This is the third consecutive afternoon when I have sat down in a stupidly
hot computer room to report on what Council Leader Teresa O’Neill said last week and
quickly decided I’d rather be doing something else. Does anyone want to read it
anyway? Anyone really interested will have read the Council Meeting Agenda two weeks ago.
But the Agenda is always dry and misses the occasional joke, insult and proof of stupidity, so before the information becomes completely stale
The Leader’s top priority is bragging about the 2018 election result so that came first. “Firstly I want to make reference to the election result, over 75% of the seats on the Council, fantastic [that word again] result”.
Anyone who thinks the Leader’s report is primarily intended to inform residents of what is going on in the borough should think again. Its primary purpose is to inflate the Leader’s fat ego further.
The short lived Chief Executive, who should have been on the top table but wasn’t was given a brief thank you for putting up with Bexley for two whole years and it was confirmed that Paul Moore (Director of Communities) will take over temporarily at least.
The Crossrail extension came next. The Leader said that it has been part of Bexley’s Growth Agenda since 2004 which rather begs the question, why was Bexley Council uninterested in Crossrail back then leaving what little local lobbying there was to the MP for Erith & Thamesmead, Teresa Pearce.
She was on firmer ground while regretting the “pure wanton vandalism” at the Lesnes Abbey playground which we now know will cost around £14,000 to repair.
Her final point reintroduced #doitforbexley “which is about applauding those who make a big difference to our borough and encouraging others to get involved”.
The first Councillor to speak was Melvin Seymour (Conservative, Crayford) who asked if anything was known about the Green Flag application for Hall Place and Lesnes Abbey.
Cabinet Member Peter Craske said news of the Green Flag application was embargoed until the following day and then proceeded to drop every hint imaginable that both awards were safely in the bag.
Councillor Daniel Francis (Labour, Belvedere) complained that a Peer Review into scrutiny procedures had “not included all Members in the Review process” and although the results were available three months ago “they had not been shared with all Members”.
Intriguingly he asked if the report “had anything to say about the relationship between the Chief Executive and the Leader”.
Teresa O’Neill said that all her failures to consult, share, be reasonable etc. were due to the intervening election which presumably she did not see coming. However the Review will go before Cabinet eventually.
Councillor Cafer Munir (Conservative, Blackfen & Lamorbey) asked for an update on the proposal that under 25 year old care leavers should be exempt from Council Tax. Cabinet Member Philip Read said “we are aware of the recommendations of The Children’s Society” and the subject would be “brought to the Public Cabinet meeting in October”.
Councillor June Slaughter (Conservative, Sidcup) was concerned for street trees in the current drought. She urged residents to keep new street trees watered. This gave Peter Craske, the man who in 2014 stopped the planting of all street trees, the opportunity to chastise the opposition for voting against his recent enthusiasm for them.
Councillor Mabel Ogundayo (Labour, Thamesmead East) drew attention to an email from the Leader, copied to every Councillor, which made disparaging and insulting remarks about a member of the public who had dared to criticise her. She found the content of the Leader’s email “astonishing and horrifying”.
Which Bexley residents she asked, “should not be allowed access to computers”. (Besides me presumably.)
The Mayor was not happy with the questions but the Leader provided a typically stupid answer. “We [in 2018] are providing better digital facilities in libraries than Labour ever did [between 2002 and 2006]. Our libraries are fantastic places”.
Unfortunately no further details were forthcoming from the Leader except that she gets far too many emails to be expected to read or answer all of them and must have missed Councillor Ogundayo’s complaint.
Councillor Eileen Pallen (Conservative, Bexleyheath) didn’t have a question but she did ask the Leader to congratulate “Senior Officers” for doing an NHS related job well. Everyone involved was duly congratulated.
The theme continued; Councillor Cheryl Bacon (Conservative, ) asked for those who suggested an open air cinema show in Danson Park to be similarly congratulated. The credits rolled.
Councillor Lucia-Hennis (Conservative, Crayford) wished to thank the Leader herself for “successfully making Openreach available to the two largest developments in Crayford”. I think we can assume from that statement that Councillor Lucia-Hennis has not the slightest clue about how telecoms is organised and operates in this country.
The Leader modestly said that some of the success was due to staff “who are fantastic” and due to their efforts Bexley will be the first London borough to see “BT’s super dooper broadband. It will be fantastic because films don’t buffer but I am completely lost at that stage”.
Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer ended questions with some witty remarks that one must hope his wife did not hear and the Leader ended the session by congratulating Cabinet Member Craske on coining the phrase, ‘the doom and gloomy crew’ to describe the opposition party.