6 June 2011

Better Services for Less Money - The Barnet Mantra exposed by Auditors - The MetPro debacle

The Audit Committee meets on 16 June to consider, amongst other items, the report of the Assistant Director of Finance - Audit & Risk Management into what went wrong when the Council purchased a security service over many years from MetPro - the improperly licensed security company.

Lets look at the two parts of one of the One Barnet mantras.

Better services - these were not obtained from MetPro. An unlicensed security company cannot by its very nature be supplying a better service than a properly licensed Company because quite simply it is operating outside of the law. Bloggers have also seen with their own eyes that the new security presence is more courteous & professional and hence better ( see Mrs Angry's Broken Barnet blog for a description of MetPro's approach; there is a link in my blog roll on the right of the page - on her site search for the word metpro ). Why the Council waste so much of our money on excessive numbers of security staff is a question for another day - bloggers are civilised protesters who rely on the power of the written word to make their point.
Less money - the replacement security company is cheaper than MetPro so all the time that MetPro was used, all £1,361,000 of it, was "Worse Service for More Money" and a portion of the funds provided by the Council Taxpayer were wasted. If a proper tendering exercise had been carried out it might be that the eventual price obtained from the winning bidder would have been less than from both MetPro and the urgently drafted in replacements. That hopefully will be established in the future if the Council manage to carry out a proper tendering exercise in accordance with EU procurement regulations.

If you want to read a catalogue of incompetence then the full report is available here :-

Put the kettle on, it will be a long and disappointing read. You would also find it instructive to have a look at Mr Reasonable's blog for further insight into the serious financial issues at Barnet Council. Again, there is a link to the right.

Here is the overall message from the report, with my comments added in red :-

· The Council has failed to comply with its CPR and Financial Regulations, exposing the Council to significant reputational and financial risks. No one gives a hoot about rules or reputation; just the size of their pay packet ( whether pay or consultancy fees ).

· Internal Audit cannot give assurance that this non-compliance is an isolated incident, due to a lack of an accurate and complete centrally held contracts register and effective monitoring arrangements. There are other failures in the supply chain; how many ? who knows. We don't know who we have Contracts with and even if we have a Contract it isn't monitored. And for this the Chief Finance Officer invoices £1,000 a day; is he good value - does he provide a better service for less money.

· We recommend that all spend over the stated threshold in the CPR be reviewed and matched to a central contracts register (in development) in a timely basis. Someone needs to unbolt the stable door and run like the devil after that runaway horse. Perhaps one of those high powered MetPro motorcycles would help ?

So what was missing from the documents that should have existed in accordance with the Contract Procedure Rules ("CPR"). This little lot :-
In the absence of a formal procurement exercise, we could not locate the following documents/confirmation for MetPro, which the CPR require:
·           Financial viability of the company
·           Equal Opportunities Assessment
·           Criminal Records Bureau checks
·           Confirmation of company’s Public Liability Insurance arrangements
·           Confirmation of the company’s Health and Safety registration
·           Confirmation on the SIA licence status of the Company Officers
·           An agreed specification which outlined the service to be provided
·           An agreed schedule of rates for payment of invoices
·           A process for monitoring performance of service delivery to establish if the Council was receiving value for money

It is an incredible list but unfortunately it is a true one.

It is time for the senior officers who presided over this mess to leave of their own accord and show they have at least some sense of decency. 

So what are you doing on June 16th at 6.30pm. If you can make it to the Hendon Town Hall for the meeting of the Audit Committee you would find out a lot about how badly your Council, they spend your money remember and they could easily spend less of it if they were at all prudent. After that some questions for your local Councillors about what they are doing to ensure the Officers carry out the policies of the Councillors would be good. A suggestion that One Barnet ( the ridiculous name for a ridiculous policy ) should be shown the door, along with all of the highly paid consultants who are getting fat on their huge fees, and a reversion to commonsense Council serving the public in a boring but reliable & frugal manner would help all of Barnet's residents.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

No comments:

Post a Comment

I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.