Monday, 7 May 2012
Barnet bloggers: now sack Brian Coleman from the Cabinet
Barnet bloggers' open letter to council leader Richard Cornelius:
*Updated Tuesday 6pm - with open letter to Cornelius from the Labour leader, Alison Moore - see below:
For the sake of Barnet, Sack Brian Coleman!
Dear Councillor Cornelius,
The people of Barnet have spoken.
The London Assembly result on 3 May was a resounding rejection of the policies of your administration and of a prominent member of your leadership team.
As you were not leader at the time of the 2010 election, and most of your unpopular polices were not part of the manifesto, we ask you to consider the following proposals, with a view to changing the course of your administration.
1. Dismiss Brian Coleman from your Cabinet. Mr Coleman was decisively rejected by Barnet voters in the London Assembly election and to allow him to continue in post is an insult.
2. Reopen Friern Barnet Library immediately. This well-supported community asset cannot be replaced successfully at the Artsdepot.
3. With local traders, campaigns and stakeholders, create a parking regime that will enhance the environment and restore the fortunes of Barnet’s high streets. Parking charges should manage traffic, not rake in cash. No more hikes in parking charges; reduce charges as necessary, including in CPZs.
4. Cut the rate paid to all freelance consultants employed by Barnet by 25%. Large city firms including JP Morgan and Lloyds TSB have instituted such a policy in response to the harsh economic times. Any consultant not prepared to take a cut would be terminated as per contract terms.
5. Cut the pay of all Barnet Council staff earning more than £150,000 p.a. by 20% and staff on £100,000 - £150,000 p.a. by 10%. The savings in 4. and 5. would generate far more than the sum lost through the parking changes above.
6. Immediately halt the One Barnet outsourcing programme. Dismiss all consultants engaged on the programme.
7. Invite the council trade unions to identify savings and efficiencies within Barnet Council, at the same time protecting services, jobs, and pay and conditions. This exercise should also be opened up to Councillors and members of the public.
8. Invite members of the public to form an oversight panel, to scrutinise contracts and accounts with suppliers. Give the panel access to all council contract information, subject to signing of confidentiality agreements. The panel would report directly to the chair of the audit committee.
9. Cut all councillor allowances by 10%, to show that we really are “all in this together”, and review the excessive allowances paid to Cabinet members and Committee chairs. Learn the lessons of the upset caused to voters by the "Allowancegate" scandal.
10. Stop harassing members of the public involved in protests against discredited council policies. Work with residents, not against them, to improve Barnet. Embrace democracy!
In the year of the 100th anniversary of the Titanic, we ask: do you want to be the political equivalent of the captain who hit the iceberg?
Barnet Council has had two years of unremitting bad press as a result of policies that were not declared to the public during the 2010 election. Now the people have spoken, and we the undersigned believe that you have no choice but to listen and to change course.
*Update Tuesday 6pm:
Mrs Angry has just received a copy of this open letter to Richard Cornelius, from Alison Moore, Leader of Barnet Labour Group, prefaced with this statement:
Cllr Alison Moore said:
“The Barnet and Camden result was such an overwhelming rejection of Cllr Coleman’s policies that his position as Cabinet Member for Environment is now totally untenable. I have written to the Leader of the Council making it clear that a rethink of parking, road safety and other key environment policies is now required – and this cannot take place with Cllr Coleman in the role.”
Open letter to Leader of the Council, Cllr Richard Cornelius, from Cllr Alison Moore:
Last week’s result for the London Assembly seat of Barnet and Camden was as much a clear and overwhelming rejection by local people of environment policies being implemented in Barnet – particularly around parking and road safety – as it was a rejection of London-wide policies pursued by the former Assembly Member. We now have a situation where at least six separate and independent community groups are mounting grass roots resident-led campaigns against Barnet’s environment policies – North Finchley Traders, East Barnet residents, the Walksafe N2 Campaign, Barnet Alliance for Public Services, the CPZ Action Group and the Pinkham Way Alliance for example.
Given the strength of feeling displayed by local residents, I believe that the time has come for a complete rethink of council environment policy – particularly on parking, parks, road safety, waste and re-cycling and the sell-off of services like Cemeteries and Crematoria - and it seems to me that this simply cannot be done with the current Cabinet Member in the role.
I strongly believe that new political leadership in environmental services is required and would urge you to consider a change in direction as follows:
1. Parking: Bring forward the parking review that has been promised, to report to committee with options before the summer, rather than in September as originally proposed. The review should include options to reverse last year’s parking charge increases, more flexible methods of payment for parking in car parks and town centres, including cash and credit / smart card payment and scrapping of the proposed introduction of car park charges in the 7 remaining free car parks in the Borough. In addition it is imperative that the council work with local traders to ensure that our town centres remain vibrant (and that their economic footprint expands rather than contracts in this difficult economic climate) rather than damaging their viability with punitive parking charges.
2. Parks: Scrap the proposal for developing the private hire of parks that is so unpopular with local residents.
3. Road Safety: Stop the current review looking at removing traffic lights to increase traffic flows, and develop a proper programme for road safety across the borough working in partnership with residents and consulting them on any proposals.
4. Waste and re-cycling: Implement the options to increase re-cycling and reduce waste going to landfill as early as possible. Implement incentive schemes that will help boost re-cycling and reduce household waste. Find a better location for the waste treatment plant currently proposed at Pinkham Way that will allow bulk transport by canal and rail, for example the Industrial Estate in Upper Lea Valley.
5. Cemeteries and Crematoria: The officer report on Cemeteries and Crematoria states that the option presenting the most value for money is to keep this service in-house, yet Cabinet are now recommending that this be privatised. Cems and Crems should be kept in-house, and the millions of pounds in income they generate should not be shared with the private sector – it should be re-invested in local public services.
This is not an exhaustive list of reforms that are needed, but it is a start in the right direction towards rebuilding trust with local people.
Cllr Alison Moore
Leader of the Labour Group and of the Opposition