Yesterday’s cabinet meeting was chaired by deputy leader Gareth Bacon. No one said why but
it is sure to be connected with the fact that the B-i-B banners have been
flowery and black since last Tuesday and the bobbing Teresa temporarily banished. Her mother
died last week.
There was, apart from that, nothing unusual about the meeting, it was back to its usual under half hour format, the sound system was absolutely awful - I doubt the loudspeakers were switched on - and councillor Philip Read went out of his way to prove that he is by far the most vile individual to have ever sullied Bexley’s council chamber. All standard stuff.
Read’s disgraceful contribution had absolutely zero relevance to the subject under discussion, viz. the budget proposals, but an utterly useless chairman failed to intervene. As a result of Gareth Bacon’s incompetence the meeting had to endure a four minutes and forty five seconds personal attack on Labour councillor Mabel Ogundayo. This was revenge for her putting a motion to the last council meeting critical of Bexley’s long history of failure in the area of children’s care. Bexley’s over-sensitive Conservative members chose to exclude the public from that criticism in case too many truths came out. Personal attacks are however fair game for the webcast when an opposition councillor is in the frame.
The reliably obnoxious councillor Philip Read wasted almost exactly 20% of the meeting with his irrelevant diatribe. It may have been full council material but to indulge his own bile during what should have been a discussion about Bexley’s dire financial position showed the full depth of his putrid personality, just as it did when Read made up stories about John Kerlen which saw him dumped in a police cell on false allegations in 2012.
There was a good turnout by both Labour and Conservative councillors eager to hear just how bad the news for Bexley is going to be but as not one of them, with a single exception, made any contribution, they might just as well stayed at home and watched the webcast. Presumably that is what the three UKIP members did, though it does look bad when none turn up. Cabinet member Don Massey couldn’t resist making one of his well known jibes about their absence.
Councillor Gareth Bacon set the mood of the meeting at its very beginning by saying that the coming year will be the first when council tax revenues were expected to form more than 50% of council income but overall the meeting shed no more light on the budget than did yesterday’s blog.
Director of Finance Alison Griffin (pictured below left) repeated the assertion that prices would all go up by 3% with not a word about the dozens of massive exceptions. A new figure of £79 million as the savings target was glossed over without comment. (Audio clip below.)
The Deputy Director of Finance, John Peters, spoke too but he was inaudible in
the chamber and the recording is no better.
Sheila Murphy (Deputy Director of Children’s Care) said that the Social Worker vacancy problem has reduced, permanent staff have risen from 50 to 60% of posts and the Agenda revealed that one Irish recruit is now in post with more soon being very possible.
The small part of cabinet member Read’s contribution which didn’t come from his vitriol bottle covered the gradual improvement in the OFSTED and DFE reports on the performance of his department but no reference to things that had gone in the other direction.
The only ordinary councillor to open his mouth was Labour’s Daniel Francis. He asked how much it had cost to run two budget consultations - first the one ending on 9th January and now the new one - instead of just one. No one knew the answer.
As one might expect, councillor Francis did not miss the most important point, that the 1,821 submissions to Consultation No. 1 had been totally ignored. They always are Daniel, I’m sure you must know that by now.