Wednesday, 7 September 2011

An open letter to Barnet Council employees from the Barnet Eye

Dear employee of Barnet Council,

Today you will have seen huge billboards appearing all over North London Business Park with a signed message from Barnet Council CEO Nick Walkley.
Picture courtesy of
Many  Barnet Council employees read the Barnet Eye and regularly get in touch with us about all manner of issues within the council. The Barnet Eye is aware how embarrassing the continual examples of mismanagement, PR gaffes and hair brained initiatives are for the ordinary staff of Barnet Council. We know how galling it must be to see armies of consultants on huge fees earning small fortunes, writing reports which will never get read, describing processes that they know cannot be implemented.

In the face of such clear attempts to intimidate staff, almost unprecedented in local government industrial relations, many staff may be wondering whether an industrial dispute is a prudent move. As most staff live in Barnet and care passionately about the services they deliver and the people they serve, they may worry that industrial action is not the answer and there may be another way to go to prevent a calamity for them, the people they serve and the Barnet Council organisation.

The Barnet Eye is three years old next month. In that time, we have covered disaster after disaster at Barnet Council. We've seen dozens of reports, explicity saying that Future Shape and now One Barnet will fail. Many of these have been written by the Council's own auditors. We've seen a massive corporate failure in the shape of the Metpro  Fiasco. We've seen reports detailing how the Council have outsourced data centres and now they are dangerous. We've seen reports detailing how One Barnet has no proper controls, milestones or project plans. We've seen huge legal fees racked up as a result of previous outsourcing exercises.

If logic or common sense came into the equation, Barnet Council would have called time on the One Barnet process long ago and saved millions in consultant fees. Sadly we have a deputy CEO who is a consultant and is committed to the concept. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, he persists in ploughing on. His boss, CEO Nick Walkley, like any aggressive bully who is losing an argument, has taken the path of trying to shout louder, knowing that he's already lost the argument. He is seeking to win the argument by intimidatinon, using huge posters, because he knows he cannot win the arguments based on the facts.

Whilst industrial action should always be the last resort, the Barnet trades Unions have tried everything else. Logic, reason, expert advice, marches, discussions. There is nowhere else left to go with Barnet Council and it's current Tory leadership. It is clear that the executive of Barnet Council is worried, why else take such desperate action? This is why industrial action is a powerful tool in negotiation. It will not be easy. Barnet is hell bent on it's path. It is like a runaway train where the driver has had a brain haemorrage and it is heading for a cliff at full pelt with no one in control.

Do not be intimidated. Do not be fooled. The only reason Barnet have resorted to putting up these hugely expensive posters is because they know the game is up. Barnet Unison has a very long record of being a most reasonable Union. Barnet has not strikes by public sector workers or action on this scale for a very long time. It is clear to any rational person that Barnet Council is unreasonable. It is clear they have no coherent strategy. The sooner that the whole matter is settled and they think again, the better. If you let them get away with this, they will destroy the public services and public finances of Barnet Council. Even the the Conservatives know this. That is why last yeat, they nearly threw the former Leader out and replaced her with Councillor Mark Shooter, a man known to think One Barnet is a complete farce. He was only prevented by a few unprinicipled councillors taking promotions to switch sides.

In short, if you back down from this battle, you will lose everything. If you can force Barnet Council to see sense, you may just save the Council and the people of Barnet will owe you a huge debt of gratitude.

I have written this blog as a labour of love for the people of Barnet for the last three years. Unlike the army of Consultants I'm not paid to do it. Over this period I've read thousands of documents and talked to dozens of experts about one barnet. I've not seen a single shred of evidence which has credibly shown how it can be made to work or save the taxpayer money. If there was Nick Walkley would have put that on huge billboards around NLBP and other Tory councils would be beating a path to his door. That is how I know I'm on the right track in my analysis. Stick together, unity is strength.

1 comment:

baarnett said...

"... armies of consultants on huge fees, earning small fortunes, writing reports which will never get read."

Quite wrong Roger.

They are read by other members of the armies of consultants on huge fees, earning small fortunes.

There may be reasons to consider private provision of certain council services. To do that to all of them at once is just blind political dogma.

It seems rather like the way, in the 1990s, British Rail was broken up in a terrible hurry, while the decay of the John Major government was obvious to all. The result was Railtrack plc, the Hatfield rail-crash, and lots of trains going around at 15 miles-per-hour, in case the track fell apart.