Thursday, 24 April 2014

Mapledown School - Video footage of Barnet Council Scrutiny commitee where decison sent back for consideration

Yesterday we printed our report of the meeting, detailing how the committee voted to sent the Mapledown Disabled School budget cut back to the Barnet Tory Cabinet to recondsider (The limit of their powers). Here is some video footage of key portions of the meeting Public Questions.I've decided not to comment here. The pictures speak for themselves.


 


 Sarah Sackman representing the Mapledown parents

 The big vote and public reaction

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Mapledown Special School - A victory for the parents and common sense

Tonight I've been at Hendon Town Hall for the Budget Overview and Scrutiny Committee Tonight the committee were reviewing the decision to cut theMapledown Special school afterschool and respite budget by£45,000.

So I made my way up to Hendon Town Hall at 7pm for the meeting. I arrived to find myself sitting next to fellow blogger Mrs Angry and surrounded by parents of disabled childrens parents from Mapledown School. Before the meeting started, I had a brief chat with Steve Carroll, the headmaster of Mapledown school. Mr Carroll explained that he couldn't really say anything. As we were chatting, the councillor responsible for the cut, Rueben Thompstone (Rubes as we know him) barged me out of the way and told Mr Carroll how much he was looking forward to finally visiting the school. Mr Carroll was the soul of discretion. As I am not psychic I can only guess what he may have been thinking.

The format of the meeting started with the usual Barnet BS, followed by public question time. The committee consisted of Chair Hugh Rayner, Tories Brian Salinger, Big Mo Braun, Little Brian Gordon, John Hart, and Rowan "yer boat" Turner. From Labour we had Barry Rawlings, Alison Moore and Geoff Johnson. For the Lib Dems we had Jack Cohen.

The questions and answers from the public can be viewed here

http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/b24259/Public%20Questions%20and%20Responses%2023rd-Apr-2014%2019.00%20Business%20Management%20Overview%20and%20Scrutiny%20Commi.pdf?T=9http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/b24259/Public%20Questions%20and%20Responses%2023rd-Apr-2014%2019.00%20Business%20Management%20Overview%20and%20Scrutiny%20Commi.pdf?T=9

We had some excellent public questions from Mapledown parents

Christine Canavan asked why nationally respite budgets had gone up 22% and locally they'd been cut by 27%. For the Councillor a Mr Harrison said that the "funds were not earmarked"

Tina asked why the school had not been visited prior to the cuts to assess the effects. Mr Harrison gave a rather obtuse answer imply "Rubes" would have to answer that one himself.

Then the chair, Councillor Rayner said "Is Sue Here?" "No?" "Erm Good". 

We then had Theresa. She asked if any account had been given to what cash would end up being spent as a result of this cut. In other words, when carers get destroyed by stress, who foots the bill and how much will it be. Sadly the answer was that no one had bothered to assess that.

Then we had Labour candidat for Finchley, Sarah Sackman. She'd been asked by the parents to represent them. The chair, Councillor Rayner, ensured that her political role was noted. She explained the high demand for services, the benefits of respite and the results of the withdrawal of services. Sadly certain councillors sought to play up her party role and play down the points she'd made.

She very eloquently pointed out that the Council was out of step with the Tory lead government, who viewed carers and respite as great value for money. They'd increased the budget nationally. She explained that if the parents could no longer cope, the costs would legally fall to the council.
Councillor John Hart suggested that the parents should sort the financial black hole out themselves and urged parents and carers to raise money themselves (whilst caring for disabled children 24 X 7).

Sackman pointed out that Mapledown was not just a nice to have but a necessity. She suggested that councillors should work with parents and help them resolve the issue.

Councillor Brian Gordon suggested that no one likes cuts. He is quite right, the audience reminded him that no Councillors had an allowance cut under the Tories. The meeting was descending into uproar. As with many recent council meetings, the general public start off being very polite. As often happens, myself and Mrs Angry, being old hands, display no such deference. A constant stream of heckling emerged from our corner. Eventually (as often happens) the rest of the gallery realises that there is no need for the deference. Councillor Gordon deployed his usual charm and was the tipping point. The chair of the meeting, Rayner gave the audience a good telling off.

Lib Dem Leader Jack Cohen made his usual intelligent point. He suggested that care for the disabled should be outside the usual political argy bargy and asked whether parents had been properly consulted.

Sarah Sackman explained how they were not. They had no idea of the sclae of cuts when consulted. She also explained how parents of disabled children have more to do than simply complete surveys on the Barnet council website.

Then we had Christine Canavan, explaining the purpose and definition of respite. A short period of rest from a difficult or unpleasant situation. She said "please take time and reconsider your decision". She then stated she was "shocked, let down and angry" at the lack of consultation.

Then we had Rubes up for questions. Barry Rawlings suggested that maybe the cabinet hadn't thought through the cut. He explained how there was cash in the public health budget. He also suggested that the cut may have been unconstitutional because the matter was still in oversight.

Then we heard from Rubes. Sadly the man is clearly a buffoon. Virtually his first words were that he was "sorry for all the bad publicity". No SH*T Sherlock, we bet you are. He said he was "pleased to hear from the parents". He looked anything but. He looked like a man who'd sat on a shoebrush in truth.

Then Mr Carroll, the headmaster was asked to clarify a few issues by Cllr Rayner. He asked why the school couldn't use its reserves to fund the services. Mr Carroll explained that this would be illegal. The budgets are ring fenced. Rubes shifted even more uncomfortably. He explained how the school had raised £200,000 in donations, but this was for special projects and there was a limit.

If Rubes thought things were bad, they were about to get much worse. He was about to get barbequed by Jack Cohen. Rubes clearly has little comprehension of just how careful you have to be when Jack is on form, and boy was he on form. Jack asked if Rubes had bothered to read any of the responses from parents to the consultation. Rubes replied along the lines that he had better things to do and the officers had read them, he'd read a management summary. Jack persisted "So when you looked, you didn't look at the answers" Jack suggested that the council constition suggested that "due respect had to be given to decisions". Rubes shifted his large posterior uncomfortably. Jack then said "Disability is a proected characteristic. How can you tell is that this decision will protect their equalities". Rubes retorted that the budget cut had left some services in tact. Several of his Tory colleagues looked rather uncomfortable.

It suddenly became apparant that he'd lost his colleagues. Brian Salinger stated that it wasn't clear what the decision had actually meant in real terms. He doubted the cabinet had understood the implications. Rubes disagreed. Then, from a rather unexpected source, the final blow. Councillor Maureen Braun, not a friend of this blog asked Rubes "Who is more vulnerable than disabled children". Rubes tried to string a sentence together, but failed. Braun had summed up the general feeling in the room. Rayner had sensed early on that the Torie were on a loser. He had spent the evening trying to figure out how to extract his reputation from this situation. He clearly didn't want to shaft Mapledown, but couldn't work out how to protect his Tory friend. He moved to a vote and to the amazement of all, Salinger and Braun, to their great credit voted to send the report back to the cabinet. In short a Tory Committee had agreed that the Mapledown cut was unfair and unjust and needed review.

Rayner realised that with an election looing, this presented a constitutional issue. He tried to get a council officer to help him out but no one really seemed to know. Rubes, a large man, seemed to have shrunk and seemed to resemble a demented leprachaun. He looked totally gutted.

Brian Salinger couldn't contain himself and ran to the back to shake hands with Mr Carroll. Mr Rayner ordered him back, but Salinger just ignored him. Mrs Angry and myself were, for a second overcome with emotion. We've sat through a lot of committee meetings and such an outcome was unexpected to say the least,

For the record (and it was not 100% clear), it appeared that Hart, Turner and Gordon did not vote to send the report back. I get the feeling that Braun, Salinger and Rayner had realised the game was up. Hart and Gordon are simply too entrenched in their ways to deviate from the party line. As for Turner. He gives the impression of having the intellect of a Compare the Meerkat.

In fact all that has happened is that the decision has been referred back to a committee stacked with dopey Tories who didn't do their job properly the first time. Will they learn. I suspect that Rayner will order them to make the problem go away ASAP. He is a senior power in Barnet Torydom.

I made a point of congratulating Braun and Salinger. Councillors should realise that when they do the right thing, it gets recognised. I just hope that the Tories can see sense and undo a very bad decision.

It was clear to anyone with a heart that Mapledown is a special case and the kids there deserve to be protected. It is clear Braun got it. It is clear Salinger got it, I suspect Rayner got it. Sadly Rubes Thompstone, Brian Gordon, John Hart and Rowan Turner clearly don't get it. If any are your local councillor and you are inclined to vote Tory, please consider their actions. Salinger and Braun displayed a modicum of human decency. As this blog covers the council election, this will be remembered. We hope that all voters consider this when casting their vote.

Andrew Dismore Press Release - 1 in 10 Barnet boys born now will not see retirement age

According to official figures revealed in the Daily Telegraph today, 1 in 10 newborn Barnet boys born now will not reach the age of 65.


Andrew Dismore, Labour London Assembly member and parliamentary candidate for Hendon said:
“This is a real indictment of the performance of the NHS under this Government. to think that 10% of the baby boys born in Barnet  today will not  reach retirement  age is shocking. we are not talking about those born in past years , but the position as it is today in real time.

“We need a Labour Government committed to the NHS to get to grips with this, to see what we can do to avoid this appalling outcome.”

for further information call Andrew Dismore
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The Barnet Eye is happy to publish relevant stories on issues of public interest. Please email your info to us.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A night out

I won't be sleeping in my own bed tonight. I won't be speaking to my wife either. I don't know who I'll be sleeping with. Before you start gossiping, I'm sleeping in  a Church in Mill Hill with a bunch of homeless people as part of the Barnet night shelter scheme. Up to 15 homeless people every night are given a bed in one of our local religious institutions. The scheme is run by the Barnet Homeless Action group.

Tonight the shelter is at John Keeble Church in Mill Hill. I am one of two volunteers staying with the guests. Whilst sleeping in a cold drafty church with a bunch of strangers is not my idea of fun, I do believe we should help out the members of our community who need  a hand. One night on a hard floor is a small sacrifice, given the 364 other days in a comfy bed.

Anyway that is what I'm doing for those less well off in our community this week. I'm not writing this blog so you all think what a wonderful chap though, I'm doing it to try and raise awareness of the fact that there are homeless people in Barnet and they really do need somewhere to sleep of an evening, otherwise they'd be on the street. I personally don't believe that in this day and age anyone should be forced to sleep rough. As a society we should make sure everyone has basic accomodation as a right. Sadly this govenrment and this council disagrees. They are quite happy to pull away the safety net. I find that totally appalling, do you?

Monday, 21 April 2014

We are all broken now - Do we really live in a "caring society" anymore

I have been having a bit of a crisis of conscience over the weekend.

I was born in Edgware General Hospital(remember that) in 1962. At Easter 1967 I started school at St Vincents Catholic School on the Ridgway. Being (undiagnosed) dyslexic, my schooling was difficult. At age 11 I started at Finchley Catholic High School in September 1974.

It is fair to say that I didn't enjoy much of my time at school. I had several disadvantages. Firstly I'm born in late August so I was the youngest in the year. Secondly my mum had me six weeks premature, so biologically I was really an October baby. For many kids born in August, there is always the issue that you are a year younger than your oldest classmates. Chuck a bit of dyslexia in, especially during the 1960's when the official term for the syndrome was "thicko" and you have all the makings of a really unhappy time.

Now luckily for me, I managed to adapt and turn my education around. I am also 6'1' so by the time I hit puberty, I'd caught up and overtaken many of my previously bigger peers. Having said that the experience taught me a lot about human nature. When you are 11 and you have a reading age of five, you are not made to feel great about yourself. Many of the teachers at my primary school used to think that this stupidity was elective and so rather than support me, they simply berated me. It was the same with maths. I've never been able to do my "times tables". I just couldn't learn by rote. We used to get tested on these and every week I'd fail. Strangely enough I am not bad at the subject. I got an O Level and an A Level in Maths. I was just bad at memorising random bits of information. Things take a while to sink in. Same with names.

When I was nine years old, I became aware that not everyone had even my limited gifts and skills. Let me explain. When I was a kid, my annual holiday was a week away with my Dad to the Roman Catholic pilgrimage site of Lourdes in France. Every day involved attending masses and processions. Now you may not think this was much fun for a nine year old, but in actual fact it was great. My Dad was a big gruff Aussie, and once he'd done his praying for the day, we'd go to bars & cafe's. I'd get all the fizzy drinks I could drink, all the waffles, cakes and crisps I could eat and we'd always end up with some group or the other from some strange place on the planets, who my Dad would strike up a rapport with, As he was Ex RAF and widely travelled, he'd always entertaion various groups with tales of bombing Germans. When he met Germans, he'd always end up talking to ex aircrew and comparing stories.

Anyway I digress. One year our group was joined by a Downs syndrome chap called Stephen and his brother, who I can't remember. Stephen was 27 and in a wheelchair. My Dad informed me (in his usual gruff, non PC way) that Stephen was backwards and had the mind of a five year old. For me this was good, as it meant I had someone who was technically around my age to talk to. Even better news was the fact that Stephen was obsessed with football. He collected football cards. He was also a Newcastle United fan, so there was no obvious clash of teams. I soon became very jealous of Stephen, as his folks took him to watch every Newcastle home game and he got a seat at the front of the ground. He had numerous signed items of memorabilia. Our group would tour the bars of Lourdes and we had a grand old time. At the time I didn't really get the concept of a "mental age of five". As I had a reading age of five, I sort of figured we were peers.

I asked Stephen if he went to school. He told me rather indignantly that he was "grown up". He had a job and he earned proper money. His folks, hearing the conversation and clearly worried I may inadvertently say something which would upset Stephen, butted in and said "Oh, Stephens the richest of the lot of us. He's a celebrity in Newcastle, as he knows all the players in the team". So now I was completely confused. Realising that I couldn't carry the conversation on with Stephen, I waited until we got back to the Hotel. I had a conversation with my Dad which went like this.

Me : "Dad, something I don't understand, if Stephen has a mental age of five, how come he doesn't have to go to school?"
Dad : "He's 27, you stop going to school when you are 18".
Me : "But he'll never grow up properly if he doesn't get taught?"
Dad : "No, boys like Stephen grow up, but their brain is only able to do stuff a five year old can do"
Me : "But Stephen has a job and earns more money than his parents".
Dad : "That's a figure of speech. They have special jobs for people like Stephen, so he can do his bit and feel proud of himself, People like Stephen aren't lazy or worthless, they are just different"
Me : "So why do people say he's got a mental age of fivc if he's got a job and he can do stuff?"
Dad : "Well, we use these sorts of labels so we know how to help him. It doesn't mean he thinks like a five year old. It doesn't mean he's broken in any way, it just means we know he might need some help"

So anyway, I then decided that when we say someone has a mental age of X or a reading age of Y, all it really meant was we need some help. Maybe a bit more help, but that is all. We are not worth any more just because our "mental age number" is higher. So hold that thought. People with a lower "mental age" just need some help. They are not "Broken"

So anyway, fast forward a year. Same hotel, same group of people. I was really looking forward to seeing my friend Stephen again. We turned up, but Stephen was not their. I was really upset. Where was he. Later that evening, my Dad took me to one side and said "Roger, don't talk about Stephen. He died a couple of months ago and his family are very upset. They'd already booked the holiday and it would be better if you didn't keep reminding them of him. Don't mention him again". For some reason, I'd not actually realised that he'd died. No one had thought to say, so they'd just said "He's not here".

A couple of days later, his mum took me to one side. She told me Stephen had really been looking forward to seeing me and talking about football. Having been told by my Dad not to discuss him, I was now in a quandry. I said "I was really looking forward to seeing him. I brought some football cards for him". At this, his mother burst into tears. I expected to get an almighty clobbering from my Dad, for upsetting her, after he'd told me to say nothing. When we got back to the hotel, I said "Are you cross?" He said "Why should I be". I then said "I upset Stephens mum..." He replied "No, she wanted to talk about him. It helps women sometimes to have a good cry". I was now even more confused.

Our little group had our own chaplain. At one of the masses, he said a few words about Stephen. He said something along the lines that when you get to the Pearly Gates, there is a massive long queue. People like Stephen, who have had a very hard life, are ushered to the front as a reward for putting up with a difficult life. He then said that those of us who care for people like Stephen and were his friends will also get to jump the long queue and Stepehen is up there waiting to see us all and get us to the front. He said that was one reason we should all be happy we had Stephen in our life and were his friends.

Over the Easter holiday, I got to thinking about these events. Probably for the first time in 40 odd years. The events at Mapledown School, where the Council has cut the funding for after school clubs and family respite activities by £45,000, whilst still finding millions to do up Tory wards (see earlier blog) have disturbed me. As I consider the life of Stephen, the superstar, who knew the 1970 Newcastle team and was richer than the rest of his family, I considered how the Coalition had closed Remploy factories, presumably the type of place Stephen worked? Wheras back in the late 1960's we had the decency to see that Stephen needed to be valued, now we have the spectacle of Tory Councillor Tom Davey, spitting bile at the disabled and benefits claiments. Lets face it, if Stephen was in Barnet today, there is no Remploy to give him dignity. To Mr Davey, he'd be just another scrounger on benefits.

As I consider the government we collectively elected and the changes they've made and the council we collectively elected, the type of people they have in power and the policies they are enacting on people like Stephen, I conclude that I have got it all wrong. The only people who are broken is us. We are the sick bastards who tolerate politicians who stick the boot into the likes of Stephen and all of the other disabled people and people who for whatever reason cannot get a job.

The Government claim that "keeping open Remploy factories is not economically viable". Well lets take this argument to its logical extreme, Have we reached the point where only those who are economically viable have a role to play in society? Are only the economically viable going to receive medical treatment? Is this a society in which you want to live?

My youth taught me that it is horrible to be mocked, excluded and treated differently. Life experience has taught me that people like Stephen can enrich your life. They can only do this if they have a chance.

Dean Cohen - The man who lined the pavements of Golders Green with gold !

Being a rather lazy sod, and given that it's a bank holiday and I was going to have it off today (i meant from blogging, you have such a filthy mind!). I will keep it brief.

My fellow blogger Mrs Angry has put some streling work into exposing the Pork Barrelling that has gone on in Golders Green, where her stirling research has shown the Tory Cabinet member for roads, who is the local Councillor for Golders Green has channelled over a Million quid towards to doing up the roads. Strangely, one of the most deprived parts - Colindale got diddly squat (That's sweet fa to those of you unfamiliar with Barnet Eye Lingo!).

Now the Eagle eyed amongst you willspot just how well some Tory marginal wards have done in regards to the allocations. It is shocking how much money the Tory administration have thrown at their core voters, whilst at the same time cutting budgets for Mapledown School, which has seen £45,000 slashed from its budget.

The figures speak for themselves. This administration has a double standard. Councillors like Dean Cohen line the streets of their own wards with gold whilst slashing the budget for those wards they really don't think matter. Leafy Totteridge, where the Leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius lives has seen its budget nearly quadrupled since last year. Clearly Dean Cohen likes to keep a smile on his bosses face.

As I said, I am keeping it brief. Please take a minute to read the full story on Mrs Angry's blog. She deserves a Community Award for her expose of this sleazy behaviour - http://wwwbrokenbarnet.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/scandalous-barnet-councils-million.html

Is it just my imagination or is the london Borough of Barnet starting to resemble a dodgy Banana republic, where the rich live in Palaces and the poor live how they can? Tomorrow night, I will do an overnight shift at a homeless nightshelter in Mill Hill, something I never dreamed I'd see. On the first Sunday of every month, my Church, the Sacred Heart  in Mill Hill organises a collection for a food bank in Colindale (the ward which got nothing in an allocation based on 'need'). The foodbank is non denominational. We just collect the grub and drop it off for distribution amongst families who are struggling. The person running the scheme has been amazed by the number of locals in Mill Hill, of all faiths and none, who have heard about the collection and dropped in bags of food. I believe that the people of the London Borough of Barnet are generous and would not approve of such disgusting unfairness, if they actually realised what was going on. Homeless shelters and foodbanks are sadly a part of the Tory Project in Mill Hill. That would be bad enough but to find that the rich wards are being subsidised by the poor ones is simply disgusting.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Why Religion has to evolve

Happy Easter to all the readers of the Barnet Eye, whatever faith or none you may have. As is our tradition, on such Holy occasions I like to share a few of my personal thoughts on the subjects of faith and religion with my readers. Just so you know where I'm coming from, I am a rather bad Roman Catholic. I go to church and I subscribe to the philosophy of caring for my neighbours, forgiveness and trying not to be judgemental. There are issues which my views are not aligned to the church, such as contraception (the absence of families with ten children in the pews indicates I may not be alone in this). I have a strong dislike of people who try and "convert" people to any faith, especially my own, by means other than being good, caring citizens who a decent person may want to emulate. I don't use this blog to preach because I think faith is a personal journey and it seems to me that there are many paths. I get a lot out of my faith. An hour a week for quiet contemplation is something which has helped keep me sane in this troubled world. I probably shouldn't say this but many of my best blogs have been formulated during my weekly trip to mass.  Anyway that is the preamble, here is the blog.

Marie Stopes or Alexander Fleming? Which one of those two has given religion its greatest challenge in the last 100 years. A few years ago I was having a chat with a friend who is a staunch feminist. She said that Stopes had "thrown the shackles off women by inventing the contraceptive pill, allowing them to indulge in risk free sex". As any friend of mine will attest, I can be a bit of a wind up merchant and I shot back at her "Nope, actually that accolade falls to Alexander Fleming, inventor of penicillin, he removed the fear of VD, which was actually the most sensible reason for not sleeping around". My friend, who is never short of a word or two was gobsmacked. She said "I've never really thought about it, but you may in some ways be at least half right". For her, this was actually a life changing moment (well this may be me exagerrating!). She went off and thought about it, studied the subject and came to the conclusion that equality starts with access to education and medical care. Contraception will only be adopted in less developed societies when women are healthy and educated. She came back to me recently and asked a question "Do you think that the mainstream religions are 'fit for purpose'?"

This is for me a very interesting question. The reason all major religions have become successful and widely adopted is because they bring stability to society. The rules which we associate with religions were in general very sensible measures for a society in a world without antibiotics, sanitation, disinfectant and good hygiene. Without antibiotics, extra marital sex could infect the participants with life threatening contagious diseases. Without contraception it could result in the most inconvenient of sprogs. Kosher and Halal food hygiene laws ensured that the populace were far less likely to get food poisoning. And observance of the Sabbath gave everyone a much needed day off. Following these rules, would mean your particular group would have a significant advantage over other cultures. So putting all of the moral stuff to one side, if we say that in a pre 20th century society all of these religious rules were pretty sensible, how should faiths react to the developments that make these laws nothing more than sometimes inconvenient traditions?

I was raised in the Catholic tradition, so we have a tradition of "Fish on Friday" and Lentern fasting. For many of us, this means knocking boozing on the head for 40 days. I would imagine that neither of these two traditions do us any harm and some may do us some good. If the Pope said "Being Catholic means eating seven portions of vegetables a day and only eating Red meat on Sundays, Saints Days  and Thursdays, it would doubtless improve public health (assuming people listened). As for sex, if the Pope was to say "All of the rules we came out with were designed for a pre antibiotic, pre contraceptive world and things have changed, we have a new set of rules now" what would they be? I thought long and hard about this and I realised that for the Pope it isn't that easy. What would the new rules be? Only sleep with people you are in a committed relationship with, don't cheat on your spouse, use precautions if you are sleeping with someone who you don't know their sexual history and ensure that you use contraception if you don't intend having a baby are the rules most members of the secular world would generally say are sensible. Or are they? Well I think that in the UK, that is pretty much the rules that most people try and follow and society hasn't fallen apart yet. But then the UK is a special place. You may say "in what way?" Well you see we have the NHS. If you want the Pill, you go to the NHS, if you get the clap and you need some penicillin, you go to the NHS.

The problem for Poor Old Pope Francis is that most of the people he represents don't live in the UK. They don't live in countries with any health service to speak of. Contraceptives, anti biotics etc are luxuries. Would it be right for the Pope to say "Well you lot in the decandent West, who have all the food and all the money, can shag away, but the other 90% of Catholics had better follow a far more draconian set of rules, because if they embrace decadence it will kill them. Is that really fair?

Which brings us back to the conundrum at the beginning. As my friend decided, for the world to be truly equal between the genders, we have to have universal equality. Horrors such as FGM happen because in backward societies, people do not receive an education that makes them realise the wrong of the practise.

I have come to the conclusion, and you may not agree, that religion has a role to play to sort this problem out. Someone like Pope Francis has a network which is unrivalled in any other organisation. That organisation has wealth and influence. It can't address all of the worlds ills, but it can get a message to the dispossessed around the globe in a way that no other organisation can. We have a new Pope who seems to be  setting an agenda on global fairness. He seems to be keen to dump much of the baggage that has discredited the Church in the eyes of many of us. The Church, which originally rejected the theories of Charles Darwin and evolution, now has to evolve to survive. I for one hope it evolves to be a force for good in the world and find a place of relevance. Of course there are a whole multitude of faiths. These two need to evolve and adapt. Finally there is Atheism and Humanism. Both of these reject the role of faith in the world. Given the problems many Atheists and Humanists associate with faiths, this is not an unreasonable stance, but I personally think that this too has to evolve. I think that Atheism and Humanism should have a standpoint which says "We don't believe, we recognise the rights of others to believe and we will work with people who believe for the common good, where it is appropriate". For me the great challenge is global poverty. I believe all decent people of faith or no faith should find this repugnant and we should get much better at talking across boundaries and demarkations to address it. As far as I am concerned, you judge someone by their actions, not by their label. I think a Christian who tolerates unfairness is a disgrace as a human being, but no more or less so than a Jew, an Atheist or a follower of the Bug Eyed Spaghetti Monster who also tolerates unfairness. Likewise if someone is working to combat unfairness and inequality, they are a good person regardless of label.

So the first part of this evolution should be to stop judging each other by the label we wear, forget our tribal demarkations and get on with the job in hand which is making a better world. If we all signed up to that, maybe it could start to happen.

End of todays Easter Sunday Surmon !

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Thought provoking video (Contains Strong Language)

So you care? Do you care enough?

The Barneteye tweets of the week 19/4/2014

As is our tradition, here is this weeks Tweets of the week from the wierd and wonderful place that is Barnet. We feature the good, the bad and the ugly! If you see a tweet that you think qualifies, then simply reply to it, copy @Barneteye in and say #TOW

And as usual we've had some crackers.

1. From our old chum Brain Coleman, who rather oddly found it strange that none of his mates refused to sign his nomination papers for Barnet Council !

Apr 16
Nomination papers in . Many thanks to those who signed them , no one whom I approached declined


2. Deputy Leader of the Tories, Councillor Dan Thomas leaves a rather ambiguous tweet. We rather hope for all concerned that he was simply referring to a pint and nothing more exciting !

A swift one in the Griffin to live music a nice way to finish fiancée's birthday evening.

3. Mrs Angry worries that Mr Mustard was "properly tucked in" for his appearance on the BBC. What can she be referring to?

Dear me. I hope you didn't go commando on the BBC. We bloggers have standards to maintain.

4. Councillor Robert Rams has devised a new election winning strategy. Wind up his constituents who support Spurs !

can calling a fellow Jew militant be anti PC!? Anyway 3 victories this season against u means !!

5. Mill Hill Music Complex with a great (somewhat recycled) Joke

The Friday Joke Have a great Good Friday, We are open as usual !

6. Barnets fiestiest Cafe Owner stands up for independent Traders

owned by Tesco. Support local independent traders. Joie De vie in North Finchley lovely pastries

7. Richard Logue wisely advises us to watch former Barnet resident and Mill Hill Jazz Club regular, now and international superstar Imelda May last Night. Catch it on iPlayer !

Imelda May is something of a national treasure in Ireland and if you want to see why watch her on Graham Norton now on BBC 1

8. Now nationally famous, Mr Mustard revels in his national stardom?

my day is complete. Blodwen has commented on the blog. Such a lovely name and so lovely to say. Welsh & English bloggers are united

9. Barnet blogger Mr Reasonable expresses his disgust at Councillor Tom Davey's rather puerile and offensive tweets.

Whatever your politics you need to read Cllr Tom Davey's posts on Facebook. You will be horrified and revolted.

10. Barnet Unison release their Easter single - A surefire, toe tapping hit.

Sing along to “A Tale of Bob in Barnet” “When he called there was no one there.”

That's all folks !!! Hope you enjoyed them all as much as I did !












Friday, 18 April 2014

The Friday Joke -18/4/2014 - Stupidity !

A man was driving when he saw the flash of a traffic camera. He figured that his picture had been taken for exceeding the limit, even though he knew that he was not speeding... Just to be sure, he went around the block and passed the same spot, driving even more slowly, but again the camera flashed. Now he began to think that this was quite funny, so he drove even slower as he passed the area again, but the traffic camera again flashed. He tried a fourth time with the same result.. He did this a fifth time and was now laughing when the camera flashed as he rolled past, this time at a snail's pace... Two weeks later, he got five tickets in the mail for driving without a seat belt..

(one that even the now nationally famous Mr Mustard would have trouble getting off)