report on last Wednesday’s council meeting never
quite reached the end, I’m afraid the change from note taking to SD card has done absolutely
nothing to speed up the process and I can no longer listen to the radio while doing it. After
deputations, questions and motions most members of the public went home, including the regular
attendees, Elwyn Bryant, Mick Barnbrook etc. However I wanted to hear what councillors might
say about the new protocols on recording meetings and remained at my post.
To get to that point I had to sit through many other things, including the leader’s self congratulatory address and picked up a few snippets of information that might be interesting.
Councillor Seán Newman indicated that not everything in Teresa’s garden is rosy, the Broadway regeneration has driven shoppers away (Bexley BID report) and Bexley is in the bottom four London boroughs for low paid jobs and the bottom eight for housing benefit claims. Despite the leader “waxing lyrical’ according to the MGI (McKinsey Global?) report Bexley has not improved at all. Seán’s conclusion was that councillor Linda Bailey’s tenure of the regeneration portfolio had been a failure. Bailey’s reply was “I am not going to lower myself by answering that part about failed. Councillor Newman should be ashamed of himself."
Councillor Alan Deadman suggested there were insufficient disabled parking bays close to Abbey Wood station. As a local resident I always considered the number of disabled bays in Wilton Road (at the end of which is the station) to be excessive. They are often the only empty ones. Councillor Gareth Bacon said the number wasn’t changing during the Crossrail works.
The council then spent 29 seconds debating, approving and voting on the Financial Plans and Budget Strategy 2014/15 and moved on to Agenda item 11 (parts ‘a’ to ‘o’) which included the protocols for recording meetings (part ‘c’). Approval of all but one of them took 25 seconds so I was disappointed to hear no comments on recording. The exception which took a little longer was Public Realm, and in particular the developments at the Howbury Centre in Slade Green. Councillor Stefano Borella took the opportunity to sing the praises of Melanie Hudson and the Howbury Friends, a lost cause if ever there was one. He then digressed to the matter of Cheryl Bacon’s Closed Session meeting and the falsified minutes. The mayor said it was not relevant and made him sit down.
Councillor Langstead asked the mayor to have the Slade Green residents’ Howbury petition put on the council’s website as was the Waitrose petition. Councillor Teresa O’Neill said she would not. Brenda Langstead protested but to no avail. As was obvious at that council meeting, management of Howbury was already a done deal. We certainly know that now.
In the closing moments of the meeting which ended at a couple of minutes past ten, councillor Chris Ball (Labour) said the way the council operated is very different to what it was 15 or 20 years ago and he considered now was the right time to begin the process which would lead to a reduction in the number of councillors from 63 to 42 and “reduce significantly the amount of money we spend on members’ allowances”. Teresa O’Neill said the same thing four years ago but the gravy train proved to be far too great an attraction. She refused to discuss the issue on Wednesday evening and said that councillors’ allowances had been frozen, as if that in some way compared to a reduction in number.