Barnet Tory Leader: Extra police "not worth the money"

Barnet's Conservative Council Leader, Richard Cornelius, described a proposal for 15 extra neighbourhood police officers as "not worth the money" during last night's Full Council budget debate (7 March).

Labour councillors included funding for the 15 extra beat police officers in their alternative budget - taking advantage of the Mayor of London's 'buy one get one free' police offer to local councils.

Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings said: "I was appalled when the Barnet Tory Leader said investing in more police 'is not worth the money'.

"Crime and the fear of crime is one of the top three concerns of local people according to the Council's own Residents' Perception Survey, and we know that people value visible police on our streets.

"After the terrible cuts to local safer neighbourhood teams, with the number of police officers in each team having been slashed from nine to three by Boris Johnson, we proposed recruiting 15 additional police officers to deal with crime hotspots across the borough as and when needed.

"It just goes to show how completely out-of-touch the Barnet Tories are with public opinion that they can claim this is 'not worth the money'."

Labour councillors also proposed funding for brighter LED street lights, after the Tories dimmed 26,000 street lights in Barnet, and prioritised affordable housing, library staff, and cleaner streets in their alternative budget.

The alternative budget included:

  • Reversing the Conservative's plan to reduce street cleaning frequencies - a cut of £600,000;
  • A free bulky item collection service to help reduce fly-tipping;
  • Extended library staffed hours for Core and Core+ libraries so they are staffed between 4-8pm at least 4 days a week and on Saturdays between 9.30am-5pm;
  • Replacing the borough's 26,000 dimmed lights with brighter LED lights;
  • 15 additional police officers under the Mayor of London's 'buy one get one free' offer to councils;
  • 800 new council homes to be rented at 50 per cent of market rates to replace those lost through the Conservatives’ plans to re-develop the four largest council estates in Barnet.

The proposals in the fully costed and validated alternative budget are funded by:

- a £129k reduction in spend on agency staff

- a £300k reduction in spend on council communications

- a £220k reduction in the number of committees, their associated administrative costs and spend on special responsibility allowances for committee Chairs

- a £1.3m reduction in senior management and other management posts

- scrapping free councillor parking permits

- a £75k reduction in the Barnet Mayor's budget, and the scrapping of councillors' refreshments at council meetings

The additional council homes are funded by a mix of borrowing paid back over 50 years, and use of future commuted payments and right to buy receipts.

Ends

Notes:

For a copy of the Labour Group alternative budget see: http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/b29168/Amendment%20-%20Labour%20Alternative%20Budget%202017-18%2007th-Mar-2017%2019.00%20Council.pdf?T=9 

For more information contact:

Cllr Barry Rawlings - Cllr.b.rawlings@barnet.gov.uk

To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

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