Tuesday 21 November 2017

Rueben Thompstone wants Barnet to become a "child friendly community" (* Conditions may apply)

What is a fact? Barnet Council's childrens services were condemned as inadequate by OFSTED in July. Barnet's own website acknowledges this failure and the head of Childrens services states that they need to improve. Chris Munday, Strategic Director for Children and Young People said

“We fully accept the findings of the report and are committed to taking further action to ensure better support for children and young people in Barnet. The need for systemic improvement across the service was identified by us and we have been working extremely hard to implement necessary changes, but these have not yet had the impact that is needed."

What is an alternative fact?

Maybe you should ask Councillor Reuben Thompstone. He seems to be an expert in the subject (or maybe just lives in a parallel universe). Last week he was championing a bid for Barnet to become the "London Borough of Culture" in 2021/2, after the administration he is a senior member of has closed Barnets leading local museum and decimated the library estate.  This week, he's launching a bid to partner with UNICEF to make Barnet a "Child Friendly Community". The Times Newspaper reports

Cllr Reuben Thompstone, chairman of Barnet Council’s children, education, libraries and safeguarding committee, said: "I’m delighted that Barnet has become the first local authority in London to partner with Unicef UK, it’s a really exciting opportunity and reflects our ambition of becoming the most family friendly borough in London.

"This three-year partnership will give us the chance to really focus on embedding children’s rights into more of what the council does." 

Strangely the story in the Times is nearly word for word what the Council's own press release said. It seems that these days, the Barnet Times thinks that journalism is simply cutting and pasting council press releases into their website. 

Sadly the Times couldn't be bothered to talk to the parents or head of Mapledown school, which is a specialist school for children with disabilities. If they had, they'd have been reminded how Rueben Thompstone wanted to shut afterschool and half term activities, which gave parents much needed respite. It is sad that they couldn't be bothered to read the story on their own website. 

The council claimed that parents had enough cash to provide services themselves. Councillor Thompstone admitted that he hadn't visited the school before claiming there was “no joy” in removing 25 per cent of Mapledown’s budget for after-school sessions and half-term play schemes described as “vital” by angry parents.  Thompstone was asked about why the council had used the resources to fund a small tax cut rather than keep vital services. He said "These are austere times and we want to show we are on the side of tax payers. There is no joy in taking money out of these areas but we’re trying to do more with less."

How a man can prioritise tax cuts before disabled children and then claim to want child friendly communities is beyond me. More recently his policies have seen segregated specialist childrens libraries removed from many Barnet libraries. Some libraries are now "self service" and have seen under 18's be denied access. Yet again this was a policy of Reuben Thompstone.
I have no idea who has been advising UNICEF on who they partner with, but clearly they are totally unaware of the track record of Reuben Thompstone when it comes to dealing with childrens rights and wellbeing. Or maybe Cllr Thompstone doesn't think childrens libraries and disabled children are things which matter

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