Monday 31 December 2018

The Barnet Eye New Years message 2019

Normally I look forward to a New Year with excitement and expectation. I am naturally an optimist and I always try and see the good things. I have to say that perhaps for the first time ever, I am dreading a new year.  I feel that we've nothing to celebrate. When my mother was alive, I can remember having a conversation with her about the war. She told me that New Year 1940 was perhaps the worst. Great Britain stood alone, London was being bombed on a daily basis. There was severe rationing and as a schoolgirl she'd been evacuated to Kettering to a place that she hated. It seemed that there was no real hope, no prospect of peace or victory. By 1941 it had changed. She was back in Burnt Oak with her family, the USA and USSR had joined and the tide had turned. There was hope. But 1940 was a year when all seemed lost.

I had assumed that I'd never have  such a feeling. I know that it really is in no way comparable, but I have a truly lost feeling about our country right now. There is no leadership in either the Conservatives or Labour Party. Theresa May has shown herself to be completely inept. She has come up with a deal for Brexit that is the worst possible solution. It satisfies no one apart from big business. It will make Great Britain a semi detached satellite of the EU, with no say, tied forever into a form of serfdom. Theresa May has done this because she knows that the UK is totally unprepared for a Hard Brexit. Personally I am a remainer, but if we as a country really are set on a hard Brexit, then we should have used the two years to prepare for it. We are now totally shafted. I suspect that we'd have got a better deal if we'd said we were going to go down the hard Brexit route and waited for the EU to offer a deal to protect their own businesses, whilst getting the mechanisms in place to prepare the UK for a major shock. I think that would have been pretty disastrous but would be preferable to the mess Ms May has lumbered us with. The EU knows we are completely unprepared. If the Labour Party had a competent Leader, they may have been able to get sensible Tory remainers onside. Jeremy Corbyn is not that person. I like many of the things Jeremy Corbyn stands for, not least his view to outsourcing and his solid support for the struggles we've been having in Barnet. But Brexit is a massive threat to the UK. We need leadership that presents a coherent position. Labour hasn't got a position. Worse than that, many of the people who support Corbyn see people on the right and in the centre in their own party as class enemies. I have always believed that a house divided cannot stand and that this may save the Tories from an electoral drubbing they truly deserve.

In Barnet, we have seen the Tories defy the polls and confound expectations (their own most noticeably) to not only hold on to the Council, but to actually get a massive majority in the Council chamber. They have created an enormous mess. They clearly expected this to be dumped on a Labour administration. Sadly for them (and the rest of us), they now have to clear up their own mess. Bins are going uncollected for weeks on end across the Borough. Next year Council tax will rise by the maximum amount allowed by the rules. Our roads are crumbling, ever more shops are boarded up, independent businesses (such as Cooksleys and The Creamery in Mill Hill Broadway) are being forced out. The lack of leadership locally mirrors the national situation. When we see pothole'd streets, constant flytipping, failing bin collections it spells decline and failure. I may have been less worried if there was some sort of coherent plan for the Borough. All the administration seem interested in is a managed decline and the transformation of much of our pleasant Borough into a faceless, soulless, joyless concrete jungle.

They will of course ensure that the nicer bits, which vote staunchly blue, are spared the worst of this. We won't be seeing too many 16 storey sky scrapers in Hampstead Garden Suburb. I don't want to see the destruction of such places, but I'd like to see Burnt Oak Estate get the same love and care.

There is no such concept as civic pride in Barnet. I'd love to see the Leader of The Council touring schools to talk to pupils about the work the council has to do collecting litter etc across the Borough. He should be getting the message out to young people that every £ spent collecting litter is a £ that can't be spent on facilities in schools etc. In Mill Hill we've organised our own litter picking group. Sadly we've yet to be joined by our local Mill Hill Councillors. They are more than happy to come out to show their faces at local events, but they never pitch in and do the work to make these things happen. I was told by one local prominent Tory supporter that one of them is "very busy and sits of five committees". I was completely underwhelmed. Councillors get a minimum of £10,000 a year. Some of these committees meet only a few times a year. Most of the work is done by officers, councillors job is to provide oversight. I've attended many council meetings over the years and I have been shocked by how few questions are asked in committee. I suspect that myself, John Dix, Theresa Musgrove and Derek Dishman (The Barnet Bloggers) have asked more questions at Council meetings than any of our Tory Councillors.

To me this is appalling. If Barnet was some sort of paradise and nothing was going wrong, I suppose it could be excused. But the council is in a complete mess.

As if things couldn't be any worse, we seem to have a Mayor of London who hates Barnet. I am not entirely surprised by this given that the local Tory Council thought it was a jolly wheeze to pass a motion labelling him an enemy of the people. The result of this was entirely predictable. Sadiq Khan now has it in for Barnet and it's Tory rulers. The result for the residents of Mill Hill is likely to be that the Mayor will give the green light to some very unpopular  schemes. It really doesn't bode well for 2019.

As I survey the future, there is also the huge spectre of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. God help our children as our generation has inflicted these two on us all. Trump has zero compassion and zero care for our planet. Putin runs a superpower that is happy to send agents with nerve gas to other countries to "deal with problems". Trump has effectively handed Syria to Putin recently. This makes Russia the only major credible player in the Middle East.

 Is there any solace to be had? For me it is in music. I suspect that 2019 will be  a great year for music. Troubled times make great music. I think in such times we seek refuge in music. It will be the 40th anniversary for me of the start of my band "The False Dots" and my business Mill Hill Music Complex. We are planning some amazing events to celebrate this. It is funny, I always look at what I've written in previous years before I write this end of the year blog. I've never written one like this before.  I will end by wishing you a happy, prosperous and peaceful new year. I hope that, like my mother in 1940, the year doesn't work out quite how I feared. I will leave you with a little piece of music that I absolutely love and that I think is perhaps my New Year anthem from the False Dots. It is of course Heal Me. Please have a listen. Our community and our world is feeling rather broken. I hope 2019 is the year when we seriously start to see it be healed. The accompanying video features a few of my favourite sights from around Mill Hill. I hope you enjoy it


1 comment:

Midland Hotel Regular said...

Look on the bright side, Roger.

This year, you saved a pub.