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Bonkers Blog May 2011

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6 May (Part 2) - Nice work if you can get it - click image for photo gallery (1 image)

Sculpture in Lesnes Abbey WoodsThe finer points of accountancy escape me. An accountant has explained again how the expenditure Bexley council publishes on its website is not enough to tell the whole story and I thought I understood but I’ve half forgotten it already. I think I shall stick with his summary which was “things that look suspicious might not be and things that look OK may be hiding something; and round numbers are always suspicious”. I can just about remember that.

One of the things that caught my eye on the March expenditure list was £31,710 to the sculptor Philip Bews. Enquiries reveal that he was commissioned to produce sculptures in Bursted Woods. They look suspiciously like the sculpture (see photo) that appeared in Lesnes Abbey Wood last year. I pass it several times a week and everyone who looks at it likes it, but thirty one thousand for wood carving! I know Bexley council says it received a grant for ‘regeneration’ but is this the way to spend so much money when we are supposed to be hard up? The Lesnes Abbey sculpture has been badly burned by vandals.

The ‘round figures’ seem to be donations from Bexley council to their favoured charities. I would give more examples but Bexley’s website has been down all day but one I remember was a charity helping battered women. I expect they need all the money they can get but who on Bexley council makes these decisions? I can guess how it works in practice.

Every time I look into local charities or small businesses being given large grants by Bexley council I seem to find one thing in common. It is run by a Bexley councillor receiving a fat fee. Sometimes more than one Bexley councillor.

Again I am hampered by Bexley council’s website being down all day but from memory Bexley Crossroads Care has had a Bexley councillor as its director. The NHS Care Trust has three Bexley councillors as directors. The Neighbourhood Watch is run by a would-be Conservative councillor - he wasn’t elected.

Then there are the local business on the receiving end of grants. Bexley Manor Nursery School with councillor John Waters on its board and the granddaddy of them all, the Thames Innovation Centre, largely run by Bexley councillors which has been on the receiving end of barrow-loads of Bexley tax payers’ cash.

One can argue that businesses, charities and public bodies taking lots of Bexley’s cash should have someone on their board who represents the donor but whether that is justified or not it makes for a nice little boost for councillors’ earnings. Your heart no doubt bleeds for the likes of Katie Perrior who couldn’t possibly do her part time voluntary job without being paid £22,650 to do it and writes to The Chronicle to ask us to feel sorry for her.


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