Monday 15 June 2009

Lib Dem leader calls on Tories to stand up to Freer and save the wardens

In a last ditch attempt to save the warden service, Lib Dem leader Jack Cohen has appealed to the conscience of back bench Conservative councillors to support his attempt to force Mike Freer to reconsider plans which will decimate the service provided to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

Barnet’s cabinet decided last week to completely ignore the results of the public consultation which found overwhelmingly in favour of retaining the existing warden service, so Cllr Cohen has ‘called in’ the decision which means that the council cannot now go ahead with its plans until the Business Management Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committee have scrutinised the proposals.

Councillor Cohen has described the cabinet decision an “absolute sham” and “a put up job”. He says that Thursday’s meeting of the scrutiny sub-committee will be an opportunity to put cabinet members on the spot. “I will be asking searching questions and if I do not receive satisfactory responses I will be proposing than the decision to scrap the wardens is put on hold and that the Cabinet is requested to look at this again.”

Cllr Cohen added: “I will watching what the Conservative members of the scrutiny committee do on all of this. I have heard rumours of discontent amongst Tory back benches. Well this will be an opportunity for any caring Conservatives to put their heads above the parapet and back me in trying to stop the proposals going through.”

It is not just back bench councillors who are unhappy with the decision to scrap the warden service. Ordinary party members and activists simply cannot understand why Mike Freer is pursuing this reckless and ill conceived proposal. David Cameron has expended enormous time and energy re-branding the Conservative Party to shed its ‘nasty’ image, and all Freer has done is prove that the leopard has not changed its spots.

Like Gordon Brown, Mike Freer has no mandate to represent the people he supposedly leads, and the Conservative council has no mandate to introduce these cuts. Conservative members of the sub-committee seeking re-election in 2010 need to think very carefully as to whether they will simply rubber stamp Freer’s proposals or if they will instead stand up and represent the people who have demanded that the warden service be retained in its present form.

Mike Freer will not be holding your hand on the campaign trail next May. Like his political soul mate Gordon Brown, he will willingly dump on you from a great height if it enhances his own political career. Whilst the Conservatives are ahead in the national polls, history has shown time and time again that voters will punish politicians who try and push through unpopular and unnecessary policies. If you are a Conservative councillor, do you really want to take that risk?

Hattip to vickim57 for the above photo.

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