Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Barnet CPZs: Council should not appeal

Barnet CPZ Action campaigner David Attfield won their recent case for Judicial Review at the High Court. We understand Barnet Council intend to appeal. See below Barnet CPZ Action's latest campaign news. Please sign the petition:
  • You may be interested to hear that David will be on today's Jeremy Vine Radio Two Show at 1.30pm (Wednesday 31 July 2013) in case you are in a position to listen. 
  • As you know,  Barnet may file an Appeal by the end of this week.  Let's show them that residents do not want their hard earned money wasted on this course of action, and they should accept the Judgment given on 22nd July by Mrs Justice Lang DBE.  If you have not yet signed the petition, you can do so here  This is not limited to Barnet residents, so please ask all your friends, family, neighbours, colleagues to get on and sign.  This is people power in motion.  We need thousands of signatures.
On the broader issues raised by this case, it's my view (and not just mine) that the campaign against the exorbitant hikes in parking fees for residents living in Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) is part of the campaign against central government cuts to local government finances.

CPZs are part of Barnet Council's planned Revenue Income Optimisation (RIO) which is what we all face in future whatever services we use: higher fees where the Council thinks they can levy them.

The cuts to local government funding are wrong and should be fought! No to RIO!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Were Barnet’s Tory councillors secretly whipped?

Were Barnet’s Tory councillors secretly whipped? Barnet bloggers call for an investigation

At Barnet Council’s full council meeting on 16 July, Councillor Brian Coleman alleged that Barnet’s Conservative members are ‘entirely whipped’ when attending scrutiny and other Council meetings, including those dealing with the highly controversial One Barnet privatisation programme.

According to the Council’s constitution, any whipping arrangements must be declared, but we believe that no such declarations have been made at any of the relevant recent meetings. Such actions would be in breach of the constitution and therefore unlawful.

If Councillor Coleman’s allegations are true, this clearly has very serious implications and casts into doubt the legality of many of the highly significant decisions which have been taken by the current administration, most importantly the decision to grant two massive contracts to Capita and Capita Symonds in the outsourcing of a large number of our local council services.

We therefore call on the Leader of the Council, Councillor Richard Cornelius, to instigate an immediate and independent public inquiry into the claims made by his former colleague, and we also ask that the authority’s external auditors at Grant Thornton should as a matter of public interest hold an urgent inquiry into the allegations. Residents need to know whether decisions have been made legally and whether Tory councillors have acted constitutionally.


Derek Dishman
John Dix
Vicki Morris
Theresa Musgrove
Roger Tichborne

19 July 2013

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Barnet Council in the dock #2: One Barnet Judicial Review

Barnet resident Maria Nash and her lawyers will be at the High Court on the Strand once again, Monday 15-Tuesday 16 July. They hope to persuade Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls and the second highest lawyer in the land (I understand), that Barnet Council's privatisation programme 'One Barnet' is illegal and should be stopped from going ahead.

Barnet Council have put in place various measures to get around the fact that they should not be implementing One Barnet until this legal process has run its course. They seem to be hoping that, even if he finds against them, the judge will deem so much water to have flowed under the bridge already that One Barnet has become an unstoppable tide.

That seems wrong to me, but sometimes facts on the ground count in the real world more than the realm of legal rights and wrongs. (A sort of parallel universe.)

Barnet Alliance for Public Services will be in court to support Maria. If you have some free time in the day in central London on Monday and Tuesday, do go along to the Royal Courts of Justice: it is an interesting experience and more people deserve to hear what is actually said in court, which can often reveal much more than the simple verdict.

For example, during the first round in the court, Mr Justice Underhill heard the argument on whether or not Barnet Council had consulted residents about One Barnet - as they are legally obliged to - and found that they had not, even though he ruled against Maria Nash on the grounds of the timing of her appeal for a Judicial Review. This imminent hearing is an appeal against that judgment.

Barnet Council have had to replace their barrister for this hearing; the new person couldn't be less persuasive than their last choice, who is not free in July, but, to be fair, it was a very tough gig making this administration look good!

P.S. If you want to follow Tweets from the court on Twitter, follow @barnetalliance and the hashtag #barnetjr (short for Barnet Judicial Review).

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Comer Brothers - I don't know their music, or: Barnet Alliance fundraising social, Saturday 13 July

If you've ever read a far-left newspaper, you'll be familiar with the fundraising column. Invariably this starts with a phrase such as "unlike the Tories and their millionaire backers, we have to rely on the generosity of our readers to support our work". And there's nothing wrong with that! It's true!

In the same vein, you will be interested to read on this website a list of the backers - whether or not they count as millionaires, they are certainly well-heeled - of your local Tory MPs. For example, Mike Freer is backed, albeit in a roundabout way, by the Comer Brothers, whose property portfolio includes North London Business Park where Barnet Council's main offices are.

Meantime, Barnet Alliance for Public Services continues to do incredible amounts of campaigning in defence of public services without rich backers, on a shoestring and using volunteer labour. Please help support their work. Visit the BAPS website to find out more.

BAPS is holding a fundraising social event this Saturday 13 July at the excellent Safari Bar in North Finchley: 975 High Road, N12 8QR. The programme starts at 7pm; for £3 on the door you get an excellent poet and blues band.