Tuesday 29 September 2009

Back To The Future: The Battle For Brunswick Park

One of the reasons politicians dislike the blogosphere is because bad news just won’t go away. A critical story in a newspaper is in the recycling box a week later and soon forgotten. But thanks to the tireless efforts of bloggers, there is no longer a hiding place for anyone found behaving badly.

Take the picture below, for example, which shows the car belonging to husband and wife councillors Andreas and Joanna Tambourides parked on the pavement.

Don’t Call Me Dave first posted this picture on 5th July in a blog entitled: “One law for us. One law for them.” Cllr Joanna Tambourides is the Assistant Cabinet Member for Transport and sources advise that she was not very happy when this picture was published. A few comments were posted by readers at the time.

Roll the clock forward twelve weeks and a new comment has just been posted by someone called Drew, who says:
“In Cllr A Tambourides Brunswick Park ward we have a situation that in one street residents are allowed to park on the pavements whereas in an adjoining road the residents are banned from parking on one side of the road. This is nothing to do with improving the quality of residents lives but simply put these are measures to allow vehicles a high speed 'plain sail' through the neighbourhood. The result of this disrespectful & treacherous policy = Rat Runs. The Tambourides are obstacles in the way of civilised progess and the residents of my road are slowly realising they have been duped by these people and suffice too say I will be mobilising the forces in time for the local May elections next year.”
Perhaps this is just a highly localised issue which will have no electoral consequences for Andreas Tambourides. Or maybe it signifies the beginning of the end for the councillor nicknamed ‘Tambourgreedies’ because of his propensity to stack up allowances. Only time will tell.

But the timing of Drew’s comment serves as an important lesson for all politicians: however hard you try to forget or ignore the past, the blogosphere ensures that your previous conduct and any misdemeanours will forever remain in the public spotlight.

Saturday 26 September 2009

Leo Boland’s £1.5 million bill for Londoners

Information Technology website The Register reports that former Barnet Chief Executive Leo Boland, pictured right, is heading for a clash with the Electoral Commission over e-counting. Boland, installed in January as Boris Johnson’s £205,000 a year Chief Executive, has personally decided to install electronic counting machines for the next Greater London Authority (GLA) elections in 2012.

Boland has completely ignored expert concerns about electoral fraud, and his own staff have estimated that the cost of an electronic count will be £1.5 million higher than a manual count.

The Electoral Commission, who will report their findings next week are reportedly “absolutely livid” at Boland’s peremptory action. Only two companies are being considered for the lucrative contract, both of whom have previously been involved in election controversies.

According to The Register:
Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group (ORG), which acted as an official observer organisation at the London e-count last year, said Boland's decision suggested he didn't understand the problems associated with e-counting.

He said: “Given the desire to charge ahead without proper analysis of its own Cost Benefit Analysis, and analysis of its suppliers, ORG is not confident that the GLA properly understands the risks it is taking.

“Putting aside the risks from technical errors, failures or hacks, the GLA have completely failed to make the case that spending £1.5m more on the 2012 election is the best way to spend London taxpayers' money.”

Killock added that ORG believes the GLA's cost versus benefit analysis had been biased in favour of e-counting, and had probably underestimated the extra expense.

None of this will come as any surprise to Barnet residents who witnessed first hand the unelected and unaccountable Boland’s contempt for the democratic process when he authorised the purchase of five flat screen Sony televisions for himself, Emer Coleman and three other Barnet officers at a cost to taxpayers of £14,000 (as part of a £90,000 contract for audio visual equipment) without bothering to tell councillors how the money was being spent.

Earlier this year, Boland was responsible for the cack-handed distribution of the GLA’s tickets to the annual Buckingham Palace garden party. Disgraced BNP Assembly Member Richard Barnbrook was inexplicably given an invitation to this prestigious event, thereby putting the Queen in a potentially embarrassing position.

At a time when the public are crying out for an end to waste, it is nothing short of scandalous that a Conservative Administration is prepared to spend £1.5 million of taxpayers’ money simply so that the count can be conducted a little bit quicker. If Boris wishes to retain a shred of credibility, he must sack Boland immediately.

Friday 25 September 2009

Coleman Does It Again!

Another Not The Barnet Times Exclusive!

Just eight days after being found guilty of breaching the Members Code of Conduct, Brian Coleman has once again been sending offensive e-mails over the council’s servers.

Richard Cornelius, Cabinet Member for Community Services, sent the e-mail below to his Conservative colleagues on 18th September. (click image to enlarge)

Cllr Brian Coleman replied as follows:
“PRIVATE AND POLITICAL. Let us hope the dreadful Hossack woman is struck off by the Law Society , in the current climate the sensible nature of Barnet's changes is becoming more evident every day.”
Yvonne Hossack was facing six professional misconduct charges brought following complaints made by Northamptonshire, Hull and Staffordshire councils after she had challenged their attempts to slash their warden services.

But, no doubt to Coleman’s chagrin, the Law Society cleared Ms Hossack of these charges. The disciplinary panel found that an allegation relating to disclosing information to a third party did breach a rule at the lowest level but decided that it warranted no further action.

Despite being found guilty, Coleman escaped punishment for calling Rog T an obsessive poisonous liar because Barnet’s Standards Sub-Committee decided that his remarks were not at “the serious end of disrespect”. A few hours later, he was celebrating his conviction with Champagne in a local restaurant. But in the world according to Coleman, a respectable Solicitor doing her job should have been struck off. Fortunately, the Law Society has more sense than the former Cabinet Member for canap├ęs.

Despite all the negative publicity about the loss of warden services, Brian Coleman clearly supports this policy which he thinks is sensible “in the current climate”. A bit rich from the man who has just grabbed himself another £15,000 in allowances.

Coleman marked his e-mail “Private and Political”. As Mayor of Barnet, he is supposed to be politically neutral. Is another trip to the Standards Committee on the cards?

Public Fed Up With Colman

The public’s love affair with Colman is over.

Sales of their famous mustard have declined by over 5% in the last year alone.

Apparently Colman’s is too strong for the English palate. Today’s customers prefer something milder.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Brent Cross Redevelopment On Hold

In a shock announcement, Barnet Council has announced that it intends to defer the Brent Cross planning application by a month. Cllr Maureen “I didn’t know I needed planning permission for my shed Braun, Chairman of the Planning Committee said:

“I will be recommending to colleagues that we defer hearing the application for the Brent Cross Cricklewood redevelopment. This is both a very large and a very important scheme for the future of Barnet. We have had several detailed representations in the last few days and it is important that the council gives these the fullest consideration. I want everyone to appreciate that representations will be dealt with professionally, transparently and in full.”

Quite coincidentally, the announcement comes after the Barnet Times reported that public objections to the proposals had gone missing.

Cynics will argue that the delay allows time for Mike Freer and Brian “I am not going to differ from the leader in any matter of any sort in public or in private” Coleman to resolve their differences over this contentious development.

Council Leader Mike Freer - who is also the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for the constituency most affected by these proposals - will be anxious to avoid a public row with his own lieutenant with the Party’s crucial annual conference less than two weeks away.

Friday 18 September 2009

Nudge Nudge, Wink Wink!

Nudging - or brainwashing to use the correct term - is the latest buzzword to describe the method by which politicians seek to control our behaviour if we refuse to be good boys and girls and act in a manner the state deems to be acceptable.

Never one to sidestep a bandwagon, council leader Mike Freer has readily spent taxpayers’ money conducting this pernicious social engineering experiment in Barnet.

Mr Freer was interviewed by Daniel Finklestein for the programme “Persuading Us To Be Good” broadcast on BBC Radio 4 this week.

The idea behind ‘nudging’ is that the messages are supposed to be subtle and discreet - almost subliminal. In Barnet, however, the nudgers are in your face, knocking on doors and telling people to repent their evil ways.

In the interview, Mike Freer says:
“The council has a leadership role. The role of the council has shifted over the last 10 or 20 years from simply being a provider of services, to actually being responsible for helping local citizens improve their lives. I think basically nudging people along - it’s a terrific idea…
Compare these words with Freer’s recent column in the Barnet Press:
“We no longer turn up and say: “We are from the council, we think you need this.” We are moving to: “We are from the council, what do you think you need?” Of course this involves help and advice from experts, but where in the past there was a feeling that the council knew best, now we think that you do.”
A classic case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

Thursday 17 September 2009

Brian Coleman Is Right!

Earlier this month, we reported that a row appeared to be brewing between Mike Freer and Brian Coleman. Despite seizing office on a promise to end massive over development in the borough, Cllr Freer has backed plans for the regeneration of Brent Cross which includes 7,500 rabbit hutches homes in an area already suffering from massive congestion.

Don’t Call Me Dave, in conjunction with most of the mainstream media and blogosphere, has been a vociferous critic of Brian Coleman’s excessive allowances (£103,000 last year), exorbitant expense claims (£400 for one taxi) and his contemptuous attitude towards those who dare to disagree with him - his refusal to apologise for breaching the Members Code of Conduct being a prime example.

However, the Barnet Times reports that Cllr Coleman, wearing his hat as a member of the Greater London Assembly, has now formally objected to Mike Freer’s proposals and it would be churlish not to recognise that sometimes Mr Coleman is correct. Whilst Brent Cross would undoubtedly benefit from some regeneration, Freer’s plans are totally disproportionate and will bring yet more gridlock and misery to the surrounding areas.

When asked about the plans, Brian Coleman told the London Evening Standard:
“I think it is appalling. Where is Prince Charles when you need him?”
Don’t Call Me Dave agrees unreservedly with Brian Coleman. Rog T, a long standing critic of Mr Coleman, also opposes Freer’s proposals, as do Brent and Camden councils.

Aside from the density and congestion issues, one of the troubling aspects of Freer’s plans is that it involves building a waste handling facility on the site of Bestway Cash & Carry. The owners of this site have repeatedly stated that they do not wish to sell to the developers. Why should they have to? As a supporter of the European Convention on Human Rights, Brian Coleman will undoubtedly be aware of the fundamental right to own property, and he clearly appreciates that it would be scandalous for a Conservative administration to authorise the compulsory purchase of the site.

Cllr Coleman’s public opposition to Mike Freer will come as a surprise to many given that he recently told the Standards Board Investigator:
“I have to say the leader of the council is a first class leader and I am not going to differ from him in any matter of any sort in public or in private.”
Questions will inevitably now be raised as to whether Coleman’s apparent volte face is, in fact, a prelude to a leadership challenge. Cllr Freer, who will not be standing for the council next year, must relinquish the leadership soon to give his successor sufficient time to establish himself - or herself - before the elections. For Mr Coleman, this could be his last chance for the top job with so many younger Tory councillors snapping at his heels.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

EasyCouncil Wardens Grounded by High Court injunction

The Guardian reports that Barnet Council has been served with a High Court injunction preventing it from removing warden services, pending a Judicial Review. The paper describes the decision as a major setback for Mike Freer’s easyCouncil plans.

By Robert Booth

A London council that launched a cost-cutting drive inspired by no-frills airlines has been served with an injunction to stop it ending live-in wardens for older people in sheltered housing.

Mr Justice Silber, sitting in the high court, has ordered Conservative-controlled Barnet to take no further steps to remove residential wardens from 52 sites across the borough, pending a possible judicial review. The challenge by a group in the sheltered housing could be widened to include 50 other councils where similar cuts are proposed.

Residents in Bradford, Bristol, Scarborough, Exeter and Evesham have signed up to be part of further high court actions as local authorities face a crisis in public finances which could wipe £26bn off council budgets by 2013, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

The order against Barnet is a setback to the reforms proposed by the council leader, Mike Freer, seen as a test of wider Conservative policy should David Cameron win the next general election. The council wants a basic service and charges for anything more sophisticated.

"People have got off their backsides and are getting involved in this issue," said David Young, 78, chairman of the UK Pensioners' Strategy Committee, which got the injunction so they can keep their wardens instead of the offered alternative of "floating" wardens to cover several sites from next year. Young said: "This affects 500,000 old people across the country."

The group's claim is that Barnet has acted unlawfully by ignoring the terms of the residents' tenancy agreements, its duties under the disability discrimination act, and the effect on tenants, particularly those who are disabled.
www.guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2009

EasyCouncil wheelie bin shock. Residents to be given half size bins.

For the last two weeks, the mainstream media and blogosphere has been discussing Mike Freer’s proposal to model Barnet Council on budget airlines easyJet and Ryanair.

On Monday, Cllr Freer was interviewed on Radio 4’s You and Yours programme in which he gave an example of how his plans - dubbed easyCouncil - will actually work.

Cllr Freer denied that the council was looking to charge more for providing a premium service (which is what the budget airlines do). Rather, residents would pay less if they use less. Mr Freer cited refuse collection to demonstrate the point. He said:
“Mr Resident, that full wheelie bin is costing you, the taxpayer, £300 a year in landfill tax. Tell you what. Have a half size bin, recycle more and over the year if we find that you are not putting out side waste at the end of the year we’ll give you £100 or £200 back.”
There are two immediate problems with this proposition.

First, for residents to recycle more, the council has to substantially increase the range of materials which can be collected at the kerbside. At present, Barnet residents cannot recycle the following:
yoghurt pots
margarine tubs
plastic cups
plastic tubes
plastic food trays
sandwich packets
plastic wrapping
cling film
fruit juice/milk cartons
cardboard which has been contaminated with food waste (e.g. dirty pizza boxes)
all of which make up a significant proportion of our current domestic waste.

The second problem is the condition Cllr Freer proposes to impose before residents qualify for lower council tax: “…if we find that you are not putting out side waste…”

In other words, once you have filled your wheelie bin, do not leave out any surplus waste in bin bags.

The corollary of offering a lower charge for less waste is that you pay a higher charge if you have more. But how many families could realistically expect to get by with a half size wheelie bin each week?

It is not difficult to foresee what will happen. Once your own bin has been filled, residents will either put their waste in other people's bins or, worse still, just dump it in the street in order not to lose the discount.

Barnet Council made a pledge to maintain weekly refuse collection services in the borough. But by cutting the bin size in half, they will effectively be reneging on this pledge by stealth.

Monday 14 September 2009

Thank You!

Sometimes we forget to thank people who selflessly help us with our endeavours. Don’t Call Me Dave would therefore like to take this opportunity to publicly thank those who, for obvious reasons, must remain anonymous but have contributed to this blog by providing information for articles. Information which, in many instances, would not have seen the light of day without their kind assistance.

So to the secret supporters of Not The Barnet Times who believe in honesty, sincerity and integrity: thank you for fighting the good fight in the name of free speech and for helping to remind our elected leaders that they are accountable to us.

Saturday 12 September 2009

Pot Accuses Kettle (2)

When former council leader Victor Lyon awarded two Labour councillors, a former Labour council leader and three council officers a legal indemnity, Brian Coleman was incensed.

Don’t Call Me Dave was present at the Conservative Group meeting when the matter was discussed. Cllr Coleman vigorously argued that whilst officers should be entitled to indemnities, councillors should have no claim on the public purse.

As regular readers will know, Brian Coleman had no qualms in recently seeking a legal indemnity for himself which cost taxpayers £10,000.

As Mr Coleman was unanimously found guilty by the Standards Sub-Committee of breaching the Members Code of Conduct, the self styled King of Bling must be ordered to repay the taxpayer for his legal costs. He can certainly afford to.

Pot Accuses Kettle (1)

Last week, the London Evening Standard interviewed Cllr Mike Freer, who said:
“There is nothing wrong with genuine political debate but the one thing that blogging does allow people to do is to say the vilest things without having the guts to put their heads above the parapet.”
This is the same Mike Freer who told another interviewer that communicating with residents was “a pain in the arse” and called his critics “nutters” and “not normal”.

He also said:
“I have a group of followers what I call the ‘one handed bloggers’. I’ll leave it to your own imagination what the other hand is doing."
How charming.

Thursday 10 September 2009

No sanction. No Surprise.

Mayor of Barnet, Brian Coleman, was today found guilty of breaching the Members Code of Conduct for calling Rog T an obsessive poisonous liar. The Standards Sub-Committee hearing the case decided that no sanction should be imposed on the First Citizen of the Borough.

This should come as no surprise to anyone. It was only recently that the sub-committee decided to take no action against Leader Mike Freer for calling residents “nutters” and “a pain in the arse” as well as crudely suggesting that bloggers masturbate whilst writing about him.

When it comes to taking no action, Barnet Council has form. Following the 2004 High Court ruling that the sale of land at Underhill was unlawful, the Borough Solicitor - legally responsible for approving and signing the sale contract - was not sacked or even demoted. Rather, he was promoted to Head of Corporate Governance. That taught him a lesson!

Apparently, the Standards Committee will be writing to the Council with recommendations for councillor training. What does that say about the calibre of councillor in this borough that they need to be trained not to call residents liars or wankers?

Coleman: “This time there is a suggestion that he may well have crossed the line”


The lunchtime edition of BBC London News reports on the continuing hearing into the allegation that Brian Coleman breached the Members’ Code of Conduct by calling Rog T an obsessive poisonous liar.

3pm Update: The Standards Sub Committee unanimously decided that Brian Coleman breached the Members Code of Conduct. His lawyers are now pleading mitigation.

3.45pm Update: The Standards Sub-Committee have just announced their sanction. Er…Nothing.

Even Boris is fed up with Coleman’s troughing

As Brian Coleman prepares to face Barnet Council’s Standards Sub-Committee this morning for calling "three times a night" blogger Rog T an obsessive poisonous liar, it seems that even the Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is tiring of Coleman’s rampant snout-in-the-troughism.

Mayor Watch reports of a heated exchange at yesterday’s Question Time. Cllr Coleman had called on the Mayor to implement deep spending cuts. Boris responded by suggesting that “those calling for cuts in expenditure while in receipt of more than one GLA salary might want to think about giving up one of them”.

This was a clear reference to the £25,687 a year Coleman receives as Chairman of the London & Fire Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), in addition to his GLA allowance of £52,910.

Mr Coleman also attacked David Cameron by claiming that the Conservative Leader’s proposals to cut MPs pay and perks were “silly, trifling nonsense”.

Like the silly £5,130 Coleman receives for chairing the National Joint Council for Local Authority Fire & Rescue Services, or the trifling £10,266 for chairing the LGA Fire Service Management Committee. And all of that is before you include his allowances as a Barnet Councillor.

Brian Coleman’s position on LFEPA was the gift of Boris. As the saying goes: what Boris giveth, Boris can taketh away.

Thanks to the FBU for the use of their picture

Saturday 5 September 2009

Ratners, Unbridled Greed & Prince Charles

That Ratners Moment

Older readers will recall Gerard Ratner’s now infamous address to the Institute of Directors, which destroyed his credibility and nearly bankrupted the company which bore his name. Ratner said:
“We also do cut glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, “How can you sell this for such a low price?” I say, because it’s total crap.”
That people still talk about his speech 18 years after the event is a stark reminder of the need to choose your words carefully. The nearest political equivalent, until now, was Theresa May’s comment in 2002 that the Conservatives were the “nasty party”. Whatever her intentions, Labour and the LibDems have used that phrase time and time again in order to attack the Tories.

There is little doubt that the slogan 'easyCouncil' was coined by a smarty pants in the council’s PR department to gain national recognition for Mike Freer’s ‘Future Shape’ project and, in that respect, it has clearly succeeded. Freer’s reputation has taken quite a battering recently with the £28 million Icelandic banks scandal and the £11 million Aerodrome Road bridge overspend. With a General Election just eight months away, he needed to do something to give his fledgling campaign a boost. The question is, has it backfired?

EasyCouncil is being discussed in the mainstream media - newspapers, TV and radio - as well as across the blogosphere, but the general consensus, from the right as well as the left, is that the analogy with easyJet and Ryanair has left the council open to ridicule.

Budget airlines are hugely popular for their no frills service. And that is the problem for Barnet because, when it comes to public services, people don’t want cheap and cheerful schools, social services or road repairs. They want the very best.

The council has failed to understand the difference between driving down costs through greater efficiency and saving money by providing an inferior service. But the proof that easyCouncil is nothing more than a gimmick comes from two contrasting statements made on the same day last week. Council Leader Mike Freer said:
“We would be daft not to look at other successful business models such as Ryanair. You might not like Ryanair but you cannot deny they have shaken up the airline industry and made the costs of their products very transparent.”
Whereas his press office were saying:
“The Council is not proposing to base its future model of operation on the business model of budget airline.”
What is certain is that the opposition will use the sobriquet ‘easyCouncil’, not as a term of endearment, but as a stick to attack the Conservatives’ record on public services.

Unbridled Greed

Most politicians have come to realise that voters are sick and tired of their elected representatives sticking their snouts ever deeper into the public trough - especially in the midst of the worst recession in modern times. But Cllr Melvin Cohen seems impervious to the public criticism of his new allowance of almost £7,500 for chairing just four meetings of the Constitutional Review Committee.

Cllr Cohen told the Barnet Times that it was the Independent Review Panel which granted the allowance, not him. But it was Melvin Cohen who decided to accept it. Cllr Cohen said:
“Each committee meeting entails reading through masses of paper, double-sided and in small print. Each committee involves three or four hours of reading and preparatory work.”
Perhaps Melvin has forgotten that SRA stands for Special Responsibility Allowance, not Special Reading Allowance. All councillors are expected to read their papers as part of their normal duties. Why should the public pay councillors nearly £470 an hour just to read?

To make matters worse, in the same week that Cllr Cohen’s inflation busting rise was reported, the council also announced that it was slashing nearly £11,000 from the budget for children’s community service grants.

Dozens of voluntary and community groups will now have their budgets reduced or stopped altogether. The public does understand that in the current economic climate, money is tight and the council has to tighten its belt, but to cut these grants whilst giving Melvin Cohen an obscene pay rise is truly despicable - and mean.

It begs the question as to whether councillors have a death wish or are simply detached from reality?

Where is Prince Charles?

A row appears to be brewing between Mike Freer and Brian Coleman. Despite seizing office on a promise to end massive over development in the borough, Cllr Freer has backed plans for the regeneration of Brent Cross which includes 7,500 rabbit hutches homes in an area already highly congested, plus a waste station on the site of Bestway Cash & Carry. That Bestway don’t want to sell their land or that the proposals are bitterly opposed by Brent and Camden Councils is of no concern to Freer. He told the London Evening Standard:
“It's the best way we have for investing £4 billion in that part of the borough. It allows Brent Cross to retain its pre-eminent status as a shopping centre.”
But Brian Coleman, who in his capacity as GLA member for Barnet & Camden has frequently spoken out against monstrous carbuncles, does not agree. He told the Standard:
“I think it is appalling. Where is Prince Charles when you need him?”

The week ahead

On Thursday, the Standards Sub-Committee will be meeting to consider whether to uphold the ruling by the Independent Investigator that Brian Coleman breached the Members Code of Conduct when he sent Rog T an e-mail calling him an obsessive poisonous liar.

Coleman told the Investigator:
"My defence is not that this was a moment of anger and temper but I actually stand by and I would repeat everything I have said in the e-mail to Mr Tichborne. It was not a momentary lapse of judgement." (emphasis added)
This neatly sums up Mr Coleman’s arrogant contempt for the Members Code of Conduct. If he had said: “I was tired. It was a tough day in the office. I replied without thinking and, with hindsight, shouldn’t have responded in that way,” then arguably the case against him might have collapsed. But he is actually proud of what he said.

If you are an elected politician, you have to accept that the public will sometimes attack you, criticise you and try to make your life difficult. That is part of the job. But if you are incapable of responding in measured and courteous terms, irrespective of the provocation you feel you may have suffered, then a career in public life is clearly not for you.

In next week’s edition

Should Conservatives vote for Nigel Farage or John Bercow at the General Election?

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Not The Barnet Times Goes Weekly

For the next few months, Not The Barnet Times will be published on weekends only - unless there are any breaking stories which just can’t wait!

Don’t Call Me Dave is currently working on a book publishing project and, mad fool that he is, will shortly embark on an Open University course which requires 16 hours a week of study.

Barnet is well represented in the blogosphere with Rog T’s Barnet Eye, VickiM and Mr Toad, so residents still have plenty of choice for their news. However, as a card carrying member of the Conservative Party, Don’t Call Me Dave is saddened that there are no other active right wing blogs in Barnet apart from his. Perhaps Statler & Waldorf will now wake from their sherry induced slumber?

This weekend’s blog will discuss the ongoing easyCouncil row. Don’t Call Me Dave thinks that likening council services to easyJet and Ryanair is reminiscent of Gerard Ratner calling his jewellery “crap”.

DCMD will also discuss Melvin Cohen’s shameful attempt to justify pocketing more public money, and the slight disagreement between Brian Coleman and Mike Freer over the Brent Cross regeneration project.

In the mean time, to keep you amused, here is a clip from last week’s X Factor which, for some reason, did not make it onto the ITV1 show.