10 August 2011

Stop Press - Walkley's warblings

Mr Mustard just loves these weekly messages. They are so banal and full of spin. They are nothing like what one would expect to see from someone earning over £200,000 p.a. For that Mr Mustard expects real motivation, leadership, sparkle, BT vision, wit, inspiration, realism and lots of other things that we don't see.

Mr Mustard has replenished the red ink and splashed some into the warblings.

Some good news this week - we have secured £416,000 from the Mayor’s Outer London Fund for improvements to Chipping Barnet Town Centre.  The proposal is for a whole series of quick improvements of everything from removing clutter on the streets through to working on better marketing of the town centres. Oh dear I forgot to give any credit to the Barnet Traders Association & all the Residents' Associations who in their words "worked their socks off for weeks on end on this bid" and who produced a succinct report which the council then made much wordier. If you want to see the list of improvements then take a look at the Barnet Society website.

Whilst the money is great it is only a drop in the ocean.  Small town centres are a real feature of life in Barnet and we know how important they are to many of our residents.  However, if you travel around them you will know that some are struggling a bit. Whilst we might not have the level of vacancies of other parts of London, it’s clear all is often not well. Of course £400k seems like a drop in the ocean to someone on a £250k package. Barnet Council should have invested more in town centres in recent years but spent all the money on One Barnet consultants. Oh, and we have increased the almost impossible to pay parking charges to make it too expensive & difficult to visit the town centres and parking at Brent X is free. Go figure.

I’d be keen to hear from staff by e-mail on their views on what more the council could be doing to improve local town centres and I will report back on your ideas. Quick someone, give me an idea, I have run out?

Welcome this week to Mick Stokes who joins us as the Assistant Director of Commercial Assurance.  Mick has specific responsibility for corporate procurement and I’m sure you all know how critical this role is at this time. Welcome Mr Stokes the fastest joiner into the blog ever. You are either very good & very brave or you are mad to try and sort out procurement in Barnet Council - it is a disaster, the biggest poisoned chalice imaginable and you need to watch out for the ceremonial sword if things don't go well. Hopefully that also means we have one less consultant ( Chris Malyon - CCMPS Ltd ) but he probably got a sideways transfer onto a One Barnet project - lots of jobs for One Barnet old boys.

Finally, you will have seen the coverage in the press of IT functions.  I am not going to respond in detail here but we will publish the latest version of the action plan on the intranet next week to indicate the significant progress made in the past three months.  I want to thank those staff in IS and our partners who have contributed to delivering the action plan and tackling the issues it raised. Good of you non-stick to tell your staff about yet another cock-up. One of Mr Mustard's moles didn't know about this and now the whole department does, doh! What the April 11 final version of the action plan is already out of date? Has inAction Man joined the council? Mr Mustard will get a copy for you dear reader.


Well there you are readers. Only a week until another email arrives.

Oh and if you have ideas for improving town centres, investment not required, then please send them to Nicholas.Walkley@Barnet.gov.uk

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


  1. Don't alert them to free parking at Brent Cross, everybody will want to park there and the Council will find a way of making Hammersons charge the public !

  2. Sorry Martin. Mr Mustard actually prefers Welwyn Garden City, not as many shops but nice & green, evening parking outside John Lewis is free and you can even park for 1 hour free in the day - how sensible but then it's not in Barnet is it ? If you walk about 500m you can park for free all day long.

  3. I suppose it depends where you live but at BX you can park all day free, including outside John Lewis.

    Had to go to Haslemere (Surrey) recently. Council car park gives you two hours parking for 50p !

  4. Mr Mustard's frugal advice, provided you have time in advance, is to look up the Council website for where you are going, find the nearest CPZ zone edge and walk in ( provided you don't have heavy stuff to carry but even those lightweight collapsible 2 wheeled sack barrows from Costco are inexpensive and fold
    up neatly ) or go by motorbike which Mr Mustard does for the occasional meetings he has at a livery hall in Smithfield.

    Frugal is good if not taken to extremes, now where is that T-bag I used this morning - I need a cuppa

  5. I believe a condition of the Brent Cross planning permission is to charge for parking, with CPZs everywhere around as well.

  6. Well so far there has been no charge for parking there. I know some places nearby outside of the CPZ, but then I presume so does everybody else !


I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.