Labour blunder cuts £1.9m of funding for disabled children in Barnet, but Council Leader averts crisis

An incredible blunder by Labour Group Deputy Leader Cllr Barry Rawlings has effectively cut all Short Breaks funding provided by the council to institutions across Barnet, along with a whole range of other support services for children with disabilities, to the value of £1.9m.

The Labour member ‘called in’ the Cabinet Resources Committee report that extended the contracts for these services to the Business Management Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday evening and then, with colleagues, voted that it be sent back to the administration. Without these contract extensions, the council is left without the legal power to pay its providers, meaning services would have to be stopped.

Council Leader Cllr Richard Cornelius said:

“This needs to be reversed. I am taking urgent action to avoid these services being wrecked.

“Cllr Rawlings and Labour have created a right constitutional mess and have effectively removed all funding from these organisations. In their attempts to make the funding of Short Breaks at Mapledown School a political football – never having highlighted or varied this particular saving in their budget amendment – they have recklessly made the situation much worse.

“Labour are faffing around calling for meetings, but what they’ve done needs urgent action and cannot wait for a committee meeting to be called. This is no longer just about Short Breaks, but also about children in care, mental health services and all sorts. I am ensuring that these services can continue.”

With no more Cabinet Resource Committee meetings able to take place before the election, the long term funding issue for Mapledown is to be reviewed by the new Education Committee under the new Council.

Council Leader Cllr Richard Cornelius continued:

“The Mapledown situation needs to be determined by the new committee and so I will ensure their funding, to maintain services at the existing level, for one year to give the school a chance to adjust and for alternate funding to be found.”

Mapledown School – open letter to the Barnet Times Newspaper

Published below is an open letter Cllr Reuben Thompstone has written to the Barnet Times Newspaper. In it he highlights how the council has been working with the school over its funding issues, how the Labour Party supported these cuts, how the Labour Party did not take part in the consultation on this matter and how much of the funding is actually protected.

Dear Sir,

I was surprised to read your article outlining the opposition apparent from the Labour party’s local council leader and parliamentary candidates with respect to the reduction in funding for short breaks at Mapledown School. My surprise stems from the fact that the Labour Group on Council put forward an alternative budget this year which mirrored precisely these reductions in funding despite being given the opportunity to participate in the consultation in this matter last year where not a word was heard from Cllr Moore or any of her colleagues.

This funding formula was temporary and as central government has now closed this funding stream, we are pleased that we were able to retain a significant service locally with the close support of Headteacher Steve Carroll and in consultation with local parents. Some reporting appears to mislead, to clarify, the school’s budget (through the dedicated schools grant) is and remains protected. Furthermore, with over £100,000 in Mapledown School’s reserve account, it is for the school to determine how best to use their resources for those they serve.

Perhaps the Labour group might work out how they could show they are ready to lead, instead of standing on the sidelines throwing stones. Instead, they appear determined to show that opposition is where they belong nationally and locally, as they continue to be part of the problem and not the solution.

Regards,

Regards,

Reuben Thompstone
Cabinet Member for Education, Children & Families,
Councillor for Golders Green

West Hendon Set To Receive Up To 2 Hours Free Parking

It has been revealed today that West Hendon is set to receive up to 2 hours of free parking under a proposal by the ruling Conservative administration. The scheme, which will be subject to consultation and planning procedures, would also see new and improved recreational facilities for the area.

Cllr Dean Cohen, Conservative Cabinet Member for Environment, said:

“I am delighted to be able to announce that we propose to convert the Ball Park in West Hendon into a public car park offering 2 hours free parking. This will increase parking capacity for the town centre and boost local trade.
The plan will also be a way of bringing the largely redundant Ball Park back into use. Although it has not been used for a long time, it is important that there is local amenity for young people. Therefore the proposals are on the proviso that, by working alongside regeneration and highways officers, we can find an alternative site for recreation in the area.

This will lead to better provision for both parking and recreation in West Hendon as both new facilities will be more usable and attractive for residents.”

The announcement follows the recent confirmation that two new short-stay bays (up to 2 hours), together providing about 20 spaces, are being introduced in the bus lane on West Hendon Broadway. The first 15 minutes in these bays are free.

Cllr Cohen continued:

“This is part of our programme of examining each area and developing local solutions to meet the needs of that particular community. I think this will be an excellent result for West Hendon and I thank officers, TfL and the local Conservative team, who have worked closely with me on these plans in order that we can try to achieve the best for the residents and businesses in the area.”

Local ward councillor Ansuya Sodha added:

“This is brilliant news for West Hendon and shows that Barnet’s Conservatives are delivering for local people. Labour totally neglected West Hendon in their budget amendment, with no funding for any free parking here. Now we have 15 minutes in the bus lane between 10am and 4pm and could be set to enjoy 2 hours free in the Ball Park. New recreation facilities would make this plan a win-win for West Hendon.”

Who is the Labour Councillor who has allegedly been summoned to court for non-payment of £1,400 of Council tax?

Cllr Tom Davey writes an open letter to Cllr Moore – in conclusion he says “After mistakes in your budget sums, accepting a 1% cut in Council Tax and One-Barnet Savings, and now this scandal, surely you cannot continue in a position of leadership.”

Dear Cllr Moore,

I, like many residents in Barnet, was shocked and appalled to find that an elected member had allegedly been summonsed to court for non-payment of £1,400 of Council tax.

I find it disgraceful that any elected member should fail to pay the Council tax they owe, especially when we all know the pressure local authorities across the country face. What is even more disturbing is that it is possible this member was voting on Council tax items, and submitting questions at Council relating to Council Tax enforcement and collection methods.

What you need to do

I know you will join me in condemning these actions, but what we need is transparency and openness. I have already been contacted by several Hale residents this morning who cannot believe the alleged Labour Councillor has not been named, especially in light of recent events with Maria Miller.

For the sake of the reputation of all Councillors and in the name of transparency, and on behalf of law abiding tax-payers across Barnet, i demand that you name the Labour Councillor who has tried to dodge their obligation, and make public exactly why they thought they were different to hard working families who pay their tax.

What i will do

I will be emailing Cllr Thomas to ask that he, through the appropriate officers, investigates if the alleged Labour Councillor received any communication or treatment different to that an ordinary residents would receive when in default of Council Tax payment.

In addition, i will be starting an online petition for Barnet residents to sign, promoting openness and transparency in a democratic society by naming the alleged Councillor.

Please do the honourable thing and name the alleged Councillor. It is also clear that your position as Labour Leader is no longer tenable. After mistakes in your budget sums, accepting a 1% cut in Council Tax and One-Barnet Savings, and now this scandal, surely you cannot continue in a position of leadership.

I await your reply.

Regards,
Cllr Tom Davey

Hale Ward

And Now For Something Completely Different

Yesterday, my good friend Danny Stone @DannyStone1 and I launched a new blog on the Huffington Post all about wrestling!

You can check it out at http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/danny-stone/wrestlemania-preview_b_5069761.html

We have some great interviews with wrestling stars lined up and a few other surprises in the coming weeks, so please book mark the page!