When Lady Thatcher was in her pomp as Prime Minister, the only real opposition to her often seemed to be the TV show Spitting Image. This mercilessly lampooned the Tories, portraying them as a bunch of complete numpties, browbeaten by Thatcher and her handbag. In one of the most famous scenes, Thatcher is in a restaurant with her cabinet. The waiter comes up and asks "What would you like" She responds "Steak". The waiter then asks "and the vegetables?". Thatcher responded "They'll have steak as well".
I was reminded of this scene when I saw the response from Richard Cornelius about the level of oversight and scrutiny which councillors are being "allowed" to perform on the One Barnet contract, which is being announced today. This contract has taken four years to work out. Barnet Council has spent and allocated £19 million of our money towards getting this drawn up. Today the contract award will be unveiled and councillors will have one week to undertake scrutiny. This is for a contract which is reportedly for a sum between £125 and £250 million and will last for ten years.
Councillors are not full time employees. They do their duties in their spare time. This means that the biggest ever change in Barnet Council will get a few hours of councillors time. Sadly, it seems that it is not Richard Cornelius ordering the steak for the vegetables. It unclear who the puppet master is, but what is clear is that councillors are expected to do what the officers tell them and sod the rest of us.
The whole One Barnet is really just like a punch and judy show. We see the sock puppets, but we never see what is really happening or who is pulling the strings. Anyone for vegetables?