Keep Barnet Alive
By Christopher Nash
I have been asked to write a short piece about the Keep Barnet Alive campaign, so here goes.
The KBA movement was originally formed after the rejection of the Copthall plan at public inquiry.
It was based on two beliefs, that Barnet FC were an asset to the borough and hence that Barnet FC should be given proper help in relocating within the borough.
Public support flooded in, with 57,000 people putting their names down on the petition. Meanwhile marches were organised to highlight the club's plight. The biggest, to Trafalgar Square, even gained TV coverage.
After a lull of a couple of years, KBA was reformed last summer. The change of administration at the local elections had put the South Underhill project in jeopardy, so vigorous campaigning was needed to ensure that the club did not fall off the agenda.
Our philosophy remains unchanged, although the emphasis of the campaign has perhaps changed slightly - Barnet FC is a community asset and not just a football club, so its loss could impact even on those who have no interest the game.
The summer brought with it various festivals and fairs, giving us the chance to travel around the borough to spread the word. We have handed out balloons to the kids and conducted the community survey on their parents to find out how the public felt about the club. The response has been positive, backing up the evidence of the original petition. Barnet residents want Barnet Football Club in Barnet. We just have to get that message through to those in power.
It has always been the intention of the KBA to have an open dialogue with the council. Unfortunately, the feeling has not always been reciprocated - witness the banning of KBA members from the councils web forum.
Once every two months there is a open forum, which provides an opportunity to ask questions directly of a panel consisting of two councillors and various planning officers. In the audience are other councillors, journalists and members of the public. The last meeting was on Tuesday, and as is usual, twenty or so KBAers were among a floor of about sixty.
We asked specific questions about South Underhill, the collapse of the provisional agreement and the collapse of the Orient move. Not content with woolly statements, we are after specific commitments. Few are forthcoming.
For instance, we have asked: What would the council do if the club won the South Underhill public enquiry? Would they honour that decision?' Reply: 'Our position on South Underhill is clear.'
Again: 'If no alternative were found to South Underhill, would that mean bye bye Barnet?' Answer: 'We want the club to stay in the borough'. And so it goes on.
I should clarify one thing about KBA - we are not a political organisation. Members hold views across the political spectrum, and are united simply by the belief that the club should be given proper help in relocating. To that end, the stated aims of the KBA and the conservative administration are identical.
Yet words without actions are empty, and our continued presence in fairs and at forums offers a gentle reminder that Barnet FC is a big local issue which will not go away. With every unanswered question the inaction of this administration becomes ever more apparent. But are we any nearer to our goal? I couldn't say, but the fight will certainly go on.
The KBA is entirely independent of the BFCSA (although some fans are on both committees). The KBA have their own section on the club's official site which can be accessed via the main page at www.barnetfc.com.