Barnet Council “gagging” effort branded a “disgrace”

Barnet Council’s proposal to remove the right of MPs, Assembly Members or Councillors to submit items for discussion at residents’ forums has been described as an effort to “gag” London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore. The changes were called for by Edgware Councillor Brian Gordon, who chairs the Hendon residents’ forum, through a motion at a Barnet Council meeting in October.

Mr Dismore believes the motion was targeted against him personally, as he is the only elected representative who has tabled questions at the forums, and does not have the same rights as Councillors to submit member’s items at Council Committee meetings. MPs and Councillors have the same speaking rights as members of the public at Council meetings.

Mr Dismore said:

‘The proposed rule change is a travesty. I am asked by residents to raise issues, often because they are unable to attend or are not confident of speaking. The fact of the matter is that Councillors can raise issues they want to discuss at Council meetings, but the MPs and I can’t. Given none of the Barnet Conservative MPs so far as I am aware have ever bothered to raise an issue or attended the residents’ forums (unlike when I was Hendon’s MP), I think it is clear that this is an effort to gag me and prevent me from speaking.’

‘The issues I have raised range from libraries, bus services, fire brigade consultations and flooding, to pedestrian safety, public conveniences, traffic, children’s centres and policing. These are issues that matter to residents and they want them discussed. Bungling Barnet Council’s contempt and disregard for the will of residents of this borough was amply displayed by their shambolic handing of the GLA election in May, when polling stations were given the wrong copy of the electoral register. Democracy has always been treated as a joke in Barnet.’