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News and Comment April 2012

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20 April (Part 1) - Council meeting Round 2. Seconds out

After the farce which was Question Time at Wednesday’s council meeting it was time, appropriately enough, for motions. The always reliable: to be utterly ridiculous that is, councillor Philip Read had come up with a pathetic motion of no value whatsoever to any Bexley resident. He proposed a debate to put on record that “Bexley council recognises and appreciates the value that Boris Johnson the present Mayor of London has brought to the Borough of Bexley and outer London generally in the past four years”. Just the sort of nonsense you’d expect from someone who registered and did nothing with it, and who maliciously and wrongly reported Olly Cromwell to the police for breaking his bail conditions.

The opposition party argued that such a motion put forward during the ‘election purdah’ period was legally wrong. They were overruled. The debate began and pandemonium soon broke out, I’m not absolutely sure who was shouting what. Councillor Alex Sawyer went into one of his machine gun delivery speeches given far too quickly for an amateur note taker to keep up; and didn’t stop for fifteen minutes. Literally fifteen minutes’ worth of non-stop pro-Johnson and anti-Livingstone propaganda. Undoubtedly a bravura performance of which his wife, Ms. Priti Patel MP, would be proud. Probably she wrote it.

Sandra BauerLivingstone had “been to Havana more often than Havering” and Johnson had promised another Thames tunnel from Greenwich to faraway Silvertown and to plant 20,000 trees. I began to doze off to the sound of the constant drone but recall a reference to North Korea and the response from the public gallery to the 20,000 trees comment. Someone thought that 63 trees was all we needed. It takes a certain amount of talent to write a speech like that and even more to deliver it with panache. Alex Sawyer could well be going somewhere; and I rather wish he would. To somewhere where verbal diarrhoea is appreciated. It may be clever, it may even be impressive, but what use is it except to amuse the small minds that surround him?

Our celebrity councillors, Sandra Bauer and Melvin Seymour of dog-poo fame sat quietly through Sawyer’s non-stop twittering probably wondering where all the crap being spouted was likely to be posted and whether it was a threat to family life. But like so many words delivered in a hurry, if ignored they will be forgotten as quickly as they are uttered. They appear here on-line but you can be pretty sure that they won’t make the News Shopper and get shoved through anyone’s letterbox

Twitter on twitWhen Sawyer was eventually made to sit down councillor Gareth Bacon launched his own personal appreciation of the great Boris Johnson’s achievements. He is not an orator in the Sawyer mould but we learned that Boris had single-handedly ‘Oysterised’ the suburban railway lines, provided free travel for 40% of journeys on the buses and best of all, free travel for himself as a GLA member. Oh no, that comment came from both the public gallery and the opposition more or less simultaneously. Councillor Bacon said he was taxed on it so it wasn’t free travel. Wasn’t it Bacon who argued that transport staff shouldn’t travel free?

The opposition decided they didn’t like Philip Read’s motion and who can blame them? So they came up with one even sillier. “Bexley council recognises and appreciates the value that Ken Livingstone the former Mayor of London brought to the London Borough of Bexley and outer London generally from 2000-2008”. Am I missing something or is that four years late?

Ken had introduced the congestion charge and the Overground system. He reduced bus fares and the Prime Minister wants him to be Mayor again - or at least doesn’t want Johnson. Now we have sky high fares and a 1 to 6 Zone Season Ticket costs only a whisker less than one which would cover the whole of Switzerland, according to councillor Borella. Everyone would be another £500 worse off if Johnson became Mayor again.

When councillor Malik rose to his feet he was almost immediately slapped down by Mayor Sams, as is the tradition, for opening his mouth. “Councillor Sawyer spent 15 minutes talking about Bojo”, said councillor Malik, “I am going to talk about Livingstone and Credit Card Clement”. I always thought that the initials CCC stood for the Central Criminal Court where the Bexley fraudster finished his political career. That’s a good one Malik, far more memorable than anything Alex Sawyer came out with. May I use it again? Did Clement ever pay back the money that council leader Teresa O’Neill allowed him to run off with in Bexley; the last I heard he didn’t?

Saint Livingstone had put CCTV on every bus and made the biggest transport investment in London since World War II apparently. A pity that Bexley saw none of it. An even bigger pity that Johnson supports a criminal shelterer. How can anyone vote for a man like that? Oh that reminds me…

Teresa and BojoDuring the debate, councillor Malik I think it was, had a little dig at those Bexley Conservative councillors who would personally profit from Boris Johnson’s election campaign and even more from his election. A shot aimed at Katie Perrior and her public relations company no doubt. However councillor Teresa O’Neill rose to the bait and said she had many times been offered a job in the Mayor’s office but had selflessly turned them all down preferring to be queen bee in Bexley. Similarly she wasn’t going to run to Bojo’s side after the election either. That’s a shame, if the police eventually get to feel her collar for perverting the course of justice or the Local Government Ombudsman drop on her like a ton of bricks, it would be so much more entertaining to read it in The Times rather than in The Bexley Times.

The debate ended in the customary vote entirely along party lines. There is no need to tell you which motion won.

After that the leader was due to make her Report to the Council. To be honest I had heard about as much as I could take from Foghorn Fanny in one evening and left the chamber; as did about half the remaining observers. I have however been sent a report on what went on later so a return to the subject cannot be entirely ruled out.


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