Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings' letter to the Jewish News and Jewish Chronicle after attending the 'Call to Action against anti-Semitism' in Parliament Square on Monday 26 March:
Yesterday, to show our ongoing solidarity with the Jewish community, I led a delegation of Barnet Labour councillors, local election candidates and party members to the 'Call to Action against Anti-Semitism' in Parliament Square.
Barnet has the largest Jewish population of any local authority area in the U.K., and we know from our own experience the level of concern Jewish residents have about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.
They feel these concerns are not being fully acknowledged and addressed by the Labour Party leadership, and that's why I am glad Jeremy Corbyn has said he wants to meet urgently with the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Serious progress must be made to acknowledge and address these deep seated concerns, and that requires more than making statements, it requires action.
- 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.”Read more
In solidarity with the Jewish community and Jewish Labour members, the Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings, will be leading a delegation of Barnet Labour councillors, local election candidates and party members to attend the 'Call to Action against Anti-Semitism' taking place in Parliament Square at 5.30pm this evening.
Cllr Rawlings said:
"I will be attending the protest this evening in support of the Jewish community and Jewish Labour Party members.
"In Barnet we know from our own experience the level of concern Jewish residents have about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party because they talk to us about it on the doorstep.
"Serious progress must be made to acknowledge and address these deep seated concerns, and that is why I will be attending and supporting the Call to Action event at Parliament Square.
"Barnet Labour stands alongside the Jewish community, as we always have and we always will. We are committed to working with the Jewish community to ensure anti-Semitism has no refuge in our Party or anywhere."
Labour councillors have highlighted new cuts to street cleaning at weekends across Barnet. This has been blamed on an overspend in the budget as the end of the financial year approaches. At last week’s Environment Committee (14 March), the Conservative chair of the Environment Committee, Cllr Dean Cohen, admitted that the cuts had had a “noticeable effect” on town centres, including overflowing litter bins, although claimed that a subsequent reversal of part of the cuts had improved the situation.Read more
Barnet's Labour councillors have highlighted the poor state of phone boxes on the borough’s streets, with many not working, vandalised, covered in graffiti or in a poor state of repair.
At last week’s Environment Committee (14 March), Labour councillors got unanimous agreement to seek urgent action. Officers have been asked to compile a detailed report on the scale of the problem to present to the telephone companies and to look at what powers the Council has if they fail to act.Read more
Following news that Conservative Councillor Sury Khatri has resigned from the Conservative Party after being de-selected by the Hendon Conservative Association, Barnet Council is now in no overall control (NOC).
Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings said:
"This is a tired and divided Barnet Conservative administration that has run out of ideas and energy. On Thursday 3 May Barnet's residents have a chance to vote for a brighter future with a Labour administration that's ambitious for Barnet and ready to govern."
Barnet's Labour councillors have got agreement that a stakeholder partnership board will be established to oversee the North Finchley town centre regeneration.A report on the North Finchley Town Centre Framework Supplementary Planning Document was discussed at this week's Policy & Resources Committee (13 Feb). Residents have complained not enough consultation has taken place on the scheme.
Labour's Housing Spokesperson and Deputy Leader, Cllr Ross Houston, proposed the Board be set-up to help address this, asking that residents are represented on it as well as local traders, businesses, landlords, Barnet Homes, community and faith groups.
Councillors launch petition to stop closure of Finchley Youth Theatre and Greentops Youth Activity Centre
Labour Councillors have started a petition against any future proposal to re-locate the Finchley Youth Theatre currently based in East Finchley, and the Greentops Youth Activity Centre currently based in Colindale, following publication of a Council consultation on the issue.
Councillors feel that re-location of the services will take them out of the communities they have served for many years, and will eventually result in complete closure of the centres.
The consultation entitled “Early Help Services for families” was launched on 1 February and sets out a number of proposals changing the way family support services, children’s centres and youth centres are delivered.Read more
Labour Councillors have got agreement from this week's Housing Committee (7 Feb) that Barnet Council will revise their assessment of housing needs in the borough so this is accurately reflected in key documents like the Council's Housing Strategy.
A Labour Council in Barnet would build significantly more genuinely affordable homes than the current Conservative administration, with an initial pledge of 800 new council homes and an ambition to deliver many more if funding can be identified.
A Government imposed cap on local authorities' borrowing restricts the number of new homes that Barnet Council can deliver themselves, but councils in some "high demand areas" can now apply to have their cap lifted.
Accurate housing needs data helps maximise the effectiveness of such an application.Read more