It has come to our attention that an email has gone out to all staff about the JR Appeal. (See email below )
Having read the email we have the following comments.
It is not true that permission to appeal was refused, the claim did not seek permission from Underhill J. The email manages to make it sound as though the Council wanted early hearing when it was entirely down to the Council that it got listed in October. Maria’s team actively wanted and expressly sought expedition and an early hearing. It is also misleading to say “designed to delay or prevent etc.” – Maria’s claim was designed to enforce the Council’s legal obligation to consult residents. Let us not forget that the court found that the Council had not complied with its obligations: the judgment reads at paragraph 76, “if the application for judicial review had been made in time I would have held that the Council had not complied with its obligations under section 3(2) of the [Local Government Act 1999]”.
The First Team update on Tuesday set out the provisional dates set for the Appeal Court hearings of 7 and 8 October. Since then we have continued to explore with the Court whether those dates could be brought forward, but so far to no avail. We are looking at the possibility of instructing a new QC in the hope that could lead to an earlier date for a hearing, although this is still dependent on the Court listing.
We remain confident that permission to appeal will not be allowed and that the benefits to our residents will be delivered. When this is confirmed we will sign the NSCSO contract. The transfer of staff to Capita would take place shortly after.
The One Barnet programme is designed to protect and enhance our ability to serve our residents through an unprecedented period of austerity. The NSCSO contract will improve the quality of our services and will save an average of £12.5m per annum. This is £12.5m which would otherwise come largely from front-line service reductions. The DRS contract will improve the quality of our services, will save an average of £3.9m per annum which would otherwise largely come from front-line service reductions, and will create a growing Barnet-based business. Cabinet has carefully considered and approved these arrangements at all stages.
The legal action pursued by the claimant is designed to delay or prevent these arrangements coming into place. The initial application for Judicial Review was not allowed by the High Court and permission to appeal was refused. The claimant has, nevertheless, sought permission direct from the Appeal Court. The council deeply regrets this.
I am acutely aware of the challenges of continuing effective service delivery during this period of uncertainty which is not of our making. I remain very grateful for the continuing commitment of all staff affected by these projects. We will be putting additional measures in place to support the continued delivery of services during this period, and more information will be available shortly for the affected areas.
10-June-2013 - 13:30
Due to the public outrage, the Council has decided to delay the signing of the NSCSO contract with Capita until the conclusion of the legal action.
“Come, shepherd, let us make an honourable retreat;
Though not with bag and baggage, yet with scrip and scrippage.”
More on that in the Barnet Today. http://goo.gl/2fetz
The legality of the One Barnet Programme of privatising 70-90% of all council services without consultation with residents was challenged in the High Court and is awaiting an appeal hearing, scheduled to 7-8 October 2013.
We were therefore amazed to hear that the council and Capita are about to sign the contract (NSCSO) on the 14 of June, before the appeal is heard, with the risk of costing Barnet tax payers huge sums of money if and when the court will find the One Barnet Programme unlawful.
We must demand that this disrespect to the legal system is stopped.
Please send the below letter or write your own to the council’s leader, Cllr Richard Cornelius.
Dear Cllr Cornelius,
Barnet’s future is awaiting the outcome of a court decision on the legality of the outsourcing contracts of the One Barnet programme. Respect for the rule of law is a pillar of our British system of democracy. Therefore, I am alarmed to discover that the council is contemplating moving on with the contract even before the court case is concluded.
This alarm is heightened when I am told that the matter is not due to be heard until October! The One Barnet programme was challenged in a judicial review whose decision on 29 April was immediately appealed. Why this delay? Apparently because Barnet’s legal representative will not be available before that. Barnet’s own team is helping create a long delay. One Barnet is being promoted as a way of saving council money in a time of austerity. You, Richard Cornelius, the council leader, said that the delay costs “effectively another £700,000 per month” (in the Barnet Press 1-5-13). So it seems Barnet is happy to accept the costs associated with the delay rather than be firm with its lawyers and serve best the interests of its residents and tax payers.
In that time, we face the prospect of the outsourcing company - Capita - taking over the council functions and staff, with all the disruption and problems that come with such changes. The court is likely to take a dim view of this, and we residents would be up in arms. This is legally very suspect, financially to unwind this decision would be hugely expensive, and most of all it shows huge contempt for the public’s democratic rights.
The council should not defy the law in this way. It should not waste our money, and it should attend very closely to public’s view.