Friday, 30 November 2012

The Friday Joke - 29/11/2012

I wasn't in a very jokey mood this morning so apologies for the lateness of todays joke.

Here are todays efforts

Leader of Barnet Council Richard Cornelius who got up at  last nights council meeting and announced 

"I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we have enough money to fully fund all of our executive pay scheme for years 2013-2020" 

"The bad news is, it's still out there in your pockets."


The Leader of Barnet Council shocked the community when he announced that he was resigning as Leader and retiring to his Chateau in France. After the session, a very distraught lady came to the Richard with tears in her eyes, "Oh, Richard, we are going to miss you so much. We don't want you to leave!" Richard, clearly touched,  replied said "Now, now, don't carry on. The Leader who takes my place might be even better than me".

"Yes", she said, with a tone of resignation in her voice, "That's what they said the when the last three leaders left. "

Of course Richard isn't really resigning, is he?

Barnet Council Budget Overview and Scrutiny Committee review One Barnet

Lats night I witnessed the complete demise of democracy in Barnet. Or rather I didn't, because I was so angry I had to leave. The meeting started at 7pm, with public questions. Questions there certainly were, but the answers? There weren't any. The purpose of public questions is to engage with the public and to help local people understand the democratic process. Resident after resident asked reasonable questions and got non answers. The packed public gallery was shocked.

Then Babara Jacobson, a local resident addressed the meeting. She was representing the Barnet Alliance for Public Services. The response to her of (conservative) councillors was a tad disappointing. They rather missed the point completely. One asked about her reference to the fact that at a residents meeting, only one out of 40 residents was in favour of outsourcing. He said "Surely if you are a protest meeting, then everyone will be against the proposition". If the meeting was a protest meeting, this would be true, however the meeting was a residents meeting comprising all manner of people, attending out of curiosity. It seems to escape the (conservative) councillors that people of all parties and persuasions care about Barnet and they have failed to make the case for what they are proposing.

I was rather infuriated by the treatment of Ms Jacobson. There was no attempt made to address her concerns. In fact the relevant points she made were rather ignored and she was treated in a most patronising fashion. She got a round of applause from those assembled.

We then had the start of the real business. The chair of the meeting, Councillor Tony Finn outlined the "themes" he wanted to explore. At this moment, Councillor Hugh Rayner, one of the more sensible and robust Tories stood up and announced he "had a problem" with the whole scrutiny process. He asked what the purpose of the scrutiny meeting was. Was it simply to "allow members to understand the contract a bit more" or did they actually have the power to change things they didn't like. This is a question which I'd been wondering. The answer was referred to the legal team. The answer was disgusting. Yes things could be changed, so long as they were typos which had been missed in the drafting. The substance of the contract could not be changed. All the scrutiny committee could do was advise the cabinet whether they should accept or reject the contract and whatever they decided was not binding.

In other words, the scrutiny committee of Barnet Council is in the same situation as everyone else in Barnet (bar the eleven members of the Council Cabinet). If they want they can do their job properly. If they do, they can spend hours on end studying the contract, finding all manner of problems and issues. They can then issue their recommendations, which if the council cabinet are so minded can be completely ignored.

Councillor Rayner then made a comment that "all we can do is a lot of posturing on both sides of the debate here". Labour objected "We don't posture". Councillor Rayner laughed, "Oh yes you do, we all do".

At this, I realised that we were all completely wasting our time attending this charade. It was a talking shop, a box ticking exercise. The only councillors and the only meetings that matter are the cabinet. There are over 300,000 people in Barnet, but eleven people have total power to do as they please. It is rather like the Chinese politbureau, electing a new leader behind closed doors. There is no democracy and no democratic process. Scrutiny is a charade. Barbara Jacobson detailed how she filled in a consultation questionairre and then found out that what she was being consulted on was irrelevant as the council had already announced that they had made the decision.

It then occurred to me that by attending the meeting and writing a blog detailing what had happened, I was in effect collaborating with a dictatorial, anti democratic process. Everyone in the room was giving a veneer  of respectability to a bunch of scoundrels who had usurped the democratic process. Simply by participating, Barbara Jacobson and all of the people who had asked questions had given legitimacy to a charade. They had spent time asking questions of a committee with no power and no role whatsoever in the process. There was only one question which any member of the public should have asked "Why are we wasting money on this charade of a meeting and why are we paying allowances to councillors for participating?". At this, I decided that there was absolutely no point staying. I went home and spent all night musing on what had happened.

The eighty or so people who had turned up, asked questions had completely wasted their time. It is clear that the only people and the only committee who matter are the cabinet. The time for going along with the charade has passed. I have sadly concluded that until such time as Barnet Council abolishes the ridiculous cabinet system and returned to a properly democratically acountable process for decision making, we are all wasting our time attending these ridiculous meetings. r

That does not mean that there is nothing we can do. On the contrary, there is plenty. It is called "direct action". If the cabinet won't listen to reasonable debate in the council chamber with our elected representatives and residents, then we have to use other methods to get our message over. The Occupy movement in Friern Barnet Library have shown how legal direct action can bear results. There are already legal challenges to One Barnet taking place. I would suggest that there are other ways to get the message over. Barnet residents should consider lobbying Councillors (peacefully) at their place of work. I would suggest that leaflets are handed out to customers and colleagues of Barnet councillors detailing what they are voting for in One Barnet. As they are prepared to throw 300 Barnet residents out of work, it is only fair that their customers and colleagues have some idea what their ethics and morals are. I am by nature a polite and reasonable person. I do not seek confrontation or to embarrass people publicly. I do however believe that when people treat you with contempt, you are entitled to stand up for yourself. The cabinet need to realise that people are not prepared to be ridden roughshod over in this fashion. If that means a small, polite, well mannered group standing outside the businesses and organisations where the cabinet work, handing out leaflets detailing what these eleven people are up to, so be it. If they are proud of their actions, they really shouldn't mind, should they. This sort of action is how people in liberal democracies protect their rights and freedoms.

If you don't care about the total destruction of our democracy, please sit on your arse and do nothing. If you actually care, then the time has come to do something which the cabinet cannot ignore. I would suggest we start with a symbolic lobby of the business run by the Leader of the Council. I suggest we distrubute leaflets saying "This business is run by Richard Cornelius, Leader of Barnet Council, he is championing a project which will destroy 300 jobs in the London Borough of Barnet. His Council runs using a cabinet system, which means there is no democratic accountability at all. Local people have been forbidden from seeing any proper information about the outsourcing programme which is destroying these jobs and even the councils own scrutiny committee has been told it is not allowed to change contracts which are bad for people of Barnet and which may cost residents thousands of pounds. We ask you to consider whether you consider demoracy important. We believe that democratic accountablity is a paramount principle of our society. Whilst we are not suggesting that you use another business, we believe that people should understand the ethics of people who run the companies of which they are customers".

On a personal level I like Richard Cornelius. I despair that things have come to this. This is what happens when reasonable people are pushed too far. I would not be suggesting this if there was any way that proper democratic scrutiny and accountability could be shown to be working. The only good thing to come from the charade was that Hugh Rayner made me realise that participating in this shame is not a waste of time, it is actually collaboration with a system which is travesty.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Guest blog by A.M Poppy - Citation for civic award for Helen Michael

BY A.M Poppy,
Helen Michael has made a big difference in Barnet this year, and is an obvious recipient of the council’s civic award.

Helen initiated the campaign against the parking fees changes in Finchley, taking on a dynamic leadership role among the traders in Finchley. She now chairs the traders association – a leading force in promoting our ailing high street.

Her civic engagement, undertaken alongside running Buzz Café on North Finchley High Road, unleashed a wave of civic activism in Finchley that flowed into other social campaigns in the area, which together wrought significant changes in the community and political configuration in the area.

Helen has shaped Buzz Café into a much-needed daytime community hub in North Finchley, from which radiates a sense of belonging that other amenities on the high street have not achieved.

Helen has contributed her zeal and savvy to other local campaigns, strengthening them and igniting ever more civic engagement in the area. Other campaigns lack a figurehead, so Helen Michael has become the face of Barnet activism, which has captured the public imagination and media coverage. That prominence has come at a very high cost.

Helen’s campaigning contributed to the break-up of her relationship, that also lost Helen her home. Helen has been subjected to intimidation, late-night questioning by the police, and more recently was in hospital having a suspected broken wrist treated following a fracas with a rival opposed to her campaigning on parking fees.
This has taken a toll on her health, but Helen remains cheerful, hard working, and she continues her campaigning undaunted.

Throughout, Helen has succeeded in rallying a great deal of support from a growing number of people who take heart from Helen, see her as a powerful role model, and are inspired by her personable, modest, and clear commitment.

Helen has undoubtedly been the most inspirational personality in Barnet over the last year. She has cut a huge figure in Barnet, despite being a petite person herself. She describes herself as a simple business owner and mother, but to us she is an intelligent, unassuming lioness.
A.M Poppy was the Green Party candidate for Barnet and Camden in the 2010 GLA elections. She has nominated Helen Michael, owner of Cafe Buzz in North Finchley for a Barnet Council Civic Award. Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye.

Proudest day of my professional life !

I am well chuffed. As you know my two main passions in life are music and football. I thought aged 50, I'd missed the chance to ever play for Manchester City FC, my team. I was wrong, today they have used one of my songs - Spotlight - (on which I play guitar and keyboards and do some backing vocals) as the theme tune for the November goal of the month on MCFC TV. You can watch it here -  -  The lyrics were co written by myself and Connie Abbe (AKA Koni) and the music Abbe/Tichborne/Ross/Denton.

It is a great song and I'm so chuffed to hear it on the MCFC TV channel. There is a little lesson in there for us all. Keep on plugging away. It may not mean anything to anyone else, but it means the world to me. As an artist it is always nice to get some recognition. Manchester City are the Premier League champions and one of the best football teams on the planet Having supported them through good times and bad, it is great to have them use my music !

And if there is anyone out there who is getting demoralised and thinking of giving up something they love, I'd say this is a great reason why you should keep going !

Federation of Small Business Policy forum

Last night I attended the London Region policy forum for the Federation of Small businesses. Various topics were discussed with the hot topics being the governments apprenticeship scheme and the problems with parking.

The issue for small business with apprenticeship schemes revolve around the "business readyness" of candidates and the length of the contracts for apprenticeships. Whilst many small firms would be interested in taking on apprentices and training them up, for small companies with two or three people, the current commitment requirements make it economically unfeasable for such commitments to be taken. As with most government sponsored schemes, the scheme is inflexible and more suited to multi national firms rather than small business.

The issues with parking are well documented. Barnet has proven to be a bit of a case study in how to cock things up. Delegates from other London Boroughs were keen to hear the lessons to be learned from Barnet. The consensus view was that many of the problems could have been avoided with proper consultation. Delegates were interested to hear that the parking budget in Barnet is underfunded by approx £1 million. It seems that delegates were unsurprised that the scheme works badly for residents, business and council.

The other issue which was discussed was business rates. In 2013 local Councils get control of this. The position of the FSB is to oppose this. The worry is that this will cause all manner of issues and local authorities have not demonstrated that they are best placed to understand the needs of business to do a good job.

Although there are many challenges facing us with the current economic climate, the small business sector is one of the most important and undervalued sectors of all. The FSB offers many benefits to members, including free legal advice, assistance with tax matters and insurance, preferential rates on financial products as well as its lobbying function. I'd urge all small business owners to join and participate.

You can find more out here - - if you run a small business, please take a look.

Barnet Mayor to switch on Christmas lights in Mill Hill

The Mayor of Barnet will bring a bit of festive cheer when he turns on the Christmas lights in Mill Hill this week.Councillor Brian Schama will flick the switch in front of crowds in Mill Hill Broadway tonight (Thursday) at 5pm.

Everyone is invited to wrap up warm and come and see the switch-on.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Capita makes the newspapers (this time it isn't about Barnet)

The preferred bidders for the One Barnet program, Capita, find themselves in the news today. It seems they've dodged a £4 million fine. Full details here

The BBC headline says "Capita fined for Fraud".

How much were the savings again?

Let me share with you an email from Councillor Robert Rams, sent to a resident

"Thank you for your email about One Barnet.

I fully support the one barnet program.

This program has seen the council look at all the services we provide to see if we are running them to the best of our ability, as cost effective as possible and if there are better ways of running them. I am sure you can agree that this is a good thing in the current finical crisis we face.  

For example we are now sharing our legal services with another council, we have wonderful community and charity led community coaches who are making some great differences in our communities, we have brought our waste services back in house and yes we will outsource some services. 

These outsources will provide huge investment to our services, money we don't have, whilst improving the services and keeping council tax down.

I stood on a manifesto promise to freeze council tax as I believe that residents should spend their money how the like.

You raise a number of concerns about these services being outsourced. I can assure you that that there will be no change in accountability and my ability to hold the services to account. I have never had any problems with the services we have already outsourced. 

We are looking at a number of ways of outsourcing - you mention a JV or strategic partner - there are pro and cons to each of these and they will be assessed on a case by case basis.

You rightly point out that there could sadly be some job losses - and this is never a good thing. But if we did not go down this route and would therefore need to make larger cuts in our services, the job losses would be much larger.

I hope that this addresses your concerns but this will be a good thing for Barnet and I fully support these changes.

Cllr Rams"

I have highlighted the key sentence in RED ITALICS, here Cllr Rams states that he's never had any problems with services that have already been outsourced.

Clearly poor old Robert lives in a parallel world with a parallel Barnet Council. A Barnet Council where Catalyst didn't take legal action against the Council and extract £10 million pounds because they weren't making enough profits on care homes for the elderly (money which could have been used to keep manys ervices for Barnet residents running). The same company was also found to have legionella in the water supplies, endangering elderly and vulnerable residents.

Or maybe Councillor Rams fantasy world doesn't have Metpro in it. Barnet Council outsourced security services to this company. The company was insolvent, did not have SIA accreditation, did not have proper CRB checks and was found to be charging up to 30% more than the industry standard for services.

Or maybe Councillor Rams fantasy world never had the SAP project that Mike Freer claimed woould cost £6 million in 2006 and has now cost four times that amount.

Councillor Rams is a member of the cabinet. It is sad that he has no idea about what has been happening. In fact there is only one outsourcing which I can think iof which has been successful in Barnet. Councillor Rams is directly responsible for this. In April, he closed Friern Barnet Library. In September, the Occupy movement reopened it. This outsourcing has been incredibly successful. Since Occupy repopened the library, footfall has quadrupled, Award winning novelist Will Self has come for a book reading and the stock of books has gone up from 4,500 to 8,000. The library has been run by volunteers at no cost to the council or the taxpayer. In fact as security has been cut, it has saved money.

Has Robert Rams been trumpeting this achievement? Nope, he is spending money to shut it down. Sadly big society and empowering local people doesn't extend to schemes which actually work. One may conclude that Councillor Rams is a fool.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Tally Ho Ho Ho! - A Christmas Event for North Finchley

Visitors to North Finchley are in for a treat this Christmas as local traders organise Tally Ho Ho Ho a town centre event packed with free family activities and entertainment. Saturday December 15th is the date for your diaries when the event kicks off with a flourish.

Father Christmas will arrive by horse and carriage at 10.00am and he will be carried through the town distributing chocolate, gold coins to children. From 11.30am children will be able to visit Santa with two live reindeer and a barn owl in a beautiful grotto at the Bohemia Bar on North Finchley High Road. 
Peppa Pig and George will be making public appearances at intervals on Tally Ho Corner from 11.30am until 3.30pm where stalls will sell mulled wine, chocolate marshmallows and other sweet treats.
Children can make Gruffalo badges in the artsdepot cafe and a small stage will be erected outside the building for musical entertainment.  Other activities include cupcake decorating, wreath making, carol singing, face painting and street entertainment.

In the lead up to the event children are invited to participate in a bauble decorating competition. Perspex baubles can be picked up from Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe on North Finchley High Road and children are asked to decorate them with a Christmas scene before returning them to the to the town Centre Christmas Tree during the Tally Ho Ho Ho event.  Judges from Design for London will select a winner to receive a toy hamper and all baubles will be placed on the tree for public viewing.

The Tally Ho Ho Ho event has been funded by the Mayor of Londons Outer London Fund, Barnet Council and local businesses. It has been organised by the North Finchley Traders Association.

Chair of the association Helen Michael is excited about the event and thinks that it will be good for the town: We are providing a real alternative to shopping centres and online shops. North Finchley has a town centre Christmas tree; we have successfully campaigned for reduced car parking charges, we have a wide range of specialist shops and cafes and this event will enable people to relax and connect with their community.
Activities take place from 10.00am until 4.00pm; for further details contact event organiser Sally Williams, Retail Revival Ltd; 07889 173101.

A request from Councillor Hugh Rayner

Councillor Hugh Rayner has contacted me to ask me to thank everyone for the dozens of emails he has received concerning referring the NCSCO bid for scrutiny. Hugh has asked me to pass his thanks on to everyone and ask that he now  be left to prepare for the meeting. Hugh infoms me that he considers it impolite to not respond in person, but states that he's sure we all appreciate he needs to prep up.

Hugh has a done a good job with regards to his line of questioning regarding One Barnet. Can I suggest people email councillors who have been less diligent in doing their homework. I would hate to put Hugh off the idea of sending emails to myself or anyone else.

One Barnet - What our councillors had to say

Last week I emailed our local Councillors asking whether they felt that enough time was being allowed to study the One Barnet contract before the decision was taken ( I have sent many such emails to our councillors and usually get a sparse reply. This time was different. From each group I received

Labour - 8 replies.
Lib Dem - 2 replies.
Conservatives - 12 replies.

The most interesting aspect of the Conservative group reply was that 8 of the twelve were from Councillors private accounts, requesting I respect confidentiality, but sharing their personal views.

Of those who responded publicly, perhaps the most interesting was from Cabinet member Tom Davey. He said

Dear Roger
As mentioned in previous communication with yourself, both of us have one thing in common- making Barnet and better place and doing so in a sustainable way, but i think we both know each of us has a different view on how to achieve that, and we probably won't be agreeing on that in the near future.
To answer your question on whether there is enough time, the answer is yes. Councillors set policy and it is the responsibility of officers to implement. The consultant costs and legal fees that some people have highlighted are evidence of the precautions the Council has taken in handling the matter. It is the responsibility of officers, together with our consultants to ensure the contracts do what we have asked, and safeguarded against risks we have highlighted, and any we hadn't thought of.
I have asked senior officers several times about how we are safeguarding ourselves, and have received consistent answers from different officers, all of which reasurres me that the policy we are seeking will be delivered as intended.
If all else fails, i hope you will believe in self interest above all else. I enjoy the work i do as a Councillor and want to be re-elected in 2014. If the NSCSO contract is a failure this has a direct impact on my chances of re-election- so as you can see, i have very good reason to make sure everything is as it should be.

Of course I'm pleased Councillor Davey responded. As he points out, I disagree. I will set out my views in a later blog. Another interesting reply was from Councillor Hugh Rayner

I am not in the habit of replying to round robins in particular ones worded in the way that you have worded yours.
Nevertheless to demonstrate that you are not being ignored I will make an exception in this case.
NSCSO - whether to go ahead or not - will be an executive decision to be taken by Cabinet on 6th December.
The B&P O&SC of which I am a member  will pre-scrutinise this decision on 29th November.
I will do whatever I decide is necessary to prepare myself for this meeting.
Please appreciate that the scrutiny committee do not have the power to instruct Cabinet to follow any course of action, only to make comments and recommendations.
For the record I will be chairing BMO&SC on 13th December where we will be reviewing the decision made by the Cabinet on 6th December - assuming of course that the matter is called-in.
Hugh Rayner Cllr

Hugh has been robust in his questioning of One Barnet and has earned respect for this. I not with interest his comments regarding the scrutiny committee. This echoes my view that the process needs beefing up and betrays the democratic deficit in Barnet.

Of the "private" emails, I will only make a couple of quotes. Interestingly these fall into two camps, two were from "One Barnet believers". Here is one comment, which seems to reflect the position.

"I am broadly supportive of the One Barnet program and believe it will deliviver benefits to residents. I do however concede that the time allowed for discussions seems to be insufficient".

Perhaps more worrying are the comments from the sceptics. Perhaps the most disturbing is this.

"Its difficult to read a contract 'Cold' but it helps if one is a party to the processes as matters progress.  There is not sufficient time. Even if I take out time and read the contract, what difference will it make ?"

I suspect the leadership would be surprised at who responded and what they said. It is a sad day when councillors feel that doing their job is pointless. Once these contracts are signed, there will be a lot more feeling like that.

At least the councillors (on both sides) are bothering to answer. I suppose that is progress

Monday, 26 November 2012

Racism and Anti Semitism at football matches

Some problems are difficult, some are not. The issue of racist/anti semitic chanting at Football matches is a very simple one to solve. If the referee hears any racist/anti semitic chanting, he should show the section of crowd where it came from a yellow card. If he hears it again, he should show that area of a red card. The match would then be suspended until that whole section of the stadium was cleared. The club who were represented by that section would get a three point deduction.

The message would get through to even the thickest numbskull. Fans not involved would soon realise that such behaviour had consequences and stop. Clubs faced with point deductions would soon wake up to the calamatous damage. It is clear that there is still a problem with a few clubs. This idiotic and offensive behaviour has been tolerated long enough. Lets make this season the last one marred by such ignorance.

In the 1970's football hooliganism was endemic and crowds started to decline. Many people are still wary of taking children to games due to some aspects of behaviour. In the long run it would benefit football to show racism the red card completely.

The wheels are coming off the One Barnet juggernaut

One Barnet appears to be destroying the Barnet Conservative Party. On Saturday I made this statement in a blog

"Yesterday I emailed every Barnet Councillor and asked for them to comment on whether they thought due time had been given to allow proper scrutiny. As of last night, not a single Conservative Councillor had responded. I had not even received a read receipt. Today a strange thing happened. Several Barnet Tories emailed me using private accounts. All asked for complete confidentiality, which I respect. What they have said disturbs me. It appears as if the local party are putting intense pressure on Conservative Councillors to bury their heads in the sand. The emails all have a common theme. This is

a) They agree that the time is woefully inadequate
b) They have been discouraged from finding information out about the project
c) They have been assurred that everything will be alright
d) No evidence to back this claim up has been given and requests for such assurances have been slapped down.

Another common theme is that these councillors understand exactly how this will end. As far as they are concerned (given that they deplore both One Barnet and the Labour Party). It will end with both One Barnet contractors and the Labour Party running Barnet. When they lost the Branswick Park by-election they realised that they may have a problem. The recent press coverage of One Barnet has made them realise that their time may well be numbered, save a miracle. Every failure, every problem a Barnet resident has once One Barnet has been implemented will be a bad news story and lost votes for the Conservatives in 2014. "

I was not too surprised as  I often get emails from Conservative councillors giving me interesting snippets of information, if they want something to get into the public domain, but don't want to get blamed, it is a useful way of getting the information into the open. What flabbergasted me was the fact that yesterday ex Tory Councillor Brian Coleman went public with the full sordid details of just how bad things have got. The Hendon Times reports here on what Mr Coleman had to say

The pressure was revealed to be
By this time the leader's blood pressure was rising until he finally jumped up "red in the face" and said unless the Conservative Group supported this, all the libraries would have to be closed and social services would be reduced to a crisis-only mode.

Another sign of the cracks was a couple of tweets today by Mike Freer MP, seeking to distance himself from his One Barnet baby. Could it be that Council Leader Richard Cornelius has found himself up a well known creek, asking his friends for a paddle.

Meeting with the Chief Executive of the Council this morning, many routine items plus One Barnet update. 

 as i haven't been Leader of the Council for nearly 3 years, he will be briefing me. 

All rather odd, isn't it


So hopw long does a One barnet procurement take to assess? If you are Barnet Council there are two answers.

If you are part of the One Barnet team and you are employing a contractor to assess the relevant information it takes eight to ten weeks as a full time job.  They have just appointed a contractor for ten weeks according to their website

Apoointment of Evaluator for DRS Procurement

If you are a councillor on a scrutiny commitee, according to the Leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius a few hours of "giuided reading" of the 8,000 page contract is ample.
You can hear him defend this by clicking this link and advancing to 1.04.10

"You can bet your bottom dollar that if this plan works, you will see this in a council near you"

Guest Blog - Surveys, Consultations and Family Carers

By Barbara Jacobson Linda Edwards and Janet Leifer,

Barnet Adult Social Care and Health have a duty to see that family carers’ rights are protected and that they are given sufficient support to care for their loved ones.
It can seem as though Barnet Adult Social Care and Health think everything can be fixed by conducting a survey or carrying out a consultation. This is not a view shared by carers themselves.

An 87-year-old family carer explains what it feels like to be a carer:

“On the surface things may not look too difficult but any carer of someone
with dementia could tell you this is not the case - you are relentlessly on
duty night and day. You are continually supervising personal care, cleaning
the bathroom, changing sheets, washing clothes, supervising medication,
and ensuring some stimulating activities, trying to have quality time with them
and at the same time fighting the continual desire to run away from it all.” 

Will a survey fix these issues? 

Family Carer Surveys
Family carers have asked what is the purpose of these nonsensical surveys that are now being completed so often.  No one appears to know!   These family carer surveys, costing a lot of money to complete, paint a picture that is invalid because what has been evaluated does not exist! But they do appear to satisfy the “tick box” culture in Barnet Adult Social Care and Health!!

How will a survey help the family carer who is  “basically watching someone you love fall to pieces in front of your eyes?   You have to keep going and do your best.  I find it soul destroying and am overwhelmed by the situations I have to deal with.” Family carer

Consultation Process
Another area of perceived ‘success’ for LBB Adult Social Care and Health is their "Consultation" process. They have held many chalk and talk events disguised as "Consultations" when in reality, they have already decreed what is going to take place. 

‘Success’ because they have demonstrated that they have followed their internal procedures.  However, their methods are flawed because their intentions were to continue in the "Tick Box" game that ......   reigns supreme in LBB  Social Care and Health."  

Recipients of services forget to remind them not only how lucky we are that they only pretended to consult with us but that they made up our minds for us before their pretence of the "Consultation" process took place!!

Social Care for Vulnerable Families and their Carers
LBB Adult Social Care and Health has recently come under attack for their lack of 'care' to vulnerable families. Have the criticisms been justified?  When you decide, please read the Family Carer Survey results alongside the day-to-day experiences here from a carer living in Barnet:

“In our experience Barnet Adult Health and Social Care does not exist - all they do is assess and review assessments.  Barnet Adult Social Care and Health is an insult to every single resident in Barnet.  As I have said before there is no adult social care in the London Borough of Barnet, who are not capable of safeguarding any living creature.

All the assessments and reviews carried out by Barnet social workers are a box ticking exercise and a way of seeing if they can reduce the person's level of need so Barnet Adult Social Care and Health can wash their hands of them.
Janet Leifer"

How could we all be so silly as to not realise that our role in the brave new world of Barnet social care is to fill in surveys to say what a marvellous service we receive, participate in consultations that have already been decided and be grateful for whatever service we receive, no matter how appalling. In this Brave New World, we should realise that so long as targets are met, then everything must be simply marvellous. 

Linda Edwards and Janet Leifer, Family Carers

PS  Here's what I sent out earlier today. It made my blood boil!  On one page, (LBB web site) the survey asks your view on council tax, while elsewhere on the site it says the decision has been made. Consultation or con act?
I have just finished the Finance and Business Planning Consultation on Barnet's website. First, how do you find out about these consultations – and there are about 6 others still live – unless you browse this website? I regret having missed some. How do people without computers get to participate? 
MOST IMPORTANT right now is that everyone – I mean everyone – takes a look at this consultation. You have to answer the questions on each page to move forward – just put in anything, then don't finish and submit if you don't have the patience or time to do this thoroughly, but get to the pages where suddenly One Barnet is mentioned, and mentioned as a done deal. Then you're asked for your comments on the savings. Look at the table in the link: a few numbers, no explanations. Are the council going to try to use this farce to say that they have consulted with the residents, are they planning this as a ruse to avoid a judicial review

Barbara Jacobson