Monday 4 April 2011

This time is for real

Don’t Call Me Dave has lost count of the number of times he has tried to retire from writing this blog. At least three. Perhaps more.

However, for personal reasons, this time it really is the last post for Not The Barnet Times.

Just out of curiosity, DCMD looked at the stat counter this evening - over 120,000 hits in the last two years. Thank you all very much for your support.

Call for a public inquiry into the relationship between MetPro and Barnet Council

The following press release has been issued today by a number of Barnet’s prominent bloggers. Not The Barnet Times supports the demands for a full public enquiry into the council’s relationship with MetPro Rapid Response / MetPro Emergency Response.

Press release — 4 April 2011

Call for a public inquiry into the relationship between MetPro Rapid Response/MetPro Emergency Response and Barnet Council

Barnet Council has been engaging private security firms MetPro Rapid Response/MetPro Emergency Response to control residents’ access to council meetings, in particular the council meeting on 1 March 2011. One of the company directors claims the company has also monitored blogs by Barnet residents, and filmed Barnet residents at Council meetings.

Despite holding contracts worth several hundred thousand pounds with Barnet Council, MetPro Rapid Response collapsed recently owing around £400,000, including £245,000 to HM Revenue & Customs. The firm is now in the hands of liquidators; however, MetPro Emergency Response, a company recently set up by the same company directors associated with MetPro Rapid Response, continued for a while to be employed by Barnet after the collapse of MetPro Rapid Response.

As well as providing security for Council meetings, these firms provided security at several council locations, including some housing vulnerable people.

At the meeting on 1 March, it appears that MetPro security staff did not wear visible identification, breaching Security Industry Authority (SIA) regulations, whilst working for Barnet.

Statements made by directors of the company regarding the scope of their work for Barnet have been contradicted by executive officers of Barnet Council.

The full facts regarding Barnet Council’s contract/s with MetPro Rapid Response/MetPro Emergency Response must be revealed to the public. We need to know about the use of data collected by the company (with full consideration for data protection and human rights implications). We need Barnet Council to reveal the extent of the MetPro companies’ activities on behalf of the Council. Residents and Council staff have a right to know what activities their Council undertake. They have a right to expect the Council only to engage firms with a proven track record for such activities and to monitor such, ensuring, for example, that they comply with legislation, eg, SIA regulations.

The only way that trust can be restored in Barnet Council, following the MetPro debacle, is to hold a full public inquiry. We the undersigned call on Nick Walkley, CEO of Barnet Council, and Lynne Hillan, Council Leader, to immediately engage an independent investigator, enjoying the confidence of Barnet residents, to look into the relationship between MetPro Rapid Response/MetPro Emergency Response and Barnet Council. We demand to know what Barnet Council asked MetPro Rapid Response/MetPro Emergency Response to do and what Barnet Council has done with any information about residents it has had access to as a result of MetPro’s work.

Alexander Clayman (N12)
Derek Dishman (EN5)
Adam Langleben (HA8)
Vicki Morris (NW9)
Theresa Musgrove (N3)
Maria Nash (EN4)
Julian Silverman (N12)
Roger Tichborne (NW7)
Adele Winston (EN5)

Sunday 3 April 2011

Coleman & Crow: Birds of a Feather

Last year, on 1st April, Don’t Call Me Dave posted a spoof picture of Tory Councillor Brian Coleman’s head superimposed onto RMT Union Boss Bob Crow’s body.

The two men might be poles apart politically, but they do seem to have a lot in common. They are both political bullies who antagonise their own natural supporters as well as opponents.

They both earn obscene amounts of money at the expense of ordinary hard working people. Coleman earns in the region of £114,000 a year and Crow around £133,000. Both men additionally claim huge amounts in expenses.

Now it seems there is something else they have in common. Brian Coleman lives in a flat owned by the Finchley Methodist Church, where the rent is set by the rent officer. It has three rooms, kitchen and bathroom/wc and costs Cllr Coleman £546 per month. Bob Crow lives in a housing association property - a three bedroom end of terrace house in Woodford Green at a rent reported to be just £150 per week. Both properties were intended for people on low incomes.

Of course, neither Coleman or Crow have done anything illegal. They are within their rights to take advantage of a stupid system that allows people to remain in subsidised housing, even when their circumstances have changed. The government is now looking to close the loophole and remove this anomoly, so that cheap housing can be provided for those in genuine need.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps told the Daily Mail: “With nearly 5 million vulnerable people languishing on housing waiting lists, I would have thought a highly paid union baron would feel somewhat awkward taking advantage of publicly subsidised housing.” Someone should tell Mr Shapps about our Brian.

Friday 1 April 2011

A statement from Nick Walkley

Solicitors acting for Barnet Chief Executive Nick Walkley have asked us to broadcast the following statement from their client.

Nick Walkley Resigns

Nick Walkley, Chief Executive of Barnet Council, has sensationally resigned following the debacle over the use of Metpro Rapid Response at the recent meeting of the council. Not The Barnet Times understands that Mr Walkley had tried to ride out the storm of protest, but the latest revelation that innocent and law abiding residents were secretly filmed by Metpro’s henchmen made his position untenable.

A spokesman for the council said: “In any organisation, the person at the top must accept ultimate responsibility, not only for the decisions which are taken by that organisation, but also for the people who carry out those decisions.”

It was recently disclosed that Mr Walkley received a remuneration package worth £250,000 last year, but he has agreed to waive his right to compensation for loss of office. The spokesman continued: “There can be no reward for failure. At a time when loyal and hard working staff are being laid off, it would be entirely inappropriate for a Chief Executive who has presided over such an ignominious act to receive any further payment from the public purse.”

It is understood that the Council will now advertise for a successor, to be paid a salary below that of the Prime Minister, in accordance with the guidelines set out by the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles.