The News Shopper eventually reported
councillor Don Massey’s decision to extend his money saving wheezes (sacrificing the
long established Howbury Friends, export the borough’s history to Bromley and bring
down the curtain on the Danson Festival) to pulling out of Open House Weekend to save
a sum of money almost exactly the same as that which the Massey household pockets each
month from their generous taxpayer funded allowances. It was
reported here three days earlier after Penny Duggan’s Tweet
checked out correctly. However the report was somewhat light on detail.
Step forward Hugh Neal of Maggot Sandwich fame who got a lead on what the background might be. According to information he has been given or flushed out, it wasn’t just the fee that Open House charges to cover its publicity and administration costs that upset Don Massey, it was the thought that visitors might rush to Danson House and Hall Place to take advantage of free entrance and not come on chargeable days. Income might be affected.
He may be right. I have got into the habit of celebrating a family event each June by taking some of them to Hall Place and taking a meal in the excellent steak house. But it is far too expensive to take them all into Hall Place as well and if the car park ever becomes chargeable I shall take them somewhere else more welcoming.
29 of London’s boroughs are signed up to Open House and all of them must have judged that the loss of income on the day was outweighed by the many advantages. Some venues are never otherwise opened to the public and others will now lose out on the almost free publicity. In Bexley the council takes a short sighted and selfish view; all that matters here is freezing the council tax and maintaining voter ignorance which makes putting a cost cutting Philistine in charge of culture the absolutely right thing to do.
Note: Penny Duggan is Secretary of The Bexley Historical Society.