Cllr Longstaff comments on his invite to the Barnet Unison & BAPS Conference

Re printed with the kind permission of Cllr Longstaff – we thought you would like to see his reply to a letter from the Barnet Blogger Mr Mustard. As I do not have his permission to copy his correspondence I will just summarize that it invited Cllr Longstaff to attend a conference this Saturday organized by Barnet Unison & Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) (and yes that does make me laugh every time I read it!) – who are both left wing organisations and was in regard to our One Barnet project.

Dear ,

Thank you for your email.

You’re quite right in pointing out that I represent you, but I should point out that I also represent 15,000 other residents in High Barnet.

On Saturday I won’t be attending the conference as I’ll be at a 60th Wedding Anniversary Party, which has been in my diary for quite some time.

On the points you raise:

The number of jobs ‘exported’ isn’t clear cut. A substantial number of Barnet Council NLBP staff do not reside in the Borough. One might argue that they should, but that would be flouting several laws and limiting our choice of candidates.   

When you say ‘in-house’ bids, do you mean a management buyout or do you mean re-organisation of the internal structure to compete with the outside companies? Would the in-house bid be for the whole of an entity (like DRS) or part of an entity? Would an in-house bid, of whatever kind, have the necessary financial back-up?

As for good ideas: Balancing the budget is a good idea. As a debt collector you must know the perils and heartache that come from unsustainable debt. Ask the Labour representatives, especially former Labour MP, Andrew Dismore, why Labour didn’t keep public expenditure inline with tax revenue. Ask Unison why they didn’t lobby the government as spending spiralled out of control. Surely someone in the Labour Party or Unison must have realised there are terrible consequences associated with debts accrued to maintain Revenue expenditure? The nation now spends about as much on interest payments as it does on the NHS!

 

Getting the best possible value for all Council Tax payers is a good idea.

A relentless drive for efficiency is a good idea.

Keeping the Council Tax increases to zero or less than inflation is a good idea. Approximately 80% of Barnet Council expenditure is met through Government funding. The financial consequences of not meeting Government targets are substantial. Several hundred pounds would have had to be added to each Council Tax bill in 2010, followed by inflationary + increases in 2011 and 2012 to maintain services at 2010 levels. The demand for statutory services (1300 extra primary school places in the last three years) is increasing and would have outstripped those inflationary increases in Council Tax bills, see ‘Graph of Doom’. Do you think pensioners and struggling families would welcome that? Would anyone welcome it (see K2 tax avoidance scheme)?

I would recommend reading http://tiny.cc/bewvgw and then reflect on possible options for Barnet. The Barnet Alliance for Public Services stated aim is no cuts to any Council services, Education, Welfare Services or staffing arrangements.

At the conference, with the Barnet Alliance for Public Services aims in mind, consider the ‘Graph of Doom’ scenario, work out the Council budget and future projections for the next fifteen years, produce a detailed alternative and present it.

On the 18th June you sent out an email championing Sir Terry Leahy on what he had to say about local government management. What you didn’t mention is that in his new book, ‘Management in 10 Words’, he also advocates relentless change in the form of technological and methodological improvement.

He also goes on to say that organisations are terrible at confronting the truth. The Conservative administration at Barnet Council is confronting the truth regarding future demand on statutory services and the amount of money available to pay for it. We have produced a strategy to deal with the issues.

Regards,

Cllr. David Longstaff

 

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