Thursday, 31 March 2016

Stupidity and how we react to it

I love the British, in all our shapes and sizes, creeds and colours. What I like most is our sense of humour. We have stupid morons in our society, and it always difficult knowing how to deal with them. The best way is with a bit of humour. Sometimes we see something and are naturally outraged and disgusted. I've don it myself, overreacting, writing long, worthy, self righteous blogs and telling people in minute detail exactly why something that is clearly horrible, is clearly horrible. But how much more effective is a bit of humour and ridicule. So let's all try a bit harder to keep things in proportion and if something is idiotic, let's call it out as plain idiotic, rather than give moronic idiots the credibility they strive.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Some of our favourite images from the Barnet Eye Twitter

The Sky over Mill Hill during Storm Katie
Flower Lane in Spring Sunshineon Saturday

Chemtrails over Mill Hill

The next generation of library protestors last year

Wembley Way for the England Vs France game shortly after the Paris atrocities

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Why the EU has been good for my business and I will be voting to remain in EU

UK bands make a living touring in the EU
As regular readers will be aware, I run a business. The business I run is a music rehearsal and recording studio, with attached music instrument shop. So I thought I'd have a look at how #Brexit may affect my business.

1. Employment. We employ 12 people, mostly part time. Two of our employees are people who have taken advantage of the EU and the right to work anywhere. This has been hugely beneficial to us. Some of the people we employ need highy specialised skills and having access to staff from all over Europe is highly beneficial. As we have customers from all over the world who use our studios, it has also proven massively beneficial to have multi lingual staff. This week we had a band recording who were Portuguese and having a Portuguese speaker on the staff was a majr reason for them recording at our studios.

2. Suppliers. Many of our key suppliers are based in Europe. Companies such as Stagg and Pearl Drums are not based in the UK. If a #Brexit lead to tariffs or import duties, this would have a huge negative effect on sales of these items. Pearl Drums used to have a sales office in Milton Keynes, but moved to Europe. They are the drumkit of choice for our studios. I cannot see any cicumstances where we'd get a better deal from Pearl if the UK quit the EU, however there are plenty of scenarios where #Brexit may damage us. There is much talk that #Brexit will open up new markets to the UK, but Pearl is a Japanese company. The time difference means that they need a European office to trade. As Pearl concluded that the UK was too small a market to sustain an office, it seems to me that a #Brexit will have no upside.

3. Customers. I'd estimate that currently maybe 25-30% of our customers are from Eurpoean countries. The huge influx of young, talented people moving to London has allowed our business to grow and thrive. The indiginous UK population is ageing and without continued immigration many businesses will see their customer bases eroded. Immigration has always made London a melting pot for ideas and blending of musical ideas. The sector generates huge revenues for UK PLC. It seems that one of the reasons that many people support #Brexit is to stop immigration. I for one think this will be disasterous for our nation. The vast majority of immigrants come here to work and to contribute to the economy. It never ceases to amaze me that this is hardly ever mentioned.

4. Innovation. Our business needs to be innovative to thrive. Music needs to constantly reinvent itself. We need all manner of people to come together and create new ideas. I play in a band and have worked with musicians from all around the globe. It has brought huge benefits to our music and has helped our music stay current and interesting. Our bassplayer is Portuguese and having his imput has been a major reason why we have continued to progress as a creative unit. Music consists of 12 notes being played in different orders and at different tempos. What makes it interesting is when someone uses those notes and tempos in a  way we've not heard before. The more diverse our influrnces there greater the chance to make something different and exciting.  The UK is a hugely important source of inspiration for the world music scene. The free movement of people in the EU has massively enhanced this.

5. Regulations. One of the things I hear quoted at me time and time again is that if we pull  out of the EU, we'll have less regulation and business will thrive. I had a chat with a bloke from the #Brexit camp this week and I asked him to explain to me which EU regulations he'd abolish and how this would make my business thrive. Having started the conversation by telling me this was a huge benefit, he failed to name a single EU regulation that affects my business. I asked him whether it would be easier or harder for UK bands to tour the EU after a #Brexit. He couldn't answer that. At present, many of our customers make a living by playing gigs in small & medium sized venues in Europe. If this source of income was removed, many musicians would lose their livelihood. The regulations about freedom of movement and work in the EU are great for UK musicians.

Now of course every business and every sector is different. I can only write about the sector I know about. As someone who has spent my life making music and providing facilities for musicians, I see the huge benefits for our society every day. Every time you turn on the radio, turn on the TV, go into a shop, pub or restaurant, you hear music. We have some of the worlds finest musicians living and working in the UK. They don't come here for the weather, they come here because it is a vibrant place. I am sure there are other sectors and other industries where the considerations are different. But as far as I am concerned, a #Brexit would be very bad for the UK music industry, very bad for UK musicians, very bad for London studios and very bad for my business, my staff and my customers. That is why I support remain.

Monday, 28 March 2016

The Tweets of the Week in the London Borough of Barnet - 28/3/2016

Have you been wondering what our local twitterati are up to? Well here's the pick of this weeks tweeting.

1. Looks like the Harrow Police Station Easter party might be a good one! Only joking lads, I am sure the streets will be much safer in Burnt Oak with all of this safely locked up!

Large seizure of alcohol by HMRC during operation in Burnt Oak Broadway.

2. And it seems that Layla is rather taken with some of Burnt Oak's hidden treasures! A lovely little blog, well worth a read.

Uncover London, Part 6: Burnt Oak

3. To the other end of the Borough and a perhaps slighty more worrying tweet from the Evening Standard

Cigarette lighter shaped like grenade sparks bomb scare at Golders Green synagogue

4. An interesting tweet from one of our regulars

Worked out where this is? This development replaces sports field & older buildings of the Peel Centre, Colindale....

5. The Londonist have been to Mill Hill!

Get your trainers on and discover the beauties of Mill Hill with this walk

6. I rather like this tweet, good to see some local youngsters paying their respects to a true hero.

21 Coy cadets from Edgware, Finchley & Copthall School Detachments attend the Rev Mellish VC centenary commemoration 

7. Start 'em young! Seems like a great idea to get babies listening to jazz & getting involved in music making.

8. This sounds interesting...  I wonder if there have been any riots in London over library cuts?

Save the date 15 April Nick Dobson talk on historical London riots 6:30pm Chipping Barnet library

 9. A nice little Easter piccie for your enjoyment from Peter Walker

Mar 26
The Paschal Candle at St Mary's Church, Hendon, London, NW4 3RD  

10. And finally.... We had to get one in to mention the weather!

Dramatic skies over The Complex! 


All in all I think it's been a pretty good week for tweeting in our neck of the woods. Plenty of nice ones out there!
 Keep up the good work!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Easter 2016 - Fear of the future

Easter Sunday 2016. Easter is a traditionally a time of rebirth and hope, symbolised by Easter eggs. I have been struck by just how little hope there is at the moment. The world is going through an extremely turbulent time. At home and abroad their is fear and threat. The events in Brussels are yet another reminder that there are those in our midst who wish to destroy all of the freedoms we hold dear. In the USA it looks as if Donald Trump is likely to secure the Republican nomination. We have the EU referendum, which if we vote for #Brexit is a huge leap into the unknown. It is also likely to trigger a leadership contest in the Conservative Party, which will most likely see Boris as Prime Minister before the end of the year. Despite six years of austerity, public finances show no sign of improving, with cut after cut hitting the disabled, the sick and those on the fringes of society.

It also seems we haev given up on the future. My son recently applied for a place at a sixth form college. A letter from the college states "Although the college is state funded, we do aske for a financial contribution from parents. his is because we have received significant cuts in funding over the past few years, and there are further cuts due next year". Luckily I am in the position where this does not cause us difficulty, but for many parents who are less well off, this could be a major problem.

Today, as I always do, I attended Easter Sunday mass at the Sacred Heart church in Mill Hill. At the end of mass, Fr Noel gave us a solemn reminder that next Sunday there is a collection for the Colindale foodbank. He took the opportunity to remind us that many families rely on this to simply feed their children. The foodbank have requested Tinned fish (eg tuna/sardines), Tinned meat (corned beef, hot dogs, ham), dried rice, vegetable oil, long life milk, cereals, hot chocolate, coffee, tinned fruit, tinned vegetables. They have also asked for non food items  - washing powder, washing up liquid, soap, deodorant and toothpaste. They noted that they are well stocked with pasta. If you wish to help, please drop a contribution into the church. Please note, the church is purely the collection point in Mill Hill, contributions from all are welcome and it is simply delivered to Colindale.

The sad truth is that the UK is richer than its ever been in its history, but in the last six years, we've seen more people  needing foodbanks and more people sleeping rough than in living memory. It is shameful and a scandal. There is a saying in the bible, quoted by Lou Reed in Perfect day "You will reap just what you sow". We are sowing a sorry crop for the future. Unless we sort the inequality in our country and our world out, we really have a very bleak future. Please donate some food to Colindale Foodbank, it isn't much but its a start.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

The Saturday list #85 - The top ten Euro referendum songs

Just for fun, I thought I'd compile a list of anthems for the Euro Referendum. Feel free to add any I may have missed in the comments.

1. Bowie was a well known Europhile, recording some of his best work in Berlin and his greatest song "heroes" is about division in Europe. This would be a cracking song for the Remain campaign. Stay is surely a winner for them

2. And what Iconic track should front the #Brexit campaign. The first one that comes to mind is the fantastic Diana Ross with "I'm Coming Out"

3. I suppose that no Euro Referendum top ten in the weeks leading up to the Reffo could miss out The Final Countdown by Europe!

4. Of course many of us haven't made up our mind. I think there can only be one which sums this dilemma up. The Clash of course with "Should I Stay or Should I go". I guess we can summise that Mick Jones is swinging towards the #Brexit camp "If I go there will be trouble, An' if I stay it will be double" (only joking Mick).

5. The Animals had no such doubts. They know what they want, with "We gotta get out of this place"

6. Now you can't have a decent list without The Ramones. If the #Brexit brigade get their way, it will be a case of Here today, gone tomorrow!

7. Both sides will have you believe that this is the other mobs anthem! "Born to Lose" by the incomparable Heartbreakers

8.  Of course both sides will be hoping that they will be singing this Fleetwood Mac dittie on the morning after. It is of course Landslide

9.  The #Brexit Mob will have you believe that the EU has been doing this to the UK taxpayer for years!

10. Of course Neil Sedaka disagrees and thinks "Breaking up is Hard to Do"

Bonus Track!
I'm sure by the end of June, whatever the result we'll all agree with Captain Sensible that we're "Glad its all over"

Friday, 25 March 2016

Mill Hill Update from our local Assembly member Andrew Dismore


Dear Dr Offord,

It is a little while since my last ‘Mill Hill Special’ e- update, and as there has been quite a lot going
on ( as always in NW7 ), I thought I should write to bring you up to date, as this will be the last
chance to do so as we move into the London election campaign proper: I am standing again to be
your London Assembly member on 5th May.

Land next to Mill Hill cemetery: developers’ appeal As I hope you know, the original scheme for
the land- a mausoleum – was refused; as was the developers’ subsequent second application for
 access points, a maintenance building, internal roads and so on, for a more traditional cemetery.
 The developers have now appealed to the Planning Inspectorate. If, like me you objected to the
scheme, I would urge you to renew your previous objections, or indeed make new ones, by emailing All representations must be received by 13 April 2016. and must
quote the appeal reference: APP/N5090/W/16/3145010 I am working with local residents on this,
and expect I will submit a further objection, which I will publish on my website in due course.
Risk of Green Belt housing development While I am writing about a Green Belt site, under a
recent Government consultation, planning rules protecting the Green Belt are set to be weakened:
 ‘We consider that the current policy can hinder locally-led housing development and propose to
amend national planning policy so that neighbourhood plans can allocate appropriate small-scale
sites in the Green Belt specifically for starter homes, with neighbourhood areas having the
discretion to determine the scope of a small-scale site.’ (para 49) I believe that if this change
goes ahead, it will inevitably be the thin end of the wedge and would signal an end to the c
ountryside round areas like and Mill Hill .

Thameslink to be transferred to Transport for London - but not till 2021 I am sure you will
have heard of the Government decision to transfer control of suburban rail lines to TfL as part
of the Overground network, but questions remain as to why it will take until 2021 for Thameslink
to be moved over. Thameslink is the most unpopular railway line in the whole country and
I have been calling for such action for a number of years now, as the service has gone from
bad to worse. A survey of residents I conducted last year showed overwhelming support for
the plan. There was a golden opportunity to move Thameslink to TfL last year, when the f
ranchise came up for renewal, but the Government franchise was awarded to Govia- TfL
was not even allowed to bid. There must be a strong case to cancel the franchise due to such
poor performance and I am supporting the local residents’ petition to this effect: – “Remove t
he Thameslink franchise from Govia Thameslink now, not in 2021.” Click this link to see the
petition and start sharing it:

Thameslink Mill Hill station Thameslink are planning to close down their ticket offices, much
as the Mayor of London has been closing tube station ticket offices. They say staff will be more
visible on the station concourse and able provide information and be available to help passengers
with all aspects of their journey, including helping customers use ticket machines and selling
tickets from a station hosting point and from their own handheld devices. They say no ticket
offices will close immediately and they are now working with London Travel Watch and
Transport Focus to review feedback and share findings. We shall see! Ticket barriers are
also being introduced, apparently on the instruction of the Department for Transport as all
revenue goes direct to the DfT. Because Mill Hill Broadway is known for fare evasion as there
have been no barriers to date, the Government are putting the barriers in to protect their revenue.
It seems passenger comfort and safety are not a priority for them as this will exacerbate the
already massive congestion problems at the station, especially when passengers get off the
trains in the evening. There has been no progress to report over step free access.

Mill Hill East station I’ve regularly raised the need for an upgrade and especially step free
access at the tube station. At the last Mayor’s Question Time before we shut down for the
London elections, answering my question, the Mayor said: ‘There is already an identified
scheme and funding strategy in place for step free access at Mill Hill East. The release of this
third party funding is dictated by the Planning Consent for an adjacent residential development
 and the supporting Section 106 agreement, which will only release funds according to
development profitability thresholds. Discussions with the developer have indicated that
this profitability threshold could be achieved by the early 2020s.’

Clearly this is a very long time to wait to see if there are any excess profits from the Millbrook
Park development, which is the the third party funding source to which he refers. Last year,
the City Hall Regeneration Committee on which I sit investigated the Mayor’s designated ‘Areas
for Greater Intensification’, one of which is Mill Hill East, which we visited . In our report ,we
said areas selected as I.A.s must have adequate transport infrastructure, referring to Mill Hill East
as an example: The Mayor’s response was ‘I have not seen any evidence that the current level of
transport accessibility is holding back development ‘ Which was not really the question, as the
impact on the wider community was what we were concerned about.

Finchley Central station lift works 12 April until late May From 12 April until late May, TfL
will be undertaking maintenance work on the lift that serves the northbound Northern line
platforms, (Lift 2) with services to High Barnet and Mill Hill East. During this time, there
will be no step-free access to and from the northbound platforms. There will continue to
be step-free access to and from the southbound platforms. During the lift works, they are
advising customers who are starting their journey at Finchley Central to take bus 326 for
step-free services from West Finchley, Woodside Park and High Barnet. Customers
completing their journey at Finchley Central are advised to continue to High Barnet and
take a southbound train to Finchley Central. Of course, if you were relying on step free,
it wouldn’t help much when you get to Mill Hill East!

Train/bus coordination at Mill Hill East (or lack of it). Yet again, I raised with the Mayor
the unsatisfactory and unacceptable lack of train/bus coordination at Mill Hill East . Bus drivers
 are expected to keep an eye out for interchanging passengers at all times and where it is clear
 that passengers require the bus service they would be expected to accommodate them. The
 Mayor said: ‘On high frequency routes such as routes 240 and 221, passengers who have
just disembarked from the station are unlikely to need to wait very long for the next bus. A
long dwell time at this stop will impact on passengers already on that bus. Therefore drivers
are expected to use their discretion. However, I have asked TfL to raise this with the operator
again.’ Bus services more generally Hertfordshire County Council have cut £390,000 of funding
to Transport for London which helps run the 107, 142, 292 and 298 bus routes, on top of an
even bigger cut last year. I have been pressing the Mayor and TfL to say whether these routes
will see the funding picked up by TfL, to maintain these services. Neither the Mayor nor tfL have
been prepared to give a straight answer other than to say ‘TfL will review all the possible
options taking account of cross boundary travel and TfL's overall funding outlook.’ Any
proposed changes will be subject to consultation. I have also raised the need for improved
 public transport services for the future residents of Millbrook Park. At present, TfL say over 160
passengers per day use the route 382 service north of Mill Hill. TfL will continue to monitor
demand on this service, including liaising with Barnet Council over the progress of the Millbrook
Park development, to understand the scale of future demand in the area. I raised the location in
Flower Lane of the bus stop that had been moved in front of the church in October 2012, so as
 to enable developers’ construction work to take place. At the time it was expected that the stop
would be returned to its old site when the building works were completed. Due to the siting of a
service entrance to the new development this is now not possible and the bus stop will stay where
it is. TfL did agree, though, to install a new bus shelter.

Holders Hill Circus After much digging, I have now finally established that there are no plans
for new zebra crossings on Dollis Road or Devonshire Road at the roundabout junction as there
are no funds for them. We were originally led to believe that the Millbrook Park developer was to
pay for them out of ‘excess profits’ ( again) , but this is not the case. They were required to pay
for improvements to the existing crossings on Bittacy Hill and Holders Hill Road, but it looks like
the council forgot to include these new and needed ones as well.

Mill Hill Circus TfL is developing proposals at Mill Hill Circus to reduce congestion at the
junction, which plans seem to have been pretty bogged down. A transfer of land between
the London Borough of Barnet and TfL is required as part of the proposed road capacity
increase. To enable this, LB Barnet has now made a statutory declaration to the Land Registry
over a strip of untitled land. Subject to the land availability being confirmed, public consultation
is planned to take place in late 2016. Stirling Corner I have been pressing the case for further
improvements to Stirling Corner, especially for pedestrians. A design for a fully signalised
pedestrian facility across the A1 on the southern side of Stirling Corner roundabout is currently
being assessed through traffic modelling by TfL. Initial results indicate that the proposals will
not cause adverse impacts on the operation of the junction or the A1. Public consultation is
expected to take place in late 2016.

Mill Hill Broadway and Sound Absorbing Solar Panels The programme to provide Sound
Absorbing Solar Panels alongside the M40 at High Wycombe is making progress, so I asked
the Mayor if he would lobby the Highways Agency for similar devices along the section of
the M1 between Scratchwood Services & Fiveways Corner, because the motorway
closely dissects Mill Hill Town Centre, with a high effect on noise and air pollution. The Mayor
said he had asked TfL to check with Highways England whether it has any plans to implement
similar measures on the M1 between Scratchwood Services and Fiveways Corner and would
come back to me: he hasn’t so far!

Millbrook Park When the City Hall Regeneration Committee visited Millbrook Park, I for
one was very surprised about the slow pace of the development, with the current building
of 2100 homes taking from 2012 until 2026, which averages about 150 a year – and then
 with only 15% ‘affordable’ even under the Mayor and Government definition (which is
not actually affordable to most people in housing need). The developers said it was down
to the problem of finding sufficient skilled construction workers, but also let slip that there
were some grounds for us suspecting that the progress is slow as it keeps the prices of the
homes high. Such a slow build programme also means that those living near the development
 will have to wait for the necessary infrastructure changes ( such as at the tube station) to be
delivered, and suffer the construction traffic for far longer than they should. As the roads
within Millbrook Park are not being adopted by the council, it remains the responsibility of
the Management Company to installs a cycle lane on Inglis Way- though they show no signs
of being willing to do so. Barnet Council could have required them to do so if it was in the
original Masterplan- but it wasn’t.

Planning: site to the west of Northway and Fairway Primary School This scheme is the
council’s own plan for provide 120 residential units (Use Class C3) comprising 45 houses
(2-3 storeys) and two apartment blocks (3-4 storeys). I spoke at the Planning Committee
in support of my own objections and those of the Mill Hill Preservation Society, primarily
about traffic, parking, the loss of trees and hedgerows, design and the scale of the plan.
The Planning Committee approved the scheme despite objections.

Planning: Edgwarebury Golf Course application Whilst not strictly in Mill Hill, I know
that many Mill Hill residents were concerned about the implications of this scheme, to
build an exclusive golf course on Bury Farm. I attended and spoke against the application
at the Planning Committee, which for once I am pleased to say refused the application.

Planning : Hasmonean High School Hasmonean High School are looking to merge their two
sites onto one campus off Page Street. The plan is to sell the site of the Boys School on
Holders Hill Road and build a new combined school on Page Street, though I expect they
would have separate boys and girls schools within the campus. This does raise concerns
 over traffic in Page St. and has implications for Green Belt development, but no planning
application has yet been submitted.

Planning : Pentavia On the existing Pentavia retail park site, developers are planning a
scheme with up to 850 flats in buildings up to 12 storeys high. All the flats would be for
rent at open market rates and there is no provision for affordable homes. I consider this to
be a most undesirable scheme, involving the loss of retail and leisure uses on the site and
consequent loss of jobs. The location is not conducive to such a residential development
and would inevitably lead to an unstable community of short term renters. It would also
have an impact on rent levels nearby too. Whilst the planning application has yet to be
submitted, I anticipate submitting objections to it in due course.

I hope you have found this update of interest: if you have any questions please let me know.
 This will be my last ‘Mill Hill special’ this side of the London elections, where I hope to
be re-elected as your London Assembly member, to enable me to resume normal service.

Best wishes,

Andrew Dismore AM

Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden

The Friday Joke - 25/3/2016

I hope your day isn't too ruff!
The old ladies prayer

“Dear Lord, the past couple of years have been very tough for  me.  You’ve taken –

My favourite actor, Patrick Macnee

My favourite horror actor, Christopher Lee

My favourite comedian, Robin Williams

My favourite singers, Cilla Black, Joe Cocker and David Bowie

My favourite author, Tom Clancy

My favourite footballers, Georgie Best and Johan Cruyff

And finally, my favourite presenter Sir Terry Wogan.

So Lord, I just wanted you to know that my favourite politicians are David Cameron, George Osborne,  and that funny fella from America called Trump.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Why Small business owners should join the Federation of Small Business

As a small business owner, I am only too aware of just how hostile the climate is for those of us trying to run small businesses. In 2012, I tried to borrow money from RBS to fund an expansion of our studios. I was told that they were not interested. They said that we were not a good proposition, but if we sold our premises so Tescos could open a store there, they'd take a different view. Part of our expansion involved revamping our website and online booking system. I thought I'd just show you how this has gone (this is a chart printed from our booking system showing bookings since 2013, when we went live with the system).

As you can see, we've doubled our turnover since then (March is not complete yet hence slight dip). I had a look at the Tesco's share price for the same period
Now clearly Tesco's is a successful business, and this blog isn't having a go at them, but it is highlighting the fact that large companies  get preferential treatment from the banks, which cannot always be justified by the numbers.

The latest case of this discrimination is what is happening in Golders Hill Park. The Evening Standard highlighted the plight of the cafe there, which is having its lease terminated after decades.

Now I do understand that on paper, it is attractive for the City of London corporation to see a better return on its assets, but I think this is a very short termist view. Small businesses will stick with the business through thick and thin. When times are bad, business owners tighten their belts. Large chains will simply pull out and shut up shop to cut costs. Who knows what the future holds, but the current operators have a track record and a relationship with the locals. They have personality which enhances the area. I am sure the new chain coming in will do a good job, but it is sad that the rules always seem to work against the little guy.

I always hear the mantra that its progess. I think it is simply short termism and it isn't good for the community. I mentioned Tescos above. They had two investments in North Finchley recently. They opened a Harris and Hoole Cafe a couple of years ago. That was a coffee shop and Tescos had a change of heart and it has gone, as the business didn't work for their corporate plan. They also bought the lease of the Tally Ho Dscount store 18 months ago. The shop has lain empty and rotting since. Wheras the previous owners would have made it work and had to turn up, for Tescos it doesn't suit them to open it. This may work for Tesco's shareholders, but it doesn't work for the locals.

As a small business owner, I don't want special favours. I just want to be able to compete on an even footing with the big boys. Small businesses employ millions of people in the UK. Independent companies are innovative and add character. The one thing I would urge all small business owners to do is to join the Federation of Small Businesses, which campaigns for the sector. It was good to hear Matthew Jaffa from the FSB on BBC London this morning talking about the Golders Hill Park situation. As a memer of a campaigning organisation, it means we have a louder voice.

If you are interested in the FSB, the Barnet chapter meets on the first Monday of every month at Cafe Buzz in North Finchley at 8am. The next meeting is the 1st April. It is a friendly and informal session and a good opportunity to meet other people running businesses. I met the guy who wrote my firms website at this meeting  - - he did a great job and that is part of the reason my firm has doubled its turnover. This is just one way in which the the organisation has worked for me.