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

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Budget and Performance

I always hold the Health Committee as a model of a good working committee, with knowledgeable members who contribute a great deal of expertise and do so in a non partisan manner. The committee is chaired by the excellent Cllr Alison Cornelius, who is fair minded, and wants to get to the bottom of issues, rather than hide them away. The same cannot be said of Budget and Performance.

Given we had important cabinet members and officers, such as Cllr Rajput, Cllr Thomas, Cllr Harper, Cllr Dean Cohen. it's sad that the Tory Councillors waste time being counter productive. When questioning Cllr Thomas and Mr Hooton, Cllr Marshall asked about our banking with the Co-op Bank. The Co-op Bank won the contract fair and square, and won the re-tendering as well. The Tories want to get a "better deal" out of the best deal they had, they want abank that offers a higher rate of investment. I pointed out to them that they had tried that with the Icelandic Banks. Cue a hail of abuse. None of it stopped by the chair, except when I tried to reply to some of it. Cllr Rayner said he had wondered when the Icelandic Banks would be brought up.

Isn't it extraordinary that people who spend their time blaming their failing policies on the last Labour Government can't handle it when their recklessness that cost the borough is even mentioned? And isn't it typical of the coward and bully that when you stand up to them they resort to abuse and whining to the chair. I suppose if you are winding these lot up then you are doing a good job.

Then we were treated to a series of fawning softball questions from the chair, who, completely coincidentally, is also the Tory Group whip. How many years has CTAX been frozen is it? Can you keep carrying on with your excellent budgetary management? Aren't you marvellous Daniel? Ok I made the second one up.... I have never seen Alison Cornelius ask soft questions to Cllr Helena Hart like this.

I asked what Plan B was if the judicial review of One Barnet was successful. Apparently, there is no Plan B. They can afford one month delay before it starts costing, but if it all falls apart, there is nothing there. And then they made the threats. If One Barnet doesn't go through then we will have to close libraries and stop services. So if the people dare say what they think, if you stop us from going ahead with something we never asked for permission to do then you're all in trouble. It's your fault for stopping our wonderful plan. I don't recall in my A Level Geography where exactly Cloud Cuckoo Land is, but I'm sure the Barnet Tories have some serious real estate there.

The questions sessions with Cllr Rajput and Cllr Harper and Kate Kennally went well I thought- a little less partisan, so better questions about budget lines and we got to tease out some details, and have queries answered. All three are very fair minded when answering questions.

The questions with Cllr Cohen and Pam Wharf were productive, but due to time we weren't able to explore things fuller. I do keep insisting when I see them that I hope there is money in the street scene budget to maintain a proper works program. I report a fair few things in East Finchley, and I hope there is the budget to deal with them.