Thursday, 21 October 2010

The three types of Tory Councillors in Barnet

Last night I attended the Barnet Council Cabinet meeting. I realised that if you want to get on in the Tory Party in Barnet you have to be one of three types of people. These are :-

A) People who are very rude. We saw several fine examples of this last night. Top Cat for rudeness was Lynne Hillan. Sheltered housing resident David Young, who launched a legal battle with Barnet Council last year and got the decision to scrap sheltered housing wardens declared illegal by the High Court cam down to ask a question. Given that Lynne Hillan was the architect of the policy, which was declared illegal, having indulged in a lengthy legal battle against Mr Young who is 78 and should be enjoying his retirement, you would think Hillan would have a) Apologised to him for persuing an illegal policy. B) Extended him a modicum of courtesy, given that he'd given up his evening to participate in the democratic process. She didn't even give him the time of day. As Mr Young tried to ask a question, Lynne Hillan continually butted in and told him to hurry up. After two minutes and 36 seconds, she finally said "Have you actually got a question", to which Mr Young replied "How stupid are your Councillors". As Mr Young walked away he commented "Don't you realise that some of the residents have told me they will commit suicide if the wardens go". At this Lynne Hillan rolled her eyes. She was ably supported in the rudeness stakes by Brian Coleman, who managed to insult the local papers such as the Press and the Edgware Times. He was also rather rude to Councillor Dean Cohen, who was trying to be helpful in suggesting ways Barnet could improve it's response to bad weather (but I'll forgive him that).

B) People who are very spineless. Into this category falls Deputy Leader Andrew Harper, Councillor Robert Ramsbottom and Councillor Melvin Cohen. Harper and Ramsbottom both asked reasonable and sensible questions. Both got nonsensical answers and said "Thank you councillor Rajput for such a marvellous answer" or words to that effect. Ramsbottom asked "Are we going down the same road again" Rajput said "No of course not" and then went on to actually detail why we were. Yvonne Hossacks, who is the countries leading lawyer on sheltered housing, must have been laughing her head off (she was there with David Young). Harper asked an even more sensible question "Is it sensible to spend huge amounts on legal fees for these quite small savings" or words to that effect. Rajput responded "Yes of course it is, because, it is". As for Melvin Cohen. If Brian Coleman had talked to my son, in the manner Coleman spoke to Dean Cohen, I'd have probably stuck a ball point pen in his eye and said "Oops sorry Brian, my pen slipped" or at least said "Can it, knobhead, that's my boy !". Of course Melvin C is a gutless spineless lackey, so he just sat there grinning as pooe little Deano got squashed.

C) Completely useless. This brings us back to Dean Cohen. He was presenting a report about the chaos in Barnet when the Snow hit in January. Councillor Dean Cohen spoke for 5 minutes and 31 seconds on the subject. Guess how many times he said "er" or "erm" in that time as he read his prepared speech. Well I counted 46 times, including several "er, erm, er's". I'm sure big daddy Melvy sent him to the finest school, so where did it all go wrong. Having not allowed Mr Young, who spoke clearly and eloquently 30 seconds without interruption, Hillan was quite happy to let ineffectual Dean ramble on seemingly forever. In all my years (apart from injury time in the Manchester Derby last year) has 5 minutes and 31 seconds seemed so long. When he finally finished, Brian Coleman wiped the floor with him. Whilst I may not like Brian Coleman, I can understand why he would be so angry, wasting 5 mins and 31 seconds of valuable sponging time listening to him. Another one of the useless squad, Joanna Tambourides gave a fine cameo performance as Councillor Rajput spouted waffle about introducing a "menu of charged services" for adults with care needs. She asked Councillor Rajput "How much will these services cost". Now given that she's a Cabinet member and she'd read all of the papers, it was patently obvious that no one has a clue. Rajput replied "as affordable as possible". She responded "Marvellous, Marvellous". She must be easily impressed.

As I left, Yvonne Hossacks was waiting for a cab in reception with David Young. I passed on some information they had missed. I asked a couple of questions about the strategy she might employ and pointed out what I thought was a couple of major weaknesses in the approach Barnet are adopting. She smiled the smile of a cat watching as the mouse emerges from it's hole. In a perfect world, David Young wouldn't need to go to war with a useless and uncaring council. I was given some information, which I am not going to publish here, but yet again Barnet will lose. To use a football analogy, they are using a Ryman League legal team to take on the Premiership champions. Hossacks is an expert in her field. If I was Jeff Lustig, Barnets in house legal chief, I'd take Hillan and Harper into a quiet room and say "Just drop the whole scheme quietly, otherwise we'll lose again and look ridiculous". I spoke this morning to a Tory Councillor about the plan. He agreed with me that Barnet should just stop digging. He told me a shocking fact. The £300,000 savings that were quoted are entirely bogus. The new scheme will cost even more.

Oh yes, he also told me rather proudly that I'd like Barnet Councils new website. They are spending £50,000 on a redesign, to make it more funky. So there we go. Who loses in OneBarnet - The elderly, the disabled and the disadvantaged. Who wins - Committee chairmen (54% rise), Legal briefs, Consultants and website designers.

As I left the meeting I saw Councillor John Hart sitting there. I gave him a friendly smile. He smiled back and shook his head.


Mrs Angry said...

Last night there was an item on Newsnight featuring Barnet and a stroppy Forum, with your friend and mine, Cllr John Hart: see my updated blog, and maybe you can catch it on i player, I think around ?32 minutes or so into the programme.
You are spot on about the unfair indulgence shown at all council meetings by Hillan, the Mayor etc to any Tory councillor, including those who talk loudly through opposition speeches, whilst being indefensibly rude and abrupt to any member of the public or other party member who wishes to speak. It is discourteous and unprofessional, and reflects very badly on the Tory group.
I don't agree that Coleman has any right to be so rude or dismissive of Dean Cohen, however.Are they in the same party? Coleman needs no excuse for being rude, even to members of his own party, of course. In this case I imagine he felt obliged to make the point that the item came under his area and poor Dean Cohen must be put in his place, so that everyone remembered who was in charge. What a shame no one asked the Pothole Czar some detailed questions about the state of the filling programme, and the cost.

ainelivia said...

only three types Rog, surely Mr Toad is in a category all of his own, and Barnet Taxpayers are paying for it.......