Saturday 25 December 2010

Who is running Barnet Council in the snow

Sent: Friday, December 24, 2010 4:31 PM
Subject: Out of Office AutoReply: Urgent : Gritting of roads in Barnet

I am on Annual Leave returning in the New Year on Tuesday 4th January.
Andrew Travers (Deputy CE) is deputising for me. For any urgent items please contact the Executive Office on 0208 359 7001.

Nick Walkley
Chief Executive


Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, December 17, 2010 6:38 PM
Subject: Out of Office AutoReply: Extremely Urgent : Library consultation

I am currently on leave until 5 January 2011 .   Please contact the Deputy Leader, Cllr Andrew Harper for anything urgent, em:  For Brunswick Park Ward issues, please contact my colleagues, either Cllr Andreas Tambourides on 0208 368 5417 or Cllr Lisa Rutter on 07956 858913.  Otherwise I will deal with your message when I return.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

My reply to Robert Rams re libraries

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, December 17, 2010 6:38 PM
Subject: Re: Extremely Urgent : Library consultation

Dear Councillor Rams,
As the co-ordinator of a campaign to preserve the libarary service in Barnet, a campaign which as received national TV and press coverage and been widely recognised as a "model" campaign, I feel entitled to point out a few facts. Firstly thousands of people have signed up to support the petition. As the spokesperson for a huge number of Barnet residents, I would have thought that you would have realised that this makes me a representative stakeholder in this process. I have spoken with thousands of ordinary people in th course of the campaign as well as to national press and the BBC. Now it may be that in Barnet, citizen participation is not encouraged, but I personally doubt that this will improve the quality of decisionmaking.
As to your other comment. You initially stated that you did not recognise your plans in the wording of the petition. I specifically asked you which parts of the petition were incorrect. It is a very simple and straightforward question, but you are clearly unable or unwilling to answer it, which implies that you accept that the assumptions drawn about your review are correct.
I find your comments about the good job done by your predecessors rather strange. Are you claiming that because previous Conservatives did a good job, you should be able to destroy the Library service? Normally a consultation works by someone saying "We intend to do this, please give us your views on our plans". In the case of Barnet, you are saying "fill in a blatently rigged questionairre and then we'll make a decision, excluding everyone else, behind closed doors, and you can wait till the decisions been made to comment". That is not a constructive consulation, that is called a stitch up. Your comments about "you want services to be unchanged" rather give the game away. It is not the services which require changing, it is how they are managed and delivered. Barnet is top heavy. Barnet spends a fortune on consultants who deliver nothing except reports recommending more reports. Barnet spends millions rectifying badly drawn up contracts with suppliers. These are areas which are ripe for savings. Sadly these are areas which Barnet completely ignore. Your colleague Matthew Offord confirmed to me a couple of years ago that 15% of management in Barnet Council deliver nothing. It is clear from your own accounts that this number has gone up steeply since Matthew made the comment. If you want to change something and save money, change this.
I launched the library petition to try and prevent you from making a bad decision and to give you ammunition with which to preserve the service. It is clear that when you actually announce cuts, a far larger campaign will kick off and much damage will be done to your standing. I would strongly suggest that you heed the sentiments of the petition and read some of the comments on the on-line version. It is not too late to change tack and show that you are receptive to the views of the ordinary people. I may add that with regards to the petition, we've made a policy of running stalls in Conservative wards (Mill Hill, Finchley, High Barnet, Edgware and your own ward East Barnet). We chose these areas specifically for this reason. We wanted to ensure that the vast majority of people we engaged with were Conservative supporters, as we felt these people would be most likely to help you see sense. I must report that we received a very warm welcome and many of your supporters were alarmed by your comments and plans. I caution you that you ignore your own grassroots at your peril.
You also claimed that it would be illegal for a councillor to receive the petition. I asked for clarification of why. You have not yet provided this. Please could you do this as a matter of urgency.
Have a pleasant weekend
Roger M. Tichborne
Coordinator of the Save Barnet Libraries Campaign.

Friday 17 December 2010

Consultation - Robert Rams Style

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, December 17, 2010 9:44 AM
Subject: RE: Extremely Urgent : Library consultation

Mr Tichborne,
There are no plans at the moment as we are carrying out a review of our service. You will just have to wait, like everyone else, until we have looked at all the data - how best we decide to take our library service forward. We have been clear that, given the reduction in the council’s income, libraries will have to cope with a smaller budget – as will other council services.
But while other boroughs are proposing to provide less of their current service, we are looking at ways of improving ours. The aim of our review is to provide a service that meets the needs of our residents. It does not necessarily mean doing exactly the same thing year after year and ignoring social trends or changes in how our residents want to use our services. Over the past few years we have bucked a national trend of declining visitor number because we have not been afraid to innovate with new services such as e-books or support for reading groups.
It seems to me you want services to be unchanged. I want them to be better.
And can I remind you again that you can make a full comment on how you think library service can develop, at
All the best
Cllr Rams

Thursday 16 December 2010

Libraries protest - Robert Rams response + Our response

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, December 16, 2010 7:51 PM
Subject: Re: Extremely Urgent : Library consultation

Dear Councillor Rams
Thank you for your response. I am sorry to that the email address you provided to me bounced back from your email gateway. Please can you provide an alternative means of contacting Aysen.Girlti. I have made enquiries through my contacts at Barnet Council, but I would appreciate it if you would validate the email address. I will make arrangements to hand over the petition as and when I get a contact that works.
With regards to the petition - Th wording is as follows :-
We the Undersigned, are totally opposed to the closure, sell off or downgrading of the Library service in the London Borough of Barnet.

We believe that Libraries are a vital part of the Borough and recognise the importance of having trained Libraries run by trained librarians. We believe that it is vital to have "quiet space" for students to study.

We believe that closure of the service would cause untold damage to the citizens of Barnet and is totally opposed by the vast majority of the population.
From your email below, you state that you "do not recognise the plans". Please can you confirm that the following are excluded from your plans
1. Closure of libraries.
2. The selling off of Library building freeholds
3. The downgrading of facilities whithin libraries
4. Plans to make trained librarians redundant
If you can confirm that all of these have been specifically ruled out as part of your review, I will be most pleased to print a full clarification. In the event that these are part of the plan, then I would ask that you clarify why you don't recognise them from the petition. I would be more than happy to explain the exact meaning of the petition in person to you, should you feel that the wording is unclear.
Please can you as a matter of urgency inform me of the "council bylaws" which prohibit the handing of petitions to councillors or members of the cabinet. I have copied the Jeff Lustig into this email, as maybe he can be helpful in explaining why it is unlawful to present petitions to Councillors.
Roger Tichborne
Coordinator of the Save Barnet Libraries Campaign.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, December 16, 2010 2:04 PM
Subject: RE: Extremely Urgent : Library consultation

Dear Mr Tichborne.

Thank you for your invitation for a festive drink. I am afraid that I will be unable to join you.

However council by-laws state that petitions should be handed into the council’s Democratic Services Manager if they are to be properly recorded so I suggest that you make contact with 

I have to say I do not recognise the plans you outline in your petition. Unlike other boroughs where there have been announcements about making dramatic cuts to library service, Barnet is holding a discussion about how we can best provide an effective service into the future. This should involve us looking at new models of how we provide this service to residents and indeed this approach has been praised by the Museum and Library Archives Council, who recently carried out a peer review of our process.

Our official library consultation closes on the 17, so please feel free to contribute at

All the best

Cllr Rams

Wednesday 15 December 2010

An Invitation to Robert Rams

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 7:06 PM
Subject: Extremely Urgent : Library consultation

Dear Councillor Rams,
I believe that you are the person ultimately responsible for the review of Libraries in Barnet. You may (or you may not) be aware that your proposals are extremely unpopular. I have heard that you have been saying that "No petition has been handed in to you". The reason for this is that we have been collecting signatures on a daily basis and so we wanted to give people every opportunity to sign the petition. As the petition formally closes on the 17th of December, I believe that now is the time for the petition to be formally handed over.
As the petition has been signed by thousands of Barnet Council Tax payers, I believe that it would be extremely rude of me not to hand the petition over to you in person, in the full glare of the press. To facilitate this process, I formally invite you  to the Adam and Eve pub in Mill Hill tomorrrow Evening (Thursday 16th December) at 10 pm to receive the petition. I am sure that you would wish to ensure that all of the people who have taken the time to sign the petitions views are considered. You will be pleased to know that I will be most happy to buy you a beverage of your choice, in recognition of your efforts to take time out of your busy schedule to receive this important petition.
In the event that you are unable or unwilling to accept my generous offer, please make alternative arrangements to receive this petition, so that I can ensure that the moment is recorded for posterity. Please reply by email so that all interested parties are able to attend.
I am sure that you will be only too keen for all of the people who signed, including many local Conservative members, to see that you are treating the matter with the utmost seriousness.
Approximately 10% of the signatures can be viewed online at - to save time, taxpayers money and bureaucracy, please accept this link as formal submission of the electronic part of the petition.
The formal text of the petition is as follows :-
We the Undersigned, are totally opposed to the closure, sell off or downgrading of the Library service in the London Borough of Barnet.

We believe that Libraries are a vital part of the Borough and recognise the importance of having trained Libraries run by trained librarians. We believe that it is vital to have "quiet space" for students to study.

We believe that closure of the service would cause untold damage to the citizens of Barnet and is totally opposed by the vast majority of the population.
I hope that take the strong local opposition to your proposals seriously and reconsider your scheme. I have copied the local press and would appreciate it if you could copy all parties into your response, to facilitate a smooth handover of this popular petition.


Roger M. Tichborne
Coordinator of the Save Barnet Libraries Campaign.

Monday 6 December 2010

Barnet Tories publicly funded political press release

­ 6 December 2010

Right Budget for Tough Times

Council Tax will be frozen and difficult choices made in the Age of Austerity.

Barnet is already one of the most efficient Councils in London. But with a chill wind sweeping the Country it has to make cuts.

Conservatives are adamant Tax Bills must be frozen while households are struggling. They are also determined to protect the frontline services that our most vulnerable residents rely upon.

But this means cutting back spending on many non-statutory services. It also means rationalising the number of people who work for the Council.

And radical approaches are needed for service delivery with outsourcing of provision where feasible.

³We are all in this together², said Council Leader Cllr. Lynne Hillan. ³I wanted to make sure we froze Council Tax in these tough times and protected essential services. It would be delusional and an insult to our residents¹ intelligence to suggest we could achieve this without making sweeping changes.²

Barnet is not alone in making cuts. Labour Lewisham faced a riot at its meeting recently. Labour Camden has seen speculation that it will close two-thirds of its libraries.

³Barnet is used to being efficient. We are already one of the most efficient in London. But these are tough times and the Public Sector is not immune from the challenges businesses have faced. This Budget keeps Council Tax down and protects services for the most vulnerable. That is why it is the best budget for Barnet², Cllr. Hillan added.


Notes to editors:

1) The claims on efficiency relate to the fact Barnet has the 4th lowest Central Services costs per head of population in London (Audit Commission 2008).

2) A list of FAQs on the Budget Headlines is below.

For more information contact Richard Robeson

0208 359 2004 or

Budget Q & A

1) Why does Barnet have to make savings?
Labour has left the Country in an appalling mess. The Country has a colossal debt. That means the new Government has to make savings and the money given to local Councils (over half of Barnet¹s income) will have to be cut. We want to keep Council Tax down, so we have to make cuts in some services. Our relentless drive for efficiency will also mean some rationalisation of staff numbers, which will be handled properly and sensitively.

2) Why are you consulting on plans to remove the museums¹ funding? What is happening with libraries core strategy consultation?
Our two Museums are funded heavily and have limited appeal (one costs £15 for every visitor it attracts). We believe this funding is unsustainable in this climate.
We are conducting a root and branch review of our libraries service. That may result in some re-provision. We want to see what our residents really want and need from libraries. Contrast that to the panic in Labour Councils like Brent and Camden where wholesale closures look likely. We do have to decide whether a Library is about books and learning or about buildings.

3) And why are you consulting on removing the ArtsDepot¹s Core Funding?
The ArtsDepot was supposed to become self-financing. That has not happened and probably never will. Barnet cannot justify spending taxpayers¹ money anymore on a centre that cannot make enough money from its productions and events when we have more pressing priorities, such as children in our care or elderly residents.

4) Why are some Children¹s Centres Going?
Children¹s Centres should provide support to the most disadvantaged. No firm decision has been taken about numbers so a lot of this is scaremongering. But we know that the Sure Start grant that funds children's centres will be cut, probably by as much as 30%. So we must focus on those children and families for whom the need is greatest, not least in support of our early intervention agenda.

5) What about schools? Will they be hit?
The Government has said that schools budgets are protected. Schools will be expected to act more in partnership with each other, sharing services and support, with the Council playing a less active role. The Council will continue to back those schools that decide to opt for academy status, and assist anyone wishing to set up a new, free school.

6) Why are Parking Permit Charges going up? 
These are going up to bring them into line with the rest of London. But there are other plans that will make parking easier. These include a planned ³Season Ticket² to allow local people to park in Pay and Display bays for a specific period.

7) ..and plans to outsource Car Parking?
The Council has to regulate parking effectively. The outsourced, ³One Barnet² approach will bring benefits and an improved service to residents.

8) What is happening with allotments?
Allotments are planned to be run by the people that use them in groups or individual sites across the Borough. It will put sites in the hands of those who know how to get the best out of them. A prime example of Big Society working in practice.

9) Why are Grants being cut?
The Council has to focus money on essential services. That means it has to look hard at organisations that are supported and what they do. Both Adults and Children¹s Services are undertaking Commissioning, whereby they shape the service and then find the providers (which can be voluntary groups) best placed to deliver them.

The Council is also formulating a radical ³Big Society Innovation Fund² where some voluntary activities in the Borough will receive support against strict criteria.

10) I understand Care Packages and a New Charging Policy is being adopted in Adult Social Care?
We are consulting on a range of options which we believe will make the service more equitable.

Richard Robeson, Political Assistant to Conservative Group

London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP
Tel: 020 8359 2004
Barnet Online:
P Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this email?

Saturday 4 December 2010

An evening with Robert Rams

From: Chipping Barnet Conservative Association <>
Date: 3 December 2010 15:49
Subject: CBCA Christmas Events and Poltical Forum
- names redacted -

Dear All,
Just a reminder that our next Political Forum is coming up on Wednesday 8th December at 7.30pm at Chipping Barnet Conservative Office, 163 High Street, Barnet EN5 5SU. This time, the guest speaker is Councillor Robert Rams. Last month's meeting was a great success so I hope to see you there.
There are tickets left for the Old Fold  Christmas Tea Party on Tuesday 7th December if you would like to come? Tickets are £10 each.
Coming up shortly is the East Barnet Christmas Dinner on Saturday 18th December at 7.15pm at the Conservative Office. Tickets are £15 each and include soup, followed by turkey with all the trimmings, Christmas pudding or mince pies, tea and coffee. A glass of wine and all soft drinks included. To book, please contact the Conservative Office on 020 8449 7345
Also the Osidge Christmas Dinner on Saturday 11th December is now fully booked, although there is a waiting list if you would like to put your name down. To do so, please contact Andreas Tambourides on 020 8368 5417.
Have a good weekend.