Category Archives: Community

November 11: Day of Action in Barnet

After many years of Barnet being one of the Tories’ most rightwing and rapidly anti-public service council administrations, our borough finally has a chance for change. Barnet TUC will be working with our local Labour Party to get a positive message about a more caring, fairer alternative and invites all friends and comrades to join in.

We’ll meet at 10.30am at Mill Hill Broadway railway station, on Saturday 11th of November.

Facebook event here.

Via Barnet Unison: We Value Equality

At Barnet UNISON we were appalled to hear of the racist abuse being expressed against the planning application for an Islamic Centre at the Hippodrome in Golders Green.

The title of this piece comes from the press officer, Ahmed Al-Kazemi, of the Hippodrome Centre in Golders Green. This is just one comment made to appeal to those who would condemn the opening of the centre as an Islamic Centre on racial grounds.

We welcome and would echo the comments made by Rabbi Mark Goldsmith, of the Golders Green Alyth Reform congregation and Laura Marks, chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust condemning the racism and appealing to a prouder anti-racist tradition.

We also support Barnet Council’s decision to remove all comments relating to this planning application from the public domain on its website.

We celebrate the fact that when the Bravanese Islamic Centre was tragically burnt down a few years ago, the response from all Faiths in the community and people from the broad anti-racist political spectrum was quick in rallying round to support that community and show solidarity.

This is the kind of Barnet we want to belong to.

We would very much like to be a part of a similar response to the racist abuse being levied at the Hippodrome Centre now.

For background information please read these articles:

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/racism-row-over-petition-to-stop-islamic-centre-being-opened-in-golders-green-hippodrome-a3659521.html

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/14/golders-green-hippodrome-mosque-plan-rabbi-urges-calm

https://www.bod.org.uk/board-of-deputies-looks-forward-to-good-relations-with-new-muslim-community-centre-in-golders-green/

 

Finchley More In Common meeting

moreincommon-shortFinchley residents! Please join our #MoreInCommon meeting on Wednesday 15th March at 7.15-8.30, at the Blue Beetle room at St Mary at Finchley parish hall, Hendon Lane (5 minutes walk from Finchley Central tube).

We want to bring together local people concerned about the rise in intolerance and racism since the EU referendum. We’ll share our ideas about what can be – and is being done – locally to build a positive response to hate, and longer-term we’ll turn those ideas into reality. 

No special expertise or insight needed. All welcome – any and every religion, ethnicity, political persuasion, age – you just have to be concerned and want to help.

For more information please contact mslizzyhawkins@gmail. com.

More on the Hope Not Hate website here: http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/more-in-common/

Unite Community to Launch Barnet Group on January 24th

unite_community_logoThe London & Eastern Region of Unite Community is setting up a new group here in the London borough of Barnet.

The launch  meeting will be on Tuesday the 24th of January at 7pm in the Green Man Community Centre, Strawberry Vale, London N2 9BA.

We campaign on what matters to you; Housing, NHS, Welfare Cuts, and with each campaign WIN we deliver real social change.

A recent campaign that we have led, which has galvanised  a wide-ranging coalition – football fan groups, shareholders, War on Want, Peoples’ Assembly is #SportsDirectShame.

This campaign is the platform, we hope to ban the use of Zero Hour Contracts, which could benefit millions of workers. Ending precarious work links unemployed workers’ and workers and sends a clear message to the kind of society we want.

Our 3,300 members are organised in Branches throughout the London and Eastern Region and there will be an active funded group near you which drives local campaigns.

See more at: http://www.unitetheunion.org/how-we-help/listofregions/londonandeastern/community-membership-in-london-and-eastern/#sthash.Vad6H4zG.dpuf

“Unsafe & Unsustainable”- Barnet UNISON speech to Barnet Councillors

barnet-unison-logo-e1462368170626The following speech was delivered to General Functions Committee,
on Tuesday 6th December at 7pm in Hendon Town Hall

“Dear members of the committee

I addressing you as both the branch secretary of Barnet UNISON, but also speaking as a service user of mental health services, indeed without the support I was given and the ongoing support I still receive today there is a strong likelihood I may not of been speaking to you this eveningjohn-t-shirt

It is also worth noting much quoted statistic that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.

I therefore speak not only as a worker but from personal experience of using mental health services.

I also want to make this point that I believe is often missed by elected members. I speaking to you all as employers not politicians. It is as an employer I am wanting to address our members, your staff concerns about the proposal before the committee this evening.

Firstly, I can confirm we are not opposed to the staff being brought back into the Council and we are fully supportive of the proposed social care model of intervention.

However when travelling across the borough it is impossible not to see the number of housing developments; and with it the increase in population; and with that the increased need for schools, NHS provision, social services to name but a few public services.

It is therefore highly dangerous to be proposing to cut Mental Health services at a time when the population is growing.

It is our view that the proposed cut of mental health social workers coupled with the increase in responsibilities will NOT lead to a safer service for service users, families and carers.

Barnet UNISON is extremely concerned about the reduction of social workers and the introduction of Assessment Enablement Officers (AEO).

In mental health staff are working with extremely complex and high risk individuals in situations where you need qualified experienced and knowledgeable staff.

Currently mental health social workers have significantly high caseloads (which includes the work connected to their statutory responsibilities in their Approved Mental Health Practitioner roles.

The cut in social workers will lead to greater pressure upon an already pressured staff group increasing the risk of more Serious Untoward Incidents (SUI) happening.

You will no doubt have been briefed that the Council is not making any social workers redundant, which is true; and you will have been told that the new proposal to replace qualified social workers with AEO’s will provide a better service.

With respect this premise is nonsense.

The proposal to cut mental health social workers is directly driven by NEED.

However, not by the NEEDS of service users and carers, but by the NEED to make Austerity cuts.

Lessons learnt

I would like to remind the committee that it was only two years ago when I addressed this same committee about the now infamous Family Services restructure. At that meeting I tried to convince members of the committee to extend the period of consultation as I was concerned the changes had been driven through in haste and that I feared there would be consequences for the service and the staff.  Unfortunately the committee chose accept the advice of senior officers who are now no longer working for the council. However I can report that the restructure had to be revisited as I predicted, there was a high turnover of experienced social work staff which then resulted in the recruitment crisis you now have in children’s social work.

 

Sometimes it is worth listening to UNISON.

 

We’ve been here before 18th February this year, Adults brought a similar proposal to cut social work posts, and use non-professionally qualified workers.

My members, your staff, describe feeling they are “flying by the seat of their pants”

The rationale put before this committee for cutting social work posts was that new Capita IT database “Mozaic” would deliver efficiencies. Well 10 months later this is not happening because “Mozaic”, once again has been pulled. There have been so many false starts with Mozaic if they had been a sprinter they’d have been disqualified from the Olympics by now.

 

Consultancy spend

I want members to take a look at agency/consultants spend.

Last year the council spent £18.2 million on agency/consultants. This figure is larger than the year before which was £17.9 million, which was significantly larger than the previous year which was £15.5million, which was previously larger than the previous year £13.7million which was previously larger than the previous year £12.5million.

In the last two quarters of this year the Council has already spent £13.7 million on agency/consultants which if the current pattern continues could see the Council break £20million.

It is our view that the Council needs to address this agency/consultancy uncontrollable spend in order to protect vital front line services and in this case drop the proposal to cut social work posts.

 

John Burgess

Branch Secretary

Barnet UNISON

Update on Save Barnet Libraries campaign: Protest with Unison workers on 6th of December

Barnet UNISON Librarylast-ditch-libraries-2 workers 46% of whom are facing the sack are quite rightly outraged by the latest financial information on Council spend which was published last week.

Barnet Council Policy & Resources Committee meets at Hendon Town Hall at 7 pm on Thursday 2 December 2016.

 

It is Agenda Item 10 – Annual Procurement Forward Plan which has caused anger and dismay and disbelief.

http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s36302/Appendix%201%20-%20Annual%20Procurement%20Forward%20Plan%202017-18.pdf

Scroll down to point 17 in the procurement plan it reveals proposed spend on Libraries construction of £12 million with additional items 18-25 showing an additional £2.125 million for additional associated costs:

Making a total of £14.125 million.

A quick recap on other Barnet Council spend.

Below are the Agency/Consultancy figures for the last four years.

  • £12,526,943
  • £13,775,546
  • £15,538,090
  • £17,907,052

Making a total of £59, 747,631 million

In the first two quarters of this financial year Barnet Council has spent £9.3 million which, if it continues at this rate, will bring the total spend for this year to over £20 million on Consultants/Agency.

Barnet Council claims it is being forced into the Library changes by a need to cut £2,162 million from the Library Service budget by 2019/20.

Members and Barnet UNISON have been asking a very simple question:

“Is it true that in order to save £2,162 million Barnet Council are spending over £6 million (which does not include redundancy costs) on a project to close four public libraries (by handing them to volunteers), on a project that will restrict access for disabled people and children under 15 and are now planning to spend an additional £14,125 million on construction and associated costs (making a grand total of £20.125 million)?”

This latest revelation seriously calls into question as to why staff are being made redundant and why a service with a 97% Customer satisfaction is being brutally dismantled.

As far as Barnet UNISON is aware the £14.125 million construction and additional costs have never been disclosed in any of the reports going to previous Children’s Education, Libraries and Safeguarding Committees.

What can we do?

There is still time to stop the destruction of the Barnet Libraries Service. Barnet UNISON will be speaking at General Functions Committee on Tuesday 6 December at 7 pm at Hendon Town Hall. The Leader of Barnet Council Richard Cornelius is on this committee. The committee could refuse to implement the redundancies which would save the Library Service.

 

Join Barnet UNISON on #6December

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