It is the 18th of Jan. I happened to notice that two of the other three Barnet bloggers of note have not posted a blog this year. It is not my job to criticise them and that is not the intention of this blog, but it did raise a mild feeling of alarm that maybe the Barnet blogosphere has run out of steam. Personally I've deliberately avoided writing too much about Barnet Council during the crisis. Usually my efforts are squarely aimed at getting people to make their views known to the council, but I have felt the council has bigger fish to fry right now. In the middle of a pandemic, they need to be focussed on public health. I am not an expert on the matter, but recently I have become concerned with some aspects of what Barnet are doing.
The health, safety and wellbeing of employees of Barnet Council, those in its care (such as people with special needs, the elderly and the vulnerable) and the residents and visitors to the Borough should be the primary concern. There are several observations that I feel compelled to make, as a local blogger who has a large local readership.
1. The safety of employees working in schools and nurseries. There is strong evidence that transmission in these environments locally fuelled the rise in cases in November and December. I have heard horror stories from people I know who work in the sector. As soon as it became clear that there was a risk to staff locally, these establishments should have been closed.
2. Local parks have become extremely busy. Whilst people are outside, it is clear to me that people locally were not following the "exercise with one other person" rule. Social distancing of 2m was also not being observed. The parks are operated by the council. I noticed that the car parks next to the park were full yesterday. It is pretty clear that people were driving to the park to meet and chat to friends. Whilst I am not a killjoy, there is a pandemic. It seems to me that the sensible thing for Barnet Council to do would be to close the car parks. That would allow local people to use the facilities, but act as a deterrent to people who use the parks to socialise rather than exercise.
3. Barnet Unison have been lobying the council to get parking enforcement services suspended during lockdown. Whilst I am normally supportive of the initiatives of the local Unison branch, on this occasion I cannot agree with their policy. I have a local high street at the bottom of my road (Mill Hill Broadway). I am sorry to say that local residents park dangerously, selfishly and irresponsibly on a regular basis. Perfectly able bodies people park in disabled bays all the time. Double yellow lines are also parked on, causing blockages and making crossing the road dangerous, especially for small children who cannot see over the cars. If enforcement was suspended, my view is that this would increase this selfish behaviour, putting more people at risk and reducing further spaces for disabled shoppers.
4. My cousin, who was in the care of Barnet council, died of Covid 19 related illness last week. I was under the impression that the address she lived at should be covid secure. It clearly wasn't. This tells me that Barnet Council has not done a proper risk assessment and is not enforcing covid protocols properly in care establishments.
With the demise of local press, there is no one else to raise these concerns apart from local bloggers. I am not criticising people who have spent the last ten years or so working hard to raise these issues. I know just how draining and exhausting this is. What I am saying is that we need a new generation. We need to pass on the battern and we need new people with the energy to start doing the job. Barnet will need it's bloggers more than ever as the austerity which will follow Covid hits. Believe me, the credit crunch will seem like a luxury holiday compared to what is coming down the line. If you can write a few coherent sentences, you too can become a blogger, no experience necessary. We need you!