Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Barnet and the death of common sense

There is a press release on the Barnet Council website

Published Tuesday 26 February 2013
Barnet Council’s Cabinet Resources Committee last night approved the sale of Stanley Road playing fields in East Finchley to The Archer Academy.
The sale of the land, subject to planning permission, will also allow local community use of the site outside of school hours through a partnership between The Archer Academy and Sport East Finchley.
The Archer Academy is currently based at the Institute Arts Centre building on Beaumont Close, East Finchley. It will open its doors to its first intake of 150 pupils in September 2013.
Under the proposals, the site will eventually be split into a lower and upper school, with the younger pupils housed at the Stanley Road campus and the older year groups to be based at Beaumont Close. For the first two years the school will be based at Beaumont Close.
Mick Quigley, the Archer Academy's Headteacher, added: "This partnership between Sport East Finchley and The Archer Academy offers a wonderful opportunity for our pupils and the community at large.
“I look forward to working closely with the council and local residents as we develop the site for our new pupils and future use for first class sporting facilities for years to come.”
Councillor Andrew Harper, Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Families, added: “This is a win win situation for the borough and Archer Academy. The Archer Academy will be offering us places in a part of the borough where there is a shortage of community secondary school places. It is also a win for local residents and the borough as a whole.” 
I could not disagree more with a council policy than the short sighted and stupid policy of concreting over playing fields. This is the third recreational facility in Barnet to be lost to a school in a year. The press release is also highly dishonest. It makes out that it is increasing provision of recreational facilities when it is reducing access.

This is a direct result of the councils obsession with making Barnet the biggest London Borough. The population of the Borough is set to rise by 60,000 people in the next few years. Given that we are not all indulging in a rabbitesque breeding frenzy, it means that we are importing a huge number of people and concreting over greenspaces to accomodate them.

The country is having a health crisis. Kids sit in front of computers all day, getting no exercise at all. Spaces such as Stanley Road should be at the forefront of getting young people outside and into exercise, instead they are buing built upon to accomodate the people moving into the Borough.

Despite planning to import a population five times the size of the registered voters of Mill Hill ward into the Borough, there are no plans for any improvements to public transport across the Borough. Barnet Council agreed to planning permission for a 10,000 seat rugby stadium in Mill Hill, but made no provision for improved transport infrastructure to support it.

Transport campaigners have been pushing the council to support the Brent Cross railway scheme, which would connect the East and West of the Borough and put a rail station at Copthall, linking the Rugby stadium with the Northern line at Mill  Hill East, the Thameslink line at Hendon and even Brent Cross and Heathrow. It would provide excellent links for local people and remove thousands of car journeys from our busy roads, making Barnet a better place. Sadly the council is not interested.

All they do is look for short term fixes for problems of their own making. Over the last few years we've seen the death of common sense in Barnet.

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