Friday, 11 January 2013

One Barnet: Judicial Review challenge to the Capita contract

Some very welcome news tonight: Steel & Shamash Solicitors, acting on behalf of Barnet resident Maria Nash, have today (Thursday) issued proceedings against Barnet Council, Capita PLC, EC Harris LLP, and Capita Symonds Ltd.

Ms Nash seeks a judicial review of the Council’s decision to award the contract for the “New Support and Customer Services Organisation” or “NSCSO” to Capita plc, and of the Council’s impending decision to award the “Development and Regulatory Services” or “DRS” contract, to either Capita Symonds Ltd. or EC Harris LLP.

Via the Barnet Alliance website Maria Nash said:

 “Despite being involved in local issues, including being engaged in the political process in relation to issues that affect me, I have not been consulted, either individually or as a member of any of the local bodies or interest groups with which I am associated. I have been desperately concerned about the impact of the NSCSO and DRS on me and others, especially the vulnerable such as the elderly, disabled or young. What I would like to see is proper meaningful engagement with stakeholders before a decision is made to outsource services to a private company.”

Steel & Shamash, as Ms Nash's solicitors, issued a press release today stating: 

"We have today on behalf of our client Maria Nash, a resident of the London Borough of Barnet issued proceedings to judicially review and challenge the decision of the London Borough of Barnet to award the contractfor the New Support and Customers Support Organisation 'NSCSO' to Capita PLC and to challenge the intended decision to award a contract for the Development and Regulatory services contract.

The principal grounds for the challenge are as follows:

1. The London Borough of Barnet have failed to comply with section 3(2) Local Government Act 1999 and related statutory guidance, which places an obligation on the local authority to fully consult all stakeholders, including residents, voluntary organisations and businesses.

2.Unlawfully denied a legitimate expectation that the London Borough of Barnet would carry out consultations with its stakeholders

3.Failed to discharge its public sector equality duty.

4.Failed to discharge its fiduciary duty; and

5.Breached its obligations pursuant to regulations 18 and 30 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 to award the NSCSO to the tenderer submitting the most economically advantageous tender."

This is a hugely significant moment for all those united in opposition to the mass privatisation of our public services, not just in our borough, but throughout the UK. 

Our Tory councillors have chosen to pursue the One Barnet programme of outsourcing with no mandate from the people whom they have been elected to represent. The people have now elected to use the due process of the law to challenge their act of betrayal - and what happens in Barnet, as a result of this challenge, may well set a legal precedent, and a warning, for all other authorities around the country.

The legal team instructed by Maria Nash, as it happens, is led by Gerald Shamash, who has acted as solicitor to the Labour party for more than twenty years, and has a wide ranging expertise in law at all levels of political life, at Westminster, in local government, election law - and judicial review.

Oh dear, Tory councillors and senior officers of the London Borough of Broken Barnet: it's all going dreadfully wrong, isn't it?

Don't say Mrs Angry didn't warn you. 

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