Yesterday, the judgement on the Maria Nash's judicial review was published. I would urge as many people as possible to read this judgement because it illustrates just how unfair the justice system can be at times.
The judge, Lord Justice Underhill is critical of Barnet and is quite clear that they failed to consult with residents. However, the law believes that ordinary residents without a law degree, need to do things like study the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) with great rigour, to read between the lines on council papers, even when they are not explicit and to seek legal redress at the earliest possible opportunity even though they don't know what they are objecting to.
Barnet failed miserably to consult - and in the judges words;
"Although I have, out of deference to the
attention given to it in the evidence, and to some extent also at the hearing,
summarised the nature of the consultation about the 2010/11 and 2011/12
budgets, there is no real dispute that it did not constitute consultation about
outsourcing as such. “Alternative service
provision” was mentioned in the materials supplied, at least for the latter
year; but no relevant information was supplied, and the exercises were plainly
not designed to elicit views about it". He went on to say:
"It is clear that in the present case the Council
did not make any attempt to consult on the specific question of whether the
functions and services covered by the NSCSO and DRS contracts should be
outsourced", and in summary he said:
"It follows that if the application for judicial
review had been made in time I would have held that the Council had not
complied with its obligations under section 3 (2) of the 1999 Act in respect of
the decisions taken in 2010/11 to outsource the performance of its functions
and services, covered by the proposed NSCSO and DRS contracts".
BUT... the case is out of time so tough luck!
I believe it was Lord Hailsham who coined the phrase "elective dictatorship" and that is exactly what we have in Barnet, a weak group that fails to represent the broad views of the residents but is able to drive through whatever policies it wants aided by the weaknesses of the democratic system we have in place. If this
judgement stands it will send a green light to Barnet to be even more
secretive about what they are doing, to completely ignore meaningful
consultions, to ignore the broad range of views of the 356,000 residents and to go ahead with whatever it wants, because it can.
I understand that Maria Nash is going to appeal and I hope for everyone's sake she is successful.