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2014-12-22

'The Guardian' letters: Defending Barnet Council, and Barnet's Corrupt Brent Cross Planning Consent



• Aside from a feeling that Aditya Chakrabortty seems stuck on a vision of local government that harps back to the 1970s, I have three main issues with his piece. One is his binary view of commissioning, in-house or outsourced. In truth, we have a varied mix of providers, some in-house, some charities, some private-sector and some joint ventures. All are united by a clear definition of the service outcome and a drive to secure value for taxpayers.

Second is his failure to understand that by commissioning services we create contracts based on the quality of service residents receive. Capita’s response to losing some calls was to commission extra phone lines. It now answers more calls than ever, with a higher satisfaction rating than the in-house service.

Thirdly, Chakrabortty seems dismissive of saving of £1m a month. Every penny we save on human resources is money we have for social care or child protection. I know which Barnet residents want us to prioritise. This may be why 53% of residents were satisfied with the council in 2010 and 75% are now.
Cllr Daniel Thomas [link to 'Barnet Eye']
Deputy leader, London borough of Barnet




• Due mention should also be made of Barnet’s obsession with increasing its population, although only with the right sort of people that consolidate the political structure of the borough. But for transport, the result is unsustainable congestion from more and more cars. The borough’s cabinet has a “roads, roads, roads and roads” transport policy, to match those aspirations. And Barnet has now granted the UK’s most remarkable planning consent, at Brent Cross on the North Circular Road.

Barnet expects over 29,000 extra cars a day in the Brent Cross area, and the shopping centre expects wealthy new shoppers arriving overwhelmingly by car, even though the transport assessment claims it will increasingly be by bus. That fiction will be obvious only after the shopping centre has opened and the developer has moved on.

All is not lost though, because the borough has a shortlist of new developers, and the cabinet accepted a report that the winner will be announced at a property exhibition in the south of France next spring. Apparently, this is the way that local government now works, the modern way.
John Cox
London

Brent & Kilburn Times, Barnet Times and Barnet Press, Feb 2014
Louis XVI at his court in Versailles, 1789: "All is going splendidly!"


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