Barnet leader pledges council tax rebate and an end to outsourcing

Barnet leader Cllr Barry Rawlings after Labour's election victory

Barnet leader Cllr Barry Rawlings after Labour's election victory - Credit: Stefania DI Cio

Barnet's new Labour leadership said it will start “getting the basics right” and that it will end the policy of outsourcing.

Labour, which won 41 out of 63 seats at the local elections on May 5, aims to introduce a council tax rebate, and focus on controlling overdevelopment and sustainability.

Cllr Barry Rawlings, the new council leader and a Friern Barnet councillor, said: “It’s a bit scary because it is a big commitment, but I am excited.

“We have different priorities like sustainability and a green agenda and so the opportunity to work in a different way.

“We want to break this habit where people feel their area is neglected.”

Barnet leader Cllr Barry Rawlings after Labour's election victory

Barnet leader Cllr Barry Rawlings after Labour's election victory - Credit: Stefania DI Cio

After the victory, Labour declared a climate emergency in Barnet.

Cllr Rawlings said Labour will halt outsourcing and bring many services in house, starting with planning services but also land charges, building control, environmental health and trading standards. 

“Planning needs to be accountable to the local people, not to shareholders,” Cllr Rawlings said.

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The council will rebate resident the 1% council tax increase that was introduced in March.

“We will give back £2 million to residents. We hope it will help to boost local businesses, many of whom are suffering since Covid.

“We can’t promise a complete [tax] freeze but we will never raise it by the maximum and we will always try and save some money.”

Labour plans to stand up to developers because “a lot of residents are worried about "overdevelopment”, having  a policy that stop building “mega towers”.

“Around Cricklewood and Childs Hill the Conservatives have left a very poor legacy and we will try to clear up the mess.”

The party pledged more council housing: “At the end of four years there will be at least 1,000 homes which are truly affordable at market rent.”

Talking about ULEZ areas, Cllr Rawlings said that is a matter for the government and the mayor of London, but added: “Having a good public transport system is actually one of the best ways to improve air quality.”

Hendon Town Hall

Hendon Town Hall - Credit: Stefania DI Cio

They are also looking at an “orbital” cycling pattern looking at how to “make cycling a better experience on the back roads”.

Cllr Rawlings said Labour will work with residents and the police to make streets safer, investing in CCTV, lighting and community safety hubs. 

“We are determined to make changes in Barnet and we will.”