Sunday 2 December 2012
One Barnet, the One billion pound gamble: it doesn't matter, says Tory leader
Poor Richard Cornelius.
By day he is a jeweller in Hatton Garden, flogging engagement rings to naive young couples, no doubt the perfect adviser, whispering discreetly to the nervous groom inwardly panicking at the cost of his betrothal, and beguiling the blushing bride to be with a scintillating array of diamonds.
In his other role as Barnet Tory leader, and One Barnet salesman, Cornelius attempts the same obsequious role in persuading the 350,000 residents of Broken Barnet that his £1 billion pound give away to Capita, and possibly one other company, of the profits from our council services is financially prudent, the best choice, the only choice, and not the biggest act of political fraud ever perpetrated on the voters of any local authority.
Here he was this morning, on the Politics Show, pink cheeked, a winsome smile at the ready, and keen to explain to the nation why One Barnet is a marvellous idea, offering with his usual unctuous banalities, the assurance that all will be well, that the incessant enfilade of criticisms directed at the concept, organisation and proposed delivery of this mass privatisation amounts to no more than a minor irritation, a few whinging spoilsports determined to wreck a perfectly reasonable strategy.
Tim Donovan's first question wiped the smile off the dear Leader's face, mind you, with a tactless reference to his chum Brian Coleman, and his blasting of the whole One Barnet outsourcing scam, as seen in the film preceding his interview.
Mrs Angry has been aware for some time, of course, that Brian Coleman is, yes - carrying something of a torch for her ... hence the covert glances across a crowded committee table, the jealous blog posts claiming she is in love with David Beckham, and oh dear, Simon Cowell ... the attempts to cover up his real feelings for her by references to old hags, when the girl he loves is up in the gallery, and his shouting at her in desperation in the Town Hall corridor, tormented by the frustrations of unrequited love ...
Since he has been suspended by the Tory party, Brian has been liberated from all restraint, and is free to express his real opinions, more and more confident in supporting Mrs Angry's views in public. His recent conversion to the campaign against One Barnet is the prime example, and in the Politics Show he repeated her warning that the Tory council's replacement of a 'monolithic' local authority with the even greater monolithic stranglehold of a private company like Capita is clearly idiotic, and dangerous.
When Mrs Angry used the phrase 'monolithic', she was alluding to the original cockeyed 'vision' of Mike Freer's easycouncil 'concept', which was the genesis of One Barnet, (although politically Freer is now trying to distance himself from the awkward problem of the bastard child he left on our doorstep). Freer had admired easyjet's business model, measured against the 'monolithic' traditional model of airlines, claiming the same approach in local government offered more choice and - ha - more transparency to the resident - but clearly he had not thought his brilliant idea through to its logical conclusion.
After a tight smiled attempt at belittling the impact of the toxic £1 billion programme Cornelius is wheeling through the streets of Broken Barnet, telling us that the horrible smell of rotting privatisation is really the overwhelming scent of sweet smelling roses, that this huge project is of minimal importance, only 13% of budget, 'just' back office functions, something that 'doesn't matter', 'small things that people won't notice', the Tory leader today informed us, smugly, that One Barnet was really a jolly good idea because 'it's no fun subsidising bureaucrats'.
Ah, yes: the faceless bureaucracy of democratic local government, one of those touchstones of the retro-Tory, Daily Mail blinkered obsession which passes for policy here in Broken Barnet.
Thank God, we will soon be paying instead for the faceless bureaucracy of unaccountable private enterprise.More choice? More transparency? Meh. Maybe not, eh, Mike?
Think of the greater fun to be had, citizens, of subsidising the close attentions of Capita, Agilisys and iMPOWER. Well - in fact, this has already begun.
As Mr Reasonable revealed yesterday here , last month, while we listened to our Tory masters lecture us on the need for austerity, we paid the obscene amount of more than £780,000 to Agilisys/iMPOWER for unknown 'services' as the One Barnet implementation partners, and a staggering £318,000 to Trowers & Hamlin for their work on the project. More than a million pounds in one month to One Barnet consultants: this represents £47,800 of your council tax to these companies, for each working day in October.
Richard Cornelius thinks that no one will notice when 70% of council services are outsourced.
* Here is a list of services transferring from council control, a list which exposes the blatant misinformation now being presented by our panicking Barnet Tories:
1.Residential/ Supporting Living/ Day care services for adults with disabilities
2. Council Housing Services
3. Parking Service
4. Legal Services Department
5. Audit Service – the majority of the service is provided by the consultancy Pricewaterhouse & Cooper
6. Information Technology
7. Human Resources & Payroll
9. Health & Safety
10. Financial Services
11. Customer Services (Call Centre) which includes Social Care Direct Team based in Adult Social Care.
13. Property Services
14. ·Revenues & Benefits
15. Corporate Programmes (Project management)
17. Electoral Registration
18. Trading Standards & Licensing,
19. Land Charges,
20. Planning & Development,
21. Building Control &Structures,
22. Environmental Health,
23. Highways Strategy
24. Highways Network Management,
25. Highways Traffic & Development,
26. Highways Transport & Regeneration,
27. Strategic Planning & Regeneration,
28. Hendon Cemetery & Crematoria.
29. Priority Intervention Team
30. Music Service
31. Public Health Service
Small things that no one will notice, of course.
He thinks no one will care when every call to Barnet Council by residents is answered in Blackburn, Lancashire.
He thinks that planning, one of the hugely important services included as the major feature of the next massive One Barnet giveaway, 'may' be privatised.
Has he told Capita that this inclusion is not certain, now, in Richard's view, anyway?
And yes, now Capita has the £750 million bid in the bag, it is clearly going to get the DRS bundle too. £1 billion handed on a plate to one monolithic company, by our Tory council and their senior management team, without permission from a single resident.
In the Politics Show film, the observation was made that what is happening in Barnet is a national story because it has such significance for all other local authorities - and other public sector bodies, including the NHS - throughout the UK.
One Barnet is, as the programme stated, the ultimate test case.
This is undoubtedly true, as we shall now see.
In the meanwhile, here is the Politics Show footage: