Cabinet member Councillor Dean Cohen investigated following complaints from Brian Coleman about North London Waste Authority attendance

Councillor Cohen says he has 'nothing to hide'

Councillor Coleman though described his successor's failure to inform the council of his non-attendance as 'outrageous'

First published in News This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by

A senior Barnet politician is under investigation over claims he lied to full council about his attendance at the meetings of an outside body.

Councillor Dean Cohen, Barnet Borough Council's cabinet member for environment, failed to explain in the council chamber last week that he had not attended the two previous meetings of the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) – at which major decisions were being taken concerning the borough.

Barnet Council confirmed this week it received a complaint from Cllr Cohen’s predecessor, expelled Conservative Councillor Brian Coleman, who claims his former Tory colleague lied to members.

The allegations relate to a question asked by Labour’s group leader Councillor Alison Moore, who quizzed the cabinet member on which way Barnet’s representatives had voted on the subject of procurement for waste disposal in the borough.

Councillor Cohen said the voting record of himself and deputy leader Dan Thomas were confidential, and “swerved the question” according to Councillor Coleman.

But Golders Green representative Cllr Cohen insists he would have revealed he was not there if he had been asked directly.

He said: “The question was how did representatives of the borough vote – not how did I vote. I was advised that the meeting was private and confidential and so my answer was appropriate. If I had been asked directly, I would have said I wasn’t there. There was no lie.”

Councillor Cohen’s non-attendance at the meeting in September came due to his commitments to the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret.

Authority members are expelled from the committee if they fail to attend a meeting in more than six months, and the committee was forced to approve an extension for Councillor Cohen, who had also missed the previous meeting.

He said: “It was a very important vote but the borough was represented adequately by Councillor Thomas. I have to put my religious practices and my family before anything else and I will not jeopardise that.”

But Councillor Coleman, who previously sat as a member on the NLWA, insists the extension given for Councillor Cohen’s non-attendance is “unheard of” for an environment portfolio holder.

He said: “This was a vital meeting at which they were discussing the future of waste disposal in the borough and a £36million contract – something he is in charge of.

“He lied to council by failing to tell us he was not there and that is unforgiveable. That is the key issue – never mind his non-attendance. It is a disgrace and a breach of the code of conduct.

“It is the most outrageous behaviour from a councillor I have witnessed at a council meeting.”

Councillor Moore believes it would have been “the honest thing to do” for Councillor Cohen to inform the chamber he was not at the meeting, but she stopped short of backing up Councillor Coleman’s claims.

She said: “I didn’t specifically ask if he was at the meeting but it is fair to say he didn’t volunteer that information, which would have been the honest thing to do.

“I don’t believe he lied, and his non-attendance was pretty clear on the NLWA website when I looked.”

On the complaint by Councillor Coleman, Councillor Cohen added: “I have nothing to hide. It is up to him if he wants to report me – it is not in my nature to launch any personal attacks.”

Comments (13)

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4:40pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Jon10 says...

When Brian Coleman was on the NWLA, he used to park outrageously at Camden Town Hall, and then make no worthwhile contributions, which is not to say he said nothing.
When Brian Coleman was on the NWLA, he used to park outrageously at Camden Town Hall, and then make no worthwhile contributions, which is not to say he said nothing. Jon10
  • Score: 2

5:52pm Wed 29 Jan 14

gingis says...

This latest round of younger Councillors are all the same.
Just want paying for their ego's and doing nothing.
They will not attend these meetings as they have not got a clue what they are supposed to be doing there in the first place.
Good old Brian, Keep going that's at least two of them you have landed on the mire this month already.
Shame you did not highlight these problems when you were in their party though.
This latest round of younger Councillors are all the same. Just want paying for their ego's and doing nothing. They will not attend these meetings as they have not got a clue what they are supposed to be doing there in the first place. Good old Brian, Keep going that's at least two of them you have landed on the mire this month already. Shame you did not highlight these problems when you were in their party though. gingis
  • Score: 5

6:32pm Wed 29 Jan 14

You don't fool me says...

Not long now, bye bye CONselfservatives.
Not long now, bye bye CONselfservatives. You don't fool me
  • Score: 6

7:35pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Mr E Dance says...

“It is the most outrageous behaviour from a councillor I have witnessed at a council meeting.” Now that's rich coming from Mr Toad! Worse than abusing the public attending the Town Hall, Brian?
“It is the most outrageous behaviour from a councillor I have witnessed at a council meeting.” Now that's rich coming from Mr Toad! Worse than abusing the public attending the Town Hall, Brian? Mr E Dance
  • Score: 6

10:26pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Jon10 says...

I will give credit to his dad - Cllr Cohen the Elder may have looked and behaved like an old codger on the NLWA, but he DID intervene once and pointed out a mistake in some of the paperwork.

The officers were embarassed, and the other councillors obviously had not read the wretched document.
I will give credit to his dad - Cllr Cohen the Elder may have looked and behaved like an old codger on the NLWA, but he DID intervene once and pointed out a mistake in some of the paperwork. The officers were embarassed, and the other councillors obviously had not read the wretched document. Jon10
  • Score: 0

10:54pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Olddread says...

What a shameful bunch of politicians we have in Barnet.
What a shameful bunch of politicians we have in Barnet. Olddread
  • Score: 8

10:13am Thu 30 Jan 14

Edgar de Jarnac says...

A politician has been accused of lying? Is that news?
A politician has been accused of lying? Is that news? Edgar de Jarnac
  • Score: 1

11:03am Thu 30 Jan 14

Hunted999 says...

This is all very well but as Brian knows full well from personal experience, there will be no independent ivsetigation, the Council and Dean's peers will sit in judgement and, even if wrong doing is found nothing will happen.

The only effect this may have is, having said I won't vote I am now persauded by the comments on here to turn out in May to get rid of this discredited administration.
This is all very well but as Brian knows full well from personal experience, there will be no independent ivsetigation, the Council and Dean's peers will sit in judgement and, even if wrong doing is found nothing will happen. The only effect this may have is, having said I won't vote I am now persauded by the comments on here to turn out in May to get rid of this discredited administration. Hunted999
  • Score: 6

12:11pm Thu 30 Jan 14

dawboy says...

It seems to me that politicians are totally amoral. They seem to think that they are entitled to do what they want, when they want and if they want. The only time that they have any respect (or should I say feigned respect) for the public is when an election draws near and they fear losing their ride on the gravy train.
As for their honesty, I rank it alongside that of double glazing salesmen, estate agents and wonder slimming drug manufacturers. They appear to think that being open and honest is a privileged option they have rather than a reasonable expectation by their electorate.
As for any form of punishment when caught lying? Get real, they are so busy covering each others backs and vilifying and person complaining that they have no time or indeed desire to actually do something. They are more likely to spend a fortune in Council funds appointing solicitors and PR companies to defend the actions of their fellow councillors than actually punish them.
It seems to me that politicians are totally amoral. They seem to think that they are entitled to do what they want, when they want and if they want. The only time that they have any respect (or should I say feigned respect) for the public is when an election draws near and they fear losing their ride on the gravy train. As for their honesty, I rank it alongside that of double glazing salesmen, estate agents and wonder slimming drug manufacturers. They appear to think that being open and honest is a privileged option they have rather than a reasonable expectation by their electorate. As for any form of punishment when caught lying? Get real, they are so busy covering each others backs and vilifying and person complaining that they have no time or indeed desire to actually do something. They are more likely to spend a fortune in Council funds appointing solicitors and PR companies to defend the actions of their fellow councillors than actually punish them. dawboy
  • Score: 8

3:28pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Don't Call Me Dave says...

@dawboy

That is a disgraceful slur on double glazing salesmen, estate agents and wonder slimming drug manufacturers.
@dawboy That is a disgraceful slur on double glazing salesmen, estate agents and wonder slimming drug manufacturers. Don't Call Me Dave
  • Score: 3

10:59pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Jon10 says...

Don't Call Me Dave wrote:
@dawboy That is a disgraceful slur on double glazing salesmen, estate agents and wonder slimming drug manufacturers.
Glad you still flit over to your old haunts sometimes, DCMD.

There is yet to be a replacement for your part of the political firmament, by any other credible blogger.

Can't you suggest that role to one of your chums who is still in Barnet?
[quote][p][bold]Don't Call Me Dave[/bold] wrote: @dawboy That is a disgraceful slur on double glazing salesmen, estate agents and wonder slimming drug manufacturers.[/p][/quote]Glad you still flit over to your old haunts sometimes, DCMD. There is yet to be a replacement for your part of the political firmament, by any other credible blogger. Can't you suggest that role to one of your chums who is still in Barnet? Jon10
  • Score: 0

7:23pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Barnet Parker says...

Am I the only one who finds it disturbing that our elected representatives can say that a meeting they attend on our behalf is private and confidential? Is there any point in living in a democracy anymore? And this at the council that was found to have acted illegally for not consulting with residents over One Barnet.

The loss leader Cornelius says he's cutting the Council Tax to give me the price of a cup of coffee a month as a gesture. He may not like the gesture I'm planning to give him in May!
Am I the only one who finds it disturbing that our elected representatives can say that a meeting they attend on our behalf is private and confidential? Is there any point in living in a democracy anymore? And this at the council that was found to have acted illegally for not consulting with residents over One Barnet. The loss leader Cornelius says he's cutting the Council Tax to give me the price of a cup of coffee a month as a gesture. He may not like the gesture I'm planning to give him in May! Barnet Parker
  • Score: 3

7:27pm Fri 31 Jan 14

You don't fool me says...

The loss leader Cornelius says he's cutting the Council Tax to give me the price of a cup of coffee a month as a gesture. He may not like the gesture I'm planning to give him in May!

Well said, It will be a mass gesture that they will not forget!
The loss leader Cornelius says he's cutting the Council Tax to give me the price of a cup of coffee a month as a gesture. He may not like the gesture I'm planning to give him in May! Well said, It will be a mass gesture that they will not forget! You don't fool me
  • Score: 2

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