Friday, 10 September 2010

Connaught PLC and Barnet - The Future's SH*T* if the Future's Orange

Does anyone remember the happy days of Mike Freer's Leadership of Barnet Council, last year. You know the good old days, when the numbskull in charge could actually muster two coherent sentences before the whole thing fell apart. Do you remember when he announced that he was launching EasyCouncil - based on the Easyjet model. Now as we all know Easyjet is a marvellous company and a huge assett to the UK. It's colour is Orange. Whilst I can think of no better way of carting beer swilling revellers to Ibiza than an Easyjet plane, myself and many others questioned Mike Freer about how this would work. More tax for bigger rubbish collections? Brighter street lamps for a tax hike? Council Tenants to pay more if they used the bog?

Well as I said, he soon backed down and said he didn't mean that. What we are left with is wholesale privatisation. That's what Easy Council really is (although this is clearly an area Easyjet are not involved in ???). Fast forward to September 2010. We have the implementation of the project,  by a Council Leader who is discredited and who half her own councillors can't stand. She's just appointed the biggest Twat in Barnet ( a man who is so proud of being awarded the title that he Tweeted all his mates to tell them) in charge of Library "reoganisation". His masterplan? Make people collect books from Tescos and  Starbucks.

Of course Barnet has a proud record of privatisation. A couple of decades ago they did this with Refuse collection? What happened? It all went wrong. Privately contracted dustcarts took to the street, demolishing many cars, garden walls, garden gnomes and motorbikes, before eventually Labour/Lib Dems got in and took it back in house. The Tories were so badly burned they agreed with the policy.

Did the Tories Learn? Nope. They launched the Future Shape scheme anyway. The reason? If you believe the hype (which I don't) to save money and improve services. Sadly anyone familiar with the recent history of Barnet knows that this is an illusory lie. Look at the Catalyst contract, where Barnet have been forced to pay out £6 Million. That shows exactly what happens when Barnet try and save cash by privatising. What about "Better Service". This week, the company which undertakes maintenance for Barnet Homes  - CONNAUGHT PLC - went bust. All of it's employees in Barnet were told to dial into a conference call yesterday at 6pm. They were then sacked. Now the tenants have no one to perform repairs or maintenance. Rather bizarrely a Barnet Tory Councillor claimed that "The Unions were blowing this out of all proportion". I wonder what he meant, given that all the workers have been sacked and there is currently no one to do the work. They have put out a press release saying the following :-
Our repairs contract with Connaught, who have gone into administration owing to financial difficulties, is now at an end.

Residents should continue to report any necessary repairs in the usual way, but for a period of time we will be prioritising the most serious repairs that affect your health and safety.
  Barnet Homes is making arrangements with other companies to run the repairs service for its residents. There will be a time of uncertainty and a drop in our ability to provide a full repairs service, while these new arrangements are put in place. Our gas servicing, hot water and heating repairs service are unaffected by this as these are provided by a separate contractor, Village Heating Ltd.

We would like to assure residents that we are organising the new contractors as matter of urgency and working to minimise the disruption to our repairs service.
We want to thank residents for their patience and understanding in this situation.
So Mr Tory Councillor, what part of "There will be a time of uncertainty and a drop in our ability to provide a full repairs service, while these new arrangements are put in place." have the Unions exagerrated. The situation is a mess, but it is only a foretaste of what will happen if Future Shape/Easycouncil/OneCouncil takes off.

I've heard from one Barnet Homes resident who has chronic problems with the sewage in their accomodation. Work had been scheduled to correct this, but they haven't got a clue whats happening now. They've been told that the work is being "prioritised".

We all know what Lynne Hillan, Robert Rams and Brian Coleman's top priority is. Hard Cash. This was the first issue they turned their minds to on re-election. They will do anything to cling to their allowances and power. Lets just hope that their backbench colleagues see sense and force through a change before it's too late.

Rather interestingly, Hillan Coleman and Rams have taken to telling the press porkies about the margin of her 19-18 victory (unnatributed of course). They've also taken to using silly alias's such as HUNTER999 to leave silly messages. Best of all, they've taken to saying that blogs such as this "make things up". Well if you look at this blog, if you see any text that is a different colour and underlined, then that is a direct link to the source of the information. In fact, just about the only "anonymous" source of information are the many leaked emails/phonecalls from councillors (and employees) at Barnet Council.For some strange reason, none of them like their identity to be known.

Until Barnet Council enacts legislation to carry on it's business in an open and transparent way, this will continue. What does it tell us that they had an election for the top job, Leader of Barnet Council on Tuesday and they wouldn't even tell us how many votes the Leader got. It is disgusting


baarnett said...

Does this HUNTER999 play the mouth organ?

Perhaps I ought to rephrase that.

Moaneybat said...

So when they say ""drop in our ability to provide a full repairs service," when did Connaught and a minority of staff ever provide a good repairs service? For the rest I sincerely hope that the maintenance service can be taken back directly in-house by the council and definitely not by the ALMO'st.

Hopefully some of these new contractors and some of the existing ones can offer some semblance of "service & maintenance" in return for their lowest tender.

Have to agree with you the Future is Shit unless we revoke Cabinet style Government and limit the 'allowances we pay to those wishing to 'give something back' to their communinity.

Jaybird said...

Conservative Home also does not seem to have the leadership election results quite accurately