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Bonkers Blog March 2015

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11 March (Part 1) - Bexley’s budget. The facts and the fights

MasseyAfter councillor Craske’s flight of fantasy it was the turn of councillor Sharon Massey (Conservative, Danson). Her first words were “the Looney Left are alive and well in Bexley” and the second sentence included the words, “the Looney Left have returned. All she had heard was the politics of envy. Councillor Borella was on his usual hobby horse of criticising any woman”. Where did she get that from?

Councillor Borella rose to make an objection but the chairman didn’t want to hear it. Massey said that Stefano had been patronising. Apparently he had made a passing reference to the Home Secretary’s passion for shoes which nobody with any sense wrote down in order to deliver a pathetic feminist accusation. The mayor then allowed councillor Borella to defend his comment so long as it was kept brief.

Councillor Massey considered that the objection to her comment was a “rude interruption” and continued her diatribe about the politics of envy. Councillor Hackett was “sad” to have referred to Gareth Bacon running off with £108,000 of taxpayers’ money and it is “really sad that we cannot actually speak about the policies”. A fine example she is!

She said that council tax had been frozen for six years when everyone else had been saying five and she objected to the term ‘bin tax’. She complained that Labour had suggested “it was the youth of today who caused vandalism in Danson Park”. The police, who she had met, had not referred to youths being responsible. “It is certainly not the youth of Bexley in there.”

Councillor Ferreira was next on Massey’s hit list. “You cannot blame the council because people are getting fat.” (Councillor Ferreira had linked playground closures with obesity.) Sharon said “that if people are getting fat they need to exercise more and eat less”. The food banks will be serving a useful purpose then.

“Honestly Mr. Mayor it has been a sad night for politics in Bexley.” True, and councillor Sharon Massey had done nothing whatsoever to alleviate it.

Councillor John Husband (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) who has been an economist for a financial newspaper, objected to the “financial illiteracy shown here tonight”. Gareth Bacon had blamed the Labour party for the present financial situation but “there are books in the library which fully explain who was responsible. The world economy had almost collapsed because bankers and financiers around the world were”, and we shall never know because his voice tailed off into inaudibility. However by 2008 the Labour government had reduced the national debt to a 100 year low, at which point mayor Marriner decided he had heard enough expert opinion and shut him up.

No moneyCouncillor June Slaughter (Conservative, Sidcup) stood next and my hopes for some relief from political mud slinging were immediately dashed. Her first words were “I hope you will forgive me if I wonder what parallel universe members like Danny Hackett inhabit”. The parallel universe is better known as the North of the borough. “Members on this side will not take any lessons in financial management from a party that left saying there was no money.”

“It was wholly reasonable that taxpayers should pay for the services which they choose to use. An awful lot of nonsense has been talked about the garden waste service”.

My turn for nonsense… Yes June, I agree but the fact remains I will not be alone in paying more than 5% extra to Bexley in the coming year than in the current one and whether you call it a tax or a charge, your administration has made a service cut and there are no winners.

Like all your fellow members you appear to have forgotten that the charge is introduced at a time when processing costs have fallen by £444,000 a year (your council’s figures). No one wants to mention that in case voters think the council is both having and eating its cake and guilty of deliberate misrepresentation.

At least a 5% increase is a lot less than the 33% imposed on those on benefits, another thing your party is keeping very quiet about.

Councillor Slaughter was a bit of a let down as a source of insults and soon returned to her seat.

DowningAlan Downing (Conservative, St. Mary’s) was next, surely the pen jabber could do better? Libraries were his theme. “Labour had not read the paper work. We are offering six core libraries. Libraries are not somewhere you go to borrow a book, they are the hub of the community.” When Labour members murmured discontent Downing told them to “shut up and please be quiet“. The chairman remained mute.

Getting into his stride, Downing said Labour “spoke nonsense”. “Who closed two libraries when they were in office?” he said referring to “the members over there”. It turned out that the two libraries were North Cray and Picardy Street, Belvedere and it was the Conservatives who had closed them. Labour was only responsible for a closure in Barnehurst. Councillor Seán Newman remembered the two mobile libraries withdrawn on the same day bringing the Tory score to four.

Downing said he would carry on. He said that Labour had closed both Barnehurst and Blackfen libraries and realising he was making another big mistake, promptly said he would “leave libraries there” which is precisely what he is not going to do in Blackfen.

He moved on to obesity which is “a serious problem” and referring once again to members “over there” asked, ”Who sold off the school fields?” and complained about the blocks of flats built in their place.

Isn’t that exactly what his party wants to do in Old Manor Way and Old Farm Avenue? He objected to Labour’s criticism of the £18,000 bonus being handed out to Tory vice-chairmen this year and claimed that Labour in office had done the same thing. Downing was trying to have things both ways. Labour was wrong to award themselves extra allowances but Conservatives are right when they do it.

In his final moments he said that Labour members were not even able to read properly from their own notes. Another case of the pot calling the kettle black and another mute and worthless chairman.

Councillor Alex Sawyer (Conservative, St. Mary’s) was invited to speak next. Surely this would be the end of small minded squabbles? But no, not entirely. Councillor Downing’s lack lustre and largely inaccurate speech on libraries came in for early praise. “Community libraries are the beating heart of a local community”.

“If a community group does not come forward or their business plan does not stack up, the reality is that libraries will close.”

Councillor Amaning’s point about the practice of leaving parks open at night was rubbished because councillor Sawyer had seen people get in while they were locked. (There are burglars in town so you may as well leave your front door open.) He accepted that the vandalism had been “very serious”. Apart from the cases of arson memorial benches had been smashed.

The selling of some parks and open spaces was a good thing because it would allow the others to remain open. What happens when that money runs out was not explained. Not selling them was “a recipe for disaster”. Protest groups give up now!

The Splash Park barely got a mention but “Bexley is better under the Conservatives” and on that high note it is time to leave Bexley’s budget for another day.


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