Capita Property Services in Southampton

CAPITA have been named as the preferred bidder in the senior officer reports going to scrutiny committee on Thursday 29 November.

You can view all the reports here on Barnet Council website

One of the key issues raised by UNISON and Barnet Alliance concerns ‘lesson learnt’ from other poor outsourcing projects. At last weeks scrutiny committee councillors were told that the council had learnt from other council experiences.

I wonder if they came across the report below ?

Southampton Council has a long term contract with CAPITA.

Take a look at this committee report on CAPITA Property Services Performance Review dated 15 December 2011

You can read the full report here

Here are some highlights

“The report identified that performance in Capita Property Services was poor and client satisfaction was below the mean.”

“During the financial year 2010/2011 the number and range of issues that arose between service departments and Capita Property Services increased. A significant number of these were escalated within the dispute resolution procedure to the highest levels within the partnership. As a result the perception within the service areas and key stakeholders within the Council of the performance of the property service gave rise to a number of areas of concern.”

“Poor value for money due to high fees: A number of issues highlighted

concerns within service areas over the fees charged by Capita.

Disputes over fees have formed a very high proportion of the Property Services issues. The cause of many of the issues has been attributed to:

A lack of clarity when fees have been proposed by Capita;

Differing interpretation of the fee tables in the contract by discrete business units operating within the Capita office;”


“Poor reactive maintenance of school buildings” This has led to difficult decisions regarding prioritising expenditure and a perception that Capita are responsible for the poor maintenance of the schools.”

 “Quality of Professional Services: A number of issues have related to the quality of the professional services received from Capita.• Service errors were escalated to issues due to a lack of willingness on the part of Capita to accept responsibility for them and take corrective actions.”

 “Key Performance Indicator: The services provided by Capita Property Services are monitored by a selection of indicators. The reporting by Capita of their performance during the first three years of the partnership was not supported by robust assurance data and the results were often obtained immediately prior to reporting to the Council”


“The performance issues in the service provision by Capita Property Services have led to a significant amount of senior management time and resources,”

Library Redundancies Update

Library Staff were issued with their At Risk of Redundancy letters this week.  Barnet Council still plan to go ahead with their restructure of the library service, although they have altered their plans to include one more Librarian and one more Library Customer Services Officer.

But Management plan to run Barnet Libraries with only seven professional librarians none of whom will work directly with the public. Para-Professional staff will be expected to take up many of the duties now performed by Librarians while suffering a pay cut as Week End Allowance is removed.

UNISON will carry on opposing this restructure and have drawn up a revised version of the Alternative Library Restructure Proposal which will be sent to members in the near future.

UNISON representative will attend the following At Risk Meetings to offer advice and support members:

Children’s’ Librarians         Tuesday        6th    November

Adult Librarians                   Wednesday 8th    November

Bibliographic Services       Thursday     15th     November

Edgware Library                   Wednesday 14th   November

East Finchley Library           Thursday       15th    November

Chipping Barnet Library      Friday            16th   November

UNISON members will be visiting all the libraries in the next few weeks to consult with members on the Library Restructure.

Briefing Number 15 Strategic Partnerships

Dear Councillor


Please find enclosed Briefing Number 15 Strategic Partnerships. (to view click here)


I am also attaching a report which went to Somerset County Council Cabinet Committee last night.


This Council report seeks authority to contest the escalating number of financial clams being made by the Councils Joint Venture Partner Southwest One (SWo)


The report makes it clear the Council’s position by stating


“It is paramount that we look after the best interests of Somerset’s tax payers and we will defend SCC’s position.”

“The history of Southwest One [SWo] poor performance is continuing; during 2012 the Client Team have been holding SWo to account; resulting in the serving of 8 contractual notices to SWo.”

However the Partner has reacted:

“Over the past 3 weeks SWo have commenced disputes on several other matters, issuing further financial claims and disputing Somerset County Council’s warning notices.

The Council report states

“With a number of escalating disputes, we need to take action to:

• Conduct proceedings

• Respond to these disputes and restore a deteriorating relationship with a strategic supplier.

• Seek to improve value for money and service performance and ensure it is fit for purpose.

• Continue to assertively manage Southwest One to ensure it meets its contractual obligations.”

It is clear the Administration is Somerset is genuinely trying to robustly hold the Partner (which includes IBM) to account. But history says that the Private sector have deeper pockets and better lawyers than the public sector. 


UPDATED: Somerset County Council preparing for court in escalating conflict with IBM


I hope all of you will be able to come along to the briefing UNISON has invited you to on Wednesday 14 November 2012.


As ever if there is a point of clarification or concern please do not hesitate to contact me.


Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary.


Briefing Number 14 Cornwall Council update

Dear Councillors

To view briefing click here 

I am sure you are all aware that earlier this week Cornwall Council voted to halt the privatisation of back office services to a Joint Venture company. One of the Bidders decided to withdraw before the decision and the remaining bidder BT has said it will wait.


Earlier this month the Former Deputy Leader Cornwall Council announced


“I am resigning from the Cabinet today as I feel that I have pushed the cause of retaining Council control over Joint Ventures as far as I can with the Cabinet.

The financial risks involved with the rush into the new Joint Venture proposals are unacceptable. The JV is basically too large to control. We have wasted £42m+ on the Unitary, £42m+ on the Incinerator and we are now proposing to risk a great deal more on the Joint Venture.

I welcome your somewhat ambiguous offer to respect Full Council decisions on the 23rd October but I know you will never let go.

I could not leave local government with billions of pounds of Cornish Taxpayers money at risk and on my conscience.

Alec, this matter has never been personal.

Yours aye



Please find enclosed short briefing on Cornwall.


As ever if there is a point of clarification or concern please do not hesitate to contact me.


Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary.


0208 359 2088

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Briefing Number 8 entitled How Joint Ventures Work

Dear Councillors

Please find enclosed Briefing Number 8 entitled ‘How Joint Ventures Work’ (to view click here)

Please note the 5 questions at the end of the briefing which I have submitted to the senior officers for a response.

I would like to leave you with the words of Conservative MP Ian Liddell Grainger speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday 18 September 2012 (you can read the Hansard transcript here scroll down to 3.6 pm

“It gives me no pleasure to rise to talk about a failed procurement project that has cost every citizen in Somerset a great deal of wasted money and time. Southwest One is a joint venture between Somerset county council, Taunton Deane council, Avon and Somerset police and IBM—one of the world’s biggest IT firms. It is a classic example of how not to do public procurement.”

As ever if there is a point of clarification or concern please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary.


Is the Council recommending a Joint Venture or a Strategic Partnership for DRS ?

Dear Richard

As you know I attended the Special Meeting, Budget and Performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee where I listened in amazement to the discussion as to whether a JV had been recommended. I could not believe what I hearing when the Chair asked if any of the councillors had seen the emails and no one admitted they had. 

I am enclosing the emails attachments.

For some reason the councillors at the Special Meeting, Budget and Performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee seem unaware of a series of events which has brought the issue of a Joint Venture to the attention of councillors, staff and residents. For the sake of transparency and equally important scrutiny I want to refer you back to August 2012 where a number of communications were issued:


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.” 

(Email communication sent to all staff in DRS 17 August 2012)



2. Barnet Press: “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 2012



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.  

(Email communication sent to all DRS staff 24 August 2012)


4. On 23 August, I attended a meeting with the DRS senior management. I specifically asked if the reports were true about the recommendation for a Joint Venture option. I was very clearly told the Council was recommending a Joint Venture model for service delivery.


At the Budget Overview & Scrutiny Committee 19 September 2012, Agenda Item 8 it was made very clear to all councillors that there was no recommendation for a Joint Venture. I was there and have reviewed the video footage very carefully, which is available to view here


I left that meeting absolutely clear the Joint Venture issue was not being recommended and so informed my members of this decision.


Yesterday (20 September 2012) your staff were being informed by senior officers that the JV option is still on. Furthermore the IMPOWER consultant confirmed that the Bidders have been told that their detailed solution must include a JV approach.


I now have no idea as to who or what to believe. I would welcome confirmation as to what option is being recommended to the Bidders.


Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary.


UNISON send briefing 3 on Joint Venuture to all 63 councilors

Dear Councillors


Please find enclosed UNISON briefing 3 (to view click here) which provides some recent information on a Joint venture in Conservative run Somerset Council.


I have been following Southwest One for more than five years. No doubt councillors and senior officers were provided the best legal advice from lawyers and consultants about drafting a contract which would protect the interests of local tax payers.


I would like to leave you with the words of the former Conservative leader of Somerset Council of Ken Maddock speaking at a Council Budget fixing meeting earlier this year:

“We need a council that can cope with future government cuts and rising demand.

“Sadly, Southwest One is failing. It is failing to deliver promised savings; failing to cope with a changing financial landscape; failing to be flexible enough to adapt in challenging times and provide the best possible value for money.


I am sure somerset council tax payers will not understand why their council tax payments are being wasted on expensive litigation when the Council did have the choice to deliver these services & savings themselves.  


Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary.


0208 359 2088

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Defend Our Pensions


UNISON request Leader of the Council to delay transfer to Harrow Council

Dear Richard


I am formally requesting that you directly intervene in the Legal Services transfer to Harrow Borough Council. At a Legal Services briefing yesterday (14 June 2012) given by the Director of Corporate Governance, a significant number of staff began to raise very serious concerns about the transfer. The overwhelming feeling arising from this meeting was that Harrow is not treating this venture as a ‘shared service.’ Please find enclosed flyer which refers to ‘Harrow Legal’ which further reinforces the view of staff that this is not a real ‘shared service’ arrangement. In all the contributions there was a reoccurring theme being raised namely that Harrow seem to have a belief that their Lawyers are better than ours and that this perception is influencing the dialogue between both sides. I am concerned that without addressing these fundamental concerns it could lead to a first class service to Harrow and a second class service to Barnet.


I am seeking a postponement of the TUPE Transfer (due date 1July 2012) in order that there is genuine and meaningful discussions with your staff.


I believe you are already aware of what happened at a Planning Meeting earlier this week. I understand Standing Orders were allegedly overruled by a Harrow lawyer and as a result five decisions made have been declared ultra vires.


There is a real and urgent need for a meeting to scheduled with all staff to discuss the myriad of concerns raised by your staff at yesterday’s meeting. Until these concerns are addressed it would be in my opinion imprudent to sign the ‘inter authority agreement’


I can give an undertaking that I and the branch and our members want to work together with the Council to make this Shared arrangement work. However in light of what I heard yesterday a great deal of work needs to be done for this to happen.


Yours sincerely


John Burgess

Branch Secretary


The APSE report in full

Read full report here

A worrying extract from page 6 of the report

“The elected members of the Council are perfectly entitled to develop and pursue their vision for the authority. They are obliged however to do so within the parameters set by law. This includes a requirement to act reasonably whilst taking into account all relevant factors and ignoring irrelevant ones. The numerous examples of failure to abide by internal procedures, as well as various potential breaches of competition law, should be relevant to any decision about whether and how quickly, the authority should implement its planned commissioning approach to service delivery. APSE has not been able to find any evidence that there has been any formal consideration of the implications of the apparently institutional inability to let and manage contracts adequately, for the Council’s future contracting strategy.


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