Wednesday 13 January 2010

Barnet in Chaos

Yet again Barnet has ground to a halt due to snow. First Capital Connect are yet again experiencing delays of up to 1.5 hours (no surprise there). It seems to me that every time there is a spot of bad weather they all just hold up their hands and give up. Schools are shut and many roads are in gridlock. Buses have been diverted.

It took me an over an hour to drive from Mill Hill to Finchley this morning. Bunns Lane and Pursley Road were completely gridlocked. Unlike last week, the three local schools which my Children attend were all open. Given that driving conditions during the rush hour were just as bad, if not worse on some roads exposes the fact that there is no rhyme or reason to the schools opening policy. Why were schools closed last Friday and open today? Are there clear guidelines on when schools should shut or open due to weather?

As to gritting. It looks to me as if Lawrence Street had been gritted this morning, which was not on the list of roads, whilst Pursley Road, which is on a bus route and has three schools on it's route was left alone (resulting in gridlock). It strikes me that the "resilience plan" for road gritting was drawn up by people who know nothing of the Borough. let me give you a couple of examples of roads which have not been gritted, but any sane person would immediately recognise the importance.

Firstly, lets look at Hartley Avenue. This is a no through road, approx 100 yards long, with no residential dwellings on it. Not a priority if you are a council official in an ivory tower? What any local will know is that there is a Fire Station, an Ambulance Station, a Doctors surgery, and a public library in the street. Do the council really not recognise the importance gritting such a road and keeping our emergency services moving?

Next up, Consider The Rise. This road runs from Parkside to the A1/A41 Barnet Bypass. Although this road is a very short road, which only has a couple of dwellings, there are a couple of factors which make it a massive hazard in icy weather. As I said, it leads on the the A1/A41 which is gritted regularly as a priority trunk road. As a result traffic will always be travelling at near normal speeds. The Rise, however is completely ignored by gritters and becomes a skid track. It is also, as the name implies, on  a very steep hill. Anyone not knowing the road, will go to turn down it, and skid straight into the oncoming traffic on the Barnet Bypass. In short, it is a massive road safety hazard. Lib Dem candidate for Barnet Kim Chechetto lives on Parkside, opposite the entrance to Parkside, and she was telling me horror stories of how cars were skidding out of control. She said that Parkside residents actually blocked the entrance to The Rise with cars to prevent these accidents during the worst of the cold.

It's all very well for Barnet to say that only the resilience network of 60 roads matters. They have a responsibility to all of us to keep the roads safe. With both of these examples, a short stretch of road could be gritted with negligable effects on the Boroughs grit supplies. It just highlights the lack of leadership at the top of Barnet Council. Do any of Barnets ruling elite actually know anything at all about the Borough they get paid so much to run?

Last week we were faced with the situation where the Borough ground to a halt, but both Council Leader, Councillor Lynne Hillan and her deputy dawg Councillor Andrew Harper were on holiday. Everyone I've spoken to who has been involved with organisations which have a responsibility to the public, say that someone should always be left in charge. Mayor of Barnet, Brian Coleman has been forcefully making this point to his colleagues. Councillor Coleman himself got caught out by the management chaos last week. He was on BBC London claiming Barnet had plenty of grit, only for his fellow councillor Daniel Thomas to announce that supplies were running low a few hours later.

It seems that Lynne Hillan and her Tory Colleagues think that the solution to any problem is to go and swan around in the lap of luxury at a luxury hotel. Don't Call Me Dave highlighted this in a recent blog, reproducing this email that Hillan had sent to her Conservative colleagues. It amazes me that Hillan thinks the whole issue of provision of care for the elderly is a joke. It is even more incredible that her Tory colleagues though she was the best person to run the council.

While we are on the subject of people not doing their jobs properly. Why is the Barnet Times (or the Barnet Tory Bugle as it likes to be known) incapable of criticising the Tory administration or their lack of commitment to the job. No mention at all of Hillan and Harper swanning off. As Barnet has failed so miserably to deal with the problems, surely they realise that people should be told why.

Is it any wonder that Barnet is in chaos. We urgently need a change. We need people who care about the London Borough of Barnet. We need people who care about ALL of the challenges that the Borough is facing. We need people who care for our elderly. We need people who are willing to rearrange their holiday schedule so that there's always someone around to take tough decisions.

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