Wednesday 14 July 2021

London Borough of Barnet Capita contract renewal consultation

Last night I attended a focus group to give feedback on the performance of @CapitaPlc in @Barnetcouncil with @Brokenbarnet and @ReasonableNB amongst others.  It is fair to say that our group were what could be described as Capita sceptics. I missed the first 20 odd minutes as I had it problems. When I joined, it was clear that there had been a rather interesting discussion on the whole matter. The focus group was being consulted as the Council's contract with Capitais being reviewed with a view to renewal. From last nights meeting there were three main takeaways for me 

The first of these is that if this scheme had worked, the @BarnetTories  would be crowing about it - click the link and see if you can find a mention. Their silence is deafening. Where are the benefits? Where are the real savings? If you had a flagship policy, which One Barnet and the Capita contract was, after six years, you should have something to shout about. 

The second is that local people have lost all faith in vital Capita Plc run services such as planning and regulation to work for their benefit. Council tax paying residents are the last consideration when developers can make cash and there are fees for the Council/Capita. I have had untold conversations with people who have problems and simply feel ignored.

The third is that the potential for conflicts of interest are there for all to see in the way Barnet is being run. The list of grey areas is seemingly endless. When a private company benefits from fees for planning applications, surely overdeveloment is inevitable? Back in 2011, Dr Julia Hines wrote a guest blog on this subject. It is worth reading. More or less every concern Julia listed, as well as many she didn't, have come to pass. Julia said "
What about the situation where a planning officer is headhunted from Company X by another company who wants to develop in Barnet? Employment terms restricting where someone can work are very narrow and notoriously difficult to enforce."
This very point was raised once again last night, ten years later. We have seen it happen time and time again. Theresa Musgrove mentioned that there is a local planning consultancy that boasts it's employees are all ex Barnet employees. 

What puzzles me is that the public elect the council and the council make these policies. Does anyone seriously believe we've elected a council that is concerned for ordinary Barnet residents. If a developer buys the three homes next door to you, plans a monstrosity that is totally out of character and ignores the existing street scene and style, do you expect them to be refused planning permission. In 2002, I was refused permission for a loft conversion, as this would change the street scene (my house backs on to the M1). Does anyone think the council cares about street scene anymore? Does anyone think that if you object to a monstrous carbuncle anyone will listen anymore? IF you do you are bonkers, because planning is now simply about raising money through fees for the council. It is a lucrative business and Capita get a generous cut of the profits from these fees. What could possibly go wrong.

When I got on the call, I was frustrated. I went off on one, boring the pants of the other poor souls on the call. The reason? I'd recently been up to the Hendon Cemetary, run by Capita, to see the graves of my parents. I was horrified. There will be a seperate blog on this matter soon. As a taster, here is what the recent contract review report said
Further review – 
Cemetery and Crematorium 
2.38 The service has performed well throughout the life of the contract and has clearly benefited from the commercial freedoms of being delivered by a third party. The service has been particularly impacted by the pandemic over the last year, but successfully operated a safe and secure service throughout the periods of peak demand. 
2.39 However, this is not a core service for Capita and is the only cemetery and crematorium they run. Whilst this does not present any immediate issues of concern, the potential for them to add further value to the development of the service over the medium-term may be limited.
The cemetery has gone to rack and ruin. Gravestones have fallen over, area's are overgrown, the whole site looks neglected. I made a short film in 2018, it has got worse. My Dad was a WW2 bomber pilot. I feel like I've failed him whenever I see his final resting place. Is that really how we want our loved ones to be remembered. It doesn't have to be like this. Take a little trip up the road to the Mill Hill Cemetery, run by Westminster Council, on Milespit Hill and compare the difference.  Capita's neglect of Hendon Cemetery sums up their attitude. Unless you think the final resting place of our loved ones is unimportant.

1 comment:

radfax said...

It is disgusting that councils and politicians run rough shod over the peoples needs and wishes, it is even worse that their unconstitutional actions against the people and property are aided by a police force that is not policing by consent.
The councils, the country over do not and are not listening to the people
This has to change.
Councils cannot be allowed to be complacent in facilitating their residents wishes and needs, and cannot remain complicit with others acting against the wishes and benefits of the people.