Tuesday, 10 September 2013

How good is your council - results

Last week the Barnet Eye ran a survey of all Barnet Councillors - The good council test - Rate your council. We were trying to ascertain their commitment to good governance, value for money and high standards of behaviour.  Of the 63 Barnet Councillors,  we received a read receipt from 29, indicating they had bothered to read the survey.  Of those 8 actually bothered to send some sort of response.

The Lib Dem group faired best with 2 out of three responding, although Jack Cohens response stated that he never responded to online surveys. Cllr Palmer used the survey to draw attention to his efforts as chair of the audit committee to be inclusive towards the public and deal with the concerns of residents. The majority of other answers indicated a negative view of the behaviour of Barnet Council.

The rest of the responses were from Labour Councillors. All believed the council to be undemocratic and badly run, with all responses indicating a negative view of the council. Personally I find it appalling that our Conservative Councillors cannot between them muster a single response. One has to assume that they know they have nothing to shout about and are embarrassed. This blog gets over 40,000 page views a month. The majority of these visitors are people who are concerned about the place they live. When we last asked our readers, 35% of the readers identified themselves as Conservatives.

The Barnet Eye invites guest blogs from readers. We are more than happy to publish guest blogs from critics of our stance on issues. We do not edit these and so long as they are not libellous we publish them. No Conservative Councillor has aver even asked. Of the Barnet Conservative Councillors, only Robert Rams bothers to write a blog about Barnet and regularly engages with Twitter. Matthew Offord MP protects his tweets so only people he selects can see them. There is a massive problem with engagement in Barnet between the ruling administration and the public.

Please take a minute to look at the list and identify your councillors. Do you recognise them? Are you aware of anything they have done in the last three and a half years? Have they served their community? Have they protected the rights of the vulnerable? Have they blocked unsightly, unattractive and unwelcome planning proposals? Have they taken the time to ensure value for money for the taxpayer.

Some have at least tried. The Barnet Eye has praised Conservatives when they have done the right thing. Examples of this are Kate Salinger for breaking Party whip and declining to vote for a pay rise for councillors. We praised Robert Rams for his blog raising awareness of the issues associated with diabetes. We have praised Sury Khatri for his efforts to ask questions about One Barnet. There are many other examples. On the Labour side, Kath McGuirk, Barry Rawlings, Alan Schneiderman, Andreas Ioannedis and Pauline Coakley Webb have particularly caught the eye for involvement in community campaigns. For the Lib Dems, Jack Cohen and the Palmers have been exemplary local councillors. The Barnet Eye does not belong to any party or represent any particular view. Whilst we are left of centre on social issues and provision of public services, we would class ourself as right of centre in issues relating to small business. We believe small business is vital to a vibrant economy. We would like to see deregulation of many areas affecting small business (specifically companies with less than 30 people on the payroll). Our views on transparancy are in line with the stated view of senior conservatives (although we see scant evidence of any commitment to implement them). We would like to see the highest standards of behaviour in politics. We believe that it is necessary to draw a balance so that people can benefit from the efforts of hard work, but those in need, or who are vulnerable have a safety net to ensure they have a decent quality of life. We do not believe that the poor, vulnerable and disturbed should sleep on the streets and rely on charity handouts for basic shelter and sustainance.  We would hope that in a civilised society this is not seen as an extreme or controversal view.

 Here are the full results of the survey. Please note that "didn't read" means didn't return a read response. It is possible that councillors chose not to send a read response. As we specifically stated we would publish the results, we assume that if they did read the survey and wanted to be identified as such they would let us know. 

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