Sunday, 15 April 2018

Mill Hill Focus #26 - Meet your local election candidates this Wednesday + other latest local news

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It's a dogs life in Mill Hill Broadway
Welcome to the 26th edition of our weekly newsletter for the Mill Hill Community. Published every Sunday, we bring all the latest news stories, events and other information for people living in and around Mill Hill. Do you want to see A Better Mill Hill? Do you want to contribute to making our area nicer, cleaner, greener, more friendly, with a better sense of local community?

The Focus team of Donna Pickup, Richard Logue and Roger Tichborne are all local residents, involved with the community and local schools. If you want to stay in touch with us and know what we are doing

Meet your local election candidates this Wednesday at 7.30pm

This Wednesday at 7.30pm, St Michael and All Angels Church are holding election hustings at Hartley Hall. This will give the voters in Mill Hill a chance to grill the candidates and find out what each party is proposing and ask questions about the issues that concern you. Please come along and find out what the parties have to offer and particpate in local democracy.
Candidates from all parties have been invited.

Today we feature a few local issues that you may wish to consider asking about.

The Barnet Council bin collection fiasco

If you ask just about anyone in Mill Hill to name a service which is provided by the local council. the first thing they will say is "empty my bins".  Over the past few months, bin collections have become a hot topic. The council are experiencing major issues with the bin collection service.  This is now affecting weekly collections. In response to criticism on twitter, we saw a rather bizarre message on  from one of our own Conservative councillors criticising the bin collection service his administration runs.

The Mill Hill focus team did some digging. It appears that some residents have not been having their bins emptied by the council. The cause appears to be "operational issues". Barnet blogger John Dix challenged Councillor Longstaff  on this "David, the council website says difficulties are as a result of vital works at the depot, the brand new depot which Capita designed & project managed. Stop trying to smear hard working staff  when the blame clearly lies elsewhere". The whole issue of weekly bin collections is becoming a rather hot potato for the administration. In the budget passed by Barnet Council, there was a provision from the administration to end weekly bin collections.

Relevant passage in Barnet Council Budget 2018

Given that the council is clearly under financial pressure and is tied into the Capita contract, it would appear that despite claims in Conservative election leaflets, they are actually planning to end the weekly service. Local Barnet UNISON branch secretary suggested that cuts to the workforce, passed by the administration in December have compounded the problems. The focus team would be interested to know if your bin was not emptied this week. Why not send us a Tweet at @ABetterMillHill  if this has affected you?

Pothole problems

Regular Focus readers will know that we are taking a keen interest in the plague of potholes which is affecting Mill Hill. Readers will be interested to know that our research as to why Mill Hill's roads have become like the surface of the moon. As we previously stated, the main cause of the awful state of roads are the shoddy repairs to potholes. Until 2014, the council employed staff to inspect road repairs before invoices were paid.


 As a "cost cutting measure", the council got rid of these staff members and brought in a system of self certification, where the contractors sign off their own work before being paid. Further investigations and off the record talks with an expert on contracting and civil engineering yesterday explained that there are other factors which mean Barnet have some of the worst roads in London. The Road Traffic act gives local authorities the power to fine contractors and utilities that do shoddy work on the Highway. The act also gives local residents the power to force local authorities to fix roads properly. The Mill Hill Lib Dems have made a commitment to bring back proper quality control and start using these powers to get work done properly. Mill Hill Lib Dems policy is to stop throwing good money after bad on shoddy repairs and fix things properly. We believe that this will save money and make roads better. It is unclear what the position of the local Labour party is on this matter. The Conservatives have claimed that the problem is in hand and they are repairing 40 potholes a week across the Borough and spending £50 million.

Green Belt loss & overdevelopment

The Green belt and conservation area are threatened as never before. There are a whole host of high profile developments being planned that threaten the green belt and could see significant loss of greenspace.

Barnet Council has allowed significant overdevelopment in Mill Hill and this has resulted in GP practices being oversubscribed. Many residents complain that they can't get through to doctors to book appointments. The only people who benefit are developers, who are making huge profits.

A major cause for concern is that Conservative administration and the Labour Mayor are at loggerheads, with the Council even passing a partisan motion declaring the Mayor of London an enemy of the people, as he reduced car parking spaces and increased social housing at the NIMR development. The Mill Lib Dems are proposing launching a public enquiry into overdevelopment, bringing together the Mayor and Council to draw up a consensual approach where all parties work together, for a better Mill Hill.

Libraries

Mill Hill Library has been transformed into a partnership library, run by a local community charity. Lib Dem policy is to identify funding sources to increase opening hours and improve services. Lib Dem candidate Richard Logue has been one of the key players setting up the charity to save the Library. We have been asked how we propose to fund improvements. We believe that there is serious mismanagement of contractors and that Barnet Council is paying through the nose for services. Respected local commentator John Dix has identified that the council is giving over £20 million of identified savings straight into the pockets of Capita under a very ill thought out contract. We believe this money would be better spent on services for residents such as better library provision. We will listen to experts like John Dix and identify real savings that can be used for the benefit of residents.


We need councillors who fight for residents not the shareholders of council contractors.

Parks and Green Spaces

Barnet Council has been neglecting our parks and open spaces. We have tweeted countless pictures of overflowing bins, badly maintained signage, blocked drains in the park underpass etc. The Mill Hill Lib Dems will ensure that the council ends this neglect.



The Barnet Conservative administration claim they consult on "improvements". Have you been consulted?

Crime and policing

Anyone who attended the meeting in January, organised to address fears about policing following the tragic death of Mr Patel in the Broadway will know that many residents are very concerned about crime. The Evening Standard listed Mill Hill as one of the top five burglary hotspots in London. We believe that we need more officers on the beat. We support the Mayor of London's initiative to put more officers on the beat, that the Conservative administration rejected. We will also work with the Safer Neighbourhood team to see if we can develop a better strategy of addressing vandalism and anti social behaviour.

Your concerns?

What we really want to hear are your concerns and issues. Events such as the hustings are a great opportunity to get issues on the agenda.


Other Mill Hill News

Mill Hill Jazz Club

After the hustings, why not adjourn to Mill Hill Jazz Club for a drink and some excellent music

Pocket Park Opening

This week we saw the first of the events planned for the new Pocket Park in Brokenhurst Gardens/Mill Hill Broadway. Planters and Street furniture has been delivered. We had a glorious day yesterday for the events. Here are a selection of tweets showing the fun!




Bobs Cafe in Mill Hill is now open!


Another great performance from Sarries!



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