Thursday, 1 November 2012

Wow! Brian Coleman calls for One Barnet to be Scrapped

Today's Barnet Press has an article by Brian Coleman which calls for the One Barnet to be scrapped which I have reproduced below:

"Something has happened in the last few months in Barnet. Residents have been taking an interest in the way Barnet Council is proposing to operate in future , the so-called One Barnet scheme.

One Barnet, if it goes ahead, would fundamentally change the way the council is run. It is a New Labour idea - however, the concept of council, police, fire brigade, NHS and the voluntary sector delivering services jointly fell apart as the cuts agenda focused minds and turned opinion against grandiose reorganisation.

However Barnet Council ploughed on regardless of the changing political environment.

The opinions of sceptical Conservative councillors were brushed aside by promises from officers (and the revolving door of endless consultants) of massive savings.

The fact that most Conservative councillors had their doubts was lost as the trade unions bombarded councillors with emails attempting to protect their members terms and conditions. This campaign just drove Conservative councillors into the arms of the officers on the basis that if the unions were against it the scheme must be good news.

Council leader Richard Cornelius, a One Barnet sceptic, met with officers in January and the promise of savings seduced him. The rest of the Conservatives, including me, fell into line.

Then in August came the bombshell of a possible of a joint venture, something never mentioned before, and the leader of the council's anger could be heard all the way from his holiday home in France.

Then followed the unexplained sudden departure of Barnet's chief executive Nick Walkley. Why leave if One Barnet is going to be a stunning success?

Many Conservative councillors feel they are powerless to stop this officer-driven juggernaut or as one senior Conservative put it - we are lemmings heading for the cliff.

The council needs to dump this flawed scheme and introduce a proper strategy which assesses where services belong, whether that is the private sector, shared services with other boroughs, the voluntary sector or indeed occasionally in-house - a mixed economy is what is needed. For example, I don't know any councillors who agree we should privatise the planning department.

Conservatives are pragmatic and anyway the concept of One Barnet is fundamentally un-Conservative and ignores localism. It is totally New Labour, in fact.

The time has come to dump One Barnet and return to core local government values and make sure this particular turkey does not see Christmas!" 

 For such a critical article to be published just days before a vote of no confidence in Richard Cornelius is to be held shows what a mess the whole One Barnet outsourcing programme has become. It also indicates that Brian is not on his own in being concerned about One Barnet when he quotes his fellow conservative councillors as being sceptical. I noted with interest his reference to the views of councillors being "brushed aside by promises from officers and the revolving door of endless consultants of massive savings."

What surprises me most is why it has taken them so long to come to the realisation that this scheme is bonkers and that it risk the financial future of the borough.

Richard, do the right thing and pull the plug on One Barnet now.

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