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News and Comment September 2021

Index: 2019202020212022

4 September (Part 1) - Tell us something new

Chief ExecutiveThe bin strike is officially over and Bexley’s Conservatives will be hoping you soon forget all about it. Their spin machine can take a well earned rest and be as silent on the subject as the £200,000 Chief Executive was throughout the strike. It is hard to find anything to justify Jackie Belton’s employment but last Wednesday she ended her Trappist tendencies by opening her trap before Cabinet Members.

Whether it was a worthwhile gesture or been better to remain silent is for readers to judge. What is the old adage? Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt.

For £200k. we heard…

“There was significant disruption to waste collection and street cleansing as a result of the industrial action.” (I think we knew that.)

“The strike commenced on 12th July 2021 and was suspended on 24th August.” (Tell us something new.)

“The Council was told about the strike ballot in June and it was held on the 29th and a strike called for two weeks from 12th July. (Residents with their wits about them knew that too but maybe the Cabinet had done a Dominic Raab and were consequently in ignorance of it all.)

“At one time it looked as though the strike could go on until October.”

“Bexley Council reminded both Serco and Unite of the seriousness of the impact on residents and encouraged formal ACAS involvement.”

“The number on strike varied from 50 to 65 and approximately half of them were drivers.”

“Temporary staff could not be brought in to cover for strikers because of legal restrictions.” (Once again nothing new.)

Having said that Ms. Belton returned to the encouraging ACAS theme but added that the Footscray dump was operated seven days a week with extra hours at both sites on Tuesdays and Thursdays. ‘Pop-up’ collection services were operated from car parks. (But only as the strike came to an end.)

“Serco is being closely monitored and Council Officers met with them daily.”

“Following suspension of the strike, collections resumed on 25th August.”

“Significant volumes of waste have accumulated as a result of the disruption, dust carts are filling up quicker and they need to make more frequent trips to the tipping facility. There is a catch up plan which includes diverting food waste collection crews to recycling and garden waste collections. Waste may not be collected on the normal day and residents are advised to place all containers out for collection. Serco is confident that services should be back to normal before the new contract starts on 4th October.”

“The longer opening hours and pop up sites will continue”. (From Bexley’s website : "There will be no special collections of materials at car parks tomorrow Saturday 4 September.)

I imagine Bonkers’ readers will have been sufficiently interested in strike developments to have known all or most of the foregoing and those who weren’t interested would not be tuning into the webcast to hear Jacky. So what was the point of the Chief Executive in effect quoting from her desk diary?

Maybe she knows that some Members of the Cabinet are not the sharpest tools in the knife drawer but surely even they learned nothing from the four minutes of old news.

What was the point of it? What is the point of Jackie Belton?

Note: Some of the quoted speech has been stripped down to reduce the number of redundant words but is essentially as spoken.


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