So, where were we ... mmm, Barnet Council decided, at 6pm last night, to try to obstruct - yes, there's that word again, obstruct - the anti One Barnet alternative Torch relay by barring the march from Victoria Park. Why? Oh, you know, it would have been against the bye laws, having such a large gathering. And a risk to health and safety.
Yep: Barnet Parks are not to be used for large gatherings, you see, by large gatherings. Bye laws, health and safety, stuff like that. Too risky. Oh - unless the large gathering is a commercial event, one of the new private hire arrangements just sanctioned this week by our shabby Tory Cabinet.
Of course Victoria Park has now been withdrawn from the list of those identified for such ventures. Because local Tory MP Mike Freer got worried about the amount of opposition from local residents and lobbied to have it exempted. Yes, like Robert Rams & the car park charges.
This is the way things work, in our borough. Tories create unpopular policies, ignore any protest, until the issue is so unpopular they realise that it might affect their chances of re election, then they have words in quiet so that an exception is made for their constituents.
This is Broken Barnet: didn't you know?
Not sure why Barnet Council thought banning the relay from entering the park would do them any favours - all it did, of course, was to make people more inclined to support the march, and the rally took place outside the entrance, rather than inside the park, thus ensuring that the whole protest gained more attention than it otherwise would have had.
Starting in Friern Barnet, by the library so recently closed, but still the subject of much campaigning by local residents, the relay moved on to North Finchley, and this is where Mrs Angry, Mr Tichborne and others joined in.
Andrew Dismore, AM
Mrs Angry and Mr Tichborne had been somewhat distracted, by the way, before the start of the march by the amusement caused by a parking attendant, one of the newly privatised NSL flock which is permanently predating on the drivers attempting to stop in this part of North Finchley, coincidentally right next to Cafe Buzz, the centre of so much dangerous activism in Broken Barnet. This guy parked his moped on a yellow line, and then issued a ticket to a poor woman with a child in the car who had stopped briefly in the wrong place, even though he was wearing a helmet, against the regulations, and despite some lovely photos taken as he was pursuing this petty incident. In front of two Barnet bloggers with camera phones, in fact. Oh dear.
The Torch relay, with the Torch itself, a long trail of residents, activists, union members, banners, and a bus moved slowly through North Finchley to Finchley Central, passing by the Tory HQ on Ballards Lane, and Brian Coleman's charity flat.
Even more amusing, as we passed by the Da Vincenzo cafe opposite Waitrose, (which is one of Finchley's several brilliant Italian cafe/delis, btw) we failed to realise who was sitting inside, putting customers off their cappuccini. Yes, Brian Coleman. On his own, Johnny no mates. One of the marchers who dropped in later asked him why he had not joined in the march. What march? Oh dear. Brian was rather tetchy. Mrs Angry and friend called in later and spoke to the nice man who runs the cafe. Signora, he said, shrugging: you know how it is - custom is custom. Signora Angry suggested he might like to add something to your coffee, on your next visit, Brian, and no, it wasn't a spoonful of sugar.
Outside Victoria Park
On we walked, anyway, to the park. A rather tired Mrs Angry was very glad that the very charming five year old Libby had insisted on taking her hand at the beginning of the march, possibly because she suspected Mrs Angry might try and make a bolt for it, and marched her on firmly to the end. When we reached Victoria Park, speeches were made by Tirza Waisel, from Barnet Alliance, and our new Assembly member Andrew Dismore, and Poppy from the Green Party, and blogger Roger Tichborne, and several others.
Tirza Waisel and Roger Tichborne
BBC cameras attended, the police were relaxed, and good natured, and everyone managed perfectly well, without any difficulty. Holding the rally outside the park, in fact, was a brilliant move, thank you Barnet Council, as it made the event more visible to passing traffic.
From its introduction by Mike Freer as the easycouncil model, and its metamorphosis via Futureshape into the current branding,Barnet Tories have tried to keep the One Barnet programme as low profile as possible, avoiding all consultation about the project with residents, and steadfastly rebuffing all attempts at scrutiny by the vast majority of councillors.
Things have changed, however, and this ruthless act of prostitution of our council services has escaped from its cover of anonymity and is now being exposed to the wider community for what it is: a total betrayal of trust, a catastrophe, and one unfolding on a scale never seen before in any local authority.
Today was another step on the route to the final point of decision for our Tory masters: choose to continue to support One Barnet, and face widespread defeat in the next local elections, or start to listen, start to question the motives of the senior management team that is pursuing the agenda of such massively over ambitious outsourcing, and look for an alternative source of the efficiencies we all know must be made. The answer, Tory councillors of Broken Barnet, is right in front of you, in house, and ready to go. Think it over, why don't you?