Sunday 17 May 2009

Barnet Council spends £31,000 on a new diary!

Another Not The Barnet Times Exclusive!

Barnet’s ability to waste our money seems to know no bounds. Unelected officers have decided that the council needs to buy a new room booking system to “facilitate more efficient room booking by Council staff for internal meetings held either at North London Business Park, Barnet House or Burnt Oak”.

According to the council report authorising the purchase: “Meetings can become delayed because of the inefficiency of the current room booking processes resulting in delayed timescales for resolution of Council business.”

But rather than starting with a blank sheet of paper, and working out how to solve a problem in the simplest and cheapest way, the council has gone straight for the gold plated solution with brass knobs on at a cost of £31,000. It is totally unnecessary and hugely wasteful.

This attitude sums up everything that is wrong with local government and, in particular, the abject failure of our elected politicians to keep control of costs.

In 2007/08 Barnet Council spent over £1.5 million on computer software licences - a figure which could have been slashed if it followed David Cameron’s suggestion of switching to Open Source Software.

Despite the difficult economic conditions, this waste of taxpayers money continues unabated. According to the report: “Tenders were invited from four suppliers based on preliminary research using contacts from other Councils and organisations with a similar requirement.”

In other words, rather than approach software developers, the council officer in charge of the project has just spoken to a few of his mates.

Not The Barnet Times has spoken to a small software development company - the type of business favoured by real Tories - whose owner told us: “What the council is trying to achieve is very simple in programming terms. The technology already exists and a secure web based system could be built, tested and be fully operational within a matter of months for a fraction of the amount the council are paying for an off the shelf solution.”

The decision to buy the gold plated version has been taken by an unelected officer which means that under the totally undemocratic local government laws introduced by Labour, it cannot be called in for scrutiny.

However, if the new Cabinet Member for Resources, Lynne Hillan, wants to prove she is not useless as some people think, her first job should be to put a stop to this contract, and start the process again.

When will the council stop wasting our money?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Or google for room booking software and take up one of the web based solutions that cost <$1000. This is not a new problem, Barnet is not special. Managing rooms is a problem for businesses, colleges and schools worldwide.

From my experience in dealing with this Officer over IT issues personally I did find common sense overly abundant.

Also, How much did the exercise scoping this with the ridiculous looking assessment take?