Friday, 13 June 2014

Night Mayor in Barnet Town Hall

Oh dear, oh dear. Once more it appears that the Barnet Tories are determined to drag the role of mayor through the dirt. Once again they've put political expediency before the people of Barnet. It seems that Mr Hugh Rayner, who was recently selected by the Tories  as Mayor, has been a rather naughty boy. He is a professional property developer and landlord and he's been involved in some rather shady practices. These include getting "pre witnessed" leasehold agreements, charging above the market rate and turning up at tenants homes at 10pm at night. He's also admitted to using the childen of non English speakers to translate agreements. When asked, even Boris Johnson thought this was unacceptable.

This has been revealed by the Hendon Times. They have been running a poll asking people whether he should go.

Of course there is zero chance of this happening. In 2009 Brian Coleman was Mayor and he was found guilty of breaching the Councils own code of conduct. He was not even slapped on the wrists. The truth is that Rayner won't go and the reputation of the Council will once again be dragged through the mud. I discussed the issue with a local Tory Councillor. They told me that whilst many of Rayners colleagues were disgusted, the narrow majority in the chamber meant that they were lumbered with him. I suspect that the situation will come back to bite them on the bum, should this attitude prevail.


Mrs Angry said...

Of course the Tories will say that, and he will not want to go, although one might think that if he cares so much about the office of Mayor as he insisted at his inauguration, he would do so without further delay.

The choice may not be his, however: I suspect we have not seen the end of this story, and what has happened may well have serious repercussions.

Anonymous said...

Remember Residence of Barnet !!!! You Are Here To Serve Us , You Are Nothing But the Human Herd !! Here to use & Abuse at Our Will !! Know Your place !! Ask no Questions Expect No Answers !! Do As You Are Told When Told ! Barnet Council // & our Enforcment Team // Capita / RE

Don't Call Me Dave said...


On the basis of what has been reported (which might not be an accurate representation of the facts) it is not clear that any illegality has taken place. At best, you could argue that Hugh Rayner is guilty of sharp practice, that is to say he has behaved unethically rather than illegally. Of course, all councillors of all political colours should conduct their business affairs with the utmost probity, but there isn’t a cat in hell’s chance of Rayner being forced out unless he is convicted of an offence.

For the benefit of the lazy Barnet Times journalist (and those who hang on Andrew Dismore’s every word), there is no legal requirement for Landlords to join the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme so this point in the Times article is irrelevant.

An Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) of less than three year’s duration does not need to be witnessed so, whilst it was stupid (if true) for Cllr Hart to have witnessed a document in advance of it being signed, it is not clear that any offence has actually been committed by him.

As for multiple rent rises during the year, if the lease clearly allows the landlord to put the rent up multiple times, then no offence has been committed – even if most people would consider such a term to be unfair. My understanding is that the Landlord has to serve a s.13 notice (Housing Act 1988) if he wishes to increase the rent under an AST, if that rise is not stipulated in the agreement. If the lease terms did not specify the increase and Rayner did not serve the requisite notice, then these rent rises are unenforceable and the tenants may well be entitled to a refund. But from what has been reported, it appears that rent review clauses were included in the agreement.

Many people will conclude that Rayner has acted unfairly and dishonourably, but the prisons are not big enough to house every dishonourable politician - especially if you include those who claimed tens of thousands in second homes allowances when they only lived a few miles from Westminster.

If Rayner has broken the law, he will have to resign as Mayor and Conservative Central Office will remove the whip from him because Richard Cornelius will dither, as he always does. But the bottom line is this. Do not sign a lease (or any legal document) if you do not understand what it is that you are signing. It is no good bleating about it afterwards. If you don’t understand something, get a solicitor to explain it or go to Citizens Advice. Don’t try and save yourself a few quid on legal advice and then moan if the landlord did something he was allowed to do.

Anonymous said...

The Whole Housing Issue has Become Nothing short of a National Discrace ! Politicians make the Rules And Abuse there position !! & Quite a Few MPs & Councillors Have Made Fortunes !!! We Need to Have a Full & Open Disclosure covering the Last 5yrs in Regards to What Our councillors & Local MPs & any Family Members ( spouse partner or children ) involved in any family Buisness Receiving Housing Benifit Directly or indirectly !! Ask yourself a Question Why Are So Many Politicians in Property !!!!

Rog T said...


What upsets me is that it appears that some of the tenants were vulnerable (hence using children to interpret). Regardless of whether Rayner has broken the law, I really don't think it is the sort of thing people in public office should do.

Given the high political stakes in Barnet, I suspect we'll all simply have to lump it. Sadly, as I am sure you know, this isn't the only example of bad behaviour in Barnet Politics.

I suspect that amongst Labour activists there is a degree of satisfaction. I predicted that when the details of the Kath McGuirk situation were revealed, there would be a backlash (and for clarity I don't personally think McGuirk did anything untoward).

When parties start wars, there are casualties and I think Mr Rayners reputation is just the first of many as these skirmishes get progressively nastier

Don't Call Me Dave said...


I don’t disagree with you. People who hold elected office should conduct themselves in an appropriate manner – in both their private and public lives. All men are equal under the law although I personally believe that people involved in making laws and enforcing laws should be subject to a higher standard of behaviour than the rest of us.

In days gone by, Hugh Rayner would have resigned by now – even if his behaviour was lawful. Taking advantage of other people’s ignorance is not a business model most of us subscribe to. But we don’t live in days gone by. In the here and now, the Conservatives will do everything they can to prevent Rayner from resigning. It is nothing to do with the rights and wrongs of this matter (not that there appear to be any rights). It is the simple reality that the Conservatives know will lose control of the council if there is a by-election in Hale. Honour no longer comes into it.