Just over six months ago the leader of Bexley council, Teresa O’Neill said
when forecasting the cuts to be inflicted on the population, “We have not
discounted reducing the number of councillors” but since then she has uttered
not another word about it. The subject wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the
council’s cuts documents nor has it ever been on the agenda of any of the council or cabinet
meetings held since. It wouldn’t be popular among the money-grabbing classes; there
are far too many of them riding Bexley’s gravy train. Meanwhile, down the road in Bromley,
the council there has drawn up plans to reduce the number of councillors per ward from three
to two. Nothing can happen until 2014 but at least they werent so dishonest as to grab
a cheap headline and hastily retreat.
So what has a council with such a fine record of lining members’ pockets done with the idea since 27th October 2010 when the leader first went public with it? Mr. Bryant, never one to give up pursuing Bexley council’s failures, asked the appropriate question at the council meeting of 17th November and was told “nothing”. At the March meeting, the answer was just the same, the leader said once again that she was all hot air. Well not quite, but she may as well have done; and then most recently on 6th April the indefatigable Mr. Bryant put in another question asking what progress had been made towards reducing the number (and £900k. cost) of councillors. He didnt get an answer because that was the meeting where mayor Val Clark rigged the questions session by getting ex-councillor David Leaf to ask sycophantic time-wasting questions before anyone else could get a look in. However Mr. Bryant has received an answer from the leader through the post. It is of the time-honoured I refer you to the answer I gave before” variety. Or in simple language, the leader has done absolutely nothing about reducing the number of passengers on the Bexley gravy train and her statement to the News Shopper was never anything other than a sop to the masses. You may prefer to call it a lie, but beware you may get a police accusation of harassment if you do.
Mr. Bryant wont be asking his question again because he has been banned from doing so. So have I and so have you. Under the revised Constitution introduced by a small coterie of Conservative cronies each with much to hide from public scrutiny, no one may ask a question which is “substantially the same as one asked within the last six months”. It won’t matter if the last time it was asked it got no answer or a completely dishonest answer, the mere fact it was asked is enough to stop all further questioning. I am sure once a few criminal minds are applied to that and the other similar provisions it will be possible to put a stop to almost anything. I can be banned for making it obvious I have no respect for the mayor or the council’s idea of democracy and quite likely you can be banned if you agree with me. If you are a councillor who has seen a colleague face the beak after too many questions were asked by a resident you wouldnt want to risk close questioning again would you?