The Leader of Barnet Council, Richard Cornelius, is another example of a politician who resorts to weasel words and refuses to acknowledge or accept when his council has exceeded its authority and broken the law.
Speaking after Barnet Council was found to have illegally driven up the charges for controlled parking zones in the borough in order to raise revenue, rather than simply maintain the scheme, Cllr Cornelius tried to play down the seriousness of the issue by saying:
It is fairly clear that the council raised the price of parking permits, after five years of a price freeze, too abruptly and rather charmlessly. I will make sure that doesn’t happen again.
With the council considering spending more taxpayers’ money to pursue an appeal, Cllr Cornelius then attempted to play the ‘everyone else is doing it’ card:
Both our pricing and spending are very much in line with other London boroughs.
That of course doesn’t make it right. Cornelius is whining like a spoiled child at the unfairness of being pulled up for his council’s illegal behaviour.
This matter is yet another case of councils doing what they think they can get away with. It is also a splendid example of the importance of residents taking an interest in what goes on in Town Halls and challenging councils who think they can bully people into compliance through threats and using taxpayers’ money to fund legal action.
The lesson from residents is not only that you can take on local authorities when they are in the wrong and win, but that we all have a duty to do so. The forget they are supposed to be our servants and we need to correct the unacceptable imbalance in the relationship.