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Bonkers Blog January 2012

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31 January (Part 2) - Cabinet capers

The Agenda and associated documents for yesterday’s cabinet meeting measured 24 millimetres thick and some sections are beautifully produced; I shudder to think what they might have cost. Probably it is unavoidable so perhaps it is fortunate that few copies are needed. There were just three members of the public present, two from the Bexley Council Monitoring Group, and me. Almost an inch of paper looked like we were in for a long meeting, but no. It started at 19:32 and by 19:51 it was all over.

When I first attended these meetings just over a year ago I commented on how they were amateur night and nothing like the board meetings I participated in before retirement. Things have improved. Last night there was an outward appearance of good management and discipline. The simple expedient of gagging councillor Craske has worked wonders. Nevertheless I suspect that the brevity is intended to restrict the opportunity for criticism and that democracy is being shafted big time.

The big issue of the evening was approval of a new school for autistic children and welcome though that must be to those affected by the condition I suspect that it was councillor Colin Campbell’s brief address that will be of greatest interest. After taking the customary swipe at the Labour Party and councillor Munir Malik in particular he came as close as he could do before the formal decision is taken, to announcing that Bexley’s council tax rates will not be going up this year. Not as good as a couple of other London boroughs which have already announced reductions but at least we don’t look like being robbed any more than we are already - except that a quick read through the 24 millimetres of paper shows that charges for services other than parking are all being increased at around the rate of inflation. So try not to die, return your library book late or borrow the box set of Downton Abbey.

CCTV for road safetyThe biggest surprise to be found buried in the documentation is that the scheme to use the fixed CCTV system for fining motorists parking badly or doing U-turns etc. has been abandoned. The warning signs have gone up all over town, Craske said that he wanted to get full “value for money” from the cameras but all we have now for an explanation of his own U-turn is “planned income of £81,000 from enforcement of moving traffic contraventions will not now be forthcoming”. Elsewhere in the comments on parking it is revealed that income for the current financial year is down “by £0·4 million reflecting continued reduced usage which is attributed to the recession”. No mention of the fact that Bexley has the most expensive shopping centre parking of all the adjacent boroughs and is the only one that aims to deter evening and Sunday trade. Not to mention the phone only fiasco.

Chief Executive Will Tuckley was on the top table, he uttered not a word. This evening the rejection of the petition on excessive salaries is to be considered by the Scrutiny Committee.

 

31 January (Part 1) - Bexley council - In trouble with the Information Commissioner again

It’s almost forgotten but it wasn’t just Elwyn Bryant and me who were the subject of Bexley council’s obscene blog, Nicholas Dowling and Olly Cromwell got a mention too. Nicholas was said to have been up to no good in the Cinema car park. He chose not to complain to the police but he did ask Bexley council to check if the obscene blog had been accessed from council computers. We know the council can do that, how else can it keep and publish a record of the 100 most popular sites visited by staff? Needless to say, Bexley council refused to give Nicholas the information.

Procedural delays can be extraordinarily long but more than six months later the Information Commissioner has finally ruled that Bexley council has broken the law again and must answer Nicholas’s question within the next 35 calendar days from 26 January 2011.

Every single question about the obscene blog has been evaded so far. The council knows something but is never likely to say, preferring, as has been said before, to harbour a criminal rather than expose one. I haven’t a clue who the culprit might be, only that at one time the only man privy to the information was Chris Loynes, the Head of Member Services, who disappeared soon afterwards.

On a related subject; Bexleyheath police’s refusal to give any explanation about why they issued me with a Harassment Letter (Form 9993) last April reached the top of the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s in-tray last week and I have been told they are now looking into that bit of Bexley council inspired nonsense too.

 

30 January - Still in the dark about The Black Horse

On the 2nd of the month the planning documents that may have allowed residents to see what was to replace the historic facade to Sidcup’s Black Horse coaching inn weren’t available to the public. Two days before the month’s end the situation is unchanged. A Sidcup Community Group member has brought the omission to the attention of the Chief Executive for a second time, the first did not produce a satisfactory answer.


On Friday 23 December 2011 the records finally showed that Planning Consent for demolition had been granted subject to a Section 106 Agreement. The Black Horse façade had already been demolished shortly after the 3 November Planning Meeting and well before the records showed Planning Consent had been issued or the Section 106 Agreement signed (i.e. 23 December 2011). However, there was and is still no public record whatsoever of a Planning Decision or a signed new revised Section 106 Agreement. The public therefore have no actual details of what the Applicant is supposed to be erecting on Sidcup’s historic site.


The full list of problems with this planning application are too lengthy and too complex for a blog entry. As with so many things about Bexley council one may wonder if there are no straight answers because something ‘funny’ is going on.

 

29 January - Phone parking scrapped?

No, but you might think so if you kept an eye on what Bexley council is spending our money on. The most recently available over £500 expenditure list (November 2011) shows nearly £3,500 was paid to a company called Recresco Ltd. in respect of “Cashless Parking”. Recresco specialises in refuse disposal and recycling. Possibly all the phone parking notices are going for scrap but more likely it is an error. As stated yesterday the list is barely worth looking at.

Nearly £102,000 was paid to the City of London. Not for any tangible service but for “Miscellaneous Services”. Very informative I am sure. Probably not what Eric Pickles had in mind when he asked councils to be more transparent over their expenditure.

 

28 January (Part 3) - Localism. They are having a laugh

Eric Pickles and Bexley council leader Teresa O'NeillEric Pickles the Local Government minister is always coming out with headline grabbing ideas but in reality they are little more than sound bites - without the bite. He always provides a get out clause for corrupt councils to exploit. His ‘over £500 expenditure’ rules are so loose that it is barely worth looking at Bexley’s list. His suggestion that residents should be able to take cameras to council meetings has been widely adopted but councils with a history of secrecy and criminality can ignore it with impunity. His latest wheeze for identifying earners over £58,200 and keeping the ratio between highest and lowest earners in check is full of get out clauses too. Bexley council has been busy seeing how to exploit them.

Their report starts out by saying all the right things. “Councillors are required to take a greater role in determining pay, ensuring that decisions are taken by those who are directly accountable to local people” which is a bit of a farce given that it was a council officer who threw out (almost certainly under instruction from the council leader) the 2,219 signature ‘salaries’ petition before councillors had a chance to consider it. It waffles on in similar vein; “Communities [should] have access to the information they need to determine whether remuneration, particularly senior remuneration, is appropriate and commensurate with responsibility.” Please stop giggling, it is not funny. On their own admission, the salary figures on Bexley’s website are wrong. Did the council not say the petition examples (taken from the website) were inaccurate? Maybe they want to have their cake and eat it. Maybe they were lying.

Given Eric Pickles’ wish to see transparency on salaries I had expected to see a simple comparison of what the Chief Executive earns and what the least rewarded employee earns but that is not what Bexley is going to give us. Their report is entirely free of pound signs. It tells us that Bexley has “a single salary scale consisting of 27 grades” which seems to be an awful lot and it tells us that the ratio between top and bottom salaries is 10:1. And if you think that looks implausibly low you would be right. It is not the ratio between Will Tuckley’s two hundred odd thousand and his chauffeur’s pay cheque, it is the ratio of the average senior officer pay (everyone down to Deputy Director level) against the average (technically the median) of everyone else. To simply compare top with bottom would be far too simple, far too easy to understand, far too revealing of their fat-cattery. This way it’s impossible to visualise what the true situation is - and Pickles has sanctioned it!

Having neatly wriggled away from publishing anything useful about their lowest and highest earners how is Bexley council going to avoid providing details for those earning more than £58,200 as Eric says they should? Easy. It’s not compulsory. Officers can opt out of all that. Eric Pickles. Fat Minister for Fat Cats.

 

28 January (Part 2) - Weird Google search terms for Bonkers

Google search statisticsI have a fairly low opinion of Bexley councillors although let’s be fair, it’s no more than a quarter of them who get regular mentions here. I’m inclined to believe one might be responsible for the obscene blog and tend to think that searching for this site in the manner indicated on the left might be the sort of thing that they would do. Most days fifty or so people will reach the site by typing ‘bexley is bonkers’ and variants thereof into Google. It seems a long winded method to me and most users get to the site without relying on Google; but each to their own, there is no law against it. But what sort of person would type in five long words to reach it when two is plenty? And then do it several times each day week after week? Someone well acquainted with the subject who gets his kicks from blogging homophobic obscenities perhaps?

 

28 January (Part 1) - The new narrower Bellegrove Road - Click any image for Photo Diary (9 images)

Bellegrove RoadBellegrove RoadBellegrove RoadMore changes in Bellegrove Road in the latest update to the photographic diary. The pinch points added to the A207 are now clearly visible. Pedestrians may if they so wish stand in the path of juggernauts protected only by a single bollard. Clever stuff; exactly what you might expect from Bexley council.

Any guesses as to why a pole should rise from the middle of the pavement?

 

27 January - Everyone is welcome - including Will Tuckley

Bpnkers' web statsI used to try to pace entries to the blog so that there was something for every day but it’s too much like hard work. Now I generally process everything as it arrives leaving tomorrow to chance. Something usually turns up but occasionally it doesn’t. I was expecting to have some photos to illustrate a council created road problem in Crayford for today but through nobody’s fault it was not to be, hence a bit of weekend style trivia coming early.

It was mildly amusing to look at the web stats for yesterday mid way through the day and find that the Greater London Authority, the Houses of Parliament and Bexley council had all looked in twice and the alphabetical sequencing (among those with identical numbers of visits) placed them all together in 24th, 25th and 26th place. That's two visits each. The page hits were rather higher. Topping the list as usual was NTL Bromley (their local node) followed by BT and Sky etc. with hundreds of visits between them. The GLA can be guaranteed to take a look whenever Boris Johnson’s name is mentioned. Bexley council’s presence is harder to explain as Bonkers is supposed to be banned on their server.

Boris will no doubt be embarrassed as more details of Bexley’s obscene blog leak out in the 100 days left before his election, serves him right for choosing his friends badly.

I had a phone call yesterday from someone made redundant from Bexley council; she wondered what Will Tuckley actually does with practically all services outsourced. She is not the only one. If Tuckley was the world class manager that Teresa O’Neill thinks he is surely he would have come up with a more sensible tactic than having the police report me to the Crown Prosecution Service for “criticising councillors”. Is that the best he can do? Perhaps he should read this. “The world of local news and comment is changing quickly; local authorities need to change with it.” Maybe Mr. Tuckley should seek Katie Perrior’s advice, her new website proclaims that she is “dedicated to remaining open and transparent in all of our endeavours”. That’s a novel idea, maybe Katie could sell it to Bexley council and make some more money.

 

26 January (Part 3) - Petition against excessive salaries

Bexley council Standing Order Section 84You may remember that Bexley council said they had told Elwyn Bryant, the petition organiser, “on a number of occasions that the Council’s Constitution and rules would not allow your petition to be debated”. On the left you may read what they said more than once and why it allegedly invalidates the petition.

Bexley council says it cannot debate “the circumstances of individual officers at a public meeting” which is not a very sensible response given that the petition doesn’t call for anyone’s salary to be discussed, but Bexley’s excuse for sticking its fingers in its ears is more obviously ridiculous than that. The Standing Order 84 they quote in their defence only says that if the subject arises at a public meeting the public may be excluded. It doesn’t say that anything that could just possibly stray into that area must be strangled at birth and not discussed at all.

The Scrutiny Committee is due to meet to debate the rejection of the petition next Tuesday at 19:30. If it endorses the council’s decision the use of Standing Order 84 will be one of the things presented to the Local Government Ombudsman. Statutory bodies such as Bexley council are not allowed to operate outside their own rules or the law, Bexley council frequently fails to recognise that fact but the LGO may have a view on that.

 

26 January (Part 2) - Bexley council - Uniquely bad

It’s a rare month that goes by without me being contacted by someone from the national media amazed at the antics of Bexley council and saying they would like to submit an article to their editor. I used to get quite excited by the prospect of bringing Bexley’s cheating ways to national attention but I don’t any more. The routine always takes much the same course; they are interested in the harassment letter issued for nothing other than “criticism” and even more so when told that Olly Cromwell was charged and spent three days in court for the same thing, but then they baulk at linking their feature to the rude words on Olly’s blog. So they switch attention to Bexley council’s criminal blogging and find to their dismay that that leads to a lot of rude words too. Bexley council is being protected from exposure by the fact that their activities are too extreme for publication in the proverbial ‘family newspaper’.

This month brought a variation on the theme. A couple of weeks ago a journalist asked questions about how councils might be defying Eric Pickles’ ideas for Armchair Auditors in The Big Society. I provided a few blog links to show how Bexley council had clamped down on democratic involvement and away that one went to the editor too. It failed because the editor wanted his feature to be nationally based and they can’t find any other council that gets anywhere near Bexley’s level of skulduggery. I mentioned Barnet which reported a blogger to the Information Commissioner for keeping a note of his contacts’ email addresses without being registered under the Data Protection Act and Carmarthen who threatened to have a blogger charged for filming a council meeting. But apparently no other council is so supremely vindictive as Bexley and until their brand of Conservatism spreads wider it doesn’t make a national story. Perverse or what?

 

26 January (Part 1) - What Katie did next

Hersay domain registrationAs a lapsed Conservative I have a sneaking admiration for councillor Katie Perrior. Not for her the non-jobs and sinecures favoured by the likes of Davey, Bauer, Seymour and Bacon to name just a few - all appointees to public bodies running on tax revenues. No, Ms. Perrior has what it takes to stand on her own two feet. First with her PR company In-house and now with a polling company Hersay. It helps of course to have all the right media contacts and be on first name terms with Mayor Boris Johnson but that may well have come from hard work and cunning career moves.

What I don’t understand is why someone in her exalted position finds it necessary to write to a newspaper to suggest she is hard up and can’t live without her £22,500 councillor allowance and claim that she is “best placed to know what residents are going through [in these difficult times]”. Is that hypocrisy or just an example of the lying for which Bexley council is renowned? Claiming on TV that councils must find a way around the law didn’t do a lot for her reputation either. But at least her principal income would appear not to have come directly from tax payers.

John Davey - Board Member NHS Care Trust. Link
Sandra Bauer - Director of Bexley Business Academy Ltd. Link
Melvin Seymour - Board Member Inspire Community Trust. Link
Gareth Bacon - Appointments at the GLA and similar bodies. Link

 

25 January - Tesco is cheaper

Bexley Civic Centre refurbishment contract detailsWhen Bexley council debated their options for a new Civic Centre it wasn’t much reported that the council officers said the cheapest and “highly efficient” solution was to redevelop the existing site but as everyone now knows the vote went for refurbishing the old Woolwich Building Society HQ at a cost of £36 million. The other alternative, a new building with a longer life in Erith for just over £40 million was given pretty short shrift. The advantage of the chosen arrangement is that it moves Tesco from a less than ideal shopping site to a more central position. Nice for Tesco and residents of Erith Road. What does Bexley council get? A second hand HQ not too far from the centre of town and if you believe what they said last April, a saving of £1 million pounds a year. They’d get better returns from paying off their debts.

Some insight into the high cost of refurbishing the Woolwich building was provided when council officers said a new one to their precise requirements would cost around 15% more, something the News Shopper rather mischievously reported to be “short-sighted” given the latter’s much longer projected life. Now that detailed planning for refurbishment of the Woolwich and the new Tesco is well underway, further insights into the costs are coming to light. Bexley council is going to spend £36 million on their second hand HQ, Tesco is planning on knocking down the old Civic Centre, digging a big hole in the ground for a 520 space car park, putting three storeys of shop and storage on top (more than twice the size of the new town hall) and landscaping a new plaza for only £30 million. Compared to tarting up an old building it sounds like Tesco know how to be careful with their money and get the best of any bargain.

 

24 January - Boris halts progress

Thames gateway bridgeBoris JohnsonThe political polls are currently giving the Tories a five point lead over Labour nationally yet Boris Johnson’s lead over Ken Livingstone in the Mayoral race has fallen from eight points to negative territory in just a few months. Who is surprised? What has he done? Reneged on a promise to reintroduce the Blackwall contra-flow, encouraged cycling, attempted to ban beer on public transport and got rid of his predecessor’s annoying affectation of printing the name LONDON in two colours on posters. Doesn’t amount to much does it? Will anyone who attended his love-in with council leader Teresa O’Neill last July forget how he dodged every difficult question?

Recently Boris has returned to the question of a new Thames crossing for this part of the capital. Who can doubt that one is needed? He has offered Bexley a ferry and Greenwich a new tunnel, more or less parallel with and alongside the existing Blackwall tunnels. Greenwich people don’t seem too keen on it as it will be fed by the same A102 (M) road which feeds Blackwall and will do their air quality no good at all. Bexley council is still boasting of getting Boris to cancel the bridge planned for Thamesmead. The Labour run boroughs across the water were all for it but Bexley Conservatives had played a leading role in securing Boris’s 2008 election win. Pay back time. Is everyone really against easier links to the north?

A Thamesmead bridge would connect to dual carriageways to the East and West but going South presents a problem. Knee Hill in particular is close to impassable to anything bigger than a van (have you ever seen two buses meet on it?) and the residents of Brampton Road would not be best pleased if lorries chose to use it. Did no one seriously consider counter-measures or was council leader O’Neill being Brampton ward councillor, Boris’s favourite and living close by sufficient to keep a bridge at bay?

If preventing large vehicles from taking the southerly route isn’t practical why not a bridge carrying a DLR extension from the Beckton branch? Add to that a Dart-Tag style system for acceptable road vehicles and Bexley’s relative isolation from the rest of London is much reduced.

Bexley council is always keen to point out that it is the only London borough with no trams, no Underground, no Overground, no river boats and that Crossrail will stop just short of the borough boundary. When a Thames bridge is on offer it turns it down. Why? Is it just to be sure that councillor Teresa O’Neill doesn’t lose the Brampton vote?

Note 1 : Bexley councillors ran Boris’s 2008 election campaign and supplied him with his Deputy, then refused to report his misuse of a Bexley council credit card to the police to mitigate Boris’s embarrassment.
Note 2 (for distant readers) : Knee Hill leads directly to Brampton Road. It is not on a bus route but drivers frequently use it as a short cut back to the bus garage.
Note 3 (for pedants) : Yes I do know that the Crossrail reversal and over-run tracks will extend into Bexley, but the terminal station is Abbey Wood (Greenwich).

 

23 January (Part 2) - Blog off

There has been nothing new reported here about any police investigation into Bexley council’s infamous blog since the 8th December when the correspondence files were updated. See Site map. That doesn’t mean that nothing has been going on, only that it is not being reported. Developments are being kept under wraps because the perpetrators may have gained useful information from this website. They may still get hold of it but I will know it can only have come from one source - not me.

My guess is that it will be another three weeks before there will be anything fresh to say. Meanwhile I have been comparing the writing style of the obscene blog to any councillor authored blog I can find or have on file. There are some similarities. Overuse of exclamation marks, an absence of possessive apostrophes and their inclusion in plurals. Should I expect councillors to know right from wrong? Probably not.

Incidentally, the links provided to councillor Hunt’s various blogs currently produce warnings about them containing malicious software (†) that will steal your on-line banking details etc. If the warning is ignored his blogs may still be read. Perhaps someone has falsely reported him for hosting viruses. Not me!

† Note: The malicious software warning disappeared after about 48 hours.

 

23 January (Part 1) - Subject Access Request

I returned yesterday evening from a weekend away to find a package from Bexley council on the doormat. It contained a copy of my own letter dated 21st November 2010 when I complained about councillor Craske’s behaviour at a council meeting - and the council’s subsequent reply. Copies of emails between Mr. Chris Loynes and myself in December 2010 and January 2011 when I appealed against the white washing of Craske’s offences and copies of the correspondence which followed mayor Val Clarke’s curtailment of public question time dating from March 2011. There is nothing in the package which I’ve not seen before. My Subject Access Request said, “A minimum response would be all the correspondence by councillors and officials from January to April 2011 which led to Mr. Tuckley reporting me to Bexley police for Criticising councillors at a personal level”. Of that there is nothing and it is not hard to see why.

If Tuckley had said something like “Take a look at this Teresa. Outrageous. Have you any idea who might have done it?” and the reply came back, “Sorry, no idea but it is vital we find out or we will all look like criminals” you could be pretty sure that correspondence would have been forthcoming by now. But if it was something along the lines of “Teresa, I told you blogging was a damn fool idea, get your Berk of a councillor to take it down at once” you probably wouldn't want to tell anyone. Which is probably why they don’t want to tell anyone.

The unfortunate soul who had to write the covering letter for the latest package apologetically acknowledges that it is not what I was asking for. Looks like he is being kept well and truly under the Tuckley thumb intent on perverting justice.

 

21 January (Part 3) - Ban man. Town clown

Will TuckleyTeresa’s geezer, Chief Executive Will Tuckley has taken time out of his busy £120 an hour (†) life to write a letter to Olly Cromwell. He sent the paper copy to an old address and the email didn’t arrive at all but you can’t expect someone who has reached such giddy heights to trouble themselves with trivia and get the details right. And what did our very own bloated plutocrat have to say for himself? An apology for bringing a harassment charge against Olly when every last detail of it was unfounded perhaps? A case so flawed that the prosecution couldn’t produce any evidence? No of course not, Tuckley took time out of his busy day to tell Olly that he remains banned from the Civic Centre until at least May this year.

Did I hear you ask “what for”? OK; if you twist my arm. The pesky little blogger had taken Government advice literally. He had become an “Armchair Auditor” and a “Citizen Journalist” and took his camera along to a council meeting. Oh, dear me, the crime of the century, trying to expose the sheer amateurishness of Bexley council’s meetings in pictures rather than words.

Isn’t it odd how justice and injustice is meted out in Bexley? Visits by plod for helping people park their cars safely. Threats of arrest when residents criticise the council. Trumped up criminal charges against those who attempt to do so pictorially plus deprivation of democratic rights. On the other hand 63 councillors and a few senior managers sit on their hands knowing that one or more of them must be guilty of criminal activities and after the police attempt to look into it pretend they don’t know about any investigation. Nice to know that local affairs are in the capable hands of such a world-class bunch of charlatans and ne’er do wells.

† £208,000 divided by 365 (less 52 weekends, 9 bank holidays and 32 days leave). Divided by 8 hours a day.

 

21 January (Part 2) - Petition against excessive salaries

Bexley council's excuseOne of the many lies told by Bexley council when it rejected the 2,219 signature petition about senior salary levels was that contracts are absolutely set in stone - see extract from their excuse list on the left.

Not all councils are like Bexley however and some may even be clean enough for the senior officers to not be in a position to dish the dirt if riled. Bath and North East Somerset would appear to be one such council. The links below tell the story.

Bath News. (Entries for 7th and 23rd November 2011 in particular)
Tax payer’s Alliance. (20th January 2012)

 

21 January (Part 1) - Bellegrove Road. Before and after - Click either image for Photo Diary (6 images)

Bellegrove Road - 'Before'Bellegrove Road - 'After'The week’s progress in Bellegrove Road is shown in the latest update to the photographic diary. Although the Before and After photographs may not show it very clearly, I am informed that the traffic islands are being moved closer to the pavement thereby making life difficult for drivers of large vehicles and possibly shorter for cyclists using their track. Much the same thing happened in Abbey Road, Belvedere and in Blackfen Road.

 

20 January - A culture of secrecy

Deputy Director Toni AingeThe peculiar arrangements by which Bexley council allows a Director and a Deputy Director to be a married couple are not something they wish to be questioned about. A Freedom of Information request about the appointment of Antonia Ainge as Deputy Director of Cultural Services and her qualifications for the job was refused. Apparently it is not appropriate for tax payers to know if their money is being spent supporting nepotism or not. Fortunately the information Commissioner disagrees and has told Bexley council that it should cough up the information. Bexley’s excuse for their anticipated refusal will make interesting reading.

 

19 January - Council leader Teresa O’Neill has rejected the Petition. What next?

Council leader Teresa O'NeillThe likelihood is that Elwyn Bryant’s petition will finish up with the Local Government Ombudsman for maladministration but before that can happen it has to go through all the standard procedures. Bexley council’s refusal to follow its own Constitution could be summarised as saying the petition was “inaccurate, misleading and inappropriate” which is an excuse that will not withstand detailed analysis.

Leaving aside the arrogance that questioning Bexley council’s senior pay levels is “inappropriate” displays, how was the petition inaccurate and misleading? Elwyn asked for these and other questions to be put to the council’s Scrutiny Committee. His letter may be read in full here but an edited summary is as follows…

 


The petition is inaccurate, misleading and inappropriate


“The web-page you supplied does not supply a total remuneration package for any of the Council employees mentioned in the preamble to the petition” – which I assume is what you are implying is in some way remiss. In the absence of the specific total amount actually being supplied by Bexley Council I used the £208,983 figure as supplied on the [council’s] web page you mentioned in your letter for Will Tuckley. Are you claiming that this was an unreasonable thing to do? In what way was this misleading anybody that read and signed the petition? My figures were derived directly from Bexley council webpages.


The Council is a responsible employer and respects the legal rights of all our employees


This is very interesting information but seems to me to have no relevance at all to the petition submitted which is asking about Bexley Council’s response to the Secretary of State and the perceived Government policy. The point also does not provide any specific grounds for why the petition itself should not be discussed at a Council meeting.


You have been told on a number of occasions the Council’s Constitution and rules would not allow your petition to be debated, yet you have chosen to ignore this and mislead those you have approached to sign.


This seems to me to have no relevance at all to the petition submitted which is asking about Bexley Council’s response to the Secretary of State and the perceived Government policy. If you have evidence that this particular petition was discussed with me and that I was told it specifically would not be debated then please supply it as I have no recollection of this in my dealings with the Council. If you cannot substantiate your claim then I ask you politely to withdraw this claim. Standing Order 84 states clearly that it refers to a question that might arise in a Council meeting. It has no bearing on whether a petition should be accepted in the first place. Your attempt to stifle debate beforehand cannot be substantiated with this rule and at this point in the petition process.


There is a lot more in similar vein but Bexley council has chosen not to answer any of the questions, instead, it has said, “the Chairman [of the Scrutiny Committee] is minded to allow you, as the petition organiser, up to five minutes to address the Committee, confining your comments to an explanation of why the Council’s response is not considered to be adequate.

This is what is now likely to happen. The Scrutiny Committee meeting is scheduled for 19:30 on 31st January in the Civic Offices. It is open to the public, the 2,219 petition signatories, the press, MPs and anyone who wishes to see Bexley council consider whether the views of residents should carry any weight at all.

 

18 January - Bexley council’s Green agenda

Bexley Village LibraryBexley council’s scheme to save £40,000 by placing Bexley Village Library in the care of a charity, Bexley Village Community Library (BVCL), is getting comment beyond the local news outlets. The current issue of Private Eye reports it and it even gets a mention by The World Socialists, whoever they may be. Nearer to home The Bookseller and its readers have their say and the Evening Standard provides a few facts that are new to me.

It says BVCL is funded by another charity called Greener Bexley and the latter is chaired by Jonathan Rooks. The same Jonathan Rooks who contested the Old Bexley & Sidcup parliamentary seat on behalf of the Green Party at the last General Election, was a local Conservative councillor (Cray ward) in the 1980s and is to fight James Cleverly in the forthcoming London Assembly election.

Jonathan is notable in connection with another local issue; he is the only politician to have supported Elwyn Bryant’s petition against excessive council salaries. No Tory would have anything to do with it even though it reflects government guidance. No local Labour politician supported the petition; like Peter Mandelson they are “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”, but Jonathan Rooks said “They really should take into consideration public opinion when it is so strong”. He’s chairman of the Crossness Engines Trust, he is standing against James Cleverly who said this website is “well out of order” and he was a Conservative before they turned bright pink. Maybe I had better look at their manifesto.

 

17 January - Bexley council sounds the retreat

Pavement parkingPavement parkingLast October I put out a call for someone who had been PCN’d by Bexley council for a parking offence recorded by mobile CCTV. Next day a lady contacted me via the Contact form and a few hours later Notomob gave her a call. As you can see from the pictures she had parked with a wheel up the kerb in Crayford. It looks to me that she didn’t have much of a case but she told Bexley the offence did not take place. If Bexley believed her they could have accepted that at the time.

With the support of Notomob she appealed to the Parking Adjudicator (PATAS) telling them she considered Bexley’s CCTV system to be unlawful. This comment went back to Bexley as is the procedure but instead of contesting it they caved in. Either they accept that their cameras have no certification or perhaps more likely they don’t wish to meet Notomob in court again. Either way it looks like pavement parkers have a get out of jail free card. Not that many people would condone it, it can sometimes be a thorough nuisance but it’s the situation we are in because Bexley council thinks it is above the law. Bexley council’s attitude to the law has to be contested, their way leads to Harassment Letters for criticism, Section 215 Notices for wildlife gardens and Hate Crimes by their councillors or cronies which show little sign of serious investigation seven months later.

 

16 January (Part 3) - What’s so funny Teresa?

Teresa O'Neill laughs as 35 people lose their jobsSo why is council leader Teresa O’Neill so happy? Has she just heard that Olly Cromwell has been banged up for a rude word on Twitter or that Boris Johnson has invited her to follow the Bexley fraudster Ian Clement to City Hall? Maybe a senior policeman has accepted an invitation to a council funded alcohol fuelled dinner; has councillor Peter Craske brought the whole borough to a standstill or perhaps violent crime has been banished forever by the simple expedient of closing a kebab shop? No it is far funnier than that, Teresa is celebrating putting 35 library workers on the dole.

Tasteless, uncaring or just plain nasty? Teresa O’Neill, Bexley’s joke of a leader celebrates with her Bromley counterpart, Stephen Carr. Bexley Times report.

 

16 January (Part 2) - The Rottenest of Boroughs

Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs AwardsPrivate Eye awarded its top prize for 2011 to South Tyneside council which admitted spending well over £100,000 attempting to discover the identity of a blogger. No need to do that in Bexley where the blogging policy is stick to the facts and show your face.

Carmarthenshire council was the runner up for having blogger Jacqui Thomson thrown in the cells for taking her camera to a council meeting. Another council that spends money taking the cops to dinner and calling in favours presumably.

Carmarthenshire council has nothing on Bexley where the Constitution was changed in response to government encouragement of “Citizen Journalists”. It banned photography and prevailed upon its friends to carry out a dawn raid, confiscate computers, cameras and phones and incarcerate a blogger in a cell all day before charging him under the Harassment Act for a list of offences he didn’t commit. After three appearances in court and a hefty barrister’s bill the prosecution offered no evidence. Predictable when there never was any but it’s Teresa O’Neill’s council at its most vindictive.

Someone should let Private Eye know what goes on here. Oh, they just have. The obscene blog saga may be right up their street.

 

16 January (Part 1) - Welling Corridor Photo Diary (Week 2)

A week of progress on Bellegrove Road. Photos kindly provided by a reader. He has declined the offer of a credit with the words “I prefer to remain anonymous - I don’t want harassment notices!” Bexley council’s reputation for victimising those who might criticise it or be associated with those who do must be spreading.

 

15 January - The other Teresa - Click any image for photo gallery (3 station images)

Erith StationErith StationTeresa Pearce MPThere are three MPs with responsibility for the borough of Bexley, though if you read the local newspapers you might be forgiven for thinking there is only one; Teresa Pearce, MP for Thamesmead and Erith. If there is a local event she is there, if the last remaining river view is threatened by Bexley council, she will hand in your petition for you or if you relish the sight of an MP dressed in rubber and waist deep in canal mud then she is your girl.

Raising local issues in Parliament is her specialty, a pity more MPs don’t remember that that is what they are there for. Last week it was disabled access to Erith station, or rather the lack of it.


Teresa Pearce: Whether her Department has conducted an impact assessment of the proposal in the McNulty report on closure of ticket offices.

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mrs. Theresa Villiers): No impact assessment has been conducted of this proposal in the independent report undertaken by Sir Roy McNulty.

Teresa Pearce: Disabled people in my constituency already have trouble accessing work and leisure opportunities in London because Erith station’s London-bound platform has no disabled lift or step-free access. They are advised by the train operating company to travel in the opposite direction for 15 minutes and then change trains. The closure of the ticket office at Erith will further disadvantage this group of people. Will the Minister consider an equality impact assessment on the proposal and reject McNulty’s plans to close ticket offices, particularly at places such as Erith, where disabled people already face a difficult journey?

Mrs. Villiers: In considering the recommendations of the independent McNulty report and before any decision was made on changes to future ticket office rules, it would of course be vital carefully to assess the needs of disabled communities and pensioners. That would be a very important part of any decisions made on future reform of ticket offices.


Southeastern’s leaflet on disabled access shows Crayford to be no better than Erith and Albany Park to be worse but neither seems to have an MP willing to speak up for them.

This subject is a little off topic for Bonkers but as I am just off to visit my disabled daughter by train I thought I would indulge myself with giving Teresa’s campaign a little plug. It is a subject more up Hugh Neal’s street than mine, he has covered it on his ‘Maggot Sandwich’ blog several times already and it is more than likely he will do so again later today. If he doesn’t, you may wish to consider descending on him with flaming torches and pitchforks. (Apologies: ‘in’ joke.)

 

14 January (Part 2) - Where’s DI Keith Marshall?

Search engine keywordsContinuing the web statistics theme I thought you might like to see what people are searching for on a Saturday morning. It’s a fairly typical report, Chris Loynes and Sandra Bauer are always popular choices, the others come and go.

DI Keith Marshall was the police officer who signed the Harassment Letters to me and Olly Cromwell and refused to say who had leaned on him to do so. We now know that Chief Executive Will Tuckley yanked his string and that even now Bexley council cannot come up with a lawful reason for doing so. Criticism is not yet a crime.

Keith Marshall offered to meet me to discuss the issue but (on his own admission) went on leave and was never heard of again. Only this week CS Dave Stringer told me he “had not been able to speak to him for reasons it is inappropriate for me to comment on here”. If you were a regular reader of Olly Cromwell’s blog you will have read that an informer said he had gone on long term sick leave. Olly gave more details than that but ‘it is inappropriate for me to comment here’.

Another unfortunate case of long term sick leave (according to Bexley council insiders) concerns Chris Loynes (the council’s Head of Members’ Services), at one time the only man who knew of my visit to the Civic Offices on 20th May 2011 which led to the obscene blog appearing the very next day and who has not been heard of since.

I’ve no idea why Sandra Bauer is so popular, must be something to do with Olly’s army of fans checking up on her. And James Hunt of Bexley? Perhaps it is something to do with his involvement with children’s theatre, or the scout movement or his dog impersonations. Who knows?

 

14 January (Part 1) - Bexley’s bonkers ban

Bexley visits BonkersIt’s the weekend and time for some lighter stuff…

Only eight of London’s 20 Outer London Boroughs are regular visitors to Bexley is Bonkers and all of those are less frequent visitors than a couple of Inner London Boroughs, but as you probably know, Bexley is not among them because Chief Executive Will Tuckley decided that his staff and library users should be kept in the dark about his antics. But someone must know a way around the censorship. Just after new year Bexley popped up on the visitors list. One, two and one visits on three consecutive days.

It’s possible the ban fell off the list during some new year maintenance, I have no way of telling but in practice Bonkers is probably available at any time in any place by going to http://translate.google.co.uk and entering the web address, then set it to translate English to English (if it doesn’t auto-detect it) and click the Translate button, Google will remind you that the site is already in English (if it is) and offer the original (untranslated) page. It works for me and should work elsewhere. You don’t have to tolerate Will Tuckley’s censorship if you don’t want to. Probably best to try it in the library rather than in a council office, unless you are councillor and immune from another of Bexley’s unfair dismissals.

 

13 January - Never doing the right thing

Bexley bolloxIf you were wondering why all has been quiet on the petition front for the last week or two, the answer is simple; its organiser promised the News Shopper exclusive coverage and handed over a complete copy of his correspondence file. It was important to Mr. Bryant that he communicated in the best practical way with his 2,219 signatories and let them know of Bexley council leader Teresa O’Neill’s refusal to listen to those residents. I was not going to place his wishes in jeopardy by reporting in advance of the Shopper. It’s circulation is still some way above Bonkers.

Bexley council’s official response is quoted by the News Shopper and reproduced here. It is the sort of nonsense that you would expect from Bexley council. When the “told repeatedly” excuse was first trotted out it was clearly wrong. Whether a further response to a newspaper constitutes telling Mr. Bryant repeatedly is open to debate but the council has been asked to substantiate its claim. The constitution certainly does allow for a debate if the 2,000 signature threshold is crossed, if it did not Elwyn would not have knocked on doors all summer. And as for the “discuss the circumstances of individual officers”, that is just a smokescreen, the petition didn’t call for it. One can only assume that Teresa O’Neill encouraged her press officer to lie on her behalf. The “legally binding contracts” bit is equally mendacious. Local government staff up and down the country have had contracts renegotiated, why not in Bexley?

Whilst the News Shopper did a good job of reporting Bexley council’s usual intransigence and denial of their fatuous ‘Listening to you’ slogan, the principal aspect of the petition was overlooked completely. Its opening words were “We, therefore, petition and appeal to the Leader of the Council, Councillor Teresa O’Neill, to support her Government and do the right thing.” It doesn’t ask Bexley council to get their senior officers to pore over rules and regulations and find some point that can be stretched a yard or two to exclude a petition they do not like; it asks councillor Teresa O’Neill to act in the interests of residents for once in her life rather than working towards climbing up the slippery pole to City Hall, as did her predecessor, and richly rewarding as many of her cronies and supporters as she can. So Teresa, are you going to rise to Elwyn’s challenge by doing the right thing (a phrase taken from government pronouncements on the issue) or forever be the undemocratic selfish one? Until you do it will be plain to all that your only excuse for riding roughshod over 2,219 opinions is one based on your stock-in-trade; misinformation and lies.

 

12 January (Part 2) - Police corruption

Dave CookIf this face looks familiar to you it is because it has appeared in some of today’s newspapers and last night’s Evening Standard. The man’s name is Dave Cook and he used to be a Chief Superintendent in the Met. He now works for the Serious Organised Crime Agency. Yesterday he was arrested.

As long term readers will know, if he had not been murdered in 1987, Daniel Morgan, the private investigator killed with an axe to his head, would have been closely related to me. It has been said many times that he was about to reveal extreme corruption at Catford nick. Catford CID made a complete hash of the investigation and the man in charge of it stepped into the dead man’s shoes by taking over his company, Southern Investigations. Southern Investigations have been at the centre of the News of the World phone hacking scandal. The murder is rated as the most notorious of the Met’s unsolved crimes and the Acting Commissioner (just before Bernard Hogan-Howe’s appointment) said “that corruption had played a significant part in failing to bring those responsible to justice”. He was not wrong.

All the Met. Commissioners before Paul Condon had played their roles in the cover up. Paul Condon admitted the corruption in general terms but did nothing about it and it wasn’t until GLA member Len Duvall took an interest and Dave Cook was appointed as investigator that the police did anything useful at all. CS Cook was the first policeman to be honest with Daniel’s family, he was the only one they felt could be trusted. Along the way he must have seen for himself how much corruption at the very highest level had gone before. Because of his knowledge those who we now know were involved in phone hacking were concerned that their involvement in murder might be discovered. So they hacked and tailed Cook. When Cook challenged the News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks she said that they were going to break a story about his affair with then Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames. It was a very lame excuse for shadowing CS Cook; Jacqui Hames was his wife.

Although Cook’s investigation of the Daniel Morgan axe murder ultimately failed he was by then a very dangerous man. He knows far too much about bent ex-Commissioners. He says the corruption levels in the Met are still “obscene”. With the distinct possibility that he will spill a whole load of beans when he is called before the Leveson Enquiry, he has to be silenced or at least discredited. From what I can gather from my daughter (a journalist who obviously watches the case closely) and Alastair’s brother, CS Dave Cook may have sailed close to the wind on occasions in gathering evidence to solve a murder but they are adamant he is the only totally honest policeman they have encountered in 25 years. In the words of Alastair Morgan, the victim’s brother who was called to the IPCC yesterday because of Cook’s arrest and is with the 'phone hacking' MP Tom Watson this afternoon, Dave Cook is being “stitched up” to protect the guilty.

Those of you who keep tabs on developments between me and Bexleyheath police by email will know that I am expecting to meet local policemen soon. As I see it, what goes on between them, Will Tuckley and Bexley council is a microcosm of the axe murder. I hope to meet a ‘Dave Cook’ in Bexleyheath nick, but I fear that they will want to protect their friends just as Met. Commissioners did years ago when trying to protect murderous policemen. I shall take a great deal of persuading that history is not about to repeat itself.

 

12 January (Part 1) - Catching up with the news

Some of you will know that I am getting horribly behind with my correspondence, some is still outstanding from last weekend and I will soon be guilty of underperforming Bexley council. If you are owed a reply from before that then a reminder might be in order. To try to catch up with recent reports I shall summarise those I can remember below…


Liverpool Echoes discontent with Bexley


I don’t really know what this is all about and have no time to research it, but the Liverpool Echo is reporting that its blue badge holders are having to phone “a council in London” when renewing and are facing unacceptable delays. The council in question is said to be “Bexleyheath”. Are we flogging off our own sub-standard services now to unsuspecting Scousers now?


Sheltered housing for the elderly


Last month someone from Bexley’s care home management tipped me off that wardens were likely to be sacked at Christmas following budget cuts by Bexley council. From one Avante run home that has since been confirmed. The warden has been put on three months notice and from April some vulnerable people will lose one of their life-lines. It almost certainly applies to other homes too. When asked, Bexley council professed to know nothing about it.


Harassment of Bexley council


Bexley council must rue the day they prevailed on Will Tuckley to bamboozle Bexleyheath police into issuing a Harassment Letter for criticising councillors. A lot of questions have been asked since then. Out of the blue from an interested, or maybe annoyed, Bexley resident came evidence that Nick Hollier, Bexley’s Director of HR, has admitted that he has no evidence of harassment of Bexley council by myself and has fallen back on the lame excuse dished out to Mick Barnbrook - the small section of the harassment letter reproduced below. Mr. Hollier did however acknowledge that he does not consider that “criticism and harassment are synonymous”. That is progress of a sort, his boss, Will Tuckley and his police friends were unable to make that distinction.

In similar developments the police have been asked to confirm the correct procedures for the issuing of Harassment Letters; I’ll say no more about that as you cannot trust anyone not to fiddle the books retrospectively if they know where the enquiries are going next.


Moving sign offence


Bexley sign in GreenwichYesterday I warned about councillor Craske’s plan to monitor parking offences from the fixed CCTV system and provided a photo of one of the many new signs that have been springing up around the borough. A reader sent me a photograph of another. What is special about his you might ask except that he took it in daylight? The answer is that he took the photo in Greenwich. The sign is outside the Abbey Arms public house in Abbey Wood. Craske gets everywhere.

If the sign made clear its true purpose; to warn motorists of the cameras zooming into their registration plates, it might be welcome. However Bexley council is telling people the CCTV is being used for public safety reasons. The appearance of the sign on a Greenwich lamp post close to the Bexley boundary more or less proves that its true purpose is to provide some sort of legal notification that motorists are entering a Craske-zone but the benign wording about public safety more or less proves that Craske is intent on deception. Plus ça change!

Click image for the bigger version.

 


Welling Corridor
Welling Corridor plan


Building materialsShoulder of Mutton GreenA reader in Welling has offered to provide a picture diary of work being done on the so-called Welling Corridor. Bellegrove Road is to be improved from the Greenwich boundary to just east of its Brampton Road junction. Most of us will be hoping that the four million pounds worth of advice from consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff will pay dividends because there are far too many instances of Bexley’s own planners messing up everything they touch. The rearrangements currently causing chaos in Sidcup are putting things back to close to what they were ten years ago. Overall it should be an improvement but how much money was wasted on the interim scheme?

The photo is some of the materials dumped in preparation on the Shoulder of Mutton green. A new item will appear on the main menu leading to the new feature. Meanwhile click either image to see all the photos.

 

11 January (Part 3) - Stringer in a tangle

I received a letter from Chief Superintendent Stringer yesterday, Borough Commander of Bexleyheath police force. It took 12 days to reach me but it’s a decent enough letter and I’m sure it’s intended to be constructive but one aspect of it is deeply insulting. CS Dave Stringer says that the reason his officers send me letters without signing them is because I have a track record for “abusive remarks made about an officer in a related case”. This is nonsense on two levels. Firstly I have considerable search facilities on this website not available to you as a reader and it has yet to find any abuse of any police officer except the strong implication that they are in Bexley council’s pocket. There is lots of evidence to support that. I know that when they scared the wits out of Mrs. Olly Cromwell in a dawn raid they stripped their officers of ID for the same reason but the worst I have done is deliberately swap a vowel in ‘police force’. Is that their idea of abuse? I even blurred out signatures, email addresses and phone numbers on letters I may have put on the web to protect them.

The other thing is that their letters were arriving unsigned long before any “related case” existed. Bexleyheath police are seriously confused and I suspect it is because they meekly accept Bexley council’s lies about me threatening councillors with violence. If I was a violent sort of chap I doubt I would have got through 68 years without throwing a punch and never appearing on any police database - apart from the one caused by Will Tuckley’s lies perhaps.

CS Stringer has once again offered a meeting. One of his Chief Inspectors did the same more than a month ago and I handed in a letter taking him up on the offer on the 19th December without response. They appear to be not only confused down at Arnsberg Way but in an administrative muddle too. But if CS Stringer or one of his senior officers is prepared to listen then it has to be a good move. To show appreciation I removed the police based Home page and put councillor Craske back where he belongs. I know you will like that and Google certainly does, Craske always pushes the search engine rankings up a notch or two.

 

11 January (Part 2) - Two down, one to go - Click image for photo gallery (1 readable image)

CCTV warning signCouncillor Craske is out to rob motorists. His revenue stream is drying up as he drives trade away from Bexley with his various money grabbing schemes. In November 2010 he said he planned to “Commence enforcement of moving traffic contraventions using Mobile In Car Camera Enforcement and fixed CCTV. Also use fixed CCTV for no stopping parking contraventions”. That is a quotation from the ‘Strategy 2014’ budget document. He said it was a revenue raising exercise and that is why the statement was in a revenue raising document. Well not quite, because to admit that might be judged illegal, so he said it was to provide “Value for Money” instead.

I am not aware of a start date being announced, maybe the Notomob people are more on the ball, but I have noticed new and much larger signage going up around fixed CCTV installations. It claims CCTV is there for road safety reasons. The real reason may be more sinister. Only yesterday while stuck in the Craske created traffic jam in Sidcup I was forced to a standstill within a marked bus stop. The passenger in the car in front got out to save time by walking. That is exactly the sort of harmless behaviour that Craske is out to penalise. Please be careful.

It is no laughing matter, but my understanding is that two of our three local MPs have so far fallen victim to Craske’s 24/7 parking regime. Having to attend evening meetings as part of their responsibilities and being detained by constituents and the like for longer than anticipated costs them dear. It will cost everyone dear when those who have a choice go elsewhere in the evening rather than fund Bexley council’s greed.

Can anyone tell me why Boris Johnson is so critical of Westminster’s plan to introduce evening and Sunday parking charges but has nothing to say about Bexley beating them to it by six months? Nothing to do with his political sweetheart being council leader Teresa O’Neill is it?

 

11 January (Part 1) - He would say that wouldn’t he?

I have always believed that council leader Teresa O’Neill and her right hand man Will Tuckley would be hopping mad about two of their people writing obscene blogs and that is why they lost no time in hunting down the culprit(s) as soon as they got to hear of it. The blog content disappeared within hours of them getting on to the case. However I now know that Mr. Tuckley is denying any involvement in righting the wrong. All coincidence he is telling people - I have seen the letter saying so. I don’t believe for a moment he knew of the blog before I told him about it and now he is asking me to believe that its disappearance at that very moment is entirely coincidental. Obviously he has to say that or he effectively admits to knowing who is responsible, but please don’t ask many to believe you Will.

You are the man who denied under the Freedom of Information Act that you were aware of any investigation into a crime by Bexley council and had that claim of innocence blown out of the water by DC Neil Thomson who reported that he had called in on you on 7th July 2011 and said he was prepared “to arrest any suspects if any offences were disclosed” aren’t you?

 

10 January - Without lawful reason

Mr. Mick Barnbrook has been trying to find out why Bexley council issued me with a Harassment Letter in April 2011. It was him who established, but only after the intervention of the Information Commissioner, that it was Chief Executive Will Tuckley who told the police what they had to do. Since then Mick has been trying to find out if he had a lawful reason. All he could get out of Bexley council is “The evidence of harassment can be found by accessing the Bexley-is-bonkers website”. That is not specific and not very helpful. Which bit of the site? So Mr. Barnbrook appealed against Bexley council’s non-answer. He has now got a further response.

After much consideration Bexley council has said that the reason Will Tuckley told the police to issue the letter is contained in this extract from the letter…
Harassment letter
So another silly answer.


• “Blogs posted on this website criticise the way Bexleyheath Council is run by Councillors.” Well no actually; blogs posted on this website criticise the way Bexley council is run by councillors. Is that against the law?
• “Some of the content criticises Councillors on a personal level.” Is there any other way to do it? Unless names are omitted which is not very useful. If they are upset at things like the list of Craske’s lies the answer is simple - stop lying. If councillor Val Clarke is ridiculed for writing silly letters about parsimonious appreciation, then mayors shouldn’t act like dictatorial idiots.
• “No attempt has been made by yourself as the owner of this website to monitor comments posted.” What is that all about? I think it is a reference to Olly Cromwell who received a similar letter about posting on this website. He has never done that so the third of Bexley council’s allegations is totally false.
• “The content and tone of these blogs has caused considerable alarm and must stop.” I suppose if you are one of the councillors who are in it for themselves rather than the public good, waking up each morning not knowing if it is your turn to be featured for some act unworthy of anyone in public office, maybe it does. The solution is for those councillors to act in the public interest; honestly, not shelter criminals, not condone law breaking. Did Ian Clement ever pay for what he did with Bexley's credit card? Who brushed that one under the carpet Mr. Tuckley? Who is busy hiding a criminal right now?


Appeal letterHere is the best answer Bexley council can come up with about why they felt it necessary to call in favours from their military wing. It would seem that Will Tuckley for all his near quarter million salary package cannot come up with a better reason for his actions than what the police said on his behalf.

Incidentally, the blog about ‘parsimonious appreciation’ was published the day after Will Tuckley leaned on his policemen friends and the Craske page much later - 23 August.

 

9 January (Part 2) - Vindictive now. Vindictive then?

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.

Election results - Erith 2006One 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.

Links…
Erith ward 2006 election results
News Shopper letter

This entry based on suggestions and research by readers gratefully acknowledged.

 

9 January (Part 1) - It’s official. Bexley council is desperately trying to hide its criminals

Will TuckleyTeresa O'NeillEver since Will Tuckley and Teresa O’Neill (Boris Johnson’s most favoured council leader) received complaints about the council’s obscene blogging activities on the morning of 6th June 2011 and the blog content was removed by lunchtime it has seemed likely that those two knew exactly how to get rid of it and who published it. Some may consider their keeping it a secret since then is perversion of the course of justice in which Bexleyheath police have been equally complicit.

It is because the two pictured here are so keen on protecting their criminal friends that my Subject Access Request (SAR) has never been answered. If Will Tuckley and Teresa O’Neill were not sharing a dirty secret no harm would be done by releasing all the documentation they have which refers to me. Obviously it would reveal I am not held in high regard and the feeling is mutual, there would be nothing very newsworthy in that. There would be nothing the top two need be ashamed of if it revealed attempts to uncover their criminal friends, but in all probability it would reveal their names. They don’t want to go there. Integrity, honesty and obeying the law of the land is not Bexley council’s thing. Criminality is no great stranger to them.

As if to prove beyond all doubt that completing my SAR would reveal the names of Bexley council’s criminal bloggers, the council has told the Information Commissioner (IC) that it does not wish to fulfill their obligations for legal reasons, quoting schedule 7.10 of the Data Protection Act. Schedule 7.10 was not put in place to protect the identities of criminals. The IC does not appear to be hugely impressed but time will no doubt tell. Meanwhile the hunt for Bexley’s criminals goes on while the council tailors its next plan for the avoidance of justice.

For the record, no councillor has yet disassociated themselves from the criminal blog. One thought it was a harmless bit of fun, all are diminished by the actions of the few. We appear to have not one single councillor of honour and integrity.

For newcomers the obscene blog may be seen here. Password protected to prevent search engine indexing and unintentional viewing. User name teresaandwill. Password mustknow. Case sensitive.

 

8 January - Joined up thinking - Click any image for photo gallery (3 images) and explanatory letter

Bellegrove RoadBellegrove RoadHow long is it that the main East West route across the borough has been in turmoil at the Crook Lodge junction? From memory, at least four months and the current stage is not due for completion until March. Now the same route is to be disrupted half a mile to the west in Welling. Work starts tomorrow.

The plans and consultation documents are available as a PDF download from Bexley’s website. A summary of the plan says it is to “reduce congestion and delays, reduce collisions, improve pedestrian facilities, and generally improve the street environment by reducing signs, improving obstructions, and improving the footways” and that “after careful consideration of all comments and objections received, Councillor Peter Craske has now approved the scheme for implementation.

That is a refreshing change. His adjustments to the B213 three years ago were expressly designed to increase congestion and delay (seen every time two buses try to pass each other), put pedestrians at risk from cyclists and had the effect of significantly increasing the amount of street clutter. Naturally accidents are seen more often. Perhaps someone should take a look at the comments and objections for Bellegrove Road to see what fate befell them at councillor Craske’s hands. In the B213 case he thoughtlessly dismissed every single one of them and its users face the consequences every day. It is to be hoped that the new plan’s stated objective of “improving obstructions” is not as successful as it too often is with Craske in charge of road schemes.

 

7 January - Wild or derelict? - Click either image to view the complete certificate

Wild life gardenLast week I went back to look at the wild life garden that Bexley council deemed to be derelict. The last I heard the owners had been given a stay of execution pending an inspection after the leaves had fallen from the boundary trees. I almost walked past the house because I had forgotten the street number but expected to recognise it from all the potted plants in the front garden, but they had gone. The back garden was much as before; like all gardens at this time of the year it looked a little sorry for itself but my main interest, the expected bare trees, was a disappointment; there were none. They are some sort of evergreen which I did not recognise. The garden remains secluded.

Apart from a curious blackbird I saw no wildlife, maybe they have not been told about the Royal Horticultural Society’s Gold Standard Certificate which has been awarded to the owners since my last visit.


RHS Certificate
While there I looked through the file of papers relating to Bexley council’s prosecution attempt which included letters sent by council officials to the Local Government Ombudsman. They were extremely defamatory and probably libellous if published. One fairly small detail intrigued me greatly; the councillors who had originally complained about the garden on behalf of a local resident were Aileen Beckwith and Sandra Bauer. Councillor Beckwith’s involvement is understandable, the garden is in her ward, but what is Sandra Bauer from far away Thamesmead East doing poking her nose in? She poked her nose into the Olly Tweet affair too. She, along with Aileen Beckwith, are the only two councillors that few have ever heard of, I hesitate to use the word nonentities, who feature in the Bonkers Top 20. Am I missing something?

 

6 January (Part 2) - Digital dimwits

There was a questionnaire in yesterday’s Telegraph designed to discover if readers were too reliant on digital technology and whether it was taking over their lives. Addiction scores up to 25 were rated ‘Low’. I scored six. No laptop, no mobile phone, no MP3 player, no i-This or i-That. I know my way about HTML and CSS code and a bit of Javascript and that’s my lot! Twitter and Facebook are all foreign territory so if anything interesting goes on there I rely on others to tip me off. Yesterday I received such a tip off. It said that a new Twitter account called @BillTheFacts had sprung up and was putting out pro-Bexley council propaganda and labelling me a BNP supporter and laying in to Notomob too.

True or FalseI’m told that @BillTheFacts did not get the welcome he expected and deleted his account before I was able to look for myself. It was speculated that someone at Bexley council was not at all pleased that the News Shopper sought my opinion on an important matter. I can understand that. I would have preferred a different headline because it was a little mischievous and true only if you allowed the reporter a little poetic licence. As for the article being a boost for the website, it has been something of a let down, the hits have flat-lined all week. What pushes website hits through the roof is Bexley council calling in their military wing and getting them to trump up some charge like “Criticising councillors” or standing outside a shop with a cardboard sign. Perhaps Bonkers will be so blessed before too long.

Last weekend someone told me that there are two schools of thought at Bexley council; those who think I should be banged up as soon as possible and a smaller number who think I will eventually go away. The latter are of course right, I am 68 years old but whilst my younger colleagues are comfortable with an i-Phone and a Kindle they are clueless when faced with a page of HTML code. What I would really like is for Bexley council to stop providing so much news of a dubious nature with which to berate them. Bonkers would wither and die instead of growing bigger by the day.

 

6 January (Part 1) - The Information Commissioner gets tough

It has been possible to detect a gradual change in the tone of letters from the Information Commissioner in recent months when dealing with Bexley council’s repeated flouting of the law, their patience may be wearing thin. This extract from a letter dated 3rd January 2012 looks like confirmation…


“I have drafted a formal Information Notice today which is to be issued to the council within the next couple of days. This requires the council to supply a copy of the withheld information and detailed submissions as to why it has refused to disclose this information to you under the Act within a period of 30 days. The 30 days will commence from the date the notice is served.

I have proceeded straight to an Information Notice in your case instead of trying to obtain this information by less formal measures due to the council’s previous reluctance to supply the Commissioner with any information of the nature you requested.”


The Freedom of Information request in question is that referred to on 29 November 2011.

My Subject Access Request (SAR) submitted to Bexley council last May is still unanswered. The Information Commissioner gave them ten days to comply just before Christmas and the date for that expired yesterday - or arguably today if you accept Bexley council’s right to award themselves an extra Bank Holiday. Done properly, the SAR should give interesting clues to the identity of the obscene bloggers. If Will Tuckley doesn’t know who did that he is clearly not worthy of his enormous salary. I want to give him every chance to do the job properly so I sent the following today to Bexley’s FOI liaison officer.


You will no doubt be aware that the Information Commissioner instructed you to fulfill your obligations under the Data Protection Act and complete my Subject Access Request of last May by today.

However I appreciate that the ten days over Christmas and New Year is not the best time to ensure complete and thorough provision of information; I therefore do not propose to complain to the Information Commissioner for another ten days from today.

A minimum response would be…
1) All the correspondence by councillors and officials from January to April 2011 which led to Mr. Tuckley reporting me to Bexley police for "Criticising councillors at a personal level".
2) All the correspondence from early June 2011 when Mr. Tuckley and Council Leader O'Neill apparently intervened to ensure the removal of content from the obscene and homophobic blog, the blog being removed within hours of them becoming aware of it.
3) All the correspondence leading up to and following Mr. Tuckley's 7th July 2011 meeting with police who were investigating the crime. The police reports confirm that I was one of three subjects of that meeting.

I trust a further ten days will give you ample opportunity to comply with the law.

 

5 January - Thesaurus : Interview - Meeting (noun). Talk to (Verb)

Here are some facts to ponder…


• 9 June 2011. Chief Executive Will Tuckley wrote about the obscene blog: “I have referred the matter to the police”.
• 11 October 2011. A Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Bexley council asked; “How many criminal investigations are currently being investigated against Bexley Council?”
• 24 October 2011. The FOI request (11/994) was refused on the grounds that no records are kept.
• 24 October 2011. An FOI appeal asked “Is Chief Executive Will Tuckley AWARE of any employee or Councillor having been interviewed by the Metropolitan Police in connection with any allegation of crime made against Bexley Council in the last six months in connection with an obscene blog?”
• 24 October 2011. Detective Constable Neil Thomas referred to the obscene blog as “a counter allegation by Malcolm Knight and Elwyn Bryant” and went on to say “I attended Bexley council offices with DCI Funnell on 7 July 2011. We had a meeting with Will Tuckley. We outlined the intention of the police enquiry would be to arrest any suspects if any offences were disclosed”.
• 3 November 2011. The FOI appeal dated 24 October received a one word answer. “No.”
• 21 November 2011. Formal complaint registered against Chief Executive Will Tuckley (referring to the conflicts detailed above) for “breaching the general principles of the code of conduct”.


The complaint brought forth the following from Mr. Paul Moore, Head of Corporate Services.


“The dispute relates to the phrasing ‘interview’ contrasted with the phrase ‘meeting with Will Tuckley’. I am sure we could debate at some length the difference between a meeting and an interview. I do not accept that a misunderstanding along these lines constitutes a breach of the code of conduct.” (†)


ThesaurusSo Will Tuckley didn’t realise when asked if he knew anything about an investigation into an obscene blog that a visit by two police officers and their talk of arrest constituted any sort of police investigation? Not very bright is he?

As might be expected, Mr. Moore had to defend his boss. He choose to argue that an interview and a meeting are very different things and totally ignored the fact that the FOI of 11th October was about “criminal investigations”. Protecting a £130k. salary instead of accepting reality may not be the most dastardly of crimes but what does it say about Chief Executive Will Tuckley? He referred the matter of the obscene blog to the police, he was present when DC Thomas pursued the case by means of a meeting at which arrests were discussed, yet when replying to a member of the public who asked if he was aware of any investigation he chose to say he was not.

The use of the word ‘enquiries’ and ‘suspects’ indicates that the police report on their investigation - see below - must refer to the obscene blog. If it was a reference to the harassment issue names would appear, not unknown suspects, and there was no need for IT data except for an investigation into the obscene blog.
Police statement
Another FOI revealed that Mr. Tuckley personally reviews all the FOIs submitted by the resident in question so he cannot claim ignorance of the original question referring to an investigation. Whether the police visit of 7th July was an interview or a meeting is irrelevant. It was clearly part of an investigation - the subject of the FOI.

Does this entitle us to believe that Chief Executive Will Tuckley is a stranger to the truth? I am inclined to think it does.

Can it really be true that Bexley council does not keep any records of police investigations?

† The extract from the letter is abbreviated. The full version is available here.

 

4 January (Part 3) - Bloggers in the News Shopper

News Shopper HeadlineIt was my intention to say nothing about Bonkers’ appearance in today’s News Shopper but having read the comments on their website I feel obliged to fill in a few details

The News Shopper reporter asked me last Thursday if I had any views on the council’s planning application for the Woolwich Building. I said I hadn’t seen it so I couldn’t help; I supposed that he was having difficulty getting hold of the usual suspects during the holiday period. Afterwards I felt that I had let the reporter down and sent an email of my recollections of the council meeting that approved the building swap. You can read the email here.

Next day the reporter asked if he could include my comments and I agreed. I like the idea of the blog being mentioned in the paper, not so sure about myself but if it serves the cause…

Probably the Shopper feature doesn’t make it clear enough that my report was based on facts taken from the council meeting, it was not necessarily my opinion. The Woolwich building is well sited but it may be more a convenient bodge than an ideal Town Hall. Overall I have no real complaints about the Shopper’s report. It has a snappy headline, not absolutely accurate but it helps spread the word about the blog, and in turn about Bexley council. Few newspaper reports are perfect. I know how long it takes to try to ensure total accuracy and clarity on Bonkers and fully understand the pressure there must be in producing a whole newspaper with minimum staffing levels.

Generally my aim is to report facts, provide links to the documentation and let you make up your own mind on whether or not Bexley council is honest and competent. I’m sure I slip off that pedestal on occasions and lapse into offering an opinion; in fact I’m sure I did when the ‘Tesco swap’ was agreed, I think I said “I was persuaded the best compromise was achieved this evening”. Not a perfect solution, but perhaps a reasonable compromise in the circumstances.

On Page 3 the Shopper accurately reports Olly Cromwell’s situation, the first real opportunity it has had to do so given the almost continuous holiday since he last appeared in court.

 

4 January (Part 2) - No contest. No accountability

The Top 20 Bonkers searches of 2011 put Toni Ainge in position 15. Antonia Ainge is Bexley council’s Deputy Director (Culture) and as revealed last October is married to her boss, the Director of Environment, Peter Ellershaw. It's a very unusual arrangement and probably you have not heard of anything like it before because it could cause all sorts of conflicts of interest and moral dilemmas that more reputable employers would wish to avoid. You may be interested in how the situation may have come about. Here are some questions and answers obtained under FOI…


• How many applicants were interviewed for the post? One.
• Who sat on the interview panel? Councillors Linda Bailey, Colin Campbell, Peter Catterall, David Hurt, Gill MacDonald and Teresa O’Neill.
• What professional qualifications does Antonia Ainge have that qualify her to hold her position? Members were wholly satisfied that she had the qualifications and experience to meet the requirements of the post.


An enquiry about what those qualifications actually were was refused. “It is not appropriate to share personal information relating to an individual.” Is that not a very odd reply? Are tax payers not allowed to know if their money is being spent by suitably qualified people? Maybe we have stumbled across the reason why Bexley council is constantly in trouble. Nepotism triumphs over ability.

 

4 January (Part 1) - How many crooks does it take to make a council?

Ian Clement performing community service“The Council’s Standards Committee agreed unanimously that Councillors voluntarily undergo a criminal record check”. That was Bexley council’s answer when asked what precautions it took to “ensure that no serving councillor has a criminal record”. Rather than immediately interpret the answer as “none” a further question was asked. “How many councillors refused to voluntarily undergo a criminal record check on being elected at the last Council Election?” Answer : “The information is confidential. No record is kept of the applications submitted by Councillors to the Criminal Records Bureau.”

Keeping ‘No record’ confidential seems a rather strange concept but at least you have an answer… Bexley council does not take any effective steps to ensure that it is not comprised of a bunch of crooks.

 

3 January (Part 3) - Back to work…

The new year may be a good time to do an update on what is happening on the ’legal’ front where both Bexley council and Bexleyheath police have been dragging their feet.

Harassment letter
It is nine months since Will Tuckley told the police that he wanted me (his complaint pre-dated Olly Cromwell’s first Bexley blog) prosecuted for “criticising councillors on a personal level” and the cops dutifully got on the the Crown Prosecution Service to see if they could have me in court. They eventually settled on a threat of arrest under the Harassment Act. Bexleyheath police refused to discuss the matter and following a complaint to the Directorate of Professional Services an anonymous officer in Bexleyheath police’s Professional Standards Unit told me they couldn’t find the responsible officer so they had to obey Will Tuckley’s command and throw out my complaint. The issue is now with the Independent Police Complaints Commission. I don’t know the current situation but when the IPCC was set up it was stuffed full of retired policemen. Truly independent? Probably not.

Obscene blog
Councillors Taylor and HuntElwyn Bryant quoted the Met. Police guidance on hate crime to Bexley’s boys in blue who were either ignorant of it or maybe they thought an elderly gent like Elwyn would be a pushover for their soft soap. The obscene blog is now officially a hate crime. It is progress of a sort but I can’t see it making a lot of difference. If there is eventually a conviction it may result in a more severe sentence but the initial difficulty remains; how do you persuade a police force under the thumb of Bexley council to get off its backside?

My letter on the subject (and others) to Chief Inspector Gowen is more than three weeks old and unanswered. Disappointing as it was him who invited a response when he apologised for one of his mistakes - but only after a complaint. Maybe he didn’t expect to receive such a comprehensive list of police wrongdoing for his delectation? Looks like a return visit to the Directorate of Professional Standards will not be long in coming.

One of Elwyn’s new police contacts says he believes the investigation is nearing its end. I suspect they are hoping to find a new way to wriggle away from it. To those readers who have asked if either of the two blogging councillors (or Jasper the dog) have been in contact to assure me they are entirely innocent of any crime I have two things to say…

1) No one said they are involved. It has only been suggested they have the requisite knowledge and their own blogs disappeared at the same time as the last vestiges of the obscene one. It’s a strange coincidence but there is not a shred of evidence that it is anything but coincidence.

2) No they haven’t. I wish they would but presumably they have their reasons. Perhaps it is not as politically easy as it would seem to ‘ordinary folk’.

Subject Access Request
Made last May and due to be answered within 40 working days. It should have revealed who published the obscene blog but that would be too honest by far. So even now it is unanswered. However the Information Commissioner has given an ultimatum and told Bexley council to answer it by the end of this week. I really can’t see that happening. At best I will get a non-answer.

Olly Cromwell
A malicious prosecution if ever there was one. Olly was found not guilty of harassment on 21st December but a new charge is due to be heard at Greenwich Court on 14th February. There is no dispute about what he said, only the possible effect of what he said. Despite the harassment case being over and done with and the District Judge regretting that he had no power to order the return of Mrs. Cromwell’s computers and phones etc., Bexley police are still refusing to return anything. Still needed for their investigation they say. Is Bexleyheath police station full of incompetents or extremely flexibly policemen doing Bexley council’s bidding? Probably both.

P.S. I received a phone call this morning from someone who follows Bonkers second hand through comments by friends, he has no computer of his own. He was under the impression, because it was in the News Shopper which has not yet been able to carry an update, that Olly is due at Bromley court on Friday 6th January. This is not the case, those charges were dropped. The new date is definitely 1:30 on 14th February at Greenwich.

 

3 January (Part 2) - Abbey Road, Belvedere

Councillor Peter CraskeAbbey Road floodedThe B213 from Abbey Wood to Lower Belvedere has a special place in this website’s history because it was the lies told by councillor Craske’s cronies to justify its mutilation that caused the site to be launched in September 2009. Now that the road is so narrow (a further 200 metres from the site of the photograph) that drivers have little option but to put their wheels in the gutter, wet days are especially perilous to pedestrians. This morning being a wet one I saw a young woman drenched from head to foot by a 469 bus. She loudly shouted “bastard” at the driver. I should have told her who is the real villain of the peace. Guess who signed off the plans and ignored every single one of the objections.

Note: The problem that caused this particular puddle has now been fixed but similar ones exist. The one next to the bus stop causes chaos.

 

3 January (Part 1) - WANTED!

An idea nicked from another London blog… A list of 2011’s top search engine key words leading to Bonkers. Popular searches like Thames Innovation Centre and “pitchforks” are excluded leaving only the highest ranked proper names.

1. Chris Loynes
2. Eva Read
3. Sandra Bauer
4. James Hunt
5. Alex Sawyer
6. D I Keith Marshall
7. Chris Taylor
8. Commander Stringer
9. Chief Inspector Gowen
10. Nick Ferrari
11. Teresa O’Neill
12. Aileen Beckwith
13. Colin Campbell
14. Melvin Seymour
15. Toni Ainge
16. Will Tuckley
17. Boris Johnson
18. Gareth Bacon
19. Tina Brooks
20. Munir Malik

 

2 January (Part 2) - Another magic half million saved

Wyncham HouseWyncham HouseBexley council is selling Wyncham House, home to its planning department. It is where you can go and inspect planning applications on demand. According to the sales blurb Wyncham House is 2,070 square metres over four floors, “constructed in 1992” and “within a short walk of Sidcup railway station”.

The council announced in its magazine that the 120 staff will be “moved to other sites in the borough” early this year and that “Customers with planning and building control enquiries will be able to make these at the more accessible Contact Centre at the Bexleyheath Civic Offices”. Not more accessible if you visit by train and more expensive by car and not very accessible if the document or person you wish to see is based in a different building but don’t expect the whole truth from Bexley council.

The reason for the sale of Wyncham House is said to be that vacating it will save £535,000 a year. If there is spare office space hanging around doing nothing but costing money why wasn’t it used before? If dispersing staff around decrepit old buildings cost any less, let alone enormously less, than keeping them in an almost new building why has so much effort been expended on plans to get everyone under the same ‘Woolwich’ roof? Is that £535k. the annual cost of Wyncham House or is it the difference in the cost of Wyncham House and cheaper accommodation in other council buildings? It looks like time for an FOI.

Needless to say, Bexley council declined to answer the Freedom of Information request (ref. 11/1207) about the running costs of Wyncham House. Commercially sensitive they said; so we are left to guess where the £535,000 comes from. Probably the same magician’s hat as the £3 million of savings on recycling which doesn’t stop the recycling budget getting slightly bigger each year.

Typical office maintenance costs are not easy to find. East Sussex County Council is on record as saying it is close to 1% of its capital cost but concedes that “the 2005 BCIS Review of Maintenance Costs suggests that the appropriate level of expenditure for local authorities, given the level of required maintenance, should be something closer to 3·6%”. (BCIS - Building Cost Information Service.) A university says their maintenance costs come to just under £54 per square metre per annum. At that rate £535,000 would allow more than 9,900 sq. metres to be maintained, very nearly five times the size of Wyncham House.

But Bexley council isn’t claiming that it spends £535,000 on Wyncham House, their word “saving” implies that it is the difference between the cost of keeping it open and the cost of running some other place. It looks like a lot of money and if Bexley council won’t provide any figures I am left to speculate that their financial juggling owes more to the way landlords manipulate holiday deposits, than sound accounting procedures, for it is councillor Colin Campbell who is in charge of the Wyncham House sale. The News Shopper reports “Cabinet member for finance and corporate services, Councillor Colin Campbell, said about the sale of Wyncham House, "This is a positive step for the council in reducing its office space and so its running costs”.

 

2 January (Part 1) - In the dark at The Black Horse

The Black HorseSidcup Community Group members are still taking a very close interest in the demolition of the historic Black Horse in Sidcup High Street. Mysteriously the planning documents are not available on line but they have been inspected by a SCG member. She reported a few days ago that “planning permission has still not been issued for the demolition of the Black Horse facade. This is waiting for a Section 126 Agreement to be signed by the Applicant. This is to settle what is to be put in its place. However the facade is long gone”. (†)

The documents include the following mysterious statement…

Planning ref: 11/01942/ADV - Provision of 3 non-illuminated signs, 6 non-illuminated floodlights, 2 non-illuminated up/down lights, and led lighting at parapet.

Does anyone know what a non-illuminated floodlight is?

† The lady concerned believes that the document has now been signed (six weeks after the facade was demolished without formal permission) but that it remains the case that no information is available on the website nor have “interested parties” been notified.

 

1 January (Part 2) - Happy holidays?

Tenerife apartmentThere has been a bit of a spat going on on the Trip Advisor (holiday recommendations) forum since last August. A number of people claim that they rented an apartment in Tenerife and cannot get their deposit bonds back. Various sums from £200 to £1,350 are involved. A couple of people say they managed to get their deposits back after months of delay but most are getting nowhere and at best getting promises that fail to materialise.

The most strongly worded comments make accusations of widespread wrongdoing by “you and your crooked dad” and not content with that there are accusations of marital bed hopping complete with addresses of those alleged to be involved. Some comments have been removed by the forum moderator and yesterday’s personal ones are sure to suffer the same fate. I won’t be publishing my screen grabs.

Who are these people attracting such opprobrium? The main man is a Mark Campbell, he is either owner of the apartment or the manager depending on whose story you believe. Some say he lives in Tenterden and owns a number of businesses. Companies House gives a number of clues. Mark Colin Campbell has been or is a director of Bexley Barbers Ltd, Bexley Cabs Ltd and Compass Property Finders Ltd. All are registered in Tenterden.

Another Mark Colin Campbell company was Ocean Travel Ltd. It’s not in business any more but its registered address was 25 Camden Road, Bexley. Sound familiar? It should do, it is councillor Colin Campbell’s address. A quick bit of genealogy research shows that Colin Edward Campbell married Pamela Linford and had a son Mark Colin on the same date given in the company director’s details. Pamela gets a mention on the Trip Advisor forum too, a family link looks to be a near certainty. No one has made a specific or substantiated allegation against councillor Campbell but maybe we have another Bexley linked travel business heading for the rocks.

Links…
Trip Advisor forum - Director Check - Others with the same name and birth date One Two Three

 

1 January (Part 1) - Traffic chaos

Ever since last summer the main thoroughfare across the centre of the borough has been blocked or partially blocked at Crook Log while a gas main is replaced. The diversion for the last couple of months has been via Brampton Road as far as the King Harolds Way roundabout and Long Lane which is a very long way if you are in a vehicle too large for a short cut or don’t know of one. From Tuesday 3rd January Brampton Road is to closed at the Crook Lodge junction and the work is expected to take ten weeks. It looks like a place to avoid.

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