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Danny Hackett

Bonkers Blog May 2017

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Stefano Borella

29 May - Three for the price of one

Live? Or Let Die?
Newacres bridge, to give it the official name that few use, is now a heap of rubble in some far away recycling facility and Harrow Manorway is now passable through a sea of cones.

Harrow Manorway Harrow ManorwayThe road signs used to give dire warnings of the consequences of crossing the road at ground level, now it is encouraged.

Maybe that is why the speed limit has been temporarily reduced from 40 to 20 m.p.h.

Eventually yet another pedestrian controlled crossing is planned for this location. One must hope that it is more reliable than the one outside Sainsbury’s.

I have been informed that it was reported to TfL two days before I noticed it was going red all by itself again but it continues to cycle around as I write.

The Harrow Manorway brochures available at last week’s exhibition are now available here, rather later than promised. 2016 issue - 2017 issue.


Lesnes Abbey
The park should have been fully redesigned and upgraded at least a year ago and it is still far from finished.
Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes
CrossrailThe paths are not yet finished and neither is the high level viewing gallery. At least I hope no one considers it to be completed.

On a happier note the café was doing a roaring trade this rather dreary Bank Holiday afternoon. Let’s hope it can survive this generally lousy British summer. (My solar panels have been a waste of space for most days in May.)

I once suggested that Bexley Council would take longer to rebuild a garden and install a few paths and features than Network Rail will take to build the new station in Abbey Wood. There is a very good chance that that prediction will be proved correct. The roof went on the station stairs this weekend. Two more Noah’s Arcs flying over Abbey Wood.

The North Kent line was closed throughout Sunday and today.


The Election
I called in on a friend in Welling yesterday and he passed on an election leaflet. I suspect he had not read it but in case he decides that was a mistake, here it is.
Hackett
At a similar stage in 2015 I had accumulated loads of leaflets but this year it would appear that no one is very interested. Danny Hackett’s is all I have.

 

28 May (Part 2) - E & T Hustings. A comprehensive collection of candidate responses

The Erith & Thamesmead hustings were not well advertised and I believe there may have been a football match on somewhere at the same time. When I arrived at The Link I was surprised to see the meeting described as a youth meeting. Oh well, I went in anyway.

I looked around just before the start and thought the audience numbers might be close to 20. Later on I concluded that a generous estimate might be nearer 30 with no more than half a dozen showing any sign of youthfulness. People were drifting away during the meeting; was it really that boring?

I’ve no idea of any normal format for a hustings but this one consisted of four set questions with only a minute allowed for each candidate’s response followed by a few more questions from the audience.

The Parliamentary candidates in E & T are Edward Baxter (Conservative), Ronie Johnson (UKIP), Claudine Letsae (Green Party), Doro Oddiri (Independent), Temi Oludu (Christian People’s Alliance), Teresa Pearce (Labour) and Simon Waddington (Liberal Democrat).

Temi Oludu didn’t show up. Presumably if you have God on your side, you have no need for any more support. Simon Waddington (Lib Dem) was a no-show too but fielded a substitute, Drew Heffernan.
Hustings
This is not going to be a verbatim report of what was said, I think there is going to be an edited video for that, and where do you think I would get the time to do it? Instead I shall tidy up my constant scribbling.

Apart from the wide policy differences between Edward Baxter and Teresa Pearce, there was also a marked difference in style. I doubt anyone will vote for Edward Baxter so not unnaturally he name dropped Theresa May as the person to vote for at every opportunity but to his credit he only mentioned “coalition of chaos” once.

By contrast Teresa Pearce didn’t mention her party leader’s name presumably because she thinks we are more likely to vote for her than Jeremy Corbyn.

Among the also rans Doro Oddiri was by far the strongest contender. His views might appeal to old school Conservatives such as me who still finds voting for Teresa, excellent MP that she has been, a step too far. I am seriously thinking of voting for Doro as a way of ensuring that Teresa is returned without having to actually vote red.

No one who knows local Conservatism as well as I do could possibly vote for anyone connected with such a bunch. On the other hand maybe Edward is not too closely connected, none of the local shysters felt able to be his agent. You would have to have a very cold heart not to feel sorry for him.

But down to business, what did they say?


BaxterEdward Baxter: Conservative
• An experienced business man and representative of the party able to deliver the best Brexit deal possible, a strong Britain and a strong economy.
• Has met the Minister of Transport to plead for more peak hour Southeastern services.
• The area is massively under-resourced for transport. Thames crossings must be part of the solution.
• Crime has fallen by more than one third since 2010 and the Conservatives have protected police budgets.
• (On crime.) We need an economy which can provide jobs and aspiration.
• Only Theresa May has clear objectives for the best Brexit and can deliver it. The alternative is a coalition of chaos.
• Brexit will be positive with Theresa May in charge.
• There is no Dementia Tax. Young people should not have to fund care of the elderly.
• There is a huge difference between the parties. The choice is between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. Three quarters of his MPs do not support him. Vote for me standing with Theresa May.
• Carers are an invaluable resource. Unsure if the low pay for carers was in breach of minimum wage regulations.
• I’m standing with Theresa May.


JohnsonRonie Johnson: UKIP
• 15 years in the constituency working at a Young Offenders Institute. Wants a better Thamesmead and better job prospects.
• £450,000 is far too much for a house in the area giving young people no chance of getting on to the housing ladder.
• Southeastern has failed passengers with high prices, delays and cancellations. The DfT has dramatically under-estimated population growth.
• A nationalised railway will not work but the companies are not accountable for poor service.
• There is no magic bullet for gang crime.
• The £1 billion raised by the Liberal Democrats’ drugs tax would all be spent on mental health issues.
• Contrary to the Conservative’s claim, police numbers have been reduced by thousands.
• Leaving the EU might be tough but companies like Weetabix which source all their materials in the UK have put up prices because of greed, nothing else.
• Lib Dems break promises. UKIP is what you see is what you get.


LetsaeClaudine Letsae: Green Party
• Stands for reducing poverty and not scapegoating immigration.
• Improve cycling routes.
• Doesn’t want a return to British Railways but it is wrong to have placed rail operations in foreign hands.
• There has been a huge reduction in community policing in Thamesmead which must be reversed.
• (On Brexit.) The will of the people should be respected but we need a second referendum.
• A second EU referendum will not undermine the democratic vote to leave but the people must be allowed to exercise their choice again. We ought to think again.
• I would prefer proportional representation.


OddiriDoro Oddiri - Independent
• Bachelor of Science experienced in both law and IT.
• Very much in favour of regeneration which should be on brown field sites.
• The government was wrong to have extended Southeastern’s franchise.
• The train companies have got away with far too much. “Sack them.”
• Would negotiate with gang leaders through meetings.
• More youth centres are required.
• We must get the best Brexit deal and raising Corporation Tax and nationalisation are both madness.
• It would be treachery to go back on the EU referendum decision.
• (Referring to the Lib Dem’s wish to retain a single market and freedom of movement.) We cannot pick and choose which bits of EU legislation could be retained.
• The Lib Dems have lost the plot.
• Main stream politicians lie and waffle. Tired and fed up with them. Nick Clegg should resign.
• Crime free immigrants resident for ten years should be allowed to stay.


HeffernanDrew Heffernan standing in for Simon Waddington: Liberal Democrats
•Member of Amnesty International and worker in Special Educational Needs schools.
• Rents are too high, more social housing required.
• Affordable housing is not affordable.
• Bexley Council’s planning department is inadequate. Peabody had to fund the extra planning officers required to ensure its own plans could be considered in good time.
• Take Southeastern’s franchise away.
• More transport options are required.
• The war on drugs has failed. Decriminalise cannabis and other drugs. Taxing drugs would raise £1 billion per year.
• (On Brexit.) The Lib Dems are the pro-remain party. Opportunities will be lost by the lack of EU funding.
• Against Brexit. Must have a referendum to change our minds.
• The Dementia Tax is an absolute shambles.
• We must take a strong stance on Europe and must have a second referendum to change Britain’s future.


PearceTeresa Pearce: Labour
• Proud to be Erith and Thamesmead’s voice in Westminster for past seven years.
• There is a housing crisis in every street and families need proper houses with gardens, not flats. Fuel poverty is a serious problem.
• The area needs more doctors and shops.
• Affordable housing is not affordable.
• Southeastern is disrespectful to passengers, it promised extra seats but they were only provided off-peak. In favour of nationalisation.
• The rail consultation read like a proposal to renew Southeastern’s franchise.
• More transport choices required. DLR to Abbey Wood and cross Thames bridges required. Better buses; eight minutes by Crossrail to Canary Wharf but 40 minutes on a bus from Thamesmead.
• Gang, knife and drug crime is rising and the police cannot cope with the budget cuts.
• The elderly are scared of kids and the kids are scared of other kids.
• (In response to Edward Baxter’s question about Labour’s John McDonnell wishing to disarm the police.) “I’m not here to speak for John McDonnell but you seem to be here to speak for Theresa May and neither name is on the ballot paper.” (Mr. Baxter had made it clear he was there to represent Theresa May, not himself.)
• Brexit is a disappointment but the issue is settled. There were lies on both sides but we have to make Brexit work.
• There is no point in bringing powers back from Brussels and give them to Westminster. They must be devolved back to regions.
• The suggestion that all parties are the same is false. She would not stand on Edward Baxter’s manifesto nor he on hers.
• (About a suggestion that paying carers £63 a week is illegal.) Carer’s allowance is less than job seeker’s allowance. A first step would be to correct that.
• Always tell the truth even when it is unpopular. My voting record is on line.
• Vote for the party that sounds most like you.


Thanks Teresa, that sounds like a recommendation that I should vote for Doro or Ronie. Looks like a good tactical vote to me.

Note: The above is written from copious notes, not an audio recording. I am not aware of anything significant being omitted. If some comments sound repetitive, that is because they were.

 

28 May (Part 1) - Crash, Bang, Wallop, what a picture!

While I was away in East Ham, Brian Barnett (@thamesmeadnews) caught the Tavy Bridge crashing to the ground on video.

Your browser must support mp4 files to display this video, but all the major ones do.

 

27 May (Part 2) - Ever the optimist

It wasn’t very realistic to label this morning’s blog with a Part 1 suffix on such a day. I think there were six excursions to Harrow Manorway to see the ugly bridge come down and a delivery of shopping to East Ham on a day when the train service was reduced and the Erith & Thamesmead hustings were on at The Link.

It is one of those weekends when there is so much activity in the North of the borough that there is no time to report it all. I’ve not done with last Wednesday’s Council meeting yet and Thursday’s Planning Committee meeting under its new Chairman has been widely reported as a fiasco. Councillor Val Clark at her best apparently.

Jobsworths JobsworthsHaving let myself in for a Part 2 the Tavy Bridge picture gallery is brought forward from tomorrow, it’s nearly completed anyway. I have not seen my camera so dusty and wet before. It’s supposed to be good for such treatment, time will tell.

Apart from the thump of a concrete span hitting the ground the principal excitement came from a white helmeted jobsworth who complained about me poking my lens through a gap in the fence. He threatened to have me forcibly removed.

It was nice of him to be so concerned for my safety but if it was that dangerous perhaps he should report himself to his employer Econ Construction for putting the barriers in the wrong place.

Two inspectors wearing Bexley Council hi-viz jackets who were inside the fence and a few feet closer to the action began to apologise for his attitude but I made it clear that there was no need and I wasn’t bothered by it. There are more satisfying ways of dealing with jobsworths than arguing with them.

 

27 May (Part 1) - Three zero one. Go!

I’ve said before that I have pretty much given up on buses, they are just too damned slow. I might occasionally use a B11 to Bexleyheath despite its meandering loop into Welling because with luck it only takes three times as long as by car. The 229 from Bexleyheath is not much quicker than walking - in the homewards direction anyway which is down hill.

I do not find it at all surprising that bus usage across London has been falling steadily, however the brief reference to a new route 301 provoked a flurry of interest.

The 301 is, under current proposals, the only new route to complement Crossrail.

We shall have to await TfL’s final word but the plan at the moment is that it should run from the Crossrail station in Woolwich to the Harrow Manorway flyover via Thamesmead Central and then take the direct route to Bexleyheath via Knee Hill, Long Lane and Woolwich Road; terminating alongside route 401 in Bexleyheath.

Whilst that might appear to be a very good idea some of the other proposals seem to be hell bent on reducing passenger numbers still further.

The 469 which takes a silly amount of time to meander from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to Abbey Wood before taking a straight line route to Erith could be further slowed by a diversion up New Road, along Woolwich Road and back down the very narrow hill which is Picardy Road.

It gives a few more people a direct route to Erith but they are never more than five minutes walk from one under the present arrangement. Attempting to serve every household is the downfall of bus services in Outer London. (†)

It is even possible that the B11 will be terminated before it gets to Thamesmead. The 301 looks to be a welcome addition but the revisions to existing routes look like idle doodling on a map to me.

Presumably there will be some sort of consultations before long.

† When we have driverless pods which can be summoned to one’s door by a mobile app no one will need buses or taxis for short journeys. They will be half the price of a cab because there will be no driver to pay.

 

26 May (Part 2) - Poor road design and Coroner’s advice ignored. Result, carnage

Maidstone Road Maidstone RoadJohn Watson has spoken to an eye-witness following yesterday’s Maidstone Road collision and has submitted the following account of what happened. As the police would no doubt wish me to remind you, eye-witnesses are not always totally reliable.


Two marked Police cars appeared to be pursuing a suspect from Ruxley Roundabout towards Swanley on their blues and twos.

Ahead was a white BMW and a traffic island which had been installed by Bexley Council following a Coroner’s recommendation that a traffic controlled crossing should be provided following the death of a lady a few years ago at this location.

I made an objection to Bexley Council at the time because they failed to comply with the Coroner’s recommendations and the inadequate traffic island was in the wrong position for passengers alighting from buses and intending to visit the two local nurseries.

One officer decided to overtake to the right of the traffic island, by which time he was probably travelling at 70 m.p.h.

The male driver of the white BMW turned right in front of the approaching police car to go into the BMW garage which caused the police car to smash into the white BMW’s rear offside wing and wheel. Both vehicles spun on impact.

Airbags were deployed in the police BMW causing its windscreen to crack. The driver of the white BMW needed assistance to exit his car. When he did he was wearing a white neck support.


Presumably the driver of the white BMW should have checked his mirror before turning right into the garage. It is absolutely necessary in Abbey Road where it passes Lesnes Abbey. Ever since Andrew Bashford lied about his road design complying with the Transport Research Laboratory’s recommendations for narrowing roads, boy racers and the occasional bus driver overtakes those adhering to the speed limit by passing traffic islands on the wrong side. In some places Bexley Council has made it almost mandatory by placing islands adjacent to bus stops. Absolutely nuts - as always.

Note to journalists: There have so far been three requests from the media to use John Watson’s pictures. To avoid delay just take them and notify later. The same goes for all photos on Bexley-is-Bonkers.

 

26 May (Part 1) - Say goodbye to the bridge that gave the area its name

Harrow ManorwayAfter a couple of deferments and a cock-up over planning permissions, Bexley Council will begin its Harrow Manorway improvement scheme by knocking down Tavy Bridge, the eyesore that an American BiB reader described as the ugliest bridge in the world.

Presumably a weekend road closure will minimise the inevitable traffic chaos but Harrow Manorway is the only sensible route into Thamesmead for most people. Presumably it will deter anyone intending to go to The Link on Saturday for the Erith & Thamesmead hustings.

It won’t help if the Sainsbury’s pedestrian crossing isn’t fixed before then. Driving home just after midnight last night it caught me for no obvious reason and this morning soon after six it was once again holding traffic while nobody was there; and unless I have gone deaf it wasn’t beeping either.

 

25 May (Part 2) - Another Ruxley wreck

Ruxley Ruxley RuxleyAccording to Maidstone Road resident John Watson there has been another serious road accident outside his house, the third in nine months one of which was fatal.

John believes the police vehicle was in pursuit of another when it hit a a car emerging from the BMW dealership.

Pictures by John Watson. As usual, click for larger copies.

 

25 May (Part 1) - Bexley has a new Mayor. Conservative of course

I hope this does not come as too much of a shock, but I found last night’s Council meeting quite enjoyable and maybe even fun. It had nothing to do with the bar laid on for favoured guests because obviously I am not one of those.

All three Conservative Parliamentary candidates were there together with Edward Baxter (Erith & Thamesmead) looking a little like a fish out of water in such distinguished company. James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and David Evennett, Conservative Whip.

ToriesDavid Evennett provided me with the evening’s highlight. He came up to me, didn’t ask who I was, shook me warmly by the hand, said a few kind words over a minute or two before another shake of the hand and returning to his seat.

What a nice man he seemed to be. I hadn’t dreamed that Mr. Evennett might be a BiB reader. Good job there has in eight years never been a reason to be critical of David.

Just imagine if senior Conservative Councillors had displayed the same courtesies and common sense when BiB was first launched. Instead they ran tittle-tattling to the police, horrified at the thought of being criticised, thereby ensuring the continuation of BiB.

Not very clever are they?

David Evennett is obviously not to be lumped in with Teresa O’Neill and Co.


Pallen Borella ReaderSomeone else who probably shouldn’t be lumped in with Teresa O’Neill is Councillor James Hunt (Conservative, East Wickham) although to say so will probably do his Council career no good at all.

Opening mouth before engaging brain I directed a tasteless joke at James Hunt. He called me a “cheeky sod” but made it clear he was in no way offended. Another Conservative who knows how to keep in the public’s good books.

Not a great deal was said about Eileen Pallen’s time as Mayor, the mood was less celebratory than usual in view of the appalling events in Manchester.

Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, North End) proposed his ward colleague Brenda Langstead for Mayor but as already discussed, the Great Dictator has no interest at all in democracy so he was given short shrift.

Councillor Philip Read (Conservative, Northumberland Heath) proposed his ward colleague Peter Reader as Mayor which was exactly what Teresa O’Neill had ruled in advance.

His recommendation was a slightly risqué speech which dwelt on Councillor Reader’s time in the navy, “girl in every port” etc., and his “chat up techniques” for which Councillor Read was able to offer improvement advice. In seconding the proposal, Councillor Alex Sawyer continued with the theme referring to the canvassing of ladies in nightdresses. It was all good fun and one must hope that Councillor Reader thought so too.

Councillor Reader has been a Councillor in Bexley, on and off, since 1968 and the Tories voted for him unanimously.
Vote
New Mayor New Mayor

Pallen PallenCouncillor Pallen was given an award for a year of service and kept her departure speech commendably short.

Bexley Council’s Press Release.

 

24 May (Part 4) - Weak and wobbly

BaxterYou still wouldn’t think, at least not in Erith & Thamesmead, that there will be a General Election in two weeks’ time. I’ve seen not a single election leaflet and the only window poster I have spotted is at an address I know to be occupied by one of Teresa Pearce’s (Labour) staff members.

I have kept my eye on Edward Baxter’s website (Conservative) for any developments but it seems something of a mess to me. I have no idea what the Previous Events page is all about.

However I briefly spoke to him this evening, very briefly, I doubt he gave me even ten seconds during which time he promised that his leaflets would be along quite soon.

Ten seconds is not enough time to form a really reliable impression but I felt none of the charisma and enthusiasm that one could easily discern in his predecessor Anna Firth.


EventsAnna would have driven round to my house personally to make sure I had her latest leaflet. It will take a lot to persuade me to vote Conservative this time although a list of Jeremy Corbyn’s meetings with unsavoury people might just do the trick.

Despite that I don’t think Edward Baxter stands a snowball’s chance in hell in Erith & Thamesmead.

I’m not unhappy about that.

 

24 May (Part 3) - Sainsbury’s jam exhibition

Exhibition ExhibitionWhilst publicity may have been a last minute rush job the exhibition opened on time under the watchful eye of Andrew Bashford, the man without whose monumental misinformation back in 2009, Bexley-is-Bonkers would not exist.

While I was there he was being given a hard time over what was said to be inadequate cycle track provision.

I picked up a couple of leaflets which will be shown here as soon as time permits. Probably tomorrow.

Meanwhile I leave you with this brief extract.

Extract
I think we have all seen such promises loads of times before.

For time reasons I went to Sainbury’s by car. I was caught at three sets of lights (out of four) and held up on the Lensbury Way roundabout. Things could hardly get worse than they are now but Andrew Bashford will have found a way.

 

24 May (Part 2) - Exactly who is barking mad?

To be fair, I have no idea who Councillor Craske was talking about when he Tweeted yesterday but I don’t think it was me, there has been nothing especially contentious on BiB all month. I cannot check what Councillor Philip Read said which sparked everything off because he is paranoid about me seeing any of his pearls of wisdom and I am blocked from following his Twitter account.

I don’t know who blogged the other item either but the police confirmed that it emanated from Mrs. Craske’s net or phone account. Perhaps she did it but I rather doubt it.
Craske Craske

 

24 May (Part 1) - There’s democracy and then there is Teresa O’Neill’s Bexley

Bexley Council will hold its annual Jamboree this evening, two or more hours of cringeworthy self-congratulation over the successes of their outgoing Mayor, Eileen Pallen and the absolute wonderfulness of their chosen candidates for the year ahead, Councillor Peter Reader (Conservative, Northumberland Heath) with John Wilkinson (Conservative, Brampton) as his Deputy. Both decent enough chaps as far as I can tell.

The Labour party nominees will not get a look in. No one who votes Labour in Bexley will ever be represented by a Mayor which seems to be fundamentally unfair. A quarter of Bexley’s Councillors are Labour so why not a Labour Mayor every four years?

I wondered if this lack of democracy was commonplace and decided to scout around to see if I could find an exception to Bexley’s rule. I didn’t have to go far.

Bromley which is a staunchly Conservative Council is not afraid to see a Labour Mayor. In fact currently both the Mayor and her Deputy are Labour.

That can never happen in Bexley because we have a weak Leader in Teresa O’Neill who must be protected in every possible way.
Mayor Deputy
Her new Deputy will be Councillor Don Massey (Conservative, Rochester) who replaces Rob Leitch who failed to universally back the Tory line. He and Councillor June Slaughter (both Conservative, Sidcup) remembered that they were elected to serve the public first and not the borough’s Great Dictator.

Massey and O’Neill will make the perfect couple. One reported me to the police in 2011 for being critical of Councillors and the other followed suit last year. The 2011 incident got Bexley Police into trouble with the Independent Police Complaints Authority and the repercussions from last year are still ongoing.

 

23 May (Part 2) - Work started on 1st March and tomorrow Bexley Council will tell you what is going on

Notice HMWI knew the exhibition was coming at the end of May because the Abbey Wood Traders’ Association was told about it (I act as their secretary) by a man from Greenwich Council at their meeting on April 5.

There is therefore very little excuse for not giving notice of the Harrow Manorway improvements exhibition to be held tomorrow and Thursday in Sainsbury’s.

Bexley Council put up a notice on the Greenwich side of Wilton Road early this morning or possibly late yesterday.

They got around to Tweeting about it yesterday evening, better late than never.

TweetDon’t think it is a Consultation, the Harrow Manorway regeneration is all signed off and work has been ongoing very spasmodically for almost three months. Maybe there will be more activity next month, or maybe the month after that.

 

23 May (Part 1) - They were all smashed

OccasionsLesnes Abbey police Tweeted that a window was broken overnight.

It wasn’t this one because its owner didnְ’t think it was worth reporting.

A gang of boozed up hooligans at about 1 a.m. on Sunday morning street fighting with bottles and bricks apparently.

The first casualty following the recently completed regeneration project.

Tweet Window

 

22 May - Forget Thursday, now it’s Saturday

NetSo I woke up at six to find no net connection, what a pain. All those wires and switches to be checked.

Fortunately I know the technical director of my ISP pretty well and I am well equipped so he was able to get into my router’s back door (Auxiliary port) over a dial up modem and run tests which showed a problem somewhere upstream of here. He asked BT to rebuild the Fibre To The Cabinet Port Configuration. A few minutes ago they did and BiB is operational again.

An email from Teresa Pearce said that Update/Eventbrite has got the date of the E&T hustings wrong. What sort of shambolic outfit does that?

So here’s a new link for booking tickets.

Seems it’s now going to be on Saturday which suits me better, assuming my ticket is still valid.

This seems like a very phoney election to me. I've not received any leaflets, neither have any of my friends. One was emailed to me by a reader today.

It doesn’t say a lot but so far it beats all the others.
Borella
Maybe I will get a blue or purple one for balance soon.

 

21 May - Question Time in Thamesmead

HustingsAt the General Election two years ago there were no hustings in Erith & Thamesmead, as far as I can remember the Chairman being a Conservative activist did not go down too well with anyone and he stood down - or something - leaving would-be hecklers in limbo.

Maybe that won’t happen this year.

A group called Update News has arranged a debate for next Thursday evening in The Link in what used to be called Belvedere Road but recently renamed Bazalgette Way.

It’s under the flyover where the A2041 passes over the A2016.

Click the image to book yourself a ticket at Eventbrite.

Important! : See later blog.

 

20 May - Where do care workers come from?

So the Red Tories are going to tackle the care problem head on by robbing the thrifty of their houses with a Dementia Tax. Something has to be done about the problem but discouraging aspiration may not be the best way. Mrs. May will no doubt lose quite a lot of votes. I am still very much in floating territory if that is not a very mixed metaphor.

What concerns me about the Conservative’s big idea is that the home care services we will be asked to pay for are intolerably poor. I once thought my Aunt in East Ham might benefit from domiciliary care and Newham Council arranged some for me on a trial basis free for six weeks.

The care workers never arrived on time and lots of times the morning visitor arrived after the afternoon one and sometimes the later one would arrive after my Aunt’s normal bedtime. They also didn’t do anything which was in part my Aunt’s fault because she would usually tell them she didn’t need anything done.

All they did was fill in a log book - which I later managed to get hold of - with all the many jobs they supposedly had done. It was a work of total fiction. Approximately two and a half hours of help per week was going to cost very nearly £200 after the initial six weeks.

Is that what the Conservatives plan to inflict on those in need?

RowbothamCare services in Bexley are no better.

I spend one afternoon a week with a friend who is unfortunately confined to his orthopaedic chair or bed. He gets a care package provided by Bexley Council. When someone turns up to make his evening meal I usually leave because to watch these females (all those I have seen have been ladies) is embarrassing. Well it would be if I said what I feel like saying.

Where does Bexley find such incompetents?

My friend has very simple tastes, he is quite content with the plainest of meals. Scrambled egg on toast is about as sophisticated as things get. However his requests are well beyond the capabilities of the visiting females. One week I heard him say there were waffles in the freezer but they didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. It was the same the following week when he asked for toasted crumpet.

By coincidence he submitted a blog on the subject just 24 hours before the Dementia Tax was announced. This is it…


I last came out of hospital two months ago almost immobile and a care package was set up. I was to be given assistance with breakfast, lunch and evening meal all within a specified hour-long time slot.

Not once has anyone stuck to the schedule, lunch was often after 2 p.m. and the evening meal was usually around 4 p.m. Bexley Council tried to get things back on schedule but didn’t achieve much so I started sending them away and telling them to come back at the agreed time - after 17:30.

Breakfast should be easy for them. All I ask for is cereal and milk or orange juice. Lunch should also have been simple but I began to think Bexley’s contracted staff hadn’t any brains. Certainly they can’t read and don’t listen.

They simply couldn’t seem to grasp that my best crockery is not microwaveable and the plastic cereal bowls most certainly are not.

spaghettiA couple of evenings ago I asked for spaghetti hoops which can be heated in the microwave; the nearest they ever get to ‘cooking’. I asked the carer to empty the tin into the square plastic microwaveable dish which I knew was on the draining board and put it in the microwave; then to read the instructions for the cooking time.

I guess you are ahead of me, she emptied the tin into the plastic cereal bowl and put it in the microwave. Although my chair is close to the kitchen door I can’t actually see in there to correct mistakes.

From the kitchen came a plaintiff “how do I set the microwave?”. OK there are many different types but mine is an old one with a simple mechanical timer. I called out the simple instructions and heard a ping after about ten seconds. It should have been 90. I suggested stopping and starting again. This time I say everything very slowly and ask her to tell me which light comes on. All goes well - or so I thought

After it pinged again the spaghetti has to be stirred and given another minute. The oven pinged for a second time and in it came - in a plastic bowl melted almost beyond recognition. Needless to say the spaghetti was uneatable. Not a word of apology for wrecking the dish.

Total incompetence is almost the norm. Where do care companies get the staff from?


Err… maybe it comes from paying front line staff less than the minimum wage and putting the boss on £122,000 a year. Incidentally, the new man in charge of Social Care at Bexley Council has now been in post for four months and has yet to say a single word at any Council meeting. But maybe he is a dab hand with the spaghetti.

 

19 May - Three for the price of one

Nice work if you can get it
Councillor Michael Barnbrook (the Parish of Cliffsend in Kent if you are wondering) offered to buy me a drink on Wednesday evening, I should have known there would be a catch.

He turned up with a new printer in a box in one hand and his laptop in the other. The two didn’t want to talk to each other and he needed to print something urgently.

I must admit the printer was a bit of a fiddle to get going in part because it was controlled via an inconveniently placed LCD screen the size of a postage stamp. And what was the document that he was keen to get into the following day’s post?

ComplaintA complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner about Priti Patel paying her husband £25,000 for doing very little and him not disclosing his NASDAQ earnings.

Not sure how he will get on, the Commissioner has something of a reputation for defending malpractice by MPs.

Note: A bit of poetic licence here, Mick is always very generous at the bar.

Welcome to Abbey Wood
For years the old Harrow Inn site in Abbey Wood was an eyesore, but then Peabody bought it and it was enclosed by a high quality screen. It helps that Teresa Pearce and Danny Hackett liaise with Peabody regularly and are able to twist an arm or two.

Around the end of this year a planning application will be submitted, probably for shops and flats above, which means nothing much is likely to happen there for about a year, so why not decorate the screen?
Screen
Screen
I shall reserve judgment until it is finished but I don’t find it easy to read.

Crossrail
StationThe Crossrail photos attract a decent number of visitors - search ‘Abbey Wood Crossrail Index’ if anyone asks where they are - and more than 5,000 photos tell the construction story almost day by day since the temporary station opened on 26th October 2014.

But there is not much to see before that, an omission which is now remedied.

It’s not a daily record but a further year of history has now been added. You can see what a nice tree lined road Felixstowe Road used to be. Bet you had forgotten that.

In case you missed it you can also take a look inside the new station as it moves towards completion.

 

18 May (Part 2) - Going for Growth

PinocchioWhen Bexley Council talks about growth an image of Pinocchio usually flashes before my eyes but this time I am supposed to see the borough expanding - mostly upwards and in the north.

The borough’s plans were fully reported six weeks ago and today the consultation was launched.

Needless to say a Press Release was issued. Twelve ‘Roadshows’ are scheduled but the only one in Thamesmead is on a Wednesday afternoon in the somewhat isolated Thames Innovations Centre. The only all day exhibitions will be in Bexleyheath.

The Consultation runs until 14th July.

 

18 May (Part 1) - What have they done? Lab v Con in E & T

With the election being slow to start in the Erith and Thamesmead constituency and facing a dearth of election material it may be helpful to publish this achievement comparison of the two most likely to win candidates.


Teresa Pearce - Labour
Transport

• Campaigned relentlessly for the DLR to come to Thamesmead. It’s been announced by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, so she’s now pushing for it to extend to Belvedere.
• Teresa has been pushing for a lift at Erith Station, this is now supported by Bexley Council and other stakeholders and designs have been agreed so it’s nearer than it has ever been before.
• Teresa is currently challenging the Department of Transport on their attempt to reduce our train services to London terminals.
• Fought and won increased service on the 380 bus route during peak times.
• She fought to keep ticket offices open at Erith and Belvedere when they were on list for closure in 2012.
• Has got TFL to agree a new bus route that will link Woolwich Crossrail to Abbey Wood Crossrail then up through to Bexleyheath. Provisionally named as new route 301.
She has also got them to agree a route to link Belvedere station with Belvedere village. TFL are now also reviewing the route 422 after customers reported concerns about the service.
Housing
• Led for Labour on the Housing and Planning Bill, which resulted in government dropping some of the worst aspects of it such as the “Tenant Tax” which would mean that social tenants with a total household income of 40k would have to pay a market rent.
• Worked with local community groups to push the regulation of HMOs (homes of multiple occupancy) to the top of Bexley and Greenwich councils agenda.
• Teresa moved an amendment in Parliament to make sure that all rented homes are “fit for human habitation” but the Government voted it down
• Raised in parliament at PMQs that the board of Gallions had voted for it’s chief executive to receive a non-contractual redundancy pay-off of £397,000. The board were all subsequently sacked and new governance put in.
• Arranged a free legal advice surgery to assist people who live in leasehold or shared ownership properties
• Co-sponsored a proposal to end rip off letting fees and worked with cross party group to end “Revenge Evictions”.
• Changed Labour’s policy on housing to suspend the right to buy whilst we have a huge shortage of social housing.
Health
• She campaigned to stop GP’s using only 0845 numbers which are expensive to call from a mobile. Now all E&T surgeries have an alternative local number.
• Launched the Every Child A Lifesaver campaign to support her Private Member’s Bill to make emergency first aid education compulsory in all state-funded schools. Sadly was “talked out” by backbench Tories.
• Set up a Campaign Group for women with epilepsy who have taken the drug Epilim during pregnancy which can harm unborn children. Teresa got the NHS and drug company to increase the warnings on drug packets and launch a toolkit for GPs, pharmacies and other medical professionals to make sure women are warned.
• Set up a parliamentary campaign group for suffers on Lyme Disease after meeting Belvedere family whose daughter has suffered for many years due to misdiagnosis.
• Worked cross party on the issue of Air Quality and helped push it to the top of Sadiq Khan’s agenda.
• Recently forced NHS England to reverse their decision to stop 2nd stem cell transplants. This happened after joining with local mother who had been denied treatment.
Other Issues
• Ran a jobs fair at Belvedere Community Centre. Almost 400 people attended to meet with employers such as Lidl, Asda, Barclays, Met Police, Crossrail, City Airport and Hovis.
• Worked on the Scrap Metal Bill that helped drastically reduce the damage to communities caused by metal theft from railways, telephone cables and drain covers.
• Teresa took petition of 1,440 local people to Parliament to stop the plan to build flats on Erith’s Riverside Gardens, the plans were then dropped.
• Teresa stood up for the poorest consumers in Erith and Thamesmead by supporting a motion to introduce caps on the amount that payday and doorstep lenders such as Wonga.com can charge for credit. As member of Treasury Select Committee helped changed the rules for firms such as Wonga to make it fairer.
• Fought the Legal Aid changes and took part in sponsored walk to raise funds for local law Centre.
• Worked with Law Centre to change the way Job Centre advertised “self employed” jobs forcing applicants into insecure work.
• One of the first MPs to raise the issue for the WASPI in 2011 by tabling a motion in Parliament and sponsoring a Commons debate. Teresa has continued to press for this and for the Labour manifesto to include a commitment to compensate those affected.
• In five years on Work and Pensions Select Committee, Teresa championed the rights of pensioners, the low paid and the disabled.
• Was the originator of the idea for the Robinson Crusoe/Alexander Selkirk signpost in Erith.
• Assisted two young people from Erith and Thamesmead pitch their business to Sir Richard Branson in Virgin Pioneers competition which they won.
• Part of the “Save Abbey Wood Post Office” campaign and took a 1,000 signature petition to the minister.
• Worked with local councillors across the constituency to tackle anti-social behaviour.
• Worked in 2015 with small group of rural MPs to get new law “The Control of Horses Bill” which made three major changes to animal welfare laws and dramatically shortening the time before abandoned horses can be rescued from over two weeks to just four days.
Edward Baxter - Conservative
Err…

• Muddled the town of Bexleyheath with the borough of Bexley.
• Referred to Erith as Edith.
• Councillor on Westminster City Council.
• Deputy Cabinet Member for City Management and Transportation.
• Member of Policy Unit at Conservative Central Office.
• Member of the James Committee for Taxpayer Value in 2005.

 

17 May (Part 3) - It’s a Murky business

MurkyMay I urge you all to take a look at the latest situation regarding trains to Cannon Street? It looks like very bad news for Abbey Wood and Woolwich Arsenal.

Click image to visit fromthemurkydepths.

Nobody does these things better than Mr. Murky.

 

17 May (Part 2) - Where’s Edward? Who is Edith?

Has anyone around here seen Edward Baxter, the Anna Firth substitute from Westminster?

He seems to have deserted the electorate and the normally loyal army of Erith & Thamesmead Tories seems to have deserted him. As far as I can discover the two foot soldiers pictured with him are from Eltham and in Eltham.

Maybe that is why his website says he will give a powerful voice to Bexleyheath and Greenwich. Erith and Thamesmead surely or Bexley and Greenwich at a pinch, but Bexleyheath and Greenwich? Absolutely no way.

It's what comes from parachuting a stranger into town.
Edward Baxter Edward Baxter
TweetAnd another thing. I suspect everyone local has occasionally winced at the pronunciation of Erith just as I do, as a one time Eastender, when I hear some people mangle Plaistow, but Edith is a new one on me.

It doesn’t look good does it?

Bring back Anna, all is forgiven, Philip Read too! I have a feeling Teresa will hit the headlines on 9th June for bucking the national trend.

 

17 May (Part 1) - Sidcup. Once again the message must be, avoid it if you can

Sidcup is not often a destination for me except to take photographs of holes in the road and traffic at a standstill, it’s more a place to drive through as quickly as possible.

It was therefore a surprise to me when reports came in earlier in the week of unnecessary gridlock around Longlands Road.
Longlands
Apparently Bexley Council in its wisdom has instructed F.M. Conway to close the road entirely and there is no advance notice of that from the point of view of both time and geography.

One complainant has asked Andrew Bashford, famed for his unfortunate big fib to me, for an explanation. No doubt it will reach me in due course and we will all be able to see why he thought total closure was a good idea.

Maybe I should have warned a friend who came over to see me this morning.

TweetShe took 42 minutes to drive from Chislehurst war memorial crossroads to the turn off for The Green in Sidcup. I blamed Bexley Council and the Longlands Road closure and that may have been a contributory factor but the real problem was another of Thames Water’s holes in the ground. They are not due to fill it in and go away until next Monday.

So today’s message must be avoid Longlands Road, the centre of Sidcup, Albion Road, Gravel Hill and Bexley Village. Oh just play safe and avoid Bexley altogether!

 

16 May - Tories will grovel while Labour position is vindicated

Following yesterday’s devastating exposé of Bexley Council’s ‘Don’t be a Tosser’ campaign, Conservative Councillors will be rushing to distance themselves from the repercussions. First off the block was Conservative Louie French (Falconwood & Welling) who put out a long but conciliatory announcement on his Twitter feed.

Those of us who attend Council meetings know that littering and fly tipping in Bexley is a worse problem than the Council will admit to and it is difficult to argue that chasing offenders is not a good idea. On the other hand those same Council meetings have revealed that a profit must be made from litter enforcement. That is why around 1,200 people were quickly fined in the centre of Bexleyheath and only three in the whole of Thamesmead and Abbey Wood.

A busy town centre means easy pickings and an almost deserted Wilton Road does not. The Council says that litter enforcement is all about the footfall, which translates to it’s all about the money.

Despite their claims to the contrary and a couple of headline catching improvements, Bexley Council has reduced its street cleaning budget for this year and next.

Labour Councillors have no need to run away from an exposé of the cheating and entrapment methods employed by Bexley Council’s chosen contractor and they too have issued a statement as follows.


16 May 2017

Bexley Labour calls for investigation into litter enforcement allegations

Bexley’s Labour Councillors have asked for an urgent investigation into claims on the BBC’s Panorama programme that the council’s litter enforcement contractor offers an incentive scheme to its staff and has failed to follow DEFRA guidelines when issuing enforcement notices.

Speaking after the programme, Cllr Danny Hackett, Parliamentary Candidate for Old Bexley and Sidcup said “Nobody condones littering, but some shocking footage has emerged as part of this Panorama investigation of excessive and irresponsible behaviour from the enforcement officers. We have asked council officers to review the training these officers are provided.”

Cllr Stef Borella, Parliamentary candidate for Bexleyheath and Crayford said “It is clear that following seven years of austerity, the council feels the only option open to it is to use an enforcement contractor focusing on offences involving cigarettes and spitting, while ignoring other litter offences. This decision has been taken in an attempt to hide the reductions to the street cleansing budget of £105,000 in the 2017/18 budget and £340,000 in 2018/19.”


For the record; Labour Councillors moved a budget amendment Motion in March 2017 asking the Council to advise the Cabinet to reconsider its cuts to local street cleansing budgets. The motion was defeated with the support of Conservative and UKIP councillors.

Current figures show that 2,232 (97%) of the 2,290 recorded offences from October 2016 to February 2017 involved dropping a cigarette or spitting. The remaining 68 or 3% of offences involved dog fouling and all other litter offences. Some of the figures were reported on BiB a month ago. For more detail see page 2 of this PDF file.

 

15 May (Part 3) - Tosser on the radio?

Katie PerriorI used to listen to BBC Radio 4 all day long until the old radio with string and pointer tuning recently broke but its replacement has presets which makes LBC easy to find. Obviously it goes off when James O’Brien is on and Shelagh Fogarty can be annoying too, but I usually manage to tolerate the other presenters without leaping for the off switch. Not always!

I have another preset for Talk Radio but the digital sound quality can be pretty dire - all digital radio is - and I keep forgetting to listen to Julia Hartley-Brewer who amuses me on Twitter. Now I am going to have to remember that I must forget to listen to Talk Radio’s newest presenter - or election pundit as she appears to be.

She is Katie Perrior, late of Bexley Council and 10 Downing Street. Do I really want to hear her issuing forth from my loudspeaker? I think we know the answer to that.

 

15 May (Part 2) - Tosser on TV

TosserI can’t remember when I last watched the BBC’s Panorama, I suppose I must have done since Richard Dimbleby fooled the nation with his spaghetti trees spoof. But I did this evening.

The programme was about how Bexley Council is persecuting residents and smokers in particular. You really should catch it on iPlayer.

The litter enforcement is being done by a cowboy outfit called Kingdom. They heavily incentivise their staff to issue as many penalties as possible and teach them how to lie and cheat. It’s exactly what you would expect from Bexley Council.

For me one of the most damning comments by Kingdom was that they are not prepared to do business with Councils unprepared to come down hard on offenders. They won’t do business with Councils which would prefer to be reasonable.

I shall be looking at Deputy Director of Public Realm David Bryce-Smith with a jaundiced eye in future, I have given the waffling incompetent an easy time up until now. Not any more.

The idea to employ the disreputable Kingdom company came from the disreputable Batman enthusiast, Councillor Peter Craskeְ, as part of his ‘Don’t be a Tosser’ (like him) campaign.

The Evening Standard's report summarizes all the main points made by the Panorama programme.

 

15 May (Part 1) - Mr. Bill Stickers is being Hunted down

It might be seen as cowardice if BiB avoided all comment on elections but being a long time Conservative voter who discovered that too many local Tories are - well, what shall I say? - very nasty people, it is impossible to back them unconditionally.

Locally at least, the leading lights within the Labour party couldn’t possibly be described as nasty but I find myself wondering how they can possibly support some of the national party’s policies. I’ve no inside information but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some didn’t.

My situation falls between the proverbial rock and a hard place and my chosen solution is to attempt to be equally critical of all parties.

I think I can remember why I was first inclined to be a Conservative supporter; it wasn’t parental influence, my father voted Tory but my mother and all her siblings were staunchly Labour as one might expect of the children of an LNER crane driver from the Temple Mills (Stratford) marshalling yard.

What swayed me in my impressionable teenage years was walls daubed with political slogans. The desecration was always the work of the left and it convinced me that the Labour party was comprised mainly of hooligans. I eventually came to realize that Conservative hooligans stick to nobbling the police and the CPS or maybe rigging Libor rates which is nothing like as visible as daubing walls and resorting to violence against the establishment and the right. With Militant Tendency gone hooligans can only gravitate towards Labour.

Political misbehaviour still appears to me to be mainly the work of the left and I don’t like it now any more than I did in 1959 which is why I was disappointed to see the subject of Councillor James Hunt’s Tweet this morning.
Tweet Labour
James Hunt is making political capital out of some Labour stickers plastered over bus stops and phone boxes near Welling station. Exactly why he believes it is worth his time and energy I’m not sure. Does he think that Secretary of State James Brokenshire might be threatened by Labour candidate Danny Hackett?

For the past couple of weeks I have been trying to get hold of election material to post on BiB but up to very recently at least the candidates said they hadn’t got any. (I made up the two adverts which may appear at the head of this page.)

I called Danny Hackett on a poor mobile phone line and asked if his stuff had arrived yet. Most of it hadn’t and when I cheekily asked if I could have a sticker he admitted to having received his roll but it was locked away for safety in the boot of his car. If it wasn't possible to prise stickers out of Danny, where did those in Welling come from? It set me thinking.

Quite a lot of Conservatives jokers joined Labour under their £3 membership scheme in order to vote for Jeremy Corbyn, they are not above a bit of skullduggery. I discovered that I could buy a roll of 250 Labour stickers for a measly four quid. Would they? I wouldn’t put anything past a Bexley Tory.

TweetThe Conservatives are milking the stickers for all they are worth and haven’t any proof of where they came from. I was thinking of buying some Conservative stickers and plastering Lesnes Abbey but they are a rip off. Seven times the price of the Labour ones and smaller.

Councillor Craske claims it has cost the taxpayer money to have the stickers removed but that looks like a finger nail job to me. The Council’s team would surely have used some solvent.

Conservative Sticker
It’s all a stupid Tory storm in a teacup. Some idiot, maybe a Bexley Conservative idiot - it’s not as though there is a shortage of them - has quite likely bought or otherwise purloined some stickers and painted the town red.

The Tories, you would think they might have something more intelligent to do right now, are also complaining that Danny Hackett hasn’t apologised for the stickers which he didn’t even know about until James Hunt brought them to his attention.

I think I might phone Danny again and ask him to apologise if I get some apologies too.

PigsOne from the Leader of Bexley Council, Teresa O’Neill following her puerile complaint to the police that I had been “criticisng Councillors” (aw diddums!) and - from my February 2012 meeting with the Borough Police Commander - that I had threatened arson and violence against Bexley Council. Someone else had quoted Mary Shelley's pitchforks and flaming torches metaphor.

Perhaps Councillor Peter Craske could apologise for allowing someone to use his internet connection and his wife’s computer (or phone) to post obscenities to the web in my name. (Recently confirmed to me by the police.)

And what about Councillor Don Massey apologising for his malicious allegation of harassment against me for referring to what was already all over the web anyway?

Pigs might fly. This Conservative says “tell ’em to go and stuff themselves Danny”.

 

14 May (Part 2) - Oh the irony!

Some of our Councillors are hilarious on Twitter. After Councillor Hackett Tweeted that his party had set up “a brilliant stall” in Sidcup, John Davey retorted “What are you selling, Tony Blair war memorabilia, Gordon Brown bank investments, Milliband tombstones or Corbyn white flags?”

I don’t suppose Councillor Hackett would fully appreciate the joke but surely even he would grudgingly admit it was a witty response. I think I may have added that Gold Bars would not be on sale because Gordon Brown has already flogged them off at a knock down price, but there is a limit to what can be done with 140 characters.

John Davey’s preferred form of Twitter humour would appear to be the clever one liner but Councillor Peter Craske appears to specialise in the purest of irony.
Tweet Blog spot
The ‘black’ comment is the only part of an original document traced to Councillor Craske’s telephone line that one can perhaps get away with publishing freely. Other parts of it were far more extreme.

 

14 May (Part 1) - Sitting on a gold mine

It’s been a very busy weekend for Network Rail at Abbey Wood. Tomorrow’s commuters will see a new footbridge at the end of the platform and a rather imposing roof - or at least the basics of one - over the stairs from the main concourse down to the North Kent line platform. The first section flew like a massive Noah’s Ark high over Harrow Manorway yesterday morning. The stairs will not be in use until October obviously.

Further down the line miles more fat cable has been drawn in and an extra power line gantry or two has been installed. In two days, lucky Abbey Wood residents will have seen the value of their houses go up by one thousand pounds at least.

CrossrailAccording to Hamptons Estate Agents, click image for source document, Abbey Wood has seen the biggest price increase this year along the whole of the Elizabeth Line.

I’m not surprised. I’m not one for looking at house prices each week, but my recollection is that prices here - certainly where I live - stagnated relative to other parts of London for the whole of the 1990s. £74,000 in 1987 and around £125,000 in the early 2000s.

Everyone was amazed when one identical to mine sold for £265,000 in 2006 but the prices dropped back quite a lot soon afterwards and have recovered only in the last two or three years.

One not very different to mine was up for sale at £450,00 at the beginning of this year and the owner told me it went for even more.

Wonderful for whoever I might name in my will but not a lot of fun for young families - or any other sort of buyer come to that.

This borough has been deprived of good transport links for far too long and much of that is down to Bexley Council which turned down the chance of new transport links for far too long.

Now the Council wants to knock down half of Abbey Wood’s new station to extend Crossrail  to Slade Green and beyond. Every time I mention that to Network Rail staff their eyes glaze over and they wisely avoid giving any sort of answer.

 

13 May (Part 3) - The long and the short of it

SawyerIt’s not only The Times which has got hold of the Priti Patel story, the Daily Mail and Councillor Michael Barnbrook are on to it too.

It is of course the same old story rehashed. Three jobs Sawyer is the theme. Part-time office manager for his Government Minister wife, consultant for Nasdaq and chasing motorists in Bexley.

The former Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life says the Nasdaq job should definitely have been declared while Alex Sawyer and the present Parliamentary Commission for Standards have said the rules are only for guidance. The present Parliamentary Commissioner has quite a record for protecting MPs from the public rather than the reverse.

Councillor Barnbrook who is something of an expert in bring down MPs (17 so far) is going to put the Commissioner to the test, he is right now drafting a formal letter of complaint about both of them.

 

13 May (Part 2) - Mr. Brown, what a clown!

You will have seen the news reports by now featuring the headmaster of Blackfen School for Girls who ruined his Year 11 pupils’ last day at school. The humourless numbskull refused them admission because to celebrate their entrance into the real world they sewed some sequins on their collars.

It was their last day man, grow up and take your head from your backside!

CapThe only thing that struck me as a bit odd is that their last day at school was in the middle of May. Mine was 21st July 1961 and I only remember a couple of things about it.

We had been made to wear a silly cap every day for seven years. It was a strict rule, deviation from which merited a detention but on the last day we agreed we were not going to wear them. Doctor John Arthur Bourne the Headmaster, MA and Cantab as he always proclaimed himself, didn’t say a word. Neither did anyone kick up a stink when we walked out at lunchtime and went to the pub. Maybe that is why I can’t remember much of the day, it was my first ever glass of ale.

I can look back on my school days and remember my Headmaster as a strict but humane old gentleman. He was in fact only 48 at the time which I didn’t discover until I read his obituary notice back in 2002. But he seemed to be an old man to me. My photos of him only serve to confirm the view. We must have aged him.

No one is going to look back nostalgically on Mr. Matthew Brown in either five or 56 years time and think him either humane or a gentleman. Miserable old sod will be his lasting epitaph.

The mother of a pupil attending Blackfen School told me that one ‘improperly’ dressed girl was allowed in. She was wearing rainbow stickers, badges and braces but had the perfect excuse. She claimed to be transgender - or maybe it was a boy dressed as a girl? It’s something that seems to have been missed from the newspaper reports.

At the time of writing there are 75 comments on this story on the Newsshopper website.

 

13 May (Part 1) - Contrast and Compare

The more one gets to know local Conservative politicians the more that long term Tories like me - chucked out of a Labour party meeting in 1959 for heckling - may begin to feel that they should find another home for their vote.

A couple of weeks ago Bexley UKIP was making a song and dance about Teresa Pearce (Labour, Erith & Thamesmead) paying her husband Paul a fortune for his role as her part-time office manager. The UKIP story was complete balderdash. Teresa pays Paul nothing for that role and not a lot when he takes over full-time for other staffs’ holidays etc. Something between nothing and £5,000 according to IPSA.

Perhaps UKIP should have turned their fire towards Priti Patel (Witham, Essex) who employs her husband, Bexley Councillor Alex Sawyer (Conservative, St. Mary’s). Priti is the President of Erith & Thamesmead Conservative Association. Alex was also on its Committee until recently.

SawyerAlex Sawyer not only gets £22,615 of Bexley's taxpayers' cash for persecuting motorists, he also gets a big fat sum for a few hours a week in Mrs.  Sawyer’s office. (Click image for more details.)

Getting on for fifty grand a year for part time work might be easy money but it doesn’t make Sawyer fabulously rich so he obviously needs another job. Not quite in George Osborne territory but at least one more.

Alex Sawyer’s is at NASDAQ, the stock exchange, where he’s a consultant. In true Bexley Tory fashion, according to The Times, he failed to disclose his outside interest to IPSA as is required by law.

I have formerly excluded Alex Sawyer from the list of Bexley Cabinet Members I regard as fundamentally dishonest. Maybe I should think that out again.

If one Googles 'Bexley Council Register of Interests’ it leads to this page…
Register
Why? Not exactly friendly or transparent is it? (Last line.)

Maybe if Elwyn Bryant and I booked an appointment to inspect the Register, Councillor Peter Craske could write an obscene blog about it.

Note: If one hunts around enough the 2014 Register of Interests can be found on Bexley’s website.

 

12 May (Part 2) - Parliamentary Election Candidates and Agents

This may be what Bexley’s northerners are waiting for. The full list of E&T election candidates. UKIP is back!

Election

Click or scroll to see it all.

Respectively : Conservative. UKIP. Green. Independent. Christian People’s Alliance. Labour. Lib Dem.

 

12 May (Part 1) - Who the hell is Edward Baxter anyway?

There appears to be remarkably little information available about Erith & Thamesmead's Conservative General Election candidate. Some pages Indexed by Google are no longer available but not the confirmation that he has prestigious connections to Westminster which go well past the aspirations of the voters he will now wish to cultivate.

This is probably the best political info I have been able to find so far. It is no longer available on the web. I wonder why.
Edward Baxter

Click image above to enlarge centre portion.

 

11 May (Part 4) - Dentist appointment cancelled

The election nomination deadline has come and gone and the only information I have is that the dentist chickened out. It seems likely that Erith & Thamesmead will be blessed by some posh Toryboy probably from the shires. Just what E&T needs. Whatever did poor Anna do to drive Conservative HQ to the edge of insanity?

Open a bottle of the best plonk Teresa!

 

11 May (Part 3) - Beyond the barriers. A look inside the new Abbey Wood station

CrosrailI was thrilled and privileged to get an invitation from Network Rail to venture inside Abbey Wood's new and massive landmark, the Crossrail station due to open in only five months time.

My guides, Network Rail’s PR lady and Raj Pathak the always helpful senior site manager showed me the bare walls of the offices and the ticket windows and the shops and toilets opposite. The wooden roof could be seen in all its glory.

At the weekend a similar roof will go over the stairs to the Crossrail platform and the footbridge at the western end of that platform should be carefully lowered into place.

There is no time for slacking!

 

11 May (Part 2) - Creating chaos while making money

Money boxI am a pretty cautious sort of chap, I’ve been driving for 55 years and not been sent a single parking fine or speeding fine. The only time I was ever stopped by a policeman was in deepest Wales where an old lady had missed the only bus of the day and he asked me to give her a lift into town.

But it doesn’t stop me believing that Councils paint the roads yellow because they are after your money and in nearly every case it has absolutely nothing to do with safety.

Bexley is banking on raising half a million a year from its Welling cash cows. (Thanks to Finance Director Alison Griffin for letting the cat out of the bag.)

Despite my care I was caught in a yellow box junction for far too long exactly two weeks ago today. I was at a crossroads in Newham and wanted to turn right, which I thought would be OK. As I moved off an amber gambler shot across in front of me and stopped more or less where I had planned to go. He then calmly got out of his van to unload a parcel. So there I was stuck where I felt I shouldn’t be for far to long.

My friend Mr. Mustard who runs a website about such things and how Councils all over London abuse and entrap motorists assured me that I couldn’t possibly be done for what happened and I haven’t been, but what if I had decided to free up the junction by turning off my right indicator and going straight ahead?

The whole system, as implemented by uncrupulous Councils, is deliberately designed to be unfair.

There are three yellow box junctions in Welling all within the space of 100 metres or thereabouts. On bends too.

You come across the first one and it is not until you are almost upon it that you can see what lies ahead. Then there is a bus stop sandwiched between the next two yellow boxes.

Last Friday what lay ahead for me was two 51 buses, one behind the other. One had broken down. There was space to pass them but it was quite impossible to see if the junction ahead was clear. So everyone had to sit there like lemons until one bus moved off which was several minutes.

SawyerYellow box junctions and buses cause chaos in Bexleyheath on a daily basis.

If you are in Danson Road heading for Brampton Road via Crook Log and Danson is congested, those in the know cut through the back streets to Upton Road to avoid it all and then head left back towards Crook Log.

It creates a constant stream of traffic so that those emerging from Broadway do not stand much chance of making progress. If the first vehicle in the queue is a bus the driver stands no chance and why should he risk a fine?

He can just sit there creating pollution for as long as it takes. Why should he care about also creating a queue all the way back into town?

And why should Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer care either? You lot keep electing him.

 

11 May (Part 1) - Where’s the dentist?

MPsIt would be a brave - no foolhardy - man who placed a bet on this pair not being elected as Conservative MPs in Bexley. They are pictured here after handing in their nomination papers on Tuesday. Where’s the third constituency candidate?

I don’t know anything about either MP. No favourable reports have ever come my way and practically nothing negative either.

I know that James Brokenshire was in chocolate teapot territory when Elwyn Bryant asked for assistance when it looked pretty certain that Councillor Craske committed a crime against both him and me and without much doubt Bexley police did their utmost to ensure the Councillor was never charged.

Eight police officers are now in serious trouble because of that but we got to that position only because Teresa Pearce, the Erith & Thamesmead MP (Labour Parliamentary candidate?), helped me all the way.

The complaint against them is currently looking very good from my perspective but less so for certain police officers. Interviewed under caution!

So far in this election campaign I have not received a single leaflet except to say Teresa (or more likely one of her team) called but I was out.

Nothing from the E&T Tories which is only to be expected. Former candidate and spokesman Anna Firth is expunged totally from their web and social media pages and there is no sign of her replacement, the much rumoured dentist.

Do I care? No. It’s unlikely to happen but it would be good if no Tory stood in Erith & Thamesmead at all and Teresa Pearce was assured of victory, however the arithmetic makes that far from certain otherwise. She will need all the support she can get.

The dentist better not be a Remoaner or he can kiss goodbye to my vote.

 

10 May (Part 2) - Breaking the news blackout

One of BiB’s longest serving contributors is a lady from Bexleyheath and that is all the identification clues you are going to get except that Bexley Council once threatened to report her mothering skills to Social Services. I have long known why and would love to explain but it would probably be too big an ID clue. Suffice to say Bexley Council's actions were despicable and provably dishonest.

As a result of her experience the same lady has taken a close interest in the injustice meted out by Social Services elsewhere and she has asked if I could publicise a case which has occupied a lot of her time for the past year or so.

There is no direct connection to Bexley Council apart from the fact that the solicitor to the Council involved is said to live here and this story is on BiB only because my long time supporter asked for it. It’s pay her back time.

Eugene LukjanenkoOne of her friends is the concert pianist Eugene Lukjanenko - no I had never heard of him either - who lives in Kent.

Like so many unfortunate parents, Eugene was on the receiving end of false child abuse allegations, taken to Court and was relieved when the judge threw the case out. However the inhumanity of some Social Workers is well known and those at Medway Council took his son away for adoption. It happens all the time and Bexley has certainly not been an exception.

Part of Medway Council’s justification is that Eugene's father was a Holocaust survivor and his son must by definition be mentally scarred. Eugene had suffered anti-Semitism as a child so he must be mentally inadequate too. Where do Councils recruit these cretins from?

There’s not a lot of point in repeating the full story here, there is plenty of detail on the web.

Eugene has not taken the injustice lying down and he has been very active on Facebook and Twitter.

Last Saturday he went a step further and climbed on to the roof of an MP’s house. It was Edward Timpson, MP for Crewe and Nantwich who lives in the nearby village of Kelsall. Why the Conservative MP for Crewe? He is (was?) Children's Minister.

The police went straight into their political bias mode so familiar to readers of BiB. The MP’s family was moved out, the ambulance and paramedics were sent away, the police didn’t care if Eugene slipped and injured himself and basically they starved and froze him over more than 48 hours. No food, no water and no blanket. More sinister was the carefully engineered news black out.

Mr. Lukjanenko was forced down yesterday and is in Court today facing a possible prison sentence. Yet again Social Workers think they know better than criminal courts. I feel inclined to borrow one of John Kerlen’s four letter words.

The only publicity appears to be on Facebook, there is nothing in the local press This short blog will help put that injustice right.

 

10 May (Part 1) - Accidents by design and waiting to happen

Albion Road Albion RoadIf you are still driving around Bexleyheath get ready for more chaos. How long have the road works been going on for now? Off and on, mainly on, for more than four years.

The traffic order that first said that Albion Road would be closed was issued in 2012 and Albion Road is no better now.

From next week the chaos will be extended to Gravel Hill. The traffic lights at the eastern end of Albion Road and those outside the Council’s £42 million edifice are to be ripped out and replaced by roundabouts. The details are in yet another Press Release.

Even Bexley Council admits that the work will have “a significant impact on journey times”. With luck Mr. Bashford’s roundabout design will allow a bus to go around it (unlike the one in Wickham Lane) and be better than Ruxley Corner which had similar problems.

Doesn’t he know that there is software available which can check for all that sort of thing? Probably not. Ruxley Corner was so badly designed that it was featured on a national website.

l am inclined to think that roundabouts might work better than the lights but how will they cope with pedestrians? Both are part of my walk to the Council Offices.

Whilst a pair of roundabouts may prove to be a good idea, narrowing roads rarely is. A vehicle and traffic consultant to Governments worldwide - Austria has just been added to the list - told me that narrow roads cause more accidents because there is less space in which to recover from mistakes. To be honest I don’t think you need to be an expert on anything to know that but apparently Andrew Bashford doesn’t.
Albion Road Albion Road Albion Road Albion Road
I can’t believe how narrow Albion Road has been made. (Oh yes I can.)

All photos taken yesterday.

 

9 May (Part 3) - Time for an update

IE8Most days there is a single visitor to Bonkers using Internet Explorer 8. That browser is eight years old and has only limited support for HTML5. BiB has been mainly in HTML5 format for a couple of years and wholly so for at least six months.

The extra facilities HTML5 allows are gradually being introduced and some are most definitely not compatible with Internet Explorer versions earlier than 10.

Code changes were made yesterday which might give users of earlier Internet Explorer versions a worse experience than before. I’m not sure of the precise effect because I haven’t got an old version to test on but if you are the IE8 user and see differences you will know the reason why.

Both Chrome and Firefox offer extensive support for HTML5 as does Safari for Apple devices.

 

9 May (Part 2) - Five long years

Five years ago Bexley Council was in the midst of its battle to quell all criticism. They failed to make their harassment charge against me stick so they turned their fire on another blogger.

The result was that on this day in 2012 I was in Bromley Magistrates court to hear CPS lawyer Denise Johnson spout a load of nonsense which was sucked in hook line and sinker by Judge Julia Newton. The lie began with Councillor Melvin Seymour (Conservative, Crayford) who told Bexley police that his neighbour John Kerlen had encouraged his Twitter followers to put dog faeces through Seymour’s letter box. He hadn’t actually seen the Tweet, it was only tittle tattle from another Councillor.

The police knew the allegation was untrue because they had a copy of the original Tweet but they went along with it anyway. The original didn’t mention dog faeces and it didn’t identify anyone, let alone a Bexley Councillor - but it did casually throw in the C word.

I have no doubt that the police were under instructions from Bexley Council as they have been on three occasions involving BiB.

Cabinet Member Philip Read went to the police tittle tattling too but his allegation was very quickly judged in Court to be mistaken. I would have judged it malicious.

The police were so confused by Bexley Council’s request that my name was included in the papers that went to the CPS and as a result Bexley-is-Bonkers made minor headlines as far away as Northern Ireland.

VerdictThe second part of this cutting from the Independent newspaper was totally and absolutely untrue. John Kerlen never did make a second Tweet, that was a fabrication by Bexley police.

Unfortunately the lies ensured that John Kerlen was found guilty of making a malicious communication and he was given Community Service and a five year Restraining Order. He was prevented from saying anything about Councillor Seymour. The Judge had totally swallowed the inaccurate prosecution story.

John had done most of his Community Service before a more competent barrister was able to get another judge to see sense and find him Not Guilty, but even in Woolwich Crown Court there were references to me.

The incompetence of the Crown Prosecution Service really was beyond belief.

Now that the five years has passed I imagine that John Kerlen will have a few four letter words lined up for Members of Bexley Council. Dolt, fool, prat, scum, jerk, twit, dork, goon to name but a few.

 

9 May (Part 1) - Out, and out and about

Erith & Thamesmead. Back stabbers win
Today’s political news must be that Anna Firth has obviously lost her battle to be Erith & Thamesmead’s Conservative candidate. Her Twitter page no longer says anything about being E&T spokesman and her own website now contains nothing of interest, well to be fair it has a picture of Theresa May on it, so not really worth visiting.

I am sure that Councillors Philip Read and John Davey did their best for her but some will think that might be the kiss of death. Nevertheless, whatever your views on Anna surely one must sympathise with more than two years of doing what she thought was best for the area and being brought down through being on the winning side of the EU debate.

Conservative HomeOne can only assume that the people who run Conservative Central Office - as it used to be called - are a bunch of back stabbing cads who are still sore about Brexit.

So it’s welcome to the new man whoever he is. May I give you an electoral tip? Do not ever make friends with all the candidates at an election; it creates the most enormous dilemma when it comes to a decision on where to put your cross.

Click image for further insight into the unscrupulous back stabbers.


The Ridgeway
It’s quite a long walk to The Ridgeway and it’s a long time since I took a look at what Bexley Council is doing to improve the sewer topping path. They are several years behind Greenwich Council which upgraded their section several years ago.

Here’s a few pictures of not a lot going on.
Ridgeway Ridgeway Ridgeway Ridgeway
The path pedestrians are asked to use is actually the adjacent road. For more information on the path there is a Facebook Group.

I bet Sewell Road was called something else when it was first built.

Demolition of Tavy Bridge
My decision to document the demolition of Tavy Bridge and the associated library has proved to be premature. I rushed there when the notices went up on 12th April because I naively thought work would start shortly afterwards, but nothing has happened. My expectation that 28th May would be a suitable date for their publication is going to be well wide of the mark.

PlanningMaybe it is because Bexley Council forgot to ask itself for planning permission.


Lesnes Abbey
It’s been said before but the restyled Lesnes Abbey park really does look very good although it is still not finished, what does that make it, two years late? Nearly three? I have lost count.
Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes
The cafeteria was completely deserted but what else would you expect on such a dull day? My solar system which draws graphs shows we are currently in the longest period of consecutive sunless days since November 2015. If tomorrow repeats that pattern it will be the longest period for six years.

Will there ever be an official opening of a completed Lesnes Abbey Park? I have my doubts given that I can be in the Monk’s Garden in fewer than two minutes from home. Would Bexley Council risk a repeat of the Bexley Bridge opening ceremony where the Mayor ran away rather than appear in my viewfinder?

Crossrail
CrossrailIf you should be wondering where the occasional Crossrail report has gone, the answer is there is nothing much to see. Fences everywhere and a lot of the work has moved inside the station building.

The picture shows yet another wall going up.

 

8 May (Part 3) - The “reprehensible” Terry Osborne. Assistant Chief Executive of Bexley Council

Some of my regular correspondents took a pretty dim view about Mr. Akin Alabi, Bexley Council’s Head of Legal being unknown to any of the UK’s legal bodies. The Bar Council said he wasn’t a barrister and the Law Society said he wasn’t a solicitor.

AlabiWhen Mr. Alabi was recruited the terms of employment insisted that he must be one or the other.

Questions were asked of Bexley Council and as is their way they dodged and dived to avoid answering any of them. Eventually their evasions, sometimes less than honest evasions, created deep suspicions among those asking the questions. Foremost among those suspicions was that the question dodgers must be a bunch of crooks with something to hide.

That may be true but my take on the matter was different. I thought it more than likely that Bexley Council had abandoned its criterion that the appointee must be a qualified lawman.

The cynic in me thought that it would suit Bexley Council to take legal advice from someone who had no need to adhere to the strict stipulations of the UK’s professional bodies.

Bexley Council could have pulled the rug from beneath their critics by admitting they'd recruited a man unrecognised by the UK legal profession and there would be nothing anyone could have done about it. ignoring their own recruitment procedure is not a crime. Masquerading as a solicitor when unqualified is.

But transparency is not part of Bexley Council’s vocabulary. There have been innumerable examples of them lying rather than admit they might have deviated from the law or their own rules in some minor way which few would care about. Being crooked comes naturally to them as was amply illustrated by the Cheryl Bacon case.

One of Mr. Alabi’s principal roles is to be Monitoring Officer, a sort of judge within the Council and that job is being taken away from him. About time too some will say; but is his replacement likely to be any better?

OsborneWell Terry Osborne does appear to be a qualified solicitor but will she adopt the high standards expected of a solicitor? Things don’t look good in that regard.

In a complex argument between solicitors a black African lady alleged discrimination by Brent Council regarding her job application. An Employment Tribunal agreed that she had been less favourably treated than the white applicants but only one of the three judges said it was on racial grounds.

It was ruled that Brent’s solicitor Ms. Terry Osborne gave preferences to her friends and that her behaviour had been ׅ“reprehensible”.

There was an appeal by the black applicant but it was ruled out of time over which the Tribunal expressed “some regret”. It said that Brent Council “emerges with no credit whatsoever”.

Brent Council defended Terry Osborne's position. The case was documented by the Law Society Gazette.

A reprehensible individual who does favours for her mates will be exactly what Bexley Council would be searching for. Top marks to the recruitment agency which found her.

 

8 May (Part 2) - Too posh to push for an Asian

I was speaking to someone more politically astute than I am who suggested that an Asian dentist might be exactly what Erith & Thamesmead Conservatives need.

There is a big ethnic population in the North of the borough and a bus ride at the right time of the day might convince you that you are on a foreign holiday (†). Perhaps those people could be persuaded to abandon their habitual political choices for the Asian dentist.

At the same time a professional brown man might not scare away traditional Tory voters. He could appeal to twice the number attracted to a lady from Sevenoaks however good a Conservative she might be.

One of the problems with the people who control Erith & Thamesmead Conservative Association is that they are all well to do people who definitely don’t want to live there. Its President is Priti Patel, MP for Witham in Essex and Minister for Overseas Development. Why?

I’ve nothing against Witham - my great great grandfather was born there - or Priti Patel but just look at how the E&T Facebook page is illustrated.
E and T
Two Government ministers, nice but posh Anna Firth and two of the most disreputable Councillors you can find anywhere. (Just to be clear, I don’t consider Councillor Davey - centre rear - to be disreputable. Bumbling perhaps but I’ve not seen any evidence of dishonesty.)

So the E&T Tories are led by posh people who hard core Labour supporters will never vote for and a bunch of Tories that most BiB readers know only too well. That line up will not win them any converts.

† Before someone calls me a Brexit supporting racist - actually they have already - the job I was doing earlier was for a Nigerian and it was far from being the first time.

 

8 May (Part 1) - A bit more waffle before BiB gets back to business

I was away all weekend and most of the blogging activity was pre-prepared. Now I am back starting my 31st year in Bexley I find there are lots of little things to attend to and I’m not sure where to start. My sister’s net connection being down may have to take priority.

Yesterday I went off on a largely off-topic tangent which probably went down like a lead balloon in some places but on the other hand it produced a few friendly responses. I have never been afraid to take on DIY jobs and I enjoy doing them - but maybe not as much as I used to - and refusing help is just not me, hence lots done for neighbours and the like. I have another job scheduled for about 4 p.m. this afternoon. Obviously not for the finger jabber who blew me out after I accidentally splashed water on his car.

Among the supportive messages - thanks everyone - was an enquiry about why this website is called Bexley-is-Bonkers. The reason is buried on some long forgotten page already but it is an easy one to answer. On 4th June 2009 when I was contemplating creating a website, Councillor John Davey was on EU election duty outside the polling station in Fossington Road, Belvedere.

He told me he considered road planning in Bexley was “Bonkers”. I like to be fair about these things, so in mitigation let me say I believe he was referring to TfL, then under Ken Livingston’s control. But that is where the name came from.

Creating a website - not a blog at that stage - moved from contemplation to reality when Andrew Bashford, Bexley’s Traffic Engineering Manager, told me a very big fib.

He said in writing that the road design Councillor Davey called “bonkers” was in full accordance with Transport Research Laboratory recommendations; when it was no such thing.

I know that because my son was head of the department which produced the TRL report and when he next visited confirmed to me that the road design was about as bad as it could be.

Not long ago I met one of Andrew Bashford’s underlings off-duty and on neutral ground. I knew who he was but he didn’t know me so I introduced myself. Quite likely he regretted it afterwards but Mr. Bashford’s colleague immediately blurted out “Andrew Bashford absolutely hates you. Something I regards as a bit of an accolade.

I like to think that knowing that there is always a risk that Council shenanigans will appear on the web makes BiB partly responsible for improving standards on Bexley Council. It’s a whole year since they last reported me to the police for nothing and with eight Bexley (and former Bexley) police officers under investigation for their part in covering Bexley Council’s crimes maybe they will not be so keen to tread that path in future.

I suspect Bexley Council also knows just how wide news of their activities can go which is why employees and Councillors have all been told not to talk to me. Ten days ago when I was taking photos in the street I was asked why. I said they were for Bexley is Bonkers and the reply was “OK I will take a look this evening”. No explanation of what BiB is was necessary.

Much the same thing again today. Someone who I know who looks at the blog very occasionally told me she asked a friend if she had seen Bexley is Bonkers and the reply was “everyone knows Bexley is Bonkers”.

I frequently feel like giving it all up but I suppose I can’t just yet. Mind you, much more of this waffle and readers will be driven away. There are more thoughts about the Erith & Thamesmead Tory dentist to come later and the reason why the new Assistant Chief Executive will be exactly what Bexley Council is looking for - but not a breath of fresh air unfortunately. I’m behind the times with the Crossrail photos too.

Right now, it’s the latest job for a neighbour and touch wood, I think my sister’s net connection is working again. A broken Netgear router by the looks of things. Good job I had given her a spare one.

 

7 May (Part 2) - 30 years in Bexley and my name is mud

Today is the 30th anniversary of me becoming a resident of Bexley which I am using as an excuse for self-indulgence. No one forces you to read this. 😊

Before Bexley home was Leyton (then administratively part of Essex) for six years. Farnborough (Hampshire) for nine. Fleet (also in Hampshire) for eight, Aldershot three years and Fleet for another 15. Then Plumstead for three which was more than long enough for me.

It’s an uncomfortable thought given the struggle that young people have these days to get on the housing ladder that I paid £69,000 for a three bedroomed detached house with a mortgage of £31,000. Mine was the most expensive three bedroomed detached on the pretentiously named Priory Gardens opposite Lesnes Abbey because it was on the biggest plot of land. I was lucky because the prices went up by £5,000 the day after I signed the contract and all my neighbours missed the deadline.

Only snobs and estate agents still use the name Priory Gardens.

It was a toss up between Bromley and Bexley which both had at the time very nearly the cheapest Rates (Council Tax) in London. I backed the wrong horse because Bexley’s Council Tax is not far off being dearest in London now and the price of houses in Bromley has appreciated twice as fast.

For all that it hasn’t been such a bad move although I suspect I would have moved away when I retired from BT if it was not for the old lady in East Ham. I think she is going to outlive me!

For the first nineteen years no one on my side of the road moved away so it was like a friendly little family, then one house was sold to a man who lives in Lagos who is apparently content to see - but not often - his investment go into decline. Leaking gutters, water tank overflowing non-stop for years, literally, and fences that blew away two years ago and not replaced. Neither owner nor tenant has trimmed the hedge or cut the front lawn even once in all that time so the responsibility falls to me. In fact no one but I have trimmed the hedge in all those 30 years.

I’m not too bothered by it as it’s more important to maintain good relationships but having no rear fences is an annoying security risk.

Despite the absentee landlord it has been a pleasant little community and over the years I have replaced other people’s gutters, installed a kitchen - all the difficult bits anyway - been up on a neighbour’s roof rigging a TV aerial, repaired a central heating boiler more times than I remember and not always been paid for the spare parts.

I’ve helped move conservatories and moved sheds and taken down at least four dangerous trees in neighbouring gardens. I gave up on two of them and hired a professional when it was obvious my neighbour couldn’t afford to do so. I even dug the hole into which went some recently deceased ashes. Maybe I am seen as an easy touch.

I could go on far longer and maybe one day I will compile a comprehensive list but a year ago everything went wrong.

It began when someone asked me if I had watched the latest series of Game of Thrones and I replied that I had and found it disappointing compared to earlier series. I nearly lost an eye!

A finger jabbed vigorously towards my face while its owner screamed “I have told you before not to give the plot away”. Maybe he had but I didn’t give anything away and if he was that worried why risk asking the question in the first place?

I put it to the back of my mind and hoped it was a one off and assumed relations had gone back to normal a week later when I was called round to attend to a plumbing problem that was stopping water draining away in the wet room. I found the broken drain component, managed to extract it, get a replacement and fit it the same afternoon.

But things weren’t back to normal. Another week went by and with a visitor in the house I had the same neighbour ranting at my front door that while washing down my front drive I had splashed water on his precious car!

29 years of repairing a water pipe with a nail driven into it, a gas pipe severed by a hack saw, fixing under floor heating that had been wired up all wrong and a power socket accidently ripped from the wall plus countless Windows reinstalls (to name just a few examples) all counted for nothing.

I have been blanked for the past 50 weeks - for splashing a car. But look on the bright side, I have saved an awful lot of time!

But this week the final irony after the rant for car splashing.

A contractor arrived on site to jet wash the finger jabber’s drive and it sent mud flying everywhere, even right across the road on to other people’s cars.
Jet wash Jet wash Jet wash Jet wash

End of Day 1.

Jet wash Jet wash Jet wash Jet wash

End of Day 2.

Jet washAs the contractor left the scene he knocked on my door offering to jet wash my drive too. I said I would rather do it myself and drew his attention to my mud spattered wall and the filthy pavements.

The contractor readily agreed to sweep up before leaving. Unfortunately his efforts made very little difference. The area around the gully was much improved but my wall and the adjacent footpath were not obviously different at all.

Tomorrow I am going to have to wash it all and try not to splash any cars!

Can contractors be fined for fly tipping mud?

 

7 May (Part 1) - Grinding their teeth?

My excellent dentist has been rushed into hospital and Wednesday’s appointment has been cancelled, a pity because I enjoy going to see him, possibly because his political views are if anything a little to the right of mine. I have been visiting him for more than 20 years so the conversation can be about more than just floss.

So Thamesmead loses, temporarily I hope, one first rate dentist but tomorrow a new one is due to set up shop here. Maybe I will warm to him too if he decides to stick around but I have my doubts that he will.

FirthI am of course referring to the imposition by Conservative Central Office of a smart suited stranger on the Erith & Thamesmead constituency against the advice of all the leading lights within the local association.

If they are absolutely furious who would blame them? Will their door stepping be less than enthusiastic? One would expect so.

May I make a suggestion? Perhaps Councillors Philip Read and John Davey could manage to make a critical mistake on the nomination papers or fail to get them in by the cut off time of 4 p.m. next Thursday.

Then us northerners can let Teresa Pearce walk in virtually unopposed. Sounds good to me.

 

6 May (Part 2) - Shades of Robin Hood in reverse

As you can see, I stole this graphic from Bromley Council. It was an insert in their Council Tax bills. Bexley decided it couldn’t be bothered to explain its tax bills but maybe they should have done. There could hardly be a clearer illustration of how Bexley Council gets a bad deal from central government. Governments of all flavours that is.

Bexley’s Council Leader is on the record as saying that if this borough was as well funded as Greenwich, she would be paying out to residents, not taxing them. It was of course a lie but a look at the figures goes a long way towards explaining why she is tempted to make the point.
Tax
It doesn’t quite explain how it is that Bromley levies a lower rate of Council Tax than Bexley despite being even more severely underfunded.

 

6 May (Part 1) - Lots of cutting. No trimming

HedgeIf your hedge is blocking the footpath you will likely get a letter from the Council, but not if you are the Council of course.

This one in Florence Road, Abbey Wood is about 100 metres long and is imposing difficulties on buggy pushers and wheelchair users. It is badly in need of a trim.

It belongs to Bexley Council.

 

5 May (Part 3) - Thamesmead Tories’ turmoil

There have been two political ‘adverts’ at the top of this page for several days past. (Not when in Mobile viewing mode). Just because they are both Labour ones does not mean I have turned into a raging leftie or any other variety of the species. It means that I have not yet got a choice of what can be put there.

What I would really like is some news of who my Tory candidate will be but the Erith & Thamesmead Tories appear to have their knickers well and truly in a twist.

Anna FirthAnna Firth is the obvious candidate. She is a bit of a Mrs. Marmite character who upset a good number of people in 2015 but at least those of us who keep our political wits around us know, for better or for worse, a bit of what she is like. She must know by now the difference between Erith and Plumstead which must make her a better bet than some stooge bused in from Central Office.

Anna as you may know was unceremoniously bundled off the preferred candidates list a year ago for being a Brexiteer. Hasn’t Central Office worked out yet that it was Anna who backed the winner and not Cameron and his Clowns?

However despite emergency meetings designed to get Anna reinstated, Central Office has still not come to its senses. It has instead - if the grapevine has done its job correctly - chosen a dentist of Pakistani extraction to fill E&T’s decaying cavity. Bloody fools. I thought I was going to return to my Tory roots this time around, now I am not so sure.

Here’s some words you don’t often read on BiB. “I agree with John Davey and Philip Read” who are vigorously fighting Anna’s corner. Rather the Devil you know I say.

 

5 May (Part 2) - The charade of challenges and the lengthening gravy train

The April Full Council meeting was the last of the civic year and as such the Chairmen of the various Committees are required to provide a written report on their year. They may or may not be challenged.

Many were this time around but like so many Council procedures it is generally a useless charade.

The first challenge was to the General Purposes Committee’s annual report. Councillor Danny Hackett said that references to employment practices were either missing, unclear or inaccurate.

Councillor Cafer Munir, the Chairman of the Committee, said none of that was true and criticised the lack of engagement by various unions. “Labour is trying to defend the poor showing of their paymasters”, a remark which earned him a rebuke from the Mayor.

The next complaint was against the Planning Committee’s report. Councillor Hackett asked what problems might arise from Bexley Council approving the Slade Green rail terminal and Dartford refusing it. The Deputy Chairman of the Planning Committee, Val Clark said they were two different issues and Councillor Hackett’s challenge was quickly dismissed. No one demurred.

The People Scrutiny Committee report was challenged by Councillor Brenda Langstead and her concerns were similarly dismissed.

And so it went on. With no sensible answers on offer I eyed up the Exit and decided it was too much of a temptation.

OsborneIf I had stayed to the bitter end I might have learned something about the appointment of the new Assistant Chief Executive; why do we suddenly need one of those?

Miss Terry Osborne will join the Council on 22nd May and will replace Mr. Akin Alabi as Monitoring Officer. She comes from Redbridge Council via Waltham Forest and this time we are assured that she is a qualified solicitor - it makes a change but she has a bit of a record for political favourtism. An ideal choice for Bexley.

Also being hooked up to the Bexley gravy train, but not until the end of August, is Mr. Anjan Ghosh who becomes Director of Public Health. Mr. Ghosh comes from Merton Council.

 

5 May (Part 1) - The Leader lies?

Yesterday’s report that Council Leader Teresa O’Neill had been boasting about the success of the LED lighting programme took only an hour or two to provoke its first comment.


O'NeillHi Malcolm,

If Councillor O’Neill is claiming to have received favourable letters about the installation of LED street lights (your blog 4 May Part 2) presumably she and the letter writers do not have the lighting columns directly outside their properties.

The fact that the department will not accept telephone calls and the extensive investigations Jo Hollier is claiming her department is doing would imply that they have had lots of complaints. If it was only me I am sure my complaint would just be ignored - or perhaps it is since I have not heard anything for some while now.

Have you had any comments on this topic from any of your other correspondents?

Angling diffusers or adding shields is hardly rocket science. In view of O’Neill’s boast would it be an appropriate time for a gentle nudge in your blog that not everyone appreciates the ghostly grey pallor the lights put on everything nor the illuminating of the whole of their house fronts including hallway and bedrooms.

Regards,

B


And my reply…


Hi B,

My filing system makes it impossible to check the number of comments I have received about LED lights exactly but I am pretty sure there have been three – all negative and similar to your own.

I also have an email from a Council employee that says the reason lighting reports are now on line only is that the Council was inundated with complaints and had to do something quickly to put a stop to them.

M

 

4 May (Part 2) - The Leader reports

O'NeillOne of the consistently interesting bits of a Full Council meeting is the Leader’s report. It is of course an opportunity for self-aggrandisement but it usually has a basis in truth, this time Teresa O’Neill said her report “is re-eee-ally good” and that she particularly wanted to concentrate on the budget and the growth agenda.

Councillor O’Neill said that residents had written to her to thank her for only raising Council Tax by 3·99%. She claimed to have also had favourable letters about the installation of LED street lights.

Morley’s had moved into Bexleyheath and Selco to Crayford which was “absolutely fantastic”.

On growth she said it had to be the right sort of growth and the Chief Executive and her Assistant had taken themselves off on a jolly to Cannes to learn how to achieve it. It led to the Council entertaining 100 investors to show them the borough.

BridgeThe Leader repeated that transport infrastructure was all important and a Crossrail extension especially so. Like everyone else she lamented Southeastern’s proposal to reduce still further the inadequate train service currently on offer.

Councillor Brenda Langstead (Labour, North End) asked the Leader if the Growth Strategy made provision for homes affordable by those on the minimum wage or does she agree with her colleague (an unnamed male Councillor) who had said “these people should get better jobs”?

The Leader replied with the delightfully non-specific “we want a mix of housing that will accommodate anybody”.

As already reported, Councillor Borella (Labour, North End) put in a plea for churches affected by the seven day parking restrictions soon to be rolled out across shopping centres.

CamseyCouncillor Sybil Camsey (Conservative, Brampton) asked the Leader if she felt we should be proud of Acorns, a new children's care facility, with which Councillor Camsey was closely associated. The Leader kindly (and metaphorically) patted her on the head and said she could go to the top of the class.

Councillor Louie French (Conservative, Falconwood & Welling) was critical of the state of the Public Realm in Blackfen and Cabinet Member Linda Bailey offered some hope for improvements including more chargeable parking bays.

Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Old Bexley and Sidcup, Councillor Danny Hackett referred to the improvements planned for Harrow Manorway and enquired about an official opening for Lesnes Abbey park which now boasted a a coffee shop.

The Leader congratulated him on being the only Councillor who turned up (†) at a recent presentation about Harrow Manorway and she said that if there is an official opening for Lesnes Abbey, Councillor Craske would tell him about it.

Councillor Abena Oppong-Asare (Labour, Erith) spoke in support of her residents who get a very bad deal from Southeastern trains. She asked that the Council should lobby the Transport Secretary who had been “playing politics” with the Southeastern franchise. The borough’s Labour MP had done so, she expected the same from the other two.

The Leader said she knew exactly where Councillor Oppong-Asare was coming from and Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer had written to the Department “but I [Alex] do not know if I will [get a reply] to be honest with you”.

At that point the session ran out of time.

† The Leader subsequently corrected herself, Councillor Seymour had also attended the presentation.

 

4 May (Part 1) - Cryptosporidium in Belvedere, Phytophthora Ramorum in Lesnes

Rhododendron RhododendronI know it’s basically a weed from China but I have always had a soft spot for rhododendrons; ever since I got a prize from the infants school teacher for being the only pupil in the class to spell it correctly in a test.

There is a glorious display of the Chinese weeds in Lesnes Abbey woods at this time of the year but some of the bushes are looking a little sick right now.

One at least is infected with Phytophthora Ramorum which is a name I doubt I could spell correctly if you ask me tomorrow.

Bexley Council is going to grub up the affected bush and burn it. They have even issued a Press Release.

Note: Bexley Council claimed they had to close Belvedere’s Splashpark because of the presence of Cryptosporidium. The official report said it was only a risk. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

 

3 May - A rare moment of agreement

There was a very rare event in Bexley’s Council chamber last Wednesday, total agreement among all Councillors.
Council

63 Councillors. Next year’s 45 will be more than enough.

Labour Councillor John Husband (Lesnes Abbey) put forward a Motion calling on the Council “to help the disabled lead more fulfilling lives by taking positive steps to employ them when they have the necessary skills and to give preference to firms employing the disabled when purchasing goods and services and awarding contracts”.

Councillor Husband spoke for just over six and a half minutes in support of his more than reasonable suggestion and no Conservative actually disagreed with it but they were not prepared to graciously accept it. Good Motions must always be seen to be theirs, so they amended it.

Downing FullerUnless the name William Shakespeare appears at the foot of a page nearly everything written can be improved upon as I realise every time I look at yesterday’s blog and so the Conservative’s amendment was indeed an improvement. It expanded disabilities to specifically include physical, mental and hidden impairments which is undoubtedly a valuable addition.

Councillor Alan Downing (Conservative, St. Mary’s) spoke for four minutes in support of the Amendment. Quite why he felt it necessary to go on about it for such a long time, I have no real idea. Perhaps he wanted to give sufficient time for the fact it was a Labour Party initiative to be forgotten.

To make sure it might be forgotten, Councillor John Fuller (Conservative, Christchurch) went on in similar vein for just short of four minutes. However it cannot be denied that the Conservative’s Motion offered an improvement over the original.

The Labour Group recognised that too and were very happy to accept the enhancements, so just for once, every Councillor raised an arm in support of the Amended Motion.

 

2 May (Part 2) - Working hard for you and me

While Erith & Thamesmead’s Conservatives keep us in suspense over which Central Office favourite will be parachuted into Bexley’s Northern Territory (and Plumstead) the Labour candidate, Teresa Pearce can grab a head start.

Here’s the letter that came through the mail today. There is no room for complacency in E&T. If 2015’s UKIP voters flock back to the reluctant Brexiteer, Teresa May, the E&T result could be a close run thing.

If E&T’s Teresa was replaced by someone with close Bexley Council associations what hope will there be for clearing up the corruption and malpractice in our midst? Malpractice that the police now accept has been only too real.

Labour

Click or scroll to see all of Teresa Pearce’s message to her constituents.

For balance I must offer the Conservatives the chance of some free publicity too. Anna Firth may care to note that an hour ago there were six black sacks, one split open, at the junction of Sedgemere Road and Sydney Road in Abbey Wood which would offer her a first rate photo opportunity.

 

2 May (Part 1) - Remind you of anyone?

Davey CorbinIt’s been said before but Councillors Davey and Craske both know how to enter into the spirit of Twitter.

Peter Craske is very much inclined to push cleverly illustrated non-stop Conservative and Council propaganda. He never did respond to the questions that followed his Goebbels-like assertion that library usage across Bexley is on the up when the official figures show the reverse.

Councillor John Davey is entirely unlike that, politically barbed one-liners are more his style which I find more than a little amusing, and never more so (below left) than his obvious overnight reference to Jeremy Corbin.

I can imagine Councillor Peter Craske destroying his party one day, but never the Bexley Councillor for here there and everywhere.


Tweet Tweet

 

1 May (Part 2) - Collect of the Day. Pray for Sidcup

SawyerThe last Council meeting Agenda contains three lines which refer to Controlled Parking Zone consultations. The last one resulted in a decision to extend parking restrictions in Bexleyheath to Sundays. Sidcup is next in the firing line.

This prompted Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, North End) to speak on behalf of church congregations.

Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer, the architect of Yellow Money Box Junctions, said he was very aware of the potential problems and has had “numerous conversations with officers before tonight’s meeting on the subject. There will certainly be action taken”.

But what?

 

1 May (Part 1) - Who they gonna call?

If you are a Tory in Old Bexley and Sidcup you know who you are going to vote for. If you are a Conservative in Bexleyheath and Crayford you know it’s David Evennett again but if you can find the blue voter in Erith & Thamesmead he still won’t have a clue which name will receive his X.

Anna Firth who spent much of her time on litter patrol in 2015 appears to have upset too many influential Conservatives and may be out of the running which leaves those of the Tory persuasion in E&T unsure of where they will be able to go. Who would you choose out of this lot?

Firth Smith Bhogal ReadAnna Firth who stood in E&T in 2015, Elliot Smith, a pleasant young lad who likes Teresa O’Neill more than I do. Amandeep Bhogal who was the Tory candidate in Upper Bann two years ago and who left me with a good impression following a two minute conversation, and lastly Philip Read who does his best to perpetuate ‘the nasty party’ reputation.

A Tory to the core who would appeal to the Thatcher generation which once upon a time included me. I voted Tory at every election from 1964 through to 2010. David Cameron and learning too much about Bexley’s Conservatives put paid to that.

This year UKIP nationally seems to have gone well and truly off the rails and locally off the boil.

I was pretty shocked by what I read on their Facebook page a few days ago.

FacebookI generally try to keep strong language away from BiB, reserving it for special occasions that require special emphasis, but what UKIP is saying about my Labour MP is the sheerest of bollocks. Don’t take my word for it, look it up on the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority website. (IPSA.)

UKIP exaggerates Teresa Pearce’s pay by £5,000 and makes inaccurate comments about the salary she pays her husband Paul for his role as Office Manager.

More junior office staff are paid the going rate but Paul is not. UKIP could have looked it up for themselves but instead suggest that Paul is on “well over” £25,000 a year.

The truth is rather different and it is close to nothing because Paul works for love except for the odd week or two when Teresa’s office staff is exceptionally depleted by holidays. IPSA reports the total to be between £0 and £5,000. The lowest pay category it places on the record.

Incidental office costs tot up to £11k. but there is no claim for a mobile phone or travelling costs, petrol etc.

And “rich elite”. Where did they get that idea?

Last Autumn I had to deliver some documents to Teresa that she required in connection with my complaint that Bexley police conspired with Bexley Council and the CPS to make sure that ‘Councillor Craske’s situation was resolved’.

She has supported me throughout in contrast to James Brokenshire’s response to fellow complainant Elwyn Bryant who thought that assisting his constituent was “inappropriate”. (†)

It was a nice day and Teresa invited me through to her garden for a cool drink. The car outside was older than mine and at a quick glance her house was comparable and her TV was smaller. Of rich and elite there is no obvious sign.

Pay
You may sometimes wonder why someone with an almost 100% Conservative voting record so often puts the boot into that party locally. I hope it is obvious, it’s not very often it’s the policies that are criticised but the dishonesty and occasional corruption within Tory ranks that is.

Labour has fallen foul of BiB too but it’s hard to catch them out. Never dishonest, sometimes ill advised from a more right wing perspective but in recent days UKIP seems to have delivered an opportunity on a plate.

† The Department of Professional Standards (DPS) investigation into the various malpractices that led to the collapse of the case against Councillor Craske is still going well. Several Bexley police officers (a total of eight were in the frame when I last asked) have been interviewed under caution and the DPS continues to give every indication of a satisfactory outcome.

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