Information about my work as a Labour Councillor for East Finchley in the London Borough of Barnet

Friday, 7 December 2012

Welcome to the London Borough of Capita

So it's agreed. Months, years even of campaigning and hard work have come down to now. I won't say all is lost, because we still have the even worse DRS contract, which must be stopped. I feel disappointed becuase nothing has monopolised more of my seven and a half months on Barnet Council more than this.

When I was first elected, I thought being a councillor would be an extension of much of what I already did organising and helping out in the community. I thought I would be more of a ward Councillor than one who did a lot of work in the Town Hall, then this landed on my desk. After Andreas' stunning victory in Brunswick Park, we got two extra Committee seats, and I got one on Budget and Performance, to go with subbing on Auditing. So I have been on the scrutiny frontline!

We will need to do a stocktake and see what scrutiny can really achieve in a Council where we aren't actually delivering the services ourself, and that we are in effect reviewing an oganization we will, in my view, have little control or influence over. Once we are run by Capita, I think it will be their way, and we will be a sideshow.

For all the promises, guarantees and assurances, I don't believe any of it. From what I hear about Capita, from what I know about the Council's own terrible record on contracting and procurement and what I read about what is going on in local government elsewhere, I fear for this Borough. I am not convinced there is anything Capita have to fear. They are staking just 12% of their management fee on meeting performance targets. Piddling amount. nothing to lose if they fail our borough. Any of the management fee they lose out on will be compensated for by the dirty great mounds of profit they will be making at my constituent's expense. Pass me the sickbag.

Last night was a night to remember, for all the wrong reasons. The public were treated with contempt when they asked questions, there was no real debat, just a set of pre-written questions, and pre-written answers. Formailities for form's sake. That wans't scrutiny, open minded decision making or thorough research. It was a blind leap into darkness.
But let's not be too disheartened, there is still so much more to fight for. The DRS as I mentioned, but I hope there might be a judicial review of the NSCSO as well. Let's get back on our saddles and fight the next battle.