Tuesday 26 December 2017

The Barnet Eye Review of 2017 - A year full of surprises

So 2017 is drawing to a close. As is the tradition, we do a bit of housekeeping at this time of year. I had a look at 2016 and this was disrupted by the passing of George Michael, but God willing, we'll do the full program of our end of year activities. We start with a review of the year, through the Barnet Eye. Looking back, what made the cut?

Perhaps for us Barnet bloggers, the big event was the passing of one of our own -
 An event which came as a big shock to all of us. Dan was the first person to write a blog about Barnet politics and found his niche videoing council meetings. He was in many ways a very difficult character, but I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't recognise the huge gap he's left in our local scene.

Perhaps the biggest global story and one we  covered was Trump becoming President of the USA
Re-reading the blog I was interested by my comments
The one stark commitment Mr Trump made is that he would "destroy ISIS". I was truly shocked when he made this commitment. Not because I don't think its a good idead, it would be marvelous to see ISIS and its horrible ideology wiped off the face of the earth. What shocked me was that he's promised something that I believe is beyond his gift to even start to deliver. When he said that, I thought that to make such a claim, he must have a plan and he must have spoken with military advisers. Now I am not a military man, but the only plan I can see that would destroy ISIS in Syria is to get Russia and Turkey to coordinate to destroy them. 
Trump has done just that. With Russian backing, the Syrians have virtually wiped out ISIS. Has it made the world a safer place? Allowing the Russians a free hand has certainly put a stop to the rise of ISIS. What I didn't predict is the paralysis of the Trump regime. He has done virtually nothing since then, apart from a massive tax cut for the rich. He spends too long tweeting, too long on the golf course and not enough time governing. In some ways that is a good thing, because when he's calling people names on Twitter, he's not actually doing anything practical.

Looking back, February was a pretty dull month for the Barnet Eye. There was little worth celebrating. The one story which caught our eye was the awful behaviour of the previous management of The Three Hammers Pub.
We also celebrated the 38th birthday of my business
Which was for me at least a truly momentous achievement. Another personal issue for me was a little scare on my cancer journey.
But that was just about it.

March seems so long ago now. Lots happened. Perhaps the story I am proudest of, perhaps for many the Barnet Eye story of the year.
We noticed building works on a train trip into London. We checked the Barnet Council website for details and found that DB rail were building a huge aggregates depot in Cricklewood without planning permission and that no one had noticed. We video'd the work and the story went viral. From having no objections, the council were deluged with them. DB withdrew the wholly inadequate application and have resubmitted and equally awful scheme, which has had over 800 objections. What disgusts me is the lack of effort to work with local people and consult. No wonder people don't trust the Council. It is clear that no attempt at all was made to alert locals to the scheme.

On a sadder note, Chuck Berry passed away. I doubt there is a rock and roll guitarist anywhere who has not tried to play Johnny B. Goode with varying levels of success. My band, The False Dots, did a truly dire cover of it when we were first starting out. Fortunately there is no video evidence, so we probably won't be charged with first degree murder!

I also wrote one of my blogs of the year (Personally awarded).
This one really should have gone viral. It is a collection of Wilde quotes that just sum Trump up so well!

How the world changes. Theresa May called a general election. I, like everyone else, was caught up with the hubris and assumed it would be a Tory Massacre.
In fact I made six predictions, five of which were completely wrong (so much for my career as the next Mystic Meg).
Big Tory majority.

Lib Dem gains in pro remain areas 50ish seats

Labour reduced to core areas

SNP to maintain stranglehold on Scotland.
Greens to poll well
The Borough of Barnet to stay blue
For a while at the count, it looked like six would turn out to be wrong as well. In hindsight, if Labour had gone for it in the three Barnet Constituencies, they would have won. In truth, the Tories and Labour ran awful campaigns in the three Barnet Constituencies. I spoke to a friend who is what I'd describe as a sensible Tory just before Christmas and we chewed the cud on the election. He gave me an insight that I'd totally missed. To paraphrase him "The Tory party and the Tory Press made a huge mistake. They tried to portray Jeremy Corbyn as an anti British nutter plotting mutiny from the shed on his allotment. Anyone with half a brain should know, there is nothing more British than cooking up bonkers schemes in your shed. There is nothing less worrying than a bloke growing turnips on his allotment." The truth is the pampered, wealthy schemers, who have never done a days graft and think leeks come from Waitrose just don't get Corbyn and all of their schemes to smear him are completely doomed to failure. But at the time it seemed as the future would be very different.

We asked a very important question
Here's a few of the reasons we were worried
1. It's legal
2. It's highly addictive.
3. It radically alters peoples behaviour.
4. It causes anti social behaviour.
5. It damages friendships and family life.
6. It places vulnerable people in the way of harm.

Whilst the rest of the country was building up to election fever, we were more interested in the North Finchley festival. A brand new music festival at six venues in Finchley, featuring over 50 artists and bands
Needless to say, with the massive array of local talent available, the festival was brilliant.

On a sadder note, my former neighbour (he used to live at the top of Millway before he got the royalty cheques for the Saint) passed away. He was my favourite James Bond

I rather liked this edition of the Wednesday Poem
It got an amazing response

And nationally...... The election campaign that we all thought was going to simply be a coronation suddenly saw the wind change. we documented what for many seemed to be the pivotal moment.

I could probably have picked more stuff from June than the rest of the year put together. It was the month when everything changed. In May, it looked like the electoral winds had changed direction, June was the month when the hurricane hit. But the biggest London story was remarkably not the election. It was...
Londoners my age have lived through all manner of tragedy, terrorist atrocity, corporate failure and expose of dodgy council practices. We have never seen anything like Grenfell. It is still going on and still in the news. Chillingly a friend posted that morning of Facebook "I have this feeling that something awful is going to happen today". I don't think any of us could have been prepared for just how right she was. I just hope some good emerges.

As we all know, the Tories election gamble went spectacularly wrong.
Is there any more I can add to that now? Probably not. We seem to be living in a state of political paralysis and the most atrocious spin from the Tory press, pretending May is a viable Prime Minister. She should have gone in June.

The Mill Hill Music Festival was as massive success.
We thoroughly enjoyed it and all the hard work paid off.

And if you didn't do it then, why not try our local knowledge quiz!

And now for something completely different. The most read blog in the History of The Barnet Eye
It seems that this much loved local landmark had a huge fanbase. We did a lot of work to help promote the relaunch as we desperately wanted to see it be a success. You'll be saddened to know we never got the promised free slap up dinner as a thank you. Never mind!

In Mill Hill, the big news was the rejection of the Hasmonean Scheme by the Mayor of London
This rumbles on.

The other big news in the wider Borough was the failure of Barnet Councils Childrens services, exposed in a terrible OFSTED report.

For me an important blog was this one bemoaning the failure of our local papers.


We celebrated nine years of the Barnet Blogs  (as we know them)

We found Barnet Council were trying to sneak through the sale of Darlands Lake nature reserve

And we published a lovely little short series for summer of trips around the Borough
A Trip around the Borough of Barnet Part 1 - Folly Brook
We had a major computer cock up from Capita, the Council's computer services supplier

We ventured up the road for the 90th Birthday of Elstree Studios for a fantastic evening!

And we asked the council to get serious on vandalism and anti Social behaviour
We had more evidence that Capita is failing everyone and that Outsourcing isn't working
This was a truly shocking story, showing just how badly Barnet Planning is now performing, since it was outsourced to Capita. Unpopular applications are being passed because Capita haven't processed them in time, giving a default approval.

We had a Barnet Hero rightly receiving national press acclaim!

And we had one of our most popular ever Saturday lists. The Top Ten lost entertainment venues

We also saw the breaking story of the dodgy new Thameslink trains which roast everyone on a daily basis with faulty aircon


Rather hilariously, we also saw Barnet Council discussing a bid to become the London Borough of Culture. It seems that the council see Brent Cross Shopping Centre as the ideal people to lead the bid????

We celebrated the polymath actress Hedy Lamarr

And we suggested that Reuben Thompstone was the worst committee chair in Barnet Council, which takes some doing!

And perhaps our fave Friday Joke of the year


For me, the highlight was a real labour of love. My blog outlining how I'd like to see the local railways develop and how they have progressed over the last six decades.

We had an awesome night  for the Barnet Eye Annual Awards, with some true local heroes recognised.
We had some fun and some great music!

I'm also chuffed with the response to the Barnet Eye Advent Calendar. I really can't pick one, so if you haven't had a look, check them all out.

Finally we had a series of Meet the Leader sessions in Barnet with Council Leader Richard Cornelius.

I rather hope that the final few days of 2017 are peaceful and pleasant for you. We've had a blast. Hope you have.

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