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Vigil to support legal challenge against Barnet council privatisation

Many people will have followed - especially at the end of last year - the fight put up by Barnet residents, unions, bloggers and campaigners to stop the mass-outsourcing of council services. The council went ahead with the first of its big contracts with Capita anyway.

In this post, Barnet Alliance outlines upcoming actions against that privatisation, which start with a vigil at the Royal Courts of Justice tomorrow:

Please join us outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday 19 March outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London to support Barnet resident Maria Nash who is challenging Barnet Council’s decision to outsource a large group of public services without properly consulting Barnet residents, the so-called One Barnet programme.

Barnet Council is effectively selling off their public services to Capita, a private company, in a single contract for a minimum of ten years, putting the quality of services at risk as profit becomes the over-riding priority.

Under the proposals, customer services will be delivered from call centres in other parts of the UK that won’t have local knowledge or connections. There are many concerns about the impact on the local economy, about risks that the promised savings will not materialise leading to further cuts to services, about the ability of the council to accurately and properly monitor services once outsourced, and about the loss of democracy the entire procedure represents.

We are already seeing the failure of the One Barnet programme as staff working with disabled people through the Your Choice Barnet local authority trading company are having their terms and conditions slashed because the enterprise has not delivered the profits it was forecast to. This is what happens when profit is put before people, yet Barnet Council is pressing ahead with its plans.

John Sullivan who is seventy years old, and father of Susan who has down's syndrome, sent an open letter to the CEO of the Barnet Group and Barnet Director of People who is in charge of Adult Social Services, expressing his concerns for the well-being of his daughter now that staffing at Your Choice is threatened.

He simply asks for his and his wife's peace of mind back:

“Like many other parents I am growing old and whilst I had peace of mind with in-house services about the future of support services for my daughter and her peers, that peace of mind has now been destroyed. I now like many others fear for the future, now profit has become king along with the fact to "be more competitive in the market place" is the benchmark rather than quality of care.

“Like many other parents and carers and people that truly care for those whose lives and future are in the hands of a very financially weak and shaky privatised LATC. I want my peace of mind back and the only way that can be achieved is to fight for the right to have the affected services brought back in-house, as was agreed from day one in the event of failure.

“Like all parents blessed with a disabled child the first concern you have is "what will happen when I die", and all I am asking is for some clarity some meaningful consultation some openness some honesty some integrity, the democratic right to be heard. That will hopefully put us on the path of the restoration of the peace of mind my wife and myself and all parents of a disabled child need, and answer my simple and very direct question "what will happen to her when I die."

Protest against One Barnet privatisation this weekend at the Barnet Spring march

This Saturday (23 March), Barnet residents, council staff, union members, bloggers and anti-privatisation campaigners will march and rally against One Barnet privatisation. Speakers include Tony Benn and Owen Jones. Find out more here.

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