Hello everyone & welcome
I have had enough of Barnet Council and their profligacy.
I didn't use to be interested in local affairs. I just paid my Council Tax and got on with my life. That has all changed thanks to Barnet Council deciding to put the CPZ charges up by unreasonable amounts ( £40 for my car up to £100 p.a. and what are meant to be concessionary vouchers for visitors from £1 to £4 per visit; and what about next year - another 150% to 300% increase ? ). Now only about 5% of the residents of Barnet are in a CPZ and they are going to be milked for an extra £2.6 million. The other 95% won't pay any extra to park outside their homes or have visitors round. It hardly seems equitable to me.
I tried emailing the 3 local Councillors ( they are your friend said Cllr Rutter at the Chipping Barnet Residents' Forum last week - with friends like them you don't need enemies I reckon - although it did make me laugh ) about the increased costs and the budget setting process generally. One replied at length with what looked like a template reply to me blaming others, of course, but hey you can read some of it here.
Dear Mr Mustard,
Thank you for your email.
I appreciate you're unhappy with the budget setting. We are faced with this extremely sad and disappointing situation because the public finances are in dire straits.
As a nation, which is over £1.1 trillion in debt, we can't keep borrowing 25% of all we spend. The level of services expected by the public far outstrips the amount of money available to pay for those services.
We, as a Council, are trying to do more with fewer funds. But we either add 20% to the council tax in 2011, 8% in 2012 and 4% in 2012 to balance the existing budget or we make cuts to non statutory or ring-fenced services and increase charges to cover costs.
If we increase the council tax, as suggested above, then groups like the pensioners will suffer.
The penalty for not freezing the Council Tax this year is a reduction in grants from Central Government. Approximately 80% of Barnet Council expenditure is funded by Central Government grants and they decide what is ring-fenced. 70% of Barnet's budgets are ring-fenced and so cuts and increases must be made.
The costs or running the CPZs, which are installed at the request of the residents, is substantial:
Coded street signs
Painted street lines
Salaries for Parking Enforcement Officers to check cars are legally parked in the CPZ. The sanction of a £60 fine has led to a reduction in the number of fines, thereby reducing income, in recent years.
Council Overheads - Uniforms, Equipment, Travelling costs for the Parking Officers, Employers NI (12.8%), Head Office costs (HR and IT)
Please believe me when I say I'm as unhappy and disappointed about the situation as you are.
and more explanations here
Dear Mr Mustard,
You're absolutely right. The voters are unhappy, but what are the choices?
The country was rapidly heading toward a Greek/Irish style financial meltdown. The Government has borrowed £27,000 on behalf of every single person living in the UK. Government debt is still rising. Debts are still coming on-stream from contracts signed three years ago. The annual interest on UK National debt is almost the same amount as the NHS budget.
The Government has no option but to reduce Council grants.
The Borough of Barnet is facing tremendous statutory pressures. For example, in September 2010 Barnet had to find an extra 250+ school places above the annual norm for Year 1. That's over eight classes worth of teachers, teaching assistants and class rooms, which require electricity, maintenance and cleaning. This trend is likely to continue.
Without wishing to draw your invective, what would you suggest to balance the budget and keep everyone on-board?
I thought the reason we had 63 Councillors at a minimum allowance each of £10,597 was to balance the budget and keep everyone on-board. I must have been mistaken ? I do think that one Councillor per ward would be enough and look at all those allowances which could be saved ~ 42 * £10,597 = £445,074 + overheads.
So I didn't think it was my job to sort out the budget.
I have decided that it is my job to highlight Council spending in a clearer manner than the Council does, so my blog will see a succession of spending items which I think are excessive, or un-necessary and you can challenge your Councillors. Sadly I think you will find they know little about the Council's finances.
Here is the first question you could ask them.
Why are the CPZ & car parking charges due to go up by £2,600,000 in a year ( 2010-2011 ) at the same time that the Spending on Highways is going down by £1,500,000 and efficiency changes in Highways are planned of £864,000. On the other hand an extra £1,000,000 is needed for the Freedom Pass for the over 60's due to Tfl pulling out of the 5 year funding deal after 18 months. So even with that extra cost the anticipated spending decrease is £1,364,000 and yet our pockets are to be picked to the tune of £2,600,000. Why ? Please write to your Councillor and see what answer you get and feel free to tell me what it is.
If you are in a CPZ and want to protest against the increase in charges please visit the below website.