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Bonkers Blog May 2018

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30 May - Why let the facts get in the way of a good story?

Today BiB returns to an all too familiar theme, why do Bexley’s top Tories lie all the time? This website was created only because Bexley Council told me one big lie at a time I had no idea that was the norm. Since then Bonkers has been sustained by more and more lies. It would most probably die if things were otherwise.

Why some Councillors can be so stupid as to provide so much ammunition is a mystery.

One might understand them lying to cover criminal acts or when their negligence and mismanagement has contributed to the death of a resident (†) but as far as I know nothing like that has happened in very recent years yet still they go on lying,

They lie for political advantage and they lie just for the sake of it.

One of yesterday’s lies fell into that category.

It all began last Wednesday evening after I had been to the Full Council meeting, no scrap that, it began four whole years before in 2014.

Until then there had been seven Overview and Scrutiny Committees with each Chairman on £8,802 a year.

Then Council Leader Teresa O’Neill decided that Scrutiny Committees were a potential obstacle to her ambitions and cut their number to three. Four Councillors each lost £35,208 of income over four years. Not a popular move so the sop was that for the first time the Vice-Chairman would be paid too, but not only that, also for the very first time, two Vice-Chairmen were appointed. It didn’t make up for the whole loss but it was better than nothing.

Six Councillors took home £12,000 each that they would not otherwise have done.

The Labour Group objected to so many noses being pushed into the trough but to no avail. Two Vice-Chairmen was a total nonsense which former Councillor Maxine Fothergill proved to everyone by failing to show up at 75% of meetings with no adverse effects.

Last week Bexley Council said it would increase the number of Scrutiny Committees to four, obviously that would be one extra Chairman to be paid.

Using Twitter and less than an hour after the meeting ended I posed the question “So we now have an extra Chairman and two Vice-Chairmen? That will be another £15k into Councillors’ pockets will it not?”

When next day I was preparing the formal meeting report I noted that a table included within the Agenda referred to Overview and Scrutiny Committee Vice-Chairman (x4) which answered my Twitter question. My assumption that Bexley Conservatives would never adopt a Labour proposal and go back to one Vice-Chairman per Committee was wrong. At least in part; the Tories have accepted that there is no need to have two Vice-Chairmen but not yet that there is no need to pay them.

The over-hasty assumption was acknowledged on Twitter and more comprehensively on the blog which made things totally clear and favourably contrasted Conservative Bexley’ְְs 2% increase in allowances with Labour Tower Hamlet’s 70% increase.

To put the worst possible interpretation on what were only questions, I accused Bexley Tories of continuing to duplicate Vice-Chairmen. Buried in the small print and initially unnoticed was the news they had belatedly changed their minds and the mistake was acknowledged.

TwitterBexley Conservatives never did answer my question but instead dishonestly twisted it to their supposed advantage.

Apparently I am a Labour supporter which they know I am not who claims that the number of Vice-Chairmen has been increased.

In fact I only asked if they had been and although I acknowledge I was wrong to believe the numbers may have gone up there were acknowledgments of the error on both Twitter and this blog.

But the liars who run @bexleynews are not interested in the truth. (Councillors Craske and Read if the gossip can be believed.)

Rhys Lawrie who died unnoticed by Bexley Council in 2011. Barbara Baker who died alone in 2012 after Bexley Council imposed foolhardy staffing cuts.


29 May - Flooding Bexley with dishonest slogans

Please don’t laugh too loudly but I had a free ticket for the Oval today. I left the cricket ground when they flashed a weather radar picture up on the screen and took the tube to Tottenham Court Road where I hoped to buy some new shoes. The last pair, Clark’s, had literally broken into two parts after less than a month of occasional wear.

The weather radar underestimated the problem, a thunderstorm was raging over Oxford Street and I turned tail for home where a detour was necessary. The places where it has flooded for the past 30 years and more were well and truly flooded again, worse than shown in these photographs taken an hour later.
Floods Floods
But it could have been worse, further north Eastern Way is completely blocked and the diversionary route via Yarnton Way is flooded too.

None of Bexley Council’s failures were mentioned by Leader Teresa O’Neill in her Conservative Home article which praises her election victory.

SloganBexley Council’s election campaign was dishonest, the Leaders of Bexley Council are dishonest so it is only what one must expect.

In the Conservative Home article Teresa O’Neill claims credit for their main campaign catch phrase. It may be thoroughly dishonest, Bexley Labour’s leadership is a long way from being hard left but most people won’t know that.

Five of my north London relatives have been life-long Labour supporters but not any more. Since Jeremy Corbyn came on the scene they have all voted Conservative, one to the extent that he ‘picks fights’ with Labour canvassers challenging them over the perceived extremism and anti-Semitism.

As if that is not a trend that might swing elections to the right a couple of Lib Dem supporting relatives - to the extent they have been Council election candidates in the past - no longer vote Lib Dem because of what they see as that party’s totally dishonest reaction to Brexit. Presumably some erstwhile supporters still recognise what the abbreviation Dem stands for.

CreepIn such an environment Bexley Conservatives were pushing at a half opened door. There was probably no need to lie about the ‘Hard Left’ or to allege that Labour “trades in fears and lies” and “votes against improvements”. I didn’t see a single lie in Labour’s election campaign and whilst the Tories’ Manifesto was not unreasonable by their standards their Social Media campaign was close to being 100% lie.

But the lying paid off.


28 May (Part 2) - Her obedient servant

Whatever happened to that pre-election petition to restore CCTV monitoring in Bexley? It showed every sign of being an important Labour versus Conservative election issue, vote one way and make the borough safer, vote the other way and see Bexley’s steadily worsening crime statistics continue their current trend.

On 3rd May Bexley’s voters fell for the lie about Labour locally being “hard left” and the Conservatives dishonest claim that thay have managed a low tax borough when it is fairly close to being the highest taxing borough in the whole of London. Perhaps because of that Bexley voted for more unsolved crime.

But what of that petition? Unfortunately Bexley Council fell back upon their tried and tested version of democracy. They threw it out unread.

FoxBexley employs a man whose job it is to shield his bosses from scrutiny. His name is Kevin Fox.

Long ago when BiB was assisted by five helpers it was possible to keep more pressure on Bexley Council than now through the medium of both public questions and petitions. It was Kevin Fox who was charged with concocting reasons to reject the questions and his name appeared in these pages regularly.

The excuses were not particularly clever, if a question had to be submitted a week before a meeting, and it was, he would say he had gone home without seeing it and by the time he looked the deadline was passed. Sometimes he would stall by asking silly questions, like asking someone he knew very well to confirm his name or agree that the then rules allowed photographs to be taken at meetings but refusing permission nevertheless.

A petition which quoted from Bexley Council’s website was rejected because Kevin Fox claimed that the figures quoted were wrong. If they were so was Bexley’s website because the figures on both were identical.

The CCTV petition suffered a similar fate at the hands of the same Kevin Fox. He ruled that some residents who gave their address as Sidcup or Bexleyheath were not valid signatories because they had not added their post code. I was not aware that any part of Bexleyheath or Sidcup fell outside the borough boundary.

So now the petition has to be run again and to get it before July’s Council meeting it will have to pass the 2,000 signature threshold by 2nd July.

Get your skates on.


28 May (Part 1) - Avoid Sainsbury’s - or wear a huge Sombrero

Sainsbury's spycam Sainsbury's spycamBe careful when using Sainsbury’s Abbey Wood and no doubt other branches too.

They have installed high level video screens over their self service tills, so high that you might not notice them. They are recording everything you buy and how you choose to pay. If you don’t shield your PIN number that may be recorded too and everybody standing behind you can see what is going on.

Probably it would be advisable for ladies to ensure they are wearing something with a high neckline.

It is underhand and sneaky. Apart from the notice on the screen placed well above your sightline, there is nothing to warn customers what is going on.

I used the regular till which I generally never do. Maybe I will take an umbrella with me next time,


27 May - Councillor numbers down 29%. Total Special Allowances up

Updating the list of Councillors jobs and what they are paid is not my favourite occupation because Bexley Council does not publish a simple list that can be copied, it is necessary to dodge around between more than one document to get all the required information. As cutting and pasting a load of code from last year is the only practical way forward the danger is that I will leave a bit of 2017 in the 2018 list and someone will be credited with a job they no longer have.

A lot of checking is required especially when I see things like the 2018 payment to the Chairman of the Licensing Committee is £2,991 and my 2018 list recorded £8,802. I feared a mistake but the higher figure is confirmed in the Council’s May 2017 Agenda. What is going on there?

Payment for the General Purposes Chairman which was £1,000 last year has been effectively abolished as that role is now combined with Audit the pay for which has not gone up, except for the 2% across the board increase.

But looks can be deceptive, there's an additional payment to Labour Members and my calculations say Special Allowances have gone up from £217,480 to £222,579. Anyone care to check the 2017 and 2018 tables shown below?

A few other things stood out like a sore thumb. What has Councillor Cheryl Bacon done to upset her boss? Last year she had both a Chairman and a Vice-Chairman’s job but now she has nothing. Did her husband mount a leadership challenge perhaps?

Newcomers Richard Diment and Adam Wildman picked up two Vice-Chairmanships and a Chairman between them; no experience whatsoever but already favourites with the top brass.

The other two newcomers, Howard Jackson and Sue Gower MBE get nothing.

The obvious assumption is that the first two were happy to play the Leader’s game of sham questions and the other two weren’t.

Special Allowances 2017.


Special Allowances 2018.

Note: Only one allowance may be paid to any one Councillor.


26 May (Part 2) - Who’s for a pay rise? “We are”

The second part of last Wednesday’s Council meeting was for the most part agreeing the make up of new Committees and allocation of jobs for the boys and the girls. Routine and quickly dealt with it may have been, but far from unimportant.

Following the behind the scenes squabbling over who should be Leader of the Council, the Conservatives showed a united public front by unanimously voting for Teresa O’Neill again. Proposed and seconded by the newly appointed Jackasses in the Box, Councillors Camsey and Clark who had been bobbing up and down all evening backing everything they were commanded to do.

The Labour Group chose Councillor Daniel Francis (Belvedere) to be their Leader again.

Teresa O’Neill voting for herself

The Mayor then announced that she had chosen her Cabinet and their names were set out in the Agenda, thereby proving, if proof was needed, that the public vote was a sham.

Camsey MayorThe next sham was to determine the size of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees. That too had been decided in advance as all the details were printed in the Agenda. The Jackasses duly proposed and seconded an increase.

Until 2014 there were seven Scrutiny Committees but for the last four years there have been only three. Now that the number of Councillors has been reduced by more than a quarter there are to be four Scrutiny Committees.

Buried in the small print is the fact that there is to be only one Vice-Chairman per Committee instead of the rather ridiculous two so the overall pay increases are not excessive. Instead of three Chairman on £8,000 a year and six Vice-Chairman on £3,000 a year each (£42,000) there will be four of each. (Four x £8,000 and four x £3,000. £44,000) †. I am indebted to Councillor Andy Dourmoush (Conservative, Longlands) for correcting my initial assumption based on continuing with two Vice-Chairmen per Committee. His intervention is most welcome.

Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, Slade Green & Northend) complained that the Conservatives had increased from 25% to 50% the proportion of Committee Members required to call in decisions before Scrutiny Committees which tended to reduce their ability to question things. He wanted to see the number put back to 25%. In Conservative Bromley any five Councillors are enough and in Labour Greenwich any two Committee members. “Why are Bexley Conservatives scared of decisions being scrutinised?” Come on Stef, you know the answer to that, it is because Bexley is a malign one woman dictatorship.

As forecast would happen if the Tories were given too big a majority, Leader O’Neill said that with more than 75% of Councillors being Conservative she had been given a mandate to do what she likes.

Needless to say, Councillor Borella’s suggestion was thrown out. The Tories in Bexley have never liked scrutiny whatever form it takes.

The Labour Group asked that they should be represented on some of the outside bodies which require Councillor participation. Another lead balloon.

The two Jackasses then bobbed up in turn to propose and second the new Councillor allowance scheme. At no time did anyone mention what they were so webcast viewers will not know.

They had decided to pump up their allowances by 2%, the same increase awarded to rank and file Council employees and that in future years Councillors will get increases on the same basis. This was something that the Conservatives kept very quiet about during the election period but after an eight year freeze it is not unexpected and on a very different scale to what the Labour Councillors in Tower Hamlets awarded themselves the moment they got back into the Council Chamber. A nice fat 70%.

Every Councillor both Labour and Conservative enthusiastically voted for their pay rise.

The final item up for a vote was to appoint Council Officer Nick Hollier as temporary Monitoring Officer. After Mr. Akin Alabi disappeared from view once it was discovered that he was neither a solicitor nor a barrister, Ms. Terry Osborne came on to the scene but she too has done a runner.

Mr. Hollier once told me that I was “abusive and offensive” for including the word liar just once in a written complaint after Bexley Council had published lies about me. I do not believe Mr. Hollier is a particularly unreasonable individual but he has shown how eager he is to follow instructions from above.

There are many changes to be made on the Bonkers Councillor pages. A job for tomorrow.

† Both pre-increase figures.


26 May (Part 1) - Blood on their hands?

Bashford CraskeDrivers doing sixty miles an hour or more along Abbey Road, Belvedere are the ones ultimately responsible for the frequent crashes to be seen there. There have been three walls lost in the past twelve months the latest at about 11:30 last night. However some blame must be placed at the door of Bexley Council.

In their enthusiasm for cycle tracks Bexley Council made a long straight section of road much narrower and ignored all the expert advice that it could only lead to more accidents. Instead they attempted to lie their way out of trouble.

Bexley’s road engineer Andrew Bashford falsely told me by email that he had redesigned the road wholly in accordance with Transport Research Laboratory recommendations. This is what he said…

“For your information, the Department for Transport’s recent document ‘Manual for Streets’ details that ‘Achieving appropriate traffic speeds’ can, in part, be carried out through ‘Psychology and perception’. Under this heading, it suggests a number of features that are likely to be effective, which include ‘reduced carriageway width’, ‘Pedestrian Refuges’, ‘edge markings that visually narrow the road’, and “on-street parking”; this coming from research by the T.R.L. (Report no 641 ‘Psychological’ traffic calming). The Manual also goes on to present the relationship between Average Speed, Forward Visibility, and Road Width. It can be seen that, if the forward visibility remains the same, Average Speeds have a direct relationship with Road Width; more detail information is in T.R.L. report 661.”

Presumably the plan was to blind me with science, those reports cost at the time nearly £200 each to buy. But I didn’t need to buy them. I invited their author down for a weekend to look at Bashford’s handiwork. My son was the Senior Safety Consultant at TRL and Chair of the European Union’s Committee on the subject.

His verdict, after I took him to look at Sidcup too, was whoever came up with the designs was incompetent or malicious but most likely both.

Another of Andrew Bashford’s emails confirmed that Abbey Road did not have a serious accident record, my son said the new layout was a recipe for collisions, and so it has proved.

Cabinet Member Craske failed to consult residents living close to the road and dismissed every single one of the objections made by those who stumbled across his plans. The self-appointed traffic expert knew better than the Chairman of a relevant EU Committee.

Abbey Road PAbbey Road Abbey Road Abbey Road

Abbey Road Abbey RoadAnother household has lost the garden they had carefully nurtured for more than 30 years. The lady is heartbroken and her gazebo lies flat on the floor as did her immediate neighbour’s just over a year ago. All because Bexley Council lied and would not listen to reason nine years ago.

Incompetence and lying to residents is presumably a much valued skill at Bexley Council. When Andrew Bashford emailed me several times in 2009 he signed himself Team Leader Traffic Projects. He is now Head of Highway Services.

The car pictured here is believed to be only consequential damage unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The driver responsible, according to affected residents, was in a stolen car.

And another! (10th July 2017.)


24 May (Part 2) - Of Mayors and Bishops

The first Full Council meeting of the municipal year always sees the tribal back stabbing replaced by back slapping as praise is heaped upon the outgoing Mayor and the wonder that is the new one is hailed. When the meeting is the first after a successful Conservative election campaign the meeting becomes even more of a show piece.

All the recently retired and defeated Conservative Councillors were there to soak up the party atmosphere and not a little of the booze on offer at the end - with one exception of course. Maxine Fothergill was nowhere to be seen.

Two Councillors and Sir David Evennett MP were especially friendly towards me but not to the point of being invited to join them at the bar.
Jackson Mayor Bishop Chief Executive As already reported the Conservatives had chosen Councillor Brian Bishop to be Mayor and he was formally proposed by Councillor Eileen Pallen (Conservative, Bexleyheath). New Councillor Howard Jackson (Conservative, Barnehurst) seconded with a suitably creepy speech.

Councillor Brenda Langstead’s proposal (seconded by Councillor Daniel Francis) that Stefano Borella be Mayor inevitably got nowhere at all. Councillor Bishop was duly elected Mayor.

There was then a 22 minute interval while Mayor Bishop was sewn into his red regalia during which time I took the opportunity to speak to the two sound engineers who were monitoring what had been the Chamber’s appalling sound system.

It had always been poor since it was installed in 2014 but at the last meeting it embarrassed even the Chief Executive and she promised to have something done about it. Last night there was a vast improvement and I asked the audio men how it was achieved.

Audio DaveyBasically the whole of the old wireless based system had been thrown out and replaced by new microphones and a network of cables taped to the floor. The contractor was hoping that the improvements would be sufficient to persuade Bexley Council to buy such a system and have it properly installed.

They should do that, the cabled system was a huge improvement on one which was at the mercy of every stray radio signal that permeated the Civic Centre walls.

After Mayor Bishop returned and signed his statutory declaration to abide by the Code of Conduct his wife Councillor Christine Bishop was unsurprisingly chosen to be his Mayoress. A little more surprising is that Councillor John Davey and his wife Marilyn were appointed deputies.

Retiring Mayor ReaderCouncillor Philip Read (Conservative, West Heath) who had proposed retiring Mayor Peter Reader a year ago with some slightly risqué stories stood to thank him for his year of service. He admitted that some of what he said back then was not entirely truthful but “embellished” for effect. Councillor Read said that Mayor Reader had been outstanding and compared to many he has been, as Full Council Meeting Chairman anyway, which is all I observed. Generally fair and always civil and friendly. His charitable endeavours had raised more than £25,000 for Parkinson’s support in Bexley.

Probably the best Bexley Mayor of recent times.

Labour Leader Daniel Francis similarly heaped praise on Mayor Peter Reader but could not resist retelling how, when opening the new Lidl store in Bexleyheath, he twice referred to opening Aldi in his speech.

Retiring Mayor Peter Reader gave his thanks not least to his wife who had supported him through every one of his many Mayoral engagements.

And then it was time for normal business which included the approval of a pay rise for Councillors.

To be continued…


24 May (Part 1) - Crossrail train departs from Abbey Wood station

See the view from a Crossrail train leaving Abbey Wood station.


23 May (Part 2) - More bad news for Abbey Wood

Harrow ManorwayAbbey Wood residents should be used to it by now, pretty much constant traffic congestion and Harrow Manorway blocked as far back as the Knee Hill roundabout - and often beyond. Bexley Council is planning a solution. Close Harrow Manorway completely.

My guess is that things will not be nearly as bad as today’s Public Notice might imply.

Probably Bexley Council has put its own convenience above that of anyone else and will shut the flyover for resurfacing as and when they need to but not all the time.

Five bus routes use the flyover and as there is no nearby alternative railway crossing point it seems likely that there will be no 229 or 469 running between Knee Hill and Picardy Manorway or 180 along McLeod Road.

A small compensation may be that a diverted B11 would have to use Gilbert Road, Lower Road and Abbey Road to get back to New Road and the 244 would probably have to use McLeod Road to get to its Knee Hill terminus.

All guessing on my part but if the closures are notified only by short duration road closure signs placed on the flyover as and when required, how will a bus passenger waiting on Lower Road know that his bus has suffered a short notice diversion and will never arrive?

Bexley Council’s notice allows for such a chaotic scenario but their priority will be getting the work on the flyover completed, widespread inconvenience to residents will matter not one jot.


23 May (Part 1) - The tiniest car park?

Car parkAbbey Wood’s station car park will be a shadow of its former self, maybe the story that it will be ‘staff only’ is true, there will barely be enough custom to justify an automated pay system or the staff to monitor a ticket display.

How will anyone be able to turn around or will one have to reverse out?

Yet another local facility sacrificed to Crossrail, the Felixstowe Road car park won’t come back either.

What am I bid for my front drive? If you are able to find a space at the station the price will be extortionate.


22 May - Bexley Council reconvenes at last

In a day or two there may be a chance to get BiB back on the road because there will be a Council meeting tomorrow, the first with only 45 Councillors, 37 old faces and eight new.

Two have already nailed their colours to Teresa’s mast, fully signed up voting fodder and unlikely to bring any other talents to the table but I have high hopes for two of the ladies.

At first sight the smaller talent pool has diminished the new Cabinet.

During the recent dead period there was not even any significant input from readers. Someone who has just moved into the borough was shocked to discover that Bexley Council is sufficiently small minded to ban library users from accessing this website. The facilities for learning do not include extending knowledge of Council activities. Since Bonkers can only report what our Council gets up to it can only mean that they are ashamed of at least part of what they do.

Library access has been banned since April 2011.

Another reader has long been concerned about the alleged closure of Highland Road which would turn the whole of Bexleyheath town centre into a huge and inconvenient roundabout.

His recent correspondence with Bellway Homes which plans (17/02745/FULM) to build on the old Civic Centre site in Broadway told him only a few days ago that they no longer plan to have Highland Road closed and sure enough their latest planning submission (15th May 2018) confirms it.

Bellway Homes

Scroll or click to see the whole of the map.

This is a cunning move by Bellway as any closure of the road can now be laid firmly at the Council’s door.

My own efforts to provide input to keep the blog alive all failed. Having watched Thameslink trains go by while working in my front garden I went out to catch one but my luck was not in.
Thameslink Thameslink
The other idea to picture the deteriorating parking situation around Abbey Wood station also suffered from Murphy’s Law.

The drivers who stop on the flyover and hold up the traffic rather than have their passenger climb the stairs from Wilton Road were all missed in part because experience has shown that they don’t like being photographed. Maybe the van driver making a delivery to WH Smith has a legitimate excuse until the low level goods delivery ramp is completed.
But others are simply thoughtless.

All day parking in Gayton Road has become the norm since people realised that the yellow line has disappeared but thoughtlessness can create havoc.

Parking Parking Parking Parking


20 May - The new train timetable. Not a good start

Thameslink ThameslinkIt was rubbish at Abbey Wood!

I thought I might take the scenic route to East Ham today, the new slower than you have ever seen before (†) Thameslink to Blackfriars  and then the District LIne. I was at Abbey Wood station at 8 a.m. planning to photograph the arrivals screen but no Thameslink trains were shown, neither was there any cancellation announcement.

At 1 p.m. I was there again to begin my trip. The same; nothing whatsoever on any display board. I asked the ticket man if he knew anything and he shrugged in a ‘what do you expect’ sort of way and said there had been no official word on the situation.

I descended to the platform to find a 25 minute wait for the next London bound train. Gone are the days when trains were so frequent that there was no need to check the timetable. Today’s experience suggested the ‘service improvement’ provides for two trains every half hour with service intervals of five and twenty five minutes. You don’t have to be stupid to work in Southeastern’s offices but it will help your promotion prospects if you are.

Then the penny partially dropped, no trains were going beyond Slade Green. Was there some planned engineering work going on? Surely not; what sort of idiot would announce a new train service for 20th May knowing it cannot run?

However the web provides evidence that there are indeed such idiots in abundance…

No trains
While in East Ham I noted that Twitter was reporting Thameslink trains through Charlton but when I returned to Woolwich Arsenal there was a 35 minute wait for a train. One was cancelled, There was another due to terminate at Plumstead which is not timetabled. It was then that the penny fell all the way down. Thameslink services were only running as far as Plumstead. Haven’t they got reversal facilities at Slade Green?

Things are not much better on weekdays. A neighbour asked my advice on travelling to King’s Cross early tomorrow morning and I suggested Thameslink. But forget it; there is only an hourly peak period service and it is horribly slow.

In East Ham the latest issue of the fortnightly Pravda had been distributed. It used to be noteworthy for the number of times former Mayor Robin Wales could get his mug shot into its pages. I sometimes counted as many as nine but new Momentum backed Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz is aiming far higher; she is pictured prominently 15 times in its first eight pages.

† London Bridge to Abbey Wood by Thameslink, 28 minutes. 30 years ago by British Rail. Fastest service 19 minutes. Slowest, 24 minutes.


19 May - Die like real men

Crash Crash CrashOn what was very nearly the first anniversary of the last serious road accident in Maidstone Road there has been another; which makes four in fewer than two years, one of which was fatal.

The road is wide and straight immediately after the congestion that Bexley Council created at the ill-considered Ruxley Roundabout, an open invitation for the heavy footed to cast caution to the winds. Maidstone Road Maidstone Road
Pictures by John Watson. The title comes from the slogan on the crashed car.


15 May - A break but not much of a holiday

Apart from the dishing out of lucrative jobs to the favoured boys and girls there will be nothing much going on in Bexley Council until the first Full Council meeting in a week’s time, hence nothing worth reporting here.

As a few of you have guessed I have been busy with other things, mainly the elderly aunt who has returned to her home in East Ham but who for now at least requires daily visits. There has also been a repair job to be done after my front garden wall was knocked down as a direct result of poor road design and rather worse parking.

It is a long time since I have mentioned East Ham, as a borough the Socialist Republic of Newham has little going for it apart from the lowest Council Tax in Outer London and free residents’ parking permits. Every time I go there I am reminded of President Donald Trump’s description of Haiti, El Salvador and parts of Africa.

My aunt gets free visitor’s parking permits because she is not a car owner and she keeps them in a pile near her front door.

When she had people staying with her for a few days recently they took a ticket from the pile and carefully read the Ts & Cs. Next day another permit was taken from the pile. Unfortunately no one noticed that Newham Council had changed the conditions between one batch of tickets and the next (nothing about it in their covering letter) which resulted in a £130 fine.

The same number of tickets would have been used whether they were free 24 hour tickets or free All Day ones.


Probably it will be possible to take some sort of financial revenge on Newham Council via their appalling Social Services.

In spare moments more changes have been made to the website, literally thousands of them, most unseen but not all. Those who use small screens, mobile phones and tablets will now be seeing things differently to those who use traditional desktop PC screens.


11 May - UKIP Bexley - You’llֺ be missed

McGannon SmithIt was inevitable given the situation nationally that Bexley’s three UKIP Councillors were not going to be elected a week ago and outnumbered 20:1 they found it difficult to make the sort of political impression over the past four years that would grab the headlines, but not for want of trying. When they suggested that Councillors’ allowances should be reduced the Tories jumped on the idea from a great height.

They also suggested that the Council should sell the Bexleyheath Shopping Centre instead of parks; that went down like a lead balloon too.

Given Bexley Tories’ determination to dominate local politics no one else is allowed to take credit for anything but outside of the Council Chamber it can be a different story.

Here is a comment from an appreciative resident…

Looking at the election results I see that Lyn Smith and Mac (Colin) McGannon both lost their seats as UKIP Councillors. Really sad because they were the only Councillors who showed any concern about the neglect of services in our road and they took the trouble to visit us to discuss our concerns even though they were NOT our ward councillors. I’d describe them as being good, honest, old fashioned Councillors who actually cared about residents rather than indulge in political play acting.

I noted with interest and a certain amount of pleasure that Philip Read got the lowest number of votes of the three Conservatives in West Heath ward. Just a crumb of comfort.


10 May (Part 2) - If at first you don’t succeed

PavingJust when you thought it was safe to drive along Albion Road after the months of chaos inflicted on everyone while roads were narrowed and tiny roundabouts installed, it is back to chaos again.

Next Monday the road around the Townley Road roundabout will be ripped up and replaced - properly this time one must hope. The work is likely to take four nights.

On the 17th May the road around the Highland Road roundabout will be torn out and replaced over a similar period.

Click for more detail.

Conway’s workmanship might well be questionable but where is Andrew Bashford when the work is going on? Not on site with his quality control team it would seem.

The problem on Abbey Wood’s Harrow Manorway flyover (pictured) is minor by comparison, the work looks doesn’t look at all bad but presumably the recent high temperatures have played havoc with an expansion joint.


10 May (Part 1) - Changes

New website - Screen width
It has been suggested that the unlimited page width makes reading difficult on text intensive pages when the browser window is maximised on a fullHD (1920 x 1080 pixels) screen.

At 6 a.m. this morning every file was changed such that screen text width is restricted to 1280 pixels; a figure plucked from the air, feel free to suggest a different one.

It is not practical to restrict the banner area which will continue to fill the screen.

On an UltraHD screen (3840 x 2160 pixels) text will continue to occupy the whole of the window whatever width it is dragged to.

There is still work to be done, like centring affected pages (†) and ensuring that photo only pages will always be shown at full width. Screen display will be disrupted while work goes on.

† The changes had unexpected far reaching consequences which proved difficult to fix. Every blog is affected and they will need individual attention. This month’s blogs have been adjusted. Older ones are not correctly dealing with blog titles and indented text and pictures. Only desktop mode defines as screen widths from 1025 to 1920 pixels are affected.


9 May (Part 2) - What a creep!

David Evenett: “Will my Right Honourable Friend welcome the re-election of Bexley’s Conservative council, congratulate it on its good record locally, and look forward to its continuing to implement efficient and effective Conservative policies?”

The Prime Minister: “I am very, very pleased to welcome the re-election of Bexley’s Conservative council. I was pleased to speak to the leader of Bexley council shortly before the elections last week, and I am very pleased that the residents of Bexley will enjoy yet more years with a good Conservative council, delivering great local services at lower cost.”

A pity she doesn’t deliver May’s promised “lower cost”.


9 May (Part 1) - Vandals rule - both trains and Council

GrafittiI expect you felt the same as I did when you saw the vandalised Crossrail train sitting just outside of Abbey Wood station and I did wonder if I should give the b**tards the publicity, but it is news and another insight into what the dregs of society get up to in their spare time.

However not everyone felt the same shame on behalf of the community as you and I did, just look at what people were saying on Abbey Wood based Facebook pages.

Some of them were critical of me on Twitter for highlighting the fact that there are too many low-lifes there. They thought the desecration would have been done by people outside of the area. Possible I suppose, but not all that likely.


New Council appointments
There is not much going on at Bexley Council and there won’t be until their first meeting on 23rd May.

Many people will be disappointed to see Teresa O’Neill remain as Leader and may well be surprised to see Councillor Louis French appointed Deputy. Whether he will be tough enough for that position remains to be seen. The obnoxious O’Neill made former Councillor Rob Leitch’s position untenable because he did not share all of her views. Rob wisely left to devote all his time to being a successful Assistant Headmaster - and a less successful football team.

Councillor David Leaf is taking over Massey's old role, Resources, which should provide a lot of fun.

Councillor Craske’s role will be expanded to include traffic. Last time he took that on he trebled the cost of residents’ parking permits.

Councillor Alex Sawyer will take a new role called Communities, but it will not include Community Safety, that remains part of Craske’s portfolio.

Where has Councillor Linda Bailey gone? She was not the greatest performer in the Council Chamber but her team successfully brought in a lot of investment.

And it’s Councillor Brian Bishop for Mayor apparently. I can’t quite see him as Chairman material but let’s hope he proves me wrong.

New website
There have been several complaints that the ‘Bexley Council is Bonkers’ text that overlays the banner is far too large and overlays the menu too. That is because the new Bonkers logo is wider than the old one and instructed to go full width. The old logo was only about a third the width but has been cached by your browser. It presents the old logo to the new instructions which are to go full width and in doing so, being smaller originally, it grows deeper too. On some browsers a Refresh will fix the problem but Chrome and Safari will need a bigger kick in the pants. Clear History probably.

Perhaps I should have changed the file name, the Twitter etc. icons were moved to a new folder which is much the same thing and they did not give the same problem.

Other comments are that the pages are too wide on desktop full HD screens. I always adjust the browser width but maybe I forgot some people have windows at full width all the time.

Personally I like the wider look but a compromise is possible. Text pages (blogs etc.) can be width restricted but Photo features (like Crossrail) won’t be.

There is plenty of scope for adjusting text sizes before the next Council meeting. I think some is too big on mobiles, everything uses desktop size at the moment.


8 May - Welcome to Abbey Wood

It wasn’t done while travelling through the tunnels was it?


7 May (Part 2) - No gas

Whilst fixing innumerable imperfections in the new look blog but failing to discover where the sub-menu arrows have gone I was vaguely aware of some sort of disaster affecting the gas network in Sidcup. Fortunately a BiB reader has filled me in on some of the detail without me needing to do my own research.

BrokenshireIn parts of Bexley and Sidcup we have had no gas for two days now. Around 2,000 homes are affected. Apparently a Thames Water pipe burst late evening in the evening Thames water’s response was slow.

By next morning, presumably under the pressure of water, a SGN gas pipe fractured and gallons of water entered the gas network with customers having water coming out of their gas pipes.

SGN engineers from across the country have been sent in to sort the problem out. The response from SGN has been good and by the second day customers have been supplied with electric cooking rings to help if required.

A lot of homes have been empty due to the holiday and their gas taps could not be turned off for safety checks so this has made the outage time even longer.

Bexley Council has made the showers at Crook Log Sports Centre available.

Good thinking by Bexley Council, sounds like nightmare for anyone without an immersion heater and reliant on gas for cooking.

SGN on Twitter - Their website


7 May (Part 1) - Site migration - All done

After all that site migration planning I did it a different way, more preparation but the disruption for blog viewers (and most of the other pages) lasted only seconds. Or it would have done except that my test site was four days behind the live blogs and due to a quirk in my editing software the latest blogs dodged the update procedure. The fix was easy but it took 20 minutes of head scratching to work out what the problem was.

Desktop users may notice that the background color changes as the window width is dragged, this is part of my test procedure. The new site allows four different appearances geared to different sized screens and the different colours proves to me that the appropriate set of instructions are being picked up. At the moment, apart from the background colours, they are all the same. It could for example provide a more compact menu for use on mobiles. Right now everything is just a scaled down desktop menu.

This morning sees the first double resolution image on the new Crossrail photo page. Crossrail and similar pictures used to be limited to one width and twelve defined heights. There are now no restrictions.

My Android phone with Chrome browser needed its History cleared to get rid of some problems; so did the Windows version.


6 May - Out with the old, in with the new

I’m afraid there is not much going on and who wants to read a blog on such a sunny bank holiday weekend anyway?

OrpingtonIn two week’s time west bound North Kent line trains will use three different terminal stations, something that they have not done for nearly thirty years when the Victoria services disappeared. There was, believe it or not, a time when train operating companies knew what those funny things called points were for.

This weekend Southeastern had a surprise in store for train enthusiasts. A direct train service through Abbey Wood, Slade Green, Crayford and on to Orpington. If that was a regular service I might use it quite often. Driving there is not a lot of fun. Is any route now that council road planners have had their way?

Another batch of Abbey Wood Crossrail pictures has been released today. There is not a lot very obviously going on. More signage, lighting on the stairs and construction of the new station car park. So small one wonders what use it will be.

Across the road on the flyover Bexley Council is still pressing on with new footways and before long the bus and cycle shelters with planned completion just in time for the first Elizabeth Line trains.

Crossrail was not as generous with money as had been expected which will impact the final design. Gone are the fancy bespoke bus shelters and the probability is that something from TfL’s catalogue of bog-standard bus shelters will have to do; well as long as it keeps the wind and rain away.

The old bus shelter is still on course to be a two level bike shed.

Lesnes CCTV CCTV NoticeLesnes Abbey was looking particularly splendid yesterday. Abbey Good Coffee was proving popular but there weren’t very many people around the rest of the park.

The family group that had erected a small tent in the Monk’s Garden would probably incur the wrath of some Council jobsworth.

The Lodge has a couple of CCTV recordings signs on it. You would think that Bexley Council would know the rules on businesses and the like using CCTV. It’s easy enough to look up on the Information Commissioner’s website.

Where are Bexley Council’s name and contact details?

Legally compliant CCTV warning notice shown. Click link to buy one.

CCTV warning
This will be the last day on which you will see Bonkers in its current format, tomorrow the new design will go live. The two are not very different in appearance, the design goal was to make it infinitely scalable to make life easier for mobile phone users not to change it beyond all recognition. It seems to be OK on my small mobile phone and on dual Ultra HD screens.

All the present content will remain; to weed out the old stuff would create hundreds of broken links but quite a lot of it will no longer be available via the menu. The present (javascript) menu has grown far to big and the new (pure html) minimalist one will be expanded very cautiously.

A few facilities have gone notably the ability to choose the preferred font size. That may come back but not yet so meanwhile the default text size has been slightly increased.

While the update is in progress Bonkers will look a bit of a mess

For the nerdy…

All the pages that provide the text and pictures which you see on screen will be left in situ but there are more than 500 files which dictate what appears there and how they look. Things like colours, text size and whose head and which Quick Link icons appears on what sort of page. There are more than there used to be and the majority of the old ones have been changed.

The first step will be to upload the 500 support files to the existing live website and overwrite most of the old ones. Bonkers will fall apart because the old style pages either won’t find the files or not understand them and therefore not know where to place things on screen.

There are 13 fundamentally different types of pages on Bonkers and some have minor variants making 22 in total.

22 different scripts will be run which will find their relevant file type and amend them all sometimes several thousands and sometimes only a handful.

The blog file script is biggest and will be run first. When it has done its business all the blogs should take their new shape. In no particular order the remaining 21 file types will be given the same treatment and become readable again.

Finally another script will be run which will remove any files no longer needed. I can only guess at how long it will all take, something between one and two hours I would think.

Things won’t be perfect, old pages will not position images correctly if the browser page is wider than 960 pixels - the old fixed format. However another script should hunt down nearly every occurrence and put most of them right. Remaining problem areas can only be corrected one by one as they are noticed.

From Monday 7th May images will be provided at twice the current resolution so that they can be stretched to a greater width before pixelating, a compromise between quality and download speed.

All complaints to the usual place. Did I remember to test the Contact page? Yes I think so.


5 May - Perfect

IntegrityOne of the new crop of Conservative Councillors has this image on her Twitter page.

I don’t think she could have been briefed by Teresa O’Neill yet.

Remarkable result in Northumberland Heath wasn’t it? Wendy Perfect won for Labour by just two votes in Councillor Philip Read’s old ward.

Perhaps the Tory candidate (former Councillor Ray Sams) reaped the toxic reward bequeathed by the outgoing Read who did a runner to West Heath where he polled 168 fewer votes than the always pleasant and friendly Councillor Peter Reader.

Given the penetration of Bonkers through the borough at least 168 voters would know rather more about Councillor Read than he might wish.


4 May - Feeling blue?

I think my Conservative gene must still be alive and kicking because I keep grinning at the election results nationally. We are not after all silly enough to believe Corbyn would make a good Prime Minister or Khan makes a good London Mayor.

BexleyThe Bexley result is disappointing of course and the Tories’ fear of a 26:19 split did not come true. Can one surmise that Councillor Read annoyed so many people in Northumberland Heath with his constant insulting of residents paved the way for the Labour Victory there?

I am particularly pleased to see Esther Amaning back in Thamesmead East. She was forced to resign her (now defunct) Lesnes Abbey seat at the beginning of the year because Bexley Conservative top brass are… is evil bastards too strong, and saw a technical breach of the Local Government Act.

Councillor Cheryl Bacon did that in 2013 and Bexley Council went into high level lying mode to protect her from the consequences. Esther was afforded no such protection. It was just a spiteful storm in a teacup as one might expect of O’Neill & Co.

Those of us who would like to see some punishment inflicted on her may still have something to look forward to.

This evening the Tories will be electing their new Leader, Deputy and whips etc.

Why the indecent haste after their Councillors have just lost a night’s sleep? That will be to give insufficient time to properly organise a plot against the obnoxious one.

And for another ‘why’. Why silence from Bexley-is-Bonkers right through the night?

Because the damned internet connection failed at 01:40 and didn’t return until quite recently. However by 01:40 the writing was on the wall for Labour, the early results at all recent elections have pretty accurately reflected the whole thing.

Note: The new Councillor list has been created. No attempt has been made to edit the job responsibilities and there are some layout problems which do not arise in the new version due on Monday 7th May. They will not therefore be corrected in the old Bonkers version.


3 May (Part 3) - The deed is done

This was stuffed through my letter box yesterday afternoon while I caught up with Mick Barnbrook’s news. Look at it; personally addressed and delivered, so I later discovered, by the lovely Sally Hinkley herself.

Click to see all of the leaflet.

Still nothing from the Tories who seem to have given up on the Western end of Belvedere.

I cast my first ever Labour vote for Danny Hackett in 2014, it wasn’t an easy decision but straying just a little to the left gets easier over time.

The deed is done.


3 May (Part 2) - The future is nearly here

Maybe readers are expecting too much of the new mobile friendly Bonkers, it won’t look very different to what it does now but there have been very considerable changes down in the engine room.

Below is what a typical blog page currently looks like at 4,000 pixels wide and beneath that image is the same page in the new format. At 960 pixels wide it will look exactly the same as now - menu excepted, and on smaller screens it will be scaled down and not suffer a truncated banner and worse as it does now.

Please excuse the “wrong” head positioning and outline on the new, it was part of a test.

It is rare for anyone to comment on Bonkers software facilities but this week someone remarked that when using a different computer it displayed a whole month’s worth of blogs and not just one in isolation. “Why?”

Obviously someone has never played with the Today and Month icons currently on the menubar. That facility will be retained after the changeover.

The easy way of getting a whole month’s worth of blogs in one go is to use

Another request was for larger text. That’s easy, just click any of the six coloured letter As at the top left and have a play. You can even save the setting so the chosen font size will become the default. Unfortunately that facility will not be available from Monday, but it may be later.

One of my favourite Councillors asked “will it crash”. There is no reason to believe it will; apart from cosmetic glitches it has been fine for several days now and the problem that crashed the test server was identified. However what I can guarantee is a total mess during the period of changeover. The worst of it should only be 20 minutes or so but further tinkering will be protracted.
Old Bonkers

The old Bonkers stretched to 4,000 pixels wide.

New Bonkers

The new Bonkers stretched to 4,000 pixels wide.


3 May (Part 1) - Some bad, some good

Officially, that is as an ordinary member of the public, I don’t know anything at all about my Conservative candidates in Belvedere apart from the names of two of them.

SorryLast Saturday I think it was this card came through my letter box. I was in although the front door was locked and it took a moment to remember where the key was.

Actually their team didn’t call, it was one man in a hurry with a bag of Sorry cards slung over his shoulder.

I received three Labour leaflets and all three candidates came to my door, one of them twice!

They concentrate on their core vote, which isn’t really me, and on their strong areas, which may include me. Until 2014 Lesnes Abbey ward (my part of it is now in Belvedere) was represented by three Conservatives so it is not perhaps an open and shut case here.

While one man made a somewhat pathetic attempt to blank my memory of the past eight years with his Sorry card, the Northumberland Numpty, soon to be the West Heath W…, I suppose I had better not say, is doing his best to do the opposite.

After getting himself into the News Shopper because of his pathetic Tweeting activities Councillor Philip Read thought it was appropriate to post another gem on Twitter. (Below.)

Has the man no brain at all?

At least he reads the blog regularly, maybe I should collect his IP address and put him on the block list. No that would be as childish as him blocking me from reading his Twitter output and, by all accounts, anyone else who dares to criticise the buffoon.

Don’t paint all Conservatives with the same brush though, one sent me this late last night…

“Appalling online behaviour of some colleagues for which I for one would like to apologise.”

Tweet Tweet
His stupidity doesn’t seem to be doing his Twitter follower count any good at all, with luck this evening’s count will take him in the same direction.


2 May (Part 2) - Dirty tricks

Today was probably not a good one for catching up with Mick Barnbrook in his favourite watering hole in Bexley. He told me how his plain, and probably not politically correct, speaking on Twitter had increased his followers from around 800 to 4,500 in just four or five weeks and how he was looking forward to the trial of his Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay for electoral fraud which is scheduled for later this month.

As has been the case in a score of other cases, Mick is the complainant and as you might imagine he had quite a tussle with Kent Police before they took him seriously.

When I got home I found that not totally dissimilar things had been going on in Bexley.

Councillor Philip Read may be trying to emulate Mick’s Twitter trick but less successfully than him. The Tweet reproduced here yesterday has provided him with a splash in the News Shopper but as yet no additional follwers.

On top of that two people, maybe more, have reported Read for his constant insulting of residents to Bexley Council’s Monitoring Officer, From there the complaint should go to the Code of Conduct Committee, but will it?

FakeBexley Conservatives are accused of emulating those in Thanet too, although maybe on a smaller scale. They have been reported to the police and the Electoral Commission for allegedly distributing their message via fake Twitter accounts.

The Twitter accounts are obviously fake and the message is very obviously pro-Tory. Bexley Tories may be responsible for it, they are certainly capable of almost any dirty trick you can imagine.

I still wonder how the piles of UKIP votes at the 2014 count seemed to grow smaller over time and not larger and why were certain Conservative Councillors going around saying that Northumberland Heath  had been lost to UKIP when the final result was a comfortable Tory win.

But now what have they been up to? I suppose we will have to wait for the police to investigate it. It may be a long wait.

The following has gone to the Electoral Commission.

I have attached screen shots that I have taken which contain pro-Con anti-Lab material, which is not watermarked, being circulated by numerous fake or bot Twitter accounts.

At this time it’s impossible to say who is responsible but in order for Bexley to have a fair election then the laws must be adhered to and this includes social media campaigns.

We have seen these tactics being used during the EU referendum, and now they have found their way to Bexley and it needs challenging immediately.

I have spoken with Mr. David Easton at Bexley Council and I have also reported this to the police at Bexleyheath Police Station where it has now been passed onto Inspector Kevin Hebdon.

Please find attachments.

If dirty tricks are your game, vote Conservative tomorrow. It will give Bonkers something to do for the next four years.


2 May (Part 1) - Under the thumb?

If you are a North Heath voter and show up at the polling station tomorrow saying your name is Philip Read of - well look it up yourself, it’s easy enough to find - there is a good chance you will get away with it, especially if you call the staff cretins to maximise authenticity.

Voter fraud is easy and there is probably a lot of it about. I have two cousins who have always been involved in elections, one will be a presiding officer tomorrow and the other checks postal votes. Both have stories to tell about voter fraud and it is about time something was done about it.

Something is.

In Woking, Watford, Gosport, Slough and Bromley voters will be asked for ID. A Bromley voter told me that her Freedom Pass will be good enough so there at least the requirements are not too onerous.

Why not Tower Hamlets you might ask. That is surely the place renowned for voter fraud. Would its introduction there cause a riot?

Probably, because my informant inside Tower Hamlets Council says the offer went out to Tower Hamlets but he reports that the Chief Executive and Returning Officer rejected the idea. Instead they are going to look at Postal Votes more carefully. Didn’t they think of doing that before?

TuckleyThe Chief Executive is Will Tuckley, late of Bexley Council. I was never sure whether Tuckley was as disreputable as the Cabinet he served or whether he was basically a good guy under their thumb anxious to get away as soon as the opportunity arose.

I am beginning to make up my mind on that.

Last year he turned a blind eye to a £2 million bribe until after six months things got too hot and he felt obliged to report it to the police, now he is alleged to have rejected the idea of a voter ID trial. Maybe the elected Mayor John Biggs leant on him.

The police are already investigating fraud in tomorrow’s election.

Hmm, what’s to do on the new website? Late on Monday evening I must have introduced a bug, it was OK during the day but by yesterday large chunks of text was being missed. Wasted the whole day trying to fix it. Done now.


1 May - Poisonous Phil

He is still at it. Councillor John Davey was banned from Twitter by Bexley’s Top Dog but Cabinet Member Phil Read is still able to spew out his bile unimpeded. Presumably the Top Attack Dog is happy with the tone of Read’s Tweets which rarely have anything constructive to say.

TweetI’m not sure who the Labour troll is supposed to be but I think we can safely assume that the sad old blogger is me, he has used that description many times before.

West Heath voters will find both Councillors Davey and Read’s names on their ballot papers. No one who believes a politician should be a rational individual and not a loose cannon who spends far too much of his time insulting residents should place their cross against Read’s name.
Tweet Tweet
“You just have to laugh at the semi coherent Labour trolls who believe abuse is a substitute for sensible discussion!” I think the irony meter has just gone off the scale.

Right, that’s it. Back to the web redesign.

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