Outsourcing giant Capita has finally signed a £320m services deal with Barnet Council after the contract sparked controversy and opposition from locals.
At the end of 2012, Capita was named as the preferred bidder for the deal to supply IT, human resource, payroll and call centre services to the authority in a move it claims would save £125m over the contract's 10-year lifespan.
The proposed project did not go down well with some residents, and disabled Barnet resident Maria Nash took the council to the High Court, claiming that the body did not properly consult on the deal – dubbed "easycouncil" by critics.
Nash lost the battle – despite claiming her life would be at risk if some of the health-based services were outsourced – as it was ruled she submitted her application too late. She appealed the decision, but it recently emerged it was dismissed, meaning the controversial deal was given the green light.
In the appeal judgement, Lord Justice Underhill confirmed that the proceedings brought forward by Nash were past the deadline by which to do so.
Barnet Council welcomed the decision and its leader Richard Cornelius said the Capita contract was needed as the country is set for a decade of austerity.
"We can all now get on with making the huge savings in our back office costs which we need to do if we are to continue protecting our frontline services," he said.
"We have to be clear that we are in line for a decade of austerity and we have to look at all opportunities to drive down costs while supporting our services."
The Barnet Alliance for Public Services – a local group campaigning against the contract – said it was "surprised and disappointed" in the judgement, and described it as a "blow to democracy".
Maria Nash has applied for permission to approach the Supreme Court.
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