Barnet Green Party calls on Barnet Council’s Conservative administration to cancel its notorious Future Shape strategy after auditors Grant Thornton criticised the policy as lacking direction.
The damning report to the council’s audit committee by a team of expert professionals highlights that council leader Lynne Hillan and her cronies don’t have the faintest idea how much money Future Shape might save, nor do they have a serious programme for implementing the scheme.
“Grant Thornton’s report shows that Future Shape, better known as easyCouncil, is a complete mess,” says Andrew Newby, who was Barnet Green Party’s candidate for Hendon in this year’s general election.
“Barnet Conservatives’ concept seems simply to be: ‘Let’s privatise as much as we can and hope it saves money’,” Newby said.
“I call on Barnet Council to cancel Future Shape and go back to the idea that local authorities exist to provide accountable, democratically-controlled services, assessed according to the needs of local residents rather than treated as a trial ground for baseless political dogmas.”
Grant Thornton’s report spells out clearly that the easyCouncil idea is all talk and no substance. The experts wrote: “The council needs to develop and agree a more fundamental mandate for the programme by developing a programme level business case that sets out the planned costs, benefits, time scales, risks and outcomes of the programme.”
Councillor Brian Coleman this week launched a typically childish tirade of insults against the organisers of the Barnet Alliance for Public Services but his outburst was no more than a desperate bid to distract attention from the fact that Future Shape is a shambles.
Newby said: “Grant Thornton’s report provides proof if any were needed that Future Shape is merely an attention-grabbing attempt to implement political dogma without a scrap of evidence that it could achieve real savings and efficiencies. Future Shape? It is definitely Shapeless and let us hope it has no Future.”
Even Coleman might be taken aback if he had any real idea of what happened at Thursday’s launch of the Alliance at the North London Business Park. Not only was the meeting well organised with a panel of prestigious speakers including film director Ken Loach, but more than 200 local people crowded the Emerald Suite to express their anger at the current threats to local schools, hospitals, social services and libraries. Hardly the “lone voices” imagined by Coleman.
Everyone went away fired up to campaign to save our vital local services and facilities.
“It became clear to me that though Tory councillors are eager to slash jobs and cut budgets, what really motivates them is privatising as many of the council’s services as possible. Council workers told the meeting of how they had asked fruitlessly for details of how outsourcing their particular operation would save money – it was obvious that there were no details,” Newby said.
Unfortunately, outsourcing privatisation often leads to greatly increased costs rather than savings, as Private Eye magazine spells out in case studies in almost every issue.
“It is far from proven that Barnet Council needs to make the humungous spending cuts that a being talked about but even if savings are necessary the first priorities should be to save jobs and avoid any hardship to people who use council services. Those are definitely not uppermost in the minds of Barnet’s Conservatives, who simply want to make a name for themselves with massive privatisations,” Newby said.