Monday 23 November 2009

“Dishonest and incompetent”

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, Dame Dr Vanessa Gearson (pictured right), who had the article pulled and the journalist despatched to the Gulag Archipelago. Well maybe not the last part.

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.


Dark Lochnagar said...

Fred, there seems to be some shenanigans going on in Barnet. Perhaps I better take a keener interest in the working of the cvouncil and your ravishing spin doctor. I like a woman who can talk dirty in Spanish, as I speak un poco myself and it reminds me of a few pleasurable nights spent in Madrid on business.

Don't Call Me Dave said...


Welcome to the deep south! You will find that Barnet is a trend setting council, with its unelected leader spending millions of Pounds on consultants for a crackpot outsourcing scheme which is unproven and has no democratic legitimacy. We spend £1.5 million on near obsolete computers which then get put into storage until they are antiques. We spend £14,000 buying just 5 flats screen televisions for chief officers and then we go and invest £28 million in Icelandic banks, just as all the smart councils are getting their money out.

Not forgetting, of course, that councillors increased their special responsibility allowances by up to 50% this year whilst simultaneously increasing burial charges for infants by 7% and slashing the warden service for the vulnerable living in sheltered accommodation.