‘Budget airline’ council

David Cameron has said under a Conservative Government anything goes:

“Councils can do literally whatever they like, as long as it’s legal”.

Tory-run Barnet, the self-styled ‘Budget Airline Council’ can’t wait for a Conservative Government to rip up standards to allow its ‘no frills’ plans.

The plans agreed last year pledged the Conservative Council to look at all services from youth clubs to rubbish collection  to see where they can be axed or cut right back.  People instead will pay ‘top up’ charges to get a decent service.

One of the proposals they are trying to push through is that someone who has the money can jump in front of another resident and have their planning application heard on-site more quickly.

Barnet’s ‘no frills’ approach was going full steam ahead until massive public outcry and a High Court judgement against them forced them to back-track and put their plans on hold.  But now the new Tory Leader of Barnet Council has been lobbying David Cameron to change the law as soon as possible under a Tory Government.

As the Tory Leader Lynne Hillan of Barnet told The Times :

“Councils do have powers to impose some charges but there is no flexibility. We are now pressing the Tory leadership to introduce new laws if they win power to allow councils to implement their initiatives.”

As the former Leader of the Council (who introduced the plans) and Conservative PPC Mike Freer said residents will “pay extra for different levels of service” and as the council policy paper outlines,

“We need to be prepared… to see where there are opportunities for charging for services above and beyond basic provision.”

The Barnet Chief Executive explained just what this mean for service people rely on:

“We may actually decide that waste collection isn’t a core service, we’d really like that to be the case.”

It means hiking up charges as far as they can go, hitting middle-income families who need good local services but making them pay twice – the real face of today’s Conservatism. And it’s one thing to put up with budget airline service for a couple of hours but another everyday when you have to pay extra even for the very basics.

But neither Mike Freer nor Lynn Hillan have said exactly what the ‘basic level of service’ will be, despite repeated quizzing, leaving residents unclear exactly what they would get for their council tax and what would be extra.

The Tory Wandsworth Council Leader, Eddie Lister, has explained the Tory approach to charges in a Conservative pamphlet, saying they should be increased above inflation just to see what residents will bear.

The Southampton Leader has said he does not believe in free this or that like free swimming or free school meals.

While Tory Hammersmith says public housing makes a “risible return” and wants to raise rents forcing people to pay the full market level.

So much for Cameron’s Caring Conservatives.

Cllr Alison Moore, Leader Barnet Labour Group and PPC for Finchley & Golders Green

It’s not just Barnet.  Tory-led Wolverhampton is introducing a new policy where charges for its services like youth clubs, leisure centres or libraries must be increased to reflect the full cost of the service – so there won’t be a difference between using a council swimming pool and a private club.

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