Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A little story of caution for our friends at Barnet Town Hall

72 years ago, back in 1942, my Dad was based with 40 squadron of the RAF in North Africa, flying Wellington Bombers as part of the battle to free North Africa. He once told me a little story about the siege of Tobruk. He'd been out boozing in Alexandria with some Aussie Soldiers and they'd told him an interesting story (I have no idea if it is true or has ever been documented). The Germans held Tobruk in a vice like seige during an offensive, which featured some of the fiercest fighting in the early stage of the North African Campaign ( Apparently, during the long siege, the attacking and defending soldiers had an unwritten and unofficial truce every afternoon between 3pm and 4pm. During this time, they'd go down to the sea and have a swim and cool off. During this period, neither side would shoot at each other. This allowed the troops on both sides to cool off and have some sort of peace.

On one afternoon, as the troops from both sides were making their way to the sea, a German sniper took a pot shot at an allied soldier. All hell broke loose. After that, both sides just sat sweltering in their potholes & trenches all day. After about a week, a German white flag of Truce suddenly appearled. He made his way through the fortifications to the Allied line and, with a hundred rifles pointing at him, read out an apology, stating he was the miscreant sniper and he was very sorry. He said that the German side would observe the truce and not take potshots anymore if the British did the same. He then handed himself over and was taken POW. On interrogation, it appeared his German colleagues were so pissed off with him, after a week of sweltering that they'd forced him to apologise.

When he was asked if he was worried about getting shot, he said "No, the British don't do that sort of thing". He was greeted with a reply of "You were lucky mate, we're Aussies and we're mighily pissed off with you".

You may wonder what all this has to do with the Town Hall in Barnet? Well it seems that the local Tory Ledership have chosen to put the boot as hard as they can into Kath McGuirk, a Labour Councillor, over a dispute over council tax. They have called the police in, rather spitefully, over a possible technical transgression of the rules, even though Ms McGuirk has a rather strong case that the whole thing is a Council cock up. Labour sources tell me that they believe that the attack was purely down to the fact the Tories believe McGuirk was being lined up to be the next leader of the Labour group and the Tories were scared of her. In short, it was a very botched attempt at a political assassination of the heir apparent.

What the Tories seem to have failed to take heed of is the fact that Labour have a whole file of dirt to throw back at them. As the gloves are off, and the police were unleashed on McGuirk, Labour feel duty bound to hit back hard. The Barnet Eye is not allied to Labour, but we've had more juicy titbits etc in the last few days from Labour than we've had in the last four years. I assume the same is true for other bloggers and local papers.

It may surprise you to know that we are not really that interested. Despite claims from hysterical Tories on Twitter, the only reason we covered the Tom Davey story was because guest blogger John Sullivan asked us to. John has a serious illness and he is trying to avoid stress.

The sad truth is that like the poor, stupid German sniper, only a big sacrifice will let the Tories put this particular genie back in the bottle. If the Tories and Labour rip each other to bits, I suspect that the only winners will be UKIP.

I make one prediction. This election will be the dirtiest, most nasty and most spiteful in the history of Barnet local politics. There is a simple reason for this. I doubt that anyone in Barnet politics has the brass balls of the errant German sniper to take the rap for his stupidity. None of them, Tories or Labour will be sunbathing in the Barnet political sea any time soon.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Time for Councillor Tom Davey to resign?

This evening I was forwarded an email exchange between disabled rights campaigner John Sullivan and Councillor Tom Davey, Barnet Council cabinet member responsible for housing. Mr Sullivan told me that he was too upset for words to write a coherent blog, in light of information revealed by the Hendon Times website today regarding Mr Davey. He has asked me to try and present the facts in a fair and balanced way. So lets start with The exchange

Mr Sullivan wrote the following email to Cllr Davey
From: John Sullivan 
Sent: 12 April 2014 10:43
To: Davey, Cllr Tom
Subject: Ethnic Cleansing of Barnet Benefit Claimants

Dear Cllr Davey,
In light of your recent comments and apparent determination to ethnically cleanse Barnet of benefit claimants, which incidentally includes all disabled people and future disabled people in Barnet such as my fifty year old daughter and her peers.
Do you think we would be wise to move out of Barnet in order to secure the future quality of life for our daughter before we die, and before your dream of a pure society of the rich and well heeled, completely ethnically cleansed of the benefit claimants and the disabled becomes a reality in Barnet.
Or am I reading your rhetoric wrong, am I incorrectly assuming you have openly pronounced your detestation of the poor, the sick and the disabled , and believe they are  not fit to reside in Barnet.
Kind Regards
Mr J J Sullivan

Councillor Davey replied
From: "Davey, Cllr Tom"
Date: 13 April 2014 12:29:57 BST
To: "John Sullivan"
Subject: RE: Ethnic Cleansing of Barnet Benefit Claimants

Dear Mr Sullivan
All housing allocation policy is clearly set out and avaialble for the public to view. There is not, has not been, and never will be an attempt to "ethnically cleanse" Barnet and i think many residents would find this suggestion deeply insensitive and offensive. I can only apologise if you have misunderstood any comments and offer you fully assurance that the Council and its policies comply with all relevant legislation.
For clarification, to the best of my knowledge i have never pronounced "destesation of the poor, the sick and the disabled". 
If you have particular concerns on policy, please email those concerns to Barnet Homes and an officer can provide a detailed response. I hope this helps and trust i have answered your question.
In this, as you can quite clearly see, Councillor Davey states that he has never, to the best of his knowledge, pronounced "destesation of the poor, the sick and the disabled" which is quite clearly something he sees as " deeply insensitive and offensive" to quote his own words. What sort of a man would pronounce  a dislike of the poor? What sort of a man would not care for the disabled? What sort of a man indeed?

So when Mr Sullivan saw this article in the Edgware Times , highlighting these Facebook messages from Mr Davey, he felt that it was time for Mr Davey to be held to account


The posts, made by Cllr Tom Davey of Tory-run Barnet Council, were revealed just days after he was caught advocating ‘social cleansing’ in a shocking video.


Davey said the sick joke was “probably misjudgement in hindsight” – but that despite being open to tens of thousands of people in the LSE Facebook network, it was a private joke between friends.
He admitted:
“I have a very dry sense of humour”
Defending perhaps the most disgusting post, in which he says he is “smacking his bitch up…that’ll teach her for ironing loudly whilst the football is on” – Davey said he was being “ironic.”

Just remember, Councillor Davey said in his own email "For clarification, to the best of my knowledge i have never pronounced "destesation of the poor, the sick and the disabled" As Mr Sullivan reminds us, his 50 year old, Downs Syndrome daughter is the "Benefit claiming scum" that Mr Davey berates in his Facebook message.

It is interesting to note that Councillor Davey thinks a disabled black lesbian may have more luck than him in getting a job. Now if Mr Davey was an all in wrestler, the type his political mentor, Councillor Robert Rams is so keen on (, maybe he would have some sort of a point, however Mr Davey was seeking white collar jobs where sound judgement are valued. Is there a clue in his Facebook messages as to why he had such problems?

It is also interesting to note that given the poor Tory record on the subject of violence against women, with Councillor Brian Coleman being arrested for assaulting a woman, that Councillor Davey seems to think beating women up is a laughing matter.

Councillor Davey, in the above link to Robert Rams blog, calls for Labour Leader Alison Moore to resign, based on poor judgement. Our advice for Councillor Davey is to go away, spend some time on the bench and get some life experience. We sincerely hope that he will in time mature, but it is clear that at the moment he does not have the life skills to be a senior official with an important portfolio in local government. If these remarks were dug up from 20 years ago, then that would be one thing, but they were made when Davey was active in local politics in recent years. There was no hint of any sort of apology to those who might be offended. Mr Davey claims that the jokes were "saloon bar humour". Whilst we have no doubt that these are the sort of jokes Councillor Davey shares regularly with his mates in the pub, if you are a politician and on facebook, you should have a little bit more sense.  None of us are perfect, I am sure Facebook and Twitter and even blogger sometimes tempts us to make mistakes and say silly things. Being a dyslexic, I sometimes say things which are misconstrued, sometimes my humour is misunderstood. If someone genuinely claims I've upset them I apologise. In Mr Sullivans case, I am sure he will be awaiting Councillor Davey's apology with baited breath. Because it is clear that not only was Mr Davey being extremely offensive about Susan Sullivan and all her disabled peers. No one can doubt that, in light of these revelations. He mislead Mr Sullivan about his views on the disabled and the poor, who he clearly thinks it is absolutely fine to mock and humiliate.

For the absence of doubt, this story from the Times details how Davey was elected in 2008

Monday, 14 April 2014

Do you want to see this replaced with a wall of concrete?

I took this picture yesterday walking on the public footpath from Wills Grove to Wise Lane, Mill Hill, whilst walking across the grounds of Mill Hill School. As you can see, it is a glorious view. This is part of the Greenbelt and the Mill Hill Conservation area. Sadly whilst you (hopefully) and I see the greenbelt as part of the lungs of London and a treasured asset, many people see it as an opportunity to earn a bit of fast cash. All around Mill Hill, little bits of the green belt are being nibbled away. Every year a small percentage is lost forever, despite the stringent planning laws.

Over the last few years, the speed at which this "nibbling" has been occurring has sped up. The reason, Barnet Council has taken a very 'laid back' approach to enforcing the law. Why has this happened? The Barnet Eye doesn't know, but without doubt some of the largest 'nibbles' have been instigated by very wealthy people, some of whom have had executive posts within the local Conservative party.

To compound matters, Barnet Council has handed over responsibility for planning to Capita as part of the One Barnet project. Wheras previously the planning department was under the control of the council and democratically elected councillors, who have to answer to the electorate every four years, now planning is run by Capita who have a contract with Barnet council. If they cock up, they don't get kicked out at an election, we are lumbered with them. Do they have any vested interest in making sure our green fields are preserved? No, of course they don't, Capita only have their shareholders to answer to.

The council actually wants to massively increase the number of houses in Barnet. They project that the number of residents will rise from 320,000 to 380,000 by 2025. This is not because we've all decided to become strict Roman Catholics out of admiration for the new Pope and have ten kids, it is because they want new arrivals in Barnet, who they will jam into ever smaller Rabbit hutch style flats.

I mistakenly believed that one of the redeeming features of the local Conservatives was that they cared about the green belt. I have seen no evidence of this at all. I've seen no involvement in any of the protests in Mill Hill to protect the green belt. At present there are plans for a huge mausoleum to be built on a site teeming with wildlife in Milespit Hill. It is Labour GLA rep Andrew Dismore who has lead opposition to this development.

I had a leaflet through the door for our local Conservative council candidates, Sury Khatri, John Hart and Val Duschinsky and there is not a single word about the Green Belt, which is a massive part of their ward. In fact point 4 of the five bullet points boasts that they are building even more houses and even more 'regeneration schemes'. Point five says the council are spending £7 million on more road works in 2013/14. (Just in case you wondered point 1 is about the 3p a day tax cut, point two points out Barnet has some good schools and point 3 are some stats about Youth crime and how you are now safer than you were in 2012).

All very well, but in many wards in Barnet and especially in Mill Hill, I want to see our Green belt protected and preserved and I want a council that enforces the law. One reason Mill Hill has low youth crime is because there are decent open spaces for our youngsters to let off steam in. What will happen when we destroy them all?

If you care and you live in Mill Hill, the Mill Hill Residents association are having a hustings meeting with local candidates on Weds 30th April at St Pauls School at 8pm. See what they have to say. The only way that anything will change is if you make them know your vote is not to be taken for granted. You may wish to ask the local Tories why they campaigned in 2010 to block a football stand at Copthall, for 50 people for Kentish Town FC, then immediately after the election allowed a 10,000 seat stadium on the site. Whether or not you think that is a good thing, it wasn't exactly honest, was it?

Mill Hill news -A date for your diary

The Mill Hill Residents Association will be holding an Election husting meeting in the question time firmat, featuring local Tory, Labour, Lib Dem, UKIP and an Independent candidate at St Pauls School Hall on Weds 30th April at 8pm. The will also be an MHRA AGM on thisevening. The Barnet Eye urges all Mill Hill Residents to support this event and get involved in your local community. There are more details at

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Barnet Tweets of the week !

Our Saturday list last week was the "Silly Tweets of the week". This caused a bit of a stir. Loads of hits and a whole stream of emails asking for it to become a regular feature so here we go. The good, the bad and the ugly ! And what a week we've had !

By the way, if you want to help us put this list together, please reply to any funny/crass/interesting tweet with our Twitter handle @barneteye and simply put #TOW and I'll check it out. It can be any subject, but has to make me laugh, smile, cry or jump up and down. I'll even give you a namecheck !

This is meant to be a bit of fun (mostly) so Tweet away ! Hope you enjoy this weeks list

1. The Ugly - Yet again Brian Coleman proves that the bottom of the barrel is lower than you could possibly imagine ! (The Barnet Times joined in the fun

Brian Coleman @BrianTotteridge  ·  Apr 7
Peaches Geldof - obituary | via sad but what was the point of her life ? hardly deserving a long DT obit
2. Mrs Angry puts Coleman in his place pointing out his rather odd attitude to Twitter. My advice to Brian - don't pick on girls !
Mrs Angry@BrokenBarnet Apr 11
why do you tweet me when you've blocked me you great eejit? And what a typically stupid thing to say, but so telling ...
8. Barnet Council again showing that when it comes to PR they are useless. You'd think that a £1.4 million inverstment in a short stretch of road would be pretty hard to miss!
Barnet Council@BarnetCouncil Apr 11
9. The Barnet Alliance recasts itself as the Barnet Taxpayers Alliance, exposing Council officers  Capita Employees living it up at your expense!
Barnet Alliance@BarnetAlliance 15h
Did (you!) financed a trip of employees to the French Riviera? Indeed you did!
10. And as ever, I finish with my own favourite tweet of the week ! What was the bad smell in Hendon MP Matthew Offords office yesterday? We can but speculate
Rog T@Barneteye Apr 11
What is the bad smell in Matthew Offords office?

The Saturday List - 10 reasons why a decent human being would support a budget cut to Mapledown disabled school

As you may have read in the local press, the local Conservatives have cut the budget to Mapledown special school. The councillor who made the decision has never even bothered to visit the school. That councillor is Mr Rueben Thompstone. Leader Richard Cornelius announced that fair minded people in Barnet support the cut. We have drawn up a list of ten reasons why a decent person may agree with Mr Cornelius.

1. Severe brain injury causing confusion

2.  Erm actually we cant think of another genuine reason

please use this link to the Hendon Times to vote in their poll to show your disgust.

Friday, 11 April 2014

If you think cuts to the budget of Mapledown School for the disabled are disgusting, vote now in this poll

If like me, you think the budget cuts, to subsidise a 3p a day Council tax cut, to Mapledown Special School for disabled children is disgusting and despicable, please vote now in this poll on the Hendon Times website

Please tell all your friends, family and even the people you hate to vote as well. Lets send a strong message to the Council. You can be pretty sure that the greedy sods who support this cut will b rallying their forces and making sure a good show is given for their side of the argument.

The Friday Joke 11/4/2014

I was walking down the Mill Hill Broadway when I was accosted by a particularly unkempt homeless man who asked me for a couple some coins for a cup of tea.

I took out my wallet, extracted a fiver
  and asked, "If I give you this money, will you buy some beer with it instead of dinner?"

"No, I had to stop drinking years ago," the homeless man replied.

"Will you use it to go fishing instead of buying food?" I asked.

"No, I don't waste time fishing," the homeless man said. "I need to spend all my time trying to stay alive."

"Will you spend this on going to football?" I asked.

"Are you NUTS!" replied the homeless man. "I haven't been to a match  in 20 years!"

"Well," I said, "I'm not going to give you money. Instead, I'm going to take you home for a shower and a terrific dinner cooked by my wife."

The homeless man was astounded. "Won't your wife be furious with you for doing that?

I replied, "Don't worry about that. It's important for her to see what a man looks like after he has given up drinking, fishing and football."

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Barnet, where they can't afford £45,000 for a special school but spend £1.4million om a few trees and park benches in North Finchley

Can I make a suggestion? If any members of the local Tory Party come knocking on your door, ask them why the council can't afford £45,000 to maintain services for disabled children at Mapledown Special School. You will get a slapped arse faced look and a sorry tale of how hard times are. They will tell you that the council has to make hard choices and that they needed to cut this budget to keep other vital services running (like their own allowances).

If they say anything that implies there ain't enough cash in the tin, show them this article.

This explains how Boris Johnson and our Tory Council have conspired to spend £1.4 million on a few park benches and trees in North Finchley. The Council dobbed in £380,000 towards this expenditure. According to the article the money has been spent on the following

"These have included 20 new trees being planted with lighting around Tally Ho corner and the high street, new benches and a new set of historic plaques on the railings of the Tally Ho pub."

What sort of trees are these? What sort of lights? What sort of benches? And what sort of plaques?

They have also been "revitalising three empty units in the arcade". Now forgive me for my cynicism, but am I alone in thinking that this is completely bonkers, especially when there are special schools getting cuts to their budgets. Politicians always launch schemes like this before elections. They hope we are to stupid to see it for what it is.

If they want to revitalise the High Street, they should have business friendly parking, rates concessions for start up companies, encouragement for local chambers of commerce. Improvements should use matched funding, where traders spend some of their own money and get a rates rebate in return. That way entrepreneurs would take ownership and make changes that really worked. What has happened is that consultants have been bussed in, charged a fortune and will disappear. A similar scheme was undertaken in High Barnet a few years ago. £400,000 was spent, would you know if you went back today?

I doubt Boris or Richard Cornelius would be so generous to North Finchley if there wasn't an election and I doubt they'd be so heartless to Mapledown School if they thought there were any votes in it. In May you can pass your verdict. What is a better way to spend money? Mapledown special school or a few park benches in Finchley?

Cover to Cover - Big Mama Thornton Vs Elvis Presley - Hound Dog

Every Thursday BBC London presenter Robert Elms does a feature called Cover to Cover where he plays an original song followed by a cover version and then asks the public which one is better. Today he made a truly inspired choice (well he didn't, he invites a listener to suggest a song). The choice was Hound Dog. Now I'd guess that most people know the Elvis Presley version. Most of us are less familiar with the version by Big Mama Thornton, the original. I've heard it a few times, but never really thought to ask the question "Is it better than the Elvis version?".

When Robert proposed the question and I actually thought about it, I had to say that Big Mama's version is far superior. Incredibly, the listeners of his show agreed. Here is Big Mama Thorntons versions

 And here is the Elvis Version

What do you think?

I must say that I consider the Robert Elms daily show to be the finest and most interesting show on the Radio. It goes out between Noon and 3pm. It is intelligent and informative and if you love living in London, you'll love it. Just about every subject under the sun is covered and it is local radio at it's best.

When I started blogging, my intention was to cover the cultural side of London and the music scene. Sadly the completely bonkers political situation in Barnet has caused much distraction and in some ways I regret having gained a little notoriety for covering such a tardy subject. Sadly it seems that if the Barnet bloggers don't no one else will, as displayed so vividly this week with the Holly Farm Story, where only the Barnet Bloggers intervention forced a massive public interest story into the pages of the local papers.

Please do me a favour and elect some vaguely competent politicians in May. If you know your local councillor is useless, a sleazeball, a violent thug or a lazy dimwit, chuck them out and vote someone else in. There are plenty of Councillors on all sides, who I would be happy to see re-elected as they are decent human beings. Sury Khatri in Mill Hill for the Tories is one, Jack Cohen for the Lib Dems is another and Alan Schniederman for Labour is another. It is time for us in Barnet to look beyond the party and elect decent people. I would like to see some independents holding the balance of power and have a council which governs for the citizens, not just for itself and for its own perks and allowances.

I am appalled by the complete lack of intellect of some of the members at the top of the existing regime. If you follow them on twitter, they talk as if the public in Barnet are imbeciles and morons. Please prove them wrong.

If you do, then I can get this blog back to what it was supposed to do.