Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Conservative plans for more school places delayed by Labour

During the general election campaign, Labour politicians seriously misjudged the public mood locally and nationally.  At their peril, they talked down the economic recovery.  They attacked measures to help ordinary and aspirational families and failed to admit they spent too much in the Blair/Brown years.  They also failed to offer a credible alternative to a successful Conservative-led government.
 
Locally, Labour are still churning out the same views that lost them the election, as demonstrated at the town hall last night.
 
At the 'ARG' committee, we debated what sort of new homes we should be building in Barnet. Labour seemed obsessed with one tenure: social rented.  Affordable homes are crucial in helping to meet housing need and Barnet council has overseen a net increase of 1,400 such homes.  But to focus solely on social rented simply ignores the aspirations of many residents to own their home as expressed in numerous housing surveys.  Barnet Conservatives understand this. Instead of trapping people in a social rented tenure, our regeneration schemes are introducing an element of shared ownership.  It's always been a good way of helping people take the step from renting to owning and it's needed more than ever before.
 
Barnet Labour and their 'radical left' friends have accused us of 'social cleansing', however when I look out of my window over what used to be the Stonegrove Estate, I see mixed, good quality housing and a mixed community. The ghetto of deprivation and decaying, depressing, unattractive architectural mistakes of the past are almost gone.  Labour talk of social cleansing yet they're blind to the irony of their recent proposal for 100% affordable housing on one development.  Would that proposal have brought about a mixed community?  I doubt it very much. 
 
Londoners need homes and Barnet, at least, is building them.  Surely, it should naturally follow that we need to build new schools?  Barnet is also doing well on this; we've set aside tens of £millions to expand existing schools and supported the founding of free schools and academies. 
 
Labour, of course, aren't pleased with this.  They falsely claim we're not providing the necessary infrastructure to support regeneration while wilfully delaying the building of a badly needed primary school in a Labour ward.

Last night, Labour councillors used a loophole to defer a 'land decision' so far into the future that the start of the next academic year will be missed. Over forty local children due to attend the Watling Park Academy are now in limbo.  The decision to build the school was made two years ago after going through the democratic process.  It was on this technical committee report that Labour have based their strange and poorly timed attack on a new free school.

I say it's strange because their reasons stretched to unenforceable covenants, wanting more time for debate and that ward councillors weren't present.  The covenant issue has been dealt with and is not a risk to a new school, all councillors know there's less time for debate when decisions are referred and surely one of the three Burnt Oak councillors could have attended the committee last night, if they really wanted to? 
 
 
Watching the Labour councillors, I could see their hearts weren't in these straw clutching objections.  It seemed they were under orders from the main objector, Andrew Dismore, who has a second home in close vicinity to the new school site.  Dismore is a hypocrite.  He's complained about 'lack of infrastucture' in the past, but when it comes to having a new school in his back yard he's suddenly anti-infrastructure.
 
Barnet Labour are a strange, out-of-touch group.  They simply don't get the needs and aspirations of Barnet residents and democracy here is all the worse for it.  Not only are they content to lose elections as a result of their policies and campaigns, they're willing to see the education of 40 children disturbed for reasons not fully apparent. Fortunately, they only have the power to delay, and its debatable as to whether they deserve that. Thank goodness they don't have the power to actually make decisions.

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