formal part of Bexley’s council meeting didn’t take long because Teresa O’Neil’s
undemocratic scheming had been mapped out well in advance.
However before that could be rubber stamped the council had to formally elect Teresa as leader but that proposal was interrupted by Stefano Borella (Labour) with an amendment which was not made available to members of the public. However the gist of it was that Labour members be appointed to the top jobs. He said, among other things, that this would ensure the end of children being put at risk and the northern parts of the borough being neglected.
He singled out former councillor and cabinet member Chris Taylor for special attention because of his disgraceful boast that Bexley pays less for its care services than any other borough. (47 seconds into this recording.)
Needless to say this went down like a lead balloon with the chief balloon who
said she thought she was living in “a superland” whatever that might mean. I
think she failed to realise that the new opposition faces are less likely to
take things lying down, as tended to be the case in recent years. The blue rinsed sheep
naturally kicked out Borella’s idea and voted for no change at the top.
Councillor Gareth Bacon picked up the deputy’s job while quietly pocketing
another seventeen grand.
The main attack on democracy for the new session is the reduction in the number of scrutiny committees, down from seven to three which has the unfortunate consequence so far as the money grabbers are concerned of robbing four of them of £8,802 a year. How will the leader ensure undying loyalty if she cannot cross their palms with a surfeit of silver? She had thought of that.
For the first time ever, committee vice-chairman are to be paid. Only £3,000 mind, which might still reduce the takings at the Tory club bars. She had thought of that too.
The three scrutiny committees are to be given two vice-chairman at three grand each. But that is still a few thousand short of what was paid out in the past, so Teresa had concocted another wheeze. Each committee would be allowed to hand out £1,500 a year to any sub-group it might set up. Not quite as generous a payroll vote as before, but close. And except to curry favours, totally unnecessary
Lesnes Abbey councillor Danny Hackett took the lead role in opposing O’Neill’s decision to reduce scrutiny of her decisions and hand over an unnecessary £22,500 to help keep the troops in order but his pleas fell on deaf ears. Teresa said that the recent election had democratically given her carte blanche to do what she wanted, or words to that effect.
Labour leader Alan Deadman, reinforced Danny’s comments with his own expression of
displeasure at scrutiny opportunities being halved.
It then became apparent that O’Neill had thumbed her nose at any hope that she intended to run an honest council over the next four years when the Chief Executive announced the names of those who would chair committees other than scrutiny and we discovered that that monumental liar of a councillor, Cheryl Bacon, is to chair the Code of Conduct Committee.
The names of the councillors who are to collect the rewards for being appointed to outside bodies were put up for approval but not before the Labour group had put forward an amendment, instantly dismissed of course.
Councillor Deadman suggested that it would make more sense if the calendar of meetings put scrutiny meetings immediately after cabinet meetings rather than the other way around, but sensible though his suggestion might be, every Conservative voted against it.
It was difficult to see how UKIP voted on any issue. There was certainly no consistency; they voted with the Tories, they voted against, they abstained; not just as a group but independently of each other.
Mayor Howard Marriner’s style could be described as faltering but it must be more than a little nerve-racking and no one would envy his robes given the lamentable state of the chamber’s air-conditioning . There were no calamities or outbursts of bad temper which marred his predecessor’s performance on occasions. In mariner’s lingo, steady as she goes.