Thursday, 30 July 2009

Happy belated birthday to me !!!!!

Would you believe it. It was my birthday and I never even noticed. Not my real birthday, but the birthday of my blogging career was on 23rd June. It feels like I've been doing this forever, but the "Rog T" blog is actually only just over 1 year old. Contrary to what many Barnet Councillors seem to think, I didn't really do it to write about Council policies, it just worked out that way. I thought I'd give you all a little potted history of how it all happened.

23rd June - Started the blog on the Times series with a blog about the dangers of using systemic weed killers in the commercial farming of Skunk Weed.

8th July - Got my first telling off from the Times for slagging off Mike Freer (who at the time also wrote a blog on the Times. Here's a short extract from the telling off.

In short, criticism of council policies is fine, but personal criticism of other bloggers is not, because your blog (rather than your comments under stories) is seen as sanctioned by us. I’d be happy to discuss this further with you — or if you want guidance on a particular blog you have planned, please let me know. I hope you understand that we need these kind of guidelines to keep our blogging community engaging and issue-based.

9th October - Following a dispute with the then editor of the Times, my blog disappeared and I started my new blog "The Barnet Eye" on Blogspot, free of rules.

15th November - Barnet Eye publishes the Brian Coleman Free Dinner Register. This has been the most popular blog on this site. There are over 130 links to this entry and I've had over 50,000 hits on this page.

16th February 2009 - Barnet Eye publishes Boris Johnson Guide to Drugs. This is my favourite blog.

21st February 2009 - Barnet Eye publishes Tuesday is Brian Coleman day. I've been reliably informed that of all of the things I've said about our esteemed Mayor, this is the blog he loathes and detests most. I was quite surprised when I heard this as I thought that a seasoned politician such as good old Brian would be immune to such a childish bit of winding up. I actually posted this when I got home from a heavy session at the pub and had forgotten about it when I was told of his loathing for it. It displays the dangers of alcohol. I'd never have published it if I'd been sober. Many apologies for all the heartache and pain it has caused you, Councillor Coleman. I'd hoped you had a better sense of humour. Having just reread it again, you have to admit it is quite funny.

8th March 2009 - Barnet Eye publishes 5 songs that make me miserable. This is the blog that gets the most google search hits.

13th May 2009 - Barnet Eye publishes Barnet Tory Bugle Update - Spot the Difference. I actually believe this blog is the most important blog I've ever written, certainly the most influential. This blog was criticising what I percieved to be a pro Tory bias in the Edgware Times. Dave Hill at the Guardian picked this up and linked to it. The result was amazing, they've completely changed their tack with the Council. I'm proud of them now !

2nd July - Barnet Eye publishes Manchester United Supporters. Of all of the blogs I've written, this was the most unreasonable, nasty and horrible, which is why I love it. Sadly it doesn't seem to have upset nearly enough people.

Sat 4th July - Barnet Eye posts Hurt Me. I always like to publish a Youtube clip link on a Saturday Night. I sort of hope it makes someone somewhere happy. This is my favourite YouTube clip so far.

I hope that if you've followed Barnet Eye, you've got something positive from the blog. I really can't believe I've only been blogging for a year. I think that the best thing is that as a result of reading my blog, it seems a few others have started their own blogs in Barnet, most notably Don't call me Dave and VickiM57. Perhaps the most satisfying moment this year was when Brian Coleman announced during his mayoral inauguration that he was going to take on the bloggers! I suppose that's a tacit admission that in less then a year (as it was then), we'd changed the political landscape of Barnet.

Oh and lastly, the picture at the top is probably my fave music Piccie and the one just below is my fave political piccie from the last year

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Mike Freer's Answers - No 4 - sheltered Housing

This blog is No 4 and the last in the series dedicated to Leader of Barnet Council, Mike Freer's Answers to my questions at the last cabinet meeting. You decide if he's given a satifactory answer. No comment from me. I hope this has allayed any fears you may have

RT - Q9: How many Barnet residents are currently serviced
under the existing scheme and how many more
will be serviced under the new scheme?

MF - A9 : There are currently approximately 1500 sheltered housing units in schemes that
receive SP funding, some of which are for an alarm only service; some with
visiting wardens and others with resident wardens. The Cabinet report in
Appendix One set this out clearly. Our analysis of residents needs provided by the
current sheltered housing schemes showed that there is not a correlation between
level of need and hours of support currently provided. Whilst a valued service, our
analysis suggests that not everyone needs the service, and of those who do, many
do not require it on an ongoing basis. We anticipate therefore that many tenants
will require short term interventions only. The needs data we have received from
providers suggests that approx one third of residents receive benefits from the
service, although not on a continuing basis, and that a small proportion – up to 120
residents – at any one time need a greater input. The remainder make less
frequent or occasional use of the support but benefit from the reassurance of the
alarm service.

It is intended that the future support service will comprise the following elements:

Everyone in sheltered housing will benefit from the alarm service

Everyone in sheltered housing will be able to access the proposed helpline

The intensive support service should aim to meet the needs of up to 250
residents at any one time which will release capacity to support older people
living in the community.

RT - Q10: What provision has been made for the cutover to
allay the fears of residents?

MF - A10: The Council’s Adult Social Services is identifying a dedicated project manager to
supervise the range of different activities required to commission the new support
service and to reconfigure existing sheltered housing services. A full risk
assessment has been carried out. The Council’s proposed option will best
address the risks identified through the public consultation. The Council will work
closely with sheltered housing providers and tenants in planning and implementing
the service in order to mitigate the risks further, and to directly address concerns
of tenants.

RT - Q11: Has a full risk assessment been made for all

MF - A11 : note : Mike Freer clarified this after Rog T's supplimental question. A paragraph has been written in a Council Briefing document to deal with this.

RT - Q12: How many residents will be made more vulnerable
as a result of changes?

MF - A12: The Council has undertaken work to identify the effect of withdrawing existing
sheltered housing support from tenants who receive social care services. This
work will continue, and there will be explicit working protocols between the future
support provider and adult social services care teams.

RT - Q13: What provision has the council made for fighting
legal claims made as a result of these changes?

MF - A13: The Council has worked closely with its own legal department in drawing up


Well there you go, that's all Mike Freer's responses to my questions ( I don't think I can call them Answers, do you) - I will endevour to post my opinion on his "responses" shortly

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Brent Cross Railway - The system of the Future

As some of you may know, this blog strongly supports the proposal for the Brent Cross Railway (BCR). This is a tram system that will link up the Boroughs of Barnet and Brent with a hub at Brent Cross. Much of the route for this is under used and disused rail lines. The proposal would link up the High Barnet and the Edgware branches of the Northern Line, massively reduce traffic around the new Brent Cross development and offer a quicker, greener and more efficient way to get to work for thousands of commuters and school children. The London Borough of Brent strongly supports the scheme. Unfortunately the London Borough of Barnet doesn't.

Barnet likes to pride itself on being a "pro car" administration, with it's various policies such as road hump removal. Opposing the BCR proposal is another feather in the cap of the pro car lobby. Now I've never really understood the concept of "pro car" and "pro rail" lobbies (other than the vested interests of the companies servicing each industry). I'm in the "pro getting from A to B lobby". This means sometimes we have to build unpopular roads (most big roads are unpopular), sometimes we have to build railways and sometimes we have to spend lots of cash.

The Brent Cross scheme is a simple and relatively cheap scheme. Knowing that this blog has championed it, I received an email suggesting to me that the scheme is fundamentally flawed and that the costs could be slashed, whilst maintaining the service levels and improving the green credentials. Whilst my engineering credentials are soundly in the music engineering camp, I certainly can see the logic in what is being suggested.

One of the major costs in the proposed scheme is the electrification of the route, to power the trams. It has been suggested that this is expensive, outdated technology. The fuel of the future is Hydrogen Cell. If the trams were powered by hydrogen cell technology, then miles of copper wiring wouldn't be needed. Major power installations could be scrapped. It is also suggested that some of the route could be used for dual purpose vehicles, half bus/half trams. These could branch off and add even more destinations than the existing scheme could offer. This would negate the need to lay new tracks in some areas. It has been suggested that new road signalling technology be deployed, to clear the roadways for these vehicles. It has been suggested that these lanes could be signalled bus lanes, ie cars can use them until the bus comes, then they move over. There is nothing more frustrating than being stuck in traffic, next to an empty bus lane.

Now I've no idea if this technology really will work. I don't know if rail/road vehicles are feasible. I don't know if signal controlled bus lanes are feasible. What I do know is that for gridlocked cities such as London they deserve serious research and consideration. It can't be right that the North Circular is gridlocked every day whilst a few hundred yards away, there is a railway used by 12 trains a day, in the bits which haven't been abandoned. It certainly deserves a more serious analysis than Brian Coleman's "men in lofts with trainsets" quip.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Gordon Brown is a Tory

If the Conservatives win the next election, as many pundits are predicting, the reason won't be because the nation has become wildly enthusiastic for the policies of David Cameron. It will be due to a massive "stay at home" by staunch Labour voters. They won't be staying at home due to the failure of Socialist policies. They will be staying at home because of the failure of Tory policies, badly implimented by Gordon Brown. Many people on the left criticised Tony Blair, calling him "Tory B.Liar" I always thought that this was wide of the mark. Blair was a Social Democrat who hijacked the Labour movement.

I formed the opinion that Brown was a Tory from day 1 of the Blair regime. For a Labour chancellor, with the biggest ever majority to announce that he'd follow the Tory spending plans for the next 3 years, gave the game away. It meant that either :-

a) He agreed with Ken Clark and is a Tory
b) He was clueless and so couldn't come up with anything better
c) both of the above

As chancellor he forced a massive privatisation on the citizens of London with tube PPP. Ken Livingstone, someone who is quite clearly not a Tory, fought this tooth and nail.

As to how he behaved as Prime Minister. His first major Tax reform was to abolish the 10p Tax band. This had a terrible effect on the finances of some Great Britains most vulnerable people. Gordon Brown is a workaholic. If he was a Socialist, his first question would be "What effect will any tax changes have on the most vulnerable people in Society". If he'd asked this question and he'd not been a Tory he'd have dropped the cut.

What about his other measures? A Socialist would have nationalised the banks without compensation to Shareholders when they failed and structured them to make a future privatisation impossible. When the railway companies failed, they would have been kicked into touch and British Rail reconstituted. A real Socialist would have used Sir Fred Goodwins greed as a perfect excuse to introduce swinging taxes on abuse of the pension and bonus system. However you look at it, the Brownite response to any crisis is a Tory response.

Would a real Socialist dream of trying to force through Post Office Privatisation. I can't think of a single progressive policy associated with Gordon Brown. Tory readers will doubtless claim I am talking rubbish. Of course they will, because Brown's brand of Conservatism is not exactly an advert for good Government. If Cameron gets in, all we'll get is more of the same. All we can realisically hope for is a bit better execution of policies. To those who say Labour policies have failed, I say "No they haven't because they haven't been tried"

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Mike Freer's Answers - No 3 - sheltered Housing

This blog is No 3 in the series dedicated to Leader of Barnet Council, Mike Freer's Answers to my questions at the last cabinet meeting. You decide if he's given a satifactory answer. No comment from me.

RT Q4. What is the expected travelling time per day for
wardens under the new scheme?

MF - A4: We are building into all service specifications the principle of local delivery so that
providers of services are clustered in specific localities. This has the added
benefit to those older people who live in the same catchment area as those in the
sheltered scheme but who don’t live in a sheltered housing tenancy. At present
we are looking at basing the teams in 3 geographical locations around the

RT Q5: Will wardens under the new scheme be
remunerated at the same rate as under the existing

MF A5: Wardens are currently paid on a range of scales, depending on their
responsibilities and the employer. The new service will not be employing wardens
in their former roles and salaries.

RT - Q6: What provision has been made for disruption to
warden visits by road congestion or weather?

RT - Q7: Will wardens be able to claim overtime when
delayed by congestion or weather under the new

RT - Q8: How much does the Council anticipate for
increased overtime claims by travelling wardens?

MF - A 6, 7, 8: It is not intended that the future support service will undertake alarm response activity.

Currently most visiting and scheme based wardens only work normal
office hours Monday to Friday. When they are not working, sheltered schemes are
covered by ‘out of office’ arrangements. These include emergency phone
numbers and on most schemes a community alarm or warden call system.
Neither the existing services nor the proposed support service are intended as a
substitute for the emergency services provided by the local health service and the
police. It is worth noting that in the last severe weather episode in Barnet all
community services maintained delivery to all clients across the Borough – there
was also a pulling together of all the community services during this period to
ensure no older person was left without the support they needed.

The arrangements for overtime, out of hours payments will be the responsibility of the
support provider to determine as part of the contractual process with the Council.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Mike Freer's Answers - No 2 - sheltered Housing

This blog is No 2 in the series dedicated to Leader of Barnet Council, Mike Freer's Answers to my questions at the last cabinet meeting. You decide if he's given a satifactory answer. No comment from me.

RT Q2: How many visits per day do existing wardens make
and how many will wardens make under the new

Q3: 3. What is the average duration of a warden visit
currently and what is the expected duration under
the new scheme?

MF A2 & 3: At present visits are carried out by wardens to variable levels across the existing
sheltered housing stock, depending on current job requirements. The new service
will provide individual support based on needs rather than standard visits. The
service will be provided by support staff, rather than wardens, and it is anticipated
that support duration will be short term, up to 6 months.

For those people with ongoing care needs, residents will continue to have these
needs met through Adult Social Services. We will ensure that the new support
workers agree with the tenant on when to call and when to visit.
The proposals reflect Barnet’s strategy to commission services that are responsive
to individual need and that work flexibly by providing support when and where it is
needed. Our proposal has been informed by the excellent work of Barnet’s
existing visiting support services that at present work with older people who are
not living in sheltered housing. The satisfaction levels reported by the people who
use the services are high.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Mike Freer's Answers to Rog T's Questions re Sheltered Housing - No 1

Mike Freer's Leader Listens blog is a taxpayer funded service where he is supposed to tell it straight to the people of Barnet. As he can't be bothered, here is the first in my series of questions, that I asked Mike Freer, Leader of Barnet Council. These are his genuine answers - No comment from me.

See if you think he's answered my question?

RT - Q: How many wardens are currently employed and
how many will be employed under the new

MF - A: The explicit aim of the restructure is to target resources more efficiently to older
people who would benefit most from the support, regardless of where they live.
The proposal is to commission services that are needs-led and available to all,
unlike current sheltered housing provision that discriminates against those
populations who are less likely to wish to choose this housing tenure.
The new service will be structured in a very different way to the existing service
where scheme based staff may not be spending all their time on support activities,
but may be undertaking housing management tasks as well. It is not particularly
useful therefore to make direct comparisons between the 2 services.
The proposed new budget (c£600K) will be sufficient to for 15 full time staff, but
this indicative only and could vary depending on the kinds of activities they carry
out; a proportionally larger number of staff would be affordable if the establishment
included a mix of grades.

This is about one-quarter of the staff currently
commissioned under current sheltered housing contracts.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

The strange tale of the illegal school

Oddest story in the Edgware Times this week is the strange tale of the illegal school in Golders Green. It seems that it is a converted house in a residential street, it's had rotten OFSTEAD reports and the effects of noise, traffic etc is driving the neighbours mad.

I'm all for provision of extra school places in Barnet, which is why I supported the JCOSS proposal (even though the environmental effects were bad). It's just this one seems to be the wrong school in the wrong place. I'd have thought that the primary mission of any school is to teach neighbourlyness and to get the kids to obey the laws of the land.

This one seems to be sending all the wrong messages to it's kids. I sympathise with parents who feel they have special needs for their kids. I just think that we owe it to them to set a good example and saying "we don't like the rules so it's OK to break them" is a not a great way to bring kids up. They should find a more suitable location.

Sympathy for RBS staff

I daresay that not too many of you feel very sorry for the staff of RBS at the moment. Usually we only talk to the bank when things go wrong. They overcharge us, they cock up our mortgage, they get our electricty cut off by stopping our direct debits. That sort of thing. As if that wasn't bad enough, the bloke who used to run it got paid millions in bonuses, crashed the bank, got bailed out by you & me (the taxpayer) and then swanned off with a big fat payoff and a gold lined pension. I'd say that Sir Fred Goodwin is near the top of most people's list of people they wouldn't even urinate on if he caught fire.

We don't like our banks much right now, deservedly so. I was however rather saddened by a little story I was told last night. A good friend of mine works for RBS. She was at the Morrissey gig (she's a Moz nut) and we shared a cab back. As we were coming back, she told me that the previous evening she'd been drinking with Morrissey's crew til 6am (what a girl, she then did a full days work, only pausing for a shower and a change of clothes). One of the friends of the crew, on finding out she was an RBS employee had subjected her to a long tirade of bile about what a terrible person she was for working for RBS. She explained that unlike Fred, she got no bonus at all this year. She's got a mortgage to pay and she doesn't even know how long she'll have a job. She'd been harangued with "How can you justify this, how can you justify that".

The point is that 99.9% of the staff are not to blame for the global recession or anything else. They do humdrum jobs for not much money. Sure some are rude, some are unhelpful, but no more so than any other firm. I happen to think it's pig ignorant to ruin someones evening purely because they work for a company where a few guys at the top have behaved badly. By all means slag off Sir Fred if you see him, but blaming everyday bank workers is cruel, nasty and spiteful.

Harrow Tory Candidate has crabs !!!!

For once I can say that maybe Brian Coleman is right. Do you remember when he said "Twitter is for Twits"?

Well I just checked the website for Harrow West Tory PPC Dr Rachel Joyce and she proudly announces the following :-

caught a few crabs in padstow bay. brilliant!
Well, it made me snigger. Now come on Rachel, you're a doctor, surely you must have thought about how us nasty lefties would twist it, you of all people should have spotted this coming? Thanks for the laugh though.

I'm off to bed now. After a great Morrissey gig, that rounded off the evening perfectly.

Morrissey at Brixton Academy

Just back from an evening with Morrissey at the Brixton Academy. It was the last gig of the world tour, so the last time to see Moz & the Boys for a while. A cracking show, with an end of term feel.

Morrissey gigs get a rather interesting blend of fans in the audience. There really is no set look, age or type who seems to like him, he just seems to connect with some people. If you don't like Moz, you probably won't like the show and if you do you'll love it. He doesn't take prisoners in his music and never has.

Morrissey made the point that none of the music press had bothered to turn up to review the shows. I suppose they think that if they ignore Morrissey for long enough, he'll go away.

They're wrong. I think that's why I rather like Moz.

Sheltered Housing Warden Cuts on London Tonight

Firstly thanks to Notthebarnettimes for bringing this clip to my attention, hat tip. I'm running a special series on this subject next week. The unedited "answers" from Mike Freer to my questions at the last council meeting. It is really worth reading Freer's answers. I asked 13 questions, so I'm posting his "answers" in 4 bit sized chunks.

I use the word answers with care. I'm sure you'll agree that they are nothing of the sort. If you are a Tory and you live in Finchley and you plan to vote for him, please read these carefully when they are posted. It may make you think again.

Anyway, here's what London Tonight had to say about Mr Freer and his warden cuts

It is worth noting that Don't call me Dave, who writes the Not the Barnet Times blog is a staunch Tory, albiet one who disagrees profoundly with Barnet Council Leader Mike Freer and his policies. It would be really easy for me as a Labour supporting blogger to simply label the Warden cuts as Tory cuts. The opposition of sensible Conservatives such as don't call me Dave, shows they are something different. They are incompetent policies from an incompetant ruling party lead by an incompetant man who wants to be an MP. A sensible and wise Conservative would realise that this policy is cruel, divisive and unpopular. They would realise that it actually attacking some core Tory voters among the elderly in sheltered accomodation.

Any Barnet Tories who don't follow Don't call me Dave's lead in vocal opposition to this policy are as culpable as Mike Freer himself, when people start dying as a result.

Mike Freer confirmed that the risk assessment for a policy where only 1/4 of the staff will be retained, in different roles and grades is ONE PARAGRAPH LONG. The risk assessment for the toilets at my firm is longer. The first time an elderly person suffers a serious injury or death as a result of this policy, the Council will be sued for millions. Why? because they didn't do a risk assessment. What will happen then? A Council officer will be sacked as a sacrafice and the taxpayer will pick up the bill. There is a term for changing care provision without a risk assessment. It's called negligence.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Barnet Homes : Barnet's most bizarre email exchange

I mentioned a while ago that a Mr Ron Muller, who is a resident of Barnet Homes in sheltered warden housing, had sent me a stack of stuff regarding issues he's had regarding his accommodation.

One of the exchanges Mr Muller sent me was regarding an incident where Mr Muller was told video equipment had been installed, evidence reviewed and his complaints dismissed as a result. After further prompting from Mr Muller, it turned out that the camera wasn't installed and there was no evidence to justify dismissing his claim. In short he'd been told a pack of lies. In the letter of explanation from Barnet Homes (Dated 7 Dec 2005, which I have a photocopy of) to Mr Muller, a senior officer told him:-
"I was unable to clarify exactly who was responsible for the misinformation. I will however be speaking to both officers concerning the matter to ensure that they fully understand the importance of providing accurate information to residents.

Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention and allowing me time to thoroughly investigate the matter. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to discuss this matter further".
It is clear that there has been a complete breakdown of trust between Mr Muller and Barnet Homes. As Barnet Homes have admitted giving Mr Muller misinformation, wheras he seems to have been completely straight and honest in his delaings, I have to conclude that the evidence shows that Barnet Homes have treated Mr Muller in a rather poor manner (I was tempted to post the scanned letter here, but I really don't think it's fair to all of those employees named, as I've not heard their side of the story).

Years ago I went on a management training seminar run by one of America's top businessmen. He said "Your most difficult customer is your most valuable assett, because they will tell you all the flaws in your organisation, that everyone else will try to hide from you". I've always borne this in mind and found that often "the reason they are being so difficult is because they are right".

My challenge to the CEO of Barnet Homes is this. Visit Mr Muller, spend half an hour listening to his complaints. If at the end of that time, you think he has been dealt with as you would wish to have dealt with, email me and tell me why. I'll stick your email up here unedited (unless it has rude words, slander or anything else illegal in), with no comment from me whatsoever, other than an explanation & a link here. You'll make me look like a prize lemon and as a sign of my repentance, I'll donate a £100 of my hard earned wonga to any registered charity you like. If you find he's got a valid point, then you can address it and I suspect that you'll have done more than £100 of good, so it's a completely one way deal. Even if you don't want your letter posted here, I'll still donate the £100 if you can look me in the eye and tell me Mr Muller has been properly treated. Having seen the fox feeding email exchange, I can honestly say I think my money is safe.

Can't say fairer than that can I?

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

A Rubbish Story from the Daily Mail

This blog doesn't like the Daily Mail. Today they were up to one of their favourite tricks, putting a scary headline on a Non Story. To save you the bother of wasting your precious time, here's a summary.

The headline "Council Snoopers sift through your rubbish bin to see if you are wealthy or poor"

The actual story. Some councils are doing a survey of what sort of rubbish people are putting out so that they can improve the service.

The outraged Tory quote :

Jeremy Kite (Ed Note: is that rhyming slang), Tory leader of Dartford in Kent, said: 'I do not believe it is right.'

What actually happened.

Waste was dumped into a big pile and sorted into 66 different categories, which included ten types of paper and card, 11 types of plastic, five sorts of glass, six kinds of textiles and a miscellaneous category that included disposable nappies, carpet and sanitary waste.
The Link - if you have 5 minutes of your life to waste

Captain Useless - sinking to the bottom of the sea

For those readers new to the blog, Captain Useless is the Barnet Eye's nickname for Matthew Offord, Conservative candidate for Hendon and former deputy leader of Barnet Council. We've been calling him Captain Useless here since one of our mutual friends told me that he was a keen sailor. He's been given a blog about sailing on the Hendon Times and I've had many a merry hour lampooning it for it's vital role as a cure for insomnia.

Well, this blog always prides itself on it's honesty. Just because I don't agree with someone, doesn't mean that I won't dish out the praise where the praise is due. I've got to say that his latest entry is actually rather good. As I read through it, I started to feel rather gutted as there was absolutely nothing worthy of scorn in it. In fact it was interesting and informative. Now not everyone is interested in swimming the channel, sailing and diving, but if you are, then it's worth a read. Doesn't mean I'll be voting for him, but I have to grudgingly admit that when the good captain gets on with the job in hand and sticks to the topic, rather than using it to spout nonsense about local politics, he actually writes quite a good blog.

Well done Matthew, mind you, I'll take all the credit as you've taken my constructive criticisms to heart <| :^)

David Cameron & the Same old Tory story

How can David Cameron possibly continue to defend his communications chief, Andy Coulson? Tory bloggers rightly went potty about Damian McBride's smear campaign, but surely Andy Coulson's sins are much greater. McBride making up lies is bad enough, but Coulson was editor of the News of the World, where a systematic coampaign of phone tapping took place. His defence is reminiscent of Mike Freer's whenever a scandal such as Iceland hits the news "I know nothing" he shouts from the ramparts. The BBC reports his evidence and to be quite honest it is sickening. With reports of Councils spying on private citizens, could it be that Cameron sees this talent as useful for building up a big brother state when he takes charge.

Rather like Boris sticking with Brian Coleman, following his profligate waste of public money on taxi's, which he keeps waiting for hours while he scoffs down free dinners, Cameron seems set on keeping someone who clearly has no place in any democratic political party. What can we conclude about the sort of regime he wants to run?

The one possible redeeming feature I thought a Conservative government may bring for me was the prospect that it would role back the Big Brother state we are silently sleepwalking into. Instead we have Coulson in charge of communications. What next, Count Dracula in charge of bloodbanks.

Ask yourself this. When a future Prime Minister asks his head of communications, Andy Coulson this question, what answer may he get?

"Andy, I'm worried that some MP's may be plotting behind my back. There have been reports of secret mobile phone conversations, what do you think we should do?"

Scary, isn't it.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Lesbian Role Models

A friend of mine confided in me recently that one of the things which really disturbed her was the lack of really strong Lesbian role models during her formative years. Being a punk and a really strong character, she said that she really identified with Patti Smith, above just about all of the other artists and the first time she heard Patti Smith's Gloria, was the first time she really understood herself.

The trouble is that Patti isn't a Lesbian, she was in a loving relationship with Fred Smith for decades. Sure there are all sorts of people she admires, but there isn't a Lesbian Martin Luther King or even a Patti Smith. She likes Beth Ditto, for instance but that isn't quite the same thing. I said that we're all members of the human family so it really doesn't matter. Her response? It matters greatly to her.

The conversation really prayed on my mind. Not because I need a Lesbian role model to look up to, but because I started to think "Who are my role models?". I grew up in the 1960's and 70's. By the time I was a teenager, the Stranglers were top of the charts with "No More Heroes". I didn't want heroes. I didn't want role models.

It was probably a generational thing, but I had bitter arguements with my Dad who was an RAF bomber pilot about the rights and wrongs of area bombing. His view was that his comrades were heroes. I'd never question their bravery, but I've always hoped that if I was asked to drop a bomb on Dresden, I'd have said no. I'm not a coward and I'd have happily dropped a bomb on a military target or even Hitler's holiday home. Can you be a hero if you are doing something that is fundamentally wrong?

In terms of sportsmen, probably the closest thing to a hero for me is Mohammed Ali. Just to get into a ring takes balls of steel. To challenge the establishment, go to jail as a conscienscous objector and still be the greatest boxer the planet has ever seen sets Ali apart. In our house, we'd always watch his fights. My Dad boxed in the Australian army, before joining the RAAF and he appreciated the way Ali fought. I can't think of another sportsman with the stature of Ali. Watching some old footage of him in his prime reminded me of what a giant among men he is. Now if I applied my friends criteria to Ali, he couldn't be my role model. I'm a White Roman Catholic, he's a Black Muslim. The thing is though, that he has strength, courage and faith.

I saw Ali, years ago on a documentary talking to some black kids in a ghetto. He said the following words (or words to this effect) and they've always stuck with me.

"You look up to me and see me as a role model. That means nothing if you lie, cheat and steal. I'm only a role model if you all go out and become role models as well".

I think that a real role model transcends, race, gender, religion and class.

Vote for Somebody else !!!!!

All of our Tory bloggers seem to have got themselves in a real tizzy. Such esteemed commentators as James Cleverly and Iain Dale are prostituting themselves by giving instructions on how to vote for themselves in a blog of the year show.

I really don't do it to win prizes, if you've got five minutes spare, sign the sheltered housing petition in the sidebar. If you feel the need to vote for a political blog, vote for I hate awards of all kinds. I don't like the Oscars, I don't like the Brits (although I'm glad that Amy Winehouse & Kate Nash won as they are customers of the studio, on the basis that if someone has to).

Who will I be voting for? Paul Evans who runs the blog. I quite like the thought of all the Tory bloggers having to sit through his five hour acceptance speech. He He He !

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Brian Coleman boasts about sponging on his blog !

You really should read this blog in the News Statesman by Brian Coleman.

Here are a few choice extracts for your perusal

"Rather like the Methodist Church (which it seems these days stands for not much that John Wesley would recognise) and unlike my Octogenarian Mother I have long since abandoned my teetotalism and enjoy good champagne when someone else is paying and a glass of port or two after your average City Corporation Dinner."
"I vividly recall going on an official trip to Cyprus when one Labour MP had to be physically helped off the plane by a colleague when he arrived at Larnaca as he was too drunk to stand and on a previous trip one corpulent now former Scottish Labour MP who failed to attend any of the official meetings but somehow managed all the dinners!"

"Gordon Brown has promised to the relief of local councillors across the Country to review the liberalisation of the licensing laws. Perhaps he should bring his Scottish Presbyterian views to the attention of some of those closer to home."

Indeed !

When you've read that blog, read this one - The Brian Coleman Free dinner register update

Actions speak louder than words.

The worlds worst car thiefs?

I was awoken last night by the sound of commotion in the street and our dog growling. The time was about 4.45. I immediately jumped up and looked out of the window. We've two cars, a Galaxy for family/band use and an old, dilapidated Mondeo for running around when the other one is in use. A couple of young herberts were standing by the door of the Mondeo, clearly up to no good. I immediately yelled as loud as I could (I can yell pretty loud) "What the F*** do you think you are doing?" They yelled back, laughingly "Nicking your car mate". At that they ran off down the road. I could see that they'd not managed to do anything so I thought I'd go back to bed. About five minutes later the sound of a car hurtling up the road agian disturbed me. I immediately felt bad as the herberts had clearly nicked someone elses car. As the speeding car returned and screeched to a halt, I thought "maybe they've come back to cause trouble". Looking out of the window, I realised that the speeding car was the Police. They had stopped and were looking around.

At this I went down and and had a word. I explained that I'd seen them. They asked for a description. As I was half asleep at the time I said "White, about 20". The polcieman explained that I'd been lucky. There was a disgarded brick on the floor. Apparently they'd broken in to one car and tried to hotwire it. Fortunately for me, no damage and no problem.

I was impressed with the speed of the arrival of the Police. I feel rather sorry for my neighbours. This type of car theft is very anti social and a real pain. We're taking my son and a group of friends to a party today. If we'd lost the car a group of small boys and girls would have been deeply disappointed (or we'd have had to inconvenience other parents). Why? So some herberts can have a little drive around.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The curious case of the missing trousers.

Last night my old mate Boz Boorer helped me solve a 12 year old mystery. We all met up for an Orange Hill School reunion. I arranged to meet Boz at St Albans Station, where his cab would deliver us to the pub. As we hopped in the car, he announced that the driver used to be my next door neighboour. (The driver is the guy on the left in the picture). I asked the driver how long ago he lived there. He said "oh, years ago". I asked "I remember you guys, you used to get really mashed and hop over the fence and jump in my kids paddling pool". He said "Oh, I don't remember that". I replied "I do. One time I chased you out at about 4am in the morning. Funny thing was, you were in your underpants and you left your trousers by the shed". He then replied "Were they my Dolce Vita ones with the nice belt?" I replied "Yup those were the ones" I then explained that there was £20 and an item he'd rather I didn't divulge here in the pocket. He said that he didn't remember jumping in the pond and said when he woke up the next day had no recollection of where they were. I explained that I thought I'd wait for them to be collected. After a couple of weeks we spent the £20 on a takeaway and Mrs T wore the jeans for a few years as they were her size and rather nice.

He said that he'd always wondered what happened to them, as far as he was concerned it was a complete mystery. As is always the way when I meet up with Boz, I awake with a bad hangover. It was great to see a few old friends there. Special thanks to Anne Wyatt for taking the picture. Boz is playing guitar for Morrissey as I write this. I hope he's having as good a time as I've had at my studio manager Darren's wedding today. On the subject of missing trousers, Darren Celebrated his Scottish roots by getting married in a kilt. If you were in Mill Hill Broadway at about 4.30pm today, you'd have seen his wedding cavalcade of bikes. Darren and his lovely bride Viv were in the trike at the front. I'm really pleased to see Darren & Viv getting hitched. He's a lovely bloke and shes a great gal. I wish them every happiness for the future.

Sweet Gene Vincent

It's Saturday Night and on a Saturday Night, you just can't have too much Gene Vincent.

The original clip of Gene Vincent on 1st appearance at the Town Hall Party 1958

Be Bop A Lula

Rip it up

Over the Rainbow

I'm of the opinion that if you don't like Gene Vincent's music you either :-

a) Don't have a pulse


b) Don't deserve one !

Thank you lord for YouTube. Clips like these make me glad to be alive.

Who would Jesus vote for?

Firstly, let me say one thing. There is nothing which gets my goat up more than dodgy politicians using Jesus/God as a justification for any policy. Politicians should stand for policies because they are right. The arguments should be based on the merits of the policy, not on some random notion that Jesus might have liked it. Earlier this week Iain Dale did a post entitled "God doesn't do Party politics, but if he did...". It got me thinking about the issue. As it's a Saturday, I thought I'd explore the issue of religion and politics in the usual Barnet Eye way.

Extremist nutcases in the States are often featured on TV waving placards with such messages as "Jesus hates fags" and the suchlike. For people who purport to read the bible this rather puzzles me because, he didn't actually say anything in any of the Gospels about homosexuality. In effect, what they are doing is making things up and then pretending that Jesus said them, which I guess if you are a Christian, is blasphemy. It would be like me proclaiming "Jesus loves the Clash". I'd be rather pleased if he did, but as he never stood up (as far as is recorded) and said "Blessed be Joe Strummer", I just have to have a little bit of faith that he has good taste in Punk Rock bands.

Reading Iain Dale's blog, I got to thinking as to why, when we talk about faith and politics, it's always right wingers spouting nonsense like "Jesus would vote Tory because they'd ban abortions", ignoring the fact that Maggie had a nice big fat majority and never saw fit to change the law. Why do none of the other biblical Prophets get a look in? I considered a few of the important biblical figures and thought maybe we should try and ascertain how they'd vote.

Noah - I guess he'd probably vote Green. He seemed to be interested in the Environment and protecting animals. Not many people realise it, but Noah framed the 7 laws which form the basis of all of the practises of the main religions. These predate Moses 10 commandments. Interestingly enough, Noah was probably the first recorded character to recognise animal rights. Yup, I'd put him down as a Green.

Noah's Seven Laws.

  1. Idolatry is forbidden.
  2. Incestuous and adulterous relations are forbidden.
  3. Murder is forbidden. The life of a human being, formed in God's image, is sacred.
  4. Cursing the name of God is forbidden.
  5. Theft is forbidden. The world is not ours to do with as we please.
  6. Eating the flesh of a living animal is forbidden.
  7. Mankind is commanded to establish courts of justice and a just social order to enforce the first six laws and enact any other useful laws or customs.

Moses. Well as he was responsible for the 10 commandments and six hundred odd other laws, he's clearly hot on Law and Order issues. I originally was going to classify him as a Tory, then I remembered that it was he who asked God for a handout and got "Manna from heaven". Now as this was not a means tested benefit and was universally available, I guess that puts him down as a Socialist. I've sort of decided that he's probably Old Labour.

As I thought about the issue, I asked myself "Which biblical figure provides the inspiration for our dynamic duo of leaders Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Barnet Council Leader Mike Freer". Now as you know I consider Mike Freer to be a Brownite. I actually believe Gordon Brown to be a Tory, but that is a blog for another day. Given the Midas touch in reverse that both of them seem to possess and the way they leg it when asked to take responsibility, there can only be one prophet for them - Jonah. Eventually Jonah got the message and did what God required. I rather hope that both Mike and Gordon get the message which I've sent them - resign for the sake of us all.

As to my question at the top of the page, who would Jesus vote for? Given the way our MP's have behaved, I suspect that if he was forced, he'd probably pick the Monster Raving Looney Party in preference to any of the others. I base this assertation on his first reported miracle, in which he turned water into 40 gallons of wine for a Jewish wedding party. The one thing we can be sure about is that he liked a party. The gospel tells us that after the wedding feast, Jesus and his followers rested for several days.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Barnet Property Prices set to plummet due to Council Policy

Are you considering moving to Barnet? Are you considering moving away from Barnet? Are you not considering moving at all, but you own your own flat or house? Well if you fall into any of these categories, you really should read this blog and consider some of the points raised. There is an old saying about the three most important factors which affect the price of a house. Location, Location, Location. People will spend more money on a house if the house is in a nice area. If it's not, then they will pay far less for the same house. What makes a "nice area" :-

* Good Schools
* Good Transport Links
* Pleasant Street Scene
* Good local amenities
* Low Crime

If you have all of the above, you live in an area where the prices are most likely to be higher than neighbouring areas where this is not the case. How are Barnet Council doing in these five important areas?

Good Schools - Barnet have historically had great schools. The achievements of our best schools such as QE Boys, Henrietta Barnet and St Michaels are recognised across the country with all these schools regularly appearing at or near the top of the league tables. That is one of the main reasons that property prices in Barnet are amongst the highest in London. The trouble is that since Mike Freer took over the Council, the wheels have started to come of the school bus. There are several examples of this which have been picked up by the press. Deansbrook School will lose it's state of the art Computer suite, to accomodate another class. This is an example of the council actually spending money to MAKE A SCHOOL WORSE. The parents are up in arms. At least the children in this school will have a proper classroom. Three other Schools have placed emergency orders for PORTACABINS to accomodate the pupils starting next term. Would you move your family to an area where your kids go to school in a Portacabin? This can only have a negative effect on property prices.

Good Transport Links - The planners at Barnet want to accomodate another 80,000 people in the Borough in the next few years. There are huge developments all over the Borough, most notably at Mill Hill East, Colindale and Brent Cross. There are no planned major improvements to public Transport in these areas. A figure of £400 million is mentioned in the plans. This sounds a lot, but it cost the Council £23 Million just to replace a couple of bridges in Aerodrome Road. Much of this £400 Million is for projects unrelated to the redevelopment, such as Thameslink improvements at Cricklewood. What we need are major infrastructure projects which will give people clean, cheap and convenient alternatives to the car for their regular journeys. The only mooted scheme, the Brent Cross Railway has been scathingly written off by the Council, even though this could mitigate the effects of much of this traffic in all of these areas. That can only mean one thing - even more traffic jams. When people get sick of this, they move. When people move out, property prices drop.

Pleasant Street Scene - Am I the only person to notice how ugly the Council are making Barnet. In Mill Hill, the rather attractive flowerbeds now have ugly council sponsored advertisements for estate agents. Lamp posts have oval signs plugging obscure messages, designed solely to distract drivers from the road in front and to run people over. Nice shops and family businesses have deserted many high Streets to be replaced by bookies and fast food outlets which generate litter, smell and noise. A trip down Mill Hill Broadway on a Saturday evening used to be a pleasant affair. All we see now is litter and drunken yobs prowling. These sort of changes drive property prices down, once people start to notice.

Good Local Amenities - In Barnet Council Watch blog today, there is an expose on the policy of the council towards playing fields - sell 'em off is their clarion cry. There has been an ongoing campaign to get the council to reopen the Pavillion Road playing fields in Burnt Oak. What has happened? Nothing. My son plays football for Watling Club. Last season many matches were abandoned because the council, despite receiving fees for the football pitches, didn't maintain them during the wet weather. At a Hendon Residents forum meeting, I raised this point. Tory Councillor Hugh Rayner stood up and said "I often visit Burnt Oak Leisure ceentre and the facilities are fine". I responded "Do you ever go round the back and check on the football pitches" Councillor Rayner rather sheepishly responded "No".
If kids don't have positive outlets for their energy, they'll soon find negative ones. What will happen then to the value of the housing stock as gangs roam and drug use spirals up? Which brings us nicely on to

Low Crime - Barnet is historically quite a low crime area, where people of all races, creeds and colours get on. Barnet has the largest Jewish Community in the UK. How do they feel - here's a quote from a rather prominent Jewish commentator :-
due to the worrying rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in England, many Jews no longer feel safe
You may be relieved to know that the author of this comment doesn't live in Barnet. You'd probably be less relieved to know that he used to. In fact, up until May, he was a Councillor in Barnet. The author of this comment is ex Tory Barnet Councillor Richard F Weider. If people such as him, someone who was in a position to do something about it don't feel safe, what on earth is going on. There are many elderly and vulnerable Jewish People in Sheltered accomodation. The Jewish Chronicle has reported that they feel exposed to risk by the proposal to get rid of wardens. Barnet Council didn't even bother to do a proper risk assessment for this decision. They haven't considered the safety of those they have a duty of care to. No wonder people such as Richard Weider have no wish to grow old in Barnet. If Barnet's Jewish community decide to follow the lead of one of their most high profile local politicians and leave en mass, what will this do to the price of Barnet property.

I'm not writing this blog to scaremonger or try and force property prices down. I'm writing it to try and shake the citizens of London's finest Borough out of their torpor. All of the above issues could be combatted by an honest, brave and well lead council. If they were a bit more concerned with proper long term planning and a bit less concerned with getting free hospitality and huge allowances, maybe I'd not have to write this sort of blog.

If they don't get up off their rotund posteriors and start sorting these problems out, we may well find that Richard Weider was the most sensible of the lot of them and the rest of us are left in a ghetto of negative equity. Unlike some people, I'm not prepared to sit back and say nothing, if they want to ruin my town and destroy the value of my house, they'll have a fight on their hands.

I bet Mike Freer wishes he'd shook my hand on Tuesday now !

Couldn't help but snigger when I saw this report - Freer has Swine Flu. Just think, If he'd come up to me and shaken my hand at the Barnet business breakfast, maybe he'd have achieved his long time buddy, Brian Coleman's stated goal and silenced a Barnet Blogger for good.

Anyway Mike, hope you're feeling better, get well soon. I for one don't wish ill health on anyone - it's rather BAD FOR THE KARMA.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

What happens when the BNP win elections?

We now have BNP MEP's and a BNP GLA member. This lovely picture is the Leader of the BNP, Nick Griffen enjoying himself with Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the French National Front. It seems, from the picture, that the Leader of the BNP has settled right in at Strasbourg and is really enjoying life.

Call me stupid if you like, but I thought the BNP were anti EU? I took this picture from Simon Darby, deputy leader of the BNP's blog. There were some interesting comments. The one I liked most was this one:-
Simon, I have been waiting my whole life for these photos. Just spent the last hour reading '' The Voice of Freedom '' and then these photos to view. I am close to tears , we really did take on the establishment and come out smelling of roses.
So there you have it. He's been waiting his whole life to see a picture of Nick Griffen troughing at the home of the EU Parliament? What a strange bunch of Nationalists we have in Great Britain.

Our next stop is my favourite London Tory, Roger Evans blog. Roger is the chair of the GLA audit committee. Richard Barnbrooke, the BNP member elected last year is a member of this committee. Now the BNP were elected on a promise that they would shake things up and work tirelessly to expose our corrupt mainstream parties. What did Mr Barnbrooke have to say about all of the abuse, in his role of Audit panel member. Here's how Roger Evans reported it (Click here for the full blog) :-

Apologies for Absence

Dave Hill at The Guardian had expressed concerns about BNP member Richard Barnbrook's presence on the panel (the Assembly had to put him somewhere) particularly as reports about funding to minority organisations and politicians' expenses provided perfect material for one of his trademark rants. This was probably one of his best opportunities yet to make an impact since he was elected so he SENT HIS APOLOGIES!!!
In the year and a bit that Richard Barnbrooke has been at the GLA, he's managed 3 press releases (click HERE to see them). The last one was in October. Has nothing happened since then? You'd think that they'd at least pretend to try a bit harder.

In answer to my question, what happens when the BNP win elections? Nothing much. I suppose that's probably a good thing.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Boris must sack Brian Coleman for this misuse of his expenses.

Boris Johnson set a very useful precident with his treatment of Ian Clement's abuse of expenses. If you do not declare them accurately, you get the sack.

The Barnet Eye has uncovered a rather alarming discrepancy in Brian Coleman's declaration of his expenses. Boris knows what he must do now. Let me explain.

The Barnet Eye has a very useful rule. If you tell porkies and we find out, we tell the world. Brian Coleman told his closest friends in the Barnet Conservative Party that I'd been monstrously unfair to him regarding my blog last November about his Free Dinner register. Brian told his friends that I'd cruelly misrepresented the fact that he declared everything possible on his GLA register (even a pair of cheap cufflinks) whilst some of his colleagues were less transparent in their declarations. How has Brian Coleman acted since I ran the blog?

I recently followed up the story with an update detailing all of the free dinners since then. In the course of researching the blog, I found that the Tory Troll blog had uncovered an entirely different set of free dinners, not covered by the GLA list. This list was solely devoted to the free dinners Brian Coleman had as a result of his membership of the London Fire and Emergancy Planning Authority (LFEPA). The full list of this hospitality is listed at the bottom of this blog. So you've got it so far. A free dinner list for GLA work (as detailed by me) and a free dinner list for LFEPA work (as detailed by the Troll). Now Brian Coleman has two expense accounts. One for business conducted for his role as a GLA member and one for business conducted as a LFEPA member. If Brian Coleman's work as chairman of the LFEPA demands that he goes to a free dinner, requiring a cab home on LFEPA expenses, then the dinner must appear in the LFEPA free dinner list. Dave Hill of the Guardian reported that Brian Coleman ran up a near £400 taxi bill on his LFEPA account attending the Lord Mayors Banquet on the 10th November 2008. This dinner does not appear in the LFEPA list below. It does however appear on original GLA list in my November 2008 Blog as :-
Lord Mayor's Banquet at the Guildhall
The Lord Mayor and Sheriffs of the Corporation of London

Brian Coleman has declared that his attendance of the Banquet was on GLA not LFEPA business. He claimed the cab on his LFEPA taxi account. This is the man who told everyone that he "scrupulously declared every event, even if it wasn't really relevant". So why did he do this. Could it be because he knew his GLA expenses would be published and we'd spot it? The LFEPA expenses were only divulged after a Freedom of Information request was lodged.

Boris Johnson promised honesty and transparency in his regime. Quite apart from the fact that expecting the Taxpayer to foot a £400 bill is grounds enough for sacking, to try and hide it in this way is clearly not on. Boris really has no choice. He appointed Brian Coleman to the LFEPA chairmanship, with it's huge salary for a part time job (around £25,000 pa). How has Brian Coleman repaid him, to use it as a free taxi service for his other job. I really can't see how he can avoid sacking Coleman now?

Brian Coleman's LFEPA declarations (from the Tory Troll Blog).

Councillor Brian Coleman (LFEPA Chair)
  • Lunch on 27/9/07 provided by Deputy Fire Commissioner
  • Dinner on 23/10/07 provided by Sir Ken Knight
  • Lunch on 30/10/07 provided by Asset Co
  • Lunch on 26/11/07 provided by James Flynn, LFEPA Head of Communications
  • Dinner on 21/4/08 provided by Licensing Committee of the City of London Corporation
  • Lunch on 28/5/08 provided by Mr David Cartwright
  • Lunch on 2/7/08 provided by 4Ps
  • Dinner on 2/7/08 provided by T-Systems (sister company of T-Mobile)
  • Dinner on 17/7/08 provided by Sir Ken Knight
  • Dinner on 23/7/08 provided by Mr John Shannon
  • Lunch on 26/8/08 provided by Mr John Smith
  • Dinner on 1/12/08 provided by Chief Fire & Rescue Adviser
  • Harvey Nichols hamper provided by John Shannon Asset Co on 24/12/08
  • Dinner on 19/1/09 provided by John Shannon

Just how rubbish are Barnets Tories?

At the present time, politicians of all shades are under pressure. Excessive expenses and excessive allowances were order of the day. The public doesn't like it and the ruling classes are under pressure as never before.

One Councillor in Barnet, Geof Cooke, a Labour stallwart saw this and decided to do something. He tabled a motion proposing a cap on the rather generous allowances which Councillors can get. He thought it might restore trust in our local politicians.

How did the ruling Tories react?

They tabled an amendment which said

Council notes that the December 2007 report by the Labour-dominated Councillors Commission supported significant rises in allowances.
This is quite bizarre. They opposed it because Labour thought big pay rises for Politicians were a good idea back in 2007? So are we to believe that Mike Freer and his Tories think that the mark of a good policy is if Labour support it?

It seems so because Council Leader Mike Freer said later :-
The Government have made it abundantly clear that councillors should be recompensed for the duties they take on.

This blog has noted before that Mike Freer is the biggest Brownite in Britain. It's a funny old world. At the next election all of the staunchest Tories in the Borough will be voting for a Brownite Council pretending to be Tories. They've been completely taken in. I remember my Dad once saying that the quickest route to success for a Communist was to join the Tories and pretend to be one. It seems that maybe the same is now true for Brownites (the arguments he makes for Future Shape could be taken word for word from Gordon Brown's plans to sell of the Tube system under PPP and we all know how that worked out).

Apart from the 33 members of the Conservative group on Barnet Council, are there any other Tories in the Borough who disagree with Geof Cooke that Councillors should be limited in how many allowances they trouser?

If the Tories in Barnet had a clue, they would have nicked Geoff Cooke's idea and used it as their clarion cry at the next election. If I were the Labour Party, I'd hire an open top bus, plaster it with posters saying "We tried to get the Barnet Tories to curb their troughing, but they said "NO NO NO" " and I'd drive up and down Finchley Central High Street all day.

I'll tell you how rubbish Barnet's Tory Councillors are. They've just handed the Barnet Labour Party a massive propoganda coup, that if they have half a brain they could use to sling Freer and his mates out with.

I've a little suggestion. Next time you see a Barnet Tory Councillor, ask them if they voted against Geof Cookes motion. If they say "yes" - tell them that you will never vote for them again. If they say "no", then they are telling porkies and they don't deserve your vote.

P.S If anyone knows of any Tories who voted for Geoff Cooks motion, abstained or were not present - please leave a comment as such, so that we all know. I'd hate for any that did the decent thing or were laid up ill to be treated unfairly.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

A quick few words to Barnet Homes

I've been passed a stack of correspondence by a Mr Ron Muller who is a resident of Barnet Homes. He's been a tenant for some considerable time. I've a question for any of the Barnet Homes people who's responses I've read several times over. The rest of this blog is directed at the Barnet Homes staff who dealt with Mr Muller (and anyone else who wants to know how we treat our elderly in Barnet).

What is so unreasonable about Mr Muller saying he would prefer to take a bath rather than a shower, when every other tenant, who has indicated that they would prefer a shower has had their needs met?

Surely those of us in the twilight years of our lives deserve a little bit of respect and dignity. Are we so uncaring a society that we cannot budge just a little bit. I'd guess that by the time all of the admin & legal effort was taken into account, it would have been far cheaper to let him carry on having a bath. I hope that by the time I'm old enough to go into sheltered accomodation, society has developed enough to value our senior citizens and allow them the odd luxury, that most of us take for granted. Is it really that bad to say "actually, I'd prefer a bath to a shower"?

I help out with a charity which deals with the disabled. Sometimes I end up pushing around a person in a wheelchair. If we enter a shop, the assistant invariably talks to the person pushing the wheelchair, as if the person in it is a vegetable. The tone of your correspondence certainly reminds me of this mindset. Your comments about Mr Mullers situation rather shocked me.

You say :- "these decisions were made in full consultation with residents at the coffee mornings". This gives the game away. Mr Muller isn't a fool, he gave his opinion and was ignored. How would you feel if you had decision about your living arrangements imposed on you and when you queried it you were told that your neighbours had decided at a coffee morning?

I am appalled by the attitudes of a society where the vulnerable are so disenfranchised. Just because people can occasionally be a bit "difficult" makes them no less deserving of respect.

It seems to me that in far too many decisions concerning the elderly and the vulnerable in Barnet, the one group that are compeletely excluded from having a say are those who actually have to live with the repercussions of these decisions. This is true of Barnet Council with it's decision to scrap sheltered housing wardens. It is just as true with Barnet Homes decision to deprive an old boy of his preferred method of maintaining personal hygene.

Banks: Banking on the wrong kind of profit

Did you read any of the reports in the paper today about what the Government plans to do with all of the banks they bailed out? Well having, in effect, nationalised them, saving them from going bust, there is a cunning plan. UKIF (the organisation set up by the Government to manage the broken banks) will wait till the stock market goes up, then flog the shares at a great big profit. Real clever, isn't it? Just one little flaw in the plan. What happens if they don't go up? Duh !!!!! Of course they will, won't they. Well maybe you trust all of the fat cats who knackered them in the first place to sort the mess out. I don't. Gordon Brown hasn't flown a team of Martian financial experts in to do the job, apart from a few in the top layer, it's the same people who were there before.

The problems of the United Kingdom are not something that have just happened since Gordon Brown walked through the door. The decline of manufacturing has been going on ever since the 1950's under Tory and Labour. North West London used to be the worlds engineering powerhouse. Companies such as DeHavilland, Boosey and Hawkes and Van Den Plas were based locally. How many people do you know who actually make things today?

Why did they disappear? Ultimately because the banks preferred to lend money to companies which could turn in bigger, quicker profits. Property business exploded. Shops selling imports turned into massive chains. The little guy on the corner had a bad month? His overdraft was called in and he was off to the benefit office. If when Sir Fred Goodwin at RBS had his overdraft called in by the Government, he got a huge bung and a massive pension.

Reform the banks. Make them lend to the little guy. Make them moderate their profits and provide decent service. We, the taxpayer own them. We saved them. I've got RBS and Lloyds shares, but I'd much rather see a smaller more stable profit, than what we've had. The sad thing is that a bank dedicated to long term, income generating lending would transform the country. As it is, even a Labour Government purely sees the banks as a cash cow to be milked when the time is right.

I did wonder what the initials UKIF stand for. If we don't start lending to business, I suspect that it could well be "United Kingdom is F***ed"

Leader Listens - Business Breakfast report

If you run a business in Barnet, you should have received an invitation to North London Business Park for a Leader Listens session with Council Leader Mike Freer. It took place this morning between 7.30 am and 9.00 am. I hauled myself out of bed at 6.30 to go. Having finished working at 3am, this was a Herculean effort. Was it worth it?

Yes, actually it was. The guest speaker was Tom Nathan, general manager of Brent Cross. He put in a superb performance. I think anyone who runs a business benefits from listening to other people who are at the top of their game. Tom certainly gave me food for thought and I came away with a few notes for my own music business, which I really think will benefit the company. Toms message, simple and obvious though it should be was "listen to your customers and give them what they want".

Afterwards we had a question and answer session. This was reasonably lively. The main concern of small business in Barnet seems to be related to customer parking and the cost of it. Mike revealed that the council make a profit of about £2 million a year, which is ring fenced and ploughed back into pavement & highway improvements. I have no real criticism of that, although it is clear that the local schemes are open to improvement.

As it was a lively session, I didn't get to ask all of the questions I wanted, but I made my point about rates. Mike said he'd write to central Government about my suggestion that small startups be given a rates holiday to get going. This would boost employment and would be good for Barnet.

There has been criticism in some quarters that various councillors were not invited. Strangely enough, for this forum, I think that the Leader Listens format works. Getting a top businessman in and having the leader of the council & CEO (Nick Walkley) present means that small business people such as myself can :-

a) Learn something
b) Get our point over

For meetings with the general community, I think Mike should attend the residents forums, but discussions about business are different and the tone is different. It may surprise you to hear me praise a Mike Freer initiative, but I enjoyed the session and thought it was useful. I'm sure Mike will be pleased to know I'll most certainly be attending the next one (if I can get up).

I don't agree with Mike Freer on a whole host of issues, but it would be stupid and childish to criticise useful initiatives which benefit the people of Barnet.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Dear Brian .......

From : David Cameron, Leader of the Conservative Party

To : Brian Coleman GLA, Mayor of Barnet

Dear Brian,

As you know, there will be a general election next year. Since taking over as Leader of the Conservative Party, I've worked tirelessly to try and transform the Conservative Party into a party fit for the 21st Century. Whilst the Conservative Party is a broad church, in this day and age, it is vital for the party to be seen as open, honest and transparent in all of it's dealings with the public.

The days have gone forever where politicians can treat the public with disdain. We owe it to the people who place their faith in us with their votes and their support, to deliver value for money and transparency in return. Your failure to willingly declare your GLA expenses and your comments about the public not being entitled to know how you spend your money are not compatible with the standards I wish to set as Leader of the Conservative Party.

I have reviewed your various expense claims and as these are so monstrously inflated compared to the rest of the Conservative GLA members, I can only conclude that you are giving your colleagues a bad name, in many cases most unfairly.

Whilst I am in no position to force local constituency organisations to deselect candidates and whilst it is up to Boris to select who he pleases as head of the London emergency services, I can no longer stand by and see you drag the name of the Conservative party through the mud. I am asking you, for the sake of the people of Barnet, the people of London and the Conservative Party to resign.

Yours Sincerely

David Cameron

P.S I read the Barnet Eye and I think Rog T is great. I just wish he was a Tory !


In case you hadn't guessed, David Cameron didn't write this letter. I believe he should, that's why I drafted it for him. Do you think there is anything in it he'd disagree with?

The Brian Coleman Free Dinner register - July 2009 Update

Stop Press : The Barnet Eye has uncovered even more free dinners, hidden from the main GLA list and uncovered by the Tireless Tory Troll. I've added the new entries in in italics. These were in a FOI request sent to the London Fire Authority(LFEPA).
"How many dinners can a man gobble down,
before he gets the sack,
The answer my friend, is ask Boris Johnson,
The answer is ask Boris Johnson"

Since the inception of this blog, the most popular entry has been The Brian Coleman Free Dinner register - This was published on the 15th November 2008. The MINIMUM weekly visits to this blog page has been 61, most weeks it's far higher, especially when our much loved GLA representative is in the news. I suspect that if I deleted every blog other page I've written and just left this one, I would still have one of Londons favourite BLOGS !

It has been much copied, often without a hat tip (you naughty old sausages). Anyway, today, the day Brian Coleman bows to public pressure, I thought I'd give an update to your favourite story. So here it is - all Mr Coleman's hospitality since the 15th November blog.

Just remember though, Brian Coleman has said that the more you sponge, the harder you work. I remember Norman Tebbit telling benefit "spongers" - "get on your bike and find work" - Mr Coleman has transformed and rewritten the paradigm for the 21st Century "Get in your Taxi and find Dinner!" - Please note that not all of his taxi journeys are listed here. He claimed the £496 fare to the Lord Mayors dinner from his London Fire Brigade account, although the dinner is listed as GLA hospitality.

For your enjoyment, I've put in his taxi expenses for these engagements where he's claimed them back from the GLA.

By the way, please note :- The Barnet Eye in no way criticises Mr Coleman for receiving lots of hospitality. I'm told it's all scrupulously declared and well within the rules, as they stand. This list is purely provided to give bloggers, such as myself, who Mr Coleman quite righly describes as Mad, Bad and Sad a good chuckle, and the voters of Barnet and Camden the opportunity to see how hard Mr Coleman is prepared to work to further their interests. If eating dinner is the secret of hard work as he claims, Mr Coleman is still London's hardest working GLA member by a Country Mile !

Brian Coleman 18-JUN-09 Conservative Friends of Israel Annual
Business Lunch at the Dorchester
Lord Steinberg Andrew Heller Conservative Friends of Israel
Brian Coleman 13-MAY-09 Board of Deputies of British Jews
President's Dinner at the Park Lane Hotel
Mr Henry Grunwald QC President,
Board of Deputies of British Jews
Brian Coleman 02-MAY-09 Ticket for Barnet Football Club match against
Port Vale, lunch and refreshments
Mr Robert Shutler Metropolitan Development Consultancy
Brian Coleman 15-APR-09 Two tickets for Spring Remembrance Concert at the
Wigmore Hall in Memory of Armenian Victims of 1915
Mr Vahe Gabrielyan, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia
Brian Coleman 31-MAR-09 Heron International Annual Luncheon at the
Dorchester Hotel
Mr Gerald Ronson Heron International
Brian Coleman 19-MAR-09 dinner at the Adjournment, Portcullis House,
House of Commons SW1 Mr Ross Lydall The Scotsman
Brian Coleman 12-MAR-09 Lunch for myself and my mother at Italian Restaurant in
High Cross Shopping Centre, Leicester
Mr Tom Nathan, General Manager,
Brent Cross Shopping Centre
Brian Coleman 02-MAR-09 Community Security Trust Annual Dinner at
Grosvenor House Hotel
Mr Gerald Ronson, Chairman, Community Security Trust
Brian Coleman 24-FEB-09 Dinner at the Bulgarian Embassy Dr Lachezar Matev,
Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria
Taxi 32.83 24/02/09 N3 to Hyde Park Gate, SW7
18.13 24/02/09 Hyde Park Gate, SW7 to N3
Dinner on 19/1/09 provided by John Shannon (LFEPA)
Brian Coleman 14-JAN-09 Lunch at Strada, More London Tim Donovan, BBC London
Brian Coleman 13-JAN-09 Dinner at the Toby Carvery Motel, Borehamwood
Mill Hill Rotary Club in return for speaking engagement
Brian Coleman 09-JAN-09 Lunch at the Haven Restaurant in Whetstone N20
Ms Emer Coleman
Brian Coleman 08-JAN-09 London Government Dinner at the Mansion House
The Lord Mayor of London
Brian Coleman 27-DEC-08 Bottle of Kosher Wine
Tzivos Hashem Organisation
Harvey Nichols hamper provided by John Shannon Asset Co on 24/12/08 (LFEPA)
Brian Coleman 23-DEC-08 Bottle of Bushmills Malt Whisky
Mr and Mrs Rico Andreopoulos
Brian Coleman 22-DEC-08 Bottle of Glenlivet Whisky
Mr Mark Styles, Managing Director, Thomann-Hanry
Brian Coleman 22-DEC-08 Bottle of Armenian Brandy
Mr Vahe Gabrielyan Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia
Brian Coleman 18-DEC-08 Lunch in Restaurant at Brent Cross Shopping Centre
Mr Tom Nathan General Manager,
Brent Cross Shopping Centre
Dinner on 1/12/08 provided by Chief Fire & Rescue Adviser (LFEPA)
Brian Coleman 22-NOV-08 Dinner in honour of the Mayor and Councillors of Morphou
at the Greek Cypriot Community Centre,
Brittania Road, N12 9RU
Mr Chris Ioannou, Chairman, Morphou Area Organisation
Brian Coleman 21-NOV-08 Sikh Forum International Annual Dinner and
Sikh of the Year Award at Lincoln's Inn
Mr Ranjit Singh OBE Chairman, Sikh Forum International
Brian Coleman 12-NOV-08 Middlesex University Civic Dinner
Professor Michael Driscoll,
Vice Chancellor of Middlesex University
Brian Coleman 11-NOV-08 Two tickets for Music for Youth Concert at the
Royal Albert Hall and refreshments
Michael C Doughty, Music for Youth
Taxi 58.57 11/11/08 Taxi Royal Albert hall to N2 & N3
96.03 11/11/08 Taxi N2 & City Hall
to Royal Albert Hall Sw7

The following gifts/hospitality were in the period covered by the previous blog but not included on it
  • Lunch on 27/9/07 provided by Deputy Fire Commissioner
  • Dinner on 23/10/07 provided by Sir Ken Knight
  • Lunch on 30/10/07 provided by Asset Co
  • Lunch on 26/11/07 provided by James Flynn, LFEPA Head of Communications
  • Dinner on 21/4/08 provided by Licensing Committee of the City of London Corporation
  • Lunch on 28/5/08 provided by Mr David Cartwright
  • Lunch on 2/7/08 provided by 4Ps
  • Dinner on 2/7/08 provided by T-Systems (sister company of T-Mobile)
  • Dinner on 17/7/08 provided by Sir Ken Knight
  • Dinner on 23/7/08 provided by Mr John Shannon
  • Lunch on 26/8/08 provided by Mr John Smith
Click here for full details of how a £12 Million contract was awarded to one of the companies providing this hospitality.