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The first was about the film Barnet The Billion Pound Gamble. I produced this film with acclaimed US director Charles Honderick. The film exposes the effects of the councils policies on the local community. Yesterday we had the Premiere of the film at the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley. Despite atrocious weather and major disruption on the Northern Line, over 200 people paid to come in.
|Over 200 People packed into the Phoenix Cinema|
I took this picture on my mobile phone as people were still arriving. We had to delay the start time by 30 minutes to allow latecomers to arrive. After the film there was a debate with three local bloggers, Mr Reasonable, Mr Mustard and Mrs Angry as well as Martin Russo from the Save Friern Barnet library campaign.
They fielded all manner of questions. It was encouraging to see that all walks of society joined in. The panel were asked about their political affiliations. Mr Mustard and Mr Reasonable have none. MArtin Russo said he usually voted Labour and Mrs Angry said she'd reecently joined Labour as she felt there was no alternative. As for myself, I don't belong to any party. I stood for the Lib Dems in the 2010 Council elections, but as I fundamentally disagree with the policies of the Coalition and was disgusted by the decision to break the pledge on tuition fees, I have left the party. I am banned from being a member of Labour, so I am an Independent. As for Charles Honderick, he's a supporter of the Democrats being from the USA.
Everyone who spoke to me after the film said they thought it was a good film and got the message across well. Some right wing commentators have dismissed the film as a "Left Wing Polemic". This is both unfair and untrue. I don't believe that outsourcing services is a "right wing" policy. Sadly many Labour Councils also do this. If what right wing commentators are saying is they believe in poor services, bad administration, library closures, anti business parking policies and the destruction of the High Street, then yes it is left wing, but I am sure these are not policies most Tories really want.
I made the film, not because I want to destroy Barnet Council. I made the film because I want the administration to see sense. ITV London Tonight came to the studios and interviewed myself and Charles Honderick. They then went to Cafe Buzz and interviewed Helen Michael about how the Car parking policies have damaged her business. Their last port of call was the Leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius. Richard told ITV that Barnet is "A successful London Borough with lower than average unemployment and better than usual services". It may shock you to hear that I agree with Richard. The problem is that One Barnet will export jobs, damaging the unemployment figures locally. We've already seen this with the outsourcing of parking to NSL, the first major One Barnet project. This exported 26 jobs to Croyden. As for the better than usual services, why is Mr Cornelius trying to fix something that ain't broken? The evidence is clear, One Barnet will destroy jobs and services and in five years time, whoever the leader of Barnet Council is, they will not be able to make the proud boast that Richard Cornelius made about the in house services.
Mr Cornelius also acknowledges that he hasn't seen the film. He states that it doesn't portray the real Barnet. Sadly it does. All of the people we interviewed are real Barnet residents with real problems. None of the people interviewed had to be coached or guided to make things up. They are just real life victims of poor policies. ITV interviewed Helen Michael at Cafe Buzz. She explained how the Councils parking policies lead to a 40% drop in trade.
Ironically, as they were interviewing Helen, Councillor Brian Coleman was being charged with assault, for an incident involving Helen outside her business in North Finchley in September. The story is on the ITV website here -
Back in 2009, I took Brian Coleman to the Standards Committee. I won a judgement against him, proving he breached the Barnet Council code of Conduct. At the time, I wrote that I had done it because I felt Brian Coleman needed to learn to respect other people. As his colleagues in the local Tory Party refused to take any action about it, in effect they encouraged him in an ever more self destructive mode of behaviour. In May 2012, the people of Barnet punished Mr Coleman. They sacked him as GLA representative in the elections. Whilst Boris got over 50% of votes in Barnet, Coleman was slung out on his ear. Coleman learned nothing. He sent more rude emails, losing another standards case. He then insulted women in the public gallery of Barnet Council chamber, calling them "Hags".
Sadly Barnet Council Tories took no action. Now he awaits a trial on the 5th November. Incredibly, his colleagues still refuse to suspend him. On Thursday, he will chair an important committee meeting for the Council. How can the local Conservatives fail to acknowledge how poor this makes them look?
In the 1980's, the Labour Party was nearly destroyed by "Looney Left" councils. In Barnet we have the "Rabid Right". Every day the news gets worse. The question everyone now asks about Brian Coleman is "What does he have on his colleagues that makes them so scared to take action?". I don't know. Only a fool would think his continued presence in the party is anything other than a millstone around their neck.
At a recent meeting with Barnet Council officials, I explained that Barnet will always find itself in the eye of a media storm whenever it screws up. The reason for this is that more TV producers, newspaper editors and reporters, film directors and producers and other media people live in Barnet than anywhere else in the Country. These stories are on their doorstep. Richard Cornelius says in his interview that "No one likes being Dr Evil". Sadly no one thinks Richard is Dr Evil. They just think he is a weak and ineffective leader who is not up to the job. He has a stark choice. He can man up and start behaving like a leader or the Barnet Tories will, sooner or later, sack him as an act of self preservation.
The bad news stories will not go away until someone on the benches of the Barnet Conservative Party sees sense. Let's just hope that whenever that is, it is not too late for the people of Barnet.