How Not To Run A Council: A Festive Special

Just a checklist to muse over when you get around to your mulled wine and mince pies in your local library, or the next Council room you decide to take over. How not to run a Council:

1)  Have no direction

One Barnet DRS. A joint venture? A strategic partnership? A joint venture. That may *possibly* but possibly not be implemented. Who knows. We’re staring down at a black box for the vast majority of what One Barnet is. Notwithstanding the fact that we don’t even know if it is still on the table. Richard Cornelius seemed oddly ambiguous about this in his Sunday Politics Show session.

2) Have no clue

Not have read the 8000 page contract that the outsourcing of £300m+ of your council services deals with – for 10 years with an option to extend for 15 years; and to delegate the decision making all to your own ‘specialist solicitors’.

Because a solicitor’s area of expertise is policy-formulation and local government decision making. Not to mention their sole democratic and elected duty. Of course.

3) Ignore everybody who doesn’t agree with you

Stick your fingers in your ears, head in the sand and go something along the lines of ‘la-la-la-la-la’ (i.e; no consultation, no straightforward answers at public questions to meetings, dictatorial top-down anti-democratic behaviour that downright refuses to listen) until, rather inevitably, you get two big fat letters telling you that you’re going to be judicially reviewed. On One Barnet, and on Friern Barnet Library.

In the same week. Oh Dear.

4) Make dodgy analogies

See Cllr. Richard Cornelius’s answer to my email here;

‘We have employed specialist solicitors to develop the contract and they have brought factors within the contract to our attention.  Most people who buy a house do not read the contract themselves but rely on expert advice. Its why we pay for it.’

I suppose if the house was built on shifting sand, you couldn’t see what it was made of, affected thousands of local residents rather than just a private contract entered into between A, B, with a bank and solicitor; and was sold on your bog-standard services contract that analogy might work. Unfortunately there are a few loose beams in this particular analogy.

5) Turn a blind eye to alleged criminality whilst claiming to act in the interests of justice

Oversee one of your local and most prominent councillors allegedly assault a local campaigner in a car park. And not do anything about it – stating that it is in the interest of justice (conveniently deployed for the first time in the lives of the Barnet Tories) for a decision to be pending until the outcome of a trial. Thus prompting the national Conservatives to come in over your head and suspend aforementioned councillor on your behalf.

6) Care not a hoot about resident needs

Giggle visibly, go completely red, and be captured on camera as your allegedly assault-happy councillor refers to members of the public gallery as the ‘mad, the bad, and two old hags’. That’s going to go down well with the disabled and/or female residents and employees you’re responsible for, isn’t it?!

7) Indiscriminately slash the front-line of services

This isn’t just about One Barnet.

Shut down a local library. Ignore public protest and opposition. And then – wait for it – leave the keys in the lock for just anybody to walk in! (according to aforementioned suspended councillor). Issue possession proceedings – so incompetently you can’t obtain summary judgement from a legal system that’s desperate to give you summary judgement.

8) Perform magic tricks – badly

Say you’re going to build a new Landmark Library. Decide you can’t be bothered with all that after all. And then move the Landmark Library (that invisible, ethereal thing) into a library that already exists. Hmm.

9) Find yourself in confrontation with your community

Have a Cabinet meeting where you are jeered, kicked out into a side room for your own Tory Group meeting, police officers grin at the campaigners opposing you, and people stand on chairs. You’ve done a fabulous job of representing your local community, haven’t you, when that happens?

For a video of this, see  this. Courtesy of Revel:

10)

I’ve left number  10 deliberately empty because I’m certain at this rate it will be filled before this year is out.

It’s a bonkers time to be a Barnet resident.

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