A campaign group has hit back at claims it is engaging in “student politics” and producing “childish leaflets” in the run-up to the local elections.

Barnet Borough Council leader Councillor Richard Cornelius condemned Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) after it released election leaflets encouraging people not to vote for the Conservative Party.

Cllr Cornelius claimed BAPS’ “demonstrations, sit-ins and childish leaflets are no substitute for achievement” and said the group was “living in the past”.

But Barbara Jacobson, a representative for BAPS, said: “We're very much in the present and looking forward to the future. We're concerned with what has happened in the past and want to see a return to public services being public.

“Far from being the 'worst kind' of politics at any level, demonstrations and leaflets are a highly regarded means of expressing our democratic rights, particularly when faced with a council administration that doesn't consult or listen to residents.

“To call the leaflet 'childish' is a weak attempt to dismiss the very strong statement it makes about the failures of this Conservative cabinet.”

Cllr Cornelius had also objected to BAPS' claims it is non party political, stating that “in its negativity” towards the Tory Party, the group is party political.

Ms Jacobson added: “BAPS is not campaigning for any political party; it is campaigning for public services, for residents' rights and local democracy, and for that reason informs residents of the failures of the current council administration and indicates a way to change the situation.”

She also rebutted the leader's claims the council has been 'high-achieving”, suggesting people read their leaflet for examples of the authority’s shortcomings.