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News and Comment June 2020

Index: 2020

12 June (Part 1) - Financial rumours and speculation

Bexley Council doesn’t want to tell you how difficult their financial position is, but it will definitely be poor. Reduced parking revenue, Business Rates and Council Tax flow disrupted etc. Government encouraging workers to stay at home drawing close to full pay (for all but the highest earners) who will in turn be spending a lot less. No eating out, no holidays, no haircuts. Financial dilemmas tinged with madness everywhere.

To compound the problem far too many school teachers who are clearly far more vulnerable to disease than a front line nurse are doing their bit to wreck the economy. The government has done far too good a job of scaring the population witless and is now in headless chicken mode changing the rules on a whim. A vicar told me this morning that she is permitted to open her church again tomorrow with no prior warning to make suitable arrangements although I am inclined to think we have had twelve weeks to think about that.

A professional person told me earlier in the week that no one can work or go about their daily business in what was a normal manner until we are all vaccinated. With that attitude we are all doomed. It’s not impossible that a vaccine will never come. Personally I just “Stay Alert”, be careful and do whatever seems sensible or essential. Please don’t call me Dominic Cummins!

Yesterday I was on the Underground for the first time since 13th March, mask in back pocket. I would have been alone if it was not for the Eastern European beggar. No wonder TfL and Councils generally are broke.

Which takes me back to Bexley.

We know that Councillors were briefed by the Chief Executive on Wednesday evening but how did they react?

The gossip machine says that the Finance Director was given a hard time by Tory Councillors. Maybe they are apprehensive of how he might manage the situation after reading about what happened in Barnet and Newham.

The rumour mill says that Sue Gower, Cheryl Bacon, Richard Diment, Alan Downing and Nigel Betts were all on the warpath which suggests, there being so many in unison, that they had been given the nod and a wink by the Leadership. When things began to get out of hand with the odd dissenter, the Leader closed the meeting.

While the Bexley documents that came my way two days ago showed a forty odd million problem, Lewisham Council is talking about more than 62 million. The difference with Bexley is not just the figures but the fact that Lewisham’s figures were made public. Having thrown so much borrowed money down the black hole that is BexleyCo, Bexley cannot be anything but in deep trouble. Informants say that the Chief Executive makes no secret of the fact that there will be big job losses.

The usual batch of anonymous emails say that the Finance Director and Chief Executive have not only not made any figures public they didn’t tell their departmental staff either. Who knows? There is clearly a lot of dissatisfaction there. They suggest that far too much money has been spent on Golden Goodbyes for the top brass. Top brass who quickly take highly paid positions in other Councils presumably.


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