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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Seal Hunting Anyone ?

It is the weekend before a Tuesday meeting of Barnet Council and any Councillor worth their salt will be spending time reading the Agenda papers for the meeting . Buried in the small print on page 74 of the Council Agenda in the list of vacancies for Local Authority appointed School Governors is Garden Suburb Infant and Juniors where their is a vacancy due to the "self disqualification" of Conservative Councillor Daniel Seal . Self Disqualification means that the individual has failed to attend any meetings of the School Governing Body or it's Committees in the previous six months :it is not a resignation ,it is a disqualification from office under the Education Act . Now most schools only have a termly meeting of their full Governing Body and Governors with busy lives can get themselves caught out if they miss two Governing Body meetings  on the trot but as Governors are usually expected to serve on a  Committee as well , perhaps Finance or Pupil welfare that sort of thing, it always possible to ensure that you have attended one meeting at the school in six months .

Indeed if you cannot attend any official meetings in six moths what on earth is the point of serving on a School Governing Body in these days when so many legal and other responsibilities rest with Governors ?

I have known some Councillors who to avoid the embarrassment of being disqualified from a  School Governing Body or indeed other public bodies to which Councillors are appointed and the six month rule applies, have resigned ahead of the inevitable disqualification .

However Councillor Daniel Seal as they say "has form" .

His attendance at meetings of the Council is erratic to put it mildly  . In 2013 he appeared at the Annual Meeting of the Council in May and then missed two meeting in a row and only appeared at full Council again in November . In the same month  he was absent at the meeting of the Pensions Committee of the Council , which he had lobbied hard to get appointed to .

Councillor Seal , Danny to his friends, of whom I am not one , first got elected to Barnet Council for Garden Suburb Ward in 2010 replacing the adorably beautiful but politically pointless Councillor Jazmin Naghar , who appeared in the pages of "Tatler" more often then she did the "Ham and High" . Councillor Naghar although active at election time was apparently virtually invisible in the Ward the rest of the time, relying on that old war horse Councillor John Marshall to do the Ward work particularly planning, which John enjoys. The selection of Danny Seal, backed by John Marshall was seen as opting for a young ,enthusiastic, ambitious  and clever new Councillor over others who applied for the safe Conservative seat but were seen as "the usual faces, hard working but not dynamic" .

The voters of Garden Suburb ward duly did their duty and sent the handsome Councillor Seal (If you like the sort of puppy dog eyes look ) to the Town Hall. Alarm bells however soon began to ring with many colleagues seeing Danny, whilst sharp, as "cocky" or as some less charitable old hands put it "arrogant, with nothing to be arrogant about". His enthusiastic support for his buddy Councillor Mark Shooter in the various Leadership battles of 2010/11 left many Chipping Barnet Conservative Councillors feeling distinctly cold towards him .

He is a young man keen to make his fortune in business , and there is of course nothing wrong with that, but the first lesson in Politics , whether local or national is that half the job is turning up. Cllr Seal's has treated his twitter  followers over the last few weeks to tweets from his Italian skiing holiday over Christmas and the New Year , his business trip to South Korea , the Executive Lounge at Gatwick, the BA Galleries lounge at Heathrow (the potatoes were cold apparently), Jersey Airport, and this weekend, when most Barnet Councillors were attending Holocaust Commemoration his followers, with impeccable timing , were treated to tweets from Munich , the spiritual home of Nazism !

Sadly lacking are many tweets from Hampstead Garden Suburb .

Councillor Richard Cornelius , the Leader of Barnet Council is telling anyone who will listen that Cllr Seal's attendance record is "a disgrace" and is apparently, so rumour has it, is lobbying Finchley and Golders Green Conservatives to deselect him. Richard is worried that should the May elections go badly for the Tories and they end up with a majority of one or two, Cllr Seal's absence will be a luxury the Conservative Group cannot afford . Cllr Richard Cornelius is of course as usual supported by his wife , Councillor Alison Cornelius who is distrustful of many of the Jewish Councillors whom she sees as a threat to her husband's leadership.

Meanwhile Councillor Andrew Harper , the third Garden Suburb Member is retiring from the Council having realised he will never be able to bore the Conservative Group into recognising his talents and electing him Leader . He is to be replaced by  another bright , young ambitious Jewish guy Gabriel Rozenberg , the son of the "voice of sensible middle England", Melanie Phillips and the distinguished legal journalist Joshua Rozenberg . Gabriel is considered a safer bet than Seal as he is married with a family and not likely to spend most of his time tweeting from Business class airport lounges .

Finally  Councillor Seal's tells us on twitter that in April he will be in New York . So who is going to knock on doors in Garden Suburb Ward ? Ah step forward Councillor John Marshall who as so often in Barnet Politics will be riding to the rescue !

Monday, September 23, 2013

Could it happen here ?


The dreadful events at the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi where gunmen from the al-Shabab group have murdered innocent shoppers including women and children in a random act of terrorism have inevitably caused questions to be asked if it could happen here in the UK ?

In the late Autumn of 2010 COBRA , which stands for Cabinet Office Briefing Room A, where it happens to meet , was called after specific intelligence had been received that there was a threat to attack British shopping centres  in the run up to Christmas . The intelligence apparently related to Shopping complexes such as Brent Cross, Lakeside , Meadowhall in Sheffield and  Trafford in Greater Manchester and those attending COBRA had the events in Mumbai a couple of years earlier at the forefront of their minds .

In a rare occurrence the Prime Minister lost his temper when he learnt that in any terrorist incident or indeed any incident involving an armed suspect, firefighters and para medics would stay outside the security cordon until the Police stated that the armed suspect had been dealt with . Even if a building was on fire or there were wounded members of the public needing treatment firefighters and para medics would stay outside the cordon not least due to the danger of being shot themselves by a gunman. The Prime Minister had visions of Sky News filming the scene and of firefighters and para medics sitting around and perceived by the viewing public to be taking no action .

Those who had not seen the Prime Minister lose his temper before realised that he meant business and  that the situation had to change and he had  successfully put a rocket up the Fire Service (and indeed the Ambulance Service).  Indeed one very senior official told me he did not want to be at the end of a "Cameron roasting" again !

Meetings were held with Fire Chiefs in several large cities (London , Birmingham, Manchester and others ) , the then Fire Minister ( Bob Neil ) called in the Fire Brigades Union , who for once put the National interest first and a small number of firefighters in our major cities (the majority in London )  were trained in how to operate wearing bullet proof protection and how to behave in the event of an armed incident . This issue has remained of deep interest to the Prime Minister, I recall him discussing it with firefighters when he visited Tottenham Fire Station in the aftermath of the 2011 Summer riots and I have no doubt that David Cameron's personal efforts on this have made the UK better prepared in the event of a Nairobi style attack.



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Barnet's Conservative Councillors

Ever wondered what the remaining 37 Conservative Councillors are really like ?

Well here is your short guide in no particular order

Councillor Brian Salinger (Oakleigh Ward) now 65 served since 1986 with four years on Haringey before that . Had an unpleasant skirmish with the Local Government Ombudsman ( before the Standards Committee was ever invented ) in the late 80s over a planning application . Has never recovered from losing the Council and Group Leadership after the 2006 local elections in a coup organised by the late great Lynne Hillan  and others (including me ) which has lead to a long "Ted Heath " like sulk . Whilst Leader was nicknamed by the Officers "Dr Stranglove " (remember Peter Sellers played all the parts ) after his Leadership was nicknamed "Napoleon" , because he had been a very short leader .
Still thinks he will be summoned back from the wilderness (voted against "One Barnet" in the Conservative Group) but was shocked this year when he was well beaten (by Cllr Melvin Cohen )  in the internal Conservative ballot to be Mayor this year. Yes there is a Conservative Councillor more unpopular than me .

Councillor Mrs Kate Salinger  (Coppetts Ward) Kate was elected against the odds in 2006 in what should be a safe Labour Ward mainly through her sheer hard work locally . The local Conservative Association thought she did not stand a chance but let her get on with it anyway. Since her defiance of the whip over Members allowances (seen as the worst betrayal by many colleagues)  the Conservative Leadership have done all in their power to ensure she loses her seat in 2014 , trying to close Friern Barnet Library , ensuring a nice big waste facility and depot on Pinkham Way. Made probably the most disastrous Maiden speech on the Council in recent times when she burst into song , something she is known for after a long evening. Her failed Standards Board complaint against her colleague Cllr Andreas Tambourides cost the taxpayer around £50,000 and ensured the enmity between the Tambourides and the Salingers continues. Not likely to survive 2014 despite the respect which many residents in her Ward have for her hard work . More right wing than her husband and more popular .

Councillor Mrs Wendy Prentice ( High Barnet Ward) Hard working former Mayor (and now Mayoress to Melvin Cohen ) on first name terms with many residents of her Ward particularly in Hadley where she has lived for decades and used to deal with her Ward work whilst walking her dog every morning. No push over and will fight when roused . Saw off the Lib Dems in High Barnet . Her finest hour was Chairing the Group meeting that saw the end of Brian Salinger's Leadership . Safe pair of hands as Chairman of Planning . Quite happy to shock people with her outrageous hair colour . Will top the poll in her ward in 2014 as everybody knows her and likes her . One of the few members of the Conservative Group who demonstrates any loyalty.

Councillor David Longstaff (High Barnet Ward) former Labour Party member and indeed Parish Councillor , bit part actor . Who can forget his role as a drunken elf in the Christmas edition of Casualty or was it Holby City , I forget.............His personal web site contains a video of his stand up act which is about as funny as his speeches in the Council Chamber . Then there was the episode of my favourite Drama "Lewis" where he played a Friar definitely not a monk !Was a Salinger protege but managed to get appointed to the Cabinet by distancing himself from them . Considered promoted too soon and a lightweight and seems to think that being in charge of "Community Safety" means when the Borough Police Commander says jump you reply how high ? Has no concept of holding the Police to account and did little to attempt to save the two Police Stations being closed in the Borough once he knew that High Barnet in his ward was safe. In charge of the latest misguided attempts at North Finchley regeneration under his leadership the scheme will no doubt go the way of all the rest over the years, which several people think is why Richard Cornelius ( who at heart is a free marketer) put him in charge of it . Upset the Jewish Community big time with a disgraceful anti Eruv performance at the Area Planning Committee that left many fellow Conservatives reeling. Unlikely to get many votes from Barnet Synagogue next year

Councillor Mrs Eva Greenspan (Church End Ward ) Long serving (1990) former Mayor , hugely popular in the Jewish Community and loves her Planning on which she works hard  . Has failed to convince various Conservative Leaders over the years to make her Chairman of the Planning Committee . Was a very generous Mayor but her farewell speech when she described herself as "the Peoples Mayors" did raise a few Conservative eye brows. Has a low boredom threshold and can rarely sit still during a Council meeting . Must have the highest mobile phone bill of anyone on the Council . Known for her elegance and exquisit dress sense . Forms part of the "Orthodox block vote" in the Conservative Group which Leaders upset at their peril .

Councillor Dan Thomas (Church End Ward) Young , ambitious , blond, good looking and intelligent , Deputy Leader of the Council. Protege of Mike Freer . Known for his frequent exotic holidays to keep his tan up . In 2010 considered jumping ship and was actually interviewed by Bexley Conservatives for a seat on Bexley Council as he was then virtually living and working there. Fought some God forsaken South Wales Parliamentary Constituency at the last General election and no doubt if a winnable Parliamentary seat came up he would grab it with both hands . In his early Cabinet days was not known for his hard work ( in 6 months as Cabinet Member for the Environment 2009/10 he failed to hold one "theme " meeting with his Senior Officers) however his work rate has improved . Ditched the Ferrari and the Porche with the personalised number plate in favour of the sensible Smart car . Paranoid about his receding hair line but a dab hand in the kitchen . His career in Barnet probably hinges on the success of "One Barnet" .  He will, I suspect  eventually become bored with Local Government and indeed Barnet.

Councillor Barry Evangelli  (East Barnet Ward) Protoege of Andreas Tambourides and to some extent Lynne Hillan . Made a good Deputy Mayor and, if he can hold East Barnet Ward will no doubt be Mayor sometime between 2014/18 . Seems to have stopped the attempts to hold back the years by dying his hair and is just about "out" these days as a "Silver fox" .In the battles in the Group always on the side of the Good Guys !

Councillor John Marshall (Garden Suburb Ward) now 73 but this old war horse just keeps on going . Has held every office known to man , Mayor , MP, MEP , Councillor , as somebody once said to me "good thing we don't have Parish Councils or else he would stand for that as well !"
A brilliant campaigner and frankly works twice as hard as most Councillors half his age. Everybody, south of the North Circular is on first name terms with John although many of them stabbed him in the back in the 1997 General Election a fact I suspect he found hard to come to terms with. Has ensured the Lib Dems are now an irrelevance in Garden Suburb ward and will easily top the poll in 2014 . Always at the heart of  whatever conspiracy is going on in the Conservative Group in recent years has consistently backed the wrong candidates in Leadership elections .He ran the disastrous Leadership campaign for his ward colleague Cllr Andrew Harper in 2011 and was perceived as a Salinger supporter. Known for a bit of name dropping "As Betty Boothroyd once said to me" .......His well deserved knighthood does not look like it is coming.

Councillor Andrew Strongolou (Underhill Ward) Drafted in at the last moment in 2010 to replace Fiona Bulmer in Underhill Ward who had quit in a huff because she did not win the Tory Leadership. Managed to get elected mainly because sitting Conservative Councillor Daniel Webb found it difficult to hide his contempt for many Underhill residents . Has never really taken to the Council and is totally semi detached. Not standing in 2014 . Managed to get done for drink driving ( three times over the limit I believe ) at Hammersmith Magistrates  soon after being elected to the Council which the Tory Leadership successfully hushed up , local journalists did not even notice. Looking increasingly bizarre these days and has resisted calls to get his hair cut . Struggled for work but is probably the only Councillor on Barnet to have appeared in a Stephen Spielberg film (eat your heart out Longstaff) .

Councillor Rowan Turner (as most of us still call him ) (Underhill Ward) elected in 2010 in this highly marginal Ward . A very intelligent young , church going decent guy and suitably right wing . Decided to add his wife's surname to his when he got married (against advise) which makes him sound like a snob or a poof or even worst a feminist , he is none of these . If he survives in 2014 is no doubt destined for high office in the current Administration of "Boys" . Impeccable manners unusual for someone his age, and has been shocked by the rudeness of some residents and bloggers.

Councillor Graham Old (Church End Ward ) Another nice guy who has been around politically a long time . Served on Merton Council with Theresa May but best known for losing in Hale Ward in 1994 which handed Barnet to the Lib/ Lab coalition . Nicknamed by one senior Barnet Tory as the "Councillor for Narnia " because he is so far back in the closet . Hates the infighting since he came on in 2010 but is no Brian Salinger fan . Nice , certainly not stupid , hardworking but sadly a bit wet .

Councillor Danny Seal ( Garden Suburb Ward ) Won the highly coveted Conservative nomination in Garden Suburb Ward in 2010 . An early associate of Councillor Mark Shooter to whom he attached his waggon but when Shooter's star burst rather lost interest in the Council. Spends a lot of time in Israel where he apparently has business interests and is rarely seen at the Town Hall . Missed the last two Council meetings and has not attended a full Council meeting since the Annual meeting in May. Always thought that Mike Freer was God . Rumour is John Marshall carries him in the Ward and detailed ward work is not his forte . I suspect more interested in making his first million than chairing a Scrutiny Committee ( and who can blame him ) . Cornelius will not touch him with a barge pole. Seal may well not feature on the ballot paper in 2014 . Cocky and thought he knew it all when elected considered a worthy successor to former Councillor Daniel Webb .

Councillor Robert Rams (East Barnet Ward ) elected in 2006 and a key member of the Administration of "the Boys" . Rumours are not standing in 2014 as has had quite enough of the mindless abuse over Friern Barnet Library, where the Conservative Group were happy to pile all the crap on him  . Is fairly recently married and his  wife does not enjoy the nitty gritty , not to mention time commitment of local politics ( not unusual in the Tory Group where the wives either cannot stand the Council  or get themselves elected to it). Works as Head of Office for the Conservative GLA Group where his career seems to have stalled (it is a very comfortable job with all the local Government perks) and used to be Chief of Staff to Nigel Evans MP . Was step brother to the late Amy Winehouse but has none of her unfortunate habits, nor for that matter her artistic talent. An operator behind the scenes ( locally and wider afield) was a key supporter of Lynne Hillan and enemy of Salinger . Possesses  that key characteristic of Barnet Conservative Councillors ,  very little loyalty.

Councillor Darrel Yawitch (Edgware Ward) Elected to the Council in a by election in 2009. Soon became apparent he had one key issue which was to secure VA status and new buildings for Beit Shvidler School in Edgware and that achieved rather lost interest . Not standing in 2014 and I am not sure anyone will notice . Firmly part of the orthodox block .

Councillor Joan Scannell (Edgware Ward ) Wily Old Bird first elected in 1994 and before that was a Council Officer serving as PA to the Director of Social Services amongst other things. Long time Secretary of the Conservative Group and knows where some of the bodies are buried. Stickler for the rules. Distrusted by Cornelius and actively disliked by "the boys" who see her as part of the Old Guard that has consistently hated the Cabinet system . Was an excellent Mayor . Is a survivor and I suspect will still be there long after "the boys " have all grown up and moved on  .

Councillor Bridget Perry (High Barnet Ward) failed in her initial attempt to get elected at the 2005 High Barnet by election but successfully fought off a Liberal challenge in 2006 . Enjoying being Deputy Mayor having been shafted last year by Kate Salinger. Hard working Ward member genuinely popular in High Barnet with a history of voluntary work with the girl guides. Brighter than she looks and underestimate her at your peril. A rarity in Barnet Conservative Politics in not being interested in high office and having a sense of loyalty, consequently looked down on and patronised by "the boys" .

Councillor Melvin Cohen (Golders Green Ward) Serving as Mayor for the second time and finds it very difficult to hide his love of the job.  Sadly second time around is never as enjoyable as the first. Father of the Conservative Group ( and indeed Father of Councillor Dean Cohen ) having first been elected in 1982. Very rarely expresses an opinion ( I could not tell you if he is on the left or the right of the Conservative Party ) but that is probably how he has survived so long . An acknowledged expert on Planning. Roused to anger when he was challenged in 2011 by Kate Salinger for the Vice Chairmanship of the Conservative Group when he made the speech of life to see her off. Does not always vote with the Orthodox "block vote" . Has now been with his (male) partner for 25 years but decided Wendy Prentice would make a better Mayoress Melvin no one would have raised an eyebrow ....................

Councillor Hugh Rayner (Hale Ward ) former RAF Squadron Leader elected in 2006 . Solid , dependable, reliable but somewhat naïve, he is considered a safe pair of hands  . A good Deputy Mayor ( to me ) but would not put his name in to be Mayor in 2011 as he wanted it in Olympic year , when he did so in 2012 he was surprisingly beaten by newcomer Brian Schama supposedly because Rayner as Chairman of Hendon Association had upset many of the Hendon Constituency Councillors . Was very hurt by that experience . Had a difficult relationship with Matthew Offord MP but rumours that Rayner was busy ringing round North London Conservatives seeking advise on how to deselect his MP seem to have come to nothing . A bit of a fence sitter will become Mayor in due course unless Hale Ward reverts to its former marginal status.

Councillor Tom Davey (HaleWard) elected on my coat tails in a by election on London Election Day in 2008 , he is the ultimate member of the Administration of the " Boys" . Educated at QE Boys he is clever , ambitious and his saving grace, wonderfully right wing and does not suffer fools gladly . Not for him any namby pamby "consensus" and I cannot see him agreeing to the Socialist concept of a "London living wage". Will go far unless he becomes bored or decides his business career comes first. Like all the boys does not quite manage to hide his disdain for the old timers. One of the few Councillors who can make a decent speech and enjoys winding up the whingers and moaners .

Councillor Stephen Sowerby (Oakleigh Ward) Elected in 2010 Oakleigh Ward was his reward for failing to get elected in High Barnet Ward in 2006 where despite working his socks off , a pesky Liberal Democrat hung on . Sadly has been a complete non event on the Council and serves as a "Committee place filler" . Did distinguish himself on Area Planning this year where he very effectively demolished  Cllr Longstaff's opposition  to the Barnet Eruv . Engaged to a very nice girl he met on the Internet . Cornelius considers him not the sharpest knife in the box and Stephen can look forward to a long career on the backbenches filling Committee places and pursuing his interest in military history.

Councillor Lisa Rutter ( Brunswick Park Ward) elected in 2006 when she was a loyal supporter of the coup against Salinger . Probably the most regal of recent Mayors , she always looks a million dollars despite being no spring chicken and wore more "bling " than I have ever been seen with. Was excellent during the 2011 August riots touring the Borough and dispensing reassurance but sadly it was all down hill from there with her Mayoralty eventually becoming a parody of itself. Sadly finds it hard to accept that that year was the pinnacle of her Council career and she is now on the scrap heap of ex Mayors . Her very pleasant husband Mark was her Escort and I believe there is no truth in the rumour that even he had to call her " Madam Mayor" . However the rumour that he wishes to add to the already incestuous nature of the Barnet Conservative Group be being elected a Councillor in 2014 seems to have more validity. Cornelius considers her a joke and has not forgotten the stroke he nearly had when he discovered the Civic visit to Barnet of "fun loving" Mr Michael Barrymore.

Councillor Sury Khatri (Mill Hill Ward) Elected in 2010 when 16 years of Liberal dominance in Mill Hill ended. Heavy smoker who dislikes virtually every aspect of Conservative Group policy . Made a speech once in the Conservative Group in which he attacked privatisation , parking policy , One Barnet , Library closures , cuts etc and which colleagues thought was a resignation  speech but still he hangs on . Quite happy to tell anyone who asks that "One Barnet" is crazy (as he did at the Audit Committee a couple of months ago ) . Many Tory Councillors think he is barking and wonder if he will sign up to the 2014 Manifesto . Will cause problems if the Tory Administration is reelected next year with a slim majority. The Tory Councillor most likely to defect to Labour .

Councillor Andrew Harper (Garden Suburb Ward) Rather innocuous gentleman Councillor who having won a 2005 by election got the taste for the rough and tumble of Barnet Politics . A competent administrator rather than a Politician , Council Officers liked him, always a bad sign  . Having become Deputy Leader to Lynne Hillan he thought he was a natural shoe in when she retired ill but the Conservative Group thought otherwise particularly after a disastrous speech at the 2011 Annual Council Meeting when even neutral observers thought he sounded desperate for the job and could not wait for her to retire.
Came an embarrassing third in the subsequent Leadership election and promptly resigned as Deputy Leader and realised Politics was not the game for him . Retiring in 2014 to spend more time with his music .

Councillor John Hart ( Mill Hill Ward) re elected to the Council in 2006 after being ousted by the Liberals in 1994. Is now at 82 enjoying an unexpected Indian Summer of a Political career. A genuine character , popular in Mill Hill ( although surprisingly let down his residents over Saracens ) with a personal vote and reminiscent of Councillors as they used to be . Does not do Political correctness and had one serious run in with the Standards regime . Only Councillor to use the word "Fuck" in the Council Chamber and frankly does not give one either. Out of sympathy with the current Administration ( privately thinks One Barnet is "total crap" ) .Cornelius physically winces every time John gets up to speak and most of "the Boys" wish he would go away as they find him embarrassing . Would make an ideal Chairman for the Allotments Committee , a position that would make him very happy indeed . Will no doubt still be a Councillor when they carry him out in a box for his Green burial .

Councillor Helena Hart (Edgware Ward) Huge admirer (some would say clone) of the beloved Margaret Thatcher she has become the acknowledged expert on Health . Loyal to Mike Freer he brought her into the Cabinet in 2006 as a reward for her support against Salinger in the coup and because the Group was short of competent women . Would have made a good MP but her heyday in the mid nineties was the time of the Conservative Party's lowest fortune. Hates rows and usually tries to keep a low profile ( less generous colleagues suggest she has a lot of splinters in her nether regions from sitting on too many fences ) Loyal to Lynne Hillan to the end she would make an excellent Mayor but has turned the job down several times

Councillor Anthony Finn (Hendon Ward) No Jewish wedding , Bar mitzvah or other event in the Orthodox Community is complete without the attendance of the jovial figure of Anthony Finn as his waistline will testify . First elected in 1990 , Tony is a survivor despite an early run in with former Leader Roy Schultz who accused him , Eva Greenspan and another former Councillor of only being interested in Orthodox issues . Has always been the "shop steward" of the Orthodox block . In Group elections will openly tell anyone and everyone who canvasses him that he will vote for them . Deputy Leader for a long period under Victor Lyon he managed to fight off a couple of challenges from Salinger who implied that he was lazy but finally fell to Salinger's sworn enemy former Councillor Kanti Patel . Not a supporter of Lynne Hillan but was very annoyed when Mike Freer dumped him from the Cabinet having had enough of his laid back attitude (which hides a calculating mind) . Despite being reticent about doing it turned into an excellent hard working Mayor . Has lasted as Chief Whip for 2 years which is longer than most of his predecessors. Cornelius is wary of him but needs his support as he has few Jewish friends in the Group.

Councillor Maureen Braun (Hendon Ward ) Elected in 1998 having previously served 4 years on Camden Council where famously she had a bag of soot thrown over her during a Poll Tax setting debate, now that was proper Politics ! . Loyal to Lynne Hillan and implacable supporter during the Salinger coup had a long term rivalry with Eva Greenspan over the Mayoralty and positions on planning . Has become the target of accusations from the "boys " that she rests her eyes at meetings.

Councillor Dean Cohen (Golders Green Ward) Son of Councillor Melvin Cohen and brother of prominent Jewish journalist Justin , Dean married a couple years ago and already has two children or it may be three by the time you finish reading  this . No truth in the rumour he is planning to out do Councillor Brian Gordon who has nine children and an increasing number of grandchildren . Loved in Golders Green as the natural successor to the saintly late Councillor Aba Dunner and therefore ends up with the vast majority of the Ward work to the relief of his Father. Sadly not above a bit of back stabbing and pretending that things that have gone wrong were nothing to do with him ( hiring of parks , remember Dean ?) and does not give the impression of being on top of the huge Environment Portfolio. In his early days on the Council was once shouted at by Nick Walkely (unlike him to be unprofessional ) leaving Dean with  a fear of Officers. Likely to be around for years until his son is old enough to join him on the Council . About to preside over the forthcoming bins fiasco that will make parking look like a side show .These days always looks exhausted ,I suspect it is not the children or the business but the bloody parking !

Councillor Reuben Thompstone (Golders Green Ward) Nice Guy New Zealand born , teacher. Having replaced Andrew Harper at Education clearly finding his feet and another boy promoted slightly too early but apparently Cornelius was under pressure from some colleagues  not to appoint his wife to replace Harper.  Been around politically in Finchley a few years and not considered a high flyer but solid and reliable . Recently married a nice girl from Nigeria he met on the Internet. Local Politics means you simply don't have time to meet people in other ways.

Councillor Mark Shooter (Hendon Ward) Arrived with a bang in 2010 and within three months was challenging Lynne Hillan for the Group Leadership . Wealthy , Good looking , charming and intelligent his ill advised Leadership challenge left him a marked man and although in 2011 ran a far better Leadership campaign following Hillan's retirement was never going to get the support of Chipping Barnet Councillors . Cornelius is deeply suspicious of him and will not give him any significant office , Mrs Cornelius, not known for her closeness to the Jewish Community is even more suspicious and appears apparently not to have forgotten  a row over the Kosher catering at a David Cameron dinner , "They are eating OUR rolls " she was heard to exclaim. Although easily bored and unable to suffer fools he appears to be biding his time . Is the obvious Conservative Group Leader if Cornelius loses the election in 2014 if he is prepared to put in the commitment. Voted against "One Barnet" in the Conservative Group. Will stay a Councillor to maintain his profile in the Orthodox Community

Councillor Brian Schama (Mill Hill Ward) Elected in 2010 but you would have thought by the way he behaved in the weeks after the election he had been on the Council for 20 years . Had an opinion on everything . Wrote a simply dreadful letter to the already ill  Lynne Hillan at the height of the August 2010 leadership contest which he then e mailed to all Tory Councillors . Stood against Wendy Prentice for the Group Chairmanship as part of that coup attempt and lost by one vote.Die hard Hillan loyalists have never forgiven him . His attempt at the Mayoralty after 2 years on the Council was not taken seriously until he beat Councillor Rayner who was the establishment candidate. Was not a bad Mayor in the Community but hopeless in the Chair , quite killed the budget debate. Fell out big time with Matthew Offord MP with whom he is barely on speaking terms. At 73 his Mayoralty is the highlight of his Council career and anyway Cornelius does not trust him or particularly like him , the rumours were that having been a glorious Mayor he would challenge Cornelius for Leader , however this backfired as he won no friends in the Tory Group by his behaviour in the Chair at Council meetings .

Councillor Sach Rajput (Oakleigh Ward) hugely ambitious , criminal barrister whose speeches in the Council Chamber often lead you to believe he is addressing the Judge and Jury . Intelligent and competent he has stood for Parliament (in Brent Central ) and is clearly using Barnet Council as a stepping stone to a safe seat or a High Court Judgeship  In his younger and slimmer days was known as a "Ladies man" but is now happily married with twins . An active Freemason, always seems to end up on the winning side and has risen without trace , to coin a phrase . Firmly part of "the boys" Administration . Will not let the matter of loyalty get in the way of a stellar career.

Councillor Andreas Tambourides (Brunswick Park Ward) Long serving and hard working . Has educated the Conservative Group and indeed Party on the issue of the rape of his beloved Cyprus by Turkey and highly regarded in the Cypriot Community especially by women of a certain age who remember his fabulous bass tones from his days on London Greek Radio . Did not fall into the trap of some ethnic minority Councillors of becoming too identified with just one Community. Devoted to his friend Lynne Hillan whose illness and death hit him very hard . Was an excellent Mayor but unfortunate that it coincided with Salinger's brief reign as Leader . No love lost between those two and Salinger and him have not spoken in years , for that matter neither have Salinger and I . Sadly his glory days seem behind him and is widely blamed for the fiasco that was the Brunswick Park by election last year and the unfortunate choice of Conservative candidate but the Conservative Group enjoy picking scapegoats. Strong supporter of Cornelius whom he sees as Lynne's anointed successor and a bastion against any return by Salinger , not a view I share .

Councillor Joanna Tambourides (East Barnet Ward) Very organised hard working wife of the above . Selected in 2007 when the Conservative Party were desperate for a candidate following the death of the much loved Olwen Evans ( whose memorable speech delived the coup de grace to Salinger during the 2006 coup) . However her promotion to the Cabinet by Lynne Hillan as a favour to her friend Andreas and because of the shortage of competent women was a step too far. Has struggled to grasp the portfolio as Planning Committee Chairmen  will tell you , cannot think on her feet , struggles in Council with Robert Rams often whispering answers to supplementary questions to her . Genuinely nice woman who was an excellent Mayoress but clearly not enjoying her current role . However Cornelius desperately needs the Tambo's loyalty and votes .

Councillor Brian Gordon (Hale Ward) Elected in 1998 in Hale Ward as the only Conservative with two Labour , a result repeated in 2002. Big personal vote and highly regarded in the Jewish Community . Outspoken right winger with principles who says what he thinks and although not everybody's cup of tea is straightforward if sometimes a little naïve and what you see is what you get . Distrusted by a succession of Conservative Leaders, not least for his traditional orthodox Jewish views  is not prepared to compromise his principles for Office . Loyal  and not interested in taking part in conspiracies . An integral part of the Orthodox block. Rumour is he is switching wards to Edgware in 2014 ( which is where he lives) , Contrary to what some think has no prejudices and treats people as he finds them .

Councillor Alison Cornelius (Totteridge Ward ) elected in a by election in 2009 when the Ward was desperate and could not find another candidate . Has taken the post of "Leader's wife" to a whole new level .well beyond the traditional one of organising the sausage rolls although she can be relied on to do the catering .Collects Committee appointments and jobs like other people collect Tesco Clubcard points . Has turned the Health Scrutiny Committee into a car parking sub Committee and became the object of ridicule when officials at  Barnet General  discovered her counting cars and examining car parking passes accompanied by an embarrassed Councillor Graham Old . Not known for her empathy with the Jewish Community she sensibly kept quiet during the debate on the Totteridge Eruv and usually is away or busy when invitations arrive from Synagogues. Her opposition to the initial planning application for the Etz Chaim School in Mill Hill lead to her swift substitution for subsequent meetings discussing that application. Not possible to have a short conversation with her it is just easier to say yes and save the phone bill cost .  Her husband long ago opted for the easier option of agreeing with his wife . Has turned the Conservative Party in Totteridge almost into a family business.

Councillor Richard Cornelius (Totteridge Ward) Elected in 2006 took to the Council like a duck to water. Ended up as Leader after Lynne Hillan's retirement in 2011 as the Chipping Barnet candidate and having amassed the least number of enemies. If he loses the election in  2014 he will be immediately dumped and may well in any case face the "Salinger" treatment once the election is out of the way . Instincts are right wing and anti Officer but as Leader has increasingly fallen under Officer influence . Some of his senior Officer appointments are considered bizarre and just preparing the way for a change in Council control next year .Originally highly sceptical of the whole One Barnet concept he lost his temper in an explosion that could be heard from his French holiday home when he found out about the "Joint venture" proposal in August 2012 and yet within weeks was persuaded. Is increasingly seen as a delay and dither man and entirely ineffective  and his U turns are becoming a weekly occurrence . Has no public recognition factor in the Borough and he ( and more so his wife ) is jealous of those local  Politicians who have .Has failed to build rapport with the Finchley and Golders Green and Hendon  Conservative Associations and thinks he can survive with the votes of Chipping Barnet Councillors . Will no doubt go down in Borough history for signing the One Barnet contracts ( on whose advise did he have his photo taken signing them ?) and will no doubt not be around when a future Conservative or Labour Administration has to unpick the mess as in so many other Local Authorities . He is however no fool and provides the charm and likability in the Cornelius partnership.