Thursday, 18 March 2010

Nick Walkley - flushing out the opposition

If you have ever sat in the public gallery for a Barnet council cabinet meeting when chief executive Nick Walkley has been there, be sure you have been thoroughly surveyed. Walkley likes to check out just who is in the room; it's his job to know the lie of the land politically, the size and composition of the opposition to any measure the administration is putting through.

That's how I interpret this invitation from the council to a meeting for people who might be thinking of standing in the council elections. The mainstream parties know who is standing for them, Nick Walkley probably knows who is standing for each party. But he doesn't know what is going on out there, in no-party-affiliation land. He must be getting twitchy.

I went to the recent Residents' Association of Barnet (RAB) meeting that discussed independent candidacies. I haven't written a report, partly because I've been too busy and partly because... I don't want to give anything away! Ha!

It's fair to say that I wouldn't stand as a RAB candidate, because I think their platform is too woolly and not left-wing enough, but do I know others who might be thinking of standing? Aha! That would be telling!

P.S. Worth noting as well that the workshop for potential candidates is being run by Barnet's favourite think tank IDeA. Them again.


Anonymous said...

Oh Vicki! I think that is being a little hard on RAB. Having spoken to one of their supporters it is clear that whilst there is a broad range of views, the key issue that everyone is focused on is the need for better democracy at Barnet Council. This includes improving transparency, challenging the complacency that appears to be endemic and actually listening to what the community is saying. Perhaps not as left wing as you would prefer but it is a starting point. There appear to be some very skilled and able candidates who won't be given the run around and aren't easily intimidated especially by Nick Walkley.

vickim57 said...

Thank you for your comment, Anonymous. It would be a poor show if I didn't say anything more about RAB, I just wanted to say where I stood to put paid to any idea that I - or my ilk - might be standing on their platform.

I will write at more length, and I take your key point, where I think you are quite right, that more transparency is needed and more responsiveness to the grassroots. I do think RAB could deliver that to some extent... Must find the time to respond properly.

Left-wing. Well, I am and most people in Barnet aren't, I realise that. But you have to represent your own politics, more or less, I think, or why bother.

On the woolly charge, this is what I mean: "we will dump the concept and practice of 'easyCouncil'".

I would dearly love to dump easyCouncil but it's not clear from this brief statement what it is about easyCouncil you don't like. Is it the fact that it's being done as a cost-cutting exercise (because I don't like that)? Or because it proposes to charge people extra for unspecified but possibly key services (I don't like that)? Is it the fact that they want to outsource a lot of the services, which, if it means cheaper services, usually means a lower-paid workforce doing the work (I don't like that)?

Do you see what I am getting at? What is it about easyCouncil that you don't like? What would you propose in its place? My answer would be: cut the unnecessary expenditures, stop wasting money on expensive consultants who just want to outsource and privatise, join with other local authorities to demand more money from central government to defend public services, mobilise the community in a political battle for that...

That's possibly not what you mean by opposing easyCouncil! I think your platform is not clear enough at the moment. People can read what they want to into it, and I think that is a mistake, and even dangerous, politically.

There, I've said quite a lot after all!

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

Well well well, Its helpful always to get anothers point of view. I like your style, r u sure you do not want to join,in an advisory capacity? Its easy to criticise but that much more difficult to do. If nothing else I shall read your blog - there you go- one more reader!- if only for the critique it offers.