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Bonkers Blog February 2014

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18 February (Part 2) - Slash costs and services. Spend plenty on their new HQ

LeafletAnother extract from Bexley Conservative’s election leaflet; this time they are claiming they haven’t spent a penny of taxpayers’ money on moving themselves from one old building to another. It may be true that housing all staff at the same address will be more efficient and save money but did it really cost nothing? And will it be big enough? Doubts were expressed at the Constitutional Review Panel meeting last year.

When the Woolwich HQ refurbishment is discussed at meetings, the public has been flung out. Councillors were heard complaining that while they remained in the room they learned nothing.

At a meeting where the public was not kicked out it was revealed that rebuilding on the existing site would have been seven or eight million pounds cheaper than going around the corner to 2 Watling Street. When Nicholas Dowling asked to see the accounts while they were supposedly available for public inspection, no evidence that the costs were neutral were forthcoming.

Earlier this month councillor Munir Malik asked cabinet member Colin Campbell how much the sale of the vacated sites would raise and was refused an answer.

The only way the project can be cost neutral is if the “four different inefficient buildings” are sold for the price of refurbishing the ‘new’ one. A neat coincidence that probably doesn’t add up. The cost of refurbishing the Woolwich HQ is currently said to be £42 million but at the meeting that approved it the figure was £36 million. Have the old buildings sold at an unexpected £6 million price premium?

The answer to that has to be no. Colin Campbell recently said that one of the old council buildings is not to be sold at all. I might have missed such a quick announcement but my recorder misses very little.

If Bexley’s Conservative elite makes a claim there is a very strong chance it will be a lie.

 

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