Yes: the curse of Mrs Angry has struck once more.
More deadly than a bite from Himself, An Amadán Mór, and scarier than the gaze of Medusa, her vengeance has been wreaked.
Vengeance? Hmm, well: as you know I was not exactly amused by the antics of Metpro Rapid Response, Barnet Council's private police force, at the recent council meeting - (see earlier posts, Broken Barnet's Secret Army etc) - nor was I impressed by Barnet Council's impenetrable wall of silence, when asked some pertinent questions about their use of this bunch of faceless, blackshirted heavies. But then last week, I heard something which really, really pissed me off.
After the last residents' Forum, it was alleged that someone apparently in charge of this group of glorified bouncers had claimed that, at the infamous budget meeting, he had had his men secretly filming suspected troublemakers and anarchists like me - ha - with hidden cameras.
Not only that, it was alleged he also claimed that all blogs and tweets were being routinely 'monitored' by this company: Mrs Angry is apparently a particular favourite. Glad you are a fan, Mr Metpro: wish I could return the compliment. Or perhaps I just have?
How grotesque it would be if the council which has so shamelessly, if impotently, tried to defy the instructions from ministers Eric Pickles and Bob Neill to allow filming of council meetings, had actually sanctioned the covert filming of ordinary residents, as they attempted to exercise their lawfull right to witness the adoption of the annual budget, paid for by their taxes.
This would mean that rather than follow a government initiative intended to bring greater transparency, scrutiny and accountability to local government by allowing residents to record the actions of their elected representatives, a private security company, acting on the council's behalf, had been encouraged to spy on ordinary citizens, filmed them without permission or notice, and presumably may still be in possession of film footage of them.
This raises some extremely serious questions about Barnet Council's use of private security companies. Was the council aware of the alleged filming? Had it authorised any such action? What are the data protection implications? If such filming did take place, and the council was unaware of it, what investigation is it going to undertake into the matter?
Mrs Angry wrote to the Chief Executive to ask about this allegation on the 16th of March. She has received no response whatsoever, just as she received none to an earlier email on the same subject. Mrs Angry is a non person, in the London Borough of Broken Barnet.
And then today, she hears from journalist and blogger Mr David Hencke, who has been troubling the council with his attentions again, that there may be a pressing reason for the ominous silence from NLBP:
take a look at his blog:
Alas, it seems that Metpro Rapid Response is no more. It is being liquidated, and the security contract will now presumably be up for grabs. Let's hope that the new company is chosen in a careful process, open to the full scrutiny of armchair auditors and all 'respectable' citizen journalists. We live in hope, don't we, readers, even in Broken Barnet?
Let's hope too that Barnet Council will now feel moved to launch a full and honest investigation into the use of this company, and explain to residents and bloggers exactly why it felt the need to control and monitor its own citizens in the manner of a paranoid dictatorship, losing its grip on reality, and teetering on the brink of collapse.