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, Señor. 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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