Friday 31 March 2017

Guest Blog - The April Fools Day Massacre - By Gerrard Roots

By Gerrard Roots,
Former Curator of Church Farmhouse Museum
April Fool's Day 2017 is the sixth anniversary of the closure of Church Farmhouse Museum, in an act of cultural vandalism by Barnet's Tory Council. The Museum's collection having been hawked-off for a piitance, the Grade II* listed mid-17th Century building (the most important buidling that Barnet owns) is now leased rent-free by Middlesex University, and used as offices. (At least the University has restored this splendid building from the poor state that Barnet Council's neglect had left it in. Well the University might: Barnet gave Middlesex over half the money it claimed necessary for the restoration work!) When the lease was agreed we were told that there would be 'community use' of Church Farm. No such 'community use' has been announced, and I doubt that it ever will be. The Museum's front door once offered everyone a free way into the history of our area; now you can't get through it without a Middlesex University swipe card.

I April 2017 also marks the beginning of another act of cultural vandalism, on a grand scale, by Barnet Council. It's the day that many experienced and dedicated library workers become redundant, whilst the libraries they ran so successfully are closed for 'refurbishment'. When these re-open in September they will be libraries in name only: most of their space turned over to 'letting opportunities', open much of the time with no librarians present, or staffed only by unqualified volunteers. (The current issue of Barnet First, the Council's propaganda-sheet, celebrates unpaid library volunteers with the slogan: 'thanks for getting stuck in': pleasant reading for those librarians who have just been sacked.) Once upon a time people crossed the world to see the achievements of our area's libraries; after September they'll be unlikely to cross the street.

At the last meeting of Barnet's Children, Education, Libraries & Safeguarding Committee it was agreed to make an 'approach for the development of a strategic framework for art and culture in Barnet'. It should be a short document. Hermann Goering said that 'whenever he heard the word 'culture' he reached for his gun'. Barnet's Tories, whenever they hear the word 'culture' reach for a cruder weapon- their axe.

The Friday Joke - 31/03/2017

It's Friday. So we have a joke. After this week, we need it.

A beautiful woman loved growing tomatoes, but couldn't seem to get her tomatoes to turn red. One day, while taking a stroll, she came upon a gentleman neighbor who had the most beautiful garden full of huge red tomatoes. 

The woman asked the gentlemen, “What do you do to get your tomatoes so red?" The gentlemen responded, "Well, twice a day I stand in front of my tomato garden naked in my trench coat and flash them. My tomatoes turn red from blushing so much." Well, the woman was so impressed; she decided to try doing the same thing to her tomato garden to see if it would work. So twice a day for two weeks she flashed her garden hoping for the best. One day the gentleman was passing by and asked the woman, "By the way, how did you make out? Did your tomatoes turn red?" No", she replied, "but my cucumbers are enormous." 

Have a great weekend.

Thursday 30 March 2017

What vision of the future does Donald Trump really have

Two major events have happened this week. The British government triggered article 50. However this is a minor sideshow compared with what Donald Trump has done in the USA. His proclamation that the USA was dumping environmental controls is something that will have a massive effect on everyone. Trump claims that jobs for miners is far more important than having a planet capable of supporting life.  This week the press reported that Barnet schools re threatened by poor air quality.

We've been there with commercial interests trumping medical issues. The tobacco industry and Thalidamide are two examples. It is not only sickening it is dangerous and it is a sign of a weak and stupid leader

Wednesday 29 March 2017

The Wednesday Poem #16 - The Lords Prayer - giving thanks for the Full English Breakfast

Image result for full english breakfast
Our Father,
Who art in Sids cafe,
Hallowed be thy tastes,
When bacon comes,
they eggs be done
with mushrooms and baked beans
Give us this day our eggy bread
and forgive us our sausages 
as we forgive those who have sausages with us
Lead us not into health foods 
and deliver us from Museli
For thine is Kingdom, the power and the glory

It may or may not shock you to know that I think God loves us and wants us to enjoy our time on this Earth. I rather think he gave us the Full English Breakfast to enable us to enjoy the start of the day and get  us going in the right way . I really don't believe that the good Lord considers having a nice big fry up a sin, despite all the nonsense we read about "healthy breakfasts". In Matthews gospel 15:11-13 the Good Lord said "What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them." .I also believe you are as likely to find the Lord sitting in Sids Cafe as you are sitting in churches, mosques and synogogues , if you bother to look. These are all places we gather as a community, but no one goes to the cafe to impress their friends and family.
So enjoy your full English breakfast, but don't spend the rest of the day acting like a Twat!  And if you see someone in the cafe looking sad, or alone, make the effort to say hello to them and try and be a good neighbour. It is a matter of public record, that my favourite cafe is Cafe Buzz in North Finchley. I can thoroughly recommend Helen's fry up and regulars know how important it is for the local community. (FYI - I've given up eating meat for Lent. As you have probably guessed, I am rather missing my Saturday morning treat).

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Barnet Council needs to up its game in being Small business friendly

I got this press release from the Federation of Small Business. Sadly I was not surprised to see that Barnet did not make the list of small business friendly Boroughs. I have many friends in Camden who attest to how much better they are at helping people set up and run small businesses.  A good example is "A tale of two markets". Camden is world famous for its market stalls. These give young people a chance to start a business and try out entreprenerial skills.  Sadly in Barnet, Burnt Oak market has fallen into a shocking state of disrepair. The council has no interest at all in helping people get their own business going. They hve not made the list of best program for small business either. I am pleased to see Susan Lowe from Barnet make the list of nominees for small business champion. She does a stirling job in a less than benign environment. It emphasises what many of us who know Barnet have been saying for years. The council has some great individuals, but the organisation as a whole is a mess and doesn't serve the local people or business community well at all.
Here is the press release.
Shortlist of councils up for Small Business Friendly Borough award revealed after record number of entries

London Councils and the Federation of Small Businesses have announced the shortlist for the fourth Small Business Friendly Borough Awards, aiming to showcase councils in the capital that go the extra mile for small businesses. 
The awards, now in their fourth year, provide a platform for London’s 33 local authorities, including the City of London, to highlight their business-friendly policies and procedures.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Kingsway Hall Hotel on Thursday, March 30.
The shortlisted boroughs are:
Best All-Round Small Business Friendly Borough
Best Small Business Friendly Procurement to Support Local Trade
Croydon          (for their Value Croydon project, which was created to enable and support local SMEs to access procurement opportunities within the borough
Merton             (for their procurement for their private taxi service for children with Special Education Needs (SEN) and vulnerable adults)
Best Programme of Support for Small Business
Greenwich                              (for the Royal Greenwich E-business programme)
Hackney                                 (for the business friendship agreement “Oslo meets Hackney”)
Kingston upon Thames           (for their free 30 minute parking scheme in town centres)
Lambeth                                  (for their “Lambeth Works” affordable workspace programme for start-ups, micro and small business)
Richmond                               (for their programme of support for the borough’s town centres)
Southwark                               (for their apprenticeship support programme for SMEs)
Sutton                                      (for their Pop-Up Sutton Entrepreneurs Market)
Wandsworth                            (for Wandsworth Enterprise Week)
Westminster                            (For Westminster Enterprise Week)
Best Small Business Friendly Champion (Officer)
Susan Lowe (LB Barnet)
Jenni Asiama (LB Wandsworth)
Best Small Business Friendly Champion (Member)
Cllr Mark Watson (LB Croydon)
Cllr Sizwe James (RB Greenwich)
Cllr Ben Coleman (LB Hammersmith & Fulham)
Cllr Jack Hopkins (LB Lambeth)
A total of 38 submissions were received from 23 boroughs - a record high.
Councillor Peter John, executive member for business, skills and Brexit at London Councils, said: “Small businesses play a critical role in London’s economy. They account for almost 99% of London’s businesses and nearly half of the capital’s jobs. They are not only key wealth generators but are also an important part of their local communities.
“London boroughs play an important role supporting small businesses to access good quality business advice and support, affordable workspace, business finance and public sector procurement contracts. I look forward to seeing the winners announced and their achievements celebrated on Thursday.”
Steve Warwick, London Regional Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The awards are designed to celebrate the efforts of the Councils in supporting small businesses.  At a time when small firms are being squeezed by the cost of doing business – particularly with significant business rate increases in 2017, it is important for councils to remember that micro businesses are a vital part of London’s ecosystem.  Praising the measures which councils are implementing to reduce administrative burdens, and sharing best practice to create the right environment for micro and small firms to thrive, are critical for success.”