Last night in Hendon
March 3, 2011 4 Comments
Last night (2 March 2011), I presented two papers at Cabinet Resource Committee, the committee that considers reports of a financial nature. (I’m aware that the way the council makes decisions isn’t clear to everyone, so I’ll try and explain the purpose of the various committees, meetings and processes as I mention them). The committee dealt with all agenda items very quickly, so I thought it would be helpful to go into a bit more detail.
The first paper I presented urged that the committee accepted the recommendations of the Customer Services Organisation and New Support Organisation options appraisal. The options appraisal process is used by the council to identify and evaluate the various choices that are available when thinking about how to change a council service. A joint options appraisal took place to consider how we should deliver customer and support services.
The Customer Services Organisation and New Support Organisation projects are part of the One Barnet council transformation programme. The options appraisal recommends that the council finds a strategic partner to deliver seven services; reorganises and improves four of those services prior to the transfer to a strategic partner; and transforms one service in house. The committee accepted these recommendations and we will now be putting together a business case for these services.
There are a several reasons why working with an external provider to deliver services is beneficial for the council, these include: private sector investment, something that is increasingly important now we will be operating with a reduced budget; access to expertise and knowledge not available within the council; improved technology; and reduced costs due to economies of scale.
The second paper sought Cabinet approval to update Registration and Nationality fees and charges from April 2011. Broadly speaking, we are bringing charges for weddings, and nationality and settlement checking in line with the market rate, specifically the rates charged in neighbouring boroughs. The fees we charge to perform a marriage ceremony on a Monday to Friday don’t cover our costs, so an increase is definitely required. At the moment it only costs £40 to get married on a Monday or Tuesday!
There was also a paper about the Award of the One Barnet Legal Partner Contract. The paper concerned the appointment of an external legal firm to work on the One Barnet programme. It is important that we have access to expert legal advice, particularly with complex projects that involve procurement and contract management. The recent media coverage of the previous administration’s botched contract with Catalyst is a timely reminder of how costly it can be when things don’t go according to plan.