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Co-founder of the theatre group Chickenshed.

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Richard Cornelius

Barnet Council leader Column

Leader of Barnet Council


No organisation can stay how it has always been

THERE has been a lot of froth over the
council’s One Barnet Programme. The
government has to cut spending as a result of excessive past expenditure. As a
chronically indebted country, we all have to accept and understand this.

We will not get economic growth until the burden of the state is stabilised and then reduced. Barnet has to take some £43million out of its budget. This is driven by reduced funding from central government.

The good news is that we are well on the way to achieving these savings. The Conservative team already had in place a programme that was looking at the way everything is done, bearing down on bureaucracy and finding cheaper ways of doing business.

Some services will be shared with other boroughs. We plan to merge our legal team with Harrow’s this month. We will get a better service and be able to share the management costs.

We are working with the NHS to remove
duplication. Services will be transformed to provide what is needed by residents rather than supplying what the council has always provided – other work will be outsourced.

The commercial sector has different management techniques and will be able to expand business by selling services elsewhere and spreading the overhead costs.

The first of these to be dealt with will be the planning administration.

These are big changes and will lead on to other changes that will make the council more responsive to residents’ needs.

At no time will there be any loss of
democratic control. The buck will still stop with your councillors and me.

There has been opposition to this modernisation, but then I took some time to come to terms with it myself.

Any alternative budgeting would mean
draconian cuts in service, whereas three quarters of all our cuts will be from doing things smarter. Our responsibility is to the taxpayers.

I was never a fan of East Germany or our
former state telephone monopoly. Ossified state enterprise was always bad.

We do need to change the way we do things just for the sake of improvement. No organisation can ever stay the way it has always been. Nostalgia is fine but the world has moved on.


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