After making a complete pig’s ear of managing the debate on Councillor Brenda Langstead’s Motion on housing the Mayor must have been pleased to hand over to Teresa O’Neill for the Leader’s report.
Timing is everything!
would be fair to say the Leader’s report is usually delivered quickly and informatively and sometimes without
any political mud slinging - but not this time.
She began by congratulating Councillor Gareth Bacon on becoming a GLA Member, David Evenett and James Brokenshire on both becoming Secretaries of State in the new Government and former Councillor Katie Perrior working at No 10. “Isn’t it great to have so many people around the centre of Parliament who know all about Bexley”.
Given the number of web hits that come to BiB daily from the Palace of Westminster I suspect rather more Parliamentarians know about Bexley than the Leader might like.
The Leader said that the EU Referendum campaign was Project Fear but the St. Michael’s ward by-election campaign was “Project Porky Pies”. She said that the only positive message came from the Conservatives. (If they managed to squeeze something positive about any recent event their literature must have been very selective indeed.)
The Leader claimed that a rumour was started on the North End Labour website that the Council was going to sell St. Steven’s Park in Welling. (It spoke only of “local parks”, nothing specific, so who’s the porker now?) She also claimed that “a lady in a complete panic” had told her - now there’s a reliable source that would never get confused - that Labour had told her that only they would keep the street lights on.
Councillor Stefano Borella reminded the Leader that she was supposed to be summarising her written report and there was nothing in it about election literature. The Mayor brusquely dismissed his complaint.
The Leader said she felt entitled to report Labour’s “Porky Pies” to residents. She moved on to HMOs.
She said there could be “good reasons for HMOs. If they work well they serve a purpose”. However she said some “had become an issue in the last 18 months”. She said that other local authorities do not have Article 4 protection. “Certainly Greenwich hasn’t got one. Certainly Bromley hasn’t got one and as far as we are aware they have no intention of getting one. Bexley will have one in place in the very near future. We will [also] have a licensing scheme in place for small HMOs.”
“We are looking to bring in a scheme for Thamesmead and Erith to start off with.”
Councillor Sharon Massey welcomed the Leader’s comments and said that Councillor Borella had “mocked people living in rented accommodation”. I must have somehow missed his comment. I’ve heard him refer to out of borough Councillors who rent an accommodation address in Bexley; perhaps that is what Massey meant. Councillor Borella protested but Massey reacted aggressively and he wasn’t allowed to counter her nonsense.
Does anyone seriously believe that a Labour Councillor would mock people living in rented accomodation? Does anyone believe that Councillor Massey might be the one addicted to Porkies?
She was unhappy that people “behind a computer screen are inciting others to harass and make victims of people who come to Bexley seeking a place of safety”. She said that “we have got to make sure we are targeting the rogue landlord and not the honest legitimate landlord providing a purpose”, which is not what Cabinet Member Brad Smith had said earlier. He backed the Amended Motion because it would control both.
Councillor Massey then asked the Leader to comment on the situation at the Danson Youth Centre. The leader deftly passed that on to the Cabinet Member Philip Read who repeated his ‘Setting the Record Straight’ routine.
I was asked after the meeting to provide a transcript of what he said so I will be lazy and let you listen for yourself if you feel so inclined.
Councillor Read revealed that negotiations with the Danson Youth Trust had restarted.
Councillor Peter Reader (Conservative, Northumberland Heath) was concerned about the serious Anti-Social Behaviour that affected his ward. Cabinet Member Craske began his response by praising the work of the Community Safety Team which has presumably failed Councillor Reader’s residents or he would not have asked his question. “They have identified issues” he said, thereby confirming what Councillor Reader will have told them about already. “The police are on top of it and parents will receive letters. It is a difficult situation there but I think we are making progress although we could probably do a lot more.” There’s an admission!
When “problems arise like this we don’t just sit around saying there is a problem we find a way to get on top of it and it is a tremendous team we have at the Council and I thank the ward Councillors for raising this issue”.
How’s that for meaningless waffle and not a word about effectively closing down the CCTV system?
Councillor Daniel Francis (Labour, Belvedere) asked the Leader if she could discount the rumours coming from the Conservative side that she has ambitions to be a directly elected Mayor of Bexley. She said it was another Labour Porky Pie.
The Mayor asked Council Leader O’Neill to sum up. She said that the Conservatives have been in power for ten years and “still have a lot of steam”.
She highlighted the Bexley bridge which opened a bit earlier than planned (but which was totally closed for much longer) and the radiotherapy unit due to open at Sidcup Hospital, the first primarily due to the efforts of Transport for London and the latter the National Health Service.
Name me something that has been undisputedly improved in Bexley in the past ten years.