On Bank Holiday Sunday, I spent a pleasant afternoon at Salisbury Racecourse. Live Horseracing is a fascinating experience. Apart from the obvious it is a great opportunity for people watching. Horseracing crowds are a varied cornucopia of rural England. Certainly a world way from the ethnic mix of North Finchley; I did notice though that the stable staff are much more diverse.

But would you believe it in the middle of everything a load of local Mayors resplendent in their chains arrived. Must have been around eight of them together with their respective escorts; what they were doing there was not quite clear. I checked the Race card. I could not find a Mares only race.

But it looked like the good and the great of Wiltshire had turned up. Many of them had driven themselves there (Barnet please note) one had actually driven up in classic open top car. This was all very interesting. A photo opportunity of them placing bets with the bookies beckoned, but they wisely stayed well away.

On the way out a Mayoral Limousine’s regally followed me slowly through the car park as I walked back to my car. I gestured (politely) to the Chauffeur that the gap he was trying to negotiate was not large enough. He ignored me and took the side off his brand new car! Whichever Council they were from is going to be mightily embarrassed.

All of this seems a million miles away from Barnet Council business. Last week was the final meeting of the Cabinet Overview Committee. You will recall from my previous blog the ruling Tory administration is changing the rules. This will make it harder for Opposition Councillors to Scrutinise Cabinet decisions.

The Leader of the Council again faced questions about the Councils Investments in “dodgy banks” The Council proposed adopting stricter procedures named Treasury Management Policy which it is hoped will prevent a repeat of the Iceland banks fiasco. Closing the Stable Door came to mind. The Leader assured us that the Council “never chased high returns “and the “Council is now more cautious” and above all the Council “never borrowed to invest “Interesting!

The Leader appeared to me to be very defensive. He ended up by taking a swipe at this blog. He suggested (in a stage whisper) that I ask questions only so as to garner material to use on this blog.

The (now) former Deputy Leader appeared before the committee to defend the proposal to “sell off “Hendon Cemetery and Crematorium. He of course did not use the term “sell off” and was at pains to tell us no decisions have been made and what they were looking at was working with a partner organisation. Something is not quite right I thought to myself. According to his report the income generated from the Cemetery and Crematorium is a nice little earner for the Council. The Deputy Leader was keen to reassure us that there would be no loss of income for the Council if a private company took over the running of the Cemetery.

Well the new company would be responsible for undertaking the costly but essential refurbishing of the facility .Presumably they will expect to make profit, how? Will they increase charges or will quality suffer?

Last but not least we looked at proposals for increases in Parking Fees and Charges. This was the third attempt to by the Administration to get it right. So many mistakes had been made that the increases had to be delayed. It appears the Council paid staff to go out and photograph every single pay and display machine and car park tariff sign in the Borough. The Council did not know their own scale of charges. No wonder there had been so many complaints that pay and display meters had been issuing wrongly timed tickets.

The photos were then given to an independent officer to prepare new schedules against the data contained within the photos. It does not stop there the schedules were checked again by another independent officer against the photos taken. Further checks were then made before the final schedule was prepared.

The end result is that the motorist will have to pay more. So much for the gesture at Christmas when charges were reduced to help local traders; These new charges will more than recoup the Christmas “give away “. Only a dog it seems is not just for Christmas.