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of the consistently interesting bits of a Full Council meeting is the Leader’s
report. It is of course an opportunity for self-aggrandisement but it usually
has a basis in truth, this time Teresa O’Neill said her report “is re-eee-ally good” and that she
particularly wanted to concentrate on the budget and the growth agenda.
Councillor O’Neill said that residents had written to her to thank her for only raising Council Tax by 3·99%. She claimed to have also had favourable letters about the installation of LED street lights.
Morley’s had moved into Bexleyheath and Selco to Crayford which was “absolutely fantastic”.
On growth she said it had to be the right sort of growth and the Chief Executive and her Assistant had taken themselves off on a jolly to Cannes to learn how to achieve it. It led to the Council entertaining 100 investors to show them the borough.
The Leader repeated that transport infrastructure was all important and a Crossrail extension especially so. Like everyone else she lamented Southeastern’s proposal to reduce still further the inadequate train service currently on offer.
Councillor Brenda Langstead (Labour, North End) asked the Leader if the Growth Strategy made provision for homes affordable by those on the minimum wage or does she agree with her colleague (an unnamed male Councillor) who had said “these people should get better jobs”?
The Leader replied with the delightfully non-specific “we want a mix of housing that will accommodate anybody”.
As already reported, Councillor Borella (Labour, North End) put in a plea for churches affected by the seven day parking restrictions soon to be rolled out across shopping centres.
Councillor Sybil Camsey (Conservative, Brampton) asked the Leader if she felt we should be proud of Acorns, a new children's care facility, with which Councillor Camsey was closely associated. The Leader kindly (and metaphorically) patted her on the head and said she could go to the top of the class.
Councillor Louie French (Conservative, Falconwood & Welling) was critical of the state of the Public Realm in Blackfen and Cabinet Member Linda Bailey offered some hope for improvements including more chargeable parking bays.
Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Old Bexley and Sidcup, Councillor Danny Hackett referred to the improvements planned for Harrow Manorway and enquired about an official opening for Lesnes Abbey park which now boasted a a coffee shop.
The Leader congratulated him on being the only Councillor who turned up (†) at a recent presentation about Harrow Manorway and she said that if there is an official opening for Lesnes Abbey, Councillor Craske would tell him about it.
Councillor Abena Oppong-Asare (Labour, Erith) spoke in support of her residents who get a very bad deal from Southeastern trains. She asked that the Council should lobby the Transport Secretary who had been “playing politics” with the Southeastern franchise. The borough’s Labour MP had done so, she expected the same from the other two.
The Leader said she knew exactly where Councillor Oppong-Asare was coming from and Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer had written to the Department “but I [Alex] do not know if I will [get a reply] to be honest with you”.
At that point the session ran out of time.
† The Leader subsequently corrected herself, Councillor Seymour had also attended the presentation.