Sunday, 29 April 2012

Reasons to sack Brian Coleman: he's the Tory candidate!

You've probably seen John Baldy's excellent "101 Reasons to Sack Brian Coleman" blog.

I don't want to take away from that at all. Brian Coleman is a particularly odious example of an arrogant, greedy, etc, politician, who deserves all the personal opprobrium he attracts.

But even if he were actually quite a nice bloke (!) I still couldn't vote for him because, well, he's the Conservative candidate.

As the rubric at the top of this blog should alert you, I'm a trade unionist (though some Conservatives are trade unionists as well, and good that they are) and a socialist. I'm a trade unionist who isn't in it just for the cheap insurance policy, or the press card (ahem).

I happen to think that trade unions are one of the great civilising forces in society. (28 April was Workers' Memorial Day when the trade union movement remembers all those killed or injured in workplace accidents, whose numbers would be more legion were it not for trade unions.)

Trade unions are by no means perfect, always in need of reform, and short-sighted if they only stick to industrial and eschew political issues (and they often do limit themselves in this way). I nevertheless think trade unions are the best hope for humankind to build solidarity, overcome its divisions, particularly class divisions, and organise a rational and democratic society. (Phew!)

I'm a socialist: I fervently hope and believe that we - humankind - can do better than capitalism, build on its achievements, but grow beyond it. So you won't find me in much agreement with the Conservative Party.

For sure, Labour has moved a long way from politically representing its working class base, and Tony Blair and his coterie were as enamoured with the rich and powerful as the Conservatives. But I think we all know that if you want the ruling class, pro-capitalist party par excellence, you still go with the Conservatives.

So, my reason, first, last and everything, for wanting to #SackBrian on 3 May is because he is the Conservative candidate.

If you are really into lists, however, and you want to be reminded just why this current Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government is so worth punishing at the ballot box this coming Thursday take a look at the Haywoods Voice blog. In a recent post Haywood lists no less than "170 reasons not to vote Coalition at the local elections" (the overwhelming majority of them good reasons).

Reasons to Sack Brian Coleman

Although John is up to no.81 on his blog - usefully supplied by his irate wife, who blames John's blogging for ruining their family life - he still needs people to feed him ideas.

You need only send a line or two (if that's all you can manage). John generally does some research and finds a nice picture to go with the story.

Twitter: @johnbaldy
Hashtag: #sackbrian

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Anyone But Coleman? Just make sure it's Andrew Dismore!

Barnet CPZ Action have produced a great poster for the London Assembly election next week on Thursday 3 May. It calls on people to vote for Anyone But Coleman.

The anti-cuts group Barnet Alliance last night decided to put this poster on its blog. We have supported the campaign against the hikes in parking charges for residents living in Controlled Parking Zones. It's a great poster! And we agree with the sentiment behind it.

But on a personal level I would go further and ask people to vote for the Labour candidate Andrew Dismore on Thursday.

For the constituency seat, you only get one vote. It matters very much how you use it.

If you want to see the back of Brian Coleman but you would ordinarily vote Conservative, and you're definitely not going to vote for another party, your choice is simple: don't vote for Coleman! Just don't vote for him. Stay your pencil! Coleman doesn't deserve your vote, even if you are a Conservative. He doesn't deserve any voter's vote.

Why not? Because he's uniformly rude to residents and colleagues, unapologetic when pulled up for his behaviour, pig-headed and often wrong-headed in the area of policy, and shamelessly greedy at tax-payers' expense. (I could go on.)

If you are a Liberal Democrat or Green voter please think about switching to Labour for this election. Andrew Dismore can beat Brian Coleman, but only if he gets more votes than Coleman! It's as stark as that. If you vote Liberal Democrat or Green in this election - for the Constituency seat - you are not casting an effective vote, if getting rid of Brian Coleman is what matters to you.

I don't honestly know how UKIP ("Fresh Choice for London"!) voters swing, but I'm guessing the advice would be the same to them.

(I've never been a strategic voter, but some can do it when the devil drives!)

If you're a Labour voter make sure you turn out on Thursday. Remind sympathetic family members, friends, neighbours, colleagues, etc, to vote.

If finding out more about him could persuade you to vote for Andrew Dismore - or not to vote against him! - please visit his website:

Dismore wrote recently to the Camden New Journal about Coleman's almost total lack of work in Camden, which he also represents on the London Assembly:

[A] Freedom of Information request I submitted to Camden Council... revealed that since the last London elections, Mr Coleman had not written a single letter to any Camden Chief Officer about any subject whatsoever.

One perverse byproduct of his inactivity in Camden is that Coleman is not so hated there as he is in Barnet, where he is far too active! Turnout in Camden could be relatively low. A lot hinges therefore on the turnout in Barnet where Coleman and his works are well known.

Yes, it must be Anyone But Coleman on 3 May but if you really want to see the back of Coleman, if you can, please make sure you vote for Andrew Dismore!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

#SackBrian Coleman weekend of action, Saturday 28-Sunday 29 April

#SackBrian Weekend of Action

- Are you fed up with Brian Coleman?

- Do you want to stop him being your London Assembly member?

- Will you stand up for public services?

Make a stand by joining us this weekend as we deliver 10,000 leaflets to the community.


Saturday 28th April, 11am – 1pm

Friern Barnet Pop-up Library, Friern Barnet Road, London N11 3DS

Sunday 29th April, 11am – 4pm

Cafe Buzz, 783 High Rd, North Finchley, London N12 8JY

Can’t make it but want to take leaflets to deliver down your street or through your organisation? Then let us know by filling out this two minute survey: or call David on 07717 531164 or email

Thursday, 19 April 2012

"A Tale of Two Barnets" in the Houses of Parliament

Jeremy Corbyn MP speaking at showing of "A Tale of Two Barnets" in Parliament
I went last night to the screening of the community film "A Tale of Two Barnets" in the Houses of Parliament. John McDonnell MP had booked the Wilson Room in Portcullis House.

It was interesting to see around this building whose high cost - no expense spared on the fixtures and fittings - was so controversial. It looks good for the money! But whether it was an appropriate amount (final cost of the building £235 million) to be spent on a building that only a few MPs and attendees of select committees ever see... well, it wasn't, was it? But I digress...

The Wilson Room, as other bloggers will probably tell you in more detail, was where Rupert Murdoch gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.

A suitable backdrop then for a showing of the film about Barnet council's cuts, privatisation and lousy governance culture? I think so!

The film was enjoyed by an audience of local anti-cuts activists and guests. John McDonnell MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP both attended to discuss the wider context of the cuts and privatisation agenda. As you can see from the photo below, all of Barnet's three MPs were invited to attend but did not. As far as I know, none of them has yet seen the film that has nevertheless been seen by more than 1,000 of their constituents.

Council leader Richard Cornelius also had a place reserved for him but he did not come either. I don't think he has seen the film yet, although he has complained about it enough.

Both McDonnell and Corbyn had to nip in and out of the meeting to participate in votes on the Finance Bill, the piece of legislation which includes cutting the top rate of income tax from 50p to 45p, a measure that will benefit, among the rest of the top-earning 1% of the population, Barnet Council's own chief executive, Nick Walkley. (Yes, we pay him that much.)

The discussion after the film was very interesting and focused on the council's lack of honest consultation with residents. When they consult, they simply ignore the majority opinions of those they consult with. The impression is that they have always already made up their minds what they are going to do, and that consultation is a tick-box exercise only.

We also discussed things we can do next around the issues that concern us.

Helen Michael, who represents North Finchley traders, told us about their poster campaign targeting Brian Coleman, "murderer" of Barnet's high streets, with his disastrous parking policy. The poster campaign is reported today in the local press.

Helen told us how the council has asked the traders to participate in building the mood for the Olympic torch relay which is due to pass through North Finchley, handing out flags and so on. The traders have asked what's in it for them, when the council is in the process of ruining their businesses, and our high streets with them.

Friern Barnet library campaigner Joanna Fryer talked about the next Friern Barnet pop-up library event, meeting this coming Saturday, 21 April, from 11am to 1pm in the British Legion building next to Friern Barnet Village Green.

John Sullivan spoke about the Campaign Against the Destruction of Disabled Support Services; the Barnet Alliance for Public Services was represented by Tirza Waisel and Alan Sloam.

Roger Tichborne, "The Barnet Eye" blogger and producer of "A Tale of Two Barnets", presented the film, and the director Charles Honderick also attended.

In summary, an interesting and fruitful night, sharing ideas for campaigning. I detect a growing confidence, cohesion and determination among the different groups campaigning for public services and simply for the overall spirit of Barnet - a determination to stop the place from declining irreparably.

I have posted a few more pictures of the evening here.

A new empty chair crisis?

Saturday, 14 April 2012

How the City of London shut down Friern Barnet Library - or something like that

Everything came together perfectly today for the first Friern Barnet People's Library. The weather was great, there was a genuinely wide choice of books, there was an impressive turnout, and we even achieved a one-week-on reunion of the #OccupyFB crew.

I arrived fairly late after catching two 251s (having to change at Whetstone). I was wearing my best Barnet blue flasher's mac, which you can see in rather too many of the photographs from the event (lots of people have pictures, e.g., the Pinkham Way Incinerator blog).

I didn't take my camera for once. It was a choice of heavy camera or heavy book - Capital vol. 1 by Karl Marx (I took something a little lighter, in all senses of the word, to donate to the library).

I swapped my donated book for the 1991 edition of a book called How the City of London Works. It probably doesn't work in quite the same way any more, but it's high time I found out something about it.

After all, it's the recklessness of some s**tbags in the City with their weird financial "products" that caused the almost complete crash of the banking system in 2008 that necessitated the banks bailout that pushed up the national deficit that provided the Tories (and their lickspittle Lib Dem lackeys) with the pretext for privatising everything in sight and savaging our public services that led to us being on Friern Barnet green at all... outside the now closed Friern Barnet Library.

The Library was nicely adorned on the outside by campaigners but we still would have preferred to be inside. The Councillors' surgery has had to move to take place in the Royal British Legion building nearby. So much for the library not being a community hub in the eyes of the Cabinet that has closed it!

(Thanks too today to the Legion for providing free tea.)

There was such a great gathering of people, we were able to swap ideas for the next steps in various campaigns. It really felt like a great coming together today of the various strands of discontent in the borough.

The "people's library" was the inspiration of Barnet Eye blogger Roger Tichborne. Lots of people pulled it together today, including the still determined Save Friern Barnet Library group. (They have a new petition on the Barnet Council website: please go and sign it and ask others to sign too.)

Robert Rams, Barnet bullshitter extraordinaire

Thank you to Mr Reasonable this evening for alerting us to the next full meeting of Barnet council this coming Tuesday, 17 April.

The business includes questions to Cabinet and Leader. The Labour group has asked some questions of Robert Rams, Cabinet member with responsibility for libraries including the decision to close Friern Barnet Library.

Rams' replies are truly staggering. He as good as admits he has never had any worked-up plan for his much vaunted "landmark library" at the Artsdepot to replace the closed Friern Barnet library. He is only now getting around to holding meetings about it with the Artsdepot. The funding for any future library will rely on the council persuading Arts Council England to stump up for it - how likely is any of this?

Please take the trouble to look at the questions and answers in the official document which you can acess via this page.

The questions of most interest are 50, 51, 58 and 59. Rams' answers to these questions are so bad that they deserve a blogstory all their own but time is pressing.

The Friern Barnet People's Library will run again next week, Saturday 21 April, 11am-1pm, at Friern Barnet Library. Don't miss it!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Boris Johnson's Friday doughnut #5: rising poverty in the suburbs

Friern Barnet pop-up library, 11am-1pm, Saturday 14 April

The "Barnet Eye" blogger Roger Tichborne and Save Friern Barnet Library campaign have organised a pop-up library at Friern Barnet tomorrow, Saturday 14 April. It will be in front of Friern Barnet library, recently closed by Conservative Barnet Council.

Get along there for fun and bookswapping; I think this will be the first of many such events. But tomorrow is the official opening. Come and support the campaign to re-open the library.

Roger has sent the following invitation to all of Barnet's councillors:
You are cordially invited to the official opening of the world's very first Pop Up Library at Friern Barnet on Saturday 14th April. This will give you a chance to meet the people of Barnet and discuss how passionately they feel about the provision of local library services and why Barnet Council should be expanding and not closing libraries.

We will be making a film of the day's activities and we will be asking local councillors and members of the public to tell us why they love their librarys, what their fondest memories of their library are and why they need a LOCAL library.

The Barnet Eye looks forward to seeing you at this truly unique event. With the forthcoming GLA elections, we hope that councillors of all partys take the opportunity to meet members of the public in a relaxed and happy environment and listen to their views.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

A new Barnet blog explores why we should #SackBrian

A new and probably temporary but handsome and sure to be well read blog appeared in Barnet today:

You can Tweet reasons to @johnbaldy or email

There is a Twitter hashtag for Tweets concerning Brian Coleman and the London Assembly election, to be used if you want to #SackBrian. I guess if you want to #BackBrian no one will stop you, but... good luck with that.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Tell Barnet Council to re-open Friern Barnet Library

“What the parliament does, the street can undo” - this is a consoling thought of all campaigners everywhere! And it's true!

Save Friern Barnet Library campaigners have started a new petition on Barnet Council's website with this simple demand:
We the residents, students and workers of Friern Barnet, are petitioning Barnet Council to RE-OPEN our local library. Friern Barnet Library in its present place and shape is an integral part of community life in the surrounding area. We want a cheerful Local library. This is a chance for Barnet Council to show they ARE listening to local residents and reverse the bad feeling caused by the closure of this lovely library.
OK, a petition is not exactly "the street", but we all know that behind the petition lies an active, year-long campaign that included street parties, demonstrations, activity days and, ultimately, a sit-in. Whose library? Our library!

If Barnet Council thought that taking the decision to close the library was, well, the final word on the matter, they will soon learn, I think, that they have made a mistake.

Please sign the petition and let others know about it. It has an easy to circulate short url - - to add to Tweets, on the bottom of emails, etc.

Brian Coleman - have we done enough?

I visited my mum at the weekend. She is a lifelong Labour voter. She introduced me to trade unions, miners' strikes, standing in front of Conservative HQ offices brandishing placards, and the like. She wasn't what a stereotypical lefty is, for those hostile to them. She was very hot on human rights. She wore a Solidarnosc badge, for example.

Easter holidays when I was a teenager were sometimes spent at NUT conference, sharing a hotel room with my mum and her fellow teacher husband (that made him my stepfather, right?) who were delegates. In the daytime I stayed in the hotel room and watched the snooker and developed an unhealthy interest in pallid men in waistcoats who have spent their lifetimes in windowless rooms knocking balls about on the baize or sipping whisky and smoking nervously in the corner awaiting their next turn.

In the evening my mum and I and sometimes my stepfather hiked to watch Kurosawa films at the local arthouse cinema or a filmshow about the military repression in El Salvador. Happy days.

These conferences were usually held at the seaside but I saw little of the beach or the waves or, indeed, the sun.

In the nextdoor - smokefilled - hotel room, cabals of leftists met to argue over the text of a risographed bulletin for the next day. My mother tended to laugh at such people, yet she was always at the head of any walkout from the conference hall over some sellout by the leadership.

Anyway, I digress. We lived briefly in a small country village. Not a lot went on, as you can imagine (apart from sowing seed, spraying, ploughing, baling, raking, harrowing and muck spreading, etc, but we didn't have any direct involvement in any of that).

One evening the local Baptist church held a public meeting with a speaker talking about the religious repression (probably not much improved since) in the USSR. The Baptists and other non-orthodox Christians had to smuggle in (their version of) the Bible to their flock.

Attending this meeting wasn't just something to do on an otherwise (?!) boring evening in Marden. This was something my mother was genuinely exercised by. She was usually anti-war as well, my mum. Even against the Iraq War, although she had, and still does have, a lot of time for Tony Blair. Which. I. Just. Don't. Get.

(Editor: Brian Coleman?) My mother went to live in Greece for 16 years during my young adulthood. She has been back 10 years or so (my not-so-young adulthood) and announced this weekend that she has again got the measure of how things are in the UK politically and thinks it is time she rejoined the Labour Party. No prompting from me, honest.

I in my turn told her about our political landscape here in Barnet. We have an overlapping concern in the shape of Boris Johnson who is pushing his estuary airport (aka Boris Island) in the Thames estuary, which is likely to impact badly on the natural habitats of north Kent. My mum now lives in Rochester and opposes the airport scheme.

I told her all about Johnson's running-mate Brian Coleman, his being a most egregious example of a boorish, pompous, venal and self-regarding politician. So bad that he makes other boorish, pompous, venal and self-regarding politicans, even other Tories, look good (yes, that bad).

"But we hope to dislodge him on 3 May," I said at the end of all this, and sat back, job done. "When is the 3 May, by the way?"

"Less than four weeks away," my mother said.

"Oh, that's rather soon."

"Isn't it?"

Now it is three weeks tomorrow! Have we done enough? All we people of a varying range of political opinions who hope to defeat Brian Coleman in the election for London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden?

Roger Tichborne at the "Barnet Eye" blog has a piece on Coleman today, which talks about Coleman's rudeness about disabled people, and reminds people how much he is getting paid through his Assembly posts.
Along with his £53,000 salary, he gets his travel expense account to dinners all around [the] Country. He also gets £26,000 a year for the bolt on job of chair of the London Fire and Emergency services authority.

If you think that he is doing a marvellous job and think he's well worth the £79,000 + expenses he gets for these two part time jobbies, then he's your man. If like me, you think that someone who has no regard and consideration for the disabled and the infirm and is prepared to insult them in a Council meeting, is totally inappropriate, then make sure you get out and vote for someone else.
Roger then lists all of the other candidates.

I want you to vote for Labour's Andrew Dismore - or not to vote against him. Dismore is the candidate who can beat Brian Coleman. He was a popular and hardworking MP in Hendon. I believe Dismore lost the general election seat because of the general swing against the Labour government but also because of a nasty campaign run by MPACUK against him, not because he was a bad candidate. Matthew Offord's majority is just 106!
  • If you usually vote Labour please get out and vote on Thursday 3 May! Tell friends, relatives, workmates, neighbours to get out and vote!
  • If you wouldn't usually vote Labour and might be persuaded to please check Andrew Dismore's campaign website and see what he is saying.
  • If you usually vote Conservative or another party and might be thinking of not voting for Brian Coleman, but want convincing that by so doing you won't be letting in a monster (!), again, please visit Andrew Dismore's campaign website. I'm sure he will be prepared to answer any particular worries you have.
Brian Coleman - have we done enough? On other days we bloggers remind you of why this man does not deserve to represent the boroughs of Barnet and Camden in the London Assembly. Today I wanted to focus on the making of political choices - they aren't always straightforward, but they are always possible. How will you vote on 3 May?

Friday, 6 April 2012

#OccupyFB - what on earth?!

Discussing the content of the press statement (which I still haven't seen!)
What a crazy 24 hours. I don't have time now to write a lengthy account of the five hours occupation of Friern Barnet Library on Thursday 5 April, and of the hasty preparations leading up to it. I think they're best dealt with in small vignettes, which I'll try to get around to writing today in among a considerable pile of domestic tasks! (Lazy cow?)

I did take some nice pictures from inside the occupation. I don't know if other people like my photos, but I do! That's probably what counts. They almost always are viewed best as part of a narrative, which is usually what they are. They are almost always an account of a protest or demonstration of some sort, and pick up on angles that I think are useful or interesting.

I really feel that is the case here, since there is a small story behind almost every picture. I hope I find the time to tell all of these stories, because, apart from anything, they would provide some pointers to other people campaigning to... Save Our Libraries!

#OccupyFB pictures here.

P.S. All of this occurring on the day it became clear how much Amazon makes and how little tax it pays on that. Which made a nice counterpoint to our campaigning for the paltry sum required to keep a valuable community amenity open. Remember, we're all in this together!

P.P.S. Finding that the Save Friern Barnet Library campaign has linked to this story, I felt ashamed of my profanity (even with the asterisks) in the title and have changed it!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Friern Barnet library to shut - ever to reopen?

The Barnet Council cabinet meeting tonight voted to go ahead and close Friern Barnet library.

They hope to save a few pounds by shutting a thriving hub of the local community and - eventually - opening a library in the Arts Depot a long way away. If this sounds like robbing Peter to pay Paul, that would probably be too generous. It's more stupid even than that.

The Save Friern Barnet library campaign have called for wellwishers to join them in saying goodbye to their library at 3pm tomorrow. Its doors are due to close at 4pm. Please get along there with your angry placards - and remember that feeling next time you are in a polling booth.

I understand there might be a legal challenge to the closure, but I think that only a change of political regime in Barnet is going to save this facility, and the many more that could close in its wake in the months to come. (Figures suggest that about 88% of the projected public spending cuts have yet to happen.)

And if and when Barnet does vote Labour back in to run the council, we should have a long list of demands handy to hold them to!

Re-opening Friern Barnet library will be at the head of that list!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Open letter to Richard Cornelius and Barnet councillors - time to get a grip on parking!

Dear Leader and Barnet Councillors,

On 20th March a document was placed upon the Barnet Council website entitled - Bittacy Hill_Introduction_of_Waiting_Restrictions - (

This document details the mayhem caused by the abolition of free bays in Controlled Parking Zones as part of Councillor Brian Coleman's parking policies.

This document details how the Barnet Police have had their time wasted, congestion has been caused, buses have been delayed, residents inconvenienced, and people's safety has been endangered. In short, it is the most damning indictment of a Council policy possible.

The background information section of this document says:

8.1 In June 2011 the Council completed a scheme whereby all ‘Free’ parking bays were converted to permit holder or paid for parking bays in the borough’s Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs). As a result of the changes made to the Mill Hill East CPZ, a proportionate level of displaced parking is occurring on both sides of Bittacy Hill on the outskirts of the CPZ boundary.

8.2 The council has been contacted by roads users and local residents, complaining of the congestion being caused as through vehicles are being obstructed by the displaced parking.

8.3 London Buses have reported to the council that the displaced parking is obscuring sightlines and obstructing through traffic, preventing their buses from gaining suitable access through the road, resulting in the delay of their services. They also stated that this situation has caused major congestion in both directions on Bittacy Hill and therefore, have had to temporarily put some of their buses on diversion.

8.4 In addition, the Police have also expressed concerns regarding this location, and have requested for waiting restrictions to be introduced.

8.5 Following investigations including site observations, Officers concluded that major congestion occurs on the hill at this location, and in order to keep traffic moving through the borough considered that the provision of waiting restrictions would be appropriate given the obstructive parking which is taking place.

8.6 Therefore, proposals to introduce lengths of ‘at any time’ waiting restrictions on certain lengths of Bittacy Hill including around its junctions with Bittacy Close and Engle Park, were designed in order to deter obstructive parking and improve traffic flow, sightlines and safety.

8.7 In anticipation of the statutory consultation, Mill Hill Ward Members were consulted on the proposals with all advising of their agreement and support of the measures for the area. In particular, Councillors Khatri and Hart stated that they had also received complaints on this matter or have experienced problems themselves. Councillor Hart did raise the issue that more restrictions may cause more problems to the wider area as did Councillor Schama.

8.8 However, Officers consider that any displaced parking that may occur as a result of the introduction of the restrictions can be absorbed into the local network with minimal impact.

8.9 In mid August it was necessary to introduce emergency temporary waiting restrictions on the eastern side of Bittacy Hill, as nearby Devonshire Road was closed to allow for essential maintenance works to take place, which resulted in an increased traffic flow on Bittacy Hill that exasperated the problems occurring at the location.

8.9 Traffic cones were placed on street to indicate the temporary waiting restrictions, and the location was monitored by Officers. Observations showed that displaced parking was minimal and what did occur had little impact on the area. It was concluded that the removal of the parked vehicles at this location was very effective in relieving the congestion normally experienced.

8.10 Additional supporting evidence underlining the concern via photographs showing buses being obstructed and the congestion experienced were sent to the council and a petition signed by all residents of Bittacy Close was also submitted, asking for waiting restrictions to be implemented at the junction of Bittacy Close and Bittacy Hill.

8.14 Councillor Khatri and Councillor Hart have since also reaffirmed their views and support for the proposals. In particular, they advised of their concerns regarding safety being an issue at this location. Councillor Hart also re-iterated his concerns for residents of Bittacy Close, who suffer from obstruction at the junction of Bittacy Close and Bittacy Hill.
Councillor Brian Coleman ignored all wise counsel in order to introduce these policies.

He ignored all efforts to mitigate the problems caused.

As a result, we have a situation where ever more parking restrictions will be required to fix a problem that did not previously exist.

To what end? To inconvenience and overcharge local residents.

It is time for Barnet Council to have an urgent rethink. It is time to reinstate free bays, cut parking charges on Barnet’s high streets, and, most of all, it is time to put someone in charge of parking who is competent.

There is no way that Barnet Council can pretend that Coleman’s parking policies are anything other than an unmitigated disaster. Your own document says so in black and white.


Derek Dishman
John Dix
Vicki Morris
Theresa Musgrove
Roger Tichborne

Monday, 2 April 2012

Mick Shaw

I am sad to hear of the death of Mick Shaw, former president of the Fire Brigades Union, from cancer. The FBU official circular regarding this is posted below.

I heard Mick speak a few times and once passed him in the street: he was a giant! He was the guest speaker at Barnet trades council's AGM at Hendon Town Hall on 25 March 2010. He enjoyed the fact that the meeting was well attended, and sitting to speak in the big chair under the portrait of the Queen: both rather unusual occurrences in this day and age for trade unionists!

As older, experienced trade unionists and convinced socialists pass away, I'm sure Mick would want us to re-double our efforts at organising the unorganised and convincing those who otherwise wouldn't hear about an alternative vision for the world we live in if they didn't hear it from us. That would be a fitting tribute to him.

My condolences to Mick's family and friends.

Vicki Morris, publicity officer, Barnet trades council
2 April 2012
Dear Brother/Sister


It is with great sadness that I have to inform you that Brother Mick Shaw, former President of the Union, died yesterday following a long battle with cancer.

On behalf of all members of the Union I have passed on condolences to his family and offered whatever support we can provide.

Mick joined the London Fire Brigade in 1977 and almost immediately became involved in the 1977 strike. He remained involved in the Union throughout his career, holding numerous positions as an official and was elected Executive Council Member for London in 1997. In 2007, he was elected as President and served in that position until he retired early in 2011. Tragically he became very ill shortly after his retirement.

Arrangements have not yet been made for the funeral but the family would prefer that this is a small event for family and close friends. We also hope to be able, with the family, to arrange a wider memorial event for friends and colleagues shortly.

I know that the thoughts of all of us will be with Mick’s family and friends at this tragic time.

Yours fraternally



No Boris Bikes for Barnet

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that the prospect of Boris Bikes for Barnet was an outpouring of my fevered imagination for April Fool's Day. In honour of the occasion, most of Barnet's bloggers - those that call themselves the Famous Five plus the mystery man behind the Brent Cross Coalition blog - published jokes of varying quality (I do place my own lowest on the scale: for someone with a highly developed sense of humour, I'm really quite bad at jokes).

I feel no remorse at having raised your expectations unduly only to dash them regarding the Boris Bikes. After all, to paraphrase* Barnet Council leader Richard Cornelius:
Barnet isn't really a place for people on Boris Bikes*.
* In the original comment the word here was "benefits", I kid you not.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Boris Johnson's lasting legacy to Barnet

Could this become a familiar sight in Finchley?
In the run-up to the GLA and mayoral elections on 3 May, Boris Johnson has been under increasing pressure to deliver something to the outer boroughs where he attracted enough votes to win the last mayoral election.

Mutterings that Johnson's so-called doughnut strategy turned out to be not just about ignoring the hole in the middle - down-at-heel boroughs such as Tower Hamlets, Hackney - but that there has also been precious little dough on the outer ring of his domain have, we understand, been heeded by the mayor's campaign team. We wouldn't want to go so far as to suggest that recent mayoral grants to do up Dollis Valley Green Walk or Barnet high street are bribes to disgruntled potential electors. We wouldn't want to go so far as to suggest that.

But there have been concerns that boroughs such as Barnet will see precious little of the Olympic dividend in the summer. And in her Jubilee year the Queen has barely graced us with her presence.

We understand that, in a belated attempt to make Barnet feel more cherished, Johnson will announce on Monday that the planned expansion of his "Boris Bikes" scheme eastwards for the Olympics will have a hitherto unanticipated north-west spur; a rack of the distinctive if not altogether attractive powder-blue bikes has been ordered for Barnet. (A bit of subliminal messaging in the colour choice there - lucky that it happens to be the colour of the bike sponsors, popular household bank Barclays.)

The exact location of the bikes is believed to be outside the Methodist Church in Finchley, at the junction of Essex Park and Ballards Lane.

"This busy throughroad gets stacks of traffic all the time, the bikes will not go to waste," a Barnet Council spokesperson reassured me when I asked whether they wouldn't be better located in a busier part of the borough. "Oh, and that's also why we have to be ready to grit that road when there's the slightest hint of the mercury dipping below zero," he said, over-egging the pudding.

"Plus, plus," he said, "when city folk start using Victoria Park for their corporate do's this summer, they will be able to nip up and down to Finchley Central tube easier. They might weave a bit if they've been on the juice, but that is not an unfamiliar sight in these parts."

"Fat, drunk man on a bicycle?" I asked. "It has been known!" the press officer joked.

I wondered whether Brian Coleman will avail himself of use of the bikes? There really will be no excuse when they are practically parked outside his door. Coleman was not available for comment (well, he seldom is unless it's rude and unsolicited). So, as I passed the GLA building on my way to work, I put my head around the office of Boris Johnson's press office door where, as it happened, they were putting the finishing touches to a new poster of Johnson on a visit to Barnet. Mysteriously, the bloke claimed not to know who Brian Coleman is. I don’t know, some of these PR people live with their head in the sand!

Boris Johnson visits Golders Green police station - unaccompanied