It may disappoint the author but until yesterday it had been a couple of months since I last visited
UKUP’s Bexley website.
It looked very familiar, they too are highlighting the almost certain sale of half of Old Farm Park. Their former chairman who publishes the website believes its fate is already decided. Well of course it is, BiB nailed itself firmly to that mast soon after the plan became public last February.
The protest movement will serve no other purpose than proving yet again that Bexley council listens to no one and will make up whatever stories it thinks it can get away with to confuse the issues, most of which do not stand up to detailed examination.
Cabinet member Don Massey said in a speech in defence of selling Old Farm Park that not making cuts would lead to a 55% rise in council tax. Scare mongering that has only the tiniest connection with Old Farm Park.
The idea is to sell Old Farm Park for about £13 million; the figure was mentioned at an earlier council meeting and Deputy Leader Alex Sawyer has said over and over again that that money will “offset the grounds maintenance parks and open spaces in the borough by £710,000”. That equates to a 0.8% council tax rise. It’s all in the council’s documentation if you care to look but Massey managed to avoid that inconvenient truth. A 55% rise is headline catching, 0·8% is a tenner a year. (Band D.) But a tenner a year would drop Bexley’s already high council tax from 24th worst borough in London to 25th which would be nothing to brag about come the next election. Re-election is always a councillor’s top priority.
Unfortunately Old Farm Park was dead and buried when council leader Teresa O’Neill (Oldfarm’s Belittling Executioner) made this condescending but fateful statement last July.
No cabinet member would dare undermine the words of the great dictator or
make the real facts clear to the public.
The rediscovery of UKIP’s website led me to a Facebook page which I did not know existed. Yesterday’s entry was concerned with Belvedere’s derelict Splash Park.
Ronie Johnson, I assume the page is his, is pretty much spot on with his observations. I stopped mentioning the subject here for fear the campaigners would see it as an embarrassment. There was a brief reference on 12th September and nothing since.
The fact is that Bexley council put up so many obstacles to a successful bid from a recently formed charity that it stood no chance. The financial and business based barriers erected were simply too high.
Ronie, he was the Erith & Thamesmead UKIP candidate at the General Election, takes the political view that Labour councillors backing the rescue plans was a mistake. Bexley’s Tory cabinet could never allow them to triumph. I do not disagree but on the other hand, without Labour support, the Save the Splash Park campaign would never have got off the ground.
Catch 22 and against a ruthless Tory council the odds were stacked firmly against them.
If the park is to be saved it can only be by the Anna Firth backed (Ronie’s Conservative rival in May 2015) commercial scheme. Absolutely nothing is known about that but I am sure of one thing. Bexley council will be given no credit whatsoever for a successful outcome by the local population. Unless something dramatic happens to the electoral boundaries before 2020, the Conservatives will not win the next General Election in Erith & Thamesmead.