Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Today a plane crashed into the sea. A miracle happened. A young girl survived. It seems she was the only survivor. We should all celebrate tonight, however, just as one child is saved and will rihtly be front page news, many won't be so lucky. Let us cook a meal in their honour.
Here's a recipe that would seem suitable.
Find a public lavatory somewhere, don't flush the chain. Take three cupfulls of water from the toilet bowl. Collect a pile of sticks, make a fire and bring the water to the boil. Throw in a handful of rice. Boil until soft.
Sound's tasty doesn't it? Well half the children in the world will eat a similar meal tonight. They will use unsafe water to cook subsistence rations. Do you know how many children died in the world today, due to starvation, unsafe water and bad sanitation. 40,000. Consider it this way. A jumbo jet with an average load has 400 passengers on board. If you filled 100 jumbo jets with children every single day and crashed them into the sea, that would be the same number of dead kids.
25p will buy a child a meal for a day. A Marks and Spencers sandwich costs £2.50, that would feed 10 children for a day. One of our local politicians, Brian Coleman, ran up a £400 taxi bill attending a civic banquet. That would feed 1,600 children - 4 jumbo jet's full of children. I'm not going to give you any lectures about how you should donate some cash, that's up to you. I'm just telling you all of this so that you understand why the behaviour of some people makes me feel so sick.
Live from Westminster, it's the quiz of the week
A Mortgage on a second home (applause)
A House for Your Ducks (applause)
Free Swimming Pool Servicing (applause)
Free Moat Cleaning (applause)
A sit and ride Lawnmower (applause)
A Glittering toilet Seat (applause)
A Compost bin for your Garden (applause)
3 Inflatable sex dolls
3 Mucky Video Downloads
A packet of paperclips (Groans)
Just in case you've been in a coma for 3 months, these are not prizes in a fantastic new TV show. These are just a selection of "Expenses" that have been claimed by our MP's. I've tried to steer clear of this issue. I try to stick to local politics, but once in a while I see something which scares the hell out of me. That happened today.
The reason that I put up the above list is because (paper clips apart), it shows the complete contempt in which us, the smelly public are held by the political classes. Many politicians now want the taxpayer to fund political parties. That way they won't even have to pretend to try and keep us happy. I was looking at a rival blog today, one called "Local Democracy". As a rule, I've found that blogs with such names usually promote the opposite of what "it says on the tin". The title of this particular entry?
Should MPs and councillors take up cases on behalf of individuals?
I'll give you three guesses as to the answer?
So what does Mr Paul Evans - The author think they should do?
"I’d suggest that – if we were defining the role of an elected representative from scratch – based upon an understanding of representative government should work, that some protocol would have been established confirming that MPs don’t meet lobbyists except in open hearings, and that they should never do casework for constituents. Instead, they would make a point of meeting local lawyers – especially the local Citizens Advice Bureau – to discuss failings in the law."
So there you go - he thinks they should sit in nice cozy committee's with lawyers and shut out the public completely. I can honestly say, I've never read such a load of old tosh in my life. It seems that Mr Evans hails from Barnet. He will be in good company with our local Tories. Councillor Mike Freer makes a point of never responding to comments on Leader Listens unless they agree with him. Richard Cornelius won't visit sheltered housing scheme's because it "would be too upsetting" and his "emotions may cloud his judgement".
MP's have little enough to do already. Dealing with Constituents problems is one of the few useful things a backbencher does with his time. In my opinion, there are far too few "ordinary people" and too many lawyers in Parliament already. I'd introduce quotas for trades. Barristers learn advocacy, therefore have a natural advantage over bus drivers and nurses, but do they know as much about Transport or Health? Parliament should represent society and year by year this becomes less so. As for Councillors, what on earth does he think they do? The whole point is that they represent the people. I suppose he prefers the model of a certain Mr Coleman who shuttles around in a taxi at the taxpayers expense and "never answers questions about his expenses".
Looking at the Local Democracy blog really disturbed me. I've seen blogs of all shapes and sizes but this one looks very professionally put together. It has the feel of a "semi official" blog. I couldn't really figure out it's motivation or purpose. It's author's descriptions says :-
"Paul Evans is a local democracy practitioner with a long track-record of running e-democracy projects at a local level with a particular focus upon the promotion of local representative democracy."Rather strange then that he wants to completely exclude MP's & Councillors from engaging with the people who elect them. MP's and Councillors must never forget who they work for - US. Even though some act like it, they win elections, not raffles.
P.S. I just noticed that the blog in question does have a link to a Local Barnet Political blog at in the sidebar. Which one does Mr Evans like most? Mike Freer's Leader Listens? Explains it all really.
All sections of the public sector have to look creatively at how we spend every penny of tax payers moneyHis best Mate, Worshipful Mayor, Councillor for Totteridge, took him at his word (From Dave Hill's Guardian Column)
"Tory Councillor Brian Coleman, claimed nearly £400 from brigade funds to make a taxi journey across town to attend a glittering banquet hosted by the Lord Mayor."He certainly is being very creative, spending every penny of taxpayers money he can get his hands on !!!!!
Monday, 29 June 2009
Disastrous policies such as the Warden Cuts. Bad decisions such as Iceland and Aerodrome Road. Making Coleman Mayor, in a severe recession, when we all know he'll try and spend his way out of it on cabs with our money. Officers with tellies on their desks, junkets to the USA & Cannes. The list is endless.
The question my friend asked me? "Who do you think is really to blame?" Well firstly, it's not me. I didn't vote for them. What about all of the people who did vote Tory? Well actually they voted for a party lead by Brian Salinger, who was deposed by Freer shortly after he won the Election. How would you feel if David Cameron wins the next election and the next day all of his MP's dumped him and replaced him with a hard righter (or the bloke with the Duck House on expenses). That's what Barnet's Tories did. But did they? How many Barnet Tories actually voted against Salinger? Well there are 33 of them. A minimum of 17 and a maximum of 31, given that it's likely that Salinger & his wife had some confidence. Wikipedia says there are 329,000 people in Barnet. 31 at a maximum lumbered us with Freer. That is less than 0.001% of the population.
The people who put Freer in, the 17-31 Tories, not only cocked a snook at the electorate, they will soon be responsible for Corporate Manslaughter. Freer's keynote policy is abolition of the Sheltered housing wardens. Rather than have a local warden, who can pop in and keep an eye, they will get a "lifeline". This is a panic alarm. My mum had one. When she broke her hip, she wasn't wearing the button (it's on a necklace around the neck). She'd had a wash, taken it off and forgotten to put it back on. Luckily, I visited 45 minutes after her fall. The elderly often do things such as this. Highly paid consultants just don't understand this.
There is another scenario, they've not considered. What if the phone line breaks? Then the lifeline doesn't work. This happened to my mother twice in the last 5 years of her life. Then they will be completely alone and utterly exposed.
Then there is one last scenario, which the council haven't mentioned. Many of the residents, more than anywhere else in the country are of Jewish extraction. Sadly there are sick individuals who may see them as a soft target. A live in warden can keep an eye out for dodgy individuals. Who will be the eyes and ears when they are gone.
All of the above scenarios are easily predictable. If an on site warden prevents just one death that would have happened under the new system, Barnet is resposnible for Corporate Manslaughter. This is a criminal offence.
Mike Freer in his disgracefully misleading blog, suggests that the warden cuts mean a better care package for the 55,000 other people aged over 65 in Barnet. This is hogwash for the following reasons.
a) Many people over 65 are fit and active and require no care package at all - they are fit and healthy.
b) The council has a duty of care to provide this service already to anyone who needs it. Barnet already have to do this. If Freer is saying they are currently failing the vulnerable in Barnet after 7 years of Tory administration, he should admit it.
c) The money they've spent on Consultants to draw up reports on future shape, would have funded retention of the wardens and paid for a floating warden service.
d) Other budget savings have been identified, which would negate the need for cuts. The reason that these were dismissed out of hand is because they suggested cuts to allowances for Freer's mates on the Council, who staged the coup that elected him. Many council's have adopted an "allowance cap". Mike Freer is extremely popular with the 11 Tory Cabinet members as under his leadership, Barnet Council has lead the way in paying the maximum possible.
One other thing really disturbs me about the new plans for sheltered housing. The bloke drawing up the future shape scheme for Barnet Council is a chap called Max Wide. He works for BT and is on secondment to Barnet. My friends at the Council, tell me he has Mike Freer's ear. Is it any coincidence that the wardens are being replaced by a scheme which makes extensive use of telephones? BT paid for Mike Freer to participate in a Leadership Scheme called Vital Vision. Where is he leading us - to a land where people are replaced by called centres. Press 1 for a Heart attack, 2 for blocked Drains, 3 for a nutter burning your house down or hold for an operator who will be with you some time soon.
So yes, that's who I blame. Barnet's guilty elite, with their fat allowances and contempt for the electors of Barnet.
As Roger Daltrey of the who sang so famously "Hope I Die Before I Get Old". He's lucky, he doesn't live in Barnet !
He drew attention to a few Porkies Peter Mandleson has been telling and suggested that this may have a Pinnochio like effect on Mandies nose (for those of you unfamiliar with the story, Wiki it). Immediately his blog started getting comments accusing Dale of anti Semitism for making a remark about the size of Mandies hooter. I am not an Iain Dale fan, thought he's been a bit cowardly with his blogging of late, especially with the Ian Clement story. That said, to accuse him of such a charge is clearly nonsense. It's like me howling anti Irish racism if someone calls me a boozer, because the Irish are supposed to like their drink, or accusing them of racism if they compliment our families athletic prowess, because we had Black ancestry several generations ago. It is nonsense.
I despise political correctness. I sometimes wonder if The Life of Brian would be made to day with all of it's un PC clips. What do you think?
I remember a rather devout Catholic relation telling me that I should be ashamed of myself, going to see such blasphemy. I retorted that I wasn't a follower of Brian, so it didn't offend me at all.
Chris studied animation at Westminster University. He stayed at my house for the first year of his course and during this period he helped me out making props for a video of a band I used to manage. I hope that being in a creative household helped him in some way.
I remember one small piece of advice I gave him. He was complaining about having to write an essay, saying that he hated it. He said he just wanted to do animations. I asked him how many essays he had to write. He replied one per term. I said "That's nine in total, then you'll never have to write another one as long as you live. If you do them really well, you'll get a good degree and then a great job. Is one essay a term really that much?". I've no idea how much of that he took in, but he got a first. He's worked really hard to get where he has. I'm sure he'll go on to even greater things.
It's nice when your nearest and dearest do well.
Before you do anything which diminishes care for the elderly in Barnet, such as removing wardens - read this :-
The Corporate manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 - http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2007/pdf/ukpga_20070019_en.pdf
A few potted highlights to give food for thought
Corporate manslaughter and corporate homicide
1 The offence
(1) An organisation to which this section applies is guilty of an offence if the way in which its activities are managed or organised—
(a) causes a person’s death, and
(b) amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased.
So we're clear of what the offence is. Does it apply :-
(2) The organisations to which this section applies are—
(a) a corporation;
(b) a department or other body listed in Schedule 1;
(c) a police force;
(d) a partnership, or a trade union or employers' association, that is an employer
So what is meant by a duty of care :-
2 Meaning of “relevant duty of care”
(1) A “relevant duty of care”, in relation to an organisation, means any of the following duties owed by it under the law of negligence—
(a) a duty owed to its employees or to other persons working for the organisation or performing services for it;
(b) a duty owed as occupier of premises;
(c) a duty owed in connection with—
(i) the supply by the organisation of goods or services (whether for consideration or not),
(ii) the carrying on by the organisation of any construction or maintenance operations,
(iii) the carrying on by the organisation of any other activity on a commercial basis, or
(iv) the use or keeping by the organisation of any plant, vehicle or other thing;
(d) a duty owed to a person who, by reason of being a person within subsection (2), is someone for whose safety the organisation is responsible.
I'd suggest you read the whole document. If you are responsible for removing a warden and someone loses their life, as I understand it, this could apply to you. How would this look on your CV?
Sunday, 28 June 2009
5. To endorse the production of an organisational development strategy for achieving the
programmes outcomes. This will be brought to Cabinet in October 2009.
So we've spent £650,ooo on cosultants and they still haven't developed a stratagy.
Great. Mike Freer thinks this is money well spent -> http://committeepapers.barnet.gov.uk/democracy/reports/reportdetail.asp?ReportID=8265
I beg to differ, especially as they could have saved the sheltered housing wardens for less than this.
I am pleased to announce that Mike Freer, Leader of Barnet Council has won an Award. What's even stranger, you may think I will be presenting him this award in the company of our Worshipful Mayor, the Highly Worshipful Brian Coleman (Freer & Coleman are picture - Right). Mr Freer has won an award for his Leader Listens blog, which has been chosen as the "Best Local Government Blog" by the association of London Boroughs. I will be standing up to make a speech congratulating Mr Freer on his fine efforts.
Ok, I'll let you in on a secret. The above is only true in my head. When I got in at 3am after one of the most stressful days of my life, I thought I'd have a cheese sandwich, check my emails and have a cup of tea and my hundredth cigarette of the evening (I don't normally smoke). As I pondered a truly awful day, I then saw that Mike Freer had posted a new blog, justifying his truly horrible policy. I guzzled down my sandwich and then trudged off to bed. As I dozed off, I thought "Oh well, nothing else can go wrong". As I tossed and turned, I started having this awful nightmare. I was at Hendon Town hall. I had to present Mike Freer with an award. Brian Coleman was there in his full bling. They'd written a speech for me, praising Freer for being a great leader. You may think to yourself, why would Rog T ever do such a thing. Well in my nightmare scenario, they'd told me that my kids would be chucked out of their Barnet Schools if I didn't. A faceless Tory had informed me "We are in charge, we can do whatever we want".
Then I woke up. I was seething with anger. Then I realised that it was all a horrible figment of my imagination. Then I thought a bit more about it. If you look at the effects of the sheltered housing policy and realised that they really are a callous bunch. The policy is scaring old and vulnerable people just as badly as a threat to my kids to throw them out of school would scare me. They are as impotent in the face of this as I was in my dream.
There is a cabinet Meeting at Barnet on the 6th July. I sent Nick Musgrove at Barnet Council this question, which Mike Freer will be answering. The person you send these questions to is Nick Musgrove, who is the Council Officer responsible. I know Nick Musgrove, like me he's a good Catholic boy and goes to the same mass as me. I feel really sorry for the people who have to implement these awful policies. Why don't you come along and see what Mike Freer has to say. Here's my question :-
Mind you, I was oblivious to this. I was too busy trying to protect my sound system from the rain. Paul rigged up the house PA (a small vocals setup) whilst I broke down our big pa system. When eventually all of the main band arrived, they were rather put out at the arrangements. Being a 10 piece band, they were expecting a full sound system. Not only that but many of their friends were coming and they didn't have tickets.
Anyway we set up as best we could. The support band, "Recollection" kicked off the show. Despite all of the problems, they were superb. By the time they got to "Pretty Woman" the crowd were on their feet boogieing. Sean, the lead singer is a superb vocalist. The set was very well received.
Next up, the Bizarros. As expected, this was a challenge. The house PA wasn't suitable for such a band, we'd not had a soundcheck and they were not happy. After 3 numbers, we stopped. We had to, to get a quick mic check. We'd laid them out in a certain fashion & they'd been moved. Anyway, having gotten on top of the sound, we managed to improve it by the end of the first set. A quick break. I took it as an excuse to start smoking again. A couple of ciggies and a breath of fresh air did the trick. The second set was good. Everyone went home happy (except me).
Saturday, 27 June 2009
Thanks to Gerry Keene who did the sound and the rest of the festival team who made it possible. Dan, Jenny, Lucia, Brian, Clare, Paul, Pam, Lesley, Gerry, Andy, Sacha & anyone I've missed in my drunken, buzzin state. I've had a blast. We've got Party night tomorrow, so please come on down. If you want a more sedate night out come to the Wallace Ensemble at John Keble church.
Friday, 26 June 2009
1) If the boy is still gay following the exorcism, will the congregation of the Church be asking for their money back?
2) If the poor boy suffers trauma as a result of his experiences, will he be able to sue all of those who took part.
If exorcism really was the "cure for homosexuality", we'd be living in a very different world, believe me. You know, I was brought up to believe that God has a plan and he made us all the way we are for a reason. That is why I believe that prejudice and intolerance are wrong. I most certainly don't believe that exorcism is something where audience participation & you tube videos are acceptable.
Just saw the news that Michael Jackson has passed away. This is truly a shock. I loved the Jackson 5 when I was about 10 years old. You either liked the Osmonds or the Jackson 5. The Jacksons seemed cooler, hipper and the songs rocked. It is such a shame that he seemed to lose his hold on reality & that he never really seemed happy. There were lots of aspects of his life which were extremely disturbing. I am sure all sorts of revelations are likely to come out now and many a fast buck will be made. I wish that my memories of him were of that kid singing Rockin Robin of Top of the Pops.
I hope that wherever he is, he's at peace now.
For anyone tempted to push their children into showbiz, Michael Jackson is surely a cautionary tale.
Anyway, back to tonight. First stop St Vincents school to drop off a PA system and engineer - they are doing a production of the Boyfriend. Helped rig it up, then off to Mill Hill School for the tribute to Humphrey Lyttleton show, with BBC newsreader Brian Perkins comparing. As ever with these shows, time is tight. No soundcheck & a live mix which improved as the night went on. As ever with Jazz bands, they are always less than keen to engage with the sound guys in the way rock bands do. Over the years, I've learned to live with it, but I still don't get it ! Luckily the guys were good players. I always feel a bit peeved though, as with a bit of time spent up front, we could have got them a superb sound, rather than just a good sound. The secret of a good live mix for jazz is actually to back off, but also to ensure good projection. Generally I eq pretty flat & then just pull out any nasty rings or plug frequency gaps as we go. Must say Brian Perkins was most amusing. He has the same opinion of politicians as me.
The main thing is the punters enjoyed it. Yet again a good crowd.
On to tomorrow & a change for me. My band, the False Dots are playing at Mill Hill Sports Club on Graham Park Way. If you are not doing anything, drop by and say hi.
By the way, I saw a story in the Guardian that Brian Coleman spent £400 on a single taxi ride! That is more than we paid the band for our best attended gig of the festival so far. What do you think brought the people of Barnet more pleasure? Oh and before you ask, no Barnet Council did not subsidise the festival, it's entirely self funding. I just wish that all of this money that had been troughed by politicians of all parties, could have been put to better use. Expenses are things incurred doing your job. Scoffing banquets surely cannot be deemed as anything other than socialising. This isn't an anti Tory rant. I actually quite like some Tories. Former Barnet Tory Councillor & now Battersea PPC Jane Ellison founded the Mill Hill Music Festival (with Marion Dewing). She put countless hours in for free and used to get her hands dirty. I don't agree with her politics, but I'd have no hesitation in vouching for her honesty, integrity, hard work and community spirit. When she left Barnet & the Festival, she left a legacy to be proud of. If all of our politicians were like Jane, this blog would be about music, football and three legged dogs ! I'm not into criticising people for the sake of it, because we vote in a different manner. I am however, very into shining a light onto the shady practises which are destroying people's faith in our politicians. The sooner that those decent, honest people on both sides call time on all of this troughing the better. If they don't they will ultimately go down with the ship.
Thursday, 25 June 2009
The new speaker isn't elected by the next parliament, it's elected by this one. Why on earth shouldn't MP's vote for whoever they like? Conservatives are meant to be supporters of the nation's traditions and criticising Bercow before he's even started is ridiculous. The assertion that he'll be replaced with a more "sympathetic" figure if the Tories win, sounds rather like the behaviour of a dodgy junta in a banana republic. The criticism of Bercow isn't that he's usesless, it's that he's not "one of us". The Tories should be wary of settin such a dangerous precident.
If like me, you live in the London Borough of Barnet, you'll have plenty of experience of Tory administrations. Barnet Council is a complete basket case. Regular readers of this blo will be familiar with the waste and incompetence. We also have a Tory Mayor, Boris Johnson. Recent revelations have shown that whilst he's happy to draw fat salaries & appoint his mates into well paid jobs, even such basic tasks as checking a few receipts before signing ridiculous expense claims would be nice. As to national politics, Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers has been shown to be able to trough for Great Britain. How has David Cameron reacted? He hasn't, she's still front bench Transport spokesperson, despite a total aversion to getting the tube home like the rest of her constituents. All her protestations have been exposed by the revelation that Guildford MP, Anne Milton claimed nothing and lives quite happily on her salary. Which is nearer to Parliament, Guildford or Barnet.
From my little house in sunny Mill Hill, I can't see that the Tories have much to be arrogant about right now. I can't see much points swapping one bunch of useless trougheres for another. I suspect we may see a few rather perverse results at the next election. This may well derail the Tories.
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Cowards. That's what I hate more than anything. Most of the problems of Great Britain today could be solved if our leaders had a little bit of backbone and were prepared to take tough decisions. In less than a year's time, we have an election. What choice will we have? Gordon Brown or David Cameron. We know plenty about Gordon Brown, but what do we know about David Cameron and his Conservatives? Well the most powerful Conservative in the Country is Boris Johnson. I'd like to say I'm shocked about the revelations of the last few days, which have exposed his regime as being completely incompetent and useless. The trouble is I'm not. Even worse than that, I happen to know that David Cameron is not shocked either. David Cameron always saw a Boris candidacy as extremely risky, Cameron always knew that sooner or later Boris would show himself to be unfit for office. Cameron's plan was to hope that Boris would fail after the next general election. Boris was a risk worth taking at the time. When he was selected, Cameron thought he stood no chance of beating Livingstone, so he was happy to let Boris have a go. As Gordon Brown's credibility waned, Cameron suddenly realised that Boris may actually get in. He was lumbered with him and he knew it. All he could do was cross his fingers and hope.
Well Boris has been in for just over a year. He's lost 3 deputy mayors and one senior advisor. The saga surrounding the latest casualty is the most appalling scandal I can recall in British Politics. It's not the fact that a Middle aged man started an affair with a girl young enough to be his daughter that bothers me, good luck to him. It is the fact that Boris knew that Ian Clement was unfit to have a corporate credit card in August 2008. I run a successful company and if one of my employees showed themselves as unfit to have a credit card, I would sack them. It is all about trust. How can Boris have thought that Clement was unfit to have a credit card, but fit to be a Deputy Mayor. Not only that, but it seems that knowing he had form for this, Boris still signed his expenses off. He didn't bother to even check. Sir Simon Milton admitted this today. In most firms, if you break the rules, you will be put under the microscope. Your expenses get special attention. If Boris had believe this to be a mistake, he should have let Clement know in no uncertain terms that he'd personally check and would sack him if he found he was lying or he broke the rules again. Clements actions expose Boris as a weak leader with no credibility.
During the Mayoral Campaign, Boris promised a cleaner, more transparent regime. He promised an end to cronyism and he promised that all unnecessary waste would be rooted out. I thought I'd check the rest of his team. This is what I found. If you are a Tory, look away now.
Political Adviser to the Mayor
Prior to being appointed, Alex led the team that developed policy and produced the manifestos for Boris Johnson's Mayoral campaign. He has also previously worked at the Greater London Authority, working for Conservative members of the London Assembly, advising on political matters and transport policy.
Appointed: 22 September 2008 to the end of the Mayor’s term of office in 2012
Status: Mayoral appointment
Summary of role: To provide advice to the Mayor on issues relating to his manifesto and to act as principle liaison between the Mayors office and key contacts in London.
This is your money. Is this really the best way for Boris to be spending £77,063 per annum. Over his four year term, that is more than a quarter of a million pounds on someone to help him with his manifesto !!!!! If you don't believe me click here - http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/team/advisors.jsp
Lets examine a couple of his directors :-
Director of Housing
Richard Blakeway spent seven years working in the House of Commons, including for the Conservative Party's policy review and then as housing advisor to Boris Johnson during his Mayoral campaign. In 2004 he helped launch and edit the International Development Magazine circulated to over 100 countries. Richard is a Young Ambassador for the Samaritans and Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts. He is also a member of the Homes and Communities Agency's London Board.
Appointed: 22 September 2008 to the end of the Mayor's term of office in 2012
Status: Mayoral appointment
Summary of role: To lead the political, strategic and operational framework for the development of the Mayor's statutory housing strategy and other housing and homelessness policies to help deliver the Mayor's housing responsibilities and plans.
A former national journalist, Anthony Browne was Director of the leading think tank Policy Exchange, and has written reports on issues ranging from the NHS to housing, education, environment and welfare reform for several think tanks. Anthony has a degree in mathematics from Cambridge University. He is married with two children and lives in north London.
Appointed: 6 October 2008 to the end of the Mayor’s term of office in 2012
Status: Mayoral appointment
Summary of role: To provide policy advice to the Mayor, and to research and develop new policies for London.
Director of Communications
Guto spent more than a decade as a political correspondent for BBC News. He was also posted by the Corporation to Rome and New York. He has presented some of the flagship programmes on Radio 4 and left the BBC to become senior Policy Advisor consultant for Fleishman Hillard before joining the Mayor's team.
Appointed: 12 May 2008 to the end of the Mayor's term of office in 2012
Status: Mayoral appointment
Summary of role: To advise the Mayor on matters relating to media and communications and to lead and direct media and communications strategy and policy development to support the priorities and objectives of the Mayor and GLA.
There are a few more here, if you really wan't to check.
I don't know about you, but I ask myself, what value do these people add to London? We are paying a fortune in salaries, but what are these people delivering? Why did Boris pick them? If you were planning to solve the problems of London, would you pick a highly paid team of journalists?
If I was picking a director of Housing would I pick someone who's main claim to fame is
In 2004 he helped launch and edit the International Development Magazine circulated to over 100 countries.Which brings us back to David Cameron. He leads the Conservatives. He is trying to convince us that The Tories can fix all the problems Gordon Brown created. I ask you this. The evidence of what happens when the Tories get in is there. Boris is his flagship. Cameron knows that he has to keep quiet and hope that not too many people notice. This is why Cameron has said nothing about how Boris has dealt with it. That is why Tory bloggers such as Iain Dale have said nothing about Clement or his resignation.
It is because they are all too cowardly to admit that they campaigned for a man they knew was totally unsuitable for such an important job. Boris was elected fairly and squarely by London, so I accept that we have to put up with him. I can't accept that we have to pay for all his mates to lead the life of riley and I really think that if David Cameron is a proper leader he'll do something about it.
Busy evening. Stewart Curtis K-Groove at Quench Cafe. Dropped off PA gear, set up desk & did a rough Soundcheck, then back to studio for final False Dots rehearsal prior to gig on Friday at Mill Hill Sports Club. Connie sang superbly and I'm really looking forward to the gig. Back at 10pm to Quench for final couple of numbers.
I must say it was good to see one of our leading local politicians supporting the event. Former Council leader Brian Salinger arrived with a delegation of 17 people from France. I've not always seen eye to eye with Councillor Salinger, but it is always good to see staunch support for local events. His French friends certainly had a good time.
Gerry has done a fine job running the desk & the sound is superb. Then we break down the PA & lights and off home to bed.
Even managed to grab a bag of chips at 7pm, so I'm only tired, not hungry as well. My foot hurts where I dropped a speaker on it. I wonder if I've cracked a bone. That would be fun !
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Dear Rog T,
One of my Deputy Mayor's, Mr Ian Clement was in the process of arranging a banquet for my deputy mayors and other helpers and supporters, to celebrate a year of achievements for the Mayor and his wonderful team. He was in the process of researching suitable establishments with one of my rather lovely helpers, when a terrible mix up occurred regarding his expenses. It seems that rather like your good self, he's a touch dyslexic and sadly misspelt the name Claire Dowson on some paperwork. Sadly, he can't organise the doo, so I was wondering if, as you follow the eating habits of my team so closely, whether you could suggest a menu and a venue?
Mayor of London.
I would be most happy to help. Here is the menu :-
Red Herrings with Pork Pies
Toad in the Hole
Leeks with the essence of sour grape
Lashings of Waffle.
As to the venue. I believe that "The Case is Altered" is a pretty cool venue
P.S. Sadly I won't be able to make it, but give my regards to our beloved Council Leader Mike Freer and Mayor Brian Coleman. Please remind them to update their gifts and hospitality register. You really can get caught out if you make mistakes on your paperwork in public life. Especially with all of these awful, awful bloggers about !
A day off from the festival of sorts. No sound systems tonight & my beloved was doing a gig in Elstree with the BBC Elstree Concert Band. That went well but it meant I was babysitting. She got home at 10.30, so I shot up to the Angel & Crown to see the end of Alan Warner's show. I've known Al for 30 years. He's a great guitarist - he made his name in the 1960's with the Foundations and like me he still loves playing. He told me he's a great grandad now !
My band, the False Dots recorded our first demo at his studio, as did other local luminaries "The Polecats". They released theirs on Nervous records - "Rockabilly Guy". This got them signed to Mercury records. Funnily enough, I always wanted to get signed by Mercury as "Mercury Blues" by the Steve Miller bands was one of my favourite numbers.
Anyway, their set (what I caught of it) went from George Formby's "When I'm Cleaning Windows" to "Sweet Home Alabama". As ever with Al, it was a great show. Bought him a beer after and had a chit-chat. Three days in & the festival is going great.
Bizarrely in the car home, the news on the radio was that Mike Freer had brought down Boris Johnson's deputy Mayor Ian Clement. It seems Clement claimed for lunch with Freer and Freer said he'd not been there - he'd been at a funeral in Inverness ??? I'd say that it is good to hear that Mike Freer is refusing to collude if some fiddling of expenses has gone on. I'm steering clear of these issues this week, but it seems such a strange story that I had to comment. I believe these two attended the same BT Vital Vison junket in the USA at our expense. Seems a bit odd that Clement used Freer's name like this as these courses were meant to build social networks??? With mates like that ......
Anyway Tomorrow - Tuesday - we've got the Klezmer show at Mill Hill East Church with Stewart Curtis.
Also a quick reminder that if you want to say hello, come down to see my band, The False Dots, at the Mill Hill Sports Club on Friday Night.
Monday, 22 June 2009
So day 2 is over, this was our most full on day. 4 events, all totally different at 4 different venues. First up, a trip to the Three Hammers for the Fathers day Jazz Lunch. My involvement, dole out a few leaflets and talk to a few punters. A good crowd. The Ian Bramald Dixieland Jazz Band are a fairly self contained outfit. The gig was free to enter and rather popular with the local OAP's. The crowd enjoyed a pleasant day in the sun, listening to some good music. As ever with this gig, we always get a few compliments, from people who can't get out as much as they'd like. Half way through, I crossed the road, to help get Maiko Mori's piano recital going at Belmont School. A very different crowd of music lovers. I only caught the first couple of numbers, but she is a truly inspiring player. I feel I must say something here about one of our team, Lesley Evans, who's husband Richard has been in the news of late. Lesley runs the bars (Richard has in past years helped out). It wouldn't be right for me to say anything about the case here, but I asked Lesley how Richard was and we had a brief chat about the situation he finds himself in. I just cannot believe that the way his case has been covered by the press is right or fair. I don't subscribe to Richards brand of politics, but even if he is completely exhonourated, his name has been dragged through the mud. We have a tradition of innocence until proven guilty. If your name is plastered all over the press, your reputation trashed and your family traumatised, how can that be fair, if you have been found guilty of nothing? When the case has been heard and the verdict given, we can make our judgement, based on the evidence, until then, we should leave him alone. The story should be that he's been suspended full stop. I just feel very sorry for him, his wife and his children and hope that he is treated with a modicum of decency pending the outcome of the investigations.
The third concert was the Choral Evenson & the London Single reed clarinet orchestra. I missed this, but Mrs T tells me it was a great success. I then went over to The Adam & Eve pub to set up the rig for the good old boys. I was there from 3pm till Midnight. The band were awesome, a mix of great classic rock tracks from the 50's 60's & 70's. There was a good crowd. When Nick Semper, a former member of the Classic Deep Purple line up compliments you for getting a great sound, it all seems worth while. The rest of the band were pretty tasty players as well. When you have great players, who understand the dynamics of a live gig, being a sound guy is the most rewarding job in the world. It is a strange job because you know you've done a good job when no one notices you. I guess it makes dull blogging to say they are all nice guys and it went well. There you go.
Sunday, 21 June 2009
One of the things that you find when you do sound systems, especially at gigs such as the Mill Hill Music Festival, is that you have frantic periods of activity followed by long periods of boredom. The PA crew arrive first. They have the heaviest gear to set up. That all has to be in place before the band can start their setup. You work towards the soundcheck, which is probably (or should be) your most crucial time. When that's done, you don't have much to do (except possibly play a few CD's) until the band take the stage.
Professional soundguys don't get pissed on the job. Therefore you have plenty of time to contemplate life. Watching Elaine Delmar sing last night got me thinking about the way music has changed my life and the way I think. When you are in a band you develop a strong bond with the people you play with. You spend time in each others pockets so you can also develop an intense dislike (especially if you steal another band members partner!). One thing you quickly realise is that racial & religious intolerance is a completely ridiculous concept. If you are playing with a talented musician, you don't think she's Black or he's Jewish. You just feel honoured to share the moment with them. It is pretty much the same with sport. I remember one football team I played for recruited a fantastic black player, who transformed the team. One of the other team members privately told me that he "usually didn't like blacks, but ****** was ok". I asked him how many other black people he actually knew and perhaps unsurprisingly, he said none. Over the course of time, the two players became firm friends & developed a huge mutual respect. That is why sport and music are important. They unite us around our strengths. They break down barriers and we see people for their worth, not through our prejudice.
My company sponsors the Mill Hill Music Festival. I do it all for free, as does the rest of the committee. It takes a major chunk out of my life, for instance I'll hardly see my kids on fathers day. I see it as an investment in society. We had an excellent crowd last night. Many of the older customers tell us they love live music, but can't easily get up to town to see it. For some it is the highlight of the year. At the last festival, a couple of old ladies from the Drapers homes on Hammers Lane approached me at the Dixieland Jazz Lunch gig at the Three Hammers. This is a free event. They expressed their gratitude to us for organising it. They said that there wasn't much they could get to these days.
That's why we do it and that is the payback. Got to go, got a jazz lunch at the Hammers to help at, then it's down to the Adam and Eve for the Good Old Boys (featuring Alan Barratt, Nick Semper (ex Deep Purple), Pete Parks, Simon Bishop & Richard Hudson (the Strawbs), and a big PA to rig
Having 30 years worth of experience helps me a lot. The Quench Cafe is a challenging venue. A glass wall, a huge echo. Probably the worst accoustics for a 17 piece Jazz band to play to our target audience. The upside was a talented group of players and a great, highly experienced singer. I've done the sound for many Jazz bands and the challenge is always the same. It is the complete opposite of rock bands, who know that getting a good sound is your job. Jazz bands always think they are marvellous and don't need a sound guy.
As such, whilst rock bands treasure a sound check, some jazzers treat it with disdain. This isn't really a problem, as I understand the genre & the dynamics, it just means that often the first set is a bit of a "live soundcheck". Time and again we get the same comment "Why did the first set sound worse than the second" - Because you didn't do a proper sound check and we had to get the levels sorted out.
Luckily for me, my co-conspiritor Gerry Keane, knows the way I work. We made a few adjustments in the interval, repositioned a few microphones, when the beady eyes were looking the other way and hey presto - it all went swimmingly. Elaine Delmar is a great singer, so it was a pleasure to see her in action. The Double bass player and the drummer in the backing band "The Alan Ganley experience" were also very good. Personal highlight was Elaine's rendition of "Smoke gets in your eyes".
As with all gigs, the sound guys are the last to go home. I just made it into the Mill Hill Tandoori before they put the lights off. Chef had gone, but they gave me a pint. That was bliss. Onto the Good old Boys at the Adam and Eve tomorrow.
By the way, it was nice to say hello to the Barnet Eye readers who introduced themselves to me. Especially the guy who asked me three times which one was Rog T. After the third go at saying "That's me", he replied "Oh, you don't really look like I imagined". I replied "Oh, so you were expecting someone older, fatter and balder". He diplomatically responded "I don't really know what I was expecting.." Then he smiled and said "Keep it going, I really think that you are sayings thing which need saying".
As I was working I had to crack on. I really appreciate people saying hi, please just remember I'm working doing the sound at the gigs, so I can't chat too much, I reall hope I don't come across as rude, if you catch me when I'm really busy, I just have to focus on making the band sound great for the paying public.
Saturday, 20 June 2009
The full programme is here :- http://www.millhillmusicfest.co.uk/programme.htm
I won't be covering the usual topics at all as I need to focus on the festival. Normal service will be resumed on Monday week. If you want to know how to run a festival keep reading, if you've no interest in the festival, come back on Monday week !
Here's the program for the week
SATURDAYDAY 20 JUNE
ALLAN GANLEY JAZZ LEGACY
with special guest Elaine Delmar
Quench Cafe, Salcombe Gardens, Mill Hill, London, NW7 2NT
Opening this year’s Festival is the seventeen-piece all-star big band directed by Andy Panayi with international star vocalist, Elaine Delmar. The band will present an evening of the late Allan Ganley’s arrangements and compositions to celebrate his immense talent. Allan, a musician for all seasons, performed as a drummer at the Festival a number of times, including concerts with American jazzmen Harry Allen and Warren Vaché, as well as at our own Mill Hill Jazz Club. He was a long-time associate of Sir John Dankworth, playing in his first big band and latterly in the Dankworth Quintet, often with Cleo Laine, until his untimely death last year. Allan won the British Jazz Awards on many occasions and pianists and singers alike appreciated his talent as an accompanist, including local singer Elaine for whom he wrote a number of arrangements and played on many of her recordings. A newly recorded album, June Time, by the band will be available, and the profits from the sales will go to the Allan Ganley Bursary Fund to sponsor a different under-privileged young musician to attend The National Youth Music Camp each year. Certain to be a sensational evening for lovers of quality music played and sung by the best.
Trumpets: Henry Lowther, Martin Shaw, Tony Fisher, Derek Watkins(tbc)
Trombones: Mark Nightingale, Gordon Campbell, Cliff Hardie, Bill Geldard
Saxes: Andy Mackintosh, Julian Siegal, Vic Ash, Alan Barnes, Roy Willcox
Piano: John Pearce
Bass: Malcolm Creese
Drums: Ian Thomas
Vocals: Elaine Delmar
MD: Andy Panayi
Tickets: £20. Cash bar. Doors open at 7.30pm.
TICKETS FOR ALLAN GANLEY CAN BE PURCHASED ON THE DOOR ONLY.
for more information call Daniel on 07946 640 799
SUNDAY 21 JUNE
FATHER’S DAY JAZZ LUNCH AT THE THREE HAMMERS
The Three Hammers Pub, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, NW7 4EA
Come and join us for a spot of lunch as The Three Hammers plays host to the Ian Brameld Dixieland Jazz Band. Playing from a repertoire of unforgettable classics, the Dixieland Jazz Band recreates the golden age of jazz bringing a little Mardi Gras to Mill Hill. Get in early for lunch!
Food served. Free entry.
SUNDAY 21 JUNE
PIANO RECITAL Maiko Mori
The Chapel, Belmont School, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, NW7 4ED
Some of you may remember Maiko Mori’s wonderful Festival performance in 2005, so it is a great pleasure to welcome her back this year. Maiko began her piano and composition studies at the age of five at the Yamaha School with Reiko Amai. Maiko was announced as the first prize winner in the 23rd Robert William and Florence Amy Brant International Piano Competition in England in 2002. She made her orchestral debut in the UK with the RCM Symphony Orchestra conducted by Vasily Petrenko and quickly went on to debut internationally with the Bombay Chamber Orchestra in Mumbai, India. Maiko will play pieces from Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt.
Tickets: £10 (£8) including a glass of wine/soft drink.
SUNDAY 21 JUNE
CHORAL EVENSONG AT ST PAUL’S
PLUS THE LONDON SINGLE REEDS
St Paul’s Church, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, NW7 1QU
The recently renovated church of St Paul’s is tonight’s venue for a delightful Evensong, featuring the renowned O for the wings of a dove from Mendelssohn’s choral masterpiece, Hear my prayer and other choral favourites. After some light refreshments, you are invited to stay on to listen to the London Single Reeds who charmed audiences with their woodwind arrangements at the last Festival. The programme will consist of short pieces ranging from classical to jazz. The group likes to interact with the audience and will introduce the various pieces and give brief demonstrations of the individual instruments.
SUNDAY 21 JUNE
'LATER' AT THE ADAM & EVE
GARDEN PARTY WITH THE GOOD OLD BOYS
The Adam & Eve Pub, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, NW7 1RL
From 8.00pm. The band recently sold out at Mill Hill Jazz Club as a Saturday night special. Bringing us the very best of 50’s and 60’s rock & roll and some rhythm & blues it’s time to party in the garden, and these stalwarts of rock really know how to party! The band features Alan Barratt (ex Jo-Jo Gunne, Cliff Bennett); Nick Simper (ex Deep Purple); Pete Parks (Rick Wakeman, BB King); Simon Bishop (ex Renaissance, The Monks) and Richard Hudson of The Strawbs.
MONDAY 22 JUNE
A PASSION FOR OPERA
The Large, Mill Hill School, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, NW7 1QS
It has become somewhat of a tradition to have opera as part of the Music Festival programme. This year we are very excited to present this extremely talented quartet of up-and-coming professional singers. Whether you shiver to the low snarl of the baritone, swoon to the arching high notes of the tenor, thrill to unrestrained mezzo madness, or melt at the sweet sound of the sighing soprano, there is something here for everyone to enjoy. Centred around the unmatched operatic music of Verdi, with its unmistakeable melodies and high drama, the evening will be presented by mezzo-soprano Katherine Marriott (pictured). Katherine recently sang Ulrica (Un ballo in maschera) at Guildford Opera. Three more glorious voices join her to make this an evening of opera not to miss.
Tickets: £10. Cash Bar.
MONDAY 22 JUNE
'LATER' AT THE ANGEL AND CROWN
THE WARNER MANDELL BAND
Angel & Crown Pub, Bittacy Hill, Mill Hill, NW7 1BJ
From 8.30pm. An evening of good ol’ fashioned yee-ha at this newly refurbished public house! Our great band has two of our favourite front men, in the shape of Alan Warner (The Foundations) and Derek Mandell (The 60’s All Stars). It’s gonna be some down-home, bottleneck, rockin’, Southern fried country blues! So our hosts will be complementing the style of music with a special all American BBQ menu.
TUESDAY 23 JUNE
STEWART CURTIS’ K-GROOVE
Quench Cafe, Salcombe Gardens, Mill Hill, NW7 2NT
Winners of the 2007 Jewish Chronicle’s Klezmer Idol, Stewart Curtis’ K-Groove brings us an evening of jazz and Klezmer with Latin undertones. The band features Stewart Curtis - saxes, clarinet, flute, piccolo; Paul Jayasinha - trumpet, flugelhorn and percussion; Rob Terry - keyboard; Brad Lang - bass; Hans Ferrao - drums. Stewart and the band have worked with a variety of stars including Nina Simone, Whitney Houston and Michael Ball. K-Groove is firmly established as one of the UK’s finest and most infectious Klezmer crossover bands.
Tickets: £10. Cash bar.
WEDNESDAY 24 JUNE
'LATER' AT THE MILL HILL SPORTS CLUB
HERE COME THE GIRLS
Mill Hill Sports Club, Grahame Park Way, NW7 2AL
From 8.30pm. Wednesday night’s Mill Hill Jazz Club brings us Here Come The Girls. The band is made up of some of the finest professional musicians on the circuit, so you can guarantee that this will be a fantastic night of musical entertainment with a mix of classic swing jazz standards combined with some soulful arrangements. Hilary Cameron on piano and vocals (has worked with The Steve Taylor Big Band); Clare Hirst on saxophone (David Bowie, The Communards, Mica Paris, Maxi Priest, The Bellestars); Julie Walkington on bass (Gillad Atzmon, Anita Wardell, Jim Mullen, Claire Martin) and Michele Drees on percussion and vocals (Marc Almond, Seal, KD Lang, Kirsty MacColl, Susanne Vega). The ladies will be joined by some special guests throughout the evening.
Tickets: £5 Jazz Club Members (£8 Non-Members) on the door only at Mill Hill Jazz Club
Over 18s Only. Cash bar. Seating limited.
THURSDAY 25 JUNE
THE HUMPHREY LYTTELTON BAND
WITH BRIAN PERKINS
The Large, Mill Hill School, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, NW7 1QS
The concert will celebrate the man and his music. It will be performed by his last regular band with a special guest trumpet player, Tony Fisher. 'Humph' was a patron of the Mill Hill Music Festival and this evening’s performance is the Festival’s way of remembering his support with affection. A wonderful evening of jazz from one of the foremost British jazz bands will feature the music associated with Humph during his years as a leader and include many of his favourites. It will be compered, complete with anecdotes in true Lyttelton tradition, by the well known newsreader and broadcaster Brian Perkins. The band comprises Jimmy Hastings and Robert Fowler, reeds; Ray Wordsworth, trombone; Ted Beament, piano; John Rees Jones, bass; and Adrian MacIntosh, drums.
Tickets: £20. Cash bar.
FRIDAY 26 JUNE
Quench Cafe, Salcombe Gardens,Mill Hill, NW7 2EJ
The Sue Nieto Theatre School presents an evening of song, dance and drama, performed by students and ex-students of the school. Everything from musical theatre to hip-hop will provide an entertaining evening for all ages. The students have performed at the Royal Albert Hall, Her Majesty’s and, in November 2008, at a star-studded charity show for Breakthough at the Savoy Theatre in the West-End. In October 2006 the senior troupe won the “Producer’s Prize” in a prestigious dance competition at Sadlers Wells.
Tickets: £6. Cash Bar.
FRIDAY 26 JUNE
'LATER' AT THE MILL HILL SPORTS CLUB
Mill Hill Sports Club, Grahame Park Way, NW7 2AL
From 8.00pm. The False Dots host our indie and rock night (featuring Roger Tichborne, one of the Festival’s organisers, on guitar). We will also have some great rock sounds from The Tigers of Rushmore featuring the superb Lauren Barry on vocals. With special guests joining the bands its sure to be another great evening of live music.
Tickets: £5 (£6 on the door) Over 18s only.
Mill Hill Music Complex is kindly sponsoring this evening’s events.
SATURDAY 27 JUNE
Doors open 6.00pm, music from 7.00pm
featuring THE BIZZARROS
Mill Hill Sports Club, Grahame Park Way, NW7 2AL
Doors open 6.00pm, music from 7.00pm. The evening is kicked off by the fantastic 5-piece band, Recollection, with another of our Festival organisers, Gerry Keane, on guitar. The band play material from several eras and cover different styles of rock and pop. Our main act of the evening is The Bizzarros, a fantastic 10-piece kicking soul - rhythm & blues - rock band who always get the joint jumpin’. Members of the band have played with: Fleetwood Mac, Aretha Franklin, Jools Holland, Paul Kossoff, and Talk Talk?to name but a few! The electrifying, young front man on vocals is aspiring actor Dan Rosen. Also in the band is world champion blues harp player, Jim Darby, sax man Tony Ardin from Bad Manners and lead guitarist Dave Howman who wrote and produced musically for Showaddywaddy and Monty Python. You’ll be caught up with the infectious power of this hard hitting, brassy little big band from the first note. “Imagine Santana meets Jools Holland...a band that brings the roof down and a must see...” - The Gig Guide January 2008.
Tickets: £6 (£8 on the door). Over 18s only. Cash Bar.
SATURDAY 27 JUNE
FESTIVAL CLOSING CONCERT
The WALLACE ENSEMBLE
St. Michael & All Angels Church, Flower Lane, Mill Hill, NW7 2JA
A programme of favourite classics for string orchestra, alongside Pergolesi’s much-loved work, Stabat Mater, the evocative eighteenth-century masterpiece for orchestra and soprano/mezzo-soprano soloists. Performed by The Wallace Ensemble, a young, professional chamber orchestra comprising former Trinity College of Music students, conducted by Benjamin Wolf. The programme includes the Minuet from Boccherini’s quintet, Mozart’s engaging divertimento in D-major, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.3, as well as Samuel Barber’s hypnotic Adagio. The Wallace Ensemble has performed at many of London’s principal concert venues, including the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, St John’s, Smith Square, St James’ Church, Piccadilly, and locally at the Arts Depot in Finchley. Do join us for this now traditional night of sumptuous music and sparkling wine that brings the Festival to its formal close.
Tickets: £12 including a glass of sparkling wine.
Friday, 19 June 2009
Many residents of sheltered housing are scared, they are stressed. Anyone with experience of the elderly will realise that this could kill them. Once the residential wardens are gone, what then? I am sorry to have to point out that in our society today, there are sick fanatics who may just see the elderly, vulnerable Jewish communities as a soft target. If they know that the wardens have gone, ask yourself this? Are they more or less likely to target these poor frail people.
Every senior citizen in Barnet deserves safety and security. I'm a Roman Catholic, but I can see many reasons why the Jewish elderly cannot be abandoned by a callous, uncaring council. If Israel was under threat, the Jewish community of Barnet would rise up as one. I am asking this question. Surely the elderly of Barnet are just as worthy and deserving of your support? The present Jewish community of Barnet is settled, prosperous and safe. They owe it to their elders to afford them a happy old age. The Jewish Chronicle has covered the story, but we need you to bring direct pressure onto your Tory Councillors and the PPC for Finchley and Golders Green, Mike Freer
Thursday, 18 June 2009
The various reports about the Future Shape scheme to privatise the council detail a figure of £650,000 being spent on consultants to draw up reports. As if this wasn't bad enough, they are paying for them by sacking wardens for the Borough's Sheltered housing (saving £450,000). In short, the council are cutting back on poorly paid front line staff, who's focus is helping the vulnerable to pay for expensive outsiders to draw up management reports. How much do we pay these "consultants". I've really no idea, but former Tory Councillor Richard Weider sneered when I suggested £1,000 a day in the car park of Broadfields school at a Hendon Residents Forum meeting "You're out of touch, it's much more than that".
I have a few friends who work for some of the big consultancy firms. One of them told me a rather interesting story about his first assignment. At the time, the consultants were getting into IT and had recruited him from a large, bureaucratic organisation, where he was a technical guru. For his first assignment he was told he was being sent for a month to a large customer who were having performance problems with their IT systems. He was told that his brief was to produce a report detailing performance enhancements. He was told to look for "other business opportunities" for the firm. He turned up and the IT mangaer detailed the problem. My friend listened and then explained that he'd seen exactly the same problems at his previous employers. He said that a simple adjustment to the Cache memory would immediately fix the problems completely. The IT manager was impressed. My friend explained that the change could be done in flight (ie immediately). The IT manager was even more impressed. He said that he would get an administrator password and they could see if it worked. Within 1/2 an hour all of the problems had been cured. Users who had been pressing a button and waiting five minutes, suddenly got an instant response. The IT manager took my friend for a celebratory beer & lunch. He informed him that he inform his boss that he'd done a fantastic job, in a tenth of the anticipated time. The IT manager said he'd recommend my friend for a bonus.
Next day, my friend turned up back at his own office. What greeted him rather shocked him. His manager and a director called him into an office. Once the door shut, the director started swearing at him "are you a F******* imbecile, are you a moron, I'll tell you what you are, you are C***". My friend reeled back. He said "You asked me to sort the problems out, I did. What did they say". The director spat back "You are a C***. You just don't get it, do you?" My friend enquired what he'd done wrong. The director said in an extremely patronising fashion "OK, I'll spell it out, as you seem to thick to grasp it for yourself. We sent you there for two weeks. That means two weeks income for the firm. You stayed one day. We asked you to look for other business opportunities. You fixed all of the problems, so no more work, all the doors shut". My friend said "But it was a simple problem, what was I supposed to do?". At this, another tirade followed, the director then said "You had two weeks. You should have suggested a partial fix. They would have seen an improvement and been impressed. We could have got another month's revenue out of them. Your job is to generate revenue, not fix things". My friend decided that the job was not for him after that.
I've no idea how typical that is, but I can assure you I've heard many similar tales, if not quite that bad. The mantra Barnet Council Leader Mike Freer repeats every time he has to justify the cuts to the warden service is "We can't carry on doing things the way we used to. We have to change" I prefer the mantra "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".
I can give you three famous examples of businesses that made pots of money and then decided to transform themselves. Marconi, Northern Rock and Enron.
I ask you this. Take a simple Council function, one we all use - Refuse Collection. How on earth can a consultant transform that. You can privatise it so the staff earn less, the drivers don't stop when they bash into cars, for fear of the sack & the directors of the contractors make a pot of money. Barnet tried this in the 1980's and it failed miserably. Even staunch Tories got fed up with the lousy service. This was one reason why the Lib/Lab regime came to power. This council have shown that they cannot manage contractors. Aerodrome Road, with it's £11 million cost overrun proves this.
I don't know what Mike Freer expects the consultants to deliver, but I'll wager £50 to his favourite charity, that one of the main recommendations is that there is a further round of consultancy. We all know how much satisfaction Mike Freer would take from getting that cheque, so I await his call with bated breath !!!!!
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Most people get the boot for one reason. To save someone else's neck. If you've been caught with your hand in the till, don't read on because this doesn't apply to you - you deserve the boot !!!! As I said though, most people who will loose their job are not on the fiddle. They are sacrificial lambs, thrown on the scrapheap to either save someone's neck or line their pockets. Think of companies currently making people redundant - take RBS. Sir Fred Goodwin & his management team destroyed the company. He has a copperbottom pension and millions of pounds worth of shares. He kept his pension. How is it being paid for? redundancies
Closer to home, Barnet Council's leaders such as Mike Freer, who get generous allowances have seen three senior Council officers walk the plank in recent months. One for problems with Icelandic Investments, one for problems at Aerodrome Road and one for problems with regeneration. The man at the top Leo Bolland left for a better job and a payrise. Freer is still leader, he's been selected to be PPC for Finchley - not bad for a Council Leader with three major cock up's under his belt. Sacrifices have been made but not at the top. You see the lower down the food chain you are, the less you matter. The head honcho's only care while you are useful. The last useful thing many employee's do is lose their jobs to protect their superiors. If you work for an organisation such as Barnet, which is currently in the process of sacking sheltered housing wardens, to save a few quid read on.
By the time you are told you are losing your job it is too late. Your bosses don't care about you, so why should you care about them. Like all bullies, they pick on the weakest victims, those who will go quietly. What you need to do is make sure you have what you need to make them leave you alone. Here's my top 10 tips for avoiding the chop.
1. See what people have left on the printer/photocopier. You'll be amazed what you'll find. It might come in very useful one day.
2. Check the bins. People put all sorts of stuff in there which they'd rather you didn't see. Why let it go to be recycled, when it could save your job.
3. Keep an eye out for unusual activity. If bosses start behaving in an unusual manner, that is a sure sign something is up.
4. Look out for requests to document what you do. This is a sure sign that they are laying people off. Ask what they will do with the information. If they say it is "going in a spreadsheet" that is a sure sign.
5. Get the boss drunk. If he's under pressure, then he may spill the beans. When people are up to no good, they like a nice drink.
6. Don't tell anyone how to do your job. If the boss says everyone should be able to cover for each other, you should smell a rat.
7. If you work for the council and you find out that you are for the chop, leak the information to the press ASAP. Throw them off guard. Take the initiative.
8. Buy the people in HR a beer. If they are drunk, they might spill the beans. Note any indescretions they tell you and remind them of them the next day. You'll soon move to the back of the queue for the boot.
9. Buy a mobile phone with a camera and a record function. This could come in very useful.
10. If you've very lazy morals, sleep with the boss (or the head of HR). This will work wonders for your career prospects.
Of course all of the above strategies might go horribly wrong. If they do, don't blame me as I wasn't being serious. I would suggest that you keep your eye's and ears open. If there is a union, join it. If there isn't read up on your employment rights. Read your contract and make sure that you know what this entitles you to. If you've not got a Union, get advice from an organisation such as Citizens advice Bureau.
It seems that he may be slightly wide of the mark. Crap maybe, but no one reading it? Well I thought I'd share a few facts with you.
To date I've published 419 blogs.
The most popular (by a country mile) is this one detailing all of the free dinners Brian Coleman had listed on his GLA register of members interests. You may be interested to know that there are over 200 links from other sites to this blog story. It is always in my top five popular . It is well due a follow up. Every day dozens of Londoners visit the story :-
The most downloaded image is the one from the solicitors acting for the Sheltered Housing tenants. This has only been up a week and has had hundreds of downloads. The accompanying story was one advising senior staff at Barnet to look for another job. The link to public sector jobs on that page is also rather popular.
What is even more interesting is the quality of my visitors. We had 10 from the GLA and 7 from the Houses of Parliament. It appears that both have bookmarked the site. Of course, I'm pleased if anyone reads the blog, but it especially pleases me when people show their trust in me enough to get in touch. I don't publish my email, but it's easy enough to track me down.
Here is an example of what people say. This was forwarded to me yesterday.
I've received quite a few such emails. I feel embarrassed and humbled when I receive them. I really don't think I deserve such praise - I really don't think I'm wonderful, as I feel that often I'm P*ss*ng in the wind with Barnet Council. I spoke to the guy who sent the email yesterday. Some of these tales make me want to cry. I will do what I can to repay the trust of all of you who follow the blog. All I can really do is put things into the public domain so that people know what's going on. I'm not a lawyer, a councillor or a hitman !!!!
Yup, it may be a crap blog, but people seem to like it.
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
I had writers block for a while, but a comment from one of my regular contributors, "Pat" cured it - more of that later ! Anyway thanks to Pat, I've reprised an idea I've been working on for a while. Tell me what you think?
We are set in Barneii, a suburb of the great city of Londinium, set on the side of a volcano, in the last decadent days of a failing civilisation. The Borough Council abolished sheltered housing wardens a short while ago and now the chickens are coming home to roost.
Freerstone Michaels - Council Leader (A Brian Glover type character)
Miss Ermentrude Hilarious - Deputy Leader ( Hyacynth Bucket when happy/ Hilda Odgen when agitated)
Coley Brianman - Mayor who loves wearing the full regalia (A Michael Gambon type character)
Offley Mattford - the former deputy Leader, keen to curry favour with the boss and et his job back (a Baldrick type figure)
Any resemblense to any real person is purely coincidental and purely reflect the type of people who may find themselves involved in local government
Uncle Charlie's Dead
Set in Leader's sumptuous office, large plasma telly on desk. FM sit's at desk, CB reclines in armchair, OM stands to attention, towel over arm.
FM: Offley, get me a tea now. I'm thirsty
CB: Tea?? I want my dinner
FM: Dinner Cole, It's only 10 past 10?
CB: I'm hungry !!!!
EH enters the rooms
FM: Ermie, what on earth is the matter? You look like you've seen a ghost
EH: Disaster, disaster, we have a problem
FM: Calm down dear ! Tell your leader all about it
EH: You know those Horrible wardens we abolished. Well one of the Tenants in a flat has had a fall. He lay there for 14 hours before anyone noticed. The warden used to pop in every morning to check. He would have found him and may have saved him.
FM: So what? Offley, I told you to get , me a tea
CB: I want my dinner !
EH: No, you don't understand, the press have got hold of the news, the BBC are on their way over.
FM: Calm down dear, Offley get her a tea !!!!
OM: Yes, boss, shall I get her a biscuit
FM: Just get her a tea. Look it's not a problem. I'll get on telly again and I can tell them how much money we've saved and what a great job I'm doing. Who is this silly old fool who's dead anyway?
EH: His name is Charlie McFarley. Everyone on the estate knows him as Uncle Charlie. He to coaches the local football team. He's a real local hero.
EH: You don't understand. What will happen when the bloggers get hold of it?
CB: Bloggers, Bloggers, Bloggers, Bloggers !!!! (CB starts movin his arm rather rapidly under his robe of office)
FM: Ermy, don't say that word. You know how excited that makes him !
EM: Sorry Boss, I forgot myself. What about Charlie MacFarley, we're doomed !!!
FM: Oh well, look on the bright side, that's one less grant we'll have to pay next year. If they all died it would save us a fortune. We could raise our allowances again
CB: I want my dinner, hungry, hungry, hungry !!!!!
End scene 1
Copyright R Tichborne 2009
So what do you think? Ken Loach showed up for the Future Shape rally, maybe he'll make us a You Tube video of it for us. Maybe I'll stage a Barnet's Got Talent show for a casting and we could put it on at the Arts Depot? We could ask Mike Freer, Lynn Hillan, Brian Coleman and Matthew Offord as guests of honour. I'm sure they'd really enjoy it !
Thanks to Pat for his comment about Uncle Charlie's Dead. We wrote that song in 1979. It was about corporate neglect of the elderly. Maybe I'll write an updated version. It is great to hear that some of my ex band members are still angry enough about mistreatment of the elderly to still include it in their set. It is also great to see that it's the one which really moved Pat (Here's the full blog and comments)- It's just sad that 30 years on a song about neglect of the elderly is still relevant and memorable. Here's Pat's comment about the song. :-