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Bonkers Blog October 2015

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2 October (Part 2) - Amateurs versus Pros

BinsBexley council doesn’t like amateurs even though in the derogatory sense of the word much of what it does is amateur. Is there any need to remind readers of the total mess they have made of recycling over the past month? I am still awaiting delivery of my food waste bin and the garden waste was not collected this morning. Probably the bin will now adorn the street for ever. It says it is the property of Bexley council so I shall leave it where it is until they take it away.

An example of not liking amateurs is Bexley’s plan to get rid of the Splash Park in Belvedere. Having been shown the stipulations laid down by the council for the band of volunteer splash park saviours, my verdict is that they are deliberately contrived to make sure ‘the amateurs’ have no chance.

Getting a charitable group together, raising funds, obtaining price quotes from equipment suppliers and having to submit a business plan in less than two months is probably asking the impossible of enthusiastic mums and dads with busy lives to run.

Something similar went on two years ago when Bexley council was intent on selling off as much of the Howbury Community Centre as possible.

It had been run very successfully for many years by a volunteer group known as Howbury Friends but cabinet member Don Massey was absolutely determined to hand over management to a totally different sort of friend. Another politician and allegedly a former Conservative election candidate.

RatedThe consortium of which he was part went by various names at the time, one of which was Eco Communities. The council claimed they were experienced in running community facilities and financially sound. They rated them well above Howbury Friends in the financial stakes. (See table.)

Howbury Friends had been raising up to £100,000 a year for eight solid years. The money financed local activities geared towards helping the disadvantaged and their children in and around Slade Green.

Bexley council ignored that amazing record. They also ignored Eco Communities’ amazing record which included a County Court Judgment against them and no money in the bank.

But they weren’t amateurs so that was alright. And they were political friends, so that was doubly alright.

Flat brokeWhere Howbury Friends had been charging a pound a session for their after school activities enabling working mums to work for longer, Eco Communities were looking for £8. It was a commercial enterprise, there were wages to pay and a profit to be made.

If all has been going well they should have plugged that £53,300 hole in their accounts by now.

Maybe they have but maybe they haven’t. Stories have been circulating about Eco Communities for the past three or four weeks.

FalseLike too many of the things that Bexley council would rather you didn’t know it can be hard to get at the facts.

Rumours are not good enough. If BiB is to avoid getting things wrong and acquiring the sort of reputation it could do without, documentary evidence is a must, or failing that, assurances that come from the heart of Bexley council and sources that experience has shown are not there to set traps with false information.

It has taken a while and the evidence comes only in the form of an assurance from a trusted source with official access to the guarded information. It is reported that Eco Communities has not paid its council tax and is £17,000 in arrears. This may of course be nothing more than forgetfulness and a muddle to do with charitable status but it nevertheless makes a mockery of Bexley council’s decision to choose ‘professionals’ over experienced amateurs.

My source mentioned unpaid utility bills too.


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