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Bonkers Blog October 2011

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23 October - The money is running out

William Morris Fountain, BexleyheathLast week’s Bexley Times reported that the leader of Bromley council, Stephen Carr, let the cat out of the bag by announcing that he was looking at service mergers with Bexley beyond those which will see 35 library workers lose their jobs next January. Bexley council leader Teresa O’Neill had to admit that secret talks were going on. It reminds me just a little of her announcement this time last year when she said she was looking at reducing the number of councillors per ward from three to two, but we heard no more of that while Bromley got on with the necessary arrangements. However these latest announcements are more likely to go through; cutting councillor numbers affects the local government gravy train and cutting council staff is just a necessary evil that won’t affect the favoured few’s own lifestyles.

You could protect eight or ten council jobs by getting rid of the Chief Executive, or alternatively sharing a few of the top brass with another council. At a meeting last Friday, Bexley’s MP, James Brokenshire said that David Cameron lived in an area where the local council, West Oxfordshire, shared its two top posts with neighbouring Cotswold District Council. Mr. Brokenshire seemed to think that was a thoroughly good idea. Ms. O’Neill will likely prefer to slash more lowly jobs. Maybe she should start counting them before she goes any further. Bexley council’s website claims to have 2,000, 5000 and 8,000 (approx.) people working for it depending on which page you look at.

Bexley’s Budget Book does not make for pleasant reading. The fact that councillor Craske’s money making ‘hit the motorist’ schemes have resulted in reduced revenue is completely overshadowed by the way so many other things are going rapidly down the drain. Just one quotation gives a clue of things to come. “On the best projections of available resources and likely spending, the council will need to borrow in the order of £44m. over the next three years.” I thought the plan was to save £35 million in those three years but with accountants who believe in £3 million savings a year from recycling and £20,000 every single year from filling a historic fountain with soil, maybe we are.

Bexley council is still counting the fountain as one of the borough’s attractions on its website. Another is that the mayor’s name is Val Clark.


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