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News and Comment February 2021

Index: 20202021

8 February - Going forward; but to little effect

On the Agenda of last week’s Resources and Growth Scrutiny meeting was an item entitled ‘Social Value Statement’, one of many items that the Council likes to look at and cross their fingers that they may be able to influence events. Apparently there is even a Social Value Act to be followed. These days you cannot move for laws that have slipped in unnoticed.

Councillor Joe Ferreira (Labour, Erith) was the first to speak and asked how long the Draft Strategy on Social Value would take before it became the real thing. About a year apparently.

Part of the Strategy is for the Council to buy locally. Procure is the buzz word and a ‘Commissioning Board’ will oversee the application of Social Value to procurement”. A ‘Procurement Team’ will “oversee the development of Social Value”. (It’s little wonder that Council Tax rises at well above the rate of inflation and Bexley levies close to the highest Council Tax in London.)

Councillor O’Hare (Conservative, Blendon & Penhill) battled with a failing internet connection to refer to “ethnic minorities and women” being “less economically active and paid less”. 35% of workers in Bexley are paid less than the London Living wage, almost the worst in London. (2018 figures.) He asked “how we could get the ethnic minorities to work together with the Council”.

Finance Director Paul Thorogood accepted that Bexley was not in a good place but “the Council has an Equalities Action Plan coming through”.

The Chairman advocated “reaching out to places of worship. We need to bring those communities on board.” Cabinet Member Leaf said it would not be easy and ethnic communities are not all the same. “They are not one big block” and “white working class boys are under-achievers as well.”

Councillor Howard Jackson (Conservative, Barnehurst) said that there is “a problem with authority figures. A lot of the ethnic minorities do not trust the police or the Council because we have not listened or helped them. A problem we have at the moment is breaking through that issue.”

The Chairman was “very very disappointed” to hear that the Council and the police were not trusted.

When will both realise that they reap what they sow? One unfair parking PCN Appeal or Covid fine for sitting on a bench and trust is instantly lost; probably for all time. It doesn’t have to be police rewriting a crime report a year after the event in order to untruthfully demonstrate support for Bexley Council to cast all trust aside, little things can be just as corrosive.

 

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