Sunday 1 September 2013

Gone, but not forgotten: democracy in Barnet - a borough mourns

To be fair, democracy in this borough has been rather a long time dying. 

It's hard to pinpoint the moment when it began to falter, and weaken, and lay down on the ground, whimpering, and fatally wounded - but in the last years of Tory administration the prognosis was clear for everyone to see. 

Our Tory councillors were then easily persuaded that the kindest thing to do was to arrange for the people from Capita to step in, put their hands around the neck of our public services,  and facilitate a swift and painless end.

With great sorrow, therefore, Mrs Angry must report that, early this morning, on the 1st of September, 2013, the life of the democratic process here in the London Borough of Broken Barnet moved peacefully to its close.  

There was an unexpected display of resistance from the deceased in the last moments of life, mercifully ended by a pillow over the face, discreetly applied by Conservative Leader Richard Cornelius, attended by the massed ranks of our Conservative councillors, and directed by a team of executives from Crapita Plc.

Friends of the deceased gathered in unified sorrow yesterday to express their sense of loss at this long anticipated demise. A funeral was held, and mourners moved through the streets of Broken Barnet to mark the passing of democracy, and the fatal loss of our local public services.

Sadly missed
A message of sympathy from North Finchley

Our deceased democracy passes by council offices at Barnet House

A eulogy for our public services

And a message for our  new friends

As part of the funeral service, and at every stop along the way, a eulogy was read out to the assembled mourners: 

We are gathered here today to bid farewell to Barnet Public Services. 

It is sad, of course, to lose a single service, but to lose the majority of this family is truly tragic. 

Perhaps you did not know all of them, but all of us were acquainted with some of them.   

They were there to serve us, and they provided jobs for some of us.   

The purpose of these services – like the motivation of those who provided them – was purely to do the job well.   

They were not perfect, any more than any of us are, but these services were answerable to US, the public. 

We could reach them directly and press our case when necessary.   

There were personal connections and there was continuity.   

They were part of our community.

They were ours, we valued them and we fought hard to save them.   

They would have lived but for the key to their survival – the date of the decision of their execution – being hidden from view and the executioners’ misleading statements about it when asked in the High Court.

Now those services as we knew them are gone.

What was public – is now private.

The motivation and purpose are profit – and not service; and our community rightly grieves.
As we mourn our loss, we extend our sympathies to those who have the added hardship of being forced to move, or who have lost their job.   

As we watch our public services being buried far from their home, we worry how call-centre workers with no connection to, knowledge of, or interest in us and our community will respond to our needs.

We worry especially about what will happen to us, and to our loved ones as the first priority of even more vital services – becomes profit, for we have seen how this has harmed some and endangers more people in the privatised care regimes under Fremantle and Your Choice Barnet.

Fighting for the right to be consulted about the care of those we hold dear, we are told by such organisations that they don’t have to listen to us; because they are private companies.

So how will we ensure that our environment, our buildings, the goods sold in our shops, our highways, our estates and our personal data are safe in the hands of Capita; an enormous organisation with a far-from-perfect record of delivering on its promises in the public service sector?

By their actions, the executioners – and you know who they are ­– have dealt a body blow to local democracy.   

And although we have lost the initial battle, there is much to fight for.

As we bid farewell to public services, let us rededicate ourselves to that fight and to restoring that democracy:  To holding the Council and Capita to account for every drop in standards, every failure to deliver services, and every penny not accounted for.

Do NOT rest in peace Capita and Barnet Council:


Indeed we are. 

Welcome to Capitaville. 

To our elected representatives: Mrs Angry suggests you crawl back to your constituencies, and prepare for defeat.

To our new corporate overseers: mind your step.

This was Broken Barnet: you'll be lucky to get out of here in one piece. 

Don't say we didn't warn you. 

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