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News and Comment November 2012

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14 November (Part 1) - Sewer tactics

Crossness pumping engineThere was a Bexley council cabinet meeting last night and looming large on the agenda was the South Thamesmead Regeneration Framework. Presumably it was for that reason that the decision was taken to hold the meeting in Thamesmead in a building hidden under a flyover on the road that leads to Joseph Bazalgette’s Crossness Pumping Station. That suits me, it’s not somewhere I would normally want to go but it’s walking distance from home. In the event it was further than I had bargained for and I arrived five minutes late.

The ladies on Reception knew nothing about any cabinet meeting, “nothing like that going on here. There is a protest going on about Gallions Housing Association raising charges but no council meeting”. Eventually we worked out the ‘protest’ and the cabinet meeting were one and the same thing. “Which way?” I asked only to be told “You can’t go in, it’s full”.

For the past two months Bexley council has been legally obliged to provide me with a place to write at meetings along with regular journalists and I felt sure that Bexley council could not possibly have failed to observe the law but I guessed it might be futile to broach that subject with the bevy of ladies barring access so there was little alternative but to withdraw.

Outside a group of men informed me that around 200 people had gathered at about 7 p.m. to protest about increased management charges but only 150 or so were allowed in with about 40 more excluded. There was a pile of discarded protest banners in a heap by the roadside. What it was really all about I have yet to discover.

There were no police in evidence as is commonly the case at regular council meetings and I hope the contingent from Bexley got out in one piece after facing the good people of Thamesmead.


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