any day today rss X

News and Comment February 2024

Index: 2018201920202021202220232024

24 February (Part 2) - Crossing swords

I suggested to Cabinet Member Richard Diment when he accepted his appointment almost a year ago that it was a poisoned chalice because every decision affects every resident. Roads, parking, bins etc., all things that no one can ignore. He didn’t agree but if he doesn’t go the same way as his predecessor he will have proved himself to be of a very different calibre to Peter Craske. Not perhaps the highest bar but ‘Places’ is no easy job.

On Thursday his speech to fellow Cabinet Members recognised that the proposal to increase fees “will not be overly popular” but the overall package “is a good budget for Bexley”. Increasing investment was the proud boast.

His aim was to “cover the cost of parking and enforcement from revenue”. Carefully omitting the fact that the last parking charges increase was 30%, he said “parking charges have not increased since 2021 since when inflation has been 18%.” This was the justification for another average 6% increase. “We are keeping the charges less in real terms than when they were last reviewed” which must rank amongst the biggest deceptions in the Council chamber since Peter Craske was a Cabinet Member.

As you will already have read here, even Southeastern are charging less to park than Bexley and where they are in competition charges will be reduced in April. An overnight charge of £1·50 will be introduced at all car parks apart from the most popular ones where it will be £2·50. He once again rejected his colleagues’ pleas for a short free parking period. The Council cannot afford to lose the revenue and would rather local businesses lost it instead.

CPZ charges will be raised by either £7·50 or £15·00 a year (dependent on location) and this time his claim that it was less than the inflation rate since the last review may be close to the truth.

The recycling services which were so badly affected by strikes and lock downs are slowly recovering. The average resident reduced its general waste by 54 kilogrammes each last year which amounted to 5,000 tonnes less going to landfill. He said that garden waste charges must rise to cover the costs. (Am I the only one who remembers that when charges were introduced, Bexley Council said the new system would save £440,000 a year and bin charges were the icing on the cake?)

This was unfortunately followed by another deception; that Bexley’s charge is lower than most. This ignores the fact that many boroughs make no charge at all. He hoped there would be a minimal loss of existing customers. Fines for littering and fly tipping will be increased.

Councillor Diment acknowledged that potholes were a concern but they are not all dangerous. (Tell that to a cyclist.)

A review of pedestrian crossings using a nationally approved formula resulted in 36 proposals being ranked. Four will be implemented. “The highest ranked schemes are outside Bedonwell School (Bedonwell Road, Belvedere), outside Old Bexley Primary School (Hurst Road, Bexley), outside St. Fidelis Catholic Primary School (Bexley Road, Erith) and outside Northumberland Heath Primary School (Wheelock Close, Erith).” For unstated reasons installation will be preceded by a public consultation.

When listening to the live webcast the cynic in me uncharitably said “where Conservative Councillors were making a fuss about crossings” which having checked the addresses more thoroghly was definitely over-egging the pudding somewhat, but I find the omission of Yarnton Way in Thamesmead mystifying to say the least.
I still think that being Cabinet Member for Places is a position that invites criticism. If the Council is broke services will be cut and charges increased and there is no way any Councillor can come out with the whole truth at a public meeting and survive the next selection committee.

Richard Diment is a decent man trapped by circumstances. It still doesn’t explain Yarnton Way though. Could it have been sneaked in unannounced?


Return to the top of this page
Bonkers is a cookie free zone. Not a single one