Friday, 31 October 2014

Thursday, 30 October 2014

What do UKIP's millionaire backers want?

It is no secret that UKIP is largely funded by a group of multi millionaire backers. The party has a tiny membership borne out by the fact that it could only field 8 candidates in the Barnet Council elections. Like all organisations with little grassroots organisation they are good at fighting by elections where they can Marshall resources from far and wide, but come a general election, they will lack the feet on the ground to do the hard work.

Clearly the millionaires running the show are not mugs and don't waste money. So what are they hoping to achieve? Recent statements by senior UKIP members exposes that they are taking a strong anti NHS stand. Why could this be? Well I always believe that the best way to figure out such an agenda is to follow the money. If the NHS was abolished, then we'd need to pay far less tax. For most of us though, we'd be worse off by a mile as we'd have to take out highly expensive private health insurance. There is however one group who would do very nicely. Those on top rate taxes, such as the UKIP backers. None of them got their millions by being silly with money, so one has to conclude that they see UKIP as worth a punt. If they can scare the Tories enough, then they might just get what they want. The sad truth for the ordinary UKIP voters is these figures can and will pull the plug on UKIP when it suits them. And it will suit them the day the Tories agree to do their bidding. That day will be when the Tories decide that they must get rid of UKIP to win the election.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Look what has happened to NASA's outsourcing programme  I saw this on the news. NASA has outsourced delivery of supplies to the ISS. Seems like Barnet Council isn't the only public sector organisation to have problems with outsourcing. Do you suppose anyone might learn anything fro, this.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Sleepwalking into a traffic jam nightmare

Anyone have any idea how many more cars there will be on the roads of Barnet by 2030? The current plan says we'll have 80,000 more people living here by then so the number is likely to be at least 25,000 using conservative (small c) estimates. How many cars is that, most of which will be travelling in rush hour.

Given that parts of Barnet are already semi gridlocked every day and there are no plans for new major roads, which there is no space for anyway, there can only be one possible outcome. Total chaos.

You may ask what plans Barnet Council and TFL are working on to address the issue? At present none. Worse still is the fact that generally transport schemes take 10-20 years from inception to delivery, so we need to start planning now.

The biggest issue in Barnet is not so much links into town, where we have the Northern Lines two branches as well as the Spurs of the Thameslink network. The issue is East-West links where we have only a rather patchy bus network.  The main road artery is the North Circular, which is full to capacity. Amazingly Barnet council in its wisdom has agreed plans for a new mini city bang smack in the middle of one of the most congested bits, at Brent Cross. There can only be one outcome of this flawed plan. Traffic chaos. The developers talk about transport improvements, but in reality this is simply a new station sort of near to Brent Cross on the Thameslink line, which is already overcrowded. As this runs North to South it will do nothing to relieve the North Circular.

Bizarrely Barnet council are completely dismissive of a rather obvious solution. There are several abandoned and underused railways in the Borough which could be easily and comparatively cheaply be regenerated to provide a light rail solution similar to the Croydon tram link service. Bear in mind that Croyden is now a smaller borough than Barnet in terms of population, yet has an extensive tram network.  The Barnet Eye is not run by experts in such matters but recently attended a meeting with someone who is, who has planned many successful systems around the world. His view is that a light rail solution for Barnet has the potential to open up the Borough and make it a far better place to live and work.

The secret of a successful transport system is 'easy interchange' so you provide reliable and quick routes between where people want to live and where they want to go. Where you have scope to link large areas of population with likely destinations, you can see major reductions in traffic.

Any solution should provide good links between the new estates and the places people are likely to need to get to for work. At present Mill Hill East, site of a huge housing development has a patchy tube service and poor and congested links to Mill Hilll Broadway. There is no station for the huge development at Beafort Park and no links from it to the nearby Brent Cross shopping centre, even though a railway line passes next to both. We also have the royal Air Force museum, a major tourist attraction with no station.

It would be perfectly possible to link all of these with a light rail network joining Finchley Central to Brent Cross, with little new track needed, simply running on abandoned or alongside existing lines. This would also improve access to numerous schools, colleges and business parks along the way.

Of course the Barnet Eye does not have the resources to perform a feasibility study, but we urge the council to use some of its section 106 money to do just that. If we could get a modern and efficient mass transit system in Barnet, maybe the current administration might start to be viewed in a more positive light when the history of Barnet is written. I can't think of anyone who will thank them for the gridlock and chaos we face if the matter is ignored.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Why didnt UKIP call for Margaret Thatcher to be tried for treason?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for letting sleeping dogs lie and I bear no enmity towards Lady Thatcher. I am just sick and tired of the completely illogical why so many UKIP supporters and their fellow travellers completely forget her role in the creation of the EU superstate. It was Thatcher who signed the 'Single European Act' on our behalf. Not only that but she never even bothered to read it. Now I'm no fan of Gordon Brown, who was often derided as a megalomaniac control freak, but could you ever imagine him signing such a significant piece of paper without reading it. I am bemused as to why Brown is hated with as much passion as Thatcher is loved, especially when it is clear it was purely his recalcitrance that prevented Tony Blair signing us up for the single currency.

If a Labour leader had signed away our nationhood in the way Thatcher did, we would never ever hear the end of their treachery. Thatcher described hard working British miners as 'the enemy within' whilst presiding over the demolition of British sovereignty. One local Tory tried to use the excuse that 'no one reads such acts before signing them'. This is not true, Gordon Brown was criticised by the same critic for control freakery for reading everything. I was interested by the subject when I found out what Thatcher had done and so I read the whole thing. Much of it is unintelligible jargon, but it is 100% clear even from a cursory read exactly what she was signing away. Another argument was that she was hoodwinked by the Sir Humphreys. This is tosh, she knew what they were like and new that the only way to deal with them is to do her homework. So why didn't she. There are three possible reasons. A. She was too lazy. B. She was too stupid. C. She realised a federal Europe was good for the UK. So if you are a UKIP leaning thatcher fan, maybe you can tell us which of the excuses you prefer?

Sunday, 26 October 2014

A year of the new Barnet bins - No plans to deal with wanton waste  A press release on the Barnet Council website tells us that it's time to buy your recycling bins a birthday cake. Apparently the scheme has been a stunning success! Read on.....

Published Monday 13 October 2014
It will be one year on 14 October since Barnet Council overhauled its waste and recycling service and figures show that it has already proved to be a massive success.
The new easier to use blue recycling bins have been especially popular amongst Barnet residents, who have recycled approximately 25,000 tonnes the past year. This means an additional 5,000 tonnes of recyclable material has been collected, a 30 per cent increase on the same period under the previous system.
Residents have also taken to the new brown food waste bins over the past year, with the council collecting over 30 times more food waste than it previously did under the old system. So far, over 6,000 tonnes of food waste has been collected compared to just 200 tonnes the previous year.
Chairman of the Environment Committee, Councillor Dean Cohen, said: “Our numbers show that the new system has been an overwhelming success and residents are now recycling more than ever. This is very good news all round, for the council taxpayer and the environment.” 

Whilst it seems the new scheme is 'working well' given the huge costs of dealing with this, wouldn't the Council maybe be wise to spend some money on getting us to be a bit less wasteful. Am I the only person in Barnet who finds it disturbing that we waste 6,000 tonnes of food a year, whilst 1/4 of the worlds population will go to bed hungry tonight.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

The Saturday list #72 - A few things to consider about immigration

I thought I'd make a list of a few things which we should consider before talking b0110x about immigration.

1. The NHS would collapse without immigrants.
2. Buses and tubes couldn't run without immigrant workers.
3. Millions of Britions live as immigrants in other countries
4. There are not enough babies being born in the UK to sustain the economy.
5. The government boasts about economic growth. This is driven by immigration
6. The UK has been involved in wars in Iraq, Libya, the Balkans and Afghanistan recently. This has resulted in immigration to the UK.
7. The building trade would collapse without immigrant labour.
8. The success of London as an international city is based on its open and inclusive immigration policy.
9. The UK music industry is a world leader due to the nations mix of musical influences driven by immigrants.
10. No other City in the world has the range of world cuisine present in London and run by immigrants. This makes London a great place for tourists, business and the locals. Mill Hill would not be the same without its Indian, Chinese, Turkish, Italian and Jewish restaurants. I for one think that the local mixture of people has made our City the best place to live.

PS. I'm writing this from a hotel room in New Delhi. Today I saw the Taj Mahal in Agra. The planet is full of beauty and beautiful people. Not everyone realises this but everyone should

Friday, 24 October 2014

The Friday joke 24/10/2014

How many Barnet Councillors does it take to change a lightbulb.

A: None because they've outsourced it. Sadly all 63 of them seem to think it's a good idea

Thursday, 23 October 2014

"I vote to keep my big allowance" Richard Cornelius decides on his own fate

In Barnet Council we have a seemingly ridiculous state of affairs, or so the Hendon Times would have you believe. According to the paper, the Leader and Deputy Leader of the local Tories are voting to keep their allowances in the forthcoming no confidence vote
One may think it is scandalous that the leader can vote on preserving his job and accompanying allowances of tens of thousands of pounds. With a majority of 1 his own vote could keep him in the job.

Of course that ignores the point that it is politics. It also ignores the point that everyone else who could benefit if Cornelius goes should also abstain. If they did them Labour would have a clear majority. This of course would be ,
Marvellous for Labour but it wouldn't reflect the votes of the people of Barnet who in there wisdom elected a Tory majority. I think the Tories are guilty of scandalous maladministration allowing the council to lose too many qualified staff to function, but in a democracy we have the free will to elect bad administrators.

My belief is that the best way to send the Tories a message is to kick out the local Tory MP's at the next election. I take an interest in Town Hall politics, however most Barnet residents couldn't care less. I would wager that well below 50% even know who the leader of Barnet Council is.  Whilst it is all good fun having no confidence votes in a bloke no one has ever heard of, Labour would be far better off actually campaigning on issues people care about. Andrew Dismore walloped Brian Coleman in the GLA elections because people realised Colemans parking policies were idiotic and personally affected them. That is how a good campaign is run. Sadly all we are getting from Town Hall Labour is smug navel gazing that wont win a single vote.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Barnet Tories planning decimation of Barnets libraries

In 2010 ex Tory councillor Robert Rams embarked on a program of library closures. He lost his seat as a result in the 2014 elections. It seems councillorbReuben Thompstone has learned nothing and is going down the same route. It seems he wants to surpass Rams and shut six libraries including one in Mill Hill on my home patch. The lying local Tory bastards made a big play of not closing libraries in there election propaganda. Thompstone is about to find out what happens to the political careers of dishonest idiots who mislead the public.

As in 2010 the Tories mislead us in there manifesto about library closures. We collected 7,000 signatures then and end the career of Robert Rams. History is about to repeat itself.

I am sickened by the dishonesty of Thompstone and his Torry cronies a d their total duplicity with the electorate. They will pay for this with their seats as will local maps Matthew Offord and Mike Freer

Story on local paper here /

Monday, 20 October 2014

The incredible disappearing press release

So where did it go? We seek it here, we seek it there. After the Barnet Eye drew attention to a press release on Sunday highlighting the Barnet Councils problems with telephony (run for them by Capita PLC) We were shocked to find that the press release had mysteriously disappeared?

You may wonder who controls the Council website, where press releases that could be embarrassing to Capita mysteriously disappear from? It may or may not surprise you to learn that it's run by Capita! Funny that.

The Big Mill Hill Firework Party

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Barnet council phone lines fail again

What is going on at barnet council? Yet again there has been a breakdown of the council switchboard. There is a short press release on the council site - - although no details.
One of the main supposed benefits of the One Barnet Capita deal was better services than under  Barnet council in house Looks like that was yet another porkie, doesn't it?

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Saturday list #71 - 10 things tondo whilst delayed at an airport

I'm writing this from the business lounge at terminal 5 Heathrow. My flight is delayed for min 3 hours as the plane is broken. What does one do to while away the time?

1. Write a silly blog!
2. Take  a wrong turn and have to go through security checks again
3. Try and find a seat
4. Drink lots of beer
5. Text all your friends and read their amusing responses
6. Try and find a member of staff who knows what's going on (the BA app knew more)
7. Configure your new iPad
8. Try and find a football live stream
9. Try and avoid people asking if you know what is happening
10. Make full use of the business lounge services (too bad if you are cattle class)

Anyway off to try no. 8

Friday, 17 October 2014

Immigration - The difficult truths that UKIP won't face up to

Time and time again we are subjected to all manner of old cobblers being talked about immigration. What irrtates me beyond belief is the sheer ignorance of the subject displayed by so called pundits on TV. We have seen a huge surge in popularity of UKIP based on a supposed backlash against immigration. UKIP came into being as a party campaigning for the UK to leave the EU. It has morphed into an anti immigration party, as I suspect it sees this as a way to actually win support.

What is noticable is the things UKIP don't share with us on the subject. Let us start with a consideration of why people migrate to the UK. There are four reasons

1. To improve ones financial position
2. To escape persecution
3. To be with family
4. To be with a partner

Anyone residing in an EU country has free movement to the UK. From the rest of the world, there is a process, often circumvented. Generally people in the latter two categories will follow a legal process and generally will be able to live in the UK. Whilst we get rabid headlines about mock marriages etc, this is not a statistically significant number of people.

The second category is a difficult one for rabid anti immigrants. No one who has a heart wants to send anyone back to a country where they will be persecuted or put to death. Given the history of the UK in being involved in foreign countries, we have a moral responsibility to assist in these cases as well as a legal one by UN charter (which we helped to draw up). It is funny how the term Refugee is used referring to people fleeing ISIS to enter camps in Turkey, but when they come to the UK they become "asylum seekers", a far more ambiguous term. whilst I suspect that many UKIP supporters would not take a single refugee from anywhere, this is not a situation the nation as a whole takes. As soon as we come to terms with the individual cases where people are actually deported,w e often see a massive public reaction against uncaring civil servants enforcing rules in a rigid way, without compassion.

Then there is the first category. This is the one which people seem to have an issue with. People who simply want to live here to have a better standard of living. If they are from the EU, that is no problem at all. If they are from elsewhere, many travel illegally and often pay criminal gangs huge sums to get in. In short, they see the UK as provinding a better standard of living.

Now what is strange is that we demonising people for doiung exactly as we do. How many people do you know who have ever turned down a pay rise or complained when Tescos cut the price of beans. These things give us a better standard of living, but we seem to begrudge others the same thing. Often people who travel illegally are coming from extreme poverty. Often they risk all to get here. Many don't make it, losing their lives on the way. As there is no way in a modern, civilised liberal society to seal borders, no matter how hard we may desire it, there will always be illegal immigration whilst economic issues cause such wide disparity. In short the issue is that much of the third world is poverty stricken, whilst we never go hungry, thirsty or worry about civil unrest.

Anys ane person who analysises the situation should recognise that the key to stopping this illegal movement of people is to actually resolve the issues of inequality. No one moves to the UK for the weather. They move because they know they won't be hungry, thirsty or persecuted. What is UKIPs response? They wish to cut foreign aid, which will cause more misery in the third world. They want to pull the UK out of organisations that guarantee human rights, whcih can only mean that those who are less interested in human rights have free reign.

Then there is the fact that immigration is propping up the economy. UKIP say "immigrants are bad for the economy". Well you show me a tube line, train line or hospital in London, which is not kept running by immigrants. Show me a restaurant, major department store or bank. The birth rate amongst the indiginous population is falling and many are actually moving abroad. There are huge UK populations in places like Spain (many elderly). The UK is faced with an ageing population, who will care for us when we are old and decrepid. My father in law passed away a few years ago, All of his carers as he moved to a situation of full dependency were immigrants. We as a family valued their contribution.

If we go down the UKIP route, we'd be faced with a situation of permanent recession, no one to keep the economy running and no one to wipe our bums when we go senile. The situation is not perfect and there are huge pressures on housing, especially in the South East. That doesn't mean we can stop the world and get off. I happen to believe that we should have a national plan to decide where we want to be as a nation in 50 years. What new train lines, airports, hospitals, power stations will we need between now and then. We should make sure we protect the sites to ensure we can develop. I discussed this with a local Tory, who derided the suggestion, saying "who could know 50 years ago that we'd be in this mess, a plan would be out of date before it's written". I disagree. That is why we are seeing Thameslink 2000 delivered 18 years late. Crossrail delivered 30 years late. That is why we are at serious risk of power cuts if we have bad winters. That is why we are still arguing over a new runway at Heathrow. We have no plan at all. We don't have enough homes, schools or hospital beds.

None of this is the fault of immigrants. It is the fault of politicians who can't see beyond the end of their noses.

The Friday Joke - 17/10/2014

I know you've all been waiting all week for it, so here it is

Patient: Doctor, doctor. I've come out in spots like cherries on a cake. 

Doctor: Ah, you must have analogy.

Groan !!!!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Why Johnny Rotten is right and Russell Brand is wrong

A spat has broken out between Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon (AKA Johnny Rotten) and comedian Russel Brand. Brand has been pontificating on the subject of voting, saying its pointless. John Lydon has waded in calling Brand a "bumhole" for saying such a stupid thing. Lydon rightly says that there is not much of a choice between the parties, but there clearly is a difference. He says that if there wasn't millionaires wouldn't spend so much on parties such as UKIP and the Tories. He says that if you don't vote, you have no right to say anything and no right to expect change.

We agree.

Read more here

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Barnet - The council which doesn't employ anyone who understands local government law

So yesterday the council discussed the report by Clair Lloyd-Jones into governance. The jist of the report is that the Council doesn't actually employ anyone who understands the local government law. On Saturday I met with several Councillors in priavte to discuss the issue. Basically the Conservative administration has dug a huge hole and jumped down it. It has been done in the name of looney right wing ideology which deems employing anyone a sin.

There is nothing wrong with outsourcing, when done sensibly. This isn't. Sure by all means use external legal services if it can be shown to be more cost effective, but you need to keep a few senior staff on the payroll who are qualified as overseers. This is not rocket science. If you don't you have a failure in governance. The trouble now is that the council have created a mess and they seem to be unable to admit it to themselves.The leadership of Richard Cornelius and Dan Thomas, who championed this should resign. It would be sensible to appoint a safe pair of hands such as Brian Salinger to clean the mess up. He was around when the council was sensibly run and was leader. If the Tories are to have any chance of saving their reputation, it is clear what needs to be done and they need someone unsullied by this lunacy.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Barnet Council - Happy to help you run your business!

Today the Council posted the following press release -

Council to Host Business Expo

Council to Host Business Expo

Published Monday 13 October 2014
Barnet Council and Re, the council’s joint venture with Capita, will be hosting a Business Expo on 23 October. At the event, local businesses will be able to tell the council how services can be improved and find out how to become a supplier to the council. Visitors to the Expo will also be able to hear from other businesses such as Action Coach and Pro Actions on topics like accessing finance, preparing business plans and doing business with the council. 
The Barnet Business Expo will take place at the council’s offices at North London Business Park (Oakleigh Road South) from 9:30am to 2pm. As well as exhibitions and networking opportunities, there will be seminars and workshops repeated throughout the day, so that business representatives can attend at the times that suit them. 

The event is part of a wider effort from the council to consult on proposals to make Barnet the “best place in London to be a small business”. The final proposals will be considered by the council’s Assets, Regeneration and Growth Committee on 15 December.

Barnet’s reputation as a borough of entrepreneurs and small businesses was enhanced last year as figures show that there were more small business start-ups in the borough than any other outer-London borough (Office for National Statistics Business Demography, 2012).

To book a place at the Expo event, or to find out about sponsorship, please e-mail or visit

Chairman of Barnet Council’s Assets, Regeneration and Growth Committee, Councillor Dan Thomas, said: “I am delighted that the council is putting on this event and I am sure it will prove to be a worthwhile forum for local business leaders and decision makers to discuss how we can make our borough an even better place for business. 

“Barnet is already a borough of entrepreneurs with nine out of ten businesses in Barnet having ten or fewer employees. We want to explore what support the council can meaningfully give small businesses to grow in the borough.” 
There are many things I would like to tell the council about how they work with small business. I will however stick to a few pointers based on issues reported to the Barnet Eye.
1. Implement business friendly parking policies, such as restoring cash pay and display.
2. Conduct rates appeals in a timely fashion. There is no good reason why a local authority should sit on other peoples money.
3. Do not send Capita's Equita bailiffs into businesses to collect debts which are in the proces of being paid.

4. Cut red tape for small scale suppliers. One local business had to do a 56 risk assessment simply to replace filters at a local authority run school pond. 

5. Attend local events organised by the Federation of Small Business and other organisations. 

6.  Include  a "benefit to local economy" scoring in all contract awards big and small in Barnet. 

7. Stop wasting huge amounts of money on expensive consultants producing "High Street Regeneration schemes".

8. Protect sites that are used for business purposes and make it easier to amend the classification of business premesis, especially when there is strong local support. Give local people a say in change of use applications. 
9. Pay their bills to small business. The last dealings I had with Barnet Council, they refused to pay a £25 bill for a man with mental health  issues, who they had arranged to have "drum practice sessions" as part of his therapy. I was told that "the paperwork wasn't in order". To recover this money, would have cost me hours, so sadly I decided it wasn't cost justifiable. The end result is I don't do business with Barnet Council and one man with mental help issues couldn't carry on having drum practice. 

The council has a limited role to play in promotion of small business. I've been to plenty of  small business events organised by the council. Leaders listens business breakfasts and a couple of engagement with Capita meetings. It is always the same, fine words are said and nothing happens.  
As I say, I don't believe the conspiracy theories, but I do see the wastefulness. I speak to other people in other businesses and I see the pattern repeated. At recent business meetings, I've spoken to various people who tell me that Capita will make the Council more business like and business focussed. I am not so sure. I wish Councillor Dan Thomas well in his bid to improve things. I will not be attending. I have been to far too many such events and all have been a waste of time. Until fellow business owners tell me "Things are changing and the council is listening" what is the point. If the council want to prove they are listening, the secret is simple. Bring back coin operated pay and display and have 30 mins free parking in selected High Street parking bays. Every business I've spoken to agrees that this will help High Street regeneration and show the council is taking the issue seriously. 

And before you start saying anything, my business doesn't need High Street Parking, we have plenty on site. It is one of the reasons we are successful. On the first Monday of every month, there is a Federation of Small Business breakfast at Cafe Buzz in Finchley. This has been going for two years and apart from Michael Lassman, who organisese it, I am the only person to have attended every single event. I've met at least half a dozen very useful business contacts, including the website designer who has helped us generate a 60% increase in our business, and the photographer who has taken most of our publicity shots. It's not that I don't believe in such events, its just that I don't have any faith that the council will add any value until they show they are prepared to listen. 

It would be good to see Councillor Dan Thomas at Cafe Buzz on the first Monday of November. Maybe that would be a start.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Do Barnet Council want to grab your grannies house? Consultation on deferred care payments scheme

I was a tad disturbed to read a press release on the Councils website. It seems that they are consulting about a scheme to take peoples property as collateral against the cost of care.They have put the following press release on their website - -

Barnet Council is seeking the views of residents on proposals which would allow older people to defer the cost of their care.The proposals are part of changes the government is making through the introduction of the Care Act 2014 to the ways in which social care services are delivered nationally.

This Act requires all local authorities to offer a universal deferred payments scheme from April 2015.

The proposals will mean people may not need to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for the cost of their care. Under the scheme, people who need to move into residential care or a nursing home, and who meet nationally set eligibility criteria, will have the option to enter into a legal agreement with the council to defer or delay payments until some time in the future or until after the person passes away. Care costs would be paid for by the council and then be recovered once the property has been sold. Currently the Department of Health has set out draft guidance on how the universal deferred payment scheme will work.

Barnet Council has drafted its proposals for implementing the new scheme which takes into account Department of Health guidance.The council would like to hear residents’ views on these proposals.

The consultation runs until 21 October.

Further information on the proposals and the questionnaire can be found by visiting the engage website.

Alternatively residents can request a hard copy by phoning 020 8359 4666.

The council is also running a number of focus groups for community organisations which support people already using social care services or who may need to use them in the future.

Community organisations which would like to arrange a session should do so by email

Councillor Sachin Rajput, Chairman of the Adults and Safeguarding Committee, said: “This consultation is about important proposals for people who may need to move into residential care or a nursing home. 

“We are very keen to hear what people have to say about how these changes should be offered, and I would like to encourage as many people as possible to get in touch and tell us what they think.”

I am rather confused about these proposals. The full details are detailed here - -  it seems that the idea of the scheme is that the council take a charge on a property if one of the residents is to move into care. This will allow a spouse/relatives to continue living in the property. Whilst in the short term this will help relatives, what happenes when the relative in residential care passes away? At this point the debt becomes due and presumably the house is sold.

Section 17.5 explains the end game with this scheme
17.5 The deferred payment will automatically come to an end on a person’s death. The debt can either be paid from a person’s estate or by a third party, for example a family member may choose to settle the debt rather than sell the deceased’s property. If the agreement is terminated through a person’s death the total amount due becomes payable within 90 days after the person dies.
 What concerns me about this scheme is not the fact that peoples homes are used as collateral against debt run up through infirmity. It is not unreasonable for asset rich people to pay for their own care or even for the council to be able to recover the costs from their estate. What concerns me is the small print. The money is recoverable within 90 days of the death of the person in care. When my mother died it took nearly two years to resolve issues of probate and sell her property. It strikes me that 90 days is far too short a period to reasonably expect a family to complete a sale. As the debt is secured against a rising asset, surely a more reasonable period would be six months. As presumably other family members will have to find alternative living arrangements, they will have a lot on their plate.

Another thing which slightly worries me is that there seems to be some small print. I wonder how and who calculates the interest and legal charges. What really worries me is that in these days of Capita, where every "commercial opportunity" is exploited, will the interest and charges be fully transparanet and cleared up front, or will there be a "nasty hidden surprise".
17.3  On termination the full amount due (care charges, interest accrued, administrative and legal fees) will be paid to the Council. 
It is vital that in this situation all parties are 100% clear as to exactly what the costs will be.

It is vitally important that people who have been involved in this sort of issue give the benefit of their experience to the council.  Please fill in the consultation - Here are all the details

Sunday, 12 October 2014

The Tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet 12/10/2014

Here they are !

1. There could only be one tweet of the week in the LBB this week. The BBC for this effort celebrating Master Baker Richard Burrs attempt in the GBB final

Richard’s Showstopper is a mill and a hill as he’s from Mill Hill. Good job he’s not from Cockfosters…

2. Deputy Tory Leader attempts to put  a positive spin on the Tories hammering in Clacton on Thursday. Oh dear .....

3.  Seems like Finchley & Golders Green MP has more important things to do than make sure his residents council is well run according to Basil

4. Mr D Security is none too impressed with Barnet Councils idea of traffic enforcement

Oct 9
a barnet council traffic warden, giving a ticket while parked illegally !!

 5. Johnson Ogunniyi tells us that Deputy Mayor of Barnet visits the Love Burnt Oak centre

Mayor visits the centre in Burnt Oak Edgware. .

6. Paul Wellman is impressed with this property in Totteridge, with its own golf course !

Oct 10
Seriously cool. Just stumbled across a house in Totteridge on google maps with it's own private 5-hole golf course.

7. Mr Reasonable on Barnets latest scandal

Mr Mustard ( ): Monitoring Officer - Where did it all go wrong?

8. Mr Mustard reports on Barnets stupidist parking ticket

Yesterday's adjudications at PATAS include a Barnet one where the driver was in the midst of a 3 point turn. Bit of a desperate PCN, now £0

9. David Constable is worried about cuts to a local nursery budget 

Helen Michael retweeted
Massive funding cut to Barnet's 4 stand alone Nursery Schools will lead to redundancies, mergers & closures.

10. Michael Thorpe is supporting Mill Hill's MOBO nominated artist JVessel

Just voted for contender - Great to see local talent doing well

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Barnet Council in Chaos. When will the Leadership team resign? When will they Learn?

First please consider this tweet from the Barnet Conservatives quoting deputy Leader of the Council Dan Thomas

From this, you may well think that theDeputy Leader is crowing because his administration has done such a marvellous job and that people are coming from far and wide to study how Barnet have made themselves into the countries most admired council. It is true that people are coming from far and wide to Barnet. Sadly they are not coming to praise the Tories. Read this report on the Council website from Claer Lloyd-Jones, a legal adviser brought in to investigate the failure in governance that brought Barnet Council to a complete standstill earlier this year.

Here are the conclusions

Barnet Investigation Report

7. Conclusion
7.1 Barnet Council was ridiculed in the local press for finding itself in the
position of having misapplied the political proportionality rules and thereby
failing to keep member decision-making safe from challenge. The Chief
Executive was subsequently given advice that committees that were not
properly and lawfully constituted, an could not continue to meet and make
decisions prior to the next Council meeting on July 15 th. Leading Counsel’s
opinion was taken and he advised that although the political proportionality
rules had been misapplied, the committees could continue to meet and make
lawful decisions due to the savings provisions in theAct. Leading Counsel’s
opinion was preferred.

7.2 The facts leading up to these events demonstrate that there was no
clear protocol or process between Barnet Governance Team and HBPL for
providing legal clearance of council reports to ensure that they were correct.
In the case of both the political proportionality report and the members
allowances report, legal advice was asked for from HBPL. It was not forthcoming,
and the absence of legal advice in the reports was not escalated nor chased by Barnet Governance Team.

7.3 The risk of either of those reports being wrong was therefore high, given
that Barnet does not employ any lawyers itself,and the relevant governance
staff responsible for these reports are relatively inexperienced.

7.4 This high reputational risk to the council was multiplied by the change
to alternative political management arrangements, ie
a return to the Committee system. This risk was further aggravated by a
very close election result.

7.5 Mitigation of the risk would necessitate early consideration of the
legal principles, and close and careful attention being paid to the
compilation of reports, in draft, and when submitted to council for decision.
This would require at the very least, close collaboration between HBPL
and Barnet Governance Team. 

7.6 All parties involved were capable of spotting that something was wrong
with the reports, but no-one did. To those members involved, the perception
was that no-one was in charge.

7.7 I find that Barnet’s Governance Team were responsible for the reports
being sent to print in their incorrect form and subsequently voted on by
members at June 2nd Council meeting. Members were not advised that the reports
had no legal clearance, and the form of the report gave no indication
of whether the report had been cleared or not.

7.8 I also find that Barnet’s Governance team were jointly responsible with
the shared Legal Service, HBPL, for those reports going to print containing
misapplications of the correct law, and allowing members to vote on them as
though they were correct. Copies of the reports had been sent to HBPL at an
early stage. They gave no comments or advice. The Harrow MO attends
Barnet Council meetings in order to advise the Barnet MO and Chief

7.9 In order to prevent the risk of some other governance failing
attributable to the absence of legal advice or misapplication of legal advice, a
number of changes need to be made to both the IAA and to Barnet’s internal
governance arrangements.
So we have established two things immediately. The first is that Barnet is in a total mess and the second is that the Leadership of the Council is deluded. If Cllr Thomas had come out and said that there serious problems had been identified and that urgent action was being taken to address them and he was giving it grave consideration, then we'd say he had a grip on the situation. What did he tell the Barnet Times?
"No-one enjoyed the annual council meeting, but the committee system is up and running well. Barnet is one of the most efficient and effective councils in the country at dealing with the issues that matter most to residents and we have saved the taxpayer millions in the process."
There is no way that this statment can be squared with the findings of the report, because the second thing we've learned is that there has been a major failure of governance at the Council. Cllr Thomas talks about "saving the Taxpayer millions". This has been done by sacking experienced officers and outsourcing key departments. This outsourcing has been done in a highly ideological manner, driven by a hard right detestation of public services. Mr Thomas is a Tory fundamentalist who believes that the only way a council can save money is to put service provision into the hands of private contractors. All councils in the UK have similar budget challenges, but few have gone down the Easycouncil commissioning model of Barnet. Even right wing Tory councils elsewhere have realised that when you outsource, you lose control and there is inevitably a huge issue of governance and quality.

What we have seen in Barnet is a direct result of the Barnet Conservatives policy of decimating the Democratic Services and Legal team. Legal was outsourced to Harrow Council and a joint legal team established, under the control of Harrow. This has saved some money in the short term but the result is there for all to see. It has failed completely. It has failed to the extent that they've had to bring in Claer Lloyd-Jones to sort the mess out. Conclusion 7.8 could not be clearer in its damning criticism.

Ms Lloyd-Jones could not be clearer in explaining what Mr Thomas policy of outsourcing has meant "The risk of either of those reports being wrong was therefore high, given that Barnet does not employ any lawyers itself,and the relevant governance staff responsible for these reports are relatively inexperienced."

This is not the end of the issues that residents of Barnet will see as a result of the hard right, ideologically driven polices of the Barnet Tories. We are just at the very dawn of the nightmare that they have inflicted. For the benefit of anyone new to the blog and the chaos in Barnet, lets have a quick recap on just some of the cock ups that have occurred over the last few years as Barnet have failed to manage outsourced contracts and suppliers.

Aerodrome Bridge rebuilding project. Original estimate £12 million. Eventual cost £23 million (
Metpro Scandal. Security for vulnerable people outsourced to a company with no licence or accreditation, no proper Vat receipts, charging 30% above market rate (

Your Choice Barnet Ltd. Private company created by Barnet Council for adult social care. Flawed business plan required £1 million bale out within first year(

Catalyst Care home contract. Barnet Council outsourced care homes to Catalyst and got sued due to a guaranteed profit clause. Barnet lost case and had to ten million pounds ( At the same time there was a Legionalla outbreak at a home and also a tragic death of a resident. Barnet Council then renewed the contract after all these issues. 

SAP project costs rose from £2.5 million to £21 million (

And yet....... We have a Leadership team in an ivory tower claiming that Barnet is the best run Borough in Britain and they've "saved millions". All of these inconvenient truths are sadly forgotten by Cllr Thomas and his bos Cllr Cornelius. It is time they resign and allow someone who is vaguley in touch with reality and isn't driven only by ideological zeal to run the show. Next year there will be a general election. The architect of this mess was Mike Freer, who is now the MP for Finchley and Golders Green. He set up the One Barnet project and has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that the local Tories. His role cannot be forgotten in this mess. Any conversation about what has gone wrong must start with the root cause. I believe that politicians should be held to account for there mistakes and the whole One Barnet outsourcing programme is a huge mistake. Contrary to what Cllr Thomas says, it has cost not saved millions as can be demonstrated above.  It is high time that people were reminded of who started this sorry mess. The current crisis brought to mind this blog from 2009 ( ) where we discussed the likely effects of outsourcing the council.  Back then we said
"You would think they'd learn, wouldn't you? You'd think they'd realise that when you are dealing with complex legal issues, you need the best lawyers. Has Mike Freer learned?

Well today the following cabinet report was brought to my attention Appointment of Panel of Legal Advisors. The reason for this report (drawn up at huge expense)?

3.2 The service provided by the in-house Legal Service is in high demand to deliver on the Council’s priorities. Moving to the Council’s ‘Future Shape’ will involve additional and extensive legal input.
So there is a tacit admission that privatisation requires huge legal expenses."
Back in 2009 it was recognised that Outsourcing needed a robust legal team. It was recognised that if this role was cocked up, the result would be catastrophic for the people of Barnet.  Yet even though this expensive report was commissioned, the lessons were not learned.

This blog long ago ceased to believe that one party in Barnet was any better than another, but we do believe that there are some good councillors and some pretty useless ones. For the sake of the people of Barnet can't the good ones get together, acknowledge the council is in a total mess and then do something about it.

Friday, 10 October 2014

UKIP win in Clacton but is Nigel Farage just a middle class John Prescott

UKIP now have their first elected MP. Clearly for the party, this is a momentus moment, but what does it really mean. Based on last nights results, UKIP would have an outright majority in the House of Commons. The Tories would have been totally wiped out and Labour would be reduced to its very safest seats. This would mean that Westminster would have a government where only one of their number had actually served previously in Parliament. The Home secretary, the Foreign Secretary and the NHS would all be put in the hands of people with absolutely no experience and no exposure to the protools of Parliament. Wheras Cameron went into No 10 with some idea of who his team were and what their strengths were, Nigel Farage wouldn't have a clue how good or bad any of his team were and how they would perform.

Perhaps the most interesting thing would be to see how the Sir Humphreys of the Civil Service would deal with this new lot. The first thing one presumes UKIP would do is organise a referendum on UK membership of Europe. This would grab the headlines, but the things that really matter to people are how the NHS is run, how schools are run, how the railways are run and how the police and prison service are run. One can just see how this new team, who have no experience of dealing with Civil servants would fare. This morning I've heard commentator after commentator saying Nigel Farage is a one off. I disagree. To me he is simply a middle class John Prescott. Most people remember Prescott as a bumbling stooge of a deputy Prime Minister, the buffoon to who acted as a merkin whilst Tony Blair did the real dirty business of government. If Blair wanted to see how a policy would be received, he'd get Prescott to announce it. The press would go bonkers and rip it to shreds. Blair would then analyse the criticism, fine tune it and say "Well thats John, what we are really doing is this". He did this time and time again and won three elections as a result.

What is less well remembered is what a fantastic job Prescott did as shadow Transport secretary before the 1997 election. Prescott in opposition was a star performer. It is easy in opposition, you simply have to say what a rotten job the government is doing and everyone agrees with you. Being a plain speaking northerner, he was seen as a man of the people. Prescott would make a point of being pictured with a pint. When someone thumped him, he didn't cry, he just turned around and decked him. Whilst the politcal classes reeled in shock, Prescotts ratings went through the roof.

To me Farage is just the same, except he's middle class and I suspect lacks the street brawler heart of Prescott. In opposition, it is easy. He can say he'll ban HIV carrying immigrants and convicted murderers. He can say what he likes, but it doesn't matter. It is when it actually comes to having to go through Parliament that it all goes wrong. Take the issue of convicted murderers. Sounds great doesn't it? I can see the appeal. I do why he didn't choose peadophiles instead. You may think this is a strange comment, but anyone who knows about crime knows most murderers are not repeat offenders. I have a friend who is a convicted murderer. He is now in his 50's. When he was eight, his mother remarried. His stepfather abused him for years. When he was 23, his then ageing stepfather attacked him. My friend, for the first time, fought back and killed him. Under a Farage law, he'd be banned from living in the UK, even though his crime was a completely understandable one off. Anyone who is familiar with the statistics knows that the majority of murderers serve their time and don't offend again.

You see it's typical of Farage. He makes policy up on the hoof. I believe that like Prescott this is fine in opposition, where it really doesn't matter. In government, it is different. Take his announcement on HIV positive immigrants. HIV is a virus that is treatable. Most people in the UK with HIV are on medication and live normal lives. I for one cannot see why HIV is different from any other chronic condition. It his highly discriminatory. In terms of cost to the NHS, would Farage ban people with Multiple Sclerosis or motor nerone disease? Both are incurable, debilitating and expensive to treat? If the answer is no, then why choose HIV. I daresay that Farage will say because the disease is contracted by lifestyle. Again this is highly ignorant. How can you ban someone who contracted HIV through a blood transfusion or who is monogamous and infected by a promiscuous partner. Farage may say that it is because HIV is infectious and he's acting to protect the public. In this case, surely the ban should be on anyone with a life threatening transmittable disease. This means that you'd have to include Hepatitis, HP, influenza, mumps, measles etc.

What stuns me is the hypocisy. Farage makes a big deal of being seen drinking alcohol and smoking. These cost the NHS far more than HIV, but to Nige they are part of the image. Don't get me wrong, I drink too much but I don't go around pontificating about HIV. Why not ban smokers? Passive smoke kills people. Drinking tea in a room full of HIV carriers is perfectly safe, if you did the same for 30 years with a bunch of smokers, you'd significantly raise your chances of lung disease and cancer.

In short I think Farage is an ignorant buffoon. My only worry is that whilst Prescott had Blair to protect us from his buffonary, Farage is the top man. Who is his team? Well at the moment he has one MP. That man was a Tory MP who clearly wasn't up to higher office and quit his party in a fit of pique. I play football. I run a business. If I want to do well, I want team players. To me UKIP is filled with disaffected malcontents. What wasn't reported in Clacton is that there was also a Council election. The man originally selected to be the candidate in Clacton was a UKIP councillor. He quit in digust at his treatment. Farage didn't bother to tell him that he'd been replaced by Carswell. What does that tell you about Farage? To me it says that the man is not a leader and has no loyalty for his team. He dumps on his most loyal players if it suits him and hasn't even got the guts to do it face to face. I've had to give people difficult messages. You do it face to face and in a case like this the way is simple. You meet the man being replaced, you explain why it is vital for the party for Carswell to come in and you promise him the best seat you can get him elsewhere. You also praise him to the hilt for his contribution. Farage is not a leader so he clearly doesn't get it.

The Friday Joke - 10/10/14

I will never forget what my dear old Grandad said to me just before he kicked the bucket. He said, "Grandson... how far do you think I can kick this bucket?"

Have a lovely Friday !

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Barnet Council - The Zombie Council in action !

I hate to say "I told you so" but reading about the issues with the way Barnet have got rid of everyone who knows what their doing reminded me of my Zombie Council blog from 2008 -

We told them, they didn't listen so now we have stories like this

NNothing else to say really

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Water supplies restored in Mill Hill - Are we entitled to compensation

Many families in Edgware and Mill Hill had a nightmare day yesterday. We awoke to find that there was no water. For some of us this simply meant no shower or cup of tea, but for many it caused a massive problem. Schools closed down as toilets ran dry. For parents with young children this meant working arrangements were disrupted and other plans abandoned. This blog had over 1,000 hits from google searches of people trying to find out what was going on.

We posted a link to the affinity water site detailing the problem - - so that readers could keep up to date with regular updates. It seems the problem was finally fixed at 17.40, although low pressure and water discolouration persisted for a while. Here is the last update.

Water Supply Problems - N12 Finchley, WD6 Borehamwood, HA8 Harrow, NW7 Mill Hill, EN5 Enfield (click here for more info) - 06/10/2014

Update 17:40
Our technicians have now repaired the main and will now begin to recharge the network in the area. Pressure will gradually increase to normal throughout late afternoon and into the evening and supplies are now being restored in some areas.
When your supply is restored, you may notice some slight discolouration or cloudiness to the water. If you experience this, simply run your kitchen cold water tap until the water clears.
We would like to thank you for your patience whilst we carried out this essential repair.
Our technicians have now repaired the main and are working to restore your supply. Pressure will gradually increase to normal throughout late afternoon and into the evening.

Given the huge disruption and inconvenience caused, one would hope that Affinity water would give affected customers some sort of rebate. One has to presume that given that there wasn't  a huge meteorite strike on the water main affected, the problem was caused by them not maintaining their network properly. It seems strange to me that so large an area can be affected by a single broken pipe, you'd think that they'd build a degree of resilience into their network. We get charged through the nose for services and if we don't pay our bills, the companies are only too quick to cut us off or call in the bailiff;postID=7860141216468423494s. When they fail to deliver, surely we should be entitled to some sort of rebate. In our case we had to make an emergency trip to the shops to buy bottles of water, simply to have a cup of tea.

I will be emailing my MP as follows

I am writing with regards to the water supply issues in Mill Hill. Many families were inconvenienced. My daughter was unable to attend school at Mill Hill County High, disrupting her A Level studies. Whilst we all understand that such things happen from time to time, it strikes me that Affinity water had no adequate contingency plans. Surely bottled water should be delivered to affected households, to at least allow people to clean teeth and make a cup of tea? For many working and travel arrangements had to be changed as childcare issues needed addressing.

I believe that as Affinity water failed to provide a service, affected households are due a rebate on our water bills. Can I ask you as my MP to address this issue. If there is a mechanism for claiming compensation, please can you let me know and I will publicise it via my blog. FYI I had over 1,000 hits on the site yesterday from people doing google searches on “low water pressure in Mill Hill”. To me this indicated that Affinity water were doing a lousy job getting the message over. They should have done an emergency leaflet drop informing vulnerable people as to how to deal with the situation.
I suggest you do the same. For residents of the Hendon Borough email