Monday, 31 October 2011

Councillor Brian "live in the real world" Coleman gets a free holiday in Cyprus

On Monday 17th October, the BarnetEye printed an email from Councillor Brian Coleman, telling a single mother with a six year old child to live in the real world. Her crime? Having the audicity to ask him for advice with a housing issue - http://barneteye.blogspot.com/2011/10/when-will-councillor-brian-coleman-stop.html -
what is even more galling is that whilst Sharada Osman (the lady in question) is struggling to survive on benefits, Coleman not only gets £120,000 a year from the taxpayer for a series of part time jobs, but he gets a charity flat with a subsidised rent from the Methodist Church.

As if that wasn't bad enough, it has now emerged that three days before he sent Ms Osman the letter, he had been on holiday at the expense of the taxpayers of Cyprus. Full details of this holiday and associated free dinners are listed on his "gifts and hospitality" register at the GLA and LFEPA. How on Earth Coleman has the gall to tell a struggling single mum to live in the world, three days after getting back from a "ponceathon" sponging off everyone from the municipality of Morpheau to the local fire chief is totally beyond me.

These are the items off the gifts registers :-
10-OCT-11 Bottle of Greek Brandy    Mrs C Iacouidou
10th October Lunch at Evohia Restaurant Nicosia     Municipality of Morphou

08/10/2011 Lunch at the Hilton, Nicosia, Cyprus. Estimated value: £35.00 Mr Markos Trangolas, Chief Fire Officer, Cyprus Fire Service.

07-OCT-11Meals at restaurants in Cyprus during Visit to Cyprus to attend events organised by the Municipality of Morphou to protest against the Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus. 7th October Dinner at Pavilion Restaurant in Nicosia 8th October Dinner at Hilton Hotel Nicosia 9th October Lunch at Stavros tis Asinou

07-OCT-11 Visit to Cyprus (7 - 10 October) to attend events organised by the Municipality of Morphou to protest against the Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus. Return flights with Cyprusair from London to Larnaca and 3 nights bed and breakfast at the Hilton Park Hotel in Nicosia    Municipality of Morphou

Full details here :-
http://www.london.gov.uk/pls/apex/f?p=135:2:3994349368602374:fsp_sort_2_desc::RP&fsp_region_id=10248804584908268

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

It is interesting to note that Brian Coleman objects to other people staging protests that cost the taxpayer money - http://www.thecnj.com/westend/2009/060509/wnews060509_06.html - but is happy to be flown to Cyprus, scoff himself silly and be flown back at the expense of their taxpayers to "allegedly" protest against the Turkish Invasion (in a well known holiday paradise). Yet another example of the crass hypocracy of Coleman.

One Barnet - Transforming Barnet Council - into Steptoe and Son

And on the theme of Steptoe and son, a large document just appeared on the doorstep. I've scanned the first four pages. It's entitled "One Barnet Procurement Principles" and placed these on the Future Shape Leaks blog - http://barnetfutureshape.blogspot.com/2011/10/barnet-council-secret-documents-one.html - for your perusal.

Section 1 rather ironically says "with the number of staff involved in the process managing confidentiality will be very difficult" - No s**t Sherlock. Barnet are always good for a snigger, if not proper punctuation !

Section two gets into the meat of how the Council want to sell us down the river. It proudly announces "The Council does not have to accept a variant bid if it is the highest scoring, so long as it has reserved this right in advance". In other words, we can take a worse bid, so long as we tell everyone the bidding scoring system is a complete joke.

Section 3 talks about new jobs created by the One Barnet project. It seems to say "We don't know if we want these to be in Barnet or not". My guess is that when cash is king, not is the likely outcome.

Section 4 is a lot of "newspeak" waffle which seems to say "We haven't really got a clue how this will work, so we'll cross our fingers and hope for the best".

Section 5 goes into a lengthy discussion of how the whole process is all about shafting the pension rights of Barnet Council employees.

Section 6 says that local jobs only need be protected if there is no other choice.


I guess it is section 7 that gives the game away "Accomodation can be provided free of charge or at market rental, either way, the cost of hosting services will be a charge to the Council".


It really is a horrible document. Part II will be analysed later this week. When it comes down to it, it is clear that Barnet wishes to apply the Albert Steptoe management principle. Viewers of the series will remember that Albert Steptoe employed his son. His son was welcome to do whatever he wanted, just so long as it completely suited Albert. This is exactly the same attitude as Barnet Council have to their staff.


It is disgusting

It's Dr Who vs Albert Steptoe !

My brother has informed me that someone told him that I have about as much grip on reality as Dr Who and that I need to get myself a Tardis designer should I ever wish to see any of my dreams come to fruition !

It got me thinking about TV series and the characters in them. There is one person who I can see has taken a lead from a massive 1960's TV Icon. The more I thought about it, the more obvious it is. None other than that inspiration to a whole generation of us raised in the 1960's - Albert Steptoe from Steptoe and Sons. Wikipedia sums up the storylines of Steptoe and son as follows :-



Despite his lack of effort Albert routinely and easily proves himself superior to his son whenever they come into competition, such as in their frequent game-playing, e.g., the Scrabble and badminton games from the 1972 series. Harold takes them desperately seriously and sees them as symbols of his desire to improve himself, but they come to nothing every time. His father's success is partly down to superior talent but aided by cynical gamesmanship and undermining of his son's confidence. In addition, Albert habitually has better judgement than his son, who blunders into all sorts of con-tricks and blind alleys as a result of his unrealistic, straw-clutching ideas. Occasionally the tables are turned, but overall the old man is the winner, albeit in a graceless fashion.
Much as it would be nice to imagine that those we oppose are stupid, it is quite clear to me that they usually are not, they just have a very different way of looking at the world and a very different idea of what is at the centre of it. When this is combined with cynicism and a manipulative nature it can prove a toxic mix. Sadly whilst Steptoe the older succeeds in his narrow agenda, the net result is that neither him nor his son ever move on or develop. Both are doomed to remain stuck in an existence that suits neither, both ultimately controlled by their fear of change. Sadly I'm of the opinion that such an influence is being cast in a direction we can all recognise.

I suppose that my riposte to all of those Steptoes out their, criticising all of us Doctor Who types is to remind them that while Steptoe and son tragically disappeared in the 1970's, Dr Who is still going strong, regenerating and reinventing himself for the new decade and the new century. Whilst both Steptoe and Dr Who are characters dreamed up in the imagination of talented writers, in some ways they both reflect different personality types. I guess that given the choice I'd rather be hurtling around the universe in a Tardis anyday than stuck in a rag and bone yard, trying to figure out how knobble the dreams and aspirations of those who I should be inspiring.

Barnet Council FOI special : You really couldn't make this up

As Councillor Daniel Thomas publicly complained that a blogger was costing Barnet Council £40,000 answering FOI requests. His comments were a vicious slur on the reputation of Mr Mustard, the blogger who has worked tirelessly to expose waste at Barnet Council. When I got a non answer that took 20 days to reply to, I asked them how much this non answer cost to produce.

It seems that whilst Councillor Thomas can tell us how much bloggers cost Barnet Council, they can't actually tell me how much it costs to reply to a single email.  It is patently clear that Councillor Thomas was playing fast and loose with the truth and the taxpayer. I wonder if all of the national media outlets which covered Councillor Thomas comments will now print a retraction and an apology to Mr Mustard for the damage to his reputation, given that there is no basis at all for the claim by Thomas and they should have checked their facts.

I've redacted the name of the officer who sent this as doubtless they are just the messenger.

Here is the reply :-
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mr Tichborne

I am writing in relation to your email to the London Borough of Barnet (the Council) dated 6 October 2011.  I am treating your email dated 6 October 2011, as a request for an internal review as recommended in the Code of Practice made under section 45 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the FOIA), because I have had to review how the Council handled your request for information dated 8 September 2011. This internal review is being processed under the FOIA.  My response to your request for an internal review is below.

You have requested an internal review of the Council’s response in relation to the following:

Please can you provide a full breakdown of all costs associated with providing the answer in your email?

Please also provide a breakdown of the time taken by staff to answer it and an explanation as to why it has taken 20 days to supply an answer refusing to provide the information for this reason.
  
I acknowledged your request on 11 October 2011.  I have undertaken the requested internal review. The outcome of my review is set out below.

Response

Part 1

I can confirm that the Council does not hold any information in relation to a full breakdown of all costs associated with providing its response dated 6 October 2011. 

Part 2

I can confirm that the Council does not hold any information in relation to a breakdown of time taken by staff to answer your request for information dated 8 September 2011.   Under the FOIA you were entitled to a prompt response which in any event should have been sent within 20 working days from the date your request is received.   However due to a change of staff and staff shortages which has caused a backlog of work within the Corporate Governance Directorate, Standards and Information Rights Team, the Council responded to your request for information within the statutory 20 working days as prescribed by section 10 of the FOIA.  I am satisfied that the Council has complied with its duty under the FOIA. 

Your right of appeal to the Information Commissioner

We consider we have complied with our obligations under the FOIA. However, if you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF (telephone: 08456  30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45; email casework@ico.gov.uk; website www.ico.gov.uk). There is no charge for making an appeal.

Yours sincerely
  



M**** B*****
Governance Officer
Corporate Governance Directorate
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP
Tel: 020 8359 7***
Barnet Online:
www.barnet.gov.uk
P please consider the environment - do you really need to print this email?

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Mike Freer MP threatened at local mosque

I was rather shocked to read that Mike Freer MP (Finchley and Golders Green) was theatened at a local Mosque where he was holding a constitency surgery. There is a report on the BBC website :-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-15508697

Whilst I am not a member of the Mike Freer fan club, what happend is deplorable. What must be pointed out before any knee jerk reaction is that Freer was at the website as a guest of the Mosque. It appears that an extremist group entitled "Muslims against the Crusades" organised the action. It is clear that this extremist group does not understand or practice the religion they claim to follow. Mike Freer was a guest of the Mosque authorities and as such, under the laws of Islam should have been treated with respect by anyone who claims to follow the religion. Furthermore it is repeated that one of the protestors called Freer a "Jewish Homosexual Pig". To use such language in a Mosque is totally shocking. Again it displays a horrible lack of understanding of tenants of Islam. The Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) commanded that all followers of the book (ie Muslims, Christians and Jews) should be treated with respect. To use the term "Jewish" and "Pig" as an insult in a Mosque is to defy the teaching of the greatest Islamic prophet.

As to the other claims, that Freer is personally responsible for the deaths of thousands of Muslims. This is clearly complete nonsense. There are many circumstances in which I would support a dignified protest against Mike Freer, but I would never condone a protest at a place of worship, when Freer was doing his job helping local constituents. Whatever you may or may not think about Mike Freer, he must be allowed to do his job and help local people.  This group of fanatics, who have no respect for Islamic teachings or traditions, have done nothing other than put people off the religion they pretend to support. It is another tenant of Islam that in a foreign country, you should obey the law and act with dignity and respect. You should set a good example to people to show that Muslims are decent people who follow a dignified religion. The vast majority of Muslims in the UK do. People such as this, who bring their faith into disrepute, should be ostracised by their community, until such time as they start acting in accordance with the teachings of their religion and start leading by example.

All Muslims are duty bound by their religion to encourage everyone they meet to convert to Islam. By taking such action in a mosque, these people have made many people think that a mosque is a place to be feared and avoided, not a place of peace and learning. I urge every reasonable and decent Moslem in the UK to explain why taking this action is doing the work of  Satan rather than God, by demonising the mosque in the eyes of the general British public.

It is clear that the Mosque authorities are reasonable, decent people. This is obvious, because they invited Mike Freer. I urge the British public to recognise that this is the case and that the people who threatened Freer are a tiny group of troublemakers. There are enough troubles in the world, without idiots like them carrying on like this.

Mill Hill News - Hendon MP Matthew Offord gets a new job !

Yesterday I went down to Iceland in Mill Hill Broadway to get a loaf of bread for my morning sarnie. As ever I had a nose in the window of the Marie Curie Cancer shop as I went past. I got the shock of my life. Who was that stacking the shelves? None other than Hendon MP Matthew Offord. Assuming I was hallucinating, I tootled off, purchased my loaf and on the way back had another look. Yup, there was Matthew, assisting an old dear who was purchasing some bric a brac. Resisting the urge to nip in and ask where the soup department was, I returned home. What was Matthew up to? I suddenly realised that he'd rebelled against David Cameron and voted for the referendum. Had Big Dave C dispensed instant justice and sacked him? Had he taken the job to make ends meet and ensure that Max could be kept fed? Anyway I had a busy day yesterday, got a studio to build.

This morning, I thought I'd do some research. Sure enough on Matthews Twitter feed I found this :-


Matthew Offord
Just finished serving in the Marie Curie shop in Mill Hill for the Make a Difference Day.

 
Yup, Matthew was doing a mornings work, volunteering for a great cause. All of a sudden I felt a bit guilty for my urge at the time to nip in and wind him up. This blog always applauds MP's, Councillors and anyone else who gets involved in their local community and supports good causes. As I sit writing this blog, I'm awaiting the results of a prostate biopsy to see if I have cancer. You may (or may not) be pleased to know the test is purely precautionary. No symptoms, just a slightly raised PSA level. Effective treatment of Cancer is best achieved by early detection. The PSA test is just one of a number of tools which can help save your life. If you are a man approaching or over 50, you should consider having this checked. It is a simple blood test. I'd recommend everyone to have it, but especially those with a history of breast or prostate cancer in their family. 

A couple of people have asked why I am sharing such personal information about myself in the blog? One of my best friends, the bass player in my band for 29 years is currently undergoing chemo for cancer. My business partner who helped me set up the studio died of cancer 10 years ago. If one person reads this blogs, gets a test and it saves their life, then it has been worth it. Thats why.
 
And as for Matthew and his volunteering. Well done. A message to the rest of our councillors, MP's and other local dignitaries. The more good work for the community and the more you put yourself out for the community, the better the coverage you'll get in the press and in the local blog.

Friday, 28 October 2011

The Friday Joke - 28/10/2011 - And it's a cracker

An American guy takes his pet Tiger to the Vet. He tells the vet that the Tiger seems off colour, moody and generally not himself. The vet asks "What do you feed him on?". The guy replies "KFC, Hot Dogs and Donuts". The vet looks horrified "He's a Tiger ! Why do you feed him with that?". The Guy replies "Because he doesn't like McDonalds".

Have a great weekend - And thanks to everyone who's sent me nice messages this week. Really appreciated. I'm off to BelCanto for an evening of Opera and Dinner.It's a fantastic way to spend the evening and if, like me, you aren't overly keen on Opera, this may well change your views. It is performed at your table as you eat and is great. Check it out if you fancy a different sort of night out

Boris re-election special - Who is Mr Minus - The Walking Timebomb?

As regular readers of this blog will know, I have a friend who is a reasonably senior member of the Tory party in another part of London. We regularly meet for a few beers and a curry to discuss beer, football and the joys of having teenage daughters. Yesterday he rang me for a chat about Manchester City's famous victory over the red peril. He's a neutral in that respect, but thoroughly enjoyed the stonking game of football. Anyway as we chatted, he told me that he's getting rather involved in the campaign to get Boris re-elected. "How's it going?" I asked. He replied that it's going pretty well. Polling shows that the ordinary man in the street likes Boris. They have a whole host of initiatives and announcements lined up which will chime rather well with the public. What's the view of Ken? "We're not really that worried about him right now". So it all sounds pretty good. I asked "So any issues that are causing problems?". The answer surprised me, not for the content but because it was something I didn't think he'd say "Well we have Mr Minus, the walking timebomb". I was rather shocked "Mr Minus, the walking timebomb? Who's that?" At which he laughed and said "Come on Rog, you no I couldn't possibly comment on that".

I do wonder if Boris is considering getting a bomb diffusal expert. I would if I were him.

On another subject completely, I am most disappointed that there wasn't a rush of support for Brian Coleman following my plea for campaign funds for him yesterday. Come on Tories, get your wallets out !

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Basketcase Barnet Council - The organisation nobody wants to touch with a bargepole

Do you want to know just how much of a basketcase Council Barnet have become? They invited tenders for companies to take over the Community Advice Service. This was over £1 million worth of business. Eight organisations asked for the information pack to submit a tender. So far so good. Can you guess how many actually tendered for the business, when they saw what Barnet Council were like? Let me quote you what the Council's own report into the debacle says :-
5.5 Despite receiving eight requests for tender packs, only one supplier submitted a tender. The tender does not meet all the council’s aspirations. However, it is recommended that the tender is accepted for the reasons set out in the background section.
So what are these reasons and who are the lucky organisation who bid? Again to quote from the Council's report :-
8.5 There is only one substantive tenderer, namely Barnet Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) with Barnet Law Service as subcontractor. The tentative conclusion is that this is because the market is already weak; suppliers who expressed an interest and who may otherwise have bid were put off by the relatively small size of the contract compared with others tendered nationally; and critically for some of those eight suppliers who did express an interest, the costs of implementing the TUPE transfer and particularly the redundancy costs as budgets fall over three years were, in the final analysis, considered to be prohibitive. It is also likely that, if the contract were to be re-tendered, the TUPE costs may be less of an issue, but only one funding has stabilised. Given that the annual budget falls each year through to 2013/14, this will not be for some time.
In other words, nobody apart from the good old Barnet Citizens Advice Bureau were prepared to come in and do the dirty work (ie take the staff off the Councils books and sack them). As ever with privatisation in Barnet, once the hatchet has been swung, companies which are interested in making a quick, hassle free buck are expected to start taking an interest. I propose an alternative scenario as to why no one, apart from an organisation already entrenched in Barnet would bid. Because Barnet Council and the One Barnet program is a completely Toxic brand and no sane private company would want it's name associated with such a Toxic proposition.

Here is the full paper, it makes shocking reading.
DPR-5

If it doesn't display, you can see it on the Barnet Council website here :-

http://committeepapers.barnet.gov.uk/democracy/reports/reportdetail.asp?ReportID=10724

Just in case you are wondering what the people who won this contract will be doing :-
8.1 The primary aim of the Community Advice Service is to support people in being independent by enabling them to deal with their civil legal, financial and other problems by providing high quality social welfare advice and informing them of their legal rights and responsibilities. This is to be done through providing a high quality advice, centred on welfare benefits and debt, but also other social welfare issues; and a second tier service to support other frontline workers in assisting their clients and act as the local expert adviser on welfare benefits and debt.
To summarise what it says in the report. This service, which is vital for the most disadvantaged members of the community in Barnet, has been given to an organisation which fails to fully meet Barnet Councils requirements. This is because no one else would touch Barnet Council with a bargepole. The service will get worse over the life of the contract because they want to get rid of staff and cut costs.

This blog has been saying Barnet Council has become a pariah Council for some time. This report proves it. The truth of Toxic One Barnet is that no one wants to do business with Barnet Council unless they can have zero risks, massive profits and they are already established in the Borough. You may not believe me, but you can't argue with Barnet Council's own report. Leader Richard Cornelius and CEO Nick Walkley should hang their heads in shame.

A lesson in good manners for Brian Coleman

This blog may at times give the impression that we don't like Barnet Conservatives per se. Nothing could be further from the truth. In actual fact some of them are very nice people. Some of them would never dream of treating residents in a high handed or rude manner. It is just a shame that some of them do and let themselves and us down. This was exemplified by the contrasting emails sent to a local resident, Mr Julian Silverman in response to an invitation to the BAPS organised local community forum. The email also contained a report detailing the previous meeting. Compare and contrast the response from Councillor Kate Salinger and Councillor Brian Coleman. They both received the same email. Once again classy Kate shows why she's respected by everyone in Barnet on all sides of the political divide. A much needed and timely lesson in politeness and good manners !
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Subject: RE: OUR BARNET FORUM REPORT AND INVITATION
Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2011 13:12:08 +0100
From: Salinger, Cllr Catherine Conservative
To: Julian Silverman


Dear Julian,

Thank you for sending me a copy of your press release.

I am actively trying not to attend too many extra committee meetings at
present and will probably not manage to attend any of your future
meetings.

However, I am always interested in other people viewpoints and will read
what you have written, as long as you continue to send it to me.

Kind regards,

Cllr. Kate
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Subject: Re: OUR BARNET FORUM REPORT AND INVITATION
Date: Sun, 9 Oct 2011 20:05:25 +0100
From: Coleman, Cllr Brian Conservative
To:


Please do not e mail me again under any circumtances 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(Note : Councillor Brian Coleman recieves over £120,000 a year from the public purse
to represent Mr Silverman. Cllr Salinger was the only Barnet Conservative not to 
vote to give herself a payrise in 2010 and got publicly humiliated by Coleman for this
in the Council chamber).

The wit of Barnet Councillor Daniel "Imber" Seal

Earlier today we reported how Barnet Tory Councillor Daniel "Imber" Seal was upset to have a pothole named after him. We accused him of lacking a sense of humour. It seems I was wrong. Councillor Imber does a great line in jokes slagging off scousers on his Twitter feed. What an amusing chap he is !
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Danny Seal
@
even though I left at 13 wales is always in my heart, u were in the juvenile centre for stealing hubcaps
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
 
Stroll on ! Lets hope Nadine Dorries MP doesn't see it. You know how she loves people slagging off Liverpool

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Calling all Barnet and Camden Conservatives - Please give generously to the re-elect Brian Coleman campaign

Word reaches the Barnet Eye that an attempt to hold a fundraising dinner for Brian Coleman's GLA re-election fund has failed and the dinner has been cancelled due to lack of interest. Whilst many local Labour and Lib Dem members sit sniggering, I think this is a total disaster. I would like to see as many leaflets as possible delivered throughout Barnet promoting the fact that Brian Coleman is the Conservative candidate for the GLA. The less money they raise, the less leaflets that they can distribute. I urge all loyal Tories who wish to be associated with Brian Coleman and everything he stands for to dig as deep into their pockets as they can. Let everyone see what a shining beacon of Conservative values he is. As one of Boris's closest allies it would be great to have as many leaflets as possible with Boris and Brian out there. These two are great pals and The Barnet Eye wants to print as many lovely pictures of the pair of them together as possible, so send us your snaps !

Mill Hill News - Etz Chaim School tank traps removed

The Barnet Eye is pleased to report that the unsightly concrete block tank traps, which had been put in front of the former Wyevale Garden Centre, have been removed. Shortly after this blog posted pictures of the tank traps, a school representative got in touch to say that they agreed that the traps were unsightly and were having them removed ASAP. I stated at the time that I'd keep you informed of progress. This happened some time last week. Interestingly I've recently been told by friends of the Action group that they are "supremely confident" that the Daws Lane site will not now be used as a School and will be reverting to a Garden Centre with a community function. I've also been told by a friend of the School that they are confident they will be able to open next September.

There have been plenty of comments on various news stories from sympathisers of the School recently, saying various disparaging things about the Mill Hill Action Group fighting the school. I really don't think some of these comments have helped and have hardened the determination of the Action group to carry on the battle.

I was emailed with a list of innacurracies in these comments.

1. The Garden Centre was "just a shop". The Action Group correctly state that there was a Cafe on site  and this was the focus of community activities, although it was a commercial venture.

2. It was inevitable that the Garden Centre would close down and the site be used for other activities. This claim cannot be supported. It may have changed hands at some point, but there is no hard evidence to support the claim that it was not trading profitably.

3. The Action Group have mislead people, because they were campaigning "for the Garden Centre" not against the school. The campaign state that their goal is to get a Garden Centre reinstated on the site, with a community Cafe. They never claimed the Garden Centre had to be operated by any particular chain.

4. The current legal challenge is based on the fact that Barnet Council did not follow due legal process and is directed at Barnet Council. It is incorrect to state that it is a challenge to the School itself.

This blog takes a broadly neutral standpoint on this issue. The above points have been published at the request of a member of the action group, in response to comments left in the press. The School are welcome to respond to these points.

Another Barnet Councillor caught being rude to his constituents - Councillor Daniel Seal exposed

Last week we had Barnet Councillor Brian Coleman being exposed for being rude to a single mum. Sharada Osman contacted Coleman to ask for advice on her problems with accomodation. Coleman who earns £120,000 a year and yet lives in a charity flat, on a rent subsidised by the Methodist Church, designed for poor families, told her to "live in the real world".

It seems he's not the only Barnet Tory upsetting his voters. This story from the Ham and High, tells how Hampstead Garden Suburb resident Saul Zadka contacted his local councillor Danny "Imber" Seal and asked him to inspect some local potholes, which had been left for months.

http://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/councillor_takes_offence_at_being_named_after_pothole_1_700890

Despite originally agreeing to meet Zadka for a coffee, Imber renaged on the agreement and didn't bother getting back in touch. Mr Zadka then rather humourously suggested that he'd named the pot hole after Councillor Seal.

Sadly for Mr Zadka, as well as being completely useless as a councillor, Imber also completely lacks a sense of humour. Imber told the Ham and High
"The reason I did not have coffee with him is because he was very rude to me".
All I can say is that if the worst thing anyone has ever said to Mr Seal is that they've named a pot hole after him, he really has lead a very sheltered life. Maybe he should follow his colleague Brian Coleman's advice and "live in the real world".

Readers may also be interested to know that Imber has a Twitter account and he was very excited to get his 300th follower :-


Danny Seal
300 followers - Thank you! Next Challenge is 500 by Xmas!
 
 I'd urge all Barnet Eye readers to follow Imber ASAP, otherwise you'll be missing out on pearls of wisdom such as this :-

Danny Seal
Professor Green is awesome
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sadly I'm not one of the 300 as Imber has blocked me, presumably in yet another sense of humour failure. I do so miss his brilliance !

Local Tory attacks Hendon MP Offord for sticking to his principles

It probably won't surprise many readers of this blog to learn that I am against the idea of the UK leaving the EU. It may surprise a few readers to learn that I was very pro the idea of a referendum on the subject. Why? Because I believe that it would force the Tories at the heart of the government to tell the truth about the EU. For decades the anti Europe brigade have peddled story after story about how terrible it is and how damaging it is to the UK. Their poster girl was Margaret Thatcher, who they hold up as an anti European. What they conveniently forget is that despite all of Thatchers posturing and despite having a massive majority for most of her reign, she never once proposed leaving the EU. In fact, quite the opposite. She signed into law the act which was the biggest pro European legislation of the lot - The Single European Act. This is the bill that has allowed all of the citizens of Europe free movement and is why every building site in Britain is full of Czech's, Poles and Romanians. Why did she do this? Because she new we faced a labour crisis and this was the only way that we could keep the economy functioning.

Cameron knows this too. When he was an opposition MP trying to get a Tory government, Europhobia was a useful tool to beat the Labour party with. In government, he doesn't want to be the bloke who destroys the UK economy. The truth of the matter is that if we leave the EU and tear up the single European act, all of the Poles, Czech's and Romanians go home and the economy collapses. Whilst many Tories rail against immigration, big business which bankrolls the Tory party loves it. This is because it provides a cheap and hard working labour force. If this was seriously threatened, they would soon pull the plug on Tory coffers.

Which brings us to our local MP's Theresa Villiers is a minister, so there was never any chance of her jacking in her career to vote against the government. Mike Freer wanted to have it both ways. Initially he posted tweets stating that he'd support calls for a referendum, then flip flopping and bottling it. Hendon MP Matthew Offord, is clearly made of sterner stuff. He signed up to support the referendum and stuck to his guns. Local Tory blogger - ex Councillor Daniel Hope -AKA The Barnet Bugle gave him high praise on Monday for his consistent approach :-

Member of Parliament for Finchley and Golders Green, Mike Freer, seems to have undergone a series of u-turns over the proposed referendum on the UK's EU membership due to be debated this afternoon. This contrasts with fellow Barnet MP Matthew Offord has taken a firm and consistent stance in support of the proposal to hold a referendum http://twitter.com/HendonMP/status/126636827259056128 and reported at Conservative Home.(http://www.barnetbugle.com/journal/2011/10/24/mike-flip-flop-freer-mp-in-tweet-retreat-over-eu-referendum.html)
Rather ironically, having criticised Freer for "flip flopping", Hope inexplicably does a flip flop of his own yesterday. He issued a stinging rebuke to Offord for not being loyal to Cameron.

Readers of The Bugle will remember how David Cameron made a special effort to come and campaign in Hendon constituency in the last few days of the 2010 general election campaign. You can recap here. Given the slim margin of Matthew Offord's victory it may even have been decisive in him becoming an MP. Many of the MPs who voted for this motion were passionate Eurosceptics. They have written and spoken widely on this issue and they made it a key issue before and after entering Parliament. The Bugle cannot remember seeing tweets, articles or newsletters from Mr Offord on the subject of a referendum on the EU over the past year. Looking at his website there are no articles on Europe nor is it listed as a 'priority' for him. Yet last night, despite a three line whip and personal pleas from the Prime Minister (and the previously mentioned debt of gratitude for probably getting him elected) he voted to give the Prime Minister David Cameron, as the Daily Mail puts it, a bloody nose. (http://www.barnetbugle.com/journal/2011/10/25/matthew-offord-mp-and-local-party-find-their-special-way-to.html)
This exposes the key problem with the Barnet Tories. Offord clearly has followed his conscience, yet Hope thinks that because Cameron helped a Tory MP get elected, that MP should slavishly follow every policy that Cameron has. This is why we are lumbered with the ridiculous OneBarnet program in Barnet. If every Tory Councillor in Barnet Town Hall followed Offord's lead and did what they believed to be right, instead of doing what the boss tells them, One Barnet would have been dead and buried long ago. Millions would have been saved in consultants fees and instead of having a Council paralysed by industrial disputes we may even have a Council which was sorting out it's many problems (a la Metpro).

I find it extraordinary that a senior member of the Barnet Tory party such as Hope, who has many contacts with Central office should draw attention to the modus operandi of the Tories in this way. In effect, if we believe Hope, Cameron tried to blackmail Offord. It is clear from the "personal plea" that Offord won't be getting a visit from Cameron to help him at the next election (assuming Hope's story has official central office backing). I suspect that Offord need not lose too much sleep. Hendon is a key marginal and I doubt that Cameron would allow a person vendetta to get in the way of retaining the PM job.

The bottom line on Europe is this. The Tories are HOPElessy split and always will be. They have mislead the public for decades on the EU and are suffering the consequences. A Tory MP, Ted Heath lead us into the EU. A Tory PM - Thatcher signed the single European treaty and a Tory PM  - Major signed Maastricht.

Everything else is posturing and PR
********* Updated 17:44 *************
It seems like Ex Councillor Hope is rather embarrassed by The Barnet Eye drawing attention to his flip flopping. He changed the URL of the Matthew Offord story. We have amended the link, but if the naughty old sausage tries that trick and you get page not found again click this link and then scroll  down - http://www.barnetbugle.com )

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

PSA tests and Prostate biopsy - The blog you don't want to read

November the 8th. On that day I will either drink a lot of alcohol to celebrate or my life will presumably fundamentally change. That is the day I get the result of a Prostate biopsy. It has taken me from last Tuesday, when I was told I needed it, until today, to get my head around it. Some of us keep these things private. That was my first inclination, but hey, I'm a blogger - loud and proud. It would be a cop out to say nothing. It's not in my nature. I was in my favourite cafe, having a cup of tea and some advice my Dad gave me many years ago came to me. "Everything happens for a reason, if a bad thing happens to you and you can make a good thing happen to someone else, then you have a moral responsibility to do it". It seems that there isn't a wealth of information on the subject out there. The doctors always say "Do you have any questions" but generally you haven't thought of the most important ones at the time. I'm writing this in the hope that

a) It helps a few people understand whats happening
b) Anyone who has anything useful to add can leave a comment
c) Answers a few of those questions that you forgot to ask

So how did it start? In May I went to see the doctor because I had a problem with my knee and needed a referal for a consultant. He commented that he hadn't seen me for a while and suggested that as I was 49 an "MOT" would be a good idea. So I rolled up and had a plethora of blood tests.

When I went back for the good news, he said the PSA test has come back slightly raised. What is that, I asked. It is a new test which can indicate Prostate Cancer. At your age, it should be under 2.1 and it's 2.8. We discussed it and he advised a trip to the Urology department. He went on to explain that generally people with Prostate Cancer would have a far higher PSA, but it is best to be cautious.

So I went to see the consultant,w ho advised that the usual course of action is a course of anti-biotics and a follow up test. He advised that the test is pretty unreliable and can vary on a day to day basis. So in August I took the Anti Biotics and gave some more blood. The appointment was changed a couple of times and I eventually went back last Tuesday. The consultant said "Well the urine test was clear, but your PSA has gone up to 4.1. As this is on an upwards curve, I'd recommend a Prostate biopsy." We discussed the options and he advised that this was a logical next step. His advice was that it was unlikely given the state of my prostate and the relatively low reading that I'd have anything requiring radical surgery, but the earlier these things are caught, the better. He said that for many people with early stage prostate cancer all that happens is that it is monitored. I must admit I was shocked. I had expected the test to come back as OK. I was phoned later in the afternoon and the procedure was booked for last Saturday.

I'd not given any thought to what it entails and I'd not thought  to ask. I'd had a leaflet that explained "afterwards there may be some blood in stools, semen and urine". I certainly hadn't thought how this might affect me. It also said it would be done under local anaestic (ie I'd be awake). So on Saturday I rocked up for the appointment at Barnet Hospital. I changed into a gown and was told that they were running late. I sat in the waiting room, watching the saturday cooking show. Quite surreal really. A certain gallows humour amongst the other poor mugs pervaded. I suspect that the British have a fundamentally different approach to such problems than most nations. Bad jokes was order of the day and a general mood of mutual support "Don't worry, I've had four of them, it's horrible". I felt like a condemned man.

Into the treatment room. Again, I hadn't realised what the treatment consisted of. They stick something that looks like one of the spark machines that lights gas hobs up you bum and snip bits off your prostate. It makes a similar noise as well. The local anaesthetic is applied first. You still feel something. It is far more unpleasant than it is painful. After the fourth click, I asked "how many do you actually take?" I'd thought they took 1. The answer came back "10". This didn't make me feel happy and I wished I'd been given the option of something to dope me up. I will most certainly ask if that is an option if I ever have to have another one. After the 10th snip, they said "Now we'll adminster an anti biotic suppository". After that I lay on my back and got the good news about the side effects. "You'll be peeing blood for a few days and there will be plenty of blood when you do a poo. You'll also find clots and fresh blood in your semen". How long for? "For some people a few days, for some people several weeks". It's now Tuesday and so far I get a small amount of blood maybe 50% of the time when I pee. The blood in the stools was bad on the first day. As to the semen? I've been too scared to even think about that so far. I didn't ask how long you should leave it before testing the equipment. The consensus on the internet seems to be 3-4 days. I must say so far I'm not ready to cross that bridge as it is bad enough with the blood in the pee (even though it is a small amount).

So what should I have asked?
a) Can I be knocked out or at least doped up?
b) When is it safe to have sex/masturbate?
c) How many samples will they take?
e) What happens if the test comes back as negative. What happens then?
f) How much fluid should I drink (I've been drinking as much water as possible)?
g) What should I avoid?

In answer to g) The doctor told me not to play football or go to the gym for at least a week. If they had told me before, I could have cancelled my training session today a little earlier. Fortunately I had cancelled our Sunday night five a side already, but they should have notified me before.

Whatever happens, I'll be glad I had the tests. The earlier that anything is found the better. If there is nothing, then they have a baseline to monitor my levels going forward. I've found out that approx 1 in 5 people with a PSA between 4-10 have Prostate Cancer. As I'm at the bottom end of that, the odds are not too worrying. The examination said it was normal sized, so again that makes me cautiously hopeful.

If the news is bad then if nothing else, I've caught it far earlier than if I'd waited till  I had symptoms. As I've a family, even if the news is terrible, it means that I can sort things out in an orderly fashion. Sadly many people believe that burying their heads in the sand is the answer. It isn't. It just makes a bad situation worse and reduces any treatment options that may crop up. I hope to God that the tests come back all clear. If they don't then that bridge will be crossed at the time. I'm not worried right now although it is a bit of a black cloud on the horizon.

My advice? If you are approaching (or older than) 50 and you've not been to the doctor for a few years, get yourself an MOT. I really did not enjoy any of what I described above, but statistically you should be fine. I have no symptoms of anything, so don't assume that because you feel OK everything is OK. We live in an age where medical science can sort many things out. We live in a country where sorting it out won't bankrupt us. We are lucky. God Bless the NHS !

Manchester City FC Special - The joy of six

As regular readers of this blog will know, I support Manchester City FC. I have done since 1968. It is fair to say that it hasn't always been easy or even much fun at times. Not so long ago the team were languishing in League 1. On Sunday something remarkable happened. They played Man United off the park and spanked them 6-1 in their own back yard. Much as I'd love to write a blog gloating and winding up my United supporting family and friends, I'll refrain from that. There are other issues which are more important in Football. Firstly there has been criticism in some quarters as to the fact that City have bought a team. I disagree. Every football fan be it Manchester United or Barnet FC would love to see David Silva in their team. Not every team will have a rich sheik buy them, but it is something to dream of. That is what football is all about.

Back in 1999 as I sat in Wembley Stadium with 88 minutes gone and City trailing Gillingham 2-0 in the League 1 play off final, with United about to win the Champions League, the concept that we'd spank them 6-1 at Old Trafford in 12 years seemed ridiculous. Somehow they pulled 2 goals back and beat Gillingham on penalties. Even though for a few minutes anything seemed possible, the next day I realised that all that had happened was we'd beaten the mighty Gillingham.

As I write this, there is talk in some quarters that the abolition of relegation from the Premiership is a realistic possibility. Had that happened in 1999, then where would City be now? They certainly wouldn't be parading their pomp at Old Trafford. They are not the only big club who have been relegated. What sane person would make the case for Leeds, Birmingham, West Ham and Southampton being excluded permenantly from the Premiership? They all have the potential (with a rich benefactor) to be Champions League contenders. Who can possibly say that Blackpool didn't light up the league last season? This season we have new boys Swansea paying attractive football having come up. We have Delia Smith at Norwich, possibly the best loved chairman of the lot gracing the terraces of the Premiership. Who can possibly say such clubs should be excluded.

As I mentioned above, many of my friends and family are Manchester United fans. They have criticised City for being bankrolled by their owners. I would be far more critical of the ownership of United. Whilst City's owners have pumped money in, producing a team which is playing superb football, the Glazers have sucked money out. I read the Glazers had cost Manchester United over £450 million in fees, wages and interest payments since they took over. Imagine the team that could have bought? Sir Alex Ferguson publicly says that he's bought whatever players he wanted, but I for one do not believe he didn't cast the odd envious glance at the City bench on Sunday. Owners such as the Glazers and the Americans who own Liverpool are not sentimental. They see the clubs as a franchise and the supporters as cash cows, to be milked. Sadly this means kids like my son, who wants the latest kit.

I watched two games of Football on Sunday. Before the Manchester derby, I watched my sons team Watling FC lose 10-2 at Cressingham Park. The club used to be based at Watling Boys Club. Sadly Barnet Council are selling the Club building off for housing development - http://committeepapers.barnet.gov.uk/democracy/reports/reportdetail.asp?ReportID=10665. Sadly there is no rich sugar daddy for Watling. Unlike Manchester City, who's ground is owned by the Council, Watling FC have a landlord who doesn't give a stuff about providing facilities for young people. They cannot see that providing sports facilities is a positive force for the community. The more things young boys and girls have to do, the healthier and happier they are. I don't expect Barnet Council to buy David Silva to head the team, but decent basic facilities and playing fields to play on, is surely not too much to ask, is it.

Every time I see grafitti, a smashed bus stop or broken shop window, it reminds me of the total failure of Barnet Council to provide basic sports and recreation facilities for youngsters. It really is shameful. A win such as the one City played out on Sunday can lift your spirits. God knows we need it in Barnet.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Offord backs Euro rebellion, Freer bottles it

The BBC has published the full list of MP's voting for a Euro referendum. Hendon MP Matthew Offord stuck by his principles and voted for the referendum. Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer bottled it and voted to keep his promotion prospects alive.

Full list here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15387333 -

You may find Mike Freer's comments on Twitter on this subject rather entertaining

Today :-
Mike Freer MP
I support George Eustace's amend. Yes to reform of our relat with EU. Yes to referend at some pt. No to distracting the PM from econ now.
 
Mike Freer MP
How important is the EU debate to my voters? So far 10 emails on the EU, 40 about planning reforms and 220 on the ditched forestry reforms.

Last week :-
Mike Freer MP
Motion on EU and the UK would give people a say on our relationship with the EU. People should have another say - the EU has changed
 
A week is a long time in politics (especially in Finchley and Golders Green) 

I've cracked the One Barnet puzzle !!!!

After months of trying to work out what OneBarnet meant, when the plan is all about taking a single entity council and smashing it into lots of tiny little privatised bits, all glued together by highly expensive legal contracts and overseen by armies of private consultants on £1,500 - £2,000 a day. Why is a project to shatter a service into smithereens called "One Barnet"?

Well it suddenly became clear when I saw this website - http://www.spanglefish.com/campaignforcathill/index.asp?pageid=313686. Regular readers of this blog will know that Barnet Council is currently presiding over huge developments, build massive tower blocks all over Barnet. The jewel in the crown of this plan is the Brent Cross/Cricklewood redevelopment, building massive cell block flats in an area already overrun with traffic on the North Circular.

You see on this website we have Barnet Councillor and Cabinet Member Robert Rams commenting on a development in Enfield, that will affect his ward adversely with overdevelopment
This development will have a huge impact on our residents in East Barnet. These proposed tower blocks are not in keeping with our community and will put a huge strain on our services and roads.
Rams doesn't care about Barnet residents in the West of the Borough having to put up with overdevelopments, tower blocks not in keeping with the area or the huge strain on services and roads. As a cabinet member he voted for it. It is clear however that different rules apply when the development affects his patch. I have realised that One Barnet is an abbreviation for

ONE rule in BARNET for us and another for everyone else !

Lets face it, George Osborne hasn't got a clue

Normally I steer clear of national politics on this blog. Once in a while, it all gets too much and I have to say something. It's just that sometimes, it becomes so abundantly clear that the government has not got a clue about the real economy that something has to be said. Last week the Government and the Bank of England decided to commit another £75,000,000,000 to quantitative easing. This is being sold as "pumping money into the economy". It is nothing of the sort. If the government really wanted to pump money into the economy, they would simply cut fuel duty. Everything we do in the UK would be positively affected by this. It would be cheaper for people to get to and from work. It would be cheaper for companies to move their goods around the country, allowing a reduction in prices, which would stimulate sales. It would mean that every household in the country would have more money in their hard pressed budget to spend on goods, or paying their debts or paying the hidden taxes, those of us in Barnet are being clobbered with, or simply pay their winter fuel bills and keep warm.

You may be shocked that someone who supports a green agenda would suggest such a move? Surely high fuel taxes protect the environment? When times are good this argument can be made, but unless we take drastic action, we'll have a double dip recession and many ordinary families will be forced into poverty.

If all of the money being wasted on quantitative easing was spent on a simple cut in fuel duty, every part of the economy would be improved. At the moment this cash is simply going into bank coffers. As the vast majority of us keep our money in banks and spend it via various electronic methods (cards, net payments, ATM withdrawals), the banks would still get their hands on the vast majority of the cash, but we would be in control of how it was dished out, not them.

Sadly the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne has never had a real job in the real world (to quote Councillor Brian Coleman). He's only ever worked in a series of political non jobs. As such he doesn't seem to understand that transportation is what makes the economy work. If freight companies profits improve, they can reinvest in new fleets, which are leaner and greener, using modern technology. This country needs to completely overhaul it's energy policies, but this can only happen with a healthy economy. With the idiotic policies of Osborne, chucking good money after bad, this will never happen.

I would personally like to see a Royal Commission set up to ensure that over the next 15-20 years Great Britain becomes the most energy efficient, eco friendly and clean country on the planet. I would like to see us lead the way in clean energy technology, effective mass transport systems and energy efficient homes. None of this will happen with an economy in stagflation, which is where Osbornes policies will take us. We've spent a small fortune on the Libyan war. When Libyan oil comes back on line, there will be a drop in the world oil price. Will we see it at the pumps? No chance, because the stealthy Tories see it as a good source of revenue. It is beyond their wit to see that they could kickstart the economy and then pay for all manner of environmental initiatives out of the proceeds of economic growth.  By my maths £75 billion of quantitative easing is worth approx £2,500 per household in this country. Why is it beyond the wit of a Tory Chancellor to let us decide how that cash is spent, rather than the banks and bankers. I would guess that a fuel tax cut that put £500 in every families pocket would create infinitely more wealth than this bonkers scheme and would generate far more economic activity, at a fifth of the cost to the taxpayer.

Is there any chance that George Osborne will actually wake up to the fact he's driving the economy over a precipice? Is there any chance that he'll realise that he's chucking good money after bad with his policies? No chance. It is a well documented fact that certain Tory ministers are partial to this blog. Is there any chance that they could possibly have a word with dopey George and get him to actually do something sensible for the economy for a change?

Which Barnet Tory is on the naughty step this week

Updated 23:24 *************************
Just to remind certain well known Ex Barnet Tory Councillors
http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/8813282.Veteran_councillor_faces_standards_hearing_over_racism_claims/
************************************** ends

Oh dear, time for yet another Tory Councillor to be hauled before the Standards sub committee. As is the way with Barnet Council, they like to do these things in secret. Here's the link to all the paperwork, but sadly because it's in secret, there is no paperwork other than a message to say "It's not open to the public"


http://committeepapers.barnet.gov.uk/democracy/meetings/meetingdetail.asp?meetingid=7008

So who's been a naughty boy? Well it could be Councillor John Hart, who is up before the beak for making "allegedly" racist comments to a local resident at the Hendon & District local residents forum (the alleged comment was made in front of 30 people, sadly they won't get to hear the verdict of the panel if it's him). The Barnet Eye has learned from friends of Councillor Hart that his defence is as follows.

"Being a multi lungualist and retired professor of language at Middlesex University, I have found that the best way to strike up a rapport with our friends from the colonies is to put on a stupid accent and take the piss out of them in front of a crowded room. They love it when I do this, as it reminds of the days of the raj, when the British were the much loved rulers of the subcontinent. The only reason this woman complained is because, like all Labour supporters, she's had her sense of humour surgically removed"


Of course, the Barnet Eye has not been privy to the good councillors defence, so I'm not 100% sure that this is the exact wording used, but this is more or less what he's told his friends that his defence is. I'm no sure if being completely out of touch with reality is really a valid defence in a court of law, but then he's not before a court of law, he's before the Barnet Council Standards sub committee, isn't he.

Of course it could always be that it's not Councillor Hart. It could be that it's Councillor Brian Coleman. The Barnet Eye is not sure exactly how many people Councillor Coleman has sent rude emails to recently or how many have reported him to the Standards Committee, or even how far the process has got, but we have had reports that a member of the Standards Sub Committee (one of the independent members, not a councillor) was reported as saying "not all this again" in response to Colemans latest faux pas.

My advice to the committee is to impose the maximum punishment possible. Then Barnet Councillors may start behaving themselves and the committee will have far less work to do. In the long run, it will be better for everyone, not least our Tory Councillors, who might actually start doing their job properly. This will only make them more, not  less popular.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Why every decent person in Barnet should want Andrew Dismore to beat Brian Coleman in the GLA election next May

Next May there is an election for the GLA in London. This is the body which oversees and scrutinises the Mayor of London. In Barnet our representative is Councillor Brian Coleman. For belong to this body, Coleman gets paid over £50K per annum. Not a bad salary for a very part time job. As an elected official, Brian Coleman is supposed to represent and look after the interests of his constituents. One of the main functions of Mayor Boris Johnson and the GLA which oversee him is to have final say on planning and large scale developments in London. Due to the appalling housing crisis, previous Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone set a 50% target for social housing for any development where there were over 14 dwellings. This is necessary to ensure that key workers such as teachers, police, firemen, nurses, etc who don't earn enough to buy their own place in London can actually have somewhere to live. Needless to say that Boris Johnson has watered these targets down since taking over in 2008. As a result, there is an ever worsening housing crisis. In Barnet we are seeing huge developments going up all over the place, such as Brent Cross, Colindale, Mill Hill East to name a few. Whilst many people feel these schemes will blight the Borough of Barnet, Boris and his lackey Coleman are hell bent on thwarting every step to ensure that these developments are in any way suitable or affordable for low pay workers.

It is not just the loosening of targets for social housing. Developers have had no pressure to improve the public transport infrastructure or even ensure that we have enough school places. Recently a video by Councillor Daniel Thomas, a Barnet Conservative Cabinet member inadvertently revealed this failure.

Environmental campaigners have been lobbying for a new transport system, which would by and large use abandoned or lightly used rail lines, to form a new transport network in Barnet, linking the west and east of the Borough. Whilst the developers could be forced to pay for much of the work, Boris and Brian Coleman have zero interest. Coleman described the people pushing the scheme as "grown men playing with train sets". Whilst the scheme would provide a convenient and cheap way of getting around, allowing people who live in the new flats in Mill Hill East to get to work in Brent Cross or kids in Grahame Park to get to school in Mill Hill, the car obsessed Coleman has no care whatsoever, decreeing that his priority is "roads, roads, roads".

Perhaps the biggest indictment on Coleman was his comment his constituent Sharada Osman (who is a single mum in part time education with a son with special needs), when she asked for help and advice on her problems with accomodation.
I suggest  you will have to turn to the private sector for housing as there no way  there will ever be enough Council Houses available
As this blog exposed, earlier this week, Colemans council are very keen on Private Landlords. They recently passed a paper under delegated powers (ie no discussion in open council) to give £100,000 in incentives to private landlords in Barnet. No wonder Coleman is keen to send Sharada to his mates for a flat. This brings us to Andrew Dismore, his Labour rival for the GLA job. He used to be MP for Hendon. In this role, he didn't (unlike Coleman) have any direct responsibility for provision of council housing. What was his attitude?

I happen to know first hand that Andrew took a completely different view of single mums with special needs children who have problems with their housing. My former business partner died ten years ago. He'd sunk every penny he had into our business and when he was cruelly killed by pancreatic cancer, he left three children with little money in the bank. As his home was tied to his job as a caretaker, his wife found herself homeless and alone. She was put up by Barnet Council in temporary accomodation. It seems that in Barnet, being a widow with a special needs child doesn't give you enough points to actually get a council house. Her husband had worked as an ambulance driver and a bus driver for many years, prior to helping me set the studios up. Sadly this public service counts for nothing either. Three years ago my friends widow contacted me in a real state of stress. Barnet's Tory Council had contacted her and told her that they could no longer accomodate her. She would have to up sticks, pull her children (already traumatised by the loss of their father from a horrible death due to cancer) our of their schools and move to Norfolk. I advised her to contact her then MP, Andrew Dismore and see if he could help. Did he, like Brian Coleman, advise her to live in the real world? Of course he didn't. He went and saw the family, listened to their problems and contacted Barnet Council. Through his efforts, the problem was resolved and the family are still living in the Borough and the children are still with their friends at the schools they have grown up in.

Being a GLA member and a Councillor is a job that is what you make of it. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that if Andrew Dismore replaces Brian Coleman, he will do the job to the best of his ability and make sure that people like my friends widow and Sharada Osman have somebody representing them who will work hard for their interests. They will not be fobbed off, they will be represented properly. Whatever you may or may not think of Andrew Dismore, nobody who knows Dismore and Coleman could possibly imagine that Dismore would ever treat people with the contempt that Coleman has shown the people who elected him and pay his wages.

Just to emphasise this point, let me tell you how I know this. As regular readers of this blog will know, I quit the Labour party in 2009 a becoming increasingly disenchanted with its policies. Before I quit, I sent Mr Dismore an email listing all of the reasons why I was disenchanted with Labour. As regular readers will know, I didn't pull my punches. Andrew Dismore responded by politely inviting me to his office to discuss my issues. I went and harangued him for half an hour. At no time was he rude or impolite. He couldn't persuade me to change my mind, but he certainly made a good case for what he'd done. As far as I'm concerned, the choice between Dismore and Coleman is a choice between a man of decency, hard work and concern for his constituents or a man of rudeness, arrogance and extreme laziness when it comes to looking after the interests of those constituents who most need it.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Who says we don't need Chase Farm A&E

I wasn't going to be blogging today, but there is something I must share with you. I just had a minor medical procedure performed on me at Barnet General hospital, nothing serious or to worry about. Afterwards the doctor told me that there is a small risk that it may lead to an infection. I asked what I should do. He said "If you get a temperature or any other signs, go to A&E as soon as possible and tell them that you've had the procedure. Normally antibiotics will clear it up straight". I said "Is it best to come here?" He replied "I'd go to Chase Farm if I were you". Great isn't it. The A&E which the doctors recommend is the one the government wants to shut. Have a nice weekend

Guest Blog - North Finchley Business Forum – detailed research

By Paul Evans

(First posted on Finchlinks Website at http://www.finchlinks.com/2011/10/north-finchley-businss-forum-detailed-research/ )

Click the image to download (PDF)

Last week, I posted a write-up of the North Finchley Business Forum meeting at the Arts Depot.
A survey of local businesses was circulated at that meeting, and I’ve now had an electronic copy of it passed on to me. You can download a copy of the report here (large-ish PDF file). It doesn’t contain too many surprises. The focus among respondents on the parking issue is particularly notable, but you probably knew that before opening the report. That’s parking. Every aspect of parking. Everyone is annoyed about it. Parking – get the picture? Other issues include the high local Business Rates and a general sense that the area has deteriorated and isn’t particularly cared for. There was quite a lot of comment about petty crime and anti-social behaviour. Overall, it’s not a hugely optimistic picture, and this is something that needs to be addressed.



One thing that I found strangely lacking though, was an absence of calls for any kind of co-ordination.
Not wanting to put too many noses out of joint, but my experience of North Finchley isn’t always positive. There are lots of empty shops and the landlords don’t seem to realise that leaving them looking scruffy does nothing for the area or … er… the attractiveness of their own property.
This project in Walsall – getting local photographers to help dress the area up – would be good to see copied locally. Also, some places have freindly and helpful staff. Others don’t, and I suppose that’s their lookout. But the way shops serve people and present themselves has a knock-on for neighbouring shops.
I’m surprised at the lack of dialogue between local businesses – and the lack of a sense that it’s needed. There doesn’t seem to be much peer-pressure going on. Most businesses in the area are hugely dependent upon the reputation of the rest of the High St. Yes – that means that the parking needs sorting out, anti-social behaviour and crime need to be looked at and a bit of TLC could be applied by the council to the street furniture. But it also depends upon collective action by the local shops – and I was surprised no-one mentioned this in the survey. It does make me think, wouldn’t it be good if Mary Portas could be persuaded to come by and give a few pep-talks?
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Paul Evans runs the Finchlinks website, which promotes the local community in Finchley. The Barnet Eye is always pleased to support local community and business initiatives. Please get in contact via the email link in my profile.