From the BAPS North Finchley hustings 10 April 2014
Video: Watch BAPS try to explain why people could vote Labour even though they don't share key policies
Earlier on BAPS had made it clear that they would be content for their supporters to vote Green, LibDem or Labour in the May elections. Although their leaflet only singled out the Conservatives they also hand out 'don't vote UKIP leaflets'.
However whilst the LibDems and Greens have commited to a fair chunk of BAPS core end One Barnet / no cuts / no privatisation platform, as spelled out in their new policy document, Labour resolutely haven't and certainly did not in their manfesto pledges. So our Editor posed the question to BAPS supremo Barbara Jacobson how can you be happy to 'endorse' Labour as a safe party to vote for when your positions are so far apart?
Here is the rather tetchy and opaque response
In a biting and satirical front page the Times Series has hit the nail on the head over the lamentable state of political discourse in Barnet this past week (read full paper here)
All of us at Bugle Towers, are geared up and are still hoping to be able to scrutinise the parties and explain to our readers what a vote for each of them would mean have. However we have been frustrated from our mission by a stream of stories that, we feel, add little to the discourse.
Our countdown timer on the right shows there are just over 34 days until the election, for those voting by post the campaign is even shorter. In less than a week the candidates will be announced.
Isn't it about time that the main parties starting talking to voters in the own language and addressing their concerns about the Council?
Surely the Conservatives need to up their game and be confident to put their record of cutting waste from the budget, recently lowering taxes and persuading the voters that their flagship policy of seeking alternate providers for key Council services is the best way to deal with the austerity and the upcoming funding crisis?
And don't the Labour Party have a duty to explain clearly to the voters how an administration led by them would actually be different to now? We have had glossy flyers a plenty with buzzword bingo New Labour phrases but very little in the way of firm policy. What would they do on day one? Those few hard proposals that have made it into the light have often shown to be lacking.
We don't expect much in the way of policy from UKIP, LibDems, Greens or others but would be nice to be surprised.
So hurrah for the Times in cheekily making this very serious point. Hopefully things will improve and we'll get some proper campaigning on the issues.
Over the weekend we exposed what we felt was the defective nature of the imprint on the rear of the Barnet Alliance's 'Anyone but Conservative' leaflet. We wrote:
The Bugle wonders if that is the correct imprint for non party campaigner literature delivered during the campaign period. Would be a terrible waste if they needed to be pulped and reprinted. Hopefully we're wrong and they have it right.
Then, to be helpful, we published the relevant guidance from the electoral commission.
Below is the new leaflet with the 'lawful' imprint but has it resolved the problem?
The Bugle is unsure if this imprint actually solves the possible defect in the original version. There is still no individual named as the promoter and no actual address for the promoter, just a c/o address. There's no address that an interested party can go to find the person whose leaflet this actually is quickly which is the purpose for an imprint. Again, we hope we are wrong in our fears and stand to be corrected.
14 April 2014: In one of their first pledges of the election campaign, the Conservatives have promised to open an new car park in West Hendon and offer 2 hours free parking. Currently the site is disused but a replacement amenity for young people will be provided.
Conservative Environment spokesman Cllr Dean Cohen said:
I am delighted to be able to announce that we propose to convert the Ball Park in West Hendon into a public car park offering 2 hours free parking. This will increase parking capacity for the town centre and boost local trade.
The plan will also be a way of bringing the largely redundant Ball Park back into use. Although it has not been used for a long time, it is important that there is local amenity for young people. Therefore the proposals are on the proviso that, by working alongside regeneration and highways officers, we can find an alternative site for recreation in the area.
This is part of our programme of examining each area and developing local solutions to meet the needs of that particular community.
Conservative candidate for West Hendon, Councillor Ansuya Sodha said in response to the proposals
This is brilliant news for West Hendon and shows that Barnet’s Conservatives are delivering for local people. Labour totally neglected West Hendon in their budget amendment, with no funding for any free parking here. Now we have 15 minutes in the bus lane between 10am and 4pm and could be set to enjoy 2 hours free in the Ball Park. New recreation facilities would make this plan a win-win for West Hendon.
We are awaiting a response from the Labour Party.
Update 8.15pm 17 April 2014. Despite two emails the Labour Party have made it clear through a back channel that they are not going to make any response or give their side. We are unable to add anything further than
The Barnet Labour Party refused to comment
You will have to draw your own conclusion as to how this fits with their recently issued pledge "We will be accountable". Will that apply to some people in some circumstance?
An open letter written to the Editor of the Times Series by Reuben Thompstone, Barnet Conservatives Education, Children and Families spokesman
I was surprised to read your article outlining the opposition apparent from the Labour party’s local council leader and parliamentary candidates with respect to the reduction in funding for short breaks at Mapledown School. My surprise stems from the fact that the Labour Group on Council put forward an alternative budget this year which mirrored precisely these reductions in funding despite being given the opportunity to participate in the consultation in this matter last year where not a word was heard from Cllr Moore or any of her colleagues.
This funding formula was temporary and as central government has now closed this funding stream, we are pleased that we were able to retain a significant service locally with the close support of Headteacher Steve Carroll and in consultation with local parents. Some reporting appears to mislead, to clarify, the school’s budget (through the dedicated schools grant) is and remains protected. Furthermore, with over £100,000 in Mapledown School’s reserve account, it is for the school to determine how best to use their resources for those they serve.
Perhaps the Labour group might work out how they could show they are ready to lead, instead of standing on the sidelines throwing stones. Instead, they appear determined to show that opposition is where they belong nationally and locally, as they continue to be part of the problem and not the solution.