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Tied up in Japanese Knotweed
Over the past two weeks there has been little to report from Council meetings. But in case it is thought that all a councilor does is attend meetings at the Town Hall I can assure readers there is plenty of what we call casework to get on with. My two ward colleagues Cllr Susette Palmer and Cllr Monroe Palmer and I have been inundated with issues from residents.
I think there are two reasons for this. Firstly we are well known for getting things done, but also I suggest the number of contacts is a good weather vane on how good or not good is the Council at responding to residents. Many residents contact us when all other attempts to resolve an issue have failed.
I thought i would give you some idea of the type of casework we deal with. Most come via email phone or being stopped in the street. We have held two ward surgeries this month Residents come to ward surgeries with all sorts of issues. Here are a few. A mother who has an autistic child, battling with the Council to secure a school place which best fits her child’s needs, a working mother of two trying desperately to secure council housing ,two irate residents complaining about a planning matter, a resident complaining about Japanese knot weed intrusion from a Barnet Homes property, residents complaining about rubbish dumping, a trading standards issue relating to a dodgy car dealer , a householder wanting money back from building control, a resident who applied for a blue badge but had heard nothing .
You can never be sure what the next email will bring. It could be a resident complaining about the planning system and asking what the Lib Dems will do about it. a complaint about street lighting or parents needing help providing a wheel chair for a disabled child.
Any way it was back to business at the Finchley and Golders Green Planning Sub Committee on Tuesday. A pretty light agenda but not with out the usual mix of strange happenings. This time it was as if Japanese Knot Weed had spread to the Committee Chairman. This could be the only explanation for a bizarre series of votes.
An application in Arden Road had attracted objections from articulate and knowledgeable neighbors. They presented a compelling argument but I thought that our hands were tied because of a previous Inspector’s ruling. The committee chair agreed and indicated she would not be voting. So we came to the vote. It was two for and two against with the Chairman, er voting against. We all turned to the Chairman for her casting vote. I think I heard the chairman then say she meant to abstain. The Chairman called for the vote to be taken again. And so on a second vote it was two for one against. The chairman then entered in to earnest and inaudible discussion with the Council Officers. The chairman then called for a third vote, again two for one against. The application was rejected.
But the voting fiasco was not over. We moved on to another application. This time the vote was three for three against. The Chairman gave her casting vote but would not say whether it was for or against. But it gets worse because the Chairman did not actually vote in the 3 all draw she is not allowed a casting vote. We stared at the officers they stared back at us. What do we do? In the spirit of the World Cup I suggested a penalty shoot out.
Someone suggested we defer for a site visit. Agreed said the Chairman, hold on we all shouted in unison we have to vote on a deferral. So we went to the vote on deferral .I hoped for another draw! But we voted unanimously to defer. As I remark many times on this blog you could not make it up