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Barnet does do culture

Between now and the next General Election seldom with a cabinet minister's speech be complete without some invented or distorted quote from a Tory Council leader. In the case of Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw he always quotes the Barnet Council leader Cllr Mike Freer as saying: "We don't do culture in Barnet." Bradshaw said it in his Labour Party Conference speech. He said it in his Progress lecture. It shows he believes in recycling. But the problem for Bradshaw is that the quote, offered unsourced and without context, is not true.

Cllr Freer says:

What we said is that given the financial straightjacket the Council has operated in for the past eight years, we have had to make hard choices on our budgets. We have said we can't do everything and we had five key priorities and we have aligned our budgets accordingly. That meant we did not spend large sums of money on the Arts, we retained our grant to the Artsdepot and devolved the culture development officer to them. in a broadly middle class area we took the decision that our residents would buy theatres/arts if they chose and we would spend council tax on education, making the borough cleaner, greener etc. We have of course invested considerable sums on our Libraries (which is culture) to make them modern,. Relevant and fit for purpose.

If Mr Bradshaw thinks dancing topless at Glastonbury is culture then I think we've got it right and he's got in wrong. The fact that Labour Cabinet Ministers spend so much time attacking Barnet, suggests we've got it right.


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