It is very obvious that Bexley council has stirred up a hornet’s nest with its Splash Park
closure proposal. My Sunday blogs do not generally attract many readers until Monday morning but
yesterday proved to be the busiest day on Bonkers since the 15th July.
Perhaps it is just me but I don’t get on with Facebook, I find it to be an unnavigable mess and avoid it if I can, however the existence of the Splash Park Facebook page compelled several visits yesterday. It was clearly very busy with frequent additions but unless I am missing something it doesn’t tell you where the new stuff is; but I nevertheless learned quite a lot.
Various good points have been made; Bexley’s Health and Wellbeing Board, chaired by council leader Teresa O’Neill (pictured below) has acknowledged that the borough has a serious obesity problem but advocates fewer opportunities for taking exercise.
I have the impression from Facebook and Arthur Pewty that some people are optimistic about deflecting Bexley council from its chosen path but unless someone can find some sort of legal or statutory requirement I am not so sure. I have watched Bexley council very closely for more than five years and have to say that some councillors are very nasty people indeed. Totally self-interested and inflexible. As I have seen more than once, expose them, annoy them or simply criticise them and they will make up some story and ask the police to arrest you.
Probably cabinet Member Alex Sawyer is not cast in that mould but his boss certainly is. Council leader O’Neill is ruthless and during the past five years Bexley council, despite its ‘Listening to you’ slogan has listened to almost no one. Every time the detailed responses to consultations have been published I have gone through them step by step to see which ideas may have been adopted and you don’t need all your fingers to count them.
Abolishing school crossing patrols was dropped almost as soon as councillor Peter Craske put forward the idea, plans to charge for admission to the Belvedere Splash Park (but not Danson’s funnily enough) have been dropped twice and Bexley Historical Society managed to stop the borough’s historical archives being dumped in a cupboard in Bromley by coming up with a more acceptable scheme which would save just as much money. Why hadn’t Bexley council thought of it? Beyond those things Bexley council has shown itself to be a dictatorship.
A Freedom of Information request last year revealed that in the previous five years Bexley council had rejected every single one of 49 complaints about councillors from a member of the public. They consider themselves to be infallible and beyond criticism. When 2,219 residents signed a petition against the excessive salaries paid to the top brass (6th highest pay in the country at the time) the council refused to even think about it. In the bin it went.
The group that ran the Howbury Centre very successfully for years were shown the door when a commercial group with no money, a County Court Judgement against them and next to no experience came along. The group included a former Conservative councillor. The residents of Slade Green complained vigorously but to no avail.
The Danson Festival has gone and the grants to Hall Place and Danson House are on the way out. In blue Bexley money counts, people don’t.
One of the Facebook commentators said the council should be voted out of office but the chance to do that disappeared six months ago. In any case the people most affected cannot vote Teresa O’Neill out of office as they have done what they can already. The north is already solidly Labour. Bexley Tories can deny it all they like but they spend their money where their core vote is. Extensive new CCTV systems in Crayford and Bexley but none in Belvedere or Thamesmead where there was another murder just a week ago. Extensive regeneration in Bexleyheath (twice!), Sidcup, Welling and Northumberland Heath but they won’t even take action against the eyesore which is Abbey Wood.
Can you imagine that hanging around for five years in Bexley village?
I think you can be certain that Bexley council will not spend any of its own money on retaining a water facility in Belvedere. The only chance of success other than an unlikely legal or statutory route is if the money can be scrounged from elsewhere.
But don’t let my cynicism get you down. Put up the posters and march on the Civic Offices with pitchforks and flaming torches if necessary. Teresa O’Neill and her cohorts understand nothing less.
When Arthur Pewty said that nearly four years ago, Teresa O’Neill wanted me (yes me, not him) put in jail; obviously no knowledge of literature, not a clue about metaphors and no idea of what democracy is supposed to be. That piece of idiocy probably cost almost as much as the Splash Park to resolve although the bill fell on the police. Did you know that the police spent £14,000 forensically examining councillor Peter Craske’s computer after a load of criminal obscenities about me somehow went up his phone line? He didn’t do it of course, oh dear no. Innocence personified.
Maybe if I keep up the pessimism Bexley Tories will think it is worth £350,000 to make me look an idiot.
The next public ‘Save our Splash Park’ meeting will be held on Tuesday 11th November at 19:30 in the Royal Standard public house, 39 Nuxley Road. (In the Conservatory.)