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Bonkers Blog August 2015

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17 August - A valiant effort but…

The Old Farm Park campaigners are throwing everything they can into the battle to save it from the developer’s bulldozers. They have held public meetings and presented petitions, so far without effect, and set up an active website. Not content with that they have a subsidiary news website and they have two Conservative councillors behind them. Newcomer Rob Leitch who has managed to get hold of Bexley council’s so called Site Appraisal and June Slaughter with nearly 40 years experience behind her who delivered a devastating attack on the council’s proposals at the last cabinet meeting.

The Site Appraisal is remarkable mainly for its brevity and its assertion that there is “no known flooding within the Old Farm Avenue site”.

It was severely flooded only last week.

An Appraisal, devoid of any financial information does not in practice provide much in the way of useful information and the campaigners are now putting all their effort behind getting people to go through the consultation process.

I’ve watched these consultation charades far too often before and in my opinion nothing anyone does now will make one bit of difference. It will merely illustrate yet again that a Teresa O’Neill led council will take not a blind bit of notice of any consultation response.

O'NeillStrong words, and I am no fan of selling off the family silver, but look at the practicalities. Is it possible for Teresa O’Neill to backtrack now? Would she allow councillor June Slaughter who embarrassed her so much at the cabinet meeting to beat her into submission?

It is more than six months since councillor Alex Sawyer (then cabinet member, now deputy leader) publicly announced the second list of parks for sale and it had been secret for a couple of months before that. These schemes have a very long gestation period.

The consultation runs until 18th September and the first council meeting after that when the subject can be debated is on 4th November. There isn’t another one until the budget is set in March 2016.

Realistically, there is only that one opportunity for the full council to debate and approve the sale of the parks before the March budget setting meeting. It’s the 4th November Full Council.

Consider what would happen if the proposal to sell the parks was thrown out. By 4th November the plan would have been a year in the making. Cabinet member Craske studiously avoided coming up with a substitute sale site after Old Manor Way was let off the hook. Director Paul Moore confirmed there is no Plan B. That is not only because there isn’t one but also because there is no need for one. Selling Old Manor Way was never a serious proposition. No one seriously believes that the council didn’t know the site was full of holes and mine shafts and covenants. It was always the Aunt Sally to be graciously sacrificed to make Bexley council look better than it is.

More importantly, there is no need for a Plan B because nothing will deflect Bexley council from its ambitions.

There simply is no time to change direction. Old Farm Park is doomed. Without its sale or a Plan B a major part of the budget strategy falls apart and Teresa O’Neill OBE (Oldfarm Bulldozers Expected) would be utterly discredited. She would lose her place as leader next year, which is the one very good reason to fight the sell off. Anything that brings her demise closer to reality must be worth doing.

Complete the petition anyway, when it happens you will be able to claim a small part in Teresa O’Neill’s downfall.


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