I generally find that one of the more interesting parts of a Full Council
meeting is the Leader’s Report; Teresa O’Neill does not usually go in for
extended waffle and not unreasonably assumes that her 26 page (this time) written report has been read.
This time however may have been an exception as she took up half the allotted
time with her own beating of the Bexley drum.
She began by having her say on earlier parts of the meeting, Councillor Perfect’s Motion on Education and Councillor Hinkley’s complaint about the standard of rubbish collection (†) which she implied should have been raised at the time and not at a Council meeting.
The Leader had chaired a 140 strong meeting on 16th July about “generating good growth in the Thames Estuary” where she spoke about the proposed Crossrail Extension C2E. £4·85 million has been allocated to look for a solution. Councillor O’Neill will be one of nine nominees to the governing body of the steering committee which she called ‘a Board’.
She then went back five years to praise yet again the decision to move to the new Civic Offices which “created jobs, created homes, created community facilities and created opportunities for residents in addition to keeping Council Tax down”. (For the record it has gone up by very nearly 18% in those five years.)
Moving back to Crossrail she said “the delay is now considered to be to September 2020 to March 2021 and it has been suggested that it may be pushed out a bit more than that. Frankly we need to get it open”.
“Last week I visited the Thamesmead Housing Zone, one of the cleanest building sites I’d even been on. Phenomenal to see it going up. At The Quarry it is fantastic to see that we now have streets! That is what good growth should be about. The Housing Strategy, the Town Centre Strategy and the Communities Strategy are about shaping the future of our borough. We either take control and shape growth or it will shape us.”
Green Flag status had been awarded to the parks at Hall Place and Lesnes Abbey. Not so good was losing the status of being the safest borough in London following the London Mayor’s reorganisation of police services. She had had “a conversation” with the Deputy Mayor about it.
Councillor O’Neill looked forward to having “a new Prime Minister next week who knows Bexley very well”.
The first question came from Councillor Munir (Conservative Blackfen & Lamorbey) who wanted to know the percentage figure for permanent staff within Children’s Services; a question he could have asked at any time while passing the Leader or Cabinet Member in the corridor. For the record it has been within the range of 88% to 92% over the past few months for which Councillor Philip Read thanked the outgoing Director Jacky Tiotto.
Councillor Daniel Francis (Labour, Belvedere) remarked on the delayed bin roll out. “Was the Leader confident it would be completed by Christmas?” Cabinet Member Craske managed to speak for 86 seconds without getting near to answering the question.
Councillor Linda Bailey (Conservative, Crooklog) complained about the “appalling” Crossrail delays. Has the Council Leader raised “objections about the way this has been handled?” The Leader said that was a matter between Government and Mayor and reverted to her theme that it was “fantastic” that she had chaired the C2E meeting.
Councillor Richard Diment (Conservative, Sidcup) remounted his hobby horse, the widespread closure of Post Offices, the Sidcup office being the most recent to close. The Post Office is “alarmingly complacent nationally about the process for getting it reopened. Does the Leader share the frustration of Sidcup residents that the Post Office seems unable to get its act together?” “Absolutely” she did; what else would anyone expect her to say?
For no obvious reason Councillor O’Hare (Conservative, Blendon & Penhill) filled in the last four minutes of question time with a potted history of Lesnes Abbey. “Built in 1128 by Richard De Lucy the Chief Justice of England as a penance for the murder of Thomas Beckett” and then went on to quote favourable Trip Adviser reviews. His question? “Does the Leader support the progress of Lesnes Abbey?”
My God! To think we actually elect such people. For the record, Councillor Craske extolled the undoubted virtues of the Abbey and the surrounding park.
† Not yet reported.