The Barnet Group is a wholly-owned local authority trading company created by Barnet council in 2012 to run the council’s 15,000 council homes as well as adult social care services.

The company will be tasked with overseeing a ‘transformational change’ of Barnet’s street scene department, which will include measures to find a proposed £2.6 million of savings from waste costs.

Barnet’s commissioning director for environment, Jamie Blake, who joined the council in May 2015, will retain direct oversight of the department until the new arrangements are in place with The Barnet Group.

The interim management team will also be tasked with overseeing plans to turn the council into ‘a leader in London for recycling’ and setting in motion the council’s strategy to meet the 50% by 2020 recycling target.

Objectives

According to documents put to councillors ahead of a vote on the measure this week the existing street scene management team had failed to put in place management capacity to ‘enable the service to deliver against key objectives’.

It added: “The Street Services Delivery Unit (DU) is responsible for delivering a wide range of front line universal services across the Borough. Historically the service has delivered recycling waste and street cleansing services that have the highest resident satisfaction rating of all services within the authority, and a well-loved parks service. These services have generally been successful in keeping the Borough clean and making incremental improvements within the recycling service.”

The report added that the department had been under pressure to “do more with less”, but that concerns had been raised regarding ‘service pressures’, in particular: “Delivery of savings, achieving recycling targets, audit investigations, commercial waste services growth and management capacity.”

Strategy

Last month the council outlined its long term recycling strategy which targets a significant increase in the capture of recycling from flats as a means of boosting its performance (see letsrecycle.com story).

Barnet was one of the first councils in England to introduce a compulsory recycling service, which was put in place March 2004, and helped to increase the borough’s recycling rate to around 29.97% by 2006.

Despite a target of 50% recycling by 2020, progress in Barnet has since been slow with an overall rate of 37.95% recorded for 2014/15 – falling short of its aspirational 41% target for the year.

A spokesperson for the council, said: “The senior management oversight of Street Scene services will transfer from Barnet council to The Barnet Group from the 1st March.

“This is an interim measure that will be in place for six months. It does not impact on Street Scene staff who will remain employed by Barnet council.”