As with the last message, there is no specific news to report on dialogue other than it is continuing to progress well. This week’s meetings have included legal/commercial and technical sessions covering the bidders’ financial models, their emerging commercial development plans which provide details of new investment and income streams, insurance matters and our approach to resolving conflicts of interest in relation to service delivery. We have also been discussing the bidders’ Service Improvement Plans which set out how the services will be delivered and enhanced over the course of the contract.
In addition to enhancing service delivery we also believe that the DRS project has great potential to generate new commercial opportunities, both in Barnet and further afield. As a result we have decided to form a Joint Venture organisation with the successful bidder, which provides an effective basis on which the Council can benefit from these opportunities and at the same time it gives the Council greater rights of transparency and control. What this means is that the successful bidder and the Council will form a new organisation in which both have an interest. This new organisation will then contract with the Council to provide the DRS services. The Joint Venture approach does not change the approach to TUPE of staff or weaken any of the commitments given - staff would TUPE into the new organisation rather than to the commercial partner. We shall provide further information on the Joint Venture in the next week however as ever you are welcome to ask any questions you may have regarding this or other elements of the DRS procurement’
The latest DRS staff group took place on Thursday 9 August and was attended by representatives from all your services. Make sure you speak to your rep if you want more detailed feedback or to raise any questions at the next staff group meeting. Martin Cowie has also been continuing to visit teams across the DRS service cluster to speak about the project and answer questions. If you haven’t yet had a briefing with Martin, let me know and we’ll make sure a suitable time is organised.
Also at the group meeting, a series of further questions were asked about various aspects of the project. The answers to these will be shared on the intranet over the next week.
As you know, over the summer all DRS in-scope staff are having to take part in a data cleanse of their HR information; the data that will be transferred to the new provider after contract award. Environmental health and strategy and regeneration staff have completed their data cleanses, and next up is staff in Highways, Planning, Development and Building Control. Your line managers will take you through the process. They are being provided with the relevant forms on Monday 3 September and they must be returned by Friday 21 September.
We still have places available at the TUPE workshops for staff and managers, as well as the Change and Me sessions. These workshops will run up until November and have already been on for more than a year. They are set to continue until November, by which time we will be approaching mobilisation. During mobilisation we will begin to talk to you about how the transfer will affect you personally, but it would be a very good idea to have attended one of these sessions before that time.
The times and dates of the workshops are as follows:
Managers’ TUPE workshops
- 4 September – Training Room 2 – 2-5pm
- 2 October – Training Room 4 – 9.30am-12.30pm
- 14 November – Training Room 2 – 9am-12noon
Staff TUPE workshops
- 4 September – Training Room 4 – 1-2pm
- 4 October – Training Room 4 – 1-2pm
- 1 November – Training Room 5 – 12noon-1pm
Change and Me workshops
- 24 September – Training Room 3 – 2-3pm
- 17 October – Training Room 3 – 10.30-11.30am
To book a place on any of these sessions, email email@example.com.
Use that same email address if you have any further questions between now and the next newsletter, about the DRS project. Have a great weekend.
Interim Director Environment, Planning & Regeneration
London Borough of Barnet
2nd Floor Building 4, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP
0208 359 7988
The key statement, which lays bare what is going on is "As a result we have decided to form a Joint Venture organisation with the successful bidder, which provides an effective basis on which the Council can benefit from these opportunities and at the same time it gives the Council greater rights of transparency and control. What this means is that the successful bidder and the Council will form a new organisation in which both have an interest. This new organisation will then contract with the Council to provide the DRS services. "
This means that a new company is being set up, which is jointly owned by the Council and the "successful bidder". We have already seen Barnet Council setting up such companies. The first thing that happens is that a board of directors is formed. Past experience of the council doing this has shown that senior council executives are appoined to the board. Now you may think that there is a conflict of interest (I certainly do). The same council executives who are making the decisions to form these companies are also appointed to the board, presumably on huge salaries and with juicy share options. It beggars belief that people can set themselves up as directors of a company with a turnover of a hundred million pounds a year at the expense of the Barnet taxpayer.
There is an even more dangerous side to all of this. The companies are presumably going to be limited liability enterprises. This means that Capita Symonds or BT have no exposure to failure. They own shares in the company, so if it all goes swimmingly, they make the profits, but if it fails and goes bust, they have no exposure whatsoever. In a normal outsourcing exercise, the successful bidder takes a degree of risk. Multi national companies such as BT are unlikely to go bust, so there is a degree of protection for the taxpayer. With this model, the only thing which is being outsourced is the profits. It also means that if and when it all goes wrong, BT or Capita Symonds can say "Not us guv, we were only shareholders in the company".
We can sum up the whole One Barnet program with two questions.
Q: Who stands to gain from this arrangement?
A: The directors of the new company (many of whom are involved in setting up the company, whilst working for Barnet Council) and the shareholders of the "successful bidder".
Q: Who is left with the risk?
A: The Barnet Taxpayer, who if the "joint venture" fails, will have to pick up the tab.
I don't know about you, but the whole thing sounds to me like a conspiracy. This "joint venture" is riddled with "conflicts of interest". The fact that the bidders are unwilling to accept any risk at all, but are more than happy to accept the profits is truly staggering. Is there no one within Barnet Council who is prepared to speak out and call a halt to this attempt to rob the taxpayer?
Ms Wharfe talks about transparency. As this "joint venture" will be a private company, it will be exempt from FoI legislation, so there will be no transparency at all.
I call on the Leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius to call a halt to the whole debacle immediately.