Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Is Great Britain is becoming a police state?



I just came across this Youtube clip. There are plenty of aspects of this which are alarming, but I think probably the most alarming is the fact that the police were so unprofessional in their conduct. It isn't the job of the police to stop people from doing things which are perfectly legal. When they start using anti terrorist legislation against people who are quite clearly not terrorists, we have problems.  Hat tip to Dr Rachel Joyce for the clip

Lets celebrate the Karma World Cup

It all went so horribly wrong, didn't it? Cast your mind back to five minutes into the first game. Stephen Gerard had regally marched through the USA defence and scored a great goal after some superb interplay. Until Robert Green's awful slip, the USA didn't look remotely like constructing a decent chance, let alone score. The equaliser was a real hit and hope. As I contemplate the debacle, a thought occurred to me. Maybe it was the law of karma at work. The universe levelling up things and making up for a 44 year old wrong. Maybe we were always starred to meet Germany and get the worse of an awful decision where the ball crossed the line and the goal wasn't given. Maybe the universe thought they owed Germany something for the bias of a Russian linesman. In my book this means we're even. It got me to thinking about other footballing injustices. The most recent was Ireland being cheated out of a place in the finals by Theirry Henry and France. It seems to me that the the Karma was pretty instant there, with the French being despatched home at the first possible opportunity (some players even earlier). I then thought about the Italians winding up Zinadine Zidane in the last finals. Maybe there departure was payback for this.

There is still one outstanding debt to the universe. Maradona and the hand of God. I have this fantasy that England will thump Argentina 6 - 0 in the 2014 final at the Maracana. Every Brazilian will be an Englishman for the day. I don't want us to win by means foul. I just would like us to stuff them. I don't dislike Argentinians, I'd love to see Messi at Manchester City playing alongside Tevez. It's just Maradona. I can't stand the man

Barnet Council and the deckchairs on the titanic


From our special Barnet Council Correspondent,

Moving from Freer / Boland / Walkley setup to the proposed ... From 4 Deputy Directors and 23 Assistant Directors to 5 Deputy Directors and 21 Assistant Directors costs (drum roll)

"5.6 The posts at Appendix 1 have been evaluated and the estimated cost is £2.6m including on-costs and Directors have confirmed that this can be met within their existing service budgets. ( where was this money spent before?)"

"2.3 This restructure will address at the Senior Management team level:

  • The large number of secondments; staff on acting up arrangements and the use of interims
  • Capacity gaps
  • Creating a management team cadre that is proportionate in the light of the downturn in public expenditure ( spend £2.6m more on a restructure AGAIN!)
  • Clarity and consistency of role accountability across the Senior Management Team (<< are they having a laugh!)
  • The capability to reshape the authority to respond to Future Shape requirements ( they haven't agreed what that is yet)
  • It also recognises the additional responsibilities placed upon Local Authorities e.g. Transfer of responsibility from the LSC for 14-19 year olds"  
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks to our special Barnet Council Correspondant for the blog. The Barnet Eye always welcomes guest blogs

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

My revulsion at the Evening Standard

Yesterday evening I picked up a copy of the Evening Standard at Blackfriars, to entertain me on my journey back to Mill Hill. The news wasn't good. train fares to rise by 10% (strange how this isn't headline listed as a Tory policy by the business editor praising the "bold budget"), much analysis of the England world cup debacle and reports of roadworks hold ups.

Then on page 38, I read probably the sickest piece of journalism I've had the misfortune to read in a long  time. It was in a rather curious place for such a revolting article. It was in the City pages and penned by the City Editor, Chris Blackhurst. The title "How to make a killing (literally) in the city and on wall st.

I won't repeat the first two paragraphs, but it is a graphic description of how to take another mans life and how the process works. It goes on to detail the details of a company who teach city suits the art of killing other people. The course costs £1,000. It has seen a 40% uplift in business.

I don't believe violence solves anything, except in the most extreme circumstances.  What especially troubles me is that this course teaches lethal and non lethal self defence. I can understand the desire for non lethal, but what sort of a psychopath would want to kill a man when they know how to disable him? For any budding Rambo's out there, I would like to point this out. If you do actually kill someone, it's murder and you'll get life. You have trained yourself to kill, when you could have trained yourself to disable. In the event that you kill someone, you have no defence. You have trained yourself in the art of murder so you can't say it isn't pre-meditated. You also can't claim that you could do nothing else or even that it was an accident because it wasn't. You'll get life and you deserve it.

I will quote one chilling passage.

"amongst his quickest learners, he says, are city traders - they know that thinking aggresively about a trade is not enough, they actually have to do the trade. It's the same with inflicting violence - thinking about it is often too late. You have to do it"

I have many friends who know all about self defence and martial arts. Our studios are next door to a martial arts club. The first lesson is self control. I am a pacifist in all but desperate situations. This whole article, on the business pages, glorified killing and violence, which are not necessary skills for the streets of our fair city. This article was disgusting and repulsive. I hope that the editor takes suitable action to ensure we don't have to read this type of macho-sadistic drivel again.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Don't cry for me Argentina

Tonight I had the pleasure of watching Brazil vs Mexico. Whatever you may think of the England team, you simply have to admire Brazil. Afterwards on the news, we had the sorry spectacle of  a  Fabio Capellos press conference (you know, the bloke the FA pay £5 million a year for). It seems that we are trotting out all of the same old excuses. Premiership players play too many games. Well Carlos Tevez looked pretty useful to me after a gruelling Premiership season. What about Mascherano? He looked pretty useful too. I could go on. The sad truth is that England just weren't up to it. The Premiership doesn't dominate Europe in the way we kid ourselves it does. Who won the Champions League this year? Inter? Who won it last year? Barcelona? There really is only one area in which it does lead the world. That is in charging extotionate prices to pay overpaid players, effectively excluding the grass roots working class fans. I'm 47  years old. I pay approx £12 a week to play five-a-side twice a week with my mates. Why? because I enjoy it. Did any of the English players really look like they were having fun, even for one minute on Sunday? Guess what game I enjoyed most in last seasons football calendar. It was my sons under 10 team Watling FC, in a 3-3 draw at Burnt Oak lesuire centre. It was a great game of football with some awesome play and some great goals. I look at our Premiership players, some of their antics, their lifestyles and I do wonder where it all went wrong. I wonder if the new Government banned all professional football, forced the clubs to go amatuer, cut admission to grounds to £1 and made all players take public transport to the grounds, how many would hang up their boots.

A crazy notion you say. We'd never win anything with that sort of system. Well, I hate to point this out, but all of the England players who won the world cup for us in 1966, learned there skills when we had a wage cap in professional football and used to take the bus to the ground as apprentices at age 18. You say that we'd loose all our best players to foreign clubs? Maybe but at least home grown players would get a place in the teams. It's a pipedream, I know you can't beat the market, but I just would like to see a bit more passion and a bit more pride. And come on Brazil !

ASBO's - The answer to nothing

I admit it, I'm a lazy sod. I hadn't really bothered to think it through before writing my blog about the ASBO kid with ADHD. Had I not been such a slob and considered the matter properly, I would have raised the main, fundamental point which I completely missed. The point is that I think ASBO's are a disgrace. All they are is a sticking plaster policy, something which the authorities can do when they can't accept the fact that our current society has no coherent policy for dealing with persistent offenders. Most of the people who receive ASBO's are troubled youngsters. The vast majority of them don't come from stable home backgrounds. Many have issues with drink and drugs. For the vast majority, all the ASBO does is make them cause trouble somewhere else. For me that is not enough. I think that in a civilised society we are morally bound to try and help them move away from a lifestyle of anti social behaviour. The ASBO is a stick. Where is the carrot?

I believe that senior policemen, social workers, prison governors and everyone else involved with the rehabilitation of such people should have salaries where a significant proportion of their salary is based on the reoffending rates of the young people they deal with. I don't believe in being soft on offenders, but I do believe that rehabilitation is part of the process. If all prison does is keep people off the streets till their sentance is spent, whilst equipping them with even better crime skills, it is a failure. ASBO's must contain an element of carrot as well as stick. I believe in making the punishment fit the crime. If someone gets done for graffiti, make them clean it off as part of their ASBO. If they cause trouble, make them do community service which in some we addresses the problems they caused. If they have issues with drugs, give them counselling and offer them rehab, in return for eventual easing of restrictions. Educate them as to the damage they are doing themselves. Offer them ways back into education. Many prisoners are illiterate. Make addressing this issue a priority for prison governors.

I would give offenders who don't play ball longer sentences and harsher regimes. If people decide to "conform", ease the conditions off. If they persistently reoffend, raise the bar for parole. I would take care to try and separate hardened offenders from first timers within the prison service. As for ASBO's , rather than banning people from areas, I'd compel them to take college courses or learn skills.If they don't want to, send them to prison. I believe that there is a huge imbalance in the system. We lock up some people for far too long, whilst freeing others who we should throw away the key for. If the people with responsibility for these people got less wonga if the people in there charge reoffended, they might actually take the issue of getting them out of crime seriously.

Lets take a few positives from the world cup

Yep, I feel gutted, but there are a few things to feel good about which have emerged.

1) The England fans behaved themselves and we'll be welcomed back
2) Italians are no better at managing the England team than Englishmen
3) At least we did better than the French
4) We didn't have the spectacle of the fat slob cheat (AKA Maradona) gloating if they'd have knocked us out, as they surely would have


And we beat the Aussies at Cricket yesterday

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Barnet Council - The cult of the Councillors

Being dyslexic, you might wonder if I'm calling our Barnet Councillors a bunch of cults? Nothing of the sort, just thought I'd follow up the earlier expose on North Korea style posters  of our "Dear Councillors" with some images and videos provided by the illustrious readers of the Barnet Eye.

How many of these have appeared? I think it's rather embarrassing, but I suppose it's good to see that the public spending cuts have yet to bite in Barnet

What particularly interests me about this one is that it's clealry positioned next to the road. Do they expect drivers to stop and take down Mrs Tambourides particulars? Last but by no means least, a little video of a nice walk you can take where you can see two of the lovely posters in the space of less than two minutes.


Has it occurred to Councillors such as  Lynne Hillan and Robert Rams(bottom) that Uma Thurman and George Clooney they are not !

Barnet Council Tories celebrate their victory North Korean style !


A quick hat tip to Dan-il Hope Daniel Hope, formerly a member of the local politbureau Council, but now the proprietor of the Barnet Bugle, a not too bad blog about stuff in Barnet. Dan draws our attention to these posters which Barnet Council are putting up to tell us how marvellous they are. Strangely enough, I thought there was a recession, huge public spending cuts and a relentless drive against waste. A leading Tory has informed me that the posters are a "public service" to allow people to "recognise their councillors if they have a problem". He informs me it is nothing whatsoever to do with egomania and narcisism and helps them to perform a "vital public service".

Personally I'd have thought that if councillors really wanted to meet the people in the High Street, they'd have been better of  walking up and down and saying hello to them (but what do I know). It would certainly have been cheaper. My Tory friend informed me that these posters cost "nothing" as the poster company display them for free, in return for putting commercial advertising on the other side. Sadly, me being a swivel eyed Trot, I havea more business orientated view of the world than our local Tories. "Why don't they put commercial information on both sides and make a profit to keep tax down". He was ready for this question "Because this way we can get local information out to the people of Barnet for free".

Well this is the Barnet we live in.Earlier in the year, I detailed how Barnet Council had banned the addition of names of fallen servicemen to our local war memorials on cost grounds - read this blog -

http://barneteye.blogspot.com/2010/02/barnet-council-sticks-to-fingers-up-at.html

Barnet Council has got it so wrong. They will plaster the Borough with the names and pictures of local politicians, subsidised by advertising which could be spent on local community schemes or commemorating real heroes who have made real sacrifices. My local Tory friend also told me something else. He told me that they were rather pleased I lost at the council elections as they really didn't want me embarrassing them about crap like this in the Council chamber. A message to everyone who voted Tory in the Council elections - Happy Now?

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Why we must keep the free bus pass for pensioners

There is much talk that the Conservative Party are planning to abolish the free bus pass for pensioners. The argument is this "Why subsidise people who can afford to pay for it?".This to me is the type of logic which completely alienates me from the Tory party. Firstly, well off pensioners have paid for it. They've spent a whole lifetime contributing to the tax system, putting in far more than they take out. They are not "getting something for nothing" as some Tory commentators like to say, they are getting something back for a lifetime of work and contribution. Secondly it is good for motorists. The buses will run anyway. Some pensioners who now take the bus because of the pass, will drive, causing more pollution and congestion. Thirdly, the London economy will suffer. Many pensioners use their bus pass for days out, which stimulate and support the London economy. Tory commentators claim that if they want to go out, they will anyway. This is completely untrue. My dearly deceased mother got a free bus pass on her 60th birthday. Until ill health prevented her, she'd have a day out on the bus every Tuesday (when the weather was fine). Trips to museums, shopping centres, parks, down to see the river Thames, trips to visit friends, family and former places of work. She'd also regularly get the bus to Burnt Oak, because "the mushrooms were better there" or to Golders Green because there was a shop where she liked the smoked salmon. She'd go down to auctions, visit special events and sometimes just take a particular bus, because she liked the view from the top deck.

All of these journeys would inevitably involve a beer or cup of tea and a sandwich along route. She'd often inform me she'd found a new pub which did an "amazing roast beef sandwich for £1" or the like in the strangest of places. She'd  buy the Evening Standard on the way back and tell us all about her day out. Sometimes she'd just take a sketch pad and draw wome sight she'd seen the previous week, which would later adorn the wall of her flat.

Was she unique in finding this pass to be life enhancing? I doubt it. I know many elderly people who see it as a ticket to a new lease of life. By my maths, approx 30% of the population must be of "bus pass age" and they must make a significant contribution to the economy. It is in all of our interests for them to be active and to spend money in shops. If anyone thinks passing "costcutting" measures which restricts this activity is a good idea, then they are unfit for public office. Mind you, given what the Tory politicians in Barnet are trying to do to the residents of sheltered housing, if there was any group lobbying for such an obnoxioux policy, I'm sure our beloved Barnet mob would be somewhere near the front of the queue.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Brent Cross Redevelopment - If it's so great, why does the picture look like this?



This is one of the pictures from the architects prosepectus for the Brent Cross redevelopment. The area within the black boundry is the area to be redeveloped. Usually architects are proud to display their work, but in this picture, it takes less than 1/4 of the picture. Odd really

The campaign opposing the development have released this close up image, which gives you some idea of the scale. If you look closely, you'll see a London bus dwarfed by the buildings

Now ask yourself this question (I've helpfully added three potential answers). Why do you think that the developers are keen to build these monstrosities?

a) Because they have a deeply held belief that people enjoy living in concrete jungles?
b) Because they want to live there themselves?
c) Because they'll make tens of millions of quid?

An even more interesting question is why our local politicians are so keen. It is interesting that most of the Tory leaders of the Council live on the other side of the Borough.I have my own views on the matter, but then I'm a bit of a cynic. I once asked an architect friend how a certain well known development would look when it was completed, compared with the architects drawings. His answer? Good design looks ten times better and bad design looks a hundred times worse. Can you see any architectural merit in the rows of horrible square concrete block buildings

The Barnet Eye is nothing, if not fair. Here is an open invitation to ANY BARNET COUNCILLOR, to write a blog for the readers of the Barnet Eye, to explain the architectural merit of these awful blocks of flats. As to the marvellous embelishments, such as the incinerator and the 27,000 extra cars in Barnet? It seems that our Barnet Councillors think all of this is life enhancing. Personally I'm not sure whether the our local politicians are blind, stupid or corrupt.

Maybe Lynne Hillan, Leader of Barnet Council would be good enough to explain why this is actually a marvellous plan from an aesthetic perspective.

Is ADHD really an excuse for bad behaviour?

There is a report on the Hendon Times website about a young man, who has been handed an ASBO banning him from the estate where he lives.


http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/8234346.Teen_handed_ASBO_banning_him_from_home/?ref=mc

For me perhaps the most interesting thing is the ensuing debate from various local "commentators". The debate got spicy when Lucylovespurs added this comment :-
lucylovesspurs, n20 0dl says...
9:43pm Wed 23 Jun 10

I want everyone to know that Ashley has A.D.H.D and Conduct Disorder.He is not a piece of worthless scum,and the paper really hasn't told the whole truth here! There are always to sides to a story. And i think its sad that people have judged him by just reading this!
Now Lucylovesspurs is seemingly at an advantage over the other commentators, in that she actually knows the young man in question. She alleges that the paper "hasn't really told the whole truth". Sadly, she doesn't tell us why she has accused the Times of not giving the whole story. Rather predictibly a certain commentator completely misses the point and hurls a few more insults. Lucylovesspurs then  tells us
it was his mother who asked for the ASBO to keep the other children away from him!
Now I've no idea whether this is true, but it certainly seems to cast a new slant on the story. One commentator called "Reality Bites" seems to think that ADHD is no excuse. This commentator probably knows nothing about the condition. I know a little bit. One of my nephews suffers from it. He was raised in the USA, where the condition is treated with stimulants such as amphetamine sulphate which allow the sufferer to concentrate properly. As a result my nephew has a degree. It seems that Ashley here has had problems for some time. Has he been receiving treatment for the condition? Have social services tried to help the family sort the problem out. I suspect that like many disorders, if the child of a rich person suffers from the condition, the outcome is significantly different from if a poor child suffers from it. I've read about some of the "jolly japes" our Prime Minister and our Mayor of London got up to as members of the Bullingdon club. As they were wealthy, they got away with it. If they wore hoodies and lived on Council estates, such behaviour would now be prime ASBO fodder.

Sadly though, the biggest problems in society aren't caused by kids with ASBO's and ADHD. They are caused by a group of people who are extremely greedy and extremely rich. They erect rabbit hutch flats to house families, which are completely unsuitable for families. They bankroll political parties which starve community groups of funds, whilst allowing developers to ruin the environment. They vote for socially divisive policies where front line services are cut, educational programs are cut back and wages and conditions are terrible for working people. They seek to push single parents into work, so that there is no one home to look after unruly teenagers and they allow schools to employ selection policies which see rich parents driving their children across the borough to the best schools, whilst poor children end up at the sink schools, thus perpetuating the cycle.

In answer to the question at the top of the blog. No I don't think ADHD is an excuse for bad behaviour, but I think people with ADHD need help. I do however think being stinking rich is an even worse excuse.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Hey Lynne Hillan, what about your expenses


To quote Council Leader Lynne Hillan from her own taxpayer funded blog, from 25th Feb, explaining why she what she would and wouldn't be posting on the site :-
The only exception will be my expenses which I will post monthly.
 Guess when the last the post was? Yup 25th Feb. What happened to the expenses for March, April and May. It seems that monthly has a different meaning for Ms Hillan. You may wonder what Lynne plans to do with Leader Listens as she can't be bothered? We all wonder, don't we. Why don't you tell us Lynne?

And as for her expenses?

Did you enjoy the match?

So England made the second phase. I broke my finger last Thursday and I've been working on a recording I urgently need finishing. It's a cross between bubble gum rock and rockabilly. As I couldn't play my guitar part, I thought I'd ring my old mate Boz Boorer and ask him if he could (it's right up his street). He was in the pub celebrating. "Did you enjoy the match?" I asked. Boz replied "I don't think you could describe it as enjoyable". The truth is we were in an "easy group" and we scraped through. It was like awaiting a firing squad. I still haven't recovered. Still if we beat the Germans and the Argentinians I guess it will soon be forgotten.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Where the cuts should start at Barnet Council

The press is full of talk of cuts to the public sector. All we hear is how the cuts will hurt. I have no doubt they will, but I don't believe that they should. There is also plenty of talk of how the Tories are going to cut Labour waste. Don't believe a word of it. Look at Barnet where the Tories have been in charge since 2002. When they took over, the CEO, Leo Boland earned £114,000. What does the current CEO, Nick Walkley get - £200,000 not only that but his two deputies get £180,000 each. So we now pay approx five times as much. Are we getting five times better services?

Look at Brian Coleman. He's a councillor for Totteridge and a member of the GLA. As he's Boris Johnsons mate he's also the chair of the LFEPA. How much wealth does Mr Coleman generate being a value for money Tory? How has Mr Coleman improved your life? How much do you think he gets for these roles? Over £100,000 per annum. Not bad for a few part time jobs which generate no wealth.

Barnet Council seem to believe that their role in life is to facilitate big profits for property developers. The Brent Cross scheme has no local support (apart from the people standing to make millions from it), but our Tory Councillors are queueing up to endorse it. Why? Once the development is built and the Borough grinds to a halt in traffic gridlock, they will be long gone, consigned to the dustbin of history. Too late for the rest of us. As the social problems stack up, a future generation will be left to deal with the mess.

So where should the cuts start at Barnet Council? Well lets start at the top. There is layer upon layer of senior managers who add nothing. It is a massively top heavy organisation. Once this layer has been savagely pruned, sack all of the consultants who supply them with endless reports. Slim down non core functions such as the PR department. Stop wasting money on Council run blogs, facebook sites, twitter sites etc. If councillors want this, do what I do, get a free one. Our beloved MP, Jacuzzi king Matthew Offord once told me that between five and fifteen percent of Barnet Staff did nothing useful. My guess is that they are probably the top five to fifteen percent of earners.

Ironic isn't it. A swivel eyed Trotskyite telling a Conservative Council Leader, Lynne Hillan how to save money.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Guest Blog - Open letter to Lynne Hillan, Leader of Barnet Council

By David Howard,

Dear Councillor Hillan,

As members of the Coalition FOR a Sustainable Brent Cross and Cricklewood the Federation of Residents Associations in Barnet (FORAB) is most concerned that politicians elected to represent residents at Borough, London and National level should have totally disregarded the interests and views of Barnet residents, as well as those of the wider communities in the surrounding Boroughs. The scheme for redeveloping Brent Cross and Cricklewood as currently proposed is planned to take 20 plus years to implement:-

They will lead to the destruction of a stable existing community in Cricklewood and replacement with high density, high- rise “hutches for hobbits”. There will be few family or affordable units
We question the need for another new town centre, as well as doubling the size of Brent Cross. What studies have been done on the impact of Westfields in White City and Westfields Stratford, both of which will be more accessible from tubes and railways? Why are Hammersons (the landlord at Brent Cross) saying that they are proposing to concentrate their investment in France for the next five years? Will only phase one with the doubling in size of the shopping centre (and cars but no additional car parking) plus the incinerator be built and the rest deferred , possibly indefinitely?

The proposals will have a serious impact on the 22 existing town centres in Barnet, as well others in Brent, Camden and further afield. No impartial studies have been carried out on the impact on surrounding town centres. There has not been enough money in shopper’s pockets to keep them all alive in the past, let alone in future if the scheme goes ahead.

There will be 29,000 extra cars a day on the already congested roads. We do not accept the spin doctor’s solution of mode shift. We do not believe that 70% of existing shoppers as well as 70% of new future shoppers will leave their cars at home and travel to Brent Cross on buses. There is no new TfL or Dept for Transport money for upgrading the Northern line which will have to cater for 30,000 more people from the new Colindale developments further up the line. There is no future - proofing built in for an alternative light - rail transport system to serve north west London, including Wembley, Brent Cross, Colindale and Mill Hill.. The new railway station is designed to meet the needs of workers in the new office blocks in phase 5 some 20 years away. Will the offices be built? Will the new jobs be created? Will the new station ever materialize?

We are in favour of more recycling but do not accept that the proposed gasification incinerator is safe, as it will produce harmful nanoparticles which are not covered by current regulations.

The area would benefit from investment, and we regret that there has been no real consultation carried out with the wider community by Barnet Council, which has been blinded by the financial benefits the development will bring to it as the significant land owner in the area. This appears to have led to bias in the planning process. The proposals are contrary to both the Conservative party manifesto for the last election and the joint manifesto with the Lib Dems – “Coalition: our programme for government” which promise a bottom - up approach to planning and redevelopment in future.

The community has much to offer in making the regeneration of Brent Cross and Cricklewood a beacon for sustainable regeneration fit for the 21st century. Why won’t the Council engage in dialogue with the community? What has it to lose? This could be a win - win development, but as proposed at present it is going to be a lose - lose disaster.

The approvals to date are only in outline. There is still time to rethink the proposals at detailed planning stage. Barnet Council, you have a second chance. The community is willing to engage in true partnership. Are you willing to engage with the community?

I am sending this open letter to Councillor Richard Cornelius and the local press as well.

Yours sincerely

David Howard

Chair of FORAB

(Picture at top - Developers image of the Brent Cross Concrete Jungle)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
David Howard is the Chair of FORAB and an active campaigner for a better quality of life for Barnet Residents. Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye. Email me via the link in my profile

Monday, 21 June 2010

Barnet Council new housing policy. A masterpiece of stupidity

“I think these proposals should do that but I want to hear from all of the key parties before we finalise a policy” - This is the verdict of Councillor Richard Cornelius, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Housing on Barnet Councils latest discussion paper on the many failings of its council housing policies. The Barnet Eye has already revealed how this paper admits Barnet are institutionally racist in their dealings with ethnic minorities (a fact shamefully ignored by the other local press and media -hang your heads in shame boys and girls). Well I had hoped that the media who get paid to do this (I just do it out of love for my fellow citizens) would actually do a proper bit of analysis on this paper, but they couldn't be bothered. I guess that the underclass are not too worthy of column inches.

Well if they won't I guess I'll have to give up what little spare time I have to step into the breach  (cheers guys). Here's the really obnoxious bits in potted form
Here's what exactly is wrong with this (apart from the fact that people who write this crap clearly have no concept of the fact that people aren't on the housing list because life is going well).

9.13 This policy discriminates against those in most need. Doesn't it occur to the authors that those in dire straights don't have the opportunity to nip out and do a bit of social work, free of charge, for the council. How on earth are one parent families with young children meant to do this, whilst caring for their kids? And before all of the "they shouldn't have kids" brigade jump on the bandwagon, there are many who are in this situation through no fault of their own (abusive relationships, bereavement, abandonment)

9.21 A recipe for lazy council officers to do less work. Oh Mrs X doesn't like the hovel with the ceiling collapsing and the damp, great bump her to the bottom of the queue and send Mrs Y around.

9.23 Great a lovely long list of bodies to consult. One big ommission. The poor sods on the waiting list.

9.24 What can I possibly object to about this? Well I think that 12 weeks is far too short a time. They should have a proper independent study into the failings of the Barnet housing system, commissioned by experts, taking testamony from the people most affected by it, with public meetings in areas of social housing. Lets here what the poor sods who will suffer the policy have to say. There is no way that could be properly organised in 12 weeks.

9.25 This is just pure offence. They are saying that it's OK for staff to experiment with the lives of families? This makes me feel physically sick. They are going to disadvantage 50% of the people on the list whilst they conduct their experiment. Is this an April fool joke?

9.26 "The approach recommended will, in Future Shape Terms, deliver significant improvements". This is ominous. What about in real world terms? It will deliver "better allocations"? Better for who, I bet not the poor sods on the list. Better for the Tory councillors in their ivory towers and the senior council officers who can do less work for their money.

You can download the whole shameful document here
http://committeepapers.barnet.gov.uk/democracy/reports/reportdetail.asp?ReportID=9350

You can tell Richard Cornelius what you think of it here -cllr.r.cornelius@barnet.gov.uk
and you can tell Council Leader Lynne Hillan to sack him here - leader@barnet.gov.uk

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The truth that lies beyond the Secret Garden

My big sister Val posted this picture on Facebook today. It is a picture of my mothers garden taken in March 2008, five months before she passed away. I love this picture, it is full of secrets and mystery. Such a vivid array of wild flowers and colours. The little bird bath with a fat pigeon drinking. As my mums health deteriorated, she'd spend hours staring at the garden, wathcing the birds drink, the squirrels eat the peanuts left for the birds. Occasionally a fox would saunter through, or even a vixen with its cubs. After my mothers stroke in 2001, I would religiously visit her every night and share a couple of cans of Guinness. Her stroke affected her speech, she suffered from a condition known as "Jargon Dysphasia". This robbed her of her legendry eloquence. She became a bit of a recluse, as she couldn't bear the way people treated her like an idiot. The brain was still there, fully functioning, but she couldn't get out what she wanted. The most difficult time was when she became involved in a  protracted court battle with her former solicitor. He claimed that she was, shall we say, not with it and as such her testamony couldn't be trusted. Whilst it was clear to anyone that she was completely right, she had to prove that she'd not instructed him to do something stupid. His defence was that she had and now her family were "manipulating" her. She was livid, but she just couldn't express herself. Her solictor took a statement, the other side challenged her "fitness of mind". We were told by the court that we needed medical proof that she was "of sound mind". Her GP (who I believe knew perfectly well that she was completely sound of mind) bottled it and claimed that a more expert opinion was needed. Eventually she ended up with a top psychologist for a one hour interview on her own. His verdict. She had jargon dysphasia and was completely sound of mind and extremely pissed off with the whole thing. The court eventually saw things her way, sadly it the costs were nearly half of the compensation for her losses. The "other side" had a strategy of dragging it out till she died. She had a strategy of not dying until she won. There really was no contest whatsoever.

When I was standing as a councillor in May I knocked on the door of an old lady in Mill Hill. She looked just like my mother had, the last time I saw her. Frail, unable to communicate, sad. She saw I was a Lib Dem and smiled and gave me a thumbs up. I just wished I'd stopped, made a cup of tea, had a chat, but as I didn't even know her, I couldn't exactly ask myself in and do that.

When I used to visit my mother and share a Guinness, she'd relax. She'd talk. We'd discuss all manner of things and it seemed like the curse of her speech problems would lift for a while. There was a point in around 2005, when I thought she'd make a complete recovery, but then she broke her hip, she got C-Diff in Finchley memorial, her Oesteo Arthritus got worse, with spinal degeneration and her eyesight started to fail. With this came depression and the loss of the will to live, beyond her desire to win her case. Once this was done, she decided she'd had enough. Her trouble was, she knew I wouldn't let her give up. She waited until I'd gone to San Francisco before she had the massive stroke that killed her. She knew that there was no way I could get back to try and persuade her to get better (at least thats how it felt to me). Strangely, I wasn't too sad. I knew she'd had enough. The only things she really enjoyed in life, once her eyesight meant she couldn't read, was having a Guinness of a summer evening and staring at her secret garden. She told me that she would, under no circumstances, move to a home. She told me that she wanted to die in her own flat, not being bossed around by carers and nurses. It would have been far better and easier and far less stressfull for the family, if she'd just F****d off to a home and simply faded away, out of sight and out of mind. None of the endless phonecalls in the night, none of the endless days off work to take her to the doctor. No feeling of fear every evening as I walked home that she'd have another fall and I'd find her dead. Yes it would have been easier. Having said that I wouldn't have missed a single moment of those evenings when we sat and contemplated the secret garden over a can of Guinness for the world.


Mum contemplates her garden in March 2008

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Memories of a misspent youth at school

Today I have awoken in a rather strange and pensive mood. As is my usual routine, I dropped the boy at music school and drove to my gym for a sauna and a jacuzzi. This is the one time during the week when I really get the opportunity to think about things without distraction (if you can call sitting in a jacuzzi whilst 20 primary school age kids have swimming lessons not a distraction).

It got me think back to my own days at St Vincents primary school. How things have changed. Swimming lessons then were terrifying. They took place in Mill Hill open air Swimming pool (probably around May but it always felt like winter in Siberia). We were forced to get in the water and then they'd throw something to the bottom. You had to dive down and get it. I don't know if anyone actually learned to swim. If they were like me they just developed an immense fear of water and all things to do with swimnming pools (I eventually learned to swim on my own aged 16).

Seeing the nice swimming instructors encouraging the kids in a nice warm pool, exemplified how much things have changed. Football at Finchley Catholic High meant cold showers with (I now suspect some of them were "not quite right") teachers watching to make sure we all had one. I've always loved football, but I've never seen the point of cold showers. They told us it was character building. It just put me off. Then there was music. At St Vincents this entailed buying a recorder, having a couple of half hearted lessons then it got forgotten. As to Finchley, the reason I asked to go there was they had "drum lessons" in the prospectus. On my first day I excitedly enquired how I signed up. They replied "Oh we stopped that a couple of years ago". I didn't really like music. My best mate Brian Shillibeer had a great voice and was selected by Mr Turner for the choir. This was a special elite. Brian got to sing at Covent Garden. Mr Turner had a deep love of classical music and the boys in the choir got many special priveliges. Sadly Brian never continued his singing career, although his younger brother Johnny did. Sadly I sing like deranged hog,  so this was never really an option. For me music lessons were all about music I didn't like and things I didn't want to do. At the time popular music was considered "beyond the pale".

Then there was schoolwork. Especially at Primary school, being dyslexic in the 1960's & 1970's was not great. The word for dyslexia then was "thick". I've discussed a few times here my experiences, but I've never much discussed the strategy I used to deploy at St Vincents to deal with it. By the time we were in the junior classes (years 4-6 in todays terms) I decided that, unless it was raining, it was better to get sent out of class than to actually be in it. The junior 2 & 3 classes were portacabins. If you got sent out, you could sit around and observe all of the activity going on. I have vivid memories of taking crusts in from my breakfast so I could feed the birds when I got sent out. I think the teachers eventually cottoned on to the fact that I enjoyed gettintg sent out, because they then started to make me stand at the front of the class with my arms raised in the air.

Another feared activity from Finchley was the dreaded cross country run. Wednesday afternoon was sports day. If this was football, it was OK (showers excepted). Once a month we'd have a cross country run. I was never a great sprinter, so I never took much interest in running. Once in the fourth year, I decided that I was going to really try for the cross country run. This was when I found that I was an OK distance runner. I really went for it and narrowly missed coming second in a sprint finish. Given that there were 180 boys in our year, this was a good achievement. I was pretty proud of it, but the games teacher assumed I'd cheated and disqualified me. That was the beginning and end of my career as a cross country runner. I decided that it really wasn't worth the effort. Given my complete lack of training and general effort, I've often wondered how I might have done if I'd bothered. When I was 25 I decided to run a marathon and started really training properly. My target was to run it in under 3 hours. I was well into my schedule when I got run over and that was the end of that.

When I was 14 I really felt very despondent about everything. I wasn't enjoying school, I didn't really have any interests and I wasn't very sociable given that my main hobbies were causing trouble, being objectionable and winding people up. Then a remarkable thing happened. I discovered punk rock. Straight away I understood the nihilism. Strangely, just realising that other people felt the same made me feel a million times better. Strangely this improved my school grades as well.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Truly marvellous news for the people of Mill Hill

Regular readers of this blog will know that I play five a side football every Thursday night at Powerleague (and every Sunday). Whilst it might surprise you to know that none of the squad were selected by Fabio Capello for a trip to South Africa, what may surprise you less is the fact that after our kickaround, we retire to a certain well known hostelry in Mill Hill. Now I have no desire to embarrass the manager of it, so I won't name and shame it here, but in our post match analysis, our multi national panel of experts discussed some rather interesting facts. Our little group has been playing together for approx 12 year. In this time w reckon we've spent £50,000 on drinks in the pub during our Thursday night gatherings. We all usually have three drinks - average price approx £2.75. Add to that a tenners worth of crisps, nuts etc and the fact usually about ten of us go for a drink, it has totted up to a staggering amount of money.

Guess how many times since the existing pubco bought it, we've been given "drinks on the house"? Any idea? None. Guess how many times they've given us a free snack? Any idea? Once. We were once given a plate of sandwiches because "The funeral reception hadn't eaten them". Now I regularly dine at both The Day of The Raj and The Mill Hill Tandoori. Been going there for years. The governers of both institutions nearly always finish the meal by providing drinks on the house. It is just good business sense.

Anyway, last night the conversation turned to whether we should continue to patronise such an ungrateful institution. The incident that sparked the conversation was when we had to wait ten minutes to get served because there was only one member of staff actually serving, despite a busy pub. The manager was having a drink with friends (although presumably working). We discussed the possibility of switching to another pub, just to see if it might be better.

Anyway, sadly for us, the most likely venue, The Adam and Eve recently closed down. Had this not been the case, I'm sure that a decision would have been made there and then. How strange it was to see that I had a new blog follower today. Even stranger that they have just started writing a blog themselves. I'm not going to spoil the fun JUST CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT THIS EXCELLENT PIECE OF NEWS FOR MILL HILL IS. I wish my new blog competetor well.

Ramones Special - possibly the worlds most stupid blog post

Some idiot posted this :-


http://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/lists/2010/06/the-10-best-ramones-songs-of-all-time.html

Now this was drawn to my attention by my dear sister who took me along to see the Ramones on the 6th July 1977. This was the moment I realised I actually loved music and wanted to do nothing else with my life. Now Mr Knob - AKA Austin L. Ray has the audacity to actually call 10 Ramones songs "The Best". Now whilst we all have our favourites, how could anyone who knows anything about the Ramones possibly miss out Pinhead, which was the highlight of every show? He chose Blitzkrieg Bop as No 1 with the following comment :-

1. “Blitzkrieg Bop” If you don’t think this is #1, you’re simply kidding yourself.
 
Well sorry Mr Ray, if you think Blitzkrieg Bop is the best track ever, you simply weren't there when it mattered. If you were wondering my top 10 - Beat on the Brat, Now I wanna Sniff some glue, Rockaway Beach, Commando,53rd and 3rd, Sheena is a Punk Rocker, California Sun, Loudmouth, Blitzgrieg Bop and yes Pinhead.

Does any of this matter. Well it does to me. If you ever saw the Ramones in their heyday, the set was like sex, only better and Pinhead was the orgasmic crescendo. I must have seen the Ramones 30 or 40 times and I miss them like mad. What really was the final nail in the reputation of Mr Ray's reputations coffin was his comment about his No 3. song :-


3. “Sheena is a Punk Rocker”
When Thurston Moore covers your song on Gossip Girl, you know you’ve done something right.

Who gives a F**K about Thurston Moore, we're talking about the Ramones. Anyone who knows anything about the Ramones would not possibly say such a stupid thing. They were a primevil force that was indescribably brilliant as a live band and made great records. I just feel honoured to have stood in the audience and watched them.

Mr Ray has achieved something I would have thought impossible. He's managed to write the most stupid blog post ever, whilst trying to praise the Ramones. Twat.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

I'm glad we've got a Conservative Prime Minister !

Hold the front page. Barnet Lib Dem Candidate Rog T says he's glad David Cameron won the election. Has hell frozen over? I'm starting to think it must have. If you were on the 07:47 train from Mill Hill to central London yesterday morning you'd have seen a strange sight. You'd have seen a grown man crying. Why? Well I was reading the Guardians coverage of the Bloody Sunday enquiry. First I read the piece by Simon Winchester, who was a witness to the  killings. Then I read the apology given by David Cameron to the Commons. Finally I read Bernadette Devlins comments, detailing how she hit Reginald Maudling when he lied to the house. It all got a bit too much.

I'm not normally a particularly emotional person, but we need more MP's like Devlin. She hit Maudling because she knew for a fact he was a liar and he was getting away with a monstrous act. If only every MP who behaved so badly got a punch in the face in the chamber, maybe things really would change. Sadly the commons was not televised then so the moment is not preserved for posterity.

Why am I suddenly glad that we have a Conservative Prime Minister. Because the Tories and the Unionists are joined at the hip. The fact that it is a Tory Prime Minister who finally has to own up to the truth about the most shameful British action in my lifetime is worth all of the pain and hardship that they'll inflict on us. Cameron said
The Government is ultimately responsible for the conduct of our armed forces and for that, on behalf of the Government  - and indeed our country - I am deeply sorry.
It is forgotten by many that the protest was organised by the Civil Rights Association. The killings effectively ended this organisation and gave wings to the brutal Provisional IRA. Nothing the CRA was asking for was unreasonable. By murdering people, a far worse scenario erupted. The past can't be undone, but as far as I am concerned only a Conservative Prime Minister could effectively apologise for the crimes of another Conservative Government.

In many ways I'm a Bastard of mixed race. Although I cheer the English football team and proudly wear the flag of St George, I'm equally proud of my Irish Ancestry, of my Cousin Kevin Barry who was an early IRA martyr (for the record, I'm even prouder of my Dad who was an Aussie Immigrant who flew Wellington Bombers for the RAF 40 squadron (commemerated here on the Australian War Memorial Web Site)).

I passionately believe that we need to rectify the tragic errors of the past, acknowledge our mistakes, but also remind ourselves of the enormous good this country has done for the world. Mr Cameron and his apology have helped. It would have meant nothing to me had it come from Gordon Brown, for reasons I can't explain and can't fathom.

Some things are more important than ecomomics, money and politics. That is why I think the Bloody Sunday enquiry was money well spent. We can never be a society where inconvenient truth is hidden away. That's why I write a blog.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The Most awful monster in the world

When I was but a wee nipper, I became rather scared of a certain monster on Dr Who and started to have nightmares about it. My father, being a gruff outback Aussie, decided to cure me in the way only he could. He picked me up and told me to shut my eyes and under no circumstances open them till he told me to. He then carried me upstairs and I heard various strange sounds. Then I heard him light his lighter. He held my head and said "I am going to show you the most terrible monster in all the world, open your eyes now". In abject terror, my eyes opened to find my own reflection staring back at me, lit only by the light of his cigarette lighter. He then said "all of the worst atrocities imaginable have been committed by men, animals only kill out of instinct".

I thought it a rather odd thing and didn't really get it at the time. From time to time things happen though and it makes more sense, if you know what I mean.

The False Dots - Live at the Purple Turtle



This is what I do when I'm not blogging. My band the False Dots live at the Purple Turtle on Friday 11th June 2010. Thanks to Joe Grahame for the video footage.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Barnet Council paper admits discrimination against Blacks and Asians

Barnet Council has admitted that it discriminates against black and asian people in a recently released Council briefing paper. The paper states the following :-
You can download the whole paper here - http://committeepapers.barnet.gov.uk/democracy/reports/reportdetail.asp?ReportID=9350

So what do the council propose to do?

So if you've finally worked your way to the top of the waiting list after years of stress, tough luck. They are going to suspend the list pending its full abolition. There is one clear issue a lack of Council housing. Does the paper discuss how the reall problem may be addressed. Of course it doesn't.

The most damning passage was the following  :-
This is a complete scandal. The Tories have had eight years in charge. They have allowed the system to be discriminatory and not fit for purpose. They've even allowed one poor soul to apply 1,000 times for a home with no hope of getting one. How much does each bid cost the taxpayer? How much grief has she suffered and energy has she wasted? Has she received an apology?

The CEO of Barnet Council, Nick Walkley owes the people of Barnet an apology, as does Council Leader Lynne Hillan. All they are planning to do is abolish the list so there is no audit trail of their failure. This is a disgrace and a scandal. This is one subject which should be exposed nationally on BBC News

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Daily Express names and shames Barnet Councils "Greedy Pen Pushers"

Cut these greedy pen pushers and free the nation !

This is the call to arms from columnist Leo McKinstry in todays Daily Express. Given that this blog has been calling for such action for years, we wholeheartedly back Mr McInistrys comments. Reading through Mr McInistrys article I was not surprised to find that the very first example he chose to give of council wastage was Barnet. In Barnet Council there is a culture of waste and a culture of not caring. Front line services are cut left, right and centre, such as wardens for the residents of sheltered housing,  call centres are moved to far flung shores under "Future Shape", in the process destroying local jobs, yet the council wastes millions on consultants to advise that there is a shortage of senior management. As the monstrous Future Shape "savings scheme" rolls into town we find that they are recruiting "senior assistant directors" on huge salaries to implement it (odd how in Barnet Council, savings always involve more managers). This blog detailed all of this a couple of weeks ago. Leo McInstry clearly agrees, he says in todays Daily Express :-
Too much public sector recruitment is nothing more than an employment racket for over-paid bureaucrats. Only this month, for instance, Barnet Council in North London has advertised for three assistant directors on salaries totalling over £300,000
We couldn't agree more, or put it better ourselves. Barnet Council CEO Nick Walkley and Leader of the Council Lynne Hillan should hang their heads in shame. The Daily Express is a staunchly Conservative paper and for a Tory Council to be named and shamed by such a paper is a complete humiliation. What we need is a council which takes an axe to the bloated management structure and uses the huge savings it can make to ensure that front line services to the weak, frail and elderly are defended.This blog is not a right wing slash and burn rag. We are left leaning and passionately believe in maintaining public services. This can only be done by efficiently managing our resources and getting rid of highly paid managers doing non jobs. Given the millions Barnet has spent on consultants, only to be told "hire more managers" it is clear that the bosses in their North London Business Park Ivory Towers just don't get it. I hope being named and shamed by the Daily Express is the reality check they need.

I have this question for Mr Walkley and Ms Hillan as they have their morning coffee. How do you feel about the fact that out of all of the hundreds of councils in England, the Daily Express chooses Barnet Council as the very first example of "an employment racket for over-paid bureaucrats" in an article titled "Cut these greedy pen pushers and free the nation"?

P.S Note to Boris. Your hand picked appointee to run the Fire Service (LFEPA) is the kingmaker who pulls the strings in this failed regime. Wake up and sack him.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Fly the Flag for Broken Barnet !!!!!!!!

Barnets MPs. Initially a problem?

As I am feeling mightily P****d off due to poor goalkeeping (being a City fan, I knew Capello should have picked Joe Hart), I thought I'd give you all something to have a mild chuckle about (well it made me laugh). Have you ever thought about our MP's initials? For example, Gordon Brown was well placed to be prime minister, being "GB". Can we assume that David Cameron will be the most relaxed Tory Prime Minister about homosexuality as he's "DC"? No section 28 legislation from him. Many Tories think Tony Blair was a dose of TB to British politics. John Major was as much a non event with his initials as his Prime Ministership. Mind you it doesn't always work like that. Winston Churchill wasn't exactly Toilet as a leader. Which brings us on to our local MP's. Now Theresa Villiers is a TV. This amuses me as I've always found her to be a bit of a drag when she actually speaks. She has a delivery which makes the speaking clock sound sexy and exciting. As to Matthew Offord. MO is the term in the army for a Doctor or Medical Orderly. Offord has always reminded me as Jim Dale in Carry On Doctor. A bit wet behind the ears. I was having a look at Offords website and he has the slightly unnerving look of a doctor who you don't quite trust -"Well Mrs Jones, I'm not quite sure whether you have Lung Cancer or Lumbago". Finally we have Mike Freer. Now in America, MF is quite a nasty insult. I'm not going to  argue with the Yanks on this one.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Make the punishment reflect the crime

The Hendon Times reports that a paedophile who groomed and assaulted a girl over a five year period received a 14 year sentence -
http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/8215643.Paedophile_jailed_for_5_year_grooming_daughter_of_friends/?ref=mr -

As I understand it, prisoners who behave serve approx 1/3rd of their sentence. That means this waste of oxygen will be out in under five years. The young girl in question was abused for the same period. How long will the damage last? What price the loss of childhood? What about the difficulty to form relationships and trust. This monster will be out aged 54. What are the chances of reoffending? Given he's a devious creep, judging by the details.

In my opinion, people like this monster should be locked up until they are physically incapable of reoffending. I suspect that as the damage caused will take a lifetime to get over, then a lifetime of repentence and contemplation courtsey of her majesty is the least we should expect. I truly believe  that if this bloke was truly sorry, he'd ask for the maximum possible sentence and not appeal for parole. Fat chance of that happening.

Thank you

A note of thanks to everyone who came down to see the band last night at the Purple Turtle in Camden Town. We had an absolute hoot. What was fantastic was to see Mandy Spokes who was our very first singer back in 1979. I've not seen Mandy since she quit the band. What was even better to hear was that she's still a music nut. Mandy was going out with our first drummer, Dave Edwards. Dave left the band after he was jumped by three thugs in Mill Hill Broadway whilst waiting for a bus home. He was minding his own business with Mandy, when they correctly identified him as a mate of myself and Pete Conway, our singer. They threw Dave through the window of WH Smiths. Dave managed to drag himself up and run off. They caught up and threw him through the window of a jeweller. One of the assailants severed a tendon in his arm. An off duty police officer saw the incident and the assailants were nicked. The police found Dave in Flower Lane. They followed the trail of blood.  The assailants got 18 months as I recall. Although Dave recovered, that really spelled the end of that line up of the Dots. We were supposed to support the UK Subs in Derby. That was meant to be our first gig. Mandy looked great and she made my day.

Anyway, for those of you that didn't make it, here's a piccie, thanks to Wende Bryden.

My advice to Councillor Andrew Harper - beware of the blog from beyond the grave

Further to yesterdays blog about Barnet Council not flying the flag of St George for the world cup, Don't call me Dave has forwarded me an email from Councillor Andrew Harper. He's performed a swift and sensible U-turn and has now agreed to fly the flag. I actually quite like Andrew, he's one of the more sensible and humourous of the Barnet Tories. My advice to him is this. Before you speak to the press and make silly decisions, take a minute to think. It will save much bother and derision (especially from this blog).

Anyway, it is yet another great victory for the bloggers of Barnet. I suspect that the council were terrified that Don't Call Me Dave might be forced out of retirement by their stupidity and that is the thing they fear most. It would make a great film "The blog from beyond the grave". I think in future rather than David actually writing a blog, all he needs to do is say he'll start again and they'll panic and see sense.

Friday, 11 June 2010

A question for Councillor Harper, Deputy Leader of Barnet Council

Dear Andrew, what country do we live in? I was tempted to ask him what planet, but that might seem a tad rude.You see Andrew objects to the proposal to fly the flag of St George over the Town Hall for the duration of the world cup. Here's what Andrew had to say about the issue
The Town Hall is the civic heart of the borough and the only flag which should be flown at the building is the Union flag. Personally, I’ll be following the World Cup with great interest, as I’m sure will many Barnet residents. But in times of tough economic pressures, the council as an organisation has greater priorities to deal with. 
 So what could be a greater priority than encouraging pride in our magnificent country? Well you could attend this comic book workshop organised by Councillor Robert Rams, Cabinet Member for Customer Access and Partnerships. Councillor Rams proudly boasts. You could have a barbeque following Councillor Melvin Cohens latest advice in his press release.

You see, telling people not to wash their pork chops is more important than national pride in Barnet. That is a priority. Anyway, IF YOU CLICK HERE YOU CAN FIND OUT HOW TO TELL ANDREW WHAT YOU THINK OF HIS PRIORITIES.  David Cameron said we should all take a role in running the country so what better place to start.

Oh and if Councillor Harper is worried about the cost of a flag, Don't Call Me Dave, Barnets most sensible ex-Tory has offered to donate one free of charge.

And just to clarify one little thing. I'll be cheering England even though I'm of Australian/Irish ancestry, because you know what? unlike our local Tory bigwigs I'm damn proud of this country.

Once upon a time in a land….

far far away………….Person A learns his colleague Person B is in financial trouble and could lose everything. Person A lends Person B money to help. Person B promises to pay Person A back with interest when things are better. Person A does not check why Person B found himself in financial problems he just felt he should help. Person A did not check if Person B had learnt the lessons of why he found himself in financial problems. 
Two years passed and Person A is in financial trouble. Person A may have to sell his home and lose his job. Person A has not asked Person B if he can pay back some or all of the money he lent to Person B.
Person B is doing very well, making profits and enjoying life. Person B knows Person A is in trouble but has not offered to help out. Person B is angry that Person A has not sorted out his financial problems and is demanding that Person A sells his house and lose his job in order to pay his debt.
Person C works for Person A. Person C may lose their job their home and their pension because Person A lent money to Person B. Person C asks Person A to ask Person B for the money they lent Person B. Person C doesn’t understand where the money which was lent to Person B has gone?
Are you confused? 
·        Person A is the government
·        Person B is the Banks bailed out by the Government.
·        Person C is you the Public sector worker.
Final Question:
Knowing what you know now would you lend Person B money?
It is all quite simple really. We want our money back and we want it now!
Sign up for the petition.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Guest Blog - Understanding the BNP

By Hugh Jardon,

What motivates racism? Why do people have a dislike of "people of other"? Through my work, I've had dealings with many people who have "issues" with "people of other". Where does deep seated dislike come from? Throughout the natural world, where do we find aggressive behaviour? In the world of nature, there are four circumstances where we see general aggression. Predators use aggression to kill food. Agression is used to secure sexual activity, aggression is used to establish a pecking order in a pack and aggression is used as a response to fear. We can assume that racist behaviour is not being used to secure food. I believe racism is caused by a combination of the other three aggression triggers. It is a response to "fear of other". We can all see when people are different. As a result, there is an animalistic fear response. This is one of the main themes throughout all racist literature. "They take our jobs" is a common refrain. The wording is designed to encourage "fear of other". The fact that immigrants are doing jobs which would otherwise not get done is rarely mentioned. Once racists actually get to know "people of other", they rationalise it by saying "He's alright but the rest of them ...".

Then there is the establishment of pecking order within the pack. Extremist groups are mainly small cabals of individuals. Unlike mainstream political parties, "action" is what impresses. Within the group, violence is seen as mainstream activity. It is a major cause of disconnect between the extremists and the wider public, who generally abhor violence. The general public run a mile from trouble. Extremists are often drawn, like moths to a candle, to it. When was the last time you saw a baying mob of racists and thought to yourself "they look like a pleasant bunch to have a night out with"?. Racists on the other hand, believe violence is a useful means to an end. Many also seek rigid structure in society. This again is driven by the need to be part of the pack and in thepecking order.

Finally we have aggression to secure sexual activity. It is quite clear that racism is often driven by sexual insecurity. The concept that "black people are stronger", "black men have a large penis", "black people are better athletes" triggers feelings of inadequacy. Whilst the general population rejoices when a British athlete such as Daley Thompson wins gold at the Olympics, the racist mind sees this as a clear and present sexual threat. Many racists abhor Britains black athletes far more than they hate "fundamentalist terrorists". Ask them how they feel about Rio Ferdinand becoming England captain and  they become incandescent with rage. When they see multi racial relationships, they see it as an attack on their own sexual identity. This is why we see savage attacks by strangers on mixed race couples. Often the transgressor cannot even explain why they became so enraged by two people holding hands and minding their own business. To the racist, it is tantamount to someone waving a huge penis at them and saying "she loves me because I've got this".

The way to address racism is to educate our citizens that the myths surrounding colour are myths (sometimes self perpetuating myths). It is to make our citizens realise that British citizens are as much a part of our community as they are. It is to make them realise that these citizens are not a threat. If you are a racist, ask yourself why. Ask yourself whether the problem is within you. If you feel enraged when you see a mixed race couple, is your rage really at yourself? Only when you can deal with this, will you move on.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hugh Jardon works as a councillor to people within the prison service. This is a pseudoname to protect his identity. Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye.

A homage to the Mill Hill Jazz Club

I've mentioned my upstart competetor, The Mill Hill Broadway Blog here before. The blog is doing a stirling job promoting businesses and other things of interest in Mill Hill. One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is the Mill Hill Jazz Club. The jazz club is the creation of my old mate Paul Amsterdam. The Jazz club recentl;y celebrated its 10th birthday.

Anyway, they've got a great band on next Wednesday. It's The Chess Players featuring Adrian Paton on piano from Big Chief fame and a host of other top class players, namely: John (Chick) Webb on drums, Dick Pearce on trumpet, Bob Sydor on tenor and Jim Richardson on bass.

Now as you know I'm a football nut, but if you want to escape the fun of the world cup, what better way. People often say "Nothing ever happens in Mill Hill". Well the jazz club has been happening for over ten years now and has brought some of the UK's finest musicians to NW7.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Friday 11th June - The False Dots live at the Purple Turtle Camden

Just a quick note to plug my band - The False Dots  - gig at the Purple Turtle on Friday evening. We're on at around 7.30 pm. Here's some video footage from our recent gig at The Fiddlers Elbow in Camden Town, so you can see if you like it. Our singer Koni is going to be a huge star, so see her whilst you can in a small club.



It should be a good night. The club is open until 3am

The most feared word in the english language?

What is the word you least want to hear in a sentence? What word almost never appears in a sentence which is good? My vote? Oncologist. Yesterday we took our dog for an x-ray on her leg as she's been limping. When I went to pick her up, the vet told me that the pictures were being sent to an oncologist. Don't panic, don't draw any conclusions until we know for sure. It may be something else.

Cancer has affected my life and family in so many ways. I must be stupid as it never occurred to me that it might affect the dog. Lets just hope that the vet is wrong when we get the oncologists verdict.Lets hope for once that this word brings good news.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Is Barnet Council run by complete twats?

You will be pleased to know that Barnet Council, not content with losing our money in Iceland, keeping Lawyers R Us in work for years with many and varied cock ups and doing their bit to prop up hard up building contractors with huge overspends on Aerodrome Road, have found a new way to waste your money. They've started issuing press releases on how to have barbeques.

http://www.barnet.gov.uk/press_releases.htm?id=2225

Sadly Councillor Melvin Cohen, Cabinet Member for Governance and Civic Affairs, who issued the release doesn't advise us on a good red to go with a burnt burger, or even tell us where we can source the finest sardines in Barnet (they are great on the Barbeque) - my advice - try the fishmongers in Burnt Oak. Nope, Melvin gives us some advice on how not to kill ourselves. I didn't realise this was covered by Governance and Civic Affairs, but Melv, ever the, clearly wants to grow the role. Anyway, I'd hate to think any Barnet Eye's readers will die, due to not reading Melvins advice. I must be a bit strange as when I'm having a barbeque, I don't automatically check the Council website for hints. If any of you have managed to miss Melv's tips - here you go.


* Cook food thoroughly so it is piping hot throughout. With chicken and meat, when you cut into the deepest part there should be no pinkness and juices should run clear

* Some meat, such as steaks and joints of beef or lamb, can be served rare as long as the outside has been properly cooked or 'sealed'. It's important to seal meat to kill any bacteria that may be on the outside

* Keep raw meat separate from ready-to-eat food. Store raw meat and poultry in sealed containers at the bottom of the fridge to avoid dripping on other food. Never use the same chopping board for raw meat and ready to eat food without washing the board and knife in between

* Don't wash meat before cooking it. Washing does not get rid of harmful germs - only proper cooking will. You also run the risk of splashing germs onto worktops and utensils.

The Barnet Eye would like to add a few helpful hints which Melvin seemed to miss.

* Don't drink three bottles of vodka before you light the Barbeque as you may set yourself on fire


* Don't plung your face into the red hot coals on the Barbeque as it will hurt (unless you've drunk six bottles of vodka, then the pain will be deferred till you sober up)

* Always make sure you are outside of the house when you light the barbeque or you may burn your house down

* Do not rest the baby on top of the barbeque stove when it is hot or you will burn the baby

* Don't relight the barbeque by pouring petrol on as you may burn yourself to death

Now you may find all of these rather obvious ( a bit like Melvins tips really) but they are all stories which cropped up when I googled for a few Barbeque related injuries. Whilst it clearly is an extremely serious matter, it strikes me that if the Council has enough press officers to sit around writing this rubbish, it has enough press officers to make a few redundant.

I look forward to Melvins next safety email. Maybe he could have a chat with Matthew Offord MP and do a "safety in jacuzzis" press release or even Brian Coleman and do a "why we should obey the speed limit" press release. Or even better. Maybe he could actually try and run the council properly and cut out this crap.

Welcome to Nowhere


Nowhere (Pauls Song)

FALSE DOTS | MySpace Music Videos


A view of Mill Hill as you've never seen it before ! Music by the False Dots. We're playing at the Purple Turtle on Friday evening  (11th June), onstage at 8pm. We have a great singer with us, Koni A, who is going to be the next great soul diva ! If you've nothing lined up, come on down

Early hospital release - A good or a bad idea

The Vanessa Feltz show is awash with debate on the subject of the governments plans to fine hospitals who release people "too early" and who are readmitted within 30 days. The scheme sounds completely bonkers to me. I was pondering the concept of too early. What exactly is too early? Well there are clearly cases where it would be definately too early. I guess if you are mid operation, with your guts hanging out, then thats too early. If you are infected with dengue fever and pose a risk to other people, then it's too early. This however ( I hope) isn't what we are talking about. We are talking about people who are getting better. People who are well on the mend.

The issue is where are you more likely to get better. Two people can medically be in the same condition, but social circumstance might make early release a good thing for one person and a bad thing for another. Just suppose myself and my next door neighbour got run over a month ago and are hospitalised. We've been laid up and had the same issues. Now we are on the mend. If I come home, I've got a nice house and a wife to look after me and make my food and drinks, whilst I lie in bed. We are financially secure and cash isn't a worry. She can nip down the road and get shopping and get medicines. She can change simple bandages and dressings.

My neighbour (this isn't a real person) lives alone, has issues with alcohol, hasn't got a job, his friends are all in the pub. He has no one to cook for him and has lived on of Jenny burgers for the last ten years. He wants to be released so he can get down the pub, because his mates have promised to wheel him around their in his wheelchair.

Who do you think is more lilkely to be back in hospital in a month? Whos fault is it if we are both released and I'm back on my feet four weeks later and he's dead? My fear is that by imposing these arbitary rules, I'd be kept in. In my case I'd be more at risk in hospital. Hospitals are full of sick people with bugs. If you want to catch MRSA or C-Diff, they are the place to be. I'd feel safer at home. Rules such as this just waste money. In super litigious USA hospitals always perform every conceivable test on patients for fear of being sued. They end up spending twice the amount we do on health, yet the popluation is less healthy. The NHS may not be perfect, but it's better than any of the alternatives I've seen. The trouble is mostly caused by politicians continually tinkering. This is just one more unnecessary bit of legislation.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Is Barnet becoming a Police state?

I was stunned to read the latest press release from Barnet Council. It is entitled :-

Enjoy the World Cup responsibly this summer
(click here to read the whole thing - http://www.barnet.gov.uk/press_releases.htm?id=2224 )

The press release ends with the following statement :-
Councillor Joanna Tambourides, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Cohesion, said: "The World Cup is a time when the whole community enjoys the feelgood factor, and the council is totally supportive of residents enjoying themselves while watching the football. What won't be tolerated is anti-social and violent behaviour that intimidates or harms others simply trying to enjoy the games. We will work closely with our police colleagues to make sure that any problems are quelled quickly and effectively."
Does the phrase "We will work closely with our police colleagues to make sure that any problems are quelled quickly and effectively" sound like what you'd expect a councillor to say about the World cup? It surprised me to see that this is, so far, the only Barnet Council press release on the subject of the World Cup. Nothing trying to capitalise on the huge interest in participent sport, which will doubtless ensue. Nothing to get youngsters off their backsides and out  into the parks playing football. No special events to use the World Cup to promote community cohesion (just think how many different nationalities, who live in Barnet are represented). All we have from  the Police is this statement :-
Inspector Simon Roberts, in charge of Barnet Police's Priority Intervention Team, said: "Naturally we want England to go the whole way and win, and we want people to enjoy every moment of it. While we think the chance of any real problems arising is low, passions do tend to run quite high in these sorts of events. We will deal robustly with any disorder and alcohol related offences during South Africa 2010."
Is it just me or are we becoming rather authoritarian in Barnet. Are the Police saying they don't normally deal robustly with disorder and alcohol related offence? Are they saying that they are simply targetting World Cup revellers?

Even more worrying is the following statement in the press release :-
Enforcement and police officers have extra powers in the Cricklewood, Tally Ho, Finchley Central and Hendon Central areas where there are alcohol control zones now in place. If there are people drinking in the street and officers suspect they may commit anti-social behaviour they can demand the alcohol is handed over. A £500 fine is the maximum penalty for refusal.
So the Police have been given the power to sieze alcohol if they think someone "may commit anti-social behaviour". Lets get this right, you don't actually have to do anything. So if I go for a picnic in Finchley and have a lager and a policeman decides "I might commit anti social behaviour" he can nick my booze?

This is completely bonkers. There are acts of anti social behaviour actually happening all of the time in Barnet, which go unpunished, which the police totally ignore, but they can nick the booze of anyone they think "may commit an offence during the world cup?".

It flies in the face of English law to allow Police to punish people for crimes they haven't committed. They have drafted 30 extra officers in to deal with "football related trouble" but refuse to deal with all sorts of other trouble. Sure, bunches of bare chested blokes drinking lager and shouting "England" isn't the most edifying of sights, but what sort of a world are we coming to.

I suspect that the real cause of this press release is the fact that Councillor Joanna Tambourides and her ilk are snobs who hate football. I suspect that they consider normal working people who actually know how to enjoy themselves to be oiks and that they would ban all revelling if they possibly could. I seem to recall Brian Coleman telling Ken Livingstone with great glee, how he'd scuppered plans for a large screen for people to watch games on in Hyde Park. I suspect the reason that Brian doesn't understand the thrill of watching football over a few lagers with your mates is because he hasn't actually got any mates.