was only one item of note on the Agenda of last night’s cabinet meeting
and Mick Barnbrook and Co. had asked me to join them for a Christmas drink
afterward so I only ever planned to stay for the presentation of the Blackfen
Library Petition. This is not going to be a detailed report, one will come
later, because I have less than an hour to write it before I have a shopping date with a 94 year old!
Bexley council has proposed that more of its libraries are turned over to privately run groups like Bexley village and Slade Green libraries have been. Failing that they will close. Blackfen is potentially for the chop and Karen Mensa-Bonsu had organised a petition against it. She easily gathered 3,017 signatures and persuaded Conservative councillors Peter Craske and Alan Beckwith to sponsor it. From one point of view that was a good move - without councillor sponsorship Bexley council would have resorted to their usual practice of refusing to accept it. On the other hand it indicates a failure to recognise that all Bexley Conservatives are working for the greater good - of each other.
To expect Peter Craske to work honestly at all would probably be a mistake but to expect him to work against his friend councillor Alex Sawyer who is the library chopper-in-chief is really not very clever. Has everyone forgotten that Craske connived with Sawyer at the inappropriate People Scrutiny meeting to engineer an excuse for Sawyer to espouse his plans for closing the Belvedere Splash Park? Anyone who doesn’t believe it will close is again someone who has not followed the way Bexley council operates.
Ms. Mensa-Bonsu was allowed to speak against Blackfen Library moving out of council control for five minutes after which she was questioned at length by all the cabinet members one by one. Several of them were honest, sort of, by saying straight away that they were going to back the potential closure.
Councillor Don Massey took issue with Karen because some group not closely connected to her had put out a notice which referred to closure and Massey said that was a false allegation. Ms. Mensa-Bonsu said that the consultation document actually mentioned possible closure and in any case she cannot answer for what other organisations might say. Later on council officer Toni Ainge confirmed that closure is an option and that cabinet member Don Massey is just a mischief maker or maybe not as bright as he thinks he is.
When Karen Mensa-Bonsu tried to correct another cabinet inaccuracy, leader Teresa O’Neill rudely shouted her down with a comment to the effect that the public is not allowed to point out that a cabinet member is spouting rubbish.
The Labour opposition were as good as they usually are. Seán Newman, Stefano Borella and Joe Ferreira made some valid points but their leader Alan Deadman said not a word. To be fair the Tory monolith will always roll over them because as the arrogant Fat Controller herself never ceases to remind us, she won the election, so there!
After about an hour and a half the leader decided the cabinet had done a decent job of making themselves look totally undemocratic and suggested they approve the proposal to cut library services. They sort of mumbled unanimous agreement in a totally unprofessional manner and couldn’t even be bothered to stick their hands up.
I must apologise for the brevity of this report, it is all from memory and a whole load of detail is omitted. Tape analysis must wait for the weekend. There has been a bit of a domestic crisis in my street this morning and I have been doing what I can to help out; all the available time rapidly disappeared.