Sunday, 23 October 2011

Why every decent person in Barnet should want Andrew Dismore to beat Brian Coleman in the GLA election next May

Next May there is an election for the GLA in London. This is the body which oversees and scrutinises the Mayor of London. In Barnet our representative is Councillor Brian Coleman. For belong to this body, Coleman gets paid over £50K per annum. Not a bad salary for a very part time job. As an elected official, Brian Coleman is supposed to represent and look after the interests of his constituents. One of the main functions of Mayor Boris Johnson and the GLA which oversee him is to have final say on planning and large scale developments in London. Due to the appalling housing crisis, previous Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone set a 50% target for social housing for any development where there were over 14 dwellings. This is necessary to ensure that key workers such as teachers, police, firemen, nurses, etc who don't earn enough to buy their own place in London can actually have somewhere to live. Needless to say that Boris Johnson has watered these targets down since taking over in 2008. As a result, there is an ever worsening housing crisis. In Barnet we are seeing huge developments going up all over the place, such as Brent Cross, Colindale, Mill Hill East to name a few. Whilst many people feel these schemes will blight the Borough of Barnet, Boris and his lackey Coleman are hell bent on thwarting every step to ensure that these developments are in any way suitable or affordable for low pay workers.

It is not just the loosening of targets for social housing. Developers have had no pressure to improve the public transport infrastructure or even ensure that we have enough school places. Recently a video by Councillor Daniel Thomas, a Barnet Conservative Cabinet member inadvertently revealed this failure.

Environmental campaigners have been lobbying for a new transport system, which would by and large use abandoned or lightly used rail lines, to form a new transport network in Barnet, linking the west and east of the Borough. Whilst the developers could be forced to pay for much of the work, Boris and Brian Coleman have zero interest. Coleman described the people pushing the scheme as "grown men playing with train sets". Whilst the scheme would provide a convenient and cheap way of getting around, allowing people who live in the new flats in Mill Hill East to get to work in Brent Cross or kids in Grahame Park to get to school in Mill Hill, the car obsessed Coleman has no care whatsoever, decreeing that his priority is "roads, roads, roads".

Perhaps the biggest indictment on Coleman was his comment his constituent Sharada Osman (who is a single mum in part time education with a son with special needs), when she asked for help and advice on her problems with accomodation.
I suggest  you will have to turn to the private sector for housing as there no way  there will ever be enough Council Houses available
As this blog exposed, earlier this week, Colemans council are very keen on Private Landlords. They recently passed a paper under delegated powers (ie no discussion in open council) to give £100,000 in incentives to private landlords in Barnet. No wonder Coleman is keen to send Sharada to his mates for a flat. This brings us to Andrew Dismore, his Labour rival for the GLA job. He used to be MP for Hendon. In this role, he didn't (unlike Coleman) have any direct responsibility for provision of council housing. What was his attitude?

I happen to know first hand that Andrew took a completely different view of single mums with special needs children who have problems with their housing. My former business partner died ten years ago. He'd sunk every penny he had into our business and when he was cruelly killed by pancreatic cancer, he left three children with little money in the bank. As his home was tied to his job as a caretaker, his wife found herself homeless and alone. She was put up by Barnet Council in temporary accomodation. It seems that in Barnet, being a widow with a special needs child doesn't give you enough points to actually get a council house. Her husband had worked as an ambulance driver and a bus driver for many years, prior to helping me set the studios up. Sadly this public service counts for nothing either. Three years ago my friends widow contacted me in a real state of stress. Barnet's Tory Council had contacted her and told her that they could no longer accomodate her. She would have to up sticks, pull her children (already traumatised by the loss of their father from a horrible death due to cancer) our of their schools and move to Norfolk. I advised her to contact her then MP, Andrew Dismore and see if he could help. Did he, like Brian Coleman, advise her to live in the real world? Of course he didn't. He went and saw the family, listened to their problems and contacted Barnet Council. Through his efforts, the problem was resolved and the family are still living in the Borough and the children are still with their friends at the schools they have grown up in.

Being a GLA member and a Councillor is a job that is what you make of it. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that if Andrew Dismore replaces Brian Coleman, he will do the job to the best of his ability and make sure that people like my friends widow and Sharada Osman have somebody representing them who will work hard for their interests. They will not be fobbed off, they will be represented properly. Whatever you may or may not think of Andrew Dismore, nobody who knows Dismore and Coleman could possibly imagine that Dismore would ever treat people with the contempt that Coleman has shown the people who elected him and pay his wages.

Just to emphasise this point, let me tell you how I know this. As regular readers of this blog will know, I quit the Labour party in 2009 a becoming increasingly disenchanted with its policies. Before I quit, I sent Mr Dismore an email listing all of the reasons why I was disenchanted with Labour. As regular readers will know, I didn't pull my punches. Andrew Dismore responded by politely inviting me to his office to discuss my issues. I went and harangued him for half an hour. At no time was he rude or impolite. He couldn't persuade me to change my mind, but he certainly made a good case for what he'd done. As far as I'm concerned, the choice between Dismore and Coleman is a choice between a man of decency, hard work and concern for his constituents or a man of rudeness, arrogance and extreme laziness when it comes to looking after the interests of those constituents who most need it.


Mrs Angry said...

Absolutely agree: Dismore had a reputation - even amongst die hard Tories like my parents -as a conscientious and hard working MP. He did not waste his time posing in photo opportunity stunts with his dog or prancing around playing soldiers with the AFPS while London rioted: and even if he did not have a record of dedication to consituents frankly it is the duty of everyone to vote for him if only to rid us of the burden of Brian Coleman not only from the GLA but from the London Fire Authority.

button55 said...

As much as it kills me to say so,and i`m going totaly against my grain.I won`t be voting Coleman i can`t take him seriously,maybe i should of stood myself....

baarnett said...

10pm, Sunday:

I might have known it.

The 'Spooks' series climax revolved around an enemy in BARNET !

And reaching it depended on Brian Coleman's bloody roads!