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News and Comment November 2010

Index: 201920202021

18 November - Democracy Bexley style

Last night’s full council meeting could very nearly be described as a civilised affair. Self-congratulatory, sycophantic, occasionally tedious, yes; but civilised - except for a couple of Conservative clowns who were intent on lowering the tone.

The meeting started with a long and somewhat repetitive petition by a resident of Christchurch Avenue, Erith who said that her road had become a dangerous rat-run for speeding lorries which had been involved in several accidents and demolished a few parked cars. Several councillors asked questions and 20 m.p.h. limits, speed humps and one-way systems were all discussed; one could sense another Craske inspired road fiasco looming but fortunately councillor Catterall was able to see the wood for the trees. He alone asked if the root of the problem was the constant queue of traffic at the recently installed roundabout at the end of Fraser Road and the consequent search for a short-cut by frustrated drivers. The petitioner agreed that it was. Do we really have only one councillor with sufficient intellect to analyse a simple problem?

The discussion disclosed that the ‘fish’ roundabout in Erith is to be extended but no details were forthcoming.

Next a Mr. Bryant asked if the awarding of a contract to the international transport consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff would result in a reduction in the council’s own transport staff - the people who design roundabouts that can’t be navigated and roads that are condemned by international experts. One would certainly hope so. But councillor Craske merely replied “No” because there was no contract. So either he lied last night or lied at an earlier meeting or the reports in local newspapers were all wrong. As his answer was so short, Craske found time to direct a stream of personal insults at Mr. Bryant designed to humiliate him. Craske earned himself well-deserved jeers from the audience. A clear case for the Standards Board I would have thought.

Another resident, Mike Barnbrook drew attention to the statement by the Minister for Communities, Eric Pickles, that councils didn’t need both a full time Leader and a Chief Executive. Bexley’s Leader merely said that the government Minister was wrong. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Mr. Pickles is informed of Teresa O’Neill’s opinion.

Next up was Nicholas Dowling with a question to Mr. Craske about his price hike for residents’ parking permits. Craske began with a cheap jibe directed at Mr. Dowling and then launched into a long lecture on the state of the country’s finances caused by the Labour Government. Well I think everyone knows all that, what we wanted to hear is why it costs £250 to issue (along with overheads) a single permit and what he was doing to bring those costs under control. But as is to be expected from this clown, he didn’t get near the heart of the matter. Filibustering was the only game he knew and the allotted time expired with Mr. Dowling’s question remaining unanswered. The brainless sheep, both Conservative and Labour, remained silent.

Bexley’s 280,000 residents are allowed a total of one whole hour per year to formally question councillors and they want to close down other avenues for questions. Nigel Bett’s attempt to crawl up councillor Campbell’s backside with a question about curtailing Freedom of Information requests was not asked for lack of time. Campbell was the only Conservative male member not wearing a tie. Rumour has it that it had been used for gagging or hanging the whistleblower who was abused by him this week.

Finally there was an interesting political debate on the parties’ approach to churches in the borough, especially the new ‘ethnic’ establishments. I’m not entering into that debate but it was noted that at one stage councillor Philip Reed launched into an attack on the Labour opposition and via some ill-judged musical metaphors called them rabble-rousers who had misled residents. Maybe the Christians and other religious groups in the borough will take note that Mr. Read believes them to be a rabble. While ranting Mr. Read failed to see that it was he who was trying to arouse a rabble and was guilty of committing every debating sin for which he was criticising councillor Ball and co. What a cretin!


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