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News and Comment July 2012

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19 July (Part 1) - Full Council Meeting

County Gate protestors County Gate trafficThe County Gate protestors were outside the Civic Centre again last night complete with banner. They were in the News Shopper a week ago because in their six years in control of the borough, Bexley’s Conservatives have failed to do anything at all about the intolerable traffic situation in their road. Once inside, brief greetings were exchanged with several councillors, two more than ever before. I won’t name any of them because one asked if I was better following my recent ‘flu’ infection and an admission of reading Bonkers may put someone in Teresa O’Neill’s black book.

As it happens I am a lot better but still far from being right and because of that I am going to split this Council Meeting report into two. The first will deal with the more entertaining and possibly scurrilous aspects of the public shambles while another, which may come later today, but no guarantees, will deal with the more serious but possibly equally scurrilous parts of the proceedings.

Whilst a small number of councillors appear to be happy with the briefest of civilities, Mick Barnbrook of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group (BCMG) is still failing miserably in his attempt to be acknowledged by any of the female councillors. Katie Perrior is his ward councillor and for the second week in a row Mick has tried to open a conversation with her but twice she’s hurried by saying “too busy”. Maybe she shouldn’t have taken on Peter Craske’s Community Safety role following his resignation if she now no longer has time for her electorate.

On the personal front it was going to be interesting to see if mayor Downing would be surprisingly good as chairman, as was Philip Read, or fulfill expectations, and secondly, to check the shade of purple attained by councillor Peter Craske when subjected to curious gaze. In the event Craske didn’t show up. He not only didn’t show up, no apology for absence was received and when the mayor asked if there were any other absentees no one mentioned Craske. Persona non grata or what? Is he still a councillor or is he banished? There was no signature in the member’s attendance register either. However the Agenda for the meeting still recorded his name on page 5 as Cabinet Member for Public Realm.

Mayor DowningMayor Alan Downing proved to be everything I could wish for. If I were to be generous I might say his performance was wooden and gaffe-prone but in truth he is a clown out of his depth. He was petty in the manner of a Victorian headmaster and he made an embarrassing number of elementary procedural errors. It seems to me there is a fundamental problem with our mayoral system. The mayor has to be free to dress up like Coco the Clown to open things or amuse youngsters who have done well at something or the other which pretty much dictates someone not in full time employment. So we tend to finish up with a bumbling buffoon with a less than complete allocation of marbles in charge of the council’s most important and complete assembly. Looking around the other potential candidates with time on their hands I don’t see how this can change any time soon. The best councillors look like they are holding down a decent 9 to 5 job. What is left is 100% dross.

At the start of the meeting the public consisted of 18 - most being County Gate protestors - five BCMG members and me. By the end the numbers had dropped to single figures when I heard one of the County Gate contingent saying that “Craske has been charged” so naturally I asked what secret I’d been left out of. Apparently “it was on the internet”, I don’t know where but as far as I know for sure councillor Craske has resigned for “personal reasons”. Nothing else. It must be true because during the meeting councillor Teresa O’Neill confirmed it that was the reason. As everyone knows, the leader never tells a lie.

Over the coming weekend I plan to change this website’s front page to include a timetable of all of Bexley’s obscene blog related events. There will be one or two new things slipped into the mix but Craske may not even get a mention. It is tempting to indulge in gossip spreading but it is probably more sensible to stick to known facts.


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