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Bonkers Blog June 2011

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30 June (Part 2) - Propaganda alert

Bexley magazineBexley’s quarterly magazine is fortunately not unrelieved propaganda as those of some Labour councils appear to be, nor does it try to put the local press out of business as some councils do but personally I don’t find it as readable as the similar but fortnightly Newham magazine, possibly because that usually contains more local history, often of long standing local businesses or biographies of local people, some of them just elderly but ordinary folk with long memories. But maybe that is just a personal preference.

Bexley’s magazine is by no means a local Pravda, nor does it resort to the blatant lying that may be found on the local Conservative website (Labour councillors say there is no railway station in Bexleyheath. Labour councillor can’t find the centre of Erith); that is nonsense written by juvenile minds that might be just as capable of writing an obscene blog. The Magazine doesn’t usually make inflated claims like council Leader Teresa O’Neill who boasts she has given us one of the the lowest council tax rates in Outer London. More nonsense that has been debunked before. No, the Bexley magazine is far more subtle than that.

I don’t fully understand their reasoning on the financial savings Bexley claims to make each year from one-off cut-backs. The council ran a tram service between Erith and Abbey Wood until 1935 but it made no money and was closed in 1935. Is Bexley council still saving thousands a year because they got rid of the trams? I never took up smoking in the 1950s when many of my friends did. Have I been saving large sums ever since? I used to spend money on hi-fi gear but I’ve not done so for a long time. If I added up all the things I have ‘saved’ money on though a lifetime of changing fads and needs I would be saving more than my income. I doubt proper accounting works like that. Bexley council tells us (Magazine Page 15) they are saving £20,000 per year from wrecking the fountain. How long before that drops off the radar? It can’t be a saving for ever or the tramway would still get a mention. If it can’t be for ever it can’t be arbitrary either; accountancy is not arbitrary. Surely the only true alternative is to accept a one-off cut provides a one-off saving?

They do it again on Page 10. We are going to save £1 million every year by refurbishing the Woolwich building for the next council HQ. It may sound like a saving every year, I can see it may look that way before you think about it, but if it is true we are still saving money from building the present Civic Centre 30 years ago. Will we soon be saving the money on both HQ moves? No of course not, if it worked that way the council tax would be zero by now. I note that the ’savings’ from the enforced crossing of legs right across town have not been mentioned. Bexley magazine may not be Pravda but it does engage in low-level brainwashing.

Another intriguing statistic in the Magazine is the annual road expenditure. £3 million to be spent on frost damage and other repairs to 300 miles of road. (Page 7.) I would have thought Bexley had more road length than that but a few arithmetical assumptions suggests 300 miles could be about right. So that’s £10,000 spent on every mile, the same as last year. Quite likely much the same as the year before that. Where is the money going? Are our streets paved with gold? If we look at councillor Craske’s figures on the cost of Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ) it is possible to surmise that white-lining costs at least six pounds a foot. If you think that is a silly figure then blame Craske, he had to justify the CPZ charges somehow, but that sort of sum makes more than £30,000 for a mile of paint, so his £10,000 average is going to go nowhere. If you doubt all this the only explanation is that Craske’s figures were made up to suit himself or Bexley council is the most mismanaged money wasting shambles imaginable. Difficult choice I know, but having just seen how they managed TIC I am drawn towards thinking that Craske may be an honest man. No that can’t be right either.

Pravda : “The official organ of the Russian Communist Party until 1991.”
Brainwashing : “Mind abuse / thought control first practiced by North Korean Communists circa 1951.”

 

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