Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Day of reckoning for Oddjob Coleman
Today is a big day for Brian Coleman. Six months ago, Brian was riding high. He was the GLA rep for Barnet and Camden, he was the chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), being wined and dined by the good and the great. Today may well be the day when it all ends in tears. The downfall of Brian Coleman has been rapid. In May, he lost the GLA election, his majority in 2008 was over 20,000 in may this figure was reveresed, with Labours Andrew Dismore sweeping in. Even more galling for Coleman was the fact that Boris Johnson got over 50,000 of the vote in the Mayoral election, showing that it was a purely anti Coleman response. Coleman lost his £53,000 allowance.
Boris Johnson, realising that Coleman was electoral poison, sacked him as leader of LFEPA, removing another £27,000 from his income. The reason for Colemans demise was mainly down to his disasterous parking policies, which have not only bankrupted dozens of businesses, alienated tens of thousands of staunch Tory voters and linled the pockets of private contractors, but have also left a million pound black hole in the Barnet Council budget. Coleman was sacked as cabinet member for parking, but in a bizarre move, which undermined any vestige of authority, Council Leader Richard Cornelius made him chair of the Budget Overview and Scrutiny Committee, ensuring that he wasn't out of pocket in Barnet (He gets £15,000 for chairing a committee which meets a few times a year).
Whilst the electorate were showing Coleman what they thought of him, he went on the rampage against the residents of Barnet. Abusive emails were sent, resulting in Coleman being deemed in breach of the Barnet Council standards code (for the second time for the same offence). In most walks of life, this appalling lack of judgement would have spelled the end. In Barnet, he was merely asked to apologise, something he refused to do.
Even more worryingly, he got involved in an altercation with Helen Michael, leader of the parking protests which lead to his election loss in May. Mr Coleman was arrested and charged with assault and parking offences. Finally the leader of the council decided something must be done.
Tonight, the Conservative group on Barnet Council votes on whether to suspend Brian Coleman from the party. In a rather cynically timed move, Brian Coleman finally apologised to the recipients of the abusive emails yesterday. Coleman is desperately trying to hang on to what little power he has left. On the day of the GLA elections Coleman had an income from all his oddjobs of over £120,000. What is he earning now?
Some locals are saying they feel sorry for Brian, with his sudden demise. I don't. All he had to0 do to avoid this was be civil to the people he was supposed to represent, listen to the concern of residents and business owners and do his job. Sadly all of these things were beyond Oddjob.
For those of us who are James Bond fans, we remember that Oddjob was arch baddy Goldfinger's sidekick. In a delicious irony, Council Leader Richard Cornelius, who last week cast himself as arch baddie Dr Evil, has the same job as Goldfinger in the bond movies. We wonder if the Barnet version of Oddjob and Goldfinger will meet their demise tonight. Word on the street is that there is unrest in the Tory camp and that Councillor Dan Thomas is lining up a leadership bid. Those of us who have seen Mr Thomas in action, who has all the charisma of a Building society under manager (which is his job), will despair if he finds himself in the driving seat.
The Barnet Conservative group really should realise that what they need to do is not indulge in musical chairs, but dump the dangerous and divisive policies which are destroying the Borough. I await the outcome of tonights meeting with interest.