Friday, 20 April 2018

Hugh Rayner, chair of Barnet Audit, slams his own committee for poor training and skirting over issues

Last night Long serving Barnet Councillor and chair of Audit, Hugh Rayner, chaired his final meeting of the committee. As is the way when a councillor retires, Cllr Rayner said a few words about the committee and the insights he'd gained in his time as chair. Normally these speeches are an exercise in backslapping. Last nights meeting was perhaps the most explosive end of term meeting in the history of the council. As we reported earlier, the Deputy Chair of the Committee, Sury Khatri blasted his own (former) party and stated that residents were being fleeced. In all the excitement of this explosive revealation, many will have forgotten the fact that Councillor Rayner also blasted (albiet in a more calm and measured way) the workings of his own committee. Councillor Rayner claimed that the committee wasn't properly trained for the job, that the committee had skirted over issues. Watch this clip. Here is what Councillor Rayner said.

"The Audit Committee is an important committee. It is important  that members get involved in the process and are able to ask the deep questions that are necessary. I sometimes get the impression that we skirt over a little bit, possibly by lack of knowledge, but good training will lead to better auditing"

 

In short, last night we saw the chair of the Audit committee saying that the committee members lacked proper training and had skirted over issues. When you then consider that his vice chair stated that residents are being fleeced by Capita and other contractors and that the leadership doesn't like difficult questions, there can be no doubt that the administration is out of its depth, badly run and not capable of making sure that anything is being done properly.

The complete mess that the council have made, with a top heavy structure of contractors monitoring contractors and no one being properly accountable was exposed by local blogger John Dix (AKA Mr Reasonable) who asked a question of the committee that reveals why it is almost impossible to get anything done properly in Barnet. Just watch this short clip. Near the end, Hugh Rayner asks whether the structure could be better. The non answer sums up just why we need a new broom.

 

The Barnet Eye believes that John Dix should be co-opted onto the Audit committee as an independent peoples representative to ask these robust and difficult questions. I am quite frankly in awe of what John has done. He is constantly denied access to documents and fobbed off, yet he asks harder and more searching questions than the rest of the committee.

I applaud Hugh Rayner for telling the truth. Sadly, like Sury Khatri, it seems that the more capable and independent minded members of the Tory party are surpluss to requirements. As Sury Khatri said "As Cllr Dan Thomas (Deputy Leader of the Barnet Conservatives) lays the ground for his right wing and hard Brexit based leadership coup, he only wants yes men in the Conservative group"

 The Barnet Eye was the first blog to film a meeting in the council chamber, before it was officially allowed. Rather amusingly, it was Hugh Rayner who we chose to film. Hugh was not best pleased at the time, but we won the day and I think it is quite appropriate that we were there to film what is perhaps the finest moment from Hugh in the Council Chamber. As a candidate for the Lib Dems in Mill Hill in the elections in May, I absolutely guarantee that I will ensure that Hugh's suggestions are taken up. Like Hugh, I believe good scrutiny is the key to success. I suspect that I will be having quite a few friendly cups of tea with Hugh to pick his brains on how to ensure Barnet residents get good service. I will make this vow to Hugh and every other Barnet resident. If I get in, I will not wait until my final council meeting to make important points that are vital to ensure value for money for residents. I will ask these questions from day one.

Blistering farewell speech from retiring Mill Hill Councillor says Barnet Residents getting fleeced

Last night, respected and well liked Mill Hill Councillor, Sury Khatri made a farewell speech at the Barnet Council Audit Committee.  . Sury was the vice chair of this committee, a role recognising his status as one of the most capable members of the Conservative administration. The committee is one of the most important in Barnet as it has ultimately responsibility for the oversight of the business of Barnet Council. What Sury said was devastating. Watch this video.



Chair, it is usual for the vice chair of a committee to thank the chair at the end of the municipal year. As this is my last meeting as a Barnet councillor, perhaps you will permit me a few final valedictory words too?
It has been an honour to serve as their community champion for the residents of Mill Hill for 8 years. In that time I have tried my best to take up their issues and concerns, and deliver real positive changes, such as the diving club, the future of the library and with the many planning applications we have received. I fear though that my zealous advocacy for the residents of Mill Hill may have cost me the selection.  As Cllr Dan Thomas (Deputy Leader of the Barnet Conservatives) lays the ground for his right wing and hard Brexit based leadership coup, he only wants yes men in the Conservative group, and thus I have been discarded. Astonishing that after 8 years of serving the community, without a blemish on my record and more than a decade serving the party amounted to zero.
I have had residents contacting me expressing shock and disgust – a Conservative councillor telling me among other things that when joined the Conservative party it was not this party – a nasty party. Isn’t it telling that of the 31 other councillors only a handful had the decency to contact me expressing also shock and disgust. Today have the party group chairman sitting alongside here but not even a squeak - silence is deafening. We have been hearing for some time that deselection was discussed last summer and that the exercise should be prolonged to the 11th hour – damage limitation was on mind. Momentum has arrived in the Conservative party. however, my time at the council has been overshadowed by the disastrous Capita contracts, which is falling apart at the seams. 4 years on issues still keep crawling out the woodwork. This contract represents poor value for money, and the residents are being fleeced. I believe my deselection by Daniel Thomas is motivated by my scepticism of the Capita contracts. Today’s public questions and current media reports vividly illustrates the complete incompetence of capita. The contracts are a shambles and a disaster and performing badly and council taxpayers are being fleeced by Capita .
Some examples:
The new depot – this has been badly mismanaged but Cllr Thomas should be more worried about his own dire performance. The disaster we have seen with bin collections these last two weeks are because of his disastrous management of the move from the Mill Hill depot to the Abbots depot and having to pay over the odds, He is the chair of ARG (assets, regeneration & Growth) committee, and it is now apparent that there is not enough room for the repair of vehicles, and I understand there are serious problems with the structures. one cannot put such important projects in the hands of such a useless person. who is going to pick up the tab, not Capita but Barnet taxpayers?
Another example - take the millions paid to Capita and which are lost and irrecoverable due to their incompetence on the design of the site in north london – not been made public, why? next estates. The list is long but time is against me. I want to thank all the officers connected with this committee and those of the other committees, governance officers with whom I have the pleasure to work with and for the support they extended me in carrying out my councillor duties – very much appreciated.
But returning to my thanks to the chair - although I am finding it difficult I will say only this on behalf of the committee members to thank the chairman for the neutral and inclusive manner he has conducted the meetings during the last 12 months. This is your last meeting too, as you have stood down from hale. All I can say is that the people of Hale will get a significant upgrade in the quality of their representation if they vote for the labour candidates - Ernest, Rachel and Liron. They deserve better.  I hope the residents deliver the right result on 3rd May – Conservatives losing control. Thank you"

Roger Tichborne, Lib Dem candidate for Mill Hill commented "Councillor Khatri is one of the most respected politicians in the Borough. This was recognised by the administration in his appointment as the vice chair of the audit committee. It is disgraceful that he appears to have been deselected because he was asking too many difficult questions. If Councillor Khatri says that residents are being fleeced, then he is someone who knows. He has said that he hopes residents deliver the right result on May 3rd. In Mill Hill, this means voting Lib Dems. Only the Lib Dems will curb the excesses of both the hard right and the loony left in Barnet. Our candidates have solid experience of running businesses and a long record of working for the community, rather than for vested interests. Last nights events in the council chamber show just how desperately the council needs people with common sense and common decency. The Lib Dems were the majority party in Mill Hill from 1994 to 2010. Mill Hill residents voted for Sury because they recognised he was a sensible and decent Conservative in 2010. Sadly for Sury and for Mill Hill, it is clear that these values have been abandoned by the Conservative Party. We hope that all Mill Hill residents recognise that it is time to return to these values with a vote for the Liberal Democrats".


Thursday, 19 April 2018

Summer arrives in Mill Hill - Some views around town

Summer has really arrived in Mill Hill. It seems hard to believe that a month ago we were shivering in snowy conditions and wearing ten layers.
Walking around Mill Hill park, it was great to see so many people in the cafe, playing football, sunbathing. Shame about the full bins and litter, but lets not dwell on that today, lets celebrate our community.



So come on everybody, lets see your tweets of our fantastic neighbourhood.

Here's a couple of mine.



And here's a few that caught my eye.







I think I am blessed to live in Mill Hill. It is worth fighting to keep it like these.

P.S. I've signed up to support the Pesticide Free Barnet Campaign. All those lovely blooms need bees. Lets do our bit to protect them.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Getting a Good Deal for Barnet residents?

This week the Barnet Conservatives published their manifesto, claiming they will be "Getting a Good Deal". This is what their manifesto says

Click on image for more readable version
Given that the Barnet Conservatives have been running the council since 2002, we have a record to judge them against. As such it is fairly simple to see if we can trust them to get a good deal. Lets look at what they say in the first paragraph
"It is no good us paying more into the Metropolitan Police budget than any other borough while getting the fewest police officers per head in return"
To my eyes, this says that the Barnet Conservatives have managed to bungle their way to getting us the worst deal from The Mayor of any Borough in London. I was quite staggered to read that they think boasting about how bad they are at getting a deal would win votes. In the second paragraph they state
"Barnet will not spend more of your money on extra police when you have already paid for them. Labour’s Mayor owes you those officers and we will fight to see that they are delivered"
For some reason, the Barnet Conservatives have an obsession with the Mayor of London. They even passed a motion in Council labelling him an "enemy of the people". In my business career, I've done several courses, including one on negotiating. The first rule when trying to get a good deal is to build a relationship with the other party. Calling them names is guaranteed to make it as hard as possible to get a good deal. As I said at the start, we have to judge the manifesto against the record. The record shows that the Barnet Conservatives do not have the common sense to work constructively with the Mayor.

Then there is funding from the Conservative government (which has been running the country since 2010 in one form or another). How good a deal have the Barnet Conservatives been getting?
"Where a Barnet voice is required in negotiating with Government or City Hall, a
Conservative Council will not sit quietly. As it stands, direct Government funding to the boroughs is unfair; Barnet gets £200 per head whilst Camden receives £505 per head"
Sadly for the Barnet Conservatives, they can't blame the Mayor for this one. They've had eight years to get a better deal. There own manifesto demonstrates that they can't.

Then they move onto how they manage contractors. They say
"We will continue to seek good value for money and will work with
our staff and contractors to make sure Barnet gets the services it deserves."
The figures tell a different story, with huge overspending on contracts with Capita and Re.


Over £116 million in overspending since 2013. Does that demonstrate that they can get a good deal? They go on to say
"Contractors will be robustly monitored to ensure continued value for money. 
This is at odds with reality. In 2014, they sacked the staff who monitored highway repairs. The result is a plague of potholes in the Borough. Anyone who has ever employed builders will know that if you don't check the work they do, then it isn't done properly. They go on to claim
"Contingency plans will be maintained to ensure that, whatever happens in our borough, the emergency will not catch Barnet Council out."
On January 15th, following the collapse of Carillion, I sent an FOI request to Barnet Council asking whether a contingency plan existed for the collapse of Capita.  I am rather surprised to see that the page on the council website, does not note that I appealed against the response from Barnet Council and that my appeal was upheld. The response pointed to documents released on 27th February, which were over a month after my request.

It was clear from my discussions with Barnet Council that no  propercontingency plan existed on 15th January, apart from some contract provisions (that would be very hard to enforce against a bankrupt company). This email states

 Dear Mr Tichborne
I write further to our email acknowledging your request for an internal review into the handling of your request for information.

You have requested an internal review of the Council's response in relation to your request.  I have undertaken the internal review and uphold your complaint, the outcome of my review is set out below.  Your complaint is upheld in part.
The request was overlooked and not logged until 23 February 2018 for which I apologise.  The failure to log caused a delay in getting the information to you, but we did agree to backdate the date of the request to when you originally sent it as the fault was on our side so to the extent that the statutory due date was not met I uphold your complaint.

Therefore at the time the Council started processing your request, the information was held by the Council.  I can further advise that the report to PCMC summarises the contingency arrangements, as set out in the relevant contracts.  The report also describes how those arrangements would be exercised, in the event of an insolvency event.  So, in terms of the information held as at 15 th January, it would be the contracts themselves, which are already published on the council's website.
There was an undocumented, internal discussion about how the arrangements would be exercised on Monday 15 th January.  The arrangements were also discussed in June 2017, as part of the consideration of a contract pre-payment, and in December 2016, for the same reason.
Thank you for your interest in Barnet Council.
Your Rights

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:
The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

Telephone: 0303 123 1113
Website: www.ico.org.uk
I was of the opinion that this response was still insufficient.  Barnet supplied a further clarification, as you can see, getting a response is like getting blood from a stone. 

Dear Mr Tichborne
 
Further to your email requesting clarification on the points you have raised about the attached respone sent I can advise the following:
1) You state that there were discussions on the subject in Dec 2016 and June 2017. Are you seriously trying to suggest that there was no documented output from these meetings and that there were no preliminary measures put into place? Surely that would be negligent.
The documented output from those meetings was appended to the relevant Committee reports, which were published at the time.  Links are:
Performance and Contract Management Committee, 15 th November 2016 '   https://barnetintranet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=693&MId=8796  agenda item 8.
Policy and Resources Committee, 27 th June 2017 ' https://barnetintranet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=692&MId=8736  agenda item 15.
The 'preliminary measures' are those documented in the contracts and set out in the report to the Performance and Contract Management Committee on 27 th February 2018.
2) Why on earth would you have an "undocumented" meeting on January 15th? This is not credible given the issues.
Our original response refers to an 'undocumented, internal discussion', rather than to a 'meeting', i.e. it was an informal discussion between officers about arrangements that were already in place and, as such, a record of the discussion was not made.
Yours sincerely
 
 
R***** C*****
Information Management Officer
 
Commissioning Group
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP
Barnet Online: www.barnet.gov.uk
As you can quite clearly see, claiming that "contingency plans" were in place is quite misleading. The Conservative administration has been forced into action after five years (the contracts started in 2013). As far as I am concerned, not having a contingency plan for five years, to run the Borough if your main contractors goes bust, was negligent. They now have a plan in place, but it was only because bloggers etc such as myself forced them to.

We finish with the claim from the manifesto that they spend money prudently
"Above all, we will always remember that it is your money we are spending, and will do so prudently. " 
As you can see, they spend it very prudently on their allowances https://www.barnet.gov.uk/citizen-home/council-and-democracy/democracy-and-elections/currently-elected-councillors/allowances-and-expenses.html and top execs https://open.barnet.gov.uk/dataset/workforce-and-senior-salaries-2017-18

Of course Barnet Council should pay competitive salaries at market rates to attract the best talents, but if this was the case, surely we wouldn't be seeing huge overspends on contracts, Childrens services failing, the IT resilience infrastructure being rated as inadequate and we wouldn't be seeing children excluded from libraries and potholes all over our roads. As for councillor allowances, some councillors get the basic £10,000 and do nothing at all. I would like to see all councillors required to publish a monthly timesheet detailing the work they've done for their allowances. I have no issue paying allowances to councillors of any party who work hard. If they can prove it fine. It seems to me that they are not delivering value for money. The state of roads and pavements is all the evidence I need to see that.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Eight reasons why we need to end the mismanagement of Barnet Council

Where did all the Barnet jobs go?
Anyone familiar with Barnet Council and what has been happening over the last four years will know that our 'flagship' Conservative Council has created a complete mess with its one Barnet outsourcing program. You may not believe me, but there are countless press stories which document the problems. See the links below. 

Barnet Council signed a huge outsourcing contract with Capita, allegedly to save money. Figures detailing the overspend on the contract with Capita and Re show that this now has a cumilitive overspend running total of over £100 million pounds. Huge sums are being spent on agency staff. In short, the council is being run into the ground. 

The Barnet Eye and other Barnet bloggers have identified numerous issues. We have seen countless recovery plans, all of which are sticking plasters, when what we need is to deal with the root cause. That is that this current Conservative regime is completely incompetent. We need a root and branch review of the process, conducted openly. If Capita are proud of their record and believe they can demonstrate that they add value for money, they should be screaming from the rafters about how marvellous their contract is, not hiding behind "commercial confidentiality". 

Fellow blogger Mr Reasonable has published a list of questions for Thursdays audit committee meeting. This is in light of a major fraud, which will be discussed at the meeting. 

You may think that none of this is your concern. We have calculated that the overspend on the One Barnet project, detailed below equates to £300 per person living in Barnet. I don't know about you, but I think that £1,500 for our family budget (a family of five people) would make a substantial difference. My guess is that would fix all of the potholes in Barnet, sort out the problems that OFSTED found in Childrens services,  restore library services and still give you a lower tax bill. When the advert they published stated they cut council tax by £97, they neglected to say that they could have delivered all of their promises and cut it by even more if they ran the council properly.

1. 2017 audit problems http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=144&MId=9401&Ver=4 see point 8 the chairman’s comments.


3. Problems with pensions management http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=191&MId=9396&Ver=4 point 9




5. Current problems with accounts payable http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s46032/Appendix%201.pdf  pages 4 and 5

6. Planning problems identified by internal audit


7. Current figures on contract overspend as at 28 February are as follows:


8. Agency spend figures 


Figures, charts and links provided by Mr Reasonable (AKA John Dix)

Monday, 16 April 2018

Why are our local roads so much worse than in other areas?

If like me you do a lot of driving around various parts of the UK, you cannot but notice that the Roads in Mill Hill and Barnet are atrocious compared to most other Boroughs and other parts of the UK. At the weekend, we were in Burnham on Crouch in Essex. As we drove down the High Street, it was clear that whatever is going wrong with Barnet roads is not happening in Burnham. Just to prove the point, we made this video.



I was interviewed by the Barnet Borough Times last week and explained that I believe this is because in 2014 Barnet Council got rid of the staff responsible for inspecting and signing off repairs and brought in a cut price system of contractors signing off their own work.

I raised this with the Barnet Times. They interviewed Richard Cornelius, leader of Barnet Council, who blamed the recent cold weather for the pothole problems and insisted they would be repaired.

He said: “The roads were in quite good condition before the cold weather. We have four gangs out all the time repairing them at the moment. If they are reported, they do get fixed.”

Mr Cornelius said the council had been carrying out temporary repairs until the weather improved.

“Now the cold weather is over, the proper patching is taking place,” he added.

The council leader denied the problem was down to the use of private contractors and said the pothole situation in Barnet was “no better or worse” than in other boroughs.

Presumably the weather in Burnham on Crouch is no better than that in Barnet, but as you can see the roads are absoluitely fine. Blaming winter weather is clearly ridiculous, although there was a short cold spell, this was not a particularly bad year. Cllr Cornelius claims that "if potholes are reported, they get fixed". If the Lib Dems get in, we will put an end to this head in the sand reactive approach. We will ask refuse crews to identify and report potholes before they get bad enough to damage cars. I spoke to an expert in civil engineering who confirmed that the sooner you fix them, the cheaper it is and the longer the repairs last.

Voters in Mill Hill and elsewhere in Barnet can be sure of one thing. Councillor Cornelius has kindly made it quite clear that he thinks everything is marvellous and if the Conservatives are re-elected we will see more of the same. Both myself and my fellow candidate Richard Logue have a background in engineering. We will not be fobbed off by contractors who make excuses. We will make sure that a culture of doing things properly and not paying contractors until things are signed off will return. We believe that this will save money and give us better, safer roads. If it's good enough for Burnham on Crouch, it is good enough for Mill Hill and the rest of Barnet. And before anyone says this is just point scoring, the roads in Burnham on Crouch are the responsibility of Essex County Council. That is the council which Barnet had to bring in to sort out their childrens services, when OFSTED identified that they were failing. Essex County Council is a Conservative authority. I mention this, because it is quite clear to me that there are good and bad local authorities run by all shades of political party in the UK. It could not be clearer that, unlike Essex, Barnet are not capable of managing the business of council. Whatever your political persuasion, it is clear that Barnet Council needs change. We believe that only the Lib Dems have a credible program, that doesn't involve throwing money at programs or giving contractors pots of money and hoping it all works out fine.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

The Tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 15/04/22018

It's Sunday so it's that time when we look at all the finest tweets from our corner of this amazing city!

Don't forget to follow any tweeters who tickle your fancy!

1. We start with a date for your diary, live comedy from Hendon & Edgware Reform synagogue

2. Big shout out to SoundSkool and the amazing young people who performed so brilliantly at The RAF museum yesterday

3. Did you know West Hendon was a hotbed of East German spies in the cold war?

4. There was a time when the people of North Hendon had an amazing local MP. This is a great picture.

5. There was a time when Hendon FC were one of the countries top amateur clubs. We hope that those days return and it would be great to see them back in the London Borough of Barnet

6. Another date for your diary. An impromptu celebration of one of Finchleys greatest residents

7. Great live music in Finchley tonight

8. Latest sad pictures of the demolition of Underhill stadium. Another club forced out of the Borough

9. The council elections in Mill Hill have become an international news sensation!

10. We finish with some great pics from the rehearsals for the Soundskool event at the RAF museum. A flavour of the hard work that young people put in


That's all folks!

Saturday, 14 April 2018

The Saturday List #172 - My favourite Mill Hill pictures on Twitter

I've Angel pond at night!
Today is a glorious day! It feels like we've finally cast off the shackles of winter and spring is here. On days such as these, I enjoy snapping the sights of Mill Hill and tweeting them. I make no claims to be a great photographer, but I do enjoy it. 

It is interesting reviewing the pictures I've taken over the years of Mill Hill. putting this together made me realise that there are a few walks that we've negllected recently, especially around Totteridge Valley. Now the weather is getting better, it is time to get those boots back on! I hope you've enjoy these as much as I have!

1. I snapped this whilst visiting the Daughters of Charity convent on the Ridgeway for a Mill Hill day of reflection. I rather like it




2. I snapped these on one of my Mill Hill dog walkies. We are lucky to live in such a great area


3. And we have the best sky!


4. I always love to see the first signs of spring!


5. I always enjoy a good rainbow. The house in the picture is the one where John Cleese filmed his specsavers ad


6. I do rather like my garden flowers, especially in the autumn


7. You don't see a helicopter in Lyndhurst park very often, which as it was the air ambulance is a good thing


8. I rather miss Tilly the long suffering boxer!


9. Whilst fly tipping is deplorable, this particular instance at least addressed the lack of public conveniences in Mill Hill


10. Snapped today in the Broadway. A face off between the Lib Dems and the Tories!



Thats's all folks!

Friday, 13 April 2018

Farewell to Barnets sensible Tory Councillors!

On May 3rd, we will be waving goodbye to a whole stack of Councillors. Barnet is in the public eye. Yesterday, I was on BBC Radio London's Eddie Nestor show (starts at 1.17.45), talking about the forthcoming local elections. whilst we don't know who will be winning and loosing, we already know that some long standing Councillors will be departing. What has disturbed me is that nearly all of the departing Tories who have been deselected or stood down, seem to be from the sensible wing of the local Tory party (for clarification, I don't personally consider the soon to be gone Tom Davey to be in this part of the party,lovely chap that he is).

So lets have a look at some of them. I was inspired to write this, by Hugh Rayner, who tweeted to ask me to point out that he saved a football pitch in Colindale.


So here is what Hugh had to say on the video.



 Although I get on rather well with most of these sensible Tories, I thought the most appropriate way to remember them was in the words of their friend and former colleague Brian Coleman, who memorably wrote a blog about all of his ex colleagues when he was kicked out of the party. Seems that re-reading these comments from 2013, they are in a permanent state of war!

 Lets start with Hugh (Brians comments in italics).


Hugh Rayner.

Councillor Hugh Rayner (Hale Ward ) former RAF Squadron Leader elected in 2006 . Solid , dependable, reliable but somewhat naΓ―ve, he is considered a safe pair of hands  . A good Deputy Mayor ( to me ) but would not put his name in to be Mayor in 2011 as he wanted it in Olympic year , when he did so in 2012 he was surprisingly beaten by newcomer Brian Schama supposedly because Rayner as Chairman of Hendon Association had upset many of the Hendon Constituency Councillors . Was very hurt by that experience . Had a difficult relationship with Matthew Offord MP but rumours that Rayner was busy ringing round North London Conservatives seeking advise on how to deselect his MP seem to have come to nothing . A bit of a fence sitter will become Mayor in due course unless Hale Ward reverts to its former marginal status. 

Barneteye comment -  Hugh has been a sensible Tory. Reasonable chair of audit, made sure critics and bloggers got a hearing and didn't duck tough issues. As Brian stated, had issues with Matthew Offord, which to many is a sure sign of being sensible.  A critic of One Barnet from the outset. Did he jump, was he pushed? Or had he simply had enough?

Sury Khatri

Councillor Sury Khatri (Mill Hill Ward) Elected in 2010 when 16 years of Liberal dominance in Mill Hill ended. Heavy smoker who dislikes virtually every aspect of Conservative Group policy . Made a speech once in the Conservative Group in which he attacked privatisation , parking policy , One Barnet , Library closures , cuts etc and which colleagues thought was a resignation  speech but still he hangs on . Quite happy to tell anyone who asks that "One Barnet" is crazy (as he did at the Audit Committee a couple of months ago ) . Many Tory Councillors think he is barking and wonder if he will sign up to the 2014 Manifesto . Will cause problems if the Tory Administration is reelected next year with a slim majority. The Tory Councillor most likely to defect to Labour. 

Barneteye comment - Brian Coleman spells out exactly why Sury was a sensible councillor. He did sign up in 2014 and won a bigger majority. Even after deselection did not defect to Labour, which shows just how badly Brian had read Sury. In short decent, thoughtful, sensible. As to why he was deselected. He was assured by the Leader of the Tories that he was safe. Sadly for him, he'd upset a clique in the party that is angling to replace the leader with the deputy leader. I was told, off the record by a Conservative insider, that this was all to do with representing local residents concerns about loss of parking spaces in Mill Hill, which affected a pet project of one of Khatri's former Tory colleagues. Of course they are all quite busy briefing against each other, so who knows the truth. what we do know is that Cllr Khatri was quite upset. 


Joan Scannell

Councillor Joan Scannell (Edgware Ward ) Wily Old Bird first elected in 1994 and before that was a Council Officer serving as PA to the Director of Social Services amongst other things. Long time Secretary of the Conservative Group and knows where some of the bodies are buried. Stickler for the rules. Distrusted by Cornelius and actively disliked by "the boys" who see her as part of the Old Guard that has consistently hated the Cabinet system . Was an excellent Mayor. Is a survivor and I suspect will still be there long after "the boys " have all grown up and moved on .

Barneteye comment - Joan is a friend of mine. We've worked on the Mill Hill Music Festival for many years. A very sensible and solid councillor. Sadly Brian's prediction that she'd outlast "The Boys" was very wide of the mark. Her leaving comments, showed that Dan Thomas, the leader of the gang had comprehensively skewered her. This is well worth a second watch




Maureen Braun


Councillor Maureen Braun (Hendon Ward ) Elected in 1998 having previously served 4 years on Camden Council where famously she had a bag of soot thrown over her during a Poll Tax setting debate, now that was proper Politics ! . Loyal to Lynne Hillan and implacable supporter during the Salinger coup had a long term rivalry with Eva Greenspan over the Mayoralty and positions on planning . Has become the target of accusations from the "boys " that she rests her eyes at meetings. 

Barneteye comment - Braun was the Tory who broke rank and saved the Mapledown Special School afterschool and respite care, with the famous words "If we are not here to protect the parents of disabled children, what are we here for". I don't get in with Maureen, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I admired her stand and comments. She was done for from the minute she shafted Reuben Thompstone at that meeting. 

Helena Hart.

Councillor Helena Hart (Edgware Ward) Huge admirer (some would say clone) of the beloved Margaret Thatcher she has become the acknowledged expert on Health . Loyal to Mike Freer he brought her into the Cabinet in 2006 as a reward for her support against Salinger in the coup and because the Group was short of competent women . Would have made a good MP but her heyday in the mid nineties was the time of the Conservative Party's lowest fortune. Hates rows and usually tries to keep a low profile ( less generous colleagues suggest she has a lot of splinters in her nether regions from sitting on too many fences ) Loyal to Lynne Hillan to the end she would make an excellent Mayor but has turned the job down several times 

Barneteye comment - Unlike most of the others, had had enough and knew when it was time to go. She was sensible and efficient. I suspect that the group will be weaker without her input.

Brian Salinger,

Councillor Brian Salinger (Oakleigh Ward) now 65 served since 1986 with four years on Haringey before that . Had an unpleasant skirmish with the Local Government Ombudsman ( before the Standards Committee was ever invented ) in the late 80s over a planning application . Has never recovered from losing the Council and Group Leadership after the 2006 local elections in a coup organised by the late great Lynne Hillan  and others (including me ) which has lead to a long "Ted Heath " like sulk . Whilst Leader was nicknamed by the Officers "Dr Strangelove " (remember Peter Sellers played all the parts ) after his Leadership was nicknamed "Napoleon" , because he had been a very short leader .
Still thinks he will be summoned back from the wilderness (voted against "One Barnet" in the Conservative Group) but was shocked this year when he was well beaten (by Cllr Melvin Cohen )  in the internal Conservative ballot to be Mayor this year. Yes there is a Conservative Councillor more unpopular than me . 

Barneteye comment - The rumour had it that Brian Salinger let it be known that he'd not go until he'd served a term as Mayor. By all accounts this is why the Tory group finally relented and gave him the job. It rather seems to me that for the Tories, being Mayor is the pinnacle of a career. As Coleman mentioned, Salinger was a One Barnet Sceptic, which clearly marks him out as sensible.

Graham Old

Councillor Graham Old (Church End Ward ) Another nice guy who has been around politically a long time . Served on Merton Council with Theresa May but best known for losing in Hale Ward in 1994 which handed Barnet to the Lib/ Lab coalition . Nicknamed by one senior Barnet Tory as the "Councillor for Narnia " because he is so far back in the closet . Hates the infighting since he came on in 2010 but is no Brian Salinger fan . Nice , certainly not stupid , hardworking but sadly a bit wet .

Barneteye comment - I can't say I really know Graham Old, but Julia Hines, who's judgement I trust, assures me he's honest, decent, hardworking and sensible. 

Bridget Perry

Councillor Bridget Perry (High Barnet Ward) failed in her initial attempt to get elected at the 2005 High Barnet by election but successfully fought off a Liberal challenge in 2006 . Enjoying being Deputy Mayor having been shafted last year by Kate Salinger. Hard working Ward member genuinely popular in High Barnet with a history of voluntary work with the girl guides. Brighter than she looks and underestimate her at your peril. A rarity in Barnet Conservative Politics in not being interested in high office and having a sense of loyalty, consequently looked down on and patronised by "the boys" .

Barneteye comment - Another councillor I don't really know. Joan Scannell tells me that she's a decent sort and quite sensible. 















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Thursday, 12 April 2018

Barnet Tories credibility under threat from huge fraud scandal at Barnet Council

It looks like a huge fraud scandal is about to break out at Barnet Council. Papers examined by Barnet Blogger John Dix reveal that there is a secret investigation going on into a massive fraud.



John Dix also notes that after five years of the One Barnet outsourcing BACS processing is also experiencing serious problems. It looks like next week's audit committee meeting might be quite "interesting"


Watch this space.