Thursday, 22 March 2012

East Barnet Car Park - What did our Councillors vote for

On Tuesday evening, the East Barnet Residents association held a meeting at which the introduction of charging at East Barnet car park in Church Hill Road was discussed. The Barnet Bugle filmed the proceedings and the video can be seen here.

Cllr Rams states quite clearly on the video that he did not vote for these proposals but that he voted for a ‘consultation’. However, when he was repeatedly challenged on this by former Councillor Dan Hope of the Barnet Bugle and Cllr Pauline Coakley-Webb, Cllr Rams seemed somewhat reluctant to give a straight answer.

As I understand the situation, based on the documents published on the Council's website, Cllr Rams did indeed vote for a consultation on the budget proposals - which included the introduction of charges to Church Hill Road Car Park at the Cabinet meeting of 3 November 2011.

HOWEVER, at the Cabinet Committee meeting on 20 February 2012 it is is quite clear:
"The Cabinet received the Corporate Plan, Budget, Council Tax and Medium Term Financial Strategy proposals for the period from 2012/13 to 2014/15" (which included the introduction of charging to the Church Hill Road car park) "and RECOMMENDED them to Council for adoption".

Then on Tuesday 6 March at the full Council meeting the Council agreed item 4.1 where it "Recommends budget proposals for 2012/13 to 2014/15 for approval". Indeed that report set out the very clear details of the consultation that had taken place.
I would be grateful if Cllr Rams could point out to me where, at either the cabinet meeting of 20 February or Council meeting on 6 March, he voted for a 'consultation' or expressed any concern whatsoever about the introduction of charges. Residents should be clear as to what is the truth in this situation and I would be grateful if Cllr Rams could clarify the facts. If Cllr Rams and his Cabinet colleague Cllr Joanna Tambourides failed to stop this proposal at two Cabinet meetings and at the full council meeting, why did they wait until the statutory notice signs were erected before starting a ‘consultation’. It has been suggested to me that, as a non cabinet member, Cllr Evangeli had no power to go against the party line when this was discussed at Council so that may let him off the hook. It does however call into question the point of having councillors if they are unable to represent the views of their ward members.

A cynic might suspect that Cllr Rams will manage to stop the introduction of these charges and will then claim that he is the hero of the hour at the same time overlooking the fact that he in fact voted for the proposal in the first place. I wonder if East Barnet residents will share that cynicism?


  1. I recall that you were at that Council meeting Mr Reasonable and I think that the Barnet Eye filmed it until his camera ran out of film or battery or both. It was the meeting at which I asked my first ever question so I was there.

    There were over 30 public questions that day many of them about the Friern Barnet library.

    Battering Rams about FB library was the order of the evening and so he was probably too tired to defend the car park charges. O=When the council website is working again you will be able to dowload a pdf of the evening's decisions.

    Rams did not query the budget or vote against it. As usual at Cabinet there was an unseemly rush to Agree everything.

  2. I was there too, and and have been at many meetings where such decisions are simply agreed with no debate.

    Backbench Tory councillors rarely, if ever, challenge any issue, large or small, partly out of cowardice, and often due to lazinesss - tory councillors who are committee members laugh at the idea that bloggers and other residents inform themselves by reading the reports, and it is clear that most councillors cannot be bothered properly to inform themselves about the policies and actions they are about to endorse.

    It is absolutely ridiculous for Cllr Rams to try to disassociate himself from the Cabinet decision making process at such a belated point. With his position as a Cabinet member comes a duty to take informed decisions, and then accept responsibility for the policies he has agreed. To try to distance himself from an unpopular decision on NIMBYist grounds is pathetic and I really do not think the residents of East Barnet are quite so naive as to be duped in this way.

  3. I have only recently started to attend council meetings and have been stunned by the decadence and arrogance as issue after issue are just waved through without even a cursory debate save for the occasional "would the cabinet agree with me that we are really fantastic and Labour is to blame for absolutely everything bad or unpopular?" followed by bloated hurumphing.
    What is the point of the council?
    I stopped my involvement with the Save Friern Barnet Library group once I realised that the decision to close the library was nothing to do with improving services (by cutting services??), nothing to do with pressures on budgets, nothing to do with any pragmatic reasoning whatsoever - it was simple Tory ideology. “CUT, CUT, SLASH, SLASH, SELL, SELL, if it doesn’t make a profit it’s an abomination”. Bless him, Ram's parades himself around as the man prepared to take the hard decisions but in truth it had nothing to do with him. He is told to CUT so he picks a Labour ward or two and punishes them - no great loss there.
    I must say I find it amusing that he has unwittingly done a massive shit on his own doorstep due to his witless slavitude to Tory dogma passing every policy he's told to nod through. What now of his little dreams that one day him being a real politician with real power.
    I'm tired of being angry. I know that some Tory councillors took the job for the genuine and sincere reasons of serving the community they care about, but not the cabinet they are demonstrably contemptuous of the people of Barnet. So I say this to those councillors with heart: resign. If you resign we promise to put up non-partisan independent candidate with a solemn pledge to resign as soon as the current administration is overturned. Interested? Email us, in confidence, on I am holding my breath.
    Love Barnet