Monday, 8 October 2012

Ken Loach on One Barnet: a licence for exploitation

When the 'Tale of Two Barnets' film was made last year, it was prefaced with an introduction by film director Ken Loach, whose lifetime's work, focused with an unflinching eye on the realities of life in Britain, both now and in the past, has had such a profound influence on the way we see ourselves, and our place within the social boundaries we inhabit. 

The boundaries of Broken Barnet provided the material for last year's film, which gave voice to some of the citizens of this borough, including Mrs Angry, and created a space for them to express their views on the future of their community, as we stand now, on the brink of disaster, as an impotent, morally bankrupt Conservative administration, and a senior management team working covertly to its own agenda, open up the sale of our council services to a favoured list of predatory, profiteering private sector clients.

So much has happened since the Tale of Two Barnets was made, and the producers have decided to make a sequel, 'Barnet: The Billion Pound Gamble', centred on the imminent outsourcing of £1 billion worth of our services - a scale of privatisation that is unprecedented in the context of any local authority administration, and represents, as the title of the film suggests, an astonishingly high risk strategy, and one which is almost certainly going to fail, with devastating consequences for our community, not just in financial terms, but in the effects on standards of care provision and  countless other services upon which we all depend.

Ken Loach has filmed an introduction for the second film, in which he observes that Barnet has become a by word for unscrupulous outsourcing, and talks about the economic impact of outsourcing both locally and at the further point of outsourced labour. 

In Barnet we face the reality, post outsourcing, of jobs leaving this borough, and being relocated not just elsewhere, but offshored to the Indian subcontinent, to centres such as Bangalore, where all the remaining bidders in the One Barnet procurement process have interests.

As Loach points out, outsourcing, and its inevitable use of the cheapest workers, is a licence for exploitation, enabling unscrupulous employers to screw the workforce as hard as they can, whether here or in the poorest countries of the far east.

The loss of jobs here in Barnet will have a profound effect on our local economy, already struggling in the recession, (and further damaged by the authorities hugely restrictive, income generating obsessed new parking policies).

Ken Loach makes an observation which ought to be obvious to everyone, but clearly evades the notice of our treacherous Tory councillors, who seem unable to grasp the looming electoral apocalypse that will ensue should this mass privatisation go through - we need our communities to thrive.

He leaves us with a question: what sort of society do we want? 

Barnet is broken, and now all the pieces are being smashed up with a big hammer and given away to friends in the private sector, while we are expected to sit back, and watch it all taken away.

Go and see the new film, which will have its premiere at the historic Phoenix Cinema on Monday, 22nd October, 6pm. Then decide if the sell off of our borough to the highest bidder will provide you with the society you want to live in. If not, you might want to make your voice heard, now, loudly, before it is too late.

Updated: see press release from the producers of the new film:

 9th October 2012 

Award winning Film Director Ken Loach has lambasted Barnet Council's One Barnet outsourcing programme in a scathing attack in a new documentary film "Barnet - The Billion Pound Gamble", directed by Charles Honderick. Mr Loach was interviewed exclusively for the film and says:

"A billion pounds, now that’s money you will pay, Barnet residents will pay, and the jobs that will be provided will probably not be in Barnet. A lot of the jobs will go to other boroughs or even outside of Britain altogether."

Mr Loach notes that taxpayers are getting poor value for money as jobs leave the borough, causing poverty, hardship and economic decline.

 "Now that’s a bad deal for Barnet because you want your rates and money put in to go to support your local economy,  to go to support Barnet people & this is not about being narrow & excluding others, this is just commonsense that we need local communities to thrive & the end of that logic, that says the money should go to the cheapest workers is of course that the money goes to those who eat grass first."

As well as Mr Loach, the film features people from all walks of life in Barnet talking about their experiences and looks at all aspects of life in Barnet in 2012, including the relocation of Barnet Football club to Harrow, the closure of Friern Barnet Library, the cost of parking in the High Street and the provision of care services for the disabled and elderly. 
Director Charles Honderick said "The film gives a voice to everyone who cares about what is happening in their community. The stories we have heard are stories which should be shared. Some of the things you will see you will find hard to believe can happen in a civilised society".

 Mr Honderick continued "As a filmmaker I am honoured to have my work recognised by Ken Loach. He has spent years making films with power and meaning. His wise words are ones we'd be foolish to ignore". 

The film has its world premiere at the Phoenix Cinema in Finchley at 6pm on Monday 22nd October 2012. Admission is £1. 

You can see the full interview with Mr Loach at the film website  - 

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