Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Councillor Jack Cohen helps out his Labour friends and attacks Underhill Enquiry - again...

Statler and I continue to be amused at the Barnet Labour Party's silence over, what is alleged to be, grubby dealings over the sale of land at Underhill. This took place when the Liberal Democrats were propping up the loony left Labour Party in GDfB, even though the Conservatives had the largest number of Councillors.

Labour Liberal Democrat Councillor Jack Cohen has made himself a reputation for being a spokesman for speaking out against the independent enquiry that is slowly getting to the bottom of this. Here he is at the April Council meeting:
Question No. 23 Councillor Jack Cohen
When do you expect the Report of The Inquiry in to the sale of land at Underhill, to be published?
Answer by Councillor Mike Freer, Leader of the Council

The Council had been advised that provisional findings would be made available on 19 March 2007. However, at the last moment PwC were reminded of a commitment they had given to any parties that may be adversely affected that they could first see any relevant extracts. Having been reminded of this commitment PwC are now unable to give a new timescale for publishing their report, but it is not thought likely that the report could be published before the summer.
Supplementary Question No. 23 Councillor Jack Cohen
Councillor Freer, if it wasn’t for the fact that certain individuals are still under a cloud over this investigation the investigation could be described now as a farce. The originating issue is now at least 5, if not 6, years old and surely any findings now arising out of that inquiry certainly would be so dated that no action could be taken and, therefore, wouldn’t you agree that the money spent on this inquiry, which now is approaching I understand £1.5m, has been a complete and utter waste?
Answer by Councillor Mike Freer, Leader of the Council

Thank you Madam Mayor, I don’t. Whatever the outcome of the report, any resident fulfilling their democratic duty whatever the cost cannot be deemed to be a waste, that’s the cost of democracy.
Statler and I fail to see Councillor Jack Cohen's logic. He phrases his questions very carefully but we feel that the intention behind them seems clear: that there should be no enquiry and matters should be left to rest. Surely if the PwC think that they are justified in spending £1.5m of public funds there must be something worth looking at?

This is quite unusual as the Liberal Democrats stock in trade is asking for enquiries here, there and everywhere. Just not in Barnet, we guess.

We are keen to see the outcome of this matter too. It has taken far too long. Statler and I were in shorts, eating iced lollies when this enquiry started and we hope we'll be alive when it comes to fruition.

We do agree with Councillor Jack Cohen that PwC should get their finger out and get this report published, soon.

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