Last week Barnet Council's General Functions Committee met to decide on the location of polling places and polling stations. Video of the item is below.
After the meeting London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden, Andrew Dismore wrote on his website that he had written to the Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission asking him to intervene over what he described as a move by the Conservatives who were running scared over next year's General Election and were trying to make unfair advantage from making it harder for Labour voters to cast their ballots.
The letter Mr Dismore sent is below.
As of this afternoon the Electoral Commission said they were surprised that the letter was yet to arrive. We will keep you updated.
(Update 16 Nov - response from Conservatives at bottom)
- Nicky Gavron AM (Labour) (Chairman) @nickygavron who Chairs the London Assembly Planning Committee
- Cllr Alison Moore (Labour) (Vice Chairman) @alizonmoore Leader of Barnet Council's Labour Group
- Cllr Ross Houston (Labour) (Vice Chairman) @RossSHouston Barnet Labour Group Housing Spokesman
- Tony Clements (Labour), @tonyclements1 former policy advisor to John Healey, the last Labour Housing Minister and an editor of the Red Brick blog on social housing.
- Rabbi Danny Rich (Indepedent), @RabbiDannyRich Barnet resident and Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism.
- Rev'd Colin Smith (Independent), @colinasmith Barnet resident and senior Methodist Minister in the borough.
- Janet Solomons (Labour), (not on twitter) Barnet resident and former Social Care professional.
- Glyn Thomas (Not stated on website but according to here is Labour), @glynthomas1941 Barnet resident and Board Member of CDS Co-operatives - a group of housing co-ops.
- Bob Young (Independent), (not on twitter) public health and housing practitioner, Director of the Academy of Urbanism, former Director of Housing at City of Manchester and former Chief Executive of Newham's Local Space Housing Association.
More details are here. Six of the nine are Labour party members with three categorised as 'independent' by the Barnet Labour.
The first meeting will be held at 7pm-10pm on Thursday 20 November, at the Crown Moran Hotel, Cricklewood Broadway with Cllr Sarah Hayward, Leader of Camden Council as guest speaker.
Labour have also published details of further meetings and how evidence can be submitted to the Commission. The second and third meetings will be held a week apart on December 1 and 8 at a venue to be confirmed with further meetings. An interim report will be published in January 2015 with a final report is scheduled for September 2015.
Labour Leader Cllr Alison Moore said
I would like to thank all our Commissioners for agreeing to give up their time to work with us to find solutions to the housing crisis.
This year, for the first time in the history of the borough, lack of affordable housing was a top 3 issue in the residents' perception survey in Barnet, showing just how important an issue it has become right across our community.
There is a growing recognition that lack of affordable housing no longer affects just those on the lowest incomes.
In launching our housing commission and opening it up to take evidence not just from housing professionals but also from a range of other organisations and members of the community we want to start a real debate in Barnet about housing.
The public will be invited to submit written by email and Labour's website indicates that the Commission will take evidence from some local people. It is not explained how local interested parties can apply to be witnesses to the Commission, this may be it will be restricted to selected invited groups. Those not chosen in that way will have the opportunity to make oral representations through sharing a 30 minutes 'open mic' at each meeting.
We are awaiting a response from the Conservative Group.
Cllr Tom Davey, Conservative Housing spokesman and Chairman of the Housing Committee has responded to Labour's announcements. He told us:
I shall be watching Labour's Housing Commission with interest. Will they take the opportunity to listen to the real concerns of Barnet residents or will this be another exercise in listening to the same loud unrepresentative voices demanding ever higher public spending?
Labour have consistently accused the Conservatives in Barnet of not engaging properly with the public and yet this event has been shrouded in secrecy with details only emerging a few days beforehand. Those who haven't been hand chosen to give evidence by this Labour dominated quango will have to scramble to get a few minutes during an 'open mike' session at the beginning of each meeting. Is this what Labour thinks is proper public engagement?
It will be interesting what Cllr Sarah Hayward, the Labour Leader of Camden Council, has to say about affordable housing, given the recent article in the Ham and High, which pointed out there is currently no 'affordable housing' for sale in her borough and Camden is experiencing a 'brain drain' of young talent.
My invitation for this event must have got lost in the post (!) but I look forward to seeing the interim report in January although that does seem a rather ambitious deadline if there is to be any fresh thinking.
Last night Barnet Alliance (supported by Unite the Union and Unison) held a meeting in a Cricklewood hotel to discuss public housing.
Mixed amongst a few dozen Barnet people were an array of Labour politicians from across London... and Conservative Cllr Gabriel Rozenberg.
The Barnet Labour Party chose this event to announce when it's long vaunted 'Housing Commission' would meet. This flyer was circulated.
At the end of the meeting the Commission was explained by a Labour spokesman.
(The first announcement is about) The Housing Commision being run by the Labour Group on Barnet Council. It is your chance to formulate Labour Party policy in this Borough. We've agreed to listen to any ideas. So please come and look at the leaflet and please come and help shape policy of the opposition in this Borough. We're one seat away from taking control and the policy that we agree to will be our policy going forward.
No details have been released about the format of the meeting nor how the public will be able to engage and submit their ideas.