Saturday, 12 May 2012

Barnet - The smoke and mirrors council

Smoke and Mirrors by Jim Kramer
Barnet Council have a new website. The purpose of this website is supposed to be to make it easier for citizens to engage with their council. It purports to be a tool for openness and transparency. It is nothing of the sort. Barnet has become the "smoke and mirrors" council. There are various spreadsheets that you can download, which supposedly tell you everything you may be interested to find out about how the council is run. Unless like me  you've spent years checking up on them, you may have been totally taken in by it. Let's a look at a few of these.

Contracts register -
This only contains 65 contracts. Those of us who attended the Metpro audit inquiry know that there are over 9,000 current contracts.
Copy of Compliant Contracts Going Live 30 Nov 2011

So where are they?

Even more misleading is the spreadsheet for senior staff pay. - This tells me that nine full time employees are on over £100k Per annum. Sadly, they have not included any contractors, on Tax "efficient" schemes such as Deputy CEO Andrew Travers - how many of these are there? They clearly don't want us to know. So all we see is a tiny glimpse of the picture. Even more disturbing is the fact that the names of some of these public servants is "withheld" such as "Deputy Director of Adult Social Services" - it is odd that we can now who is in charge of MI5, but not a deputy director of Barnet Council. Here's the full spreadsheet, ordered by wages.

Copy of Senior Employee Salaries Over Pound 58200 as at 31 March 2012

All in all, the new website is a perfect mirror of Barnet. I have no idea whatsoever what sort of a Council Barnet really is. I do know exactly what it isn't. That is honest and transparent. Maybe you don't care. You should. It is your money that is paying for all of this. Unless we can see how it is being spent, we can only assume that they really don't want us to know something.


Mr Mustard said...

and the spreadsheet is out of date Roger as Sarah Murphy-Brookman is now the Assistant Director of HR. One can't be transparent and out of date at the same time.

Zoe said...

Most of what the general public want on searches show page not found or page broken. A recent FOI request came back with the link to a page which was broken. It fragments information on to separate pages basically the new website is like trying to read a document that has been through a shredder. Nightmare