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The news that Councillor Maxine Fothergill has had to pay £70,000 in damages following
her libel of a former employee and her new employer proved to be
something of a damp squib although it may be just a slow burner.
Whilst some believe nothing appeared in the local press because they are in hock to Bexley Council I think it is just as likely that they do not have the resources to plough through 50 or more documents - I never did get around to counting them.
The press will shortly get a 400 word summary but probably they would rather pretend it never happened. More promising is the property trade journal that has requested a 1,000 word article.
Part of the damages settlement was that by 28th November an apology must be sent to the approximately 280 people who were told very big fibs by Councillor Maxine Fothergill. That apology - unsigned - has been dropping through letter boxes across the borough today.
Click image above to read all of Councillor Fothergill’s apology.
BiB has refrained from passing comment on the morality, or lack of, lying behind
this case preferring to let the facts speak for themselves. Even so there have
been accusations that some of those ‘facts’ were fabricated for effect. Not a single one was, from the
congratulations that came from Kent police through to
the solicitor’s estimate of costs,
everything is unfortunately only too true.
There have been requests, some might say demands, to remove all reference to the libel case from Bonkers, the justification being that it will damage Councillor Fothergill’s business.
But news is news and it has to stay, where would one draw the line if censorship became the norm?
Bexley Council goes out of its way to shame local businesses that run foul of its rules and unnecessarily publishes the addresses of litter offenders. Maxine Fothergill is a Councillor in Bexley, and as far as anyone knows, she fully approves of every action taken by her Council.
And even if BiB removes some pages will UKIP Bexley do likewise?
This is the second of two messages received overnight about the new issue of the Bexley Magazine and Bexley’s master storyteller, Cabinet Member Peter Craske.
Just received latest edition of Bexley Magazine. Do you know who actually compiles it? Would it be by a member of the Peter Craske fan club by any chance?
By my count (and I might have missed some) there are six mentions of his name and five photographs. The sooner you can take the man down never to be heard of again will not be soon enough.
Why is anyone surprised? Bexley Council is run by a thoroughly dishonest bunch of Councillors unafraid to indulge in criminal practices when the need arises. Who better to dominate its propaganda sheet than an accomplished liar?
But I have to take issue with the email writer, there are six Craske pictures, not five; the cover, two on Page 5 (look at the group photo), Page 7, Page 9 and Page 15. The man in the striped shirt on Page 16 may be him, but not sure. Craske’s name appears six times as stated by my correspondent, download the PDF and use the Find facility.
I imagine the Magazine is likely to be the work of John Ferry, Bexley’s Head of Comms. I think he must be a BiB reader, he Tweeted a correction to the Magazine’s misinformation on Crossrail only a few hours after it was featured here.
Six, going on seven, years ago when we were all much younger and more
naive, Cabinet Member Peter Craske created a bit of a stir by hiking Bexley’s parking
charges across the borough, some by a factor of nearly three.
The price of a Residents’ Parking Permit was increased from £35 to £100 and even £120 in some locations. Craske claimed that the cost of issuing them exceeded revenue. 2011 was the year when Councillor Peter Craske let his fantasies run completely out of control.
Foremost among his excuses was that even after the increases Bexley had the lowest parking charges in South East London. A lie if ever there was one.
A simple web search showed that charges were lower in Dartford, Bromley and Greenwich, unless you chose to park right next to the Cutty Sark.
Since 2011 residents have become accustomed to Bexley Council’s lies, it’s what they do and what the population now expects. Why? I have no idea, their record is not always bad and the real achievement ought to stand up by themselves.
Bexley’s charges have gone up again since 2011 and Greenwich is getting ready to increase theirs too.
Darryl Chamberlain, the Greenwich based blogger has put the new charges on his website.
Residents’ Permits will still not be as expensive as Bexley’s were in 2011 and all their car park season tickets are cheaper than Bexley’s.
Bexleyheath and Woolwich are probably the nearest to being comparable shopping centres and off street parking will be a little dearer in Woolwich, £2 for two hours. Bexley’s Albion Road and Cinema Car Parks are £1·90. Go slightly out of town and the the Bowling Centre will save you 20 pence.
Go to one of Greenwich’s lesser shopping centres and you will get the first 30 minutes free. Bexley Council rejected that idea, (only 15 minutes if I remember correctly).
In the centre of Greenwich itself an annual parking ticket will set you back a whopping £1,200 a year as you might expect in the middle of a tourist spot. However in Bexleyheath and Bexley the equivalent permit will set you back £1,431.
In the whole of Bexley borough the cheapest annual ticket is £621. In Greenwich the cheapest is £110, yes one hundred and ten pounds.
Six years ago Cabinet Member Peter Craske was putting out Press Releases that Bexley had the cheapest parking. It wasn’t true then but six years later and if Greenwich goes ahead with its latest proposals, their charges will become comparable.
The answer to my Freedom of Information Request
is now two weeks overdue.
There can be no excuses, there are no real personal issues to redact, what there are will refer me. The only problem is that the useless Head of Waste in Bexley, Steve Didsbury, simply didn’t do anything with the fly tipping pictures I sent to him despite his written assurance and him seeking assurance that I would be willing to be his witness in Court.
Bexley Council has been given one more week to respond before their failure is passed on to the Information Commissioner. I might not have waited but the police’s Craske cover-up is taking up most of the letter writing time.
curled up copy of Bexley Council’s Magazine dropped through my letter box
this afternoon. With an election coming up there is a lot going on in the
borough at the moment. Various popular schemes have been saved up to maximise
the Tories’ chances of being elected again next May, so it’s quite an
interesting read and I absolutely loved the front cover.
The juxtaposition of Cabinet Member Peter Craske with the news that the Met. Police decided that Bexleyheath’s police station must stay open must have given Councillor Craske a nice warm nostalgic feeling inside.
Interesting as the contents of the magazine might be it probably wouldn’t be wise to assume everything you read inside is accurate.
I don’t know who has been priming Council Leader Teresa O’Neill on Crossrail but all the dates mentioned in Council meetings recently have been wrong.
Page 4 of the magazine keeps up the tradition. It gets the opening date of the new Abbey Wood station right but it goes downhill thereafter.
“When the Elizabeth Line fully opens in December 2018 trains will run direct from Abbey Wood to central London and on to Reading and Heathrow in the west.”
Where did that come from?
When the first Crossrail train leaves Abbey Wood in December 2018 it will terminate at Paddington. If you want to go to Heathrow you will have to get on a different train at Paddington. Crossrail will start as three separate services. Abbey Wood to Paddington. Paddington to Heathrow and Shenfield to Liverpool Street.
In May 2019 the Shenfield service will be integrated as far as Paddington but Heathrow will remain a disconnected spur.
If you want to go to Reading you will have an even longer wait, Reading services will not run until December 2019.
From that date most trains from Abbey Wood will go to Paddington, some will carry on to Heathrow and Reading trains will be few and far between.
When Bexley Council tells you trains will go straight through to Heathrow in only one year’s time, it won’t be one of their trademark fibs, they are simply mistaken.
With such a level of ignorance how will Bexley Council ever successfully negotiate an extension the east?
If Councillor Philip Read hadn’t blocked me on Twitter before I even knew he
had an account I would probably be ‘Liking’ his posts fairly regularly. He is a
Conservative and I am a lapsed Conservative waiting in vain, as he may be too, for a decent Tory Leader.
His first effort on Twitter yesterday was absolutely spot on. Emma Dent Coad, MP for Kensington, is a thoroughly nasty individual not fit to be employed in any public facing capacity let alone be in Parliament.
She is a disgrace to her party and if its leader had any sense at all, which clearly he hasn’t, she would be immediately kicked out and as far away from public life as possible.
However Councillor Read, being something of a nasty individual himself, tried to use the Coad woman to have a go at, and name, the Labour Members of Bexley Council.
“Not brave enough to disown her”, Bexley’s homegrown ‘pedlar of sickening rants’ crowed.
Whilst it is easy enough to read Cabinet Member Philip Read’s sickening rants on Twitter, being blocked makes responding more difficult.
Yesterday I did so, albeit in a rather clumsy manner.
I suggested to Philip Read that the reason no local Labour Councillor disowned Emma Dent Coad might be exactly the same reason no local Conservative had condemned Cabinet Member Peter Craske for having two obscene blogs on his laptop. One published, one not.
Dent and Kensington are a long way from Bexley’s Labour Councillors whilst the Tories’ friend Pete sits alongside Read at every Council meeting. Bexley Conservatives have no excuse.
BiB will disappoint the Northumberland Numpty (Councillor Read thinks it only reports negative stuff)
today by reporting that the first of four new footpath ‘legs’ on Harrow Manorway flyover opened last Tuesday and
it looks rather nice, if a big expanse of moulded concrete can ever be called
It is clean, bright, graffiti and litter free (for now) and provides interesting views that have not been available until now. (Before its renovation the flyover did not have a footpath.)
Comment locally has been almost entirely favourable with just a few people suggesting that pedestrians should be protected by a barrier. Unfortunately barriers can have a cheese grater effect on cyclists who find themselves too close to passing vehicles.
Once Peabody builds hundreds of houses nearby the traffic congestion is likely to reduce vehicle speed to near zero and both pedestrians and cyclists will feel safe .
Beneath the flyover traffic roads are frequently congested already but for entirely different reasons, Bexley Council’s stupidity.
They allow parking on a corner which brings buses (the 244 runs at ten minute intervals) to a halt. It’s a near daily occurrence, and I caught a glimpse of it again this morning. How long will it be before Bexley Council wakes up to the fact that it is somewhere badly in need of a second yellow line?
For the record the incident took place before the single line restriction came into operation and the Civil Enforcement Officer behaved impeccably.
A similar look at Welling.
“There was a double fatal crash in Park View Road July 2007, a speeding Rover clipped the built-out kerb & was launched head-on into the N89 bus. I live opposite; I was sent a ‘Consultation Survey’ from Bexley Council. As an ex-biker & cyclist I said the road narrowing was dangerous, suddenly pushing motorbikes & bicycles into the path of cars. The Council carried on anyway.
I was never informed the results of this ‘consultation’. It was obviously a box-ticking waste of money. The couple might not have died if they hadn’t hit the ‘traffic calming’ built-out kerb, it aimed them across the road into the oncoming traffic. They were drunk & wearing no seatbelts but they might have survived a crash with a lamp-post.”
Road narrowing is nearly always dangerous for exactly the reasons given above. The experts say so and the man in the street can see it is obvious but not Bexley Council and its crazy road planner.
With thanks to Hugh Neal the Maggot Sandwich blogger, BiB brings you this extract from a worrying email sent to him by Bexley Council. It specifically refers to the large recycling bins that used to grace Morrison’s Erith supermarket car park but its impact is said to be borough wide.
Due to the relatively high cost to service these banks and ongoing issues we have been experiencing with severe contamination at a number of the mini recycling sites we had to make the difficult decision to remove these banks boroughwide. This commenced on Tuesday 14th November after emptying on Monday 13th November.
Prior to the removal of the banks collections were suspended which led to issues at a number of sites with full banks.
Household plastic packaging and beverage cartons can continue to be recycled through the kerbside recycling collection in the maroon box for houses or silver bins for flats.
I have every sympathy with the contamination problem but not so sure that this is the correct solution. It is the same mind set that says if beggars sit on street benches, take the benches away. If someone abuses a public toilet, close it permanently. If men loiter in the street drinking, attack the shopkeepers by withdrawing or restricting off-licences.
Now they are taking the bins away because a minority of idiots abuse the facility but when I sent in photos (and a neighbour sent video) of a bin contaminator caught in the act Bexley Council did absolutely nothing about it.
The two ‘idiots’ caught up in that incident are shown in the photos alongside.
Bexley Council has been unable to offer any explanation of why Mr. Steve Didsbury (Head of Waste) was presented with the evidence more than a year ago and he decided to do nothing.
Today it was a toss up between more on the Peter Craske cover up (the complaint
against the Borough Commander failed because he wasn’t a Detective and therefore
could not be expected to know what was going on) or getting
down to the serious business of an Appeal to the Independent Police Complaints
Commission following the DPS’s detailed description of everything Bexley
police got wrong yet not wrong enough to warrant any further action against them.
The serious business won but that did not preclude a quick look around Twitter.
I have said before that the best Bexley Council Twitterer is John Davey (Conservative, Crayford).
John is usually entertaining, usually light hearted but occasionally comes across as unsympathetic to those in most need in a right wing sort of way. He is occasionally just plain wrong but thick skinned and never takes offence.
It can be fun to pull his leg and he is a good sport. Box him into a corner and he simply pops up elsewhere, all smiles. Unlike Councillor Philip Read someone who could be named!
A few days ago John Davey was bragging how it was the Conservatives with their petition and demos who saved Bexleyheath police station and I put forward an alternative view. (See first Twitter image.)
I said that petitions are usually ignored and Bexley Council over the past eight years at least has either refused to accept a petition or taken no notice of it. Councillor Sybil Camsey got it right some years ago when she told Elwyn Bryant that petitions were a waste of time, no one takes any notice.
Councillor Davey was challenged to come up with an exception to Councillor Camsey’s rule.
He didn’t. He knows when he is beaten and knows when to duck out of an argument.
Not so Councillor Philip Read (Conservative, Northumberland Heath). He wanted to muscle in to John’s argument, but not in a constructive way obviously.
It is perhaps ironic that Read tells Councillor Davey that BiB lives up to its name when it was John Davey who provided the name Bexley is Bonkers during a face to face conversation in 2009.
Although Philip Read lies more often than he doesn’t I will not dispute his assertion that a Labour member is critical of BiB.
One told me that two thirds of what you read on Bonkers is fiction but when challenged could not come up with a single example. (You can be pretty sure that Councillor Hackett will be on the phone during the next 24 hours asking who it was.)
Unlike Read who hides behind a blocked Twitter account, the Labour Councillor made his point while standing right next to me.
On the alleged “self-importance”, I do find the comment a little uncomfortable but only a very little.
I often wonder why Bexley Council takes BiB so seriously. Banning access from libraries and staff computers, more than once trying to get me arrested for things they have made up. They must think it is more important than I do.
No one makes Councillor Read read it and I have little idea why around 40,000 visitors each month come to take a look. They don’t have to either.
Even if half of them arrive by accident and quickly go away and another half are train spotters looking for Crossrail pictures, it still leaves quite a lot of people who may be interested in discovering the truth about Bexley Council now that the local press has virtually collapsed and reduced to regurgitating press releases.
after Cabinet Member Peter Craske was arrested on suspicion of creating an
obscene blog the News Shopper’s Bexley reporter told me he was not finding it
easy to publish anything, but on 4th July 2012 he slipped in the short comment you see here.
On another page of the same issue he made a reference to Craske’s resignation from the Cabinet. Readers in the know were expected to make the connection. (I have not yet located a copy of the second news segment.)
Maybe I am falling victim to conspiracy theory but the Bexley news reporter was demoted to show business correspondent and that issue disappeared from the News Shopper’s archive, which is why you don’t see a copy here.
Councillor Peter Craske felt he must resign - or maybe he was pushed - when there was just a suspicion that he had posted obscenities to the web.
But now we are practically certain he did because the police have put on the record that the blog we knew about was found on his laptop alongside another one of a similar nature.
Councillor Peter Craske resigned from his Cabinet post when there was just a suspicion that he was the obscene blogger; will he go now that we know beyond all doubt that he was very much implicated in the crime?
If he is still in post next April you can be pretty sure that every page of BiB will carry a banner made up of the statements above. Site banners are usually displayed at random but it is very simple to fix pages on just the one.
The ‘campaign’ can then be run right through to election day in May 2018.
DS Mackintosh has questions to answer doesn’t he? Found nasty stuff on Councillor Craske’s laptop but wrote in the crime report that it wasn’t and closed the case. But the Directorate of Professional Standards says he did nothing wrong.
Elwyn does have a point doesn’t he?
(A longer blog with more explanation was planned but I am being dragged away to watch a ball being kicked around. Perhaps the brevity will give you time to do the same.)
Elwyn Bryant has looked at the DPS report into the Craske cover up from a
different angle and I think he may have a point.
He reminds me that the investigating officer was hugely enthusiastic about his look at Bexley police and said his colleagues referred to his ‘Bexley Day’ which would occupy him once or twice a week for what turned out to be nearly 18 months.
That officer told us of his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and how he was unable to let go of such an interesting case and it kept him awake at night wondering what he would uncover next.
He told us how the final stage would go, the interviews under caution, the disciplinary hearings and the possible punishments and promised Elwyn “I will get you a result”. Now we learn that he didn’t have a case at all. He concludes that no police officer did anything wrong at all.
OCD or not you don’t spend 18 months on a case which you believe is going nowhere.
Both Elwyn and I think he was got at as every police officer investigating Bexley Council is got at.
There are so many incidences of mistakes and cockups and failures to take the obvious next step catalogued in the DPS report that Elwyn thinks it must have been written with a different outcome in mind but there was an order to change that outcome after the first draft was written. Some parts may well have been edited out but Elwyn thinks that what is left is a coded message by the report’s author that things should have been very different.
Elwyn has always been very perceptive with this case. He said Craske had written the blog as soon as he read it in June 2011. He also believes CS Olisa tried to do the honest thing but was dragged back by Teresa O’Neill’s biggest ally. The man who was Mayor at the time and the ultimate head of the police in London.
When I put that theory to Victor Olisa he became extremely agitated (the DPS reports he denies it but it also states that Teresa Pearce MP confirmed it) which may suggest that the Mayoral comment was too close to the truth for comfort.
If the DP investigator uncovered the truth of that you can see why he might have been told to drop the case like a hot potato. We can’t have the Foreign Secretary brought down for interfering in a police investigation to protect Teflon Tess can we?
Elwyn reminded me that the reason I did not immediately go along with his ‘Craske did it’ theory was that I was distracted by a series of anonymous emails from someone who clearly knew rather a lot about Councillors and who provided all sorts of circumstantial evidence that Councillor James Hunt had authored the obscene blog. James was most definitely innocent, he is one of Bexley’s few good guys, but at the time the arguments being put forward condemning him were quite persuasive.
Who would have known James intimately and might want to shift attention to him? Somebody absolutely ruthless with the sort of manipulative skills that might find a place in No. 10 perhaps.
Let me say it again. Councillor James Hunt was and remains entirely innocent and the victim of an unscrupulous smear campaign. The sort of campaign you might expect of a practised spin doctor. And who might that be?
Detective Sergeant Paul Mackintosh (Bexley police) sent me ten emails between the beginning of July and
the beginning of September 2012 nearly all of them insisting that he could not
tell me who was suspected of creating the website malcomknight.blogspot and
posting obscenities to it. His excuse was that I would be called as a witness to the expected prosecution
and must be protected from implied manipulation.
Elwyn Bryant and I were sure the suspect was Craske because the obscenities referred to several events, sometimes less than 24 hours after they took place, and there was only one person who was likely to have the appropriate knowledge.
As if that wasn’t enough, the News Shopper had reported Craske’s arrest and his resignation from the Cabinet. It had to be him but no one would confirm it.
In October 2012 Detective Inspector Underwood decided the case against Craske should be closed despite an incomplete forensics report still being in the laboratory and it was passed to DS Jacqueline Bishop to wrap up.
She too decided that despite two obscene blogs being found on Councillor Craske’s devices, one published the other probably not, “there was no evidence to suggest that Mr. Craske had posted the offensive blog”. Not even a suggestion he did it!
Elwyn and I met Jacqueline Bishop in January 2013 and the name passed her lips almost immediately. Elwyn and I both jumped to attention at the mention of Craske’s name and we explained that it was the first time any officer had ever mentioned it. DS Bishop was visibly shocked and went on the say that his file was the biggest she had ever had to handle. It had, she said, been “crippled by political interference”.
I emailed Bishop to thank her for her honesty and copied it to Chief Superintendent Victor Olissa the Borough Commander. One hour and nineteen minutes later DS Bishop replied denying everything she had told Elwyn and me at the meeting the previous day.
It would appear that I had unwittingly dropped Bishop in the mire by congratulating her on her honesty and copying it to the Chief Superintendent.
One hour and four minutes after sending that email Bishop sent another.
Dear Mr Knight and Mr Bryant,
In relation to the above investigation, please note that my involvement in this has now concluded as the investigation is closed. In light of this, I cannot and will not be responding to any further emails from yourselves.
Petulant or what?
The following day Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa sent me a wholly professional letter with no hint of any criticism of anything I had written to Bishop.
Elwyn and I continued to believe, right through to this week, that DS Jaqueline Bishop was the only honest police officer to be found in Arnsberg Way and I had unwittingly got her into trouble with her disreputable bosses.
How wrong we were. The DPS report received last Tuesday reveals that she can lie along with the best of them.
It records that DC Yvonne Weeden of the DPS spoke to DS Bishop by telephone on 19th January 2012, a date which has to be wrong because the complaint did not reach Weeden’s department until January 2014 and she wrote to me on 18th February 2014 to introduce herself as new to the case. She wrote again on 8th July 2014 to apologise for not making any progress but hoped to start her investigation “soon”.
However the real point is that DS Bishop admitted to the DPS that she did tell Elwyn and me that the case had been crippled by political interference. However in the eighteen months or whatever since the meeting in Bexleyheath she had been able to think of a good excuse. This little beauty.
Teresa Pearce MP had been guilty of the political interference Bishop said, not the other Teresa and her partner in skullduggery Will Tuckley, (Bexley’s Chief Executive at the time) as everyone else had supposed.
There is written evidence that Bexley Council interfered in the justice process despite everyone agreeing that the crime was committed by Craske or his wife in a private capacity.
So what had the MP for Erith & Thamesmead done to interfere in the course of justice?
Way back in August 2011, Bexley police wrote to Elwyn and me to say that their investigation had been abandoned for lack of evidence. It is only too obvious now that that was a lie but it was fairly obvious that it was a lie on the day I first read it too. It claimed the blog was no longer on the server which was only half true. The blog content had gone but its template continued to occupy malcolmknight.blogspot.
Ms. Pearce reported that fact to Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer at one of her regular meetings and asked him to look at the case again.
My MP has accompanied me to four meetings with the police as a good MP might be expected to do - James Brokenshire refused to help Elwyn - but the police seem to think that supporting a constituent is close to being criminal.
DS Bishop asked the DPS to believe that a meeting between my MP and the Borough Commander in September 2011 (which she called political interference) was one of only three things worth telling Elwyn and me in January 2013. The others being Craske’s name and it being a big file.
No one else would believe such a story but the DPS did. Teresa Pearce did not cripple the investigation, she was wholly responsible for putting it back on the rails - unless of course Bishop meant that Teresa crippled the cover up.
Everyone knows who interfered to get the culprit off the hook and written evidence is available, however the DPS did not mention that evidence in their report at all. To include it might have caused their whole report to unravel. Perhaps they should ask DS Jacqueline Bishop to dream up a silly excuse for its existence.
The DPS report confirms that they did not bother to interview any of the named individuals who are known to be responsible for the conspiracy to “resolve Councillor Craske’s situation” and whilst I have not yet done the count, it looks as though around half of the police officers involved in this case could not be interviewed because they are off on long term sick leave. How very convenient.
Note: The significance of the Batman picture is that I was not only the subject of homophobic abuse in the form of a blog bearing my name, I was also in receipt of abusive emails which were signed by Robin with an address in Gotham City. My ISP traced them to an office closely associated with Craske but Bexley police chose to do nothing about them.
The Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards may have spent
nearly 2,000 days
concocting a not entirely convincing defence of Bexleyheath police officers but they have
done very little to protect anyone else.
Until now BiB has been very careful to say only that the obscenities posted to the web in May 2011 were traced to one of Cabinet Member Peter Craske’s internet connections because that is all the police had hitherto committed to paper.
BiB has corrected anyone who dared to make the obvious assumption.
That is not necessary any more. The 15 pages of DPS report does not hold back.
The obscene website entitled Malcolm’s Masterbations (sic) was found on Councillor Craske’s laptop (this was denied by Bexley police when they wrote to me in January 2013) and on what the police describe as Apple/Blackberry back up files.
“Another blog of a similar nature” was also found on Councillor Craske’s laptop but there was no evidence that he had got around to publishing it.
Immediately after that revelation the DPS reports in its very next paragraph that a decision was taken not to proceed further with the Craske investigation but to re-arrest him if he did it again.
The DPS report admits that they could find no reason for that curious decision but attributes it to DS Paul Mackintosh.
I received a large number of emails from DS Mackintosh throughout 2012. I was sure he was trying to deceive me at the time and I am even more sure now.
A flimsy excuse for the police taking no further action against Craske is that his copy of the offensive blog was undated and he may have argued that he had merely downloaded it for his amusement. On the DPS’s own admission there was a another very similar one alongside it awaiting upload so you can see why the word flimsy applies.
Mrs. Craske was taken to Bexleyheath police station too and interviewed. No further detail is provided.
I have known for a long time, and I’m sure it must be hidden away on BiB somewhere, that an obscene blog was said to have been posted from a visitor’s area in Queen Mary’s Hospital. The DPS report says that was due to a procedural mistake but some poor soul was traced and taken in for questioning.
It is admitted that enquiries were put on hold from time to time for budgetary reasons. It was the CPS which told Bexley police they must prove Craske posted the obscenities and not his wife or someone who hacked his internet connection.
Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa (now retired) suggested to me in the presence of Elwyn Bryant and Teresa Pearce MP that I had to be eliminated from suspicion of being the hacker. It didn’t seem like just an example at the time, but whether it was or was not it appears to have been a welcome delaying tactic.
Eventually the CPS advised that the police had run out of time but that was six months before a meeting was convened to “resolve the ongoing [Councillor Craske’s] situation” so how that comment fits into the jig saw is uncertain.
There is more to come on this subject but meanwhile everyone is free to say that both published and unpublished pornography about me and others was found on Bexley Cabinet Member Peter Craske’s laptop. Spread the news. He still maintains he does not know who I am but obviously that can only be another Bexley Council lie.
It doesn’t compare with taking
2,000 days to answer questions but one to Bexley
Council six weeks ago should have been very simple to answer. Just look up the email record and send a copy but
Freedom of Information request about Steve Didsbury’s apparent inaction
after he was sent photos, video and van registration number of a regular fly
tipper is now two weeks overdue.
Probably there is some vigorous email editing going on.
It’s a good month since Councillor Philip Read last used his Twitter account to
propagate venom and fibs which has to be good news. It was always a bit silly
for him to send his propaganda to 500 odd followers and then have it exposed to
several thousand visitors to Bonkers. I assume that wiser heads than his gave advice.
But the heavily biased propaganda continues elsewhere.
It’s the Wordpress blog (click image above and take a good look at it) where the worst excesses may be found.
300 trees, that’s the higher of the two figures that have been put out by Bexley Council, it includes those due to be planted on new housing developments. Only 15 are planned for wards that the Tories do not expect to win at the next election.
The Tory’s blog claims that Labour supporters waved placards opposing new trees. My recollection is that the placards said something like people [the old and sick] before trees.
(The photo proof has been found. Bexley Conservatives really are liars.)
Grass cutting in parks is up from nine to twelve times a year, back to square one after the cuts of earlier years then.
The LED lighting is “much better” but we all know it is “much dimmer” thanks to the figures issued by Bexley Council itself.
£4 million (actually less than £3·5m) spent on road repairs, twice what is spent on average in non-election years.
Council Leader Teflon Tess says that before the 2014 election the Labour Councillors said that Bexley was heading for "municipal bankruptcy" and it is true, they did say that and it may not have been the best of forecasts but it was made before Bexley Council proposed selling 27 parks (only the most valuable four went through) and before cameras were placed above at least five Yellow Money traps which look like fleecing motorists of a million or so every year.
Without those income streams municipal bankruptcy may have been a possibility.
Luckily for Bexley Council there are still far too many gullible people in this borough.
was hoping that the little banner image that has adorned Bonkers on and off for
several years would pass the 2,000 day threshold next week but a large brown
envelope has put paid to that.
The 15 pages enclosed provide an interesting insight into what was found on Cabinet Member Peter Craske’s household electronic devices but it neatly skips over the evidence Elwyn Bryant and I provided about collusion between the police, Bexley Council and the CPS. It is simply not mentioned.
We are asked to believe that many police officers have failing memories and didn’t make notes. I am supposed to have spoken to a police officer who I would have never heard of if it wasn’t for the Olly Cromwell Court case where I heard the nonsense that officer was prepared to spout in a witness box.
Another police officer who said something incriminating to Elwyn and me but denied it in writing the next day has admitted saying it to the Directorate of Professional Standards but apparently we took it out of context. No reasonable person would believe those words had an alternative meaning.
My MP Teresa Pearce who was so very helpful to me at a every stage of this six year saga is blamed for “political interference” because she asked Borough Commander Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer to look at the case again.
It is simply outrageous that an MP is accused of interfering in a police investigation because she raised an issue with a senior officer after a constituent provided credible evidence that his investigation was inadequate.
When Elwyn and I last met the DPS investigating officer he put his hand on Elwyn’s shoulder and said “I am going to get you a result on this one”. Perhaps Elwyn took that out of context too. The officer did not say what sort of result he would provide.
Along the way DPS officers have asked what sort of punishment should me meted out to guilty officers. They described in great detail what would happen to those officers in the DPS’s own Court Room. They said that as many as eight were to be interviewed under caution. From what I can gather only one was so interviewed.
I know from my family connections with the Daniel Morgan murder that the Metropolitan Police corruption that was the now admitted norm 30 years ago still goes to the very top when there is a need to protect their own. Hogan-Howe may have gone but he has been replaced.
One might easily speculate why the promised result has not been delivered.
Yet another email from a reader, this one seems keen to send a Christmas message to Bexley Council.
• You’ve changed the roads to further restrict access to Bexleyheath’s shops.
• You have festooned the place not with Christmas decorations but with road humps, more pedestrian lights and silly roundabouts.
• Your roundabouts and crossings are specially designed to confuse visitors both pedestrian and vehicular. Well done.
• To maximise the misery you have spread the chaos over a whole five years.
• The most significant concession to Christmas lights is the temporary ones holding up the traffic.
• And if that is not enough some car parking charges have doubled.
• A Happy Christmas to all the shop keepers hoping for to make a reasonable living against all odds.
BiB Note: Car park charges have doubled and more in the Mall Shopping Centre. It is not managed by Bexley Council. Council Car Park charges are unlikely to be increased until 2019, after next year’s election.
If Council Leader Teresa O’Neill really has
people approaching her in the street to heap
praise on the LED street lighting, my guess is that it was just one person and she
embroidered the truth as everyone at Bexley Council seems to do.
Well not everyone perhaps because the lighting controversy appears to be just as intense within Bexley Council as without and an insider sent the following email. Once again slightly edited for easy consumption here but all the essential points are reported in the original format. In fact it differs by little more than a few punctuation marks.
You may be interested in the goings on inside the street lighting service.
Conway is the new contractor for all street lighting services including the maintenance and the lucrative bulk renewal to LED columns.
My understanding is it was negotiated by Engineering Services (Civils) behind the back of Highways who used to be in charge of the service. The result is that Graham Ward has plucked another service to add to his armoury. The whole thing stinks worse than Crossness on a bad day.
Service is now absolutely terrible and as a dodge to make the complaint figures better (which were sky high at the beginning of the year) they no longer accept complaints to the Contact Centre. There is a convoluted online process instead. Complaints are discouraged.
Highways ceded control to Civils in an attempt to prevent the loathesome Graham Ward getting his grubby mitts on them! The previous contractor Kier had years left on their contract and surprise surprise, Conways Street lighting division was run by [name redacted], whose firm used to have the contract before selling out to May Gurney then Kier. Brown envelopes and back handers galore methinks!
I heard they bit off way more than they could chew. Things may have changed recently but if an audit had been done there would have been no paperwork to audit!
The basic premise is that certain people wanted the bulk renewal contract and colluded with FM Conway to get it. That’s the way I see it. They didn’t think of or maybe care about the maintenance side. LEDs may be long lasting but the wiring and columns they are retro-fitted to aren’t. Columns sometimes have to be moved, accidents etc. More future costs and meanwhile the public gets a poor service with no simple way of complaining.
There used to be a fortnightly check of every column to see if it was lit but that has been done way with so ‘outs’ are not fixed as quickly as they once were. Maybe it’s just a short term blip in service or maybe it’s the way things in general are headed.
Oh dear, and if you believe the Bexley Conservative propaganda machine everything in the borough is so very wonderful.
Note: No evidence of backhanders etc. has ever come to light but that such things are considered possible by staff within Bexley Council is perhaps alarming.
The message above was not sent anonymously.
The logic of asking a question via BiB’s anonymous Contact form escapes me but here is today’s.
If, as your lighting engineer says, the efficiency of LED lighting is less, why has the council installed the things? One of the roads near where I live has had the already dimmed down sodium lighting for ages. So why change that?
The ‘best’ Sodium lights produce 177 lumens for every watt of electricity consumed. The newer and less orange Sodium lamps are dimmer and produce around 100 lumens per watt. The very best of the LEDs are not very different; so where’s the saving?
What Bexley Council has done is fit much less powerful lights, only 69 watts (in main roads) instead of 180 watts so there is a big saving on electricity but at the expense of your safety.
Even if the lamps are equally efficient in converting watts to lumens, 69 watts (LED) is a great deal smaller than 180 watts (Sodium). As The Council Officer almost said, you can’t defy the laws of physics.
In theory they could have fitted much smaller Sodium lamps but the Council is gambling on LEDs having a lower failure rate. If they are wrong they have not only put your safety at risk but they will have wasted your money too.
You can never be sure where one’s web jottings go so making things up is not a good idea,
someone will soon pick you up on it.
Andrew Bashford would never have dreamed that his abuse of a Transport Research Laboratory report would reach the team who wrote it.
Bexley Council has been making things up about their LED street lamps. Brighter, safer and people love them so much they stop the Leader in the street to tell her.
Those claims amused a qualified lighting engineer and he emailed with a few facts. His message wasn’t intended for publication but he subsequently gave his permission so long as his comments were knocked into shape a bit. So with just a few tweaks to the presentation, this is what he says.
I am a Lighting Industry Federation Certified Engineer. The LIF is part of the Chartered Institution of Building Engineers and lighting has been my life’s work.
LED lights are not especially efficient, certainly not as efficient as Sodium lighting. The ones Bexley Council has removed would have generated 101 lumens per watt, the more orange variants which fell out of favour produced 177 lumens per watt.
An LED might provide 80 lumens per watt with the best of them getting nearer to 100 lumens so with current technology, if they are using half the power the very best LEDs will fall a little short of half the output of Sodium lights - the sort Bexley Council were using.
LEDs become a little more efficient at low temperatures.
The LEDs themselves are pretty bomb proof, they fail because the control gear dies.
The technology is improving all the time but it takes a while to reach the marketplace. If Bexley has not used the very latest technology I fear it might not be as reliable as they would hope with less than optimal light output.
Light spread is a big issue with LEDs. I designed the lighting for several oil rigs where Health & Safety is a major consideration and they have since been converted to LEDs. Because the light does not spread the number of lamps had to be increased. Bexley Council would need to increase the number of lamp posts by at least 50% for the street lighting to maintain the safety levels achieved by the Sodium lamps.
As it is now coverage is a lot less even if the LEDs had the same or even a higher lumen rating than their predecessors.
At home I try to balance output, outlay and efficiency. As such the only place you will find LEDs is in the fish tank as they highlight the colours on the fish and in the porch light and just one table lamp which are both there for their decorative effect. For where we actually need light I would not currently consider LEDs.
They look modern, but they’re not. Bexley Council does not know what they are doing or there would not be so many complaints, when I look out my window I find myself wondering if there’s been a power cut.
I have an email from Bexley Council dated 14th June 2017 which provides comparative data on the lamps, it was referring specifically to Townley Road so the bigger ones found on busier roads, not the tiddly thing that is at the end of my drive.
This is what it has to say about light output.
The light output values are as follows:-
LED Lumen output = 8,800 Lumens (SON/T Lumen Output = 18,000 Lumens)
LED Drive Current = 690mA (SON/T Drive Current = N/A)
LED Circuit Watts = 69W (SON/T Circuit Watts = 180W)
Without going into a Physics and Electronics lesson the LED is white light and is more efficient than any other light source.
Those figures confirm near enough the 101 lumens per watt stated by the lighting engineer but they claim 127 for the LED, well above what the engineer says the best will give. Maybe he will have something to say about that.
However nothing masks the fact that Bexley Council says the LEDs are providing only 48% of the light from a Sodium and you don’t have to be LIF Certified to see that they produce only a puddle of light on the road beneath.
Albion Road/Gravel Hill
BiB has yet to receive any message suggesting that the wrecking of Albion Road by Bexley Council has any merit, even cyclists are complaining about it.
There have been two more complaints in the past 48 hours. “The upgrade to Albion Road is a total waste of TFL and Bexley ratepayers’ money It will cause mayhem in the Broadway at critical times.”
Another complaint asked if I knew how much it cost but I don’t. If I remember correctly the Broadway regeneration (code for a few blocks. no kerbs and a silly roundabout) cost £3·5 million but I have no recollection of a figure being given for Phase 2. Does anyone know?
Freedom of Information request
In BiB’s eight years I have only submitted three FOIs, one of them only five weeks ago. It has not been answered which puts it more than a week beyond its due date.
I suppose if you send out an email which says “Dear Mr Knight, Thank you and Constantine for the information provided. This is being investigated and I will advise you on developments. Regards, Stephen Didsbury, Head of Waste & Public Protection” and then fail to follow up and do nothing more about it, it will take a while to manufacture a plausible excuse.
Constantine sent video, I sent Mr. Didsbury photos of fly tipping in progress.
Councillor Michael Barnbrook
It lasted six months. Mick Barnbrook has resigned from his local Parish Council. It was an uphill struggle to drag his fellow Councillors into the 21st Century but he soldiered on, but no way will Michael put up with any form of corruption as Bexley Council knows to its cost.
His Parish Council voted to fund the local Residents’ Association which might have been a reasonable thing to do except that the Councillors and the Association’s Committee are to some extent one and the same. No one was interested in considering a possible conflict of interest and every Councillor apart from Mick voted to give the residents group the cash.
Mick is now working with other former Councillors who have been down the same route to combat the corruption from the outside.
Today is the day when the monthly picture diary is signed off. The station has opened, so has WH Smiths (they have lost my custom already), but the external lifts are still awaited, 74 steps to reach the platform! On Thursday Network Rail management told me that one lift would open that very day - but it didn’t.
My guess is that they didn’t want to risk a breakdown - it’s a Stannah! - over the weekend when engineering support might be in short supply.
Check it out tomorrow morning, everything appears to be ready.
LED street lamps
Another subject on which BiB has never received a single message of support is LED lighting. Universally condemned as dim and unsafe but according to Bexley Council absolutely the reverse of that.
Council Leader Teresa ONeill claims that people are queueing up to thank her for changing the light bulbs; maybe they are muggers and burglars, the most obvious beneficiaries.
Fortunately BiB has a wide readership and one is a professional lighting engineer. Tomorrow BiB will reveal his verdict on Bexley Council’s claims.
Maybe it is time for another reminder that the Bexley is Bonkers Facebook page is not me. It has my total support and it frequently reflects BiB blogs but is not usually me writing there.
I haven’t a clue what a Friend Request is or what would happen if one should be accepted and like Messages - is that the right term? - they effectively disappear down a black hole. If the Bonkers’ Facebook administrator became your friend it would be a form of deception.
The best way of getting a message through to me is the Contact page. Both email and web form are available there.
To further illustrate the Councillor Fothergill libel report four more
documents have been placed on line.
The Claim Form. 6th April 2016
Libel 1. 14th April 2016. (Part of the claim but not pursued in Court.)
Libel 2. 19th May 2015. (Sent to all of AMAX Estate’s lessees.)
Libel 3. 6th July 2015. (Sent to all members of Mariner’s Walk Management Company.)
Index to related blogs and documents.
BiB has reported that the total cost of the Maxine Fothergill libel case was
likely to hit £350,000 because that is what one of the claimants told me,
however that may not be quite as precise a figure that Bonkers would
prefer to report. A bit more detail would not go amiss.
I have now waded through the file far enough to see some figures from the horse’s mouth, namely the solicitor Mark Lewis.
Bearing in mind that he is renowned in his field, phone hacking, Milly Dowler, the Fake Sheik, Katie Hopkins, he can presumably name his own price but when he saw the Maxine Fothergill papers he offered to take on the job on a no win no fee basis. Wow, he must have been confident of winning!
Technically a Conditional Fee Arrangement (CFE) coupled with an After The Event (ATE) Insurance. (Google it, I had to.)
I doubt a real Invoice exists at this early stage but I have the email in which Mark Lewis provides an estimate.
His own costs together with a success fee is put at £80,000 and he guesses that Councillor Fothergill’s legal team might charge her £60,000.
As the case was defended on a personal basis rather than in her company’s name VAT becomes payable. That was a bit of a mistake wasn’t it?
So if Mark’s estimate is correct that’s £168,000.
Then there are the two damages awards of £30,000 and £40,000. We are up to £238,000 now.
The ATE insurance premium was £50,000. Total £288,000!
On top of that Maxine Fothergill hired a private eye who would not have come cheap but we are still some way short of Mark Lewis’s £350,000 estimate.
Where did the extra come from?
So far only one Court case has been mentioned here, but there was another one. Amax Estates applied for an Injunction against Hayley Warnes and Ray Robson. The Court dismissed it almost immediately. Another costly exercise. Maybe that is what makes up the bill to £350k., not sure.
Claimant Ray Robson was correct to quote the £350,000 total because that is what his solicitor put in his email, “so well over £350,000” he said, but how he reached that figure is not clear to me.
seem to have mislaid the Bellway Homes leaflet that I picked up from
exhibition last month but Elwyn Bryant was more careful with his and he told
me it referred to a total of 518 homes; seven studios, 216 one bed, 248 two bed
and 47 three bed apartments with some units being affordable housing and a
mixture of social rented and shared ownership properties.
He asked Bellway Homes if they could shed more light on figures for affordable and rented properties but they told him it would all be down to Bexley Council.
Elwyn wrote to Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Growth Linda Bailey to see if she had formulated any ideas about possible numbers. She said she had no idea as Bellway has not yet submitted a planning application.
That suggests to me that Bellway Homes and Linda Bailey are being evasive. I would expect major developments such as The Eastside Quarter to be discussed in great detail with planning officers before a formal application is made. It would surely be madness to spend tens of thousands of pounds hiring architects and drawing up plans without getting some idea beforehand of what the Council is likely to approve. One might similarly suggest that at the very least a ball park figure for affordable and rented homes would be known.
Surely Bexley Council must have a target to aim for but maybe things are as chaotic in Bexley as the alternative would suggest. Elwyn asked Councillor Bailey what figure she and Bexley Council would recommend.
However Cabinet Member Bailey held her ground. She has no idea what the planning department will recommend.
Are we expected to believe that the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Growth has never given the planning officers any idea of what level of affordable homes she and her Cabinet colleagues would like to see?
More plausibly Councillor Bailey says that the Planning Committee “will decide whether the plans are compatible with Bexley’s policies”, but what policies?
If Linda Bailey knows what the policies relating to affordable and rented housing are she didn’t want to tell Elwyn.
Maybe the clue is in Bellway’s name for the site, but I doubt it.
was another knife incident (†) in Abbey Wood last night and for the second
time recently I was within yards and minutes of the crime scene.
Yesterday evening I alighted from a train around 17:25, took a picture of the station lift (Photo 211) that was supposed to be opened for service that afternoon, but wasn’t, and another of an inconsiderately parked car in Gayton Road (date stamped 17:28) and continued on my way home. I heard a police siren and thought nothing of it, sirens are heard on and off all day.
If Kent999s has his timing right, fewer than 100 yards away but the other side of the railway line serious police activity was in progress.
Within a one and a half mile circle around Abbey Wood station and over the past month the number of victims of knife crime has I believe now hit double figures yet no one outside the immediate area knows anything about this shocking state of affairs. Three of the victims were police officers so that was given short lived publicity but the others did little more than cause a flutter on Facebook.
Perhaps this is because none proved fatal and some of the wounds were reported to be little more than deep scratches but that may have been down to pure luck.
Amanda Denford knows a thing or two about unreported stabbing, her son was very lucky to survive and ‘died’ several times in the ambulance and on the operating table. She says that the police brush crime under the carpet to improve the statistics. Each day local police teams put out the previous day’s crime statistics on Twitter and I have yet to read any about stabbings.
I’ll give you an example of what I believe is the casting of a Nelsonian eye over local crime spots, I shouldn’t but I will.
In my capacity of Secretary to the Abbey Wood Traders’ Association, ten days ago I heard ‘officialdom’ tell the membership that after the police, Council wardens and Council officials had spent the best part of two months keeping the Wilton Road area under close surveillance, no evidence of crime had been seen and as such the police and others are unlikely to be “tasked” to look at the area for much longer.
Since I took on the role 18 months ago I have heard officialdom make many promises and I am not aware that any have been carried through except that last week Bexley Council got around to putting in the long promised demarcation studs in the Wilton Road pavement to indicate the boundary of the public footpath with the privately owned land. (They have not yet attended to Abbey Road.)
When the inevitable happens and there is a serious incident in Wilton Road I am going to go through all the old meeting minutes and pick out all the warnings that Council officials have been given over the past year or so and highlight their failings, names and all.
They may well go into denial but every meeting has been audio recorded and the files sit safely on the cloud somewhere.
The Anti-Social Behaviour and worse in around Abbey Wood should not be hidden. Councils profess not to have seen any but most likely they are blinded by budget cuts.
† It was subsequently reported that last night’s weapon of choice was a hammer.
When Bexley first installed
LED street lamps in Welling I drove around after
midnight and couldn’t believe how dim they were. True the roads were unfamiliar
to me but I found driving there really difficult.
The sodium lamps in my own road were removed soon afterwards and it was immediately apparent that my front door was in comparative darkness and my back garden was getting no light at all and until then it was illuminated quite well. I suppose that is a good thing, why should I expect Bexley Council to be illuminating my flower beds at night?
I have grown to quite like the things but let no one tell you they are brighter than before. I know that is what Bexley Council has been saying but like most things they say it simply isn’t true.
I have an email from Bexley Council confirming that the output of the LEDs is less than half of the sodium lamps. My camera exposure meter agrees.
Council Leader Teresa O’Neill is on the record as saying that people come up to her and thank her for the new lights, do people really go up to her for anything let along lamp posts? One of my correspondents doesn’t think so and conducted a quick poll of residents in his street.
I read recently that one of our council members had received good comments from a number of people about the new LED lights. I have spoken to many of my neighbours and cannot find anyone who is remotely interested in them, let alone impressed by the things.
I went out during the evening rush and found it difficult to see the kerb as I was driving against the oncoming car head lights on the other side of the road.
I understand that another local borough is finding that their new LED lights are failing already. My own experience in my own home is that LED lights fail in less than a year, not the 15 - 20 years they are supposed to last.
Is that true? I bought some LED lamps in 2008 to go in what was then a new kitchen but never got around to installing them. Not bought any since. I have a lifetime’s supply of tungsten lamps stashed away in the loft.
When the police officer who arrested Hayley Warnes and kept her in suspense
for eleven months heard that she had won her claim for damages against her
former employer Councillor Maxine Fothergill he sent a brief email
congratulating both her and surveyor Ray Robson on “a pretty good result” and
said that except that it was frowned upon by Kent Police he would have “used a smiley face”.
But it wasn’t always like that, the police officer had fallen under Maxine Fothergill’s spell. No Councillor could ever do anything wrong, if she said Hayley was a fraudster then a fraudster she must be.
He wrote to the CPS to say she had committed a series of frauds, not alleged frauds, he was convinced that frauds had taken place. His case would eventually collapse but meanwhile he was pursuing it vigorously with a closed mind. Like the police in Sidcup who jumped because Councillor Massey said that a mess of random pixels revealed the personal details of his daughter.
The Kent officer went further and told the CPS that a third party was disseminating false information to discredit his witnesses. That third party was Ray Robson who is now £30,000 richer thanks to Councillor Fothergill’s acknowledged libel.
Click to read all of the police’s note to the CPS.
Ray provided Kent police with reasons to discontinue their investigation into
Hayley’s ‘fraud’ and was rewarded with a threat of prosecution for attempting to
Pervert the Course of Justice.
Their minds were made up.
Smiley faces may be unprofessional but apparently ridiculing members of the public is not.
Click to read all of the police letter to Ray Robson.
It is only because the police officer came to regret his error that his name has been suppressed.
In recent days I have been asked not to make any further reference to Councillor Maxine Fothergill’s libel case and
to withdraw what has been said so far. Reasons given range from the case has
nothing to do with Bexley Council through to it damaging AMAX Estates, Councillor Fothergill’s business.
Having spent eight years exposing Bexley Council lies and picking fault with all three parties at one time or another, suppressing any relevant issue, especially such a big one, must surely be wrong. My personal view is that if one shows favouritism, integrity flies out of the window. Publicity may well damage AMAX Estates but being economical with the truth is what Bexley Council does, not this blog, so there is no real alternative to publication so long as everything can be backed up by documentary evidence.
Getting hold of those documents proved to be a torturous process but they are here now in both paper and electronic format.
After leaving readers dangling without the ultimate proof of what has been reported it is essential that something is made available as soon as possible so this evening BiB presents the basics of the agreement made in Court. It is called a Consent Order and includes the names and addresses of 274 residents in AMAX managed properties who were sent the libellous letter.
The majority of those tenants are Bexley residents and their details are entirely redacted from the documents published here.
Today BiB will restrict itself to documentary evidence that requires no interpretation. The initial read through produced more than one gasp of disbelief because they struck me as implausible to say the least, some of the AMAX internal messages appeared to be encouraging dishonesty and one of the major defence exhibits is a document which gives the impression of being a forgery. Who would put such a thing before a judge?
This is not like the every day event of Bexley Conservatives lying on Twitter and hoping to fool a gullible population, it is a Bexley Councillor apparently attempting to bamboozle a High Court Judge and expecting to get away with it.
The big libel was that an AMAX employee had misappropriated a large sum of money when it would seem that she did no more than refuse an invitation to be a party to what she judged to be malpractice. That employee, Hayley Warnes, was made the scapegoat for an unaccounted £26,000 and reported to the police. Additionally a Private Investigator was hired to track her movements and a Court Order obtained to forensically examine Ms. Warnes financial affairs. Nothing untoward was found.
Ms. Warnes was under arrest from 9th April 2015 until 7th March 2016 and was pregnant for most of that time. The police and the Court found the allegations to be unfounded and one would think that Councillor Fothergill must have known the truth of the matter but let Hayley suffer the stress anyway.
She was not the only person involved in this business who Councillor Fothergill had arrested but the other lady did not take any action for libel.
The critical libellous statement is unfortunately omitted from the papers so far obtained but the recipients’ addresses represent a close link to Bexley. A copy has been requested. (It became available from the Index page on 19th November 2017.)
Meanwhile an extract from a letter which says much the same thing
It is important to recognise that these accusations were judged in Court to be entirely unfounded and
constructed to cover sums of money that had gone missing; where, no one is absolutely sure.
Obviously there is more to this story to come including less than honourable behaviour by Kent Police but for the moment there has been time to put only four documents on line.
The High Court’s Consent Order.
The settlement order agreed in Court.
Councillor Fothergill’s letter of apology.
Councillor Fothergill’s statement in Court.
As already stated, the agreed damages totalled £70,000 and the Court and similar costs - I have the estimated legal bill itemised by the claimant’s solicitor - comes to more than £280,000.
When I was a kid living in Aldershot in the 1950s it was the proud “Home of the British
Army” and in those idyllic pre-terrorist days we could ride our bikes
around the barracks free of all restrictions.
The barrack rooms consisted mainly of rusty and neglected corrugated iron huts. One day while the gang of young cyclists was passing through we noticed that all the huts were being given a quick lick of whitewash by dozens of young squaddies. We asked what was going on.
The nearest soldier said we wouldn’t be allowed in the next day because the Queen was due to make an inspection. We observed that only the fronts of the huts were being painted, the Royal party would never see the back half and if the Queen did not return the fronts would never see a paint brush again.
Something like that is going on in Bexley at the moment. After four years of cutting services, Bexley’s Tory controlled Council has saved some money and decided to spend some of it on undoing the damage done to the borough in previous years.
Tree planting, street cleaning, weed spraying, road and footpath repairs and of course fence painting are all having money spent on them. Not as much as was spent at the time of the last election but more than last year and the year before.
The Queen might not be visiting but there is an election just around the corner and just like the Queen was not due back to Aldershot there won’t be another election until 2022.
Bexley Council is in effect spending taxpayers’ money to fund their election campaign.
A detailed examination of the figures shows that the money is being spent in Council wards the Conservatives must retain next May in the face of a possible Corbyn tide.
Too often I have felt that Bexley Labour has simply sat back and accepted this abuse of power but today I am pleased to note that they are kicking back.
Why do Bexley Conservatives employ dishonest tactics in practically everything they do?
Labour Press Release: Click to read it all.
Although they deny it, Bexley Council has form for favouring Conservative
wards. In the Summer of 2011 when there was a bit of spare money sloshing around
it was decided to spend some on extending the CCTV system. Given the choice
between putting cameras in leafy and genteel Bexley Village and the relatively
crime ridden Thamesmead, guess where the money was spent.
Now that money is tight the system is no longer monitored and is of a lot less use than it used to be.
The Tories will point to the new Belvedere Beach and the improvement at Lesnes Abbey but they didn’t have much choice did they? They were spending Cory Environmental money in Belvedere and it was only available if spent close to the Cory incinerator.
Some Tories would probably be happier if Richard de Luci had built his Abbey further south but the fact is he didn’t and it is where it is. In any case nearly 90% of the refurbishment money came from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
I am feeling a little like the Grand Old Duke of York who marched his men to
the top of the hill and marched them down again but until I have a copy of a
certain document in my hands I am unwilling to go into too much detail about the
Councillor Fothergill libel case except to say it definitely happened and she definitely lost.
The bundle of papers sent to the press failed to reach me and it apparently failed to reach the newspapers too. It was a huge attachment sent from Dehli.
The principal plaintiff had a busy day yesterday and did not find the time to assemble a new pack. Today he has some other business to attend to so the probability is that a copy of the agreement reached in Court will not be available until tomorrow.
I am in receipt of documentation from both sides of the argument and they are to some extent contradictory so it is important to get things absolutely right before putting anything more in the public domain. Meanwhile the following is a slightly edited version of what I had planned to say yesterday.
After the long slow build up this blog may seem something of an anti-climax but BiB will be cautious about what can be revealed until it is known how - and if - the press will handle the Maxine Fothergill libel case.
It will be deeply troubling to Councillor Fothergill and BiB must tread the tightrope between not making that situation worse and providing solid facts. News reporting is a fact of life and is a pillar of our democracy.
Firstly it is important to say that recent events have nothing to do with Councillor Maxine Fothergill’s appearance before Bexley Council’s Code of Conduct Committee in December 2015 and them judging that “Councillor Fothergill’s actions could be perceived by an ordinary member of the public, as conferring an advantage or disadvantage on any person or act to gain financial or other material benefits for herself, her family, friends or close associates”.
In practice a member of the public could conceive nothing because they were excluded from the hearing and Bexley Council stonewalled every enquiry as to what Councillor Fothergill was supposed to have done but the gossip machine and a few documentary leaks made it clear that she had purchased a bungalow from an elderly lady she came across while out canvassing. If a fair price was paid, and subsequent enquiries revealed that it was not seriously out of line with the market, what could be wrong with that?
It was left to three residents - the usual BiB team at the time - to make their own enquiries as to how that transaction could become a serious complaint and in doing so they met two of Maxine Fothergill’s business associates and made contact with a third. We were shown some extremely fat files of documents relating to AMAX Estates (Councillor Fothergill’s business) which were said to reveal various business practices of which her associates very strongly disapproved.
Neither I nor Mick Barnbrook who was with me are property professionals and we found the papers difficult to follow. They shed no light on why Maxine Fothergill had been disciplined by Bexley Council so we drifted away from her business associates with only very occasional contact thereafter.
A combination of Bexley Council’s silence and the evidence that was discovered later pointed to Councillor Fothergill having been the victim of a revenge attack by more senior Conservatives.
Just one part of those fat files were easily understood by Mick and me; an AMAX employee, Hayley Warnes, had been reported to the police for fraud. We could see no justification for it and after around 15 months under arrest and investigation by CID officers, the police came to the same conclusion.
Although there is rather more to the libel case than that it was part of what led to it. Hayley Warnes has already been paid £40,000 damages and her new employer £30,000. The legal fees will be in excess of £280,000.
Conflicting advice has been received over whether or not Councillor Fothergill was insured against such losses.
Along with other news outlets, BiB has been included in the plaintiffs’ publicity material but alongside them this blog is just a minnow. The story has links to the borough of Bexley in addition to the obvious one and to let the subject go unreported might appear to be a dereliction of duty. I have a natural sympathy with people who are arrested on the basis of false evidence at the request of any Councillor.
There will be further reports once certain documents are received and digested.
Like you I was expecting
today’s business in the High Court to have leaked into the public domain
by now, but it hasn’t so far as I know.
I have spoken to someone who was in Court this morning and everything went according to plan but the vital written confirmation has not yet arrived. My information is that the Court did not issue any such confirmation and maybe it will only come via lawyers in the coming days.
Not only did today’s promised confirmation not arrive but the press bundle supposedly attached to one of yesterday’s emails was missing (†). It should have been widely distributed to the press and the plaintiffs’ legal team but the aforesaid Court visitor has told me all of theirs was missing too. It is therefore possible that today’s news may not appear in the newspapers as quickly as expected.
Until it does arrive BiB will not reveal any more about the case.
I have been assured that the successful plaintiffs are both well but very tired and very busy working their way through a back log of work.
Presumably they will be in touch again before long.
† Apparently it was bigger that 11MB so it is not too surprising that most email systems couldn’t cope.
Councillor Teresa O’Neill’s report was rather longer than it usually is but
there is an election coming up and she was keen to reel off a list of
achievements and maybe create a few sound bites for the Council’s publicity machine to pump out.
She began by referring to “lots of ribbons cut and lots of exciting things over the summer”. Belvedere Beach, Lesnes Abbey woods was “absolutely fantastic”, Erith Lighthouse, the “enhancement” of Hall Place, street cleaning and tree planting and “all possible because of the sound financial management of this borough”.
“Bexley will be better off over the next two years by £5·6 million because of Business Rate Retention” which the Leader was claiming as a personal achievement that gave her grey hair. (Sooner or later money out of your pocket that Bexley Council will decide how to spend for you.)
The Council’s Corporate Plan shows its “aspiration for the borough taking it forward as does the Growth Agenda”.
“Everything is coming together nicely with BexleyCo and I know it will achieve something going forward.”
Bexley Council and all three MPs persuaded the Mayor to keep Bexleyheath police station open. “We fight for residents, we deliver for them and we have aspirations for them”.
Councillor Eileen Pallen (Conservative, Barnehurst) asked the Council to join her in congratulating those involved in gaining a Looked After Children award for Bexley.
Councillor Daniel Francis (Labour, Belvedere) had a list of questions.
• About the overspending on children with high needs.
• The claimed increase in grass cutting and weed spraying merely restores the situation that prevailed before the 2014 election which was promptly slashed afterwards. Was the latest increase yet another example of Bexley Conservatives spending taxpayers’ money on their election campaign?
• Shelter’s report shows that Bexley has 2,929 homeless residents, what is the Council doing about it?
• While welcoming the retention of the police station for which he campaigned he had been advised by the Deputy Mayor of London that MOPAC will have to find a further £400 million. The Home Office had advised him that the additional 1% pay rise for the police is affordable and they can go “substantially further in making efficiencies” Does the Leader support that view?
On high needs children the Leader said “because we are in a good position financially we can afford it”.
On “the street scene” the Leader said Councillor Francis’s question “showed a lack of understanding of the Council budget really. If we had not taken the action we did we would not be in a position to put these things back into the budget. They are now in the baseline and will be repeated”.
Councillor Francis interjected that neither are in the baseline and provided the necessary evidence that the Leader was mistaken.
The Leader continued to claim that she was correct and said that next year the electorate would have the choice of “no street cleaning, no trees etc. or they can vote Conservative”.
On the homeless figures she believed Bexley was “24th out 32 boroughs which was pretty well up”. Just like Bexley is 24th in the Council tax league and has low Council tax.
Saving Bexleyheath police station was “fantastic but a Labour member at a People Scrutiny meeting said he had no problem with it being closed”. News to me. She refused to comment on the letter from the Home Office.
Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, North End) asked which Labour Member was in favour of police station closures. The Mayor attempted to come to the Leader’s rescue by asking Councillor Val Clark to put her question.
Councillor Francis objected. “Who was it?” The Leader still refused to say. (Is there time to check the webcast? No.)
It transpired that Councillor Clark (Conservative, Falconwood & Welling) wanted to praise school crossing patrols.
Councillor Munur (Conservative, East Wickham) made a similar comment about social care services which have improved since Cabinet Member Read took on the responsibility. The way that Councillor Read read a prepared speech suggests that the comment and question must have been staged for the webcast.
Councillor Mabel Ogundayo (Labour, Thamesmead East) was disappointed that the Council did nothing to support Black History Month “apart from a tiny little advert placed in some libraries”. She asked the Leader what she might have missed.
Cabinet Member Peter Craske said the event was marked in schools and there are plans for next year. “There are loads of things going on.”
Councillor Andy Dourmoush (Conservative, Longlands) made another of those isn’t Bexley wonderful comments, his was to say how well Hall Place was doing now that it is back under Council control. The Leader resorted to her favourite F word, “fantastic”. Councillor Craske said that Hall Place was due to host a Lego exhibition next year; Bexley, borough of high culture.
The Mayor then called time on the less than enlightening proceedings.
One in 84 Bexley residents is living in temporary accommodation, that’s more
than 3,000 people, an almost incredible figure.
There is no sign of Bexley council having any answers and is content to approve planning applications devoid of affordable homes.
Labour Press Release: Click to read it all.
Bexley Council issues lots of Press Releases
many of which remain available here
but the local Conservative party confines its propaganda to a mixture of Twitter and blogs
which generally serve no other purpose than to misrepresent their Labour opposition.
When it comes to Press Releases it is Bexley’s Labour Group which is the conservative party preferring to play things straight and factual. Their latest Press Release offers support for the London Living wage and highlights the Archway Project which is a Living Wage employer in Thamesmead.
Labour Press Release: Click to read it all.
And while they were checking out the Archway Project facilities they took a selfie.
Cllr. Mabel Ogundayo, Cllr. Stef Borella, Cllr. Danny Hackett, Chrissie Ashley and Alison Harper (both from Archway Project) and Cllr. Daniel Francis
At last a little can be revealed. Ms. Hayley Warnes, one time employee of Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill
at her estate agency, AMAX Estates in Gravesend, claims to have sued Ms. Fothergill in the High Court.
Up against top libel solicitor Mark Lewis who considered the evidence to be overwhelming, he offered Councillor Fothergill an out of Court settlement which was declined.
Mr. Lewis is the successful solicitor behind the News of the World phone hacking scandal and the cases brought by the family of Milly Dowler and football manager Joe Royle against Manchester City. His personal claim against the Metropolitan Police also succeeded, yet Councillor Fothergill or her legal team must have thought she could take him on.
Tomorrow’s session will be the formal wrapping up of the case, the final settlement is already agreed.
Hayley and her current employer who also sued Ms. Fothergill has already sent various news outlets a wealth of information with more to come as soon as tomorrow’s hearing is concluded.
I may decide to go easy on the details and let the national press pick up the story, I do not particularly want to employ Mr. Lewis myself.
the whole of my 30 years in Abbey Wood - technically Belvedere but Abbey
Wood is much closer - I have never felt more depressed about the place.
Years of Council neglect and central government policies have changed it out of recognition and £4·2 million of new flower beds and stone features in Lesnes Abbey Park has done nothing whatsoever to lift my mood.
If I counted correctly there were seven knifings of various severity within a couple of miles of home over a period of 13 days less than a month ago. Not long before someone was bashed to a pulp with baseball bats less than ten minute’s walk away. Overnight the new Sainsbury’s appears to have become a victim unless perhaps a shopping trolley careered out of control within the store.
Meanwhile I hear that the attention the area has been given since September by the police and Greenwich Council is likely to end soon for lack of evidence of bad behaviour.
When I tell my country bumpkin relatives what goes on - my son in Wiltshire doesn’t see the need to lock his doors - I am asked why I stay here. They have a good point but who else will look after the old lady in East Ham?
Photographs by Brian Barnett. @thamesmeadnews
thought I would cover the Leader’s report from last week’s full Council meeting
today but then an email from Delhi of all places reminded me that getting ready
for next Tuesday’s news is probably a higher priority and as always happens it
soaks up more time than expected.
Last week it was a good natured Councillor Alex Sawyer who was making tea for the press camped on his doorstep. I recommend that any interested hacks should bring their own Thermos flask this time around.
I am rarely excited by the Motions that Councillors like to put before their
colleagues but I expect that is because I am not a good Socialist. Last
Wednesday Councillor John Husband (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) tried his luck at
getting Bexley Conservatives to Go Green.
He made a number of gloomy forecasts among them that Peterborough, presently 35 miles from the coast, would become Peterborough-on-Sea. Donald Trump’s name kept popping up, maybe he has interests in Bexley we don’t know about.
The Councillor was even more concerned for the thousands of homes built on the Thames floodplain (including his own) and the tens of thousands planned, may become uninsurable. Before long another Thames Barrier will be needed further down stream he suggested.
The Motion was backed by Councillor Danny Hackett (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) with a number of claims and statistics, among them the unsurprising one that Bexley residents use their cars far more often than their counterparts in other boroughs.
It is always immediately apparent when a Labour Motion has found favour with the Conservatives; they make a minor revision and then claim it as their own.
Unfortunately the webcast does not reveal what the Conservative amendment was but apparently it was free of the “grandstanding” to which London Mayor Sadiq Khan is said to be prone.
Councillor Louie French (Falconwood & Welling) said that Bexley Council had already made steps in the Green direction and cited the move to a single Civic Office in 2014. He mischievously claimed that Labour was against that move to a single site which isn’t true, they only favoured a different location.
He said the LED lighting scheme was another Green move. “Brighter, better for the environment and less costly.” The Council’s own figures show it is in fact dimmer but let’s not quibble, it had to be done for the anticipated £685,00 a year saving.
Councillor French went on to praise the street tree planting programme - complete with anti-Labour rhetoric - but not the parallel tree and park destruction programme.
Pictures of Waring Park by Sidcup Community Group.
issued a plea to Mayor Sadiq Khan to deliver the improved transport
infrastructure that Bexley’s Growth Strategy requires and to the telecoms companies
to reduce where possible the need for transport by providing adequate broadband
facilities - Bexley Council having recently seen the futility of
antagonistic towards essential street work.
In a further nod to the future he advocated more charging points for electric vehicles “which might generate a small income”.
Councillor David Leaf (Conservative, Longlands) as always, was keen to parade his views for the benefit of the cameras. Would he resist the temptation to kick the Labour opposition? Of course not. The criticism came with his first breath.
He believed that Councillor Husband was more interested in criticising President Donald Trump’s climate change policies than he was in the welfare of Bexley residents, a thought that wasn’t a million miles from my own while listening to the Motion. Haven’t we had enough Trump bashing already?
Councillor Leaf said that he had read most of the European Union documents on climate change as part of his day job. Labour “talked the good talk but underperformed” but since the coming of a Conservative government electricity generated from renewables had risen from about 2% to 25%. Carbon emissions had shown similar successes since Labour lost power.
Despite the national successes he thought that Green policies mattered most at local level but produced no new examples. He repeated the savings due to the move to a single Civic Office but was “disappointed that Councillor Husband scored cheap political points by talking down the Growth Strategy with his reference to flooding”.
Councillor Husband was happy to see the Motion expanded to include references to the Council’s historical achievements but not the removal of future ambitions. (It would be helpful to see the amended motion but webcast viewers are left to guess at what if anything was cut from the original.)
Despite the Labour reservations the amended Motion was adopted unanimously.
Note: I’m still not sure where this climate change business is going. 2017 has not only been the least sunny year in Belvedere since I started keeping records in 2011, it is 3% behind last year which was the previous worst year. 2017 is 8% behind 2014, the best of the past seven years.
I think I feel like an athlete who has just seen his long held record
broken and I will be trying to move future Traders’ meeting dates so that
I don’t miss
important Council meetings again. On the other hand I am really pleased I was
able to hear what Greenwich Council was planning for Abbey Wood. That was unmissable whereas the Council meeting is available as a webcast.
Webcasts are a pale imitation of the real thing losing all the atmosphere and sometimes who voted for what is not always as clear as it could be, but it’s better than nothing.
The first significant item on last night’s Agenda was questions and if you were around on the 4th November you will know that the first was a put up job by Tory activist Richard Diment who was keen to get Councillor Craske to reel off some facts and figures about the street cleaning schedule. Not too many facts mind because no ones is supposed to know that the budget has been shrinking but presented by a skilled ex-Downing Street spin doctor things can be made to sound quite good.
“We spend three million pounds a year on keeping this borough clean”, Councillor Craske said. “Daily cleans in town centres and a three week cycle in residential roads.”
Thirty roads which have been difficult to clean due to parked cars are currently being given special attention. Craske joked that one of the affected roads was Councillor Alex Sawyer’s which would be looking good on TV following the current media attention at his address.
He has bought some new litter bins and his priority is to deploy the first of them in that filthy centre of deprivation known as Bexley Village.
Bigger bins will be going into parks and the grass will be cut more often.
The litter enforcement scheme has been a money spinner with over 4,000 penalty notices issued so it is to become a permanent feature in the major town centres - but probably not elsewhere because there is no money to be made in other places.
The new street cleaning machine will arrive within the next week or two.
Another member of the public asked Cabinet Member Linda Bailey what she thought of the Mayor of London’s Housing Strategy. Unfortunately she had not yet formulated her response to the Mayor but we learned she “was gravely concerned” about some aspects of it.
Councillor Seán Newman (Labour, Belvedere) asked Cabinet Member Bailey if she was surprised to see how poorly the borough had been rated by the Mayor for the provision of affordable housing.
She was but without explaining anything, said “the document explained it all”. No one was any the wiser until some time later when she suggested that single year figures were unreliable and should only be “considered over time”.
Seán went on to say that of the 1,361 housing units approved for Belvedere Park, Erith Quarry and Maxim Road, precisely “zero were affordable”.
Councillor Bailey said the number should be 35% but passed responsibility to the Planning Committee while reminding Councillor Newman that at Erith Quarry the Council accepted the offer of a free school instead of houses for less well off people.
Councillor Danny Hackett (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) asked man of the moment Alex Sawyer to explain his much vaunted increased expenditure on road and footway repairs and compare it with the four previous years.
“2013/14 £2·29 million. 14/15 £1·69 million. 15/16 1·85 million. 16/17 £1·65 million. 17/18 £3·49”.
Presumably it was Councillor Hackett’s intention to show that in road repairs as with everything else, Bexley Conservatives have held back expenditure in order to put on a good show in an election year.
Cabinet Member Sawyer’s further retort did indeed confirm that the extra expenditure was a pre-election stunt, “do you support the extra?“ he bellowed at Danny, “if you don’t, have the guts to put it in your own manifesto.”
In further confirmation that he has been manipulating the budget for party political gain, Councillor Sawyer was unable to confirm that the pre-election rise would be maintained in the following year.
Councillor Eileen Pallen (Conservative, Barnehurst) asked Cabinet Member Brad Smith how the Ageing Well event held on 14th October went. “Very well” we were told. 200 residents showed up.
Councillor Louie French (Conservative, Falconwood & Welling) earned the rare distinction of asking a question of immediate interest to a very large number of Bexley residents.
He wanted to know what Cabinet Member Sawyer was doing to prevent “the dreaded SouthEastern” from implementing their “ridiculous” skip stop Autumn timetable. Falconwood and Welling stations had suffered significantly reduced services.
Alex said that six trains an hour had been reduced to three or four. He should perhaps venture further north where he would find six trains an hour have been reduced to only two stopping at the minor stations.
He said that unfortunately the failure to provide a decent service was approved by the Department of Transport in conjunction with the Meteorological Office and he “would jump up and down and scream but there is very little we can do”.
When asked if Bexley commuters were getting value for money from SouthEastern Councillor Sawyer simply answered “No, their services are bizarre” and went on to list a whole host of examples. Impressive for someone who admitted not using trains.
Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, North End) reminded Councillor Sawyer of the Transport Minister’s well known failings when extending SouthEastern’s franchise and advocated TfL control of their suburban services. Councillor Sawyer said he disagreed with Councillor Borella on every point he made.
Councillor Colin McGannon (UKIP, Colyers) asked when the Council intends to move forward with the next stage of consultation on their regeneration plans for Slade Green, Erith and Belvedere. “By the end of the year” according to Cabinet Member Bailey. She said it was still a consultation not a planning application and “the myths out there need to be sorted out”.
Councillor Joe Ferreira (Labour, Erith) had a simple question. “How many street trees did Councillor Craske intend to plant?” 300 including those which are part of highway improvement schemes.
Such a simple question was bound to have a sting in its tail. Is it true that only 15 of those are to be planted in Labour wards and is this another pre-election stunt? was the gist of Joe’s supplementary question.
Councillor Craske said that the Labour Councillors voted against spending money on trees [while the poor and the homeless are suffering} so they were getting more than they asked for. He said “the allocation is fair”. Not quite sure how, but that is what the purple pygmy said.
Councillor Caroline Newton (Councillor, St. Michael’s) said she was pleased with the tree planting programme.
And with that the Mayor wrapped up Agenda Item 6.
As stated at the weekend, there was a diary clash this evening; the Abbey
Wood Traders’ meeting (I’m secretary) conflicted with Full Council. The former starts at 6:30
and has never gone on longer than an hour and ten minutes so the plan to get to
Full Council only half an hour late seemed entirely reasonable.
It was not to be. The Traders’ meeting went on until 20:45 and sadly I have missed a Full Council meeting for the first time in seven years, probably a better record than any Councillor but disappointing none the less.
So what was so important about tonight’s Traders’ meeting that justified putting attendance at Full Council in jeopardy?
Both Greenwich and Bexley Councils had promised to send someone from their Anti-Social Behaviour teams to update the Traders on their plans to rid Abbey Wood and Wilton Road in particular of the street drinkers, drug dealers, public micturators, beggars, good time girls and miscellaneous loudmouths who plague the area.
Perceived ASB if not the real thing is driving people away from Abbey Wood’s village shopping area and trading conditions are becoming ever more perilous. The coming of Crossrail will not help if all that commuters want to do is get out of town quick!
Bexley’s ASB representative failed to show up which probably doesn’t matter a lot as the two Councils have been working closely together and will no doubt have the same message.
As you know I am not at liberty to go into any detail about a private meeting but I will say that I am very pessimistic about seeing an improvement any time soon.
The Councils have a few ideas which may over time make marginal improvements but their basic attitude is far too negative. Drinkers sitting on benches? Take the benches away.
Misbehaviour in the public toilets? Close the toilets - and they have.
Any chance they can install CCTV? No, we have no money. What if the traders install their own system? No, you are not allowed to record what goes on in a public space.
Over the past 18 months every promise to improve matters, whether it be by a Bexley Council official or, more often their opposite number in Greenwich, has come to absolutely nothing.
The only time any action was seen was after BiB broke ranks with the Traders’ official position and made a fuss both here and on Facebook.
I am confident that if BiB returns to this subject in a year’s time the story will be just the same.
Cabinet Member in the family that is.
Priti Patel has come off the payroll too. (Alex comes off the payroll.)
Will Alex be at this evening’s Full Council meeting? Could hardly blame him if he decides his priorities lie elsewhere.
I was labelled a misogynist by the local Labour party this morning. Following
last night’s blog they suggested I should encourage more females to be election candidates.
I responded with a list of female politicians who do not enjoy the best of reputations. For the record they were Teresa O’Neill, Theresa May, Priti Patel, Amber Rudd, Dianne Abbott, Emily Thornberry. Sharon Massey and Cheryl Bacon. The list used 139 characters which didn’t leave room for a smiley face but I judged it didn’t need one. Surely everyone would see it as a joke?
Not if you are a socialist apparently.
Few would disagree that in recent years Britain has become an extraordinary mess in practically every conceivable way and sinks further into the morass with each successive news bulletin but I see no lack of female leadership.
Prime Minister - Theresa May.
Home Secretary - Amber Rudd.
Leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party - Nicola Sturgeon.
Leader Democratic Unionist Party - Arlene Foster.
Leader Plaid Cymru - Leanne Wood.
Leader Green Party - Carolyn Lucas.
Leader Scottish Conservatives - Ruth Davidson.
Leader Scottish Labour - Position currently vacant but Kezia Dugdale until two months ago.
Leader of House of Commons - Andrea Leadsom.
Leader of House of Lords - Baroness Natalie Evans of Bowes Park.
Commissioner of Metropolitan Police - Cressida Dick.
Director of Public Prosecutions - Alison Saunders.
Leader of Bexley Council - Teresa O’Neill.
Leader of Greenwich Council - Denise Hyland.
I see no reason to suppose that female leadership is the answer to years of male failure. The only possible change might be a collective sense of humour failure.
is quite a lot of discontent with the performance of Councillors in and around
Abbey Wood. On the Greenwich side of the border the three Councillors are
severely criticised by everyone, on the Bexley side most people think there is
only one Councillor and that is Danny Hackett. Dig a bit deeper and you will find
he has his critics too.
It is not very surprising to find residents keen to find alternatives.
The idea has a certain amount of logic in Greenwich where a Labour Council is accused of neglecting its eastern outpost. The regeneration of Wilton Road achieved very little and was not finished off properly. The gravel strip, always an extremely stupid idea has been entirely kicked away. None of the trees were given any protection either with entirely predictable results.
On the Bexley side of the border we have seen how the minority party is sidelined by ruthless Conservative control, independent thought is simply not permitted by Leader Teresa O’Neill.
Every improvement to the borough’s North West corner has come from outside agencies, Peabody, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Network Rail and two of those are not universally popular.
I was asked to be an Independent candidate by the local organisers but declined. Too old and too cynical. I have seen first hand how Bexley Tories abuse opposition parties and have obliterated every UKIP initiative.
" I also saw how much effort Mick Barnbrook put into Blackfen in 2014 with the intention of damaging Peter Craske’s ego. He failed thanks to the UKIP surge. As an Independent parish Councillor in Ramsgate he gets no support even for simple things like putting pictures of Councillors on their website and providing an ID card for when he visits electors.
The only thing that might send Bexley in a different direction next May is a big swing to Labour and In Greenwich the reverse would appear to be an impossibility.
Bexley Conservatives imposed a street cleaning budget cut.
It’s going to be impossible for me to get to next Wednesday’s Full Council meeting on time which means I will miss public questions.
A few years ago I would have been very disappointed by that. Five years ago people I knew would try hard to get the Council to accept a meaningful question but faced a barrage of rules designed to make things difficult and if possible rule them out of order. One was that anyone posing a question must agree to having their address published on Bexley Council’s web site. Fortunately the Information Commissioner had something to say about that.
If a question did get through the net it would face further obstacles, an answer to a different question might be given, it might become the subject of a filibuster or it could be timed out by slipping in questions from Tory supporters beforehand.
Gradually questions from members of the public diminished in number but next Wednesday we have one.
A Mr. Richard Diment has agreed to boost Councillor Craske’s ego by giving him an opportunity to brag about his new street cleaning machine.
Will the Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Environment and Leisure, provide details of the action being taken to improve the public realm and cleanliness of the Borough?
So who is this Richard Diment drafted in to do a double act with Craske for the benefit of the webcast cameras?
One doesn’t have to look far to find his support for Bexley Tories. (Chris Taylor was defeated in Blackfen by UKIP, the other names are all current Councillors.)
Look a bit harder and you will find references to Richard Diment handing out political leaflets to commuters at railway stations. I doubt they were Labour leaflets.
So Bexley Conservatives, dishonest as ever, have fallen back on the old planted question technique to push their too frequently dishonest propaganda. Talking of which
As one might expect, questions must be addressed to a Cabinet Member and relevant to his or her portfolio. A question to the Leader on knee fondling or to Cabinet Member Craske on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals would quite rightly be rejected. Similarly a question about Mayor Sadiq Khan’s policies or maybe lack thereof would not be accepted.
I know enough of the system not to ask such a question and our Labour Councillors most certainly do. But maybe you didn’t know in which case the most recent of Bexley Conservatives’ dishonest tricks might go unchallenged.
Now that his colleagues seem to have persuaded Councillor Philip Read that blatantly lying on his Twitter account is counter-productive the Tories have had to become far more devious.
The Evening Standard carried an article in August attacking the London Mayor’s record on house building and Bexley’s propaganda machine went into overdrive, goading Labour Councillors for not asking questions about Khan’s failures at Wednesday’s Council meeting.
How could they? There is no responsible Cabinet Member in Bexley at whom to aim such a question.
The Tories own rules would have seen such a question thrown straight out, nevertheless they have managed to distort reality into a story they hope will influence the borough’s gullible.
Bexley Tories have upped their lying game again but we are not all as stupid as they think we are.
If you are
looking for a lift at Abbey Wood station then I am afraid that Stannah are still
letting the side down, however maybe a caffeine injection will provide a different sort of lift.
The WH Smith Coffee Shop opened this morning behind the builder’s hoarding which they have not yet removed.
I was pleased and a little surprised to learn it will be a seven day a week operation, opening at 6 a.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. at the weekends.
Being from the generation that remembers when a Lyons Tea Shop charged 5½ old pence for coffee I think it is safe to say I might try it once and never again.
good luck or by cautious driving over the past 56 years, probably both, I’ve never yet made contact
with another vehicle, except someone once drove into my stationary car while distracted by
a friend waving from the footpath, however that record nearly came to a
sticky end four or five months ago.
Bexley Council rearranged the junction of New Road with Abbey Road quite a long time ago, maybe ten years. It is now more difficult to negotiate which is supposed to make it safer but it is still a little too like an acute Y junction than a T junction. Looking towards the right requires twisting one’s neck through more than 90 degrees. Maybe it was that which was nearly my downfall. Late at night I failed to see a black car approach on side lights only. I had pulled out only a couple of feet before seeing it and going no further. The oncoming driver was easily able to pass in front of me, a calamity averted but I am even more careful at the junction now.
This morning something similar must have happened and a motorcyclist came a cropper. I stayed a respectful distance away but as far as I could judge there were no serious injuries.
The ambulance and fire brigade turned up shortly afterwards but not the police while I was nearby. For reasons which made no sense the fire appliance which put sand over spilt oil, parked sideways on in the middle of the road such that cars could get down the hill but buses couldn’t.
You may have noticed that BiB took no interest in Sadiq Khan’s rather
ridiculous proposal to close Bexleyheath’s police station and thereby police the
town centre from a far flung outpost in Sidcup.
My rational thoughts were subdued by the knowledge that Bexleyheath police station is stuffed full of officers who when in possession of 100% good evidence and a fabrication by a Bexley Councillor will use the latter. (The Olly Cromwell case where a totally false allegation that he had Tweeted about dog faeces and letterboxes was sent to the CPS by officers who absolutely knew that the truth was somewhat different.)
Then there were the two trumped up harassment allegations against myself. The first believed to be engineered by Council Leader Teresa O’Neill for reporting on BiB what Hugh Neal, the well known Erith blogger, had written about her. I was threatened with arrest, Hugh heard nothing at all.
Then more recently the self-important Cabinet Member Don Massey persuaded an obedient police officer that my publication of a mess of unrecognisable pixels with no comment that breached that anonymity had somehow divulged all his daughter’s personal details. One expects dishonesty from Bexley Councillors, it is scandalous when police officers tread the same path.
So maybe you will understand why I didn’t add my name to the petition to save Bexleyheath police station. Moving it as far away from the Civic Offices as possible was not without its attractions.
In any case, no one takes any notice of petitions. Bexleyheath police station has been saved because the police themselves saw all too clearly the problems that would ensue. Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell summarised some of them when he addressed last month’s People Scrutiny meeting.
Despite all that, Bexley's Conservative Councillors are keen to take the credit for saving Bexleyheath police station. Twitter is awash with their wild claims
and maybe they have persuaded some people that they deserve all the credit.
While Bexley Conservatives were busy with their placards, their petitions and their propaganda what were Labour Councillors doing?
Were they in cahoots with the Labour Mayor? Were they marching on City Hall and organising publicity photos?
No, I am afraid they were not.
They were writing well reasoned letters and sending them to influential people. The Home Secretary and the Deputy Head of the Mayor’s Office for Policing (MOPAC) with attachments. (Click the links to read them.)
And finally there is the Bexley Labour welcome for the police station’s reprieve.
When you hear Bexley Conservatives taking all the credit and possibly claiming that Labour wanted to see the station closed you will hopefully know the truth.
There has been another email about
last week’s Transport Users’
Sub-Committee meeting and it prompts me to make an admission. Every Transport
meeting report on BiB, as far back as I can remember, has omitted mention of one topic. Cycling.
Bexley Council doesn’t allow any member of the public to speak at Council meetings. Their rules permit it but no Chairman has yet failed to exercise their prerogative to ban such questions and threaten eviction if the questioner persists.
Unless you are a cyclist at a Transport meeting.
Believe it or not a member of the public who is a keen cyclist is allowed to sit with the Committee and take part in the meeting pushing his pro-cycling Agenda.
Until a bus passenger, a rail commuter, a pedestrian and a motorist is afforded the same privilege he will get no publicity here. It is bad enough that TfL puts cycling above all other forms of transport without Bexley Council doing the same.
Now another biker has emailed me on the subject but not, I am pleased to say, for being censorious
It was pleasing to hear about the plans for more cycle stands and cycle training but are Councillors really interested?
I rode to the Civic Offices and used the cycle rack provided. My bike was very lonely.
Travelling home along Albion Road the absolutely crass Bashford approved cycle lanes were amply demonstrated. They simply disappear whenever they meet an awkward bit such as side roads or roundabouts just where a segregated route would be really appreciated. Straight bits are not the problem. When will road designers ever learn?
It might be appropriate to mention here that when I left the Civic Office in the dark I crossed the Watling Street safeguarded by the traffic lights and found myself with nowhere to go on the other side. I had to walk in the road a short distance to Gravel Hill where there was no approved pedestrian route to the traffic island in the middle of the road.
Having safely got that far there was an opening by the Marriott Hotel through which to get to the footpath, effectively replicating the Watling Street situation. It would be a silly bit of temporary road design by F.M. Conway for daytime use but at night one simply couldn’t see where free passage was blocked.
over two weeks ago Greenwich Council painted nice little back drops on a wall which were only likely to
attract the local graffiti artists of which there are many. (The wall is no more
than 50 metres from the Bexley borough boundary.)
Mr. Quinn who takes a keen and welcome interest in his local community went on Facebook to voice his disapproval. I cannot tell you exactly what he said because his comments are no longer showing on ‘What’s New in SE2’ - or maybe it is me being a Facebook incompetent again. (†) However what Kieran said was as measured as anyone could expect. I went further by suggesting that Greenwich Council’s actions were “moronic”.
Sure enough Kieran’s forecast has been fulfilled in the worst possible way beyond anything he may have imagined or deserves.
A quarter of a mile away Crossrail is taking no chances with their new train. Wikipedia says that the original contract for 66 class 345 trains was worth a billion pounds and four more have been ordered since then, so mounting a 24 hour guard against the Abbey Wood vandals is a very good decision but an appalling example of what Bexley Council has allowed to go wrong in the north of the borough.
One must hope that TfL is going to mount a 24 hour guard on their four external station lifts too. I fear the worst.
† The comments mysteriously reappeared on 4th November.
Last week’s Transport Users’ Committee meeting gave me no cause to be
critical but apparently my view is not universally held. One of the seven, I
think it was, members of the public present read
yesterday’s report and sent me a rather different opinion, an opinion which
will definitely find favour with my friends Mick and Elwyn. Both are far more
hard of hearing than I am and they have complained about the Council Chamber’s
poor acoustics and awful sound system many times, sometimes to the Equalities Commission.
My hearing is not too bad for an old ’un but I quite often give up on following a discussion because I cannot hear it clearly enough to be sure any following report will accurate. Some Councillors simply don’t know how to use a microphone and very often the public is made to sit well away from the aim of the directional speakers. Nobody at Bexley Council cares.
The BiB reader’s email is headed ‘Council crap audio arrangements’ which seems a fair enough description to me and it goes on to say
I’d not previously attended a Council meeting in the new offices but decided almost on a whim to pop in to the Transport Sub-Committee meeting, I will not be doing so again, not unless they dramatically improve the audio arrangements anyway.
All the Councillors have microphones but most do not use them correctly. One or two could be heard clearly but for the rest (including the Chair) it was impossible to follow what was being said. The same was true of the police’s audio/visual presentation.
Would it be too much to hope Bexley council might invest in some better audio equipment - microphones which hang around Councillors necks or clip to jacket lapels perhaps?
Their microphones look to be the same as those in use in the old Civic Offices’ Council Chamber. They were pretty useless there but they seem to have just been walked down the road. Spoiling the ship for halfpence of tar springs to mind in a brand new Council Chamber.
My correspondent should count himself lucky; the Transport meeting is small and the public has a reasonable view of every speaker and sits directly in front of the loudspeakers. He should try next week’s Council meeting where no member of the public sits in front of the loudspeakers, half the Councillors sit with their backs to the audience and they all have to stand up when speaking taking them a couple of feet away from the mic heads designed for close speaking.
It’s the way Bexley Council likes it, the less their squabbles are heard by the public the better it is for them.
I had given up on pressing the Wait button on the pedestrian lights outside
Sainsbury’s on Harrow Manorway, I’m not usually in too much of a hurry and TfL have twice confirmed that
lights change all by themselves without the need to press a button.
It may seem stupid but for TfL ‘Every Journey Matters’ unless you are trying to get in or out of Thamesmead in a hurry.
However yesterday it was all changed, traffic is brought to a standstill only if some nuisance of a pedestrian needs to cross the road.
The question is, should the lights be reported to TfL as faulty or should we leave well alone?
rather like this. It is among the comments on
the Diamond Geezer blog about the
opening of Abbey Wood station. The Geezer kindly provided a link to a couple of the Bonkers’
Crossrail photo diary pages.
(I suppose everyone knows by now that since yesterday it includes
pictures of the Crossrail train parked at Abbey Wood?)
Something, presumably that link, provided a nice little traffic boost on the 23rd October and for a couple of days from then. Every little helps.
Back to Bexley later but it seems to be another day full of meetings.