I was a little bit surprised to find out that John Harris of the Guardian has written a long article about the Future Shape/Easy Council/One Barnet project today and has airbrushed the Barnet Eye, the unions and various key events out of the history of Barnet residents opposition to the whole sorry outsourcing story. Harris states in his article
In 2011, under the pseudonym Mrs Angry, Musgrove began writing a blog called Broken Barnet, which doggedly monitored what the council was doing. She was not alone: by 2012, at least five Barnet bloggers were scrutinising Capita and the council, and exposing their failings.
Any casual reader of the Barnet Eye will know that this blog started in October 2008. Readers more well versed in the history of Barnet blogs will know that it started on the Barnet Times Website in May 2008 until pressure from Barnet's Conservative administration resulted in the paper dropping the blog. Thr first blog I wrote about Future shape was this - barneteye.blogspot.com/2008/11/future-shape-of-your-council-tax-bill.html - in November 2008. I accurately predicted all of the ills that Harris mentions in his article. I stated
If you are a Council Tax payer in Barnet, ask yourself these questions.
a) Do you believe that Privatisation delivers better services?
b) Do you believe Privatisation is guaranteed to cut tax bills?
c) Do you trust Barnet Council's legal service to not make a single error in any contract it drafts?
If you can honestly answer YES to all of the above questions, then you must know something that has passed me by.
If, like me you don't, then you'd better do something about it. I'd suggest that the best way is to make your presence known to your councillors. You can either go to the Council website and get their email address (listed under Councillors) or even better, turn up to the relevant Council cabinet meeting and let them see the strength of opposition to this mad policy. I personally think that Barnet Council have taken quite enough risks recently.
The Barnet Eye was the first of all of the blogs and to date is the most read. To date we've had over 3.3 million views verified by Blogger, and the stat counter only started logging in 2011. If you use the desktop version you can see this.
|Blog stats as of 14.14 on 10/11/2022
I was surprised that the article also ignores John Burgess, who was absolutely pivotal to the movement to oppose the whole sorry mess. There was no mention of the two films we made about One Barnet, both of which were screened locally and at the House of Commons.
One can only speculate as to why John Harris chose to ignore the
existence of Barnet's longest running and most popular blog. Burgess, the Barnet
Unison branch secretary CC'd me into an email to Harris about the
article and I sent Harris an email with a selection of blogs etc, from
the early days. I drew all of the this to John Harris's attention. I received a reply, three weeks later, when I was on holiday and which I've only just seen, that acknowledges the points made, but for some reason, none of the points raised were mentioned in the article.
I'm not overly bothered that I wasn't mentioned, but the omission of John Burgess's role, the fact that it was opposed for three years before Harris suggested by local blogs are absolutely key. This is because Mike Freer, now MP for Finchley and Golders Green was the architect of the whole sorry mess. By 2011 he was MP and has tried hard to distance himself. The fact that residents and unions were actively opposing the project in 2008 demonstrates that Freer was already riding roughshod over the people of Barnet.
One of the more irritating inaccuracies of the article was the following statement.
Until a Barnet Labour councillor exposed it, she says, developers could pay to select a particular planning officer – the person who would then advise councillors about how to vote on particular proposals.
This was leaked to me by a mole in the council barneteye.blogspot.com/2011/10/barnet-council-confidential-more-secret.html and it was clearly legally untenable then.
I started writing about the One Barnet project so that there was a record of note about what happened and so that when people want to look at what went wrong, there was a record and a timeline. The fact that a national paper has chosen to ignore this, means that the readers of the Guardian will be mislead as to the true sequence of events. I've no problem with John Dix, who started blogging about all this in October 2009 as Mr Reasonable or Theresa Musgrove, who started blogging in March 2010 getting the accolades, as both did a significant amount of work and deserve it, but I can't help but be disappointed that so much of the story has been airbrushed out. The film screenings at The Phoenixc Cinema, with appearances on BBC news, the rally in the snow, court case at the Royal Courts of Justice, where the whole project was deemed illegal, but the objection was struck out as it was 'out of time'.
I've come to the conclusion that maybe the Guardian simply prefers academics and management consultants to punk rock guitarists when it's picking bloggers from Barnet to quote. All a bit sad really to wake up and find out that you and the fourteen years worth of work you've dedicated to a subject has been airbrushed out of history. But hey ho, The False Dots had a great rehearsal last night and our latest video has done OK