After being you know where all afternoon I contemplated not going to
Wednesday’s Full Council meeting but a quick look at the Agenda convinced me
that I should. The number one question of the evening was of the stomach
churning arse crawling variety so beloved by the least adequate of Tory Members.
Councillor Nigel Betts (Conservative, Falconwood & Welling) was going to ask Cabinet Member Peter Craske if a statement
allegedly made in 2014 by the Old Bexley and Sidcup Labour Party to the
effect that the 2014 library strategy would cause libraries “to become a thing of
the past” had proved to be correct.
That sort of staged question is exactly what you get when you elect a Councillor of Nigel Betts’ calibre.
Councillor Craske said that contrary to the situation elsewhere in the country Bexley had seen a 4% year on year increase in the number of library visits and a 5% increase in the number of items borrowed.
There had been a number of initiatives; 4,000 children had participated in last year’s reading challenge and it was being repeated this year with a space theme. Two book festivals had attracted more than 3,000 attendees each. There had been theatrical events, comedy nights, live music, a vinyl record club and quiz nights. We have refurbished libraries and added new things to them, museums and exhibition space. In Crayford there is a community space and a Post Office. Opening hours have been extended.
Although the Thamesmead library is currently in temporary accommodation pending a rebuild the number of members has increased by 10,000 in five years. A new library is to open in Sidcup too.
Councillor Craske finished by asking the Labour Party to apologise for their remarks.
Councillor Melvin Seymour’s question (Conservative, Crayford) was asked with similar intent. How many times were grass verges cut in 2016/17 and 2017/18? These are really profound and far reaching questions to top the bill at a Full Council meeting aren’t they?
Councillor Craske said that in 2016/17 nine cuts were made each year and a year later the number was increased to ten and it has remained at that level ever since. Unfortunately the Labour Mayor had slashed grass cutting alongside the TfL managed A2 to only two per year, he said with a certain amount of relish.
Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, Slade Green and North End) reminded the Cabinet Member that in 2015/16 the schedule dictated twelve cuts per year. Peter Craske admitted to “never being very good at maths at school” which presumably explains his insistence that changing from twelve to ten was an increase.
Labour Leader Daniel Francis asked the Cabinet Member for Education if he agreed that the Conservative Government’s refusal to fund the education of vulnerable children was an absolute disgrace”.
With commendable honesty Councillor John Fuller relied “yes I do”.