Category Archives: Public Services

#Bingate

100% of Barnet UNISON Bin workers agree new round changes have failed Barnet residents

Earlier this week the Leader of Barnet Council made the following public apology:

As a result of the apology Barnet UNISON initiated an emergency ballot of the views of our Bin worker members.

Barnet Bin workers were asked this question:

“Do you think the new round restructure is a success?”

100% of Barnet UNISON Bin workers balloted agreed the new round changes have failed Barnet residents.

Here are some of their comments:

“Simply the rounds are too big, with the addition of flats and restricted access and the result in not finishing within allocated time”

“Too big, too much work and too many Lorries in one road”

“Residents confused, rounds too big to complete, management gave us new rounds without even consulting with us”

“No leadership, no management, no consultation, no hope”

“Too much work, not put out in order for new structure too work, utter chaos”

Before 4th November 2018 all rounds were completed with very few complaints from residents

Since 4th November 2018 a large number of rounds are not being completed within allocated time, leaving bins uncollected, 1000’s of complaints from residents.

On Wednesday 28 November 2018, the Environment Committee were informed that as a result of the Bin changes the Council were paying between £15-20k in overtime per week simply to try and catch up with missed bin collections.

Could this have been avoided?

Yes, Barnet UNISON had flagged up 49 questions provided by our Bin worker members on 5 October 2018, four weeks before the launch of the new service.

Read here http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2018/10/05/waste-recycling-round-restructure-questions/

Barnet UNISON received no responses to these questions.

Barnet UNISON can only conclude that the Council were confident that our serious and fundamental questions (from the workforce) were already addressed in their proposed new Bin service.

For the last four weeks Barnet UNISON has listened to anecdotal feedback from our members and read the comments made by the public about #Bingate.

Something is fundamentally wrong with the Bin changes. The workforce are working long hours to try and catch up but it is simply not enough. There are only four weeks to Christmas a time where there is always an increase in refuse and recycling.

Campaign Launch: Britain is broken: We can’t afford the Tories

Speakers: Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP, Lindsey German – People’s Assembly, Faiza Shaheen – Director of the centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS) Alex Kenny – NEU executive member

Special performace by Potent Whisper – Plus an update fron McDonalds, TGI Friday and Uber Strikers

Why we need this campaign:

Austerity isn’t over. In fact it’s getting worse~and it’s about to get much worse.
The UK economy has just undergone it’s worst decade for economic growth since the late 19th century. Working people’s incomes have just undergone their sharpest decline since Charles Dickens was writing Hard Times.

And it’s not just that life is getting harder either. It’s actually getting shorter. Austerity has now had such an impact that life expectancy is in decline. Perhaps that shouldn’t surprise us since Britain’s pensioners are the worst off in Europe.

Nor is it just the old who are suffering. So are the NHS patients. Since the Tories came to power in 2010 there has been a 665 percent (yes, Six Hundred and Sixty-five percent) increase in those waiting over 4 hours to see a doctor in Accident and Emergency wards.

Even the police, usually immune to Tory cuts, have lost 23,000 officers. And while there are fewer police on the streets there are a record number of homeless on the streets as the figures for rough sleeping peak again.

Schools are without basic equipment, and being ripped off by private corporations. The rail system is a privatised and hyper-expensive shambles.

Record numbers of young people cannot afford to buy a roof to go over their head, leaving them prey to rack-renting private landlords.

There is a very great danger in all of this, even beyond the damage that is being done to the ability of working people to have a decent and secure life.

It is this: the cuts have been going on so long that we don’t realise that the country has reached a tipping point.

Services were already threadbare. But now huge holes are opening up right across the fabric of society.

And through those gaps pour the populist right and the racist thugs.

We cannot let this go on. The Tories are too divided, too shambolic, too removed from the lives of ordinary citizens to know or care what needs to be done. This government-in-name-only must go.

We have already paid too much and too long. We are broke. And the Tories need to be out of office before any more damage is done.

Please help us make this launch as big as possible. Following the launch we will embark on a national speaking tour and build for a National mass mobilisation in spring 2019.

Barnet Tories ask residents to pay for cracked pavements as council cuts bite

Barnet’s Conservative councillors are proposing a new ‘service’ to enable residents and businesses to pay for replacing cracked paving stones that the Council won’t repair because they “don’t reach the criteria that warrant replacement from the Highways department”.

A motion has been submitted to next week’s Full Council meeting (30 October) by Conservative councillor, David Longstaff, calling for the Environment Committee to “develop proposals to make this service available to all residents and businesses”. He is calling the new service ‘Right to Buy’.

At the beginning of this financial year Barnet Council identified an unforeseen budget gap of £62m leading up to 2024/25 which had emerged out of the blue.

The Conservative-run Council introduced a new policy of resurfacing most residential street pavements with tarmac rather than paving stones in July 2016 in order to save money on reactive footway repairs. The tarmac pavement resurfacing has proved unpopular with many local residents.

Barnet Labour’s Environment spokesperson, Cllr Alan Schneiderman said:

“”This is another unbelieveable crackpot scheme from the Barnet Tories – why should we have the ‘right to buy’ our pavements. The Tories have made a mess of the Council’s finances and now want residents to pay the price. Many of Barnet’s pavements and roads are in a poor state of repair and now it’s clear they will only be fixed if you can afford to pay. Residents deserve safe pavements to walk on and not another Tory stealth tax, with the likelihood of more similar charges to follow.”

Full Council: 30 October 2018

Administration motion in the name of Cllr David Longstaff

Right to Buy

Council notes that some cracked paving stones don’t reach the criteria that warrant replacement from the Highways department, but are unsightly.

Council supports residents and businesses who wish to pay for our term contractor to replace cracked paving stones on a like-for-like basis.

Council requests that the Environment Committee develop proposals to make this service available to all residents and businesses.

2. Details of the footway tarmac policy (Agenda Item 12): http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=695&MId=8634&Ver=4

An open meeting of #KickOutCapita campaign and BAPS

With John Dix aka Mr Reasonable to explain and discuss the implications of the Grant Thornton report will be held on:

Tuesday 2 October 6.30 pm at the Greek Cypriot Centre, 2 Britannia Rd N12 9RU

Read the Grant Thornton auditors’ report and judge for yourself whether – after near bankrupting the council’s finances through their ideological choice of extreme outsourcing, with the results that are pointed out in this report – we shouldn’t expect some resignations or some heads to roll. We should think that at least Cllr Richard Cornelius and his deputy Cllr Daniel Thomas if not all the Conservative councillors who oversaw this shambles should resign if they have an ounce of integrity between them! Do Tory councillors have any integrity at all?

Barnet Labour call for termination of Capita contracts after fraud report suggests breach of contract

Following today’s publication of the audit report on the £2m Capita fraud case, Barnet Labour are calling for the termination of both Capita contracts with Barnet Council (CSG and Re Ltd).

They are also calling for the Leader of the Council, Cllr Richard Cornelius, and his Deputy Leader Cllr Dan Thomas to resign.

The damning report reveals major failings in financial controls within Capita that allowed the fraud to take place and have serious implications for the future of the Council.

The report outlines the failings of five financial safety nets, any one of which, had they been functioning effectively, would have prevented the fraud.

Failings identified as enabling the fraud include: the perpetrator being given inappropriate access to financial systems; insufficient control over the processing of transactions, which meant that 62 inappropriate payments were made without being challenged; a lack of robust challenge and scrutiny at an operational level; and insufficient oversight by the Council.

Shockingly, the fraud was revealed not by the Council or Capita, but by suspicions raised by the perpetrator’s bank.

These failures show insufficient oversight by the Council, despite repeated calls from the Labour Group for tighter contract management.

Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings said: “This is incompetence of scandalous proportions, and looks like a breach of contract. Barnet Council must act to terminate these two contracts and take back control of Capita-run services.

“The Council are clearly not able to manage this kind of commercial relationship, and Capita have demonstrated they are not able to run key services to a basic standard.

“Cllrs Cornelius and Thomas must also take responsibility for what is ultimately a failure of their ideology driven policy. Their misplaced faith in Capita has ensured that the Council has insufficient financial oversight of outsourced services. And as they are responsible for the council’s finances and regeneration schemes, this fraud happened directly under their noses.

“Barnet Labour Councillors repeatedly warned of the risk of outsourcing so many services to the same organisation. Time after time this has been proved right.

“The fraud case is yet another incident in a never-ending saga of financial mismanagement. Barnet residents deserve better.”

Ends.
Notes: A copy of the Grant Thornton report can be found here: https://www.barnet.gov.uk/…/finance…/Financial-controls.html

Barnet Labour Group statement on the Resources Committee

Barnet Council has agreed that terminating the two Capita contracts will be fully tested and considered in a Full Business Case looking at bringing Capita-run services in-house. The decision was made at the Policy & Resources Committee on 19 July which discussed options to realign the Council’s relationship with Capita.

A report in the name of the Leader of the Council recommended ‘Option 2’ – preparing a Full Business Case to insource a limited number of Capita-run services such as Highways, Estates, HR and Finance.

Barnet’s Labour councillors proposed that ‘Option 3’  – which would bring the partnership with Capita to an end – should be included in the Full Business Case to ensure that councillors had all the evidence and flexibility to make a final decision. This was conceded by the Conservative councillors.

Full statement.

Option 3 – Tories taken to task over Capita!

Tory councillors, forced to review their outsourcing arrangements with failling privateers Capita due the scale of the disaster, walked away with their tales between their legs after a mauling at town hall Resources Committee. Barnet Alliance for Public Services activists and Labour councillors, who held a lively rally outside before the meeting. By the end, the Conservatives had been forced to carry out a fully analysis of the costs and possibilities of kicking out Capita all together.

In the meeting itself, the Tories were virtually lost for words, as they have reneged on almost everything they had said in the local elections in May. After pledging to maintain low council tax, they are now looking to make the largest tax rises allowed in law. When it was pointed out that they had frozen council taxes for years, and that council officers’ reports had shown that funding was in trouble months ago. they responded by pathetically appealing to the Labour group and residents not to “hark on about the past” and then trying to blame the economic policies of Gorden Brown in the same breath!

The preferred solution for this crisis-ridden administration was to do a partial reversion of services back t public control, which would have left Capita with those elements of services that are mostly profitable to them. By the end of the meeting, they were forced to conceed that no option for in-sourcing should be off the table in order to save our borough. This a massive step forward for our movement!

See a good report on the meeting in the Barnet Times here.

Barnet Unison: Barnet Group to begin privatizing services at the same time cutting wages and terms and conditions of staff

Barnet UNISON is currently in negotiations with The Barnet Group in relation to the recommendations below.

Needless to say, Barnet UNISON is opposed to cuts to this vital front line service and opposed to the night operator service being outsourced.

The proposed recommendation to move to bench marked salaries would have grave implications for ALL Barnet Group staff irrespective of whether they are employed on a traditional Barnet Homes contract, which is protected by the 2006 TUPE agreement from LBB, or, a TBG Flex contract.

If Barnet Group Management continue with the intention to break with the current nationally agreed pay structure in the Barnet Homes and the TBG Flex paystructure, Barnet UNISON will be left with no alternative other than consult with ALL employees that would potentially be effected.

It is fully acknowledged that Assist is an essential and greatly valued service and the focus will be on how the service is supported to grow. However, the current cost base does not support the services ability to bid for new business and cannot continue to be provided in its existing form if the growth aspirations are to be achieved.

The proposed changes are not made to cut costs just to make the numbers balance, but are made to modernise the service. The result of the changes are lower costs as we plan to combine our call centre functions and tender the current night operators service. Jobs will be offered in the call centre where they are available but they will be different.

The measures that need to be taken if Assist is to continue to provide an operator and mobile response service to its current customers and to win additional services to support the growth imperative are stated below.

There have been 4 different options that have been consulted on with the Assist staff and following feedback the following is recommended.

  • The Assist service provides a limited operator service during office hours and buys in the out of hours call monitoring.
  • All Assist daytime operators, mobile response officers, management and admin teams will be matched to the bench marked high rate salaries, aligned to NJC Outer London Spinal points.
  • Enhancements and shift allowances will no longer be paid.
  • 3 full time equivalent operator posts (125 hours) will be co-located to work within the contact centre carrying out the same duties as they currently do, during office hours (8am-6pm), this option will add another facet to the Barnet Homes Call Centre further supporting the diversity of work that this service area carries.
  • The current night operators will be consulted with and will either be TUPE’d to the procured provider, be redeployed within The Barnet Group, or be made redundant.
  • Where the impact of the changes to individual’s salaries and contractual obligations are impacted negatively by -10% (gross) or higher they will be offered redeployment or redundancy if a suitable alternative cannot be found.
  • All mobile response officer (MRO) work patterns will be reviewed to ensure that there is full cover for the service and capacity for growth.
  • There will be a reduction of one senior post.
  • The standby rate will remain at £26.76, this will be cost neutral for the Barnet MRO’s and an increase for the Brent MRO’s.
  • Removal of the car allowance with all mileage paid at 60p per mile.
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