Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Boris visits the Boris Valley Green Walk - and uh oh - it all goes horribly wrong

Boris meets Dennis Pepper - pic courtesy Hendon Times. Cllr John Thomas behind, not happy.

Oh dear me. If you recall, last week Mrs Angry went for a lovely walk along part of the Dollis Valley Green Walk with the equally lovely Dennis Pepper, Chair of the Friends of Windsor Open Space, who is less than impressed with the way in which Brian Coleman has spent the grant given by Mayor Boris Johnson for the improvement of the walk.

Take a look at the local Times group website ...


Dennis was taking a reporter from the Times along the same route, and pointing out the terrible state of the footpath, and the way in which the grant has been mispent when who should he come across, in the most surreal fashion, but Boris himself, out for an electioneering photo opportunity, to make the most capital possible from the grant, in the run up to May's elections.

Ah: except that in Broken Barnet, Boris, the rules of engagement do not always run to plan, as you discovered, when you bumped into Mr Pepper, who 'hijacked' the visit and took the opportunity to show you the real cock up that Brian Coleman has managed to make of the funding provided. Mrs Angry imagines that you were shown the footpath that was needlessly resurfaced, while the really dangerous section was left in such a disgraceful state, for example.

Not that you would realise exactly the extent of the cock up, had you been one of the few privileged residents invited to the rather low key official opening held last week, attended by the Mayor, Councillor Lisa Rutter, and Brian, of course, and a selection of bussed in primary school children.

The happy couple then left for a honeymoon at the Sandbanks Hotel, Poole.

Mrs Angry has eyes and ears everywhere, and one of her spies has sent this delightful photograph from the opening of the Dollis Valley Green Walk 'improvement' scheme, which was meant to be a good news story for poor Brian Coleman, who is, sadly, short of good news stories in the run up to the London Assembly elections on May 3rd, and has been canvassing only the refined environs of Belsize Park and Hampstead. Brian is apparently reluctant to take part in any hustings events with Labour rival Andrew Dismore. Mrs Angry cannot imagine why that might be the case.

Behind them, you can see Brian's little helper, Ms Pam Wharfe, who once showed such a detailed interest in Mrs Angry's living room window, and who is awfully fond of that green jacket.

If you think Mrs Angry is being mean, please be referred to the early days of this blog, and you may understand why.

There is a rather pleasing description in the Times report of the reaction of the Barnet Tory councillors who had accompanied Boris in his brookside stroll today:

"An entourage that included Finchley Church End councillors Daniel Thomas and Eva Greenspan and Barnet Council leader Richard Cornelius were left “looking uncomfortable” as Mr Pepper listed the project’s faults in front of the visiting mayor."

But oh dear. Mrs Angry imagines that our councillors were dreadfully embarrassed, and undoubtedly furious that yet again the lunatic Tory fringe here in Barnet was exposed in all its finest idiocy and incompetence to the Mayor and senior leadership of the party. But of course there is something very odd about this incident.

Where was Brian?

Why would the local Assembly member not be here to accompany Boris on his visit, when Brian was so involved in the organisation of the £400,000 hand out which has been thrown at the so called improvement? Why no photo opportunity of the two, arm in arm, exchanging light hearted banter, by one of the kissing gates? How very strange. Surely he could not have been told to stay away?

Or did they not tell him?

Alternatively, of course, it might just have been that he is incapable of walking that far. He has very small feet, and a delicate constitution.

Well done, Mr Pepper, anyway: Broken Barnet bites back, yet again.


Crybaby Councillor John Thomas is now whinging that the Times' story is 'misleading'. Mrs Angry has no sympathy whatsoever - the failures in the organisation and delivery of the Green Walk are quite apparent, and have been reported extensively in this blog. The Tory councillors were seeking to take the credit for a good news story which is itself completely misleading. Mr Pepper was quite right to show him the reality of what has been done with the grant.

On twitter this morning Tim Jones, the assistant group editor of the Times Newsquest group papers made the following comments:

"I think it is worth pointing out what goes on behind the scenes as politicians and press offices try to manipulate reporting"

"Some of these councillors need to start taking things on the chin a bit more and start listening to the genuine concerns of local residents"

"Every time someone criticises the council, a smokescreen is put up which then attempts to detract from the original issue"

This is how things are, in our borough. This is Broken Barnet, where the Tory administration has forgotten that it is accountable to their voters, and tries with increasingly desperate and ill judged measures to control the use of information and the freedom of expression. In a few weeks time, of course, voters can demonstrate to their elected representatives exactly what they think of that attitude.

oh, and while we are on that subject ...


Mr Mustard said...

Mr Pepper - he ought to start a blog with a name like that.

Yes, well done Dennis and I am sure that Boris will actually have listened to you because he has a habit of doing that unlike the underlings who represent him in Barnet.

Mrs Angry said...

hmm, if you two got together, you could make Welsh Rarebit, maybe?

Mr Mustard said...

Surely it would have been polite of the council (yes I see the flaw in my asrgument - the word "polite") to have invited the Chaiman of the Friends of Windsor Open Space along when Boris was coming? rather than trying to sneak in on the quiet. It seems that Dennis loves his open space so much that he is out there all of the time.

Mrs Angry said...

Mr Mustard, you are too naive for your own good. Why on earth would any of our Tory councillors involve themselves with a notorious troublemaker like Mr Pepper? (Yes,yes: this a joke).

Dennis is in fact one of those admirable members of the community who dedicate themselves to trying to make it a better place to live, and clearly this is a concept which baffles our self serving Tory councillors.

Ahem. Mrs Angry has asked Mr Pepper which companion he would rather take for a walk along the brook. Sorry, Boris - the other candidate was more popular. This time, anyway.