Tuesday 30 June 2009

Blog Of The Year

As we approach the half way point of the year, Not The Barnet Times has decided to break with convention and make an award for the best blog of 2009 - so far!

Competition has been fierce, but in the unanimous view of the judge, the most outstanding article was written by none other that Barnet’s own Rog T whose post on 13th June 2009 succinctly demonstrated the similarity between Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Council Leader Mike Freer.

Not The Barnet Times is pleased to publish an extract of the award winning blog below. The full post can be viewed here:

10 Reasons why
Gordon Brown Mike Freer should resign today

1. He wasn't the Leader at the last election

2. He plotted behind the scenes to depose the man who the country Barnet elected

3. He has used his leadership to promote a raft of people who clearly aren't up to the job

4. When the country went into recession Barnet Council lost £27.4 Million in Iceland he took no responsibility whatsoever despite being Prime Minister Council Leader and Cabinet Member for resource management, with a £3,000 responsibility allowance

5. He is happy to tolerate a Cabinet full of people who have gorged themselves on expenses allowances

6. He has promoted people such as Peter Mandleson Brian Coleman despite a long history of scandals

7. He never apologises for his mistakes

8. He is the architect of shameful policies which have destroyed peoples pensions will destroy the Sheltered Housing system and threaten the wellbeing of the Great Britain’s Barnet's elderly

9. He has become a laughing stock, which is bad for Britain Barnet

10. He has completely lost touch with the voters.

Congratulations Rog. Your prize is the reinstatement of the warden service which you can collect just as soon democracy and accountability are restored to Great Britain Barnet Council.

Monday 29 June 2009

The Generation Game

Not The Barnet Times does not concern itself with the private lives of private citizens. But when public figures use taxpayers’ money to wine and dine their girlfriends, then it becomes a matter of public interest.

Regular readers will know that former Deputy Mayor of London Ian Clement, 44, was forced to resign after it was revealed that he had improperly used his GLA corporate credit card to entertain his mistress Claire Dowson, 23, agent for Chipping Barnet Conservatives.

It was an open secret that Clement and Ms Dowson were an item. He accompanied her to the recent Mayor installation ceremony for his fellow trougher Brian Coleman, and Ms Dowson also took him as her guest to the wedding of backstabbing rising Tory star Sachin Rajput.

Clement was a very high profile member of staff earning a massive £127,784 a year. Don’t Call Me Dave does not understand why the GLA Chief Executive Leo Boland (pictured left) did not take Mr Clement to one side and tell him how sad and pathetic it was for an older man in a position of power to be carrying on a relationship with a woman young enough to be his daughter.

Emer Coleman, pictured right, was Director of Strategy for Barnet Council (Chief Spin Doctor to you and me) responsible for “overseeing the implementation of the council's communication and consultation strategies to ensure meaningful two-way communication between residents and the council” but who is now working on secondment to the GLA. However, according to an answer given at last week’s Hendon Residents Forum, she is still in possession of a Barnet corporate credit card.

Chairman of the Forum, Cllr Brian ‘Mandela’ Gordon was completely unaware that Ms Coleman was not currently working for the council, which does somewhat call into question her communication skills.

Whilst we are sure that Ms Coleman would not use her card improperly, that she still appears to have one is symptomatic of the slack financial controls in Barnet that led to £27.4 million of taxpayers’ money being deposited in Icelandic banks contrary to the council’s own guidelines.

Saturday 27 June 2009

Unavailable for Comment

The Barnet Press has published an article this week highlighting the heavily redacted expenses claims for Barnet’s three MPs.

The paper interviewed Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers and Hendon MP Andrew Dismore. However, Finchley MP Rudi Vis was “unavailable for comment” which simply proves his total lack of respect to the electorate who voted for him and helped pay for his retirement house by the coast.

In the same week, the Barnet Times featured an article about Brian Coleman’s obscene £400 taxi fare at taxpayers’ expense. When the paper contacted Coleman for a comment, he hung up the phone.

Coleman’s contempt for the taxpayer is becoming tiresome. If you go into public life, you are answerable to the public for your actions, whether you like it or not.

As Mayor of Barnet, Coleman no doubt hopes the newspapers will publish favourable articles about him every week with accompanying photos of him wearing the ceremonial bling. But if he is not prepared to answer legitimate questions about his abuse of the expenses system, then he forfeits the right to such publicity.

Not The Barnet Times suggests that our two local papers starve Coleman of the oxygen of publicity he so desperately craves unless and until he is prepared to justify his conduct to the public at a time when other serial troughers have been forced to reimburse taxpayers for their similar greed.

Tories abandon the vulnerable

Whilst David Cameron tries to convince the public that the Conservatives have changed and are ready for Government, Mike Freer proves that, in Barnet at least, the Tories remain the nasty party.

On 6th July 2009, the Cabinet will be revising the corporate plan for 2008/09 - 2012/13. Paragraph 9.2 states:
The previous ‘supporting the vulnerable’ priority theme has been changed to ‘promoting independence’.
So there we have it. The official line from Barnet is “We’re not looking after you any more. You are on your own”.

Just as Labour MPs bottled it when they had a chance to get rid of their useless and incompetent leader (who was similarly not elected Leader by the public) so Barnet’s Conservative councillors appear to be ready to head lemming-like into the political abyss because they won’t stand up to Freer and put an end to this nonsense.

Thursday 25 June 2009

Is Brian Coleman Britain’s most shameless councillor?

Despite two months of daily revelations exposing the greed of our elected representatives, it is still possible to uncover new tales of unbridled snout-in-the-troughism. And there are no prizes for guessing that it involves that man Coleman again.

The Guardian’s Dave Hill has discovered that on 10th November 2008, Brian Coleman claimed almost £400 for a single taxi ride!

Coleman was attending the Lord Mayor’s banquet at the Guildhall but because the pompous oaf is so utterly contemptuous of the taxpayer - and deluded as to his self importance - he kept the taxi waiting five hours while he stuffed his face sitting alongside the genuine VIPs.

Hubristic is insufficient a word to describe Brian Coleman. Last year he claimed almost £103,000 in allowances from the taxpayer yet, by his own admission, if he wasn’t a politician, he would be stacking the shelves at Tesco’s.

The Ian Clement scandal proves that Boris Johnson is an appalling judge of character. If he is to have any hope of redeeming himself in the eyes of the electorate, he must sack Coleman immediately as Chairman of the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority for this flagrant abuse of taxpayers' money.

The electorate will have an opportunity to do the same next year.

Villiers not repaying Stamp Duty

Conservative Party Leader David Cameron today announced that 41 Tory MPs will make further repayments of allowances worth £125,000. This is in addition to the £130,000 already repaid by other ‘Honourable’ Members.

Although Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers has agreed to give up the Additional Costs Allowance (ACA) in the future, she is not repaying the £16,000 stamp duty and other legal charges associated with the purchase of her second home last year.

When her expense claim was revealed by the Daily Telegraph, Mrs Villiers said: “In 2008, I purchased a second home. I then commenced claims for this second home under the ACA. All the claims relate to that second home and are legitimate and within the rules.”

Nobody disputes that the claim was permitted under the rules. But these were rules which benefited MPs only and were not available to any of her constituents.

We mere mortals are required by law to hand over ever larger sums of our hard earned cash in tax. Nobody likes paying tax but we accept it is a necessary part of living in a democracy. However, we expect our taxes to be used to benefit the whole country and not simply feather the nests of a few MPs.

Not The Barnet Times has a simple message for Mrs Villiers: Pay the money back!*

* The same message applies to Labour MPs Rudi Vis and Andrew Dismore who have both also made unacceptable claims under the ACA.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Sex, Lies and Credit Card Receipts

Barnet’s premier blogger, Rog T, recently complained that the Tories didn’t do sex scandals any more. Well former Deputy Mayor Ian Clement has proved our Rog wrong. Not only has Clement betrayed his long term partner and child, but he’s also been fiddling his expenses, just like the big boys in Westminster.

The Guardian’s Dave Hill has been running the story on Clement’s expenses in some detail.

Proving that you don’t need to be clever to get on in politics, it appears that Clement decided to take his lover Claire Dowson out for romantic trysts in Barnet and then charged the cost to taxpayers claiming he was actually having lunch with Mike Freer and Michael Rye, leaders of Barnet and Enfield Councils respectively. If he had just one brain cell, Clement would have known that council leaders keep diaries, and both Freer and Rye were able to prove they were not Clement’s dining partner on the dates in question.

Clement cannot claim he made an innocent mistake. He had written the names of Mike Freer and Michael Rye on the receipts he submitted to the GLA. The London Evening Standard has also reported on this story and noted that Clement's alleged business lunch on 5th November was actually a dinner date at a restaurant close to his lover’s home. The receipt is timed at 23:22. How romantic!

The news of Claire Dowson’s involvement in this scandal will come as a shock to members of Chipping Barnet Conservative Association where Ms Dowson is the agent. When contacted by the Evening Standard, she refused to deny her relationship with Clement or that she had been treated to meals at GLA expense, saying: “I don't want to say either way.”

These meals were paid for using a corporate credit card. Did Claire not notice the distinctive card or was she too busy gazing into Clement’s eyes? Did she not know that Clement had a long term partner and child? Everybody else did.

Claire Dowson was only appointed to her current position last year. She has been extremely foolish having an affair with a man old enough to be her father and her unsavoury behaviour has brought the Association into disrepute. If the Conservatives wish to regain some semblance of credibility in Barnet, they must sack her immediately.

If Ms Dowson really loves Ian Clement, she should learn how to bake a cake with a file in it.

UPDATE 24.06.09: A reader has contacted Don’t Call Me Dave to say that Claire Dowson is no longer the mistress, but the fiancé. Unfortunately, I have not been able to verify this as Ms Dowson has taken an unscheduled leave of absence from her office, but if true it will only serve to intensify questions as to how much she knew about Ian Clement’s abuse of his GLA corporate credit card.

At least Ms Dowson can claim something in common with Boris Johnson. Both have shown appalling judgement in their choice of associates.

Monday 22 June 2009

Hang Your Heads In Shame!

By electing John Bercow as the new Speaker, MPs have stuck two fingers up at the electorate.

Upon his election, Bercow said: “I continue to believe that the vast majority of members of this House are upright, decent, honourable people who have come into politics, not to feather their nests, but because they have heeded the call of public service.”

No doubt Mr Bercow also believes in the tooth fairy and Father Christmas.

His election is a shameful act by a shameful group of self serving parasites.

Department for Paper Clips

Following the Aerodrome Road Bridge debacle where a £12 million project has run £11 million over budget, Barnet Council has now established a department for paper clips and shuffling papers around Major Projects Directorate.

This department is to be run by Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director of Environment & Regeneration Brian Reynolds. Regular readers will know that Mr Reynolds is one of the council officers who was sent on a junket to the South of France at our expense.

The public will be surprised to know that this new directorate was not established by a council committee or even by a member of the Cabinet. Rather, it was set up on the authority of an unelected council officer Mr Clive Medlam who, in the opinion of Don’t Call Me Dave, should be prosecuted for his role in the Underhill indemnities.

Two issues arise from this:

First, why are officers able to take decisions of this nature without reference to the elected councillors?

Second, when will the council recognise that public bodies are institutionally incapable of managing major projects? The Millennium Dome, the Olympics, ID cards, NHS Database are just a few of the well known public sector projects which have run massively over budget.

A Major Projects Directorate will do nothing to improve project management in the Borough. It will serve only to increase bureaucracy and create a few more non-jobs. Sir Humphrey would be proud!

Sunday 21 June 2009

Bridge over troubled Hendon

Sources close to the Cabinet have told Not The Barnet Times that Cllr Andrew Harper has changed his mind and will now throw his hat into the ring for the leadership contest due to take place this autumn when Mike Freer is told by Conservative Central Office to quit steps down.

Last Thursday, Cllr Harper appeared before the Business Management Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committee to defend the Aerodrome Road bridge debacle where the project is £11 million over budget.

Harper’s line was that the council was naïve about the costs and that it was not poor project management but rather poor estimating. He claimed that taxpayers have got a good deal. Goodness knows what a bad deal would be in the world of Andrew Harper.

With logic like this, and a refusal to apologise to taxpayers for yet another cock-up, Mr Harper is probably the ideal candidate to replace Teflon Freer.

Friday 19 June 2009

Conservative council leads by example

Conservative Home website reports that Devon County Council, where the Conservatives won control two weeks ago, is slashing the allowances paid to councillors by £80,000 a year. According to the report:

Savings include a freeze on basic allowances, scrapping a scrutiny committee which paid allowances to its chairman and vice chairman and which duplicated other committees, scrapping allowances for six councillors to support the executive councillors, reducing the leader's special responsibility allowance from £27,425 a year to £25,000 and that of the deputy leader from £21,940 to £20,000.

Of course the £80,000 saving in the context of the total Council budget is tiny. That is not the point. By making savings themselves the Council leadership will be emboldened in seeking them elsewhere. The new Council leader Cllr John Hart has pledged to “getting tough on administrative costs and waste wherever we can.”
Barnet Council also has a leader who claims to be tough on cost cutting, yet Mike Freer flew business class to America at our expense and gave his buddy Brian Coleman a £10,000 legal indemnity to hire a top legal firm even though the council’s insurers were willing to provide a free solicitor. Freer also allowed senior officers to go on junkets to the south of France, spend tens of thousands on wide screen televisions, and most recently spend £31,000 on a room booking system which could have been bought for just £2,000.

Can you imagine Freer or Coleman agreeing to vote themselves a reduction in their allowances? Between them, they actually make some MPs seem quite frugal.

Too Frit To Save The Wardens!

The last ditch attempt by Barnet LibDems to save the warden service sadly failed last night due to the cowardly actions of Conservative councillors on the Management Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committee.

Cllr Jack Cohen, the LibDem leader, questioned Cabinet Member for Community Services Richard Cornelius over the cuts which will leave vulnerable sheltered residents without the presence of a warden that most of them have come to rely on.

Cllr Cornelius admitted that not one single member of the cabinet had met with or even spoken to any residents in sheltered housing during the consultation process, despite being invited to do so. Asked why this was the case, Cllr Cornelius said: “It would have been too upsetting.”

Cllr Jack Cohen expressed his disbelief: “It is quite clear they were frightened, scared stiff of facing up to their responsibilities. Shame on all of them I say.” As the former Member of Parliament for Finchley would have put it, they were frit.

When Cllr Cohen’s motion to refer the decision back to cabinet was put to the vote, Conservative Councillors Wendy Prentice, Bridget Perry, Dean Cohen and Daniel Webb (pictured left to right below) decided to do Mike Freer’s dirty work and opposed it, rather than standing up for the residents who elected them. Cllr Joan Scannell abstained from voting.

The three Labour councillors present voted with Jack Cohen meaning that the result was a tie. Chairman Wendy Prentice then used her casting vote to defeat Cllr Cohen’s motion, effectively confining the Sheltered Housing Warden Scheme to the scrap heap.

Cllr Jack Cohen said: “This shows the Tories in their true colours. Not one of them asked any questions. They had the chance to stand up an be counted and they blew it. Tonight has been a bad day for democracy in Barnet and bad news for our residents in sheltered housing.”

Despite our political differences, Not The Barnet Times and Rog T’s The Barnet Eye have both argued strongly against the warden cuts. This is not an issue of left or right, but one of right and wrong and the council is simply wrong to pursue these wicked cuts when the public have stated quite clearly that they want the existing service retained.

Wendy Prentice and Bridget Perry are both High Barnet Councillors where only a small swing to the LibDems will throw them out of office. Labour only need an extra 30 votes in Underhill to dislodge Daniel Webb. If any of these three Conservative councillors lose their seats next year, they will have only themselves to blame.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Barnet Council deliberately wastes taxpayers’ money

Last month, Not The Barnet Times revealed how Barnet Council was wasting £31,000 of your money on an expensive room booking system when much cheaper alternatives were available.

Our friends at The Barnet Times followed up this article and interviewed the owner of a software development company, Sapnagroup, who said that his company could produce a program costing only £2,000.

A council spokesman told the newspaper that they could not understand how the quote from Sapnagroup could be so low. Sadly, nobody in the council could even be bothered to pick up the phone to them and find out.

Not The Barnet Times subsequently wrote to the council asking: “Given that the council has now been made aware that there are other systems available which will do the required task for a significantly cheaper price, will it start the tendering process again or is it continuing with the more expensive product?”

A council spokesman replied: “The council will not be re-tendering in regards to the room booking system.”

So there we have it. Barnet Council slashes the warden service saying it needs to save money, yet wastes £29,000 on a room booking system because it is too arrogant to admit that it doesn’t always know what is best.

This attitude is symptomatic of the Gordon Brown mentality where every problem can be solved by throwing ever larger sums of public money at it.

A private company would very soon go bust if it adopted this attitude. The people who take these spending decisions have little to no experience of working in the private sector, and most of them would fail miserably if they tried.

In this instance, the officer who took the decision did not speak to software companies. He spoke to other councils. Better to keep the old boy network happy than save taxpayers’ some money.

When Mike Freer launched his coup to become leader of the council in 2006, he promised to be absolutely ruthless on cost cutting. This is yet another example to prove that he is a complete phoney.

Monday 15 June 2009

Lib Dem leader calls on Tories to stand up to Freer and save the wardens

In a last ditch attempt to save the warden service, Lib Dem leader Jack Cohen has appealed to the conscience of back bench Conservative councillors to support his attempt to force Mike Freer to reconsider plans which will decimate the service provided to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

Barnet’s cabinet decided last week to completely ignore the results of the public consultation which found overwhelmingly in favour of retaining the existing warden service, so Cllr Cohen has ‘called in’ the decision which means that the council cannot now go ahead with its plans until the Business Management Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committee have scrutinised the proposals.

Councillor Cohen has described the cabinet decision an “absolute sham” and “a put up job”. He says that Thursday’s meeting of the scrutiny sub-committee will be an opportunity to put cabinet members on the spot. “I will be asking searching questions and if I do not receive satisfactory responses I will be proposing than the decision to scrap the wardens is put on hold and that the Cabinet is requested to look at this again.”

Cllr Cohen added: “I will watching what the Conservative members of the scrutiny committee do on all of this. I have heard rumours of discontent amongst Tory back benches. Well this will be an opportunity for any caring Conservatives to put their heads above the parapet and back me in trying to stop the proposals going through.”

It is not just back bench councillors who are unhappy with the decision to scrap the warden service. Ordinary party members and activists simply cannot understand why Mike Freer is pursuing this reckless and ill conceived proposal. David Cameron has expended enormous time and energy re-branding the Conservative Party to shed its ‘nasty’ image, and all Freer has done is prove that the leopard has not changed its spots.

Like Gordon Brown, Mike Freer has no mandate to represent the people he supposedly leads, and the Conservative council has no mandate to introduce these cuts. Conservative members of the sub-committee seeking re-election in 2010 need to think very carefully as to whether they will simply rubber stamp Freer’s proposals or if they will instead stand up and represent the people who have demanded that the warden service be retained in its present form.

Mike Freer will not be holding your hand on the campaign trail next May. Like his political soul mate Gordon Brown, he will willingly dump on you from a great height if it enhances his own political career. Whilst the Conservatives are ahead in the national polls, history has shown time and time again that voters will punish politicians who try and push through unpopular and unnecessary policies. If you are a Conservative councillor, do you really want to take that risk?

Hattip to vickim57 for the above photo.

Saturday 13 June 2009

Freer awarded MBE!

Not The Barnet Times congratulates Mr Roy Freer who has been awarded the MBE for services to the community in Dunnington, York in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Who did you think we were referring to?

Congratulations are also due to Mrs Mary Karaolis, Head Teacher of the Ravenscroft School and Technology College, Barnet who receives an OBE for services to Education.

Friday 12 June 2009

Art or criminal damage?

Not The Barnet Times does not condone graffiti which is a bane to householders and businesses across the country, yet we must confess to having a secret admiration for renowned artist Banksy’s latest ‘stunt’.

With public confidence in our political lords and masters at an all time low, perhaps we are envious of Banksy’s skilful way of sticking two fingers up at the establishment?

The full story is available on the BBC website.

Thursday 11 June 2009

Is Mike Freer a Tory?

Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, the Conservative leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, has written an article for the Conservative Home website in which he talks about the ‘principles of administration’ for Conservative councils.

One of his recommendations is to: "cut expenditure in all areas of council that does not support frontline service delivery (e.g. political advisers, committee coordination and communication)." Contrast this to Mike Freer’s Barnet which spent £85,360 last year on political assistants, £59,860 on a cabinet adviser, £300,000 on press and PR and £103,000 on Barnet First propaganda magazine.

Cllr Greenhalgh recommends using competitive tendering to drive out inefficiencies. In Mike Freer’s Barnet, the council is spending £31,000 of taxpayers’ money on a room booking system which could be acquired for £2,000 if they had bothered to look.

But most crucial of all Cllr Greenhalgh’s recommendations is that councils should: “be prepared to spend more money where your residents want to see better services.”

In Barnet, residents have stated loud and clear that they want the warden service retained. Mike Freer’s arrogant response was to tell residents that if we don’t like the council’s policies, we shouldn’t vote Conservative.

The public were consulted. The public said “we don’t like your policy.” Freer has told us not to vote Conservative. Clearly, he can’t be a Tory.

£800 a minute councillor

Research has uncovered that a Councillor in Tower Hamlets, one of the most deprived boroughs in London, received an allowance of £8,069 for chairing a committee which sat for only 10 minutes in 2008/09

That works out at £800.06 per minute.

The lucky recipient of taxpayers’ hard earned cash is Labour councillor Salim Ullah.

And you thought I was going mention someone else, didn’t you?

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Barnet pays for Ronnie Biggs but not for wardens

The London Evening Standard has published an article revealing that Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs will spend his final days in a nursing home, at a cost to Barnet taxpayers of tens of thousands of Pounds a year.

As Mike Freer’s Cabinet strips wardens from honest, decent people who fought for their country, it is nothing less than an outrage that Barnet Council is forking out for 24 hour nursing care for Britain's biggest crook.

Freer told opponents of the warden cuts: “If you don't like our policies, you can vote us out in 2010” but he won’t care if the Conservatives lose control next year because he won’t be standing for council again. It means that other councillors will have to fight a campaign to defend a policy that was not of their choosing - although they have done precious little to stop it.

At the next General Election, residents of Finchley & Golders Green should let Freer know what they think of his wicked policy which discriminates in favour of a common thief over respectable citizens.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

State funding for political parties by the back door

The Daily Telegraph’s investigation into MPs expenses has revealed that political parties have received huge amounts of taxpayers’ money without our knowledge.

Former Tory Party leader Michael Howard paid his local Conservative Association £44,000 over the last four years for office services. Mr Howard was grilled about these payments on the BBC’s Daily Politics programme but in his defence he asked whether the payments were improper. It was a valid question because many, if not most, MPs pay their respective associations in this way.

The question which needs to be addressed is whether this is an appropriate use of public money. Should political associations effectively be subsidised by taxpayers’ money?

MPs will undoubtedly argue that they need an office in their constituency, and paying rent to their local political association is no different to paying rent to a commercial landlord. But who sets the rent and what scrutiny is there of the whole process?

Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers has declared the following payment made on 20th May 2009:
Administrative & Office Expenditure. Monthly rent and service payment to Chipping Barnet Conservative Association for constituency office facilities: £715.85
which works out at £8,590 a year. Not The Barnet Times does not know how much, if anything, Rudi Vis and Andrew Dismore pay to their respective Labour associations.

Taxpayers have never been consulted about these payments. If you are a Conservative supporter living in a Labour constituency, are you happy that your tax is being spent helping to pay the running costs of the local Labour office?

MPs say they need their constituency offices to hold public surgeries, but there is no reason why they cannot be held in local libraries at little or no cost to the taxpayer. Surgeries could be rotated between all the libraries in the constituency, which would be much fairer to residents who are sometimes forced to travel from one side of the Borough to the other. Rather than the public travelling to their MP, the MP should travel to the people.

Similarly, there is no reason why every MP cannot have a freephone or local rate phone number which connects to their office in Westminster so that residents can leave a message and/or make an appointment. In this day and age, every MP should make use of e-mail as much as possible.

There is no longer any need for an expensive tax payer funded constituency office and in the current climate of anger over the abuse of the expenses system, MPs now have an opportunity to prove that they are serious about reform.

Monday 8 June 2009

Swing to Labour in Totteridge By-Election

As you will have read elsewhere, the Conservatives comfortably won the by-election in Totteridge last week. Not The Barnet Times congratulates Alison Cornelius on her election to the council.

However, the shine will have been taken of her victory by a closer analysis of the result below which shows a marginal, but very significant, swing to Labour of 0.01%. The reason this is significant is because everywhere else in the country, the Labour vote collapsed.

Nobody seriously expected the Conservatives to lose a seat in their safest ward, but given the anti Labour mood in the country, it is quite remarkable that their vote held up here.

This by-election was caused by the resignation of Caroline Margo who has moved to Hertsmere with her young family. She stood for election last week in Watling and had a stunning victory with over 71% of the vote. In her new ward, the Labour vote completely disintegrated, as you would expect.

The Totteridge result is certain to be investigated by the Conservative leadership. If Labour’s vote can hold up in a ward where they had absolutely no hope of winning, Party managers will want to know the reason, as they will clearly be worried for the General Election.

Not The Barnet Times suggests that a quick glance through the archives of this blog will reveal why Mike Freer is the only Conservative Council leader to see a swing to Labour this week.

Thursday 4 June 2009

The Continuing Cost of Coleman

Regular readers will be aware that Mike Freer, leader of Barnet Council, recently awarded his chum Brian Coleman £10,000 of taxpayers’ money for a legal indemnity.

Instead of the free Solicitor offered by the council’s insurers, Coleman decided that he wanted legal representation from Messrs Beachcrofts at a cost of £297 an hour for a partner.

However, a report to the Cabinet Resources Committee reveals that Beachcrofts are one of a number of firms of Solicitors on a panel providing legal services to the council at a much lower cost.

The council has negotiated a deal whereby it can now obtain the services of a partner for £175 an hour.

It is bad enough having to pay for Coleman’s Solicitor when there was a free option available, but it is quite clear that the council could and should have obtained a much better deal. The blame for wasting public resources lies entirely with Mike Freer because he, and he alone, took the decision to appoint Beachcrofts - even though he knew there were cheaper options available.

So the next time you hear Mike Freer talking about the need to cut costs and improve efficiency, just tell him this. You don’t know what you’re doing.

Wednesday 3 June 2009

Freer shud go bak 2 Skool

The writing is on the wall for Brown

When Gordon Brown anointed himself Prime Minister, he famously said he wanted a government of all the talents.

With Hazel Blears becoming the latest Minister to desert the sinking ship, and Caroline Flint rumoured to be packing her bags, Not the Barnet Times asks: Talent? What talent? There is nobody left.

Not that anybody would consider Jacqui Smith, Tom Watson or Hazel Blears talented.

UPDATE: Constantly Furious has described Hazel Blears' resignation as “falling on her toothpick.” Brilliant!

Barnet Tory to work for nothing!

Another Not The Barnet Times Exclusive!

With less than a day to go before the European Elections, Not The Barnet Times can exclusively reveal that Conservative EU Candidate Marina Yannakoudakis will waive her council allowances if she is elected to the European Parliament.

Marina told the Barnet Press that if she gets elected tomorrow she will continue to serve as a ward councillor until next year thereby avoiding an expensive by-election. If anyone thinks Marina will be taking on too much, they clearly haven’t met her! In any event, when John Marshall was first elected MP for Hendon South in 1987, he continued as an MEP until 1989 and nobody complained about that.

Anyone who has served on a committee under Marina's chairmanship, as I have, will vouch for her ruthless efficiency and boundless energy. There is no doubt that she will be able to combine the tasks of councillor and MEP effortlessly.

Cynics amongst you might suggest that with an MEP’s salary Marina can readily afford to give up her council allowances, but that would be an unfair criticism given that there are several councillors we can all name who would grab as many allowances as they could fit into their toughs without a moment’s hesitation.

Politicians are a pretty discredited bunch at the moment so we should give credit to Marina who recognises that taxpayers are not a bottomless pit of money.

Unlike Lord Tebbit who called for a boycott of the major parties, Not The Barnet Times has no hesitation in urging all its readers to vote Conservative on Thursday and elect Marina Yannakoudakis as one of London’s MEPs.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

Bring Them To Justice!

If it wasn’t bad enough that so many MPs have been caught with their snouts in the trough, some of these self-serving money-grabbing parasites are trying to hang on until the next election so that they can pocket a golden handshake and index linked pension.

But rather than just moan about this den of iniquity, the Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA) is doing something about it.

Chief Executive Matthew Elliott has announced that if the Police and Crown Prosecution Service fail to act, the TPA will bring private prosecutions against any MP who has broken the law with fraudulent claims on their expenses.

The TPA has launched a fighting fund appeal to help pay for the legal costs of bringing dishonest MPs to justice and contributions from the public are needed to help in the battle to clean up Westminster. Not The Barnet Times urges its readers to support this worthy appeal.

Monday 1 June 2009

Barnet's Got Talent

Politics has dominated the news agenda for May. June looks likely to be much the same. But for one night only, Not The Barnet Times invites you to forget your troubles and enjoy watching one of East Barnet’s finest restaurateurs, Stavros Flatley, performing with his son on Britain’s Got Talent.