was stand up, sit down, stand up again as the new mayor failed to make an
appearance on time. Trouble adjusting his chains I expect. I assume we are
supposed to stand up out of respect for the office, surely it cannot be for the
incumbent clown. If you are in need of mild amusement during the initial
proceedings listen to the chaplain praying for wisdom and good decision
making, what follows must test his own faith to the limit.
Clowning Downing went through the usual rigmarole about no one being allowed to record his mistakes and if there is a fire we are to exit via the rear door into the car park. No one ever explains where we are to go if the seat of the fire is in the rear passageway and the back door is inaccessible. After that the Clown said everyone was to treat everyone else with courtesy and respect. Some hope: he doesn’t so why should I?
As already noted, ex-cabinet member Peter Harold Craske did not make an appearance, did not sign the attendance register, did not send his apologies and nobody noted his absence when the mayor asked if there were any more absentees. Nobody that is apart from some members of the public who called out “where’s Craske?”.
Within seconds of the meeting commencing the first Downing inspired cock-up occurred. It is hard to say exactly what happened but councillor Stefano Borella (Labour) stood up with a proposal that… and that is as far as things got because the chain entangled clown on the top table told him to sit down again. Apparently his sin was not putting up his hand first, so Stefano dutifully went through a Jack in the Box routine sticking up his paw at the appropriate moment. Thus the Clown’s massive ego and miniscule intellect was satisfied and councillor Borella was allowed to suggest another Labour member, Seán Newman, be allowed to join the library committee, whatever that may be, to allow a measure of “cross party representation”.
Councillor Munir Malik seconded and then the mayor‘s brain belatedly kicked in and everything came to a grinding halt. He had muddled two Agenda items and he wasn’t where he thought he was. We had to start again on some other subject. When councillor Borella eventually got back to his theme it was inevitably thrown out unanimously by the Conservatives who don’t like the idea of Labourites being given the opportunity to rock their cosy little boat.
There was then a deputation by the residents of County Gate (Longlands ward), the narrow road that is chosen by those using Sat Nav to leave the A2 near the border with Eltham. The deputation was presented by Mrs. Dakshy (or Mrs. Darkshy according to the mayor) who was featured in last week’s News Shopper. She did a first rate job of exposing the dishonesty of Bexley council and illustrated why I have so often found it necessary to use the words ‘vindictive’ and ‘spiteful’ to describe their default position.
The details of the complaint were provided last year. Councillor Peter Craske blamed Greenwich council for the problems and got himself plastered all over the News Shopper’s front page for his pains (29 June 2011). This time it was revealed that Craske had earlier threatened to order all his officers to abandon County Gate if Mrs. Dakshy or her supporters dared to criticise him. Makes you think that Craske might be behind my Harassment Letter and the obscene blog if that is how he reacts to criticism - what a disreputable individual he is.
Because of Craske’s lack of interest Mrs. Dakshy went to the Labour Party for help, I had wondered how it was that councillor Malik was involved when the issue first came to light a year ago. This time she was sponsored by Seán Newman. Mrs. D. went on to reveal that she had become a member of the Labour Party which provoked a loud outbreak of desk thumping and jeering by the Conservative morons present. The geriatric mayor had already forgotten his plea for courtesy and respect so sat there grinning like the idiot he undoubtedly is.
Councillor Mike Slaughter (Longlands) said that a while ago he canvassed every house in County Gate, for exactly what purpose he didn’t say, and was immediately met with a chorus of disbelief. All the residents present insisted that he had not knocked on their door. Councillor Gillespie (Longlands) said that since the Labour Party began to sponsor the issue no one had bothered to complain to ward councillors. Mrs. Dakshy said he had been copied in to every email. Councillor Newman hoped that Gareth Bacon, the newly responsible cabinet member and also Longlands ward councillor would prove to be more effective than Peter Craske. It’s not the highest of aspirations but I am sure everyone will agree. (Councillor Bacon was not at the meeting and had offered his apologies.)
Councillor Malik said he had recent discussions with a Greenwich councillor and was told the major problem was Craske. Mrs. Dakshy advanced the view that had [Conservative] Bromley been involved there would have been no problem but Craske “had a problem dealing with a different ideology”. For reasons that were not immediately apparent, councillor Mike Slaughter thought that Mrs. Dakshy was “putting work in jeopardy”. What work is hard to say. No one contradicted Mrs. Dakshy when she said that in six years no one had got around to putting up even the simplest of signs. Eg. ‘Not suitable for heavy vehicles’. What sort of absolutely useless uncaring council doesn’t try such a simple and cheap solution?
Councillor Borella asked Mrs. Dakshy if she had a long term goal. She said County Gate had a wide sweeping entry point leading to the narrow section. That entrance needed to be narrowed; as it is the police have to be called to escort reversing lorries back on to the A2.
Mrs. Dakshy had earlier referred to the filibustering of her previous deputation and she didn’t fare a lot better this time around; a bored mayor said that “15 minutes are well gone” and halted proceedings mid flow. I glanced at my watch and sure enough we were three seconds beyond time. Once again no conclusion was reached.
Next on the Agenda was Questions from the Public and the council has come up with a new restriction. From last night anyone asking a question is made to read it out in full even though it is printed in the Agenda. Thus a further minute or two is shaved from the meagre 15 minutes allowed to question Bexley’s pathocracy.
The first question was a request to limit filibustering following leader Teresa O’Neill’s disgusting exhibition three months ago. “Would the leader be willing to consider restricting answers to five minutes, yes or no?” Mr. Barnbrook wanted to know. O’Neill waffled on at some length and Mr. Barnbrook reminded her that he required only a simple yes or no. Our grinning geriatric went through his courteous and respectful routine and told Mr. Barnbrook to sit down and shut up and that if he didn’t he would throw him out of the chamber. O’Neill’s answer eventually came. The time to be taken answering any question is “down to the responder”.
Question 2 was strategically withdrawn by Mr. John Watson to give Danny Hackett some chance of asking his question later on. It was John’s question which Teresa O’Neill filibustered at the last meeting to the detriment of Danny Hackett.
Question 3 looked like a plant to me. Ms. Susan Petty of 49 Collindale Avenue, Sidcup, DA15 9DN asked councillor ‘Biffa’ Bailey “What benefits does the Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration think a Waitrose store will bring to Sidcup?”
Biffa, who must have heard the audience comment, began her response by stating the question was not a plant and I might have believed her but for two significant admissions. We had not in fact heard Ms. Petty ask the question, we had heard someone else drafted in at the last moment because Ms. Petty had not shown up. Back in April 2011 the Constitution Committee said that if a questioner did not show up the question could not be asked. How come the rules had been subverted for this question, would the same courtesy be shown to Mick Barnbrook for example? I would doubt it but if that wasn’t enough evidence of a plant Biffa Bailey carried on digging the hole. She said she knew Ms. Petty well, had been working with her on the Waitrose issue for some while and explained why she was unable to be present in person. Not a plant! Who does she think she is kidding?
The question did nevertheless reveal that the Waitrose petition would be presented to The John Lewis Partnership within the next couple of weeks and Biffa plans to “fight to the very end”. If anyone from John Lewis is reading this, please do us all a favour and give Biffa a straight answer. Or to put it in the mayor's favoured lingo, get her to sit down and shut up.
The fearless Michael Barnbrook had another question up his sleeve. He wanted to know what sanctions were in place to deal with councillors convicted of a criminal offence. Leader O’Neill said nothing that made any sense so Mick pressed his question with an example, maybe not the most appropriate example. I would have chosen something from real council life like perjury or homophobic hatred, but Mick, whilst making it very clear he was accusing no one and it was just an example plucked from the air, went for paedophilia. A certain amount of hysteria broke out with the geriatric clown warning Mr. Barnbrook once again that he was liable to be thrown out of the chamber if he continued “to stand there insulting me. Please be quiet and don’t call me chairman”. Teresa O’Neill also took the insulting line and in the commotion managed to avoid answering the question.
Finally Danny Hackett, an 18 year old Labour activist, got to ask his question. “There have been some changes to the Cabinet recently. Why has councillor Peter Craske resigned?” The answer from the leader was inevitable. “Personal reasons”. Danny also asked why the leader had not refilled his position but instead spread the work among two existing members. O’Neill’s response was almost as inevitable as the first. “Because I can”. I think If I were an 18 year old the words “arrogant fat bastard” would have crossed my mind, but the passage of fifty years may have mellowed my thoughts on such matters. But perhaps by not a lot.
Councillors Question Time will have to wait for tomorrow, or even the weekend. Tomorrow has been designated ‘Arguing with the Met. Police Directorate of Professional Standards Day’.