Friday, 16 March 2012

Friday joke: transparency in Broken Barnet, the next step

If only ... photo courtesy Robert Rams Archives

Last year in his marvellous blog, (I'm not going to add the link, because it will only encourage him to continue with it) Tory Councillor Robert Rams, the Cabinet member with responsiblity for libraries and museums, explained to us that he was committed to helping Barnet Council become more open and transparent. This is of course a wonderful ideal, and indeed Robert is doing all he can to bring transparency and accountability to the forefront of priorities for the Tory administration here in Broken Barnet. He has gone so far in this direction, in fact, that he has made things not only transparent, but completely invisible.

For some time now, Mrs Angry has suspected that little Robert Rams is not, as he maintains, only the shy, retiring pencil sharpening office boy for Brian Coleman at the London Assembly, he is, in his secret life, a cartoon character invested with super powers - and here is the proof.

On Tuesday, the Barnet Eye caught our Robert tweeting the Evening Standard to tell them that their story about libraries facing a bleak future simply was not true in Barnet - where there are, he said, 'new libraries built, all open longer'.

All week we have been searching for these new libraries, but no one has managed to find them. There is a library at Friern Barnet which is about to be closed by Councillor Rams, but there is nothing - or nothing we can see, anyway - to replace it.

We can only conclude that Robert's committment to transparency has been over generous, and has caused the new library to become completely invisible.

In addition, of course, he has made one much loved museum vanish into thin air, and is in the process of performing the same trick with another.

Intriguingly, it seems possible that Councillor Rams has, like the invisible man, now lost the power to manifest himself in human form.

This morning saw an interesting argument on twitter between the Barnet Eye and Rams

in regard to the continuing farce over the banned posters for the forthcoming film premiere, world premiere, darlings, of 'A Tale of Two Barnets' -see details to the right. Rams maintained that he was standing outside Mill Hill Library this morning looking at the reinstated poster. The Barnet Eye rushed over to see him, but whoosh, in a matter of seconds he had become invisible. Luckily Mrs Angry has obtained CCTV footage of the time in question.

Pictured above: Councillor Robert Rams opening his new invisible library (left). (right) Councillor Robert Rams visits Mill Hill library this morning to admire the poster for 'A Tale of Two Barnets'.

More Friday jokes. It's the way I tell'em, Councillor Rams.

Last night Mrs Angry managed to catch the second half of the Question Time debate at Woodhouse Sixth Form College, and very good it was too.

Can you imagine the fun Mrs Angry had when her daughter discovered she was invited to this event? Picture the look of absolute horror, the gasp - you can't go ... SOME OF MY FRIENDS WILL BE THERE ... an evil glint appeared in Mrs Angry's eye at this point. But she did promise to behave, and tried very hard. Miss Angry sat at home, monitoring her mother's tweets, racked with anxiety.

It was great to see so many bolshy sixth formers taking no crap from our revered community leaders and elected representatives - yes I'm talking about you, Councillor Harper. The most impressive speakers were John Burgess, the Unison secretary, and Superintendent Simon Causer, from the police, who was there instead of the borough Commander, Neal Seabridge, who was probably scared off by the thought of another encounter with Mrs Angry. Or perhaps he is still gathering the evidence for my arrest, for upsetting Brian Coleman. He did offer to show me his custody suite once, Brian. The biggest in London, you know. Ah, which reminds me.

Andrew Harper ... Andrew Harper made a joke. Yes. And it was a naughty joke, and Mrs Angry almost blushed. Almost.

Poor Andrew was trying to defend the idiotic parking scheme devised by Brian Coleman, and was stating that it was necessary to rid the borough of cashless parking because of thieves lassoing the meters and driving off with them. At this point, Mrs Angry was unable to restrain herself from muttering 'what rubbish' ... Oh yes, said Councillor Harper, from his elevated place on the stage ... look: here is Mrs Angry, one of the Famous Five bloggers of Barnet ... (See, fellow bloggers, the branding campaign worked ... how much did we pay for consultancy fees for that idea, btw?) ... and now, I suppose, now .... she is going to ask me about MY PORTFOLIO!

Mrs Angry assumed an expression of innocence. Well, no actually, she made an insolent face.

In fact, Cllr Harper, the table was in the way, so I couldn't tell.

One of the interesting questions put by one of the students was to ask why there was such an apparent disparity in the level of council services between the areas of Burnt Oak, where he lived, and the neighbouring ward of Mill Hill. Councillor Harper seemed bemused by this notion. Mrs Angry laughed to herself. Of course the real answer was that Burnt Oak is a disadvantaged area, and a Labour ward, and Mill Hill is an affluent, Tory voting ward, and here we are, a timely example of the polarisation of this borough's community, the widening gap between those with means, and those with needs. Which brings us neatly to ...

Friday joke number three - as well as the premiere, ha of 'A Tale of Two Barnets' at the Phoenix on Monday, (all welcome as long as you are not related to or a close friend of Mrs Angry, who will asking Councillor Rams to make her invisible for the evening) ... Mrs Angry & fellow troublemakers will be attending a showing at the House of Commons, on April 18th. Mrs Angry will probably be escorted by Councillor Rams, and will endeavour to invite him onto the terrace to rearrange his tie. We expect that local Tory MPs Mike Freer, Matthew Offord (and Max) and Theresa Villiers are, as we speak, desperately trying to obtain tickets. Oh, no: sorry, Matthew Offord will be diving, no fighting narco terrorism, in Belize. Sends his apologies.

Hmm. This was supposed to be my St Patrick's Day blog, but I seem to have been a bit distracted. Irish/ish post later, God willing. Look away now, Boris.

oops: nearly forgot - Friday joke no 4:

The Barnet bloggers have been mentioned in an article in the Grauniad today about FOI and how the naughty Local Government Association would like to convince everyone that a huge number of requests made are simply silly or 'vexatious'-

As the article, by Mike Harris, who is head of advocacy at Index on Censorship and the vice-chair of Lewisham council, tells us:

"It's striking that the LGA decided not to highlight how freedom of information has held town halls to account by exposing waste and maladministration. The Barnet bloggers showed how the council used an unlicensed security firm to covertly film residents. Perry Austin-Clarke, editor of the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, used FOI to discover the council was spending £500,000 on mobile phones bills. It subsequently fell to £100,000."

Hmm. Indeed. Funny that. Funny, also, that Mrs Angry did her NCTJ training with Perry Austin-Clarke. A long time ago. Oh dear: what stories Mrs Angry could tell - but Mrs Angry is the model of discretion, of course.

1 comment:

baarnett said...

"The stranger came early in mid-March, one wintry day, through a biting wind and a driving snow.'

When the visitors to Mill Hill Library first see him, he is wearing an overcoat and goggles, and is covered from head to toe with bandages. His hidden identity and mysterious behavior causes the locals to start asking questions. At first they assume he must have been involved in some kind of horrific accident. But the truth is far more alarming than that.

As the reality of the situation starts to become clear, only one thing is certain; the councillor is a troubled soul, and can only deal with his personal incompetence by terrorizing the people around him."

The Invisible Man of the title is "Rams", a politician who theorizes that if a person's refractive index is changed to exactly that of air and his body does not absorb or reflect light, then he will not be visible. He has successfully carried out this procedure on himself...

" 'Film posters are very useful things indeed, sir,' said an out-of-breath Roger the Blogger.

'But I'm very naturally anxious to get on with my duties.'

'Of course, councillor.'

'My reason for coming to the library,' he proceeded, with a certain deliberation of manner, 'was ... a desire for solitude. I do not wish to be disturbed in my work. In addition to my work, an accident at City Hall --'

'I thought as much,' said Roger to himself.

'-- necessitates a certain retirement. My eyes -- are sometimes so weak and painful that I have to shut myself up in the dark for hours together. Lock myself up. Sometimes -- now and then. Not at present, certainly. At such times the slightest disturbance, the entry of another Cabinet member into the room, is a source of excruciating annoyance to me -- it is well these things should be understood.'

'Certainly, councillor," said Roger. 'And if I might make so bold as to Tweet --"

'That I think, is all,' said Rams, and vanished into the gloom."