Monday, 30 September 2019

Environment Monday - Everything you need to know about climate change

For many lay people, the issues around climate change can be confusing. We read about global warming, then the UK is hit by "The Beast from the East" and has the coldest winter for years. We read about climate change scientists, but most of us don't understand what they do, who funds them and why they are relevant to our daily lives. Most of us know that 'pollution is bad', we cough when a bus goes by spewing out diesel fumes, or when we get an asthma attack following a day where there is poor air quality, but many of us are unaware that climate change is none of these things, even if these issues are all inter related.

So what do we mean when we talk about climate change and how do we know whether it's real?

Climate change, is the effect on temperatures caused by increasing levels of greenhouse gasses.
The science is very simple. When we burn fossil fuels, we release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. CO2 is a better insulator than than oxygen, so as the level of CO2 rises, the atmosphere retains heat better than it did previously. Different materials all have different properties when it comes to retaining heat. For example, metal loses heat far more quickly than wood. As the CO2 level rises, the heat from the Sun's energy is retained and temperatures go up.

What complicates the issue is that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere goes up and dow naturally. We don't fully understand the process, that drives this, but its most likely down to the health of the ecosystem. Volcano's and the temperature of the Sun will clearly have some effect (The sun heats up and cools down periodically).

What we do know is that plants remove CO2 from the atmosphere and use the carbon to build structures, such as leaves, branches, stalks. These then die, decay and form peat, coal, oil etc. When humans  dig them up and burn them, we release the carbon back into the atmosphere as CO2. There is a  government website that explains the changing CO2 levels of this in detail, if you are interested. It supplied these two graphs


The changes are stark and worrying. As climate changes, the eco system changes and habitats become unable to sustain the established life forms, as any changes to delicate balances disrupt the way species interact. As temperatures rise, soil dries out quicker, meaning that plants with shallow roots etc start to struggle. It is far more complex than this, but that is a small picture of some of the reasons why it matters.

What are the different viewpoints on Climate change

There are four main viewpoints.

1. People who don't care.
Sadly, it seems that the vast majority of the population don't care about climate change. For many, it doesn't seem to affect them so they are not bothered. Like many things, by the time it affects you, it is too late. Think of cancer as an analogy (something I know a bit about). If you catch it and deal with it early, before it affects you, then you can fix it. It may not be pleasant, but you can stop it killing you. If you ignore the warning signs, then sadly you might not be able to take the required action in time.

2. People who don't know.
For some, it is all too confusing. So much of it seems contradictory, especially when the President of the USA says it's all nonsense and we should ignore the experts. Surely he's the president he must know? I have sympathy with anyone who is confused. I was before I researched the matter. What I read convinced me that we must err on the side of caution. Why?  Again, if I can use a cancer analogy. When I was diagnosed in 2011 with Prostate cancer, I followed, the advice of my doctor, to go onto a programme of active surveillance. This meant regular biposies and scans. A friend, who is into alternative medicine, told me that the medical profession were lying to the public about cancer and that it could be cured simply by lifestyle changes. He'd seen videos on the internet and was convinced. I religiously watched all of these. Most seemed to actually be selling food supplements. Some of it was sense. Eventually I settled on what seemed to be sensible lifestyle changes. In 2014, my friend was telling me that the fact that it hadn't developed was down to the changes. In 2015, the cancer became more aggressive. Then it was all the fault of the dodgy doctors and me not taking more supplements. Much as I love my friends, I would prefer to trust qualified doctors, who know what they are talking about. That is why I trust climate change scientists, rather than blokes in pubs and dodgy internet videos, peddling conspiracy theories. Even the big oil companies such as BP recognise the need for change, which is why BP have a growing renewables subsidiary BP acknowledge the need to tackle climate change. They would not be doing this if there wasn't hard scientific evidence.

3. Large vested interests defending fossil fuel industries.
Petrol, Gas, Oil and Shale are big business. The companies operating in these sectors have huge investments in the business. The CEO's of these companies are employed to defend the financial issues of the shareholders in the companies. Whilst some like BP acknowledge the need for change, there is a history of corporate dragging of feet. Companies fund all manner of studies and research, in the hope that they can find ways to justify a business as usual approach to fossil fuel production. Change hurts profits, so is not something they will do unless they have to. Climate change sceptics have often been funded by such organisations. This is not because they doubt the science, but because they take the commercial viewpoint that if they can delay changing their ways for a few years it will be good for the balance sheet. Some are looking for magic bullets to fix the problem, such as carbon capture schemes or looking for other sectors of the economy to clobber.  This is pretty normal capitalist corporate behaviour. Sadly not everyone realises that science is being manipulated simply to improve the balance sheets of large corporations. Have a look at this list of climate change deniers. Sadly it seems many are mislead by these people. That is why we need to set the record straight.

4. People who recognise the need for change.
Those of us who recognise the need for change need to to take action now. We have science on our side and we have reason on our side. One of the arguments of the vested interest is that the case is not proven. Going back to my cancer analogy and my friend who was a cancer treatment sceptic stated that I should not trust the specialist. I ignored his advice. The treatment was not pleasant, but four years later, I am in a good place. I don't know how my cancer would have progressed if I'd ignored my doctors and listened to the bloke in the pub. What I do know is that when it came down to it, I wasn't prepared to risk my life on the word of a bloke in the pub who'd watched a video on the internet. I had a responsibility to myself and my family to undergo some fairly unpleasant treatment. It is the same with climate change. We can't be 100% sure exactly what will happen, but we have a small window to make a big difference. We have a responsibility to ourselves and our children to be cautious and make changes.

You may say "what difference can I make?". There are many things you can do. I started this series to outline many of them. If you enjoyed this article, read the rest in the series. But today, there is only one thing I would ask you to do. It might not be easy, but please try. If you read this article and think it makes sense and you know someone who isn't really sure what Climate change is all about, ping this onto their Facebook page or email it to them. Ask them to read it and ask them what they think of what I had to say. If they ask you a question you can't answer by all means ping me an email. I will do my best to get you an answer. If I get a few meaty questions, then I may put them into a blog. If you are a climate change sceptic, by all means email me, with the science that supports your arguments. It is only by discussing such matters in a sane and rational manner that we can hope to fix the problems of the world. And if you don't want to fix the problems facing the world, please don't email me, as we really have nothing in common.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

The Tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 29/09/2019

It's Sunday, so here is our most popular regular feature! My personal selection of my favourite tweets. As it's the weekend, I generally avoid overtly political tweets, as generally they are not much fun. I love the weird, the wacky and historical gems. As some people ask my criteria for selection, if you tag me into a tweet, I'll have a look. If I've seen it or if I've been recommended it, then it may get a run. I only pick one tweet a week from any tweeter, so if you post eleven amazing tweets, I only pick the best. I also like to plug local music and gigs. Then there are the oddly shaped fruit and veg and local artworks. But in short anything goes.  And I only pick ten.

1. Rules are made to be broken, normally we avoid the tweetings of local politicians, but we couldn't resist this. Whilst the country tears itself apart over politics, we do things rather differently in Barnet. Young Tory whippersnapper Felix Byers seems to be developing a romantic interest in Mrs Angry, Barnet's firebrand lefty blogger. Check  out this whole thread, it is pretty hilarious!

2. This weeks local celeberity tweet comes from the esteemed Mr Tony Blackburn. He share's our philosophy!

3. Bablu Miah has discovered the joys of Clitterhouse farm in Cricklewood. IF you haven't we recommend it!

4. The excellent North London Time Machine have found a real gem.

5. Talking of amazing tweets, Samuel Levy is another of our favourite tweeters. This little clip is outstanding
6. Fancy some quality Jazz in Mill Hill
7. A date for your diary. This is a very good one.
8. So do we!
9. Some of us got a bit wet this week!


10. Please support this appeal. Cancer touches all of us sooner or later in some way, shape or form


That's all folks!

Saturday, 28 September 2019

The Saturday List #234 - My personal Top Ten music videos from the London Borough of Barnet

Excuse me the indulgence here. These are my personal favourite videos from around our Borough. I've been involved in the music business since 1979 and I am proud of how we've put Mill Hill on the map as a studio location and with the Music Festival. These videos feature great music videos, which happen to feature good friends of mine who are brilliant musicians. Inevitably there are a couple featuring my band. These were all filmed in the Borough of Barnet.

1. This one was made by Director Charles Honderick and shot in my kitchen and on the balcony of my house in Mill Hill, with fine views of the M1. It is a great tune. It was used by Manchester City FC for their website goal of the month show in 2012! Koni played with the False Dots for several years, she was also a backing singer for rapper Emmanuel Jal, and played at Barack Obama's inauguration!



2. A few years ago I was astounded to find this video on Youtube from 1979. It is of Edgware School band, The Vektors playing at Harwood Hall. This was the first gig I ever arranged and promoted. There were 120 people there and I made a handsome profit after paying the bands, which I spent on beer and curry in the Mill Hill Tandoori with my mates! Some things never change. This was also my band The False Dots first gig, although we don't feature in the video. The Vektors were a pretty decent band and it was a great night.



3. Amy Winehouse was a Barnet girl. She started playing at venues like the Torrington. I knew her well as she was a customer at Mill Hill Music Complex. This video of her playing at the Torrington brings a tear to my, as both Amy and The Torrington are gone.



4. Alan Warner, lead guitarist of The Foundations is a great friend of mine. In 2017, he played at the Adam and Eve pub for the Mill Hill Music Festival. It was a great night and an honour to do the sound for them.



5. Lee Thompson of Madness is another great friend. His other band, The Silencerz are regulars at The Chandos Arms in Colindale. They are amazing and it is always a blast. I introduced Lee to the landlady Emily at the Chandos as she wanted to do a benefit concert for Cancer Charities. Lee liked it so much, he takes the band back a couple of times a year!


 6. I love this little bit of luncacy. The Hamptons performing their amazing anthem peace on the London Underground. Nice shot of Golders Green at the Start of the video. The Hamptons were the band video director Charles Honderick put together after being inspired by The False Dots!



7. This was a special moment, the original line up of the Polecats getting together to perform Rockabilly Guy in Mill Hill, for the first time since the 1979 gig at St Pauls Church Hall. Chris Hawkes, the original drummer jumped up to play washboard with the band. A real collectors item and a pleasure to be the sound man for the night.



8. Another great friend of mine is Ivor Goldberg of Klezmer band Shir. They are some of the finest musicians I know. It was a delight to do the sound for them at The Mill Hill Music Festival in 2015 at the Mill Hill Shul. Maurice Chernick, who also plays in the band was the first paying customer when we opened our recording facility back in 1997. I put an ad in Melody Maker and said I wanted to practice my recording techniques and bands could pay what they like. It turned out Maurice was an amazing soundman, showed me loads of amazing techniques and to my complete surprise paid £100 for the session, as he was delighted. For what I learned, I should have paid him, but he insisted.




9. The Deltas are one of the best known bands on the UK Rockabilly circuit. I was delight when they recorded a video in Studio 1 at Mill Hill Music Complex. I was even more chuffed when I heard it, because it is great! If Rock and Roll is your thing, then this is for you.



10. We start where we finish, with my band, the False Dots. Connie who sung Spotlight left in 2012 as she had a world tour to complete as a backing singer. Allen Ashley, who sung with the band in 1985, rejoined to help me complete some music for a short film I was making. He's sung with the band ever since. Last year, we made a music video for the Kick Out Capita Campaign. Allen specifically wrote a song called "They Cleared Out Your Desk" about outsourcing of jobs. We filmed the video at the headquarters of Barnet Council and all around Mill Hill, taking in some great footage of the Medical Research Centre being demolished. I think that this is the best music video I've made. Very proud of it.

.

Have a great weekend! I'm off to Hadley FC to see some grassroots football today!

Friday, 27 September 2019

The Friday Joke - 27/09/2019 -The Parties explained by lightbulbs

Politicians - The Parties explained by lightbulbs.

How many Lib Dem MP's does it take to change a light bulb? They've been all been talking to the lightbulb, but it's still refusing to become a Lib Dem!

How many Brexit Party MP's does it take to change a lightbulb? As they've got no MP's we are all in the dark about that one.

How many Tory MP's does it take to change a lightbulb? The lightbulb is not broken, it just refuses to come one according to Boris. 

How many Labour MP's does it take to change a lightbulb? None, the Lightbulb changers Union won't let them. 

How many Green MP's does it take to change a lightbulb? The Green Party like the lightbulb just the way it is!

How many SNP MP's does it take to change a light bulb? The English broke the bulb, they can damn well fix it!

How many DUP MP's does it take to change a light bulb? Give us £1.4 billion quid and we'll tell you!


Have a great weekend. I really think we all need to get our sense of humour back a little bit when it comes to politics. Whether you are a #Brexiteer or a #Remainer,  please accept that people on the other side hold their views for genuine, deeply felt reasons. No one is a 'traitor' because they have a different view from you. No one is an idiot because they disagree with you. I don't believe that politicians should use inflammatory language, but we are all human and when passions get aroused, we say silly things and get carried away. 

Thursday, 26 September 2019

The Thursday Local News Roundup - Hadley FC, Luciana Berger for Finchley and an Apology from Barnet Council

Flowers at the Mill Hill Village Green Earlier this year
Welcome to a new regular feature. Many people have spoken to me recently saying that they like the regular features I run. Environment Monday, The Wednesday Poem, The Friday Joke, The Saturday List and the Sunday Tweets of the week. They know to check the blog on particular days when things of interest to them are published. A criticism of late has been the lack of local news. Since the demise of the local papers, with no one getting local news through the door (the Barnet Times is still online and can be collected at the libraries), there is not a great central source of local news. So Thursday will be our local news roundup. Here are a few stories that have caught our eye.

Hadley FC through to third qualifying round of the FA Cup


Our local football team, Hadley FC have made it through to the third round of The FA cup qualifying competition. They face a trip to Portsmouth to play Havant and Waterloovile.

This is an amazing achievement for a team in the Essex Senior League. Hadley FC play in Brickfield Lane, the road opposite The Gate Pub. Hadley beat Bedmond FC 3-0 to get through.

Lucian Berger to stand as Lib Dem candidate for Finchley and Golders Green.

Many people in the Borough will have been appalled by the treatment of Luciana Berger and fully understood the difficult decision she had to take to quit the Labour Party. She s wiidely recognised as an excellent MP and a decent human being. Following her decision to leave Labour, she decided to join the Lib Dems and locally we are delighted that she has been adopted as the candidate for the party in the forthcoming election in Finchley and Golders Green. This will offer the people of the constituency a real choice. Sadly, many members of the community, who have previously not wanted to vote Tory have felt politically homeless. Now they have a candidate who gives them a real choice, is principled and they can trust to represent the whole community.

Councillor Gabriel Rosenberg defects to the Lib Dems.
Gabriel Rosenberg has long been recognised as one of the most decent and thoughtful councillors in the Conservative group in Barnet Council. The antics of Boris Johnson have pushed Gabriel to the point where he has felt that he could no longer remain in the party. He has joined the Lib Dems. Gabreil explains why in this tweet.


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Barnet Council issue apology to the Barnet Eye for wholly inadequate FoI Response

The Barnet Eye has received an apology for a wholly inadequate response to a  Freedom of Information request concerning the Mill Hill Neighbourhood Forum. The Barnet Eye complained to Barnet Council and an internal review has concluded that the initial response was wholly inadequate.

The Barnet Eye had sought to establish how much taxpayers money had been spent by the council on the now wound up Mill Hill Neighbourhood forum. Sadly, the council have now admitted that their accounting systems do not log time of council contractors on such matters. It is simply 'part of the bill'. We believe that this lack of oversight of what Capita are spending their time doing explains many of the problems we are having with the company. We have now established that the council gave the forum a grant of £750. The council has not sought copies of the forum accounts to establish whether this was properly spent. Whilst the council is not legally required to, we believe in transparency and felt it would be better for all concerned if the council had received and published MHNF accounts. We see no reason fro secrecy. Here is the council response.

Request for review
For Q 1 Barnet Council have referenced a document that does not provide the information was requested. The specific reason for the request was because the document referred to did not contain the required information.For Q2 Barnet Council have stated that they are not required to financially support production of Neighbourhood Development Plans which is misleading and not what was asked. Please read the question properly and provide a response to what was asked. Barnet Council should confirm whether they provided a grant, yes or no, and if yes, how much;For Q3 Barnet Council have again provided a misleading answer saying they not required to oversee any accounts which is not what was asked. Barnet Council should confirm whether they received any accounts from MHNF, yes or no, and if yes, provide the copies. Please ensure that before responding you read the request properly
I have undertaken the internal review and the outcome of my review is set out below.

Response
I have taken each issue you raise in turn.

For Q 1 Barnet Council have referenced a document that does not provide the information was requested. The specific reason for the request was because the document referred to did not contain the required information.
I concurr that the document provided was unhelpful and that the rest of the response was ambiguous to the extent of not answering the query. The original response stated that "To date the primary cost to the Council associated with the MHNP application has been officer support time. This has been absorbed by Re and thus contained within
existing budgets."

The use of the word "primary" here is misleading, as this would suggest that there are additional costs that are not mentioned, with officer support time being the foremost. I have established in my discussions with the service that this is essentially mistaken, and that officer time was the only cost. As stated, the officer time spent was provided by Re staff under the existing contract, so no additional cost was incurred by the council itself. The relevant officer time has not been quantified, in any case, so it would not be possible to establish a figure for the costs incurred by Re.

For Q2 Barnet Council have stated that they are not required to financially support production of Neighbourhood Development Plans which is misleading and not what was asked. Please read the question properly and provide a response to what was asked. Barnet Council should confirm whether they provided a grant, yes or no, and if yes, how much;  
I concurr with your request for review of this point. The reponse provided attempts to answer a simple query with a non-sequitur that does not begin to address it.

I have contacted the relevant officer and have ascetained that in January 2017, MHNF was awarded a one-off grant of £750 from the corporate grants programme to defray the cost of space in its publication, 'A Guide to Mill Hill', dedicated to council-related messaging. This is the forum's one and only corporate grant.

For Q3 Barnet Council have again provided a misleading answer saying they not required to oversee any accounts which is not what was asked. Barnet Council should confirm whether they received any accounts from MHNF, yes or no, and if yes, provide the copies. Please ensure that before responding you read the request properly
Again, I concurr with your request for review. Whether or not the council is required to oversee accounts has no impact either way on whether copies of accounts are held. Not all information held by the council is due to a requirement, statutory or otherwise.

I have contacted the relevant service and have confirmed that no such accounts are held.

In conclusion, the initial response to your request was wholly inadequate, with responses that did not address the questions asked. I apologise on behalf of the concil for this failure in upholding the standards we hope to set with our FOI responses.

I hope this review has managed to clarify the issues and provide the answers you originally sought.
As you can see the council has admitted it's failure.

Thameslink offer for the Troy "Myth and reality" exhibition at the British Museum.

If you travel by Thameslink, there is an amazing 2 for 1 offer to get into the Troy Myth and Reality exhibition. Click this link for details. This will be an amazing exhibition and runs from 21st November to 8th March. It is just around the corner from St Pancras, easily accessible via Thameslink.

Mill Hill Rugby Club looking for new members

Fancy getting fit and meeting new friends? Why not try out the training at Mill Hill

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

The Wednesday Poem - The Day I saw in Alien on the road from Burnt Oak

Edgware General Hospital Social Club - Thanks to Pete on Flickr
Todays poem is a poem I wrote following a very strange experience walking back from the Edgware General Hospital social club, in around 1985. A friend of mine, Chris used to be the manager and we'd often visit on a Saturday night to chat to the nurses, play table tennis and have some afters. There is a lovely collection of pictures of the Hospital, put together by Pete on Flickr - Check these out https://www.flickr.com/photos/8866197@N07/sets/72157646647741005/

I make no claims about my sobriety on the night in question, but as I was with two friends, it has always been a bit of a mystery. Why anyone would have travelled half way across the universe to visit Burnt Oak has always puzzled me. The exact spot was on the A5109 where the road crosses the Northern Line, just before Pavillion Way. It was around 2am.


The Day I saw in Alien on the road from Burnt Oak. 

I've lived a long and fruitful life, 
amazing kids and gorgeous wife,
I've travelled the world and the seven seas,
It takes a lot to baffle me.

It may come as surprise,
The strangest thing to behold my eyes,
Was not due to narcotic smoke, 
But happened on the road home from Burnt Oak.

It was 3am after a fun filled night,
With Steve and Paul I saw a sight,
like nothing seen before or since
What it was I'm not convinced.

Heading down past Pavillion way,
The oddest vehicle came our way,
The strangest thing was not a peep,
No engine noise, no not a sqeak.

I turned to Paul and I turned to Steve,
What we'd seen we couldn't believe,
Paul said "Rog was that for real?
an alien behind the wheel?"


I turned to Steve who said "that's weird

Perhaps it's the invasion we feared"
It disappeared right off the road
What it was I'll never know.

To this day we cannot see,
the reason for the mystery,
An alien came from the stars,
To check out all those Burnt Oak Bars?

Maybe he looked at the Stag,
And thought "no chance, I'm heading back",
To think we might now all be slaves, 
Till the Burnt Oak boys saved the day!

Copyright 2019 Roger Tichborne

We occasionally still discuss it. A real mystery. My friend Paul is a believer in UFO's etc. Steve is the opposite. The biggest mystery was the way the thing disappeared before our eyes. I daresay that some of you will be cynical. I don't blame you, I would be, but it certainly was a talking point for a few weeks. I don't think that the concept of three people imagining exactly the same thing is a viable theory. Like all of the best mysteries, ghost buses, apparitions, alien abductions, it will probably remain a mystery. For the record, Paul thought it was a UFO in disguise, believing that they have 'cloaking powers', Steve thought it was a ghostly apparition, possibly of someone who'd crashed and died at that point. As for me, I can't really decide between the two theories. At the time, I think I preferred Paul's but logically Steve's seems more likely, in as much as any such theory can be likely. 

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Supreme Court Decision - Time for Boris to resign

This is going to be a very, very short blog. In fact it would be a tweet if I could have fitted it in the word limits. The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has declared that the Prime Minister has broken the law in the prorogation of Parliament. This is without precedent. There really is no issue. Boris Johnson has got to go. He brought in Dominic Cummings, a man with no respect for our constitution or Parliament. Cummings is his accomplice in an illegal act. He has brought shame on the office and he has even embarrassed Her Majesty the Queen. Boris Johnson is not an elected Prime Minister, he has no mandate. It is really quite simple. He has to resign and if he won't resign, Parliament should sack him.

Environment Monday - If Greta Thunberg was a bloke she wouldn't get all this nonsense

I was pretty busy yesterday, hence didn't have time to post my scheduled Environment Monday blog. I thought the Thomas Cook story was more important and needed the focus. As a result I rescheduled the blog I'd been working on for next Monday. I hadn't intended to write anything on the subject this week. I had to pick my daughter up yesterday and when when we returned, I watched News at Ten. There was a small piece on Greta Thunberg addressing the United Nations. I thought to myself "Wow, that is a pretty powerful speech for a sixteen year old". I thought back to myself at that age. How would I have been able to deal with addressing the great and good? I had nothing but admiration for her gumption and passion. It was the biggest moment of her life and she got on global news. She has become the face of the campaign to reverse climate change.


I have no illusions about how hard it must be for her. When I was sixteen, I had strong views about many things. I joined CND, I joined Friends of The Earth and  I formed a band to get my points across. It took us 18 months before our first gig and I was terrified when I played in front of 100 mates. It was so terrifying that our lead singer, who I'd founded the band with bottled it and didn't show up. Greta wasn't playing to 100 mates. She was playing to the whole world and some of the most powerful people in the world were watching her. The stress I had if the gig went wrong was that a few mates would think I was a plonker. She had the hopes of a billion young people on her shoulders.  I can only imagine how hard that was and if she was a bit emotional, it is understandable. A few  years ago, I went on a business trip to India. It is not only teenagers who are affected by ssuch stress. One of my colleagues had to give a presentation to the board of the large multi national company we were seeing. He had a panic attack, left the room and said to me "you do it". This was a man with decades of industry experience. Make no mistake, it isn't easy. She did amazingly well.

I wanted to see more, so I did what I always do. I went on Twitter to find a link. I mistakenly put in Greta Thunberg and was disgusted to see a complete torrent of bile. Sadly, the vast majority of it comes from the demopgraphic I sit in, white men of a certain age. I was ashamed. What's worse was that it was sexist, demeaning and patronising. I was so sickened that I was prompted to post a tweet myself.


It seems that a lot of people agreed with me. All manner of strangers have liked it and retweeted it and it has had a massive response. Given her age, not only do I think the response has been a form of bullying, I think it verges on child abuse. I am not at all surprised that people with criminal records for such things have jumped on this bandwagon.

The sad truth is that if Greta Thunberg was a young man, she'd have to put up with none of this. Sure, she'd have to put up with people attacking her arguments, but not for all of the sexism and patronising comments. I am proud of Greta Thunberg. As the father of two adult daughters, I want a world where women are judged by what they have to say, not by their lack of a penis, their looks and the colour of their hair. To me it is criminal that Twitter allows such hate. I hope that by the time Greta Thunberg is my age, such sexism will be seen as a thing of historical oddity, rather like the way women could not vote was in the earlier part of the last century. As a society, we need to grow up. If you look at Greta and see anything other than someone who you should admire, even if you disagree with her, then it is you that has a problem, not her. As I said in my tweet, what have you done to make the world a better place. If you can't answer that positively, STFU.


Monday, 23 September 2019

Thomas Cook - The first major Brexit casualty

I wasn't going to write about Thomas Cook this morning. Regular readers will know that we reserve Monday for our environment Monday column. But as I returned home from our morning dog walk over the Totteridge Valley, I was enraged to hear the Transport secretary Grant Shapps claiming that Thomas Cook was bound to fail because it had systemic problems and the government had no business stepping in to save it. I am sorry, but I cannot possibly let such a massive porkie pass unchallenged. There is no argument that the company had serious problems. There is no argument that it had been badly run. But there is no argument at all about why it failed today. The reason for that is completely down to dogs breakfast that the government has made of the Brexit process. Given what it's business involves, Thomas Cook is uniquely exposed to the chaos that the government has caused. Let me explain.

1. Uncertainty. A travel company requires the confidence of it's customers  that they will actually have a pleasant holiday. It is five weeks until the date when we leave, but no one knows what will happen when we get off the plane in France or Spain on the first of November. Will we need visa's? Will we be able to rent a car? Will our £££'s be worth anything? Will we need extra medical insurance? Will it take hours to get through customs? Will we have to go through the green channel, the red channel or the blue channel? Will we get a stamp on our passports. Will we have currency restrictions? What will our mobile phone charges be? With all of these questions unresolved, the many Thomas Cook customers who traditionally catch the last of the sun are being cautious. For a company such as Thomas Cook, the fact that the government has made such a dogs breakfast of the process, the implications of this are massive. For the travelling public, it means that you'd have to be bonkers to book a holiday until we know what is happening.

2. Currency fluctuations. Thomas Cook's customers largely pay in British Pounds. They pay their suppliers in Euro's or Dollars. The uncertainty over Brexit has caused the £ to plummet. In August, when it looked as if Boris was set to impose a no deal Brexit the £ plummeted to 1.08 euro's. For Thomas Cook, this coincided with the height of the holiday season. It also it hit its year low against the dollar then. No one knows what the exchange rate will be on 1st November. There are three possible scenarios, a  no deal, a deal or an extension. Each of these will result in a completely different exchange rate. For Thomas Cook, any refinancing deal had to take account of all of these scenarios. Whether you are a Brexiteer or a Remainer, it should be clear to you that the currency issues were lethal for Thomas Cook.

3. Compensation claims. Thomas Cook are an airline operator. By law they have to provide compensation for late flights. As no one knows the situation with passports and customs on 1st November, the company was exposed to the risk of massive compensation claims, if flights suffered disruption. Of course the compensation is governed by European law, so it is possible that this won't apply, but it is another variable.

4. Risk. When a company that is in trouble tries to negotiate finance, the key factor is what the risk to the lender/provider is. I now quite a lot about this. I used to work for a software company that wrote decision support software to analyse risk. Prior to Brexit, the risks of wild currency swings for Sterling were not high. For a company like Thomas Cook securing finance, they would be able to predict, within parameters the likely value of the £ vs the Euro and Dollar. In the event of a no deal, the £ could easily drop below one euro. In the event of a sensible deal it is likely to be above 1.20. From the perspective of Thomas Cook, their financing requirements could be 20% more than they would be today, to service their dollar and euro suppliers. I'm not surprised that banks were not prepared to take the risk. the risks are simply too high. Compound the fact that on top of the currency risk, there is a credible risk that travellers may be prevented from travelling. The compensation risk adds yet more toxicity to the proposition.

Grant Shapps refusal to take any responsibility means that 9,000 are out of work. They don't even know if they will get their paycheck this month. As to the number of holiday makers who will have lost out, I've not seen a figure. I have an old fashioned view of this sort of situation. Grant Shapps as Transport secretary should be supporting transportation businesses thrown into chaos by his governments incompetence. But the modern breed of politician never apologise and never take responsibility. There should be a multi billion fund to support businesses adversely affected by Brexit. They should have a degree of certainty. Thomas Cook agreed a rescue package with a large Chinese firm. This has fallen apart as there is simply too much uncertainty. Personally I'd like to have seen the company nationalised and put back on its feet. It is better to pay 9,000 to work than to sit on the dole. It is hugely unfair on the people who bought holidays in good faith to lose them. If Grant Shapps and Boris Johnson really believe that there is a bright future for the UK post Brexit, then a travel firm would be a great investment. Foreign travel is a luxury and if the economy is going to boom, then we'd all have lots of money to spend on holidays with Thomas Cook. Once the company was back on its feet, they could sell the shares back to the private sector at a huge profit. Or maybe Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps, having read the latest Yellowhammer analysis, have concluded that no one will be able to afford holidays next year. If that is the case, then don't you want to know?

Thomas Cook is the first high profile victim of Brexit. I very much doubt that it will be the last. My advice? If you are booking a holiday, make sure your insurance covers this sort of thing.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

The Tweets of the Week in the London Borough of Barnet - 22/9/2019

Here we are. This week's selection

1. We agree!


2. Someone enjoyed our company!


3. Mill Hill has some fine views


4. Good to see twitter can get a result!


5. Historical tweet of the week


6. We support this!


7. Superb Jazz in Mill Hill


8. I knew he liked a drink but.....


9. another fine bit of local history



10. Great to see young local talent. This is some we've been championing



That's all folks!

Saturday, 21 September 2019

The Saturday List #233 - My mum's top ten sayings

Mum with me in 1981
It's eleven years since my mum left this mortal coil.  I miss her. I was thinking of her this morning, something reminded me of her talent for rather interesting sayings. These were often triggered by seeing people she didn't like or disapproved of for some reason. Some, to this day, I haven't a clue what they mean. I thought I'd preserve them for posterity today.


1. There's now't so queer as folk. (She was from a generation where queer meant odd rather than a description of sexual orientation. I suspect the TV series has rather changed the meaning of this).


2. She's stuck like a pig in a ginnel. (I've no idea at all what this meant, but it was often uttered, it intrigued me. What ginnels were and why pigs got stuck in them, I've no idea).


3. He's the victim of a good education and a bossy mother. (I can't remember who she said this about or why. I think it probably describes one or two members of Parliament quite well).


4. She's got the face she deserves. (This was often uttered about a particularly sour neighbour, who my mother rather disliked).


5. He should have been a Priest. (My mum would often say this about men she thought were useless at everything. Bizarrely she generally held the Roman Catholic clergy in high esteem).


6. He's a typical bloody Tory. (My mum was a Socialist. This would be exclaimed often during the news, when my mother felt a minister was being heartless. This inevitably lead to a row with my Dad who was a Tory).


7. All the makeup in the world can't hide her ugly character. (There were one or two local ladies who my mother used to think were too liberal with the makeup and too uncaring about anything else).


8. She's had one facelift too many. (This was an insult reserved for Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister. My mother became convinced that Thatcher had a facelift and I think she disliked this almost as much as her policies).


9. He should have been the Archbishop of Canterbury. (My mother often said this of me. I don't think it was a compliment, especially given that she was a Roman Catholic and the Archbishop of Canterbury was CofE).

10. You're an idiot, just like your father. (My mother did not think my father was an idiot at all, but she thought he was useless with money. Whenever I made a purchasing choice that she disagreed with, this would be uttered. She would make a point of saying it so my father could hear. I think this was to remind him of her displeasure with his spending. Generally he'd respond by going to the Mill Hill Services club, drinking five pints and putting fifty quid in the one armed bandit. He would play until he won, which usually was probably less than he'd put in. He'd come home with pockets full of fifty pence pieces, as proof that he was sensible with money. This would result in an even more searing insult. After he passed away, my mum told me that she'd always been terrified that he'd gamble the house or business away, but she had realised in hindsight that he only ever gambled with what was in his pocket. She'd wait until he was out of sight and nick half of it for the family budget. In 1977, when the family had a business opportunity that required a £15,000 investment, my father was demoralised because he didn't have the cash. When my mother announced that we did, he couldnt believe it. When he asked where it came from, she confessed that she'd been emptying his pockets and putting it in the bank since they first married. He didn't know whether to be delighted or furious).

Friday, 20 September 2019

The Friday Joke - 20/09/2019 - A load of bull?


An Australian stopped at a local restaurant following a day roaming around in Madrid .
While sipping his wine, he noticed a sizzling, scrumptious looking platter being served at the next table.
Not only did it look good, the smell was wonderful.
He asked the waiter, 'What is that you just served?'
The waiter replied, 'Si Senor, you have excellent taste! Those are called Cojones de Toro,  from the bull fight this morning. A delicacy!'
The Australian said, 'I will have the same please.'
The waiter replied, 'I am so sorry senor. There is only one serving per day because there is only one bull fight each morning. If you come early and place your order, we will be sure to save you this delicacy.'
The following day he returned, placed his order, and that evening was served the one and only special delicacy of the day.
After a few bites, inspecting his platter, he called to the waiter and said, 'These are delicious, but they are much, much smaller than the ones I saw you serve yesterday.'
The waiter shrugged his shoulders and replied,
'Si, Seรฑor. Sometimes the bull wins."

Have a great weekend! If you are eating Spanish tonight, you know what to order. I'm a fan of El Camino in Kings Cross, but I don't know if they serve  Cojones de Toro?

(Note: if you don't get it, do a  translate on  'Cojones de Toro' Spanish to English)

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Am I alone in feeling terrified of the future?

I recently turned 57. If you knew me, you'd know that I am an optimistic and generally happy go lucky person. Many people tell me that when they meet me, I am not at all like the personality of my blog. I am a naturally very lucky person. For reasons I can't fathom, God has generally smiled on me. I was lucky to be born with the parents I had. I've been lucky with the friends I've made. I've been lucky in love. My kids are great. I play guitar in an amazing band, with some fantastically creative people. I've been lucky in business. I've even been lucky with my blogging. For reasons I can't quite fathom, people seem to enjoy reading the blog in vast numbers, I've even been lucky blogging.


With all of these marvellous things going on, I have found myself becoming ever more terrified of the future, for reasons I can't really understand. When did it start? I can pin a date on it. January 10th 2016. That was the day David Bowie died. It seems to me that the transition of Bowie from this plane to the celestial one, resulted in a strange shift of the axis of the earth. Sure, before 2016 bad things happened. We saw 9/11, we saw the credit crunch and the global crash. We saw the Iraq war. We saw all manner of terrible things. David Cameron was the Prime Minister at the time. Although I found him , smug, arrogant and charmless, I sort of thought he was Prime Minister material. If you had to have a Tory running the country, apart from Ken Clarke there are few I'd have preferred. 

But as we recovered from our new years hangovers, the Bowie death was like a jolt. I had a deep sense of unease for months after. I don't know if it was just because Bowie was such a pivotal figure in my life. As a North London musician, you couldn't help but be influenced by and love Bowie. I suddenly found that I couldn't listen to Golden Years, my favourite Bowie track. It was as if the Golden Years were now behind us and we were in for a time of plague and pestilence.
David Cameron announced the #Brexit referendum. This destroyed all trust we had in our politicians. They launched, en mass into a lie fest. Boris painted a massive Porkie on the side of a bus and started hurtling around the country in it. George Osborne lead a campaign that was as slippery as it was ineffective for the #Remain side. They split the country down the middle. 37% voted leave 35% voted remain and 28% didn't vote. Over a quarter of the people eligible to vote declined the offer. Didn't they care or where they just too put off by the porkie fest. There is no such thing as 'the 52%'.  There was not a majority of voters for #Brexit. The hard Brexit mob changed their stance from 'negotiating a deal will be the easiest thing in the world' to 'We want to leave with no deal'. 

The best advice we've got, which was the leaked Yellowhammer documents show this would be a disaster. The hard #Brexiteers claim this is part of 'Project fear', which when you think of it is ridiculous, because it was never meant to be made public. The concept that the government would commission a secret report that they didn't want the public to see, to terrify them into backing remain is insane. I can't see any way out of the mess. The country is hopelessly divided. Many people I know are avoiding life long friends as they don't want to have the #Brexit conversation. People who have always been mild mannered and reasonable have become frothing balls of rage. 

The country has responded to the challenge by letting the Tory party appoint Boris Johnson, a man best known for being a tactless buffoon. People who previously couldn't stand him but support Brexit now are placing their faith in him. Others who had admired his tenure as London Mayor, now are scared to death. The most positive thing I can say about Boris is that he's not Donald Trump. Trump makes Boris look like a paragon of virtue. Sadly Trump is the most powerful man on the planet. At a time when we need wise and pragmatic leadership, we have a man who conducts diplomacy through Twitter. Not only that, but a man who has fostered an atmosphere where qualified scientists are abused and pilloried. This is done so that big business can continue to damage the environment. We are facing a huge threat from climate change, but the one man who could make a difference doesn't care. 

Every time I turn on the news, the world seems to be tilting more and more towards disaster. I have three grown up children. I feel that my generation has failed them. We will just leave them smoking debris to play on. We had a beautiful planet and we are systematically trashing it. I used to think I'm lucky, I have had so much, but I am simply a passenger on a bus being driven over a cliff by a maniac. Am I alone in feeling this? 

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Planning in Barnet Council - Proof that residents come last due to a major conflict of interest

On Monday, I was invited to a meeting at the new offices of Barnet Council for a meeting with Barnet's planning  and environment team, local residents and Barratts PLC.

As many local residents will know, Barratts are redeveloping the site of the National Institute for Medical Research.  Also attending were a group of residents including, the owners of businesses at Finchley Nurseries and residents affected by dust, noise and disruption.

We were informed that the discussions at the meeting were private and not for disclosure. Much as it pains me, as a blogger, this is a constraint I have to accept to be able to be trusted to attend such meetings. One of the attendees was Laurence Bard, owner of Pond Life aquatic centre at Finchley Nurseries. Last year, I made a video which outlined some of the issues he was facing and some of the problems at the site. The footage was filmed on 29th June 2018. Sadly the problems have not abated. I will be making a new video soon.



Mr Bard lost thousands of pounds worth of stock when the Special Boat Service arrived unannounced and started using the site as training ground. Large explosions were heard, which resulted in the fish suffering trauma and dying. Koi carp in tanks are susceptible to such stress. Mr Bard was not informed of the planned training exercise, the first he knew was when the bangs were heard. It is not that surprising in some ways, as his business is not listed as being their in the planning application. The site is described as 'open field to the north'. This is despite the fact that there is a house, a business that attracts thousands of people a week, a cricket and football club and a wedding venue are situated around the perimeter of the site. This has been raised many times with Barnet Council, who simply have ignored the concerns of the closest neighbours to the site. To this day, Mr Bard has received no compensation from Barratts for his losses, or for the costs of relocating fish to safer locations, whilst the demolition took place.

Appalled as I was at some of the information that came to light at this meeting, I cannot publicly repeat it. What I can say,  is that the meeting 100% confirmed to me what I had suspected from the first day I heard about Barnet Council's plans to outsource the main functions of the Council to Capita. My suspicion was always that once a private company was in charge of planning and commercial considerations became paramount, then residents concerns would be ignored.

If you do not believe me, have a look at this website. These are the services that you can pay for if you want to do a development in Barnet.

https://www.barnet.gov.uk/planning-and-building/planning/submit-planning-application/fast-track-service/fast-track-services

These are:-

Choice of Officer


Available for applications and pre-application (subject to availability)
Selection of officer
10% of application/ pre-application base fee- minimum of £55.00 (£66.00 incl. VAT) charge

Householders applications

Our services for householder applications cover all types of residential development within the curtilage of a dwelling (including house extensions, outbuildings, driveways).
Service 1
a- Registration of application within 1 working day
b- Consultation of neighbouring properties within 1 working day
c- Provision of an officer's recommendation within 5 weeks of validation
In the event that the recommendation is to approve, note that the decision will be delegated if fewer than 5 objections are received and the application is not called in to a planning committee by a Councillor.
Whilst the recommendation will be provided within 5 weeks of validation of the applications in any event, the necessary referral of an application to committee will have the effect of delaying the determination of the applications.
£384.00
(£460.80 incl. VAT)
Service 2 (applicable only if Service 1 is taken up)
Visit to site within 5 working days of registration
£110.00
(£132.00 incl. VAT)
Service 3
a- Registration of application within 1 working day
b- Review of the information submitted with the application within 2 working days of the site visit, if Service 2 accepted, or 5 working days from the validation (if Service 2 not accepted)
c- Provision of an email setting out any required changes to the application or confirming support/refusal of the application.
£314
(£376.80 incl. VAT)

Service 4

a- Registration of application within 1 working day
b- Consultation of neighbouring properties within 1 working day
c- Provision of an officers recommendation within 1 working day following on from the end of the consultation period (28 days)
Under this service, amendments to the scheme will be accepted at the discretion of case officers due to the time constraints.
In the event that the recommendation is to approve, note that the decision will be delegated if fewer than 5 objections are received and the application is not called in to a planning committee by a Councillor.
Whilst the recommendation will be provided within 5 weeks of validation of the applications in any event, the necessary referral of an application to committee will have the effect of delaying the determination of the applications.
£699.50
(£839.40 incl. VAT)
Additional and faster services
 
on request

Conditions and certificate of lawfulness applications

All our services for conditions and certificates include:
  • The registration of a valid application within 1 working day of receipt
  • The issuing of a decision notice within 1 working day of confirmation of support or within 1 working of receipt of acceptable amendments/additional information.
  • For conditions applications only, the fast track fee is charged per condition.
Service 8
Accelerated review and provision of an email setting out any required changes to the application or confirming support/refusal of the application within 15 working days of registration.
£109.50
(£134.40 incl. VAT)
Service 9
Accelerated review and provision of an email setting out any required changes to the application or confirming support/refusal of the application within 10 working days of registration.
£278.00
(£333.60 incl. VAT)
Service 10
Accelerated review and provision of an email setting out any required changes to the application or confirming support/refusal of the application within 5 working days of registration.
£329.50
(£395.40 incl. VAT)
Service 11
Accelerated review and provision of an email setting out any required changes to the application or confirming support/refusal of the application within 2 working days of registration.
£437.50
(£525.00 incl. VAT)
Service 12
Accelerated review and provision of an email setting out any required changes to the application or confirming support/refusal of the application within 1 working days of registration.
£659.00
(£790.80 incl. VAT)
Additional and faster services
on request

Office to residential prior notifications

Service 13
a- Registration of valid application within 1 working day of receipt
b- Consultation of neighbouring properties within 1 working day
c- Provision of an officer's recommendation within 4 weeks of validation
£378.50
(£454.20 incl. VAT)
Service 14
Subject to a prior notification application is approved, provision of letter confirming compliance with relevant legislation.
£81.00
(£97.20 incl. VAT)
Additional and faster services
on request

Larger home extensions prior notifications

Service 15
a- Registration of valid application within 1 working day of receipt
b- Consultation of neighbouring properties within 1 working day
c- Provision of an officer's recommendation within 5 weeks of validation
£206.00
(£247.20 incl. VAT)
Additional and faster services
on request

Small Minor Applications and Variation of Conditions (1 - 4 residential units / 100m2 - 999m2)

Service 16
a- Registration of valid application within 1 working day of receipt
b- Consultation of neighbouring properties within 1 working day
£211.00
(£253.20 incl. VAT)
Service 17 (applicable only if 16 is taken up)
a- Review of the information submitted within 5 working days from the validation of the application
b- Provision of an email setting out any required changes to the application or confirming support/refusal of the application.
£316.00
(£379.20 incl. VAT)
Service 19
Provision of an officer's recommendation within 5 weeks of validation.
In the event that the recommendation is to approve, note that the decision will be delegated if fewer than 5 objections are received and the application is not called in to a planning committee by a Councillor. Whilst the recommendation will be provided within 5 weeks of validation of the applications in any event, the necessary referral of an application to committee will have the effect of delaying the determination of the applications.
£211.00
(£253.20 incl. VAT)
Additional and faster services
on request

Large Minor Applications and Variation of Conditions (5 - 9 residential units / 1000m2 - 1999m2)

Service 20
a- Registration of valid application within 1 working day of receipt
b- Consultation of neighbouring properties within 1 working day
£314.00
(£367.80 incl. VAT)
Service 21 (applicable only if 20 is taken up)
a- Review of the information submitted within 5 working days from the validation of the application
b- Provision of an email setting out any required changes to the application or confirming support/refusal of the application.
£437.40
(£525.00 incl. VAT)
Service 23
Provision of an officer's recommendation within 5 weeks of validation.
In the event that the recommendation is to approve, note that the decision will be delegated if fewer than 5 objections are received and the application is not called in to a planning committee by a Councillor. Whilst the recommendation will be provided within 5 weeks of validation of the applications in any event, the necessary referral of an application to committee will have the effect of delaying the determination of the applications.
£314.00
(£376.80 incl. VAT)
Additional and faster services
on request

Major applications

Tailored service. Quote provided on request.

Pre-Application advice Category A, B and C

Category A -  Very Large Scale, Complex Development
  • 150 or more residential units
  • 4000 m2 or more commercial floor space
Category B -  Very Large Scale, Complex Development
  • 100 - 149 residential units
  • 4000 m2 of commercial floor space
Category C - Large Scale, Complex Development
  • 25 - 99 residential units
  • 2000m2 - 3999m2 of commercial floor space
Tailored service. Quote provided on request.

Pre-Application advice Categories D, E and F

Category D - Major Complex Development – standard base fee £3,708.00  (incl. VAT)
  • 10 - 24 residential units
  • 1000m2 - 1999m2 of commercial floor space
  • Development involving a site of 0.5ha and over
  • Mixed use developments
Category E - Minor development – standard base fee £2,113.20 (incl. VAT)
  • 2-4 new units (where a meeting is sought)
  • 5-9 new residential units
  • 100-999 m2 of commercial floorspace (including change of use)
  • HMOs (100 m2 – 999 m2) (where a meeting is sought)
Category F - Minor development – standard base fee £1,131.00  (incl. VAT)
  • 2-4 new units (where no meeting is sought)
  • 100-999 m2 of commercial floorspace (including change of use)
  • Individual proposals for Telecommunications equipment and masts
  • Advertisement application for hoardings
  • HMOs (100 m2 – 999 m2) (where no meeting is sought)
Note that for Category F development only (no meeting), the notes will be provided from the date of registration of request. For example, if service 24 is requested, the fast track fee would be £274.50 (calculated at 25% of £1098.00) and would involve provision of notes 10 working days from registration of request. The charges below are payable in addition to the base charges.
Service 24
a- Accelerated offer of meeting at our offices (or on site) within 10 working days
b- Provision of meeting notes within 3 working days of meeting
25% of standard base pre-application fee
Service 25
a- Accelerated offer of meeting at our offices (or on site) within 5 working days
b- Provision of meeting notes within 3 working days of meeting
50% of standard base pre-application fee
Service 26
a- Accelerated offer of meeting at our offices (or on site) within 2 working days
b- Provision of meeting notes within 3 working days of meeting
75% of standard base pre-application fee
Additional and faster services on request
on request

Pre-Application advice Categories G - J

Category G - Creation of one residential unit – standard base fee £374.40 (incl. VAT)
  • Creation of 1 additional residential house or flat
  • Replacement of an existing residential unit
  • Conversion of 1 property into 2 residential units, including demolition and rebuild
Category H - Creation of one residential unit with Heritage issues– standard base fee £1,137.00 (incl. VAT)
  • Creation of 1 residential unit in a conservation area / listed building / or with associated complex heritage issues with meeting including Heritage Officer
Category I - Creation of one residential unit with Heritage issues– standard base fee £830.40 (incl. VAT)
  • Creation of 1 residential unit in a conservation area / listed building / or with associated complex heritage issues (no meeting included)
Category J - Small Scale development – standard base fee £271.80 (incl. VAT)
  • Small extensions / alterations (including advertisements) to commercial or similar premises, below 100m2
  • Small changes of use to commercial or similar premises, below 100m2
  • Other small scale developments below the threshold of category F
  • HMO below 100 m2.
Note that the standard base charges cover the provision of written notes only. A standard site visit or meeting is charged at the standard rate of £285.60 (incl. VAT).
The charges below are payable in addition to the base charges. For example a Category G request to have a site meeting within 10 days of submitting the request and notes within 6 days of the meeting will be attract an overall charge of £806.10 (£363.60 base charge + £285.60 base charge for the meeting + £90.90 fast track charge to guarantee an accelerated meeting date + £66.00 to guarantee the accelerated provision of notes).
Service 27 (not applicable for Category I)
Accelerated offer of meeting at our offices (or on site) within 10 working days
25% of standard base pre-application fee
Service 28 (not applicable for Category I)
Accelerated offer of meeting at our offices (or on site) within 5 working days
50% of standard base pre-application fee
Service 29 (not applicable for Category I)
Accelerated offer of meeting at our offices (or on site) within 2 working days
75% of standard base pre-application fee
Service 30 (not applicable for Category I)
Provision of written notes within 6 working days of  meeting
£56.60 (£67.92 incl. VAT)
Service 31 (not applicable for Category I)
Provision of written notes within 3 working days of  meeting
£110.00 (£132.00 incl. VAT)
Service 32 (not applicable for Category H)
Provision of written notes within 6 working days of  meeting  (when no meeting is sought)
£110.00 (£132.00 incl. VAT)
Service 33 (not applicable for Category H)
Provision of written notes within 3 working days of  meeting (when no meeting is sought)
£214.00 (£256.80 incl. VAT)
Additional and faster services on request
on request

Pre-Application advice Categories K and L - Extensions / Development within the curtilage of a house or flat

Note that the standard base charge is £148.20 (incl. VAT) for a Category K and £222.48 (including VAT) for a Category L pre-application requests. This charge covers the provision of written notes only. A standard site visit or meeting is charged at the standard rate of £294.00 (incl. VAT).
The charges below are payable in addition to the base charges. For example a request to have a site meeting within 6 days of submitting the request and notes within 6 days of the meeting will be attract an overall charge of £665.52 (£148.20 base charge + £294.00 base charge for the meeting + £197.40 fast track charge to guarantee an accelerated meeting date + £25.92 to guarantee the accelerated provision of notes)
Service 34
 Accelerated offer of meeting at our offices (or on site) within 6 working days
£164.50 (£197.40 incl. VAT)
Service 35
 Accelerated offer of meeting at our offices (or on site) within 3 working days
£329.50 (£395.40 incl. VAT)
Service 36
 Accelerated offer of meeting at our offices (or on site) within 1 working days
£551.00 (£661.20 incl. VAT)
Service 37
Provision of written notes within 6 working days of  meeting
£21.60  (£25.92 incl. VAT)
Service 38
Provision of written notes within 3 working days of  meeting
£82.40 (£98.88 incl. VAT)
Service 39
Provision of written notes within 1 working days of  meeting
£164.80 (£197.76 incl. VAT)
Service 40
Provision of written notes within 6 working days of  meeting (when no meeting is sought)
£80.80 (£96.96 incl. VAT)
Service 41
Provision of written notes within 3 working days of  meeting (when no meeting is sought)
£161.00 (£193.20 incl. VAT)
Service 42
Provision of written notes within 1 working days of  meeting (when no meeting is sought)
£322.40 (£386.88 incl. VAT)
Additional and faster services on request
on request


Whilst there are few aspects of these extra services that don't concern me, the ones that particularly do are the following

1. Paying to select your own council officer. How on earth can it be in the interests of residents to allow developers to select their own officers to manage their applications. They will clearly select those officers who they feel 'comfortable' with. Residents have no option to select officer who they know will diligently represent them and make sure all of the i's are dotted and the t's crossed.

If this doesn't worry you, all I can say is that you are probably a developer.


2. Major Application - tailored service - price on application. Does this imply that residents interests will be looked after? It says to me that developers interests will be given precedence over residents concerns.

3. Pre Application advice Categories G-J. I have to confess that when I read these, I simply could not believe what I was reading.  There are special services, available at a price, for developers to be assisted with 'issues' around heritage, listing and conservation areas. Can anyone honestly say that this isn't a massive conflict of interest. The council should be completely impartial in these matters and be totally on the side of existing residents. I am horrified that a developer can, for instance, pay
 for the following

Category I - Creation of one residential unit with Heritage issues– standard base fee £830.40 (incl. VAT)
Creation of 1 residential unit in a conservation area / listed building / or with associated complex heritage issues (no meeting included)
Is  there any way a developer would pay this sum if they had the best interests of the local community at heart. It is, quite frankly, appalling.

The horrific truth is that Barnet is up for sale. The administration have created a monster that simply exists to generate money (much of it for private contractors), which seems to have the sole purpose of working against the interests of Council tax paying residents.

Whilst I can't say anything about what was said in the meeting on Monday, I can say this. If you are a Resident in Barnet and you are affected by a planning issue, whilst the developer can get all the help they want by paaying the council the appropriate fee, you will get absolutely no help at all. If you have problems such as Mr Bard had, you might get invited to a meeting over a year after your business is nearly ruined and get a nice cup of tea, but you will get no help at all in dealing with the problems.

There is a huge conflict of interest and no one in the administration gives a stuff for the residents.

Please can you sign this petition, started by Mr Bard to stop the commercial exploitation of the green belt in Mill Hill - http://chng.it/GJ784W5Wx4
Last year, my band, The False Dots made a video highlighting all of the issues which we are facing in Barnet, the way that people are simply ignored, how you are thrown on the scrapheap. We did it in conjunction with the Kick Out Capita campaign. This is something you need to support.



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