Monday 24 November 2014

How good is your councillor? The Barnet Eye League table of councillors - Part 2 - The list of shame

This is the second in our list of blogs, where we look at Barnet Council and we rate our local councillors. This is a purely personal view. On Sunday 16th November we looked at the good councillors in Barnet. Those that we believe are doing a good job, irrespective of their party allegiance.  I chose 8 Tories, 1 Lib Dem and 11 Labour councillors as examples of effective Councillors doing a good job. Todays list are the ones we believe don't cut the mustard and should be shipped off to the political wilderness. This list is not a list of personal gripes, it is based on the fact that I believe these politicians can demonstrably be shown to have failed to do a good job. The list is in order of worst first.

#1 -  Barnets worst Councillor. This was an exceptionally easy choice. This man has been responsible for developing a string of policies so unpopular that they have been slung out by the the council even though the Conservatives have a majority in both the Council chamber and the relevant committees. He championed the hugely unpopular cuts to the Mapledown School after school respite service and the Moss Hall nursery school. His pompous, dismissive and arrogant manner has alienated Councillors of all persuasions and infuriated the public at meetings. I happened to bump into a Tory Councillor in Finchley on Saturday who asked when I would be running this blog. I told them that this would be running today. They asked who I'd picked as my worst Councillor, when I told them, they laughed and said "an excellent choice". Just in case you were wondering, this isn't a councillor who generally endorses the Barnet  Eye, if you get my drift. I also notice that this councillor declines to give a contact number in his profile.  In his declaration of interests, he doesn't list a single organisation to which he contributes, other than CFI, FGGCA and CBCA - - Now of course this is his business, but most councillors play an active role in their community. If you want a good example of a concerned Conservative have a look at Sury Khatri's interests.

#2 - This councillor is extremely lucky that Rueben Thompstone is a member of Barnet Council, as she most certainly deserves the accolade of Barnets worst Councillor. She is the Councillor who has lead the local Labour party from defeat to defeat locally, when Tory Councils all over London Tumbled in May 2014. Not only has her election strategy failed to secure a Labour Council, she has failed to represent the views of the people who elected her and failed to take advantage of the numerous cock ups of successive Conservative administrations, to deliver a Labour victory. Under her 'wise' Leadership the local Labour Party signed up to a report that stated that returning "Your Choice Barnet" to in house operation was "not an option", even though the outsourcing has been a nightmare and the company required a taxpayer funded bale out. She failed to oppose the One Barnet outsourcing, refusing to ever say that the services would be brought in house under a Labour adminstration. In a spiteful attack on Barnets best councillor, Lib Dem Jack Cohen, she launched a Labour campaign drive in Childs Hill, a seat where Labour had no chance of winning, delivering two out of three seats to the Tories. Had the Lib Dems retained all three seats, Labour would now be leading an administration running the Council. Even worse was the fact that these resources could have been used in Hale ward that Labour narrowly failed to take from the Tories. Perhaps the biggest failure of all, is her signing up to the Tories budget. This policy was justified on the basis that anything else would lose the election. She lost the election and lost her credibility.
#3 - Next up we have the Labour architect of the infamous "keep Uopur Choice Barnet outsourced" policy. This councillor is surely an affable chap, but when it comes down to it he has simply acted as a merkin for ultra right wing Tory policies in Barnet. Where effective opposition was needed, this councillor actually bolstered the Tories. What this meant was that local campaigners, who had broken their backs supporting Labour and fighting outsourcing, were completely undermined. There is no point blaming Conservatives for implementing bad policies if the opposition simply says we agree with them. This councillor has the best attendence record of any in the Council with 24 out of 24, yet the Barnet Eye has to ask, what is the point being there as an opposition councillor, if you simply agree with what the administration do all the time. Barnet needs people who don't just turn up for the tea and biscuits. We need people who will fight for the residents and taxpayers.

 #4  - This Councillor has responsibility for housing in Barnet. He seems to have a complete lack of understanding of the issue and the need for decent quality social housing for working people. Not only that but he's presided over a policy where leasholders on Barnet Council estates have been lumbered with huge bills for maintenance work on their properties, where the properties are earmarked for demolition next year. Some leaseholders will be lumbered with bills of up to £10,000 and find themselves looking for new properties next year.  We believe that the primary job of councillors is to stick up for the voters. We believe that any policy which hammers local people such as this, at a time of deep economic hardship, shows that a councillor is simply not up to the job.
#5 - This councillor had been a councillor for many years in the Borough, representing Hale Ward for the Conservatives. When it became clear that the ward was targetted by Labour as a winnable marginal, he moved to the ultra safe Tory seat in the neighbouring Edgware. In the event, Labours Kitty Lyons won the vacated seat, whilst the other two Hale Tories (Rayner and Davey) hung on. His little chicken run activities very nearly cost the Tories control of the Council. One has to assume that this councillor believes the Tories would provide a better council for Hale Ward councillors, but he put his own interests beyond those of the voters who supported him.

#6 - This councillor is the Deputy Leader of Barnet Council. In the previous administration, he held the portfolio for managing the Councils portfolio of assets. Amongst the policies he championed were the sale of Friern Barnet library, a policy that came off the rails spectacularly, nearly losing the Tories the election to boot. At the initial hearing at Finchley County Court, he turned up to gloat when the case for eviction of local campaigners was heard. The council had botched the paperwork and the council were sent back with a flea in their ear, to prepare the case properly. At the subsequent hearing, it became clear that the Council had botched the whole issue and the Council were forced to compromise and save the library. As the architect of such a cock up, which cost several colleagues their seats on Council, one may have thought the Tories may have wanted a new Deputy Leader. One would be wrong.

 #7 - According to disgraced former Councillor Brian Coleman, this is the Councillor who is really running the Council. She is the wife of the Council Leader. Mr Coleman rather bitchily says "Not possible to have a short conversation with her it is just easier to say yes and save the phone bill cost .  Her husband long ago opted for the easier option of agreeing with his wife . Has turned the Conservative Party in Totteridge almost into a family business." Whilst the Barnet Eye has little time for Mr Coleman or his antics, one suspects that Mrs C is the one person who holds sway over the Leader. As such she must take much of the blame for the mishaps that have struck the council. We really think it's time she started to use her influence a little more wisely.
#8 - This councillor has developed a reputation for "no shows" at council meetings and events. He has the worst percenatge attendence rate of any Barnet Councillor, bunking off over a third of all the meetings he meant to show up for. He's a nice chap and a successful businessman, therefore it is with no great joy that we list him in th duds section. The truth however is that if you are elected to serve the people of Barnet, then that is what you should do. If you are building your global empire, do that instead. The people of Barnet need councillors who are prepared to put in the hours, represent the voters and stand up to the executive officers and even their own party when needs be. If you look at the list of good councillors, they've all shown a willingness to work and take the brickbats. So if you don't want to find yourself on this list, do the job!

#9 - Now we are down to the last two in our list. I have chosen these two purely to make a point.  They both have the lowest attendence record of council meetings in the last six months for their respective parties and they have both failed to attend meetings which the council logged them as being supposed to attend. For the Tories, the member with the lowest attendence is our Controversial Mayor, who has managed a mere 6. Now as Mayor, Mr Rayner will be excused the workload of other members, which may be a mitigating factor, but he's still failed to show for 25% where he was expected. When you consider that his colleague Sury Khatri (who is rightly in the best councillors list) made 18 out of 18, one has to say "Come on Hugh, pull your socks up"

#10 - At the bottom of the table for Labour and at the bottom of the table for the whole Council we have a Labour Councillor for Burnt Oak. If one part of the Borough needs someone to be a fearless champion, it is this ward. Yet this councillor has managed a mere four out of seven appearances. I must say she's never really registered on the Barnet Eye radar before. Now I think we know why.

So we conclude our list of shame. Do you agree? Have we been unfair to one of the recipients of the Barnet Timewasters awards? We think if you are ineffective, don't do your job, can't be bothered to turn up or don't have the intellect to make the case for the people you are supposed to represent, then you shouldn't be in the Town Hall and you shouldn't be claiming an allowance from the taxpayer. As to the third list - Well these are the councillors who I are either too new to draw a conclusion about or who have never done anything to get on the radar. If they are not in this blog or the list of good councillors, then I suggest you look at this list -  - and if they are your councillor, drop them an email and ask what they've been doing to justify the the minimum Ten Grand a year, we as taxpayers are paying them. I would also ask that if they are on the good Councillor list and you agree with me, then you drop them an email and thank them for doing their job well. Finally, if they are on the list above, drop them an email and tell them that they have made the clunkers list. Ask them what they intend to do to pull their socks up. Point out that their job is to serve you!

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