Friday, 24 February 2012

Barnet Council - A ship of fools heading for the rocks

What on Earth is going on at Barnet Council. First we have the culture of the Ignorami, exemplified by Councillor Robert Rams. Rams states (on page 3 of this weeks Press) that "if the argument over libraries had come down to grammar then he had already won". Let's set aside the other 28 questions from members of the public raising other objections, which Councillor Rams ignored. If Councillor Rams cannot understand the value of correct English, then it is clear he doesn't understand the purpose of libraries and is completely the wrong person to be in charge of them. It is all a little sad, isn't it.

Then there are the members of staff, setting up businesses, whilst working at the Council (presumably at our expense). How did this information come to light? Because a group of Bloggers, who actually care about the Borough we live in, rather than seeing it as a cash cow, have worked tirelessly to uncover such scandals.

Then this morning, I got an email from a guest blogger of ours, John Sullivan, who tells me that Barnet Council themselves are at it. John informs me that Amanda Jackson, is the head of a Local Authority Trading Company (LATC). This is a company set up by Barnet Council, to deliver services previously provided by the Council. Amanda was the person at Barnet who pushed through the privatisation of many services.

John queries whether there is a conflict of interest and tells me

"Barnet Council blocked all attempts by a newly formed private company, run by very experienced  ex Barnet Council care workers, to distribute their leaflets at Community Space (a Barnet Council care facility), the market they are geared up to cater for. Barnet claim they are committed to providing choice for disabled people, but thwart all attempts of competitors to the LATC to provide services to local people who may want them".

I have to confess, I knew nothing of this LATC or what it does. You can read about it's launch here at the Times website :-

I am concerned that the Council is acting beyond it's remit, creating private companies and setting up commercial competition, whilst having a virtual monopoly on how contracts are doled out. Who profits and how is this regulated? What democratic accountability is there? I have the following questions.

1) Does the LATC have a preferred supplier role, compared to other suppliers?

2) Can someone work for the LATC and LBB at the same time?

3) Does the LATC have access to information that gives it a competetive advantage?

4) Who pays the salarys and start up costs of the LATC?

5) Is the LATC subsidised?

6) Can I serve FoI requests on the LATC?

What is going on at Barnet Council? It strikes me that it is ever more resembling a ship of fools steaming at full speed straight for the rocks.

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