Monday 31 July 2017

Anti Semitism at The Sunday Times

This blog was born in 2008, following our objections to Barnet Council giving anti semites a platform, on their in house youtube channel. The Sunday Times yesterday sacked an anti semitic holocaust denier, they were employing as a columnist, following an offensive and highly anti semitic article. There are many questions, such as what was the editor, legal team etc doing letting it appear. What were they doing employing such a character. The bottom line is that these extreme and inflammatory people simply should not be given such a platform.

Of course there are many instances of repulsive discrimination in the press, another recent example being the vile headline in the Mail about a transgender admiral. Sadly in this case no sackings occurred yet. The bottom line is that these sort of article reflect the working culture of the papers and the prejudices of the owners. If you don't want such rubbish to be printed, buy another paper.

Sunday 30 July 2017

The Tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet 30/07/2017

Welcome, welcome one and all to our most popular weekly feature (most weeks!). Its that time when we delve into the wonderful and whacky world of Twitter and see what all of the local Twits have been up to. And although I often say it, this has been an absolute cracker of a week, some weeks it's a struggle to pick ten, some weeks, I struggle with who to leave out! This was deffo one of the best yet. Thanks team Barnet! Please don't forget to follow any of the Twitteratti who tickle your fancy, as then you won't need me to tell you just how wonderful they are! And without further ado...

1. We start with an absolute cracker from one of my fellow Guardian London Top bloggers. Although I've long been an admirer of his work, I didn't know that the Diamond Geezer was Burnt Oak Alumni.

2.Next up we have a rather saddening tweet from a regular of this column, Mark Aimies has been running a campaign to protect and preserve the Grade II Listed building that is The Railway in Edgware. We are supporting him as best we can

3. Regulars will know we always promote great live music. Today is no exception!

4. Seems like Dr Who has finally got his Tardis cloaking device working properly, so it can blend into a Colindale Building site

5.We've long been supporters of The Colindale Foodbank. By the way if you want to donate, there is a regular collection at The Sacred Heart Church in Mill Hill on the first Sunday of every month. The church acts as the Mill Hill drop off point, the food is collected and delivered the next day. Waitrose in Mill Hill also have a collection point

6. This is a lovely tweet. I may well do one of these walks myself very soon!

7.We always love a historical tweet from the locality. This one is superb!

8. As the son and grandson of immigrants (my Dad came to the UK in 1942 from Australia to fly bombers for the RAF, and my Grandfather came from Ireland in 1916 and was conscripted into the army, fighting in the battlefields of WW1), I was quite touched by this.

9. The Borough of Barnet has some very skilled gardeners in the locality. Loving this one!

10. This is deffo one tweeter you should follow. They will be megastars soon. What a blast was this!

That's all folk's see y'all next week!

Saturday 29 July 2017

The Saturday List #140 - My ten London spiritual homes

I believe that to be a "real Londoner", you need a Spiritual home in London. This is not a place you live, but a place that is a refuge for you, somewhere you feel comfortable and at home. Somewhere that you go out of your way to spend time in. It could be a pub, a library, a cafe, a football ground, a church, a mosque. Like your real home you can move it. You can have more than one (just like some folk have holiday homes). Here's my ten!

1. The Mill Hill Tandoori, in Mill Hill Broadway. This is my favourite restaurant in London. The food is reasonably priced and good. It is at the bottom of my road, I've been going for years. The last time I had a meal with my Dad before he had a heart attack and died was there.

2. JD's Cafe in Tudor St. Wherever I have an office, I've always had a cafe. JD's is my current one, next to my office in Blackfriars. A cup of lemon tea and sardines on toast is my dish de jour. Friendly and convenient.

3. The Harrow in Whitefriars St. As well as a cafe, I always have a pub! My current home is The Harrow. It's a fine Fullers pub, with a very friendly ambience. The food is good and it's a great place to spend a lunchtime or evening. As it's off the beaten track it doesn't get absolutely rammed like the other pubs in the area.

4. The Roundhouse. This is not so much a spiritual home as a spiritual cathedral. I am honoured to have my name on the wall, in their display about the history of punk rock, in the 1970's section. It is simply the best venue to see a band in London. As a musician, this places it at the top of my list of venues.
5.Mill Hill Music Complex. My studios and my business. I set it up to be a place that musicians could rehearse, record and feel comfortable and of all the things I've done in my life it is the thing I am proudest of.

6. Powerleague in Mill Hill. I love football. Although I'm 54 yars old and rubbish, I still play five a side twice a week with friends at Powerleague in Mill Hill. It is very much a spiritual home for me.

7. Cafe Buzz in Finchley. For all of us involved in the Barnet Blogging scene, Cafe Buzz is the epicentre of our scene. It's owner Helen Michael is our Archbishop of Canterbury. I doubt that the Barnet bloggers would have evolved to the force we've become in local politics without it. And Helen does a fine breakfast!

8. Friern Barnet People's Library. When the Tories shut the library, us the people reopened it. We stocked the shelves and we created a space where the community could thrive. Occupy took a central role, but the community made it. It was a beacon of what a community can do.

9. Vinyl Boutique records in Parkway. A love record shops and vinyl boutique is run by my old mate Boz Boorer and his missus Lyn. I love the place.

10. The Chandos Arms in Colindale. Run by Are and Emily Kollviet, a run down grot hole, avoided by most sane people has been transformed into a vibrant, friendly, award winning community pub. It is the place I most enjoy drinking beer in London and it is a graphic demonstration of how management can make a difference.

Friday 28 July 2017

The Friday Joke 28/07/2017 - Councillor Rueben Thompstone delivers a cracker

"It's the way you tell them" Rube T

Today we have a special edition of the Friday Joke. Have you ever read something and thought "what planet is he on?" for saying something so bizarrely bonkers that it's crass idiocy takes about half an hour to sink in. The Grenfell Tower has given us a graphic demonstration of what happens when incompetence infects a council. In Barnet, we have our own incompetence scandal. The childrens services department is responsible for all manner of vital services forvulnerable young people. The Councillor in charge of the committee running it, gets a £25,000 a year "special responsibility allowance". One would rather hope that the council would appoint a person of high calibre to do such an important function, wouldnt you? The Barnet Conservatives appointed Councillor Rueben Thompstone (pictured right). Does he meet this expectation?

In 2012 OFSTED rated Barnet Council safeguarding as good

In 2017 Barnet Council children's services has been rated as inadequate by OFSTED 

In response to this tragic decline, The Barnet Labour group presented a motion of no confidence in Mr Thompstone, quite reasonable in light of this tragic failure of service in his watch. In response, Mr Thompstone gave the following, quite bizarre quote to the Barnet Times, following the last minute intervention of the Mayor of Barnet to save him in the no confidence vote. His response to this attempt to hold him to account was the biggest joke in the history of the Barnet Tories (and that is saying something). He told the Barnet Times.

 "This is another example of an incompetent Labour Group sniping from the sidelines without offering any constructive alternatives.
"The fact they wanted to sack the man responsible for actually turning around our children’s services shows just how little they can be trusted to run this borough." 
The turnaround he managed from Good to Inadequate is not something any sensible person would boast about. You really couldn't make it up.

Thursday 27 July 2017

The Wednesday Poem #23 - Bacon, egg and mushrooms and a cup of tea please

Image result for bacon egg and mushrooms 

Bacon, egg and mushrooms and a cup of tea, please,
No I don't want avocado and buffalo cheese,
or espresso, frappe, latte or cappucino,
breakfast is much more than a coffee to go

Tea with milk and sugar in a nice china mug,
milk served on the side in a dainty little jug,
ketchup from a bottle not a plastic packet,
salt from a cellar not a paper sachet,

I'll just sit in the corner and read the Daily News,
skipping all the pages full of latest celeb screws,
and on the side some toast not made not with marge but butter,
banter with the waitress and the local high street nutter

Thats my fave cafe on my favourite high street,
the grub is inexpensive and the owner is sweet,
It's my guilty pleasure, the best start to my day,
but cant do it too often or my waistline will pay!

Copyright 2017 - Roger Tichborne

 A homage to the joys of your local high street cafe!

The Barnet Press closes - if you can't adapt you die

It will come as no suprise to anyone who is familair with local press that The Barnet Press has been closed by Tindle newspapers. Six journalists will lose their job and the Times group will be the only borough wide local paper. Given that many people didn't receive the paper nd over the last few years it has got considerably thinner, some will say  "so what?". For me it is a tragedy and also a classic example of a missed opportunity. The received wisdom is that "the internet" has done for local press. I believe that it is poor management and the failure to sot opportunities. The question which the press fails to answer is "why would people bother reading a paper when they can see the information on line". The answer is that they haven't really thought it through. Think about it. Every day we get leaflets through the door advertising Pizza's, window cleaners, ironing services etc. People obviously still feel that it worth putting things through the door. With a large delivery network, you'd think that the press could have made this work. Websites generate money through click throughs. On this site the adword advertising raises enough to pay for my internet subscription. Perhaps a scant reward for my hours of work, but it all helps. I do this as a very part time job. The Press had six journalists working full time. Clearly their management lacked the direction to use the paper and electronic editions to work together to produce a compelling product.

On this website, we have several features that draw lots of people to read the blog. Many people tell me that because this blog is the most frequently updated, they always read it first then click through if they see one of the other listed blogs has a new story. I am bemused that the local papers have never bothered to link to the Barnet bloggers on their website. Surely as they have several updates a day, this could be a great source of traffic for them. I am also bemused that they don't syndicate stories from us. They do occasionally nick them without accreditation, but that is actually quite rare. Another popular feature is "The Tweets of The week". This allows me to cover all manner of things which are well outside my norml domain. I'd have thought such a feature would be a complte no brainer.

They have also become very tame and boring in their coverage, especially of the council. It is no wonder that people have switched off when they ignore major stories such as the council meeting to discuss the terrible OFSTED report for Barnet childrens services.

It is one of the main business strategies of the press to combat falling sales with cost cutting, few pages and lower editorial quality. The mainstream press has given up on trying to get younger readers. The tabloids have largely simply become sounding boards for rich and often foreign owners rather odd views. The sad truth is that unless the press adapt and realise that cost cutting is not the way to reverse the trend, they will die.

Here is their final article 

By the way, we are pleased to say that the Barnet Times took our hint and have printed an article about the OFSTED report council meeting in their paper edition today.

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Whatever happened to the local papers?

Bill Montgomery
Bill Montgomery - A local press giant
In the London Borough of Barnet, there are three main local papers. There is the Times Series, The Press and The Ham and High. By clicking on these links, you can see a digital copy of the paper edition (although the Times group seems to have given up on putting all but the Barnet edition on the website since last December). At one point all of these papers have won awards for the highest quality of local journalism. For many years, Bill Montgomery used to write an award winning column on the Times, where he'd report on the shenanigans at the meetings of Barnet Council.

I originally started blogging on the Times group, before the Barnet Eye existed. I used Bill's style and column as an inspiration. I believed that the local papers in the Borough of Barnet were neglecting the goings on at the Town Hall. The public agreed with me. To my amazement, my blogs were constantly in the "most read articles" list on the website. This was an online, realtime list of the stories receiving the most hits. As my blogs were not complimentary to Barnet Council, this attracted the ire of the Conservative Councillors running the council and they pressured the editor of the Times, Phil Crowther, to get rid of my services. Rather incredibly, the pretext they used was that I had written an inflammatory blog, detailing how Barnet Council had uploaded a youtube of a BNP sympathiser spouting anti semitic bile onto the Council website as the reason. Amazingly, the council objected to my requests that such an obnoxious piece could be given a slot on the Council website and demanding its removal.

As a result, two things happened. Firstly I set up the Barnet Eye and the Barnet blogging scene was well and truly established (although to be fair, David Miller, AKA Don't Call Me Dave, had set up his own right of centre blog in response to my column, and Dan Hope had also made various efforts to cover Barnet Politics, prior to this). The other Barnet Bloggers soon followed suit, Vicki Morris was first, and Mr Reasonable, Mrs Angry and Mr Mustard soon followed, and the Barnet Bloggers became the voice of the people of Barnet. Whilst that was the good thing, the bad thing was that it seemed to mark the end of the local papers attempt to cover Barnet Politics properly. A new low occurred last week for Barnet's old fashioned press. On Tuesday, there was a meeting of the committee responsible for childrens services at Barnet Town Hall. The committee was reviewing the most serious scandal in Barnet in living memory. OFSTED have issued a report that the councils childrens services were not fit for purpose. The council were debating this. The Barnet bloggers issued a joint statement last Monday to ensure that the issue was given a serious response. However not one of the three papers carried a report in the paper version. These go to hundreds of thousands of local households. The local Conservatives crow that local residents have given them a good rating in a recent survey. I believe that the local press have been complicit in ignoring the failures of the council and not covering council meetings properly. The argument is that "people are not interested in local politics". This is nonsense. I proved this when I had a blog on the Times website and I've proved it again, with the enormous number of hits I receive on this blog, as have the other Barnet bloggers.

Time and time again, we've had huge scoops. Some of the individual blogs on this site have gone viral and had tens of thousands of direct hits. I don't make any particular efforts to publicise the blog, other than to tweet them when I post them. Anyone who looks at the blog does so because they are interested. Over two million hits says  that there is a huge interest. I believe that if the local papers carried proper local news, they'd get more readers and sell more advertising, but there is nothing worth reading in them, whilst huge stories are ignored.  I was disgusted to read on the Barnet Times paper edition on Page 11 a virtual reprint of the press release about high satisfaction in last weeks edition, whilst no mention at all was made of the torrid meeting on Tuesday, where the council had to own up that they have failed vulnerable children. At the end of the cut and paste article it says "what do you think, call our reporter Jenny Desborough". Let me tell you what I think. I think Jenny Desborough should do what local reporters such as Bill Montgomery did. Get down the town hall, get out and  about, read the Barnet Blogs, as we have the stories before anyone else. Work with us and make the local papers of Barnet win awards again. Once again, I will repeat my offer. I'll happily write a guest column or regular blog for any of the local papers that are interested. I won't charge a penny for it. It's not as if I haven't proven two million times that people are interested in what I have to say!

Monday 24 July 2017

Capitaville AKA The London Borough of Barnet

At the weekend, I had a strange experience. Long term readers will know that in 2010, I unsuccessfully stood for Council in Mill Hill ward. I camped exceedingly hard and chatted to thousands of local people. I dedicated six months to full time campaigning, to the detriment of my business. I did this to try and prevent the mess that has unfolded.

Anyway, back to Saturday. I was buying some bagels in Marks and Spencer's in Mill Hill when an old Lady approached me. 'Your the fellow from the Council aren't you?' She said. I explained that I wasn't as the people of Mill Hill hadn't elected me.Then she said 'can you explain what is going on. I've been trying to speak to the council about a problem I've got, but all I do is get put through to a Capita call centre and they haven't got a clue'. I advised that they spoke to a local councillor. She said 'I did but they just said their hands are tied as Capita do this now'. I advised that all I could do is write a blog, but she said 'ok but don't mention me or what it's about as I don't want any trouble'.

So I have. I think this bodes I'll. If such people are discontented and have twigged that it's all going wrong, then the local Conservatives who sold out to Capita may get a pasting in next years council election. But that needs the local opposition to ensure that the blame for the mess is understood by the electorate. The Barnet bloggers have been warning for years. I just hope people finally listen.

Sunday 23 July 2017

The Tweets of The Week in The London Borough of Barnet - 23/7/2017

It's Sunday so it's time for our favourite regular feature. Don't forget to follow any local tweeters who might tickle your fancy (or anything else!). Once again a rather interesting and varied selection!

1. We start in Burnt Oak. A terrible fire and a reminder of what a brave bunch the London Fire service are.

2. Nice historical tweet from LCC Municipal

3.Dipa Patel has found a rather good reason to nip up to Colindale

4. Hendon FC asked for us to retweet this. We've done one better and put it here!

5.This is a nice one. I wonder if I can get the chairman of Thameslink to open my train set!

6.Communist polt exposed in East Finchley! (sorry for the awful Daily Mailesque pun)

7.Fancy a bit of sausage! Cricklewood's your place. I've had one of these tasty bangers and can thoroughly recommend it

8. need your monobrow sorting? Seems like Edgware is the place to be

9. Our Barnet_rebel does love his sparrows!

10. And finally... Excuse the narcissism, but I am chuffed about this

That's all folks!!!!!

Saturday 22 July 2017

The Saturday list #139 - The ten biggest eyesores in The London Borough of Barnet

Sometimes I just have to laugh. There is a press release on the Barnet Council website, stating that they are taking action against residents with untidy 'eyesore' gardens. To quote "Three garden eyesores have been cleared by Barnet Council after the owners ignored repeated planning enforcement requests to take action.Teams cleared overgrown vegetation and rubbish from the gardens of three properties in the borough after the owners failed to heed official notices requiring them to clear their land."

It made me think about our locality. If the council are clearing untidy gardens and 'eyesores', where should they start? Here are my top ten eyesores in the Borough. What are yours? I was going to attach pictures, but it really was too depressing, so we've only featured our winner!

Brent Cross Shopping Centre viewed from the North Circular

1.  Brent Cross shopping centre. Inside it is a palace of retailing, but the view of it from the North Circular is one of the most ugly and depressing sights I can possily think of.

2. Mill Hill car park in Flower Lane. This never seems to have any rubbish cleared and Mill Hill
Neighbourhood forum had to organise a litter clearance. This car park earns the council more money than any other in the Borough, but unlike residents gardens, they have no interest in tidying it up.

3. The railway land at Cricklewood. A complete eyesore, with huge piles of rubbish and builders waste. This will soon be replaced by an aggregates depot, which I am sure will have all of the aesthetic charm of an aggregates depot. Here's a video of what greets commuters on a daily basis!

4. Fiveways Corner. A few years ago some money was spent tarting it up and some impressive sculptures of leopards were installed. It has since been untouched and is overgrown and depressing.

5. Burnt Oak Market. I believe a clearance is being done there, but last time I went it was a sorry sight.

6. Mill Hill Bus Station. If your idea of fun is breathing pollution in a concrete void under the Motorway, this is the spot for you! 

7. The Concourse at Grahame Park. Would you believe that an architect won an award for the Grahame Park Estate? The concourse is ugly and unwelcoming and sums up the attitude of the people who built it to the working classes who they built it for.

8. The sculpture outside Hendon Town Hall. Famously described by local punk poet Pete Conway as "ten tons of scrap metal on a pile of broken stone".  The Tory Council leader who was responsible for its erection stated that in years to come residents will come to love it. That was 37 years ago, and we all still hate it.

9. The pond at Church Farmhouse Museum. This used to be magical and beautiful. The Philistines who run the council and shut the museum have allowed it to go to rack and ruin. It is heartbreaking to see.

10.  Pentavia Retail Park. Mostly abandoned and desolate. A depressing sight to see. If the developers get their way, it will become twelve storey high tower blocks and become an even bigger eyesore.

I wonder what Barnet Council's Eyesore squad will do about these? What's your favourite eyesore in the London Borough of Barnet.

Friday 21 July 2017

The Friday Joke 21/2/2017

Image may contain: one or more people
US Healthcare debate
 It's Friday, so here's a couple of items to get you in the mood for the weekend! Have a great one
A retired older couple return to a Mercedes dealership where the salesman has just sold the car they were interested in to a beautiful, leggy, busty blonde in a mini skirt and a halter top.

The old man was visibly upset. He spoke to the salesman sharply.

"Young man, I thought you said you would hold that car till we raised the $55,000 asking price," said the older man. "Yet I just heard you closed the deal for $45,000 to the lovely young lady there."

"And if I remember right, you had insisted there was no way you could discount this model."

The salesman took a deep breath, cleared his throat and reached for a large glass of water. "Well, what can I tell you?  She had the cash ready, didn't need any financing help, and, Sir, just look at her, how could I resist?," replied the  grinning salesman sheepishly.

Just then the young woman approached the senior couple and gave the car keys to the old man...

"There you go," she said. "I told you I could get that idiot to lower the price...." "See you later, Dad, Happy Father's day."