Since discovering from the papers released by the Local Government Ombudsman that it was Thamesmead East councillor Sandra Bauer who had complained about the appearance of Mrs. Rita Grootendorst’s garden in Sidcup I have been looking around for a connection. There must be one, maybe she was on good terms with one of Mrs. G’s immediate neighbours and abused her position or perhaps there is a direct political link. So far my probing has produced nothing of much use but I have learned a few things I didn’t know before.
One such is that Mrs. Grootendorst stood as an Independent councillor in the Erith ward in 2006. It would seem that the Independent candidates severely damaged the Labour vote and Munir Malik was pushed down into fifth place. That wouldn’t go down too well. It was the year that Labour lost out big time to the Tories and with it, control of Bexley council. Sandra Bauer was first elected the same year in neighbouring Thamesmead East. For her to then make getting an Independent candidate into trouble a priority is very puzzling.
It wasn’t the first time Rita Grootendorst had annoyed Bexley’s ruling elite. She had stood up against them when there was a plan to sell off allotments and was part of a group which overturned that plan. That wouldn’t make her popular. Bexley council then evicted her and others from the allotment and said she had left building material on it. They charged her £2,270 pounds for its removal when she could not afford to fight the eviction notice in court. A letter in the News Shopper at the time said “There can be no doubt this amounts to a punitive fine levied on them because they were vocal in opposing the now discredited allotment strategy led by councillors Joel Briant and Chris Ball. This thinly disguised land grab was eventually defeated by the efforts of many in the allotments movement and thus we still retain the part of the green belt which would have been sold off. To pick on the Grootendorsts in this way is nothing other than petty spite against perhaps the most vulnerable of us”.
Rita Grootendorst has always indicated to me that her problems with Bexley council are bound up in their need for revenge on anyone who might stand up against them. It’s not so far removed from the mindset that sees charges brought against Olly Cromwell for uttering the C word on Twitter against someone he failed to identify. There is even a Sandra Bauer link again.
But interesting though the new (to me) facts might be, it still doesn’t satisfactorily explain why Sandra Bauer, newly elected in Thamesmead East, felt her first act should be to complain about Rita G. and kick off a case which has cost her a fortune in solicitor’s bills ever since. Unless she is simply spiteful. Perhaps someone out there knows the answer.
Erith ward 2006 election results
News Shopper letter
This entry based on suggestions and research by readers gratefully acknowledged.