Yesterday the Barnet Eye revealed that the One Barnet scheme could cost the local economy in Barnet up to £14 million pounds a year. Over the ten year life of the project, that is £140 million which is potentially being lost to local business. These changes were not mentioned in the Conservative manifesto at the last election and have been sneaked in with no consultation. This has landed Barnet Council in court and the issue is currently undergoing judicial review.
Some people on the left have a mantra of "no cuts, ever". The Barnet Eye does not subscribe to this view. We believe that there are plenty of cuts which urgently need making in Barnet. These could have saved the council millions and completely negated the need to export jobs from the Borough. Here are a few changes that the Barnet Eye would like to see.
1. Councillor Allowance. The first thing the Tories did on reelection in 2010 was vote themselves a huge rise in allowances. Councillors receive over £1 million from the taxpayer and many do little or no work. The Barnet Eye would like to see allowances be linked to the actual amount of work done by councillors. One councillor receives thousands of pounds to chair a committee that has only met once in the last year. Such excess is scandalous.
2. Consultants. Barnet Council is spending millions of pounds a year on consultants on "tax efficient" contracts. This has been going on for years. Barnet Council has dozens
3. Badly managed suppliers. Barnet bloggers have uncovered several examples of massive negligence within Barnet Council and their managing of suppliers, notably RM Countrysides and Metpro security. In one case an internal email instructed a Barnet employee to pay RM Countrysides "whatever it took" to get parking meters removed. With Metpro Security, Barnet was paying up to 30% more than the market rate for services, many of which were later deemed unnecessary. The Barnet Eye estimates that uncovering Metpro problems may have saved the Barnet Council tax payer up to £1 million. Cutting back on these contracts would save the taxpayer a fortune.
4. Executive Pay. We are all in it together. If Barnet has financial issues, those earning the most should do their bit and take a pay cut. It is simply wrong that those with least should suffer most.
Did you vote Conservative? If you did, was this because you wanted to damage the local economy? One Barnet does nothing for local business. It will depress local business in Barnet and will increase benefit dependency in the Borough. Like many changes, One Barnet will have all manner of hidden nasty side effects on the local economy. Many businesses in the Borough are struggling. For some losing trade through the One Barnet redundancies could be the straw that breaks the camels back.
Local politicians should protect local jobs, not throw them away.