Breaking news One Barnet rejects Joint Venture for DRS

Dear Colleagues

Yesterday I submitted questions on the Joint Venture proposals for DRS and I promised to report back on the answers today.  

I have attended hundreds of council meetings and seen many things in my time as Branch Secretary, but last night I was genuinely shocked. Last night the Leader was asked by the Chair of the committee for his views about the Joint Venture for DRS. He denied ever seeing a case for a JV. A number of us in the public gallery nearly fell off our seats. So he was asked several times by Labour councillors to clarify as to whether the Council were recommending a Joint Venture to the Bidders and each time the resounding answer was no.  

Eventually the Chair was asked by one of the Labour councillors as to why the staff had been informed the Council was recommending a Joint Venture. What happened next was the Chair denied he had seen such an email and turned to his colleagues and checked with them and they all agreed they had not seen this email.  You don’t have to believe my report because this is all very soon gone to be available for everyone to watch on You Tube. If members want to get an idea of what took place last night I would suggest you Google the “Monty Python Dead Parrot” because the Joint Venture is dead.  

UNISON is not allowed to speak at these meetings but I had the emails on my phone and I would like everyone to take a look at the quotes below.  

1. “As a result we have decided to form a Joint Venture organisation with the successful bidder, which provides an effective basis on which the Council can benefit from these opportunities and at the same time it gives the Council greater rights of transparency and control.  What this means is that the successful bidder and the Council will form a new organisation in which both have an interest.  This new organisation will then contract with the Council to provide the DRS services.  The Joint Venture approach does not change the approach to TUPE of staff or weaken any of the commitments given – staff would TUPE into the new organisation rather than to the commercial partner.  We shall provide further information on the Joint Venture in the next week however as ever you are welcome to ask any questions you may have regarding this or other elements of the DRS procurement” (17 August 2012) 

2. “However, Daniel Thomas, deputy leader and cabinet member for resources, said that a joint venture had always been an option for the officers and would give the council more control over the DRS.

He pointed out that Barnet would be the first council to outsource its regulatory services and officers needed to be cautious. “We are talking about creating a new model for outsourcing,” he said.

It doesn’t surprise me that the first vendor for this service would be a shared organisation. It gives the council more control.”

(Barnet Press 23 August 

 3. “DRS Joint Venture proposal – Staff Update

Following my DRS fortnightly email last week I have set out further details on the joint venture below:-

What is the decision making process around the joint venture?

The joint venture has been an option considered by the project Board over the last 2 years and has featured in the options appraisal and business case.  Although initially our preference was for a Strategic Partnership, the JV has developed as a progressively more attractive option following detailed discussions with bidders.  As a result the project Board recommended to Corporate Directors Group that this be formally advanced in discussions with bidders and indeed is currently our preferred option.  Following evaluation the final option, along with the preferred bidder, will be presented as a recommendation to Cabinet in the New Year. Cabinet will then take the final decision on whether to award the contract, the preferred bidder and the joint venture approach.

What does the joint venture approach mean in practice?

A new organisation would be formed by the Council and the successful bidder.  The Council would have a minority interest in this organisation and would appoint a small number of individuals to the senior management team of the new organisation.  This organisation would then contract with the Council to provide the DRS services.

Does this reduce any of my TUPE rights?

No.  In scope staff would TUPE into the joint venture organisation, and this would be on the same conditions as have been previously set out.  The obligations of the joint venture organisation would be backed up by the successful bidder’s parent company.

Who would my employer be?

The joint venture organisation.” (23 August 2012)

Including in the above is also a statement in the local press by the Deputy leader supporting the Joint venture, yet last night it was if this had never been said. On 23 August, I attended a meeting with the DRS senior management, I asked if the the reports were true and I was very clearly told the Council was recomending a Joint Venture model for service delivery.

I am sure that many of you will not believe what you are reading and I await with interest the DRS weekly message.

Straight after the meeting I approached the Leader to express my concern.

More to report tomorrow.

Final Reminder UNISON lunchtime meeting Tuesday 25 September12 noon  Conference Room 1 – lunch provided.

Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary.