Although we know that Bexley’s Council Tax increases for 2017/18 will be 3·99% because no one ever successfully argues with Cabinet decisions, it’s not until tomorrow’s Full Council meeting that it will be endorsed by a huge majority of Councillors.
However getting to the vote will not be all plain sailing, the Tories have been setting up their usual man trap for Labour for several months but this time with even more pre-preparation. It has been obvious at every recent Scrutiny meeting and Councillor Craske has been furiously Tweeting about it for a couple of weeks.
Recently the Tories went on line to reinforce the strategy.
Their web page is a bit cleverer than usual, it doesn’t contain any obvious lies for me to pick apart. But it’s far from being entirely honest.
The political ploy within the budget strategy is to make big cuts but sweeten the pill with a few relatively inexpensive improvements some of which are no more than cancelling previously announced cuts.
From my right of centre view point it looks like the usual politicking about which there is little to complain about but it puts the opposition in an impossible position.
They will want to vote against swinging cuts in the Adults’ Social Care budget (respite care, parks maintenance, street cleaning, recycling, CCTV, where does one stop?) but to do so they will have to vote against a handful of saplings and the reversion to the original higher street cleaning budget. When Labour does so, and I am guessing that will happen, the Tories will publish a list of Councillors who voted against the trees and their Green Mean Street Cleaning Machine. It will look bad but it hides the whole truth.
It’s definitely a clever strategy by the Tory spin doctors but equally definitely it is an attempt to dupe the people of Bexley. Generally speaking it is not Bexley’s policies that I take great exception to; it’s Bexley Council’s constant deception and occasional criminal behaviour. Goodness knows why they feel the need to tread that path because a no dishonesty policy would quickly lead to the demise of BiB. Ultimately the policies are for the electorate to judge but no one else is currently attempting to pass on news about Bexley Council. The local newspapers do no more than regurgitate Press Releases and Twitter.
Tomorrow evening’s meeting will likely produce verbal fireworks.
You can be sure that the Mayor will be her usual schizophrenic self, cutting opposition Members short and letting Tories speak well beyond the allotted time. Being Mayor brings out the worst in even the most decent of Councillors. Pretty well every one follows that pattern. I am tempted to quote examples but won’t because they were probably only following instructions. Underneath there was a decent enough bloke struggling to be let out. I say blokes because all female Mayor’s have been far from decent anything.
Another thing Mayor Eileen Pallen is likely to do is to reinterpret the Constitution on the hoof. She blatantly did so at the last Full Council meeting.
Meanwhile you will get Councillors Read and Leaf throwing personal insults at the opposition and probably Councillors Craske, Davey and Sharon Massey joining in.
It will be interesting to see how Labour reacts this time or even if they are able to react. To speak they have to catch the eye of the Mayor and there is none so blind as those who refuse to see.