Today, Barnet Council have announced they have selected Capita as the winner of the Development and Regulatory Services (DRS) contract. This is the second large contract to be awarded to Capita and now gives them control over most of what the Council actually delivers. Just for those of you who are still unaware of what this contract includes it is the following (as set out in the original tender notice):
"Services furnished by business, professional and specialist organisations. Land management services.Architectural, engineering and planning services. Technical planning services. Urban planning and landscape architectural services. Architectural services for buildings. Miscellaneous building structures. Housing services. Development of residential real estate. Feasibility study, advisory service, analysis. Project and design preparation, estimation of costs. Draft plans (systems and integration). Calculation of costs, monitoring of costs. Approval plans, working drawings and specifications. Determining and listing of quantities in construction. Supervision of building work. Supervision of project and documentation. Architectural, engineering and surveying services. Architectural and building-surveying services. Construction management services. Funeral and related services. Funeral services. Cemetery services and cremation services. Cemetery services.Cemetery maintenance services. Cremation services. Work environment services. Civic-amenity services. Car park management services. Civic betterment and community facility support services. Facility related sanitation services. Disinfecting and exterminating services. Pest-control services. Rat-disinfestation services. Fumigation services. Services related to noise pollution. Noise control services. Noise pollution protection services. Noise pollution monitoring services. Noise pollution advisory services. Environmental institution building or planning.Environmental issues consultancy services. Environmental planning. Urban environmental development planning. Environmental services. Environmental management. Environmental impact assessment other than for construction. Risk or hazard assessment other than for construction. Environmental standards other than for construction. Environmental indicators analysis other than for construction. Environmental Impact Assessment EIA services other than for construction. Environmental monitoring other than for construction. Highways engineering services. Highways consultancy services. Administrative housing services. General public services.Administration services. Engineering design services for the construction of civil engineering works. Quantity surveying services for civil engineering works. Health and safety services. Health and safety consultancy services. Advisory and consultative engineering services. Building services. Building-fabric consultancy services. Building consultancy services. Building services consultancy services. Building surveying services.Building-inspection services. Infrastructure works consultancy services. Structural engineering consultancy services. Environmental engineering consultancy services. Noise-control consultancy services. Environmental impact assessment for construction. Risk or hazard assessment for construction. Environmental standards for construction. Environmental indicators analysis for construction. Environmental impact assessment (EIA) services for construction. Environmental monitoring for construction. Commissioning of public lighting installations. Structures and parts of structures. Structures and parts. Miscellaneous structures. Parts of structures. Road traffic-control equipment. Traffic control services. Traffic monitoring services. Records management. Road transport services. Public road transport services. Support services for land transport. The London Borough of Barnet is looking for a Strategic Partner (SP), single bidder or consortium, to transform the delivery of its Development and Regulatory Services. The London Borough of Barnet wishes to work with the SP to provide a joined-up environmental regulation, design and management function that will develop and maintain the quality of the built environment and help to ensure the health and well being of our citizens. The services in scope are as follows: Strategic Services:
— Strategic planning and housing strategy,
— Highways transport and regeneration,
— Highways strategy operational services:
—— Building control and structures,
—— Planning development management,
—— Land charges,
— Highways network management,
— Highways traffic and development public health, consumer and regulatory services,
— Environmental health,
— Trading standards & licensing,
— Cemetery & crematorium".
(The registration and nationality services were originally included but have subsequently been excluded from the contract)
The services will be run as a joint venture - but we forbidden from knowing what that means or how it is structured and the contract will run for 10 years. We have been told it will save £3.9 million a year and that staffing will be kept at "broadly the current level" whatever that means. However everything associated with this contract is shrouded in secrecy because it is "commercially sensitive".
The residents of Barnet were never consulted on this matter (Justice Underhill says so) and we are unlikely to ever know the details. Ten people have now awarded two contracts worth around £500 million with the potential for significantly more and we, as residents, have no say.
And were these services terrible when the outsourcing was first envisaged. No, actually they were highly rated and efficient but that is no what this process is all about. It is about political dogma. George Osborne will be able to claim a whole load more private sector jobs have been created because every job outsourced to the private sector is claimed as a new private sector job forgetting that it is a job lost in the public sector. Now you will know next time the Conservatives claim they have created a million new private sector jobs exactly where they came from.
What gets to me most of all is the calibre of the politicians making these decisions, or as Brian Coleman put it "Young boys who are keen but don’t have the time because they are busy
building their careers or relationships, or sad old
pensioners who just won’t go away". All the analysis has been left to faceless consultants whose names we are not allowed to know, who have no connection with the borough and who won't be around when it all goes wrong.
This is not democracy and it is wrong.