A campaign group fighting Barnet Council’s outsourcing programme was dismissed as “a group of eccentric socialists” by the leader in charge of the scheme.

Conservative group leader Richard Cornelius made the comments about the Barnet Alliance for Public Services as the authority’s annual budget was passed at Hendon Town Hall last night.

In his speech, he attacked the group, which has fiercely criticised and campaigned against the Tory-imposed One Barnet outsourcing scheme.

He said: “(They are) just a group of eccentric socialists, American exiles, bloggers and a coffee shop owner.”

The Totteridge representative also referred to a judicial review brought against the One Barnet scheme, supported by BAPS, which is due to be heard at the High Court later this month.

Outsourcing contracts have been put on hold pending the outcome of the legal proceedings.

Councillor Cornelius said: “Everyone has a right to speak to the courts, but the delay will make it difficult for us to implement the savings we have planned.

“I don’t see how a union (BAPS) can support this when it is potentially damaging its members’ job prospects.”

He later added: “We read a lot of local propaganda from bloggers and general whingers but people want to live in Barnet – we have the two best schools in the country, the second best primary education system, our regeneration schemes are delivering and our business base is strong.”

In a recent statement, BAPS criticised the council for claiming the judicial review will waste taxpayers’ money.

Group co-ordinator Tirza Waisel said: “It is no secret we hope to have the contract quashed and the council forced to consider an in-house solution.

“Achieving efficiency and savings while improving services and keeping them public is possible through collaboration with residents and with trade unions.

“In fact, if Councillor Cornelius wishes, he can probably still save the cost of the judicial review if he instructs a halt to the One Barnet process and launches a genuine consultation and negotiation on in-house alternatives.”