Thursday 21 June 2012

Brian Coleman - the comeback tour begins: and the curious case of the missing allowance declarations

*See update below: ahem, yes, Richard listens to Mrs Angry, see, Brian ...

Yes, before a report of last night's Cabinet meetings, just a quick post to publish an email sent to Barnet Tory leader Councillor Cornelius this morning: contents self explanatory. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water ...

Poor old Brian. Desperate for attention, and back to his old ways.

And then there is the curious case of the councillor allowances which, despite Uncle Eric's clear wishes, and in blatant disregard for the regulations, here in Broken Barnet are being withheld from publication ...

Dear Councillor Cornelius,

I would like to draw your attention to two rather curious matters:

1. At a committee meeting on Tuesday night, the newly appointed Chair, Councillor Brian Coleman, is reported, quite outrageously, to have banned a member of the public from filming the proceedings.

The individual concerned was not filming in any which was intrusive, or disruptive, and regularly films meetings, as indeed she was last night, with absolutely no problems caused to any party, and yet a governance officer was sent by Cllr Coleman to tell her to cease her activity. That she felt intimidated by this and obliged to stop filming is frankly disgraceful, as I am sure you will agree.

As you know, the filming of council meetings is an activity supported by the Secretary of State, and - eventually - by Barnet Council. You may recall that after a great deal of resistence by some, such activity was approved by full council on the 12th July 2011 - if there is any doubt, you may wish to consult this impeccable source:

It may be that Councillor Coleman, who is, of course, a new Chair, is unfamiliar with the finer points of the democratic process, and would welcome a timely reminder from you that even here in Barnet we are obliged to honour the ideals of transparency, accountability, and scrutiny.

I hope that you will ask Councillor Coleman to apologise for his unwarranted behaviour and make it clear that in future he must not obstruct, or attempt to obstruct, any member of the public from exercising their legally sanctioned right to film a council meeting.

2. Can you please explain why, despite repeated requests from members of the public, details of councillors' allowances are being withheld from publication?

Again, this is an example of a matter which should be perfectly straightforward, and has been only recently championed by Mr Pickles, yet here in a Conservative run borough, we are being prevented from exercising a lawful right to scrutinise the use of public money. I hope that you will agree that this is unacceptable, and publish all the relevant information immediately.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Angry

*Updated Wednesday 27th

This story has been covered in the local Times:

And it now appears that leader Richard Cornelius has taken Mrs Angry's advice. Good man. Plenty more of that available, Richard, when you need it ...

The article ends:

"Council Leader, Councillor Richard Cornelius, said: “I have asked the Director of Corporate Governance to write to all committee Chairs to remind them of Council’s decision in this matter.”

Oh dear: another disappointment for Councillor Coleman. Shame.


baarnett said...

I feel absolutely CERTAIN that "Councillor Coleman is unfamiliar with democratic process" of any sort.

Mrs Angry said...

No, Baarnett: he is familiar with the process, he simply does not think that it applies to him ... he can think again. Looking forward to the next meeting he chairs. Say cheese, Brian.

baarnett said...

"Council Leader, Councillor Richard Cornelius, said: “I have asked the Director of Corporate Governance to write to all committee Chairs to remind them of Council’s decision in this matter.”

Well, it wasn't as if he had merely FORGOTTEN the decision, was it?

At this rate, no-one will bother trying to unseat Bwian in Totteridge ward in 2014, because he will just be a burnt-out nobody.

caebrwyn said...

Good for Mr Cornelius. Had the poor lady tried that in medieval Carmarthenshire she would have been clapped in irons and jeered out of the Chamber...