council meeting was preceded by the 2011 Civic Recognition Awards which deferred
the start time to 8 p.m. That fact should have been posted on the council website.
We were told that the people honoured had in some cases devoted their lives to working
for community projects so shouldnt such worthy people have been given a ceremony
of their own away from placard waving protestors? Why did the council not arrange a
photographer to record a memento of their great day? You know the answer, their claimed
sincerity is a sham and it would have caused our over-paid
councillors to be dragged away from the telly for one more evening. Any enthusiasm for
The Big Society is lukewarm at best, The Big Paycheque perhaps but Camerons
idea stands little chance hereabouts.
Ironically one of the award winners was a protestor. Gurdial Singh Shergill has been
Executive Committee member of Bexley Council for Racial Equality (BCRE) for over 34 years.
For his pains he was announced as leader of the Boys Brigade much to the annoyance
of some of his supporters. According to a leaflet thrust into my hand by the BCRE his real
reward is not a badly organised presentation at the Civic Centre but a 100% cut in the grant
made to his organisation. You have to hand it to Bexley council, their respect to civic
societies knows no bounds.
When the council meeting did begin a gentleman representing the users of Belvedere library
was told he had five minutes to make his case against possible closure or a downgrading to
voluntary status. He spoke passionately to much applause and in the process proved the
council wrong in several respects, among them that their data on libraries across the
capital was flawed and didnt even count the number of boroughs correctly.
Bexleys response was that the borough was just as well provided with libraries as
those paragons of literary excellence Lambeth, Haringey and Newham which didnt go
down too well. Councillor Seymour (Crayford, £9,543) tried to lower the tone with an
injection of party politics but the gentleman from Belvedere was having none of it. Then,
mid-flow in his dissection of the councils case, the mayor and chairman told him to
wrap it up. To his credit Belvederes library dissident carried on until he had
finished what he had to say thereby unwittingly setting the tone for the whole evening.
As someone who had asked a formal question to the council under their Standing
Orders I was provided with a reserved seat next to all the other people who had
done likewise. Thus I found myself sitting next to long-time thorns in the
councils side, Michael Barnbrook, Elwyn Bryant, the man who Craske
attempted to ridicule three months ago, and Nick
Dowling who has done so much to expose
Craskes false accounting. Mick
question was to ask for the 15 minutes allocated to public questions to be extended. After
all, an hour a year for 200 thousand odd residents is not a lot of time for a Listening Council to listen.
Mr. Barnbrook had planned to put his question informally to individual councillors before
the meeting began but the unannounced revision to the timetable scuppered that idea, he
managed to put it only to councillor Campbell (St. Marys, £22,650). Campbell
said a better approach was to allow fewer questions. Do you notice a pattern
here? It is Campbell who wants to put
restrictions on Freedom of Information (FOI) requests,
it is Campbell who sacked a whistleblower who
embarrassed him and his manager now on a paedophilia charge and it is Campbell who would prefer
fewer questions. Something to hide no doubt. When Mick formally put his question to council
leader Teresa ONeill (Brampton, £35,844) she was in a belligerent mood, maybe not surprising given
that his letter
reminding us of the rôle played by the Fat Controller (FC) in the
cover-up following the Ian Clement fraud scandal had been in that mornings
Shopper. As was to be expected the FC didnt want to discuss the question and
Mike was cut short by the mayor though not without offering a spirited resistance.
He was followed by Mr. Nicholas Dowling asking about the number of Residents
Parking Permits issued because the number he had obtained via FOI didn’t match
the number bandied about by Craske in emails to residents. Craske said neither
figure was right and came up with another. I’m not going to waste space
re-inventing the wheel, Craske has proved himself a liar in the past, who
believes him now? Like Mr. Barnbrook before him, Nicholas was cut short by the silly
mayor but carried on nevertheless to cheers from various sections of the public gallery.
Next to participate in the pantomime was Mr. Elwyn Bryant also with a question for Teresa ONeill the
council leader. It reminded her that it is four months since she said she would
consider reducing the number of councillors per ward and that we had heard
nothing yet. The FC waffled to explain the lack of an answer and then launched
into an astonishing bit of arrogance to the effect that as she had been elected
to her post and that Mr. Bryant was a mere resident her view carried far more
weight. That is obviously true as anyone who saw the slightly built Mr. Bryant
standing next to mistress ONeill could testify. The exchange was reminiscent of
that last year when the same resident was made to suffer
put-downs at the hands of councillor Craske.
Mr. Dowling then approached the lectern for his second scheduled question to TLC (The Liar
Craske) but was turned back by the Widow Twanky on the top bench. The 15 minutes
were up she said. Funny that; five of us had set our watches and barely eleven
minutes had passed. Mr. Barnbrook pointed out that Standing Orders had been
breached and that Twanky should expect a formal complaint. She will deny
everything of course but can she deny a tape? Mr. Barnbrook is
not someone to let such malpractice go as a
whole host of MPs know to their cost. The fact that it was Mr. Dowling who was stopped in
his tracks by Twanky is probably not coincidence, his question was designed to expose the
dishonesty of one of Craskes rants at the previous meeting.
The next session was for councillors to ask questions, that is allocated 15
minutes too so we reset our stop watches. In this session you tend to get the
time wasters like Taylor craving attention
from the big boys (err no, it was the pygmy wasnt it?) but not everyone is
that juvenile. Councillor Borello (North End, £9,543) was concerned about
councillor Davey (Lesnes Abbey, £9,543 + £7,782 from the Bexley Care
Trust) politicising the Bexley Arts Council website.
Daveys argument has been
here already and it is illogical balderdash. Councillor Catterall (Falconwood
& Welling, £22,650) from whom I would have expected better came out with the
same load of old tosh that Davey had written to The Chronicle. Councillor Campbell was
then called upon to answer another question and his self-proclaimed saintliness was in
stark contrast to his decision to retain on council premises an employee who was in such
deep doo-dah with the police they had arrested him for paedophilia. Someone in the audience
called out to remind him and then suddenly the 15 minutes was up. However unlike Twanky
those in the gallery didn’t think it polite to tell Campbell to wrap up quick,
they remained silent until he finished two minutes later. In true
dictatorial fashion Twanky, the mayor and chairman, called for another question. There were
protests from the floor that time was up but she indicated that breaking Standing Orders for the
second time was perfectly OK. I suppose if you are mayor of a corrupt council
then it is. Councillor Deadman (North End, £12,114) was called upon to ask a question; he addressed
the public and said his question was more important than theirs and so we had to
endure Deadman talking. He went on for three more minutes.
At that point it seemed a good time to leave and the group of questioners of
which I was one departed, waving to the bunch of grinning parasites as we went.
A fair number waved back and some gave the thumbs up sign. Make of that what you will.
On the stairs we passed councillor Tandy (St. Marys £18,265) and asked what he thought about
the mayor twice breaking Standing Orders. He ran off without replying. Its the
Listening Council in action.
So how do you sum up that lot? Campbell thinks we should have fewer questions.
The mayor curtails them by breaking the rules. The FC waffles around her
question and the purple pygmy revisits his old routine of saying that honestly
set parking charges would mean bigger cuts elsewhere. That’s very likely but not the point.
The point is that his figures were imaginary, the FOIs showed that and to cover
up his deception he has had to produce a flurry of obfuscation, or lies to you and me.
That is what the issue is. We have a liar for a councillor.
I dont think this council gets it. When the Fat Controller tries to avoid
questions by berating the questioner with nonsense about him being a lower form
of life than her because he wasn’t elected and she was, she preaches to a couple
of dozen members of the public none of whom is likely to believe her; it’s
certainly not a fan club that turns up to meetings. But when her antics are
reported here the message goes out to thousands few of whom will believe her.
She should get her mind around the fact that traditional paper headlines are here today and
soon forgotten but web pages stick around for ever and are regularly brought back to life via the
system of links. Its something she will have to get used to. Her critics are
not going away and the only way she and her cronies can kill them off is by going straight. Some hope.