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Bonkers Blog June 2011

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18 June - Gorging themselves at your expense - click image for photo gallery (2 images)

William Morris fountain - wrecked by Bexley councilYesterday’s Daily Express carried the headline “Councils owe you a 450 pound rebate”. Further down the page it said, “Town halls are failing to shop around to get the best price for basic goods and services”. The headline is based on a report by the research company Opera Solutions and you can read their report by clicking here. The weakness of it is that it based on only three councils and confined itself to provision of mobile phone, energy and legal services. But waste and profligacy is what councils are famed for as perusal of Bexley’s ‘Expenditure over £500 list’ or a stroll down any but the most minor of roads in the borough will remind you. Few new road layouts are not a disaster. No one seems capable of designing a roundabout and why can’t they leave well alone anyway? Ah, I remember, it’s to keep themselves in lucrative employment.

An example of excessive and unnecessary expenditure came to light when the new mayor was enthroned on 18th May. What would you do if you had just been appointed to a new job? Have a quiet celebration with your family? Buy your friends a beer? Possibly. But I suggest you would not expect your employer to throw a party on your behalf. But that is what Bexley council did for the new mayor. While the formalities were proceeding in the council chamber, family and friends were able to celebrate the event in a back room. The cost of sandwiches, tea and cakes was £1,350 taken straight out of public funds. (The alcohol was not free.) At least the money went to a local company, Broadway Catering and not to some luxury hotel on the south coast.

On the Conservative Home website, Bexley council leader Teresa O’Neill has returned to her theme of Bexley council being so much better than Labour councils. Having no public toilets is good apparently and we are keeping all our libraries open. You’d think nothing was changing. No mention of the Bexley Times and News Shopper reports of every Bexley library employee being made redundant and only half being re-employed nor of the mobile service being considered for the chop. She also claims that £10,000 has been saved by vandalising the William Morris fountain and filling it with dirt. Councillors pluck these numbers from the air. Councillor Craske is on record as saying the closure will save £20,000 and the Expenditure over £500 list shows that more than £200 has been spent on the ‘fountain’ already this year.

I don’t take issue with sensible expenditure cuts across the board and libraries cannot be exempt but when will councillors bear some of the pain themselves? If we are so hard up that it is vital to save one hundredth of the cost of councillors’ allowances by wrecking the fountain how can we possibly justify spending £1,350 on a party for the mayor’s friends and family? £1,350! that’s one hell of a lot of sandwiches, what was in them? Caviar?

I have had several reports of Bexley’s expenditure on cake. Can it really be true that employees are given a free doughnut on their birthdays?


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