Saturday, 28 August 2010

Exclusive : Barnet Council planning sell off of libraries

The Lynne Hillan regime at Barnet Council evermore resembles the regime of Nero in Rome, fiddling whilst the city burns (in the musical sense of course). The latest masterplan before the scrutiny committee is one which is discussing the sale of the Libraries of Barnet Council. The document on the right is part of the scrutiny committee agenda (click on the image for a more readable version). Click on the following link  and then click link to item 9 -

As you can clearly see, parks, gardens and council housing are exlcluded from the strategy. This means that everything else is included. This means Open spaces, Daycare centres, Libraries, Council mortuaries and car parks. You don't believe me?

Well check this out from appendix 4 - page 2. It is there in black and white. They are planning to sell mortuaries, L:ibraries and Morgues and lease them back. Why? because they have lost so much money in Iceland that they can't meet there commitments and are desperate for cash. Whilst flogging off the family silver in the short term will bring some cash in, what happens in a few years time when property prices rise, rents go up and it's time for a rent review - Sorry chaps, the greedy landlord has put up the rent and so we have to close all of your facilities.

Yet again, the Barnet Tories are taking a punt on the future. Wheras maintenance costs are predictable and managable, commercial rents are not. Why would a commercial landlord buy a property other than to make a profit? Nothing wrong with that, it's called business, but only Barnet Tories would consider a sale of a long term assett when prices are depressed and the market is flat.

The sad truth is that Barnet Council have no real understanding of the world of commerce and business. They merely see all of their assetts as trinkets to be sold to dig themselves out of a hole. Gordon Brown was rightly derided for selling off the nations gold reserves at an all time low. Clearly Hillan and Co are trying to trump him.

I must say that of all the crazy Barnet Tory Policies that Hillan and Co have thought up, this is probably the most destructive one yet. When you voted Tory in May did you know that they were planning to sell off your local library? I campaigned vigorously against them, read every paper I could and yet this paper, drafted less than three months after the election is the first I've heard of it. This stinks to high heavens !!!! Let me leave you with a final gem from their strategy - the bit where they say in Barnet Gobbledygook speak that we - the people of Barnet  - might get the hump with this policy. I think they might have slightly underestimated the response, although one has to wonder whether people like Lynne Hillan really care. This gem is in appendix 4 page 4 - seems your allotments are up for sale as well !!!!


baarnett said...

The council might say that it is service delivery that matters, not asset ownership.

However, I think the sale of so many assets in a short time is very suspicious. Some may remember ex-PM Harold "Life's Better Under the Conservatives" Macmillan, in his 90s, comparing Margaret Thatcher's policy of privatisation to "selling the family silver."

He went on to clarify what he meant:

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism. I am sure they will be more efficient. What I ventured to question was the using of these huge sums as if they were income."

That LAST sentence is the important one.

Jaybird said...

I noticed there was no library budget in the corporate plan.

See pages 26 and 27

The cuts to the planning and environment budget, including support for the homeless, are truly shocking if correct.

ainelivia said...

Gob smacked!!! Libraries and allotments!!! Which now leaves me questioning why right now Mill Hill Library is being extended and according to one of the Librarians there is to become a Children's Centre? So why improve and expand while planning to sell off? To make the property more attractive to possible buyers?? These people it seems are beyond Machiavellian...

Mr Reasonable said...

The Head of Estates, who authored this document, hasn't been in post that long. The role was only created in April(at a cost of £87,700 p.a). I guess it a case of new boy trying to make his mark. Sadly a number us in RAB were flagging up that this would happen before the election - it was clear in the LABV strategy they were going to try and flog off the assets and the head of estate role was to oversee this. The sad thing is the press weren't interested and many of the electorate said they simply didn't care. The problem we have to overcome is getting the people of Barnet interested in these issues BEFORE they get implemented rather than having to campaign to reverse the decisions once they are in place.

baarnett said...

Maybe letters to the papers this week from 'Disgusted of New Barnet'?

Moaneybat said...

Johnny on the Web

How right you are! It's usually nearly all over BEFORE the people wake up in Barnet and that is despite the letter published in the local papers by the Labour Lead Alison Moore in May 2010, warning us on the sell-off by using LABVs (Local Asset Backed Vehichles)