Barnet to outsource planning

Barnet Council officers have recommended Capita as the preferred bidder to join the council in a joint venture to deliver planning, development and regulatory services in the borough.

The contract will be delivered by Capita’s property and infrastructure business. The proposal will be put to the council’s cabinet on June 24.

The council says the new joint venture will provide savings of £39 million over current costs on a contract worth £154 million over 10 years. The business will be based in Barnet and, they say, will keep staffing at broadly the current level.

In addition to financial savings the proposals also provide for an investment of £8.2million, largely in new technology, improving facilities and staff training.

The council say the joint venture will play a key role in enhancing the environment of the borough and ensuring the borough’s growth benefits the largest number of residents.  Barnet is home to two of London’s major regeneration sites; Colindale, where the Metropolitan Police College site is shortly to come into the market, and Brent Cross Cricklewood, where the non-retail elements alone cover 151 hectares.

The joint venture will provide Building Control, Land charges, Planning (Development Management), Strategic Planning and Regeneration, Highways Services, Environmental Health, Trading Standards and Licensing and Cemetery and Crematorium services to the borough.

Planning Policy will be set by elected councillors and planning committees will continue exactly as at present.

Capita was selected as preferred bidder to run Barnet’s back office services earlier this year in a separate contract – known as One Barnet. The council successfully defended a judicial review into the service change last month.

Councillor Richard Cornelius, Leader of Barnet Council said: “We believe that the combination of our public sector skills and the entrepreneurship of the private sector can lead to a growing Barnet based business. There won’t be many local authorities preserving, if not growing, staff levels in these services over the coming decade. As importantly, at a time of financial stringency, we will see an investment in new technology to improve the services we offer residents.”

Capita reportedly beat EC Harris to the contract.

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