My first recollection of Northumberland Heath probably dates from the early
1990s soon after I had moved into the borough. I was on a 269 bus which way back
then ran from Bromley North Station to Woolwich via Bexleyheath, Erith, Lower
Belvedere and Abbey Wood. Northumberland Heath was clogged with badly parked
cars as it usually is and the bus driver squeezed his way through the narrow gap
left open to him. In doing so he sliced off the wing mirrors of innumerable
parked cars. Folding mirrors didn’t become almost the norm until very much later.
The bus driver shouldn’t have done it of course but I understood his frustration.
Bexley Road through Northumberland Heath has always been a congestion hotspot and no Bexley Council has ever done anything to address the problem, indeed they have been complicit in making things worse.
Moving forward 20 years Bexley Council stood on the sidelines as things took a turn for the worse, not that they had many options available to them. Wellingtons Electrical moved to larger premises and their old shop was taken over by Tesco thereby increasing the number of delivery trucks.
The arrival of Tesco did go before the planning Committee but only for relatively trivial things like cash points and air conditioning units. The change from selling fridges to selling frozen food did not actually need the Council’s permission.
There were public protestations and Councillors were concerned about the traffic implications of several times daily deliveries to a Tesco store with no rear access. They were correctly told that Tesco could bring in as many delivery lorries as they wanted to unload from the road and there was absolutely nothing Bexley Council could do about it.
Bexley’s traffic ‘expert’ Mr. Boden said that double yellow lines would keep things in order and voting against an ATM would help reduce casual parkers. The Committee dutifully voted against an ATM. Whatever happened to that idea? (See picture below,)
And so the traffic congestion became inevitably worse and the Council and Councillors did absolutely nothing about it, not even when the road was remodelled in 2015.
In the years up to 2018 all the Northumberland Heath Councillors proved to be so useless, one of them in particular specialising in insulting residents and reporting them to the police for things they had not done, that they had to upsticks and find another ward where their reputation was less well known.
Wendy Perfect won a seat for Labour in Northumberland Heath six months ago. Before long she got busy on the Bexley Road traffic problems and they were given publicity on Hugh Neal’s Maggot Sandwich blog twice last September. (First occasion - Second occasion.)
She went around all the shops seeking opinions and got as far as organising a meeting with the relevant Council department to see if the shop owners’ ideas could be implemented.
From observation at Council meetings I have formed the impression that Councillor Perfect is pretty good at getting up the noses of the ruling party and in Bexley Road she apparently did so in Spades.
The Conservatives decided that if any credit was to be given for any improvements in Bexley Road it had to be theirs.
Their immediate reaction was to stage a photo opportunity and then cancel Wendy’s meeting with the Council’s highways man.
As you can see from their picture they had to bring back the former Northumberland Heath Councillor Philip Read to try to convince residents that he had actually done something other than insult both residents and Councillors alike whenever he could.
When one Bexley resident shed some light on Read’s non-involvement in improving his former ward’s shopping centre, Read reacted as all cowards with closed minds do. He blocked the resident from reading his Tweets.
Fortunately Read cannot block Bonkers and in any case it is not very difficult to circumvent Philip Read’s petulance.