Friday, 21 October 2011

Barnet Council - Let's call an end to this Ineptocracy !

Lets have a quick review of the "achievements" of Barnet Council since the Tories took control in 2002.

Parking costs - Massive rises Mill Hill Station Car Park daily fee 2002 - £2 - 2010 £5 =  150% rise

Council Tax -  Massive rise 2003/4 (1st year of Tory Budget) - Band D £796.89 - 2011/12 - £1423
(Note : It would probably be higher if National Government hadn't frozen it)

Council Investments - £27.4 Million lost in Icelandic deposits

Winter Roads Cock up - Last Winter Barnet run out of Grit, hours after Councillor Brian Coleman claimed there was plenty of Grit. Hundreds of cars have been wrecked by potholes, left unfixed for months (The council claimed that cold in winters could not be predicted)

Computer Cock ups - 2006 - Tory Council Leader Mike Freer announced £8 Million SAP project to "transform" Barnet Council purchasing. 2011 - Costs at £24 Million and rising, Audit committee declares purchasing a shambles following MetPro.

Metpro Scandal - Barnet paid £1.4 Million to Metpro Group for security services. No proper tender was done, no licenses checked (because there were none) and other bona fide suppliers found to be cheaper, when scandal exposed by bloggers.

Tory Councillors who don't know how to behave - The record - Councillor Brian Coleman found guilty of breaching Standards Code whilst Mayor in 2009 - NO ACTION taken. Currently under investigation again for similar breach. Councillor John Hart - Under investigation after admitting making racist comments as Chairman of Hendon & District Residents forum, to local resident in front of 20 people - Not suspended from Tory Group.

Aerodrome Road Bridge replacement - Then 2008 - Council Deputy Leader Matthew Offord announces £12 million pound redevelopment of Aerodrome Road rail Bridge. 2009 - costs spiral to £23 Million.

One Barnet/Future Shape - 2007 - Then Council Leader Mike Freer announces Future Shape Project to "transform the council and save millions" - 2011 - no savings, millions (which Barnet refuse to reveal) spent on consultants, workforce on strike and Council in chaos. 2010 - Barnet Council auditors find that Barnet has no business case or project plan.

Abolition of Sheltered Housing wardens - Barnet launch consultation for users of service in 2008 - over 80% of users reject Barnets proposals. Barnet ignore this and persist. High Court throws out changes for failing to take account of equalities impact.

Outsourced Computer centres shown to be at risk of being eaten by rats in April 2011 audit council report. Servers shown to be insecure and data security non exisitent.

Salary of Leo Bolland - Barnet CEO in 2002  - £114,000 per annum. Salary of Nick Walkley, Barnet CEO in 2011 -  £200,000 - How many people do you know who's salary has gone up by 57%. Walkley was promoted from within the organisation, so the argument that the money was needed to attract top talent is clearly a red herring.

Senior Councillor Allowances - Voted themselves a 57% rise in June 2010.

These are just a few of the achievements of the Barnet Council Conservatives since 2002. Can anybody reasonably suggest that they are anything other than inept? The job of Barnet Councillors is to "hold the executive to account" on behalf of the taxpayer. They've let salaries go through the roof. The only Barnet Council committee chairman to emerge with any credibility whatsoever is Lord Monroe Palmer, who is head of the Audit Committee. He produced a highly critical report and has instigated major changes to the council procedures. He has been highly critical of cost cutting in the audit department, which has allowed incompetence and complacency to thrive in Barnet. Is it any surprise that the only committee chair with any credibility is also the only committee chair who is not a Conservative?

The only Conservative Councillor to oppose the allowance rise was Kate Salinger. She was immediately stripped of her responsibility for sticking up for Barnet residents, in a shameful public humiliation. I simply refuse to believe that any ordinary Conservative party member in Barnet who bothered to check all of this out, would want to support such a useless and inept bunch of no hopers as the Barnet Conservative Cabinet. Surely there are wise, intelligent and decent Conservative party members out there who could do a far better job. I wouldn't expect to agree with many aspects of their program, but basic managerial competence would diffuse much of the criticism. Many local Conservative members run businesses and have a huge wealth of proper management experience that they could bring to the table. The Council currently has senior cabinet members like Robert Rams, who's job is to be a back office boy in the Tory party machine. It is time that decent people, with a grounding in management were brought in.

This week, senior Tory Councillor Brian Coleman berated a single mother for "not living in the real world", purely because she had the audacity to ask him for advice in securing a home for her and her son. In the "real world" of business and commerce, failure at a managerial level results in the sack. I'd be all for a bit of the real world to emerge at Barnet Council. In the real world, how many people can vote themselves a 57% pay rise, for doing not an hours more work. How many workers in the real world have seen their salary rise from £114,000 to £200,000 when the finances of the organisation have fallen apart?

This is my message to all Barnet Conservative members. Start to play an active part in your association. Get rid of the dead wood and get in some fresh blood. When you select candidates, ask them what experience they have "of the real world". You have a choice, you can start selecting people of the calibre required or the voters may just kick you all out on your ear. The world has changed since 2002, when the Tories took control. The next election will be a great opportunity for voters to issue a mid term warning to the government. The Tories lost control of Barnet Council in 1994 because they were out of touch, lazy, arrogant and complacent. The local Tory party selection panels do not have a democratic selection process. That is why we have Ineptocracy in Barnet. It is time for it to end

1 comment:

baarnett said...

I hadn't realized it was 'The Soup Waiter of Hendon' who was the lead councillor on the Aerodrome Road Railway Bridge Disaster (like the Tay Railway Bridge Disaster, but more expensive).

What good fortune it is, that he is now in the House of Commons, where he can't do so much harm.