26 July 2012

The £1bn costermongers


Mr Mustard hasn't written about Cllr Thomas recently but this week he became vaguely interesting for 5 minutes.

You can read the whole thing in the local Barnet Times newspaper here but he has been rattled by the appearance of the Better Barnet website (how could anyone object to the desire for a Better Barnet?) and the supposed scaremongering of the local Labour party. That is a bit rich coming from the cabinet costermonger himself who is busy helping to sell off services for 10 years worth about £1bn across the decade. Mr Mustard is pleased to see that Labour are starting to vocalise. It is the job of opposition to shout the roof down about anything they object to.

Copied from the local paper we have the following text which is the second half only of the article. Do please read the whole article on their website and then come back to see what comments Mr Mustard has added with his red pen.

He (Cllr Thomas) said: I’m confused about their stance. (I am easily confused) The amendments they made to our budget in March were so small they were clearly accepting the One Barnet programme (Labour are so heavily outvoted at Council that it is pointless trying to make wholesale changes to budgets as they will be voted down. Small adjustments might just be allowed through.) We’re still in competitive dialogue with two organisations so it is a bit rich for them to oppose something without knowing the final details. (How odd, the article talks about NSCSO and DRS and that means 3 organisations are still in the running, BT, Capita and EC Harris. Has one been binned off without us knowing? We don't need the final details; the choice is between equally huge corporations whose raison d'etre is profit)

On the new web page, Labour says it is campaigning to stop the authority “selling off critical council services” but Councillor Thomas has criticised the site for being misleading. If the best defence that Cllr Thomas has got is a semantic one then we are all in trouble. Does he tell us why BT or Crapita are the best choice and why an in-house bid has not been allowed? No.

I think there is an element of scaremongering from Labour on this - they are not being open minded. They keep using the term ‘selling off’ but that is not the case. The companies will be delivering services for us but we will retain overall control and that will be scrutinised. The wording is quite misleading. Well done Labour. To scaremonger is to spread frightening reports. One Barnet frightens the hell out of Mr Mustard because it is being promulgated by a collection of incompetents.

When I knock on doors, people are not against the One Barnet programme. People want services to be well run – they’re not that bothered who runs it. When I knock on doors no-one has heard of One Barnet because we have kept it very quiet and I don't mention it see so they don't either. If your next door neighbour was an escaped axe murderer would he mention it? Cllr Thomas is not, as far as I am aware, an escaped axe murderer but he is the Cabinet member for Resources and Performance and will butcher the workforce (i.e. transfer it out of the council to another employer to do with as they please)

We already outsource services in waste, leisure and social care and we have very few complaints about those. Should Mr Mustard send you all of his complaints about bin and recycling collections Cllr Thomas? You haven't been looking closely at the statistics have you. Leisure - there can't be many complaints because there aren't many leisure facilities. Mr Mustard has a complaint - you have given Copthall Stadium away for a song. Mr Mustard has a friend who uses social care. Often her carers simply do not show but she doesn't like to make a fuss as she is dependent on the council and doesn't trust them when Mr Mustard is not about.

Labour group leader Councillor Alison Moore defended her party’s stance on One Barnet. Go Alison!

She said: We have been critical of the programme right down the line. I think Councillor Thomas is being disingenuous and a bit daft to suggest we have not been against it from the start. A long word. Disingenuous means "insincere"; no question about that. Daft? too generous.

People have seen the way the current administration has dealt with issues like parking and they are concerned about the way they will deal with this. Too right Alison. Parking is in meltdown. Take a look at the Miss Feezance website to see how final appeals are going. You also can't even send an email to make an appeal.

This is the most fundamental change in this council’s history and it is important people understand that. This change will last for a minimum of 10 years and if it goes wrong will cost millions to put right. Get your wallet ready. It also undermines democracy as the councillors appointed in 2014, 2018 and 2022 will have almost nothing to decide upon.

We have a responsibility to up the ante on this and represent the people who voted for us.
Once these services have been outsourced it will be almost impossible to bring them back in-house. We have a number of months in which to make a final case against this. The most important thing is to stop this juggernaut before Barnet’s services are changed forever. To the barricades my friends, well attending council meetings would be a good start. Times and dates can be found here

You could also go to a meeting of the Barnet Alliance for Public Services who meet each Wednesday evening at 6pm at the Greek Cypriot Community Centre, 2 Britannia Road, London N12 9RU

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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