Now where were we? Ah, yes, councillor Seymour was doing his John Prescott
impersonation. Next to his feet was councillor Steven Hall (Conservative, Penhill & Blendon).
Councillor Hall’s second sentence was a criticism of the opposition. “They didn’t even try to come up with alternatives.” True, but the only Tory reaction would have been jeers wouldn’t it Steven, and then you would have unanimously voted them down?
The whole of Hall’s first minute and a bit was occupied by Labour bashing until he got around to saying “Let’s get back to the budget”. The utterly useless chairman had done nothing to curtail his meanderings.
Back to the budget, councillor Hall retraced the steps of deputy leader Bacon with statistics about the loss of government funding. “We have carried out seventy one million pounds of savings since 2006 which is a seventy one percent council tax increase not passed through to the council tax payers.”
The need for this was that “the previous government under Blair, and Brown and Balls misspent the nation’s finances. Bexley will have to find another thirty million pounds of savings by 2018“. (Twenty nine if the Tories had not greedily voted down the UKIP amendment. Councillors must be a front line service, because they, according to councillor Hall, are what must be protected.)
Councillor Danny Hackett (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) objected to Blair and Brown getting the blame and was rewarded with much laughter,“ the problem was caused by city bankers” - which provoked howls of derision. “This and the mismanagement in this council has led us to where were are today.” Through a barrage of cat calls from the hooligans opposite I was just able to make out that Danny considered the proposed budget to be an “omnishambles” and he would not be supporting it.
The consultation process was a sham, Danny said. The public showed that it wanted to see a reduction in the cost of democracy and councillor Hackett saw no evidence that action had been taken. “Instead we have seen six scrutiny vice-chairmen appointed at a cost of £18,000 a year“ and a tree in the Watling Street foyer “which costs about £7,000 a year” to maintain.
Councillor Peter Reader (Conservative, Northumberland Heath) did nothing but blow the Tory trumpet. He was confident they were up to the task ahead and “this is a great borough to live in”. He spoiled what had been a reasonable and moderate speech by ending it with an attack on the Labour opposition party. “Labour had brought this country to its knees financially.” Councillor Reader spent sixty five seconds of his four minute speech attacking Labour and not a word from the useless mayor.
Councillor Edward Boateng (Labour, Erith) was concerned about the fly tipping, the cut backs to street cleaning and the rats on some of our our streets.
Councillor Endy Ezenwata (Labour, Thamesmead East) was not clearly recorded but I did pick up that hoped to be able to speak “without being slaughtered” but “I feel I cannot speak freely without being crucified.” He went on to be critical of the bin tax and suggested that councillor Gareth Bacon might be able to spare some of the £108,000 he takes from taxpayers.
Councillor Abena Oppong-Asare (Labour, Erith) spoke about the lack of affordable housing and the rapid rise in homelessness. Worrying though her statistics were, I did not detect any obvious reference to the budget proposals. The mayor must have been asleep, not even Tory jeering on hearing of the plight of the homeless disturbed him.
And now the highlight for today. What did the Labour hating, blog hating, woman hater have to say? Would he launch his speech with a party political nuclear bomb or would he behave as though he was worth £23,000 a year of Bexley taxpayers’ money?
Predictably, cabinet member Philp Read’s (Conservative, Northumberland Heath) first words were an attack on Labour. “They are nothing but a collection of slogans masquerading as a political party. They are floundering around in the political undergrowth with no ideas, no policies and no suggestions and I will come to councillor Ogundayo in a moment!”
“Investment is bringing considerable improvement [to children's services]” but Labour is “lacking in original thinking”.
He would “speak slowly” so that councillor Mabel Ogundayo (Labour, Thamesmead East) might “understand” his message “and take on board and perhaps learn that permanent staff are now up to over 60%”. “We all know that councillor Ogundayo is not particularly concerned about the truth and accuracy.”
Councillor Ogundayo objected (Standing Order 41) as well she might, citing personal defamation. She told the mayor that Read was not discussing the budget but making a personal attack on herself. “He sets a very bad example to the young people of Bexley.” (Why single out the young, Read is a bad example of everything imaginable.)
Read’s defence was that “some people who do not like what is said demonstrate that they are frit, frit, frit. Some people do not believe in free speech”. An odd comment coming from someone who reported a Bexley resident to the police in connection with a Tweet he imagined might be critical of Bexley council and who was one of several involved in a request that the police should arrest me for “criticising councillors”.
Read rounded off his tirade by another reference to the Labour party, it is “the party of high taxation”.
At no time did I hear the mayor admonish cabinet member Read for his constant digressions from the primary subject, but this is the same useless £24,000 mayor who sided with Read when he refused to answer a question at a council meeting because he doesn’t like him. Disgraceful.
Just over half way through the meeting now. How many more buffoons are yet to speak?