Are you a Barnet resident who usually votes Conservative? If you are, then has it occurred to you that the Barnet Conservatives hold you in total contempt? Whilst you probably think that they have done a good job in keeping Council tax to zero %, they haven't boasted quite so loudly about how they've plugged the hole this has left in the finances and who pays for it.
You probably think "what a ridiculous thing to say!". Well lets look at how they have been trying to increase revenue. The most notable area that we all know about is by stinging the motorist. CPZ charges went from up exponentially over the period between 2002 & 2012. A resident day parking ticket increased from 35p to £4.00. Ask yourself who this penalises most? The majority of car owners living in CPZ areas are Tory voters, yet they were the cash cow slaughtered at the alter of zero tax increases. Then there are the parking fines. Again to afford to run a car requires a degree of affluence. A much higher percentage of car owners are Conservative voters than the general population. Barnet Council employ parking wardens who explicitly target motorists, with targets for fines. Margaret Thatcher used to say that anyone over 40 on a bus was a failure (she implied that they were Socialists as well). In Barnet bus users have done far better than car drivers in that period. And what about the effects on small traders in the High Street. Again a traditional Tory core vote. They have been knocked for six and seen businesses decimated by the parking policies of Barnet Council. Then there have been increases to charges for the elderly and the vulnerable for various council provided services. For people who survive totally on benefits, this has been hard to swallow, but many of the wealthier people in these categories have to find the increase from their savings. The Council also has a stated intention under One Barnet to increase the revenue it derives from planning applications. It is not clear to me exactly how this will be achieved, but generally only the more wealthy (and demographically more Tory) voters will be affected.
I have also been studying some of the grant cuts. There are many worthy organisations that have seen huge cuts to their grants. The council has to legally provide some services, which generally affect the more impoverished (and Labour voting) areas of society. The charities which do works which affect the more affluent (but in many ways just as challenged) members of society have born the brunt of these cuts.
Then there is the cuts to street scene, parks maintenance and road maintenance (such as fixing potholes). These areas again hit Conservative voters disproportionately. Some of our nicer parks in nicer neighbourhoods are looking a little tired and shabby. The roads are still full of potholes in the middle of summer (causing damage to your lovely car).
I find it simply extraordinary that people see the zero % tax increase and say that this is good prudent Conservative husbandry of funds. Ask anyone who has had to spend hundreds of pounds getting a car repaired after pothole damage, what they think of the running down of roads maintenance and I am sure they would tell you they'd rather have paid another 20p a week in Council tax if the roads were properly maintained.
Then there are the Conservative policies to protecting the Green Belt and conservation areas. nearly everyone in these areas are well off home owners, again in the Conservative demographic. What do we see happening. Fat cat property developers pitch up and erect monstrosities, damaging the value and the quality of life of these long standing residents. We all know horror stories of such tales. Sadly even the chair of the Hendon Planning committee got in on the act, erecting a large structure in her own garden, without bothering to get the required permission. The former deputy Chairman of the Hendon Conservatives has completely flouted the planning rules with a large commercial development in Mill Hill, making life a misery for his neighbours. Mind you, he's one Conservative voter who has done very well out of the deal.
The last area where I think that the local Conservatives are letting down their core voters is in the area of standards of behaviour. The Conservatives like to consider themselves as genteel and well mannered. Their local party tolerated a man in its ranks who was a thug and a criminal, only finally throwing him out AFTER HE WAS CONVICTED OF ASSUALTING A WOMAN IN THE STREET ! For a party that constantly calls for harsher penalties for violent criminals, strangely there has been no word of condemnation of the man. He was only suspended from the party after the central office intervened. His final removal from the party happened weeks after the verdict.
So I ask the dyed in the wool Conservative voters of Barnet - "who represents your views locally?". Sadly for them, it seems to me that no one does.