Conservative Barnet Council cabinet member has never visited Mapledown School for disabled in Cricklewood

This Is Local London: Councillor Reuben Thomsptone admitted he has never actually visited the school for disabled children which has been told it will lose 25 per cent of its play scheme budget Councillor Reuben Thomsptone admitted he has never actually visited the school for disabled children which has been told it will lose 25 per cent of its play scheme budget

A senior politician says he sympathises with parents at a school for disabled children facing hefty budget cuts – despite having never visited it.

Councillor Reuben Thompstone, in charge of Barnet’s schools, said there was “no joy” in removing 25 per cent of Mapledown’s budget for after-school sessions and half-term play schemes described as “vital” by angry parents.

But the Conservative cabinet member said the authority’s “hands were tied” after it received a reduction in its budget from central government.

The authority has been criticised for lowering council tax by one per cent in the build-up to the local elections whilst forcing a school like Mapledown to cope with what parents described as “life-changing cuts”.

The council tax reduction saved the average household just £15 for the year but reduced the council’s revenue by £1.3million.

Councillor Thompstone, who admitted to never having visited Mapledown, defended the council’s decision despite claims from opposition councillors that the move was a political stunt intended to buy votes.

He said: “It is a very, very squeezed budget and I can understand why the parents are upset.

“Just about everything was being cut by a certain amount – our hands are tied."

The Conservative council has been keen to promote it's reduced council tax rate, despite continuing to slash budgets elsewhere.

But Councillor Thompstone, who has been in post for 12 months, said: "At no point have we boasted about it but the challenge we have got is we are getting less money and we’re having to examine and scrutinise every bit of spending."

Asked why, in that case, the authority took the decision to reduce council tax, he added: “These are austere times and we want to show we are on the side of tax payers. There is no joy in taking money out of these areas but we’re trying to do more with less.

“I would encourage the school to be more creative in some of the ways it raises money."

And asked if he felt he or the council owed the parents of Mapledown an apology, Cllr Thompstone said: “If I was looking for an apology I would be looking at the last Labour government who left us with this debt.”

He added: "I visit schools and meet with front line workers every week. I would love to have been able to visit every school before now, but there are 118 in the borough and Mapledown is certainly on my list to visit."

Comments (14)

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8:54am Wed 26 Mar 14

Mr Reasonable says...

“I would encourage the school to be more creative in some of the ways it raises money," says Cllr Thompstone. That is the solution is it? Lots more coffee mornings, jumble sales, raffles etc. This shows how crass and ill-informed councillors have become. Cllr Thompstone is paid £28,000 a year for his role on the council yet he has never been to this school. That tells you everything about this council.
“I would encourage the school to be more creative in some of the ways it raises money," says Cllr Thompstone. That is the solution is it? Lots more coffee mornings, jumble sales, raffles etc. This shows how crass and ill-informed councillors have become. Cllr Thompstone is paid £28,000 a year for his role on the council yet he has never been to this school. That tells you everything about this council. Mr Reasonable
  • Score: 9

9:20am Wed 26 Mar 14

MillHillian says...

Councillor Thompstone, who admitted to never having visited Mapledown, defended the council’s decision
“These are austere times and we want to show we are on the side of tax payers".
“I would encourage the school to be more creative in some of the ways it raises money."

There is an election for councillors in Barnet in May. Use your vote.
Councillor Thompstone, who admitted to never having visited Mapledown, defended the council’s decision “These are austere times and we want to show we are on the side of tax payers". “I would encourage the school to be more creative in some of the ways it raises money." There is an election for councillors in Barnet in May. Use your vote. MillHillian
  • Score: 10

10:23am Wed 26 Mar 14

Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog says...

What a despicable atttitude to take: the Tories knew their government funding would be reduced yet as a pre-election 'gesture'/bribe cut the council tax by 1 percent - saving residents 23p a week, yet depriving schools like Mapledown of vital money.

And lest we forget: these are the Tory councillors who, immediately on being re-elected to office in 2010, voted themselves big fat pay rises, whilst lecturing us about the need to economise. The Chairs of committees received a staggering 54% in increase in their additional allowances.

Please remember this when you go to vote on May 22nd.
What a despicable atttitude to take: the Tories knew their government funding would be reduced yet as a pre-election 'gesture'/bribe cut the council tax by 1 percent - saving residents 23p a week, yet depriving schools like Mapledown of vital money. And lest we forget: these are the Tory councillors who, immediately on being re-elected to office in 2010, voted themselves big fat pay rises, whilst lecturing us about the need to economise. The Chairs of committees received a staggering 54% in increase in their additional allowances. Please remember this when you go to vote on May 22nd. Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog
  • Score: 8

11:03am Wed 26 Mar 14

Rog T says...

If you think about what Mr Thompstone has to say it is really rather disturbing. When asked about a Tory Council cutting the budget for a school for a disabled, he says "We are on the side of tax payers" - In other words, he is not on the side of disabled people or their parents. He has drawn battle lines, where he has decided that the vulnerable should be targetted.

When he talks about his hands being tied, he is being dishonest. The council didn't have to give residents a 3p a day tax cut, funded by this cut. The first act of Mr Thompstone and his Tory Cabinet colleagues on reelection in 2010 was to vote themeselves a massive payrise. They have never taken a cut in their allowances, even though they claim "we are all in it together". In truth the only people in this story who have their hands tied are the disabled. I for one find the concept of kicking the disabled to fund meaningless taxcuts for the wealthy people, who won't even notice 3p a day to be a revolting concept
If you think about what Mr Thompstone has to say it is really rather disturbing. When asked about a Tory Council cutting the budget for a school for a disabled, he says "We are on the side of tax payers" - In other words, he is not on the side of disabled people or their parents. He has drawn battle lines, where he has decided that the vulnerable should be targetted. When he talks about his hands being tied, he is being dishonest. The council didn't have to give residents a 3p a day tax cut, funded by this cut. The first act of Mr Thompstone and his Tory Cabinet colleagues on reelection in 2010 was to vote themeselves a massive payrise. They have never taken a cut in their allowances, even though they claim "we are all in it together". In truth the only people in this story who have their hands tied are the disabled. I for one find the concept of kicking the disabled to fund meaningless taxcuts for the wealthy people, who won't even notice 3p a day to be a revolting concept Rog T
  • Score: 9

12:08am Thu 27 Mar 14

Don't Call Me Dave says...

It is interesting to note that three of the four comments above have been posted by Barnet Bloggers. Where is a comment from the leader of the Labour Group?

When Labour lose the election in May it will be entirely due to their utterly ineffectual leader Alison Moore, who never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
It is interesting to note that three of the four comments above have been posted by Barnet Bloggers. Where is a comment from the leader of the Labour Group? When Labour lose the election in May it will be entirely due to their utterly ineffectual leader Alison Moore, who never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Don't Call Me Dave
  • Score: -4

12:18am Thu 27 Mar 14

Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog says...

It is interesting to note, DCMD, that you have nothing to say about what your former Tory colleagues are doing to the disabled children who attend this school. But then there is very little you can say, is there?
It is interesting to note, DCMD, that you have nothing to say about what your former Tory colleagues are doing to the disabled children who attend this school. But then there is very little you can say, is there? Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog
  • Score: 6

1:11am Thu 27 Mar 14

Don't Call Me Dave says...

Mrs Angry is aware that, when still a resident of Barnet, DCMD vehemently opposed the council’s cuts to the warden service. He resigned as Chairman of the Chipping Barnet Conservative Association because he could not support the council’s decision to cut funding for a service providing employment for blind people, whilst at the same time awarding massive taxpayer funded indemnities to councillors and officers under investigation for wrongdoing.

Accordingly, DCMD does not have anything to prove to the people of Barnet. Alison Moore, on the other hand, does. If Labour want to win the election, they cannot rely solely on the support of a few horse & cart socialist bloggers. They need to get off their backsides and do some work. There is some talent amongst the Labour ranks, so why they stick with a specialist in failure is one of life’s great mysteries.
Mrs Angry is aware that, when still a resident of Barnet, DCMD vehemently opposed the council’s cuts to the warden service. He resigned as Chairman of the Chipping Barnet Conservative Association because he could not support the council’s decision to cut funding for a service providing employment for blind people, whilst at the same time awarding massive taxpayer funded indemnities to councillors and officers under investigation for wrongdoing. Accordingly, DCMD does not have anything to prove to the people of Barnet. Alison Moore, on the other hand, does. If Labour want to win the election, they cannot rely solely on the support of a few horse & cart socialist bloggers. They need to get off their backsides and do some work. There is some talent amongst the Labour ranks, so why they stick with a specialist in failure is one of life’s great mysteries. Don't Call Me Dave
  • Score: -2

9:35am Thu 27 Mar 14

Hunted999 says...

It's becoming a bit obsessive for Tories to blame the last Labour Government for everything but it seems to be going a bit far to blame the Labour Party for withdrawing the funding from Mapledown School - clearly a decision by the Tory Administration. A Tory Administration whose first action was to increase funding to their allowances, then retained free parking for themselves while putting it up for all residents.

Voting Labour seems the best way of getting rid of these hypocrites regardless of who leads them. In any case, as I recall the Tories came to power led by Brian Salinger only to find himself deposed by Mike Freer. Maybe DCMD will get one of the talented Labour leaders he craves. For my part Labour will mean I won't be party to a Party determined to demonise the disabled.
It's becoming a bit obsessive for Tories to blame the last Labour Government for everything but it seems to be going a bit far to blame the Labour Party for withdrawing the funding from Mapledown School - clearly a decision by the Tory Administration. A Tory Administration whose first action was to increase funding to their allowances, then retained free parking for themselves while putting it up for all residents. Voting Labour seems the best way of getting rid of these hypocrites regardless of who leads them. In any case, as I recall the Tories came to power led by Brian Salinger only to find himself deposed by Mike Freer. Maybe DCMD will get one of the talented Labour leaders he craves. For my part Labour will mean I won't be party to a Party determined to demonise the disabled. Hunted999
  • Score: 4

11:39am Thu 27 Mar 14

Don't Call Me Dave says...

@ Hunted999 I am not blaming the Labour Party for the removal of funding. I am making a point that it shouldn't be down to a few bloggers to complain about it. The Labour leader has been totally silent on the matter. With an election ahead, she should be shouting this from the roof tops. Democracy thrives when you have strong opposition to keep the Executive in check. Under Alison Moore, Labour are weak, weak, weak.
@ Hunted999 I am not blaming the Labour Party for the removal of funding. I am making a point that it shouldn't be down to a few bloggers to complain about it. The Labour leader has been totally silent on the matter. With an election ahead, she should be shouting this from the roof tops. Democracy thrives when you have strong opposition to keep the Executive in check. Under Alison Moore, Labour are weak, weak, weak. Don't Call Me Dave
  • Score: 0

6:55pm Thu 27 Mar 14

Rog T says...

David, when you lived in Barnet, you were probably the only sane and rational Tory ever to raise their head above the parapet, so I don't think lazy politicians is an exclusively Labour problem
David, when you lived in Barnet, you were probably the only sane and rational Tory ever to raise their head above the parapet, so I don't think lazy politicians is an exclusively Labour problem Rog T
  • Score: -1

12:44am Fri 28 Mar 14

Don't Call Me Dave says...

Yes, Rog, I agree that there are lazy councillors in all parties. But Labour will not win control of the council unless they work for it. To win, they have to hold their existing seats and take seats off the Conservatives. I used to live in Underhill, the most marginal ward in the borough. Labour should be working that ward, week in and week out. I still speak to my former neighbours. The last time a Labour Party worker was spotted was in 2010. The Conservatives might not deserve to stay in power, but Labour do not deserve to win it either.

Not everyone reads the blogs or the local press. Unless political parties engage with voters, most electors will be blissfully unaware of at least half of the council’s activities.
Yes, Rog, I agree that there are lazy councillors in all parties. But Labour will not win control of the council unless they work for it. To win, they have to hold their existing seats and take seats off the Conservatives. I used to live in Underhill, the most marginal ward in the borough. Labour should be working that ward, week in and week out. I still speak to my former neighbours. The last time a Labour Party worker was spotted was in 2010. The Conservatives might not deserve to stay in power, but Labour do not deserve to win it either. Not everyone reads the blogs or the local press. Unless political parties engage with voters, most electors will be blissfully unaware of at least half of the council’s activities. Don't Call Me Dave
  • Score: 0

5:43pm Fri 28 Mar 14

CllrArjunMittra says...

Hello,

Alison's comments on the Mapledown School are here:
http://betterbarnet.
nationbuilder.com/fu
nding_for_subsidised
_places_for_disabled
_children

Please note that this was posted when the story broke, and was sent to the local press at the same time.

I hope that's helpful.
Hello, Alison's comments on the Mapledown School are here: http://betterbarnet. nationbuilder.com/fu nding_for_subsidised _places_for_disabled _children Please note that this was posted when the story broke, and was sent to the local press at the same time. I hope that's helpful. CllrArjunMittra
  • Score: 1

9:56pm Fri 28 Mar 14

Don't Call Me Dave says...

Dear Cllr Mittra

How many voters do you think are interested in, or can be bothered to view, the web sites for political parties? I suspect that it's not many. These sites are generally only read by political obsessives.

Political parties have to stop navel gazing. If you have a message, get out onto the street and shout it out!

A real leader would be out on the stump, not just posting a comment on a web site that very few will read.
Dear Cllr Mittra How many voters do you think are interested in, or can be bothered to view, the web sites for political parties? I suspect that it's not many. These sites are generally only read by political obsessives. Political parties have to stop navel gazing. If you have a message, get out onto the street and shout it out! A real leader would be out on the stump, not just posting a comment on a web site that very few will read. Don't Call Me Dave
  • Score: 0

10:20am Mon 31 Mar 14

F..kedupBarnet says...

DCMD I as a resident of Barnet do not need to comment on this or any other subject, you see in May my vote will be my comment and I can assure you it will not be for this administration that I have in the past voted for, They have shown a pure lack of interest in us residents and have lined their own pockets....Labour, I am afraid to advise you WILL win in May.
DCMD I as a resident of Barnet do not need to comment on this or any other subject, you see in May my vote will be my comment and I can assure you it will not be for this administration that I have in the past voted for, They have shown a pure lack of interest in us residents and have lined their own pockets....Labour, I am afraid to advise you WILL win in May. F..kedupBarnet
  • Score: 3

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