Thursday, 20 December 2012

Crapita comes to Barnet: Barnet goes to Crapita

Earlier this week, we heard that the Chief Executive of Capita, Mr Paul Pindar, was reluctant to correspond with residents of Broken Barnet, despite the intimate relationship into which we have recently been introduced. This seemed like an awful shame, so some of the residents of Broken Barnet thought they might come and visit Mr Paul Pindar today, in his headquarters at 71, Victoria St, SW1.

(and erm ... please don't blame Mrs Angry for the misspelt embedded title)

Mrs Angry was rather surprised, when she arrived at 71, Victoria St, SW1, this evening, to find that the Capita offices are really very easy to miss, because do you know, citizens, being very modest and not wishing to show off, or to boast about how hugely influential and profitable the company is, Capita has decided not to have any sign outside its HQ telling you what it is? It was almost as if, thought Mrs Angry, they did not want you to know where these offices were, in case, say, any disaffected residents of local authorities newly contracted to Crapita became minded to come and visit Mr Paul Pindar and all his friends and tell them where to get off. Imagine that!

Mrs Angry and some of her friends had decided to come along today to tell Crapita exactly where to get off, and so we stood outside in the rain, along with the Barnet Alliance banner, and gave out leaflets, many of which were taken with interest by passers by, some of whom stopped to mention their own experiences of this company. Two teachers explained that their school was contracted to Capita for their IT management, which they described as 'crap', and obliged them to try and negotiate with faceless employees in Nottingham. 

For some reason, while we were outside, not a single person passed in or out of the front entrance. The doors were firmly closed, and two very jittery security men watched us from the reception area, in case we were about to sneak in and occupy the building - you know,  as if it were - oh, well: you know - a public library ...

As if.

After a while we decided we should perhaps ask to come in and speak to someone. Via the universal medium of mime, and sign language, we communicated to the security men that we wished to say something to them. 

The unattainable world of Capita PLC, beyond the glass wall

They then, reluctantly, warily, opened the side door a couple of inches. Was Mr Pindar available? No. Could we come in and speak to someone? NO! The doors were shut and locked. Mrs Angry gesticulated through the glass: one of the men went to the back of reception to call someone urgently on his walkie talkie. The other guard sat at the desk, head bowed, and refused to make eye contact. They both looked very worried. 

Mrs Angry contented herself with peering in at them through the glass doors, with an insolent expression, like a hungry Victorian street urchin outside a pie shop, admiring the very tacky reception area, which had a rather miserly Christmas tree, and a very shiny silver plaque with details of each of several floors, all exactly the same, CAPITA PLC, and a notice which said that any non Capita employees MUST take the lift. 

A Crapita Christmas, through the swing doors that don't swing

Mrs Angry imagined that this lift went straight to the basement, where non Capita employees are processed, Dr Who style, with Capita implants, and sent back into the world to spread the message of outsourcing, as if they were members of SOLACE or BT Vital Visionaries ...

Earlier this month, as we have reported, some of the Barnet Alliance members had a rather abortive attempt at engaging Mr Paul Pindar in a discussion over his company's plans in regard to Barnet, and enquiries were made about the 'extensive consultation' he claims that Capita has made with representative groups and individuals in Barnet. Further correspondence with members of Barnet Alliance has given a clear indication of the nature of the relationship into which we must submit ourselves, however, to our new masters: at one remove, not worthy to kiss their feet.

 According to Paul Pindar: 

'You and your members will remain customers of the Council ...'

 Julian Silverman, BAPS had a sharp retort for Mr Pindar, and one which was well deserved: 

'We are not customers of Barnet council, we are more properly described as the council's employers. In so far as you have been hired by the council, you should be seen as effectively our servants.'

Welcome to Broken Barnet, Mr Pindar. 

Update, 24th December: 

Here is an early Christmas present for Mr Pindar, Richard Cornelius, and all our Tory councillors: Barnet Alliance issued the following press release today: Mrs Angry

Barnet Alliance for Public Services is delighted to hear that Maria Nash, a Barnet resident who has instructed lawyers to seek a Judicial Review of the One Barnet Programme, has now been granted funding through Legal Aid. 

Lawyers for Barnet Council responded late Thursday night to a pre-action protocol letter that was sent to the Council by Maria’s lawyers on 6 December, prior to the Cabinet meeting that approved the appointment of Capita plc as the preferred bidder for the first of the One Barnet contracts, worth at least £320 million. 

Barnet Alliance understands that Ms Nash’s lawyers will now apply for a full Judicial Review of that decision.

Footnote: Mrs Angry cannot help but be naughtily amused that many Crapita Christmas googlers are landing here via the following link, where this post is listed, stuck there over the festive period, shining brightly like a star of wonder, star of light:

Is that a bad thing, do you think, the red figures, and the graph dipping since - oh, the day of our visit? Sheer coincidence, no doubt

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