29 July 2012

Long contracts are not flexible said Cllr Rajput (oh dear)

From: First Team
Sent: 20 July 2012 14:27
To: AllStaff
Subject: Weekly message from the Chief Executive

Tuesday's Cabinet meeting took some significant decisions.

Cabinet (oh dear Nick, a schoolboy error!. The Grahame Park matter was discussed at the entirely separate Cabinet Resources Committee) agreed a report proposing a range of measures to support progress on the Grahame Park regeneration scheme. This includes up to £5million for shared ownership schemes and a further £5million to improve the streetscene and infrastructure between Grahame Park and Colindale Tube Station. So £53m has to be cut from the service budget over 3 years and yet we can find £5m to get people onto the home ownership ladder and another £5m for roads and pavements in one tiny corner of the borough. Odd priorities.

Cabinet (oops, I mean CRC, Nick) also authorised further work to re-locate Barnet College from its current Grahame Park location to a new purpose-built building at the heart of the regeneration, a mark of our enhanced partnership with the College. I have written before about the need to maintain momentum on our regen schemes and this report marks an important step on that journey, supported by our robust financial position. As with any property deal in Barnet the overpowering smell is a fishy one. Here is that section of the report:

It is the shared ambition of the Barnet and Southgate College and the London Borough of Barnet to facilitate a relocation of the College’s Grahame Park campus within Grahame Park. The existing facility on Grahame Park Way is no longer fit for purpose.

9.1.24 The proposal is to relocate the College within the proposed Phase 1b, of the Grahame Park Regeneration scheme, the area known as Plot A8 (at the southern end of the site, adjoining the existing roundabout), which currently has planning permission for 57 homes for private sale, retail space, a new library, and the option for additional space for a Centre for Independent Living (CIL), which would replace the existing specialist service provided at Flightways Centre in the Concourse.

9.1.25 To facilitate the relocation, it is proposed that the Council seek consent from the Secretary of State to transfer Plot A8 to Choices for Grahame Park at nil value but explaining that the variation to the PDA enables CFGP to sell the land directly to Barnet and Southgate College at market value for the express purposes of designing and constructing a new college. The proceeds from the sale will be recycled into the Business Plan, in line with purposes of the current Principal Development Agreement.

9.1.26 This proposal ensures the retention of the College within Colindale, and particularly at the heart of the regeneration of Grahame Park, bringing additional vitality and economic activity to the area. In addition, it provides for a new college facility and releases the existing college site for residential development and, essentially, a new primary school. It is further proposed that the new college incorporates the new library and, potentially, the CIL and provision of a youth centre (currently provided on the existing College site), providing opportunities for synergies and efficiencies in provision of these services to the wider community.

9.1.27 Facilitating the relocation of the College on site 1b will necessitate a change in the Principal Development Agreement. Consultation on the proposal with local residents will commence prior to presentation to Cabinet Resources Committee.

9.1.28 All three parties to the relocation – the College, the Council and Genesis – are working actively towards achieving the relocation. It is anticipated that a Heads of Terms will be in place between the parties to effect the relocation by the end of June.

9.1.29 Locating the new college facility on Plot A8 is dependent upon the sale of the existing college site at Grahame Park Way for funding. the redevelopment of the Grahame Park Way site is therefore to be considered as enabling development. The Council has land
interests on the Grahame Park Way site which it seeks to exchange for a parcel of land within the Grahame Park Way site on which the Council would build a primary school in the future as per the Colindale Area Action Plan strategy. The commercial details of the proposal are tabled in the Exempt Report.

Why isn't the council simply selling the college the land they need, and buying back what they will have finished with, at open market value? Whoever had the idea to do the above complex swap is making money somewhere.
Cabinet (correct) agreed proposals following consultation on services for older people. The public gallery was filled with day centre users concerned (worried sick) about the future of their centre. The new neighbourhood model will mean changes but the Cabinet Member Councillor Rajput was at pains to emphasise that the council wants to now (now that the gallery is watching his every word) work with local providers on the new model.

Cabinet (right again, you are starting to get the hang of this CEO business Nick) also agreed a report setting out the finance and business planning process for 2013 and beyond (up to 2016). I'd suggest everyone takes a little time to read the report (no-one will have read this report) as it's a concise summary of the challenges we face over the coming four to five years. I shall set out more detail on the process and how we respond in future emails. (Please don't)
Cabinet also endorsed the Local Development Framework Core Strategy and our Annual Safeguarding Report. None of these reports were "easy" or uncontroversial but, stepping back, an agenda that deals with how we fund public service, safeguard the vulnerable, plan for future development, regenerate our most deprived areas and reform service provision seems to be a strong statement of the breadth and depth of the work of all parts of the council. Not "easy" as in not easyCouncil or One Barnet?


Now what has Nick missed out. Ah yes, any mention of this off message (or it is a cry for help?) answer to a tricky question set by Cllr Longstaff (he must have been hours formulating this question) as to why Fremantle Homes day centre places were not all taken up.

Now this isn't verbatim but fairly close to what Cllr Sachin Rajput said (Mr Mustard reaches his limit very quickly listening to Rajput; you can listen all day if you want, in fact this should probably be on in the background at all meetings at which One Barnet is discussed):

Cllr Rawlins asked that earlier.. just in relation to tying up of contracts for a long time. I am going to leave party politics out of it (liar) because it is more important: it is about the voluntary sector, but quite rightly if the members of a party were to tie into a long contract, as of course this administration inherited in relation to Fremantle, you will find it is not flexible and you are in a position where you can't address some of these concerns.............

The Fremantle contract (if only there had just been the usual rather vague arrangement Mrs Angry, the council could have walked away?) started in about 2002.

Now Rajput is a cabinet member and the Cabinet are nodding through every service they can into the big One Barnet outsourcing of DRS (Development & Regulatory Services) and NSCSO (New Support & Customer Service Organisation) and these contracts are for an initial term of 10 years with an optional extension.

So what can we conclude from the above:

Labour signed a deal for 10 years+ plus. Rajput thinks it was a bad idea.

Rajput won't let any more 10 year One Barnet contracts proceed. (?)

Rajput is about to defect to Labour (would they take him?)

Rajput was talking out of his @@@@ (why, hat, of course)

The Cabinet meeting was quite a short one, why would you need more than 41 minutes to dispense with 592 pages of reports? It was very enlightening though.

10 year+ contracts are a bad idea, because 
they are inflexible,
you can't address some of the concerns
(official, a Cabinet member says so).

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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