Thursday 31 May 2012

Mike Freer stabs Brian Coleman in the back (and front and sides) on parking

I cannot believe my eyes. Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer has gone public and slagged off the parking polices of his (perhaps former) best friend Brian Coleman. He has used his column in the Barnet Press to claim credit for the volte face by Barnet Council regarding parking charges.

If there was an award for Chutzpah, Freer would win it hands down for this intervention. Freer states
"The local authority and I have not seen eye to eye on this issue, with many local businesses in town centres concerned about the impact on trade and complaints from residents who, like me, live in a controlled parking zone (CPZ)."
Well as someone who helped lead the campaign against the charges, made a film about it, and who also follows Freer on Twitter, his difference of opinion with Barnet Council is news to me. It is no secret that Freer pulls the strings in the Barnet Conservative machine. The concept that he had a difference of opinion with Brian Coleman on these policies is laughable. Freer was well known for his championing of stealth taxes in his period as Leader of Barnet Council. He has championed the candidacy of Shaheen Mahmood in Brunswick Park. It will be interesting to see if he ditches her as quickly as he has ditched Brian Coleman when it became clear Coleman was damaging Freer's job prospects as an MP at the next election.

Freer states in his article
"But I hope that this review is the beginning of a conversation and an agreed way forward."
We've been trying to have a conversation about this for nearly a  year, since Freer's best mate, Brian Coleman tried to sneak the policy through. This blog details how Coleman tried to sneak the policy through. It was dated August last year.

It is interesting to note, in hindsight, that this was the moment the Barnet Tories pushed the self destruct button. The whole thing has been a disaster from start to finish and it has Freer's fingerprints all over it. He is clearly desperate to try and save his skin. It seems that if that means shafting all of his friends in the process, then that is just part of the job.

I would welcome anyone who can show me anything which shows that Freer is anything other than a very late jumper onto the bandwagon against Pay and Display. If he'd actually told Coleman to knock it on the head last August, he'd probably have saved dozens of businesses in Barnet High Streets and saved Coleman from losing his seat. The only conclusion can be that the penny has finally dropped with Freer. Sadly, for him, it is too late for anyone to be fooled by his conversion to the cause of the local High Streets and small traders. If it was true, he'd have been down to see Helen Michael who leads the local traders campaign. When I suggested he visit Helen at Cafe Buzz on twitter, he stated that the coffee was better at another shop down the road, here's what he said

very commendable, I believe in supporting the local High Street as well. I hear CafeBuzz in Finchley is rather good !
I prefer Dan + Decarlos in East Finchley

One has to assume he actually has heard of Helen's campaign, hasn't he? I mean he does live around the corner from her and she's been on telly, in films and all over the local press.

Guest Blog - Ten Reasons to Vote Conservative in the Brunswick Park By Election -By Lew Knee

By Lew Knee,

As many Barnet bloggers have been slavishly following the Maoist-Trotskyite "No Cuts, No Change" line, I thought that a bit of balance should be brought into the debate. I have asked Mr Titbum at the Barnet Eye for the opportunity to add some balance to the debate and list the positive reasons for voting Conservative in Barnet.

1. Better Parking Policies. If like me you have a large Jaguar car, lots of money and a mobile phone, there are now loads of places to park easily all over the Borough. Formerly full car parks are now an oasis of calm.

2.  No Road Humps. If like me, you love hurtling around the backstreets of Barnet, in you Jag at 90mph, great little ratruns such as Uphill Road are now a joy to zoom up. Stupid local campaigners say that people like me are a danger to children, but as a firm believer in Darwinism, I believe that if a child doesn't look before the cross the road, that is their business.

3. Less services for old people. If like me you live in a mansion and have a few million in the bank, why should you have to pay for services for old people who didn't bother to save up. My parents worked very hard all their life to ensure they left me a decent inheritence. If the old people's parents didn't bother to do the same, it's their fault.

4. Less services for young people. If, like me, you hate children, especially other peoples, why should you have to pay for them? If you want children fine, just don't expect people like me to pay for their education and hobbies.

5. Better allowances for Senior Councillors. My friends in the Conservative Party voted themselves a huge increase in allowances in 2010, weeks after the election. Now they have no excuse not to stand their round at the Golf Club!

6. The One Barnet Program. Barnet Council want to flog off all of their assets to companies like BT and Capita. As a large shareholder in both companies, this means I'll get lots of lovely dividends and these will be copper bottomed and guaranteed. I'll also make a whacking profit if I flog the shares off.

7. Metpro Security Ltd. As someone who has a large mansion and needs a degree of private security, it was great when Barnet Council used to bankroll Metpro. This meant I was able to have my own "fast response team" to keep me safe at night. If you have need for a security protection service, the last thing you want is one which follows SIA guidelines and has CRB checked staff. I want people who can deal with "problems" in a proper manner, if you know what I mean.

8. Pinkham Way Incinerator. Lets face it, we all produce tons of rubbish a year. This has to be disposed of. It has to be got rid of somewhere and Pinkham Way is the cheapest spot for Barnet. So what if a few NIMBY's don't like it. It is quite laughable that a former sewage works is being touted as some sort of nature reserve. I remember when the smell of fresh turds used to blow in the window on the morning breeze. So what if a few people might get cancer because of the emissions, we all have to die sometime.

9. Friern Barnet Library Closure. Who wants libraries. I agree with Robert Rams. If Burnt Oak library was turned into a Starbucks, the locals would love it. Burnt Oak would go up market. If people want books, as Robert Rams said, they should buy them from Tesco's. The only books I ever buy are those on the Top Shelf. No one would want to borrow those when I've finished with them.

10. Solidarity with Brian Coleman. Contrary to popular myth, Brian Coleman is a lovely man. He dotes on his mum and is much loved by all his friends. So what if he's rude to a few Trots who annoy him? So what if he likes being driven around in a taxi at public expense. Why do you think people become councillors? I don't want a bunch of nobody busybodies, who see it as a mission for the public good. I want people like me to do the job. People who know how to enjoy themselves and people who think "Bugger the poor, it's their own fault".


Lew Knee (not his real name) is a dedicated follower of the Barnet Eye.
Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye. Send via the link in the sidebar.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Saturday 2nd June - John Cooper Clarke at Stoke Newington Literary Festival

On Monday 4th June, John Cooper Clarke is doing a gig at Stoke Newington Literary festival. JCC is brilliant. His poem TWAT is one of my favourite pieces of work. Last night I was picking up my daughter from swimming and she mentioned her disdain for poetry. I asked if she'd ever heard the works of John Cooper Clarke and she sneered. When we arrived home, I got her to watch this YouTube clip of JCC (She's 16 and old enough)

There is also a great interview in the Guardian:-

Perhaps the finest quote from the article
Tony Blair or John Prescott? OK, take the piss out of John Prescott if you like, but who would you rather wake up next to: Pauline or Cherie? Pauline looks like Elizabeth Taylor at her peak. What a goddess. Beautiful!
The best thing about JCC is the fact he doesn't stand for bullshitters. I'm all for a punk rock mentality in such matters and am eternally grateful that I was a teenager in the late 1970's when these attitudes prevailed.

From the Festival Website

Saturday, June 2 at 7:30 PM
STOKE NEWINGTON LITERARY FESTIVAL 2012: John Cooper Clarke : Stoke Newington Literary Festival / with Simon Day
at Stoke Newington Town Hall

John Cooper Clarke’s biting, satirical, political and very funny verse delivered in his rapid-fire performance style has been influential from the days of the punk movement in the late 70s right through to today’s pop culture. Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys cites JCC as a huge inspiration and John’s work appears on the sleeve of one of their singles. 3 of his poems are now in the GCSE syllabus. John will be on stage at 9pm, following the support act.

Tour of Friern Barnet Library Building (outside only)

Tour of Friern Barnet Library Building (outside only)
 Sunday 3rd June
at: 2:00 pm
Meet at: The front entrance of the library building.
Tour Guide:  Ollie Natelson
Cost:  FREE
A book will be available to purchase: Price £4;00, which includes
Cost of printing and a donation to the Save The Friern Barnet Library Group
Numbers on each tour are limited. But this tour will be repeated every half hour until
Either Ollie is exhausted
The sun dips below the horizon

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Boris backs the campaign for fair parking charges in Barnet

For anyone who doubted that Andrew Dismore was the man to replace Brian Coleman at the GLA, we have proof that even Boris prefers his policies to the disasterous policies which cost Coleman his job. Here is Dismore's first question to Boris. His reply could not be a more clear message to the Barnet Tories. Let's just hope that Tory Barnet Council Leader, Richard Cornelius gets the message !

Barnet Parking Charges
Question No: 1322 / 2012
Andrew Dismore
What action have you taken to demand of Barnet Council that they reduce their parking charges bearing in mind you publicly condemned the charges as a “tax” during your walkabout in Barnet?
Written response from the Mayor
Parking charges are a matter for the boroughs. However, I am concerned that decisions over parking policy can often impact on economic development and have a detrimental effect on businesses and high streets.
I do not support parking charges or restrictions that might affect economic development, especially in the current economic climate.

Brunswick Park Byelection - Barnet Tories in disarray

News reaches the Barnet Eye that the Chipping Barnet Conservatives are in a state of panic at the very real prospect of losing the ward. I've had reports from both Conservatives and Labour supporting activists and councillors that there is a very big shift towards a tactical vote to show the Barnet Conservatives that a change of course is necessary and urgent.

There also seems to be a big issue with trust with regards to what the intentions are for the future of Osidge library. It has not escaped notice that the neighbouring library at Friern Barnet has been closed and Councillor Robert Rams has spoken on many occasions on concentrating Library provision at the "three key libraries, one in each ward". It also appears that there are very real issues with the candidate which the Conservatives have chosen. People are aware that she is playing fast and loose with the truth. She has claimed to simply be an ordinary working mother, but evidence has emerged that she is a very active member of the Conservative party, with links far and wide. She has a senior role in the Conservative Muslim Forum which for some reason she mentions nowhere in her leaflet. Whilst this organisation is a mainstream body, which is highly respected, one wonders why the candidate is so loathe to play down her association? You would think that as a member of a powerful organisation, she would be keen to extoll the virtues of the organisation and her leading role in it.

Members of the Barnet Alliance for Public Services are giving out leaflets explaining why a tactical vote will be the best possible result for Barnet. Following the demise of Brian Coleman due to such tactical voting, Barnet Council have undertaken a strategic review of parking policies. Only a resounding rejection of the mess they have created will drive the message through that we can't wait any longer for reform. If you want to help end the parking chaos, join the Barnet Alliance at New Southgate station tomorrow between 5pm and 7pm and help make a change for the better.


Tell tale signs that your co worker may be Gay?

I have just found out that, after 49 years on the planet,  there is a very strong possibility I may be a homosexual. Whilst researching a follow up blog to the spat between two of our local MP's, Matthew Offord and Mike Freer over gay marriage, I came across a rather interesting website.Here are some of the 23 ways you can tell if your co-worker is gay. I have chosen only the ones which have caused me to question my own sexuality after reading them. The site is called

My comments in italics

The article is

Do they insist on using a Mac?
Studies show Mac users are mostly gay. Both butt-cowboys and muff-munchers alike gravitate towards the shiny Apple logo of sin. If you notice one of these around your place of work you may want to go on alert. There is probably a homogay behind the screen. If you go anywhere near their desk they will probably try to sexually harass you if you are of the same sex, if not they will do nothing but scorn you as you have nothing to provide for their deviant sexual appetites. (yup, I own a MAC,wrote this blog on it)

Have they ever asked you to go to the theater?
Theater is a known homogay activity and if anyone of your same sex asks you to accompany them it is so they can drug and rape you when you fall asleep from sheer boredom. Many homogays try to attack co-workers in this fashion because it leaves the victim too shamed to seek help from the police, knowing that everyone at work will know they were penetrated by Bob from accounting. Don’t let this happen to your sweet Christian anal virginity. As many Christians already know, with a big enough Bible you can beat the gay right out of someone. (yup, I go to the theatre, I especially like musicals)

Do you often hear brags of excessive alcoholism?
Most homogays drink a lot. They even have bars where only homogays can go. When your co-workers brag about being intoxicated the night before mostly it is because they don’t go to church and have homogay in their hearts. They try to fill the void of Jesus in their souls and instead try to replace it with cheap rum, which then leads to unprotected anal homosex in cold parking lots on late drunken nights. Then it leads to unbearable shame. Shame leads to more drinking. More drinking leads to more anal sex. And so on, and so on… (yup, I drink too much beer, drinking beer has lead to unbearable shame on a number of occasions)

Is there vegetarian food in the office fridge?
Vegitarian food spells homogay clearer than fifteen foot letters on the side of a hill. A lack of protein in ones diet has been proven by various studies to cause gayness in both male and female subjects. Lest the gay invade your place of work, sneak tiny pieces of meat in the food container in hopes of countering the effect. If you feel it is already too late for that approach, all you have left is stocking the company fridge with holy ribs and bacon to counteract the smell of hippie.(yup, I follow a semi vegetarian diet and so does my wife, oh dear, I should have guessed)

When there is a birthday, does one person hog all the cake?
Gluttony is a sin and so is homogayness, and all sin goes hand in hand with each other. Especially because people tend to eat when they are depressed, and studies show that homogays often feel a certain shame about their lifestyle because God makes it that way and will try to eat a lot to compensate for the loss of self respect in their lives. If you notice one of your co-workers gorging themselves it is probably because they can’t stand the shame of being in the closet any longer. (yup, I'm  a greedy pig)

Does anyone use the term “FYI”?
FYI is a homogay term originally meant to mean “For Your Anus” but they didn’t know how to spell anus. This is because, and we have studies to back us up on this, the homogay infected brain is seen to have less activity in the creative areas, which control your ability to read and write properly. If you notice one of your co-workers using this terminology, inform them of their error. If they continue to use it anyways, pray to God to smite them with AIDS. (yup, I'm  use the term FYI, especially in emails)

Has anyone recently tried to steal your parking spot?
Gays have entitlement issues. When they see something they feel they should have, even though they haven’t earned it, they often just try to sneak in like a weasel and take it. The guys are more weaselish anyways. The lesbians just bulldog their way into things. They all have the same rainbow sticker somewhere on the back of their car amongst hordes of other environmental hippie gibberish that will only make you want to set fire to it. That stuff is there to mock people like you and me and our decent Christian ideals. It is best to leave this one alone, however, and park far away from them as they tend to wait around their cars after work looking for someone to rape. (yup, I've nicked peoples parking spots, I clearly have entitlement issues)
Now as you may have gathered, the website may not be as completely serious as some other American websites on the subject.  Maybe I just have a sick sense of humour, but I do like humour that lampoons extremist views. Interestingly, perhaps more serious publications don't really seem to be any more helpful. The NHS website actually reports the following ( )
The Daily Telegraph boldly and erroneously reports that “women really do have a 'gaydar' which allows them to tell someone's sexuality 'in the blink of an eye'”, while the Sun informs us that “most people have a ‘gaydar’”.
The NHS website concludes
Guessing another person’s sexuality can be a sensitive area. This study highlights the importance of not making snap decisions based on your own subjective judgement of someone else’s sexuality because of the high chance that you may be wrong.
Perhaps a more pertinent question should be "Who cares?". In my opinion, if you work with someone and suspect they are gay, even though they have never told you, then maybe you should consider the fact that you have a problem.They haven't shared their sexual preference with you and that is the end of the matter. It really is none of your business whatsoever.  Get over it.

Captain Useless Special - Who saved all the pies

MP for Hendon (AKA Captain Useless, Souperman, Matthew Leviticus - the scourge of gay couples and Roverman the ex officio minister for Dogs human rights) has claimed yet another famous victory. His campaign to save the pasty has paid dividends. George Osborne has crumbled in the face of Matthews ferocious campaign. Having made a name for himself, early in career by allegedly thumping one of the Tory whips (no one told Matthew that whips are meant to do the whipping) and hurtling around the world as part of the Parliamentary Armed Forces program, taking part in military operations and vanquishing drug dealers everywhere (except for Hendon). Matthew came out, strongly against the pasty tax on his website.

It is believed that the brains behind Matthews highly popular revolt was his chief policy adviser and pet Jack Russell dog, Maximus. Max has on many occasions expressed his strong support for makers of sausage rolls and pasties. He is especially partial to a steak slice. The Barnet Eye contacted Max for a comment, but he was clearly feeling Ruff. Rumour has it that Max and his protoge Matthew may have been overdoing the celebrating of his famous victory. We hope Matthew gets better soon !

Sunday 27 May 2012

A quick lesson in what is wrong with Barnet Council

If you want to know why Barnet Council is such an inefficient organisation, you really do not need to look very far at all. Simply go to the page where you can look at the DPR's ( decisions made by Council officials without debate in the council chamber and pick any one you like. The page is here
I thought I'd pick the most boring sounding one as possible to prove the point. The second last one is entitled "Green sweeping sacks". Can any council decision about such a mundane task really give any clue as to how inefficient Barnet Council really is? Here is the link to the document :-

And here is what is contained, followed by my analysis.
1683 - Green Sweeping Sacks

Page one is a list of senior council officials who signed off the contract.
They are
1.Jeremy Williams
2.Paul Frost
3. Jayne Fitzgerald
4. Lesley Meeks
5. Stephen Stewart
6. Andrew Nathan
7. Declan Hoare
The report was prepared by Dave Ward, street cleansing manager and signed off by Declan Hoare, who earns £86,823 as assistant Director of Environment, regeneration and planning. In effect, one person wrote a report that said that a company called BPI produced Green recyling sacks for 3.895p each and "company B" wanted to charge 4.3p per bag. The council will be spending £55,000 per annum. That is approximately 1.45 million green bags a year. Now you may think that a contract costing £55,000 probably needs a bit of scrutiny. I wouldn't argue. I would however argue that a contract to buy bin bags does not need "clearance" from an equalities and diversity officer. There are situations where this is right and proper, but buying bin bags? Does it need clearance from the "policies and partnerships" team and the "strategic procurement" clearance from a different person? Surely they need a procurement team who have a set of equalities guidelines, understand the policies and partnerships and know the policy on "strategic procurement". It is clear that there is a whole layer of bureaucracy in Barnet all doing the same thing.

So seven people have read the report, including an assistant director. These Bin bags must have gone through a rigorous process of scrutiny to be bought, you would think? Well actually, no. The legal department said
6.1 This is one of a number of Contracts within EPR, and certain other Directorates,where, for whatever reason, formal contract documentation was not finalised as it should have been. Based on what is shown in this Report, the Procurement Process has been competitive and a VFM test will be satisfied by the way it has been conducted.

6.2 It is perfectly possible to produce and regularise, Terms and Conditions and a Scope leading to an effective, manageable, legally correct Contract and Legal Services are happy to accept such instruction and are resourced to ensure such is put into place as swiftly as practical.
So in other words, seven different people have read the report, but there is no proper contract to spend £55,000. I suppose I wouldn't have been minded to highlight this ineffeciency if they'd actually managed to cobble together a contract, but nope. Even worse, the legal team said they be perfectly happy to be instructed to put one together to protect the taxpayer from the effects of the deal going belly up.

So it appears that the council are quite happy to do business in this way. Have half a dozen officers scrutinise the report, legal point out that no contract exists, say that they can draw one up, but the whole thing gets signed off anyway.One has to ask the question why Barnet Council don't simply have a contract template for all such deals that could have the companies name imprinted and the amounts, with a few specifics amended to reflect the nature of the deal.

Now you may think that all of this is not important. What could possibly go wrong buying a stack of bin bags. There are a long list of scandals, all of which cost the taxpayer a fortune, precisely because Barnet Council either had no contract or a badly drawn up one. Doing the basics is called good practise. It seems that even though they've screwed up time and time again, they haven't learned anything.

I suppose it is worth noting that this falls under the Environment portfolio at Barnet Council. Brian Coleman was recently sacked from this job. I genuinely hope that his replacement, Dean Cohen gets to grips with this issue and tells his staff, in no uncertain terms, that this sort of thing is not good enough. When will Barnet Council wake up to the fact that good practise is in everyones best interests.

Moving away from the pulsebeat - Buzzcocks at Brixton Academy

Last night I went down to Brixton Academy to see the Buzzcocks. I suspect that these days most people know the bind purely by their name and the TV show. Then there are a whole other lot of people who know the band by the various cover versions of "Ever Fallen in Love". And then there are people like me who think "Another music in a different kitchen" is one of the finest albums ever made. For some reason I always thought of the Buzzcocks as a bit of a strange band. They never quite fitted into any genre. They were not quite a punk band, although they were an integral part of the scene. They seemed in some ways "poppier" than the rest of the bands on the scene, yet their first single was lovingly entitled Orgasm Addict and for some strange reason I found the cover of the single deeply disturbing at the time (probably my Catholic upbringing).

The Buzzcocks performing "Moving away from the Pulsebeat".

The last time I'd seen the Buzzcocks was probably in 1979. They effectively did two sets, the first was the current line up doing later material, then the second half of the show was the "classic" line up. Thy kicked off with "Fast Cars". This was one of my favourite songs, so I knew I'd enjoy the gig. Half way through someone decided to shower Steve Diggle with beer. Bad mistake. Clearly they have forgotten that punk bands are a bit more feisty than some of the newer arrivals on the scene. "If you want to do that, fuckin come up here and i'll knock you out, dickhead, fucking coward hiding behind a crowd" or words to that effect. No more beer was thrown.

There are many great tracks performed by the Buzzcocks. The whole crowd joined in for "aah aah's" as the set warmed up. There are many tracks by the Buzzcocks which I love, but right now "Sixteen again" seems to be the most poignant. Whilst it is merely a song, there is some very relevent philosophy present in Pete Shelley's wise words

Feeling like I'm almost sixteen again Layin' 'round doing nothing like all my friends Play it cool don't get angry count up to ten Just like I was sixteen again
No one gets the lowdown right from the start Everybody gets the showdown right from the heart But that's all that's on the menu and life's a la carte I don't know
Things in life are not played for keeps And it makes you happy, it'll make you weep And if you want some more practical advice If you can't think once then don't think twice 'Cos things won't seem so nice You'll wish you were sixteen again, oh no
Feeling rather strange when you're sixteen again Things don't seem the same, the past is so plain This future is our future, this time's not a game This time you're sixteen again
Always on your own when there's nobody else Asking myself would I be someone else? But after all life's only death's recompense I don't know
Things in life are not played for keeps If it makes you happy it'll make you weep And if you want some more practical advice If you can't think once then don't think twice 'Cos things won't seem so nice You'll wish you were sixteen again, oh no
Look at me here I am for your eyes Mirrored proof of what you recognize I know I never will feel quite like you And I know you won't treat me right till I do But at least we'll know it's true That I'm sixteen again, oh no
Feeling like I'm almost sixteen again Layin' 'round doing nothing like all my friends Play it cool don't get angry count up to ten Just like I was sixteen again
Always on your own when there's nobody else Asking myself would I be someone else? But after all life's only death's recompense I don't know
Look at me here I am for your eyes Mirrored proof of love's suicide I know I never will feel quite like you And I know you won't treat me right till I do But at least we'll know it's true That I'm sixteen again, oh no
Sixteen again Sixteen again
For the encore we got a real treat. Original vocalist, Howard Devoto arrived on stage. Devoto went bald early. Much of the audience now has caught him up. It was rather interesting how someone who seemed prematurely old and strange and a bit arty  has morphed into the ageing rock star with grace and humour and now looks young for his age. His advice "turn up your hearing aids" was then blasted by a great rendition of "breakdown", "Times up" and "Boredom" from Spiral Scratch. I'd never seen Devoto with the band, so it was a real treat. I doubt it will be another 33 years before I see the band.

Saturday 26 May 2012

Barnet Council - Getting it wrong on Parking

What on earth is up with Barnet Council? Why can't they just admit they got it completely wrong and sort it out? I am referring to the issues surrounding the enormous stealth taxes which the parking revenues have become. Earlier this month, Brian Coleman lost his seat at the GLA as a direct response of his hugely unpopular policies. Recognising that these policies and Colemans unpopularity could cost them the council, Barnet Tories moved swiftly to sack him from the cabinet and replace him with Dean Cohen who reportedly comes from the sensible wing of the Barnet Tory party.

Cohen has moved quickly to announce a review, scrapping parking charges in some of the Boroughs car parks and promising a look at how the effects of other charges can be mitigated. Sadly none of the measures Dean Cohen has proposed address the three issues which have got Barnet traders and residents hot under the collar. The first of these is the abolition of pay and display machines on the High Streets. The second is the huge hike in parking charges and the third is the huge hike in charges for CPZ permits.

Sadly for everyone failing to address these issues shows that at a basic level, they just don't get it. Abolishing charges at a few council car parks does not address the issue that shops get no passing trade, because motorists who haven't registered, don't have time or the inclination to go through the process if they just want to buy a paper or a packet of cigarettes. It doesn't address the fact that a motorist, even if they have registered, will not pay £2 to park for an hour, whilst they have a cup of tea costing £1.30 at a High Street Cafe. Worst of all, it doesn't address the huge cost of visitors vouchers for people living in CPZ areas. These have gone up from 35p to £4 in ten years. If they had followed the rate of inflation for the same period they would be less than 50p. We have had ten years of Conservative rule in Barnet. They promised us that they would "make the council more effiecient". If this is the case, why does it now cost us more than ten times what it did before, when we visit friends who live in CPZ areas? Surely if they had, as they claimed, made the council more efficient, then costs would have actually decreased.

Sadly though, the idea of efficiency is a myth. We are paying through the nose for fat cat bosses at Barnet.  When the Tories took over, the CEO was Leo Boland on a salary of £114,000 a year. Not a bad package you may think. When he left, he was replaced by his understudy, Nick Walkley. The council used the excuse that they needed to pay top dollar to recruit the best staff. How they can justify a salary of £200,000 a year to attract Walkley who already worked for them, I just don't know.

It is interesting that the difference between Bolands package and Walkleys package is £86,000. Rather oddly, this is more or less exactly the difference in costs claimed by Robert Rams between the running costs of the newly opened Arts Depot mini library and the recently closed Friern Barnet library. It seems that the library has had to be shut to pay for Walkleys pay hike.

The real reason that all of these charges have been raised and the librarys have been shut is because the council wants to freeze council tax and pay hefty wages to top executives. They have also hiked many of the allowances for councillors.

The Barnet Bloggers suggested that senior executives on over £100,000 per year (apparently there were 47 of them last year) and Barnet Councillors take a pay cut. Strangely enough this council, which claims a commitment to driving down costs, hasn't even replied to these suggestions. Why could that be?

Friday 25 May 2012

The Friday Joke -25/5/2012

Well, strictly speaking not jokes, but they made me laugh

“He has been going around the country deliberately stirring up apathy” William Whitelaw on Harold Wilson
“When they circumcised Herbert Samuel, they threw away the wrong bit” David Lloyd George on the Liberal home secretary
“Tell him I can only deal with one sh-- at a time” Winston Churchill on being disturbed in his toilet by a call from the Lord Privy Seal
“His smile is like the silver fittings on a coffin” Benjamin Disraeli on Robert Peel

“He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends” Oscar Wilde
“It is a typical triumph of modern science to find the only bit of Randolph which is not malignant, and remove it” Evelyn Waugh, upon hearing that Randolph Churchill had been operated on for a benign tumour
“Her trouble is that she lacks the power of conversation, but not the power of speech” George Bernard Shaw
“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts – for support rather than illumination” Andrew Lang

“They have sent me a Flanders mare!” King Henry VIII on Anne of Cleves
“A huge fur ball on two overdeveloped legs” Nancy Mitford on Princess Margaret
“He’s a world expert on leisure. He’s been practising it all his life” Neil Kinnock on the Duke of Edinburgh
“Such an active lass. She loves nature in spite of what it did to her” Bette Midler on Princess Anne

“After Braveheart, they said he’d never make a true Scotsman, but look at him now – alcoholic and racist” Frankie Boyle on Mel Gibson
“Elizabeth Taylor’s so fat, she puts mayonnaise on her aspirins” Joan Rivers
“A face to launch a thousand dredgers” Jack de Manio on Glenda Jackson
“His acting is so bad, even his impersonation of a drunk is unconvincing” Critic Harry Medved on Dean Martin
“Just because she’s dead doesn’t mean she’s gonna change” Bette Davis on Joan Crawford

“Curse the blasted, jelly-boned swines, the slimy, belly-wriggling invertebrates, the miserable, sodding rotters, the flaming sods, the snivelling, dribbling, dithering, palsied, pulse-less lot that make up England today. God, how I hate them” DH Lawrence after having his manuscript of 'Sons and Lovers’ rejected
“That’s not writing, it’s typing” Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac
“Literary awards are like haemorrhoids. Sooner or later, every ----hole gets one” Frederic Raphael
“He chews more than he bites off” Clover Adams on Henry James
“So boring, you fall asleep halfway through her name” Alan Bennett on Arianna Stassinopoulos (now Huffington)
“I have tried to read Shakespeare, and I found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me” Charles Darwin

“[You are a] knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch”  Kent in 'King Lear’
“I would not marry her, though she were endowed with all that Adam had left him before he transgressed”  Benedick in 'Much Ado About Nothing’
“She hath more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs, and more wealth than faults”  Speed in 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona’

“In my experience, men are creatures with two legs and eight arms” Jayne Mansfield
“I married beneath me. All women do” Lady Astor
“Biologically speaking, you are more likely to be attacked by the female of the species” Desmond Morris
“In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily”  Count Talleyrand
“Women should be obscene and not heard”  Groucho Marx
“Being a woman is a terribly difficult business, as it consists principally of dealing with men” Joseph Conrad
“The only time my wife and I had a simultaneous orgasm was when the judge signed the divorce papers”  Woody Allen
“Sir, you are drunk.”  “Indeed, madam, and you are ugly. But I shall be sober in the morning”  Winston Churchill to Bessie Braddock

“I don’t think heading the ball has got anything to do with it. Footballers are stupid enough anyway”  A Football Association spokesman refuting a claim that heading the ball could cause brain damage
“Most people are using two-piece cues now, but Alex Higgins doesn’t have one because they don’t come with instructions”  Steve Davis
“He can’t kick with his left foot, he can’t head, he can’t tackle, and he doesn’t score many goals. Apart from that, he’s all right”  George Best on David Beckham
“The only time he opens his mouth is to change feet”  Irish golfer David Feherty on Nick Faldo
“What problems do you have, apart from being blind, unemployed and a moron?”  John McEnroe to a Wimbledon spectator

The gems of Mill Hill

This weekend is going to be absolutely glorious. Luckily for me, I live in Mill Hill. There are many great things about living in Mill Hill, but one of the best is that if you jump on a train, you can be in central London in twenty minutes, but if you go for a walk you can be in surrounded by green fields in no time at all. Let me share with you what I will be doing on Sunday, assuming the weather holds out.

One of the hidden gems of Mill Hill is Finchley Nurseries in Burtonhole Lane ( They have a fantastic selection of bedding plants, pots, composts and shrubs. It is  a family owned business which has been in Mill Hill for seventy years. It is a great place to come down and spend a bit of time browsing. They also sell fresh grown fruit and veg (in season) as well as barbeque sets and the sheds.

I particularly like the selection of stone statues, bird baths, stone pots  and other such items and my garden has a fair few of them in there. They have a whole section of landscaping products on site and a service to landscape your garden if required.

Also on site is the Mill Hill Aquatic centre AKA Pond Life. The have all the accessories necessary for your pond, a huge stock of coldwater fish such as goldfish, sticklebacks, koi, minnows and orfe. They also stock tropicals and are a great place to get your water and marginal plants. They have pond liners, pumps, fish food and can give expert advice on any problems or issues. They are also ethical stockist, so don't stock marine tropicals or corals. They have water features and other fish related garden furniture. The fine metal sculpture featured in the picture was supplied by my brother Laurie at Bunns Lane welding for their display !

As they have a fine car park, with a catering facility, it is a great place to start a walk around Totteridge Valley. I like to get a cup of tea and a bacon roll as an accompanyment to my journey. It is a short but pleasant walk to Darlands Lake Nature reserve, one of the highlights of the Borough.

View Larger Map

Darlands used to have a boating lake and be stocked with massive carp. Sadly it has been let go by Barnet Council, but is still a fantastic place to visit and chill out  at. The history and details are here -'s_Lake_Nature_Reserve.

Depending on what you want to do next, you can either walk across Totteridge valley and emerge at the Orange Tree, a fine pub with a great menu - The 251 bus provides a service from the pub to Mill Hill, Edgware, Totteridge and Arnos Grove.

If you wish to head back to Mill Hill, then the Adam and Eve pub is also as fine venue for lunch or just a refreshing pint - .  They have a large garden which is superb for a sunny day relaxing in Mill Hill. The Adam & Eve and Finchley Nurseries are on the 240 bus route from  Mill Hill, Edgware, Hendon and Golders Green.

And before any one asks, none of these businesses have paid for the plug. I just happen to live in Mill Hill and want to see those people who run and work in local businesses thrive. We are currently undergoing a deep recession, which seems to get worse by the day. I urge everyone to support their local traders, local businesses and local amenities. I guarantee that a walk around  Darlands lake is a journey well worth making.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Barnet Council claim Arts Depot library only costs £34,200

Many thanks to Councillor Robert Rams for drawing our attention to the letter in the Barnet Press from Bill Murphy, assistant director of Customer services. There is an old adage that to be a good liar, you need to have a good memory. If your memory is good enough to stretch back to yesterday, you will have seen a link to the Prime Time BBC show, the One Show. This featured Friern Barnet Peoples Library and there was a quote from Barnet Council that they needed to save a million pounds. Given that the net saving from the closure of Friern Barnet and the opening of the Arts Depot library is less than £90,000 (if you believe the figures are accurate), then it is clear that there are some whoppers being told.
There are quite a dew distortions in this comparison. First there is no way that the Arts Depot Library can be compared with the Friern Library. For a start, it is tiny in comparison. The opening hours are restricted and it has a fraction of the number of books. It has not even got a link to the Barnet Council library system.  It does not serve the needs of the Friern Barnet community and is simply an extension of the Church End Library which is more or less across the road. The staff at Church End are required to cover the shifts at the Arts Depot. It will be interesting to see how their hours are accounted for. 
As it has less books it will be interesting to see what exactly the figures mean. We need to see a full set of accounts for each operation.
I would be most interested to see if any cost for the management overhead involved in the setting up had been taken into account. Would you be surprised if every conceivable costing has been added to the Friern Library number and every possible ruse used to minimise the number in the Arts Depot figure?
To save the taxpayers of Barnet the cost of an FOI, I've tweeted to my friend Councillor Rams to ask him to publish the full budgets on his blog. We shall see what transpires

 Robert thanks for the link I trust you will be publishing a full breakdown of how these budgets were calculated on your blog