These are just some of the things we've achieved in opposition by working with local residents, traders and community groups. Imagine what we could do in power!
Protecting the housing rights of domestic violence victims: Barnet Council consulted on requiring survivors of domestic violence to register as homeless before rehousing them. This would have had the effect of removing their priority status on the housing waiting list, dropping from Band 1 down to Band 2 or 3. If these proposals were implemented they would have set a dangerous precedent for our society as well as the way we treat those who have survived domestic violence - who are often forced to choose between their safety and their own home. Labour councillors started a petition against this plan, and opposed it at Full Council and Housing Committee meetings. The Conservatives finally agreed to maintain the Band 1 priority status of domestic violence victims in the housing allocations scheme.
Cardboard and plastic re-cycling: We campaigned to get the council to include cardboard and plastic in Barnet's re-cycling contract for over 2 years, obtaining support for it from residents with a petition, and callng for it in council motions and at scrutiny committees. The Conservatives finally agreed to include cardboard and plastic in doorstep re-cycling in 2007.
Sheltered housing wardens: Labour councillors opposed the scrapping of sheltered housing wardens proposed by the Conservatives in 2009. We worked with service users, the Trades Unions and the local community by supporting their petitions and public demonstrations against this savage cut. We also opposed it in Council motions and at scrutiny by calling for a review of the policy. The Conservatives rolled-back on the decision to scrap the wardens following a legal challenge in the High Court that ruled the decision was unlawful.
Councillors allowances: We campaigned against the Conservative councillors awarding themselves massive pay rises of up to £20,000 each in July 2010 after the Local Elections, alongside local residents and even the local newspapers. The Conservatives caved in to public pressure and reversed the increases in September 2010. The Labour Group have proposed reducing councillors allowances at every budget meeting.
Private Hire of Parks: In 2012 the Conservatives came up with a plan to allow the private hire of local parks. Many residents contacted us with concerns about increased traffic, parking problems, noise nuisance and environmental damage. We supported their petitions against the plan and opposed it in scrutiny and at council meetings. The Conservatives withdrew their plans.
Henlys Corner: Labour councillors campaigned for a safer crossing and road safety treatment at Henlys Corner following accident after accident - some fatal - over a decade. In spring 2008, former Labour Deputy Mayor of London, Nicky Gavron AM helped us convince TfL and the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone that something needed to be done. They came up with a complete re-engineering of the junction and Mayor Ken pledged to implement it after the London elections. The junction treatment proposed under Ken was later implemented by Boris Johnson who won that London Election.
Car park charges: The Conservatives tried to introduce charging in the 7 free council car parks last year, but following a vigorous campaign by residents and Labour councillors, they backed-down.
Parking permit charges: In 2011 the Conservatives hiked up parking permit charges by up to 300% in one year. Labour councillors started a petition against the increases, which over 7,000 residents signed. We also raised it in council motions and at scrutiny committee meetings, and marched with hundreds of residents against the plans. Local residents themselves started a CPZ Action Group and mounted a legal challenge against the permit hikes, which was ultimately successful in the High Court. The Council were found to have raised parking charges unlawfully and were ordered to pay everyone back and reverse the increases.
Town Centre parking charges: Town Centre and other on-street parking charges were also increased by the Barnet Conservatives in 2011. Labour opposed these in council and committee meetings, and supported local traders in their campaign to get the charges reversed - over 13,000 residents signed the Traders' petition. The Conservatives eventually agreed to review parking policy in town centres and reduced some of the charges.
Green permit charge: Following the historic High Court ruling that Barnet council had increased parking charges unlawfully, they were forced to reverse the permit and other parking charge increases. The Green parking permit, however, did not form part of the original legal challenge, and following the reversal of the increases Labour councillors found that the Green permit was being charged at a higher rate than an ordinary resident permit. We campaigned for this to be reduced also, and the Conservatives eventually caved-in.
Friern Barnet Library: Labour councillors, including the two local Labour councillors for Coppetts ward, supported residents in their campaign to stop the Conservatives closing Friern Barnet Library. We called the decision in to scrutiny, voting for it to be referred back to Cabinet for reconsideration; we proposed motions at Full Council against the closure; we campaigned on the doorstep and in our campaign leaflets against the closure; we supported the resident-run pop-up Library on the green outside the Library; and Labour activists Sarah Sackman (now Labour's parliamentary candidate in Finchley & Golders Geeen) and Reema Patel gave legal advice and represented the occupiers of the Library in court. The Conservatives have now agreed to keep the Library open as a Community-run Library.
Pinkham Way: North London Waste Authority proposed turning this Site of Special Scientific Interest into a waste treatment plant after the Barnet Conservatives sold the land to them. Residents opposed the plans because of concerns over the environmental impact this would have on local residents, children playing in a nearby playground and wildlife on the site. The Coppetts Labour councillors supported residents and the Pinkham Way Alliance, by raising the issue at Full Council meetings, making submissions to council consultations, and speaking at Planning hearings against the plans. The Planning Inspector stopped the process because of a lack of consultation or 'co-operation' with other councils, and NLWA finally withdraw the plans this autumn. Barnet council still intend pressing ahead with a plan to locate their depot on the site. Barnet's Labour councillors continue to oppose this plan.
Road Safety: Labour councillors have been calling for road safety measures to be funded and rolled out in Barnet streets where local residents want it. Labour's East Finchley councillors campaigned with local residents and the Walksafe N2 Campaign to get a 20mph zone in Church Lane for many years. After a lot of hard work by local people the scheme finally got agreement last year. Labour is also supporting other road safety campaigns in the Borough, and has been calling for a review of road safety across the Borough.
Tax on street parties: Following a campaign by Labour councillors, the Barnet Conservatives performed another u-turn this spring on the issue of charging residents for holding a street party. When people complained to us that they were being asked by the council to pay hundreds of pounds to hold a street party we called for the tax on street parties to be dropped and the Conservative Cabinet Member withdrew the charge.
London's Living Wage: Labour councillors this year got the Barnet Conservatives to agree to pay all directly employed council staff at least London's Living Wage after they discovered that over 800 workers were on less than £8.55 per hour. Following a successful council motion calling for the proposal, the council finally made the decision this October. This will mean that all directly employed staff will be on at least the current London Living Wage of £8.80 per hour, including dinner ladies, refuse loaders, cleaners and Library Assistants. Labour is now campaigning to roll that out to all contracted-out council staff. If everyone in London was on at least London's Living Wage it could save the government up to £823million a year by increasing the income tax base and reducing welfare payments.
Big London Energy Switch: Labour councillors have been campaigning on the cost of fuel bills as Barnet has around 14,000 families in fuel poverty who are often having to make the choice between heating their home or eating. We suggested in a motion to council that LB Barnet join the London Councils Big London Energy Switch that helps residents get the lowest fuel bills on offer. Our motion was discussed by Barnet's Cabinet earlier this year, and the Conservatives finally agreed to join the scheme this summer.