An open letter to Councillor Gordon from the Barnet Bloggers.
Dear Councillor Gordon,
A letter was published last week in the Press group of newspapers from you concerning the Barnet Alliance for Public Services residents’ forum held on Tuesday 4th October.
We must correct a factual inaccuracy in your letter. The forum was not "private", it was open to all. All Barnet councillors were invited and would have been welcome to attend.
You state that Barnet Council’s own residents’ forums are not in any way hampered by the new rules governing them. Is this your opinion, we wonder, or have you asked the residents who attend? We think they would have a different view.
You state that the forums are "marred occasionally by the irresponsible actions of anti-council agitators". We ask you to withdraw this offensive remark. The undersigned have all attended numerous residents’ forums and have never witnessed an "anti-council agitator".
We have witnessed many local residents who disagree with the policies of the current administration, and we believe their comments are born out of deep concern for the direction of the Council and cannot be in any way construed as "anti-council".
We are also concerned by the description you give of the appropriate way to deal with residents and taxpayers. The phrase "with firm chairmanship, those individuals are fairly swiftly subdued" has highly oppressive overtones and clearly implies that residents are not welcome to express views at odds with the chair.
We would like to remind you, Cllr Gordon, that the forums exist for residents’ benefit, not for that of the chair.
We would also like to remind you of the circumstances in which you became chair, when it became necessary to instigate an investigation into the behaviour of the previous Conservative incumbent.
We remind you that Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has praised the concerned citizens of Barnet for their efforts in exposing the shambles that your administration allowed to develop in the Council’s purchasing department.
We are pleased that you have drawn attention to the next set of Council residents’ forums. We look forward to the opportunity to discuss your comments with you and your colleagues at these events.
As a footnote, I would add that I, along with several other Barnet Bloggers, attended the meeting where the rules on Residents Forums were changed. The Conservative group ignored the independent research the council commissioned; they ignored represntations from the public and they ignore the options put forward by the council officers. Sadly we have no official record of this meeting as the Council refuses to publish minutes of meetings that propose changes to the constitution.