Friday, 30 September 2011

Great People Everywhere, Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love Grahame Park Estate

Today is the final day of an exhibition at the RAF Museum put together by young people from Grahame Park estate. The exhibition is called the Grahame Park Estate Story. It's housed in the Aeronauts Interactive hall. The space rather dwarfs the exhibition, which is a shame, but the organisers are looking for new venues to host it now that its run at the RAF Museum has come to an end.

For more information, contact / tel. 020 8205 8341.

As you might imagine I am a bit namby-pamby about war (though not an out-and-out pacifist - remind me to tell you some time about the workers' bomb). And I loathe flying. Still, I can't help marvel at the aeronautic inventions and the sheer size of some of the monsters of the skies that human ingenuity has invented (cast aside thoughts that most of those on display were designed for the purpose of killing fellow humans).

Grahame Park estate was built on an old aerodrome. The history of development in this area is very much tied up with the history and development of aviation, both civilian and military. (I live in old RAF married quarters, of all places.)

One of the impressive, fairly new features of the RAF Museum is the complete reconstruction of the pioneering aviation factory established by Claude Grahame-White (which is where Grahame Park gets its name) in the early 20th century (he bought the site for his Grahame-White Aviation Co. in 1911, which makes this year another significant Barnet centenary).

Claude Grahame-White
A set of photos from my visit to the RAF Museum is available here.

I didn't take many photos of planes - certainly not of the most recent warplanes. However, there are a couple of pics of, to my untutored eye, improbable looking flying machines from the Grahame-White factory. Plus a couple of nice old bikes, for Mr Mustard's delectation (after the week he's had)... And a few that relate to the history of the area. Plus, naturally, the pictures I took of the Grahame Park exhibition.

Factory of Grahame-White Aviation Co. reconstructed at RAF Museum
(A curious aside: I've often wondered at the rapid popularity of Belmont Children's Farm - now set to close since the owners lost their retrospective planning application. The Farm seems to have been masters at favourable PR: newspapers love pics of newborn lambs, etc. Someone also seems to have nailed an advert for the Farm to the wall in a corner of the Aeronauts Interactive hall, a prime spot for catching the attention of young visitors. I wonder whether the Museum ever noticed, and how long it will remain there now the Farm is closing?!)

Advert for Belmont Children's Farm nailed to the wall in the RAF Museum

Eating cat food off Brian Coleman's face

I once did a post called 'the Friday joke' but, tbh, I'm not all that good at remembering jokes, so this feature immediately fell by the wayside. Rog T does Friday jokes though. I look forward to today's side-splitting offering (seriously, they are usually pretty funny).

Today, however, although I can't summon up a joke, I can offer an off-the-wall observation from real life.

Recently, two cats have come into my charge. The cats are in my living room right now, as I've heard that you shouldn't let them out for a while when they move home in case they try to 'home' back to where you brought them from.

If they left here and headed due north they would get to Milton Keynes eventually, I suppose, although they would have all sorts of scrapes in between. I digress.

In preparing for their arrival, and slightly to my surprise, I find that my cupboards are not groaning with copies of the Guardian to put down under their food bowls or line their litter tray with. Thus I had to break up my precious collection of back issues of the Barnet Press and Hendon Times, kept because they had articles relating to the local campaigns I have been involved in: sheltered housing wardens, Future Shape/One Barnet...

It was with some satisfaction that, the other evening, while keeping the cats company and watching "Newsnight", I noticed that the moggies were eating their food off an article written by Brian Coleman. In their feeding frenzy they had flicked some large chunks of Whiskas jelly onto the newspaper and a picture of his grouchy face.

The title of the article (a column piece) was "Let the punishment fit the crime". I neglected to read the article to find out who Brian thought should be punished, for what, and how. (His latest bĂȘte noir is utility companies that dig up the road, his basic rule seeming to be slate anyone that inconveniences Brian Coleman in howsoever mild a way.)

There has recently been speculation on another Barnet blog about whether Coleman, an "active Methodist", can expect to be let into Heaven when he expires or whether he is destined for Another Place. If they are preparing a place for him Down Below, I wonder whether a fitting punishment for Coleman - let the punishment fit the crime - would be to have a crowd of moggies eat cat food off his face for all eternity.

My hilarity at the thought of this is tempered by knowing that, since I am an unbeliever, I will be there with him, in the Other Place, for all eternity forced to watch it happen.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Our Barnet residents' forum, Tuesday 4 October - all welcome!

This post is copied from the website of the Barnet Alliance for Public Services:
Our Barnet residents' forum, Tuesday 4 October - all welcome!

We are concerned by the lack of consultation there has been with residents over important issues including:
- mass privatisation of council services
- hikes in charges to residents for such things as adult social care and CPZ parking.

Barnet council's own residents' forums have been useful meetings for residents to raise concerns - but in recent months they have been partially muzzled, with restrictions on what issues residents can raise, and other limits. We urge residents to challenge the changes and to keep using the residents' forums.

But we need to supplement this with meetings organised by us. That is why we have organised this event...

All residents are invited to the "Our Barnet" residents' forum on Tuesday 4 October.

The meeting is from 7-9pm, at the Greek Cypriot Community Centre, 2 Britannia Road, London N12 9RU.

Councillors, MPs and senior council officers have been invited to answer your questions on any topic that concerns you in our borough. You can submit questions on the night or via email:

See the leaflet here for more details. Please print off and invite friends, neighbours... OUR BARNET RESIDENTS FORUM (printable leaflet)

Monday, 26 September 2011

Barnet Bloggers write to Eric Pickles about lack of transparency at Barnet Council

Dear Mr Pickles,

In June last year, as part of your stated policy of commitment to the principle of ‘localism’ and greater accountability by local authorities to the communities they represent, you issued the following statement:
New era of transparency will bring about a revolution in town hall openness and accountability

“Getting council business out in the open will revolutionise local government. Local people should be able to hold politicians and public bodies to account over how their hard earned cash is being spent and decisions made on their behalf. They can only do that effectively if they have the information they need at their fingertips.

“The public should be able to see where their money goes and what it delivers. The swift and simple changes we are calling for today will unleash an army of armchair auditors and quite rightly make those charged with doling out the pennies stop and think twice about whether they are getting value for money.”
As part of your programme of action to make local authorities more accountable you have created an obligation for them to disclose details of expenditure and have expressed the intention to compel councils to allow citizen journalists to film, photograph and tweet reports of council meetings.

In conjunction with these new directives, you have expressed the wish that residents use existing legislation in order to scrutinise the processes of local government, including, most importantly, the rights given in the Freedom of Information Act of 2000.

All of these suggestions are commendable, and should indeed further extend the powers of scrutiny to local communities.

It is deeply regrettable, therefore, that here in the London Borough of Barnet, rather than embrace a policy of greater transparency, the Conservative administration is making every effort to resist any obligation to be more accountable to its electorate, and is, in direct opposition to your wishes, obstructing the efforts of the armchair auditors that you so applaud.

In a speech at the CIPFA conference in July this year you made the following remark:
I was shocked by a recent case in Barnet. The council had hired a private security firm, MetPro, which included “keeping an eye” on local bloggers - at a cost of over a million pounds. The contract had been awarded without a tendering exercise, without a written contract, and no proper invoicing. An internal audit showed there “serious deficiencies in current procurement arrangements”, and there were no guarantees that against a repeat of such practices.

Irony of ironies - this misuse of public money was uncovered thanks to the determination of local bloggers and activists, including Barnet Eye, Mr Mustard, and Mrs Angry (as she had every right to be.) Exactly the same people MetPro snooped upon.

I've got news for Barnet. Live blogging from council meetings. Microjournalism. Call it what you like. It's here to stay. In fact this citizen samizdat - local people reporting on their local council's triumphs and shortcomings - is the perfect counterblast to town hall Pravdas.
As you know, Mr Pickles, here in Barnet bloggers have had to fight for the right to film council meetings, and we have made huge efforts to uncover the ‘deficiencies’ which lay at the heart of the MetPro affair, as well as bringing to the attention of the community a number of other serious issues of concern to all residents.

Earlier this year, in defiance of the move to greater transparency and accountability, and to a more meaningful engagement with citizens, we have seen Barnet’s Conservative administration attack the local constitution, restricting the right of elected councillors to speak at meetings, and worst of all, censoring the local Residents Forums so that absolutely no discussion of any council ‘policy’ may now be raised, nor any issue alluded to within a six month period be submitted for inclusion. These and other draconian and undemocratic regulations are read out in detail at every Forum, and their imposition has caused enormous anger and resentment amongst residents.

Even more worrying, perhaps, is that the culture of secrecy and fear of transparency which is so endemic in this local authority has now extended to the council’s flagrant abuse of the Freedom of Information Act.

Barnet bloggers and armchair auditors – and other residents – who have submitted FOI requests to Barnet Council are increasingly having their enquiries obstructed or needlessly delayed, particularly enquiries on issues of political or financial sensitivity.

Two FOI requests submitted by residents in regard to the MetPro affair, for example, were only answered a few days ago, on 16th September, after an inexplicable delay of several months.

One request had been made in early April, the other in early May. As you will know, the statutory period within which responses must be made is 20 days.

Another request made in relation to potential declarations of interest between senior officers of the council and a major private company was ignored for months and then obstructed on a pretext, despite a current outsourcing tender process for a package of services worth a staggering £750 million in total, in which this influential company is now one of those shortlisted.

In Barnet there is no open declaration of interests, gifts, or hospitality given to senior officers, and one response given to an FOI request by a blogger in regard to such declarations was sent with the identities of donors withheld, invalidating the information and again obstructing the purpose of the enquiry.

The FOI request in regard to the tendering company was reported to the external auditors at a meeting in July: despite an assurance that the issue would be investigated by them under the terms of their remit, we are not aware of any progress in their enquiry.

After struggling to hold the authority to account for FOI responses which were withheld, delayed, or misleading, one Barnet blogger has recently been sent, in reply to a perfectly valid question regarding a hugely over budget IT system, a response refusing to address his request for information, on the grounds that it is ‘vexatious’ and because of the alleged number of previous enquiries.

In Barnet, bloggers, armchair auditors and residents are obliged to resort to making an increasingly large number of FOI requests in response to an obstinate refusal by the authority to comply with the intentions of your stated commitment to greater openness, accountability and transparency, and in order to place the necessary information in the public domain, in a medium easily accessible to all.

Despite the demonstrably inadequate state of preparation revealed by the MetPro audit report, and despite the concerns of so many backbench Conservative councillors, a highly controversial programme of massive outsourcing is being promoted by Barnet’s senior management team and council leadership as the keystone policy of the ‘easycouncil’, One Barnet agenda. There could hardly be a time in which a need for openness and accountability could be more pressing. Public confidence in the governance of this borough is, however, at an all time low, and we, as residents and citizen journalists therefore ask that you, in defence of your stated policy of localism, investigate the obstructive and anti-democratic practices employed by this authority in a sustained attempt to prevent proper scrutiny of its actions and decisions.

Yours sincerely,

Derek Dishman
John Dix
Vicki Morris
Theresa Musgrove
Roger Tichborne

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Everything in the Garden Suburb is lovely - includes pictures

The other day, bravely deviating from my normal path over Hampstead Heath (being unemployed has its compensations), I explored the Hampstead Heath Extension.

A whole new world opened up for me. I finally grasped, which I had only really suspected before, how nice it would be to live in Hampstead Garden Suburb. For starters Suburb dwellers have their very own 'Garden' gate onto Hampstead Heath, aptly named Heathgate. Here Suburb dwellers in their droves step out onto the Heath to exercise their spaniels.

Heathgate, looking from the Hampstead Heath Extension towards St Jude-on-the-Hill
The approach to the Suburb from the Heath across what is effectively a very large and well kept village green affords lovely views. You might think you were approaching a hilltop English village.

Approach to Hampstead Garden Suburb from the Hampstead Heath Extension
This 'village' church, St Jude-on-the-Hill, is not so twee once you get up close, however. (You can see it in the film "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows".) At the top of Heathgate is Central Square, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Here the atmosphere is more like a cathedral precinct, with St Jude's dominating.

St Jude-on-the-Hill: Reverend Benjamin, eat your heart out
Lutyens' design also includes a rather uglier but no less imposing Free Church.

The Free Church, Hampstead Garden Suburb
In one corner of the square there is also a fittingly modest Quaker Meeting House.

Quaker Meeting House, Hampstead Garden Suburb
The Henrietta Barnett school is on one side of the square. Although it looks older than the other buildings, the school is another Lutyens' design; it was founded in 1911 thus is celebrating its centenary year. Henrietta Barnett set up the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust in 1906 and was the Suburb's founder.

The Henrietta Barnett School
Henrietta Barnett's story is interesting; she was a wealthy social reformer, who lived for a while in St Jude's parish in the impoverished East End and founded the Whitechapel Art Gallery. (One of her quainter achievements is establishing the Metropolitan Association for Befriending Young Servants.)

The flower beds in Central Square are lovely, filled with ageing marigolds when I visited.

Oranges and lemons? But the bells of St Jude's don't ring: a stipulation of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust
Other pleasant features of the Suburb include a small wood - called Big Wood - and a, presumably, tiny wood called Little Wood. I didn't find Market Place with its under-threat library on this visit, but I am sure I will wander that way again soon.

What would Henrietta Barnett think of Garden Suburb now? She might feel socially at ease with its mostly well-heeled inhabitants but that the social reforming aim behind her work had been forgotten.

There are a few more pics from my Suburb foray here.

Volunteer staff in Barnet libraries - the union view

Barnet Unison branch, which represents a number of the Barnet libraries staff, have asked their members what they think of Barnet council's plan to use more volunteers to staff libraries.

Here is a summary report of the consultation:
In September 2010 consultation began on the Library Strategic Review. In Barnet UNISON’s report submitted to the Cabinet meeting on 26 July 2011 we expressed concerns about the proposals to use volunteers in Barnet libraries. At the end of August 2011 management presented the details of the proposed volunteer programme to the trade unions and to service managers the following week. Since then Barnet UNISON has been consulting with its members on the proposals and the following questions and concerns have been raised. These have been put forward to libraries senior management and we await a response.

Of particular concern are:

i) The creation of roles for volunteers that cover key functions of employed library staff and grounds maintenance staff.

ii) Lack of consultation over changes to terms and conditions of library staff.

iii) The implementation and ongoing costs of the volunteer programme, along with lack of financial analysis of said programme.

iv) Increased workload for an ever decreasing workforce that will be placed on them as a result of having to train and supervise volunteers along with potential for high turnover and lack of consistency of volunteers.

v) Fears of staff that they will lose their jobs to volunteers.

vi) Fears that the excellent standard of Barnet Library service will decrease as volunteers are used to provide the services provided by experienced, professional staff whose posts are to be deleted.
You can read the full report here.

Friday, 23 September 2011

It's the Coleman Countdown

"It won't be long now, love."
I was walking through Trafalgar Square today and spotted this clock. It appears to be counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds till Brian Coleman loses his GLA seat for Barnet and Camden, and London is rid of this monster forever. (The clock's out a bit, but this is Boris's London.)

After he loses, Coleman will be back to make more mischief on his home stomping ground of Barnet, but we have broad shoulders here. We are ready to make that sacrifice for the greater good.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Colindale: it has a tube station, and flats for sale - er, that's it

I've been wondering what sort of a write-up estate agents might give Colindale as they strain to flog the many new flats being built in the area. I could only imagine that it would be something like this - if you live in Colindale or nearby, you will guffaw at the prose. Here's a sample:
There are plenty of excellent pubs and restaurants in Colindale, especially in the bustling surroundings of Edgware Road, while the generally friendly atmosphere makes for a pleasant shopping experience.

Nearby attractions include the Royal Air Force Museum London, which boasts an historical aircraft collection and an extensive film library.

Admission is to the museum is free and events take place there all year round.

Watling Market, which takes place weekly in Burnt Oak station car park, is also well worth a look, especially for those with an eye for a bargain.
Now, I don't think Colindale's all bad, but it is, more than any place I know, a work-in-progress. I think the best thing that you can say for it in its current condition is that it's accessible. Yes, you can get on a tube station and get out of there for your entertainment, fine dining, views, nature walks, etc.

I think a truer description of Colindale would be: it has a tube station; if you buy one of our flats, you can sleep there.

Seeing this story about how Barnet council want to decant the Orion school from Lanacre Avenue onto a bigger site currently occupied by a sports and social club, shows the problem they have. They are packing in the new flats, but there is sod all in the way of infrastructure or facilities for all the new residents.

In providing a school for the rising number of children, they simultaneously take away one of the few leisure venues in the area.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Dale Farm: stand up and be counted

Gypsies or Travellers divide opinion. Half of people hate them and think it's fine to call them any name under the sun including criminal, thug, etc. While the other half of people hate them and are more circumspect in their remarks.

Is there anyone that actually is prepared to say they like them? Go on, there must be someone.

Like any minority or 'outsider' group, the whole lot tends to get collectively branded according to what one of them has done. A good, socialist friend of mine has a negative image of gypsies because one of them called him a paki on his way to school. I have a positive image of them, perhaps because of my own early encounters.

At one of my junior schools, I had a mile walk along a country road to the school. Another mile up the road was a traveller site. As I walked to school I would sometimes be joined by a small boy from the site called Christopher. He was a delightful little boy, cheerful and friendly and playful. As we neared the school other kids would call him names, however. I felt ashamed though did nothing to defend him.

Two older gypsy girls joined the school. They split up into different classes. I was asked to sit next to the girl who joined our class, when other children wouldn't. I wasn't some kind of anti-racist at that age, I was just a bit more civil than other children, possibly because I'd moved schools a few times myself.

Whatever you think of gypsies, it's clear that policy towards travellers and gypsies in this country needs drastic improvement. The traveller site at Dale Farm contravenes planning regulations - but so do many things that people build (the celebrated Belmont Farm in Mill Hill, for example). But does that mean it should now be expunged from the earth?

Councils have ducked their legal obligations to provide official sites - Barnet is in the premier rank of offenders in this regard, providing no sites. Councils have simply sat on their hands for so long that now the Tories have declared the targets for building sites a dead letter: the Localism Bill would remove obligations on local authorities to provide sites.

Barnet Councillor Brian Coleman has made ignorant and offensive remarks about travellers that he simply wouldn't get away with saying about any other group. Few have troubled to contradict him.

The evictions at Dale Farm will divide opinion, and there won't be entirely rational reasons for people deciding "which side they are on". I have to confess that if I didn't have so much going on in my personal life right now, I would probably be down at Dale Farm this week manning the barricades; yes, I'd be one of those activists who have lent their expertise to the travellers in the fight to defend their homes.

Friday, 16 September 2011

I am not a number! I am a free wo/man! Or: The Prisoner comes to Barnet

Today a film crew has been at the North London Business Park, using the hillocks and clumps of trees, against a backdrop of modern council buildings, as the set for some TV programme or film or other. (Mind the goose shit.)

Thus Barnet council staff have had some light relief today - and, God knows, they need it - guessing what the film crew are shooting. My money is on a remake of 1960s' series "The Prisoner." The plot, as outlined by Wikipedia, is:
The series follows an unnamed British agent who abruptly resigns his job, and then finds himself held captive in a mysterious seaside "village" that is isolated from the mainland by mountains and sea. The Village is further secured by numerous monitoring systems and security forces, including a mysterious balloon-like device called Rover that captures those who attempt escape.

The agent encounters the Village's population, hundreds of people from all walks of life and cultures, all seeming to be tranquilly living out their lives. As they do not use names, they have each been assigned a number. The agent inquires of the Village's chief administrator, Number Two, "Who is Number One?", to which Number Two responds, "You are Number Six". The dialogue continues, "We want information", to which the agent responds "You won't get it!". "By hook or by crook, we will..."

The task of attempting to extract information from Number Six is carried out by the ever-changing "Number Two", acting as supposed proxy to the unseen "Number One". As the series unfolds, the audience learns that the Village authorities have other interests in Number Six aside from the knowledge he possesses: interests that often spare Number Six from the more destructive information-gathering techniques employed by the Village authorities upon other inmates.

Number Six, distrusting of anyone involved with the Village, refuses to co-operate or provide answers. Alone, he struggles with multiple goals: determine for which side the Village works, remain defiant to its imposed authority, concoct his own plans for escape, learn all he can about the Village and subvert its operation. Some of his schemes, while not resulting in an escape, do lead to the dismissal of an incumbent Number Two on two occasions. By the end of the series the administration, becoming desperate for Number Six's knowledge and fearful of his growing influence in the Village, take drastic measures that threaten the lives of Number Six, Number Two, and the rest of the Village.

The series features striking and often surreal storylines, and themes include hypnosis, hallucinogenic drug experiences, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination. A major theme of the show is individualism versus collectivism.
Does that ring any bells? Of course, in my version, the Prisoner (played by?) is a kind of Everyman, who could stand for any Barnet resident or council employee trying to make sense of the mysterious workings and plans of the powers at the heart of Barnet council.

There are other differences. The original series was filmed in Portmeirion, a Welsh seaside village. I'm guessing that when the film company signed on with Barnet they thought they would be getting Sandbanks as part of the deal, but this is the easyCouncil, so you gets what you pay for - in place of a stunning Green Flag beach in Dorset, a soulless business park on the Barnet/Enfield border.

There are some brilliant snippets of dialogue from the original series on this Wikiquotes page. Eg,
Number Six: Where am I?
Number Two: In the Village.
Number Six: What do you want?
Number Two: Information.
Number Six: Whose side are you on?
Number Two: That would be telling. We want information… information… information.
Number Six: You won't get it.
Number Two: By hook or by crook, we will.
Number Six: Who are you?
Number Two: The new Number Two.
Number Six: Who is Number One?
Number Two: You are Number Six.
Number Six: I am not a number! I am a free man!
Number Two: [laughs]
Number Six: I will not make any deals with you. I've resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own!
Computer Attendant: Good morning - I've brought you the activities prognosis you ordered.
New Number Two: Oh, good - how accurate are these? What is the percentage of right and wrong?
Computer Attendant: I'm afraid we don't know that.
New Number Two: Why not?
Computer Attendant: Well, twice we programmed our machines for a percentile appraisal of their own efficiencies. Each time they refused to give back the requested information.
New Number Two: Refused? How?
Computer Attendant: Simply by not returning the data to us.
New Number Two: They'll be wanting their own trade union next.
You get the picture. What film would you re-make at NLBP?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Barnet Eye interview with John Burgess, Barnet Unison

The Barnet Eye blogger Roger Tichborne has a very good interview with the secretary of Barnet Unison, John Burgess, about the strike action yesterday. If you haven't seen it yet, do have a look!

I expect Roger would be more than happy to interview senior council management - Nick Walkley, the Chief Exec, in the first place - and members of the leading Conservative group to get their side of the story...

No? Don't fancy it? Why not? You plan to put the bulk of council services out to tender, surely residents deserve a few minutes of your precious time to tell us why you think it's such a good idea.

Anyway, here's that interview with someone who is prepared to face the public.

How the Tories avoided debating One Barnet - a council report in 27 tweets

On Tuesday 13 September I was doing the day job, so I could only follow Barnet Unison's strike on Twitter! I learned that management did carry out their threatened lock-out: staff due to take a half-day strike were turned away from their desks from the moment they turned up.

Unfazed, they went to join fellow Unison members on the picket lines at the entrances to the North London Business Park. The pickets were observed by highly paid Assistant Directors - good use of their time?

Two coaches came to take the strikers around the borough to talk to residents about the council's crazy One Barnet outsourcing plan and distribute the Our Barnet newspaper.

In the evening I slipped away from work and went up to join them at the rally outside Hendon Town Hall, before the council meeting. I took some pictures of the rally; you can see them here.

After the rally, a few public went into the public gallery for the council meeting - it was not very full.

Mrs Angry, for one, who usually writes a comprehensive blog report of council meetings, could not attend this evening.

Assuming the role of Barnet Alliance tweetmistress for the evening I tweeted the proceedings using my creaky old mobile - there's nothing smart about my phone! I have posted the tweets below, to serve as a set of cryptic minutes.

If you are unfamiliar with Twitter, you can see the sort of things that are possible with it - warning, I am a rank amateur.

If you want to follow the Barnet Alliance on Twitter we are @BarnetAlliance. Tweets are usually more cogent than these ones were! I was tweeting as fast as I could! Barnet Unison are @barnet_unison.

I don't know what happened after the half-time interval at the council meeting, because I went for some supper in the noodle bar opposite the Town Hall. I learn later - via Twitter - that the Labour group walked out from the second half in protest at the way their Opposition debate on easyCouncil/One Barnet was cut short by the mayor, contravening the constitution.

I must say, council leader Richard Cornelius's defence of One Barnet was distinctly lukewarm. If the Tories are as divided over the wisdom of this, essentially, officer-driven programme as is rumoured, I'm not surprised they didn't want to talk about it. But it was shabby truncating the discussion.

The vast bulk of council services would be put out to tender under One Barnet; it deserves vastly more democratic scrutiny than it is getting. The Barnet strikers reported they were surprised how little residents know about One Barnet, as they met them around the borough today. Wake up, Barnet council - if you won't tell residents about One Barnet, the unions will have to!
A council report in 27 tweets (items nearest the top happened last so it's easiest to start at the bottom and read up)

Breaktime, barnet tweet service ends.

Barry rawlings: thatcher broke britain. Proud 2 stand beside unions. [Debate cut short bcos tories cant b arsed with it.]

The most unconvinced and unconvincing defence of #onebarnet from @barnetcouncil leader cornelius.

BarnetAlliance to self: this was Cornelius' sly dig at #NickWalkley. Probably done for public consumption, but fun even so!

Not mad keen on complicated flowcharts, mr walkley. Few wd argue with working with partners. We r pragmatic...

Cornelius: real villains of the piece r tony blair and gordon brown. Lot of waffle after that.

AM: Cabinet dont have a handle on their services. Staff r striking 4 quality of services.

JC: Only people who benefit r multinationals. Alison moore now...

Jack Cohen: tories r unconvinced one barnet can deliver, staff r dedicated, shdn't b outsourced.

New relationship with citizens: largest consultation ever over libraries [shame they ignore results].

@cllrrobertrams replies with a bit of union bashing. Cannot answer q of where easyccl savings come from.

Planning savings wd have come from increased revenue that wd have happened anyway.

Opposn item: easyccl is waste of money, flogging services off cheap, alienating staff + residents.

Thomas accepts Palmer's amendment if he'll amend it 2 say look at moving 2 cttee system. He does, so it's accepted.

Rowan Turner [where's our banner?]: localism bill will disperse power from centre 2 representative cllrs.

New corporate plan will only have 40pp says danielseal. All about how everyone treats eachother. Light-on-content speech!

Palmer moving an amendmt 2 tories' motion on localism bill: return 2 cttee system asap.

Lord Palmer asks why residents don't attend ccl mtgs. Problem with leader + cabinet system. Scrutiny inadeq

Motions @barnetcouncil: corporate plan - some targets shd b dropped [which?]

Friern b. library, nth finch, HGS: gap in provision will b as short as poss - @cllrrobertrams

BrianColeman: glad there r no silly cycling lanes in #barnet.

Police reviewing no. of brothels in the boro (predictacble titters)

Police cuts q by labour. Fall of 26 police 34 pcso in #barnet. Longstaff says no cuts...police r recruiting.

Davey has called Cooke a liar. Apparently he meant Johnson. Can't keep up...

Artsdepot agreed to library? robertrams: working up an agreement...

Allotments all 2 b selfmanaged by end of year in #barnet

In ccl mtg after v successful rally at end of v successful #barnetstrike day. BrianColeman pompous tone part. grating 2day for some reason.

Monday, 12 September 2011

The fight of the Barnet Unison branch is our fight too!

According to the Times series, Barnet council thought better of their half-baked plan to seek an injunction against the half-day strike by Unison members tomorrow.
Councillor Daniel Thomas, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Resources and Performance, said the action was not being pursued.

“In situations such as these the council considers all options, the possibility of seeking an injunction was under consideration but ultimately it was decided not to pursue that course of action at this time."
Times series article here.

And fears that the council might be thinking of de-recognising Unison have also not materialised. The Barnet Press got this statement from the council:
A council spokeswoman said... “There are no plans to derecognise any trade union currently recognised by the council. Indeed we have developed proposals for ensuring continued union recognition for staff in any services that may be outsourced in the future.”
It's not all good news, however. The council still looks like it wants to impose its latest offer on staff, rather than continue negotiations.

It is also threatening to dock a full day's pay from anyone observing the half-day strike. And it intends to make sure that any Unison member who wants to take part in this strike cannot do half a day's work tomorrow, even if they want to, by refusing to let them onto the premises. (I understand the technical term for this is 'lock-out' - now there's a term that won't have been heard in a long time in Barnet!)

Barnet Press article here.

By their cack-handed performance over the last few days, council senior management, and their political masters in the leading Conservative group, have probably helped to bolster Unison members' resolve, rather than undermine it.

This evening Unison have sent out information about what their members should do tomorrow to support the industrial action.
UNISON advice to those not balloted

Those of you who have not been balloted are advised to continue with your normal duties and responsibilities on the 13th September.

UNISON members should not take on any additional responsibilities being given to them directly as a result of colleagues' industrial action. Staff should not be moved from the duties they would normally have carried out in order to cover colleagues' work and frustrate their industrial action. Members who are under pressure to cover should contact their UNISON rep, branch or region for further advice and support.

Members are reminded that due to industrial relations legislation only those employees who have been involved in a legal ballot are allowed to take industrial action.

If you want to send a message of support to the strikers tomorrow please email the branch at

The decision to take strike action is not something to take lightly; however, as our members have seen over the last week with the erection of billboards around NLBP, the Council seems determined to try and intimidate our members into accepting their fate, discouraging them from taking part in the strike action.

Picket lines

* There will be picket lines outside North London Business Park - Oakleigh Road North and Brunswick Park entrances

* Picket line hours: 7-10am and 4-6pm

I hope all our UNISON members will support the strikers and offer verbal support as you pass them on the picket line tomorrow.

I hope you will join me at the mass rally outside Hendon Town Hall from 5.30-7pm. We are providing a coach to take staff to Hendon. It will be outside NLBP and will leave at 5.45pm.

John Burgess, branch secretary
A group of residents involved in the anti-cuts group, Barnet Alliance, will visit the picket lines tomorrow and join the rally outside Hendon Town Hall.

Please come and show your support for the staff who are striking. In the first place, they are doing it to save their own jobs and stop their pay and employment conditions being worsened as they move to the private sector. But they are also taking a stand over the quality of services.

The One Barnet Programme will make services more remote, less responsive. The much-vaunted savings are highly unlikely ever to materialise. What we will get instead is services run by private companies looking to cut corners in order to boost their own profits. There is nothing in this for residents.

The fight of the Barnet Unison branch is our fight too!

Barnet council seeking to dock a day's pay for a half-day strike - Unison will make up any difference

I'm passing on a message from Barnet Unison this morning, as it seems that the council wants to dock a day's pay from Unison members taking a half-day strike tomorrow. Here is the branch's message for those due to take strike action.
Dear Members,

I wanted to write to you all and try to provide some clarification and reassurance regarding the very fierce conversation that has been taking place between UNISON and the Council.

I recognise that you have been bombarded with a mass of communications that will have been very confusing throughout what has been a very fast moving week.

This morning UNISON members have all received a letter from the Council threatening staff that if they take strike action tomorrow they will be deducted a full day’s pay regardless whether they work until 1pm.

Furthermore I am hearing that staff are being told that there will be managers on the gates of NLBP to check staff in. If staff do not sign a register stating they will not be taking half day strike action they will be sent home.

The Council is trying to impose what used to be called a ‘Lock out’!

As a UNISON member it was agreed by all that you would take half a day and therefore lose half a day’s pay. That is what most reasonable employers would have deducted under these circumstances. However the Councils actions are neither proportionate and reasonable.

The lateness at which the Council have given this letter demonstrates they fear that UNISON members will all walk out tomorrow.

I can confirm UNISON will make up the cost of any financial loss up until 1pm on Tuesday 13 September.

Messages of support are flooding in from the community and other trade unions.
“As a Barnet resident and public sector employee I wanted to send a quick email to express my support for you and your members and the proposed “Barnet Independence Day” action on Tuesday. As someone who has experienced being outsourced but who was then fortunate enough to get back into the public sector, my experience tells me that it would be inconceivable for a contractor to take over delivery on the scale intended by the London Borough of Barnet without there being both a degradation of services and in the terms of conditions for staff who are transferred; this is how private companies make their profit from such contracts.

"Hopefully your campaign will open a few more Barnet residents eyes to what is going on and more importantly, to what we might end up with in Barnet in terms of a service from our local authority. I wish you and Barnet Unison all the best and will try and join you at the Town Hall for at least part of the rally on Tuesday evening.”
I have recently had a message of support from the PCS union. They recently won a battle with their employer who was seeking to transfer their jobs out of the country. Members all voted to take strike action and they won.

Tomorrow is your chance to make your voice heard loud and clear.

Best wishes
John Burgess
Branch Secretary

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Brian Coleman - a global watchword for political greed

It's been a heavy week for me, personally and politically. Next week looks like being just as gruelling. Many Barnet council staff have been feeling the heat from their managers, and in the coming days must dip into their reserves of courage. So this is just what we need for a Sunday evening, to lift our spirits and remind us why we fight on.

Yes, word of the venality, the personal greed, the ignominy of Barnet's most famous son, Councillor Brian Coleman, has now reached as far as the Far East. Brian Coleman is now a global watchword for political greed.

I came across this report on the website of the Malaysian Sun. Enjoy - even as you are, of course, appalled:
Richard Orange was at the Centre of Investigative Journalism in London three years ago where about 50 of us were attending a dour lecture on local council funds.

It may have interested locals as the laws provided them the right to inspect accounts and demand explanations even from the guys who approved the accounts – the auditors.

But sitting with him over a beer in the evenings, sharing the Malaysian experience of extravagance, what he spoke about makes our councillors appear as neophytes compared to the antics and frolics of some members of British local councils.

Orange is no ordinary Joe. He provides expert advice on the operation of national audit regulations governing access to public accounts and has already taken one local authority to the High Court over its failure to release financial data to taxpayers, and recently unearthed a corrupt land deal which led to the imprisonment of an East Midlands council leader.

He gave several leads on extravagance following the decision by the central government to slash its funding to local governments.

Councils, in turn were forced to cut their budgets and some even threatened to close down public amenities like libraries and recreational facilities and also charge for entry to parks and museums.

But given access to information, the excesses of some councils and their members began to make people wonder if they had elected the right people to run their councils.

Because of easy access to information, the public discovered that Brian Coleman, the Tory councillor for Barnet used almost £3,500 (RM16,714) of taxpayers' money last year for journeys that included ferrying his mother to events in taxis.

He claimed the expenses as chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. Of the eight members on the authority, only two others claimed any expenses whatsoever and the second highest claim was almost 10 times less than Coleman's.

In 2008, Coleman, who is said to earn almost £120,000 a year, was criticised for running up a taxi bill of £8,231 as an assembly member, including a £656 bill on one day. He was nicknamed "grab-a-cab Coleman" by his colleagues who use public transport or bicycles.

His latest expenses reveal he claimed nearly £700 on congestion charge fees last year. At the same time he was spending hundreds of pounds of taxpayers' money on taxis, some with his mother Gladys, 88, who often accompanied him to formal events.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Defend our services! Back Barnet Unison!

Barnet council senior management certainly have done their best to sow confusion this week, with the two versions of the letter they sent to staff due to take a half-day's strike action on Tuesday. Are they or aren't they seeking an injunction against the strike, ie, to ban it? We can't be sure.

What I read into the email they sent to all staff is that they intend to impose their most recent offer on those staff who find themselves transferred to a private sector employer. Their message to staff seems to be: like it or lump it.

It seems they can't be bothered to negotiate with the staff's representative unions any longer (not that their heart ever seemed to be in the talks that they did have). It's too much like hard work; they have some council services to flog off!

Much easier for them, apparently, to tell some fibs: they say the key union involved (Unison) failed to put the offer to staff - in fact, the union understood that the offer was embargoed - by the council.

The clearest message of support needs to go to the staff from residents worried about the One Barnet (mass outsourcing) Programme. And from other trade unionists, in the borough and elsewhere. We should get behind the 400 or so staff who will go on a half-day strike this Tuesday.

Our services will be better quality, more responsive if they remain in-house.

Please send messages of support to the union via branch secretary John Burgess: And please come to the lobby of the council meeting, 5.30-7pm, Hendon Town Hall, The Burroughs, NW4 4BG this Tuesday 13 September.

Barnet Unison's press release regarding Tuesday's strike
6 September 2011

On Tuesday 13 September up to 400 UNISON members working across the following services will be taking strike action:

Trading Standards & Licensing, Land Charges, Planning & Development, Building Control & Structures, Environmental Health, Highways Strategy, Highways Network Management, Highways Traffic & Development, Highways Transport & Regeneration, Strategic Planning & Regeneration, Cemeteries & Crematoria, Parking Services, Revenues & Benefits.

The Trades Dispute concerns the identity of the employer. Barnet Council is promoting the One Barnet Programme which is just a ‘remix version’ of the ‘contracting out’ ideology from the 1980s. There are already several contracts out for consultation with the private sector. The value of the contracts (fast approaching almost £2 billion) has already attracted the big private sector FAT CATS.

Up to 70% of the council workforce could be transferred to the private sector in little more than 16 months' time.

Dave Prentis, UNISON general secretary's message to Barnet UNISON:

“To the 400 UNISON members taking strike action: UNISON members across the country are standing shoulder to shoulder with you as you challenge this council – a council that refuses to listen to its workforce, a council that refuses to listen to logic or sense, a council now embarking on a reckless gamble.

“Last week our union commissioned a report on the impact of outsourcing on the council’s pension scheme. The report gave a damning assessment of the serious financial risks to the pension scheme as a direct result of the One Barnet Programme."

Heather Wakefield, UNISON's head of local government, said:

"The widescale privatisation at the heart of One Barnet should be placed under the severest scrutiny by Government, Barnet's scrutiny committee and the people of Barnet themselves. The council's failure to ensure procurement procedures and the obvious detrimental impact on the Local Government Pension Scheme of privatisation of local services are just two good reasons for challenging the path that Barnet has chosen. The third is the waste of public money involved in the procurement process through payments to consultants, procurement costs and payments to shareholders - money which should be invested in local people and local services."

John Burgess, Barnet UNISON Branch Secretary, said:

“The Council need to recognise that ‘political dogma’, also known as the One Barnet Programme, cannot be allowed to continue to expose residents, services and staff to a high risk strategy and expect them to pick up the bill."

What we mean by ‘independence’

A recent article “Greensquare Field – Planning to Outsource Planning" posted on the Barnet Eye blog encapsulates conflict of interest issues:

“At the moment Barnet Council is in the middle of tendering to outsource a number of services, one of which is the planning service. In the running are a number of companies: Capita Symonds, Atkins, Jacobs and E C Harrison. The planning consultants who represent Higgins Homes plc, and have done through two planning applications, two planning appeals, a village green application and the draft LDF, work for Capita Symonds. If Capita win the tender, they will decide any future planning applications.”

As council services for Barnet as a place to live and work, our decisions must be 100% independent and free from any ‘conflict of interest’.

Barnet UNISON is asking for the One Barnet programme to be put on hold.

Contact: John Burgess, Barnet UNISON, on 07738 389569 or email

Friday, 9 September 2011

Big Brother's poster campaign: Barnet bloggers write to councillors

Five Barnet bloggers have sent the following letter to Barnet councillors today.


Dear Councillor,

We are writing to share with you our concerns about the recent decision of the Chief Executive Nick Walkley to erect posters throughout the council offices bearing an ‘Open letter to staff’.

The posters did not contain any new information that was not already conveyed to staff in an email on the same day. Why, therefore, were the posters necessary? What is clear is that at a time when the council is making cuts to valued services, this was an appalling waste of money.

Custodians spent valuable time putting the posters up when they should have been carrying out their normal duties. We are taking steps to find out the cost of these posters and will share the information with residents. We would welcome any light councillors can shed on this and on how the decision to approve the poster strategy was taken.

The overall effect of the posters is surely to further alienate much of the workforce from council management and bring more disastrous PR for the council. If they seemed like a good idea when the decision to use them was taken, surely seeing the effect when the entire council is plastered with identical copies of one poster – only, in different sizes – can only embarrass those who thought of them.

We hope you will agree, the whole poster episode has been ludicrous and ineffective, the impression given that the council management team is starting to panic.

What can be salvaged from this? It is time for the council to recognise that staff will not be bullied into accepting the “One Barnet” outsourcing project. (Our own view is that the programme should be scrapped.)

It is also high time that the council consulted fully and properly with residents over One Barnet. It is scandalous that the representatives of the bidding companies can meet with senior Barnet management, yet the council – neither the leading Conservative group, nor senior council executives – has never appeared in a public forum to justify to residents these plans which will have a profound impact on council services for years to come.

We invite your views on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Derek Dishman
John Dix
Vicki Morris
Theresa Musgrove
Roger Tichborne

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Blue Barnet skies

I was sitting on my sofa this evening thinking about those demented posters, signed by CEO Nick Walkley, that Barnet council now has plastered all over its offices trying to put its staff off defending their pay and terms and conditions. How many days are they going to remain up (undefaced)?

The same message on those posters is repeated by council leader Richard Cornelius in an interview with the Times series.

Trying to fathom how these people's dastardly minds work, I realised that they, Barnet Conservative group leaders, Barnet council senior management team, must have got together one afternoon for a bit of a brainstorm over what to do to scupper Barnet Unison's effective industrial campaign.

I don't know who was there in person but whoever was presiding, Walkley, probably, must have commenced proceedings with a phrase such as "Nothing is ruled out, ladies and gentlemen. We need some real blue skies thinking."

That is how they came up with the idea of the giant posters. Not just one or two giant posters, but giant posters EVERYWHERE!

It occurred to me that they must have come up with many completely hair-brained ideas even worse than this one, ideas that should never see the light of day. That is the only explanation I can come up with for the bonkers idea that Nick Walkley should write to the 400-odd council staff planning to take a half-day strike on Tuesday 13 September, and tell them:
Finally, I want to let you know that today the Council will be presenting an injunction application to the High Court in connection with the 13 September strike. The Council has not taken this decision lightly, however, we have been and remain deeply concerned that Unison have thus far failed to comply with the requisite legal procedures to ensure a lawful strike. We have raised this point with Unison in connection with each ballot, however, we now believe we are left with little option other than to submit a formal challenge to the High Court. We consider that it is of paramount importance that all parties, specifically, the Council's employees, are afforded the full and proper legal protections provided for under industrial relations law. I will let you know the outcome.

Yours sincerely,

Nick Walkley, Chief Executive
Absolutely bonkers, I think you'll agree. Thank goodness that one was left on the drawing board... Oh, hang on a minute, unfortunately some idiot decided that was one of the ideas that would be implemented, along with the giant posters, and they typed up the letter and delivered it to some of those staff due to take action.

Later in the afternoon, a new letter had to be sent out without that final "nuclear option" paragraph, but not before everyone had been thoroughly alarmed.

The mind boggles at what other ideas were aired in that Blue Barnet skies meeting! Could any be more bonkers than the idea of the injunction?

Now, here, for no very good reason, are Erasure singing "Blue Savannah".

Nick Walkley comes over all Stalinist

When Barnet Conservative councillor Mark Shooter said this:
I do not believe Soviet bureaucratic initiatives like One Public Sector, Labour’s Total Place (and Barnet’s Future Shape/Easy Council) ideas are... the way forward...
he clearly could see the way the wind was blowing.

Chief executive Nick Walkley, who has been steering the One Barnet Programme (latest name for Future Shape/easyCouncil), has started to reveal distinct Uncle Joe tendencies.

Overnight at the council's North London Business Park offices a poster has appeared, an open letter to staff, signed by Nick Walkley. It accompanies a letter sent to all staff in eNews.

Taken together, these two texts slander Barnet Unison, saying that they have had a good offer put to them regarding staff due for transfer to the private sector under the One Barnet Programme; that they've refused to put the offer to their members; that in calling a half-day strike next week of the staff first up for outsourcing they are deemed to have rejected the offer...

Barnet Unison reply that they understood that the offer that had been put to them was embargoed, not to be discussed with members yet; that, in any case, the offer is not half as good as the text on the poster says it is.

I want to thank the person who has forwarded these pictures of the poster - it probably felt like quite a brave act. Because, as you can see, the poster is absolutely EVERYWHERE: in the dinner queue, apparently; lining every corridor; replacing every poster that was there before; and appearing in all sizes. One would be enough, you might think?

What is the intended effect of this then? What do you think?

I think it has been done to frighten staff. Yes, I'll repeat that, to frighten staff.

Nick Walkley, the grown-up, highly paid, supposedly expert professional public servant has decided to try and bully fellow Barnet council employees, like a school bully would throw his weight around in the playground. What do you think of someone like this? Sinister and unpleasant about sums it up for me.

Probably not all that bright, either, since, if I were a Barnet employee, I think I would lose any residual respect I might have had for the boss who behaved like this.

P.S. Here is the text on that poster:
An open letter to staff

As many of you are aware, council staff have been in discussion with Unison over "TUPE Plus" proposals for staff in services that may be provided by an external supplier in the coming years.

The council has listened carefully to the concerns put forward by individual staff members, Unison and other trade unions.

However the action of calling a strike on 13 September by Unison confirms that the offer has not been accepted. This package of measures is a substantial package of enhancements over and above the protection provided by TUPE. The key points of the package are:

* all employees in services moving to a new employer will be able to continue their membership of the Local Government Pension Scheme uninterrupted and unchanged

* local union recognition will be protected for staff moving to external suppliers

* terms and conditions of staff transferred will be protected for at least one year after leaving the council's employment

* any changes to terms and conditions after that first year will have to be negotiated with the appropriate trade union

This offer of protection of pension rights and terms and conditions is a significant commitment at a time when both the public and private sectors are operating in challenging economic circumstances.


Nick Walkley

Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury re Adrian Benjamin

The Most Reverend the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury
Lambeth Palace

Your Grace,

We the undersigned are writing to you to draw your attention to the behaviour of the Reverend Adrian Benjamin, the vicar of All Saints Church in Barnet. As you are no doubt aware, the London Borough of Barnet, like many other London boroughs, is suffering huge cuts to public services. A campaign, Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS), has been set up to defend these vital services and has been active in opposing many of the policies being implemented by Barnet Council. The campaign is broad based and not aligned with any political party.

As part of the campaign, BAPS intended to operate a stall at the Friern Barnet Summer Show, a local festival. Rev Benjamin is on the organising committee. Originally Rev Benjamin gave BAPS permission to have a stall, but withdrew that permission at the last minute on the grounds that he deemed the campaign to be political.

The campaigners from BAPS were offered space on another person's stall and they took part in the festival after all. When Rev Benjamin learned of this he brought some other men with him, dismantled the stall, confiscated the BAPS banner and asked the campaigners to leave the park. When later asked to return the banner, Rev Benjamin replied that it had been lost and could not be returned. Since Rev Benjamin was also extremely rude to the campaigners, an unseemly row has now developed. Rev Benjamin spoke to one of our local papers, the Hampstead and Highgate Express and made the following statement:

"If someone came in with explosives then it would have been me who was responsible for disposing of it and as far as I’m concerned it [the banner] is as predacious as a bomb." He referred to Mr Silverman (one of the campaigners) as ‘‘a rogue, a rogue.”

(The original article can be viewed here.)

Mr Silverman is a 74-year-old pensioner, who has worked tirelessly as a community campaigner in Barnet for many years. There are several questions raised by Rev Benjamin's behaviour, which we feel we must set out.

a) Shouldn't a minister of the Church set a better example in his dealings with members of the public? Publicly denigrating people who are clearly involved in community activities in the press is surely not acceptable.

b) Comparing local campaigners to terrorists is highly insulting and irresponsible. We believe that this shows an appalling lack of judgement.

c) The failure to respect the property of others and the failure to exercise a duty of care with materials in his charge shows a callous disregard for other people. The BAPS campaign has extremely limited funds and the banner will cost a significant amount to replace.

As Rev Benjamin is a part of the festival organising committee, we believe that he has brought the Church of England and the wider Christian community into disrepute. As leader of the Church, we call upon you to intervene. We believe that, at the very least, Rev Benjamin owes Mr Silverman a public apology and that he should pay for a new banner for BAPS. As to whether Rev Benjamin is a suitable candidate for such an important role in the community and the Church of England, we will leave that to your wisdom and judgement.

Yours faithfully,

Derek Dishman
John Dix
Vicki Morris
Theresa Musgrove
Roger Tichborne

Sunday, 4 September 2011

"Our Barnet" - latest issue published

I have been busy for a few days editing and laying out the latest issue of Our Barnet, the newspaper of the anti-cuts group Barnet Alliance for Public Services.

You can access the pages here.

It gets printed tomorrow, so if you see any glaring inaccuracies, please drop me a line c/o (This invitation is obviously a gift to readers such as David Duff...)

I still might be able to intervene to change things! You see, it is hard to just let something go!

I hope you find something you like in it. I'm relatively pleased with it! (High praise indeed.)