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News and Comment July 2012

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22 July (Part 2) - Olympic shame

Barnet protestA tradition established in Nazi Germany in 1936 is to be played out in Bexley today and not unnaturally passes by the borough’s very own Gestapo Headquarters. Bonkers is and will remain an Olympic free zone; nice to see the sun shining on those who wish to see how Bexley council has spent our £271,000 but apart from the considerable drain on my pocket it isn’t something that I care about at all. The sooner it is all over the better. However a very different flame was marched through Barnet yesterday, much more worthy of space here.

Barnet is another of those Big Bad Mad Conservative boroughs that regards residents with total disdain. In some ways Barnet is worse than Bexley but unlike the crooks and charlatans we have elected, the Barnet crew have only just woken up to the possibilities of calling in favours from the police and encouraging them to take a leading role in suppressing Barnet residents and its many critics.

Bexley has outsourced nearly all its services to the point that one must wonder what the Chief Executive is left to do. Nothing at all if the Freedom of Information request for a copy of his business appointments for May 2012 is any indication. They still can’t find an answer. Barnet has embarked on the same course. Another similarity is their attitude to motorists. Here the megalomaniac Peter Craske introduced phone only parking and increased parking charges, tripling some, yet managed to reduce parking revenue all at the same time. That takes a special sort of skill.

Our friends up north have had their own Peter Craske to do much the same thing. His name is Brian Coleman and he achieved the same 40% reduction in shop takings that were reported in Bexleyheath. Funnily enough both these men have lost their cabinet positions, although for very different reasons.

The protests in Barnet have been much better organised than in Bexley. Here the council bends its own rules to reject petitions and may well have had its reputation comprehensively trashed, but except for those who might be fearful of the next loud knock on their doors, they have tended to get away with their dishonesty and law breaking pretty much scot free. In Barnet they do things differently, they take to the streets. The final spark was Barnet council calling for police assistance when they began to lose the democratic argument over parking.

One of the traders pushed to the brink of insolvency by Barnet's parking policies put up a protest notice in the window of her Cafe Buzz window with a few copies in other nearby windows. For that crime (†) the cafe owner, Helen Michael was arrested and interviewed by officers from Scotland Yard. If Scotland Yard seems a bit over the top to you, it gets worse. The officers were from SO15 and if that sounds like a familiar code it will be because it’s the anti-terrorist outfit. That’s right, for exhibiting a poster protesting about parking charges, Barnet council has had Helen Michael accused of plotting to bring down the entire nation.

I cannot possibly tell you the whole story here but a perusal of the barnet-eye and brokenbarnet blogs will fill in the details. Almost needless to say, Barnet council in true Nazi style banned the protest flame from entering their Victoria Park just a matter of hours before the event.

The links to the Barnet blogs are sample pages from many on the same subject. Follow their internal links for the full horrific story of yet another Tory council running amok. But not even Barnet council dares to defy Eric Pickles’ guidance on openness and transparency. That is an affront to democracy almost unique to Bexley’s criminal ridden council.

† The notice in her cafe window did not bear Helen Michael’s name and address and remained in place for a day or two at the beginning of the May election period. That was deemed to be an offence under election law by Barnet council. But a terrorist offence? How can that possibly be justified? By the same logic that puts a man in court for using a metaphor about flaming torches and pitchforks I suppose, except that in the latter case the man concerned hadn’t mentioned the fateful words. Not that that bothered the lying Teresa O’Neill and Will Tuckley.

Olympic Torch outside Arnsberg Way police stationPS. OK, I’ll admit it. My sister alerted me to to and I did find myself glued to the procession through the streets we know so well. I think that was the main attraction, that and seeing living proof that Bexley’s pinch points by design are barely wide enough for a large modern coach to squeeze through.

A magnificent technical achievement by the BBC if I may say so. If you missed the live broadcast you can still see it via the link above, fast forward to the bit that interests you most if necessary. Hall Place 18:00. Police Station 18:22.


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