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Judicial Review Of Barnet’s ‘easyCouncil’ Plans Due After Disabled Woman Fears For Her Life

March 19, 2013

The “easyCouncil” model of no-frills local services faces a high court challenge today, with locals from the London Borough of Barnet, including the disabled resident Maria Nash who is bringing the action, calling for a £320m privatisation deal to be scrapped.

The judicial review will examine one of the most radical and controversial projects by an English council to respond to deep Whitehall cuts which Barnet have labelled “One Barnet”. Nash, 67, a former holistic therapist who relies on publicly funded care assistants, has said she fears for her life if responsibility for her support is transferred from the council to the private outsourcing firm, Capita, in April. The judicial review of the legality of the contract means the signing of the deal, which was supposed to happen at the end of January, has been delayed.

Protesters from the campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts and the local Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) are expected to demonstrate outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand in London this morning.

Tirza Waisel, the co-ordinater of BAPS, said: “Maria is a disabled person and is right to be worried about what will happen to her in future. If One Barnet fails, a scheme that was set up ostensibly to save money will end up costing more, and mean further cuts in services beyond the point where Barnet residents can live a decent life.”

Like many councils, Barnet has been seeking radical measures to reduce its budget by10% as a result of declining council tax revenue and a smaller grant from Whitehall.

Nash’s case is that neither the Capita contract, nor a further planned £290m contract to outsource planning, cemeteries, highways, environmental health and other services, are legal because the council has failed to consult on the decisions, has failed to meet its public sector equality obligations and based its decisions on “grossly inadequate assessments of the relative merits and risks involved and hence are unreasonable and amount to a breach of its fiduciary duty”.

Barnet is understood to be confident its policy will survive intact and Dan Thomas, council member with responsibility for resources, has said the new support and customer service organisation contract will save the taxpayer £1m a month.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 19, 2013 12:33 pm

    Reblogged this on kickingthecat.

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