'My party is backing me on One Barnet', says Barnet Council leader Richard Cornelius
So says Richard Cornelius in the Barnet Times this week -
Please bookmark this article on your web browser. In eighteen months time, when you get a knock on the door from your local Conservative Council candidate, remind them of this. To quote the Richard Cornelius, Leader of the Council
Everyone knows where we’re going and the members of my group are happy that we’re going ahead.
The group gave Mr Cornelius a unanimous vote of Confidence in a recent meeting. However hard they may protest in years to come, or claim they had private misgivings, the truth is that they all backed him. If you are elected to be a Councillor, unless you resign you remain one for four years. They cannot sack you. If a councillor votes against the party line, they can have the party whip suspended or completely withdrawn. They may get voted off committees (as happened to Kate Salinger when she voted against awarding herself a payrise) which will hit them in the pocket, but they cannot remove you from the Council chamber. It only needs six Conservative Councillors to vote against One Barnet and it would be withdrawn. It is quite clear that there are not six who are prepared to stand up for the people of Barnet and vote on principle not pocket.
There are several reasons why Conservative Councillors should take action for the interests of the people they represent.
1. The contracts are for ten years, with no get outs. If the council finds (as they have in many other outsourcing contracts) that they have got it wrong, it will cost tens of millions to sort out. This will be paid for by the Barnet Taxpayer.
2. There will be no democratic control of the way services are run once contracts are signed with the contract is signed.
3. Councillors saw the 8000 page contract for the first time on Wednesday. The Leader stated on BBC radio yesterday that the contract is "too big for one person to get their head round". Perversely he has only allowed until 6th December for Councillors to ask questions and scrutinise the details. This is clearly far too short a period. It is clear that the scrutiny committee is being treated by the Council Officers as a "rubber stamping" authority.
4. No in house comparison has been undertaken. This means that we have no idea whether the "savings" Capita state they can make could be equalled or bettered with no risk by in house efficiencies.
Even if Conservative Councillors are 100% convinced that the Capita contract is the way to go, surely they should seek to have robust evidence to support the claim. They cannot possibly claim this is the case.
It really is as simple as that. We may not be able to stop One Barnet, only the Conservative councillors can do that. What we can do is make sure that they pay the price at the ballot box in 2014.