Tuesday 31 May 2011

Mike Freer MP - Barnet's ugliest MUG !!!!!!

I guess it had to happen. Someone has created a website so you can rate your MP in terms of shaggability


So how did our MP's do? Well clear winner was Theresa Villiers MP who crept into the top 20 at #20 with  a stonking 6777 votes. Second in Barnet is Matthew Offord, at #118 (724 people wanted to shag him) which means that when the most minging MP in Barnet is none other than Mike Freer MP, who finished at #254 with 511 votes. My advice to Matthew Offord is get Max in the picture next time, that will do wonders for your look. As to Mike Freer, a makeover is well overdue. He's still using the same old picture from the Easycouncil photo. My advice? Go and borrow Robert Rams Thunderbirds outfit. The hat will hide the receding hairline and people will think you have a GSOH.

As for top twenty Tessie - no surprise for the Barnet Eye. Regular readers will know that some naughty wag spread rumours around that Theresa Villiers MP was actually a backing singer in my band, the False Dots. Needless to say, this rumour is wholly untrue, but the stardust has obviously sprinkled on Tess accounting for her top 20 finish. Just think how high she'd have finished if they'd said she was the bassplayer !  Not that we like to trivialise politics here at the Barnet Eye of course.

Victimhood and Barnet Council

Small minded people with little experience of life. What sort of person thinks removing wardens from sheltered housing is in any way civilised. What sort of person thinks that closing libraries is a good thing and that the people who object to it are a rabble. One of our cherished Conservative Councillors once claimed that there was a "culture of victimhood" in the lower classes ("Chav's" as they are now so lovingly known). I was reminded of a guy my Dad new. He was an real East Ender made good. Slogged his nuts off and became extremely wealthy. He sent his two daughters to posh private schools. He didn't want them to suffer the same social stigma he'd suffered. He wanted them to "know how to talk proper". His cunning plan paid off rather too well. By the time they both finished University, they wanted nothing at all to do with their common as muck Mum and Dad.

My Dad was of the opinion that snobbery was the most repulsive of the symptoms of social climbers. Sadly it strikes me that Barnet Council is overrun with such people. Read the comments on this Hendon Times story, if you want to see a good example :-


If you have a look at the picture at the top of the Story, you'll see a large group of people, mainly children, mums & old ladies. In short the type of people who use the library most. One commenter who has the hallmark turn of phrase of a well known Barnet Councillor, describes the group as a rabble. The group were protesting against Councillor Robert Ramsbottom and his proposal to shut Friern Barnet library. The Tories invented the term "big society" to mean citizens getting involved in the decision making process. Sadly the Barnet Tories hate this concept. They prefer passive victims who would sit around complaining. One of the people in the picture, who rather objected to being called a rabble is Kim. He asked me to publicise their petition - http://petitions.barnet.gov.uk/Saveourlibrary/  -

Please sign this if you care about the library. I don't buy into the concept that Barnet is full of victims, who take a masochistic delight in being shafted by this Tory Council. I just happen to think that without the "wheels of power" that the council has, it is hard to get organised. I will say this though, people are getting organised. Many are natural Conservatives who are sick of being crapped on. When I started blogging about Barnet Council, no one was saying anything. I only started the blog by accident  (it was meant to be about football and music, but I got a big response to an article about the Council). Now there are a whole stack of fine blogs, all of who are far better bloggers than I. There are thousands of people who have protested against the Council. There are all manner of active single issue pressure groups. The ruling Tories are a highly complacent bunch. They think that they are guaranteed control of the Council, because Barnet is a naturally Conservative area. Myself and my fellow bloggers are watching the Conservative Leadership contest with interest. The Tories have an opportunity to change tack and elect a sensible and competent administrator, who will end the war on the citizens of Barnet. If they don't, there will be a few people having a rather interesting meeting to discuss a few notes, I have on the back of a fag packet in my pocket, which has a rather interesting strategy to tie all of this up.

I am making this appeal to the Tory Councillors of Barnet. Elect someone sensible and competent and let me throw away this fag packet, so I can return to blogging about music and football. If you don't, we have three years in which to deliver a blow to ensure that sense prevails in Barnet. I suspect that three years will be time a plenty.

P.S Friern Barnet Library campaign -  Twitter: @SaveFriernBtLib and  Facebook group: Save Friern Barnet Liby .

Sunday 29 May 2011

Barnet Council attempt to sneak through another Library review on the sly

Barnet Council are up to their tricks again. They have sneakily launched another Library consultation. Given the fact that I organised the petition, with 7,000 names on to oppose the cuts, and spoke at the cabinet meeting where the review was discussed, I would reasonably have expected to be notified. Of course, the last thing Councillor Robert Ramsbottom, who is leading the review wants is my opinions, or the general public to be aware of his consultation. I urge everyone who has signed the library petition to participate in this review


I am disgusted that this has been sneaked out in such an underhand manner. If you click on this link,


you will see that there is no press release announcing the review. Ramsbottom should be sacked for trying to pull a stunt like this. Sadly rumour has it that Councillor Andrew Harper wants to make him Deputy Leader.

Please fill in the survey and make full use of the comments boxes.

Of course it is up to you what to put, but I used the opportunity to say that I objected to the closure of Friern Barnet Library and to say that I object to the replacement of paid staff with unpaid (and often untrained) volunteers. Lets face it, the Councillors who are pushing this are paid for their "work".

Champions League Final 2010-2011 - Football was the winner !

When the playoffs are finished, we'll announce our season awards. It has been a truly memorable season. Last nights Champions League final was a display of how to play proper football. Barcelona were truly awesome and played Manchester United off the park. It was truly a privilige to watch such a performance. Often finals have failed to spark, but last nights match was a classic. The statistics do not lie. Barca passed the ball around United for virtually the whole match. United had the first five minutes and Rooney scored a superb goal, but for the rest of the game, they were chasing shadows. How do you play against such a team? I suspect that Sir Alex Ferguson won't be the only manager having nightmares last night. I can't imagine that Jose Mourinho was too chuffed with what happened.

Sir Alex hasn't enjoyed his two visits to Wembley in 2011. United were 2nd best in both games. At the FA Cup Semi final, United started well and could have scored twice in the first 25 minutes, but then looked tired and jaded and ultimately couldn't cope with the physical power of a Manchester City team, who simply looked like they wanted it more. Last night, United again started well, but this lasted about five minutes. In the cold light of day, United have had a good season. They won the premiership, came runners up in the champions league and the Glaziers have undoubtedly banked a few hundred million more. The dilemma for the Glaziers is what next. Even if they gave Sir Alex £200 million, would they get anywhere near Barca any time soon? I doubt it.  Fergie's last target, to overhaul Liverpool's total of five European Cups looks as elusive as ever.

Realistically, the only team who might have stopped Barca this season were Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid. After the Spanish cup final, I thought this was a realistic possibility. Fortunately in the battle between Football and Anti Football, Football won and Real got a well deserved spanking. At least United tried to play football, even though it did them no good whatsoever. If you are going to get a hiding, at least do it with dignity.

Perhaps the most ominous thing for the rest of football is that this Barca team look as if they are only just starting. There was talk the Guardiola may leave Barca. If he does, unless he wants to start a career outside football, he must be mad. Would anyone bet against Barca being the first team to retain the trophy in the Champions League era?

So what message does last nights match send to the rest of Football? Hopefully to play the game properly. Pass the ball to feet, play with your head up, keep moving and play the game in the right spirit. I can't remember a single occasion where the physio was on the pitch giving treatment following a bad tackle. Even more pleasing was the lack of hystrionics and rolling around on the floor. All of the goals came from open play, rather than well drilled set pieces. I just hope that some of the billionaires and oligarcs look at the match, look how Barca have evolved and realise that such a team cannot be built overnight. Last year was not Barca's year in the Champions League, but they stuck by Guardiola. Look what happened.

Saturday 28 May 2011

Viva the war on bolloxology !!!!!!

Today the Barnet Eye commits itself to the war on Bolloxology. I have been feeling jaded by the unrelenting grind of opposing the pseudo management Bollox spouted endlessly by highly paid consultants employed by Barnet Council and the dim councillors who have fallen under their spell. Every so often, I need something to inspire me and revive my flagging spirits. Today was one of those days.

One of the leaders in the global war on bolloxology is Ben Goldacre, who writes the Bad Science column in the Guardian. Todays piece is a masterpiece. This describes how children as young as nine have exposed highly paid bolloxologists - http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/may/28/bad-science-goldacre-brain-gym?CMP=twt_fd

It is quite incredible just how much complete utter bullshit is not only tolerated, but actively encouraged in our schools. What is even worse is that this costs us a fortune. I have come to the conclusion that it is high time schools put cynicism on the national curriculum. We should teach children to challenge that which they find suspicious, dubious or scientifically unsound. Teachers should be able to argue their points. If they can't they shouldn't be teaching. I well recall the way I was told time and time again "I'm right, because I'm right" at school. It wouldn't have been so bad, but more often than not they were utterly, completely wrong.

Anyway I'm off to watch the Champions League final. My prediction -  3-1 to Barcelona - how do I know? I feel it in my bones.

Matthew Offord - Soup or Injunctions

Hendon MP, Matthew Offord has been making quite a name for himself recently. He was asked to give an interview to newsnight to discuss the subject, bit sadly was already busy. One can only speculate as to why Matthew is so fascinated in the subject. The Barnet Eye has it's own theory. As everyone in Barnet knows, the Prime Minister, David Cameron is often known to seek the advice of our MP, whilst dining in the commons canteen. We can only speculate that the interest started during one of these conversations. Maybe it went something like this.  Imagine the scene. A troubled David Cameron is pondering the issues of the day in the canteen, when Matthew walks past.

Prime Minister : Offord, come here now.

MO : Yes sir, what would you like?

PM : Superinjunctions? What's your advice?

MO : Go for the soup, the carrot and corriander is good, as is the french onion. I've not tried the injunctions, is that a french dish?

PM : Thank you Offord, I can always rely on you to bring a chink of sunshine in an otherwise cloudy day, now piss off.

MO : Yes sir, thank you sir

The Barnet Eye wishes to make it quite clear that the above conversation is a complete work of fiction and we are quite sure that the Prime Minister really holds Matthew Offord and his opinions on both the subject of soup and superinjunctions in the highest esteem.

Matthew Offord MP - Soup Waiter: An Apology

Every Friday, the Barnet Eye produces a Friday joke, in an effort to cheer up and entertain our readers. Following our joke yesterday, I have been contacted by sources close to No 10 Downing Street, who advised me that when Barack Obama attended no 10 Downing Street, President Obama and the Prime Minister David Cameron, hosted a barbeque. As such, no soup was served and their was no need for soup waiters.

This blog is happy to issue the following correction :

The Barnet Eye acknowledges that President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron hosted a bar-b-que during the recent state visit. We are happy to point out that no soup was served and that the hosts are fully acquainted with "proper bar-b-que etiquette", where people walk around eating burnt sausages in buns. Furthermore we are happy to state that Matthew Offord at no time during the event server the president, the prime minister or anyone else with soup.

The Barnet Eye further wishes to state that any blog entitled "The Friday Joke" is just that and should not be taken seriously. If you want to follow Hendon's most famous soup waiter and "part time" MP, we thoroughly recommend his twitter feed - http://twitter.com/#!/HendonMP, and we wish his little doggy Max a speedy recovery from his recent encounter with a bag of rat poison - we like doggies at the Barnet Eye

Friday 27 May 2011

The Friday Joke - 27/5/2011

Barack Obama - Waiter, Waiter, there's a fly in my soup
Matthew Offord - Don't say that sir or everyone will want one

Friday Roundup - Barnet Council, the Metpro Scandal, One Barnet and basic competence

The Conservative Councillors of Barnet Council are currently going through the process of choosing a new leader. Now the more naive amongst us may possibly think they will choose based on who they think will do the best job. Sadly those of us who know how these things work, know better. A game of "name your price" is going on. The contenders do the maths and it works like this. Tot up all the people who hate your guts. Discount them. Then make a list of all of the others and work out what you have to offer them to vote for you. This usually involves a promotion or a bit more money. As you can kick out all of your opponents big supporters, there are usually a few cabinet posts up for grabs and a few committee chairmanships. The biggest gift is the deputy leadership. This is generally offered to someone who leads a faction and can bring a few extra votes in. Back room wheeler dealers such as John Marshall are past masters at using this process to secure maximum personal advantage and ensuring the stitch up works well. In the last election, he suckered Mark Shooter into standing and managed to get a nice juicy promotion, getting his hands on the wheels of power to save Lynne Hillans neck (allegedly).

This time round? My money is on Richard Cornelius because a) He isn't Brian Coleman and b) he isn't Andrew Harper. Sadly he is what is known as an invertebrate (doesn't have a backbone), so he won't actually stand unless he's sure of winning. If he bottles it, the it's who has upset less people, Coleman or Harper. That's one battle I couldn't call, but I reckon Coleman would be knobbled, because the Tories would prefer someone weak, mallable and stupid, to Coleman who may well destroy the whole group with is enormous, overbearing ego.

The sad thing is that whoever comes in, will immediately have a crisis. You see a few days after they have the election, the Audit committee will report on it's findings. This is likely to reveal a train crash (if it doesn't then, judging by the documents I've seen) the council will unleash a storm the likes of which has never been seen in Barnet. Myself and a group of Barnet residents concerned about this, recently had a meeting and you will soon see the fruits of that discussion. It was a small group, and all I can say is that we have access to some very interesting information and we have some big hitters in our group (nope, not me). Watch this space (and the blogs / press).

One thing is crystal clear. The Metpro scandal has proven beyond doubt that Barnet cannot effectively manage even the smallest contract or contractors. In a sane Council, it would spell a top to bottom overhaul and immediate abandonment of the One Barnet Outsource the world program. Sadly, dim idiots such as Councillor Robert Rams, who clearly don't read council reports, are still marching forward, proclaiming that such a broken model is the way to go. At our meeting, we saw how the Metpro Scandal was flagged up in 2009 and yet here we are in 2011 and they did nothing. More will be revealed here and in other blogs. We are co-ordinating and liaising as to how best to ensure that we can emsure Barnet Council meets it's statuatory obligations. Again watch this space.

Having seen and heard all that I have as I researched this, over the last couple of months, I can say this without fear of contradiction. The Metpro Scandal will fundamentaly change the way Barnet Council conducts it's business and some senior officers are likely to lose their jobs. I recommend that all Conservative Councillors bear this in mind when they choose their leader, because they really do need someone on top of their game. The Metpro scandal inquiry/audit will have national press coverage (especially if it is a cover up). They will need someone to save their bacon.

First Capital Connect - Tell us the truth

Useless. No other words can describe them. Yesterday a packed commuter train was stuck for three hours just outside St Pancras station. No announcement was made for 2 hours and as the train was in the tunnel, no one could phone home. I was affected as well. I had to get to St Pancras and went down to Mill Hill Broadway Station for the 7.41 train. The noticeboard showed that it was running 26 minutes late. Arrival time was 8.03. Announcements said it was 26 minutes late. every two minutes it got two minutes later, until eventually, the time just said "delayed". At that point, I gave up and got the bus to Burnt Oak, and took the Northern Line, arring nearly an hour after I'd had to. Coming back, the trains were still up the spout. At St Pancras, a train arrived. It was announced that it was Bedford only. A horde of drunks jumped on. The train sat their for five minutes, then they announced that it was "travelling empty". Most people got off (some refused). It departed empty, leaving a packed platform. Thanks First Capital Connect. Five minutes later, an all stations pulled in. It was packed.

No apologies (other than a recorded message). We all know things go wrong. Why can't they just keep us informed and if trains aren't coming, tell us. They must know. How hard is that?

Barnet Council elections :Andrew Harpers winning strategy

One rather interesting constitutional question has been posed to me. Councillor Andrew Harper is currently deputy Leader of the Council. This position was confirmed at the recent Council AGM. Surely as he's standing for the Leader job, he should resign as deputy Leader. The incoming Leader will clearly want to appoint their own deputy, so his position (should he lose) would become rather problematic. Surely any attempt to hang on to the job indicates a certain lack of conviction about his ability to do the job.

A rather mischievous source within the Barnet Conservative party has suggested that Harper has offered Robert Rams the deputy leader post in an attempt to stitch up the leadership race. The Barnet Eye is forced to ponder the question "Is even Andrew Harper dim enough to think that Rams would be an asset as deputy Leader?"

If you are lucky and you've never heard of Ramsbottom, here's his blog and here is his fan club.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Bolloxology in Barnet

You can now follow Barnet Council on Twitter


Thanks to this marvellous service, I now know that Barnet Council has set up a trading company to deliver adult services. The staff who will run the new LATC will be drawn from both the council and Barnet Homes, the organisation responsible for managing the borough’s social housing stock.

So what is the point of this? It's quite simple. It is to remove provision of these services from democratic oversight and to prepare the system for outsourcing and privatisation. Of course none of this is mentioned in the press release.  Councillor Sachin Rajput says :-
“This is about forging a new relationship with citizens by giving people greater control over the services they use.”
Of course there is no explanation of how removing democratic oversight and forming a private company achieves this. The reason? Because it's a load of bollocks.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

NHS reform

Is it possible to have a sane and rational discussion about NHS reform? Let's try shall we?

Ok, so what sort of system of healthcare do we have in the UK. I would say we have one of the very best in the world. If you are poor, you won't be thrown to the wolves because you can't pay for it. If you are middle class and you get a long term debilitating illness, you won't be bankrupted, when your healthcare plan runs out and they kick you off. If your children become ill, you might worry about how they respond to treatment, but you don't worry how you pay for it.

There is also one aspect that is never discussed. If you are stinking rich, what do you get? Well you get all the above + you get the ability to pay for a healthcare plan and jump the queue. This is why I get really sick of millionaires sticking their oar in and moaning about the health service. It wasn't designed for them. They will be alright whatever the healthcare system we end up with. I just saw on the news that the government wants to introduce more choice. This is utter bollocks. How does this supposedly work. "Mrs Jones, you've got cancer. You can go and see Dr Black who is really crap and you'll die in two weeks or you can see Dr Burgundy who is great and you'll live till you're 116, which would you prefer?" What would your choice be? Sounds like a great system, this internal market, doesn't it?

Nope, sorry that's not how it will work. It will work like this. Your GP will know that sending you to Dr Black will cost his budget £50,000 and sending you to Dr Burgundy will cost his budget £100,000. The choice is his, not yours, because you don't have the facts as to who is better. Who do you think your GP will send you to. If he sends you to Dr Burgundy, that's £50,000 less in his budget to pay himself a bonus. What do you think he'll say?

Or look at how private corporations may run wards/services. Just suppose the Barnet Eye wants to go into provision of Health care. Barnfield General want me to take over some provision of services. They give me the choice between running the A&E department or the oncology department. Which would I, as an astute businessman rather run? Simple really. The one I can make most money from. So how do I do this? Well they agree a menu of prices for services and I then look at how I can provide them as cheaply as possible. Just suppose I happen to know that Dr Burgundy is the worlds greatest oncologist and he's working there. Because he's so marvellous, the Wellfishy trust pay him £250,000 a year and he has a whole team of highly trained, long term staff who know what they are doing. I look at this and say "Dr Burgundy is charging £100,000 for a course of treatment. Dr Black in Walford General only charges £50,000 and so he's getting more business and the hospital make more money". What do I do? Do I say "but Dr Burgundy is the finest oncologist in the world". Do I hell. I sack him and break up his team and get Dr White in, who has no track record whatsoever, but can provide the treatment for £40,000. Then I undercut Dr Black. Who suffers? Not me, I make shedloads of money. What do I care, happy days are here.

But three years down the line, when the survival rates start to drop, the consequences become apparent and the true cost is revealed, it is too late. Dr Burgundy has long gone, his team have been scattered and the damage is done. What happens then? That is how "internal markets" work. That is how private companies conduct their business. I'm not saying that all private companies are always bad, or that all health care trusts will act with complete disregard for the patient as described. Of course their are SLA's and quality targets. It's just that at the end of the day, private corporations exist to make profits. If prices are fixed, these can only be maximised by cutting costs. Cutting costs forces out the best people. Where do they go? Into private clinics where rich individuals can afford to pay a premium.

I don't believe that quality of medical care should be purely driven by the ability of the patient to pay. I believe that in a civilised society, we should all expect, as a right, the best quality healthcare. This may be expensive, but if we got rid of the managers, lawyers and accountants who run the internal market, it would be a damn sight less expensive than the current system. I guess the difference between myself writing this and Clegg/Cameron who will actually decide is this. They are millionaires so the effects will never hurt them. Neither of them has ever run a business, so they have no idea what decisions you make on a daily basis to make your business efficient. Perhaps the biggest difference of the lot though, unlike Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron, when I last visited a hospital, I didn't get red carpet treatment because I was an important politician. I wouldn't want it, but how on earth can they pretend to know what sort of treatment the rest of us get?

The Real Reason for the Cancellation of Rapture

I bumped into an old Irish Roman Catholic Priest I know earlier today. We had a quick chat & I asked him what he thought about the failure of Rapture to materialise. His view "These silly American self appointed preachers who haven't read the bible properly are a real pain in the arse". He went on to say that his stock response to any enquiries last week was to say "Sorry the earliest I can fit you in is next monday". Perhaps his best quip was that he was expecting the preacher to announce that "it had been postponed due to the no fly zone over Iceland"

He also told me that he thought that the gloating attitude of the people expecting it was rather unchristian in it's "we're alright, your all going to die horrible deaths" attitude. He said that when such people started working in shelters for the homeless, the dispossessed and the discriminated against, when they started displaying humility and humbleness and stopped shouting of their own virtue people may start to take them seriously. His advice to everyone was the same. Worry about how you live your life, not how everyone else will end theirs. Amen to that

Anyone know where I can get some tumbleweed ?

I'm trying to film a restaged version of Andrew Harper giving his acceptance speech for the Barnet Leadership role and I want to make it as accurate as possible. I'm also looking for someone to play Barry Evangeli as deputy Mayor, sadly my first choice, Barry Humphries, can't make it

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Another Barnet Tory in a sulk - Matthew Offord MP

Matthew Offord made this intervention to the debate on superinjunctions yesterday in Parliament :-
23 May 2011 : Column 641

Mr Matthew Offord (Hendon) (Con): I think that we all agree in the House that the law should be used to protect the vulnerable and not to hide the misdemeanours of those with large cheque books, but does my right

hon. and learned Friend agree that we have found ourselves in this situation because of the behaviour of some of the newspaper press? Super-injunctions have emerged because of the ineffectual and impotent way in which the Press Complaints Commission works, but we can regulate that and give ourselves greater protection from abuse.
The Attorney-General: Looking at the matters that have been complained of recently, it seems to me fairly noteworthy that the press appear generally to observe the terms of injunctions against them. Indeed, from that point of view the injunction system appears to be quite effective; it is in other respects, such as the blogosphere and Twitter, that the difficulty emerges. What is absolutely clear is that breaches of court orders should not take place.
Could it be a case oif sour grapes with the PCC following them chucking out his complaint against the Hendon Times? Come on boys, learn to take it on the chin & pucker up ! Interesting to read the Attorney Generals reply, which translates to "Matthew, stop talking nonsense".

The Barnet Eye urges all Tory Councillors to Vote for Brian Coleman in the Leadership Election

As the Barnet Eye does not have a vote in the Barnet Tory Leadership election, we feel that it is only right and proper that we use our considerable influence to throw our full weight behind the Brian Coleman for Leader campaign. There are several important reasons why Brian Coleman is the only credible candidate, not least because he's not Andrew Harper, who has shown himself to be completely useless whilst practising as de-facto leader during Councillor Hillans illness. Whilst this blog would not have believed it possible to be more crass or insensitive than Brian Coleman, Harper's pitch for leadership immediately after Hillans announcement proved me completely wrong. It showed that Harper is completely unscrupulous and uncaring for his friends and colleagues.

Brian Coleman has also stated publicly that he will return to the committee system and abandon the disasterous cadre cabinet system. Whilst I have deep reservations about Brian Coleman for all manner of reasons, this would be the best thing to happen in Barnet politics for the last 16 years. On top of this, Coleman has publicly stated that he opposes the Brent Cross redevelopment, as out of character with the rest of Barnet. This blog wholeheartedly backs his opposition to this horrible scheme.

And finally there are the two main reasons for backing Coleman. This blog would have an absolute field day if Coleman was in charge with no one to control him and prevent him from putting his foot in his mouth. If ever there is a quiet news day and I want to write a blog, I just check to see what he's been up and hey presto a blog appears. Even better than that, if there is anyone who can bring back a Labour lead administration to Barnet, it is a Brian Coleman run Conservative group. For these reasons I urge all Tory Councillors to work tirelessly for a Brian Coleman victory.

Barnet Council Leadership Election - The reasons to vote for Andrew Harper

The Barnet Eye has received details of the manifesto for Councillor Andrew Harper and his leadership bid. Here are the compelling reasons for voting for Harper.

1. We need continuity and to continue the policies of Lynne Hillan

2. Harper has been running the council for the last six months and that has gone well

3. Mike Freer thinks Andrew is just the man for the job

So there you go. If you want more of the same and think the last six months has been a golden period for Barnet (and you are a Tory Councillor) - vote for Andrew Harper.

Current Barnet Eye odds.   Richard Cornelius 11/10, Andrew Harper 2/1, Brian Coleman 4/1, Daniel Thomans 15/1, Maureen Braun 1,000,000/ 1

Monday 23 May 2011

Beware the Tory Taliban of Barnet

Barnet Conservative activist, Ex-Councillor Daniel Hope, left a comment on this website, calling people who are pro road safety "The road hump Taliban". As ever, the Barnet Conservatives are very quick to throw insults, but get all uppity when a few are slung back. So lets see how they get on with this little tirade. I started to think about the Taliban and who exactly in Barnet might best benefit from this title (so ignorantly bandied about by young Daniel). I wonder how familiar young Daniel is with the soceity in Afghanistan where this movement started? Like most things, I suspect that unless Brian Coleman has given him a briefing, pretty unfamiliar?

So what do the Taliban stand for and who are they like in Barnet? Here's a few things, see what you think. For the purposes of this article, I've divided the people of Barnet in to "Pro Regime Archetypal Tories" (like Dan) - (Prats) and Uppity Letfy Types and Radical Associats (like Me) - (ULTRA's)

1. Suppression of womens rights. Given that both the Tories and Labour have female leaders (albiet one has just resigned due to ill health), on the face of it, neither can't be accused of Burkaisation in Barnet. But lets look a little deeper. Who has suffered most from the social care cuts in childrens services? Who has suffered most with the cuts to various adult welfare programs? Who has suffered most from the regime's attack on services for the elderly? The answer is the people who are left with the children, disadvantaged adults and elderly relatives. In the real world, this is usually women. They are the mothers/carers. The whole big society scam, is just a way of getting the poor/downtrodden females of Great Britain to donate work for free, whilst bankers bonuses grow ever bigger (usually men). So whilst we're never going to see the burka become the outfit of choice of Barnet's female Tories, the effects on society will be felt in a way the Taliban would be most approving of - Taliban rating - PRAT's - 5 ULTRA's - 0

2. Cultural vandalism. The Talibans biggest contribution to cultural vandalism was to blow up the thousand year old statues of the Buddha's. These were designated world heritage sites. In Barnet, the PRAT's have attacked our museums, closing Church Farm and emasculating Barnet Museum. From these cultural vandals, no one is safe. Sadly when it comes to the Barnet Tories, even the Taliban may learn something. Of course the ULTRA's campaigned ferociously to oppose this.
PRAT's 8 - ULTRA's 0

3. Dangerous Economic Policies. The Taliban turned Afghanistan into a failed pariah state. Anyone who has followed the polices of the PRAT's in Barnet will see parallels as not a week passes without another enormous cock up being exposed. Whilst the Taliban had a fearsome private army of religious police, Barnet had to make do with METPRO Rapid response. Whilst there are many differences, I for one was shocked that Barnet Council could employ  a private security company, which was not properly accredited on a nod and a wink. Of course the ULTRA's have worked tirelessly to halt these policies and expose scandals like METPRO.  PRAT's 7 - ULTRA's 0

4. Road Safety Measures. Finally on to Hopeless Dan's main charge. That the policies of the ULTRA's on road safety resemble those of the TALIBAN. Now sadly here Dan betrays his complete lack of knowledge of the world outside Barnet. Was Kabul covered by road humps in the Taliban years? What was their policy to road safety. The answer is Inshalla (God's will). You see fundamentalist Islamists are vehemently opposed to all traffic calming measures or any other measures designed to improve road safety. Why? Because they believe that whatever befalls you is Gods will. If you are going to suffer a road accident, then that is what God has deemed to be your fate and to try and prevent it, is in effect a form of blasphemy. As such, even measures such as seatbelts are frowned upon. So when it comes down to it, of all the bonkers Barnet Tory policies, their Road Safety policy is the closest to the Taliban of the lot. Needless to say the ULTRA's are rather more  sensible. PRAT's 10 - ULTRA's 0

So lets tot up the score. Who is more like the Taliban? The PRAT's or the ULTRA's.

The PRAT's score 40/50 and the ULTRA's 0/50. Many thanks to Daniel for alerting us to just how dodgy and dangerous the PRAT's of Barnet really are.

Barnet on the radio again for dangerous roads

I awoke to hear the news on BBC London 94.9. Barnet Council was being berated for having the highest number of deaths on the roads last year. Who is the architect of this policy? None other than Brian Coleman, who announced when he took over, that his policy was "Roads,Roads,Roads". His excuse? We have more miles of roads than any other Borough? Yet another example of crass complacency. Coleman has been instrumental in removal of road humps and other traffic calming measures. Who are the main victims? The elderly & children. For fatal road accidents, speed is a major factor. It is an undisputable fact that whilst 90% of victims survive a being hit by  a car travelling at 30mph, at 40mph, 90% die. Barnet has several well known blackspots (Tally Ho corner).

Coleman wants to become the leader. I personally think his crass disregard for other peoples safety should rule him out. He is crass, incompetent and uncaring. Is this the image the Tories really want to project, especially with the GLA elections next year

Sunday 22 May 2011

An appreciation of Ryan Giggs

As the football season draws to a close, it is time for the Barnet Eye to declare it's player of the year. We will officially announce this prestigious award next week, but we will look at the possible candidates in the run up. Unlike many player of the year awards, here at the Barnet Eye, we actually wait until the end of the season, but there is no harm in looking at the candidates. First up, we have (shock and horror) - none other than Ryan Giggs, Manchester United perennial winger.

At the ripe old age of 37, Mr Giggs has had a sublime system, being United's most consistent performer. His performances away from home have been especially eye catching, winning him a whole new set of admirers across the globe. Some have attributed Ryan Giggs extended career to his practise of yoga. Mr Giggs has not said what his favourite yoga position is. Rumour has it that he's very adept at "The Downward Dog".

Others have suggested that his happy home life may have helped keep him out of the troubles which have affected many of his contemporaries. Mr Giggs retired from international football in 2007. Many of his fellow countrymen have missed the sight of him, banging them in and would love to see him come home and score a few more times before he retires.

As a Manchester City fan, many of my readers of the Barnet Eye may be suprised to see Ryan Giggs nominated for our Player of the Year award. You'd be wrong. Ryan Giggs behaviour, loyalty and honesty exemplifies everything which Manchester City fans love about Manchester United and hope that he carries on entertaining us for many years to come.

Football Special : Congratulations to AFC Wimbledon

Yesterday was a great day for English football. AFC Wimbledon were promoted to League 2. The club was only formed in 2002, following the demise of Wimbledon FC, who scandalously relocated to Milton Keynes, in the only example of football franchising in the UK. The club were started following open trials on Sutton Common, where thousands of people turned up.

At the time of their formation, an FA official stated that it wasn't in the wider interests of English football for AFC Wimbledon to exist. This was complete bollocks. Nothing could be more in the interests of English Football than for local people to stick their fingers up at the out of touch idiots in the FA's ivory towers. When AFC WImbledon were formed, I doubt too many expected seven promotions in nine seasons. I doubt many envisaged that they would beat Luton FC in a playoff final at the City of Manchester Stadium to achieve promotion. Yesterday, many of those dreamers who helped form the club, were on the terraces.

It is funny, I remember when the original Wimbledon FC reached the FA Cup final, many sniffy pundits claimed it was "not in the interests of football" for Wimbledon to beat Liverpool, as they played route one football. This was cobblers as well. They won the final on merit and fired the dreams of every small club. In some ways yesterdays achievement was even more impressive. To come form nowhere to League football in nine seasons is an unprecedented achievement.

The people who run football have no interest in the fans, smaller clubs or grass roots football. They are dazzled by the money and bright lights of the big clubs. The Premiership is all about concentrating money in the hands of the few, as is the Champions League. These people see the AFC Wimbledon story as nothing more than an embarrassing distraction. The AFC Wimbledon story is the most graphic example possible that the grass roots fans see things in a completely different way. As I listened to the aftermath on 909, caller after caller stated that they were chuffed for AFC Wimbledon. I wonder where the story will end. Champions League in another 9 seasons? Now that would be truly hilarious and I for one would love to see it.

Saturday 21 May 2011

Offord Falklands vistt : Time for Offord to do something useful

Our local MP, Matthew Offord has been on military manouvres in the Falklands.


Apparently he took part in a "firing exercise" and visited a minefield (sounds like he'd be quite at home, given his time at Barnet Council). Matthew said :-
"For many years I believe the Armed Forces were neglected by the Government and I am pleased that is now being addressed.” 
I quite agree with Matthew, but he has rather missed the point. He said nothing about the biggest scandal of all regarding the Falklands campaign. Did you know that more British servicemen, who took part in the campaign, have committed suicide since leaving the forces, than were killed by the Argentinians? Unlike the USA, where there is a huge veterans program, we throw our servicemen on the scrapheap when they leave the forces. Many soldiers suffered huge mental scars following their experiences.Many have suffered nervous breakdown, homelessness, alcoholism and unemployment.

Whilst I hope Matthew enjoyed playing soldiers in the Falklands, the real issue regarding the "military covenenant" is here in the UK, on the streets of our big cities. It is the men with broken lives struggling to cope, following their experiences on the battlefields of the Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Politicians love to be photo'd in military uniforms, alongside hardware and in glamarous locations. Sadly the arm of the military which most needs them is the invisible arm. The men who've left and are at a loss to cope with civilian life. Matthew doesn't need to travel 6,000 miles to meet these people. They are on the streets of our city. Organisations such as the Royal British Legion and "Help for Heroes" support them (often because the government has neglected it's responsibilities). Wilfred Owen (pictured left), was the greatest First World War poet. His words, for the first time gave us an insight into the stress of being a serving soldier in a warzone. Although the equipment we fight wars with have changed, the stresses have not. I spoke to a friend who was a Falklands vet and he told me that he thought no one should sit in parliament and vote on sending men to wars, if they don't know the poetry of Owen by heart. Owen wrote this poem "Disabled" just under one hundred years ago. It is sickening that it is relevant today


User Rating:
7.7 /10
(43 votes)

  He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,
And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,
Legless, sewn short at elbow. Through the park
Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,
Voices of play and pleasure after day,
Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.

About this time Town used to swing so gay
When glow-lamps budded in the light blue trees,
And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim,-
In the old times, before he threw away his knees.
Now he will never feel again how slim
Girls' waists are, or how warm their subtle hands.
All of them touch him like some queer disease.

There was an artist silly for his face,
For it was younger than his youth, last year.
Now, he is old; his back will never brace;
He's lost his colour very far from here,
Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry,
And half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race
And leap of purple spurted from his thigh.

One time he liked a blood-smear down his leg,
After the matches, carried shoulder-high.
It was after football, when he'd drunk a peg,
He thought he'd better join. - He wonders why.
Someone had said he'd look a god in kilts,
That's why; and maybe, too, to please his Meg,
Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts
He asked to join. He didn't have to beg;
Smiling they wrote his lie: aged nineteen years.

Germans he scarcely thought of; all their guilt,
And Austria's, did not move him. And no fears
Of Fear came yet. He drought of jewelled hills
For daggers in plaid socks; of smart salutes;
And care of arms; and leave; and pay arrears;
Esprit de corps; and hints for young recruits.
And soon, he was drafted out with drums and cheers.

Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
Thanked him; and then enquired about his soul.

Now, he will spend a few sick years in institutes,
And do what things the rules consider wise,
And take whatever pity they may dole.
Tonight he noticed how the women's eyes
Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
How cold and late it is! Why don't they come
And put him into bed? Why don't they come?

At my studios, we have a Help for Heroes collection permenantly running in reception and we sell poppies in November. Politicians such as Matthew Offord MP can do far more. They can change the way we treat our servicemen, so that they don't end up depressed, having breakdowns, on the streets and committing suicide. Every single person in this country today has a debt to the servicemen and women, past and present who have served us and protected us. I believe it's time we started paying that debt. I hope Matthew Offord MP does as well and starts to actually do something useful about it

Barnet Council Metpro Scandal - The Inquiry is not an Inquiry !!!!!!!

I was forwarded this email tonight.

From: Palmer, Cllr Monroe Liberal Democrat [mailto:Cllr.M.Palmer@barnet.gov.uk]
Sent: 20 May 2011 19:43
To: John Dix
Cc: Giritli, Aysen; Lustig, Jeff; Salter, Maryellen
Subject: FW: MetPro inquiry - submission of information

Thank you for that
I am passing on this message:
To Democratic Services to note your request to speak at the meeting
To Mr Lustig
To our Head of Internal Audit who is leading the Audit work

This is not an ‘inquiry’ but a detailed  internal audit
The report will be published as all Council committee reports are published. Members of the Public can apply to speak prior to the committee discussing the audit report.

I welcome information from all sources

Monroe Palmer

So after all the press coverage, all the investigations, all the revelations, we don't even get a proper inquiry, just a "detailed internal audit". I have asked on several occasions for the terms of reference, but these have not been published.  What we do know is that this "detailed internal audit" will be conducted by the very same people who were meant to be keeping an eye on the whole process in the first place. They have a vested interest in sweeping all of the embarrassing information under the carpet, because it was caused by a systemic failure, WHICH THEY CAUSED AND PRESIDED OVER.

As far as I am concerned, this shows beyond doubt that Barnet Council cannot be trusted. It shows beyond doubt that the CEO, Nick Walkley is only interested in "damage limitation" and keeping his job, with it's £200,000 a year salary. It seems no one in a position of power is in the slightest bit interested as to how the Council could pay over a million pounds to a company which was operating illegally.

The use of the term audit as opposed to inquiry, indicates a steadfast refusal, in face of all of the evidence, to actually admit they've cocked up. What I want to know is whether Nick Walkley will be publicly grilled, in front of cameras, as to why he allowed this to happen. He's paid more dosh per annum than the Prime Minister, which implies a degree of responsibility in his job. He allowed a company to operate in a sensitive role, with no checks whatsoever on their legal status. It is clear that security staff with no accreditation whatsoever had access to the most sensitive parts of Barnet Town Hall.

One question nobody seems to have bothered to ask is this. As we now know Metpro Rapid Response Ltd had no accreditation and Barnet hadn't bothered to check their status or paperwork, and their staff wore video recording equipment, allegedly without permission from Barnet Council, what sensitive areas of the council, what private records and what personal information COULD they have covertly filmed? It is clear from the discussions on the night of the March 1st Council meeting, that these people had access to all sorts of areas, where sensitive information could be held. As a Council Tax Payer who's personal information including bank details are held by Barnet, for all I know these staff have had access to record this information. Metpro have stated that their staff worked at both Hendon Town Hall and NLBP. They did not have any accreditation. They had access to vulnerable people and secure areas in the Council buildings. What did they get up to? The sad truth is that no one at Barnet Council has a clue. It is a matter of record that I was asked to stop filming  public meetings, in public areas on two occasions by Barnet Councillors. How come these same councillors are not tearing down the walls, trying to find out how a private contractor was allowed to film God knows what?

Sadly, the answer is because it might embarrass their bosses. With every day, it becomes more patently obvious that we will never know the truth, unless we, the people of Barnet, drag it out of the Council bosses. This is not how democracy is meant to work. Councillor Andrew Harper has been the de-facto leader of the Council since the turn of the year. He's now said that he wants to officially take over the job. Harper has presided over the whole Metpro scandal and has shown himself to be completely ineffective. Barnet Eye readers may be interested to know that "sources close to" Brian Coleman have let us know that Coleman (allegedly) considers Metpro to be an almighty cock up and that if he becomes leader he'll have it properly investigated. They have also informed us that Coleman thinks senior Council officers need  a major kick up the backside. You can take this with however many pinches of salt you like (I certainly have). It does however show us that there is a split at the highest level of the Barnet Tories on the matter and the most ambitious of the lot of them realises that there are no votes to be won in protecting people who have blatently failed to do their job. I rather suspect, based on what I've been told, that Coleman will be quite happy for Lord Palmer to cock up the "detailed internal audit" so he can shout out loud that he was the only person in Barnet with the guts to deal with the executive. Coleman (allegedly) is briefing that it shows Andrew Harper lacks the cojones to take on the executive.

I do wonder when we will hear from Colemans challenger for the GLA seat, Andrew Dismore, on this sorry matter. He'd better kick his troops into action soon, or he could find that Coleman pulls an ace from his sleeve and trumps him.

Political Expenses special - Brian Coleman LFEPA expenses scandal - Updated

Note : This blog is a reposting of one which was deleted by the blogger system problems, where several posts disappeared - It is an updated version of a post on 11th may

London Assembly member Brian Coleman, is allowed to claim expenses to cover his costs a member of the LFEPA (London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority).

Details for April 2010 to March 2011 are here :-


You may be interested to see how much he claims compared to his colleagues

Brian Coleman April 2010 to March 2011 £3,480.20
Darren Johnson April 2010 to March 2011 £0.00
Gareth Bacon April 2010 to March 2011 £0.00
Mike Tuffrey April 2010 to March 2011 £0.00
Murad Qureshi April 2010 to March 2011 £0.00
Navin Shah April 2010 to March 2011 £0.00
Richard Tracey April 2010 to March 2011 £23.96
Tony Arbour April 2010 to March 2011 £378.86

You may wonder what costs so much. Well amongst the other entries, it seems that the Taxpayer is picking up the bill for Conservative members away days :-

6/11/2010 Travel Members' car mileage - London Councils Conservative Group Away Day at Westminster City Hall, SW1 £11.44
26/11/2010 Travel Congestion Charge - London Councils Conservative Group Away Day at Westminster City Hall, SW1 £8.00

There are plenty of other interesting items here :-


I don't see why the London Taxpayer should subsidise Tory Away Days. Interestingly his Tory Colleagues haven't claimed for this.

A few other interesting notes. 

01/12/2010 Travel Members' car mileage - Lunch with James Pearson at The Carlton Club, SW1 for FiReControl briefing £10.89
01/12/2010 Travel Congestion Charge - Lunch with James Pearson at The Carlton Club, SW1 for FiReControl briefing £8.00
01/12/2010 Travel Car Parking - Lunch with James Pearson at The Carlton Club, SW1 for FiReControl briefing - parking meter fee

What is interesting here is that there is no corresponding entry in the Gifts and Hospitality register. Does this mean  that Councillor Coleman attended a fire control briefing lunch and paid for his own dinner?

Or what about this

12/10/2010 Travel Congestion Charge - Meeting with Fire Commissioner at Union Street, SE1 ('Previous Charging Day' amount of £10 applies)

Here Coleman forgot to pay the congestion charge on time, so the Taxpayer picks up an extra £2

Or what about these entries :-

14/07/2010 Travel Members' car mileage - Lunch at House of Commons with new MPs £11.44
14/07/2010 Travel Congestion Charge - Lunch at House of Commons with new MPs £8.00
14/07/2010 Travel Taxi (invoiced) - Taxi journey from GLA, City Hall to Houses of Parliament - lunch with new MPs  £31.51


Taxi (invoiced) - Taxi journey from Union St to St Pauls Cathedral EC4 - Mayor's Service

 Again, nothing in the register of gifts & hospitality for this date - even more interesting is how you get a £31.51 Taxi bill from GLA, City Hall to the Houses of Parliament? I've walked this route on many occasions, it isn't exactly a long way. Coleman has claimed mileage to drive to the House of Commons and for a Taxi bill. By an amazing coincidence, he also had exactly the same taxi fare on the same day from Union St to St Pauls Cathedral, a distance of just over a mile.

There is a GLA and Mayoral Election next year. Brian Coleman's job as chair of the LFEPA is a gift from the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. Brian Coleman gets a free all zones travelcard for being a GLA rep (+ a salary of £50K per annum). One has to conclude that Boris Johnson thinks that Coleman using his expenses in this way is absolutely fine. We have to conclude that he thinks that his fire boss using his expenses to pay for Tory awaydays is fine. I wonder how many people who might vote for Boris or Brian Coleman think that this is how we want elected representatives to carry on?

Barnet Eye - The Friday Joke 20/5/2011

"Barman, I'd like a Bin Laden."
"A Bin Laden? That's one I've never heard of before. What's in it?"
"Two shots and a splash of water."

Friday 20 May 2011

Mill Hill Special : Belmont Childrens Zoo take to the streets !

There were some great pictures in the Hendon Times this week of sheep on the village green outside Hendon Town Hall. Not something you see every day. They turned up with the staff and about six supporters of Belmont Childrens Zoo in Mill Hill. The zoo is a fantastic place for a visit, having attracted over 70,000 visitors in the first year of operation. It has all sorts of interesting and exotic animals and even has theme park style rides.

The dispute centres on the fact that the Zoo's owners failed to get planning permission or change of use for the former riding stables. Local neighbours have also actively campaigned against the noise from the various exotic animals on their doorstep and the traffic. The owners have also claimed that the cafe, serving tasty waffles, is not a change of use from the staff canteen.

Sadly, whilst thinking that the Zoo is a great addition to the facilities in Mill Hill, the truth is everyone has to follow the rules. It is odd to note that the owner of the Zoo is Mr Andrew Reid, who was a deputy chairmen of the local Conservative party and a big friend of planning boss Councillor Maureen Braun. You'd think she'd be able to advise him on the rules, especially those concerning the building of large sheds without planning permission. The zoo complained that no one had complained about the planning permission application. This was rather clever, as one had not been submitted.

Can I suggest that the owners open up their wallet, get the planning permission, make the changes so the neighbours are happy (moving a few animals to elsewhere in the complex won't cost a fortune) and follow the rules. Then they will have a legal business and they can develop it

Thursday 19 May 2011

Lord Monroe Palmer and the future of Liberalism in Barnet

Lib Dem Peer, Lord Monroe Palmer leads the Barnet Council audit committee. In June, the committee will meet to discuss the findings of the audit committee investigation into the Metpro Rapid Response Ltd inquiry. Many people, myself included, believed that this inquiry should have been undertaken by an independent team. Lord Monroe Palmer has an extremely difficult job on his hands. At stake is not only the reputation of Barnet Council, but also the future of the Lib Dems in Barnet. At the least elections, the number of Councillors was halved from 6 to 3. These consist of Lord Palmer, Suzette Palmer (his wife) and Jack Cohen. They all represent Child Hill ward. before the last election there were two in Mill Hill (Wayne Casey and Jeremy Davies) and one in High Barnet (Duncan MacDonald).

As I stood for the Lib Dems in Mill Hill, I am on good terms with many local members and voters. It is fair to say that in Mill Hill, many have been alienated by the coalition. Many have said to me "What is the point of the Lib Dems?". I have always stoutly defended the record of the local Lib Dems at Council Level. It is also true to say that many people (especially many local Conservative voters) have told me that they bitterly regret the fact that Jeremy Davies lost his seat. Sadly none of these people are actually ever going to vote Lib Dem next time.

Which brings me to the point. There is only likely to be one issue where the local Lib Dems can actually make a difference in Barnet. This is with Lord Palmers chairmanship of the Metpro inquiry. If he ensures that the whole sorry business is exposed and the lessons of this disasterous outsourcing project applied across the board, then maybe, just maybe, when people say "What is the point of voting Lib Dem?", activists will be able to say "Well look how they sorted out the Metpro fiasco". I am not going to tell Lord Palmer what to do, say or what findings to make. I will tell him this though. If he does an exemplary job, which the fair minded and honest voters of Barnet see to have done the job, then he has made his point for an independent third force.

If he blows it, then as far as I'm concerned, that is it for the Barnet Lib Dems.

The Barnet Eye List of the day : 10 things which make politicians repugnant

1. Troughing
2. Hypocracy
3. Lying to the public
4. Hiking taxes which they are exempt from
5. Feigning sadness when colleagues fall ill, knowing that it means they might get a promotion
6. Making claims for expenses for things the rest of us have to pay for (eg Congestion charges, cabs back from dinners)
7. Sponging
8. Insulting members of the public, from positions of privilege
9. Going on holiday at the taxpayers expense
10. Abusing people who have worked hard to achieve their position in society

This is Barnet in 2011. Is this really what the public want or expect from their politicians? There is just a little bit too much of it all going on, don't you agree? (P.S Click on the underlined bits for examples of what I mean)

Wednesday 18 May 2011

I simply cannot believe the behaviour of senior Barnet Tories

Firstly, I have to say something about the public statement from Lynne Hillan. I've lost several of my closest friends and family to cancer. My best friend and business partner, Ernie Ferebee died of cancer in 2001 aged just 52. My wifes mum, Margaret Harrison died of lung cancer two years ago, who I dearly loved. There are many other people, but these two hit me hardest. When I read Lynne Hillans announcement, it brought these emotions back. Although I disagree with many of her policies, of all the things I hate on planet earth, I hate Cancer the most. It is a vicious and evil thief and I loath and detest it. That is why all I can feel about the news of Lynne Hillan is deep (and if I'm honest unexpected) grief. I feel desperately sorry for her and her family. Whatever I think of her, she was the democratically elected leader of Barnet Council. Unlike her predecessor, Mike Freer, she won an election as council leader and also increased her majority.  No one can argue with that. In fact I have a grudging respect for her, for fighting the campaign whilst suffering from the illness. I admire spirit and guts, and she clearly has those by the bucketload. My headline does not refer to her.

It refers to her colleagues. Nick Walkley had hardly finished reading her statement when Brian Coleman and Andrew Harper made speeches, clearly written in anticipation of the announcement, staking out the ground for leadership bids and trying to stitch up their rivals. In a decent world, that alone would disqualify them from standing for the job, but we don't live in a decent world. In the world of Barnet Council, careers are built on other peoples misfortune, and every unfortunate turn of events is an opportunity to be exploited.

On a purely personal level, I find this repugnant. That is all I really want to say about Barnet politics right now.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Barnet Council - Breaking News - Lynne Hillan quits as leader

It was announced at tonights Barnet Council AGM that Lynne Hillan has resigned as leader of the Council, due to illness. Whilst this blog has been a stern critic of her policies, our prayers are with her and her family at this difficult time.

Metpro Scandal - Grant Thornton's reponsibilities

The following extract is from a cabinet report detailing the terms of reference for Grant Thornton Barnet Council's auditors, presented to the Barnet Council Cabinet on Feb 17th. Given that the Council were giving Metpro Rapid Response Ltd over a Million pounds without a proper contract being in place, I look forward to seeing what Grant Thornton have to say :-

Needless to say, the bloggers of Barnet will be keeping a beady eye on what Grant Thornton have to say. I'm sure they will be thrilled to know. I must get round to seeing what the audit was meant to do last year, in regards to paying companies with no contract in place, no proper agreement and no monitoring of their performance.

Guest Blog - Domestic Waste in North West London

By John Cox,

What happens to the domestic waste we all throw away? This week, Barnet and the other boroughs in north London have published their waste plan (www.nlwp.net/) for the Government, which will apply "for the next 25 to 35 years."

Barnet does not say the plan will last that long, but the separate 'North London Waste Authority' (NLWA - www.nlwa.gov.uk) has admitted this, at its exhibition on the incinerator-fuel plant on the edge of Friern Barnet (at Pinkham Way). The NLWA says it "must" sign very long-term contracts with the incinerator companies.

Barnet's representatives on the NLWA are Councillors Melvin Cohen and Brian Coleman AM.

The NLWA wants all the black bag waste from the seven London boroughs to go to Pinkham Way, and to a rebuilt plant at Edmonton. Both those sites would heat the waste, to create incinerator fuel, and this would then be shipped in large lorries around the North Circular, to the Brent Cross Incinerator and rail-head.

The Mill Hill East depot
Our Council also demands that Pinkham Wood in Haringey is destroyed for a second reason – so it can sell the current dustcart site in Mill Hill East for housing, and build a new one in a different borough! But the idea of new incinerators for domestic waste, until maybe the year 2046, is a complete disaster in any case.

The NLWA will only consider deals that burn our waste, even though it's hazardous, inefficient as a source of energy, and a huge waste of resources. We can't continue to extract material from the ground, use it, but then dispose of it by landfill or incineration, for evermore.

Unlike the global-warming battle (between ‘Climate Change Deniers’ and ‘Warmists’, in the Daily Telegraph for instance) no-one really argues against conserving materials. Our planet needs a largely closed circle of repair, reuse, recycling, and a vast reduction in domestic waste quantities, if it is to have a future. Only quarrying, oil-extraction (for plastics), and incinerator companies disagree.

We can create thousands of new jobs in design and recycling, so that products last longer, and can be dismantled at end of use. We need political consensus, because of the long-term changes. This is new, and welcome, private-sector economic activity, of course.

These changes go beyond ridiculous stories in the Daily Mail on waste collection. For this new vision, we should look to a far-away country of which we know little – Scotland.

North of the Border has the only Government-based 'Zero Waste' policy in the world (www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/). ('Zero Waste' is a policy - we will never fully get there.) Scotland may fudge on some incineration, but it is demanding major industrial changes, with much lower waste quantities and 70% recycling by 2025, much better than unambitious north London targets.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Chair of the NLWA, should stop pretending how wonderful the Pinkham Wood depot would be (neglecting the open-air Barnet dustcart ‘necklace’ around it). He should tell us why we NEED to burn London’s waste for a whole generation, even with his appealing names like ‘gasifier’, 'recovery', and ‘Energy from Waste’.

He will know that plastics and paper must be left in incinerator fuel for it to burn. Supplies for furnaces must be guaranteed, or council tax payers will be 'fined'. The NLWA will sign very long-term contracts of £4-BILLION-pounds, even riskier than Gordon Brown’s London Underground maintenance disasters.

Pinkham Wood, next to the North Circular

Who wants this lead story in the local papers in the 2020’s (read it on your iPad 9):
"Ten years ago, the authority signed a 25-year deal to provide waste to burn. But what was seen as a cash-saver has quickly turned into a money-pit, as the authority is forced to send increasingly valuable recyclable material to the incinerator, in order to meet its annual quota. The incinerator has been dogged by controversy, due to high levels of flies and foul odours."
That exact quote applies ALREADY to Kent County Council. There are further examples around the UK.

We don't need the current Pinkham Way plan. So, Councillors Loakes, Cohen, and Coleman:
  • Why not try to halve black-bag waste by 2020?
  • Why not aim for 70% recycling by 2025?
  • Why not extend existing contracts meanwhile, with an independent audit?
  • Why are your new incinerators (a distortion of the intention of the landfill tax) your ONLY option?
  • Why not show better leadership, and go for 'Zero Waste' in north London instead?
Visit Scotland, Councillors, while you still can without a passport – after all, the NLWA Chairman's first name is 'Clyde'.
John Cox is an environmental campaigner who lives in North West London. Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye

Monday 16 May 2011

Barnet Council Tory Update : The night of the long knives?

Tueday night is the night for the Barnet Council AGM, otherwise known as Payolaville UK. This is the night when the committee chair positions are doled out. As these get a hefty wedge of wonga, it is a good way of spotting who has done a good job of Gordon Brown nosing the Leadership in the last 12 months.

The Barnet Eye has been informed of some very interesting changes. Tales reach us of stunned Tories sadly mouthing "Et tu Brutus" as they realise a stilleto has been inserted between the shoulderblades, whilst a certain travel agent has reported that "bookings are well up from a couple of councillors looking to enjoy their windfall" (the Barnet Eye knows all of the best people in the Barnet Services industry).

Lets just say that a certain Councillor, not widely recognised for their common sense or talent has found themselves recognised for services to the regime (well it certainly isn't for doing anything useful). Rumour reaches the Barnet Eye that they are rather chuffed. I wonder who has been shafted. All will be revealed tomorrow night as the Barnet Councillors attend the buffet of the year.

My advice to the other bloggers of Barnet. Have a look at the 2010 committee appointments. See how they change tomorrow. Then you'll know who has a long tongue that is a bit smelly right now. Sadly I can't make the meeting, but watch the Barnet Twitter feeds !

Barnet Council and the monitoring of residents.

Following the Metpro Scandal, I thought I'd ask the council what surveillance they were performing of Barnet residents. I got the following response. I suspect one or two other bloggers in Barnet may be mildly surprised to read this, or maybe they won't

Dear Mr Tichborne,

I write with the council’s response to your request, received by us on 9 April 2011, for the following information:

“…details of Council employees or contractors working on behalf of Barnet Council employed in the following activities:-

1.          Electronic hacking activities (ie accessing the IT equipment of third parties without their permission)
2.          All council emails regarding hacking activitites, either of Barnet Council computers or of other computers where Barnet Council has been involved
3.          Any details of third party IT specialist engaged by Barnet Council who have been involved in the disruption of third party IT equipment
4.          Details of any phone tapping activities undertaken by Barnet Council
5.          Details of which Council Officers and Councillors were aware of this activity and who had access to any information derived from it.

To limit costs please limit the enquiry for the period from 1st January 2010 to present.”

We have processed this request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).  Under the Act you should have received a response within 20 working days.  I apologise on behalf of the council for us not meeting this deadline.


The council does not engage in any of the activities you refer to.  As such we hold no information falling within your request except in relation to a suspected attempt to hack into the council’s systems in 2010.  In relation to this incident we hold one email.

We cannot disclose the contents of this email as it contains detailed information about the council’s information security systems, and publishing this information would put us at risk of similar future attacks.  We are therefore withholding this information under section 43 FOIA, which applies to information the disclosure of which would be likely to damage the council’s commercial interests.  In our view the public interest in withholding this information (and consequently in protecting our information systems from external attacks) outweighs the general public interest in disclosure.  We hold no other information falling within your request.

Your rights

If you are unhappy with the handling of your request you can ask for an internal review.  Please send such requests to our postal address or to foi@barnet.gov.uk and address them to the “FOI Officer”.  Please also explain why you feel we have not correctly processed your request. You have 40 working days to request a review. 

If, having exhausted our review procedure, you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint, you will have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF (telephone: 08456 306060 or 01625 545745; website www.ico.gov.uk).  There is no charge for making an appeal.

Yours sincerely,

Niall Toru
Governance Officer
Corporate Governance Directorate
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP
Tel: 020 8359 7080
Barnet Online:
P please consider the environment - do you really need to print this email?

From: Toru, Niall On Behalf Of Freedom of Information Act
Sent: 11 April 2011 18:06
To: 'Roger.Tichborne@btinternet.com'
Subject: RE: FOI - request

Dear Mr Tichborne,

Thank you for your request, received by us on 9 April 2011, for:

“details of Council employees or contractors working on behalf of Barnet Council employed in the following activities:-

1) Electronic hacking activities (ie accessing the IT equipment of third parties without their permission)

2) All council emails regarding hacking activitites, either of Barnet Council computers or of other computers where Barnet Council has been involved

3) Any details of third party IT specialist engaged by Barnet Council who have been involved in the disruption of third party IT equipment

4) Details of any phone tapping activities undertaken by Barnet Council

5) Details of which Council Officers and Councillors were aware of this activity and who had access to any information derived from it.

To limit costs please limit the enquiry for the period from 1st January 2010 to present.”

We are processing this request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Under the Act we must respond promptly and in any event within 20 working days from the date we received your request.

Please note the Act defines a limited set of exemptions from the right to know.  If we decide not to release any information we shall explain why, which exemption we are relying on and how you can appeal.

Yours sincerely,

Niall Toru
Governance Officer
Corporate Governance Directorate
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP
Tel: 020 8359 7080
Barnet Online:
P please consider the environment - do you really need to print this email?

From: Roger Tichborne
Sent: 09 April 2011 11:38
To: Freedom of Information Act
Cc: Burgess, John (Unison); vickimorris@btinternet.com; Adam Langleben; Hillan, Cllr Lynne Conservative; Moore, Cllr Alison Labour; Cohen, Cllr Jack Liberal Democrat; Walkley, Nick; Harper, Cllr Andrew Conservative
Subject: Re: FOI - request

Dated 9th April 2011

Dear Barnet Council,

Please provide all details of Council employees or contractors working on behalf of Barnet Council employed in the following activities :-

1) Electronic hacking activities (ie accessing the IT equipment of third parties without their permission)

2) All council emails regarding hacking activitites, either of Barnet Council computers or of other computers where Barnet Council has been involved

3) Any details of third party IT specialist engaged by Barnet Council who have been involved in the disruption of third party IT equipment

4) Details of any phone tapping activities undertaken by Barnet Council

5) Details of which Council Officers and Councillors were aware of this activity and who had access to any information derived from it.

To limit costs please limit the enquiry for the period from 1st January 2010 to present.

Roger Tichborne