Just back from three days helping my son set up a new office for his expanding transport safety consultancy so it seems appropriate to report on last Thursday’s Transport Users’ Committee meeting. There was a degree of overlap because he was able to expand on some of what was said.
I usually find the Transport meeting interesting and this one was no exception and notable on a number of counts.
Chairman Val Clark welcomed members of the public which isolates Teresa O’Neill as the only meeting Chairman (Cabinet) to publicly register her contempt for residents who take the trouble to attend public meetings.
There were more members of the public present than there were Councillors. The TfL bus man managed to get through the meeting without saying anything. SouthEastern railways and Network Rail failed to send a representative - I have not seen one there since last year (but I missed one meeting) - and Andrew Bashford, Bexley Council’s senior traffic engineer, also failed to turn up. Maybe that is why what I heard at this meeting seemed to be 100% good sense.
Councillor Clark said there could be no excuse for large organisations like Network Rail and SouthEastern not sending a representative. “It is disgusting.”
PC McKenzie from the Metropolitan Police was supposed to make a general report on transport crime but instead of putting in an appearance he had sent a note which said “not much has happened in the last quarter”. The Chairman thought that if he wasn’t busy there was even less excuse for the no-show. Nice to see the former Mayor has not lost her way with words but she has a point.
However an Inspector Fuller gave a presentation on Community Roadwatch which encourages and trains volunteer residents to point speed cameras at motorists. Offenders receive warning letters and repeat offenders get home visits. In extreme cases their vehicles may be placed on an ANPR database so that they are pulled over for no very good reason at random just to inconvenience them - for the amusement of bored police officers presumably.
44 Roadwatch sessions had been organised and 947 drivers reported.
On bus issues it was noted that route 321 from Footscray to New Cross Gate now runs at eight minute intervals instead of ten.
Outside the meeting the bus man told me that slow bus journeys (road works, 20 m.p.h. limits etc.) are a major contributor to reduced passenger numbers. (My son said it is only going to get worse for reasons which he was not able to divulge.)
Bexley Council had responded to TfL’s bus consultation in connection with the opening of the Elizabeth Line and Rob Smith (pictured with the Chairman above) appears to have done a first rate job which would win the praise of all residents.
• He doesn’t like the loss of the 180 service to Lewisham.
• The proposed diversion of route 469 will mean many Belvedere residents will lose their only direct route to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich.
• Route 472 serving Abbey Wood Station and terminating there will require layover facilities which do not currently exist. A similar problem will be created if the B11 is terminated on Yarnton Way.
• Route 301, a much welcomed direct service from Thamesmead to Bexleyheath via Abbey Wood Station, may be swamped by students to the detriment of morning commuters. The proposal for single deck operation was questioned.
In the absence of any train company representatives Rob Smith was forced to substitute. His Crossrail report mentioned nothing of which BiB readers will be unaware but his comments on SouthEastern’s autumn leaf and skip-stopping time tables attracted the attention of Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, North End).
Stefano didn’t think there were as many leaf gunge clearing units operating as there used to be and shared Mr. Smith’s concern that skip-stopping caused massive inconvenience to Bexley residents. Having been affected by it twice last week I fully agree with him.
If you look closely at the associated picture (enlarged copy) you will be able to see that having missed Erith and Belvedere, Cannon Street trains were arriving at Abbey Wood four minutes early. They were then leaving 90 seconds late which is the sort of idiocy one has come to expect from SouthEastern.
Mr. Smith had not only commented on the TfL bus consultation he had told SouthEastern that their proposed May 2018 timetable for the North Kent line was not acceptable. The already good Cannon Street frequency gets an extra peak hour train at the expense of the Charing Cross service which is reduced to one train per hour.
Mark Bunting, Bexley’s Road Safety man related the accident statistics. The actual numbers are low so comparisons become difficult but in broad terms they improved up to 2010 or thereabouts and since then have shown an alarming trend upwards again. Whilst it is tempting to blame this on Bexley’s poor road planning my son says it has been a national phenomenon for which no clear answer has emerged but his suspicion is that it is due to various in-car distractions including mobile phones.
My son confirmed Mr. Bunting’s report that casualty statistics (240% up in Bexley!) are very much confused by a change in the way that the seriousness of accidents is assessed. Computers have taken over from the police which alone has changed things, but some boroughs have already computerised and some haven’t. What a mess.
Fortunately Bexley is “bucking the national trend” on child casualties.
Another overlap between the meeting and my weekend away concerned vehicle NCAP ratings. At the meeting is was explained how the NCAP ratings can be manipulated by unscrupulous manufacturers and to that extent the testing procedures are flawed.
Over the weekend it was explained to me that the manufacturers renowned for their emphasis on safety put it above good NCAP scores and are sometimes penalised by the numbers. At the other extreme manufacturers in countries not renowned for making cars don’t manipulate NCAP scores because they simply don’t care about them and in the middle are the many which stand accused by Bexley Council.
My son used to be on some obscure EU NCAP committee, maybe he still is, I lose track. Certainly he has bashed countless cars into concrete blocks.
A Facebook poster suggested I go to look at Abbey Wood station during peak hours
(Photos 88 and 89) to witness the alleged booking hall congestion but I am
out of Facebook right now, sick of the silly arguments, so I will post the
pictures here instead. I may enlarge on my Facebook discontent
next week when life will just possibly return to what passes for normal.
I didn’t see any really serious congestion at Abbey Wood this evening, it has been said that there are not enough gates to cope but a young Service Assistant told me the problem only arises when a gate goes out of order - and they have several times - and TfL decides to shut that gate instead of leaving it open.
I was also told that the internal Stannah lift has been out of order at least once every day since it was commissioned last Tuesday. No Abbey Wood resident familiar with Sainsbury’s or the temporary station lifts will be in the slightest bit surprised at that news.
I am ‘off’ Facebook because of the fall out from posting what I hoped might be helpful information during the station opening period. Information gleaned from attendance at all twelve Crossrail Liaison Panel meetings and a reasonably close relationship with Network Rail managers.
Things have not always been perfect in Abbey Wood over the past four years, in fact there has been widespread inconvenience but I have taken the view that one should not go slagging off Network Rail right left and centre unless one can present to them a better way of doing things. Sadly, regarding anything significant at least, there hasn’t been a viable alternative.
Several people have been busy on Facebook lamenting the fact there is no ground level access to the platforms from Wilton Road, but there simply cannot be. There was no room to build anything more elaborate than two island platforms.
I pointed out that the 750 volt rail was a bit of a disincentive to crossing at ground level. I also agreed that Network Rail had not always been perfect. The comment about the electrified rail did not go down well and on the subject of Network Rail performance I was challenged to go through twelve sets of meeting minutes to identify all the occasions when Network Rail may just possibly have fallen down on the job. At least I think that is what was asked, I didn’t read very far past the bit where I was called something I had to check out on Google.
There are too many moaners and whingers on Facebook, a minority perhaps but one doesn’t have to put up with it, so I won’t.
And I don‘t much like the way ‘What’s New In SE2’ is administered. I was censored for sticking up for a local business contrary to the mood of the baying masses and I am not alone.
Amanda Denford the incredibly strong and brave mother of the teenager almost fatally stabbed in Felixstowe Road last Saturday - he ‘died’ several time in the air ambulance and on the operating table - was censored too.
On another local Facebook page my ward Councillor Danny Hackett has been roundly condemned for his almost daily attempt to rid his ward of fly tipping. He is the only representative of ‘authority’ who dares to raise his head above that particular social media parapet and promptly has it chopped off by a bunch of semi-literates with near zero understanding of his limited powers within Bexley’s minority party. He has been accused of being a Tory but he isn’t. Come to think of it things were even worse when his ward (and mine) was represented by three Tories!
Having been more than a little harsh on some citizens of Thamesmead, reading between the lines, it has the most dreadful housing problem with depths of deprivation of which those who live to the South of the North Kent railway line will have little or no understanding.
Social cleansing may not be an unreasonable description of what is going on in the north of our borough but on the other hand no one should be made to live in squalor or six to a room.
It would seem that successive governments, Peabody and its predecessors and Bexley Council should all be deeply ashamed of themselves. It is not too difficult to detect the underlying racial tensions in local Facebook groups. Saturday’s stabbing was black on white and totally unprovoked. It could have been anyone, I had walked the same route as the victim only an hour beforehand.
There were dozens if not hundreds of similar Facebook comments.
Thanks to all those readers who noted that the driver of the road sweeper featured yesterday missed a golden opportunity.
A couple of weeks ago Bexley Council was bemoaning the fact that
in Bexley lacked access to fibre optic broadband. Deputy Director Paul Moore said
that fostering good relations with BT was “critical”.
A week or so before that BiB gave a little publicity to the campaign to get Broadband into the Bellegrove Road area of Welling the absence of which would appear to be directly attributable to an unhelpful and failing Bexley Council.
Yesterday BT itself chipped in with its two-pennyworth posted to the campaign website
We have been in dispute with Bexley Council concerning permits to undertake streetworks and this was preventing us undertaking any work in the borough to deploy fibre broadband. I’m pleased to say that the dispute has now been resolved and we have resumed delivery work.
The street cabinet serving your home is one of those that our Openreach team is planning to upgrade, subject to there being no issues being identified when we put forward the proposed site for the new fibre cabinet. Unfortunately, when we tried to undertake this work previously, there was an objection from at least one resident, although the regulations have since changed so this should not be a problem now.
I hope this helps. You should see the status change on the Openreach site as work progresses – https://www.homeandbusiness.openreach.co.uk/fibre-broadband/when-can-i-get-fibre.
When it comes to telling porkies I am no longer sure which is worse, Bexley Council or BT but if our Council has been obstructing the installation of fibre broadband it is utterly disgusting and some heads should roll.
Maybe now, residents stuck in the stone age will at last be able to stream a few videos if they fancy the idea. I wish them better luck with their fibre installs than my sister.
Hers was installed on 4th August and struggled to get 20 Mb/sec. She had been promised something approaching 80 and her next door neighbour gets 70. The ISP twice sent printouts from BT’s line checker which said there was a fault in BT’s copper wire that runs to the street cabinet.
BT said it was a fault on her internal wiring and twice sent out a man who said he could find no fault at all. Three times I drove to Hampshire to change things around to the extent that my sister now has no internal wiring. Temporarily everything runs off BT’s master socket. And still BT said there is no fault - until yesterday that is when she somehow picked up a service agent who spoke English.
He tested the line, said there was a serious fault (her line buzzes and cuts off) and he promised to have it fixed by tomorrow. BT has been pretty crap since I retired after a half a lifetime working inside telephone exchanges.
The spanking new
Abbey Wood station hasn't yet been open a week but already there has
been a road traffic accident on the pedestrian crossing immediately outside it.
Fortunately no ambulance in sight and maybe the location is just an unfortunate coincidence.
In my opinion it has to be the bus driver's fault. A 401 bus has no business being on the flyover. (†)
† It would appear that my little joke was misunderstood. An in service 401 bus would not normally be on the flyover. Bearing in mind that the bus is well within its lane and buses are too heavy to bounce very far, the likelihood must be that the car driver strayed into its path, perhaps while half asleep, and then bounced off the bus.
One of the things I am quite proud about with Bonkers is that it has never
knowingly published a lie or exaggerated to make a point. A few axes may have
been ground along the way
and there may have been the occasionally mistake but in every case I’m aware of there will have been a
correction. Right now I cannot actually think of any at all.
I also believe in being fair to Councillors. There are many who have never had a bad word said against them and I only bear grudges against the few who have tried to get me arrested on trumped up charges, and even then it wouldn’t justify straying from the truth.
And so it is that we come to Cabinet Member Don Massey. He may have lied to the police, certainly what the police told me about him was a lie, and his power-crazed spite may cost us taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds in police time by the time the complaint is answered, but that wouldn’t excuse allowing anyone to think he was lying when he probably wasn’t.
At the last Cabinet Meeting Councillor Masssey went on at some length, and some thought unnecessarily, about overage in connection with the sale of land to Tesco.
He implied very strongly that the lack of an overage clause in the contract to sell the Council’s Broadway site was a good thing. In a letter to Mr. Elwyn Bryant whose enquiry may have sparked the Cabinet meeting diversion, Councillor Massey was much more direct. His words could only mean that the two subsequent sales didn’t reach the £23 million that Bexley says the land sold for. (The auditor said the true figure was £25 million.)
Bellway Homes staged another of their ‘Showcases’ today and I called in on my way to the Transport Users’ Committee meeting. Probably because I said Hello to a Councillor as I went in the Bellway man asked if I was Council. For simplicity’s sake and because I only had a couple of minutes spare I said “sort of”.
Somehow or other the conversation rapidly moved to prices and I said “of course the price the Council got for the land is in the public domain” to which the response was “yeah but fortunately we didn’t pay that much”.
So it is reasonable to assume that Cabinet Member Don Massey’s statement that sometimes overage clauses are not appropriate was, one might say, bang on the money.
I still think it is pretty reprehensible to try to get me arrested for republishing a photo, without any details of who might be seen in it, that was already on his unrestricted Facebook page but the truth must come first.
For the record, it was confirmed to me that the Bellway flats will be in towers up to twelve storeys high. Some messages received have been suggesting a maximum of four. The brochure makes it obvious that that must be wrong.
For a number of domestic reasons BiB is going to be a bit quiet over the next
few days, possibly three or four, but before turning attention to other
matters, here’s a final round up of the Places Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting.
Money, as you know, is being grabbed by Bexley Council in every way it knows how. “In terms of income opportunities, on food safety, we are now charging for re-inspection” and on garden waste the number forced into paying the bin tax has now reached 42,000.
The recycling contract (Serco) is being retendered with the prospect of “a modest saving”.
Assistant Chief Executive Mrs. Richardson also referred to “income targets”, “generating income” and “growing income streams”. She had high hopes for BexleyCo, Bexley Councilֹ’s new subsidiary company.
Revenue isn’t all one-way traffic, Mr. Bryce-Smith said that the 150 properties purchased to ease the crisis among the homeless had cost more than £50 million. Some homes have been obtained at below the asking price.
Councillor June Slaughter (Conservative, Sidcup) complained about what she saw as “an enormous waste of money”. The various Scrutiny meeting Agendas and Cabinet Agena had “about 100 pages” repeated in all of them and she thought they shouldn’t.
Unfortunately that overlooks the fact that Agendas have to be supplied to the public by law and the Council leaves itself open to criticism by members of the public who choose to go to only one meeting if they are provided only with skeleton Agendas.
Councillor Esther Amaning (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) was looking for an assurance that School Crossing Patrols would be retained in Bexley after the London Mayor’s announcement that he Khan’t any longer provide Bexley with the funds that paid for them.
Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer agreed that “the money was at risk” but the Council was doing everything possible to ensure “that Lollypop Ladies” remain in place. Alex had written to the Mayor who had responded “but not necessarily positively, I expected nothing less”.
It would be surprising if any BiB readers were unaware of Bexley’s bid to be
London Borough of Culture given the advert above each blog for the past six weeks
and Cabinet Member Peter Craske’s supreme stupidity reported here at the
beginning of the month.
For that reason the Council’s report presented to the Places Scrutiny Committee will be summarised here with a degree of brevity which I suspect will be welcomed by all.
The GLA has invited the 32 boroughs to put in a bid by 1st December with two ‘prizes’ of over a million pounds each on offer. Bexley’s will focus on “its strong heritage and our strength in the arts”. A number of historic buildings were mentioned. “A lot of people have come out of the woodwork to help.”
“Competition is very fierce but even if we don’t win a number of runners up prizes are worth £600,000 each.” ITN is running an unofficial poll on who should win and Bexley is currently in second place.
Twelve boroughs are thought to be taking the competition seriously, among them Waltham Forest and Croydon.
Councillor June Slaughter (Conservative, Sidcup) said the initiative was one of the biggest and best she had seen in her many years as a Councillor. “It is tremendously exciting.” She noted that music did not feature heavily in the bid so far and asked that it should. Deputy Director Toni Ainge promised to take the suggestion on board. Councillor Lynn Smith (UKIP, Blackfen & Lamorbey) was similarly enthusiastic.
Councillor Howard Marriner (Conservative, Barnehurst) reminded the Committee that 1919 will be the centenary year of Alcock and Brown’s flight across the Atlantic, the first to be made non-stop and their Vickers Vimy bomber may have been built in Crayford. Several of them certainly were. Unfortunately a 1919 celebration may be a little too late for inclusion in the bid.
The winning borough will have to put up “match funding’ of £300,000 and “various organisations including Peabody” are to be (or maybe have been) approached. Failing that Bexley could always paint another ill-conceived yellow moneybox junction.
Note: A replica Vickers Vimy flew low over my house about 15 years ago. No idea why, maybe Howard Marriner knows.
The Assistant Chief Executive’s Growth and Regeneration Report to the Places Overview and Scrutiny Committee is usually, for me, the highlight of the evening but last week it was something of a let down.
The format adopted by Chairman Melvin Seymour is to assume that everyone has read Mrs. Jane Richardson’s twelve page report beforehand and go straight into questions.
One must wonder if Councillors bother because when I read it I found parts of it confusing and just plain wrong.
About areas on my own doorstep it says that work started on the Northern end of Harrow Manorway last July while my photos show that it was well underway two months earlier. When referring to the Abbey Wood station works it refers to traffic management following the bridge removal. What bridge removal? The only bridge removal was half a mile from the station.
And the regeneration works in Felixstowe Road and Gayton Road will start this month. Really? There is no chance of that happening and earlier reports have always said January to May 2018.
About the new Crossrail station the report says the final new section of track was laid in September 2017. Not in Abbey Wood it wasn’t, track laying was all done and dusted last March when a set of points to connect to the North Kent line was installed.
As if that wasn’t enough mistakes the report goes on to say that the Kent bound platform opened last August. Wrong again. A whole year wrong.
Not a single Councillor noticed.
Councillor Joe Ferreira (Labour, Erith) asked if refurbishment of Erith’s Carnegie Building was on track for work to start late this year. “We are chancing our arm a bit” came Jane’s reply but with luck the schedule still holds good.
Councillor Cheryl Bacon (Conservative, Cray Meadows) wanted to know the total number of houses built in the borough over the past twelve months not just those which are part of major schemes. No one knew the answer.
Councillor John Waters (Conservative, Danson Park) commented on the new car park ticket machines in the Bexleyheath shopping centre. The old ones do not accept £5 notes, the new pound coin or card payments, but the new ones will. What he didn’t say, probably he didn’t know, is that from tomorrow charges will sky rocket, some more than doubling.
Councillor June Slaughter (Conservative, Sidcup) makes a habit of slipping in a last minute question and Tuesday 17th October was no exception - except that she didn’t really have a question. She wanted to put on the record how pleased Sidcup residents were to see the hanging flower baskets organised by the BID (Business Improvement District) and excited by the prospect of a picture house in the old Blockbuster store. She was less enthusiastic about the shrinking of Sidcup’s public library but very pleased with what she saw when Peabody showed her their plans for Thamesmead. Pity they keep being put back.
I took a look at the Townley Road roundabout yesterday, there has been
some progress since 10th October,
it is no longer in danger of becoming a swimming pool.
As I made the long detour to cross the road from North to South two cars drew up on the double yellow line, both driven by Conway men. The one in the rearmost car said to his colleague in front, “we are on double yellow lines”. “Yes but it’s OK, I have been doing it for months without any trouble.” (Exact quote.)
It’s a working open road, so how come Bexley Council apparently condones it? Is perhaps the relevant Traffic Order not yet made?
unreported two week old meeting is getting a bit long in the tooth and time
is, as always, in short supply. People Scrutiny is in any case a difficult meeting to follow
because the Table Snatcher forces the public to sit in a place not well
served by the loudspeaker system where the view is mainly of the backs of heads.
The possibility of augmenting the inadequate sounds with a bit of lip
reading is eliminated. The alternative to hairy craniums is often hairy legs.
But before we abandon ‘People' and move on to ‘Places’ a couple of things from the notes taken at the time. i.e. not a review of the recording.
For all the undoubted effort put into recruiting foster parents, Bexley Council did not even reach 50% of their target last year. Nine out 20 new foster homes. Unfortunate for some poor kids.
Bexley Council has now bought 150 houses on the open market to house the homeless. That’s 75 up on six months ago.
Usually the most interesting part of a Places Scrutiny meeting is Jane Richardson’s Growth and Regeneration report but this quarter it didn’t amount to much and was easily outclassed by the annual Parking Services Review presented by Mr. Ben Stevens.
If you have ever wondered what it is like to be a parking enforcement officer (CEO) bringing misery to so many lives you will not be surprised to hear that their boss takes a similar delight in vindictive behaviour. He casually slipped out remarks like “catching motorists out early” and “sending in the bailiffs at four o’clock in the morning”. Such phrases should not be part of a formal Council report but the fact that they were provides a telling insight into the way the brains of power crazed tyrants work. Why four o’clock in the morning?
The parking report covered the period April 2016 to March 2017, the final year of NSL involvement in Bexley.
The monthly average of mobile payments rose from 14,408 in the previous year to 19,307.
There were eleven assaults on CEOs and the police had not been a lot of good. Councillor Gareth Bacon related the case of several witnesses to “a physical assault” with “racial abuse” all recorded on the body worn video which Councillor Bacon felt sure, and most people would agree, result in “a slam dunk conviction in Court” but the police were not seriously interested and the assailant was merely given a caution.
Mr. Stevens said that his department usually responds to enforcement requests such as those I made over a period of three days within 30 minutes and often much less. “The service is growing and becoming more popular.”
Blue badge enforcement and the resultant prosecution of abusers has gone up. Providing more evidence of parking infringements has reduced the number of appeals. Did Mr. Stevens really withhold some of the evidence before that change?
Referring to the London wide ‘ticket table’, Mr. Stevens said “Bexley remains the fifth lowest borough which is where it has been for a number of years in terms of PCNs” which I found to be an odd thing to say.
I still have last year's report so comparisons are easy.
The 2015/16 report clearly shows that only two boroughs, Greenwich and Sutton, issued fewer tickets than Bexley. This year Greenwich and Sutton were joined by Havering and the City of London. So yes Bexley is 5th lowest in 2016/17 but that is up from 3rd position the year before.
What is perhaps of even more interest than the sort of deception which is the norm in Bexley is that the total number of tickets has gone up from 48,447 to 64,048. Up by a third in a year. What better illustrates Bexley council’s aggressive pursuance of money?
Councillor June Slaughter (Conservative, Sidcup) was the only Councillor not taken in by the attempt to confuse the statistics.
Councillor Hackett (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) queried the claim that parking enforcement requests are usually met within 30 minutes and not usually longer than an hour. I assumed it was a reference to my situation on 1st September when a report first made on the Friday had to be repeated over three days before action was taken. Councillor Hackett did not get an answer, the average is under 30 minutes, (in another breath 40 minutes) and nothing more was forthcoming. There must be an awful lot of instant responses to balance out a three day delay.
Councillor Lynn Smith (UKIP, Blackfen and Lamorbey) referred to a case involving one of her electors who was confused by a partially handwritten temporary parking sign but Mr. Stevens said “I am not aware that we were using handwritten signs last year, they are certainly printed now.”
One must wonder how this wholly handwitten sign (See Photo) came into existence if the practice was stopped the year before last.
Mr. Stevens said that if a handwritten sign was posted last year “it must have been an isolated incident”. Excuses, excuses, the truth is rather different.
Bexley’s parking machines are still accepting old pound coins and when the decision is taken to update them it will take two to three weeks to get around to them all. It is currently too expensive to adapt parking machines for use with contactless credit cards.
After praising Network Rail workers on Saturday for never objecting to my
intrusive photographic activities I had a rude awakening early this morning. Without my
widest lens I took a step backwards to try to get everything in and admit I
ended up a couple of feet behind where a barrier normally stands, but it wasn’t there at that particular time.
As I stood there, eye to viewfinder, a dumper truck which I had seen coming down the road, veered over the footpath and stopped right in front of me blocking the view. A loud voice told me in no uncertain terms to get off of his patch. I forget the exact words.
However before I even had time to think something unpleasant about Network Rail, I noticed the yellow jacket, not orange. Yes it was Bexley Council’s favourite contractor, F. M. Conway.
From the always polite orange jacketed outfit in Felixstowe Road came a helpful email this afternoon.
• The lift from the concourse to the North Kent line platform will open by Tuesday morning 24 October.
• The stairs from Felixstowe Road to the station will open by the end of this week.
• We are challenging our lift contractors to complete the work to the Felixstowe Road and Gayton Road lifts as quickly as possible, but the Gayton Road lifts will be brought into use first.
• In the meantime MTR has staff on hand to help passengers with buggies and luggage and there are taxis in place to take anyone with mobility issues to the nearest accessible station until the lifts to the platform are complete and from Wilton Road to the station’s entrance after this.
500 men were working on the Crossrail site yesterday. It was all worthwhile
though there is still work to do.
More pictures of Abbey Wood’s new station.
Today was the end of an era in Abbey Wood, from tomorrow
access to the railway station platforms is changed; most people will find entry
easier and before long, when all the lifts are operational, everyone will benefit from the improvements.
It’s possible I’ll find myself taking fewer photos as the pace of work slows. The first was taken in August 2013 when Network Rail took over the Felixstowe Road car park and before long I was taking more every day. I think I missed only one major event, the removal of the rusty old station footbridge and more than 6,500 photos on-line show the extraordinary amount of work that has gone into tomorrow’s achievement.
At the outset I couldn’t see how train services could be maintained during construction and I was in awe of the ingenuity that went into keeping most things going most of the time, similarly the planning that must go into coordinating the various jobs.
Even in the last month or so with lots of things still to be done it was planned and timed to perfection with the final essential pieces being put in place right now as I write late on a Saturday evening. Tomorrow morning everything must be in working order - shame about the external lifts but they will be only a day or two behind.
There has of course been inconvenience and not a few complaints but given the cramped site the scope for alternatives were few or non-existent.
Not once while poking my lens over fences and through holes has any construction worker taken exception and at senior level there has been nothing but help and a willingness to answer innumerable questions. Peter, Raj, Andy, Guy and Deborah deserve special mention along with James from Balfour Beatty. They didn’t quite make a civil or railway engineer out of me but they did their best.
The same goes for the Southeastern staff who never lost patience with me prowling around daily and when permission was forthcoming from Network Rail, escorting me to various places, complete with orange suit, on days when the station was closed. Tomorrow Southeastern passes the management of Abbey Wood station to TfL and their contractor MTR. Most if not all the regular station staff have made the transfer.
I’m not sure I know every name but Joe, Chris, Julie, Eileen and Abdi all had infinite patience and displayed an eagerness to help. And then there’s the lift men who are now out of a job. Three in particular were always ready with a friendly greeting and sometimes longer conversations, Fred and Anthony and another whose name I never learned. Not the best of jobs hanging around in all weathers while irate passengers complained that the lifts were slow and they had to wait a minute while someone ran from underneath their heater on a bitter cold day.
Below are some ‘landmark’ pictures from 2013 to 2016. 50 more taken today are in the usual place. I hope Anthony and Fred (pictured) are not out of a job too long.
Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell took time off from hunting down “unfriendliness” on Twitter (Photo 1) to put in an appearance at Bexley’s People Overview and Scrutiny meeting to inform the Committee that real crime was on the up.
“Over all it is up 10%. More than 14,000 crimes in the last twelve months. Burglary is up 15% but Bexley’s detection rate is better than other London boroughs.”
Violent crime has gone up over the past year but the last quarter’s figures are better.
“Domestic violence is at a five year high and Anti-Social Behaviour is up. 5,000 calls this year, 10% more than last.” There have been about 60 999 calls for Bexley each day. A big increase.”
The fate of Bexleyheath police station will be announced “in the next two or three weeks”. (From 11th October.) Things are moving towards a three borough command structure, Bexley, Greenwich and Bromley. “It will be quite challenging.”
Better news is that “the number of ward officers on the borough will be increased by ten by Christmas, taking the total to 42”. It will mean two dedicated ward PCs and a PCSO. The individual numbers will be adjusted for the new ward boundaries due next May. Six wards could get three PCs.
Unfortunately there would be about 25 fewer officers in the borough overall than there were a year ago.
There were questions about the reckless cycling and motorcycling which is beginning to plague Bexley’s streets. Bell; “Is it a crime or is it a safety issue" is a factor inhibiting action. “If we catch them and a child gets hurt It is difficult to get it right.”
Chairman Councillor James Hunt is made of sterner stuff, he wanted to see headteachers forbidding the riding of bikes to school or “someone is going to get killed” but the Chief Superintendent thought it would be too difficult to enforce and “it wouldn’t have much of an effect”. (It’s so much easier to monitor their activities on social media.)
Councillor Sharon Massey (Conservative, Danson Park) came out strongly against practical measures to curb wheelies on the school run. “They need steering in the right direction rather than a big stick. They don’t intend to hurt people.”
Councillor Brenda Langstead (Labour, Slade Green) wanted more information about the closure of Bexleyheath police station which several Councillors regarded as a foregone conclusion. Ex-copper Councillor Alan Downing had noticed that policing was going backwards.
The Chief Superintendent said that policing Bexleyheath town centre from Marlowe House (Sidcup) would be a big problem. He would like to see somewhere in Bexleyheath where officers could go on and off duty, it would have to be in commercial premises not in a police office. Travelling to and from Sidcup is not really practical.
The first of these pictures comes from Google searching ‘the slums of kiev ukraine’ and the other two are of
The Quarry development in Erith.
One is a mistake from the Communist era, the other is for sale at prices starting at £535,000. Just shows what can be done if you dangle a primary school in front of Bexley Council.
The last few minutes of last week's Cabinet meeting was taken up with the Cabinet Member for Unwarranted Harassment and Finance, Don Massey reporting on a number of current issues; business rates, overspends, inflation etc. but the most interesting in view of the Bellway proposals for Broadway was his digression into the subject of ‘overage’. Councillor Massey said he had heard both Councillors and the public talking about the subject.
Overage is “not always practical” he said and explained that it is appropriate when selling land when the expectation is that values will rapidly increase. “The overage will give you [the Council] a percentage over a certain amount of the money you get.”
“Overage will actually reduce the amount you receive because the developer will actually calculate that, so you don’t [always] want an overage clause. The old Civic Centre is a good example where basically the amount we could have sold it for is shown by subsequent sell-ons recently where we actually got a very good deal and we would actually have lost money had we had an overage clause.”
“The people who negotiated that deal did a very good job.”
In simple terms if you think a developer might sell your land on you might accept a slightly lower price in the hope of picking up more money later but if you don’t expect it to be sold on then you get as much money as you can up front.
It must have seemed likely at the time of the sale that Tesco was serious about building a new store and would not be getting into the property business so going for the highest possible price was the Council’s priority.
Outside the meeting Cabinet Member Massey has said that the two subsequent sales (to Sports Direct and Bellway) “sold for significantly less than that paid by Tesco” in 2012. It seems unlikely but Don Massey is saying that Tesco and Sports Directboth took a hit on their sales. Without knowledge of the sales prices we can only give Massey the benefit of the doubt. His predecessor’s gamble in 2012 may have seemed reasonable at the time but maybe he (and we) lost.
The Tesco sale price might also have been unknown too because Bexley Council, secretive as ever, kept quiet about it. However buried deep in the March 2013 Auditor’s report all is revealed. It went for £25,326,000. The new Civic Centre cost £42 million.
I decided to give this evening’s Resources Scrutiny meeting a miss. Several
reasons, they are too often boring but on a practical level I judged that with a
late night yesterday another one would put attendance at tomorrow’s Transport
meeting in jeopardy especially with another day in East Ham scheduled.
Seeing Councillors June Slaughter and Howard Marriner around the table - and both were at last night’s meeting too - I did feel a bit guilty about opting out but they are younger than I am so that’s my excuse. Then Chairman Steven Hall sounded rather disappointed when he announced that “unusually there are no members of the public present” and it wasn’t too boring a meeting after all.
Nevertheless I still managed to nod off in front of the screen and was woken only by the audio suddenly cutting out. It would appear it does so every time the screen saver kicks in.
There is not in fact a lot of point in watching the screen, many of the speakers do not appear because of misaligned cameras and others have the top of their heads cut off.
The audio quality is not brilliant either, there is more buzz and hum than when I make my own recording and someone pressed the off button too early because the screen announced ‘Meeting concluded’ half way through the last Agenda item.
The last thing to be broadcast was Cabinet Member Don Massey confirming what we all knew anyway, that he is not going to be a Councillor next year. Hope the transmission break is not an omen, Massey goes and the Council collapses. Who could replace him? Not Councillor Craske, he might blow the budget on one of the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals he loves so much.
Maybe the Tories won’t even be re-elected in Bexley. Well one can dream.
A day after a Welling resident’s broadband petition was featured here Bexley’s Cabinet had something to say about the
same subject. Council Leader Teresa O’Neill correctly stated that some residents now regard broadband as being more important than other utilities, “especially the younger people”.
At present 25,000 Bexley homes have no access to superfast broadband. (Over 30Mb/sec.) 75% of households are served by BT Openreach fibre services, Virgin Media services are also available in many places.
Director Paul Moore was asked to set the scene. He proposed “a strong route map to improve Bexley’s digital connectivity”. He expected it to cost 20 to 30 million pounds to implement over the next three years. It is obviously “a critical” component of the Growth Strategy allowing “digital high value businesses to come to this borough that will mean better job prospects and higher incomes”.
“The plan is critically dependent on fostering relations with the providers, critically BT and Virgin but there are a number of new providers coming to the party; facilitators and aggregators.”
“It is about a digital infill programme to connect households. There has been good work with BT and Virgin and we [now] have a better understanding of where those gaps are. BT and Virgin are committed to quite strong investment in this borough but we need to hold them to it.”
“There will be disruption to our roads and streets. It will be our focus for 2018.”
“There are providers willing to connect up new developments of 30 units or more to ensure a choice of digital providers from day one.”
The Council will be encouraging improved mobile (5G) and wi-fi coverage. “Providers will make a strategic investment in Bexley and the Council will allow concessions”. That means providers will be able to place routers on street lamp columns etc. 40 local authorities have already gone down such a route.
A resolution from 2001 based on the then current forecast of mobile related health issues inhibits such use but Cabinet will be asked to rescind the ruling.
Another plan is to push for provision of a gigabyte fibre network between public buildings. The Government has set aside £200 million and Bexley has expressed an interest in taking a share.
Cabinet Member for Finance Don Massey said the Council would have to carefully negotiate the State Aid rules.
Councillor David Leaf (Conservative, Longlands) wanted everyone to know that he backed all the proposals. No one else wanted to join in and the digital infrastructure plan was voted through.
Just three days to go and I wouldn’t like to be in the Network Rail boss’s shoes. How will Abbey Wood’s new centrepiece open on Sunday? The rumours are circulating so maybe some information from the top man is called for.
The station will open on Sunday 22nd October and the booking hall will be pretty much ready for use. Certainly fully operational with no trip hazards or holes to fall down.
Whether WH Smith will be open remains to be seen but their stock and stores were being delivered this morning and disrupting the laying of granite paving.
The internal lift to the platform is working and there is still hope that at least one of the Gayton Road lifts will come into use at some time on the 23rd. It will have to go without the normal two week testing period so technicians will be on site permanently to manage the inevitable teething problems.
The risk of bringing Harrow Manorway to a standstill due to overuse of the pedestrian crossing is acknowledged. For that reason the plan is to have both flights of station steps in use. On the northern side marshals will be employed in the vicinity of Sainsbury’s to direct pedestrians down the slope to Felixstowe Road.
Bexley Council is a long way from finishing the western flyover walkway so unless you are disabled, with a buggy etc., please don’t complicate matters by crossing the road outside Sainsbury’s and back again opposite the station. That way leads to traffic chaos.
I would be the first to agree that part of the station site looks like a bomb has struck right now but work has been going on day and night. The people who have steered this project to near completion over the past four years have given me several “how the hell are they going to do that?” moments but always triumphed.
I’m pretty confident that come Sunday we will be pleasantly surprised, the station won’t be perfect but I think the worst of the rumours can be safely disregarded.
Note: Fact checked by Network Rail.
So finishing off Abbey Wood station is running a month behind schedule. It’s
four years since Network Rail took over Abbey Wood and caused a great deal of
largely unavoidable inconvenience around the flyover and something much worse
than that in and around Abbey Grove and they are just a few weeks behind
schedule. If only Bexley Council could be that ‘useless’ with their road projects.
Bexleyheath Broadway has been in turmoil for longer than that with no transport
infrastructure improvements whatsoever yet apparent.
It was last March that an official opening was set for 23rd October but the writing was on the wall by early September when it became clear that no firm arrangements for that opening had been made. From then an increasingly sceptical BiB made no further forecasts although the News Shopper jumped in with both feet last week.
Now it is all off, officially cancelled. Not the opening to the public, they will be using the station as scheduled from next Sunday, just the official celebration.
The official reason for the postponement is that it will give more time for staff to become familiar with the new facilities. The real reason will have more to do with these two photographs taken at 16:30 today.
No one should blame Network Rail, they have by and large done a magnificent job but I might blame them for their choice of bigwigs to cut the ribbon.
Not exactly champions of improved transport infrastructure either of them.
We have Teresa O’Neill, Leader of Bexley Council who single handedly deprived South East London of the Thames Crossing planned by Ken Livingstone, and Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London whose first act when gaining power from a gullible electorate was to cancel both of Boris Johnson’s Thames Crossings.
When Robert Stephenson opened his Stockton to Darlington railway in 1825 a politician fell under a train and was killed, would it be
No. I must curb such thoughts or our pathetic police - let’s not investigate shop lifting, burglary or car crime - will be back to my door very keen to cart me away.
A week or so ago Councillor Craske was heavily trailing the next Cabinet Meeting on Twitter which he thought would interest members of the public more than usual. He encouraged residents to attend because he had important things to say.
Six or seven believed him and spent an hour and a half in the Council Chamber. I expected to witness another of Peter Craske’s magic shows where he tries to convince everyone that a budget cut is a really good deal that will improve all our lives. A street cleaning machine, 200 trees etc. to brag about while skating over the fact that he cut the cleaning budget and not long ago was arguing that the Council was right to plant no trees at all.
So I sat there expectantly waiting for something new to be announced but disappointed because everything sounded very familiar. Was the Cabinet Member for Environment and Leisure showing another sign of advancing Alzheimer’s? Had he forgotten he’d said it all before? Was Bexley Council regurgitating last year’s plans coupled with a handful of ideas from Bexley Labour’s 2014 manifesto? It turned out to be a reasonable assumption.
However before the great man was able to demonstrate his powers of persuasion and deception we were required to listen to Council Leader Teresa O’Neill and Director Paul Moore. The Leader said that Bexley’s growth plan was heavily dependent on using brown field sites for housing and that Sadiq Khan was proving to be a fly in the ointment by disallowing that change of use. Bexley expects him to be won over.
Paul Moore said he had seen Bexley’s growth plans come and go since 1990 but this was the best so far. The platitudes continued for five and a half minutes. Mr. Moore had invented the hashtag BrilliantBexley, the plan is “great timing and it has been a great privilege to work with colleagues”.
“Bexley has great energy and the plan is a focal point and landmark moment. It is a framework for policy and investment.” The extension of Crossrail was of course assumed but quite how it could be achieved was not given a mention.
“It [the Growth Strategy] gives Bexley a sense of purpose and direction” which is definitely nice to know after the dithering of the past ten years.
Cabinet Member Linda Bailey thought the growth documents were easy to read and encouraged residents to read them. She looks forward to “managed growth”. Not just houses but support infrastructure too. She was justifiably wary of the London Mayor’s response. She will be “keeping an eye on him”.
Cabinet Member Philip Read said the plan was “imaginative exciting and positive”. He saw life in Bexley as an idyllic oasis in a sea of disharmony where “irrespective of background, colour or religion all residents will view themselves as an integral part of ‘One Bexley’ where barriers between groups of people disappear and there are no isolated inward looking sections of our community and all are integrated together with equal opportunities, rights and responsibilities”. He seems to have converted to Socialism if not a step further left than that.
Cabinet Member Don Massey said the plan was “bright and colourful and an excellent document; a great document”.
At last Peter the Great was allowed to speak.
The plan was “an altruistic vision”. “Belvedere Beach was really really popular.” Hang on, wasn’t that last year’s plan? “Lesnes Abbey is now complete”, a three year old plan funded by English Heritage. and “since July it has seen 198,000 visitors”.
How does one measure that in a park with ten entrances?
“Hall Place has had 100,000 visitors since April.” We are asked to believe that an attraction with a massive free car park receives four times the visitor flow of one with very little free parking and where commuters take up most of it, free and otherwise, by 7 a.m. weekdays. Oh well. If Councillor Craske says so.
The tree planting which he was so sure was unnecessary back in 2013 has restarted (as part of the election campaign?)
Street cleaning has been improved by revenue raising litter wardens and better waste bins. Street cleaning complaint levels are reduced.
Nothing Councillor Craske said was about the Growth Strategy but nevertheless he backed it totally. Basically his speech was out of date and irrelevant bragging if not twaddle. And we were all supposed to show up and waste our evening for that?
Usually Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer talks more sense and referred to Crossrail and “its importance to the Growth Strategy”.
“We make our [Crossrail] case forcefully and consistently because once in a generation the opportunity arises to change lives and those of generations to come.”
Sorry to tell you Alex but that opportunity arose ten years ago and Bexley Council fluffed it. Teresa Pearce MP spoke up for Crossrail in Parliament but Bexley Council simply wasn’t interested. Not a word about it at any Council meeting.
Labour Leader Daniel Francis (Belvedere) was generous in his praise for the Growth Strategy. He said it was “a Manifesto document” and he “was delighted to see the Conservatives steal our clothes, or rather policies”.
He offered his support but expressed concerns on “how the community could be brought with us“. So have I. How many of us want to see a tower block on every corner? And why do you think they are to be concentrated in the Northern territories?
It’s because tower blocks might bring left leaning voters to the borough and we cannot have Labour gaining a foothold in the genteel wards to the south can we?
The Growth Strategy was approved, what else did you expect?
More than once I have heard senior Bexley Council officers say that
Thames Water gives them more problems than any other utility. It won’t surprise anyone.
Last Thursday when Crossrail had their little problem with a water main and the Thames Water foreman got shirty about me taking photos he placed cones in Abbey Road which prevented access to Wilton Road from Abbey Road. (Photo 1).
I doubt he had authority to do any such thing because there is no alternative route to Wilton Road.
It was possible to go up Knee Hill, round the roundabout and back again from the South and squeeze past the cones that way so it is unlikely that traffic in Wilton Road was much reduced. The cones therefore served no purpose other than to frustrate traffic.
Within 24 hours the Abbey Wood station water main was sealed off but the cones are still in Abbey Road right now preventing access to Wilton Road. Traders there have had four years of disruption while the new station was built, they do not need any more.
Thames Water seem to make a habit of such things. When they did work outside my house at the beginning of the year they went away and left the barrier and heavy lumps of cast iron in my garden. They never returned to collect anything.
You may have recognised the signs, one long post on a Saturday morning
then nothing for more than two days, yes I have been away from home on and off for the past three days.
Two uneventful trips around the M25 too!
Because of that BiB is now almost a week behind in its reporting of Council meetings and spare time is not exactly plentiful.
Whilst I was away two messages arrived from the police, one direct and the other via Mr. Barnbrook.
The Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) has already acknowledged my complaint about Bexley police’s illogical and untruthful response to a question about Cabinet Member Don Massey and his harassment allegation.
They have now told me it will be joining a queue of complaints which is more than 12 months long. This is not a surprise, the last time I made a complaint at DPS level about the police was in June 2012 and it is still not answered.
Mick Barnbrook’s email was more interesting. It came from Police Sergeant Ryan Keating at the DPS.
He had read last Thursday’s blog in which BiB attempted to demolish Bexley Council’s tissue of lies which the police were persuaded to support. The blog ended with a report that the Civic Centre doorman confirmed he had never asked either Mick or me to leave Council premises nor was he aware that we had ever done anything to provide a reason for such an ejection. That we had refused the doorman’s request and only the police could get us to leave was a fundamental plank of Bexley Council’s justification for Councillor Bacon’s actions.
Sergeant Keating told Mick that the DPS will not reopen their enquiry; well as Mick had already said that he was going to let the matter drop, the statement must throw some doubt on Sergeant Keating’s comprehension skills.
He says that my conversation with the doorman is hearsay - and so it is - but BiB does not indulge in lies, one, because it would create an unmanageable tangle of contradictions and two, because libel lawyers are expensive.
However one comment betrays the mindset of the police; whatever the evidence might say (and dismiss it if it doesn’t suit the agenda) everything the establishment says must be right and everything the complainant says must be a lie.
Sergeant Keating says about Mick Barnbook and me personally is that we exist only to embarrass Bexley Council. Well yes to some extent, but only because Bexley Council won’t stop lying.
Sergeant Keating, his preconceived assumptions and far fetched reasons for not examining the evidence epitomises everything that is corrupt about the Metropolitan Police.
If the police had ejected five members of the public from the Council Chamber on 19th June 2013 why did they not make a note of our names and why did they make no report when they got back to the station? Why did I make no reference to such an incident in the following day’s blog and why did the police say that nothing untoward had taken place when asked for comment by the local paper?
The answer is that Sergeant Keating has manufactured a whitewash and Bexley Council and the police have lied comprehensively.
I occasionally find myself at my front door key in hand while a young neighbour is doing the same at the flat opposite. My key gives access to a three bedroom detached house which cost less than £70,000 and bought on a 15 year mortgage paid off in a little under five years.
Across the road the rent is in the region of £850 a month and until not long ago five people squeezed into one bedroom. (Halifield Drive is the next road to mine.)
It represents a shocking disparity which is totally unfair and unsustainable yet there is not much I can do about it and it would seem those in power have shown no inclination to do anything about it for the past twenty years. There is evidence that some of those in power hide behind fine words while caring nothing.
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to see how the other half live in social housing, L&Q social housing in this particular case. I am wary about such invitations because one never know what one is getting into and Dianne Blazer, Bexley’s Housing Services Manager, had reported less than two months ago that there was nothing much wrong with the house. (See below.)
If the name Dianne Blazer rings a bell it is because she was part of the Bexley Council team which persecuted Sidcup resident Rita Grootendorst for the state of her award winning but somewhat unorthodox garden.
She and her cohorts made Rita’s life a misery until a Court put a stop to their shenanigans.
This is what Dianne Blazer thought about the L&Q house, what would I make of it?
I found myself at a door with an entry system and waited inside with some apprehension while the occupier slowly made her way down the stairs out of my sight until the very last moment. She was a sixty something lady who clearly took care of her appearance but was blessed with a very wheezy pair of lungs. I later discovered they might be the least of her health problems. Her medical record listed nine ailments of which diabetes, high cholesterol and cancer in remission were probably the least serious.
As one might expect of a disabled lady largely confined to an upstairs room there was a certain amount of clutter and it took a while before the full extent of the problems made their presence known. Maintenance of the house by L&Q has been the biggest bodge job I have ever seen. Nothing is properly finished off, it is as though a bungling amateur nipped down to B&Q and then ran riot with nothing better than a hammer and blunt chisel.
The plumbing and electrics are worst affected and I was warned off of touching some sockets for fear of an electrical tingle.
The occupant complained of damp but the weather had been fine and the only signs were a suspicion of it on door mats and paint and paper peeling from the walls.
I have video (which refuses to play on line) of water pouring over gutters and down the walls. There was mildew here and there but not too much of the horrible black stuff.
Ms. Blazer might report that the house is basically up to standard but I bet she wouldn’t want to live in it.
Let’s look at some pictures.
There is no fan either up or downstairs but switches exist.
Want to see some more?
And whatever you do don’t go up into the roof space.
Everything is, as you can see, a bit of a bodge. A young person might be able to improve some things given plenty of money but a disabled lady can do nothing. It’s not just Dianne Blazer who knows about the situation but finds it “in good repair”, so does Bexley Director David Bryce-Smith. Councillor John Waters and David Evennett MP are aware too.
Both politicians have visited and the lady occupier speaks highly of both of them but they can do nothing other than suggest suing L&Q. David Bryce-Smith would probably say that living in squalor in Welling is better than being sent to Birmingham but that would only emphasise how desperate the housing situation is in Bexley.
What has L&Q done apart from bodging every job they have been persuaded to look at?
Their present stance is that they are going to do nothing more to help because a lady with emphysema, fibrosis of the lung and idiopathic pulmonary disease shouted at their carpenter. Ah diddums! Where would she get the breath from?
Another of their excuses is that they haven’t been given “two weeks unfettered access”. Maybe the poor lady does not wish to be homeless for a fortnight. Her only relations live overseas and she would never be able to make the journey.
It’s enough to make one turn socialist until one realises that their house building record is even worse than the other bunch of incompetents.
I suspect this case will require a periodic update.
All house photos 8th October 2017.
When I was a member of the local Conservative Association all I ever got out
of them was invitations to dinner with government ministers and miscellaneous
nobodies and the tickets were always far too expensive. I attended none of them.
In similar circumstances Boris Johnson was in town last night, I may have made an exception for him and coughed up the dough because whilst something of a maverick he was a better Mayor than Ken Wotsisname and a much better Mayor than Sadiq Khan and would make a much better Brexit negotiator than the pathetic Theresa May for whom the only thing one can say in her favour is that she is not Jeremy Corbyn.
I would happily speak to Boris, I would happily discuss politics with lots of the guests but even if I was paralytically drunk I would not be photographed hobnobbing with the two most consistently disreputable Councillors in Bexley.
If Anna Firth ever contests the Erith & Thamesmead parliamentary constituency again this photo will be a gift to anyone who wants to do her a mischief.
Thank goodness Teresa Pearce trounced Anna in 2015. There would be no one prepared to help fight the dishonesty which this grinning pair represents.
Bexley Council sent me
three copies of the Terms and Conditions for its
garden waste service. It runs to four pages and more than 20 separate sections
of rules and regulations every one of them heavily biased in the Council’s favour.
Despite that item 4) did not seem especially contentious to me.
It would appear that I am very wrong and the scallywags and scoundrels who run Bexley Council had me duped.
This is what a resident discovered when he went to sign up for the service a few days ago.
I didn’t renew my Garden Waste subscription this year as I didn’t seem to have a need for it but this month I changed my mind and applied for renewal. I was told I had to pay for the months I had no service back to April. I was not a member then and did not use the service.
Paying from now until next March is not allowed. I will raise a complaint, but I already know they are poacher and gamekeeper. Paying for a service I have not received is in my opinion robbery.
And in every one else’s opinion it will be robbery; don’t know what sort of garden the Bonkers’ reader has but in my experience the bin is not much used from November until March.
It would appear that even if one signs up in March a whole year’s subscription is demanded. Unfair Terms & Conditions anybody?
Bexley Council really is run by crooks.
Posting on Social Media is a serious business especially if one is trying to
tackle the high level corruption from which Bexley has undoubtedly suffered and maybe still does.
Yesterday’s blog about the conspiracy between Bexley Council and the police took five and a half hours to write with maybe a few minutes break here and there.
Every fact must be checked, every word chosen carefully, every exaggeration weeded out. Accuracy to the best of my ability is paramount. Lies are absolutely out, with four thousand odd blogs under the belt lying would be a disaster. No one has the brain power or memory to get something the size of BiB to hang together without fear of contradiction if it was based on lies.
You would think the police would know that even if Bexley Council doesn’t but they carry on regardless.
A weakness of BiB - a product of it being a DIY coding job - is that there is no comments section. For that Facebook and Twitter must suffice. There was a Forum here for 12 months but no one used it. No one without a Russian email address anyway.
I have just about worked out what one can do with Twitter but Facebook remains an almost closed book. What annoys me intensely about Facebook is that if one wants to respond to a post you saw yesterday it can be the devil of a job to find it again. As I have said before. I am so hopeless with Facebook that the Bonkers Facebook account is contracted out.
Every time I receive an email notification from Twitter or Facebook it still worries me that someone may pick a hole in one of my arguments but so far it has not happened, Bonkers seems to preach to the already converted.
There has been very little dissent and if there is then so be it, people are entitled to their point of view. No one has ever been blocked by me on Twitter or excommunicated or whatever it is on Facebook. No comment has ever been deleted, it’s not compulsory to agree with me.
It would appear that not everyone takes the same view.
I take the occasional look at a Facebook group called What’s New in SE2. It’s a popular web destination with about 2,000 members signed up. Occasionally I see people complaining that their posts have been deleted. The site owner maintains a fairly strict set of rules, some fair others maybe not so fair.
Three days ago a message turned up on What’s New in SE2 accusing a driver working for Abbey Wood Station Cars of making what appeared to be a racist remark. It’s more than likely that he said something like that. There is no evidence to the contrary - or I suppose to confirm it.
There was a chorus of condemnation. Various people aren’t going to use the company any more. There was an assumption that the company owner - himself a member of an ethnic minority - would not want to do anything about his driver because he would lose his registration fee.
He was accused of doing nothing
Eventually I came to the conclusion that some reality should be injected into the conversation. I pointed out that the cab company owner did not know his customer’s name, all we know is that it was Leon Berger’s partner.
We don’t know enough about the time of the incident, all that the company owner has to go on is that the driver was male and the passenger was female. Half his fares meet the appropriate criteria. What is he supposed to do about it if the actual customer has chosen not to complain?
Several minutes later I noticed an email notification. I had been called an idiot. I clicked on the link and found the post had already been deleted along with my own comments. I have searched for them several times over the past 24 hours but without success . Maybe it’s my ignorance of Facebook coming to the fore but I don’t think so.
I think I have joined the select few who have had posts deleted from What’s New in SE2. One might conclude that anyone who does not go along with the mob intent on slagging off local businesses is persona non-grata. That is no way to build a reputation for integrity.
It’s possible I will be banned altogether now but if I am it will tell you all you need to know about What’s New in SE2.
PS. Other readers have confirmed to me that my Facebook post in defence of the cab company was deleted. All the group’s users should take note that What’s New in SE2 imposes its own biased opinion on group members. It is not providing an entirely honest reflection of news and opinion in its area.
you were an early morning commuter at Abbey Wood you will have had
a good view of a water main gushing its contents skywards.
It was punctured yesterday evening and it is difficult to understand why. Network Rail spent the best part of a year diverting all the utilities (that used to run beneath the long gone level crossing) along Gayton Road and via a new route under the railway at the end of Florence Road.
Presumably Thames Water let the side down, certainly someone was sufficiently embarrassed to surround the gusher with screens.
Not only that, Thames Water’s foreman told me he was not at all happy with me for photographing the scene. I had only taken the one photo shown below, “Why are you taking pictures?”
“Because I just do, I have taken pictures here pretty much every day since August 2013”. (It’s a case of I started so I will finish, there is no real explanation, but it would be a shame to stop now.)
“Why are you taking pictures of my men?” I didn’t specifically, the picture was intended as a scene setter for my Crossrail photo diary. However tens of megapixels does allow for some big blow ups when provoked; so here it is.
It’s exactly the same picture as the one above, just cropped differently.
The conversation only came to an end when I told the Thames Water man to call a policeman if he had any problems with street photography.
There’s never been any problem with Network Rail people or their contractors from Balfour Beatty downwards. Often some good information, usually a friendly word, sometime a special pose.
There will be more pictures in the usual place later today.
I have just heard Sheila Fogarty on the London Broadcasting Company (†), sorry, LBC, castigate our Muslim Mayor for imposing his
culture on this country. Sheila Fogarty is someone I usually turn off because of
her unpalatable (to me) left wing views but If a leftie like Sheila thinks Khan is completely out of order if not
totally nuts I assume I can safely follow in her footsteps without upsetting too many people.
My daughter was a ballerina in a London Ballet company before she took up journalism; I have seen (long ago) that athletic leaping pose at home and it is nothing out of the ordinary, certainly not sexy. I can only assume that Sadiq Khan has a filthy mind.
He says the lady in question must be adorned with a black band. Is it because he only likes ladies when draped in black?
Whilst banning tights and bikinis from the Underground is no more than an irritation and reminder that before long he may be asking ladies to walk behind their menfolk he is also wreaking widespread havoc across our roads system.
The latest letter (4th October) from TfL says that the fact that there is no need to press the button on the pedestrian crossing on Harrow Manorway is deliberate policy. Holding up traffic unnecessarily is what TfL does. (Don’t we know it!)
Sadiq Khan is a blithering idiot but maybe not as big an idiot as those who fell for his son of a bus driver nonsense.
Earlier TfL response.
† It was London Broadcasting Company when I first listened to 97·3FM in 1974. Their studio was in Gough Square (behind Fleet Street) just a stone’s throw from my own office.
The Met Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards has accepted
against Inspector Colin Edge’s illogical response to a complaint that Bexley officers
came to my door on 20th May 2016 only because a Councillor asked them to do so.
Given the number of clear cut examples on record it is beyond dispute that Bexley police will corruptly do favours for Bexley council, nevertheless I offered them incompetence as a possible alternative.
The police will never admit to doing Cabinet Member Don Massey a favour because they know exactly where that would lead so they took the alternative route instead. As is always the case if the whole truth is not told, a degree of ingenuity and fact bending is required to make a case and Inspector Edge did not disappoint.
He made a statement that simply isn’t true and admits that his officers knowledge of the law was lacking; not that that stopped him rejecting my complaint. It is those two failings which form the basis of my appeal.
The blog in question did not reveal personal details of anyone contrary to the Inspector’s clear statement and did not suggest that the people blurred beyond recognition may have been related to Councillor.
Inspector Edge also said that he now knows that harassment by a blogger must be “racist or extreme” to be an offence and by implication, that he did not know at the time. It’s more than by implication really, I have several emails from the beginning of this year in which he waffles on about the vagueness of the law in order to justify what happened.
For the record you can see what the fuss was all about below. Doesn’t amount to much does it?
It would appear that Bexley Council didn’t like
put forward for Ye Olde Leather Bottle site in Belvedere.
They were rejected last week.
The main reason for rejection is that Bexley Council did not want the site to look like a car park as it would from Heron Hill.
A good reason and the correct decision most people will say.
2006 to 2014 Bexley Council spent its time resisting anything that might
represent growth and prosperity. They even spent taxpayers’ money on
to every address which pushed a blatantly political measure. They did not want
to see any extra traffic traversing Tory heartlands.
Now that they have seen how their actions were steering the ship on to the rocks it is all hands to the pumps, suddenly Labour party policies are flavour of the month and we are seeing infrastructure plans left right and centre.
But the damage has been done. Bexley’s plans rely heavily on Crossrail being extended across the borough but are apparently oblivious to the fact that the biggest lump of concrete ever seen in the borough has been dumped precisely where the tracks need to go.
Residents are being hit in more direct ways too. While our Council’s priority is lying about statistics such as being the happiest borough in London - Bexley is not even in the top half - and being a low tax borough - not even in the top two thirds - there are other statistics which you will never see Bexley Council bragging about.
Like worst borough in London for new housing. It’s the result of eight years of Bexley Council failure - the result of turning their backs on growth.
Thank goodness that three years ago they began to see the light.
You go months scraping around for something significant to report and then
everything comes at once. Attending five Council meetings in eight days takes up
too much time and leaves very little in which to report them, plus
police developments and a disabled resident who needs help but is getting none, or at least
nothing useful. Goodness knows when that one will hit Bonkers.
Meanwhile just a little one for today.
It is exactly one year since I sent off pictures of a persistent fly tipper to Stephen Didsbury (Head of Waste) and he responded as follows the same day…
And since then not a single word; not even when Councillor Hackett chased him.
A couple of weeks ago I was seriously thinking about abandoning Bonkers, I felt that Bexley Council was better than it used to be, less dishonest, more competent and that they may have learned something from their constant exposure to scrutiny; but then along came Peter Craske.
How could any sane individual stand there, after I offered him compliments, and tell me in front of witnesses that he did not know who I was?
His idiocy showed that the thoughts I had about shutting up shop were entirely misconceived. Bexley Council is not reformed at all and needs to be questioned at every opportunity.
Hence this morning’s Freedom of Information request. I have asked for copies of all the correspondence relating to my fly tipping report dated 11th October last year which was complete with photos and video.
If there is not a damned good reason for why no one came to “advise you on developments” there will be a complaint made against Mr. Didsbury personally.
Well done Peter Craske, you had a hand in the reason for setting up Bexley-is-Bonkers in the first place didn’t you? You seem to have done it again.
A man who lives just a stone’s throw from the Townley Road roundabout and has watched with increasing disbelief
Bexley Council’s antics in and around Albion Road was
quick to let me know when that roundabout was excavated with the loss of the
bluebell bulbs planted there when it was first built. My correspondent has
a long memory, he remembers the bluebells that occurred there naturally on an even older roundabout.
Bluebells, as he was keen to point out, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act although I think that must apply only to wild bluebells. If it finds wider application then I am in trouble for removing some from my mother’s garden 20 years ago which she had bought in a nursery. They still survive in my front garden, their colour suggests they are Spanish bluebells while the genuine article may grow in my back garden. I am after all close to one of London’s finest bluebell woods.
Pursuing the Wildlife Act question will be a waste of time, Bexley Council always has an excuse for whatever it does, far too many laws are constructed with the intention of giving officialdom freedom to do whatever it likes.
Nevertheless, prompted by the man’s report, a trip to Bexleyheath was called for. The bluebells bulbs had most certainly gone from the raised roundabout, indeed everything had gone to a depth of a foot or more below road level. Bexley Council will be hoping that heavy rain does not encourage Great Crested Newts to take up residence.
As frequently happens while taking pictures of ugly street scenes with a big camera passers by ask what I am up too. A young lady asked if I was Bonkers while snapping away at Abbey Wood station this morning. Maybe the choice of site name was unwise.
In Albion Road two local residents came up to me to point out what I may otherwise have missed.
I had already spotted that the barriers invited pedestrians to cross the road but the far side was blocked (Photo 3). While there I watched one gentleman make the crossing anyway, the barriers were not difficult to move.
However the lack of a cycle track (Photo 4) seemed to be an odd decision given that the footpath at that point is wider than the the road. As everyone familiar with the area will know, a pedestrian passes that way about every 20 minutes and maybe less.
I was given a guided tour of some of the other sights. It does not show well in Photo 5 but FM Conway ought to invest in a string and two sticks. The kerb meanders around rather more than one would expect of a professional installer.
A long parking bay has been placed two metres from the kerb but it is not sufficient to accommodate anything wider than a small saloon car. If there is room for a parking bay on a stretch of single carriageway road why is it time restricted? There is no provision for two lanes of traffic to enter or exit Albion Road so it can only be another of Andrew Bashford’s (Traffic Engineering Manager) stupidities.
It’s not the only one.
There is another ridiculously wide footpath to the east of Townley Road (Photo 7), another that goes nowhere and therefore little used. A little further along there is a pedestrian crossing (Photo 8) which leads to nowhere useful, just a plain brick wall.
If a break was created in it to allow access to Royal Oak Road one might see a purpose to the crossing but this being a Bexley road scheme there is none.
In 20 minutes one cyclist came along Albion Road from the east and hugging the roundabout as close as he could turned right into Townley Road thereby cutting across traffic lanes twice.
My new found friends told me that one cyclist in 20 minutes was exceptional in their experience.
Before we beat around the bush, if you live in Welling and your internet connection is crap,
go here now!
If you are reading this you will have access to some sort of internet connection and itֹ’s unlikely to be an old fashioned dial-up. Remember them?
I first went on line in 1983 with a download speed that would today be rated at 0.0001 Mb/sec. By the early 1990s the speed was up to 0.02 Mb/s and I was a contributor to Bulletin Boards. When the ‘proper’ internet became available I cautiously connected at 0.05 Mb/s for a couple of minutes twice a day in order to keep the phone charges down.
Broadband came to Thamesmead in 2000 and a 512k. connection was £40 a month but when it dropped to £30 I jumped on board.
Being on line all the time became an addiction and then a necessity. A small company based in South London offered me a 2Mb/s connection for no more money than BT’s half megabyte and I have been with that same ISP ever since. At one time I had two 2Mb/s connections ganged together giving nearly 4Mb. It seems crazy now that 4Mb/s is not enough to do any more than browse a simple website and send the odd email. YouTube, i-Player, Netflix. Forget it.
Back in 2003 and 2004, 4Mb was a miracle and I provided wi-fi to two neighbours when having an internet connection was still something of a novelty.
When fibre became available that small ISP provided me with an industrial grade Cisco router. The BT engineer showed up to make the connection, took a look at it, and quite literally ran away. Mine was his first broadband connection job and the first fibre connection on the local cabinet, but his BT training had not prepared him for a rack mounted Cisco.
BT made the poor man come back the same day and all was well. I now look after five fibre connections for that relatively small ISP and get business grade service at a reasonable price with all the web hosting and fixed IP addresses I ask for thrown in for free.
So spare a thought for Bexley residents who still can’t get a fibre connection and are stuck with stone age copper based broadband. BT Openreach’s fault obviously but aided and abetted by Bexley Council stupidity. They gave BT an excuse to do nothing.
On 21st December 2010 Openreach wrote to Bexley Council informing them of their intention to install a fibre cabinet outside 250 Bellegrove Road.
Fibre cabinets are permitted development so asking for permission is just a formality. On 14th January 2011 Bexley Council gave Openreach the OK but asked them to liaise with a resident who might not want a cabinet outside his house. He must be mad, I’d love a cabinet right outside my house, the connection speed might go up from 70Mb/sec to nearer 80.
BT seems to have taken the easy way out. Avoid any aggro with a resident and take their business elsewhere.
And so it is, seven years later, you still can’t get a high speed internet connection in parts of Bellegrove Road.
The subject has been mentioned on BiB before and the correspondence trail between interested parties from 2012 to the present day is available to read on line.
With the correspondence going nowhere a petition to the BT Chairman has been organised. Councillor James Hunt has put his weight behind it and if BT is keeping you in the electronic dark ages you may wish to add your name to it. If you have a DA16 address then you most certainly should.
I hope it fares better than my own ‘petition’ to BT. There is a long standing fault on the Thamesmead exchange and Teresa Pearce MP has drawn it to the attention of BT’s Chairman. Unfortunately he has yet to do anything constructive about it. It’s more than a month since his office reacted at all.
Abbey Wood station gets some lifts and some gates
With only 13 days to go before the doors are opened for its first passenger it is not surprising that lift construction is well advanced and the Oyster ticket readers have been delivered to the new railway station.
There is still one hell of a lot to be done and Bexley Council is nowhere near to completing the flyover walkways.
A lot of fingers will be crossed right now.
Meanwhile, down below in Wilton Road the police have been busy scaring the baddies away but not before getting valuable video evidence.
Despite that there were three violent altercations last week that I know of but my guess is that if police cuts don’t get to them first the police will gradually get on top of the situation. Another guess, based on feedback from several quarters, is that Abbey Wood residents are about to be let down by both local Councils again.
All photographs taken today.
Stephen Didsbury. King of Waste
A week or two ago Bexley Council sent me a copy of their new Terms and Conditions for the Garden Waste service, presumably I was just one of many thousands.
Today by the same post delivery I received two more. Well it helps to keep the recycling rates up.
With around 40,000 bin tax payers the two unnecessary mail distributions even at bulk postage rates must have cost in the region of £30,000.
And Steve Didsbury is still in a job.
A safety measure? No, it’s a half million pound scam
Bexley Council, Conservative Councillors in particular, seem to think that all residents have a high opinion of them. They are still bragging that the Office of National Statistics has put Bexley close to the top of the happiness league.
Delve into the ONS report and you will discover Bexley isn’t even in the top half in London and if the borough was magically transferred to the ONS’s South Eastern Region there would be 75 boroughs and Bexley would be close to being at the bottom of the pile. 72nd place.
I suspect the following comment (referring to Saturday’s blog) is more typical of Bexley residents.
I may be unhappy with Bexley Council soon as well.
BiB business took me to Welling yesterday, just south of the notorious yellow money box ‘T’ junction. I was on the leg of the T and it was busy. I should have turned right into the main road but had come from the left and so that stuck in my mind. Both routes are equally good for me.
There was a queue to my right, a car in front of me - which did turn right - and two more behind.
Meanwhile traffic was coming from the left and turning right across the waiting queue.
Eyes darting everywhere I waited for nothing to be in front of me and keeping an eye on the driver queued to my right, slowly pulled out only then to realise that there was not much of a gap to the left.
Fortunately my car is tiny and I squeezed up tight behind the vehicle waiting in the High Street for the lights outside Tesco and even more fortunately just before I had to stop it moved off so I was able to keep going. In any case I was probably safely tucked in but it was a slightly scary moment.
The situation raises an interesting point. If I had not moved off I would have obstructed the vehicle behind me from turning right but even if I had been forced to a standstill I was not blocking him from moving off. My manoeuvre made things safer though, but for a stroke of luck, may have come close to being technically an offence.
Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer says that Yellow Box enforcement is a safety measure but everyone knows he lies. Some like Annmarie Sproul will think he is a sh*t and who would disagree?
Presumably former Finance Director Alison Griffin wouldn’t, she said very clearly, just before escaping Bexley’s clutches, that her budget relied on thieving another £500,000 from motorists this year. Bexley happiest in London? Only the deluded will believe that.
Maybe my narrow squeak will prove something. Yellow Box junction enforcement is automated. Possible infringements are flagged up to someone to look at, or at least that is what is supposed to happen.
If no one notices that I didn’t stop in the junction, at worst I cleared it very slowly, we will know that Bexley Council is trying to screw every last penny from us rather than be fair. We shall see.
Keeping the police fully occupied
Today the Met’s Department of Professional Standards told me that they are very close to winding up their investigation into Bexley police’s failure to properly investigate the crime they traced to Councillor Peter Craske, or to be more precise his phone line.
There was clear documentary evidence on how the police, Bexley council and the Crown Prosecution Service colluded in order to get him off the hook, or as they preferred to say “to resolve Councillor Craske’s situation”.
The complaint was made five and a half years ago and will presumably create a big hole in the DPS’s work schedule when they are finally done with it - although the right to go to the Independent Police Complaints Commission still exists.
To ensure there are no redundancies another complaint went in today. It’s the natural consequence of Bexley police claiming that I published personal details of Councillors Massey’ daughter - there were none whatsoever, not even that she was their daughter - and that their officers did nothing wrong even though they admit to having failed to follow appropriate procedures.
The further complaint will probably appear here eventually but not until I am sure the police are in receipt of it.
Amazon - Maybe my experience will be useful to someone
My experience of Amazon is that things usually come quickly - not long ago I had some cables delivered within a couple of hours of ordering - but they give no idea of the time of day goods will arrive. Rather too often they give an hours notice that the parcel will be delivered a day earlier than previously advised, screwing one’s arrangements totally.
On 20th September I ordered a router for my son, those issued by ISPs are generally dreadful and his is no exception. Amazon had what I wanted for £229.99 which was quite a lot cheaper than my usual computer component supplier.
The item was in stock and to overcome the delivery problems I opted to use the Amazon Locker in McColls in Wilton Road.
A few days later the delivery date was revised from September until October, eventually settling on 15th October.
A friend decided her router was rubbish too so I ordered another one from Amazon on Saturday 30th September. It came on the Monday.
Last week I asked Amazon why the router ordered on the 20th was not expected to arrive until the 15th October while the same item ordered ten days later came immediately.
They apologised and said there had been a problem in the despatch department which had been rectified, but still nothing happened, so I emailed Amazon again.
This time they said the problem was that McColl’s Amazon Locker was fully booked until 15th and all I could do was cancel and order again. Meanwhile the price had gone up to £269.99, so not the most attractive option.
I emailed Amazon to suggest they should warn customers of Locker problems but they could not be bothered to reply.
Yesterday I asked in McColls if they knew anything about their Locker. They said it was opened everyday and it didn’t look full up to them.
When I got home I checked my Amazon Orders again. The delivery date had gone back to 29th October which will be after my next visit to my son in Wiltshire. Useless.
However I discovered something that Amazon could not be bothered to tell me. There is no need to cancel and reorder at a higher price, the edit facility allows the delivery address to be changed too.
I changed it and the router is now coming on Wednesday. (Update: It came Tuesday.)
Not Amazon’s finest hour but maybe you can learn from my experience and not fall into the same trap.
is a year ago today that
BiB first reported the blatant fly tipping of builder’s rubble into Bexley Council’s bins.
They are sited on private property but are quite obviously Council bins and they come to empty them now and again.
Keeping a safe distance between myself and the miscreant I snapped a few pictures. Unknown to myself at the time a neighbour was busy with his phone taking video from an upstairs window. Together we obtained clear evidence of who had been dumping rubbish at that point for years and I spoke to Bexley’s rubbish rubbish man Steve Didsbury about it.
A few days later he was given all the evidence he could possibly require, photos and video - and what did Steve useless Didsbury do? Absolutely nothing that is obvious. No response of any description, not even when reminded by my Councillor Danny Hackett.
How useless at his job can just one man be and hold on to a senior position? Could there ever be a more appropriate job description than ‘Head of Waste’?
Danny Hackett was also concerned about the fire hazard represented by two Transit vans at the same site packed full of wood. Subsequent investigation showed that they had been there for in excess of eight years.
Since then the two vans have been joined by two more derelict vehicles and if the fire hazard was not great enough already, two Calor gas canisters have been added to the mix, not to mention a ten litre drum of paint, fortunately now dried up.
The gas canisters have been there since the middle of August and it is now next to impossible to get to the bin to deposit waste plastic and tins; which is just as well because the refuse men can’t get there to empty it.
Well done Steve Didsbury. See you here again next year no doubt.
Pictures taken yesterday.
When Bexley Council sold its Broadway site to Tesco for £25 million
we were promised an 80,000 square feet superstore and an enormous free (for
two hours) car park before the end of 2014.
That grand plan came to naught when Tesco ran into financial difficulties and reined in its expansion plans.
It was only then that Bexley taxpayers learned how badly the sale of their land had been handled. Bexley’s Conservative Council had rejected their Labour colleagues’ plea to retain a modicum of control (an overage clause) over what might happen to the site in future.
Because of that negligence Tesco could do with the site whatever it liked (subject to standard planning controls) and Bexley Council is almost powerless to influence the future of its town centre.
And so, perfectly legally, the site which should have been home to a major new store providing much needed employment and parking spaces for shoppers has fallen into the hands of Bellway Homes whose business is to provide much needed accommodation for those who can afford it.
If you don’t like it blame Bexley Council for being stupid enough to hand total control to Tesco in defiance of - probably because of - advice given by more financially astute opposition Councillors.
Another thing you might do is pop down to Highland Road to see for yourself what Bellway Homes have to say about their plans. They have an exhibition there which will be open again from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday.
When I arrived soon after eleven o’clock this morning there was a queue to get inside to look at the display boards and I took the opportunity to stand around listening to what visitors were saying.
I learned that the town centre site will get housing of the type that Councils currently consider to be appropriate to town centres, that is ‘high rise’.
“Would there be some proper houses” a lady asked, and the answer was “No” it will be all flats in blocks between six and twelve storeys high, the highest being in the dominant position opposite the cinema.
“How much?” Small flats will start at “somewhere between £250,000 and £300,000”.
There will be a bare minimum of car parking spaces for residents, nothing like as much as one each, in line with TfL’s current anti-motorist edicts.
“Would there be shops?” Just a small square with “maybe a Costa or similar.
The Broadway frontage looked like it could include one or two shops but maybe not.
What was striking about the visitors’ complaints was that they should more properly have been addressed to Bexley Council.
They were concerned that the lack of resident parking spaces would displace vehicles into roads nearby. They were already “used as rat runs” and the closure of Highland Road, another Bexley Council requirement according to the Bellway man, would only make things worse.
The narrowing of Albion Road was mentioned as a town disaster by several people to which the Bellway representative added what might be another. Bexley Council has plans to close the Sainsbury’s car park and turn it into a town square.
As someone who lives a long way from Bexleyheath and never visits it if it can be avoided I can see the attractions of a town square, but local residents saw the loss of the ground level car park as yet another problem. One thought Bexley Council’s ambition was “to kill Bexleyheath as a shopping destination”.
In comparison with the Tesco plan the parking situation is clearly going to become a great deal worse than it could have been and worse than it is now if the town square plan comes to fruition.
From the point of view of those such as myself who will not be affected by Bellway’s development at all I thought it looked attractive and can only improve the visual environment.
Bellway Homes have not yet submitted a planning application and said they aimed to have their display boards available on line within the next week or two. They hope to be able to begin construction by this time next year.
Meanwhile the best you can do is click on the images below.
Note: Councillor Howard Marriner (Conservative, Barnehurst), a member of the Planning Committee, arrived just as I was about to leave dressed very smartly exactly as you might expect of a well respected Councillor. As is to be expected of a Planning Committee member, the Bellway man’s attempt to extract a comment got absolutely nowhere.
Howard was his usual good natured self apparently anxious to prove that you don’t have to be an ignorant oaf to be a Conservative Councillor in Bexley.
Such a pleasant change from last weekend.
With Bexley Council on its best behaviour due to there being an election just seven short months away and only Councillor Peter ‘I have never been arrested’ Craske helping to sustain Bonkers (Google ‘Craske arrest’), today BiB will stray over the borough border where no blogger concentrates on Council malpractice and to the best of my knowledge no Councillor believes that his primary function is to abuse bloggers.
It’s more than five years since a company called Development Securities first put up a website detailing their plans for an industrial site in Felixstowe Road, Abbey Wood.
They had in mind a hotel, a town square, a library and some flats to advertise in Hong Kong and anywhere else they might find a high concentration of millionaires. Their website has long since gone and along with it their proposals which came to nothing.
Eventually the plans were whittled down to just flats in one of the ugliest tower blocks imaginable. 30 storeys of it dominating old Abbey Wood.
That plan too went nowhere but last Tuesday evening Greenwich Council nodded through another application with the minimum of debate. It’s down to 21 storeys now but just as grey and not quite as ugly.
There is no point in going over the detail here as Fromthemurkydepths has done its usual excellent job but the remarkable thing is the abysmal performance of the Abbey Wood (Greenwich) Councillors.
In what must be a very unusual situation, all three Abbey Wood Councillors are members of the Planning Committee including their Council Leader Denise Hyland. She lives in Eltham along with her ward colleague Steve Offord. Neither turned up to speak for or against the application.
Their Facebook critics are already saying they do not care about the residents of Abbey Wood except as voting fodder. Some are going further and suggesting malpractice while others talk of setting up a rival political grouping comprised of residents. Probably a good idea.
Whilst my opinion of Bexley Councillors is not exactly great I cannot imagine any of them pulling such a cynical stunt as Councillors Hyland and Offord appear to have done.
The whole of Abbey Wood including residents such as myself in Lesnes Abbey will be adversely affected by Greenwich Council’s decision and none of them is likely to benefit.
There will be a minimum of so called affordable housing (24 out of 245 flats) in the new block and no social housing whatsoever.
One Abbey Wood Councillor, Clive Mardener, voted against the plan which may, or perhaps not, enhance his less than enviable reputation in his much neglected ward.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Abbey Wood…
The once touted public meeting about Anti-Social Behaviour in and around Wilton Road (there was another street fight late last Tuesday evening) is not going to happen. There is no need.
Members of the public have already provided their opinion on Facebook and on Twitter and the police have gathered all the evidence they need. There is a problem. Nearly everyone agrees on that point
Council officials from both boroughs met with politicians and the police very recently, circumstantial evidence is that it was on the afternoon of 28th September.
At this week’s Traders’ Association meeting I heard a little of the official deliberations on how the two Councils will attempt to solve the problems.
I am not at liberty to report them here but if I heard all the ideas put forward, or if what I heard was typical of the complete package, I will say just one thing.
Bexley Council acquired the old Blockbuster store in Sidcup a couple of months ago, what would they be doing with that one might ask.
Well one of the ideas being considered is to turn it into a cinema, or a picture house as Bexley Council calls it.
I kid you not but Bexley Council seems to be on some sort of a roll in recent months. Can’t wait to see Cabinet Member Bailey in her usherette’s uniform
picture first appeared on Bonkers
in May last year to illustrate a follow up to
an earlier report of the police attending a noisy party in a house believed to be rented by Bexley Councillors.
The picture was among a dozen or more taken from a public Facebook page. I guessed who the figure on the left might be but wasn’t certain and at no time was a name mentioned either at the time or earlier.
As it was possible that the freely available picture was of a minor I sought the advice of my daughter who has a university degree in journalism and has worked for a major news organisation for more than 20 years.
She said there was no problem in republishing a Facebook picture juvenile or not and (later) if the blog and picture was anywhere near to being harassment she would have a queue of policemen at her office door every day.
Nevertheless I decided to blur it out of all recognition.
However what my daughter had failed to take into account is that the (unrecognisable to most people) photograph was the daughter of Councillors Don and Sharon Massey and that Bexley Police are very firmly in the pocket of Bexley Council. (Bexley police told me a long time ago that is not true but I don't believe them.)
A few days later the cops were at my door threatening arrest if I did not accompany them to the police station. Maybe it was an idle threat because I never did get an opportunity to say anything in my defence.
The police's justification was then and still is that it is Met policy to investigate every allegation of harassment no matter how trivial, malicious or imaginary. It probably explains why so many crimes go unsolved.
After giving me the run around as to why they did or did not jump at Councillor Don Massey’s command I was eventually told by Bexley police that the accusation of harassing his daughter by republishing her own Facebook photograph just once was unjustified. I had done nothing wrong.
It took the police almost seven months to come to that conclusion and how could they do otherwise? The legal definition of harassment includes the words repeated, put in fear of violence and causing alarm. If the photo is alarming why did the subject of it publish the original clear version herself?
Let me repeat the facts. My ‘offence’ was to publish a blurred version of what the Masseys had themselves made publicly available. Only her family and close friends at the noisy party stood any real chance of recognising the blurred face. Councillor Massey’s daughter was not named or even identified as his daughter and the picture had been published only once.
It seemed to me that there could only be two possible reasons for the police banging on my door late in the evening. They are totally incompetent and have no understanding of the law or Don Massey was afforded special treatment.
My journalist daughter had told me that what I had blogged did not come within a million miles of being harassment so how could it be that Bexley police felt they could not dismiss the allegation out of hand? (Their excuse is that it is policy and there is no requirement to engage a brain cell.)
On Christmas Eve 2016 I made a formal complaint the central part of which was to ask the police to demonstrate that I had come close to committing a criminal act.
The complaint was allocated to the officer who had manufactured vague reasons for his officers’ actions six months earlier. My protestations that that would guarantee a rejection of my complaint were thrown out and instead I was promised an initial response within seven to ten days.
Last week it came in the form of a letter more than five pages long.
During the intervening nine months I was asked if I wanted to make a complaint about the Inspector who had given me the run around. I said “No”, the only issue was whether the police had been incompetent or had done the Massey jump.
A couple of months later they asked if I wanted to make a complaint about the female officer (I am sorely tempted to name these people and ask if anyone else out there has had trouble with them) who aggressively threatened arrest. I said “No”, the only issue was whether the police had been incompetent or had done the Massey jump.
So was my question answered? Did I get an indication of how I came within an inch of being a criminal for republishing Victoria Massey’s photograph just once in a form only she and her mum was going to recognise?
Of course I didn’t, all that I got was a set of excuses and an assurance that I was not threatened with arrest if I did not immediately accompany PC Kirsty Stephens (whoops!) to the police station.
Making a pun of the Prime Minister's statement that the Conservatives were in danger of becoming the Nasty Party and the phrase party animals and coming up with the headline ‘Nasty Party animals’ was evidently not nice either. Well I would agree it wasn't among the best pun of all time.
Nowhere did the letter get anywhere near answering my question. The closest was when it claimed “that a juvenile had her personal details disclosed” (I’d like to know where) and she found it “distressing”. No suggestion that I repeatedly harassed her, just the one photo which she herself had published and no personal details whatsoever.
The police were on a total loser on this one and are unable to answer my question except by repeating the word ‘policy’.
However hidden away in the letter at the end of Page 5 is an important admission. It says that I would have to be either “racist or very extreme” to be guilty of harassment, so they have pretty much admitted being in the wrong. But no apology for me being kept on tenterhooks for seven months and my complaint is “NOT UPHELD” - in capital letters.
Why can’t they just say they had in retrospect overstepped the mark and thereby ensured the end of the matter? I’ll tell you why.
The Metropolitan Police is institutionally corrupt and if you want justification for that statement just Google two words. ‘Daniel Morgan’.
Daniel Morgan was a private investigator who discovered too much evidence of Met corruption and took it to the Murdoch press. Between them the two organisations arranged that Daniel had his skull split asunder with an axe.
30 years later the Met is still trying to cover it up with almost every Commissioner in that time implicated.
Daniel’s brother is my journalist daughter’s long term partner.
The Metropolitan Police is Institutionally Corrupt. It needs to be said as often as possible.
Note: If any Bexley police officer has evidence that the foregoing is not an accurate summary of events, please let me know.
Part 2 was going to be one of those difficult to write blogs because of the
need to get every last word precise, accurate and unambiguous - as is absolutely
necessary when taking on the police.
Things were going well until the phone rang and a 97 year old voice said “I can’t get the oven to turn off”, something my elderly aunt usually manages every day.
Then came a clue. “Yes, I put the clothes in the oven and it stopped and there is water in the bottom.” (A top loader.)
25 minutes and much switch flicking later the fridge wasn’t working either and (I could see it had no light via her CCTV) and the words off and on had totally lost their meaning to her. With the only volunteer helpers 15 minutes walk away and all 80 or older, there was only one solution. No Part 2! I will need to be wide awake when writing that and an unwanted journey has ensured that I am not.
may not look likely as excavators work on the approach to the Gayton Road
stairs and the flyover entrance remains cluttered but Abbey Wood’s landmark
station will open on time on 22nd October.
It won’t be completely finished but it will be safe to use and be equipped to sell you a ticket.
MTR (Mass Transit Railway) staff confirmed it to me yesterday and Network Rail today. Not to open as planned would create too many administrative problems, many of the paperwork variety.
Whether Bexley Council will have the footpaths along the flyover ready remains to be seen (see photos 83 and 84) but it’s not impossible.
The 25kV electrification scheduled for switch on yesterday has been deferred to the 22nd October but it has successfully passed lower voltage testing.
I only have one twenty year old memory that I can clearly date to 1997, the 1st of May to be precise.
On my way to the polling station I caught up with my neighbour, Barbara. She said “I suppose you are going to vote for Tony Blair?” “No I am not” came my emphatic reply. “I have not fallen for that charlatan”. ”Nor have I” Barbara admitted having found just the one ally in the whole of Belvedere.
I was devastated next day to see the scenes in Downing Street. ‘Hasn’t my life been dragged down enough already by socialism in my 53 years’ was among many thoughts.
In the event and looking back things could have been worse. Gordon Brown wrecked the pension system, hung millstones around the necks of the banks and the recently privatised industries and sold off the gold reserves at rock bottom prices but it took more than ten years for the economy to totally collapse.
At the time I thought that Tony Blair was the worst Prime Minister ever but since then - Brown, Cameron and May - every single one of them has been progressively worse.
Now the country seems to be in a mood to take that progression one step further and elect the new Messiah.
One can perhaps understand young people with zero experience of political history falling for it but how has Corbyn managed to brainwash older people too? It’s not much more than a year since most of his Shadow Cabinet was refusing to work with him.
A friend not much younger than me - it’s OK he never reads Bonkers - gave me a long lecture on Britain’s new Saviour last Thursday.
He had listened to Jeremy Corbyn’s conference speech and was completely won over.
Saint Jeremy was going to sort out all the problems right across the world caused by a malevolent British Empire. The Palestinian problem would be solved in days, India and Pakistan would be best mates again and no he didn’t care what became of the Jews.
A few words in Kim Jong-Un’s shell like and he would be around the conference table in no time and become President Trump’s poodle, except that JC was going to instill some common sense into Donald, put an end to his Tweeting and put him and his war planes back into his box.
The European Union problem would be ended. They too would be charmed by JC and a generous trade deal would be ours for the asking before a triumphant Brexit.
The housing problem would be solved overnight, just flick a switch and everyone would get good inexpensive accommodation. All education would be free and the NHS would be given all the money it needs. Child poverty abolished, pay caps scrapped and a police officer on every street corner.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Do you really believe all that?” I asked. “If it was that easy don’t you think someone would have done it by now?”
“It will be easy, Jeremy is a very different sort of politician to any we (the world?) have seen before. Our only hope is that he should be PM right now”.
I was speechless, and I am not making this up. A man I have known for 20 plus years, a political fence sitter, perpetual critic of politicians of all persuasions and strong Brexiteer had been totally mesmerised by a snake oil salesman and one political speech.
I have just read it through, God knows where every bit of my friend interpretation’s came from but it sure does illustrate just how big a mess Theresa May has got us in to.
Suddenly a man who has in the past told me how much he loves this country seems to hate what it has stood for. Seven years of Cameron and May must have failed the country big time but when was frying pan to fire ever a good idea?
Dear Councillor Read, please note carefully. BiB is not a Labour supporting blog. It is anti-Tory only because you and your cronies have been so damned dishonest!
You might well have guessed from the ‘advert’ that has appeared at the top
left of every blog page for the past couple of weeks that I am
of Bexley’ bid to be London’s Borough of Culture. It has a lot going for it.
I may also have given you the impression that I was on the brink of applying a brake to BiB activities while Bexley Council runs a more honest operation as appears to have been the case recently. At least nothing like as dishonest as was commonplace two or three years ago.
Whilst BiB has never been Labour supporting I know that some people see it that way and the small danger that it might deliver a few votes towards Jeremy Corbyn was worrying me. Several reasons to put Bonkers on my back-burner were coming together at the same time.
With that in mind I drove over to Hall Place this morning for a quick look at the Culture event held there today and determined to congratulate everyone I saw and knew on a job well done.
There were several Councillors wandering around. Brian Bishop gave a friendly “hello”, Cafer Munur agreed that Bexley’s bid was a good one and was in with a good chance and Eileen Pallen and Val Clark gave me the stony stare to which I have become accustomed.
Director Jane Richardson, in my experience the only senior Bexley Council officer who is always absolutely on top of her brief, was happy to discuss the bid in friendly terms but after that it was all downhill.
On the way in a friendly lady noted my interest in the main Bexley stall and she got around to asking for my name, address and email and I filled in her form.
As I handed it to her I said “better not show that to Peter Craske”. She asked why and I told her that I once reported a crime to the police which resulted in his arrest. She said she had only been in the borough a year and I suggested it might be best if she remained in blissful ignorance especially as the criminal element in Bexley Council appeared to have turned over a new leaf.
After touring around the other stalls I headed for the exit where I spotted Cabinet Member Peter Craske standing by the aforesaid friendly lady.
I said “well done” to him and offered my congratulations on a fine effort. He ignored me. I asked if he was going to say anything and he replied “I don’t know you” as if that was any excuse for his rudeness.
To the friendly lady alongside I said “I have met this man at least 100 times but he doesn’t know me. As I told you I even had him arrested once”
Councillor Craske was suddenly moved to say something. He has never been arrested, he has never been mentioned in the News Shopper in connection with that arrest and if there was such a report in the paper it must have been mistaken.
I could if necessary produce several letters from the police and the Crown Prosecution Service which confirm that Councillor Peter Craske was arrested and charges were being considered.
What sort of lunatic unnecessarily steers my congratulatory comment and determination to overlook history in favour of promoting the new look Bexley Council into a reason to rake up his inglorious past? The sort of lunatic that Sidcup & Lamorbey ward elected and who Council Leader Teresa O’Neill considers a fit and proper person to run the borough’s most high profile Cabinet post presumably.
Chief Executive Gill Steward was within earshot and I asked her why everyone was so negative when offered congratulations. I got no answer but she did tell me not to take her photograph. I grabbed just the one and she was pulling a face again.
Her first idea after taking office was not to look for a way of improving Bexley’s poor relationship with the media but to attack it wherever she legally could. Next time Councillor Read is looking for a cretin maybe he should look in her direction.
So just as it was when The Belvedere Beach was opened, Bexley Council manages to turn what should have been a wholly positive report into anything but, and my dream of a blog-free future recedes further into the distance.
Well done Peter and Co.
Council Press Release.