Friday 20 July 2012

Our Barnet, Not One Barnet: - an alternativeTorch Relay

Well, as we all know now, there are several Olympic events taking place in Broken Barnet in the coming days.

On a day yet to be arranged, Councillor Brian Coleman will be honouring a pledge made some while ago that if the Olympic costs came in under budget, he would mark the achievement by crawling naked up the Finchley Road.

Despite desperate last minute attempts by LOCOG, the Mayor, and the Greater London Assembly to splurge on any project - an aadequate supply of private security staff, for example - that might tip the budget into the red, in order to avoid this awful spectacle, all efforts were unsuccessful, and shops and businesses from Swiss Cottage to Temple Fortune are on a moment's notice to shut down, draw the blinds, and hide under the counter until the whole ghastly procession has passed by .

Later this week, on the 25th July, the Olympic Torch will be carried through the borough, from west to east, passing through Finchley, a terrible security risk, of course, as this means it will not only pass inches away from the modestly apppointed, fixed rent charity flat which is home to Brian Coleman himself,but then through the badlands of Tally Ho, where the notorious cafe owner and anti Coleman parking scheme campaigner Helen Michael runs her business, and represents the best interests of local traders.

Helen Michael has, of course, and quite rightly, been interrogated by SO15 counter terrorist police, due to her anarchic tendency to distribute posters to local shops with unflattering pictures of Brian Coleman. Mmm. She and I were talking about this regrettable tendency of hers, the other day, you know, over a glass of something in, where was it now, Helen? Ah - the Freemasons Arms. Oh how we laughed. You boys.

But forget all that. That stuff belongs in the old Barnet, when it was broken. We are all working for a Better Barnet , now, aren't we?

Yes. One of the fabulous, unexpected results of the current reign of terror of our Tory council, and everything that has happened in the last year or so as bloggers, campaigners and residents groups have come together to fight their tyranny, is the network we have built, a spontaneous, vibrant new community of local citizens, activists, and well, yes: friends.

The Barnet Spring is a unique phenomenom, perhaps - a theatre of experimental drama, portraying the conflict of hardline Tory policies, a conspiracy of senior officers, and a resistant force of citizens who refuse to co operate with their shamelessly anti democratic, profiteering agenda.

Residents have their own views about the direction this borough should be following, and these days they do things their own way.

Tomorrow, therefore, sees an alternative Torch Relay, organised by Barnet Alliance to mark our opposition to the massive oursourcing of our council services through the catastropically over ambitious One Barnet programme - see the poster above for details, and come along to make the point to your local council: as it says on the banners - this is Our Barnet, not One Barnet.

*Update: even as this post is being written, Mrs Angry has been forwarded a copy of the following email from a senior officer at Barnet Council, sent at the last minute to one of the organisers of the proposed relay and parade: (oh, and by the way, this organiser has now also received an interesting phone call from Scotland Yard, apparently purely on the basis of being a known local activist):

"Thank you for your prompt response and for providing the information requested. I am pleased to note your confirmation that you will not be using the main body of Victoria Park for your unauthorised event on 21 July, 2012. However, I must inform you that the alternative site identified by you also forms part of Victoria Park thus requiring the Councils consent for its use and the requirement to fulfil the terms and conditions of hire, including an appropriate hire fee.

Regardless of the classification of the event, the position is that a number of the activities that you propose to undertake are regulated and require a licence from the licensing authority obtained via a temporary events notice, which can only be obtained by giving a minimum of 5 working days notice before the event is due to take place. I remind you that if your proposed event involves unauthorised activities, then Section 136 of the Licensing Act 2003 states that:

(1) A person commits an offence if –

(a) he carries on or attempts to carry on a licensable activity on or from any premises otherwise than under and in accordance with an authorisation or

(b) he knowingly allows a licensable activity to be so carried on.

A person found guilty of an offence under section 136 of the Licensing Act 2003 may be liable upon summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding £20,000, or to both.

You point is noted about your right of assembly, however this right does not, of itself, extend to permit an organised event to proceed with activities that require both the consent of the Council and a licence. I would also draw your attention to the London Borough of Barnet Byelaws relating to Pleasure Grounds, 1978 which your proposed activities may also be in contravention of:

Tents, drying and selling etc.

20 A person shall not in the pleasure ground:

(i) except as hereinafter provided erect any post, rail, fence, pole, tent, booth, stand, building or other structure;

Provided that this prohibition shall not apply where upon any application to the Council they grant permission to erect any post, rail, fence, pole, tent, booth, stand, building or other structure, upon such occasion and for such purpose as are specified in the application;

(ii) hang, spread or deposit any linen or other fabric for drying or bleaching;

(iii) sell, or offer or expose for sale, or let to hire, or offer or expose for letting to hire, any commodity or article, unless, in pursuance of any agreement with the Council, or otherwise in the exercise of any lawful right or privilege, he is authorised to sell or let to hire in the pleasure ground such commodity or article.

Obstruction & annoyance

21 A person shall not in the pleasure ground wilfully obstruct, disturb, interrupt, or annoy any other person in the proper use of the pleasure ground, or wilfully obstruct, disturb, or interrupt any officer of the Council in the proper execution of his duty, or any person or servant of any person employed by the Council in the proper execution of any work in connection with the laying out or maintenance of the pleasure ground.


22 A person shall not in the pleasure ground operate or cause to be operated, to the annoyance of any person, any musical instrument, wireless set, radio transistor, gramophone, tape recorder, cassette player, amplifier or similar instrument:

Provided that this byelaw shall not apply to any person taking part in any function in pursuance of an agreement with the Council.

The Council is also concerned at the apparent lack of planning and provision of appropriate procedures and insurance that would be required for an event of this scale on public land.

In the circumstances, I therefore require that you reverse your decision to hold an event at Victoria Park on 21 July, 2012 for which you do not have the required consent or licence.

I trust the above is self explanatory and look forward to receiving confirmation that you will not be holding the event at Victoria Park."

Well: clearly our council has left this all to the latest possible moment in a desperate ploy to prevent the relay taking place.

How amusing that the council which is so keen on pimping out our parks and greenspaces (except those saved by anxious Tory mps) is now quoting the very terms and bye laws which campaigners used to counteract Brian Coleman's hugely unpopular new policy.

Well, Mrs Angry will be taking her walk in her local park tomorrow. She may or may not take the opportunity to buy and sell tents, erect a few poles, or dry and/or bleach her undergarments, accompanied by the annoyance of music wafting across the tennis courts from her wireless set, but she will certainly be exercising her democratic right to assemble, to free speech, and self expression, and all those other terrible things which so upset the monstrous, tyrannical Tory councillors of Broken Barnet.

See you tomorrow.

*Update Saturday: here is a statement from the organisers in regard to today's events -

Our Barnet – NOT “One Barnet” community torch relay and parade and rally goes ahead despite Barnet council banning the closing party

Dear friend,

The ‘Our Barnet – NOT “One Barnet”’ community torch relay and parade will go ahead, including the closing rally outside Victoria Park from 1 o’clock, today, Saturday 21 July. Unfortunately, due to the council’s unreasonable and deliberately anti-democratic stance, we will have to have our party elsewhere, although music bands, stalls and games had been planned for the closing rally.

The bottom line of it all is that Barnet council seems to be scared of the growing opposition of residents to its One Barnet Programme of privatisation and is trying to gag residents despite our efforts to work with them.

It seems that our council, Barnet council, have decided to declare war on its residents and not allow them to enjoy and celebrate. Being unable to stop the political protest which is protected under Articles 10 & 11 of the Human Rights Act (the freedom of expression and the right to protest and freedom of association), they are banning the fun part of the protest.

(Mrs Angry's emphasis here)

The correspondence below followed other attempts to intimidate members of our community in the last week, using various excuses, as well as a phone call received from New Scotland Yard a few days ago, trying to link us with disrupting the Olympic torch relay in Barnet (when in all our publications it is clear that our protest takes place on a different day altogether!). Failing this, the Scotland Yard official tried to suggest that we had not liaised with our local police; when she heard from me that we did exactly as required by law and are working closely with officers from Colindale police station, she concluded the conversation saying ‘there is no problem then’. From my conversation with the Scotland Yard inspector it seems that the instigator of this phone call who passed the request to the Scotland Yard to investigate us was not the local Met…

I am sure the residents and families attending our rally today Saturday 21 July will be angry with the council’s decision, and it will add to the growing anger with Barnet’s top officials and Conservative Cabinet, this time – as party spoilers.

Please join us on Saturday 21 July to protest against the One Barnet Programme of privatisation and attacks on democracy in Barnet.

Tirza Waisel, BAPS coordinator

10:30 for 11 start – Friern Barnet library, Friern Barnet Road
11:30 North Finchley library, Ravensdale Avenue opposite High Road Sainsbury’s, N12:
March through our threatened High Road to support local traders
12:00 Tally Ho Corner
13:00 Ballards Lane, N12 outside Victoria Park, rally & party


Mr Mustard said...

I have never set foot in Victoria Park Mrs Angry (shame on me) as it isn't exactly a short walk from my abode but do you know that tomorrow I think I might just explore it so that I can see what the fuss is all about. By some happy coincidence that may be at the very time that others decide unilaterally to do the same thing.

Mrs Angry said...

Victoria Park was created to celebrate a jubilee year, funnily enough. And here we are, in another jubilee year, as much under the thumb of petty alderman despots as we would have been a hundred years or so ago. Time stands still, here in Broken Barnet.