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Barnet's 'budget airline' proposals grab the front pages

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Barnet LBC have hit the front pages by branding its restructuring plans as akin to a budget airline business model.

The Guardian’s lead story reported on the council’s plans to adopt a no-frills approach to public services dubbed “EasyCouncil” by a spokesman, in reference to budget airline EasyJet.

Households will be able to pay extra to jump the queue for planning consents just as budget airlines charge extra for priority boarding.

As reported earlier in LGC, Barnet has been working for months on plans for a new way of working that would see virtually all services contracted out to private or voluntary sector providers with the council retaining a purely commissioning role.

However, when initial findings from the work were delivered in July, it appeared the proposals had been scaled back in ambition with the primary focus a rationalisation of the borough’s £500m property portfolio.

Communities secretary John Denham said: “While it is one thing to put up with Ryanair’s level of service for a couple of hours, no-one wants to live in a Ryanair world, where you have to pay extra, even for the very basics.

“The big challenge for local councils over coming years is to protect high quality front-line services for everyone.

“This shows that Cameron’s Tories are not even going to try and only want those who can pay twice to get decent services from local councils or from the NHS.”

The final report is due to go the cabinet on 21 October.

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