Information about my work as a Labour Councillor for East Finchley in the London Borough of Barnet

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

A very interesting BMOSC

I did tell you all to come!

There were a few call-ins by my colleagues Cllr Kath McGuirk on Parking and Events in Parks, and by Cllr Barry Rawlings on Children's Centres and Day Centres.

Kath is brilliant at BMOSC, and I am glad I didn't have Cllr Dean Cohen's job tonight! On the parking trials in North Finchley, she exposed the poor planning of the new schemes to make it easier to park. In my view, if they want to help people park they should just reinstate the meters and introduce the half an hour free parking. I think they are doing the latter, which is good, but I want to see the former as well, which they resolutely refuse to do.

Kath was also very good on the events at parks debate. She asked why they were going ahead with the policy in four parks in Hendon, when they had scrapped them everywhere else. The chair, Cllr Hugh Rayner represents Hale Ward, and said he was happy to have the policy in Scratchwood. I hear Scratchwood is famous for it's *cough* interesting leisure activities. I suppose Cllr Rayner hope that the policy will encourage people to actually use the park, and encourage it to be maintained better, but Residents at the three other parks will probably not feel that way.

The officers said that there had been significant opposition from residents around Victoria Park, Oak Hill and Lyttelton; which is in the Garden Suburb and the closest to East Finchley borders. I suppose that means if we kick up a fuss in Hendon, those will go too?

On the day centres, I am hoping for a guest blog, so more later.

I have blogged about children's centres here.

And this was the less interesting bit of the meeting!

Friern Barnet residents and activists submitted their petition to re-open the library. It has attracted 2,500 signatures and managed to get to the committee, but it took the entire rest of the discussion to find out what the committee could actually do! Could they refer it to Cabinet, as they eventually voted to do? Or should it have been to refer it to the Cabinet member, Cllr Robert Rams for re consideration? Well they voted, and I suspect this will be another constitutional mess like the planning meeting a few months ago. The legal officer did n ot have clear guidance from the text of the constitution, which did not say that they could refer it to Cabinet, but didn't say they couldn't either! What a badly written and obscure rule.

When we come down to the debate, there were excellent contributions from the three ward Councillors. Pauline Coakley-Webb is the dictionary definition of feisty, and always delivers a punchy speech. Kate Salinger, my former teacher and current deputy mayor, was hilarious. She said she had done the trip from Friern Barnet to the Arts Depot as it would have been for her 25 years ago with her children. Barry Rawlings was brilliant, he said Friern Barnet had lost it's Town Hall, it's ward name and now it's library, and had to be something more than just the destination of the 43 bus.

Cllr Pauline Coakley-Webb
 In fact, Barry and I were talking to Friern Barnet residents just a few hours before, and the anger is still very much there. Pauline made the point that FB had had a raw deal compared to the Garden Suburb, who get £25,000 and the utility bills, whereas Friern Barnet have to provide a capital receipt. The officer said that GS have to break even in three years though I wonder if it will close if they fail?

Sadly, there was a bit of disruption from an angry member of the public, but the chair Hugh Rayner was very fair and sensible, and common sense prevailed during an interval. It has been referred back, but we will see about that.

A lot of important issues were discussed, and the meeting ended in a happier atmosphere.
Councillors, residents and activists supporting the Friern Barnet Library petition