Yes, it is true that Councillor Rams wrote in his blog -
I have had some rubbish written about me over the last few years, mainly by one person who I don’t think I have said more than five words to in my life
But what he says is not true at all. Even more interesting is the fact that the whole council cabinet were witness to the fact that Mr Rams is telling porkies. You see, the reason I take an interest in the career of Councillor Rams is because I started the campaign to prevent Robert Rams closing the libraries of Barnet in 2010. I collected 7,000 signatures. I handed the signatures over to the council and asked a question of Mr Rams on the 29th March 2011 at the cabinet meeting on that day. Mr Rams gave me a lengthy, if sarcastic answer in which he congratulated me on my conversion to the One Barnet program (based on the fact I'd addressed him in a civil and courteous manner and had suggested that it was good that he'd abandoned the wilder aspects of the plans to shut local libraries). Tthe words he used to wrap up his reply consisted of exactly five words "we will consult with residents" (according to my notes). The exchange between myself and Mr Rams is documented in this Council document.
Here is the full exchange
RT - Question
Can the Cabinet confirm that all money raised from selling freehold properties of libraries being shut down will be ring fenced specifically for the purposes outlined in the Library Review and can the Cabinet
confirm that no library will be shut until such time as a replacement library as described in the review has been opened?
Robert Rams - Response to Question
As set out in the library strategy, we intend to use the capital raised from the release of existing library properties to re-invest to make the library service fit for purpose in the future. This capital
will be used as one-off expenditure on new building, accessibility improvements, and investment in IT. The investment is necessary to enable the council to make the longer-term efficiency savings that are set out in the proposed strategy. Cabinet will consider a detailed implementation plan for the final library strategy following a further period of consultation. It is at that point that Cabinet will take decisions on the scheduling of changes to buildings. The implementation plan will need to include a timetable for merging, vacating and rebuilding library buildings. That timetable will need to balance our desire to minimise disruption for customers against the critical need to reinvest in the service in order to make the necessary changes and improvements.
RT - Supplementary Question
Can Cabinet Member provide details of arrangements in place to consult with Barnet residents in relation to the implementation of the Library Strategy?
Robert Rams - Response to Supplementary Question
Further consultation will take place with residents over the next 10-weeks. In addition, presentations will be made to Residents Forums.
This is the cabinets own minutes and Appendix A contains my question and Mr Rams response in Appendix A. As you can see, Mr Rams said considerably more than five words to me (he was the cabinet member responding). The answer is actually a rather edited version (compared with my notes).
I wonder if the timetable was ever published as per Rams answer for the closure of Friern Barnet library, given that it was shut down at 24 hours notice? I also wonder if the presentations were ever made to residents forums. I can find no evidence of this occurring. I would be grateful if someone from the Save Friern Barnet library campaign could comment.
Perhaps the last sentence of the Response to question is revealing. It was recognised that the timetable for closure should be structured to minimise disruption for customers. It is interesting that Rams negaged on this commitment, by closing the library at 24 hours notice.
Rams signs off his blog attack on me with the words
"So, Roger, lets be clear, you insult, imply and make things up – and you think I have a trust issue!"
Rams is clearly telling the truth in a bit of this sentence. I do think he has a trust issue. As to whether I "insult", in the case of Robert Rams, I probably do - if I do, it is because he deserves it. The reason being that I do not like people who distort the truth. As to the suggestion that I "imply and make things up". I don't, because I don't need to. I have an audit trail of evidence and dozens of people who can support everything I've said about Mr Rams.
Let me add one thing. The reason Mr Rams made the statement about not saying five words to me, is to give the misleading impression that I have launched an irrational campaign against him, purely based on the fact that I have developed an unjustified dislike of him. What Mr Rams doesn't mention at all, is that before we ever spoke one word to each other, he was working at the GLA as Brian Coleman's press officer. As I had publicly criticised Coleman in my blog on the Hendon Times, Rams commenced a behind the scenes campaign, exerting pressure on the Hendon Times to sack me as a blogger, using his role as a GLA officer (a taxpayer funded role). Mr Rams campaign was successful and the Hendon Times dispensed with my services in October 2008. At the time he told everyone he could that he'd "finished my career as a blogger". As I have never met the man, I only knew of his name, because Phil Crowther mentioned it to me (Phil was then editor of the Times) in relation to numerous petty complaints. However this is not the reason for my strident criticism of Rams. I simply viewed him as a rather brown nosed lackey of Coleman out to make a name for himself. It was the fact that Rams launched a full frontal assault on the library service which attracted my ire. This was compounded by the fact that many people on the Save Friern Barnet Library campaign claim Mr Rams mislead them.
I revisited my files on the library campaign and it is quite interesting how Mr Rams position has continually shifted. Compare his answer to me in March last year with what actually happened with regards to Friern Barnet library. That really says it all in relation to the trustworthyness of Robert Rams.