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Bonkers Blog January 2013

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31 January (Part 3) - Thames Crossing Consultation

Gareth Bacon Boris JohnsonThe last day is tomorrow. Have your say. It took me under a minute to fill in the form. You don’t even have to give them your email address.

Yesterday Bexley councillor Gareth Bacon was arguing with Boris Johnson that the residents of this borough all want to stay cut off from the north of London for as long as possible while the Mayor said he could make no such guarantees.

Thanks to another bit of modern infrastructure that Bexley council also hopes will go away for ever you may see the exchange of views via the miracle of GLA web casts. Choose ‘Question time - 30th January’, currently at the top of the list, and drag the video slider to one hour and 38 minutes. See if you agree that Gareth Bacon comes across as an out-classed plonker claiming to speak for us all.

Sometimes I wish that Ken Livingstone had been elected in 2008, Venezuelan terrorists and all! On second thoughts; forget that.

 

31 January (Part 2) - Police & Crime consultation postscript

That useless chairman, Richard Mann of the Bexley Community Policing Engagement Group didn’t just reserve his boorishness for the luckless Victor Olisa, all and sundry were in his firing line. Three of the first four questioners were pulled up sharply for allegedly not formulating proper questions within their first two sentences, after which I stopped counting.

Nick GriffinStephen GreenhalghMost outrageous of all was his attempt to prevent the Deputy Mayor from answering questions towards the end of the meeting because he said that 3,600 seconds had elapsed and Mr. Greenhalgh must go home. Mr. G was more flexible than that but the chairman knew best and a small argument ensued before Greenhalgh prevailed.

The Deputy Mayor is a big fellow not to be argued with and from my angle of view a Nick Griffin lookalike. Definitely not to be messed with. But as I said yesterday Stephen Greenhalgh came across as a decent enough fellow you would happily travel in a lift with and Mr. Griffin is reputed not to be.

During the meeting the chairman recommended a questioner address Simon Byrne afterwards, apparently oblivious of the fact that Ass. Commissioner Byrne was due in Greenwich at 8 p.m. for a repeat performance.

While I lurked in various corners for half an hour after the meeting ended, the irrepressible Elwyn Bryant was asking Borough Commander Olisa when he was expecting to meet with me as per his offer nearly two weeks ago. He said he was awaiting my email of acceptance. How disorganised can they get?

Elwyn also found the Detective Inspector who decided to pursue councillor Peter Craske no more. The DI (now an Acting CI I understand) was asked in my presence how he would reconcile having the suspect’s IP address for at least three months before applying for a search warrant. He didn’t try. I don’t think he even knew. I wonder what he will say when Elwyn lets him know that the Crown Prosecution Service has told him that they said Craske should be charged but the police sat around twiddling their thumbs instead?

I overheard a a few slightly interesting conversations myself while hanging around. I detected a certain disenchantment among two or three councillors one of whom indicated that the leader had told them all that Craske is innocent. He’ll be back in Cabinet soon, mark my words.

Elsewhere I witnessed an exchange between Mick Barnbrook and James Cleverly, London Assembly member. Cleverly constantly addressed Mick as Richard. Is that because he regarded it as an insult or is he simply not very bright? Richard Barnbrook was elected to the Assembly in 2008 on a British National Party ticket and resigned the party whip two years later when the first of many whiffs of BNP corruption began to surface. James Cleverly knows exactly who Richard Barnbrook is and my guess is that the use of his name was just a petty insult. It matches his style.

 

31 January (Part 1) - Stuck in car ‘n age

News Shopper headline
What is it about headline writers that attract them to appalling puns? That above is from this week’s News Shopper which most Bonkers’ readers will have seen but there are lot from out of the borough who probably won’t have. Apparently those who ventured into the Albion Road car park last Saturday couldn’t get out. Bexley council had caused so much chaos with its contra-flowing town roundabout that Albion Road became nose-to-tail leaving no gaps for car park exiting vehicles. Hundreds stuck in there for up to three hours the Shopper reports with no one willing to help. Where are the traffic cops when you need them?

I was outside just before 1 p.m. and can confirm things were pretty busy.
Albion Road

 

30 January (Part 2) - The most loved police force in the UK

Police ConsultationThat’s their mission apparently. It’s what came up on the slide show at last night’s Police & Crime consultation meeting at the Civic Centre. Surely that is an aspiration too far? Even 15 years ago, before I came to realise that only a fool trusts a police officer, I never got anywhere near loving them. They are going to have to work very hard to gain a modicum of respect let alone love.

The meeting was advertised as being ‘advanced bookings only’ but that was abandoned as the normal Bexley apathy went on show. I counted just short of 60 people who looked like they may have been ‘civilians’ and many of them proved to be ex-coppers and Neighbourhood Watch coordinators. There were many uniformed police officers in evidence, perhaps as many as 20, plus councillor leader Teresa O’Neill, two cabinet members, six councillors that I noted, and James Cleverly; all Conservative.

On the top bench was Deputy Mayor for Policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, Assistant Police Commissioner Simon Byrne, Bexley’s own Police Commander Victor Olisa and a most extraordinarily belligerent chairman, Richard Mann from the Bexley Community Police Engagement Group.


MPS Twitter

Almost under my nose a young lady was Twittering the event on behalf of MPSBexley. You may read her efforts alongside. Bottom up preferably.

Stephen Greenhalgh in essence said the plan for 2015 was to get rid of buildings and provide more police officers. They will increase in number to a very precisely calculated 25,909, the largest number ever in London.

Simon Byrne said that instead of going to police stations his officers would “come to you’. Most of what the two guests said may be read on line at http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/policing-and-crime/community-engagement so there is not a lot of point in duplicating things here. However questions from local people may be more worthy of note.

Stephen GreenhalghA retired police Superintendent from Orpington was not impressed by the proposals and said that we should do what Kent Constabulary had done though he failed to say what that was. Perhaps his most telling comment was that if police officers had attended a traumatic event, he rather graphically described picking up body parts from a railway line, they wanted to go back to their station for a cup of tea to calm down, not to the local supermarket cafe where they would be pestered by people asking silly questions.

He went on to say that sending out solitary PCSOs at 2 a.m. wearing a stab vest is an invitation for any drunken lout to have a go at them. The sound of a “yep” came from the audience and I got the impression the source was leader O’Neill, but I could be wrong. Simon Byrne said he did not “want to see the powers of PCSOs move towards a fully fledged PC” which probably wasn’t the answer the ex-Superintendent was looking for.

The chairman of the Barnehurst Police Panel said he was “disgusted” with his local police officers and their bikes were all broken and not fixed. The crime rate, he said, had gone up “tremendously”. Commander Olisa attempted to answer the bike question but was rudely slapped down by the jumped up chairman, Richard Mann. An outbreak of audience jeering encouraged the Chief Superintendent to persist with his answer. He had recently spent £4,000 on fixing bikes. Deputy Mayor Greenhalgh obviously thought that was excessive as did I. Surely you can buy 20 new bikes for £4,000.

Another former Superintendent complained about the lack of CPS guidance after 5 p.m. which the Deputy Mayor appeared to have some sympathy with, referring to the need for “swifter, surer justice”. Ass. Commissioner Byrne was less sure. “Sometimes it is quicker to get advice from the central [CPS] resource”.

A lady in the audience didn’t think much of the plan to report police matters at a Post Office. “The queue in W.H. Smiths is quite long enough already.” And “How do the elderly with no computers report crimes? Reports on the 101 line don’t even reach the teams.”

Simon ByrneRay Hudson who is Chairman of Bexley’s Neighbourhood Watch believed the police was “hidebound with forms and we need to get officers out on the beat”. Simon Byrne was inclined to agree. “Every time we have a problem we introduce a new form. What we need is a bonfire of the Standard Operating Procedures.”

Another gentleman said that the aim to cut [by 20% according to the Mission Statement] crime might be an encouragement not to record it, he wanted some police to be behind their desks “for without that there would be no full recording. They seem more interested in producing data to boost their own confidence yet the Victim Satisfaction level in the Met. is the lowest in the UK”.

The Deputy Mayor replied to the effect that the police must focus on victim satisfaction while I cringed at his remarks because I knew who that questioner was. He has suffered massively at the hands of the corrupt and incompetent officers who infest Bexleyheath police station and gave him no satisfaction at all.

There was a reference to the recently closed Sidcup Police Station; Stephen Greenhalgh didn’t know that, and that according to the questioner, a former police Superintendent, anti-social behaviour had doubled in the High Street now that officers are tucked away in Marlowe House.

That pretty much wrapped up the meeting although the half hour that followed it was arguably more interesting. I’ll return to that another day.

For what it’s worth the two guest speakers came across as reasonable enough men but neither will have a clue of what really goes on at the grassroots of policing. All the questions from the floor were to some degree or another critical of their plans but apart from the vague reference to Kent, no one had a better idea. “Setting the clock back 30 years” as was suggested is simply not an option. The travelling duo will not have taken away anything from Bexley which might change their minds.

Note: This blog will be a hopeless mess when viewed in Internet Explorer 6 because of the scrolling graphic. What are you doing using a twelve year old browser anyway?

 

30 January (Part 1) - Concluding the Bexley police corruption saga

Five Borough Commanders in four years? Maybe number six will be able to pass the basic test for any police officer. Will he know right from wrong? It would appear that far too many police officers haven’t a clue about honesty and morality as becomes ever clearer when the injured schoolboy’s father concludes his truly dreadful story of corruption and wrong doing at the police station which Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa will surely be relieved to escape. A borough where the police shoot residents and start London wide riots should provide an altogether bigger challenge than sheltering crooked councillors and stitching up schoolboys.


Photo of injuriesBexley Police conducted two investigations into a serious assault on our son – read previous posts and decide for yourselves whether they were satisfactory. Major breaches of procedure led to the attacker (who was linked to the investigating officer PC1) being let off and our son being blamed in Police records (‘completely wrongly’, according to a judge). And concerted action from PC1’s colleagues and superior officers resulted in a misconduct finding against PC1 being downgraded so that he escaped any meaningful sanction.

When we informed Detective Inspector DI2 that we would be taking the matter further, he suggested our son apply for criminal injuries compensation instead. We understood that false information in Police records would make this impossible but DI2 assured us that Bexley Police would not accuse our son of anything. To make doubly sure of this, we wrote to the then Borough Commander, noting and evidencing the various errors on Police records and asking him not to disclose this false information to anyone else. We then went to Bexleyheath Police Station to meet him, Chief Inspector CI1 and Detective Sergeant DS2 so that we could express our concerns face-to-face.

Our son duly submitted his application for compensation and three months later was notified that he would receive no compensation at all, based on a report received from Bexley Police. We later discovered that the form completed by them was firstly allocated to PC1 (the officer who was linked to the attacker and committed misconduct in the initial investigation), and then to TDC1 (the other officer who was in charge of this “messed up” initial investigation).


Police reportOn the form, TDC1 reported that our son had “started fight” – a claim that the judge ruled was “inaccurate”. This alone would have prevented our son from receiving any compensation; but in case it didn’t, TDC1 also stated completely the wrong injury and grossly understated the secondary injuries (see image below), reducing the compensation that he would have been eligible to receive by 83%.

TDC1 reported that she had “returned” this form on 29 June 2011, only Bexley Police didn’t actually send it off straight away. Instead, unidentified officers held onto it for a further eight weeks, making alterations to it and adding extra false information that the form never asked for (e.g. claims about the attacker acting in “clear self-defence” and about our son being “the aggressor”, both of which were ruled “completely wrong” by the judge). According to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, several pages had also been removed from the report before the Police sent it.

Despite various officers spending the best part of two months ‘processing’ this form, Police asked the judge to “skip past” all of its errors and not allow them to be corrected, on the grounds that they had only been made “in handwriting quickly done” – reasoning that the judge understandably rejected.

Medical reportIn order to show that Police records about him were false, our son was required to submit a formal appeal containing 31 pages of evidence. Eleven months of investigation later, the adjudicator concluded that “in view of the problems with the police investigation in this case, I have had to look elsewhere for independent information” and “am satisfied that Jonathan’s own conduct is not in question”. As a result, his claim for compensation was ultimately awarded in full.

Initially, we believed that our terrible treatment at the hands of Bexley Police must have been a one-off, but the way in which they are reported to be handling the obscene blog investigation suggests their problems are much more widespread and deep-rooted than we realised. We are now beginning to wonder how many other Bexley victims of crime have been treated in this shoddy way, and whether Commander Victor Olisa will ever be able to restore the excellent reputation that his force once had.


The complete story so far.

Just how many years have to be turned back to find a time when Bexley police had “the excellent reputation that his force once had”. At least five or six that is for sure.

The victim, who Bexley police did their very best to ignore and pronounced the instigator of the playground assault, has so far had three operations on his damaged eye and socket.

 

29 January (Part 2) - Take a hike, courtesy of the Bashing Streets kid

Anyone who sends me correspondence which includes the name Andrew Bashford in the first paragraph is virtually guaranteed to be welcomed here, for it was Mr. Bashford from the road wrecking department who told me the big fat fib that spawned Bonkers.

Albion Road Albion RoadHis name has cropped up again in connection with the pedestrian crossing at the top end of Townley Road where it is currently affected by the partial Albion Road closure.

It is probably sensible for pedestrian crossings that have a centre refuge not to facilitate mad unthinking fools who dash straight across and to that end a small dog leg is usually provided to slow them down. However in Albion Road it is not exactly a small dog leg, it’s more a giraffe leg on growth hormone. There is a considerable detour from the end of Townley Road to even get to the crossing.

At one time the over generous detour may have been justified by the exit of Trading World’s car park but that is long gone so a local resident suggested to Bexley council that now might be a good time to rationalise the situation. Oh dear no! They don’t want that.

Whilst the infirm, the disabled, the buggy pushers with shopping bags and kiddies in tow are engaged in a fifty metre total detour, the energetic and foolhardy hop over three sets of railings or walk from Townley Road on the wrong side of the railings. I saw a pair jump the barriers as I was removing my camera from its case. The unsuitable crossing creates its own danger.

Albion Road congestion Albion Road congestionThe council’s objection to © ‘Listening to you’ and ‘Working for you’ is said to be cost and their explanation provides an interesting insight as to why tax in this country is so ridiculously high.

Mr. Bashford says that such a change “would need to be designed, safety audited and programmed with Transport for London” whereas you or I might simply buy a hack saw.

Maybe if Bashford hadn’t wasted so much money building cycling hazards in nearby Oaklands Road he would have had the money to do the job properly.

Bashford : Biting the hand that feeds it.

 

29 January (Part 1) - Course waterlogged

FloodFor the second time in as many days I got a drenching. This time it was the fault of Bexley council and their contractor F.M. Conway. Abbey Road (B213) is now so narrow that unless there is nothing coming in the opposite direction drivers must put one wheel in the gutter and the present day gutter is where the wheel rut used to be before councillor Craske in his Public Realm role authorised its unnecessary and expensive narrowing. Now it is impassable on foot in wet weather without risking a good splashing. The bus stop where I was waiting for a 229 to last night’s Cabinet meeting was, as always, flooded too.

The meeting was the usual well rehearsed waste of time - but not a lot. It was taken at a canter, an 18 millimetre thick Agenda and reports pack all waved through in a racing 24 minutes, which is fitting, given that leader Teresa O’Neill turned up in her jogging suit and councillor Peter Craske (†) was disguised as a spiv escaped from Lingfield Park - which of course he is. Have you ever Googled ‘Peter Craske bookmaker’? He takes up the whole of the first two pages, probably more. That’s almost as much as ‘Peter Craske obscene blog’.

Apart from those two reprobates and the full complement of Cabinet members there were thirteen more councillors looking on. Normally the only councillors interested enough to turn up and ogle the Cabinet are Alex Sawyer and June Slaughter and at best one or two more. This time we additionally had Chris Ball and Sandra Bauer lurking side by side in a dark corner and John Davey, Philip Read, Peter Reader, John Wilkinson, Ray Sams, Howard Marriner, Sybil Camsey, James Hunt and John Waters. Almost needless to say, four members of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group were there to observe the spectacle.

Director of Finance Mike Ellsmore was first away from the starting gate by announcing the remarkable photo finish that he had overspent the budget in the past year by £150k., exactly the amount of his basic salary package - and promptly shut up.

Funding gapColin Campbell went through the ritual re-announcement of how Bexley’s arrangements for phasing out Council Tax Relief are the best in London, or the country, or the universe or something. Surely even the thickest of Cabinet members knows that by now? He drew attention to a rather scary Funding Gap graph in the Agenda. However he said he “was not frightened” by it as the council was “hugely successful” and had “saved £35 million” already and presumably is still living off that 40% tax increase introduced by Labour which the Conservatives greedily hung on to and hypocritically increased following their 2006 election wipe out of the opposition.

Nearly all the charges levied by the council apart from parking are to go up from April by around 3% except some room hire fees which will double after refurbishment. Getting rid of rats and old sofas will remain the most expensive you will find among any nearby borough. I’ve not looked further afield, perhaps I should.

Councillor officer Jane Richardson spoke loudly and clearly into her megaphone about some rearrangements at a Slade Green school which is going to spread happiness and delight among the area’s children and very possibly the head teachers who will be able to set their own salaries. Cabinet member for Education John Fuller said he “echoed what Jane said” after which councillor ‘Biffa’ Bailey justified her generous allowances by adding that she “echoed what John said”. Very profound Linda. Are you going soft or is it hard going keeping up?

Pavement parkingPeter Ellershaw Director of (his own?) Wellbeing made an announcement that will be welcomed in eleven of the borough’s streets and in the parking office.

16 roads had taken part in a consultation to allow, or not, pavement parking. Those residents who voted more than 50% in favour are to have their wish granted and woe betide any resident who should leave a wheel on a white line. And that was it. Allowances pocketed. Job done.

Apart from Mrs. Richardson (£81,783 p.a.) the other sub-Director level council officers present were Sheila Murphy (£104, 253) who looks after children’s services, subject of much OFSTED criticism, and John Peters (£86,088) both jockeying for position as least value for money, neither having contributed anything to the meeting.

Click either graphic to enlarge it.

Note: (†) The Purple Pygmy was present in an observer role only having resigned his Cabinet post for “personal reasons”. I wonder what they could be.

 

28 January (Part 3) - Million pound fat cats and the lies told to protect them

A little over a year ago 2,219 Bexley residents signed the Bexley Council Monitoring Group’s petition against Bexley council’s astronomically high salary packages - sixth highest in the country according to the Taxpayers’ Alliance. My involvement was almost exactly zero, all I remember doing is advising the BCMG to take salary figures straight off Bexley’s website or they would argue that the BCMG made them up.
Example salary packages
I was wrong. BCMG took the council’s figures but Bexley council, liars that they are, still argued that they were wrong and a principal reason for refusing to consider the petition. They even went so far as to issue a press release under the dishonest title of ‘Setting the record straight’ about it and put up a page on their website to perpetuate their lie. It is still there.

So much time was spent publicising the fact council leader Teresa O’Neill, her liar in chief Kevin Fox and councillor Don Massey were ready, willing and able to ignore the wishes of 2,219 residents the actual figures weren’t subject to further scrutiny. The 2011/12 Accounts weren’t available and by the time they were the council’s calumny was half forgotten. How very remiss of me! So I asked Nicholas Dowling if he could stick his nose into the appropriate document, he likes doing that sort of thing - it takes all sorts.

Nicholas reports…


The council’s Accounts for April 2011 to March 2012 (Pages 64-65) record that their senior executives received the following:

Will Tuckley
Chief Executive
£195,779

Peter Ellershaw
Dir. of Environment and Wellbeing
£172,590

Mark Charters
Dir. of Education and Social Care
£154,208

Paul Moore
Dir. of Customer and Corporate Services
£129,444

Mike Ellsmore
Dir. of Finance and Resources
£126,217

 


On top of that was the exceedingly generous 20% pension contribution. To get an idea of how very generous that is, the Coalition’s latest wheeze to help workers save for their own retirement by forcing them to contribute to a pension scheme requires employers to contribute a minimum of 3%. Bexley council is a mere 6·67 times more generous to their top staff than your employer may be.

The pension contributions were:

Will Tuckley
£38,728

Peter Ellershaw
£33,482

Mark Charters
£29,933

Paul Moore
£24,853

Mike Ellsmore
£24,166

 


Which adds up to a salary package of:

Will Tuckley
£234,507

Peter Ellershaw
£206,072

Mark Charters
£184,141

Paul Moore
£154,297

Mike Ellsmore
£150,383

 


Now compare with the BCMG petition against excessive salary packages (uppermost graphic) signed by 2,219 concerned residents only for Bexley council to chuck it on one side?

Wow, didn’t they get that wrong? The lesson must be; never take anything Bexley council puts in the public domain at face value. Learn that lesson well. If their audited Accounts are right then their latest public statement on the subject must be wrong.

Unless you are willing to sift through 129 pages of Accounts, Bexley’s website is nothing but misinformation and misdirection employing every trick possible to avoid giving the actual total. That is Bexley council’s idea of being open and transparent!

The Accounts are in reality just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how much Bexley’s executives are costing each and every one of us but will be hard pressed to find the following mentioned directly. Most employers must pay National Insurance contributions. Without wanting to get too far into the intricacies, it means that everything earned over £7,073 costs the council a further 13·8% which gives the following:

Will Tuckley
£26,041

Peter Ellershaw
£22,841

Mark Charters
£20,304

Paul Moore
£16,887

Mike Ellsmore
£16,441

 


Which means that the real total cost to hard pressed residents - as we hear yet more depressing economic news - of a mere five employees at Bexley council are as follows:

Will Tuckley
£269,548

Peter Ellershaw
£228,913

Mark Charters
£204,445

Paul Moore
£171,184

Mike Ellsmore
£166,824

 


A staggering £1,040,914. Do they feel no shame? I doubt it – parasites rarely do. They produce nothing and live off of increasing charges and fees wherever they can whilst moving around money granted to them by central government or extorted from local residents via council tax. We should get rid of them, the sooner the better.


Nicholas works in the field of payroll accounting. Click upper graphics for expanded view. I think this is worth restoring the salaries carousel to the blog for a while, don’t you?

 

28 January (Part 2) - And then he was gone

He came here announcing that he would stay in Bexley for three years - a mere stepping stone in his glittering career - but it was not to be. I heard the rumours, now it is confirmed. Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa is off in March. Off to the borough of Haringey. A borough that cannot even spell its own name.

He may run but he cannot hide.

 

28 January (Part 1) - He’s back!

First Bexley police forced his web space provider to take his site down, then when he moved it overseas something very odd and unexplained happened to the name servers and it disappeared from view - but he is back. Olly Cromwell is back and in rude health as always. Those who who like their Bexley news bolder and brasher will know where to go.

I have been away for the weekend - down west, grand daughter’s birthday - and experienced some of the foulest weather I have seen for a long time. Tropical downpours obliterating visibility and high winds. I got caught once and was soaked literally to the skin; and Bexley basked in sunshine so I am told.

Normal service should resume by the latter part of this afternoon.

 

26 January - Thank goodness it’s the weekend

BlogrollThere’s no easy way to tell if a blog is being well received or not. The number of Bonkers readers gradually goes up, the Google ranking is high and almost 100% of readers who make comment do so favourably. Comments such as “Malcolm I write to you, not just to give you my support, but because I feel so angry and useless! I wish you well, with kind regards”, will always help drive matters on despite the obstacles put in the way.

The actual number of blog hits is not a good guide to success, getting on for half a million a year based on this month’s figures but more interesting would be the answer to ‘how many Bexley households does it reach?’. I could guess but there are rather a lot of regular readers from outside the borough which confuses the issue.

The more readers there are the more likely it is that some will be a bit odd. For a couple of weeks now I have had someone telling me I am not doing a good job because I am missing all the really good stuff. The child slavery, the adults imprisoned in their homes by Bexley council, the paramilitary activity on our streets, the feuding groups baying for territorial control of drug dealing, that councillor Val Clark is a significant figure in the criminal underworld at the centre of a very dangerous professional network which includes Bexley Council Monitoring Group members. Worst of all, that I am a member of the Conservative Party.

Much as I would like to believe the Val Clark story I suspect that none of the above is a serious problem and most is simply not true.

For the record neither I nor any member of the BCMG is a member of any political party although I think, left to his own devices, Mick Barnbrook might like to start his own.


Mind you, with this sort of thing happening almost daily in the UK maybe I am too complacent.

If you watch the video, a man hangs around in a corridor for three and a bit minutes and is suddenly set upon by uniformed thugs for no apparent reason. His ‘crime’ was bringing a private prosecution against two police officers. So from what one can see he was stitched up and given a criminal record for being beaten up. Now the police will be able to discredit him when he brings his prosecution. Looks like I had better be careful.

There is no sound.

The Daily Telegraph gives some background detail.

 

25 January - The Purpose Generally is to confuse and deceive

There was a meeting of the General Purposes Committee of Bexley council last night which was graced by five councillors and two members of the public, me included. It should have been six but councillor Betts was said to have suffered a puncture en-route. Of a tyre one must hope rather than something more painful.

The meeting was a notable first which I have been expecting for some time, it was all over quicker than my bus journey from Belvedere and was adequately chaired by councillor Geraldene Lucia-Hennis who had dragged herself away from The Charlotte public house in Crayford.

Only two councillors spoke at all, the ubiquitous Alan Deadman who must be rushed off his feet almost single handedly representing the Labour opposition. We really do need some more Labour people on the council to balance the workload. Poor Alan had not even found the time to shave.

Bexley Barber's ShopAlso not looking his best was councillor Colin Campbell who had perhaps tussled with a rush hour motorway and the A274 from Tenterden. With hair on end it was easy to see why his next family business is going to be a barber’s shop. Colin spoke with pride about Bexley being the only London borough that was going to phase in the introduction of Council Tax to those on benefits. A considerate Tory who knocks you to the ground with kid gloves. It’s better than the other sort.

John Peters, the Deputy Director of Finance provided a couple of figures. He was anticipating collecting 98·1% of the Council Tax due in the coming year but admitted the large number of changes to the system made it no more than his very best guess. More interesting was his warning about the number of appeals in the pipeline. The total business rates due each year in Bexley is £174 million but the appeals if all successful and paid out at once, backdated and with interest added, would cost £143 million. It’s just as well the appeals office operates inefficiently at a snail’s pace and is years behind with its work.

Donna Sexton who works for Nick Hollier in Human Resources rather feebly put forward her fantasy that the ratio between the Chief Executive’s monstrous bullion raid and the lowest earnings in the council had improved from 10:1 to 9:1.

As no one’s pay has changed this year and the lowest pay package is unlikely to be above £25,000 a year you would be right to smell a rat. The clever fiddle to achieve a nice result was explained last year. Basically they average the pay of the lower paid staff and compare that with those on gold plated salaries. If the ratio has got better but pay rates haven’t changed there can be only one reason. They have sacked more workers than bosses. Councillor Deadman was the only man to spot this was a fiddle and the only one to have his disapproval put on the record yesterday.

A year ago Bexley council said this…


The Council will publish information relating to remuneration of senior executives in accordance with the [2011 Localism] Act. In addition it will publish information on salaries for employees with salaries over £58,200 in accordance with the Code of Recommended Practice for Local Authorities on Data Transparency. This information will be published by name unless individuals refuse consent. Officers falling within the scope of the £58,200 salary scale will be encouraged to give consent for their names to be published for the purposes of openness and transparency.


…but they didn’t do it. Ms. Sexton said so last night and now they are downgrading the promise to this…
Council statement
Readers who don’t wish to pursue the details of the council’s fiddled figures should stop here. Nick Dowling who is better with things financial than I am has delved a little further into the Accounts.


The pay ratio is a totally made up number based on the salary of notional full time equivalent posts across 27 salary bands and those whose grade has been established using nationally agreed schemes – whatever the second part of that means. So part time workers are counted as full time employees for the basis of this particular exercise in pointlessness. It is an exercise designed to keep the ratio as low as possible. These made up salaries are then put in order from lowest to highest and the middle one selected - the council laughingly claims - so this can be held up to be the median salary package at Bexley.

This undoubtedly hypothetical number is then divided into the salary of Will Tuckley to give us the meaningless ratio of 1:9. All to make the council’s pay package multiple in some way clearer to the residents of the Borough.

It reveals nothing and is totally fatuous of the council to claim otherwise! Why not be honest and quote the salary of the lowest paid permanent member of staff and divide that amount by Will Tuckley’s salary package and then residents would have a meaningful pay multiple from the lowest paid in the organisation to the highest. Instead Bexley Council proffers a feeble double crossing fudge.

The number of staff earning more than £50k. has fallen from 81 to 80 in the past year, however the council is adamant, and repeated it last night, that the pay ratio, [supposedly] demonstrating the relationship between the highest paid and the median salary package, is reduced to 1:9. (1:10 last year.) They are at pains to assure us it has nothing to do with increases in pay but caused by changes in staff numbers. Council code for redundancies.

The staff numbers at the top have barely changed, (81 to 80) but Page 66 of the accounts shows that 143 staff were made redundant or agreed to leave - at the cost of a mere £2 million or so – clearly almost all of these were in the middle or lower salary scale range.

As we have established that more middle or lower paid employees have gone from the council staff list than at the higher end it has the effect of moving any middle value in the ordered list of notional salaries toward the higher amounts and thereby reducing the meaningless pay ratio.

The fact that the pay ratio can reduce whilst the council admits it has done nothing to change pay is a damning indictment of the value of this pathetic figure. Is it not fascinating what you can do with made up numbers?


The foregoing is slightly shortened version of Nick’s submission. His sources were Key requirements of Localism Act and 2011/12 Accounts - page 63 in particular. I would disagree with Nick that it is an “exercise in pointlessness”. The whole point is to deceive the electorate and if only the bloggers they wanted to have arrested would shut up they might get away with it totally. And “why not be honest” is a question everyone must have asked of Bexley council at one time or another.

 

24 January (Part 2) - Miserable? They may be now

Les Miserables film posterCompleting my response to the Borough Commander’s invitation to a meeting took blooming ages. Not that it took too long to write the basics, I know every event and its date off by heart but when one goes to write them down every one has to be checked for unintentional exaggerations or careless assumptions.

Then it has to be bounced across to Elwyn Bryant who is equally involved in the case. Elwyn, would you believe goes out shopping and takes his wife to the cinema - the cheek of it! Why can’t he wait for the Les Mis Blu-ray like me and benefit from a dry seat, the correct projected aspect ratio and better sound? Does he have no idea where his priorities lie?

Then there was the fundamental question to be decided between us. Do we go to the meeting or not? It was a difficult one. I can’t honestly see what the Chief Superintendent can do at this late stage of the game and the cynic in me, some are saying realist, thinks it can only be a last ditch attempt to cover the backsides of his predecessors, not that I believe he is entirely blameless himself.

So eventually the final i was dotted and t crossed and the Send button pressed. The deed is done and we agreed to attend the meeting if the Commander still desires it.

Another protracted debate was whether I should let Bonkers’ readers see it. My initial thoughts were definitely not but following a number of revisions I began to change my mind. It’s a long email but there is nothing much in it which cannot be found buried here, there, and everywhere on this website. It’s just that pulling it all together makes for some rather unpleasant reading if at some time in your life you were misguided enough to believe that police officers were here to help us.

So if you have the time and still have the interest, you can read it here.

I cannot conceive of anything that may come out of a meeting which will put a stop to the next stage, the evidence, much of it documentary is too good. The names of Teresa O’Neill, Will Tuckley, Melvin Seymour and up to nine police officers will be bundled up in a file and sent to Scotland Yard alleging corruption and perverting the course of justice. It would have been a damn sight simpler to have hung out a certain councillor to dry and, as the expression has it, to move on.

Most likely the establishment will conspire against us and find some reason to absolve everyone of blame but it is always interesting to see their twists and turns along the way. My family is used to it, we are still chasing the police over the Sydenham murder 26 years ago in which they were intimately involved - and I don’t mean in the investigation. Follow the campaign on Twitter.

 

24 January (Part 1) - Excuses and lies

Preparing a suitable reply to Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa has taken so much time that plans to follow up reader reports have taken a back seat with a consequent shortage of news. That is the excuse bit over.

The lies come from council statements found in one of Mr. Barnbrook’s inch thick files. He is still pursuing Bexley council about a letter they claimed to have sent to government knowing full well they had not but his focus has switched from their confusion - to give Bexley council the benefit of any doubt - to examining their justification of various events including evasion of FOI questions.

An enquiry was initiated by Mr. Nick Hollier, Head of Human Resources, and as already reported, his failure to allow a meeting with Mr. Barnbrook to be recorded has led to a dispute over who said what.

The detail is as usual rather too complex for a quick blog entry but suffice to say Mr. Hollier has called in a witness to back his version of events. That witness is a Mrs. Lynn Tyler who has dutifully provided Mr. Hollier with what he requires. Mr. Barnbrook has no idea if she is a genuine witness of what took place at the meeting in July last year which gave rise to the dispute because the flaws in her statement are several and one stands out like a sore thumb.

She says that only three members of the public were present at that meeting. Mick Barnbrook, Elwyn Bryant and John Watson, all members of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group.

Mrs. Tyler’s statement suits Mr. Hollier’s case down to the ground but it is wrong. Elwyn wasn’t anywhere near the Civic Centre that night, but I was, along with another regular at council meetings.

I was sitting about twelve feet from Mr. Barnbrook earwigging his conversation with Mr. Akin Alabi, the council’s Monitoring Officer. At the time I knew exactly what was said though six months later the exact wording is lost to me. My notes at the time were “Mr. Barnbrook asked what Bexley council would do if it found itself with a councillor convicted of a criminal offence. Alabi said he had sought government guidance on that and would get back to Mr. Barnbrook as soon as he could”.

At the time I had no idea that exchange of words would become so important but for me they make it an open and shut case. Mr. Barnbrook was given bad information then and from that I conclude that he has been told lies ever since. The witness who has been magically conjured up to prove Mick wrong cannot even get the basic facts right. The number is wrong and the names are wrong. I doubt she was there.

Is there no one at Bexley council who ever speaks the truth?

 

23 January (Part 3) - It’s not just Bexley then?

BBC reportThe problem appears to be widespread.

Tower Hamlets is listed as being particularly bad. Guess who is in charge there.

Click for today’s BBC Report.

 

23 January (Part 2) - Oh no, it's the Keystone Cops again

It’s Wednesday so it’s time for another dose of shameful behaviour courtesy of Bexleyheath police. I have been asked several times why the father of a teenage boy who came close to losing his sight thanks to a policeman’s friend didn’t take a case against them through criminal proceedings as well as a crown court. I can only suppose that a parent may feel the job is done when he has cleared a son’s name after the police have lied in order to smear it. He did however complain about police conduct. Fat lot of good it did though.


Keystone KopsBexley Police had “messed up” its investigation into our son’s assault; and on finding out how much we and the school knew about PC1’s mishandling of it, Chief Inspector CI1 promised to take tough action to deal with “rotten apples” in the Police. We were not greatly interested in this and were chiefly concerned that our son was not falsely blamed in Police records, but perhaps CI1 was telling us what he thought we wanted to hear.

CI1 was Head of Bexley Police’s Professional Standards Directorate, in charge of dealing with all allegations of Police corruption and poor performance across the borough and he asked Detective Sergeant DS3 to launch a misconduct investigation into PC1. We did not want to get involved in this, but CI1 spoke and wrote to us several times, insisting that we give him full details of the personal links between the families of PC1 and the attacker. So we obtained this information from our contacts and gave CI1 all of the relevant names, addresses and phone numbers and also the dates on which to examine their internet and phone records. CI1 knew the addresses well as he lived just outside the same small town in Essex where these people lived.

DS3 contacted us and we were concerned to learn that our list detailing the problems with the investigation had apparently not been passed to him. We sent him a copy of the information that we had already given to CI1 and he thanked us for supplying him with what he called “this very useful information”.

DS3 informed us that he was investigating PC1 for “gross misconduct” and that “dismissal was a possible outcome” but said that his technical investigation probably wouldn’t cover any of the information about internet or phone records that we had given him, and would be limited to looking at PC1’s Police email account. As PC1 had claimed that he didn’t know how to send emails, this would have left DS3 with nothing to investigate and only the most foolish officer would pervert the course of justice on his official Police email in any case; so we couldn’t see how this would yield anything whatsoever.

It was important that DS3 assessed the integrity of PC1’s evidence urgently as the case was soon to be reconsidered by the CPS. However, six months later, the CPS had already reconsidered PC1’s evidence two more times but the gross misconduct investigation was said to be still “ongoing”. We asked if the CPS had been informed of the details of this investigation and were told that it hadn’t.

Finally we were notified of the verdict - that PC1 had committed “misconduct”. We asked DS3 to let us know which of the allegations against PC1 had been considered to be without foundation, leading to the charge to be downgraded from “gross misconduct” to “misconduct”, but DS3 said that he needed to “take advice” about this and subsequently failed to answer our question.

DS3 informed us that he had examined interaction between PC1 and the attacker’s family and “concluded that it was at a professional level”, despite PC1 apparently not knowing how to make electronic communications.

DS3 also told us that his investigation did not relate to the “reliability” of PC1’s evidence, but only to its “completeness”. We took this to mean that none of the following questions over reliability had been investigated at all:


• Personal links to the attacker's family.
• Inappropriate advocacy in support of the attacker.
• Failing to note or challenge clear omissions and inconsistencies in the attacker's accounts.
• Acting “dismissive and disinterested” on learning that damage to our son’s eyesight could be permanent.
• Unprofessionally dismissing the police complaints procedure.
• Declining to receive evidence.
• Disposing of evidence.
• Altering witness statements and attempting to conceal alterations.
• Giving false quotes from witness statements in reports to the CPS.
• Making false claims to the CPS about witnesses refusing to give statements.
• Making false claims of being in possession of all the witness statements, of obtaining a further statement from our son, of having no case references from the CPS, and about CCTV footage that he hadn’t seen.
• Taking a statement from our under-age son with no other adult present and with both parents having been asked to leave the room.
• Potentially causing the failure of the prosecution by notifying the attacker that no further action would be taken against him before the supervisor had considered whether to appeal this decision.


Apparently, none of these matters gave the Police any reason to question PC1’s “reliability” in this case, and the only issue they investigated was how thoroughly he had done his job.

We asked DS3 what the terms of his investigation were but he said he was “unable” to tell us as the matter had been referred by Bexley Police’s Senior Management Team and we were not “entitled” to find out which allegations they had asked him to investigate. (The Senior Management Team that apparently ensured this cover-up comprised Bexley’s Borough Commander, Detective Chief Inspector, all of its Chief Inspectors, its Higher Analyst, Forensic Manager, Resources Manager, Performance & Review Manager, Finance Manager, HR Manager and Specials Manager.)

DS3 said that PC1 had received the maximum possible sanction for “misconduct” which we later learnt was a letter about it being held on file for 18 months – in contrast to the false records that Police made about our son, which would be held on file indefinitely.

Our son paid the Police a £10 [Subject Access Request] fee to see what had been written about him in Police files but was then told that he was not allowed to see anything at all, because it was likely to prejudice DS3’s criminal investigation of PC1 - despite learning later that PC1 had not been investigated for a crime at all, but only for the lowest possible level of misconduct.

Next, we’ll look at how Bexley Police took action that prevented our son from getting the compensation to which he was entitled for his injuries.


The complete story so far.

CI1, the former Head of Bexley’s Professional Standards Unit is Tony Gowen who told me that he couldn’t uphold my complaint about the unjustified Harassment letter because the complaint had come from the Chief Executive of Bexley council, Will Tuckley. Gowen was still best mates with Tuckley 18 months later when he arranged to meet him to see how councillor Peter Craske could be got off the hook, or in his own words, how the situation could be resolved. Oh, how the truth catches up with all these fixers and law benders.

 

23 January (Part 1) - Personal service

This blog is for Mick Barnbrook’s friend who says he cannot read Bonkers because the text is too small. Yes it is small and it suits me because I have a big screen and I have been to Specsavers, but I acknowledge that it doesn't suit everyone. The answer is to click on the rightmost green blog menu title above where it says Configure. Look just above the date 2013. There you will find a choice of three text sizes, each of them available in justified format or not. Just click on the one that suits you. A demo of the effect may be viewed on the same page.

A cookie will save your choice for future visits although it will expire and need to be set again after a year. The text will revert to Small if you clear cookies from your computer, reselect Small via Configure or permanently delete the Bonkers cookie via Cookie Policy at the foot of this page.

The system doesn't work on the December 2012 blog. I know why, there is a conflict with the Tavy Bridge sliding graphic. I suppose I shall have to find time to fix it. Today’s Part 1 blog (this one) cannot be expanded or shrunk either (but it will justify) . The font size is ‘hard wired’ in.

All web browsers allow an across the board magnify facility. If you are using a recent version on Internet explorer try something other than 100% in the bottom right hand corner.

Here endeth the lesson.

 

22 January (Part 2) - A protocol is not a policy it is an operational matter

Bexley council has a fantastic track record for pulling some ‘clever’ stunt and seeing it escalate out of control - and I am very grateful to them.

Their harassment charges eventually led to a councillor being exposed as a liar in court. Their obscene blog resulted in 20 months of bad publicity and another dozen or so to come - to say nothing of the trashing nationwide of reputations.

Kevin FoxKevin Fox decided to flout government policy by banning photography before as well as during council meetings - the former he admits is permissible under Bexley’s Protocols. Human Resources supremo Nick Hollier’s defence of Foxy put him in the Bonkers’ firing line and thanks to Mick Barnbrook’s persistence I can take pleasure in once again exposing Hollier’s crimes against democracy. Not for the first time he has been redefining the English language.

Two years ago when the number of awkward questions to a crooked council were rising they changed the rules in several ways to attempt to eradicate questioning. Among their anti-democratic decisions was one which said that any resident asking a question of council must have his address posted on Bexley council’s website. Councillors who ask questions are exempted from the ruling and in recent months eleven of them have gone further by abusing the Localism Bill and removing all reference to their addresses. No real surprise, crooks and liars will exploit every loophole.

The situation in Bexley now is that residents are only allowed to ask questions related to policy. Perhaps I should have said the situation in Bexley was… for it would seem that things are about to change.


Disgraced mayorMick Barnbrook asked the council to explain its policy of potentially exposing residents to risk by having their addresses published on the web. Our disgraced Mayor said it wasn’t a policy question and rejected the question. A complaint elicited a response from the infamous dictionary and thesaurus mangling Kevin Fox that a Protocol was not a policy. Kevin Fox is nobody’s friend so Mick was happy to make a formal complaint about Fox’s word twisting. His complaint has been answered by another of Bexley council’s manipulative jobsworths and Nick Hollier has wriggled as only a Bexley official bent on hiding secrets can.

Mr. Hollier has carefully explained that once a policy is adopted by council it becomes a Protocol but the implementation of Protocols is a matter for day to day operations and operational matters are exempted by Protocol from questioning at council. Is this man for real? By that definition no questions to the council whatsoever are permitted. Neat. Bexley council has got its way. No questions for a bent council to answer. Surely there is a job somewhere for Mr. Hollier devising tax dodging scams and the like. He has no shortage of ideas on getting around the law.

Hollier's response
I think managerial staff would be better employed chasing the office crumpet like in the old days. It does rather less harm, unless they are married of course.

 

22 January (Part 1) - What’s in it for me?

Sitting on the fenceSo the police said they weren’t going to talk to me any more but I threw in a final email anyway. That was last Saturday morning. Friday’s email was answered in 79 minutes but obviously that wasn’t going to happen again.

It took almost four and a half hours but in came an email flagged Urgent. It was from Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa - on a Saturday too - and copied to every officer in the line of command right down to the Detective Sergeant. And to my inestimable MP, Elwyn’s having apparently lost interest.

What did he want? A meeting apparently. I might have been more impressed if he hadn’t refused Elwyn Bryant’s request back in November and ignored mine altogether. Since then he may have come to realise the extent of the documentary evidence against his officers. Not to mention Tuckley and co.

Writing to a third party about the obscene blog only four weeks ago, he said, “you will be aware that the matter has been investigated expeditiously” and “the investigation into the allegations by Mr. Bryant and Mr. Knight have been carried out with vigour and speed”. Just who does the Chief Superintendent think he is kidding? Two months should have been sufficient to solve a simple internet crime, not nearly two years to bury it. When police decided, wrongly as it happens, that the boot was on the other foot, John Kerlen found himself in the cells and charged in a matter of days.

One of the officers recently involved in the Craske affair and a fellow recipient of the Borough Commander’s email to me stood in the witness box against John Kerlen. I wouldn’t go as far as saying he perjured himself, probably John would disagree with me, but he certainly stood idly by while councillor Melvin Seymour spewed out a string of untruths. Not just matters of opinion, but statements totally contrary to what was recorded by both police (including source documents) and councillor Sandra Bauer, the other witness. The intention was to unjustly convict John Kerlen. The Acting DI did not do a damn thing about it. Presumably they now expect to be able to sweet talk me out of dumping the whole tawdry Craske related story on the Met. Commissioner’s desk.

Last time I was in the (previous) Borough Commander’s office he said I was to trust him and stupidly I fell for it. Never again. There is no trust left.

I’m not sure I would be rude enough to simply say “stuff your meeting” but no police officer is likely to hand over the case file for inspection and they are not going to reopen the investigation; so can someone tell me exactly what the point is? And sticking the names of two council liars in my file of evidence is an incredibly tempting prospect.

In case you think Elwyn is leaving all the work to me, he has been chasing the Crown Prosecution Service. Under their rules, victims of a hate crime that goes down the pan are entitled to a meeting with them to have the whole thing explained in great detail. Elwyn has made some progress. I can imagine all concerned getting in a huddle to get their stories straight even now.

 

21 January (Part 3) - Before and after Craske

Snow December 2010 Snow January 2013 Snow January 2013When councillor Peter Craske was in charge of the salt pot; no that’s wrong. When Craske didn’t have a salt pot because he had handed over responsibility to Bromley, the borough’s roads were left untreated for days, but things are much better now.

This morning at 7 a.m. the nearby, to me, B213 was clear of snow, not even a ‘central reservation’ made of ice. There were similar reports from right across town. Minor side roads were still only passable with great care but there is no doubt that a Craske-free borough is a better borough.

The second photo (left) was taken around mid-day today and the sun was making an effort to break through but Abbey Road (B213) was never allowed to get to the state it was in two years ago. The third photo, above right, taken where the B213 runs into Greenwich was taken within ten minutes of Photo 1. The Bexley section (left) has twice the number of buses per hour than the Greenwich end (right) and a lot fewer heavy good vehicles, so that’s not the reason for it being clear. (Currently the subject of a 20 m.p.h. zone with humps.)

Thanks to the men - are there any women mad enough? - out all night with the gritters.

 

21 January (Part 2) - A ferry political message at your expense

Daily TelegraphYou always know when Bexley council is being particularly stupid, or in this case, wasting our money, when all the morning’s email is on the same subject. People have been getting a political propaganda sheet through their letter boxes. Within the past hour or so I have received mine. I think the postman may have delivered it - not sure.

It’s about the Thames river crossings. Bexley council is asking you to support the move to reduced capacity. Can you believe that? They want to replace the free Woolwich Ferry with a tolled one at Gallions Reach.

Their reasoning is that it will cost a quarter the price of a bridge and will be a bit quicker to get going. The sort of short term bodge that this morning’s Telegraph Business supplement was bemoaning.

According to the public purse sapping councillor and London Assembly member Gareth Bacon a bridge will have ten times the capacity of a ferry. His preferred solution is not exactly value for money is it? Ten times the capacity for four times the money satisfying our needs for the 21st century looks like a no brainer to most people.

What it is really all about of course is nothing to do with finding a sensible solution, it’s all about council leader Teresa O’Neill appeasing a few of her ward electors who live along a road that may find itself taking more traffic. To hell with the rest of us who will have to drive to Blackwall or Dartford and the residents of Greenwich who suffer daily with all us Bexleyites clogging their roads and choking their children.

Bexley people should take the wider view.

Mr. Barnbrook will be making his customary Freedom of Information request seeking the cost of protecting Teresa O’Neill’s seat. And from the man who gets a free Zone 1-6 season ticket courtesy of the people of Bexley comes this…
Balderdash

 

21 January (Part 1) - Cat among the pigeons

Toys out of pramFriday’s email to the police didn’t go down too well. All I believed I was doing was to place on record the fact that I am going to send an allegation of crime to Scotland Yard naming eight or nine police officers and a couple of council liars who appear to have spent the past 20 months perverting the course of justice. I have some good documentary evidence and I see no point in wasting it. The police must be made to realise that protecting corrupt councillors and officials is not what they are there for.

I think it is fair to say that the police are more than usually upset about my plans because fewer than 80 minutes later I received a response denying that councillor Peter Craske had been named as the suspect during their last phone call. Obviously I am now going to buy the recording attachment for my phone but what was said then doesn’t really matter, Craske was identified earlier and I have several correspondence items naming him.

The police additionally refused point blank to give me any information about their failed investigation and as if to reinforce their intention to continue with the cover up said in a second email addressed to both Mr. Bryant and me, “I cannot and will not be responding to any further emails from yourselves”. So that is what ‘supporting victims’ means. Another one for Hogan-Howe’s desk.

After a period of reflection I sent another email anyway.

 

20 January (Part 4) - Kiss him goodbye

To save any more readers asking what I am doing overlaying a great big red kiss over councillor Campbell’s address, see current revolving carousel above, may I refer you to this?

The man moved out of the borough. Not the only Bexley councillor to have moved away in the last few months. Will the last one out please turn off the lights?

 

20 January (Part 3) - What did you do in the war Daddy?

Vulcan at Farnborough Vulcan at DuxfordOff topic alarm!

The last time I quoted Hugh Neal‘s Erith based Arthur Pewty blog we had Teresa O’Neill and her cohorts on the warpath and me threatened with arrest because of his Flaming Torches and Pitchforks metaphor.

The police idiotically believed that I was planning a march on her HQ and it took the IPCC and probably several thousands of pounds of public money for sense to prevail.

Hugh was left on the sidelines untouched by the law and very possibly laughing heartily at the woman’s stupidity. My weapon of choice would not be a pitchfork, I might advocate a Vulcan bomber. Having grown up in Farnborough, Hampshire and seen Vulcans roll and literally blow me off my feet when switching on reheat 100 feet above my head it was always my favourite V bomber.

Hugh was talking about the Vulcan in his blog last week and we exchanged a couple of emails about the old warhorse. Now he has gone and splashed my words all across his blog. I didn’t ever regard my involvement with the Vulcan’s first action role (the Falkands raid) as very important but I suppose it is just possible I prevented it being shot down. Probably not but I wasn’t going to take any chances.

Hugh’s blog is always worth a read and if you go there this week you will see what I am going on about.

Note 1: Of course Hugh asked for and obtained my permission to publish my email to him.
Note 2: Yeah I know that neither a Rolls Royce Avon or the later Sapphires would blow me off my feet at 100 feet or so, but the Olympus engined ‘Concorde’ test bed could. My father was responsible for the Olympus test development programme, but that is another story and definitely well off topic. Tomorrow things get back on course with yet more failed Craske investigation developments.

 

20 January (Part 2) - It must be in the genes

Five live investigatesI am going seriously off topic today, now and in Part 3 later. Some of you will know that my daughter is a producer at BBC Radio 4, she specialises in investigative current affairs, looking into malpractice in all walks of life. When I see the BBC looking in on Bonkers daily I am always inclined to think that some of it is her.

Right now as I write, one of her programmes is going out on Radio 5 Live - their serious stuff is done by Radio 4 staff - and she is exposing malpractice among the police again. She knows all about that as she has spent the past twenty odd years looking into the Daniel Morgan business, the private investigator who was on the brink of exposing police corruption and got an axe through his skull for his pains. Maybe I should buy a hard hat.

Last night when I spoke to her she was in a bit of a panic because her principal witness appeared to have done a runner but overnight she found him and he has been on air live this morning telling how the police encouraged him to make up false allegations of sex abuse against care home workers and the like. He is supported by lawyers and people falsely accused as a result of such allegations. This was back in the 1990s and we are assured that the police don’t do that sort of thing any more.

They would say that wouldn’t they?

Click image for Listen Again. Available until 26 January 2013.

 

20 January (Part 1) - I have a dream

Not really, I’m never sure where this blog is going next. It depends on the material sent in by readers and for the most part has done so ever since I started it in 2009 when Bexley council lied to me and thought they could get away with it. It turned out it was the norm and not the exception or Bonkers would have petered out long ago.

Old family photoI do occasionally think of what good the site might be doing and optimistically wonder if its presence will ever persuade the bad councillors to do a better job because they can never be certain whether or not news of their activities might get a wider circulation than they bargained for.

I’ve not worked an allotment since helping on my father’s in nineteen fifty dot and thanks to this blog I now rarely have time to dig in my own garden but growing your own spuds is apparently more popular than ever. More than 100 people are awaiting an allocation to one of Bexley’s - I hope I have added them up correctly - 36 sites. Most plot holders are content to go and tend it when they can and go home again but as with all ‘hobbies’ some like to form clubs with committees and take their activities to a higher level. Bexley council doesn’t provide even basic requirements on its allotments and the enthusiasts want to provide toilets and pay for their own water supplies etc. Bexley council apparently recognises this as a good idea.

This is what our esteemed leader said on 25th July 2012. A trifle dismissive perhaps but otherwise unremarkable.


Letter from council leader
But when pressed further on what might be done to raise awareness of self-management, only a week later Teresa had had enough…
Letter from council leader
Such correspondence might not be welcome on your doormat but there is always a place for it here.

 

19 January (Part 2) - It takes all sorts but Bexley is just take take take

Two of last week’s emails were rather unusual. One was from someone who wanted to see a Controlled Parking Zone outside his home and the other was from a phone parking enthusiast. Bank statement
The phone parker however is no longer as happy as he used to be, the CPZ man is not happy at all. The phone aficionado has been used to paying his 50 pence a half hour plus Peter Craske’s unwelcome ten pence per transaction surcharge. People have been paying £1.10 an hour throughout the phone parking area. Suddenly my correspondent’s favourite spot has gone up to £1.30. A cunning ploy, it’s barely worth complaining, but the extra money trickles in nicely.

Is it 2 x 50 pence + 30 pence or 2 x 60 pence + 10 pence? You tell me. This is what Bexley council’s website is saying this morning.
Bexley council website
Why is it that Bexley is the only council in London that hasn’t got a link to ‘Parking Services’ on the front page of its website?

 

19 January (Part 1) - Home from home

Police at Civic Centre Police at Civic CentreI don’t know about you but after yesterday’s exchanges with the police - I’ll stick another email on line on Monday - I feel I need to get back to the old routine of relative trivia at the weekend.

Fortunately among the emails that arrived yesterday expressing various degrees of disgust at our local police force were more tongue in cheek ones, you’ll get the idea from the photographs.

This car may or may not have been parked on the pavement outside the Civic Centre for a full 24 hours until yesterday evening - note the snow - and may or may not have been attracted by criminal activity. Maybe they had just dropped in on their friends for a cup of tea.

Those of you who are very alert to these things will know that the road outside the Civic Centre is currently closed to plebs due to the so-called Broadway Regeneration.

 

18 January (Part 3) - Soft in the head

I try to avoid subjects which might prove to be too divisive. Whether the MP for Bexley was elected on false pretences having promised that Queen Mary’s was safe under the Conservatives; whether the mafia that runs Bexley council is a ‘Gay Mafia’ as has been alleged, I don’t want to go there but I have stuck my head above the parapet on the question of the lack of Thames crossings conveniently placed for Bexley. A vibrant city cannot exist without good transport infrastructure and it is my belief that we haven’t got it in the South East because Bexley council leader Teresa O’Neill thinks it might affect re-election in her Brampton ward at the top of Knee Hill and she has friends in high places.

For the record, and I tempt fate, I have never had anything but support for my stance.

Down the road in Greenwich they have good reason to despair about the traffic congestion and pollution that Teresa is so keen to visit upon them. I’m not sure why I should carry on referring readers to Darryl Chamberlain’s Greenwich based 853blog when he refuses to include Bonkers in his massive blogroll but he does have some good stuff on there occasionally and sometimes impinging on Bexley’s interests. And two wrongs never did make a right.

So if you like to keep abreast of Thames crossing arguments and developments and see why the title above is ‘Soft in the head’ then off you go to read what Darryl has to say. It’s a long one but I think it is worth it.

 

18 January (Part 2) - Peter Craske is innocent. OK?

The obscene blog/Peter Craske affair has entered a new phase.

A telephone conversation with a Detective Sergeant at Bexleyheath revealed that a case which she admits has been mired in political interference and extreme and unnecessary delay, has just about reached the end of the road. Apparently councillor Peter Craske insists that whoever used his phone line to make obscene remarks about four Bexley residents must have been parked outside his house and broken into his wi-fi, or it may have been a family member, but he would never do such a thing himself. You will have to accept that that is true.

How that wi-fi hacking intruder came to know that Elwyn Bryant and I were in the Civic Offices only hours before the deed was done isn’t explained. Ditto the fact that no one but Craske was likely to have recognised Nick Dowling and me in the Cinema Car Park. His computer was clean after the police had conveniently granted him such a long respite from investigation.

The police officer admits that the circumstantial evidence associated with Peter Craske’s IP address is overwhelming but the 13 months that elapsed between the crime and the police taking action has been absolutely critical to their failure. A carefully engineered failure in my view.

Teresa and WillEver since council leader Teresa O’Neill and chief executive Will Tuckley were advised of the blog on the morning of 6th June 2011 and its content disappeared before lunchtime - but they subsequently denied all knowledge of who did it - it seemed likely that Bexley council would do its utmost to pervert the course of justice. When DCI Alison Funnell accompanied by DC Neil Thomas investigated in July 2011 and told Will Tuckley at a meeting - in a Freedom of Information response he denied the meeting took place - that they didn’t regard the obscene blog as a real crime, it was just Elwyn and me getting back at the council for their illegal use of the Harassment Act, the writing was on the wall. When Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer and his deputy, Tony Gowen, said I should trust them while secretly arranging meetings with the council to see how Craske could be helped out, the end was always a foregone conclusion.

They may believe their case is satisfactorily concluded but it is not the end of the road.


Daily Telegraph headlineAt the mid stage of the investigation, around the time that the new Borough Commander, Victor Olisa, came on the scene I entertained the idea that an ambitious police officer would balance the impact on his own reputation with that of Craske and would want to ignore the political pressure. But with Teresa O’Neill’s close links to Boris Johnson it may be that the pressure was irresistible.

If Craske had been thrown to the wolves 18 months ago the episode might not have been forgotten, but at least Teresa O’Neill, Will Tuckley and a whole host of police officers would not have been forever tarnished by a rescue operation mounted to save his skin. Now they will all face accusations of criminal behaviour. That is where phase two is going. It’s no good just making complaints, Bexley council doesn’t seriously entertain complaints and the police will not even look at one for six months or more so deluged are they with reports of malpractice.

A recent email to the police gives a little more detail for anyone who is taking more than a passing interest in the corruption to be found here in Bexley.

 

18 January (Part 1) - Any excuse will do

Gareth BaconI occasionally get asked for advice on how to combat Bexley council and their funny ways. Few people make the distinction between me who does little more than report other people’s tales of woe and more dedicated experts like the Bexley Council Monitoring Group or perhaps Notomob (See contact menu above) for parking issues or even the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. However occasionally the question is fairly easy to answer.

Something like three months ago a telephone caller told me he had written to a councillor seven times without reply and asked what he could do about it. I suggested that a complaint might be in order quoting the new rules that are based on The Seven Principles of Public Life one of which is Accountability. Openness might be a factor too. The rules were established at a meeting six months ago. I then forgot all about the phone call.

Earlier this week the same caller told me his complaint is going through the system but he still wanted the councillor to answer his question so he had written again. This time he got a reply which was only a little short of ‘as you have complained about me you can whistle for your answer’. That was the sentiment; very marginally more polite. I saw the letter but didn’t have an opportunity to scan it. Which trougher got all uppity that he might be asked to do something for his £22·5k. a year payoff from Bexley council? The picture may offer a clue.

 

17 January (Part 2) - Review of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Function Sub-Group

The following report is from Nick Dowling of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group who fell for my sob story of not being able to attend the Sub-Group meeting myself. He asked me to add comment as I saw fit but it remains his personal account almost entirely unchanged from his original draft.

He tells me that there were only five people in the public gallery and three of those were councillors. Alex Sawyer very busy taking notes, and Melvin Seymour and Chris Ball the Labour leader. Note 1


I’ve not been to one of these before, Overview & Scrutiny Committee meetings themselves can be a trifle tedious, let alone sitting through the sub-group paraphilia as well. However Malcolm had suggested it might be of interest and the Agenda fascinated me – particularly the Member Questionnaire due to be discussed.

June SlaughterIntriguingly at the start, councillor June Slaughter was heard apologising to the other councillors for the fact that she had not attended the pre-meeting. She had not been invited as being only a substitute member she was not on the general circulation list. Note 2

It has often been said that every public meeting has already been rehearsed beforehand and it is always nice to have these things unequivocally confirmed. One can only speculate that there must be a jolly good reason why Bexley Council - an organisation that claims to value and promote openness and transparency - should deem it necessary to discuss matters behind closed doors and in secret; and only then trot them out for the public.

Given this state of affairs it is no surprise that so many councillors appear bored and disinterested at public meetings.


Ed HammondThe first substantial item up for discussion was from Ed Hammond, an ex-council officer, who was singing the praises of overview and scrutiny generally. I guess he would do as he is employed by The Centre for Public Scrutiny, so he will have a vested interest in this sort of thing.

His opening suggestion for everybody to introduce themselves elicited nothing more from the councillors than their names which he could have read from their name plates. He demonstrated how it should be done when he waxed lyrical on his roles in the overview and scrutiny arena but he did not try to involve the councillors after their initially poor effort.


Maxine FothergillThe chairwoman, Maxine Fothergill soon had her tablet computer out and was much more interested in this and after ten minutes or so everybody else looked suitably bored. I liked Mr. Hammond’s emphasis on ‘form following function’ which in essence means you have to decide what you want before you try and implement anything in order to achieve it. Now I have been called somewhat cynical in my time and all I could think of, at this point, was how Bexley council has got Overview and Scrutiny rigged exactly as it wants. Nothing ever gets properly challenged and any recommendations are duly noted and pretty much universally ignored.

Brilliant if you are into controlling the political message and agenda with a massive one party majority. No point wasting council time and effort amending anything as those in the cabinet and the senior council officers clearly know what they want and come what may, it will be served up. I doubt the cabinet feels very accountable at all as they bank on widespread public apathy to permit them to get away with anything.


Howard MarrinerWhilst mulling this over I was surprised that Howard Marriner, one of the Conservative stalwarts, admitted that the Scrutiny and Overview provisions at Bexley council are just a rubber stamping exercise. “When members vote they do so knowing the decision has already been made” and little or no time is provided for discussion and meaningful amendments. Note 3

I always thought that this was the whole point of the exercise but clearly it does not sit well with all of our elected representatives. Perhaps they just don’t like to be left out of the fixes and deals that are inevitably concocted by the Conservative inner circle?

Councillor Alan Deadman bemoaned the fact that with so few opposition members they are stretched almost to breaking point with all of the committees that they have to attend. I had some sympathy with him on this. He went on to point out that as there was only a small minority opposition it was incumbent upon the Conservative members to hold their own cabinet to account – fat chance given that I have never seen any of them ever vote against their own side. Their pack mentality is solid!


Alan DeadmanDeadman thought that members of the public who were confident enough to approach a Chair of a Scrutiny Committee should be permitted to ask questions - although, I am not sure that this met with universal agreement around the table. In a remarkable display of perspicacity the councillor opined that “the majority party cannot be trusted”. The man is nothing if not on the ball.

Ed Hammond thought that Overview and Scrutiny is not always the best way to get the public involved and from this point on I confess I lost a great deal of respect for him. I wonder how quickly some of these meetings are wrapped up if the public are not present at all? If they know that nobody is watching them I suspect they can be much more amenable to each other. Note 4

Another (non) highlight of the evening was listening to councillor John Davey prattle on about how Bromley council allows Conservatives freedom to vote against their colleagues. He seemed completely surprised that such a novel democratic notion was permitted. Clearly he has lived too long in our own stultifying little borough. He felt that Bromley had some great Overview and Scrutiny practices but they could produce perverse results. Note 5


John DaveyHis only example seemed a petty dig that Bromley had refused to partner up with Bexley over some parking matters. Perhaps Bromley examined the case a little bit better than our lot ever did and realised that hiking up the parking prices and enforcement only encourages shoppers away from the borough and off to the free facilities further out. Note 6

Davey then managed to get rather confused about justifying the costs of trips to the likes of Bromley which bore no relevance at all to the fact that the Committee was considering the costs incurred by their own meetings only. Duh! Better luck next time councillor!

The main event so far as I was concerned were the councillor questionnaire responses and it transpired that 25 Conservatives and two Labour members had deigned to take the time to share their views on, and experiences of, Overview and Scrutiny in Bexley. We were informed that the Labour councillors had decided as a group that they would submit only two responses, which given the startling results it still produced, showed that they most definitely missed a trick here. They could have made it so much more emphatically damning for the Conservative cabinet; but then perhaps they did not want to overly tarnish the system as they may see themselves running it in a similar fashion if the tide turns at the next elections.

A 43% response rate was deemed disappointing, so heavens only knows what they must think of the myriad of Bexley council public consultations that produce nowhere near this sort of participation level. In actuality the whole affair was largely glossed over with general murmurings that the consensus is that some changes most definitely need to be made and that the survey clearly demonstrated the vast majority of councillors share the views of this sub-group.

Damning stuff indeed! I wonder if that is the sort of sub-group report that the cabinet will duly note – and of course ignore? I fear that they will do so at their peril.

I noted the following highlights: 54·2% of the councillor responses indicated that overview and scrutiny in Bexley with regards to performance review and monitoring was only one level above ‘not effective at all’. 66·7% thought that the current Overview and Scrutiny committee structure did not allow for consistent and effective challenge.

74·1% felt that the current arrangements for monitoring recommendations and following up previously completed scrutiny work is not effective. 84% thought that the Overview and Scrutiny committee agendas and structure of the meetings could be improved.

Towards the end of the meeting, councillors were talking about dates for future meetings. The chairman let slip that the leader wants the Conservative Group to discuss the proposals of Scrutiny Groups before they are finally discussed by the Scrutiny Group - presumably to ensure that they meet with the leader’s approval. Councillor Alan Deadman's face was a picture. Why am I not surprised by that piece of manipulation?

I detect nothing short of mutiny in the Conservative ranks. They really do not like what the cabinet and senior council officers are at with the current regime. Do those with the real power appreciate how significant this discontent is? I sincerely hope not as it will undoubtedly only cause more and more rancour if they doggedly insist on trying to maintain the status quo. Perhaps all is not perfect in our Bexley utopia after all?


Note 1: The other member of the public present was John Watson of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group.
Note 2: Councillor Slaughter is too honest for her own good, it’ll probably be why she was ejected from the cabinet.
Note 3: Councillor Marriner always seems to be one of the good guys. He’ll never make cabinet either.
Note 4: Councillor Deadman is one of the few voices standing up for the democratic process. He has previously expressed his disquiet at the policy of putting residents addresses on line for no reason.
Note 5: Nick says that councillor Davey prattles. Good job he is responsible for this report and can resist bad puns.
Note 6: Perhaps Bromley is scared off by what it reads here. There aren’t many days they don’t drop by.

 

17 January (Part 1) - Councillors who have been sectioned

Each day I examine the website of at least one London borough to see how many councillors are hiding a secret so big and dreadful that they find the need to claim the Section 32 exemption that they are at risk of violence from the residents they are supposed to serve. So far I have checked through 462 names and found a dozen councillors quaking in their boots at the thought they may be public figures. Eleven of them are in Bexley.

 

16 January (Part 2) - Those bad boys in blue again

I expect you remember this one, if not read the story so far, it’s the case of the badly injured schoolboy and the all too familiar story of Bexleyheath police making a complete mess of things, or deliberately misrepresenting the facts, dependent on your point of view.

Let’s hand over to the boy’s father straight away.


Bexleyheath police stationBexley Police had “messed up” their first investigation of a serious assault, according to Chief Inspector CI1. You can take a look at last week’s report and make up your own mind about whether CI1 and his team “messed up” a second investigation too. Based on this, the CPS’s decision was predictable – that, once again, “no further action” would be taken against the attacker.

Police claimed to be “unhappy” with this decision and promised they would appeal against it. However, the CPS report following the appeal said that it was “not clear” from the Police’s response whether they really disagreed with the decision not to prosecute at all.

We asked for a copy of the CPS report. DI2 said he didn’t see a problem with this, but CI1 refused to give it to us, again claiming “legal privilege”. However, following further representations from David Evennett MP, CI1 did eventually send us the report. It showed that the CPS had dropped the case because Police had submitted insufficient evidence (contradicting the Police’s own report, which claimed that the CPS had dropped the case because it was “not in the public interest” to proceed).

The report from the CPS also noted:


• The Police had left them “unclear” as to how new evidence and witnesses had come to light
• No senior Police officer had submitted any grounds for the appeal, in breach of the Director of Public Prosecutions’ guidelines
• Due to the Police’s handling of the case, the courts would probably consider prosecution to be an “abuse of process”.


We wrote to the Borough Commander in Bexley, providing him with full details of the serious problems with both investigations, and offering him the opportunity to do something about it. As far as we have been made aware, he chose to do nothing about it.

The Commander did, however, promise that DS2 would give us copies of some Police reports on the case. As expected, we had to chase DS2 repeatedly for these. He firstly claimed he was unable to email them, due to lack of storage space (our Inbox was actually empty at the time). He then said he would have them dropped round to us. In the end, we had to go and ask at Bexleyheath Police station personally and wait in reception until PC2 brought them down to us, nervously blurting out that, even though the records didn’t show that she had given all the evidence to the CPS, she “distinctly remembers” doing so.

The records she handed over:



• Showed that notes about the reinvestigation only appeared in the Police’s case diary over two months after it had been completed, and after David Evennett M.P. had intervened again
• Included a ‘copy’ of thce Polie report to the CPS, which DS2 said had been “edited” – I didn’t realise what this meant until I noticed that it was typed onto a completely different form and even contained two fewer pages than the report that the CPS said Police had sent them
• Showed the CPS had quoted from a medical report that wasn’t even in the evidence that Police claimed they had referred to them, but appears to have made no comment about the two medical reports that Police claimed they had referred to them.



We began to wonder whether, by “edited”, DS2 actually meant ‘falsified’, but cannot believe that Bexley Police would do that sort of thing. (It is also important to remember not to hold all Bexley Police officers responsible for this shoddy catalogue of events – it was only officers DC1, PC1, PC2, DS1, DS2, DI1, DI2, DCI1, CI1 and the Borough Commander who were involved… at least at this stage.)

Next, we’ll take a look at how Bexley Police behave when they launch a misconduct investigation against one of their own…


It is important to make clear that the Borough Commander referred to above is not the current one, Victor Olisa; but his predecessor, Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer, the officer who along with his then deputy, Tony Gowen frequently repeated "Trust me, trust me” while investigating the Craske affair.

The complete story so far.

 

16 January (Part 1) - Overview and Scrutiny Committees, the overview

Nick’s report on Monday evening’s meeting arrived on schedule but was considerably longer than anticipated. It is being held over until tomorrow to allow a little trimming, but probably not much.

 

15 January (Part 2) - Mob rule

The system of local government in Bexley is similar to that used nationally; a small cabal of senior politicians are appointed to a cabinet by someone who has wormed themselves to the top of the greasy pole and the riffraff are supposed to do what they are told and ask the occasional question. Bexley’s cabinet is more a Mafia than a cabinet but mercifully has no Nick Clegg.

Bexley’s cabinet members, by and large, are each shadowed by an Overview and Scrutiny Committee to make sure the cabinet member doesn’t go completely off the rails and by that measure some are almost by definition a failure, especially when the cabinet member and the chairman of the Scrutiny Committee are married or civil partners. Potential for corruption in Bexley? No, never!

Not all Bexley councillors regard looking after number one as their priority, I can even think of one cabinet member who shows no sign of being a wrong ’un. There used to be more but they got kicked out, I wonder why.

Overall there are quite a lot of Scrutiny Committee members who take their jobs seriously and yesterday evening there was a meeting that may have shown that they are not all in awe of the Mafia boss.

There has been a Review of Overview and Scrutiny Committees and councillors had the opportunity to have their say. 64% of ordinary councillors don’t think the Committees are “effective” at “holding the cabinet to account”.

74% said that there was no effective follow up on completed work. 67% said that the Scrutiny Committees didn’t allow an effective challenge, 64% said their work programmes were ineffective and 84% said the Agendas left a lot to be desired.

Unfortunately my schedule yesterday did not allow an evening trip to the Civic Centre to hear the Review being discussed so I asked Nicholas Dowling if he could spare the time.

Remember Nicholas? He is the man who tore councillor Peter Craske’s justification for tripling Residents’ Parking Permits to shreds and was rewarded with this…
Obscene blog
If Nick’s report on what he has already admitted was a boring meeting reaches me before the day is out it will appear below, and if it doesn’t you will have to curb your impatience.

 

15 January (Part 1) - Five months of chaos - Photo gallery available (17 images)

Highland Road Highland RoadIt’s an unwelcome mess and goodness knows why the traffic circulation is anticlockwise causing two swap over points but at least it wasn’t gridlock at 5 p.m. on day one. The queues were not excessively long and would have added no more than five minutes to a normal journey.

The worst queues were where Eastbound traffic in Albion Road met Westbound traffic at the roundabout at the bottom end of Highland Road and Highland Road’s junction with Broadway and in front of the Civic Centre.

Bus users are badly affected as there is a long diversion to the bus station, buses travelling North in Highland Road could be heading in opposite directions, once clear of the disruption, and the ‘Bus due’ signs at the stops no longer work. Late buses and no idea when the next one will turn up. Just like the old days.

Click either image to see those two enlarged (note previous and next arrows) or check out the regular captioned 17 photo gallery.

 

14 January - Parking fines. Exposing Bexley’s dishonesty. (Episode 12)

Daily Telegraph reportI am grateful to a reader for bringing my attention to Saturday’s Telegraph, the only issue I don’t see, which refers to a report by the Association of Town & City Management that claims the demise of shopping centres is due, if I may be permitted a rough and ready summary, to stupid councillors.

Here in Bexley we do at least have the satisfaction of knowing that our parking situation, among the very highest charges in south London and by a clear margin the highest at night and on Sundays, is definitely the work of an idiot. Step forward councillor Peter Harold Craske, erstwhile cabinet member for Public Realm. You have to be an idiot to do what he allowed over his home telephone line yet he is the best leader Teresa O’Neill could find to decide policy for all the borough’s major infrastructure. The Controller at her very best.

Do I have to remind you of this? (Craske’s obscene blog.)

Or the state of Sidcup High Street?
Shut shops
For an example of Bexley’s parking policy and war on the motorist I can do no better than return to the disabled pensioner who parked outside KFC in the Broadway where the loading only signs were barely visible.

The man soon discovered that Bexley’s first stage appeal process was a sham; dismissal of appeals at that stage was automatic. The ex-policeman knew the situation fell under the conspiracy laws and reported it to Bexleyheath police who said they couldn’t take action against Bexley council. The officer who signed the letter was Chief Inspector Tony Gowen the man who arranged a meeting with Bexley council which was not a party to his crime, to ensure the Craske case would collapse.

When we left the ex-policeman’s story on December 22nd he had just sought a copy of Mr. Chris Loynes’ investigation into Bexley council’s malpractice. Almost needless to say Bexley council refused to give it to him. They had already accepted at Director level that the original Penalty Notice should not have been issued, it was no longer a secret that their procedures were riddled with flaws and non-compliance with the regulations but how that came to pass was considered to be a state secret. No one must have confirmation that Bexley council is run by a bunch of shysters.
Not in Public Interest
“Disclosure of the information you seek would prejudice the Council’s ability to offer an effective public service” or to put it more clearly, if everyone knew what you have found out it will affect our ability to illegally fleece motorists.

Unknown to the retired policeman the whole thing was turning incestuous. Chris Loynes was Deputy Monitoring Officer seeking to protect himself from further scrutiny.
Chris Loynes, Monitoring Officer
The policeman may not have known who was Monitoring Officer but he did recognise a stitch up when he saw one; he reported his concerns to the Information Commissioner.

This story is reported in an indeterminate number of episodes. A cumulative version is provided for convenience.

 

13 January (Part 2) - Hollier than thou

BCMG membersI am going to try my luck at summarising a three centimetre thick Bexley Council Monitoring Group file. It concerns a council meeting I attended last June. As the third to last paragraph of my blog records, at the end of the meeting Mick Barnbrook asked the council monitoring officer Mr. Akin Alabi a question which was answered with a reference to a letter Alabi had sent to central government. I heard him clearly, I wrote about it, it didn’t seem very remarkable. Little did I know!

When Mick asked for a copy under FOI regulations Mr. Alabi didn’t say he couldn’t have it nor did he deny it existed. He just ignored the question. The appropriate government department denied the letter existed and after it was clear he wasn’t going to be able to see the letter, Mick Barnbrook made an official complaint - for fibbing I suppose.

Much to his surprise he was invited to the council to put his complaint in person and John Watson, also of the BCMG and who had been present when Mr. Alabi referred to the letter that didn’t exist, was called as a witness - at a separate meeting.

I was at BCMG’s meeting when they discussed the invitation from the Head of Human Resources. I offered my opinion to the BCMG that it was at worst a trap and at best the council staff would lie and distort the facts. But it wasn’t my show and in the event John Watson did more or less what he was asked and Mick Barnbrook took along Elwyn Bryant as his ‘friend’.

John Watson said he wanted to record the meeting but the council kicked up their usual stink about that. I rather like the HR comment “The Council does not have a policy that allows meetings to be tape recorded. This has been requested by reason of accuracy but is not allowed”. Of course it isn’t, accurate records are the last thing Bexley council wants. So John did not record his meeting, neither did Mick, and that was their undoing.

Council officers took notes and eventually the official minutes of the meeting were provided. They put several unfortunate phrases into Mick Barnbrook’s mouth which he denied and Elwyn, his witness, confirms. I know Elwyn well enough due to the Craske affair to be sure he would let me know on the quiet if Mick had opened his mouth and put his foot in it.

The Head of Human Resources, Nick Hollier, says his records are accurate and implies that is the end of the matter. When asked for copies of the original hand written notes taken by his minions they are all conveniently destroyed. Except for one set, Hollier’s. And they are not a lot of use.
Nick Hollier's notes
Mick has been refused a readable translation so is now in the position of being refused recording facilities and the minutes which he disputes are based on notes which have been destroyed. Apparently he is supposed to accept without question that Hollier’s version of events is the correct one and you can begin to see why Bexley council in general and Human Resources in particular has gone on the record saying “This [recording] has been requested by (sic) reason of accuracy but is not allowed”. Accuracy doesn’t suit them. It wouldn’t suit any professional liar.

And what about the letter that Mr. Akin Alabi said he had sent and didn’t later deny it? Hollier has ruled that Mick Barnbrook made it up, it was all in his imagination or he simply got hold of the wrong end of the stick. Which makes me wonder how it was that I returned from the meeting last year and wrote about Alabi’s letter long before I realised Mick Barnbrook was going to make an issue of it.

Now he is going to make a complaint about the council officers who falsified and destroyed their notes. You can see why he has so many fat files and why they aren’t always suitable for an easy to read blog.

 

13 January (Part 1) - Losing the plot?

BCMGThe Bexley Council Monitoring Group invited me to their meeting last week; the Peter Craske affair was on the Agenda and we needed to coordinate our responses.

As you might imagine Craske is often on their Agenda so me joining them is not a particularly rare event. I go in the hope of picking up some juicy story that I can relate here but the BCMG tend to get stuck into matters far more deeply than I can. I regularly see files more than an inch thick and I look for something short and instantly understandable. Stupidity, dishonesty and criminality being a welcome bonus.

Bexley council has battened down all its hatches and such stories are in short supply and as I reminded the BCMG members only last week when it was suggested I cover the hospital situation “the name of the website is Bexley council is Bonkers”. It’s the same comment a recent Mr. Anon. has been making but he seems to believe I haven’t noticed the way things have been going.

Commenting on the BBC’s ‘Parking Mad’ and my Notomob references Mr. Critical says “I note you haven't watched the programme - so why write about it? There is no mention of Bexley at all!” As if I didn’t know.

The Notomob has a coordinator for Bexley and we exchange information when necessary and he tipped me off about the programme quite a while ago. We both knew that Bexley wasn’t featured but if there was a chance the programme might rejuvenate Notomob it deserves all the support I can give and someone who shelters behind the name ‘Nice Freemason’ (is that significant? Is there any other sort?) shouting “Off Topic” from the sidelines has to be ignored. Councils are the common ‘enemy’ and ‘rules’ take second place to that.

Pichforks and Flaming TorchesSomething else I said at the BCMG meeting is that without Pitchforks and Flaming Torches, Olly Cromwell and Craske’s lunacy, Bonkers might not have survived. I am very aware that more material is desperately required but Bexley council has learned its lessons well. It has closed down almost all avenues to inside information. Fewer meetings, rehearsed sham meetings, no questions, no recordings, too many FOI refusals, no discussion.

Bexley council is not the only London borough regularly criticised by bloggers but it is unique in adopting total ostrich mode. Elsewhere councillors debate issues with critics but I know of two instances in Bexley of an email to all councillors getting a single response. It came from council leader Teresa O’Neill to say she had instructed everyone to say nothing. Führer Teresa Jude O’Neill cannot allow the slightest crack to develop. Too many secrets to keep.

So what is the poor blogger supposed to do? I know from careful monitoring of website statistics that a fall in the number of blogs sees a rapid fall in the number of visitors with no extension to the time spent on site. I know too that numbers rise when the police are criticised and the name Boris Johnson is almost as good. Exploiting that phenomenon is the equivalent of selling newspapers by putting an attractive woman on the front page. I’m thinking Daily Telegraph here. There is no point in publishing anything if the readers aren’t there.

So you get police stories - and justified in a variety of ways. One is that the name Peter Craske links council and police and the latter have proved themselves to be joined at the hip with Bexley council - its hard to see which is the more corrupt where the Craske case is concerned. Another is that policemen who wrecked the Craske case, knowingly perverted the course of justice in my view and about to be reported for such, are part of the same corrupt gang who ensured that a teenager who had his eyesight damaged was denied the satisfaction and justice of seeing his assailant charged. All because the aggressor was a policeman’s friend. That story is not very far off topic.

There is of course a third justification for going off topic. As Mick Barnbrook (see picture, second from right. Click to enlarge it) is fond of saying, “it’s your blog, you do what you like”. If I wreck the thing I wreck it, it’s not the end of the world. Come to think of it it might be a new beginning.

The guy who writes the Barnet blog occasionally wanders off into the music scene, cancer, dyslexia, jokes and occasional comment on national issues and he gets almost the same number of daily hits as Bonkers. Coming here is not compulsory.

Note: The ‘Off Topic’ complainant wrote a perfectly polite message I would happily have answered directly had he not chosen anonymity. It made a valid point but offered no solution.

 

12 January (Part 2) - Something to hide

Keep OutThis business of eleven out of 51 Conservative Bexley councillors being so scared of the electorate, so ashamed of their record in office that they need to be almost anonymous seems very strange to me. I wondered how common the practice is across London.

‘Not very’ seems to be the answer. I have trawled through the Register of Members’ Interests of five more London boroughs, choosing first those that web comments suggest are the least popular, and so far I have found only one councillor outside Bexley who claims a Section 32 exemption under the Localism Bill to hide his address.

On reflection I do not think it is strange at all. Quite obviously genuine justification of the use of Section 32 is going to be extremely rare otherwise we might be seeing policemen permanently stationed outside the average councillor’s house. Section 32 exemption is much more likely to be claimed by dishonest self-servers and petty crooks with a shameful history. In Bexley it is surprising that there are not more recluses.

While trawling the web for information I noted that 31 of the 32 London boroughs had their Register of Interests on line and as it is only a matter of weeks since Bexley began to toe the line one might reasonably assume that Bexley was the second to last London borough to bend to modern democracy. The remaining exception is Croydon whose website announces their Register is withdrawn due to being outdated by the Localism Bill and they will put a replacement back on line within 28 days of the Act becoming law. Another super efficient council. Obviously Will Tuckley left them in good shape.

The Section 32 exemptions checked so far have been tabulated. One day the table will be completed but it’s a tedious job.

Westminster would be well advised to overhaul its Councillors and Democracy pages, I found at least five broken links.
Page not found

 

12 January (Part 1) - Eats, Shoots and Leaves

Apostrophe abuseI confess to being a pedant when it comes to apostrophes. I think I know the rules but errors are not always noticed so I welcome the feedback that comes from two readers in particular who are fellow apostrophe pedants. Yesterday a third source made such a comment - anonymously unfortunately.

His (?) complete unedited message read, “There should not be an apostrophe in ‘its collateral damage’” and I immediately took a look at the offending passage.

(Hang on a mo’, there is a reason for this madness.)

My conclusion was that judging the possibly hurt feelings of a parking adjudicator to be collateral damage and writing “He put himself in the firing line and it is collateral damage” requires an apostrophe. The ‘it is’ is abbreviated so it must become it’s. But then I looked again.

If ‘collateral damage’ is regarded as the consequence of being in the ‘firing line’ the former in effect becomes the possessive of the latter and the apostrophe is redundant. Maybe I should join the Apostrophe Abolition Society - there’s bound to be one - after all. I might have taken the original apostrophe out but then the last few paragraphs would not make any sense, so the apostrophe has to remain. Sorry Mr(s). Anon.

Some readers will be wondering why I am wittering on about grammatical trivia this morning; well the main reason is to upset another anonymous commentator. I seem to have acquired a stalker who complains whenever I wander off in a direction that he/she considers to be off topic. The real topic in his view - and mine - being Bexley’s rotten council.

I wish such people with a valid point to make would have the courage to provide a Reply address and allow a sensible exchange of views. In the circumstances I can only offer a public explanation and a polite reminder that no one is compelled to visit this website. I am amazed, humbled and grateful that so many choose to do so, but no one has to do it and the majority of Bexley residents don’t. Bexley’s dishonest council rules because apathy does.

Please forgive the rambling introduction, the aforesaid explanation will come before too long.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves. © Lynne Truss.

 

11 January (Part 3) - Councillors living in fear of their lives

Teresa O’NeillMaxine FothergillKatie PerriorA reader urged me to check the recent changes to the Register of Members’ Interests and he was right to do so.

Three more councillors have used the Localism Act which the gullible Eric Pickles believed would make local democracy more transparent, to hide their home addresses.

Their names are Teresa Jude O’Neill, Maxine Fothergill and Katie Perrior.

The addresses that have disappeared from view are (O’Neill) 39 Brunswick Road, Bexleyheath, DA6 8EL; (Fothergill) 51 Mayplace Road, Crayford, DA1 4PQ; and 74 Sidcup Hill, Sidcup, DA14 6HY and 14 Hillingdon Road, Barnehurst, DA7 6LW. Both Katie Perrior. A third address for Ms. Perrior is still shown. Pretty good going for someone who wrote to a local paper pleading poverty.

The rotating carousel will be updated as soon as possible. The addresses of public people may be afforded privacy when the same public people stop publishing the addresses of private people on their website.

No Labour councillor refuses to put his/her address in the Register. One even puts it on her Contact page and has survived unmolested by enraged voters.

 

11 January (Part 2) - Notomob reborn

NotomobI’ve not found time to watch the BBC programme Parking Mad yet but I recorded it and it is on i-Player until next Monday. The reviews were universally excellent and best of all, the Notomob forum is once again alive with enthusiastic members, most of them new and attracted by the welcome BBC publicity.

Why Notomob ever had the internal squabble with its most high profile member Nigel Wise beats me. All he did was criticise a PATAS Adjudicator. Adjudicators might not be the principle target for parking protestors but they are bound to be caught up in the crossfire occasionally.

After I asked council yes man Kevin Fox to give me an honest answer for once in his life, Mick Barnbrook didn’t cut me off from his stream of FOI requests for having a go at a council officer instead of useless councillors who are the real objective. He put himself in the firing line and it’s collateral damage. It’s occasionally inevitable.

The Powers Than Be in Notomob didn’t see things that way, but events move on and it would be good to see Notomob active more often wherever they choose to assist the authorities uphold the law.

The Notomob contact details may be found on the Contact menu above. Click image for larger version.

 

11 January (Part 1) - Call 999. End up in the cells

My special delivery letter to the Independent Complaints Commission was signed in during something like the 18th hour of their offices being open after the new year break. Its reference number was in the 400 range. There must be an awful lot of discontent with the police. The IPCC’s letter of acknowledgement tells me it is likely to be allocated to a case worker 26 weeks from now. By the time it is investigated most of the useless policemen mentioned will have retired on generous pensions.

However there appears to be an endless supply of useless policemen.

Until recently there was a drug addicted, fare dodging, shop lifting, death threatening, alcohol fuelled, girlfriend stabbing con man living close to me. Best avoided as you might imagine but not so easy in practice because he knocked on doors at all hours of the day and night demanding money or food items. Most people were able to get rid of him either by giving in or giving him some ‘verbal’. But that isn’t everybody’s style.

One old fellow was scared of him. He is frail and disabled, he cannot walk far or stand up for very long and his house is owned by one of Bexley council’s social housing contractors based at Bexley council’s Thames Innovation Centre. He just about gets around bent over a stick. An easy target for an aggressive drug addict.

When I went to see how the old man was getting on just before Christmas his door was swinging open because the local ‘madman’ had kicked it in when his victim didn’t open it quickly enough.“Did you call the police?” I asked. “Lots of times, but they won’t do anything” he said. He called them so many times (ten he said) that they did eventually do something. They arrested the old fellow for wasting their time, took him away and slung him in the cells. I understand he is due in Bexley Magistrates Court the week after next.

The old man believes, though I haven’t a shred of evidence that it might be true, that the drug addicted door destroyer is an ex-policeman drummed out of the force for some reason. It sounds plausible but I have serious doubts it is true. It would be typical police behaviour though. No wonder the IPCC is getting 200 letters of complaint a day.

Note: Most of the offences listed are known because the perpetrator was careless with his paper recycling. i.e. He left it in the street for anyone to read.

 

10 January (Part 3) - There’s one rule for them…

Eric PicklesI’m not sure whether Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is a very clever man or an idiot. He often appears to come out with all the right words, pushing an apparently democratic agenda, spouting sound bites about transparency and accountability but every time he does so local democracy takes a turn for the worse. If I were to be generous I would say Pickles has no idea just how crooked some councillors can be. The alternative is that people suppression is part of a great big government plot.

The Localism Bill is a prime example. The Standards Board went out the window to be replaced by a council apparatchik whose job it is to rule on councillor malpractice but whose job depends on the whim of councillors. Is he truly independent?

Pickles has several times given guidance on how council meetings should be conducted and Bexley council rejects everything and takes big steps in the opposite direction. Pickles says there is nothing he can do about it and however unreasonable the new rules are the Local Government Ombudsman says that as long as the council doesn’t break those rules they aren’t interested.


BullshitCouncils are literally a law unto themselves. They make up their own and in an emergency Kevin Fox is always there ready to misapply Standing Orders and Protocols to ban petitions and cameras.

Take the question of Bexley council and addresses. Those of residents and those of councillors. Under their protocol they say they are free to publish residents’ addresses on their website but under the Localism Bill councillors may choose to hide theirs.

Chief Executive Will Tuckley when asked why could only say ‘it’s the rules' but offered no explanation.

When asked exactly why eight councillors hide their address and felt able to claim to be at risk if they didn’t, Bexley council refused to elaborate. They claim to know what the risk is but refuse to give any clue as to what it might be.

Council response
Perhaps someone should remind the cretins in charge at Bexley council that publishing residents’ addresses on their website for absolutely no reason breaks down “the relationship of trust and confidence” between the electorate and the people who are supposed to be representing their best interests.

In protest I shall now apply the address carousel which currently adorns the top of the blog pages to every page on Bonkers. All 465 of them. If there is a genuine reason that addresses should be secret maybe someone will react.

 

10 January (Part 2) - They are all in it together

BIDBIDIt’s old news first reported here in May 2011 but Bexleyheath has a shopping manager.

I have no problem with that, the shops there need all the help they can get, what with Bexley council imposing draconian 24/7 restrictions on motorists and setting Parking Zone traps for the unwary. I’m not so sure that he should get a Bexley council address and a reputed £250,000 a year budget to run the show much of which appears to go on salaries.

However what raises the eyebrows a little is that Ian Payne, the manager, is a prominent member of the Tory party whose loyalties lie elsewhere.

Ian Payne is Deputy Mayor of Bromley.
Ian PayneRegister of InterestsI suspect the Jan Payne shown as the Contact name for Bexleyheath Business Improvement District is an error. But you can’t be sure in Bexley, it could be a wife or daughter. Stranger things have happened.

Where else do you get a Director and his Deputy being a married couple and 20% of councillors being married couples (civil partnerships unknown)?

The Head of Human Resources is Nick Hollier and the Highways Manager is Jo Hollier. Who looks after her personnel files?

For councillors and the senior staff the council is a nice little earner.

 

10 January (Part 1) - Where are they now?

Cafe BlancoCafe BlancoThis may be the last mention for Cafe Blanco. It has closed and Twitter comments suggest the owner may have become tired of Bexley. A notice in the window announces the coming of a men’s hairdresser. The only remaining question is whether the new business will be part of the Campbell empire.

Bexley Barbers : Specialising in mens (sic) grooming. Well it wouldn’t be women’s grooming would it, or has the distinction been lost these days?

Click images to enlarge.

 

9 January - Chief Inspector Tony Gowen investigates

Site visitorsVisitor numbers since the New Year have risen noticeably and my suspicion is that crooked policemen have a wider appeal than crooked Bexley councillors. Today I am in danger of confusing new readers by including Chief Inspector Tony Gowen and malpractice in the same paragraph but not in the Peter Craske/obscene blog context. The reason being that the latter is not an isolated instance of very dodgy dealing.


Dave StringerFor today forget about Acting Superintendent Tony Gowen trying to fix the Craske situation at an unjustifiable meeting with Will Tuckley and transfer your attention to Chief Inspector Tony Gowen reinvestigating a crime where once again the principal object appears to be protecting one of their mates from the consequences of their actions. The last blog on that subject ended with the words "God help us” at the thought of Gowen investigating the errors of his colleagues.

Tony Gowen is the officer who couldn’t find the Detective Inspector who issued John Kerlen and me with a Harassment warning and refused to have it withdrawn on the grounds that Will Tuckley had reported us for the Pitchforks and Flaming Torches comment we didn’t make and his word must prevail over us plebs. Fortunately the IPCC saw things differently.

A quick prequel of today’s blog is ‘teenage boy receives life changing injuries due to an attack from behind made under the gaze of a CCTV camera and half a dozen witnesses. Police back track on the investigation when they realise the attacker is the son of a police friend. Evidence turned on its head and statements rewritten so that the victim becomes the attacker thereby ensuring that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board is not interested. It requires a judge to expose the dishonesty which has become the hallmark of Bexleyheath police’. The full story is available here and it features not only Tony Gowen, but his then boss Dave Stringer (pictured), the former CID chief Alison Funnell, famed for contaminating evidence in the Stephen Lawrence case, and numerous CID officers including Steve Underwood mentioned only yesterday for his confusing message about the CPS.

The schoolboy’s father continues his report…


Bexley Police had “messed up” their first investigation of a serious assault, according to Chief Inspector CI1 and the incident would now be “reinvestigated from scratch by a different team”. This different team ended up being the same Inspector DI2 who had been “satisfied” with the first investigation and made false claims about our son ‘striking the first blow’, the Detective Sergeant DS2 who until recently was supervising the obscene blog investigation and regular Constable PC2 (a personal friend of the officer PC1 who “messed up” the first investigation and whose family shared close friends with the attacker’s family).

On meeting us, CI1 quickly promised that he would be “pushing for prosecution”. We were uncomfortable with this apparently premature judgment, as CI1 seemed to know little about the case and to be unaware of the existence of much of the evidence, but perhaps that’s how Bexley Police usually operates.

We gave CI1 a list of our main concerns about the first investigation (see below), but it later appeared that Police did not address these concerns at all in their reinvestigation:


• In the first investigation, our son’s statement was taken in dubious circumstances (see previous posts), and we were concerned that it might be inaccurate. The reinvestigation team re-interviewed our son and he gave them further important information; but although Police took new statements from every other witness, they made no record at all of our son’s re-interview in their reports. DI2 had previously confirmed what was noted in the crime report - that a further victim statement was required as a “priority action” - but now CI1 and PC2 informed us that they did not want our son to make a new statement at all. We were alarmed when CI1 then told us that our son’s original statement was the same as the attacker’s statement, and we gave him a list of several vital differences between our son’s account and the attacker’s statement. We were told that DS2 would phone us back about our concerns, but he never did. We asked if our son could see his statement to check whether it was accurate, but CI1 told us that this was not legally possible (despite him later denying that our son had ever been prevented from seeing his statement). In the end, PC2 reworded our son’s statement on her report to the CPS, showing some important details incorrectly (e.g. stating that our son had claimed he had pushed the attacker off the bench, rather than the other way round) and cutting out other important details entirely (e.g. his claim, supported by medical and eye-witness evidence, that he had been attacked from behind).

• Several of the witness statements were not submitted to the CPS after the first investigation, and again only three of the twelve available statements were noted as being provided after the reinvestigation. We had specifically highlighted the most reliable/CCTV-consistent witness statement, but no record whatsoever was made of this statement in PC2’s post-reinvestigation report to the CPS. In the original report, no note was made of the major contradictions in witness statements given by the attacker’s friends, and (despite requests from us) no such note was made after the re-investigation either. Police were required on the form to consider “witness assessment”, but no witness assessments were noted. CI1 later claimed that he would never challenge witness statements in any case, because he regarded them to be “objective facts”. (The alternative possibility - that the suspect’s friends might lie to help him get off - apparently never crossed CI1’s mind.)

• The attacker’s statement was not submitted to the CPS after the first investigation, and (despite requests from us) there is no note of it being submitted after the re-investigation either. PC2 had noted some of the attacker’s testimony on her report, but had omitted the most significant parts (including his aggressive swearing, the admission that he was motivated by anger, parts of his testimony that were inconsistent with the CCTV footage, his walking over a bench towards our son before coming down and attacking him, and his stranglehold on our son until he was pulled off by eye witnesses) – all of these self-incriminating details had been carefully sanitised out of PC2’s report.

• The medical report detailing the severity of our son’s injuries was not submitted to the CPS after the first investigation, and (despite requests from us) there is no note of it being provided after the re-investigation either.

• DI2 had originally told us that the quality of the CCTV footage was not a problem, as Police could improve it with enhancement software. However, no enhancement software was applied in the reinvestigation, and accordingly DI2 later claimed that the CCTV footage could not be used as evidence due to its “poor quality”.

We requested that the CPS be made aware of all the problems with the evidence from the first investigation, but this does not appear to have happened (despite the original investigating officer PC1 now being under investigation himself for gross misconduct in the case); and the CPS still ended up reporting that they had relied on PC1’s assurances in coming to their decision whether to prosecute (apparently in blissful ignorance of his links to the suspect and the fact that he had “messed up” the first investigation).


So if you were expecting that the Police’s ‘reinvestigation’ would now allow justice to prevail, don’t hold your breath… (more to come)


I can’t wait!

The complete story so far.

Note: The graph above rather unfairly contrasts the week after Christmas with the first week of the new year. Highest peak is 2nd January.

 

8 January - Matters arising

There were some comments about yesterday’s revelation that the police, Bexley council and the CPS have been conniving in secret to ’fix’ the Peter Craske affair. A few were unable to find the email that gave the game away. Partially my fault because I said, click the image, by which I meant the Police Mission Statement immediately below. Later I added the picture of Bexley council leader Teresa O’Neill cosying up to the Police and Crime Commissioner, Boris Johnson, and clicking that did nothing. It does now, click on either image to see Tony Gowen arranging to meet Bexley Chief Executive Will Tuckley who has no more legitimate interest in the subject than for example, the News Shopper editor or Craske’s employer, The Association of British Bookmakers.

By finding that email I seem to have thrown a spanner into the works for the current police investigating team. I was first told that the case would be wrapped up by Christmas, then by New Year and then before the end of last week. A few days ago I made it clear to them that their dirty dealings had become public and maybe that is why I have still heard nothing from them.

Another message from someone with experience of the workings of the Crown Prosecution Service told me “The CPS do not log cases by their own self-allocated case numbers, but by unique reference numbers that are set by the Police at the point at which suspects become formally investigated”.

That doesn’t line up with what DI Steve Underwood wrote on 18th October…


From: Stephen.Underwood@xxx.xxxxxx.uk
Sent: 18 October 2012 12:24
To: elwynbryant@xxxxxxxx.xxx
Subject: Hate Crime Cris 3906909/11

Mr. Bryant,
I appreciate your frustration however I anticipate that the examination of the items will be concluded soon.
The investigation will not receive a CPS case number until the point that the CPS advice is actually sought.
Until then the crime reference number is the only number used.
I will ensure that the officer in the case informs you of the case number as soon as one is obtained.
Thank you.

Steve Underwood

Stephen Underwood | Detective Inspector | Violent and Serious Crime Unit | Bexley Borough


The CPS case number is still unknown. Maybe we have another police fib to contemplate. Can anyone confirm the procedure with CPS reference numbers?

 

7 January (Part 2) - Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa presides over a cesspit of corruption

Will Tuckley
The Met’s Mission Statement includes “catch offenders and support victims”. Fine words but not true. That laudable aim is subservient to looking after their own and occasionally stitching people up. The beaten up schoolboy story is a case in point but it is time I put some documentary evidence on line.

This time it concerns councillor Peter Craske - again.

In July or August 2011 - that’s the year before last - Bexley council assured Bexleyheath police that they had nothing to do with the obscene blog. It wasn’t set up on their computers and no one there had accessed it except the IT department while doing their checks and Will Tuckley who necessarily took a look after I reported it to him. He replied saying he had reported the matter to the police although every FOI designed to elicit a copy of his letter has failed to find it.

The police were wrong to take the council’s word for it, no one but the council would be permitted to pull such a stunt but in the event the council was right. The blog didn’t originate on a council computer, the police had discovered by October 2011 that it came from one connected to councillor Peter Craske’s phone line. Most people will recognise that no one else had the motive.

Eight months went by before the pressure on the police rose to the level they felt obliged to do something about it - or maybe new broom Olisa had an effect. Even then the investigating officer gave three weeks notice that he was about to raid Craske’s house but when they did Craske was arrested.

Teresa and friend BorisCouncil leader Teresa O’Neill would be worried by the developments and it seems entirely possible that she consulted her friend the Police and Crime Commissioner. Conveniently, Boris had assumed that post the month before. The fact that the police have complained of political interference tends to confirm the thought. But I’m not at all sure the police needed much encouragement to bend the rules.

On 18th October 2012 DI Steve Underwood who played a role in the notorious schoolboy saga wrote to Elwyn Bryant who wanted to consult the Crown Prosecution Service to say they were not yet involved. “The investigation will not receive a CPS case number until the point that the CPS advice is actually sought” he said.

I don’t think that is true. The CPS were consorting with Will Tuckley two months earlier. What the hell was it to do with Will Tuckley? The council was neither a suspect nor a victim. Tuckley should have had no more influence on the investigation of this case than a Bonkers reader.

The police were no better than the CPS. They were in cahoots with Tuckley too. On 24th August 2012, Victor Olisa’s deputy, Acting Superintendent Tony Gowen, wrote to Will Tuckley seeking an urgent meeting to discuss how they could “RESOLVE” the Peter Craske “situation”. How could Will Tuckley help the police to resolve it? He knew nothing about it, he had said so and the police knew it was true. Tony Gowen didn’t really mean RESOLVE, the only explanation that makes sense is that he wanted to FIX the situation.

It’s a mystery why the situation wasn’t ‘fixed’. Maybe it is because Gowen and Underwood left the borough’s police soon afterwards and a new team took over.

Without a quick explanation from the police - one has been asked for - I shall be making an allegation of an attempt to pervert the course of justice or misconduct in public office or whatever their crime is. And any doubters that the police and Bexley council have been colluding in this case should click the Met. Mission Statement above. Lucky that email just happened to fall into my hands.

If clicking on the image doesn’t work for you - new web code in use! - please click here instead.

 

7 January (Part 1) - Site changes

There have been a number of site revisions over the weekend - nothing major but…

• The Obscene Blog Timeline has been updated with the most recent developments. Look out for the items headlined in Blue and Pink.

And a couple of things which most readers can safely ignore.

• The blog index pages have been sub-indexed to give quicker access to individual months. This is of no importance for 2013 which has barely started but a look at the 2012 Index may illustrate the general idea. If it doesn’t suit you, don’t use it.
• A few pages may benefit from a dedicated Back Button to return to the previous page. Not a lot of use if you are in the habit of using the browser’s Back Button but it is bigger and possibly more accessible. Few pages can benefit from it because the code allows only a return to the top of a page and not to a specified paragraph. Here is an example to try.
• An additional image display tool has been introduced which will be used where possible and where appropriate. For an example click on the Knee hill photo below.

 

6 January (Part 2) - Listening to you. Working for you. Not

Will TuckleyNo one in Bexley is allowed to pose a formal question to the council unless he is able to agree that his name and address is posted to the council’s website. No one that is except councillors who are not required to publish their addresses anywhere. It is what Bexley council calls democracy and there is absolutely no reason for it.

The council should check that the question is submitted from a Bexley address or the sender is on the electoral roll but publishing the address is an act of spite designed to reduce the amount of questioning. It also puts people at risk. All women with abusive partners hiding in refuges, for example, are disenfranchised by our disgusting council. They don’t care.

Mick Barnbrook decided to put the case that the council’s policy - which the idiot Mayor Alan Downing of Steynton Avenue says is not a policy - puts some residents at risk. He wrote to Chief Executive Will Tuckley seeking “a proper explanation”. Did he get one? Is an answer of this calibre worth paying £258,782 a year for? You be the judge. Will Tuckley replied as follows…


Dear Mr. Barnbrook,
Thank you for your email of 11 December.
The Council's agreed protocol currently requires the names and addresses of individuals submitting public questions to Council meetings to be published in the agenda for the meeting. The protocol will be reviewed and this matter will be considered at a future meeting of the Constitution Review Panel.
Yours sincerely,

Will Tuckley,


The Constitution Review Panel meets only very rarely. The last one was held 21 months ago in April 2011 and was convened solely to see what sanctions could be imposed on residents wanting to know what our crooked council was up to. Apart from imposing the address requirement it banned all forms of recording. There is no meeting scheduled for 2013. Mr. Barnbrook has written back to ask when the matter will be considered.

For the record Mr. Barnbrook’s first letter is appended below at his request.


Dear Mr. Tuckley,
I have been informed that under Section 32B of the Localism Act 2011, councillors who perceive themselves to be under the threat of violence or intimidation are allowed to exempt themselves from putting their addresses in the Register of Member Interests.
Since having my address published on the agenda of a recent council meeting, having submitted a question, I have been the subject of violence to my property on no less than four occasions.
On one occasion I had raw eggs thrown at the front of my property.
On two occasions I had dog faeces spread over my front floor.
On the fourth occasion I had nails placed under the wheels of my car whilst it was parked on my drive.
There are a number of reasons why I might have been the victim of these attacks on my property.
It is well known that I am the complainant against Ian Clements, former Leader of Bexley Council, who was sentenced to a term of imprisonment after being convicted of fraud whilst in the office of Deputy Mayor of London.
I am also the complainant against several Members of Parliament who have either been imprisoned or removed from office for fiddling their expenses.
I cannot prove that these attacks on my property were due to me having had my private address made public by the council, but in order to reduce the possibility of further attacks, I am requesting that I am afforded the same facility as councillors, by having my name exempted from publication on any future occasion I submit a written question.
In a recent response to a question I had submitted for the next council meeting, Kevin Fox has informed me that members of the public have their addresses published in order to show that they are entitled to ask questions in accordance with the council's standing order which requires questioner's addresses to appear in the Register of Electors for the Borough.
Why is it necessary to publish the private addresses of members of the public who submit questions, when Eva Read, on receipt of a question, can check the Register of Electors to verify that the person submitting the question is eligible to do so? If the question is accepted, a rider can be added after the questioner's name on the agenda that the individuals status as a Bexley resident has been verified.
Any attempt to dissuade members of the public from submitting written questions to be read out and answered at a council meeting, by insisting that the question will only be accepted if that person's address is made public, is, in my opinion, a breach of that person's human rights and possibly the Data Protection Act.
Why should a question submitted to be read out at a council meeting be treated differently from a letter asking a question of the council, that is not intended to be read out at a council meeting.
I am also requesting to know why a system that had operated perfectly well for many years without addresses being published, was suddenly changed.
Without a proper explanation, any refusal to grant the exemption to members of the public as well as councillors, would amount to victimisation.
I look forward to your early response in accordance with Bexley Council's protocol relating to the receipt of correspondence.
Yours sincerely,

Michael Barnbrook

 

6 January (Part 1) - Parking Mad

NotomobIf you miss seeing Notomob on the streets of Bexley then you may wish to watch next Tuesday’s BBC1 Programme, ‘Parking Mad’. Unfortunately not filmed on the streets of Bexley and not all about Notomob but they do make an appearance and most likely you will be able to marvel at all the age old tricks employed by councils across the country. It’s on at 10:35 p.m.

BBC web page for ‘Parking Mad’.

 

5 January (Part 2) - ASDA Belvedere

A month ago I pondered the idea of answering some of the more interesting search questions that bring people to this blog. I mentioned a few on 7th December. Today I’ll answer another that is asked several times each week. “When is Belvedere ADSA due to open?”

Maybe not an answer as such because I don’t know but this photo taken yesterday may give a clue. Had the original plan been approved the store was planned to open in 2012 so clearly it is expected that the building stage won’t take long but presumably that will require more than just the two men seen below.
ASDA Belvedere
Picardy Road junction
The plan included revision of the access roads at the developer’s expense and this work is close to completion. The central reservation has been extended to further discourage U-turns. I had expected something rather more imaginative. If traffic should queue from the East (right) expect chaos at the roundabout (situated immediately behind the parked cars on the far right).
Lower Road
The planning documents reveal that at peak times the Picardy Road/Lower Road junction will be close to capacity. Click for report on the planning approval.

I think I shall boycott ASDA. I pre-ordered a DVD box set from them two months ago. They took my money immediately which no reputable supplier does. Then a couple of weeks ago they unilaterally cancelled the order saying their supplier couldn’t supply it. Not surprising, the disc isn’t yet released. Then I discovered that ASDA doesn’t allow email communication in contravention of all the good practice recommendations for on line retailers and their phone staff are incapable of doing anything but reading from a script. They had no concept of what pre-ordering a DVD meant. Never again will ASDA get any money from me.

 

5 January (Part 1) - Steve ‘n’ thievin’

Steven HallUmut NidaiI should probably give up on bad puns and maybe shouldn’t picture councillor Steven Hall alongside a mugshot of Umut Nidai either because Steven is a pleasant sort of guy who I would put money on being as straight as a die and Umut Nidai almost certainly is neither of those things. Nevertheless the two are linked in a rather unfortunate way.

Steven Hall was chairman of the Youth Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour Committee and presented his report last October. He proudly announced that no Bexley resident had been convicted of rioting in August 2011. He was right then but sadly no longer. Umut Nidai has trashed the borough’s unblemished reputation by being convicted of nicking stuff from Richer Sounds in Bromley.

How come he got a suspended sentence for pinching AV gear when a couple of chaps from Manchester were given four years for exchanging Facebook messages about the riot?

Nidai’s house in Lewin Road probably isn’t public housing which is just as well or councillor Katie Perrior would have him thrown on the streets.

 

4 January (Part 2) - Consultation fatigue

I stole a blog from the Sidcup Community Group website on 19th December after the SCG highlighted just how many consultations were going on right now. One was about changes proposed for the police force. I say proposed when of course it’s almost certainly pretty much sewn up already and if it is it will surprise nobody.

Bexley’s Borough Commander has already spoken publicly of the likelihood of senior officers being shared with Bromley and the Bexley consultation is to be held in the Civic Centre at 6 p.m. on 29th January and is scheduled to last for an hour.

What sort of consultation is it that allows no more than a couple of hundred residents from a borough population in excess of 200,000 to be given the low down on police intentions? They probably recognise that apathy is widespread. Very few seem to care about how their money is spent.

You have to register your interest at http://www.london.gov.uk/events/policing-and-crime-consultation-events if you wish to attend the meeting. Better get in quick if you are interested. I registered but have not been sent any form of acknowledgement. Probably I’m banned for suggesting that the problem with the Met. has little to do with how they are organised.
Consultation acknowlegement
Actually I registered again 24 hours later. Still no response.

 

4 January (Part 1) - Another fine mess

There is a story on the News Shopper’s website, and not for the first time, about the amount of dog mess to be found in an alleyway in Barnehurst. The Shopper reports how a Freedom of Information request to Bexley council revealed that no one in the borough was in any way censured by the council for allowing their dog to foul the streets in 2012. Dog mess is not just a threat to your shoes and carpet it is a very serious threat to children’s eyesight. Toxocariasis in dog poo can cause blindness. Allowing dogs to foul public spaces should be firmly trodden on.

Unfortunately there is no one left at the News Shopper with detailed knowledge of the borough going back more than a few months so it doesn’t report why Bexley council turns its own blind eye towards the problem.

If you read the following, attributed to cabinet member for the environment Gareth Bacon in October 2010, you might be hoodwinked into believing that Bexley council takes the issue seriously too.
Bacon's statement
Unfortunately, buried in the small print of the same document is something not entirely compatible with making Bexley “an attractive place to live and work”.
£15,000 cut in dog fouling budget
That’s right; Gareth Bacon made the dog warden redundant and saved £15,000 a year. That’s what the 15 in the table represents. Councillor Bacon would say, and he did, that chasing irresponsible dog owners was not “Value for money” and he was right in the sense that the fines didn’t cover the warden’s wages. The problem with uncaring Conservatism is that it is never able to put a value on the quality of life. A child’s eyesight is not worth paying for according to Gareth Bacon.

Pitchforks and torchesCouncillor Gareth BaconOne warden is not of course a lot of good; it’s not much of a deterrent to the irresponsible. What Bexley council should have done is follow central government guidelines. Everything Bexley residents might want was cut from April 2011 but not of course councillor’s allowances or Will Tuckley’s salary. If Eric Pickles was anything other than a fat windbag and he enforced a 10% cut on councillor’s allowances we could afford to employ six dog wardens. If Will Tuckley wasn’t the sixth highest earning council official in the country and took a 10% cut we could have two more.

If Teresa O’Neill’s sound bite about reducing the number of councillors to two per ward wasn’t an outrageous lie dreamed up for a newspaper headline we could have another 20 dog wardens. One warden might have been barely worth having but an army of 28 would have the streets cleaned up in no time. On the other hand the Bacons would see a small dent in their near hundred grand income from the public purse. And for that any number of kids can go blind.

The News Shopper probably struggled as much as I have for news during the holiday and it is commendable that they didn’t miss either the Boxing Day or 2nd January issues. However the letters editor does rather prove my point that the staff there lack long memories. He publishes a rather weird letter praising the News Shopper to the heavens for its accuracy. I seemed to remember a different slant from the same author and eventually Google turned it up. I hope it amuses you as much as it amused me.


News Shopper letters

 

3 January - Newsreel

The number of site visitors over the holiday was disappointing from a purely numerical standpoint but then unlike Christmas 2011 I took most days off due to family commitments and most readers will have been doing the same. However yesterday made up for it as people got back to work.

2,143 people looked (counting those who returned for another look) at the blog about police corruption in Bexley and 444 of them clicked through to the whole story. It’s hard to get away from what seems to be rather more than incompetence. Tomorrow is the last day for posting a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) about the Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards’ (DPS) six month long enquiry into Bexleyheath’s police initial (June to August 2011) failure to investigate Bexley council’s obscene blog.

Apparently no one slipped up in drawing a blank in spite of the fact that the second investigation located the blog source within weeks. No one was at fault for dismissing the crime report as tit for tat over the harassment issue. According to the DPS I was still under investigation (in July 2011) for the ‘Pitchforks and Flaming Torches’ comment, with the implication I was a bad ‘un up to no good. That's hard to believe as a subsequent IPCC enquiry revealed that Bexley police had realised that no crime had been committed before they issued the harassment warning in April 2011. They issued it only because Bexley council was on their back. The IPCC went on to pronounce the harassment warning totally void. The DPS response faced both ways by using it as an excuse whilst acknowledging the truth of the matter.

It was a difficult letter to write as the case has become so horrendously complex but I managed to avoid use of the word whitewash. It went off in this afternoon’s post. Special Delivery.

In other news
The fitments were removed from Cafe Blanco a few hours after Tuesday’s photographs were taken. Local residents reported the cafe appeared to be well patronised but nothing ever seems to be straight forward about any Campbell related business. Where will they pop up next?

Knee HillKnee Hill was illuminated again last night after it spent Christmas in the dark. I imagine it is expensive to keep street lights on given the exorbitant cost of electricity but it makes Knee Hill, shrouded as it is under a canopy of trees, so much easier to navigate. More than half the lights are on the Greenwich side anyway. Click image for larger view.

Bexleyheath police in the form of a new and communicative Detective Sergeant emailed yesterday about the blog which someone sent up councillor Craske’s phone line. “I am hopeful I will have a result for you this week at some point.” Whether it will be what I would call a result or one engineered by politicians remains to be seen.

This site’s Home page has been updated to include recent police revelations. The old one which speculated about possible political interference may be seen here and the new one which confirms it has been archived here. Another change covers the tracking of the obscene blog to a certain address in Sidcup - as everyone suspected.

 

2 January - The unending corruption among Bexleyheath police

The story of the teenager on the receiving end of an unprovoked life changing assault would be almost unbelievable if it weren’t for the fact that a judge examined all the evidence and came to the conclusion that almost everything Bexleyheath police said was a fabrication and almost everything they did was aimed at getting the culprit off the hook because of his close links to the police.

The Directorate of Professional Standards has said that Bexley police’s failure to track the council’s obscene blog to councillor Craske’s address in a matter of weeks was incompetence but I don’t believe it. Deep seated corruption at every level is the more likely cause. What else would explain an eight month delay between identifying the source of the blog and searching the suspect’s house? What other explanation can there be for the disgraceful turn of events related below by the teenager’s father?


Daily Telegraph reportIn previous weeks, we’ve looked at Bexley Police’s investigation of a serious assault and shown that there was something badly wrong with it. A decision had been made to take ‘no further action’ against the assailant and the case was now closed. It was only when a concerned David Evennett MP contacted the Borough Commander about it that Police decided to review the case for a third time. This review was carried out by DI2 – the Detective Inspector who threatened to bring a criminal prosecution against the owner of this website for ‘harassing’ Bexley councillors.

On concluding his review, DI2 phoned us to report that he had examined the case file in detail and was “satisfied” that his fellow officers had investigated the incident as thoroughly as possible. (Read earlier posts on this case to see whether you agree with his assessment.) Things had gone wrong, he admitted, but it was all the fault of the school where the assault occurred, and he would be making notes to this effect on the case file. We were surprised by this conclusion, as in our experience, the school had handled the incident impeccably.

Bexley Police. Working for youA few days later, David Evennett forwarded us a letter that he had just received from the Detective Chief Inspector DCI1 who was in charge of Bexley CID. DCI1 was an experienced senior officer who had overcome some difficulties during her career, from being part of a team that botched a high-profile murder investigation to being (unsuccessfully) prosecuted herself after some very unpleasant allegations were made about her. However, after the court case against her, DCI1 was transferred to Bexley Police with a promotion to Head of CID, so we had every reason to expect that her response to David Evennett would be well researched and fair.

Imagine our surprise, then, to find that this letter was riddled with basic factual errors far too numerous to mention, inaccurately blaming both the school and our son for the failure to prosecute the attacker. Worst of all, it included a claim about our son ‘striking the first blow’, even though there was nothing in any of the seven witness statements, nor in the statement of the attacker himself, nor in the CCTV footage, about him striking a blow at any point.

Both we and the school wrote to DCI1, identifying these errors, and were even more disappointed not to receive any apology or acknowledgment from her whatsoever. (Please note that it was not the whole of Bexley CID that was implicated in these flawed investigations and reviews – just one Constable (PC1), one Detective Constable (DC1), one Detective Sergeant (DS1), the Head of CID (DCI1) and her two most senior deputies (DI1 and DI2)).

The school was extremely unhappy at how the matter had been handled, and further complaint resulted in the involvement in the case of Bexley’s second most senior officer CI1 (the Chief Inspector who mistakenly indicated to the press that criminal charges had been brought due to abuse of councillors on the Bonkers website).

According to the school, CI1 advised that he was not allowed to let us have any information on the case for a year (even though it appears that no such time limit exists under the law), and warned that our son might not wish to pursue the matter any further, because it was a very serious and would involve him appearing in court before a jury and lawyers, and that the attacker had a “good” lawyer who had helped him prepare “a well written statement” (even though the only statement from the attacker mentioned on the prosecutor’s report was one that he had made before he had spoken to his solicitor).

It was only after Police learnt that we did not buy the idea that the case was too serious to be properly investigated, and that our son and the school were not going to be demoralised and intimidated into dropping the matter, that the Borough Commander asked CI1 to launch a “full review” of the case that would involve reinvestigating the incident from scratch.

Next we’ll see if the investigation was handled properly now that CI1 was in charge…


I think I can now begin to decode the police references. DI2 must be Detective Inspector Keith Marshall. DCI1 must be Detective Chief Inspector Alison Funnell. There was no other high ranking female CID officer at Bexleyheath police station who had helped to foul up the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation. CI1 has to be Chief Inspector Tony Gowen. With him in charge I feel the urge to utter the words “God help us”.

The complete story so far.

 

1 January (Part 2) - Done a runner

Cafe BlancoCafe Blanco interiorToday is much like New Year’s Day 2012. The main east/west cross borough route is still in turmoil for one reason or another and true to form Clan Campbell appears to have moved on from another dodgy business.

Last year holiday makers at a villa on Tenerife were complaining that their deposits had gone missing and Bexley Barbers, the Black Horse pub in Bean and The Plough in Northfleet all came under the same malign influences to varying degrees. The Black Horse Inn in Sidcup had a narrow escape.

In Bexley village the cab company is still in business without planning permission but the cafe which was provided with a free advert courtesy of a News Shopper Star Letter written by a wannabe councillor and where two young girls had so much difficulty in getting paid seems to have gone. There has been no sign of life for the past three weeks and the interior lies almost derelict. Good riddance some might say but never forget that it is the Godfather of Clan Campbell who is Mr. Moneybags at Bexley council.

Councillor Colin Campbell is deputy council leader and it is he who always delivers any cabinet report on finance. Worrying when you consider the ethics applied to other family ventures. But perhaps good news is around the corner. He has sold his house. Will Campbell decamp too?

 

1 January (Part 1) - Highway robbery

Restricted Parking ZoneBroadway robberyIn the 52 years since British motorists were first confronted by double yellow lines we have all learned the rule of thumb. Double yellow - go away. Single yellow - look for the restriction notices. No lines - you’re OK.

But not in Bexley any more, the council has set a trap. If you see a parking space in Bexleyheath Broadway and think your luck is in - go to Bluewater instead, it’s cheaper.

Soon the Broadway shops will be empty anyway if this incident with a delivery lorry is anything to go by. No loading is allowed. Note the blue clad gestapo man sticking a ticket on the windscreen while the unsuspecting driver tries to earn a living.

After yesterday’s Bonkers Man of the Year award I received a complaint that it should have gone to the loons who plan Bexley’s roads. It’s a good point, they tend to hog the limelight almost every week.

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