The Barnet bloggers have already written about last nights cabinet meeting, and as I was in the same position as they were, there is little I can add to what they said. I will comment on two points. I thought Barry Rawlings and Ansuya Sodha gave excellent performances on a section about community centres. Ansuya spoke up for one in Hendon, and said how well the different communities worked together, with one staff who caters for up to 250 people! She said how difficult many of our Asian residents found it to come here from Uganda and Kenya, not really speaking the language and forming these community groups to retain something of their culture and to keep in touch with friends.
Barry built on that by saying that it's comforting to elder generations to see foods and clothes that they are familiar with, and that diversity has an economic benefit. Also, these groups are hugely supportive of their members and the events get people out and about, rather than staying at home. I will post more on this later, as Alison Moore and I visited one of these centres earlier this week, and I have some comments to make on it.
Speaking of Alison, she spoke very well in defence of the Newstead Children's centre in East Finchley, an defended children's centre funding. I have always seen them as an investment in the future, and they will pay dividend for years to come as early intervention will save millions down the line. I was told by someone in the room that it was an excellent presentation, and I could not agree more. Alison has a lot of experience in children's services and it is one of her passions. I have to say though, that Andrew Harper said she was "scaremongering". I think that's a regrettable comment from Cllr Harper because during a visit to the Newstead, they explained to us what was happening to children's centres, and I think it is very worrying. We have a duty to let people know what is happening to their services, and if needs be campaign against it early (preferably before the decision is taken!)
I also find it interesting that Cllr Harper used the word scaremongering. I recall that before the 2010 elections, that is precisely what they accused Barry Rawlings of when he warned that Friern Barnet Library might close. I wonder how that turned out? I also think that if the Tories were in the same position, they would do the same thing, so I don't know what he is on about.
There was also an interesting debate on the future of Hendon Football Club. I don't know the background to it well, but I can tell you fair few people left the room with headaches after discussing it!
The highlight of the evening was Sachin Rajput talking about the Freemantle contract, and described 10 year contracts as inflexible. This caused a twitter because that's exactly one of the criticism of One Barnet.