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A near four hour meeting is not easily summarised, here’s a few highlights.
• Bexley’s homeless are not only sent to Manchester, some go to Bolton.
• Another planning application for the Harrow Inn site is likely to be submitted next month. (Not yet on Planning Dept. website.)
• The new look Sidcup was praised by cabinet member Linda Bailey with support from councillors June Slaughter and Rob Leitch. “It is a marked improvement.” Restaurants are full and shop trade is up. When asked to provide evidence it proved to be all anecdotal.
• Councillor Slaughter was concerned about the number of parking penalties issued in the town and how some ticketed visitors will not come back again.
• The Slade Green Library does not always open on time, allegedly because of Eco Communities’ staff failings.
• Of 788 new homes under construction in the borough only 32 are ‘social rent’. 258 are affordable - this can mean £600,000 for a nice three bedroomed terrace in Erith Park.
• There should be an announcement about the Coralline Walk (Thamesmead) regeneration very soon. Peabody Housing will be finding residents new accommodation.
• FOI requests have increased significantly. More than doubled to 696 in a recent quarter over the previous one. (I have not been made aware of any by people known to myself for many months.)
• Councillor John Davey said he was concerned about the sale of open spaces but no one commented.
• A council officer, Seb Salom, said he was working on improving the digital infrastructure in the borough. When asked what that was he said “broadband”.
• It was explained that the cessation of leaf clearing only affected those that fell on green spaces, not highways.
• Doubt was cast on the accuracy of the number of children forecast (child yield) for the borough. This was because social housing traditionally had a higher child yield than privately owned home, but many of the latter were now rented and were attracting families who might have gone to social housing had any been available. However those houses were assumed to have ‘private’ child yield and not ‘social’ with the potential for undercounting.
• Part time street lighting (off from midnight to 5 a.m.) and LED replacement is being considered. Some lights may be removed altogether. LEDs will not become part time.
• The cracks in and partial collapse of heavily used sections of Bexley’s regenerated Broadway has been blamed on poor design and not substandard construction methods. The Woolwich Road junction will be replaced with tarmac.
• Litter patrols will be reduced and abandoned along main ‘distributor roads’. The graffiti removal team will be halved.
• The fairness of charging for residential disabled parking bays was discussed. Cabinet member Don Massey spoke as if disablement was a life choice and like any other choice should not be subsidised by others. “If someone can legitimately apply for something, then why shouldn’t they pay?”
• The probable reduction in visitors to Hall Place following the imposition of parking charges was a matter of concern to councillor Borella. The impact on trade at the restaurant will be discussed with the operating company. (Miller and Carter.) I’ll have to use their new Bromley premises instead if a leisurely meal risks incurring a parking penalty.
• It will cost £10,500 to repair the damage to Danson Park.
• The persecution of motorists, via CCTV, who make U-turns etc. cannot begin for several months beyond April because of licensing issues.
• Planning meetings which were not long ago reduced from 15 to twelve a year are to be reduced to ten a year and it’s going to have no effect on the service offered to the public.
The Places Scrutiny meeting was the last to be attended by Deputy Director Mike Frizoni; he is to retire to hopefully take his yellow paint pot with him.
Mr. Frizoni will not have earned himself many friends among the people of Bexley for his constant assault on motorists, possibly just following orders, and horse riders - illegally closing bridleway 250 - but I have often heard him report on major changes for the town or policy. These were always very clear, well researched and showed a level of intelligence far above that of most councillors. The latter appear to find him hard to follow. Presumably they don’t listen and go on to ask silly, irrelevant or unnecessary questions. He may be a hard act to follow in his public meeting role.
This meeting also covered two days ago (the Tesco fiasco) and on 19th February (bin charges).