Mar 03 2015

Harrow’s Cllr Kendler: “Abrasive and Disingenuous” About Library Closures

guest_post…Guest Post from the Friends of Bob Lawrence Library:
We received an email from Cllr Barry Kendler, one of the 3 Edgware Councillors.  His email did not bother to address our lead campaigner by name, even though she presented 250 extra signatures, introduced our petition at the Full Council meeting on Thursday 26th February and was introduced by the Mayor.  Cllr Kendler was present at the meeting.  We are appalled that he is questioning the integrity of our campaign. The email was factually inaccurate and the tonality extremely abrasive and disingenuous.
We provided Cllr. Barry Kendler with 24 hours to retract his email as well as apologise for his rude and factually incorrect email. He chose to ignore the request leaving us with no other option than to publicly respond to his email.
The Bob Lawrence Library Campaign has and will always be party agnostic. We represent the residents & community who use Bob Lawrence Library and would like it to remain open. We have had open discussions with all of our campaign supporters as well as Harrow Labour Councillors, including Cllr. Sue Anderson, Cllr. Sachin Shah, Cllr. Nitin Parekh and Cllr. Kiran Ramchandani. Our conversations with Cllr. Sue Anderson have been positive, productive and honest. Her forthcoming approach to the campaign has come across as a sincere effort to preserve library services across the Harrow Borough. We have emails and communication / meeting logs to support these claims.
The Bob Lawrence Library is represented by a team of people whose primary goal is to preserve library services for the community living in its immediate vicinity. The petitions for the library were presented by a cross section of library users –
  1. A 6 year old boy, who studies at Stag Lane School, presented 140 letters / posters prepared by the school children requesting that the library remain open.
  2. A teenager, who is a Harrow resident, presented over 5,000 signed petitions in favour of keeping the library open.
  3. A disabled Senior Citizen, also a resident of Harrow presented an open letter signed by 24 community leaders, campaign supporters, authors to name some of the wide range of interest groups who support the Bob Lawrence Library campaign.
  4. A young mother and regular patron of Bob Lawrence Library, who resides less than 0.5 miles from the Bob Lawrence Library, presented  an additional 250 signed petitions to keep the library open and represented the team at the recent full council meeting.
Our lead campaigner is a regular user of the library with her young family who appreciate Rhyme Time. She is one of the many spokespeople for over 5,250 people who signed the petition to keep the library open. She has gone door to door (with her 4 year old son) in the cold January rain to gain support from residents and supporters. She has spent hours standing in a supermarket with other volunteers to seek support for the campaign leaving her family to watch over her new born baby. In view of her sacrifice, which is driven by a passion to save a much loved library, questioning her integrity as Cllr Kendler does in his email is offensive.
We have serious concerns about Cllr. Kendler’s statements.  We are disappointed that rather than represent Edgware and support the campaign, he chooses to question our campaigner’s integrity & dedication towards a worthy cause. We demand that Cllr. Kendler issue a public apology to the Bob Lawrence Library Campaign Team and a formal retraction of all the false statements he has made in the 2nd March email addressed to the Bob Lawrence Library Campaign Team.
Regretfully, the Bob Lawrence Campaign Team do not wish to engage with Cllr. Kendler who has indicated in writing that he will not participate or support our campaign in spite of it being such a worthy cause. Any effort on his part would be disingenuous and biased.
We will however continue to work with the Harrow Labour Councillors, portfolio holders as well as Councillors from neighbouring boroughs (irrespective of party allegiance) who have not only welcomed our proposal but have come forward in a sincere bid to keep library services accessible to all communities.
As a gesture of goodwill. we will be keeping the DVD “Jerry McGuire” and the book “How to win friends and influence people” on hold for Cllr. Kendler at the Bob Lawrence Library.
For your reference, below is the email sent by Cllr. Barry Kendler on behalf of the 3 Edgware Councillors (None of which have denied supporting Cllr. Kendler’s claims & sentiments).
Best Regards
Bob Lawrence Library Campaign Team
—–Original Message—–
On Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 10:19 AM, <Barry.Kendler@harrow.gov.uk> wrote:
Dear whoever you are,
My colleagues and I are prepared to try to assist you but we are not going to join in a campaign that maybe a front for a Parliamentary candidate who has already been decisively rejected by the voters in Edgware nor, will we participate in a campaign that provides information to the Leader of the Council’s Opposition but not to us, the three democratically elected members for Edgware. Your behaviour so far does not engender trust nor mutual respect as you have chosen to ignore us so far but to engage with our political opponents even though the voters of Edgware have rejected them.
We are also concerned that the lead petitioners do not appear to live in the Edgware ward nor in the Borough itself.
However, even though there is less than three weeks to go when the Council has to decide the future of the libraries under threat of closure, if you want to genuinely engage with us on behalf of the residents of Edgware then we are prepared to meet with you and discuss any proposals you may have.
Yours Sincerely
Cllr Barry H Kendler
On behalf of the three Edgware Councillors
Sent with Good (www.good.com)
—–Original Message—–
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  1. Concerned Harrovian

    The friends of Bob Lawrence library includes many young people who spent a lot of time and effort to represent their views to the council via the petition. What message is this sending today’s youngsters when their views are not only dismissed but the organiser of their petition is vilified and accused of nefarious activities?

    I think a public apology is IN ORDER because this amounts to character assassination. Cllr Kendler ought to consider himself lucky that he has not been sued for libel.

    Perhaps he should be tutored by Cllr Sue Anderson on how to engage with the public. She should also read chapters of the book “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie to him and explain their meaning.

    Treating well-meaning, concerned library users as plebs who are beneath contempt is not the way to win over residents. One ought assume that he would wish to show his party in a good light but perhaps he hasn’t received the PR training that we residents are paying through the nose for out of our council tax.

  2. Concerned Harrovian

    Had a look on the internet to see if there are any charm schools Cllr Kendler could attend. There is a course at the London school of Etiquette that would give Cllr Kendler an idea of what is expected when engaging with residents.

    It is a one day course entitled “Achieving success – avoid enemies, make friends & a good impression.” This could be paid for out of the PR budget because it would seem he needs all the help he can get.

  3. Just say sorry

    Dale Carnegie’s book is on its way from Rayner’s Lane Library which is also under threat of closure.

  4. RichardG

    Dear Friends of Bob Lawrence Library/Bob Lawrence Library Campaign team,

    Your on-line response to Cllr Barry Kendler would have been more powerful if you had actually answered the points that he made:

    1. You should deny that your campaign is a “front for a Parliamentary candidate who has…. been rejected by the voters of Edgware” by explaining why this allegation is untrue.
    2. You should deny that your campaign “provides information to the Leader of the Council’s Opposition but not to … the democratically elected [council] members for Edgware” by explaining how you have given them information.
    3. You should deny that “the lead petitioners do not appear to live in the Edgware ward nor in the Borough itself” by either explaining that this is untrue or, if true, why it does not matter.
    4. Accept the Edgware Councillors’ offer to meet you to discuss your proposals or explain why you will not do this.

    Or does Cllr Kendler actually have valid points?

  5. sonoo malkani

    Genuinely sorry to read the comments which clearly indicate that Cllr Kendler has rubbed salt into the wounds of the already irate petitioners who desperately want to keep their local library open for obvious reasons.

    It does not bode well when those meant to be SERVING the community act high-handed and end up alienating the very people who gave them the opportunity to be in that privileged position.Concerned Harrovian has made some valuable suggestions which Barry Kendler may find most useful.

  6. Susan Hall

    Simply unbelievable! Councillor Kendler, an Edgware Councillor says on behalf of all the Edgware Councillors:-

    ‘we are not going to join in a campaign that maybe a front for a Parliamentary candidate who has already been decisively rejected by the voters in Edgware nor, will we participate in a campaign that provides information to the Leader of the Council’s Opposition but not to us, the three democratically elected members for Edgware.’

    All that these Campaigners want is for their Councillors to listen to them. They have let their Councillors know that they want to keep their much loved Library. As members are elected to represent the views of their constituents I would have thought that supporting so many residents was the least they could do. Not only are they not listening, all three of them voted to close the Library by voting with the budget. Edgware is one of the poorest wards in the Borough of Harrow and there is a real need for this community asset. I was there earlier today and I can assure everyone that it was full of people using computers, children reading books and some just quietly sitting together. The only information I am receiving, as Leader of the Opposition, is that the residents want to keep this Library open and I am receiving that message loud and clear, it is such a shame the Edgware Councillors and the Labour administration do not choose to hear. They will of course blame the government which is their answer to everything. This is incorrect. They can, and have, made choices and they would clearly rather reinstate the Chief Executive post, enhance top pays and constantly employ hugely expensive consultants rather than keep our Libraries open.What a shame and what peculiar priorities, they certainly are not those of the Conservative group. As for the snide remarks pointed at Nana Asante all I can say is that she has always been passionate about Edgware and its residents and will continue to be. She at least listens to the residents, what a shame she does not represent them anymore.

  7. Yogesh

    You Serious!!! What you are looking for an apology, you mean the word “Sorry”!! WHY? These are landlords of Harrow, they are not allowed to make any apology. The words such as “Honesty, Truth, Justice, Integrity, Sorry” do not exist in their dictionary.

    Obviously, all this is not the Councillors fault. All issues are residents problems since they started the campaign and have to suffer.

    Not to worry they still have another 3 years before the next election and we all would have forgotten the treatment dished out by the Edgware Councillor’s and in our naivity will re-elect them and suffer on-going problems. Won’t we?

    Now we know what we need to buy for the councillors in Edgware, since the library will be closed and they will not have access to the dictionary!!

  8. sonoo malkani

    I fully endorse what Cllr Hall has stated about the manner in which these three Edgware politicians have deliberately ignored the wishes of their residents,despite huge opposition to the retrograde closure of a much needed asset–the local well known and well used Bob Lawrence library.Never mind the needs of the public or how it will handicap the progress of so many listed above.

    Nana Asante is a good,strong leader and very passionate about issues such as these.It is really very sad that anyone can stoop to make snide remarks about another well-loved and respected community leader.She has done so much for the local residents and been a very popular Mayor as well.It does not matter whether she belongs to the Labour Party or to another or NONE!

    It just makes us all very sick to see this kind of behaviour which only serves to tarnish even more the image of ALL Councillors as self-seekers—even when it may not be true.The public does not appreciate nor will it tolerate this type of low grade talk.

    Instead of simply pouring blame on the present government for all the ills of Harrow COuncil’s cuts these Labour Councillors would do well to consider their contribution to the resulting mess.

  9. Someonewhocares

    Unfortunately even with the Run-Up to the May elections this kind of ‘debate’ is really not helpful; Surely the key issue here is Education NOT Politics?

    We residents have all witnessed heavy-handed ‘listen to the people’ (but then ignore them) events from both Parties, and sadly it is damaging Harrow not just reputations.. Can’t we all just work together on some of this and help reverse Harrow’s decline? (Yes, I am serious).
    Like it or not we have a Labour in control here now, and that is not going to change for 3 years. Not sure if it is just ‘sour grapes’ but making EVERYTHING political is disingenuous to residents as much as anything.
    We have not seen any figures from the Opposition here showing exactly how they would have imposed the £20m/year cuts, either. ANYONE can say ‘this is wrong’ but what is the alternative plan? Why don’t they just lobby Central Government about all this instead?

  10. Robin

    Do not be deceived by Councillor Sue Anderson She has already declared in the consultation at Rayners Lane library that she is IN FAVOUR of the four libraries CLOSING DOWN.

    1. iharrow.com

      …which is another example of local councillors failing in their duty to represent their constituents. The same was seen in Roxeth, with Cllr Margaret Davine ignoring residents in order to vote along with the party. I’d suspect Cllr Anderson took the same view: after all, if they support their residents, instead of the party, they run a very real risk of losing their coveted – and well paid – position on cabinet. Anybody else see a flaw with this?

  11. Just say sorry

    Sorry for being rude, and abrasive, and high handed, and dismissive. Three very simple words – “I am sorry!”

  12. Concerned Harrovian

    When these politicians come to our door asking us to vote for them we should understand that they will vote for to maintain THEIR WELL PAID POSITIONS and not for the interests of those who vote them into office.

    It is no wonder that folks have such a jaundiced view of political folk. Not only do they not represent the voters’ interests they feel free to sneer and dismiss peoples genuine concerns.

    I think a new term ought to be put into the dictionary “voter abuse.” Also, because they are now in office for four years, perhaps the word “untouchables” ought to be added to the dictionary. Cllr Kendler how dare you abuse the many people who voted you and your party into office. Perhaps residents should request him not only to apologise but write in big letters “I must be civil, courteous and supportive of those whom I represent.”

    Does anyone know if there is a petition asking Cllr Kendler to apologise because I have not been able to find it?

  13. Someonewhocares

    With respect some of these comments seem a little naïve.

    Politicians from either side saying ‘I was wrong’ or ‘I am sorry’? Are you kidding?

    Again can anyone show me how we found ourselves in a situation with a £20m/year cuts..
    and Central Government saying ‘we are sorry about this’ and justifying their rationale ?

    Incidentally i don’t mean the usual ‘we are all in this together’ type platitudes

  14. Someonewhocares

    Sorry that comment was actually supposed to read as follows:

    “Again can anyone show me how we found ourselves in a situation with a £20m/year cuts..
    and Central Government NOT saying ‘we are sorry about this’ and NOT justifying their rationale ?”

    Any politicians reading this please note my use of the ‘S’ word!

  15. Just Say Sorry

    Cllr. Kendler – Liar Liar Pants on Fire. Claiming you nor the other ward councillors had access to presentation. Don’t check your email? Email on 22nd Feb from the BLL Campaign Team released on twitter suggests otherwise? All of the other ward Councillors did? Or is this one more false accusation against the BLL Campaign Team. “Just Say Sorry”.


  16. Someonewhocares

    Well ‘just say sorry’ – a little childish maybe and again a little naïve.- and unlikely to elicit your desired results, too – or probably any response – but are you really assuming that because you sent an e-mail to someone in the council they actually read it?!

    Rather sad to see you being so abrasive whilst accusing anyone of being abrasive!

    1. Just Say Sorry

      Awful that he didn’t read his email. Clearly the Library is not important enough for him to get up to speed. Either way, it seems (with all due respect) Cllr. Kendler has a tendency to not check his facts before sharing his thoughts.

  17. Nana Asante

    Thank you Cllr Susan Hall and Sonoo Malkani for your kind comments. Although we re on different sides of the political divide, we do appreciate the positives.

    To answer RichardG

    1. You should deny that your campaign is a “front for a Parliamentary candidate who has…. been rejected by the voters of Edgware” by explaining why this allegation is untrue.
    It is untrue and disrespectful of those who started the campaign on 38 Degrees and Change.org in early December. I was approached on 30th December 2014 for advice which I gave. I joined campaigners on 3rd January, collecting signatures door to door, in the cold rain. I supported campaigners at other signature drives, I also supported Newton Farm School children when I was asked for support. I don’t need a ‘front’. If it was my campaign, you would be told. This is a Community Campaign which I am supporting. It is disrespectful of the Community to dismiss their hard work as a front. I am a TUSC Parliamentary Candidate – TUSC is upfront about being anti-austerity and anti-cuts.

    2. You should deny that your campaign “provides information to the Leader of the Council’s Opposition but not to … the democratically elected [council] members for Edgware” by explaining how you have given them information.
    On 19th January, members of the Save Bob Lawrence Campaign Team met with the Portfolio Holder, Cllr Sue Anderson and gave the first draft of their presentation. Unlike the Edgware Councillors (judging from their email) she was professional and courteous. She provided campaigners with floor plans as requested. The final presentation was sent to ALL Councillors including Edgware and Queensbury Councillors on 22 February by email. I have seen copies of the email which was sent to the Councillors’ harrow.gov.uk address.. The problem seems to be that whereas the Leader of the opposition takes the trouble to look at her emails, ‘democratically elected [council] members for Edgware’ don’t seem to take communications about their ward to seriously. instead they prefer to have conspiracy theories which seek to discredit campaigners.

    3. You should deny that “the lead petitioners do not appear to live in the Edgware ward nor in the Borough itself” by either explaining that this is untrue or, if true, why it does not matter.
    Actually the Save Bob Lawrence Campaign Team is made up of Library users. Some live in Edgware, others live in other wards of Harrow and some live in neighbouring boroughs. The Take Part Consultation run by Harrow Council was addressed to people who live, work or play in the borough. Why should the criteria be different for the Save Bob Lawrence Library Campaign? Of the 2 presenters on 19 January, 1 lives in Harrow, 1 live sin Brent. Both use the library. On 15 January, the 3 people presenting the petition live in Harrow, 2 in Edgware. As far as I am aware, you do not need a passport to enter Edgware Ward or be concerned about it. It is an area of deprivation. the library should be enhanced not closed. the Save Bob Lawrence Campaign Team has been diligent in researching and presenting options which if explored without the political fluff and distraction from Edgware Councillors, offer a route to keep the service open.

    4. Accept the Edgware Councillors’ offer to meet you to discuss your proposals or explain why you will not do this.
    Unless a full apology is given, the Bob Lawrence Campaign Team have reason to doubt the sincerity of the offer to meet and discuss the proposals. The disrespect needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. You might want to advise the 3 Edgware Councillors to start representing their ward – The first step would be to “Just Say Sorry”.


    1. RichardG

      Dear Nana Asante, thank you for your excellent response. Regarding point 4, were I involved in the campaign team, I would take up the Edgware Councillors’ offer to meet and discuss the matter and then use that opportunity to request an apology. What have you to lose? It’s possible you could advance your cause without forcing the Councillors’ to lose face……

      1. Nana Asante

        Re Point 4: You make a good point RichardG and I will add my voice to yours and suggest that Campaigners meet with Ward Councillors and go through the presentation they sent on 22 February and the 4 options to keep the library open, if there is a genuine offer to meet. Probably the campaigners were too upset by the rude email to consider the fact that asking for an apology might make the Councillor lose face…The Library is too important to let a distraction like rudeness get in the way. I know Cllr Barry Kendler can be gracious, I have seen his polite side. I used to chair the Labour Party Branch where he is a member. From my information other Councillors from other parties are interested in hearing about the options and supporting the Campaigners. The Portfolio Holder Cllr Sue Anderson has been professional throughout – the Campaigners give her credit for inspiring them. Perhaps Queensbury and Edgware Councillors will consider listening to the options and lending their support? A win/win would be the library staying open to serve residents without affecting the budget

  18. Someonewhocares

    From number 4, above:’ If you don’t apologise we won’t meet with you’ – Really??
    Interesting notion – but even if he did does that save these Libraries? You are probably now just setting yourself up for a ‘Sorry – but they still have to close’ scenario..

    Might be better to have a e-petition aimed at whoever is in power (eg. Cameron/Boris/etc) and ordered the cuts and thus indirectly caused the closures? Send these folks the written petitions, letters from kids and so on too?

    Although it might set a dangerous precident I wonder if residents were asked ‘will you pay an extra 1% Council Tax to save the libraries’ how they might respond.

    1. Just Say Sorry

      REALLY. Cllr. Kendler does not come across as someone with integrity, honesty or respect for people. He has made it clear that he is not interested in the campaign. If he were interested, he would read library related emails, he would know the name of the campaigners and he would be a little more forthcoming. He needs a lesson in humility.

      1. Someonewhocares

        – And I am sure a character assassination of someone you did not meet yet – and probably won’t now if the insults continue – will NOT help your cause. A central tenet of the Libraries closing is EDUCATION; So I respectfully suggest you try a more educated and less personal strategy. Otherwise you are increasing proving him right to ignore you, surely?

        I am seriously starting to think this is less about Libraries and more about some kind of vendetta now..

        1. Nana Asante

          Actually Campaigners have met Cllr Barry Kendler and other Councillors in the library. I was a witness to one such meeting. I believe they met Councillors previously. Perhaps Someonewhocares will check the genesis of this exchange? A factually incorrect and rude email was sent by Cllr Barry Kendler who was elected to represent Edgware.

          Campaigners are continuing to engage with Councillors of ALL parties. They are engaging in particular with the Portfolio Holder, Cllr Sue Anderson who has been professional and courteous with them,

          Perhaps it is important for Someonewhocares to recognise that elected representatives have a duty to look after their ward and not make false accusations. It is not naive to expect to be treated with respect. If Cllr Barry Kendler was simply ignoring the campaigners, there would not have been this exchange. He was rude to them and questioned their motives. They are entitled to seek an apology

          1. Someonewhocares

            Clearly what elected representatives of any political complexion are *supposed to do* and what they *actually do* are frequently ‘at odds’. Similarly for what is is worth Cllr. Kendler is actually totally within his rights to ignore e-mails which are so rude (particularly ‘pants on fire’ and the rest). It IS naive to start such apersonal tyrade and yet expect any good to come from it

  19. sonoo malkani

    As a humble and loyal citizen of this borough for at least four decades I cannot recall a time when there was so much rancor and bitterness coming from the incumbent Councillors in Harrow.This is most disturbing and hurts us all in a number of ways.We have to fight problems which may stare us in the face as a TEAM–not as EMPOWERED COUNCILLORS versus DIS-ENFRANCHISED MEMBERS OF PUBLIC.

    The current strategy from our Council seems to be as follows:

    1)TOTALLY IGNORE any uncomfortable questions from concerned and worried tax-payers who are being left out of the equation altogether,in reality,whilst the books are being balanced.This is the beginning of the end!Frankly,the Councillors entrusted with special portfolios have a DUTY to make themselves FULLY ACCOUNTABLE and not go into HIDING MODE.

    2)Give very ARROGANT ANSWERS in a rather dictatorial manner—a take it or leave it attitude or do as you are told.Our public is intelligent.Do not treat us like morons Please show us some respect.You do not have all the answers.

    Some attempt to be fair and courteous.In the main ,the answers are NOT CIVIL and often rather RUDE.This is contrary to the purpose of Councillors being appointed.To help and SERVE the public not act as their masters!

    3)Instead of shouldering the responsibility which goes hand in hand with the powers bestowed upon them,PASS THE BUCK.Blame every single thing on the Central Government,instead of lobbying actively or finding other solutions.

    The people of Harrow have trusted your word and elected you.You are BETRAYING THEIR TRUST.This is simply not done!Once the confidence is lost people will NO LONGER ENGAGE.
    Please appreciate that this sets dangerous precedents and the fall -out could be far-reaching —community engagement and harmony could become fraught.I pray that never happens since none can afford this!

    One thing for sure that can be set right overnight is the ATTITUDE of these Councillors.It should be one of genuine SERVITUDE not that of a DICTATOR.Let us go back to being CIVIL,POLITE at all times and remember your basic portfolio is that of SERVING THE PUBLIC.

    FORGET the POLITICS and just be genuinely concerned citizens like the rest of us,helping our borough restore its helath and happiness.

  20. Just Say Sorry

    Who says we haven’t met? For someonewhocares – you seem to be making a lot of incorrect assumptions.

    1. Someonewhocares

      Looking at all your invective criticism of Cllr. Kendler is that not what YOU are doing?

  21. Awula Serwah

    Snide remarks and making statements without ensuring that one has all the facts are unhelpful, but we all make mistakes. The challenge is how to make good any harm we might have unintentionally caused. Shall we focus on how the libraries can be kept open? Hopefully Cllr. Kendler is now aware of his errors and there will be constructive engagement.

    1. Someonewhocares

      Exactly, forget this infantile rant against Cllr. Kendler and focus on the LIBRARIES!!

  22. iharrow.com

    …and now seems as good a place as any to draw comments to a close on this article.

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