Wednesday, 11 August 2010

GLA Tory Update : The Dinosaurs Vs The Sensiblists

Earlier this week, I posted a blog detailing my support for the Boris Bike scheme and suggesting that I'd really rather like it to be rolled out in Mill Hill (and other parts of Barnet). It strikes me that with the RAF museum about a ten minute cycle from Mill Hill Broadway Thameslink, it would work extremely well and maybe First Capital Connect could sponsor a docking station. A Borough more forward thinking than Barnet would probably pay for the docking stations at the RAF museum as a way of promoting the Borough. In an effort to promote interest in the idea, I emailed all of the Conservative GLA members with a survey and asked for their views on the scheme and it's rollout to the suburbs. I got a few "out of office" notifications and a few replies. The most interesting was from Richard Tracey, who is Conservative Lead on transport. Here's what Richard had to say :-

Thanks for asking

a) Have you used the Boris Bike scheme yet?
b) Do you intend to use the scheme in future?
c) Do you think the scheme is value for money?
d) Would you like to see the scheme rolled out in outer suburbs such as Barnet?

a. No
b. Probably, when it is bedded in -  to see for myself how it works
c. Yes
d. Most certainly in my constituency in SW London. I'll leave opinions on a Barnet expansion to my colleague.

Good wishes

Richard Tracey
Conservative Lead on London Assembly Transport Committee
GLA Merton & Wandsworth

All in all a very sensible response and one which bodes well for the future of the scheme. Many thanks to Richard for this. Of course this begs the question of what the GLA member for Barnet, Brian Coleman had to say. Well, this was his reply, via his PA.

Brian Coleman has asked me to send you the following message:

"Thank you for your email regarding the Mayor of London's Barclay's Cycle Hire Scheme. I am afraid that London Assembly Conservatives never respond to questionnaires. However, I can assure you that my colleagues and I are fully supportive of the Mayor's scheme."

Juliet Donnelly
PA to Cllr Brian Coleman AM FRSA

How odd? How come that Brian Coleman states that the Tories never respond to questionnaires, whilst his esteemed and sensible colleague sent a reply. Not wishing to drop Mr Tracey in it for being helpful, I immediately fired off an email requesting clarification what the policy on answering questionaires is for the London GLA Tories. Surely they hadn't adopted such a Stalinist stance. A quick email to the Tory top brass was met with the following response

"The Group has no policy on responding to questionnaires"  and "Where the request is for individual opinions - as in this case - individual members are free to respond as they wish."

So in light of this, why has Brian Coleman instructed his PA to respond in such a way? Telling porkies about group policy just won't do. What I don't really understand is why Brian Coleman digs himself into these holes. Why make things up, which are demonstrably factually incorrect. Whilst Brian Coleman probably detests this blog, we actually have a few areas where we agree with him. Most noticably the Brent Cross redevelopment & Incinerator which he opposes, the Law on prostitution and from his comment, the Boris Bike. This blog is the most widely read in Barnet, not least by his colleagues.  Telling a blog that you agree with Boris and that you want the scheme in Barnet at the appropriate time (or not) in no way endorses that blog, it just shows that the individual is capable of answering a sensible question with a sensible answer. Media is evolving. Blogs are a new medium, but an increasingly influential one. Sensible Tories such as Richard Tracey, recognise this and use the medium to get across a positive message, in this case that the Tories have a decent policy. Dinsosaurs such as Brian Coleman just cause themselves trouble and embarrassment - completely needlessly in this case. Why not just say "I never answer questionaires" - A response which would have clearly been honest and reasonable.

I am pleased that Mr Coleman is fully supportive of the scheme, but as he's the Barnet Council Cabinet Member for Transport and my GLA member, I feel that a fuller answer is required with regards to the future of the scheme in Barnet.  As transport supremo, it would be nice for Brian to shock a few of us and put some cash into this innovative and green scheme. Many of us would like to see cycling and cycle lanes promoted far more vigourously in Barnet. Maybe Boris can have an word in his ear at the next GLA booze up.


Mrs Angry said...

What I really admire about you Rog is the persistence with which you hold these elected fools up to scrutiny ... this blog is a perfect example. Yes,the bike scheme is very important and interesting, but how much more interesting is the reply you got from Coleman. So he doesn't answer questionaires now. I believe he has the same lack of interest in petitions. Oh and what happens, Rog, when you email him with something he doesn't agree with? I think the lesson should be clear to all constituents: our GLA members are in place not as representatives of us, but on the basis of their superior intellectual powers and enormous wisdom. Our opinions are ill informed and irrelevant and we must leave the decision making process to Brian and his chums, who know what is best for us.
But seriously, you are right - he is a dinososaur, and belongs in an age when the idea of accountability to the electorate was unthinkable, and life was so much easier ... Actually, I would like to see the bike scheme launched in Barnet, and I would like to see Brian launched on a bike, preferably on a steep slope with a large, muddy pond at the bottom.

vickim57 said...

A bit beside the point but I'll say it anyway: I passed several of the bike stands yesterday on a walk through the nicer parts of Islington (he knows where to put his bikes, does Boris). I wasn't tempted onto one - at that price?! - in fact, wouldn't ever be tempted onto a bike on London's roads - but that's probably just me - BUT I did really appreciate the maps that are displayed at each bike stand. Now, to encourage WALKING around London, why not increase the number of maps around the place?

baarnett said...

One unfortunate result of Frank Pick's Underground map and the London Connections map is that people don't learn the geography of London too well. Maybe maps on iPhones and so on will reverse that trend.

But I am drawn to the fact that Brian Coleman has a PA. What crooked hand of fate would give someone that job?

For Juliet, who bravely takes on that role,

"Prodigious birth of love it is to me,
That I must love a loath├Ęd enemy."

Romeo And Juliet, Act 1, scene 5.

Mrs Angry said...

I'm glad that Brian has a little helper to get him through his 100hour week, pinch him when he starts snoring etc. Poor girl, wonder how often she feels at the end of the day, as the bard says:
•"O woe! O woeful, woeful, woeful day!
Most lamentable day. Most woeful day
That ever, ever I did yet behold!
O day, O day, O day! O hateful day!
Never was seen so black a day as this.
O woeful day! O woeful day!"