I have thought long and hard before writing this letter to you. I have been a loyal and enthusiastic member of the Conservative Party for very many years and of the Barnet community (where I have had the pleasure to live for over 50 years).
The events and the judgements you have made over the past few months have lead me to become ashamed to be your colleague.
I made my opinion clear to you and the Conservative Group at the first special meeting that you called, on June 27th, to discuss your preposterous proposal to increase the Leader and Cabinet allowances at this time.
Your Whip made it clear in a subsequent email to me that I could not vote as a matter of conscience, as I had requested, and that I would have to vote in favour of the majority view.
I felt manipulated but as a newly elected councillor was not sure what more I could do.
The public humiliation meted out to Cllr Kate Salinger was obscene bullying. I was ashamed to have you as my leader as you lashed out at someone who has served the Barnet Community with honour and dedication over many years.
You appear to be cynically determined to suckle as much as you can from the Barnet Civic teat and I consider your action to be a dereliction of your duty towards the residents of our Borough.
I did not become a Councillor for the allowances; I stood for election as I wanted to give something back the residents of Mill Hill. I believe in public service. I was very proud to be elected to represent the Mill Hill Ward and am proud to continue to serve them.
In this respect, I am no different to Barnet Councillors of all political affiliations, most of who feel as I do that it is a joy and an honour to serve our great Borough in the best way that we can.
I have just returned from abroad to find out you have released a press release with new proposals on allowances. How do you expect people to have any confidence in you putting out some half baked spin after allowing your Chief Whip, to trail through TV and radio stations peddling lines that have seen our support plummet in the country and Barnet? Why did you not bring your new proposals to Group for agreement? Will the public really believe that you wouldn’t u-turn again when the media loses interest . The passion with which you argued for a pay rise for you and your Cabinet makes it an incredible proposition that you wouldn’t seek to try this again next year.
The perception will now be that you have been caught in the glare of the headlights of public opinion and are now simply attempting to protect your own position.
You and your Cabinet members simply cannot impose a freeze on public sector wages and a dramatic decrease in expenditure on goods and services in our Borough - having just awarded themselves a huge increase, however you dress it up.
I have been a loyal and enthusiastic member of the Conservative Party for very many years but I consider your actions to be morally reprehensible and politically inept.
I am a true Conservative and I want to follow the party line, unlike Barnet who under your leadership stand alone and are now mocked and derided.
Grant Shapps made it publically clear that local authorities should be setting an example to their residents and not awarding themselves extra money in these austere times. The Coalition Cabinet and some other LA’s have taken a 5% reduction in allowances perhaps we should be supporting THAT example.
I believe your authority, judgment and political credibility is shot to pieces in the public's mind. We cannot go on with poor decision after poor decision. The majority of the Conservative Group shares this view. The correct course of action would have been for you to immediately admit your mistake and resign the Leadership with dignity.
This is why I have to tell you now that I will be voting for Mark Shooter and urging all my colleagues to do so. I cannot see how the Council, the Conservative Group and Party in the borough can recover under your leadership.
Cllr Brian Schama