Thursday 28 February 2013

The Barnet Eye - enjoy it while you still can !

On Sunday 10th March, I will be running 10K for Age Concern Barnet. I'm running in memory of my mum, who died in August 2008 from a massive stroke. This was the second major stroke she suffered, the first being in 2001. As a result of the experiences the family had with her care provision by Barnet council, most notably the effects of the outsourcing of the meals on wheels contract in 2007, I became aware of the huge importance of good public services. There are thousands of elderly people like my mum in Barnet who don't have family to look out for them. Age UK Barnet does what it can for them, but in these times of financial hardship they have ever more to do with less money.

I undertook to do the run and use this blog to publicise the cause, because it is such an important issue. Had my mum not survived in 2001 or not had a stroke, I may have been blissfully unaware of the issue. I spend about 17 hours a week writing and researching this blog. I decided when i took the challenge that if I didn't attract £500 in sponsorship, then it probably meant that spending this time couldn't be justified. If I couldn't persuade enough readers of the blog to stump up £500 (which is only 200 readers donating £2 each), it really wasn't worth the effort. With nine days till the event, I am £170 short of my target. If you haven't donated anything yet, and want to save the blog, please click here and show Barnet you care

Thanks to everyone who has already given their support

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Barnet and the death of common sense

There is a press release on the Barnet Council website

Published Tuesday 26 February 2013
Barnet Council’s Cabinet Resources Committee last night approved the sale of Stanley Road playing fields in East Finchley to The Archer Academy.
The sale of the land, subject to planning permission, will also allow local community use of the site outside of school hours through a partnership between The Archer Academy and Sport East Finchley.
The Archer Academy is currently based at the Institute Arts Centre building on Beaumont Close, East Finchley. It will open its doors to its first intake of 150 pupils in September 2013.
Under the proposals, the site will eventually be split into a lower and upper school, with the younger pupils housed at the Stanley Road campus and the older year groups to be based at Beaumont Close. For the first two years the school will be based at Beaumont Close.
Mick Quigley, the Archer Academy's Headteacher, added: "This partnership between Sport East Finchley and The Archer Academy offers a wonderful opportunity for our pupils and the community at large.
“I look forward to working closely with the council and local residents as we develop the site for our new pupils and future use for first class sporting facilities for years to come.”
Councillor Andrew Harper, Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Families, added: “This is a win win situation for the borough and Archer Academy. The Archer Academy will be offering us places in a part of the borough where there is a shortage of community secondary school places. It is also a win for local residents and the borough as a whole.” 
I could not disagree more with a council policy than the short sighted and stupid policy of concreting over playing fields. This is the third recreational facility in Barnet to be lost to a school in a year. The press release is also highly dishonest. It makes out that it is increasing provision of recreational facilities when it is reducing access.

This is a direct result of the councils obsession with making Barnet the biggest London Borough. The population of the Borough is set to rise by 60,000 people in the next few years. Given that we are not all indulging in a rabbitesque breeding frenzy, it means that we are importing a huge number of people and concreting over greenspaces to accomodate them.

The country is having a health crisis. Kids sit in front of computers all day, getting no exercise at all. Spaces such as Stanley Road should be at the forefront of getting young people outside and into exercise, instead they are buing built upon to accomodate the people moving into the Borough.

Despite planning to import a population five times the size of the registered voters of Mill Hill ward into the Borough, there are no plans for any improvements to public transport across the Borough. Barnet Council agreed to planning permission for a 10,000 seat rugby stadium in Mill Hill, but made no provision for improved transport infrastructure to support it.

Transport campaigners have been pushing the council to support the Brent Cross railway scheme, which would connect the East and West of the Borough and put a rail station at Copthall, linking the Rugby stadium with the Northern line at Mill  Hill East, the Thameslink line at Hendon and even Brent Cross and Heathrow. It would provide excellent links for local people and remove thousands of car journeys from our busy roads, making Barnet a better place. Sadly the council is not interested.

All they do is look for short term fixes for problems of their own making. Over the last few years we've seen the death of common sense in Barnet.

Tuesday 26 February 2013

In Praise of Richard Cornelius

Set your mind forward to 9th May 2014. 
The Conservatives in Barnet have been kicked out and
a new Labour administration is about to take office.
Alison Moore triumphantly leads her army into the town hall for
ameeting of the Labour group to carve up the cabinet jobs.
As she sits down, one of her colleagues stands up and announces   
Friends, Barnet residents, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Cornelius, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Cornelius. The noble Alison Moore
Hath told you Cornelius was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Cornelius answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Alison Moore and the rest -
For Alison Moore is an honourable woman;
So are they all, all honourable men (and women) -
Come I to speak in Cornelius's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Alison Moore says he was ambitious;
And Alison Moore is an honourable woman.
He hath brought many activists home to Barnet
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Cornelius seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Cornelius hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Alison Moore says he was ambitious;
And Alison Moore is an honourable woman.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented her a Queenly crown,
Which she did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Alison Moore says she was ambitious;
And, sure, she is an honourable woman.
I speak not to disprove what Alison Moore spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love her once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for her?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Cornelius,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

A vote is taken and hey presto, we have a new Leader !!!! Not the one the people of Barnet elected.  It is an odd fact that since Labour lost office in Barnet in 2002, every Conservative Leader who lead the party into an election victory has lost the job before the end of the term. The current Leader, Richard Cornelius took office following the sad and untimely death from lung cancer of Lynne Hillan. Since taking power, Richard has presented a radically different face of the Conservative party from his two immediate predecessors. Wheras Mike Freer was thin skinned and prickly and refuses to engage with anyone who disagrees with him, Richard is quite happy to step into the lions den. He appeared at a public question time organised by the Barnet Alliance for Public Services. Emails get answered politely. One suspects that Napoleon would approve of Richards leadership. The French leader famously said "Give me a lucky General". Richard is undoubtedly a very lucky leader. The biggest problem for every Tory leader since 2002 has been Councillor Brian Coleman. He has been a constant thorn in the side of all of them, causing offence and mayhem wherever he went. Following his arrest for assault in North Finchley and his suspension from the Conservative Party, Richard has been able to get on with the job, without Coleman constantly undermining him.

He has also been extremely lucky in Friern Barnet. When Occupy took over the Friern Barnet Library, it looked as if a PR disaster had erupted (courtesy of Councillor Robert Rams). As it turns out, what has transpired has allowed the Library to reopen at reduced cost to the taxpayer (if you believe the Councils figures). Whilst the Council has had a battering in the press, Cornelius can go into the election claiming that unlike the Labour administration in Brent, Barnet has not closed any libraries and they have worked with the community to keep open ones under threat. This would be an incredible piece of Chutzpah, but that is what politicians do.

Then there is One Barnet. All of the indications I have from the legal team representing Maria Nash indicate that her challenge will be successful. Whilst the Tories will squeal like little piggies when this happens, it could well be the biggest blessing of all. A hugely unpopular and risky policy could be dumped with minimal political fallout. By the time of the election, it will be a distant memory for much of Barnets population.

One suspects that none of this will save the Conservatives in Barnet. The national party is so unpopular and their policies are so disasterous that we are likely to see an electoral wipeout in many wards.  Whoever wins in 2014 is likely to have a huge mess to clean up. Under the Tories, Council debt has increased from £38 million in 2002 to over £600 million according to the latest set of accounts. The mismanagement of the successive Tory leaders is colossal. We all are liable to pay this cash back, yet the Tories are planning another Council Tax Freeze. Nothing could be more irresponsible.

The most alarming thing is that no one in Barnet seems to even be aware of this problem. As the country has found out to its cost, debt cannot be allowed to pile up forever. A responsible opposition would have been battering the adminstration about the issue, but we hear nothing. A complete wall of silence. As Mark Anthony observed in his speech " My heart is in the coffin there with Cornelius" Sadly for Barnet residents it will not be our hearts in the coffin with the political career of Richard Cornelius. It will be our hard earned cash, when we have to pay off the debts that this administration has piled up through its ineptitude.

Monday 25 February 2013

One Barnet - You won't change anything unless you get up of your backside

Last week I made an appeal for people to assist with fundraising for the legal challenges against the One Barnet program. We are looking for people to work as fundraisers on the day, rattling buckets, collecting signatures and engaging withe the people who will turn up on the day to support the cause.

Last week it became clear that Maria Nash, a disabled old age pensioner is being targetted by Barnet Council for having the audacity to stand up for her rights (See Maria is a brave woman who is taking on a challenge that the rest of us should be grateful for.

We all have choices to make in life. Some of us drive the bus and some of us come along for the ride. Maria is driving the bus, at great personal expense in terms of time, efforts and stress. The rest of us are simply passengers. We do our bit, but Maria is the one taking the risks.

I have to say I was severely disappointed at the response by people to the request to help on the day. If the people of Barnet are not prepared to actually get off their backsides and help, then by default the Council will be able to push through a dangerous and risky policy. Every one of us has to take personal responsibility and make the effort to support the cause.

If you can help, please email me BY CLICKING HERE. All we need is a commitment to be available for 2 hours on Saturday March 23rd to help with fundraising. I spend about 17 hours a week writing and researching this blog. I have done so for nearly five years. I have to ask myself if it is worth the effort if people are not prepared to give up a couple of hours of their time on one Saturday to help support and show solidarity with Maria. We have a small team of people who have committed, but we don't have enough. We need you to volunteer and help. It is not for me, or for the Barnet Eye. It is not even for Maria. It is for us all, for the people and future of Barnet. That is why we are having the March and they will be the beneficiaries if we stop the Billion Pound Gamble.

I have committed to two major fundraising exercises this month. I am running 10K for Age UK Barnet on Sunday 10th March (you can donate by clicking here - ) and by helping the fundraising at the Barnet Spring march for the Legal Challenge fighting fund on the day of March 23rd.

We can only meet these challeges if we stand together.

Sunday 24 February 2013

Rog T's Cancer blog - Some information.

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. My latest PSA test in August was not quite so promising, back up to 3.9, in other words the downward trend has stopped. 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?

For todays fascinating installment, I am simply posting some information that was posted by one of my friends on Facebook. This may sound a bit lazy, but it is a pretty good summary of the lifestyle I have tried (and not always succeeded) in following since I received my diagnosis in November 2011. I presonally don't reject conventional medicine, but urge anyone with cancer to consider making their lifestyle as healthy as possible.  I would also urge anyone who is healthy to consider the points below because the best way to beat cancer is to not let it develop in the first place.

There are three areas I disagree with the info in the post.

1. There are millions of people alive who have been helped by conventional medicine and surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. There are millions of dead people who have rejected it. Whatever treatment choices you make, base them on scientific fact.

2. I don't do suppliments, I believe in natural ingredients, not extracts. I believe fresh, organic ingredients are by far the best and safest way for our bodies to process anything.

from Johns Hopkins


1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.

2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person's lifetime.

3. When the person's immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.

4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors.

5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.

6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastro-intestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc.

7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.

8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size. However prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not result in more tumor destruction.

9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications.

10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other sites.

11. An effective way to battle cancer is to STARVE the cancer cells by not feeding it with foods it needs to multiple.

What cancer cells feed on:

a. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar it cuts off one important food supply to the cancer cells. Note: Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in colour. Better alternative is Bragg's aminos or sea salt.

b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastro-intestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soy milk, cancer cells will starved.

c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little chicken rather than beef or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer.

d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline environment. About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes t o nourish and enhance growth of healthy cells.

To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells try and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean sprouts) and eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).

e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer-fighting properties. Water--best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.

12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines will become putrified and leads to more toxic buildup.

13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the body's killer cells to destroy the cancer cells.

14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Flor-ssence, Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to enable the body's own killer cells to destroy cancer cells. Other supplements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the body's normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted, or unneeded cells.

15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor.

Anger, unforgiving and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.

16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells.


Saturday 23 February 2013

Guest Blog - Maria Nash is being victimised - A response by Linda Edwards

By Linda Edwards,

My experience of LB Barnet's Adult Social Care and Health (under Director Kate Kennally) was one of incompetence, contempt, oppressive, bullying and defensiveness.

As a family carer, representing my daughter who has a learning disability and autism, there was little attempt to work with me in partnership according to my daughters needs. The many years of battling with a dictatorial regime that resorts to lies and misrepresentation as a response rather than working on behalf of the disabled persons needs or listening to the family carer made my daughter regress and become depressed and me ill and unable to work.

My daughter's solicitor was forced to threaten a Judicial Review on various occasions when Kate Kennally's department demonstrated they were acting unlawfully.  It is not surprising that Maria Nash has embarked on a Judicial Review.  What is surprising is that more people haven't done this sooner!    

Kate Kennally's Department spent a huge amount of money paying for (biased) 'Independent' Consultants, legal fees and administration in  refusing to change my vulnerable daughter's service, making her deteriorate even further and leaving me with no alternative but to take the case to the Ombudsman. Nick Walkley, then CEO of LBB refused to intervene to prevent further expense. No one at LBB Adult Social Care and Health had any concern about the financial implications for Barnet rate payers throughout my long protracted battle to overturn their insistence on keeping a service that was not fit for purpose, not appropriate to be with vulnerable disabled people and with whom you wouldn't trust to leave your pet with! 

Their emphasis on the financial impact on the rate payers of Barnet in response to Maria Nash's Judicial Review is an attempt to turn the community against Maria Nash's cause. The community will not be fooled, especially when other disabled, vulnerable people and family carers share their stories with everyone!  Very few of us will escape having to rely on Social Care and Health in our life time. This  courageous lady deserves our appreciation and support.
Linda Edwards is a carer living in the London Borough of Barnet

Friday 22 February 2013

Ten policies which could win David Cameron the next election

I am not a Conservative and I believe that David Cameron is destined to lose the next election. I do however believe that he could turn his fortunes around and regenerate the country by adopting ten policies which would completely pull the rug out from under the Labour Party.  The economy is  in a mess and these measures would put a kick back into it. The only drawback is that they have to be done now, or it will be too late.

1. Cut fuel duty. The alleged reason for hiking fuel duty was to cut greenhouse gas emission. As the economy nosedives, this is stifling growth. We should adopt longer term measures to encourage green technology rather than this anti growth tax. This will make a huge difference to

2. Cut VAT to 15%. This will put cash in everyones pockets and help get the economy off its knees. Growth will fill the revenue gaps.

3. Renationalise the Railways. The franchise system is a nightmare. Profits go to private companies and taxpayer funded subsidies line shareholder profits. It is a complete joke. Nationalising the network would allow the public purse to benefit from the cash being poured into the infrastructure.

4. Build Boris Island airport ASAP. Heathrow is a dead end. It is in the wrong place and has reached the maximum capacity for the area without ruining millions of peoples lives. Cameron needs to be brave.

5. Cut Bureaucracy from the NHS. In the 1970's the organisation was based on clinicians, nurses and medical need. Now it is awash with adminstrators, accountants and managers. Get rid of them and get back to a system based on care. It would save a fortune.

6. Clamp down on consultants in local government. Barnet Council has wasted millions on consultants who have so far delivered no tangible benefits. They are all on tax effiecient contracts. Ban local aithorities from employing temps for more than six months. Stop this merry go round of jobs.

7. Cut business rates for start up businesses for three months. Encourage entreprenuers.

8. Remove Employers NI contributions for six months for new jobs. Give firms breathing space to take on staff.

9. Give the mayor of London responsibility for setting parking policy in High Streets. This is too important to be run by incompetent local authorities.

10. Set up a government backed care scheme for the elderly, allowing for equity swap arrangements, to allow people to be cared for in their own homes and give relatives tax breaks for care provision.

I believe all of the above measures would prove extremely popular and would improve the lives of people affected by the measures in a big way.
I don't normally blog about National Issues, but if I do not reach my sponsorship target of £500 for the Age UK 10K run on 10th March, I will be quitting blogging, so I thought you may like to know my views on the subject before then. If you wish to see me carry on blogging click this link to donate some cash -

Dr Who is alive and well and living in Hendon and enjoying the Thameslink service

No those of you who know me quite well will know I'm a Sci Fi buff. As such it gives me great pleasure to announce that I've uncovered an amazing fact. The most famous Timelord on the planet is alive and well and representing the people of Hendon in Parliament.

Yesterday I was in Marks and Spencers and a person who I've talked to over the years a few times whilst out campaigning on various local issues collared me. The gentlemen in question is a pugnatious character who has a low opinion of everyone involved in Politics and is more than happy to explain why at great length. He also has strong views on all manner of local issues. Like many people in Mill Hill he has become extremely disillusioned with the awful train service in Mill Hill, provided by First Capital Connect. Yesterday he was at his wits end about it and knowing I have taken an interest, he collard me. The conversation went as follows. Let's call him Adam (I've skipped the pleasantaries at the start).

Adam: "I am bloody well sick of this train service, First are an absolute joke. I thought the previous mob were bad, but this lot take the biscuit. Did you see that they've been voted the worst train company in the country".

Me: "Yes"

Adam: "What is that lazy git of an MP, Andrew Dismore doing about it? You never hear from him apart from when he wants your vote at the election, then you can't get away from him"

Me: "Erm, Andrew Dismore isn't the MP for Hendon. He lost in 2010"

Adam: "I thought he won the election last year?"

Me: "No, that was for the GLA, they don't run the trains, they just keep an eye on Boris"

Adam: "Oh, so who is our local MP then?"

Me: "It's Dr Matthew Offord"

Adam: "Doctor Who?"

At this I sniggered. I think the title quite suits Matthew. Given his activities to rescue the bumble bees of Barnet and his action man training with the Royal Marines he clearly sees himself as bit of a Time Lord on the sly.

As with all good Time Lords, he has a trusted companion in the shape of Max the Jack Russell. He is fearless when faced with challenges such as diving on old wrecks and it must be said that not a single Dalek has been spotted in Mill Hill since Dr Who took over from Andrew Dismore.

Just like the TV Timelord, Matthew has that special telepathic power which means you forget all about him after you've met him. Like the TV timelord he also has special telepathic paper for his campaign leaflets, so you see just what you want to see. A great example of this was his campaign leaflet which said he was going to stop Kentish Town Football club building a pavillion for 50 people at Copthall Stadium. Locals thought this would spare them from traffic Chaos. What he concealed was the plans for a 15,000 seat Rugby stadium on the site. Of course locals realise that 15,000 Rugby fans will cause far less disturbance to Mill Hill than the 50 people turning up to see Non League Kentish Town play. The matchday CPZ has seen to that.

So having had his true identity rumbled. My conversation with Adam continued.

Me: Doctor Matthew Offord

Adam: Are you sure it's not Andrew Dismore? Is Offord Labour? They are a bunch of lazy sods.

Me: Yes, absolutely. And no he's a Tory.

Adam: Do you know what he's doing about this bloody rail service?

Me: Well he says on his website that he's pleased that the Improvements are on track (

Adam: What, is he an idiot? Does he actually use the service? Who is he again?

At that we parted company. It seems that Dr Who really has learned to swim like a fish in the sea of people without troubling them with recognition. It is telling that nearly three years after the election, Andrew Dismore still has far higher local recognition that Dr Who.

On the good Doctors site, there is a section called local issues

Interestingly, this has only one topic. The One Barnet project which the good Doctor has no power over as it is a local council issue and out of his jurisdiction. There is nothing about the following issues, which he could have a big say in

The NHS and local health provision
Transport issues, roads, Underground and Rail (such as Thameslink)
Overdevelopment and Green Belt policy
Education, Acadamies and Free Schools

Do any of these matter to you? Well they certainly don't seem to matter to Dr Who? do they. One other interesting fact. Adam voted for Dr Who last time. He said he wanted to see the back of Gordon Brown. I asked if he would vote for him again? His verdict? "If I bother to vote, yes I'll vote Conservative as I always do, but if what your saying is true about his attitude to Thameslink, I don't think I'll bother"

Matthew Offord has a wafer thin majority of 105 and the Tories do not have Gordon Brown to act as a Millstone around the Labour vote. If Dr Who is to survive, I suspect he needs to build up a strong personal vote. He has made a big pitch for the anti gay marriage vote in Hendon, but apart from that, it is hard to see where this support can be rustled up from.

The Friday Joke - 22/2/2013

Tony Blair and David Cameron somehow ended up at the same barber shop.

As they sat there, each being worked on by a different barber, not a  word was spoken.

The barbers were both afraid to start a conversation, for fear it would turn to politics.

As the barbers finished their shaves, the one who had Blair in his chair reached for the aftershave.

Blair was quick to stop him jokingly saying, "No thanks, my wife, Cherie, will smell that and think I've been in a brothel."

The second barber turned to Cameron and said,  "How about you Mr. Cameron?"

Cameron replied, "Go ahead, my wife doesn't know what the inside of a brothel smells like".

Thursday 21 February 2013

Shoddy journalism at the Barnet Times is a complete disgrace

I was disgusted to read the following article in the Barnet/Hendon Times by Chris Hewitt

Mr Hewitt's article is perhaps the most biased and one sided piece of journalism I have seen from any of our local papers. A casual reader of the article would conclude that Maria Nash is simply a serial protestor and trouble maker. Mr Hewitt writes
Maria Nash, a protestor and member of the Barnet Alliance for Public Services, instructed lawyers to request a judicial review into the decision on the grounds the public were not properly consulted.
What Mr Hewitt fails to mention about Maria Nash is the fact that she is severely disabled, is confined to wheelchair and is completely reliant on Barnet Council for all of the services which allow her to live independently. Mr Hewitt has not bothered to speak to Maria or to even properly read the details of the legal challenge she is bringing against Barnet Council.

As Mr Hewitt can't be bothered to properly report what Maria is challenging, the Barnet Eye will. This is what Maria is challenging the council on.

1.         Breach of the Council's duty to consult Barnet residents, businesses and community organisations about its plans, the result of which is that it has spent millions of pounds – the Agilisys contract alone has cost over £4m and is likely to rise to £6m – on professional consultants helping it to run the procurement process, but has not once asked local people for their views.

2.         Breach of councillors' duty to the residents in their area, to make sure that their decisions represent the best available value for public money. In order to be sure that they are getting best value out of this or any other contract the Council must compare the costs, benefits and risks of outsourcing with the costs, benefits and risks of retaining services in house but reforming the way they are provided to optimise value. Despite having been urged to do this, and despite the fact that it has been done by other local authorities, like Edinburgh, Barnet has refused to do it.

3.         Breach of the public sector equality duty: the Council must take issues of equality into account when making important decisions which affect people’s lives, like making radical changes in the way Council services are run.  The “equalities impact assessment” done in the One Barnet case was a pure paper exercise, which took no account of the views of people who would be affected by the changes.

4.         Breach of public procurement law, which requires that this contract be awarded to the company submitting the “most economically advantageous tender from the point of view of the public body”, i.e. the provider that gives the “best value for money” , taking into account the council’s responsibilities. Lack of consultation with local people, lack of consideration of equalities and lack of an in-house services comparator means the council cannot state that Capita gives the best value for money.  Such a breach of the public procurement rules leads to cases like West Coast Main Line.

5.         Breach of councillors’ duty to make up their own minds: Individual councillors must by law make up their own minds how to vote after informing themselves on the issues.  They are not allowed blindly to follow the party line.  Councillors have been starved of information and have not had the opportunity to understand the highly complex proposals for the contract, so they cannot legally vote to do anything other than defer a decision so that they can inform themselves and come to a proper view. 

Mr Hewitt also accepts verbatim the Councils figures regarding savings. There is no mention of the fact that the Council claim they have not even completed the contract, so none of these savings can be tested or verified. There is no mention of the fact that Public Sector outsourcing contracts have a history of going bad and costing the taxpayer millions of pounds. There is no mention of the fact that Barnet Council have a history of mismanagement of procurement, wasting millions.

Mr Hewitt also does not mention that to receive legal aid, Maria Nash had to prove that their was a legal justification for the case she was bringing. Legal aid is not granted in such cases for frivalous challenges.

All we get is a one sided and extremely biased report, which does no justice to a very brave decision by a frail, disabled old lady to stand up for her rights. Mr Hewitt should issue an apology to Maria immedately for his biased and unfair reporting of her challenge and not carrying a response from the Barnet Alliance for Public Services or Maria. This article cannot be defended as being fair and unbiased. No doubt Mr Hewitt will claim he simply reported "facts" but as these have solely been provided by the council and there is no balance the article cannot be defended as being anything other than unfair. At the very least he should have accurately reported Marias status and why she is bringing the challenge, along with all of the grounds for the case, not just the Consultation issue.

Barnet Council spends huge amounts of money on advertising with local papers. One hopes that this plays no part in the editorial decisions of the newspaper. Surely we should expect higher standards from our local papers? In general the local press have been very fair and decent in reporting of stories concerning One Barnet. We sincerely hope this article was an abberation and an off day. We expect to see the problems rectified ASAP with Maria and BAPS being given the opportunity to respond.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Barnet Spring march - We need you to help !

On the 23rd March, there is a march to protest about the destruction of public services in Barnet. At present there are a number of legal challeges in the offing, in  a desperate last ditch attempt to stop the madness of wholesale outsourcing.

These legal challenges desperately need funding and the Barnet Alliance for public services have committed to help meet these financial commitments. Contrary to misguided comments by various Conservative members of Barnet council, BAPS is not funded by the trades unions and these funds need to be raised by the general public. I have been asked to coordinate fundraising activities on the day.  We anticipate a minimum of 1,000 people will attend the march, each person will be motivated by a desire to stop the madness.

We desperately need a team of fundraisers who will commit to working at the the march to help raise funds. There are four activities which we need people to commit to. We want as many four person teams as we can get. Can you put a team together. Each team will need the following members.

1. A team coordinator to organise members and coordinate with other teams and assist the other team members.
2. A cash bucket collecter, who will have a bucket to collect cash.
3. A standing order pledge collector, who will distribute standing order forms. We are asking people to commit to donating £5 a month for six months to fund the legal challenges.
4. Another team member to dish out leaflets, collect signatures for the petition and generally explain what things are all about.

If you want to be a member of a team or can put a team together, contact me via the email link at the side of this blog. The team which collects the most cash on the day, will be treated to a slap up lunch at Cafe Buzz courtesy of me. What more could you possibly want? We need details of teams ASAP. We need to connect with as many of the 1,000 people on the march as possible so it is a major task.

If you want any other information about the March, please visit

Kings Cross rail disruption demonstrates the abject failure of Rail privatisation

Today tens of thousands of rail passengers are facing huge delays to their journeys between Kings Cross and the north of England. Last night hundreds of fans of Leeds United were stranded for hours as trains were delayed and cancelled following damage to overhead wires on the route. Some were injured when a coach ferrying them was involved in an accident.

Whilst the overhead wire damage and the coach crash were not the result of the rail privatisation, the level of ensuing chaos is. The problem with the rail network in the UK is that it is not a joined up or well coordinated network. It is a hotch potch of rival companies running timetables to suit themselves, not their customers. Wheras under British Rail, every effort was made to ensure good connections between services, there is no incentive at all to ensure that a train run by one company connects with a train run by another company to take someone to their final destination.

In the days of British Rail, if the East Coast line was blocked, emergency services would be run on the Midland Mainline, which can also serve Leeds, York and beyond. The trains are slower, but they get you there. With the franchise system, this is not an option. By the time the agreements have been put in place, the line has been fixed. In the days of British Rail, such things could be hastily arranged as everyone worked for the same company.

Whilst the West Coast main line was being renovated, there was a shortage of train slots between London and Manchester. An interim service was introduced between St Pancras and Manchester on the Midland mainline. Destinations which had no direct trains to Manchester on the route had a new service, which for many proved popular. At the end of the works, the service was withdrawn and the customers who had grown used to this service were summarily deprived of a useful connection. All of this was done to ensure that the investment in the West Coast delivered maximum profits for the franchisee.

We see all manner of service changes, all of which are designed to increase the profits of the companies running the services rather than to ensure a good service for passengers. As a regular user of the Thameslink Service from Mill Hill for many years, I remember when British Rail first opened the service. There were eight trains and hour between Mill Hill and the city. Four were slow and four were fast and the intervals were regular. Despite the fact that the route is three times busier now and Mill Hill is awash with customers, we have 5/6 trains and hour with no regular pattern. There is no logic to the timings, other than that they suit First Capital Connect.

The government is committed to spending billions on upgrading the Midland mainline (the line which runs through Mill Hill). Whilst this is a good thing and should have been done years ago, the project echoes the stupidity of the whole disjointed approach to privatisation. Rather than using the scheme to leverage the maximum benefit for the whole network and improving resilience, there are all manner of short spurs which will not be electrified, wasting huge opportunities to improve cross country routes, freight routes and emergency backup routes.

I was reading an article yesterday about the new boss of the Crossrail project. He said that rail improvements in London were not generally about building new lines, rather they are about seeing what bits have been closed down or neglected, which could be reopened. In our neck of the woods, there are several obvious candidates. We have a new 10,000 seat rugby stadium at Barnet Copthall, next to an abandonded and largely intact tube route which connects with Mill Hill East. To reopen this would be easy and cheap and would save us the parking mayhem we suffer on match days.

Another example is the Dudden Hill rail line between Crickelewood and Acton. This line isa lightly used freight only line. The Brent Cross Light rail scheme has proposed using this for a tram style service, linking Brent Cross with Heathrow Airport. Very little new track would be needed, just a short spur to Brent Cross. It would take thousands of cars off the road and also give the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon a train service. Sadly such a no brainer of a scheme has been turned down by the people with no brains at Barnet Council, who refuse to support the scheme. As a result the Brent Cross redevelopment scheme will bring a parking meltdown to the West of the Borough.

I believe that it is ridiculous that something of such vital national interest as the rail network has no organisation which oversees it and makes sure plans give the best value for the passengers who use the service. We desperately need a new British Rail organisation to get the network back on track.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

How it all began - what happens when outsourcing goes wrong

On April 29th 2007, no one in the world of Barnet politics had heard of me. I had no interest in the world of council politics and no interest in the policy of the council towards outsourcing. My mother was still alive and was doing OK, following a stroke. She lived independently and relied on the meals on wheels service for a hot meal in the middle of the day. As with most Sundays we had her and my in laws over for lunch. My sister had turned up from the America to stay with my mum, as my mum had become rather concerned because the Council had changed the providers for her daily meal. She was upset because the lady who brought her lunch was going and she was worried that there "may be a problems".

I thought she was being ridiculous. I explained to her that when the council changed suppliers, they were careful to make sure that the people who received the service would not see any diffierence. I knew things may be a "bit different", but I had read the pamphlet which explained that the new supplier offered a better range of food, catering for ethnic diversity and choice. She said she "didn't want curry, she wanted her usual lunch".  She had made such a fuss that my sister had rearranged her annual holiday to make sure she was staying with my mum to calm her.

My mum would have been 88 today. Had she still been alive, I'd have been sharing a Guiness with her instead of writing this blog. She died 17 months after I wrote the email below. I believe that what happened undermined her confidence and contributed in a major way to her demise.

Had I not had to write the email below, this blog would not exist. Maybe I would have not been in the slightest bit interested in One Barnet. Maybe I would still believe that changing to an outsourced supplier didn't matter.

I wonder how many people will have to write emails like this as the full horror of One Barnet is rolled out. I think I've wised up a little bit since then.

29 Millway
As you may be aware the meals on wheels service provided by Barnet Council today changed operators. My mother, who is 81 years old and disabled following a stroke, generally relies on this service for a hot meal at lunchtimes. Under the previous provider, the meals would come without fail before 12 Noon. My mother was rather upset when the previous lady who delivered her dinner informed her that her company had lost the contract and a new supplier would be taking over. If you are familiar with the elderly, roiutine becomes a matter of paramount importance. Having already become unsettled by this change, my mother became extremely distressed when the meal did not arrive.
Eventually the meal was delivered at 5.10pm, over 5 hours later than usual. My sister who is visiting from America, was with my mother and was informed by the driver that the meal had been on the van since 13.00. It was completely dried up and inedible(to say nothing of the health risk of having a meal on a van that long). The delivery company informed my sister that there were at least 10 outstanding deliveries.
On inspection my sister drew the conclusion that the quality of the meal was also far inferior to the previous suppliers offering. My sister is a retired SRN and worked for the last 7 years in the USA in hospices, so she is familiar with dealing with elderly people. She was totally disgusted, not least to find that the helpline was permanently engaged.
I assume that the contract was changed on grounds of cost. When dealing with vital services such as this, PROPER PLANNING is paramount. Drivers should have been performing dry runs to familiarise themselves and should have acquainted themselves with the operating pattern of the previous supplier. All of this is what councils are meant to do. Fortunately for my mother, I anticipated this scenario and had arranged for my sister to delay her return to the USA just in case.
My mother has not had menu choices from the new company and is in a complete panic about the situation. I am sure she is not alone. I trust that between all of you, you will be able to resolve this matter ASAP and ensure that a quality service is resumed tomorrow. I trust you will get back to me ASAP to assure me that as councillors, this matter will be given the utmost priority by Barnet Council. I'm sure that the vast majority of lonely, vulnerable people in Barnet do not have someone to make there case, so I feel morally obliged to ensure this is sorted out.
I am sure that all of you became councillors to look after the weakest and most vulnerable people in Barnet and will be as horrified as I am to hear of this.
My mother lives at ** Millway, and has lived in what is now Barnet since 1941. She was a great friend of Margeret Thatcher in the 1960's as my mother was chair of the Hendon Overseas Friendship Association, of which Lady Thatcher, as MP for Finchley was the honoury President.  She is absolutely livid and had a stroke in 2000 not impared her speech and mobility,  She would have been on the steps of the Town Hall tomorrow demanding action.
I look forward to an early reply.
Roger Tichborne

Organic Rocket Fuel Soup

I am not well. I have a cold which is driving me absolutely nuts and has sapped all of my energy and will to live. Sadly I don't have the option of lying a round feeling sorry for myself so I just have to get on with it.

Anyway, I thought I'd share with you the recipe for my organic rocket fuel soup. This is my dish of last resort to resolve such issues and it is a surefire cure. If you see me for the next two days, I'd advise against getting taken with the urge to snog me as it has rather a lot of garlic in ! All ingredients should be organic


1 Tin Organic chopped tomatoes
4 cloves of Garlic
2 large hot red chillies
2 medium sized potatoes
1 medium sized onion
A handful of fresh chopped parsley
A tblspoon full of turmeric
A tblspoon full of fresh shaved ginger
A teaspoon of organic capers
2 organic stock vegetable cubes
A lemon
Half a lime
450 ml Water
2 tblspoons of cocunut oil

Chop up Garlic cloves 10 mins before you start
Chop chillies, potatoes & onions into small pieces
Put cocunut oil in saucepan with lid. Melt on medium heat
add potatoes, onions, chillies & garlic - put lid on and cook for 4 mins, shaking periodically
Mix stock with tomatoes, water, tumeric, ginger & capers. Add to mix & leave for 15 mins
Add parsley, pepper & squeeze in Lemon & lime and serve.

Monday 18 February 2013

Is social media starting to destroy society? The destruction of Society quiz

Here's a little quiz, just for fun to see if there really is such thing as society anymore and to see how the advent of Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and the iPhone have changed our attitudes to privacy.

1. You are in an out of town pub and you see your best friends wife with another man on a romantic date, clearly seeking to avoid attention. Do you.
a) Video them and post it up on Facebook
b) Take a crafty snap for a rainy day and tell your other mates up the pub later
c) Immediately leave and keep schtum.

2. You check into a City Centre hotel on business. As you are drawing the curtains, you notice a couple in a house across the street having sex with the curtains open. Do you?
a) Get the iPhone and video the whole scene, posting it up on Youtube in the hope of getting a viral hit?
b) Take a crafty picture of the scene to show your mates at the pub?
c) Draw your own curtains and look away?

3. You are playing with the video feature on your new iPhone. As you are videoing the front of your house,a little old lady slips on a dog turd and breaks her ankle and is caught on film. Do you?
a) Carry on videoing and post to Youtube in hope of getting a viral hit because it is hilarious?
b) Stop videoing, call an ambulance and then show your mates the video in the pub a couple of weeks later?
c) call an ambulance and go out to help her.

4. On your twitter account, you see a tweet with a picture of a well known politician having sex with a goat. Do you?
a) Immediately retweet the picture to your followers?
b) Save the picture as it is hilarious, but refrain from retweeting it?
c) Not even bother looking?

5) Your bosses secretary accidently copies you into an email describing how much she enjoyed performing fallatio on him last night and asking if he is meeting her later tonight. Do you?
a) Forward it to everyone you know?
b) Save a copy to show to a few chosen mates?
c) Delete it, tell her immediately and tell everyone else who received it to be respectful of her feelings.

6) You hear a commotion outside your house. You see two policemen being set upon by an armed gang and receiving a vicious beating. Do you?
a) Get the iPhone and video the whole scene, posting it up on Youtube in the hope of getting a viral hit?
b) Take a crafty picture of the scene to show your mates at the pub?
c) Immediately call 999?

7) You live next door to an old lady suffering from senile dementia. You hear a commotion and you see her wandering around, completely naked. Do you?
a) Get the iPhone and video the whole scene, posting it up on Youtube in the hope of getting a viral hit?
b) Take a crafty picture of the scene to show your mates at the pub?
c) Grab a dressing gown and go outside to help her?

8) You are in a restaurant. A well known celebrity who you admire is rather the worse for wear and is behaving in a drunk and embarrassing fashion, although not disturbing you. Do you?
a) Get the iPhone and take a sly  video the whole scene, posting it up on Youtube in the hope of getting a viral hit?
b) Take a crafty picture of the scene to show your mates at the pub?
c) Carry on with your meal as if nothing had happened?

9) You receive an email from an acquantance that is not meant for you, telling his wife that he is leaving her. You realise she hasn't received it as it's come to you by mistake. Do you?
a) Post it up on facebook with a note saying "What a plonker"?
b) Save a sly copy of it to show your mates up at the pub?
c) Email him back and say that you will say nothing to anyone?

10) A friend of your wife, who doesn't undertstand technology accidentally posts a picture which shows her naked reflection in a mirror. From the comment, she clearly hasn't realised. Do you?
a) Share it and draw attention to her embarrassiong pose?
b) Save a crafty copy to show your friends later?
c) Contact her immediately to try and save her embarrassment?

To get your score. For every Answer a) you get ten points. b) five points. c) Null points.

Your score

80-100.  Society is doomed with people like you around who have no empathy for your fellow human being, but at least you'll have lots of Facebook friends and twitter followers.
 40-80.  Society will be shaken to it's foundations with people like you, but at least you have one or two boundaries. You will probably pick up a few extra twitter followers on the way.
5-40.  You are on the slippery slope to destroying society.Your Twitter account and Facebook are probably pretty dull, but you are good value up the pub
0. Society is safe whilst you are around, although most of your friends are in the natural history museum.
 Feel free to post your score up as a comment. You may think the scenarios are ridiculous, but apart from no 4 (where in actual fact the picture was of something far worse and it was via email and not twitter), I know people who have been in all of the scenarios above and have chosen an option which isn't c. My score is 25 (shocking though that is or isn't).

The question which really intrigues me isn't about the people who answer the questions but about society itself. We live in a society where every single one of these scenarios (possibly bar no 4) happens on a daily basis and the people doing the videoing or reading the emails are the government. We have more cameras in London than any City on the planet and the government has the right to read all our emails whenever the so choose. Old ladies slip on dog muck, celebs get pissed, grannies run up the road in the nude and people have sex on video. It is all on film somehwhere with teams of CCTV operators watching it. As to our emails, how many of them actually get read? I've no idea, but probably far more than we realise.

The thing about social media isn't that it is destroying society. It is that it is making us destroy society. Whether you chose a,b or c to the answer of any question above, your action will have a markedly different outcome should it actually occur. If you post something embarrassing about someone you know on Facebook or Twitter, it isn't Facebook or Twitter  which is to blame if it all goes horribly wrong. We have a choice.

Focus on Harrow - The sad demise of Dr Rachel Frosh

Today the Barnet Eye takes a little journey across the border into neighbouring Harrow. The parliamentary candidate for Harrow West at the last election was Dr Rachel Frosh,  a local GP. The Barnet Eye originally took an interest as this was the seat where Mike Freer, the then leader of the Council stood for Parliament unsuccessfully in the 2005 elections. Dr Frosh wrote a blog, which was quite interesting and informative under her maiden name Rachel Joyce. I felt Rachel was a decent candidate and would do a good job for West Harrow if elected. She would often post blogs criticising the BNP and other fascist organisations and as such I have built up a degree of respect for her. Unlike Mike Freer MP she wasn't thin skinned and was quite happy to have a discussion on issues in private. As a GP, I felt she'd bring useful experience to the House of Commons. She was a former Lib Dem, so I assumed she was to the left of the Tory party.

As she had something interesting to say (often which I disagreed with), I followed her twitter account. Rachel often wore her heart on her sleeve, perhaps just a little too much for someone with Parliamentary ambitions. Last week, she retweeted a rather silly twitter message, which suggested that Adolf Hitler was a socialist. I thought it was an extremely stupid tweet and wondered why someone who was clearly reasonably intelligent would bother to retweet it, but thought no more about it. I've retweeted all manner of things which I wish I hadn't (especially after  a couple of bottles of vino).

Today I saw this message on her twitter account

As Rachel often circulates things which are interesting, I clicked the link. To my amazement, it was a statement explaining that se'd been deselected as a Parliamentary Candidate for the Conservatives because of the Tweet.  The statement says
In summary, I must have (without even remembering later on) lazily re-tweeted a tweet that used a quote from Hitler where he stated that they (Nazis) were socialists. As someone who converted to and married a Jewish man, and who has been active in anti-genocide and human rights campaigns (including in particular Sri Lanka), it always jars when the BNP and neo-nazis are described as right wing, or far right, when the evidence from history is contrary to that. That was probably why I clicked the re-tweet button.
I could stand behind the defence that a re-tweet isn’t an endorsement (I’ve since double checked, and it isn’t), but merely a request for followers to take a look, but I acknowledge it was a poorly worded tweet so I shouldn’t even have re-tweeted that particular tweet.
The reason I resigned as DPCC was because the role requires a large degree of partnership work, convincing local councils (including Labour controlled ones) to work with us for the benefit of the population to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour by tackling the wider causes of crime. I felt that I could not continue in that role and at the same time defend myself in the regard that the tweet was about exploring the socialist roots of Nazism – nothing else. It came over as insulting the Labour party and I therefore felt that it would damage the PCC’s work with local councils. (However I re-iterate the point that the modern Labour party and no other mainstream party bear no resemblance to any fascist or racist party). In regard to the party’s candidates’ list, I am sure I will be back on that soon, when all the facts are reviewed.
In short, it seems that if you retweet a message which offends the hierarchy of the Conservative Party, you get deselected. I have a degree of sympathy for Rachel. She has a staunch record of opposing fascism and has gone far further than any other Tory candidate I know in this field. She has posted all manner of Youtube videos about the subject on her blog and I for one would be prepared to stand beside her and defend her (even though she's a Tory). She has been more active opposing the BNP than ANY of our local Labour politicians. As to the actual Tweet.

She is correct that the roots of the German Nazi party were in socialism. Where she is completely wrong is in stating that the Nazis were a Socialist party. They took the socialist ideology of equality and then changed it to exclude all manner of sections of society - Jews, Gypsies, Gays, Disabled, Criminals, foreigners. At the point that anyone claiming to be a Socialist says "We are all equal except for them", they cease to be a Socialist. The Nazis were an extreme right wing party, because extreme right wing parties believe in social division and inequality. They believe that a priviliged group within society have rights and freedoms and anyone else doesn't. The fact that some members of the Nazi party started out calling themselves Socialists is irrelevant. As soon as you stop believing in equality, you cease to be a socialist.

I believe that labels of Left and Right are outdated. In the UK we consider the Tories to be  a right wing organisation. If they were in the USA, they would be viewed as rabid Socialists or even communists, with their commitment to the NHS and Gun Control.  We consider Labour to be Left wing, but Cuban friends of mine consider Labour to be a bunch of Fascists for their policies towards Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention the Falklands). At the extremes of left and right, the two meet. Stalin and Hitler had far more in common with each other than any moderate left or right wing leader. During the Second World War, we had a government of National Unity lead by Winston Churchill, but backed to the hilt by the British Labour party.

We are extremely lucky that all three major mainstream parties reject the policies of division on Nazis and Fascists. David Cameron has yet again displayed our cultural Liberal tolerance by forcing through Gay marriage legislation. I often think that the reason the likes of Rachel sometimes spout such nonsense on the subject is precisely because there is so little difference between Labour and Conservative.

Which brings us back to Rachel and her deselection. I have never heard of a more ridiculous reason to deselect a candidate. She clearly isn't a fascist. She did something which was a bit silly. If anyone anywhere was offended by her retweet, they need to get a life. I hope she gets reinstated on the PPC list and I hope she learns from the experience. 

I really don't believe that the Conservative party is so awash with talented candidates that they can afford to toss her on the scrapheap. In Hendon, we have an MP in Matthew Offord, who has compared gay marriage to polygamy all manner of other things. He didn't simply retweet this, he has gone to great lengths to stick the knife in. So much so that he's fallen out with his former best mate, Mike Freer MP, who is in a civil partnership and spoke up for gay marriage. I'd swap Matthew for Rachel any day of the week. 

I don't normally stand up for Tories when they do something a bit stupid, but in this case, I have to follow my conscience. I would suggest hwoever that Rachel takes herself down to Mill Hill Music Complex and I'll give her a lesson on political history, so that she can understand why what she retweeted was complete cobblers. It would save her a lot of trouble in future.

Sunday 17 February 2013

Why you should stick your hand in your wallet and sponsor me me for the Age UK Barnet 10K run

This blog was started on Saturday 11th October 2008. Since then, I've posted 3,180 blogs. As of now, the blog has had 834,441 hits.

The thing which started me blogging about Barnet Council was the way they treated my mother in the final year of her life, with regards to the outsourcing of the meals on wheels contract. I realsied that they had no concern whatsoever about the well being of the elderly people of Barnet. There only concern was saving a bit of cash by cutting services for the people who most needed it. This was compounded in 2010 when the council caabinet voted themselves a huge rise in allowances as cuts were made almost everywhere else.

So who looks after the elderly people in Barnet who don't have children to stand up for them? There are a few charities who are doing their best in these difficult times. One such organisation is Age UK Barnet. I have decided to do a 10K run on Sunday 3rd March 2013 at Crystal Palace to raise some money for them.

You can donate to this great cause by clicking here -  - from my blog stats, I see that 1,000 people look at this blog every day. Times are hard but is there a reader of the Barnet Eye who genuinely couldn't afford to spare £2.00. I have set a target of raising £500. To achieve this, 250 readers of the Barnet Eye need to contribute £2.00 each towards Age UK Barnet. If there are 250 of you who care enough about the blog to contribute £2.00 and who think that the 3,180 blogs I've written have been good value for money (less than 0.2p each for all of you), then I will be forever in your gratitude and it will send a small message out that people care.

If there are not, then to be quite honest, I will have to consider whether it is worth the time I dedicate to writing this blog. So if you are one of the members of Barnet Council, who would dearly love to see the back of this blog, please tell all your friends to keep their wallets shut. If you like what you read, but are too tight to spare £2.00 (less than 15p a day between now and then) to keep the blog running, you will only have yourself to blame, if you wake up on March 4th and this blog has disappeared forever.

Of course I am sure that readers of the Barnet Eye are generous, decent people and they care passionately about looking after the people who have built this Town, this City and this Country and are now in the twilight of the their lives. That is why I'm convinced that on the 3rd March, I will be running the run, proudly representing the people of Barnet and the readers of the Barnet Eye. I will lovingly write the name of every sponsor on my shirt when I do the run, so we can all share in the achievement.

Saracens Matchday CPZ - Parking carnage in Mill Hill

Yesterday was the first full on Saracens match day at Copthall Stadium in Mill Hill. Whilst the event was a great success for Saracens and it is nice to see the Stadium renovated and in use, Barnet Council has used the opportunity to turn the whole thing into a lucrative earner. At around 3pm yesterday, I did my 5km Saturday jog. This took me around many of the streets in the matchday CPZ. I saw dozens of cars with parking tickets. There were seven cars in a row on Woodland Way with tickets. As Saracens fans are likely to know there is a matchday event, one has to suppose that the tickets were all for ordinary residents of Mill Hill who aren't part of the Rugby fraternity.

I stopped and chatted to one old lady who seemed rather distressed about receiving a parking ticket. She informed me she always parked there on a Saturday. She gets her hair done if she has a night out. She was in tears, telling me she'd never had a parking ticket before and that she didn't know what to do. She didn't even know who Saracens were and was indignant that it had impacted her life. She asked me if it was anything to do with Barnet Football club who she'd heard had wanted to move to the ground. I told her that it was all over the local paper. She replied "I am not in the slightest bit interested in Sports or Rugby, so why should I read about it".

She told me she was very disappointed because John Hart had told her that he'd saved Mill Hill from Barnet Footbal club at the last election. When I explained about the fact that Barnet Council had imposed a five hour CPZ she said "where are the signs". I explained and she said "I don't know when the Rugby is on and I don't drive around reading signs on the side of the road. if I did I might kill somebody, this is absolutely ridiculous."

It is scandalous that the Council have chosen to impose the CPZ in such a haphazard manner. The signage for people who have no knowledge of Rugby matches is totally inadequate. The advertising for the scheme has been totally inadequate and if the lady I spoke to is anything to go by, this will cause massive ill feeling in the neighbourhood.

As she explained "If you've been parking somewhere for twenty years and the Council suddenly change the rules, they should make sure everyone knowns and put some proper big signs and yellow cones  saying "don't park here today".

Saturday 16 February 2013

The Saturday List #35 - Ten achievements of Hendon MP Matthew Offord

As ever on Saturday we have our list of interesting things. This week we have the spotlight on our local MP Matthew Offord. We list his top ten achievements since becoming an MP in 2012.  Mr Offord has achieved widespread fame for has absolutely, completely sane, rational and reasonable behaviour.

1. He got on news at ten for opposing gay marriage, suggesting that if it was allowed we'd all become polygamists.

2. He made the politics show with Andrew Neil campaigning for human rights for dogs, when the House of Commons told him he couldn't bring his pooch to work.

3. He achieved an honourable mention in the press for apparently being completely sober in the bar at 1am in the morning at the Tory party conference and indulging in handbags with the Tory chief whip.

4. He famously got mistaken for a soup waiter by David Cameron, when he first appeared in the Commons restaurant. Cameron asked him what soup he'd recommend.

5. Mr Offord has been widely praised for his scheme to bring a cheese shop to Mill Hill Broadway. Despite hoardes of hungry fromagarists eagerly awaiting the opening, this has yet to happen, despite it being one of his 2010 election campaign themes.

6. Mr Offord is also widely known for his appreciation of a good party in a Jacuzzi. If you have a jacuzzi in your back garden and you are having a party, ask him along. He really enjoys it.

7. Mr Offord has also been a member of the Parliamentary Armed forces scheme, which has allowed him to fly with the Army to South America and personally close down several major international drugs cartels (Well that was the impression he gave).

8. Mr Offord also received widespread acclaim for his attack on his former best mate and local party activist Adrian Murray Leonard. After the 2010 election, when Mr Offord no longer needed teams of willing doorknockers, he publicly attacked Mr Murray Leonard, accusing him of all manner of bad behaviour (which Mr Murray Leonard denies). It seems that having secured the job of MP, he apparently found a conscience.

9. On the subject of falling out with mates, apparently relations are somewhat strained between himself and his former best mate, ardent supporter and boss, Mike Freer MP. The two have fallen out as Mr Freer is an impassioned supporter of gay marriage, which Offord opposes.

10. Matthew is a very bright chap. He recently became a Doctor receiving a PhD for his work. ‘Rural Governance and Economic Development: The Changing Landscape of Rural Local Government’. It is an academic examination that considers whether changes introduced through the Local Government Act 2000 has introduced a measure of uniformity in the way rural councils work.Clearly this work has massively assisted him in his inderstanding of how to help his more deprived constituents in Burnt Oak, Grahame Park and Colindale.

Matthew is a tireless campaigner (yes he has absolutely no tires at all) and has built a reputation based on all of the work he has done for his constituents. Click here to see his busy calendar of events where you can meet him and tell him what a marvellous job he's doing

Matthew is also an extremely honest MP as can be seen by the analysis of the One Barnet program on his website

As you can see that Matthew is convinced this is a fantastic idea. To quote his website

"The proposal has been established on a proper business case evidenced by the agreement of the Council’s own Section 151 Monitoring Officer."

Matthew is clearly impressed that a part time consultant, who is clearly clever enough to sort out rather beneficial tax arrangements, has told him that there is a proper business case !!!!

Lets hope Matthew gets hold of this and publishes it on his website. He is also rather impressed that the press reported that the council were considering changes way back 2009. It is marvellous that he has taken so much interest in the program. Strangely he doesn't mention he was one of the architects of it as Deputy Leader of Barnet Council? I wonder why that could be? Maybe he doesn't want it to become number eleven on the list.

Friday 15 February 2013

The Friday Joke 15/2/2013

Q: What does a drummer say if you ask him what perfect pitch is?
A: Wembley Stadium

Q: What do you call a beautiful woman on a keyboard player's arm?
A:  A tattoo.

Q: Why do guitarists like to tour in the summer?
A: So they can visit all their kids in the holidays

Focus on Chipping Barnet Conservatives

The London Borough of Barnet is divided up into three constituencies, Hendon, Finchley + Golders Green, Chipping Barnet. Whilst Hendon is in a state of meltdown following the various shenanigans of MP Matthew Offord and Finchley and Golders Green has become a focal point for protest coordinated by Occupy London as a result of the anti squatter stance of MP Mike Freer, Chipping is what it always has been. A sleepy backwater where nothing much happens.

So much so that the MP, Theresa Villiers was made Northern Ireland minister. Perhaps it is ironic that whilst Barnet is outsourcing its services to the rest of the country, Northern Ireland has outsourced its management to Chipping Barnet!

Of the three constituencies, Chipping is far and away the most middle class, the least diverse and the most Tory. Until 2010, it was the only Barnet constituency with a Tory MP. In 2012, the association made an attempt to make the represenation more diverse, by selecting a female Muslim candidate for the Chipping ward council by election. This was a disaster. The plan failed miserably, with Labour romping away with a previously safe seat.

The local association is now controlled by the chair Fiona Bulmar. Ms Bulmar was a member of the Council cabinet until 2009. She stood for leadership and lost narrowly to Lynne Hillan. In a fit of pique, she walked out of the cabinet and stood down as a councillor. She subsequently made up with Ms Hillan and took up the reigns of running the association.

Like many such clubs, the association has been torn apart by many such rifts and squabbles over the years. Resting anti Council blogger, David Miller was the association chairman for a while. He quit in disgust at the endless shenanigans. Another anti council blogger was an ex Barnet Councillor. Daniel Hope was actually a Chipping ward councillor, until he fell out with fellow Councillor Andreas Tambourides. As a result of the rift, Mr Hope was deselected from the ward. He started writing occasional blogs under the name "The Barnet Bugle". Reports reach the Barnet Eye that Mr Hope has been seeking to rejoin the association as he has decided that gatecrashing lefty love ins after council meetings is not for him. Rather amusingly we hear that Conservative leader Richard Cornelius is less than thrilled at the concept. Having, rather fortuitously, been given the opportunity to get rid of another rather problematic member in Brian Coleman, word reaches the Barnet Eye that Richard is not exactly chuffed at the prospect of having the challenge of the rather easily upset Mr Hope in his ranks. The Barnet Eye wonders if Mr Cornelius is ever secretly jealous of Joseph Stalin, who had a very effective way of dealing with such problems. All Mr Cornelius can do is ask such members to sit on the "general functions committee".

Like many such sleepy backwaters, nothing much happens. A quick look at the association news reaffirms this. It appears that so far this year, nothing at all has happened!

The association has a whole stack of rather elegant social events lined up. Here are a few examples

Coppetts Brunch Come and join us for some Bucks Fizz and brunch. 32 The Ridgeway, N11 3LJ

CWCC Theresa's Birthday Party 46 Kings Rd EN5 4EG. £15. Time: 7pm. 

Old Fold Branch Easter Tea 163 High Street. £12.50/head Time: 3.30pm

CWCC Coronation Dinner (60 years celebration) 163 High Street. £17.50/head  Time: 7pm

If this floats your boat, then check here for more details.

I suspect that Chipping would be the last place with a London postcode to still elect a Tory MP in the event of a total collapse of the party. That is unless it goes UKIP !

Thursday 14 February 2013

Money Saving hints for Barnet residents from the Barnet Eye

Do you need to park in the London Borough of Barnet?

Do you not want to use the Pay by Phone system?

Do you need vouchers instead?

Well due to pressure from North Finchley traders, Parking in North Finchley is cheaper than everywhere else in the Borough and the parking vouchers available from the Library there are only £1.30 wheras elsewhere they are £2.00. They are the same vouchers as are available everywhere else, only they are cheaper. Therefore you can save a load of money if you buy them in Finchley.

Yet another example of the worlds greatest parking management organisation in the world.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Local History Special - The 1950 Mill Hill air crash

I received a request to dig up some info on the 1950 Dakota plane crash. 27 people died when a BEA Dakota bound for Scotland crashed at Highwood Hill in Mill Hill. Only one person on board the plan survived.

There is a great clip on the Pathe News website

There is also a write up in Aviation News reporting the details of the crash inquiry

You can still see evidence of the crash where the garden wall has been repaired. If you walk up Highwood Hill and turn right, have a look at the wall just past the first house on your right.

I find the local history of our area fascinating. If you know of any other stories which may be of interest to readers of the Barnet Eye, please get in touch.

It seems a shame that there is no memorial to the 27 people who died in the crash.

Keep an eye out for RE magazine, there is a great article on the subject in the latest edition