Thursday, 31 December 2009

Man and Woman of the year 2010 - David Young & Yvonne Hossacks

I can't let the year pass without a mention of the Man of the Year - David Young, who took on the might of Barnet Council and won.  The BBC lists all of the recipients of honours this year - Jensen Button, Status Quo and Patrick Stewart to name a few. All fine candidates, I'm sure, but how many of them have saved a life? How many of them have removed a climate of fear in which hundreds of people were living? How many have shown huge personal courage in their twighlight years. For those of you who don't know of David Young, he's the guy who lives in sheltered accomodation in Barnet and took the council to the High Court when they passed the decison to remove the wardens. Barnet tried every trick in the book, including trying to have his solicitor Yvonne Hossacks struck off (again thrown out by a wise judge). Which leads us nicely to the woman of the year, Yvonne Hossacks. I hope and pray that in some small way this blog has helped them in their fight.

Her Majesty the Queen should summon the dynamic duo (Young and Hossacks) to the Palace and bestow the highest honour she can on them forthwith. I'd personally like to see her Maj also send the author of this awful policy, Barnet Council Leader,  Lynne Hillan, to the Tower for a period of reflection

As an Elderly lady who receives an excellent warden service at the taxpayers expense, I'm sure our good Queen can appreciate why these two are my man and woman of the year. Massive hat tip here to VickiM for reminding me of the compelling need to bestow this award (for what it's worth).

The Barnet Eye wishes all of it's readers a fantastic New Year. Lets all make a New Years resolution to fight injustice in this world in all it's shapes and forms.

Gritting in Barnet : Latest broadcast from the ministry of truth

Check out the latest video from the Ministry of Truth at Barnet Council. Note the nicely gritted sideroad pavements shown. I saw no sideroad pavements gritted anywhere by the council, even several days after the event. Enjoy.

2009 Personal Highlights

Happy New Year to all Barnet Eye readers. As we approach the end of the decade, I thought I'd share a few personal highlights and lowpoints from 2009 with you.

Highlights - Falsedots gig for Unison at Claddagh Ring in November, a truly memorable night. Gig Highlights. Public Image at the Electric Ballroom. Smokey Robinson at the Roundhouse for BBC Electric proms. Political highlight - getting asked to represent the Lib Dems in Mill Hill Ward. Personal highlight - My daughter Madeleine becoming 1500 metre 13 year old National Swimming Champion in July at the National Swimming Championships in Sheffield. My Son Matthews team, Watling FC winning their league at Under 10 level in May. Winning my standards case against Brian Coleman in September.

Low points - My much loved mother in law, Margaret passing away from Cancer in March. This cast a massive shadow over the year. A certain Mill Hill Landowners disrepespect for the people of Mill Hill and Barnet with his brazen attempts to spoil views of the Green Belt. Sad news about a 2 former bass players from my band the False Dots.

Other points of note : Our music shop/ studio reception was demolished as part of a redevelopment. We moved into a portacabin in April and we're still there. Found a great talent, Connie and are working on some superb recordings with her at the studio. Manchester City waved goodbye to Mark Hughes in controversial circumstances and hello to Roberto Mancini. Whatever his plus and minus points, he must be the coolest manager on the planet. For a rock and roll Man City fan that is IMPORTANT !!!!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

My fave picture of the Year

This picture was taken at our gig for Barnet Unison by my good friend Derek Treadwell. It's Adi Denton on bass on the left and my good self on the right. I suspect that this may well be the picture for our forthcoming album.

I'm hoping to organise a pretty major gig to raise money for cancer charities - The MacMillan Appeal and the Teenage Cancer Trust in March. I normally organise at least one a year. We were going to do one in March this year, but as my mother in law passed away from cancer at the start of March, I was too preoccupied.

Anyone who is interested in my music or my band, the False Dots can check out a few tunes on our "myspace site" - - I'll be updating this shortly with some newer tunes, picture and other info.

Hope you like the piccie

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Arrandene Open Space in the snow - part 2

A couple of you said you enjoyed the pictures I posted last week of Arrandene Open space. You also said how important you thought the protection of the green belt is. On boxing day, I nipped in to the Adam and Eve pub for a pre lunch sharpener. I bumped into several friends on their way for a walk across the fields to Barnet. The people of Mill Hill love our open spaces. I am going to be doing a whole series of pictures of the good and the bad of the green belt over the coming weeks. If you want a nice, pleasant walk to appreciate great views of Mill Hill, drive to Mill Hill Park, and have a stroll up the Arrandene meadow around to  the brook. On your way back, there's a great little cafe in Mill Hill Park, where you can enjoy a nice warming cup of tea

Monday, 28 December 2009

Where are Barnet Council putting the 22 new traveller sites?

Boris Johnson has set a legal requirement on the London Borough of Barnet to construct 22 new sites in the Borough for travellers. This arbitary number has been imposed on Barnet without consultation. Rather hypocritically, Mayor of Barnet, Brian Coleman has accepted a well paid job from Boris running the fire and emergency services. Coleman sounded off about this imposition by Boris, but didn't see fit to actually give up his well paid job in protest.

Unlike Brian Coleman, the Barnet Eye does not go around blindly criticising proposals until we see the details. This requirement has been known for many months and the Barnet Eye has been making enquiries as to the size and location of these camps. We are also interested to know whether they indicated that there will be a massive increase in the numbers of travellers or whether the proposal is just to make proper sites for travellers already living within the borough in less suitable sites.

This blog has long championed the green belt and we have major concerns that several sites have been earmarked which will have a major impact on the green belt within the borough. The council owns huge swathes of land in areas such as Mill Hill and Barnet, and given that travellers do not erect permanent structures, it is far easier to circumvent planning regs for mobile homes.

As this legal requirement has been known for many months, the Barnet Eye has made enquiries as to the location of these sites and been told that they have not been decided. Given that this is a legal requirement why could this be? The answer, sadly, is rather obvious. There are council elections in May and the Conservatives know that many of these sites will be in marginal wards such as Mill Hill and High Barnet. They know that the proposals will not be popular with their voters and they do not want the fact that a Conservative Mayor of London imposed them to become widely known before the election. In short they are hoping to keep it all quiet until after the election.

The Barnet Eye believes that important issues such as this, which may have a huge effect on the green belt and open spaces should be matters of public consultation. Lets be clear about this. Boris Johnson has made the decree, so we HAVE TO HAVE the sites. The Barnet Eye believes that it is hugely important to make sure these are properly sited and that locals have a say in the important issues that are raised. As with many things, I suspect that Leader of Barnet Council, Lynne Hillan will simply wait till after the election, then impose them wherever she feels like it, without any consultation whatsoever.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Pure, white and deadly

Sadly for those of you who love a good scandal, this blog isn't an exclusive revelation of Barnet Council Leader Lynne Hillans usage of naughty substances, or any other politicians for that matter. This blog is about something killing and harming far more people than cocaine in Barnet.

I'm talking about diabetes. For many people this is a disease caused by lifestyle. It can be avoided. I knew nothing of diabetes until my mother started going out with a lovely man who suffered from the condition. When she met him, he was recovering from a broken neck, caused when he passed out due to low blood sugar. His life was a constant battle to monitor his blood sugar levels.

At this time of year, our children stuff in cakes, chocolates, sweets, all manner of things stuffed full of sugar. Now this won't surprise you. What may is how much sugar is in the food we eat for our regular meals. The Government Guidelines say that you should eat no more than 90g of sugars per day.

Tin Heinz Beans - 20.8g
Tin Heinz Tomato soup - 19.6g
Frey Bentos Steak & Kidney pie - 1.4g
Muller Fruit corner - 20g
Bowl of Cookie Crisp cereal with Skimmed milk - 16.6g

When you look at the soft drinks our children drink, the figures are even more alarming

330 mg Tin of Coca Cola - 35g

So if you drink 2 tins of Coke and then eat a tin of beans, thats your recommended sugar for the day. Once you start regularly exceeding this level, you start massively increasing the risk of developing diabetes. I never gave this any thought whatsoever until I got to know someone who suffered from the condition. Typical symptoms of diabetes are exhaustion, thirstyness. Undetected or uncontrolled, it can destroy the body and cause blindness and loss of limbs due to poor circulation. For many it is only controlled by daily insulin injections.

You can reduce the chances of getting this horrible disease by  regular exercise and healthy eating. What troubles me is the number of children who are quite visibly not eating healthily and not getting enough exercise. This is where the new leader of Barnet Council. Lynne Hillan comes in. It's not her job to make the children of the borough eat their dinner or to kick them out for a game of football. It is her job to make sure that there ample opportunities for them to participate in sport. I urge her to make a commitment to improve provision of participant sport in Barnet. She could start by banning the sale of playing fields and freezing rents for all sports clubs on council owned property.

She could also take measures to ensure that all Barnet Schools have a healthy eating policy and all children are educated as to the risks of diabetes and bad lifestyles. I suspect that in the long term an effective policy will be far cheaper than ignoring the problem and hoping it goes away.

Being fair to Councillor Hillan and Barnet Council, it is primarily parents responsibility to educate their children in these matters. It really isn't hard, just look at the side of the tin or on the packet. That tells you how  much sugar is in the product. Even more importantly, why not kick little Johnny off the playstation and go for a walk with him. I'm not really one for big lectures and I know the last thing we all want is a nanny state telling us how to live our lives. Having said that, I only started taking an interest in the subject and understanding the consequences when I met someone and learned the facts. Once you know the risks, it's up to you to decide.

Brian Coleman : A bad year for Lynne Hillans teaboy

Where did it all go so wrong? Why did it all go so wrong? At the start of the year, our (then soon to be) Mayor of Barnet, Brian Coleman was riding high. He knew he would soon be fulfilling his lifelong ambition of becoming Mayor and he was widely seen as the kingmaker in the Barnet Conservative Party. He reveled in his role as the "Marmite Man" of Barnet politics. You either loved him or you loathed him. Either way, he had a high profile and a solid base of supporters who he'd carefully built up and who he could marshall behind whatever position he wished to take.

Brian ends the year widely discredited. Strangely this was starkly demonstrated by two issues where he was probably completely right. Brian was a big opponent of the Brent Cross redevelopment scheme. He felt that it was the wrong scheme for a leafy suburb such as Barnet. Sadly for Brian, the other events of the year actually meant his opposition to the scheme was used by the PR for the scheme to demonstrate that it was only oddballs and fringe elements who opposed the scheme. The other big illustration of his diminishing influence was the election of Lynne Hillan as Leader of the Council and the Barnet Conservatives. Previously Brian would have expected to play a lynchpin role, but he knew Hillan was the wrong candidate. When he did the maths and realised he couldn't stop her, he bottled it. He didn't even bother to turn up to vote in the election.

Brian has had his year in the sun as Mayor. Sadly for him, it won't be remembered fondly. As the only sitting mayor to have been found guilty by the Standards committee, of breaching Barnets code, it was pretty embarrassing.  All of this started by Brians lack of judgement in sending a rather stupid email and then not doing the decent thing and apologising. Probably even more embarrassing and even more damaging was his "odious toad" at fellow ex QE Boys schoolmate and colleague on the GLA John Biggs.This was filmed for posterity and has caused much merriment on the various blogs.

This was the moment when my attitude towards Brian Coleman changed. I suspect this was true for many people. For me, he stopped being a strident, arrogant bully and became a rather sad figure, filled with Pathos. Why? Well I received a couple of emails from ex schoolmates of Biggs & Coleman who explained how Coleman was teased and bullied at school. Listening to Colemans comments to Biggs in this light, it became clear that Brian Colemans outrageous behaviour over the years is classic behaviour of a little boy who has been bullied. His many and varied outbursts over the years are his way at lashing back at the "big boys in the playground". As such I cannot view him through the "marmite goggles" I previously used. I just feel sorry for him.

Hearing how some Tories have referred to him as Lynne Hillans teaboy, given the lack of respect  and inability to exert influence, I've almost started to feel sorry for him. The emphasis is on the almost as he is a grown up and he's brought it all on himself.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

First Picture of New Barnet Conservative Council Cabinet

Group Photo of Barnet Conservative Council Cabinet
L-R Councillor Matthew Offord, Leader Lynne Hillan, Councillor Andrew Harper, Councillor Richard Cornelius, Councillor Melvin Cohen, Councillor Helena Hart, Councillor Daniel Thomas, Councillor Sachin Rajput, Councillor Robert Rams, Councillor Daniel Webb.
The new Cabinet would like to thank Mayor Brian Coleman for making the tea and bringing the biscuits whilst they celebrated their new jobs and would like to say sorry for not bothering to turn up on time to welcome him into the chamber aferwards at the last cabinet meeting.

Members of the public will be pleased to see the new busts of former council leaders Victor Lyon and Brian Salinger in the background.

Please note this picture is a spoof. Any likeness between any member of Barnet Council and totally wooden puppets on strings is purely coincidental

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas to all readers of the Barnet Eye

This blog is signing off now for Xmas. Normal service will be resumed after Christmas when I've sobered up. Here's my favourite Christmas video

I love the nativity scene in this vid. It sort of sums Christmas up for me. Or perhaps what Christmas should be.

By the way, PIL at the Electric Ballroom were superb

Happy Christmas - Thameslink Victory for Mill Hill Commuters

This blog has won a huge victory for the commuters of Mill Hil. First Capital Connect are offering 5 days free travel to all holders of season tickets of 1 month or longer.

The full story of the First Capital Connect  compensation is reported in the Mill Hill and Edgware Times here. This blog has been relentlessly campaigning for decent compensation for Thameslink customers since the start of disruption. It seems that First Capital connect have finally realised that it's good for a business to look after it's customers.We've had more hits on this theme than any other issue since the blog started.

If you have a season ticket, make sure you claim your five free days travel. A big well done to the Liberal Democrat Candidate for Hendon, Matthew Harris, who arranged a meeting with First Capital Connect earlier in the week and put across the concerns of commuters to senior managers. It is good to see that some if our politicians are pulling their fingers out to represent the people.

An exciting edition to the world of Barnet Blogs - Councillor Robert Rams

Would you Adam and Eve it. Just what I wanted for Christmas - A New Tory blogger in Barnet. Now as regular readers of this blog will know, Councillor Robert Rams is famous in Barnet for his many achievements and all of his sterling work, put in to make the Borough a better place. Hardly a day has gone by without this blog celebrating his hard work and his efforts on our behalf. In fact we've been so snowed under listing all of the great things he's done that there's hardly any time left to praise all of his Conservative colleagues.

Well all of the thousands of citizens of Barnet who read this blog solely to find out what the esteemed CouncillorRams has been up to, I'm pleased to say that you no longer need to come here, you can go straight to his blog - - it's fascinating stuff.

If I were you I'd bookmark it. Mind you, be warned, it's so fascinating that you may have to give up all of your other hobbies. With a blog like this, you just know he's a star.


I took this picture on my walks around Arrandene open space in Mill Hill. A fine old tree in the snow, artistically decorated with a graffiti tag. Has this tree been decorated in such a way to artistically enhance the beauty of one of Mill Hill's most fantastic open spaces? Or is it just an unintelligent yobbos way of "marking" rather like cats urinating on the garden fence?

I've spent my life trying to get people to be creative and artistic. When I asked the council what they are doing about graffiti in Barnet, they gave me details of how they have "cleaning squads", how they've "targetted" graffiti artists. How they've increased the number of police and PCSO's on the beat.

Why is it so far beyond the wit of Barnet Council, Lynne Hillan, Mike Freer, the whole lot of them, to wake up to the fact that this is the result of boredom and lack of facilities for youngsters? When I was at Finchley Catholic High School, I got caught writing an obscene message about a female member of staff on the wall of the boys toilet. Sadly for me, I was caught by the teacher she was married to. As the teacher quite liked me, he arranged for me to repaint the boys toilets, at my own expense, over the half term. He agreed not to tell the headmaster, who was looking for a reason to expel me at the time.

There are plenty of old folks who have flats that could do with a lick of paint. Is it that hard to figure out a solution to this and maybe give a few youngsters a useful skill.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Beauty of Mill Hill in the Snow - views of Arrandene

I love living in Mill Hill and I love the snow. I took the mutt out for a walk this morning and it was truly stunning. I hope this piccies give you a little pleasure.This is a truly great city, today I was out walking through a picture postcard landscape and tonight I'll be watching Public Image Ltd at the Electric Ballroom. That's why I love Mill Hill and I love London.

Many parts of Mill Hill are in the green belt. This is often called the lungs of London and it gives us the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of nature on our doorstep.

The only reason that the Green Belt is still green is because of strict laws prohibiting the development of the land. Only greedy property developers and those politicians who they have in their pockets are in favour of destroying the green belt. Have a look at these pictures and tell me if you think this area would look better with a block of flats on it?

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Barnet Council latest - Motorists more important than hospitals

I was shocked to read this press release from Barnet Council. It includes the following insight into the thinking of Barnet Council. This designates their strategy for road gritting and keeping access open
  • priority one routes include principal roads and main roads. These routes are treated prior to adverse weather conditions and in times of snow, continuously until the route is safe.
  • priority two routes include town centres, transport hubs, hospitals, public buildings and schools


It seems that in the priority list of Barnet Council, car drivers are a higher priority than hospitals and schools. Surely keeping hospitals safe should be the no 1 priority for the council. Brian Coleman has often stated that motorists come first in Barnet, but I hadn't realised that this was taken quite so literally.

On the subject of the weather generally, I have a helpful tip for the CEO of Barnet Council and  also to new Council Leader Lynne Hillan. If you click On This Site it Tells you can see the weather forecast for Barnet.  Why do I mention this? Well the Barnet Times leading story is about an emergency gritting operation throughout Barnet. If they'd bothered to check the weather forecast, they'd not have needed an "emergency operation". They'd have had a "planned operation to deal with forecast bad weather". It's not rocket science. You keep an eye on the weather forecast and you plan action accordingly.

I've lived in Mill Hill most of my life and I remember the good old days when Barnet Council used to grit sideroads and pavements. Now correct me if I'm wrong but we pay more council tax than ever. What for? It certainly isn't to have the sideroads and pavements cleared. My guess is that when I was a boy, the council didn't have office upon office full of senior managers, managers and undermanagers. I doubt that when it snowed there were teams of senior management on over £100,000 per year holding emergency strategy meetings to decide gritting strategies.

The system then was far simpler. When it was icy or snowed, they'd allocate the gritters an area and they'd go and grit them. The foreman would make sure that the crews got out and an ample supply of salt and grit was held at council depots as it doesn't go off. I've heard  talk that the Council are "quite pleased with how they handled the conditions" and that "The lessons have been learned". The mere fact that all of the old people in my road and surrounding roads are stuck in, for fear of slipping on icy pavements doesn't matter.

Just one other little sidenote. In Sheltered Housing blocks where the wardens can put a bit of slat down. If Lynne Hillan gets her way and sacks these, what will happen during future icy spells? This is why David Young has persued the case through the courts.

All in all this whole fiasco sums up the attitude of "I'm all right jack Barnet". They'll happily spend a million pounds reopening Partingdale Lane, originally shut for safety reasons, but they wont spend a sum of less than half that to keep sheltered housing wardens for the elderly, the infirm and the disabled. It's there in black and white what their priority is. Scandalous.

Monday, 21 December 2009

BNP Barnbrooks Bonkers Blatherings

Every time I'm depressed, I have a surefire way of cheering myself up. I read BNP GLA member Richard Barnbrooks on line column in the Daily Telegraph. Well I've had a pig of a day today. I needed some cheering up and Tricky Dicky didn't disappoint. His most recent post details his opposition to giving migrant graduates jobs when 2.5 million British people are unemployed. Now like me, Tricky Dicky is dyslexic, so maybe he confused the word "graduate" for "unskilled layabout". It is plain to anyone that the reason we give migrant graduates jobs is because they are skilled. They have studied and can do jobs that sadly can't be filled from the local job pool. Now I have IT qualifications, can run a music studio and am also trained as a painter and decorator. Just suppose I found myself on the dole and there was a vacancy for a qualified Proctologist at Barnet General. Should I get the job or should someone who is a migrant Proctologist? Now clearly Tricky Dicky needs to see a qualified proctologist to see if his blatherings can be stemmed but surely even he realises that an influx of trained people, who are highly intelligent is good for the economy.

The next blog, I reproduce here in its entirity without comment. Who needs to comment on this :-

I would like to formally apologise in respect of statements I made in a video which was filmed during September 2008  and subsequently published.

In the video I said "In Barking and Dagenham alone, 3 weeks ago, there was a murder of a young girl. We don't know who's done it, her girlfriend was attacked outside an educational institute . Again, 2 weeks ago, there was another attack by knives on the streets of Barking and Dagenham where 2 people were murdered."

These statements were unintentionally inaccurate and I apologise for giving out this information based on anecdotal reports and thereafter for not ensuring that the videos were removed or at least amended, once I knew the information to be incorrect. I have a passionate interest in the scourge of knife-crime which affects our whole community and will continue to speak out on the issue. I have no wish, however, to stoke fear of crime and realise the importance of conveying accurate information. I will seek to work far more closely with the Police and other agencies in future to ensure that I am able to do this.

The next story on Tricky Dickys blog is one bemoaning the fact that the government has given schools in his area £18.5 Million.  Clearly out of touch with reality he makes the following statement:-
In a well-to-do middle class area, this PR stunt might succeed. Because the prosperous liberal luvvies haven’t themselves been directly affected by the problems which accompany population expansion.
 Does "out of touch Dicky" really believe this nonsense? Perversely having stated that more prosperous areas have been less badly affected, he moans :-
And it’s even more interesting that of the 16 boroughs perceived to be in need of this would-be rescue package, Barking and Dagenham has been allocated the most- nearly £18 500 000.
Does  Barking & Dagenham need more cash than other areas or not? Barmy Barnbrook is the only politician I've ever heard about moaning that his area has been given a large pot of money. As with all BNP related tripe, the answer is to find a scapegoat for all your ills and blame them for everything. It never ever occurs to Barnbrooke and his ilk that we need to raise standards for everyone, not just one small section of the community. It never occurs to him that hospitals, public transport, schools and many other parts of the economy would collapse without immigrant workers. These people are often amongst the hardest working and lowest paid members of society. They don't live in Buckingham Palace and they don't get paid £50,000 a year by the GLA for writing not a single press release for a year at the GLA.

That is the trouble with the BNP and Barnbrook. No GLA member has written less press releases than him in the last year. None has done less work. The only thing he's done is made a video riddle with "inaccuracies". Despite this Barnbrook finishes his latest Telegraph article with the following statement :-
And we need to stop paying people to stay at home and do nothing.
My message to Barnbrook :-


Barnet Eye Spotlight - Councillor John Hart

Councillor John Hart is Mill Hill's sole Conservative Councillor. He is also the reason I'm standing for the Lib Dems in Mill Hill ward. Is this because I hate, loath and despise him? Not at all, I actually quite like him on a personal level. I'm not going to get involved in saying bad things about John Hart as a person but in August he was interviewed by the Guardian and came out with some of the most crass and upsetting statements imaginable about people being cared for by Barnet Council. This was the point at which I realised I had to take some sort of stand and put my neck on the chopping block. What did he say that so offended me?
John Hart, a 77-year old retired army officer who has served for 15 years as a Conservative councillor for Mill Hill, puts it bluntly. "We are all for decentralising and letting people do their own thing," he said. "It is cardinal Tory stuff. People should be as independent as they can for as long as they can. "With council tenants, and I'll admit I am putting it crudely, it has been a lot of 'my arse needs wiping, and somebody from the council can come and do it for me.'
There were two aspects of this comment which I found to be offensive and which mean that I think John does not deserve to be reelected to serve Mill Hill.

Firstly the Barnets Conservative Council have been trying (with increasing levels of desperation and failure) to abolish the wardens at Sheltered housing locations. This ended up in the High Court with
Barnet losing a judicial review. Barnet Council conducted a consultation, which they then ignored. How Hart can say "We are all for decentralising and letting people do their own thing," he said. "It is cardinal Tory stuff. People should be as independent as they can for as long as they can!" then vote to abolish the wardens, stealing the independence of elderly people is beyond me. Some of these people will be forced into full time care, adding millions to the councils care budget. He talks about decentralising and letting people do their own thing, but the Barnet Tories IGNORED the consultation results where 85% of tenants rejected their proposals. John Hart is one of Barnets elder statesmen. He should be standing up for the elderly and disabled of Barnet who live in Sheltered accomodation, not his Tory cronies. How anyone can claim, as Barnets Torys are doing that getting rid of three quarters of all wardens and making the rest have to drive from site to site is an improvement, just shows how deluded they all are. That's why they lost in court.

The second reason I found this highly offensive was a reason far closer to home. Last year my Father in Law died. For the last 18 months of his life, he needed (to use John Harts lovely phrase) "someone from the council to come round and wipe his arse". To get out of his chair he needed a team of council carers to winch him, wash him, dress him, change his diapers. They visited three times a daya.I'd really rather not have to share this, but I was so outraged that someone who is involved in the care of the elderly, sick and disabled just should not say these type of things. My Father in Law was a proud man. He didn't like the way he lived his life. There are hundreds of people in a similar situation to him in Barnet. Some in Council houses, sheltered accomodation and some in private homes. John Harts comments stigmatise these people. Many of them lived, worked hard and paid taxes all of their lives. In short, I think that John Harts comments were an insult to my father in law and the many people in his situation in Barnet.

Sadly the Barnet Conservatives, lead by Lynne Hillan are completely out of touch. They don't realise that sheltered housing wardens save money by keeping people out of full time care. They don't realise that the elderly who need their "arses wiping" are the people who built this country with their work and their taxes. I had no appreciation of the care provided by Barnet Council to the elderly until my mother had a stroke and needed meals on wheels and then my father in law went senile and needed constant care. I have nothing but praise for the staff who provide it for Barnet. Sadly they are let down by the people at the top. That is why I think John Hart and his Conservative colleagues should not be running the Council. That is why I think John Hart should not be representing Mill Hill.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Rage Against The Machine

I am overjoyed that Rage Against The Machine have the no 1 spot for Xmas. I can't remember the last time a proper rock and roll band did that with a proper song. I was at my nephews 18th birthday party when the news came through and his friends were all overjoyed. There is nothing which makes me happier than the British public showing its contempt for those who take it for granted.

I run one of Londons most successful independent music studios. I send hearty congratulations to RATM from Mill Hill Music Complex. I hope that this inspires a new generation of individualist and original Rock and Roll musicians to get out there. On Saturday night I was down in Brixton to watch the Pogues Xmas show, which was packed to the rafters. On Tuesday, I'm going to Camden to watch Public Image Ltd.  I cannot think of any less "manufactured" or "packaged" bands than the Pogues or PIL. I've been saying for some time that the music scene needs a massive kick. I just hope that this is that kick. Christmas certainly came early in this house with the news.

Fiona Bulmer - a voice in the wilderness

Spare a thought for Councillor Fiona Bulmer.Three weeks ago she looked likely to take over as leader of Barnet Council. She had the numbers, she had the credibility and she had some new ideas. Although a member of Mike Freers cabinet, she wasn't closely associated with his biggest cock ups and had proven herself a competent administrator in the education portfolio, one area where Barnet has done well.

The trouble was that Fi Fi underestimated the lengths to which Lynne Hillan would go to get the job. Deals were done, cabinet positions with juicy allowances were offered and when the votes were cast, Hillan was in and Fi Fi had to take "The Long Walk".

Now as regular Barnet Eye readers will know, the Barnet Conservatives have more leeks than a St Davids day parade. A strange list has reached "The Barnet Eye" containing the likely shape of Fiona Bulmers proposed cabinet, to take the Tories into the 2010 election. Having seen the list, I now realise that Jack Cohen, Leader of the Barnet Lib Dems has the one character that all good leaders need. He's lucky. Instead of facing a broadly balanced and competent team, he's facing one there purely because they dobbed their vote for Hillan and are collecting the rewards for their support.

News reaches the Barnet Eye of the possibility of two well organised independent candidates standing against certain high profile Conservatives in seats considered safe. Since I've been a Lib Dem candidate, I've lost count of the number of people who've said to me "I've always voted Tory/Labour in the past but I'll be voting Lib Dems this time." The reason? The Labour voters are disillusioned with Gordon Brown and his government and the Tory voters are furious about Sheltered Housing wardens and the Icelandic fiasco. As the election looms, voters who are fed up often switch back to their default party. Had the Tories elected Bulmer, this would have been a much easier decision. As it is Hillan is in charge and the warden fiasco will roll on and on, eroding their support and undermining their credibility.

I wonder exactly what thoughts will go through Fiona Bulmers mind, if as I expect the Tories in Barnet do extraordinarily badly, whilst nationally they do quite well?

Saturday, 19 December 2009

A dyslexic Christmas with the remedials and the idiots from Harrow

On Thursday I went up to watch my son in the St Vincents Christmas carol concert. I guess you'd have to have a heart of stone not to be touched by such a show. As I watched my mind went back 40 odd years to when I was a pupil there. The school was completely rebuilt a few years ago and has fantastic facilities. The children are treated to the most spectacular view of London and I can still remember standing at the 240 bus stop with Dale Malone, trying to spot the Post Office Tower on the horizon. It was newly built then.

My school days were not really that easy a time. Being dyslexic in the 60's was, shall we say, challenging. In those heady days that many hark back to, we weren't called dyslexic, we were called "thick". I didn't start talking till I was 4, for a period I had remedial speech sessions. They didn't really work as I never said a single word.The family were shocked when aged 4 I exclaimed at the dinner table "I wanna piece of cake". My mother shrieked "He speaks". She told me a few years ago that she was stunned when she told Mrs O'Keefe, the lovely old Irish lady who used to clean the house about this and she replied "Oh, he's been talking to me for years". I read that Albert Einstien was also dyslexic and didn't speak till he was 5. His first words were also at the dinner table. He exclaimed "I don't like peas". When challenged as to why he'd not spoken before, he replied "Everything was alright until now".

At school, it was a struggle. I was in the remedial reading and writing classes. Teaching methods were slightly different then. I was called to the front of the class and told to write Train on the blackboard. I spelt out T-R-I-A-N. The teacher said "no, that's wrong" and spelled it out correctly. She then said "now write it under". I spelled out T-R-I-A-N. She slapped me around the face and called me a troublemaker (aged 5). They say corporal punishment doesn't work, but I can honestly say I never spelled train wrong again. One of the disadvantages of being in the remedial set was that you didn't get to take part in any of the Christmas plays or anything else where parents may attend. As I was the youngest of six children and my parents had probably sat through hundreds of such events, they were quite pleased.

Whilst my schooling was failing miserably, I was actually highly successful at modelling. My sister had been cast in a Tizer commercial in 1966 and when we went down, the "little brother" had not arrived so I was cast in the role. I starred in many commercials, the most high profile being Heinz beans, Cadburys chocolate, Galaxy Chocolate and Angel Delight. The Heinz Beans ad won the director a best Directed Advert award at the Cannes Festival. One of my classmates teased me for not being cast in the school play. He was Joseph. I told my mum and she said "never mind, 20 million people watched your commercial on ITV last night". The next day he teased me gain. I said "Your only in the school play, I was watched by 20 million people on ITV last night". He told teacher and I got the slipper for being "arrogant". I was also told I needed to be taken down a peg and so I was banned from playing for the school team (I wanted to be the goalie). I didn't even know what arrogant was. I asked my sister what an "Harrow C*nt" was. She said it was a very rude way of describing someone from Harrow. The next day I spoke to my teacher and said "Miss, you know you gave me the slipper yesterday, you do know I don't come from Harrow". She replied "No, but you are an idiot". For years I lived under the impression that Harrow was a ghetto populated by idiots and people who are not very nice.

One other special joy was that being a remedial, for a while, meant having your school dinner at the remedial table. This meant you got made to sit with a teacher at the table and kids from other age groups, rather than your mates. I remember one christmas, where the remedials were all forced to have more Brussell Sprouts, because we were served last. There were plenty left and the school hated waste. The teacher told us we had to eat them because they were "full of goodness and nourishment and we need it".

In 1969, the Yanks landed a man on the moon. I was fascinated. We all had to do a project on the moon landings. For the first time, there was something I was vaguely interested in. My sister was a teacher and she spent the day helping me, explaining how to put it together. I was really proud of it. I handed it in and the teachers were shocked. My teacher asked "Why don't you always do work like this?". I replied that normal work was boring. After that, they decided that I wasn't remedial, just awkward and lazy.

I showed my own children my old schoolbooks. They were shocked. They couldn't believe how appalling it was.  They said "is that how everyone did their work?" I then showed them some of my sisters work (She qualified as a barrister). They couldn't believe how bad their father was. By the time I got to 14, my brian had learned how to cope with it's dyslexia. I actually did OK, getting 9 O levels and  2 A Levels.

So why am I writing this. Yesterday, I listened to the Vanessa Feltz show and I listened to people talking the biggest load of cobblers about the subject of dyslexia. I believe, but I can't prove that my issues with dyslexia are due to issues at my birth (premature with Rhesus factor issues). I also believe that being the youngest of six children gave me a huge advantage over many other dyslexics. I believe that the fact that my parents never put any pressure on me whatsoever and always supported me made a huge difference. I've had a highly successful career in business and music. I know many other highly creative people who are dyslexic and had similar experiences. I will never win a spelling competition (unless you have to spell Trian), my grammar is terrible as I don't understand the rules of the English Language. This hasn't stopped me writing a very successful blog. I believe that part of the reason I got over my problems is because my siblings often helped me with my work. They  loved me so they had patience. When I hear of children being denied "extra help" and assistance, schools not allocating extra resources, I get angry. I think of being told to eat Brussels Sprouts because "we need the goodness". The job of schools is to educate children, the more issues they have, the more they need it. If I was an OFSTED inspector, I'd fail any school which didn't have a proper strategy to deal with dyslexia and could demonstrate how it was addressing the issues of individual students.

If you are a parent and you are worried about a child with dyslexia, fight for their rights. Don't be fobbed off. With the right breaks and the right help in life, they could do great things. I doubt that I'd run a studio which has helped launch the careers of several International superstars, if I wasn't dyslexic. I doubt that I'd have the love of writing I have developed, relatively late in life. I doubt I'd see the world through these eyes. I think that my dyslexia is in many ways a gift. It gives me an edge. I'd rather not have had some of the grief it has brought me over the years, but I think that if I wasn't so angry, I'd never had done anything.

By the way, if you were wondering why I chose the picture, which has nothing to do with the story? Well actually it does. I googled "idiots from Harrow" and that was the picture that popped up

Friday, 18 December 2009

The Barnet Eye weekly round up

First off,
Just a quick few highlights of my week  :-

Last Friday, I was out with the boys from our Thursday Night footie crowd for Bowling in Finchley, followed by a nice Italian meal at ASK  (and a not so nice hangover)
Saturday we went around to some friends to polish off the leftovers of their rather tasty Chanukah dinner and quaff a few more tinnies.
Sunday, I was up early to watch my Boy play football for Watling Under 10's at Burnt Oak Leisure Centre. One of the boys scored a goal just like the one for Wigan Vs Sunderland, which all the parents of both teams (congrats to Total Football Academy for their sportsmanship) applauded. In the evening off out for our Sunday Football Crew night out at the Three Hammers. Another late night and another hangover.
Monday, it was down to the Blue Posts in Newman Street to meet an old boss of mine (now long retired and spending his life on the Golf Course) and a few old cronies for a few beers and to plan our annual reunion drink in January.
Tuesday, I finished a work assignment I'd been working on for a while. Went up to All Bar One near St Pauls and bought them all a drink. Bumped into someone most unexpectedly, who I was most pleased to see and had a very interesting chat.
Wednesday - Band night. Had a jam with the boys and once reaffirmed what a great band we are. IT also reaffirmed how lucky I am to play music with such talented individuals.
Thursday - Watched my boy in his school's Xmas Carol Concert, then played 5 a side in the freezing snow. Not for the feint hearted. Heard all the gossip up at the pub afterwards.
Today. Did some recording. Found out I could make my guitar sound just like a trumpet with Fil's Boss effects pedal. Absolute result. Great effect for the current project. Off out for a curry with my beloved tonight.

In between did lots of work, wrote lots of blogs, drove lots of kids to football, swimming, school, etc

I was out canvassing for the Lib Dems on Saturday in Mill Hill Broadway and someone said to me "You politicians are all the same, you only come out just before the election. You aren't like normal people, just obsessed with politics and stuff." I asked him to read this blog on next Friday evening (Today) and I'd list what I'd been up to during the week, so he could judge whether I was purely obsessed with politics. He promised he would. I said "You can see when I started the blog and what I've had to say. Decide then whether I only say anything just before the election.Once you've had a look, drop me an email and tell me what you think". I'm not obsessed with politics at all, I just want the best for my family and my friends. I'd far rather talk about football or music. I just feel I have to do something because Barnet is in a mess.
On the subject of the blog. I thought I'd give anyone who is interested a few stats about the blog and what people have been looking at and what they've been looking for on it.

Here's the top 10 blogs at the Barnet Eye this week

1 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -

Lots of our friends across the USA are interested in catching STD's at Christmas.That is far and away the most popular global story we've ever posted. Rather sadly in at no 8  was the piece about Steven Gatelys death. For a blog that has had a massive number of hits since it was posted in October, I've not really had any feedback so I'm not sure what people thought about my comments. 

Now here's the top 10 Google searches people used to find the site

1 - rog t
2 - barnet eye
3 - lynne hillan
4 - christmas gave me std
5 - 12 stds of christmas
6 - first crapital
7 - mike freer private eye
8 - barnet council + star
9 - . dinner register
10 - moir lockhead

Now usually the list is fairly predictable. I'm rather intrigued by no 7. This implies that there is a rumour Mike Freer is gracing the pages of Private Eye yet again. With here ascent to Leader of Barnet Council, Lynne Hillan has managed to become the third most popular google search to find the Barnet Eye. In at no 10 is Moir Lockhead, managing director of First group, who run the Thameslink Service.Interestingly not many people found the blog looking for First Capital Connect, but lots of you were looking for First Crapital Connect. As ever the Dinner registers are popular

The map at the top is where this weeks hits came from. None from my rellies in Austrialia this week.

 Since February when I started keeping stats I've had a truly astounding number of hits for a blog which is mostly about stuff in a leafy suburb of Barnet. Thanks for keeping on visiting

Hot Press : BBC reports Barnet Council have lost £8 Million in Icelandic Bank Glitnr

Hot Press. The Barnet Tories under Lynne Hillan and Mike Freer have been claiming that we'd get all of our money back. The BBC have said that we will lose £8 Million of the £12 million we had in Glitnr. All of this is because the Tory Administration neglected to check up properly on our council officials. If like me you sat through the debates after the event, you will know that Former Leader Freer repeatedly said "The money hasn't been lost". Mike Freer wants to be the MP for Finchley and Golders Green. Nuff said

A very good week for Andrew Dismore

The sitting MP for Hendon, Andrew Dismore has not been getting too much good press of late, what with expenses scandals and the associated incoming flack. Although he has a decent sized majority, he must know that he is more vulnerable than at any time since he took the seat from Tory John Gorst in 1997. I should imagine that last night he nipped out from his lovely house in Notting Hill Gate to one of the rather nice, swanky bistros around the corner and sunk a bottle or three of the good stuff. Why would Andrew be in such upbeat spirits? Well he's nothing if not hard working, our Andrew. He will have read the latest press release from Lynne Hillan's Barnet Tory Council announcing her cabinet.

There are several pieces of very good news for Andrew contained in this document. Firstly and most obviously the fact that his Tory opponent for the seat, Matthew Offord, appears to have given up on the chance of winning in Hendon. How could he tell this. Well Mike Freer, former Leader quit the cabinet to concentrate on his duties as a candidate for Finchley. Given that Finchley is a far more winnable seat for Freer, surely Offord should be devoting every spare second if he thought he had a chance, as Freer has done. Secondly, Bulmer has kept Offord in his Community Engagement and Community Safety job. So far this has involved Offord putting out nanny state style press releases which have been widely lampooned and have only succeeded in making Offord look silly. Here is my favourite quote from Matthew
Councillor Matthew Offord, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Community Safety, said: “Toys are usually at the top of most children’s Christmas lists, so it is particularly important this time of year to think carefully when buying gifts whether the toy is age appropriate and safe. Remove all packaging once the toys have been unwrapped and keep a careful eye to make sure little ones are playing with the right toys. By keeping toy safety at the top of your list you should be providing your children a safe and fun Christmas to remember.”
You see Matthew seems to believe that we all give our three year olds flick knives, plastic bags and matches for Christmas. It doesn't seem to occur to him that parents no1 concern is the well being of their children and we don't need advice from him to tell us to look after them.

The third piece of good news, probably the best bit as far as Andrew is concerned is the fact that Robert Rams is continuiung as Cabinet Member for Investment in Learning. Why should this be such good news for Andrew? Well for most families in Hendon, the one area where they are most likely to come into conflict with the Tory Council is their childrens education. We currently have countless children being taught in portacabins, we had new IT suites closed to make way for emergency classrooms and we had thousands of parents getting stressed due to the council not providing enough places at their schools of choice. Who is this down to? The cabinet member responsible for Investment in Education. When is this whole fiasco going to be at it's worst next year? Right in the middle of the general election campaign? Councillor Robert Rams has built up a reputation for not being up to the job. Apparently he's very good at ringing up the local paper to complain to the editor that articles are beastly, but when it comes to actually doing his job? Andrew Dismore knows this and as I mentioned he's a hard worker and extremely meticulous. I expect him to throw the kitchen sink at Rams and his incompetence. I fully expect Rams to shout back, "that's not fair, it's not my fault, someone else did it".

The bottom line for the voters of Hendon is this. Do you want someone who clearly can't even be bothered to pull his finger out and campaign - Matthew Offord, or do you want Andrew Dismore, who lets just say has been filling the papers with stories about his expenses? If the thought of choosing between these two doesn't exactly fill your heart with joy, you could always have a look at what Matthew Harris, The Lib Dem alternative has to say.

(Picture : Andrew Dismore MP nips around to no 10 for tea and biscuits with Gordon Brown, with Sgt Dan Reid of the Edgware Safer Neighbourhood team)

Mr Bean has joined the BNP

Yes it is true. Mr Bean is now an official BNP member and even writes articles on their website.

To save you the trouble of having to read through all of his blatherings, here's a potted (or is that potty) selection of quotes.

I have pointed out that as someone who has no remorse for holding a Trafalgar Square meeting back in 1959 under the banner ‘Keep Britain White’
Finally, one could not help noticing the joy upon the news announcers faces, both ITV as well as BBC, when after 48 hours devoted to the second coming they were able to announce that Lewis Hamilton, our “black” Formula One racing driver was now world champion – which he fully deserved. The point is that both Lewis Hamilton and Saint Obama have white mothers. Is this another form of racism disregarded by the liberal intelligentsia who apparently consider that only the black blood counts? I am not suggesting that we should return to Kiplingesque terminology of “half castes”, or even accusing the parents of having “warped biological instincts”, as was once fashionable, but surely “mixed race” would be more accurate?
Because Septimus Severus was born in Carthage, what is now Tunisia, our children are told he was a “Black Emperor”. He even appears on a website entitled “100 Great Black Britons”. Wikipedia and other sites all agree that his mother was of Roman descent from an ancient clan and his father came from a distinguished local Berber family. The Berbers lived in North Africa for at least 2,000 years before the arrival of Arabs or any sub-Saharan black Africans and are described as more akin to modern Spaniards, Sicilians or even ancient Egyptians. A glance at the photo of a bust of Septimus Severus that appears on both of the above mentioned websites shows that he is about as black as I am!
So there you go. Because a photo of a bust of a Roman Emperor doesn't look black, he must have been white. I don't really know whether this is extremely sad or extremely funny.

Proof that God has got a sense of humour

The big story in the world today is the Copenhagen summit which is aiming to combat global warning. The big story in London is Snow !!! What more proof do you need that God has a sense of humour, but what message is he sending?

Having spent a winter in Scandinavia in 1981/2 I thought this was a rather stupid place to hold a summit about global warming. It's only human nature for the delegates to wake up this morning, look out of the window and think "This is a load of cobblers".

 I've no idea how they choose these venues, but yesterday I printed a guest blog from Fr Jim Fanning who detailed the effects of man made climate change. They should have held the conference somewhere in the midst of a man made disaster so the delegates could actually see some evidence of whats going on.

Weather for Copenhagen, Denmark

 - Add to iGoogle
-3°C | °F
Current: Light snow
Wind: NE at 21 mph
Humidity: 86%
Chance of Snow
0°C | -4°C
Mostly Sunny
-1°C | -6°C
Partly Sunny
-1°C | -6°C
Chance of Snow
1°C | -2°C

Thursday, 17 December 2009


Lynne Hillan's Sheltered Warden Policy

Barnet's new road supremo - Count Dracula?

A shocking story in the Times today. Barnet Council is disregarding national guidelines on bus lane markings. What this means is that the broken lines marking the start of the lane is not properly tapered. This means motorists do not have ample time to move into the non restricted lane. Why would the council do such a thing? Because it has netted them £680,000 in fines. Is this illegal? No. Is it immoral? Most definately. Barnet Council bangs endlessly on about how it cares about motorists, how it loves to rip out road humps. They remind me of Dracula seducing virgins before bleeding them dry. Barnet makes more out of parking than any other council, now we find out they are conning us on bus lane fines. Tory Council Leader but it seems that the story in Barnet is the same old one of stealth taxes.

Who knows, given the paucity of talent in the new Barnet Council cabinet, he'd probably be a welcome edition.

Barnet Council Scandal: Barnet Council's open chequebook

Yesterday I posted a blog detailing how Barnet Council were gambling with your money on the property market.Don't Call Me Dave left this comment on the post, which shocked and amazed me
Under the Local Government Act 2000, council officers are allowed to engage in property transactions up to £100,000 using delegated powers, i.e. without consulting councillors. I think the limit has now been raised to £150,000.

Previously, officers would be required to submit a report to the council with details of the transaction but officers put forward a motion earlier this year that would dispense with that formality. All in the name of greater efficiency you understand.

But then you have to consider the recent rule change whereby property transactions are no longer sealed by the Mayor (which has been the way since the year dot). Now transactions can be signed and sealed by an unelected officer.

In short, this means officers have the power to buy and sell property and not even report it to the councillors. Given this council’s track record on property sales, this is a deeply worrying move.

Under Freer, and now under Hillan, the concept of democratic accountability has simply ceased to exist.

It's quite simple. We pay taxes. This is our money. We pay a million quid for a team of nearly 70 councillors to protect our interests and oversee the workings of the council. They are meant to protect our interests. Why have they "delegated" this. Because they are too lazy to do the job properly.

Boris Johnson at the GLA has put all expenditure over one thousand pounds on line. This is how I know that in November Boris paid Inserters R Us Ltd £3053.25 and Antony Gormley £23,000.

If Boris can do this, Barnet Council can. Council Leader Lynne Hillan claims that it is vital to destroy the Sheltered housing wardens because she wants to save £400,000. She's in charge of "resource management" but cannot even be bothered to check what the officers are spending money on. Council Tax in Barnet will not drop until the people we elect start doing their job, checking things proeprly, asking difficult questions and  start earning their allowances. Barnet Council has many problems, but I believe that the route cause of them is that Barnet Councils ruling Tories are just too lazy to bother doing their job. Cutting out waste is not rocket science, it's just about saying "do we need this", "is this the cheapest way to do it", "could we buy it somewhere else for less". Council officers have no reason to do any of this, why should they? This is why scrutiny by councillors is needed. Everyone who knows anything about Barnet Council knows this.

I am standing for the Lib Dems at the next council elections because this just cannot go on. If you live in Mill Hill and you've read the 761 entries on this blog, you will know that you'll have someone who will work hard to sort this out. The taxpayers of Barnet need people to stand in every ward who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and end this slothering and troughering.

Guest Blog : A message from Kenya

By Fr Jim Fanning MHM

Dear Friends,
How was your year? It is customary at the end of the day in the Church to reflect on all the blessings we have received during the day and repent of any failings. Well we thank God that this year has been a year of relative peace in East Africa and that the road building programme has continued with good roads at last from Nairobi to Kampala. The long delayed under water fibre optic cable has arrived and we are now promised high speed internet access in line with the rest of the world.
These are three big blessings but the big disaster has been the weather. I have never known such an irregular and poor rainfall. Instead of our usual afternoon downpours we seem to have had just sprinklings of rain. Often the clouds have built up with black skies and then nothing comes of it. There was both water and electricity rationings in Nairobi and many people and livestock have died in Kenya because of drought and crop failure. There has been a dawning realisation that cutting down trees is partly responsible for the poor rainfall. Sections of the Mau forest which have been cut down will now have to be replanted.
My work has taken me much further afield this year with visits to my old mission in Basankusu in the Congo in June and to Anglophone Cameroon in November. Everywhere people seem ready to support their own missionaries from Africa. This year has seen our numbers of African Mill Hill Missionaries rise from 15 to 18, with the newly ordained being appointed to more distant fields in Pakistan and the Philippines. One of the first African missionaries Fr. Ephraim Odhiambo, who was ordained in 1996, has now arrived in England to do mission promotion there. For years we have heard predictions that peoples from Africa will bring the faith back to Europe.
I continue to ply the highways and byways of Kenya and Uganda in my red Suzuki Grand Vitara with  ‘Friends of Mill Hill’ written on the door. It enables me to pass without many questions and difficulties back and forwards through the borders of Kenya and Uganda as well as the police checkpoints.
I have had many nice visitors this year. Fr. Sebastian Park from Korea came to visit me at
Easter. We travelled together from Kampala to Nairobi visiting all the beautiful spots in Kampala, Jinja (source of the Nile), Tororo, Kisumu, Masai Mara and Nairobi . I also enjoyed the company of my niece Alicia who came out to visit her Dad, my brother Paul, around the same time. Her brother John Paul with his girlfriend Danielle also paid us a joint visit just after the departure of Fr. Sebastian. Following that my sister Mary came to visit once again in September. She is becoming a regular visitor and this time we managed to finish with a very nice stay in the southern beach at Mombasa. Visitors are always nice to have as they pull me out of my routine and give me a chance to see places which otherwise I would not visit. Having reflected on the year and thanked God for his blessings I am aware too of my shortcomings and wrong directions. Sometimes we err in the things we do and other times it is in the things we fail to do. I won’t bore you with the details of all this but just simply ask you for your prayers.
In 2010 I look forward to celebrating my 60th birthday. I am beginning to feel that my time on the road should be coming to an end soon. I have been mobile now for ten years and whilst relatively still in good health I would dearly like to work in a parish for a few years before I get too old. I am eyeing my old diocese of Basankusu in the Congo (DRC) as my next appointment if I can convince my superiors in two years time. I feel more comfortable having a focus for the future. Please keep praying for me and helping me. I love doing this missionary work of witnessing to Our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is his birthday which is the occasion for writing  this letter and I wish you all a happy and holy Christmas celebration and once again a peaceful New Year,

With much love and prayers,

Father Jim Fanning MHM
Fr Jim Fanning is a Missionary working in East Africa. He was born and raised in Mill Hill before joining the order and being ordained in 1973. His work is supported by many people in Mill Hill.

If you wish to have a guest blog featured in the Barnet Eye, please email my by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Barnet Councils latest punt with your money - the next big scandal in Barnet

Ex Council Leader Mike Freer lost £27.4 million of your money playing the markets.  He borrowed the money at one rate of interest and then invested it in Icelandic banks at a much higher rate of interest. The income this generated was used to fill holes elsewhere in his budget. It seemed like a masterful ruse, until all the Icelandic banks collapsed. His punt failed and we, the taxpayers of Barnet, had to pick up the cost. How did Mike Freer suffer for this? Well he didn't. He still got his £3,000 responsibility allowance for losing the money. Despite his sheer incompetence, his colleagues still laud the "magnificent job" he did.

You would think Barnet Council might have learned their lesson. Well it appears not. A Council official sent an email to a member of the public yesterday which said the following :-

The current market conditions are not favourable towards a disposal and indeed the Council is currently looking at buying properties.In fact the Deputy Chief Executive has specifically instructed the Investment Manager to find suitable properties and I will be assisting in this task.

 There you have it in black and white. Barnet Council is looking to invest in properties as they think it is a good time to buy. This is called gambling and they are doing it with your money. Lets get this right. The council has spare cash. They could  :-

a) keep the sheltered housing wardens
b) Give you a tax cut
c) Gamble it on your behalf on property

Now I was personally shocked that Barnet Council even has an "Investment manager", whilst I'm sure he's a fine chap and does a great job, this is our money. If I want a punt, I'll go to William Hill and spend it. If they were buying properties to fill the council housing shortage, I'd applaud them, but from the wording of this, it is clear as day that  this is not the purpose of the "Investment Manager" strategy, it is to exploit the state of the market. As we all know, property values can go up or down.

My message to Council Leader Lynne Hillan, Mike Freer and everyone else in the Tory cabinet. You are a council, not  a bookie. Stop gambling with our money. I just can't believe that they didn't learn their lesson after Iceland.


If Barnet Council have sent you an email containing evidence of dodgy behaviour and you want the people of Barnet to know about it, email me BY CLICKING HERE.


You read it here first.  On the day that the Barnet Council Cabinet passed the controversial warden policy, I announced that David Young would take Barnet to court. The letter announcing this is the most downloaded item on this website. I advised Barnet Councils officers to get another job because they would lose. I hope that a few of them listened. I advised Barnets Tory Councillors to give Lynne Hillan a wide birth in her leadership bid because she was the architect of this heartless policy, they didn't listen. How rich an irony that she is anointed queen of Barnet on the day that a High Court judge deems her policy illegal. This blog 100% backs the tenants of sheltered housing and their right to keep wardens. I applaud David Young for having the guts to take on Barnet Council. I applaud Yvonne Hossacks, the solicitor who fought for him. Barnet fought dirty and tried to have her struck off. They lost.

I read that Barnet Council may be launching an appeal against the decision. This will be more money down the drain. They will lose again. There is an old saying "when you are in a hole, stop digging" new Council Leader, Lynne Hillan has an alternative view "When you are in a hole, order a team of expensive Lawyers to help you dig"

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Barnet First? I'd rather have wardens

I had a little email exchange with Barnets most sensible Tory, Don't Call Me Dave yesterday concerning Barnet First, the rather boring magazine that will be landing on your doorstep sometime soon. Don't Call Me Dave reckons that Hammersmith and Fulham Tories saved £400,000 per annum by privatising there equivalent. Theirs is funded by advertising now, as everyone gets a copy.

Strikes me that this would pay for Barnet to keep the wardens. Is Don't Call Me Dave the only Tory in Barnet who sees that this is on place where Future Shape might work. Why is it that Barnets most Tory Tory is ignored by his colleagues in power?

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Mill Hill's Old Conservatives Vs Lynne Hillans new ones

Lynne Hillan has only been the leader of Barnets Conservatives for a couple of days, but are we are seeing a new face of the Barnet Conservative party? I've always had the utmost respect for the Old School Millhillian Conservative residents. They are generally honest, decent and hardworking folk who I just happen to disagree with about a few policy issues.I must say say I'm a little upset at reports of certain shenanigans that have been reported to me today.

Mill Hill Lib Dems have been undertaking a residents survey in the Poets Corner area of Mill Hill. This is being done so that councillors can provide a better services to the residents of the ward. It has been brought to our attention that activists from the local Conservative Party collected some of these responses on Sunday 12th December between 12:30 and 1:15pm. A local resident informed us that these survey responses had been taken without permission.

If anyone left their survey out before 1.15pm, please contact Councillor Wayne Casey on  0777 181 5982 or write to "Mill Hill Lib Dems, 14 Sandwick Close, NW7 2AX" or by CLICKING HERE and I will personally ensure that a replacement is delivered, collected and dealt with. Any leaflets left out before 13.15 on Sunday may have been misappropriated for a replacement.

Ugliness, the greatest crime of all?

I hate ugliness. I loath and detest it. I hate ugly people. I hate ugly buildings. I hate ugly views.

A controversial statement for a Sunday morning? Let me explain. When I talk about ugly people, I don't mean people who are not beautiful. Quite the opposite, we are conditioned to think certain looks are beautiful. I totally disagree. I once saw Simon Weston, disfigured Falklands war veteran speak. He was inspirational. As I listened to what he was saying, I realised that there was a beauty about this eloquent and inspirational man. Something far deeper than shallow and transient looks. I volunteer as a helper with a group which takes people with disabilities on holiday. Many of the people who come away with us, have issues such as Downes syndrome. As a result of this, I've realised that these sort of things aren't ugly either. Our group is probably one of the most beautiful things in my life. I've taken all my children with the group at one time or another. It is amazing how their attitude to looks and image has changed as a result of actually knowing the people in the group. Most interesting was how my daughter returned from our trip this year and was shocked when I mentioned one of the girls who went with us had Downes syndrome. She said "I thought she'd come as a helper". The girl is a successful actress, having acted in films such as Hellboy and Eastenders. She lives independently and doesn't need a "helper", so in some ways my daughter was right.

When I talk about ugly people, I mean people who speak and act in a repulsive way. I was trying to think of the ugliest person alive I could and decided that to me it must be Robert Mugabe. It's not because he is physically repulsive, but I associate his views, policies and actions with his looks, therefore he's ugly. There are certain celebrities, who by some measures are gorgeous, but who have the same effect on me. This country is beset currently by a plague of plastic surgery and botox. I struggle with the whole concept. Why? because across the world there are millions of people dying for want of basic health care, whilst we spend hundreds of millions on "cosmetic" procedures which often make the people look ridiculous. For years, I had a massive crush on Lesley Ash. It started when I saw her in Quadrophenia. Why on earth did she feel the need to get "enhanced". It's a free country, I wouldn't ban cosmetic procedures, but I just can't get my head around the use of these medical resources, when there are countries where there aren't even basic nursing facilities for the general population. I featured the sculpture of pregnant Alison Lapper on the 4th plinth, as I thought this is a great example of what I'm trying to say. Is it an "ugly" statue? By my definition, ugly is something I look at and I feel a negative reaction to. Something I wish was not in my sight. I found this particular statue quite fascinating. It's not "beauty" in a conventional way, but it doesn't have a "yuk" effect on me. All great art it is challenging. I'm sure many people don't get it, and I don't know if it is just because I've worked with disabled adults, so it's less out of the ordinary, but it isn't ugly to me. I wrote this post partially in response to someone saying to me that it's great to have a proper statue of Keith Park on the 4th plinth, rather than "that disgusting Alison Lapper"

This resulted in a massive row, not because I think Kieth Park shouldn't be there, god knows if any of the military figures deserve to be on a plinth, he does. It was because I strongly objected to the description of Alison Lapper as disgusting. I then had the "who would you rather see on page 3 - Jordan or Alison Lapper argument thrown at me.

Well to be honest, I'd rather see neither of those two on page 3 of the Sun. I actually find Jordan repulsive, therefore I'd certainly not want to look at her on page 3 or anywhere else. As to Alison Lapper, why should she even want to be on page 3. She was a model for a classical sculpture and a fine one at that. So the question was rephrased. Who would you rather see on page 3, the person you fancy most in the whole world or Alison Lapper. That's rather easy. I'd rather see Alison Lapper, because I'd be furious if my wife was on page 3. When it comes down to it, I'd actually rather see a picture of a statue of Keith Park on page 3, because he's a role model and we should be reminded of his contribution and the sacrifice of thousands of his RAF colleagues in the defeat of the most ugly regime in history. 

Which brings us back to "what is ugly".Well this picture of a young British Man giving a Hitler salute is probably one of the most ugly and repulsive images I've seen recently. Doesn't this idiot know about the bravery of Keith Park? Doesn't he know about the tens of thousands of British Servicemen who died fighting Nazi's who he seeks to emulate. Does he realise that Alison Lapper would have been off to the gas chamber just for "being different" under the regime he so admires. You would think that someone who sees themselves as part of a "superior master race" would at least bother to read the history books and see what "our finest hour was".

Finally in our little discussion of ugly, I know people who have had massive complexes about their looks and who plastic surgery has given confidence to. I know people who have had restorative plastic surgery following accidents. I know people who didn't need the procedures and looked no better or worse afterwards. I'm not criticising or having a go at any of these people or the procedures they've had, don't get me wrong. I just wish we'd be more concerned with resolving the internal ugliness in our hearts, the things which really make us ugly. It's a shame there is no surgery which can fix that.