Sunday, 30 June 2013

Not to be missed: Barnet Alliance AGM - Monday night!

It's the final countdown... to the Barnet Alliance AGM. Details below - please come if you are free.

You don't have to be a member to come to the meeting, though, hey, why not join while you are there?! It's only £5 for a year.

We will review the work of the Barnet Alliance over the last year and make some plans for the coming year - hmmm, council elections looming in the spring. Wonder what impact we can make there...

There will be the election of officers, free refreshments, an overview of Barnet Council's One Barnet privatisation programme, and, the guest speaker will be... Gerald Shamash, Maria Nash's solicitor. (The appeal date for the Judicial Review is Monday 15-Tuesday 16 July at the High Court on the Strand.)

Come and hear a top lawyer talk about the case for the Judicial Review of One Barnet. Gerald has local connections as well: he was a Labour councillor in my own, beloved, Burnt Oak for some years. I'll see you there!

BARNET ALLIANCE FOR PUBLIC SERVICES ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Monday 1st July, 7-9pm
Greek Cypriot Centre, Britannia Road, London N12 9RU (North Finchley)
This will be an opportunity to join BAPS as a member or renew your membership and contribute to the community campaign to defend and improve public services in Barnet.
The business part of the AGM will be followed by a talk by Gerald Shamash Maria Nash’s solicitor in her Judicial Review: ‘One Barnet’ Council On Trial
Refreshments provided. Entry is free but we will take a collection for donations.
More details: barnetalliance4publicservices@gmail.com or 07534 407703
(The more eagle eyed of you out there will note that I lifted this verbatum from Vicki's Citizen Barnet blog - http://citizenbarnet.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/not-to-be-missed-barnet-alliance-agm.htm  - I hope she doesn't mind. I wanted to post something and as she'd said it rather well, I saw no point in trying to fix what ain't broken !)

Councillor Brian Coleman - bringing the Rotary Club into disrepute

The Barnet Twitterati and various other Barnet Council groupies have been getting their knickers in a right old twist this week concerning the shenanigans of notorious convicted criminal and woman beater, Councillor Brian Coleman. He has just launched a twitter account and has used it to great effect in an attempt to wind up, besmirch and generally stick two fingers up at all of the people he doesn't like. One has to conclude from his tweetings that Mr Coleman has reached such a state of desparation, that short of running naked down North Finchley High Street (a promise he reneged on following statements concerning the Olympics), that he is desperate for attention.

I've seen dozens of emails suggesting that all and sundry launch legal actions against Mr Coleman.Sadly though, I have come to the conclusion that what Brian Coleman really needs is professional help. One of my friends and avid reader of this blog is a psychiatrist. He is deeply worried about the behaviour of Brian Coleman. We had a long chat yesterday about Mr Colemans shenanigans. He believes that Coleman is in a state of denial about his career and his prospects. In a sense, he has had a bereavement. He has lost the thing which was most important in his life - his political power and status. There are five stages of bereavement. Coleman is in the first - denial. This is given away in his strapline on twitter
Long serving Totteridge Councillor - Former Mayor - True Conservative - Methodist Rotarian - Anti EU - Totteridge
Look at the emphasis. Coleman knows he's very likely to be out on his ear next May as a Consevative. He says he's a "True Conservative" but his own party kicked him out. Sadly for Mr Coleman, "True Conservatives" pride themselves on such standards as abiding by the law and refraining from beating women up. Perhaps the funniest bit for me personally in the byline is the bit which says "anti EU". The sheer hypocricy of Brian Coleman is displayed here. Back in 2009, when I took Brian Coleman to the Standards Committee for abusing me, his defence was that I was infringing his human rights, as guaranteed by the European Court, in objecting to him using his public office to abuse me. 

Brian Coleman also lists being a Rotarian (Details of the Barnet Rotary club here - http://www.rotary-ribi.org/clubs/homepage.php?ClubID=761 ) . What does the Rotary club stand for? This is what their website says:
  • FIRST. The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
  • SECOND. High ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying of each Rotarian's occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
  • THIRD. The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian's personal, business, and community life;
  • FOURTH. The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.
 One has to wonder how his physical attack on Business owner, Helen Michael could possibly be squared with the second principle and fourth principle. 

Furthermore, Rotarians are encouraged to take the "four way test" to ensure they meet these ethics

The Four-Way Test

The test, which has been translated into more than 100 languages, asks the following questions:
Of the things we think, say or do
  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
(More details about Rotary International and these principles here - http://www.rotary.org/en/AboutUs/RotaryInternational/GuidingPrinciples/Pages/ridefault.aspx )


So let us look at how Brian Coleman reacted when arrested by the Police. He gave a completely fictitious account of the incident. When challenged in Court, after the CCTV footage was reviewer, his lawyer said "The video footage does not tie up with Mr Colemans recollection of events".


Mr Coleman claimed Helen Michael attacked him. He claimed she left him scratched and bleeding. Lets see how this statement ties in with the Four Way Test

1. Was it the Truth? Nope, it was a pack of lies. He was exposed in court as a pathalogical liar, as he'd spent five months lying and telling everyone (including fellow Rotarians presumably) that he was innocent and Helen Michael was a nutcase who'd attacked him. He only stopped because the CCTV footage exposed this.

2. Was it fair to all concerned? Ms Michael had hate mail, anonymous messages pinned on her door and was even shunned by some members of the Greek Cypriot community, whom Brian Coleman had lied to her about. 

3. Did it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? Helen Michael has had to endure all manner of whispering campaigns as a result of the assault. One Tory Councillor, who's family have been lifelong friends has completely shunned her as a result of the incident. Furthermore, Coleman has continued the campaign of lies about Ms Michael, recently spouting a whole new set of porkies on the Ian Dale show.

 4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned? Well if anyone thinks that Helen Michael has benefitted from being beaten up, lied about and harrassed, then they are quite frankly on another planet to the rest of us.

You may wonder why I make such a big issue of the principles of the Rotary Club? I am not a member of the organisation, but my Father was for many years. He constantly praised the organisation for the good works and charity they do in the community. Brian Coleman is using the organisation as a smokescreen, a veneer of respectability, in pinning their name to his strapline. Their is no aspect of his behaviour that I can in any way see as compatible with the standards and ethics of the Rotary Club. Furthermore, he is associating the Rotary club with all of the petty vendettas and insults he is hurling. Of course Brian Coleman is entitled to say what he likes, but he is doing it specifically under the title of "Rotarian". I think that this is bringing the organisation into disrepute. As I am not a member of the Rotary Club, I am merely passing an opinion, but I cannot believe that an organisation which sets such high standards, could possibly want its name used as a merkin for a man with more axes to grind than the Vikings. 

Most organisations stipulate that members should not bring the organisation into disrepute. By putting Rotarian on his strapline, then launching a stream of abuse, Coleman has dragged the name of local Rotarians through the mud. It is squalid, shameful behaviour and if the Rotary club gives a damn about preserving its reputation in the London Borough of Barnet, then they should have a word with Mr Coleman ASAP and kick him out. Colemans ever worsening behaviour will doubtless continue to see further embarrassment and I cannot believe that the Rotary club wants to be seen as part of the problem. 

I must say that I don't believe that the vast majority of Rotarians condone the actions of Brian Coleman and I'm sure many will be horrified to find that they are being tarred with that particular brush.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

"One day, you will be sorry for what you've done"

In less than a month, I will have my 51st birthday. To be honest, I find that fact quite shocking. I don't feel 51. Despite the ravages of age and the shadow of cancer in the corner of my eye, I feel pretty damn good. I play football twice a week and I go the the gym three times a week. I did a 10K run in around an hour earlier in the year, which won't exactly worry Mo Farah, but if you can run 10K, you can't be in too bad shape. In short, I don't feel old and physically I can still do all of the things I want to do, without physical impediments.

But the clock is ticking away. One day, it may be today, it may be tomorrow, it may be in 30 years time, something may happen which means I can't say any of those things. Maybe the cancer lurking within me will decide to break out and lay ravage to my body. Maybe I won't look right, look left and look right again whilst crossing the road and get splattered by a car. Maybe all the years of excess will catch up with me and the linings of the arteries in my heart or the veins in my brain will fail and I'll have a heart attack or stoke and find myself totally reliant on other people. Now I have a loving and supportive family, who I am sure will do what they can to help and look after me. I am sure I have friends who will come and see me.

When that day comes, it will give me the opportunity to sit back and enjoy the rewards of the society I've helped create. I was doing some sums. I have calculated that in my life, I've paid around a million pounds in tax so far.  This is made up of income tax, VAT, Council Tax, capital gains tax, corporation tax, Poll tax, and probably a whole range of other taxes I've long since forgotten about. In return for this figure, I've had an education, medical treatment, my bins get emptied, there is a streetlight outside my house, my children have been educated, the police have come round when I've been burgled. I've also had the pleasure of contributing towards the army, navy and Royal Air Force, who have ensured that we can all sleep safely in our beds without fear of the French, Germans, Russians, Argentinians or anyone else walking in and taking over.

Unlike many people, in organisations such as the taxpayers alliance, I don't resent a penny of the tax I've paid. I am a normal human being, so I'd rather it was in my bank account, but on balance I accept that it pays for the things which make this nation great. I believe passionately that governments have a duty to spend this money wisely, so I am all for cutting out wastefulness. I am all for using technology to improve efficiency and make life easier for us. Councils and governments have a duty to get the best value they can with our money. This means cutting inefficiency, it doesn't mean cutting services to people who need them.

And then we come to the other issue which vexes many people who have a different view of the world to me. The thorny subject of immigration. Maybe it is because my father was an immigrant and my mother was the daughter of an immigrant, that I have no issues with people who wish to come to the UK to make a better life for themselves. If you have any doubts about what a fantastic contribution immigrants make to the UK, consider what would happen to our hospitals, public transport services, service industries etc without their contribution. Parties like UKIP wish to put "full up" signs at our borders. The sad truth for them is that the economy would collapse without immigration. Does this mean that anyone at any time should be able to up sticks and live in the UK, of course not. We have to have sensible controls, but I think we have things more or less right.

Another subject which vexes people who disagree with me is foreign aid. The UK is an enormously wealthy country. That wealth was largely built during the Victorian era. Apart from HS1, all of our mainline rail network was built in this period. Great Britain was the richest country on the planet - this wealth was fueld by our empire. The empire brought cash in from countries who had appalling levels of poverty. We spent a couple of hundred years robbing these poor countries blind. Of course there were some economic benefits, but we did not share the ice cream pot around. As such, this country, more than any other has a moral obligation to pay back a debt of honour. Our target of 0.7% of the GDP seems a scandalously low figure, yet some feel it is too high.

And then there is the thorny subject of our intervention in far flung foreign lands, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. I believe we entered these conflicts for the highest reasons. Saddam Hussain was a brutal dictator and the Taliban are a disgustingly backward version of the Islamic religion. Women are suppressed and freedom of religious expression was banned. They also harboured an organisation who were intent on destroying our way of life. Have we succeeded in any way in making the world better with our intervention? That is impossible to quantify, I believe that maybe we have. Had we left Al Quaida in place in Afghanistan, who knows what havoc we would have seen. As it is, since 9/11 we've seen the 7/7 outrage in the UK. In many ways Al Qaida has been controlled. The world is a rough old place. We are lucky to live in a nice bit of it.

So on that dark, terrible day when I cannot look after myself, and my life becomes one of waiting for the next carer to change my incontinence pads, or the next nurse to give me my dinner and tablets, I will look at the million or so quid I've paid in tax (as a relatively well off person) and ask myself a few questions.

Here are a few of the questions I may consider

1. Am I pleased I wrote a blog which campaigned to maintain high quality public services for people who can't look after themselves? I guess, to quote Tory Councillor John Hart, "some people rely on the council to wipe their arses" that when that person is me, I will hope it is someone who treats me with dignity at that time.

2. Did I do everything I could to make sure that people didn't suffer from poor quality care? Well, I guess I could say I did, although we can always do more, can't we.

3. Did I have the courage of my convictions to face down the people who sought to destroy our tolerant and peaceful society? I hope I can answer yes to this.

4. Did I do everything in my power to prevent the people on low pay, who have emigrated to the UK for a life "wiping my arse" in a caring profession, to be treated as valued members of society? I hope so.

If you are a councillor, a member of a party which seeks to oppose the values I've mentioned above, or simply someone who thinks that taxation is state sponsored robbery, just think for a second what sort of society you will live in should you get to see your aims and agenda adopted widely. One day you may be 100% reliant on people who have emigrated to the Uk, people on low wages, people who work for exploitative companies. Or even worse, they may not be around anymore and you will have no one to care for you. At that point, you may be very sorry to live in a country which just doesn't care about anything but the bank balances of the very well off.

Friday, 28 June 2013

The Friday Joke - 28/6/2013

My good lady is not a fan of my blog. She tells me it's boring and tedious and I spend far too long on activities which make no contribution to the family coffers. I asked her what she suggested I should write. She told me that someone wrote a book called 50 Shades of Grey and made ten million quid. As I could use ten million quid, I thought I'd try that here, so here goes

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Barnet Council announces first new council housing building program for 30 years

On Tuesday Barnet Council announced that it was to start a small scale project to build council houses. A total of 41 houses are planned for the next three years. You can read the news here on the Barnet Council website.

http://www.barnet.gov.uk/news/article/318/barnet_council_confirms_first_new_council_housing_for_over_20_years

Now you may expect this blog to react hysterically to the news. In fact we welcome the news. Unlike so many of the plans the council has made, whilst we would like to see a more ambitious project, it is eminently sensesible to start by testing the water. 38 Houses will not scratch the surface of the problem, but as the council has lost all of its experience in such schemes, dipping the toe in first is clearly a good way to start.

What is perhaps troubling is the statement by the Leader of the Council -
Cllr Richard Cornelius, Leader of Barnet Council, said: “Central Government now gives councils greater freedom to spend our housing income as we think is wise so we can create these new family sized homes along with a number of fully wheelchair accessible homes.
“There is no doubt that London needs new homes and I think council housing will be part of that mix.
“They will, however, be very different from council housing as we have known it in the past.  I don’t see that there will be large estates and we plan that council housing will be available to a family for a particular period in their lives. It won’t mean a house for life.”

The last sentence about the properties "not being a house for life worries me. What exactly does the leader mean? Does he mean that at some unspecified point families will be evicted? I am all for people moving out of Council accomodation when they can afford to move, but what when they can't? Do we really want to see people turfed out on the streets?

I suspect that the statement is actually just a nod to the more right wing loonies in the Barnet Tory party. I don't really think Richard Cornelius is someone who is so heartless as to sling people on the street, when through no fault of there own, people  find themselves in times of hardship.

There are thousands of people on the waiting list for council homes in Barnet. The council has no policy to address this problem. All this can be seen as is a green shoot of common sense. People on the left should resist the urge to react antagonisitically to something which indicates a modicum of common sense is being displayed. We should remember that there was a period from 1997 until 2002, when Barnet had a Labour Council and the country had a Labour government, when no council houses at all were built in the Borough. 

Even worse, this period lumbered us with Barnet Homes, which if it was being launched today would have the local BAPSters and other groups on the left protesting outside the town hall. Sadly as Labour brought in this awful organisation, no one said a dickybird. I sincerely hope that the local Labour group has learned. We do ourselves no favours by shutting our eyes and pretending it is all marvellous, because this leads to a complete cock up. Sadly the local Tories learned nothing from the acquiesence of the Labour hordes to stupid and misguided policies and so have embarked on equally stupid ones with One Barnet. 

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Barnet Council Cabinet Resources Committee - Councillor Dan Thomas - You're Fired !!!!

Before I start my account of the Cabinet Resources Meeting on Monday night at Barnet Town Hall, would you possibly be so kind as to indulge me for a couple of paragraphs. You see after the meeting, I nipped down to the pub and had a pint with my fellow bloggers. I then scampered back and had another pint, a chat and picked up a takeaway from the Mill Hill Tandoori, as I am want to do when I am hungry and haven't eaten all day. When I got in, my beloved was waiting and we had pleasant glass of a nice red wine. Now all of this combined to give me a rather disturbed nights dream. At 5.30am, I was awoken with a start as our big hairy mutt leaped up on top of me. As a result, I had a vivid recollection of the rather odd dream I was having. Having spent three hours in the company of Barnet Council's cabinet, it clearly made a rather big impression on me. As you will recall, rather a large selection of bloggers and residents arrived to ask questions of the cabinet. They rather made mincemeat of the lacklustre members of the cabinet, but as the Cabinet answer to no one, except every four years at election time, no matter how good the questions were it makes no difference.

Anyway, back to my dream. I was in the cabinet meeting and there was all manner of lighting and technicians around. I stupidly asked if the council had bitten the bullet and decided to film meetings themselves. Oh no they replied, tonight the cabinet were hosting an episode of the apprentice with Lord Sugar ! Rather disbelievingly, I said why? They replied that he knows Richard Cornelius and they thought it would be good PR. They then informed the public that we all had to leave for the filming. I said I wasn't going anywhere as it was my democratic right to attend the meeting. I was just starting to get cross, when I was woken up.

Anyway, in a rather befuddled state, I tried to make sense of it all. Maybe what Barnet needs is a good dose of Lord Sugars business acumen. I then reflected on what I had seen. It was truly bizarre. Barbara Jacobson had asked a whole set of questions, as had Tirza Waisel-Cohen. Before the meeting started, I was chatting with a couple of members of the sea scouts. They had come up to try and resolve an issue with the rights to teach Kayaking on the Welsh Harp, in the mistaken belief that there was an item about the Welsh Harp on the agenda. As there clearly wasn't and as they'd sat through hours of debate, I thought maybe I could help them out. I had a quick chat with Councillor Dan Thomas, Deputy Leader of the Council and suggested he had a chat with them. When he's not being Deputy Leader of the Council, he's a reasonable human being and so it seemed to be sensible for them to have a chat. He promised to speak to them yesterday and do what he could to assist. The Sea Scouts seemed pleased. I would suspect that they will get some joy out of him. Generally all of our councillors are pretty good when politics and ideology is removed from the equation. As a precaution, I also gave the sea scouts my number and said to keep me informed.

Anyway, on to Tirza Waisel. She asked a stack of questions regarding the re-award of the contract for care homes to Catalyst. Given that one of their residents had died falling out of a window, Ms Waisel Cohen whether this is wise and whether the relatives of the poor resident had been canvassed as to their views on the incident. Strangely no one at the council thought this was relevant. Catalyst had sued the council and won £8 million compensation because their old contract wasn't lucrative enough for them. Ms Waisel Cohen thought it strange that such a company would get another contract. The Cabinet Resources committee disagreed. During the course of her questioning, I couldn't help notice the way Councillor Rams was studiously picking his nose. He seemed to find this far more interesting than the views of the local resident.

Then we had Barbara Jacobson. She was more interested to find out what the budget for consultants was and whether it had been exceeded. Councillor Dan Thomas informed her that there was no budget. Ms Jacobson was shocked. She informed us that she's a project manager and projects always have a budget. Councillor Thomas informed her that there was no need because the consultants would save lots of money. Ms Jacobson persisted. How could a London Borough spend millions with no budget? How could they know if they were getting value for money? Councillor Thomas sneered that as they were going to save lots of money, it didn't matter.

This goes to the crux of the objections. There is nothing to measure anything by. How does the council know that these consultants are good value. How do they know that this bunch of consultants are any good at all. By the time the "savings" roll in, they'll have disappeared over the hill.

Finally we had up a group who had placed a bid to buy the site of Hendon Football club. They had wanted to open a Jewish Free School on the site. The council had not agreed and taken another bid. The school felt they'd been treated unfairly. Councillor Dan Thomas informed the school that the Council was under no obligation to take into account any benefit the school may deliver. The man from the school suggested that the homes going on the site would house familys who would have no schools to send their children to and that this is madness. Rather bizarrely Councillor Thomas implied that it really didn't matter at all.

Sadly, it all does matter. No budgets and no consideration of what is good for the Borough. Harking back to my dream, I do wonder what Lord Sugar would have made of the performance by Councillor Thomas and his team. From what I saw, he'd be sending them off with a "Councillor Dan Thomas, You're fired".

I suppose the difference between the likes of Councillor Dan Thomas and the likes of myself and Lord Sugar is that we are entrrpreneurs, who spend our own money. If we screw up, we go bust, so we are careful with our money. Councillor Thomas has an unending supply of money, supplied by you and me. It doesn't matter to him is his "consultants" have no budget and deliver nothing. He doesn't care because he still gets his allowance.

As I said, at the start of this blog, the cabinet are only held to account every four years. We can do nothing until next year. Next year we can turf them out. The Conservatives will say they've had no rises in Council tax for several years. They will not say how much they've wasted on consultants who work without budgets. They will not say how the companies they give contracts to let vulnerable people fall out of windows and die. They will not say how many of their residents have had to take them to court to get some sort of engagement.

They will have a well funded party machine to get the message over. All we have is a hotch potch of blogs and hard working citizens. Today this blog had it's millionth hit. We've never paid a penny to advertise and we've not taken a penny of your money to provide this service. Who do you trust? If the answer is those people who do it for the community rather than the cash, please help us in our campaign for sanity in the London Borough of Barnet.

A Million Blog Hits - All the endorsement we need

Today the Barnet Eye will pass the official Blogger record of a million hits. Considering the fact that the main topic of discussion on this site is local politics in Barnet, this is an extraordinary total. In actual fact the total is even higher as the blogger stats started after the conception of the blog, but hey, so what.

I believe that this amazing milestone is a stunning endorsement of my belief that the local papers are not covering local politics in Barnet properly. I must give thanks to my team of guest bloggers, such as John Sullivan, Linda Edwards, Julia Hines and Defend Council Housing for their efforts. They add an extra dimension to the coverage. I must also mention the support I have received from the community for blogs on the subject of dyslexia and cancer, which I believe are both areas which are again not covered properly in the press.

I beleive that this blog is responsible for enormous change for the good in the London Borough of Barnet. We believe we have played a major role in making sure the council are properly scrutinised by residents. We believe that we have assisted campaigners such as John and Linda in their fight against injustice. We have given them a voice and the confidence to carry on. We believe that our campaign to allow filming in the town hall has been responsible for improving the quality of decision making at Barnet Council. We believe that we've created an environment where organisations such as BAPS have the confidence to challenge bad decisions. We have helped campaigners such as Helen Michael to beat the council on the removal of parking meters and also in replacing Brian Coleman as GLA rep. We believe in honesty and transparency and will fight of truth and justice in Barnet, especially for those who can't fight for themselves.

It is my intention to organise a party at the Day of the Raj Indian Restaurant to celebrate this milestone. We will have a special menu and a special price and all proceeds will be given to MacMillan Cancer relief. More details will follow.

There are all sorts of awards for bloggers and local citizens. The Barnet Eye seeks none of these. We are not interested. The only endorsement we need is the fact that we've seen a million hits from people who care about the causes we support. 

I have a very important blog to write now, which I will publish this evening, but I just wanted to say a special thank you to everyone in the community who has supported me and supported my blog. Thank you.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Barnet Council Cabinet Meeting 24/6/2013 - Democracy in Action?

Last night we saw the Cabinet of Barnet Council hold a lengthy debate to scrutinise in detail the proposed DRS contract. As is fitting in an open and transparent democracy a whole selection of local residents expressed their democratic rights to ask questions of the cabinet and to address the cabinet. The cabinet listened intently to these submissions and then asked various questions of the members of the public. The Barnet Eye was truly heartened to have taken part in the process, as one of those residents who addressed the cabinet. Like all of those present, I was completely reassurred that our elected representatives had done a good job taking our concerns into consideration, prior to making the decision, which was passed unanimously, to award the contract.

Ok, you guessed. There is a small degree of irony in the above paragraph. I daresay that this describes accurately how the cabinet viewed the proceedings, but for the rest of us who attended, the whole thing was a complete charade. The Barnet Eye addressed the comittee.I raised two main issues in the allotted five minutes. The first thing I mentioned was the plethora of court cases which Barnet has found itself embroiled in, largely due to its inability to consult residents. The Barnet Eye suggested that the council could have saved millions had they done what they are supposed to do and followed proper procedures for consultation. The second point, which seemed completely beyond the grasp of the councillors, was that the business case for the DRS outsourcing was claiming that money generated from "extra income" (presumably price hikes) could be listed as "savings". Barnet Council claim that if Capita don't take over the services, they will have to make swinging cuts, but given that 4/5ths of the supposed savings they detail are from "extra income" this is clearly nonsense.

As to the issue of consultation, the Deputy Leader of the Council shot back that the Council had won all of the cases listed by The Barnet Eye. Sadly Councillor Thomas hadn't been paying attention. So the Barnet Eye reminded him of the status of these cases.

David Young won the case against the Council over sheltered housing wardens.
The CPZ case is trundling on.
The Maria Nash case against One Barnet is in the Court of Appeal, still going through process.
The Catalyst Case was lost by the Council, who racked up £2 million and had to pay £8 million compensation (The council is re-awarding the contract to the company).
John Sullivan has won an injunction against Your Choice, forcing them to consult.
Unison won a case against Barnet regarding agency workers.

The Deputy Leader suggested that nationally there was a trend towards more legal action and asked the Barnet Eye to agree this. Our response was that in such a climate, the council should try and do things properly, so they weren't open to such cases. The legal aid rules state that there must be a better than evens chance of getting a determination to win before aid is granted, so clearly the council has not done its job.

Fellow Bloggers Mrs Angry and Mr Reasonable also tried to persuade the council to see sense. Both failed. Mr Reasonable, as ever asked a whole range of sensible questions regarding the process. As ever, he was given a whole range of non answers. As ever Mr Reasonable made clear that he was not making the points out of political motivation, he merely wanetd value for money. As ever, his reasonable remonstrations were ignored. Mrs Angry treated the council to a withering blast, summiraly dismissing there arguments and business case, for the claptrap that anyone who has read the thing would conclude. She also managed to berate Councillor Robert Rams for his lack of manners. Barbara Jackson treated the councillors to a our de force in how to analyse a very poor decision making process. The Council Leader shifted uneasily, not enjoying the experience.

Then we went on to the "debate". Councillor Rams concluded that the Labour party agreed with him, as no Labour Councillors had addressed the committee. I suppose he thinks Arsenal fans agree with Spurs fans that it s great when Spurs score a goal in the Derby because they sit there moping as the Spurs mob shout their heads off. He then said "I know what the silent majority think" A naughty person in the public gallery shouted "How can you know what they think if they are silent, you moron". Councillor Rams replied that you know you've won the debate when your opponents abuse you. It didn't seem to occur to him that in most peoples eyes, if you treat them like idiots and say extremely stupid things, you are liable to receive the odd cat call. It was interesting to note that no other councillor got the same response as Rams. Councillor Dean Cohen was very concerned that Capita would not manage supplies of grit properly. Certain members of the public shouted at the good councillor for this observation. I tended to agree with his observation that this was actually the type of thing residents cared about.

Anyway the public was dismissed for the commercially sensitive part of the debate (we all stood outside and listened, as they had their microphones on and we could hear everything) and then passed the motion.

And that my friends, is Democracy in Action in Barnet. Councillor Jack Cohen, the Lib Dem leader, asked me if I'd enjoyed seeing Democracy in Action, with a very deeply sarcastic tone. Indeed I had. I enjoy a good farce.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Barnet Council Cabinet Meeting 24/6/2013

Just a quick note to say that I will be addressing the Barnet Council Cabinet tonight at their meeting at 6:30pm. I have asked for permission to address the cabinet to express my concerns at the various policies the council are currently implementing and the lack of consultation and democracy in the manner of these implementations.

There have been a whole string of high profile court cases as a result of these policies. It is time the council realised that they need to start treating the electors and council tax payers with respect. Please come along tonight to see how democracy works in the London Borough of Barnet.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Mill Hill Music Festival Diary - Day 8 - A great night and some thoughts and reflections

The Polecats Rock out at the Mill Hill Music Festival at Allianz Park
So it's Sunday morning and the Mill Hill Music Festival is done and dusted for another two years. What many readers of this blog will not realise is that the Mill Hill Music Festival is the reason that this blog exists in the first place For those of you involved in any sort of community activity, I suspect that there is a familar theme to what I have to say. Having been involved in the festival for many years - the festival is in its 20th year. We stage it bi-annually and this was the 10th festival.

The biggest struggle all festivals have is getting out to the wider public details of what is going on. We have an extensive mailing list, nearly 1,000 people on it. We also have a stack of banners, bunting and other PR equipment. In Dan Bleich we have an excellent designer for our website and our posters and flyers. We have been active for three months leafletting and publicising our festival.  The planning actually started last September. The festival started last Saturday, with events every night apart from Monday. Every event has been well attended and all have featured excellent music which has been extremely well received.

The festival is a not for profit organisation. All of the committee give their time and services for nothing. In terms of material support, my company, Mill Hill Music Complex probably gave £2,500 worth of support in terms of supply of PA, Lights, transport and staff for the event. The advantage of owning your own business is that you can support the causes you want to and make things happen in your community.

There are many causes and charities we give some sort of assistance and support to over the course of the year, but as we are a music related business based in Mill Hill, the Festival gets the most. During the course of the week, due to my other working commitments, I start the day at 7am and finish most days at 1am. I am not a martyr, I am a bit of a workaholic. In truth the festival just takes the bandwidth normally spent writing this blog !

At the start of this blog, I mentioned that the festival is directly responsible for the inception of the blog. The whole thing started during the 2007 festival. That year, the local press gave the festival virtually no support at all. I personally see it as a primary role of the local papers to support local charities, events and festivals. If I was the editor of the local paper, I would have a whole two pages of listings every week simply detailing forthcoming events. It is not good enough to have a paragraph two days before the event. There should be coverage for two or three weeks before the event starts, so people have time to plan around the events. The Papers should list the whole event with dates & prices of forthcoming events. If this was in the paper every week, people would get in the habit of checking and that page would soon command an advertising premium.  Back in 2007, we had the ridiculous situation where the local press were giving write ups of international superstars at Wembley Stadium, whilst not mentioning local festivals for local people.

I wrote to the editor and offered to edit the said page for free. I said I'd do all the donkey work and explained the importance. He said he'd think about it. We had lengthy discussions, nearly nine months of them. In the end, he agreed to make me a "community blogger". I didn't even know what a blogger was. My intention was to promote local music. Sadly, the local paper blog never got the chance to promote the festival as a dispute with the editor lead to it being dropped.

So I set this blog up and here we are. In homage to the debt this blog owes the festival, I only write about the festival during festival week (that and the fact I'm too busy!).

Anyway, on to last night. First up we had Loaded Dice, featuring the awesome talents of legendary rockabilly guitarist Mark Harman. The band rocked through the set and got a warm reception and a well earned encore. In the interval, there was a rocking disco with DJ Chopper. Then the main feature.

We had the Polecats and Loaded Dice at Allianz Park. It was the Polecats first gig in their home town since 1979. We had a great turnout of locals. Tim Polecat picked up the vibe with invokation such as "Who's Moat Mount" and "Who's Orange Hill" (two old Mill Hill schools which merged to form Mill Hill County High School in the 1980's). The set included there chart hits such as John I'm only Dancing and Rockin on the Marie Celeste, by the end of the night, everyone was on their feet and the place was rocking,. Three encores ensued.

At the end of the night, we had the usual joy of breaking down the gear. After such an exhilarating set, the audience can go home, but the crew have to pack up. I finally got home at around 1:30pm. This morning I was back at 10am to pick up the gear and that was that for another two years.

In musical terms, I think this has been one of the best festivals ever. There were no bad performances. I saw every show apart from the opening concert at St Pauls (I was setting up at the Adam & Eve). If you went, I am sure you'd agree that it was great and if you didn't you missed out.

Anyway finally a big thanks to my co-organisers. Dan Bliech, Gerry Keene, Clare Tichborne, Lucia Carabine, Leslie Evans, Councillor Joan Scannell, Brian Peerless and Jenni Bond for all of their work over the last year organising the festival. The festival is a real team effort and we've all supported each other through the ups and downs and are all still friends. Also a big thanks to the Mill Hill Music Complex staff, especially Fil Ross, Adam Prosenesko, Darren O'Reilly and Stuart Waterman for their efforts and support. A big thanks to the Balls London Bike club for use of their transportation. A big thanks to Waitrose for their generous financial support, Mill Hill Wines for acting as our ticket office.

A special word of thanks go out to all of the venues, especially Allianz Park, who generously let us use their facilities for three days and their staff who were so accomodating. As I went to collect the gear, the venue was holding the London region Special Olympics. The venue has been transformed and it is great to see new life in the Mill Hill Community. Finally a big thanks to all of the helpers who gave their time and the public who turned out see the shows. We estimate that over 1,000 people attended the 8 shows. If I missed anyone out, I am sorry, I'm a bit cream crackered.

Normal Service will be resumed at the Barnet Eye tomorrow, but tonight I will have a beer and contemplate a job well done.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Mill Hill Music Festival Diary - Day 7 - The Bateman Brothers tribute to Louis Armstrong

It's Saturday morning, we are into the home straight. One more gig to go. Last night was day seven of the Mill Hill Music Festival. We had the Bateman Brothers tribute to Louis Armstrong at Allianz Park, home of the Saracens.

The gig was a bit of a luxury for those of us in the crew. One advantage of doing three nights at a venue, we didn't have to break down the gear on Thursday night, or set it up again. The PA was all set, we just needed to mic up the instruments and off we went. A process that can take three or four hours was done in an hour.

I arrived around 5pm. My festival colleagues had arrived earlier, to ensure everything was ready. The Band started to drift in around 6pm. For once we were done and dusted with the soundcheck with a fair old time to spare. One thing we've noticed this year is that people have been far less willing to book early. In previous years, most events sold out well in advance. This time only the Opera had actully sold out. As Allianz Park is a large venue, we didn't expect to sell out quickly, but the tickets had been slow. What had happened though was that a far greater number of people than usual turned up on the night.

As to the actual gig, it was a fantastic show. The band work extremely hard to bring the music of the great man to life. They have a fantastic singer in Maggie Reeday, who gave a stunning performance. My personal favourite was Blue Skies. This was my Dad's favourite song, my Dad would always sing it when it rained and hearing it again brought a tear to my eye. From a sound perspective, large Jazz bands can be challenging. Instruments such as clarinets can get a little lost in the wall of sound. Fortunately the Allianz Park venue has decent acoustic properties and we managed to get an excellent sound.

The band were well received by the audience as was the fish & chips, provided by Allianz Park. The show finished just before 11pm, and again we had the luxury of an easy breakdown of gear. Rather than de-rig the whole show, we simply powered down and took the microphones down.

Tonight we have the final night of the festival. This is the Polecats and Loaded Dice. It is a gig I've been looking forward to since we booked it. It's the first time the Polecats have played in their hometown of Mill Hill for 35 years. I was at the last one, in St Pauls Church Hall. Shortly after that, the Band had a top ten hit with "John I'm only dancing" and they have all been professional musicians ever since. Boz, Tim and Phil have been mates of mine since school, and were the very first paying customers of my studios when they opened in 1979. We also have a rock and roll disco tonight, so it will be a great chance to get down and have a boogie. If you've never been to see a rockabilly shindig, it's a hoot. Come one down.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Mill Hill Music Festival Diary - Day 6

Stewart Curtis K-Groove soundcheck at Allianz Park
Day 6 and it's off to the home of Saracens Rugby club at Allianz Park for the first of three gigs. It was Stewart Curtiss K-Groove. Before the band arrived, the festival team has to install a stage, rig a PA and a lighting system and generally prepare the 100 club suite for the gig. Gerry and Dan along with the install team of Stuart Waterman and Adam P from Mill Hill Music Complex arrived at 2pm, armed with PA, lights etc. The stage guys turned up at 3pm.

By 5pm when I arrived, the room had been transformed. The band turned up at 6pm for a soundcheck, which was a relatively straightforward issue. The band are old pro's and Stuart W has run clubs for many years. Stuart then handed the PA over to yours truly for the gig. He was off for another function.

At 7.30pm the doors opened, and in poured the crowd. We had esteemed company. The Mayor of Barnet, Councillor Melvin Cohen and the Leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius joined us. The band played 2 sets and got a fantastic reaction. The venue is a superb location. It is new, has decent acoustics and aa good atmosphere. At the interval I had a chat with the Council leader. We agreed that the Saracens have done a great job and the stadium is a real community asset. We also agreed that the Mill Hill Music Complex PA sounded excellent! During festival week, I concentrate on music and it was great to see the council giving the festival such visible support.

As to the music, Stewart and the boys are excellent, they play an modernish take on Klezmer, integrating Latin grooves and jazz with the style. The reaction was superb and they got a rousing encore. Then we had to break down the rig and put the gear away. There are two nights left. Tonight (Friday), we have Jazz with the Louie Armstong tribute from the Bateman Brothers and tomorrow night the Polecats and Loaded Dice (feat mark Harman).

If you can make it, please come on down. There will be some excellent music played and it is a fine venue. Check it out for you weddings, Bahmitzvah's and corporate functions.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Mill Hill Music Festival Diary - Day 5

Yesterday was Jazz night for the Mill Hill Music Festival. We had the enormously talented Tina May at the Mill Hill Golf club. This was hosted by the Mill Hill Jazz Club, which is every Wednesday at the Golf Club. The Jazz club has hosted some of the finest talents in the country over the years and has helped launch the career of some fine musicians such as Imelda May. One of Imelda's first recordings was for the Jazz clubs CD.

The Jazz club has lead a nomadic existence, starting at the Three Hammers, moving to the Mill Hill Sports Club, when Ember Inns took over the Hammers and bringing in a new manager who wasn't keen on Jazz. When the Sports club was closed two years ago, it moved to its current venue.

For the festival committee, we simply listed the gig and helped publicise it. There was a good crowd out for Tina, who put in a storming effort, ably assisted by her band. If you like Jazz, then we still have another great gig, with the Bateman Brothers at Allianz Park, Copthall Stadium on Friday. For those of you who prefer Rock and Roll, we have the Polecats on Saturday for the end of Festival Party. Tonight (Thursday), we have Klezmer music from Stewart Curtis K-Groove.

Full details here
http://www.millhillmusicfest.co.uk/main.php/programme


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Mill Hill Music Festival Diary Day 4

Tuesday was day 4 of the Mill Hill Music Festival. It was Opera night at the Trinity Church in Mill Hill. This newly rebuilt venue was a pleasant setting for Opera Up Close, who performed La Boheme. The show sold out weeks ago and an enthusiastic audience turned up. The festival team of Gerry and Dan turned up at noon to start the preparations. A piano was delivered, drapes were erected and a lighting rig installed. We also ran a bar.

My involvement was limited due to other work arrangements, but it was great to see such a fine turnout on a Tuesday night. The show finished around 10pm and the whole caboodle, that had taken all day top put together, was stripped out in an hour and packed into the fleet of vans. Everyone left the hall on a high.

Tonight we have Tina May at the Mill Hill Jazz Club at Mill Hill Golf club. We then move to Allianz Park for the final three days. We have Stewart Curtis K-Groove playing Klezmer music tomorrow, The Bateman Brothers tribute to Louis Armstrong on Friday and on Saturday we have The Polecats with Loaded Dice. The Polecats feature the talents of legendary guitarist Boz Boorer, whilst Loaded Dice feature another legend Mark Harman. It should be a great night !

Checkout the festival details here
http://www.millhillmusicfest.co.uk/main.php/programme

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Guest Blog - Richard Cornelius in the Press - A response, by John Sullivan



By John Sullivan,

I am responding to a letter from Cllr Cornelius in the local press that also carries his photograph in the letters page which makes his letter harder to miss than yours or mine, it seems strange that CADDSS ( Campaign Against Destruction of Disability Support Services ) was conceived in the letters to the editor column at The Press by two strangers that have since become friends and allies, and yet still Cllr Cornelius gets the headline and others get the bi-Line , once again the Cornelius definition of truth gets centre stage whilst the whole truth gets the bi-line. He knows  full well that his one liners cannot be answered with a simple one liner, which undermines the ability of the challenger to get across his or her viewpoint, thereby denying the right of the whole truth to be heard because the journalists have to cut your letters up to fit the page rather than send the whole message, hence the need to request a guest blog on Barnet Eye so I can have my say within reason.

Cornelius claims  (June 13th Edition)  " no relentless drive to outsourcing " whilst going on to refer to fully retaining just one service namely recycling which he now realises is a profit making enterprise, and was recently rescued from its planned outsourcing, whilst knowing  full well 90% of all other public services are to be outsourced that he misleadingly refers to as " some back office functions". He claims  " no race to the bottom at Your Choice " whilst driving out or demoting skilled staff, cutting  support staff numbers, replacing skilled staff with unskilled staff a potential for our very own Barnet version of Winterbourne View , making up to 30% cuts in already low paid staff wages , and changing staff terms and conditions in many other detrimental ways to numerous to mention, all of which will have a detrimental effect on staff morale and therefore quality of services. So how can this be anything other than a race to the bottom in service and staff quality, he claims he is avoiding savage cuts to services, well  how more savage could the cuts be than this .
He implies that forming  the LATC that Your Choice is a subsidiary company of was inevitable due to the direct payments legislation which is such a red herring, if this were completely true then why has every borough across the country not formed an arms length LATC to comply with the legislation
He claims " your choice is designed to create a service people can and will choose balancing quality & cost ". Designed by whom ?, not by parents or family carers or service users who were banned from any meaningful consultation, on the proposed changes mentioned above. The fact a potential legal challenge is pending on this very issue, qualifies just how deaf dumb and blind Cornelius is to the opinions of anyone other than his very expensive consultants that Barnet tax payers have given approximately  6 million pounds to date, who have only one vested interest and that is to line their pockets.
In this race to the bottom in services and staff quality, because the quality of the service is only as good as the quality of the staff. Who would choose a service full with low paid unskilled demoralised workers with no vocation for the job simply the need of employment, or perhaps forced to take the job or have their benefits stopped. More importantly where is the "Choice " he speaks of where are the alternative facilities, for many service users there is  " No Choice " never mind " Your Choice ", so where does the ability to "CHOOSE " enter the debate.


He then chooses to attempt to publicly smear the name of Tirza Waisel and all members of Baps & CADDSS, branding us a hard left pressure group that should be scrutinised when nothing could be further from the truth. This is the man that denied Barnet residents the right of scrutiny and consultation on the Massive One Barnet Outsourcing Programme, he misleadingly attempts to palm off as a small outsourcing programme of " some back office services ". This is the man that has denied parents , family carers and services users of all elements of YCB services, family members with collectively hundreds of years of front line experience across the board, the right to scrutinise the March 1st document that the above proposals are a part of, along with the right to consult on their future well being  or the future well being of disabled family members , in fact they refused to provide us with a copy of the document that outlines the race to the bottom in service and staff quality at Your Choice Barnet.

As a member of both Baps ( Barnet Alliance for Public Services ) and CADDSS, I am sure all members of both groups would be happy to be scrutinised as suggested by Cornelius, first and foremost unlike Cornelius we have nothing to hide we are an open book. We have no need to tread the slippery slope the finite line between truth and untruth that Cornelius appears to have chosen. Scrutiny of Baps & Caddss will expose the complete untruth of the Cornelius claim we are hard left activists, it will prove we are very concerned parents, family carers, service users and residents of all political persuasions and none, that are deeply concerned with the race to the bottom in all public services in Barnet  particularly in my case YCB services, demanded by the craving to outsource at any price by Cornelius and co. Based unbelievably on a contract that Cornelius admits he has never even read, can you believe that statement from Cornelius, he bangs on about how wonderful everything will be with the One Barnet programme yet he has never even read the contract, you could not make it up.

Baps & Caddss stand for democracy, the democratic right to scrutinise . the democratic right to be meaningfully consulted, along with the truth , the whole  truth and nothing but the truth, a concept that is apparently alien to Councillor Cornelius. Who I repeat continues in my opinion  misleadingly to refer to the massive One Barnet outsourcing programme of One Billion Pounds in Barnet public services as " some back office functions ".
SO  I SAY BRING ON THE SCRUTINY.

 
STOP PRESS - 
I have just been advised by Irwin Mitchell, the solicitors I instructed on behalf of my daughter Susan, that the proposed changes to services have been put on hold until they consult with, the parents, family carers and service users they should have lawfully consulted in the first place. But for this legal action these changes would have been forced through as was the formation of YCB in the first place, Cornelius leads an undemocratic council that denies scrutiny and consultation  whilst demanding others be scrutinised, a council more like a Politburo than a democratically elected council, and he has the nerve to refer to others as  " Reds Under the Bed "  or some such nonsense.
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John Sullivan is a parent carer and regular guest blogger at the Barnet Eye 

Monday, 17 June 2013

The Mill Hill Music festival diary - Day 3

If you've already read the festival diary this week in previous blogs, skip this first paragraph, it's just the explanation. For those of you who don't know, I am on the organising committee of the Mill Hill Music Festival, which is taking place this week. For the duration of the festival, this blog becomes my festival diary. The festival is run by a group of volunteer helpers on a not for profit basis. The purpose is to promote live music in Mill Hill. 

So those of you who've checked our festival program may be a bit surprised to find we're doing stuff today, especially as there are no gigs in the programme 

http://www.millhillmusicfest.co.uk/main.php/programme

Actually today has been pretty hectic ! Try running a business and organising a festival! Today has been spent on the phone. We've had to coordinate the collection of drapes, the collection of lighting rigs, the guest lists for bands, the exact timings of soundchecks etc. We've also had to arrange last minute rehearsals for some of the artists. As I speak writing this in the reception of Mill Hill Music Complex (it's 8:30 pm, I got up at 7am), Stewart Curtis's K-Groove are rehearsing for their gig on Thursday night. 

We've also had last minute ticket sales, a plethora of enquiries and a whole stack of other logistical queries. On top of that we've had to do a load of last minute maintenance on our large PA which we'll be using between Thursday and Saturday at Allianz Park for Stewart Curtis K-Groove, The Bateman Brothers tribute to Louis Armstrong and The Polecats/Loaded Dice. 

We've also had Boz Boorer of the Polecats in doing a video shoot for another project "Happy Martyr". All in all a busy day. I had a nice bowl of fruit at 7:30, a humus salad at 1pm and now I'm starving. On top of that, my good lady, who is Festival treasurer, is having a night off the Festival by doing a gig with her band, The BBC Elstree Concert Band at the Ark Theatre in Borehamwood 
http://www.bbcelstreeconcertband.co.uk/ - Sadly I'm to busy to support her tonight. 

And I'm the one who had the easy day. Dan & Gerry have spent the day running around actually doing the collections and the hard work !


So there you go ! Who'd be a musician !

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The Mill Hill Music Festival diary - Day 2

For those of you who don't know, I am on the organising committee of the Mill Hill Music Festival, which is taking place this week. For the duration of the festival, this blog becomes my festival diary. The festival is run by a group of volunteer helpers on a not for profit basis. The purpose is to promote live music in Mill Hill.

So here we are at the end of day 2 (as far as the festival is concerned). Yesterday we had two events, the Holbrooke String Quartet at St Pauls and The Alan Warner All Stars at the Adam and Eve. Due to my inability to bi-locate, I was unable to attend the Holbrooke Quartet. My good lady (also a committee member) attended this event and said it went really well. The band were excellent and the music was well received.

My day. Well it started with my boy attending a trial for Watling Youth FC at the London Academy. My son has played for the team for the last six years. Recently new coaches have been appointed and the club is being restructured. I enjoyed the three hour session and it was great to see a group of around 20 boys being put through their paces. The facilities at the London Academy are excellent. It is great to see how one of Barnets formerly more run down schools has been transformed. After the session, I went to work at Mill Hill Music Complex, Saturday afternoon is a busy time. We have drama and singing, which brings lots of young people into the studios. It is pretty full on. I was also preparing for the week, as I'll be busy with the Music Festival. I had to pack up our lighting kit and then take it to the Adam & Eve for 6pm. I arrived to find the pub nearly empty. The management have not seen a festival night before and were a  tad apprehensive as to how the evening would go. Due to the weather, the plan for Alan Warner to play outside was dropped and space cleared indoors. I set up the lights and had a beer whilst waiting for the band - the calm before the storm.

Around 7pm Alan Warner and the boys arrived. Alan is an old friend of mine. He is perhaps the best guitarist I know. As a founder member of the Foundations, he has been around a long time, but still loves music and guitars. It is always a joy to hear him play.
By 8.30 pm when Al kicked off his first set, the pub was heaving with people. Many had driven miles to see Alan in action. His set was the usual eclectic mix of his favourite songs. For me the highlight of the first set was "Sweet Home Alabama". Many bands cover the song, but few do it justice. Alan certainly does.

At pub gigs, the pub covers the band cost. The festival hold a raffle to cover our costs. It was clear how the crowd react to the band by the monet raised. The raffle was a big success, thanks to the hard work of Jenni Bond, who takes responsibility. My job was simple, provide the lights,MC the show and make sure things ran smoothly. They did. By the end of the evening, the pub was rocking. Al blasted out all manner of hits, another highlight being Sultans of Swing, and a whole selection of excellent blues numbers. A great way to start the festival. We got home around 1am.

We had an early start today at the Rising Sun. At 10am I had to collect 10 white chairs from the studio and then help Gerry & Dan build Gazebos, ably assisted by Jenni & Clare. Due to the weather we also leant the pub a gazebo. All was built in time for the crowds. The weather started to threaten, with a very mild drizzle for the first half of the set, lightening up later. The Vo De O Do orchestra play 1920's jazz and ragtime. The band were very well received, as people munched through a tasty fathers day lunch. By the end, the crowd were up dancing. The pub was packed and thrilled with the response.

The band finished at around 4pm and we then broke down the gazebos etc, home for 5pm. A quick cuppa and now I'm off to Mass at 6pm and then out to play football at 7.30pm. We'll wrap up with a fathers day chinese at around 9pm. It will be nice to actually see the kids !

Life is never dull in Mill Hill during festival week.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Day 1 - The Mill Hill Music Festival

Today is day 1 of the Mill Hill Music Festival. Over the next 8 days, Mill Hill will come alive with an amazing series of concerts at venues all around the town. As part of the festival organising committee, it will be a busy week. My role is to provide the sound systems and logistical backup for the festival. The festival takes place every two years and this is the tenth festival. For the duration of the festival, this blog will become the festival diary. I will record how the festival is going and try an give some idea as to what being part of the team is like. Lets start with a little background. The committee started planning the festival back in September 2012. The first question we always have to answer is whether we actually want the hassle of running the festival. It is a major commitment. The next question, a major problem this year, was whether there were enough suitable venues. Over the last few years, Mill Hill has lost a number of key venue including St Josephs College on Lawrence St (venue for the Irish night), Hartley Hall (Mill Hill Amatuer Dramatic Society), Holcombe House (keynote Jazz night), The Mill (Festival Party Night), The Rose & Crown (Later Events). On top of that, due to exams in the week we chose, the school venues were unavailable.

Having lost so many venues, the challenge was to find some new ones. We were lucky that two excellent venues have opened. We have the stunning, recently rebuilt Trinity Church. We are also lucky to have the new Saracens stadium at Allianz Park. So having identified the venues, we then set about trying to line up an exciting and varied program. I think we've done a great job. This weekend we see three concerts. Today we have the opening concert, featuring the Holbrooke String Quartet at St Pauls church on the Ridgway. Doors open at 7.30pm and there are a few tickets left for the event. Tickets cost £12 and this includes a complimentary glass of wine or soft drink.

At 8pm, down the road at the Adam & Eve pub, we have a great night of blues, rock, pop and soul from The Alan Warner All Stars. Alan is a founder member of the Foundations and a co writer of their mega hit Build me up buttercup. Even better, the gig is free. Weather permitting there will also be a barbeque. This was a very popular night at the last festival, so get there early !

Tomorrow we have the Vo-de-o-do Orchestra at the Rising Sun pub. They are a ten piece Jazz band, playing the hits of the 1920's and the gig is free. Mill Hill has some lovely areas and I'd recommend that the Rising Sun is best sampled after a nice walk across Totteridge Valley, taking in Darlands Lake.

The other events this week are

Tuesday 18th - Opera up Close - Trinity Church - Sold out
Weds 19th - Tina May at the Mill Hill Jazz Club at Mill Hill Golf Club - tickets £15
Thursday 20th - Stewart Curtis K-Groove - Klezmer music - Allianz Park - £10
Friday 21st - The Bateman Brothers Tribute to Louis Armstrong - Jazz - Allianz Park - £15
Saturday 22nd - The Polecats with Loaded Dice - Rock and Roll/Rockabilly - Allianz Park - £15 (£12 in advance)

Try and come along and support the festival if you can. All of the nights promise to be rather special.

http://www.millhillmusicfest.co.uk/main.php/programme

Friday, 14 June 2013

Guest Blog - Your Choice Legal Action - By John Sullivan

By John Sullivan,

I have instructed Irwin Mitchell solicitors on behalf of my daughter to challenge Your Choice Barnet’s consultation process and decision (if the decision today was to implement the proposals).

Irwin Mitchell have sent a letter before action to Your Choice Barnet and await a response on Monday 17 June. If the challenge is successful it may result in staff members being able to stay in their current posts without any changes. I am aware that some members of staff have already shown interest in taking voluntary redundancy and would want them to be aware of the possibility that they could keep their current jobs, if this challenge is successful.

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John Sullivan is a parent carer and a regular guest blogger at The Barnet Eye. Guest Blogs are always welcome

The Friday Public Safety Announcement (Friday Joke Cancelled)


Thursday, 13 June 2013

Is this the right way to choose a Leader of Barnet Council

Since 2002, we've had a Conservative administration. Every four years there is a Council election where we choose 63 councillors. Most people in Barnet naively think that the person who leads the party at the election is the person who we've chosen and so will continue to lead the party. Sadly in Barnet (Pop 320,000), things don't work like that.

This is what has happened
2002 - Tories Elected - Victor Lyon Elected -  replaced by Brian Salinger 2005
2006 - Brian Salinger elected - replaced by Mike Freer 24 hours later. Freer steps down in 2009 to be replaced by Lynne Hillan.
2010 - Lynne Hillan Elected, passes away 2011, replaced by Richard Cornelius.

Many people in Barnet are unaware of the way the Leader is chosen.  This is done on a vote of the 36 Conservative councillors. So the Leader of Barnet Council can be changed at whim by a mere 19 people ( a majority of the Conservative Group) in a secret vote, the day after an election (as happened in 2006) - not democracy in my book. What makes me uneasy about the process is the fact that under the Barnet Council cabinet system, jobs within the 11 person cabinet are at the gift of the leader and these come with substancially enhanced allowances, as do the roles of chair of various committees.The cabinet has almost total power, to the exclusion of the other 52 councillors.

Any process within local government where people with a possible vested interest in a decision have a key role in the decision making, is to my mind not a good way to do business. I am in agreement with the current Leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius, that the Cabinet system is flawed. Richard is keen to return to the committee system, where all 63 councillors have a role and a part to play. As committees would elect their own chair, this would ensure a degree of independence. Barnet has seen some awful decisions since the Cabinet system was introduced (under Labour). The council has repeatedly ended up in court, facing all manner of legal actions from residents, unions and even suppliers. No one can claim that the system is delivering.

For the record, I don't think that the process is corrupt and anyone who thought any of the present or past leadership "bought the office" is being rather silly. There are clear factions within the Barnet Tories and the jobs tend to roll out accordingly. I do not believe the system has been abused, but clearly there is significant room for improvement. Whilst there is no way that the Conservative group can be dictated to on how a leader is elected, we can ask that the cabinet system is scrapped, so that all councillors have a degree of say in the structure and it is transparent.

Whilst I disagree with many of the policy decisions that Richard Cornelius has made, I still believe him to be a decent and honest chap. I sincerely hope that he recognises the flaws in the system and carries through his promise to bring back the committee system. If he does he will be doing a big service to Barnet. I also believe it will make the job of Leader easier as it will ensure that "big personalities" in the cabinet have to take regard of all of their colleagues.