Barnet council leaders move to reassure community as school attendance dips in borough

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Barnet council leaders move to reassure community as school attendance dips in borough

Leader of Barnet Council Barry Rawlings, and Leader of the Opposition Cllr Dan Thomas issue joint statement and confirm they are 'working with police to ensure our residents feel safe and protected'. 

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Sadiq Khan, centre, with Cllr Anne Clarke, left, Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe, centre left, deputy mayor Sophie Linden, right, Barnet Council leader Barry Rawlings, end right.
Sadiq Khan, centre, with Cllr Anne Clarke, left, Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe, centre left, deputy mayor Sophie Linden, right, Barnet Council leader Barry Rawlings, end right.

Barnet Council leaders have issued a strong statement in support of the local community on a day when school attendance at  some Jewish schools dipped alarmingly in response to the horrific events in Israel.

The joint statement, from Leader of Barnet Council and the Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings, and Leader of the Opposition and the Conservative Group, Cllr Dan Thomas, said:“Our thoughts are with everyone caught up in the conflict in the Middle East and, in particular, those who are awaiting information on the safety of loved ones and those in our twin town of Ramat Gan.

“It’s been shocking to see the sheer numbers of innocent people who have been killed and injured over the last few days.

“Barnet’s strength has always been in its diversity and many of our residents will be affected by the violence in some way. But we must not let the hate spill over into our borough.”

Jewish News understands that at one primary school in the borough, pupil attendance was down by 30 per cent on Monday.

It is not known whether this is a result of familes still in Israel, unable to fly back, or affected by the terror attacks.

Or a result of parents deciding to keep their children at home.The council has also moved to step up security in the borough, in the wake of a series of incidents including Free Palestine graffiti being daubed on bridges and walls.

More Metropolitan Police officers will be visible on the streets, and the council remains in constant contact with the Community Security Trust, and Transport for London officials.

A new £2.3million CCTV system has also meant there is an increased level of monitoring of Barnet’s streets, and close cooperation with the CST.The joint statement by council leaders added:” “We are working with our partners and our faith leaders to look at what we can do to support our communities locally and with the police to ensure our residents feel safe and protected. 

“Anyone who experiences or witnesses a hate crime should report it to the Police or to one of the 11 independent hate crime reporting centres in our borough.”

President of Barnet Multi Faith Forum, Esmond Rosen said:“BMFF join in condemning in the strongest terms the outrages perpetrated against innocent women, children and men in the State of Israel.

“The loss of life and hostage taking is devastating, and it is impossible to comprehend the pain of grieving families.“We pray for compassion. We must stand together to call for all hostilities to stop, and support a dialogue for peace and a just solution to deep rooted issues.“

We must be vigilant. This outrage and terrorist actions must not spread division across our borough.“Through BMFF and our partners we will continue to explore and acknowledge our differences, working towards community harmony with respect and dignity.”

Caroline Collier, a strategic lead within the Barnet Together Alliance, said:“We are deeply saddened by the events in Israel and Palestine, and hope that a way will be found soon to de-escalate this situation.  “Our thoughts are with the people affected, and the Barnet residents who will be concerned for loved ones in the area.”

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