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Bonkers Blog March 2015

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1 March (Part 1) - Park and Playground protest

Park protestWhen cabinet member Alex Sawyer decided to read out the list of 27 public spaces that Bexley council may decide to sell off I suspect he knew exactly what he was doing; trying to inject a little of the openness and transparency leader O’Neill speaks of but tries hard to avoid, and to stir the public debate which the council has been striving to avoid. Refusing Freedom of Information requests etc.

Sawyer’s list was published here (audio clip) which led to Bexley council issuing a Press Release ten days after Sawyer’s revelation and it soon found its way into the News Shopper.

Because of Bexley’s addiction to secrecy rumours circulated. Yesterday, and not for the first time, I had to assure someone that there never was a plan to build houses in Danson Park. The cabinet member has made that very clear while speaking on webcam, he‘s not going to renege on that now.

However the lesser parks and open spaces are under threat and I attended one of the protest meetings on Saturday morning. The Old Manor Way group have got in early, before any detailed work has been done on the ideas.

They have been in touch with their MP David Evennett who has not bothered to reply. Does he ever?

The ward councillors, David Hurt, Howard Marriner and Eileen Pallen will only say that they will help find an alternative site. What a load of nonsense that is. If there was a nearby suitable council owned site, they would be selling it to a property developer!

The driving force for selling children’s playgrounds is of course money. Bexley council hasn’t got any, already charges one of the highest council tax rates in London and sees its salvation as building more houses and industrial units. That will increase the council tax base and make a fortune from the newly introduced Community Infrastructure Levy. £60 per square metre south of the Bexleyheath railway line, £40 north of it.

The sudden enthusiasm for Thames crossings has the same roots, you don’t bring the biggest food distribution centre in the world to the borough if the council is campaigning for isolationism - as it was until very recently.

So the campaigners may have a struggle on their hands. A playground has been on Old Manor Way since 1939 and the land is a valuable site; but having listened to campaign leaders speak, it is good to know they have already recognised part of the problem, individual ward councillors are mainly in it for themselves.

The campaign has a facebook page.

Park protest Park protest Park protest Park protest
It may help dispel more rumours about the ‘decision to sell parks’ if this exchange between Sidcup councillor Rob Leitch and Director, Paul Moore is published. Decisions would appear to be some way off.

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