We've loaded it up onto our blog for your perusal. I must confess that reading this document is profoundly depressing. We live in what is perhaps Londons wealthiest Borough, at a time when the UK Economy is growing faster than the USA. Please have a look at the challenges facing us. Below I will give my commentary
Risk 1. Homelessness in Barnet. The council concedes that this is set to rise. I work with a Homeless charity as a volunteer. I was disturbed to read the causes that the Council think cause homelessness. Although the reasons they list are factors, they completely misunderstand the main causes. There is no mention of family breakdown, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse and migration issues are the main causes in Barnet. The fact that the council mentions none of these mean that the action plan they are developing is doomed to failure. I am shocked that the Council clearly haven't got a clue about the issue.
Risk 2. Waste management and sustainability. It is clear from the risk register that this has been allowed to get out of control and we are likely to have to see Council tax rises to deal with this mismanagement. The register states "Procuring value for money waste disposal and managing waste collection services both need to be considered in order to ensure quality services at an affordable price delivering optimum customer satisfaction." Now lets get this straight. The Tories have been running Barnet for eleven years, yet they have not considered sorting this out until now? This is truly scandalous. This is a truly horrendous admission by the Council.
Risk 3. Demographic Change and Population growth. The council has admitted that it is unprepared for population growth, despite having a corporate plan to increase the population of Barnet from 320,000 to 380,000. They are the people who have approved the Brent Cross, Stonegrove, Colindale, Mill Hill East etc developments and now they say they are unprepared for the consequences. This is scandalously incompetent.
Risk 4. Welfare and Benefit reform. What's this? Barnets Tory Council have admitted that the coalition policies are ill thought out and cause "unintended consequences". In the councils own words "Consequence: potential to negatively affect those economically disadvantaged within the community." I suppose it is good that the Tories in the Town Hall acknowledge that the Tories in Whitehall are dangerous to our community. The Good Lord only knows why the Labour Party in the Town hall have not mentioned this?
Risk 5. People. I had to chuckle when I saw this title. I though Barnet Council must be the only Council in the world which views people as a risk? What do they want? Daleks? Actually the risk is that they've got rid of all the people in the Council who know what they are doing, as a consequence of the One Barnet program. Now they have realised that they are up Le Creek de la Merde and they have mislaid the paddle. In their own words "Consequence: The consequence of failure in this respect and the escalation of risk will be a skills/knowledge/competence gap in the organisation that will result in poorer service performance in the medium term and/or longer term strategic failure."
Risk 6. Financial Position. It is clear that the council do not understand economics or maths. The narrative says "Demographic changes mean that the Council faces a growing population, an ageing population and increasing numbers of young people, which adds further to the pressure and demand on services." Firstly the population growth has been driven by their own planning policies. They were the ones with the grand masterplans to add 60,000 new residents. This growth is almost exclusively going to be made up of immigrants of working age and their children. All of the new rabbit hutch flats being thrown up around the Borough are not being put up for Barnet residents. There is no baby boom in Barnet, so it is clear that this population growth will be one fuelled by migratory labour. They are not council houses for local people. I am not anti immigration in the way UKIP are. The prosperity of the UK is built on immigration. The trouble is that Barnet Council have not understood the consequences of their plans. Mike Freer and Richard Cornelius are the men who have presided over this planning failure. It is entirely the responsibility of the political Leadership of Barnet Council.
Risk 7. Information Management. This is incredible. The Council admits it doesn't understand the data it holds or its sensitivity. It says "Cause: Variable accessibility and quality of data means we don’t know what information we hold, its value or sensitivity. " What does it plan to do about this? "Beginning to understand data sources and constraints on them". It is incredible that the Council can admit that it has only just identified the fact that it doesn't understand the data it holds and is only now beginning to try and get to grips with it".
Risk 8. Barnets position as a prosperous suburb. This is a truly incredible admission from the Conservatives after eleven years of mismanagement. They now admit that they have placed our prosperity at risk. The consequences of their policies? "Consequence: Barnet becomes less desirable as a place to live and work "
All of the above risks are High or Medium High. The Conservatives have been in charge for eleven years and this is where their policies have brought us.
There is one further risk, which is "Medium Low",
Risk 9. Resident engagement. What does this mean? "Consequence: Consultations not contributing to service design, do not deliver the services resident want, lack of transparency on outcomes, customer satisfaction declines. " In effect, after five years of writing this blog, Barnet Council has admitted that we are right, they have failed to engage and consult residents properly. The reason we held the "Your Choice Barnet Week" was to highlight the fact that the Council weren't listening. If nothing else, at least they have admitted it.
What is interesting is the fact that there is not a single issue that this blog hasn't raised at length. I will be emailing this commentary to our local councillors for comment. As I said at the start of this blog, I am disturbed by this. In the past, my team of lovable Trolls have pointed out that a "risk register is only a document to identify what might happen". As far as I am concerned, if the risk is "High" or "Medium High". Of these nine risks, one is "almost certain", two are "likely" and the rest are "possible" (whatever that means). Note that Possible is not unlikely. I believe that there should be a full public consultation to try and sort out what has gone wrong. To me, this document is a tale of corporate failure and mismanagement. If you are a Barnet resident, please read this document. The council have clearly released it during the holiday season to try and make sure we didn't see it whilst the mulled wine and mince pies were doing their work. Of course they failed to recognise the fact that when people are off work, they have more time to read blogs !