Monday, 23 September 2013

Only two weeks in and One Barnet is already starting to unravel

The Capita takeover of the London Borough of Barnet officially started on the 1st September. The Barnet Eye has long predicted that this mega project was badly thought out and that the alleged brave new world was likely to prove as realistic as Paulo Di Canio's plans for world domination with Sunderland FC. The key question for those of us who have keenly watched this process was how long these cracks would take to appear.

Well even a hardened One Barnet skeptic such as myself was shocked to find that the first legal challenge to the new arrangements has already been issued. Barnet Council have been using the bailiff firms Newlyn Collections Services Ltd and Phoenix Commercial Collections Ltd as debt collectors, under legally authorised contracts. It appears that under the One Barnet contract, their services have been dispensed with and Capita are now using their own bailiff services (Equita).  The companies affected have responded with a solicitors letter.

The letter also draws attention to the conflict of interest, as Capita are responsible for managing revenue collection, so they have a vested interest in calling in bailiffs at the earliest possible moment

Barnet Council cannot ignore this as it has been sent to every Barnet Councillor. Given the number of emails Barnet Councillors have received from bloggers warning of such issues, their must be a sick feeling in the pit of many of their stomachs. We warned all along that there would be conflicts of interest, handing the responsibility for commissioning of services to a company which also provides many of these services.

Barnet Council has published the One Barnet contract on its website. The Barnet Eye (unlike many Barnet Councillors) read this a while ago, having received a copy through our usual channels. We have noted many issues within the contract which are likely to cause all manner of "issues".

What we can say for certain is that every single one of the 2,000 odd pages has been found agreeable by lawyers working for Capita whos job is to ensure that Capita get the best possible deal and also been reviewed by lawyers for the London Borough of Barnet, who's brief was to get this political hot potato signed off as quickly as possible. Expect more of the same as people and suppliers wake up to what is going on.

Many thanks to Mr Reasonable who highliughted these problems on his excellent blog

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