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News and Comment July 2012

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1 July - Lead astray by false profits

Christ Church, Bexleyheath. Before Christ Church, Bexleyheath. AfterIf you read about the regeneration of Bexleyheath Broadway you will know that Bexley council is intent on taking over the precincts of Christ Church. The scheme was first put to church members in October 2010, nearly two years ago, and they rejected the idea. What changed their minds?

It seems that the Parochial Church Council (PCC) were bewitched by a freebie extension of the red and pink setts right up to the church door. “A God-given opportunity to make the church building more welcoming and more obviously part of the community” said the Reverend Francis Jakeman. Very possibly true but why give up valuable land for ever for the price of a few paving slabs? The scrap value of the railings would have offset the cost of laying their own.

Reverend Jakeman invited church members to discuss the plan after the morning service exactly one week ago. I imagine that they may have been less than impressed by the council’s plan which ignorantly referred to the “War Memorial” in the church grounds when the memorial is to its first vicar, the Reverend William Pincott, hence Pincott Road not far away.

Most of the congregation stayed behind after Eucharist to listen and there were things not to like. The removal of the hedge that prevents wedding parties trampling the flower beds for instance, but it turned out not to be a consultation to allow "the PCC to be better placed to know how the congregation feels”. It was more of a presentational fait accompli. A done deal. It had to be thus, council staff had presented the scheme embodying church land at the Public Realm Committee meeting three days earlier. Christ Church PCC appears to have allowed Bexley council’s land grab in exchange for little more than a small patio. What on Earth possessed them to sanction such a giveaway? Certain parishioners have a theory.

Where else would you expect questions to be brushed aside or unanswered or the shutters run up leaving some unable to speak at all? It sounds a bit too like a Bexley council meeting chaired by the mayor; and maybe it was. Who is the big-wig on the Parochial Council most enthusiastically pushing for the scheme? None other than former mayor of Bexley, Bernard Clewes who lost his Erith seat in 2010. John, Chapter 11, Verse 35. The devils get everywhere!


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