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Bonkers Blog March 2013

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25 March (Part 2) - i-con or i-sore?

The usual Bonkers’ fare has been in short supply recently; the last three blogs have all been the work of others to varying degree and merely reshaped by myself. The council tax statistics were far more critical of Bexley council than I allowed, there is a difference between political deceptions and bare faced lies and Teresa O’Neill was very selective when she quoted figures. They were irrelevant and calculated to deceive, there can be little doubt about that, but they fell a little short of a lie.

Today’s Part 2 is again the opinion of a reader and arrives here shortened rather than significantly altered. Everyone is entitled to their view. The photographs were taken on 13th February 2013.

New Civic Centre Site for houses Site for housesI’m frequently perturbed by the sheer arrogance of Teresa O’Neill. Currently her big wheeze is the new civic building that is supposed to herald a bright new future for austerity Bexley. Lest we forget, the council and Teresa’s Strategy 2014 is all about saving 35 million pounds over three years and despite this challenging goal they fully support the super idea of splashing out £42 million on their own spanking new offices. Will they never learn?

Of course every possible opportunity is deployed to reassure themselves, in their own tiny minds, that this is what residents actually want.

The local Pravda – or Bexley magazine – in true five year plan style trumpets the ‘Landmark town centre project [that] brings investment and jobs’ and suitably illustrates those points with an empty, muddy field. Well I for one am not totally convinced by the claim and supporting evidence supplied!

Save a millionOnce again we are treated to their favourite mantra that ‘moving all of its office staff into one building will save the council more than £1 million a year’. It’s the usual sham economics highlighted on Bonkers many times before.

Annual budgets are based on the previous year’s spend so you can only ever claim the saving once. That’s what will show in the accounts, anything else is just the propaganda machine being used by the glorious leader Teresa O’Neill at every chance she gets.

Iconic My other favourite piece of drivel from this disingenuous woman is that she is doing the residents of our borough some sort of favour by reusing “a much loved” - and her favourite word is “iconic” - building. Well, iconic is the sort of grand word with a generally misunderstood meaning which would undoubtedly suit a politician; but come on are you really sure that anybody else has any sort of affection for this tatty piece of dated 1980’s architecture? It is a bulky brick eyesore devoid of any semblance of elegance. It is a blot on the landscape which makes absolutely no effort to blend with the surroundings, preferring instead to revel in a bizarre garish electric (Tory?) blue façade and mock pagoda style with little or no architectural merit.

Even Bexley council cannot find anything good to say about it. In their report on Bexley’s Local Distinctiveness - it never ceases to amaze me what drool Bexley council spends money on producing - a staggering 79 pages in all with just a single mention of our ‘iconic’ Woolwich building on page 27. “The former Woolwich building at the corner of the A220 road and Watling Street, which has views to the south of the borough towards Hall Place and the A2 motorway”. Is that it? Its only merit is that you can see it from the A2?

So carry on regardless Teresa as unfortunately it is far too late to alter your course now. Don’t worry, I’m sure you and your cronies will come up with some sort of flannel for the electorate but here is a free piece of advice for you from another politician of old; ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time; and all of the people some of the time; but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.’ You really should get out more and talk to real residents. They don’t care a whit for such an expensive folly and frankly you cannot hide this one at all!

Perhaps a few reminders of the facts is in order. Bexley council swapped its existing building with Tesco who had bought the Woolwich site hoping to open a supermarket there. Tesco retained most of the land which they sold to Bellway for housing. The precise terms of the swap with Bexley has been kept secret.

Of the £42 million cost of the new building - I thought they originally said £36 million - half is being spent on refurbishment. On the council’s own admission it would have been far cheaper to have rebuilt on the existing site. It’s not all bad, the existing building is undoubtedly dated and fails to meet present day needs and the new supermarket will be in a much better place than Erith Road.

On the other hand we are supposed to be hard up. The average Bexley council tax payer is contributing £440 (42 million pounds and 95,819 dwellings) to keeping Bexley councillors in the style they believe they deserve while care workers exist on the minimum wage and don’t get paid for the time taken getting from one job to the next or reimbursed the cost of doing so. Contrasted with that it’s clear to see what Bexley councillors value most. Their own comfort and prestige.


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