Coleman and Cornelius: send in the clowns
Updated Saturday, and Sunday - see below ...
Laugh ... or cry? The choice is yours.
Joke no 1: The world according to Richard Cornelius, puppet Leader of Barnet Council:
Richard Cornelius is a master of the act of dissembling, taking great efforts to appear, touchingly, always so easily bruised and confused by the unpleasantness and intricacy of political life here in Broken Barnet.
Either that, or he really is incredibly stupid.
At a recent business forum meeting in Finchley, exposed to the fury of local shopkeepers and other traders facing disaster as a result of the new parking scheme, he told them he didn't see what he could do about it.
According to Barnet Eye blogger Roger Tichborne, who attended a business breakfast meeting sponsored by Barnet Council this week, Richard Cornelius told the audience that there were 20,000 businesses registered in the borough, but whinged that it was 'difficult for the council to understand them'.
That much is clear, is it not, as no council, especially a Conservative council, supposedly sympathetic to the needs of commercial enterprise, would be expected to come up with a parking scheme that so obviously would cause such damage to the health of the town centres of our borough.
At this meeting, a local cafe owner called Helen Michaels told Cornelius, in no uncertain terms, exactly where to get off, and he responded by telling her that if she didn't like the new arrangements, she should address the problem by giving free parking vouchers to customers. The total idiocy of such a suggestion defies belief, and Mrs Angry can only suppose that he was indulging in an elaborate wind up, in preparation for the Friday joke. Job done, then, Richard.
Another joke by Richard Cornelius made at this meeting, as reported by the Barnet Eye, was in regard to our last remaining local museum.
If you remember, our wonderful Church Farmhouse Museum was shut by our philistine councillors - and Cllr Cornelius described the collection in a memorable council meeting as worthless - and now the listed property, and its extensive grounds, are up for sale to the highest bidder, ripe for development. *Update, see below ...
The Barnet Museum was also on the list of Tory targets. At this week's business meeting, according to Rog, Cornelius announced that 'that the threat of closure had been lifted from Barnet Museum and it was now being run by volunteers' ...
This is completely and utterly untrue.
The only reason Barnet Museum still has its doors open is because there is doubt about the legal ownership of the property. If Barnet was sure that it really did own the building, the museum and its collection would already be out on the street.
It must also be pointed out that the museum has always been run by volunteers: trying to imply that this is some sort of innovative 'Big Society' crap, and that the museum has been handed over to a local voluntary group is completely deceitful. And rather than support it, Barnet Council is actually trying force the museum to agree to completely unacceptable terms, with no long term security and a commercially based rent.
You might wonder why it is that this is the case, when such generosity is shown to other influential enterprises with no local connection, keen to avail themselves of council owned properties. But then if you do, you must have forgotten that this is Broken Barnet, motto: if it ain't broke, let's make sure it soon will be.
Joke no 2: courtesy of Mr Nick Walkley, Chief Executive of the London Borough of Barnet.
At the same business meeting, a man who is supposedly the landlord for 1% of all Barnet businesses made some interesting comments. He reportedly told the audience,according to Rog, that you should not bank with the Irish, as 'they are all a bunch of cheats' and that: 'the council was "run by a bunch of wallies who hadn't got a clue about business. Richard Cornelius pointed out that he was a small businessman. Nick Walkley then interjected that his teacher used to call him a wally at school, supposedly because he had trouble spelling his name."
Mr Walkley: darling. Spelling had nothing to do with it.
Rog also reports that Walkley expressed an interest in the Damned, and indeed has previously alluded to the CEO's alleged fondness for punk music. Long way, isn't it, Nick, from that to this? Or is One Barnet one big anarchic joke? Who knows.
Here is another rib tickling joke from Mr Walkley, from his weekly address to the soon to be sold off council workers of Broken Barnet;
"Those of you who have attended one of my recent budget briefings will know that I am keen to emphasise the democratic accountability that working in local government brings. Whilst popular media often downplays or caricatures councillors, those who work in government will know the contribution Members make to the local community."
Mrs Angry wonders if Mr Walkley was able to keep a straight face when he wrote this. Does he really think anyone will believe such utter tosh? Democratic accountability? Contribution to the local community? Which leads us on to -
Joke No 3: Who really is the council Leader in Broken Barnet?
A press release by the Labour group in Barnet this week told us:
"Parking charges may still go up by 5% despite an announcement that they wouldn't made by the Leader of the Council before Christmas. The Labour Group called-in the decision to increase parking charges to last night's Business Management scrutiny committee (BMOSC), where Cabinet Member, Cllr Brian Coleman refused to remove the 5% increase in parking charges from the fees and charges report. When Labour raised the announcement by the Leader of the Council in a local press article, Cllr Coleman said -
"The Leader can say what he likes."
Oh. So there we have it, citizens. The last laugh, and the biggest joke of all. Proof that Richard Cornelius is after all, a puppet leader. The real leader of Barnet Council, sadly, is Brian Coleman. As we saw in the recent footage of a committee meeting, where Tory councillor John Marshall castigates a quivering Cornelius for the repeated non attendance of Coleman, and asks him, daringly, to do something about it - Cornelius is in fear and trembling of his fellow Totteridge councillor colleague. Why? This is one of the great mysteries of Broken Barnet. We have a de facto leader who hides behind a puppet king, and is seemingly above the reach of scrutiny, or sanction.
Well, well, except he is not really. Like the Wizard of Oz, he is just a weird little man pulling strings and speaking through a megaphone.
In May, citizens, you will have a chance to unveil him. Make sure you make your vote count: vote for Andrew Dismore, and save us all from Brian Coleman.
By next May, Barnet will effectively have handed over its services to friends in private enterprise, and our local Tory councillors will have very little influence over anything that matters to the residents of this borough. If Brian Coleman loses his GLA position, and his position on the London Fire authority, his reign of terror will effectively be over. Do your duty in May, and the Wizard will be kicked off his step ladder, and the joke, citizens, will, at last, be on Brian Coleman.
Mrs Angry has been shoe shopping again
Finally a reminder that Mayor Boris Johnson is visiting Barnet on Tuesday for a Talk London 'debate' to be chaired by Brian Coleman. This promises to offer a wonderful night's entertainment. If you don't have a ticket, turn up at 6pm, the Peel Centre, register, and blag your way in. There is so much to talk about, isn't there?
Joke No 4:
Here is another hilarious development, courtesy of Barnet Council. Mrs Angry is not laughing.
Thanks to readers who have alerted Mrs Angry to two adverts in this week's local Times regarding the Church Farmhouse Museum.
On page 39 we see the Grade II* listed museum building stripped naked 'with vacant possession', & paraded for the temptation of would be developers, and on page 53 there is an interesting notice regarding the 'garden land' to the rear of the museum, referring to a 'proposed unencumbered freehold/long leasehold disposal'. In the second notice, a reference is made to Section 123(2A) of the local Government Act 1972, and a mention is made at the end of the notice that 'Before taking any further decision on the proposal the council will consider any written representations received'.
It would seem if fact that the council is legally obliged to 'consider' our objections to the proposed 'disposal' of the gardens. You may feel as I do, that the use of such grounds for any development, in this historically sensitive part of old Hendon, is utterly inappropriate and must not be allowed under any circumstances.
You can see the plans of the 'proposed area' either at NLBP, or Hendon Library.
Mrs Angry urges all residents who object to the closure of our museum and the shameless sell off of this historic property, to write and state their reasons for their wish to prevent the 'disposal' of the land adjoining the building to the council , addressing their correspondence to (and of course no email address is given) -
the Assistant Director of Estates, 1st Floor, Building 2, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 - quoting ref VAL/SE/313, to arrive no later than February 10th.
Mrs Angry would like to remind citizens that in the next few days they will have a couple of opportunities to take part in some community engagement, Broken Barnet style, with our elected representatives. They may wish to upset the same elected representatives, and raise some of the issues of concern regarding parking, or the sale of our museums, or indeed, anything else.
These two opportunities have of course been shrouded in secrecy so as to minimise the chance of anyone taking part, but Mrs Angry will step in and do her civic duty as a Barnet blogger, to educate, inform, and entertain:
As mentioned above, on Tuesday Boris Johnson, Brian Coleman and Richard Cornelius will be at the Talk London event in Hendon, waiting humbly for your questions, and won't that be a lovely thing to see? Mrs Angry is almost beside herself with excitement at the prospect, but expects on Tuesday night to have become invisible, or marked out as an unreliable choice for audience participation.
(NB: Matthew Offord was boasting on twitter last night that on Friday he took Boris shopping in Brent Cross. Mrs Angry hears that the MP's adviser Max told Matthew to take Boris to Claire's accessories, and Rigby & Puller - but sadly the latter closed down this week as no one in Broken Barnet, other than Brian Coleman, can afford to buy luxury knickers anymore. Boris took Matthew to Fenwicks to buy some new mugs to replace the ones that keep flying out of Matthew's kitchen cupboards and hitting him in the eye, and then they went to John Lewis to look at bathroom cabinets, for similar reasons.)
On the 23rd January, the Barnet residents' forums will take place - for the first time all three of them, on the same night, at the same time, cunningly organised so as to prevent 'the usual suspects' from attending all three, and also meaning that, for example, Mr McCardle, the senior officer responsible for the parking scheme, will only be shouted at by one set of residents, rather than in triplicate.
These Forums are also carefully timed to start at 6pm, so as to deter almost every resident from attending, as most will either be at work, returning from work, or looking after children.
It goes without saying that the draconian new rules of censorship in theory prevent residents from raising any matter of 'policy', as we are no longer allowed to challenge our masters' decisions, and may now - in theory - only ask safe questions about trees, street lights and other 'public works'. In practice, this is not quite how the evening develops as residents become increasingly frustrated at the iron determination to stifle any free debate and become, well, rather angry. It's not democracy, but it makes for fabulous entertainment.
Please don't be discouraged from going: Mrs Angry urges all residents to attend these staged events, and to submit questions for the Forums to council officers. You may not know how, as no publicity has been given to the Forums, and for the first time no emails or posters appear to have been sent to regular attendees. For the Finchley and Golders Green forum the officer is:
We must continue to challenge the Tory councillors who say we may not raise the issues of concern to us, or criticise their idiotic policies. If you are furious about the parking scheme, or angry at the closure and sale of Church Farmhouse Museum, or the threatened closure of Barnet Mueum, bloody well tell them so. Please attend these events and speak out, as Mrs Angry always tries - it is an outrage that we are treated in such a fashion by elected representatives and we have every right to protest. It is a question of civil liberties, and the principle of the right to freedom of expression.