Thursday, 22 November 2012

Friends with benefits: oh look - Barnet's senior officers favour a bid from Crapita

 As revealed by Mrs Angry earlier this week, the lucky winner of the two horse One Barnet stakes, the £750 million NCSCO tender, is of course Capita, the company so popular with so many of our senior officers. 

As we speak, our elected representatives are reading through the recommended proposals by Crapita, in which they lay out the thousand ways they will f*ck the residents and taxpayers of Broken Barnet, and extort the maximum profit from us. 

Of course the details of these proposals are confidential, and quite rightly only for the eyes of our councillors, who are so much more capable of judging the merits of these complex proposals than we foolish mortals, so we can only guess at the contents. 

Fortunately Mrs Angry's clairvoyant powers are all seeing, all knowing, and she has a clear vision of the ghastly fate in store for us, and the extent of the treachery of our craven Tory councillors.

Hundreds of members of staff are now facing the loss of their jobs, directly as a consequence of the Tory refusal to consider any in house alternative to the facilitation of profit making opportunities for the private sector outsourcing industry. Instead of supporting local staff, and the local economy, our Conservative councillors prefer to abandon Barnet, and send jobs out to Belfast, Banstead, Bromley and Blackburn - anywhere but here, in short.

The claims made in the winning tender are that there will be 'guaranteed' financial 'benefits' of £125.4 million over ten years. Sounds good, you might think. If it materialises. And over ten years?

Guaranteed: what does that mean, in reality? It means not guaranteed at all, of course. There are all sorts of ifs and buts, and qualifications, and get outs, and worst of all, obstacles in the way of any exit plan for Barnet if it all goes tits up, which it will. If and when it goes wrong, we will end up paying for our mistakes over and over again. The devil is in the detail, Tory councillors: if you can be arsed, and probably most you are too lazy, sadly, look carefully at the penalties that will ensue if you suddenly fall out of love with the chosen suitor you have picked ...

And what are we asking Capita to do? Much of it is the provision of services that we already do well, and could do better, if an in house option had been allowed.  Greater efficiency by senior officers in the procurement of contracts is one example: Barnet Council has wilfully endorsed a culture of costly mismanagement which, through no fault of the ordinary council employees who stand to lose their jobs, actually makes the offer of an outsourcing company to acheive better outcomes from existing contracts look like an inviting proposal. 

This is really outrageous, and almost makes one wonder if the grossly incompetent administration of contracting and procurement in Barnet was a deliberate strategy rather than the giant cock up we all assumed it to be. Don't be silly, Mrs Angry: of course the senior management team of Broken Barnet do not have the intelligence to follow such a devious plan. And gross incompetence on a large scale comes quite naturally to them, as we know.

Collecting council tax: in past years failures in this task has lost Barnet huge amounts of revenue. Instead of regulating this sort of activity ourselves, and reviewing the best ways of maximising income we are going to pay someone else to do it for us. Marvellous. Clear evidence of a relentless drive for efficiency.

Why has Crapita won the approval of our senior management team, and not BT? Crapita came third in the quality appraisal rankings at the outline solution stage and our Tory councillors have always pretended that quality was of the highest priority. 

It would seem that the promised savings have won the bid, yet of course in many of the large scale outsourced bids which have failed, it has been because the level of savings projected with so much bravado at the beginning of a partnership mysteriously fail to materialise. Of course there is no real mystery: boasting you can deliver the undeliverable is the pitch of every sales rep and always has been.

Having won the approval for this bid, it is likely that Capita will win the other bundle of services, the £250 million tender for DRS. All nicely tied up, and us all tied up with it, and thrown in the river.

That is to say, of course, if the recommendations of the senior officers are accepted.

Last night the Tory group had a meeting to discuss the Capita bid. The meeting only finished at eleven - very late for our dopey Tory councillors, who like to whizz through council meetings at break neck speed, and hurry home to their wives, mistresses and special friends.

The vast majority of the Tory group now has some grasp of the enormity of the deal which they are being asked - no, told to endorse. Late in the day, and largely due to the patient explanations of the Barnet blogosphere, they have realised quite what a reckless gamble the whole business represents. More worryingly, from their self centred point of view, many of them know that their history of catastrophic administration in the last couple of years has made those with marginal seats almost certain to be defeated in the next election, and created a number of newly vulnerable wards, just waiting to fall into the hands of the opposition. What to do?

The councillors now have a week to digest the contents of the officers recommendation, and decide whether to do as they are told, and approve the deal with Crapita, or to be awfully daring, and do what they were elected to do, and put the needs of the residents of this borough before the profit seeking appetite of an eternally ravenous outsourcing company.

A statement from council staff union representative John Burgess was released this afternoon, in which he says:

For the last four years UNISON has warned of the danger of jobs being exported out of Barnet. Leading Councillors and senior officers have either played down this risk or discounted it as irrelevant. 

“It is a dark, dark day in the history of Barnet Council. Staff and residents will remember this date as the day the council carried on marching over the cliff ignoring the stark warnings of residents and other key stakeholders. 

The implications for our members are awful. I thought the morale of the workforce had already hit rock bottom, this news I believe will drag it down deeper and it will have an impact on other council staff. I also fear for the impact on future quality of services to Barnet residents.

I really hope Councillors will think again about the implications of what they are proposing and the risks of ignoring a growing dissenting community voice emerging from a resilient committed community campaign. 

But, it isn’t over yet, there is an alternative way to delivering public services and our campaign is still very alive and focused. Watch this space”

Cabinet member Robert Rams has been tweeting, in his inimitable style, of the 'great news' for Barnet Council and residents that the favoured bid represents. 

Mrs Angry has replied that it is in fact a betrayal of residents and staff, most of whom are residents too. She has also observed that the only real benefit of this bid is that being f*cked by Crapita means we will wave Councillor Robert Rams a fond farewell, in 2014.

Before our friends at Crapita lower their trousers, however, they should reflect on something that may have a rather deflating effect on their ardour.

No local authority has ever attempted a privatisation of services on this scale. 

Nowhere in the UK could there be a council less able to support such a patently overly ambitious scheme than here in Barnet. 

Nowhere in the UK could there be a more hostile reception for the introduction of the commercial exploitation of local services. 

And nowhere will you find such an attentive, expressive and dangerous set of critics than here, in the fiery embrace of the Barnet blogosphere.

Welcome to Broken Barnet, Crapita.


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