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Former Head of a corrupt police force

Bonkers Blog June 2017

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Sidcup Place

27 June (Part 2) - Joseph Goebbels would be proud

I couldn’t name a single nationally known politician who I do not look upon with contempt at the present time. The Conservatives have misjudged practically everything and the top bods in Labour are beyond contempt. Corbyn at Glastonbury was far too reminiscent of another country in the 1930s, whipping up hysteria and adulation in equal measure while planning to lead his country to total disaster instead of the partial one the Conservatives have created.

The Tories must have noticed that Jeremy Corbyn and his Marxist acolytes achieved their present position in part by a campaign of misinformation, unaffordable promises and half truths on social media because locally at least, the Conservatives have adopted exactly the same tactics, mindful that the 2018 local elections are approaching, and I do not like liars of any political hue.

Councillor Peter Craske’s lying about the number of parks in Bexley has already been mentioned, ditto his claims on library usage but things have accelerated over the past week.

Following on from the outrageous suggestion that it was Labour who wanted to switch off Bexley’s street lights and that the Conservatives were spending more on parks when the truth is that they are spending less than ever before, they regurgitated the old chestnut about Labour raising Council Tax massively when they were in office.

In four years Labour jacked it up by 40%. 17·5%, 7·5%, 4·9% and 5·8% which allowing for compound interest is 40%.

TaxI was pretty annoyed by it and wrote to the then Council Leader Chris Ball to tell him what I thought of him.

What the Conservatives are not now telling us is that they were whacking up Council Tax before Labour took over. In the eight years to 1999 the increases took Bexley from within £1 of having the third lowest tax rate in London to 15th place. In the four years before the Labour takeover, the Conservatives raised Council Tax by another 25%.

Labour may have been naive to give the Tories such potent ammunition but the Tories happily spent it all and raised taxes by another 9% in their next three years of office.

Beware of Bexley Conservative’s selective recollections.

Here’s another carefully selected Twitter statement.

Slade GreenFor this one Conservative spin doctors have had to go back six years.

It is true that Labour members voted against the £8 million investment because local residents had petitioned against it and obtained 2,280 signatures. The actual figure was kept secret but it was believed that Bexley Council had sold off the Howbury Centre in Slade Green to Redrow Homes for £14 million and reinvesting not much more than half of it in the same area was seen as a poor deal.

It was the Conservative Group that was going against the will of the people, not Labour as they now seek to imply.

Nothing is what it seems in Tory Bexley.

 

27 June (Part 1) - Peter’s pseudo paddling pool. Completion close

There is no getting away from the fact that Cabinet Member Peter Craske cracked the whip with his Splash Park replacement. It remains to be seen if the little ones enjoy Belvedere Beach as much as they did the Splash Park but Bexley Council is on course to complete the project in little more than one tenth of the time they have wasted on Lesnes Abbey park.

No discernible progress in several months, the monks probably built their Abbey quicker. It is three years since work on that project commenced.
Beach Beach Beach Beach

 

26 June - Gas bags on parade

MarketThere’s not a lot of point going to Bexley’s Civic Parade any more. It used to be the only opportunity to get photographs to illustrate blogs but thanks to Sir Eric Pickles’ law changes that is no longer a problem, in any case I was knackered after a day of DIY in East Ham and Brian Barnett (@thamesmeadnews) can usually be replied upon to send me pictures.

This year he provided a choice of 64 covering every aspect of the event. I counted only eleven councillors among the many faces pictured. Perhaps the others don’t see any point in going either.

Instead of taking one of the slow meandering buses from Abbey Wood to Bexleyheath I summoned up enough energy to take a look at the Abbey Wood Community Market held in the pub next to the new station. I had been assured that local shops were to be represented there. If any were they were well hidden.

As is often the case the event was aimed at families, females and children wishing to buy clothes or have their faces painted. Old men are difficult customers, I must have been there for all of sixty seconds.

Bexley Bexley Bexley Bexley

 

25 June - Croydon, Bexley, Tower Hamlets, Sutton. Poor decisions everywhere

After two consecutive blogs on police matters why not make it three?

VandalismOne of the two Bexley former Borough Police Commanders under investigation for the alleged conspiracy with Bexley Council following the obscenities generated on Councillor Craske’s phone line is Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer. (A third is under investigation for a different reason.)

He came to Bexley from Croydon, stayed two years and went to Tower Hamlets taking some of his colleagues with him at least one of whom is also under investigation by the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS).

By all accounts his term in Tower Hamlets was blighted by more Council corruption and he was shunted off to Sutton last year.

Someone else shunted off to Sutton at about the time was Andrew Parkes the editor of the News Shopper. His whole outfit was bundled out of their Petts Wood offices to the detriment of the local newspaper scene. His newspaper is now more London Regional than Local. The local edition is too often of little interest to Bexley residents.


EditorialThis week’s Bexley edition of the News Shopper includes an Editorial which might puzzle Bexley residents because it is based on something that happened many miles away.

At the beginning of June, Andrew published a brief report including the image shown above, of vandalism inflicted on the Sutton Islamic Centre. It was a perfectly straightforward news report including a comment by an Imam. Nothing that we don’t see in our newspapers far too often these days.

However it attracted the attention of the politically correct Sutton fuzz.

They said that Mr. Parkes’ newspaper, or more specifically its on-line comments section, was “creating a platform for racial hatred”.

The Editor is sticking up for journalistic freedom and as yet he has not been charged with inciting racial hatred.

Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer has form for politically correct interventions. When I met him in his office in 2012 I was warned off of referring to the Leader of Bexley Council as the Fat Controller.

If the DPS comes up trumps with their investigation into the allegation of a conspiracy in Bexley in which CS Stringer was a leading player, maybe Andrew Parkes will be interested in covering his downfall. His newspapers have not taken any interest in the less savoury aspects of Bexley Council and the police since their reporter Linda Piper retired.

 

24 June - Perhaps the dozen Bexley cops under investigation can be increased to 13

It is exactly six months since I sent a formal complaint to Bexley police alleging that they were either incompetent or corrupt.

They had acted on the instructions of Councillor Don Massey and sent three officers to my front door (one stayed in their car) demanding an interview (and threatening arrest for any resistance) for publishing what they said was a photograph of the Massey’s daughter Victoria. One of the police officers told me that the complaint was made by Victoria Massey although subsequent correspondence indicated that was not true.

I had taken the advice of an experienced and university qualified journalist before publishing that photograph and was told that as it had been made freely available on the internet by its owner there was no reason not to. I decided to blur it although I was specifically advised there was absolutely no need to do so.

If you read the original blog reproduced below, you will see that most of it was a criticism of the police over their handling of a complaint by the Massey’s unfortunate next door neighbour in Sidcup. When she made a late night call to the police about the unrelenting noise coming yet again from the Massey’s rented house they volunteered to pay a visit. A few days later, and after her story was published here, it was that neighbour who found herself the subject of a harassment investigation and not the Masseys.

HarassmentNothing much has happened since the police harassed the family living next door to Councillor Massey’s rented house in Sidcup. The householder had previously asked the police for advice on a noisy all night party at the Massey’s place. As a result of what the police could hear down the phone, they decided to pay a visit.

With the complainant’s consent the story was reported here and it seems reasonable to assume that the police were asked to get heavy. Who do you think might indulge in such revenge?

Police procedures are clear enough; those accused of harassment must be told exactly what they are accused of so that they have every opportunity to modify their behaviour. The falsely accused neighbour asked Bexley police for a copy of the complaint against them. They were made to fill in a request form three weeks ago and told they’d get a copy of the complaint against them within a couple of days.

They are still waiting and the latest advice is that it will take 40 days to provide a copy of the complaint the Massey’s were said to have made against their long-suffering neighbour.

All is now becoming clear. A properly executed Harassment warning requires the issue of a Form 9993 and a written statement of what the alleged offence is. How else is the accused supposed to know what the problem is?

No such form has been issued. It looks likely that someone reminded the police that their first duty is to protect Bexley Council and suggested the frighteners should be put on an innocent resident. This is how Bexley police has operated in the past although I had hoped they had learned their lesson.

The 40 days is the period allowed for a Subject Access Request to be made under the Data Protection Act. If no Form 9993 was issued Bexley Police will be hard pressed to come up with any reason for putting the screws on the Massey’s neighbour. If they cannot provide evidence that the Massey’s made a formal complaint, albeit a malicious one, and there was nothing more than a word in a receptive ear, it will become clear that Borough Commander Jeff Boothe’s force is still in the business of jumping to Bexley Council’s tune. The case will inevitably go to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

It took seven months for the police to decide what was obvious all along, that my blog was not a criminal harassment of any member of the Massey family.

My complaint against Bexley police is based on the assurance I was given by the professional journalist that what has been repeated above does not get within a million miles of being harassment and neither did an earlier blog revealing that the Massey’s care services business had failed and their principal residence was in Rochester. Both facts had been put in the public domain by the Masseys, on the Companies House website, on Facebook and by changes made to their Council Register of Interests.

Had the blog been anywhere near being harassment I might understand why a police investigation would be required and I asked the police to either prove to me that I was close to breaking the law or admit that they merely jumped because Councillor Don Massey told them to.

As yet, six months on from my complaint, Bexley police has failed to do either.

The alternatives appear to be that they admit to having yet again taken orders from Bexley Council without any justification in law, in which case I will not take the matter further in the expectation they never do it again, or they attempt to make out a case that the blog came close to breaching the law, in which case the matter will take the familiar path which has already led to twelve Bexley police officers being interviewed under caution because they cannot resist doing favours for the rotten elements within Bexley Council.

 

23 June - A dozen Bexley cops will now wish they had said no to Bexley Council

If you asked what the purpose of BiB is, one of several answers would be to convince Bexley police that it is not worth risking their jobs and pensions by conspiring with Bexley Council to offer protection against the consequences of their criminal activities, and thereby free Council critics from illegal persecution.

The fact that eight Bexley police officers (and former officers) have been belatedly interviewed under caution for their reluctance to properly investigate the obscenities which flowed from Cabinet Member Peter Craske’s phone line in 2011 suggests that some progress might have been made. On the other hand their jumping to Cabinet Member Don Massey’s command only a year ago might indicate there is a way to go yet.

Today I am pleased to be able to report that the number of Bexley officers (or former officers) potentially in big trouble has increased from eight to twelve.

ExcludedThe increase is not in connection with the Craske blogging case or the Massey’s imagined harassment, It follows on from Councillor Cheryl Bacon’s illegal exclusion of the public from a Scrutiny meeting.

Bexley liesTo be more accurate it relates to the lies that followed that incident.

Probably you believed that criminal investigation was over and done with. Greenwich police considered Bexley Council’s lies sufficiently serious to send a fat file to the Crown Prosecution Service. After 14 months I was led to believe that the CPS stripped vital evidence from the file before sending it to an independent barrister for consideration.

Without the supporting evidence the case against Bacon and Will Tuckley, the former Chief Executive, became a her word against mine argument and the CPS decided on that basis that the case was not strong enough to charge Bacon.


Police statementHowever you may have forgotten that immediately after Cheryl Bacon’s exclusion of the public the police’s version of events corresponded most closely with mine and not Cheryl Bacon’s. In fact at that time even the report by Bexley’s Deputy Director Paul Moore corresponded more closely to my account than Cheryl Bacon’s.

Statement

All lies, as several Councillors present confirmed. Only Mr. Dowling said anything while the meeting was in progress.

As the months went by and the evidence against Bexley Council built up those early reports represented a big weakness in the Council’s position. To counter that embarrassment Bexley Council appears to have asked Bexley police to rewrite their report.

When Mick Barnbrook and I managed to get hold of the two conflicting versions he made a formal complaint to Bexley police. Their response merely muddied the waters further so Mick escalated the complaint to the Commissioner.

The police did nothing with it for about two years and Mick accepted that they would most likely be awaiting the outcome of Greenwich police’s associated investigation and reference to the CPS.

When that case fell apart the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) told Mick Barnbrook that no police officer had done anything wrong. Their letter was so carelessly written that it was obvious that there had been no comparison of the two conflicting police accounts of what took place at Cheryl Bacon’s meeting, nor had anyone called for the evidence against her collected by Greenwich police. It included evidence from four Bexley Councillors which strongly indicated that Councillor Cheryl Bacon’s statement was false from beginning to end.

AylingMick sent his evidence to the Independent Police Complaints Commission which instructed the Met to call for the evidence from Greenwich and conduct a proper investigation. The Met DPS refused and had to be told again. This time they fell silent for months on end; until this week that is.

Someone at the DPS has taken the time to wade through the papers and come to the conclusion that there are serious questions to be answered. Four officers are to be interviewed under caution, including the Borough Commander.

So that makes three successive Bexley Borough Commanders under investigation, suspected of aiding and abetting Bexley Council’s criminal activities.

Why any of them feel a bent Councillor is worthy of protection I have no idea. I thought the days of free dinners for top cops disappeared when Conservative Council Leader Ian Clement took his bad habits to County Hall, but maybe I am mistaken.

 

22 June (Part 2) - Bexley, a Council built on lies

What would I do without a constant supply of lies from Bexley’s Tory Council?

Bonkers began when the Council’s Chief Road Engineer Andrew Bashford told me that Abbey Road in Belvedere was modified (that is made dangerous) in accordance with a Transport Research Laboratory report, a report my own son had had a hand in writing and who told me that Andrew Bashford must have simply invented the story. Why is Bashford still employed by Bexley Council?

The lies continued with the Leader, on the back of Hugh Neal’s infamous Pitchforks and Flaming Torches comment, telling her police protectors that I, not Hugh, planned to burn down the the Town Hall.

Then we had, in all probability, Councillor Peter Craske, blogging nonsense that Elwyn Bryant and I engaged in homosexual acts on Council property and Councillor Cheryl Bacon made up a story that I and others had rampaged around the Council Chamber. I managed to get ten written statements from those present that I hadn’t moved and been totally silent throughout. Cheryl Bacon did not manage to find anyone at all to support her fantasy.

Without Bexley Council and Bexley Conservative’s lies Bexley is Bonkers would not exist but the lesson has yet to be learned and Tory lies continue almost daily. Twitter is gaining popularity as the vehicle of choice. Yesterday Bexley Conservatives were at it again.

LiesTheir message was that any claim that Bexley was planning to switch off its street lights at or around midnight were all made up and the changeover to lighting by LED has saved £300,000.

The switch off plan was most definitely not “all made up”, it was among many official budget plans put forward by the Conservative administration.

Below is an extract from the January 2015 Cabinet Meeting Agenda. It says that a mix of LED lighting, part time lighting and switching off some street lights permanently and removing the columns would by this year save £305,000 annually.

A trial in Welling did not go down too well with the public and it is to Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer’s credit that he abandoned the idea and went along with the conversion from Sodium to LED lighting only.

But even Alex Sawyer is not entirely truthful. He claims that the initiative is making Bexley a brighter and safer place to live. Obviously he cannot have read the lamp specifications.

The sodium lamps were rated at 18,000 Lumens and the LEDs are a relatively dim 8,800. Pretty much everything Bexley Council says is a lie.

The Conservatives are still claiming there will be a £300,000 saving but that is almost certainly another lie too. The estimate was based on removing some lights altogether and except along main roads, turning the others off by 11 p.m. - subsequently deferred until after midnight following protests.

It is very unlikely that those savings could be achieved by implementing only half of the plan; it hasn’t stopped the Conservatives claiming otherwise though.

Lies
LiesYou might be forgiven for thinking that one big lie would be enough for one day but you would be mistaken.

In a follow up Tweet Bexley Conservatives claimed that they have pumped an extra £90,000 into park maintenance. Maybe they did, but only after they discovered the £230,000 they had taken away was too much and the dereliction evident in parks everywhere was only too obvious to every member of the voting public.

Bexley Conservatives are not only consummate liars but as close as one can be to being cheap crooks and not be incarcerated in a police cell.

I am still hopeful that one day we may be able to put that right.

Lies

 

22 June (Part 1) - The Beach Bum who denies that Bexley has a fly tipping problem

Whenever pictures of Bexley’s fly tipping problem appear on Bonkers reports come in of more. Unfortunately it is rare for them to be accompanied by photographs and sometimes there is not even a precise address. However here are a few that arrived within the past 24 hours

Rubbish Rubbish RubbishThe first three were taken near to Welling railway station…


Rubbish Rubbish Rubbish…and the second set is from Bexleyheath.

The man who denies there is a fly tipping problem was busy elsewhere yesterday, enjoying the sunshine in Belvedere on the site of the so called Belvedere Beach. Click here for Press Release.

In addition to Cabinet Member for Leisure Peter Craske, Councillors John Fuller and Philip Read were there too to share the glory while local Labour Councillors Daniel Francis, Seán Newman and Gill MacDonald were excluded.

It did not take Philip Read long to suggest on Twitter that Labour Councillors were against building the new play facility on the site of the old Splash Park. They voted for it.

 

21 June - Much improved rail station coming to Abbey Wood but worse train service

The penultimate meeting of the Crossrail Liaison Panel which took place yesterday evening was the usual mixture of interesting facts and smattering of silly questions from those who weren’t paying attention at the previous meeting.

First the facts which are mainly good news.

The station is still on course for a 22nd October opening and there will be only six more weekend rail closures this year. Four of them will be for one day only, Sundays 9th July, 3rd/17th September and 15th October. Finally 25th/26th November and 2nd/3rd December to remove the by then redundant footbridge. (From the temporary booking hall to the North Kent platform.)

A ‘practice’ open day may be held in the week preceding the official opening.

The ‘disabled’ ramps on the Church Manorway and Bostall Manorway footbridges should be opened by mid-August. Bostall will be handed over to Greenwich Council and Church Manorway will be retained as Network Rail infrastructure.

The station Public Address system will be further modified to attempt to accommodate the persistent noise complaints. The volume will be reduced by 35% at 7 p.m. each day and announcements switched off at 10. I had always understood that for a volume change to be readily noticed it had to be halved or doubled, however a promise to reduce ‘unnecessary’ announcements may be helpful.

Funds are available and suitable plans approved to solve the severe garden flooding problem but so far only two property owners have granted permission for the work to be carried out. Greenwich Council officers who claimed more experience in negotiating with property owners offered their assistance.

Mottisfont Road which was inconveniently closed for such a long time has been reopened but discussions over the fire escape at St. Benet’s Church are still continuing.

Tiffany Lynch from Bexley Council took a straw poll at the March meeting to judge the reaction to demolishing the 40 year old stairs from Gayton Road to the flyover. Pretty much everyone was in favour, however she said that demolition was far more expensive than renovation so they are going to stay.

The overhead train power supply is scheduled to be switched on on 1st October.

TfL will begin their consultations on buses to serve Crossrail within the next couple of weeks. (That’s exactly the same message given at the previous meeting three months ago.)

The proposals include the 180 being extended to the Quarry development in Fraser Road, Erith and the 469 diverted to provide a direct to Crossrail service for Upper Belvedere.

A new route 129 will link Thamesmead directly to Woolwich’s Crossrail station and a single deck 301 will connect Bexleyheath and Abbey Wood for the Elizabeth Line via Woolwich Road, Long Lane and Knee Hill which might put an end to the occasionally hour or more journey to Bexleyheath on the 229.

There were some comments about a single deck bus on Knee Hill but more than one panel member pointed out that ‘Not in Service’ double deck buses use it quite often and easing a pinch point near the summit would help enormously. New Road is already a problem for B11s due to parking and routing the 469 and 301 that way could only add to the danger. Probably Bexley Council will be looking for an excuse to restrict parking further.

At every Liaison Panel meeting since the first in December 2014 Network Rail staff have described the new station layout and provided illustrations but yesterday’s meeting showed that some panel members still fail to fully understand.

Starting from the western end there will be a footbridge to allow passengers to interchange between the North Kent and Elizabeth line. It will not provide any exit or entrance facility.

The central footbridge will serve the same purpose with the addition of one escalator to each platform which will reverse according to passenger flow patterns.

The only exit from the platforms will be at the Eastern end via stairs or lift, one each for each platform. Once past the barriers stairs and two lifts will provide access to ground level both to Gayton (south side) and Felixstowe (north side) Roads. That’s four lifts open 24 hours a day and not requiring a train ticket for use.

There will also be a footpath on the flyover in both a northerly and southerly direction. Bexley Council show very little sign of getting that facility ready in time. Nothing happens there most days.

When Crossrail services begin in December 2018 an additional ground level access will be provided between Felixstowe Road and the Elizabeth Line platform only. It will go behind the buffers of the terminating track.

Some panel members were unhappy about the various access arrangements. Apparently the mid-platform escalators should be replaced with lifts to allow wheelchair access. Try applying that across the Underground system and see what happens.

Lifts have a far lower people moving capacity than escalators and will be essential during peak hours which is why Network Rail chose them. In my opinion there should be two where the existing stairs are and stairs where the single escalator will be.

The 200 metre long platforms are too long for wheelchair users who find themselves alighting at the ‘wrong’ end of the train. Well get on a more convenient carriage then or wheel along the inside of the open plan train during the journey. How can Network Rail be expected to solve that problem? Run shorter trains perhaps.

Another fear I have heard at previous panel meetings is what happens if the station building catches fire? “There will be no way out for passengers still on the platform.”

No way out perhaps but two 200 metre platforms will serve as a safe assembly point and if the very worst happens the trains would obviously be driven away and there is no current at track level on the Elizabeth line.

There was also the traditional and seemingly inevitable complaint that the temporary bus stops are in the wrong place. Currently there is definitely no alternative.

ThameslinkIf you are wondering what today’s picture is all about…

It was taken three weeks ago on Abbey Wood station and I think the diamond shaped ‘ALL’ sign is something to do with ThamesLink trains. The service to Luton which will replace the more useful one to Blackheath, Lewisham, (for King’s College Hospital) and Waterloo.

There was a consultation about the loss of North Kent’s Charing Cross service but unlike the threatened loss of Victoria services from elsewhere in the borough which was supported by all three MPs, it received little publicity.

It looks like a fait accompli now.

 

20 June - Beautiful Bexley. A burning issue?

Three days with no new comment on BiB and the enquiries begin. The fact is there’s not been any Council stuff to report and I have found it too hot to make extra trips out looking for it.

I made a tentative start on installing CCTV in the 97 year old’s house in East Ham so at the very least she will be able to see who is at her front door before flinging it wide open to all and sundry and somehow or other I have been caught up in providing a local business with a website.

From a reader in Welling comes some pictures of its car park which Bexley Council has allowed to become a rubbish dump.

Litter Litter LitterThe accompanying report says that the containers have not been emptied for a very long time and as the car park (behind The Nagg’s Head public house) is used as the coach drop off point for foreign exchange children it will be giving them an interesting perspective on the dirty hole that the budget cuts have caused Bexley to become.

Another correspondent is concerned about how no longer conducting building inspections must be a contributory factor to fires in poorly constructed shacks such as those pictured in Newham.

We will no doubt find out if it is after someone has died as a result.

 

16 June (Part 3) - Didn’t he do well?

Immediately after last week’s election I listened to the local Labour people bandying around so many impressive statistics that one might have thought they had won.

Their skill with the mental arithmetic was far and away in advance of their Shadow Home Secretary’s and I asked if they could shoot the basics across to me for a weekend feature - last weekend that is.

Maybe they were in no hurry to cease the celebrations because the numbers did not immediately materialise but it was clear from the overall result that theirs was a very good one.
Election Results
As you can see, in all three Bexley seats the Labour candidate increased their share of the vote more than the Conservative candidate. UKIP beat the Lib Dems in all three too.

Old Bexley ResultsCouncillor Danny Hackett (with his agent Councillor Daniel Francis) did particularly well in Old Bexley & Sidcup and kindly supplied some historical data.

His 14,079 votes exceeds anything Labour achieved there since the Blair landslide in 1997. The prospect of what I had seen as a probable wipe out of Labour at the Bexley Council elections in May 2018 now seems to be a distant memory.

I have no time whatever for the Labour party nationally. Their leadership organising a protest tomorrow to try to reverse last week’s result represents everything I dislike about the Labour party but I do not know of any Bexley Labour politician who thinks that is a good idea, least of all strongly Blairite Danny Hackett.

Recent conversations with him and some of his colleagues reveal that they have no wish to whack up Council Tax as they did in 2006 and given the dishonest shower that currently runs this borough I would not be averse to seeing big changes in 2018.

I’m still hoping that a five year old police investigation into corruption in Bexley will result in some embarrassing submissions to the Crown Prosecution Service in the weeks leading up to the next election. It’s definitely not beyond the bounds of possibiity.

 

16 June (Part 2) - How many old tower blocks are there in Bexleyheath and Sidcup?

It is reported on a local Conservative website that Bexley Councillor Teresa O’Neill has met the two Conservative MPs for Old Bexley & Sidcup and Bexleyheath & Crayford to discuss among other things the horrific fire in Kensington.

It appears to have escaped her attention that the only old tower block in the borough that has been externally cladded to improve its appearance and thermal efficiency is in Thamesmead.

I heard at first hand the Director of Peabody Housing say that he regards the renovation done by its predecessor company, Gallions, to be unsatisfactory; in what way he did not state in any detail.

Teresa O’Neill should be busy meeting the MP for Erith & Thamesmead and liaising closely with Peabody people so that she can hopefully reassure tower block occupants rather than grandstanding with the two Conservative MPs from the south. Maybe she has but if so, making political capital has taken precedence. Where’s the Press Release to set out current fire risks in the borough’s potentially vulnerable properties?

Bexley Council’s web page doesn’t do much to ally any fears there might be.

 

16 June (Part 1) - They are just pants

PantsThe latest Bexley Council Press Release tells of the pressure the Council is placing on Transport for London to improve the Borough’s poor transport links and put behind it the years wasted on resisting improvements, river crossings in particular.

The Press Release was notable for the inclusion of a photograph of the group which met yesterday to exchange ideas and in particular the spectacular outfit worn by Cabinet Member for Transport, Alex Sawyer, who achieved recent notoriety in the national press for trousering large sums of money.

Alex’s trousers were the subject of many Twitter jokes by his Councillor colleagues but they should be thankful that Alex is in charge of transport and the role no longer lies with Councillor Craske. His pants might have spontaneously combusted.

 

15 June - Fake News

I probably shouldn’t admit to it but I spend more time reading Twitter than I do watching TV, I simply fell out of the habit of telly watching and I haven’t watched any programme regularly for two or more years.

Local Twitter postings are definitely more relevant to my ‘Bonkers’ interests but I try to resist the temptation to be directly involved. The occasional Like but not too often anything more.

I’ve followed an interesting Twitter conversation between Councillors Danny Hackett (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) and John Davey (Conservative, Crayford) in recent days on the subject of affordable homes, a misnomer if ever there was one.

Both Councillors are in favour of affordable homes but John Davey has had his work cut out explaining why, as a member of the Planning Committee, he has voted in favour of schemes that don’t include any. If there is a justification for it his 140 characters have been insufficient to make it clear to me.

I find it reminiscent of John Davey telling me that Bexley’s road planning was “bonkers” - hence the name of this website - when he was Vice-Chairman of the Transport Committee. Voting for what he doesn’t like again! The power of the not so Fat Controller on her voting fodder eh?

Another big Tweeter is Councillor Peter Craske. He’s twice said that library usage in Bexley has been increasing while official Council figures indicated the opposite. I challenged him on his claim as did several Labour Councillors but no answer was forthcoming.
Tweet Tweet
In April I screen grabbed five of Councillor Craske's Tweets that said there were well over 100 parks etc. in Bexley.

It seemed like something worth checking so I went on to Bexley’s pretty but no longer very useful website to look at the list of addresses. There wasn’t one. There was a list of allotment addresses but nothing for parks.

I wrote to Bexley Council to suggest it was a serious omission. At numerous Council meetings it has been argued that Bexley has an excess of parks so it is OK to sell some and if they are such a wonderful asset why not encourage visits with some addresses?

Perhaps Bexley Council agrees because they kindly sent me a list of ‘park’ addresses which I have reformatted into a PDF list.

If one counts every scrap of land as a park there are eight in Belvedere, ten in Bexley, eighteen in Bexleyheath, twelve in Crayford, nineteen in Erith, twenty seven in Sidcup and nine in Welling; which makes 103.

Pretty close to Councillor Craske’s 104? Well not really.

My count includes the three that are being sold totally, one which has been closed for the past two years, it includes recreation grounds separately even when they are part of bigger parks and counts parks divided by public roads or water courses as two.

TweetSo Peter Craske’s claim of 104 parks plus 31 recreation grounds with Lesnes Abbey, Hall Place and Danson Park on top might generously be presented as around 70 parks and 30 playgrounds, not 138. The man simply cannot tell the truth.

He was at it again today.

Over a million pounds of investment delivered to his own ward over the past ten years he boasted. Doesn’t come anywhere near what has been pumped into Bexleyheath but nevermind.

The magnificently named Patriotic Cynic asked for some examples…

Both PCs must be known to each other because the inquisitor is addressed as Ian. £400,000 for a park and the rest on road improvements the Councillor PC said. Is it more Craskian Fake News?

I’m afraid it is.

The road improvements around Halfway Street were delivered under Bexley’s Labour administration way back in 2005.

Is Councillor Peter Craske a great big fibber who finds it difficult to count to ten?.

You bet he is.

 

14 June - Bexleyco Limited - Alison Griffin’s parting gift to the borough

There was a meeting of the Council this evening to give formal approval to the Articles of Association for Bexleyco Limited, the new company set up by Bexley Council to allow it to do things which are the preserve of private companies, like planning its own housing schemes, give themselves planning permission, concrete over their own parks and feed the profits back into Council coffers.

Like every Bexley Council meeting that begins with the election of a Chairman, the Chairman was already sitting in the appropriate position. Teresa O’Neill was proposed by her Deputy Don Massey and seconded by Cabinet Member Linda Bailey and her brief introductory speech was already conveniently to hand.

The private company was formally outlined by Finance Director Alison Griffin in the efficient manner to which members of the public have become accustomed following which Councillor Massey attempted to add something worthwhile but failed.
Cabinet
in just under 15 minutes the new company was fully approved and almost ready to go.

Gill StewardIt was the last time we will see Alison Griffin in the Council Chamber as she is off to Southend-on-Sea to be their new Chief Executive.

When Gill Steward was set to become Bexley’s Chief Executive I immediately Googled her name, as one does, and found a trail of adverse comment from every blogger and local newspaper in the areas she had previously blighted.

The bloggers of Southend will have no such luck for Bonkers has almost never found a reason to blacken Alison’s name. I can think of one uncomplimentary report but the not so fat one was probably cracking the whip behind her.

Unlike the gurning Gill Steward, Alison Griffin is unlikely to put her big fat foot into everything she touches. A difficult act to follow.

 

13 June - A slow news day

Lesnes Abbey - Kicked into the long grass
LesnesThese Lesnes Abbey photos were taken ten days apart. There is no sign that Bexley Council has made any progress on the park regeneration in that time. The main vehicle access point remains closed for most of the time.

The coffee shop was deserted as I walked by today but there were signs that it had been recently in use.

I am beginning to think that a formal opening will never happen but if Mayor Peter Reader fancies a day out I’ll try to get a few pictures of him. I’m sure he won’t be doing a runner like his predecessor.


Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes


Planning plonkers
Extension OuthouseThe worst of Newham’s slum house extensions has not yet reached Bexley but it is reported that similar situations have arisen here.

The conservatory in Photo 1 was refused planning permission by Bexley Council before the resident discovered that it was small enough to not need permission anyway.

The much larger extension next door was granted retrospective permission after being built to an excessive size.

The outhouse shown in Photo 2 is double glazed with a nice front door and inside it is equipped with laundry, cooking and sleeping facilities.

When Bexley Council made enquiries they were told it was a tool shed and accepted that assurance without further investigation.

Maybe it is coincidence but the same ethnic differences found in Newham apply in both of these cases too.


Lighting up the lies
LEDIn my opinion Bexley’s streets have been much darker since most of them were switched from sodium lamps to Light Emitting Diodes but I am very aware that my post bag says I hold a minority view.

I have been following correspondence between Bexley Council and people who can no longer sleep soundly because their bedrooms are lit up like Blackpool and so far Bexley Council has failed to solve their problems.

I have no reason to doubt them especially as Bexley Council has been bragging about how the new lamps are “delivering brighter streets” but when I take pictures after dark my camera tells a similar story to my own eye balls, that Bexley is a much gloomier place than before.

Now my opinion has been reinforced by some information that has come directly from Bexley Council. The output of the old sodium lamps was 18,000 Lumens. The replacement LEDs manage slightly less than half of that.

Can Bexley Council never tell the truth? Why did Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer announce “brighter streets”?


Penny wise, pound foolish
ParkingI drove over to Welling on Sunday to visit a friend. He warned me beforehand that I should approach his house from the south because it would be near impossible to get up on to his drive if I came my usual way.

A car had been parked on the footpath and partially over his dropped kerb most of the morning and was still there at 1:30 when I arrived.

I asked my friend why he had not reported it to Bexley Council but he said he really could not be bothered faffing around with Bexley’s on-line only reporting system. My sentiments exactly.

How much money will that damned fool decision have cost Bexley Council?

Pavement parking is permitted in some parts of his road so the car in the background was legally parked, but not the Ford Kuga. I’ve never heard of one of those before and had to view the picture at full size to read the name, but what I know about cars could be written on the back of a postage stamp


The cunning fox outwits Bexley Council
BinI store toilet rolls in my food waste bin and sometimes struggle to get the lid open. Maybe I should ask the fox that insists on digging in my front garden for a few tips; a reader complains about the bins as follows…


Bexley Council has issued residents with small brown caddies with hinged lids and handles which also act as a lock which it claims are fox proof. It’s not true as I recently witnessed.

The wily old foxes have sussed out the locking arrangement and devised their own way of circumventing it. For the lid to be locked the handle has to be either vertical or completely folded down the front. Any other position and the lid will open.

When the caddy is awaiting collection the handle should be folded down and hence the lid will be locked.

However the foxes have learnt that they only need to knock the caddy over and the chances are that the handle will end up in a position where the lid will open. If not they roll the caddy over and try again.

Bexley Council encourages residents to fill its brown paper bags before depositing the food filled bags in the caddy. Ideal for the foxes who spill the contents on to the path and carry the tidy little packages back to their lair - a veritable fox fast food take away service.

The remaining packages are left either for a dessert course left or to be scattered by the wind or the crows.

As Bexley requires the caddies to be put out by 7 a.m. in practice they have to be left out overnight. The foxes love it.

When the caddies need to be replaced perhaps Bexley Council will find a more effective solution. Maybe a fox contraceptive could be incorporated into the caddy bags.


It’s Tuesday…
… so it’s time for the Harrow Manorway lights to fail again. This time I checked my watch, road traffic gets five seconds of green before being stopped again for the full pedestrian cycle.
Lights failed

 

12 June (Part 2) - Bexley Council has plans to make the poor even worse off

Bexley Council is required by law to reduce the amount of Council Tax paid by the poorer members of society, those on benefits. It can set its own rules and since the scheme was introduced in 2013 there has been an erosion of the amount of support on offer. What started as a maximum of 85% reduction by Bexley Council is now down to 80%. They have in mind making the poor pay even more next year.

Another of their Press Releases refers to yet another Consultation. I’m pretty sure it won’t be a genuine consultation exercise, if it is it will be a first since BiB was launched and it doesn’t take a genius to work out what Bexley’s motive is.

They want to keep the money for themselves.

ATOSI completed the survey - well up to a point, I clicked the neither agree nor disagree button right the way through - so I can tell you exactly what Bexley Council has in mind.

They want to discount third and subsequent dependent children from the calculation, they want to attack the disabled by no longer discounting any ‘additional premium’ they may be entitled to, so that anyone in receipt of it will have it clawed back through a reduction in Council Tax support.

Finally, Bexley Council wants to withdraw Council Tax support totally from under 21 year olds.

May I suggest that everyone completes the survey? It won’t stop Bexley Council attacking the poor and disadvantaged but it may stop them being able to claim that they had the support of local residents. Sometimes responses to Bexley’s consultations are numbered only in double figures and the suspicion must be that most of the responses are from Conservative Councillors.

 

12 June (Part 1) - Where are the Building Inspectors?

Yesterday’s pictures of what sort of buildings are now the norm in Newham didn’t produce much in the way of the half anticipated criticism and whilst the predicted loss of Twitter followers did come to pass, by the end of the day they had been replaced by new ones. Of more interest was an anonymous email from what I can only assume is a Council Building Inspector who provides an interesting insight into the hidden effects of Council cuts.

It is reproduced below, unedited. He or she must be a much quicker writer than I am, the email arrived only about 20 minutes after yesterday’s blog went on line and it is suggested that I will have spent about 30 minutes writing it. Just over two and a half hours actually, I try to pick my words carefully.


What inspectors? Councils no longer employ teams of men scouring the borough just in case a resident erects a permitted or non-permitted edifice on their private property.

Trained officials paid by the hour j_u_s_t to walk the streets? Really???

Even the count on one hand staff remaining have limited capacity to act retrospectively, clear backlogs, deal with laying down the law to people so they don’t do stuff in the future (deal with past, present and future as you may expect).

Google Earth and local residents are all very well, but with both there is always some delay between a logged residents call complaining and any action. There is never the manpower to action every complaint, and many complaints prove barely grounded

Legal and Planning are resource and time intensive matters. Priorities must be made, particularly if the real buying power of councils is decreasing while what staff remaining continue to get at least some terms and conditions. e.g. volunteer Librarians at Bexley Village are still on council land (a cost of ownership, cheap if dormant, but should any action ever be taken or have to be taken by Bexley council on their own property (roof repairs say) that would cost and public/employers liability insurance.

Things can be done on the cheap, as it appears council planning is being done in your Aunt’s street in Newham, where presumably not as many people pay full rates as the national standards of government expect, and other ‘labour/socialist’ social needs are expected.

Newham may well be run for and by the a cross section of society that is no longer white female and over 50, (if it ever was, the women’s league write to Chief Inspector only to be fobbed off is my take on the 1930s-50s) and it may well look like one of the nicer slums of the world (many slums have sewerage and power, but still poor). But it does not mean a ‘properly runֹ’ ‘ideal’ council could enforce or deal with a whole street on a house by house, legal proceeding by legal proceeding basis.

That is why whole communities of interlinked individuals were razed in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. The money and the effort was there to get rid of slums/bomb damage, but not the day to day, face to face time/manpower to personally deal with/for and on every individual resident.

Your Aunt is a vulnerable and well respected member of her community but if the community suffers low economic prosperity and little redistributed support, then there is not much time, money or capital that can be externally applied (e.g. bins, call centre cuts, meals on wheels, doctor home visits etc.)

Enough people, with enough time to freely choose to enforce the law on these streets.

It’s not a Muslim issue to take time that feels too scarce, then do less with it than you feel, a Bexley blogger feels, you should do.

It is a Human one. and one you as a Bexley blogger (no time to write 30 odd signed letters of concern about each property in the street which concern you individually) have fallen into with your well written blog post (30 minutes time, rather than 30 x 2 hours of time to deal with each house complaint).

I recommend human to human that you pick just one shack on the street to write in formally about, deal with any correspondence/contact/visits arising and let the impact/non impact of how that one house is dealt with impact the street.


Actually I can tell you what Newham Council says about the ramshackle structures that desecrate their borough; none of them need planning permission.

Newham has the fifth lowest Council Tax in London, Bexley is in 24th position.

 

11 June (Part 2) - Be glad you live in Bexley

Some blogs are easier to write than others. Plug the local Labour party too enthusiastically; cue influx of emails and lose a few Twitter followers. Expose a local Conservative as devious and untrustworthy, look forward to a visit from the boys in blue.

This time I am in danger of upsetting everyone apart from UKIP voters.

Friday was my Aunt’s 97th birthday. I had been to East Ham the previous day, I knew she wouldn’t be short of visitors on the 9th and I was due there again yesterday so my conscience wasn’t too badly pricked.

As I have probably said before. my Aunt lives in a road which is occupied almost 100% by Muslim families. She is one of only two white British occupants of more than 100 terraced houses most of which are divided into two.

CakeThe Muslims appear to be lovely people. Three families descended on my Aunt on Friday bearing flowers, chocolates and cakes. They brought along too many children for my Aunt’s liking but they call her Grannie and there is no doubt their hearts are full of love.

On Saturday while I was there two more arrived, one looking very attractive in headscarf and flowing dress. She no longer lives nearby and had walked a mile or two across town to visit.

But for all that there are ‘them and us’ differences and the Muslim families make little attempt at conforming to the norms of British society. This is particularly obvious in their attitude to planning law.

A look at Google Earth shows that my Aunt’s house is the only one on her side of the street which does not have a residential shack in its back garden.


Shacks

Neighbouring shacks viewed from my Aunt’s garden.

NewhamThe far end of her 25 foot garden is dominated by one neighbour’s wooden shack on the left and to the right a similar one complete with satellite dish.

To the rear is a rough breeze block outhouse for which planning permission was sought. What sort of Planning Department approves such a monstrosity you might ask. Well not Newham as it happens.

The application was for a 6 metre brick rear extension and the plans showed a new through lounge incorporating the original room and the additional new space.

My Aunt declined the opportunity to object as all the other houses to the rear had similar extensions and this one merely filled in a gap.

You can see what was put up instead. The new edifice which would discredit downtown Karachi is nothing like that submitted to Newham Council. Where were their building inspectors? The monstrosity does not in any way conform to the application. It’s not even in the same place.

The husband of my youngest cousin works for Newham Council, in the housing department I believe. He says that Newham Council is run by Muslims for the benefit of Muslims and nothing is ever done about planning infringements. I have no way of verifying that statement.

Do we really want to see such malpractice extended across this once great capital city?

Cue more hate mail. But does anyone want to see Bexley looking like the socialist hell hole that is Newham? I’m absolutely sure that no Bexley Councillor of any political colour would approve, but could King Canute stop the tide?

 

11 June (Part 1) - Madder and madder

Waterloo EastAs anyone attempting to get to London this weekend will discover the hard way, there are no train services from any of Bexley’s railways stations to Waterloo East and Charing Cross.

Those who travel on the North Kent line through Abbey Wood and Woolwich can look forward to that being a permanent and daily feature if the proposed ThamesLink service to Luton comes to pass. There will be no simple way to reach Blackheath or Lewisham by train which is the sort of madness that one has come to expect from the Train Operating Companies.

They appear to have forgotten that train services are supposed to serve passengers and not be regarded as an inconvenient nuisance.

Will the madness ever stop? Possibly not.

Network Rail’s South East Route Study suggests that a major rebuild of Charing Cross could see the end of Waterloo East.

Its curved platforms and three exit points make it an expensive station to staff. It would be so much easier to make passengers from the South East laden with suitcases walk half a mile from the southern tip of an extended Charing Cross in order to interchange with South Western mainline trains. And where would they go for free toilet facilities?

The Route Study is an enormously long read full of technical diagrams; probably only of great interest to train enthusiasts, which is why the controversial proposals are hidden away on Page 60 of the 77 page document.

 

10 June (Part 2) - Another stabbing in London

Last July Cabinet Member Peter Craske interrupted a Scrutiny meeting to announce that former Bexley Councillor Katie Perrior had been appointed to the job of Director of Communications for Theresa May.

I wonder what Peter thinks of the latest use of her skills?

Arrogance

The Times. Saturday 10th June 2017. Click or scroll to view more.

 

10 June (Part 1) - Teresa O’Blockhead

No TweetsIn the early hours of Friday morning I congratulated Conservative Councillor John Davey on his Twitter skills. He was probably surprised but he is really very good at it. (@CllrJohnDavey)

He can be witty, politically astute and occasionally wrong, but aren’t we all? Most importantly he is never rude or offensive unlike one or two of his colleagues.

Conservative Councillors were instructed to open Twitter accounts when they had their last strategy conference but Leader Teresa O’Neill doesn’t appear to have entered into the spirit of things. An account was opened for her but she has had nothing worthwhile to say.

Presumably the account was opened by someone who has some idea of how the system works because my Twitter account was instantly blocked; see below.

I was long ago blocked by Philip Read before I had a chance to take a first look at his output. I’m not sure why anyone does that, circumventing Twitter’s block mechanism is one of the easiest things one can do on a computer.

Blocked

Both screen shots taken this morning.

 

9 June (Part 2) - Thanks to statistics, everyone’s a winner

Tweet Tweet

 

9 June (Part 1) - A bad case of epistaxis

The day didn’t day go well. I spent the evening as I often do on a Thursday in a pub in Iain Duncan Smith’s constituency as part of a quiz team. We usually do quite well, indeed for 14 consecutive weeks last year we won, but last night we were the Greens of pub quizes and came an ignominous fifth.

The team consists of three old men and three youngsters - well 38 to 40 is young as far as I am concerned - an accountant, a veterinery surgeon and a school teacher. When the General Election exit poll came up on the TV screen at ten o’clock and everyone jumped to the conclusion that a Jeremy Corbyn led coalition was possible it didn’t take them long to decide that the future lay in emigration.

I left the pub at about ten thirty in the peeing rain only to find the A12 was closed at two major junctions and long queues before Blackwall. As I approached the Danson Interchange on the A2 about an hour later two massive lightning bolts illuminated Bexleyheath; could the night get any worse?

Well yes actually. The Crook Log car park was full and I was directed to a muddy football field.

I was a guest of Danny Hackett at the election count. He was busy as you might guess so I didn’t speak to him very much but a few kindly souls took pity on me and exchanged a few pleasantries, among them June Slaughter, James Hunt, John Davey, John Fuller, Mabel Ogundayo, Stef Borella, Daniel Francis, Teresa Pearce and her agent Grant Blowers as well as several UKIP people.

I had hoped to be able to take a few photos and maybe send out a Tweet or two but a combination of tight security, a ban on technology anywhere near the interesting bits and the fact that my gear was in the boot of a car ‘miles’ away in a wet field put paid to any such idea.

The atmosphere was slightly strange. The Conservatives were disappointed to have ‘won’, my Labour friends were jubilant to have lost and UKIP thought the result was “a nightmare”. Not for them, they didn’t expect to do well, but for the country.

They could be right. It seems a little bit 1974 to me. A Prime Minister goes to the country for no very good reason, comes a big cropper and Labour acquires a foothold much bigger than generally expected.

Winter of DiscontentThat didn’t end well well did it? Could Theresa May’s election calculations have been done by Diane Abbott?

You don’t need me to tell you the election result do you? Teresa Pearce thankfully, won Erith & Thamesmead, not that there was ever much doubt, so I am probably safe from arrest for a little while longer. Edward Bexrat (Conservative) did better than he deserved to do and Stefano Borella and Danny Hackett mustered a huge amount of support in the other two constituencies to come a well placed second.

If they can keep the momentum going for another eleven months maybe Labour will not suffer the Council wipe out I was fearing in Bexley. The country has given one bad leader a very bloody nose and this borough badly needs a dose of epistaxis too. We have heard the no longer Fat Controller parading her majority as a reason to ride rough shod over the electorate far too often.

Epistaxis. I’ve not been a member of the Chingford quiz team for ten years for nothing.

 

7 June (Part 3) - Train delays set to become the norm

Just what are Southeastern trains playing at?

Fromthemurkydepths has just drawn my attention to the proposed 2018 rail timetable. By then countless millions will have been spent on the new London Bridge station, new bridges and flyunders to make everything run smoothly and efficiently.

Please forgive me if I am wrong but as far as I can see everything will be slower than ever before. I have found one 'fast' train in the 2018 timetable which will do Cannon Street to Abbey Wood in exactly 30 minutes. Others are slower.

Thirty years ago British Rail ran under-powered slam door stock which may have been built in the early 1950s but nevertheless ran a frequent fast evening service over the same route in 23 minutes, one in only 22!

Just what the hell is going on?

 

7 June (Part 2) - Lib Dems are still fighting yesterday’s battles

Lib DemsWell they got that wrong didn’t they?

The Lib Dems candidate in Old Bexley & Sidcup, Drew Heffernan has issued a questionnaire to voters in that constituency.

He says this election is all about Brexit. How deluded can you get?

Drew spoke at the Erith & Thamesmead’s hustings and it was pretty clear he wants a rerun of the EU referendum so you can change your mind.

You can see his performance on Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EV9JyM8Ja_c

The Old Bexley & Sidcup hustings are on video too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rN8kBMIZOg

Not had time to look yet but a number of people have reported that Danny Hackett acquitted himself really well. Probably Drew is there too fighting yesterday’s battle.

 

7 June (Part 1) - Five long years

Today marks the fifth anniversary of my complaint to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police that Bexley police were deliberately dragging their feet with their so called investigation into obscenities posted to Google Blogspot about Elwyn Bryant and me.

Whoever did it quite obviously knew exactly where the pair of us had been the day before (in the Council offices) and where I was a week earlier; standing under a Council CCTV camera in the Cinema car park. The police later traced those obscenities to someone who had access to one of Councillor Peter Craske’s internet connections.

The police did nothing about my letter, just an excuse note to say no one had done anything wrong which even at that early stage was obviously a lie.

PearceThanks to some information obtained by my MP Teresa Pearce (Erith & Thamesmead) another letter elevated the complaint to an allegation of Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Justice. The police ignored it. They sent 17 two or three line letters over two years to say they had no time to look into the matter.

Eventually an Assistant Commissioner took an interest in the case; it may have had something to do with a threat to send the file to a Parliamentary Select Committee.

The belated investigation appears to be going places. The officers concerned have made it amply clear that they have discovered a whole load of evidence that police officers in Bexley are prepared to be as corrupt as they need to be in defence of Bexley Council.

Along the way I have had four meetings with the police with Teresa Pearce by my side. When Councillor Don Massey asked Bexley police to arrest me for repeating what he had put on the web, or caused to be put on the web, Teresa instantly volunteered to be with me at my interview.

An MP can be a useful ally when in a tight spot; but not always.


Brokenshire My five year old complaint to Bexley police and the following allegation of crime were joint efforts with Elwyn Bryant who lives in Bexley village. He asked his MP James Brokenshire for help too.

James was clearly shocked by what had spewed forth from a keyboard in Councillor Craske’s house but he refused point blank to give Elwyn any practical help.

When Elwyn asked to see his MP his office staff told Elwyn that he was too busy and had no free appointment spots. Elwyn’s friend Peter Gussman phoned five minutes later and there were no problems at all.

James Brokenshire who has a degree in law refused to represent Elwyn at the first three meetings with the police. He said it would be “inappropriate”. Elwyn didn’t bother to tell him about the fourth.

Maybe you should bear that in mind when you vote tomorrow. It really is true that some MPs are all over you like a rash during an election campaign and are not a lot of use afterwards.


HackettPerhaps Bexley residents should vote for someone cast in the same mould as Teresa Pearce, that is Danny Hackett.

Danny has been my Councillor for the past three years so I know him quite well. He was present when Councillor Cheryl Bacon mismanaged a Scrutiny meeting. Strictly speaking what she did was illegal but at too low a level to be seriously concerned about.

However to provide her with a defence, Bexley Council issued a press release which said I had been guilty of running riot in the Council Chamber and in another document, that I had to be forcibly ejected.

Danny knew that I had not moved from my seat and not said a word and was happy to confirm that fact in a formal statement to the police who sent the relevant papers to the Crown Prosecution Service. (†)

Councillor Stefano Borella did the same so maybe he deserves your vote in Bexleyheath and Crayford, however from various reports, David Evennett who currently represents that constituency is not entirely useless either.

For the record, the ongoing investigation into the Craske cover up has now reached the stage when senior police officers have been interviewed under caution and their solicitors are now working on their defence. Thanks Teresa.

† According to an insider, the CPS managed to ‘lose’ vital evidence which made a prosecution unviable.

 

6 June (Part 2) - It’s not really favourtism

There has been a dearth of electoral literature this year. In 2015 I managed to get hold of 27 leaflets all of which are still hidden away in the bowels of BiB.

This year, including Edward Bexrat’s pathetic effort, the total reached ten with none at all from Bexleyheath and Crayford.

What I call BiB’s advertising space (not in Mobile viewing mode) has been used to highlight a few of the candidates. There is a total of eight such spaces and the two displayed vary according to the route into the blog pages.

At present Danny Hackett, Labour, Old Bexley and Sidcup, gets four of the spaces, Stefano Borella, Labour, Bexleyheath and Crayford has two and James Brokenshire (Conservative, OB&S) and Ronie Johnson (UKIP, E&T) get one each.

I may change that around tomorrow.
Borella Brokenshire Hackett UKIP
Note: These images are not displayed in the correct aspect ratio. If Stef and Danny look fatter or thinner than they are it’s my fault.

 

6 June (Part 1) - TfL. (Time frequently Lost)

There is some sort of competition going on in Abbey Wood, it’s between Stannah Lifts and Transport for London to see which one can engineer the greatest number of equipment failures in the shortest amount of time while inconveniencing the greatest number of people.

I wish to announce that Sainsbury’s in Abbey Wood gets the booby prize. Whilst they may have created many individual failures to their travelators and lifts they have let themselves down by generally fixing them within 24 hours. Transport for London (TfL) on the other hand has elevated inconvenience to a high art form by taking up to two months to fix their constant traffic light failures.
HMW
StannahThe pedestrian crossing pictured here is no longer very useful as there is no footpath on the left of the Harrow Manorway flyover. It is due to be placed elsewhere when the new station opens. Meanwhile it is of use only to Crossrail contractors going to and from work.

It fails regularly. Today it was allowing three or four vehicles to pass before going red again. My wrist watch has broken so I could only count out the seconds between successive reds, about 45 by my reckoning.

The chaos was widespread but maybe not the cause of the gridlock which gripped much of the North of the borough today. I came out of the optician in Bexleyheath at three o’clock (the till receipt says 15:01), went into Carphone Warehouse, hung around for maybe ten minutes to see if anyone was interested in taking my money, they weren’t, and then wandered off to the bus stop via the Argos catalogue, a minute or two at most, to find it saying that a 229 was due in five minutes.

A generous time estimate might be that I was swept on to the bus by a tide of schoolgirls at 15:35, it could well have been earlier.

By the time the bus crawled to Fraser Road it was part of a convoy of four 229s of which mine was the third. The driver was instructed to terminate the service at Abbey Wood even though the bus was still standing room only.

I couldn’t see the clock from my seat but when I got off at Lesnes Abbey the bus’s digital clock said 16:52. So that was at least an hour and a quarter on a journey that I have occasionally walked in as little as 50 minutes. As local readers will know, the 229 does not take a direct route from Bexleyheath to Thamesmead. No buses do.

TfL fails Bexley daily, will the 301 improve matters?

 

5 June - Nasty evil people taking pleasure from inflicting pain

TosserMy favourite description of Bexley Council came from the News Shopper some eight years ago: “a mob of nasty, evil people who seem to thrive on other people’s pain and hurt”.

Last week’s “Bexley Council’s nickname locally is Brown Envelopes R Us”, in the same newspaper doesn’t really come close.

As if to reinforce their reputation of being; nasty people thriving on other people’s pain and hurt, Bexley Council issued yet another Press Release today - click for list of names and addresses - about their successful prosecution of some litter louts. Fair enough one might say, but did they really have to list their names and addresses too.

Is this what we can expect from the reprehensible Terry Osborne?

Tossers. Nasty vindictive tossers.

 

4 June - Rock hard Brexit or barely there Will-o’-the-Wisp Brexit?

Nothing much going on today so I cast caution to the wind and drove over three Yellow Money Boxes in Welling to collect some UKIP and Lib Dem election leaflets because it would appear that there are none available in Erith & Thamesmead. I've had a couple of emails from Ronie Johnson (UKIP’s candidate) so I know he is still around and ready to accept any Tory votes which might be otherwise wasted on Ed Baxter; but no leaflet yet.

There could hardly be more difference between the two UKIP leaflets and the Lib Dem one. One believes there is only one sort of BREXT and that is OUT OUT OUT. The other one offers the prospect of a wide variety of Brexits but what the Lib Dems really want is a rerun of June 23rd 2016 so that we can change our minds. The leaflet doesn't say that exactly but it was the clear preference of candidate Drew Heffernan when he spoke at the E & T hustings.

 

3 June (Part 2) - Zero footfall

Wilton Road MarketThe damage done to Wilton Road by Crossrail construction has been immense, the dirty and dusty part of the construction phase has long gone but access to the station remains difficult and a surprising number of people prefer to get the bus to Woolwich.

The road is generally quiet apart from the undesirables who gather outside the betting shop and occasionally it appears to be almost totally deserted. Sometimes it is deserted as the associated photograph almost confirms. There was just one man smoking outside Paddypower at 10:09 this Saturday morning. The £300,000 regeneration project has so far attracted very little additional trade.

I knew the local traders were planning a market for later in the year but a different one has crept up on me unannounced.

It’s being run by a volunteer group from, I think, the village hall Community Group. Click the image to read more.

Litter
The amount of litter that Bexley Council leaves in the gutter does nothing to make the place look more attractive either.

 

3 June (Part 1) - I’ve been everywhere man. (Apart from Erith and Thamesmead)

At last a blue leaflet through the letterbox. A total waste of trees but I have one. Edward Baxter the Conservative candidate for Erith & Thamesmead has committed to paper everything he considers worth telling the electorate about himself.

He is standing with Theresa May. And that’s it.

Is there anyone in the constituency who fails to realise that the Tory candidate is backing the Conservative Prime Minister?

Does Edward make any other points?

Well yes; that Nicola Sturgeon (SNP), Jeremy Corbyn (Labour) and Tim Farron (Lib Dems) are never going to win a beauty contest.
Baxter

Click to see all of Edward Baxter’s leaflet.

It’s a pathetic effort. Couldn’t he have done better than that? Probably not. He has no support locally. Councillor Philip Read is not glued to his side as he was to Anna Firth. Councillor John Davey appears to be lukewarm at best. Anna Firth might have been in with a chance in E & T, until Theresa May lost the plot that is, but Edward Baxter has less chance of surviving 8th June than getting across the Upton Road Yellow Money Box fine free on a busy morning.

If you follow Mr. Baxter’s Twitter feed you will see he has been supporting candidates in Morley and Outwood (where’s that?), Newcastle, Chessington, Luton South, Wakefield, Andover, Oxford East, Sleaford, Shirley, Gower, Streatham, Vauxhall, Tooting, Bracknell, Rhyll, Slough, North Walsham, Taunton, Deal, Harrow, Aberdeen, Balham, Dunstable, Loughborough, Isleworth and Bayswater. Shall I stop now? You will have got the idea, and that’s just his Twitter output in the past three hours.

Has he Tweeted anything about Erith & Thamesmead? Not a word.

How appalling and disgraceful is that?

If you want a web bot for your next MP for Erith & Thamesmead, vote Conservative and make it a policy and ideas free zone.

Speaking from my right leaning perspective I see the prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn led government as terrifying. Why is it that every generation has to learn the hard way that promises of ‘free stuff’ paid for by someone else delivers nothing but pain to everyone who aspires to better themselves? Wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up defenceless with hard won freedoms and Brexit lost along with the Falklands, Gibraltar and probably Scotland and Northern Ireland too.

I fear that electing Jeremy Corbyn to the highest office in the land would be a disaster for the future of the country but electing Edward Baxter as MP for Erith & Thamesmead instead of Teresa Pearce might be even worse.

Whilst Edward Baxter has done nothing and is promising nothing, Teresa Pearce has a huge list of achievements to her credit, not least of which is helping me fight off unjustifiable assaults from Bexley Council and combatting the probable corruption within its police force. Did I say probable police corruption? Their own investigators at Scotland Yard seem to share that opinion.
Pearce

Click to see all of Teresa Pearce’s leaflet.

And another thing. If you compare the 2017 pictures of Teresa Pearce with those in earlier leaflets you will see she hasn’t aged one bit. What a woman!

Teresa Pearce's pledges. (That's one helluva slow web server Teresa.)

 

2 June (Part 2) - Craig Mackinlay. My small part in his downfall

I don’t meet up with Mick Barnbrook as often as I used to, Ramsgate is a long way away especially if you regard driving at 56 m.p.h. as scarily fast as Mick does. As often as not I see him because he has screwed up his computer in one way or another.

A couple of weeks ago it was his printer and this week his email wouldn’t work. He was in a panic because he urgently wanted to remind the CPS that it only had a week left to consider charging Craig Mackinlay, his Conservative MP, with electoral expense malpractice.

To cut a long story short I bodged his laptop and hitched it to an open wi-fi hotspot and we sent Mick’s email on its merry way.

MackinlayIt seems to have had the desired result because the CPS has now charged Craig Mackinlay.

I don’t suppose the media will give Mick any credit but he has been battling with Kent police for months. At one stage they wrote to Craig Mackinlay and asked him if he was guilty. He said he wasn’t so Mick was sent a letter to say the case would be dropped.

Mick responded with a promise to allege conspiracy to pervert the course of justice if the Chief Constable of Kent didn’t buck his ideas up.

I’m losing count but I think it is correct to say that Mick will raise his array of MP scalps to 20 if Mackinlay and the other two he set his sights on go down.

If you are a dishonest politician, never ever get on the wrong side of Michael Barnbrook.

The story as told by Channel 4 news.

 

2 June (Part 1) - This hypocrite says Bexley’s motorists are hard done by, and then sets traps for them

The photo below, taken at 07:31 on Sunday 12th June 2016 has been seen by an awful lot of people since it was put on Facebook 48 hours ago.

What the picture doesn’t show is that there is another Yellow Money Box just a little way beyond the Keep Lefts just visible in the photograph. Their extreme length and close proximity makes fine free progress next to impossible at busy times.
Facebook Sawyer
Another thing the picture does not show is the man who is responsible for turning Bexley’s roads into cash registers. Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transport Alex Sawyer, a man who has several times stood up in our Council Chamber and said he believes that motorists are given a bad deal.

What a hypocrite. I hope he realises how widely hated his pet schemes are. If every fine could mean one less vote for Alex Sawyer and his cronies next year, maybe Bexley would become a nicer place to live. 23,788 is a nice big number of people who now know something of Bexley Council’s evil tricks.

Do you think putting Alex’s picture on Facebook will reach another 23,000 or will it earn me another harassment warning from their ever-obedient police force?

 

1 June - Send in the clowns. Councillor Clark is back

Bexley Council meetings are not what they used to be, that is, reminiscent of a bear pit with Cabinet Members aiming insults at the public gallery and Councillors aiming insults at each other and I blame the webcasts for that.

Since they were introduced three years ago there has been no more than a couple of instances of Cabinet Members insulting members of the public, Philip Read had a go at Mick Barnbrook for questioning the rigged enquiry into the death of Rhys Lawrie and Don Massey rudely accused Chris Attard, a UKIP General Election candidate in 2015, of making false statements. He apologised later when he was proved to be wrong.

How I miss the old days when Mayor Val Clark could be guaranteed to make a fool of herself at every Council meeting she chaired. Her technique revolved around threatening members of the public with ejection on any pretext she could muster and occasionally sending letters to their home address to tell them exactly what she thought of them. And who could forget the frequent references to Sir Walter Citrine’s book on Chairmanship to justify her actions? I bought myself a copy for no other reason than to see just how poor Councillor Clark’s chairmanship was.

Yes I definitely miss the free entertainment provided by Councillor Val Clark.

Unfortunately I missed a trick by failing to notice that Val Clark had been promoted to being Chairman of the Planning Committee, I only got around to updating my list of Councillor jobs yesterday, and didn’t attend last week’s Planning meeting as a result.

Under Councillor Peter Reader, attending was rarely worth the effort of another late night. Councillor Reader ran the meeting in a businesslike fashion and as far as one could judge, was straight forward and unbiased. Not so Councillor Clark it would appear.

The main item on the Agenda (why did no one tip me off?) was the concreting of Old Farm Park. Bexley Council is inclined to develop it itself rather than have a house builder cream off too much of the profit. It makes the planning procedure a somewhat incestuous affair. With a Conservative majority there is absolutely no chance of such a scheme being rejected.

I watched proceedings several days after the event on the webcast.

Councillor Clark began by inviting anyone "with a closed mind" to leave the room. Not sure why she did but I expected all the Conservatives to get up and go, but that did not happen.

The outline application is for 30 houses and 30 flats in an area that Bexley Council claims has an excess of public space. Some are on three floors. 122 parking spaces are proposed, the four bedroom houses getting three spaces each.

WrightMalcolm Wright the Chairman of the local residents association “fundamentally objected” to the sale and provided figures to demonstrate how Bexley Council’s traffic assessments were hopelessly wrong. He spoke of 20 to 25 minute hold ups already at the end of Old Farm Avenue. The loss of the green space and several hundred additional residents would add to public health problems and the application does not comply with the conditions within Bexley’s recently published Growth Strategy. GP average appointment delays in the area are currently in excess of four weeks.

In the recent past Bexley Council has turned down house extensions in Old Farm Avenue because of the impact on the park and the views into it but now it planned 60 dwellings.

Councillor Clark interrupted Mr. Wright after five minutes, not even allowing him to complete his sentence.

Andrew Riley who developed the plan said it would have no impact on local traffic densities and the trees to be lost were unimportant because they show signs of squirrels having lived in them. Oh dear!

Sidcup Councillor June Slaughter contested the claim that there was an excess of local green space and some will remember how she was proved right on this issue when the land sale was approved. What remains will no longer be a natural woodland. Three of the four 2,000 tree copses will be removed and the fourth reduced to half its former size. Councillor Slaughter is “almost ashamed to be a Member of Bexley Council”. She now realised that in accepting earlier answers to her concerns she had been “conned”.

The traffic survey does not correspond with reality and the local infrastructure cannot support the development.

Councillor Clark then warned Councillors who are not members of the Council that they could not speak unless they had registered a request to do so beforehand.

Councillor John Davey (Conservative, Crayford) was “not happy” and felt the proposals might “have more negatives than positives”.

Councillor Colin McGannon (UKIP, Colyers) said that much as he was in favour of new and affordable housing, the impact of the scheme on the environment was “a price too much to pay”. He later joined Councillor Hackett in moving a refusal.

Councillor Colin Tandy (Conservative, St. Mary’s) said “he had little doubt that the scheme will go through”. Val Clark then felt it necessary to warn members of the public not to comment. The webcast does not reveal why.

While Council officers were minimising the impact of the tree loss - apparently they were either damaged, in poor condition, over-crowded or occupied by squirrels - Councillor Clark issued another warning to the public.

Councillor John Waters (Conservative, Danson Park) said that losing the public space was “regrettable but the pros outweighed the cons”. The Chairman reprimanded the public again for something not seen by the webcams or loud enough to be picked up by the microphones.

Councillor Waters had more than the usual amount of difficulty with his microphone and could not be heard by the public. Chairman Clark offered to solve the problem by clearing the public gallery.

Councillor Danny Hackett (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) said that the proposals were not in keeping with the area. It is “too dense and an over-development”. He was moved to refuse the application“. It will look appalling and be an absolute nightmare. It is completely unacceptable”.

Councillor Brian Bishop (Conservative, Colyers) did not want to see any of the houses or flats go to “buy to let” but “we have to build homes, where is the planning reason for a refusal? There are no strong grounds”.

Councillor Alan Deadman (Labour, North End) thought the number of car parking spaces was ridiculously high given that buses and trains were only five minutes walk away. Flats in the area were of no benefit to anyone except the Council and its need for “a few bob”. Doctor provision in Sidcup is among the very worst in South East England and school provision is poor.

Clark ClarkThe vote was then taken and the most amazing thing happened. In total contravention of Sir Walter Citrine’s definitive book on chairmanship, Councillor Val Clark led the voting by sticking her hand up twice. First to defeat Councillor Hackett’s move for refusal and a minute later in support of approval.

No one I have contacted has ever seen that done before in Bexley but Councillor Val Clark, with her experience as Mayor behind her, is well able to make up the rules as she goes along.

Once again the webcast fails to convey the atmosphere of a Council meeting and this report fails to convey the passion of those who reported proceedings to me by telephone and email.

May I quote a composite of views? “She is a terrible chair, condescending to the public and a miserable old bag to boot".

Looks like I will have to go to more planning meetings.

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