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News and Comment July 2011

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29 July - Petition against excessive salaries

Council leader Teresa O'NeillI think the first reference made here to the high salaries paid to Bexley council was on 2nd October last year when the News Shopper reported that Bexley council declined to answer a question on the subject at a council meeting. Since then various alternative approaches have been tried, most often by Mr. Elwyn Bryant of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group, but although he has the backing of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government who has said that salaries should be no higher than £100,000 a year our council knows better, the main obstacle being leader Teresa O’Neill who has said that the salaries are “good value for money” and that the Chief Executive’s two hundred thousand plus various benefits is “worth every penny”.

Mr. Bryant‘s latest attempt to impress on Ms. O’Neill that she is hopelessly out of touch with most residents is a petition which he is taking from door-to-door, and not just any old Bexley door, he is concentrating on houses within Teresa O’Neill’s own ward of Brampton. His aim is to get 2,000 signatures and push a reluctant council into a debate on the subject. Now that he is within a whisker of the half way stage he has asked me to let you know how he is getting on. He is helped by Mr. Mick Barnbrook and Mr. Nicholas Dowling who exposed the untruthful figures Craske’s used to justify a tripling of the cost of a Residents’ Parking Permit. Nicholas has promised to provide some more shocking details of Craske’s deception very soon.

Knocking on doors is a slow process because most people want to spend time slagging off Bexley council. No one likes them which ensures a success rate of just a little over 95%. Elwyn reports that by accident he knocked on the door of a councillor whose spouse answered. The person concerned was sympathetic but thought signing the petition might cause friction and apologetically declined. Another unfortunate knock was on the door of Teresa O’Neill’s parents who were unable to differentiate between staff salaries and councillors’ allowances. Naturally they defended the latter but failed to understand that the petition was on something different.

Councillor Sybil CamseySeveral councillors were asked to sign at the Boris Show last Thursday and they all seemed to know about the petition already, no doubt the aforementioned spouse spread the word. Councillors Davey, Gareth Bacon, June Slaughter and former mayor Clark all refused to sign with a variety of dismissive comments but councillor Sybil Camsey (Brampton ward) was particularly scathing. She said that no petition is “worth the paper it is written on” and “no one will take any notice” and that “I don’t care”. What she doesn’t care about was not made clear. Maybe it is her seat, 2,000 of her own voters may take note of her contempt for their views.

I asked Mr. Barnbrook to summarise the reasons people were giving for not signing. He said there was a handful that said they were not interested in politics but he was surprised by the larger number who believed that if the council got hold of their name and address it would be vindictive enough to blacklist them. However the most interesting comment by far was, “I’d love to mate but I’m a builder and I pay them so much in back handers already that I daren’t risk wasting all that investment by going against them”.

I have heard that sort of thing before but I don’t see any way of getting cast iron evidence.

Probably Sybil Camsey is right and petitions to Bexley council are not worth the paper they are written on. That would surprise no one who has studied their methods but if nothing else the petition will demonstrate the contempt of Bexley councillors for their electorate and the petition will allow that message to be reinforced and promulgated further. Mick said a satisfying number of householders asked if he was part of the Bonkers mob and he most certainly is.


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