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Bonkers Blog July 2017

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24 July (Part 2) - The one time Bexley Council listened to residents - and the result won it an award

When people say that Bexley Council never takes any notice of what residents say, so why bother with consultations and petitions and deputations, I usually point out the one exception over the past eight years.

In 2013 the then Cabinet Member for Leisure and wotnot, Councillor Don Massey, planned to move Bexley’s historical archive across to Bromley to save £41,000. You can read all about it here.

Those without cars or prepared to pay the bus fare could take a jump.

Penny Duggan, Secretary of Bexley Historical Society, was having none of that. She put together a 3,251 signature petition and worked out how the £41,000 could be saved and still keep the archive accessible to Bexley residents.

Councillor Philip Read put money before people and was keen to persist with the transfer to Bromley but the Labour leader, Chris Ball, posed an awkward question. “Had an Equalities Impact Assessment been done?”

Councillor Massey said that the £41k. saving was mostly from staff costs and the Equalities Assessment was all done. Chris Ball asked to see it. Council Leader Teresa O’Neill said he couldn’t. Why not? Because it had not been done! It was enough to see the decision deferred until January.

Bexley TimesThree months later, Penny Duggan triumphed. Bexley Council couldn’t fault her plan and threw in the towel. Bexley’s archives stayed in the Central Library.

Four years later and they are award winning. Cabinet Member Peter Craske is claiming the credit.

For his next trick he is going to open a museum in the Library. Maybe Bexley Council should listen to its residents more often.


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