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News and Comment July 2012

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11 July - Deputy leader says “More pain on the way”

Forecast spending on servicesAt yesterday’s Cabinet meeting I found myself isolated well away from the other six members of the public who were wisely wary of associating with the coughing and spluttering one. Attending was barely worth the effort, ‘Public Cabinet’ is a pre-rehearsed self-congratulatory stunt and without a few ill-chosen words from councillor Peter Craske it is inevitably more boring than ever.

Everything in Bexley is going wonderfully well it would seem and the council’s achievements were variously described as “fantastic”, “marvellous” and “exciting”. Council officer Sheila Murphy summed things up succinctly when she said, "The targets we set ourselves have been achieved”. Perhaps someone else should be allowed to set the targets.

Councillor John Fuller told us that our school attendance record is now one of the best in London while deputy leader Colin Campbell reminded us of the further £20 million of savings required in 2015. “Pain” he said, “was coming down the road”. His graph of year on year expenditure savings was probably the most interesting information coming to light all evening; unless perhaps you regularly park in Bexley village.

Councillor Gareth Bacon having taken on his umpteenth local authority job and now in charge of parking in Bexley announced his ‘Strategic Parking Review’ which aims to “improve the quality of life of residents while helping local businesses flourish”. A brave ambition but Gareth Bacon starts with a huge inbuilt advantage, he is not Peter Craske. If he were we would be suffering fines for minor misdemeanours with our rubbish bins and bin men would have CCTV embedded in their hats. He could not however resist repeating that Bexley has the cheapest parking in S.E. London - which given the price increases elsewhere is not the lie it once was - and that Bexley has more car parking spaces than Bromley. Which given that Bromley is twice as big in area was never likely to be true and isn’t.

The first step towards “improving the quality of life of residents” is to make the life of Bexley commuters more of a misery. Bexley High Street Car Park is to become restricted for all day parkers. The precise arrangements are not yet determined but the proposals are that about half of the 112 spaces will be made ‘short stay’ with a price structure of ‘Up to one hour, 90p’, 2 hours, £1.20, 4 hours, £1.60 and 24 hours, £3.80, which doesn’t seem too unreasonable to me. But then I absolutely never park a car in Bexley, so who am I to say?

An hour after the meeting started I found myself on the bus home where another dose of cough mixture and codeine awaited me.


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