Thursday 14 May 2009

Taxpayers’ money for Coleman but not for sports club

The Barnet Times has reported that Mill Hill Village Sports Club, which has served the community for 140 years is facing closure because the short sighted money grabbers at Barnet Council want to increase the club’s rent from £7,400 to £13,500 a year.

It seems incredible that £10,000 can be found to pay Brian Coleman’s legal fees, even though the council’s insurers were willing to provide cover at no cost to the taxpayer, but money cannot be found to improve the health of the community. It really does prove that Mike Freer’s recent letter to residents about NHS changes was nothing more than an electioneering gimmick.

Finding money to pay for wide screen televisions for chief officers is similarly not a problem. Where is this council’s sense of priority?

Full marks to Conservative councillor John Hart who has the good sense to appreciate the benefit to the community of retaining the sports club, but he is fighting an uphill battle to get the council to change its mind.

Under the law, the council is required to obtain best value for its assets, but exceptions are permitted - especially with short term leases. The council could easily justify subsidising the rent in view of the clear and obvious social and health benefits the sports club brings to the community.

But if the council is really that strapped for cash, instead of putting the rent up, why don’t all 63 councillors simply take £100 less in their annual allowance? That would cover the bill.

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