Barnet Council: Street Scene services to remain in-house as "most efficient, effective and economic option"

Barnet Council's Environment Committee has agreed to keep Street Scene services in-house, including waste, re-cycling and street cleansing, as it's likely to be the "most efficient, effective and economic option" according to a report discussed at a meeting on 11 May.

The committee report found that the full in-house option would save up to £5.5m over the next 3 years compared to the other options (in-house with management support from the Barnet Group or a Local Authority Trading Company). The report also recognises the hard work of the Council's street scene staff and that keeping the service in-house enables them to focus on improving the service even further.

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Audit concerns raised over Capita-run health and safety function for 800 council buildings

An internal audit report has given a 'limited assurance' rating to Barnet Council's Capita-run health and safety function for around 800 council owned and managed buildings including the Town Hall, Barnet House, libraries, schools and community centres.

Operational responsibility for health and safety related activities was outsourced to Capita under the ten year Customer and Support Group (CSG) contract just over three years ago, but the Council is still ultimately responsible for health and safety risks to its buildings and retains responsibility for oversight of health and safety compliance.

The audit report found that the monthly reports Capita CSG produce for the Council "do not provide clear and useful data to enable Council management to have oversight and be provided with sufficient assurance over the compliance of the Estate. The ongoing reporting in relation to the compliance status for the non‐civic estate is not sufficient to facilitate effective oversight."

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Housing crisis: 3,703 homeless families re-housed outside borough due to lack of affordable housing

Over 3,700 homeless Barnet families have been re-housed in temporary accommodation outside the borough over the last five years according to official Barnet Council figures (2011/12-2015/16).

Barnet Council placed 3,244 families elsewhere in London, and 459 families outside London.

The Conservative-run Council has failed to meet their own affordable housing targets over the last three reported years, with an average of only 28% of all homes completed being 'affordable' between 2012/13-2014/15 (1,096 affordable homes) against a target of 40%. 

In the previous three years Barnet Council only delivered 27% affordable homes (679 homes between 2009/10-2011/12).

In 2015/16 only 18% affordable homes were delivered (257 homes).

Lack of affordable housing has been the top concern in successive Residents' Perception Surveys over the last few years.

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Labour secure result on poorly signed loading bay where estimated £1million in parking fines issued

Parking fines levied on unsuspecting motorists at a loading bay near a Sainsbury's Local in Heath Parade, Colindale could be a thing of the past after lobbying by Labour councillor, Gill Sargeant.

Residents have complained that 'no parking' signs at the loading bay are too small to be noticed, and have estimated that around fifty people a day are fined £60 each vehicle as a result, possibly netting the private parking contractor £1 million in parking fines a year.

Cllr Sargeant asked Barnet Council to adopt Heath Parade, which is currently owned by Genesis Housing Association, and introduce clearer parking arrangements.

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Labour councillors call for parking permit cock-up to be sorted out

Local councillors are aware that over 100 resident parking permits have been issued by mistake to residents of a new development of 84 flats and 11 houses at 931 High Road N12 in North Finchley.

When the development was granted planning permission, a condition was imposed preventing the future residents from obtaining parking permits due to the lack of parking places in the surrounding roads. The development provides 114 spaces - around 1 parking space for each apartment, two for each house and including 12 disabled parking bays.

It now appears that Barnet council failed to amend the Traffic Management Order and did not have an effective system in place to check permit applications. As a result, when residents of the new development applied for parking permits they were granted despite this being in breach of a planning condition.

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Labour councillors launch petition to reverse planned cuts to popular 384 bus route

Transport for London has been asked to reconsider and reverse a planned cut in the frequency of the 384 bus route from 15 minutes to 20 minutes, and the removal of the extra bus serving the JCOSS school run in New Barnet.

Barnet's Labour councillors have launched a petition which supports the Mayor of London’s drive to reduce air pollution near schools, but says that is at odds with TfL running down a popular bus service. The petition has already obtained over 240 signatures.

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Barnet Labour call for Government to guarantee right of 40,000 EU Barnet residents to remain in UK

Barnet's Labour councillors have called for the Government to take the moral high ground and guarantee the right of 40,000 EU citizens living in Barnet to stay in the UK post-Brexit.

In a motion to last night's Full Council meeting (4 April) Labour councillors argued that neither British citizens living in EU countries nor EU citizens living in the UK should be used as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations, and guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK would help secure an early agreement for British citizens living in the EU.

The motion called on Barnet Council to issue a statement in support of the rights of these citizens to remain where they live post-Brexit.

Barnet's Conservative councillors refused to support the motion

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Air pollution: Barnet Labour call for Government to support Mayor of London's diesel scrappage fund

Barnet's Labour councillors are calling for the Government to support Mayor Sadiq Khan's proposals for a diesel scrappage fund of up to £515 million to help tackle unlawful, poisonous air pollution in the borough and London.

The Mayor's scheme would financially compensate diesel vehicle owners with payments of £3,500 each for up to 70,000 polluting London van and minibus drivers to buy cleaner vehicles, £2,000 credit scheme to help low-income London families scrap up to 130,000 cars, and £1,000 to help scrap London’s oldest taxis - with additional support by the Mayor.

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Statement on Ken Livingstone suspension

Following the decision by the Labour Party to suspend Ken Livingstone for a further year, Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings said:

"Ken Livingstone should have been expelled from the Labour Party following his offensive comments - suspension is merely a slap on the wrists.

"He continues to be in denial about the offense he has caused the Jewish community and the harm he has caused the Labour Party, and has shown no contrition about either.

"In making his comments Ken Livingstone was engaging in Holocaust revisionism and the Barnet Labour Group will support any and all measures to ensure he is expelled from the Labour Party.

"Barnet Labour will continue to fight anti-Semitism in all its forms."

Ends.

For more information contact Cllr Barry Rawlings: cllr.b.rawlings@barnet.gov.uk

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Labour slam "rabbit hutch" homes that will turn Barnet House into a "human filing cabinet"

Barnet's Labour councillors have slammed plans to turn offices in Barnet House into miniscule flats as small as 16 square metres - more than half the national minimum space standard for a single person (37sqm).

The plans for the 254 flats over eleven floors - 96 per cent of which will be smaller than 37sqm - have been highlighted in a Guardian article published yesterday.

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