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Local news reporting has changed a lot over the past year. It used to be a
priority for me to log on to the News Shopper website on a Wednesday morning but since
their move to Sutton it has not usually been worth the effort. I am not very
interested in a Bexley edition front page which carries news from Dartford,
Greenwich, Greenhithe, a crime that took place in Newham or a choir from Lewisham.
You have to go back to mid-November before you find the front page of the local
newspaper carrying a Bexley story. Sacrilege I know but sometimes my copy has
gone into the bin within a minute of getting hold of a copy.
BiB has been struggling too since the new Chief Executive decided that her highest priority job was for the Council to blank Bonkers whenever it could.
She took away the Press Desk, put up barriers in the Council chamber, asked Councillors not to speak to me and, so a Councillor told me, threatened employees who extended a friendly hand.
They don’t have many meetings either. They cancelled the last Council meeting of any note on 13th December and there won’t be another until 23rd January. The last time you read a Council meeting report on Bonkers was 10th December so we will have gone more than six weeks with nothing much going on in public.
I was thinking that I might have to get into reporting the odd bit of non-Council related news on these pages when a story dropped straight into my lap.
On my way into Abbey Wood station at 12:30 for today’s Crossrail photo mission the police car and Network Rail’s Response Unit outside grabbed my attention.
On the platform I caught the tail end of some sort of emergency meeting and I asked what was going on. The story varied slightly between the naturally cautious Network Rail and Balfour Beatty staff and those who claimed to have witnessed the event.
What isn’t in dispute is that someone broke into the Crossrail site just after midday from Abbey Terrace (see Photo 3) and either climbed the fence or slipped past the guard, scrambled on to the platform and then jumped down in front of a Dartford bound train.
According to the witness he stood there waving his arms while the approaching train driver sounded his horn and presumably slammed on the brakes.
If it was a suicide attempt, the man lost his nerve but if it was an idiot scaring the life out of railway staff, he held it to the last few seconds because he then jumped into the Crossrail works site and scarpered into Mottisfont Road.
I was told that at least one of the railway company’s staff was shaking with the shock of seeing it. I am not surprised.
As I left the station I could see half a dozen officials in the office watching the CCTV footage.