Sunday 31 October 2021

The Tweets of the Week in the London Borough of Barnet - 31st October 2021

The last day of October, where has the year gone? Have you had a good week? I've had a sort of OK one. I was at Hadley FC on Tuesday, a disappointing result but nice to stand on the terraces and have a beer under the floodlights. On Thursday, it was five a side at Powerleague, Friday was a fine curry at the Mill Hill Tandoori and a couple of pints at the Mill Hill Services club. Yesterday, we had a tasty burger and a pint at The Old Mitre in Barnet. I've not been there for a year. The former governor banned me as I disagreed with his pro Brexit views and anti vax/lockdown stance on Twitter. I'm pleased to report he's gone and the pub still serves a wonderful pint. After taking food and refreshments, we adjourned to The Bull Theatre to watch Mr Lee Thompson of Madness with The Silencerz, a truly wonderful evening.

That was my week, but the question is, what are the local tweeters up to. I must say that I think this weeks selection may be the best one I've put together. I'd like all of the contributors to give themselves a pat on the back for a brilliant selection. 

1. If you've got kids and you are in Burnt Oak tomorrow, nip down to the library. I think this is wonderful!

2. One of the joys of putting this column together is that I find absolute gems like this. Now I know what to watch later!

3. We love a bit of history here. This is wonderful!

4. Given what is happening in Hendon with the redevelopment scheme, I cannot but help notice the irony.

5. I may have to overuse the word wonderful today. I absolutely love this. All I can really say is that I think Cricklewood has by far the best local residents group in Barnet. What they've done at the station is awesome

6. This makes me wish I was nine again. Another marvellous tweet

7. Did you know that the Jarrow March passed through Edgware? You do now!

8. I was there last night, at the Bull in Barnet as mentioned above. This was a wonderful evening

9. This tweet made me spit my tea out laughing. Maybe one day I'll do a blog on the best graffiti in London.

10. The Mill Hill Hall of fame!

That's all folks!

Saturday 30 October 2021


 Since Jan 2021, around 2000 of us have signed petitions, open letters, responded to consultations and attended demos protesting the Hendon Hub regeneration plans.

All of this will be in vain if we don't comment on Planning Applications now.


Planning Application Guide

We're nagging like mad about this because we've reached a crucial moment in our battle to save our library and our community and the only two conservation areas in Hendon. 



If you could just give up a couple of minutes of your time to comment on however many of those you wish, it would make all the difference. 

We've made commenting quick and simple with our Guide.


Every member of your household can comment.

Tell neighbours, family, friends.  

Knock on doors.  

For those not online or unable to use the internet, you could offer to comment for them with permission. 

You can write one line.
You can write an essay.
But please write something.



Have a great weekend!

The Saturday List #325 - Ten things that make me irrationally happy on a Saturday morning

 Let's start by saying this is not just another excuse to play 'Wake up and make love to me' by Ian Dury, although one should always listen to the track on a Saturday morning. I had a minor revelation during the week. I was pondering on the subject of happiness. Although I can be a right miserable sod at times, I am by default a happy, positive person. I happened to be listening to a new mix of a track by The False Dots called 'Longshot didn't die' in studio reception. It has been given a brilliant remix by ace producer Boz Boorer. Reception was packed, including the amazing Congolese singer Miss Baby Sol and her band (who are pretty amazing). I wasn't paying much attention to them, but I noticed they all started bopping to it. One then came up and asked who it was. As a musician, such things are the source of amazing happiness. I think it may be a hit (I can but dream!).

Anyway, it got me think about the little things in life that bring irrational happiness. I have an immense debt to my much missed Dad. He always said that you should fill your weekends with joy and banish negativity. So I thought I'd make a little list of what gets me off to a good start on a Saturday

1. Carrie and David on BBC Radio London. These two are vocal coaches who live in North London and do the breakfast show. I don't know them, don't think I've ever met them, but our studio vocal coach Josh Alamu is a good mate of theirs. Their show is what wakes me up. For me it sets just the right tone for a Saturday morning. They know their music (which always earns my respect), have great guests and are generally full of life affirming positivity. Because I'm a good blogger and a nosy sod, I follow them on Twitter etc and I am in awe of how they've taken the challenge of their childrens autism and turned it into something glorious and positive. As someone who lives with dyslexia, it is great to see how they've used it as a positive force in their family life. This morning they played some afrobeat, which is great on a Saturday morning. I'd rather like them to play a lot more of it!

2. Cooking breakfast. The good lord has blessed me beyond belief with my missus Clare. With the things I put on her and the way I often take her for granted, I am amazed she puts up with me. The one thing I religiously do, no matter what the weather or how I feel, is try and cook her a lovely breakfast on a Saturday morning. This morning it was toast with smoked salmon and cream cheese, fried mushrooms and a fried egg with a sprinkle of parmesan (I didn't have the dairy on mine). It was glorious and I think that for five minutes every Saturday, she probably thinks it's worth the hassle of putting up with me. I love cooking and it always makes me happy.

3. Reading the Times in bed with a cup of tea. There is nothing more civilised than reading the papers in bed with a cuppa. During the week, we get the Daily Express and Guardian ( a sort of balanced view of the world). At the weekend, it's the Times and Sunday Times. Much as I dislike Murdoch, the Times is a very good paper and has some great stuff in it.

4. Robert Elms. Robert follows Carrie and David on BBC London. He's recently had his hours cut on the station. If nothing else, it's made me realise what a brilliant presenter he is and how much we should appreciate him, because nothing lasts forever. I generally only manage the first hour or so, as I have stuff to do. His show always puts a smile on my face, especially when he plays his Matt Munro track. When I was a sixteen year old punk rocker, the concept of listening to Matt would have been unimaginable, but as I've grown older, I've learned to appreciate the work of such geniuses, in no little part thanks to Bob (as us ex Orange Hillers call him).

5. Writing the Saturday List. I'm often asked how I manage to keep up writing this blog. The answer is that I really enjoy it. I find it relaxing and therapeutic. Of all the blogs, I enjoy making the lists the most. All of the subjects interest me. 

6. Walking my dogs. At some point on a Saturday morning, the doggies will get a walkies. In Mill Hill we are blessed with amazing walks and great trails. On days like today when it is raining, this is perhaps less of a joy, but generally, we always do a 3-4 mile walk at weekend and I absolutely love it. If you follow me on Twitter and Instagram, you'll see many of the pictures I snap. We all have our beliefs, mine is that God gave us an amazing planet and I'm damn well gonna enjoy it.

7. Tea. I've never really got coffee. It doesn't agree with me and I hate the taste of it. I especially hate the ones full of gunge and with rubbish sprinkled on top. Tea cannot be defiled in such manner. When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, I banished the dairy. It took me a while to get used to black tea, but I've come to realise that it is the most wonderful drink of all. 

8. My garden. I always have a little walk around it at the weekends. So many people have paved their front gardens and sold off their back gardens. I will never do this, it is my little oasis of sanity and beauty in a punishing world.

9. My Guitar. I always sneak in a play of the guitar on a Saturday, It always brings me joy and happiness. If there was one bit of advice I'd give anyone, it's to learn an instrument.

10. The football fixtures. Although I am a football nut, I always love looking at the forthcoming football fixtures. When I was a kid, my Dad would do the pools with me on a Saturday morning. He was an Aussie who hated football, but he loved the pools. We always lost. He wanted to win so he could live the life of Riley. Although I always know who Man City will be playing, on a Saturday I study the other fixtures, to see if there is anything interesting in there. I find these irrationally fascinating. Every other Saturday I try and go to watch Hadley FC at home at Brickfield Lane. When I can, I watch Manchester City and when they are in town, I join my Welsh friends to watch Wrexham. In the last couple of weeks, I've seen all of them. Football is rather wonderful and Saturday is the day that we celebrate it. 

I thought I'd put a little playlist together to put me in the mood for a wonderful Saturday. I hope this works for you.

Have a great weekend!

Friday 29 October 2021

The Friday Joke - 29th October 2021

 Has to be this. Sums it up

Have a great weekend

Thursday 28 October 2021

Want to know what's wrong with the UK, just look at the pantomime that is the Budget

 Of all the traditions of UK politics, I believe that there is none more corrosive than the biannual budget announcements. The whole concept is ridiculous from start to finish. It is a pantomime that is simply not fit for purpose in a modern economy. I've long believed that things such as infrastructure spending should be planned over decades and ring fenced. If you look at the ongoing haggling over HS2, the Heathrow runway, Crossrail and just about every other major project in the UK, you will soon realise that we are a dysfunctional nation. Yesterday the chancellor announced £42 billion for 'transport projects'. I searched in vain to find out what these were. The UK is hosting the COP26 climate summate shortly, having just announced that we are incentivising short haul flights in the UK. 

Not only that but the chancellor has given the banks a huge tax break. I am at a loss to see how this will stimulate the UK economy. A thriving banking sector is good for London and the UK, but it has been on the receiving end of a decade of public support, yet we see higher charges, branch closures and the withdrawal of the abaility to speak to a human being in almost all circumstances. If Sunak had attached a few strings, such as protection for branches in places where they are needed, better regulation of charges, I may feel different but as someone comfortable in the company of bankers and possibly with an eye on his next (but one?) job, he has given them a huge bung for no discernable benefit for Joe public taxpayer.

Then there are the duties on alcohol. A 3p a pint cut on duty in two years time is bonkers. Either the industry is struggling now and needs assistance now, or it doesn't. I'm all for cheaper beer, but if you are going to give away money, it make sense to give it away when it's needed.

Sunak was trumpeting the success of his policies for dealing with Covid. The Furlough scheme was undoubtedly a life saver for many small companies, my own included. It would be churlish and ungracious to not say well done for that, but we are not out of the woods and I'd suggest that he'd do well to wait and see how things settle down as we open up before being too triumphal. The decline in unemployment is as much the result of Brexit and a mass departure of skilled European workers. It is great that British people are stepping in to fill gaps, but there is a labour crisis in UK industry. Sunak talks of being a "high wage, high skills economy" but even in such an economy, you need people to wash floors in hospitals and unblock drains.

I was reminded of a rather humourous scene a few years ago in a local Mill Hill pub. I happened to be at the bar when a well known local politician, who shall remain nameless waltzed in. As I was chatting, a rather the worse for wear elderly Irishman wandered up to us and told a rather filthy joke, then departed. The Politician looked disgusted and said "Who is that?". I said "He's the most important man in Mill Hill". He replied "What do you mean?" and looked puzzled. I said "He's the bloke who unblocks our sewers when they get blocked". A puzzled look came over his face. I said "Without him, the whole area would soon be knee deep in ****". Sadly such people are overlooked when the great and good talk about essential skills. There is no budget bung for them.

If ever I got into a position of power (which isn't going to happen), I'd abolish the whole sorry process of annual budget announcements. I'd like to see Parliamentary committee's oversee long term strategic plans. I'd curtail the ability of the Chancellor to rig the economy to serve the electoral cycle. I'd like to see monthly, non politica progress statements produced by the treasury. 

I'm all for different parties setting different priorities and policies, but these should be within the framework of manifesto commitments (and unmanageable global events). I'd like to see the Treasury deliver a plan that shows us where the UK wants to be in fifteen years time. I'd like to know that as someone who has paid tax  all of my life, I won't have my pension nicked at the whim of a transient politician (as happened to the WASPI's). 

I've felt for a very long time that the UK works in spite of politicians rather than because of their 'initiatives'. I work in an industry that is almost completely unregulated and by coincidence the UK leads the world in (the music industry). We are so niche we fit no easy category in what the government deems a 'sector'. When covid support was dished out, some local authorities (I'm pleased to say that Barnet was very good for once) supported music studios as leisure industries and some didn't, until pressure was brought to bear.  Some local authorities actually forced businesses to the wall, by not giving assistance that they were entitled to. These were businesses that had paid taxes for decades. having campaigned for the industry for decades, it brought home just how unimportant small business is to politicians. They have simply no idea what the sector contributes to the economy. The Federation of Small Business stated yesterdayBudget not enough to meet ambition for high-growth, high-productivity, high-wage, low-tax economy"

To me the biggest problem with these bi-annual budget announcements is that there is too much in them at once to have a proepr debate. Measures like cuts to beer duty catch the headlines, but they are not the things that will really make a difference to the long term future of the UK. Sector by sector reports throughout the year, with reports on progress would make more sense. So often the budget plans last as long as the newspapers that we read about them on. There are always commitments to efficiency, talk of making the UK a low tax economy, talk of encouraging entrepreneurs, yet nothing ever seems to happen.

If Rishi Sunak wanted to really modernise the UK economy, he'd do away with parading a red box and start a process of proper long term planning, with consultation and proper oversight. 

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Barratts development on the Ridgeway - No enforcement by Barnet Council

One of the conditions of planning permission for the Barratts development on the Ridgeway, of the National Institute for Medical Research was that all lorries leaving the site would have their wheels washed, to prevent the spread of contaminants on the site being spread around Mill Hill. 

The planning process identified various high risk materials that may potentially pose a risk to local residents and children at a local school located less than 100 yards from the boundary of the site. These include radioactive materials, bio hazards, dangerous chemicals and asbestos. It was agreed by Barratts that all wheels would be washed on lorries leaving the site as part of the process to mitigate these risks.

So how has this gone. Our friends at A Better Mill Hill have been tracking progress. Have Barratts complied with the condition and have Barnet Council been keeping an eye and using their stuatory powers to ensure compliance.

On Friday 17th September, I got this rather surreal response, however I see no evidence of any action at all. I've been corresponding with Barnet on this issue for nearly two years (I've spared the officer his blushes by not naming him).

Sent: Friday, 17 Sep, 21 At 16:15
Subject: RE: Enforcement Acknowledgement Letter ENF/0925/21

Dear Mr Tichborne,

Thank you for your emails.

Based on the further photographs you have provided, I will be preparing a report recommending that a formal breach of condition notice is served.

Please note that the breach of condition notice can only require the developer to adhere to the details set out in the approved CEMP, ie that wheels of all groundwork and delivery vehicles are jet washed prior to vehicle egress. The notice would not be able to specify the quality of jet washing.

Kind regards,

******* *********

So you have some flavour of what I'm talking about, here's a few tweets (and a few replies) - I'll let you make up your own mind. The oldest is from March 2019. 


Monday 25 October 2021

Environment Monday - Barnet Council's sustainability smokescreen

 The Leader of Barnet Council has recently published a statement, in which he makes the case for the wonderful work Barnet Council are doiung to be seen as a local authority committed to sustainability.

The original is on the Barnet Council website. This is what he has to say

Barnet Council Leader, Councillor Dan Thomas

In the lead up to COP26, and following the government’s announcement of its Net Zero Strategy, the Leader of Barnet Council has released a statement on sustainability in Barnet.

Cllr Dan Thomas, Leader of Barnet Council, said: “Across London, we have seen how climate change is playing a role in extreme weather events, such as storms and flooding.

These events in the context of the recent report published by the IPCC make it clear that important decisions need to be made at COP26, and we must all play our part in supporting the government’s commitment of being net zero by 2050 and cutting emissions by 78% by 2035, compared to 1990 levels.

We are developing a Sustainability Strategy which aims to make Barnet the leading borough in London in sustainability and ensure we match the government’s ambition that we have a sustainable and prosperous country for future generations.

Our Sustainability Strategy will highlight the work that is already ongoing across Barnet, as well as set out the additional actions Barnet Council will take to contribute to the government meeting, and even exceeding, their targets. It will also state how we will support residents, businesses and council partners to make meaningful changes to facilitate their contribution to these targets.

Above all, our strategy will be our commitment to building a borough fit for the future where our residents and businesses can benefit from sustainable services, amenities and infrastructure.

We will bring a high-level overview of the strategy to Policy & Resources Committee in December, which will include an update and an initial action plan.

The strategy will build on the existing sustainability measures we have already put in place, such as:

  • starting the retrofit of our own housing stock and corporate estate with grants already secured
  • by 2030 Brent Cross Town is committed to achieving net zero carbon
  • the installation of over 150 electric vehicle charge points, in line with our Long Term Transport Strategy 2020-2041 which contributes to our position as one of the boroughs with the most electric vehicles
  • invested £15m in ensuring our waste vehicles are all ULEZ compliant, more fuel efficient and with lower emissions
  • converted our street lighting to LED power, which has allowed us to cut our street light energy usage by up to 66%
  • experimental road resurfacing materials using 240 recycled tyres
  • committed to planting 4,500 trees by 2022.”

Visit to find out more about Barnet Council’s commitment to a sustainable future, what the council has already done to make the borough more sustainable, and tips and suggestions to help residents live a more sustainable life

So lets look at each of these proposals in detail, then have a look at a few other things that perhaps they should be doing. My comments in Red Italics

  • starting the retrofit of our own housing stock and corporate estate with grants already secured
As meaningless statements from the Council go, this is a classic. It doesn't say what they will be retrofitting their housing stock with and there is no commitment to numbers or dates. All they have done is secure some grants to do something. I have no idea who writes these press releases, but is it too much to ask for a sensible degree of detail in them, or some links to some proper detail
  • by 2030 Brent Cross Town is committed to achieving net zero carbon
I am intrigued by this. Does the figure include the concrete and cement production? Is what they are saying that the properties will be zero carbon. Does it include the car journeys of the residents and shoppers? Given that there is no real commitment to better public transport from Barnet Council, beyond a new Thameslink station, it is hard to see how this can be true from a holistic viewpoint. I invite the Council Leader to give us some proper details and tell us what he's left out.
  • the installation of over 150 electric vehicle charge points, in line with our Long Term Transport Strategy 2020-2041 which contributes to our position as one of the boroughs with the most electric vehicles
This is actually quite embarrassing. There are around 395,000 people in Barnet. That is one charging point for every 2,633 people. There are 21 local wards so that is less than eight charging points per ward. If that is in line with their long term strategy, it is a pretty poor strategy.
  • invested £15m in ensuring our waste vehicles are all ULEZ compliant, more fuel efficient and with lower emissions
It is not what Barnet Council is saying here that is embarrassing, it is what they are not saying. I am all for ULEZ compliant waste vehicles, but why only waste vehicles? Surely Barnet should be committed to all Council Vehicles being ULEZ compliant? I would be interested to know if this also includes vehicles provided by contractors. It does not say "all waste vehicles in the Borough of Barnet". 

  • converted our street lighting to LED power, which has allowed us to cut our street light energy usage by up to 66%
This a very typical Barnet Council ruse. I was told by councillors that the move to LED was driven by the fact that it was saving shedloads of money doing it. They did it to cut costs, not to be green. I am all for cutting costs, but to claims some altruistic motive as part of a strategy is a bit rich in my opinion.
  • experimental road resurfacing materials using 240 recycled tyres
Again I'm all for recycling and recycling tyres is a great idea, but it strikes me that the area you could resurface with 60 recycled tyres must be tiny. Barnet is approx 87 square Kilometers. When I walked through Bunns Lane Car Park this morning, I counted 63 cars, which is more than 240 tyres. By my calculations, this would not be enough to even resurface the car park. 
  • committed to planting 4,500 trees by 2022.
This may sound like a lot of trees. Spread across a Borough of 87 square kilometers, I doubt it will replace the trees that will have died over the last two years. Many horse chestnut trees have been affected by a weevil. A huge number have been cut down as every small piece of land that could be developed has been. I am interested to see that Barnet Council has not said whether it expects a net increase in the number of trees in the Borough since the end of 2019. 

My concern is that Barnet are taking us all for  a  ride. There is a Council election next year and they wish to appear green. Regular readers will know that I've been using this feature to lobby Barnet Council to become more sustainable. Read this blog from 2018, where I detail what a real, sustainable enviroment policy would look like and why it can work. 

As a recap, here are the main things that I believe should be at the heart of a sustainability policy

1. Properly protect natural habitats and refuges in the Borough of Barnet. We've seen constant attacks on these. Sadly there is no evidence at all of proper enforcement. The debacle of Darlands Lake is perhaps the worst example. This week we had a meeting of "The Environment committee" at the Council. This week the environment committee met. One item was the Parks and Open spaces strategy. There was no mention at all of measures to strengthen protection of our natural habitats. That is bordering on criminal negligence. The first thing we need is a proper audit of the wildlife and the habitats they need in Barnet. I am shocked at how many people are unaware of the diversity of reptiles, amphibians, birds and small mammals in the Borough. I was recently chatting to some young people at the studios I run, talking about our trip to Australia. One said "I wouldn't live anywhere with snakes and spiders!". When I said "Did you know thare are adders and grass snakes inthe Borough?" they were shocked. What sort of education are children getting, when they don't even know of the reptiles on our doorstep? Something is sriously wrong.

2. Waste management. One of the most criminal acts against our neighbours in the future has been the abandonment of seperate food waste collections by Barnet Council. This was deliberately concealed from the public before the last election. That is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of Barnet Council and waste. Most of what we produce is sent to incinerators or buried in landfil sites. The council is constantly trying to find cheaper ways to get rid of the huge grey bins full of rubbish we produce every week. When I was a kid, we had one small metal bin. Now we have three that seem to be full every week. The simple answer is to have less packaging. If the govt forced supermarkets to cut packaging, every council would have a huge windfall and our future neighbours would have a far more pleasant planet.

3. Energy management. Back in 2010, I proposed that all libraries and public buildings in Barnet be fitted with solar panels. I made the case that this would have paid for itself in five years and then made a huge profit. Had they done this then, the council would have been £2 million better off and used an untold amount less CO2. Sadly the generous tariffs that applied then have long gone, but there is no reason why the Council should not still invest. The payback would be 8-9 years, but as the recent Saracens deal has shown, money can be borrowed from the public works board at low rates. If this was done over 20 years, the council would see  profit next year on its budget. It is a win-win and one that there is no sane reason not to persue. Every school, library and other public building should do this. When you consider that schools use energy during the day when the sun shines, they would end up paying almost nothing in energy costs for most of the year.

4. Electric vehicles. I simply cannot understand why Councils do not use them. Birmingham Council had a whole fleet of them decades ago. Barnet must commit to ensuring the next generation of vehicles are fully electric. Volvo have announced the launch of one with a range of 200km. As far as I am aware, that is more than ample for Barnet. I would ask the council to commit to electric for the next generation. We can't win all of the battles today, but we must start planning for the future.

5. Encouraging walking and cycling. Barnet has appalling air quality by major roads. The undercroft of Mill Hill Broadway station has been measured as having the worst air quality in Western Europe. That is scandalous. We urgently need to reduce the number of car journeys. There are several practical ways that this can be done. I would start with the school run. I would give precence to all applications for schools where parents commit to walk to school. I would then give schools the ability to sanction parents who make a commitment to walk and then renege. As for cycling, Barnet has an appalling record in providing safe cycleways. I believe that this is vital not only to protect our neighbours in the future, but to regenerate our High Streets. I have long wondered if there is any way that Councils could be encouraged by reductions in business rates, to get more customers cycling. As someone with a background in card technology, I was wondering if we could have a system where customers who use a cycle dock could get a 5% discount on products etc? If this was funded by a Business rates cut then it would be good for all. Now I am sure someone will say "who will pay for this?" The answer is simple, bicycles cause no wear and tear on roads. When we see potholes on roads, these are caused by cars and lorries. It seems there are no official studies that show increased cycling reduces highways maintenance, but it is clearly something Barnet Council should study. Another point worth considering is that walking and cycling improve health (except when bad car drivers become a part of the equation). This will save in healthcare costs. If we start planning eco friendly, viable foot and cycle networks now, our neighbours of the future will surely have less reason to hate us.

6. Tree/shrub planting. Where I live, I have the M1 motorway at the bottom of my garden. When I walk my dogs to Mill Hill Park, we cross both the A1 and A41 trunk roads on the Watford Way. The Road has a grass verge. It is generally full of litter and really adds no value to anything.  I discussed this situation 20 years ago with a leading UK environmentalist. He suggested to me that we should replace all such grass verges with hedgerows, trees and shrubs. He explained that species with sticky leaves actually pull diesel particlautes out of the air, making it cleaner. This reduces asthma. It also gives a habitat for birds and small mammals. Noise is reduced  and rather than staring at concrete, we have a pleasant shrub/tree lined vista. Urban greenways are the way of the future. I believe that citizens of the Borough would buy into such spending. The associated improvements in air quality would also have benefit for health budgets.

7. Action on littering. Littering is perhaps the most widely seen anti social activity that is tolerated by society. I completely fail to understand why this is. A litter strewn street or park is pehaps the most depressing sight of all in our borough. Over the last year, local citizens in Barnet have been forming litter picking groups, but I'd like to see Barnet Council, schoos and local enforcement agencies take a far more proactive role in addressing the problem. There are three simple measures that we should do. Schools should educate children to realise that littering is anti social and boorish. Sadly the worst places for litter in the Borough are outside some of our schools. The second thing is that Barnet Council should ensure that the bins are properly emptied and the final thing is that anyone caught littering, even with cigarette butts, should be given the choice of a large fine or have to participate in a litter picking session. As my wife broke her arm in October after being tripped by a piece of litter, I realise this not simply a matter of tasteful ambience.

8. Pesticides. Barnet Council uses dangerous pesticides to kill weeds on pavements etc. There are alternatives. We have seen decimation of bee populations, that poses a clear and present threat to the food chain. The seriousness of this cannot be underestimated. Barnet should take the lead by banning them ASAP.

9. High Street regeneration. You may wonder what this has to do with protecting the environment. The answer is quite simple. The carbon footprint of a pint of milk you buy when you walk to your local shops is far lower than the one you buy after a car journey to a superstore or when an online delivery brings it to your house. In Mill Hill, we are lucky to have Marks and Spencers, Tesco's, Iceland, Gerards Butchers, Mill Hill wines and a range of great convenience stores. Shopping in these and cutting out the car journey makes a big contribution to reducing your carbon footprint. The more shops we have, the less need there is to travel far and wide. Sadly the council has no policy on trying to protect our High Streets.

10. Planning Policies. This is the biggest one. I've left it until last. My views will not be universally liked. There is a housing shortage in Barnet, as there is across London. There is a labour shortage and there are homeless people.  Whatever we do in terms of planning, has to address these issues first. A cursory glance at the planning portal on Barnet Councils website shows a plethora of planning applications. I can see virtually none that address these issues and none that demonstrate joined up thinking in relation to the issues that face our society. My view is that any speculative building must be forced to address these issues in some way, shape or form. Barnet needs robust guidelines that developers know will be enforced. Perhaps the most scandalous aspect of planning in Barnet is the antagonistic relationship between the Council and the Mayor. Between the two of them, they have a responsibility for planning. Barnet's Conservative Council passed a politically charged motion declaring the Labour London Mayor an "enemy of the people". This was 100% guaranteed to ensure a bad working relationship. We need an end to name calling and a council and Mayor that puts the real issues first. If the Council and Mayor can't they will both be quilty of crimes against our future neighbours. One other thing Barnet Council needs to do is take enforcement seriously. For too long, developers have thought they "can simply get away with it". If the expectation was that Barnet Council will enforce the law, they would soon change tack. Barnet Council should announce a zero tolerance policy towards breaches of planning law. In the long term, this would save money, as developers would soon take the hint and comply with the law.

I suppose we should be grateful that at least Cllr Thomas and the Council have acknowledged the need for a policy. Sadly, our friends at A Better Mill Hill revealed the truth about sustainability and enviromental awareness in Barnet yesterday. It acheived 272 retweets and 414 likes.

Until they actually do something beyond pretending that doing the absolute bare minimum is marvellous, no sensible person will view these statements with anything other than a high level of suspicion. What is most shocking was that this was all they could come up with. I wonder whether they think no one will read these statements or whether they just think we are too thick to realise just how badly they are doing. It is quite shameful

Sunday 24 October 2021

The Tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet 24 Oct 2021

 Not quite sure whether it's summer, autumn or winter right now. I wore my big coat to the park as I thought it was cold. Had to carry it home.

How has your week been? Mine has been pretty good. Watched a damn fine game of footy at the Hive yesterday (unless you are a Barnet fan). Had a nice curry with the boys on Friday, a good kickaround at Powerleague on Thursday, a great band rehearsal with The False Dots on Wednesday and enjoyed watching the Champions League at the Mill Hill Services club on Tuesday. It is nice being able to do all of these things. Maybe, just maybe lockdown has taught us to enjoy these simple pleasures and appreciate them. 

Which brings us on to what our esteemed bunch of very wonderful local tweeters have been up to.

1. It's not to late to enjoy the craic in Cricklewood

2. This is a rather nice pair of tweets from Cricklewood

3. And whilst we are on before and after pictures, a nice couple from @Time_NW in Edgware

4. This tweet alerted me to a rather fine Twitter account and website. Check it out

5. While I was watching that team in Harrow getting whupped, Barnets finest were getting back to business.

6.We'll second that!

7. A date for your diary. Top quality Jazz in Mill Hill

8. We had a rather impressive visitor in the skies over the Borough of Barnet today, thanks to Don for snapping it!

9. This put a smile on my face. A sharp eye'd local tweeter spotted that my Dad's business used to sponsor Edgware Town when they used to play at the Old White Lion ground. Brought a tear to my eye!

10. From Mill Hill to the West End - Check it out

That's all folks

Saturday 23 October 2021

The Saturday List #324 - The ten best song lyrics ever

Quite a few of my lists have been inspired by The Robert Elms show on BBC Radio London. Today was one such list. I didn't have a list prepared and I wasn't going to bother doing one today, but Robert did what he calls a Fourfer on his show, as I was returning from walking the dogs. The subject was Paul Simon. I'm not a massive fan of Paul Simon, but I acknowledge the man is a genius. The way a fourfer works, is that Robert picks a topic and four people suggest tracks. One lady rang and suggested The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel. As I listened, it reminded me of just what a brilliant lyricist is. It got me thinking, "What are the ten best song lyrics ever?". Would The Boxer feature?

It may surprise you to learn that even though I write songs and really care about the lyrics, I rarely listen to them in songs. However there are some that have made a real impact. Some people think good song lyrics have to be about important subjects, protest, social injustice. I think that good lyrics put you in a different space and transport you to places sometimes you'd love to go and sometimes you wouldn't. I think this is a pretty fine list. In truth it should have been at least 25 and there are some glaring omissions, due to the constraints of picking ten. Most of the artists could have had ten of their own. 

So here are my top ten.

1. The Hurricane by Bob Dylan. The story of a miscarriage of justice. Perhaps the most powerful lyrics of all. I'm not a massive Dylan fan, but this really is the work of a genius. It is a shame that the BBC don't play it due to offensive words in the lyrics. My view is that if offensive words are in context then the rule should not apply. If you have a few minutes, check these songs out.

2. Glad to be gay by The Tom Robinson Band. This is perhaps the most powerful protest song of all. Tom Robinson had a big hit with 2-4-6-8 Motorway, which was a brilliant pop song. He followed it up with Glad to be gay. It was the first time I'd heard homosexuality portrayed in a sympathetic way. I was at Finchley Catholic High School at the time which was a highly homophobic environment and to have openly expressed a liking for the TRB after was lethal (literally). Shortly after I moved to Orange Hill School, which was a lot more grown up and liberal. Although I am not gay, I think this is a hugely important song and it changed my views on the subject. It made me realise that police brutality against people with a different sexuality was pure evil. For that I owe Mr Robinson the world. 

3. Betrayal takes two by Richard Hell and the Voidoids. This song is a true masterpiece of the complex condition which is human loyalty. I may have listened to the song a thousand times, but the lyrics still inspire me. In truth, the musical arrangement doesn't do the words justice. It is not a nice song in the true sense of the word, but it reminds me that it's okay not to be perfect and also that forbidden fruits always taste best. 

4. I feel like I'm fixing to die  - Country Joe and The Fish. The best anti war song ever. Written at the height of the Vietnam war and featured in the Woodstock movie. There really is no better summing up of the futility of war and the corporate interests that drive it.

5. Rise - Public Image Ltd. John Lydon is a brilliant lyricist. Unlike most of the other songs in this list, this song is brilliant for its simplicity. The refrain 'Anger is an energy'  is something that I can really associate with. Good lyrics evoke strong feelings. This certainly does.

6. Up the Junction - Squeeze.  The story of a life falling apart. It is clever, funny and tragic. It is almost a play set to music in three minutes and eleven seconds. This song inspired a generation of lyricists.

7.  White man in Hammersmith Palais - The Clash. There were dozens of songs I could have picked, but this is the one that takes me back to a time and  place. Joe Strummer at his best. It describes an era and sets a scene.

8. Too much too young - The Specials. Another band that could have had all ten songs, but this really is the very best. The story of the dangers of not using contraception. 

9. The tracks of my tears - Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. I believe that Smokey Robinson is a better lyricist than Bob Dylan. This is perhaps his masterpiece, this song is perhaps the best example of the feeling of hurt at the end of a relationship. 

10. Wake and make love with me - Ian Dury and the Blockheads. Dury was  a genius. This to me is his masterpiece. There is not a day that I don't think of Mr Ian Dury. His lyrics were tender, funny, cheeky, rude and absolutely magnificent. 

Now enjoy them!

Thursday 21 October 2021

Why is Barnet Council hell bent on overdevelopment in Edgware and the Borough of Barnet? - A guest blog by Mark Amies

 This week I became aware of a development document that was marketing the 'Old Railway Hotel', (which was noteworthy in itself, because it had never been called the Old Railway Hotel, so the 'Old' prefix has been made up by the marketing team).  Within the document  were plans for the development of Edgware Town centre, which seems to amount to a wholesale overdevelopment of a sizeable chunk of Edgware. Have a quick scroll through this document from the Knight Frank Estate Agents website marketing the site (you have to register to view on their website). 

Railway Hotel Edgware - Knight Frank Massing Study by Roger Tichborne on Scribd

 In fact, I would say that instead of it being a 'development plan', it's simply a free for all for developers to squeeze as much out of the area. As I have long suspected, Edgware has been in managed decline for years, in such a way that it becomes easier for Barnet to declare it needs to be 'revalitalised'.  The Broadwalk Shopping Centre and its car park looks like it will be replaced by a large number of high density apartment blocks. In the land behind the Railway Hotel there will be a huge tower. All of this is familiar in London. In the name of a supposed need for housing, loads of high density developments have gone up very quickly over the last decade. What was needed was affordable homes,  but so often, what has gone up is often nothing of the kind.

Of course it is good that 'something is being done' about the Railway Hotel. This video I made with Roger from the Barnet Eye shows just how appalling the state of it was in January 2020. Since then, it has deteriorated further, with a recent fire causing much damage.

Barnet Council has embraced the developers wholeheartedly, and with an outsourced 'Planning Department', effectively run Capita Plc, the process of overdevelopment has ravaged great chunks of the borough. Colindale is a very good example, which any spare piece of land developed.  Land that was occupied by the Metropolitan Police, Colindale Hospital and The British Newspaper  Library was duly covered with blocks, to such an extent that it has become unrecognisable to me. West Hendon has similarly been affected, with a former council estate gradually subsumed by a  mass of new blocks, and a huge tower that dominates the landscape. Further down the A5 the Sainsbury's and its car park is being turned over to more out of scale apartments.  Even the pleasant, leafy Mill Hill has seen two developments, again on former public land, the former Army barracks and the National Institute for Medical Research.  Cricklewood  is due to see a huge development of huge towers on the site of the B&Q store.

On and on the developments go, year after year, their path eased by a very relaxed Barnet Council. No matter what concerns local residents have, the new buildings go up. Like a game of Tetris, the blocks keep coming, raining down onto any available,  (or made available) land.

At what point does the situation change? More importantly,  why does Barnet Council care so little for the concerns of its existing  residents? While it may be very convenient to hide behind the perceived virtue of providing new homes, it is not planned. No actual planning is going on. New developments go up, but there is no improvement of existing infrastructure. There are no new schools, health centres, libraries, parks or youth clubs. Roads and pavements are crumbling. A good example is Colindale Avenue, the main route from the A5 to the overdeveloped 'new village' of Colindale.  It is the same road that has been there for over a century.  The irony is that it was Colindale that Barnet Council decided to move its new offices to. I guess that does mean that council officers will be on hand to deal with the upset local residents.

Of course when you massively increase the population of a borough by allowing huge developments of homes, you increase the amount of council tax revenue. But that is outweighed by the increased demands on infrastructure. Another very noticeable thing about this plague of overdevelopment is that it tends to be taking place in the less desirable  parts of the borough,  and the more it carries on the more undesirable they become. Heaven forbid huge apartments  blocks should be built in the 'nice' parts of Barnet...

The fact is, as I said earlier, there's no planning going on, merely a Council that has a very relaxed relationship with developers and builders.  A Council is there to serve its residents, not developers, and the overdevelopment of large areas of Barnet is not doing anything other than line the pockets of developers and builders.

Mark Amies
Mark Amies is a Broadcaster, published author and industrial historian. Mark has worked with The Barnet Eye on several occasions, producing well received short documentary films. 

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