Barnet's Conservative councillors have refused to hold in public all review meetings of the Re Ltd joint venture between Barnet council and Capita that delivers planning and regulatory services, including highways and footways.
The £165m ten year contract with Re Ltd is up for its first review this year (year 4 of the contract), and councillors discussed the review arrangements at this week's Performance & Contract Management committee (PCM, 5 Jan).
Labour councillors proposed holding all the review meetings in public, with any items deemed confidential discussed below the line in private using normal committee procedure, but this was rejected by the Conservatives who decided only one public evidence session would take place.
Labour councillors did, however, manage to secure agreement that representatives from Re. Ltd would attend review meetings and be questioned directly by councillors on performance of the services they operate on behalf of the council. This did not happen during the recent review of the first Capita 'Customer & Support Group' contract, despite Labour councillors calling for it.
The review will take place over the next few months with final findings and recommendations scheduled for the PCM committee meeting in July.
Re. Ltd delivers all the council's development and regulatory services including planning, building control, environmental health and highways.
Labour's Performance & Contract Management spokesperson, Cllr Geof Cooke said:
"We believe that the review of critical front facing services like planning and highways which cost millions of council tax-payers' money should be open and transparent to members of the public.
"The Conservatives continue to want to hide behind closed doors and discuss it all in private. Experience from the first Capita contract review last year tells me this is purely so Tory councillors feel free to complain about the contractor without attracting criticism from the public for signing the contract in the first place.
"It just demonstrates a total lack of accountability or a willingness to be open.
"Labour will be holding our own public meeting asking for evidence from local residents so we can feed their comments in to these review meetings - details will be announced shortly."
1. A copy of the report on the Re. Ltd contract review at PCM can be found here (Agenda Item 10):
2. More information on Re. Ltd:
For more information contact Cllr Cooke: firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568