“What did the Roman’s Council do for us?”
I was minded of the scene from the Life Brian as councillors lined up to give their view on what Barnet Council does for Barnet residents. Barnet staff your ears should have been burning as councillor after councillor stepped to say what a fantastic job you do. The Leader stating we have the most efficient, low cost back office service (barring Bexley) in London.
It struck me that I hope the Future Shape report going to Cabinet reflects not only the efficiency and expertise of the current council workforce but their ability to respond to ever changing face of local government.
The usual banter between the parties ensued as ever, I wonder when we will start filming these meetings. It seems a natural progression. Technology is moving at a hermetic pace, to try and engage residents the council needs to look at the ways it consults.
The Leader Cllr Mike Freer opened up with the proposed Budget followed by an alternative budget from Labour Group Leader Cllr Alison Moore, followed by Lib-Dem Leader Cllr Jack Cohen.
Minutes from the meeting will be online but here are a few comments
Cllr Freer “Year on year starved of funds. 5th lowest grant in London. £272 per head, Islington £800. Most efficient back office cost in London only Bexley is cheaper.”
Cllr Moore:“In a time of recession Council Tax increase is unacceptable…other boroughs are going for a council tax freeze. Fees and Charges above inflation. This Budget is going to have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable, elderly and disabled.”
Cllr Cohen:“Spoke about the Icelandic Bank which he felt had not been sufficiently explained. He believed there was a real possibility the tax payer will have to pay. He mentioned the purchase of Plasma TV screen, lap tops which were now hidden away as example of waste.”
He then thanked Barnet Bloggers
Roger T Barnet Eye http://barneteye.blogspot.com/
Don’t call me Dave http://www.notthebarnettimes.co.uk/
Statler and Waldorf http://www.barnetcouncil.net/
From the reaction of the councillors, these BLOGS were well known.
What about the Public?
The public gallery was full of angry residents, they were here about two issues in the budget. The deletion of the sheltered housing service and the withdrawal of funding for the Stable Project for adults with Learning difficulties.
As they heard their issues being discussed you could not help but feel their anger & frustration about the lack of engagement and understanding of their concerns. Unfortunately for those unfamiliar with the current bureaucratic rules governing public involvement in local democracy these meetings will often be the first and last they will want to go to. If government really wants to reflect the views of communities it needs to seriously look at resident access to local politicians.
The decision about the Future of the Welfare Rights Unit and the Sheltered Housing Schemes will be made at a future Cabinet meeting.
Stop Press – Barnet Elect a New Mayor
There were two nominations this evening
Brian Coleman (Con) & Linda McFadyen(Lab)
Brian Coleman was elected Mayor