2018 – record breaking end to the year

October

At this month’s Cabinet meeting, the Conservative administration took the decision to exempt young adults leaving care from Council Tax. Cllr Philip Read, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said the decision “will make an enormous difference to young adults leaving our care.”

An independent report into the way the London Borough of Bexley works was published. It concluded Bexley has strong political leadership, a Leader respected across London, a growing influence, solid financial management and great ambition. The report praised the commitment of Council staff to the Borough, and said that the Borough was respected across Government and the wider community.

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The Borough’s second Ageing Well event was a huge success, with over 40 organisations attending, showcasing all the different things they could offer to residents who were growing older. The accompanying Ageing Well magazine launched at the event as well.

November

The draft budget proposals covering 2019-2023 were published, with people invited to comment on all the proposals being presented, with each proposal being considered published in full. A formal consultation then opened which would run until January.

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The first Council funded “Changing Places” bathroom for people with disabilities in London was opened in Bexleyheath. Based in the refurbished Central Library, this project was funded because of the political decision we took in our 17/18 budget to deliver this vital facility.

300 new street trees started to be planted across Bexley. This follows on from the 300 street trees planted last winter and is part of our manifesto commitment to plant 1,000 new street trees by the end of 2020. Astonishingly every Labour Councillor voted against creating the new street tree planting budget!

It was agreed to create a new Children’s University, and business plan for BexleyCo was approved by a Cabinet Committee.

December

Official statistics published by the Government show Bexley has been the number one Borough in London for recycling for a record 14th year in a row, and are one of the best councils for recycling in the country.

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Over 1,000 people sign the pledge to #doitforBexley and pick up at least one piece of plastic litter a week – meaning over 50,000 pieces of plastic litter will be removed from the Borough.

For the first time ever, we introduced a new element to the budget setting process, with a joint meeting of the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committees held to examine the budget in detail. Councillors from all four of the committees studied the draft budget proposals for over three hours before the final decisions are made in the New Year. No budget proposals were tabled by Labour Councillors for consideration.

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2018 in review – a clear mandate after a positive campaign

April

At the final Council meeting of the 2014-18 term, tributes were paid to Councillors who were not seeking re-election. Whether they had served four years or forty, the commitment they had to public service was praised by other members of the Council.

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The formal campaigning got underway for the 3rd May local election. These would be the first ones taking place under new ward boundaries to elect 30% fewer Councillors – in line with our 2014 election manifesto.

Our positive campaign that focused on Bexley’s future was underlined by our candidates signing a clean campaign pledge – however, despite many requests, no other candidates seeking election would sign such a pledge; hardly surprising giving the relentless negative campaigning of other candidates.

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While the negative attacks from other parties and candidates – who seemed to spend the entire election attacking us – continued we were out and about every day talking to real people about real issues in all parts of the Borough. We were pleased to welcome so many supporters from other parts of London and the South East throughout the campaign.

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May

The voters of Bexley responded to our solely positive campaign and gave us a fourth landslide election victory in a row in what was in fact our most successful ever election campaign. We saw our share of the vote go up 12%, winning 55% of all votes cast, and a 7% increase in the number of seats we hold.

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Having boasted how they were going to win at least 22 seats and probably take control of the Council, Labour’s negative campaign based on running down Bexley was humiliatingly rejected by voters for a fourth time, with a dramatic reduction in the number of seats they held.

The new administration took office formally at the end of the month, but rather than waiting until then we all started back to work on 4th May, planning what needed to be done to begin the implementation of our manifesto commitments.

May also marked four years since the Council had moved into a single office in Watling Street, with new figures showing the decision to move sites was delivering annual savings of over £2m a year – our 2014 manifesto pledged to deliver savings of £1.5m so once again we delivered more than we promised.

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Labour Councillors had voted against this entire project, opposing the saving of £2m a year and opposing the new homes for local families that were built on the sites of the former civic office sites.

June

Our manifesto commitment to make the litter enforcement pilot scheme permanent was delivered. At the same time fly-tippers received a crushing blow after illegally dumping waste in Slade Green. The perpetrators were identified and their vans were crushed to little pieces.

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A fantastic Borough celebration to mark the anniversary of the Windrush generation was staged in Bexleyheath, the event included the annual Civic Parade.

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2018 – a year of record achievements

Councillor Teresa O’Neill OBE looks back on 2018 in our review of the year.“2018 was a very busy year, with a lot of achievements and successes to celebrate. In May Bexley residents gave us a huge mandate to carry on running our Council – in fact it was our most successful election result, securing 55% of all votes cast in what was our fourth landslide victory in a row.

While others spent the election and indeed the year running down our Borough, we‘ve just been getting on with the job of making Bexley even better than it is now.

Bexley is one of the most successful and respected Councils in the country, one that is either rated as the best or one of the very best at what it does, across all types of services. That’s because we have always taken decisions for the long term benefit of our Borough, invested in the future now and ensured we don’t stand still and slip behind, as some would prefer. Sadly, many of the successful projects that have benefited the Borough were all opposed by Labour Councillors.

From the Ofsted report on Children’s Services to record breaking visitor numbers for Hall Place, great exam results and new facilities for people with disabilities, we just keep the focus on the real issues that matter to real people.

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January

Having taken over the management of Hall Place in 2017, we staged the “Dino Live” Exhibition which so successful it saw a record breaking 12,500 people visit, compared to only 300 in the previous January.

The final batch of the Borough’s 19,000 street lights saw their old light bulbs replaced with longer lasting, energy efficient LED bulbs, substantially reducing maintenance and energy costs, creating an annual saving to taxpayers of over £600,000.

Central Library in Bexleyheath closed for five weeks in order for major refurbishment works to be carried out, including much needed repairs to the roof and a new exhibition space. As part of this, work began on installing a new “Changing Places” facility for people with disabilities which was formally opened in November.

February

The Labour Mayor of London announced he was scrapping Bexley’s Borough Police force and merging it with Lewisham and Greenwich, places with much higher crime rates. Having already cut the number of police officers in Bexley by over 50 since he took office, the Labour Mayor had been forced to back down on his original proposal to close Bexley’s police station completely after Conservative Councillors and residents stood together in opposition.

Our new Ageing Well strategy was launched, creating prevention programmes that support people to live and age well.

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The first ever Borough Literary Festival, the Bexley Book Buzz took place – and was supported by over 3,000 residents who attended over 100 events in two weeks.

March

Councillors approved the Council Budget for 2018/19 which meant there was £32million of investment in education, a 15% increase in funding for adult social care over three years, a new library for Thamesmead, £1m for playgrounds, £9m for highways maintenance and £5m for more affordable homes.

Key services such as street cleaning, parks and open spaces, libraries and playgrounds all saw increases in budgets and a record £45milion was invested to tackle homelessness and provide more homes.

In the Budget Council meeting every single Labour Councillor voted against every single proposal – so while Conservatives voted for increased investment and delivered new funding to help disabled children, adults with learning disabilities and the elderly, Labour Councillors chose to have their voted recorded as opposing all these things.

At the budget meeting an emergency motion was tabled by Conservative Cllrs calling on the Labour Mayor of London to scrap his plan to axe Bexley’s Borough police force. Disappointingly every Labour Councillor also voted against this motion and went into the election campaign fully backing the scrapping Bexley’s police force.

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The Minister for Libraries opened the newly revamped library in Crayford, which is now also home to the town’s Post Office, while over 800 young people attended the Council’s apprenticeship event.

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2018 review – a summer of major successes

July

The Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission – appointed by Government to direct transformative investment in the Thames Estuary – recommended extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet in Kent. It called for £20m to be made available so the project could be delivered over the next decade. This was a central commitment in our election manifesto, to campaign hard for this project and the support of the Growth Commission was a vital step in that journey. In fact, we started campaigning for the Ebbsfleet extension in 2008.

The results of the £4million investment at Lesnes Abbey continued to pay off, as the site won the London Borough Tree and Woodland Award, following a year in which the number of visitors had increased by 15%. This was followed by Lesnes and Hall Place being named as among the best parks in the entire world, by winning the international Green Flag awards.

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Work began to improve the approach to Erith Station got underway with new seating, trees and shrubbery plus more bicycle racks which will be more secure. The existing heritage lights which are a key feature on the station building, which is locally listed, will be restored and brought back into full use.

Following the major investment made in keeping Bexley’s streets clean and tidy (investment opposed by Labour), new figures shows the number of residents complaining about street cleanliness had dropped a further 24%, following the 38% drop earlier in the year.

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August

The results of the Ofsted inspection were published – and it revealed Bexley’s Children’s Services were rated as “Outstanding.” In fact, it showed the service was among the top five in the country, an incredible achievement.

In its report, Ofsted gave the following assessment of Bexley’s Children’s Services:

  • The impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families – outstanding
  • The experiences and progress of children who need help and protection – outstanding
  • The experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers – good
  • Overall effectiveness – Outstanding

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The 200 year old Charter Oak in Danson Park was featured on BBC Breakfast for showing signs of strong recovery after receiving a new innovative treatment in November last year. For several years the tree had shown decreasing leaf cover over its huge canopy and signs that a potentially destructive fungus had taken hold. But after a specialist contractor de-compacted the soil around the tree’s root system and inject an enriched soil improver, the tree started to burst back into life as crown became denser after only nine months.

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Our manifesto commitment to improve internet connectivity was delivered as, after working with BT Open Reach, superfast broadband was made available to over 10,000 homes.

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September

The Medway and Kent NHS announced that Darent Valley Hospital was the preferred option for new urgent stroke services. This was something your Bexley Conservative Councillors had been campaigning for, although the final decision won’t be taken until 2019.

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The campaign to extend Crossrail to Ebbsfleet gathered even more support, with the announcement that London City Airport was now backing the idea.

Bexley’s Conservative Council joined forces with Labour Greenwich to undertake a deep clean of Wilton Road in Abbey Wood. Staff from both Councils worked together to undertake the project and it followed a previous Wilton Road Improvement Programme which involved both councils joining forces to support 13 independent businesses to make shop front improvements and modernise their marketing methods.

New figures were released showing under the Conservatives Bexley has one of the lowest rates of child poverty in London.

Exactly as we predicted would happen following the Labour Mayor of London’s decision to axe Bexley’s Borough police force and merge it with Lewisham and Greenwich, it was announced the Bexley burglary unit was to be disbanded.

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4,000 people attended the Erith Pier Festival, as part of the Greater Erith Regeneration Programme, which is partly funded by the London Borough of Bexley.

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Elected on 3rd May, back to work on the 4th.

Elected on 3rd May, back to work on the 4th.

Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE, Leader of the London Borough of Bexley, explains what has been happening across the Council and the Borough since this year’s election.

“Thank you for your support. We were all honoured to have been given such a decisive mandate from residents in May’s election.

While many Councils have just cut services year after year, our strategy has always been to take a long term approach to transform services, invest in prevention work which helps avoid future costs and anticipate future need. It has been a strategy that has delivered tangible results and success.

The fact we have the best recycling rates in London shows that in action. A major investment a decade ago has increased recycling to record rates and saved millions of pounds too by avoiding the need to pay huge land fill charges.

We’ve all been working flat out since May’s election to implement our manifesto and set out priorities.

Our positive campaign and strong record of delivery year after year received a huge endorsement – we were re-elected with 55% of the vote, increased our vote share by 12% and we were elected to represent over 75% of the seats.

We also now have 30% fewer Councillors, having delivered our 2014 pledge to reduce our numbers – in fact we are the only group of Councillors in the country to voluntarily propose to cut our numbers and we have delivered that exactly as promised.

We have welcomed newly elected Councillors and I am proud to have been re-elected to serve as Leader of the Council.

And we haven’t stopped working since the election.

We are already delivering on our election manifesto and we have seen some stunning achievements.

Firstly, in July Ofsted suddenly announced they were coming to inspect our Children’s Services Department. With little notice our staff went above and beyond to prepare for and then undergo this rigorous and independent inspection.

Cllr Philip Read, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services was interviewed by the inspectors and was able to talk through all the improvements and investment that had been made over the previous four years.

And at the end of it, Ofsted declared that the Bexley Children’s Services were “outstanding” – the highest rating possible!

Everyone of us is so proud of this achievement and the hard work and commitment that went into this rating.

While the Mayor of London has announced a delay in the opening of the new Crossrail our manifesto pledge to push for Crossrail to be extending to Ebbsfleet remains on track.

This follows the announcement by the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission that they fully recommended the Government implement this proposed extension.

This news was followed with the announcement that London City Airport we’re behind the scheme too.

And we have secured an agreement with BT Openreach to roll out super fast broadband to over 10,000 homes in Bexley with more to come.

Alongside this, Lesnes Abbey and Hall Place have won international awards, which means they are two of the best parks on the entire planet. Lesnes Abbey has also won the Forestry Commission London Borough Tree and Woodland Award. We’ve also been able to secure a new cinema for Sidcup and embarked on major improvements at Erith station.

Our manifesto commitment to make the trial litter enforcement service a permanent fixture was delivered in June.

Our zero tolerance policy for those who mess up Bexley by dropping litter or flytipping has led to over 7,000 fines being issued and the seizure and crushing of vehicles involved in illegal dumping of waste. And we have purchased more street trees ready to plant this winter, which means our commitment for 1,000 new street trees by 2020 is on course for delivery.

So we haven’t wasted a moment and we will continue repaying your trust in us to make the right decisions in the long term interests of the Borough for the next four years.”

Bexley voters elect Bexley Conservatives to run the Borough

Bexley Conservatives have been re-elected in a fourth landslide election victory – taking 34 of the 45 seats and 55% of all votes cast.

It means the Conservatives will run Bexley for another four years, having first won control of the Council in 2006.

Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE, Leader of Bexley Conservatives, said:

“We are all honoured to have received such a decisive mandate from Bexley residents for a 4th time. It is great so many residents trust us to do a good job.

We set out a detailed range of policies in our manifesto, and we are already getting back to work to begin implementing them.

All of our candidates worked their socks off, never taking anything for granted, and we delivered a copies of our manifesto across the Borough.

We set out a clear agenda for what we would do over the next four years, and with such an emphatic endorsement from residents, we will deliver everything we pledged.”

Election results:

Conservatives      34 seats

Labour                   11 seats

Bexley’s Conservative Councillors approve a budget that invests more resources in council services – while Labour Councillors oppose EVERY Budget proposal.

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Bexley has an even brighter future following the decision by Conservative Councillors to approve the budget plans for 2018/19 at Budget Council on 7th March 2018.

The decision means there will be £32million of investment in education, a 15% increase in funding for adult social care over three years, a new library for Thamesmead, £1m for playgrounds, £9m for highways maintenance and £5m for more affordable homes.

Key services such as street cleaning, parks and open spaces, libraries and playgrounds will all see increases in budgets and a record £45milion is to be invested to tackle homelessness and provide more homes.

Cllr Teresa O’Neill, OBE, Leader of Bexley’s Conservatives, said:

“We have worked hard since 2014 to deliver the financial strategy we set out in our election manifesto, and to increase investment across all Council services. We have an optimistic, positive vision for our Borough and this budget reflects that exactly.

Instead of just cutting services and closing things down like neighbouring Labour Councils we have made our services more efficient and effective. An independent audit of our Council shows we are rated as providing value for money in all we do.”

In the Budget Council meeting every Labour Councillor voted against every single proposal in the Budget – so while Conservatives increase investment and deliver new funding to help disabled children, adults with learning disabilities and the elderly, Labour Councillors are now on record as opposing all these things.

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A spokesperson for Bexley’s Conservative Councillors added: “It is astonishing that the so-called “caring” Labour Party actually voted against £45million to help the homeless, and voted against over £50million of funding for our Borough’s excellent schools.

Voters have a real choice in May – do they want a hard left Council opposing funding for the disabled and those who are homeless or a just right common sense Conservative council that quietly gets on with the job of making Bexley better.”

By law, all votes at Budget Council are publicly recorded so residents can clearly see how their own councillors voted at the most important meeting of the year.

How your Councillors voted on the key budget issues:

£32million for education and £24million for school expansion and new school places

Conservatives                   FOR

Labour                               AGAINST

£2million to help residents with special educational needs

Conservatives                   FOR

Labour                               AGAINST

£500,000 for a new library for Thamesmead

Conservatives                   FOR

Labour                               AGAINST

£1millon for Bexley’s playgrounds

Conservatives                   FOR

Labour                               AGAINST

£193,000 for flood risk management to keep homes and property safe

Conservatives                   FOR

Labour                               AGAINST

£261,000 for the Borough’s allotments

Conservatives                   FOR

Labour                               AGAINST

£9.4m for highways maintenance and street lighting

Conservatives                   FOR

Labour                               AGAINST

£4m for the Disabled Facilities Grant

Conservatives                   FOR

Labour                               AGAINST

£45m to invest in housing and tackle homelessness

Conservatives                   FOR

Labour                               AGAINST

£5m to invest in new affordable homes

Conservatives                   FOR

Labour                               AGAINST

£19million for Erith regeneration

Conservatives                   FOR

Labour                               AGAINST

 

Bexley’s Borough police command unit scrapped by Labour Mayor of London

Sign our petition here

The Borough’s Police Command centre is being scrapped and merged with those of other London Boroughs under plans published by the Labour Mayor of London.

This means an end to Bexley residents having a Borough police force; from 19th March our police force will be merged with Lewisham and Greenwich.

This announcement shows that the now scrapped plan to close Bexley’s police station was never serious, it was just being used as a distraction to divert attention from this merger plan.

Bexley has already lost 43 police officers since the Mayor of London took office and this announcement could have a dramatic impact on police response times for victims of crime in Bexley.

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Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE, Leader of Bexley Council, said:

“Bexley has been one of the safest places to live in London for year after year because we all work closely as a community to support our police force and the officers who serve us.

Instead of a police force operating in Bexley for Bexley we will now have to wait in line for responses to incidents elsewhere, especially given how much higher crime rates are in Greenwich and Lewisham.”

By stark contrast, in places like Kent, Sussex and Surrey their Conservative Police and Crime Commissioners are increasing police numbers and investing in police stations.

Under Labour in London, police stations are closing and police officers are being reduced.

This decision by the Labour Mayor of London puts Bexley’s hard won achievement as one of the safest places to live in London at risk.

In the pilot scheme trialled in Havering, Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge police response times dramatically increased.

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A spokesperson for Bexley’s Conservative Councillors said:

“We have already lost 43 police officers since the Labour Mayor took office.

We urge all residents to join us in opposing these plans. Bexley is one of the safest places to live in London and has been for many years.

The hard work to achieve this risks being undone with a stroke of a pen, taken in City Hall by a Labour Mayor who has no understanding of Bexley and what matters to the people who live here.”

Join our campaign – Say No to Khan’s Cop Cuts here

We are standing up for Bexley.

Going for Growth – a long-term strategy for making the Borough a great place to live and work is full steam ahead !

An ambitious and exciting strategy to ensure Bexley’s vitality for the next thirty years has been approved by Bexley’s Conservative Cabinet.
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The strategy seizes the initiative, and focuses on creating communities and places where people will want to live for generations and securing new businesses and new jobs.

The Growth Strategy has been developed over the last two years, and is supported by all political parties on the London Borough of Bexley. Many public meetings and roadshows were held to develop the strategy, giving many residents and businesses the opportunities to shape the final strategy.

Read the Strategy here.

Cllr Linda Bailey, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Growth, said:

“The new strategy sets out a long-term vision for Bexley and the principles which will underpin the growth we expect to see. If we rest on our laurels and do nothing then it won’t take long for our Borough to wither and go into decline or the growth to be ‘done unto us’ in a way that could be detrimental to Bexley residents.

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That is why we have to start work now, to ensure Bexley has a bright and prosperous future, where people want to live for years to come, and where businesses want to relocate or open up, creating jobs for everyone.”
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Cllr Bailey added: “There are children starting school who will go into jobs that don’t even exist yet, and we want Bexley to be at the forefront of securing investment and opportunities for everyone who lives here.”