Monday 30 March 2015

UKIP Hendon in turmoil as candidate quits

It seems that UKIP in Hendon constituency are in a state of complete chaos. They are now on their third PPC as Jeremy Zeid has resigned following the "Abduct Obama" scandal.

The new candidate is Raymond Samash - full details are available on the UKIP website. Mr Samash has served as a medic in the Israeli army during the Yom Kippur war. He says

Hendon has benefited from immigration, which is evidenced by the many Irish pubs, Bagel bakeries and Indian restaurants providing food and drink from many parts of the world; but we believe that the sheer scale and pace of immigration is tearing at our social fabric and swamping our unique British way of life.. Whilst immigration provides benefits the time has come to introduce sensible controls to reduce the impact on so many of our basic services.

It will be interesting to see how this affects UKIP in Hendon. It is clearly not good for a campaign to lose its candidate ins uch embarrassing circumstances, but I guess better now than the week before the poll. Tory incumbent Matthew Offord is likely to be the biggest beneficiary of this spectacular own goal. It will be interesting to see how Mr Samash shapes up. Given Mr Zeids rather "interesting" views, we can only assume that he'll be an improvement. 

One interesting thing I have noticed is that UKIP Hendon does not have its own website piggybacking on the Barnet website. This to me makes the whole operation look rather amateur. If you click the people page, it seems they cannot even afford a decent picture of their branch executives.

The future for the Brent Cross Light Rail Scheme?

The Barnet Eye was fascinated to receive a call discussing the potential for a brand new light rail system for the London Borough of Barnet. One of the biggest criticisms of the Brent Cross scheme is the fact that it will bring traffic chaos to the whole of North West London. The scheme envisages 27,000 new jobs at Brent Cross, even without the millions of new customers the scheme would deliver.

The sad thing about this is that it would be relatively cheap and easy to address these issues, but there is no political will to do so. In the Borough there is a whole stack of abandoned and lightly used rail lines, that could easily be brought into use.

Our preferred version of this scheme, links Finchley Central to the Midland Mainline at Pentavia retail Park. The line will have a spur north to Mill Hill Broadway and a spur south toward Hendon. This would require reopening the disused line between Mill Hill East and Saracens, then building a new spur to Pentavia Park and over the M1.

The norther spur to Mill Hill also gives the future option of reopening the disused line to Edgware, linking the North East and North West of the Borough. Southbound it would provide a station at the RAF museum for the new Beaufort Park development. The route would continue on the freight only tracks to Hendon and Brent Cross Thameslink, before joining a new spur to the Shops and the existing Northern Line Tube station.

The Scheme would address several major transport congestion issues.

1. Massively improve match day transport links for Saracens, linking the stadium to the Northern Line and The Thameslink line.

2. Improve public transport connections to schools in the Page St area, reducing congestion from the School run. There are several schools in the Allianz Park Area.

3. Open up the new development at Pentavia Park for public transport and provide better public transport links to Barnet College, St James School etc in Grahame Park.

4. Provide a quick route from Mill Hill Broadway to Finchley Central and join Mill Hill to the East of the Borough.

5. Provide proper public transport for the RAF museum and the enormous Beaufort Park Development and Peel Centre development.

6. Improve public transport services at the run down and neglected Hendon Thameslink Station.

7. Improve interchange at Brent Cross Thameslink station, integrating it into the rest of the North London public transport network.

8. Give a direct link to the Shopping centre, without a massive walk with heavy shopping bags. Also give an easy and credible route for shopping centre staff to get to work.

9. Provide a link between the Brent Cross Tube station and the Thameslink Station, massively improving interchange.

New Hydrogen cell powered tram
The scheme would go a long way towards addressing the many unanswered questions about the transport chaos caused by the huge redevelopment. The costs of the scheme could also be massively reduced by using new hydrogen cell technology in trams, reducing the requirement for expensive electronic transmission systems. These trams only emission is water, which would also reduce pollution massively.

Whilst costs are always quoted as the reason not to persue such schemes, the headline figure must be balanced against the fact that spending on infrastructure is repaid with huge dividends over many years. For example the existing Thameslink rolling stock has been running for 30 years. When you divide the costs of such schemes over such long periods, the finances suddenly become far more attractive.

Planning any new transport scheme requires a sound business case. Given the large scale developments at Mill Hill East, Pentavia Park, Grahame Park, Beaaufort Park, West Hendon and Brent Cross, it is clear to me that we need an ambitious scheme, which involves a bit more than a few extra buses. Of course there are issues with any such scheme, but given the traffic gridlock which all of the new developments are likely to bring, we need to start planning now to address them. This scheme is potentially the cheapest and most environmentally friendly of all schemes mooted so far.

Belmont Zoo launches slick promo video to make case UKIP

The Barnet Eye was intrigued to see a very slick marketiong video have been produced by the Mill Hill Belmont Zoo. The most interesting feature of this slick video was the fact that it is clearly a promotion tool for UKIP. The Zoo owner Mr Andrew Reid uses the opportunity to use a planning dispute with Barnet Council, to explain why he quit the local Tory party and jumped ship to UKIP. Mr Reid was formerly a senior executive officer in the Hendon Conservative association. It appears from the video that the dispute with Barnet Council concerning enforcement of Green Belt legislation in regards to Mr Reids zoo has caused him to quit the Tories (who run the local council) and jump ship to UKIP.

Whilst it is quite clear that Mr Reids zoo has brought many benefits to the local community (as highlighted in his expensive promo video), it is also clear that Barnet Council and Mr Reid have a "different" interpretation of planning law.( Mr Reid's day job, when not running the Zoo, is a lawyer). The Barnet Eye is intrigued as to how a man with his knowledge and his connections in the local Conservatives can have found himself in the position he is in. Is Mr Reid the victim of infighting in the local Tories, resulting in a "flawed planning enforcement action" or is there more to this than meets the eye?

As the Belmont Zoo is clearly loved by a sizeable selection of the Mill Hill Community, we think the issue needs to be explored more vigorously. We suggest that maybe Mr Reid would like to discuss the matter with the Barnet Eye for one of our videos, giving the people of Barnet the opportunity to make their minds up. We would like to hold a public Q&A with Mr Reid and get a member from the Mill Hill Preservation Society and Residents Association involved, to ensure that all issues are properly explored.

Here is Mr Reids video.

Barnet Council close a beloved Community Hub from Belmont Farm on Vimeo.

Sunday 29 March 2015

Barnet Eye Exclusive - Boris announces his Leadership Campaign manager

Yes, it's unofficially official! As David Cameron has announced his plans to step down as Prime Minister at some point in the next Parliament, Boris Johnson has been working tirelessly to put his "Boris4Britain" team in place.

As ever with our leaky Tory friends, one has managed to secure a picture of Boris and his new campaign manager in action, and given it to the Barnet Eye in exchange for a Bombay Bad Boy pot noodle (these Tories just love a Bombay Bad Boy, they'll do anything for one!). Unfortunetly, not being part of the Boris inner circle, we are not quite sure of who this chap is. Initially we thought it was his GLA office manager Robert Rams, but on closer inspection realised the chaps is a bit too good looking. So if you have any idea who this Svengali figure is, please let us know.

The Barnet Eye would love to see Boris find a place in his team for the soon to be former Hendon MP Matthew Offord. Since Matthew was elected in 2010 he has shown all of the qualities that the Barnet Eye are essential for being a member of "TeamBoris" and we believe that with a dynamic player such as Matthew in his team. Boris will get the result that Britain needs!

Mayor of Barnet opens new football scheme at Grahame Park

I've known local football coach Paul Fitzgerald for some time. He used to run a training scheme for young footballers which my son attended. He was also a key figure in the Mill Hill Village Youth football training setup.

I was invited down to Grahame Park to see Pauls latest venture, the Academy of Football Specific Training. Like many people at the grassroots level in the community, Paul is not really one for the limelight, preferring just to get on with his job. So although he was keen for the Barnet Eye to get the word out about his scheme, he was too camera shy to give me an interview! We had a cup of tea and a chat about local football.

Paul has taken on the management of the Grahame Park community football pitch and is using it as his training hub. Until recently the pitch and the training rooms were semi derelict and vandalised.  During my visit I was pleased to bump into the Mayor of Barnet Hugh Rayner, who was down to see how the operation was getting off the ground. It turns out that Hugh knows Paul and is a big fan of his work. Hugh has helped Paul negotiate some of the hurdles and (after a bit of cajoling) gave me a short interview talking about the scheme.

Now we can all be a tad cynical at times, but I think this is an example of the Mayor doing a good job. People within the community such as Paul need all the help that they can get to negotiate the hurdles of dealing with the council, and it is clear that Hugh has been supportive. I've been critical in the past of the council for its poor record of protecting football pitches and other community facilities from developers. That Hugh has recognised the vital role such pitches and figures like Paul play is a very positive development and I sincerely hope that this signals a more general move towards protecting community assets.

So if you know of any young people in the area looking for football training, the full details can be found here -

Saturday 28 March 2015

The Tweets of the Week in the London Borough of Barnet - 28/3/2015

It's been a good week for tweeters in our little corner of London, sometimes I have to struggle to make ten, sometimes I struggle with what to leave out. This is definately a good week. Must be something to do with coming of Spring!

1. The tweet of the week has to be this. It looks like a very interesting afternoon tomorrow at the Phoenix Theatre

Trailer for the documentary Tony Benn: Last Will and Testament this Sunday 2pm

2.  The Save Barnets Libraries campaign are keen for you to join their March today at 11am from Edgware to Mill Hill library

  1. So who is coming on the march tomorrow? Meeting at Edgware library at 11am, then on to Burnt Oak and Mill Hill!

3. We are sad to see the departure of Martin Buhagiar from the Hendon Times. It seems not everyone in Barnet felt the same. We felt that Martins riposte to disgraced criminal Brian Coleman, who's shenanigans Martin did much to expose, was worthy of a first. This is the first Twitter exchange we've listed in this feature. We think it is a classico and definitely 1-0 to Martin.

    1. Good riddance to a nasty piece of work who has driven Hendon Times into the ground (although the rot set in before him)
  1. Haha thanks my redundancy payout was nearly as much as one of your weekly taxi claims. Oh, and I gave my laptop back...
4. Nicole Bursten finds Edgware to be a town of contradictions. I believe "ware" is the old English word for town and so I guess it's a pretty Edgy place!

weirdly, Edgware has a Middlesex Address, a Harrow post code, and is in the London Borough of Barnet.

5. Top marks for Deputy Leader of Barnet Council Dan Thomas, for spotting this! Didn't realise he was a Lidl man. Good to know the deputy leader of the Council is keen on counting pennies

Is advert filmed at local helping them compete with Harrod's food hall? Just saw Bentley parked at its Edgware store.

6. Want a night out tonight for a great cause. Drew Clode would love you to join him at The Old White Lion!

Some of the best songs. Old White Lion E Finchley next the tube. Saturday 28th. 6.30pm

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7. Clare Newsome mourns the passing of an Iconic Colindale landmark (as I am sure many of us do)

So farewell, then British Library newspaper archive Colindale. Demolished to make way for 'Edition' apartment block

8. Eugene Eyo has been taking some interesting pictures of the locality in Hendon, especially if you like subways (and I don't mean those bland gungy things purporting to be food)!

Subways Pt.1. in

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9. Love this slightly blurry picture from Huw Price.

Venus dancing with the moon over Barnet Odeon. 

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10. Seems like Mill Hill is the place to be if you want to make some noise!

Keep America calm! Rehearse in London instead and Rock till you drop!

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I hope you agree that there have been some crackers! I hope something in this weeks collection brought a wee smile to your face!

Friday 27 March 2015

The Friday Joke 27/3/2015 - Matthew Offord MP tells a cracker

I've never seen a bigger joke than this pariamentary question from Matthew Offord MP

Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon 25th March 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, with reference to his Department's announcement, Government delivers on parking promises to help local shops, published on 6 March 2015, if he will take further steps to ensure that local authority parking schemes are more advantageous to motorists.

After five years in office, Offord emerges from his slumbers ask what the government is doing about dodgy parking regimes. Where has Offord been over the last five years? In Barnet, his chums on Barnet Council have done the following (and remember that Offord was the Deputy Leader of the Council before he became an MP in 2010).

* Hiked the cost of parking in the High Street
* Scrapped coin operated pay and display machines, forcing drivers to use a phone based system that takes up to 20 minutes to register (when you migh just want to pop in to a shop for a pint of milk)
* Used parking charges as a cash cow (millions of council in the special parking account)
* Employed a firm of private parking contractors to ruthlessly enforce the parking regime, with no regard to peoples circumstances, born out by the near 100% success rate of my fellow blogger Mr Mustard in helping people appeal them
* Illegally imposed a massive hike in CPZ parking costs, which was only struck out by the High Court, when residents had to sue the council to reverse it.

 On Tuesday I attended the FSB North London business hustings and North Finchley Traders representative Helen Michael had this to say to the various candidates . She explained that she'd represented traders of North Finchley. In 5 years they'd collected 20000 sigs, attended meetings but all actions had been ignored. Arrogance & ignorance of councillors was unbelievable. In short, the Barnet Conservatives, of which Matthew Offord is a top dog, have no interest at all in parking.

It is all very well for MP's to start asking questions in the commons a couple of months before the election. Offord has no credibility as he didn't say a dickiebord for the last five years when his action could have made a huge difference, saved hundreds of small businesses and saved residents a fortune in car parking costs and hassle.

Of course the elephant in the room that Offord doesn't mention is just how much money the Tories recieve from the large retailers, who run shops at Brent Cross shopping centre, where of course parking is completely free.

Thursday 26 March 2015

Why I feel sorry for Hendon Conservative activists

I bumped into my old friend, Councillor Hugh Rayner today (more of that later this week), who was attending the launch of a local community scheme. As ever I had a good chat with Hugh and he handed me one of the local Conservative leaflets promoting Matthew Offord. The cover said "Discover my 6 point plan for improving our local area". I rather excitedly opened the document up to see what exciting plans Matthew had concocted in the five years he's been our local MP.

Excitedly I turned the pages,trying to find out what Matthews plan was.

Page 2 - Tackling crime in Hendon, Edgware, Burnt Oak, Mill Hill and Colindale. He says "I will fight for the Police to be given support to tackle issues like gangs, anti Semitism, and violence againts vulnerable people and I will continue to work with residents to ensure our area is a safe place to live." Fine words indeed, but surely that could apply to just about any area in North West London. Does it constitute a plan? No it is a cut and paste job from the "how to be a good Tory candidate handbook". A plan is to say something like "In Burnt Oak, I've been out at night with the Police to see anti social behaviour for myself first hand. As a result of this, I've sat down with the Borough commander and we've identified the following priorities". That is what an MP who was doing his job would say. An MP with cut and paste platitudes is to my mind insulting our intelligence.

Page 3. Continuing to improve our childrens schools.
Matthew says "I will make certain that the government again provides funding for vital school security which was refused by the last Labour government". Again another cut and paste job. Our locality actually has rather good schools. If Matthew wasn't so lazy, he'd mention a few of them and say how he'd personally got involved to make a difference and highlight his plans going forward. Why hasn't he?

Safeguarding the Environment.
Matthew says "I will build on my work to clean and protect local waterways such as the Silkstream and will continue to work with local residents in Edgware, Mill Hill, Burnt Oak, Colindale and Hendon to improve local environments." Matthew is referring to a recent litter pick in the Silk Stream in Burnt Oak. Now whilst this is a good thing and is an example of what I was saying above, it is so marginal to the threats to our environment locally as to be laughable. In Mill Hill we have green belt, which is under massive threat. Where has Matthew been in local campaigns to protect it? Mill Hill Broadway bus station has some of the most polluted air in Europe, as busses rev engines with poor localised air circulation and fumes from the M1 spill down. In five years Matthew has done nothing to address this. Even more alarming, the station is usually full of children waiting for buses breathing toxic fumes and diesel particles. Surely this is the type of local environmental challenge Matthew should be addressing. Where are the low emission and hybrid buses that the Tory Mayor could insist we had? Sadly the hundreds of School children who breath this polluted atmosphere don't vote.

Page 4. Getting a better deal for train users.
Matthew mentions the £6.5billion Thameslink project. Sadly he says nothing about any tangible benefits from this scheme for Mill Hill, Hendon or Cricklewood stations. We have recently found out that both Hendon and Cricklewood station are at risk of closure due to the new station at Brent Cross and Mill Hill may lose 2 rush hour trains an hour to accomodate fast services from Brent Cross. Matthew doesn't mention this. He talks about Step Free access at Mill Hill East. He's been in office for five years and all he's done for Mill Hill East is seen direct services cut to the bone.

Promoting more support for local businesses.
He says he "I will continue to argue for local initiatives on parking to help traders and shoppers". This is absolute hypocrisy. The local Tory council have hiked parking charges, removed cash pay and display machines from the Borough, imposed "exclusion zones" all over Mill Hill for Saracens and ignored a petition with 20,000 signatures about parking. Did Matthew Offord accompany traders to support them? He didn't want to know.

Page 5, Helping local people who work and save.
Matthew says "I will argue for the cap in welfare benefits to remain to help remove abuse of the welfare system and ensure that being in work pays". This is very twisted logic. If you work and you save, then you get a chronic illness, you are denied benefits if you have a decent pot of savings. You can only claim benefits when you've spent all your money. I work and I save, but this government has done nothing to help me. This is Matthews local plan. Where is the talk of local credit unions or schemes to get people into work. Where is the help in his constituency to get people who are trapped in benefit dependency into local jobs, apprenticeships and schemes. Matthew doesn't mention any. What conclusion can we draw?

As I said, I feel sorry for his Tory chums. The public judge politicians on their record and their actions. After five years and effective local MP should have a whole list of successes and acheivements in their locality to list in their leaflets. Offords Tory predecessor in Hendon was John Gorst, who even Labour supporters grudgingly accepted was a good constituency MP. Not even Tory activists claim that about Offord in private. Offords leaflet sums his record and his actions up. It is all rather sad.  His idea of a "local leaflet" is a cut and paste jobbie from the Tory Candidate handbook. It has no decent examples of local action. We can only conclude that this is because there are none.

One final rather hilarious note. At the back there is a "signed statement" from David Cameron. In it he says "I know how hard Matthew Offord MP works for this area because I have seen it in Westminster and in Hendon with Matthew working day in, day out. Now far be it from me to cast aspersions on the veracity of the Prime Minister, but when was the last time you saw him in Hendon monitoring Matthew Offords work rate? You know what they say about people who can't be trusted with small things......

Wednesday 25 March 2015

FSB Business hustings at Allianz Park

Tonight we had the Federation of Small Business Election  hustings at Allainz Park.

The event started with  a 3 minute video/advert for the  FSB.

Chair Michael Lassman introduced the event by stating that under the coalition small buisness have lead the country out of recession by working 20% harder for 20% less money. There were murmurs of approval. With that he allowed the panel to intoduce themseves.

Alasdair Hill, the Hendon Lib Dem candidate said small biz  was the life blood of country. He said the Lib Dems had helped by jumping into bed with the Tories, thus putting (ministerial limo's) the country before party. He emphasised that only the Lib Dems committed to a strong UK in the EU.

Next up was Richard Hill Finchley and Golders Green UKIP. He runs local jujitsu club and is married to British Indian. He's worked in the UK and abroad. He loves foreign food, but hates an EU superstate (or words to that effect). He thinks over regulation from EU stifling business, because the  EU creates regulation. HE believes that you do not have to be in EU to trade with them, and that if we left the EU everyting would be just fine.
Next up we had Luke Parker,  Tory candidate Brent North. HE's the son of a pub landlord. He works for IBM. Rather bizarrely, he said his Dad spent his life in front of computer figuring out regulations, when he was small. I am guessing his age, but I'd say that when he was small, the only computers available were mainframes from IBM and not too many pubs had them in. Maybe he's just had a hard life and he's really only 14? He's paassionate about small businesses (although not enough to leave his job working for a multinational). He was pleased that 385,000 small firms paying less rates and that Govt procurement from 6 to 10% with small businesses.

Next up was Poppy, the Barnet Green. She told us that the greatest threat is sustainability. We need a Democratic voice and the other parties in hock of big business. She was here to reassert the right of small small business to vote green to stop other parties selling out. She believes in hyper localism.
Finally we had Sarah Sackman from Labour. She comes from small business background. Her Grandfather still lives above the family biz,  which has recently  gone on line. Sarah believes there is no contradiction between wealth creation and social justice. She feels there is no justice if for millions work doesn't pay and  millions work every hour and can't pay bills.

The 1st question was about min wage & London living wage.
Luke supports London Living wage and believes it can help rebalance economy
Poppy said the Greens been pushing longer than everyone and we need a less polarised society. She observed very few jobs lost to living wage.
Sarah said that raising people out of poverty is a key priority and can be done by strengthening living wage. She advocates Tax rebates for employers who opt in to living wage. 
Richard said  there are two aspects. It affects small biz and  that regulating market creates black market. It's all down to EU that we have a bigger black market than ever.
Alasdair Hopes for an increase in minimum wage.

Q. Which of their parties policy is best and worst for Small business
Sarah said the best is to cut and freeze biz rates and the worst to increase nat min wage.
Alasdair said best is  small biz bill forcing large companies to pay SME's on time. The worst was the commitment to capital investment is too slow
Luke said the best is getting finance to SME's . Worst and the worst were policies that don't help thehigh street.
Richard said the Best was to leave the EU and cut regulation. Worst. I don't know as he waffled about nothing in particular.

Paul Shea, former owner of Tally Ho discount asked  "do candidates recognise the damage done to high street by council parking policies"
Poppy said Paul is a prized campaigner. New pay by phone policies had terrible caused decline and Barnet was the worst council in the world. Starbucks don't pay their taxes. She said it is Not ok to let high street die. She will raise rates relief, reduce vat on cooked food.

Helen Michael, Finchley traders campaigner then stood up. She explained that she'd represented traders of North Finchley. In 5 years they'd collected 20000 sigs, attended meetings but all actions had been ignored. Arrogance & ignorance of councillors was unbelievable. Traders need a helping hand. She said time for politicians to stop talking and take action.

Luke said the problem comes from lack of disclipline in Council (maybe he's a fan of 50 Shades of Grey).
Richrd said Councils don't care about small biz. He said the public don't eaither as we all shop at Tesco and Sainsbury. UKIP have policy of local referendum, where 6% of local voters can trigger a referendum to address such issues.

Xohan, a local trader asked,  do you support local council planning control
Alasair said betting shops are a scourge. Greater restrictions on betting machinesare needed. He said we need imaginative localised planning regimes.
Sarah said  it is ironic that Barnet council Tories claim to champion local business yet has facilitated the demise of local High St. She will lobby the council to bring in fair parking and that local authorities need to be able to spend tax locally

Q. Lots of SME's have problems accessing finance.
Luke. Obviously an issue. Tories have prioritised over last 5 years
Poppy. Big banks haven't lent. Greens will control banks and  Break big banks up.
Richard rather uncharitably replied "Beware green communist" (he clearly doesn't know his political hisory). He added the current govt only interested in big corporations
Alasadir said the Greens &. UKIP miss the point because the coalition has released £3 bil of financing for SME's.
Sarah said one thing we need to address is competition in lending.

Q. Which party will bring criminal prosecutions against bankers. 

Sarah said we need to send out a message that bankers that it is unacceptable to break the law.
Luke said that  vilifying banks all the time is a bad things.

Local Tory agitator Dan Hope tried to trip up Sarah Sackman with a barbed question about Sweets Way "Under what if any circumstances is it ok to squat in commercial property"
Luckily for Sarag, Richard rode to her rescue. He said it is Ok when no democratic accountability
Poppy added  that the  Unregulated. Property market cused the problem as Government has made it illegal to occupy private property.

A Question from UKIP Activist Victor Kaye followed. "The London plan for housing says 40% min for affordable housing. Lucky to see 25%"
Sarah said there was no contradiction between wealth creation and social justice and that affordable housing is too expensive. She added we need political will to build social housing.
Alasdair said the housing squeeze was hurting business as workers need  local places to live and  Direct action is OK in cases where democracy has failed, but protestors need to think of end game
Richard said the housing crisis is all the fault of immigrants.

Q. COuld the £50 billion for HS2 how could that be better spent?

Luke.  The money could be spent elsewhere, but didn't really elaborate.
Sarah. Supports HS2. And said that it is no accident that leader of Manchester council wants HS2. All this is critical infrastructure to keep the nation ticking over.
Alasadir Supports HS2 for redistribution of wealth. He commented that it is funny that the greens are against HS2 as they like public transport and hate air travel. He said he'd move the start of HS2  north ????
Richard said HS2 is complete madness aimed purely at centralising power in London and a new report by lords undermines biz case. Odd really that a candidate wants to take wealth away from his own rejoin/

Micael then finished witha 2 mins slot for each, asking

Where would you vote against your own party?
Luke said "If not in Brent North interests. He added that it is right FSB are apolitical but said we are nt facing New Labour but old Labour and his campaign needs dosh!"

Alasdair said "In the last 5 years Lib Dems stabilised the economy, will balance deficit and won't borrow as much as Labour"
Richard said . All parties support EU apart from UKIP. He added thatBritain isn't a democracy.

Poppy. All other parties  big biz parties and all support TTIP (Richard objected and said UKIP don't. The Barnet Eye helpfully suggested that UKIP & the Greens form a coalition).

Sarah said she was  Rebutting Luke. She said the tories were supposed to be a Tories a party of effort. Too many people working too hard for too little. Fundamental betrayal of citizens if top 1% are only beneficiaries.

And that folks was that!

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Rog T's Cancer Blog - How Holiday Inn used Cancer as an excuse to ruin my 20th wedding anniversary treat

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 51 years old and in October 2011 I  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 a PSA test - down to 3.5 and an MRI scan which found absolutely nothing, two more tests in 2012 were at 3.5 and 3.9, in 2013 my test was 4.0, Jan 2014 was 3.8, August 2014 was 4.0 . My latest PSA test in February 2015 it was  up to 5.5  an increase but according to my Doctor nothing to worry about, in other words the downward trend has slightly reverseed. 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?

wasn't expecting another update to this Cancer Blog series any time soon. I'd vented my spleen about how the government was starving the NHS of cash and how this was affecting patient care. I am awaiting an appointment for yet another prostate biopsy. So what could possibly go wrong......

I've not been too happy a bunny of late. I am in some ways lucky to be blessed with a partner who cares abot me. Despite having to put up with my humps, grumps, sulks and mood swings, for reasons I've never quite fathomed, she puts up with me. More than that, she tries her best to keep me happy. I am a man of few pleasures. I love music, football, wine, beer and good food. We eat out regularly, so what to do to cheer me up and raise my spirits. Well there is one other thing I quite enjoy, which de-stresses me. I regularly have massages. Now this usually elicits a snigger, but no, I am not interested in "Happy endings". I want to relax and have my many aches and pains eased. I go at least every other week and it helps.

We have our 20th wedding anniversary coming up soon. My good lady thought it might be nice to have a special day together. Being one to watch the pennies, she hunted out a rather good deal. The Holiday Inn at Kings Cross was doing a Luxury Spa package for two people for £66 including a treatment. Her plan was for us to have a nice relaxing massage, relax in the spa and then got for a pleasant meal in Exmouth Market. What could possibly go wrong?

Now as I said, I regularly have a massage. When I had my cancer diagnosis in 2011, I asked my consultant if this was a problem. His answer "You have a tiny amount of non aggressive cancerous material in your prostate, the relaxation will be beneficial". So I thought no more about it. Most reputable massage therapists will give you a health consultation form. I am always honest on this. I am usually asked about the condition. I usually explain that it is a tiny mass and I am simply on active surveillance and that is the end of the matter. I explain that massage has been recommended to assist in relaxation. Some therapists ask me to sign a personal waiver, saying that if the massage kills me, it is not their fault. I always sign these happily, as I am an adult, can make decisions and have discussed it with my doctor.

So today we turn up at the Holiday Inn in Kings Cross, having travelled to the hotel in rush hour. As usual, we get presented with a "medical form" and fill it in. We are shown in for our massage. Next thing, the therapist and the manager of the Spa come in and tell me I cannot have a massage as I have cancer. I was gobsmacked. So I asked why? "Company Policy". What, I asked? I have a massage every couple of weeks, I've a tiny amount of cancerous material and I am on active surveillance. I am an adult and I have discussed the risks with my doctor, who recommended massage for relaxation and de-stressing. I will sign a waiver. No I am told, I cannot have a massage and that is that.

I simply could not believe what I was hearing. I am an adult. If they want me to sign a waiver saying I've discussed it with them and my GP and my consultant, I will, because I have.  But the hotel will not budge. So I ask them, if it is a policy, why is there no warning on the website? Why were we not told in advance. Why do I find out now, when we are here? We have travelled to central London for a massage and now I am being kicked out. I inform the manageress that it is our 20th wedding anniversary and she is ruining it. She says "I will buy you a glass of champagne and a piece of cake whilst your wife has a massage". I am speechless. Alcohol and cake is not exactly healthy. I can have those, but not a massage.

I suggest that they look up what active surveillance means on the NHS  website and what localised Prostate cancer is. They refused to bother looking at the relevant information explaining how my stage and condition is something which most people have and don't realise. I pointed out that massage is actually recommended for stress relief for people with early satge Prostate cancer. I was told that I could come back if I got a Doctors letter (which usually costs £25).

I then informed them that as a cancer sufferer I am legally protected against discrimination. The Prostate Cancer UK website says

If you have prostate cancer then the Equality Act 2010 covers you. The Equality Act is a law that protects anyone who has, or has had, a disability - cancer is classed as a disability under this law. Even if you no longer have cancer, you are still protected against discrimination.

 But sadly they didn't want to know. They said that I was being ridiculous as I clearly wasn't disabled! By this stage I was getting quite irate. So much for a nice relaxing experience with my wife for our anniversary. There are plenty of people with a far worse disability them me, so I suppose I am blessed in some ways. But the truth is that today I was a victim of an act of illegal discrimintation for a disabling condition. The company applied a policy which refused me a service I could quite reasonably expect, with no sound scientific reason to withhold.

Holiday Inn are a large chain and there is no excuse that they do not have the resources to manage such situations. The department I was dealing with was their "health club", but the "health club" clearly has no issue with people with health issues.  A multi national company operating a facility purporting to be a "health club" cannot, in this day and age, say people who are not healthy are not welcome here.

I am pleased to report that my wife had a nice massage and in the circumstances, both her and my session costs were refunded. We had a very pleasant meal, but I am seething. A supposedly special day has been ruined and I was made to feel like a second class citizen. Whilst I should be in a chilled out and happy mood, I am sitting here bashing out a blog in a state of high agitation.

As I said to Holiday Inn, it is not reasonable to employ a blanket ban on people with cancer from having massages, regardless of stage or condition. In my case, there is no earthly reason to refuse the service and I'd happily sign a waiver. The manageress said "we don't let under 16 year olds have massages either". To me this was highly insulting, implying I am not an adult capapble of making decisions. I could drink myself into a stupor in their bar, but I can't have something in the health club, which would be beneficial.

I adjourned to the bar. When the good lady had finished she had a word with them. The manageress had clearly been doing her homework. She showed her a page on the MacMillan website saying that massage therapists treating cancer patients need to be trained. Clearly she missed the point. Firstly I am early stage and asymptomatic, no special treatment is needed. Secondly. surely here therapists should be trained anyway? If they are worried about legal implications, get a legal waiver signed.

My final comment is this. If this is the attitude Holiday Inn have towards people who are to all intents and purposes healthy, God help those who are unlucky enough to actually have something physically wrong with them.

New Brent Cross Station - nailing the lie

There is an interesting press release on the Barnet Council website

Richard Cornelius also made this lovely video.

This says

Leader of Barnet Council, Councillor Richard Cornelius has welcomed the Chancellor’s Budget commitment to support a new overground station at Brent Cross.

The station will be funded by a combination of a £97m government grant and ring fencing business rate growth from the expanded shopping centre to pay for the remainder. The new station will provide a 12 minute fast link into Kings Cross station.
Councillor Richard Cornelius said: “This is the final piece of the Brent Cross jigsaw after confirming Argent Related as key developers for Brent Cross south. We have been working very closely with the Treasury and the Mayor’s Office to make this happen.
“The Chancellor’s decision today unlocks the potential for the Brent Cross development to create up to 27,000 jobs and 7,500 new homes.
“It is very difficult to overstate the importance of this redevelopment to Barnet. The council is committed to playing an active role in the development of the south side of the site to get the best financial deal for the taxpayer and to play our part in creating a thriving London neighbourhood.”

Sadly there is plenty that this press release doesn't clarify. In fact it raises more questions than it answers.

First the station is not in Brent Cross shopping centre. It is over 1/4 of a mile from it (as the Crow flies). What provision will there be for shoppers to travers the A406 & M1 entrance to get from the shops to the station?

There is also talk that the existing station at Cricklewood may have to shut as part of the scheme. This would be a major blow to the existing shops and High Street businesses. 

Mr Cornelius talks about 27,000 jobs and 7,500 new homes. Even if every one of the new homes contributed a new member of staff to the shopping centre, that would be nearly 20,000 extra people arriving and departing at the centre every day, simply to work. This will create huge congestion on roads and already overcrowded Thameslink and Northern Line tube services. It will also drian more economic activity out of struggling High Street centres (such as Cricklewood).

As ever with developments in Barnet, little thought is given to the infrastructure needed to support these extra people. Local hospitals are already at capacity. I am under treatment for cancer at the Royal Free. They cannot currently see me as they do not have enough consultants and meeting rooms. How will they cope with thousands more people in their catchment area. As one in three people are estimated to require cancer treatment during their lifetime, where will they put these extra people, if they can't cope now?

Then there are schools. Where will the children of these "households" go? Not very far on grdilocked roads as the extra 27,000 people turn up for work?

There has been no expansion of tube lines in the Borough since the 1930's and no new rail lines since Queen Victoria reigned. We have a Victorian rail network and an Edwardian tube network in the London Borough of Barnet. In fact the network has contracted, losing a rail link from Mill Hill East to Edgware in the 1960's. No one can argue that we don't desperately need more capacity. We are building a massive new shopping centre, but the council gives not a stuff about how people will get there.

The new Brent Cross Station will only serve to make already overcrowded Thameslink trains even busier. It will do nothing to address the transport and infrastructure problems in the Borough and will hit the Cricklewood shopping centre hard.

I am also intrigued at the time Mr Cornelius quotes as the "fast train time" from Brent Cross. This implies that it will be on the semi fast stopping pattern. Currently trains from Mill Hill are incorporated onto this pattern. Will Mill Hill lose a semi fast service to accomodate the Brent Cross developers? If this is the case, then Mill Hill will become hellishly overcrowded, as it was when First Capital Connect removed these trains in 2005. A hard campaign was fought to restore some of the services. It seems that Mr Cornelius doesn't care for his Mill Hill residents in his plans. It is clear to anyone who knows the stopping patterns that if Brent Cross is to be served, another station will lose out. It is clear which one this will be.

As I said, this news station raises more questions than it answers. And none of the Tory hierarchy in Barnet will want to answer these questions before the election in May.

Monday 23 March 2015

Sign this petition to stop Britains elder citizens from freezing to death!

Every twenty minutes through the winter, an elderly person dies as a result of living in a home that just can’t keep the heat in. They are poor pensioners in homes so cold that some spend the whole day wrapped up in bed. But as this winter draws to an end, we can start to tackle this cold killer.

In Europe, only Estonia has more people living in fuel poverty than Britain -- it’s a scandal that has been ignored for too long. But with the general election just around the corner, we can finally get a commitment from all major parties to solve our cold homes crisis.

Chancellor Osborne failed to address this silent killer in his latest budget and politicians from other parties are also refusing to commit the finances that are needed.

Let’s end this apathy! When 50,000 of us sign, we’ll deliver the petition with a coalition of charities to urge our leaders to end the crisis that causes thousands of old people to die, simply because they can’t keep warm. Sign now:

Solving this crisis doesn’t require additional public finance. The money has already been pledged in the £100 billion infrastructure fund, we just need home insulation to be prioritised. But without public support, Britain’s sieve-like buildings will get ignored. It’s not a question of whether solving this crisis is possible, it’s a question of how much we care about our most vulnerable.

This isn’t just a problem of chilly toes or the odd extra sniffle: cold homes make people seriously ill and turn manageable conditions like asthma or high blood pressure into life-threatening ones. The elderly are particularly at risk as the cold exacerbates any underlying health conditions they may have.

Solving this cold homes crisis will not only save lives, it will take pressure off our already over-stretched NHS and could play a big role in helping ensure Britain cuts its carbon emissions.

Without a commitment now, we can’t be sure that politicians won’t kick this important decision into the long grass. Sign now and we’ll deliver our call to all major parties before the manifestos go to press, asking them to commit to ending the cold homes crisis:
We’re heading into a general election, the greatest show of democracy where our leaders will be listening carefully to what people want. Together we can use our voices to secure a commitment that puts those most in need first, save households money, create jobs and protect the planet. Now's our chance -- let’s take it!

Thousands of our elderly are dying as a result of living in homes that just can’t keep the heat in. Together we can call on all major political parties to commit to solving this crisis, keeping more people warm in future winters. Sign now:

For more information

It is time to end this shameful cold homes crisis (Business Green)

Spend billions insulating homes to save lives, politicians told (Telegraph)

Death rate rises as cold snap grips UK (Guardian)

Left out in the cold: The reduction in energy efficiency support for UK households (PDF)