Saturday 26 April 2014

A fisk of the biggest Porkie ever told in the London Borough of Barnet

I don't really like doing overly political blogs at the weekend. I like to relax and have a bit of fun. However I cannot sit back and let people spin stories that I believe to be a complete distortion of the truth. East Barnet councillor and Tory Cabinet member Robert Rams has published a story on his bog (Story being the only applicable word) that simply cannot go unchallenged. I started writing blogs about Barnet in May 2008 and I can honestly say I have never seen anything which has so outraged or upset me as what Councillor Rams has to say

The Source is here

The Barnet Eye feels that the only way to deal with this is to do a Fisk. Our comments are in red italics - Here is what Councillor Rams had to say, including our comments.

An incredible blunder by Labour Group Deputy Leader Cllr Barry Rawlings has effectively cut all Short Breaks funding provided by the council to institutions across Barnet, along with a whole range of other support services for children with disabilities, to the value of £1.9m - As Councillor Rams will go on to show, this is not an "incredible blunder" but has enabled his boss Richard Cornelius to use executive powers to overturn an appalling decisions by Councillor Rams and his Cabinet  Colleagues. The blunder was by his Colleague who enacted a cut without actually bothering to read (by his own admission) the results of the consultation.
The Labour member ‘called in’ the Cabinet Resources Committee report that extended the contracts for these services to the Business Management Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday evening and then, with colleagues, voted that it be sent back to the administration - Councillor Rams fails to mention that Lib Dem Jack Cohen and Conservative members Brian Salinger (a former Leader) and Maureen Braun, a long time previously loyal Tory all voted to send the cut back to cabinet. Why does Rams fail to mention this. Councillor Braun even asked "Who is more vulnerable than disabled children". His comments would be highly misleading to anyone who was not at the meeting or had read proper coverage.

Without these contract extensions, the council is left without the legal power to pay its providers, meaning services would have to be stopped - again Highly misleading. The services would have only been stopped if the Council Leader had not decided to use the constitutional powers at his disposal. To claim otherwise is, in our view, not befitting a member of the administration.

Council Leader Cllr Richard Cornelius said:
“This needs to be reversed. I am taking urgent action to avoid these services being wrecked.
“Cllr Rawlings and Labour have created a right constitutional mess and have effectively removed all funding from these organisations. In their attempts to make the funding of Short Breaks at Mapledown School a political football – never having highlighted or varied this particular saving in their budget amendment – they have recklessly made the situation much worse - Again Richard Cornelius fails to mention the role of his own colleagues and the Libe Dems in taking the decision. As to the issue becoming a political football, surely this is also misleading. As Tories supported Councillor Rawling, it was a cross party decision. Jack Cohen specifically stated that this sort of decision should not be about Party Politics and Salinger and Braun agreed. Committee chair Hugh Rayner was also keen to ensure that the effects of the decision were mitigated. He asked if  an emergency session of the relevant committee could be held and council officers offered no reason as to why not .
“Labour are faffing around calling for meetings, but what they’ve done needs urgent action and cannot wait for a committee meeting to be called. This is no longer just about Short Breaks, but also about children in care, mental health services and all sorts. I am ensuring that these services can continue.” - This statement shows that Rams contention was totally incorrect and that the atrocious initial decision was reversed, allowing time for alternative funding to be arranged. In fact what Richard Cornelius has done is simply what any decent person should do on realising a bad decision was made. It is very regrettable that he has decided to use it as a clumsy attempt to politicise a rather sensible piece of work by the scrutiny committee
With no more Cabinet Resource Committee meetings able to take place before the election, the long term funding issue for Mapledown is to be reviewed by the new Education Committee under the new Council - There is no constituional bar on an emergency session of the old CRC. Having said that, given the consensus that the cut was a mistake, use of executive powers to extend the funding for a year is universally agreed as correct.

Council Leader Cllr Richard Cornelius continued:

“The Mapledown situation needs to be determined by the new committee and so I will ensure their funding, to maintain services at the existing level, for one year to give the school a chance to adjust and for alternate funding to be found.” - Let me translate "A new committe will sort the mess out which the incompetents on the old CRC created. In the meantime I've used the powers at my disposal to ensure that the sensible decision of Councillor Rawlings to call in the decision, and the wisdom shown by Labour, Lib Dem and SOME Conservative members of the scrutiny committee to call for a review of the decision has ensured that Mapledown school, which is universally recognised as excellent, can carry on doing the great work, with which we associate it.

+++ End of Rams blog

And there is the paragraph that Richard Cornelius didn't write, Robert RAms didn't write, and Reuben Thompstone didn't write, but they all damn well should.

As Leader of the Council, I would like to personally apologise to all the pupils, carers and parents of Mapledown School and I would like to personally assure them that Barnet Council has accepted that the original cut was an ill thought out decision. We promise to try and learn from our mistakes. We will undertake to properly read all future consultations and if we cannot avoid cuts, we will visit the establishments facing the cuts, prior to the decision, so we can understand the effects of our actions.

For the avoidance of doubt, lets be 100% clear as to what happened.  The Tory CRC passed the decision to cut after school and respite care. Labour called the decision in for review, as they are perfectly entitled to do under the Barnet Council constitution. After hearing all of the evidence, the Tory Controlled scrutiny committe voted to send the decision back to the CRC for further consideration. At this point, the Leader of the Council intervened as he's perfectly entitled to do under the constitution and took a sensible executive decision. This reversed the cut and ensured all of the other services continued. Up until this point, I think we can all agree that everything followed the normal rules of how business is done in Barnet.

Then Councillor Robert Rams wrote his blog. This is quite extraordinary. It doesn't mention the fact that the decision was made by a Tory controlled committee. It doesn't mention that two Tories and one Lib Dem voted with Labour. It implies that the vital services were threatened, which they clearly were not. And it presents a financial decision taken to increase a budget in a hugely political light, in the Purdah period prior to an election. I cannot possibly understate just how "disappointed" I am with the behaviour of Councillor Rams in posting this blog. It is a complete distortion of the truth. I really find it sickening and I hope that as meany people as possible who live in Mr Rams East Barnet ward are made aware of what happened and how Mr Rams chose to present it. I am also extremely disappointed at Richard Cornelius. He did the right thing to use his executive powers to sort out the mess his CRC created. He has not done the right thing in making totally misleading statements.

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