Friday 19 June 2009

Too Frit To Save The Wardens!

The last ditch attempt by Barnet LibDems to save the warden service sadly failed last night due to the cowardly actions of Conservative councillors on the Management Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committee.

Cllr Jack Cohen, the LibDem leader, questioned Cabinet Member for Community Services Richard Cornelius over the cuts which will leave vulnerable sheltered residents without the presence of a warden that most of them have come to rely on.

Cllr Cornelius admitted that not one single member of the cabinet had met with or even spoken to any residents in sheltered housing during the consultation process, despite being invited to do so. Asked why this was the case, Cllr Cornelius said: “It would have been too upsetting.”

Cllr Jack Cohen expressed his disbelief: “It is quite clear they were frightened, scared stiff of facing up to their responsibilities. Shame on all of them I say.” As the former Member of Parliament for Finchley would have put it, they were frit.

When Cllr Cohen’s motion to refer the decision back to cabinet was put to the vote, Conservative Councillors Wendy Prentice, Bridget Perry, Dean Cohen and Daniel Webb (pictured left to right below) decided to do Mike Freer’s dirty work and opposed it, rather than standing up for the residents who elected them. Cllr Joan Scannell abstained from voting.

The three Labour councillors present voted with Jack Cohen meaning that the result was a tie. Chairman Wendy Prentice then used her casting vote to defeat Cllr Cohen’s motion, effectively confining the Sheltered Housing Warden Scheme to the scrap heap.

Cllr Jack Cohen said: “This shows the Tories in their true colours. Not one of them asked any questions. They had the chance to stand up an be counted and they blew it. Tonight has been a bad day for democracy in Barnet and bad news for our residents in sheltered housing.”

Despite our political differences, Not The Barnet Times and Rog T’s The Barnet Eye have both argued strongly against the warden cuts. This is not an issue of left or right, but one of right and wrong and the council is simply wrong to pursue these wicked cuts when the public have stated quite clearly that they want the existing service retained.

Wendy Prentice and Bridget Perry are both High Barnet Councillors where only a small swing to the LibDems will throw them out of office. Labour only need an extra 30 votes in Underhill to dislodge Daniel Webb. If any of these three Conservative councillors lose their seats next year, they will have only themselves to blame.

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