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Bonkers Blog May 2014

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4 May (Part 1) - Crass questions to council

TweetCouncillors’ questions to council are quite different to those members of the public attempt to ask. At least the Conservative ones are. There’s no real need for them to ask a question because all they need to do is grab someone at the bar of the Conservative Club or make a phone call. Probably that is why all their questions to council are of the crawling variety; the only point of them is to curry favour with the council leader and rub the opposition noses in the dirt if they possibly can. Peter Craske will be hoping to regain a cabinet position - assuming he is reelected - after losing his when the police traced an abusive blog to his telephone line.

Craske is so desperate to be noticed he put down six questions at last week’s council meeting…

Question 1


With Bexley’s economy growing twice as fast as the rest of the UK’s and Bexley’s unemployment rates having dropped by more than 30%, does the Cabinet Member think that if we had followed the doom and gloom, dogmatic oppose everything and anything approach of the Opposition then we would not have secured £200million of external investment that is benefitting the entire borough or attracted new businesses to the borough?


Question 2


As this is the last Full Council meeting in this building, has the Deputy Leader reflected on what would have been the impact for Bexley’s taxpayers if the Council had followed the alternative proposals to the Bexley First strategy put forward by the Labour Group?


Question 3


How many residents has the Leader met since 2010 saying they wished that instead of not raising their Council Tax Bill they would have preferred us to increase their bills?


Question 4


Could the Cabinet Member give an update on the Adult Social Care Vision recently been (sic) approved by Public Cabinet?


Question 5


Four years ago, the land in Blackfen and Lamorbey ward between Parish Gate Drive and Norfolk Crescent was just a patch of grass and rubble – now, four years later, it is the fantastic Parish Wood Park, which is full of life, and an asset greatly valued by the residents who joined the Council, ward councillors and community groups in campaigning for the funds to create this new park. Would the Leader agree that this shows what can be achieved when people roll up their sleeves, get stuck in and work together to improve their community?


Question 6


In light of what seem never-ending revelations about the governance of and state of the Co-Operative Bank, does the Cabinet Member have advice for any Bexley residents who may be customers of the Bank?


BiffaCouncillor ‘Biffa’ Bailey replied to the first question saying “Yes I do agree with you” but couldn’t leave it there because this is not really question time it is Tory propaganda time, so Linda went on for another one minute and fifty seconds. She said she was “particularly disappointed” at Scrutiny meetings where “opposition members there never ever praise anything, but we ignore them like we usually do and the success of the borough speaks for itself”.

She had “high hopes for the Bexley Business Website and the Magazine” and there “has been quite a lot of praise for it and it is definitely upping the game for Bexley”.

Councillor Seán Newman referred to the Cabinet Member for Regeneration’s continued resistance to the idea of a Thames Bridge. “When would she stop playing politics and commit to a local river crossing?” Councillor Bailey said she was “never against a river crossing“ and suggested that councillor Newman “became a bit more mature”. Seán couldn’t suppress a smile at Bailey forgetting the mayor’s wish expressed at the beginning of the meeting that members showed each other some respect.

Bailey then indulged in the habitual muddling of the Thames Gateway Bridge, rejected in the 1990s, with the much more recent and less ambitious proposal cancelled by Boris Johnson when he came to power in 2008. This subterfuge enables Bexley Tories to claim the support of a government inspector.

Seán Newman’s smile was by now in danger of erupting into laughter which prompted Biffa to say “you are so rude” to the Labour councillor. Far from the mayor putting a stop to Bailey’s second attempt to provoke councillor Newman, the mayor admonished him for passing a signal to a colleague. Probably because that was not the gravest of sins she decided that a little more mud should be aimed in his direction. She complained about him being a bit late coming to the meeting and told him he “must remain silent and keep his hands down”. Why not stand facing the corner with his hands on his head?

Biffa was determined to have the final say, “he needs to mature a bit more”. Having taken exactly three minutes to say “yes” to councillor Craske she decided that committing more insults to tape might look a little bit childish when reported and she flopped back into her chair.

CraskeCraske’s second question allowed deputy leader Campbell to say “we have got the key to Watling Street this week” and “all the costs have been 100% covered by the financial plans this administration approved and we look like coming in significantly below budget”.

He referred to the opposition’s more expensive scheme in Erith acknowledging that “it was a good scheme”. Watling Street “is not a glory project like the Labour group one that didn’t have any merit to it.” Can you have ‘a good scheme’ which ‘doesn’t have any merit’?

Councillor Peter Craske could not resist extending the discussion across the river to Newham where, so he says, the council spent £111 million on a new HQ building. Unsurprisingly, the mayor did not spot that this is an irrelevancy and allowed Campbell to indulge in party politics. It is perhaps unfortunate that he said that this has impacted on the council tax that Newham residents pay. i.e. 15% less than we in Bexley are charged with free residents parking and bulky refuse removal thrown in for good measure.

After managing to label a Labour councillor “sad” and all of them “a disgrace”, Campbell eventually shut up after six and a half minutes.

Perhaps you will be relieved to know that some waffling by councillor Don Massey about library opening times used up the remainder of the 30 minutes allotted to public and councillors’ questions so you are not likely to learn whether rolling up sleeves and getting stuck in is a beneficial activity or not.

 

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