Tuesday, 20 December 2011

How much have bloggers saved the London Borough of Barnet? Metpro savings revealed

Some things you can't quantify and some you can. Various stooge commenters have placed comments on stories on the Hendon Times website, making disparaging remarks about bloggers and the cost of Freedom of Information requests (FOI). The implication was that bloggers are merely a costly overhead and add no value to Barnet. As the bloggers of Barnet collectively uncovered the Metpro Securit scandal through FOI's and other enquiries, I thought I'd submit an FOI to see how much the bloggers of Barnet will be saving the Barnet Taxpayer. Since the Metpro Non Contract was terminated, two new suppliers have been used.

As Metpro were paid over one million four hundred thousand pounds, I estimate that the savings will be in the region of £200,000. That is to say nothing of any other contracts identified as a result of the various reviews instigated as a result of the inquiries.

Perhaps the most telling thing about this cosy arrangement is that Barnet have admitted paying over the top for unnecessary services, which have not been replaced.

Here is the response from Barnet Council to my request (my request is the second email)

From: ********
To: Roger Tichborne
Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 5:42 PM
Subject: Security services - Cost of MetPro Contract

Dear Mr Tichborne,

I am writing regarding your request, received by the London Borough of Barnet (the Council) on 29th November 2011 for access to information regarding the cost of the security services.

We are processing your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the FOIA).  My response to your request is below.


The supply of security services is currently in the process of being re-tendered.  Since suspending the use of MetPro, we have been using the services of a number of different suppliers (mainly Blue 9 Security at Barnet House, Comer Property Management (NLBP) and Magenta Security Services for the Mill Hill Depot and others) on an interim basis.  In addition, some of the services that would have previously been supplied by MetPro have not been “replaced” – in other words, we have chosen to manage without additional security in some instances.  It is therefore not possible to provide you with an overall cost saving in the way that you have requested the information which gives any level of accuracy in terms of comparing “like with like”.  

We can, however, give you a cost comparison in terms of the hourly rates paid, which are as follows:

MetPro Rapid Response (hourly rate):                £17.00
Comer Property Management (hourly rate):                   £14.68            (= 13.65% cheaper than MetPro)
Blue 9 Security (hourly rate):                                             £14.50            (= 14.7% cheaper than MetPro)

If you would like me to provide you with sample invoices from any of the above, please let me know.

Whilst I appreciate that this may not be as detailed a response as you might have hoped for, I hope that this will give you an idea of the cost saving to the Council, instead of simply refusing to answer the question at all on the grounds that it would go over the cost limit allowed for answering FOI enquiries.

Your Rights

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been handled, you can request a review by writing to the FOI Officer at: The London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London, N11 1NP (email foi@barnet.gov.uk).

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF (telephone: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45; website: www.ico.gov.uk).

There is no charge for making an appeal.

Yours sincerely

A********* ********
Governance Officer
Corporate Governance Directorate
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP
Tel: 020 8359 7***
net Online:
P please consider the environment - do you really need to print this email?

From: Roger Tichborne
Sent: 29 November 2011 07:52
To: Freedom of Information Act; Freedom of Information Act
Cc: Walkley, Nick; Cornelius, Cllr Richard Conservative
Subject: FOI Request - Security services - Cost of Metpro Contract

Dear Freedom of Information,

Earlier this year, following the disclosure by bloggers that Metpro Security group were operating illegally withing Barnet Council, the council replaced their contract with a new supplier.

Please could you provide details of the amount saved by using the new contractor. Please calculate this assuming that the invoices paid to the new company would have been paid to Metpro at the old Metpro standard contract rate. Where this is not possible please provide invoices and an explanation as to why.

Roger Tichborne


baarnett said...

Oooh, the FoI people are getting to be helpful, aren't they!

You could demand a 'like-for-like' comparison at, say, Barnet House, but your estimate is probably quite accurate.

I saw Metpro once, late at night, at Barnet House. Their brightly-painted over-sized fully-tracked armoured personnel carrier (or whatever it was) in the large council car park reminded me of "Robot Wars".

(The five Barnet bloggers would circle it, and steer it into The Drop Zone or The Pit of Oblivion or ...)

Mr Mustard said...

Good work Roger. I would add that everything seems to go in minimum 10 year contracts now and One Barnet counts its saving in that way and the saving is at least £100k a year so that is a £1m cashable saving.