Monday 28 December 2009

Hillan says Freer was a control freak

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 Mike Freer Barnet Council.

Sunday 27 December 2009

Spot The Difference

When Mike Freer was instructed by David Cameron voluntarily resigned as leader of the council, he stated that he did so in order to concentrate on his bid to win Finchley and Golders Green at the next General Election.

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

Not for onward transmission

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

Hillan's Got Talent!

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.

Compliments Of The Season

Not The Barnet Times extends the compliments of the season to all of its readers.

Don’t Call Me Dave is now taking a well-earned break from blogging and will return in the New Year.

Friday 18 December 2009

The real cost of wardens - less than one penny a day!

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

Barnet Council’s Christmas Party

Another Not The Barnet Times Exclusive!

Don’t Call Me Dave has received a secret video recording of the council’s Christmas Party.

Who says that the political classes don’t know how to enjoy themselves?

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

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

Hillan Must Go!

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.

Farewell to Freer

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

Poacher turned gamekeeper?

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

Nick Walkley on Lynne Hillan's victory

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.

This little piggy came to Barnet

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

Council’s Auditors Slam Freer’s Administration

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
Click the image below to enlarge or here to download the full report.

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:-
All of which is before you add on the estimated £500,000 overspend on the Town Hall refurbishment project, and £112,000 spent on a microphone system that doesn’t actually work.

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.

One law for Cllr Tambourides, one law for the rest of us

Thursday 3 December 2009

Save Our Wardens (The Musical)

Dedicated to David Young and Yvonne Hossack who are fighting to save the warden service for Barnet residents.

With thanks to VickiM and the Barnet Community Campaign for the use of their photographs.