Barnet Tories refuse to lobby against funding cuts to 100 Barnet schools

Barnet's Conservative councillors have refused to write to the Government opposing cuts to 100 Barnet schools that are due to take effect next year as a result of the new National Funding Formula.

A petition with over 2,000 signatures, started by the Barnet Labour Group and calling for Barnet Council to lobby to ensure no school loses funding under the new formula, was presented to last week's Children, Education, Libraries & Safeguarding Committee (CELS) by local parent and school governor Lisa Pate (15 November).

The Conservative councillors voted against Labour's motion that they should add their political weight to the campaign by writing to the Government before next week's Budget announcement. The Tory Chair of the CELS committee has previously said that the funding formula was "fair".

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East Finchley war memorial finally installed at library

East Finchley Labour Councillor Arjun Mittra has welcomed the installation of a plaque listing the names of local First World War dead inside the entrance of East Finchley library.

The plaque was formerly part of the Royal British Legion based on Brackenbury Road, which was demolished in 2013. The developers of the site removed the plaque and donated it to a plaque collector, against planning conditions.

Cllr Mittra's interventions ensured that the plaque was returned to the ownership of the Council. After it was recovered in 2014, he suggested that East Finchley Library would be the most appropriate location of the plaque, as the names of those commemorated were members of a con-conformist and non-Congregationalist group, and the placement of the plaque within a church was considered inappropriate.

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Capita fined £55k for failure to complete Barnet accounts on time

Barnet Council has fined Capita £55,000 for failing to complete the authority's accounts by the end of July 2017, the contractual deadline.

An Audit Committee report discussed at last week's meeting (2 Nov) said that "the [Capita] CSG finance service was going through a major restructure which spanned the year end period. As a result, vacancies had to be held in the team in the event of redeployment. An interim member of staff was brought in to cover a key role, however the lack of a permanent, experienced team meant there was a lack of resources in the core accounts closure team."

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Barnet Tories push through surprise 20 per cent hike to all day car park charges

Barnet's Conservative councillors voted to hike up all day car park charges by 20 per cent at last night's Environment Committee (7 Nov), and have delegated the final decision as to where this should apply to officers, rather than take the decision themselves.

The report on fees and charges says "Charge for All Day parking in chargeable Car Parks (Note -All other car park charges to remain as is – only the All Day charge to increase)", and the increase is shown as 20% from £5 to £6.

Council officers at the meeting said that the increase would apply where commuters parked and there was high demand, and in areas where nearby station car parks were more expensive and the Council all day charge could be raised and still be competitive.

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Donoghue's to vacate Tilling Road site in 9 days

Waste management and skip company PB Donoghue will be vacating the former Dixon's site in Tilling Road within 9 days after residents and Labour councillors raised their on-going use of the site at last night's Environment Committee (7 Nov).

Questions about the cost of security at the site by local campaigner, Anne Clarke, who spoke at the meeting, went unanswered but resulted in a commitment that all Donoghue's equipment would be cleared by 17 November. Maureen Byrne, Chair of the local residents group, also spoke and called for action.

PB Donoghue is using the site for vehicle parking and skip storage free of charge. Barnet Council has collected no rent from them but is paying for security.

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Barnet Labour call for proactive advice on council tax to dementia sufferers

Barnet's Labour councillors are calling for the Council to provide more proactive advice to residents living with dementia after learning that fewer than 979 are claiming the council tax exemption, or discount they are entitled to.

Residents with dementia are eligible for 100% discount on council tax if they live alone, and 25% discount if they live with only one non-disregarded resident. Eligibility also relies on a statement by their GP and a qualifying benefit.

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Colindale betting shop application to be re-heard following legal concern

The planning committee decision to allow a Paddy Power betting shop at the Edition development in Colindale will be set aside and the application re-heard, following concerns about the lawfulness of the decision.  

Labour Colindale councillors had written to Barnet Council's Chief Legal Advisor setting out their concerns that the decision may be unlawful because one Conservative member who attended and voted for the application on the 25 October was not present at the original meeting.

That councillor had not therefore heard the full application, representations and debate.

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Barnet Council foot security bill while skip company uses site for free

Labour councillors will be raising the cost to Barnet Council of security at the ex-Dixon's site in Tilling Road, which waste management and skip company PB Donoghue is using for vehicle parking and skip storage free of charge.

Labour's Environment Spokesperson, Cllr Alan Schneiderman, has submitted a Member's Item to Tuesday night's Environment Committee (7 November) asking for a report on the PB Donoghue site.

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U-turn to allow Colindale betting shop "may be unlawful"

Labour Colindale councillors have written to Barnet Council's Chief Legal Advisor with concerns that this week's decision to allow a Paddy Power betting shop at the Edition development may be unlawful.

Wednesday night's Planning Committee (25 October) voted 6-5 to reject reasons to refuse the planning application, and therefore allow the betting shop to open. This was despite a vote at a previous Planning Committee meeting against the application. The application had been deferred to the 25 October meeting solely to decide the reasons for refusal.

Labour councillors believe the u-turn is unlawful as one Conservative member of the Planning Committee who attended and voted for the application on the 25 October was not present at the original meeting. That councillor had not therefore heard the full application, representations and debate.

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Underhill Ark Academy gets go-ahead despite traffic fears

The Ark Academy planning application for a 1200 place secondary school at Underhill Stadium has been given the go-ahead by Barnet council's planning committee (26 Oct) despite fears over parking, congestion and the impact on the environment.

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