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News and Comment July 2015

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1 July (Part 1) - The Listening council or maybe a cornered council

The main event at last night’s Places Scrutiny Committee meeting was the presentation of the petition in support of the Save Old Manor Way Playground campaign. It was admirably fronted by campaigner Lauran Allam and met with a remarkable amount of support from both ward councillors and those from further afield.

CraskeCouncillor John Waters’ interest in park attendance levels was not well received by members of the public but I believe it was well intentioned and he was unfairly maligned. All of that will be reported in more detail another day but the responsible cabinet member, a hopefully reformed Peter Craske, then extracted a rabbit from his hat in the form of a beautifully executed stage managed request.

He said he had studied the issues carefully and had already decided what his recommendation to Cabinet would be. He asked chairman Melvin Seymour for permission to announce what that recommendation would be. It was to remove Old Manor Way playground from the list of parks and open spaces for sale. He did spoil it somewhat by stating that its removal means “another has to be found” but that bridge can be crossed further down the road.

It must be unprecedented for councillor Craske to provoke anything other than jeers in the council chamber and he probably blushed at the cheers that erupted behind him; but how would one tell?

A recommendation to remove Old Manor Way from the list is of course no more than that but I cannot imagine Craske would be stupid enough to make that announcement without clearing the ground before him.

So good news for Old Manor Way and in line with my prediction last week.

And now for the bad news.

With the decision to replace the equipment destroyed at Lesnes Abbey due to go public in the immediate future and with it more than £100,00 taken unexpectedly from the budget, the outlook for the Splash Park must surely be bleaker than ever. Remaining hopes probably lie with commercial operation.

Given teenagers’ tendency to brag about their ‘achievements’ it is surprising that tongues have not wagged more quickly but the police officer who I spoke to on Sunday indicated that things were afoot. It might have helped if Bexley council had offered a reward for information leading to a conviction. £500 would seem like a fortune to a scallywag with a conscience.

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