Where do we start!
Within weeks of winning the election in 2010, the Barnet Conservatives' were already rail-roading through a whopping pay rise of over 100% for themselves. This was despite obvious outrage from members of the public who felt it was totally unjustified for those councillors to take bumper pay rises when everyone else was facing pay freezes and cuts. All in this together?
But this isn't the only example of the Barnet Conservatives' lack of enagement and disregard for local residents concerns.
Even before the 2010 local elections, the Barnet Conservatives were scrapping sheltered housing wardens despite public outcry and consultation results that showed most people were not in favour of the proposal. It was only following a successful Judicial Review that the proposal to cut the wardens was stopped. The High Court found that the Barnet Tories had breached disability discrimination laws that are there to protect vulnerable residents.
The Barnet Conservatives' more recent failures to consult or listen to consultation results have been widely publicised:
Friern Barnet Library (and Library policy in general!) - they tried to close this Library even though local people were willing to save the council money by running it themselves as a community Library. The council ended up wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds defending a court case, opening a temporary Library at the artsDepot and on feasibility studies for a 'replacement' Library at the artsDepot that was later scrapped.
The shambolic parking regime - 300% increases in visitor parking permits, cashless parking imposed across the Borough, stealth taxing residents in CPZs to fill their budget black hole - all without consultation.
The 'One Barnet' Programme - the plan to privatise critical frontline services worth up to £1billion with no consultation of local people.
All of these decisions landed the Barnet Conservatives in court because they failed to properly consult, listen, engage with and act on residents' concerns. This basic failure in the administration of Barnet council has left their policies in turmoil and chaos. It's hard to think of a policy which hasn't been challenged or resulted in an embarrassing U-turn due to public outcry. Renting out public parks to private companies was yet another short lived policy....
We need a complete culture change in the way that Barnet council operates. We need to change how consultations are run, how the council engages with local residents and how it acts on their concerns.
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