Monday, 19 August 2013

Guest Blog - The two faces of Mile Freer MP - By John Sullivan

By John Sullivan,

I wondered where the LBB / YCB approach of any Tom Dick or Harriet can do the job, vocation skill ability is of no importance as long as a service is provided , and the quality of the service is irrelevant came from. It comes from the ideology of none other than our former Council leader now MP M Freer who claims in his article in the Barnet & Whetstone Press. " Its services that matter much more than those who are delivering them" .

So now we can understand why Your Choice Barnet ( YCB ) responsible for the well being of disabled people in Barnet, are dumping on  all the skilled committed long service workers, in an attempt to replace them with cheap unskilled labour . People on zero contracts and as and when contracts plus  casual labour, are replacing long term skilled and committed vocational staff,  and Freer apparently  does not give a fig who delivers the services.

Well Mr Freer MP (  but the question is for how long ) there are many parents and carers of disabled people in Barnet that disagree with your approach, they do think the quality and the skills and the vocational committed  staff are paramount to the well being of their loved ones. Currently  at the mercy of the YCB race to the bottom in terms of quality of care, and therefore quality of life for YCB clients. You may not give a fig but we do. But then again we are only Barnet residents, you apparently have no interest in the opinions of Barnet residents. Instead you choose to bad mouth anyone who challenges any aspect of the One Barnet Programme ( OBP ) like your pals on the Tory benches in the town hall and the executives at North London Business Park. You take absolutely no interest in the concerns of the residents and taxpayers of Barnet. The high court made it clear that Barnet council had broken the law with regard to consulting Barnet residents on OBP, the judge went as far as to say that there was no attempt to consult. In essence this OBP programme being forced upon Barnet residents has no legitimacy, it has been arrived at by illegal means. There you are a supposed custodian of the law of the land with a seat in what is laughingly called the " mother of democracy " the Houses of Parliament, yet you appear to fully condone the breaking of the law and the denial of the human and democratic right of your constituents  to be consulted. Which seriously questions your right to be a member of the house of commons. Surely it is your place to fight to uphold the law of the land and ensure that all activities you choose to support have been arrived at by both democratic and  legal means.

You brand anyone with a different opinion on OBP to that of yourself and your mates on the Barnet Tory benches a trade unionist, as if being a trade unionist is some kind of disease or human failing rather than a democratic human right. Well I am against OBP and I have not been meaningfully consulted, and yet I and many others with the same view am not a member of a trade union. I am simply a Barnet resident that is angry I have not been consulted on matters that concern the future well being of my disabled daughter, and myself my family and friends  being sold into the bondage of Capita,  without the legal right to be consulted being adhered to by the purveyors of OBP.

You claim it is important that services are delivered to a high standard and that people delivering those services must have a say in how their jobs are done, knowing that none of them have been meaningfully consulted they have just been told this is what is  happening end of consultation. You claim   "the reasonable voice of council workers is being drowned out by the ideological dogma of trade unions which refuse to accept changes to anything " which is completely and utterly untrue.

 I have spoken with many council employees that do not support OBP, why would they their jobs are being sent up north, in the name of OBP, and those left behind are having their wages slashed by upwards of 30%, and there conditions of employment eroded. Your claim they support OBP is a nonsense, it would be like a turkey supporting  Xmas for them to support OBP. How you have the neck to accuse others of ideology and dogma  beggars belief, when this OBP contract has been driven by ideology and dogma from day one, and as the court says every effort to collude to avoid open consultation with Barnet residents has been enacted. Not happy with apparently supporting the illegal means by which this OBP contract was arrived at , a contract incidentally that has never been read in detail and therefore not fully understood by the person that signed it on behalf of the people of Barnet. You now choose to tell lies and besmirch the good names of Barnet residents that oppose OBP, by branding them with a title they do not deserve. 

I have no problem with trade unions personally, their members have cared for my disabled daughter for many years, they are fighting to retain the quality of services and therefore the quality of life of disabled people in Barnet. Unlike you they and  I think the quality and skills of the person caring for my daughter and her peers is important. Furthermore they have been fighting for the jobs of the hundreds of LBB workers that will be sacked in the next few weeks in the name of OBP. They will watch their jobs go to the north of England or further afield, and very shortly no doubt they and their families will be branded by you and your ilk as scroungers on benefits. Because the Tory mantra both nationally and locally is everybody on benefits no matter how sick or disabled, or how hard they are trying to get a job are scrounging layabouts hiding behind the curtains, as the growing concern for the activities of  ATOS  will support. I am so glad I am not represented in parliament by somebody like you, to be honest since the last election I don't think the views of residents in the Hendon ward have been  represented in any way shape or form. Which quite candidly is probably better than to be represented  by a man such as yourself, who appears to have no respect for the law of the land, no respect for the rights of Barnet residents to be consulted on major issues such as OBP, supports the signing on a massive irreversible contract by a person that has not even read the contract, whilst unjustifiably branding Barnet residents who have genuine concerns about OBP.

Let me ask you a couple of questions Mr Freer MP.
If as you suggest OBP is so wonderful.

1, How can you possibly know as you have not read the contract any more than your buddy Cornelius, furthermore why do you choose to ignore the car crash business plan that is YCB phase 1 of OBP, who are in a race to the bottom in the quality of  service provision to pay off massive debts they have accumulated, rather than  the profits that were promised. Or is this truth unimportant to you as well. You imply that all outsourcing is wonderful and there have been no failures to date, which is far from the being the truth.

2, If OBP is such a positive thing, why did you and your successors refuse to consult the residents of Barnet, why has the approach to OBP been so secretive and underhand and scurrilous.
Surely if it is so wonderful you would  have been anxious to argue your case and win the approval of your constituents, but we both know that open consultation would have resulted in both sides of the equation being discussed, which would have exposed to Barnet residents  the litany of failings of Capita where the outsourcing of public services is concerned across the country.

3, OBP is the irreversible privatisation of virtually all public services in Barnet, so why don't you say it as it is. It is not outsourcing, it is privatisation, because the likelihood of the services being brought back in-house even if Capita fail dismally is virtually impossible, because no infrastructure or staff will exist and the cost would be huge, so why not call it what it is.

You make all of these claims of savings by Capita that are all conjecture and have no foundation in fact, they are in fact an ideological wish list if the truth be told. Savings incidentally that could more easily have  been made, without spending millions on consultants and lawyers by undertaking  a review of in-house services, and formulating an in-house comparator to compare with the likes of Capita. But whilst you have the gall to accuse others of ideology and dogma, the Tory hatred for public services and public servants took precedent, and the sensible and practical approach of an in-house comparator was refused , which leaves a huge question mark over the long term viability and credibility of the what is tantamount to being the illegal OBP contract.

I just hope that the disasters of phase 1 and 2 of OBP are not to be repeated across the board, which is the current race to the bottom at YCB who intend to employ any Tom Dick or Harriet to look after disabled people, and the car crash of the NSL parking fiasco , parts one and two of the pending potential OBP disaster you failed to mention.

There is absolutely no way you can substantiate any of the claims you make in this article including the savings you are claiming, it exposes you as a man with little respect for the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You also if you have any sense had your fingers crossed when writing this questionable some might say blatantly dishonest article, because the reality is the people of Barnet have to cross their fingers, and hope that the man that signed the OBP contract without reading it with your full support, has got it right.
A simple fact of life " the quality of any services are determined by the quality and skills and commitment of the staff providing those services ", dumping on skilled committed staff and replacing them with zero contract, casual  and as and when staff and slashing front line staff wages, along with the shipping out of Barnet services and jobs to call centres hundreds of miles away. Can in no way be interpreted as an improvement, or attempt to improve a service, or protect front line services as is claimed.

So your claim that you want high quality services whilst supporting the devaluation of staff skills, and the shipping out of Barnet residents jobs and establishing call centres up north , calls to be answered by folk who probably don't even know where Barnet is and probably care even less, makes a nonsense of your claims.
John Sullivan is a Barnet resident and parent/carer. Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye. 

1 comment:

Ron said...

As usual, John hit the nail on the head, and judging from the quality of arguments presented in Freer's article, the head of the nail is bigger then his.