Good News: Street Scene service moving out of Harrow depot

Barnet UNISON will never understand how a major strategic decision like moving the Council depot was made without a viable option was available to the Council frontline services.

What happened was a classic fudge/ad hoc/make do. To put it simply it has been a disaster.

The Waste and Recycling and Street Cleansing services were split between the new depot in Oakleigh Road South and London Borough of Harrow depot.

Not only was it bad operationally it was expensive and the ongoing costs have been a constant strain on the service.

The Gritting service was also moved to Harrow and we all know what happened when we had a bad winter two years ago despite the heroic efforts of the workforce to try and make it work.

It was never going to work. The staff across all services have tried their best to make it work. The fact that staffing budgets were also cut simply added to the problem. .

What didn’t help and still doesn’t help is seeing that the Capita contracts have cashed in to the tune of £438 million since the contract started which is £165.6 million more than the contract value. Try explaining that to workers whose pay or pensions has been messed up by Capita or to the staff working at Oakleigh who have seen their branch new depot splitting like it has been hit by a minor earth quake.

What is the good news?

The good news is that the Brogans site which has been empty for a long time has been secured by Barnet Council.

This means the whole of the Waste and Recycling service is now running out of Oakleigh Depot. However we are still running Street Cleansing out of Harrow which means we are still paying rent on the Harrow site and now the Brogans site.

Depot Building works

The depot has some serious problems the subsidence has split the road and there appears to be real risk of a landslide which is something that has happened in the past. This risk was clearly sufficiently serious for the Council to arrange for buildings works to begin sometime in November this year.

Rounds changes.

As a result of the major building works at the depot there is an impact on the Bin collection service. Barnet Council has written to residents about the changes.

It is disappointing that the changes had not been run by the drivers. This mistake was made with the previous Bin collection changes.

There is nothing we can do now.

It remains to be seen if the proposed changes will work.

IMPORTANT NURSERY SCHOOLS Update from Barnet UNISON

Two joint trade union meetings have been agreed for members to discuss school budget cuts and the possible impact on members and the schools.

Tuesday 29th October at St Margaret’s at 4 pm

Thursday 31st October at Moss Hall at 4 pm

Please try to come along to one or both of the meetings

If you need advice please ring the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

 

IMPORTANT ANNOUCEMENT: Pensions Auto-enrolment in September

IMPORTANT ANNOUCEMENT: Pensions Auto-enrolment in September

All Barnet Council employees that meet all of the following criteria:

  • You earn over £192 per week (or £833 per month)
  • You are aged 22 or over and
  • You are under state pension age.

And are not already in the Pensions Scheme were enrolled into the Local Government Pension Scheme LGPS on 15 September 2019.

You will be able to see in your payslip this month just how much the Council has paid in to your Pension Pot and how much you have contributed.

This month you should receive a letter from the Council explaining why they have enrolled you into the Pension Scheme.

If you have any questions please note the dates and times of Pension briefings below.

Barnet Council wide Pension briefings:

Oakleigh Road Depot Wednesday 25th September 2019, 6am to 10am

Harrow Depot Thursday 26th September 2019, 6am to 10am

Colindale Building, Room 1.9, Friday 27th September 2019, 9am to 2:30pm

If you need any support or advice, please contact the Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Call out in solidarity for local democracy in Barnet 30 July 2019

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

https://t.co/P7sb0e3KNU?amp=1

Barnet UNISON is asking members to show solidarity by joining Barnet residents on Tuesday 30 July outside Hendon Town Hall from 6 pm onwards.

Lest we ever forget the million pound plus fraud committed by a Capita employee

Below is an extract from a report submitted to

Audit Committee 17 July 2018 


Corporate Anti-Fraud Team (CAFT) Annual Report 2018/19

(Source: https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s52410/Appendix%201%20CAFT%20Annual%20Report%201st%20April%202018%2031st%20March%202019.pdf )

2018-19 saw CAFT officers investigate and prosecute an unprecedented internal financial fraud. In Response to his officer resource was diverted from all sections within the team to deal with the investigation. The case was given the name Operation Rouble which subsequently proved to be the most challenging, complex and substantial fraud that Barnet has experienced.

  • The fraud related to two offences of ‘abuse of position’ which were committed by a Capital Investment Manager, employed by Capita and working for Regional Enterprise. The offender created instructions for CHAPS payments in excess of £2 million to be processed in relation to fictitious compulsory purchase orders.
  • The CAFT were notified in December 2017 and utilised their financial investigators powers to obtain tangible evidence which resulted in the offender being arrested and suspended within 24 hours of the investigation being initiated.
  • The criminal aspect of the investigation was evidenced and prepared for prosecution within five months which subsequently led to the successful conclusion of the case in July 2018 which saw the offender being sentenced at Harrow Crown Court to 5 years imprisonment.
  • CAFT has carried on the financial investigation and continues to do so in order to ensure all proceeds of crime are identified and recovered accordingly
  • CAFT has also worked closely with Internal Audit and Finance in relation to recommendation from the external review of financial controls and the ongoing audit testing relating to financial controls.
  • CAFT jointly conducting a payments data analytics exercise with Internal Audit in order to identify irregularities and/or make recommendations for improvement.

Further details of the investigation can be found in the noteworthy investigation section, and full details of the external review into financial control conducted by Grant Thornton is available on the council’s website Financial controls https://www.barnet.gov.uk/citizen-home/council-and-democracy/finance-and-funding/Financial-controls.html


12 months later at Policy and Resources Committee 17 June 2019 Barnet Council decided to keep both Capita contracts largely untouched with a review sometime in the future. 

 

 

Air pollution in London: Living and working in London

Barnet UNISON has a large number of members some of whom work outside for all of their time or a large part of their time in work.

The dangers of air pollution has become increasingly more worrying, numerous reports have produced data that show dangerous levels of toxins in the air.

The Times Newspaper recently published an article entitled:

“London air pollution mapped: how does your child’s school compare?”

(Source: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/london-air-pollution-mapped-how-does-your-childs-school-compare-nqxbbm8nl 9 May 2019)

 “An analysis of 2,000 school sites shows that pupils at every school in the capital are exposed to an annual average higher than 10 micrograms per cubic metre, the level recommended by the World Health Organisation.”

Barnet UNISON downloaded the data and discovered 91 Barnet schools had been exposed to air pollution which exceeded the recommended limits by the World Health Organisation.

You can download the spreadsheet by clicking the link below

Air Quality  

The following are a series of questions that our branch is seeking answers to.

  1. What toxic chemicals are in the air?
  2. What do these toxic chemicals do to our bodies?
  3. What health issues can these toxins cause?
  4. What health checks can be carried out now to test the impact of toxins in the air?
  5. Which NHS service is able to carry out health checks on the impact of air pollution?
  6. Will wearing some type of face mask or other protective equipment help mitigate the impact of air pollution?
  7. Will wearing some type of face mask or other protective equipment be better than no mask at all?
  8. Who is ultimately responsible for air pollution in London?
  9. Should the employer be responsible for carrying out risk assessments for any of their staff exposed to dangerous toxins in the air?
  10. What measures should the employer take to ensure staff do not suffer any ill health problems due to working outside and breathing in toxins in the air?
  11. Should the employer provide staff with some type of face mask or other protective equipment from the toxins in the air?
  12. Should the employer provide some type of health checks for staff regularly exposed to air pollution?

If you have answers to these questions please email the branch on contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

 

Another Capita Failure in Barnet, Payroll this time…………

 

Late Friday afternoon 27 April 2019 Barnet UNISON were contacted to say that Barnet Council staff who had previously opted out of the Council Pension scheme had been enrolled back in.

Whilst Barnet UNISON supports and encourages members to join the Council scheme, workers do have the lawful right to opt out.

Barnet Council must obey the law and in this case this means they must auto enrol workers into the Council Pension Scheme. However, they must give notice to the worker and advise them of their right to opt out.

This did not happen.

What happened?

  1. Members on the Audit Committee were told that Capita Payroll only found out at the last minute (Friday 26 April 2019) that an auto enrolment programme had been set up to auto enrol those workers who had previously opted out of the Council Pension scheme.
  2. Members on the Audit Committee were told that 170 workers were auto enrolled into the Council Pensions Scheme which meant they had pay deducted from their wages.
  3. Members on the Audit Committee were told that although the workers had pay deducted they had not been auto enrolled.
  4. If this is true, it must follow that Capita’s auto enrolment procedure failed. Auto enrolment is directed by legislation. Barnet Council must auto enrol staff every three years, unless staff sign a form to opt out. This incident has exposed another Capita system failure which needs to be addressed immediately.
  5. Members on the Audit Committee were told that the workers contributions which had been deducted would be paid back to the 170 workers on Friday 3 May 2019.
  6. Members on the Audit Committee were not told if employer contributions were paid and if so where did the money go. However, if the employer contributions were not paid, why not? Is this another system failure?

Further Questions

  • Have Capita Payroll in Carlisle auto enrolled Barnet Council school staff?
  • If not, why not, as they are the same employer?
  • Why were Councillors auto enrolled by Capita as Councillors have not been eligible to join since 2014?

Barnet UNISON comment:

You really have to be in a Council meeting to believe what happens. Year after year different Capita managers roll up to give excuses and make promises that the latest service improvement plan will improve the services.

What is unbelievable is that Councillors are still accepting this serial offending.

All the while Capita are raking in the millions from Barnet Council.

We are in Year Six of a Ten Year contract and the two Capita contracts have cost £145 million pound more than they were originally contracted to be paid.

 

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