Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Barnet in the eye of a media storm

Six weeks ago, I asked two officials from Barnet Council whether they were aware that more people involved in local, regional and national media lived in the London Borough of Barnet than any other area in the country. They smirked and asked what relevance this had as to whether Barnet Council should negotiate over the Friern Barnet Library reopening.

I suggested that this was the reason that Barnet was the battleground for many policies and this was why they would find themselves under the spotlight, if they were unreasonable. This week we've had yet more national press coverage. Today the Daily Mirror covered the issue of Friern Barnet Library

On Monday we had the Guardian covering One Barnet
What astounds me is the fact that most of the Council officials championing these bonkers plans haven't twigged what this means for their careers. Even more astounding is that the companies such as Capita and BT haven't twigged that Barnet is toxic and it will cause them immeasurable reputational damage if they persist with their plans. They may well make a few quid in Barnet, but unlike the other outsourcing failures in Local Government, Barnet failures will be big news. 
The former CEO of Barnet, Nick Walkley recognised how damaging Barnet was to his CV. That was why he left for a lower profile, less well paid job in Haringey. He is clearly hoping that by legging it from Barnet, he will be able to repair his reputation and say "Not on my watch guv'nor" when he gets quizzed as to why he let One Barnet fall to bits. Doubtless he'll say "I tried to warn the numpties on the Council, but they just wouldn't listen and I've been vindicated". Those of us who live here know better, but slippery Nick is no mug. Sadly the mugs have been left behind to try and implement a discredited and unpopular policy. 
Who is driving it? It was 100% clear that it isn't Richard Cornelius, The Leader of the Council. He seemed to barely understand the issues when quizzed at the BAPS question time last week (check the video footage if you don't believe me). My sources tell me the stand in CEO, Andrew Travers is a sceptic. Which leaves the question WHO? My sources tell me that the man behind all of this is still Mike Freer MP. He has control of the local Conservative association and is the back seat driver, pushing us over the cliff. 
Of course this is speculation. Maybe Mr Freer may like to enlighten us? If he thinks it is such a good idea, I'm sure that  there are many people in the media who'd like a chat. If he thinks it is a bad idea, he has a duty of care to say. 


baarnett said...

Of course, if and when the £1-billion OneBarnet contracts fail, and in a very public manner, people may well be dragged before a Parliamentary Select Committee, whether or not they are still at the council.

I always thought Margaret Hodge MP was useless, following her earlier debacles at Islington Council, but as Chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, she made the Quote of the Year, talking to one of the low-life tax-dodging corporation executives:

“We are not,” said Margaret Hodge, “accusing you of being illegal. We are accusing you of being immoral.”

Unknown said...

I think this is the way to go now: reputation for the private sector and for Mike Freer. Well done, Roger.