Saturday, 9 May 2009

March to save sheltered housing wardens, Finchley Church End ward, Saturday 9 May

Today's march through Barnet council leader Mike Freer's ward, to defend sheltered housing wardens, passed off well. It had taken a while to get police permission and so we only had two weeks to publicise it, during which I spent two spells away. Nevertheless, 150 people came, of all ages and backgrounds, the vast majority of them sheltered housing scheme residents and their relatives and friends.

The march was organised by Barnet Community Campaign and supported by Barnet trades council.We gave out leaflets to the public as we walked from Finchley Central tube to Victoria Park, where we held an inpromptu rally on the grass outside the park. Andrew Dismore MP who has spoken well in Parliament on the wardens issue was there. I don't always agree with Andrew (that's putting it mildly) but it would be churlish to begrudge him some limelight on this issue. Labour group leader Alison Moore has supported the campaign as well.

But the day belonged to the residents. The Hendon Times interviewed a number of them - while the picture on their website perhaps concentrates too much on the MP for Hendon! The turnout today convinces me that a more joined-up campaign against warden cuts around the country, with proper press attention, could not have failed - is it too late to save wardens in Barnet and elsewhere?

Our campaign continues through contacting councillors, council leader Mike Freer in particular. There will also be a lobby of the annual council meeting on Tuesday 19 May, from 6pm at Hendon Town Hall. Campaigners will hand in their petition to the new mayor Brian Coleman, who is reported to be sceptical about the value of petitions. I hope we can serve it up in a way that will have an impact.

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