The Hendon Times reports that Cllr Mark Shooter, a Conservative councillor in Barnet is planning a leadership challenge. This has been prompted by dismay at the big increase (basically a doubling) in councillor allowances.
In a leaked email he included the following points:
“Barnet Conservatives needs a fresh start to regain the trust of the electorate through these challenging times.
“We need to restore faith and respect in the council both among residents and our staff to cope with the difficult decision that need to be made over the next two years.”
“We should not need to use bulling tactics to control people.”
“I know I am not the only Conservative councillor to feel very alarmed and I believe I have the support of a significant number of my colleagues in taking this stand.”
“I believe the skills I developed from a highly successful career in business combined with not being weighed down by the failings of previous Conservative administrations, stands me in good stead to become the new leader.”
The dismay was heightened by Cllr Kate Salinger, a Conservative councillor, being stripped of her committee posts for opposing the increases. Although Cllr Shooter is trying to turn being a new councillor into a strength I would guess that would count against with some of his colleagues. He's obviously got guts.
What is so unfortunate about this saga is that in many ways Barnet is a pretty good council. The easyCouncil model is innovative. There is lot of interest in switching from a "one fits all approach" to an arrangement of Council Tax discounts, or extra charges. Allowing a fast tracking of some planning applications, for a higher fee, seems a good idea for instance. As does rewarding recycling to help cut the landfill bill. They have also been heroic in getting rid of humps. But doubling their allowances was just so crass.