Wednesday 31 October 2012

Richard Cornelius admits he's not up to the job of Leading Barnet Council

Dr Evil (AKA Richard Cornelius) has just admitted to the Barnet Times that he's not up to the job of being Leader of Barnet Council. When talking about the (lack of a ) decision by the Barnet Tories to suspend Brian Coleman, he said:
I’ve never dealt with anything like this in the past before but equally I’ve only been group leader for a year. I have found it very difficult to deal with because I know and like Brian. These allegations have come along and I’ve found it very difficult to handle.
What a complete plonker. Does he not have any press advisers. He has admitted dithering because "he likes Brian". What about if it was a member of the team who he didn't like. What about the reputation of the Barnet Conservative Party and Barnet Council?

Leadership is about making tough decisions, which come out of the blue. Saying you've never been in the position before or you've only been leader for a year is a complete dereliction of duty. At the moment, Barnet Council is making a monumental decision about outsourcing a billion pounds worth of business to private contractors in the One Barnet Program. Richard Cornelius has never presided over a Obne Billion Pound Gamble with our money before either. He's only been Leader for a year and hye clearly finds big decisions tough.

It doesn't exactly make you feel confident, when you know that all of the senior Council officers are telling him "there is no alternative", does it?

Read the Barnet Times story here -

The Barnet Eye and Councillor Brian Coleman - A personal statement

Yesterday Brian Coleman had his membership suspended by the Conservative party. The Barnet Eye and Brian Coleman have history. Brian Coleman was directly responsible for the creation of this blog. My blogging career started at the Hendon Times in May 2008. I was the first of the "Barnet Bloggers". Following a series of blogs which were highly critical of Barnet Council and Brian Coleman, I was sacked by the Times as a blogger. I was told that Brian Coleman had boasted that this was down to his efforts. Apparently he announced "Tichborne is finished" and claimed the credit.

Sadly his victory proved pyric. At the Times I was under strick control and was given a list of things I couldn't blog about ( a week which grew weekly during my tenure). When I started the Barnet Eye, all of these constraints were removed.

In April 2009, I sent an email to every councillor in Barnet suggesting that the then Leader, Mike Freer had shown poor judgement in calling bloggers "wankers" in a podcast. Coleman responded with an abusive email. I reported him to the Standards committee. In September 2009, I won the case, but the committee took no action, other than telling Coleman to go on a course on how to write polite emails (something he didnt' do). He went out and celebrated, claiming he'd beaten me again (even though he lost).

In May 2010, I stood for Council and lost. Coleman danced a jig and claimed he'd "beaten me again", even though he wasn't standing in Mill Hill ward. All of this time, I was writing blogs and building up readership. In August 2011, I found a DPR detailing how Barnet Council were planning to abolish Pay and Display on the sly. This was a Brian Coleman initiative. I immediately started blogging furiously. In January 2012, I attended a business breakfast with Council Leader Richard Cornelius. A local trader called Helen Michael stood up and tore into the Council policy.

I immediately contacted Helen, as we were making a film called "A Tale of Two Barnets" and thought she'd make an excellent interviewee. I was not wrong. As a result of the film, Helen was interviewed for a film on ITV Tonight called "How much is your council charging you". Brian Coleman had found his nemesis. Helen campaigned for the reinstatement of Pay and Display, Coleman ignored all pleas. Helen and other local groups launched the ABC campaign "Anyone But Coleman". He lost the GLA in May. He also hadn't learned from losing his standards case against me. He did it again and lost. He was ordered to apologise.

In September, he was arrested following an incident in North Finchley involving Helen Michael. He was charged last monday with Assault. Yesterday, Coleman was suspended from the Conservative Party.

Am I dancing a jig and claiming I've finally beaten him? Nope, I'm rather sad. I'm sad Coleman didn't learn in 2009 that he should treat people with respect. That was the lesson I hoped he'd learn. He didn't. Now his political career lies in tatters. He has only himself to blame, but this blog is not celebrating. His age of misrule in Barnet parking has killed at least 30 shops in Barnet High Streets, forced out when customers disappeared following his parking regime. How can this be celebrated? I still hope Brian Coleman learns. He is reputedly writing a book. I sincerely hope there is a chapter in it where he acknowledges that if he'd shown a modicum of respect to people, he'd still be in a job. As it is, it is rather like a Greek tragedy.  Some may conclude that like the city of Troy, it appears that Brian Colemans demise has been brought about by a Helen. I happen to think that it is entirely self inflicted.

Brian Coleman suspended by the Conservative Party

There is an extraordinary report on the Times newspaper website, stating that Brian Coleman has been suspended by the national Conservative Party. The local Tories were due to vote on whether to keep him in the party yesterday evening. It seems that the national party ran out of patience and didn't trust the local mob to do the decent thing. The news was kept under wraps until the local meeting. It appears that the local vote was cancelled as a result.

When I heard of this, I was reminded of the classic song "yesterdays papers" by the Rolling Stones. It seems that right now, no one wants Brian Coleman. He is very much yesterdays papers. There is a line in the third verse which says

"And all of these people just can't wait 
To fall right into their big mistake"

The sad truth is that when Brian Coleman was arrested for assault, this was the reaction of just about everyone I knew. It wasn't a shock, everyone just seemed to think it was a matter of time before something happened. It took two standards hearings, the "sad, mad and two old hags" comment, an arrest and a charge, and still the local Conservative party locally did nothing. In the end Cameron and Co had enough. I wonder what credibility is left now for Richard Cornelius and his merry men. If their own party can't trust them to make a decision about their own members, how on earth can anyone trust them to run the Borough.

Brian Coleman has brought the way Barnet is being run into sharp focus. Yesterday was yet another appalling day in Barnet politics for the Conservatives. As well as the local party in effect being declared unfit to administer itself by the national party, we had the undeifying spectacle of Councillor Robert Rams, Barnets libraries supremo, announcing that one year after stating that a landmark library would be opened at the Arts Depot, this wouldn't be happening because the rent was too high. I run several businesses and my family has run a commercial property business in Mill Hill since 1977. The very first thing you put on your business case, before anything else is added are the known costs. The biggest of these is usually the rent. The fact that Rams only found out it was too high, a year after the annoucement shows that he is totally unfit for the job. Rams and Coleman are close buddies. Coleman was GLA rep from 2000 to 2012 and Rams runs the Conservative office at the GLA.

I would suggest that if the Tories actually a few selected people who have a bit of experience in jobs where they were spending their own money, rather than taxpayers, and realised that the customer is king, maybe they would have avoided all of these pitfals. As it is, like lemmings in search of a cliff, if they fall off a cliff and survive, their first reaction is "I survived that, where can I find a bigger cliff to leap off".

Brian Coleman is most definately yesterdays man although it seems likely that he will still be in the papers for a few weeks. The Rolling Stones sang in verse 2 of "Yesterdays papers":

I'm living a life of constant change  
Every day means the turn of a page 
Yesterdays papers are such bad news  
Same thing applies to me and you

He could have sung this to his colleagues at the Tory group meeting. What none of them seems to have twigged is that what is bad for Brian Coleman is bad for the whole lot of them. To the people of Barnet, he is their figurehead and the fact that the national party had to step in to suspend him, shows that they must still support him. Shameful really.

(Coleman also made the ITV London Tonight news - )

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Brian Coleman apologises to Mr Ron Cohen

Here is the letter of apology from Councillor Brian Coleman, to Mr R. Cohen, sent as instructed by the Barnet Council sub commitee, posted without comment (it needs none), for Mr Colemans abusive email.

Coleman Letter

Barnet bloggers write to local Councillors to halt the Billion Pound Gamble

Today,  five Barnet bloggers sent an email to every Councillor elected to serve the people of Barnet, calling on them to see sense and halt the One Barent Billion Pound Gamble. The full text is printed below. The Barnet eye has links to the other Barnet blogs in the side bar. We will publish any suitable responses we receive
Dear Councillors

In the next few days you will be asked to vote on a motion of no confidence in the Conservative party leader Richard Cornelius.

You will no doubt be asked to express your loyalty to Councillor Cornelius and to defeat the motion.

As local residents we would like to ask you to think very carefully about the consequences of such an action.

We know that many of you are now deeply concerned about the future of the Conservative administration, that you have profound misgivings about the viability of the One Barnet programme, and that you are also concerned by the response of the leader to issues arising from the arrest and consequent charging of your colleague Councillor Brian Coleman, in relation to an alleged assault. The announcement today that the much trumpeted Landmark Library plan has fallen through can only add to your sense of misgiving.

The continuing difficulties felt by residents and traders over the contentious parking policy has caused enormous damage to the relationship of trust between this administration and the residents of Barnet, and now it has become abundantly clear that the massive scale of privatisation of a further £1 billion worth of council services envisaged by the One Barnet project is hugely unpopular not only amongst residents and voters, but within your own ranks.

Last week Andrew Travers, the newly appointed 'interim' Chief Executive of Barnet Council, affirmed to a committee that the 'Joint Venture' model was still very much under consideration, despite the fact that elected members have not been involved in the discussions for such a proposal, and that the leader has stated previously that he was being excluded from such discussions.

Councillors must ask themselves why they are being distanced from policy decisions of such vital significance. Who is in control of this council, councillors or the officers of the senior management team?

Once the £1 billion contracts are signed, of course, elected members will effectively lose all control over almost all of our council services, which will then be in the hands of unaccountable private companies for a period of ten years, with huge financial penalties to the authority, that is to say to residents, should any serious difficulties arise, which they inevitably will.

Councillors must also ask why there never been an independent assessment of the risks posed by the One Barnet programme, and why there has been such a clear failure to mitigate the risk of conflict of interest raised by the exchange of senior officers between the council and the private companies bidding for contracts as part of the One Barnet programme.

Such an apparent lack of regulation might reasonably be said to have compromised the whole procurement process, and to have exposed the authority to legal challenge, a prospect already a clear possibility on the basis of the blatantly inadequate consultation with the residents and stakeholders who will be bearing the full impact of the privatisation of almost all our council services.

Another question that must be addressed is the extraordinary level of cost to local taxpayers of Agilysis/iMPOWER, the consultants who are acting as the One Barnet 'implementation partners' - newly released figures reveal that their bill for September alone cost us nearly half a million pounds, and spending on all consultants, wildly out of control, is now estimated to reach a staggering total of £9.5 million.

Such extravagance with taxpayers' money at a time of austerity, with no return in the form of savings is clearly a reckless indulgence, benefiting no one other than the consultants themselves. In combination with the loss in revenue as a result of the newly privatised parking service, it perfectly illustrates the improbability of the delivery of any of the promised savings from the outsourced profit of the One Barnet programme.

Last week Cornwall County Council voted to halt their own Joint Venture proposals at a late stage in the negotiations, due to the extent of concern felt by councillors and residents over the plans for their large scale privatisation of council services. The Conservative leader lost a vote of no confidence, having shown a determination to proceed with the plans in the face of enormous opposition.

Now here in Barnet you, our elected representatives, face the same choice as your Cornish counterparts - and now is the time for you to have the courage to act.

Please use this opportunity to bring a halt to the One Barnet programme and instigate a fundamental review of a commitment which will place the long term future of our borough, our services, our residents, in the hands of unaccountable private sector companies using us for their own profit.
Please take this last opportunity to stand up for what you know is right, what is the sensible thing to do.

Derek Dishman
John Dix
Vicki Morris
Theresa Musgrove
Roger Tichborne

Councillor Robert Rams credibility lies in tatters as Arts Depot library plan collapses

Councillor Robert Rams announced today, via his little read blog, that the Councils plans to open a "landmark library" at the Arts Depot has collapsed. This library was part of the promise to the people of Friern Barnet when he announced his deeply unpopular plan to shut Friern Barnet library.

In Rams blog today, he shows his total incompetence. In his blog, he explains that the Arts Depot wanted too much rent for the space. Having run a business for 33 years, the one thing I know is that before you plan any business relocation, you check what the rent will be. For Rams to announce, a year after the plan was announced and six months after he shut Friern Library, that the rent was too high, exposes him as a plonker of the first order. His claim that the Arts depot "show little understanding of the financial pressures facing us as a council" reveals a level of commercial naivety beyond anything I've ever seen.

He also claims that members of the community want a landmark library in Friary House. They do not. The only people who do are Roberts imaginary friends who come out to play when he visits the fairies at the bottom of the garden. Rams has refused to meet with members of the various community groups, sending in hapless lackeys with no power to make decisions.

Rams also produces completely discredited figures about the running costs in his blog. The Save Friern Barnet group were able to show that these figures were completely false, based on five full time librarians at the site. As the library was only open for 33 hours a week, and no one had seen more than two, this was clearly a rather dodgy piece of accounting.

I wonder if Robert Rams colleagues read his blog. If they do, I am sure they will be appalled. I have berated the local Conservative councillors for their lack of understanding of the issues facing small business. Rams has demonstrated that they have absolutely no business acumen at all with his ridiculous statement

You can read the whole sorry tale on Rams blog.

Today marks a new low in the already sorry tale of this Conservative Council. Tonight the Conservative Group has a meeting to decide the fate of Brian Coleman. I'd suggest that whilst they are at it, they should sack Rams and replace him with someone who has a modicum of integrity, common sense and business acumen.

Day of reckoning for Oddjob Coleman

Today is a  big day for Brian Coleman. Six months ago, Brian was riding high. He was the GLA rep for Barnet and Camden, he was the chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), being wined and dined by the good and the great. Today may well be the day when it all ends in tears. The downfall of Brian Coleman has been rapid. In May, he lost the GLA election, his majority in 2008 was over 20,000 in may this figure was reveresed, with Labours Andrew Dismore sweeping in. Even more galling for Coleman was the fact that Boris Johnson got over 50,000 of the vote in the Mayoral election, showing that it was a purely anti Coleman response. Coleman lost his £53,000 allowance.

Boris Johnson, realising that Coleman was electoral poison, sacked him as leader of LFEPA, removing another £27,000 from his income. The reason for Colemans demise was mainly down to his disasterous parking policies, which have not only bankrupted dozens of businesses, alienated tens of thousands of staunch Tory voters and linled the pockets of private contractors, but have also left a million pound black hole in the Barnet Council budget. Coleman was sacked as cabinet member for parking, but in a bizarre move, which undermined any vestige of authority, Council Leader Richard Cornelius made him chair of the Budget Overview and Scrutiny Committee, ensuring that he wasn't out of pocket in Barnet (He gets £15,000 for chairing a committee which meets a few times a year).

Whilst the electorate were showing Coleman what they thought of him, he went on the rampage against the residents of Barnet. Abusive emails were sent, resulting in Coleman being deemed in breach of the Barnet Council standards code (for the second time for the same offence). In most walks of life, this appalling lack of judgement would have spelled the end. In Barnet, he was merely asked to apologise, something he refused to do.

Even more worryingly, he got involved in an altercation with Helen Michael, leader of the parking protests which lead to his election loss in May. Mr Coleman was arrested and charged with assault and parking offences. Finally the leader of the council decided something must be done.

Tonight, the Conservative group on Barnet Council votes on whether to suspend Brian Coleman from the party. In a rather cynically timed move, Brian Coleman finally apologised to the recipients of the abusive emails yesterday.  Coleman is desperately trying to hang on to what little power he has left. On the day of the GLA elections Coleman had an income from all his oddjobs of over £120,000. What is he earning now?

Some locals are saying they feel sorry for Brian, with his sudden demise. I don't. All he had to0 do to avoid this was be civil to the people he was supposed to represent, listen to the concern of residents and business owners and do his job. Sadly all of these things were beyond Oddjob.

For those of us who are James Bond fans, we remember that Oddjob was arch baddy Goldfinger's sidekick. In a delicious irony, Council Leader Richard Cornelius, who last week cast himself as arch baddie Dr Evil, has the same job as Goldfinger in the bond movies. We wonder if the Barnet version of  Oddjob and Goldfinger will meet their demise tonight. Word on the street is that there is unrest in the Tory camp and that Councillor Dan Thomas is lining up a leadership bid. Those of us who have seen Mr Thomas in action, who has all the charisma of a Building society under manager (which is his job), will despair if he finds himself in the driving seat.

The Barnet Conservative group really should realise that what they need to do is not indulge in musical chairs, but dump the dangerous and divisive policies which are destroying the Borough. I await the outcome of tonights meeting with interest.

Monday 29 October 2012

One Barnet - "A very exciting and challenging concept"

Barnet - The Billion Pound Gamble. Why do I oppose it? Because it is inherently risky. Today I've spoken to two journalists. One was from he Guardian, who are taking an in depth look at One Barnet. The other was from a freelance journalist, who I assumed was doing a piece for a outsourcers trade journal. The first interview involved all of the Barnet bloggers and was filmed. I am intrigued to see how we all come across. Over the course of the last four years, I've got to know the other bloggers quite well. I have ultimate respect for their abilities. I think we made a pretty coherent case for Barnet abandoning One Barnet in its current form. I would love for the five of us to sit around a table with whoever is championing One Barnet and film the conversation. I have no doubt who would win that debate.

Later this afternoon I took a call from a "freelance journalist" to discuss the response of bloggers to One Barnet. I asked who else they'd spoken to. No one, was the answer. I sometimes get paranoid about such calls. Of all the five bloggers, I consider myself the thickest by a country mile. Being dyslexic, I need figures in front of me otherwise I can get the wrong. It was clear straight away that I was being interviewed with a view to rubbishing the arguments of local bloggers. Here is a rough transcript of the conversation (from memory).

J =  Journalist, RT = Me,

J - "I'm researching an article about outsourcing and the One Barnet project strikes me as a very exciting and challenging concept, you are one of the leading local critics and I'd like to find out a bit more about why"

RT - "I'd prefer to use the terms risky and dangerous, but fire away".

J - "I've been reading your blog, what did you know about outsourcing before you started writing a blog about the One Barnet program?"

RT - Actually quite a lot. Before I worked in Music full time, I worked with quite a few blue chip organisations on outsouring projects"

J - "Oh, why don't you mention this in your blog?"

RT - "Because I had to sign confidentiality agreements, besides the arguments aren't about me and my experience, they are about the merits of the program".

J - "Shouldn't you declare an interest in your blog?"

RT -  "I do, I declare an interest as a Barnet resident. That is the only relevant interest I have".

J - "Ok, and in your 'previous life' what experience did you have of evaluation of bids in tenders"

RT - "I was a technical consultant on two major contracts. On the first my job was to evaluate rival bids and on the second I was consulting on a bid for a supplier".

J -  "How come you never talk about such relevant experience in your blog, whilst you talk about your dyslexia and issues with learning all the time"

RT - "Because I passioantely believe that dyslexia is a misunderstood issue. It hasn't held me back, but I have a lot of relevant things to say. As to the One Barnet bids, I've not been party to any of the information that I would have seen during my career as a technical consultant. I've just seen dribs and drabs. I have no desire at all to return to my former career. I only mention this now because you asked."

J - "So if you haven't seen the details, how can you be sure you are right?"

RT - "I am not sure that I am right. I have not seen enough information to make any such judgement call. I have however seen enough to state that on the balance of probability, these contracts have an unacceptable degree of risk".

J - "But you cannot prove it?"

RT - "Actually I can prove that on the balance of probablity there is an unacceptable degree of risk"

J - "But you can't demonstrate that One Barnet will definately fail and you can't prove that there will be no benefit".

RT - "From my experience, all you have to prove is that something has an unacceptable level of risk. A ten year contract in itself is a risk. One in four public sector outsourcing projects have failed. Put the two together and you have a dangerous mix"

J - "So what is your purpose writing a blog about it?"

RT - "I want to make the way Barnet Council conducts it business as transparent as possible".

J -  "And what public transparency was there for the private sector bids you worked on?"

RT  - "You cannot compare private and public sector bidding processes. I actually worked on a  public sector contract and this was far more transparent that One Barnet. There was a sound business case and the contract duration was five years. In the US FOI decrees that all such bids are public domain after they have been evaluated, which ensures that bidders cannot pull any stunts, that doesn't happen in Barnet".

J - "do you think you've done anything other than add costs to the process for Barnet Council"

RT - "If the process is abandoned, then yes".

J - "You seem to have and ideological issue with outsourcing, why is this"

RT - "That statement does not represent my position, who did you say you are writing this piece for?"

J - " I am a freelance journalist and it will be used in a number of publications"

RT - "Name one"

J -  "I'd rather not at this stage"

RT - "In that case I'd rather not continue the conversation, good day".

Sadly the number was withheld. I await with interest to see whether this comes out. I am curious as to whether the person I was talking to was really a journalist at all. I suspect that Barnet Council or the suppliers are using a professional PR firm to try and soften up the local opposition. I've spoken to lots of journalists about One Barnet and this was a new experience as far as interviews go. Maybe we just got off on the wrong foot though? Who knows.

I suppose when there is a billion quid at stake, anything can happen.

Praise be to Cheeses - Matthew Offord MP special

My attention was drawn to the above poster by a friend who used to drive nuclear submarines for the French navy. The poster makes its point rather well. It did however remind me of a broken promise, made to the people of Mill Hill, by local Tory MP Matthew Offord during the election campaign in 2010. Mr Offord promised a local resident that Mill Hill would get its very own cheese shop*, if he was elected.

We are more than two years down the line and we are no nearer seeing the realisation of Matthew Offords dream. In fact, given the parking policies of Barnet Council, we are even further away than ever. In High Streets all over the London Borough of Barnet, small retailers have been driven out of business, by the incompetence of Barnet Council. How many times has Mr Offord spoken up for his constituents and their businesses? Not once. In Mill Hill, we did actually see a small shop open shortly after Offord was elected, doubtlessly encouraged by his stated commitment to small retailers. It was called Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shop. When it first opened, it was mobbed with customers, clamouring for it's scrumptuous selecton of delicious sweeties. My own children were ecstatic at the arrival of a pick and mix shop, following the demise of Woolies.

Sadly Brian Coleman decided to shaft the shops, abolished Pay and Display parking and all of a sudden, a trip to the Broadway for a bag of mint imperials for Tarquin and Gemima became a horrific process in terms of both hassle and costs. Mr Simms buckled under the regime and closed. The Tories claim to be the party of business, but all that they have done is shaft people.

 Mr Offord replaced Mr Andrew Dismore as MP for Hendon. In May, Andrew Dismore ousted Offords best friend, Brian Coleman as GLA representative for Barnet. Mr Dismore has wasted no time at all in taking up the fight for local traders. A GLA delegation was organised to visit the Finchley High Road and meet traders. Even the local Tory Council realised that Mr Dismore was on to a winner and sent cabinet member Andrew Longstaff to support Mr Dismore in his mission. Sadly neither Matthew Offord or Finchley MP Mike Freer could be bothered to turn up.

Rumours reach the Barnet Eye that following pressure from Andrew Dismore and good work by David Longstaff in trying to make his colleagues see sense, Dean Cohen, the man who replaced Brian Coleman as parking supremo, has finally seen sense.

Although I am quite sure that Andrew Dismore has more sense than to promise anyone a cheese shop in their local High Street, I would suggest that if you want to see small, local, specialised businesses thriving, you would be far better off talking to Mr Dismore than the man who promised the earth and delivered nothing.

Barnet Council used to be run by the unholy trinity of Mike Freer, Brian Coleman and Matthew Offord.  These three have given us One Barnet, which does nothing for small business, they have wrecked the High Streets with disasterous parking policies. Mike Freer has asked dozens of questions in the House of Commons about phone tariffs, a matter of great interest to One Barnet bidder BT (who paid for Mr Freer to get an honoury MBA from Harvard). Matthew Offord has asked questions on behalf of cod in the North Sea. This is all fine and dandy, but neither of them have stuck up for the small businessmen who by and large voted for them in 2010.

I am not a Conservative supporter, but when Offord and Freer were elected, I took small solace in the fact that both claimed to care about small business and both had said they would work tirelessly on behalf of the sector. The sad truth is that they have been a disaster. I was having a conversation with a local businessman at the weekend who is a big supporter of the Conservatives. He asked me how I could possibly support Labour as a small businessman. I explained how Andrew Dismore had arranged the GLA visit to North Finchley and that the Labour group had fought the parking regime of Brian Coleman. He conceded that Matthew Offord had done nothing and that Brian Coleman was an embarrassment. I then asked him to name a single policy that the Tories nationally had done to help small business. He couldn't name one. He then responded by saying "What did Labour do?" I said "They cut VAT from 17.5% to 15%, the Tories put it up to 20% as soon as they could". He looked rather upset. He conceded that this had cost him a fortune and driven away many customer.  I asked him if his support for the Conservative Party was the same as his support for Spurs, unconditional and without question. He said "There are no circumstances under which I'd vote Labour, but I will certainly think about this".

The sad truth is that Barnet Council under the Conservatives is as anti small business as it is possible to be. The even sadder truth is that it is exactly the same at national level as well. And the saddest truth of all is that our local MP's Matthew Offord and Mike Freer are amongst the worst for neglecting the sector.

Just consider this. Matthew Offord was recently in the papers for calling a Labour MP a "Gobshite" because the previous Labour government refused to by the latest weapons for the Army. Look at the poster above. Mr Offord is more than happy to get his name in the paper, supporting the business needs of multinational arms suppliers, but has never said a dickybird about the plight of cheese shop owners in the High Streets of Barnet.

* Matthew Offord told a local resident in Mill Hill Broadway that if he was elected he'd support policies which would revitalise the High Street and we'd see all sorts of specialist shops spring up in Mill Hill Broadway  such as cheese shops.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Rog T's Cancer blog - The big brown plastic tub

For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts on Cancer, you can skip this first paragraph.This is the latest installment in my occasional series about how I'm adjusting to living with a big C in my life.  For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary. I'm 50 years old and I last year had a prostate biopsy following two "slightly high" PSA tests - 2.8 & 4.1. The biopsy took ten tissue samples and one of these showed a "low grade cancer" which gives me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I'm now on a program of active monitoring.  In early February, I got the results of the latest PSA test - down to 3.5 and an MRI scan which found absolutely nothing. I've no symptoms and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?

Stop Press, just got the latest PSA test results. The bad news? It is up from 3.5 at the last test. The good news? It is 3.9 which is still below the 4.1 in November 2011. I look forward to the exciting meeting with my cancer specialist in a couple of weeks with interest. I am sure that he'll want to snip more bits off me now. I shall keep you posted.

It has been a pretty horrible week all round. I currently have a house guest and I must say he's freaking me out. He is a very good friend. He played bass in my band for 28 years and I shared many of the best moments of my life with him, certainly most of the highlights of my musical career. Sadly, he is in a big brown plastic jar. I collected his ashes from the undertakers on Thursday, so he's sitting on my mantlepiece right now. All that talent in a brown plastic tub. How can that be. He died in April of Oesophageal Cancer. He's at the end of a road which may or may not face me. That is not conducive to a happy state of mind. Here is a track he wrote and played bass on. When I made this video, it was a bit of a cruel joke by me on the world, Paul was on the run from the Police at the time, by the time I uploaded it to Youtube, he'd been caught and was in prison. He was the driver in a gang which were robbing gaming machines in service stations. He had quit the band to embark on a life of crime. Sadly it all went wrong. The last two years of his life consisted of a year in prison and a year dying. Now he's sitting on the shelf in my front room. Hope you enjoy it. This was really just a bit of fun to show him when he got released. Now it means a bit more to me

I have been thinking about starting to play music again. I've had a bit of a sabbatical. I have approached an old bandmate and we're talking about doing an acoustic set of old numbers. I don't want to play music really, but I am not a quitter so feel I should.

Perhaps even more upsetting than having a dead bassplayer in the house is the news that a friends mum is very poorly with the big C. When Paul had the disease, for reasons which were unfathomable, I didn't discuss any aspect of his treatment or alternative therapies etc with him. I don't know why. When he passed on, I felt I'd not handled it well. I am not saying that drinking green tea or eating watercress would have added one second to his life, but it may have made him feel empowered. It is good to have the option. My friend told me she felt her mum was in denial. I said that in my opinion that isn't the worst thing in the world. I hope that if it gets me, I'm in denial as long as possible. The truth is none of us know when the grim reaper will come knocking. We should all make the most of each second, but if we know that trouble is comin' a knockin, then we should make a special effort to do what things we can to enjoy what time we have left.

All in all, I am finding it hard to say anything upbeat about my feelings towards this disease today.  I feel a degree of anger, because I believe that if the worlds medical authorities co-ordinated their research and best practices, more people would survive far longer. Even more annoying for me is the fact that the medical profession have no interest at all in complimentary therapies, even though many of these have a scientifically measurable beneficial effect. It stands to reason that if some natural substances are carcinogens, others must be anti-carcinogens. The reasons that these are not quantified is that there is no money in such treatments for the pharmacutical companies. I am not a believer in conspiracies, they just have no financial interest in showing that eating tomatoes and watercress and drinking green tea may add a couple of months to your lifespan if you have cancer and may stop you developing it if you haven't.

We are told to "eat five portions of vegetables a day". Most of us don't realise that cancer is a disease which is far less likely to develop if we follow this advice (although I've been informed that the correct figure is nine portions a day). We are vaguely aware that organic may be "good for us" but no one tells us that the pesticides in non organic are carcinogenic. There are all manner of other things which contribute. When people have late stage cancer, they are often told "you might as well do what you like because nothing will change your prognosis". It seems to me that the more you do to impede the development of the cancer, the better your chances, no matter how slim. If you've been given a 99% chance of not surviving three months, that means you could be the lucky no 100. If adopting an anti cancer diet increases that chance to 95% you are five times more likely to hang on. It's a slim chance, but someone has to be the lucky ones.

I find it all so frustrating. What can you say? I hate seeing friends going through bad times, the sheer cruelty of the world gets me down at times. All I can say is that we should all make the most of what we have today. Tomorrow, next week or next month may be too late.

Belief, Faith and Religions

Last week I read a sentence that made  me think. I am still pondering what it means

"Believing is a human act, conscious and free, corresponding to the dignity of the human person"

There are three words, which many people wrongly interchange. These are belief, faith and religion. I suspect that most of us have belief. This could be belief in Athiesm, Socialism, Conservatism, Christianity, Islam or Manchester City FC. As the statement above clarifies, we can only really give this if we are free to give it. If you sign up to something in which you have no belief, then that demeans your human dignity. If you sign up to something because you have been forced to sign up to it, then that demeans us all. That is why we should all fight for an individuals right to freedom of expression and belief.

Then there is faith. Less of us have faith than belief. Faith is what sees us through difficult times. Again we can have faith in many things. I have faith in the people I love to support me through hard times. Some of us have faith in God. Some of us have faith that there is no God. Faith is good when it supports us, but we must also be open to the fact that sometimes our faith may have misguided us. Scientists have worked for centuries towards a cure for cancer. Many of these scientists have progressed down dead ends long after it was clear that science didn't support that particular line of enquiry, because they had faith in their theories. Sadly today many adherents of all manner of disproven ideas and outdated concepts are still bound to them by faith in both the secular and religious world. This takes us on to religion.

Religion is in effect a prescription of faith and belief. There are in the main three reasons why people belong to a religion. Because they are compelled to, because they receive benefit from belonging and because they believe and have faith in the teachings of that religion. Some religions prescribe terrible punishments for people who lose their faith and become "apostate". Once you lose the faith and belief, you are then living a lie and your personal religious commitment has no validity.

There is another factor which we need to throw into the mix. This is in some ways the most important element. This element is reason. The world has moved on and developed as humans have developed reason to analyse the world we live in. Many see reason as an enemy of belief, faith and religion. I do not. I see reason as a tool to make our own belief, faith and religion (if we have one) better. Reason means listening to other viewpoints, analysing evidence and improving our understanding of our existence. I do not belief that truth can ever be contradicted by truth. I do not believe that reason can contradict honesty. If honesty, truth and reason contradict the tenents of our beliefs, faiths and religions, then we have to adapt these to reflect the truth. If we believe in a God, then we cannot possibly believe that God contradicts Gods rules. If we do not believe in a God, we have only reason to validate our own beliefs and faith. We see the world through our own eyes and experience it through our own senses. These can mislead us, so we need to validate what we see.

Let me give you an example. I had a friend who believed that when he took LSD he became a visionary and he understood everything in the whole cosmosphere. He came up with a cunning plan for himself and a group of friends to have an evening where they took LSD and tape recorded all of the conversations. One person, who did not wish to partake, agreed to sit there and work the tape recorder. The LSD team had an amazing night. They managed to solve all of the problems of the world. They had a three hour debate on the subject and at the end decided that they could distill all of this into one sentence. A week later, they reconvened to listen to the tapes, convinced that they had achieved a world changing breakthrough. They were shocked to hear three hours of incredibly dull psychobabble. After three hours, they came up with the solution to all the worlds problems in one sentence "We should all be nicer to each other". This was followed by an hour of everyone saying "man, it is so simple, why has no one ever figured this out before?".

What the tape had done, rather brutally, was show them that their own perceptions of what happened had been wrong. Of course it would be lovely if we were all nicer to each other, but sadly it is more difficult than that. The mistake we often make is that when our beliefs are shattered, or we lose faith in an ideal or we lose our religion, we lose much of the good things that these things brought us. This may be companionship or it may be security. I spoke to someone who had been a committed athiest, who changed their mind about God following a near death experience. She told me that she'd fallen out with most of her friends who were athiest, who couldn't accept her new view of the world. I know many former members of churches who have had the same experience. Often it is not a choice on the part of the person who has developed their beliefs, faith or religion, but a decision on the part of the former friends to ostracise the person.

I happen to think that this is done as a defence mechanism to resist change. Anyway, what is the point of all of this, you may ask? Well I happen to believe we are all on a personal journey and each one of us will take a different route. None of us will have the same experiences and share the same views about everything. Seeking to impose our views on others is against reason and to me it lacks respect. Sometimes we do this for the highest of intentions. I happen to believe that religious groups who deny members urgent medical treatments to preserve life are evil. I would urge anyone in such a position to reconsider whether a religion which damaged their health and wellbeing could really be a force for good. I happen to believe (note the use of the word) that if God hadn't intended medicines to be used, God wouldn't make them effective. Now I have no right to impose my view on that person. They can reject my view.  Where I believe society has a right to intervene is when that group seek to impose their views on third parties, who are in no position to decide for themselves. I believe in religious freedom for the person, but where that person practising their religion causes suffering to another person, we have to say "sorry, you are now abusing the concept of religous freedom and you must desist".

Of course there are some arguments which will never be satisfactorily resolved for everyone, but as a democracy, we have to choose to allow the majority to set the rules. For those who disagree, if they want to change the course of the debate, they must use reason. Ultimately if they have the best argument, they should have the faith to see this through. If they haven't they must accept this and either reexamine their beliefs or try and refine their arguments.

I don't really expect that too many people will agree with all I have said. Actually, I suspect that many will disagree with most of it. That doesn't matter, what matters is that we as a society have to learn to address belief, faith and religion in their proper context. A Rabbi, Imam or a Priest may have a large following. They do however only have one vote. It is the responsibility of the members of their society to ensure that these people represent the views of the community and don't use their platform to represent something entirely different. I believe that all of these must put the fight for social justice at the forefront of their work. There are many problems in the world, but while we have inequality and injsutice, I cannot believe any of them will ever be resolved. Any religious leader who is not prepared to stand up and be counted in the fight to ensure that in the eyes of the law and the state, all men are equal and we are all treated equally in matters of justice and law, to me has forfeited the right to be a community leader.

I was asked to publicise a meeting on the 7th November at 8pm at St Michaels Church in Mill Hill run by a Justice and Peace group. Paddy Lyons is giving a talk about night shelters for Homeless people run by local churches and a synagogue in Finchley.  The organisers have asked that as many local people as possible, who care about Justice and Peace attend to hear about this important work. It can only be positive for society when diverse groups come together for the common good.

The Great Masturbator and The Enfield Dominatrix top David Cameron

Sadly for those of you expecting sauce and tittle tattle, this is one in our irregular series of Blog Stats specials. We have a tracking package that tells us all manner of info about the people reading our blogs. Here are a few things which I found rather amusing today.

Most of the people who look at the Barnet Eye, check the site out because they are interested in Barnet politics and the other subjects we cover. It may interest you to see the most popular internet google searches which have lead people to the Barnet Eye this week, excluding the word "Barnet". I had to laugh when I saw that David Cameron was kept off the top spot by "The Great Masturbater" and "Dominatrix Enfied". I am not sure what this tells us about David Cameron, but it made me snigger.

the great masturbator
dominatrix enfield
the cst david cameron
famous people in mill hill
how to tell if my coworker is gay
international time recording company train station clock
adam & eve mill hill music licence
allianz arena barnet
andrew travers
angry brigades

Perhaps just as interesting is where people who look at the Barnet Eye live (or are on holiday) - This is the profile of our last 500 hits

434 Hits86.80%United KingdomUnited Kingdom Flag
38 Hits7.60%United StatesUnited States Flag
4 Hits0.80%ItalyItaly Flag
3 Hits0.60%CanadaCanada Flag
3 Hits0.60%GreeceGreece Flag
2 Hits0.40%PolandPoland Flag
2 Hits0.40%TurkeyTurkey Flag
2 Hits0.40%AustraliaAustralia Flag
1 Hit0.20%PortugalPortugal Flag
1 Hit0.20%BrazilBrazil Flag
1 Hit0.20%MalaysiaMalaysia Flag
1 Hit0.20%Czech RepublicCzech Republic Flag
1 Hit0.20%Trinidad And TobagoTrinidad And Tobago Flag
1 Hit0.20%DenmarkDenmark Flag
1 Hit0.20%ChileChile Flag
1 Hit0.20%IndiaIndia Flag
1 Hit0.20%NigeriaNigeria Flag
1 Hit0.20%FranceFrance Flag
1 Hit0.20%IsraelIsrael Flag
1 Hit0.20%SwedenSweden Flag

I wonder what the chap in Brazil who googled "Iranian Women" or the person in Trinidad and Tobago who googled "How to tell if your co worker is a lesbian" made of the Barnet Eye.

As of 10:32 on Sunday 28th October, this blog has had 683,713 hits. That means we'll have had 700,000 by the 15th November and we are on target for 1 million hits by the 15th November 2013. When we reach 1 million hits, we'll have a party and you will all be invited !

Saturday 27 October 2012

Exclusive - Dr Evil exposes himself - The Movie

On Monday night, ITV Tonight exposed the identity of Dr Evil, who has been stalking the streets of Barnet, shutting libraries, employing tax dodgers, charging the disabled £1.20 for a cup of coffee, destroying High Street businesses and letting his cronies tour the rampage through the Borough, insulting people and getting themselves nicked. Here is "The Barnet Eye" remix of the interview.

Richard Cornelius AKA Dr Evil EXPOSED !!!!!

Dr Evil sans Pussy
To celebrate the launch this week of the blockbuster Barnet film, Barnet - The Billion Pound Gamble, we have a special Saturday List. This is Saturday List #20 - The five dastardly deeds of Dr Evil.

On Monday night's ITV London Tonight ( , the Leader of Barnet Council, Richard Cornelius stated that "none of us like to be portrayed as Dr Evil", when talking about Charles Hondericks film "Barnet - The Billion Pound Gamble". If Mr Cornelius has bothered to watch the film, he would have seen that Charles Honderick did not call him Dr Evil or even lay the blame for all the ills in Barnet at Mr Cornelius door.

As Richard Cornelius has decided that "Dr Evil" is a suitable moniker for himself, maybe we should examine exactly what has happened under his "Evil empire" ably assisted by his mega villain cronies. Here are a few highlights:

1. The closure of Friern Barnet Library. Dr Evils henchman, Bill Murphy admitted callous wanton act of cultural vandalism was done solely to grab a £400,000 profit on the sale of the building. Doubtless this will ultimately bu snapped up by a friendly local property developer and someone will make a fortune at the public expense.

2. The abolition of Pay and Display parking. Dr Evils regime employed a former employee of NCP (which became NSL), Mr John McArdle to "oversee the outsourcing of parking control". In a masterpiece of evilness, Pay and Display parking was abolished without debate handing control to NSL who run the "pay by phone" network. The brutal sudden  change was performed to ensure maximum profits for NSL, who run the system, with scant regard for businesses. In North Finchley and High Barnet, over 30 shops have closed as a result. In April McArdle completed his assignment and parking wardens were brought under the control of NSL and back office functions were moved to NSL's offices in Croyden. This cost 26 jobs in Barnet. Having successfully completed the destruction of Barnet's well run in house operation, John McArdle left Barnet Council. No prizes for guessing who he now works for. Yup, NSL. I am sure he'll get a good bonus. P.S. The Barnet Taxpayer is a million pounds worse off than expected, as revenues for parking have collapse, despite a record number of tickets being issued.

3. The outsourcing of Adult day care to Your Choice Barnet. This is a "Joint Venture" organisation, set up by Barnet Homes and Barnet Council. A director of this organisation was the woman who helped create it whilst at Barnet Council. Her name is Amanda Jackson. This new company came into existence in April and is responsible for looking after people with care needs. In the film Barnet - The Billion Pound Gamble, John Sullivan, who has a 49 year old daughter who uses these services explains that his daughter is now charged £1.20 for a cup of coffee in a church hall, thanks to Your Choice Barnet. This organisation already has a deficit of £700,000 after a mere six months of operation.

4. Tax Dodging at the Town Hall. A Parliamentary committee was told by a reprsentative of the LGA that only 13 people in the UK, working for Local Authorities, are employed on "tax efficient" consultancy contracts. This news came as rather a surprise to me. As a Barnet blogger, I am aware of at least 14 in the London Borough of Barnet. If you wondered what Dr Evil thinks of such tax dodging activities, the answer was given when CEO Nick Walkley resigned. He appointed his deputy, Mr Andrew Travers, who is a consultant with a "tax efficient" contract, to replace Mr Walkley.

5. Bad Behaviour at the Town Hall. At the moment, the attitude of the Conservative Party, to those they rule has been in the public spotlight. Andrew Mitchell famously described the Police as Plebs. He eventually had to walk the plank for his outburst. What happens in Barnet under Dr Evil. Councillor Brian Coleman has been on a twelve year mission to drag the name of the local Conservative Party through the mud. He has been found gulity twice of sending abusive emails to members of the public. The first time in 2009, he was ordered to undertake training in how to respond politely to emails. He didn't take do it. Earlier this year he did it again. On one day he sent two different people abusive emails, both of which breached the standards code. He was ordered to apologise. He refused. To date, the victims of his outburst have not received apologies. What action did Dr Evil take? None to date. Brian Coleman was also arrested in September following a fracas involving a woman. On Monday, he was charged with assualt. It may surprise you to hear that on Thursday, he was still chairing the important Budget Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Unbelievably, Dr Evil seems to see nothing wrong in Coleman carrying on. It is believed that Dr Evil received a telephone call from Conservative Head Office. He has now tabled a motion for the local party to suspend the membership of the Conservative Party. This will be debated at the group meeting on Tuesday. What nobody has asked is whether he will be suspended as chair of the Budget OSC committee, if he is suspended. As he is still a councillor, there is no automatic reason why he should be. As an example of how brazen Brian Coleman is in his attitude, yesterday at approx 9.15 am, he pulled up in his car opposite the cafe owned by the woman he is charged with assaulting. He flounced out of his car and strode into MacDonalds for breakfast. It may amuse you to know that as he emerged, he was confronted by a local trader who said to him "Brian, I hear you've been a very very naughty boy. Does your mummy know how naughty you've been?" the response of Mr Coleman has not been accurately reported, but it appears he scurried off rather quickly. Rather interestingly, the local trader in question informed the Barnet Eye that he had always voted Conservative until Mr Coleman brought in the parking charges.

The Barnet Eye is in the process of recording a Dr Evil remix dance track. We are also planning to get some limited edition Dr Evil Tee Shirts manufactured.

Here is a list of forthcoming screenings of the film. Please come along

Sat. 27th Oct     2.30 - 4.00 pm
New Barnet Community Centre,
Victoria Road, 
New Barnet, 

Thurs. 1st Nov.   6.30 pm
Cafe Buzz, 
High road, 
North Finchley, 

Tues 6th Nov  - 8.00 pm 
North Road Community Centre,

Friday 26 October 2012

The death of Horace and the two faces of Barnet

The press has been overflowing with tributes to Horace, the Finchley Street legend. A shrine has been set up and now the council are debating whether or not we should have a bench placed in memory of him. I'm all for a bench in memory of such a character, but I can no longer stomach the crass hypocrisy and double standards with which our society treated Horace and goes on treating other people in his circumstances.
Did the Council ever buy Horace a bench when he was alive? Did the council ever debate how vital a part of the North Finchley Street scene he was? Sadly no. Now he's dead and gone, all of a sudden they have found a social conscience. I didn't know Horace. I'd seen him around, but can't remember if I ever exchanged a single word. As I'm not a North Finchley local, I have only the vaguest recollections of him, from a few brief passing encounters. I had seen teenagers taunt him and so he got cross. I saw people turn the other way as they approached him, scared to make eye contact. Like many people who are part of the street scene, I didn't see much love or respect for him whilst he was alive. I am sure that plenty of people did make the time for him and he had many friends, but I am sorry to say that the impression I get is that for many the friendship started on the day he shuffled off from this mortal coil.

I talk to hundreds of homeless people, who live their lives on the streets every day. On a Thursday I volunteer at a homeless day centre and I make toast for anywhere between 70 and 130 homeless people every week. I try and talk to each one as best I can in the 30 seconds it takes me to prepare their toast.

Living on the street is a hard and unforgiving life. For many (unlike Horace who had family and a bed to go home to) there is no one. The average age of death of a homeless person is 48. I've heard tales of people being spat at, kicked, beaten, urinated on, taunted and abused. People tell me of small kindesses they receive and the odd story of human goodness. Sadly these are not the norm.

I have no idea what problems or issues Horace had (If any). I've no idea whether he received all the help he needed from social services. I've no idea whether, he may have lived beyond 54 if appropriate services were available to him, or whether he'd have taken these offers up.

What I do know is that we are a two faced society. We slash budgets to help people who need it, whilst seeking to placate our own guilt and grief, for those who often we never gave the time of day to.

If we really want to make a lasting memorial to Horace, we need more than a bench. We need to change our attitudes to all of the people who need help and we ignore on a daily basis.

Back in January I made a New Years Resolution and I have kept it so far. My resolution was that I would spend three hours a week working at a homeless day centre, giving something back to the people at the bottom of the pile in society. Every piece of toast I butter is a memorial to Horace and every other person who I have avoided eye contact with, crossed the road to avoid, kept my change in my pocket and generally pretended doesn't exist in my life.

I am trying to care more. Are you?

Andrew Travers announces to Barnet Staff that the Democratic Process has been subverted

I was sent this joint email from Nick Walkley, the departing CEO of Barnet Council and Andrew Travers (Consultant) who is the interim CEO. It could not be more shocking

From: First Team []
Sent: 26 October 2012 15:12
To: AllStaff
Subject: Weekly message from the Chief Executives

This Wednesday saw the end of the second phase of the Senior Management Restructure with Member Panels appointing Maryellen Salter to the role of Director of Assurance (and Monitoring Officer) and Dawn Wakeling to the role of Director of Adults and Communities (and statutory Director of Adult Social Services). Both Dawn and Maryellen will now work with current post holders to ensure a smooth transition in the new year.

I am sure you will join me in congratulating them and wishing them every success.

Perhaps more significantly, Members also interviewed and appointed Andrew Travers as interim Chief Executive. Andrew will take up his appointment on 1 December following my departure. It’s appropriate that we therefore share this message.


My first comment, obviously, has to be to repeat that this is an exciting time to become interim Chief Executive in Barnet. The Remuneration Committee that appointed me coincided to the day with the arrival of final tenders from the two NSCSO bidders and I will take up the post of Chief Executive a week before Cabinet debates final proposals. Supervising the changes that both NSCSO and DRS will bring to the council, to the borough and to staff (both those of you who will TUPE to the new providers and those remaining within the council) will obviously be my priority over the coming months.

Next week will see the publication of Cabinet papers that include the next stage in our medium term financial plan. For the first time, this will take the council beyond the current central government spending review and we are predicting that there will be further reductions in the council’s income under the next review. This means that I cannot simply be the ‘continuity Chief Executive’. This council is in a better place than many others because we looked over the horizon and faced up to the difficult challenges coming towards local government. I suspect this week’s announcement from Birmingham gives an early indication of the alternatives.

In practice, this means we will need to accelerate the Wave 2 projects in the One Barnet programme and we will publish details of proposals for waste and street scene in Cabinet papers next week. The changes that NSCSO and DRS will bring will mean that the definition of public sector will to some extent change in the borough as it will encompass those who move to private sector employers. However, the definition of public service will not change and I am delighted to be given this opportunity to work with so many people for whom this remains the central tenet of their working life.



I have higlighted the key passage. In the first (in red) It is clear from the use of the words will bring that Mr Travers expects the nodding sheep in the Council chamber and the Leader to do his bidding and implement One Barnet Outsourcing, regardless of the risks.  

The second (in Blue), Mr Travers announces policy. It is not the role of officers to do this. It is the job of Councillors to set policy and officers to implement it.

It seems that the new interim CEO doesn't understand his job, or the way the Council is supposed to make decisions. I am appalled.

I will be drafting a communique, possibly with my fellow bloggers, to all 63 Barnet Councillors asking their opinion of Mr Travers decision to grab what vestage of credibility and power they once had.

Pray tell me Council Leader Cornelius, what do you think of this statement?

The Friday Joke -26/10/2012

Many thanks to "Ewan Hoosami" who left this on the Barnet Bugle website.

Appealing to the council is like playing chess with a pigeon. You might be a chess grand master but the pigeon will always knock all the pieces over, shit on the board and then strut around triumphantly. 

Thursday 25 October 2012

Jimmy Savile and Barnet Politics

One of the questions that has been repeatedly asked in the media is this. If  "everyone" knew about allegations of child abuse about Jimmy Savile, why did nobody tell the Police? I was as outraged as everybody else and then I was asked today about Barnet. "Have you ever heard any rumours about Barnet Politics?". The answer to this question is "Yes, all the time". Do I believe that any of them are true? Well I have had no credible evidence that would stand up in a court of law. I suspect much of the gossip is malicious. I used to get streams of anonymous emails making various allegations. I had one correspondent who claimed to be a BNP sympathiser, who made all sorts of claims and asked me if I supported the death penalty for child abusers, in a way that implied if I didn't I was in some way complicit. The honest answer is that much as I'd love to see child abusers strung up by the goolies, I don't believe in the death penalty full stop for anyone, although I do believe that life should mean life in such cases. 

So the dilemma is that if in twenty years time, it turns out the gossip was true, would I be one of the people criticised for saying nothing when I'd heard rumours? As such, I guess all I can do is ask the Police if they are interested in hearing all the gossip I've been told over the year and then if they decide that it is worth investigating, they can. 

Sadly as no one has supplied specific names, dates, times or details they will have quite a bit of sleuthing to do before they get anywhere. Had I had credible evidence, I would have picked up the phone immdeiately.  

For the record, if anyone has any credible evidence that they feel would stand up in a court of law, I'd be only too pleased to pass it on to the Police. And I would support the maximum sentence that the law could give for any perpetrators found guilty. 

Blogger breakfast at Cafe Buzz, Finchley, Friday 26th October at 8am

Following the successful inaugural blogger breakfast at Cafe Buzz last week, the Barnet Eye is holding another one tomorrow at 8pm at Cafe Buzz, Finchley High Road, 8-9am.

If there is anything you want to share with the Barnet Eye, please come along. All welcome.

Has Hell frozen over? Brian Coleman apologises for abusive email

There is a story on the Hendon Times website stating that Brian Coleman has written an apology to Two Barnet residents he insulted.

Let us hope that this is a sign that Brian Coleman is now preparing to enter the wolrd of adulthood.

Maybe he'll get a proper job next?

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Guest Blog - The sorry story of a family carer - by Linda Edwards

By Linda Edwards,
In 2007 my learning disabled daughter who is also on the autistic spectrum  was having her basic needs violated by LBB In House Supported Living Service.  In October 2007 LBB invited bullies, who had not previously delivered Supported Living Service but were "keen to get into Barnet", to provide the next Supported Living Service to my daughter.      

They either ignored my daughter daily while they  continuously spoke to their friends and family on their  mobile and watched television continuously,  put my daughter at risk and  deskilled her. 

Throughout the period from 2007 to 2011 I made many complaints and pleaded with Kate Kennally, Director of Adult and Childrens Social Care and Health to remove them. She refused and my daughter became emotionally unwell.

Throughout this period I have spoken  out within LBB at every opportunity - Learning Disability Partnership Board meetings, LBB Carers Conferences, LBB trainings and workshops  and every opportunity within LBB, mainly with the message that the culture is based on lies of spoken and written words not being put into practice.

I promised KK that if she didn't change the regime she was presiding over, I would eventually speak outside of LBB and would ensure their shoddy practice would become public outside of LBB

What I didn't know at the time was that a tiny seed called BAPS was born and although struggling with many different issues, BAPS experienced the same lying and bullying culture as many vulnerable families under Kate Kennally's rule by fear and intimidation. At the time I believed this was with the full support of the Council. What I found hard to believe was that this regime appears to have been driven by Nick Walkley CEO.

Now that Nick Walkley is leaving LBB to let others  manage the mess he has led, LBB have the opportunity to withdraw the One Barnet privatisation fiasco and make Barnet a local authority in which we can all feel proud to live and work.  

Kate Kennally  not only disregarded my promise to publicise her unlawful and bullying regime outside of LBB but in 2010 she informed me I could no longer be a member of the Learning Disability Partnership Board. Since this time  I have been refused membership of the Autism  and Personalisation working parties, both of which are headed by LBB managers I complained  about with issues related to bullying and intimidation.

Once my daughter's solicitor agreed I can go public, around mid 2011, just after her threat to Amanda Jackson  of a Judicial Review after she had unlawfully withdrawn my daughters night support service, my first experience of "coming out" publically was as a guest contributor in Barnet Eye.

Since then I made a promise that at every public opportunity related to Social Care and Health I would share the bad practice of LBB Social Care and Health to Commissioners, Directors of Social Services, families and Voluntary organisations. I vowed to myself that I  would continue until ALL vulnerable families (not the chosen few) were treated with respect and given the services their children needed, if necessary by cutting enormous senior management staff salaries. .

At the same time BAPS was growing and exposing bad practice in LBB  and campaigning against One Barnet Privatisation led by Nick Walkley CEO  that threatens to change the lives of Barnet residents and workers with such drastic and irreversible outcomes.  Whilst everyone seems to be thinking that Nick Walkley has 'jumped ship' and left LBB in a mess just prior to major Privatisation contracts being signed, I have been wondering if some courageous Barnet Councillors have whispered in his ear that he needs to remove himself so that they can remove the One Barnet Privatisation Programme. Probably a fantasy but wouldn't it be reassuring to know that our Councillors really are thinking and caring representatives of Barnet people.    

After my first guest article in Barnet Eye and with Roger's encouragement, I submitted further articles. At the same time I have been speaking up about LBB Adult Social Care and Health at every Conference and Training opportunity. Last weekend I attended a course in Oxford  "Integrity in Social Care".  At appropriate times, either formally during questions or informally throughout breaks, I shared how there is so little "Integrity" in LBB Adult Social Care and Health.

Today I attended a Community Living  Conference at the Directory of Social Change "Legal issues in Social Care"  and again Service Providers, Commissioners, family and paid carers heard about the unlawful  practice to people with learning disabilities and their family carers in LBB.   

What is common to all the times I disclose the shenanigans of LBB is that:

*People in the care sector from all over the UK,  whether receiving, providing or commissioning services  are now hearing about LBB Adult Social Care and Health  horrid  regime under the control of Nick Walkley and Kate Kennally  and

*On every occasion  after disclosing my daughters and other family carers experiences, I have been approached by family or paid carers or advocates who either need advice or support with the same LBB regime or people who offer to support our family carers who are still being intimidated and bullied.   

Today I felt both delighted and saddened to be asked  "Isn't Barnet where an American Director came here to make  a film about the people of Barnet?".

Delighted because the promise I made to Kate Kennally to expose her hypocritical regime if she didn't change the culture to serve vulnerable people rather than service Nick Walkley and LBB, together with the campaigning by such amazing people in BAPS is clearly being heard from people throughout UK. .     

Saddened because my family are five generation Barnet residents and I did not want to feel disloyal to Barnet. Unfortunately. LBB have betrayed us all.
Linda Edwards
Family Carer   
Linda Edwards is a family carer and was featured in the film Barnet - A Billion Pound Gamble ( Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye.