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."