It seems like half a lifetime since the last Council meeting of note, but tomorrow Bexley Council
will hold a public meeting; nothing very controversial, it’s only the annual festival
of boozing and cake which celebrates the appointment, coronation, inauguration, anointment
even - whatever it’s called - of a new Mayor. It is going
to be Councillor Geraldene Lucia-Hennis so the year ahead may be a lot
more fun than the last one with a Bishop for a Mayor.
The problem with him, that is Councillor Brian Bishop in case you have forgotten, is that he got through his entire year as Mayor without deviating from his businesslike, professional and calm oversight of the job, and for a politician, commendably even handed decisions.
Where’s the entertainment value in that?
Councillor Lucia-Hennis promises so much more but whether her plans run to table dancers no one can be certain but we should perhaps expect the unexpected.
No one expected her to organise a strip show in a pub which did not have an entertainment licence; but she did. It even attracted the then Mayor Sharon Massey to its front row.
The event was excused by the then Chief Executive who said it “was neither a formal Council function, nor a Mayoral function” but a Freedom of Information request showed that to be not entirely true. The event warranted an entry in the Mayor’s diary. One might also ask why the Council made no attempt to penalise the Councillor for a blatant breach of licensing law.
A fun year may indeed lie ahead but I doubt very much that it can be better than 2010/2011. That was the year of Mayor Clark, Councillor Val Clark that is.
She had little idea of how to control a meeting although it can be said in her defence that since the coming of webcasting Councillors have been a lot less boisterous and less of a problem to inadequate Mayors.
Clark’s party trick was to claim that what she was doing in her Chairmanship role was entirely in accordance with the rulings of The Right Honourable Sir Walter Citrine in his famed reference book ‘ABC of Chairmanship’.
I had my own copy so I knew that most of what she said was hogwash.
My warmest memory of my formative years in and around the Bexley Council Chamber was reading a letter Mayor Clark sent to a member of the public. He had sat unmoved by her praise for someone or other and the letter to his home address complained about his "parsimonious appreciation".
The degree of silliness on display within Bexley Council may have reached its peak with the obscenities happily posted on line by a Cabinet Member but five to ten years ago it was widespread, someone must have decided to clean things up.
Another newcomer on display tomorrow will be the new Chief Executive Jackie Belton. The last time we had a new Chief Executive in Bexley she used her enormous intellect to declare war on the Press and me in particular - she sent me an email to announce her decision but not the local newspaper reporters. She decided that withdrawing the limited Press facilities that had been provided at Council meetings for many years was the right way to win friends and influence people.
I am quietly confident that we will not see such idiocy again. Life is so much more pleasant when new grounds for criticism are hard to come by.