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

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