Archive for the 'Barnet' Category

Alert: Time to remind the Assembly Transport Committee of the Mayor of London’s promises on cycling

The Transport committee of the London Assembly will be quizzing the Deputy Mayor for Transport and the Transport Commissioner on how they will be meeting the Mayor’s transport promises at it’s meeting tomorrow (Thu 24 May).

The Mayor’s commitments, of course, include meeting the three key tests of the London Cycling Campaign’s “Love London, Go Dutch” campaign:
Three flagship walking and cycling schemes in accordance with ‘Go Dutch’ principles
‘Go Dutch’ principles applied to all roadworks and development schemes under the Mayor’s control
Superhighways completed to ‘Go Dutch’ principles.

Boris Johnson made additional commitments to cycling during the course of the election campaign:

  • Appointing a Cycling Commissioner (in response to a question at the Times/Sustrans hustings about putting a ‘cycling representative’ on the Board of Transport for London)
  • Being more assertive with Borough ‘recusants’ that get in the way of Superhighways (to the London Jewish Forum in regards to Barnet Council).
  • Appointing a cycling representative on the Mayor’s Roads Task Force (to British Cycling).
  • Expanding cycle hire as per Boris’ manifesto.
  • Lobbying central government to press for stronger sentencing in relation to road incidents involving cyclists (in response to a question at the Times/Sustrans hustings from someone whose brother was killed by motorist convicted of dangerous driving but only spent a couple of months in prison).

Readers of this email may wish to lobby their Assembly Members – particularly those who sit on the Transport Committee, on reminding them of the Mayor’s commitments to cycling.

A reminder, below of the relevant Assembly Members, and their constituencies.

Caroline Pidgeon (Chair) – Londonwide
Valerie Shawcross CBE (Deputy Chair) – Lambeth & Southwark
Jennette Arnold OBE – North East (Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest)
Victoria Borwick – Londonwide
Tom Copley – Londonwide
Andrew Dismore – Barnet & Camden
Roger Evans – Havering & Redbridge
Darren Johnson – Londonwide
Joanne McCartney – Enfield & Haringey
Steve O’Connell – Croydon & Sutton
Murad Qureshi – Londonwide
Richard Tracey – Merton & Wandsworth

Uninspiring, nebulous drivel – Barnet’s “Sustainable Community Strategy”

This evening I attended a Barnet Civic Network event at North London Business Park. It was new to me but many of those present (generally greying men) complained about the participation being dominated by the “usual suspects”.

The agenda was a consultation of the “Vision”, “Values”, and “Priorities” of Barnet’s Sustainable Community Strategy for 2010-2020. The values were okay and the priorities weren’t too bad but there was nothing inspirational. It was mostly nebulous waffle. The real problem was the dearth of any real vision. The supposed vision statement consisted of tired old phrases the simply described the status quo (good schools, low crime, etc.). I also couldn’t see anything remotely addressing the word “sustainable”.

Of course Barnet already has a 10 year sustainable community strategy, adopted in 2008. Cllr Robert Roms explained that we needed a new one now because much had changed since 2008 (new government, financial crisis, etc.) though when I asked what in the proposed strategy was actually different from 2008 the lead he was somewhat stumped for an answer! A couple of people on my table commented they had seen the same stuff 10 or 15 years ago. A quick web search now I’ve got home shows there was also a 10 year strategy agreed in 2006 which was also much the same.

Cllr Rams did seem keen to impress that he had some sort of vision, though I couldn’t quite discern what it was. He did ask me to get in touch with him to discuss further so I’ll email him and give him the benefit of the doubt for now. But this uninspiring, nebulous technocratic waffle is just another reminder of how hollow Town Halls have become.

An elected Mayor would bring focus and profile to civic leadership that would attract higher calibre politicians and also encourage them to be braver. Certainly Barnet needs a shake-up.

I’m splitting my vote for change in Barnet (Council)

In Barnet it is indeed time for change. The Labour group have not been an effective opposition on the Council and Barnet is, largely, a Conservative suburban borough but the Conservative administration here really do need a kick up the backside. Quite apart from fiascos such as losing £18 mn of tax payers’ money in Icelandic banks, the last few years can be characterised simply in this way: a bunch of councillors elected by the more affluent ares protecting their precious ‘suburban character’ whilst dumping unwanted new developments in the poorer parts. There’s also a general attitude problem as you can see from one or two blogs as well as a debacle over sheltered housing where vulnerable pensioners had to take their own Council to court (and won!)

I live in the Cricklewood part of Golders Green ward. We’ve seen the loss of Hendon Football Club because of the Council’s bloody-mindedness in selling metropolitan open land to developers (who have now left the site derelict as they’ve run out of cash). We’ve seen an unpopular £4.5 bn regeneration scheme for Brent Cross Cricklewood dumped on us despite local opposition.

As a cycling campaigner the current administration are also problematic for me. They do not see cycling a serious form transport in London, have actively removed cycle stands from town centres, have no regard for cyclists in road junction design (even where as it Staples Corner, it conflicts with the Conservative Mayor of London’s plans for cycle ‘superhighways’). Certain councillors have a policy of deleting emails from cyclists without reading them. Certainly I’ve found that if I complain about a pot hole as a motorist I get a speedy response, if I complain about a pot hole as a cyclist I get ignored. The outgoing Leader of the Council, Mike Freer, even told me on my radio show that he thought commuting by bicycle in London was basically “too dangerous” and that there was “nothing that could be done” to make it safer.

Golders Green ward is safely Tory-held as a result of the 2/3 of voters who live on the other side of the A41. Consequently Cricklewood gets neglected. Of our 3 incumbent Tory councillors I’ve only ever seen one locally – he seemed to genuinely campaign for local people but recently went AWOL in Australia (whilst continuing to draw expenses!). The other two are father and son, the sonfather having been a councillor for a very long time but I’ve never seen him here (he’s also the Cabinet Member for Planning…). So I’ll be voting for change in this ward. As it’s a safe seat I’ll be hedging my bets to maximise the chance of at least one Tory being ousted. My three votes will be going to Dorothy Badrick (Residents’ Association and long standing local campaigner), David Robinson (Labour, hard-working agent for our outgoing MP who I’m sure will be an excellent candidate) and Weng Leong Ang (Lib Dem, another active local campaigner!).

Elsewhere in the Borough I encourage others to vote for genuinely good hard-working councillors where they exist, and tactically for change otherwise, especially in the key marginal wards.

Barnet Council party leaders’ hustings – video

Following parliamentary hustings for Hendon and Finchley & Golders Green, the Barnet Muslim Forum organised a question time for the party group leaders on Barnet Council at Hendon Mosque last Tuesday (27 April 2010).

The video is now available online… just in time to give you a chance to review the party positions before going to the polls!

Question Time for Barnet Council Party Leaders at Hendon Mosque – 27 April 2010 from Mustafa Arif on Vimeo.

Participants: Lynn Hillan (Conservative, Leader of the Council), Barry Rawlings (Labour, Deputy Group Loader) and Jack Cohen (Liberal Democrat, Group Leader). Event chaired by Mustafa Arif.