The Olympic Torch to come to Barnet

On Monday 7 November, it was formally announced that the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay will come to Barnet on Wednesday 25 July 2012. The relay will travel through Harrow and Brent before arriving in Barnet and moving across the borough for about two hours. The relay will then continue to Enfield before finishing in Haringey for that day’s evening celebration.

The exact details of the route are currently embargoed and won’t be revealed until early next year. But I can tell you that the torch will arrive from Brent in the west of the borough, is anticipated to pass the Town Hall and then travel through a number of town centres past some of our excellent parks before moving into Enfield in the east.

There will be about 30 torch bearers in our section of the route and a number of them will be Barnet residents.

At one stage there was a suggestion that the cycling road race route would also pass through Barnet and I was disappointed when it was decided that this wouldn’t be the case. Hearing more about the torch relay has made the games seem more real to me and, once again, I’m excited about London 2012.

I hope you take the chance to see the torch relay next summer and celebrate the Olympic Games coming to London, it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

There is more information about the torch rally on the London 2012 website


More to libraries than just buildings

The following letter was published in today’s edition of The Barnet Press:


I agree with much of the sentiment of your editorial of October 27, “we cannot allow our libraries to go easily” but disagree with a central tenet of your piece – that the only way of measuring the success of a library service is by the number of buildings.

We have been clear that the heart of our library service has to be promoting reading and literacy, even if the means by which we promote these has changed.

With this in mind our library service review has invested in more adult literacy support, has committed the council to providing every primary school pupil in the borough with library membership and has increased the book-buying budget.

With less money available for public service, if we simply provide less of the same we will be dooming services like libraries to a general spiral of decline.

All of the public sector faces the unavoidable challenge of working with less money, library services will have to deal with a reduced budget. But the approach we have taken in this borough leaves the service well prepared to meet its priorities over the coming decade. While reducing the library service budget by more than 20 per cent, in line with other council budgets, we have avoided the wholesale building closures seen in other boroughs.

In Barnet we see the need to provide a range of buildings to meet local needs. Some of these will be major landmark libraries, others will be smaller link libraries specialising in outreach and adult literacy.

And as our newly published budget proposal shows, we are also hoping that positive community proposals also come forward.

The council’s new library strategy shows that by being clear about what we are trying to achieve, we can produce a service that is better for the great majority of its users, meets the changing needs of residents and is fit to prosper in the coming decades.