Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Barnet Tories planning decimation of Barnets libraries

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

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

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

Story on local paper here http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/11548261.Options_laid_out_for_future_of_Barnet_s_libraries /

Monday, 20 October 2014

The incredible disappearing press release

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

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

The Big Mill Hill Firework Party

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Barnet council phone lines fail again

What is going on at barnet council? Yet again there has been a breakdown of the council switchboard. There is a short press release on the council site - http://www.barnet.gov.uk/news/article/512/council_phone_lines_back_up_and_running - although no details.
One of the main supposed benefits of the One Barnet Capita deal was better services than under  Barnet council in house Looks like that was yet another porkie, doesn't it?

Saturday, 18 October 2014

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

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

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

Anyway off to try no. 8

Friday, 17 October 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Friday Joke - 17/10/2014

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

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

Doctor: Ah, you must have analogy.

Groan !!!!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Why Johnny Rotten is right and Russell Brand is wrong

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

We agree.

Read more here http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/10/14/russell-brand-revolution-johnny-rotten_n_5981568.html?1413284864

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

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

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

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

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Barnet Council - Happy to help you run your business!

Today the Council posted the following press release - http://www.barnet.gov.uk/news/article/604/council_to_host_business_expo

Council to Host Business Expo

Council to Host Business Expo

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

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

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

To book a place at the Expo event, or to find out about sponsorship, please e-mail barnetbusiness@barnet.gov.uk or visit www.barnet.gov.uk/barnet-business-expo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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