Here in Barnet we are well practised in disliking Brian "Mr Toad" Coleman. We have many causes to resent him: for taking our money in allowances, and ignoring what we say, and being rude to us. We have had our bellyfull of Coleman and would dearly love to be rid of him.
As we know, he has other ponds to paddle in, other sources of cash to tap, other constituencies to offend. As well as being a councillor in Totteridge ward, he is the GLA member for the whole of Barnet and Camden. It is rumoured that he will not make the shortlist next time the Tory candidate for that post is chosen.
Let's hope so! In the meantime, alas, he can do untold damage to services that millions of Londoners rely on in his capacity as chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. (Just think of it: the emergency services in London are ultimately run by Brian Coleman.)
Boris Johnson is alleged to dislike Brian Coleman - join the club! Now get rid of him!
I went to the march then protest at LFEPA HQ today, organised by the London Region FBU. London's firefighters have been threatened with the sack unless they accept new shift patterns. The idea is to move from the day time shift and longer night time shift, to two 12-hour shifts. Firefighters would be expected to be on alert all night, instead of having standdown time when they can get vital rest: no human being operates as well at night as they do in the daytime. Management also hope they will be able to cut out some of the shifts altogether, that is, reduce fire cover.
I think that fully half of London's firefighters went on the march today; which is to say that all of London's firefighters who were not at work went on the march today. It was a really great sight, most were wearing their smart Brigade uniforms. Not only are people like Coleman reckless with firefighters' jobs and conditions of service, they are also gratuitously rude to firefighters. Today's demonstration was dignified. Firefighters are proud of what they do. For the most part, the public support them. The FBU had commissioned a poll which shows overwhelming public opposition to the LFEPA/LFB plans.
Hopefully, LFEPA will see sense and it won't come to a strike (Coleman will never see sense). But if it does come to a strike, I think the London firefighters will see it through, and I think the London public will back them.
And, yes, from what I saw today, London's firefighters really, really dislike Brian Coleman. Almost as much as we in Barnet do.
More pics at http://www.flickr.com/photos/11722019@N03/sets/72157624845022885/with/4996520628/ (please credit if you use any and you don't know me well: Vicki Morris).
|General secretary of the FBU Matt Wrack with the odious Mr Toad in the background|