Council’s new ‘strategic vision’ for future of Barnet agreed

New corporate plan sets out how the authority will achieve its key priorities, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Barnet twinned with...

A “strategic vision” for Barnet focused on “caring for people, our places and planet” has been approved by the Labour administration.

The council’s new corporate plan sets out how the authority will achieve key priorities such as tackling inequality, increasing community participation, achieving net zero carbon emissions and becoming a “borough of fun”.

Based on the pledges contained in Labour’s local election manifesto, it was created following a range of engagement sessions with residents, community groups, businesses and other partners of the council during autumn last year.

The 50-page document includes pledges to fight inequality, improve life chances and reduce poverty, boosting incomes and reducing costs for residents.

It aims to champion and develop town centres and neighbourhoods, provide “good-quality homes in the right places” and to make Barnet a “borough of fun; a place to enjoy ourselves”.

To care for the planet, the corporate plan includes pledges to cut the council’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2030, improve the quality of the local environment, and enhance green and open spaces.

There is also a pledge to become “a ‘listening council’ that collaborates, listens and builds a dialogue with residents and communities, together working for a better Barnet”.

During a full council meeting on Tuesday, leader Barry Rawlings said part of the administration’s vision was “an aspiration to put Barnet on the map and make it a place people travel to visit, not just commute from”.

He added: “We promised in our manifesto to put sustainability and communities at the heart of what the council does. To achieve this, we believe we need to respond to the challenges we face – the climate emergency and the cost-of-living crisis.

“We are aiming at climate justice, protecting our environment and biodiversity while supporting our local economy to adapt to the crisis, planning for the skills and jobs of the future by ensuring everybody benefits from sustainable growth.”

The Conservative group was skeptical of the claims, with opposition councillors criticising the length of the document and suggesting it contained little in the way of concrete promises. The previous corporate plan, launched by the then-Tory administration in 2021, was 31 pages long.

Conservative group leader Dan Thomas said the Labour group was carrying on the work of the previous administration, repackaging its priorities with “some lefty overtones”. He added that the “family-friendly borough theme” had been introduced in 2019 and claimed the plans to tackle poverty were “nothing new”.

Cllr Thomas continued: “The people and communities of Barnet are already having plenty of fun. They do not need the council or the Labour Party to tell them that they are boring, or that they live in a ‘dormitory borough’, or that they need to get out more.”

The Tory leader claimed the plan was being used to justify a “so-called transformation programme headed up by a very expensive transformation director”.

Labour councillors voted to approve the corporate plan. Two Conservative councillors voted against the plan, with the rest abstaining.

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