Monday 30 November 2009

Lynne Hillan - high time for the truth not the trough

 From the London Daily News

The Deputy Leader of Barnet Council, Lynne Hillan, has today formally announced her intention to stand for the leadership of the Conservative group in Barnet following Mike Freer (the incumbent) decision to stand down, and focus on his parliamentary campaign to become MP for Finchley and Golders Green.

Lynn Hillan said in a statement:

"Having served as Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Resources I am well prepared for the challenges ahead as we enter a period of financial instability.  I am delighted with the draft budget I will be presenting later this month which will bring in the lowest Council Tax “increase” in the history of the Council.  It is all about targeting our resources towards services that our residents want and ensuring that the Council remains in Conservative control."


There are a few things that The Barnet Eye would like to remind it's readers of, regarding the career of Lynne Hillan.

Lynne Hillan claims she is well prepared for the challenges ahead because shes been Cabinet member for resources and Deputy Leader for a couple of months. Is this the same Lynne Hillan who ran a firm which went bankrupt with huge debts (much of which was to the taxman)? Is this the same Lynne Hillan who got Mike Freer to ring up the editor of a local paper in May and hush up a scandal because "I'd consider it a personal favour if you didn't run this story because Lynne is ill and this could badly affect her treatment and recovery prospects"? Is this the same Lynne Hillan who moved her mother from one sheltered housing site to another, shortly before it was announced that the warden would be removed from the home she had been a resident in. Is this the same Lynne Hillan who told a council meeting packed with residents of Sheltered Housing, where the warden was being removed that just because 85% of them had rejected the councils proposals in a consultation, the council was under no obligation to listen. Hillan talks about "the Lowest increase in tax in Barnet Council history". This will be funded by the "Biggest cuts to Barnets most vulnerable people in Barnet Council history". She talks about keeping the Conservatives in power, not about doing a good job for the taxpayers. Oh and a word of caution to any Barnet Council Tory Councillors who are stupid enough to think she'd make a good leader. If the Barnet Times does not run the story, I can guarantee that one of my rival bloggers will very, very soon. I'd suggest that you do yourself and Councillor Lynne Hillan a favour and persuade her to find something to run more suited to her many talents (see picture above). Too many Tory Councillors have their snoutsd deep in the trough of public funded allowances. It is time for them to swap the trough for the truth and appoint someone who has a track record of decent administration and sensible decisions.

I have this to say to the Editor of the local paper which hushed up the story. Ever feel like you've been conned?

Not your typical fan mail

Dear Rog,

I started reading your blog after your standards case hearing against Coleman. As someone with a background in the forces and a diehard Conservative, initially I was rather unimpressed with you and your views. I felt that you were a typical case of a jumped up lefty twat who can dish it out, but can't take it. For some reason, despite these misgivings, I've stuck with it and whilst I still disagree with most of what you say, I realise that you raise some important issues and make some good points.

When I read your two blogs posted today  my jaw dropped. I read the link you posted to the Telegraph about the British forces and it made me turn cold. I can't really say why, but this whole
business is scandalous. As to the other blog about UKIP. I know you have your own reasons for writing it, but the point you made is spot on. For many Conservatives in Finchley, unless UKIP stand, we will be staying at home come the next election.

Those of us who've made sacrifices for our country and are patriotic cannot stand by and let our old
folk be treated badly. I don't agree with most of what you write, but the cuts to the wardens is an
insult and a disgrace. If we let our grandparents be treated in this way, we deserve contempt.

I know this isn't the usual sort of fan mail you get, but I just wanted to let you know that after
my early doubts, I now think that the Barnet Eye is the only thing round here which stands up for
ordinary people. I don't agree with you most of the time, but I'm sure as hell glad you are here.

Yours Sincerely

D McBrain

P.s. I'd happy for you to print this letter on your blog
D. McBrain is a reader of the Barnet Eye.
The Barnet Eye always welcomes blogs from guest contributors. If you want to have a blog featured here, please email me BY CLICKING HERE.

UKIP & Finchley - A marriage made in heaven?

I'm not a UKIP supporter, by any stretch of the imagination. I must say though that if I was, I'd make Finchley & Golders Green my number one target seat in London.Why you may ask? Well it strikes me that it is an ideal target for them.

First, the history. Margaret Thatcher was the most rabidly anti European of all of our Prime Ministers. UKIP claim to be the successors to her legacy.

Secondly, the Tories have a very weak and very left wing (for a Tory) candidate. Former Leader of Barnet Council, Mike Freer, has left a catalog of disasters in his wake at Barnet Council. If UKIP could find someone who'd run a Whelk stall for 4 years, without going broke, they'd have someone with more financial acumen than Mike Freer. How many other Tory leaders campaign for Stealth taxes and indulge in Stalinist media manipulation.

Thirdly, there is a big bandwagon for them to jump on in Barnet. Brian Coleman had a major bust up with Boris Johnson about Boris Johnsons plans to open 22 new travellers camps in Barnet. Whilst Labour and the Lib-Dems would never campaign on a Xenophobic platform, UKIP have no such qualms. They could eat a big hole in the Tories support base. Unlike Brian Coleman, Mike Freer is very supportive of the Mayor (rumour has it that Coleman and Freer have fallen out big time. Could this be the reason?).

Fourth. UKIP offer an alternative to both incumbents, the Labour government and the Tory Council, both of which are deeply unpopular in the seat.

Fifth, UKIP must surely be against the abolition of the Sheltered Housing Warden Cuts. This hated policy has left many right leaning OAP's with no political home to go to. If UKIP miss this opportunity, they really shouldn't be in the politics business at all.

Sixth,  David Cameron said at his public meeting in Finchley that he wants Turkey to join the EU as soon as possible. Again I've no idea what UKIP would make of this, but I'm sure there are many people in their party, who shall we say, would be even less keen on an EU with Turkey as part of the club.

Seventh, UKIP are untainted by the Commons expenses scandal. If UKIP did there homework and read the Barnet blogs, they'd soon see why Mike Freer would not exactly be a fresh page for the voters of Finchley and Golders Green. The fact is that under his leadership, councillor allowances have gone through the roof, doubling up against the advice of the independent panel. Then there's the trips to America courtesy of the taxpayer. A clean slate?

If I was Tory Candidate Mike Freer, UKIP would be my worst nightmare. If I was UKIP, I'd want Thatchers old stomping ground more than anything. If the Tories lose Finchley at the next election, then they've really only got themselves to blame for putting up the worst candidate they could possibly find. Do UKIP stand a chance in Finchley? Well if they can't do well in this climate, against someone as divisive and unpopular and with such a poor track record as Freer, they should pack up their bags and give up. Would I like to see it. As someone of the left, no, not at all, but it really wouldn't come as a surprise.

British Army Chief : I now realise I'm a European, not an American

There is a fascinating report in the Telegraph concerning the tensions between the British and American army leadership during the Iraq conflict. Now as a rule the Barnet Eye doesn't cover national and international politics, there are other bloggers who do it much better, but this is too big an issue to ignore. You see I know people who served in Iraq and lost friends out there. Some are serving in Afghanistan and if this pattern is being repeated, them British servicemen are still dying.

There is a comment from Col Tanner, who served as chief of staff to General Stewart and of the entire British division during Operation Telic 3, from November 2003 to May 2004. He says the following :-

He said: “The whole system was appalling. We experienced real difficulty in dealing with American military and civilian organisations who, partly through arrogance and partly through bureaucracy, dictate that there is only one way: the American way.
“I now realise that I am a European, not an American. We managed to get on better…with our European partners and at times with the Arabs than with the Americans. Europeans chat to each other, whereas dialogue is alien to the US military… dealing with them corporately is akin to dealing with a group of Martians.
“If it isn’t on the PowerPoint slide, then it doesn’t happen.”
They detail how the Americans attacked the Medhi Army and the whole of the British sector dissolved into violence and bloodshed. Even worse :-
Gen Stewart added: “I spent a significant amount of my time ‘consenting and evading’ US orders
So we have British generals openly saying that the execution of the war was mishandled. I'm no expert on military matters, quite the opposite, but it is crystal clear to me that if the generals are carrying on like this, guys in the field will die. Our soldiers have been put in harms way by the lack of cohesion. I don't know if 1, 10 or 100 British Servicemen died as a result of all of this. What I do know is this. The whole Iraq war was based on dishonesty and executed (at a political level) by incompetents. The price was paid in blood by ordinary soldiers. If we can't work with our allies, we shouldn't have been there at all. I suspect that when the dust settles on the situation in Afghanistan, then a similar pattern will emerge. I heard Gordon Brown say earlier in the week that the purpose of the Afghanistan campaign was "to damage Al Qaeda's morale". "What are we fighting for Lads?" - "To give Osama Bin Laden the hump". It's completely bonkers.

Sunday 29 November 2009

Brian Coleman and the Mike Freer Conspiracy.

Got an interesting email from a Tory Party insider. This tells of the puppet master of Barnet - Brian Coleman and how he was scheming to install his mate Mike Freer as Tory Group Leader and depose Brian Salinger, whilst the rest of Barnets Tory party was frantically trying to win the last Council election in May 2006. If you are a Barnet Tory, you will recall that Mike "I never wanted to be Leader" Freer was the then Tory Council Leader Brian Salinger worked tirelessly on the Council Election Campaign.

Let me give you a few snippets from the email I have just received from a Tory insider :-
There is one aspect of the coup that has not been reported. When Coleman submitted his no confidence motion, he did so during the election campaign of 2006. Salinger was unaware of this, but it is quite disgraceful for a councillor to be plotting while everyone else was out campaigning.
Under the Group rules, Coleman's motion needed to be submitted 14 days in advance of the group meeting. That's how we know it must have been submitted during the election campaign itself because Salinger was thrown out before the council's annual meeting in May (just after the election).
Freer / Coleman / Hillan used to dine out every week so it was inconceivable that Freer didn't know what Coleman had done. At the time, Freer was Salinger's deputy. What an act of complete treachery on his part.

I don't know who seconded the motion, but the group secretary (Joan Scannell) would have known about it because all matters relating to Group have to be sent to her.
It is self evident that Coleman was campaigning for Freer behind Salinger's back - that's how they were able to pull off the coup. Salinger wasn't expecting it. And who can blame him - he was too busy trying to win for the Tories. For Freer to say he never wanted to be leader is a joke.
 Why would Coleman have tabled a no confidence motion, without a successor agreed and lined up? For Freer to claim he didn't want that is pure nonsense. How can you possibly trust a man who is so dishonest? How could anyone vote for him. If you are a Barnet Tory, is there any way you could possibly believe that Coleman tabled his motion, then Freer was elected without a challenge, without Freer being in on the scheme. Is there any way that you could deny that whilst Salinger and the rest of the Tories were campaigning for The Barnet Conservative Party, Mike Freer was campaigning behind the scenes for Mike Freer to be leader (with the salary and allowances circa £50 K at last count).

In all of the hubris following Freers exit as leader, one figure has been strangely silent so far. One figure has made no statements about the departing Leader at all. That man is Brian Coleman. Mike Freer was his man. If you saw the David Cameron video I posted, you'll notice that Cameron twice snubs Mike Freer. At the beginning and at the end. Strange treatment indeed for a candidate in a marginal seat. Is it possible that David Cameron has twigged what sort of a man Mike Freer is. Is it possible that he secretly is hoping that Alison Moore holds the seat for Labour? I'm sure whatever David Cameron may or may not think about Alison, he knows that she hasn't got a history of stabbing her Leader in the back when they are looking the other way.

Planet Earth to the Barnet Tory Bugle (sorry the Barnet Times)

There is a rumour in the Barnet Blogosphere that the Barnet Times is changing its name (well there is now I've started it). It is changing its name to "The Barnet Whores Drawers". The reason? Stories go up and down so regularly on its website that us poor bloggers can't keep up. What usually happens is this. A senior Barnet Tory does something stupid. One of the journalistic team faithfully writes up the story. The story duly appears on the website. The bloggers of Barnet  (through years of bitter experience) see the story and save it, and start working on their blogs. The senior members of Barnet Council get their google alert  (The taxpayer pays for a google alerts service so all of the egomaniacs get a ping every time their name appears in a web story). The senior Torys read the story and scream in true Kenneth Williams Carry on Style "Infamy, Infamy, They've all got it in for me!". They then ring up Rachel Sharp, editor of the Barnet Times and tell her "Listen Lovely, your job is to write stories about how marvellous Barnets Tories are, if you don't rewrite it immediately and punish your naughty underling, dire consequences will occur" (or words to that effect). The editor then calls in the poor naughty whippersnapper and dispenses a B*ll*cking and instructions to "make it nicer about our friends" (or words to that effect). The story disappears and another one reemerges, suitably and Stalinisticly rewritten.

Where Mike Freer was reported that he considered Nick Walkleys comments "cack handed and clumsy", the story suddenly becomes "Mike Freer has done a marvellous job and Nick Walkley thinks he's great" (or words to that effect). You'll be pleased to note that the naughty journalists finally seem to have got the message. All traces of independence and objectiveness have now been erased. This can be demonstrated in the latest story about the Leadership race for Barnet - This was written by Sarah Cosgrove, who was one of the chief residents of the Barnet Times naughty corner last week. I suppose poor old Sarah didn't want to spend Xmas down at the on the Bad Girl step, so she had to toe the line. The story is full of sickening quotes from brown-nosing lickspittles such as Councillor Andrew Harper about Mike Freers disasterous reign (do they really believe this tripe or do they just think we're stupid).

In my view Mike has been a terrific leader of the council. He has been inspirational and visionary, also enabling.I personally particularly appreciate the way that he's encouraged and supported me and enabled me to do my job and he displays the same qualities with others.”
Try this one from Councillor Daniel Thomas
“In my time working with him I've always been impressed at how knowledgeable he was, and of his grasp of the facts, knowledge of Barnet and all the issues our residents faced.
 How anyone could let these crass comments pass without at least asking a few questions? I'd have asked Harper this "When you say he supported you and enabled you to do your job, do you mean by offering huge allowances?" As to Thomas, I'd have said "When you talk about Freers knowledge of the issues Residents face, do you mean the ones he created by not doing his job properly,d espite his £3,000 responsibility allowance, such as the Icelandic Bank fiasco or the Aerodrome Road cock up". Of course, if I was Sarah Cosgrove and I had to pay my bills, I may be a bit more circumspect. I daresay she knows that there isn't much point writing a story if it will be immediately pulled. I've not spoken to her about this, but having had similar treatment when I wrote a blog there, I understand her problem. I was told that all mention of Mike Freer was off limits. They pulled my blog because "They were worried about what I might write in the future"

Well I have a message for Rachel Sharp who is now the editor of the paper. The sole function of a proper local paper is to tell the truth as best you can and inform your readers as best you can. Over the years, I've spoken to all of the journalists who work for you and I think they are a good team. I run a business and I support my staff through thick and thin when they do their job. That way I get the best out of them. I believe that one of the reasons that Barnets Tories have been so incredibly useless is because the local press has "gone easy" on them. I am fully aware of how Barnet Council uses its advertising budget as a tool. I'd suggest you remind them that Alison Moore and Jack Cohen would find this rather interesting.

As for Barnets Tories. Let me explain to you what your attempts to use Stalinist media manipulation have actually done. You lent on the Times to pull my blogs. As a direct result (read his first blog), David Miller (aka Don't Call Me Dave) who used to be a local Tory bigwig, started his Not The Barnet Times Blog. That has done you more damage than anything. When you finally got your wish and got my blog dropped, I set up the Barnet Eye. When I had access to Martini (The Times management system) I could see how many hits I used to get on my blog. I now get ten times as many. Given that the blog is about Barnet, I suspect that most of these people are local voters. I believe that David gets a similar number. Stalinism doesn't work in Barnet.

Update  **** As I was writing this blog, yet another Freerite justification appeared on The Times website, this time for his palace coup, less than a week after the last Council elections.  Here's  a choice quote from the article. .
AS his time as leader of Barnet Council comes to an end, Councillor Mike Freer admits the way he took on the post was “necessary” to nullify discontent in the party.
I don't suppose that the wider electorate that voted for Salinger really mattered. Here's a choice quote from Mike Freer, it rather reminded my of Stalins justification of the purges of 1930
"At the time the group had been through a period of turbulence, a lot of members were unhappy. And the way these things are dealt with are never comfortable but sometimes they are necessary."
Is a bloke who talks like this, manipulates the press like this, really a suitable candidate as a Tory MP? I'm always wary of people who think the needs of a small cabal of party members is more important than the wider electorate. Rather interesting to see the Times paying it's staff overtime to big up Freer.

Nick Walkley - Barnet CEO - An open invitation

One of my best moles at Barnet Council (I'd like to call him deep throat in honour of the Famous Watergate Mole, but those who don't about Watergate may get the wrong idea) told me a great story this week about our Council CEO, Nick Walkley, this week and certain plans for, shall we say, the way things are done in Barnet. Unfortunately it would instantly identify him, so I just have to sit on my hands. 

Having said all of that, it did get me thinking. If I was Nick Walkley - CEO of Barnet and I thought I was doing a good job and had a story to tell, I'd want to get my story across. I'm sure Walkley has some idea how many people read the various Barnet blogs. If I was in his shoes, rather than worrying about bloggers, I'd see them as a modern and progressive way of telling my story. There is a huge readership within Barnet of this, so why do they run so scared of talking to us.

Anyway, here's my offer to Nick Walkley. Come and have a chat with the Barnet Eye and put your point of view across on record. What is there to be scared of. I run a recording studio, so we could record the whole thing for posterity and release it as a podcast. I'd quite like to invite Vicki Morris and David Miller along as well. I'll even provide you with tea and cakes (at a cost of under £25 so you don't have to declare it). Simple rules. Any question goes and nothing gets edited out. You can get your story across to the thousands of people who read this blog every week.

Nick, are you man enough for the challenge ?

If so, Email me by clicking here and we'll fix up a date.

Saturday 28 November 2009

The Barnet Eye Saturday Quiz : How Homophobic are you?

Nick Griffin, Leader of the BNP reckons that everyone goes Yuk when they see two gay people kissing.
This idea intrigued me, so I thought I'd let you test yourself with a "How Homophobic are you" quiz.

Usual Barnet Eye Quiz structure. For answer A - Ten points, B - Five Points and C - Zero Points.
Ten questions.
Results :- If you get 0 out of 100 you are probably Peter Tatchell and if you get 100 out of 100 You are probably Nick Griffin. If you get somewhere in the middle, then you are somewhere in between.

1. Should Homosexual sex between consenting Adults be illegal.

A - Yes Always, B - Only if they are ugly, C - Never

2. If a family member rang you from America and said they were coming on their honeymoon to visit you and would like to stay at your house. They then tell you their spouse is the same sex, would you

A - Slam down the phone with a stream of abuse, B - Say you'd love to see them and suggest a Hotel, C - Say great, stay as long as you like.

3. Would you enjoy watching a Film with two men kissing :-

A - No, I'd always turn off the channel, B - Yes, if it was a good film and the kiss was in Context, C - Yes, especially if it was a Gay Porn film.

4. If your son came out as Gay would you?

A - Cut all ties forever,  B - Support him, but be sad, C - be happy that he is able to share this with you

5. Would you feel uncomfortable if  your childs teacher was openly homosexual

A - Yes, I'd change school, B - No, but I'd be more vigilant, C - Not bothered at all

6. Your Best friend tells you they have been living a lie and are gay. Would you?

A -End the friendship immediately, B - stay in touch, but be less friendly, C - It would make no difference

7. You find your Grandads war diary. In it you read that he had a sexual relationship with another man and enjoyed it, Would you

A - Feel that he was a family disgrace, B - Not be bothered one way or the other, C - feel happy that he had enjoyed it

8. An openly gay person starts work with you. Do you?

A - Shun them as much as possible. B - treat them like anyone else. C - Think "Fantastic, we need some life in this place"

9. You go for a meal with your spouse. At the next table, two guys are on the next table openly but not noisily flirting. Do you?

A - Ask for a different table, B - carry on with dinner, it doesn't bother you, C - Listen intently to what they are up to

10 - Your child comes home and tells you they are in trouble for calling a class mate a "F**ing QU***". Do you?

A - Pat them on the head and double their pocket money, B - Tell them to behave in future and not use such horrible terms. C -  Call them a disgrace to the family and impose a harsh punishment.


So how did you get on? I'm not going to make any suggestions at all, but I'd suggest that you think whether your score is what you'd hoped.

Poles Apart

Went down to Bethnal Green last night to watch "Poles Apart", a comedy featuring prolific blogging actor Daniel Hoffman-Gill. Was it any good? I like Dan's blog, it's interesting, funny and thought provoking. How would his show about his experiences trying to get a job in Poland as an immigrant be.

Well I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've spent a bit of time in Eastern Europe and enjoy watching anything about it. There were two themes in the show, the observational humour which was great. They got a couple down from the audience to experience the "Warsaw" (not Walsall in Birmingham) experience. Probably the funniest bit was when Dan asked "Anna" where in England she came from and she said "Poland". I felt a bit sorry for her partner "Jeremy" who was the straight man in the sketch. Most amusing. At least they got a beer and a vodka on the house. The other theme was some BNP bashing with a recurring "Nick Griffen" sketch. The point was that the BNP have ignored the huge sacrifice the Poles made for Britain in World War Two.  I didn't enjoy this as much as the observational stuff. I think that Dan was preaching to the converted a bit. There were some funny aspects, but I must say that the BNP are a repulsive organisation and although they deserve lampooning, I still find them irritating in any form, even a humorous one. All in all though, a good night out.

Friday 27 November 2009

David Cameron : Q&A in Hendon (or Finchley as Mike Freer likes to call it)

Here's what David Cameron had to say at his Q&A session in Hendon recently. It's quite an interesting Q&A. A few points, I agree with his views on the BNP (about 7.50). I disagree with what he said (at 09:20) about his dodgy right wing mates. To me, I don't think you should sleep with pigs, for want of a better description. If he didn't like EPP, then sit on your own, not with Fascists. If he thinks some of his new "allies" are like minded, lord help us. At 18:30 he says that he supports Turkey joining the EU.He says it is sensible for Turkey to Join EU. At 23:15, he says he supports the Olympics and wants to make a success of it.Couldn't agree more with his comments. His idea of a Schools Olympics is a winner. At 27:59 Cameron gives an interesting answer re the "cultivation of high fliers". He seems to say it isn't a priority and we need a mix of people. At 30:30 he ducks the abolish 50% tax rate question. Given that it's a Tory mantra that the 50% tax rate lowers the tax take, his answer seems rather odd. The most interesting thing is the way he legged it at the end (56:38) with a "Thanks Mike" as he dashed past Freer. I would have thought there would be a bit of back slapping, a few photo's and a bit of "Vote for Mike" speel. What do we make of the fact that there was none.?

Sad to see empty seats, especially given the fact that the front rows were packed with Barnet Tory Councillors.

My verdict. It is quite an interesting clip. I always like to see politicians in the flesh. I've seen Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone and Jim Callaghan in the Borough (when I was at Orange Hill School). It has done nothing to change my view that David Cameron is a Liberal Democrat in disguise. I'd suggest if you want the policies he's talking about here, you cut out the middle man and Vote Lib Dem. David Cameron seems to me to be many things, but one thing he isn't is a Conservative (which given that he's likely to win the next election is probably a good thing).

Thursday 26 November 2009

Lynne Hillan for Leader

Up and down the country, excited Tory canvassers are merrily knocking on doors. Right now they have a great story to tell. We've been lumbered with a leader in no 10 who wasn't actually the bloke we voted for. He's made a right royal cock up and its cost the country a kings ransom.

Sadly there is one place where this story may not work too well. Here in the London Borough of Barnet. You see shortly after the last Council elections, the glorious winner (Brian Salinger) for the Tories was ousted by a right wing cabal, lead by Brian Coleman and Mike Freer. Freer was imposed on the voters of Barnet by a vote of 23 Tory councillors. He took on juicy Council cabinet roles such as head of resources (with a juicy £3,000 responsibility allowance). Sadly, rather like Gordon Browns tenure as Prime Minister, it all started to unravel. £27.4 million was lost in Icelandic Banks, another £11 million at Aerodrome Road. Every time, the excuse sounded rather Brownite - Mike Freer only had two excuses a) No one saw it coming or b) It was someone else's fault. More senior Council officials have been fired with big payoffs than Jordan has had Botox injections.

Eventually Mike bit off more than he could chew. He called the CEO, Nick Walkley "cack handed" and "clumsy". Unlike previous Council officials, Walkley was made of sterner stuff and it was Freer who toddled off to spend more time with his campaign to stand as an MP.

So when Barnets Tories knock on your door, they can't say "Labour lumbered us with an unelected leader". They will have done the same trick twice by the next election. They won't be able to say "Labour couldn't run a whelk stall" as they've shown themselves to be incompetent. Worst of all they can't say "Labour takes the credit when it goes well and blames every one else when it goes wrong" as they've been doing it themselves.

I hope they make Freers latest deputy, Lynne Hillan into the new Leader. She's a totally discedited figure, who has championed the butchering of the Sheltered Housing Warden scheme, she's Freer's biggest supporter and she is recognised by many as the face of all that is wrong with Barnets Tories.

So why do I urge all Tory Councillors to vote for her? Because they deserve to get kicked out en mass. They've kowtow'd to every bonkers scheme Freer has dreamed up. They've said nothing during scrutiny meetings, more concerned for their fat cat allowances. I hope that the gutless and the nutlesss bunch that make up Barnets Tories elect the one person who could deliver a victory to the opposition. We want someone who's track record we know. Freer hasn't left a fresh successor time to build any sort of legacy, therefore we deserve someone who is mired in the cesspit of his regime.

As there is such a short time left before the election, there isn't really enough time for her to do too much damage (or at least I hope there isn't). As such I strongly urge all Barnet Tory Councillors to give Lynne a chance, so the voters can vote for someone they know and understand. Let's turn it into a referendum on the Sheltered Housing Warden Cut !

Andrew Dismore, Labour MP - Only big people matter

Until today, Andrew Dismore MP had my vote. Despite his expenses, which I find truly distateful, I know people he has helped locally and I passionately believe he is a better man for the job than his Tory rival, Matthew Offord. Unfortunately as more revelations about Mr Dismores expenses come out, I've found it harder to justify voting for him. Sadly, the last straw came today with an interview in the Edgware Times regarding his expenses and the complaints (check the 2nd last paragpraph). Andrew Dismore said :-
"If it was a big issue we would have had a lot of complaints from big people"
 Sorry Andrew. This was the point where you lost my vote. You see I've voted Labour at every election because I believe that Labour was the party for the "little people". I believe that a Labour party should listen to "little people". I never thought I would say this, but I CANNOT VOTE for the Labour candidate in Hendon Constituency. As I believe that the Tory Candidate is even worse, I will be switching my vote to Matthew Harris, Liberal Democrat candidate and I will be actively suggesting that all Tory and Labour voters do the same. We need a change in the House of Commons. We need a new broom and we need all of the tainted MP's who think they've done nothing wrong to go.

To me that means changing the habits of a lifetime to vote for a Lib Dem. If we don't get rid of disease at the heart of British politics, then we'll end up with a third world economy, racked with corruption. Anyone who follows this blog will know all about the shenanigans at Tory Barnet Council, where Matthew Offord was deputy leader until recently.

The Brent Cross planning decision showed the Tories are only interested in "Big" property developers. Andrew Dismore tells us that only "Big" people's complaints matter. I'm Sorry Andrew Dismore and I'm sorry Matthew Offord, but I hope and pray that the electors of Hendon give you both a


Wednesday 25 November 2009

Mike Freer quits as Barnet Council Leader

Mike Freer has announced he's resigned as the Leader of Barnet Council. Lets have a little look at his achievements :-

High Points :-

Staging a Palace Coup to unseat Election winning Former Leader Brian Salinger shortly after the last election.
Flying to the USA at the Taxpayers expense to attend a BT Vital Vision course.
Grooming Leo Bolland for a Fat Cat job under Boris Johnson
Getting the Conservative Party nomination for Finchley and Golders Green
Making Barnet a Four Star Council
Getting lots of lovely allowances such as a £3,000 responsibility allowance for looking after the Borough's cash as Cabinet member for resources

Low Points :-
Losing £27.4 Million in Icelandic Banks as head of Resources
Overspending £11 Million on Aerodrome Road
Spending over £2 Million on consultants reports into Future Shape, with no savings at all delivered
Alienating the populace of Barnet by abolishing Sheltered Housing Wardens
Giving Brian Coleman a £10,000 indemnity from the public purse to lose a Standards battle
Wasting £1.4 Million on obsolete laptops, many of which are still in storage
Taking Barnet back from 4 Star to a 3 Star council

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Mike Freer : Guess who's to blame

Earlier in the week I wrote a blog detailing how Mike Freer, Leader of Barnet Council had described Nick Walkley, the CEO of Barnet Council as "Cack Handed" and "clumsy". He made these remarks to a journalist at the Hendon Times. She duly reported the comments (ie did her job).

Guess what? Regular followers of this blog will know what happens when Mike cocks up big time. He blames someone else. Word has reached the Barnet Eye from trusted sources deep within Barnet Council that Mike is bemoaning the fact that "the Hendon Times stitched him up". Apparently they have made his relationship with Walkley "rather strained". Apparently he'll think twice before "talking to the Times in future". Best of all he told the editor what he thought of him for "putting off the record comments on the internet".

I'd suggest Mike Freer buys a dictionary and looks up the word scoop.  I am rather disappointed that he thinks it's OK to tell a journalist that the bloke he appointed is "cack handed" and "clumsy" but not the people who pay Walkleys wages. As for Walkley, if I were him I'd be deeply suspicious of Freer's denials. I'd ask him this "Is this journalist who wrote the story a close personal friend of Mike Freer, who you'd expect to be discreet". If the answer is NO, then you've just got to wonder what else he's said and who he's told.

Of course Mike, I know you read this blog. Why not just submit a guest blog here to explain the whole sorry saga. Thousands of Barnet readers have clicked on the blog, so it's only fair to let you set the record straight. Let's face it, from your comments, you certainly can't trust the Times to let you get your story over. You can put your case across without fear of editing or other such misrepresentation.

A Lib Dem Party Political Broadcast by Eric Pickles - Conservative MP

What on Earth is going on? I regularly check out many blogs and on my travels I came across one with this Youtube clip. It was made by the Conservative Party and features their campaign planner, MP Eric Pickles, making an impassioned plea for the Lib Dems.

The sad thing is that Mr Pickles doesn't even realise he's doing it. Forward the clip to 1.00 and listen to his description of how the electoral system works in the UK. At the last election, the Tories got 35.7% of the popular vote and 194 seats. Labour got LESS - 35.5% and got 286 seats.

Mr Pickles then goes on to explain that to get a majority, the Tories need to have a double digit lead over the Labour party. I hadn't realised that the Labour party had a 60 seat majority despite polling less votes than the Conservatives. However you look at it, a fairer system of voting would have meant that we didn't have a Blair/Brown government. The Tories have long stated that the "first past the post" system is "better". Does that mean that they think that a Gordon Brown majority would have been better?

I'm not an expert on voting reform, but until I saw Mr Pickles video, I'd never realised how unfair the system actually was. The only party who believe in reform of the voting system are the Lib Dems. Has it occurred to Mr Pickles that he's just made the best advert ever for the Lib Dems? Given the troughing which Tory MP's and their duck houses have been up to, is drawing attention to the fact that the whole system is dodgy a bright move? Yesterday, I detailed how the Lib dem candidate for Hendon, Mr Matthew Harris, may like to remind his Tory and Labour rivals of how they've cocked up Thameslink, the preferred method of commuting for many Hendon residents. I'd suggest that Mr Harris may also like to show any Tories he bumps into, Mr Pickles video, and explains to them that Mr Pickles thinks that a system that gave Blair/Brown a huge majority despite getting less votes than the Tories, is the way to run the country in the year 2010.

What have the Tories got against Hendon?

A rather odd thing happened last night. The Tory candidate for Finchley, Leader of Barnet Council, Mike Freer held a Q&A session for the Finchley Tories with the Leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron.

Where did he hold it? Hasmonean High School for Boys - Holders Hill Road, Hendon. I find it rather odd that the Finchley Tories hold a Q and A for Finchley residents in Hendon? Why not in Finchley? I asked one of my spies whether the Candidate for Hendon, Matthew Offord was in attendence. Nope, seems like he wasn't.  So there was a nice Tory rally for Finchley Tories, in Hendon without the Candidate for Hendon. Got that? How much did these Finchley Tories have to pay for the honour of asking a question? Nothing, it was free.

So what of the poor Tories of Hendon. What if they wanted to meet Mr Cameron on his visit to Hendon. Well the Hendon Conservatives website has this fantastic offer -

 David Cameron is coming to Barnet 23 NOVEMBER -
And You are invited‏    

HCA Sparkling Reception and Supper with the Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP, Leader of the Conservative Party. 6.45pm start. Tickets £100 each. Auction and raffle.
For security reasons, details of the LOCAL venue will be announced one week before the event
For more information please click here.     

So if you are a Finchley Tory, come to Hendon and meet David Cameron for free. If you are a Hendon Tory, it'll cost you £100. Glad to see that the ordinary man in Hendon can get to see Mr Cameron - if he wins the lottery.

We are facing an urban hell

By Brian Coleman

A huge glossy document entitled Cricklewood, Brent Cross and West Hendon Regeneration Development Framework arrived at my flat just before Christmas.

 There we have it in full colour: a future for the western side of our borough involving various New Labour buzzwords such as "Sustainable Community", "Street Hierarchy", "Rapid Transit Systems" and other meaningless tosh designed to provide us with thousands of high-density homes for an ever-expanding population.

Call me old-fashioned, but I like our borough, with its rows of semi-detached houses and gardens and green spaces. I am the first to argue that we need to rip down the dreadful 1960s estates in which some of our council tenants live, but I fail to see the logic of replacing one failing flat-roofed estate with another higher density one.

The current proposals for the Stonegrove estate in Edgware, for example, completely fail to take account of the current environment on the edge of the green belt.

The proposals for West Hendon, including a 24-storey tower block, are inappropriate for the edge of the Welsh Harp, one of only two sites of special scientific interest in the borough, the other being Hampstead Heath. I suppose we should be grateful no greedy developer is suggesting we need social housing in Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Which brings me to Cricklewood. This, we are told, is the largest brownfield site in Greater London. When I was elected to the GLA I was told that development work on King's Cross would begin within months: well, it is four years later and nothing much has happened. The lesson to me is clear: allow development as the market dictates in manageable parcels, acceptable to the local community.

Before anyone tells me that you end up with no infra-structure, then point me to the new roads, improvements in public transport, leisure facilities and education in the document that landed on my front door mat.

Are we seriously suggesting we can accommodate 11, 000 extra residential units and 33, 000 extra vehicles between now and 2016 on the minimal infrastructure improvements proposed?

The real villain behind all this is Ken Livingstone, whose draft Spatial Development Strategy for London puts pressure on the boroughs to accommodate a projected increase in London's population which few experts believe will happen.

He talks of "landmark buildings" and indeed one of more than 40 storeys is proposed for Cricklewood. If you want to see a landmark building in this borough, visit North Finchley and see the monstrosity Labour foisted onto an unwilling community.

I have seen the future - and it is urban hell Let us all commit ourselves to preserving a greener Barnet in 2004 and send over ambitious developers packing.
Brian Coleman is the Mayor of Barnet and GLA member for Barnet & Camden. This article was originally printed in "The Press" on January 8th 2004. Thanks to the NODIE archive for the story and Dont Call Me Dave for the Tip off and most of all, thanks to Brian Coleman for his words of wisdom about overdevelopment in Barnet.


Editors Note : The Barnet Conservative administration, of which Brian Coleman is a key member passed the Brent Cross redevelopment plan last week.

Monday 23 November 2009

Barnet Council is truly a strange place

Ok, lets get this right.

Barnet Tory Councillor wants to spend lots of public money on something which adds no benefit to the service.

Left wing trades Union leader counters with sensible suggestion which will save lots of money.

Barnet is truly a strange place. Is Robert Rams dad a tailor by any chance? Or does he just fantasize about Librarians in uniforms. Sorry, I just don't get this scheme to waste our money at all. There must be a whacky sub plot

There's something in the air in Barnet - an opportunity for the Lib Dems

Something rather strange happened today. I got a massive spike in the number of hits on my blog. The strange thing is, I don't understand why. Normally if I get a day where it's much busier it's because someone has linked to a story, there is a big news story and I've come up in google searches or someone's emailed their mates and said "look at this great blog" or words to that effect.

I thought it was possibly something to do with Andrew Dismore being in the news for his flipping of flat expenses, but strangely more people found the blog today searching for Vanessa Gearson than Dismore. I don't think that this is in any way a vindication of Dismores expenses, I just think people are so sick of him they can't be bothered looking. For my part, I wrote a letter to the Edgware & Mill Hill Times as a Labour Member six years ago telling him that he'd come unstuck. He wrote a letter back to the Times saying that if I was a Labour Party member, he'd never heard of me. He's done a fair bit as a constituency MP so I have fairly mixed views on him, but ultimately, if you carry on like this, it is bound to end in tears. I just wished he'd listened when I told him.

A careful analysis of the searches showed that there are two things people were looking for. Blogs on First Capital Connect and it's rubbish service and the disarray of the Future Shape project. Lots of people were emailing their friends and lots of people connected to Barnet Council were dropping by.

As to First Capital Connect. Tonight they were giving out "emergency timetables" with excuses for the disruption on. The new one is "it takes a year to train up drivers and we've lots of new trains". Here's the question. How long ago did they order the new trains? I suspect that it takes a bit longer than a year for a company to order a brand new fleet of trains. I could understand 5% of the trains not running but 50%? The advice from First Capital Connect? Use the Great Northern Route. It takes me 30 minutes in rush hour to get to Blackfriars on their train. It would take me nearly as long to drive to new Barnet, the nearest GN station. These people really don't know what they were doing.

The Lib Dem candidate for Hendon is Matthew Harris. Unlike Andrew Dismore, no Lib Dem MP's in London have claimed a second home allowance. Labour has had 12 years to sort out these awful train operators and haven't. If I were him, I'd stop by Mill Hill Station and Hendon and speak to a few commuters. They might just listen. If I were Matthew Harris, what would I tell the hard pressed commuters. I'd tell them that in 12 years, the service has got immeasurably worse. I'd tell them that John Prescott said when Labour took power "If we haven't sorted this mess out in 5 years we've failed" when asked about the rail privatisation. And once I'd told them about Labours record, I'd turn to the Tory Party. The local candidate is Matthew Offord. He is one of the architects of the Future Shape program, which is spectacularly unravelling as we speak. Matthew Offord spoke up for warden cuts at cabinet. He smugly told all of the public gallery that he knew better and that wardens weren't needed by many people in sheltered housing. A rather well to do octogenarian turned to me and used language that would make a docker blush at that. She then apologised to me profusely. But most of all, if I were Matthew Harris I'd tell them that rail privatisation was a Tory invention. The whole system was their last big policy initiative. All of the suffering is down to them. Someone asked me on the train who is more to blame, the Tories for bringing it in or Labour for not getting rid of it?

The sad truth is that they both are. I've not got a clue what the Lib Dems plans are with relation to Thameslink, but THEY CANNOT DO A WORSE JOB THAN THE TORIES OR LABOUR.

I wrote to Andrew Dismore about the awful FCC service. I printed his response on the BLOG.

Here is a highlight from his reply :-

Station refurbishment

Though this is not uppermost in passengers’ minds at present, I was pleased to see on my visit to Mill Hill, the following improvements over the last year:

· platforms resurfaced;

· new information screens;

· new lighting;

· new shelters;

· new platform name signs;

· removal of the graffiti on the platform canopy.

I added no comment as I was livid. How can the man be so out of touch? I read the paper today to find out the reason. He has a nice comfy flat in Notting Hill Gate. He doesn't have to suffer the crap service. How long does it take to get from Notting Hill Gate to Westminster? TFL says this

  • Departing:  Monday  23  November  2009 at: 20:29
  • From:  Notting Hill Gate
  • To:  Westminster
  • Restrictions:

How's about from Westminster to Mill Hill, near where his other flat is?

Journey Summary

  • Departing:  Monday  23  November  2009 at: 20:31
  • From:  Westminster
  • To:  Mill Hill Broadway
  • Restrictions:

Problems are currently reported on this route

I'm sorry but anyone who thinks they should get a £65,000 subsidy to save themselves less than 20 minutes on their journey really has lost touch with reality. I suspect that if a few more MP's used the service, that little message in red under the journey may appear slightly less often.

So what am I saying here. I honestly don't believe that anyone who is aware of the track record of Matthew Offord at Barnet Council or Andrew Dismore in his expenses shenanigans could vote for either of these two. If I was Matthew Harris, the Lib Dem candidate, I'd tell everyone in the Borough my story. I really hope Matthew Harris does and I hope that EVERY SINGLE disaffected voter in Barnet listens to him, because that other party of protest, that I'm not going to name, will be a big beneficiary if the disgruntled Tories and Labourites stay at home. If you are tempted to stay at home for the next elections, think again. I'm not endorsing anyone here, but with two such tainted candidates, I suspect that for many people in Barnet, there really is only one choice at the moment.

"Future Shape will fail because Barnet's Torys lack the balls to do it"

One of the advantages of putting my email contact in my profile details, is that it's easier for people to get in touch and tell me all about what is going on in Barnet. One thing I'd not really considered at all is the perspective of the "highly paid" consultants who are advising Barnet Council on Future Shape. As the project descends further into disrepute and farce, this poses a real problem for these consultants who have spent months if not years developing the program.

Once these guys finish at Barnet, they still have mortgages to pay, children's school fees to pay, luxury cars to fill with premium grade petrol, holidays in the Maldives and Mauritius to go on, champagne and caviar to snack on. You get the picture. Trouble is, no one wants to be associated with failure.How good does this entry sound on the CV.

2007-2009 - Barnet Council Future Shape Project.

£2.5 Million project to redesign Council processes. Project descended into farce and Council Leader had spat in press with CEO over project. Net savings delivered. Nothing.

Of course the CV wouldn't say that. I guess that one thing a £1,450 a day consultant knows how to do is write a good CV.The sad thing is that a proper system of democratic scrutiny and open administration would probably deliver far greater savings as has been demonstrated by Windsor and Eton's Tory council. I digress though.

Thing is that the people who have been paid a kings ransom to put this together aren't rich enough to retire any time soon. They need to put a positive spin on it and do a bit of damage limitation. What better way than to get "The blogs of Barnet" on your side? If Freer and Walkley are not up to the job of selling Future Shape, why not sell it through the blogs. Or at least put the case across. Which Blog would be the best one to speak to? I know that one written by the thick Punk Rocker from Mill Hill. He's too stupid to ask any of the obvious questions and everyone reads his blog.

So I find myself chatting to an architect of Future Shape. Alison Moore and Jack Cohen were unable to get a single jot of information as to how Easycouncil and Future Shape may save money. It seems there are huge savings for Councils to make, if only the Tories had the Cojones to take a few tough decisions and actually go out and sell the scheme.

Here's a couple of examplesof how the Consultants would save the Taxpayers of Barnet a Fortune.

Future Shape Bin Collection. You get a half size wheelie bin. The Council Collects the rubbish every two weeks. If you have a requirement for a bigger bin or a more regular collection, fine you just order a bigger bin or leave your bin out on the week you don't normally have a collection. You can order a "special collection" via the Council website or a text message. The Council will come and take your rubbish and charge you £5 for the privelidge. Your bin will have an RFID chip (rather like an Oyster Card) which the dustman swipes as he collects it and the money pops straight out of your bank account.If you want, you can have a bin collection every day ! It may cost a few quid, but hey so what. If you have a bigger bin, then you get charged £2.50 for the regular 2 weekly collection as you are a waste generator. Once people get the idea, they'll soon adjust their behaviour and the Council will save a packet. Your Council Tax will plummet.  Why should people who generate little rubbish subsides the rest of us. That is how the argument goes. So why won't Freer come out and tell us that he wants to do this? Well, there is a general Election next year and he doesn't think it will go down well.

The whole concept is something called nudging. It's "gently" persuading people to do things which are good for the Council's finances by imposing financial penalties. Some may call it "The Nanny State" gone mad, but me being a thick punk rock guitarist wouldn't say such a thing. Perhaps the finest example of this blue sky thinking is the scheme to improve staff attendance. Smokers on average take 8 days a year more sick leave than non smokers. Not only that, but with the advent of smoke free offices, they take on average 1/2 an hour a day away from their desks having a crafty puff. This is the equivalent of 17 days. If you are a Non smoker and the bloke next to is a smoker, he gets in total 25 days a year off, which you don't. This means that the holiday entitlement for a Barnet Council employ is more than doubled if they smoke. In effect there are two sets of terms and conditions for Barnet workers. Those who smoke and those who don't. Those who smoke get a far better deal, but they are killing themselves. Their sickness has to be covered by agency staff, or taxpeyers will not get the service. So how do you "nudge" staff to give up smoking? Well you could go carrot or you could go stick. A carrot? Only give your non smoking staff a couple of extra days paid holiday a year. The stick approach. You make all staff who smoke and who wish to take smoking breaks "clock off" whilst they are having a cigarette break. For each cigarette break, they have to work 15 minutes longer at the end of the day. If they want to stop smoking you help them. If all Barnet staff gave up smoking, a fortune would be saved in sickness and holidays and the public would get a far better service.

This is the type of blue sky cost saving is what the Future Shape program was meant to identify. So will they be implementing this scheme - "No chance". Why "because, when it comes down to it they lack the balls".

My observations. Firstly on the refuse collection. Single people already get a rebate on Council Tax. This was meant to compensate them for producing less rubbish. It's all very well, but when you have children, sick and incontinent adults etc, you produce more waste. How do you factor this in. How much will a new fleet of wheelie bins, an It system to manage it, etc all cost. I'm all for cutting down on waste production, but it will hit poor, large families hardest. I wouldn't want two weeks worth of stinky nappies outside my house in a heatwave.

As to the Future Shape approach to smoking. Like all such things, I see this as a simplistic solution to a difficult problem. Sure,it's not fair that smokers get 25 days a year away from their job paid. It would be good for them to give up, but is it your bosses job to impose this. My guess is that the existing apprasal system should already address this. I'd have thought that people who are constantly sick and constantly away from their desk would get lower pay rises than those who are diligent. if that isn't the case, then the process needs fixing. You don't need to be a highly paid consultant to figure that out. I wonder why they didn't jointly work on a "quit smoking" scheme with the trades unions. After all this has to be good for the members.

So now I've seen the Future Shape of Barnet Council, what do I think. I think it's great, if you want extra bureacracy, stealth taxes, nanny state interference in people's lifestyles, smelly rubbish rotting in your neighbours gardens for two weeks, constant bonfires and pollution as people burn waste, disputes as neighbours fill your bin up at midnight. One of the terms of the deal whereby I got an off the record briefing was that it was "completely off the record". I'm a man of my word, so I'll stick to the deal, but all I can say is that this whole process really should be opened up to public scrutiny and discussion. It scares the hell out of me.

Saturday 21 November 2009

Barnet Easycouncil - Then and Now

Then (click on article to make more readable) - Note the author of the article

Now (click on article to make more readable)

There it is in black and white. Would you buy a used car off this man. Would you even buy a tub of whelks off him? Mike Freers Council have spent millions of pounds on Consultants to draw up the future shape scheme, but they don't even know if emptying your bin is a core service or whether Easyjet is a good model for the service.

As ever, Mike Freer just chooses to blame everyone else. This time it's the Council CEO who he appointed - Nick Walkley. The only question is whether the Council will keep employing a man who now has no credibility following Freers "Clumsy and Cack Handed" comments, or whether he'll get a massive payoff to walk and protect Freer, like all of the other Barnet Council Scapegoats in the last few months (Thanks to DCMD and Mr Constable for the clips).

The wheels fall off Mike Freer's bus of trust

The blog I just submitted on truth is one I've been working on for weeks. I had planned for it to be the only blog I posted this weekend. I wanted to give it a bit of exposure. Then Don't Call Me Dave emailed me drawing my attention to shenanigans at the Barnet Times website. Stories have been going up and down more regularly than a pair of whores drawers. It seems the problem is that Mike Freer has been putting his foot in it left right and centre and he doesn't like the press alerting us to the fact. In my previous blog, I talked about trust and how important it is to be open to ideas which challenge you. Most importantly, I talked about how damaging it is, when the truth is hidden.

Mike Freer would be wise to consider this. DCMD kindly emailed me with a screenshot of a story written by Sarah Cosgrove, which was posted at  3.45pm. Here are a couple of key extracts from Ms Cosgrove's story

So the elected head of Barnet Council thinks that the bloke he picked to run the council, Nick Walkley and who we the taxpayer pay the best part of £200,000 per annum, is clumsy and cackhanded? Not only does he think this, he told a journalist. Sarah goes on to quote Mr Freer in her article

So lets get this right. Mike Freer thinks that the bloke running the council is too clumsy and cack handed to be trusted to speak publicly about the councils bin collections?  Now having said such a thing, imagine Mike Freer's horror when the Times published his comments. The story was taken down shortly after. Why? Doesn't Mike want us to know what he said? Doesn't he want us to know what he thinks of his CEO?

The sad truth is that Mike Freer has run Barnet into the ground. All of the trust is gone. He can't trust his CEO to speak about his plans, he can't even trust himself. At the scrutiny meeting in the week, his Tory colleagues asked no questions at all. Why? Because they all know that the whole thing is a farce and the only way they can get away with it is by pleading the fifth and saying nothing.

I spoke to Jack Cohen yesterday about the scrutiny meeting. He said that both he and Alison Moore submitted questions weeks ago. He had an email to prove it. Freer said he only got the questions a couple of days before, so couldn't answer them properly.

What is going on? The wheels have well and truly fallen off Mike Freer's bus of trust. If anyone is interested, email me BY CLICKING HERE and I'll forward you the full screenshots of the stories which have been pulled or altered. Thanks to Not The Barnet Times for alerting me to this sorry shambles.

Are you scared by the truth?

"Jesus died for somebodies sins but not mine" This is how Patti Smith starts "Gloria" on her fantastic rendition of Van Morrison's Gloria. The clip above is taken from a gig in Germany in 1979. This is one of my favourite tracks. Now given that I'm a practising Roman Catholic, this may surprise you. How can I like a track which seems to contradict a basic tenent of faith? It's easy. It doesn't. Signing up to follow Jesus is a matter of choice. If Patti Smith decides that Jesus didn't die for her sins and she wants to keep them, thats her free will and her choice. It doesn't stop the song being a great track. What it does do is it challenges my own relationship with my behaviour. As such it can only be a positive thing. You see, I'm not scared of the truth.

One of the things which I can't get my head around as someone who believes in something after this life is "how interventionist is God". Does prayer actually work? Do only believers get miracles? When I was a kid, one of our teachers told me that the reason certain football teams were more successful than others, was because they had more Catholic supporters praying for them to win. He also explained that was why Brzil won the World cup and USSR hadn't. If you look at the list of World Cup winners, there is definately a tendency for teams from strongly Roman Catholic countries to do well. Sadly I can't buy into the theory that it's devine intervention (hand of God or not). Another teacher told me you should never pray for a football team to win, as you'd use up your allocation of miracles. That would seem extraordinarily cruel. Can you imagine having just prayed for Arsenal to score the winning penalty in the FA Cup final, and getting home to find your wife has cancer and you've used up your supply of miracles.

One of the blogs I follow is Blurred Clarity, by Daniel Hoffman-Gill. Daniel is an Athiest who regularly writes believer bashing blogs. I suspect that Daniels distate for religion is driven by the neocon fundamentalist Christian Right. I suspect that if most Christians were left wing proponents of Liberation Theology, who sought to right the worlds wrongs and used their faith as the driving force, he'd probably have less "bash the Christian" blogs and more gardening tips or whatever. I suspect he'd still be an athiest, but his well written pieces, which generally highlight the stupidity of the religious right, wouldn't find the fuel they need. I doubt that he'd have much inspiration if he had to write blogs about why William Wilberforce christian morality was a bad thing. I enjoy Daniels blogs because they are challenging, funny and well written.  He says many things I actually 100% agree with as well as a few things I disagree with. If I had the choice of having to change Daniel's view of the world or a "God hates Fags" American bible basher, I'd change the bible basher every time. You see I think they are revolting and obnoxious and do more damage than just about anything. I'm quite happy to indulge in rational debate. You can have that with Daniel, but sadly you can't with the neocon right.

Ultimately it all comes down to this question. Are you scared by the truth? The Catholic Church has had many problems and alienated many people because it has sought to hide the truth. A few examples - paedophile priests, The earth going around the sun, to name a few. I strongly believe in the power of the truth. I believe that my faith makes me a better person. I go to church to be reminded how lucky I am and to do my bit to fight injustice. Yes I do need reminding. It has made me a better person, thats why I persist with the institution for all it's faults. All I really want is a "better church". One that spends more time fighting injustice in the world and a bit less time indulging stupid neocons.

We started this blog with Patti Smith singing "Gloria". We'll end it with a clip of "Liars Beware" by Richard Hell and the Voidoids. Whenever I wonder about whether I should tell a few porkies to get on I listen to this track. Here's the lyrics to help you understand.

by Richard Hell and the Voidoids

Look out liars and you highlife scum
who gotta keep your victims poor and dumb--
Your motives and your methods are not disguised
by your silk, soap, sex, or your smiling lies.

Look out here
you pompous jerk
Look out here
I go berserk

Well I guess you put me in my place
but I won't forget your stupid face

They gave you power cuz they knew your needs--
soprano boys get talent when you shoot your seeds.
Well you laugh to hear what your best friends say--
Old man they laugh when you walk away.

Look out chief
ridiculous creep
Look out thief
you'll lose your teeth

Well you got power, now there's competition
and your blind side's turned to the boys with a mission.

You were sixty-five when you wiggled out--
your mind all twisted and your mom all shout.
I'm a man with his share of excess nice
but it can't be spared for drooling lice.

Look out jerk
you ancient slut
I can't endure
Your smirking smut

Well life is short so don't even try
to bother waving as we pass you by.

Friday 20 November 2009

Crap testicles connect - Andrew Dismore's updates

Mr Roger Tichborne

Our Ref: Transport e-Update 8.3: Thameslink disruption report 2
Please quote reference on all correspondence

20th November 2009

Dear Mr Tichborne,

I promised to keep you informed about the current Thameslink dispute, which is disrupting services from Mill Hill and Hendon stations.

I attach a copy of the letter of 13th November, which I received from the First Capital Connect overall head, Mary Grant. Yesterday (19th November), I met with a Thameslink senior executive, Larry Heyman, at Mill Hill station, to discuss the dispute, and also to get a more general brief on Thameslink plans.

The management and ASLEF, the drivers’ union, were meeting yesterday to try to resolve the dispute.

The background, as I think people now generally know, is that FCC ‘inherited’ the drivers’ contract from the Thameslink company, who lost the franchise to run the service a few years ago.

This contract provides for a four-day, 35-hour week, with five continuous days off every three weeks. The basic driver’s pay is £38,000. Average pay, with overtime and rest day working, is £50,000, and some earn £60,000.

Up till now, the shift pattern has not been a problem, as drivers have wanted to work more overtime than is actually available.

The dispute is over pay. FCC have offered a two-year deal, for the current financial year and next year. The current year is a zero rise; next year, the offer is either 3% or RPI plus 1% (whichever is higher), plus a one-off payment of £200 in April. The drivers want a rise for the current year.

The drivers have withdrawn their voluntary overtime working, which is needed to run the railway even in peak hours. I find it bizarre and incompetent, that peak hour services are dependent on such an arrangement, even if it has been satisfactory until now.

As a consequence, FCC have issued a new timetable, which is the one they can run based on drivers’ contractual hours. I am informed that FCC’s users’ group encouraged this, to give the travelling public a degree of certainty, during the disruption. If some drivers do report for overtime, extra trains can run – yesterday there were 8 extra, beyond the reduced timetable.

This timetable provides two trains per hour at all stations. The reduction in peak hours is just less than 50% of normal service; over the day as a whole, the service is running at 62% of normal. This pattern will continue, until the drivers resume normal working.

I have stressed, in no uncertain terms, that this is an unacceptable situation, and the importance of resolving the dispute both in the short term; and in the longer term, sorting out this ridiculous shift pattern.

Station refurbishment

Though this is not uppermost in passengers’ minds at present, I was pleased to see on my visit to Mill Hill, the following improvements over the last year:

· platforms resurfaced;

· new information screens;

· new lighting;

· new shelters;

· new platform name signs;

· removal of the graffiti on the platform canopy.

Further improvements I have raised as needed, are:

· weather protection for the ‘island’ platform shelter;

· better cleaning of the steps and underpass;

· better lighting in the Bunns Lane car park;

· train information screen at the Bunns Lane car park station entrance;

· better cleaning of the bus station/car park area.

Thameslink modernisation programme

The £5.5bn Government investment programme is progressing well. Work to extend the Mill Hill platform was completed earlier this year, and the platform exterior programme elsewhere is on time, as is the major rebuild at Blackfriars. The northern part of the line modernisation will be complete by 2012, as planned.

23 of the 24 new ‘electrostar’ trains are now in service, with the last arriving by early December (these trains are used for Mill Hill and Hendon in the early morning and late evening).

Since March, longer eight car trains are used in the morning peak hours, providing morning and evening peak services with 2,400 extra seats. Since March, FCC have also been able to put in service an extra six trains, transferred from Southern.

I hope this update has been of help to you, to know what is going on. As and when I hear anything more, I’ll let you know.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Dismore MP
Labour Member of Parliament for Hendon

Thursday 19 November 2009

Brent Cross planning permission granted

By John Cox

Brent Cross Cricklewood was passed by Barnet Council tonight.
Pressure is now on Boris to reject it (unlikely!) and the Sec. of State to call it in.

Did several lobbying sets of leaflets to all councillors, and spoke to committee yesterday.
Several accepted that approval would mean no light rail ever through Brent Cross. Developer said today to the committee that "light-rail was still possible". (His speech lasted the twenty minutes allowed to the second. That's rehearsal for you.)

There were several mentions of light-rail today. It was agreed to add an informatory to the approval that "the light-rail people" would be consulted by the on-going transport working parties (three-letter acronyms that I have forgotten). 

We will fight to overturn approval entirely, but also start a damage limitation exercise so that ON-ROAD light-rail might be possible in the years ahead. Seven-and-a-half hours of committee meetings in two days!


John Cox is a campaigner against the Brent Cross redevelopment scheme and has been actively lobbying for the Brent Cross Light Rail Scheme.

Guest contributors are always welcome at Barnet Eye. Click on my profile and use the email link to send me your story.

First Crapital Conmen - Your chance to tell them what you think

As ever the primary purpose of The Barnet Eye is to tell all you lovely people out there how to get your message over. Well, our favourite train operator, that one which is run by a bloke who lives in a Castle in Scotland and gets the best part of a Million quid a year in "compensation" for his efforts and exertions are having two "meet the manager" forums where you can tell them what a great service they run. I doubt Mr Moir Lockheart will honour us with his presence, but you never know. CLICK HERE FOR FULL DETAILS

These sessions are your chance to let them know what you think of the company. Just remember, whilst we've all struggled to get in and out, they are actually making more profits (bigger bonuses for Lockheart) as they've not been paying drivers any overtime. Who carries the can? The passengers.

You may ask why they brought in an emergency timetable? Well this means they have to pay less compensation because it only applies to timetabled trains. Kerrrr-Ching !!!!!!

A good week for Brian Coleman

Brian Coleman has been in the local news this week. He's been had nice things said about him in Barnet blogs, he's been mentioned in the newspapers in a positive way and he's had his picture taken with the great and the good. He's even been on record as having paid for his own dinner.

Firstly, which Barnet blog has been saying nice things about our Mayor CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT

The Barnet Times quoted Brian Coleman speaking at the Brent Cross redevelopment hearing. For once I totally agree with Mr Coleman.
Cllr Brian Coleman, Barnet and Camden London Assembly member: Said the development is “too tall and dense” and warned it could end up like the Grahame Park Estate. Accused the developers of having “no vision” and “no imagination” adding “Going high where the maximum profit is, what we do not need is more flats in this borough”
As to his hobknobbing the great and the good, Click HERE and HERE for some lovely pictures of Brian on a Schmoozathon. Leader of the Council Mike Freer assured the Barnet Blog information service that Brian Coleman stumped up for his own dinner.

After such a marvellous week for our dearly beloved Mayor, what could possibly go wrong? If even the Barnet Eye can't find anything bad to say about Brian Coleman, then maybe he's turned over a new leaf. To celebrate this change of heart, Don't Call me Dave has put together this fascinating music video chronicling the exploits of Barnets beloved first citizen. Don't miss it, this is a treat.

50 is the new 20

I read a couple of great blogs recently. First Vicki writes about being 45 and whether she'll make the big ton. Got me thinking about age. Then I read this post from Ms Marmite about her teenage daughters self image issues. This got me thinking about the old adage that youth is wasted on the young. In just under 3 years, I'll be the big 50. I'd not given it a moments thought until I read these blogs, but the combination of the two made me think long and hard. Does it daunt me? Nope, not at all really. In many ways, I'm looking forward to it. I'm a relatively fit and healthy 47 year old. I can still kick a football around and I still play guitar in a great band. I still drink too much on occasion and I still know how to enjoy a party.

If truth be told, I'll be glad to wave goodbye to my 40's. Myself and my good lady have lost both our mums and her dad in this period. My mum had a stroke in 2000 and passed away in 2008. In that period there was probably not a day I didn't worry. I'm sure that is where any grey hairs came from. Clare's dad went senile and passed away a couple of months before. To cap it, at the start of the year her mum, a youthful and lovely lady of 75, developed lung cancer and died in a matter of months. Truly horrible. I suppose the only blessing is that we are free from the worries that this brought.

Our kids have been little, requiring much time and effort. As we approach our 50's they are older and more self sufficient. Eldest daughter is a very talented swimmer. If she keeps it up, maybe she'll be a contender at the next but one olympics. Middle daughter is a talented artist. I suspect that she'll be at art college. My boy is a great goalie. I'm looking forward to the time when he's big enough to join us for a kickabout. I'm sure he'll be a far better player than I've ever been. Yeah sure, it can all go wrong in a million ways, but I'm not a gloom and doom merchant, I'm an optimist. I look forward to the good outcomes, not the bad ones.

I've spent 30 years building my studio business up and I'm hoping that the next decade will be the one where I can really reap the rewards. In the last 10 years we've had some great artists emerge from our rehearsal rooms, most notably Amy Winehouse and Kate Nash. I look forward to the next Brit award winner emerging. It really gives me a buzz to see someone on telly and think "Yesterday they were in the studio". As for my own music, I believe that musically our band is better than it's ever been. I see no reason why we shouldn't get better still. Who knows, maybe we'll even have a hit. With more time on my hands to write and play, I certainly hope we can make some great music.

Some of us, with middle age have a mid life crisis. Maybe that will come, but I doubt it. I got all of my serious partying out of my system in my late teens & early twenties. I don't have a feeling of life having passed me by, so I'm very happy to have a great woman who I'm ecstatically happy with. Sure we bicker all the time, but we've stood together through thick and thin. We split for a while before children and realised we were better together. It will be great to have more time together to enjoy each others company. At the moment, eldest daughters swimming makes it hard to have a social life (getting up at 4.30 am is a great way to stay sober).

As to health, 3 years ago I was diagnosed with a potentially serious back problem, following a stress fracture. I responded by joining a gym and going every day. Since then, I'm probably fitter and healthier than I've ever been. Yesterday I rowed 10km in 41. 24 - not bad. Tonight I'll be playing 5 a side football. The oldest guy in our team is 60 and he's an example to us all.

So what do I intend doing in my 50's. Playing lots of music, watching lots of music ,keeping fit, playing a bit of football, enjoying some of the money I've worked so hard earning, spending more quality time with my good lady. I hope to still drink too much sometimes, still eat too much on occasion. I hope that I spend lots of time watching my kids swim, paint, act, play football. In short I'm hoping it will be a hoot. A hoot without all of that teenage angst and inexperience. You may ask, will I still be writing a blog. Dunno, I most certainly will if I still enjoy it.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Leader Listens? it's a bit hard with the comments turned off !

The Leader of Barnet Council has a blog, paid for by the taxpayer (not like this blog which is free). Why does he have it? Supposedly to engage in two way dialog with the taxpayers of Barnet (ie me and you). Now you'd think that calling it Leader Listens means he'd welcome comments. You'd think he'd LISTEN to them. Well rather like the old Stalinist Communist Newspaper Pravda (translates to "Truth"). It is actuallty the total opposite of what it says on the tin. I left a comment on there a couple of weeks ago and I've been checking in to see if Mike ever printed it.

Well not only has he not printed it, he's turned comments off completely. Check out the screen shot

You can click here to see LEADERLISTENS.COM in all it's glory. In this post Mike Freer claims he has nothing to hide in his expenses. Well there is one thing he definately wants to hide - My comments. If you were wondering what the question was that Mike was so reticent about answering, click here to see the post with the comment saved from my Blog.

How long can Mike go on calling it Leader Listens, before he realises what a prize plonker he's starting to look? It's quite simple Mike, just tell us what this entertainment was and be done with it. What is there to hide?