Wednesday 5 December 2012

The world of protest blogging - where on earth do I start ?

Some days my head feels like it is going to explode. For the last four and a bit years, I have been writing a blog. When I started I had no plan and no themes. I just wrote about whatever bothered me. Sadly for me, I've had to adopt a degree of self discipline over the last couple of years. The number of subjects I'd like to blog about has exploded, whilst the number of hours in the day hasn't. I have tried to limit myself to a few themes.

1. Barnet politics
2. Dyslexia
3. Cancer
4. The Friday Joke
5. The Saturday list
6. Music

It is interesting for me to review the blogs I wrote in December 2008.

Forn those of you unfamiliar with the history of One Barnet, it was called "Future Shape" back then. Leo Bolland was the CEO. My daughter was still swimming for Barnet Copthall Swimming club and they had just won the London Interborough Championships.

The Barnet News Roundup is the most interesting. As we approach the meeting where Mike Freer's Future Shape program is finally adopted, it all sounds so depressingly current and familiar. The names have changed, Councillor Harper was then viewed as a sceptic, now he's a believer. Perhaps the one constant is that Brian Coleman still picks his nose through meetings.

Back in 2008, I talked about conflicts of interest. At the time BT were  seen as the likely winner and many of these were identified. We still have issues of conflicts of interest. It's just the names are different.

If someone had told me in December 2008, we'd still be arguing over all of this, I would not have believed it. The Council have had four years to address these issues and have not bothered. they have not consulted. It is quite depressing really, despite the 741,525 blog hits I've had (you that is more than twice the population of Barnet), most people are blissfully unaware of the issues and consequences of One Barnet. One rather idiotic Conservative supporting blogger suggested that there are less than a hundred people in Barnet who care about One Barnet. Sadly at least 300 staff who are being made redundant are likely to disagree.

Given the interest in this blog and the BAPS petition, I suspect that this statement was merely a reflection of just how out of touch most local Conservatives really are.

As I look back it is clear to me that the One Barnet protest movement is a highly depressing story,. Arguments have been well made, time and time again. Time and time again, no one at the council has listened.

After four years of writing this blog, I look back on the story. If it was a novel, no one would believe you. When people ask me what One Barnet is all about, I often say "where on Earth do I start". The sad truth is that it is like Groundhog day. Every day we make the same arguments. Every day the Council ignore us. Every day we try a new approach and every day they simply put their fingers in their ears and shout La La La.

I will leave you with this thought. In December 2008, a former chairman of the Chipping Barnet Conservative Party left this comment on my blog. Has anything moved on since then?n Tyey even had an election and didn't put it in the manifesto.

"I think it would be quite right and proper for the council to engage in discussions with the public to get a better idea of which services could be privatised and which are best remaining under council control. Or rather, which services residents would be consent to see privatised, because neither Freer nor the Conservatives have a mandate for any of this. It was not part of the party’s manifesto at the last election and to try and implement changes of this magnitude without a mandate is asking for trouble."

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