14 June 2012

Satisfactory isn't good enough

satisfactory isn't

It isn't only bloggers who are interested in the minutiae of council business, residents also are and rightly so as "we are all in it together" and Barnet Council are in grave danger of putting us right in it with the 10 year contracts they are going to sign and which will be impossibly expensive to get out of. 

Why are the big One Barnet contracts (worth about £1bn over 10 years) going to be 10 years long? Not because the council have studied what is best for the residents of the borough but because that is what the bidders have indicated they favour. 

One Barnet; where the tail wags the dog.

A resident who was much more on the ball than Mr Mustard tried in March 12 to get the tendering process run again so that the previous track records of the bidders, in so far as it related to the way they treated their staff and their Employment Tribunal records could be re-examined. The resident, Mr X, was looking to ensure that there was public confidence in the process. Most bloggers would tell you Mr X that they have little confidence in Barnet Council to do the right thing. Mr X wrote to Nick Walkley but he is far too busy doing something else, goodness knows what, and so he gave the letter to Declan Hoare, the Assistant Director for Highways and Transport, to respond to, as follows:

You will note that Mr Hoare answered a different set of questions and so the answer to question 1 "any civil...legal actions" was not answered nor was Q3 "any legal claims". Now the council will say they are not relevant because claims in an employment tribunal are not one of the criteria which allow for a bidder to be rejected but a large number of employment tribunal claims or compromise agreements would make any sensible council stop and think and mark the bidder down for the quality of their staff relations.

Not in Barnet apparently where the answers given by NSL were "satisfactory". Mr Mustard has always regarded anything described as satisfactory to be unsatisfactory simply because it is not great or super. It seems that Barnet Council are more easily satisfied.

Q4 was technically answered correctly as all staff were transferred to NSL but then 11 were made redundant at the end of the same month. It shows you how little protection comes with a TUPE transfer, none at all if you can simply be terminated on transfer, the new employer never wanted you, they are just doing the dirty work of the council.

Q5. Oh dear it seems that NSL failed to disclose the Hakim Berkani case to Barnet Council at the proper time. The tribunal found that NSL did unfairly dismiss Mr Berkani and had to pay him £20,000 

Mr Mustard wonders if the fact of taking this up with NSL management is what caused the contract start date to slip from 1 April to 1 May. 

Mr X is following up with Declan Hoare for more information.

Although in the case of Michael Onumajuru the tribunal found in favour of NSL there is the possibility that this particular case will be reviewed as the NSL manager involved, Adebowale Onadekou, has himself had a problem with the law and now looks to be less than the most reliable witness.

All in all NSL seem to have plenty of employee relations problems. One wonders if the councillors who voted in favour of outsourcing the parking enforcement to NSL bothered to do any background checking of their own before they voted in favour. Mr Mustard also wonders if they are now starting to think that bad press for NSL equals bad press for Barnet Council and problems for the conservative councillors who voted in favour getting re-elected in May 2014.

There will be another NSL staff problem along tomorrow.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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