Monday 25 March 2013

Guest Blog - Barnet Spring March Saturday 23/03/2013 - By John Sullivan

By John Sullivan,

I've just read  the Barnet Eye and the blog of Mrs Angry regarding our Barnet Spring/ Winter March on Saturday in weather that at times reached near blizzard proportions, it was bloody cold and will probably prove to have been in the top five worst days of the year where weather is concerned.
But we had as you rightly say a very good turnout, sadly had the weather been more kind there would have been greater numbers and the march would have been led by a battalion of disabled people in wheelchairs, to highlight the ongoing and current attacks on the disabled and those with a disability in Barnet by Cornelius and his crew of uncaring  ideologues.
The march was attended by people representing a specific problem such as anti NHS privatisation , or anti bedroom tax, and  many other issues but all fully supportive of the challenge to the One Barnet Programme ( OBP) and demanding the return of democracy in Barnet. Many people I spoke with  support my contention that Barnet under Cornelius and co has affectively become a Democracy Free Zone, and I would wish to concentrate my comments on the lack of democracy in Barnet and the adverse affects it threatens my daughter Susan  and her peers with. Their  future  is now at serious risk thanks to OBP phase one the formation of the LATC that incorporates Your Choice Barnet , coupled with the complete lack of democratic process in Barnet ,and the absolute refusal of any Barnet councillor or Officer to engage in meaningful consultation.

Lets us not forget the Barrister at the Royal Courts of Justice last week acting for LBB was not speaking for herself  she was speaking for Cornelius and co, she was repeating what she had been advised was the factual and truthful situation. Which very basically and in layman language was CONSULTATION ! what possible reason would we have to consult with Barnet residents, they are just a bunch of PLEBS, we are under no obligation to consult with this bunch of morons, and anyway why should we what the hell has it got to do with them anyway?.

They then went on to highlight areas of consultation on OBP that they had undertaken such as Leader Listening panels and Citizens panels  among others, most of which after basic scrutiny were proven to be without any foundation in fact. From my perspective it was proven beyond any reasonable doubt that LBB led by Cornelius and co have never at any time engaged in the democratic process of meaningful consultation with Barnet residents on OBP. A message that came across loud and clear at out Spring/ Winter  March on Saturday, people were and are demanding the return of the democratic process to Barnet, the end of 10 ideologues making decision after decision on our behalf without due democratic process, Decisions such as Fremantle and others than have to date cost Barnet residents millions, LBB have yet to get an outsourcing of any note right that has not cost Barnet resident s money. As  repeatedly stated by people on the march, councillors have cost us millions on small privatisation to date because they got it wrong, what in hell is going to happen to our public services if they have got the One Billion Pound OBP wrong.

The most recent privatisations of our public services is yet again  failing completely  and hanging on for survival by being in a hole and still digging, it is the Your Choice Barnet a sub section of Barnet Homes Local Authority Trading Company ( LATC )  to accommodate Housing and Your Choice Barnet  ( YCB )which undertakes the support services for my daughter and her peers, people with a mixture of disabilities including a mental handicap . People that need help and support , people that we as a civilized society have a responsibility as human beings to protect and defend. A Trading Company that is now trading after just one year on borrowed money and borrowed time, and time is of the essence to rescue my daughter Susan and her peers from the incompetence of and virtual insolvency of YCB.
I will not go into the disaster that parking has become because anyone interested in this pathetic attempt at privatisation only needs to Google Mr Mustard for a detailed explanation as to why it is yet another potentially costly mistake pushed through without consultation by those that think they know it all, and believe us residents are simpletons unable to have a constructive input.
There is a more immediate issue that requires attention and the focus of Barnet residents that have any level of humanity and that is the protection of my daughter Susan and her peers, from what has proven to be the disastrous privatisation of their services into the hands of an LATC named Your Choice Barnet. YCB was launched with a fanfare just last year making all sorts of claims it would offer clients More Choice , More activity out in the community, no service changes apart from the logo, and for the money grabbing profit hungry ideological Tory councillors  " loads of money " . Lots of lovely money will be earned from these unfortunate souls they said,  a policy of profit before people which has become the standard bearer for Cornelius and co. That has spectacularly crash landed in one year and is in effect up to its neck in debt, and once again being bailed out by Barnet residents to the tune of One Million Pounds. Yes One Million Pounds of Barnet taxpayers money, Barnet taxpayers  who Cornelius and co claim have no right to be consulted. Is being taken from Barnet Homes by way of a loan to underpin Your Choice Barnet, even though Barnet is desperately short of social housing ,and should be investing that money where it was intended, not  propping up yet another failed  privatisation disaster forced through by Barnet councillors without consultation.

The worst aspect of this financial car crash that is YCB is the fact these arrogant self opinionated councillors and officers were warned that the business model that they were launching YCB on was not sustainable and fatally flawed ,by parents such as myself and  by experts in the field commissioned by Unison but we were ignored. YCB has been a disaster waiting to happen that has crashed financially in the most dramatic way in just one year, it has not offered the More Choice or the More Activity in the Community , the services have changed and not just the logo and things are about to get worse.
An undertaking was given by LBB that in the event of commercial failure of YCB the services would have to be brought back in-house, and now there has been a total collapse of the company they are ignoring that undertaking and have launched a plan B business model that has about as much chance of success as the initial plan for privatisation ( Plan A). They have launched a consultation period from 1st March 2013 on the Plan B, that  gambles with the lives of this vulnerable group of people that is already giving the lie to two of the major promise of Plan A, which I repeat offered More Choices and More activity in the Community.

However the reality is to repay the debts of the car crash of Plan A many of this group who have always enjoyed five day per week support activities are having those days cut back, and they are being dumped at home for at least one of those five days per week. Which will no doubt as the hole gets deeper become two or three days per week, which blows a hole in the whole premise and the promises in Plan A of "More In Community  Activity " when in essence what is on offer is " More Dumped At Home Captivity "at the home isolated from their peers. Not only that they are demoting staff cutting their wages removing allowances for working adverse hours such as evenings and weekends. They are driving away the more expensive skilled care workers and replacing them with cheap labour. My question is how do you scrutinise something in order to prepare for consultation , when the vitally important financial information is omitted from the consolation document.  I could go on and on but I hope these bothering to read this guest blog get a basic idea of the inhumanity being or about to be forced upon Susan and her peers.  By people who should know better,  people blinded by greed and profit in the Cornelius and co world of profits before people, and read my short summary below, sign our petition just click on the link, join our campaign and attend out public meeting. Start the fight back for democratic rights in Barnet by supporting right away and urgently  these innocent  folk, that it would appear in the eyes of Cornelius and co accompanied by their lap dog officers have no rights, at all.
A Message from Susan and her peers
We appeal on our own behalf and on behalf of some of the clients parents carers and staff of Your Choice Barnet phase one  of the One Barnet Programme, a company launched on a business model  that  Mickey Mouse would have seen holes in. A company launched on dishonesty so deceitfully  given the name Your Choice, when those affected were offered no Choice, where consultation with clients and staff is claimed yet none took place.
Your Choice after just one year is a financial car crash,  it has had to borrow one million pounds to stay afloat.  The only way that money can be paid back, is by demanding the maximum per client from central government whilst providing minimum services for us clients. Furthermore by destroying the working conditions and cutting  the pay of staff,  special people who have given love and support to this vulnerable group in Barnet for many years, are to be demotivated and trampled under foot and eventually replaced by cheap labour to the detriment of service quality and quality of life for clients. But the problem is it will not work things will get worse, Your Choice is in a hole and they just keep digging.
When this financial disaster was launched Barnet council undertook that in the unlikely event of  financial collapse they would return the services back in-house, they are breaking that undertaking by arrogantly  launching  a plan B business model that is as weak as the plan A model that has resulted in all of this debt.

Can we plead with you all to sign our petition and get your friends to do the same, and demand that Your Choice services be brought back in-house where they belong ,so vulnerable people  human beings  like us with feelings can be protected and not bartered as  commodities in the market place of greed . We are being offered " More Captivity" at home rather than the More Out in the Community Activity we were assured privatisation would bring.

Please sign our petition attend our meeting and join our  " Bring Your Choice Services Back - In House Campaign" = Http://

Thank you
PP Susan Sullivan and her peers

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Sullivan is a parent carer for his daughter Susan. Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye.

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