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Bonkers Blog July 2013

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23 July - Bexley is not Barnet

CraskeWhile struggling to dig into a mound of Rhys Lawrie papers yesterday but managing to barely scratch the surface, a succession of emails was arriving alerting me to news from the High Court where Barnet council had lost a case brought against it by the Barnet CPZ Action Group.

Barnet council had hiked the cost of a Residents’ Parking Permit from £40 to £100 to raise revenues and that was declared illegal. In Bexley the increase was from £35 to £100. £120 in some places, and nobody here did anything about it - apart from Nicholas Dowling (†) who has been a pain in Bexley’s backside ever since.

I frequently hear people say that Barnet council is very similar to Bexley but I simply don’t see that at all.

• In Barnet bloggers and councillors regularly exchange views via email. In Bexley that is pretty much banned by the Great Dictator and on the very few occasions when a councillor has spoken to me, there have been references to not being seen by you know who.
• In Barnet, photography and recording is the norm at council meetings, in Bexley they call the police at the merest sign of a recording device.
• In Barnet there is concern that public services have recently been contracted out. In Bexley it has been like that for several years. There is nothing left to contract out.
• In Barnet no councillor claims to be under constant threat from residents (Section 32 of the Localism Act) and in Bexley at the last count more than a fifth of Conservative councillors claimed that their relations with the public were so poor that they must go into hiding.
• In Barnet criminal acts by councillors are punished with the full force of the law, in Bexley there are free dinners to be repaid.

When councillor Craske decided to triple Bexley’s parking charges he concocted a load of false figures (3,081 residents’ permits issued at a cost of £783,200) suggesting that it cost in the region of £250 to issue each parking permit and instead of asking himself how things could be that inefficient he simply bumped up the prices. If there had been a shred of truth in Craske’s claims you would have thought he would go for the full £250 rather than half that amount. But at that time at least, Craske always lied so logic was not a factor.

The real reason why Bexley council gets away with murder, metaphorically at least, is that so very few people challenge them. Too many residents are willing to vote for the proverbial monkey with a blue rosette. Too many people are scared off by council leader Teresa O’Neill’s malicious trips to the cop shop and the resultant threats of arrest, actual in some cases. Barnet has its CPZ Action Group. Bexley has its Action Group. Tiny and with an average age in excess of 70.

Until that changes Bexley council will continue on its highly paid path of dishonesty and corruption.

† Nicholas will be inspecting the parking accounts again in a few days time during the period the council is compelled by law to open its books. (22nd July to 16th August.) Last year he was a bit of a beginner at it and was to some extent conned by Bexley council. That won’t be happening again.


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