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 Rams
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.