Thursday, 18 October 2012

A week in Broken Barnet: sex, lies and videotape

Lot of fuss on twitter last night, about an online 'Comment is Free' Guardian post by Zoe Williams here claiming to have discovered that 'council politics just got sexy'. Ooh er.

Mrs Angry is amused by this sudden arousal of interest in the heady erotic atmosphere of local government. Here in Broken Barnet, of course, we have been exulting in the voluptuous pleasures of municipal life for some time now.

Since the One Barnet House of Fun has been open for outsourcing business, we have crouched still,  looking through the keyhole of the parlour, admiring the antics of the gentlemen callers sitting on the over stuffed sofa, see here

We have tutted from behind the screen, like maiden aunts, at the suggestion of certain unnatural practices in the  procurement of services to be rendered ... in the potential conflicts of interest ...  here   ... or in the potential conflicts of interest ...   here

And then, just at the last moment, we have become very hot under the collar at the prospect of an unsatisfactory conclusion for our gentleman callers: (reproducing this one for the delectation of one of Mrs Angry's moles, who has a particular fondness for it, for some reason ...)

All in all, then, Zoe: yes ... a pretty steamy atmosphere, here, in Broken Barnet. 

Perhaps the analogy of 'pimp my services' has run its course, though, because - oh dear: 

Here is a bucket of cold water. 

Sorry chaps.

Times are hard, and the appetite for outsourcing on the scale of the One Barnet house menu is cooling rapidly. 

Look at this piece in the Guardian by spoilsport Patrick Butler:

Here he refers to the dramatic turn of events in Cornwall this last week or so, which saw the resignation of Jim Currie, the Tory deputy leader of Cornwall County Council, over plans for a £300 million outsourcing joint venture, still pursued despite a rejection by councillors, and one which Currie simply could no longer support. 

As reported by the Cornish councillor Andrew Wallis in his very interesting blog , Leader Alec Robertson lost a vote of confidence, and therefore his position, and one of the two bidders dropped out leaving - oh, hello - our old friends BT in the sole running for what is supposed to be a competitive bid process. (Isn't it? Have I got that wrong?)

As Patrick Butler points out, it seems that, coincidentally, the Chief Executive of Cornwall County Council, Kevin Lavery, according to his Linkedin profile, formerly worked for BT. Oh, and Serco.
It seems a meeting next week will decide the course of events regarding the last remaining bid, so we shall all await the outcome with interest, especially here in Barnet ...
The post concludes on a note of sadness for all those still in love with the doomed romance of mass privatisation projects, noting:

 "local government's appetite for grand, monolithic outsourcing projects and joint ventures is diminishing.

Central government's too, of course. 

A former Capita executive concludes: 

"I am not suggesting for a moment that there will not be more outsourcing to the business sector. Rather, I think, it likely that such outsourcing will be on a different basis to much that has happened before – and without the scale of growth that some had expected."

In the Comment is Free post, Zoe Williams attributes the new 'sexiness' of council politics to the fact that here, on a local scale, where real life meets the hard edge of central government policy there is a real chance of resistence, rebellion - and a change of course. She writes:

"In the regions and the suburbs, in grotty chambers with 1980s lighting, people still fight. They fight meaningfully, they ask real questions, they consider people not as voters looming ominously on a four-year horizon, but as neighbours."

That's how it is, here in Broken Barnet, anyway. 

We are sickened by the attempts of our elected representatives and their senior officers to lend our community to the private sector for its drooling pleasures:

We don't want our services run for profit. 

We don't want our museums ransacked and sold off for development. 

We don't want our libraries closed and turned into flats, or a Tesco Express. 

 And so yes, we are fighting back.

As Mrs Angry was reminded rather cruelly today: the things and the people that you care about must not be taken for granted. 

If you care about something, someone, then tell them, and look after them: there is always every possibility that if you don't, you will look around, and they will be gone.

Here in Barnet we care about our community, and we are determined to defend it. 

We've even made a film about it, to tell everyone how we feel:  see the website

Then come to the premiere, 6pm, Phoenix Cinema, East Finchley, 22nd October, and find out what we said. 

 Oh and, updated: you might spot this wraparound our local Times group newspapers this week: