SHELTERED housing wardens in Barnet would be saved and the Future Shape scheme would be reviewed if a council leadership challenger is successful.

Backbench councillor Mark Shooter has launched a challenge to leader Lynne Hillan's position and has pledged to review the whole easyCouncil scheme if he is elected.

He told the Times Series: “I have had conversations about how far we should go down the Futureshape path. I don't want to just trash programmes that are currently running “The council has a large management structure and should be looking at efficiency savings. It seems Barnet is spending millions on reports from consultants when they should be getting them from their own managers.

“The warden service I would want to keep, I don't want a situation where an old person dies because they were removed. We have to work out how to protect these frontline services.

“The way to do that is to look at the council and see where we can make efficiencies in the management structure, trying to get more out of employees.”

He said the challenge was sparked by discontent among several Conservative councillors after top members “bullied” colleagues into allowances changes and said they were “out of touch” with public opinion.

He said: “The reason I voted for it is first of all we were told if we didn't we would never hold a position of any note. We all decided if we were going to abstain we would all do it together.

“Then before the meeting cabinet members called around everyone and one by one picked everyone off. I didn't want to be the only one abstaining, it was my first council meeting.

“It was a mistake. I should have abstained and voted with my conscience. I hope at the group meeting people vote with their conscience and elect me as leader.”

He added: “A bullying culture has taken hold, not just among councillors but officers and employees of Barnet.

“If someone votes with their conscience so what? We win with 38 rather than 39 votes. People have to have the power of free speech, that's democracy.

“I don't want to change the world, but if I can make a real difference to people in sheltered housing and using social services then that's something.”

Mr Shooter, who was elected to represent the Hendon ward in May, also questioned the decision to leave £27m of taxpayers' cash in Icelandic banks, despite warnings as much as a year in advance about their viability in the financial press.

The financial services entrepreneur added: “I do not want to be scathing about mistakes of the past, whatever happened happened. We shouldn't be gambling with high-risk investments with taxpayers' money.

“Iceland is still facing big problems . I'm not optimistic we will get the money back, but I anticipate some rather large changes going forward.”

He also endorsed the idea of Big Society put forward by the coalition government and said he would be prepared to listen to ideas from Labour and Lib Dem councillors.

“At the moment opposition councillors are putting forward some good ideas but they are always voted down. That should not be the case, they live in the borough too and we're all in this together,” he added.

“I'm not a politician, I don't have political ambition but I believe in public service and giving something back to the community. I want what's best for Barnet.”

Cllr Hillan took control of the council in December, after Mike Freer stepped down to concentrate on his parliamentary campaign.

Conservative councillors will have the chance to vote for a leadership candidate at a group meeting on September 7.

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