Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Captain Useless speaks !!!!

Cabinet Member for Investment in Learning, Councillor Matthew Offord said:“Dolls’ houses are not only children’s toys but offer an interesting insight into past architecture and furnishings."

Must be where he got the idea for all the rabbit hutch flats.

Read the full story here



(actually the Church Farmhouse museum in Hendon is great, so check out their exhibition of toys)

Barnet Eye goes Global

Thought you might be interested to see where all my visitors today came from. Welcome to the family. Hope you found something you liked !

Your local MP - Value for Money?

Our local Barnet MP's have published their full expenses. Now why London MP's need a second home is clearly a big bone of contention. I cannot possibly support this, although to be fair to Rudi Vis, he is retiring & his family have moved to Suffolk. Having said that, if he was in any other line of business he'd have to pay out of his own pocket.

What I've noticed from the figures is how similar all of the amounts are. (ie wages, office costs). This leads me to ask the question, are the wages a true reflection of the value of the staff or do they get the allowance and then figure out how to spend it?

I guess that some MP's will just give the money to their spouse or other close relative, whilst some will employ professional researchers and competent secretaries. I've had dealings with my MP, Andrew Dismore over the years. He prides himself on being hard working and conscienscious. I recently had to ask him to intervene on behalf of my ex business partners widow, who was being threatened with eviction by Barnet Council. He certainly gave her much worthwhile assistance and help. She speaks very highly of him. Being a Labour party member, I sometimes put his leaflets through local doors, so I guess I'd say in a horribly flawed system, he does a good job.

As for Rudi Vis and Theresa Villiers, having not had the pleasure, I couldn't really say how good or badly they do. I'd like to see MP's produce some sort of report as to their caseload. I'd also like to see how many people they help and how satisfied those people are. They give stationary costs, but I'd like to see how this is broken down. Could they send more emails?

Here are some changes I'd make if I was Gordon Brown or David Cameron.

1. All staff employed by MP's must be vetted by a Commons HR department to ensure that they are adequately qualified. Their salaries must reflect an appropriate civil service grade.

2. As with London Assembly members, all London MP's should be given a free Travelcard for London Travel. Any MP travelling (with good reason) between 10pm and 7am can claim milage or a taxi.

3. London MP's can claim overnight hotel expenses if it can be justified.

4. MP's can claim rail travel for long distance meetings in UK and connecting Taxi (in exceptional circumstances air travel).

5. Recalculate MP's salary to truly reflect their workload & responsibility. Set all future raises at the RPI with a 7 yearly review.

MP's with an average journey time of more than 1 hour each way, will be provided with a Government supplied flat free of charge. This will be owned and managed by the House of Commons and relinquished upon loss of seat. MP's will receive a moderate allowance for fixtures and furnishings.

Let's be realistic, non partisan and honest. We all want our MP's, whatever the party to be honest and decent people. The system we have encourages poor behaviour. This cannot be right. I am sure that when all MP's were initially selected they put their name's in the ring for the right reasons. They should get back to that. Gordon Brown is paying a heavy price for the current system, which he didn't invent. It is in his, David Cameron's and members in generals interest to reform the system, make it fair, transparent and honest. Through my work, I've met many MP's of all parties and I'd be dishonest if I said they struck me as terrible people (with one or two notable exceptions). I just think they need a system which doesn't have so much clear opportunity for abuse.


(please note these figures do not include the MP's salary).

FULL EXPENSES, 2007-2008

Andrew Dismore, MP for Hendon (Lab):

  • Second home allowance - £3,815
  • Office running costs - £21,377
  • Staffing costs - £90,459
  • Centrally purchased stationery - £752
  • Stationery associated postage costs - £6.205
  • Central IT provision - £1,265
  • Staff cover & other costs - £0
  • Commons allowance - £9,930
  • Mileage (between home, constituency, Westminster) - £2,144
  • Travel (Europe) - £1,419

TOTAL: £137,366

Theresa Villers, MP for Chipping Barnet (Con):

  • Second home allowance - £18,181
  • Office running costs - £21.096
  • Staffing costs - £84,892
  • Centrally purchased stationery - £1,904
  • Stationery associated postage costs - £4,965
  • Central IT provision - £1,385
  • Commons allowance - £7,558
  • Mileage (between home, constituency, Westminster) - £1,261
  • Rail (between home, constituency, Westminster) - £33
  • Misc - £118
  • Mileage (other) - £82
  • Rail (other) - £1,221

TOTAL: £142,696

Rudi Vis, MP for Finchley and Golders Green (Lab):

  • Second home allowance - £23,083
  • Office running costs - £21,328
  • Staffing costs - £88,910
  • Centrally purchased stationery - £1,904
  • Stationery associated postage costs - £4,965
  • Central IT provision - £1,385
  • Commons allowance - £9,390
  • Mileage (between home, constituency, Westminster) - £5,292
  • Travel (Europe) - £613

TOTAL: £133,200

Monday, 30 March 2009

David Cameron's Neil Kinnock moment?






David Cameron, the new Neil Kinnock?











Believe it or not, one of my best friends is a quite senior member of a South London Conservative Party. We regularly go for a beer & a curry and have many a fine discussion about all manner of issues. During our last evening of merriment the subject of David Cameron's election chances came up. His assessment? Camerons biggest worry is having a Neil Kinnock moment. Some of you will remember that in the run up to the 1992 election, it was generally accepted that Kinnock would beat John Major. The Tories had made a hash of the economy and Kinnock was riding high at the polls.

Kinnock decided that he'd have a pre election victory rally at Sheffield (no it wasn't called that, but that is how it looked). All of a sudden, he looked smug, complacent and out of touch. I saw this report on Sky News and wondered whether Cameron's Kinnock moment had arrived.

The report says :-

Speaking on GMTV, the Conservative leader said he believed Ms Smith had "questions to answer" about her reported claim of at least £116,000 in second home allowances on her Redditch family home while listing a London flat she shares with her sister as her main home.

But asked if she should resign following the revelations at the weekend, he said: "I do not think this individual thing is the issue."


I was amazed that Cameron said this. He has a fantastic opportunity to sort the system out, clean up parliament and make the politicians behave in the way the man on the street expects. Now if Mr Smith wants to watch porn while his wife is away, who cares? But to be subsided by the taxpayer is a different matter. His wife is the Home Secretary. She runs the legal system. She's paid a kings ransom to do the job. The least she should do is check her expenses. I had a mate who went to prison because he was caught fiddling the dole for a few quid. How can she sit in judgement when she's been up to it herself. My friend got a very harsh (considering the amount which was very small) sentence as he was trained as an accountant. The judge said that in his position he should have known better.

I don't want to see Mr or Mrs Smith go to prison. Having said that, Cameron has given the impression that he doesn't care about low level fiddling. Not only that but he's in effect saying that while it's wrong for dole cheats to fiddle a couple of quid, it's OK for politicians.

Most worryingly, for a man who wants to become the next Prime Minister, he's shown lousy political judgement. In football terms, he's missed an open goal from 2 yards out. I've no idea whether this will be Camerons Kinnock moment, but from where I am sitting he didn't look like Prime Minister material today. With both Brown and Cameron looking like indecisive ditherers, the public may well choose to be safe and stick with the indecisive ditherer they know, just like they did with John Major.

Barnets most sensible Tory !

I have a radical suggestion for the Barnet Conservatives. One which will transform their policies and cut the tax bill to all residents, in the process making them massively popular. The cuts will not affect popular services such as the warden service for sheltered accomodation and will not alienate vast swathes of the electorate. All they will be doing is applying traditional sensible Conservative policies in a manner designed to help everyone in the borough. Now normally I would refrain from doing anything to help the Tories, but if the current bunch of crackpots who are in charge go on for much longer, I shudder to think of the consequences. When the first old lady who's sheltered accomodation warder has been dismissed dies, I won't be sitting there smugly, saying "told you so" I'll be weeping with impotent rage. That is why I'm prepared to give the Tories a way out.

Councillor Richard Weider, councillor for Edgware ward has resigned. There will be a byelection in June. This presents the Tories with an opportunity to get in someone who can do the job properly. They have the opportunity to appoint someone who knows what waste there is in the council and what to do about it. I think there can only be one candidiate. David Miller, who runs the Barnet Council watch blog is the ideal man. Today David published his 100th blog. I've read every single one of them. I don't agree with David's wider political views, but he's

a) Very Courageous, unlike his Tory opponents who won't put a name on their criticisms.
b) Very Meticulous, if like me you've read every word of his blogs, you'd know he gets detail.
c) Very Honest, he tells the truth about the council.

Not only that, but he has a plan to get Barnet finances back on track without killing old dears. I have long berated Mike Freer and Matthew Offord for lacking leadership skills. They have a golden opportunity. Make David Miller the candidate and announce that when he wins you'll immediately appoint him leader and back every decision he makes.

One last question you may want to know. Would I personally vote for him? Nope. I'd vote Labour, but then I'm a swivel eye'd Trotskyite Looney ! If however you are a sensible Tory and you care about Barnet, you really should.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Harry Cohen is a disgrace


Just been reading about Labour MP Harry Cohen claiming £300,000 for a second home.

Cohen told the Press Association that the arrangement had been cleared with the House of Commons authorities. He said that the former Conservative minister John Moore had told MPs "go out boys and spend it" when he introduced a big uprating of the allowance in the 1980s to head off a pay revolt by backbench Tories. Quite sickening really.

As far as I'm concerned, MP's should try and set some sort of example. The likes of Cohen bring them into disrepute. I recall Hazel Blears comments that bloggers were damaging the political process. Maybe she should look a bit closer to home.

David Cameron has been strangely silent on this issue. It may not make his exisiting backbenchers too happy, but he really should show some moral courage on this issue. That would force Gordon Browns hand.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Carbona Not Glue

It's Caroline's fault I am this way
Mom and Dad want to put me away
From the early, early morning to the late, late show
When it's over there's nowhere to go



June 6th 1977, I saw the Ramones, Talking Heads and the Saints at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm. My life changed & I suddenly got music. More than that, I got a life! I got a guitar and I got a band. My sister Caroline had a spare ticket and dragged me along. My mum warned her that if I turned into a wrong 'un, it would all be her fault. This clip was made less than a month later. It sent shivers down my spine to see it. They really were the world's greatest live band and I guess I saw them 20 or 30 times.

Shortly after I bought Leave Home by the Ramones. Carbona Not Glue was my favourite track and I used to sing the above lyrics to my Dad to annoy him (and stay out of thumping distance). I turned my best mate Dermot on to the Ramones as well. He asked me to get him the album which I did. When we played his new copy, guess what? Carbona had gone, to be replaced by the drippy track "Babysitter". I asked big sis what was going on. She replied that a Tory MP had kicked up a fuss so it had been banned. To this day I've never forgiven the Conservative Party. Dee Dee Ramone said in one interview that he couldn't believe an elected politician would be so stupid to see that it wasn't satirical. He said that anyone stupid enough to sniff cockroach spray, wouldn't be influenced by the Ramones. I agreed with his view that Ramones fans are the highest, not the lowest form of human life !

Anyway, as my music career has gone from strength to strength and the studios see the likes of Amy Winehouse, Kate Nash, The Damned, The Beautiful South etc pass through, she reckons that by my mum's reckoning, I owe her my fortune as it's all her fault.

Anyway, the moral of this story? Beware of Tories pretending to like the Ramones. They banned Carbona ! I've loved this track for 32 years and I've not turned to the gluepot or the roachspray yet.

Just for the record, here's the real lyrics.


Carbona Not Glue

Wondering what I'm doing tonight I've been in the closet and feel all right

Ran out of Carbona Mom threw out the glue
Ran out of paint and roach spray too It's TV's fault why I am this way

Mom and pop wanna put me away
From the early morning movie to the late late show
After it's over nowhere to go And I'm not sorry for the things I do

My brain is stuck from shooting glue I'm not sorry for the things I do

Carbona not glue

50 reasons to be proud to be British

It's about time we reclaimed the Union flag from those who seek to use it as a symbol of division. Here's 50 good reasons why I'm proud that I was born and bred in Great Britain (in no particular order).

1. The role of former Mill Hill resident William Wilberforce in the abolition of the slave trade.

2. The role of Great Britain in the defeat of the German Nazi ideology.

3. The role of Great Britain in the defeat of the Italian Facist Ideology.

4. The invention of football.

5. The invention of cricket.

6. Real Ale.

7. Brick Lane.

8. The success of the GB Olympic team, especially Rebecca Adlington.

9. The NHS.

10. The Clash.

11. Bob Marley's 1973 Live at Hammersmith album.

12. Rock Against Racism

13. Thunderbirds

14. The E Type Jag

15. Ealing Comedy

16. Sir Isaac Newton

16. The engineering feats of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

17. The worlds most beautiful train station - St Pancras.

18. Free education.

19. The writings of George Orwell.

20. John Barnes goal against Brazil.

21. Brian Clough

22. The fact that the Championship is the 4th most watched football league in the world.

23. Band Aid & it's children (live aid etc).

24. The Pogues.

25. Misty in Roots

26. The Mill Hill Tandoori Restaurant.

27. The campaign for fair treatment of the Gurkha's.

28. The FA Cup.

29. The Battle of Cable Street.

30. Abbey Road Studios.

31. The Marquee club.

32. Fullers pubs.

33. The Planes in the RAF museum in Hendon.

34. St Pauls Cathedral.

35. The Notting Hill Carnival.

36. Fish and Chips at the seaside.

37. The affection for Bert Truatman OBE.

38. Dr Who.

39. Alexander Fleming

40. Linton Kwesi Johnson.

41. Sir Frank Whittle.

42. Match of the Day.

43. The Robert Elms show.

44. Florence Nightingale.

45. Walter Tull.

46. The National Gallery.

47. The NFT.

48. Great Ormond Street Hospital.

49. The Teenage Cancer Trust & MacMillan Cancer relief.

50. The North London Hospice.

I could have done 5000, let alone 50 (apologies to William Shakespeare et all). I believe that every single one of the items/ people I've mentioned has in some way, shape or form made the world a better place. In my book, that is reason to be proud. If the only things that something/someone achieve are hurt/ heartache/ pain/ violence and negativity, then I'm sorry to say that in my world they are a waste of space. All of the things above are British, they've made the world better, they make this country great. Any ideology that would remove any of them from the list is, in my opinion, Anti British and dangerous. To my mind you can only be a patriotic Brit if you appreciate the value of them (OK - under pressure from Mrs T (The wife not the Tory Blogger), I may let you off my Music tastes, Real Ale & the Football related entries but you are missing out big time !).

Friday, 27 March 2009

God Bless the Pope - a local Tory talks sense

It is always refreshing to hear some common sense. When it comes from an unexpected quarter, it is even better. We live in a democracy. We cherish our freedom, yet today in 2009, we still have state sponsored religious bigotary. This is totally unacceptable. We have a sexist constitution. Do you think Queen Elizabeth 1st & 2nd & Queen Victoria were/are successful Monarchs? If any of them had a younger brother or had married a Roman Catholic they would be barred from the job. Now I disagree with the principle of Monarchy, but if we have to have it, lets at least make it non sexist & non secretarian.

In years gone by, the Northern Irish situation would have been resolved by Prince William marrying a nice Irish girl. Now I wouldn't wish that on anyone, but if he wanted to, why shouldn't he. We have an established Church. I have no problem with the Church of England. I'm a Roman Catholic, but I think all religion is a personal issue. It is completely wrong to let any religion get it's fingers into the wheels of political power. In actual fact, I think it diminishes the message of faith. St Pauls Cathedral is one of my favourite buildings in London. Wren was a genius, but all the dead soldiers tombs make it very hard for me personally to talk to God in such an environment. Wren himself didn't want tombs there.

Anyway, I'd just like to say that I agree with the views of the Tory Candidate for West Harrow, Dr Rachel Joyce on this. Don't agree with her on too much else, but credit where credit is due. We need dragging into the 21st Century and her idea of a referendum on the role of the Church of England is a good one.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

BNP - Stealing our honour and memories


The picture to the right is taken from the Australian war memorial website. The caption reads :-

Italy. c. April 1944. Sergeant Jack Rae of Welshpool, WA, NCO in charge of the RAAF Mobile Officer's shop in Italy, is seen here endeavouring to supply Pilot Officer A. T. Duff of Woollahra, NSW, one of the shortest officers in the RAAF (5 feet 1 inch) with a pair of slacks. Flying Officer L. F. Tichborne of Charters Towers, Qld, looks on in amusement. Both officers are serving with an RAF bombers squadron in Italy.

The officer in the middle was my dad. I documented his experiences for remembrance day in a previous blog. The reason I've revisited this, is this BNP blog (click & hold your nose). My father flew Wellington bombers, as featured in the picture on Darby's blog. My father lost his best friend when he was shot down on his 40th op over Bucharest. For all you, me or Simon Darby know, he could be flying one of the planes pictured in his facist blog. In the picture my Dad is smiling. If he thought that he or his comrades bravery would be hijacked by the British successors to the people they sacrificed so much to fight, he'd be turning in his grave. I am truly disgusted by the way the BNP use these images. We were fighting the Nazi's for gods sake !!!!

Spying on the naked guy


Lets do a bit of nostalgia. Lets look back on those heady days of last month when it snowed and the borough ground to a halt. I asked my kids whether they remembered it. They grinned. What was the best bit, I asked Matthew, my 8 year old. "The snowball fight with Max (his cousin) and the naked guy". I asked Lizzie 11, the same question. I got the same answer. We had a great snowball fight in the middle of Mill Hill Broadway. I'd hitched our boxer dog to our sledge and she'd towed the kids to the park and back, after tackling Mill Hill's most prized black ski run. Then we'd gone to Leyla's Turkish restaurant for a long and boozy lunch. During the course of lunch, one of the kids noticed a naked guy in the flats above Nat West dropping snowballs on unsuspecting shoppers. This provided much entertainment, especially when his girlfriend joined in the fun. I suspect that they were as unaware of the amusement they were providing us, as the shoppers were of the source of the snowballs. In case you were wondering, the height of the window preserved his modesty.

For us, we turned it into a truly memorable family day. The fact that nothing was moving, most of the shops were shut and all the kids were off school only added to the fun. So why do I mention it. Well if you read the latest edition of Barnet First, the councils magazine, it seems that the council kept everything running like clockwork?

It reminds me of the Soviet newspaper "Pravda" in the days of Breshnev. My wife studied Russian at Uni and we travelled a fair few times to the USSR before it collapsed. One of our friends ran a pirate radio station in Minsk. Even playing a bit of decent music was subversive then. I invited Igor over to the UK. When he arrived, I took him down to Budgens in Mill Hill Broadway. As we walked around he pronounced "It's so depressing". I replied "It's not that bad". He wasn't referring to the state of the shop. He was commenting on the fact that the shelves were full. It was becoming clear to him that the picture of the west painted by Pravda (which means Truth in Russian) was anything but honest.

I was at a meeting of the Barnet Community Action group last night. One of the subjects we discussed was future shape. Apparently the seventh principle is democratic accountability. This would be easy to achieve. Give the people of Barnet a referendum on whether they want full scale privatisation of the council. If they won, they'd have a mandate and us malcontents would have to shut up! Trouble is, if they can't even tell the truth about a bit of snow, that everyone with eyes could see, what hope is there for an honest and open debate.

Brian Clough

Not an easy day for me. So I'll talk about the best bit !
I've been looking forward to the ITV documentary all week about Brian Clough. For those of you that don't know of Mr Clough, he was the greatest football manager ever. Now I know that supporters of certain other outfits may disagree, but what Clough did with Derby & Nottingham Forest is unlikely ever to be surpassed. I was at the age where football was 1st last and everything when Clough was in his pomp. Forget the later years, I started being interested in Football around 1968. Clough was then a young manager out to make a name for himself. Celtic won the Europea Cup in 1967, the first British club to do so. I don't really remember much apart from my older brother Frank being rather impressed. As 1968 rolled on, Frank got more excited as his team, league champions, rolled towards the European final. One balmy spring day, my brother asked me which team I supported. I said I didn't know. I asked him who I should support. Now I used to think the world of my big brother, I still do. He replied "Manchester United, they are the champions and they are playing Man City today. If they win, they'll be champions again and then win the European cup". I said "great, I'm a Man United fan". The following day I asked him the result. "City won 3-1" he replied glumly. I was outraged "You told me United were the best. You said they'd win the league" I ranted. I asked who will win the league now? Frank replied "Probably City". I triumphantly proclaimed "Then I'm a City fan". So much for glory hunting ! I'm still a City fan, Frank is still a United fan and we still love each other.

Now I said this so that you all know my colours. I know old red nose (Sir Alex) has one or two trophies in his cupboard. He's not done too badly at the worlds richest club. The point is Cloughie had nothing. No money, no infrastructure, just talent. He won because he was good. These days the realistic aim of a club half way up the championship is survival in the Premiership. Clough won the league at Derby, did the same at Forest, then won the european cup, retaining it the year after. A red said to me "Oh, it was easier then". Well then you had to win the league. Finishing 4th got you into the UEFA cup.

Watching the documentary reminded me how lucky I was to live through the 60's & 70's. I still remember sitting in Linda Finlay (my sisters best friend) kitchen, waiting to hear Penny Lane by the Beatles have it's first radio play. Can you imagine two teenage girls listening in silence for three minutes in this day and age to the radio.

Muhammed Ali was also on the Clough documentary. I remember when the whole country had their sleep pattern changed to watch Ali fight. My Dad would give a running commentary. My dad loved Ali. He recoginised a boxing genius. He'd tell me that I must savour Ali as I'd never see the like again. He was right. I once asked him why Ali went to jail. He replied "Same reason as Jesus. He believed". My Dad was a redneck Aussie in many ways, but he understood respect and courage.

Watching Cloughie was great. I just feel lucky to have been around when he was at the top of his game. I remember cheering when Francis scored against Malmo. I remember the following year, walking round to my friend David Clancy's to watch the final. Mill Hill broadway was flooded so I had to walk around Bunns Lane and missed the first 10 minutes. Thanks Brian, wherever you are !

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Sheltered Housing - Update

Thanks to those of you who forwarded responses from Councillors regarding Sheltered Housing. I have one observation/comment - it seems that some of our councillors do not understand the difference between vulnerability and disability. It is clear to me that they don't understand that it is good to get arrangements in place before things go wrong, to allow people to enjoy a fullfilling life in their sunset years - not unreasonable after a lifetime of paying taxes. I'd suggest that maybe some of our more sensible and senior councillors have a quiet word with some of these younger whippersnappers and share a little life experience before they end up making themselves look heartless, stupid and out of their depth.

I'm not normally one to help the Conservative party, but given the importance of the issue, I'll make an exception. Please do yourself a favour and think again on this issue. Lots of people in Barnet have elderly friends and relatives in sheltered accomodation. When the wardens are withdrawn and problems start to be reported in the press, you may well find a huge backlash. Trust me, people will know who to blame at the ballot box.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Sheltered Housing

If you read one blog I write this year, make it this one. This is really important.
The consultation period for Barnet's cuts to sheltered housing closes on 31st March.

If you :-

a) Hate vulnerable elderly people and hope they are left lonely and Isolated
b) Think 25p a week is too much to spend to keep our senior citizens safe
c) Don't care that many elderly people are suffering stress and panic attacks as they contemplate life without their trusted wardens

Then don't click this link, don't select your local councillor and don't send them an email saying you are disgusted at these cuts. Of course if you do care, then it will take you approx 2 minutes to do this. If enough people send emails/letters/knock on their doors, then they might actually listen. It will cost you nothing.

Just cut and paste this text into your email, if you can't find the words to express your feelings
-----
You are my local councillor. As such I urge you to oppose the cuts to the sheltered housing service in Barnet. Please stop this cruel policy which affects the most vulnerable people in Barnet.
-----

Can I also ask you to do one other thing. I can't stop this on my own. We need Barnet Council to listen. They will only do this if there is a mass campaign. Please copy a link to this page and email all your local friends. Ask them to read this blog page and if they agree with it take 2 minutes to also send an email. On average councillors get approx 10 emails for any issue. If they get a couple of hundred or a couple of thousand they will have to take note. There is an election next year so they are far more likely to listen. Please join this campaign.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Friends of Freer Exposed - All round to Mike's for a party !!!!!!!

Regular blog readers will know that I found that the Friends of Freer (Amanda, Do Call Me Dave, etc) all left messages on my blog within a short period using the same IP address (ie the same Computer). I challenged them to come clean or I would expose them and set a seven day period. Well guess what. One of the Friends has left an explanation. Strangely enough from a different IP address on my original blog - Friends of Freer exposed as Cheats

Mrs T said...

Doesn't it ever occur to you that maybe when friends get together and want to all leave posts, they may use the same computer? Oh, I don't suppose you have any friends so you wouldn't know

Well, I suppose it's possible? I suppose it could be a valid explanation. Lots of people all getting together in the middle of a work day for a blogging party? You couldn't make that up, could you?

I'll leave it to you to be the judge. Do the Friends of Freer have blogging parties? I suppose it might be that is where Mike came up with the idea of one handed blogging? It certainly never occurred to me before he mentioned it?

It must be something to do with being a Punk rocker, but I actually admire the bare faced gall of this comment and think it's quite funny. As such, I've decided to sit on my evidence for a few days, as I suspect that it will come in quite useful sometime soon.

Living with back pain


Nearly 5 million working days per year are lost because of back pain/injury. Many people are unable to work in the career of their choice due to this problem. I know all about this. I suffered a stress fracture in my L2 vertebrae in a car accident i 1988 and have had problems ever since. About 3 years ago, this problem got to the point where I had to do something. Occasional trips to the Osteopath brought temporary relief, but there was a definite deterioration. A trip to the specialist and an MRI scan brought bad news. It seems that I'd have to have an operation and be laid up for 3 months. Now being self employed, this was a problem. I said this to the specialist, who replied that most people who had this problem, as show by the MRI were begging him to do the op immediately. I said that it was bad, but not that bad. He recommended a course of physiotherapy to see if it could be relieved by this. His words were "It probably won't make much difference, but if you can manage, it may help for a while". Anyway, I duly booked in to see the physio, who felt that she could help. Amazingly enough, after a single session, I walked out without pain for the first time in years. She'd managed, by stretching & massage to relieve the pressure on the nerve. Although the effects were temporary, it was a fantastic experience to be pain free. Like taking the finest recreational drug. I felt a real high.

More physio and some advice from Julie, my physio. She said "Loose some weight and do more exercise". Now I'm 6'1" and at the time weighed 17 1/2 stone. Although I've always played 5 a side football once a week, I realised I'd got out of shape. I joined a gym and started a new regime. I now go 3/4 times a week and do one of the following - warm up - stretches and 200 ab crunches, followed by either - 10km row (approx 40 mins) or 2km row (7.45 mins) & 14Km cycle (25 mins). On a friday I do a yoga class. Since then my weight has dropped to 15 3/4 stone. My back is still occasionally painful, but is managable and I can relieve it with various stretches. Recently I had a problem with the upper back and went to see the Oesteopath (Dominic Eglinton - highly recommended).

After sorting out the upper back problem, he commented how much better the lower back seemed and how much more flexible the spine generally seemed. He asked what I'd been doing. His verdict? If all his customers did this he'd go out of business. I'm a bit unlucky as I can't take Ibuprofen which would relieve much of the problems I have. The specialist still thinks that at some point in the next 5-10 years, I'll be in begging for the operation. I intend to do my damnedest to prove him wrong.

Friday, 20 March 2009

A Vote of Confidence for Mike Freer


Those of you familiar with the world of Football will know that when a manager is in trouble, it is customary for the board to give him a "Vote of Confidence". Can I be the first to say it is high time that Mike's fellow Conservative's in Barnet really should contact the press and give him a public vote of confidence.

Barnet Eye weekly round up

A few stories caught my eye. The first one was about a 102 year old woman living in North Finchley who was burgled. The type of cowardly scumbag who perpetrates this sort of crime revolt me. Now generally I'm very liberal, but in these cases I'd like to see these scumbags put in the stocks. The police and CPP don't seem to take these sort of incidents seriously (unless someone is killed in the process, sometimes by the home owner). I'd like to see at least the same amount of effort put into solving this as they do into speeding offences and other traffic violations, where the whole country is covered in cameras. Tell me this, if speeding is dangerous, how come the Police think it's OK if they do it?

On a happier note, five of our local young swimmers were were competing at the British Championships in Sheffield, against the likes of Rebecca Adlington. I must confess a vested interest as my daughter was one of them. They all did well and the experience will stand them in good stead for the future.

It seems that Barnet isn't the only place where Porkies & snouts in the trough is a story. It seems that a litter of Porkers are looking for a new home in Potters Bar. When we were growing up, my Dad told me of how he once had a pet pig growing up in Austrailia. He said that they are cleverer than dogs and it was great company. He regaled us with stories of it's tricks. We asked what happened to Percy? He said "That's the best bit, we roasted him for Chistmas". Tears all round. It seems that us Townies don't get country ways.

One last story that really worries me. The proliferation of Cannabis farms in Barnet. I've got very liberal views on drugs, but I am disturbed by the use of systemic pesticides in these factories to control pests. In years to come we'll have a massive price to pay with cancers and other illnesses. When you smoke farmed skunk, you are inhaling dangerously toxic weed killers. This is the only that it is possible to grow these crops so intensively. Please be careful

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Boris on the Buses - a pictorial tour (with words)!


Now what funky policy can I come up with to beat that dastardly Red Kenneth of Livingstone? He's a tricky character










"I know, I'll start a campaign to bring back those lovely old London buses that I used to see from the Bentley when Daddy brought me up to London"
















"Only trouble is they are a bit cramped and uncomfy and there's no first class lounge or stewardess service"













"Even those horrible bendy buses have more legroom"









"And you have to wait at one of those horrible bus stop thingy's with all sorts of undesirables" "Erm, this is a bus stop isn't it"






"Well we'll promise them this, the bus of the future, no expense spared"












"But if they end up with this, they'll be lucky, after all, her highness Lady T said any man over 25 years of age on a bus is a failure"

Barnet's New CEO not worried about Council's Investments

If you were the CEO of a London Borough, new to the job, would you try and make a good impression with the people paying your wages (us)? If your council had just found out that over 90% of it's investments had been made without following the council's own rules and a senior member of staff had walked the plank for it, would you think it was sensitive issue? If the council leader had reported that your officials had repeatedly lied to him, would you be worried?

I was amazed to read this report in the Barnet Press. Nick Walkley says he was "not worried specifically" about any of the council's other investments. He also says that he's launching an "internal investigation". I can't believe he's not worried. He was previously the head of resources (the department that lost the money), so he should be. As to the "internal investigation", Council leader Freer said there would be an external investigation, so now we have two investigations.

I've read two reports from Mr Walkley now. Both ask more questions than they answer. Nothing so far has reassured me that he is taking this seriously.

Well Mr Walkley may not be worried, the rest of us most certainly are.

Sheltered housing - The political price for the Tories in Barnet

If you are a Barnet Tory, read this article from The Hendon Times. This is the political price to be paid for abolishing sheltered housing. Between now and the next election you will read many more pieces like this written by your Labour and Lib Dem opponents. I can tell you this, as your plans affect many vulnerable people, you will alienate many of your natural supporters. Read this article very carefully and think. The one thing the British hate is unfairness and everyone I've spoken to thinks this scheme is awful. Councillors Offord, Freer and Hillan could well find that this policy is the final nail in the coffin of their aspirations if they insist on continuing with it.

Barnet's Dream Team - The new Stan Laurel


"That's another fine mess you've got me into". After searching far and wide, those clever casting directors have found the perfect Stan Laurel to complete the mayoral team. Those of us lucky enough to be at the Hendon residents forum will know that Councillor Hugh Rayner will be the new deputy mayor.

Not only is Councillor Rayner a dead ringer for Stan Laurel, he also has his deadpan comic timing down to a tee. During the discussion about the appalling state of the football pitches at Burnt Oak leisure centre, Councillor Rayner interjected to say "I often use the leisure centre, it's fantastic". I replied "Do you ever go round the back to look at the pitches". With perfect timing Stanley replied "No". That wily old fox of a chairman Councillor John Hart saw that Stanley was taking aim at his other foot and stepped in to rescue him, cutting across with "Watling Boys club, marvellous, I used to be the President". For a second I thought he meant that he ran the USA prior to Richard Nixon, then I realised that the moment was gone and Stanley's foot would live to walk another day.

Now don't get me wrong. Councillor Rayner is a fine chap. Very hard working, always turns up to the Residents forum. He is also very pleasant and personable. He has the good sense to be a customer of mine buying many items from my music shop. He doesn't have the arrogant condescending air of one or two of the councillors I could name. If you met him in the pub or cricket club, you could strike up a conversation about how sad the demise of green doors in Barnet is, or whether Hendon ad Edgware Cricket club need a better spin bowler, without even realising he's a councillor. I'm sure that he'll do a fine job presenting Old ladies with their telegram from the Queen on their hundredth birthday, so I'm not criticising him.

I'm just saying that he really reminds me of Stan Laurel and in the circumstances, I guess he's the perfect choice.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

New face, same old rubbish - Barnet's New CEO

There is a report in today's Edgware Times detailing the latest developments in the lost Icelandic cash scandal. There is a rather disturbing quote from Barnet's new CEO.

Mr Walkley, giving his first interview as council chief executive, a job he started on Monday, defended the leader.

He said: “I’m obviously really concerned where any public official is being named and vilified in this way, as that is not what public servant gets into things for, but quite clearly there is officer accountability here and officers are accountable for the failures that appear to have happened.

"The treasury department is a highly technical and specialist area and I would be concerned if the day-to-day activites of that team were the subject of member intervention. There is an appropriate division of responsibilities.

"If there are issues beyond the individuals identified, then the council’s procedures will need to deal with those."


Such arrogance. Mr Wakeley clearly thinks that investing cash is too complicated for mere councillors. Personally I would be concerned if day to day activities weren't a concern of members. I think that the trouble in Barnet is that the officers clearly hold councillors in disdain.

Let me explain something to Mr Wakeley. Any system of treasury management should have a minimum of dual signoff for large cash investments. Both authorisors should know the investment rules. Either your council is not being run properly or someone is still in place who signed off investments that they knew breached the policy.

As it was only when members became involved that the shenanigans came to light, Mr Wakeleys claim that members should keep their noses out is clearly shown to be dangerous nonsense. Until these arrogant officials wake up to the fact that they are their to serve the people and not the other way round I expect to see more such proclamations.

I wonder what size plasma TV Mr Walkeley has on his desk? New face, same old nonsese in Barnet

http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/4210525.Officer_blamed_for___2bn_of_dodgy_council_deposits/

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

A real sickie !

Just having my coco and I noticed this story in The Sun. It seems that Harriet Harman's lawyer sister is urging Jade Goody to sue the NHS for negligence because her cancer wasn't detected earlier. The article says that Ms Harman thinks Jade should get a loss of earnings payout (article is half way down page).

I cannot tell you how sick ambulance chasing lawyers make me feel. If ever someone missed the point, it's Ms Harman. Doesn't it occur to her that Jade wants to cherish her last few days with her kids? Horrible, Horrible, Horrible. Only a lawyer could see terminal cancer in a young mother as a earner. I hope Jade leaves the kids a pot of money to get a good education and have a life without their mum. She doesn't need this sort of advice and surely she's too sick to fight a case anyway.

It may seem strange to say it but Jade could teach Ms Harman a thing or two about dignity.

Two more senior council officials go !

The heads of two of the council's top regeneration projects have lost their posts.

http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/topstories/4210287.Regeneration_bosses_lose_jobs/

They are the 3rd and 4th senior council officials to go in the last few months. First roads supremo Mike Freestone went after huge cost overruns at Aerodrome Road, then treasury manager Patrick Towey went for not following the Council's policy on investing in Iceland.

One can only assume these two weren't sacked for doing a marvellous job. We must assume even more bad news will come out. I just hope that the last one out of the door at Barnet Council remembers to turn off the lights.

Sources close to a sensible Tory Councillor said


Now it may surprise you to know that not every Tory Councillor in Barnet crosses the road when they bump into me. Sometimes I get rather interesting emails from them and have a chat about the price of fish. As with all rather sensible people, our Barnet councillors wouldn't ever say anything to me which may in any way undermine their glorious leader, Councillor Mike Freer. Fortunately for me, sources rather close to one or two of the more sensible Tories do speak candidly to me from time to time.

They have given me some rather interesting "non attributable" quotes (ie when asked they'll deny all knowledge and blame Councillor Brian Salingers dog, or some other unfortunate).

Anyway here's a few prime quotes

Freer's future :- "What will you write about in May when he resigns"

Leader Listens Blog :- "Complete waste of time, the sooner we get rid of it the better. He's just given himself a lot of bother"

Icelandic Deposits :- "No Comment"

Next Leader :- "I don't think you'll like her"

Do you like the Barnet Eye :- "Sometimes you can be funny. It would be far better if you weren't so obsessed with certain high profile figures, who we won't name. You should cover local sports more"

What do you think of Alison Moore and Jack Cohen :- "Honestly? I feel a bit sorry for them sometimes, it's not much fun in opposition. Not that sorry though."

Would you like to be Mayor :- "Ho Ho Ho, definately no comment"

Have the Tories done a good job since they got back in :- "Of course. We've done great things in a quiet sort of way. Not that you read any of that in your blog"

What is their biggest achievement :- "The massive improvement in school facilities and the rebuilding program."

Biggest failure :- "Ho Ho Ho, nice try"

How Conservative are you?


I saw this test on Tory Iain Dale's blog and thought it may amuse the readers of the Barnet Eye. I scored 328/400 which rates me as extremely progressive (higher scores are less Conservative). I suggest you substitute UK for America where relevant. I'd be interested to hear your scores, please post a comment. I'd be especially interested if any of our councillors took the test to see their scores - The average Yank is 209.5 - reasonably Conservative. Iain Dale scored 187

Take the How Conservative are you test Here

Monday, 16 March 2009

The Price of cheap booze


It seems that there is a consensus in the main parties that the days of cheap booze are numbered. On the BBC news tonight examples were given where the price was as low as 22p per can for lager. Bottles of cider containing 7 units are on sale for £1.25.

As a drinker, I have rather mixed feelings about proposals for minimum prices. I suspect that the treasury knows that drinkers are easy targets. Under the banner of health awareness, taxes are hiked up. It seems perverse that beer is cheaper than mineral water. How can it possibly cheaper to bottle beer than water? Is this due to supermarkets using alcohol to entice in shoppers, or blatant profiteering with water?

It would seem sensible for supermarkets and alcohol sellers to pay for the cost of healthcare for those who's health they ruin. If this means the price of booze being higher, I have no issue with that. If the tax raised exceeds the costs to the country of paying the associated health care and social costs, then that is fundamentally wrong. I would say that the government should establish an "alcohol fund". This would pay the health and social costs of drink related illness and death. This would be entirely funded from alcohol taxes.

It isn't the role of government to tell us how to live our lives. It isn't the responsibility of non drinkers to pay for the effects of drink. Then again, it isn't the responsibility of moderate drinkers to subsidise tee-totallers. We don't live in puritan times, and I for one am staunchly opposed to these type of nanny state politics. The one issue it won't solve is the type of drinker who goes into Tesco's and nicks the booze. I my experience, these are the most hardened drinkers and no strategy will easily address them.

The Hendon Residents Forum - 16/03/2008

So off we go again to the Hendon Residents Forum. A couple of big surprises. Firstly no Councillor Brian Gordon. The meeting was chaired by his able understudy, Councillor John Hart. The other, even more surprising absentee was Mrs Cohen, who has had a long running battle with a difficult neighbour. Maybe she only asks questions when Councillor Gordon is there?

Anyway due to childcare issues, I turned up late and I missed the bit I really wanted to hear. These were David Miller's questions about the Leader Listens blog. I suspect that Councillor Hart is ot too interested in political blogs, be it mine, David's or the glorious leaders. I suspect that he'd prefer to be read the news by a courier from the Indian Rifles division off of scrolled parchiament. I suspect that Councillor Hart is the only Councillor in Barnet who could answer an angry resident from Burnt Oak complaining about the cages on the streets by telling us that he was born near where the vegetable seller in Burnt Oak came from, that the vegetables were of the finest quality and that he rather admired people who worked hard.

It certaily was a fine crowd. Far more in Algenon Road, than at Broadfields school for the previous meeting. This was despite a rather late announcement. Various residents complained that the meeting was poorly advertised. Councillor Hart noted that "all of the usual suspects seemed to find out about it". One resident suggested taking a register and emailing those who came about future meetings. Councillor Rayner (Hale Ward) leapt up "Fine idea, I second that". I could just imagine Councillor Gordon taking the register "Miller, can't you ever show up late for a change" "Tichborne, we were hoping you'd decided to not grace us with your presence and as for Tucker...."

Anyway onto business. I arrived as question 12 was being discussed, with my 8 year old son i tow (none too chuffed by the prospect). On to question 13. Rats. Lets face it, after the nuclear war, we'll be gone, they will rule the world. It seems that even Councillor Hart's own abode is overrun. He informed us that Mrs Hart thought they were squirrels. He knew better "Squirrels don't have teeth like that". It seems that the bins at the Quadrant were overrun. Councillor Hart ordered Mr Murray to take matters in hand. A resident stood up to announce the solution "Chilli Powder, they don't like it, sprinkle it everywhere". Sadly, having worked in Brick Lane and seen the bins, I think our friend was mistaken. Another resident suggested "Don't feed the birds" Councillor Hart suggested that the communication team should get on the case. In a sideswipe he said "Mr Miller seems to think they get paid a lot of money, so maybe they should do something useful". Another resident suggested that Barnet rats knew how to operate lifts. Councillor Hart liked this idea. "I think we have the finest rats in London" He chuckled. As with many things, I suspect that this is a comment only Councillor Hart could get away with.

Questio 14 was about window replacement in West Hendon. It seems that 12 homes were left out. Councillor Hart suggested that the residents association liaise with Councillor Julie Johnson to get an assessor back. Another resident complained that Councillor Johnson did all the work and Lynn Hillan took all the praise. Councillor Hart chuckled "That's Politics, you know". He then went on to say that Councillor Johnson was a fine councillor. I rather suspect that Councillor Hart prefers the hard working back bench councillors on all sides than some of his more high profile colleagues (not that he'd tell me).

Then we had a spate of questions from Mr Heaphy about the Burnt Oak shops and cages. Mr Heaphy is upset. Councillor Hart explained that the council had done it's best. Mr Heaphy was not impressed. A resident queried the Council's answer that one such cage was "partially legal". Councillor Hart was just about to launch into a bawdy joke, when he thought better of it and batted it to his Council officer. Mr Heaphy stated that Burnt Oak was like "Beiruit on a good day". At this point I nearly stood up to berate him. On a good day, Beiruit is the playground of the Middle East. My Dad lived there for a few years and said it was the finest city on earth. The trouble is Beirut has ot had so many good days recently. I suspect that Councillor Hart also wanted to make this point, but refrained. It seems that the council think they've done a good job with the cages and the residents dont. I suspect that we've not heard the last of this.

On to questio 18, the one I'd come for. Pavillion Way playing fields. As I'd missed the deadline for questions, I thought I'd sneak my question in under this one. We heard how Councillor Johnson and Hart had a cunning plan. More praise for "our Julie" from Councillor Hart. It seems that something will be done. Anyway, seizing the opportunity, I asked about the appalling state of the Burnt Oak leisure Centre football pitches. Councillor Hart was suitably upset. Mischieviously he said "Ask your Burnt Oak Councillor to take this up". I responded "Councillor Hart, I'm a Mill Hill resident". Sharp as a needle he shot back "Then you are lucky to have an excellent Councillor to deal with this for you". He also informed me that he used to be the President of Watling Club, where my (now asleep) son, who had tagged along, plays football. He said "They got rid of me when I lost my seat", more in sorrow than anger.

Councilor Rayner stated that he often visited the Burnt Oak Leisure Centre. I asked if he'd ever checked out the state of the Pitches. He looked a bit embarrassed and said "No". He said that he would bear this in mind in future - fair comment.

With that, it was time to make my excuses and leave. My son was dozing off and wanted his dinner. As we left he said "Dad, don't bring me next time". I suspect that he thinks the adult world is rather strange, where people spend 20 minutes discussing rats in Hendon when they could be zapping dinosaurs on the Xbox.

Like the usual chairman, Councillor Hart had done a good job. Residents attend these things because they are fed up. If they leave with a feeling something might get done, then the process is worthwhile. Councillor Hart makes a good show of making us feel something might get done, if there is a practical solution. Really that is all we can ask of him as chairman. Let's just hope we get some action !

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Leader Listens - What are we paying for?

As you will no doubt be aware if you read this blog, the Leader of Barnet Council has a blog called Leader Listens, paid for by me (and you if you are a taxpayer). He justifies this expense (he could have a free blog like this) by saying that the expensive version allows him to use more facilities. Whilst I've yet to see any features which are an improvement on a free blogspot blog, one has to assume there must be some reason.

If he's going to have a taxpayer funded blog, one would think he'd have the decency to use it for the public good. The last entry was March 5th and constituted of a big excuse for Barnet losing it's 4 star council status. Since then a massive story has broken in Barnet. The council has lost £27.4 millioni Iceland. The leader of the council put out a statement on Monday saying that Council Officers had mislead him. For the last 5 months, the leader of the council was lead to believe that the Council Officers had followed the agreed policy. On monday, the scrutiny committee pointed out that the secret cabinet report had lead them to conclude that this wasn't the case. A Council Officer has resigned and auditors have been called in.

Strangely the press release detailing this isn't on the Council press release page. On top of this it isn't mentioned on leader listens either. What is the point having a leader listens website if the leader doesn't bother to use it. Surely the Iceland story is the story in Barnet. If this doesn't warrant a mention, then what does? Sadly I suspect that like Mike Freer's policy for publishing comments, the reason it doesn't appear is because it shows him to be a poor leader. I really don't think that at a time when funds are tight, the council should waste a penny on such a vanity project.

Mr Freer has stated on his blog and in other media that he is confident that Barnet will get all it's money back from Iceland. I challenge him to show us one piece of information on his blog to support this assertion. I also challenge Mike Freer to explain why he hasn't called in the Police to investigate the cover up surrounding the Icelandic investment policy. If he has been deliberately and systematically mislead by multiple council officials, resulting in risk to public funds, surely the Police should have been called on Monday.

Finally I ask Mike this. Was the Council official who resigned given a payoff to go quietly? If Mike Freer answers all of these questions honestly, openly and completely on his Leader Listens blog, I will accept that it serves a public function and will refrain from criticising it's cost in future.

My Top 5 Reggae tracks of all time


1 - The Harder they come - Jimmy Cliff. Great track from a great film. The film would be in my all time top 10 as well






2. Dirty Pieces of Silver - Misty in Roots - A great track from a great band. Most underrated. First saw them at the Stonebridge Park Rock against Racism gig. In my opinion the best British reggae band




3. Stop that Train - Clint Eastwood and General Saint. A joyous track from the Greensleeves label. If you want a great introduction to reggae cehck out the Greesleeves Sampler album, featuring this track





4. Vietnam - Desmond Dekker. People always associate Desmond, The Grandfather of Reggae with his hit "The Israelites". I think Vietnam is a much better track.




5. Africa Must Be Free Dub - Augustus Pablo. The man is a genius. This is a album to chill out and Enjoy.






My first musical love is Punk rock. The other genre of music I spent much of my teenage years listening to and I still love is Reggae. I've always felt that the genre never got the recognition it deserved. Anyway if you love reggae music, hope you liked my selection. If you don't - check these tracks out and maybe you will !

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Misuse of public funds

The taxpayers of Barnet have been exposed to a £292 Million risk due to Barnet Council not following it's own agreed policy. The Council leader Mike Freer made this 100% clear in his statement this week. He stated "Despite previous assurances from Barnet Council Officers that correct treasury management controls were applied to Icelandic deposits, it has now come to light that in fact this was not the case. On Monday 9th March I was presented with a scrutiny working group report which makes clear that officers did not in fact follow the correct procedures despite having repeatedly told me both verbally and in writing that they had done so."

Mike Freer went on to say "An external investigation will be carried out to identify why our external auditors did not pick up these issues in their previous audit work. I would like however to reassure residents that at this point the Icelandic deposits remain frozen by the administrators of the two banks involved and discussions around the return of this money remain positive and ongoing".

Hang on a second. He's just clearly stated that public funds (ie our money) has been misused. Not only that, but a systematic cover up has taken place over a period of nearly six months. He says that this cover up is documented in writing.

It could not possibly be more clear. Surely there has been a conspiracy to cover up malpractice within Barnet Council? If this is the case, Mike Freer should not have called external auditors, he should have called the Police. Mike Freer states that "officers" (plural) were involved. This surely means that there has been collusion in the process. I am prepared to take at face value Mike Freer's statement that he was unaware of this, until alerted by the scrutiny committee.

I call on Mike Freer to ask the Police to investigate this. If he won't then maybe someone could inform me of the procedure of how I could. If I have got this wrong and Mike hasn't said there has bee financial malpractise or a cover up by officials please let me know ASAP because from where I am sitting it looks highly suspicious to me. The amounts are huge and this looks as if it will hurt every taxpayer in Barnet. As such, surely the Police should be involved

Friends of Freer exposed as Cheats !!!!!

I don't care whether the readers of this blog agree with me or not. I don't care whether people think I'm marvellous or not. I write it because I think it has to be said. I think that the local papers are failing the people of Barnet in their coverage of local issues. I think this blog and the other Barnet blogs are becoming the place to look first for local news. David Miller's Barnet Council Watch broke several stories this week. I don't agree with David's Tory politics, but I think his blog is great and is the first one I check. Lib Dem Councillor Duncan MacDonald also does a good blog. This week's entries are eye opening. Vicki57's blog also has some interesting items, for those who care about social justice. Then there's Statler and Waldorf's daddy of all Barnet blogs. Between us all I think we do a public service for free. Whatever they say, the local politicians of Barnet listen to us. Now I don't mind what people say in comments so long as it's legal, decent and honest. This week I had a string of comments from "Amanda", "Jack" and "Do call me Dave". The comments were legal and decent. Trouble is, they were DISHONEST. You see I can see the IP address of the people leaving the comments and all of these identities were left within minutes of each other using the same IP address (ie from the same place). I've referred to these ID's before as the Friends of Freer. It seems he has rather fewer friends than he'd like us to believe.

I consider this practice to be dishonest. By all means leave messages. I don't mind private citizens using hidden ID's, but if people are public figures or using public owned equipment then they should be honest. Anyway, here's your chance for redemption. Say who you are and apologise to the readers of this blog for your dishonesty and I will say no more about it.

If you don't then in 7 day's I'll do a blog with whole story and all of the information I have. There's the challenge. We can do this on your terms or mine.

Barnet Eye Roundup - a busy week

I've had a rotten week. The saddest part was burying my dear mother in law, Margaret. I always felt cheated when the mother in law jokes were made, because she was genuinely lovely and I could never have said a bad word about here. At her wake, there were all sorts of people. Friends, family, colleagues - all their to pay their respects to a lovely woman. Margaret had one vice, she smoked like a chimney and it killed her. When you see the effects of lung cancer on someone you love, you realise why smoking just isn't worth it. God Bless you Margaret.

On Wednesday I picked up a curry from my local favourite Indian restaurant. Had a really interesting conversation with a friend of mine, Lawrence and the esteemed owner. Lawrence is ex army and as you can imagine he was none too pleased with the radical Islamic protesters I mentioned in Luton. His solution - shoot them. He would have been happy to do it himself. Now the interesting thing was the reaction of the owner to this comment. He's a devout Muslim who loves Britain and the English. Did he side with me or my friend. My argument was that they should be ignored? He was firmly in the "shoot them" camp (or at least deport them). His view is that they cause endless problems for people such as him, who love Great Britain and they are totally ungrateful. He vociferously told me that I was talking rubbish. He confirmed what I thought, that this rabble are a tiny and urepresentative group. He also stated that it is high time that they were firmly denounced by the majority of Muslims, as he felt they damage the religion immeasurably.

We also had comic relief this week. To my surprise, given the economic climate, a record amount was raised. I must confess that (unlike the rest of my family), I don't particularly enjoy these shows. Having said that the work they do and the moey they raise is truly amazing. One very interesting thing I saw. Tony Blair was interviewed in the run up. He spoke of his support and the great work. As I watched, it struck me that even after 18 months out, I absent mindedly thought "It's the Prime Minister" when he appeared. Shortly after the news came on. Gordon Brown appeared talking about the Northern Irish outrages. Compared to Blair, Brown just does not seem like a Prime Minister. I remember the same thing when Major took over from Thatcher. If nothing else, Comic Relief shows that the British are probably the most generous and outward looking nation on earth.

God Bless you all !!!!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Camera, Action - Yet another great victory for the Barnet Eye

Great news - regular readers of my blog will remember that I commented on how boring the Council's social media and Youtube sites were. You will recall that Barnet got a £100,000 grant from the Council and spent this on making Youtube videos of Council meetings etc.

I suggested that the money would have been better spent on video equipment for schools and getting young people involved in creating a really great social media site for Barnet. One not filled with stuffed shirts etc.

Unfortunately the Council has already wasted most of the cash, but they have launched a competition for young photographers to put pictures on the site. As is usual with Mike Freer, he doesn't mention where the idea came from, but at least he's listening to Barnet's top source of great ideas. Anyway you can win a Ipod so get snapping

Click HERE FOR DETAILS

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Barnet's page 3 boy should resign

Check page 3 of the Barnet Press this week. Four headlines for 3 Stories.

1.£27m Lost in Iceland should not have even been there

2. Fallout hits the Council leader as rivals proclaim: "The buck stops with him"

3. Councillors vote themselves a pay rise of up to 53%

4. ... while the Audit commission lowers council's rating in providing services

I simply ask this. Does anyone believe that Mike Freer as Leader of Barnet Council has ay credibility left? If you want to know the full story of how Freer discovered that his officials had duped him read this blog by Lib Dem Councillor Duncan MacDonald. The examples of the systemic failure of the Freer regime are coming in so fast and furiously, that I'm starting to get blog fatigue. I've already worn out the "n" key on my laptop!

Richard the Lazyheart - Barnbrook exposed

Richard Barnbrook is the sole BNP member on the London Assembly. One would have thought that as he is i the spotlight, maybe he'd work his socks off to show us we're all wrong about the BNP and that maybe they can add some value. I thought I'd check the GLA website and see how busy Richard has been. Now my own member, Brian Coleman has got 42 press releases listed. The last was on the 19th February about hate Preachers.

Have a guess how many old Lazybones has released - CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT - just in case you can't be bothered to look, I'll tell you. A grand total of 3. The last one was on the 15th of October - 5 months ago. What's in it? Well he says how he asked the mayor two questions. As a result of Richard's piercing advocacy skills, we now know that Boris has not heard of the TV show "Ross Kemp on Gangs".

He's not been completely idle. He has managed to attract two complaints and is now being investigated. Needless to say, he gets a fat allowance as a GLA member and use of all of it's facilities. He has a nice view of the Thames and an ample supply of decent pubs to while away his spare time in.

Of course, I'd rather he sat around boozing than actually did any work, given what I think of his policies, but the BNP's lie that they were somehow different and and more hard working than the other parties is exposed by the lazyness of Mr Barnbrook.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Boris the king of waffle and indecision !

Just how stupid can a man be? I just read this Press release from our beloved Mayor. Boris berates the goverment for their policies (or lack of them). What does he propose? He says :-

Firstly we need far tougher border controls to control the flow of people into our country. Secondly we need a frank debate about what to do with the half a million in the capital who are not able to join the economy legally.

So that's the answer is it? Lets have a "Frank" debate? He's clearly thought this one through.

Well Boris, I've got a suggestion for a policy. Are you ready for this? The migrants come to London because there is a huge pool of unscrupulous employers stoking the problem by exploiting the situation. I would offer every illegal immigrant in London the right to stay if they shop the people employing them illegally. I'd the fine these employers 5 year's salary at the minimum wage. That way the people stoking the problem (ie the rogue employers) would be punished, honest and decent businesses would have a level playing field and lots of unfortunate people who have been exploited would get a fair chance in life. When the labour market dries up, the problem will disappear, without having to resort to BNP friendly language or policies.

The scheme Boris proposes does nothing to address the cause and in my opinion will only encourage the likes of the BNP and their fellow travellers.

"Jesus is the slave of Allah"


I awoke to see this article on the front page of the Daily Express today http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/88642/Sick-Extremists-welcomed-our-troops-

It seems that Islamic groups organised a protest against a parade through Luton by the Anglian regiment. Reading the placards it is quite interesting to see what message the protestors are conveying. In the picture the leftmost one says "Illegal war in Iraq". Interestingly I'd say that most people in the UK probably would agree. The one next to it says "British Government Terrorist Government". A sentiment some may agree with, but not really sustainable. Then we have "Anglian Soldiers Butchers of Basra". Whatever one may think of them, it is ridiculous to compare them with the way Saddam Hussein treated the citizens of this city. The most offensive is the placard saying "Anglian Soldiers Cowards Killers Extremists". This is such a crassly ignorant thing to put on a poster. Whilst the Anglian soldiers risked life & limb in Basra, the chap holding the poster does so in the knowledge that he is living in a free tolerant society. He won't get beaten up by the police or the army for waving such a ridiculously insulting poster. Who is the coward?

There are 1.5 million Muslims in the UK. At this protest it appears that there are 15 people at most. The Luton branch of the UK Trainspotting society would probably get a better turnout at their coffee morning than this mob. It is clear to me that they are doing their best to be offensive and cause trouble. How should we deal with them in a free society? Should we arrest them, beat them up, deport them? Not in my opinion. We should ignore them. The Daily Express is being highly irresponsible putting 15 malcontents on their front page. This is exactly what they want and what they hope for. To put this in context, Arsenal's football ground holds 68,000 people. Given the 100,000 to 1 ratio of protestors to Muslims, if you filled it with a randomly selected crowd made entirely of Muslims, statistically you wouldn't have even 1 person who attended this rally there.

In another recent protest, Islamic supporters waved posters proclaiming "Jesus is the Slave of Allah". Knowing that I'm a Roman Catholic, a friend asked if I found this offensive. It is quite an interesting point. Recently London buses were adorned with the message "There probably isn't a God". Now strictly speaking, of the two, from my viewpoint I suppose that the first statement is actually the more correct. Christians and Muslims believe in the same God. Muslim's call him Allah and Christians believe that Jesus was sent to serve his will. Does someone waving a placard aggresively in my face, stating something with which I agree with offend me. Nope. Does the Athiest message offend me, again No. It's an hoestly held viewpoint.

You see when it comes down to it, free speech isn't about tolerating those you agree with. It's about tolerating those who say things you find rather offensive. It's about dealing with their arguments in a rational manner and making yours in a civilised fashion. That's why ultimately, in this clash of cultures I believe that the Western Liberal Democratic model will always win. That is why this mob only has 15 people in it. That's why I get so upset when people start employing censorship to try to win arguments. Preacher's of hate don't worry me. What does worry me is the publicity they get and the effect it has. What worries me most is when people use them as an excuse to curb our freedoms and liberties.

Update: 19:55 11 March 2009

Immediately after finishing the blog, I started to upload my Boris blog. Looking for a picture to illustrate it, I happened upon the British Numpty Parties (BNP) Simon Darby blog (click here and hold your nose). He tells us what would happen to these protestors with a BNP government :-

Since the British National Party cannot really have any direct impact on Government policy at present, although indirectly we certainly do, I'll have to provide you with an image of what would have happened if this act had taken place on our watch. After viewing the BBC video, which you can find by clicking on the graphic below (
sorry no link - too lazy - Rog), imagine a supplementary thirty or so seconds of video tagged on the end. That material would have been shot at nearby Luton airport where every single one of those "demonstrators" would have been filmed boarding a military aircraft, placards still in hand. That plane would then be filmed taxiing on the runway before its four giant turboprops propelled it off the ground on its journey towards some fly-infested desert in Afghanistan.


That is how the BNP win arguments. That is the force of their logic. They claim to support "British Values" but forget that the most cherished value of all is Free Speech. Judge for yourself.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Mike Freer - What is Leadership?


Jacket image of the Compact Oxford English Dictionary

leader

noun 1 a person or thing that leads. 2 a person or thing that is the most successful or advanced in a particular area. 3 the principal player in a music group. 4 Brit. a leading article in a newspaper. 5 (also Leader of the House) Brit. a member of the government officially responsible for initiating business in Parliament. 6 a short strip of non-functioning material at each end of a reel of film or recording tape for connection to the spool.


Definition




leadership
noun [U]
1 the set of characteristics that make a good leader:
What the company lacks is leadership.
He lacks leadership qualities/skills.

2 the position or fact of being the leader:
The group flourished under her firm leadership.
R&M gained market leadership (= sold more goods than other companies) by selling products that were of superior quality.

3 the leadership the person or people in charge of an organization:
There is growing discontent with the leadership.
The election for the leadership of the council will take place on Tuesday.


I thought before I started to analyse Mike Freer's statement today, about the lost Icelandic cash, I'd just check the dictionary definitions of Leader and Leadership. The definition of Leader is from the Oxford Dictionary and the Definition of Leadership is from the Cambridge version.

Let me just point you to a blog I did in October, when the Council had an emergency debate on the crisis.

http://barneteye.blogspot.com/2008/10/advisers-advise-leaders-lead-so-give.html


When it comes down to it, the issue in Barnet is Leadership. Yesterday Mike Freer issued the following statement :-

Despite previous assurances from Barnet Council Officers that correct treasury management controls were applied to Icelandic deposits, it has now come to light that in fact this was not the case. On Monday 9th March I was presented with a scrutiny working group report which makes clear that officers did not in fact follow the correct procedures despite having repeatedly told me both verbally and in writing that they had done so.

The lead officer responsible for this failure resigned his post prior to the scrutiny meeting on Monday 9th March and I have now written formally to the Chief Executive asking for a full investigation into how I as Leader of the Council was misled by officers in this matter.

An external investigation will be carried out to identify why our external auditors did not pick up these issues in their previous audit work. I would like however to reassure residents that at this point the Icelandic deposits remain frozen by the administrators of the two banks involved and discussions around the return of this money remain positive and ongoing.
Council Leader Freer is also the chairman of the Resource management committee. He gets a responsibility allowance for this. Now I ask this question - where was the leadership and where is the responsibility. Leadership is all about ensuring that those who work for you know what they are meant to be doing. They should know that when things go wrong, you as leader will immediately get to the bottom of things. I was at an Emergency Council meeting last year, where Mike Freer resisted calls for the Icelandic investments to be investigated externally. Five months have since been lost. Five months where incompetence has flourished. Did Mike Freer never think to ask his officers "Prove it, show me the evidence"?

Was the wrongdoing uncovered by the man who manages the resources? No. It was uncovered by the scrutiny committee. Freer could have lead this process, he could have set up a special audit when the problems came to light - after all £27.4 Million is a huge sum. He could have said to his Council Officers "Come clean now, because you are being investigated. If you don't you will be sacked with no pay for gross misconduct".

He did none of these things. When the Council was run by a Labour/Liberal administration, Mike Freer used to monster his opponents - "Where is the Leadership? Where does the Buck stop?". That was how he made his name. He was a ruthless tormentor of various Labour and Lib Dem Cabinet members. The Tories made Mike Freer leader as he claimed that he'd take responsibility. He claimed that the buck stopped with him. He claimed he was a tough Thatcherite Leader. You';ve read his statement. Where is the Leadership, where does the buck stop?

Mike Freer - it is high time you put into practise what you used to preach in opposition. Resign