Wednesday, 30 November 2011

YouTube - High handed and not customer focused and discriminating against small artists

I'm not at all impressed with YouTube. My band made this video of a track written and performed by the Band

We own the copyright to the song and the video. We recently took advantage of the ability to monetize the video, by adding Google Adwords to it. Whilst this is unlikely to bring in more than a bit of pocket money at the moment, in these hard times, every little helps.

Today I got this email :-

YouTube Help Centre | email options | report spam

Dear RogTex,

Thanks for submitting your video Put me in the Spotlight - Koni with The False Dots Official Video for revenue sharing. We have disabled revenue sharing on this video for one of the following reasons:
  • You have not provided adequate documentation that you have the necessary rights to use all the video material and music commercially or
  • We have determined that the content is not advertiser-friendly.
Note that YouTube might disable revenue sharing for accounts that have repeatedly not been able to prove commercial usage rights for videos submitted for revenue sharing. If you would like to disable revenue sharing on your videos you may opt them out by logging in to your YouTube account and visiting
If you have additional questions, please visit our Help Centre at
Thanks for your understanding,
The YouTube Team

Now this is clearly a device to stop Youtube being prosecuted for copyright violation. The stuff about the video not being advertiser friendly is purely a smokescreen. What annoys me is that I own the copyright and there is no mechanism for appealing this decision.  This policy clearly is high prejudicial against independent and unsigned artists. I can understand that YouTube doesn't make a fortune from such things generally, but just suppose the clip goes viral and starts attracting masses of hits? Us as the artist will lose out big time.

I have no objection to a suspension, or a request for further information, but I have a big objection to an arbitary decision to prevent me from earning money from a piece of artwork of which I am the copyright holder.  As to the "Thank You for Your Understanding" - as far as I'm concerned, I have no understanding at all for how such a rich corporation can be so high handed and treat it's customers so shioddily. You Tube are a bunch of pisstakers.

Barnet Local residents forum 29/11/2011 - Larches Trust Edgware

Last night, the Barnet Alliance for Public Services held a residents forum, for local people to air their grievances about life in Barnet. There were five main groups of people in a well attended meeting.

1. Local members of the public, inspired to come along by the policies of the local authority (Barnet Council). They were generally concerned about cuts to welfare for people who need support, cuts to budgets for youth services and parks and the insane parking policies of Barnet Council.

2. Members of the local Labour party. Councillor Alan Schneiderman, GLA Candidate Andrew Dismore and a bevvy of other activists.

3. Regular BAPS members, who are generally interested in Barnet politics, but as keen, if not more so to discuss the global issues of capitalism, finance and dodgy bankers.

4. A few interested onlookers, who said nothing, but occasionally clapped vigourously and nodded their head when points (parking, parks and welfare). This group seemed more interested in local issues than the discussions on the relative merits of the global financial system, but not being a mindreader, that is my take on their views.

5. The local Conservative Councillors and MP's.  Unlike previous meetings, they were represented at this meeting. In fact they were represented by a world famous figure, who has been represented in many books and movies. Yup, the invisible man turned up. Sadly he had nothing to say (sorry guys, couldn't resist the dig).

The first three groups of people all had a lot to say. The meeting was ably chaired by Alan Sloam, a former Barnet Councillor, who genuinely seemed to enjoy chairing a public meeting. I missed the first half of the meeting. I came in as Andrew Dismore gave a masterclass in dissection of the inept parking changes in Barnet. Whatever you think of Dismore, he certainly is a detail man. An issue such as parking is made for him. He won universal approval from the audience (after the meeting a couple of people told me they'd voted Tory in May, but would definately vote for Dismore to see the back of Coleman. People seem to know who is to blame for the parking fiasco.)

Another member of the Labour party spoke up for the policies of the previous government and explained how many people who had benefitted from schemes for young people in Barnet were suffering because of the policies of the council/government.

Councillor Schneiderman commented on the difficulty scrutinising One Barnet projects. He stated that the devil was in the detail and that the focus should be on individual service areas. He also commented that the parking changes could kill town centres (wide applause).

A BAPS member stated that the he was a member of the Coalition against the Cuts. He berated Labour for allowing cuts in Camden and other Labour Boroughs and stated that this was worse than Tory cuts. At this point, I reminded the audience that One Barnet was conceived long before the current crisis. The project started as Future Shape, shortly after Brian Coleman and Mike Freer arranged a palace coup and deposed Brian Salinger as leader, shortly after the May 2006 Council elections.

Julian Silverman, as vice chair, reminded the audience that the crisis was far wider than just Barnet. He explained that we needed root and branch reform of the financial services industry.

A local resident suggested that councillors should not chair Council run residents forums. The chair should be selected by the residents present.

Linda Evans, one of the local carers, discussed the hardships being caused by Council policies. She discussed the role of the CADDS organisation, which represents carers (and has been discussed on guest blogs by Janet Leifer here). She explained how CADDS had managed to reverse some seriously bad decisions. She detailed one, where a man who couldn't take himself to the toilet had his night care removed. She also discussed how Barnet Council has form for performing surveys of carers and then ignoring and burying the results.

Alan Sloam added that at a conference, a care worker in Barnet discussed the importance of parents with disabled parents putting in care plans for when they die. Apparently, despite there being a clear need, in Barnet at present only 7 out of 2,000 parent carers have lodged a care plan. This is due to rise to 12 by the end of the year.

Nagus Naren, subject of ridicule and abuse at a Hendon & District Residents forum earlier this year, for her Sri Lankan accent, from Councillor John Hart, who was the chair (and paid for the role), explained how Barnet Council has lost all credibility due to its toleration of such behaviour. She was visibly upset as she recounted the issue (This blog is disgusted that there are apologists for Hart who seem to think his behaviour was OK and that just because the committee delivered a perverse judgement, doesn't mean that it is all OK).

And with that, the meeting rapped up at 9.15. A motion was passed to deliver the minutes of the meeting to Barnet Council. I wonder what they will do with them?

There is something about all of this that does bother me. Again Conservative Councillors were invited. Again none bothered to come. Out of the 37 of them, surely there must be at least one who is eloquent,witty and able to handle a public meeting. That cannot be the issue. The issue must be that none of them agree with the policies that their council is implementing in relation to parking and One Barnet. I suspect that the only two councillors who think the parking fiasco is a good idea are Rams and Coleman. The rest are too scared. As for One Barnet, I don't think a single Barnet Conservative really has a clue what it is all about. Last night I was told of a very interesting conversation between Brian Coleman and someone present at the meeting regarding One Barnet. I'm sworn to secrecy, but lets just say that even the man who thinks the parking changes are a good idea has his reservations about One Barnet.

One thing I've learned over the years about people is that if something doesn't affect them, generally they don't care. They go with the flow. However, when they become the victims of injustice, they care passionately and for a very long time. Let me give you an example. At school, I received the cane so many times, I can't recall them all. Most of the time, I'd done something which transgressed the school rules and I accepted it. There were however three times when I got into serious trouble and I felt that I'd been treated unfairly by the school. To this day I remember these instances in minute detail and feel a sense of being wronged. That is why I believe we could have some interesting results in elections in the coming years.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Viva La bloggers !

Have a look in the sidebar at the right of this blog. There are four blogs by the other four bloggers who make up the famous five bloggers of Barnet. All four are about completely different subjects, all four are important. None of the subjects are covered adequately in the local press.Viva la bloggers !

Public Sector Workers Strike 30th Nov 2011

Picket lines in Barnet on 30 November

Barnet council sites:
North London Business Park N11 1NP (from 7am)
Barnet House N20 0EJ (from 7am)
Mill Hill Depot NW7 1BL (from 6am)
Hendon Library NW4 4BQ (from 9am)
Chipping Barnet Library EN5 4QT (from 9am)

Barnet College:
Wood Street EN5 4AZ and Grahame Park NW9 5RA (from 7.30am)

Middlesex University:
Hendon campus, The Burroughs

Civil service:
Barnet County Court, Regent’s Park Road, N3 1BQ
Berkeley House, 302-304 Regents Park Road N3 2JY

No coverage of Tambourides case on Hendon Times website

I must say I'm rather surprised that there has been no mention of the Tambourides standards case on the Hendon Times website. The story has been made lead story on the Press website. Just asking...

Monday, 28 November 2011

Rog T's Cancer blog - What is the point of being alive?

Ok, so this is the latest installment in my occasional series about how I'm adjusting to living with a big C in my life. For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts, you can skip this first paragraph. For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary. I'm 49 years old and I recently had a prostate biopsy following two "slightly high" PSA tests - 2.8 & 4.1. The biopsy took ten tissue samples and one of these showed a "low grade cancer" which gives me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I'm now on a program of active monitoring. I've no symptoms and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?

Todays post is a bit long, a bit rambling and a bit of a braindump of my thoughts today.

So today has been a very grim day for me. I had some bad news. One of my best friends has been having chemo for five months and has just found out that the tumour hasn't shrunk enough to be operable. Although the primary tumour hasn't grown, it has spread to other places. He's on morphine for the pain. On the bright side, he's a Man Utd fan and he's got tickets for the match vs Crystal Palace. Given his recent luck, I'd be tempted to put a fiver on Palace. It was a grim call, perhaps made grimmer because I promised to update another friend when I heard the news, so I had to have the conversation twice.

Now as someone with a far better prognosis, it sent me into a very depressed state of mind. What do you do? How do you deal with such things? It's bad enough getting your head around your own issues, but this was a really unwelcome bit of news. I used to deal with such news by going to the pub and getting hammered (and believe me that isn't ruled out completely tonight), but I have another method of dealing with such setbacks these days. I went to the gym and gave myself a pretty tough work out. I set myself a 50 minute hill course on setting 11. The physical strain of dealing with the hill sections, followed by the resting sections was fairly distracting. As I had to choose a bike, I had the choice of the News or watching Dita Von Tees on "Loose Women". In my depressed state, I chose Von Tees, strangely this did the trick of taking my mind off the black thoughts and issues (that and the physical strain of the workout). Although Von Tees isn't really my cup of tea looks wise, she is a great burlesque dancer and I guess I'd recommend her show as a distraction for morbid thoughts.

One of the things which I've been advised is to try and reduce my stress levels. A question I had asked myself is whether I need the stress of writing this blog. It is an interesting question, because I know of one blogger who gave it all up because the stress of blogging got too much. The thing is, however I look at it, the blogging isn't the stressful thing. The stress comes from knowing that all of the crap I write about is being perpetrated on the people of Barnet. It is rather interesting to note that certain people have started leaving all manner of nasty and snide messages on their twitters and in the local paper, since I first mentioned about the diagnosis. Is it a coincidence? Do they think that they could kill me or stress me out enough to stop blogging "on health reasons?".  Well if that is the reason, then think again chaps. The first question I asked myself when I got the diagnosis is "what is the point of being alive?". The point hasn't changed. We all have our own set of beliefs and we all have our different view on why we are here. Some believe that their is no point to us being here and that while we are here, we'll take as much as possible and give as little back as possible. Some of us believe we are are here for a reason, even if we don't understand that reason and we are here to try and make some sort of difference. When I read some of the unsolicited emails I receive from people who appreciate the blog, I realise that it has a purpose and it helps people. So what if I get a few trolls leaving stupid and ignorant messages in the electronic ether? Am I such a coward or so lazy that it matters to me? Dream on.

As I come to terms with my situation, I realise that it gives me a better insight into the condition we all have, the human condition. I've learned much since the diagnosis. I've learned that I've made a few lifestyle mistakes, through ignorance. I've learned that the government ( not just the current one) has badly let down all of us, by not educating us as to our eating habits. I've learned that many more people than I realised have had brushes with cancer. I've realised that those of us who are fit and well (yes, that's me. I have no symptoms) need to do far more to raise money for research and give time to support those who are not fit and well.

I also think I've solved something which has bothered me since I was a child. There are so many beautiful things in the world that have been destroyed. Of the seven wonders of the world, only the pyramids are left. In London, not a day seems to go by without a landmark or a much loved building going. I've always wondered why, if there is a God or some sort of supreme being, such destruction can come to pass. As I said, I had a moment of enlightenment. It's so we learn the value of things. If nothing beautiful could ever be destroyed, how could we ever understand it's value or have a reason to fight for it. Would a world where we could take everything for granted, really be a better world?

Which takes us back to my condition and yours too my friend. With my condition, I believe I can do something to improve it and I am trying. Now maybe you are in that position as well. If you are then, give some serious thought to making a few changes. That starts by identifying the things which may make you ill. For most of us, a few monor changes will make a huge difference. Then there are those of you who perhaps can't change their lot. Maybe, just maybe, you could help you loved ones avoid the things which you are going through.

So in answer to the title of this blog today, the point is to try and make a difference. Hopefully a difference for the better. And in the words of Steve Miller from 1969 - Don't you let nobody turn you around - strangely enough, as grim a day as it was, in a strange way, I feel far better in my own mind about myself. Maybe some sort of corner has been turned.

Is Barnet Council Institutionally Racist?

Having seen my email following the blog concerning the John Hart standards committee whitewash, following a complaint for overtly racist behaviour, one has to ask this question. Is Barnet Council institutionally racist?

How many senior execs are from an Afro Caribbean background? Whilst a huge number of staff at junior levels (the ones that do the hard work) are from ethnic minorities, how does this translate to the top level of the council? Who was on the committee which dismissed the complaint about John Hart? Was there anyone who might actually have understood the hurt that such a patronising insult may have caused? Of course the details of the committee are secret, so we are not allowed to know, are we?

How can we still be here so long after Stephen Lawrence?

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Barnet Council - Where racism is OK if someone annoys you

I thought I'd seen everything from Barnet Council. Sadly I was wrong. Earlier this year, Councillor John Hart behaved in a reprehensible way towards a member of the public at a meeting of the Hendon and District residents forum, of which he was the chairman. The facts of the case, which are not in dispute were that a member of the local Sri Lankan community (who is also a long standing Barnet resident and teacher at one of Barnets best schools) asked Mr Hart a question. He responded by repeating her comment in a "comedic" Indian accent. The lady felt affronted and asked if Mr Hart was being racist, to which he replied that she should take it up with the "race relations council". As there were 30 people present at the meeting, there was not exactly a shortage of witnesses. It was widely expected that Hart would be ostracised and thrown out of the Tory group.

The lady raised a standards complaint against Mr Hart and he was removed as chairman of the committee. Whilst I was shocked that Tory group didn't suspend Mr Hart, I was assured that this was merely because they wanted to hear the outcome of the Standards committee. Sadly this has just been released and it seems that they have taken leave of their senses and produced a complete whitewash. Hart has been exhonourated and it seems that it is all the fault of the lady herself for not sitting quietly during the meeting.

Here is the verdict.

(a) that the facts found and accompanying details are not sufficient to warrant a finding that paragraph 3(1) of the Code (You must treat other with respect), has been breached.  There is no doubt that Councillor John Hart was unwise to repeat the complainant’s words whilst imitating her voice (section 4.7.3(b) of the Investigator’s report) and that this is a reprehensible occurrence which he should never repeat.  However, the Sub-Committee do not consider that the circumstances surrounding it warrant a conclusion that what Councillor John Hart did was sufficiently abusive, offensive or direct to come within the criteria set out by the decided cases.  The Sub-Committee makes the same point regarding Councillor John Hart saying to the complainant that she could take up any complaint with the Race Relations Council.  Councillor John Hart’s remarks were unpleasant and unnecessary but that in itself is not sufficient to justify a finding of failure to show respect given the standard set by judges in the High Court and the statutory tribunals.  This conclusion is further endorsed by the requirement set by the courts and tribunals to take into account the accompanying circumstances.  In this instance, the finding that the complainant and a regular number of other persons at, and prior to, this meeting had made the chairing of the meetings difficult at times by virtue of their conduct (section 4.7.3(e) of the Investigator’s report), significantly weakens any justification there might have been for finding a breach of paragraph 3(1);

The committee went on to reject the complaint.

Doesn't it occur to the committee that the complainant wasn't on trial? She hadn't signed up to a code of conduct like Hart and she didn't receive a huge allowance like Hart for chairing the committee. All such committee's have people attending who can be difficult. This ruling states that racial abuse is acceptable if members of the public regularly attend and annoy the chairman of the committee.

As far as I'm concerned, this judgement is a complete disgrace and a new low point for Barnet Council. I am truly disgusted.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Parking in Barnet Special - Read this if you are against the changes

If you are a Barnet resident and you are not happy about the changes to parking arrangements, be it the abolition of Pay and Display, the massive hike in CPZ charges, the hike in high street parking costs (scratchcards cost £2 minimum, pay by phone costs £1), the time has come to make your feelings known.

The changes are being driven by one man, Councillor Brian Coleman, who is the cabinet member for parking (otherwise known as the Borough Parking Supremo). Next year, Brian Coleman stands for election to the GLA. If he gets re-elected, he keeps his £50,000 a year allowance for a part time "non job". The sole role of the GLA is to keep an eye on Mayor Boris Johnson and make sure he does his job. The GLA has no power other than to advise the mayor. Whilst Boris may like to have a few friendly faces on the committee, the presence of Coleman on that committee will actually make no difference to him whatsoever.

So if you are a Tory who is heartily sick of Brian Coleman, but thinks Boris Johnson is doing a marvellous job, then you can send a message to the Barnet Conservative Party, loud and clear as to what you think of Mr Coleman and his parking charges. For each area (Coleman stands in Barnet and Camden) the Tories will know how many people voted for Boris and didn't vote for Coleman. The election is next May. I suspect that a massive boycott of Brian Coleman will be the most powerful message that the ordinary residents of Barnet could possibly send. If Barnet Council won't listen to the residents when we make a reasonable case, the time has come to turf them out on their backside.

Friday, 25 November 2011

The Friday Joke - 25/11/2011

A teacher says, "OK class, I'd like you all to tell me what you need at home."
Susie says, "We need a computer."
Wendy says, "We could do with a car."
Johnny says, "We don't need anything Miss."
Teacher says, "Come on Johnny everyone needs something?"
Johnny says, "My Dad says that Barnet Council put Brian Coleman in charge of parking and that's all we need!"
Have a great weekend

The One Barnet Program Strategy explained

“And one should bear in mind that there is nothing more difficult to execute, nor more dubious of success, nor more dangerous to administer than to introduce a new order of things; for he who introduces it has all those who profit from the old order as his enemies, and he has only lukewarm allies in all those who might profit from the new.”
- Niccolò Machiavelli

(with thanks to

Andreas Tambourides guilty of breaching Barnet Council Standards code

Yesterday Barnet Councillor Andreas Tambourides was found guilty of breaching the Standards code of Barnet Council. His punishment? He has to go on a training course and write an apology to Councillor Kate Salinger, who he circulated scurrillous lies about.

The Barnet Eye ha one question. Is it appropriate that this man, who clearly hasn't got a clue how to conduct himself, is fit to remain as a member of the Standards Committee, where he has to judge others?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Barnet Tory Blogger Dan Hope attacks the Barnet Eye and praises Brian Coleman

I got an email today from a reader of this blog asking if I was fed up with Barnet Tory blogger Dan Hope AKA TheBarnetBugle making snide comments about me and my blog. My response? Mr Hope has banned me from viewing his twitter feed so he can say what he likes and I'd never be any the wiser. Anyway, as I do have a way of checking what he is saying, I thought I'd have a peek and sure enough, Mr Hope is chipping away with snide comments, safe in the knoweldge that I don't see them. So having reviewed them, I can now answer the question. Nope, I'm not fed up. If Mr Hope wants to make bitchy comments, it's a free country and good luck to him, I suppose it makes him happy. What was far more interesting was the fact that Mr Hope seems to have decided that it is a good time to jump on the BackBrianColeman bandwagon for the GLA Elections and has posted a stream of Twitter posts praising the good Councillor Coleman. Again it's a free country and one shouldn't be too surprised that a Tory activist and former Councillor supports their GLA candidate, but it is rather a volte face for Mr Hope given some of his previous comments. Like many Barnet Tories, Hope is rather too concerned with Town Hall politics to give a stuff how this may affect residents and businesses in Barnet. Here is one typical Tweet from Hope, praising Coleman for his effectiveness in the Town Hall.

Got to give #BrianColeman credit. He is running rings around Cornelius and the Cons Group over scratchcards. Killing them with detail.

Clearly Hope thinks that a BIG FISH like Coleman shafting "lesser" colleagues and local traders is creditworthy. 

Here's another praising Coleman for his stance at County Hall calling for action against brothels

#BrianColeman urges the Met to rid Suburbs of brothels. @mayoroflondon agrees and condemns papers who take their adverts #mqt

Hope is clearly keen to show that the Tory Mayor fully backs Colemans populist initiative.

Now all of this doesn't really matter at all apart from one thing. It illustrates that despite the many Barnet Conservative misgivings about Brian Coleman, when it comes down to it, they all secretly admire him and back him to the hilt. He just says the the things they think, but are too scared to actually say most of the time

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Calling All Musicians - Fight restrictions on live entertainment

Amendments to the Live Music bill under presently under consideration.
The Music Industries Association, in conjunction with Music UK are close to overturning the needless process that is preventing so many small businesses and venues from holding music events.
A restriction in live music events reduces the demand for musical instruments.
The full story can be found by clicking here
You can contribute to a successful outcome for this crucial campaign by writing personally. Either as a musician by clicking here or as a person with commercial interests by clicking here

Help to protect your livelihood, and that of thousands of others involved in the broad range of activities which facilitate the playing of live music.
Please construct and send a personal letter, based upon the appropriate template.

Our combined efforts will make the difference.

Guest Blog by Janet Leifer - The Way Social Services have changed

By Janet Leifer,

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) used to assess the Council's adult social care services each year to make sure they were of a high standard. This will not happen anymore.  Councils will be required to produce a self-assessment document each year called a Local Account. Local people will be able to establish how well their Adult Social Care services are performing against national and local priorities.  Recently Cllr Rajput, the cabinet member responsible for Adult Social Care and Health asked for questions about the services provided by this department in the local press.
I do not think service users and carers, such as my husband and I, have the faintest idea of what this means or the implications.  When the councillor, who is the cabinet member for Adult Social Care, asked residents of Barnet for questions about Adult Care Services, I was puzzled and distrusted the motives for this request.  Together with a group of other concerned and mystified service users and carers in the London Borough of Barnet we composed the following response:
“An open letter to Cllr Rajput, Cabinet member for Adult Social Service
Dear Cllr. Rajput,
On 24 October, only 3 weeks ago, you sent a letter to voluntary sector organisations in Barnet, asking them to collect from their networks of users ideas for the borough's first Local Account. In your letter you wrote:
'Please help us to create our Local Account by telling us:
1.      Which social care services you would like us to particularly focus on in our Local Account
2.      What information in particular about these services you would find interesting to know, and what would help you to judge how successful they are
3.      How we could best present and publish this information
We need your ideas by Friday 19 November 2011. '
As a group of people who have used Barnet adults social care over the past year, we have experienced a lot of cuts to our services and have been seriously affected by the changes to social care policies. We have been talking with carers and people who use various services in the borough, most of whom have experienced a deteriorating quality of life, growing risk to their health and well-being, frustration and feeling of abandonment in the face of these changes. Therefore we are puzzled about your motives in asking for service-users and carers' help in producing this Local Account. Can you please explain what a local account is and what will it be used for?
However, since you ask which services we would like information about , as a result of our conversations with service-users and carers, the following are the areas we are concerned about:
  1. The effects of the Fairer Contribution policy of charging for support services on service-users and carers; how many service-users have cut down their use of services?
  2. Barnet's use of outside contractors to provide care services - how does the council monitor and evaluate them?
  3. The involvement of carers in Needs Assessments and reviews of the people they care for – how fully is it implemented?
  4. Services for people with learning disabilities – how do they address these service-users' full needs and dignity?
  5. Older people's services
  6. Services for people suffering mental ill health

While we would have welcomed a genuine attempt to evaluate services for the sake of serving the best interests of users and carers, we have concerns that gathering the information you appeal for is impossible with such  short notice. Is it really possible to collect objective and valid data, which will represent accurately the state of affairs of adults social services, including hard-to-reach groups of users, in such a short space of time? The requested date of 19th November for replies does not allow for a reliable and valid response either from voluntary sector organisations or service users and their carers.  In these circumstances the overall concern is that the survey results will be unreliable and invalid, and will be used as an appearance of a democratic public consultation, and a whitewash of the harsh reality many social services' users and carers face.  We are concerned that since you, Cllr Rajput, are responsible both for the cuts in adults social services and for a self-assessment of them, this Local Account cannot be genuine and objective.
Janet Leifer, on behalf of
CADDSS – Campaign Against Destruction of Disabled Support Services
Janet Leifer is a Barnet Resident. Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye.

Barnet Council Pay and Display - Latest update

The Hendon and District residents forum last night reported  the latest status on Pay and Display parking. The scheme to introduce Scratchcards is to be implemented as follows :-

Target date for implementation is Monday 5 December but we
are in the hands of the printers

Scratch cards will cost £2 each; the minimum amount purchased
in a single transaction is four cards

From early December they will be available online to purchase
from the Parking web page

They will not be available to purchase through libraries

Retailers will be able to sell Scratch Cards if they wish but there
will be no discount.

This was reported at the Hendon & District residents forum yesterday (papers here)

It is quite clear that Barnet Council is making it as difficult and expensive as possible for residents to use the scheme. Not selling them via libraries is scandalous. Many people visit libraries such as Mill Hill which are in pay and display areas. It is ridiculous that someone visiting the library and parking near it cannot purchase the scratchcard there. It is also scandalous that cheapest scratchcard is £2, when the cheapest pay by phone charge is £1. For many people on a quick visit to purchase milk or a paper, this becomes an extortionate charge, costing two or three times the cost of the purchase item.

Surely this is discriminatory against those with no phone. As to the proposal that retailers have to pay the full mark up for the cards, this is completely ridiculous. Does no one in Barnet understand the concept of business. I'm most disappointed that a Council run by a small businessman (Richard Cornelius runs a jeweller) has come up with such a scheme.

The former leader of Barnet Council (now MP for Finchley), Mike Freer, used to have regular "Leader Listens Business Breakfasts". I attended a couple of these meetings.They were useful forums for traders to air such issues and to suggest improvements to the implementation of such schemes. Sadly these were quietly dropped under Lynne Hillans leadership and completely abandoned under Cornelius. As the small business community are generally Conservative leaning and the council is lead by a small businessman, it is truly bizarre that the sector is so crassly ignored.

Before the last election, the Barnet Eye launched a proposal for 1/2 hour free parking in Mill Hill Broadway (our local shopping centre), with a view to rolling the scheme out across Barnet. This would be a massive boost for local traders in a time of economic hardship. Although the retailers universally supported the proposal and the local Tory Councillors agreed that it should be looked at, once elected the Tories forgot this. Under Brian Coleman (Barnet Councillor responsible for parking) they have gone in the opposite direction and become more expensive and more difficult to pay.

The Barnet Eye calls for an urgent review of parking across Barnet. The Federation of Small Business (FSB) has backed the proposals for 1/2 hour free parking in town centres. This seems a sensible compromise. The Barnet Eye supports the following proposals for parking in Barnet :-

1. Free Parking for 1/2 hour in all Town Centres
2. Scratch Cards for all amounts payable by mobile phone
3. A 30% discount on all scratchcard for retailers
4. Scratchcards to be on sale at all local libraries
5. A review of the CPZ parking charges, with a view to a more equitable scheme
6. Removal of the free permit for Barnet Councillors.

Of course this will cost money. Times are hard and the Council will say "typical blogger, suggesting unfundable schemes". There is a simple way to fund this. There is one area of Barnet High Streets that are thriving, which add nothing to the community. This is betting shops. There has been much discussion as to the explosion in numbers of these and the detrimental effect on the High Street. My solution would be to fund the above High Street changes by increasing the cost of a betting shop license to pay for it. I believe that these changes would make the Barnet High Streets a far better place to open a business. If it lead to a reduction in the number of betting shops, even better. Barnet Council has no strategy for improving the local High Streets, beyond the rather unConservative idea of getting a handout from the taxpayer in the form of a bung from the Mayor (as seen in the scheme to tart up High Barnet).

I have discussed these ideas with a couple of more sensible Conservative Councillors and they agreed that the ideas warranted further investigation. Sadly their senior colleagues seem less than interested. From what I've heard they should think again

Monday, 21 November 2011

Read this if you don't want to die of cancer - Rog T's Cancer blog

Ok, for those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts, you can skip this first paragraph. For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary. I'm 49 years old and I recently had a prostate biopsy following two "slightly high" PSA tests - 2.8 & 4.1. The biopsy took ten tissue samples and one of these showed a "low grade cancer" which gives me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I'm now on a program of active monitoring. I've no symptoms and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?

Right, so we're all up to speed. Most of my friends have read the blog. Most have asked "are you ok?". Physically? Yup great, played football twice this week, went to the gym 3 times, feel pretty good. I've no symptoms at all. I'm not tired, I've stopped peeing blood following the biopsy and the plumbing works fine for all requirements. Got the picture. So am I OK? Now I'm not. If I'm being honest (and who would lie to their blog), I'm not F**King ok at all. The problem? Sadly it's all psychological. You see, there really is nothing wrong with me, but every waking hour (apart from when I play music or football or drink copious amounts of beer, or write blogs about whatever I write blogs about) all I think is "oh f**k, I've got cancer". Now I'm as positive a person as you can get, I am not given to depression. I'm also pretty damn strong. So what do you do? Well, I've been working ten times as hard, training ten times as hard, to fill up all that time and take my mind off it. The trouble is that sooner or later, you have to think about it. In all those gaps, when you chill out and relax, the brain starts going at 100 mph thinking "Shit, Shit, Shit". What's worse is the fact it's all completely illogical. I have no symptoms and no medical effects from it.

 It also invades my mind and destroys the most simple pleasures. Every time I see an attractive woman, do I think "she looks nice"? Nope, I think "s**t, I may have to have an operation at some point which will render me impotent, infertile and F**K all use to anyone". Every time I think of sex, it just reminds me that "something is wrong" and that is about as big a turnoff as you can get. Now luckily for me, I'm married and I have a great relationship, but it goes to the very heart of what you are. So I ask myself  "if it's this bad, when there is nothing wrong with me, what would it be like when I actually have symptoms?" Now I'm not looking for sympathy, just trying to explain the thought process I'm going trough, two weeks into this exciting part of life's journey.

The odd thing is, and this is probably down to faith, it isn't the dying that bothers me. I don't really worry about that. It isn't the pain or the illness either. It is just the intangible fact that "there is something wrong". The chances are that I won't develop any symptoms for a long time, maybe never if I'm sensible or lucky, but I haven't got my head around it at all. It's like everything is wrong and nothing is wrong. Their is nothing quite like anxiety to ruin anything. The family reckons that I've been walking around with a complete hump and looking like a kid with a slapped bum half the time. I don't think I have and they are drawing too much into things. I've definitely been overly touchy about silly things. But there is one thing I am. I am angry.

Now anger is a big part of the process of dealing with things. The trouble is that my anger is not completely irrational. It is based on the fact that despite the fact I thought I had a relatively healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle, I find I've been merrily poisoning myself and doing all the most stupid things possible to encourage my prostate to grow a cancer. I wouldn't mind if I'd been a slob and eaten all of the supposed wrong things, but I haven't. I've always been active, playing sport, minding my diet. I now find that there is a whole world of eating habits that I'd acquired that are great for getting prostate cancer, but which I thought were actually making me healthy.

So what are these? Lets take an average days diet for me pre Cancer.

Bowl of muesli with Milk
Cup of tea with Milk
Piece of fresh fruit
 3 cups of tea with milk
Fresh plum
Spanish Omelette with bread and butter
Cup of tea with Milk
2 cups of tea with Milk
Spinach Lasagne, with salad an mayonnaise
Cup of tea with Milk
2 glasses of red wine
Salted Cashew nut
1/2 Litre of tap water

So does that sound healthy? Actually there is only one item there that is supposedly part of a good diet for prostate cancer? Guess which bit?

Lets have another look - The red bit is why it is a bad food for prostate cancer


Bowl of muesli with Milk - Dairy products are bad for Prostate cancer

Cup of tea with Milk - Dairy products are bad for Prostate cancer
Piece of fresh fruit - Pesticides are bad for Prostate cancer
 3 cups of tea with milk - Dairy products are bad for Prostate cancer
Fresh plum



Spanish Omelette with bread and butter - Dairy products are bad for Prostate cancer
Cup of tea with Milk - Dairy products are bad for Prostate cancer
2 cups of tea with Milk - Dairy products are bad for Prostate cancer
Spinach Lasagne, with salad and mayonaise - Dairy  & eggsproducts are bad for Prostate cancer
Cup of tea with Milk - Dairy products are bad for Prostate cancer
2 glasses of red wine - RED WINE IS GOOD FOR PROSTATE CANCER
Salted Cashew nuts - Processed salts are bad for Prostate cancer
1/2 Litre of tap water - floridated water is bad for Prostate cancer

So guess which aspect of the diet I'd been cutting back on? Ironic really, isn't it. The crazy thing is although I eat meat, I've spent years avoiding it for most meals, treating it as an occasional treat. What did I replace it with? Eggs & cheese sometimes, tuna sandwiches with mayo, Salads with mayo. Great isn't it. 
Then there are the healthy options. I avoid red meat, so what do I have? A nice sandwich made with Marks and Spencers British wafer thin chicken. Did I read the ingredients? Nope, because if I had, I'd have seen this

British Chicken (97%), curing salts, antoxidant: E301 (curing salts contain sodium nitrate). 

So is E301 bad for Prostate cancer? Well all the blogs say "avoid additives". What is E301? Well it's a form of vitamin C and is meant to be beneficial. Sadly, the picture ain't so rosy with Sodium Nitrite.

When I got the diagnosis, the cancer nurse said "avoid dairy products and pomegranite juice is good". So I've done some research and here is my new diet

Bowl of porridge & sultanas (made with water)
Cup of green tea
Piece of fresh fruit (organic)
Glass of pomegrantite juice
Cup of black tea
Fresh plum (organic)
Chicken Salad with Tomato, beetroot, peppers & couscos (no mayo)
2 cups of black tea
Grilled fish with watercress, tomato & baked potato (with olive oil & garlic) - lemon dressing
Cup of green tea
2 glasses of red wine
Salted Cashew nut
1/2 Litre of bottled water

All foods (apart from the nuts - we all need the odd treat) that are good in some way, high in antoxidants or other "good" things. Will it make any difference. I've no idea, but I don't intend doing anything to in any way make my cancer have an easy time. I called this blog "read this if you don't want to die of cancer" not because I know of a cure or even anything particularly useful. I just called it that because I wanted to share the little knowledge I've gleaned with you. That is that if you are trying to eat healthy, then make sure you actually base it on something with a scientific basis. I thought I had, but I've realised that I was an idiot.

Will it work? Only time will tell. As to being a miserable sod? I have no idea how to deal with that whatsoever right now

Apologies to the Barnet Council Standards sub Committee

Sometimes we all make mistakes. It is human nature. What matters is how we rectify them. I was contacted by a friendly voice today  regarding a blog concerning a Barnet Council Standards Sub Committee meeting on Tuesday. I had assumed that the meeting was to determine what action to take regarding a standards issue before the committee. I was today advised that this is not actually the case. The meeting is a consideration meeting. As I understand it (and I may be wrong), the purpose of this meeting is to ensure that the investigation phase of the process is completed and that all required submissions etc have been gathered. The committee will set the timetable for a full hearing.

It was suggested to me that the blog posted here yesterday was helpful to no one in this process. I was assured that all appropriate paperwork would be published at the appropriate time (as has been done for the complaint against Councillor Tambourides) and that the committee have no intention of treating the matter with anything other than full attention it deserves. The Barnet Eye is happy to fully accept these assurances. It was suggested that for this purposes of this purely procedural meeting, removing the misleading blog and apologising to the standards sub committee was the appropriate response. The Barnet Eye of course agrees that anything which makes the job of the Standards Committee is unacceptable.

As such, The Barnet Eye unreservedly apologises to the Barnet Council Sub Committee for any inconvenience caused. We look forward to learning of the results of the consideration meeting in due course and seeing the full set of paperwork reviewed at the appropriate time. The Barnet Eye further wishes readers to know that the relevant blogs were not removed following any communications with Barnet Council, or anyone else acting on behalf of Barnet Council. We were purely acting on the advice of a good friend of this blog.

Roger Tichborne
The Barnet Eye

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Message to Leader of Barnet Council Richard Cornelius - Time to end the culture of bullying and intimidation

Dear Richard,

This week, Barnet Council issued a press release to the Guardian claiming that it would not tolerate the bullying and intimidation of staff. The Barnet Eye fully supports this statement, but it is quite clear that it does not address the main issue of bullying within Barnet Council. It has been brought to the attention of the Barnet Eye that there are numerous cases of bullying and intimidation being perpetrated by senior councillors within Barnet Council. One such incident will be heard by the standards sub committee on Thursday. This is the quite extraordinary case of Councillor Andreas Tambourides abusing coolleage Councillor Kate Salinger. Another case, which the Barnet Eye has full details of, concerns Councillor Brian Coleman and a Mill Hill Conservative colleague. The Barnet Eye is disappointed that the Mill Hill Councillor received less than fulsome support from the leadership and senior colleagues, for what was clearly an outrageous and unjustified attack on his character.  We also have the case before the standards committee on Tuesday, where Councillor Coleman is again before the committee for sending rude an intimidating emails to members of the public.

On Friday I published an article detailing how Barnet Council refused to answer the following question :-

C)                Is your administration committed to maintaining the highest Standards in public office and rigorously upholding its own code of conduct?

No response because this is not a valid request for recorded information under the FOIA.

There is an unprecedented level of media interest in Barnet Council. We have the extraordinary situation where a member of the Standards Sub Committee, Councillor Andreas Tambourides, is under investigation by the committee. He is even listed as a substitute committee member on his own case. Surely he should have been removed from the committee as soon as the complaint was filed?  I have spoken to several representatives of national media organisations regarding the forthcoming cases. It is quite clear to all concerned that Barnet Council is about to become a complete laughing stock. As a long term resident of the London Borough of Barnet I'm appalled by the situation. I happen to believe that the vast majority of Conservative Councillors are honest and decent people. Several have told me of their complete disgust at the situation and their wish to disassociate themselves from the boorish behaviour of a small number of senior councillors.

The time has come to draw a line under all of this. As you approach the milestone of six months in the job in December, the time has come to draw a line under all of this. A urgent cabinet reshuffle is necessary. There are many talented backbench members of the Barnet Conservatives who deserve a chance to repair the damage. A clear statement that rudeness, bullying and bad behaviour will not be tolerated is necessary. It is an honour to be elected to serve the people of Barnet, but a few people seem to see it as an excuse to behave in a boorish manner with regard only for themselves. Whilst it is clear to me from the various emails I've seen that certain senior Conservatives are rather scared of certain overbearing individuals, these individuals have used up their stock of goodwill withing the party and are a millstone around the parties neck rather than an asset. This is clear from the reaction to parking changes in Mill Hill & elsewhere in the Borough.

With the GLA election next year, a spotlight will be focused on the local candidate. It is clear that this will do enormous harm to the Barnet Conservatives. I suspect it may also cause huge damage to the re-election campaign of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. As leader of the Barnet Conservatives, if a doomsday scenario blows up as a result of the antics of the Conservative Candidate, ultimately you will be the person blamed by all and sundry.

The Conservative Councillors I've spoken to recently (and there are a fair few) are thoroughly sick to death of all of this. They want to see a change and they want the Leadership of the party to know that unless there is a recognition of these concerns, their support may not be automatically taken for granted. What is the most disturbing thing for them is the fact that all they want to see is an administration where senior members treat their colleagues, staff and members of the public with a degree of respect and decency, and for those that can't to make way for people who can.

Is that really too much to ask?

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Councillor Brian Coleman - under investigation and not doing his job

As this blog exclusively revealed yesterday, Councillor Brian Coleman is up before the standards sub committee yet again on Tuesday. Yet again, he has insulted local residents and yet again an investigator has found that he's breached the code. What is rather odd is that whilst the case against Coleman was heard publicly when I took a standards case out against him in 2009, this time the committee are meeting in private to consider the report. Unlike my case, the reports have not been publicly posted. Having read the report, it is clear that there is little material difference. Why the secrecy? Rather interestingly, there is a public hearing against Councillor Andreas Tambourides on Thursday for another standards breach. Has Barnet Council chosen to use the Tambourides case as a sacrificial lamb to save Coleman before the GLA elections? The whole thing stinks to high heavens.

Which brings us to the question. What does Brian Coleman say to residents of Barnet in emails when he's not insulting them? As well as being councillor for Totteridge, he's the cabinet member responsible for parking, although he prefers the title of "Borough Parking Officer". Residents of the Borough of Barnet are enraged at the changes to parking payment arrangements. As well as hiking up the CPZ charges, Coleman has abolished Pay and Display in the high street. Many elderly residents (and many not so elderly) have been caught out by this. People are enraged. One local trader wrote to Coleman, in his role as Cabinet member, which he gets a huge allowance for, and got the following automatic email reply.

Thank you for your e mail . As I receive a significant number of e mails only Council Officers and residents of Totteridge Ward will receive a reply

I will deal with your e mail if you are a Totteridge resident and have included your full address. If you a constituent and wish to contact me on London Assembly Buisness please e mail my office at City Hall on again including your full address.

Thank you

So although Coleman receives a generous allowance, he won't do the work associated. I've long said that Brian Coleman doesn't understand the principles of business. It seems from his response, that he can't even spell it. Has there ever been a more disasterous Councillor in the history of Barnet Council?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Barnet Eye Exclusive : Brian Coleman before the Standards Sub Committee on Tuesday 22nd November

The Barnet Eye has received confirmation that Councillor Brian Coleman will yet again be hauled before the Barnet Council Standards Sub Committee on Tuesday 22nd November at 18:30. The Barnet Eye understands that the sub committee will be reviewing a report detailing how Councillor Coleman has yet again been sending abusive emails to members of the public.

The Barnet Eye calls for this meeting to be open to members of the public with a published agenda. The material details of the case are very similar to the complaint brought by myself against Coleman in 2009. There is no reason for this case to be heard in private. The Barnet Eye does not wish to prejudice the procedings, but we will be publishing all the details we have in the event that Barnet Council attempt to hush this up.

One material fact that we hope the committee consider is the fact that Councillor Coleman did not attend the recommended training as suggested by the previous committee when Coleman was previously found guilty of breaching the standards code.

Barnet Council FoI response - Barnet Council & Standards (This is NOT the Friday Joke)

So here is yet another late FoI response containing yet another apology. This one is rather important to me as it directly concerns the Standards case which I took out against Councillor Brian Coleman in 2009. One of the recommendations was that to avoid further such incidents, Barnet Council should arrange suitable training for Councillors. Rather remarkably, despite his expensive and embarrassing mishap, it appears that Coleman arrogantly chose not to attend any of this. Surely having exposed the Council to the risk of having to pay £10,000 for a lawyer, Coleman should have been compelled by the then Leader of the Council (Mike Freer) to attend.

Perhaps the strangest answer of the lot is to question C.

C)                Is your administration committed to maintaining the highest Standards in public office and rigorously upholding its own code of conduct?

No response because this is not a valid request for recorded information under the FOIA.

Have you got that. Barnet Council will not say whether they are committed to maintaining the highest standards in public office, because they don't have to under the FoI act. I think the non answer says it all, don't you.

Interestingly it took over 1 year for the training in Social Media and Code of Conduct to be arranged (the Coleman case recommended it in September 2009).  Maybe if they'd arranged it in a timely fashion, then Councillor Andreas Tambourides may have realised that it wasn't a good idea to send the derogatory email about Councillor Catherine Salinger to all his colleagues. I am surprised that he didn't use the lack of recommended training as his excuse.

Here's the full text. It is simply unbelieveable as far as I am concerned. Oh and one last thing. Do they always send these on a Friday because they believe the storm will blow over by the time they are back in work on Monday. Strange?
Dear Mr Tichborne

I am writing regarding your request, received by the London Borough of Barnet (the Council) on 17 October 2011 for access to the following information:
“A)       Following the September 2009 ruling [by the Standards Committee], has Councillor Brian Coleman received the recommended training from Barnet Council?

B)        Which other Barnet Councillors have received the recommended training from Barnet Council?

C)        Is your administration committed to maintaining the highest Standards in public office and rigorously upholding its own code of conduct?

D)        How many complaints (upheld, not upheld and under review) has Barnet Council received concerning email responses from Councillor Coleman

E)        How many complaints (upheld, not upheld and under review) has Barnet Council received concerning email responses from yourself (Councillor Richard Cornelius).”

We are processing your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the FOIA).  Under the FOIA you are entitled to receive a response within 20 working days from the date of receipt of your request.  Please accept my apology on behalf of the council for failing to meet this deadline.  My response to your request is below.


 A)       Following the September 2009 ruling, has Councillor Brian Coleman received the recommended training from Barnet Council?

On Monday 5 July 2010 the council ran a Member Development session on the Code of Conduct. Attendance was not taken but Cllr Coleman was not on the list of councillors due to attend.  On Wednesday 20 October 2010 the council ran a Member Development session on Social Media and the Code of Conduct. Cllr Coleman did not attend this session. On Wednesday 13 July 2011 the council ran a Member Development session on Planning Probity and the Code of Conduct. Cllr Coleman did not attend this session.

B)        Which other Barnet Councillors have received the recommended training from Barnet Council?

We do not hold information on which councillors attended the session on 5 July 2010.

The following councillors attended:

20 October 2010 – Social Media & Code of Conduct

Cllr J Cohen
Cllr A Cornelius
Cllr R Cornelius
Cllr J Hart
Cllr J Marshall
Cllr A McNeil
Cllr A Schneiderman
Cllr M Shooter
Cllr A Sodha
Cllr A Tambourides
Cllr J Tierney

13 July 2011 – Planning Probity & Code of Conduct

Cllr A Cornelius
Cllr A Hutton
Cllr G Johnson
Cllr J Johnson
Cllr A McNeil
Cllr A Moore
Cllr G Old
Cllr B Perry
Cllr B Rawlings
Cllr C Rogers
Cllr G Sargeant
Cllr B Schama
Cllr A Schneiderman
Cllr A Slocombe
Cllr S Sowerby
Cllr S Strongolou
Cllr A Tambourides
Cllr J Tambourides
Cllr R Thompstone

C)                Is your administration committed to maintaining the highest Standards in public office and rigorously upholding its own code of conduct?

No response because this is not a valid request for recorded information under the FOIA.

D)                How many complaints (upheld, not upheld and under review) has Barnet Council received concerning email responses from Councillor Coleman.

At the present time there has been one finding of a breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct by Councillor Coleman in relation to an e-mail response. 

The other information you have requested will not be disclosed unless and until such time as a matter proceeds to a full hearing determined by a standards sub-committee, prior disclosure of such information would potentially be prejudicial to due process.     

E)                 How many complaints (upheld, not upheld and under review) has Barnet Council received concerning email responses from yourself (Councillor Richard Cornelius).

At the present time there have been no findings of a breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct by Councillor Richard Cornelius in relation to e-mail responses. 

The other information you have requested will not be disclosed unless and until such time as a matter proceeds to a full hearing determined by a standards sub-committee, prior disclosure of such information would potentially be prejudicial to due process.   

Your Rights

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been handled, you can request a review by writing to the FOI Officer at: The London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London, N11 1NP (email

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF (telephone: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45; website:

There is no charge for making an appeal.

Yours sincerely

M***** *********
Governance Officer
Corporate Governance Directorate
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP
Tel: 020 8359 7***
Barnet Online:
P please consider the environment - do you really need to print this email?

Uproar in Mill Hill and Edgware over removal of Pay and Display parking

I wonder how many votes Councillor Brian Coleman has lost the Tories in Mill Hill and Edgware with is crazy decision to scrap pay and display parking. Tonight at 5-a-side football, one of our squad spent 10 minutes berating me over Barnet Council removing the pay and display facility. His wife got a ticket as a result of not knowing what to do. He asked a simple question "If we have to pay by phone, why didn't they put this message on the covers they put on the ticket machines, with the number to call".  He stated that when his wife called the council to complain, the operator said that they'd been inundated with calls saying the same thing.

If you have got a ticket because you have been confused by the new system, please send an email to the man responsible to tell him what you think of his scheme - - I'm sure he'll be more than happy to explain the benefits of the new system. From what I've been told, it appears that there was a significantly higher number of traffic wardens in the newly converted areas, merrily ticketing all of the people confused by the changes. I just hope that the people of Barnet realise that they have an ideal opportunity to send the man responsible, Brian Coleman a strong message, at the GLA elections next year.
If he gets back in, then he will take it as a ringing endorsement of his policies.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Time to see if Barnet really cares about "Bullying and Intimidation" - Councillor Tambourides up before Standards Board

Next Tuesday, there really is the most incredible Standards case ever in the history of Barnet Council. A Barnet Conservative Councillor, Kate Salinger has reported another Barnet Conservative Councillor, Andreas Tambourides to the Standards committee. What is even more interesting is that the report produced by the independent investigator has found that Tambourides breached the code on TWO counts. It is now the job of the committee to decide whether to accept the findings of the investigator and whether to impose a sanction on Tambourides.

Yesterday the Barnet Eye reported that Barnet Council had secretly issued a press release stating that

The council does not tolerate the abuse or bullying of any of its staff.

This case is an important test of this principle. Tambourides is a high ranking Conservative cabinet member, who deliberately circulated an email seeking to denigrate a colleague. Why? Because Kate Salinger had taken a principled stand against awarding herself  a payrise. She was publicly humiliated and stripped of all responsibility within the council. She then suffered the indignity of a colleague circulating a humiliating and inaccurate blog about her to all her colleagues. The blog was forced to apologise, but Tambourides did not bother to circulate the correction.

Long standing readers of this blog will know I took Councillor Brian Coleman to the standards committee. He was found guilty of breaching the code, but no sanction was imposed. Having been through the process and had the indignity of having a highly paid lawyer spend two hours besmirching my character - spouting innaccuracy after innaccuracy, I will be most interested to follow these procedings. Certain members of the Barnet Conservatives cannot behave themselves. They will only learn to behave when they are brought to book. The time is long overdue. Kate Salinger has shown herself to be the bravest, most highly principled and the nicest of all Tory Councillors. She is an example of good manners. She exemplifies the qualities that all good local councillors should aspire to have. It is incredible that Tambourides was not instantly relieved of all duties when he circulated the offending email. It shows just how rotten to the core the clique at the heart of Barnet Council really is. I applaud Councillor Salinger for standing up to this bully and holding him to account.

Here are the papers for your perusal.
Agenda and Reports Pack[1]

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Who is the Barnet Council puppet master pulling all of the strings?

I noticed a rather intriguing coincidence. On Monday evening a blog allegedly close to Finchley MP Mike Freer printed this :-

lay off attacking barnet council staff

we have seen the local bloggers whipping themselves into a frenzy of excitement. over the news that barnet council sought to contact the ICO. barnet attempted to stop one of its employees being harrassed. where is the voice of reason. the poor man was just trying to do his job. the bloggers may not agree that barnet council need someone in that role, but is it necessary to question his faith and draw attention to his personal website. the so called bloggers have recently criticised barnet for its attitude to its employees. isnt it a bit rich to then criticise the council for sticking up for one of them. by all means knock the council if you feel you must. just lay off the staff. 
When I saw that I thought to myself  "that is an intriguing attempt to try and turn the argument around." Although Barnet Council only attempted to report one blogger to the ICO for simply stating information that Barnet Council and the employee in question had published on the internet, the blog post rather cleverly implies that all Barnet bloggers are harrassing all manner of Barnet employees. Anyone who has read this blog regularly will know that the ordinary employees of Barnet Council are among the biggest supporters of Barnet bloggers. I did however detect the tones of someone well versed in dark political arts. Anyway imagine my surprise when I saw the Guardian Society section yesterday. In the middle of this piece  - -  was this statement from Barnet Council.

The council was concerned that an individual had used information gathered by the FOI process and linked this with other information to ridicule and abuse individual members of staff. The council consulted with the ICO as to whether this constituted a possible breach of the Data Protection Act. The ICO asked the council to make a formal submission, stating this was a currently a grey area. It should be stressed that the individuals about which the council were concerned were not part of the council's senior management team. The council does not tolerate the abuse or bullying of any of its staff.
 Am I the only person in the world to note the similarity between the two responses? Do you believe that this was a coincidence? It is pretty clear that a party line has been agreed. Clearly Barnet Council has to use different words for a different audience, but yet again the whole tone and the way the information is being managed is ominous.

 As to the statement that Barnet Council does not tolerate the abuse or bullying of its staff, does anyone recall what happened when staff announced they were going on strike. What about the huge billboard posters and the docking of 1 days pay for staff who went on strike for half a day?

I have three questions for Council Leader Richard Cornelius and CEO Nick Walkley.

a) If you do not tolerate the abuse and intimidation of staff, will you commit to stopping all intimdatory actions aimed at preventing strike action by staff in future. Will you release all complaints (and other related paperwork) by members of staff against councillors and senior officers and the findings of enquiries (with names redacted as necessary) for complaints about bullying and intimidation for publication.

b) Do you have the same attitude about the bullying and intimidation of local residents by Barnet Council? If so will you allow The Barnet Eye unrestricted access to all council papers concerning the Barnet Eye and the other Barnet blogs. Will you release all internal papers concerning the Metpro scandal for publication and will you release all information about survellance of blogs held by Barnet Council.

c) If Barnet Council is making press releases to the Guardian, why don't they appear in the press release section of the media section of the Guardian - - how many more "secret" and "unattributable" press releases were issued in this way. Who is the author of this response and who received it? Who authorised them to contact the Guardian?

And finally there is one question I think we all need to know the answer to. As there clearly is some sort of concerted attempt to manage the response to the Barnet ICOGATE scandal, across official and unofficial sources, can Barnet Council explain how we can ever trust them again?