Mrs Slaughter and
the UKIP contingent were not the only councillors to pull
apart the cabinet’s plan to sell Old Farm Park and after the Tory groans had
subsided councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, North End) took the stage.
He reiterated the point that has been made here several times. The Tories have controlled Bexley for almost ten years and the country for more than five. If the financial situation is getting ever worse the culprits must be fairly obvious.
“The leader may have won the election…
Hear the council leader’s Objectionable Bragging Explanation.
…but the sale of green spaces was not in her manifesto. If she had been
honest the election result may have been different.” (Shortened version.)
Councillor Borella attacked Bexley council’s record on consultations, they are always “dismissive” and “will always ignore the residents’ views”. He doubted whether any proceeds of a sale would be invested across the borough. In his ward the neglect was such that voluntary organisations had to step in.
“It is very clear from councillor June Slaughter’s comment that she is not a great fan of councillor Craske, maybe he should consider his position, it appears that he is annoying residents but I will say this, three Conservative ward councillors in Sidcup did vote for these proposals. It is worth noting they have voted for this already.” (Dear Stef, surely you cannot have forgotten that councillor Craske’s raison d’être is annoying residents? His phone line didn’t spew out obscenities in 2011 because he respected them.)
Daniel Francis (Labour, Belvedere) said that “selling part of your garden” was the last thing a householder would do and he wondered why the sale of parks wasn’t further down the savings list. Come on Daniel, it’s to get it out of the way before the next round of elections, you know that.
He asked three questions…
1) Was there a guarantee that the £710,000 income derived from the proceeds of sales would continue to be spent on non-statutory park maintenance after the 2018 election bearing in mind the increased budget pressures further down the line?
2) Referring to the intention that the General Purposes Committee takes the final decision; in the event that any of the four sites achieves a sale price in excess of £3 million would the Council’s Corporate Plan which requires a decision by all 63 councillors be followed or ignored?
3) Two of the four plots of land (Wilde Road) being considered were ‘planning gain’ following a deal done 15 years ago. A benefit to residents to compensate for an unpopular planning decision. Now they are to be sold. What assurance do the residents have that the same will not happen at Old Farm Park?
Councillor Francis was rewarded with enthusiastic applause. He was reassured on question two but no one got anywhere near to answering questions one and three. Not even a reference to them and once again the omission was picked up by nobody at all. You may safely assume that if the Tories are still in power they will do the dirty on residents. What’s new?
From that low point the meeting went steeply down hill for councillor David Leaf was invited to speak. Who could have elected such a useless individual? Ah yes, the blue rinsed of Longlands.
Leaf accused all the previous speakers of “grandstanding”. None of them “had put forward any credible proposals”. “UKIP’s proposal was astonishing. That is why so few people vote for them.”
The only thing astonishing about it was that it caught out his colleague Linda Bailey who doesn’t know who owns what. Leaf accused the previous Labour administration of proposing the sale of Riverside Gardens in Erith which if true was clearly not their finest hour, but he forgot to mention that the Conservatives were still pursuing that plan with gusto until 2011. Leaf is not only dim but he can be disingenuous too.
Labour, he said were “grandstanding hypocrites” which in terms of pot and kettle would be difficult to beat. After waffling on for a couple more minutes he returned to his “grandstanding” allegation and claimed “the parties opposite were a disgrace” and he did not understand “their sheer audacity in criticising the decisions this party is making”. David Leaf hasn’t got much idea of how politics works has he? His was a performance that would disgrace a school debating society.
Councillor Peter Reader (Conservative, Northumberland Heath) said two of the plots of land were in his ward and were grossly underused. It was barely relevant to the main issue of Old Farm Park but compared to the speaker who preceded him his brief comments appeared almost statesmanlike.
So the cabinet voted unanimously in favour of progressing the sale. I don’t think councillor leader O’Neill even bothered to look up.