Monday, 28 December 2009
New leader of the council, Lynne Hillan, has effectively accused Mike Freer of being a control freak.
Talking to the Barnet Press, Cllr Hillan said that her leadership style was likely to differ to that of her predecessor and that she believed in delegation. Unlike Cllr Freer who, despite promising that he “would not be a back-seat driver”, has yet to give up all of the many and varied positions he holds.
As leader of Barnet, Cllr Freer was also a member of the London Councils quango which meets once a month. A spokesman confirmed to Not The Barnet Times that Freer is continuing in this role until after the January meeting when warden snatcher Hillan will take his place.
Don’t Call Me Dave is sure that the London Councils allowance, which works out at more than £850 a meeting, bore no influence on Mike Freer’s decision to continue attending meetings instead of relinquishing his post in order to campaign for the parliamentary election.
Freer is also a member of the London Development Agency Board, for which he receives an allowance of £1,750 a meeting. A spokesman for Boris Johnson has confirmed that Cllr Freer has not resigned from this position either.
Freer remains chairman of the council’s Pension Fund committee (allowance £9,974 per annum), vice chairman of the General Functions committee, as well as sitting on the Corporate Joint Negotiation and Consultation committee, the Finchley & Golders Green Area Environment sub-committee, the Pension Fund Management Advisory Panel (allowance £2,493.50 per annum) and the Special Constitution Review committee.
When other parliamentary candidates are expected to devote all of their time and effort into winning their seats, it is reassuring to know that, as always, Mike Freer’s number one priority is still
Sunday, 27 December 2009
When Mike Freer
How strange, therefore, that his place in the Cabinet should be taken by Sachin Rajput (pictured above) who is also standing at the election for the new parliamentary constituency of Brent Central.
For Cllr Rajput to accept a Cabinet post (with its modest allowance of £17,454.50) and to simultaneously put himself forward for re-election to the council in May, sends out a very strong message to the electorate that he does not actually fancy his chances of winning in Brent.
This is a position which is hardly like to endear him to David Cameron or, indeed, the loyal hard working party activists in Brent who have tirelessly supported his campaign.
Another senior Conservative MP likely to be unimpressed is Peter Luff, the Hon House Flipper for Mid Worcestershire. Looking at Cllr Rajput’s web site, it seems that our Sach can’t tell the difference between him and Peter Lilley!
UPDATE: 29.12.09 Cllr Rajput has now corrected the error on his website. What a pity that none of his friends pointed out the mistake to him earlier. I guess it proves which blog is at the top of their reading list.
Saturday, 26 December 2009
It is a sure sign of weak leadership when even your so called friends take no notice of anything you say.
Take the e-mail above sent by warden snatcher Cllr Lynne Hillan just five days after she became leader of the council. It was written in response to a joke e-mail from Cllr Joan Scannell suggesting that it would be cheaper to see out your days in a Holiday Inn hotel rather than a nursing home.
One can only imagine how Lynne Hillan’s children must be feeling at the news that their mother is devoid of the natural maternal instinct to provide them with an inheritance.
But equally we can only speculate as to how Cllr Hillan must be feeling to discover that an e-mail clearly marked “Not for onward transmission” found its way to Not The Barnet Times.
Monday, 21 December 2009
Another Not The Barnet Times Exclusive!
Don’t Call Me Dave interrupts his blogging break to bring you this video clip of Cllrs Lynne Hillan and Joan Scannell rehearsing for the next series of Britain’s Got Talent, secretly recorded at Hillan’s hideaway holiday villa in Spain.
Friday, 18 December 2009
Barely had the ink dried on the High Court Judgement, when warden snatcher Lynne Hillan announced that the council would appeal the decision. You can already hear the tills ringing in the lawyers’ offices.
But has she or any of those other very clever people who run the council actually considered the real cost to Barnet residents for keeping this vital service?
Hillan says the council needs to save £400,000 a year. Well clearly that’s a lot of money for one person to find. But according to Barnet’s Annual Report 2008/09, our council tax is based on there being the equivalent of 136,605 Band D properties.
In other words, the cost of the permanent warden service costs the average Barnet household just £2.93 a year. That’s 5.6p a week - less than a penny a day!
If you asked Barnet residents if they would like to see their council tax reduced (which is what happens in real Conservative councils like Hammersmith & Fulham) the majority would most likely say “yes”.
But if you then asked the same residents whether they would be prepared to pay just a penny a day to keep our senior citizens safe and secure in sheltered accommodation, the answer is a no-brainer. Nobody, apart from Lynne Hillan, could possibly begrudge spending such a trifling sum looking after the Borough’s beloved grandparents and great-grandparents.
Rather than accept defeat graciously and move on, Hillan seems determined to bury her head in the sand and ignore the results of the public consultation. Nobody disputes the need for the council to save money. The real problem, however, is that Lynne Hillan seems to know the price of everything but the value of nothing.
Thursday, 17 December 2009
When Mike Freer became leader of the council following the coup of 2006, he was widely criticized for retaining his cabinet portfolio for resources. That was akin the Prime Minister staying on as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Freer’s control freakery was not without its consequences - the £27.4 million gambled in failing Icelandic banks being the most notable catastrophe.
The council’s own auditors have slammed the current administration for its use of resources and, try as he might, Freer cannot duck responsibility as his hand was on the purse strings whilst our money was being frittered away.
But rather than accept that the public has been let down by this inept and economically illiterate administration, new leader Lynne Hillan, pictured right, has decided to emulate her predecessor and award herself the two top jobs.
Gone are the days when the council was run by experienced men and women from all walks of life, for the benefit of the public. Now we are ruled by incompetent egomaniacs who have failed to cut it in the private sector.
Lynne Hillan simply does not understand the concept of public service. In Barnet she is second only to Brian Coleman in terms of rampant snout-in-the-troughism. Don’t Call Me Dave would not be surprised if Hillan tried to force through yet another rule change to allow her to draw yet another allowance for her two cabinet portfolios.
She presides over the least experienced cabinet in Barnet’s history - precisely at a time when more experienced hands are desperately needed to guide the council through these tough economic conditions.
It is unlawful to discriminate on grounds of race, religion or colour. In choosing her Cabinet, Lynne Hillan has also decided not to discriminate on grounds of ability.
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
The irony will not be lost on Barnet residents that Lynne Hillan was elected leader of the Council this evening, just a few hours after the High Court ruled that her policy to axe warden services was unlawful. But rather than graciously accepting the Court’s decision, the Barnet Times reports that the council is already planning an appeal.
It pretty much sums up Hillan’s contempt for the democratic process. She ignored the public consultation where 85% of respondents expressed their opposition, so why should she pay any attention to a High Court Judge?
If Lynne Hillan had just once shred of decency, she would accept that axing the warden service was an ill conceived idea from the start. Huge savings can be made elsewhere, if councillors would only take their snouts out of the trough long enough to look at alternative proposals.
Sadly, decency is a quality that Hillan does not possess and she will never resign from the position she has been back stabbing her way towards for the last seven years. The only option remaining for Barnet residents, therefore, is to remove her from office at the next election.
Mike Freer is stepping down as leader of the council this evening - just 24 hours before the External Auditor’s damning report is presented to the Audit Committee.
It is traditional on such occasions to set aside past differences and pay tribute to the outgoing leader. Don’t Call Me Dave would like to state on the record that whilst he has in the past been highly critical of Mr Freer, he does not believe that history will record him as being the worst leader the council has ever had. That honour will go to his successor.
Not The Barnet Times wishes Mike Freer the best of luck on the back benches.
Saturday, 12 December 2009
Over the last few days, Don’t Call Me Dave has received many e-mails and messages from readers wanting to know what he thinks of Rog T’s decision to stand as a Liberal Democrat candidate for Mill Hill ward at the next election.
Whilst expressing surprise that Rog has joined the LibDems, DCMD’s response is quite simple. Good luck to him!
DCMD is well aware that the mere act of wishing Rog T good luck will cause illegal car parker Andreas Tambourgreedy to phone Conservative Central Office demanding that he be expelled from the party, but the reality is that democracy is strengthened when ordinary citizens put themselves forward to serve their communities.
At national level, the federalist inclinations of the LibDems is not to DCMD’s liking, but it must be acknowledged that at local level, they have proven themselves very effective in questioning Mike Freer over the Icelandic banking scandal. Cllr Wayne Casey, who is standing down in May, made mincemeat of the outgoing leader when the council debated the issue. That a Conservative party member can recognise this does not make him any less Conservative. Indeed, it is not healthy to be blindly partisan. For democracy to flourish, there must be a strong and effective opposition, who will scrutinise the Executive and hold them to account.
Most Conservatives recognise that the Labour MP Frank Field is a respectable and honourable politician, whose presence enhances the reputation of Parliament. Similarly, LibDem MP Vince Cable, who famously compared Gordon Brown to Mr Bean, was the first to have correctly called the state of the economy and is widely acknowledged to have a better idea than most as to how to deal with the mess the Prime Minister has caused.
Another LibDem, Norman Baker, has earned himself a fearsome reputation in Parliament for asking searching questions of the Government and uncovering abuses of the allowances system. No wonder Don’t Call Me Dave admires him!!
Libertarian Conservatives, like DCMD, believe in small government - at local level as well as national. We have seen how our democratic institutions have been undermined and abused by a Labour Government which won a landslide majority of seats, without winning a landslide majority of the votes. Whilst the public want a strong government, especially in times of crisis, they resent an authoritative and overbearing administration that is out of touch with the people they were elected to serve.
DCMD believes that the future shape of Barnet is best served by a proper Conservative administration, whose councillors are motivated by a public service ethos rather than big fat allowances, and whose decisions are subjected to rigorous debate and scrutiny at every stage of the democratic process.
DCMD disagrees with Rog T on many political issues, but believes that he cares passionately for Mill Hill and the wider Barnet community. If Rog is elected to the council, there will be no question about his commitment and dedication, even if you disagree with his message.
If faith in our democracy is to be restored, we require more Rog Ts of all political colours to stand for election, and fewer troughers of the Hillan / Coleman / Freer / Tambourgreedy ilk.
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Another Not The Barnet Times Exclusive!
Speaking exclusively to Don’t Call Me Dave, Barnet’s Chief Executive, Nick Walkley, gives his first reaction to the news that Lynne Hillan has been elected leader of the Conservative Group and will take over from Mike Freer as leader of the council on 15th December.
UPDATE 9.30 pm: Cllr Andrew Harper has been elected Deputy Leader. Poor Melvin only received 3 votes.
Later today, Barnet’s Conservative councillors will elect a new leader to take over from Mike Freer. The contest is between Fiona Bulmer and warden snatcher Lynne Hillan.
As well as being the architect of the decision to axe wardens from those living in sheltered accommodation (but not before her own mother was moved to a new home not threatened by the cuts), Cllr Hillan has developed a reputation for rampant snout-in-the troughism. As Tory Chief Whip, she had the rules changed so that she could receive a larger allowance than the other party whips (not that any of the whips should be paid for by the taxpayer).
In May, Hillan voted in favour of massive hikes in allowances for councillors - some by up to 50%. After the predictable public outcry, several councillors announced that they would not accept any increase this year.
A spokesman for Barnet Council confirmed to Not The Barnet Times that Fiona Bulmer graciously waived her entitlement to a rise. Lynne Hillan, on the other hand, decided to fill her boots and claims every penny she can from hard pressed taxpayers (who also had to stump up for her business losses when her former company failed to pay the tax due).
If the sensible majority of Conservative councillors lose their nerve and elect Hillan tonight, this will create a vacancy for deputy leader. Not The Barnet Times understands that Cllr Melvin Cohen has been furiously ringing round councillors to drum up support for his campaign to be Hillan’s bag carrier. Regular readers will recall that when it comes to unbridled greed, Melvin Cohen has form.
In the private sector, workers are accepting cuts or pay freezes in order to keep their jobs. Public sector workers have been told that their pay rises will be capped at 1%. If Barnet’s Tory councillors elect two of the greediest troughers to lead the party into the elections in May, what signal does that send out to the electorate?
Monday, 7 December 2009
Barnet Council has been heavily criticised by its auditors, Grant Thornton. Their report, which is being presented to the Audit Committee on 16th December, is a damning indictment of Mike Freer’s reign as Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Resources.
After six years of Freerconomics, the council has attained only Level 2 in the following five categories, where Level 2 is defined as meeting the bare minimum requirements.
- Understanding costs
- Commissioning and procurement
- Environmental management
- Internal control
- Asset management
The findings, regrettable as they are, come as no surprise to Don’t Call Me Dave who has highlighted on countless occasions the council’s failure to cut costs and safeguard taxpayers’ money, for example:-
- £27.4 million deposited in failed Icelandic banks just as other councils were getting out
- £11 million overspent on the Aerodrome Road bridge project
- £1.4 million spent on obsolete lap top computers
- £90,000 spent on audio visual equipment - including £14,000 on flat screen TVs for chief officers
- £31,000 spent on a room booking system which could have been bought for £2,000
- £5,000 spent flying our glorious leader business class on a junket to America
It is somewhat ironic that the Auditor’s report is being presented to the Audit Committee the day after Mike Freer steps down as leader of the council, so it looks as if other councillors will once again have to carry the can for Freer’s failures.
Thursday, 3 December 2009
Monday, 30 November 2009
Friday, 27 November 2009
Don’t Call Me Dave has received several e-mails today expressing surprise at his support for Cllr Fiona Bulmer in the leadership contest to succeed Mike Freer. DCMD would like to clarify that he is not endorsing any particular candidate at this time, notwithstanding that he believes Cllr Lynne Hillan would be an unmitigated disaster for Barnet.
The most important issue is that after 3½ years of an unelected dictatorship, there must now be a free and fair contest for the top job, where the candidates set out their vision for the future of Barnet, forcing them to engage in a debate with backbench councillors who have hitherto been ruthlessly silenced on pain of losing their allowances.
Speaking to the Barnet Times yesterday, Freer said: “If there is no contest because there is only one nominee then that means the group are happy to have one nominee, that's democracy” which is a definition of democracy most of us would struggle to recognise.
But Freer’s contempt for the democratic process is hardly surprising given that only 21 people out of an electorate of 216,717 actually voted for him to be leader of the council - a mere 0.0097%.
Without any public mandate, Freer spent the best part of £2 million on consultants for his widely ridiculed Future Shape project, which was not even debated by his backbench councillors. They were, however, forced to vote for the proposals using tactics that would have put Stalin to shame.
Similarly, Lynne Hillan did not seek the Conservative Group’s approval for axing the warden service for vulnerable residents living in sheltered accommodation. She just went ahead and did it.
When deciding who to elect as their new leader, Conservative councillors need to ask themselves whether they want more of the same, or whether they are going to finally stand up and be counted, to represent the voters who put them in office - and who can just as easily remove them in 161 days time.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Another Not The Barnet Times Exclusive!
Despite Mike Freer’s astonishing demand for Lynne Hillan to be anointed his successor unchallenged, Don't Call Me Dave has learnt that Cllr Fiona Bulmer, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, has decided that the interests of democracy are best served by a contested election, and will challenge Hillan for the leadership of the council.
This will avoid the nightmare scenario of a second successive leader being imposed on the residents of Barnet without a public mandate. The contest will take place at a special Group meeting on 10th December when both candidates will set out their vision for the future of Barnet.
Cllr Bulmer has gained a reputation amongst her fellow councillors for being a hard worker and a safe pair of hands who believes in consensus politics. She does not court bad publicity, unlike Lynne Hillan who controversially decided to axe the warden service for those living in sheltered accommodation (but not before her own mother was moved to a new home not threatened by the cuts).
Cllr Hillan has also gained a reputation. Not for hard work but for rampant snout-in-the-troughism, having forced her colleagues to vote for a special motion allowing her to be paid an increased allowance as the Group whip, despite the recession which has caused so much hardship to so many residents.
Barnet’s standing amongst Conservative councils has been severely sullied under the Freer administration, of which Lynne Hillan was a chief protagonist. The borough is in desperate need a new leader untainted by scandal and controversy, who recognises and embraces the inviolable supremacy of the ballot box, but most of all cares about making Barnet a better place, where the rights of the individual are not trampled on by an arrogant and overbearing Executive.
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
The battle for the leadership of the Conservative Group - and Barnet Council - has officially started with the news this evening that Mike Freer has resigned, following his altercation earlier in the week with "cack-handed" Chief Executive Nick Walkley.
Cllr Lynne Hillan, who will be making her third attempt to secure the leadership (having previously lost to Victor Lyon and Brian Salinger in previous contests) has been working behind the scenes for months trying to persuade colleagues not to challenge her, but sources within the Conservative Group have told Not The Barnet Times that many councillors are unhappy at the prospect of having a second consecutive leader imposed on them without an election.
Gordon Brown’s faltering Premiership is a classic example of what can go wrong when someone is appointed on the basis of Buggin’s turn, and senior Tory councillors are being urged to mount a challenge to avoid the party suffering a similar fate.
Mike Freer officially stands down as Group Leader on 10th December. Three days later, Hillan will be facing another tough challenge as she faces a re-selection meeting in Brunswick Park ward. Many ward members are deeply unhappy at Hillan’s performance on the council, in particular her decision to scrap the warden service for those living in sheltered accommodation (but not before her own mother was moved to a new home not threatened by the cuts).
Hillan could therefore find herself being anointed leader of the Group, only to be de-selected as a councillor less than 72 hours later.
With the council failing to recover a single penny of the money
Not The Barnet Times is sure that Lynne Hillan’s planned two week absence from the council in January when she goes on holiday to America will not count against her when other councillors are expected to be working 24/7 to secure victory in May's elections.
Monday, 23 November 2009
Readers of the Barnet Times may have wondered what was going on last week. As bloggers Rog T and Vicki M have reported, articles appeared on the Barnet Times website about Mike Freer’s Future Shape project which disappeared just as quickly as they had been posted.
First to go was an article in which Chief Executive Nick Walkley admitted that the council doesn’t really want to have to take away our rubbish.
Now it simply won’t do for the local papers to accurately report what is said by public officials, so cue Barnet Council’s ravishing spin doctor,
The next day, another article appeared in which Mike Freer admitted that his Chief Executive’s comments were “cack-handed”. Better than one-handed we suppose, but clearly the Barnet Times had not learnt its lesson and within minutes of the article being published, it too had disappeared.
Fortunately, Not The Barnet Times was able to save both for posterity, here and here.
Vanessa Gearson costs Barnet Taxpayers about £80,000 a year. She is a close personal friend of Mike Freer and was previously the Conservative councillor for Garden Suburb ward. But of course none of this had any bearing whatsoever on her job application, for which her PhD in Spanish clearly made her eminently suitable.
Tim Montgomerie, who runs the highly respected Conservative Home website, once said of Dr Gearson: “I am a first hand witness of her dishonesty and incompetence”. An endorsement which obviously made her the ideal candidate for the position of Freer’s spin doctor.
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Monday, 16 November 2009
Two weeks ago, Barnet Council announced plans to publish details of all expenditure over £500. Cllr Richard Cornelius, Cabinet Member for Community Services, told the Barnet Times that the decision would see “bloggers and leakers on their way to their P45s” which was a tacit admission that despite former leader Victor Lyon’s promise in 2002 of “an open and honest Administration”, the council is still obsessively secretive about the way it spends the public’s money.
Whilst Don’t Call Me Dave welcomes the council’s decision, it should be noted that they are not doing the public any special favours by publishing these details on-line. Barnet has actually been required to make this information available since January 2009 when the Information Commissioner’s model publication scheme came into force.
The obvious benefit of the new rules is that if councils publish more information without being asked, there will be far fewer FOI requests made, saving time for both the council and members of the public exercising their legal rights (however much this may annoy those councillors and chief officers who seem to forget that the council exists to serve the public and not the other way around).
When the Westminster expenses scandal broke, David Cameron was quick to realise the damage to Parliament’s reputation and immediately ordered his shadow cabinet members to publish full details of their allowance claims on the Conservative Party web site.
Speaking to Not The Barnet Times, Richard Cornelius said: “If one has transparency then there should be nothing to hide” which is absolutely true but begs the question as to why Barnet is delaying implementation of the new procedures until next May - some 17 months late! The technology already exists for the council to publish full details of its expenditure. But whilst the technology exists, clearly the will does not.
DCMD does not believe the rumour that the delay is a deliberate attempt to prevent the automatic disclosure of Mike Freer’s expenses before he stands down from the council in 6 month’s time to run for Parliament. It is surely just a mere coincidence that no council leader in Barnet’s history has ever claimed as much from the taxpayer as Freebie Freer.
Friday, 13 November 2009
This Sunday, the 75th AJEX annual remembrance ceremony and parade takes place at the Cenotaph, starting at 2pm.
Following on from the Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day services, this is another opportunity for the public to show their appreciation to those who fought for this country and especially to those who did not return.
We must never forget their sacrifice, for those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.
Thursday, 12 November 2009
Monday, 9 November 2009
Fans of TV soap Dallas will recall that one of the leading characters, Bobby Ewing, was killed off in a car crash, only to return to the show a year later. The explanation turned out to be simple: there was no car crash. Bobby’s wife Pam Ewing, played by the gorgeous Victoria Principal, had simply had a bad dream!
Readers of Not The Barnet Times may have had a similar nightmare recently. They may have dreamt that this blog had changed into The Citizens Chronicle only to wake up and find that, in fact, nothing had changed.
For those who prefer a more realistic explanation of the events of the last few days, it appears that Blogger does not allow for two separate blogs to merge into one. Whilst it was possible to copy all of the old blog posts into the new one, it wasn’t possible to copy over the code that allows readers to search the old blog’s archive.
Don’t Call Me Dave is aware that many readers regularly read older postings, and he did not want to loose that facility. The choice available to him was to either run two separate blogs, or simply wind the clock back a week. The latter was the simpler option!
DCMD would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to his readers / fellow bloggers who changed their RSS subscriptions / blog links. He will now go and lie down in a darkened room.
Friday, 6 November 2009
Remembrance Sunday is one of the most poignant days of the year. A day to remember with gratitude all those who fought and, in many cases, made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
This year the occasion will be even more sombre following the steep rise in casualties in Afghanistan. We can only hope that the many religious and civic services which take place across the UK and beyond will bring comfort not just to those injured in the line of duty, but also to the families of the bereaved.
For those of us born after 1945, we too often take our freedom for granted. But for the sacrifices made by others, the free press as we know it would simply not exist; bloggers would be permanently silenced and our politicians would not be in the privileged position that they are today.
Given the heavy price that we have paid for our freedom, it was simply unforgivable for our unelected Prime Minister Gordon Brown, without any mandate from the British people, to have signed away to an unelected bureaucracy in Brussels, our hard fought right to self determination.
To compound the insult, our troops are regularly sent into battle woefully ill equipped for the task at hand. 14 military personnel were killed in 2006 when an RAF Nimrod crashed because, according to the independent report, a culture of penny-pinching introduced while Gordon Brown was Chancellor, had replaced an emphasis on safety.
So when Mr Brown steps forward at the Cenotaph on Sunday morning to lay a wreath, the entire nation will be justifiably repulsed by the image. His presence on this most solemn occasion is an insult to the living and the dead.
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
As our national debt heads towards a staggering £1 trillion (that’s £1,000,000,000,000 in real money), it is worth considering how much taxpayers’ money is wasted each year.
Last May, the Taxpayers’ Alliance estimated that there were 1,162 quangos in the UK employing 700,000 bureaucrats with an annual running cost of £64 billion (£64,000,000,000). It doesn’t take a genius to realise that eliminating or reducing the cost of quangos will go some way to restoring the country to good financial health.
The main problem with quangos is that they are completely unaccountable to the public. Their chief officers receive eye watering salaries and bonuses which are not performance related. A recent investigation by Channel 4 News revealed that the expenses bill from the board of just 24 quangos came to almost £1 million for the last 3 years.
Channel 4, which is a state owned corporation, was itself in the spotlight in this week’s episode of Tonight on ITV which revealed that Kevin Lygo, C4's director of programmes, was paid £1,136,000 last year - five times more than the Prime Minister.
The programme also revealed that Network Rail’s chief executive, Iain Coucher, earned £830,000 and Joanna Killian, chief executive of Essex County Council and Brentwood District Council was Britain’s highest paid town hall boss with a total salary of £247,164.
The usual justification for paying these ridiculous salaries is that you have to pay the best to get the best. But nobody ever tests the theory. Are we really supposed to believe that you can’t find someone suitably qualified to run Channel 4 for “only” half a million quid a year?
There are many thousands of unemployed, but highly skilled, executives who would willingly and competently do these jobs for a fraction of the cost.
David Cameron says that there will be a bonfire of the quangos if the Conservatives win the election. Hopefully he won't renege on this promise, but he may well face fierce opposition from within his own party, because politicians are not averse to sitting on a few quangos themselves.
Barnet Council leader Mike Freer, who hopes to be MP for Finchley, receives £14,000 a year from the London Development Agency for attending a strenuous 8 meetings, and a further £10,248 a year from London Councils for just 1 meeting a month. Adding his council allowances of £55,487, brings his total taxpayer funded income to £79,735 a year. Kerr-ching!
Of course Freer’s package pales into insignificance when compared to the daddy of all troughers, Brian Coleman. Last year, Not The Barnet Times reported that Coleman had amassed allowances totalling almost £103,000. For most people, this would be quite enough. But not for our Brian.
In August, Coleman was appointed chairman of the Fire Service Management Committee with an allowance of £10,266, and chairman of the National Joint Council for Local Authority Fire & Rescue Services, paying £5,130. Kerr-ching, Kerr-ching!!
When Don’t Call Me Dave last attended a meeting of the Chipping Barnet Conservatives’ Executive Council, Coleman told party members that if we want the best people applying to be councillors, we have to pay good money.
The problem with that argument is that we are already paying good money, but we are getting
Monday, 2 November 2009
Don’t Call Me Dave was not planning on writing a blog today, but feels compelled to put digit to keyboard after reading in the Daily Telegraph that disgraced Conservative MP David Wilshire has compared the public treatment of MPs to the plight of Jews under the Nazis.
Wilshire was heavily criticised for paying £100,000 in expenses to a company he owned with his partner. Consequently he “decided” to stand down at the next election. However, in response to a letter sent to his constituents (at taxpayers’ expense of course) one resident, Mr Christopher Frazer - who stood as a Conservative candidate in 1992 - wrote to Mr Wilshire suggesting that he stand down immediately.
The MP responded: “The witch hunt against MPs in general will undermine democracy. It will weaken parliament - handing yet more power to governments. Branding a whole group of people as undesirables led to Hitler's gas chambers.”
The public are entitled to be angry at the rampant troughism of MPs, but to suggest that our anger is even remotely comparable to the Nazi atrocities where six million Jews were brutally murdered proves that people like David Wilshire are totally detached from reality. His deluded sense of entitlement makes DCMD nauseous.
Whilst many people will be glad that he is stepping down, it is regrettable that our system of government does not allow voters the opportunity to properly express their dissatisfaction by throwing this greedy self serving parasite out of office immediately.
11:00 PM UPDATE: The Daily Telegraph now reports that David Wilshire has apologised for his revolting comments, having been ordered to do so by David Cameron. However, a forced apology is frankly not worth the paper it is written on.
The Telegraph has further revealed that Mr Wilshire also compared the plight of MPs to black Americans murdered by the Klu Klux Klan. As Conservative candidate Louise Bagshawe said: “David Wilshire's remarks are grossly offensive. We're well shot of him.” Quite.
Saturday, 31 October 2009
The Not The Barnet Times award for blogger of the year 2009 goes to Mr Niall Connolly (pictured right) who writes the Muck & Brass blog.
Even though there are two months of the year remaining, it is inconceivable that any other blogger will come close to matching Mr Connolly’s efforts which have resulted in 11 of Somerton Town’s 15 councillors resigning en masse.
Mr Connolly said the councillors had “only just discovered democracy” and described a council leaflet regarding voting rights as “more like a Nazi call to arms or an invitation to ethnic cleansing”
There can be no doubt that blogging has changed democracy forever. The public, completely disenfranchised by the troughing political classes, are now embracing modern technology in a way that allows for proper scrutiny of the political process.
There can be no doubt that blogging has changed democracy forever. The public, completely disenfranchised by the troughing political classes, are now embracing modern technology in a way that allows for proper scrutiny of the political process.
No longer can our elected representatives hide behind the establishment wall. No longer can they keep secrets from we, the people. No longer can MPs and councillors say one thing, do another and hope not to get caught out.
As the next election approaches, politicians will discover that blogging is but just one tool in the public’s armoury and those luddites who refuse to embrace change will no longer be able to treat the public with complete and utter contempt and expect to get re-elected.
Barnet’s resident big mouth, Cllr Brian Coleman, has waded into the row surrounding the X-Factor house in Golders Green, in an attempt to divert attention from his recent disgraceful outburst when he called a Labour GLA member an “odious toad”.
On Thursday Coleman told the Barnet Times:
“This whole thing has got completely out of hand: shouting and screaming in the street, graffiti scribbled over gates and fences, and people running out in front of moving traffic. X-Factor’s producers need to recognise their responsibility to my constituents. I shall be writing to Simon Cowell this afternoon to say: if they can’t be good neighbours then they should move to a more secluded location where they are no bother to anyone else.”Simon Cowell must be trembling in his boots!
However, Councillor Andrew Harper, the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport - and one of the three candidates for the vacancy of Deputy Leader when Lynne Hillan takes over from Mike Freer next month - adopted a more pragmatic attitude. Unlike Brian Coleman, Cllr Harper actually has responsibility for the roads in Golders Green. He told the paper:
“Frankly the council and, I believe, the majority of residents, see the presence of the X Factor in the street as part of life's rich tapestry.”Residents told the paper that they were happy with the contestants living in their street and that the crowd had been very polite.
Don’t Call Me Dave thinks that if anyone should move to a secluded location where they will be no bother to anyone else, it should be Brian Coleman, not the X-Factor contestants.
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Independent Catholic News reports the findings of a study into services for older people carried out by Middlesex University’s Social Policy Research Centre. That’s the university Barnet's resident big mouth Brian Coleman called "crap" before hypocritically accepting an honorary degree in 2008.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, said in response to the findings:
“Age is something that comes to us all…This is the critical message in providing care for the elderly…It enables us to see that behind all the political, economic and social questions of growing old is a human face, a life, a person – a mother, a father, brother or sister who is part of us and has helped to make us who we are. The elderly are not a burden but a gift – without them our lives and our society would be impoverished and diminished. They have a right to our resources and our care.”It is impossible to disagree with Archbishop Nichols unless, of course, you happen to be Cllr Lynne Hillan - architect of the shameful decision to decimate Barnet’s warden service for elderly residents living in sheltered accommodation.
Demonstrating that he knows nothing about running a business, Brian Coleman was interviewed by the BBC yesterday to discuss charges the Fire Brigade will impose if they are called out to rescue people trapped in lifts.
Landlords are required by law to maintain the lifts in their properties and there is nothing wrong with the principle of charging them for the cost of a Fire Brigade call out. But to knowingly charge less that the actual cost of providing the service, as Coleman has proposed, will not encourage landlords to comply with their responsibilities. Rather, it will do the complete opposite. Why pay a private contractor if the Fire Brigade are cheaper?
Rog T has some interesting proposals on his blog.
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
By all accounts, this recession is the worst in living memory. In the three months to August, unemployment rose to 2.47 million. But whereas 230,000 jobs were lost in the productive private sector between March and June, in the wastelands of the public sector 13,000 new jobs were created.
Not real jobs you understand. As fellow blogger Constantly Furious so eloquently puts it, we’re talking about Outreach Co-ordinators, Diversity Managers, Community Space Challenger Co-ordinators and Enviro-Crime Enforcement Officers. In short, interfering pen pushers and bureaucrats.
Comrade Mike Freer, never one to miss a socialist bandwagon, joined in the fun and appointed a Business Support Officer “in order to strengthen dialogue with local businesses in the borough”.
According to Freer’s report Responding to the recession in Barnet, this non-job will help the council to:
- Understand more about the experience of local businesses in the current economic climate
- Support local SMEs and enable them to be more aware of, and bid for, contracts from local developers
- Act as a conduit for support and advice
- Understand the skills needs of local businesses
- Encourage links between business and education
- Support contractors in the preparation and implementation of their Local Procurement Strategy documents
Don’t Call Me Dave has a simple question for anyone running a small business in Barnet. If you need advice to help get through the recession, do you:-
(a) ask your bank manager
(b) contact the Federation of Small Business or
(c) call the council which sunk £27.4 million into failed Icelandic banks just as other councils were getting out? Or which spent £1.4 million on obsolete lap top computers, or £31,000 on a room booking system which could have been bought for £2,000, or £14,000 on five flat screen televisions for chief officers, or £5,000 for our glorious leader to be flown business class on a junket to America?
Mike Freer talks about copying the Ryanair business model, but even after 15 pints of the black stuff, it is hard to imagine Michael O’Leary coming up with anything as stupid as this.
Monday, 26 October 2009
Ever since standing down from Barnet Council, former Edgware councillor Richard Weider (pictured left) has shown remarkable independence of thought, a trait sadly lacking in many of his former colleagues.
In a recent message posted on Rog T’s blog regarding Lynne Hillan, Richard wrote:
“…to my former Conservative colleagues I urge someone else to stand for leader against Lynne. This is not necessarily because I don't want her to win. Rather, it is because I don't want you to suffer a similar disaster to Labour under the failed Prime Minister that is Gordon Brown.
To become leader you need to show that you have the skills to persuade others, and that is best done through a leadership election. So I please urge someone to stand so that a proper debate can take place and the best leader can emerge, that can take the party forward to Conservative principles and for the residents.”
Richard Weider is completely right. The Conservatives won the 2006 council elections with Brian Salinger as leader, yet 21 Tory councillors (out of an electorate of 216,717) decided to ignore that result and anointed Mike Freer as leader. It would be an affront to democracy to impose a second successive leader on Barnet residents without an election.
Lynne Hillan has contested the leadership of the Conservative Group twice before and lost twice. If she is finally to become leader of the Conservative group, it should only be after a contest in which all the candidates have put forward their proposals to lead the council into the next elections and beyond.
But can it really be the case that only Lynne Hillan has a vision for the future of the council? Or have the other potential candidates been bought off with promises of key cabinet posts in a future Hillan Administration? Some councillors have become so addicted to their allowances that they dare not risk challenging for the leadership in case they lose and are banished to the back benches with the loss of £20,000 or more a year.
One of the privileges of being a member of the Conservative Party is that you have the right to take part in the development of policy. It says so quite clearly on the back of Don't Call Me Dave's membership card. Yet ordinary party members in Barnet have never been consulted over major policy issues such as the Barnet Bond, Future Shape or the decimation of the warden service.
If councillors expect rank-and-file members to campaign at the next election and sell the Conservative message on the doorstep, they too need to be involved in the leadership contest.
The comparison Richard Weider makes with Gordon Brown is a stark reminder of the consequence of appointing a leader simply on the basis of Buggins’ turn. We have a Prime Minister who is hopelessly out of his depth and drifting aimlessly. He has no policies, no sense of direction and no ability to communicate with the public - even over something as trivial as his favourite biscuit! He is leading his party to electoral catastrophe. Do Barnet's Tory Councillors really want to suffer the same fate?
Sunday, 25 October 2009
In July 2008, Barnet Council spent £1.4 million buying 1,400 near obsolete lap top computers, 100 of which are still in storage.
Cabinet Member for Resources, Lynne Hillan, has just authorised the purchase of another 300 tablet PCs at a cost of £277,937 - over £925 each. In her report, Cllr Hillan describes the purchase as “excellent value for money”. A quick visit to PC World would reveal that this purchase represents anything but good value.
Lynne Hillan wants to slash the warden service to save money but then pisses cash away like this.
If this is a sign of things to come under a Hillan leadership, then frankly we are doomed.
Thanks to Statler & Waldorf for the use of their photograph.