Monday, 12 September 2011

Brian Coleman and One Barnet: cold feet? Dismore asks an awkward question

Councillor Brian Coleman AM, FRSA: cold feet, warm heart? Er ...

*Update -Brian responds: see below:

Mrs Angry was very amused to receive this press release this morning from Andrew Dismore, former Hendon MP and Labour candidate for next year's GLA elections ...


Andrew Dismore, Labour’s candidate for the London Assembly for Barnet and Camden has today challenged Brian Coleman over speculation that Mr Coleman is no longer wholeheartedly behind the Council’s “One Barnet” plan to contract out the Council’s services ( text of Mr Dismore’s email to Mr Coleman below).
Mr Dismore said:
“there has been considerable speculation that Mr Coleman is frightened of the electoral consequences of the “One Barnet” privatisation programme and now has cold feet about backing it.
The suggestion is that he is working to have it quietly dropped.
It is time for him to come clean: does he support One Barnet or not?
Is he really prepared to take the risks to services that residents will face if this crazy scheme goes ahead? And if so why has he been so quiet about the plan?
With the London elections now approaching, people are entitled to know just where he stands.
So I now challenge him publically to withdraw his support for One Barnet or accept the consequences if it goes ahead”

Contact Andrew Dismore 07957 625 813

Text of email form Mr Dismore to Mr Coleman:

Dear Brian,

the One Barnet Programme now in train intends to contract out the full range of Council services including:
Adults social care
Housing strategy
Building control
Land charges
Trading standards
Environmental health
Customer services
Revenue and benefits
Human resources
Information systems
Registrars services

There has been no evidence so far that this privatisation will result in its stated aims being fulfilled. .

There has been no explanation of how services will be protected from becoming fragmented, nor how “savings” will be achieved, nor how risk will be properly transferred to private sector providers. Moreover there is a huge financial risk to the Council from loss of contributions to the Pension Scheme. Little consideration has been given to the interests of Council staff either, who are mere pawns on your chessboard..

I am sure you have seen the suggestions in local blogs that you and Boris Johnson are frightened by the electoral consequences for you, for next year’s London elections, should Barnet Council, in which you play a senior role in the leadership, carry on with these ill considered and clearly unpopular plans. No doubt this also helps explain the lack of publicity for the scheme and that there has been no consultation with local residents on what the “new relationship between the council and citizens” should look like, and has not laid down the governance arrangements that would ensure democratic accountability of these services. The emasculation of the area forums does not presage much of a commitment to public engagement generally.

I hope the blogs are right and that you now have cold feet about “One Barnet”. What this means for your and my electoral prospects we will need to see next year, but what is clear is that the people of Barnet are not convinced and want to see the plan dropped.

Accordingly, to avoid further speculation, will you now please confirm your position: are you fully behind “ One Barnet” or are you working to have it dropped as Council policy?


Andrew Dismore

*Update Tuesday:

Lucky Mr Dismore has had a reply from Brian, copied to Tory leader Richard Cornelius:

Dear Andrew

I don't take any notice of "blogs" and I would have thought you were far to (sic) sensible to either

Kind regards

Well: Brian reads this "blog", but doesn't take any notice of it, so won't mind Mrs Angry quoting him. Awful grammar, Brian, btw: were you in the bottom set for English at QE Boys?

Good to see Coleman endorsing Andrew as the sensible candidate for the GLA, though, isn't it, citizens?

Oh, and interesting that Brian failed to avail himself of the opportunity to express his love and unswerving support for One Barnet.

(Morning, Brian: see you've been looking in ... xxx)


Mr Mustard said...

Mr Mustard anticipates that Brian will just ask to be taken off Andrew's mailing list!

Mrs Angry said...

...or perhaps he will be treated to friendly phone call? Leave your answerphone on, Andrew.

baarnett said...

Perhaps Andrew can also email Mike Freer and Matthew Offord (if they have time to answer, instead of saving the world).

Could they confirm that they think the easy-Council-one-Barnet plan that they started still has their full support?

Mrs Angry said...

hmm, do you know, I think Mr Mike Freer would still be awfully impressed by the easycouncil idea which he thinks he had, all by himself, without any help from the big boys. I'm not sure Offord would be able to form an opinion.

baarnett said...

Barnet Bugle says their constituencies will remain unchanged in next general election, except that Mike Freer will grab an extra ward from inside Camden.

So the soup run will stay the same, but the ice cream "Stop Me and Buy One" van will be running down some extra roads!

Mrs Angry said...

the constituencies may stay the same, baarnett, but Mrs Angry suspects that there may be a change of MPs in Hendon and Finchley ... bring it on.

button55 said...

TUT,TUT Brian to instead of too...