Friday 12 October 2018

Some Friday Amusement! Barnet The Borough of Disappearing culture!

Image result for Barnet Council Culture free zone
As a diligent blogger, I have a regular reminder set on my phone to remind me to do certain vital blogging tasks on a regular basis. One of these is to check the Freedom of Information requests and responses received by Barnet Council and listed on their website. Sadly due to my ineptitude, I managed to delete this by accident and haven't checked them for a long time.

Yesterday, I realised and I had a trawl through.

One specific request caught my eye

4713196 Works of art owned by the local authority 31 August 2018 More info

The requested information
I would like to request the following information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
I understand my request will take 20 working days to process but I would be grateful if you could acknowledge receipt of my request.
Please do treat any environmental information as a request for information under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR).

I am writing to ask for details regarding local authority owned artwork. Please provide:

1) The total number of works of art owned by the local authority
2) The most up to date figures that the local authority has concerning the value of any and all works of art owned by said authority. 
3) A copy of any audits carried out concerning local authority owned art work

Please treat requests 1 and 2 as priority should there be any concerns over costs.
However I am confident that all three should prove reasonable within the guidelines set out under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

The Councils response

The borough has only a few paintings on the walls of the Town hall. (The three oils of former Alderman on the stairs) numerous photographic prints of Mayor’s and their Escorts in the corridors and prints of the Queen and Prince Philip. In the Mayor's parlour there is a landscape painting unsigned. There is a wall mounted stone carving from Montclair. These items have not been valued as the Authority believed in 2007 that the benefits of obtaining the valuation for these items would not justify the cost. They are therefore not included in the asset register 
As a dyslexic, generally I refrain from picking up people on their use of English, but there are some jobs where I think you should be able to construct a paragraph properly. I would personally take the view that if your job is writing to members of the public on behalf of the local authority, this is one such job. I'd be interested to know if the person who wrote this has a GCSE in English? They really should know that the plural of an Alderman is Aldermen. The thing that really made me chuckle was the line about the photo's of previous Mayors with escorts. For legal reasons, I can't say anymore, but this certainly made me laugh.

It is quite staggering that the Council claims it owns not a single work of art of value. My fellow Blogger Mrs Angry wrote a fascinating blog about how Capita lost "The Borough Collection".

Interestingly, back in September 1980, the former singer with my band, The False Dots, had a poem published in the Hendon Times. This was a diatribe against the tens of thousands Barnet Council had spent on "The Family of Man", a piece of modern art outside Hendon Town Hall. 

Following Pete's article there was an uproar. The then leader of Barnet Council claimed that it was money well spent and within a few years people would love it and come from around the world to see it. It got me thinking. What about La Deliverance at Henleys Corner? Who is responsible for that? Does the council consider it unworthy of insuring?

I thought I'd find out, so I sent this request to Barnet Council this morning
Dear Freedom of Information at Barnet,

Please could you clarify the following

1) The ownership of statues such as "The Family of Man" outside Hendon Town Hall, which was erected at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds by Barnet Council in 1980 and La Deliverance by Henleys Corner.

2) If Barnet Council is the owner, what valuation they have placed on these works of art.

3) Any other sculptures or works of art in public parks, spaces etc and their estimated value.

4) Any other works of art in public spaces owned by the council and recognised as items of value

Roger Tichborne

If you enjoy our Friday joke and sense of humour, please join us for The Barnet Eye 10th Birthday Party, tomorrow night (Sat 13th Nov at The Midland Hotel, Hendon, at 8pm). Live music from The False Dots and Kid Wondr. It will be a blast!

The Barnet Eye is ten years old in October


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