Friday 3 November 2017

The Friday Joke - The Stalinist Councillor David Longstaff proclamation dissected

Following on from the huge interest in yesterdays blog detailing the appalling behaviour of Councillor David Longstaff in Council, we thought we'd take a look at the full text of his motion declaring Mayor Khan an enemy of the People of Barnet (it's towards the end of the report pack). Our comments are in Red Italics 

Full Council: 31st October 2017 
Administration Motion: Councillor David Longstaff 
Is Mayor Khan an enemy of the people of Barnet?

Council is growing increasingly concerned that Mayor Khan is making life harder for the people of Barnet for the sake of political point-scoring.

It takes an extraordinary amount of Chutzpah to start such a clearly worded piece of political point scoring with such a sentence. 

In the last six weeks alone Mayor Khan has made several rulings attacking the borough’s already strained transport infrastructure. Most recently the Aslef union revealed he had scrapped plans laid by his predecessor, Boris Johnson, to add 17 much-needed trains to the Northern line and increase services to 30 an hour. The explosion in demand projected for this vital but overcrowded service will now have to be met by current stock — and borne by residents.

Barnet Council have been the driving force behind the massive developments in the Borough, which have fuelled this demand. The Brent Cross, West Hendon and Inglis Barracks schemes are all ones which the Barnet Tory administration have been desperate to see passed, with no regards to the transport infrastructure. To suddenly put all the blame on the mayor for the creaking infrastructure in the Borough is highly misleading. For the record, we agree that the cancellation of the 17 new trains is a poor decision, but it is 100% clear that by using this sort of megaphone democracy, Barnet Council are actually making it harder to have sensible discussions with the Mayor of Barnet. Our Labour assembly member Andrew Dismore also pointed out "Sadiq stopped the 17pc increase his predecessor was set to impose on top of the 42pc increases Boris Johnson implemented, with Sadiq’s freeze saving the average family 200 pounds a year."

I am sure most Barnet Residents who actually commute would consider saving £200 a year not to be the actions of an "enemy of the people". It is worth comparing and contrasting the response of a sensible, grown up politician such as Dismore, with the playground politics of  David Longstaff. 

At the beginning of this month he also overruled Barnet’s democratically elected Planning Committee in order to force a deeply unpopular development of 460 flats on the people of Mill Hill. Adding insult to injury, he removed 78 parking spaces from the original plans, meaning residents will have to fight for spaces on neighbouring residential streets.

This is a very dishonestly phrased paragraph. The planning committees of Barnet are not democratically elected. The members are nominated by the respective parties. Voters get no say on who sits on them, it is in the gift of the Tory and Labour leaders. In contrast, the Mayor of London is directly elected, with a cross London mandate and specific planning powers. We may not like the Mayor, but we can elect someone else. I have no say as to who sits on the planning committee to make decisions that affect Mill Hill. I di however vote for a London Mayor. It is rather sad that a committee chair at Barnet Council such as David Longstaff does not understand this. 

This is despite visiting the site himself by car rather than brave the Northern line.

This is gross hypocrisy, given that all the Barnet Tory councillors have free parking permits, so they don't have to use public transport at all. I would be very interested to find out how regularly David Longstaff gets the Northern Line from his home in Friern Barnet to council meetings in Hendon?

Before clogging up the borough’s roads and scuppering improvements to its Underground service, however, Mayor Khan decided to make private hire vehicles more expensive and less available for residents of outer London boroughs like Barnet. His decision against renewing Uber’s private hire licence not only risks putting 1,789 Barnet based Uber drivers out of work; it will increase the costs for residents using black cabs.

This shows the complete lack of ability to think things through by Councillor Longstaff. It clearly has not occurred to him that removing 1,789 Uber cabs from the roads of Barnet will mean less not more congestion. He also fails to mention the Night Tube and the Hopper Bus fare which have made public transport cheaper and more accessible for Barnet residents. 

Council agrees that any concerns about Uber’s safeguarding procedures must be addressed. However, Council is baffled as to why data revealed under the Freedom of Information Act showed TfL inspectors had given Uber a clean bill of health on no less than 10 occasions in the last four years (the last after an annual compliance audit in April this year) and why Mayor Khan failed to meet with Uber representatives to discuss concerns.

Councillor Longstaff rather conveniently forgets to mention that two senior London Tories, Roger Evans and Victoria Borwick, who sat for many years on the GLA, and presumably know a bit more about the issues than he does,  fully support the Mayor's actions - See the tweet below from the former chief of GLA Tories. Who is trying to score cheap political poings here? .

In revoking Uber's licence, Khan's message is that London is closed to innovation and business.

Surely the message Khan is sending out is that businesses must play by the rules. Does Councillor Longstaff not recognise that cabbies are businessmen as well. As for innovation, what are Barnet Council doing to promote it? Where is the championing of High Speed Broadband etc? I don't recall David Longstaff opposing the parking policies of  his patron Brian Coleman, which wrecked many small businesses. 

Council's Colindale Office design
Council is also deeply concerned by Mayor Khan’s intervention on the Grahame Park development. In making public an error-riddled letter from GLA planners he ensured the retraction, which Barnet was on the cusp of negotiating, would not happen.

When Longstaff talks about planning the Grahame Park development, he conveniently forgets the recent decision to grant a bookmaker a licence to operate, overturning  a previous decision and flying in the face of local opposition. He also doesn't mention the myriad of issues with the Grahame Park development.

Colindale Office mock up
The planning application now risks being refused or amended by the Mayor.

If the plan is refused or amended by Khan, this must be on valid grounds. Does Longstaff not realise this? It is not agreed by all that this is a marvellous proposal for all residents. Just because David Longstaff thinks it is the best thing in the history of  the London Borough of Barnet, does not mean he's right. Just to demonstrate the hypocritical "double think" of what Longstaff has to say, consider this extract from Barnets own press release about the new council office on the site - "The proposed offices will cater for approximately 1200 staff and parking for approximately 70 cars will be provided on and off-site nearby."  having berated Mayor Khan for approving a development with insufficient parking, the council expect 1,200 staff to fit into 70 car parking spaces. Given that most of these jobs are currently based on the other side of the Borough, with no tube lines between there and Grahame Park, it is clear that there is huge under provision and to quote Longstaff's own words about the NIMR site parking issues " residents will have to fight for spaces on neighbouring residential streets" - what is clear is that Longstaff is not in the least bit interested in the existing residents of Grahame Park. Just to make the point, I've added a few images from the council's own documents, illustrating their plans for a new carbuncle to blight the area. I don't know about you, but to me they look like a complete eyesore, and a better looking scheme could have been designed by an Orang Utang with lego bricks.  Check this video, what do you think?

Council calls on the Leader of the Council and the Leader of the Opposition to write to the Mayor to address these concerns and request he rectify them for the benefit of the people of Barnet over party political gain.

Having started by criticising the Mayor for political point scoring, the motion finishes with a request for some political point scoring. You really couldn't make it up, could you? And do you want to know the biggest joke of all? Every single one of the 32 Barnet Conservative Councillors voted to adopt this motion. Personally, I'd rather have the Orangutan running the council than the ship of fools collectively known as the Barnet Tories. 

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