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.

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