I am rarely excited by the Motions that Councillors like to put before their
colleagues but I expect that is because I am not a good Socialist. Last
Wednesday Councillor John Husband (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) tried his luck at
getting Bexley Conservatives to Go Green.
He made a number of gloomy forecasts among them that Peterborough, presently 35 miles from the coast, would become Peterborough-on-Sea. Donald Trump’s name kept popping up, maybe he has interests in Bexley we don’t know about.
The Councillor was even more concerned for the thousands of homes built on the Thames floodplain (including his own) and the tens of thousands planned, may become uninsurable. Before long another Thames Barrier will be needed further down stream he suggested.
The Motion was backed by Councillor Danny Hackett (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) with a number of claims and statistics, among them the unsurprising one that Bexley residents use their cars far more often than their counterparts in other boroughs.
It is always immediately apparent when a Labour Motion has found favour with the Conservatives; they make a minor revision and then claim it as their own.
Unfortunately the webcast does not reveal what the Conservative amendment was but apparently it was free of the “grandstanding” to which London Mayor Sadiq Khan is said to be prone.
Councillor Louie French (Falconwood & Welling) said that Bexley Council had already made steps in the Green direction and cited the move to a single Civic Office in 2014. He mischievously claimed that Labour was against that move to a single site which isn’t true, they only favoured a different location.
He said the LED lighting scheme was another Green move. “Brighter, better for the environment and less costly.” The Council’s own figures show it is in fact dimmer but let’s not quibble, it had to be done for the anticipated £685,00 a year saving.
Councillor French went on to praise the street tree planting programme - complete with anti-Labour rhetoric - but not the parallel tree and park destruction programme.
Pictures of Waring Park by Sidcup Community Group.
issued a plea to Mayor Sadiq Khan to deliver the improved transport
infrastructure that Bexley’s Growth Strategy requires and to the telecoms companies
to reduce where possible the need for transport by providing adequate broadband
facilities - Bexley Council having recently seen the futility of
antagonistic towards essential street work.
In a further nod to the future he advocated more charging points for electric vehicles “which might generate a small income”.
Councillor David Leaf (Conservative, Longlands) as always, was keen to parade his views for the benefit of the cameras. Would he resist the temptation to kick the Labour opposition? Of course not. The criticism came with his first breath.
He believed that Councillor Husband was more interested in criticising President Donald Trump’s climate change policies than he was in the welfare of Bexley residents, a thought that wasn’t a million miles from my own while listening to the Motion. Haven’t we had enough Trump bashing already?
Councillor Leaf said that he had read most of the European Union documents on climate change as part of his day job. Labour “talked the good talk but underperformed” but since the coming of a Conservative government electricity generated from renewables had risen from about 2% to 25%. Carbon emissions had shown similar successes since Labour lost power.
Despite the national successes he thought that Green policies mattered most at local level but produced no new examples. He repeated the savings due to the move to a single Civic Office but was “disappointed that Councillor Husband scored cheap political points by talking down the Growth Strategy with his reference to flooding”.
Councillor Husband was happy to see the Motion expanded to include references to the Council’s historical achievements but not the removal of future ambitions. (It would be helpful to see the amended motion but webcast viewers are left to guess at what if anything was cut from the original.)
Despite the Labour reservations the amended Motion was adopted unanimously.
Note: I’m still not sure where this climate change business is going. 2017 has not only been the least sunny year in Belvedere since I started keeping records in 2011, it is 3% behind last year which was the previous worst year. 2017 is 8% behind 2014, the best of the past seven years.