The leader’s quarterly report to
Full Council does not usually get much of a mention
here. It generally runs to around a score of A4 pages and Teresa O’Neill does us the
favour of not reading it all. A quick summary and she sits down and takes questions.
This time I couldn’t help noticing how much of what was reported was not strictly true.
It started well enough with approximately three pages out of 18 devoted to schools and education and the achievements of young people. Maybe that has something to do with education being run by a cabinet member who doesn’t believe that his first priority is criticising members of the public and throwing metaphorical brickbats at the opposition parties. Cabinet members Craske, Massey and Read could take lessons; all of them have been guilty at one time or another.
As we all know, the work at Bexley Lane was not designed to a sufficiently high standard.
Maybe no one told their Dear Leader.
Moving into the barren wastelands of the North, another place of which the Leader knows very little, she gave the impression that the Crossrail related work in Felixstowe and Gayton Roads was complete.
The council leader said there had been meetings with other councils to gather support for a Crossrail extension to Ebbsfleet.
I had no idea the realignment was completed so I went to take another look. As you can see, it is complete in the sense that vehicles can drive through but both roads are a long way from being back to normal.
What else did the OBE (Optimism. Bravado. Exaggeration.) say?
Oh, yes. There had been 130 responses to the Wilton Road consultation.
I made contact with the boss of the company appointed to make the plans for Wilton Road and she confirmed that 222 people filled in her forms and there was more comment on the web. So where did 130 come from?
Perhaps it was to make Bexley’s miserable 333 response borough wide consultation look a little bit better.
There was a little bit of news about the brown bin fiasco and an admission that things did not go entirely according to plan.
I have some sympathy with the position the council found itself in. Other councils had not fared particularly well with take up but Bexley was setting a much lower price. Maybe a survey of some sort would have helped refine their best guesses.
My only real complaint is that last February’s debate on the issue revolved around the likely take up rate. There were some rather acrimonious exchanges and some dubious arithmetic all based on the council’s assumption that 40% of households would sign up.
40% is just over 30,000 so why is a 31,000 take up being proffered as the principal excuse for the less than perfect transition from a free service to one which for most people equates to a 3% council tax increase?
Another of the leader’s claims which was somewhat optimistic concerned the Lesnes Abbey tower and play slide.
It may have been replaced but it shows no sign of being the focal point of anyone’s attention as the scene from Wednesday confirms. Nothing has changed since then.
And finally the leader said that the sale of Old Farm Park will be up for discussion at the Public Cabinet meeting on 17th November. Hardly worth the effort of attending, I think I know already what is going to happen there.