I've been away for three days in Centre Parcs in Sherwood Forest. We met Robin Hood on our travels. He was a bloke who used to rob from the rich to give to the poor. He is a big inspiration to Barnet Council. Sadly they've got it a a bit wrong. Seems to me that these days it is fashionable to rob from the poor and give to multinational corporations.
In "Barnet - The Billion Pound Gamble" we heard John Sullivan tell how his daughter gets charged £1.20 for a cup of coffee in a Church Hall by the councils provider of choice. This is the same council which is spending £1 billion of our money with Capita. Capita aim to make a 17.5% return on investment. In otherwords. In a simplistic world, we could say this means we'll give Capita shareholders approx £175 million pounds to do what the the council used to do. The leaders of Barnet Council believe that this will work out cheaper than doing it themselves. When I say they believe, this is a belief rather like my belief as a Roman Catholic in the Virgin Mary, The Holy Trinity and the Communion of Saints. The difference between my belief and that of the Leaders of Barnet Council, we will all know long before we die who was right. In fact anyone who followed the Capita Week blogs will have a pretty good idea now, how all of this will go.
Shortly before Christmas a Jehovas Witness knocked on my door. He seemed like a perfectly pleasant chap. He asked if I believed in God. I replied "Yes, I'm a Roman Catholic". I won't bore you with all of the details, but he informed me that I am destined for Hell as a result of my beliefs. Whilst he may well be correct in his idea of my final destination, he was sadly unable to provide any tangible evidence to convince me.
I then said to him "I've listened to your sales pitch for five minutes, will you do me the courtesy of listening to mine?" He looked a little worried. I replied "Don't worry I'm happy for you to continue in your system of belief. I want to discuss the "One Barnet program". I asked if he was a Barnet resident and he said he was. I asked if he had heard about the One Barnet program and he said "No". I then explained to him what it was all about and asked if he thought it sounded like a good idea. He was a little perplexed. He said "Well, I don't think it sounds as if they have thought it through". I agreed to take one of his leaflets and read it if he took one of mine and promised to read it. As the witnesses have a huge operation in Mill Hill and presumably many members, I suggested that they should at least familiarise themselves with what is going on. I suggested that if it all goes wrong (as I suspect it will), they will end up paying more Council tax and so have less money to pay in tithes to the religion. They are likley to have to spend more time dealing with the chaos caused by the council and have far less time for knocking on peoples doors. This concerned him.
He then told me a very strange thing. Did you know that many large corporations and multinational firms are controlled by Satanists and are deliberately stirring up trouble on behalf of the devil? At that point the penny dropped. I had been totally unable to figure out why any sane person would sign up to One Barnet. but as reasons for signing a ten year contract, having done no public sector comparator, it is about as a good a reason as I've heard yet.
And the devils work must be done. As I sit in my office, preparing a VAT return for my business, with heavy cold, I considered all of the faith communities in Barnet. Jews, Muslims, Cristians, Jehovas Witnesses, SiKhs, Buddhists, Athiests, Hindus, Zoriastrians, to name but a few. The effects of One Barnet will affect all of us. There are people of many religions, no religion and some of us who just aren't sure. We could spend hours trying to convince each other that our own flavour of faith was the best, and I doubt any of us could stratch the surface of another persons belief. This only happens at times of great trauma.
What I do know is that in just five minutes I convinced an articulate young man, who is used to dealing with all manner of arguments, that he really should be worried about the changes Barnet council is making to the way it runs our services.
It has been suggested to me that the One Barnet Contract was finally signed sealed and delivered on the day of the Mayan apocalypse. Is it a sign ?