'One Barnet' and the West Coast main line fiasco

The Government has been forced to abandon its award of the West Coast Mainline rail franchise to First Group in preference to Virgin and now it must re-run the process. Ministers kept on saying that everything was in order right up to the point that they admitted it was deeply flawed, 3 officials would be suspended and it would cost taxpayers at least £40million. The Department for Transport is experienced in running tender processes of this type and size but still they got it horribly wrong.

So what does this tell us about the risks that Barnet Council is running with its £1billion One Barnet outsourcing? What Barnet is proposing to do is unprecedented and it would pose a huge risk even if the people involved had a successful track record in outsourcing. But Barnet’s record is littered with failures in both procurement and contract monitoring. Improvements have been made but competence and capacity have not been demonstrated over a sustained period.

Recently there has been confusion in the ‘competitive dialogue’ phase of the outsourcing process with a senior officer telling staff that a Joint Venture is the preferred employer to which their jobs should be transferred and the leader of the Council saying he is far from convinced. The fact is that despite spending a fortune upfront on consultants the Council gives every impression of being way out of its depth.

The bidding companies on the other hand are very experienced at maximising the profits and minimising the risks for their shareholders. And if the outsource fails, as many in local government have, the ultimate risk is carried by the Council and its residents whatever the contract says. I cannot see any government of any colour bailing out Barnet with extra grant if losses are made and the Council leader has said he has no contingency plan if things go wrong. Confidence is not increased by the proposal that the Council would rely on the suppliers to monitor their own performance with the Council retaining only a ‘thin client’ capability.

Along with the risk to services and residents’ pockets go setbacks in transparency (because of commercial confidentiality) and accountability (uncertainty about who is responsible and reduction in ability of elected councillors to represent residents). Also there are concerns about auditability of outsourced services even if contracts allow the Council to send in auditors.

One Barnet is the opposite of its name – it aims to fragment public services between different private suppliers and to export jobs from the borough. It is driven not by a pragmatic wish to do the best for Barnet residents but by an extreme ideological view held by the ruling faction in the Conservative group of councillors. That is why alternatives have been excluded without consideration and why there is growing concern among Barnet residents. It is not too late for wiser counsel to prevail in the controlling group of councillors. The alternative is a very un-conservative gamble with Barnet’s money and public services.

We need people to sign the petition for a referendum on 'One Barnet', keep sharing the campaign, and keep lobbying your local councillors.

Cllr Geof Cooke, Woodhouse ward

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@MaggiMyland tweeted link to this page. 2012-10-10 08:41:45 +0100
'One Barnet' and the West Coast main line fiasco http://t.co/SZbb4HUo
@ tweeted link to this page. 2012-10-08 21:58:13 +0100
'One Barnet' and the West Coast main line fiasco http://t.co/SZbb4HUo
@Steve_Elsey tweeted link to this page. 2012-10-07 11:03:37 +0100
#OneBarnet and the West Coast main line fiasco - read Geof Cooke on the risks here and then take action! http://t.co/VWqKw33q
@staffsunison tweeted link to this page. 2012-10-07 08:22:12 +0100
#OneBarnet and the West Coast main line fiasco - read Geof Cooke on the risks here and then take action! http://t.co/VWqKw33q
@barnet_unison tweeted link to this page. 2012-10-07 07:27:21 +0100
#OneBarnet and the West Coast main line fiasco - read Geof Cooke on the risks here and then take action! http://t.co/VWqKw33q
@barnet_unison tweeted link to this page. 2012-10-07 00:07:58 +0100
Cllr Geof Cooke: 'One Barnet' and the West Coast main line fiasco http://t.co/83Gn3LNb < Labour Party's 'Better Barnet' blog #Barnetblogs
@vickim57 tweeted link to this page. 2012-10-06 12:41:04 +0100
Cllr Geof Cooke: 'One Barnet' and the West Coast main line fiasco http://t.co/83Gn3LNb < Labour Party's 'Better Barnet' blog #Barnetblogs
@pjed440 mentioned @BetterBarnet link to this page. 2012-10-05 21:45:41 +0100
'One Barnet' and the West Coast main line fiasco http://t.co/vEkY2TZT via @BetterBarnet
@MaggiMyland tweeted link to this page. 2012-10-03 22:52:01 +0100
Geof Cooke's take- 'One Barnet' and the West Coast main line fiasco http://t.co/SZbb4HUo via @BetterBarnet
@MaggiMyland tweeted link to this page. 2012-10-03 22:51:44 +0100
#OneBarnet and the West Coast main line fiasco - check out Geof Cooke's blog and spread the word! http://t.co/uyPBELEM via @BetterBarnet
@MaggiMyland retweeted @BetterBarnet 2012-10-03 22:51:33 +0100
#OneBarnet and the West Coast main line fiasco - read Geof Cooke on the risks here and then take action! http://betterbarnet.nationbuilder.com/_one_barnet_and_the_west_coast_main_line_fiasco?recruiter_id=3
@MaggiMyland tweeted link to this page. 2012-10-03 22:51:33 +0100
#OneBarnet and the West Coast main line fiasco - read Geof Cooke on the risks here and then take action! http://t.co/VWqKw33q
@ mentioned @BetterBarnet link to this page. 2012-10-03 21:57:14 +0100
Geof Cooke's take- 'One Barnet' and the West Coast main line fiasco http://t.co/SZbb4HUo via @BetterBarnet
@AlizonMoore retweeted @BetterBarnet 2012-10-03 19:26:23 +0100
#OneBarnet and the West Coast main line fiasco - read Geof Cooke on the risks here and then take action! http://betterbarnet.nationbuilder.com/_one_barnet_and_the_west_coast_main_line_fiasco?recruiter_id=3
@AlizonMoore tweeted link to this page. 2012-10-03 19:26:23 +0100
#OneBarnet and the West Coast main line fiasco - read Geof Cooke on the risks here and then take action! http://t.co/VWqKw33q
@kimmyl30 retweeted @BetterBarnet 2012-10-03 18:54:57 +0100
#OneBarnet and the West Coast main line fiasco - read Geof Cooke on the risks here and then take action! http://betterbarnet.nationbuilder.com/_one_barnet_and_the_west_coast_main_line_fiasco?recruiter_id=3
@kimmyl30 tweeted link to this page. 2012-10-03 18:54:57 +0100
#OneBarnet and the West Coast main line fiasco - read Geof Cooke on the risks here and then take action! http://t.co/VWqKw33q
@ retweeted @BetterBarnet 2012-10-03 18:48:58 +0100
#OneBarnet and the West Coast main line fiasco - read Geof Cooke on the risks here and then take action! http://betterbarnet.nationbuilder.com/_one_barnet_and_the_west_coast_main_line_fiasco?recruiter_id=3
@ tweeted link to this page. 2012-10-03 18:48:58 +0100
#OneBarnet and the West Coast main line fiasco - read Geof Cooke on the risks here and then take action! http://t.co/VWqKw33q
@BarnetLabour mentioned @BetterBarnet link to this page. 2012-10-03 18:46:16 +0100
#OneBarnet and the West Coast main line fiasco - check out Geof Cooke's blog and spread the word! http://t.co/uyPBELEM via @BetterBarnet
@BetterBarnet tweeted link to this page. 2012-10-03 18:43:21 +0100
#OneBarnet and the West Coast main line fiasco - read Geof Cooke on the risks here and then take action! http://t.co/VWqKw33q
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