Update: Barnet bloggers have called for full independent public inquiry into Barnet Council’s handling of the MetPro contract.
The only way that trust can be restored in Barnet Council, following the MetPro debacle, is to hold a full public inquiry. We the undersigned call on Nick Walkley, CEO of Barnet Council, and Lynne Hillan, Council Leader, to immediately engage an independent investigator, enjoying the confidence of Barnet residents, to look into the relationship between MetPro Rapid Response/MetPro Emergency Response and Barnet Council. We demand to know what Barnet Council asked MetPro Rapid Response/MetPro Emergency Response to do and what Barnet Council has done with any information about residents it has had access to as a result of MetPro’s work. Contact for more details: Vicki Morris firstname.lastname@example.org
A former director of a security company now bust with £400,000 debts – has admitted that he equipped his security staff with security cameras so he could film protestors,bloggers and residents – who came to Tory Barnet council’s meeting which approved cuts.
A scoop by Georgia Graham – a reporter on the Hampstead and Highgate Express – following up exclusives on this site and by Broken Barnet -(See this link to Broken Barnet for the latest story http://bitly.com/i13ngn ) got an admission from Kevin Sharkey, one of the directors of MetPro. See http://bit.ly/frWGO1
In an interview today with me, he said: “Our staff normally wear clothing with cameras so we can document what is happening for both sides. It is normal practice at football matches and where there are large crowds.” He said he was doing the filming for people’s safety and for his own staff’s safety to make sure nobody was hurt.
” In this day and age nobody would act without authorisation and we were asked to do this by Barnet Council. We were preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. In the event nothing happened unlike at Camden and Haringey councils.”
He said the main reason why people could not watch the meeting was because they had arrived late and said that he knew people who were there were up ” tricks ” to get other people into the chamber which would have breached fire regulations.
” We know what tricks people got up to like saying they were going to the toilet to free a place and then coming back.”
He also amounted an extraordinary defence of the ” dire state ” of his company – saying he was an employee not a director – despite being registered at Companies House as a director.
He put the blame for the collapse on his partner Luigi Mansi saying ” he was running the company and he is going to have pay back a lot of money for a long time.”
” Me, I haven’t got a penny to my name and I am living in rented accommodation. I am part of the community myself. I was working 130 hours a week to keep the company going but it owed a lot of money in tax.”
Barnet Council yesterday insisted that it had not ordered MetPro to do this. In a statement the authority said:
“MetPro has gone into liquidation and the council has terminated its contract. At no point has the council ever authorised security staff carrying lapel cameras.
“Unlike some other London boroughs, the setting of the budget in Barnet at cabinet and council was held with the public present and at the advertised time and place. Every resident who arrived at Hendon Town Hall by the start of the meeting had a place in either the public gallery or the overflow room.”
Whoever is right this is a damning indictment of local democracy at Barnet Council. They have employed people who are equipped to film people at a public meeting. They have banned bloggers and residents from filming, tweeting or recording their own council against the advice of Eric Pickles, the communities secretary. They also have paid over £275,000 to a private security firm that has ended almost owing all that in unpaid tax. They either don’t know what they are doing or don’t care.