2009 Barnet Council became national news after pushing through their so called ‘no frills’ approach to providing our services. The Tory leader who at the time took credit for this described it as “going back to the Ryanair example” with “some things will be cheap and cheerful and in other areas we will provide complete services.”

As we know getting “more for less” has become something of a Conservative mantra.
But we have always felt that this just another con trick. They never planned to get “more for less”, but provide less for less.
John Denham, Labour’s Communities Secretary at the time and highly respected, responded saying: “While it is one thing to put up with Ryanair’s level of service for a couple of hours, no-one wants to live in a Ryanair world, where you have to pay extra, even for the very basics.”
Now Mr Denham has always been a good judge of character and ability and his words then, echo here again tonight.
The reality is outsourcing is not the best option for the public sector. Even Sir Merrick Cockell has called into question the belief that local authorities should be looking to "outsource everything".

Even BT agree. Last week the telecoms giant confirmed it was cutting costs and saving money by – wait for it – stopping outsourcing and getting its own staff to do the tasks instead!
Outsourcing has always been lauded as an effective tool to help managers and organisations make progress toward productivity and effectiveness, but outsourcing is not always a less-expensive or even successful alternative.
Outsourcing can fail for a number of reasons. The most common ones involve:
  • hiring the wrong contractor
  • setting unrealistic goals
  • inadequate contract details
  • inflexible contracts
  • inadequate management review
The problems with One Barnet are well documented and have been aired eloquently in the Council chamber already.
Sadly it seems the reality of these pitfalls does not seem to have hit home amongst Barnet’s leading Tories.
The MP for Chipping Barnet oversaw the disaster of the West Coast Line franchise and her hands are all over the chaos which is now the Thameslink contract.    
And my own MP for Finchley & Golders Green proudly accepted the role of ‘architect’ of Future Shape/Easy Council launched in the summer of 2008 well before any economic crash. 
He has though gone quiet on the subject. Was this just a gimmick to raise his own profile in the run up to a General election, or like his performance over the Icelandic investments, was he not up to the job and was the whole concept of local government finance and service delivery beyond him.
Putting the Hendon MP aside (such matters are quite beyond him), one wonders whether the whole of the Barnet Tory Party is riddled with contamination and incompetence. No one taking responsibility for their actions when the tax payer will pay the price.
Now I am not one for personal attacks, it is always about the politics, but it is time that the Leader of this Council does the right thing. From the mismanagement of the whole OneBarnet programme, to the Library debacle and the parking fiasco enough is enough.
If you are looking for a good jeweller who will sell high and by low, you will most definitely find it in Richard Cornelius. If you are looking for a dynamic and strong leader sadly you will not. The past few months have shown us that.
BUT if we are to be grown up about this and if this vote of no confidence pushes the Tory group further into the mire (sadly taking Barnet residents with them), I believe a compromise is a way forward.
I would therefore happy to support a lesser motion asking for the brakes to be put on this project, so like other boroughs, real scrutiny can take place. The private sector itself is nervous of committing themselves due to the economic climate so why should we be taking the risk. 
The reality of outsourcing is that services will decline while the price goes up and the risk to the taxpayer is even higher.
For the sake of this great borough, pause, think again and work with us for a ‘Better Barnet’.
Sadly the Tories plough on regardless like lemmings off a cliff.

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