31 May 2011

Would you credit it ?

It is usual in business to agree a period of time with the supplier to enjoy the goods or service before payment is made. This allows time for the goods to be checked & any failings to be identified or for timesheets to be examined ( the provision of "temps" in the healthcare sector is one where Mr Mustard has himself witnessed a fair amount of what is known as "fresh air" invoicing i.e. where only fresh air was supplied ) and for the due administrative process of invoice posting and payment to take place.

It is typical in business for 30 to 60 days to be the normal payment range for goods, although fresh food is likely to be less as is the provision of temporary help. However another factor to take into account is the strength of the buyer; a local authority is a cast iron risk as far as payment is concerned so Barnet Council should be easily able to negotiate a decent time to pay, if they aren't too busy with One Barnet project claptrap.

So let us take a look at what terms procurement have managed to negotiate for some random suppliers.

CCMPS Ltd                -           Nil - payment due immediately.

Yes that is correct. Mr Chris Malyon the Assistant Director of Commercial Assurance has negotiated for himself in a contract, through his company CCMPS Ltd, a payment term of immediate payment. Now the Delegated Powers Report no. 1249 discloses at paragraph 8.3 the following information:-

8.3 Reporting to the Commercial Director, the AD Commercial Assurance post was established within the Commercial Directorate to take responsibility for the corporate procurement team which has been consolidated into the Commercial Directorate in its entirety.

so what chance is there that the corporate procurement team could negotiate a proper credit term with their boss ? That is correct: none at all.

So if you take responsibility for the corporate procurement team, I presume that you will be honourable Mr Malyon and terminate your contract given the MetPro debacle ? Please feel free to add your comment at the end of the blog.

Hays HR Services Ltd                       -           1 day payment terms.

Pushing the boat out now Barnet Council aren't you ?

A whole day to check an invoice and arrange payment. I don't think that is likely do you ? This supplier is a massive company and can afford to give credit. 

The latest published accounts of Hays show that on average they grant 35 days credit so I would have thought that you Barnet Council could at least manage to negotiate 30 days. 

You have not negotiated have you ? you have capitulated. 

Here is another reason why you can get credit from Hays. In the year ended 31 March 2011 Barnet Council paid £3,981,978 to Hays HR Services, Hays Personnel & Hays Social Care between them. Hays need Barnet Council more than Barnet Council need Hays. There are plenty more employment agencies in Barnet. You should be sharing the work around in order to keep them all on their toes - that is just commonsense - oh, we don't have a Head  of Commonsense at Barnet Council now do we; unless of course you know better. 

You have tendered this supply under EU procurement regulations, haven't you ?

MJW Office Moves Ltd          -           7 days payment terms.

7 days still isn't long is it to check that dear Mr Willoughby has done his job properly before paying him. I use the word "job" advisedly as he has a touchdown desk and loan of a Barnet Council tablet PC and must spend pretty much all of his time at the North London Business Park doing the One Barnet staff shuffle.

Blue 9 Security Ltd     -           10 days payment terms

If Blue 9 pay their staff weekly then paying then this promptly is excusable but if they are monthly paid then it isn't. I wonder if all of their PAYE has been paid over to HM Revenue & Customs ?

Dinsdale Video Conferencing Ltd       -           10 days payment terms.

A local Company who probably get at least 30 days terms from their own suppliers so Barnet Council should be looking for at least the same.

Halliford Associates Ltd          -           10 days payment terms

A pity that this FOI answer is wrong unless of course the terms have been changed since the Contract was signed as that said 14 days. You couldn't wait an extra 4 days for your £1,000 a day Mr T ?

Impact Distribution Services Ltd       -  10 days payment terms

This supplier distributes the Barnet First propaganda rag Council newspaper. There is no possibility that a sample check of deliveries will have been carried out within 10 days and Mr Mustard's experience is that the people who want it don't get it and the ones who don't want it do get it !

Off the Wall Marketing Ltd     -           14 days payment terms.

This is categorised in Print Services in the over £500 list of supplier payments. Historically, printers had to wait 60 to 90 days for payment so paying them at 14 days is overly generous.

So what do you think readers. Barnet Council has the sharpest negotiators in the Country, or an excess of bureacrats and consultants who are collectively as sharp as a beachball. You tell me.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

26 May 2011

Barnet Council's LATC press release in full

New trading company set to provide greater choice

Mr Mustard's comments in red as usual 

Barnet Council is to become one of the first local authorities in the country to establish a ‘trading company’ to help deliver adult social services. ( you forgot to mention that this is a Government initiative - not more One Barnet nonsense )

Last night (24 May 2011) Cabinet Resources Committee agreed that the council should look to set up a Local Authority Trading Company (LATC) in conjunction with Barnet Homes. ( please take a very good look and have due regard to Mr Reasonable's blog on the subject of huge potential tax liabilities )

The move is a key step as adults with disabilities are transferred to a system of direct payments which they can use to pay for their care. ( I am all in favour of giving control to individuals but how will they cope with the complexities of the system. I have worked with money all of my adult life and sorting out my uncle's income support, disability living allowance, care allowances, care home fees etc was a heck of a job )

These cash payments are intended to give residents greater choice and control over how their needs are met and where money is spent – but the system does not allow residents to buy the services they need directly from the council. ( That is the system that the Government has chosen - it seems a rather artificial way of doing things. All that is happening is another layer of administration is being added )

Once set up, the new trading company will provide a point from which to purchase those services. ( If you wish presumably. The Council will end up in competition with Hays, and others, who supply the staff and who effectively control the staff resource. Who will win; why Hays of course ).

In the process more people will benefit from greater choice and control over their care. ( Sounds like a fine theory but the practical will be much different )
The LATC will be wholly owned by Barnet Council but will have its own board of directors and manage its own operations. ( And possibly its own plush offices, vehicles, a new SAP system - £20m spare anyone, £100,000 a year employees, probably a battery of consultants and so on )

The staff who will run the new LATC will be drawn from both the council and Barnet Homes, the organisation responsible for managing the borough’s social housing stock. ( Will they move for less money ? - I don't think so. Why not look for the best available people from the wider pool of Barnet residents ? )

In future, other local authorities or individuals outside the borough could approach the trading company to purchase services, helping generate income. ( If I suffered from migraines - one would be coming on at this prospect. Barnet Council has already lashed up Council tax billing this year ; more change = more mess )

Cllr Sachin Rajput, Cabinet Member for Adults, said: “I appreciate that it may not be obvious to residents how this relates to them, but it is an important change to the way the council works and will make sure that we can continue to meet the needs of disabled people. ( Well perhaps you should explain yourself more clearly then Cllr Rajput. I will leave readers to say how well Barnet council meets the needs of disabled people as I don't have enough first hand experience to comment )

“This is about forging a new relationship with citizens by giving people greater control over the services they use.” ( Barnet One Speak for "Aren't we wonderful" - No. )

Tracey Lees, Barnet Homes’ Chief Executive, added: “I’m delighted that we could now have the opportunity to extend our expertise to support the delivery of adult social care services. ( A good time to vote myself a salary increase and a new limousine )

“We are determined to build on our success as a social landlord while offering excellent support to drive service quality and efficiency within adult social services.”  ( Is this the social landlord that needed expensive help from consultants Habanero to change the waiting list points system; and the Barnet Homes which in their March 2011 newsletter  contained the following satisfaction rating 
Satisfaction with the quality of major works – then: 34% now: 19.1%
19.1% -No further comment
Tread very carefully Barnet Council - bloggers are everywhere and they are watching you.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard 

25 May 2011

A Grand Day Out at the North London Business Park

Here is the Contract between Barnet Council and Halliford Associates Ltd and Mr Andrew Travers for you to read. Mr Travers is the Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Finance Officer.

Please comment below. Mr Mustard will later but has a feeling that comments will come thick and fast and that Councillors will have some questions to answer about why have let the Chief Executive employ an "employee" on a Consultancy basis, not paying PAYE, on a £1,000 a day. Has the time come to rein in the power of Officers and get Councillors who, unlike Officers, are democratically accountable to Council Taxpayers, to keep a closer eye on the spending ?

Consultancy Agreement


London Borough of Barnet


Andrew Travers
Halliford Associates Limited

12 April 2010

Strictly Private and Confidential

This AGREEMENT is made on the 12th day of April 2010 BETWEEN:

Halliford Associates Limited, [section 40(2) FOIA]; Andrew Travers (“the Consultant”)


Nick Walkley, Chief Executive of London Borough of Barnet at Building 4, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP (“the Local Authority”)


The London Borough of Barnet requires an interim Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Finance Officer (S151) and has identified the Consultant as a professional with the requisite qualifications, experience and expertise to perform that function.

The Parties make this Agreement to record the terms and conditions of the Consultant’s appointment as the interim Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Finance Officer with the Local Authority.

It is agreed as follows:

1. Nature and Term of the Contract

1.1 This Agreement shall commence on 12 April 2010 in accordance with the letter of appointment forwarded to the Consultant on 30 March 2010 and shall continue unless and until terminated by either party giving such written notice as set out in clause 9.1 below to the other party.

2. Responsibilities and Duties of the Contractor

2.1. The Consultant is engaged to provide Interim Management as Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Finance Officer. The Consultant shall perform the duties outlined in the job description attached and exercise the powers which the Chief Executive may from time to time properly assign to him in his capacity as Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Finance Officer. For the avoidance of doubt, the Consultant shall exercise all powers usually assigned to persons employed as Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Finance Officer and in their capacity as an Officer of the Local Authority.

2.2. The Consultant shall carry out the services and perform his duties with reasonable care and skill to be expected of a professional with his experience and expertise. The Consultant shall at all times and in all respects conform to and comply with the proper and reasonable directions and regulations of the Local Authority.

3. Responsibilities and Duties of the London Borough of Barnet

3.1 The Local Authority shall provide for the Consultant a suitably equipped work space at Building 4, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP or at such reasonable location as the Local Authority may specify from time to time.

4. Hours of Work

4.1 The Consultant shall be available for work for the Local Authority for an average of 40 hours per week over five days and shall work any additional hours that are reasonably necessary for the full and proper performance of his duties under this Agreement. The Consultant shall be required when available to respond to any out of hours telephone queries received by him in connection with his duties at the Local Authority and shall perform any work arising from such communication at the daily rate.

4.2 Subject to clause 4.1 above the Consultant’s normal working days will be
Monday to Friday

5. Holiday

5.1 The Consultant shall take annual leave as and when they require but shall agree the duration and the timing of such leave with the Chief Executive at least one month prior to the proposed commencement of their annual leave.

6 Personal Service

6.1 This Agreement is personal to the Consultant. The Consultant shall not assign, novate, subcontract or otherwise dispose of this Agreement or any part thereof without the previous consent in writing of the Local Authority. Nothing in this Agreement shall prevent the Consultant from acting in a similar or any other capacity for any other person provided that that person is not carrying on the same or similar business to the business of the Local Authority.

7. Remuneration

7.1 In consideration of the provision of the services , the Local Authority shall pay to the Consultant a daily fee of £1,000 [one thousand pounds] exclusive of VAT payable monthly in arrears (such fee to be paid against the production of a suitable timesheet and invoice addressed to the Local Authority for the services carried out for the preceding month). Invoices supplied to the Local Authority by the Consultant shall be paid within 14 days of the date of receipt of the same.

7.2 All expenses shall be agreed by the Chief Executive in advance. The Local Authority shall reimburse all reasonable travelling, hotel and other expenses wholly and exclusively incurred by them in the performance of their duties under this Agreement.

8. Agency

8.1 For all intents and purposes, the Consultant shall be deemed to be an Officer of the Local Authority and shall have all such power commensurate with their position and as required for the proper performance of their obligations under this Agreement. For the avoidance of doubt the Consultant shall have power to enter into contracts on behalf of the Local Authority and to bind the Local Authority to the performance, variation, release or discharge or any legal obligation with third parties in accordance with her duties and responsibilities. In addition the Consultant shall have dealings with the Members of the Council as that of an Officer and shall be subject to the Constitution of the London Borough of Barnet.

8.2 Abide by the policies and procedures of the Local Authority, with the exception of those that specifically relate to direct employees. All Corporate policies can be found on the Local Authorities Intranet and the onus is on the Consultant to ensure they are familiar with these and have confirmed in writing to their Director.

9. Termination

9.1 This Agreement may be terminated by either party giving one months notice in writing to the other.

9.2 Notwithstanding 9.1 above the Local Authority may terminate the Consultancy immediately upon providing to the Consultant written notice to that effect if the Consultant:

9.2.1 is found to have been guilty of a material breach of the terms and conditions of this Agreement and the Consultant has failed to remedy the material breach within thirty days of written notice from the Local Authority to the Consultant specifying the said breach and requiring its remedy;

9.2.2 neglects or omits to perform any of their duties or obligations under this Agreement and the Consultant fails or refuses to carry out the duties and obligations reasonably required of them;

9.2.3 is unable by reason of their incapacity to perform their duties under this Agreement for a period of 10 working days.

9.2.4 The Consultant is found to be guilty of any fraud, dishonesty or conduct tending to bring themselves and the Local Authority into disrepute. The Consultant shall immediately notify the Local Authority in writing if they becomes subject to an investigation under the Financial Services, Banking and or Companies Acts or is investigated by the Serious Fraud office, the Police the Department for Trade and Industry; or

9.2.5 is found to be guilty of any gross default or misconduct in connection with the business of the Local Authority.

9.3 Upon termination of this Agreement for any reason, the Consultant shall deliver up to the Local Authority all letters, publications, papers, discs, tapes, reports, documents, keys, software, computer peripherals, communications equipment, electronic documents, data files and other items or property which may have been prepared by the Consultant or come into their possession by virtue of this Agreement or which relate to the business of the Local Authority and all copies thereof regardless of the medium on which such copies are recorded or stored.

10. Tax Status

10.1 The Consultant shall have the status of a self employed person and shall not be entitled to receive any pension, bonus, holiday pay, sick pay or other fringe benefits from the Local Authority.

10.2 It shall be the sole responsibility of the Consultant to make full payment of all income tax liabilities and national insurance or other similar contributions or liabilities arising in consequence of the consultancy or otherwise.

10.3 If for any reason the Local Authority pays any income tax, national insurance or similar contributions on the Consultant’s behalf, the Local Authority is entitled to demand and the Consultant shall give a full and immediate indemnity in respect of all such payments made.

11. Confidentiality

11.1 The Consultant is aware that in the course of their assignment they will have access to and be entrusted with information relating to the business, transactions and affairs of the Local Authority and other third parties all of which information is or may be considered confidential. Both parties shall take all necessary steps to ensure that all confidential information is treated as confidential and not disclosed or used other than for the purposes of this Agreement.

11.2 The Consultant shall not, save in the proper course of their duties, during or at any time following the period of their engagement under this Agreement, disclose to any third party or otherwise make use of any confidential information of the Local Authority without the prior written consent of the Local Authority.

11.4 All notes, memoranda, other documents and confidential information regarding the business of the Local Authority acquired, received or made by the Consultant during the course of their assignment shall be the property of the Local Authority and shall be surrendered by the Consultant to the Local Authority at the termination of their assignment or at the request of the Local Authority at any time during the course of their assignment.

12. Intellectual Property

12.1 Subject to the provisions of the Patents Act 1977 and the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, if at any time during her engagement under this Agreement, and while working for the Local Authority, the Consultant makes or discovers or participates in the making or discovery of Intellectual Property relating to or capable of being used in the business being carried on by the Local Authority, the Consultant shall grant the Local Authority a non­transferable, perpetual license to exploit the intellectual property solely for its own use. At the request and expense of the Local Authority the Consultant shall give and supply all such information, data, drawings and assistance as may be requisite to enable the Local Authority to exploit the Intellectual Property to its best advantage within the terms of the license. The intellectual Property will remain the absolute property of the consultant, to be exploited as they see fit.

13. Professional Indemnity Insurance

13.1 The Consultant shall effect for the duration of the term of this contract, with a reputable insurance company, a policy or policies of such professional indemnity insurances as are necessary to cover liability which may arise under this Agreement in the sum of £500,000 and shall produce the relevant policy or policies or other evidence confirming the extent of the cover given by the policy or policies together with a receipt or other evidence of the payment of the latest premium due thereunder.

13.2 At the end of the Term, the Consultant shall provide evidence to the Council that its professional indemnity insurance shall continue to indemnify the Council for a period of not less than one year after the end of the Term.

14. Gratuities

14.1 The Consultant shall immediately report in writing to the Chief Executive any offer of gifts or services to them by clients, suppliers, distributors and other such persons having a similar connection with the Local Authority. The Consultant shall not accept or agree to accept such offers without the prior written agreement of the Chief Executive. This applies to any gifts or services, commissions, gratuities, rebates or discounts directly or indirectly from any person, firm or company with whom the Local Authority conducts business or may conduct business.

15. Dispute Resolution

15.1 Should any dispute arise in relation to this Agreement, it shall be raised in writing, and the matter discussed at a meeting with Chief Executive. If no resolution can be reached this Agreement will be severed and the notice period stated in clause 9.1 will apply.

16. Audit

16.1 The Consultant shall keep or cause to be kept full and accurate records of all material relating to the charges and expenses in relation to the contract, all invoices submitted to the Local Authority in relation to work completed by him and all services provided to the Local Authority.

16.2 The Consultant shall grant to any authorised representative of the Local Authority the right of reasonable access to any premises of the Consultant which are used in connection with the performance of the Consultant’s obligations under this Agreement together with a right to reasonable access to all records referred to at clause 17.1 above.

16.3 The Consultant shall provide or procure all reasonable assistance at all time during the term of the Contract for the purposes of carrying out an audit of the Consultant’s compliance with this Agreement as well as an audit of all activities, performance and security in connection therewith.

17. Notices

17.1 Notices may be given by either party by letter addressed to the other party at its registered address or in the case of the Consultant, their last known address and any notice given by letter shall be deemed to have been given at the time at which the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post or if delivered by hand, upon that delivery.

18. Publicity

18.1 The Consultant shall not make any press announcements or publicise this Contract in any way without the prior written consent of the Local Authority.

19. Severability

19.1 If any provision of this Agreement is held to be invalid, illegal or unenforceable for any reason by any court of competent jurisdiction, such provision shall be severed and the remainder of the provisions in this Agreement shall continue in full force and effect as if this Agreement had been executed with the invalid, illegal or unenforceable provision eliminated. In the event of a holding of invalidity so fundamental as to prevent the accomplishment of the purpose of this Agreement, the Local Authority and the Consultant shall immediately commence good faith negotiations to remedy such invalidity.

20. Law and Jurisdiction

20.1 This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England.

Signed on behalf of London Borough of Barnet Name: Nick Walkley
Title: Chief Executive

Signed on behalf of Halliford Associates Limited Name: Andrew Travers
Title: Director

No paragraph 11.3 in the original document.

Yours frugally 

( Barnet Council will have to look up the word frugal I think )

Mr Mustard

Here is an easier link to the blogpost that Jaybird mentions below.

23 May 2011

Password Reset Tool £26,000 - are you sure ?

Mustard isn't one for staying up late but next door's cat has moved in and is looking a bit settled and Mr Mustard knows better than to try and move a big ginger tom with very scarred ears when he hasn't got his gloves on and isn't yet tempted to try bribery with cat biscuits which he keeps a stock of even though he doesn't own a cat !

Anyway to fill the time he thought he would take a look at the Barnet Council website and he came across the notes for the Cabinet Resources Committee of 24 May and although thankfully he has a prior engagement Mr Mustard thought he would take a look through the notes.

Item 5 is the Contract Procurement Plan:-

This report sets out the detail of planned contract procurement activity for the financial year 2011/12 for approval and the first draft of a plan for the following three financial years.
No it doesn't, as many of the entries are for just one year. If it is a draft for the next 3 years it is a pretty poor draft.

Mr Mustard appreciates a good joke. Here is one from the notes 

"The Council is committed to the transparency agenda." which must be why the Council are against filming of public meetings, why they have annihilated democracy at council meetings and why the Residents' Forums will in future be a shadow of their former selves.

Here is another good one ( except that council tax papers are paying  )

The Constitutional requirement to obtain Cabinet Member or Cabinet Committee authorisation, for contract value above stated threshold, before any contractual exercises commence has in previous years been achieved mostly by the inclusion of an appendix within the budget report of the known procurement activity for the following financial year.
So why don't the words Metpro Rapid Response appear anywhere in an appendix ? Pass.

You'll like this one:-
The data contained within the four year procurement plan will also be used as the basis of the Councils first Corporate Contract Register.
Will there also be a Corporate Arrangement Register for the Contracts which never got recorded in writing ?

Anyway Mr Mustard has had a look through the items. They are all in round thousands so they don't seem so large, a figure of 26 in a column doesn't look like £26,000. So what will £26, sorry £26,000 be spent on. A Password Reset Tool for Corporate Services including HR Fin IS ( whatever that means ). Let us get this right. £26,000 just to make sure that people change their passwords regularly. Isn't that built into most Windows software, the requirement to make people reset their passwords regularly ? Does £26,000 really need to be spent on it ? Amendment - this might be to reset the remote tablet computers of people who have foolishly, and expensively, forgotten their passwords. It still doesn't look like good value to me. Time for an FOI request me thinks. If this is an annual cost Mr Mustard will not be amused. ( If any reader happens to work in the computer department at Barnet Council and knows what this tool does and can explain why it is so necessary please add a comment here or email me privately in confidence : mrmustard@zoho.com )

But of course when you are spending someone else's money it doesn't seem like much at all. It doesn't sound like good value to me, does it to you ?

If you want to look at the proposed spending for yourself you will find it here :-
You'll like this, not a lot:-

Planned spending on consultants in 2013/14 in Environment & Operations will be £250,000

Mrs Angry will be angry, planned spending on lighting services in 2019/20 ( why is anyone bothering about this now unless they have a vested interest ! ) £2,500,000 so next to that redundant lamppost in your street Mrs A will be another one ?

And always of interest to bloggers - the Corporate Security Contract a mere £3,000,000 for the years 2011/14 for the Corporate Service CPT ( CPT means Corporate Procurement Team - I can see how under One Barnet you might need that much security in procurement )
Barnet need an IT Refresh apparently in 2011/12. Don't worry though as it is only £700,000 - hardly worth the while of the Council to list such a paltry sum.

There will be some savings though. The hardware and software maintenance  contract is obviously well sorted by 2013/14 as the cost will be £0 in that year. Evidently the Council will have reversed the One Barnet strategy and gone back to pen & paper and index cards and everything will be running smoothly.

So Mr Mustard has given in and bribed the cat. Just a few biscuits.

You will have to take your own biscuits to the Cabinet Resources Committee and please also table some difficult questions or send them to your Councillor.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

20 May 2011

It's all in the detail

A friend of Mr Mustard has spent a long time looking at the over £500 spending list published by Barnet Council. Two particular entries offended his eye, and he has cut and paste the supplier name straight from the Council's record.

Birish Telecommunications Plc which appears 5 times in May & October 2010 with a total spend of £272,464

Of course, Birish Telecommunications Plc does not exist and this is bound to be British Telecommunications Plc or "BT" as they advertise themselves.

You would think that someone in accounts payable, or someone in finance who must review the list of supplier payments in advance of release, or anyone at all at the Council who might have seen this name in a report somewhere, might just have been bothered to go back and correct this as it is just sloppy, lazy or uncaring. If you can't get the name of one of the biggest companies in the land correct, what can you get right ?

I expect you know about the school posters in Barnet that read as follows:-
"Our school’s are amongst the top performing in the country." 
for the full story. Schools are still getting Barnet Council into bother.

Barnet Council made 8 payments totalling £216,388 between June 2010 and February 2011 to the:-

Beth Jacob Grammer School for Girls

We often hear the call to "Bring back Grammar Schools" ; well someone at Barnet Council needs to go back to school, or maybe they never went ?

Come on Barnet, please pay attention to the fine detail. There will be a lot of it in those One Barnet private sector contracts that suppliers' well educated lawyers will be trying to slip past you.

Yours, with an eye for detail

Mr Mustard

18 May 2011

Gravy Train - column 2 of 8

So here we are looking at the second column of the Barnet Council corporate structure chart.
A clearer image is available here.

This second column covers the Chief Executive's Service.
Firstly of course we have the Chief Exec himself. The very expensive cheese, Mr Nick Walkley, who is paid the staggering sum of £200,976 a year. What is more, for some elections he is also the Returning Officer and gets more money. For being the Returning Officer at the last General Election he trousered another £11,038 which although I think it comes from central funds takes Mr Walkley away from his normal duties. You ought to take a Council pay cut of part of the Returning Officer fee, to be fair, in these straightened times Mr Walkley as we all in it together.

Then there are 4 senior posts in this Service.

1. The Assistant Chief Executive - Zina Etheridge - I can't share the job description with you as it is being updated at the moment. Mrs Etheridge is on secondment from DIUS ( Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills ) & collects £90,000+ a year which comes out of Barnet's coffers.

2. Interim Assistant Director of Communications - Chris Palmer - a contractor paid through Renouval Ltd - £39,312 in January to March 2011. Here is a cut and paste of the Purpose of the Job ( Hang on a minute, if it is a job shouldn't it be on PAYE - that system is for taxing jobs )

Purpose of  the Job:

  • As a member of the senior leadership team, to contribute to the overall leadership, direction and management of the service in the context of local and national priorities
  • To provide a professional lead across the council, and partner organisations, on all aspects of external communications ( from here on the Communications aspect of the job seems to get diluted )
  • Drive the improvement/transformation agenda across communications profession and develop capacity in key areas to support services in meeting local and Corporate objectives ( aren't lots of other consultants already doing this ? )
  • To be a key player within the service in a management capacity who is actively seeking and applying best practice and innovative methods of service delivery.
  • To promote and safeguard the welfare of vulnerable people, ensuring this principle, culture and practice is embedded throughout all council services, including stakeholders and partners in compliance with national and local procedures and protocols,
  • To provide excellent services to ensure that council overarching policies and strategies are in accordance  in accordance with the Council’s constitution, budget allocation and statutory requirements. ( yes the original does have "in accordance" twice - sloppy )
  • To be responsible to the Director for the effective management and efficient performance of communications policy and strategy ( he doesn't report to a Director ? )
  • To ensure that all activities across the Council are managed within the broader context of future shape ( a bit out of date, isn't this called One Barnet now ? )
  • To act as a change agent to assist the council manage and implement change programmes
  • To lead by example and effectively manage people, projects and budgets effectively at all times
3. Then there used to be Gavin Lambert - Assistant Director of Strategy who used to get at least £88,104 but has evidently made a strategic exit as the post is currently not filled. So here is the purpose of the job

Purpose of Job:

The council and its partners face big strategic challenges.  We know our budgets will reduce significantly over the next few years, at a time when residents are increasingly less satisfied with our services, but expect more from us; and big policy problems remain. ( This is not a purpose but a preamble: "increasingly less satisfied" - bit of a mouthful )

Our response to these challenges has been to develop the One Barnet programme founded on three principles:  developing a new relationship with our citizens, working collectively across the public and third sectors in Barnet and delivering a relentless focus on efficiency. ( more pointless waffle which hasn't yet led to any concrete improvements )

The postholder has a central role to play in supporting the Assistant Chief Executive to shape and drive delivery of this transformation programme, whilst ensuring the delivery of existing services.   ( no wonder the job can be left unfilled )

4. Then finally in this column we have Richard Grice the Assistant Director of Customer Services ( & Libraries depending on which bit of Barnet Council paper you read ). He gets £104,673 for the following job. This time it is headed "Purpose of the Role" - no consistency at Barnet it would seem.

·        As a member of the senior leadership team, to contribute to the overall leadership, direction and management of the service in the context of local and national priorities
·        To provide a professional lead across the service on Customer Services
·        Drive the improvement/transformation agenda within the service and develop capacity in key areas to support services in meeting local and Corporate objectives
·        To be a key player within the service in a management capacity who is actively seeking and applying best practice and innovative methods of service delivery.
·        To promote and safeguard the welfare of vulnerable people, ensuring this principle, culture and practice is embedded throughout all Council services, including stakeholders and partners in compliance with national and local procedures and protocols,
·        To provide excellent services to ensure high quality (internal and external) customer services in accordance with the Council’s constitution and policies, budget allocation and statutory requirements.
·        To be responsible to the Director for the effective management and efficient performance of people, processes and use of resources within the service
·        To ensure that all activities across the Council are managed within the broader context of future shape
·        To act as a change agent to assist the Council manage and implement change programmes
To lead by example and effectively manage people, projects and budgets effectively at all times

Now if I didn't know better I would think that I had read this waffle somewhere before - on yes, higher up the page. Do you, dear reader, have any real idea what is done for over £100,000 p.a. No, nor me.

So there we are, just 5 people, that's all they are, just 5 human beings and between them they pocket at least £639,000. Its obscene isn't it.

And there are 6 more columns of the corporate structure chart still to go. 

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

17 May 2011

The Metpro Saga

Make sure you check out Mrs Angry's update on the Metpro saga scandal about which many Barnet bloggers blogged a while ago. 

You can find a link to her outstanding Broken Barnet blog on the right of the page in my list of favourite blogs or simply click here

Yours frugally
Mr Mustard

16 May 2011

Musical chairs - One Barnet rules apply

Remember when you were young and would play this game and get a bit giddy running around and need some nice E number filled orange cordial to calm you down. Well Barnet Council have their own new improved version of the game where everyone moves around but they all still have a chair at the end.

I think there must be an ant infestation at Barnet Council as the staff just can't keep still ( and I bet it isn't the worker ants who are asking to move )

So here is a cut and paste of the Delegated Powers Report on the subject ( in blue ) with my comments in red as usual:-


Subject : Single Tender Action. Contract for the appointment of MJW Office Moves Ltd as
a Council vendor.
Summary : To provide office moves and refurbishment capability to the remaining phases of the Accommodation Project (TAP). 
Officer Contributors : John Bailey – Project Manager
Colin Attree – Head of Corporate Procurement
Status (public or exempt) : Public
Wards affected : All

Reason for exemption from call-in : N/A
Contact for further information: John Bailey, Project Manager for the Accommodation on 020
8359 3008 or john.e.bailey@barnet.gov.uk
Serial No. 1226
1.1 Cabinet Resources Committee of 19 January 2008 (decision item 6) approved the Capital, Asset and Property Strategy.
1.2 General Functions Committee of 5 August 2009 (decision item 7) approved the proposed restructure of the Corporate Senior Management team and responsibilities as detailed in the public and the exempt reports. This included the creation of the Commercial Director post with responsibility for the formation and leadership of the new consolidated property and assets function.
2.1 The 2010/2013 corporate priority ‘Better services with less money’ is relevant as the Accommodation Project (TAP) will reduce LBB expenditure on corporate buildings by maximising the effective usage of the current office accommodation estate. ( The speed that One Barnet staff are being taken on makes me doubt that there will be any spare office space )
3.1 The employment of a professional office moves contractor mitigates against project identified risks, including the following:
 Potential poor planning of move schedules and related project dependencies ( does it; what because otherwise the Council would do it itself and mess it up - please - this is just tosh to pad out the report )
 Potential failure to meet essential project and Service area timetables and deadlines. ( timetables - deadlines - is this why Council Tax bills are late this year )
 Potential poor management of other moves related contracted services (e.g. building contractors, furniture suppliers etc.), resulting in poor value for money ( rubbish - you build first, then you call off the pre-ordered furniture which suppliers are happy to store for a large regular customer - they will even design your office for you - where have you been )
 Inadequate space planning and design expertise, resulting in office space that is not fit for purpose ( an admission that the Council have no idea )
 Non-compliance with building regulations, Health & Safety requirements, landlord approvals and other statutory requirements. ( just read the rules; simples )
 Poor post move support and snagging issue resolution  ( post move support; who writes this drivel )
3.2 I have considered whether the issues involved are likely to raise significant levels of public concern or give rise to policy considerations. I consider they do not. ( oh yes they do, spending of this magnitude always raises public concern )
4.1 The compression and improvement of office accommodation according to the Estates Strategy will ensure that the range and location of assets fits the changing way our customers want and need to access our services. ( your customers want you to spend money sensibly - not to keep playing this game of moving office )
4.2 The TAP Strategy has been developed in line with the Council’s equalities and diversity policies. ( naturally )
5. USE OF RESOURCES IMPLICATIONS (Finance, Procurement, Performance & Value for Money, Staffing, IT, Property, Sustainability)
5.1 The negotiations around the contracting of MJW Office Moves Ltd have ensured best value in terms of rates and represent a projected saving (by Accommodation Project end) in excess of £3,000 in comparison with agency rates previously achieved. The all-inclusive rate will be £425 per day with no expenses to be payable. ( if this simple logical job had been advertised locally there would have been a stampede of applicants at between £100 and £200 per day. A £3,000 saving on a spend of £90,000 is nothing to crow about. It looks like a made up figure )
5.2 Due to the extensive knowledge of existing LBB office accommodation sites, contracting MJW Office Moves Ltd can ensure there is no change or disruption to existing working patterns within either the Accommodation Project or Service areas. ( jobs for the boys then )
5.3 Costs (for all work contracted by the Accommodation Project) will be contained within that project’s allocated capital budget. ( even if it is excessive )
6.1 None, save as contained within the body of the report. ( what about this being quasi employment and not paying PAYE ? )
7.1 The Council constitution in Part 3, Responsibility for Functions, paragraph 6.1 states that Chief Officers can take decisions in all matters where they have managerial or professional authority; and to authorise and accept quotations for contracts to the limits placed on Chief Officers by Contract Procedure Rules for approved schemes with sufficient estimate provision. ( more's the pity )
7.2 The Council constitution in Part 3, responsibility for function, paragraph 6.2 states that Chief Officers can discharge their functions including placing contracts and procuring other resources within or outside the Council.( this looks like the last paragraph )
7.3 Contract Procedure Rules Paragraph 6.11 allow for the Commercial Director to make single source decisions without going to competitive tender, where satisfied, following the making of suitable investigations, that there is only one supplier in the market for the required supplies/services/works. 
( a £90,000 contract really should be tendered; MJW are the only supplier of this service in the whole wide world - pull the other one )This is subject to compliance with the Authorisation and Acceptance procedures. In this respect, following the making of suitable investigations, MJW Ltd is the only one supplier in the market for the required services. And in addition, for reasons specified above in 5.1 - 5.2 and the fact that this change of contractual route has been forced on the council by MJW Ltd current employing agency not joining our new contractual arrangements for agency workers, the single source route is justified. ( never )
7.4 Under Table 5-1 of the Contract Procedure Rules, Director/Head of Service, can authorise and accept contract value of up to £156,442. ( High time this rule was changed )
8.1 As part of the mobilisation process of the new Hays Neutral Vendor contract, Cobalt
Recruitment (the agency previously supplying Office Moves management) have decided not to enter into formal agreement to supply personnel. New provision of Office Moves management for the Accommodation Project is therefore necessary. ( I'll bet there is a story here )
8.2 Included within the scope of works previously carried out via the Agency provision from Cobalt Recruitment, which will now be undertaken as part of this contract by MJW Office Moves Ltd (via the Accommodation Project) are: ( Cobalt Recruitment Ltd are applying to strike themselves off at Companies House )
 Planning of all move schedules and timetables ( as instructed )
Liaison and detailed discussion with all relevant Services representatives and team managers as appropriate ( talk to people - that's hard )
 To work in close collaboration with TAP Project Manager, Change Managers and IT Personnel to plan and implement all office refurbishments, furniture installations and staff moves ( still not very difficult )
 Preparation and provision of necessary reports and other documentation as required for reporting to TAP Project Manager/Board ( write reports - how dull )
 Sourcing, procurement, management, scheduling, administration and invoicing for required contractors, suppliers and products ( buy things with other people's money - very easy )
 Space planning, design, procurement and invoicing of all furniture  ( decide where to put a desk or two )
Plan, design, scheduling and management of building, fit-out and refurbishment works ( decide where partitions will go )
 To ensure compliance standards for Landlord approvals, building regulations, H&S compliances and other statutory requirements ( all statutory so just follow the rules )
 Management of contract installation and removals team ( tell someone else what to do )
 Liaison with LBB Property, Asset Management and Facilities Departments ( repetition of what was said earlier )
 Post move on site Facilities and support where necessary ( fix any snags )
 Other relevant activities as instructed by TAP Project Board ( anything we forgot )
9.1 None
I authorise the following action
10.1 To establish MJW Offices Moves Ltd as a direct vendor to be used on an as and when basis as required to manage office moves and related works. ( as and when, that's £35,450 to you guvnor in the first quarter, so at £425 a day that is 83 days of work )
10.2 That a maximum provision of £90,000 from the TAP existing budget and a maximum contract duration of 1 year be applied to this contractual arrangement ( think of a number and see if anyone checks it at year end )

Signed Signed by Craig Cooper
Commercial Director ( un-commercial do I hear you cry ? )

Now there are some funny things about this contract. It is signed off on 11 January 2011 but the first payment is for £2,125 on 25.10.2010 - a bit early, what.

Then there are the vast amount of moves that have taken place in the first quarter of 2011. Let us look at the list :-

# of Staff
E&O, Management
B4 2nd floor to new location along the floor
E&O, Parking Team
B4 2nd to B4 1st floor Holding Area
E&O, Greenspaces, Waste & Sustainability teams
B4 2nd floor to new location along the floor
ASSD, Ballards Lane staff
B2 1st floor to B4 1st floor
Commercial Services
B4 1st floor to B2 1st floor
PHR, Planning
B2 1st floor to B4 1st floor
E&O, CIU Team
B4 2nd floor to new location along the floor
E&O, Greenspaces, Waste & Sustainability
B4 2nd floor to new location along the floor
E&O, Traffic & Development
B4 2nd floor to new location along the floor
E&O, CIU moves
B4 2nd floor to new location along the floor
PHR, Building Control
B2 1st floor to B4 1st floor
E&O, Admin staff
B4 2nd floor to new location along the floor
E&O,  Traffic Dev reshuffle, Parking Finance
B4 2nd floor to new location along the floor
E&O, Trading Standards
B4 2nd floor to new location along the floor
E&O, PIT Team
B4 2nd floor to new location along the floor
Chief Exec, PBS Team
B4 1st floor to B2 1st floor
E&O – remaining Network Mgmt Team, Drugs & Alcohol team
B4 2nd floor to new location along the floor
E&O, Parking Team
B4 1st floor to B4 2nd floor
Chief Exec, FYI Team from Childrens to Customer Service
B4 Grd floor to B4 1st floor
ASSD, Ballards Lane staff
B4 1st floor to new location along the floor

Sorry Mr Mustard managed to cut the end off his blog earlier and has just noticed and will do it again now from memory.

Now it costs £35,450 just to manage these moves by the looks of it. On top of these One Barnet musical chairs costs there will probably be some vehicle or equipment hire, crate hire, computer and telecoms moving costs, loss of productive time for staff ( Parking moved out at the end of January and back to the same office 6 weeks later. Is this why it was taking them 20 minutes to answer the phone - they couldn't find where they had put it ? ) temporary labour etc etc

Interestingly Mr Martin Willoughby of MJW Office Moves Ltd is also provided with a loan of a LBB tablet PC despite being a contractor and earning enough to buy his own computer and he gets to use a touch-down desk ( it would be better if it was a take-off desk ? ). He looks more like an employee every day. Wouldn't it be better to simply hire a better value employee to do this routine job and they would cost about the same for a year as this contractor costs in 3 months.

Hopefully one day the game of musical chairs will stop and all contractors will stangely find that they are no spare seats.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard