Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Guest Blog - Barnet - a democracy free zone - by John Sullivan

By John Sullivan,

Last night Monday 19th November 2012 along with my wife Ida and my daughter Susan I attended the showing of the film " The Billion Pound Gamble ", that is all about what is happening in Barnet. We also watched a brilliantly  animated film about the financial risk  and the threats of the One Barnet programme for Barnet residents public services that they rely upon, from the threatened One Barnet programme.

Thanks to the help of Labour MP Dave Anderson we were in committee room 12 of the house of commons and we were not alone, this very large committee room was packed with Barnet residents from the elderly to the very young. We had all travelled on a cold November evening from Barnet to central London, to what is referred to across the world as the mother of democracy.

The place where decisions were made to challenge the tyranny of the likes of Hitler and fight for our democratic rights and our freedom of speech our right to be heard. The same mother of democracy that has in recent years made the decision to spend billions of British taxpayers pounds and at the cost of many young British lives, to fight for the democratic rights and the right of democracy and freedom of expression for the peoples of Sri Lanka  , The Balkans, Iraq,  Afghanistan , Libya and now considering spending millions supporting democracy in Syria.

Yet the most definitive and siren call from the people of Barnet that attended the showing of these two films was their collective cry for "Democracy " for the right to be heard, the right to be consulted on as huge a decision as the  "One Barnet Billion Pound Gamble". I have often referred to the London Borough of Barnet in recent months as a " Democracy Free Zone ", but last night it became clear that I am not alone in this opinion.

A small group of arrogant ideological and dogmatic  Barnet Tory councillors are pushing through the One Barnet Billion Pound Gamble in the face of opposition from a large portion of Barnet residents that include experts that reside in Barnet, and experts that have been engaged by Barnet residents to voice their professional opinions on the One Barnet programme, who have refused and are still refusing to consult with the people of Barnet on this huge gamble. Rather than consult they have chosen to abuse those opposing this programme, by referring to us as Luddites hags and other offensive descriptions. They have and are trampling over the rights of the Barnet residents to be heard they are smothering democracy, in fact if this One Barnet programme is forced through what little remains of democracy in Barnet will be finally snuffed out.

The people of Barnet will have no control over the destiny of their public services for at least ten years, neither will their elected representatives have any control because all issues and challenges will be outsourced and subject to commercial sensitivity. Based on facts and the history of privatisations to date and not the fiction being spouted by Tory councillors about the One Barnet programme ,the contract of which they have to date not even seen to date. There is a better than 25% chance this Billion Pound Gamble will fail and services across the board will suffer dramatically, yet still these undemocratic dogmatic and ideological Tories press on with privatisation at any price . Driven by their lust for privatisation and their hatred of the welfare state and the need to support the weak the vulnerable the disabled the unemployed,  that with their help and the assistance of our Prime Minister and the right wing press have been converted in less than 3 years from being poor dears to scrounging bastards.

What I learned to my absolute horror last night in the very bowels the very womb of democracy in this house of  commons , is that Barnet is now officially a democracy free zone, and according to Barnet Tory councillors the ballot box is no longer  relevant certainly for the next three local elections. Because this One Barnet programme is for a minimum of ten years, so at least until 2023 and possibly as long as 2028 Barnet residents elected representatives will have no control over the provision and or the quality of public services in Barnet, democracy in Barnet will in effect become redundant as will the need for electing local councillors.
Can I ask the people of Barnet reading this blog to sit quietly and try to imagine what a huge a colossal sum of money One Billion Pounds is, I know it will be difficult  but you should all try because it is so important.  Don't for one second believe  " not me guv " " it doesn't affect me " "  I am not affected " . On the factual basis that there is a better than 25% chance this project will fail by at least 25%, the loss to the taxpayers of Barnet will be one quarter of one billion pounds. that can be added to the millions that Barnet councillor s have already lost in recent years on other failed privatisations of public services that were also supposed to have robust contracts to protect the residents of Barnet from loss. Everybody will be affected when this lunacy goes belly up, road repairs refuse collections, adult services, childrens service , health services and every other service right across the board will have to be subjected to huge cuts to make up the deficit.
Barnet council were referred to by a leading expert in public services , as the council with the worst record of outsourcing ( privatisation ) of public services he had ever encountered ( or words to that effect ). Professor Dexter Whitfield another leading expert in this field has made it clear there is a better than 25% chance the wheels will fall off this One Barnet programme. Yet Barnet Tory councillors refuse to listen, refuse to engage in discussion or meaningful consultation with these experts representing the fears of Barnet residents. These supposed elected representative of the people of Barnet that are ignoring the siren cries of Barnet residents, and refusing to meaningfully consult on such an enormous issue. Are stifling democracy in Barnet and the light of democracy in Barnet will finally be extinguished, if they are allowed to force through the One Barnet programme.

It is truly frightening to witness in the very heart of democracy the very house of parliament that has spent billions of our taxes bringing democracy to many foreign lands, to hear Barnet residents crying out for and demanding their democratic  rights their right o a democratic an opinion and a voice. The democratic right of meaningful consultation in the face of the ideological and dogmatic Tory councillors that are denying them their democratic rights, along with their democratic right of a referendum on as huge an issue as One Barnet.
I learned last night that I am not alone in believing that London Borough of Barnet is now officially  in the eyes of many Barnet residents of all and no political persuasion " A Democracy Free Zone ", and until the people of Barnet wake up and smell the coffee, we are all heading for disaster at the hands of our inept incompetent dogmatic and ideologically driven  undemocratic  Barnet Tory councillors.
John Sullivan is a parent/carer of Susan Sullivan. He has launched legal action against Barnet Council asking for a judicial review of the One Barnet Program. He explains his reasons in this video. Guest blogs are always welcome.


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