I thought I'd just have a quick trawl through the Barnet Tories manifesto from 2006 to see whether we got what we were promised when they were elected in 2006.
The first thing I noticed is that it's got a nice picture of Brian Salinger, then leader on the cover. We didn't get him, because Mike Freer lead a palace coup against him immediately after the Tories were reelected with a bigger majority.
The Tories start off there manifesto with a little dig at the Previous administration.
"4 years ago, in May 2002, we inherited a Council which after 8 years of control by a
Labour/Liberal administration had become a shambles.
The finances could not have been in worse shape. The previous administration
had used up all the Councils reserves to reduce the Council Tax rise ahead of the 2002
elections. Confidential warnings had been given, that their actions would add a
minimum burden to the following years council Tax Bill of an extra 10%. "
So how have the Tories done under Freer? Well they've certainly put the Lib/Lab's to shame in the finances department. They've lost £26.4 million in Iceland (which they'd borrowed at a rate well in excess of the current bank lending rate). They've also overspent £11 million on a £12 million budget replacing a bridge in Colindale. How have they done in the Tax rise department. As interest rates have tumbled, they've hiked taxes every year. This year they raided the reserves to keep Council Tax down, precisely what they criticsed the Lib/Lab council for. Not only that, but Council borrowing has rocketed by from just under £40 Million to under £200 Million. Who will pay it back - You and me.
What else did they have to say about the Lib/Labs? "The Education service was in chaos."
We've just seen an emergency program enacted at great cost to install portacabins at several schools as they hadn't anticipated the number of children reaching school age. Other schools have had facilities such as newly installed IT suites turned back into classrooms. The excuse - they were surprised at the number of children reaching school age?????
Another major criticism "Plans for the regeneration of Cricklewood had barely progressed in the 8 years of the Labour/Liberal administration." "Progress on the Cricklewood/Brent X development has continued and there is now the feel of an 'end play' to our discussions with the developers. They are keen to progress and a timetable leading to a planning decision in 2006/7 has been agreed. "
How much further have they progressed under Freer? Not at all. Oh, but he has sacked the Council officer responsible for regeneration projects.
The manifesto then goes on to detail the Tories main priorities :-
"Barnet Conservatives regained control of the Council. We had been elected with 5
1. Supporting the Vulnerable
2. Improving Roads and Pavements
3. A Cleaner and Greener Barnet
4. Tackling Crime
5. A First Class Education Service. "
Ok So lets have a look at these.
1. Supporting the Vulnerable - Well Mike Freer has made the BBC stand up and take note of his policies to get rid of Sheltered Housing Wardens. This measure, which has been exposed as a callous cut in services to pay for expensive consultants to implement bonkers ideological plans, is likely to end up in deaths of Barnets most vulnerable people. The manifesto said
"We will give vulnerable adults in Barnet’s care more choice and control over the
services offered to them. "
What did Barnet do when nearly 90% of those consulted about the Sheltered Warden Plans opposed Barnets scheme - they ignored them completely. So much for choice. I've seen dozens of pensioners reduced to tears at the Council meeting where Freer announced his plan to implement the cut. Support the Vulnerable? I don't think so.
2. Improving Roads and Pavements. Well if you think that ripping up measures designed to improve road safety is an improvement, you'll be happy. Many residents such as those in Uphill Road aren't. I must say that Mill Hill currently seems to have more roadworks and temporary traffic lights than ever at the moment. It took me 20 minutes to drive from Edgware to Bunns Lane in Mill Hill yesterday at Lunchtime because of this.
3. A Cleaner and Greener Barnet. Well if your idea of a "greener Barnet" is thousands of rabbit hutch sized flats in huge developments across the Borough, maybe you'll be happy. One Tory Councillor actually tabled a motion to scrap the Council's green belt policy recently.
4. Tackling Crime. This very afternoon, I was visiting a friend who lives two doors away from Councillor Maureen Braun, who had been burgled on Friday. He was told that there had been 12 burglaries in his area in the last two weeks. I've also found that Mill Hill is a "high burglary area". Anecdotal evidence maybe, but it scares the hell out of me.
5. A First Class Education Service. As I mentioned above, if you think kids being taught in portacabins is first class, then you'll probably be happy. SAT results also got worse this year.
Here's a few more choice sections from the Tories 2006 manifesto :-
"Barnet Conservatives will support Barnet FC to help them to succeed and to
play a full part in our community."
Barnet FC have recently set up a fantastic training scheme, with great a great community project. In Harrow. They are currently looking for a new home in a Borough with an administration which appreciates them.
Barnet Conservatives will continue to strive for excellence in the provision of all
services. We will continue to improve the efficiency of the Council to reduce
costs for our chargepayers
Last year Barnet made a big fuss about being a "four star authority". This year they lost a star. Have you council tax bills gone down? Have Council rents gone down? Has anything gone down which the Council charges you for? Even the cost of burying dead babies has gone up.
We will keep increases in Council Tax to the lowest levels possible without
jeopardising the provision of front line services.
Council Taxes have gone up. Ask the people facing cuts to their Sheltered wardens whether Front Line Services have improved.
Barnet Conservatives will continue to strive to impress on our residents the
need for ‘civic pride’ and will respect and uphold the traditions of the Council
and the Mayoralty.
With the appointment of Brian Coleman as Mayor, all of the respect for the office has gone. The man needed a £10,000 legal indemnity to fight a standards complaint. He was the only GLA AM to resist publishing his expenses. He besmirched the reputaion of Barnet with his comments about the British Olympic team. He thinks that leaving a taxi waiting for 5 hours while he guzzles dinner is a good way to spend £395 of taxpayers money.
We will campaign to get the benefits from the Olympics for the people of Barnet
and will encourage young people with Olympic aspirations to fulfil their
I'm still waiting for all of these Olympic benefits for the citizens of Barnet? Have you seen any?
We will promote active participation in sport.
What has happened with the Pavillion Road playing fields, where several community groups have actively campaigned to reopen the facilities? What has happened to Mill Hill Village Sports club where the Council has imposed a rent hike.
Here's a final two which anyone familiar with the planned developments around the Borough will fall off their chair when they read them. I'm not going to comment on these because I have a policy on bad language in the blog.
We will do everything in our power to prevent the further destruction of family
housing to make way for flatted accommodation. We will insist on the highest
standards of design and build in new developments.
We agree with Barnet residents that Barnet needs more houses than flats.
Do you think that the Tories have delivered on their manifesto commitments? I think they are a disgrace. I have a message for the Liberal and Labour opposition Councillors, especially Alison Moore, the Leader of the Labour Group and Jack Cohen, Leader of the Lib Dems. Do you think that the Tories have delivered on any of this? Do you think that the people of Barnet would vote for them again if they realised just how badly they've been conned? Stop feeling sorry for yourselves and get off you backsides. Your best campaigning tool is the Tories own manifesto from the last election. It's your job to remind the people of Barnet just how badly they've been let down. People may not care about everything the Tories do, but I'm sure most of the voters of Barnet hate being lied to. Get out there and do your job.