Sunday, 25 November 2012

Probably unappealing: a move, the cabinet of curiosities, and a revelation from Brian Coleman

* Stop press: see below for an astonishing attack on his Tory colleagues by Brian Coleman ...

On Friday evening, just after five o'clock, when most members of staff were finishing work, Andrew Travers, the acting CEO of Barnet Council, emailed his weekly message, copied below. 

In view of the contents, and in courtesy to the hundreds of employees struggling to come to terms with the dreadful news they have just been given, you might think he should have made the effort rather earlier in the day. But frankly, such thoughtlessness is par for the course, here in Broken Barnet, where employees are mere figures on a sheet, expendable, and not worthy of consideration.

As ever, Mrs Angry's comments in red.

Sent: 23 November 2012 17:11 

To: All Staff 

Subject: Weekly message from the Deputy Chief Executive 

This week has obviously been dominated by the news of Capita being named as the officer recommendation for the NSCSO contract. 

The announcement of the details and of the business case has surprised people in two ways. Externally observers seem taken aback by the scale of the savings the council will receive - £125 million over the lifetime of the contract with an extra £8 million investment in the service as the contract starts. 

Externally observers ... glossing over the appalling standard of literacy here ... yes, observers are taken aback by the scale of savings announced (although not we cynical bloggers as we were tipped off that a sutiably and extravagantly exaggerated sum would be announced) ... you will note that Mr Travers assures us that we will receive £125 million. 

Make a note of that, for when the court cases start. As far as Mrs Angry is concerned, the word of Andrew 'Black Hole' Travers is assurance enough, of course.

Internally staff affected have undoubtedly been surprised by the rapid scale and pace of transformation. 

The two are obviously connected.  

No shit, Sherlock. The mind blowing grandiosity of a £ billion privatisation and the desperate, unseemly haste to get this contract signed off: yep, that has taken everyone by surprise. And by the way, please note that now Barnet is trying to present the NCSCO package as only worth £320 million, rather than the £750 million clearly detailed in the OJEU notice ...

197 posts could leave the borough for other towns in England and Northern Ireland by December 2013.  

Will. These jobs will leave the borough. Staff will lose their jobs. Except we have reason to believe the real number may be closer to 350: watch this space.

For people with a partner working in London and children in London schools, the thought of upping sticks and moving to the north of England is probably unappealing.

Unappealing. Yeah. Suppose so. Moving two hundred miles away, to somewhere totally strange, leaving behind all your family and friends, your home, your standard of living, your conditions of service, your salary, your pension: unappealing.Not all of us are as fortunate as Black Hole, sadly, long term interim consultants paid £1,000 a day, even when nominally in charge of the cock up that passes for procurement in the London Borough of Broken Barnet.

But it is important for those of you affected that you shouldn't immediately think the only alternative is redundancy. 

No. You could resign now, and save them a lot of trouble & money. Or why not become an interim consultant, and charge Barnet Council £1,000 a day for your efforts?

Capita, if they are confirmed as our partners, are a large organisation with 50,000 staff and they will be committed to finding alternative roles within the company for NSCSO staff wherever possible. 

Hmm. How possible is possible, I wonder, Andrew? Why have you not insisted that they should be given guarantees of employment, rather than offer a vague 'committment'?

In the meantime, screensavers and posters advertise the range of support available for anyone who would like to take it up, both in relation to NSCSO and budget savings. 


Marvellous. Thanks. All those council employees, a month before Christmas, facing the loss of their livelihoods, worrying how they are going to pay their rent, their mortgages, and support their families are no doubt overwhelmed with gratitude, and touched by the depth of your compassion. 

Screen savers and posters, eh?

In the meanwhile .... please keep up your efforts in emailing our Tory councillors about the Capita contract decision: Mrs Angry is hearing some entertaining tales of the reactions of our beloved representatives, including one senior Tory who seems to think that any expression of intent to cease voting for his party is ' a threat' ... yes, really. 

In this borough, you will vote Conservative, whatever the consequences, without question.

This is the way we do things.

This is Broken Barnet, where the 'new relationship' that One Barnet is forging with electors, in a post Localism world, is not an adult, mutually respectful and loving partnership, but one based on dominance, bullying, and mute submission.

Alright. Let's have a closer look at our Cabinet members, shall we, as they are the ones who will be voting, on December 6th, on the 'recommendations' of our enthusiastic senior officers, who want to see us sold into slavery to their counterparts at Crapita for the next ten years. 

On the council's website, it helpfully explains the function of the Cabinet:
  • Members of Barnet Council's cabinet provide positive leadership and strategic direction for the council, both within individual portfolio responsibilities and as part of the corporate responsibilities of the executive. They bring a cross-service perspective to the council, encouraging integrated working across service areas focused on the council's political and administrative priorities.
The cabinet takes an active approach to ensuring that decisions made by the council are informed both politically and administratively, and the council's cabinet decisions are collective and made by the cabinet.
The cabinet members are democratically accountable to the public and are the public face of the council, such they act as ambassadors for the council's work in improving Barnet.
Hmm. Positive leadership. Strategic direction. Hang on: isn't that the role played by the senior officers ... ? Certainly in the competitive dialogue process. Look at the Joint Venture scandal - a decision made not by democratically elected members, but in secret, in meetings whose minutes are being withheld, on spurious grounds, from Mrs Angry's FOI request, and the request of councillors ...
The cabinet, we are told makes sure that 'decisions made by the council are informed both politically and administratively' ... clearly in the case of One Barnet, demonstrably, this has NOT been the case. There has been no proper consultation or information made available to their own Tory colleagues, let alone the other members, or, of course, the electorate.
Still, 'the cabinet members are democratically accountable to the public'  ... you reading this, Andrew Harper? Democratically accountable. Look: there is a threat, and a promise. time to recall the ambassadors, Mrs Angry would say.
*Stop press: 
Brian Coleman has just posted a timely attack in his blog here on his former colleagues' behaviour over One Barnet: according to him, for 'diplomatic reasons' mseveral members failed to attend the recent group meeting, which lasted until late at night as Tories argued over the Capita proposals. Of those present, he claims, a total of 12 voiced concerns: he continues ...
"By this time the Leader's blood pressure was rising until he finally jumped up "red in the face" and said unless the Conservative Group supported this " all the Libraries would have to be closed and social services would be reduced to a crisis only mode "

Several members objected to this blackmail but were swept aside as Group Chairman ( still ambitious at 72 !) Councillor John Marshall called a vote asking "that if the Cabinet endorsed the Officers recommendations then the Group would support them " . There were only 7 abstentions. I would suggest that decision rather fetters Conservative Members ability when it comes to the Scrutiny process in the next fortnight and no doubt Councillors will declare what "whip " they are under at the start of the Scrutiny meetings as Standing orders dictate.

Obviously the whole Cabinet, or" the boys" as they are increasingly known due to their youth and inexperience, voted in favour . Apologies to those Cabinet Members not part of the boys gang whose silence is no doubt due to awaiting developments during the next Conservative Group Leadership campaign next April .

One long serving Conservative Councillor put the phone down on a very young Cabinet Member who phoned him up because he felt his colleague did not understand " One Barnet" and needed it explaining. As the Councillor told me he felt like punching the patronising little git !

Having attended the meeting at the Greek Brotherhood the other week I am well aware of the strength of feeling of many residents and although there was a great deal of left wing hot air spouted which was not relevant to much at all , it is clear that the war is frankly lost ."
Wow. There's more: 
"There is a  Conservative , clear blue water alternative to the current New Labour nonsense and that is to asses individual services and decide where and how they are best delivered . Some belong in the private sector , some in the voluntary sector , some in joint operation with other Boroughs or public bodies  and some we should cease performing at all . Occasionally some should just be left alone in house to get on with the job !
To outsource as Barnet are proposing, just preserves  certain services in aspic for ten years and is as wrong as the left wingers who argue that not one Council  job should be cut or changed .

Roy Hattersley reportedly said that the 1983 Labour manifesto was the longest suicide note in history , I suspect he had not seen the Capita contract."
Coleman concludes:
"True Conservatives in Barnet know "In their guts , this One Barnet scheme is nuts " .Many even get the feeling that the usually sensible, mild mannered  and traditional Conservative Leader of the Council feels the same but has backed himself into a corner .

It is still not to late to change tack and salvage the 2014 election and allow true Conservative philosophy to win through."
Mrs Angry has left a comment for Brian, to the effect that it really is an extraordinary turn of events that have brought us to the same position on One Barnet. Well, isn't it?
Of course if Coleman had not lost his membership of the Tory party, one imagines he would have acted in line with all his shabby, impotent colleagues and publicly endorsed a policy most of them know is a disaster waiting to happen.
What a bunch of dolts and cowards the Tory councillors have shown themselves to be.
It seems they are set on a course of catastrophe, and totally lack the courage and integrity needed to act as they really know they should.
Please use the email addresses listed below, and write to all of them telling them exactly what you think of their treacherous behaviour.


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