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Bonkers Blog November 2018

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13 November - Didn’t they do well? (But not for Bexley)

CampbellWhen BiB was new and I was a lot younger I was several times asked why I didn’t try to become a Councillor. Leaving aside the fact that I couldn’t support either Labour or Tory - just where has the Conservative Party gone? - my reaction was always the same. The job would be far too much like hard work to do properly which is probably why so few Councillors do.

So why do they do it? I only know of one in Bexley who absolutely definitely became a Councillor to make things better. There may be more but I haven’t seen the evidence.

So why do they do it? For many it is the networking opportunities being a Councillor represents, the furthering of self interests and business deals.

Take two recent senior Cabinet Members for example, both being Deputy Leader and Directors of Finance.

Colin Campbell was Deputy Leader of Bexley Council until 2014 and retains several business links in Bexley. His claims to fame include…

• Accountant skilled in both UK and US law.
• Technology expert. (‘Process Design’ and ‘Whole Systems Enterprise’.)
• Chair of IT User Group and “accomplished speaker”.
• Advisor to the Inland Revenue on their Self-Assessment program.
• Director at EY (Ernst & Young) until 2007.
• Director of several other companies.
• Chairman at two major Hospitals and accountable to the Secretary of State.
• Responsible for review to the Secretary of State into PFI contracts.

You don’t need the ten grand Councillor Allowance with that degree of career success do you? As suggested, such people become Councillors for what they can get out of it, not for what they can offer.

Colin Campbell is not alone, Don Massey, another former Bexley Cabinet Member for Finance has a similar CV.

• An Honours Degree is Econometrics.
• Branch manager at NatWest bank.
• Corporate Account Executive in the City of London.
• Senior Group Audit Inspector.
• Senior Manager at Gresham Trust Private Equity.
• Treasury Operations Administration Manager.
• Finance Director for Domiciliary Care Company.
• Operations Manager for the Centre for Public Scrutiny.

MasseyApart from being in charge of Bexley Council finances, Colin Campbell and Don Massey have one other job in common. Both are Governors at Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance in Sidcup.

There is another link between the College and the Council.

In 2012 Bexley Council sold its old Lamorbey Swimming Baths to Rose Bruford who said at the time that they would turn it into student accommodation. The Council said “by purchasing the former baths site the College has confirmed that it sees its long term future in Sidcup” which has to be good.

The price paid at auction was a bargain £750,000 but nearly seven years later the baths remain a derelict eyesore. What is going on? Where is the student accommodation? Not in the old swimming baths, that is for sure.

On the Acorn Estates commercial website the baths are up for sale again but not for £750k. This time the asking price is £1,900,000. A nice little earner for Rose Bruford and well done the management and governors for their financial acumen.

But whose side were Campbell and Massey on? Just as was the case when selling the Civic Centre site in Broadway, Bexley Council did not think it was appropriate to include any sort of Overage Clause into the sale contract.

Rose Bruford has made a good honest profit but all that experience at Ernst & Young, NatWest and the Gresham Trust has failed to safeguard and protect Bexley taxpayers’ from a potential windfall.


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