6 May 2013

A moment of Madness

The Madness of the King of Bling

tarnished bling

From Brian's low rent flat (fancy thinking in Court that the whole world didn't know where he lives, you only have to follow the gritting lorry as it leaves the depot) to the cashpoint at HSBC in Finchley High Road is a mere 0.8 miles which one can walk, per google, in 16 minutes or cycle it in half of that. Why oh why did Brian feel the need to take the car that fateful day in September 2012 when he needed some cash for his handyman. Mr Mustard frequently walks from the junction between Etchingham Park Rd and Ballards Lane back to Cafe Buzz as it saves his pennies, being outside the CPZ, and gives him much needed exercise. It is probably how he got falsely accused of stalking councillors although the blogger bus having his name on the side makes it a bit obvious! Incidentally google streetmap was updated on the day the Olympic torch came through, there are cones everywhere.


First some history for non-Barnet Residents. In the spring of 2011 Brian Coleman was the Cabinet Member with responsibility for parking. Although he loves driving, badly it seems as he is always picking up points, 

(and we are all guilty of that occasionally. Mr Mustard took his road legal race track Aprilia Tuono V4 to Uxbridge as that gave him free parking in the residents' bays and he looked away from the road for a few seconds and when he looked back a car had stopped a bike length in front of him. Emergency application of the front brakes saw the front tyre bite into the road suface, thankfully better in the LB of Hillingdon than in the LB of Barnet, and the rear wheel lift of the ground! This is a trick known as a stoppie for those who don't ride. Don't try this at home. It puts your heart into your mouth. A collision was averted which is just as well as the bike cost as much as a medium sized car and would have probably been a write-off)

he wasn't averse to punishing the motorist with a massive hike in charges. The charge for parking all day on street was increased from £4 to £7 i.e. by 75% (no-one at the council knows anything about elasticity of demand) and visitor vouchers, which are meant to be concessionary, from £1 to £4 for a day, an increase of 300%. At the same time the price for a resident to park their first car within the CPZ was increased from £40 p.a. to £100 p.a. an increase of 150%. These changes are the subject of a Judicial Review which is expected to come before the High Court on or about 2 July (Mr Mustard is taking all of his annual holidays in Court this year). These changes were the first event to catapult Mr Mustard into blogging.

Although Brian was the lead councillor for parking, there is collective irresponsibility in the Cabinet who met on 14 February 2011 (The Valentines Day Massacre of motorists and businesses?) and agreed to the increases having plainly failed to apply any restraint to their over enthusiastic colleague. The entire Cabinet should be ashamed of their failure to act which has contributed to the enormous financial pressures piled onto the businesses of our High Streets and should have prevented Brian from pursuing an obviously bonkers policy. I doubt they had all read every line of the Cabinet papers as surely otherwise they would have moderated the worse excesses?

Then during the summer of 2011 Brian signed a Delegated Powers Report to remove all the parking meters in the whole of Barnet, approx 450 parking meters which each cost £4,000 to buy and install, hence about £1.8m worth and turned it into scrap for which less than £10,000 was recovered. Brian did have the power to sign the DPR as technically in the relevant legislation this was a minor amendment although it had major consequences. When the legislation was enacted pay-by-phone probably didn't exist.

Parking meters were removed in late 2011 and early 2012 and this left motorists without both a mobile phone and a credit or debit card at a huge disadvantage. Trade for businesses plummeted by 30% and has not been recovered.

Slowly, card only parking meters are being reintroduced but they do not fix the problem for the unbanked.

What history could have been like.

What could have happened that fateful day in September 2012 when Helen Michael of Cafe Buzz was tipped off by an observant friend that Brian Coleman had naughtily stopped his car in a loading bay in order to use the cashpoint.

Brian could have laughed, given Helen a wave, got back into his car with Tom and driven carefully away.

Helen is one of the team when it comes to bloggers and she would have given the footage to bloggers. It would have appeared on various blogs and for a day or two Brian would have been the centre of attention. Brian could have agreed to pay the equivalent of a Penalty Charge to the Lord Mayor's charity. Given his record for outrageous statements and behaviour the matter would have been just a small extra blot on his copybook.

Brian would then have had less of the Barnet blogosphere rowed up against him (red, blue, green, yellow supporters all got together and the ABC campaign, Anyone But Coleman, gathered momentum) and might not have lost his seat on the London Assembly. That would have allowed him to remain on the Fire Authority and there would have been no need for him to stand down as Chairman of the Budget & Performance Overview & Scrutiny Committee or lose his place on the NLWA. 

Mr Mustard went to the last meeting which he chaired, having asked Richard Cornelius why Brian was still being allowed to chair it after his arrest (rules of the council's due process apparently, the full council had to remove him as chair, although Mr Mustard thinks Richard was too frit to do anything) and one thing he will say for Brian is that he had clearly read all of the papers, knew what was in them and stood no nonsense from committee members although he was a horrible bully to members of the public.


So if Brian had walked away and paid £110 to charity he might not have lost about £110,000 off his annual income and would not now have a criminal offence on his record, look, it is already on Wikipedia.

It is reported in the Telegraph that Brian was hated by a section of the Barnet community, a large cross section Mr Mustard would hazard, however Mr Mustard reckons that Brian's biggest enemy is, himself.

The Future

Mr Mustard would expect any other person to do the honourable thing now and resign and leave public service (oh how we laughed when that old chestnut was advanced in Court, how Brian has dedicated himself) do some charity work (helping victims of crime perhaps?) and get a proper job and sink out of public sight.

As this is Brian we are talking about the future won't be that predictable.

Will bloggers still be writing about Brian in May 2014? Come back then and find out.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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