A confession. I suffer from tourettes syndrome. It doesn't affect me all of the time, so you won't catch me doing Fr Jack (of Father Ted fame) impersonations during mass. It only affects me when I go to meetings to discuss local issues, stuffed full of local politicians. As they drag on I always get overcome with the need to yell obscenities at them, as they spout ever more ridiculous answers to perfectly reasonable questions.

On Thursday, I decided to take myself down to Copthall School for the Hendon Residents forum meeting. These sessions give local residents an opportunity to raise issues with the council. Questions are submitted in advance and then each point is supposed to be debated. The chairman for the session was Hale Councillor Brian Gordon and Vice chair was Mill Hill Councillor John Hart. Confirming my suspicion that Barnet Council couldn't organise a booze up in a brewery, from the very first question one thing became apparent. The acoustics of the room were so awful that hardly a word was audible. As a sound engineer I advised St Vincents school on a similar problem a couple of years ago. These things are quite easy to rectify. When booking any hall for any sort of event, my first question is always - what are the acoustics like and is it fit for purpose. It seems that is beyond the power of our local authority. I actually think it is disgraceful that the school have to use such a substandard facility, when a small investment could completely fix the problem.

Anyway enough of that. The first three item were about the CPZ in Burnt Oak. Labour Councillor Charlie O-Macauley made some fine points (well I assume he did, couldn't actually hear him but Brian Gordon seemed to agree).

The fourth item was regarding the poor condition of the toilets in Hendon Park. It was raised by Jason Ezekiel who runs the cafe in the park. Now Mr Ezekiel looked to me like a perfectly normal person as did the lady accompanying him. As he was standing behind me I could actually hear him, which helped. He read a rather disturbing letter which the council had sent him. In response to his question to the council complaining about the bad state of the toilets, the council stated that "The toilets were not designed for use by the staff of the cafe". What on earth does this mean? Now without wanting to appear like a sexual pervert, I snuck a quick look at Mr Ezekiel's posterior and that of his companion. They certainly looked perfectly normal to me. I wondered what possible criteria he uses to employ staff that requires different toilet facilities to the rest of the population of Hendon. If anyone at the council could tell me I'd love to know. I cannot believe that 2 or three people working in a cafe would overload the system, so what on earth does the council's comment mean? It seems all Mr Ezekiel wants is for the council to use a special floor paint so the toilets are easy to clean and don't stink to high heaven. If the council think that the rest of Hendon love the pong of urine when they use the convenience, they are sadly mistaken.

Next up were three questions from our good friend, David Miller, of www.barnetcouncilwatch.org.uk fame. As he wasn't here there was a swift debate during which a lady accused me of making things up when I said that the council was spending £28,000 a year storing unwanted laptop PC's. Anyway Hale councillor Hugh Rayner has promised to investigate this for me. I'll keep you posted.

Next up was Mr Richman with 8 different questions, mostly regarding the facilities for sport and cycling in Barnet. It seems that like me Mr Richman suffers from Tourettes in the company of council officers. Councillor Gordon had to tell him off for using bad language. Now Mr Richman is wasted at residents meetings, he really should be on the stage. He stood up and took the trouble to act out the problems faced by cyclists at traffic lights in Edgware. At one stage he was warned for getting too close to council officers by Councillor Gordon as part of his demonstration. Given that no one could hear a word he said, the demo managed to get his point over (to me at least). After about 35 minutes he finally managed to secure a commitment from Ian Caunce, the highways officer present that someone might do something (about what I really couldn't tell you).

By this time, Burnt Oak Councillor Lynda MacFadyen had given up. In a Michael Heseltine-esque fit of pique she flounced out announcing "I can't hear a thing it's pointless being here". At the end of the points raised by Mr Richman, I asked a question regarding a non response from Barnet Council on a planning issue. Councillor Gordon said "And who are you?" I replied "My name is Roger Tichborne". He suddenly looked a bit less composed "Oh I know who you are" he responded. Clearly realising that the meeting was likely to be more public than he had initially thought, he seemed to decide to relax his usual cut 'em off when they waffle policy. Now Myk Tucker a supporter of "No overdevelopment in Edgware" informed me that Councillor Gordon always likes to wrap up meetings early. This strategy seemed to go out of the window.

Next up Sonya Lejeune. She is concerned about the work at Burnt Oak library. To every concern she raised, Councillor Gordon responded "Well surely you should wait till it's open before you say that". I suppose once it's open she'll be told, why didn't you raise this before the work is done. I don't know, I hope Councillor Gordon is right and it will be marvellous.

And on, by this time it was 7.45pm (meeting started at 6.30). We were only up to question 17 out of 38. Councillor Gordon was starting to look worried. Not only might he not be home for cocoa at 8.30pm, he may not be home for Rosh Hashana. Up stepped Mrs Cohen. Her question was 2 1/2 pages long and had points a through to i. Now I have to confess that yet again I couldn't hear what she was on about. Not only that, but the 2 1/2 pages of notes only give the faintest clue. It seems she's unhappy with some aspect of the council's policy regarding a neighbour carrying on business at a private address. That is only a small part of the story though. It seems that the 2 1/2 page question she submitted was edited by the council. It seems much of the juicy detail was removed from the notes we got. Mrs Cohen was unhappy. After approx 20 minutes of her giving us the full text of her question, she noticed that Councillor Gordon was chatting away to Ian Caunce and completely ignoring her. Was she prepared to stand for this, no she wasn't she gave him a piece of her mind in no uncertain terms. Councillor Gordon responded that he'd listened to every word she'd said. Now either he possesses the hearing abilities of Superman or he's telling porkies, as she was completely inaudible apart from the odd "disgraceful" or "unacceptable". Anyway thoroughly chastised by his nemesis he tried to maintain focus. As to Councillor John Hart, for the entire meeting he had not uttered a word. As Mrs Cohen made sure we were all aware of her grievance I became fascinated with his demeanour. I suspect that the good councillor is not actually a human after all. He has the aura of a Jedi Knight. He sits there stoically saying nothing, but seemingly fighting an ever more desperate battle to not cross to the dark side. He clearly realises that he could simply snuff Mrs Cohen out using "the force" but then he'd no longer be a good guy. If Mrs Cohen disappears and a black caped knight in a welding helmet strides through to the next council meeting we know that the dark side won. On Mrs Cohen ploughed. At some point she realised that Leslie Feldman, the planning officer wasn't paying attention either. In she went, verbal daggers swinging. Councillor Gordon tried to defend the honour of Ms Feldman, but was dispatched with a swift comment along the lines of "I've already dealt with you, little man, be quiet". On she went. It was clear that council officers had ignored her. It was clear she was unhappy. At this point, she noticed that the third council officer (sorry, didn't catch his name) was also not paying attention. "Look at me when I'm speaking to you" she bellowed. Councilor Gordon said "This is not the forum to raise this". Mrs Cohen yelled back "I am a resident, this is the residents forum, you have to listen to me. It's not your forum". Councillor Gordon slunk back.

Much as I was enjoying all of this, I had to play football at 8.30pm up the road at the Powerleague pitches, so at 8.25 I departed. There were 21 more questions to go. I hope that the council officials get there act together and sort out Mrs Cohen's issues. I'm sure Councillor Gordon does as well (if he's not still sitting there listening).