Friday, 18 June 2021

Chesham and Amersham by election shows that people desperately want change

 Last night we saw a truly outstanding by election result for the Lib Dems in Chesham and Amersham


I don't believe that anyone outside of the Lib Dems really saw this coming. Many Lib Dem activists from the Borough of Barnet helped out and put in some hard lifting in the constituency.  The activists Whatsapp groups were buzzing for the last two weeks, there was a real sense that there could be an upset, tempered by a natural reluctance to build hopes up too high, just to end up deflated and dejected.

Early this morning it became clear that what had been said on the doorsteps was true. The people of Chesham and Amersham were sick of being taken for granted by the Government. Perhaps the biggest issues in the constituency were related to planning and development. The governments plans to reform planning have rightly alarmed many. The feeling is that these will simply make it even easier for developers to ride roughshod over local people. Of course HS2 was a major issue in the constituency. One of the reasons I did not help out in the constituency, is that I am a strong supporter of the project. I believe the UK needs a modern and reliable transport system, which HS2 will play a big part in. I do however 100% acknowledge that the project has been mismanaged from start to finish and far more efforts should have been made to mitigate the damage on ancient woodlands and residents. As someone who has a motorway and mainline railway at the bottom of my garden, I am fully aware of the problems such things cause. But by the same token, I love the fact that there is a Thameslink service at the end of the road, that will deliver me to Central London in 16 minutes. I think the issue for areas like Chesham and Amersham is that they have all of the downside and no upside, as there will be no new fast train to Euston. When we start putting such large projects together, we do need to take more account of local communities. We need to ensure people feel that their input counts. 

This lack of respect for local communities is not just something affecting Chesham and Amersham. Here in Barnet, we've seen huge developments where the local community have been rode roughshod over. You only have to look at the impact of the Barratts development at the NIMR to see this. All sorts of conditions were put on Barratts, such as washing the wheels of vehicles to stop the spreading of dust, but this has been ignored. Barnet Council do not even bother responding anymore when these concerns are raised.


It is getting worse. Earlier this week, we detailed how our comments to the proposed development strategy for Edgware were completely dismissed and ignored. There was not even a nod to the points we raised. The Conservative adminstration in Barnet believe they are untouchable and unaccountable. They believe that they only need to pin on a blue rosette on election day and they will win. 

The truth is that they thought this in Chesham and Amersham. The pollsters never even bothered with their usual predictions. They expected the Conservatives to have a handsome majority. But hard work on the ground proved that you can make a difference.

The reason the Lib Dems won was because people wanted to be heard and they realised the Lib Dems offered the best hope of sending the government a message. In Barnet, the Labour Party has failed to listen to voters since 1998. They have run dull campaigns that have not engaged with local people. They have been quite happy to sit in safe seats, claiming their £10K allowances, whilst the Borough falls apart. They have not fought ridiculous outsourcing projects such as One Barnet. They have not done the work in the marginal seats, where you have to do the donkey work. Of course they have delivered rain forests worth of leaflets, but most of these go straight in the bin. In Mill Hill in 2014, the Lib Dems averaged 550 votes, as they didn't really bother to campaign. In 2018, we made an effort and more than doubled our vote to 1,200. Sadly we didn't have the number of activists to get around the whole ward effectively. We got to about 25% of households. I firmly believe that if we start now and we get your help, we can knock on all of the doors, several times. I believe that we can win in Mill Hill and we can win in other wards neglected by the Conservatives and Labour. 

All we need is for you to take a chance, offer to help and join us. When lockdown is done, I will be arranging a social evening at The Three Hammers pub for anyone who wants to try and make a change in Mill Hill. If you want to join us, please join the Lib Dems and watch this space. Chesham and Amersham shows that we don't need to accept the status quo and we don't need to believe the pollsters.





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Wednesday, 16 June 2021

My thoughts on the new GB News channel

 As we have a new news channel, set up by the likes of ex BBC presenter and Murdoch ally Andrew Neil and twitter has been afire with views, I thought I'd share mine.

Q. Does it bother me?

A. No, I think that so long as it tries to do it's job professionally it isn't a problem. I don't expect it to present 'alternative truth' etc. It may just have an editorial spin that is to the right of my taste. 

Q. Will I watch it?

A. Probably not. This is nothing to do with it's editorial line. It is because it won't have the resources of Sky News, BBC News, CNN or Al Jazeera, which I tend to watch as they have people on the ground so can give the best perspective. I'm not overly interested in punditry, which is what I suspect we'll get a lot of.

Q. Do I thik companies like Koppaberg are right to boycott the station?

A. They are commercial organisations and clearly believe the station is not right for their band. My studios have used radio advertising on XFM over the years. This is because it fits our demographic. A company like LBC would do so less, so we wouldn't advertise with them. I think the decisions are taken for sound commercial reasons and are sensible.

Q. Do I dislike Andrew Neill?

A. No, I used to enjoy him on This Week with Michael Portillo and Dianne Abbott. He's not a bad presenter, but I doubt that what he's curating will have the content that would tempt me away from my preferred channels. I may well have a gander at some point, if I am bored. If I am wrong and find it fascinating I will say so.

Q. Do I hope it fails?

A. I really don't care either way. The question is like asking me if  I'd like a pea canning plant in Herefordshire to fail. I wouldn't want to see people lose their job, but it would not be something I'd lose sleep over and if it does, I would assume it was because homework wasn't done by investors. If they make a shedload of money, good for them taking the chance.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Barnet Council Edgware Growth strategy consulatation - Update for June revision of document

I orginally published this blog on 25th Jan. It has been updated. I have updated the blog to reflect this (changes from original blog in red and underlined).

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Barnet Council have published a 'growth strategy' for Edgware Town centre. The Barnet Eye submitted comments in January

You can read it if you click here. If you are wondering what the purpose of this is, the original strategy  consultation document stated

Why we are consulting?

Once adopted, the SPD will provide a material consideration for the determination of planning applications within the SPD boundary.

Barnet and Harrow Councils are undertaking joint consultation on this draft SPD and welcome your input. We want to hear the views of local residents, visitors, businesses and stakeholders. It is important that residents and other interested parties have their say on the emerging plan.

Due to Covid-19 and the continuing requirements for social distancing and the limitations on groups gathering indoors, all consultation sessions will be held online.

Clearly for residents and businesses based in Edgware this is a key document as it will define the shape of your community for the future. It will have a major impact on your quality of life, your transport options and many other aspects of life in the locality. The document has several annexes, a Town centre economic strategy, a transport strategy as well as equality and sustainability appraisals. 

Personally, my view is that this whole process should be put on the backburner until the Covid 19 crisis is out of the way. There are two reasons for this. The first is that no one can really be sure what the fallout from covid means for our town centres, transport, working arrangements or living arrangements. Working from home has become the norm for office workers. Retail has seen a massive shift towards online sales. Restaurants, cinemas, pubs, live music venues etc have been shut for the best part of a year. Many thriving businesses that may have been looking to expand a year ago, are in survival mode.  For example the strategy says

1.22 To secure its status as a major town centre Edgware needs a sustainable response to a changing world. There must be compelling reasons for people to choose to visit and stay in the town centre, generating a positive and selfsustaining circle of renewal. Edgware can draw on its unique character and features while seeking new offerings to enhance the town centre’s appeal and support its businesses. Edgware has an enormous opportunity to significantly improve its leisure and cultural experience to draw more people to the town centre during the day and evening. This could mean more entertainment such as a cinema, increased eating out options, and leisure such as sports activities.

 In normal times, this paragraph would make perfect sense, but the businesses and capital required to make this happen may well not materialise. I would love to see a cinema return to Edgware, but the better chains such as the Everyman will have a lot on their plate just rebuilding their existing business and balance sheet, let alone looking at new cinemas. My view of these sort of schemes is that they are often simply designed to attract developers to build luxury flats. The 'add ons' such as cinemas, leisure space etc are often the first thing to go one developers get planning permission. You only have to look at all of the so called 'minor changes' to the Barratts NIMR scheme in Mill Hill, to see what happens in the real world once developers get their hands on a site. 

If things such as cinemas are really desired, potential operators should be invited as partners, so that a purpose built space can be provided, rather than just giving them a large chunk of space and saying 'there you go'. Through my work in music, I was a consultee on the original 'Millenium Dome' development. I stated that they should engage a world class partner like Disney to ensure it worked. They ignored my advice and the whole thing was a flop. Designed by committees, politicians and civil servants, it was dire. It then sat idle for years. Eventually a dynamic entertainment company took on the space and it is now one of the most profitable and well used venues in the world. 

Another example of wishful thinking, that has been proven to be a pipe dream is this paragraph.

1.27. Developers will be expected to support wider infrastructure investment for improved community facilities, for example in terms of schools, health and well-being and GPs surgeries. This is also the case with improving the public realm, for example with a network of cycle and pedestrian links, new public open spaces, squares, performance and event space that can provide places for pop-ups artists, community activities and leisure.

If you look at the Millbrook Park development in Mill Hill east, started ten years ago, a GP clinic was part of the scheme. That has still not been delivered, although far more flats are now being put on the site than was originally planned. There was also meant to be all sorts of other community space, virtually none of which was delivered.


The document states the following

3.10. Vacancy rates have increased significantly in recent years to 6% of all units, matching the London-wide position, but below the national average of 12%. There is a significant amount of non-retail uses within Edgware Town Centre, with extensive office space providing opportunities for professional services and business to locate there. Leisure uses are present, for example a fitness gym is located on Station Road. Diverse community uses such as community organisations, education, healthcare, religious uses, and a library, all add to the range of activities which jointly underpin the functioning and attraction of the town centre.

I doubt anyone expects this paragraph to accurately reflect the post covid world in Edgware. Non food retail businesses are going to be especially hard hit.

The document states the following in section 4.6

Provide a significant new cultural and leisure offering with attractions that make Edgware a destination location during both the daytime and evening. Potential options include a new cinema, swimming pool and a diverse range of eating-out options that reflect the multiple and distinctive cultures that thrive around Edgware. Other uses will be considered where they support the creation of a town centre fit for the future; providing a suitable variety of uses and able to adapt to future challenges. Activities, exhibitions and performances by local community and artistic groups should be encouraged to bring people together and foster a sense of pride and inclusion.

It seems to me that whenever our local planners want to sell something to locals, they mention cinemas and swimming pools. If they are serious about getting a cinema, as stated before, they should make an organisation such as Everyman a strategic partner and listen to their ideas as to what make a cinema work. I am rather bemused by their ideas that a Swimming Pool would be a good addition to Edgware Town centre. This would be far better placed by other existing sports facilities, many of which are run down and neglected in the Borough of Barnet. One of the best developments in the Borough of Barnet in recent years is the Asian food hall at Bang Bang Oriental. Despite this being a huge success, our planners do not seem to recognise that this is a great concept. It could work really well in Edgware, maybe with a Mediterreaneian theme. It is encouraging that they have at least recognised a role for the local community in the new revision.

This section also says

Retain local town centre users while seeking to draw in visitors from a wide area of North London and South Hertfordshire.

For this to be feasable, there will need to be better parking in the Town Centre. There is no tube line from South Hertfordshire. The type of people who use fancy restaurants are not usually bus users.

The section on housing is also informative

4.21. To meet the housing needs development at Edgware will: 

• Encourage residential development - the core of the centre could accommodate a substantial number of new market and affordable homes (subject to planning permission). 

• Provide for a mix of unit sizes and tenures, including affordable housing, in line with Local Plan policies. The varied requirements of both individuals and families should be accommodated where these are appropriate to create a varied and sustainable community. 

• Optimise sites to provide high quality housing in suitable locations. 

• Barnet’s emerging new Local Plan will establish a future housing capacity for the town centre.

With the massive increase in working from home, it is very likely that areas like Edgware will need a different mix of housing to the one which has emerged in the Borough over the last few years. Far fewer people will need commuter pads and more will need homes with decent work spaces. This has not been mentioned, which implies that post covid planning has not been addressed in this document.

Buried away in the section on community facilities, there is a rather ominous note that, to me at least, gives the game away, as to what the council and their development partners really want.

4.41. For the appropriate provision of community infrastructure in Edgware: 

• The need for community facilities must be assessed to ensure sufficient, suitable space for uses including education, health and community groups, with a likely increase in provision to support redevelopment of the town centre. 

• Seek opportunities for relocation to better serve the community and offer more appropriate accommodation.

• Consider the need and provision for indoor and outdoor sports facilities.  

• Ensure the community facilities support the needs, health and wellbeing of Edgware’s diverse community.

I've highlighted the giveaways. In the first bullet point, I note the use of the word 'likely' rather than 'required'. 

As to the second bullet point, this implys that community facilities will be moved to 'more appropriate accomodation. My experience of this, from the experience of Watling Boys club, was that new accomodation is offered, then once the council got its hands on the space, the offer was withdrawn.

It is good that there is a recognition that indoor and ourdoor sports facilities are required. This is a welcome addition

On the subject of local employment, the strategy states

4.43. Opportunities should be sought for new business in emerging growth sectors, for example digital, creative industries, and ICT. 

4.44. Economic dynamism and the retention of more local spending within Edgware will help to boost the town centre and support a sustainable, thriving community. More employment opportunities in the local area will mean fewer people travelling out to places of work, reducing pressure on the transport network, particularly at peak hours.

There is no mention of the major effect of covid, ie homeworking. For people working in digital and creative industries, homeworking is now the norm.

4.48 While evidence suggests that unemployment levels in Edgware have been relatively low in recent years, the long-term impact of the Coronovirus pandemic is yet to be fully assessed. The long-standing need to increase the level of skills and training for some parts of the working age population is likely to be supplemented by a requirement to assist the workforce where jobs have been lost due to Coronovirus. Young people in particular need job opportunities, both for full time roles and part-time work that fits around studying commitments.
This is the only real mention of Covid in relation to employment. As I mentioned at the start, how can you have a strategy, when the effects of a generational step change such as covid has not been assessed?

It is good to see that the needs of young people are addressed. 

There is a mention of car parking in section 7 (was previously in section 5). This demonstrates that the aspiration of attracting wealthy customers for businesses from South Hertfordshire is likely to fail. They have still failed to describe how they square the aspiration of attracting these people with reduced care parking. 

• There should be retention of some car parking for town centre users, and potentially commuters, depending on assessed need. Car parking provision must be efficient, utilising approaches such as multi-storey, basement or podium parking. The well-connected nature of the area will reduce the need for cars, particularly in new residential developments.

This clearly implies a net reduction in parking spaces.

One of our key issues is The Railway Hotel. The strategy mentions this saying

5.28. New developments must be supportive of the existing frontages on the A5/ High Street and Station Road to complement the existing Town Centre. This includes supporting the restoration of the Railway Hotel and its frontage area of hardstanding which has great potential to benefit this part of Station Road, for example through outdoor seating for a cafรฉ, restaurant or bar.

I believe there is huge potential for the space. It used to be the venue of choice for wedding parties and other family events. It is clear that for a 'Big Pub' to work, innovation is needed. We'd like to see the council enter a partnership with the owners to encourage a MicroBrewery to take over the space, using the upstairs space for community space and wedding venue usage. If Edgware had its own microbrewery, we believe this would put the area on the map for night time and leisure. The proximity of Barnet FC would make this a popular stop off point. Real Ale drinkers are well behaved and travel to try good beers. For this to work, the council will need to be far more proactive with regards to engagements with owners of such sites. The owners have clearly bought the site to redevelop. As the site is grade II listed, it must be made clear to them that this will not happen and if anything happens to the building, they will need to rebuild it in its current form. That will encourage them to do the right thing.

There are some interesting comments regarding signage in section 6.4. 

6.5 Shop signage is often too large and ill-matched with adjacent shops, visually dominating the frontages, giving an overall disjointed appearance and covering architectural features that would otherwise add character.

I agree that this is something that needs to be addressed. The Mill Hill Neighbourhood Forum tried to address this in Salcombe Gardens securing a grant for new signage. Sadly, they did not engage anyone who understoof good design and by making all the signage the same colour and design, the parade looks drably reminiscent of an East German suburb. Good signage is diverse and tasteful. Planning guidelines need to be agreed and enforced, that dictate scale and size, but are not too prescriptive.

Another section that does not reflect the new reality is section seven. This is especially true on the section about the tube.

7.6. Edgware tube station operates as an integrated interchange with the adjacent bus station with one third of tube station users arriving by bus during the morning peak. Whilst busy at peak times, and despite recent growth in entry/exit flows, the station currently operates within capacity. The trains, however, are highly congested during peak hours towards/ from central London. The station forecourt prioritises vehicles, but this does not prevent congestion and queuing onto Station Road during the peak period.
Again, we have no idea whether any of this will be true post lockdown, as we see how many people return to their former London offices.

I agree with the Council that we need a plan. I agree that there are many issues that need addressing. I agree that we need to see modal change. I agree with many of the aspirations here. But I think the council should pause this process until we can ascertain the post covid landscape. That does not mean allowing assets like the Railway Hotel to deteriorate further. These should be addressed. But how can a council have proper engagement on such an issue with Zoom meetings?  We doubt that this is properly inclusive. Many residents will not have the ability to join these. Proper public meetings are required for such important subjects, with online access for those who can't attend in person. We believe the council will leave itself open to Judicial Review if they proceed at this time in this manner.

The council response to my comments is documented in the responses - Response 10.  You can read all responses if you CLICK HERE

The Council has continued to progress planning document during the Covid-19 restrictions. The impact of Covid-19 on the town centre is acknowledged in the SPD and approaches to recovery are included. The need for Edgware to provide a much-improved leisure and cultural offer is vital to renewal of the Town Centre, along with high-quality community facilities. The Railway Hotel is a distinctive local landmark building that the SPD fully supports bringing back into a sustainably use that is beneficial to the community. A mix of housing sizes and tenures will support a diverse and family-friendly town centre. The councils carried out extensive public consultation on the SPD. Online Zoom sessions were well attended, with high levels of feedback. 

I do wonder why I bother sometimes. You spend hours drafting valid comments and they don't even seem to bother reading them.

Local Resident Mark Amies made a video detailing why this consultation is needed last January. Much has changed since then. We want this job done, but it must be done properly with full community involvement

Monday, 14 June 2021

Grenfell fourth anniversary remembered - A poem for the victims and the #Endourcladdingscandal victims

I am almost exhausted of things to say about Grenfell, the Cladding Scandal, the Fire Safety Scandal etc. The tragedy was avoidable, it should never have happened. People should not be still living in Roman Candle style buildings clad in flammable material. 

All I can do as an artist, is use words. Here is a poem I wrote. I just wish I could do more.

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The Roman Candle (#Endourfiresafetyscandal)


On the 14th of June we heard the news       

that Grenfell had gone up in smoke         

72 died, hundreds were homeless and       

The system of justice is broke                       


Living in a Roman Candle

Time to end the Cladding Scandal

Living in a Roman Candle

It proves that the system is broke


Time to end the cladding scandal

We don’t want a Roman candle

Time to end the cladding Scandal

People need safe homes

-- 

I hereby Authorise this poem for free usage by anyone associated with the Justice for Grenfell campaign and the #Endthe claddingscandal campaign

Copyright 2021 Roger Tichborne

Sunday, 13 June 2021

The Tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 13 June 2021

 Here it is again, our best loved regular feature. What have the Twits of Barnet been up to?

1. Burnt Oak had a most esteemed visitor last Sunday. Congratulations to the young people making their confirmation.


2. And well done to Rishikesh and the team.


3. Remembering Cricklewoods lovely Lyndsey De Paul


4. As ever wonderful pictures from Samuel Levy


5. How could we possibly leave this tweet out?


6. I'm sure we'll all echo this tweet


7. We love an old map, this is amazing


8. Nice picture of St Andrews in Totteridge


9. Did you get to see the eclipse this week? The pupils at Mill Hill School did.


10. A nice little bit of local music history!



That's all folks


Saturday, 12 June 2021

The Saturday list #310 - Ten things that should be brought back

 Every Saturday morning on BBC Radio London, David and Carrie grant have a 'throw out' where they ask listeners a couple of questions. Today one of of the questions was "who or what needs to be brought back"? 

This got me thinking. My initial answer was Northern Soul. As it's Saturday and we all love a boogie on a Saturday, here is why - we do need more music like this to be made!


But as I walked the dogs over Mill Hill Park, I started to think of other things that we need to bring back. Here is my list.

1. Strawberry cream tea at The Old Forge. The Old forge at the bottom of Highwood Hill used to be a cafe. In the summer, they would have a Strawberry Fayre on the little green in front of it. It was glorious. That has to be brought back.

2. St Josephs College Garden Fete. My brother Laurie spent eight years studying to become a Priest with the Mill Hill Missionary Society, before he discovered girls and decided that being a welder would be more fun. The society was based at St Josephs college. Every year the society would have an open day and garden fete to raise funds to maintain the building and grounds. There was a working farm on the site, run by Brother Herman, a large Dutchman. The chance to see the pigs and cows was a rare treat and the fete in the beautiful grounds was amazing. My parents were on the committee. Depsite the fact that College was a Roman Catholic institute, the whole community supported it. The Lady who counted the takings was a Methodist, my mums main helper was a good friend who Jewish lady. I was chatting to her one day and she said "I love to see the statue on the College from my window, it's important to keep such amazing landmarks" (she lived in The Reddings). She also told me that St Joseph was the only Catholic saint who wasn't a Christian, he was a devout Jew and a very decent man, who brought up a child that wasn't his own. The fete was always great fun. The college is now residential accomodation and the farm is long gone. It would be nice if the residents held a fete occasionally though, so that all Mill Hill could appreciate the grounds. I am sure there are many great charities that they could support.

3. The Model Shop.  H.A. Blunt and Sons on Mill Hill Broadway by Mill Hill Circus Roundabout was an amazing shop. As a kid I bought Airfix models, train sets, Balsa wood gliders, Matchbox cars etc there. It was a wonderful place. In the 60's, you could put a penny in a machine and a train would do a couple of circuits of the track in the window. As a small boy, this was a rare treat. My mother, being a tight wad would meticulously avoid passing the shop, as she resented paying out to watch a train go round. But my brothers would take me. When the Blunt brothers got too old to run the shop, it sadly closed, despite being profitable. If I won the lottery, I'd deffo bring it back. I'm sure there is a market for a high end toy shop of that ilk. 


4. Comfy seats on Thameslink. I've been travelling on trains from Mill Hill Broadway since the 1960's. The first train I remember getting from St Pancras to Mill Hill was what I'd call a proper train, with compartments in teh carriages and was pulled by a proper locomotive. It was first stop Mill Hill, which I thought signified the importance of Mill Hill. I imagined it went to Manchester, but probably only went to Luton or Bedford. There was a picture of a stag on the glen in Scotland on the wall of the wooden partition.. It seemed to be the proper way to travel. Being a small child, I don't know if it was a special service or that was a regular event back then. It made a huge impression. After that, the journeys were on rattly old diesel multiple units. They were not quite as comfy as the 'proper train' but you could sit at the front and watch as the train went through the Belsize tunnel. It was always exciting seeing the light appear. When electric trains were brought in, during the early eighties, this joy disappeared (although I'd outgrown the excitement). By the late 1980's Thameslink had opened and new electric trains were brought in. There were replaced a few years ago by the new '700' stock. These are famous for their notoriously uncomfy seats. It occurred to me that every generation of train had become less glamourous and less comfy. The plus size is the service is more frequent and the trains have working toilets, but I do wish they'd give passenger comfort a thought and bring back comfy seats.

5. Decent tea in  cafe's. You cannot get a proper cup of tea in a cafe anymore. You get all manner of poncy muck, often with lukewarm water. I want my tea to taste of tea and be dark brown. I want it served in a mug, preferably chipped and I don't want a mint with it. Last week I had to go to UCH for an MRI, between St Pancras and the hospital, there was not a single proper, traditional greasy spoon cafe.  I miss them.

6.  Proper pancake rolls in Chinese restaurants. My favourite treat in a chinese takeaway was a pankake roll. In Mill Hill we had a succession of Chinese takeaways on Station Road, the first was the New China Garden. This was replaced by The Moon House, then Hee's. They did proper pancake rolls. These are big, they have beansprouts, bits of meat and prawns and are heated to ten million degrees, so you always burn your tongue on them. The art of making such things seems to have disappeared. They are small, they have stuff like carrots in them and taste of nothing. I say 'bring back the proper pancake roll'.

7. Sexy looking cars. My Dad ran a crash repair business. I was raised around motors. I loved the classic designed 1960's look of cars such as the E Type Jag, The Aston Martin DB6, the Mini, the Morris Minor, the VW Beetle, The Mk1 Ford Capri and the Humber Hawk. Now all of the cars are 'ergonomically designed in a wind tunnell' and all look more or less the same. They don't have sexy curves. They are bigger and as ugly as sin. Bring back sexy looking cars!

8. Proper Film Stars.  It seems to me that all the glamour has gone from Hollywood. I was trying to think of my absolute icon from film. To me it is Marylin Monroe and Steve McQueen. When they were on screen, you simply couldn't take your eyes off them. A poster of them would grace any bedroom wall. We just don't have anyone with that impossible glamour these days. Bring it back!

9. The Latin Mass. I'm a Roman Catholic. When I was a kid, Sunday mass was said in Latin. I didn't understand a word. The creed and the Our Father were sung. There were candles and incense. It felt other worldly and holy. At some point, it was decided that we should have mass in English. It has never been the same. It doesn't elevate me to the place that the Latin version did. Is it better that people know what the bloke on the alter is saying? I am really not sure at all. Bring back the latin mass. 

10. Proper baked beans. A couple of years ago, we went to Australia and stayed in an Air BNB for  a few days. I bought some of the supermarket own brand beans for a fry up. When I tasted them, I was shocked. They tasted like beans used to taste. I realised that they've changed the recipe in the UK. They now taste like muck. Bring back proper baked beans. 




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Friday, 11 June 2021

The Friday Joke - Football in Heaven

For those of us who like a bit of Footie, the excitement is building with the start of the Euro 2020 Championships (only a year late), I thought I'd tell my favourite football joke.

Bert and Stan, are sitting on a park bench feeding pigeons and talking about Football. Bert turns to Stan and asks, "Do you think there's Football in Heaven?"

Stan thinks about it for a minute and replies, "I dunno. But let's make a deal -- if I die first, I'll come back and tell you if there's Football in Heaven, and if you die first, you do the same."
They shake on it and sadly, a few months later, Bert gets hit by a bus outside TESCO's and passes on. 

Soon afterward, Stan sits in the park feeding the pigeons by himself and hears a voice whisper, "Stan... Stan... ."
Stan responds, "Bert! Is that you?"
"Yes it is, Stan," whispers Bert's ghost.
Stan, still amazed, asks, "So, is there Football in Heaven?"
"Well," says Bert, "I've got good news and bad news."
"Gimme the good news first," says Stan.
Bert says, "Well, there is Football in Heaven."
Stan says, "That's great! What news could be bad enough to ruin that?"
Bert sighs and whispers, "You're in goal on Friday
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 10 June 2021

A virtual tour of the West London Orbital Railway


I know many readers of the Barnet Eye are interested in Transport issues. Did you know that a new Railway line is being planned from Hendon to Hounslow? It will link with HS2 at Old Oak Common and will slash journey times across West London, with a journey taking 38 minutes. If you are interested, here is a rather interesting presentation detailing the route and the benefits. I am pleased to report that Barnet Council is fully supportive of the scheme, which hopes to see trains running by the end of the decade.

The Barnet Eye has supported this scheme since its inception and we hope that the government looks beyond the short term and plans for the future.

The track is in place, much of it over little used freight transfer lines. The WLO would also see an upgrade to this capacity, allowing more Lorries to be removed from the roads.

It will serve three stations in the Borough, Hendon, Brent Cross West and Cricklewood. 

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Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Ollie Robinson and the toxic time capsule

I have very mixed feelings about the furore surrounding Ollie Robinson. As someone who grew up in the pre social media era, there is no chance of any embarrassing tweets or Facebook posts emerging. As a paid up member of Rock Against Racism, I can see zero possibility of me posting anything of such a nature had there been such an opportunity. I've always abhorred such mindless behavious. Rock Against Racism was founded when Eric Clapton made blatently racist comments at a gig in Birmingham. New Wave and Punk musicians, who were generally cut from a very different cloth reacted furiously and Rock Against Racism was born. We organised gigs, badges were made and a sister movement, the Anti Nazi League was formed. Free gigs were held, with musicians such as The Clash, Aswad, Elvis Costello, Misty in Roots and The Ruts performing. I was proud of the musicians I supported and the stance they took.

The other love of my life is football. In the 1970's there were very few black footballers. The terraces were hotbeds of racism, something I always found uncomfortable. When Manchester City recruited the brilliant black goalkeeper Alex Williams, I was shocked to see him play at Fulham, supposedly a friendly family club, and get pelted with bananas and subjected to racist chants. As a goalkeeper, Williams was uniquely exposed. He was a strong character and was quite prepared to give as good as he got with the crowd. Once they realised that they wouldn't win they shut up. It made me proud of Alex Williams.  At the time there was no taking the knee or players walking off at the first whiff of a racist chant. The likes of John Barnes, Lawrie Cunningham, Cyril Regis and Williams were expected to 'man up and take it' and 'do their talking on the pitch'. For the stronger ones, I assumed they won. A few of years ago I went to see 'an evening with John Barnes'. He was clearly a strong character who survived with flying colours, but we don't hear from those who were driven out. We never hear the of the damage.

As for cricket. I was never a big fan. My Dad was an excellent cricketer, who told me he may have played professionally had it not been for the second world war. He told me that English Cricket was full of ingrained racism and snobbery when he started playing locally after the war. He told tales of how an Indian batsman at his club never won player of the year despite easily topping the batting averages for the club and helping them win trophies. As an Aussie, my Dad believed in meritocricy. His Indian friend told him 'I play because I love the game, not because I love these idiots'. Things have changed since 1946, when my father was playing. Nowadays local cricket is completely multi racial and no one would tolerate such things. As to the national team, in 1976, South African cricketer Tony Greig was appointed England captain as a test series against The West Indies loomed. The West Indies had an amazing team, but Greig vowed on National TV to make them 'grovel'. My Dad was enraged. He didn't like the England team at the best of time, but put a weeks wages on the Windies as soon as he heard. He said that the the likes of Sir Viv Richards needed no incentive to win, but as Greig  had said he'd make them grovel and in the minds of the West Indies, he was a figurehead for the Aparthied regime, they would make sure that England were stuffed 3-0. 

Ezeikiel realeased "Who's grovelling now" to celebrate


My Dad banked some fat winnings. He told us a story that makes me laugh to this day. When he was in the Royal Australian Air Force, he was drafted into a cricket team of Aussie airmen to play the Royal Navy. I am not sure of his role, but Prince Phillip, then not a Royal and just a naval officer was present. The game was meant to be an excuse to have some fun and a few drinks. The Aussies had some top class cricketers in the team. After a couple of overs, they'd taken a few wickets. Prince Phillip shouted "Come on lads, you can't let these convicts beat you". This was a red rag to a bull. The Aussies stepped up a notch and absolutely stuffed the Navy. After the game, Prince Phillip, realising his faux pas, approached the Aussie captain, in front of the team and said "Chaps, I am sorry if I upset you". The Captain shot back "Upset us? mate you can be our mascot". In short, such insults fired them up and my Dad knew the Windies would react in the same way.

But we thought that was all behind us. You'd think that people would learn. Which brings us to Ollie Robinson. The Prime Minister and the Culture secretary have said "He did it a long time ago and he's apologised". Does this wash? There are two things to consider. At that age I was quite aware of what racism was. As for sexism, I was brought up to be respectful. However, that was an accident of fate. My family was one where we learned respect from a young age. Is it an excuse if someone is brought up in a different environment? Do racists and sexists change their spots? As this was ten years ago, and Mr Robinson was just becoming an adult when he posted them, whereas he has lived a third more of his life now, he will have played cricket with all manner of people and had far more life experience, there are circumstances where he should be given the benefit of the doubt. 

I was clearing out some rubbish a few years ago. I found a box marked '1980 time capsule - Do not open until 2012'. It was a box of letters from friends. I have to be honest that I couldn't remember it, but for my  18th birthday, I'd asked friends to put something in an envelope, with plans to meet on my birthday in 2012 when I was 50, to see what we made of it all. Sadly a couple of friends are no longer around, a couple I've lost contact with. The first couple were pretty banal and they clearly hadn't bothered". The Third was a list of predictions of what the world would be like, all hilariously wrong. The fourth shocked me. It was a mate who'd clearly put a lot of thought into it. It was a list of all the girls we knew, with lewd comments and predictions for where life would take them. It was blatently sexist, racist and anti semitic. What especially shocked me was that I'd never have associated that person with those comments. It was clearly meant as humour, but was quite revolting. I still see the chap and he has a very responsible job. For a few moments, I toyed with the idea of sharing it with him. I then thought about it and thought 'what is the point, he'll be really embarrassed' so I binned it. 

A few months later, I met up with a few mates and he was there. I mentioned that I'd found the box. He turned pale and said 'did you open mine?'. I said that I had. He was clearly embarrassed and uncomfortable. He confessed that he'd done it as a joke, but had been terrified that I'd open it and share it with one of the girls, who he subsequently dated. I'd forgotten he'd gone out with her, but he said that he'd been terrified of the list emerging at some point. 

It is clear to me that 'the list' was a bad attempt at macho bravado, gone wrong by an immature boy, who had grown up. Which made me think of Ollie Robinson. As a member of the England Cricket team, where does this go? A simple apology is not enough. He is representing the country. If he wants to do this, he needs to show that he is a different man. That should be easy if it is true. Marcus Rashford has shown us the power of sports people making a stand. Ollie Robinson should not hide. He should come out, be honest and explain whyt he did it and why we should believe he's changed. He should commit to doing something for our community to demonstrate that he cares. What? That is up to him. I don't judge my friend by his juvenile mistake. He's shown that it does not represent the man now (or even a couple of years after he wrote it). Ollie Robinson needs to prove to his audience the same thing.  

What worries me slightly is that he's not had a bunch of his peers, who know him well, coming out in support. If black team mates and female friends had come out and said 'This is not the Ollie we know and he's profusely privately apologised to us for his past misdemeanours' I'd believe him. When we see players like Monty Panasar unable to support him, you do worry. I agree with what Monty said
“I think Ollie Robinson should take ownership of this and actually tell the pubic, tell us what you’ve learnt as a 27-year-old man now from when you were 18."
That is really the crux of the matter. As for Boris, given his form with racist comments, a period of silence would be welcome. God only knows what Boris would have tweeted when he was 18. 


Tuesday, 8 June 2021

How the Barnet Council One Barnet project with Capita is unravelling and no one can hold the Council to account

Tonight, Barnet Council will start to bring several key services in house, following the failure of the One Barnet program to deliver cost savings and better services. Long time readers will know of the extraordinary efforts I put in to trying to persuade the Council not to outsource swathes of the council to Capita. I made films, videos and wrote over 3 million words on the subject. All cross referenced and fully evidenced.

How did the local Tories react? Back in 2014, the Barnet Conservatives posted a blog on their website, supposedly debunking claims made in a video I produced. Sadly they removed the blog once I exposed it for the shower of **** that it was. 

I posted a blog which effectively debunked all of their claims, exposing them for what they were. It is worth a look.

Barnet Council recently commissioned Grant Thornton (a firm of auditors) to produce a "Market Insights" report. On page four, this report states

“Historically procurement has been ideologically driven and highly political”

 Today the council will debate bringing some services back in house. These are detailed in this chart


It is clear to all that One Barnet has been a failure and has not worked. The savings have not happened and it has caused huge problems for Barnet Council. 

Section 1.5 of the council report states
The council’s approach to the Review aligns with this, in that it is based on a pragmatic, service by service review, with the focus being on “what is the right approach for that service to achieve the overarching priority of ensuring that Barnet residents receive the best possible services that we can afford and at a competitive price. 
This can only mean one thing. That ever since Richard Cornelius signed the contract, we have definetly not been getting the best possible services for Procurement, Regeneration and Regulatory services. Furthermore, despite an expensive review, some services require a further review. It seems to me that Barnet Council and the Tory Councillors running it cannot bring themselves to tell us the truth. With regards to Procurement they say
The Procurement service has generally performed reasonably well throughout the life of the contract, but the recent limited assurance audit report has highlighted the extent to which the council and the service are not fully integrated. 
How can a service be performing well if it has limited assurance and the council and the service are no longer fully integrated? I will leave it to you to decide if the council are being fully open and honest here.

As for Accounts Payable and HR.

These services are now generally performing well and meeting KPIs, despite having suffered from poor performance in the past. The performance of both services has benefited from the in-sourcing of the more strategic elements of HR and Finance in 2019, in that there is a much stronger client/contractor relationship and increased knowledge of the Integra and Core HR systems within the council
Basically, the service wasn't working properly until the key parts were insourced. 

Also under review are Estates#

The Report states

Capita regards this as a core competency, where there is scope for them to add value and bring further investment and innovation in some areas.

Sounds great, doesn't it. However they've been running them for years and the report states.

Overall, the Estates function has had a number of problems over many years, which go back to before the CSG contract was put in place. Repeated efforts to resolve this over the years have made some improvements, but the service is not yet consistently performing to the required standard.

In other words, we've paid Capita a shedload of money to sort it out and it still isn't performing consistently well. But hey, ho lets give them more money as they are 'experts in the field'. 

Regulatory Services and regeneration

The council has many enforcement powers and responsibilities, with the various teams providing a street-based presence across the Borough during the working week, in the evenings and at weekends. A wider review of enforcement activity has highlighted that the different services and teams do not always work seamlessly together, which can lead to delays in response times. There is significant potential for greater integration and more of a “one team” approach across enforcement, which would align processes and procedures to improve outcomes for residents and visitors.

As ever, with Barnet Council, the devil is in the detail. The service is returning because it basically isn't working very well. The report continues

Whilst Capita do operate elsewhere in the Regulatory Services and Regeneration sphere, these are primarily people-based services and it is considered that there is limited scope for Capita’s expertise to bring further opportunities for investment and innovation.

You would think they would have figured this out before they gave them the contract all those years ago. If you wondered why things aren't regulated properly in Barnet, now you know.


Highways

Well if you think Barnet Council's roads are in great shape, you clearly don't live in my road. It is another area where the council has been forced to admit that One Barnet and Capita have been a complete failure

Through the work that has taken place to date, it has become clear to both parties that the current contractual arrangements do not provide an optimal solution for this service. In particular, the arrangements for commissioning works that are not included in the core contract are too complicated to satisfy either party. 

You would think that Barnet Council would have done due diligence that Capita would have the expertise to manage complex matters. 

Of course being Barnet, the council are keen absolve themselves of blame for cocking this up. Section 2.2 in the reasons for recommendations states

Members are asked to note that these proposals are intended to secure the most appropriate delivery model for each service going forward, recognising that circumstances have changed since the contracts were first entered into. They do not imply any judgement on the relative value of the services in each category, nor on the staff who deliver them
Apparently the 'circumstances have changed since the contracts were first entered into'. So  delivering Highways has suddenly become massively more complicated, Capita have now become unable to deliver improvements that in theory they are competent in. A strange situation. 

In years gone by, I'd have taken myself up to the Town Hall to listen to the debate and ask public questions, but now you are only allowed to ask one. The Tories have a massive majority on Council. There is no point wasting an evening watching a bunch of nodding dogs. I wrote to the Local Government Secretary to ask him to look at the arrangements in Barnet in 2019. I never got a reply.

 So if you really want to know whether you can trust the Barnet Conservatives, here is the blog from 2014 reproduced in all its glory. In light of the passages from their own report and website above, you may well find these interesting.

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Exposing the porkies of the Barneconservatives.com website - my attention was drawn to this article today. In all the excitement, I'd completely missed it. Anyway here is what they say and here is the truth. As I made the video and the Conservatives are calling me a liar, I suppose I am honour bound to respond

http://www.barnetconservatives.com/blog/2014/5/13/fact-check-how-true-are-claims-in-recent-anti-tory-election.html

Here's what they say, with my comments in red italics

Fact check: How true are claims in recent 'anti-Tory' election video?
Yesterday twitter was saturated with spam tweets from Barnet's 'anti-Tory' alliance activists promoting the video they clearly hope will encourage people not to vote Conservative on May 22nd. Using hashtags #May22 #VoteABC (Abbreviation of BAPS' 'vote Anyone but Conservative' election slogan they repeatedly and robotically reproduced parts of the lyrics of the Roger Tichborne produced and published 'movie'.
Below is a sample of the twitter storm stirred up by the 'anti-Tory' alliance including BAPS, Barnet TUC, Mr John James Sullivan, Mrs Barbara Jacobson (BAPS' supremo) and Mr Ron Cohen (BAPS' publicity Officer)
(As the video does not contain a non party campaigner election imprint we have been advised not to place a link or promote it on our website by legal advisors)
The movie claims that the Council has lied but how true are the claims made in their election video? Fact check set too tast. Let's go through the lyrics.
Claim one - 00:04 Richard Cornelius, "The man who signed the contract"
Fact check: No, he didn't…
 
This is a blatent lie. Barnet Council released a picture of him signing the contract, which we had some fun with in this blog http://barneteye.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/richard-cornelius-signs-one-barnet.html 
 
Why do they now deny it? This is a whopper (apologies to burger king)
 
 
Claim two - 00:10 'In Barnet Capita have taken control…'
Fact check - The Council is run by Councillors. One venture is pure outsourcing but the second is a joint venture. Many services are still run directly by the Council.
 
This is pure spin by the Barnet Conservatives. Huge swathes of council services and the decisions to how they are run are made by Capita. Even planning is now under the control of Capita. Several Tory councillors have told me that they are disturbed by the removal of democratic control. (2021 Update - I have been completely vindicated by events)
 
Claim three - 00:13 Pictures of a coffin 'Death of Democracy'
Fact check - We're in the middle of a lively election where Labour are keen to win. Why would they bother if there was no point? What is the obsession with coffins, death and death imagery btw?
 
Labour were keen to win because they believed they could do a better job than the Tories. They believed they could make a difference. 
 
Claim four - 01:16 'The contract was hidden'
Fact check - The huge contract was published, with some redactions, by the Council. This was welcomed by the 'anti-Tory' bloggers who regard is as very useful.
 
This again is spin. The contract was only published after it was signed. When the decisions were being made it was well and truly hidden, even councillors were only allowed to see it under strict supervision and for a very limited time. This is completely anti democratic.
 
Claim five - 01.21 The contracts were 'unread by the Council before they chose to sign'
Fact check - On one hand the Council is lambasted for spending so much on lawyers to go through the contracts with a fine tooth comb now the same people accuse them of not reading it. Many Councillors including prominent Labour ones, didn't read the whole legalese document.
 
Again the BarnetConservatives are spinning. We expect our councillors to read important documents before they sign them. They did not read the contract. (2021 Update - Look where this lack of Scrutiny has landed us)
 
 
Claim six - 01:54 OneBarnet 'has lead to widespread discontent'
Fact check - The 'anti-Tory' alliance of Barnet Alliance for Public Services backed by the Trades Unions can scarcely pull together a protest of more than 100 people out of 300,000 in Barnet on this matter. Not even the Labour Party are committed to scrapping OneBarnet or not delivering more outsourcing.
 
This is yet another sad bit of spin by the Barnet Conservatives. Over 500 people in Barnet watched screenings of Barnet - The Billion Pound Gamble. Over 400 attended a march in the snow against the protest on a bitterly cold day in 2013 from Finchley Central to Friern Barnet. There have been many large demonstrations, a fact overlooked by this rather dodgy website.
 
Claim seven - 02:01 'No questions are allowed in Capitaville'
Fact check - Pure doublespeak? BAPS activists and bloggers regularly ask hundreds of public questions at Council meetings and get detailed responses. They then get to ask further supplementary questions taking up 30 minutes at Committee meetings.
 
Again this is spin. The Tory administration specifically banned discussion of One Barnet at local Neighbourhood forum meetings, In a democracy, discussion should not be banned. (2021 Update - Now residents are restricted to one question. This makes it impossible for residents to hold the council accountable in complex matters)
 
Claim eight - 02:27 The disabled are a 'market place commodity' seen as a source of profit
Fact check - Pretty distasteful claim of hard working carers. So where do the millions and millions of pounds spent supporting the vulnerable go?
 
FACT -  Barnet Council set up Your Choice Barnet as a private company to run care for the disabled. I may be a fool but I thought the reason for setting up a company was to make a profit. Your Choice Barnet has no "not for profit" covenants in it. I suppose the Barnetonservatives could claim that it makes a loss, but this is purely down to their incompetence when they set it up.

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And if you want to watch the video that caused this rant, here it is


Monday, 7 June 2021

Environment Monday - Electric scooters - Good or bad?

 Electric scooters are a hot topic right now, as London sees the first trial rental scheme. Many do not realise that they are not currently legal and can only lawfully be ridden on private land. On the walk from my house to work, I saw four of them. All were being ridden on the pavement. FOr the hire scheme they are only allowed on the road. So lets look at the arguments

1. Are they safe?

With any form of transport, there is always a degree of risk. Some models can do up to 40mph. If you fall off such a vehicle at this speed, then it is most likely you will sustain a serious injury. If you collide with a person, you will cause them a serious injury. At the 12.5mph speed which seems likely to be the limit should they become legal, there is still the risk of injury, but it is significantly less. The practice of riding scooters on the pavement seems to me to present a risk to pedestrians and riders. People on pavements are not expecting fast moving vehicles. On the roads, the riders are at a risk from cars, especially badly driven ones, but the risk is no greater than for those on bicycles. If we accept the risk for bicycles, there is no reason to ban electric scooters with speed limiters from roads. I would like to see cycle helmets become compulsory for bikes and scooters. As more people adopt electric scooters, this increases the demand for dedicated cycle lanes. I would also like to see a requirement for safety training for bothe scooter riders and cyclists. I'd also make it illegal to wear earphones whilst cycling or riding a scooter, so riders are 100% focussed on the road.

So in answer to the question, I believe they are safe enough to be used, provided riders are competent and have head gear.

2. Are they green? 

The only truly green method of transport is walking. Scooters have batteries and the mining process that produces these batteries is not in the least bit green. However, if the scooters are moving people out of their cars, they are significantly greener than a petrol or diesel car. The amount of energy needed to propel a rider on a scooter is miniscule compared to a large car. Every year the UK sees an ever greater proportion of its electricty supply produced by renewable sources, so electric vehicles are getting greener all the time. 

Places of work, schools etc, should be looking at installing charging points. I'd like to see intelligent energy management for such places. Solar and wind power can produce wildly differing amounts of energy depending on weather conditions. It would be good if charging was managed so it was done at periods in the day when the maximum power was being generated by sustainable means.

So the answer is that if we e-scooters become alternatives to cars, then yes as they will reduce or carbon footprints, but if they replace walking then no.

3. Will they help with London's air quality crisis?

Here the answer is definitely yes. Electric vehicles produce no particulates and no fumes. The Mayor of London and local authorities should definitely be looking at promoting their use in pollution hotspots. There should be proper analysis of traffic flows, and serious effort put into working out how to achieve modal shift.  One of my biggest criticisms of the cycling policies of the Livingstone, Johnson and Khan Mayoral regimes, is that they were keener on 'grand schemes' than addressing danger hotspots. Whilst cycle superhighways are great, sorting out junctions that are dangerous to cyclist and other hazard spots would have had a far greater impact on death and injury rates. I would have addressed these first. The same dangers present themselves to scooter users on the road as to cyclists. A car can accelerate from traffic lights etc far more quickly than cycles and scooters, so junctions need to be designed so cyclists and scooter riders can safely turn right and are visible to all other road users. When people feel safe, they are more likely to make a modal shift and this is how we will address air quality in London.

4. Is the hire scheme the way to go?

The scheme is a pilot to ascertain whether e-scooters have a significant role to play in addressing Londons congestion and air quality. I have to state that I cannot really understand what additional lessons they need to learn. The risks of e-scooters are understood, the safety issues are more or less identical to cyclists, the benefits should also be understood. So long as the scooters are not sharing space with pedestrians and so long as work is done to make roads safe, they are a viable alternative. 

5. My general thoughts.

I would like to see a simple registration scheme, where users do an online safety course and register the make etc, to prevent over powered models being used. I'd like to see this coupled with a cheap third party insurance scheme. I would like to see safety headwear and visibility jackets be compulsory. I would like to see schools and major workplaces have charging points and safe storage. I'd like to see stowage space on commuter rail & tube services etc. 

To sum up, I think that e-scooters have a role to play in the solution to London's transport problems. They are not the answer to everything, but have a role to play. 

Sunday, 6 June 2021

The tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 6th June 2021

 As things start to return to normal and we start catching up with old friends, visiting our favourite spots, there's been a marked drop in output from many of our local tweeters. But fear not, there is quality rather than quantity and there are a few that really brought a smile to my face! And as I put this together I got into a little exchange with one of our tweeters, that was the most fun I've had with my clothes on all week! Can you spot it? A free pot noodle if you can!

1. I'll start with the tweet that brought the biggest smile of all to my face this week. Regular readers will know that Paul H is a friend of mine who had a truly awful year in 2020, losing close family members and suffering serious illness. You may also recall the amazing act of kindness shown to him by Watford FC and Troy Deeney, when he was at his lowest ebb. Well this is my tweet of the week, seeing this amazing Mill Hill lad properly back on his feet. Paul has had many challenges, but has amazing resilience and is an inspiration. He's a great musician, I used to manage his band, The Sway, who did several national tours, much airplay and even featured the amazing Helen Terry on backing vocals. At the bottom of the page is one of the videos we produced for them.


2. Fancy doing your bit for our amazing community? Why not come along


3. Talking of amazing people, we are big fans of Colindale foodbank. We must arrange another collection soon.


4. We cannot ignore the fact that a young man lost his life in a stabbing. As a parent, I can think of nothing worse than losing a child. We must support these mothers and do what we need to as a community to change this. We cannot bury our heads in the sand


5. You had to be there! This tweet brought back memories that nearly made me cry with laughter. I didn't really appreciate Jingles at the time, but it was a top place


6. Top marks to Waterstones in Finchley for this one! We love a good music question, and we aren't gonna tell you the answer


7. This is my picture of the week. I genuinely thought this was a scene from the 50's or 60's when I first saw it. Then I clicked on the image. Brilliant work. It makes me want to buy some Castrol GTX even though I don't need any


8. I am highly intrigued about this matter. Does anyone have more details?


9. SOme nice local Edgware History here


10. If hardcore metal is your thing, check out this amazing live stream from Mill Hill Music Complex yesterday. Over 2,000 people have already viewed this in less than 24 hours, great work guys



That's all folk, apart from this little video I promised you way back at the start.