Barnet Council is in a mess. Let me give you one small example. Yesterday my wife tried to renew the parking permit for our car. We've been doing this ever since Barnet Council introduced a CPZ in Mill Hill without drama. This time however there is a new regime. Capita have taken over Barnet Council, so it became a nightmare. The telephone operator "couldn't find" our details. They even asked if we were sure we had a permit. Bear in mind my wife had a renewal reminder in her hand whilst making the call. The call took about twenty times longer than it should. As I understand it, the resolution was that a "new permit" had to be set up. All the details needed to be reinput. Now in the scheme of things, this was just a bit inconvenient, but is a sign that the systems are in chaos.
What has this got to do with the two party system failing Barnet? Welll Capitaville as Barnet has become, is a product of the failure of the Barnet Tories to run the Council and Barnet Labour to be an effective opposition. The Tory Party provided no proper scrutiny of the process as a group. Most of the councillors were unaware of the detail. They were simply told by the whips that this was something they had to support. The hard right Leaders had taken an ideological decision and the sheep had to support it. As for Labour, they were useless in their opposition. The abject failure of the Tories was easy to demonstrate, yet they failed at every step to oppose the outsourcing. Barnet Alliance for Public Services organised event after event to oppose the process. Alison Moore, Labour Leader would show up and head marches, but not once was any effective opposition mounted in the Town Hall. Despite revealation after revealation by unions and bloggers about how badly the process was being managed, Barnet Labour didn't get their teeth stuck in at Council. No hard questions, no proper scrutiny. No going public about the lack of information. No commitment to reverse the process. No exposure of the faults in the contract. No warning to the Barnet voters of the danger of the project. Their was no support of the staff who lost their jobs and the the Unions who pay the bills for Labour. Worst of all though, Barnet Labour did not at any point say "We oppose the One Barnet process and think its wrong".
The Labour Party in Barnet needs new leadership now. If this does not happen, this blog will not be supporting any Labour Candidate in any election until they do. We are currently considering our options. Maybe it is time for a new sort of politics in Barnet. One which cares for the people and the Borough.