Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Another record month at the Barnet Eye - thank you

As August makes way for September, I'd just like to say thanks to all of the people who read this blog. Yet again it's been a record month here. Given that August is a holiday month, that is really quite exceptional. The number of hits, the number of page load, unique visitors and returning visitors have all doubled since February, which I thought at the time was a good month. It is a daunting thought that there have been more page loads on this blog in the last year than the capacity of Wembley Stadium. In terms of unique visitors (from my rather inaccurate search counter) more than 1 /10th of the population of Barnet have viewed the blog in the last year (based on unique visitor count).

These figures put this blog up with some of the best known and most read blogs in the UK. Considering we concentrate on Barnet, that is truly amazing. Sadly I don't think it's because I'm a great blogger or a fantastic author. I just think that the uniquely bad adminstration in Barnet has created a climate where people want to know what is going on and it seems to me that although the blogs sometimes get things wrong, they are the most accurate source of information.

The collective blogs of Barnet have spearheaded many successful community campaigns. In a perfect world, I wouldn't even write about local Politics, it would be about dyslexia, music and football. I just feel an obligation to keep my nose to the grindstone until either the administration running Barnet Council becomes vaguely honest and competent or I drop dead from disgust a their antics.

Whatever happens, thank you for your faith and support.

Barnet Leadership Challenge - Tory Musical Chairs

Hot News reaches the Barnet Eye. It seems like the Mark Shooter campaign  is planning a big clearout of dead wood in the Barnet Tory machine.

As well as Shooter challenging Hillan, I hear Brian Schama is in the frame for role of Chairman, ousting Wendy Prentice. Kate Salinger looks a shoe in for the Deputy chairmanship. It looks like Maureen Braun might be on the receiving end of a plumb job from her fellow Hendon Councillor if he wins. We believe this role is likely to not be too strenuous as Maureen is reputed to not be too keen on work, but will deliver a decent allowance - I'm all for helping old ladies in distress, so this is clearly very gallant of Shooter.

Rather oddly, one chairman who isn't being challenged is Hale Councillor Hugh Rayner. Whilst denying he'd been knobbled by Shooter, Hugh did say he'd be happy to serve the people of Barnet in any way he could and wasn't too bothered who the leader was (such selflessness). Rumour reaches the Barnet Eye that dear old Hugh thinks Shooter may be able to reignite his ambition for a seat in parliament, which until recently he thought had long since gone. The good thing for many of the Tories on the edge of the regime is that the current palace coup offers many of them a rather unexpected leg up.

One other little gem reaches me apparently Brian Coleman may think Shooters campaign have identified a third member of Hillans cabinet who is knobbleable. Sadly my mole in the hole won't tell me who. Oh by the way, one little thing which may make you laugh. A report reaches the Barnet Eye that my favourite Jabba The Hut impersonator, Brian Coleman has not been himself today. Whilst he wasn't quite wondering around, Kenneth Williams style shouting "Infamy, Infamy, they've all got it in for me" he's most certainly not his usual happy, charming self. What could be the cause of his malaise? For all I know, it might because Mike Freer wouldn't give him a lift down the chip shop in his campervan, but he's not a happy bunnykins.

The Mike Freer Battlebanger rolls into town - Updated 14:48 31/8/2010



****** Update ********************
Since this story was originally posted, the Mike Freer MP team have contacted me demanding that I remove the picture (which you can see in the link to the Times) of Mike Freer's camper van, as it was used without permission. Of course I was happy to comply and apologise for any distress caused. If you want to look at the picture, please click on the link below. In the meantime, the Barnet Eye is pleased to supply an image showing how Mik's campervan might look in action *********** End of Update ************

The official story is that Mike needs a £40,000 campervan (AKA The Battlebanger) to travel to the more rural parts of Finchley constituency to hold "monthly advice surgeries". As to why he needs a campervan which "sleeps 4" and has a kitchen and bathroom for such surgeries in Finchley, I cannot quite fathom. 

Maybe there are far flung, backward parts of Finchley I never discovered in my years at school there, without water, sanitation and hours from his flat in church end. 

Here's the Times story :-

http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/8347422.Van_man_Mike_Freer_takes_MP_surgeries_to_the_streets/

Most London MP's rent a room at the Library (Oh I forgot the Tories are flogging them off) or a Church Hall. Then again, it is good to hear that Mike and the local Conservatives have such huge amounts of cash to splash. In these days of austerity, it is great to see a bit of real extravagance.

Mike Freer became Leader of Barnet Council just over four years ago, in a Palace Coup orchestrated by long time henchman Councillor Brian Coleman. Then Leader Brian Salinger was unseated days after leading the Tories to victory in the 2006 Council Election. This supreme act of disloyalty to his leader reaped rich dividends, landing Mike the plumb constituency of Finchley, notionally one of the easiest target seats in the country.

During Freer's time as Leader, such Barnet Council suffered the following major financial scandals :-

* Lost £27.4 Million of borrowed money in Icelandic Bank investments. These debts require servicing

* Took Barnet council debt to over £200,000,000, saddling every Barnet Council Tax payer with an average of over £1,000 debt each, which we will have to pay back.

* Went £11 Million over budget on the Aerodrome Road bridge replacement project (original budget £12 million).

* Spent £1 million on the Barnet FC Underhill sale enquiry, which concluded that everyone did a marvellous job in the sale of Underhill, although there is a potential loss of several million pounds to the taxpayer.

As to why Mike Freer is so keen on the Hillan Leadership, who knows? I can only speculate that she's the only person he could think of that would make him look like a decent leader. For her part, Lynne Hillan spent several days gloating that she'd put Freer in his place when he asked her to scrap the allowance rise. Sadly for Lynne, she then went on holiday and when she got back, was forced to drop the policy. Happily for them both, Mike now has his camper van and Lynne seems to have his support after a few shaky wobbles - as documented in other Barnet blogs. I suspect that the wobbles are an insurance policy, in case Mark Shooter wins, so he can say "You know I supported you all along". Makes you wonder what sort of insurance policy Brian Coleman and Andrew Harper have in such an event? Maybe Lynne Hillan, Brian Coleman and Andrew Harper could borrow the Mike Freer Battlebanger and use it to take wavering Councillors "for a little ride in the country" before the election, where they could explain a few home truths.

Barnet Leadership Challenge : Mark Shooter - The man who would be king

The best thing about running a music studio is that you never know who is going to walk in the door. It turns out that one of my customers knows Mr Mark Shooter of old, long before he even thought about becoming a councillor, from the days when Mr Shooters priority was making cash. I won't say how or where from, but he gave me a unique insight into what current Council Leader Lynne Hillan is up against.

Unlike just about every other Barnet Councillor, Mark Shooter is seriously rich. He made his money in a high risk area of the financial services market. Whilst the majority of commentators and newspaper articles give the impression that Mr Shooter is a new kid on the block, this isn't really the full picture. Like most political parties, being seriously wealthy opens doors that simply having been a councillor for Totteridge doesn't. Serious dosh opens doors that just being one of a few thousand smallfry councillors doesn't. Party grandees are always looking for such people and there is a long history of the people at the top courting such figures. Whilst the likes of Finchley MP Mike Freer scrabble around to get the party to buy him a 20 year old camper van for "monthly advice surgeries", the Mark Shooters of this world move in different circles. It is no secret that the Conservative Party isn't exactly flush with cash at the moment and rich guys who are interested in the party are few and far between. I asked my new found friend whether Mark Shooter is the type of bloke who would actually use his "influence and contacts" to further his career. The answer was telling "He'd certainly do it if he really wants the job and felt he had to". Which leads to the second question "Does he want the job".

The answer to this was a bit more complicated "It depends how much the lot in charge have pissed him off. The press suggested he's a stalking horse for someone else, but that really isn't Marks style". This leads us to the third question "Do you think he'll win?" The answer to this was also quite interesting "If he's serious about it, really wants to, I'm pretty sure he will". The final observation was most telling "You don't make the sort of money Mark has made by backing lost causes and picking losers"

I've emailed Mark Shooter a couple of times at the Council and am yet to receive a reply to my questions. In the unlikely event that he gets back in touch, I'll most certainly ask him if he's serious and if he's planning to splash the cash. In the meantime I'm starting to think I might mosey on down to Ladbrokes and see if they'll take a little flutter.

Monday, 30 August 2010

The Notting Hill Carnival - If you want to know the way don't ask a Policeman

Just got back from the Notting Hill Carnival. Although it takes less than an hour from Mill Hill to get there on the train (Mill Hill to St Pancras on Thameslink, then St P to Westbourne Park on the tube) - getting back is slight more difficult. The problem? The Police. Sadly they really didn't seem to be, shall we say, too switched on. We returned to Westbourne Park, only to be told that it was Exit only until 18:00 - to regulate the crowds. This is a rather odd policy, given that 18:00 is the designated time for the sound systems to switch off. Surely all they achieved was to delay many people's departure until then, causing even more crushes and crowds. A "helpful" Met officer advised us to walk a mile to Royal Oak station which was open. This we did. There a helpful British Transport Policeman informed us that it was "exit only until 18:00 to avoid crushes" As we were the only people around, this seemed rather bizarre. I informed him "that his mate at Westbourne Park had told us that it was open". His response "That was the Met, they are not our mates". He then advised that we walk to Paddington. The route he gave took us under the Westway, through a flooded area, which involved myself and my kids having to climb near a very fast and busy highway to avoid. 

Why is it that the Police in this country seem to think that the best way to "manage crowds" is to make things impossible for people, especially those with children. The carnival is a fantastic event, well worth a visit, but the stupidity of the public transport travel arrangements beggars belief. Is it acceptable that Policemen on duty at closed stations are not told what other stations are open and what is the best option. What is even worse is the way they smirk when they realise you've walked a mile out of your way, with your kids to another closed station. 

I love the carnival. It is a real festival, run by the people, for the people. The daytime Sunday  childrens parades are spectacular and safe. The only time I saw the slightest anger was when we realised that the police thought it was funny to send people on long wild goose chases. How hard would it be for them to be properly briefed, given that every one had an earpiece (which I started to suspect is used soley for racing tips and to inform them of when it's tea break).

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Exclusive : Lynne Hillan has stopped Listening to the People of Barnet - Official

The people of Barnet have been paying for the Leader of Barnet Council to have a rather expensive blog, called Leader Listens. Former Leader Mike Freer set the Leader Listens program up to allow a two way dialog between residents and the leadership. When Lynne Hillan took over in December, she did two things. She deleted all of the "interesting and informative" historical blogs by Freer and then in February, she promised to post her expenses on a monthly basis on the blog. Like most of Hillans promises, this one was broken. The February post was the last one.

I thought I'd see if Lynne Hillan had actually bothered to update it whilst I was on holiday - see for yourself what she's done with her blog, which cost over £400 of taxpayers money to set up and was meant to keep the Barnet  Taxpayer up to date with what the Leader has been doing :-


http://leaderlistens.com

Yup, takes you straight to the Barnet Council website - http://www.barnet.gov.uk/ - If you click on the link from this page to Leader Listens, you stay where you are. In short, the Leader has stopped Listening.

Leaderlistens.com sums up the Leadership of Lynne Hillan at Barnet Council. Like the link, it goes nowhere. Like the blog, promises have been broken, things have been hidden and the history of the Tory Leadership has been swept under the carpet. All of this at a huge cost to the taxpayer. A blog such as this one is free to set up - Freer paid £400 for Leader Listens blog for no good reason. I earn enough for the odd pie & pint from the Adverts in the sidebar. Of course that is called good financial management, something Hillan & co just don't get. She has got to go

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Exclusive : Barnet Council planning sell off of libraries

The Lynne Hillan regime at Barnet Council evermore resembles the regime of Nero in Rome, fiddling whilst the city burns (in the musical sense of course). The latest masterplan before the scrutiny committee is one which is discussing the sale of the Libraries of Barnet Council. The document on the right is part of the scrutiny committee agenda (click on the image for a more readable version). Click on the following link  and then click link to item 9 -


 http://committeepapers.barnet.gov.uk/democracy/meetings/meetingdetail.asp?meetingid=6287

As you can clearly see, parks, gardens and council housing are exlcluded from the strategy. This means that everything else is included. This means Open spaces, Daycare centres, Libraries, Council mortuaries and car parks. You don't believe me?

Well check this out from appendix 4 - page 2. It is there in black and white. They are planning to sell mortuaries, L:ibraries and Morgues and lease them back. Why? because they have lost so much money in Iceland that they can't meet there commitments and are desperate for cash. Whilst flogging off the family silver in the short term will bring some cash in, what happens in a few years time when property prices rise, rents go up and it's time for a rent review - Sorry chaps, the greedy landlord has put up the rent and so we have to close all of your facilities.

Yet again, the Barnet Tories are taking a punt on the future. Wheras maintenance costs are predictable and managable, commercial rents are not. Why would a commercial landlord buy a property other than to make a profit? Nothing wrong with that, it's called business, but only Barnet Tories would consider a sale of a long term assett when prices are depressed and the market is flat.

The sad truth is that Barnet Council have no real understanding of the world of commerce and business. They merely see all of their assetts as trinkets to be sold to dig themselves out of a hole. Gordon Brown was rightly derided for selling off the nations gold reserves at an all time low. Clearly Hillan and Co are trying to trump him.

I must say that of all the crazy Barnet Tory Policies that Hillan and Co have thought up, this is probably the most destructive one yet. When you voted Tory in May did you know that they were planning to sell off your local library? I campaigned vigorously against them, read every paper I could and yet this paper, drafted less than three months after the election is the first I've heard of it. This stinks to high heavens !!!! Let me leave you with a final gem from their strategy - the bit where they say in Barnet Gobbledygook speak that we - the people of Barnet  - might get the hump with this policy. I think they might have slightly underestimated the response, although one has to wonder whether people like Lynne Hillan really care. This gem is in appendix 4 page 4 - seems your allotments are up for sale as well !!!!

Afghanisatan - read this if you are interested in the conflict

http://www.rense.com/general91/impr.htm - If you are interested in the situation in Afghanistan, I'd strongly urge you to read this. It is probably the most interesting analysis of the situation I've read for a couple of years. Sorry to say it's rather grim reading.

Allowancegate : The Tory Spivs who are up for sale

The Barnet Eye returns to it's role as the Mystic Meg of Barnet politics. I have a prediction. Mark Shooter will fail in his bid to unseat Lynne Hillan on September the 7th. Despite having won the argument on both the moral and the competence grounds, Lynne Hillan has a little rabbit in her hat. It's called a big pile of  (your) dosh. In my absence, eagle eyed bloggers and blogger correspondents (why is it never the local press) have spotted a little bribe which Hillan used to secure the vote in the first place.

I guess I should have cottoned on to the scam when Councillor Hugh Rayner collared me at the Hendon & District Residents forum and urged me to read his press release detailing why the allowance rise was such a good idea. Now me being a naive and stupid person, I just thought this was a coup de grace of brown nosing. How wrong I was. I should have used the old FBI investigation maxim "Follow the Cash". I am endebted to my commenter Baarnet for pointing these out :-

Andreas Tambourides (Licensing Chairman SRA to increase by 50% - meets twice a year - even after supposed u-turn)

Hugh Rayner (Business Management OSC Chairman SRA to increase by 50% even after supposed u-turn)

Joan Scannell (General Functions Committee Chairman SRA to increase by 50% even after supposed u-turn)

Alison Cornelius (Health OSC Chairman SRA to increase by 50% even after supposed u-turn)

Darryl Yawitch (Budget & Performance OSC Chairman SRA to increase by 50% even after supposed u-turn)

Brian Gordon (Policy and Performance OSC Chairman SRA to increase by 50% even after supposed u-turn)

Wendy Prentice (Planning and Environment Committee Chairman SRA to increase by 50% even after supposed u-turn)

To win the Leadership, Mark Shooter needs 20 Tories to vote for him. There are eleven cabinet members and this mob makes 7 more. Basically this means Hillan only needs to buy three more members (with your cash) and the job is done. One interesting thing, which shows just how unprincipled these Tories are is this letter from Richard Cornelius. Does he mention anywhere that the scheme change gave both him & the missus a 50% pay rise (click on the letter to enlarge).

Dissident Barnet Tory, Ex Councillor Daniel Hope has been detailing all of this on his excellent Barnet Bugle blog. I suggest you take a quick peek at this if you want the full details.

One other thing which may surprise you is the fact that friends of mine who are active in both the Barnet Labour have "unofficially" suggested that it might be a good idea to back off from pressing for a leadership change within the Barnet Tories.

There is a belief that Hillan is a complete liability and there is a chance that the Tories will unravel completely if she's left as a wounded and critically damaged leader. She has clearly "lost" the local party membership and a good proportion of the councillors. My sources tell me that at least 15 Tory Councillors who are completely sick of Hillan. There are another ten who have stated privately that she's, shall we say, not necessarily the best choice, but have reasons to possibly carry on with support for her (lets say that most of these reasons are nothing to do with morality or principles).

It is now a matter of public record that Hugh Rayner gave the Chairmen of Hendon Tories a dressing down after he called the rises "Immoral, disgusting and vile". Did Councillor Hugh Rayner disclose the fact that he'd made a packet out of the scheme, when dressing down Mr Adrian Murray-Leonard? The bottom line in this whole issue is that Mark Shooter is fighting a bunch of unprincipled Spivs who are quite prepared to put cash before principle, put career progression before public service and put lining their pockets before doing a good job.

I have this message for any Barnet Tory Councillors who have a conscience and care about the people of Barnet. Go public with your support for Mark Shooter. He is clearly a far more capable candidate than Lynne Hillan. It is vital that for the good of Barnet, Hillan is replaced and only public declarations of support, rejecting troughing allowances will sanitise the Tory party in Barnet.

I urge all Barnet residents to contact their local councillors and urge them to support Mark Shooter and to go public with this support.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Return to yet another sweet victory for common sense and the common man !

I've literally just walked in the door from a ten day break in the glorious resort of Sharm El Shiek in the Sinai peninsula. Apart from a couple of quick checks of the blog to remove spam comments etc and to make sure my forward posted blogs actually posted, I've been keeping away from the wonderful world of Barnet and it's politics.

It seems that people power is on a roll in Barnet. My first look at the Times group for ten days tells me that we've won another victory for the common man and common sense. Barnet Homes have backed down from their callous and heartless policy of kicking 83 year old Edward Meakins out of his home. Needless to say this blog fully supported Mr Meakins.

http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/8349979.Edward_Meakins_is_allowed_to_stay/?ref=mc

The people of Barnet are finding quite a taste for telling the people who set themselves up as the great and good and make callous decisions with no regard to the feelings of the people who pay their wages where to go.  If this blog and my efforts have played some small part in this, then it makes it all worth while

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Allowancegate : Now Hillan must go

The Leader of Barnet Council, Lynne Hillan deserves an award. One for bare faced cheek. Having completely destroyed the reputation of herself, her colleagues (except Kate Salinger), her party in Barnet and Barnet Council generally, she has the gall to claim it shows she's a good leader. In the Times, she bleats that she has shown she listens.

http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/topstories/8334142.Leader_claims_retreat_on_allowances_scheme_shows_they_are_listening/

She seems to think that she can spin the debacle into a glorious victory. Now whilst this blog is never one to underestimate the stupidity of some of our Barnet Councillors, surely even they can't possibly have missed the fact that they look like a bunch of prize plums. Can anyone think Lynne Hillan is the Conservative Councillor best suited to run the council after this? Lets review what happened. She sprung the allowance rise on the Tory group, bullied them against vocal opposition, even from cabinet members (I believe Helena Hart argued against the rise), publicly humiliated Kate Salinger for her principled abstention, waited four weeks to do anything, in the face of an absolute torrent of public opposition, unprecedented in both of our local paper groups.

She has allowed blogs like this one to set the agenda and lead the debate. She has revitalised the political career of Andrew Dismore in Hendon, who has collected a massive petition, hugely damaging her colleague Matthew Offord. She has driven a huge wedge between herself and Mike Freer, who has the political savvy to see it's just plain wrong. With her U-turn she's destroyed the public credibilty of Councillors such as Richard Cornelius and Hugh Rayner who put out press releases praising the rise and claiming it was vital. She has destroyed the reputation of new councillors such as Graham Old who ended up looking a complete idiot at the residents forum claiming Kate Salinger was "my hero".

She's also destroyed the reputation of Councillor Barry Evangeli who jumped into Kate Salingers seat at the Chipping Barnet residents forum and was publicly exposed as a toady. Surely she's finally exposed Brian Coleman for what he is. He lead the humiliation of Kate Salinger, who today stands vindicated, the only Tory to emerge unscathed. Colemans vindictiveness against such a principled colleague surely cannot be forgiven by the Tories, can it. Then there's Councillor Andrew Harper. he'd previously been seen as a safe pair of hands, a steady Eddie. Now he's been exposed as Lynne Hillans gimp and a coward with his "No comment" whilst being deputy leader. Prior to Allowancegate, I saw Harper as a potential leader. Now I see him merely as a failed teaboy for Hillan and Coleman. He either agreed with them, in which case he's tainted or he didn't in which case he's too big a coward to ever be trusted again.

We must give some credit to Hendon Conservative Councillor Mark Shooter who brought the whole house of cards down. Apart from Kate Salinger, he's the only one who has shown any guts at all. His intervention has caused the panic and the U-Turn. Whilst Hillan claims she performed a couragious U-Turn, it was nothing of the sort. It is a last ditch effort to keep her job and retain a fig leaf of credibility. If the Tories want to regain any credibility at all, they need a top team who have public trust. This means that it will be one which contains Mark Shooter and Kate Salinger. They at least have shown some backbone and moral fibre. It is telling that Hillan made no mention of an apology or reinstatement for Salinger, who events have shown to have been right.

Lynne Hillan has got to go ASAP and she's got to take her motley cronies with her. This must be sooner rather than later, preferably before the next council meeting on the 14th September. It is time for decent Conservatives to find their backbones and make their voices heard. I invite any Tory Councillor who believes Lynne Hillan to be the right leader to email me ASAP. They can write a guest blog and explain to my readers exactly what I've missed. Come on Brian, you know you want.

Burnt Oak Special Edition

I wonder how often our Tory elite venture down to Burnt Oak to buy their spuds. I asked John Hart this question as we awaited the result of the election. His response "I always buy my carrots in Burnt Oak and the 600 votes we got there won the election for Matthew Offord".

When David Cameron speaks of "Big Society" I always think of Burnt Oak. Small businesses thrive. There is a better variety of food on sale than anywhere else in Barnet, with two great fishmongers, a plethora of greengrocers, a market and all sorts of other small outlets.

There's plenty of other places worth checking out. The flower shop, the fabric shops, the restaurants (such as Mama Cass). If you want a haircut for your boys, there's Sids where it's £6 (unlike Mill Hill where it's a tenner). Sadly my favourite place, the Istanbul Express kebab house has gone. I've heard many snobs in Barnet deride Burnt Oak. Generally they have never done more than drive through it at speed.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Happy Birthday to me !!!!

A great bit of Harp from Stevie Miller


And a great goal from Dennis Tueart + 11 other great Man City goals


And the New Rose promo video


And my second favourite Advert of all time


Nothing like a bit of self indulgence on a blog - Happy Birthday to me

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Brian Coleman - Work Vs Din Dins !!!!!!

As we all know GLA assembly member Brian "The Hut" Coleman says he works 100 hours a week. Regular readers of this blog also know he likes to be pampered (because he's wors it).

Here's a little game I enjoy playing. I click this link to the GLA and see how much work he's actually doing (we all know a good self publicist like Brian likes to keep us informed). This is all his press releases - ie all the campaigns etc he's running and things of note he's been up to. Count em up for any given period.

http://www.london.gov.uk/press_releases/assembly-member/Brian%20Coleman

Now check out his free dinner registers and see how many free din dins he's had, because all that work makes Brian a very hungry HUT - He has a couple of free dinner lists because one just isn't enough !!!!


http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/gh_brian_coleman.asp


http://www.london.gov.uk/pls/apex/f?p=135:2:665027378368433:fsp_sort_2_desc::RP&fsp_region_id=10248804584908268

And guess what? Yep, ever one to be fair to our friend, rather amazingly Brian has managed more press releases than free dinners this year. I had you going there didn't I? But you see, that's only really half the story, isn't it. See if you can spot a pattern. On a totally unrelated subject, here's a rather interesting link - if you get my drift


http://www.railway-technology.com/contractors/professional/eads/

Friday, 20 August 2010

Allowancegate : A positive future for Barnet starts here ?

Whether or not Mark Shooter wins/loses - the question is what is the future for the people of Barnet. Shooter represents the first stirrings in the local Conservatives showing that they are slowly waking up to the fact that the world is changing and the abuses have to stop.

Sadly any bright future for Barnet has to start outside of the failed political elite. It has to start on the streets at ground level. We need to look to the likes of retired sheltered housing resident David Young for inspiration. He stopped the sheltered housing warden cuts in their tracks by taking the council to court. We need to campaign as a united community against the cuts, against the troughing and for the people of Barnet. We need to put aside party divisions and realise that what we are dealing with is a far more fundamental problem. We need to rebuild a sense of community in Barnet and put an end to the selfish "me first" politics of the current batch of leaders.

If we can get a sense of purpose within the community, then maybe somewhere down the line, we'll see a brighter future for Barnet.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

ALLOWANCEGATE : Alison Moore Callse Lynne Hillan a lame duck

http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/8335009.Tories_left_with__lame_duck_leadership__after_allowances_U_turn__claim_Labour/

Several thoughts occurred to me when I read this. Perhaps the only one I wish to share with you is when did Alison Moore start using Cockney rhyming slang to describe her Tory rivasls

Dyslexia Special - Long Division and nights of fear

Have you ever been really scared of anything? Snakes?  Lurkers Lurking under the bed? Swimming?  I've had problems with all of them. I've beaten two out of  three. I'm not sure which I was most frightened of when I was young. These were my three big phobias, which I had from day one of my life. When I was at primary school I developed another fear. Long Division. Whilst not having the same reflex action as snakes or the same grinding terror as lurkers under the bed or the same certainty that I would die as swimming lessons, it had something far worse. It had the opportunity for complete humiliation. You see, I couldn't do it. I just didn't get the concept at all. As a result, any sums that involved long division sent me into a cold sweat. Everyone else seemed to pick it up, but the whole process seemed like some meaningless babble. A couple of times I asked if someone could explain this to me and they magically started talking this strange language, less understandable than a cross between Mandarin Chinese and Swahili. They would write things down and then say "It's easy, just take this, do that, multiply it by the other". It meant nothing.

People talk about the three "R"'s, but I couldn't learn my times tables. That's not strictly true, I leaned the 11 times table up to 11 X 9. At St Vincents in the 1960's we had to recite our times table. When I realised that I could recite the 11 times table up to eleven  nine's I thought this was the chance to actually get a star. When asked, up shot my hand. I did fine, till we got to ten elevens. My mind went blank. The teacher asked "I don't know the hard bit". The teacher responded "The hard bit? How can ten elevens be hard, you just add a zero on the end".  More public derision from my classmates followed. I'm really not sure whether this was a result of dyslexia or stupidity, but it wasn't easy. I developed a new strategy. I'd be naughty when it was maths lesson time. I'd get slung out, maybe I'd get the bat from Sister Gabriel, but at least I wouldn't be publicly humiliated. I got extremely good at winding people up. A useful skill which I regularly use in this blog.

So you may think, what has this foolishly idiotic buffoon got to say about teaching maths to dyslexics. Well a bit more than you think. You see it may surprise you to know I have an O level and an A level in Maths. I actually think I'm gifted in the subject (not that any of my former teachers would do anything apart from laugh at this suggestion). So how do you get from a pathological fear of sums aged 9 in 1971 to 96% in my maths O level mock in 1978 (probably the pinnacle of my career as a mathematician). Well in hindsight, I suspect it was because I had a dyslexic maths teacher for a term.

He spotted the various ruses I'd used (cheating with my homework, etc) and put me on the spot. Stay late after school he said. I had that awful feeling of dread. He then explained that he had spotted what I was doing, because he used to be exactly the same. He said that my biggest problem was that I was scared of maths. He then asked me to recite the eight times table. I couldn't. He asked me to mutiply eight by seven. He watched as I floundered. He then explained his technique for dealing with the problem. It made sense. He then asked me to do a long division. I just stared blankly. He said "I couldn't do this until I was 12. Now I love maths". He explained the technique in plain English - "Actually division doesn't come into it, just multiplication which you've just done and subtraction which you can do with no problem". It all made sense. He then explained that if you can't do the whole lot in your head at once, it doesn't matter, break it all into bite sized chunks and write it down.

In half an hour, I had caught up six years worth of maths. I was horrified. I had suffered six years of humiliation needlessly. It was all down to the fact no one had bothered to take the time to explain it to me. I owe the man a huge debt, but sadly I can't remember his name. Was he dyslexic? I can't be sure, but I'd put money on it. I never really understood what had happened at the time. I'd never heard the word dyslexia. I just suddenly became a bit less thick. I'm still rubbish at many things mathematical, but if I concentrate I can do them as well as anyone (although it takes a bit longer).

I have a radical solution to teaching dyslexics maths. Train other dyslexics to teach them. Whilst most will still remain bad at maths, at least they'll have a teacher who will understand their issues and not make them feel like a worthless piece of S**T. Albert Einstien was dyslexic and he didn't do too bad did he?

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Barnet Council scraps publishing best value performance indicators

Here's a rather interesting little story from the wonderful world of "Bonkers Barnet". Barnet Council used to be required by law to publish a "best value plan" to show that the council was delivering good services. The law was changed and 2008 was the last year that they were "required" to publish this information. So guess what? They stopped. Now, just for a moment, suppose that the report showed Barnet was doing a really good job delivering performance, would they have stopped publishing it?

The question is "Does Barnet Council deliver best value for taxpayers". Sadly they'd rather not tell us. Check here - http://www.barnet.gov.uk/best-value-performance-information - How did they do last time they published it (because they were compelled to)? I'm sure you can guess. Perhaps the most damning indictment was the Road traffic Casualty stats they failed to meet 50% of their own targets. Has this improved? Who knows, they are keeping schtum

Monday, 16 August 2010

Allowancegate : Hillan Cracks and backs down - Update - the text

This is the statement from Lynne Hillan. No mention of an apology to Kate Salinger, no mention of an apology to the rest of us. Interesting times !!!!

One thing for sure though - Barnet Eye, First again

-:^0 ------------------------

Cllr Lynne Hillan, Leader of Barnet Council, is to recommend to the next meeting of Barnet Council that it revisits and revises the system for members’ allowances agreed at the Council meeting of July 13.
Cllr Hillan will propose that Cabinet Members revert to the level of allowances under the previous scheme and receive no increase.
Cllr Hillan commented: “The Cabinet has been listening carefully to the views expressed by residents over the past couple of weeks regarding the change to Members’ Allowances and has taken them on board.
“There will be many difficult decisions about the future of the council to be taken over the coming months. We need to consult widely and take residents with us on those decisions.

I have spent the last fortnight speaking to colleagues and it has become clear that we simply can’t have the conversations we need to have with residents about the future of the council, our services and the decisions that need to be made, with this debate about allowances going on. There are times when leadership is about action and there are times when it is about listening. I have listened and I am acting.

The previous allowances scheme was much criticised and I have no doubt that it was in need of change. Many of the reforms we made should stay, not least for the sake of transparency. But I also appreciate that many residents are unhappy that Cabinet Members’ allowances could increase when service budgets face reductions. Residents have made it clear that they expect elected members to set an example to other parts of the council. The proposal I will put to Council in September will bring an overall cut to the budget for member’s allowances of around £95,000.
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This isn't the end of this, it's actually just the begining. Hillan has now lost any shred of credibility she had. Thanks to everyone who supported this campaign

Allowancegate : Exclusive - Hillan cracks and backs down

10.45am Monday.

I have just received a telephone call from a Tory insider, stating that the leader of Barnet Council, Lynne Hillan has prepared a press release this morning withdrawing the Allowance rise.

More to follow ..........................

If this is true, My friends, we have won. Now lets finish her off

Barnet Homes - Heartless and Crass

Edward Meakins moved into his home when he was nine.He's now 83. His sister died recently and his landlord, Barnet Homes announced that now his house is too big for him. They want to put him into Sheltered Accomodation (presumably with no onsite warden). Given the fact his home is immaculately kept, with a fine show of roses and the fact he's clearly living quite well independently, a move to sheltered accomodation is purely to suit the whim of this quango.

My guess is that a move to a sheltered flat without his beloved roses will shuffle Mr Meakins off to an early grave. I doubt that the family who moves in will lovingly tend the flowers and the sight of this will probably be enough to finish him off (although I sincerely hope I'm wrong). There are hundreds of people in local authority accomodation in Barnet in the wrong sized home. My guess is that most of them are in places that are too small. This isn't the fault of people like Mr Meakin, it's the fault of the Council and the Government, who have neglected to build enough houses.

As ever, the bureaucracies of Barnet are shown to be heartless and crass. They don't treat the people they deal with as human beings, just inconveniences. It really makes me sick

http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/8326094.Pensioner__83__may_be_forced_from_family_home_of_74_years/?ref=mc

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Crikey - Them blogs of Barnet, they're all at it now !!!!!

Did you know that watermelon is known as natural viagra. If your loved one needs, shall we say, perking up, get them to tuck into a delicious slice of watermelon and they'll be "happy" all night long, as it were. Now this blog doesn't normally do sex tips, but after the last few weeks in Barnet, lets face it, we all need some light relief.

Regular readers will know that such tips are not the normal staple of this blog.  Mostly it's Barnet politics with a bit of Music and Football thrown in. I normally do a roundup of the various Barnet blogs at the weekend. Trouble is that apart from the Broaway Blog, they are all full of the same thing -  The news that Mark "Sharp" Shooter is taking on Barnet's Arseholy trinity of Coleman / Hillan / Harper. Even Mike Freer's "official blog" has got in on the advising his former colleagues to "do their homework and make the right decision". What on earth does this mean?

Another interesting development is the return of Statler and Waldorfs blog - http://www.barnetcouncil.net/ -  I must also thank Vicki M for reminding me of exactly why I quit the Labour party last year - http://vickim57.blogspot.com/2010/08/two-jags-and-posh-git.html - Mrs Angry is cementing her reputation as the Picaso of Barnet Politics with another superb graphic on her latest blog - http://wwwbrokenbarnet.blogspot.com/2010/08/once-upon-time-in-broken-barnet.html - One blog I've been meaning to mention is a rather bizarre offering from former Edgware Tory Councillor Richard F Weider - Mr Weider moved to Israel last year. He's clearly starting to lose faith in the Tories as he is very critical of David Cameron for criticising Israel. I think it would be fair to describe Mr Weider as a Zionist, so I was truly shocked by the contents of this blog. Mr Weider seems to imply that Israel is managing the flow of missiles to Hamas, which are then fired back at Israel. Is Mr Weider becoming a conspiracy theorist, accusing the Israeli state of manufacturing a pretext for  a state of permanent war? I left a comment asking him to clarify whether he'd simply drafted his blog rather clumsily, but he's declined to change it or even respond, so we have to assume that he meant what he said - http://richardfweider.blogspot.com/2010/08/david-cameron-v-shimon-peres.html -

Yet again this week, the "established press" - The Times and the Pres group are full of letters about the allowance rise. I await with interest how they react to "Sharp" Shooter's leadership bid. August is normally a quiet news month in a Borough such as Barnet. I believe the Arseholy Trinity deliberately changed the allowances at the July meeting as a cynical attempt to slip it through unnoticed. Sadly for them, they couldn't have got it more wrong. As Mrs Angry says, there will be blood spilled before this one is played out.

Oh and before I sign off for the weekend, I thought I'd just share the latest rumour from my friends in the Barnet Tory Bunker. The old guard (ie the Arseholy Trinity) are working on a contingency plan in case "Sharp" Shooter holes the Hillan Supertanker below the waterline. The strategy is this. A) Try and brazen it out with Hillan in charge and keep as much cash as they can (maybe a concessionary don't take it this year or donate it to charity). If the numbers don't add up, then they move to plan B. This is to get Hillan to bow out gracefully on some pretext (she doesn't know this yet). They then propose a "unity candidate" from the old guard. They buy off a couple of Shooters top supporters with cabinet roles (Hillan's departure will create one and there is another member who they don't trust and want to shaft). They will then propose a modified, stepped approach to the introduction of the allowances (or drop it completely if that won't wash, half a gherkin is better than no gherkins at all). Sadly the key part of all this is to keep as much cash as possible for the old guard. It seems that both of these options work pretty well for the chief whip, Brian Coleman.

I suspect that no one would be more surprised than Brian if he heard who tipped me off about all of this or why. It may well be Brian Coleman is getting a little paranoid about who is leaking what to who. Anyway Brian my advice to you is cut yourself a big slice of watermelon, pour yourself a nice glass of red wine, put on some nice music and look at yourself in the mirror. That way you can spend a pleasant evening with the only politican in Barnet who still respects you, rates your talents and that you can trust. These days not many things truly shock me, but today the contents of my email in box has. I can't decide whether they are trying to find out what I know and who's been tipping me off, or whether they genuinely have realised the games up. To be honest, I don't much care either.

Sean Bean tells Brian Coleman to **** off

If you want a good laugh at Brian Colemans expense, buy todays Sunday Express and turn to page 37. In the cross bencher column, they print a story where Brian Coleman reveals that Sean Bean told him to "**** off" when Coleman tried to canvass him in Belsize Park. Coleman rather snootily reveals that Mrs Bean is a Tory voter and suggests that maybe the reason for the marital problems of the Beans is that Mr Bean can't stand being married to a Tory. What intrugues me is why it hasn't occurred to Coleman that Sean Bean knew exactly who he was and gave the only sensible answer possible if Brian Coleman disturbs your peace when you are out with your wife.

Allowancegate : The revolt grows

News reaches the Barnet Eye that the Mark Shooter Leadership bid has caused some stirrings in other parts of the organisation. The word on the street is that some of the "young guns" have decided that "establishment lackies" such as group chair Wendy Prentice and group treasurer Hugh Rayner are also a big part of the problem. It seems that many Tories (including some rather important figures from beyond the shores of Barnet) have decided that only a new broom will do. It has become abundantly clear that the organisation is not functioning, with vital organisational tasks such as fundraising breaking down. The Conservative party has traditionally done rather well from rich benefactors. Allowancegate has made some of these question whether it's a brand they want to be associated with.

The Tories are faced with a stark choice. Have a mass clearout of dead wood or find themselves as bankrupt financially as they are morally.  Whilst several local vested interests are currently "helping out", anyone with half a brain realises that this is only a short term stop gap as this cash will dry up when the favours are no longer needed.

The Barnet Eye predicts that the whole shape of the Conservative Party in Barnet will change over the next few months. Names such as Dean Cohen and Rowen Turner are ones to watch. The big question is what will happen after this bloodletting? Word reaches this blog of some rather apocalyptic prophesies from that well known soothsayer Brian Coleman. The terms "betrayal" are being bandied about and talk of "scores being settled". "Sources close" to Brian Coleman have let it known that he intends to "destroy Mark Shooter". Many readers of this blog may recall he made similar threats aboout me and my blog. That plan worked well. There's a well known Barnet blog called "Brian Coleman AKA Mr Toad has got to go". In my role as the mystic meg of Barnet, I have a prediction of my own about that blog. I predict that it may need a name change some time soon.

Allowancegate : The background to the Mark Shooter Leadership bid

The game of Leadership poker is hotting up. Who knows what rabbit the arseholy Trinity of Coleman, Hillan and Harper are planning to pull out of the hat next? A deferal of the allowance, a statement of contrition? Maybe they'll all visit the Pope on his tour and ask for absolution from their sins. The truth is that they are floundering. Mark Shooters proposal to scrap the hike has caught them with their pants down and they are scampering around looking for a fig leaf.

A councillor very close to Mark Shooters leadership bid at Barnet Council contacted me yesterday. I started this blog because I felt the leadership of Barnet Council had lost touch and yesterday I had confirmation that this is a view held by a substancial number of Barnet Tory Councillors.

The problems for Hillan started at a meeting of Councillors to discuss the councils finances. When the meeting started, Hillan handed out a set of spreadsheets detailing the plans to redistribute the cash into her pocket and that of her cronies. Brian Coleman left all of the attendent Tory Councillors in no doubt whatsoever that they would be "finished" if they voted against it. Rather sadly, the bullying worked. What no one within the Tory group had predicted was the public outcry. Hillan, Coleman and friends hunkered down, knowing they could count the cash. A large group of Tory Councillors felt rather different. They knew they'd been forced to take a decision that they didn't agree with and were at the sharp end of the public reaction. Mark Shooter and a few other councillors soon came to realise that the group had totally misjudged the public mood. It became clear that a large group in the Barnet Tories has no confidence in the leadership and realised that they couldn't sit back and do nothing.

Having lost their political virginity, they then started discussing the whole way Barnet Council is being run. The Hillan cabinet are completely tribal and driven by the need to line their own pockets. To have a Barnet Tory councillor say this rather took me back. He explained that many decisions are taken with no thought to any consequences. Staff are held in contempt. He explained that decisions such as the abolition of the Sheltered Housing wardens are tragically misguided. Rather than engaging with staff to cut costs, expensive consultants are brought in to dream up blue sky schemes which will never work and end up costing money. Areas where savings could be made, without damaging front line services, by cutting middle management are not explored, whilst people at the rough edge are left to rot.

It is also quite clear that the concept of public service is lost on Hillan/Coleman and cronies. In many councils, much business is conducted with all party support. This hasn't happened in Barnet for years. Amendments which will make things better for the people of Barnet are voted down, simply because the wrong party drafted them, sometimes with nearly identical motions then being proposed by the Tories to fix the problem, wasting time and effort for everyone.

Another interesting comment was regarding the Brent Cross scheme. I had long suspected this, but no one had the balls to say it out loud. This is purely being passed because the finances of Barnet Council have been destroyed by the Freer/Hillan years of mismanagement. Barnet is desperate for the section 106 money to plug the hole. There you go. The sad truth is that they are going to destroy the character of the London Borough of Barnet to save their allowances and plug the hole they've made.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I've been saying much of this for years. What I hadn't realised was just how bad the mess is. There will not be a council election for just under four years. Just about the whole cabinet is tainted by this failure. The team supporting Mark Shooter believes that they can sort the mess out, with support of the staff of Barnet Council and the people of the Borough. They will scrap schemes such as the abolition of warden services, engage the staff to work together to cut costs in a way that spares front line services and they will give scrutiny committees more power to change bad schemes. The opposition will not be completely marginalised and where they are pushing for sensible measures these will be listened to sympathetically. In short, all 63 Barnet councillors (who are all paid an allowance) will have a role to play in making Barnet a better place, rather than just eleven cabinet members.

I stated that as I'm not a Tory I won't be formally endorsing Mark Shooter. Whilst I'll never be a Conservative, if Mark Shooter publicly commits to saving the sheltered housing wardens, abolishing the allowance rise, protecting front line services and cutting waste, I will do everything I can to help him kick out Hillan/Coleman and their chums. I suspect that after the Freer/Hillan years, many other people will agree.

I know that Brian Coleman is a regular reader of this blog. I have a little conundrum for him.  Brian, can you guess the identity of the two cabinet members who are trying to butter up Mark Shooter and his team, in the event that he wins, so they can keep their job? As a chief whip, it's your job to know these things - you might be rather surprised when you find out, I didn't have them down as that type. Of course they'll all deny it when you ask. Politics is a rough and dirty business.

Football Analysis : How much do we pay this bloke?

I had a very pleasant lunchtime pint with one of my oldest friends at the Mill Hill Services club. He was there with his Dad, who is a great guy. Brian is a Spurs fan and I'm a City fan and we met to watch the match, the first of the Premiership season. There are two things we agreed on at the end. Firstly that Premiership football is a far better spectacle than the crap served up at the recent world cup. Secondly that Joe Hart was simply superb, the man of the match by a mile.

How much is Fabio Capello paid? Being a City fan, I've followed Hart's progress. How on earth could he have missed the fact that this guy is outstanding. I went to the England Vs Hungary match midweek and it is clear that the defence trust him. He played a blinder for Birmingham City last year and started in blistering form today. City could have been 3-0 down at half time. Capello is payed a kings ransom to keep an eye on these players and know who can do the job. Todays match and Weds England match confirmed everything I thought about our world cup campaign. Crouch & Defoe are a solid partnership and better than any Capello tried, Adam Johnson is a great player to bring on as an impact sub.

Ever since the world cup, I've been wondering if I'd lost interest in football. By 3pm, I realised I hadn't

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Richard Barnbrook quits the BNP

Richard Barnbrook, the BNP's sole representative on the GLA has resigned the BNP whip and will now sit as an independent. Given that Barnbrook has only made one press release since October 2008, I doubt that this really makes much difference to anything. It seems Mr Barnbrook's sole role at the GLA is to prove that it is possible to be worse at your job than Brian Coleman.

Allowancegate : Mark Shooter Leadership Bid - The Empire Strikes Back

It didn't take Hillan and Co long did it? The sixth comment on the following story is absolutely typical of what Mark Shooter can expect as he ramps up his bid.


http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/8332019.EXCLUSIVE__Tory_councillor_looks_for_support_to_begin_leadership_challenge/

The actual comment :-

whtvr, hendon says...
7:29pm Fri 13 Aug 10
is this the same mark shooter 
 
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?sid=aehuMSW1UH0A&pid=newsarchive

lost a few hundred million for his clients but still walked away a multi milionaire himself.... wow what a moral man not taking a pay rise and is nonone concerened about him being incharge of budget
 
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This comment is absolutely typical of the sort left by "sources close to the Tory Leadership". I'd even put a fiver on the author. It does show that they are seriously worried. Now I've limited knowledge of hedge funds. What I do know is this, they are at the riskiest end of investments. When they work you make a shedload of cash and when they don't you lose it. Anyone investing in a hedge fund should only do so if they can afford to lose the lot. As far as I can tell, Shooter Fund Management LLP Ltd is still trading. It clearly had a bad year 2007-8, but I'm rather intrigued that they had to go back three years to find a bad story. What has happened since then? Well the Hendon Conservative Party selected Shooter to stand as Councillor for Hendon. They clearly know all about him and were happy enough.

If they are saying that running a company which loses money disqualifies you from being Leader of the Council, then surely Hillan must go. The company she was the boss of, Ashurst Direct Marketing Ltd went bust in 2006. Has Mark Shooters business career prepared him for a role such as running a council? Clearly he's got to make that case. He appears to be a dynamic player, a risk taker by nature. Is this what we want from a Council Leader? It is a question Mark Shooter needs to answer. The point is that so far the choice is him or Hillan. Both are clearly risk takers, it appears that Shooter is rather better at calculating the odds. Whilst Hillan is happy to live in an Ivory Tower and take the mickey out of the rest of us, at least Shooter has the sense to listen to what the people who elected him are saying. I'm not a Tory, quite the opposite. I'm not going to endorse anyone, but if it was down to me I'd say the choice between Shooter and Hillan is rather like a choice between a hiccup and a heart attack.

Expect more of this stuff from "The Helpers of Hillan"

Friday, 13 August 2010

Allowancegate : Barnet Eye victory - Councillor Mark Shooter challenges Hillan for Leadership of Barnet Tories


Hendon ward Councillor Mark Shooter, today announced a challenge to the Leadership of Barnet Council. Whilst Councillor Shooter initially voted for the rise, he has clearly thought about it and seen sense.  The Barnet Eye is proud to say that we have played a part in his decision, by keeping the story rolling and helping Ex Councillor Dan Hope launch "The Barnet Declaration" which Councillor Shooter appears to have adopted.

Given that I am not and never have been a Conservative and it is possible that in a narrow party political way, keeping a fatally damaged Lynne Hillan may be good for the opposition, it would be easy for this blog to stand back and say "they are all the same old Tories, they are all just as bad as each other".

I can't do that. It would be completely dishonest and would not be in the best interests of the people who live in my home town.

The Tories have a large majority and are in charge at a time of extreme challenges in public finance. Lynne Hillan championed the destruction of the sheltered housing warden network. She has shown herself time and time again to be a callous operator who cares nothing for the most vulnerable members of society. She didn't have to champion the destruction of sheltered housing, she didn't have to champion the huge rises in allowances for herself and her cronies. We saw both sides of her in these two actions and they are not pleasant. Having campaigned every single day for a month for a change to this policy, it would be hypocritical and dishonest to miss the opportunity to kill it dead in its tracks.


Mark Shooters letter to his fellow Tories is reproduced left (click on this for a readable version). Shooter cites the following reasons for standing.

•    The appalling way Cllr Kate Salinger was treated following her conscience driven abstention. We should not need to use bullying tactics to control people.
•    The attempts to limit discussions at the residents’ forums, which I entirely disagree with as I believe it undermines democracy.
•    The recent statements of senior politicians who are doggedly trying to convince the public that they are worth their pay increases despite criticism from our central government colleagues and in the face of an enormous public outcry. From private discussions, I know that I am not the only Conservative Councillor to feel very alarmed and I believe that I have the support of a significant number of my colleagues in taking this stand.

I don't expect Mark Shooter to be the answer to all of my dreams for Barnet. I just think he'll be significantly less bad for us all. The Lynne Hillan regime have let the people of Barnet down badly. They have united just about everyone against them and they now have caused an open revolt within their own councillors. As I'm not a Tory, I don't have a vote and Hillan would probably use my endorsement against Mark Shooter, I'm not going to say anything else apart from this. Nothing would be better for Barnet than for Lynne Hillan to get the sack. I wish Mark Shooter the very best of luck. Given the record of the rest of Barnets Tory councillors he's going to need it.

The fact that the campaign, spearheaded by the Barnet Eye has made one Conservative Councillor see sense is a huge victory. If another 18 of them can be persuaded, it will be a great day indeed for the citizens, because it is their pressure which has made this happen. 

Allowancegate : James Cleverly on Fat Cat Hypocrites

Tory GLA member James Cleverly yesterday berated Bob Crow on his "fat cat 12% payrise".

http://jamescleverly.blogspot.com/2010/08/fat-cat-bob-crow.html

Well James, if you don't want to look like a complete hypocrite yourself, let's have a blog criticising your fellow GLA member Brian Coleman for his 100% allowance increase at Barnet Council.

If you can criticise Crow for a 12% increase, then surely Brian Coleman is 8 and a bit times worse !!!!

Come on James, take a stand against something where your views may actually carry a bit of weight

Lets face it, Brian Coleman is making you look like a bunch of berks (that's rhyming slang you know).

Thursday, 12 August 2010

I'm Alive - In Memorium of my good mate Mick Couch

This post is dedicated to my good mate Mick Couch who died unexpectedly yesterday


999 - I'm Alive

It's a sad affliction causing me restriction
This isn't what I wanted to do
I just cant belive it I would like to leave it
And get into something new
Just about to lose my mind
Working just drives me wild
Watch out for me now cos

I'm alive I'm alive I'm alive


Don't like pretty bureaucracies and detentions

Don't wear those funny clothes
Get into schemes or pensions
Do the same thing every day
I cant stay up to late
Watch out for me now cos

Stuff you in a pakage send you

Flight inter-continental
Your not having me that stuff
Just drives me mental
I'm gonna stay right here
Aint got nothing to fear
Watch out for me now cos

I'm alive watch the clock

I'm alive sitting here
I'm alive fall asleep
I'm alive loads of sheep

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I'm sure that as we speak, Mick is driving up to those pearly gates on his heavenly Harley and looking for a decent bar. Condolences to Jackie and the rest of the family. For some reason this song really reminds me of Mick. I've had it on my brain for a couple of days and when I got the call this evening, I guess I realised why.

The Barnet Declaration


1. Unacceptable rise. We find the increase to top Councillor's pay unacceptable, especially in the light of the public sector pay freeze.

2. No publicity for proposal. We agree with the GMB Union that the way the Council proceeded to alter the allowances was disgraceful, publishing the proposals just one day before the meeting.

3. Whipping was wrong. We agree with Matthew Offord MP that it was wrong that Conservative Councillors rigorously whipped to support the Leader's proposed pay rise but also that a Councillor was publicly stripped of her positions for abstaining in the vote.

4. Support opposition. We support the views expressed by Conservative MP Grant Shapps who roundly condemned the Council's move that have been endorsed by Mike Freer MP, Matthew Offord MP, Councillors Alison Moore and Jack Cohen.

5. Allowance rise must be reversed. We call for a special meeting of the Council to be called, with appropriate publicity, to consider either nullifying the decision of the last meeting of the Council and / or reverting to the March scheme of allowances with a 5% reduction to show leadership at this time.

What do we want?
The increase reversed!
When to we want it?
Now!

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Thanks to Anon for the poster. Thanks to Former Tory Councillor Dan Hope for drafting the Barnet Declaration. As Dan has rightly pointed out, these principles are supported on all sides of the political divide. It is, rather sadly, only the greedy senior councillors in Barnet Council who are marching out of step - The declaration was originally left by Dan as a comment, but it sums up our campaign and has been drafted in such a way that only a greedy trougher could possibly disagree.

Brian Coleman finally defeats Rog T

I admit it. After 6 years of trying, Councillor Brian Coleman, Barnet's very own Jabba The Hut has finally got the better of me. For years, I've been able to trump everyone I know, because I used to have "The Worst Job in the World" when I was a youngster. Many have tried to make claim to this, many have failed. I now must hand the crown over. In my blog yesterday, I revealed a communication from the offices of Brian Coleman at the GLA. Brian has beaten me. I must hand over my crown to :-

Juliet Donnelly
PA to Cllr Brian Coleman AM FRSA

I can think of no job I'd less rather do. I just hope that Juliet has a different view of Mr Coleman and the prospect of working for him than I do. well done to Brian for finally trumping me by creating this post.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

GLA Tory Update : The Dinosaurs Vs The Sensiblists

Earlier this week, I posted a blog detailing my support for the Boris Bike scheme and suggesting that I'd really rather like it to be rolled out in Mill Hill (and other parts of Barnet). It strikes me that with the RAF museum about a ten minute cycle from Mill Hill Broadway Thameslink, it would work extremely well and maybe First Capital Connect could sponsor a docking station. A Borough more forward thinking than Barnet would probably pay for the docking stations at the RAF museum as a way of promoting the Borough. In an effort to promote interest in the idea, I emailed all of the Conservative GLA members with a survey and asked for their views on the scheme and it's rollout to the suburbs. I got a few "out of office" notifications and a few replies. The most interesting was from Richard Tracey, who is Conservative Lead on transport. Here's what Richard had to say :-

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Thanks for asking


a) Have you used the Boris Bike scheme yet?
b) Do you intend to use the scheme in future?
c) Do you think the scheme is value for money?
d) Would you like to see the scheme rolled out in outer suburbs such as Barnet?

a. No
b. Probably, when it is bedded in -  to see for myself how it works
c. Yes
d. Most certainly in my constituency in SW London. I'll leave opinions on a Barnet expansion to my colleague.

Good wishes

Richard Tracey
Conservative Lead on London Assembly Transport Committee
GLA Merton & Wandsworth
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All in all a very sensible response and one which bodes well for the future of the scheme. Many thanks to Richard for this. Of course this begs the question of what the GLA member for Barnet, Brian Coleman had to say. Well, this was his reply, via his PA.

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Brian Coleman has asked me to send you the following message:

"Thank you for your email regarding the Mayor of London's Barclay's Cycle Hire Scheme. I am afraid that London Assembly Conservatives never respond to questionnaires. However, I can assure you that my colleagues and I are fully supportive of the Mayor's scheme."

Juliet Donnelly
PA to Cllr Brian Coleman AM FRSA
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How odd? How come that Brian Coleman states that the Tories never respond to questionnaires, whilst his esteemed and sensible colleague sent a reply. Not wishing to drop Mr Tracey in it for being helpful, I immediately fired off an email requesting clarification what the policy on answering questionaires is for the London GLA Tories. Surely they hadn't adopted such a Stalinist stance. A quick email to the Tory top brass was met with the following response

"The Group has no policy on responding to questionnaires"  and "Where the request is for individual opinions - as in this case - individual members are free to respond as they wish."

So in light of this, why has Brian Coleman instructed his PA to respond in such a way? Telling porkies about group policy just won't do. What I don't really understand is why Brian Coleman digs himself into these holes. Why make things up, which are demonstrably factually incorrect. Whilst Brian Coleman probably detests this blog, we actually have a few areas where we agree with him. Most noticably the Brent Cross redevelopment & Incinerator which he opposes, the Law on prostitution and from his comment, the Boris Bike. This blog is the most widely read in Barnet, not least by his colleagues.  Telling a blog that you agree with Boris and that you want the scheme in Barnet at the appropriate time (or not) in no way endorses that blog, it just shows that the individual is capable of answering a sensible question with a sensible answer. Media is evolving. Blogs are a new medium, but an increasingly influential one. Sensible Tories such as Richard Tracey, recognise this and use the medium to get across a positive message, in this case that the Tories have a decent policy. Dinsosaurs such as Brian Coleman just cause themselves trouble and embarrassment - completely needlessly in this case. Why not just say "I never answer questionaires" - A response which would have clearly been honest and reasonable.

I am pleased that Mr Coleman is fully supportive of the scheme, but as he's the Barnet Council Cabinet Member for Transport and my GLA member, I feel that a fuller answer is required with regards to the future of the scheme in Barnet.  As transport supremo, it would be nice for Brian to shock a few of us and put some cash into this innovative and green scheme. Many of us would like to see cycling and cycle lanes promoted far more vigourously in Barnet. Maybe Boris can have an word in his ear at the next GLA booze up.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The Barnet Declaration - on Wiki

https://www.wikispaces.com/user/join?goto=http://thebarnetdeclaration.wikispaces.com%2Fthebarnetdeclaration

Together we can make a change

http://thebarnetdeclaration.wikispaces.com/ 

Please support the Barnet declaration. The people who made this necessary are counting on their opponents to start fighting, falling out and bickering. The vast majority of all members of all political parties in Barnet are totally opposed to the troughing that the allowance rise for senior councillors symbolises. The only weapon they have is to "divide and rule". Lets come together as a community to make a difference. If you do not support this declaration on the narrow grounds that you don't like someone else who supports it, you are supporting Coleman, Hillan et all by default. Don't give them that satisfaction

Thameslink - FCC find a new way to be useless - Oyster chaos at City Thameslink

Monday Morning,
Feeling Fragile,
Mind's a wreck,
Far from agile

So it was I found myself at the barriers of "City Thameslink" station at 08:20 yesterday morning, wanting to touch out with my Oyster card. I touched it and no beep. I walked up and down and none of the touchpads were working. At this I decided to ask an FCC inspector, who had watched me sneeringly from the side. "Oyster is nothing to do with us" he informed me "It's not working at this station, we've called the engineer". Ok, so what do I do, I asked, aware that I'd be charged the highest fare possible - £6 rather than the correct fare of £3.10. He helpfully responded. "Ring the number on the card" and turned away. Marvellous customer service as ever.

This I then did - to an 0845 number, which presumably means I've been charged for the privelige. The number informed me "If the query is regarding overcharging, please wait 24 hours so that our systems have time to update". So I've been overcharged and I have to wait 24 hours - marvellous.

This morning I ring up. I've waited 24 hours. I call the 0845 number again. This time I navigate through the options. I am informed I have a 4 minute wait for an operator. After an indeterminate period, I get through. A chirpy chap says "oh yes, no problem at all" and tells me that he's put the refund back on. He asks me what station I want the refund at? I am confused, do I have to collect a cheque? No, next time I touch in at that station, my card will be refunded, but I must do it within 7 days. Ok, but why can't he just refund me now? It's not possible, the system does it like this.

Anyway this evening I passed through City Thameslink again. Still no Oyster service. There wasn't even anyone around to ask what to do. Just a chalkboard saying you can touch out but you can't touch in? I give up. I hope it has cost FCC a fortune.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Allowancegate : How many people in Barnet get to set the level of their own pay rise

As regular readers will know, the Leader of Barnet Council Lynne Hillan has awarded herself a whopping great pay rise this year. Who pays for this? We do. Do we get a say in this? Nope, they kept the scheme quiet until after the election. Mind you Lynne Hillan doesn't only get to decide her own payrise. She also gets to decide the payrise for her mates in the cabinet, who have to OK it. Guess what? They all got a payrise as well. Then there's her "lesser mates" who are the ordinary Tory councillors. They got a pay cut, but Lynne told them if they didn't back it, they'd get an even bigger cut, because she'd strip them of their jobs such as committee chairs (a la Kate Salinger) and they'd get even less. She knew there would be plenty of Barry Evangeli style toadies, just waiting to take the jobs.

Then there are the senior executives of Barnet Council, who she needs to keep sweet. They've all had massive pay rises in the last year. Now you might think that a job at Barnet Council like a winning lottery ticket. Well it is for the elite. Sadly for the average worker, the person who mends your street or wipes your grannies bum when she becomes incontinent, a different set of rules apply. Budgets are being challenged, overtime cut, jobs lost and services withrdrawn.

Who in Barnet gets to set their own pay rise? The Barnet Elite. Is it wrong.  Yes. Can we do anything about it? Yes, sign the petitions in the green bar at the side. Tell them what you think.

Here's a few comments from the Residents association petition


"This is disgraceful behaviour in the light of the cut backs that will effect so many residents of Barnet""

"We have already written to Cllr Hillan with copies to David Cameron, Eric Pickles, Michael Freer and Theresa Villiers expressing our outrage and disgust. So far have received reply from Michael Freer who agreed that increases were unjustifiable. Hoping he will take it further."


"I support this petition to the utmost. I think that we should call for a re-election and strive to get genuine councillors who stand for local democracy and decent standards in public life - something the Conservative councillors seem to know nothing about."

"At this credit crunch time it is unpolitical and outrageous to increase the allowances by even the cost of living index let alone by a huge amount."


 "As a pensioner I am feeling the effects of the recent rise in prices and drop in interest rates. While I reluctantly accept the necessity of this I am disgusted by the greed of Barnet council members."

Sign the petition and have your say.

Anti Semitic watchdog website criticises Mike Freer

http://www.anti-semitism.net/jewish/99-is-mike-freer-describes-jewish-critics-of-david.php

It seems that Mike Freer's unflattering comments about the large Jewish community in his constituency has not been well received. Rightly so.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Barnet Eye Campaign - Boris Bikes for Barnet

On Friday morning at 8.20 am I conducted a little poll. As I walked down New Bridge Street in Blackfriars from Fleet St to Bridewell Place, I thought I'd count how many lovely blue shiny new Boris bikes passed me going up the hill in the one minute the walk took. The answer - 2. A 50/50 mix of the sexes as well. I think the scheme is a fantastic idea. I spoke to a local Green on Saturday who grumbled about it, but the only rational reason I could spot for her moaning was that it was associated with Boris. I suspect her grumps "It's too expensive", "You don't get a helmet", "It's only in the city for the rich" would not have been mentioned had green GLA member Darren Johnson been the champion of the scheme rather than Boris.

Rather strangely, I think that often Tories are better at doing "Iconic statements" than the left. This blog has previously mentioned that the last Tory to run London, Horace Cutler, was the bloke who invented the London Marathon. At the time this was derided by the opposition. Sadly for Horace, it didn't become known as the Horaceathon. The Boris bike is most certainly part of brand Boris, even though the preparation for the scheme began under Ken Livingstone.

The question for me as a resident of Barnet is this. When can we expect to see Boris bikes here? I think it would be great to have a Boris Bike depot at Mill Hill Broadway train station. This would allow visitors from Central London to access the RAF museum at Hendon quickly and easily and would enhance a great day out. If First Capital Connect had any commercial acumen, they would immediately pay for a station and market it like mad to tourists. Given the number of great cafe's, restaurants and stores in Mill Hill, surely you don't have to be a genius to see the potential.

This blog is starting a campaign for Boris Bikes in Barnet. I have kicked it off by emailing all London GLA Tory members with the following questionaire :-
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Boris Bike - Survey of Conservative GLA members


This week saw the extremely successfull launch of the Boris Bike hire scheme. I am pleased to say that the scheme is popular with Londoners and looks likely to become a lasting monument to Boris's reign as mayor. I am emailing all Conservative GLA members to kindly ask if they could answer the following three questions. I will be publishing the results in the Barnet Eye blog. FYI - Whilst the blog is not generally supportive of Boris or the Conservative regime, we are fully behind this scheme. This is for a positive piece on the scheme, which will be suggesting it is rolled out in Barnet ASAP. A simple yes/no will suffice, of course a more detailed answer would be appreciated.

a) Have you used the Boris Bike scheme yet?
b) Do you intend to use the scheme in future?
c) Do you think the scheme is value for money?
d) Would you like to see the scheme rolled out in outer suburbs such as Barnet?

Please feel free to add any comment you feel appropriate.

Thank you

Roger Tichborne
The Barnet Eye
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I will post a blog detailing the responses later in the week. Our local GLA rep is Brian Coleman, he's also the Barnet Transport supremo.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Coleman on Ken - Firemen to be given 90 days notice

Brian Coleman has just told Ken Livingsone on the LBC 97.3 radio show that he's going to give all of Londons firemen 90 days notice if they don't accept new shift patterns and other changes. That's Brian Coleman who earns between £114,000 and £130,000 per annum depending on who you believe. The same Brian Coleman who voted himself and other cabinet members a huge payrise of 100%. The same Brian Coleman who used his role as chief whip of the Barnet Tory group to publicly humiliate Kate Salinger for abstaining in the vote. The man is a bully and a menace

pwosecuting pwostitutes with Bwian Coleman

Just been listening to my old mate Brian Coleman on the Ken Livingstone show. Brian Coleman is reviewing the press as we speak. He's just announced that he doesn't believe in "pwosecuting pwostitutes" and thinks that so long as that they operate from their homes and don't bother anyone, the police should leave them alone. Bwian thinks the police should concentrate their resources on "pumelling the pimps" who traffic young girls.

Well I agree with Bwian on this. Maybe he'd like to explain more to the tens of thousands of Barnet Eye readers in a guest blog.  I couldn't let this rare moment of unity pass without weminding Bwian that part of his defence against my standards complaint was that I stated he had an amusing speech impediment and he said that this was clearly a porkie. Have a listen. Anyw
ay here is an interesting clip of an ancestor of Brian Coleman, who clearly came fwom the same gene pool.

Brent Cross - They don't give a toss

Have a look at this picture, mocked up by the architects to demonstrate just how lovely the new Brent Cross is. Look really carefully at the "riverside scene". What do you see? Can you see the toddlers playing by the River Brent. Can you see that there is drop of a couple of feet into the river? Are they really promoting picnics in such dangerous spots? The use of perspective in the picture intrigues me. By clever angles a river which is 25ft wide appears the same size as a huge block of flats six stories high. The backside of a young mum is larger than the top three stories of the tower at the back of the picture. There is another view of this idylic development. Try this

In this picture, you can see just how big the blocks are. Nope they are not the same size as a young mum's Bum. They dwarf the London Bus in the bottom right hand corner. The Leader of Barnet Council proudly boasted that the Brent Cross Development would give the Borough an exciting new Town Centre. What sort of a Town will it be? It will be one with the largest road junction in London, an eleven lane highway, clogged with traffic dividing it in half. It is bounded by the Brent Cross flyover to the East, and the M1/Staples Corner flyover to the West. As to being a safe environment to raise children, well I'd guess that there wouldn't be anywhere in London with more cars spouting out pollution than this. Is there a larger conglomeration of roads anywhere? Of course the planners of this feel that this already polluted air quality is not polluted enough and are planning an incinerator. It is no secret that there are all sorts of cancer hotspots in the vicinity of such installations. Where is the "green space" for children to play? Down by the ungarded banks of the River Brent where there is no fencing to prevent them falling in? A river prone to flash flooding. There is also the railway passing by to the East. I guess if the kids get bored with the river, they could play on the tracks, maybe a nice game of chicken in front of the Freight Trains carrying nuclear waste to Sellafield, which rumble through.

At  a hurriedly convened meeting of the Hendon planning committee last week, the plans for this monstrosity received approval. For some strange reason, the whole process was suddenly speeded up just as the holiday season started.

I attended  the Hendon & District residents Forum where Barnet Council Official, Martin Cowie informed us that the meeting was only discussing the extension of the time limits, as a legal requirement, which seemed reasonable enough. This week the Times tells us that the extension will give stakeholders a chance to give extra input- They said "These controls will ensure Barnet Council and the other stakeholders and in particular TfL will continue to have real control and input into how the Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration is taken forward - and that public transport, infrastructure and community investment keeps pace with development." So who thinks this is a good idea? Well it seems that the chair of the planning committee does. Her name Wendy Prentice.


Wendy Prentice thinks that children who grow up in an extremely polluted environment, with no green spaces to play, bounded by dangerous roads, railways and rivers will grow up into happy, healthy children. So what sort of a road does Ms Prentice live in.  Well I googled her road and looked at the streetview? What does Ms Greenspan see when she walks down her road? Well she sees something like this :-


Make no mistake, if you live in the London Borough of Barnet, you are a stakeholder. How many people of the board of TFL live in Barnet. It is telling that the most important stakeholder mentioned in the Times article is TFL, who are responsible for the roads which run through it. Their remit is not the well being of the children of Barnet. If like me you think that this whole scheme is scandalous and we are building a future slum city, with huge urban problems, which will blight Barnet forever, please don't sit on your hands. Send an email to Ms Prentice, who is the councillor responsible for the decision and tell her that you think Barnet should put the wellbeing of children before the profits of developers and that you think multi story tower blocks, roads, dangerous rivers, railway sidings and gas incinerators are no environment to raise your family - cllr.w.prentice@barnet.gov.uk|