Tuesday, 10 May 2016

So who is really to blame for the Barnet election omnishambles

Asleep at the wheel. Travers in a Council meeting
  So Andrew Travers has left Barnet Council due to the Omnishambles at the Mayoral elections. It was inevitable and I for one will not be sad to see the back of Mr Travers. Not because he was a nasty bloke, he was always polite to me and he never had the arrogant tone of his predecessor Nick Walkley. It is however necessary to establish the principle of where the buck stops and as CEO he had to take responsibility.

Travers tries to stay awake as Mrs Angry questions him

But the question has to be asked, who is really to blame. The CEO executes policy, the political leadership sets it. The truth is that the Tory Leadership of Richard Cornelius and Dan Thomas are the ones who have instructed Travers to indulge in a massive cost cutting and staff outsourcing process. The claim from the Tories is that the department of the Council which organises elections is still in house. This is a massive distortion. The council reliese on the IT services of Capita and the legal services of Harrow Council.

Travers and his boss, Richard Cornelius
In previous years all of these people would
sit together. It was a simple matter to walk up and check things. People were in the same building and meetings could easliy be pulled together. In the modern world, putting together an election is a complex issue, with multiple departments engaged. As they happen at irregular intervals, havings taff who have been around for a few years is a necessity. Sadly there has been huge cost cutting and such departments have lost dozens of key staff. The concept from the Tories is that you simply hire in temporary staff.

Travers with the MAyor of Barnet
Sadly this has been shown to be a flawed strategy. The expertise on how to run an election has been lost. Of course it is cheaper simply to hire in a few temps for a few weeks, but if you have no one around with experience at a senior level of running the show, accidents happen. In this case the accident was a spectacular failure that has put the Council on the front page of the papers and on the TV news.

What is needed is a proper, independent inquiry. An inquiry that doesn't just look at whether the problem was down to Mr T or Mrs X. The question has to be asked whether the way Richard Cornelius and Dan Thomas are running the council is fundamentally flawed and accident prone. Their administration has brought shame onto our borough and we've become a laughing stock.

Even more worrying is the fact that one of our MP's rather than standing up for his constituents, is the subject of a police enquiry following an alleged public order offence at his office.

In Barnet we have a long history of sending the monkey off for bushmeat, whilst the organgrinder plays on, in an ever more erratic and dodgy fashion. In the period since 2008, dozens of council officers have left the council with payoffs and non disclosure agreements, following cock ups and "in house" whitewash enquiries. All officially leave "by mutual consent".the Tory leadership stumbles from one crisis to the next. The people of Barnet get ever worse services. The sad truth about council services is that most of us don't use them most of the time. Usually it is just the elderly, the disabled and the vulnerable who suffer. The rest of us vote for tax cuts of 20p a week, and sit back in our comfy homes. The election omnishambles is unusual because everyone suffered. But don't forget, this is  a council that was forced to hand back millions in fees for parking permits because the Tory policy of milking the taxpayer was deemed illegal. Who "left by mutual consent" then? In fact I can only recall two Tories getting the boot from official positions. The first was former Councillor Kate Salinger, who got kicked off her role as on an important committee because she refused to vote for a payrise for her Tory mates, thinking it immoral in a time of austerity. The other was Brian Coleman, following his arrest for assaulting a woman in the street. Even then Coleman was only sacked when the Tory HQ intervened and forced the hand of the local party. Of course there will simply be aanother whitewash and in a few months, we'll all be writing outraged blogs at the next cock up and demanding yet anther inquiry (we've had one or two a year since this blog started). It really is shameful.


John S said...

And othe local Labour group that have been in virtual coalition with the catalogue of Cornelius cock ups, deafen us all with to heir silence on the subject.

Anonymous said...

Roger it is simply not good enough that senior officers are being payed to keep quiet about cock ups costing us the tax payer huge amounts of money ? Is it Legal ??? Could it be that they are being payed off to keep there mouths shut about corruption? Who knows But We Should!!! Maybe a Locally run public inquiry could take place run by us the tax payers & interested parties to what is being done in our magnificent borough of ours ?