|Rog T - Ten years of blogging|
But, as they say, life goes on. There were two tweets yesterday that exemplified why we need local campaigning blogs. The first one was from a good friend of this blog, Mark Amies.
|The Railway Hotel|
|The Thames Barrier - A project I worked on!|
Yesterday was the first time for months I bought a train ticket at the station (we went to St Albans to see Joan Armatrading). Usually I just tap in. That is one small example of good technology. When I was working on the first contactless trial for Streamline, friends said "No one will use it, you are mad if you think people will use a tap to pay for a pint in a pub". Now people get annoyed if they can't tap to pay. What I learned from my career in Technology is that if you can make things easier for people, you will make money.
The reason businesses fail in the modern world is because someone else makes it easier to do the same thing. If you want to succeed, you have to offer something unique. Companies that do one thing exceptionally will always thrive. It is the ones that do many things in a rather average manner that have problems. In our part of London, we seem to have quite a few people who are not very bright, making shedloads of money from property development. Many of these schemes are quite corrosive. It is the job of the local Council to prevent such schemes from destroying what is still, by and large, an amazing part of London. I don't blame dim, greedy property developers from trying to earn a quick buck. That is what such people do. It is however encumbent on the rest of us to stop the worst ravages by campaigns. I have always believed that ifyou take a long term view, in the long term you'll be better off. I can remember a local property developer offering my mother what seemed like a huge amount of cash at the time, for our site in Bunns Lane, back in the 1990's. He was driving around in a Rolls Royce. We had a family board meeting and decided that we were better off keeping the site. It is now worth ten times that and our rental incomes have massively increased since then. The developer ended up signing on a few years later when property prices crashed and all the schemes he was working on failed. I've lost count of the number of "get rich quick" schemes that friends have lost their life savings on. The tech share bubble, cryptocurrencies, highly leveraged buy to let etc. I've had friends telling me of how they will become millionaires, only to come a cropper. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Sooner or later, Barnet Council and central government will be forced to take a more holistic view to developments. I fully expect a lot of Rolls Royces etc on the second hand car lots as the developers find they are not quite the business geniuses that they thought.
|Barnet Labour inspiring the masses|
Sadly the sane coalition that emerged in 2010 was not the one I hoped for. To my complete surprise, after the election, I got a letter from Barnet Labour. They informed me that as I'd stood for another party, I had been kicked out of the party I'd left the year before. They said I was banned from membership for five years. To me this was like being kicked out of the Womens Institute. I wasn't a member and had no desire to be. But it was clearly an act of spite by them. Whilst there are some Labour councillors I get on very well with on a personal level, it was clear that officially I was persona non grata. All of the leaked council documents from Labour dried up. As by this point Mrs Angry had started blogging and she was a member, they decided that she was a far better person to leak to. My leakers are now the staff and ordinary people. When I wrote my resignation blog in 2009, I stated that I had no issue with Barnet Labour, I was telling the truth. Over the next nine years, my view has completely changed. Now I see Barnet Labour as the biggest problem for progressive politics in the Borough. There are still some great people in the Barnet Labour Party, but they are pushed to the margins. They have lost two council elections that they should and could have easily won, by running awful and inept campaigns. All of the chaos at the Council could have been averted in 2014 if they'd stood aside in Childs Hill and given Jack Cohen and the Lib Dems a clear run and concentrated all of their resources in Hale Ward, where they won one of three seats. On the day of the election in 2014, I heard reports that Lavour canvassers in Hale went to the pub for a boozey lunch as they thought it was in the bag. The Tories held on by one councillor. In 2018 it got even worse. Now the Tories have a massive majority.
The sad thing is that in the council chamber, they are also inept. Yesterday Councillor Mittra issued the following tweet
After much pressure, officers are finally reviewing gainshare payments to capita. My comment was that we have had this contract for 5 years, we’re halfway through and we’ve only just discovered what’s in the damn thing.— Cllr Arjun Mittra (@ArjunMittra) October 9, 2018
I checked my blog. Our first mention of Gainshare was in 2014. Mr Reasonables had identified the issue and I'd sought to draw attention to it in The Tweets of The Week. This tweet from John Dix was top of the list and ever since, Gainshare has been the no 1 issue for bloggers as a demonstration of just how inequitable the Capita One Barnet Contract was.
So how much is the Capita contract costing us in Barnet & are they in for a windfall "gainshare" payment?http://t.co/LDkkDIs1TY— Mr Reasonable (@ReasonableNB) July 25, 2014
It is beyond me how Councillor Mittra can claim that he, the Barnet Labour Party or the council as a whole can claim that they've only just found out about this. I suggest they do their homework and start with this blog that Mr Reasonable refers to. To quote John from 2014
"What intrigued me were a couple of comparatively small invoices,one on 27 November and one on 9th december for a total of £417,007. What this payment relates to is a clause in the contract called "Gainshare" where Capita get a cut of any savings made. Although the contract is redacted it is apparent from the numbers on the invoices that Capita receive 40% of any savings made.Since the inception of this blog in 2008, the Barnet Bloggers have been giving Barnet Labour all of the ammunition they need to take down this awful council. Mr Mittra issued a rather irritated tweet in response to me calling him out.
I felt deeply uncomfortable about these savings and have been trying to understand how such savings could be made so quickly. Following a great deal of correspondence with the council and having several subtly different version of how the savings are justified I have been told that these savings are the estimate of savings to be made over the next year, that Capita invoice Barnet upfront and then at the end of the year if the savings are not as great as Capita forecast then Capita have to return some of the money. Frankly I was staggered that the council should be sharing out quite so much of the savings of our money and paying out forecast savings as much as a year before they are realised."
Exactly what I’ve told you twice- I mean “we” THE COUNCIL.— Cllr Arjun Mittra (@ArjunMittra) October 10, 2018
.It is beyond my comprehension how Mr Mittra can claim "THE COUNCIL" did not know what was in the contract it signed, when it appears that even back in 2014, John Dix could figure it out. The sad truth is that whilst we have Labour Councillors of this calibre, the Barnet Tories can do what they like. I believe that the sole reason that Mr Mittra posted that tweet was because he is trying to con the public into thinking that Barnet Labour were kept in the dark. All they've had to do for the last four years was ask John Dix to give the Labour group a presentation on the contract and the issues and they would have had all of the ammunition they need.
|Dr Evil Aka Richard Cornelius|
I can't possibly finish this blog without a mention of John Burgess, the Barnet Unison Branch secretary. John is an absolute inspiration to all. I've never been a member of a Trades Union, people who are self employed aren't. But if I was, I'd want a rep like John. He is honest, hard working, decent and approachable. His health has suffered. John has not only been fighting Barnet Council, his own union have behaved in an appalling manner towards John. He stood for the post of general secretary and there was documentary evidence that the incumbents team used the paid officers to work against John. It all got too much for John, coupled with the difficulties of dealing with his mothers dementia. Somehow through all of this, he has managed to keep on fighting.
I had hoped to write a positive, happy, upbeat blog today. I had hoped for a nice little celebration. I can't. I feel profoundly demoralised by the whole sorry state of affairs in Barnet, I am desperately sad for my Aunty and her loss and I'm more frustrated than I have ever been with those who are meant to represent us.
But tomorrow is another day. And the day after is Saturday. And on Saturday, we are having our tenth Birthday Party. I will be presenting John Burgess with a little token of my appreciation (Don't get too excited John!). There will be live music from the False Dots and the amazing Kid Wondr. It's all Free and is taking place at The Midland Hotel in Hendon (next to the Thameslink Station). This pub is a great venue and is under threat of redevelopment. Please come down from 8pm. It is important to me that you do. It will show you care and it will give you a chance to sign the Save The Midland petition.
|Our Birthday Party|