Demo for Sheltered Housing

Around 200 people demonstrated in Finchley last Saturday in defence of the sheltered warden scheme.
This has very much been a community campaign. A large number of those on the demo were older people who feel so strongly about their wardens they took part in spite of the difficulty and discomfort they had walking such a distance. They were clearly determined to show residents of Barnet what such a cutback would mean to them and shouted their demands “Save Our Wardens” to the passers-by and onlookers.

Representatives of the GMB, RMT, UNISON, PCS, NUT all took part as part of the Barnet Trades Council. At the end of the demonstration Councillor Alison Moore and local MP Andrew Dismore gave speeches adding their support to the campaign. The provision of sheltered housing means that many relatives feel reassured their beloved elderly relations have a degree of security by being in sheltered accommodation and so find it easier to relax knowing help is close at hand for their relative. So there were younger family members on the demonstration making it quite clear what this support means to them also.

But when you get old, wouldn’t you want to know this type of provision exists? If you do then maybe it’s time you joined the campaign on its next stage and took part in the rally outside Hendon Town Hall at 6pm on 19 May 2009.

To view pictures of the demonstration, click here.

The Right Honourable…?

Just some of the claims

£4.47 for dog food, £115 for 25 light bulbs, £305.50 to “cure noise problems”, with her boiler, £312 for the fitting of mock Tudor beams, £600 for hanging baskets and pot plants, £765 claim from Ikea, £768 from Marks and Spencer’s for a bed, £1,350 in house repairs, £1,500 gardening bill, £2,000 to replace a leaking pipe under a tennis court, £2,074 for furniture and £2,339 for carpets, £3,194 bill for gardening, £9,000 a year for gardening, £13,000 in moving costs, £14,553 solicitors’ fees and stamp duty, £30,000 for doing up his £120,000 constituency, £75,000 to fund a second home in Westminster £35,000 in mortgage interest payments,

The former Prime Minister used his parliamentary expenses to remortgage his constituency home for £296,000 – nearly 10 times what he paid for it – just months before buying a west London house for £3.65m.

The prime minister paid his brother, Andrew, £6,577 for arranging cleaning services for his Westminster flat for 26 months

You can view it all online BBC website here.

Rank hypocrisy… politicians want to take your pension and hand you over to the private sector in order to bail out the inefficiency and gross negligence of the financial sector

I recognise not everyone is a Local Government Anorak. The day before the Budget the Treasury Department released a report ‘Operation Efficiency Programme – Final Report’ view it here.

It is clear whoever wins the General Election next year, the Government will get in!

Local Government is set to face hardship it has probably not had to face in over a generation. I know Council workers will ask what they have done to deserve this doomsday scenario of council services. The answer is nothing. In Barnet Council staff have delivered almost £60 million in savings and delivered a Four Star service.

What can’t happen is that Council Services across the UK are decimated in a crude attempt to offset £billions of debt bailing out the financial sector.

The role of the trade unions, staff and residents will be key to how council/public services are delivered in Barnet.

Make sure you make time to attend the rally at the Future Shape Cabinet Meeting on Monday 6 July 2009

Barnet Community Campaign – Sheltered Housing

Today I took part in a local march to save the sheltered wardens service organised by Barnet Community Campaign. 

It is only when you are taking part in local democracy that you realise how fortunate that we are living in a country where it is still ok to express your opinions in public (although the recent G20 demonstrations and the actions of the police to some of the demonstrators have shown that we must not be complacent). Democracy in this country was something that was fought for a long time ago. Lives were lost for us to be able to enjoy these freedoms, which makes it all the more important that we scrutinise decisions made by politicians both locally in our town halls and the House of Commons.  

This morning I woke up to more tales of sleaze. None of the main political parties can claim their hands are clean. Every time another report comes out of town halls and parliament of politicians helping themselves it undermines our democratic process. There needs to be a big clear up if they are going to restore confidence in local democracy. 

Barnet Community Campaign gives hope to those of us who still cling to the believe of local democracy. Take a look at the pictures from the march. These are real people, people who decided they wanted to express their anger at the decision to remove sheltered housing services in Barnet. People find it incredible that services for those of the most vulnerable can be cut when the government spend billions of pounds propping up corrupt financial system. A system which encouraged greed, indeed glorified in the bonuses, almost rubbing our noses in it, whilst the rest of us had to cope.  

Now we are being told that someone must pay.

 “Guess what?” It will be US to pay. Yes council workers who seen hundreds of colleagues made redundant, no pay increases, increased workload, annual restructures and still delivered in Barnet we delivered nearly £60 million in savings and managed to improve services! 

BUT, it is not enough. Most people will not know that the predicted budget forecast for council finances for the next four years is going to be worse than anything we have seen in nearly 20 years. 

So, take a good look at the pictures



Support the campaign attend the lobby of the Council Cabinet Committee on 8 June


Future Shape – Newcastle Story…

Members will have heard about the Newcastle story. It is a real life story of staff, managers, elected members and residents coming together to design & deliver first class services and deliver efficiencies.  

Here are two links to national papers out today

Read in Guardian Today

Read in the Independent

Whilst what is done in one council can never be easily transplanted to another Council, there is still a lot that we can take from Newcastle to help address the financial challenges facing public services in Barnet. What I found key was unlocking the potential of the staff  to help design services for the future. All too often public services will call on the services of the big consultancy companies such as KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Deloittes etc  at a considerable cost.

Tonight I will be going to:

Public Service Reform…but not as we know it!

Debate alternatives to privatisation
18:00 to 19:30, 05 May 2009, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Speakers: Hilary Wainwright (author); Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP, Communities and Local Government Secretary; Jon Cruddas MP; Heather Wakefield of UNISON and Kenny Bell, UNISON

Future Shape – Cems & Crems – Good News!

Members will be pleased to know that following our last post on this item (see here)

We are meeting with management to discuss the options for this service including the in house option. Obviously the Trade Unions’ concerns about the process have been acknowledged. We will be providing updates on progress.

Trauma& Stroke Services for Barnet Residents

To all our Barnet UNISON members there is a consultation taking place. The consultation is on new trauma and stroke services for London. Barnet has the second highest incidents of strokes so it is really important that any planned stroke and trauma services need to be close by.

Most residents will not be aware there is a consultation going on. If you live in Barnet, one day you or a family or friend may needs these services click on the links below to take part in the consultation, please circulate the link.

Barnet College update

Barnet College UNISON, along with the teaching Unions, has recently participated in a joint lobbying with the College Principal of Hendon MP Andrew Dismore to call for a review of the Learning Skills Council’s funding strategies. We now await further developments following the recent publication of the Foster Report into the College Sector capital funding crisis.


College UNISON reps are continuing to have regular meetings with the HR Director to address ongoing issues following on from the conclusion of the recent S188 restructuring and redundancy consultations.

In particular, we are still waiting for outcomes from the consultation process over the proposed restructuring of the Facilities and Estates Department. We anticipate further developments on this issue once SMT have met to agree a finalised structure.

UNISON loses a great branch secretary

“An empty seat at UNISON Conference, Stamford Bridge, Tolpuddle”

On Monday 27 April I took a call from Jon Rogers to say that Malcolm Campbell had died. I don’t have the sufficient literacy skills to articulate how I feel and describe how special Malcolm was. My heart goes out to his partner, family and friends because there is going to be a big hole in everyone’s lives now he has gone. Malcolm was a mentor as well as a friend to me. Being a branch secretary is not an easy role to take on, but Malcolm seemed to be able to maintain a calm, which sometimes I find difficult. He was good to sound ideas off and you always knew he would give his honest opinion. He was staunch, a real trade unionist. I feel angry at his loss. There are not enough Malcolm Campbells in UNISON.

I am also sad that he did not get elected as Regional Convenor. He would have made a bloody brilliant convenor. He would have done the work, he was member led he wanted to see things done.

I could see the social worker in his approach to issues. He would always look to see what could be done rather than look at how or why things couldn’t be done. He demonstrated an empathy towards others that was natural not trained. Malcolm was able to fit in so much into his life, when he wasn’t busy in his UNISON role he was active in his Trade Council, or off to follow Chelsea, drinking awful real ale! I know he would have been so happy at the result last night. In fact when I was with him last Friday he was considering putting a bet on Chelsea to do the treble, FA Cup, League and the Champions League! 

But he was also mad about live music, I remember talking to him about the Ting Tings……a couple years ago, I had never heard of them, but that was Malcolm he just liked music. The Festival season is about to start and I know there will be a lot of sad people who would have been going to festivals with him this year. 

Croydon and Barnet are as far apart as you can get. I used to joke with him that I would like to work in Croydon because he seemed to be so organised. You just felt if Malcolm was representing you, you were not alone, you were safe. 

Well Malcolm, I said that you were leaving a big hole, but just from speaking to so many of your friends, I think there will be more than enough stories regaled about you to help go towards filling our loss.

Malcolm was a big supporter of our Fremantle Care Worker Campaign , I have put together a short tribute to him and you can hear and see him speaking about Fremantle here

UNISON colleagues have set up a BLOG

John Burgess  Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON & Friend

Council Cabinet Committee – Local Health Services

I would like to refer our members living in Barnet to item

7. Healthcare for London consultation on Stroke and Major Trauma Services

This all comes on top of the recent announcement that a judge has overturned the previous decision to allow a Judicial Review into the closure of 24 hour A&E and maternity services at Chase Farm Hospital. See press release here

It is well documented that we have a growing & ageing population; which makes it all the more important that we have the necessary infrastructure in place and the best place is local. In relation to Strokes everyone knows that positive outcomes are determined by how quick you receive treatment, any delays are just not acceptable. I would suggest any Barnet residents reading the article take the matter up with the local MP immediately.

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