Tonight was a minor milestone in the evloving history of the Barnet Council Conservative Council. It was the first cabinet meeting of the Post Brian Coleman, Post Brunswick Park byelection era. Oddly it seems as if Richard Cornelius actually seems to be the Leader now. He's the fourth Leader of the Barnet Eye era. The others were Freer, Hillan and Harper (although Harper wasn't really leader, he was just Hillans stand in).
Freer was the opposite of Richard Cornelius as Leader. He would fidget wildly when under pressure. His right leg would deliver a mind of its own. At cabinet meetings his eyes would scour the room room, seemingly trying to wither enemies with a hostile stare. He gave the impression of not being comfortable with power but enjoying the trappings immensely. I would often ask cabinet questions, Freer would attempt to be as dismissive and patronising as possible. I soon found his weakness when following up with the subsidiary question. Freer hated people laughing at him. This was his achillies heel. Out of respect to Lynne Hillan RIP, I'll keep my own counsel about her tenure. Andrew Harper was jovial enough, but not comfortable in the job. He became tetchy. He is far happier as a cabinet member. He has returned to his former reasonably likeable persona. Which brings us to Richard Cornelius, the current incumbant. He is always civil, polite and friendly to the public. No hostile stares, just a warm smile and a friendly greeting. He is the opposite of Freer, comfortable with power, but seemingly not really enjoying it. He is never patronising or dismissive. His tacticc for dealing with questions is to agree with the questioner. Freer would employ a mean device to get rid of public questioners. He would suddenly interject "No" as they spoke. He would then dismiss them and tell them he'd answered their supplimentary. Richard Cornelius would never do such a thing. Tonight he did his best to agree with all of the points in my public question. He also doesn't mind it when people laugh at him. In fact he joins in. People are given a fair crack of the whip and then go on their way.
It seems to me that he's twigged something Freer never really got. That is the fact that you can't control the general public. You are better to go along with them at these meetings, because that way you get less hassle in the long run. The entire meeting took a mere 43 minutes. at seventeen minutes to eight, Councillor Cornelius wrapped things up. 43 Minutes to take public questions, debate policy on helping young people back into education, discussing schools policy and discussing the regeneration of Church End in Finchley.
What did we learn? Well there were two interesting parts of answers. In response to my question, the Leader agreed that small business should be engaged when drawing up council policies which are aimed at the sector. He also agreed that the One Barnet program needed to be open to small business (although I'll believe that when I see it). He also told Mr Ron Cohen that the council would be crazy to ignore the APSE report.
The really important question to be answered is this. Now that the cabinet have agreed these points, what will they do about them? We await the answer.