Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Barnet Procurement Scandal - Labour group to push for answers

Last week I revealed details of how Barnet Council is spending over £2 million a year on services with suppliers who it refuses to name as the information is "personal". Such things as consultancy, professional services and organising conferences are being provided by such organisations. This means that the public have no proper audit trail. I have received several emailed responses. Disgraced criminal Councillor Brian Coleman emailed me to tell me that he is not interested and doesn't want me to tell him about anything at the council where he could improve the lot of his constituents. Fortunately I've had a rather more mature response from the Labour group, here is Cllr Alison Moore's response. Lets hope that we get some proper answers. I am a little disappointed that there has been no response from the audit committee thus far.


Dear Roger,
Thankyou for your email. I can confirm that I have received and read it, and will of course be asking for an explanation for redaction.
Alison Moore

From: Rog T
Sent: 20 July 2013 12:31
To: Derek Dishman; Brodkin, Cllr Alex; Campbell, Cllr Anita; Cornelius, Cllr Alison; Mittra, Cllr Arjun; Strongolou, Cllr Andrew; Tambourides, Cllr Andreas; Coleman, Cllr Brian; Evangeli, Cllr Barry; Gordon, Cllr Brian; Salinger, Cllr Brian; Schama, Cllr Brian; OMacauley, Cllr Charlie; Rogers, Cllr Colin; Salinger, Cllr Catherine; Cohen, Cllr Dean; Seal, Cllr Daniel; Yawitch, Cllr Darrel; Greenspan, Cllr Eva; Cooke, Cllr Geoffrey; Johnson, Cllr Geoffrey; Old, Cllr Graham; Sargeant, Cllr Gill; Rayner, Cllr Hugh; Hart, Cllr John; Johnson, Cllr Julie; Tambourides, Cllr Joanna; Tierney, Cllr Jim; McGuirk, Cllr Kathy; Rutter, Cllr Lisa; Braun, Cllr Maureen; Shooter, Cllr Mark; Houston, Cllr Ross; Thompstone, Cllr Reuben; QuigleyTurner, Cllr Rowan; Khatri, Cllr Sury; Rajput, Cllr Sachin; Sowerby, Cllr Stephen; Zubairi, Cllr Zakia; Ioannidis, Cllr Andreas; Finn, Cllr Anthony; Hart, Cllr Helena; Prentice, Cllr Wendy; Harper, Cllr Andrew; Hutton, Cllr Anne; Moore, Cllr Alison; Schneiderman, Cllr Alan; Slocombe, Cllr Agnes; Sodha, Cllr Ansuya; Perry, Cllr Bridget; Rawlings, Cllr Barry; Farrier, Cllr Claire; Longstaff, Cllr David; Thomas, Cllr Daniel; Cohen, Cllr Jack; Marshall, Cllr John; Scannell, Cllr Joan; Cohen, Cllr Melvin; Palmer, Cllr Monroe; CoakleyWebb, Cllr Pauline; Cornelius, Cllr Richard; Rams, Cllr Robert; Palmer, Cllr Susette; Davey, Cllr Tom
Cc: Travers, Andrew
Subject: Urgent - Barnet Council spending over £1 million a year with undisclosed service providers

Dear Barnet Councillor,
It has been brought to my attention that Barnet Council is spending over £1 million per annum with suppliers who it refuses to reveal the name of as it is "personal data".  Now whilst some of these, there are clearly good reasons for redacting, such as insurance payouts to private citizens, I can see no justification for withholding the name of companies providing services such as training, consultancy or professional services. In fact the very definition of "professional services" defines it as a business arrangement.
It strikes me as disturbing that Barnet Council is seemingly using such redaction to avoid transparency. Please review the list of payments below, available from the council website at the following URL - http://www.barnet.gov.uk/downloads/download/786/expenditure_over_500_2012-13 -  and see whether you agree that taxpayers money should be spent in this manner with this lack of transparency. I am of the opinion that it is impossible for the Council Taxpayer of Barnet to receive value for money when so much money and so many services are clearly being provided by companies and providers who are unwilling to disclose their details. I can think of no justification at all for withholding the details of companies providing professional services to Barnet Council, being funded by the taxpayer in this manner.
I expect the CEO of Barnet, Mr Andrew Travers, to review this situation as a matter of urgency and insist that unless there is a clear case of risk of identification of a vulnerable individual in Barnet, then the payment details must be disclosed. Furthermore, I call on the Audit committee to instruct the head of Audit to immediately investigate these payments and provide a clear and concise explanation of what is going on here.
It is the duty of councillors to ensure taxpayers money is well spent. With such a lack of transparency, I am sure that you will be alarmed to see these figures. I have requested a read receipt. I will be publishing details of all councillors who delete this email unread. I would also request a response to confirm that you have received this email and whether you agree that this is a matter of concern to you.
I have copied the CEO, Mr Andrew Travers into this email, as one would assume he should also share my concerns.
Roger Tichborne

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