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Bonkers Blog April 2015

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16 April - Smart water meters but rather dumb meeting

ChairmanThe Places Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held yesterday evening was not the most interesting on record. The first hour was taken up with a presentation by representatives of Thames Water who embarked on a scheme to install Smart Meters across the borough just over a year ago.

It did not go too well and was abandoned after 4,403 meters were installed. Even so it was estimated that more than half a million litres of water per day were saved which on the figures supplied amounts to 28 gallons of water per day for each household.

Including the (dumb?) meters installed before that programme began, 29% of Bexley households are now metered and the aim is to get that up to 77% over the next two and a half to three years.

The system will transmit consumption data from each meter via repeaters to one of four receiving stations placed around the borough. The frequency employed is one which became free with the changeover from analogue to digital television but at much lower power level, lower than that used by home wireless internet, so not a health issue. (†)

Metering will allow leaks to be monitored more closely and tackled quickly and customers will be able to check their consumption in close to real time on line. Preparatory work will begin in July and customers will be contacted from September onwards.

Unusual for a Places meeting, there was little new said about Public Realm improvements. The £100,000 spent in Northumberland Heath came in for some criticism especially the plastic bollards which soon broke and the lamp post banners which were not very distinctive.

Traffic disruption in connection with Phase 2 of Bexleyheath’s Regeneration, from Trinity Place to Lion Road is likely to commence in July and cost in the region of £700,000. No attempt would be made to improve existing junctions except that some would be raised, and the unsatisfactory situation at Church Road where traffic queues to turn right would continue.

The cost of Phase 1 was more than once given as £3·7 million, a larger figure than any revealed at previous meetings.

The political mudslinging was of a poor standard devoid of any wit. Cabinet member Don Massey thought that Labour spoke “absolute rubbish” and councillor Borella upset the reliably obnoxious cabinet member Linda Bailey by saying that the Broadway regeneration had not been “some magic pill” that made every shopkeeper happy.

The chairman felt obliged to ask members to be civil to each other which prompted Cheryl Bacon into launching a personal attack against councillor Borella.

BaconCouncillor John Davey bore a grudge against councillor Borella too. He was accused of asking too many transport related questions and he should have gone to the Transport User's Committee. The ignorant Davey is presumably unaware that Councillor Borella is a Transport Users’ Committee member and that he was there.

Not to be outdone, cabinet member Linda Bailey had the final dig at councillor Borella’s - or Borello as she insisted on calling him - failure to fully appreciate all the wondrous works created by the £3·7 million regeneration of Bexley’s biggest shopping centre.

The Places Scrutiny meeting usually reveals at least a few interesting facts and figures but this one did no more than reveal rather too much about certain councillors’ addiction to political point scoring. What has Cheryl Bacon ever done for Bexley council other than get it into trouble with the police?

There was no UKIP representation at this meeting. No explanation was forthcoming.

Note. † This from my own research and not from information provided at the meeting.


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