Tuesday 20 July 2021

My frustration with Barnet Council AKA Capataville reaches boiling point

 I have largely refrained from writing blogs criticising the day to day issues of Barnet Council during the pandemic. I've taken a 'bigger picture' view that Councillors, Council Officers and Capita have enough on their plate without having to collate FoI reports, answer emails etc from irate bloggers, etc. However, as Boris has decided that the pandemic is over, I think I will have to reconsider my position. 

I have been in discussion with the council, local residents and local business owners about a complete lack of enforcement of planning conditions by the Council at a large building site in Mill Hill. Residents have provided the council with reams of photographic evidence of continual issues. Local business owners have requested Council enforcement officers visit their site to see for themselves what is going on. For reasons I cannot quite comprehend, the council seem unwilling to do this, despite repeated complaints over three years.

Today I was copied into several emails, sent to the council, with various pictures and requests to investigate. The issues are mainly concerning breaches of the agreements to control dust and noise. This has been an ongoing issue. I became highly irritated by the high handed and patronising tone of the council in their replies. So much so that I emaied the Local government secretary asking what remedy their was when a Council was not doing its job. I copied the Council into the correspondence for transparency. In response I received a highly sarcastic email, which contained various inflammatory statements, implying I was trying to stop all contentious development rather than simply getting the council to do its job and make sure contractors do the job safely and with consideration for residents. 

I am not anti development. I have made a fair bit of money out of property over the years. People need homes, businesses need premises and when buildings have reached the end of their life, it is only sensible to repurpose, refurbish and rebuild such buildings. All building projetcs cause disruption and are never fun for neighbours. My next door neighbour has just finished such a project. Fences were knocked down and they even damaged our satellite dish. I have friends who have far worse experiences. The council have a duty of care to ensure that if a development has conditions applied to it, to ensure residents are not disturbed, then the developer should be held to account if they break these. Of course there will be the odd problem. So long as the issues are rectified, then you have to be sensible. However, if the rules are flouted for years on end, then the council should come down hard on the developer.  This doesn't mean stopping all development for ever. It means making developers understand that if they sign up to conditions, they stick to them and if they don't there will be financial consequences.

It is clear to me that since Capita have got involved in the council, the concept that the Council works for the people of Barnet is a thing of the past. In one email today I was told there are 'countless worse building sites' which is not exactly reassuring from the bloke who is supposed to be making sure the developers follow the rules. 

It will be interesting to see whether Robert Jenrick, the Local Govt secretary bothers to take an interest. His predecessor, Eric Pickles was a big fan of the Barnet bloggers. Lets hope his successor takes this seriously. 

No comments: