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Debates on issues like food regulation rage: Barnet privatises regulatory services

From Barnet Unison:

STOP the privatisation of our regulatory services!

Barnet residents, council staff, unions and bloggers have been fighting Barnet council plans to mass outsource council services - a plan the council calls One Barnet- for months.

In this blog, Barnet Unison explains why it is backing a petition to stop the privatisation of regulatory services:

Barnet Unison is backing the petition which states:

“We are concerned that Barnet Council is about to hand over its Regulatory Services (in particular the Environmental Health and Trading Standards services) to a private company.

Councils have statutory responsibilities to monitor the private sector in order to ensure the health and safety of their residents. The current high- profile national public-health scandal about processed foods emphasises that private companies do not adequately monitor their own activities, leaving the public at risk.

If Barnet Council is allowed to privatise these services, it will set a dangerous precedent for other councils. We call for an immediate stop to the privatisation of council Regulatory Services throughout the country.”

John Burgess, Barnet Unison branch secretary said:

"The recent national scandal concerning meat processing is threatening to expose a catalogue of failures by food manufacturers to monitor their own suppliers.

The lack of robust regulation and monitoring of a critical service strikes a chord with our own concerns about our council’s determination via the One Barnet Programme to outsource key critical regulatory services, such as Environmental Health & Trading Standards.

We are asking our members and their families, residents to sign this petition. Furthermore we asking all citizens of the UK to sign the petition in order to stop the privatisation of regulatory services now before it is too late."

Barnet Council is implementing a policy known as the One Barnet Programme. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘Commissioning Council’. This mass privatisation policy is designed for the council to divest itself of responsibility to deliver services to its residents.

The first One Barnet project - known as New Support Customer Services Organisation (NSCSO) - is for back office services such a Finance, Revenues & Benefits, Estates, IT, HR & Payroll etc, it is estimated to be worth up to £750 million.

This contract was awarded to Capita at the Barnet Council Cabinet Resources Committee on Thursday 6 December 2012.

The second One Barnet project is known as Development & Regulatory Services (DRS) which includes the following services:

Trading Standards & Licensing, Land Charges, Planning & Development, Building Control & Structures, Environmental Health, Highways Strategy, Highways Network Management, Highways Traffic & Development, Highways Transport & Regeneration, Strategic Planning & Regeneration, Cemeteries & Crematoria.

Both contracts are for ten years with an option to extend for a further five years.

Links
1. Fear and loathing in Barnet

2. UNISON report on Environmental Health Services summary report

3. UNISON report on Trading Standards summary report

Rally to defend services at Barnet:

Barnet spring demonstration and rally - 23 March 2013:

Join Barnet residents protesting Barnet Council’s lack of consultation over selling our public services for private profit, closing libraries, and cutting jobs and services in the borough. Meet at Finchley Central Station at 11 am for the march to Friern Barnet People’s Library starting at noon. Everyone welcome.

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