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Don't ignore our dead councillor'

PUBLISHED: 15:29 13 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:42 25 August 2010

Bexley
06-11-08
Elwyn Bryant sec of Bexley pensioners forum angry that council is ignoring a motion on pensions

Bexley 06-11-08 Elwyn Bryant sec of Bexley pensioners forum angry that council is ignoring a motion on pensions

THE WISHES of a late councillor who campaigned 'passionately' for pensioners has been ignored, say OAPs.

THE WISHES of a late councillor who campaigned 'passionately' for pensioners has been ignored, say OAPs.

East Wickham councillor Alf Catterall penned a motion demanding recognition of the low state pension weeks before he died after a short illness on October 23.

The 77-year-old was mayor of Bexley in 1991 and had been a councillor for 22 years, during which he campaigned for pensioners' rights. Yet Bexley Pensioners' Forum, where Mr Catterall was a committee member, was dismayed that his motion was never discussed at last Wednesday's full council meeting. Forum Secretary Elwyn Bryant said: "It is the centenary year of the state pension and Alf knew that this was relevant and important to us. It was one of the last things he did, and I don't think he wanted it buried with him."

The motion asked that Bexley council pays tribute to the 10-year campaign it took to secure the first state pension in 1908. It also asked the council to formally call the government to raise the basic state pension above the official poverty level.

Mr Bryant claimed the motion was "too embarrassing" for most politicians as it brought both the Labour and Conservative parties into disrepute.

The motion was modelled on an Early Day Motion (EDM) made by Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey.

It attracted 130 signatories, including Old Bexley and Sidcup MP Derek Conway, John Austin, MP for Erith and Thamesmead, and John Horam, MP for Orpington.

Mr Conway said: "Although I support the pensioners' general aims, I think they will have to take account of the economic recession which will hamper what any caring government can and should do. I do not think we shall see any dramatic improvement for three years at least."

Teresa O'Neill, leader of the council, said the motion was never formally tabled, but admitted her members were aware of Mr Catterall's desire to have it debated.

She said: "I will bring it up with the group to decide whether to bring it forward in February."

A memorial service for the late councillor is due to be held in Christchurch, Bexleyheath, at 1pm on November 18.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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