What happened at last Wednesday’s four hour council meeting would have been forgotten by now if it was not for the recording which contains many unreported gems. One is Agenda Item 6 (a motion about the frozen council tax having “helped residents significantly”) which allowed Teresa O’Neill, even during this period of ‘election purdah’ to takes several swipes at the Labour opposition.
She said they were in need of a maths lesson three times and praised her own freezing of the council tax. The Labour election literature showed they didn’t understand maths she said in her best condescending tone. Labour, she said, planned “to at least double the council tax” which seems a trifle far fetched given that legislation restricts increases to 1·99%. Probably someone so accustomed to law breaking as she is regards that as an inconsequential impediment.
Warming to her theme and apparently forgetful of electoral purdah guidance she said that Labour’s increase would in fact be 108%. She was of course unable to resist laying these plans at the door of former Cooperative Bank Director Munir Malik who had not made an appearance at what would have been his last council meeting. Unless he seeks a come back at some time.
That line of attack being exhausted the leader wandered totally off topic without any word of advice from the chairman mayor into listing the achievements of the other bodies active in the borough. This she said, without giving the purdah restrictions another thought, would help Labour candidates when addressing voters on their doorsteps. She suggested their theme could be “how great the Tories are”. Her list was…
• Regenerating Thamesmead, Tavy Bridge is down.
• The Link and the Sporting Club is open.
• Lesnes Abbey Park and a lot lot more to come in the future.
• We fought for the Crossrail extension to Abbey Wood and got it.
• We have asked Southeastern to make better use of the loopline.
• We are lobbying for an extension of Crossrail to Ebbsfleet but it needs to stop in Bexley.
• New jobs at ASDA in Belvedere.
• Erith now has a bright future.
Note: Conservative councillors campaigned against ASDA and threw out the planning application. This was later overruled but only by a 6:4 majority. Without Labour support there would be no ASDA in Belvedere. (Absolutely packed yesterday afternoon by the way.)
It could be said that Crossrail already stops in Bexley. The council’s welcome signs in the vicinity of the terminus all say ‘Bexley’. Abbey Wood, the area Teresa would prefer to forget.
At this point the opposition party woke up and realised that none of what Teresa O’Neill was saying had anything to do with the motion under discussion. A partisan and thoroughly rude Sharon Massey responded to councillor Stefano Borella’s intervention with “Thank you for your observation, I invite councillor O’Neill to continue”. “OK, we got to Erith didn’t we?” said the Brampton bully.
• North End is absolutely fantastic - and she referred to the new Howbury Centre which has been wrested from residents’ control.
With that Teresa O’Neill ended her list of things that were all funded by other bodies, referring as she did so to councillor Borella’s intervention as “a silly game”.
So that you may judge whether or not the council leader stuck to the motion, it is reproduced in full below.
The motion was seconded by councillor Alex Sawyer who made an entertaining speech beginning with the mistakes made by Gordon Brown. Obviously Alex is happiest picking on easy targets. I am pleased to report that unlike his boss he confined his comments to the matter in hand.
He said that the increased charges which Labour said was a 7% Stealth Tax could only translate to a 7% council tax rise if funded any other way, but did not indulge in O’Neill’s 108% flight of fancy.
Labour “bottled an opportunity to put forward an alternative budget” and is “a party that will say anything or do anything to get itself a vote. In fact madam mayor I am starting to wonder if they are not Liberal Democrats in disguise”. Definitely the best council joke of the year so far (Akin Alabi excepted of course) and coupled with the reference to Sharon Massey as ‘madam’ Alex gets my vote for being the brightest Conservative Bexley has got.
Labour is a party, he said, “that spends money like a Lothario out on a singles’ night”. But saying that Bexley is a borough “built on the principles of low tax” suggested that it might be his party in need of a maths lesson just as much as Labour. After four minutes of stand up comedy, Alex Sawyer sat down and the vote, as is always the case in Bexley, split entirely along party lines.
The only point of the motion which benefits residents not at all is to stick one in the eye of the opposition. How very grown up.