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Bonkers Blog June 2011

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4 June (Part 2) - Taking lessons from Joseph

Graham Holland, Freeman of the City of London, the voice of experienceIt is unfortunate that the Bexleyheath Chronicle’s website has been down all week and not only because it cost me 40 pence to buy a copy instead, but it will have prevented some people reading more revelations about Bexley council. The Sidcup edition tells how they spent £25 on sending out a one penny bill, but that’s a long way from being the best bit for all connoisseurs of Bexley’s idiocy. No that’s the wrong word, it’s beyond idiocy, it is premeditated dishonesty.

A letter from Graham Holland totally demolishes the well heeled Katie Perrior for implying she was a poor single mum who was eking out a meagre existence on her paltry councillor’s allowance of more than £22,000. Graham knows a thing or two about being a councillor, what it entails and the benefits that the position provides, for Graham was one until 2003.

Graham however fell into disfavour among his fellow Bexley Tories because he did what used to be commonplace, he didn’t claim his allowances. That is anathema among the new breed and they looked for a way of getting him out. They found one when he slipped two months behind with his council tax payment, and so it was bye-bye Graham. Out he went with the words “the attitude you’ve taken towards your finances in no way fits your position as a caring and responsible councillor” ringing in his ears and 24 years of unstinting cost free service to the community counting for nothing.

It was hardly the crime of the century, doesn’t really compare with “the attitude towards finances” displayed by two current councillors who do claim every last penny of their allowances but managed to sink their own non-ABTA registered travel business, but there you are, if Bexley council doesn’t like being shown up they will stoop as low as it takes.

Councillor Chris Taylor, Assistant at the Greater London Assembly, the mouthpiece of his benefactorAfter Katie came a cropper in last month’s Chronicle and was demolished in this, you’d think councillors might be more careful in what they write, but casting caution to the wind councillor Chris Taylor writes two letters! I’ve made no secret that after seeing Taylor perform at council meetings I regard him as a snivelling little twerp but I accept I may be alone in that view because leader Teresa O’Neill who controls these matters awarded him a fat consolation prize of £8,802 last month which may explain why he is praising her every word on Page 9.

He repeats her announcement that “Bexley now has one of the lowest council tax rates per household in outer London. This is not an accident but the result of hard work by the Conservatives.” All good stuff if it were true, Bexley comes 25th out of the 32 boroughs and occupies a middling position in the bottom half of the outer boroughs. O’Neill and Taylor seem to subscribe to the Joseph Goebbels school of propaganda. Tell a lie often enough and some mug will believe it.

Elsewhere in the Chronicle Taylor is allowed to peddle more nonsense. “Labour commits to increase council tax by 3·5%, every year!” I was at that meeting and Labour didn’t commit to anything of the sort. They were clearly disappointed that the Erith option was strangled at birth - no debate, little comment - but they didn’t commit tax payers to anything. One could argue that it is the Conservatives who have committed us to higher taxes by choosing to go to the Woolwich, the option to stay put and rebuild on the present site was cheaper but that got scant mention too. Only the Woolwich got a look-in, the option that allows Tesco to wave their cheque book.

The council admits to having to spend £36 million on refurbishing the Woolwich building and a civil engineer who has nosed around the site reported that it is in a pretty awful state, and despite the Tory claim that the net cost is nothing, they say they don’t know what Tesco might pay for the present council site. So that could just be a guess.

Another thing that the Tories won’t want to admit to is that £36 million spent on the Woolwich building will make it fit for the next 40 years. What they won’t want to be reminded of is that the council officer presenting the facts of the choices available said the £43 million needed for a bespoke building in Erith would see us through the next 55 to 60 years. Who is it committing us to most future expenditure, Tories or Labour? It would take only five years worth of councillors allowances and a little bit trimmed off the top brass’s pay and our grandchildren will be spared a big bill in 40 years time. But that wouldn’t pay for Katie Perrior’s child minder would it?

Chris Taylor finishes his simpering eulogy to his dear leader with the words “It reminds us clearly why council tax increased by 40% when they ran our council”. What I want to know is this…

Labour put up our taxes by 40% in a very short space of time, no arguments there, but this council has continued to collect that extra money for the last five years and still contrived higher than London average rises until 2010. If Labour are such senseless wastrels and the Tories such brilliant financial wizards why haven’t they been able to give some of that money back? If Labour was wasting the money, the present useless crew must be wasting it too.

I think newspaper editors choose to publish letters from numbskulls because they provide so much scope for filling future column inches. Come on Graham, take the little twerp down a peg or two.


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