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Bonkers Blog April 2015

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23 April (Part 3) - Bexley Conservatives. How mean and petty minded can they get?

There were several incidents at yesterday’s council meeting worthy of comment but some are easier to report than others. It’s been a long day so I am going to jump straight to Agenda Item 8 for a relatively simple job. Motions. I’ve never seen so many before at a single meeting. There were nine of them, three from the Conservatives and six from the opposition. Labour, ever the optimists,  wanted the council to deal with rogue landlords, promote the London Living Wage, to protect standards of Home Care, to help the disabled, to note the importance of new transport infrastructure and aim to become carbon neutral.

All laudable stuff, so which in the limited time did Bexley council choose to debate? One of their own of course, it was to ensure that Bexley is a popular place to live, work and visit.

It came from councillor Brian Bishop and the full and voluminous transcript is as follows…


This Council’s ambition is for Bexley to have one of the highest rates of economic growth in London, believing that is the cornerstone to secure the long term economic future of Bexley, attract and secure new developments and businesses which bring investment and create jobs in the Borough.

Major developments like Crossrail and London Paramount offer the opportunity to really go for growth and our colleges, including the Learning Centre for Bexley, will help build our skills base to meet our ambition.

All Councillors commit themselves to working hard together to delivering the growth agenda across the whole of the borough to ensure Bexley is a prosperous and popular place to live, work and visit.


Mayor The mayor reminded the meeting that the business of Motions must finish by 9 p.m. unless members vote to extend the time available. This meeting had been rescheduled from the normal 19:30 to 19:45 so an extension would not be unreasonable. Councillor Ferreira (Labour) requested an extension while councillor Sharon Massey persisted with her habit of injecting advice from the back benches. While the useless Mayor Howard Marriner lets her continue to undermine his authority she is not likely to desist.

Labour’s request for an extension that may have provided them with an outside chance of putting one of their own Motions forward was of course unanimously rejected. Democracy is not the Conservative way.

Councillor Bishop cantered through his chosen subject in just five minutes fifteen seconds. “15 year strategy, Thames Gateway, M25, three railway lines, a nearby airport, sustainable growth, talented council officers, 7,000 businesses, five town centres, investment, it’s the place to come”.

Also mentioned were Paramount Leisure, Crossrail - neither actually in the borough - and Ocado (three times), the Thames Innovation Centre and Erith Quarry. The examples were impressive but added nothing to the store of knowledge but as lists go it wasn’t a bad effort.

Why Bexley council finds the need to put Motions before itself to remind itself how wonderful it is, is anyone’s guess but if it keeps them happy, why not? Who could disagree with motherhood and apple pie? Not the Tories, they applauded themselves to the rafters. Councillor Melvin Seymour was so enamoured of it he felt compelled to stand and amplify the message with politically barbed pot shots. More applause.

The Labour group thought the Motion could be improved still further. They wanted to add the words “and encourage the creation of London Living Wage jobs across the Borough” so that the first paragraph would read…


This Council’s ambition is for Bexley to have one of the highest rates of economic growth in London, believing that is the cornerstone to secure the long term economic future of Bexley, attract and secure new developments and businesses which bring investment and encourage the creation of London Living Wage jobs across the Borough.


It looks pretty innocuous to this old Tory. It’s only encouraging the London Living Wage, not compelling it. It has to be a good thing and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the Tory High Command saying much the same thing.

In days gone by I might have teased you for the probable response to the amendment but you will know Bexley council far too well by now. They did of course immediately and unanimously reject Stefano Borella’s amendment. Whether that is because they can never be seen to cooperate with an opposition party or because they actually prefer people to live below the bread line I truly do not know. The nasty party? You bet!

The Labour group sensibly voted for the original motion. Perhaps they have stopped falling for the Tories’ dirty tricks.

I am a bit late to the party on this one. The Labour Group under leader Alan Deadman has already put out its own Press Release. The Motion and amendment already quoted above are omitted but apart from that the Press Release was as follows…


Bexley Labour Councillors condemn Tory Councillors for voting against the Living Wage


Bexley Labour Group put forward a minor amendment towards a motion by a Tory Councillor at Bexley Council’s meeting last night asking the Tory Led administration to encourage the creation of London Living Wage jobs across the Borough.

All Tory Councillors voted against the slight amendment to the motion put forward by Councillor Stef Borella asking the Council to encourage the creation of London Living Wage jobs. The original motion asked for all Councillors to work together “to ensure Bexley is a prosperous and popular place to live, work and visit” and made no mention to the London Living Wage.

London Poverty Profile’s research shows that Bexley is one of the boroughs with the highest proportion of low paid jobs. Furthermore, research carried out by the National Policy Institute in September 2014 indicated that a third of Bexley resident’s jobs are paid below the Living Wage.

The Mayor of London also wants the London Living Wage to become the norm for employers in the city by 2020 as it would help hard working people make ends meet.

Councillor Alan Deadman, Leader of Bexley Labour Group said: “I am dismayed that every single Tory Councillor voted against asking and encouraging employers and contractors to pay the London Living Wage”.

“This Tory led administration needs to get on board with what the Mayor of London and members of the public want”.

“Tory Councillors should be ashamed of themselves for turning down the opportunity to encourage the creation of London Living Wage jobs across Bexley.”


It would be hard to disagree with what Alan has said. Bexley council is simply mean spirited. There’s nothing in that Motion that would upset their precious budget.

 

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