Wednesday 21 December 2022

Where have all of the bloggers gone? And why Barnet still needs them

 There are times when I wonder if it's all worth the effort. Writing this blog takes a huge amount of effort, it is time consuming and can be very emotionally disturbing. Over the years, there have been important victories, many times I've been retrospectively proven right, the One Barnet outsourcing project being a prime example, but there is little satisfaction just being shown your right as you stare at the wreckage from a preventable car crash of a scheme. 

At one point, there were seven bloggers active in Barnet. There was this blog, Don't call me Dave, who was the former chair of the Chipping Tories, who'd realised before anyone else that they'd collectively gone bonkers, there was Dan Hope, another Chipping Tory who fell foul of the lunkheads who took over. It seems strange that Barnet blogging was mainly a Tory activity originally, with disaffected Tories putting the boot into their former mates. Sadly Dan Hope passed away and David Miller (AKA Don't call me Dave) moved to Brexitville (AKA Essex) and lost interest in Barnet. Trades Union activist Vikki Morris joined the fun and wrote an excellent blog, until she moved to the Midlands. Next to join in the fun was John Dix, AKA Mr Reasonable. John still writes excellent blogs, mostly about the mess that is CAPITA. John manages about one blog a month and they are worth a look. 

The next blog to start was one which sadly I am prevented from referring to. The writer of that blog started legal proceedings against me in 2019 as they objected to some of my comments on Twitter. I was advised to block them and not refer to them and cease all contact as a remedy to their complaint. About six months later they asked to resume contact, I asked for them to formally confirm in writing that the allegations they made were unfounded, which my legal advisor stated was necessary to resume contact, otherwise I could find myself in a difficult situation. They stated they would do this.  I then heard nothing. I still haven't apart from the odd jibe on twitter, people sometimes ask about, when they see them.  It is unfortunate, but I really can't say it bothers me. If, as they claimed, they have no issue with me, as they seem to tell people when asked, then putting this in writing would have happened long ago, if they were really bothered, wouldn't it? 

The next blog was the Mr Mustard blog. This is still active, but focusses on parking disputes rather than the workings of Barnet council mostly. 

Two years ago, Barnet got a new blog! The young man who reported the 2016 Freedom pass scandal to me started his own blog. Have a look

So that is the current state of Barnet blogging. It has very much run out of steam. It is understandable, it takes a lot of effort and is a thankless task. It requires a lot of work and when you lift stones up, you often find things you dont like. But this month, I've written two blogs about housing conditions. One for a vulnerable man in dangerous and sqaulid private housing and another about a young family in terrible conditions in a Barnet Homes property. I found writing both blogs very upsetting. However in both cases, things are being sorted out. If I've achieved nothing else this year, maybe I've helped a vulnerable man and a young family. I am rather hoping that shining a spotlight will encourage the council to take a wider look at how they manage both private and public owned housing in Barnet. I've long felt that Barnet is very lax in it's enforcement on all matters property related. I've also felt that they weren't interested in the conditions that the less well off members of our community live in. The new Labour administration has an opportunity to show they are different. I hope that the blogs I've written will help them in their assessment of the wider picture. The Tories were obsessed with regeneration and knocking everything down and rebuilding it. Much of this is not for people on low pay. This just makes matters worse. What we need is a proper social housing strategy. Blogs have a role in this. People contact me to write blogs when everything else fails. What is extraordinary is that once a blog appears, stuff gets done. I don't really want to do what councillors should do as casework. But when people are living in squalid conditions, what do you do? Whilst such things happen, we will still need people to write blogs about them.

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