Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Return to sender, or: One Barnet, the Road to Perdition

Panderers/Dante's Inferno pic Joe Angry

Mrs Angry has been vastly amused by the number of Tory councillor emails that are being forwarded to her by many of enraged residents who are taking their elected representative to task over the Capita bid, due to be rubber stamped by the Cabinet of curiousities on 6th December.

The Tory councillors, for some reason, are reluctant to argue with Mrs Angry, as clearly they know they will lose the argument in spectacular fashion, but they seem to think they can get away with telling residents a load of rubbish about One Barnet, without getting found out. Oh dear. No, no, you can't naughty Tory councillors, not anymore.

Most of these residents, by the way, are people formerly unknown to Mrs Angry, who have contacted her out of the blue, and their activities ought to serve as a warning to our Tory tyrants that their foolish behaviour over this and other issues has politicised a large number of normally quiescant voters ...

Here are a selection of responses to one woman with an admirable sense of smell when it comes to One Barnet bullshittery. She is a resident living in Mill Hill, and genuinely incensed by the One Barnet madness, and determined to hold her councillors to account.

Mrs B was extremely annoyed by the lack of response to heremail to them:

Dear Councillors 

I am increasingly concerned at the prospect of One Barnet. Not only is this a massive gamble with taxpayers money – remember the Iceland fiasco? – but my main concern is that services will be run out of Borough by companies who have little interest in the running of Barnet and interest only in making a profit for shareholders. Councillors will have little say in how Barnet is run. 

How can a call centre in Mumbai (Cllr Coleman’s analogy, not mine) deal with matters of Barnet’s Green Belt – they will have no idea with regard to matters in Barnet. THIS IS POLICITICAL SUICIDE! 

Barnet residents will not forget this reckless expenditure of our money and in May 2014 there will be a massive backlash from residents and the Council will no longer be Conservative run. Think of what happened to Cllr Coleman on the London Assembly – people did not like what he had done in Barnet (parking) and he lost his huge 20,000 majority – overturned to a 20,000 majority in favour of the Labour candidate. The same will happen with you – you will all ceremoniously be booted out of office. I urge you to follow your instincts, your gut feelings and vote AGAINST One Barnet on 6th December. 

Do what the voters of Barnet elected you to do – represent them and ensure that life in Barnet is run by people in Barnet not outsourced to some huge private company with little interest in Barnet but interest simply in making a profit for share-holders. I would like a response please to this email.

After a very poor response, Mrs B sent a reminder 

Dear Councillors, 

I am surprised and disappointed that it is now two days since I sent you the email below. I am aware you have read the email since I had a “read receipt” but as yet I have not had the courtesy of a reply. 

Since you were elected to serve the residents of Barnet, I am frankly astonished that you can ignore a matter as important as One Barnet. Time is running out on the One Barnet vote – as it is on your political careers . May I now please have the courtesy of a reply from you?

This at least generated some replies from the usual pro One Barnet suspects:

Deputy leader Councillor Daniel Thomas:

Thank you for your message, the contents of which have been noted albeit some of you assumptions are incorrect (there will be no call centre in Mumbai). 

Councillors will still oversee, scrutinise and set strategy which is what we do now. Other councils have outsourced their back offices with great success and that is what we intend to repeat. 

Mrs B wasn't having any of that:

Er, no, not Mumbai (Cllr Coleman’s analogy not mine) but not Barnet either where all the local knowledge is. 

As for “councillors will still oversee, scrutinise and set strategy which is what we do now”.... There is no WE (royal or otherwise) about it, because you will have been booted out by the electorate of Barnet in May 2014 because of what we all see as your sell-off of our Borough. GOne Barnet and GOne Conservative Councillors.................... Mrs B 

John Thomas was beginning to wilt by now

Thank you for your views and preditions.

Mrs B was still up for it, however:

What is a predition please? Or do you mean “perdition” which my dictionary tells me is “A state of eternal punishment and damnation into which a sinful and unpenitent person passes after death”. 

By now Mrs Angry was almost beginning to feel sorry for him. Almost, and then the unpenitant John Thomas got a grip of himself:

Obviously I meant to type 'prediction' given your 2014 prediction but your response clearly implies an overzealous willingness to misinterpret. 

There was one letter missing from the word I typed yet you choose to rearrange two letters to come up with a ludicrous reference to punishment after death! 

I look forward to the new NSCSO contract starting and the benefits and savings it shall bring. 

Who next? Ah: a missive from Thomas' Cabinet colleague, small but perfectly formed library killer and museum murderer Robert Rams: Mrs Angry's comments in red, and please don't blame her for his illiteracy.

I am not sure if you are a resident of mine because you have not put an address on this email but thank you for your email about One Barnet. 

I fully support the one barnet program. PROGRAMME, Robert, is the correct spelling.

This program has seen the council look at all the services we provide to see if we are running them to the best of our ability, as cost effective as possible and if there are better ways of running them. 

No, it has not: this programme has not looked at all the services to see if they are run to the best of your ability. This is completely untrue, as you well know. The programme has looked at which services are the most appealing to the giant outsourcing companies looking for the easiest profits, and has refused point blank to look at ways of making efficiencies in house, which would have produced the most cost effective way of running services, but would have disappointed the senior management team, the private companies wanting to make profits from us, and the consultants wanting to make profits from us and the private companies.

I am sure you can agree that this is a good thing in the current finical crisis we face.

Finical crisis, FFS ...

For example we are now sharing our legal services with another council, a very recent move and yet to prove worth the upheaval ...

we have wonderful community and charity led community coaches who are making some great differences in our communities, what are you going on about? One tiny scheme?

we have brought our waste services back in house at the last minute 

yes, lol, 'at the last minute', you muppet, due to panic by councillors over the reaction to One Barnet, and if this is a wise move, why did you refuse an in  house comparator for all the One Barnet outsourcing proposals?

and yes we will outsource some services. 

SOME services? 70% of ALL services are being given away for profit making to the private sector ...

These outsources will provide huge investment to our services, money we don't have, 

there is actually very limited investment coming from the outsourcing companies, and you would have more money if you stopped wasting so many millions of our taxes on for example scandalously mismanaged procurement, and hugely overpaid consultants ...

whilst improving the services and keeping council tax down.

 No, it will not improve services, as you would realise if you had bothered to study all similar privatisations, and keeping council tax down is an ideological obsession which is further punishing the tax payer because it will be paid by stealth through higher charges ...

I stood on a manifesto promise to freeze council tax as I believe that residents should spend their money how the like. 

You stood on a manifesto which made no mention of One Barnet, and a few weeks ago you and your cabinet chums were planning to raise council tax: and don't pretend you weren't, because I was at the meeting where this was discusssed.

You raise a number of concerns about these services being outsourced. I can assure you that that there will be no change in accountability and my ability to hold the services to account. 

This is completely and utterly untrue.

The loss of accountability will be MASSIVE. For ten years a private company will have us by the goolies, and if we try to escape, they will charge us, the tax payers HUGE penalties. Robert Rams couldn't hold a defenceless kitten to account, let alone a company the size of Capita.

I have never had any problems with the services we have already outsourced. 

That would be because your head was firmly wedged up your rear end, and failed to read about, for example, the trouble with legionella contamination in our Fremantle run care homes. You also fail to comment about the wealth of information which raises serious concerns over outsourced services in authorities the length and breadth of the UK.

We are looking at a number of ways of outsourcing - you mention a JV or strategic partner - there are pro and cons to each of these and they will be assessed on a case by case basis. 

You mean your senior officers have decided on a Joint Venture, without bothering to consult elected members over the major policy change this would represent, and you only found out about it thanks to the democratic overview provided free of charge by the Barnet blogosphere ...

There could sadly be some job losses - and this is never a good thing. But if we did not go down this route and would therefore need to make larger cuts in our services, the job losses would be much larger. I hope that this addresses your concerns but this will be a good thing for Barnet and I fully support these changes. 

Cllr Rams 

Another good thing, Robert, will be when there will be a large number of 'job' losses amongst the Tory councillors of Broken Barnet, in May 2014, on which happy day you will realise what a cock up of everything you have made, and when you will be cordially invited to kiss my *rse.

with sincere regards, 

Mrs Angry x

Silly Mrs Angry, nearly forgot, if you would like to have your own correspondence with councillors, why not email them too? It's all the rage. Go on: you know you want to ... Here are the Cabinet members who are planning to rubberstamp the Capita giveaway:

and here are the rest of the Tory numpties who are sitting back and letting them go ahead:


Oh look: Mrs B's tongue lashing has provoked a startling response from Councillor Andrew Harper: sorry, Councillor Andrew Harper, Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Families (he is of course always keen to impress the ladies of Broken Barnet with the size of his portfolio).

Dear Mrs B
It may or may not be political suicide, nevertheless I believe the awarding of a contract to Capita for a New Support and Customer Services Organisation - which is what we will deciding at the Cabinet meeting on 6th December - to be in the best long-term interests of our borough and I expect to support it.  I note your comments, meanwhile.
Cllr Andrew Harper
Garden Suburb Ward
Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Families

Please note that the startling feature here is the phrase 'I expect to support it' ... rather equivocal for a man of such rigid loyalty as Cllr Harper, don't you think? 

Touching that a man is prepared to lay down his political life for the good of others, though. Well, for the benefit of Capita and political dogmatism, anyway. 

Not that the millionaire Tory voters of the Suburb are likely to ask him to feck off anytime soon, but then ... in the past there have been some surprising voting patterns in this area ...


Mr Mustard said...

That comment of John Thomas reminds me Mrs A that a FOI officer used the same trick on me so perhaps John has been talking to the council officer. Here is what I wrote to the officer afterwards:

Thank you for pointing out the typographical error in my duplication of the word think such that I wrote "do think think" instead of "do not think".

If I had thought my requests to be vexatious then it is not very logical that I would have asked for a review. Given the ambiguity in what I wrote it is a pity that you decided to make your own advantageous interpretation of the wrongly worded sentence rather than ask me to clarify what I had written especially when read in the context of the rest of the paragraph.

How is your review of the other supposedly vexatious requests coming along please?


for the benefit of your readers I am in the early stages of what will be a long battle with Barnet Council to get them to answer my simple questions, ones that they would happily answer if any other resident were to ask them. There are about 22 questions that they have decided they don't want public. That will be 22 cock-ups which will have to wait to see the light of day.

Mrs Angry said...

have you been sitting in the White Horse, Mr Mustard? Or is the Black Horse?