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


Mr Mustard said...

and he will still take a taxi to the bike rank!

baarnett said...

I believe Brain will only sit in the carrier on the front, and get his butler to do the peddling.