While the News Shopper continues its steady decline - no attendance at council meetings, reprinting press releases with no added value, losing its senior reporters to the nationals and moving its headquarters to Sutton, the Bexley Times occasionally shows signs of recovery with in depth reports on local issues.
This week the paper version which I never see but is available on line, carries a couple of good reports on local issues. The saving of the Old Manor Way playground (Pages 12 and 13) and the latest Splash Park developments (Pages 16 and 17), all pretty accurately reported too.
It’s true that most of the latter could be written by carefully studying the consultant’s technical report but journalists often have no time for that degree of detail any more, but Sarah Linney did.
Those who read the Bonkers’ report may not learn a lot that is new about the Splash Park developments, except that the Bexley Times has been able to extend its report to cover the last few days.
It concludes with the most recent comments by Faye Ockleford, the Save the Splash Park campaign secretary. The mains-fed water solution is not viable because it would impede supplies (at the top of a steep hill) to residential premises. There is no consideration of the commercial options to which Anna Firth laid claim during the election campaign and cabinet member Peter Craske has refused a meeting.
That is very different to cabinet member Alex Sawyer’s reaction, he was always ready to meet anyone at a moment’s notice from the initial protest meeting to Anna Firth’s called within two days of the election.
I have known about Craske’s intransigence for several days but decided that making his words public might do the campaign no good at all. Craske is well known for acts of spite, however the Bexley Times report has to some extent let the cat out of the bag.
So with the permission of the Splash Park people I can report that Craske said, among other things…
A report will be presented to the Cabinet shortly for consideration. Until that time, I won't be meeting anyone, on either side of the arguments.
That is to ensure we have approached the matter with fairness and without one group getting an advantage over any other.
I think the campaigners are mystified by that; I certainly am.
What can be meant by “either side”? I was under the impression that there were indeed two sides. The one comprised of mums and dads and children and the one made up of people who share councillor Tandy’s views. “The Splash Park has got to go”.
If councillor Craske does not propose speaking to either side it could mean he is going to make the decision entirely alone. A charade he pulled of fairly successfully when claiming credit for saving Old Manor Way.
It was a clever stunt but it was a decision made on financial and practical grounds, not just dene holes and mine shafts but also Old Manor Way being in a marginally Conservative ward. I would guess that a strongly Labour ward (Belvedere) is at a serious disadvantage on top of which the monetary sums involved are frighteningly large.
The Bexley Times reports that campaigners are beginning to think Bexley council is intent on ‘cut and dry’. I’m tempted to say, ‘twas always thus.