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Bonkers Blog January 2013

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4 January (Part 1) - Another fine mess

There is a story on the News Shopper’s website, and not for the first time, about the amount of dog mess to be found in an alleyway in Barnehurst. The Shopper reports how a Freedom of Information request to Bexley council revealed that no one in the borough was in any way censured by the council for allowing their dog to foul the streets in 2012. Dog mess is not just a threat to your shoes and carpet it is a very serious threat to children’s eyesight. Toxocariasis in dog poo can cause blindness. Allowing dogs to foul public spaces should be firmly trodden on.

Unfortunately there is no one left at the News Shopper with detailed knowledge of the borough going back more than a few months so it doesn’t report why Bexley council turns its own blind eye towards the problem.

If you read the following, attributed to cabinet member for the environment Gareth Bacon in October 2010, you might be hoodwinked into believing that Bexley council takes the issue seriously too.
Bacon's statement
Unfortunately, buried in the small print of the same document is something not entirely compatible with making Bexley “an attractive place to live and work”.
£15,000 cut in dog fouling budget
That’s right; Gareth Bacon made the dog warden redundant and saved £15,000 a year. That’s what the 15 in the table represents. Councillor Bacon would say, and he did, that chasing irresponsible dog owners was not “Value for money” and he was right in the sense that the fines didn’t cover the warden’s wages. The problem with uncaring Conservatism is that it is never able to put a value on the quality of life. A child’s eyesight is not worth paying for according to Gareth Bacon.

Pitchforks and torches Councillor Gareth BaconOne warden is not of course a lot of good; it’s not much of a deterrent to the irresponsible. What Bexley council should have done is follow central government guidelines. Everything Bexley residents might want was cut from April 2011 but not of course councillor’s allowances or Will Tuckley’s salary. If Eric Pickles was anything other than a fat windbag and he enforced a 10% cut on councillor’s allowances we could afford to employ six dog wardens. If Will Tuckley wasn’t the sixth highest earning council official in the country and took a 10% cut we could have two more.

If Teresa O’Neill’s sound bite about reducing the number of councillors to two per ward wasn’t an outrageous lie dreamed up for a newspaper headline we could have another 20 dog wardens. One warden might have been barely worth having but an army of 28 would have the streets cleaned up in no time. On the other hand the Bacons would see a small dent in their near hundred grand income from the public purse. And for that any number of kids can go blind.

The News Shopper probably struggled as much as I have for news during the holiday and it is commendable that they didn’t miss either the Boxing Day or 2nd January issues. However the letters editor does rather prove my point that the staff there lack long memories. He publishes a rather weird letter praising the News Shopper to the heavens for its accuracy. I seemed to remember a different slant from the same author and eventually Google turned it up. I hope it amuses you as much as it amused me.

News Shopper letters


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