During my weekly cull of junk mail and freesheets that have come through the letterbox, I discovered this morning a copy of barnetfirst, a 16-page magazine distributed to homes by London Borough of Barnet. "Budget special. Give us your bright ideas," it naively proclaims on the cover, and inside there's news of a new website where residents can submit their money-saving suggestions.
Ignoring the rather obvious riposte that the magazine itself seems ripe for the chop, my first step would be to tighten up control on its distribution. You see, I don't live in Barnet. I'm two streets away, in Camden.
Such sloppy wasted effort should come as no surprise, really, from the council that has just revealed it is spending £1.5 million this year on setting up its supposedly money-saving 'easyCouncil' initiative, to bring in just £1.4 million of savings. You really couldn't make it up, could you?
I suppose there must be some pockets of efficiency and value-for-money services being delivered in Barnet, but from my perspective across the boundary of the unloved corner of the borough that is Cricklewood, I don't see them. Instead, I see more litter, less gritting, worse town planning and crazier parking rules in this Conservative-run borough than in neighbouring Camden and Brent, which both until recently enjoyed Lib Dem-led administrations.
Instead of voting themselves hugely controversial increases in allowances, the Conservative leadership in Barnet really needs to get a grip. Being complacent and out-of-touch is bad enough at the best of times, but when things are falling apart, it's a recipe for disaster.
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