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Bonkers Blog June 2018

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29 June (Part 1) - More on Cabinet

Mr. Whitehouse’s illustrated report to the Resources Scrutiny Committee includes clear indicators of what will set the direction of Bexley Council over the coming four years. His slide No. 5 showed projected expenditure racing away from income if nothing is done about either. There are many unknowns but the official best guess is that it will lead to a deficit of £37 million deficit over the coming four years. In reality it is unlikely to come to fruition because Bexley Council is gearing up to screw every last penny out of residents and Council taxpayers.

Last year Bexley ended up with a £900,000 overspend which came about largely because of the pre-election spending spree, without it there would have been a £1,300,000 underspend. While the cost of buying an election was being announced to Cabinet, no Tory even so much as blushed.

Among the first to pay the price will be families which include children with special educational needs (SEN) and those in need of adult social care.

The Council will also sell off more and more of its land assets.

OppositionCouncillor Wendy Perfect (Labour, Northumberland Heath) exposed Bexley Council’s dishonest abuse of the English language. Leader Teresa O’Neill said during the run up to the election at Council meetings and more publicly that the Council would not be selling land while knowing full well, as anyone who studied the facts could see, that it was going to transfer the land to the Council owned BexleyCo who would do the Council’s dirty work for them.

What’s the difference? Either way residents no longer have use of the facilities and Bexley Council fills its coffers. Even those who may believe that such a future is inevitable can see through Teresa O’Neill’s weasel words and likely conclude she was plotting to deceive a largely gullible electorate - which of course she did.

Leader O’Neill sought to deceive us again last Tuesday evening, she asked Assistant Chief Executive Mrs. Richardson “to reaffirm that we are transferring the sites to BexleyCo, not selling”.

Mrs. Richardson said that some or all of the sites would be “transferred [to BexleyCo] at an open market valuation. We will take a view on what that value is and have it independently valued as well”.

It’s all semantics. If the Council does not expect to get money for the land, why have it valued? Bexley’s logic is that if I buy petrol on my credit card, BP is not selling me the fuel they are only transferring ownership to me. The fact that I will not pay BP directly and have to reimburse the bank later puts the transaction on an entirely different footing to a straight sale. Yeah, whatever!

Mrs. Richardson says the Council will transfer the land to a Community Group instead of BexleyCo if one bids for it and finds the money. If that is not a sale I don’t know what is, however it would likely be a waste of effort as Bexley Council will itself make the decision on who to transfer the land to irrespective of amount of money on offer.

Councillor Perfect said she was surprised that BexleyCo was to be given £120 million to develop the land which enabled Councillor Leaf to make one of his characteristic cheap jibes. It was the first time he had heard “a socialist complain about the level of borrowing”. I try hard to see the good in Councillor Leaf, he is not in the Read or Craske class of disrepute but he can too often be an unpleasant oaf.

Councillor Leaf went on to suggest that Councillor Perfect could not have been paying attention at her Councillor induction course.

The decision to sell transfer land to BexleyCo was approved unanimously by the Cabinet. The discussion then moved on to charging disabled 17 and 18 year olds for their transport to SEN schools. Those with no such disadvantage in life will continue to travel free. Cabinet Member Philip Read assured everyone that it was fair, even the parents of such children thought so. More later.

The land assets that are being considered for sale are, Old Farm Park (Sidcup), West Street Park (Erith), Wilde Road East and West (Northumberland Heath), the Nags Head Lane Car Park (Welling), Walnut Tree Road depot (Erith), Felixstowe Road Car Park (Abbey Wood), Slade Green Community Centre and 221 to 237 Erith Road (Bexleyheath)

 

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