Barnet Council’s decision to remove planters from a street in Golders Green has sparked a row between the Labour administration and local Tories.
Wooden boxes containing plants and shrubs were installed by the council this summer at the junction of Golders Green Crescent and Golders Green Road to create a temporary public amenity space that could host community events. Seating areas were also provided.
But last month the council confirmed they would be taken out in response to local concerns over an increase in antisocial behaviour and a request from the Metropolitan Police to remove them.
Local Conservative councillors hailed the U-turn on the planters after more than 500 people signed a petition calling for their removal. They accused the Labour administration of imposing the planters without consultation and ignoring local concerns.
Golders Green councillors Dean Cohen and Peter Zinkin said: “The damage done to Golders Green Road by the irresponsible behaviour of the Labour cabinet member in ignoring for months the advice of the police and his own community safety team is a disgrace.”
The Labour group claimed the planters were part of a Tory initiative that originally won local support. It said ‘Crescent Square’ was highlighted in the town centre strategy adopted by the council in 2020, under the previous Conservative administration, as a viable location to trial vehicle access restrictions to create a new temporary public amenity space.
Alan Schneiderman, the council’s cabinet member for environment and climate change, said: “Conservative councillors crowing over the cancellation of one of their own policies is baffling.
“Time and again, from Golders Green to the proposals of the Edgware development, we see the Barnet Conservatives complaining about and opposing policies that they themselves put in motion. They are no longer a serious, grown-up party.
“We believe in acting on the basis of evidence. As soon as the police recommended that the planters were removed, we arranged for this to happen as quickly as possible.”
Responding to the comments, Cllr Zinkin said the Labour administration took the decision to install the planters using an experimental traffic order “without appropriate local consultation or talking to the local shopkeepers”.
He said he had been keen for the town centre to get some “care and attention”, but there had been a “lousy execution” of the idea by the administration.
Cllr Zinkin added: “The important things are the planters are being removed, and hopefully the local parklets that are not being used will also be removed, and [we are] unhappy that so much money was wasted.”
The Met Police said in a statement: “The designing out crime officer from the Met’s continuous policing improvement command completed a walk-through, along with partners and local officers, of the proposed sites for the planters prior to their installation.
“It was raised on that walk-through that there was potential for future issues with antisocial behaviour relating to placing planters/seating into areas that are already experiencing a level of antisocial behaviour or crime and disorder.”