Sunday, 22 July 2012

Our Barnet - Barnet unites to reject an uncaring council

NSL traffic warden tickets car whilst parked on yellow line
What a day it was. It started for me at Cafe Buzz in Finchley. I had the role of organising the music side of the days entertainment. I had arranged to meet the bands and finalise arrangement at Cafe Buzz. I had barely rolled up when an NSL parking warden arrived, parked on a yellow line and proceeded to ticket a car (whilst still wearing his helmet which is a contravention of the rules). You can see Barnet blogger Mrs Angry watching with disbelief in the foreground. Amazing that the outsourced parking firm seem to think they are above the law, which applies to the rest of us.

The death of trust in Barnet Council

Outside Santander Bank on Finchley High Road, traders had set up a symbolic display to mourn the death of the High Street. A coffin adorned with posters explaining the effects of Barnet Council policies on local trade and adorned with the number plate "DEATH" greeted shoppers. The band HAMPTONS, serenaded the parade from this location as it passed. Rather bizarrely, someone asked me if the coffin was a PR stunt for the new Batman film as the bus rolled past?? Clearly there is more work to be done getting the message across.
The protest bus rolls up to victoria park

The bus was adorned with messages and slogans
Having watched the parade and the bus pass through North Finchley, myself and Charles Honderick, who was filming the parade for the follow up to"A Tale of Two Barnets" jumped in the car and made our way to the entrance of Victoria Park to await the arrival of the parade and the bus. The sight was magnificent. The one thing you cannot ignore is an open topped double decker bus, resplendent with balloons and posters. Especially when it is lead by a march of hundreds of people. Barnet Council may lead the way in stupid unpopular people, but they are losing the battle to win the populations trust.

The parade arriving
Hamptons entertain the crowd at Cafe Buzz afterwards

The bus was decorated with all manner of placards, posters and slogans. The entire back of the bus was covered with a Save Friern Barnet Library banner. This was a graphic demonstration that the protest was not simply about protecting the jobs of Union members, but rather a rally of the whole community against a sustained attack. A whole host of speakers addressed the crowd. We had Rabbi Newman, explaining that as a community we have to ensure the council supports the weaker members. We had Stan Davison, a Barnet pensioner, explaining how the council are making life impossible for local pensioners.

GLA rep Andrew Dismore explained how his election and the removal of Brian Coleman had allowed the London Fire Authority to reverse 
Colemans ban on the public addressing the authority and how he is working for the people of Barnet and Camden. Youth Parliament member Elliot Forlan explained how young people are bearing the brunt of the policies of the government.  I also spoke and explained how Barnet bloggers were cooperating with the Parliamentary committee to end the practice of highly paid executives working as consultants to dodge tax at Barnet Council. Afterwards one disabled old lady told me she thought this was disgusting at a time of cuts. Quite true !

After the rally finished, many of those in attendence made their way to Cafe Buzz in Finchley High Street, for music, food, drink and entertainment. Music from Hamptons, Radfax and Keith Martin and delicious food from the Cafe (with Councillor Andreas Ionnedies jumping in to assist with the cooking as crowds grew) was a suitable end to a tumultuous day.

After everyone had gone home, I was left in Cafe Buzz finishing my beer with Helen Michael, the owner. Helen told me she was off to dinner with Tirza Weisel, the BAPS organiser of the rally. As I looked at Helen mopping the floor of her cafe, a strange thought occurred.

It is only a year since Barnet bloggers found out that Councillor Brian Coleman was about to abolish pay and display parking in Barnet. I wrote a blog detailing Colemans sneaky plans to nobble the local High Streets. Just suppose I was Dr Who and I had a Tardis? If I went back exactly one year and had walked into Cafe Buzz and said "Helen Michael, how will you be voting in the GLA elections next year", she would have replied "Conservative of course, I've always voted Conservative".

If I had then said "Helen, exactly one year from now, you'll be a hero of the anti Conservative movement in Barnet, you will have appeared on national TV (ITV Tonight) denouncing the policies of the local Council, you will have been interviewed by the anti terrorists police for your activities against the local Conservative GLA representative, your business will have been nearly brought to it's knees by their policies, you will have featured in countless press and blog atricles, your will have had a coffin displayed outside your cafe, with a picture of the local Conservative Candidate on it and in One year's time you will be speaking from the top of a bus, adorned with slogans supporting Trades Unions, addressing a large crowd of members of the Labour Party, the Green Party, Trades Unions as well as hundreds of local residents, to tumultuous applause", I'm sure she would have kicked me out of the cafe and called me a lunatic. That is what the policies of Barnet Council have done to Helen and many other local traders. 

In fact the story is so completely bonkers, that I wouldn't believe it myself if I read it in a book or saw a film of it. Maybe Helen Michael should ring her cousin George (you know the one who likes a bit of a sing song and sometimes falls asleep in his car when he's tired) and see if he fancies backing the production of a film about it? I think it's a great story (unless you happen to be Helen who simply wants to run her business).

1 comment:

Mrs Angry said...

you're right, the whole thing is nuts - but fun too. Sometimes it is quite easy to forget there is a point to all this, and just go along with it all for the craic. There are worse ways of spending a Saturday than in such company!