Question 8 Councillor Kath McGuirk
Would the Cabinet Member confirm if there are any areas which benefit from a free initial period on pay and display in Barnet?
Answer by Councillor Brian ColemanThere are two areas that benefit from a free initial period of 30 minutes. The first is Mowbray Parade in Edgware HA 8 and the second is Hampden Square N14. No other such schemes are envisaged and I am reviewing why we have these two.
There is a big hole in the budget and here is another idea in how to fill it. Local traders will suffer further misery but I've got a permit that lets me park anywhere or I take a taxi at your expense.
Question 20 Councillor Alex Brodkin
Could the Leader advise if she will support the webcasting of council meetings, as well as a firm policy to enable the public to blog, tweet or otherwise record council meetings in future, and if not, why not?
Answer by Councillor Lynne Hillan, Leader of the CouncilThe decision not to allow filming in the Council Chamber was taken, not by this Administration, but by this Council. However, we are currently looking at the options and suggestions will be brought back to this Council for full debate.
A1. That's a trick question which I won't answer directly. I suppose that we will have to do what Eric Pickles MP says in the end but in the meantime we will just have to look stupid and then quietly allow it when no-one is looking as if we agreed all along what a good idea it is..
A2. We will spend £250,000 on a web broadcast system that doesn't work very well and for which we forgot to sign a DPR.
Question 22 Councillor Alan Schneiderman
Will the Leader confirm: a) what the latest position is regarding Barnet being granted priority status on frozen Icelandic deposits; b) what the financial risk is of not being granted priority status; and c) if the relevant risk reserve fully covers the Council in the event priority status is not granted?
Answer by Councillor Daniel Thomas
On 1st April 2011, the Icelandic courts upheld the priority status of UK Local Authority deposits. This decision is subject to appeal. The budget report suggested that the cost of non-priority
status would be approximately £14m and this is the sum that we are building up in the risk reserve for 2011/12.
That's £14m up the swanny that could have been spent on maintaining front line services.
Question 24 Councillor Alison Moore
Would the Cabinet Member confirm what the status is of the implementation of the new revenues and benefits system?
Answer by Councillor Daniel ThomasThe new system went live on 18.2.11, it then had to close down for another week in order to recast benefits and set up the 2011/12 billings etc. The system came back on line 14.3.11. We are working with the various partner organisations to clear the issues that inevitably occur with a complete change of systems.
Other Councils have managed to change their systems at short notice without great problems but this is OneBarnet where things are different ( and not better ). Your guess is as good as mine as to when all Council Tax bills will be correct.
Question 28 Councillor Claire Farrier
Would the Cabinet Member please confirm that there is an agreement with out of borough allotment holders, that they pay the same charge for allotments in Barnet as Barnet residents. Would he please confirm the date of this agreement, and that it has not been rescinded.
Answer by Councillor Brian ColemanThe new charges for allotments which will be in effect from the 1st April 2012 include an increased charge for non-Barnet residents. This in line with charges for other services in the borough where residents are charged less than non-residents. I think it is right and proper that Barnet Council tax payers should receive a better deal on allotments than those residents of other Boroughs whose authorities have often sold their allotments for development.
I have increased rents for residents from £6 to £17 per pole and for non-residents, who might just happen to have moved to Potters Bar to retire and kept the allotment they have worked on for 40 years, from £12 to £34 per pole. That will teach them not to be disloyal and move out of Barnet. This is OneBarnet you know. They should have put their name on the 5 year waiting list at their new abode 5 years ago when no-one wanted an allotment and before they knew they were moving.
Question 31 Councillor Alison Moore
Would the Cabinet Member confirm exactly how much money has been lost to the Council as a result of the failure to advertise the correct charges in statutory notices about parking charge increases?
Answer by Councillor Brian ColemanIt is estimated that £93,000 of income will not be achieved due to the delay. The service will need to recover this sum through other efficiencies during the coming year.
We will issue another 930 parking tickets during the year, but none of them to Councillors with their free permits for every zone.
Question 32 Councillor Kath McGuirk
Following the government announcement that Barnet will receive around £420,000 towards the pothole fund, will the Cabinet Member confirm that he will reduce the proposed parking charge increases in proportion?
Answer by Councillor Brian ColemanNo, because the Government’s grant on potholes ( four times greater than that given to us by the last Labour Government) is an entirely separate matter to the need to return the Special Parking Account to the budgeted surplus.
Brilliant I can stuff CPZ residents for extra money and get some of it from the government as well. Double bubble.
Question 39 Councillor Alison Moore
Will the Leader confirm that speaking rights for all councillors at Council will be maintained?
Answer by Councillor Lynne Hillan, Leader of the CouncilNo. The Special Committee (Constitution Review) is currently considering council procedure rules on the rights of speakers and we await their recommendations.
All Councillors are equal. Some are more equal than others. Oink. ( see Mrs Angry's and Mr Reasonable's blogs on this subject shortly. I have to confess that being in the pub and coming second in the quiz was possibly a better use of time than sitting though yet another council meeting this evening about the Constitution - and boy do you need a strong constitution for Barnet Council meetings )
Question 40 Councillor Alison Moore
Does the Cabinet Member’s publicly stated prejudice towards the private sector compromise the integrity of the options appraisal process in the One Barnet programme?
Answer by Councillor Robert Rams
Call the fire brigade as my pants seem to be on fire.
Yours frugally ( with tongue only slightly in cheek )