Monday, 30 April 2012

Imagine (Barnet Style) - Apologies to John Lennon

Imagine there's no Coleman
It's easy if you try
No free dinners
Buying all our own pies
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no free Taxi's
It isn't hard to do
Nothing on expenses
And a free bus pass too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And Barnet will sack Coleman !

Imagine no rip off parking
I wonder if you can
No need for mobile payment
On a payment plan !
Imagine all the people sharing all the street

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And Barnet will Sack Coleman !

Friern Barnet Pop Up Library - 28/04/2012

On Saturday we had the third Friern Barnet Peoples Library. We also had a Pro Democracy Rally, allied with the Library. The rally was instigated by the total lack of respect for the people of Friern Barnet shown by Barnet Council. The Peoples Library has really caught the public imagination and the BBC One Prime time show, The One Show came down to film.  Being the instigator of the Peoples library I was interviewed. I explained that I believe that libraries are fundamental to the wellbeing of the nation. They are a universal resource open of for all and giving everyone an opportunity to improve themselves.

I was asked if I thought it was a shame that we had such terrible weather. I think my response rather surprised them. I said  I was elated. Hundreds of people turned up, in the pouring rain. That showed the level of commitment. It is easy to protest when it is nice and sunny. People who come in the pouring rain care. Nothing could make me more proud than the response of the people. It was a miserable day, but old and young showed up. Tea and cakes were shared, books were swapped and people proved they cared. Can the council ignore this?

I was was also asked why the campaign had refused the offer of an alternative location. Sadly the Council just don't get the concept of a local library. They seem only capable of thinking in "megascheme" terms. They don't understand that actually it is the local libraries which make the most difference. What Councillor Robert Rams, Richard Cornelius and  Brian Coleman seem to have completely missed is that libraries are community assets. When the Carnegie fund paid to set up Friern Library 80 years ago, they didn't give the money away, so that philistine councillors could flog the property off years later.

I believe that if Friern Library is sold, Barnet Council have a moral (and possibly legal) duty to pay the Carnegie fund back the money, with interest. The thought that a library has been shut to pay for 47 council officials to be paid over £100,000 a year in wages is truly sickening.

On Thursday, we have the chance to vote in the GLA elections. We can show Councillor Brian Coleman, exactly what we think of his party and their policy of Library closures and parking rip offs. The candidate who is most likely to stop this madness is Andrew Dismore. The people of Friern turned up in their hundreds to support the Library. Please make sure that you support them by voting on Thursday.

Barnet Eye Exclusive : Interview with A. M. Poppy Green Party Candidate for Barnet and Camden GLA

Interview with A.M. Poppy, Green Party candidate for Barnet and Camden. 

Editorial comment :

This video is the edited highlights of the interview with Poppy. A section was removed containing footage of a Barnet Council official delivering a letter to the proprietor of the Cafe Helen Michael. This was removed because we felt it would detract from the interview with Poppy who kindly agreed to give up her time to appear.

We will point this out. If you watch carefully, you will notice that there are far more people in the Cafe than the 2 people Councillor Barry Evangeli claimed in his letter to the Leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius. Helen Michael also wishes to categorically state that she does not keep a cat at the cafe as alleged by Councillor Evangeli.

The Barnet Eye was highly impressed with the views of Poppy and believe she would make a great councillor or GLA candidate. We do however urge all Green voters to cast their GLA vote for Andrew Dismore as we believe that it is vital that everyone who wants to see Brian Coleman replaced votes for the candidate most likely to unseat him. I would strongly urge every Green Party voter to make sure they vote come hell or high water. The best way to ensure Green representation is to vote green on the orange top up list. The Greens have a real chance of increasing their representation by this means. If you want to make real change in Barnet, vote Dismore for Camden and Barnet and Green in the Top up list.

Any other candidate wishing to be interviewed by the Barnet Eye is welcome to get in touch.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

#SackBrian for the sake of Brian Coleman

Just a few words about the Peoples library event yesterday at Friern Barnet. We had a visit from The One Show from the BBC. Even though the heavens opened and we all got soaked to the skin, we had hundreds of people come out for the event. I will post some pictures later. The guy from the One Show asked if I was disappointed that it was so wet. I replied that I was elated. The fact hundreds of people braved the weather, showed the strength of feeling and demonstrated that people care about their libraries.

After the event, I nipped down to Cafe Buzz, for a very tasty bowl of tomato soup with Helen Michael of the Barnet Traders campaign against the parking charges. Helen showed me the letter which Barnet issued her with. Sadly this makes a mockery of the email which the Leader of the Council, Richard  Cornelius sent me explaining that the letter was instigated by the Borough returning officer Nick Walkley.

Initially Barnet Council tried to hassle Helen under election law, however this letter was about flyposting. It is clear that they were trying to be clever and make sure that it wasn't seen to be a political action. Barnet is covered in flyposters. How many of these have been prosecuted. How many have received a visit from a man from the Council?

I have come to the conclusion that Barnet Council are rotten to the core. They cannot be trusted. They appear to think that power is a tool to silence opponents. I'd love to see Barnet free from flyposters, but it seems only Helen Michael gets chased and only because she upset Brian Coleman.

On Thursday we have the GLA elections. We can send a message that Barnet can't ignore, by sacking Brian Coleman. The only candidate who can beat him is Andrew Dismore. A Dismore victory would be good for everyone in Barnet, not least the honest decent Tory voters, who don't want a candidate who is rude, arrogant and uses the GLA expenses as his own person taxi service, leaving cabs outside events for hours clocking up hundreds of pounds in charges at our expense.

Strangely enough, I think the person who would benefit most from losing would be Brian Coleman. He is clearly out of touch with reality and a good kick up the backside from the electorate may make him a nicer person.  So my advice to you is #SackBrian for Brian Colemans sake !

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Pro-Democracy Rally @ The People's Library

Pro-Democracy Rally @ The People's Library
Saturday 28 April 11-1, Friern Barnet Green, outside the library
Followed by mass leafleting on Saturday and Sunday
6 items in today's newsletter.
  1. Harassment and intimidation of campaigners in Barnet
  2. Our letter to residents of Camden – Don't vote Coleman
  3. Barnet council Audit Committee meeting 26 April
  4. Pro-Democracy rally Saturday 28 April
  5. Mass Don't Vote Coleman leafleting Saturday 28 + Sunday 29 April
  6. CPZ Action posters for your windows
1. If we needed another proof for the culture of intimidation harboured by Barnet councillors or to their mad attempts to strangulate what remained of our local democracy and shut critics up, we got it just in time before the elections. Courtesy of the current administration, just to make sure we remember who NOT to vote for...
Helen Michael, owner of Cafe Buzz in North Finchley and a campaigner against the extortionate parking charges on behalf of Barnet traders, was served yesterday with a notice in relation with the traders' posters calling NOT to vote for Coleman. It is clear that this is yet another attempt to instil fear in residents who dare speaking up against damaging council policies. You can read about it in The Barnet Eye's blog from yesterday, or follow the developments and also in the Hendon & Finchely Times.
2. Just to make sure our fellow citizens in Camden also know who their GLA representative is, we submitted a letter to the two Camden local papers, the Camden New Journal and Ham & High. Not sure if it was printed, but here it is just in case – feel free to circulate to your acquaintances in Camden:
Barnet Calling: Don't Vote Coleman
Brian Coleman seeks re-election as a GLA member for Camden & Barnet. Camden residents may not know Brian Coleman as well as we, Barnet residents, do.
Here are some facts:
As a Cabinet member for transport and the environment Coleman is behind
  • 300% increase of parking charges in residential areas and high streets, causing isolation of house bound residents and killing local commerce.
  • payment system of cashless meters which discriminates against wheelchair users and increases risk of mobile phones and credit cards mugging from elderly and disabled people.
  • removal of traffic calming measures including near schools, exposing children and elderly pedestrians to risk
  • private hire of parks despite 97% public opposition in consultation
  • Jeopardising some community festivals while favouring the one he supports
  • one of the largest waste processing site in Europe, planned in Pinkham Way next to homes and schools, exposing all North London's residents to pollution and traffic chaos
  • a threat of raising allotment rents by 300%, forcing all Barnet allotment sites into Self-Management
He had:
  • Expressed in derogatory terms his a wish to not provide transport for vulnerable people (who he called 'these people') whilst expecting residents to foot the bill for his own huge taxi bills
  • told a constituent single mother facing eviction to "live in the real world" when she asked for his advice
  • routinely bullies and offends residents, holds democracy in contempt and disregards residents. Coleman was found guilty on several occasions of treating the public with disrespect and refused to apologise
  • he is facing an investigation into allegations of misusing his parking permit
If you find this man suitable to represent us, please vote for him. In Barnet, even Conservative supporters say they will not vote for him.
Tirza Waisel, on behalf of Barnet Alliance for Public Services; John Sullivan, on behalf of Campaign Against Destruction of Disabled Support Services; Vicky Churchill, Chairman, Finchley Carnival Ltd; Helen Michael, on behalf of the traders of the London borough of Barnet; David Attfield, on behalf of Barnet CPZ Action; Philip Fletcher; Fiona Brickwood, Chair, Friern Barnet Co-Action; Benjamin Alfred Samuel; Mike Gee (Greenacre Project); Rosie Canning (Greenacre Writers)

3. In our last newsletter we pointed out the outrageous findings regarding the council's performance, as highlighted by Mr Reasonable in his blog, before the Barnet Council Audit Committee ­meeting.
Well, the Audit Committee meeting took place last night, where we heard Mr Reasonable puts to the committee some excellent and very reasonable concerns, and saw Lord Palmer, the chair, almost exploding in his polite way in anger caused by a senior official, Craig Cooper, Commercial Director of LBB, who earns quite a bit of money. Lord Palmer hardly kept his civilised manner when the Mr Cooper admitted that he had not read the discussed report before someone else signed it on his behalf... This was his unsuccessful attempt to pass the buck, when some serious security problems with the access to Children Services' database were exposed in the audit report. Whoever actually signed the audit report, this serious matter remains Mr Cooper's buck and ultimately the council's responsibility.

You can read the beginning of Mrs Angry's report from last night's Audit Committee on Broken Barnet, and as Mrs Angry promises – there is more to come, so follow her blog.

4. Pro-Democracy Rally, Saturday 28 April 11-1, Friern Barnet Green, outside the library
Please join BAPS, Save Friern Barnet Library campaign, the newly formed Democracy For Barnet campaign and other campaigns and residents for a pro democracy rally on Saturday 28 April, followed by mass leafleting to prevent Brian Coleman, one of the architects of The One Barnet Programme of privatisation, being re-­elected as our GLA representative.
As you know, Barnet Council decided to close this community library on 4 April despite massive public opposition (lack of democracy), and of the ongoing Save Friern Barnet Library campaign of local residents with support of the trade unions and Barnet Alliance for Public Services, for the last 12 months.
When emerging from the library after the sit-in which delayed the closure of the library by a few hours, it was clear that there is a need to build on the strength of feelings in the community, and a ‘Protest Pop up Library' was organised.
The campaign to re­open the library continues and the protest People's
Library event at the last two weekends was a success.
Barnet residents value the services we receive from professional council staff
in this case professional librarians – and appreciate the unions for their
support. BAPS have always opposed the privatisation of any of our public
services and the recent fast erosion of our local democracy. The two are
closely linked, for the less scrutiny the public is allowed, the easier is for
councillors, executives and highly paid consultants to privatise, cut services
and funding to community organisations, and waste public money on
unaccountable contracts with private profiteers.
That is the background for the Pro Democracy Public Services Rally this Saturday 28 April. We hope that a united voice of residents and union members will send a strong and clear message to Barnet council.
Watch this short video to get the community vibe.
After the rally there is going to be a mass leafleting campaign across the borough for the GLA elections.
5. #SackBrian Weekend of Action – Vote Anyone BUT Coleman
Are you fed up with Brian Coleman?
Do you want to stop him being your London Assembly member?
Will you stand up for public services, for our local economy and for democracy?
Make a stand by joining us this weekend as we deliver 10,000 leaflets to
the community.
A recent poll shows Coleman to be behind Labour. His seat is the most at risk. This is why we need the biggest turnout for Saturday and Sunday’s day of action. Join us tomorrow and make sure we topple Coleman and his hateful regime.
ACTION – mass elections leaflets distribution:
When: Saturday 1­-4 pm (after the rally) Where: The British Legion (next to FB library) N11 3DS
Coordinators: Tirza (07957-486 379) & Keith Martin
Sunday – 11-4 Cafe Buzz, 783 High Road N12 8JY
Coordinators: David Braniff (07717-531 164), Julian Silverman, Joanna Fryer
Can’t make it but want to take leaflets to deliver down your street or through
your organisation? Then let us know by filling out this two minute survey: or call David on 07717531164 or
Wards to target if possible: Coppets, Mill Hill, Underhill, West Finchley, West Hendon, Woodhouse, Childs Hill, Hale, and High Barnet.
6. Barnet CPZ Action Group and the Barnet Traders have both produced brilliant posters with the same bottom line that we share: Vote Anyone But Coleman.
Email us if you want to get them by email to print and put in your window, or download from their websites.

Barnet Eye thought for the day

"Give a man a gun and he'll rob a bank. Give a man a bank and he'll rob everyone"

See you in Friern Barnet at the Pro Democracy Rally and Peoples Library at 11am.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Physically sickened by the attitude of our paid representatives

A week ago, I lost a dear friend. It put many things into perspective and I made a decision to step change the content and tone of the blogs I write. I decided to do more coverage of social issues which are not being written about. The reaction I got regarding the pieces about Paul's death was overwhelming. There is a need for more such blogs and I believe these help people. This week was the first week (barring holidays) for four years that I haven't trawled the council website for DPR reports. Out of respect to the people who read the blog, I didn't plan to completely ignore Barnet, just be more measured. I also planned to feature far more guest blogs if possible and do more video interviews.

Yesterday I went to Cafe Buzz in Finchley for the first of these. It was with Ms Poppy, the Green candidate. The interview is great, but to be quite honest, it has been completely overshadowed in my mind by an incident described in the two previous blogs.
Both of these blogs were composed last night. Today I awoke and wheras usually I am up by 7am, it's 11.22 and I've just got up. I feel totally sick and drained. The mere act of writing this blog is an effort almost beyond me. I have to visit my business, sort out my staff, then see a rep, then visit the bereaved girlfriend of my bereaved friend.

Last night I played football until 9.30pm, had two pints of Shandy at the Three Hammers and came home. I then read the second of Councillor Barry Evangeli's replies. After composing the update blog, I went to bed. I didn't sleep. I was fuming. This man is paid to represent the people of Barnet. He is a Conservative Councillor who is meant to stand up for the people against the executive. he is currently deputy Mayor. He is a regular customer of Cafe Buzz and Helen Michael introduced him to me as "my friend Barry".

I had made the simple assumption that as he witnessed the incident, he would instinctively know it was wrong. How wrong I was. He described my comments as "making a mountain out of a molehill" - this in response to a Council official serving a notice on his "friend" in the front of her customers.

I can only think to myself, if this is how he responds in response to an incident like this, what on earth is he doing being paid to represent the people. I've had no experience Councillor Evangeli before. He is clearly well  thought of being made deputy mayor after a short career in the Council chamber.

I had planned to put up the interview with Ms Poppy today. I apologise to her, for not doing this. Every time I view the footage, it makes me angry and I am actually feeling physically sick, especially when see Mr Evangeli in it. After four years of trying, Barnet Council have finally found a way of shutting me up. All they need is to ensure that Councillor Evangeli is present and I will be unable to control my gag reflex.

I am afraid that I will not be blogging agian today, need a break. I will be at the Friern Peoples Library tomorrow at 11am.  I hope to see you then

Update - Email from Barry Evangeli regarding Barnet Eye email to Richard Cornelius re harrassment of Barnet trader

Earlier this evening, I posted an open email I sent to the Leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius concerning the treatment of Barnet trader and opponent of Brian Coleman's parking charges. I did not mention this in the original post, but East Barnet Councillor Barry Evangeli happened to be in Cafe Buzz (not with me I hasten to add) when the incident took place. I copied Councillor Evangeli into the email, as I asssumed that he'd be keen to confirm what I said to Councillor Cornelius. I was rather shocked to see that Councillor Evangeli took a different view of the events. Please make up own mind as to what really happened and as to the mark of the man (Mr Evangeli).

I am really very angry about what happened for many reasons. As Councillor Evangeli stated, I do have the video footage. As the Council official mentioned was merely doing their job and was "the messenger" I believe it would be most unfair to drag them into the row, although it will be clear from, the interview footage I release, that there were more people in Cafe Buzz than myself, Poppy and the cat.

Councillor Evangeli is correct when he states that Helen Michael shared a cup of tea with the Council Official and behaved with a friendly demeanour towards them. This is because she has impeccable manners and recognised the fact that the council official was the messenger, having to do someone elses bidding.  The inescapable fact is that she was given the notice, at work, in full view of her customers. There is no way that this could be perceived as anything other than embarrassing and humiliating. Helen Michael did her best to make the best of a bad situation and succeeded.

There can be no other conclusion than one that this was an attempt to silence Helen Michael and stop her campaign against the parking charges. We can quite clearly add Councillor Barry Evangeli to the list of Barnet Tory Councillors who have no empathy whatsoever with the people they purport to serve. I'd suggest you read the email's bottom to top to follow the sequence.

From: Roger Tichborne
Sent: Friday, April 27, 2012 12:22 AM
Subject: Re: Open Letter - Harrassment of Barnet Traders

Dear Councillor Evangeli
I am disgusted by your attitude and your comment. You implied in your email that  was telling lies.
What did I say that was untrue?
Did a council official enter Helen Michael's shop without notification and serve a letter on her, in full view of her customers?
Would a normal human being find this embarrassing and humiliating?
Was this necessary, given that Councillor Richard Cornelius had spoken to Helen Michael by phone?
You tell me what fact I have misrepresented anywhere in my email? You tell me what crap I've written?
Just because Helen Michael, unlike you, is able to be charming and civil when faced with an embarrassing situation, does not make it any less of an embarrassing situation. It is completely clear to me what sort of a man you are from your behaviour and your comment and sadly that is not a credit to Barnet Council or the Conservative Party. My sole concern in writing this email was to draw the attention of the leader of the Council to what I felt was unacceptable behaviour by the people in the organisation he is the leader of. I copied you in, as I mistakenly thought you would also be of the opinion that the council had behaved in a rather overbearing and unappealing manner and I mistakenly believed that you were sensible enough to see why the council were treating a local taxpayer and business ratepayer in an appalling fashion.  
As to making mountains out of molehills, I happen to believe that intimidating political opponents in the runup to elections is a very serious business. The chain of events is quite clear. A council official walked into Helen Michael's shop, served a notice on her in front of her customers and staff, following her campaign against unreasonable parking charges levied by your administration. This was embarrassing and humiliating. I wrote to the Leader of the council  to express my disgust at this and you sent your leader an email which contained offensive comments in regard to me, and were stupid enough to copy me into it. 
If this issue is a "molehill" as you claim, why have the council engaged their legal team on the issue and despatched a council employee to personally deliver the letter? Just out of interest, did you suggest to Helen Michael that, as the issue is a "molehill" in your opinion, you would intervene to ensure that the council treated such an unimportant issue as a "molehill"? Did you enquire as to whether this visit was the first one Helen Michael had received in relation to her leaflet about the parking charges from figures in authority? Did you offer to help a valued local businesswoman resolve her issues with the council?
Please can you explain to me how you can possibly think that the council's behaviour today is a trivial matter? Is the letter Ms Michael received something with no potential impact on Ms Michael whatsoever? If it is, then why did the council waste their time sending it? If it isn't and has potential serious consequences for Ms Michael, how can you possibly dismiss it as a "Molehill".
I truly hope against hope, that the Leader of the Council will realise that this is a serious issue and one which portrays Barnet Council in a very poor light. 
Roger Tichborne     
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2012 8:43 PM
Subject: Re: Open Letter - Harrassment of Barnet Traders

Dear Mr Titchborne

Thank you for your email.

If you filmed the whole event, then you should have it all on record! Without making a mountain out of a molehill, let's please stick to the facts as to the chain of events!

Cllr Barry Evangeli
East Barnet Ward

From: Roger Tichborne
To: Evangeli, Cllr Barry Conservative; Cornelius, Cllr Richard Conservative
Cc: Walkley, Nick
Sent: Thu Apr 26 20:21:19 2012
Subject: Re: Open Letter - Harrassment of Barnet Traders

Dear Councillor Evangeli,
I copied you into the email as you were present as a matter of courtesy.  I assumed you would have a private have a word with Councillor Cornelius to confirm the incident, not call me a liar. As you well know, I spoke to you. I saw exactly what happened and have it on video.
Do you really think that it is anything other than humiliating to have someone walk into your shop and give you such a letter in front of your customers. Helen had a cup of tea with him, because she is a nice polite person. As you well know, I had to shoot off to see a rep. It had been my intention to discuss the matter with Helen, but as you were present I did not want to embarrass you or put you in a position where there was a conflict of interest for you.
I spoke to Helen after seeing the rep by telephone and she was upset by the matter.
I am truly disgusted by your response. You are aware I was filming at the time, aren't you. Maybe you are used to receiving summonses in front of your customers and find it in no way humiliating, but I can assure you that most people would be. I believe councillors should support local people. Sadly it seems that this is not your view.
Roger Tichborne
----- Original Message -----
To: Roger Tichborne ; Cornelius, Cllr Richard Conservative
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2012 7:49 PM
Subject: Re: Open Letter - Harrassment of Barnet Traders


Absolute b******* (crap)!

I was sitting having tea with Helen Michael at the time.

The gentleman from the council (who is on first name terms with Helen) sat down and joined us for a cuppa and gave her a letter. Present at the cafe were myself, one other table and the cat!

Cllr Barry Evangeli
East Barnet Ward

From: Roger Tichborne
To: Cornelius, Cllr Richard Conservative
Cc: Walkley, Nick; Evangeli, Cllr Barry Conservative
Sent: Thu Apr 26 19:10:19 2012
Subject: Open Letter - Harrassment of Barnet Traders

To : The Leader of Barnet Council
Dear Councillor Cornelius,
This afternoon I witnessed the most shocking thing I have ever seen in all of my time covering politics in Barnet. I had arranged to meet A.M. Poppy, the Green Party candidate at Cafe Buzz in Finchley to record a video interview for the Barnet Eye blog, as part of our news coverage of the GLA elections.
As I was conducting the interview, with the video camera running, in the middle of the Cafe, an officialf Barnet Council arrived, approached Helen Michael, the owner of Cafe Buzz, and served an official notice on Ms Michael, in relation to distribution of posters concerning the traders protest about Barnet Council parking charges. 
This was done in a most humiliating and embarrassing way, in front of a whole cafe full of people, whilst I was in the middle of an interview with the Green Party candidate. This is clearly an attempt by Barnet Council to intimidate Ms Michael in the run up to the GLA elections. Ms Michael was clearly upset and refused to discuss the incident with me, until she has spoken to a lawyer, although it was crystal clear what was happening.
It is 100% clear to me that this is a highly political action and the timing is not a coincidence, with the GLA election next Thursday. As Ms Michael told me last week that she had spoken privately to you concerning the matter, I cannot believe that you would seek to publicly humiliate her in this manner. You could easily have rang her and asked her to receive the notice in a less embarrassing manner.
The behaviour of the council you are running becomes more like a repressive Stalinist regime each week. I believe that you should hang your head in shame at such behaviour, as this is clearly a politcally motivated act. Thousands of posters are put up every week in Barnet looking for cats, advertising drug fuelled raves and money lending services in all manner of places. How many of these people receive a visit in such a manner?
I believe a full apology to Helen Michael is in order. Needless to say that if Barnet Council persist with this attempt to silence a vociferous critic, they will doubtless find themselves on the receiving end of yet more awful media coverage. The traders of Barnet are a huge asset, one which is clearly not valued by your administration. I am deeply upset at what I saw today, and I sincerely hope you will be too.
Roger Tichborne

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Exclusive : Open letter to the Leader of Barnet Council regarding political harrassment of local traders campaigner

From: Roger Tichborne
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2012 7:10 PM
Subject: Open Letter - Harrassment of Barnet Traders

To : The Leader of Barnet Council
Dear Councillor Cornelius,
This afternoon I witnessed the most shocking thing I have ever seen in all of my time covering politics in Barnet. I had arranged to meet A.M. Poppy, the Green Party candidate at Cafe Buzz in Finchley to record a video interview for the Barnet Eye blog, as part of our news coverage of the GLA elections.
As I was conducting the interview, with the video camera running, in the middle of the Cafe, an officialf Barnet Council arrived, approached Helen Michael, the owner of Cafe Buzz, and served an official notice on Ms Michael, in relation to distribution of posters concerning the traders protest about Barnet Council parking charges. 
This was done in a most humiliating and embarrassing way, in front of a whole cafe full of people, whilst I was in the middle of an interview with the Green Party candidate. This is clearly an attempt by Barnet Council to intimidate Ms Michael in the run up to the GLA elections. Ms Michael was clearly upset and refused to discuss the incident with me, until she has spoken to a lawyer, although it was crystal clear what was happening.
It is 100% clear to me that this is a highly political action and the timing is not a coincidence, with the GLA election next Thursday. As Ms Michael told me last week that she had spoken privately to you concerning the matter, I cannot believe that you would seek to publicly humiliate her in this manner. You could easily have rang her and asked her to receive the notice in a less embarrassing manner.
The behaviour of the council you are running becomes more like a repressive Stalinist regime each week. I believe that you should hang your head in shame at such behaviour, as this is clearly a politcally motivated act. Thousands of posters are put up every week in Barnet looking for cats, advertising drug fuelled raves and money lending services in all manner of places. How many of these people receive a visit in such a manner?
I believe a full apology to Helen Michael is in order. Needless to say that if Barnet Council persist with this attempt to silence a vociferous critic, they will doubtless find themselves on the receiving end of yet more awful media coverage. The traders of Barnet are a huge asset, one which is clearly not valued by your administration. I am deeply upset at what I saw today, and I sincerely hope you will be too.
Roger Tichborne

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The ITV London Mayoral debate - 24th April 2012

Did you watch the Mayoral debate last night on ITV. Due to personal commitments, until now, I've not seen anything. To be honest I've not been that interested. We all know Boris and what he stands for and we all know Ken and what he stands for. As to everyone else, why bother?

Last night, having watched Chelsea's thrilling victory over Barcelona (yup I was cheering for Chelsea for the fist time in a long time), I thought I'd see what our potential Mayors had to say. To be honest, I'm disgusted with what I saw. Firstly only four out of seven candidates were allowed to appear. Whilst two of them are right wing looneys, who decides who we can or cannot see? Where do we draw the line? Whilst I pretty much know what the BNP and UKIP stand for, I've  no idea what the Independent candidate stands for or who she is. Everyone seems to be saying an Independent cannot win, but the first London Mayor was an Independent. How quickly we have forgotten that Ken Livingstone was an Independent Mayor in his first (and most successful) term.

But that isn't what disgusted me. It was the performance of Boris and Ken. It is clear that neither have anything new to offer London. The constant back biting and bickering over dodgy statistics was ridiculous. Boris looked smug, Ken looked tetchy. If these two really are the choice, lord help us.

Brian Paddick (Lib Dems) and Jenny Jones (Green) had something positive and interesting to say. I am not a fan of the Lib Dem role in the coalition, but the more I see of Paddick, the more credible a candidate he seems. He exposed Boris for telling porkies about Police numbers. Boris claimed that there were 2,000 more police. Paddick pointed out that these are Specials and work 8 hours a week. They are also unpaid.

Jenny Jones gave a good account of herself as well. She is in the unenviable position of being both patronised and ignored for much of the contest. I think she deserves better.

Londoners seem to have a short memory. Boris claims he's doing well on crime. Less than a year ago, the streets of London were on fire and he wouldn't come home from his holiday. The coalitions cuts are devastating London, people are being driven out of London in their droves. This is fairly and squarely down to Tory policies. Boris talks of all these savings and tax cuts he needs to make. He's had four years, how come there is still so much fat in the system? If he said "look I've cut it to the bone, this guy will ruin it" that would be credible. Saying, "I've been mayor for four years and I've not made cuts that I have identified" cannot inspire confidence. We know what the Conservative policies do, the Conservatives have lead us into recession (just announced) and Boris is an uber Tory  - check this - Basically Boris is a politician for the politics of economic failure.

The truth is that London deserves better than these two. I doubt they will get it. I doubt I will watch another one of these tiresome shows.

Daily Express lambasts Barnet Council for fat cat pay !

The Daily Express has picked up on the story that 47 Barnet Council employees have been paid more than £100,000 a year. This at a time of economic austerity and savage cuts to social services.

Barnet it supposedly a Tory Council, but last year spent six of seven million quid on 47 troughers. Sadly whilst they dole out cash to their mates, librarys have been cut, parking charges hiked and services slashed. Barnet Council say they need the money from parking fees to pay for a shortfall in the coffers. This is exposed by the Express article as a lie. They need it to pay for rich bosses to live the life of luxury at your expense. This blog has spent four years exposing this sort of waste. We were one of the first to raise the salary of executive and expose it. That was four years ago. The Barnet Tories didn't listen. Now that the national media has picked up on it, hopefully it will stop.

Barnets newest Library and newest Music studio

Yesterday was a proud day for me. I opened a new studio complex in Mill Hill. This is the culmination of 33 years of hard work. It is a vicious irony that it opened three days after the death of one of the guys who helped me get it off the ground and supported me in musical career over the last 33 years. Still, wherever Paul is now, I'm sure he's tinged with pride. It may (or may not) surprise readers of the Barnet Eye that I am a successful businessman. I hope that it comes as no surprise that I believe that companies have a strong social responsibility to their staff, their community and especially the young people in our community who have less opportunity than the rest of us.

Stuart, Adam and Darren posing
Let me tell you a few things about my staff. I employ nine people, mostly part time. Two of my staff joined the company after long periods of unemployment due to severe industrial injuries. Both were unable to work in their former professions. Another member of my staff , who has worked for me for 12 years, originally started on "work experience" from the former Edgware School (now London Academy).  He was unhappy at school and at 14 was severely struggling. The school sent him to us as a last resort. He has become a massive asset. He is a talented musician and went to night school, gaining the qualifications he missed out on at school. He is now a qualified professional and works for us evenings and weekends. Another of my staff is a student at University, who works evenings and weekends, so that he doesn't have to rely on debts and loans.

I suspect that some employers would not have even bothered looking at these talented people.  They would have missed out on fantastic assets to their company. All of these guys along with the rest of the staff have, made a vital contribution to my business and on such a proud day I pay tribute to them.

We also support other businesses and people who are doing great things in the community. I am proud that the first session in the new complex was run by SoundSkool. This organisation provides music training for young people, free of charge. They are offering a ten week course in DJ'ing, MC'ing, Rapping, Music Technology, Singing and band skills. SoundSkool is the brainchild of inspirational Simon Gordon, who has spent years building his organisation. These courses have generously been funded by - who have sponsored the scheme. I must also pay tribute to the Mayor of Barnet, Councillor Lisa Rutter who has been a staunch supporter of Simon Gordon and Soundskool.

Sound Skool tutors meet the kids
Yesterday saw the first day of the new Soundskool term. The young people were inducted and met the tutors. Although my contribution to the scheme is merely to rent Simon a studio or two and give him a bit of a discount, I am so proud to be associated with the project.

The picture to the left shows Simon meeting the 30 or so young people who enrolled for the scheme. His team of tutors are pictured with him. I'm so pleased that these guys were the first people into the new studios.

The new shop
You can find out more about my studios at I don't use this blog to flog my business usually, but I'm sure you can understand how proud I am of what we've achieved. As well as music rehearsal and recording, we sell musical instruments. We will also be opening a video and multimedia suite at the complex in MAy, with Greenscreen and a hard infinity wall.  We have had masses of interest, following our wraparound on the press newspapers.

The extensive selection of books
And so on to the other grand opening in the London Borough of Barnet.

Yesterday also saw the opening of Barnets newest library at the Arts Depot at Tally Ho Corner, Finchley. It was quipped that this was the second of my two openings in a day in the Borough. Somone  suggested that this was the response of Barnet Council to the opening of the peoples Library at Friern Barnet, initiated by this blog.

The childrens reading area
I am always pleased to see the opening of a new library and this one is no exception. It has been criticised for "having less books than the peoples library". To me this misses the point. I like libraries of all shapes and sizes. I'd like to see a small library like this in every town centre, working with the larger 'landmark' libraries.  As this library was my illegitimate child, I had to be present at it's birth. Sadly, rather like many illegitimate babies in the Victorian Era, it's birth was greeted with a degree of embarrassment. There was no grand fanfare, no proud Robert Rams beaming saying what a fine achievement it was. I turned up expecting sandwiches and champagne at 2pm. Sadly, I was alone. No press, no crowds, just me a librarian borrowed from Church End library and a Barnet Council manager.

The noticeboard
To mark the event I asked if I could take a few pictures. "No, you have to arrange this in advance, anyway who are you and why do you want to take pictures" was the stern answer. I responded "I'm Roger Tichborne from the Barnet Eye. I thought you'd want to publicise the opening and I formally request that you let me take a few pictures in five minutes time, is that possible". Mrs Manager from Barnet was suddenly a bit more helpful (must be my twinkly blue eyes and naughty grin). She said "I'll see what can be done" Off she trotted. This allowed me to have my wicked way with the rather nice librarian (no not like that, you have a filthy mind).

Without the boss around (smart move that), I was able to have a friendly chat. She told me that the librarians from Church End library will be working a rota to cover the arts depot. It also transpired that the librarians at the Arts Depot don't have access to the Boroughs Library cataloging system. And where are the crowds? At this Mrs Manager returned. She suddenly realised her schoolboy error in leaving me alone with her librarian. She said 'you can take pictures of the library, but not any of the people here'. I said "There aren't any apart from you. Can I take your picture?" She said "No". I said "surely you should be proud to be opening a new library?" She retorted "no pictures"

The only signage for the opening
I then pointed out that there was no proper signage and there had been no proper signage. She retorted "We didn't have much time to plan the opening". I said "How long?" She replied "I can't say?". I said "Were you planning it before you shut Friern Library?". This is the money question. She knew it. "No, we were not allowed to". At this I smiled, yup, no DNA test needed, this Library is my baby. Conceived by this blog in a drunken throw of passion on the night of the closure of Friern Library. It's not Robert Rams baby, although he may like to think he's the Dad. I snuck in and had my wicked way with her Mum, Friern Library, whilst he was out with his mate Brian Coleman putting up parking charges.

Barnet Council may not want you to know about it, there were no signs up to announce the launch. They may not want to have an opening party. But this library, like her Mum down at Friern, are community assets. Me and her mum  (Mrs Friern Barnet library) love our baby. And the people of Friern Barnet love her mum, so the next job is to get that library reopened. Tally Ho Library is like a tiny little baby, it needs loving and nurturing, to find her place in society. Her mum is a fiesty, wicked woman who refuses to die.

And I give you this guarantee. I will fight to the end for all my girls !!!!!!!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The practical guide to watching someone die

"I just thought he'd close his eyes and peacefully fade away". These were the words my best friends girlfriend said on Sunday, explaining how the experience of watching her partner die had traumatised her. As I pondered the events of the terrible day, it struck me that nothing had prepared me for the experience. When my eldest daughter was born, in the runup, I attended NCT classes with my wife. The idea of this to ensure I was mentally prepared for any challenges facing us. Being prepared for the experience enabled us to have a mostly positive experience. I am not someone who found the birth experience  "wonderful", I attended out of a sense of duty. I was glad that I had bothered to get the practical advice before, so I understood the process. It occurred to me that I really wish I'd prepared myself in a similar manner for the experience of watching my friend die. We approach death from a different perspective. We all hope that if we pretend it isn't happening, it may go away. We feel that if we talk about the practicalities of the event beforehand, we may in some way be betraying the person we love.

Let me advise you of the lessons I have learned in the aftermath. This isn't comprehensive or definitive. You may well feel there are many things I've missed or many things I've got wrong. If that is the case, please leave a comment. Please not that to comment on this blog, you must be a registered user. If you want to advise me of something privately, you can email me using the link in the top right hand link. I am sure there are all manner of organisations who can help. As I've not had experience of any, I can't recommend them.

General advice for everyone in good health or bad

We are all going to die and none of us have a clue when this will be. Please consider doing the following if you have not yet done them.

1.Make a will. If you walk out the door today and get hit by a bus, if you have no will, you will leave a messy and difficult situation. You can buy a "make a will" pack from WH Smiths. If you have a simple estate this will do. If your estate is large enough to fall into the inheritence tax, get some professional advice as to how to deal with this.

2. Make a "living will". This is a document that advises the hospital and doctors and your relatives what your wishes are, should you become to ill/injured to make decisions. Typically the things you may wish to put are whether you would like doctors to not intervene to keep you alive, if you have no chance of recovery. Typically this is called a "DNR" (do not resuscitate) request. This means that if you are fatally injured, the doctors will make you comfortable but not aggresively intervene to keep you alive as long as possible. It avoids putting a terrible burden on your loved ones of deciding what to do in a difficult situation.

3. Make a file of all your financial affairs. Have a single point of reference for any financial arrangements you may have. Bank accounts, shares, Insurance policies, title deeds for homes.

4. Keep a list of anyone you'd want to notify. For example, if you belong to a golf club or yoga class, but your partner hates golf/yoga and doesn't know any of your friends there, make sure that they have a contact for someone there. There is nothing worse for people than finding out that they have missed the funeral and have no chance to pay their respects. It is also bad for a grieving person to be challenged with "why didn't you tell us".

5. Make sure your loved ones know who you may want to share the moment with when you die.

Advice for people who are expecting an imminent bereavement.

1. Engage a funeral director when it becomes clear someone is likely to pass away soon. This may sound grim, but it means that you will not have to deal with it when you are in a state of turmoil. If you are not personally able to cope, ask a friend to help. The funeral director will have to be engaged and they are sympathetic and helpful. Don't feel embarrassed to get "shop around" as funerals can be very expensive. The cost of the funeral can be reduced by having a service early in the day, for example a 9.30 ceremony is significantly cheaper than one later in the day. Discuss these options if cost is a problem.

2. If you are on benefits, you can claim for the costs of the funeral, up to £2,000. Check out this webpage - For many people, the cost of holding a funeral is their biggest worry. Knowing what help is available is a vital part of the process.

3. Make sure that friends and family are prepared and kept informed. If someone has a terminal illness, make sure that anyone who it would be appropriate to share the final moments with, is prepared. Ascertain whether they will be able to attend, if they get a call in work time. Keep them as informed as possible. Sometimes it is impossible for people to attend, due to work or other commitments. Make sure that you plan and let people know you may have to zoom off at short notice.

4. Give some thought to practicalities. When you get the call, you may be there for hours (days). If someone is in a hospital or hospice, you may have to sit with them for a very long time and not want to step out for food. Take something with you. Stop at a garage and get some sandwiches for later, or make some and put them in a freezer to take later. Just as a practicality, if you have medication which needs to be taken regularly, you may wish to take this with you as if you are at the hospital/hospice for hours on end, you may need it. When my friend died, we were called at around 10am and told it was imminent. My friend passed away at midnight, fourteen hours later. This is not unusual.

What will happen whilst I watch my friend die?

1. I've seen the process only once. I am sure that every experience is different. For me it was harrowing. My friend was 47 and did not want to die. He fought cancer until the end. Several times he stopped breathing only to rally himself, grab a few breaths and then settle down. This went on for hours. He didn't open his eyes whilst I was there. He was too sedated to say anything or give any message. He just looked awful and watching him fight to the end was horrible.

2. Be prepared to see distressing changes in the physical appearance of your loved one. As my friend struggled, his appearance changed. His colour became a sort of yellow green. His legs turned white. It was shocking and alarming. It hadn't occurred to me that these changes would take place. Be prepared for such changes. At one stage, I went for a cup of tea. When I came back, it looked as if a completely different person had taken their place. If you haven't seen someone for a few days, be prepared for them to look completely different and for it to be shocking, when you arrive.

3. Be prepared for other horrible things to happen. The most distressing was the awful smell given off by the body as it was shutting down. This is indescribable. The worst period was several hours before my friend died. Strangely this went when he passed away.

4. My friend passed away whilst people briefly left the room. The hospice nurses said this happens quite often. People sometimes don't like to pass on with people there. Be mindful of this. If you need to leave your loved one alone, tell them they will be on their own for a couple of minutes. If this is how they want to go, give them that opportunity.

5. Be prepared for people to say and do things which you'd rather not see or hear. People get into a highly emotionally charged state. They sometimes feel the need to say things which may be shocking during the process. This is actually a good thing and part of the process of reconciliation. None of us have the right to judge anyone for anything they've done. You may not like what you've heard, but if it is important for someone to share it, that means they needed to and need to move on. Don't judge.

6. When someone dies, the body is still warm for a while after. This may seem obvious, but my friends partner was shocked. She expected him to be cold. She had trouble with this as a part of her wanted to believe that this meant he was still somehow alive. The body becomes cold in the way a hot water bottle does, over the course of an hour or so.

The aftermath.

1. Don't be afraid to cry, to hug each other to hold hands or to show affection. This helps. Keeping a stiff upper lip will not help anyone. Talk. People are weak, numb and vulnerable. Support them

2.  Don't judge people by their actions after. Immediately after a death, people can do strange things. Drink too much, talk too much and all manner of other things which may be shocking. A partner may be devastated and be unable to see any point to life in the immediate aftermath. This is when they need companionship and company. The things they need most are sleep, company and food. They may feel they need drink (or stronger things) to an extent which worries you. Remember that if someone is an adult, even if they are bereft, it is their choice. Support them, but be honest. Don't say "no, you mustn't do that" but say "I'm having a cup of tea, why don't you?". If someone is hitting the bottle, this isn't necessarily the worst thing. Just make sure they are OK. Make sure they have a full fridge and lots of snacks. I made sure we got a full stack of provisions and snacks. I also bought a couple of bottles of wine for my friends partner. In hindsight, I should have bought one bottle and a  couple of bottles of mineral water. This isn't a criticism, but when people are upset, they tend to drink what is there. I would do the same in there shoes. I certainly would not buy anyone a couple of bottles of vodka now, but I didn't realise that before.

3. Give people time. Don't say "I can only stay for half an hour", stay until they don't need you any more. If you can't stay too long get a friend to take over. Work with your friends friends. If you are the partner, ask your friends/family to rally around and support and share time. Be practical, it is far better to have a few people come one at a time than five people turn up at the same time and then all go, leaving someone alone. Work together to do this.

4. People these days have messy lives. People have ex's who may have issues with the new partners. Try and work together to make sure that everyone gets the support they need. Sometimes people may want to attend a funeral who may cause an issue. Try and make sure that this is managed by friends as much as possible. All I can really advise is sensitivity.

5. Counselling is a good thing. If you have a trauma and you are not Superman or Superwoman, you WILL benefit from some help. This may be a chat with friends, but you cannot expect friends, most of whom have little or no experience of what you feel, to be able to help or understand. That is where a counsellor may help. It is there job. If your gas boiler breaks down, you call a professional, don't you? Don't feel ashamed to speak to someone who is a professional counsellor, if you've just suffered the worst day of your life. It is there job to help you. Take it and accept that we are lucky enough to live in a society where we are able to seek professional help and not feel embarrassed. 

I hope something I've written here is of use. I've avoided the religious and spiritual aspects of death as these are all personal. If you believe, speak to your priest, rabbi, Imam etc if you think it will help. It is there job to help, so don't be ashamed. Even if you are not practising, but have a belief, they will be happy to help.  Most of them are very good at it. I am not sure where Athiests, agnostics and other assorted non religious go, . Please feel free to advise by leaving a comment.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Guest Blog - A Tale of Two Barnets at the House of Commons by John Sullivan

John and Susan Sullivan
By John Sullivan,

I attended the showing of a " Tale of Two Barnet's " at the House of Commons on Wednesday 18th March, and would once again wish to thank Roger & Charles & John Burgess and the Barnet trades council for providing the funds the time and the expertise to make the film in the first place, and also John McDonnell MP for securing the venue for the showing of the film
 It was a well attended meeting of Barnet residents with a myriad of different bona fide complaints about the conduct of Barnet councillors, about the refusal to engage in meaningful consultation, and ignoring the results on the odd occasion they do. For example the opposition from residents to the closure of Friern Barnet library was in excess of 90%, but the closure still went ahead. I should point out tat those attending represented all political persuasions and none, they came from all across the borough from Totteridge to Burnt Oak they were not as Barnet council would like to portray them a left wing rabble.
The crowds gather at the Wilson room for the screening
 I was invited onto the panel at the top table to speak about the plight of many disabled people in Barnet , and the refusal of Barnet to engage in meaningful consultation on the problems for some that the privatisation of services is inflicting upon them along with their refusal to offer choice or alternatives. Plus the activities of CADDSS of which I am a founder and active member who attempt to seek justice for these disabled folk, in the face of ignorance and contempt for their plight , a Barnet council & LATC attitude driven by ideology & dogma rather than in the best interests of these disabled folk and those with a disability.

Roger and Charles with Russell Floyd from the Bill and Easdtenders
I had my say as did the other members of the panel and then the floor was opened for the audience to make a contribution, which would allow those on the panel to comment on their comments once they have been made which I did. Sadly I forgot to mention the songster who made a both positive and constructive contribution to the meeting finished of with a song, which lightened the mood.
What came across from this audience was the complete lack of democracy that exists in the decision making process at Barnet  council, the contempt for the views and opinions of all residents whether it be the plight of the disabled, the massive hike in parking charges, the destruction of businesses on the high streets that parking charges are causing, the closure of libraries, the open forums that deny residents the opportunity to ask any question they wish, where questions have to be vetted before the meeting to determine whether the council want to answer them or not,( how can that possibly be democratic) and the list goes on and sadly on.
Boxer and actor Joe Egan munches on his popcorn awaiting the showing
 Barnet was repeatedly referred to as a Banana Republic completely devoid of any democratic process, and councillor ( referred to as both bully boy & big mouth Coleman) who allegedly thinks it is right to spend fortunes on cab fares whilst at the same time denies the provision of transport to seriously disabled people  (in a condescending and derogatory manner ) that is vital to their quality of life, was shown to be about as popular as bird flu by all and sundry. One chap asked a question about how do we get the messages of the film and the lack of democracy across to the people of Barnet and although many attempts have been successfully made, all ideas are welcome so if you have any ideas let Roger know because to coin a phrase " We are all in this together "

For me the starting place is the reinstatement of democracy in Barnet and also for me the starting point for that, is the removal of the bully boy Coleman, first from the GLA and then from Barnet council. What became clear last night is that the bully boy mentality of Coleman now oozes from the pores of every decision being taken by Barnet councillors. Decent people who should know better are being bullied into making decisions they know are not right, the worst of it being that many of these decisions have led to failed attempts at privatisation of public services on a small basis that in the past 8 years have already cost Barnet taxpayer in excess of 50 million pounds. Barnet council have repeatedly and singularly failed to get a small level privatisation right to date, yet they are going ahead with the ill thought out " One Barnet " programme which is in effect the privatisation of all public services in Barnet, that involves not just the tens of millions they have already cost us but billions. Every Barnet taxpayer has become a guinea pig in the undemocratic process that is Barnet council, because they are pushing ahead with and untried and untested ideological dogma that could finish up costing us billions rather than millions.

In the process they have spent many thousands of pounds of Barnet taxpayers hard earned money on so called consultants, yet they have refused to meaningfully consult with the dedicated public service workers that have worked at the coalface in our public services for many years that have hands on knowledge not learned from a book but at first hand. They have refused to meaningfully consult with parents/ carers of people with a learning disability & the disabled in general even though these parents/carers have collectively hundreds of years of hands on coal face experience. If you were a responsible council why would you spend these vast sums of money consulting with consultants, when you could have meaningfully consulted with the coal face workers/carers & parents for nothing. 

The only possible answer is that ideology and dogma is the order of the day in Barnet, and meaningful democratic debate and consultation with residents has no place within that ideology and dogma.
As the chap said, how do you get this message across to the people of Barnet, I would suggest that the starting point should be to encourage them in any way you can including delivering anti Coleman Baps leaflets, irrespective of their political persuasion to vote for ABC, anyone but Coleman at the GLA elections on May 3rd. In the hope that unseating him or at least making a huge hole in his majority, will wake up Barnet councillors to the fact that they are running Barnet in such an undemocratic way that it is more than justifiable for us to refer to it as " The Banana Republic of Barnet " until the democratic process is reinstated. Furthermore to make them aware as the lady in the film implied " they are there to serve on our behalf, not to dictate to us ".
Guest Blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye

John Sullivan is a carer and campaigner  for disabled rights. He was reperesenting the disabled rights campaign group CADDSS at the screening.  

If you would like to support our campaign or discuss the difficulties with care please contact CADDSS by email