Who is in the Call Centre aka Customer Services Organisation (CSO)

Our office has been contacted again that that decisions are being made as to who is the Call Centre. I can report that we have not had any more new details on this project. There have been some broad proposals in the past but no details. I did expect to be able to brief members earlier this month as I understood there was deadline for proposals on 3 October. However the scheduled meeting with UNISON had to be postponed.

Therefore I am unable to respond to the latest rumour that Revs & Bens are to be transferred to the Call Centre.

Barnet UNISON comment

I have passed on my concern to the project lead today that there are rumours that there is a proposal for the Revs & Bens to be transferred to the Call Centre along with Social Care Direct. I am still waiting for a response to the concerns I raised.

UNISON has always maintained that the Call Centre model is an outdated concept which has been rejected by the private sector. It is also at odds with LEAN approach to services something the Council has been promoting across a range of council services.

Show Solidarity wear UNISON Colours – Purple & Green

UNISON members taking strike action last month. We have found a way in which all our members can show support for those taking strike action on Tuesday 18 October.

Barnet UNISON is asking if you are not part of the groups taking part in the action show your support by wearing something green or purple (UNISON’s colours) on the day (trousers, shirt, tights, jumper, tie, scarf, cardigan, hat etc).

John Burgess Branch Secretary has offered to dye his hair purple on 18 October, what will you do?


Westminster Council employ agency staff to issue parking tickets???

Westminster Council parking enforcement sub contractor are NSL Services, yet news broke out last week that they were recruiting agency staff to issue parking tickets.

It sounds unbelievable but it it really is happening.

Please note Barnet Council is currently assessing tenders submitted by contractors to take over theor in-house Parking Service.

The story broke on the Blog Nutsville

see Blog post below 

“In an unprecedented decision Westminster Council plan to recruit their own agency staff to issue parking tickets in the evenings and throughout the night.

Councillor Lee Rowley, Cabinet Member for Parking and Transportation and Councillor Philippa Roe, Cabinet Member for Strategic Finance have taken the decision to snub the councils parking enforcement sub contractors NSL Services by taking back part of the parking enforcement duties from them. Rowley and Roe say they plan to use an old pre-existing contract with Hays Recruitment Agency to find people which the Council hope to train and run as their own ‘in-house’ Civil Enforcement Officers (CEO’s)

The parking enforcement contract first ran into trouble when it came time to re-let the contract just over a year ago. One of the bidders at the time, Mouchel, who were initially awarded the contract in March 2010 ended up taking legal action against the Council when the contract was taken away from them. Westminster Council chose not to defend the legal action in the High Court and paid off Mouchel around £600,000 in a last minute out of court settlement. Rowley said at the time that handing over £600,000 was the responsible thing to do, as the Council was facing the possibility of losing £4million in compensation if the case went to court.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour leader for Westminster, at the time branded the parking enforcement contract relet saga a “very unsatisfactory and expensive fiasco”.

It was hoped that after the Council had taken over six months and spent an estimated £1million in awarding a contract, then taking it back, launching a new expensive tendering excersise whilst fighting a legal battel with Mouchel that Rolwey had got the hang of running the parking department.

But in October 2010 we revealed how Cllr Rowley had approved spending £1.95M of taxpayers money propping up the NSL contract with 50 extra CEO’s, due to failing technology.

A cabinet report at the time revealed all;

“It is anticipated that these increased compliance levels should be achieved by using new technology. However, at the date of the report that technology has not been implemented. It is expected that this technology will be in place by January 2011 and be delivering the efficiency benefits by the end of the first year of the contract. Therefore, in order to achieve these outcomes in the interim the contractor will need to deploy a greater level of resources across the Overnight and Irregular Periods; this has been assessed to be an increases of 50 FTE.”

Cllr Rowley dismissed accusations that he did not have the authority to make the cabinet decision or that it was against the Councils Constitution, claiming that the use of the word ‘virement’ in the decision notice was simply a mistake.

The October 2010 report also went on to explain that if  NSL’s technology did not live up to expectations they would be expected to pay for any extra CEO’s to meet Council targets in future:

“If the technology fails to deliver the results anticipated by NSL, then at their cost, they can maintain higher FTE levels to meet the compliance outcomes.”

Nutsville has now learnt from NSL insiders that the parking enforcement contract with Westminster has continued not to go to plan. Staff have told Nutsville that NSL have continued to set “Beat Averages” that CEO’s must achieve, otherwise they are disciplined for “poor performance”. This has led to several CEO’s already being disciplined. CEO’s have also been told that they will soon have to take on extra duties while they are patrolling the streets because not enough penalty tickets are being issued. It looks likely that the first of these new duties will be dog fouling – which is currently something Westminster City Wardens carry out.

NSL staff have also told Nuts that the enforcement contract profit is, at best, breaking even but it is more likely that it’s now losing NSL money but they continue with it for fear that it could start a domino effect amongst other Authorities if they withdraw from Westminster.

In Rowley’s and Roe’s latest decision it states they plan to alter the current contract with NSL services to take away from them the evening and night time enforcement duties. The report goes on to explain that the initial high costs involved in recruitment and training are expected to be clawed back by the money raked in from motorists parking in Westminster, and therefore would effectively mean no extra costs to the taxpayer.


Emergency Dawn break Picket line success

Barnet Council made plans late this week to use agency workers to break the work to rule being taken by UNISON members in Revs and Bens.

Initial estimates were that up to 40 agency workers would be paid to come in on Saturday morning.

I can report no agency workers turned up today.

Well done to our members by responding so quickly and a big thanks to Barnet Alliance who also came along.

Breaking News!!!!!..Flash Mob thingymyjig on Pensions!

Breaking News!!!!!!

Flash Mob thingymyjig on Pensions!

Barnet UNISON has been contacted by the Council about our Flash Mob thingymyjig. They have asked Barnet UNISON to contact our members working for Barnet Council and ask them not use Council computers to join the mass action and gave the following reasons:

·         This action has the potential to cause failure to the Council’s IT systems

·         It could have an impact on communicating with residents

If UNISON does not comply with the request then the Council have informed UNISON the Council will block access to the web site.

This 5 min activity was never intended to have a detrimental impact on the Council ability to provide services to Barnet residents it was to highlight the attacks to our Pensions. I know some members will be suspicious of this request and so I have asked for a copy of the risk assessment which has identified this as a risk to the IT infrastructure.

In the meantime I am asking our members not to use the Council PCs to access the following links





We can offer UNISON members working in NLBP today the following:

Members can call into the UNISON office (building 4) today to access the video. Our IT system is not connected to the Councils; a copy of the transcript of the interview with Francis Maude will be made available.

Over the weekend…………..

We are asking our members to try and find time to playing the BIG CON video on their PC’s or mobile phones at home on the following links




Please watch the video and share it with your friends on Face Book, Blogs and Twitter.

We have a provided a transcript of the BBC interview which you can download here.

For those unable to view the BIGCON video we can make a short DVD in order you can view. Contact the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk


Best-selling author Kate Mosse, an early supporter of the Save Barnet Libraries campaign mentioning it on the BBC Politics show and in The Guardian (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/dec/11/kate-mosse-libraries-books), last week launched a scathing attack on the matter of library closures. She said, “There has been a naïve belief on the part of government and local authorities that after the initial objections, public anger would wane. Instead it is the precise opposite: the anger has simply exacerbated” adding that there had been “a catastrophic failure of leadership” from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, the Arts Council and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. (see http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/fight-to-save-local-libraries-gets-its-day-in-court-2314964.html).

Friern Barnet Library Party

To emphasise Kate’s point, Campaigners for Friern Barnet Library channelled their anger over its threatened closure into the positive force of organising a party to celebrate this focal point of their community. Hundreds turned up, (especially children in fancy dress, many of them representing Hogwarts school – fortunately not thought to be one of the six local schools affected by the closure!) to enjoy a bookworm cake, send a letter to their councillor, make ‘save our library’ posters and listen to live music. If you were there you will know what a great time was had by all – if you weren’t check out the campaign’s website at http://sites.google.com/site/savefriernbarnetlibrary/ to join in the fun through ‘you tube’ and ‘flickr’.

Cabinet Meeting

Barnet Council’s cabinet meeting takes place on 26th July 2011, 7:00pm at Hendon Town Hall to discuss the Library Strategy Review. This is the meeting that will decide the fate of Friern Barnet, Hampstead Garden Suburb and North Finchley Libraries. Campaigners on behalf of the above libraries intend to be there and would welcome anybody to come along and offer moral support.

Contact your MP

Campaigners are also asking users of the affected libraries to contact their MP to let them know they do not want their libraries to close.

For Friern Barnet this is Theresa Villiers MP who can be contacted through:


For Hampstead Garden Suburb and North Finchley it is Mike Freer MP who can be contacted at mike.freer.mp@parliament.uk

As Kate Mosse has said, let them know your anger over library closures is not on the wane – but do it politely as we want them to take action not umbrage!




Flash Mob thingymijig on Pensions!

Friday 22 July at 12.30pm…. Friday 22 July at 12.30pm!

At a recent Pension branch briefing members thought it would be a good idea if UNISON members across the branch which includes a number of different employers agreed to watch and listen to this short video (3 mins 57 secs)


The video includes an interview with the Cabinet Officer Minister Francis Maude.

We are asking our members to start playing the BIG CON video on their PC’s or mobile phones at the same time whether it at work (in their lunch break) or at home.

Please watch the video on Friday 22 July at 12.30pm

We have a provided a transcript of the BBC interview which you can download here.

For those unable to view the BIGCON video we can make a short DVD in order you can view. Contact the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email



Gloucestershire Council in the Dock

Residents of Gloucestershire have given Library Campaigners across the country a boost by obtaining a High Court injunction against the closure of their libraries. This also reminds local authorities that they have a statutory duty to provide a full and comprehensive library service under The Museum and Libraries Act 1964. This action represents the first time the Act has been tested in court and round one has clearly gone to the residents. As Public Interest Lawyers solicitor Daniel Carey, acting on behalf of Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries notes; “the High Court has today ensured that these cuts will receive the full scrutiny of the law. The council has very clear statutory duties to provide libraries and these plans breach them.”

Read further reports here:




Meanwhile in Barnet

Local residents in Barnet have been no less vociferous in campaigning to keep their libraries open.

Friern Barnet residents have mounted well supported read-ins at their threatened library and are investigating the possibility of obtaining village green status for the green space next to it. More than 2,000 people signed the petition which has now been presented to the council.

Future planned protests are a ‘Walk to the Library’ week for local children from Monday 11th – Friday 15th July. The campaigners would like as many local schools to participate as possible so if your children or their school want to join-in contact them at savefriernbarnetlibrary@gmail.com . The ‘Walk to the Library’ week will reach a stunning finale with a party for the library on  Saturday 16th July from 2-4pm. Check out https://sites.google.com/site/savefriernbarnetlibrary/updates for up-to-date information.

Hampstead Garden Suburb residents have been doing their homework and reckon the council have got their figures wrong in their justification to close the local library. Campaigners say, “While it is claimed that our Suburb library is the second costliest to run, one of the reasons cited being that the premises are the only ones in the borough which are leased from a private landlord, our investigations have shown that the rent for 2010/11 is only £ 10,532 p.a., just 7.6% of its total costs. What however is very disturbing is the fact that over £ 57,000 or 41% of the total overheads is being charged to us by way of ” central ” Barnet library charges. To determine what savings are indeed possible , without prejudicing the quality of the service, surely any cost projections must be calculated on a ” like with like ” basis ? The full article can be viewed at http://www.hgs.org.uk/newspages/20110506savehgslibrary.html and in the local press here http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/9059899.Library_cost_figures_queried_by_campaigners/

North Finchley residents are also concerned about the future of their library and have managed to obtain 790 signatures on a petition which, as reported by Mrs Angry, Barnet Councillors managed to ignore by use of the new format for Residents Forums. See http://wwwbrokenbarnet.blogspot.com/2011/06/telling-it-like-it-is-residents-forum.html for all the shameful details.

Library campaigners of Barnet – Don’t hide your light under a bushel. If you are organising a protest, a petition, a Read-in, a Love-in or anything designed to support your library we want to help spread the word. Send the details to Barnet UNISON on contactus@barnetunison.org.uk or Barnet Alliance for Public Services on barnetalliance4publicservices@gmail.com

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