A petition calling for a public referendum on Barnet Council’s planned outsourcing programme has reached over 8,000 signatures.
The petition calls for citizens to be given the opportunity to vote for or against the council's outsourcing plan, known as One Barnet. It has already triggered a debate in council by reaching 7,000 signatories. The Conservative majority in Barnet Council voted against a referendum in the meeting.
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The One Barnet project will transfer services – including HR, payroll and IT – to Capita in a £320m contract. The One Barnet programme forms part of a total spend of £1bn on a variety of outsourcing services.
The petition reads: “We, residents of Barnet, are alarmed at the council's plan known as the One Barnet programme, to hand over our public services to private for-profit companies. We call for an immediate stop to these measures until the issue is put to the electorate in the form of a simple yes or no referendum on the One Barnet programme.”
One Barnet will also soon come under the scrutiny of the High Court after 67-year old disabled resident Maria Nash bought a case against the programme.
On March 19 2013 a senior judge will receive an application from Nash’s legal representatives, who will argue he council did not properly consult citizens. They are calling for a judicial review of the programme, which the high court will decide on.
Gerald Shamash – partner at legal firm Steel & Shamash, which is representing Nash – said the High Court will hear evidence and decide if a judicial review is required.
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“They may say ‘we give permission for a review and we think you are right' or they may give permission and say they don’t agree,” said Shamash.
Councillor Alison Moore, leader of Barnet Council's Labour opposition, said residents are outraged at the lack of consultation on One Barnet.
“Moving to a council that commissions most of its services from someone else is a fundamental change in the way local services are provided, and it will have an impact on local people, including the most vulnerable in our community," said Moore.
"Our residents deserve to be properly consulted on a change of this magnitude.
"If the Conservatives were so confident that One Barnet is the right thing to do why didn't they just ask local people?"