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Bonkers Blog April 2011

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30 April - Bexley Conservatives. Panic and desperation

When I attend a council meeting I go with a notebook and up to six colleagues some of whom take their own notes. Any councillor who stands out by virtue of idiocy or unexpected wisdom is likely to get a mention here a few hours later. Two councillors who have never strayed beyond the middle ground are Seán Newman (Labour, Belvedere) and Margaret O’Neill (Labour, Erith), so their names have not appeared on the Bonkers Blog before. What’s changed? What have they done now to warrant inclusion? Err… nothing actually, but they are both the victims of totally unwarranted Conservative party slurs.

At last Wednesday’s extraordinary council meeting to discuss where the new Civic Centre should be the Labour representatives were the only ones to put forward the case for the Erith site. In doing so Seán Newman pointed out that the Erith site had very good rail connections. There is a ten minute interval service which would allow leader Teresa O’Neill to be in Boris Johnson’s office in 40 minutes and a half hourly service in the other direction if councillor Craske feels the urge to screw up Sidcup again. Seán said that by contrast Bexleyheath didn’t really have its own railway station and Barnehurst station was closer. It was a clear reference to Bexleyheath’s station being less than ideally placed for the town’s centre. Google Maps confirms councillor Newman is right, 1·4 miles against only 0·8. It wasn’t worth reporting, non-controversial facts don’t generally get an airing here, there’s no room for verbatim accounts.

I try to be factual on Bonkers, I don’t believe readers would appreciate having their time wasted by blatant misinformation. How would you feel if I spun Seán Newman’s comments as…

Councillors were left stunned by an outburst from Labour Councillor Seán Newman when he claimed there was no railway station in Bexleyheath! The news will come as a huge shock to the thousands of commuters who use Bexley’s busiest train station every day.

Then, because at heart I am a Tory myself I could make something up so as to put the knife in and twist it.

Councillor Peter Craske commented, “Improving public transport is rightly a major concern for our residents and a key priority for Bexley Council, yet a Labour Councillor who doesn’t even know trains run to Bexleyheath.

It would be a total misrepresentation of the facts, there was no outburst, everything was calm, and it would probably reflect more badly on me than councillor Newman because who would be so gullible as to believe he doesn’t know there is a railway station close to where he lives? But Bexley’s Conservatives think you are that gullible because that is exactly what they have posted on their own website. Take a look for yourself; they may make things up, Bonkers doesn’t.

Bexley Conservatives don’t stop there; Labour councillor Margaret O’Neill spoke up for the Erith site too. She may have said that she had not seen it, someone on the Labour side of the chamber said that but I have no specific note about who it was. On the other hand I do have a note that a Conservative councillor said it wasn’t worth visiting the Erith site because it was just open space filled with trees and nothing much to see, while leader Teresa O’Neill said that she and councillor Linda Bailey had arranged an official tour and spent a morning there. I think the Conservative who said it wasn’t worth going was Katie Perrior (Blackfen & Lamorbey, £22,650) but again I didn’t note it as while it was a slightly amusing contrast between two Tories it was too trivial to be worthy of a report.

Councillor Margaret O’Neill said nothing else about the geographical location of the site; she probably said she hadn’t been in to explore it but neither had all the Tories. So how do the Conservative’s spin it on their website?

At the Extraordinary Meeting of the Council on 27th April, Labour Cllr Margaret O’Neill had no idea where the centre of Erith Ward was located and complained that Council Officers had not taken the time to give her a personal guided tour. O’Neill who has represented Erith Ward since it’s creation in 2002 then went on to support the building of swanky new offices for councillors in the centre of Erith, which she claimed to be confused about the exact location.

Except that an Erith councillor supported building in Erith - what else would you expect of an Erith councillor? - every word of that is a complete fabrication. Reporting idiocy is something I like to do; I have checked the notes of all my colleagues and no one has anything about Margaret O’Neill, she said her piece in an unremarkable way and if it were not for Tory lies she would not warrant a mention here.

Not content with attributing a totally untrue statement to Margaret O’Neill, Bexley Conservatives compounded their lies with more manufactured nonsense…

Cllr Colin Campbell, Cabinet Member responsible for the consolidation of Bexley’s property portfolio said: “It is an utter disgrace that the Labour councillors for Erith have no idea of the geography of the ward they have represented for many years. It is also unbelievable that they were then prepared to support a major redevelopment project with no idea of the location, and ignoring the fact that the cost of such a project would cost Bexley taxpayers millions in extra council tax. This shows that Labour in Bexley are a complete shambles and cannot be trusted with the borough finances”

No Colin, it shows no such thing because you made up almost every word of that and distorted the rest without a shred of supporting evidence. What it shows is that the Tories on Bexley council are running around like headless chickens not knowing what to do about the constant exposure of their dishonesty and maladministration by two local newspapers and two local bloggers who will no longer keep quiet in the face of a near daily affront to democracy. Is it any wonder that Bexley council has approved a new Constitution expressly designed to prevent residents from engaging in democracy in the way recommended by central government? i.e. No recording of council meetings. When you next read the words lie and Bexley council in the same sentence I hope you will accept that it doesn’t happen without good reason. They really are beyond the pale.


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