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News and Comment May 2012

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7 May - Bexley. Twinned with Barnet?

I take a look at the Barnet-Eye blog three or four times each week. In a very different style to Bonkers it provides the low-down on a Conservative administration running amok. Not that Barnet is as undemocratic as Bexley, it allows filming in the council chamber and it hasn’t yet reported bloggers to the police for “criticising councillors” though it did employ lawyers in an unsuccessful attempt to convince the Information Commissioner that blogging offended against the Data Protection Act. It also scores twice as highly as Bexley in its treatment of questions to the council but it also ignores petitions, albeit of only 290 signatures rather than Elwyn Bryant’s 2,219. It is similar in another respect too…

It introduced telephone payment for parking with no alternative. Unlike Bexley where charges crept up from 20 or 30 pence to its present norm of a pound an hour over several years, in Barnet they thought it was sensible to make the jump in one go - with predictable results. Shops in Barnet were hit hard in the cash till and their owners protested loudly.

The Leader of Barnet Council is Brian Coleman, a man unafraid to insult the Jews in an area where that religion flourishes and to call his fellow councillors odious toads - See video. Brian Coleman, like our own council leader Teresa O’Neill is a close associate of Mayor Boris Johnson. He is Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and a member of the Greater London Assembly. But not any more, he was the biggest loser in the last Thursday’s elections for Assembly Member and thankfully deprived of his £53,000 a year.

The bloggers of Barnet have been very high profile, they make no secret of their support for the Labour Party which helps them get coverage in the Guardian newspaper but they have worked hard organising street protests and making publicity videos and now they have succeeded in bringing down a politician who trampled all over the wishes of the local population. Brian Coleman lost 10% of his vote in a constituency that pushed up the vote for Boris Johnson by 17%. Apathy does not always rule the roost.


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