Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Rams gets it wrong (again)

Councillor Robert Rams (AKA Little Bobby Sheepsjacksie) has a very interesting approach to blogging. He is under the impression that his cohorts of admirers are so keen to hang on his every word that when he can't be bothered to actually write a blog, their insatiable lust for his blatherings can be met by simply reprinting Barnet Council press releases. The latest example of this was his May 10th "Blog" -


This details the success of the scheme to allow Barnet residents the opportunity to volunteer in local libraries. The council tell us that 35 people have offered their services and so far 10 have been engaged to help. What Bobby doesn't mention are the hundreds of people who have turned up every week to support Friern Barnet Peoples library and the campaign to reopen the library shut by Rams.

There are many aspects of Rams behaviour I find rather offensive, but the crass hypocrisy of his treatment of the campaigners for the Friern hub tops the lot. Rams strung them along for nearly a year, pretending he was listening to their plans to develop a community hub, with volunteers working with trained librarians to widen the services offered at Friern Library and making the site a cost effective community resource. Imagine the anger these public spirited citizens felt when they were told that Barnet Council and Robert Rams never had any intention of keeping the library running. They had spent months on end working on proposals, only to be told they never had a chance of success.

Rams states in the press release :-
Becoming a library volunteer is a fantastic opportunity for people to make a contribution to the wider community by giving up a little of their time
What would you say to someone who got you to waste months of your life, believing you were being community spirited, only to find that Rams (who gets a generous allowance paid by your tax for his time) has completely mislead you?

When the #SaveFBL campaign was originally set up, it was suggested that it would be better if I did not get involved, despite me starting the campaign to protect Barnet's libraries. The campaign felt a more conciliatory approach towards Robert Rams and the Conservative administration would have a better chance of saving the library. As the library was not on my patch and the campaign was well supported and organised, I was quite happy to step aside. The campaign did some excellent work, producing viable proposals. Last year, one of the campaigners gave me a ticking off, saying "You should try harder to work with the Council, they have been very helpful. Robert Rams is not as unreasonable as you make out". Last week, I asked the same person if they still held that view. Lets just say that their response is unprintable.

The one thing Robert Rams has been completely honest about is what sort of a character he really is. Back in 2009, his old boss at Barnet Council was Mike Freer. Freer described myself and David Miller (AKA Don't Call Me Dave) as One Handed Bloggers in an interview. When asked to explain what the term meant he explained "they write the about me with one hand and you can imagine what they are doing with the other hand". Interestingly Robert Rams recently wrote  a blog entitled "I'm a One Handed Blogger" - http://robertrams.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/im-a-one-handed-blogger/ - a sentiment many in Barnet will agree with. One wonders if there is a subconscious insight into his view of community minded volunteers, who give up their time for free, hidden in the email address for people who want to volunteer - lendahand@barnet.gov.uk .

I am all for volunteering and giving up spare time. I do a shift every week at a drop in centre for the homeless. I hope that the staff at our libraries get plenty of volunteers to assist them and expand services (not replace them). For more information on becoming a library volunteer visit www.barnet.gov.uk/volunteer or call Hannah Richens on 020 8359 7779.

Please don't let Rams put you off.

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