Barnet outsourcing contract review postponed by election

BARNET Council has postponed a meeting to review its outsourcing contract with joint venture Re until after the General Election on 8 June.

Re, a partnership between the council and Capital Business Services, delivers services including highways, planning, regeneration, environmental health and trading standards, as well as running the Hendon Cemetery and Crematorium. The 10-year JV launched in 2013.

A cross-party working group of councillors are conducting a review of the Re contract and have asked for residents’ views on using its services.

The meeting to allow members of the public to present their views to the panel was due to take place at Hendon Town Hall on 25 April.

However, the council said that under the Local Government Act 1986, a public meeting of this nature is highly likely to breach the law governing the conduct of councils and councillors in the run-up to a General Election.

The meeting will now take place on Monday 26 June. The deadline for submissions has been extended until Wednesday 21 June.

When the review was first announced, council leader Cllr Richard Cornelius said: “This review is an opportunity to pause and reflect on these services and decide which parts of the contract are performing well and giving us good value for money and where there is room for improvement.

“As taxpayers, it’s important residents have an opportunity to give us their views. The review will make sure the services being provided are fit for purpose, both now and in the future, as demand on our services changes.”

The council has said Re will save taxpayers an average of £4m a year over the life of the contract while delivering service improvements.

However, the JV has been criticised by union Unison for being more bureaucratic and expensive.

Figures from Barnet Unison, quoted by the Times series, show spending on the Re contract was £9.37m higher than planned in 2015-16 and is £8.96m higher so far in 2016-17.