Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Barnet Council website not working properly for voting information - Another #CapitaFail

I have been contacted by an elderly Barnet resident who is confused about the process for postal voting. She rang me and said that she was most confused as she's been sent two return envelopes, one labelled "A" and one labelled "B".  I asked if she there was a leaflet, but she said it was hard to read and understand. Of course I will be going around later to sort the problem out, but it seems to me to be a poor system, especially when many postal voters are elderly with poor eyesight etc.

I thought I'd see if there was any guidance on the council website. I went to the "Useful forms" page on the website. Many pages are not working properly and the menus take voters to the wrong pages or even ones that don't exist. The Barnet Council website is a vital resource for voters needing help and it is unacceptable that it is not working. It is just the latest example of the One Barnet Capita outsourcing contract failing to deliver.

It is scandalous that Capita and Barnet Council cannot get their website working for voters in the fortnight before an election. It appears that they've made changes and not even bothered to test them. When I tried to access the "Postal votes" page from the useful forms page I was sent to the results page for the 2017 General election.

When I tried the "Proxy Votes" page, I got "Page Not Found", it is simply unacceptable and exemplifies the slapdash approach to the public.
Yesterday the Tories  Deputy Leader Dan Thomas told the Barnet Times that Capita's share price had gone up 13% when queried about the companies problems. He should stop being a cheerleader for a private company and start getting them to do their job. It is well known in IT companies that the quickest way to save money is to cut testing and QA. It is clear that Capita's troubles are impacting Barnet.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Many thanks for your continued support of the Barnet Eye blog!

Roger Tichborne
A quick note to all readers of the Barnet Eye blog. As of now. we've had 2,368,026 page views, since we started keeping stats. That is an incredible number. It will have probably have gone up a few more by the time you read this. There is a counter in the bar at the side of the page, if not viewed on a mobile phone.

I am especially pleased to say that March 2018 was our best ever month for page views. When I started the blog back in 2008, I thought that there was a lack of proper coverage of local Barnet issues in the local press. I never expected the blog to last nine and a half years of get over two million views. As the first two years views are not counted, it is actually far more.
Blog views 2010-2018

This blog saw the launch of a series of blogs in Barnet, such as Mr Reasonable, Mr Mustard and Mrs Angry's blogs. All are excellent in their own way. It takes a huge amount of effort and energy to keep writing it. I've written over 4.5 million words in that time. We've broken many news stories locally and we've helped raise a huge amount of money for local charities.

We always welcome guest blogs, so if you have a topic you want to blog about, get in touch. If you want to raise money for a charity or publicise an event tell us. The second most read blog ever on this site is a guest blog from 2010. I don't edit them (unless there are typo's etc). I don't publish slander or swear words or  personal attacks on individuals. I try and keep it all positive, not easy when writing a local blog.

Since I started, I've also written many blogs about my ongoing struggle against Prostate cancer and my life with dyslexia. Both are issue close to my heart. Many people have said just how much this has helped them. The seventh most read blog on this site is "The practical guide to watching someone die". It is important that we speak about these issues. I think that even if I gave up writing about local politics, I'd still want to cover these topics.

Music is a passion, as anyone who knows me will testify to. My one biggest failure with this blog is that I don't cover the local music scene properly. If there is anyone out there who wants to become the music blogger for the Barnet Eye please get in touch!

As we approach the local elections next week, I can make one promise. That win, loose or draw (if such thing is possible), the Barnet Eye will still be here. If we win, then we will use the blog to keep you informed of the workings of the council from an insider perspective. We will try and ensure an unsurpassed level of transparency. If we lose, we will simply carry on as normal. Whatever happens, I will still be writing music, running Mill Hill Music Complex Studios, organising Mill Hill Music Festival, volunteering at the Mill Hill Churches homeless project, acting as chair of a local educational charity, playing football and all the other things that call on my time. They say if you want something doing, ask a busy man.

But mostly I just wanted to thank the readers of this blog for their continued support, through good times and bad, through the highs and lows of the last 9 1/2 years. Here's to the next 9/12 years!

Barnet Council on the precipice as Capita posts monster losses

This morning, the strategic partner of Barnet Council - Capita (silent "R") posted absolutely enormous losses.  The BBC is reporting that they are doing a cash call of £700 million to prop the business up, after a series of disasterous mistakes. To help pay the bills, the company is also disposing of £300 million worth of businesses. Even more worrying is that Barnet Council has used taxpayers funds to make advance payments to the company, despite it being clear that the company has massive financial difficulties. Respected Barnet commentator, John Dix recently wrote

"While payments to Capita and Re look relatively modest that is because of the large advance payments paid last year which you can see more clearly in the chart below:

Comensura is still receiving large sums of money and while this month that was "only" £1.15 million, to date we have paid Comensura £16 million with one month of the financial year remaining as you can see in the chart below:

As we reported last week, the Barnet Conservatives deselected Councillor Sury Khatri for the forthcoming elections as he was keen to call time on this financial mismanagement. Watch what Councillor Khatri said here

The Barnet Conservative party have tried to sweep this under the carpet, with candidates and councillors posting a series of ever more personal and childish tweets about Councillor Khatri.

As the Hale Candidate Mr Jajeh seems to be under the illusiuon that Sury Khatri has been happy with the Tory administration, let me remind him of his discontent about Capita back in September 2013. These are the words of Former local Tory Bigwig Brian Coleman.
"Councillor Sury Khatri (Mill Hill Ward) Elected in 2010 when 16 years of Liberal dominance in Mill Hill ended. Heavy smoker who dislikes virtually every aspect of Conservative Group policy . Made a speech once in the Conservative Group in which he attacked privatisation , parking policy , One Barnet , Library closures , cuts etc and which colleagues thought was a resignation  speech but still he hangs on . Quite happy to tell anyone who asks that "One Barnet" is crazy (as he did at the Audit Committee a couple of months ago ) . Many Tory Councillors think he is barking and wonder if he will sign up to the 2014 Manifesto . Will cause problems if the Tory Administration is reelected next year with a slim majority. The Tory Councillor most likely to defect to Labour . "
As you can see, since September 2013, Cllr Khatri, as deputy chair of the Audit committee has been sceptical about the One Barnet/Capita project. I have spoken to Sury on many occasions privately about One Barnet. He has always said that he felt it was his civic duty to act as a critic in his role in the Audit committee. On Saturday, he confirmed my suspicions that as the Deputy Leader of Barnet Council, Dan Thomas, sees the One Barnet/Capita project as his own, he was determined to silence Sury Khatri.

Normally internal squabbles in the local Conservative Party have little bearing on the public. However the potential collapse of Capita is a totally different matter. They are involved in almost every aspect of the council. Back in January the Barnet Eye sent a Freedom of Information request to Barnet Council asking about contingency plans for a Capita failure. This followed the collapse of Carillion. As we detailed last week, no such plans existed, beyond a few clauses in the contract with Capita, which by definition would have collapsed if a contingency plan was needed.

The biggest threat to Barnet is that the expertise has been lost to the Borough. For Barnet to extract itself from a collapse of Capita would be like the proverbial attempts to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

As a  long term Barnet resident, I cannot believe that what used to be a well run council has got itself into such a mess. This is what happens when we let political ideology rule over common sense.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

The Tweets of the Week in the London Borough of Barnet - 22/04/2018

It's Sunday, so it's that time of the week again for our most popular regular article.

Don't forget to follow any tweeters who tickle your fancy!

1. Lets start with a rather nice tweet from Mill Hill

2. Always good to see the 2nd Edgware scouts out and about! A great way for youngsters to have fun and learn great skills

3. Big shout out to Jade Ward Nurses at Edgware Hospital

4. Tragic news. Another violent death in our Borough

5. A new arrival at one of the jewels in our Borough's crown

6. Got Green fingers? A date for your diary!

7. One of our esteemed former residents had an important anniversary this week!

8. Another date for your diary. This time one for sports and cricket lovers

9. Great work from our amazing local Rugby team

10. What could be better, music and sunshine in Mill Hill!

That's all Folks!

Saturday, 21 April 2018

The Saturday List #173 - The Top Ten Football Managers of all Time

Image result for brian clough
Brian Clough - the all time greatest manager in England
Yesterday Arsene Wenger announced he was leaving Arsenal after 22 years. For many that is a lifetime. With three League Trophies and seven FA Cups, Wenger will go down as one of the greats. I thought I'd compile my Top Ten English Team Managers of all time. I've not included any current managers, apart from Wenger as he is in the departure lounge. I doubt that he'll do anything to enhance his legacy in English football from here on in.

1. Brian Clough (Derby, Nottingham Forest)

2.  Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)

3. Bill Shankly (Liverpool)

4. Bob Paisley (Liverpool)

5. Sir Matt Busby (Manchester United)

6. Herbert Chapman (Huddersfield,Arsenal)

7.. Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)

8. Bill Nicholson (Spurs)

9. Joe Mercer (Manchester City)

10.  Don Revie (Leeds)

When I started to pull this list together, I thought it would be quite easy. It was anything but. How can you possibly say whether Herbert Chapman was a better manager than Arsene Wenger, given that both managed in different era's? Chapman won the league twice with two different clubs. He was the first English supermanager and died at his peak.

How could Alex Ferguson possibly lose out to Brian Clough? If it was a simple count of trophies, then of course Sir Alex Ferguson would be no 1. However, you also have to look at the club, the resources and the time. Clough won the league with two small town clubs and won the European Cup twice, taking both teams from the Second Division. In short he had a far steeper mountain to climb with far fewer resources. How could Shankly finish above Paisley, when Paisley won far more for the same club? That is perhaps easier, as Shankly built the team and put the structures in place for Paisley. No Shankly, no Paisley success.  How could Don Revie make the list and Kenny Dalglish not? Dalglish won three league titles with Liverpool and one with unfashionable Blackburn, wheras Revie only one one league title and one FA cup with Leeds? That was a very hard one, I omitted Dalglish as his reign really brought the golden years of Liverpool domination to an end. Whilst his achievements with Blackburn were impressive, the success was built on sand and evaporated as quickly as it appeared.

To make the list, the manager had to not only win things but transform the club. All of the managers on the list took the clubs to a higher level and built a legacy. Joe Mercer at Manchester City took a club languishing in the Second division won a league title, the FA Cup, the League cup and the European cup winners cup in short succession. The club threw his legacy away in the following decade with mismanagement, bad appointments and bad buys. Bill Nicholson was the first manager in the modern era to win the double, at a time when it was seen as nigh on impossible.

As I said, it was a hard list to put together, but I think it is just about right. If I put another one together, it will be interesting to see who of the current crop makes it. Will Pepe, Jose and Jurgen make it? I think that in the Premiership era, when it is almost impossible to "do a Leicester", the managers of the big clubs have to do far more than Revie to qualify for a place in the greats. Maybe if Sean Dysche wins the Premiership with Burnley, that would guarantee a place. I thought about Ranieri, his achievement with Leicester was awesome, but there was no legacy and to be a great you need more than one fantastic season. I suspect that Pepe needs a Champions League or two and a couple more league titles to get near Joe Mercer.

I am sure that there will be all manner of fans of all manner of clubs calling me an idiot as they read this. If you disagree, make your own list!

Friday, 20 April 2018

Hugh Rayner, chair of Barnet Audit, slams his own committee for poor training and skirting over issues

Last night Long serving Barnet Councillor and chair of Audit, Hugh Rayner, chaired his final meeting of the committee. As is the way when a councillor retires, Cllr Rayner said a few words about the committee and the insights he'd gained in his time as chair. Normally these speeches are an exercise in backslapping. Last nights meeting was perhaps the most explosive end of term meeting in the history of the council. As we reported earlier, the Deputy Chair of the Committee, Sury Khatri blasted his own (former) party and stated that residents were being fleeced. In all the excitement of this explosive revealation, many will have forgotten the fact that Councillor Rayner also blasted (albiet in a more calm and measured way) the workings of his own committee. Councillor Rayner claimed that the committee wasn't properly trained for the job, that the committee had skirted over issues. Watch this clip. Here is what Councillor Rayner said.

"The Audit Committee is an important committee. It is important  that members get involved in the process and are able to ask the deep questions that are necessary. I sometimes get the impression that we skirt over a little bit, possibly by lack of knowledge, but good training will lead to better auditing"


In short, last night we saw the chair of the Audit committee saying that the committee members lacked proper training and had skirted over issues. When you then consider that his vice chair stated that residents are being fleeced by Capita and other contractors and that the leadership doesn't like difficult questions, there can be no doubt that the administration is out of its depth, badly run and not capable of making sure that anything is being done properly.

The complete mess that the council have made, with a top heavy structure of contractors monitoring contractors and no one being properly accountable was exposed by local blogger John Dix (AKA Mr Reasonable) who asked a question of the committee that reveals why it is almost impossible to get anything done properly in Barnet. Just watch this short clip. Near the end, Hugh Rayner asks whether the structure could be better. The non answer sums up just why we need a new broom.


The Barnet Eye believes that John Dix should be co-opted onto the Audit committee as an independent peoples representative to ask these robust and difficult questions. I am quite frankly in awe of what John has done. He is constantly denied access to documents and fobbed off, yet he asks harder and more searching questions than the rest of the committee.

I applaud Hugh Rayner for telling the truth. Sadly, like Sury Khatri, it seems that the more capable and independent minded members of the Tory party are surpluss to requirements. As Sury Khatri said "As Cllr Dan Thomas (Deputy Leader of the Barnet Conservatives) lays the ground for his right wing and hard Brexit based leadership coup, he only wants yes men in the Conservative group"

 The Barnet Eye was the first blog to film a meeting in the council chamber, before it was officially allowed. Rather amusingly, it was Hugh Rayner who we chose to film. Hugh was not best pleased at the time, but we won the day and I think it is quite appropriate that we were there to film what is perhaps the finest moment from Hugh in the Council Chamber. As a candidate for the Lib Dems in Mill Hill in the elections in May, I absolutely guarantee that I will ensure that Hugh's suggestions are taken up. Like Hugh, I believe good scrutiny is the key to success. I suspect that I will be having quite a few friendly cups of tea with Hugh to pick his brains on how to ensure Barnet residents get good service. I will make this vow to Hugh and every other Barnet resident. If I get in, I will not wait until my final council meeting to make important points that are vital to ensure value for money for residents. I will ask these questions from day one.

Blistering farewell speech from retiring Mill Hill Councillor says Barnet Residents getting fleeced

Last night, respected and well liked Mill Hill Councillor, Sury Khatri made a farewell speech at the Barnet Council Audit Committee.  . Sury was the vice chair of this committee, a role recognising his status as one of the most capable members of the Conservative administration. The committee is one of the most important in Barnet as it has ultimately responsibility for the oversight of the business of Barnet Council. What Sury said was devastating. Watch this video.

Chair, it is usual for the vice chair of a committee to thank the chair at the end of the municipal year. As this is my last meeting as a Barnet councillor, perhaps you will permit me a few final valedictory words too?
It has been an honour to serve as their community champion for the residents of Mill Hill for 8 years. In that time I have tried my best to take up their issues and concerns, and deliver real positive changes, such as the diving club, the future of the library and with the many planning applications we have received. I fear though that my zealous advocacy for the residents of Mill Hill may have cost me the selection.  As Cllr Dan Thomas (Deputy Leader of the Barnet Conservatives) lays the ground for his right wing and hard Brexit based leadership coup, he only wants yes men in the Conservative group, and thus I have been discarded. Astonishing that after 8 years of serving the community, without a blemish on my record and more than a decade serving the party amounted to zero.
I have had residents contacting me expressing shock and disgust – a Conservative councillor telling me among other things that when joined the Conservative party it was not this party – a nasty party. Isn’t it telling that of the 31 other councillors only a handful had the decency to contact me expressing also shock and disgust. Today have the party group chairman sitting alongside here but not even a squeak - silence is deafening. We have been hearing for some time that deselection was discussed last summer and that the exercise should be prolonged to the 11th hour – damage limitation was on mind. Momentum has arrived in the Conservative party. however, my time at the council has been overshadowed by the disastrous Capita contracts, which is falling apart at the seams. 4 years on issues still keep crawling out the woodwork. This contract represents poor value for money, and the residents are being fleeced. I believe my deselection by Daniel Thomas is motivated by my scepticism of the Capita contracts. Today’s public questions and current media reports vividly illustrates the complete incompetence of capita. The contracts are a shambles and a disaster and performing badly and council taxpayers are being fleeced by Capita .
Some examples:
The new depot – this has been badly mismanaged but Cllr Thomas should be more worried about his own dire performance. The disaster we have seen with bin collections these last two weeks are because of his disastrous management of the move from the Mill Hill depot to the Abbots depot and having to pay over the odds, He is the chair of ARG (assets, regeneration & Growth) committee, and it is now apparent that there is not enough room for the repair of vehicles, and I understand there are serious problems with the structures. one cannot put such important projects in the hands of such a useless person. who is going to pick up the tab, not Capita but Barnet taxpayers?
Another example - take the millions paid to Capita and which are lost and irrecoverable due to their incompetence on the design of the site in north london – not been made public, why? next estates. The list is long but time is against me. I want to thank all the officers connected with this committee and those of the other committees, governance officers with whom I have the pleasure to work with and for the support they extended me in carrying out my councillor duties – very much appreciated.
But returning to my thanks to the chair - although I am finding it difficult I will say only this on behalf of the committee members to thank the chairman for the neutral and inclusive manner he has conducted the meetings during the last 12 months. This is your last meeting too, as you have stood down from hale. All I can say is that the people of Hale will get a significant upgrade in the quality of their representation if they vote for the labour candidates - Ernest, Rachel and Liron. They deserve better.  I hope the residents deliver the right result on 3rd May – Conservatives losing control. Thank you"

Roger Tichborne, Lib Dem candidate for Mill Hill commented "Councillor Khatri is one of the most respected politicians in the Borough. This was recognised by the administration in his appointment as the vice chair of the audit committee. It is disgraceful that he appears to have been deselected because he was asking too many difficult questions. If Councillor Khatri says that residents are being fleeced, then he is someone who knows. He has said that he hopes residents deliver the right result on May 3rd. In Mill Hill, this means voting Lib Dems. Only the Lib Dems will curb the excesses of both the hard right and the loony left in Barnet. Our candidates have solid experience of running businesses and a long record of working for the community, rather than for vested interests. Last nights events in the council chamber show just how desperately the council needs people with common sense and common decency. The Lib Dems were the majority party in Mill Hill from 1994 to 2010. Mill Hill residents voted for Sury because they recognised he was a sensible and decent Conservative in 2010. Sadly for Sury and for Mill Hill, it is clear that these values have been abandoned by the Conservative Party. We hope that all Mill Hill residents recognise that it is time to return to these values with a vote for the Liberal Democrats".

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Summer arrives in Mill Hill - Some views around town

Summer has really arrived in Mill Hill. It seems hard to believe that a month ago we were shivering in snowy conditions and wearing ten layers.
Walking around Mill Hill park, it was great to see so many people in the cafe, playing football, sunbathing. Shame about the full bins and litter, but lets not dwell on that today, lets celebrate our community.

So come on everybody, lets see your tweets of our fantastic neighbourhood.

Here's a couple of mine.

And here's a few that caught my eye.

I think I am blessed to live in Mill Hill. It is worth fighting to keep it like these.

P.S. I've signed up to support the Pesticide Free Barnet Campaign. All those lovely blooms need bees. Lets do our bit to protect them.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Getting a Good Deal for Barnet residents?

This week the Barnet Conservatives published their manifesto, claiming they will be "Getting a Good Deal". This is what their manifesto says

Click on image for more readable version
Given that the Barnet Conservatives have been running the council since 2002, we have a record to judge them against. As such it is fairly simple to see if we can trust them to get a good deal. Lets look at what they say in the first paragraph
"It is no good us paying more into the Metropolitan Police budget than any other borough while getting the fewest police officers per head in return"
To my eyes, this says that the Barnet Conservatives have managed to bungle their way to getting us the worst deal from The Mayor of any Borough in London. I was quite staggered to read that they think boasting about how bad they are at getting a deal would win votes. In the second paragraph they state
"Barnet will not spend more of your money on extra police when you have already paid for them. Labour’s Mayor owes you those officers and we will fight to see that they are delivered"
For some reason, the Barnet Conservatives have an obsession with the Mayor of London. They even passed a motion in Council labelling him an "enemy of the people". In my business career, I've done several courses, including one on negotiating. The first rule when trying to get a good deal is to build a relationship with the other party. Calling them names is guaranteed to make it as hard as possible to get a good deal. As I said at the start, we have to judge the manifesto against the record. The record shows that the Barnet Conservatives do not have the common sense to work constructively with the Mayor.

Then there is funding from the Conservative government (which has been running the country since 2010 in one form or another). How good a deal have the Barnet Conservatives been getting?
"Where a Barnet voice is required in negotiating with Government or City Hall, a
Conservative Council will not sit quietly. As it stands, direct Government funding to the boroughs is unfair; Barnet gets £200 per head whilst Camden receives £505 per head"
Sadly for the Barnet Conservatives, they can't blame the Mayor for this one. They've had eight years to get a better deal. There own manifesto demonstrates that they can't.

Then they move onto how they manage contractors. They say
"We will continue to seek good value for money and will work with
our staff and contractors to make sure Barnet gets the services it deserves."
The figures tell a different story, with huge overspending on contracts with Capita and Re.

Over £116 million in overspending since 2013. Does that demonstrate that they can get a good deal? They go on to say
"Contractors will be robustly monitored to ensure continued value for money. 
This is at odds with reality. In 2014, they sacked the staff who monitored highway repairs. The result is a plague of potholes in the Borough. Anyone who has ever employed builders will know that if you don't check the work they do, then it isn't done properly. They go on to claim
"Contingency plans will be maintained to ensure that, whatever happens in our borough, the emergency will not catch Barnet Council out."
On January 15th, following the collapse of Carillion, I sent an FOI request to Barnet Council asking whether a contingency plan existed for the collapse of Capita.  I am rather surprised to see that the page on the council website, does not note that I appealed against the response from Barnet Council and that my appeal was upheld. The response pointed to documents released on 27th February, which were over a month after my request.

It was clear from my discussions with Barnet Council that no  propercontingency plan existed on 15th January, apart from some contract provisions (that would be very hard to enforce against a bankrupt company). This email states

 Dear Mr Tichborne
I write further to our email acknowledging your request for an internal review into the handling of your request for information.

You have requested an internal review of the Council's response in relation to your request.  I have undertaken the internal review and uphold your complaint, the outcome of my review is set out below.  Your complaint is upheld in part.
The request was overlooked and not logged until 23 February 2018 for which I apologise.  The failure to log caused a delay in getting the information to you, but we did agree to backdate the date of the request to when you originally sent it as the fault was on our side so to the extent that the statutory due date was not met I uphold your complaint.

Therefore at the time the Council started processing your request, the information was held by the Council.  I can further advise that the report to PCMC summarises the contingency arrangements, as set out in the relevant contracts.  The report also describes how those arrangements would be exercised, in the event of an insolvency event.  So, in terms of the information held as at 15 th January, it would be the contracts themselves, which are already published on the council's website.
There was an undocumented, internal discussion about how the arrangements would be exercised on Monday 15 th January.  The arrangements were also discussed in June 2017, as part of the consideration of a contract pre-payment, and in December 2016, for the same reason.
Thank you for your interest in Barnet Council.
Your Rights

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:
The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

Telephone: 0303 123 1113
Website: www.ico.org.uk
I was of the opinion that this response was still insufficient.  Barnet supplied a further clarification, as you can see, getting a response is like getting blood from a stone. 

Dear Mr Tichborne
Further to your email requesting clarification on the points you have raised about the attached respone sent I can advise the following:
1) You state that there were discussions on the subject in Dec 2016 and June 2017. Are you seriously trying to suggest that there was no documented output from these meetings and that there were no preliminary measures put into place? Surely that would be negligent.
The documented output from those meetings was appended to the relevant Committee reports, which were published at the time.  Links are:
Performance and Contract Management Committee, 15 th November 2016 '   https://barnetintranet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=693&MId=8796  agenda item 8.
Policy and Resources Committee, 27 th June 2017 ' https://barnetintranet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=692&MId=8736  agenda item 15.
The 'preliminary measures' are those documented in the contracts and set out in the report to the Performance and Contract Management Committee on 27 th February 2018.
2) Why on earth would you have an "undocumented" meeting on January 15th? This is not credible given the issues.
Our original response refers to an 'undocumented, internal discussion', rather than to a 'meeting', i.e. it was an informal discussion between officers about arrangements that were already in place and, as such, a record of the discussion was not made.
Yours sincerely
R***** C*****
Information Management Officer
Commissioning Group
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP
Barnet Online: www.barnet.gov.uk
As you can quite clearly see, claiming that "contingency plans" were in place is quite misleading. The Conservative administration has been forced into action after five years (the contracts started in 2013). As far as I am concerned, not having a contingency plan for five years, to run the Borough if your main contractors goes bust, was negligent. They now have a plan in place, but it was only because bloggers etc such as myself forced them to.

We finish with the claim from the manifesto that they spend money prudently
"Above all, we will always remember that it is your money we are spending, and will do so prudently. " 
As you can see, they spend it very prudently on their allowances https://www.barnet.gov.uk/citizen-home/council-and-democracy/democracy-and-elections/currently-elected-councillors/allowances-and-expenses.html and top execs https://open.barnet.gov.uk/dataset/workforce-and-senior-salaries-2017-18

Of course Barnet Council should pay competitive salaries at market rates to attract the best talents, but if this was the case, surely we wouldn't be seeing huge overspends on contracts, Childrens services failing, the IT resilience infrastructure being rated as inadequate and we wouldn't be seeing children excluded from libraries and potholes all over our roads. As for councillor allowances, some councillors get the basic £10,000 and do nothing at all. I would like to see all councillors required to publish a monthly timesheet detailing the work they've done for their allowances. I have no issue paying allowances to councillors of any party who work hard. If they can prove it fine. It seems to me that they are not delivering value for money. The state of roads and pavements is all the evidence I need to see that.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Eight reasons why we need to end the mismanagement of Barnet Council

Where did all the Barnet jobs go?
Anyone familiar with Barnet Council and what has been happening over the last four years will know that our 'flagship' Conservative Council has created a complete mess with its one Barnet outsourcing program. You may not believe me, but there are countless press stories which document the problems. See the links below. 

Barnet Council signed a huge outsourcing contract with Capita, allegedly to save money. Figures detailing the overspend on the contract with Capita and Re show that this now has a cumilitive overspend running total of over £100 million pounds. Huge sums are being spent on agency staff. In short, the council is being run into the ground. 

The Barnet Eye and other Barnet bloggers have identified numerous issues. We have seen countless recovery plans, all of which are sticking plasters, when what we need is to deal with the root cause. That is that this current Conservative regime is completely incompetent. We need a root and branch review of the process, conducted openly. If Capita are proud of their record and believe they can demonstrate that they add value for money, they should be screaming from the rafters about how marvellous their contract is, not hiding behind "commercial confidentiality". 

Fellow blogger Mr Reasonable has published a list of questions for Thursdays audit committee meeting. This is in light of a major fraud, which will be discussed at the meeting. 

You may think that none of this is your concern. We have calculated that the overspend on the One Barnet project, detailed below equates to £300 per person living in Barnet. I don't know about you, but I think that £1,500 for our family budget (a family of five people) would make a substantial difference. My guess is that would fix all of the potholes in Barnet, sort out the problems that OFSTED found in Childrens services,  restore library services and still give you a lower tax bill. When the advert they published stated they cut council tax by £97, they neglected to say that they could have delivered all of their promises and cut it by even more if they ran the council properly.

1. 2017 audit problems http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=144&MId=9401&Ver=4 see point 8 the chairman’s comments.

3. Problems with pensions management http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=191&MId=9396&Ver=4 point 9

5. Current problems with accounts payable http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s46032/Appendix%201.pdf  pages 4 and 5

6. Planning problems identified by internal audit

7. Current figures on contract overspend as at 28 February are as follows:

8. Agency spend figures 

Figures, charts and links provided by Mr Reasonable (AKA John Dix)