Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Deputy Leader of Barnet Council posts racially charged tweet about Social Housing allocations

The day has arrived when I start to fear for my children's future. The day has come where I see the UK is starting to resemble Germany in 1932. We have a weak government and a truly unstable world scene. That is bad enough, but now we have the Deputy Leader of the Barnet Council tweeting statements that the Leader of the BNP would be proud of.


Had the likes of Councillor Dan Thomas been in power in the last century, both my Grandfather and my Father would have been denied council accomodation, depsite both being war heroes. My Grandfather was an Irishman, who fought for the British Army in the first world war. With his physical health destroyed by mustard gas and his mental health destroyed by PTSD, he was lucky enough to live in a time when Councils were enlightened. They built the Watling Estate and my Grandfather moved the family to a council home Milling Road in Burnt Oak in 1940, taking his six children out of a three bedroom flat in Lady Margaret Street in Kentish Town, where they had lived since the 1930's. My grandfather died at home in 1948. According to Councillor Thomas, my Grandfather, a member of the Irish cavalry, who saw most of his friends mown down by German machine guns, is someone who allegedly "decent people" would not see fit to house.

My father in Flying suit before an RAF mission
Then there is my Father. My father was an Australian. He was born and raised in Blackall, Queensland (a free pot noodle to the first person who can find it on a map). He was home schooled by his mother and a crackling radio. This did not hold him back. When war was declared in 1939, he volunteered to join the Australian Army. After a year, he was encouraged to apply for the Empire Flying Scheme.  He dreamed of flying Spitfires. His lack of formal education did not hold him back. He excelled and passed out with the highest grades of anyone in his intake and was commissioned as an officer. By the time he was qualified, the RAF did not need fighter pilots. Winston Churchill was desperate to bring the war to the Nazi's and my father was trained to fly Wellington Bombers. By 1942, they were old technology, being replaced by the heavier, more powerful Lancasters. Wellington crews were sent to marginal bases. In my fathers case, North Africa to support the 8th Army. They lived in tents and flew in awful conditions. They then moved to Foggia in Italy as part of "The Balkan Airforce", conducting bombing raids against oil fields in Romania, as well as military targets in Germany, Yugoslavia and Italy. My father was shot down and taken prisoner of war on his 40th mission (the end of his tour of duty), escaping Bucharest in August 1944. He returned to the UK and became a flying instructor and air accident investigation officer. He was decommissioned in 1946, but was a member of the air reserve and was called up for the Berlin airlift. My mother had twins in 1946 and then my sister Cath in 1948. Despite my father being an Australian (someone "decent people" wouldn't want to see housed), he was given a Council house in Wise Lane, Mill Hill. He then founded a business in Bunns Lane Works and our family have been running businesses and employing people locally ever since.

My eldest Brothers are technically Australian citizens, despite never having set foot in Australian. They were born when my Father was still a serving officer in Royal Australian Air Force. My Eldest brother Laurie, had his first son, Christopher (who is now a BAFTA award winning animator), whilst living in a Council House by the bus stop in Montrose Avenue. In the 1970's Councils still believed in providing social housing to help young people start families back then. Even for people like my brother Laurie, who was technically a Johnny foreigner, son of a Johnny Foreigner and Grandson of a whole bunch of Johnny Foreginers.

But Councillor Daniel Thomas thinks that "Decent People" do not think my Grandfather, my father or my brother would be deserving of Social Housing. I am a priveliged, spoilt brat. I am the only one of my parents children not born in a Council house. By 1960, my parents were well off enough to buy their own house. I was born in 1962.

Of course, it would be easy for me to say "It's not my problem. My immigrant family did very well out of the system and now we want to pull up the ladder behind us so future immigrants can live in poverty and we can pay a bit less tax, and buy a couple of extra latte's a week". If  I did that, I would hope that all of my dearly departed family members would come back and haunt me and I'd hope my brother would smack me in the face.

I have a question for Councillor Thomas. What right does he have to claim that "decent people" would resent hard working people from having a decent home, just because they are born somewhere else. What right does this person, not born in the Borough of Barnet, or even London or even England, but in Wales have to suggest that there is something "indecent" about my war hero Irish Grandfather or my war hero Australian Dad? I wonder whether he thinks that the large Gurkha population of Burnt Oak, who served the British Army so well are not people worthy of social housing? Then what about all of the foreign national nurses and NHS workers, who make sure that we are treated when we get ill? I have Prostate Cancer. I have had over £40,000 worth of treatment, and I can testify that the vast majority of staff I've seen at Barnet general and UCH are not British.  Do these hero's not deserve social housing? Does Councillor Thomas not realise that if such staff do not have access to social housing, there will be no staff to run the NHS. The same is true of schools and social care.

You may well think that I am a little bit emotional about this. I am. The idea that a man who has contributed nothing to society has the right to suggest that "decent people in some way look down on immigrants, be it war heroes like my Dad or heroes who work in the NHS, Schools etc on low pay is sickening.

In the 1930's and 1940, London welcomed many Jewish refugees fleeing the holocaust. Many of us think we did not welcome enough. Many were given social housing and at the time the bedfellows of Daniel Thomas screamed that they were taking homes from "decent British workers". Last weekend I believe that Daniel Thomas was at the Holocaust memorial service. Did he tell the holocaust survivors that "decent people" would have not wanted them housed.

Councillor Thomas tweet is worthy only of a BNP or a Mosleyite. It is sickening. I intend to do everything in my power to have this man thrown out of the Conservative Party and Barnet Council. I have endured many insults in my life for my views. I have very thick skin, but once you insult the memory of my father and my grandfather, you become an enemy. Councillor Thomas has publicly stated that "decent people" do not think my father worthy, despite his war service.

Councillor Thomas has 24 hours to reflect on his words and apologise to all hard working immigrants that he has demonised. If he is not man enough to do so, then I commit to organising a campaign to remove him and his sickening racism from office.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Why the Barnet Conservatives will win in the London Borough of Barnet despite their abject failure to deliver services

I started a review of social media and Tory/Labour websites yesterday. What I found was shocking.

I am going to say this now, then I am going to STF up completely about the subject until after the council elections in May. Basically, I don't think that Barnet Labour will win in the Loindon Borough of Barnet and even if they do, they don't deserve to. That is not to say I think the Barnet Tories deserve to. Their abject and complete failure has been catalogued on this blog and on the other blogs of Barnet and this week Mr Reasonable has produced a series of the most damning blogs imaginable, laying bare the complete failure of the Barnet Tories. If you haven't read the series of five blogs Mr Reasonable AKA John Dix has produced over the last nine days, then you really must - Click here  http://reasonablenewbarnet.blogspot.co.uk/ - John has produced five excellent blogs ripping apart the crazy situation where Barnet Council closes down services and gives up to a third of the savings to Capita, their contractor of choice. Your cash is being given to private contractors simply for suggesting that Barnet residents get a worse level of services.

If anyone knows the huge amount of work John Dix has to put in to produce these blogs, I should. He doesn't get any thanks for doing it. He isn't paid. God knows, if I ever run Barnet Council, I'd give him the Freedom of The Borough, recommend him for a knighthood and make him the "Money Saving Tsar". Not because he's a mate. Although I like John we only see each other at events where we are on official blogging business. Its because he has worked tirelessly to try and make the Tories of Barnet see sense. He has produced hundreds of well researched blogs, far better written than my dyslexic musings. Unlike my blogs, they are not tainted by opinion and personal axes to grind.They are simply the facts laid bare.

So why has all Johns hard work destroying the credibility of the Barnet Tories convinced me that the Conservatives will win in the Barnet Council elections? Because Barnet Labour are completely chaotic and useless. Why do I say this? Because John Dix should be a huge asset in the armoury of Barnet Labour. Sadly however, they can't even be bothered to tweet his scathing reports. John is not a Labour member and is highly respected, yet their official twitter feed makes no mention of his work. I can understand why they generally ignore my blogging and tweeting, even though much of it supports their case to take over. John's blogging is the biggest asset that Labour could imagine. They should be shouting it from the rafters. However the Labour party in Barnet seem to think tweeting their Burns night shebang is more likely to persuade voters than retweeting John's blogs that destroy the case for the Tories to run the Borough


The leader of the Barnet Labour Party is Barry Rawlings. He clearly can't be bothered with the hassle of retweeting John Dix's blogs either. The former leader was Alison Moore. She can't be bothered to retweet John either. The Barnet Labour party social media strategists simply see Twitter as something to put nice puctures of Labour supporters doing the sort of thing Labour supporters have done for decades. In short, they have their head buried in the sand and are wasting a fantastic opportunity to engage with thousands of Barnet voters.

It gives me no pleasure at all to say this, but the Barnet Tories are a far more professional outfit when it comes to social media. Their tweets get strong messages across. Admittedly, they don't really seem capable of writing their own tweets but they are completely on the ball at getting the messages over that Central office is spewing out. I suppose it is fair to say that the Council Leader, Richard Cornelius has only managed 2 tweets, the last being in 2016, but the organisation gets it.

I've spoken to many local Labour activist recently. I get on with most, as I was a member of the party until 2009 and I share many of their values. However, the wrong people are running the party. They need a clearout and they need to get people in who get the way you change people's minds in 2018. When I raise these issues, they spew out details of all of the doorknocking that is being done and the street stalls. They said the same in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014.  There are key areas which will matter for Labour. The key one is Hale Ward. This is a ward where they have a massive opportunity. They have one councillor and if they got the other two, they'd win the council. But their social media hardly mentions it. This is under the jurisdiction of The Hendon Labour Party.  Their Twitter account is truly bizarre, with tweets boasting that they are staying in bed because its a bit cold and damp out


This is totally bonkers. I can understand why they may cancel a canvassing session, but to say it on social media, where opponents can have a field day. Not a single tweet detailing why Hale voters should vote Labour. Not a single reason why anyone but an activist should even look at the Twitter account.

If you look at The Hendon Labour website, you will be greeted with a lovely picture, with Andrew Dismore in the middle, standing next to Alison Moore. Dismore is the candidate who lost in Hendon to Matthew Offord in 2010 and 2015 (he didn't stand in 2017 and Mike Katz slashed Tory Matthew Offord's majority). He is standing next to Alison Moore, who lost Council elections as Barnet Council Labour Leader in 2006, 2010 and 2014.  As for the news page of the Hendon Conservatives website, the latest news is from April 2017. Is this how modern campaigning is done?

The Council elections in May are just over three months away. Labour believes that Barnet is a serious target. They are marching teams of activists up and down the hills of the London Borough of Barnet. They remind me of The Grand Old Duke of York. You can have the biggest army in the world, if you have lousy leaders you will fail. I am sure there will be much gnashing and grinding of teeth in Labour circles when they read this. It gives me no pleasure to upset their hard working activists, but wake up and smell the coffee guys. And I am sure that there are lots of people in the local Tory party wetting themselves laughing as they read this. I'd caution them in two ways, firstly I'm not Mystic Meg and I've been wrong in predictions as often as I've been right. I'd also suggest that they consider the fact that now I've pointed out that the Labour campaign strategy is absolute crap, there is always a remote possibility that they will actually take note and sort out their social media and run it professionally.

And with that, I will STFU about the subject until May.


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Barnet Council - Officially Incapable of running its own childrens services

Image result for barnet council failure
Councillor Reuben Thompstone
A government inspector has published their report into the failure of Barnet Council to run its own childrens services department. As a result of this failure, Essex Council has had to be be brought in to sort the mess out. The full report is available to read here - https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/676435/Commisisoner_Report_into_Barnet_Children_s_Social_Care_Services.pdf

I have reproduced the key conclusions and recommendations in full, without comment. I have put key passages in Bold Italics. I simply note that the chair of the Childrens Education and Library Services committee, Councillor Reuben Thompstone, has neither resigned nor apologised for this complete failure.

I will be providing a full commentary on this when I have had the opportunity to fully analyse the report. The ruling Barnet Conservative group cannot possibly make any claims to being capable of running a competent administration. In May, the citizens of Barnet will have their opportunity to pass judgement on them at the ballot box.

Key extract from the report.
6. Conclusions and recommendations
6.1 The purpose of the review was to evaluate the corporate and governance capacity of the Council to make rapid and sustained improvements to their services for children in order to achieve the outcomes that children in Barnet deserve. That evaluation could then inform a recommendation to the Secretary of State as to whether there is sufficiently strong evidence to suggest that the long term sustainable improvement to children's social care can be achieved if operational service control stays with the London Borough of Barnet.
6.2 There is no doubt about the systemic failures that were found by Ofsted in Barnet. I have set out my view of the causes of the current failures and the action that I consider necessary to address those causes in order to secure sustained improvement for children, at pace.
6.3 Key to that improvement is strong leadership of the turn-around of services - leadership which can secure sustained improvement and focuses on:
6.3.1 developing and embedding a strongly child-focused culture, setting and securing consistent, high standards and expectations for practice across services;
6.3.2 prioritising actions which will make a real difference to children’s lives and outcomes, securing pace, momentum and clarity;
6.3.3 engaging and galvanising staff, corporate colleagues and partners;
6.3.4 developing strong, creative and cohesive teams, including at SMT level;
6.3.5 acting quickly and decisively to deal with any blockages to improvement for children.
6.4 The evidence I have set out in this report indicates that the Council has taken responsibility for its failures. They have accepted the findings of both Ofsted and my review and have demonstrated their commitment and determination to take the necessary action to bring about long-term improvement. They have made an encouraging start in many areas to address the issues, including through committing additional resource on a recurring basis. They have accepted my advice and recommendations throughout the review period, and those of the Director for Social Care and Education at Essex County, in his capacity as Chair of the Improvement Board. Critically, they have accepted their need for greater experience and expertise in the leadership of turning around failing services as described in paragraph 6.3. This has led to their agreement of the need for a strengthened arrangement between Barnet and Essex County Council to provide them with the capacity and capability they need for sustainable improvement of children’s services in Barnet, bringing extensive and consolidated experience of how to turn around failure and develop services rapidly.
6.5 In this Improvement Leadership Partner model, described earlier in the report, Barnet has agreed that the Executive Director, Social Care and Education in Essex, will report directly to Barnet’s Chief Executive on the pace of progress and on any additional requirements to secure the necessary sustainable improvement. He will  lead and direct the improvement programme in Barnet, working closely with the  29 children’s SMT and the Council overall to ensure that the improvement effort is
effective in securing impact for children; that it is resourced effectively; that the work of the Council overall is well focused; and that the capacity and capability of Barnet’s team is enhanced to enable them, in due course, to continue the programme to ensure long-term sustainable improvement, at pace.
6.6 This model has good potential to succeed in Barnet, not only because of the experience of the Essex team, but also because of the improved strength of the leadership and management within children services in the borough. Barnet has now secured a larger core of committed leaders and managers within children’s services who are child-focused and understand what high quality practice looks like.
While there is an urgent need to secure the stability of the senior management in the service, these colleagues are working more effectively with dedicated and hardworking social workers on the front line. The focus and direction envisaged in the new Improvement Leadership Partner model should provide the required ingredients for success for children and young people in the borough.
6.7 However, the model will only succeed if senior leaders and managers engage well with the direction and coaching from the Essex team. This will support the acceleration of their own learning and expertise in order that they can build rapidly on their collective strengths and develop further the skills necessary to provide the long-term surety of improvement that children in Barnet deserve and require.
Encouraging early signs show that this engagement is good, reflected in the outcome of Ofsted’s first monitoring visit to the borough. Inspectors found that, while practice remains inadequate, early signs of progress are clear.
6.8 Equally, the model will require good engagement with Essex from the Leader, members, partners, the new Chair of the BSCB, and colleagues from across the Council, including the Chief Executive and SCB. Again, there are clear signs of good engagement with the model across the piece, including from the refreshed and now robust Improvement Board.
6.9 While there can be confidence in the model described for Barnet, it is prudent to look at alternative approaches in line with the terms of reference for the review. I have therefore considered a range of alternative governance and delivery arrangements to ascertain whether they would be more likely to achieve rapid and
sustained improvement than leaving the services with the Council. There is no doubt that, in the right context, these models can provide a clear focus on children and young people where Councils cannot. I particularly considered the extent to which different models would:
• bring about improvement more quickly;
• secure more likelihood of sustained improvement;
• be more manageable to deliver within the Barnet context;
• build on, rather than disrupt, the very early signs of improvement in Barnet, including to provide confidence and stability for staff who have experienced a significantly long period of churn and instability; and,
• provide better value for money.
6.10 I considered whether a local authority delivery partnership with a successful local authority might be effective in relation to the criteria above. Such an authority could use its management team and key staff to run Barnet alongside or as part of its own services. However, given the appointment of a core of strong managers and the work already started with Essex, this model could duplicate or even undo much of what is already being achieved. The model agreed between Barnet and Essex achieves many of the strengths of this approach in any case, adding necessary expertise into the borough but with a focus on building Barnet’s own skills so that they can sustain improvement. As such, this local authority delivery partnership approach could reduce momentum and, critically, would be unlikely to work as quickly or as effectively than Barnet working with Essex to build the skills of its own permanent team.
6.11 In relation to other Trust or social enterprise company arrangements, the Council statutorily retains accountability for children’s services, even if they are not directly delivering those services. Given the work that the Council and partners are already doing with Essex, these models are likely to have a negative impact on the pace of improvement. In the time taken to get the Trust or company established, improvement should be well on track in Barnet. The establishment processes required are likely to take focus away from the improvement effort at a point where colleagues in Barnet are now working to deliver their Improvement Plan. These models would also be considerably more expensive to implement.
6.12 Members and senior officers in Barnet recognise the benefits that alternative delivery arrangements can bring, and Barnet has a history of introducing different approaches in a range of contexts. Their view, however, is that such arrangements are not appropriate or desirable for children’s service in their current context as they will prove a distraction and a detraction from the improvement work already in hand.
6.13 On balance, my view is that the evidence points to Barnet having made an encouraging start to making the improvements required to ensure children in the borough are safeguarded. While Barnet’s initial efforts did not have the desired impact, their work now, with the Essex team, is beginning to show the necessary signs of progress. On that basis, I have concluded that the best way forward for children in Barnet is for the Council to retain control of its services, operating with Essex as their Improvement Leadership Partner.
6.14 However, it is still early in the development and operation of this new model. It will be important for Essex and Barnet to keep progress under review to ensure their work together is having the intended impact. In his role as Chair of the Improvement Board, the Director for Social Care and Education at Essex County Council is well placed to report regularly to the DfE on progress and to raise an alert if he considers that pace of improvement is too slow or that engagement is not as required to ensure success. In addition, following full implementation of the model in six months, further external Commissioner advice should be sought on whether the model has been successfully implemented or if alternative arrangements have become necessary.
6.15 Currently, the model has been agreed between Barnet and Essex to run until September 2018, at which point Ofsted will have completed four monitoring visits.
They have agreed that the model should be reviewed before the end of the period with a view to extension if appropriate. This will be a key point to ensure that Barnet has the necessary capacity and capability to sustain any improvement and Commissioner advice may also be necessary at that point.
6.16 Any statutory direction to the Council should make clear the requirement on the London Borough of Barnet to engage fully with the Improvement Leadership Partner model and with the Chair of the Improvement Board in relation to his role in reporting progress to the DfE.
Recommendations
6.17 On the basis of the evidence set out in this report, I recommend that:
6.17.1 the London Borough of Barnet should retain its children's social care services on the basis that they:
• deliver on the intentions and actions set out in this report and in their Improvement Plan;
• work with Essex within the Improvement Leadership Partner model as set out in this report;
6.17.2 The Director for Social Care and Education at Essex County Council, in his capacity as the Chair of the London Borough of Barnet’s Improvement Board, should report progress on a regular basis to the DfE;6.17.3 Further external Commissioner advice should be sought on whether alternative arrangements are necessary after the model has been in operation for at least six months.


...... To be continued

Further reading -

Details of original Ofsted report in Ham & High
http://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/politics/barnet-s-childrens-services-rated-inadequate-by-ofsted-1-5097599

John Dix on the OFSTED failure and other Barnet Council failings


Six Blogs and a Damning Report - Why we need a change at Barnet Council


OFSTED Report into Barnet Council childrens services

https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/local_authority_reports/barnet/051_Single%20inspection%20of%20LA%20children%27s%20services%20as%20pdf.pdf

Monday, 29 January 2018

When will Mill Hill and other areas in the Borough receive proper High Speed Broadband?

Image result for High Speed Broadband
There is absolutely nothing more irritating than lazy politicians making stupid boasts that are completely at odds with the reality of many of our lives.

This morning the Barnet Tories rather idiotically retweeted a tweet from Tory central office making a claim that is extremely annoying for those of us trying to run businesses in Mill Hill and many other areas in Barnet.


Amongst the businesses I run, is one letting small offices in Bunns Lane for start-up businesses. At least that is the idea of what we do. We are having a huge amount of difficulty letting the spaces as we do not have high speed broadband. Now if we were in the outer Hebrides, I could understand that there are issues getting decent broadband connections, but we are in London, if anywhere in the country should have High Speed Broadband it is London.

It is not just in Bunns Lane. The Sacred Heart Church recently wrote a letter in support of better internet provision.

The Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Mill Hill Broadway has recently installed a Camera and Live Streaming system to relay church services and events into the homes of the sick, elderly and housebound members of the Parish.
 We believe that this development will not only provide for the spiritual needs of our Parishioners who are not able to come to church but will also help to combat their loneliness and isolation.
 Unfortunately, we are prevented from commissioning this live stream because of the inadequate speed of our broadband connection. We have made requests to BT, our current broadband provider, BTOpenreach and Virgin Media. All however report that there are no immediate plans to establish a fibre link to our property at 2 Flower Lane. My research also suggests that the whole of Flower Lane (apart from the new Hartley Hall and Titan Court) are similarly disadvantaged!
 Can I please urge you to investigate this matter and take steps to resolve it as soon as possible?


Other areas of the Borough report similar problems. What is even more irritating about this tweet is that local Conservative Councillors are quite well aware of this issue. Councillor Val Duschinsky was at the same Mill Hill Neighbourhood forum meeting as myself last Monday where this issue was hotly discussed. I have no doubt at all that Val would be equally irritated by this tweet from her Tory colleagues and I hope she makes a point of taking them to task for issuing such a ridiculous tweet.

I must however say that we need a council that is run by councillors who, rather than spending their lives posting irritating tweets, actually sit down with the big companies that provide vital services and make sure we get a first class service.

Are you still waiting for High Speed Broadband in the London Borough of Barnet. Please email us and give us your property address, inc postcode. We are compiling a list to help support our case to resolve this ridiculous situation.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

The Tweets of The Week in the London Borough of Barnet 28/1/2018

What have the Twits of Barnet been up to this week?

Le's have a little peek at the best!


1. Are you a Jazz lover? if you are, here's a date for your diary!


2. Our local pub guardian angel is rather concerned about The Bald Faced Stag in Burnt Oak. Sadly it is becoming a block of flats


3. The local police have been out and about targetting drug dealers


4. A million quid was spent on North Finchley in 2013. Was it a complete waste of money?


5. Want to find out about Brent Cross "regeneration"? Pop in session on 31st January


6. Not everyone sees the "regeneration" as a good thing!

7. And this is what it looked like in 1935. Our historical tweet of the week


8. North London Aquatics have a marvellous new patron!


9. Just love to see this. Barnet Young people doing us proud!


10. A rather cool rock video was made in Mill Hill this week!


That's all folks!

Saturday, 27 January 2018

The Saturday List #162 - Ten Reasons why I want to represent Mill Hill in the Council Chamber

Roger Tichborne - My personal agenda
In May, you may not realise it, but if you live in the London Borough of Barnet, you will have the opportunity to elect three people to represent you in the Council chamber. This is a huge privilege for the people elected and offers a great opportunity to put something back into our community. I've lived in Mill Hill since 1962 (I spent my first three months in Edgware General, but moved to Mill Hill in Late October 1962). I went to St Vincents Primary School, did a paper round in Bunns Lane, Flower Lane, Highwood Hill and Marsh Lane. I started a business in 1979, which now employs local people and is a world class organisation. My parents are buried locally in Hendon Cemetery (which is now run by Capita on behalf of the council and looks ever more run down). I have a deep commitment to Mill Hill. I believe we need local councillors who care.

Many people say that they never hear from politicians until six months before the election and then they can't escape them. Last year you saw nothing on social media from them, this year it is full of pictures of grinning teams of leaflet droppers and canvassers. The three people pictured on your left are your current councillers. Have you seen them (apart from just before election time?). Whatever you may think of me, you will see that this blog works for you 365 days a year. We have been to council meetings, raised issues and done the best we can to ensure that Barnet Council Tax payers and businesses are heard. Over the life of this blog, we've exposed all manner of scandals and probably saved the taxpayer over a million pounds, in exposing bad practice such as the Metpro scandal. This resulted in an audit committee enquiry that exposed chaos in council procurement and over payment of suppliers.

Have the current councillors done a good job? That is for you to decide.  When I see the neglect at Hendon Cemetery, whilst laying flowers for my parents, I am personally enraged by the neglect, of what was once a beautiful and serene place to pay respects. Make no mistake, such things are things our councillors should be shouting from the rafters to ensure are well kept. I believe that the job of a councillor for Mill Hill is to make sure Mill Hill gets the very best council services, has the cleanest streets, that old ladies get their meals on wheels, that young people who are at risk are dealt with compassionately and professionally by social services, that Council housing is provided to those in need of accomodation, to ensure the council and police use CCTV to ensure that Mill Hill Broadway is a safe and secure place, that your rubbish and discarded Christmas trees are collected in a timely and efficient manner. I could go on, but I suspect that you get the idea.

My top priority will be to get a more visible police presence on the streets of Mill Hill and to get the police and local community working together to lower vandalism, anti social behaviour and crime. I believe that the Metropoiltan Police are a marvellous organisation, but they are being forced to fight crime with one hand tied behind their back by  lack of funding from the Conservative government. We have to address this both locally and nationally. Electing people on a clear mandate to give the police the resources to do their job properly will make a compelling argument, when our lazy MP's awake from their slumbers or leave their barstools to campaign for the next election.


1. I've already saved you money as a taxpayer.  There are many examples of this, the most demonstrable is the Metpro scandal, exposed by myself and fellow bloggers. As a result of the pressure we raised, the Council was forced to conduct an audit enquiry into procurement. This resulted in a whole host of findings that resulted in huge savings to the taxpayer. Our efforts were commended by the Conservative governments Local Authority secretary Eric Pickles, who mentioned the "armchair auditor bloggers of  Barnet" as a shining example of how communities can make a difference.

2. I am extremely hard working. I will see it as an honour and a privilege to serve the people of Mill Hill. I will work tirelessly for them. I have a track record to prove it. If you count the words written on this blog since 2008, there are over four million of them. I don't think anyone else in the Borough can claim to have put so much love and effort into trying to improve our area over the last ten years for free. I'm not saying that this makes me more deserving, but it does at least show I'll work for my dosh.

3. I enjoy meeting people. Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy meeting people.  Well how many times have you set eyes on any of your local politicians? How can they know what needs doing if they lock themselves away?

4. I am Mill Hill through and through. My family moved to Mill Hill in 1948 after my Dad left the air force. He was a bomber command pilot and former POW. He started a business in Bunns Lane and employed a whole stack of local people. I was born at Edgware General Hospital and went to local Comprehensive schools. I started my business, Mill Hill Music Complex in 1979 and I now employ twelve local people. I play football every Thursday at Power League and I drink in local pubs and eat in local restaurants, all of whom know me by name. My children all attended local schools and I am a member of the Sacred Heart Church Parish Council.  I think that a deep commitment to our area is vital.

5.  I am one of the organisers of The Mill Hill Music festival. For the last 20 years, we have held the Mill Hill Music Festival. I've been a member of the organising committee since 2004, having previously been a helper. The festival has gone from strength to strength and is now recognised as one of Londons leading independent festivals. I am proud of this achievement and hope that the people of Mill Hill appreciate these efforts. The festival is run on a not for profit basis and the organisers are not paid.

6. I run a successful business. Mill Hill is now recognised as a centre of musical excellence. Musicians travel from around the world to use the facilities at Mill Hill Music Complex. I have built the business from scratch, without grants or assistance from anyone apart from my staff and business partners. I am proud of this achievement. I think it demonstrates that I can get stuff done.

7. I run a successful campaign to protect Londons music venues. In 2015, I started the Save London Music Campaign. Our incessant lobbying has persuaded the Government to enact Agent of Change legislation, to protect venues. Last year was the first year in a decade that the number of live venues in London did not decline. I have been supported by Robert Elms at BBC Radio London in this work. If I am elected, I will be the (presumably) unofficial minister for music in Barnet. I will work tirelessly to improve the cultural offering of the Borough of Barnet.

8. I will fight passionately for the rights of homeless and disabled people in Barnet. I volunteer for several charities working with homeless and disabled people. I will put their rights at the heart of every decision I can influence. I will work to get Barnet Council to commit to end homelessness in the Borough. I will also work to ensure that disabled people are treated with dignity and respect. As  a person with learning difficulties (I'm dyslexic) I know all too well what it is like to be discriminated against and bullied. I don't believe that anyone should have to put up with this.

9. I will fight to defend the local NHS services. As a cancer sufferer, I know all too well the value of the NHS. I have received first class treatment, which would have cost me over £40,000 so far. As far as I am concerned, there really is no alternative which is fair or equitable. The NHS deserves proper funding.

10 . I am part of an excellent team. If selected, I will be standing for the Liberal Democrats in Mill Hill along side Donna Pickup and Richard Logue. Both are probably far more competent in many areas than me. I believe that we are all very strong candidates, who together make up a very strong and complementary team.  I am aware that some people may have issues with the party, especially over issues around the coalition. I had some of my own, but I honestly believe that in Mill Hill we offer the best possible choice. No political party is perfect and all have made horrendous mistakes over the years. I believe that The Liberal Democrats have learned from these mistakes. I believe that the post coalition period has shown just how much damage the party prevented the Conservatives from making and how much better the decisions were when the cabinet was not simply a rubber stamping exercise. Whether the next government is a Tory one under Theresa or Boris or a Labour one under Jeremy, I believe that a coalition will mean better decisions and a stronger Britain. But this election is not for the leadership of the country. It is to decide who best represents Mill Hill residents in the council chamber. I suggest that when candidates come knocking you ask them three questions.

1) What achievements they have on their CV for making Mill Hill a better place?
2) What proof they can offer that they will put the interests of Mill Hill first?
3) What their top priority will be when elected to improve the locality?



If you think I'm not the best person to choose, that is fine. I respect democracy. If  however you like what I've said, please join us and help us win in Mill Hill. Get in tcuch and help us make a difference.


Friday, 26 January 2018

The Friday Joke - Officially Irelands best joke!


Image result for Church jokes

John O´Reilly hoisted his beer and said, “Here´s to spending the rest of me Life ….. between the legs of me wife“

That won him the top prize at his local pub for the best toast of the night !

He went home, quite pleased with himself,  and told his wife, Mary, “I won the prize fort he Best Toast of the Night !!“

She said “Aye, did ye now. And what was your toast then ?“

John said “Here´s to spending the rest of me Life, sitting in church beside me wife“

“Oh, that is very nice indeed, John !“ Mary said

The next day, Mary run into one of John´s drinking buddies on the street corner. The man chuckled leeringly and said “John won the prize the other night at the Pub with a toast about you, Mary“

She said, „“Aye, he told me, and I was quite a bit surprised myself !

You know, he´s only been in there twice in the last four years ! Once I had to pull him by his ears to make him come, and the other time he fell asleep !“

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Mark E. Smith RIP

I awoke this morning to the sad news that Mark E. Smith, lead singer of The Fall has passed away. The Fall are one of the biggest influences on my musical career and I've seen the band in many incarnations, from the earliest days in the late 1970's at The Marquee club. Smith operated a revolving door policy with co-musicians and the band saw over 60 members come and go. The first two albums, Live at The Witch Trials and Dragnet are among the finest examples of their work. The Fall summed up everything that was good about the punk era. The songs were dark and humourous. Numbers like "No Xmas for John Quays" show Smith at his acerbic best.

Going to see The Fall was never dull sometimes the band were absolutely brilliant, sometimes they were complete rubbish, sometimes both in the a single song. Sometimes there were fights on stage, sometimes love was in the air such as when Smith married Brix and she joined the band.

In their early years, the band were resolutely anti commercial. When Brix joined, the band, they decided to take a commercial turn. They even started having hit singles, their cover of The Kinks Victoria being a case in point



As a musician and a songwriter, The Fall and Mark Smith were huge influences. The uncompromising risk taking was something that I found intoxicating. Smiths lyrics are at times quite bizarre. At first glance he is a northern miserablist, chronicling the decaying, rotting northern landscape of the end of the millenium. Dig a bit deeper and you find a rich vein of warmth and humour.

One of my favourite albums is "The Wondeful and Frightening world of....". The song Elves, is perhaps one of the most underratted songs of all times. Using the Iggy & The Stooges "Now I wanna be your dog" guitar riff and adding a commentary about a fairy hoax from the 1920's.


The addition of Brix Smith to the band was a masterstroke and added a softer side to the band. Although the band had featured female members such as Una Baines from the start, Brix was hugely influential. She added style and sassiness to the band and ensured Smith made music that was far more accessible. At first, I felt this was heretical, but I soon came to realise that it was still the fall, only a slightly improved version.

I think that Mark E. Smith was an artist who could only ever have thrived and come to prominence in the 1970's punk era. He was the absolute antithesis of the X-Factor & The Voice school of singer. The band played by none of the normal rules of rock and roll but somehow managed to be more Rock and Roll than just about everyone else.

I've always been of the opinion that people who didn't get The Fall didn't get Rock and Roll. They are not always an easy listen, they are a band you have to work at. I recall the first time I saw them at The Marquee in 1977 or 1978. I was totally bemused by them. I loved amphetamine driven fast punk rock and they played slow tunes with attitude. I wasn't sure if they were brilliant or rubbish. I bought Live at The Witch Trials to see if I could make my mind up. I realised that they were both. That was what made them unique. The musicianship was never anything to write home about. The lyrics were often bizarre and very morally ambiguous. Smith wasn't a singer as we know it. Just when you started to feel comfortable with them, Smith would turn the applecart over and start again. If you really want to understand Mark E. Smith, I'd suggest you start by listening to Diceman from Dragnet.


I am the dice man
And I take a chance, huh
Do you take a chance, huh?

Where you two going?
Where you two going?
Is this a branch on the tree of showbusiness?

Do all these musicians
Have a social conscience?
Well, only in their front rooms

But I am the dice man
And I take a chance man
Do you take a chance, huh?

They stay with the masses
Don't take any chances
End up emptying ashtrays

But I push, push, push, push
Throw the bones and the poison dice
No time for small moralists

Cos I am the dice man
And I take a chance, huh
Do you take a chance, fan?


 For me this song is the epitome of the Fall at its best.

Mark E.Smith RIP - Wherever you are, I am sure you'll be causing trouble, starting fights and adding to the general jollity of the place. I fully expect a few Angels on their Harps to get the sack or have beer cans thrown at them. Thank you so much for everything. Whatever Smith is doing, he'd never end up emptying ashtrays!

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

#SaveLondonMusic - Live music in London - The tide is turning

Live music at grassroots venues
After a decade and a half of decline, we are finally starting to see the tide turn in the battle to save Londons live music scene. In 2016 the Mayor of London set up a London Music Board and has also appointed a Night Tzar for music (Amy Lame). A recent report by the board has reported that the tide is turning and for the first time in a decade, the number of grassroots venues has remained stable. 

Although there are a number of factors in play, it is clear that having set up the London Music Board and commissioned a report into how Londons music culture can be preserved is starting to have an effect.  

Without Grassroots venues, London won't call anyone
Our campaign has worked tirelessly to make the case. Grassroots venues are vital to keep London at the epicentre of the worlds music scene. Without small venues where new artists can hone their trade, there is absolutely no way we can maintain our artistic creativity base. Without this, the £4 billion contribution the music industry makes will whither and die.

We (The #SaveLondonMusic) are now in our third year and we believe that we've played a major role in making the case for small venues. We see our role as twofold. We work behind the scenes, campaigning and lobbying for live venues. This involves writing hundreds of emails and letters to various politicians and other key decision makes, reading thick reports and trying to ensure that grassroots venues get the best deal possible. Then there is the public work. This involves setting up live music events and promoting live music through our website. Last year was phenomenal. We staged the North Finchley Fest putting on over 50 artists at six venues. In 2016, in association with the Robert Elms show, we made a definitive list of grassroots venues in London and we tried to put on as many gigs as possible at these venues. 

So where has this got us? What have we achieved? Clearly the tide has turned. In part this is due to a real re-awakening of interest in live music. How are we getting on in our aims



1. Special protection for important London music venues from redevelopment. This should take two forms. The first should grant important venues the same protection as listed buildings. The second is that where large infrastructure projects destroy venues (such as the Astoria), the venue should be resited elsewhere in equivalent or better premises at zero cost to the operator.
There is a lot of work to be done on this issue. The issue has been recognised and people are getting better at running campaigns to make it harder to destroy our heritage. The Mayors office has recognised this by setting up the London Music Board. 
2. Established venues should be protected from noise and disruption complaints from neighbours. Soundproofing etc should not be the responsibility of the venue, where the venue is an established music site.
In three years, we've managed to put agent of change legislation on the agenda. As Music Week details this week, this in itself isn't enough, but it is one of many aspects of the campaign that will make a difference. Here is our agenda :-

3. As creative industries are a key component in the UK economy, tax breaks, planning assistance and grants should be made avaialble to any company or individual investing in infrastrure to support creative industries.  This should be done with a view to ensuring the UK maintains its leading position as the centre of world music.
From a music perspective the following should be available.
* Capital Tax allowances for investment in venues and studios
Sadly this is an agenda item that there has been little progress.

* Free or discounted planning costs for studios,  music venues and other music related companies (such as instrument manufacturers etc).
Sadly this is an agenda item that there has been little progress.

* Rates holidays for start up businesses involved in the music and creative sector. A six month period of zero rates and a six month period of 50% rates would give businesses a great
opportunity to get off the ground and generate employment
Sadly this is an agenda item that there has been little progress.

* Offer grants to creative industries to assist with the costs etc of starting a creative business, specifically for assistance with the cost of consultants for noise control and other issues which
are specific to the music industry.
This is now recognised as an area that needs to be developed. Work is being done.

* Enact legislation to ensure that major new developments include an element of light industrial space suitable for creative industries and studio space at low rent.
Sadly this is an agenda item that there has been little progress.

* Offer mentoring and assistance to young people wishing to set up SME’s focussing on the creative sector.
The London Music Board are looking into this
We are also working to actively set up new grassroots music venues across London and support other individuals and organisations with the same aim
There has been some progress in this area. Locally venues are waking up to the fact that live music can make a difference to the bottom line for their businesses. 
In short, we are starting to turn the time. To quote Winston Churchill. With regards to our campaign to #SaveLondonMusic, it is not the end, it is not the beginning of the end, it is the end of the beginning. 



Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Submission to the DCMS Parliamentary Committee by Roger Tichborne on behalf of the #SaveLondonMusic Campaign

I received a request to submit information to the recently launched Parliamentary enquiry into live music in the UK. I run a campaign called "Save London Music" dedicated to preserving and promoting Londons grassroots venues. Here is the submission I presented. If you are interested in making your own submission, and if you are involved in the live side of the music industry, you really should consider it, this may give you some food for thought. Yesterday I published the request for submissions.

1.       Who I am.
My Name is Roger Tichborne. I run Mill Hill Music Complex, which is North West London’s leading independent rehearsal and recording studio, which sees over 1,000 musicians and artists a week pass through our doors. I am also a member of the organising committee for the Bi-Annual Mill Hill Music Festival, which has been running for the last 22 years and The North Finchley Music Festival. I  regularly promote live music in North West London and have played guitar in a rock band called “The False Dots” since 1979. I founded the Save London Music Campaign in 2016, and it is in this role that I am addressing my comments to the committee.

2.       About The Save London Music Campaign
The campaign was launched in 2016 on the Robert Elms Show on BBC Radio London, to act as a focal point for the protection and promotion of grassroots live music venues in London, in response to the rapid decline in the number of such venues over the last 10-15 years.
The Aims of the Save London Music Campaign

The campaign is working to make the case to protect London music venues and studios Specifically we want to see the following:
1. Special protection for important London music venues from redevelopment. This should take two forms. The first should grant important venues the same protection as listed buildings. The second is that where large infrastructure projects destroy venues (such as the Astoria), the venue should be re-sited elsewhere in equivalent or better premises at zero cost to the operator.
2. Established venues should be protected from noise and disruption complaints from neighbours. Soundproofing etc should not be the responsibility of the venue, where the venue is an established music site.
3. As creative industries are a key component in the UK economy, tax breaks, planning assistance and grants should be made available to any company or individual investing in infrastructure to support creative industries.  This should be done with a view to ensuring the UK maintains its leading position as the centre of world music.
From a music perspective the following should be available.
* Generous Capital Tax allowances for investment in venues and studios, in recognition of their benefit to the economy
* Free or discounted planning costs for studios, music venues and other music related companies (such as instrument manufacturers etc).
* Rates holidays for start up businesses involved in the music and creative sector. A six month period of zero rates and a six month period of 50% rates would give businesses a great
opportunity to get off the ground and generate employment
* Offer grants to creative industries to assist with the costs etc of starting a creative business, specifically for assistance with the cost of consultants for noise control and other issues which are specific to the music industry.
* Grants and easy terms loans for music venues when legislative changes result in capital costs for safety and access works
* Enact legislation to ensure that major new developments include an element of light industrial space suitable for venues, creative industries and studio space at low rent.
* Offer mentoring and assistance to young people wishing to set up SMEs focusing on the creative sector.
We are also working to actively set up new grassroots music venues across London and support other individuals and organisations with the same aim
3.       Why is this initiative needed?
Here are a few reasons
·            FACT: One quarter of all London Music Venues have shut in eight years.
  • FACT: UK music industry contributed £4.1bn to national economy in 2014.
·            FACT: In Mill Hill, NW7, one small district of London, 6 music venues have closed in 9 years.
·            FACT: Half of all commercial recording studios in London have closed since 2000.
London is recognised as the worlds leading city for Culture, Media and Music. The financial contribution this generates for the UK economy is huge. The closure of grassroots venues threatens this position. These venues provide the apprenticeships and training for the next generations of artists, technicians, managers, promoters and road crew. London’s premier, world beating venues such as The O2 arena, Wembley Stadium etc cannot thrive in a vacuum. Artists need to learn to walk before they run. Vital small venues which have been lost such as the 12 Bar, The Forge and The Purple Turtle are the breeding ground for talent.
Another aspect that must be reviewed, which is directly relevant to this issue is rehearsal and recording spaces. Whilst the public recognise key live venues and will campaign when they shut down, without good provision of recording and rehearsal spaces, performing becomes impossible.
As a studio owner, I see many international bands who will arrange a trip to London to play gigs and coincide this with a trip to our studio to rehearse and record music. This makes London an attractive destination for international artists. It is vital that the committee recognises the holistic nature of the music industry in the UK. We keep our competitive edge because musicians have the opportunity to mix across cultural and ethnic lines and are exposed to a huge number of creative influences that result in the most exciting music scene anywhere on the planet. We need to protect all aspects of our unique scene.

4.       Is Live Music still a viable proposition?
There is much evidence that Live Music is having a renaissance in London. I have seen three excellent examples in my area recently.
Last year, Barnet Council and local traders organised the North Finchley Music Festival to promote the local High Street.  I was responsible for finding the artists and logistics. Over two days, we staged over 50 acts at six different venues. This encompassed choirs, Trad and modern Jazz, Ska, Punk, Soul and Hip hop music. Over 1,500 people attended in total, giving the High Street a massive boost. The Mill Hill Music Festival was also held. We had live Opera, The BBC Elstree Concert Band, Jazz, Classical music and pop. The festival made a profit, venues were all busy and over 1,500 people attended events over nine days. The festival gave the whole area a lift.
I have also been involved with The Chandos Arms in Colindale. This was a run down failing pub three years ago. New managers took over, made live music a key part of the offering and have seen the business go from strength to strength. This year the pub won “Community Pub of The Year” at The British Pub awards.
Many promoters, bands and agents I know are reporting that after a tough few years, live music is very much on the front foot in London at the moment. Grassroots venues such as The Dublin Castle in Camden are packed week in week out. Musical tastes change from generation to generation and what worked 20 years ago doesn’t always work so well now.  The venues and promoters that have adapted to the current trends are doing very well. Live music is very much a great proposition and it can kick start building a successful community. There are huge developments going on all over London and I believe there should be legislation to ensure that these huge new estates have access to safe, modern, well run music venues. This will help social cohesion

5.       The need for safe and well run venues
There has always been an ebb and flow of venues and music promoters. Some are good, some are bad. Some invest in the music and generally reap rewards, some simply milk the scene and generally fail. Some are na├»ve and try and run events without planning and financial control and fail. This is why the UK needs to train people in music management and event planning.  A key element to consider is safety. It is totally unacceptable to run unsafe venues. All should have proper fire escapes, emergency lighting and where possible good access for disabled people. There are many venues where it is simply impossible to enjoy a concert in a wheelchair. Whilst I believe that it is absolutely vital to ensure all of these things happen, given the perilous state of the finances of many small grassroots venues, legislation for such necessary improvements can close the venue down. There is a clear case to recognise that grants and long term loans should be made available for venues where changes in the law threaten the financial health of a business.

6.       Finance for Music related business
Although it is probably well outside of the scope of the committees work, I am of the opinion that the UK Banking system needs a shake up, with specialist lenders being set up to service niche areas such as music. Unlike a company producing or selling tins of beans, music has a legacy. Many artists are earning more now from their music than they did when it was originally released, especially when tunes are used in movies etc. When we look at our top artists who generate millions for the UK PLC, we need to recognise that they would not have reached that pinnacle without putting their feet on the first rung of the ladder at grassroot venues. As a businessman who has run a studio for 39 years on a commercial basis, I am not suggesting that cash simply be given to anyone who wants to try to start a music related business. I am suggesting that where a sound business plan is presented, finance should be made available and if social good can be demonstrated, grants should be considered. This should especially be the case in areas with social problems.
I have experience of the issues borrowing money from banks for music related business.  There is zero recognition in the financial services industry that music is a financially lucrative area when managed properly. When trying to obtain a £3,000 loan for a PA system for live music I was told that there was no business case. This was despite the fact that the I was buying the PA for a band that was playing 20 gigs a year, and paying £300 a time to hire a PA system. The business case was clear and the system had a decent resale value if the band were to dissolve. The bank simply refused to recognise that a band playing contemporary music could operate as a business. Our business case also mentioned that we would hire the system to other bands when we were not using it. They used the fact that we had “no experience of running a hire operation” as a reason to decline the loan. I eventually raised the funds via other means and still have the PA, which has paid for itself many times over.
What we really need to see is support for young artists and young promoters. This can only come through opportunities at Grassroots venues. There should be an easily accessible network of support and mentoring for young promoters looking  to run nights at venues. I would suggest financial and logistical support, to underwrite artists fees and help promote and plan at venues on nights run by young promoters. My suggestion would be to hook up these budding entrepreneurs with students at local further education colleges and universities to help with website, logistics and management. It would be great to see Financial institutions also encouraged to help such individuals. In many cases the amounts of money required to get things off the ground are small and the experience gained is invaluable.

7.       What about the “problems associated with music venues”
Whenever I’ve discussed the issue of live music with politicians who are not particularly familiar with live music venues, the subject of the “Problems associated with Music Venues” are raised.  These are typically perceived to be drugs, antisocial behaviour (especially at closing time), noise and transport issues. Any discussion must acknowledge these, I am of the opinion that a well managed venue should not have issues on a regular basis (and a venue should only be considered problematic if issues occur regularly and are directly related to the operation of the venue). I would contend that more antisocial behaviour is caused by street drinking of cheap products from off licenses than are ever caused by venues. Robust strategies for dealing with drug issues do work. It is no more realistic to expect venues to be able to stop everyone with drugs entering a venue than it is to stop them walking into Marks and Spencers, however schemes to identify and ban known dealers, refusal of entry to anyone who is suspected of being troublesome and good co-operation with the police work well. Design of toilets and CCTV cameras where appropriate are an excellent way to prevent dealers and casual users from indulging in drug taking. It is also important to train staff in such issues. Door staff and venue management should be required to have training for all venues where such issues are perceived to be a risk. I personally would like to see a more flexible licensing regime. The licensing regulation is more or less the same for a piano recital as it is for a full on hard rock or rave band.

8.       Why we need a more intelligent licensing regime
A useful change would be  to see better education of those involved in licensing of venues. If you look at an example of a well run venue in London such as The Roundhouse, it is clear that every aspect of the venue is well thought out. The security is not obtrusive, but you feel safe. The bars are well run and the sound is generally good. The toilets are clean and the food in the restaurant is good. As a result, if people see that a band they like is on at The Roundhouse, it will be a compelling proposition.  If you want a trouble free environment, it is a good model to use as a base.
There are other venues that are far less well run in London. In the London Borough of Barnet, a venue recently closed, following a whole spate of problems with licensing, the Police and local residents. The issue was not “live music”, it was bad management. A management team that doesn’t pay staff properly, allows customers to be short changed and treated with contempt is not going to succeed. Such a venue will always have problems because the staff are not given the direction to ensure that the establishment will function in a professional manner.
 To summarise, live music is not the problem when a venue has issues. It is simply bad management. The tools available to the licensing committee for dealing with bad venues are rather limited. The four grounds for withdrawing a license are inflexible and do not reflect the need to for a licensing authority to be able to work with venue. In the case of good venues, the process and the costs are the same as licensing more problematic venues. I would make the case that license renewals should be automatic and cost free if a venue has operated without issue.
My view is that decisions about music licensing should be determined by people who are likely to use the venues and have relevant knowledge of the subject. A review of the members of the licensing committee in Barnet reveals a committee that is unlikely ever to choose to go to a venue playing modern music. I would prefer to see a more professional regime for licensing of music venues, with a wider remit, that can work in tandem with the police to ensure safe and well run venues.

9.       Summary
My recommendation would be to adopt the Save London Music Campaign objectives described above. There should be greater awareness of the contribution both financial and cultural of the UK music industry. There should be recognition by police and licensing authorities that problem venues are the result of bad management. Strategies for dealing with such accordingly should be drawn up, with advice on best practice. The licensing regime needs to be updated and fit for purpose for the 21st century.



10.   Sources & background references
Details on contribution of UK Music industry to economy
Article detailing decline of UK Grassroots venue
 Various news stories relating to UK Grassroots venues
Details of Barnet Council licensing committee