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Council leader Richard Cornelius slams One Barnet protest as ‘ploy of extremists’

18:13 13 December 2012

Protesters outside Hendon Town Hall. Picture Polly Hancock.

Protesters outside Hendon Town Hall. Picture Polly Hancock.

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Barnet Council leader Richard Cornelius has slammed protesters who sabotaged a cabinet meeting last week – accusing them of behaving like “extremists”.

Police were called to Hendon Town Hall last Thursday (December 6) after protesters disrupted the council’s cabinet as they discussed a controversial £320million outsourcing contract set to transfer the council’s back office services to private company Capita.

Members of the Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) heckled cabinet members as they addressed the meeting, ignoring several pleas for calm from Cllr Cornelius.

The meeting was subsequently adjourned and concluded in another room, not open to the public, where the cabinet voted to approve Capita as the preferred bidder.

Speaking this week, Cllr Cornelius said: “The people who were making the disturbance were known to us. They were clearly well-organised, they weren’t interested in any answers.

“They are entitled to their opinions and they are entitled to say what they think but it is undemocratic to interrupt a meeting held in public.

“It is the ploy of extremists to do that kind of thing.”

The contract with Capita is the first of two major outsourcing contracts set to be introduced by the council as part of its One Barnet scheme.

Before interrupting the meeting, BAPS members staged a protest at the town hall in opposition to One Barnet.

Reacting to Cllr Cornelius’ comments, BAPS coordinator Tirza Waisel said: “Emotions were running high on the night - what he calls extremist behaviour is his residents’ determination to stop this folly of One Barnet.”

Last week, Barnet Council also received two letters from residents seeking a judicial review of One Barnet.

The proposed contract with Capita is set to be examined by the council’s Business Management Overview and Scrutiny Committee tonight (December 13) from 7pm.

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