The havoc wreaked by gritting failures can be a matter of life or death as this impassioned message from a reader shows. Snow is not all fun and games on the ski slopes.
Bexley Council has demonstrated its incompetence today, gritting main routes is fine but then leaving side streets and pavements without hand gritting is just sheer neglect.
Telling people not to go out unless it’s urgent doesn’t help those with hospital appointments or doctor’s appointments or who lose money if they don’t work. The domiciliary care workers for those in need at home who flit from site to site and need public transport to get to their clients.
One service has today had to tell their clients that they won’t have a carer today because of this. While another dedicated carer managed to get a bus from Woolwich to Bedonwell Road and struggled to a house two miles away on foot to get there for seven to get the client up, showered and breakfasted.
Then was left stranded and unable to get to their next clients due to the lack of bus services and the dangerous condition of the pavements - so had to walk home.
Other councils around the country in worse conditions than ours (Kirklees for example) managed to do both roads, side roads and pavements to the grateful thanks of their elderly people who needed to be out and about.
When Bexley can deliver a service like that they might be fit to be called a Local Authority.
my Romanian friend Constantine
this morning and I don’t think I have seen a man so excited about an inch and a half of snow covering our road and
the slopes of Lesnes Abbey. He was heading in that direction with his brother armed with skis and a sledge.
He said that the temperature was minus 20º back in his home town with a metre of snow. As he climbed the hill he called back that he was hoping for more snow tonight. Well there has to be one!
I have given up on walking to the shops when it is raining because the puddles along a poorly surfaced Abbey Road (B213) ensure a good drenching. This morning I decided to extend that rule to snow, in part to see what the roads were like as I was wondering whether it was reasonable to expect a visitor due later to make the journey.
At half past seven I was surprised to see that Abbey Road (which runs alongside Lesnes Abbey) was totally snow covered with no sign of any clearance operation having taken place. With a scheduled 20 buses an hour I had expected to see a reasonably clear road, but where were the buses?
Twitter provided the answer, despite the repeated gritting promised by Bexley Council, in the centre of town buses were not managing to get out of Bexleyheath garage, or maybe the drivers were not able to get there.
Despite the snow covered roads they did not present an especially difficult driving challenge. Go steadily in a high gear at no more than 20 m.p.h.
The main danger is as always the clueless and the boy racers impatiently revving engines and spinning wheels. I saw one almost lose it at the right angle bend shown above.
Fortunately the sun and increased traffic levels came to the rescue and main roads were clear by mid-day.
Bexley Council says that the grit and salt needs to be ground in by traffic to be effective but if the bus garage is not well gritted much of their effort will be thwarted. Seems obvious so who slipped up?
I dutifully watched the web cast of the London Borough of Culture Awards
from City Hall and right at the critical moment a phone call came through from
my cousin in Waltham Forest to say that at that very moment paramedics were
working on his wife who had suffered a cardiac arrest. I missed Sadiq Khan’s announcement!
I understand that Brent may have won jointly with Waltham Forest - or something like that.
Whether Bexley was recognised at all I have not yet discovered, a pity if not because it seemed its bid was a good effort. Frequent visitor to Waltham Forest I might be, but I never noticed any culture there beyond curry houses and pub quizzes.
Council Press Release.
it was not for this rather smug Tweet from Bexley Conservatives I might never have noticed that
Councillor Esther Amaning had resigned
and even now there is not a lot of detail around as to the reason why.
It appears that she may have been in breach of some obscure part of the Local Government Act and chose to go. Not like when Councillor Cheryl Bacon made excuses for her technical breach back in 2013 and Bexley Council put out a whole host of misinformation in an attempt to mask the truth which eventually went to the Crown Prosecution Service with an allegation of Misconduct in a Public Office. Somehow or other the evidence disappeared, or at least that is what was leaked back.
I might not have noticed Labour’s second loss either if I had not been checking that my recollection of a Councillor name and his ward was correct yesterday but I stumbled across the fact that Thamesmead East is now represented by an Independent.
How long it has been like that I have no idea, no one has whispered a word. Nor have I any idea why. My guess is that it is a falling out over reselection - or not.
Council Tax, bar the rubber stamp in nine days’ time, is going to go up by
3·99%. Sadiq Khan is going to slightly spoil the party with a 5·1% increase.
At this evening’s Cabinet meeting the Member for Finance repeated yet again the message that Bexley is a low tax Council and they strive to keep taxes low. What always puzzles me is the implication that Bexley does better than other London Councils. The fact is they don’t.
Ten years ago Bexley was 23rd on the list of least expensive boroughs and now it is 24th. Only eight Councils charge more than Bexley. However well the current administration may be doing they do no better than other Councils whether they be Labour or Conservative.
I am beginning to think that in the current political and financial climate, whether you vote blue or red the tax extorted will not vary very much.
If Labour whacked up tax by 40% in four years as they did last time they were in power they would be finished here for all time, and deservedly so. I suspect they know that.
I have almost stopped participating in the Facebook Group What’s New in
SE2. I don’t much like Facebook at all and I really do object to
who delete posts that run contrary to the general mood. Not so long ago mine was
the only voice that stuck up for a local business which was on the receiving end of
non-stop abuse. Everything I said was deleted.
More recently the SE2 Group has been divided by those who think Wilton Road (Abbey Wood) is a slightly dodgy area best avoided and the majority who don’t see much of a problem. Statistically it is a low crime area, the police have been in chocolate teapot territory at times but by and large the place is as safe if not safer than locations not all that far away, and it is improving.
Someone who has been stoking up dissent created a ‘survey monkey’ which with the aid of some possibly leading questions found that the area was indeed seen as intimidating to around 100 people. The same person created a Crowd Funding page aimed at bringing in private security. Somebody had clearly lost the plot.
That somebody is behind a new company called Abbey Wood Community Limited.
That same somebody private messaged through Facebook asking me, as former Secretary to the Traders’ Association, to send copies of their minutes. My Facebook posts may well have reflected the flavour of what I learned at Association meetings but distributing minutes to outsiders is a whole different ball game. There is no way anyone outside the Association sees those.
I have little idea what Abbey Wood Community Limited is planning for Wilton Road except that there is a reference to Licenced Restaurants. My feeling is that it is not Wilton Road that may be dodgy but those whose research stoops to surveys and pestering for meeting minutes while masquerading as a concerned local resident.
Normally I would report things like this directly to the Traders’ Committee but now that I have no special privileges they will have to read it here.
My date in Sevenoaks has been put back a week. Except that the adjournment is
not snow related I am not much wiser than you are.
I am however pleased to have received two more interesting communications from business professionals over the past 24 hours. Both should come in useful if the case goes to trial. One should be useful even if it doesn’t.
For the record, 9:30 on 6th March at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court
I have received a great deal of support from many people, Bonkers readers,
Bexley Councillors from both main parties and bloggers in defence of the harassment charges brought
against me by Kent Police for in one case supporting a Councillor and in another accurately reporting
events in the High Court. Some of those supporters know more about the case than has ever appeared here.
Some seem to be very confident about what will happen next. I hope they are right.
Arthur Pewty’s Maggot Sandwich has been particularly forthright, but then he has information that only the two of us currently do. See the paragraph just above the fourth photograph.
Just how one is supposed to get to Sevenoaks for 9:30 tomorrow morning given the current weather forecast. I was planning on driving to Pett’s Wood where I can park on a friend’s drive and then taking the 20 minute train journey. And even if I get to the Court, will the barrister who has to come even further.
It’s two weeks since I ran out of time and
didn’t get to attend
Bexley’s Places Scrutiny Committee meeting so here’s a quick roundup gleaned from my own recording of the webcast.
The first substantive item on the Agenda was about the National Grid’s plans for power infrastructure in the borough. Their representatives were present and said that they were going to replace three major 50 year old oil-filled supply cables in south London two of which run into or in one case right across Bexley to the overhead line in Crayford.
The old cables are partially buried beneath the roads but the new cables may be placed within four metre diameter tunnels up to 30 metres deep and with a 120 year projected life. There will be more road disruption. The oil is leaking and they must be replaced by oil-free polyethylene cables as soon as possible, certainly within the next two years.
Councillor John Davey (Conservative, Crayford) had a question. Were the Crayford pylons going to go? The National Grid presentation had already said that the scheme was one of under ground cable replacement to connect to the Crayford pylons so the answer to that one was obvious. No.
An earlier plan to have a ventilation shaft in Danson Park has now been deemed to be unnecessary. There was widespread concern about the traffic routes for the removal of tunnel spoil.
Switching to Bexley Council’s new found enthusiasm for cultural events, Cabinet Member Peter Craske briefly plugged his Book Buzz Festival.
Hall Place’s dinosaur exhibition was also praised. It attracted a staggering 12,500 visitors and later in the year there will be a Lego exhibition. Hall Place is on course for 250,000 visits a year, almost infinitely more than were attracted by the Heritage Trust.
The Trust ran it with the aid of a Council subsidy for only a handful years before it reverted to Council control. Why did Bexley Council ever hand it over to them in the first place? Councillor Danny Hackett (Labour, Lesness Abbey) made a similar point.
Sadiq Khan’s London Plan came in for criticism as is to be expected. It was said he wants to subject Outer London to the same restrictions, rules and regulations as Inner London which Councillor June Slaughter believed would bring “social and environmental problems to Bexley. The density and height of new buildings is unwanted in Bexley”. She said the “communities expect their representatives to be able to control what happens locally and the ability to do that is gradually being taken away from local Councils”.
Councillor Danny Hackett argued otherwise. He said the plan was for affordable homes to be the priority.
In Councillor Slaughter’s own ward, Sidcup, she was pleased at the prospect of a small cinema on the old Blockbuster site but a good deal less enamoured about moving the borough’s second busiest library to smaller premises in the High Street. The existing library has parking spaces and a large forecourt. The new one will have neither.
Cabinet Member Peter Craske said he had not even thought about moving the library yet.
There was a reference to the Wilton Road (Abbey Wood) traders’ meeting in January, the one where, as their then Secretary, I was excluded by order of the Council, Greenwich as far as I know. The official report is that the area is now a “much safer and nicer place”. Six weeks after it took place the minutes of that meeting have still not been made available to any of the Wilton Road traders to whom I have spoken in recent days.
The former Harrow Inn public house site in Abbey Wood is targetted for a planning application by Peabody in March or April 2018 but Councillor Hackett said the promised (at a traders’ meeting I attended) consultation had not taken place. What is going on? There was no proper answer, Danny will get an update from the responsible Council officer.
The rebuild of Harrow Manorway is still expected on time “despite Greenwich being a little slow”. There are differences on “waiting restrictions”.
Railways received an honourable mention. Abbey Wood station was said to be now providing step-free access to Southeastern services. (Currently station access is step-free only via a long diversion.)
Councillor Seán Newman (Labour, Belvedere) said the lifts failed far too often. A report on a Crossrail extension to Ebbsfleet is on course for submission to the Treasury in May. Seán said that “98% of Bexley’s Growth Strategy hangs on Crossrail. Is the Secretary of State listening to Bexley, I have heard not”.
Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer said he had received no reports of lift failures at Abbey Wood station and that his report to the Secretary of State will be forceful but he had no idea of what he may be thinking. He was “not going to roll over”, he will fight for residents “tooth and nail”.
Councillor Newman also raised the possible loss of the loop line services under the new franchise arrangements. There will be no Sidcup line services to Cannon Street so how can they run? Cabinet Member Sawyer said he too had some concerns about the loop line but suggested that Councillor Newman should not be a train spotter concerned with points etc. and instead “get a life” like he has.
Cabinet Member for Regeneration Linda Bailey confirmed that her “Growth Strategy is predicated on infrastructure. It will be devastating is we don’t get Crossrail [the extension across the borough]. We will have to really fight to get this. It is absolutely essential.”
She sounded quite emotional about the subject and finished by saying the Crossrail extension is “a no brainer”.
What a huge pity that Bexley Council took so little interest in the project ten years ago. Without the intervention of Labour MP Teresa Pearce it may not even have come to Abbey Wood.
You have an opportunity to vote on May 3rd, there is to be an election for a new Council, as if you didn’t know given that Bexley took off the austerity
brake last Autumn and has been lavishing the money they saved in past years on a
More on road repairs - but not as much as they have boasted - planting trees after previously cutting the budget to zero, more eye catching initiatives everywhere and as many lies as they think they can get away with about the opposition, which this year will be pretty much entirely Labour.
The Electoral Services team will be working flat out, running an election is a complicated business at the best of times but this year Bexley is down from 63 candidates in 21 wards to only 45 in 17.
Many of us will find ourselves in wards with revised boundaries and a new name. I will be switched from Lesnes Abbey to Belvedere and only a stone’s throw from my address it will be Thamesmead East which previously started half a mile away.
It’s a recipe for the occasional mistake. Let’s hope that none is more serious than the one shown here. It is often forgotten that a fair chunk of Bexley is outside the DA postcode, some is London SE2.
I don’t suppose it was done with Royal Mail’s approval but it would appear that the SE2 addresses have been transferred back into Kent.
It’s the same every time, you can spend half a day working on a complex blog,
trying to make sure it is simple and easily understood and get little thanks for
it but report on how motorists are being attacked from all sides by the
authorities and you will be rewarded with thousands of hits in a day. Speed
cameras, oppressive and unreasonable yellow box junctions and pointless road
restrictions are all great for the web stats.
Only two days ago Bonkers showed a few pictures of the Thamesmead car park closed by Peabody. More than 5,000 views through Facebook already.
I was tipped off that residents were going to stage a little demonstration this morning so I wandered down there to see what was going on. Pretty much nothing. Half a dozen people weer huddled in a corner against the bitter cold and when I spoke to them they looked me up and down with suspicion, then looked away and said nothing.
They have a problem, but no one was willing to discuss it.
northwestern footpath across the Harrow Manorway flyover was opened this morning
bringing with it much simpler step free access to Abbey Wood station from the Sainsbury’s side.
It’s a fairly easy walk on neatly laid paving slabs. Unfortunately the lifts from Felixstowe Road do not appear to be much closer to becoming operational than they were two months ago.
A set of pictures depicting flyover progress over the past year is available as of course are recent Crossrail pictures. For about 48 hours the Crossrail Elizabeth Line roundels were visible. Now they are all covered again.
The road widening scheme to the north of Sainsbury’s - possibly unique in Bexley over the past ten years at least - is progressing. Pictures here.
appointment in Sevenoaks for next Tuesday is still on. Thanks to everyone
who has sent good wishes especially the several Conservative Councillors who
stuck their heads above the parapet.
As well as being somewhat shell shocked by recent events I am totally puzzled by some aspects of it.
Over the long period during which I am accused of harassment I received several emails from the complainant. Two were entirely friendly, one about nothing in particular not unlike what one might receive from a friend.
Another reported that ‘the Fat Controller’s office’ was spinning against the complainant and would I please not publish certain revelations which had reached my Inbox. The story was undoubtedly true and damaging but I chose not to publish it.
Finally the complainant sent me an email with three attachments which suggested wrong doing by her Council colleagues. I was asked to publish a critical report but the evidence did not reach the threshold required so I did not.
Ok for BiB to bring her colleagues to book apparently, but not if it reveals my accuser’s predicaments.
It’s been a while since I mentioned my near to 98 year old aunt. She is now
with my sister in Hampshire and much improved over a couple of months ago but
only yesterday the local GP said her thyroid level was the lowest he had ever
seen. That’s what the endocrinologist in the hospital said too. The result of
two and a half years of neglect and wrong prescribing by her GP in East Ham.
Thanks to other preoccupations I have not yet made a complaint to the GMC. Her
doctor ignored the one I sent to him.
We bought a wheelchair so she can be taken to the shops etc. but parking the car is a pain. Without access to disabled bays it is next to impossible to get her out of the car and straight into the chair.
A Blue Badge is the obvious answer and loads of people get them who do not have such severe mobility problems as the old lady. She cannot take a single step unaided and certainly cannot get up a step.
I applied through Newham Council’s website as if I was her and it eventually told me to take her to their assessment centre. I doubt that would be possible even if she still lived in East Ham.
I tried again as if I was a relative applying on her behalf. That took me to Bexley’s assessment centre. Even worse.
So my sister tried the Hampshire council website. That was totally different, but it wanted ID.
A birth certificate - my aunt was born in a village just outside Rangoon. I am not at all sure she has one.
Alternatives were a marriage certificate. I don’t think she even had a steady boyfriend let alone a husband.
A driving licence? No she was not a driver.
A passport? She went to Israel in 1981. Any passport, if it still exists, will be long out of date.
What about a current Freedom Pass? No we don’t accept other authorities’ֹ bus passes.
So where do we go now? It seems to most of us that the disabled can get a Blue Badge fairly easily but a 97 year old who cannot walk unaided at all is not allowed to have one.
This country has gone totally Bonkers.
When I mentioned
my Thames Water survey last weekend it provoked quite a lot
of comment, none of it in favour of Thames Water. They have since sent me their
official report. What a load of old sewage.
They say I could halve my water usage and save 32,874 litres of water a year. How?
Apparently I could reduce shower water use by half. I told them it was never used.
Bath usage could be reduced by a quarter. I told them mine is never more than index finger deep. What do they want me to do, use it only once a week?
Apparently I could reduce use of the bathroom basin by a massive 90%. I only use it for shaving once a day and washing my hands after use of the toilet. There is no scope whatsoever for reduced usage.
Toilet use could be very nearly halved. What do they want me to do? Pee in the sink?
Kitchen sink use could be reduced by exactly 50%. Not sure how. I bought a smaller plastic bowl and tend to save evening washing up until morning.
Thames Water’s survey is total nonsense, it’s enough to make me go and buy a pressure washer for the front drive. I’d suggest that if TW offers you a survey, just ignore them.
Speaking of useless utility companies, I dumped Scottish Power as my energy provider last month, today I received my final bill. It is for precisely nothing. What is the chance of my meter reading cancelling my previous credit balance so precisely? Slim to vanishing I would think. I must try to find time to check the arithmetic.
Beware blatant plug!
I switched energy supply to www.bulb.co.uk which doesn’t offer a long term fixed tariff but their current rate was only 75% of the cheapest that Scottish Power could offer me. No penalties for leaving either and best of all a £50 bonus for introducing new customers. £50 for the new customer too!
At £50 a go you could fund my current legal bills. Use www.bulb.co.uk/refer/malcolm5416
It seems an awful long time ago now but there was a time when one of Bexley
Council’s defences against exposure of its secrecy, dishonesty and occasion law
breaking was to place reporting restrictions on its public meetings. Definitely
no recording beyond a shorthand pad and absolutely no cameras allowed.
All that changed when Eric Pickles came along as Communities Secretary and demanded that Council’s get with the modern digital age. Bexley Council saw the writing was on the wall and convened their Constitutional Review Committee in September 2013 to debate and preempt Eric’s wishes.
I sat alongside the News Shopper’s reporter while a variety of views were aired.
Council Leader Teresa O’Neill didn’t think webcasting would be much used although seemed not to be averse to the idea in principle.
The since departed Deputy Leader was also wholly behind the idea except that the anticipated “£20,000 a year soon adds up”.
Councillor Peter Reader was against 3rd party recording (which is what brings you the Council meeting reports on Bonkers). Councillor Alan Downing backed him to the hilt.
Councillor Peter Craske was scathing about the usefulness of webcasting but he was not against it and urged its implementation.
The Deputy Leader then slightly switched tack and suggested webcasting should be live only with no playback facilities. He was concerned that someone might mischievously take a copy and edit it. Councillor Reader said he was worried about the same thing.
Councillors Don and Sharon Massey were both absolutely against 3rd party recording and anything else that might allow “mischievous editing”.
In total, five Councillors were against 3rd party recording but they lost out against the Deputy Leader and Councillor Craske’s formal proposal that it should be allowed. In the event the subsequent law demanded it.
Since then Bonkers has occasionally published audio extracts of sections of Council meetings but never altered anything. I leave that to other people, like for example Bexley’s Conservatives.
They have several times Tweeted an extract from a Council meeting which is the most blatant bit of news manipulation that our Council has got up to in a very long time. A repeating loop of the introduction to a much longer comment. How can the crooked Tories say that Bexley Labour was in favour of the closure of Bexleyheath’s police station when they wrote so many letters to various authorities demanding it be kept open?
It is satisfying to note that no one has ‘Liked’ Bexley Tories’ most recent attempt to deceive the public.
Labour’s letter to the Home Secretary.
Labour’s letter to the Deputy Head of the Mayor’s Office for Policing (MOPAC) with attachments.
Labour welcomes the police station’s reprieve.
Over the past couple of years I must have met more than half a dozen Peabody
people both at Council meetings, local liaison meetings and by simply bumping
into them while on my travels. Without exception they have been friendly and always
willing to explain what is going on in and around Thamesmead.
I have no complaints at all but locally it is hard to find anyone with a good word to say for them. Maybe only the disgruntled speak their minds.
At the eastern end of Yarnton Way (Thamesmead) the residents of the Tilehurst and Blewbury towers are up in arms about the latest move from Peabody. They have simply taken their car park away. Three notices pinned to lamp posts and most of it is gone and a surprise to most people. Who reads Planning Applications?
Bexley Council and its contractors operate in much the same way. A Press Release said that the overnight closures on Gravel Hill would end on 20th February. I went along yesterday, the 21st, to look at the finished job.
It was not a good place to be, the southbound carriageway was closed and northbound traffic was at a standstill while I watched.
Standing outside the Marriott Hotel in the dark I crossed the road unimpeded only to find myself on the wrong side of a half inch wide plastic tape. Trying to escape, I crossed the road towards the Civic Offices and walked straight into another thin ‘invisible’ tape almost dragging it down. I had to duck under it
From there I asked a Conway man where the official crossing point was but he just shrugged.
He found his voice when I began to retrace my steps. He shouted something unintelligible but I just carried on. I saw no signs that were of any use to a pedestrian wishing to get from the Civic Centre back to the Marriott Hotel. Pedestrians don’t matter.
Today was almost completely wasted on mundane routine things. The car was
booked in for the annual service and MOT. It has to go to Sidcup and the return
journey and back again from Abbey Wood by train via the Sidcup loop wastes more
than an hour each way.
The service timetable overran by quite a margin because there was not only the routine service but there were two recall jobs to do. I sat around waiting for ages and one of the recalls could not be done for highly technical reasons. There was too much fuel in the tank.
But enough of that, what is the news on you know what?
Quite a lot as it happens but nothing that I can broadcast to everyone. Those who have been with Bonkers for a long time and I know can be trusted have been fed a few tidbits.
There has been a good number of emails from well wishers and some of them contain reports and background information which may prove to be useful
A second class stamp brought forth a plain envelope containing four crisp tenners. How about that for generosity?
If this harassment business goes on beyond next Tuesday I probably will try one of the Crowd Funding sites. The cost of bringing you the truth about Bexley Council is already quite high.
For some light relief yesterday I thought I would modify a local company’s
website as they requested some while ago. Unlike BiB it is mobile friendly!
While modifying their Contact Us page I realised that a mistake had crept into it and BiB’s too. I have no need to send myself messages so I had never noticed the change since the initial testing phase. It is fixed now.
Another thing that was not working for me was the facility to run an email client. The Contact page used to run Microsoft Outlook on my desktop computer but now it was running a web browser. When I checked on my laptop it correctly, from my point of view, ran Outlook .
It had to be a configuration issue and it was. If you are a Windows 10 user and find the BiB Contact page does not do what you would prefer, open up the Control Panel and go to Programs.
While that is open type ‘default’ into the search box on the Taskbar. It should pop up a menu. Select ‘Choose a default email application’. For me Microsoft Outlook was top of the list.
That was it. Everything back to how I like it.
Normally Tuesday would be a relatively free day which would allow Bonkers to
catch up on recent Council meetings but as always recently there are other things to
do. Since Kent Police decided to charge me with harassing Councillor Fothergill
for doing her the favour of virtually proving she was innocent of the Code of
Conduct charge brought against her by Bexley Council no day has been anything
like normal. She didn’t like the factual reporting of her lost libel case
together with some of the documents shown to the Court either.
I have seen or spoken to three solicitors and one barrister in recent weeks. One of the solicitors is prepared to be my witness should the case go to trial and has already told the police that he believes they have themselves run foul of various laws.
The barrister suggested it might be wise to remove the blogs relating to the Code of Conduct issues and the Libel case and they now reside behind a password. It is frustrating to be unable to keep readers informed of developments but that is the way it has to be right now.
So moving on to other things
Councillor Craske is very proud of his new street cleaning machine which seems to be unable to venture far beyond Tory wards but it will take much more than a few whirring brushes to clean up Bexley.
Long term Bonkers’ supporter Michael Barnbrook has secured the agreement of the police to investigate potentially criminal activity by a Bexley Conservative Councillor. In view of recent events I had better not suggest who he might have in his sights. One harassment Charge is quite bad enough.
From a totally different source comes yet another case of a Bexley Conservative Councillor being up to no good together with what seems to me to be good evidence.
It has all gone off to the police requesting they take action. If they do I would guess that someone might be in very great trouble. We shall see, the Craske obscene blog case (still with the IPCC seven years later) showed that the police tend to find ways of letting Councillors off.
What did they do for him? Oh, yes I remember now, they convened a meeting aimed at “resolving Councillor Craske’s ongoing situation”.
Is there an honest policeman out there anywhere? Well there just may be. Support for me against Councillor Fothergill’s claim has come from an unlikely source, a serving officer in the Metropolitan Police who seems to know her better than I do.
Not much from me today, I have to go to the Headquarters Office of the National Union of Journalists this afternoon.
Last Monday I spotted this in the Daily Mail. It reported that Katie Price’s son Harvey who is partially blind and autistic “suffers constant abuse on social media” but it is not illegal.
The former model and TV personality has launched a campaign to make it so and has been speaking to MPs about it.
Meanwhile here in Kent reporting truthfully is an offence warranting a day in Court.
Close supporters of Bonkers have today been sent an update on the situation. Interesting eh?
used to take a close interest in the goings on in Wilton Road, the little
shopping centre to the south of Abbey Wood station. Not so much these days but I can still be seen there at least twice a day -
maybe only once on Sunday - and I know a good number of the shopkeepers by name.
Over the years I have seen the occasional incident I would rather not but I guess you would say the same about any urban shopping street. I’ve been asked for 20 pence occasionally and the price seems to have crept up to 50 pence. I have been approached once in the whole of this year and seen absolutely nothing untoward except that the road is frequently deserted.
I have never once felt unsafe although I accept that some of the black guys like to stand around talking and joking with a can of beer in their hand. One is my next door neighbour and he is a perfectly decent father of three.
There are probably drug users close by but I only once smelled cannabis. Itֹ’s just an urban backwater where traders struggle to attract passers’ by, especially since the new Crossrail station began to direct passengers in alternative directions. Until recently they all exited into Wilton Road.
So the shopkeepers could do without the Facebook wars which keep breaking out. Four times in the past fortnight massive slanging matches have broken out on Facebook between mostly female protagonists. Probably they have the best of intentions, some are very new to the area and because Wilton Road is not perfect they want to drive even more punters away.
According to them it is a den of iniquity with men leering, swearing, drinking, begging, spitting, urinating and getting a good seeing to in quiet corners by ladies of ill repute. All of that could be read on Facebook recently except that the Administrator deleted the main thread.
But there are others. Someone set up a surveymonkey full of leading questions encouraging adverse reports and by all accounts found a large proportion of visitors felt at least a little unsafe.
The object is to get the betting shops closed down because they attract undesirables. One is my Chinese friend who likes to while away his time on the horses.
If that fails they want to take away the convenience stores’ alcohol licences to stop them selling “strong beer”. But by agreement with both Councils they don’t sell strong beers. Perhaps Sainsbury’s does.
What is it with these people that they want to put honest people out of work? The betting shop managers quickly clamp down on any dubious behaviour and will occasionally call the police who turn up six hours later. That’s a fact, I have his accounts audio recorded.
Because the police haven’t seen much of a problem neither Council will be doing much about what doesn’t occur very often. Nothing is likely to happen. The Councils are in a near impossible situation caught between those who see little or no problem and those who claim the street is a no-go area.
Because the Councils have no money and do not see much of a problem - probably rightly - yet another Facebook thread has been created today. It is asking people to crowd fund private security patrols.
It is madness.
I no longer participate in the Facebook discussions, not that such a civilised word accurately describes what goes on there. Last week one of the prominent FB ladies warned those with alternative views strongly expressed that she would report them to the police for “Malicious communications” and claimed that the police had already told her that they would take such reports seriously.
More madness but in police state Britain I can believe that.
The Class 345
Crossrail train is back in Abbey Wood after an interval of nearly four months.
An email to Abbey Wood station staff says it will be shuffling back and forth to Whitechapel on test until June. It is being guarded day and night by Land Sheriffs Ltd.
Rather worrying is that Network Rail staff at the September Liaison Panel meeting expected that this testing stage would commence on 1st November last year but there have been power supply problems.
The gory details may be found at London Reconnections. (About six paragraphs down.)
by coincidence, Thames Water find themselves in the firing line
twice in one day.
On 9th January Bonkers showed pictures of a sewer leak in Lower Belvedere which was causing a mess, a stink and a health hazard. The next day Bexley Council swung into action with a formal notice pinned to lamp posts and almost immediately the footpath was being dug up.
A pretty good show? Well maybe not quite.
The sewer is leaking again with a fine wet sediment lying over the footpath. I saw a lady with one of those tiny dogs let it walk through the puddle and then she picked it up half way through. That is how diseases spread.
Everyone in Bexley has been affected by Thames Water works over the past year
or so. If you have not been held up by
their road works you would have been inconvenienced by
their meter fitting programme. Many residents found themselves
with water tanks filled with mud and silt.
I got off relatively lightly. They said they couldn’t fit a meter outside and there was not enough room by the internal stopcock, I was therefore put on a fixed tariff. Quite pleasing because it was less than half of what it was before.
Unfortunately things didn’t stop there, Thames Water wanted to come inside to check I had no leaks and knew how to economise on water. Actually I already did, I had been to their Council presentations and I make some effort to use as little as possible to minimise salt consumption in the water softener.
Being a single occupier I can choose to do the evening washing up in a bowl along with the breakfast things in the morning. If I get up in the night I don’t have to flush the toilet until morning if I don’t want to; there is no one around to complain.
I think I washed my car once in the past twelve months and only with a couple of bucketfuls of water. Last year I didn’t have to water the garden at all.
Last week I let Thames Water do their survey. A lady found no leaks and fitted some sort of aerating device to all the taps. That was it. Then she got out her computer and asked a series of questions. Do I use a bath or a shower etc. and do I brush my teeth under a running tap? “No.”
Having been brought up in an age when a bath was a weekly event in a zinc plated tub in front of the fire, I do not take four a day as the lady said some people did and she could see by the tide mark around the bath that I fill it only one finger deep.
How often do I use the washing machine? Twice a week at the very most. How often to I boil a single cup of water in the kettle?
She pressed all the buttons on her tablet and announced that I used about 10% more water per day than the average person. What? Don’t wash car, combine washing up sessions, not watered the garden with a hose for a year or more and I use more than average.
I told the lady her survey must be rubbish and she pressed a few more buttons and now I used about 5% less than average, just like that! Proof if ever it was needed that the survey definitely is rubbish.
And what about these aerator things, what do they do? How do they save water, you are still going to fill the basin to the same level aren’t you?
Downstairs with decent water pressure they don’t make an awful lot of difference. Upstairs they have reduced flow to a trickle. If they are going to save water it is only because the basin or bath takes so long to fill that you give up and go dirty.
I have removed them obviously, so the Thames Water lady has achieved absolutely nothing.
If you are being pestered by Thames Water for a survey and you think you are already being as frugal as you can be, then just tell them to go away. The survey is a waste of everyone’s time.
You are going to have to get used to some days with short or inconsequential blogs, far too much time is being taken up with correspondence and meetings, there is another in SW1 tomorrow so let’s go with something quick and simple for today.
On October 11th last year I submitted a Freedom of Information Request to Bexley Council (only my third one ever) which in effect asked them what they had done with my fly tipping report made a year earlier. At that time the Council said it would get back to me but they never did.
The same fate befell the FOI, beyond the almost automated acknowledgement I never heard another word, not even when I sent a reminder. A complaint went off to the Information Commissioner. He wrote to me yesterday to say he had kicked Bexley Council in appropriate places.
To be fair to our less than transparent Bexley they actually beat the Commissioner to it and sent their answers a day earlier. It makes for quite interesting reading and it will be brought to you in more detail as soon as possible. If nothing else it shows that fly tippers can be more than that, some are serial criminals.
Take a look at the picture; does it or does it not show a man taking rubbish from his truck and putting it directly into a Bexley Council’s recycling bin. If the photo doesn’t the video most certainly did.
I think that is going to become very relevant to the forthcoming more detailed report.
Meanwhile I am going to crawl away and doze in an armchair.
There have been some amazing developments in the Fothergill harassment case over the past 24 hours and I couldn't possibly hint at what they are. However what I will say is that a solicitor and a barrister both seriously concerned about the activities of Councillor Fothergill and her police friends have been providing free advice and have even taken some pre-emptive action themselves. I cannot stop grinning from ear to ear.
Some people expect to see something here every day but it is not always possible.
Today will be entirely taken up by attending to the needs of my near 98 year old aunt who, according to a hospital endocrinologist, has been mentally damaged by poor prescribing. She was also totally neglected by her GP, she just wouldn’t come out to visit.
It is likely that the mistakes and lack of medical care will be prove to be very expensive.
The plan was of course to write something for today yesterday but a repairman who was due with me on Thursday asked if he could fill in a cancellation by coming yesterday. That took until nearly one o’clock. The afternoon went on obtaining more legal advice and by the end of the day I was too exhausted to do anything. Didn’t even get to the Places Scrutiny meeting but recorded the webcast from home so no doubt some sort of report will appear eventually.
I think there may be more days like this over the next couple of weeks.
is not the worst run Council in London, not by a long way. It is not a Labour Tower Hamlets
nor is it a Conservative Kensington and Chelsea.
But they lie. Constantly. Why?
When they put out propaganda on Twitter it is nearly always a lie and alongside is a prime example.
According to Bexley Conservatives they monitor their CCTV system.
They monitor the CCTV? Oh yeah!
In 2015 they conducted one of their sham consultations about stopping the active monitoring of CCTV. The consultation has long since been removed from Bexley’s website but the blog remains. It says they would save £225,000 a year by abandoning system monitoring.
Six months earlier Councillor Alan Downing, a former police officer, had asked the Borough Commander what use the CCTV system was. CS Ayling said it was the primary measure for catching offenders. Nevertheless, Bexley Council went on to close the system down.
The following October the Borough Commander said he could not monitor from the police station.
By July 2016 all the CCTV staff had been made redundant.
In April last year following the Northumberland Heath riot, Councillor Joe Ferreira asked whether saving the £225,000 had been worth it. Councillor Craske said the riot was picked up on CCTV right from the outset. Really? That was lucky with no one to keep watch, they will have looked at the recorded files after the event.
Cabinet Member Craske said that the Borough Commander confirmed at a Scrutiny meeting that the beginnings of the riot in Bexleyheath were picked up on CCTV. I have checked the recording. He did not, he said it was picked up on Social Media. Yet another Bexley Council lie.
Last week Deputy Director Toni Ainge confirmed that it was maintained but not monitored.
Why can’t Bexley’s Cabinet and Comms Team tell the truth, especially when it is so easy to discover?
Councillor James Hunt’s People Overview and Scrutiny meeting can be interesting
because one often hears reports from the police about the soaring rates of crime
and the medics telling their sometimes dismal stories. Last time it was
failures by the Stroke Services and in the past we have heard how some of
Bexley’s health statistics are among the worst in the country;
HIV rates have been particularly bad.
The Clinical Commissioning Group’s report for 2016/17 conveniently omits mentioning HIV rates. Every statistic chosen for inclusion in that report shows Bexley to be better than the London or UK averages.
Unfortunately neither the police nor CCG staff were invited to last week’s meeting and as a result there was no particular highlight. With luck this report will be brief.
Unlike at Resources two days later where it was said that the Agenda must include Cabinet papers, Councillor Hunt made sure right from the start that “everybody has brought their Cabinet papers with them”.
The Finance man reported that this year the budget was running pretty much on track and “there are positive things for next year but the medium term remains challenging”.
Councillor Borella’s (Labour, North End) interest was Social Care which has a total budget of £50 million this year with no significant increase over the next three years.
Deputy Director of Housing etc. David Bryce-Smith said that “homelessness was a challenge for the borough but he was also doing a lot of work on those who are at risk of becoming homeless. Identifying people in private accommodation whose housing benefit does not cover the cost. Seeing what we can do to assist those people proactively. There is a lot more work to do.”
Mr. Bryce-Smith has increased his house purchase spree to 200 properties. He was considering leasing them to “another organisation”.
Mr. Rowbottom, Deputy Director of Adult Social Care, had been speaking to Peabody “and they are very keen to talk to us about how they can help [with care services] not just for older people but for supported housing for working age people with disabilities. Hundreds of units over some years”.
Councillor Langstead (Labour, North End) queried the £225,000 expenditure on CCTV which is no longer monitored. She was told it was the maintenance cost.
Vice-Chairman Councillor Alan Downing said he was very impressed by the Financial Plans and any Council in London that can present a budget like this year on year like Bexley should be very very proud. To come up with a budget [correct] almost to the penny and at the same time the services have been running hard and even improved in lots of circumstances and has even put money into reserve really should step back and pat themselves on the back”.
“The two big points are housing and homelessness, it is a serious serious business and I am just hoping that all the work we have done so far ” and then he wandered off on a tangent about the academy for social work but when he came back said “in all honesty this is a marvellous budget and I am very pleased with it.”
I can hear the various park saving groups asking why if things are that good were four parks sold off?
Twelve years on from the 2006’s Labour administration Tories still bring up their 40% tax increase - which was never handed back so presumably it was justified - and in twelve years time you will still hear the cry of Save Old Farm Park etc. It will be the Tories’ epitaph with only an octogenarian Councillor Slaughter being able to hold her head high.
On the subject of the Social Care Academy for children introduced by his colleague Philip Read, Brad Smith said he was planning the equivalent for Adults’ Services.
The discussion on finance was concluded and so is this report before my eyes totally close up.
young man handing out Nuxley Navigator cards at Abbey Wood Station this morning
said that the trial service will end next Friday. They didn’t give it much time
for the word to get around did they?
I would be surprised if the trial did well because until Crossrail services commence there is nothing to attract Erith and Belvedere commuters to Abbey Wood.
Carlton Road people can take a short walk to Erith Station and those living around the Nuxley Road stop in Belvedere will walk down the hill to Belvedere Station.
What is the point of changing the habit of a life time to pick up the same train in Abbey Wood or more than likely a later one?
It is not as though the coffee at W.H. Smith (Abbey Wood) is anything to write home about.
A great deal of time has been spent this week answering enquiries from
concerned friends and readers, the subject of course being my refusal to bow down
to requests to censor the news relating to Councillor Fothergill’s lost libel case.
My state of mind about her wish to brand me a criminal for merely reporting facts has been very much up and down for several weeks and as a result the aforementioned friends have been given differing responses dependent on the day of the week it was sent out.
However things have stabilised over the past few days and I am quite looking forward to demolishing the prosecution case. My solicitor appears to relish the idea of trashing Councillor Fothergill’s reputation and has taken on board all sorts of historical information. As I think I said before, that was not my original intention, mine was just to bang some recognition into her head that news can prove uncomfortable but as my daughter (a degree qualified journalist at a major news organisation for many years) said a couple of weeks ago, “that is the nature of news”. Maybe Harvey Weinstein should consider moving house to somewhere near Swanley.
I note that I am not charged with publishing falsehoods, only of harassment by mentioning the subject more than once, but no one reads a blog for more than a couple of minutes, so it had to be broken up into manageable segments with supporting documents where necessary.
A major problem at the personal level is that I wake up around 3 a.m. every morning with my head running a rehearsal of the Court appearance, it usually goes something like this
Where is your evidence of harassment Councillor Fothergill?
You blogged through the early part of 2016 that I was guilty of “conferring an advantage or disadvantage on any person or act to gain financial or other material benefits for herself”.
But isn’t that what Bexley Council says on its website to this very day plus their opinion that you brought Bexley Council into disrepute? Are they harassing you?
What did my blog say about the same case?
I’m not sure.
I will tell you. Bexley-is-Bonkers ended months of painstaking investigation with a blog entitled ‘Maxine Fothergill is innocent, Ok?’ Is that harassment?
Do you not remember that reaching that conclusion took 13 Freedom of Information Requests culminating in a meeting with you in a hotel bar where we reached agreement over glasses of wine and beer? The agreement was over how best to present the earlier reports covering the period when Bexley Council was concealing information and according to you being economical with the truth. You must remember that?
The agreement was that every one of those blogs carried a prefix explaining that you were the innocent party. You did not complain about the proclamation that the charges brought against you by Bexley Council were unjust until you decided that the presentation of your libel case was not going the way you were demanding? Is that right?
No I didn’t make any complaint.
So was the agreed statement and the final conclusion that you were innocent harassment?
Moving on to more recent events. Did you not telephone me on 13th November 2017 to ask that the reference to the High Court listing be removed from my blog even though it only repeated what was freely available on the High Court’s website? And you followed up with an email making similar demands and protesting that the conclusions reached in the High Court were mistaken. You specifically repeated in that email that Hayley Warnes was guilty of a fraud immediately after she had been awarded £40,000 because of an identical claim made earlier.
Was your email to me ill-judged? You must know that I did not publish any documents relating to your libel case until 16th November.
And I emailed you on 19th November to say that the story was exhausted and there would be no more.
Yes but that was not good enough.
In what way was it not good enough?
You were still refusing to remove all your news items completely.
That is true and is confirmed by your email but having published the bare facts retrospective censorship is unacceptable to any news outlet. I suggested to you it was “time to draw a line”. I specifically said I would not be publishing any more about you just three days after starting. Is this true?
You by contrast wanted me to continue by publishing more documents that you believed to be proof that you were the innocent party and Hayley Warnes had indeed defrauded you. Do you agree?
Do you want to see your email again?
Did I immediately break my word by returning to the subject?
No, not straight away.
You then asked your solicitor to fire a warning shot across my bows?
And what did he ask me to do?
I don’t know.
I will tell you. He didn’t ask me to do anything apart from not referring to another website which was carrying the same story.
You told the police that I went on to use derogatory words, that is deliberately offensive language, to describe you. I said it was “silly” to libel an employee, a libel which ultimately cost you a great deal of money. I also said it was “nasty” to subject that employee to arrest and eleven months of misery when there was no evidence that she had done anything wrong. Please show me where my words were any stronger than that?
You also told the police that I had issued threats to reveal personal information about you? Please show me when and where I said that and why you thought anything I said might be threatening.
Hang on a minute.
OK but I will help you. On 13th December 2017 I publicly said that “there would be no more Maxine Fothergill info.” and anything else I might know “would never see the light of day”. Is that a threat?
I doubt that anyone will agree with you Councillor.
Can you find anything else?
And that is the scenario that plays out in my head most nights. I really have no idea why Councillor Fothergill wants to put herself through such an ordeal without evidence to support the police charge. Probably the solicitor will take a far harsher line than what I dream up in the middle of the night.
The renowned lawyer Mark Lewis who knows the case well has Tweeted that Councillor Fothergill should be charged with wasting police time. The time for her to see sense is fast running out. Maybe she could even yet persuade me why I might listen to her again, after all we were almost friends until a couple of months ago.
Bexley Council has been reviewing its communications policies, in particular
those relating to the digital age.
I attended the first meeting of its
Sub-Committee under the Chairmanship of Nick O’Hare. Last Thursday he provided
the Resources Scrutiny Committee with a progress report.
Councillor O’Hare said he was happy to see the numbers of residents who now engage with the Council electronically. “I am very very pleased with this report.”
Councillor Danny Hackett asked if there was any data relating to “interactions on social media platforms and how many are positive and how many are negative. Are we tracking something like that?”.
No one present knew the answer to that question but the responsible Councillor officer Nick Hollier said “where adverse comments or complaints are made through those channels they are picked up and fed into the system and addressed. Tracking all the interactions would be quite a task”.
Councillor Hackett said there are effective tools available for tracking. He was critical of the frequent referrals to on-line forms. “Residents may take a quick picture of fly-tipping and upload it to Twitter while walking down the street and that is the end of their involvement. What they do not want to do is follow links to a web form and be bothered by follow up email.”
Cabinet Member Massey said that problems arise when a resident is insufficiently precise with the location.
Councillor Howard Marriner said that his electors had reported at his ward forum meeting that they have to pay in cash at libraries for things like the Garden Waste Service. He was assured that “every sort of payment would become accessible as soon as possible.
Councillor John Husband asked what had become of the Member’s Portal on the Council website. Mr. Hollier said it had only been looked at six times in a year but he recognised that “a more efficient resource for Members was required”.
Councillor Leaf admitted that he had not found any need to use the portal in at least two years. He appeared to agree with Councillor Hackett when he said that uploading to Twitter was quicker and easier than navigating through a website which can “be challenging”.
He went on to mention the Council’s email archives, residents bring up subjects and refer to previous correspondence and it is no longer easily searchable. The same sort of thing can happen in correspondence with Council officers.
Cabinet Member Massey referred to “Terrabytes of data which is never looked at again” and spoke of “getting the right balance”.
Mr. Hollier helpfully added that there are “currently ninety odd million items stored in the vault”. Much to my surprise he admitted that “the new website isn’t the easiest thing for residents to do transactions on. There are some areas which are good but others where it is perhaps more clunky”.
Improvement “is an on-going project”.
As can be seen in the adjacent photograph sitting immediately behind Councillor Slaughter was Councillor Louie French and I became aware that he was fiddling with his mobile phone.
He complained of people “not acting properly on Social Media quite a lot” and then referred to a Tweet sent by Councillor Hackett while the meeting was in progress. It was, he said, “complete garbage” and proceeded to read it out.
It said something about the Tories being critical of Council officers. It was fleeting and I did not consider it worthy of a report here but Councillor French was clearly upset by it.
Cabinet Member Massey said “It is really really sad that he (Councillor Hackett) should spend time on Social Media rather than listening to the Committee. I am a fan of Social Media it has a great place in society and in business, sadly there are a few people who abuse it and make it bad and it is quite honestly pathetic”.
The Chairman Councillor Hall reminded Members that “if they can pay more attention to the meeting rather than playing with mobile technology it would be great”.
The irony that was missed by everyone was that Danny Hackett sent what may well have been a misjudged Tweet from his Council tablet while Councillor French picked it up on his mobile, a personal one because Bexley Council does not issue such things itself. Who was unnecessarily playing with mobile technology?
Bonkers used to do a fortnightly pictorial update on the progress made towards providing a new train service from Abbey Wood next December but by the end of 2017 with the major infrastructure completed the interval was stretched to a month. Just recently there has been very little new to see, hence waiting two months to see if anything significant happened. It didn’t.
The Felixstowe Road lifts have been just a couple of weeks away from commissioning from soon after the station opened on 22nd October 2017. And still they are closed.
The barriers around them are changed periodically, sometimes it’s plastic barriers, at other times it is yellow hinged metal screens and right now it is an ugly corrugated metal shroud as can be seen in Photo 1.
The lack of lifts is inconvenient for the many but all around there are major problems for the few.
Photo 2 attempts to show what one business has right on their doorstep. A deep trench crudely barricaded off within a couple of feet of their property’s closest wall. The proximity is not shown because of security concerns. One cannot safely show exactly where someone’s rear doors and windows are but be assured the picture is cropped right up to the brick wall.
The situation is not only dangerous but it prevents the property owners going about their normal and essential business.
I watched yesterday as they attempted to get help from Network Rail. None was forthcoming. Photo 2 was taken today.
161 new Crossrail pictures show that nothing very obvious has been achieved over the past couple of months. The Harrow Manorway approach has slowly progressed but the only other thing you will notice apart from the varying lift barriers is that the stair handrails have all been on, off and on again more than once. I can see it must be difficult to get all the angles right but with all the equipment Network Rail has you would think they might have made a better job of it.
Nothing too serious to begin with; probably we need some light relief.
Bexley Action Group
Four years ago Michael Barnbrook and his friends set out to defeat Councillor Craske at the 2014 election. They just failed thanks to the UKIP surge and Councillor Chris Taylor lost his seat instead. Serves him right for having a surname beginning with T instead of one at the top end of the alphabet.
Mick campaigned under the name Bexley Action Group with leaflets, brochures and website to match.
Today someone emailed to say that the name Bexley Action Group is copyrighted. A bit late in the day for such a claim is it not? What can I do about it four years later, especially as the message came via BiB’s anonymous Contact system?
Another anonymous email signed by J. merely said "LAWYERS MAKE MONEY BY RUNNING CASES THEY ARE NOT GENERALLY INTERESTED IN SETTLING THEM".
I suppose there could be some truth in that.
Yet another email demands that I “send a copy of the statutory regulations which the police claim you have breached and a copy of the Court summons”.
Well if only I knew! I haven’t a clue what regulations I may have breached but it is all academic anyway. How can I send anything to someone who has used the anonymous Contact facility? It is genuinely anonymous. No names, no return email address, no accessible data trail.
Someone who is not anonymous to me, he gives his name and address, but asks that he remains anonymous to you tells me he is in trouble with the law too.
Like me with the libel case he stuck absolutely to the truth in one short blog. He was accused of harassment and when he was eventually told what he had done it transpired that no one disputed his truthfulness, the problem was that the truth had “upset” just one person.
The police eventually abandoned the case against him but if he upset anyone again he would be charged. Surely they must have been bluffing.
And which Police Farce would this be? Why Kent of course.
I took myself along to last Thursday’s Resources Overview and Scrutiny meeting and it was definitely the place to go if you wanted to witness Bexley Council imposing massive inconvenience on its citizens. Outside the Civic Offices the scene was one of total gridlock around the two new roundabouts. I tried hard to get photos of the work going on but in the main the view was blocked by crawling and stationary traffic.
In the best traditions of Bexley’s road planning a pedestrian controlled traffic light had been placed at an exit from the roundabout causing it to be blocked from all directions. Andrew Bashford at his very best.
Inside the Chamber things were very different, three Conservative Councillors and a couple from Labour all very friendly and welcoming and Chairman Steven Hall did his usual efficient, if somewhat inflexible, job from the top table.
Steven is backed by two Vice-Chairmen on a generous and probably unnecessary £3,000 a year. They are Councillors Andy Dourmoush and Maxine Fothergill but on this occasion one was missing.
Councillor June Slaughter (Conservative, Sidcup) was first to speak and asked why it was that the Council went to the expense of reprinting Cabinet papers within the Scrutiny Agenda when they were easily available elsewhere.
I have commented before that it make things difficult for a member of the public who has dropped into just one Scrutiny meeting, the Agenda would become difficult to follow. However I have come around to the view that such a thing never happens and I am the only person who bothers to attend, in which case Councillor Slaughter probably has a valid point. However she was told that it is a statutory requirement. It’s only taxpayers’ money so who cares?
Councillor Louie French (Conservative, Falcon Wood & Welling) spent quite some time thanking finance officers for doing their job and putting Bexley into what he thought was one of the best positions in London, however he was concerned about a £400,000 overspend. Unfortunately he failed to reference the Agenda page number and I spent far too much time hunting down what he was talking about and thereby missed his point.
The finance officer explained that whatever it was was a one-off contingency transfer and did not seem too concerned about it. I suspect she is right, the finance officers usually are.
Councillor Danny Hackett (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) referred to the savings in Committee Services which will flow from the forthcoming reduction in Councillor numbers. How much comes from each? No one had the figures to hand but the total might reach £400,000.
Councillor Colin Tandy wanted to chip in that the ‘Financial Plans and Draft Budget’ was “an extremely good piece of work, an excellent piece of work, that shows that this Council is in control”. He did not have a question.
Councillor David Leaf (Conservative, Longlands) said something with which I can entirely agree. “Don’t talk down our economy” he said. He too thought Bexley was now in a very good place financially.
I was also right behind Councillor Leaf when he said we had a Mayor of London “who wants to whack the Council Tax up as high as possible following his mismanagement of resources. One again residents foot the bill for mistakes and poor financial practices”.
Councillor John Husband (Labour, Lesnes Abbey), quoting from some report or other on the UK’s financial future said the “possibility of a recession is high”. Various voices said that a different view could be found in different newspapers. Finance Cabinet Member Don Massey said that “journalist will talk about what they want” - as long as it is not about a libel case lost by a Bexley Councillor presumably.
Councillor Tandy (Conservative, St. Mary’s) wanted to comment too but the Chairman interrupted him. He tried again but was quickly slapped down, rather rudely I thought.
Moving on to Treasury Management, Councillor French returned to his previous theme, “applauding” officers for their decisions. He also had a question about interest rates following the Bank of England’s announcement earlier in the day. He was told that the Council borrows at about 3% and it has long term investments.
Like me Councillor Nick O’Hare (Conservative, Blendon & Penhill) wondered if that was good when interest rates might be rising. Bexley Council has never pursued any risky investments, he was told, Icelandic banks etc. and a finance officer said it was “not locked in” and had “flexibility“.
Neither he nor the Cabinet Member showed any concern. The consensus is that they steered the borough through difficult times in the past, they expect to do so in the future.
Councillor Leaf asked about “Capita resilience” following the company’s profits warning. Again no one was particularly concerned. A finance officer said Capita had “prompted us to make sure we are happy and look at them in detail and that is an ongoing process”.
Cabinet Member Massey said the Capita contract was due for renewal in 2019, “probably the timing is right for us”. He had heard stories about Capita “a couple of weeks before it hit the news”.
Outside the meeting Cabinet Member Massey has said that he “has no immediate concerns” and is “prepared to respond to any possible supplier failure”. What else could someone locked into a contract reasonably do?
Councillor Dourmoush (Conservative, Longlands) asked if contract penalty clauses were properly enforced. Things like jobs that are not finished on time.
The answer was long and rambling which raised suspicions and Councillor Dourmoush came back, asking his question more forcefully - and louder! He was concerned about taxpayers’ money. He then got some sort of assurance. The penalties are “applied rigorously”. Why couldn’t they have said that in the first place?
Councillor Deadman (Labour, North End) asked what many residents would want to ask, “who checks up on whether works are done properly or not?” He quoted examples of jobs that clearly had not been done properly.
After a long delay the Council officers said it wasn’t them, it must be someone else.
The meeting went on for another 20 minutes but that was the end of financial matters, the rest can wait for another time.
Bexley Council has been busy Tweeting pictures today of its regeneration
projects in Harrow Manorway.
As usual BiB has many more pictures of the developments being made in connection with the Crossrail project.
Click either image below to go to the appropriate Photo feature.
There are also Photo features in development of Peabody demolition projects in the same area.
The Harrow Inn. (In reverse chronological sequence.)
The Barge Pole. (In reverse chronological sequence.)
Bexley 853 reported yesterday on Greenwich transport issues and it’s worth a
read even if you are a Bexley resident. It seems that in Greenwich
representatives of Crossrail, Network Rail and Southeastern attended their
Council’s transport meeting which is in stark contrast to Bexley’s meeting where Network
Rail may show up once in a while but the others have absented themselves for
more than a year. Bexley’s meetings are approximately quarterly whereas in
Greenwich they are once a year.
Interest by the public is similar though, only one person showed up in Greenwich and it’s the same in Bexley.
The 853 report is of general interest because of its news of the Woolwich Ferry and its impending closure.
Affecting Bexley is the suggestion that Southeastern trains coming from Dartford would likely empty at Abbey Wood for Crossrail which means any capacity problem closer to London would disappear. We shall see.
The Crossrail rep. said that Abbey Wood will have a train every four minutes instead of five for its first six months of operation, if of course it opens on time. RAIL NEWS is suggesting it might not.
Meanwhile the Nuxley Navigator seems not to have started operation yet, at least that is what the young fellow who gave me this card on Wednesday said.
I suppose I am obliged to say a little of what happened at
my solicitor’s office yesterday.
After seeing the mess one made of John Kerlen’s case (a.k.a. Olly Cromwell) six years ago when a Bexley Councillor accused him of incitement to post dog excrement through his letter box and the police knew full well he had not, I thought I ought to get someone better than that.
The renowned libel lawyer Mark Lewis put me on to an expert and has volunteered to act as witness himself if necessary.
The ‘expert’ has lined up a top barrister who has knowledge of journalism and he seems to be rather more enthusiastic about having his two days in Court than I am.
Details have been taken of Bexley Council’s previous unsuccessful attempts to have me done for harassment and the obscenities that the police traced to Cabinet Member Peter Craske’s laptop and which they later confirmed to be on it - and a second set.
The surveyor who was libelled has also given my solicitor a whole load of documents and the transcript of an audio recording (which is safely locked away elsewhere).
It seems to me that these lawyers are showmen who relish the idea of being able to trash someone’s reputation in Court and ensure, using their contacts, that the press is there in force to listen.
That is not my priority; speaking as someone who has never so much as had a parking ticket I find it unnerving to be exchanging late night Twitter Direct Messages with top notch lawyers who I previously knew only from their radio interviews; some quite recent.
All I wanted my solicitor to do is persuade the CPS that they have no chance of securing a conviction bearing in mind what was going on out of sight while a few documented facts were posted on line. Maybe they will but they seem to be putting more effort into preparing for someone’s ritual humiliation. I suppose they have to assume a worst case scenario.
There was a time when I would have liked to see Cabinet Member Peter Craske in Court for what the police traced back to him, but now? And in this way? Used as background to a case that has nothing to do with him?
But that is the way things seem to be going and all because one Councillor could be satisfied only by total suppression of perfectly valid news items. Unlike the last time she was featured in BiB when I discovered that she may have been the victim of injustice and said so, this time I could find no redeeming features.
I really don’t see how it benefits anyone to allow these ruthless lawyer types to get their teeth into her. And what if it all comes out just before the May election? I can think of some people who might like that.
Oh, I forgot to say, the lawyer doesn’t think I am at all likely to be found guilty of criminal harassment, but what a rigmarole to go through to get there! And how many reputations will lie in tatters?
another Press Release from Bexley Council. It’s all change on Gravel Hill
and there are to be more night closures.
I do wonder if the roundabout design is right. I drove up Gravel Hill towards Erith Road a couple of nights ago and as I carefully stayed in lane at the Watling Street junction, another car, a large white SUV, also heading for Erith Road managed to overtake me on the roundabout. Must have saved him all of half a second.
Agenda for next week’s Places Scrutiny meeting reveals that Peabody has
purchased Thamesmead’s Barge Pole pub (I’ve never been in it) and the old
Thresher’s off-licence next door to the long demolished Harrow Inn (I never went
inside it) and both are to be fast-tracked to demolition.
Did I say fast tracked? I’ve not seen Peabody do anything fast since taking over from their Gallions predecessor.
While I was otherwise occupied the excellent fromthemurkydepths put out yet another of its reports complete with a photo borrowed from Bonkers. I will try to get a better one later today.
Bexley Council has revised its
Smoke Free Bexley Press Release. The difference would appear to be that there will be people out in the Broadway carrying out surveys.
If the feedback to me and the comments on the News Shopper's website are an accurate indicator I am the only Bexley resident who might welcome a ban on smoking and vaping in Bexleyheath’s Broadway. It’s an attack on freedom and the Council should have better things to do is a widespread opinion. I suppose there is some truth in that.
Nothing today, I am off to see a solicitor. Need to find out if writing a
favourable series of blogs which at the time satisfied the subject can retrospectively become harassment.
Also if saying that committing libel is a silly thing to do and that it is nasty to make a false allegation resulting in an eleven month arrest is sufficiently derogatory to deserve a possible six month prison sentence.
Kent Police think it could be.
Still not found the threat that is bundled into the Charge.
That’s it really. See you tomorrow.
The last time I spoke to Councillor Fothergill was just before I learned of
her spot of bother in the High Court. Our paths crossed in the foyer of the
Civic Offices and she stopped to apologise for snubbing me the last time we met
there. She explained that senior Tories were nearby and she could not risk
giving away any clue that we were, if not friends, at least on reasonably good
terms. I would suggest that is not the action of someone who believed I had been
for the previous 18 months.
For the record, she was right to be concerned. Councillors have been severely disciplined for speaking to me.
However I am not only accused of harassment for deflecting the Council’s guilty verdict on her activities while out canvassing in 2014 I am also accused of making a “large number of derogitory (sic) posts which contained threats to reveal personal information”.
My dictionary defines derogatory as deliberately offensive. Bearing in mind my previous ‘friendship’ (boozing in a bar) with Councillor Fothergill I found reporting on and explaining the loss of the libel case extremely difficult to write, hence not going further than posting the facts with supporting documentation that had been used against her in Court. I quite deliberately did not publish any photographs of Councillor Fothergill to reduce her discomfiture as far as possible.
My own search for words that might possibly be described as derogatory has turned up “silly” to describe distributing the libellous letter and that it was “nasty” to keep Hayley Warnes under arrest for eleven months when Councillor Fothergill must have known the allegations were false - the police and the Court both came to that conclusion.
I was sparing with the use of the word lying too even though that is what the story was all about.
If you have seen anything more than I have please let me know.
And what are these threats supposed to be? I really do not remember issuing a threat to anyone in the whole of my life.
On 19th November I emailed Councillor Fothergill to tell her that I had no intention to go any further with the reports on her Libel but she argued that was unsatisfactory; all news of her libel case must be suppressed altogether.
After Fothergill’s solicitor reopened the subject I blogged on 13th December that I would make another attempt to bring the matter to an end. “No more Maxine Fothergill info. With luck and good judgment it [any more info] will never see the light of day.” How can that be a threat to reveal more?
Not sure I have any additional info anyway, the only personal info I have is that Mr. Fothergill is Bob.
I cannot see any harassment with the Code of Conduct business and neither did Councillor Fothergill until recently; nor can I find any derogatory remarks or threats. Perhaps you can, by tomorrow if possible!
Not only is
a man on the South coast being considered for prosecution because
he accurately reported that a local community group was claiming to be a
registered charity when they weren’t but in Suffolk the police have been
knocking on the doors of two residents who had the temerity to criticise their local Hadleigh Town Council.
(Click image for the Telegraph’s report.)
That is pretty much identical to what happened to me in 2011. I was threatened in writing with arrest if I continued to criticise Bexley Councillors. Just what is this country coming to when the police can knock on doors for no lawful reason while ignoring a multitude of crimes they judge to be of no consequence?
The on-line Daily Mail carried the same story.
Former Town Councillor Tony Boxford, one of the two people said to have been threatened by the out of control Suffolk Police Force, said the officers had no idea why they were at his door.
I can tell him; it will be the same as happened in Bexley. Someone senior in the Council told the police what they had to do. The police probably knew they were on shaky ground but it would be more than their jobs are worth to admit the truth, so they plead ignorance when asked why they are doing it.
Mr. Boxford has said he will report the incident to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and so he should.
I did the same and they jumped on Bexley police pretty hard. Told them they must withdraw the threat and apologise. The threat was withdrawn but I have no recollection of receiving an apology.
It seems to me that the police must regard Harassment charges as easy
pickings. A blogger on the South Coast has been telling me how he is going
through a similar process as I am for revealing that a local organisation of
which he is a member was claiming to be a registered charity when it is not.
Speaking the truth has put the Committee under stress so he is right now waiting to see if the police will charge him.
My own Charge is that I have been harassing Councillor Fothergill ever since December 2015 and should have known better. That date is when she was found guilty by Bexley Council of abusing her position to obtain a financial advantage. They plastered the guilty verdict all over their website.
I have been putting a file together for my solicitor and explaining how the Charge can go back to 2015. It covers the following.
Naturally Bonkers looked into Bexley’s guilty verdict and things didn’t look good for the Councillor. The bare news, not that there was a lot of it, was accurately reported but Bexley Council refused to reveal what Councillor Fothergill was supposed to have done. When Bexley Council goes into lock down mode and refuses all FOI requests one has to smell a rat. I was not alone in poking around in dark places and eventually the alleged complainant was traced and along with it the alleged offence.
Every step was duly reported and eventually it became obvious that Bexley Council had not fully observed every aspect of the law, for example they had never received a written complaint, they wrote it themselves.
Towards the end of the investigation I went to meet Councillor Fothergill and her husband and she showed me and a fellow investigator some documents that filled in the gaps in my knowledge. She strongly believed that she had been stitched up by fellow Conservative Councillors and that is the way it looked to me too.
A series of blogs came to an end with one entitled Maxine Fothergill is Innocent OK?
For uncovering her innocence I am rewarded with an allegation of Harassment. I acknowledge that at the outset I assumed that Bexley Council’s version of events would be correct and that view was apparent to those who read the earliest blogs on the subject but gradually the tone changed. An attempt was made to retrospectively set the record straight by prefixing every blog with an explanatory message. The message was simplified over time but the basic message remained the same. i.e. that Councillor Fothergill suffered an injustice.
That situation was accepted by everyone for more than 15 months, then suddenly it is harassment.
I would argue that if it wasn’t for the Bonkers’ investigation the first and last word on the subject would have been the guilty verdict on Bexley Council’s website; instead Councillor Fothergill was proclaimed innocent and can point any doubters to that verdict.
Perhaps if Bonkers had done nothing everyone would have forgotten the guilty verdict by now but that is not really how news reporting works. The priority must always be uncovering the truth. In 2016 it showed that Councillor Fothergill had been wronged. She doesn’t appear to be very happy about clearing her name.
There have been several brief references on Bonkers to my dislike of smoking. My father created brown patches on the ceiling above his favourite armchair and was dead by 68.
It’s unhealthy and it stinks.
Having nailed my colours to the mast several times I can only applaud Bexley Council’s initiative for Broadway. They plan to ban smoking during shopping hours for six months. They seem to be doing an alarming number of things right recently.
The News Shopper has a report. The council has a survey for you to complete.
When the Labour government introduced its smoking ban in 2007 I thought that they got things entirely back to front. Smoke free restaurants and pubs with smoke free areas were already becoming quite common. With only 16% of the population being smokers (now down to 12·5% in Bexley) market forces would soon have done its job, but outside in the street you cannot get away from it. Slow down, cross the road, run to get in front of the smell are the only remedies.
A ban is well overdue, all shopping areas and parks next please.
Council Press Release
Over the past fifteen months, the period during which
Abbey Wood’s new station has taken real shape,
I have gradually come to dislike it and what it is doing to the area where I have
lived for 31 years.
Except when viewed from the flyover the station is ugly, I have heard the station staff refer to it as “the prison”, not a reflection on what it is like to work there but what it looks like from the north and the south.
The wooden cladding is a lot less stylish than was shown on the artists’ impressions and we have lost the wide open concourse; an anti-terrorist measure presumably, but it does nothing for the aesthetics.
In only nine month’s time, Balfour Beatty strikes permitting, we are going to have a train into the centre of London every five minutes which has to be good, at least when viewed in isolation. I may use it occasionally when I go to Wiltshire. I have become fed up with having to allow an hour and a half to get to Paddington and queue for a ticket.
The fact that the value of my house has increased by 50% over the past couple of years after stagnating for most of the millennium is good only because it will allow me to sell up and get out of Bexley. It will do nothing to help young people on to the housing ladder. I fail to see any more Crossrail positives that benefit long term residents.
Far from Crossrail being, according to both Councils, “a goldmine” for local businesses, it simply isn’t. Local shops which suffered dreadfully (around five closed down in Felixstowe Road) while Crossrail works were in progress are now suffering even more. Wilton Road has become a dead zone since commuters found more convenient routes out of the station. One shop has closed, two are for sale and a fourth may change hands, possibly taken over by a chain.
Traffic congestion can only become worse. There will be very little space for passengers to be dropped off and collected by car and the Felixstowe Road car park closed in 2013 is earmarked for alternative uses.
Bexley Council has twice announced at public meetings that it expects to quadruple the size of its Controlled Parking Zone in the year following the introduction of Crossrail services. I will have yellow lines in front of my house, which may not be an entirely bad thing for me, but then my drive is big enough to take four cars easily.
Waiting times near the station will be reduced from an hour to 30 or even 20 minutes according to Council informers.
There will be more buses on the narrowed flyover and the new 301 will run to Bexleyheath from 8th December. However it will not provide the fast and direct service which Abbey Wood has lacked for ever. It will double back on itself at the foot of Knee Hill and take a meandering route along Abbey Road, New Road and Woolwich Road wasting five minutes in the process. Almost needless to say, all Bexley Council’s fault.
The area will change beyond all recognition, inexpensive family homes swapped for flats marketed primarily in Hong Kong.
If you are one of those newcomers rushing into London every day Crossrail will undoubtedly be a good thing but established residents will see that and balance it against the negatives.
A few people lost their homes completely and some had their gardens cut down to about six feet. (Chantry Close.)
Loads had their gardens trimmed, lost their sheds and in some cases all their privacy. You cannot make an omelette without smashing a few eggs obviously and that may well be regarded as unfortunate but absolutely necessary but that isn't true for everything.
I attended every single one of the Crossrail Abbey Wood Liaison Panel meetings and my file of old Agendas, Minutes and Moving Ahead leaflets is more than two inches thick.
At the first of those meetings in December 2014 a lot of residents, all elderly ones it has to be said, but they are the only people who were taking an interest at the time, said that if Network Rail wasn’t careful they would disturb a lot of old water courses and cause the area to flood. “Oh no it wouldn’t” said Network Rail; Greenwich Council and the Environment Agency has said everything will be fine.
And who was right?
The old timers who had lived here all their lives of course.
The scene shown above has been pretty much a constant feature for dozens of residents over the past twelve months and more. Cellars flooded, mould up walls, bad smells and children confined indoors.
It wouldn’t be true to say that officialdom is not concerned about it at all, various remedies have been dreamed up and in some cases abandoned as ineffective or perhaps too expensive.
The most effective might be a huge underground pipe to feed into the station drainage system which is pretty extensive but to do that properly means moving the railway fence, rearranging a whole load of electrical cables and making room for a pipe next to the track. Not cheap!
Many of the residents are so desperate to see dry land again that they are willing to see their gardens dug up, their replacement sheds destroyed and a pipe installed beneath their own land, but who will pay to fix it when it silts up in 20 years time? Both Greenwich Council and Network Rail are saying “not us”.
So it’s a disgraceful impasse and dozens of householders along a 350 metre stretch of road are suffering intolerably while bureaucrats squabble and nothing tangible gets done.
A small number of people have enquired how Mick Barnbrook, who tags himself
Sleazebuster on Twitter, is getting on following his heart attack. It is good to
be able to report that no permanent damage has been done and he will be able to
continue with his life in much the same old way - but perhaps a little more slowly.
Another indication that all is well with Mick is that he has resumed his war on political wrong doing. He had a hand in bringing down nearly a score of MPs during the expenses scandal and his complaints were directly responsible for putting a couple in prison. More recently Mick was the principal complainer against his own MP, Craig Mackinlay, who may be in trouble over election expenses.
Mick was proud to have entertained the Channel 4 journalist Michael Crick at his home and given a short spot on his TV show. Mick also enjoyed opening his door to Craig Mackinlay when he was out canvassing.
Mick is definitely back to normal. This week he sent another letter to a senior police officer accusing a politician of some obscure offences against the Perjury Act. It is no sillier a hobby than political blogging.
The email referenced yesterday has been
dispatched to 17 recipients. They are all bloggers, journalists, their trade organisations and a couple of
politicians. All have offered good advice and helped spread the word about the
malicious allegation of harassment made against me. None of the recipients proved to be solely “loyal readers”.
It includes information about activities too sensitive to be widely broadcast and will remain confidential to the addressees.
If we have been exchanging correspondence on this subject and you believe you should should have received the email, but haven’t, please feel free to get in touch.
the police demanded that I went to Swanley police station
or be arrested I found myself in an interview room for the first time in my life. I was not
told in advance what I was supposed to have done and even though I guessed there was
no more than two or three hours to prepare.
After I emerged I began to wonder if I had said everything I should have, there were lots of things I only thought of later so I made a complaint.
An Inspector from Swanley’s Directorate of Professional Services phoned me on 12th January and said he would arrange a second interview and ensure that everything I said would be considered by their Legal Services people before I was hauled into Court.
On 30th January PC Brooks from Swanley emailed me to offer that second interview. Did I prefer Thursday or Friday she said. I said Friday please.
However 30th January was also the day that she signed the Charge Letter. I thought I had a promise to my story again and have it considered by Legal Services before Court date.
It’s best to never ever trust a police officer even when they put on an act of being reasonable human beings.
A solicitor who has been looking at the developing situation phoned me yesterday and advised me not to speak to any police officer again. In the circumstances there doesn’t seem to be a lot of point any more.
As you might imagine, there is quite a lot going on that cannot sensibly be reported here, however tomorrow I shall email everyone (mainly journalists, bloggers and politicians but also some loyal readers) who has offered practical support to update them on what is likely to happen next.
have clear memories of scrambling over East London bomb sites in the late 1940s,
quite how young boys survived some of the foolhardy antics, all unsupervised of
course, I am not quite sure. Looking back some of them still seem scary.
Yesterday a Tweet encouraged me to relive that experience. Take a look at the Olde Leather Bottle site it said, and what a dump it is.
Why does Bexley Council allow it?
Ever since the site of Bexley’s oldest pub was excavated and later demolished while the Planning Department was looking the other way Bexley Council has behaved shamefully.
When the Health & Safety Executive took an interest in the unsafe demolition practices Bexley Council refused their co-operation. I was invited to the H&SE Head Office for interview and to certify the dates of my photographs. I was not alone in being called there but there has been no evidence of a prosecution.
Locally there were stories of rather tenuous links between the developers and Bexley Council. Whether true or not the current situation is a pretty good indication of how little Bexley Council cares about the environment and the safety of its residents.
Their priorities right now are entirely concentrated on maintaining their vote in the Southern wards.
I have to prepare for my next interrogation at Swanley police station today thanks to a spiteful Bexley Councillor.