- A new Safer Barnet Police Team with 30 extra officers, 800 new council homes, cleaner streets and faster, better quality road repairs
- Cracking down on rogue landlords, anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping
- Barnet is No Place for Hate: action on identity-based crime including misogyny
- No change to Barnet council tax plans
Labour has launched its manifesto for Barnet Council, with practical policies to improve council services, housing and the local economy based on a year-long consultation with residents about their priorities.
Launching Labour’s council election campaign on Saturday 24 March, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry MP said:
“This election gives residents in Barnet a very clear choice. Labour’s policies are a direct response to residents’ concerns, making sure the things people in Barnet want to change really are going to change.
“You can have more of the same from the Conservatives, who have let developers build thousands of flats local people can’t afford and failed to keep the streets safe and clean.
“Or you can have real change with Labour, and a council that makes sure the benefits from new developments are shared fairly, recruits 30 extra police officers for the new Safer Barnet Police Team and takes tough action on fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour.”
Labour’s manifesto keeps to the council tax changes proposed by the current Conservative administration, with no rise in core council tax this year and a 3 per cent increase ring-fenced for the care of vulnerable adults and the elderly.
The impact of new housing and regeneration will be reviewed by a Fairness Commission so that the proceeds of growth taking place in Barnet benefit local residents and not just property developers.
Cllr Barry Rawlings, leader of Barnet’s Labour councillors, said:
“In the 16 years the Conservatives have controlled Barnet Council, residents have been ignored and services have been run down. Council tax payers’ money has been wasted on expensive consultants, fighting legal challenges and selling public land to developers at below market rates.
“The Conservatives closed three libraries, and cut staffed library opening hours by 70 per cent. They have failed to get a good deal on genuinely affordable homes from all the development taking place in the Borough.
“On Thursday 3 May Barnet’s residents have a chance to vote for a brighter future with a Labour Council that’s ambitious for Barnet and ready to govern.
“We will put residents first, build more genuinely affordable homes, crack down on crime and anti-social behaviour, build a thriving local economy, protect our environment and support families to lead healthy, happy lives.”
Labour’s priority policies are:
- Recruiting 30 extra police officers for the new Safer Barnet Police Team, who will crack down on anti-social behaviour and tackle drug dealing, modern slavery and criminal landlords.
- A ‘Don’t Mess With Barnet’ campaign to reverse the epidemic of fly-tipping which followed the Conservatives’ decision to scrap the area skip service. Residents will get a free doorstep collection service for large items of household refuse like fridges, mattresses and furniture. The council is spending £500,000 dealing with more than 10,000 incidents of fly-tipping a year.
- Building at least 800 new council homes to replace the 800 social homes that have been torn down under the Conservatives, and ensuring 50 per cent of homes in new developments are affordable. Protecting private renters with tough action against rogue landlords and a new tenants’ rights charter.
- Faster, better quality road repairs to address public anger at potholes, with a rigorous overhaul of maintenance contracts and payment based on the quality of the work.
- Supporting businesses and shopkeepers in local high streets with free parking for the first 30 minutes and ‘Shop Local’ campaigns.
- Restoring access to libraries for schoolchildren, by guaranteeing Saturday opening and four hours opening after school on at least four days a week. Library visits by children and adults have collapsed after the Conservatives cut staffed opening hours by 70%.
The 800 new council homes will be funded through a mixture of borrowing, capital receipts, rents and cross-subsidisation from the sale of new private homes. The council service changes will be financed by cutting the use of agency staff by £242,000, reducing the number of committees and the budget for councillors’ allowances by £112,000 and abolishing free parking permits for councillors which are only used by Conservative councillors and the Liberal Democrat councillor.
Council reserves will be used to fund the first three years of the Safer Barnet Police Team, with 30 extra officers supporting council enforcement against anti-social behaviour, criminal landlords, council tax fraud and drug-dealing.
The election in Barnet is the closest in the country. Labour had its best-ever result in 2014 winning 30 seats on the 63-seat council, and needs to win two more seats this year to have a majority.