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Barnet Alliance for Public Services fails in bid for referendum on One Barnet prior to judicial review
Anti-One Barnet campaigners say accusations they have misinformed the public are “nonsense”.
The Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS), which has campaigned against the council’s outsourcing programme, last night presented a petition of more than 8,000 signatures calling for a referendum on the issue.
But the council’s deputy leader accused the group of misinforming residents in order to gather more supporters.
The petition broke the threshold for the number of signatures needed for a council vote on the matter but the Conservative majority last night rejected the proposals at a full council meeting at Hendon Town Hall.
Deputy leader of the council Dan Thomas said: “I wasn’t surprised by the number of votes. I think anyone can get that amount if they try as hard as they did.
“The lady who presented the petition was giving a lot of misinformation and it makes you wonder what they’ve been saying to the residents who signed it.
“Despite their efforts, 98 per cent of the borough didn’t sign it, which tells me the bulk of Barnet is not concerned.”
Under the One Barnet scheme, the council is looking to outsource about 70 per cent of its services to the private sector – a move the authority says will save in the region of £65million over ten years.
The biggest contract, a £320million agreement to run the authority’s back office services, was due to be officially signed over to Capita this month.
But a judicial review is due to be heard on the One Barnet programme in March after BAPS member Maria Nash instructed solicitors to begin legal proceedings last month.
Councillor Thomas added: “I hope for the sake of the taxpayers of Barnet we get through that quickly because whilst the legal challenge is ongoing, we’re not making the savings we should be.”
BAPS committee member Vicki Morris said the group is hoping they will win the legal battle having so far fallen short with their political campaign.
She said: “To say we have misinformed people is nonsense. The point of a referendum is not that we say what happens but that the public does.
“We want the council to better inform people about One Barnet. They consult on every little policy change but this is huge and they won’t ask the public what they think.
“I’m not surprised they rejected it. We’re now putting it in the hands of lawyers and judges but we will continue to fight our political campaign.”