Thursday, 13 October 2011

Brian, Brian, and Matthew: and no Sex on the Beach, please, we're from Broken Barnet

Not Mrs Angry or Councillor Brian Gordon

Not Matthew Offord and Mrs Angry thinking fondly of that hotel balcony in Belize

Walter Mitty

Whenever Mrs Angry feels she has had enough of blogging, and life in general, and fantasises about going to bed, sticking her head under a pillow and never coming out ever again, there are two things that stop her:

1. the thought that this would bring a cheerful smile to the faces of Tory councillors and senior officers of Broken Barnet and:

2. she just cannot stop being interested in things she should probably just ignore.

There are just too many infuriating, provoking and amusing things to write about, here in Broken Barnet, and Mrs Angry cannot help herself. So the pillow is on the floor, and here are some updated stories for your entertainment: you decide if they are infuriating, provoking, amusing, or just tedious.

Here is a letter sent to the local press by Andrew Dismore, Brian Coleman's rival in the much anticipated GLA elections next May, in regard to the idiotic remarks about the new residents forums made last week by Nelson Mandela tribute act and Tory Councillor Brian Gordon. Mr Dismore, who made the effort to attend the Alternative Forum, had some interesting points to make about the absurd, Kafkaesque regulations which are now used with such finesse in order to gag the freedom of speech of Barnet's residents and tax payers.

Dear Editor,

Cllr Gordon ( Times 6/10/11) must either be Walter Mitty or have been at a different Hendon Area Forum to me and the other people who attended.

He started by saying that he wanted to let people have their say, but he continually interrupted from the chair throughout the meeting from the very first minute: the business would have progressed much quicker, easier and less confrontationally if he had let people have their say, as happened at the BAPS meeting.

The agenda was ludicrous. On 10th July, 2 months ahead, I submitted a short list of items , asking if it could be confirmed if they were in order. Reply came there not, despite several reminders, until the start of the meeting. Item 1 on my list was disallowed: how the new standing orders were to be interpreted. It would have been helpful to have this sorted from the beginning.

Yes, we discussed the Edgware War Memorial: but we will not be able to follow up the promises made at the next meeting, if they are not honoured! Yes, the Hendon Park cafe owner was able to raise the duplicity of the Council in its dealings with him.

However, other items of importance to local people could only be raised in a tangental fashion, by putting the English language through Olympic standard gymnastic contortions to bring the subjects within the new rules. We could not discuss the closure of Church Farm Museum, or the future of the Watling Boys Club building or the former Child Guidance Building on North Road estate, but we were allowed to discuss “the implications for local security of the buildings being kept empty”. We were not allowed to discuss the closure of the ticket office at Hendon Thameslink, but we could discuss “the traffic and parking implications” of its removal. We were not allowed to discuss the proposed move of Saracens to Copthall, or the increase in parking charges at all.

It is clear that Barnet Council and Cllr Gordon only believe in democracy if it is them doing the “democing”. They wish to kill off the forums which inconveniently used to raise matters or decisions they were uncomfortable in attempting to explain or defend, by making the forums irrelevant to those who wish to have their say about their local communities.

Andrew Dismore

Labour London Assembly candidate for Barnet and Camden

And then we have this press release today, reminding us of that trip which Hendon MP Matthew Offord made to Belize in the summer, during the riots, and from which he decided not to return to be with constituents. If you recall, Mr Offord, when tracked down by the local Times, informed their reporter:

“I certainly have not just gone off on holiday. I’m engaging in Parliamentary work in a third world country.

“It’s not the cocktails on the beach that some people like to think it is.”

It later emerged, as we explained in earlier posts such as Action Man Returns that Mr Offord is a member of the AFPS: the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme - a venture which allows MPs to dress up in uniform and prance about on trips to foreign parts, pretending to be really hard, and awarding themselves honorary ranks and even medals, much to the disapproval of serving members of the real armed forces.

As a part of this scheme, Matthew went on some adventure out at sea in a boat, where he had his photo taken, and saw some smugglers dump some alleged cocaine out at sea. It was very exciting, and I think he got a bit wet. Or was that on the hotel balcony? Ah: just checking my notes ... he took part in an exercise to fight narco-terrorism, and apparently that particular load of charlie was definitely on its way to Hendon, so everyone should be very grateful. Not sure how they knew this, but still, we are, aren't we?

Here is the press release from Andrew Dismore:

MP’s Belize trip: no follow up after all!

In attempting to justify his failure to return from his trip to Belize for the recall of Parliament during the Summer’s riots, Hendon Conservative MP Matthew Offord made much of the purpose of the trip, in particular to learn about the drugs trade which he was going to raise with the police here.

In fact, the response to a freedom of information request to the police by Andrew Dismore, Labour’s London Assembly candidate for Barnet and Camden reveals that the MP has had no obvious contact with the police on the issue in the two months since, nor did he seek a briefing before he went. (Freedom of Information response attached).

Mr Dismore said:

“Yet again the Conservative MP has let down Hendon’s constituents. Having failed to return for the recall of Parliament, he has since not honoured the pledge he made on his return to brief the police on what he found out about the drugs trade and how it affected Hendon. This clearly casts doubt as to the sincerity of his excuses and as to whether he gained any knowledge whatsoever of use to the police or his constituents, while enjoying himself in the Caribbean while London burned.”

For further details call Andrew Dismore 07957 625 813

Response to freedom of information request:

Dear Mr Dismore

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2011090001739

I write in connection with your request for information which was received by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 12/09/2011. I note you seek access to the following information:

  • Please disclose all correspondence between the Metropolitan police and Matthew Offord MP concerning drugs policy and enforcement recorded on the MetRIC System (the MPS system for logging and managing correspondence) from May 2011 to date.

  • Please disclose all notes or other records of meetings between Barnet CID, Barnet Senior Management Team or the MPS Drugs Directorate Senior Management Team and Matthew Offord MP concerning drugs policy and enforcement between May 2011 to date.

Following receipt of your request searches were conducted within the MPS to locate information relevant to your request.


To locate the information relevant to your request searches were conducted with Barnet Borough Operational Policing, the MPS Drugs Directorate and on the MetRIC system.


The searches failed to locate any information relevant to your request, therefore, the information you have requested is not held by the MPS.

Mrs Angry submitted an FOI to Parliament about this trip, to find out who paid for Mr Offord's expenses.

I would like to make the following request under the Freedom of Information Act:

Hendon MP Matthew Offord is in Belize, Central America, engaged in parliamentary business.

Please give full details of the nature of this parliamentary business, including the following:

  • who organised the trip?
  • what was the nature of the parliamentary business Mr Offord undertook?
  • who paid for the trip: flights, accommodation and any other costs?
  • please give a full timetable of the parliamentary work undertaken
  • how long was the trip scheduled to last?
  • did any other MPs accompany Mr Offord?
  • did Mr Offord's wife accompany him, and were her costs covered by parliament or any other body?
  • did Mr Offord receive any hospitality while on his trip, and if so, by whom was it provided?
  • how many other MPs have visited Belize in the last five years on parliamentary business, or have declared trips to Belize paid for by a third party?

The response was as follows:

In response to your bullet points 1-8, the House of Commons does not hold any of the requested information.

With regard to your last question, I attach an entry from the Register of Members’ Interests. No other information is held.

The only MP listed was William Hague. Make of the rest what you will, but clearly Mr Offord's trip - or some of it - was as part of a voluntary scheme, and not officially organised by Parliament. It seems that activities undertaken by MPs who belong to the AFPS are shrouded in mystery: we do not know exactly how much time was spent on this trip on 'exercises' or if poor Matthew ever got time for the odd spot of Sex on the Beach, or indeed any cocktails at all: we do not know exactly how the AFPS is funded either, although this is believed to be at least in part supported by the defence industry. You might find that there ought to be more transparency in regard to this scheme, and I would most certainly agree.

Finally: you know Mr Mustard, that high maintenance blogger who doesn't get out of his FOI bed for less than, oh at least £40,000 a year ( only takes 50p and a vague promise to get him into it, apparently, and no, I haven't tried): he has just received yet another needlessly delayed response to one of his probing questions about - ah: free parking permits for councillors, MPs (yes, they are eligible) and er, GLA members (something to look forward to, Andrew). Mr Mustard was curious to know if any permit holders have more than one. He has been at last given a response: Mrs Angry's unneccessarily intrusive commentary in red:

"I can confirm that there are members who hold two member’s permit. Those members are:

Councillor Suri Khatri (tut tut)

Councillor Brian Schama – has 1 parking permit against which 2 vehicle registration numbers have been registered (TWO? A big black mark, no, two black marks for you, Mr Schama: Mrs Angry is very disappointed in you. Mill Hill is a bugger for parking, admittedly, but whose fault is that?).

I can confirm that there are MPs who hold a permit. Those MPs are:

Theresa Villiers MP

Matthew Offord MP

* see below

I can confirm that Mike Freer MP holds two permits (TWO? Why does he need one anyway? Or any of them?)

I can confirm that there is one GLA members who hold a permit. That GLA member is: (go on, go on)

Councillor Brian Coleman

PS: A kind reader has reminded Mrs Angry of this article last May in the Hendon Times, here

where the newly elected Mr Offord tells us he travels to work everyday on the tube everyday, and poses for a nice photo in what looks like a new suit, looking as if he is thinking very hard about something important. Well, may be he was - such as do I really need a free parking permit from the London Borough of Broken Barnet?


baarnett said...

Mike needs one for his ice-cream van, of course.

baarnett said...

Mrs Angry would be through at the hairdresser’s in fifteen minutes, Brian Gordon saw in looking at his watch, unless they had trouble drying it; sometimes they had trouble drying it. She didn’t like to get to Hendon Town Hall first; she would want him to be there waiting for her as usual.

He found a big leather chair in the lobby, under the picture of Brian Coleman, and he put the overshoes and the puppy biscuit on the floor beside it. He picked up an old copy of the Daily Telegraph and sank down into the chair. “Can Coleman win against Dismore next May?” Brian read, looking at the pictures of closed shops and of ruined streets.

... “The cannonading has got the wind up in young Raleigh, sir,” said the sergeant. Captain Gordon looked up at him through tousled hair. “Get him to bed,” he said wearily. “With the others. I’ll fly alone.” “But you can’t, sir,” said the sergeant anxiously. “It takes two men to handle that bomber and the One Barnet opposition are pounding hell out of the air. Von Richtman’s circus is between here and East Barnet.” “Somebody’s got to get that ammunition dump,” said Mitty. “I’m going over. Spot of brandy?” He poured a drink for the sergeant and one for himself.

War thundered and whined around the dugout and battered at the door. There was a rending of wood and splinters flew through the room. “A bit of a near thing,” said Captain Gordon carelessly. “The box barrage is closing in,” said the sergeant. “We only live once, Sergeant,” said Gordon with his faint, fleeting smile. “Or do we?” He poured another brandy and tossed it off. “I never see a man could hold his brandy like you, sir,” said the sergeant. “Begging your pardon, sir.”

Captain Gordon stood up and strapped on his huge Webley-Vickers automatic. “It’s two kilometers through hell, sir,” said the sergeant. Gordon finished one last brandy. “After all,” he said softly, “what isn’t?” The pounding of the cannon increased; there was the rat-tat-tatting of machine guns, and from somewhere came the menacing pocketa-pocketa-pocketa of the new flame-throwers. Councillor Gordon walked to the door of the dugout humming “Aupres de Ma Blonde.” He turned and waved to the sergeant. “Cheerio!” he said...

Something struck his shoulder. “I’ve been looking all over this town hall for you,” said Mrs. Angry. “Why do you have to hide in this old chair? How did you expect me to find you?” “Things close in,” said Brian Gordon vaguely. “What?” Mrs. Angry said. “Did you get the what’s-its-name? The puppy biscuit? What’s in that box?” “Overshoes,” said Gordon. “Couldn’t you have put them on in the store?” “I was thinking,” said Brian Gordon. “Does it ever occur to you that I am sometimes thinking?” She looked at him. “I’m going to take your temperature when I get you home,” she said.

Mrs Angry said...

hmmm. Think you mean his Sooty camper van, baarnett. As to your Mitty tale, I am slightly disconcerted by the fleeting but uncannily life like representation of Mrs Angry's grumpiness and irritability. And devotion to hairdressers. Have you been peering through my letter box again?

Mrs Angry said...

was it a Sutherland or a Lancashire Bomber? Don't bother, Mr Roper, Mrs Angry is only teasing.

Anonymous said...

What? Did someone call?

Mrs Angry said...

I seem to remember you telling me off for confusing Lancaster Bombers for Lancashire bombers - so much more homely sounding. And I called a Sunderland a Sutherland, after Graham. It's always a mistake to upset the plane spotting readership of Broken Barnet, who need to get out more,and have I mentioned the many tedious trips I have spent with small boys at RAF Hendon and that awful, boring place near Cambridge stuffed with planes and sad men in anoraks taking photos? As a child I used to secretly snap off the propellers & wheels on my brother's airfix kits, just to annoy him. This will test whether he reads his sister's blog, won't it?

Mrs Angry said...

anyway, a kind reader has pointed out that Mr Matthew Offord made a big deal about using the tube to go to work, when elected: have added link to article, with a nice photo of Matthew about to get on a train, looking very hard, but sans Max, who yesterday only managed to win third place in the parliamentary dog of the year 2011. Poor Max. He is run off his feet, running Matthew's constituency office when he is away at sea, and look at the thanks he gets.