On Tuesday 30 July 2019, 7pm in Hendon Town Hall, Barnet Council will vote on a proposal that in will restrict Barnet residents’ ability to ask questions and speak at future Council Committee meetings.
The London Borough of Barnet has a wealth of community activism which includes Barnet Bloggers (Mr Reasonable, Mrs Angry, Mr Mustard and Barnet Eye) and Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) to name just a few.
Their contributions over the last decade have largely been supportive of the services our members provide.
However, their contribution to future committees will virtually cease if the proposed rule change is passed at Full Council on 30 July 2019.
Barnet residents have responded by setting up a petition entitled “Stop Barnet Council From Gagging Residents”
You and read and sign in solidarity by clicking on this link here
Barnet UNISON is asking members to show solidarity by joining Barnet residents on Tuesday 30 July outside Hendon Town Hall from 6 pm onwards.
Barnet UNISON notes the dangers air pollution can have on our members working in Barnet.
We have already started discussions with Barnet Council about what can be done to mitigate the dangers of breathing in polluted air.
It is important our members understand the risks and what measures their employer can take to help both mitigate and or reduce the risk of air pollution.
The following video entitled “Breathe Life – How air pollution impacts your body” was made by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It is a short and easy to understand video.
There is a Climate Emergency and it is impacting on all of us now. It would be wrong to ignore it. Action is needed now. Please keep up to date by ensuring you receive our weekly Barnet UNISON eNews email by contacting the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email email@example.com
Colindale office UNISON H&S Inspection
Barnet Group to move staff and operations from Barnet House to new office site in Colindale. Move to commence June 2019.
UNISON representatives from the Barnet Group undertook a Health and Safety Inspection of the new site 12/4/19.
Housing Options Reception
Current arrangements – Barnet House
Client’s visiting Housing Options are initially held on the ground floor.
This means they can be searched away from Housing Options staff, and for security to confirm who has an appointment.
If there is an incident on the 2nd floor, clients can be held downstairs.
There is also space for client’s to wait and call Housing Options if they don’t have an appointment (as Housing Options is appointment only), although in some cases clients use phones on the second floor to contact benefit advisers etc.
UNISON notes that part of current security arrangements mean that when clients initially arrive at the building they can only gain access to the 2nd floor prior to being searched, and that the one member of reception staff on the ground floor is behind protective glass.
Current statistics on Barnet House anti-social, verbal and physical abuse incidents are too low – UNISON is concerned that there is a culture where abuse of staff is tolerated and incidents not recorded.
Proposed arrangements – Colindale
The proposed new reception has entrances straight from the street with clients queuing up and being searched in the reception area.
UNISON has been informed that there will be no barriers by the entrance, however there will be a reception desk with one or two security guards [to be confirmed], and a side room for more extensive searches.
Total security presence on the ground floor Housing Options Reception area has, as yet to be identified.
- As there is no protective barrier between clients and staff, clients could throw objects or liquids at staff without/before being searched.
- A violent client can push past security and gain access to staff without being searched.
- Customers in winter will not want to queue outside meaning they will be in the reception and potentially have access to staff without being searched.
- If there is an incident that requires security staff to deal with a violent client, there is no provision to stop other clients from entering the building.
- No way of stopping the flow of people to the entrance from outside the building whilst an incident is being managed.
- Housing Options regularly have violent clients who need to be removed from the building, there will be a safety issue in removing a disruptive client if other clients are queuing at the entrance.
- Housing Options clients include a high proportion of very vulnerable people, including children, who can be waiting the majority of the day for temporary accommodation – this will be unmanageable in the small space provided.
- Housing Options staff deal with many victims of domestic violence who may be fleeing violent and abusive partners. At the moment the proposed seating arrangements for people waiting for temporary accommodation mean that clients would be visible from the street through the large glass walls. This could potentially put both the victim of abuse and staff and other clients in danger if the perpetrator of the abuse sees them and would be traumatic for the vulnerable client.
- If a client doesn’t have an appointment there appears to be no place where they can call Housing Options to be triaged and assessed prior to seeing a member of staff. This needs to be resolved.
- General issues of safety in such a small space given that on a busy day Housing Options staff can have up to five or six families waiting to be seen by staff at any time, as well as families waiting for temporary accommodation.
- There does not seem to be any thought been given to the ‘maximum’ number of people that can be in the Housing Options Reception area at any one time.
- The Housing Options reception will be shared with Officers from Rental Income, Neighbourhood Housing, Antisocial Behaviour Officers and Leasehold Officers as the only secure interview space for staff to meet with customers. This will lead to severe delays in clients being interviewed. Staff may be tempted or feel pressurised into interviewing clients elsewhere in an unsafe environment due to lack of resources.
- Barnet Group Health and Safety Officers have not been given the opportunity to complete a joint inspection with UNISON.
- As there will be very limited space/privacy, clients visiting the interview area may be put in the position of having to disclose personal information and details which could be overheard by other members of the public, breaching Data Protection guidelines.
- There seems to be a lack of toilet facilities for clients in the Reception area and none in the waiting area.
- Fire safety – Number of Fire Points. No fire safety documentation has been provided, as yet, in regard to the number of fire call points in each area.
- Disabled access – Unison request more details on this, particularly emergency procedures and evacuation protocols.
- UNISON is in ongoing dialogue with the Council and facilities in regard to evacuation protocol and PEEPs [see attached Appendix]
General Building Health and Safety Concerns
- No details available/provided of the building Temperature Control system.
- Toilets – at least one single gender toilet should be provided – Cubicles seem quite small for those who may need to wash upper bodies before prayer also wash hand basins are very small. Disabled toilets (public) Access? Mobility WCs should have grab aids on both sides of pan – not all users transfer from same side.
- Security arrangements for main building – can this be confirmed and Risk Assessments shared.
- Currently no provision where other Barnet Homes staff [not Housing Options] will be able to interview visitors. Lease Hold Services currently have visitors who drop off Right to Buy applications and attend RTB interviews and financial interviews. Rental Income Team, Neighbourhood Housing and Antisocial Behaviour Officers will need access to secure interview areas. Operations guidelines for these services need to be identified and fully Risk Assessed before the service is implemented.
- Main reception – the entrance doors partially obscured by stairs to 1st floor and a pillar, what security provision has been made to cover the ‘blind spot’?
- Roof garden – railings on the roof are low and easily accessible.
- Originally staff were advised that teams would have designated areas of work and on plans these were shaded in. UNISON has now been informed that all areas are hot desks. Does this mean that those who work from 10am will never get a desk?
- Cycle parking seems to be very limited – not under cover and just the metal hoop types – as the Barnet Group and the Council is encouraging staff to cycle to work more will need to be provided.
- Car parking Areas are located some distance from the main building – staff safety in walking to these areas needs to be Risk Assessed and shared.
- Car parks – need to be inspected for adequate lighting – it is unclear if any other safety measures will be put in place [such as CCTV] before the building becomes operational.
As there is no filter system for members of the public on entering the reception area clients will have to disclose personal details to security/reception and be overheard by other members of the public. The Barnet Group may be in held in breach of General Data Protection Regulations should a member of the public/client make a complaint.
Safeguarding of vulnerable clients visiting the Housing Options reception area is a priority – if victims of domestic abuse don’t feel safe to access council services and be seen by an Officer without the possibility of the perpetrator of the abuse seeing them then they won’t do it.
There is an overriding detrimental concern for Barnet Group staff Health and Safety putting the Barnet Group in legal jeopardy.
In addition, the Health and Safety of the Public could be put at risk leaving the Barnet Group open to litigation.
Staff in Housing Options have made it clear to UNISON that the proposed reception area is fundamentally unsafe.
As previously identified the recording/reporting of incidents at the Barnet House Reception is poor – This cannot continue at the new site.
UNISON is given to understand that many of these issues have been raised by staff and line-managers across the whole of Housing Options, but as yet the concerns have not been addressed.
If frontline staff are essentially expected to work in a dangerous environment UNISON will be left with no alternative other than to act on members concerns, inevitably leading to a breakdown in Industrial Relations, if the identified risks are not addressed before Housing Options reception becomes operational.
- Meaningful dialogue between UNISON, management and staff in regard to Housing Options reception to resolve the issues identified and the suitability of the Colindale site.
- Security provision to be identified and established, (including lines of reporting and training) and fully Risk Assessed before the building becomes operational.
- Public access procedures identified and fully Risk Assessed.
- Anti-social behaviour policy in regard to prospective clients to be produced and a zero tolerance of abuse towards staff to be implemented.
- Risk Assessments for the reception and interview areas, including those for violent and abusive members of the public to be completed.
- A further joint UNISON Health and Safety inspection in conjunction with Barnet Group Health and Safety Officers to be arranged to assess risks to staff and the public before the building becomes operational.
- UNISON to work in conjunction with Barnet Group Health and Safety Officers to encourage staff and managers to record/report any incidents of physical and verbal abuse. UNISON and Barnet Group H&S to co-operate, investigate cases of concern and produce joint recommendations.
- Safeguarding of vulnerable clients to be acknowledged and addressed contacting the Safeguarding team at the Council about the risk to vulnerable adults, children and the victims of domestic abuse visiting the Colindale site would be recommended.
- General Data Protection Regulation issues to be acknowledged and measures put in place to minimise risk.
- UNISON suggests that Housing Options clients use the main council reception when they first arrive, enabling clients to be filtered to the Housing Options reception once it has been confirmed that they are due to be seen by an Officer. This would significantly reduce the flow of people through the main Housing Options front entrance, It would also have the bonus of freeing up space as clients could wait in the main reception for temporary accommodation and the officers from the TA team (soon to be Housing Solutions team) come straight down in the lift to the main reception area . This would be a better solution for clients as there is a Costa Coffee in the foyer for their use while waiting to be seen.
Given the unpredictable nature of Housing Options operations as the tragic incident on the 2nd floor last year demonstrated – UNISON recommends that the concerns of staff, managers and Trade Unions should be fully addressed and the suitability of the proposed Colindale site fully assessed before the Housing Options Reception Area becomes operational.
No, this is not an April Fools joke it is for real.
Barnet UNISON have been informed that our members who work for Grounds Maintenance have been told as from Monday 1 April that they will no longer providing the following services for Barnet War Memorials and Closed Churchyards
- Weed spraying
- Shrub Prune
- Remembrance Sunday works
- Grass Cutting
- Hedge Cutting
- Planting Weeding and maintaining annual bedding
To the best of our knowledge this decision has not been subject to any public consultation the sites affected are as follows.
- Bells Hill Burial Ground
- Christ Church yard , St Albans road
- East Barnet Village War Memorial
- Golders Green War Memorial
- Holy Trinity Church yard
- Ridgeway War Memorial
- St James’ Church yard
- St Marchs Church
- ST Mary’s Church Green
- St Marys Church Yard /Church End.
- John the Baptist C.O.E
- Station Road War Memorial
At the time of this post Barnet UNISON has asked the following:
- Which Council department proposed the termination of the services?
- When did the public consultation take place for this proposal?
- Where was this saving identified in the recently agreed Councils Medium Term Financial Strategy 5 March 2019?
- Are there any Health and Safety risks as a result of the termination of this service?
Important Update for Barnet UNISON Bin workers
Dear Waste and Recycling Barnet UNISON members
First of all I want to say that you are all doing an incredible job.
I know that you have had no influence on the bin collection changes and that you have tried to tell the Council about the things that are not working over the last 11 weeks. .
I know many of you simply want to be able to go to work, complete your task, finish, and go home.
Unfortunately the bin collection changes has brought significant problems for residents and staff.
What has Barnet UNISON been doing?
Barnet UNISON has had conversations with senior manager and Leader of Barnet Council.
Unfortunately the discussions we are having about the bin changes are limited because the information we require from management has not been provided.
We used to meet with management once a week at the Oakleigh depot, this was changed by management to fortnightly and now it is over a month (12 December 2018) since we last met.
What is wrong with the rounds?
The simple answer is we don’t know.
Only earlier this week we asked for information about all the rounds in ordee we can carefully go through each round in order to try to understand what is going on,
Unfortunately senior management are unable to provide this information at this time. This is what they said at our last meeting on 12 December 2018.
What do the workers say?
Over the last 11 weeks we have received the following feedback from our members.
Not in any particular order:
- Because of the split depots and the traveling time to and from rounds and to and from tipping stations (Hendon and Edmonton) area based working does not appear to work.
- The Round sheets were wrong from day one and are still wrong, which is frustrating for the drivers.
- Work has been taken off some rounds, but it is still showing on round sheets, no one appears to know why this is happening?
- The maps were wrong from day one and are still wrong.
- Assisted collections are still wrong.
- Route and round risk assessments have not been done
- The mileage being walked by the loaders is too great.
- The rounds are too big.
- Putting agency staff on the same round who don’t know the borough, don’t know where they’re going and who have had no banksman training is very dangerous.
- The trade rounds are too big and having only one loader is very dangerous, with R.A.T.S left uncollected for weeks because a big vehicle just can’t get in the alleyways.
- Restricted access rounds have been biggest problem, again because big vehicles just can’t get into small locations.
- Flat rounds have been a big problem, again because of access problems and the sheer volume of tonnage involved.
- Green waste rounds have been impossible to complete even a single day because of the size of the rounds.
- No lessons have been learnt from previous years about Xmas collections and the sheer volume of waste and Xmas trees to be collected.
- Bulking area problems, not helped by off-hiring1 artic cab, deleting 1 job and using the other 2 staff to drive refuse rounds, leaving 1 worker to run site.
- Too much recycling for the area to cope with, so it is up to the roof and left on site overnight. Add to this tons of green waste tipped in unsuitable holding bays also left on site overnight.
- Not all staff trained on new vehicles.
- Vehicles left full overnight and not fuelled up, causing knock on effects for the morning crews, also rat damage and fitters unable to do repairs, servicing and MOT’s.
- When work is left uncompleted, no proper procedures in place to identify what’s been left and on what round or road, with sometimes several crews sent out to clear up only to find work has already been cleared.
- No way of monitoring tonnages.
- Supervisors and managers unable to do their jobs because they have been out loading or driving.
- No procedures in place to pick up loaders to drop them off to other rounds to help them or take them back to the depot.
- Bin deliveries regularly cancelled
- Clinical waste regularly cancelled
- Hazard round too big to complete and regularly cancelled
- Fear some staff working over their driving and working hours to clear up work.
- Staff being abused by members of the public because of their frustration
- Members of the public reporting they can’t get through on the help lines and when they do no one gets back to them.
- Staff off sick with stress, depression and injuries.
- Household waste left uncollected for weeks.
- Trade waste left uncollected for weeks
- Flats left uncollected for weeks
- Green waste left uncollected for weeks/months
- Drivers coming from Harrow to pick up loader or vehicles in Oakleigh depot
- No shunts have been available
- Occasions where there may be up to 6 vehicles working on the same road
- Saturday and Sunday working almost since the new service started.
- High level of agency staff at both depots
- Lack of keys or FOB’s or codes on round sheets
- Some support crews cancelled
- Emptying refuse, recycling and green waste into same vehicle
Barnet UNISON Bin workers please check
If there is anything we have missed or there is something you want us to bring up in our meetings with management, please contact the Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Digital support links below
|Type of application||Application||What does it do?||Cost||Notes|
|Mental Health Wellbeing||Headspace||Simple to use meditation app, can help with many mental health issues (i.e. anxiety or insomnia)||10 day free basics course. In-app purchases afterwards.||Suggested by LD team
Barnet Voice believe this is the best app
|Chill Panda||Measures your heart rate and suggests tasks to suit your state of mind, including breathing techniques and light exercises to take your mind off your worries. Being tested by the NHS.||Free on the Apple store|
|Cove||Allows users to create music to capture their mood and emotions. Users can store their music on a personal journal, or send them to others.||Free from the Apple store|
|ieso||ieso is an online course using instant messaging for people with mental health problems. This is a confidential service that puts people in touch with a therapist trained in cognitive behavioural therapy.||Currently not available in Barnet (available in Camden and Enfield)||LD team suggest we omit|
|Reasons2||Free app designed by Young People and Washington Mind to help improve mental health. Allows people build their own profile of Reasons2 feel better.||Free from Apple store and Google play|
|Cypher||This is an anonymous peer-to-peer social network, that allows people to:
· anonymously share their thoughts and feelings
· post comments, ‘hugs’, ‘hearts’, and ‘me2s’ on what others share
· instant message others in their support network
· use the “Get support” function to connect with other support organisations
· pick a virtual pet who gets happier the more good you do
This is currently being tested by the NHS.
|Free from Apple store and Google play|
|EleFriends||Online community developed by Mind. Moderated from 10am until midnight.||Free from Apple store and Google play|
|RCPsych Mental Health App||Provides information about key mental health disorders and links to relevant videos and podcasts||Free from Apple store and Google play|
|Five Ways to Wellbeing||App gives user ability to set wellbeing activities to complete throughout the week and reflect on progress.||Free on google play|
|Wrap – Wellness Recovery Plan||WRAP involves listing your personal resources (Wellness Tools) and using these to create Action Plans, to use in specific situations. Developed by a group of people who have lived experience of mental health difficulties.||£4.99 on Apple Store and £3.03 on google play.|
|Happier||Apple Watch app that is like your personal mindfulness coach – use it to lit your mood, take a quick mediation pause, or capture the small happy moments that you find in your day.||Free on apple store and google play|
|Diary Mood Tracker||Mood diary, that allows you to keep a track of your moods through icons and notes. This can help you understand your habits better.||Free on apple store and google play|
|Depression and Anxiety||SilverCloud||Eight-week course to help people manage stress, anxiety and depression. Users work through a series of topics selected by therapists to address specific needs.||Only available via an NHS referral or some non-NHS organisations, such as universities.|
|Stress & Anxiety Companion||Helps people to handle stress and anxiety from a mobile app. Includes breathing exercises, relaxing music and games.||Free on the Apple store|
|Catch it||Helps people manage feelings such as anxiety and depression. The app records the user’s mood in three steps:
· “Catch it” records and rates their mood
· “Check it” asks them to take a moment to reflect on what they are thinking
· “Change it” asks them to think of a better way of dealing with that problem
|Free on Apple store and Google Play|
|Big White Wall||Online community for people who are stressed, anxious or feeling low. There is also round-the-clock support from trained professionals. Users can talk anonymously to other members and take part in group or one-to-one therapy.||Not available in Barnet. Individuals can sign up for £9.99 a month.|
|FearFighter||Online course for people who struggle with phobias, panic or anxiety. Teaches you how to confront and change the thoughts that cause panic and anxiety. This teaches users to control their fears by gradually being exposed to situations that trigger them.||Unclear if offered for free in Barnet. Privately, users can sign up for between £99 and £179.||LD team suggest we remove this|
|Calm Harm||An app designed to help people resist or manage the urge to self-harm. Based on the principles of dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) – a type of talking therapy. Encourages users to distract themselves from urges to self-harm and manage their “emotional mind” in a more positive way.||Free from the Apple store|
|Mental Health Recovery Guide||If you suffer from depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, and if you are a mental health outpatient, or a newly discharged psychiatric in-patient, this app will help you get well and stay well.||Free on apple store and google play|
|WellMind||Free NHS mental health and wellbeing app that helps with stress, anxiety and depression. Includes advice, tips and tools.||Free on apple store and google play|
|What’s Up?||Utilises Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) methods to help you cope with depression, anxiety, anger and stress.||Free on apple store and google play|
|SAM: Self-help for Anxiety Management||App to help you understand and manage anxiety. You can monitor your anxious thoughts and behaviour over time. Includes self-help exercises, private reflection and the “social cloud”, which enables you to share your experiences on the SAM community while protecting your identity.||Free on apple store and google play|
|Mood Tools – Depression Aid||Designed to alleviate negative moods. The app includes a thought diary, activities, a suicide safety plan and depression tests.||Free on google play|
|Fear Tools – Anxiety Kit||Designed to combat anxiety. Especially useful for those suffering from Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Phobias and Social Anxiety Disorder. The app includes a thought diary, an exposure programme to overcome fears and a breathing tool.||Free on google play|
|Anxious Minds||This app includes a support group, online peer support sessions, advice and tips and blogs written by anxiety sufferers.||Free on google play|
|Talking Point||Online community for anyone affected by dementia. The app is a space for people to ask questions and share experiences about any aspect of dementia.||Free website|
|Recovery Record – Eating Disorder App||App for managing your journey to recovery from eating disorders including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Intended for people with general eating, weight and shape concerns. This is based on CBT. You can keep a record of your meals, and link this with your treatemend team.||Free on apple store and google play|
Following the tragic incident at Barnet House on the 15th of August Barnet UNISON raised our concerns about Fire Safety and Security at the building
These concerns included the failure of the alarm to sound throughout the building, including the area where the fire broke out. We also have concerns about the evacuation.
Since then UNISON members who were working in the building, including the area and adjacent meeting rooms where the fire broke have come to us and reported they did not hear a fire alarm, and the first they knew of the emergency was when they saw smoke and flames. We reported this to the Council who took two weeks to confirm that one of the alarm points in the area where the fire broke out did not work and that the other had a planned 10 second delay.
On the 31st of August the Council removed the faulty fire alarm point leaving a sole alarm point in the area, citing that this fitted in with regulatory minimum requirements.
On the 31st of August UNISON asked the Council:
- While the regulations are that one should have to travel no more than 45 metres to reach a fire alarm point, it would be good practice for this distance to be reduced in the reception area on the second floor as people with limited mobility use the area
- Why is there a delay between using the single remaining alarm point in the reception area on the second floor and the sounding of the alarm?
- Are there other fire alarm points in Barnet House where there is a delay between operation and sounding?
- Will the removed fire alarm point be replaced?
- When were the fire alarm points in the reception area on the second floor last tested? The last record of the fire alarm point being tested is dated 16.3.18.
- How and how often are the fire points tested?
- Have the number of fire points been reduced in Barnet House over the last ten years?
To date there has been no response from the Council.
This morning following the Fire Alarm test at Barnet House the Alarm continued to sound in some parts of the Building. This led to some people evacuating the building at the same time as others were entering. This situation led to confusion and worry for colleagues particularly for those who witnessed the fire in August. We have reports that staff on the third floor were told to evacuate. There was confusion over evacuations instructions on the walkie talkies and some staff evacuated and others didn’t.
The faulty alarm continued from 10.05 am to 10.37am.
Following this UNISON asked the Council why this happened and for confirmation that the fire alarm system was working.
The Council has not given this confirmation.
We therefore have no trust or confidence in the Fire Safety arrangements at Barnet House.
It is UNISON’s view that until the Council prove that the Fire Alarm can be heard in every part of the building and that every fire alarm in the building works then Barnet House is an unsafe place and people should neither work in it nor visit the site.
Our health and safety demands are as follows:
- A trade union rep accompanies the testing of each Fire Alarm point in Barnet House.
- On the second floor the fire alarm removed is replaced as a matter of urgency
- The fire alarms which have a ten second delay are replaced with Fire Alarms that go off immediately.
- Immediate alternative working arrangements off site set up immediately pending the resolution of the fire alarm system and evacuation plan issues.
Barnet UNISON has no higher priority than the safety of our members and that of the public whom they serve.
We will update on safety at Barnet House as there are developments.
We have written to John Hooton Chief Executive, Tim Mulvenna Chief Executive Barnet Group, Mark Dally, Partnership Director, Capita.
If you need advice or support please contact the Barnet UNISON office on email@example.com
ATTENTION all Barnet UNISON members.
You are probably aware of the incident that occurred on 2nd floor reception on Wednesday 15 August 2018.
If you have anything that you feel you would like to report or discuss in confidence, please come to the UNISON office and speak to our Branch Health & Safety Officer Hugh Jordan Hugh.firstname.lastname@example.org
Barnet UNISON are working with Barnet Group H&S, chiefly Ben Wildman along with Capita H&S and Facilities to address any failures which may have led to, or exacerbated the incident.
Barnet Homes have put counselling in place for staff who witnessed the incident, but ANY staff who feel they would like to talk to someone, please do not hesitate to contact the UNISON office on the first floor.
The Health & Safety of UNISON members at work is our top priority.