Thursday, 7 April 2011

Barnet Council Metpro Scandal : Nick Walkley - How can we shut this down

First  the good news. Barnet Council have finally admitted that something has gone badly wrong with their procurement process, in regards to the Metpro Rapid Response contract and how the public were dealt with. This has been reported by the Hendon Times :-

Now the bad news. It appears that Barnet Council CEO Nick Walkley is trying to play three card brag with the people of Barnet. By sanctioning an "audit" which reports to the Audit Committee, he has in effect stated that he believes the problems with the contract are merely ones of financial governance. By calling such a narrow enquiry and not publishing the terms of reference, he has rather craftily tried to put the issue to bed. He can say to the public "we are investigating". No doubt, in three months time a report will come out which will say that financial arrangements can be improved and that will be that.  It is simply not good enough. For such an important issue, the council should have put out a proper press release on their press enquiries site. Instead an unnamed official seems to have issued a statement to a select few friends in the press. Vicki Morris, who was co-ordinating the campaign received nothing.

We are currently working on a formal response to Barnet and Mr Nick Walkley. To have any credibility the investigation must :-

A) Publish its terms of reference.
B) Publish details of the investigators and their competencies for such an investigation
C) Examine all paperwork related to MetPro and put it all in the public domain
E) Explain what happened in relation to an apparant breach of the Data Protection act
F) Prove that the council had paperwork verifying the CRB checks of all Metpro staff for the term of the contract
G) Prove that the Council had performed due diligence on the SIA status of staff.
H) Produce any available evidence as to the councils knowledge of the filming of staff
I) Produce all risk assessments regarding the use of such a company
J) Produce the DDA assessment done with regard to the use of the company
K) Produce all details of safeguarding measures in relation to the use of such a company at sites housing vulnerable people
L) Examine the Councils policy as to vetting the financial status of subcontracting companies

The Evening Standard tonight carried a report on the issue :-

I have been told (and I have no idea whether this is true - although I personally believe my source) that the Audit investigation announced today was the result of a crisis meeting.  The meeting brief was to devise a strategy to "shut this issue down". A certain person rather high up in the chain stated that "We are in the shit" and "We need to be seen to do something before it gets completely out of hand" (or words to that effect).

As ever, when this blog makes statements which cannot be proven and are quite clearly hearsay, we give a health warning. We also invite the CEO, Mr Nick Walkley or his Deputy Mr Andrew Travers to write a guest post (which as ever will be printed without editing or comment) to clarify the matter and state exactly what was said at the meeting where the "damage limitation strategy" was discussed. They could also clarify the points raised above.

I can assure Mr  Walkley and Mr Travers that there is deep unease at the highest levels of the Council about this issue and many senior officers have grave concerns (which I assume they are keeping to themselves in meetings). If there is nothing to hide, then do this in the open. If there is something to hide, then it needs exposing.

Let me just explain something to Mr Walkley and Mr Travers. People ring up bloggers such as myself, when they feel they are put in a position where they are defending the indefensible or being asked to act against the interests of the people who pay their wages. Generally they are very uncomfortable and nervous about talking about such things. It is generally quite easy to tell when people are genuine. The whole purpose of the press release issued on Monday wasn't to get people sacked, get people into trouble or to make trouble. It was to ensure that Barnet Council acts in an open manner in the best interests of the people of Barnet and the democratic process. If you cannot understand that, quite frankly you are not fit to do the job and you should resign.


baarnett said...

Of course, we also want to know how and why another security company, with a very similar name to the one in liquidation (clearly just a co-incidence) was allegedly appointed by the council.

And then allegedly 'sacked'.

Presumably the second company was only appointed after open tender, or the use of a long-standing list (difficult with a company only set up in January) or after due diligence (which will, of course, have been fully documented, and will be available under a Freedom of Information Act request).

Close this down? It has only just begun.

LBB said...

Rog, the reason officers don't speak up is because of the vindictive and persecuting atmosphere engendered by Mr W and his cronies.
Anyone who disagrees with the Dalek's One Barnet Agenda, get's exterminated...

Look at the amount of senior officers that have "disappeared" over the last couple of years...

LBB said...

Anyone got any ideas why there was a Metpro Range Rover parked in Whetstone High Road yesterday watching traffic on CCTV screens in their vehicle? They were there for at least an hour, possibly much longer.