Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Exclusive: No Ball Games on the Mayor of Barnets new Lawn !!!!!

I went up to the Hendon Town Hall to join the Barnet Community Campaign lobby of the Mayoral Inauguration. The campaigners were protesting against the Barnet Tory Council's policy of cutting wardens for the elderly and vulnerable.
A petition was also handed in for consideration.

The council are making savage cuts to this service in a frantic effort to plug the black hole in the finances left by the outgoing cabinet member for resource management, Mike Freer. Due to the mismanagement of theBorough's investment policy, the council is unable to access £27.4 Million of it's reserves. This is rather inconvenient as they need £11 Million of it to plug the overspend on Aerodrome Road Bridge project. According to the Councils accounts, the £27.4 Million has been borrowed. Now I am not sure at what rate of interest this deal was done at, but if it was at 3.5%, a typical rate for the time the loan was taken, the interest would be approx £959,000 per annum. This figure is a sum remarkably similar to the saving derived from abolishing the wardens. So to be able to pay the interest on this dodgy deal, it rather looks as if the elderly and the vulnerable are being sacrificed. A Barnet Tory Councillor said to me a few weeks ago that times are hard and everyone will have to make savings. He commented that I was lucky to have a Tory council as they would take tough decisions and not shirk from cutting all unnecessary waste.

So there I was at the inauguration of the new mayor with 50 or so other protestors. As the protest wound down, I was having a nice chat with Labour Councillor Julie Johnson's (our Julie as she likes to be known) husband, a proper old school Labour supporter. As we were putting the world to rights, a pleasant lady from Barnet Council approached us. "You are ruining our lovely new lawn, please move". I replied "New Lawn?". She replied "Yes and the lovely new flower beds, just been put in for the mayors inauguration". At this I asked "At what cost?". Realising she was talking to someone who had stood in the cold for an hour, protesting because the council says it can't afford decent care for the elderly, she diplomatically replied "I can't remember". I then asked if the Town Hall is fully operational. She replied "Oh no there is still lots of building work to do".

Am I right in thinking that a Council who have all the financial woes of Barnet, who are so hard up they can't even fund proper care for the elderly and vulnerable, have laid a new lawn & flowerbeds, suspended building work, done a quick make over of a half finished building, purely so the new mayor can be inaugurated in a building that is a bit prettier than North London Business park. I am going to be putting in an FOI request to find out how much the lovely new lawn and flower beds cost. It should take 28 days to turn around. Any guesses?

Have a look at the pictures at the top of the blog. Oh and just in case they say that it was just regular maintenance, I noticed that the Library next door, had some rather less magnificent specimens in it's flower beds.

So now you know, in the eyes of Barnet Council's Tory rulers, a nice setting for the new Mayor's big night is a higher priority than looking after the borough's old people.

Oh and on the subject of the Mayor's big night. My congratulations to Brian Coleman on being granted the honour of serving the Borough of Barnet as it's Mayor. I look forward to warmly shaking his hand when my daughter receives her award from the Borough for her magnificent swimming achievements. She really enjoyed meeting the outgoing Mayor, John Marshall last year.

On a completely different subject, can anyone recommend a good glove shop?


Don't Call Me Dave said...

I was listening to Peter Kellner of YouGov interviewed on BBC News this evening. He said: “The whole culture of politics has to change if voters are to be impressed.”David Cameron gets it. Nick Clegg gets it. Sadly, the dinosaurs on Barnet Council seem to be stuck in a time warp. They still don’t get it.

Scarlett the Heavenly Healer said...

Oh dear, how sadly typical of London councils - forget the real issues, make it look superficially nice, the public will be fooled and the councils will look good. Or so they shortsightedly think.
Thankfully there are people like you in the world Rog, to expose all this rubbish.
Yes, I wonder how much all that gardening cost too - and have no doubt it will be the most expensive lawn in history! I live in LB Camden who are no better. Legalised thieving I call it.