Following his attack on councillor Mabel Ogundayo, councillor Philip Read revealed a new attack on care workers. He is “working to reduce the costs of agency staff”, as if minimum wage and no travel cost or time allowance is not low enough already.
He then couldn’t resist a final attack on Labour. “They increased council tax by 47% when they controlled the council” and precisely six minutes after he rose to his feet he sat down again. One minute in excess of his allotted time while Labour voices wondered where the 47% came from - as would anyone interested in the accurate reporting.
Councillor Esther Amaning’s (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) principal concern was open spaces and the failure to lock parks at night. There had been vandalism and there had as a result been no real saving. Open parks have encouraged delinquency and drug taking. Her reference to the loss of the Danson Festival was briefly interrupted by some Conservative members.
Councillor Gill MacDonald (Labour, Belvedere) immediately spoke of the Splash Park and its 100 year history as a water feature. A petition had been well supported but an unnamed Conservative candidate for Erith & Thamesmead was alleged to be more worried about Greenwich residents tripping over the border and clogging roads. Traders are concerned about the loss of trade, she said.
Councillor David Leaf’s (Conservative, Longlands) first words were the almost mandatory attack on Labour. He had listened to “the rot” and they are “deficit deniers” and are “ridiculous” and if they win the General Election they have vowed “to hit Bexley even harder because they don’t like Bexley”.
Leaf then shifted his focus to “compost” and Labour’s inability “to differentiate between a charge and a tax”. They wanted “people on modest incomes to pay for a non-statutory service”.
At least his reference to Labour’s 2002-2006 tax increases was more accurate than Read’s. 40% on a compound basis. Labour leader Alan Deadman was then singled out for a personal attack on his alleged failure to recognise the proper use of reserves and to be fully behind the council’s investment programme. Leaf asked “what the hell” was Alan Deadman, or maybe it was his colleagues too, “were doing in Local Government at all”.
A councillor whose name Leaf couldn’t remember (it was Danny Hackett) had “touched on the cost of democracy” but costs were “far lower than they were under Labour who had increased them by 33%. This administration has reduced costs below inflation. The party opposite is all talk and no action.”
Leaf’s speech ran for two seconds under the allotted five minutes and not one word addressed the budget proposals or indeed was anything other than an assault on Labour members. Not a word of rebuke from the dozy mayor.
Councillor Colin Tandy began by defending the bin tax which is not a tax. “Many councils had never collected garden waste but thanks to the financial illiteracy of the last Labour government we can’t afford to do it any more.” Tandy said Bexley is “asking the modest sum of £30 a month discounted by £7 a year” neatly demonstrating his own financial illiteracy. People who don’t want to pay should do as he does, “compost a lot of stuff on site or take it to the recycling centre”.
Turning his attention from residents with gardens to residents with children, the old duffer said “the Splash Park has got to go”.
A little late in the day compared to his fellow reprobates Tandy turned his attention to the Labour party. “Every Labour government or Labour council had left a trail of financial disaster, no question about that. It wasn’t city bankers who sold the country’s gold reserves at the lowest price it had ever been. That was Gordon Brown.” (To Labour cries of “rubbish”.) As a result, “things that we used to provide cannot be provided any more”.
The Splash Park has got to go.
Councillor Joe Ferreira (Labour, Erith) contrasted the sell off of parks with
the council’s obesity strategy. “One in four of Year 6 pupils are obese. The
party opposite calls them fat.” Joe specifically mentioned the proposed
Old Manor Way playground.“ The cuts will cost more in the long run.”
Joe Ferreira queried some of the assumptions made in the budget. “What if some of our contracts can’t be renegotiated?”
Councillor Nigel Betts (Conservative, Falconwood & Welling ) told us that his barber thought that the bin charge was a good idea and he himself didn’t think it “was going to be a big difficult thing that the opposition make it out to be. Residents in my ward will thank us.” And with commendable brevity and absence of malice he returned to his seat.
Next out of his was councillor Peter Craske (Conservative, Blackfen & Lamorbey). He was at pains to say that Labour had increased costs by 36% and not the 33 to which councillor Leaf had referred. Petty or what?
It is “genuinely surprising that this Labour lot have failed to come up with a single budget proposal. It is as if they are still being guided by their previous finance spokesman [Munir Malik] who told us he was a financial expert and a chartered accountant. As we know he was neither”.
“We gave 140 days notice of our budget proposals and Labour has been silent. Silence on the Splash Park, silence on the libraries, silence on housing.” With a reference to Doctor Who he compared Labour with an alien creature. “They appear from nowhere, you forget they existed, they don‘t speak, they don’t like noise but all of a sudden they creep up behind you and whack up your council tax 40%.”
“After 140 days of silence, Labour has not come up with a single idea.”