Thursday, 29 December 2011

New Year Quiz: Part Three

Question 11:

Here is a lovely picture of the President and members of the Old Millhillians club committee: can you spot a Mr Noyan Nihat, of MetPro and Evolution Emergency Response? Mr Nihat has some nice footage of Mrs Angry, and now Mrs Angry has a nice photo of him.

Question 12:

Why did Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, use this speech to the CIPFA conference to lavish praise on the Famous Five Barnet bloggers, and deliver an unprecedented humiliation to the Conservative administration whose incompetence they exposed?

Question 13:

Which diminutive Tory MP for Finchley and Golders Green has a blushing admirer called Mrs T, and has a marvellous blog full of fitness tips and recipes for baked bean suppers, as well as some very surprising local video clips appealing to a wide range of interests? Why does he borrow Sooty's campervan to hold his constituency surgeries outside Tescos in Finchley Central?

Question 14:

Mrs Angry's dream date: an athletic event with Cllrs Hart and Marshall

Smooth tongued lothario Councillor John Hart (left) has many talents to recommend him, (diplomacy is not one of them), and a thrilling handlebar moustache, but on the other hand, Councillor John Marshall is a Grade 1* listed building, an accomplished man about town, and notable lady charmer. They are both desperately in love with Mrs Angry, of course, and keep squabbling over her favours: should she ask them to settle the argument by:

a. a bare knuckle fight to the death in Victoria Park, before Brian Coleman hires it out to Crapita for corporate entertainment, or

b. writing a musical composition in her honour, sponsored by a grant of £1,000 from the borough's civic events fund, to be performed by massed ensembles and sobbing schoolchildren at the Reverend Adrian Benjamin's All Saints Arts Centre?

Mrs Angry HATES New Year's Eve, loathes the thought of the approaching months of gloomy old January, February, and March, and will be going to bed very early tomorrow night with a pillow over her head and a sense of deep foreboding, but she would like to wish all her readers and blogging friends a very Happy 2012.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

New Year Quiz: Part Two

Question 5:

Who are these generous hearted men of the cloth, and how do they offer support and guidance to Tory councillors in need of help? Why are you laughing?

Which of these minsters has a son who has just been awarded £1,000 from our civic events budget to write a musical composition celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee?

Question 6: How much does that annoy Mrs Angry?

Question 7: Look at these mugshots:
a. b. c.

a. Craig Cooper, Commercial Director for the London Borough of Broken Barnet

b. Andrew 'Black Hole' Travers, £1,000 a day deputy CEO

c. 'Non stick' Nick Walkley, CEO

How many non compliant contracts did they admit were in existence after the Barnet bloggers exposed the culture of incompetence regarding procurement in Barnet? How many more do you think there are?

Question 8: What links have these men had with Broken Barnet and BT, and isn't that nice?

a. Max Wide

b. Richard Grice

c. Sean Powley

A bonus question: name the four short listed companies for the £750 million outsourced council services package, and tell Mrs Angry which one you think is most likely to win.

Question 9:
Can you tell Mrs Angry the name of the company now employing Mr Max Wide, and if it conducts any business here in Broken Barnet?

Question 10: What is this strange object, (left) and why is it now covered up with a black bin liner?

Further questions:

- why was a company with a non compliant contract given £80,000 to remove these objects?

-why are the parking meters still in place?

- which order of nuns trained both Cllr Kath Mc Guirk (left - no, right), and Mrs Angry, in devout Catholicism, unarmed combat, speaking with confidence, and advanced sarcasm?

New Year Quiz: Part One

Here is Mrs Angry's Broken Barnet Quiz for 2011,

Part One

Question 1. Mrs Angry likes a man in uniform: do you?

No, that isn't the question. Can you identify the fantasy figures pictured above? They have all provided the bloggers of Broken Barnet with fabulous stories, during the past year.

Mrs Angry will supply a few clues for those with short memories.

a. Barnet's own private and oh dear, illegally operating police force: blackshirts, boots, but no brains - and no licenses

b. a Tory councillor and Cabinet member, like a puppet, but less lifelike. In charge of libraries, but prefers google to reference books.

c. a local MP who fights narco terrorism, and sits on hotel balconies in wet pants.

Question 2
. Answer the following:

a. who gave MP Matthew Offord an enormous balloon, (judging by his interesting pose)?

b. what has happened to swinging enthusiast Councillor Andrew Harper's portfolio?

c. why is Mrs Angry stroking Actor/Councillor Longstaff's Bottom?

Question 3. Which one of the individuals pictured above is allowed to enter Westminster as long as he doesn't bite anyone?

a. the Wizard of Oz, Lynton Crosby

b. Matthew Offord's political adviser, Max (left, looking on in envy)

c. the Broken Barnet Westminster correspondent, David Hencke

Bonus question: which one became over excited and had a little accident on Matthew Offord's shoulder?

Question 4. Which Tory councillor won the Broken Barnet 'Rear of the Year' award, for his services to the dramatic arts, after the blinding light of his golden talent became visible from outer space, attracting the attention of scientists at NASA? (Mrs Angry would explain exactly what these naughty scientists were looking for, in depth, butt plugging such depths of depravity would be completely inappropriate in a blog of inflexible moral rectitude).

Question 5. On the same theme: which is the odd one out here?

a. a blue hole, which Matthew Offord had no time to visit in Belize

b. a black hole, which follows Andrew Travers, wherever he goes

c. Brian Coleman

Part Two: continued on next post ...

... and a big thank you to Mr Anonymous, Mrs Angry's favourite Broken Barnet reader and IT doctor, who has cured Mrs Angry's blogging problems (some of them, don't get too cocky, Mr Anonymous) xxx

Monday, 26 December 2011

Mrs Angry's Jubilee Celebration

MetPro, the musical: a work in progress

* Updated below

Mrs Angry has been trying hard to resist the temptation to write anything over the Christmas break, and indeed is rather indisposed so the temptation has been minimal: but oh dear - this has made her temperature shoot up again ... well: take a trip over to Mr Mustard's blog, why don't you, and see what has made her so flipping cross?

Mr Mustard keeps a vigilant eye on the delegated powers reports (DPRs) published online by Barnet Council: these documents are often a source of much interesting material, being important decisions signed off by officers or Cabinet members.

All the Barnet bloggers have learnt by now that any contentious or sensitive freedom of information request responses submitted to Barnet will be delayed as long as possible, and then sent out late on a Friday, when the impact of the release of information, or so they hope, will be limited.

Mr Mustard decided this principle may well extend to the publication of DPRs and on checking the latest releases found this treasure: 1494, Queen's Diamond Jubilee Music, published on the 23rd of December, the last council working day of course, before the break.

This is an 'approval to contract with a musical composer to write an anthem to be performed in Barnet during celebrations of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee in 2012'.

So another contract being awarded without any other competition, of course, in the tradition of procurement in Broken Barnet. In fact, this is not procurement at all, arguably more a transaction in the tradition of Tudor patronage, as in the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I.

Because look here: the award, a very generous sum of £1,000, is being given to a composer called Tim Benjamin. Go on, you must have heard of him. No? Well, you might be familiar with his dad then. You know: the Reverend Adrian Benjamin, the banner snatching Tory vicar who is great pals with Brian Coleman, and bailed out his Friern Barnet Summer Show for him?

The decision to endow Mr Benjamin with this award was made by the 'Diamond Jubilee Steering Group'. Guess who sits on this group? Councillors Melvin Cohen, David 'Goldenarse' Longstaff and oh dear: Brian Coleman. Goldenarse, as Cabinet member for Community Safety and Engagement has agreed the action, which will be paid for out of public money, our money, of course, via the Civic Events budget.

Why has Mr Benjamin been given this contract with no competitive process? Er, we are told because he has 'local roots' - yeah, we know - and can write it quickly. Good. Mrs Angry has local roots and for £1,000 could probably rustle up a tune pretty quickly too. Didn't get a look in, though, and more to the point, nor did any other individual who actually lives in the borough.

I'm not sure that residents of Barnet, if they had been consulted, would actually have wanted £1,000 spent on this vanity commission. If we have £1,000 to spare, why not use it to buy some equipment for Barnet General, or holidays for disadvantaged children, or gift hampers for elderly citizens? You know Brian: 'these people' ...

Even if we agreed that it was necessary to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee by creating a musical composition, (and I'll bet she would think it was an idiotic waste of money) why on earth was this not made an opportunity for the many talented musicians living in our borough to engage in a competition, or for schools or music societies to work together to produce some piece of work? And would it not be appropriate for the rich diversity of our borough's population to be represented by a project that explored the musical traditions of different cultural heritages?

Mrs Angry is always keen to promote our local artistic talent and has therefore decided to run an alternative award, to mark the Broken Barnet celebration of the dear old Queen's Diamond Jubilee. She is willing to commission an opera, musical or ballet, on one of the following themes:

MetPro, and a continuing culture of incompetence in the procurement, tendering and contract procedures of our beloved council,

One Barnet: a tale of greed, duplicity and undeclared interests,

Brian Coleman: a tragic story of parking contracts, self love, delusions of grandeur and the loss of his seat in the GLA elections.

All may apply, except anyone who with links to any Tory councillors. Winning choice to be performed at Hendon Town Hall, at the next Full Council Meeting.

Oh: hang on. Already booked. Panto season. All year round.



Mrs Angry has decided to make her own musical contribution to the Jubilee celebration and has emailed Cllr Longstaff with a suggestion:

"Dear Councillor Longstaff,

I understand that in your capacity as a member of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Celebration Steering Group, you are looking for someone to compose a piece of music to mark what is, of course, a moment of huge significance in our country's long history.

By coincidence, I have been composing my own tribute in honour of this occasion, and I would therefore like to submit it to your group for your perusal. It is a short piece, to be played on a tin whistle, hopefully by someone of Irish descent with a keen sense of historical irony, and an impertinent expression, and is entitled: 'Jobs for the boys, Ma'am: another golden example of bare arsed cheek by the Tory councillors of Broken Barnet, this time on the occasion of Your Majesty's Jubilee'.

I am not personally acquainted with any Tory councillors, or members of the Chipping Barnet Conservative Asssociation, but I did once meet Councillor Marshall in the nut section of Waitrose, North Finchley, so please write me a cheque for £1,000 and send it on at your earliest convenience,

Happy New Year,

Mrs Angry"

*Just fancy that: another pointless footnote

The Diamond Jubilee Steering Group which has awarded the lucky Mr Benjamin his £1,000 commission is a mysterious entity, and includes, we are told in the background information of the DPR, 'representatives from the business, education, faith and community organisations. In the interest of transparency, Mrs Angry has requested a full list of members. The group is chaired by a Mr Martin H C Russell, who is the borough's Deputy Lieutenant. Oh, Mrs Angry, I hear you ask, what is a Deputy Lieutenant, and what does he do? Let us explain.

A Deputy Lieutenant is an anachronistic municipal role fulfilled by the sort of person who likes dressing up in uniform and stomping about looking very important, even though he is not. If a member of the Royal Family dares to visit Broken Barnet, the Deputy Lieutenant has to be on hand to greet him or her, bow nicely, and keep the malodorous citizens at bay. I think Mr Russell once came to my children's then primary school, and seemed a nice enough chap, if somewhat overdressed. My son thought he was the Queen's husband.

Yes, you are right, Deputy Lieutenant sounds just the job for Brian Coleman, but sadly Mr Russell got there before him. Funnily enough, Mr Russell and Mr Coleman have quite a few things in common. Some more unexpected than others, perhaps. Apart from dressing up in costume and turning up at lots of functions, apparently they share a love of shoeing horses, and checking horses hooves for disease - yes: they are both 'Liverymen of the Worshipful Company of Farriers'. Brian Coleman is of course often to be found of a weekend with his apron on, sweating away, tap tapping away at his forge, shaping and twisting a molten form with a sledge hammer. Didn't you know?

Mrs Angry, you cry, again, we do not have your wordly experience of secret societies and archaic ceremonial roles: please tell us more ... well, as it happens, Mrs Angry's father worked in the city, and was a member of the Baltic Exchange. His career was based on hard work, and merit, but he would often come home, sit the infant Mrs Angry on his knee and tell her with wry amusement tales of colleagues keen to get on by becoming freemasons of the right lodges, freemen of the City of London, and members of the City guilds and livery companies. These latter bodies, although raising a certain amount of money for charity, largely exist to give social climbing members a sense of belonging and an introduction to a wide range of social contacts. Many livery companies have their own masonic lodges too. Mrs Angry has often wondered why Brian is not a mason: he cannot be because he does not declare it in his interests, yet it would be something he really would enjoy. More aprons, dressing up and lovely dinners too. You boys. Go on, Brian: why not see if someone can get you in? You need to get out more, as we know. Unless of course they won't have you, in which case the Rotary Club might suit.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Mrs Angry's Christmas Message

Well, citizens, friends, and readers: it has been an interesting year here in Broken Barnet, hasn't it, in all sorts of ways?

Over the Christmas break, to remind us all of the fun we have had, a Broken Barnet xmas/new year quiz may emerge from Mrs Angry's gin soaked alcoholic haze, or it may not. As well as staggering about with a horrible injury Mrs Angry now has xmas flu and is in a very, very bad mood. Watch out Santa.

She would like, all the same, to take a moment to pass on Christmas greetings and thank some people who really should be thanked.

Thank you most of all to all readers, commenters and twitter followers: why you bother reading this rubbish I'm not sure, but I am glad you do. I would write it anyway, and sometimes even forget that anyone else will read it, but I am always amused by your responses.

Greetings to fellow bloggers around the country: in South Wales and all over the UK: the virtual friendships made in the last twelve months have been really enjoyable, and it has been a pleasure to get to know you, even if only in cyber space.

Mrs Angry never fails to be astonished by the volume and variety of visitors to this blog. Some are regular callers, distinguished, for example by the old Scansafe filter of the London Borough of Broken Barnet, or the Greater London Assembly (Brian on his blackberry usually, or Councillor Robert Rams), the Houses of Parliament, government departments (hello Eric), a certain police intelligence unit who worries that Mrs Angry is a dangerous anarchist (possibly true), oh and my mysterious friends in West Virginia and Washington who call in everyday from their desks at 9am local time: (who are you, she often wonders, and why do you bother?) Merry Xmas anyway.

Let me not forget all the corporate visitors: BT, Crapita, Capgemini, Serco, Steria, Apcoa, HCLAxon, Impower (hello Mr Max Wide) ... hope all of your outsourcing wishes come true, but not here in Broken Barnet.

To some of Mrs Angry's naughtier visitors who land here by mistake, yes especially you, the gentleman in Tamil Nadu who is still looking for convent schoolgirls in need of correction: sorry to disappoint, and frankly you will be very hard pushed to find any - Mrs Angry is one of the last of her kind, like the pandas in Edinburgh Zoo, you know, but less high maintenance. And she needs no correction, of course, being perfect in every way.

To the Tory councillors and senior officers of the London Borough of Broken Barnet: your institutionalised idiocy and deep rooted culture of incompetence has provided Mrs Angry and all the Barnet bloggers with so much material over the last twelve months ... thank you, but really we would prefer it if you behaved yourselves, did your jobs properly, and made our close attentions entirely unneccessary.

And I must thank the pantomime villains who make Broken Barnet the feast of entertainment that it is, all year round, too many to list, but especially:

In his last season treading the boards, before a well deserved retirement, Himself, Brian Coleman.

Actor/comedian Councillor David Longstaff, the butt of Mrs Angry's jokes on so many occasions (more to come, we think ...)

Councillor Andrew Harper, who also can always be relied on to rise to the occasion (definitely more to come, blessed as he is with a portfolio of such weight and breadth ...)

The substantial number of Tory councillors who never speak in meetings (thank God) and are clearly only interested in collecting their allowances and grabbing the biscuits on offer on the buffet table.

The Tory councillors who regularly fall asleep at meetings, mouth hanging open, bored by their colleagues' mute endorsement of Cabinet policy.

Chief Executive Non stick Nick Walkley, who earns more than the PM, but earlier this year cautioned council workers to be sensitive to colleagues who were feeling 'less valued' after they received their redundancy notices.

Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Finance Officer Andrew 'Black Hole' Travers, worth every f*cking penny of his £1,000 a day.

Captain Craig Cooper, in charge of procurement, but in a deeper sense, very much not. Still: you men can't multi task, can you? Poor loves. All that adding up and thinking hard: just too much.

Let's not forget Barnet Council's own Keystone Cops, run by MetPro's Mr Noyan Nihat and Senior Officer Kevin Sharkey: you got that film back from Snappysnaps yet? Still waiting for my copy. Barnet have now dispensed with their services and now they are using their expertise in safeguarding to provide 'crime response' services to a primary school in Totteridge.

Mrs Angry happens to be on very good terms with Santa, and has given him all your names to put on his naughty list, which serves you right.

This past year has been very difficult in many ways, for many people, but some wonderful things have happened too: Mrs Angry, rather to her surprise, has noted a new sense of community spirit, here in Broken Barnet. In hard times, people really do come together to fight injustice, and to make their voices heard.

It has been a really gratifying and rewarding experience to make so many new friends and make connections with local bodies and groups. We don't need the Tory party to tell us how to make a big society: in every community around the country there are already many unsung heroes working quietly to help their fellow citizens, and protect their best interests: it's a form of public service, a civic duty performed by people who care, unlike so many of the elected representatives who disgrace the positions with which they have been entrusted.

Some of the same elected representatives like to nominate their friends and political associates for our local civic awards: in fact there are many people who have been active in this borough in resisting the lunatic policies of the One Barnet programme and who deserve proper recognition for their struggles on behalf of our community: here is just a handful of names -Linda Edwards from the Larches Trust, David Young, for his fight on behalf of the residents affected by the loss of sheltered wardens, David Howard and John Cox for their campaigning on many local issues in Barnet, John Burgess, Unison secretary, working so hard on behalf of council members facing the loss of jobs, thanks to the One Barnet outsourcing scam; Loretta Paterson, a retailer who has been a determined voice against Brian Coleman's catastrophic parking scheme , Mike Naronha and Gillian Gear from the threatened Barnet Museum, Dennis Pepper for his efforts to protect the Dollis Valley Green Walk: oh, and so many others.

Mrs Angry would like to thank her fellow Famous Five bloggers: Citizen Barnet, The Barnet Eye, Mr Mustard and Mr Reasonable, for their comradely support throughout the year: we all have our different interests and viewpoints, and we don't always see eye to Eye, but we all stand together, and what fun we have had this year, haven't we friends ...

Out in the real world thanks must go to the Guardian's Dave Hill and Patrick Butler, the revered Westminster hack, aspiring blogger and bad speller David Hencke, Private Eye's Tim Minogue: and of course Lord Gnome.

Thanks to Eric Pickles for bigging up the Barnet bloggers, and humiliating the Tory councillors of Broken Barnet: oh, how we laughed. Still laughing, to be honest.

And so to all friends, wherever you are, near and far, I wish you all a very merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year,

and here is a big virtual hug (don't come too close, though, if you don't want xmas flu) from ...

Mrs Angry

Now find a small child or Tory councillor to frighten, and make him or her watch this.

Merry Xmas xxx

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Broken Barnet: Rotten Borough Awards 2011

Mrs Angry sends her warmest congratulations to the Tory leadership, councillors and senior management team of Barnet Council, whose idiotic attempts to obstruct the relentless scrutiny of the Barnet blogosphere have resulted in a well earned citation - 'highly commended' - in the 'Legal Bullies of the Year' section of Private Eye's 2011 Rotten Boroughs' Awards.

In case you cannot read the small print, chaps, let me transcribe the commendation:

Legal Bullies of the Year

"The past year saw a growing trend for councils to use the law, or the threat of legal action, to stifle free speech and limit public scrutiny of the way elected representatives spend tax payers' money. Councils seemed particularly alarmed by the increase in 'citizen journalists' writing blogs and tweeting - and holding councils to account in ways that many local papers no longer have the balls to.

Highly commended: Tory 'easycouncil' Barnet was one authority which took fright at the interest shown in its activities by electors - in particular a busy group of bloggers. It seriously considered prosecuting one of them, 'Mr Mustard', under the data protection act, until the information commissioner told it not to be so silly. Meanwhile it hired security men dressed in black paramilitary style uniforms to intimidate members of the public who turned up for an important budget meeting. Hats off to the bloggers, in particular 'Mrs Angry', who revealed that the company, MetPro, hadn't got a proper contract, and used unlicensed, non CRB checked staff."

It only remains for Mrs Angry to emphasise that all of the Famous Five Barnet bloggers took part in the MetPro investigation - and what fun we have all had together, in the past year - so hats off too to Mr Reasonable, The Barnet Eye and Citizen Barnet.

Congratulations to our blogging friend in Camarthenshire, Jaqui Thompson (nee Evans) also known as Caebrwyn, for her award, and howay man, also to the elusive Mr Monkey, from South Tyneside.

Mrs Angry would suggest to the empty headed Tory councillors of Broken Barnet that they reflect on the significance of this award, and resolve to start the new year with a better attitude and a new commitment to the principles of transparency, accountability and openness. It's called localism, councillors of Broken Barnet: ask Eric Pickles to explain it to you, in words of one syllable.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Rewriting the bible: Mrs Angry on God

Michael Gove: not God yet, but he's getting there

God is very popular with politicians at the moment, have you noticed?

Especially the stern faced old fashioned God, who looks and sounds like Michael Gove: or ... no, Mrs Angry thinks perhaps Michael Gove is God, because after all he has just updated the bible, hasn't he? Rewritten it. Produced a new foreword for the King James version being sent to all schools. Wonder what it says? We can only speculate: a revision of the Sermon on the Mount, possibly, with Jesus bigging up the Big society, and supporting the encouragement of business backed free schools in middle class areas.

And now David Cameron has remembered that he is a sort of member of the Church of England, just in time for Christmas, and is suddenly keen to uphold Christian values. For other people of course, and in terms of vague, historical and cultural influence, rather than on a personal basis. Good, good. Right wing politicians have always been fond of promoting religious observance by the masses for the purpose of social control, haven't they? No need to observe the basic tenets of the faith themselves, or to involve one's individual conscience on matters of political policy making.

Here in Barnet, you know, we have senior council officers who like to claim, via the devil's network of social media, that they are doing God's work in the London Borough of Broken Barnet. Yes: really. Certainly there is need of an evangelical mission to reclaim the lost souls of our Tory councillors and the senior management team, but Mrs Angry is mindful of the fact that Old Nick Walkley is in charge of the London Borough of Broken Barnet and all its works, (public works, not policy), rather than the Almighty.

Some local authorities are becoming very keen to do the work of the Lord, too, or at least keen to appear keen to do the work of the Lord, if it persuades religious organisations to take over council functions and help with budget limitations.

You may remember the story from South Wales, featuring Camarthenshire County Council, an authority unofficially twinned with Broken Barnet, as we have so much in common. This local authority is dominated by 'independent' party groupings: as you might imagine, as in most former mining areas, Tory polititicians are still not awfully popular in South Wales, and councillors with conservative tendencies are required to hide their allegiances behind an alias.

CCCouncil was responsible earlier this year for calling police to a council meeting to arrest Jacqui Thompson, the blogger Caebrwyn, for the dreadful crime of sitting in the public gallery, quietly using her phone to film some of the proceedings. The Camarthenshire authority's obsessive secrecy and fear of scrutiny is very much of the same nature as our own home grown tyrants here in Broken Barnet, produced in different circumstances by the same primitive reaction of elected representatives who do not wish to be accountable to their electorate, and senior council officers who have forgotten that they are the servants of the community which pays their salaries.

One of the extraordinary recent decisions of Camarthenshire County Council has been, at a time of severe economic hardship, and oft quoted need for financial restraint, to award the loan of a huge sum of money, on very favourable terms, to a controversial evangelical Christian organisation, the Towy Community church. The council has also given warm approval to the church's planning application for a 500 hundred seat 'auditorium' which would seem likely to be used in effect as a church, with other unspecified amenities on the site. Read Y Cneifiwr's post here:

The reason this church is so controversial is that it has, until recently, included on its website a link to the 'Mercy Mission' organisation, a movement based on very extreme fundamentalist views, allegedly including the belief that demonic possession could make young women vulnerable to eating disorders and sexual 'promiscuity'( ie being sexually active, and sinfully, tut tut, enjoying themselves). Says Y Cneifiwr:

"At the recent council meeting which approved the latest funding package for the church, many councillors justified their support on the basis that it would enable Towy Community Church to offer services including a food bank, furniture recycling centre and debt counselling service (run on "Christian principles" of course). A brief glance at the church's website says that the food bank and debt counselling service are up and running and have apparently been operational for some time. The furniture recycling service, which one councillor claimed to have used personally, is not mentioned until you turn to the Xcel project itself where it is described in the future tense. All very confusing."

It seems that there are councillors on Camarthenshire County Council who are naturally disposed to Christian values being upheld in the context of council policy in action. According to Cneifiwr:

Two weeks ago Cllr Gwynne Wooldridge, whose portfolio includes education, stood up to tell councillors that in his view there was only one book that mattered: the Bible.

Good news, then. Sorry. Good News, then, for everyone - whether they like it or not.
Since I wrote the first draft of this post, Caebrwyn has written the following in regard to the Towy decision and the declaration of interests by councillors:

"Towy Community Church - Declarations of Interest

Just a brief post relating again to the decision made at the last full council meeting to 'fill' the latest gap in the funding for the Towy Community Church's 'bowling alley' project. The Minutes were published today and I note that two County Councillors, G Thomas and T Davies had declared an interest in this item as they were 'Christians'. Clearly they felt their religious beliefs possibly precluded them from making an impartial decision. I suppose the same could also be said for any atheists, agnostics etc amongst them all. Taken to the nth degree, there would be no one left in the Chamber. A couple of Executive Board Members professed their general faith including Gwynne Wooldridge stating that the most important book was the Bible, and Cllr Pat Jones claimed she saw her 'role' as carrying out 'God's work' in the community. Another became almost emotional as he mentioned how he had contacted the Towy Community Church to give them some furniture and had been hugged by an extremely grateful recipient. Officers also spoke in support of the project. As the 'financial' and 'faith' aspects of this partnership seem to have become blurred, one could almost reach the conclusion that the Council's involvement with the Towy Community Church was entirely inappropriate altogether, particularly given the intention of building a church and the link to the Mercy Ministries (removed last month).

In my opinion, for the Council to have been able to consider this matter in even a remotely impartial manner, and avoid any potential conflict of interest, there was only one correct option; Members and senior officers who belong to, or have faith in, any similarly styled Evangelical church or organisation, should have declared an interest well over a year ago."

The same local authority has suddenly decided, rather late in the day, that it might be necessary to consider whether it ought to have some sort of consideration for equalities issues:

"The County Council's Policy and Resources Scrutiny Committee will turn its attention in the New Year to its draft "Strategic Equality Plan" and consider the responses received after the completion of a consultation in 2011. This is needed to bring the council in line with the Equalities Act 2010, the aim of which is to prevent discrimination on the grounds of sex; race; sexual orientation; religion; age; disability; gender reassignment and pregnancy and maternity."

Hmm. Perhaps they might have thought about this issue when accepting a proposal of partnership from a religious body which has extreme views on these very matters. Evangelical Christians have very intolerant views on the subject of the role of women, homosexuality, sex out of marriage: will such an organisation be prepared to provide services without discrimination and without the imposition of their interpretation of Christian values on such services? If the future of local authorities is going to be pushed, Big Society style, in the direction of low cost partnership with willing voluntary bodies and religious organisations, how can we prevent the risk of intolerance and injustice for minority groups or others whose lifestyles or beliefs are not in accordance with those of the new service provider?

Equalities: oh dear. Sticky subject for conservative minded councillors everywhere.

Not so long ago, Mrs Angry was present at a council meeting where Councillor Brian Gordon, who is a member of the orthodox Jewish/charedi community, questioned an officer speaking to a committee about fostering issues as to whether children are being cared for by same sex couples, and he asked if the authority did not make sure such children had 'a mother and a father'. The embarrassed officer had to remind the councillor of the requirement to comply with statutory equalities legislation. Councillor Gordon did not ask if anyone ensured that the needs of these children were being addressed, that these children were well cared for, or happy: morality, in his view, would appear to be a matter of approving the sexual inclinations of prospective foster parents rather than protecting the well being of the children.

Not so long ago, Mrs Angry was present at another council meeting where Councillor Brian Coleman, who claims to be an 'active' Methodist, declared that he would prefer it if Barnet did not have to provide free transport for children with special needs, the disabled, and vulnerable adults, or 'these people' as he contemptuously described them. The senior officer from Social Services who was present kept quiet, and failed to remind Councillor Coleman of the need to comply with equalities legislation, and also failed to remind Councillor Coleman that free taxi transport and parking is provided for Tory councillors, and that his remarks are completely objectionable.

Mrs Angry is unsure of the way in which active Methodism and a belief in Christian values manifest themselves in the life of Brian Coleman. When constituent and single mother Sharada Osman contacted him recently, for example, with worries about an enormous increase in her rent, his reaction was not one of Christian compassion and offers of assistance, but to inform her abruptly that she should 'live in the real world'. As we know, in the real world, Councillor Coleman lives in accommodation owned by his local Methodist church, and enjoys a fixed rent level at approximately half the market rate. In the next world, of course, Mrs Angry suspects Brian's accommodation may be less well appointed, and rather warmer than he might have expected.

Every full council meeting in the London Borough of Broken Barnet is begun with an address by the Mayor's chaplain: all Tory councillors stand piously in the chamber with heads bowed, solemn faced, listening to the prayers and exhortations of the minister. What a shame that without fail they then turn away and resort to the same old behaviour - immersing themselves in petty squabbles, pointless point scoring against the opposition, refusing all opportunities for debate, obstructing the processes of transparency and scrutiny, and greedily awarding themselves over generous allowances without any open system of appraisal, or public record of attendance at meetings. A minority of senior members take all decisions in secret and bully the rest of their party into agreeing with their policies, backbench councillors being quite content to take their allowances and keep silent when they disagree with their own party's actions, and all of them are complicit in the shameless One Barnet plot to sell off every public service and every council owned asset worth flogging to the highest bidder - or the bidder which has the most influence.

In Barnet we have even incorporated moral judgement into that thing we are not allowed to mention in public gatherings, or to criticise: ssh ... yes: policy. Housing policy is now based on a system whereby families whose parents have shown 'a positive contribution' to the community will be fast tracked to the top of the list for council accommodation. The children of the undeserving poor, through no fault of their own, and with no consideration for their needs, will be punished for having feckless parents by being kicked to the bottom of the pile.

Michael Gove, with similar retro Victorian missionary zeal, wants to send out an army of bibles to the schools of the United Kingdom - not it would seem, reading about his proposals, so much to spread the dangerous radical message of Jesus Christ, which is frankly, Michael, not awfully compatible with your line of Conservatism, but for cultural reasons, the beauty of the language and the historical importance: typically again, a right wing politician using a religious pretext for a political rather than a spiritual purpose.

God is making a comeback in politics in Britain, but this second coming is really a blasphemous inversion of true religious morality: it is black magic, the dark arts: the use of ritual for personal gain.

Faith should be a private matter, a personal morality which might indirectly influence and support the integrity of public life, but should not be something that is imposed on other people.

As we begin the festive season of Christmas, and Chanukah, Mrs Angry would suggest that politicians of all parties, and all faiths, or none, whether in Westminster or the Town Hall, or even, God help us, and them, on the London Assembly, might like to look within the depths of their own dark souls and pledge to live a life that more actively reflects the private morality and the political ideals that they claim to hold so dear, not in a way which judges the actions of those they are supposed to represent, but so as to restore some sense of conscience and service to the community to the public roles with which they have been entrusted.

Mrs Angry, eternal optimist: urbi et orbi.


Mrs Angry has been reminded that Barnet has announced a grant of £50,000 to the Jesus House church as part of its 'Big Society Innovation Bank', to be shared with an organisation called 'Elevation Networks', in a project aimed at supporting young unemployed people.

Whatever the good intentions of the individuals involved in such enterprises, the question must be asked - will the support offered be extended unconditionally, to all eligible beneficiaries, of all backgrounds, without judgement or discrimination, or will it be offered within the context of an opportunity for missionary outreach work?

And oh dear: the Jesus House charity, in its core values, tells us not only that it receives direction and motivation from God (and now the London Borough of Broken Barnet), it is associated with the Evangelical Alliance, whose views on 'homoerotic sexual practice' (how much practice are you allowed before you have to take the exam?) are explained in a 12 point statement here:

let's pose that question again, then - is the money invested in the Innovation Bank - your money and mine -being used in a way that is fully compatible with equalities legislation?