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 !


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