Friday 30 April 2010

Salinger demands apology from Coleman and Rams

Former council leader Brian Salinger has demanded an apology from fellow councillors Brian Coleman and Robert Rams over claims that he had been asking officers for information about councillor expenses.

In an e-mail to Conservative councillors, Mr Salinger wrote:
I now have written confirmation from senior council officers that I have not asked for any information about 2006/7 or 2007/8 expense claims and that the only information provided to me on 2008/9 was the limited information provided after Nick Musgrove circulated the list of expenses in November last year. This is exactly what I told the group.

The claims and allegations made by Cllrs Coleman and Rams are completely without substance and I look forward to receiving full apologies from them to add to the other apologies that I have collected from others leading members for false statements and errors of judgement made over the last years.
As regular readers know, Brian Coleman does not like plebs voters questioning his allowances and Conservative councillors agreed at a recent Group meeting that in future none of them would ask council officers any questions about expenses paid to them. Cllr Coleman then sent a defamatory e-mail to Tory councillors suggesting that Cllr Salinger had breached that agreement - even though an officer had written to him clearly stating that the request for information had come from a member of the public.

Many readers will be surprised that the very same Tory councillors who claim to be responsible with public finances have decided to simply close their eyes when it comes to scrutiny of their own expenses. This does not, of course, prevent the public from asking questions and Not The Barnet Times will continue to fight for full disclose of all public money paid to councillors and senior officials in accordance with Conservative Party policy.

Broken Barnet

Hat Tip to Mrs Angry for her excellent blogpost today entitled I Predict a Riot.

Police were called to Hendon Town Hall this morning to deal with an ugly mob of unruly, middle-aged trouble makers fighting amongst themselves and threatening to 'form another Tory administration'.

A spokesman said: 'In Broken Barnet we're lucky to have a very low amount of anti-social behaviour, but where this does occur, the council will work closely with the police to stamp it out. Provided it does not cost us any money, or happen during the week, or at weekends, or Bank Holidays, or where common people live who might vote Labour.'

As the troublesome yobs were led away, they defiantly chanted: 'easy, easy, easyBarnet' and vowed to return to the Town Hall on May 6th.

Local resident Mrs Angry commented: 'Lock 'em up, and throw away the key.'

Thursday 29 April 2010

Council to release expenses details tomorrow

The Council’s Deputy Chief Executive has told Not The Barnet Times that all Councillors' expenses details since 2006 will be published by 30th April 2010.

As regular readers will recall, some councillors are desperate for us not to know how our money is being spent.

What have they got to hide?

Brian Coleman - Economical with the Actualité

Barnet’s inglorious First Citizen, Brian Coleman, just can’t keep out of the news it seems. The Barnet Bugle reports that his phone call to Mrs Linda Edwards, Chief Executive of the Larches Trust, is featured in the Rotten Boroughs section of Private Eye.

Meanwhile Don’t Call Me Dave has received an e-mail from an avid reader pointing out a rather disturbing discrepancy with Coleman’s version of events. Speaking to the Barnet Times, which broke the story, Coleman denied speaking to Mrs Edwards, saying: “I do not recall a phone call”. But in an e-mail to his council colleagues, he admitted that he had indeed made the call saying: “I did point out to her that in my view certain people should stay outside Party Politics”.

This is the same Brian Coleman who, when under investigation by the Standards Committee for sending an abusive e-mail to Rog T, said: “This has absolutely nothing to do with me, nothing whatsoever, and if you say otherwise you will be hearing from my Solicitor” even though Banker of the Year Mike Freer had already confirmed to the press that Coleman was, indeed, under investigation.

DCMD is sure there is a word for someone who tells an untruth, knowing it to be untrue.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Coleman to face Standards Committee. Again!

Another Not The Barnet Times Exclusive!

Sources at the Town Hall have told Don’t Call Me Dave that Brian Coleman is to be investigated by the Council’s Standards Committee in respect of allegations that he has brought his office into disrepute and for not treating the public with respect.

The allegations are believed to be in response to a telephone call made by Cllr Coleman to Mrs Linda Edwards, an independent candidate for council. Cllr Coleman admits that he telephoned Mrs Edwards but denies any criminal wrongdoing. He claims that he merely expressed his belief that she should not be allowed to run for public office.

We understand that a further complaint is being considered in respect of a second telephone call allegedly made by Cllr Coleman to Mr Howard Lanning, Chairman of the Larches Trust - a charity which employs Linda Edwards as its Chief Executive. Mr Lanning has been unavailable for comment.

Brian Coleman became the first sitting Mayor in Barnet’s history to be convicted by the Standards Committee of breaching the Members’ Code of Conduct. To breach the code once is unfortunate. To do so twice is downright shameful.

Not The Barnet Times understands that the complaints will not be investigated until after the elections on 6th May.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

A song for Peter Mandelson

Music for the election, No 4: Wipeout by the Surfaris

Dedicated to Lord Rumba of Rio following another smug, self righteous and evasive performance from him at a press conference this morning when a journalist had the temerity to ask questions about Labour’s spending cuts.

Don’t Call Me Dave hopes that the electorate will tell Mandleson in no uncertain terms precisely how they feel about his patronising and condescending ways, and wipe Labour of the face of the political map.

Monday 26 April 2010

Incompetent and Dishonest

Don’t Call Me Dave was somewhat surprised to receive an In Touch leaflet today promoting the Coppetts Ward Conservatives because he lives in Underhill Ward - nowhere near Coppetts! Perhaps if Cllr Lynne Hillan hadn’t been so quick to sack the previous Conservative agent - who had an unrivalled record for winning elections - this elementary cock-up could have been avoided.

But far worse than this incompetence, was the disingenuous and downright dishonest contents of the leaflet itself. The headline story - which features in every edition of In Touch for every ward - was the boast that the Conservatives have frozen council tax for the first time in the Borough’s 45 year history. There was no mention that the Conservatives have been in control for all but 8 of those 45 years. Why has it taken so long to deliver a tax freeze - especially when proper Conservative councils across the country have been delivering real tax cuts year on year for the last 4 years?

Hillan’s Conservatives pledge to freeze council tax for a further two years. But here’s the catch. They say “The freeze will be delivered by a Conservative Council and Government working together.” In other words, if the Conservatives do not win the General Election, a Conservative council will not honour that pledge. The public are sick and tired of politicians who use a clever form of words to make promises which do not have to be kept.

Where in this leaflet is any mention that the tax freeze has only been achieved by plundering the reserves - something which the Tories attacked the last Labour/LibDem Administration for doing in 2002, when they were also trying to bribe us with our own money?

Where is the mention that councillors cost taxpayers more than £1.2 million a year and that last year the Tories voted themselves increases of up to 50% for some of the special responsibility allowances?

Where is the mention that since the Conservatives took control 8 years ago, they have increased the Chief Executive’s salary from £113,000 to £200,000 a year - a stonking 77% rise? Has your salary or pension increased by that much? Ask residents living in sheltered accommodation whether the warden service will be 77% better under the Conservatives?

Leader Lynne Hillan writes about low council tax, but the public are not so readily fooled. We only need to check our bank statements to see how much our taxes have gone up since 2002.

DCMD stated previously that it was not his job to tell people how to vote. Notwithstanding this, he is happy to declare that he will be voting for Theresa Villiers as the Conservative candidate at the General Election. But he simply cannot bring himself to vote Conservative at the council elections because the candidates are, with one or two exceptions, entirely unrepresentative of real Conservative ideology.

The thought of another Lib/Lab pact in Barnet is not especially appealing to DCMD, but it cannot be any worse than the Administration we have now. A short period of opposition for the Hillans and Colemans of this world would certainly go some way to help the local party rid itself of the hubristic troughers who care nothing for democracy or the community, who crave power for its own end, and just see taxpayers as an easy meal ticket.

Sunday 25 April 2010

A Statement from Brian Coleman

“Colleagues who have seen the front page of the Hendon Times may well be concerned for my welfare.

Contrary to what the newspaper says I am not being investigated by the Police who having received a complaint from Mrs Linda Edwards ( a candidate for the Resident Association in Edgware Ward) decided that even if her allegations are true (which they are not) there was no criminal activity .

Needless to say the Hendon Times failed as usual to check their facts

Linda Edwards is Chief Executive of the Larches Trust one of my Mayoral Charities for which I and colleagues have been working flat out to raise money for during my Mayoral year and I did point out to her that in my view certain people should stay outside Party Politics, Civil Servants, Local Government Officers and Chief Executives of Voluntary organisations . I also pointed out to her that she had been nominated by a convicted fraudster , disqualified former Councillor Alan Sloam and that as a courtesy to me and the work I have been doing for the Larches Trust ( of which I am a Patron) she might have mentioned her intention to stand for election to the Council.

Mrs Edwards saw fit to brief journalists at the same time as she made her complaint and indeed I only learnt of the matter from a journalist

I am grateful as ever for colleagues support although I fully accept that the usual leakers will ensure this appears on the blogs quite rapidly”

Friday 23 April 2010

Vote Purple!

Music for the election, No 3: Start Wearing Purple by Gogol Bordello

With the media predicting a hung Parliament, Don’t Call Me Dave is reminded of the 2006 political drama, The Amazing Mrs Pritchard and her Purple Alliance party which swept to power.

Well, any excuse to play a great song!

Coleman, The Musical

Music for the election, No 2: Brian Coleman, The Musical.

A classic tale worth repeating.

Where is Gordon?

Don’t Call Me Dave received a Labour leaflet today delivered by the postman. All the candidates in the General Election are entitled to have one leaflet delivered at public expense. DCMD is not convinced that hard pressed taxpayers should have to pay to receive political propaganda.

But what was most striking about the Labour leaflet was that it contained no mention whatsoever of Gordon Brown. Has there ever been an election in modern history where the party leader does not even get a mention in the leaflet, let alone the usual obligatory mug shot with the candidate?

It is perhaps not surprising that Labour do not want to mention Gordon Brown. After all, this is the man who, single handedly, has almost bankrupted our once great nation. This is the man who cost the nation £6 billion by selling off our gold at rock bottom prices and who has raided pension funds to the tune of £5 billion a year - every year! The same man who sent our troops into battle in Iraq and Afghanistan without the necessary life saving equipment.

Curiously, the Labour leaflet fails to mention their plans to introduce ID cards, 90 days detention without trial and a scheme to monitor every email and phone call in the UK. No mention either of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) which allows unelected and unaccountable council officers to conduct covert surveillance on residents who have committed no crime Under Labour, we have sleepwalked into a totalitarian state. We live in a surveillance society with cameras on every corner monitoring our lawful activities and where public officials can now enter our homes without a magistrate’s warrant.

But if one aspect of this leaflet sums up 13 years of Labour’s mismanagement of our economy better than anything else, it is the surname of their candidate - Welfare. Gordon Brown is responsible for the massive expansion of a dependent client state by creating hundreds of thousands of socially useless and unproductive public sector non-jobs - paid for by ordinary middle class workers - for no other purpose than to keep his party in power.

We cannot afford five more minutes of Gordon Brown, let alone five years.

Ban The Bercow!

H/T to Guido

Thursday 22 April 2010

A Tory is Born!

Don’t Call Me Dave congratulates former Barnet Conservative councillor Caroline Margo (now Clapper) who gave birth at 9am this morning to a 7lb 3oz baby girl, Roxanne Rose.

The unbiased mother describes her new daughter as “just gorgeous!”

Brian Coleman assisting the Police with their inquiries

The Barnet Times reports that Mayor of Barnet and all round embarrassment to the Conservative Party, Brian Coleman, is assisting the police with their inquiries.

It is alleged that he made an intimidating phone call to independent candidate Linda Edwards in contravention of election law.

If convicted, Coleman faces suspension from office and almost certain expulsion from the Conservative Party, which would put paid to his as yet undeclared candidature for leadership of the council.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Council to sack Rabbi who convicted Coleman in standards investigation

Barnet Council’s Head of Corporate Governance, Jeff Lustig, has prepared a report recommending that Rabbi Jeremy Collick (pictured right) be dismissed as a member of the independent Standards Committee.

Rabbi Collick sat on the panel which found Brian Coleman guilty of breaching the Members Code of Conduct when he launched a vitriolic tirade against Barnet Blogger, Rog T.

The reason Rabbi Collick is to be sacked is because of his recent attendance record - he has only attended two of eight scheduled meetings. Clearly this is not a good record but it should be noted that Rabbi Collick’s absence was not because he was flying business class to America on a junket, like Frequent Flyer Freer, but because of his pastoral commitments.

Don’t Call Me Dave thought that Barnet believed in putting the community first? In any case, the report completely fails to take into account the many hours Rabbi Collick spent in preparatory meetings for the Coleman hearing and he is, if fact, one of the hardest working members of the committee.

Members of the Standards Committee receive an allowance of just £269 a year, so it is not as if he was doing this for the money!

But even if the council wanted to replace him, given that he is a Rabbi, shouldn't they have just had a quiet word and suggested that he resigned? That would have allowed him an honourable exit. To publicly sack him in this manner is a humiliating thing to do to a respected member of the community.

Interestingly, when the report came before the council yesterday, it was deferred until after the elections. The reason given was to allow councillors more time to consider Rabbi Collick’s proposed replacement. DCMD is sure that this unprecedented deferment has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Mike Freer requires the support of the Jewish vote if he is to win Finchley & Golders Green at the General Election.

Saturday 17 April 2010

Freer’s insane housing policies to be outlawed

One of former council leader and wannabe MP Mike Freer’s final gifts to Barnet was to push through the massive redevelopment scheme at Brent Cross, despite some of the fiercest opposition ever witnessed in local government planning history.

The Conservative Party states in its manifesto:
“A Conservative government will introduce a new “open source” planning system. This will mean that people in each neighbourhood will be able to specify what kind of development they wish to see in their area. These neighbourhood plans will be consolidated into a local plan. We will abolish the entire bureaucratic and undemocratic tier of regional planning, including the Regional Spatial Strategies and building targets.”
The irony will not be lost on Barnet residents if Mike Freer is ordered by party whips to vote for legislation which would prevent other council leaders from acting in the same arrogant and cavalier manner as he did. Assuming that he is elected to Parliament, of course.

Friday 16 April 2010

The Shortest Straw

Music for the Election, No 1: The Shortest Straw (Nitten) by Thomas Holm

Danish with English sub-titles

Thursday 15 April 2010

Coleman tries to keep his expenses secret!

Following the MPs expenses scandal, all politicians now accept the need for greater transparency of their allowances. All except Barnet’s favourite Luddite, Brian Coleman.

In an astonishing e-mail sent to his council colleagues, Coleman challenges members of the public who dare to exercise their legal right to information, and he has the temerity to blame Cllr Brian Salinger for “making trouble”!

Is this the same Brian Coleman who regularly undermined former leader Victor Lyon by leaking anything and everything to the press when it suited his needs?

The correspondence below (click to enlarge) shows that Coleman received an e-mail from a council officer expressly stating that the request for information came from a member of the public. Don't Call Me Dave believes that Brian Coleman has deliberately defamed Cllr Salinger, as part of an ongoing vendetta, by his demonstrably untrue accusation.

Councillor Coleman is seemingly unaware that the Information Commissioner’s model guidelines, which came into force in January 2009, state that this type of information should be published by councils automatically, thereby saving time in processing Freedom of Information requests.

Clearly Coleman has failed to read his own Party's election manifesto which offers a promise (page 3) to:
Ensure greater financial transparency by publishing spending on-line
Much as he likes to throw his ample weight around, Brian Coleman should reflect on the words of the council officer: “The information set out in Spreadsheet 2 is that which we are obliged to disclose as a statutory obligation under the Freedom of Information Act 2000” (emphasis added).

The law is the law Cllr Coleman. If you don’t want the public knowing how much you cost us through our hard earned taxes, go and find yourself a job in the private sector. If anyone will have you.

For residents who would like to know what Cllr Coleman is trying to hide, click here. As a responsible blogger, DCMD has redacted Cllr Coleman’s telephone account details which he foolishly passed on to the whole world when he sent his ill conceived e-mail. When the Standards Committee found Cllr Coleman guilty of a breach of the Members Code of Conduct, didn’t they instruct him to undergo training in the use of the council’s e-mail system?

Monday 12 April 2010

Barnet Tory calls for directly elected Mayor

Don’t Call Me Dave is acutely aware that his attempt to restrain from blogging is not going very well this month! But an interesting debate is taking place in the message thread of a previous blogpost which is worthy of wider debate.

Jonny on the Web is promoting the Residents Association of Barnet (RAB) who are fielding 15 candidates in the forthcoming local election.

In response to a comment by former Councillor Daniel Hope, who accused RAB of being "an incoherent group without a plan of action", Jonny wrote:
“I think you are underestimating them and what they stand for. It is not about having a leader; that is old fashioned, big party thinking. RAB is an umbrella group of like minded independents who believe that the council can and should be run more effectively for the interests of the residents of Barnet not political dogma. Don't look at the structure, look at the individuals. We need to return to a time when councillors represented the community they live in, not what central office tells them.”
Daniel Hope, who is now proprietor of the Barnet Bugle, replied:
“I think they have made an error in presenting themselves as a 'Party'. People have an understanding as to what that it. I actually think they are going about it completely the wrong way. To get what they want I think the ONLY way is to campaign for a directly elected Mayor in Barnet (through a referendum) and then seek to get their choice of Mayor elected.”
Mr Hope is a well known advocate of directly elected Mayors and, whilst it is certainly true that we do not need yet another layer of government in this country, a directly elected Mayor would certainly minimise the abuse of the electoral process which allows political parties to ignore the result of the ballot box to suit their own ends. The public voted for Blair and got Brown. In Barnet, voters elected Salinger but were saddled with Freer.

The Conservative Party has proposed giving voters the power of recall which will go some way to holding MPs accountable between elections. There is an arguable case that directly elected Mayors would have a similar effect on the running of Town Halls.

Gordon Brown praises Barnet’s Socialist housing policy

Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a surprise visit to Edgware yesterday to inspect The Edge housing development built on the site of the former Edgware General Hospital, which older readers will recall Labour had promised to keep open in 1997. The first of so many lies.

Speaking exclusively to Not The Barnet Times, the Prime Minister said: “There’s actually no need to vote Labour here. Barnet is my favourite Council, I wish some Labour Councils would do my bidding so completely.”

Sunday 11 April 2010

Lynne Hillan Paxmanned!

From the Barnet Bugle

Lynne Hillan, Leader of Barnet Council, refuses to answer a question about Future Shape put to her three times on BBC’s Politics Show.

It is an excruciatingly embarrassing performance.

Saturday 10 April 2010

BNP to stand in East Barnet

Last week, fellow blogger Vickim57 wrote an interesting piece about the importance of local newspapers for democracy. Don’t Call Me Dave agrees with that sentiment entirely. He was therefore delighted to note the arrival of a new publication on our doorsteps - The Barnet Bugle.

In an exclusive article, The Bugle has discovered that the BNP are fielding a candidate in East Barnet ward. Three independent candidates are also standing for election. It will make for a very interesting contest and the Conservatives will be forced to divert massive resources to this area if they wish to hold on to their seats.

The Bugle claims as its mission statement that it will bring rigour to Barnet politics. In the interest of proper democratic accountability and scrutiny, let us hope that it succeeds.

Thursday 8 April 2010

Barnet Election Special

Don’t Call Me Dave has been asked whether he will abandon his self imposed moratorium on blogging during the election campaign. Tempting as it is to return to the fray full time, he will continue to write only occasionally because regular readers are already aware of the key issues facing voters at both the Council and General elections.

DCMD does not consider it his job to tell the public how to vote and if the good people of Finchley & Golders Green wish to elect as their MP someone who lied about his educational qualifications, spent £5,000 of our money flying business class to a junket in America, allowed chief officers to buy themselves £5,000 plasma TVs and was in charge of finances when £27 million of taxpayers’ money was deposited in Iceland, then we must respect their wishes and they, in turn, must accept the consequences.

Similarly, if the residents of Barnet vote to allow failed business woman Lynne Hillan and her cronies to continue running the council, they must accept that the sheltered housing warden service will be scrapped, putting the lives of the elderly at risk. Not one Conservative councillor or candidate has spoken out publicly against this insane policy.

DCMD has written at length about the warped sense of entitlement of councillors Brian Coleman and Andreas Tambourides who view the Town Hall as their personal cash machine, funded by the taxpayer. But they are not alone with their snouts in the trough and the reality is that even if voters give them the deserved order of the boot, they will only be replaced by others with a similar penchant for claiming multiple allowances.

Whilst Gordon Brown and David Cameron talk about the need for reform of the political system to restore public confidence, they ignore the reality that it is not the system which is at fault but rather the calibre of people in it.

We need a new generation of politicians to come forward, untainted by the past. We need representatives who understand the sadly antiquated concept of public service; people who enter politics for what they can offer their communities rather than for what they can get out of it.

We don’t need an election. We need a revolution.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Edukashon, Edukashon, Edukashon

Don’t Call Me Dave has just returned from a few days at the sea-side. He took this picture on his steam powered Instamatic in the Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) clothes shop in Broadstairs, Kent.

The dim-witted shop assistant didn't seem to understand the problem, which could have readily been avoided with a little more thought and better punctuation!

It sums up 13 years of Labour's failed education policies. It is also an unintentional reminder of Labour’s woeful failure to tackle the teenage pregnancy problem in this country.

Still, with a bit of luck we won’t have to put up with Gordon Brown and his sleaze ridden cronies for much longer.

Thursday 1 April 2010

Coleman Defects to Labour!

With just five weeks until the council elections, controversial Tory councillor Brian Coleman has stunned colleagues by announcing that he is quitting the Conservatives and joining the Labour Party.

Speaking to reporters, Coleman claimed that it was the recent Channel 4 programme Dispatches which was the catalyst for his unexpected change. Explaining his decision, he said: “Last year, I was paid allowances of just £2,500 a week, but after watching Dispatches I realised that if a pathological liar like Stephen Byers can get paid twice that amount for just a day’s work, then I was batting for the wrong team. Byers said that he was a cab for hire and clearly that was an irresistible proposition for me.”

It has been an open secret that Coleman fell out of favour with former council leader Mike Freer over the proposed Brent Cross redevelopment plans, and the election of Lynne Hillan as Freer’s successor over Coleman’s protégé Fiona Bulmer, only ostracised him further from the heart of the decision making clique. However, Coleman denied that this was the cause of his defection. “This has absolutely nothing to do with political principles,” he told the shocked media pack. “This is all about money. When it comes to sticking one’s snout in the trough, the Conservatives are frankly rank amateurs when compared to my new Labour friends.”

Coleman, who currently represents the ultra safe Conservative ward of Totteridge, is expected to announce later today that he will contest the equally safe Labour seat of Burnt Oak at the forthcoming elections on 6th May.