Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Stop Barnet Councillor Pay Increases

On 2 March 2010, Barnet Councillors approved their allowances for 2010/11 as determined by an Independent Remuneration Panel. These allowances were to cost Barnet residents £1.4 million of their money each year.

Just four months later and only 10 weeks after the election, senior Councillors now say these allowances are inadequate and have voted through huge increases for the leader, deputy leader and cabinet members.

At a time when everyone is being asked to make sacrifices, when local authority workers pay is frozen and council services are being cut, it cannot be appropriate for Councillors to have pushed through this new set of allowances. They certainly did not tell us they would do this when they asked for your Vote in the local elections.

Are you happy with the behaviour of the Concillors in voting to increase their allowances?

Well don't try and discuss it publicly in a Residents Forum as councillors will not allow the matter to be debated; instead they suggest that the matter be taken up with your local councillors. HOW ? Wasn't the purpose of the Residents Forum to provide an opportunity to scrutinise the activities of our Councillors and judge the integrity of their actions?

An alternative is to petition the Councillors and ask them to rescind their decision and return to the level of allowances set on the Second of March. The petition is electronic and can be found at:

Monday, 3 May 2010


Many Barnet residents were, and remain, deeply unhappy about the way in which Barnet Council is run. Amongst many of the concerns expressed is the character and integrity of those who were elected to represent residents in the one organisation that effects all our daily lives; and is paid for from our taxes

Set out below are the seven key principles that should apply to all aspects of public life as set down by the Committee for Standards in Public Life.

Now when reading them please consider and think very carefully. Do you believe that the Barnet Councillors seeking re-election have lived up to these standards in both the letter and the spirit of the principles over the past four years?

If you do, then vote with a clear conscience that your selection will, at the very least, be qualified for continuing public life.

If not; then surely you must vote for the people who will not only live up to these standards but embrace them wholeheartedly and unequivocally. The independent candidates supported by The Residents' Association of Barnet candidates, are these people.


SELFLESSNESS - Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

INTEGRITY - Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.

OBJECTIVITY - In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.

ACCOUNTABILITY - Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

OPENNESS -Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.

HONESTY - Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

LEADERSHIP - Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

How to upset the electorate - or do they really care?

Thank you for allowing me the use of your Blog spot.

I am absolutely furious with the attitude of councillors towards the mega millions of pounds lost in the Icelandic bank scandal.

Yesterday morning in Mill Hill Broadway I had the opportunity to bring the matter up with a be-whiskered and long standing member of Barnet council. It was the first occasion that I had to seek a face-to-face explanation from someone accountable for the actions of Barnet council.

I did not receive a satisfactory explanation but instead was firmly told it was a Barnet council employee who was responsible for the loss and nothing to do with him! I was also told that if you lent money overnight to banks then you must accept that you might loose the money! And with that he walked away!

I don’t ever recall agreeing to the taxes extorted from me by this incompetent council should be gambled in this manner. I had in the past relied on his integrity to protect me and my family’s interests in council matters.

At the time of this financial debacle members should have taken the honourable action and resigned, seeking re-election to prove residents confidence in their judgement and suitability for continuance in office. But they didn’t!

So long standing councillor, belonging to the party that I hope will form the next government; I have some unpleasant news for you. You and your colleagues will not receive my vote in the local elections. I believe that your failure to provide a satisfactory explanation and your subsequent action on walking a way from the discussion just demonstrates the arrogance contempt in which you hold us.

Ex Tory voter - Mill Hill

The Residents’ Association of Barnet do not have any candidates standing in the Mill Hill ward. We are allowing the publication of the above article as it reflects much of the feedback we are receiving during our canvassing.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Why RAB? - A view from Finchley supporting political change in Barnet

This following letter was published in the Barnet & Potters Bar Times, Edgware & Mill Hill Times and the Hendon & Finchley Times on the 29 April 2010.

From: Barry Fineberg – Finchley

Out of touch

"The initiative of the Residents Association of Barnet [RAB] [ ‘Independents to fight 15 council seats’. Times Series, April 1] offers the greatest encouragement for real change on the political horizon. It stands every chance of breaking the status quo which is our sickly, disordered local democracy.

Your letters page is the simplest evidence of repeated failures and complaints, despite efforts by overstretched representatives doing their level best. The legitimacy of Barnet Council cabinet decisions would seem often to depend only on a quorate of three specific cabinet members, the kind of shortcut that speaks for one-third of a million citizens.

The council’s grossly extensive geographic territory is also the source of a needles complexity. Decision-making is inevitably secretive by default, lacking transparency, intelligibility or accountability. The council’s physical remoteness from its many communities and the absence of public voice, keep it out of touch with the need or the impact of its policies on residents.

Decentralization of council activity can greatly empower local representatives and their electorates whilst enabling sharper overall strategies through corresponding reductions in administrative and political congestion at the centre. The localised whole will offer greatly enlarged public arenas for residents to find themselves better able to scrutinise and comprehend local issues and expenditures.

Many will think such radical ambition is wildly impracticable, but this is a special time, with public trust in both parliamentary and local government in peril. Scope for the redevelopment of local community through its politics and economy should not lightly be set aside.

RAB’s intervention is indeed praiseworthy, deserving a generous mandate. At best it may hopefully break the mould of established politics and foster wider dialogue with other councillors and with the public on the need, the process and the method of swingeing change."

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

RAB canvassing feedback

Dorthy Badrick Chairman of RAB writes:

As I have been canvassing two observations are being made to me that I would like to answer.

Firstly, what are our policies?
Well, we formed because we were and are dismayed at the juggernaut that our local authority has become both in terms of size, power and blindness to us the residents. We are a broad umbrella but all our candidates subscribe to independence and NO party whip so that issues are debated and discussed in terms of their value to the local community not to what a political party wants. This has been demonstrated with a site in Finchley, The Brent Lodge Orchard Site. We have three candidiates who appeared to have very different views on the use of this site. But by dint of meetings and discussions we have been able to broker an agreement to the satisfaction of all the parties involved. This was achieved by not imposing a solution which sets opposing parties at each other throats but by working through the issues and concerns of everybody, a process that this administration appears not to understand. I mention this site in particular because it demonstrates our commitment to upholding the public ownership of publically owned assets, which we believe that an administration holds only in trust. Therefore we are absolutely opposed to the Conservative plans for “asset backed vehicles” which are the equivalent of selling the family farm. The Finchley site also involved a charity for vulnerable adults. The agreement reached also benefits them – we in RAB have a commitment to the well-being of all vulnerable people. We do not support the removal of wardens from sheltered housing. We are opposed to any cutting of essential front line services. We think that substantial savings can be made by cutting “back end administration”. We do not support “Future shape” or “EasyCouncil.” Why should we pay for extra administrative functions instead of paying for services?

My second observation involves Faith.
We are blessed in Barnet with numerous Faith groups all of whom work to high moral values and provide substantial charitable support to their own and other communities. The “Churches Together” organisation fosters communication and understanding between Faiths. Many of the various Faiths have organised local and national “hustings” believing that their Faith must be a working and practical force for good in the community. Whether or not you are a person of Faith the work of the religious groups is huge and beneficial. In RAB we have candidates who are atheist, greens, Jewish and Christian. We are united in our desire to bring back respect to local government.

Finally, we are committed to the community and I firmly believe that a community needs to be local. Locating your local authority about as far away as you can from the majority of the electorate, badly served by public transport is, frankly, an insult. As is using residents’ money to sue them if they have the temerity to complain or protest. I have been shocked at the awful stories that have been related to me. People have been made seriously ill by how they have been treated. This is not democracy in any way that I understand it.

I hope this statement helps voters to make up their minds. And I do most urgently encourage everyone who is eligible to vote to do just that. Change is possible we can all contribute to making a difference. If we do not then our local authority will become as remote as the EU and about as useful.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Council employees are also council tax payers.

We must not forget that many of our council employees are also Barnet residents and tax payers. They are generally loyal public servants who want to do a good job for a decent wage – no different from anyone else. It is not often that we hear their views, even though they have the advantage of knowing what is happening inside Barnet council.

Anecdotal evidence gathered during canvassing indicates an untold Barnet council story; and whilst we rely on the media to expose scandals not even their diligent investigations can identify all that may be wrong within the council.

It is a difficult situation. It would be wrong to expose further scandals of council secretiveness, waste and mis-management without independent corroboration, but the apparent frustration of the council employees / council tax payers in these matters cannot be ignored.

Of course, with a new council membership we would hope for significant changes and improvements as to how the council conducts its’ future business on our behalf. It would be hoped that greater transparency from the council will help achieve this. There should be a role in this transparency process for council employees to expose that which may be wrong, and in doing so help create the better council that we all want. But only if residents and tax payers vote for these changes!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Local Democracy - your influence

As a long term resident I know that we have experienced many changes in Barnet – some good, some not so good. However, despite the increasing size and cost of our local council organisation we residents do not seem to have had a proportionate increase in the quality and number of council services that we require.

A fundamental question is of course were these council services not already sufficient and satisfactory for our needs? Did we need change? Could we have avoided these increasing costs if changes were deemed unnecessary? All reasonable questions for debate; but were they properly debated, or just implemented under “delegated powers”?

Next time you’re canvassed for your vote by a councillor seeking re-election ask for an explanation of “delegated powers” and the cabinet system of “democracy” used in Barnet. You will be surprised, and possibly shocked, as to how little influence you have on council decision making - decisions which are made in the name of all Barnet citizens.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Election Candidates. We were told our papers were right

This following letter was published in the Barnet & Potters Bar Times, Edgware & Mill Hill Times and the Hendon & Finchley Times on the 22 April 2010.

Election Candidates.
We were told our papers were right.

As chairman of the Residents’ Association of Barnet, I personally accompanied our paperwork to North London Business Park (NLBP) with two members of the Residents’ Association of Barnet.
On the advice of officers, we made necessary corrections. We even had someone drive from Golders Green to NLBP to sign a form. At the end, we were assured our papers were correct and accepted – we would hope so because at least three people at NLBP checked each nomination.
Apart from telling us that Morton Morris’s wife had signed four nomination forms, and having to correct an entry in the Electoral Roll, the other thing the council got wrong was to relocate Golders Green into Edgware. Easy error to make you may think – or not.
I spoke directly to Nick Walkley, the council’s chief executive and returning officer. He told me no appeal was possible; the last candidate paper in, would have to be refused. In making this decision he has disenfranchised Golders Green, Morton Morris and possibly the council if the elections are close.
Strange that everything is always our fault, but when the council loses £27 million or sensitive data, no senior officer or councillor is ever called to account. Who is running this rotten borough?
Dorothy Badrick
Residents’ Association of Barnet

Brent Cross "Its not an Incinerator

The following is the text of a letter published in "THE PRESS" on Thursday 22 April 2010.

Fascinated to read Jonathan Josephs latest utopian statement about "Slum City". Sorry - the proposed Brent Cross Regentrification - sorry again -Re-generation.
Please, when is an incinerator not an incinerator? This plant will take in rubbish of all sorts, heat it up to provide energy for the proposed development, and spew out the remains via a 140metre chimney. Why is it so high? Well, to "safely" disperse the polluntants, nano-particles that can get into lungs and dioxides - highly poisonous substances. What a delightful scheme; one that Mr. Joseph describes as, "green." No, Mr Joseph, that's the colour the rest of us turn when we envisage your mad ideas for us.
Regarding Clitterhouse Playing fields. This is MOL, Metropolitan Open Land, same status as "green Belt". So, no, you cannot put a cafe in the middle of it, a cafe on the edge would be nice. Ah, that's where Barnet wants to build more "hutches for Hobbits " And you are prevented from developing it into a park by Planning Policy Guidelines that "forbid anything on or around it that affects its open character". Fortunately Gordon Kerr and The Telegraph have run a campaign to strengthen these guidelines. So go away Mr. Joseph, we don't like your scheme and we don't like you.

Dorothy Badrick
Residents' Association of Barnet.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Does Barnet council needs help with financal transparency?

Barnet council lost £27 million of our council tax money in Icelandic banks.

They mis-managed the Aerodrome Road bridge project, wasting a further £12 million of our council tax money.

They are badly organised, having to rely on additional agency staff and consultants at a cost of £20 million in the past year.

That’s a mis-management hit of £59 million to the council tax payer!

From the leaflet accompanying our council tax demands the sparse financial information lets slip that Barnet council tax payers have no option but to contribute over £153 million in this financial year.

It’s election time. The different political parties make their various claims. They tell us in their election publicity that in the past 8 years our council tax has increased by 45%, and also that the council has saved £96 million!

If the political parties are correct then:
a) without a 45% increase in council tax we would only be paying £105 million; and,
b) without the savings of £96 million we would be paying more than £249 million in council tax.

That’s a £144 million difference; and not far short of the £153 million that will be compulsorily collected from Barnet council tax payers this year. But more importantly, the identified cost of council mis-management at £59 million represents nearly 40% of your council tax payments for this year!

The financial details necessary to verify and validate or dispute these claims, are obscured from public view and analysis. This makes it difficult for anyone to make an informed decision, be it which candidate to elect, or if council tax money is being spent correctly.

We need the ability to disperse the smoke, and smash the mirrors used by the council to hide what is truly happening. This lack of transparency, and the consequential failure of accountability for mis-management, is costing the council tax payer dearly.

Let us hope that the council has learnt a lesson, and that future financial scrutiny committees co-opt lay members, who can contribute honest and impartial financial expertise, to assist the them in their task.

Barnet residents deserve honesty, transparency and accountability from the council. They now have the opportunity to elect independent councillors who will support the strengthening of scrutiny committees with qualified lay members.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Barnet’s budget for the 2010/11 financial year is approaching a BILLION pounds.

The Overview & Scrutiny Committees of the council are charged with ensuring, on our behalf, that “Cabinet policies” address the needs of all local residents and communities, that mandated services directed by these policies are delivered efficiently and effectively, that our money is spent correctly, identifying mis-management and other failings; and, ensuring that those responsible for these failures are brought to account.

But this is not happening in BARNET

Councillors belonging to centrally controlled national political parties are prevented from attacking their own party policies; even when these policies clearly fail to meet our local needs. As evidenced by events in Barnet, this restriction on the exercise of a councillors’ judgement can not sit easily with either membership of, or the correct functioning, of Overview & Scrutiny committees. It is only the strengthening of these committees with independently minded councillors, free of imposed national political party directives, that will ensure that residents receive the services, transparency and honesty from the council that they deserve.