Open letter to Leader of the Council, Cllr Richard Cornelius, from Cllr Alison Moore:
Last week’s result for the London Assembly seat of Barnet and Camden was as much a clear and overwhelming rejection by local people of environment policies being implemented in Barnet – particularly around parking and road safety – as it was a rejection of London-wide policies pursued by the former Assembly Member. We now have a situation where at least six separate and independent community groups are mounting grass roots resident-led campaigns against Barnet’s environment policies – North Finchley Traders, East Barnet residents, the Walksafe N2 Campaign, Barnet Alliance for Public Services, the CPZ Action Group and the Pinkham Way Alliance for example.
Given the strength of feeling displayed by local residents, I believe that the time has come for a complete rethink of council environment policy – particularly on parking, parks, road safety, waste and re-cycling and the sell-off of services like Cemeteries and Crematoria - and it seems to me that this simply cannot be done with the current Cabinet Member in the role.
I strongly believe that new political leadership in environmental services is required and would urge you to consider a change in direction as follows:
1. Parking: Bring forward the parking review that has been promised, to report to committee with options before the summer, rather than in September as originally proposed. The review should include options to reverse last year’s parking charge increases, more flexible methods of payment for parking in car parks and town centres, including cash and credit / smart card payment and scrapping of the proposed introduction of car park charges in the 7 remaining free car parks in the Borough. In addition it is imperative that the council work with local traders to ensure that our town centres remain vibrant (and that their economic footprint expands rather than contracts in this difficult economic climate) rather than damaging their viability with punitive parking charges.
2. Parks: Scrap the proposal for developing the private hire of parks that is so unpopular with local residents.
3. Road Safety: Stop the current review looking at removing traffic lights to increase traffic flows, and develop a proper programme for road safety across the borough working in partnership with residents and consulting them on any proposals.
4. Waste and re-cycling: Implement the options to increase re-cycling and reduce waste going to landfill as early as possible. Implement incentive schemes that will help boost re-cycling and reduce household waste. Find a better location for the waste treatment plant currently proposed at Pinkham Way that will allow bulk transport by canal and rail, for example the Industrial Estate in Upper Lea Valley.
5. Cemeteries and Crematoria: The officer report on Cemeteries and Crematoria states that the option presenting the most value for money is to keep this service in-house, yet Cabinet are now recommending that this be privatised. Cems and Crems should be kept in-house, and the millions of pounds in income they generate should not be shared with the private sector – it should be re-invested in local public services.
This is not an exhaustive list of reforms that are needed, but it is a start in the right direction towards rebuilding trust with local people.
Cllr Alison Moore
Leader of the Labour Group and of the Opposition