Thursday, 7 November 2013

Barnet Council £16.1 Million Gift to Capita - Time for Councillor Hugh Rayner to resign?

Regulare readers of the Barnet Eye will be familiar with the story we broke in August detailing how Barnet Council had given Capita a bung of £16.1 million as a sweetener to take over the running of Barnet Council. This was the value of assets owned by Barnet Taxpayers and transferred to Capita PLC,  a private contractor who signed two mega contracts with Barnet Council recently. The £16.1 million was not part of the contract, it was snuck through as a DPR (ie with no democratic oversight and without a decison by the council) after the event.

When the Barnet Eye discovered what happened we emailed every Barnet Councillor to demand action. The person we expected to step in was Councillor Hugh Rayner, the Conservative chairman of the Business Management Overview and Scrutiny committee. It is his job to ensure that all financial decisions concerning business decisions at Barnet Council have proper oversight. He gets a whopping great allowance for chairing this committee. Given what had happened, Councillor Rayner should have immediately investigated the transfer with his committee. If the transfer was above board and there was some justification which the Barnet Eye was unaware of, he should have told us. We have heard nothing from Councillor Rayner and nothing from his committee which means one of three things.

a) He investigated and found a clean bill of health on the transfer, but simply couldn't be bothered to respond to our email. This is extreme bad manners, but can be recitified with an email now, which we will publish.

b) He investigated and found that the transfer did not follow rules. In this case, his committee should do its job and call the cabinet to account. A paper should be published detailing the issues and the rectifications. No such action has been taken.

c) He did nothing and ignored the concerns of the Barnet Eye,despite the huge financial implications for the council.

If options a) or b) are the case, then Councillor Rayner can rectify the matter easily, by emailing us with details. If option c) is the case, Mr Rayner has derelicted his duty and should resign, giving his allowance to someone who will do the job properly. Mr Rayner has pointedly refused to answer the question in two emails this week. He now has the opportunity to set the record straight. Over to you councillor Rayner. You believe the scrutiny committe provides robust democratic oversight. Prove it.

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