PROTESTERS were dismayed when a £50 million “vanity project” to relocate Barnet Council offices to Colindale was approved.

32 Conservative councillors out-voted 30 Labour councillors in favour of moving council headquarters from North London Business Park and Barnet House to a new site at a full council meeting on Tuesday.

Council workers, union representatives and Colindale residents gathered outside Hendon Town Hall before the meeting in a final protest before the council voted.

They were worried the move would be “dangerous and costly”, leading to parking troubles for staff and residents, disruptive building work and obstructing council staff’s ability to work in the borough.

Council social worker and branch chair for Barnet Unison Helen Davies said: “It is a huge, extravagant waste of money and it has gone ahead without anyone asking us if we wanted it.

“The new site is poorly located and will make it impossible for social workers like me to drive in every day and get out in our cars around the borough to do our jobs. We will be cut off.”

Many union members said they were not properly consulted before the plans were put through committee and feel like the council is pushing it through regardless of their opinions.

Nagus Narenthira, councillor for Colindale, said in the meeting: “A good employer will take their staff’s views seriously. This is not what the Tories do.

“The only staff review was done by Unison and this is the only reason any staff resistance is on record.

“35% of staff reviewed said they are looking for new jobs because of this project and we cannot afford to lose them.”

Workers’ worries about parking were reiterated by the Labour group at the meeting, who said there was not enough space for council staff and residents to all park their cars in the area.

Colindale councillor Zakia Zubairi said: “There are around 2,000 council workers who will be using the site and there is no space for them all to bring their cars to work without spilling into residential areas.

“If there is no space for parking there will be no space for a community centre either and no one will benefit from the move, which has been proposed without considering the people who live in Colindale.”

Deputy leader Daniel Thomas, Conservative councillor for Finchley Church End, defended the move, saying it would be more cost effective and improve council services in the long run.

He said: “The council has services across the borough and it is only right that we not only have community space but operational space so we can keep providing those services.

“The proposed land puts the council right in the heart of Colindale, connected to the borough via the Northern line and the A5 and making us more accessible for our residents.

“The plan is not complete and we now have two years to consult with staff and residents on their concerns to make it work for everyone before construction begins.”

Plans for construction in Colindale will now be put into motion and staff are expected to move from the North London Business Park site by 2020 and from Barnet House in 2032.