Barnet Council has been urged to work more collaboratively with the community in East Finchley to make a success of their plans for the Old Barn Community Centre on Tarling Road. In a meeting with acting Barnet Council Chief Executive John Hooton and Labour Group leader Cllr Barry Rawlings, East Finchley's three Labour Party Councillors Arjun Mittra, Alison Moore and Alon Or-bach laid out a number of concerns about the stalled progress, and future organisation and management of the replacement for the Old Barn.
Cllr Mittra said:
"We are very keen that all the hard work to get the Old Barn back into community use should not go to waste, and that a building that is used by the whole local community is built. We were concerned that the Council were looking to rent the building at full market rate, which would be unaffordable to many local small start up groups. We are also keen to ensure there is enough space inside the building for the groups interested. The internal configurations are very unclear at the moment, and it is proving difficult to negotiate the right arrangement."
Cllr Moore added:
"It was helpful to meet Mr Hooton, as we feel progress on the project has been dragging. As Cllr Rawlings said in the meeting, the Council has trumpeted this as a successful capital project. However, if we don't get this much anticipated community building right, the council runs the risk of alienating local residents, and failing on their promises to the Somali Bravanese community organisation that is due to be part of the building."
Cllr Or-bach also added:
"Progress on the project hasn't been helped by numerous changes in personnel in the Council. Many of the groups we had hoped might come in to work, at least initially as head lessee, do not appear to have been explored as options."