Public Services > Local Government

Barnet Council approves Capita contract

Charlotte Jee Published 07 December 2012

Contract due to be signed in the New Year faces legal challenge

 

In a special session yesterday evening, Barnet Council's cabinet voted unanimously to award a contract worth £320m to Capita to run a number of council services.

The 10-year contract will see Capita take responsibility for Barnet's new support and customer service organisation (NSCSO), and thus run a number of service areas, including the council's call centre, IT infrastructure and support, corporate procurement, customer services and finance and payroll.

The process of awarding the contract, which is expected to save Barnet council £120m over the 10-year period, will now go to the Alcatel stage- a standstill period of at least 10 days between the decision to award an OJEU-tendered contract and its official signing.

However, a Barnet resident, Maria Nash, has instructed lawyers to seek a judicial review of the One Barnet programme (the umbrella term for the major change projects running across the council).

A pre-action protocol letter was sent to the council yesterday before the cabinet meeting. The letter sets out the grounds on which a judicial review will be sought, which include an alleged "breach of the council's duty to consult Barnet residents, businesses and community organisations about its plans".

The letter also claims that there has been a "breach of councillors' duty to residents in their area", "breach of the public sector equality duty", "breach of public procurement law" and a "breach of councillors' duty to make up their own minds...they are not allowed blindly to follow the party line".

However, a council spokesman insisted that they don't expect the legal action to make any difference to the process. He said, "It [the contract] wasn't literally signed last night, but the cabinet approved it. It may still be called in by one of the scrutiny committees for post-decision scrutiny, but that's standard practice.

"The contract won't be formally rubber-stamped until it's signed in the New Year. We're going into the Alcatel process now and we are very confident that the legal action won't delay the process."

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