Sunday 31 July 2022

The tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 31st July 2022

 How has your weekend been. Mine has been wonderful, we were in Crete for my nephews wedding. It is a lovely place if you want to chill. Here are some highlights of where we visited.

Thats enough of me, what have our Tweeters been up to. I've not looked at Twitter too much si this was a catch up for me as well

1. It only seems right to start with this wonderful Tweet about one of Mill Hill's miost revered residents

2. And a shout out for our present generation of local heroes!

3. If I'd been around, I'd have deffo been up for this. A great performance by the oldest Football team in the Borough of Barnet

4. Long overdue my first trip of the year to Long Lane Pastures

5. What better way to mark the passing of the legend that was Bernard Cribbins with a little bit of a local link. RIP Bernard and thanks for all the fun

6.I love the way Cricklewood residents are so proud of their Town Centre

7. Talking of Cricklewood, ever wonder what happened to the loco's that tried to do a runner from Cricklewood Train Depot and landed on the North Circular, they got chopped up for being naughty! Not quite a Thomas the Tank Engine ending!

BTW Here is a video that anyone interested in the train basj might enjoy!

8. Some nice IT history here from the Mill Hill Historical Society. I should mention that the office on Camrose Avenue was previously the head office of BACS who do bank transfers. I used to work their for a while in 1989, back in the days when I had to have a proper job to pay the bills. There was a time when more money passed through BACS than any other company in the world on a daily basis

9. We agree!

10. We started with a hero, why not be one yourself? Support your local foodbank!

And if you are interested in how Foodbanks work, here's a film we made explaining how the Colindale foodbank works

That's all folks

Friday 29 July 2022

The Friday Joke and ...... a few thoughts on life

 Once again, I'm endebted to the rather wonderful Robert Wilkinson for this week's joke, which has a nice musical theme.

A few thoughts on 'Living in the Modern World'

I don't like to do politics on the Friday joke, but am I the only one who wished that the Tory Leadership contenders had settled this all with a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors? I really look forward to when real news resumes and things start happening in the world again.

As for the train strikes. I think industrial disputes should be solved the way that Pope's are elected. If they locked the management and the Union leaders in the local Church and didn't let them out until both sides had reached agreement it would save us all of this trouble.

And then there is the Euro's. I saw a thing saying it's not Womens football, it's just football. What a marvellous idea. Someone should tell the organisers

This weekend sees the traditional start of the English Football Season with the Charity Shield. As a Manchester City fan, I find the choice of the King Power stadium a tad odd. The match has, over the years lost a bit of it's lustre, but it was still a day out at Wembley. Hard as I try, I really cannot find the same enthusiasm for a trip to Leicester. As Wembley was busy, why not use the Olympic Stadium at Stratford.  Given that Leicester have a far smaller capacity than City or Liverpool, would seem an obvious choice. Or even Old Trafford, it's about time they had two decent teams on the pitch.

And then there are our illustrious Royal Family. I must have lead a sheltered life, I learned a new word today. I'd always wondered why the name Peggy fell out of fashion! My mates mum was called Peggy, I could never work out what it was short for until today. She always said "My Ron, he can't sit still for a second". It all makes sense.

And finally....

Going on holiday? Want some peace and quiet on the plane.


Thursday 28 July 2022

Federation of Small Business calls on Mayor of London to have a ULEZ expansion rethink

    Don't let the ULEZ destroy the London Music Industry
FSB London has written to the Mayor of London, prior to the end of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone Consultation, urging him to rethink the proposal as it will negatively affect too many small and vulnerable businesses.    


After the long-running soap opera of Government-TfL week to month bail-outs, FSB London Chair Rowena Howie states in the letter that “FSB lack any confidence that an all-encompassing vehicle scrappage scheme to help small businesses will materialise”.


Key Headlines of the Survey


  • The survey was completed by just under 600 businesses – 77 per cent of those within London
  • 84 per cent of businesses responding to the survey oppose the proposal to expand the ULEZ
  • Majority of responses from small businesses with 1-5 employees
  • 80 per cent of respondents reliant on business based vehicles
  • 30 per cent agreed to an Emission-based road pricing system as opposed to the current Congestion Charge, Low Emission Zone (LEZ) and ULEZ
  • Of those businesses whose vehicle(s) do not comply – 25 per cent intend to pass charges onto customers, which will create further inflationary pressures; and 18 per cent said they would close their business.
  • 19 per cent of small businesses were unaware of the proposed ULEZ expansion in 2023




Many small businesses will have to start making difficult decisions on whether they continue to serve central, inner, and outer London, and FSB London are calling for:


  • Time to comply by having a similar lead in period to previous Zone extensions. During a cost of doing business crisis, we need London businesses to thrive and with a heavy reliance on service-related businesses, we feel that implementing a ‘no charge’ period until at least 29 August 2024 is a sensible measure.
  • An all-encompassing Vehicle Scrappage scheme for small businesses which can be supported by Government, Mayor of London and financial institutions providing low-cost finance.
  • project bank account for any small business paying the charge from August 2023 to August 2025. The funds would be protected in a TfL ULEZ Bank Account, and a business would be able to use the funds towards purchasing a new or second hand-vehicle – subject to an upper limit.  If the fund is unspent then the money will go to TfL.


Rowena Howie, FSB London Policy Chair, said:


“The expansion of ULEZ will negatively impact thousands of small businesses through a myriad of issues including but not limited to customers choosing not to travel, businesses not being able to provide services in London and employees experiencing increased costs.


“To put these additional pressures on small businesses at a time when business has been adversely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, where uncertainty and planning and reliance on supply chains has been further interrupted by new international trade agreements and where the energy crisis has further pushed up the cost of doing business, will be too much for some businesses to bear.


“FSB recognises the climate emergency and the commitment to move to net zero – but the Mayor must support the small business community through a ‘carrot’ and education approach to make greener decisions, discouraging non-essential business private vehicle journeys,  and not to punish essential business journeys at this time of economic crisis.


“We need the Mayor to ensure policy promotes a small business friendly Greater London”.



Our position.

Roger Tichborne, the editor of the Barnet Eye is a member of the FSB. Roger wirtes.

Whilst we 100% agree with the objective of the Mayor of London in reducing air pollution, we feel that the ULEZ expansion has not been thought through, the timing coming at the end of the pandemic is terrible and it will be highly damaging to the sector of the economy (music and entertainment) that we operate our business in. 

Like many small businesses, our finances, which were extremely healthy at the start of the pandemic are now precarious. Our revenues for Q2 of 2022 are around 70% of the same period in 2019, which in effect means that we are not operating profitably and are just about breaking even. Our business uses a 2008 registered Ford Galaxy Turbo Diesel for deliveries and our main hire equipment subcontractor uses a similar aged diesel van. We purchased these at the time as the government was encouraging us to use diesel as it was seen as a less polluting option. Our vehicles are well maintained and in good condition, but now have lost all resale value. The pandemic has depleted our financial resources. Our intention was to replace the vehicles in 2021, but we are in no position to take on a large financial commitment, especially when we are not 100% sure of the long term viability of our business or the industry it operates in. 

We completely agree that large companies that have big fleets should comply and we are also of the opinion that people driving gas guzzling cars primarily for pleasure should also be discouraged from polluting. For us and many small businesses, we are in no position to take on the commitment of new vehicles. We believe that the Mayor and the government should offer a viable scrappage scheme and an exemption of two years to small businesses, musicians and other people who are not in a position to viably re-equip at the moment.

We are already passing on the costs of ULEZ to charities that hire equipment from us and require delivery. We have used electric bike delivery services for some bookings, however when an engineer is travelling with the equipment this is logistically not feasable, especially when there are time limitations and several drop offs required. 

We support the FSB's suggestions as pragmatic compromise solutions and hope the Mayor Listens. We beleive that it is in no one's interest if a business such as ours can no longer viably operate. We also ask the Mayor to think of the impact on musicians who are not well off and have old vehicles. Some minor modifications to the scheme would make a huge difference. I'd like to see the Mayor set up some sort of scheme where musicians  (and other affected small businesses) had access at a relatively low cost to compliant, subsidised hire/lease vehicles, with minimal paper work and financial guarantees to ensure that the vehicles can be accessed. 

We are not calling for the abandonment of the scheme, which we generally support. We are however calling for it to be a progressive scheme, not just a ploy to hoover up cash for TFL. All schemes can be improved and we believe that offering suggestions to do this is a positive way forward. If the Mayor of London simply ignores the struggle of small business, he is not serving London's best interests


Wednesday 27 July 2022

A few signs of the stunning lies and hypocrisy of the Barnet Tories

 I'd pretty much decided to lay off political blogging about Barnet, following Labours landslide, but I simply cannot ignore crass hypocrisy. The Barnet Tories have been pumping out complete rubbish at a huge rate of late. Maybe they are hoping for a few by-elections in the hope that Liz Truss will resurrect their election fortunes. I rather hope local voters see through this. I'm all for proper opposition, but this is nothing of the sort. It is just spouting of cobblers.

Here are a few examples. 


Who was it who originally planned the ULEZ extension? None other than Boris Johnson.  This is rather conveniently forgotten by the local Tories, who are simply trying a little bit of populist rabble rousing. 

Climate Change

The Barnet Tories know very well that Barnet Labour are organising a public consultation on Climate Change. They did nothing to make Barnet more Eco Friendly. I emailed councillors on numerous occasions and never got a reply on a whole host of issues. They are now grubbing around for any little thing they can find to snipe. The Tories had a massive majority until May and could have passed rules explicitly making the Council Paper Free and banning single use plastic. It is worth mentioning that on the election night, that I attended as a candidate, there were no options for water apart from plastic bottles. Clearly it's only a priority in opposition. 

FGG Tories.

Now this is a strange one indeed. The local Tory MP for Finchley and Golders Green is Mike Freer. Normally Local associations are proud of their MP. Check out their profile (preserved here for posterity). 

As for their website, it has the biggest porkie of the lot. There is a recent post that says "Let's stop Labour strikes and build a better railway". Oddly, when I read the article there is not a single mention of Labour apart from the headline. There are many things that are simply not true in the article, but one statement directly affects air quality in Barnet so I will specifically mention that. The article states

That’s why over the next 3 years, we want to spend £35 billion maintaining and growing the network. We want to expand the rail map, with trains returning to places axed from the timetable after the Beeching cuts, with new stations from Northumberland to Devon, with electrification to get rid of slow and dirty diesels.

Now I follow transport as one of my key areas of interest. The Midland Mainline runs through the Borough. Dozens of 'Dirty Diesel' trains hurtle through every day. Why? Because the Conservatives halted the project to electrify the Midland Mainline, requiring retention of 'dirty diesel trains'. Specifically " On 27 July 2017 a further briefing paper was issued and the Midland Main Line had a section of its own.[18] This document, and the subsequent announcement by the new Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said the electrification scheme north of Kettering to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield had been cancelled and that bi-mode trains would be used."

Sadly, there are no bi-mode trains, so even though the electrification was completed as far as Kettering and Corby, trains travelling beyond these destinations run on diesel all of the way. This was nothing to do with Labour or the Unions. This was the Conservatives dropping a key project to improve the UK's infrastructure and lower pollution. It would have seen the end of diesel engines running through Mill Hill to St Pancras. Much as I'd love to ignore all this and enjoy the summer, in truth I find it sickening and I sincerely hope no one is taken in. 

If you think about it logically, the Tories posted a tweet opposing ULEZ and Tweet berating the Labour Council for not being greener. They face both ways on climate change, but when the facts are examined, they don't care. If they did, we'd see electric trains running to Sheffield on the Midland Mainline as we speak.  It seems to me that Grant Shapps is on a mission to be an even worse transport secretary than Chris Grayling (who cancelled the MML upgrade). That would take some doing.

I wrote a track with my Band, the False Dots discussing the state of Britains Railways, with some recent footage of 1960's vintage diesel engines passing through Mill Hill. Says it all really!

Monday 25 July 2022

The Capitaville Horror Show reaches it's inevitable conclusion

 As the new Barnet Labour administration act to wind up the One Barnet project and the huge Capita outsourcing experiment, I've found it really hard to find anything to say (other than 'I told you so' which isn't exactly exciting or enlightening). If the Barnet Conservatives had bothered to listen to me or voices such as John Dix (Mr Reasonable) or outsourcing expert Professor Dexter Whitfield, then the Council wouldn't be in the mess it is in now. Eight years ago, John Dix said these prophetic words as part of a series of films I made entitled Capita the Movie

I tried to get the financial support to make the film as a proper documentary, but sadly there were no rich benefactors willing to underwrite the costs of properly exposing the mess we were walking into. I pitched it to a couple of well known TV documentary series who told me "It's not good telly until the disaster happens". I get their point, but in some ways I understand based on what happened with the Y2K bug. In that case, the powers that be listened, the bugs were fixed (I know, I worked on it) and the worlds IT systems survived. Because the problem was dealt with in advance and properly managed, the now prevailing wisdom was that it was all a media hyped lie. If Barnet Council had listened to us, there would still be evangelical outsources claiming that Barnet could have saved billions if they'd not listened to 'those silly bloggers'. 

As the horror show unfolded, we saw ever more opaqueness from the Barnet Tories as they sought to obfuscate the mess they made. The evidence was there for all to see, but the powers that be in the council simply refused to admit there was a problem or release any proper accounts that showed the scale of the mess. Now the new administration has committed to undoing the mess. This will not be straightforward. Whole organisations have been dismantled and moved elsewhere Expertise has been lost and the staff who knew what they were doing have long since found new jobs. 

Everyone who has a stake in Barnet has a vested interest in making the new systems work. If they don't it will cost us more money and lead to even worser services, bigger potholes, more litter etc. When the Council were outsourcing, Barnet Unison made many sensible suggestions as to how money could be saved. I hope some of these are revisited and the council positively engage with the Unions. 

It is worth recalling that mass outsourcing did not start under a Tory administration. It was actually a Blairite initiative that set up Barnet Homes which became "The Barnet Group". This organisation is now in dispute with its own workers

I do hope that when Barnet Labour have sorted out Capita, they have a long, hard look at the structure of "The Barnet Group". I see no evidence that this has delivered what it was supposed to. These Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMO's) are simply overly bureaucratic monsters that seem to generate jobs for managers, accountants, lawyers and pen pushers, without seemingly getting to grip with their main job, in the case of The Barnet Group this is increasing provision of socially and affordable housing. It really is ridiculous that young people cannot afford to live in the Borough of Barnet unless the banks of Mummy and Daddy subsidises them

Sunday 24 July 2022

The tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 24th July 2022

 Hottest day ever rounded off with a biblical downpour, a massive music festival and the end of the school year. It's been a strange week. 

Highlights of my week was watching Hadley V Wingate & Finchley, the two best teams in the Borough of Barnet in a pre season friendly. Here is the pick of the goals.

How was your week? Here is my roundup of what the local Twitteratti have been up to

1. I'm going to start in Burnt Oak, with this amazing and evocative picture. For us old timers, the 140 and 52 bus were travel icons. I used to get the 52 to school at Orange Hill when it was raining. My mum took us to Heathrow on the 140 many times to watch the aeroplanes. Does anyone do that anymore. And in the background the original Tonibell Cafe, where the ice cream legend started

2.If you are interested in Cricklewood and its history, this is a great thread

3. The Road that time forgot in Mill Hill

4. Worth a look

5. It's that time of year when Donald starts waving his marrow around

6. This is a lovely tweet

7. Whilst in Golders Green Cemetery

8. We had some amazing local heroes up at Barnet fields this weekend

9. Still time to get a ticket for todays show!

10.And a local artwork has been completed. We think it looks spiffing!

That's all folks!

Saturday 23 July 2022

The Saturday list #354 - My favourite buildings in Mill Hill

 The Statue of St Joseph has returned to his perch on the former missionary college. It is without doubt my favourite building/landmark in Mill Hill. I have friends of all faiths and none and everyone I know loves the statue. It sort of says "You are home" when you go around the corner on the A41 and it looms into view. It got me thinking "What are my favourite buildings in Mill Hill"

Here's my list

1 St Josephs College. I rather like these pictures

my favourite picture that I took is this one of the Tower reflected in the pond in th grounds. This was taken around 1973 on an instamatic and is a bit faded but I still love it

2. Mill Hill's ULU Observatory. Lot's of great pics on Twitter. This may be my favourite

3. Another favourite is Clarence House on Mill Hill Circus Roundabout

4. I believe Lawrence Farmhouse is the oldest building in Mill Hill. I love it. I had some hippy friends who lived there before it became an office. The UFO mystery was never solved!

5. ST Michael and All Angels Church is a great classic Anglican Church, I love it most at Xmas!

6. This is my favourite building on the Broadway, at the corner of Station Road and The Broadway

7. The Fire Station is also a very handsome building, don't you think

8. As for modern industrial buildings, I love our new studio block. We tried to make it look as interesting as possible, whilst being functional

9. No list could be complete without the chapel by Angel Pond. It really looks lovely when the pond is full

10. And finally, I love Mill Hills bus station, it is a brutalist concrete structure to hold the motorway up, but it is also a great place to wait for a bus in the rain. When I was involved in the Mill Hill Neighbourhood Forum, people were always moaning that it was ugly and trying to work out how to hide it. I disagreed and thought it was magnificent. I think they should show films in the M&S car park on Saturday nights in the summer when the shop shuts!

Mill Hill to UCH #Lockdown series 7/5/2020

What are your favourite buildings?