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Bonkers Blog April 2019

Index: 20092010201120122013201420152016201720182019

18 April (Part 2) - A conflict of interests?

Church HallThis church hall in Devonshire Road Bexleyheath looks to be a minor eyesore to me, maybe the church authorities think so too because they have submitted a planning application 19/00799/FUL to build a block of four flats in its place.

And what is remarkable about that?

It is right next door to Planning Committee Vice-Chairman Val Clark’s house in Standard Road.

Seems to me that flats might look better than the hall and create fewer traffic problems.

Will she think so too?

 

18 April (Part 1) - Trouble for London

UnwashedThe sanctimonious pointless people (to quote Bexley Councillor Gareth Bacon) or brainless soap dodgers as they are better known who have wrought havoc on London in recent days under the nose of a supportive Mayor and utterly useless police force could have waited for the weekend when the various transport authorities are taking on the job for them.

I need to be in Richmond tomorrow. There are no trains to London on the Dartford via Abbey Wood and Greenwich line and if I take the bus to Bexleyheath station I won’t find any trains to London there either.

The obvious answer is a taxi to Woolwich Arsenal - I will be accompanied by someone who cannot walk too well - and get the DLR to the Bank/Monument for a Richmond bound District line train. But that’s no good either. There is no DLR service from Woolwich Arsenal to London tomorrow.

I know; get a DLR train to West Ham and get on the District line there. Forget it, the District line isn’t running tomorrow.

So that leaves two options. Jubilee from Canning Town to Waterloo and the half hourly fast train to Richmond or DLR to Stratford and Overground direct to Richmond. The scenic route via North London.

Has Andrew Bashford been put in charge of rail planning now?

I’d probably use the Jubilee if it was just me but it will be packed solid and my friend isn’t up to standing all the way.

Incidentally Stratford to Richmond costs £4.60 single on the Jubilee line route but only £1.50 on the Overground.

 

17 April - Road planning madness

Abbey WoodThe three hour traffic delays in Crayford caused by Thames Water are said to be over but Bexley Council hasn’t finished with Abbey Wood yet.

It planned to close all four carriageways of Eastern Way for four weeks while the parallel Eynsham Drive was closed for six so that they could repair the A2016’s central barrier. Offer up thanks that Bexley’s road manager Andrew Bashford is not yet in charge of the nation’s motorways.

The Eynsham Drive closure was deferred but with the diversion route of Harrow Manorway and Yarnton Way both currently reduced to half width the tail backs have stretched back to Plumstead and it takes up to an hour to traverse Harrow Manorway. The 180 and 401 bus routes are effectively cancelled as they are being cut short to retain some sort of timetable on the rest of their routes.

Traffic is scheduled to be back to normal in two weeks time but before then there will be added disruption in Felixstowe Road.

The regeneration work scheduled for November 2017 or January 2018 dependent on which leaflet you have to hand is set to begin next week.

Some details may be read here.

As you will see, Felixstowe Road is to be closed completely in June. The relief road will be Eynsham Drive but with its six week closure deferred to after Eastern Way is opened in the week commencing 6th May, it’s not impossible that both will be closed at the same time.

They wouldn’t be that mad would they?

I wouldn’t bet on it.

 

16 April - Worse than Philip Read?

BlockedI quite like Councillor Gareth Bacon. He did a good job with refuse collection ten years ago and talks a lot of sense as Conservative Leader at City Hall. He is not very vocal at Bexley Council meetings but when he is he is on the ball.

The only time I remember him behaving like an idiot was when his wife made a right old mess of Chairing a Scrutiny meeting back in 2013 and he shouted threats to a member of the public who challenged her. I suppose that is just about understandable but I’m not sure what his excuse for behaving like a school kid now might be.

Like Gareth I assume, I think Sidcup4remain frequently posts a lot of nonsense from her anonymous keyboard and I am reminded of David Cameron’s notorious description of Twitter users, but maybe the nonsense is not as extreme as that which comes from another local Labour activist, No time for Racists. I have often thought I should block the latter if for no other reason than having a stupid name - but I haven’t.

I think it is necessary to listen to all views in order to broaden one’s horizons. I even manage to listen to James O’Brien on LBC to remind myself what rabid Socialism might be like.

When Gareth Bacon has sobered up maybe he will have second thoughts.

By the way, Michael Heseltine is not as stupidly provocative as David Lammy, not even close although I do dislike him intensely for being the architect of the Council Tax.

When he is on the radio I am usually thinking “Isn’t it about time you fell off your perch”.

Councillor Bacon is of course not worse than Councillor Read, how could anyone be? When he resorts to Twitter to insult residents and issue false accusations, I might change my mind.

 

15 April - The good, the bad and the bespectacled in Sevenoaks

CanvassersYesterday’s news about the Independent candidate standing for election to Sevenoaks District Council provoked a variety of comment. I was relieved to hear via Twitter that I had not unintentionally upset Anna Firth, Sevenoaks Council’s Cabinet Member for Legal and Democratic Services and General Election Candidate here in Bexley in 2015.

There was an interest in spreading the news of the candidate’s record in Bexley and her various encounters with authority, something that I confess had passed my mind too. I'd love to see a copy of her election address. Anyone got one?

One email suggested ensuring that Google searches revealed the truth but Bonkers already comes up before maxinefothergill.com on Google searches for Maxine Fothergill.

Although the absolutely useless and most probably corrupt Kent Police accepted Ms. Fothergill’s signed statement that she was found Not Guilty of breaching Bexley Council’s Code of Conduct and charged me with harassment, in part, for reporting that she was, the truth is still freely available on Bexley’s website.

A summary of her encounter with Sevenoaks Council over breaches of planning law are indexed here and of course the documents relating to the infamous High Court appearance are all on line too.

Spreading the word further will be a question of someone with time on their hands following appropriate Face Book Groups and Twitter accounts.

My favourite email response was this one, anonymous but maybe some mischievous Councillor.


Fothergill is not interested in getting elected the only reason she is standing is, that as a candidate she gets an official copy of the electoral roll which will enable her to find all the lonely old ladies and help them get into a home.


Note: There may be an interruption to blogging, the Old Lady of Newham has broken her leg.

 

14 April (Part 3) - Not totally Bonkers then?

CanvassersThe Conservative Party nationally has as most people will recognise gone stark staring bonkers much to the chagrin of local activists who by and large are in despair of how their party leader transformed a once great country into an international laughing stock. For proof that pockets of sanity remain in Conservative ranks one might do worse than take a look at Sevenoaks Council where former Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill was to be seen canvassing for the Conservative cause only a month ago.

Take a look at the Nomination Paper below and savour what you see. Somebody has been rumbled at last.

Whatever you might think of them nationally, everyone should hope that the three address shy Tories romp home in Fawkham and West Kingsdown.
Nominations

 

14 April (Part 2) - Bad PR for P and R

Expenditure P and R lose £27 million
Lots of times I have heard Bexley Council say that it always places contracts with local companies if it can and P and R Installations is a local company based in Sidcup specialising in small and not quite so small building and maintenance jobs.

They have contracts with 13 London boroughs including Bexley and several more further afield plus a good handful of housing associations.

There are allegations on the web that they have been guilty of ripping customers off and it could be that there is no smoke without fire because it is also reported that Dover District Council is looking for a new contractor.

A web search will reveal allegations of gas leaks, no heating, failed appointments and perhaps most serious of all, forged gas safety certificates. It is said that just a handful of local authority contracts add up to more than £20 million.

Does Bexley Council know about this? Maybe they should be prompted into taking a look.

I don’t often look at the Council’s list of bills paid over £500, it is too easy to deceive readers because of the lack of full information and therefore it’s rarely worthwhile but when I looked today discovered that it had not been updated for the last four months. The figures shown come from November 2018.

 

14 April (Part 1) - Plastic Peter

Do It For BexleyAs ideas go, this one by Councillor Peter Craske is not a bad one, far better than his decision to take up blogging, that’s for sure.

Quite why residents have to sign up in order to be motivated to pick up litter I do not know. One of my neighbours scours all the local streets for litter once or twice a week. She is often to be seen with her pick up stick and bag and has been doing her little job for longer than I can remember. No sign up and probably no thanks either and no Peter required.

My litter picking is mainly confined to tidying up at the local street bins although sometimes they are so disgustingly contaminated that they require professional attention.

My neighbour is not alone in her unofficial endeavours, a resident wrote to me this week as follows…


I’m sick of seeing all the rubbish scattered around in my area, so while I was out today on my mobility scooter I thought I’d collect all the plastic bottles and drink cans and take them to the recycling bank by Morrisons.

It has gone!

It seems the Council have removed the banks due to fly tipping, so if I want to clean up my area I now have to take loads of rubbish to Thames Road Centre. On my mobility scooter!


Bexley Council has progressively removed street collection points right across the north of the borough - maybe elsewhere too but I have no info on that.

The bins to both the North and South of Abbey Wood station went a few years ago, I suppose that they detract from the appearance of the new gentrified Abbey Wood and The Maggot Sandwich reported the demise of the Erith Morrisons bins a few months ago.

Perhaps the answer when you see a carelessly discarded plastic bottle is to leave the bloody thing alone - or maybe sign up to Councillor Craske’s scheme.

Does he provide a bag and collection service? I doubt he will let me know.

 

13 April - BexleyCon trick again?

The residents of the new Quarry development in Fraser Road Erith are not going to get a new supermarket on their doorstep, Bexley Council says so.

Lidl had applied for planning permission to build on the site where Screwfix and others now are but was refused for reasons unknown this week. Unknown because the document refuses to come up on my computer however many times I try. (*)

Bexley Council has already acquired Wickes and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that BexleyCo has designs on the whole Atlas Trade Park. Putting the same people in charge of building and planning is always going to arouse dark suspicions.Lidl
* The refusal document was eventually downloaded. It may be seen here. Strange that Bexley Council does not like the loss of trees when it was happy to see half of those in the quarry destroyed. Maybe Lidl should offer to build a school.

 

12 April (Part 3) - Virtue signalling

TweetWhen I saw this Tweet late last night the hackles went straight up. When they do the best course of action is to sleep on it, so I did.

The question is should I say my piece about it here? The answer is actually quite easily found, if Bexley Tories had done something similar I would likely jump on it straight away and despite what Councillor Philip Read would have you believe, I am not a Labour Troll.

Last night the new Sikh Temple in Belvedere was looking for planning permission. Approval was pretty much a foregone conclusion. There is already a temple on the site, the Sikhs are peaceful law abiding people and deserve a decent place in which to worship. The Planning Officers had given it their blessing and no one except just possibly a few neighbours (the comments section on the Planning Portal are not yet available for viewing) were likely to object.

As you might expect the new Gurdwara was approved unanimously.

So why did the Leader of Bexley’s Labour Party who is not a member of the Planning Committee think he should add his twopennyworth at the meeting when it was inevitable that his input was entirely redundant? Preaching to the converted.

I cannot see how it could be for any reason than to be able to put out the sort of Tweet you see here and to curry favour with the Sikh Community.

I suppose I am still not accustomed to the self serving ways of politicians. This Tweet is in exactly the same category as the ones put out by the Conservatives after Labour Councillor Wendy Perfect did all the legwork and arranged the necessary meetings to set the wheels in motion for the removal of a troublesome bus stop in Northumberland Heath.

The Tories who had done nothing about the problem bus stop for seven whole years had no conscience about posing for photographs hoping to convince a gullible electorate that all the credit should be directed at themselves.

The only outcome is cynicism for the lot of ’em.

 

12 April (Part 2) - Not so Planny Danny?

Danny HacketPerhaps the following words should appear as a postscript and correction to yesterday evening’s blog but if I put it there most of you will miss it.

It would appear that my knowledge of Council procedures is somewhat lacking and the congratulations on Councillor Hackett’s continued appearance on the Planning Committee may have been premature.

Looking ahead to next week’s Full Council meeting agenda suggests that there is a concerted move to boot him off. My faith in a reformed Tory Leadership is perhaps misplaced.

I met Danny for an update on his situation soon after he left the Labour Party so I know that losing the planning position would come as a major blow. He has five years experience on the Committee and has a real passion for the borough not always noted elsewhere.

Would I be wrong to surmise the hand of his former colleagues in this? If so it would be a typical Corbynista Momentum style move; more Hackney than Bexley. I have insufficient knowledge of the internal machinations of Bexley Council to know whether they can put aside politics next Wednesday night and rethink their decision or recommendation or whatever it is. Can we rely on Bexley Tories to honour their election manifesto to put the town before politics?

One can but live in hope.

There may be a connection but since Danny’s departure I am finding it increasingly difficult to find anything good to write about the Labour Party locally. I have never caught them out lying which is clearly a good thing, but they simply make me feel uncomfortable at times.

With the Conservatives apparently turning over a new leaf, the Deputy Leader greeted me like an old friend at Tuesday’s Cabinet - well maybe that is slightly over stating it but it was a move in the right direction - things may be subtlely changing in Bexley and on Bonkers.

Pity about Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

 

12 April (Part 1) - In good company

TelegraphI spent a couple of hours in the company of John Watson, Elwyn Bryant and Mick Barnbrook yesterday afternoon, all one time frequent contributors to Bonkers. Not so much now, Anno Domini and all that.

Elwyn, and not for the first time, told me what he thinks of his MP James Brokenshire. I think it can be summarised politely as “very disappointed”.

The problem with Elwyn is that he has this weird belief in politicians respecting the manifestos upon which they steal your vote. He seems to think they are honourable gentlemen and not just people intent on protecting their jobs and their own backsides.

Because of his belief in their intrinsic honesty I sometimes think he over eggs the pudding, making no allowance for the fact that James Brokenshire is a Conservative Cabinet Member and therefore almost by definition not to be trusted.

However it would appear that Elwyn is in good company, with The Daily Telegraph no less, for upon opening my copy this morning, what did I find in its Editorial column? Severe criticism of the MP for Old Bexley & Sidcup, one James Brokenshire.

Sir Roger Scruton, his housing guru, said that Islamophobia had become “a propaganda word” and that to him all Chinese people looked alike. Snowflake Brokenshire didn’t like it.

You can imagine how much I dislike people who try to stifle freedom of speech.

Next time I see Elwyn I will ask him to expand on some of his Brokenshire stories which date back to about 2008 to see if it would be worthwhile regurgitating them here. No more sitting on the fence where Dishonourable Members are concerned!

Meanwhile the housing situation remains dire under Brokenshire’s leadership; but Islam and the Chinese are protected - so that’s all right then.

 

11 April (Part 3) - Planny Danny

Danny HacketPlanning meetings aren’t my thing unless a really big scheme is on the Agenda and a new Sikh Temple in Belvedere this evening didn’t really cut it.

The big issue at tonight’s meeting was would Councillor Danny Hackett retain his position on the Planning Committee after resigning from the Labour Party. The Agenda said he would but I needed to see him make a contribution before I’d really believe it, so here he is courtesy of Bexley Council’s webcast.

Those who understand the tribal allocation of Committee jobs will appreciate that for a single Independent out of 45 Councillors to be allocated a planning job is a considerable achievement for Danny.

Obviously congratulations are due to him but it probably reflects favourably on the Council Leader’s new found flexible management style too.

Either that or a desire to dig the Labour Party in the eye.

 

11 April (Part 2) - Growing old disgracefully

For BritainI don’t know where he finds the energy but Mick Barnbrook late of this Parish is older than I am and stomping the streets of Pegwell Bay intent on becoming a Councillor in Thanet.

He is up against an Independent and a Green Party candidate as well as, on paper at least, Conservative and Labour candidates.

Those who knew Mick well will remember how he would not be seen dead at an official function without his well pressed suit, a neatly knotted tie and brightly shining black shoes.

Adorned with a political rosette he can very easily look like an old school Tory Cabinet Member.

It’s not a look that goes down well in the current climate; wearing a rosette immediately shouts politician and too easily leads to a punch on the nose.

Mick regretfully cast it aside only to learn that a man on the doorstep in a smart suit at this time of the year still looks like a politician.

The suit and tie have been replaced by an open neck shirt and jumper although Mick draws the line at wearing trainers. I would doubt he owns a pair.

Dressed down if not quite in the Michael Foot tradition he is still met with with aggression, largely Brexit inspired aggression.

Mick says he has seen no sign whatever of a Labour campaign and not much more from the Conservatives. They poked an A3 leaflet through his door.

It is probably not surprising that the two main parties would want to keep their heads down and few would like to see Teresa May and her lily livered supporters humiliated more than I would. I really do not care what becomes of them as long as they go and go soon but do I want to see the Conservative Party disappearing down the same sewer as their leaders?

I very much suspect that out in the sticks, in deepest Kent for example, Conservative Councillors have a similar opinion of the Prime Minister as I do and the only difference between them and me is that they might have some minor influence on her future.

In all probability we will see a traitorous habitual liar continue in her job while hard working political activists and minor politicians will be wiped from the political map on May 2nd.

May needs to be taught a lesson she will never forget and be written into the history books as the most treacherous Prime Minister ever but it probably cannot be done without decimating Conservative Councillors. Bexley Conservatives must be very relieved that they went to the polls last year.

No one ever said that politics was fair.

Note: Michael’s address to voters is only 25% of his leaflet.

 

11 April (Part 1) - The shape of things to come

As already noted, Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting saw a lot of interesting and probably good stuff announced - although perhaps not enough of it.
Cabinet
Sidcup town centre has been in some sort of turmoil for as long as I have been following such things, usually with a massive impact on traffic flow. It was closed again last Tuesday when I tried to drive through.

The shopping centre has gone down hill and was then dragged up a bit by Mrs. Richardson’s 2014 regeneration plan and now she says it is on the slide again, the ever constant threat posed by out of town shopping centres the internet and the free car parking offered by both.

The major changes that are imminent are the cinema and library with flats included on the corner of Elm Road, the Blockbuster site, and the transformation of the old Manor House into a hotel and spa. The old library in Hadlow Road will be “redeveloped for residential use”.

Ms. Richardson showed a few pictures which may be seen here. Demolition of the old Blockbuster store will commence “in the next few weeks”


CraskeCouncillor Craske said he was excited by the design of the library and cinema and digressed into the long history of his library success story in Bexley. The increased footfall and visitor numbers; always the spin doctor he once was.

Unfortunately Councillor Craske had forgotten that the successful trend was kick started by the Labour decision to move Blackfen Library into the town centre.

Sidcup’s new library and cinema is scheduled to open in the Summer of 2021.

The debate moved on to digital infrastructure and Graham Ward who is Deputy Director of Infrastructure Delivery or some such thing - when is Bexley Council going to update its staff structure web page as it still refers to several people who have gone to pastures new? - said that BT had provided “significant investment in digital infill”. 11,000 more Bexley homes served by fast broadband.

Councillor Craske said that “free wi-fi in town centres is the right thing to do”. Councillor French was rightly concerned about misuse of the facility with a veiled reference to the school pupils who loiter in the Broadway. Mr. Ward assured him it could be selectively switched off.

In the north of the borough plans for Cory’s waste incinerator to provide district heating were advancing nicely.

On and off street electric charging points were planned and a contractor appointed. Chargemaster, it’s owned by BP.

I should perhaps declare an interest here. I suspect I was the only person present in the Chamber who runs a fully electric vehicle, not one of those half baked and frequently useless hybrids. One currently being seen on TV adverts will do almost a mile without using its internal combustion engine but only if you don’t go over 30 miles per hour or go uphill. Last weekend I did a 300 mile plus trip without having to recharge the battery and entirely on free electricity. I am saving about £1,200 a year on fuel costs and another hundred or so on service charges. End of advert.

Councillor Craske said the borough must be kept “in the forefront” of such developments and Councillor John Fuller agreed, referencing Mayor Khan’s Ultra Low Emission Zone.

Councillor David Leaf correctly said it was difficult to hit “the sweet spot” on some technology projects and not be either too early or too late. He looked forward to the income the concession would generate. “As much income as possible would be greatly appreciated.”


ChargingThe ins and outs of charging electric cars are far too complex and I doubt anyone at Bexley Council knows much of the subject. Hopefully Chargemaster - not my favourite supplier - will not let them do anything too silly.

Councillor French asked how the locations of street charging points were selected. He was concerned about the impact on “existing parking stress”. The answer appeared to be at the least used parking places and close to convenient power supplies. No word about where might be best for the vehicle owners. The hope is that they wil be spread across the borough and not just in Bexleyheath.

Chargemaster 7kW charging points are double headed. The 13 units to be provided will service 26 parking bays. The expectation is that more will go into Council owned car parks and maybe even faster chargers - 50kW or more - close to major roads.

District heating, free wi-fi and vehicle charging points will not have any impact on Bexley’s budget. Labour Councillors were in favour of all the Cabinet proposals.

Note: Fully electric vehicle owners are a comparatively rare breed in the UK and have formed a variety of user groups. I mentioned Bexley’s plans on a Kent based one and whilst there is always a welcome for any new infrastructure Bexley’s 13 were seen as no more than a gesture. “13 wow, really going for it” from a Plumstead resident. It is easy to criticise but it is a delicate chicken and egg situation. The charging companies have to operate at a profit but there are not enough customers out there yet and most in Bexley will be able to charge cheaply at home or at shopping cenres.

While the supermarkets offer free charging, Lidl has a free 50kW unit, the only thing going for Bexley’s chargers is ubiquity, and 13 is a long way off that.

On a pedantic note, the ‘chargers’ planned by Bexley Council are not chargers, they are merely 7kW power outlets that can have a two way conversation with the car. The 7kW charger is on board the car itself. The 50kW chargers are chargers feeding the battery directly.

 

10 April (Part 2) - The North South Divide

As residents of Abbey Wood and Thamesmead will know, it has not been easy to get around the area by road for several years and especially the last two when Bexley Council took over from Crossrail as the principal architect of chaos.

Harrow ManorwayThis week they have excelled themselves. Eastern Way, the dual carriageway town bypass that runs from Plumstead bus garage to Erith has been closed east of Harrow Manorway. Not just lane restricted as one would expect of a Council with a ha’porth of sense but all four carriageways at the same time. The excuse offered is central reservation repairs.

The diversion is via Harrow Manorway which is cone restricted to half its proper width and into Yarnton Way which is also lane restricted via a roundabout which can barely be seen for cones. People are reporting five minute journeys taking forty or more with tailbacks to the bus garage on one side and Abbey Wood station on the other.

This photo was taken mid-afternoon today.

On Facebook some are asking who could be so irresponsible as to inflict so much damage on the local economy and asking for his head.

Maybe the answer is Bexley’s Head of Highway Services Andrew Bashford. The same Andrew Bashford who as a mere Team Leader effectively created Bexley-is-Bonkers by lying to me about Abbey Road which he decided should be made so narrow in 2009 that buses do not pass each other on the Lesnes Abbey stretch.

Andrew Bashford told me that his road design was compliant with Transport Research Laboratory guidance on how to safely make roads narrower. Unfortunately for Andrew Bashford he was unaware that the Senior Road Safety Consultant at TRL at the time was my own son. He passed his own judgment on Andrew Bashford’s road designing skills.

Only at a local authority would someone caught out so spectacularly be promoted.

The photo below was posted on Facebook by Danni Değirmenci. It shows the roundabout at the northern end of Harrow Manorway looking towards Abbey Wood station. Progress is so slow that people are driving over the central reservation in order to find another route, but I don’t think there is another route. Maybe they are just going back home.

LBC radio has been featuring the Council inflicted problem on their news bulletins.

Bexley Council plans to create this chaos for the whole of this month and into May. It should be fun when the schools reopen after Easter. One despairs for the intellect of some public servants.
Roundabout jammed solid

 

10 April (Part 1) - The police can’t cope

Last Wednesday evening I was spoilt for choice; three meetings to go to. Councillor Caroline Newton’s Communities Scrutiny Committee had to be given a miss, a shame because she seemed to be genuinely sorry that I wasn’t there. “We don’t have any members of the public unfortunately, hopefully many people are watching on the webcast.”

DobinsonIn case they were not I will trawl through it to see if anything particularly interesting was discussed. One of the things I would have liked to have seen at first hand was the first appearance of the new joint Borough Police Commander Chief Superintendent Simon Dobinson; does he live up to my expectations? One must hope not.

Councillor Sybil Camsey (Conservative, Crooklog) said she doesn’t often speak of her experience as a Head Teacher but on this occasion she would. She did not think that the automatic exclusion of weapon carrying pupils was always a good idea. While in post she had nine, ten and eleven year olds caught with weapons at school but she “had found other ways of dealing with the situation”.

First find out what they had brought them to school, then sit down and solve the problem. In one case she asked a father to take his boy to the police because he had waved a knife at fellow pupils.

“They finger printed him, photographed him and took his DNA which frightened the life out of him.” Councillor Camsey was then able to write to other parents to warn them that “if your child does this, this is what will happen. It was a very simple way of making sure it didn’t happen again”.

Deputy Director for Communities Tonia Ainge confirmed that “there had been fairly much a blanket exclusion policy in schools” but was looking for better solutions. “It is early days.”

Councillor Alan Downing reminded the Committee that “we used to have 240 cameras stuck on lamp posts throughout the borough and a very good control room manned 24/7. I am told that it will all be controlled from Lewisham from now on. Does this mean we will have a Control Room in Lewisham? It is a shame that we have all these cameras and a service contract but we don’t know how they are being used. Is someone paying Bexley for the use of them?”.

Good question Alan. Another was “how has Bexley benefitted” from the amalgamation of the three borough police units.

The Chief Superintendent confirmed that the CCTV is not monitored. The recordings are sometimes looked at but as yet not from Lewisham so it is not a good use of police time. He knew nothing of the funding arrangements.

There were no direct benefits to Bexley from the new policing model except that some crimes, notably domestic violence, are now investigated locally and not by a centralised department. Overall “there are 100 odd fewer police posts and there are 91 vacancies, 57 officers on restricted duties a 6% sickness rate and some deployed elsewhere in London and it goes on. We should have a squad of 15 but we are starting with twelve and can only put nine players on the pitch ”.

Ex-copper Alan Downing suggested reintroduction of a number of ‘old fashioned’ ideas but was told they would all run foul of General Data Protection Regulations, GDPR.

Deputy Director Ainge said that when the police took over the CCTV system there was no financial settlement and spoke of losing the benefits of CCTV when in fact it was consciously given up. Not the same thing at all.

Councillor Downing said that Bexley’s CCTV facility was big enough to oversee Greenwich and Lewisham too but Toni Ainge said that contractual obligations had scuppered sensible arrangements.

Councillor Richard Diment (Conservative, Sidcup) was concerned that crime in Bexley was rising “significantly with relatively low detection rates, one in twenty five for burglaries”.

The replies to the Councillor’s concerns all came from Council officers and were wholly about improving data collection with not a word about improving policing. It will surprise no one.

 

9 April - More jam has been approved for tomorrow

O'Neill It was Cabinet tonight and a lot of exciting stuff that has been in the pipeline for some while got rubber stamped.

The old Blockbuster store in Sidcup is coming down and will be replaced with a library on two floors and a small cinema.

Town centres are to get free wifi and BTopenreach has already said that Bexley is the best connected borough in London.

The incinerator in Belvedere is to distribute waste heat to nearby homes and in another move towards cleaner energy 26 parking bays across the borough will become electric vehicle charging bays. Not before time but it is very much a chicken and egg situation and there is not much money to be made from it right now.

Further down the line there will be chargers in Council car parks and very fast chargers (known as rapids) just off the A2 and other major roads where long distance travellers can refuel quickly.

All good stuff and now compare that with Waltham Forest Council. I still haven’t been able to complete the Council Tax League table for 2019/20. As of late this afternoon every Council Tax link on Waltham Forest’s website led to the 2018/19 figures. How incompetent can one Council get?

 

5 April (Part 2) - How do you put a clown back into his box?

Read I am in the middle of a five day period where family commitments are getting in the way of reporting Council meetings but I am not so busy that I haven’t had time to ponder Councillor Read’s obsession with me. It’s not new, I can go back to 2011 for the first sign of it and his stupidity is beginning to make me feel sorry for Council Leader Teresa O’Neill. Yes you read that right.

Based solely on the timing of Read’s Tweets and his self proclaimed close association with Le Vino, one might easily conclude that he is not always thinking clearly.

I am a nobody nearer in age to eighty than seventy who has no interest in maintaining a personal reputation. As long as I can steer clear of corrupt police officers I have nothing much to fear from Read’s words or anyone elses’.

Read on the other hand is a public figure who, if he had any sense at all, should have some interest in maintaining a reputation, as both a decent human being and as a politician seeking re-election every four years.

I used to refer to Councillor Read as the Northumberland Numpty which seemed to be very apt. Now that he has moved to West Heath ward I will have to think of something similarly alliterative. There must be something, if only I could think of it!


CretinPhilip Read is an embarrassment not only to himself but also to those of his colleagues who have sent me their own personal apologies for his late night ramblings.

So why do I feel sorry for Teresa, the woman who reported me to the police for what someone else said, for “criticising Councillors” and, reading between the lines of police statements at meetings and on paper, interfered with a judicial process? I know absolutely that the Chief Executive did and I doubt he did it without a nod and a wink from the boss.

As I have said before, and quite recently too, there comes a time when you have to let old mistakes go and avoid becoming bitter and twisted. Bexley Council is no longer crooked to the core as far as I can tell.

A whole load of failed and law dodging senior officials have left the Council’s employment since Bonkers was launched and not a few Councillors who to my mind were similarly inclined.

There would be no good reason to start Bonkers if it did not exist already.

Bexley Council is hard done by by central Government but hasn’t yet got too near to going broke while some London Councils are on the edge. That can only be good.

When Children’s Services were judged Inadequate the Leader recruited someone from Ofsted who knew how to put things right. That might be judged an act of genius. And it worked.

When Council officials from other parts of the country, the so called Peer Review, said that Bexley Council’s Scrutiny processes were various shades of rubbish, the Leader reorganised the Committees and appointed some new Chairmen. Councillors Newton and Dourmoush in particular have successfully made their mark. Bexley Council only publicised the few good things in the Peer Review and suppressed everything else but it is unrealistic to expect perfection in politics.

I may be wrong but I would like to think that Teresa O’Neill has finally noticed that Bonkers does not usually criticise Council policies and is softening her stance.

There is probably a long way to go before access to Bonkers is unbanned from Council and Library web servers but there have been small signs of success. I am no longer considered to be a threat to safety by being placed behind a barrier at Council meetings. The Leader, and several of her erstwhile silent colleagues, will now acknowledge my presence in the Council Chamber and even exchange a few pleasantries if the situation permits it.

It may not seem much and could perhaps be largely in my imagination but compared to yesteryear it is a massive relaxation. The obvious aggression has gone.

ReadBut not where Councillor Philip Read is concerned.

At the personal level I would be sorry to see those who run the @bexleynews Twitter account behave themselves as it is fun to take the mickey out of them, but for Bexley Council they must be a bit of an embarrassment. Obviously they must be senior Tories or they wouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

John Fuller wouldn’t do it; Brad Smith, it’s not his style. Alex Sawyer probably couldnְ’t do it. Louie French; too serious. It doesn’t look like his way either. Which leaves Cabinet Members Craske, Leaf and Read. David Leaf used to run a blog and as everyone knows, so did Peter Craske, he was arrested for it! It could be any of those three but Craske and Read remain favourites if only because their less loyal colleagues have said so.

If Tweedledum and Tweedledee could be curbed Bonkers might become nothing but another small time news outlet. All the wheeler dealer sailing close to the wind Council Officers have left with their Golden Goodbyes. There would be nothing else left to examine.

What can be done to discourage Read in particular from making a fool of himself?

Peer pressure maybe.

It may not be Marquis of Queensbury rules but maybe trawling Bonkers for old blogs that would embarrass Read’s Councillor colleagues and give them a fresh airing. It might be one way of bringing the West Heath Weasel to his senses - if he has any. Hmm, maybe that is the big flaw in the idea.

 

5 April (Part 1) - Intoxicated by his own verbosity again?

Tweet
Another midnight Tweet. I haven’t a clue what Read is talking about this time. Does he? Does anyone?

 

4 April - Cabinet Member for Children. Sounds about right

ReadWith a full timetable for the day ahead a blog looked unlikely but fortunately the Cabinet Member for Childish Activities, Philip Read rode to the rescue shortly after midnight with another of his juvenile Tweets. And about time too, it’s more than a month since the last one.

If his party leader Theresa May had not already done so I would be inclined to think that Councillor Read is on a mission to destroy the Conservative Party’s reputation but maybe it is only his own.

To think that we have people like him in charge of one of Bexley’s biggest budgets. To think we have a woman like May in charge of the whole country, with the help of a Marxist of course!

Read’s midnight Tweet deserves a full width image don’t you think?

Tweet
For the record the names of the authors of @bexleynews came to me from one of Read’s colleagues in a Twitter Direct Message. Doesn’t mean to say it is true of course, probably they all lie.

 

3 April (Part 2) - Useless cops. Corrupt cops. Murderous cops

With Bexley Council appearing to be a lot less Bonkers than it once was, it is possible that the emphasis here will shift inexorably to that bastion of incompetence, dishonesty and corruption, the British police force.

The Times newspaper carried an article yesterday about how the police do not usually investigate fraud. It is estimated that a third of all crimes are fraud but the police look for easier pickings, like naughty words on the internet. A Bexley resident was prosecuted for using the C word on Twitter  (conviction overturned on appeal) and the internet is still offered as an excuse locally for not always investigating more traditional crimes.

Action Fraud ditches most of the reports it receives but passes the most blatant fraud cases to the police who ignore more than 95% of them.

Fraud is a problem everywhere and I was horrified when a friend in Welling nearly fell for a scam identical to the one reported below. He was saved only when about to hand over his cash in a Welling bank and the ‘police officer’ was not prepared to provide him with a properly documented receipt.
The Times
I had a long chat with my daughter’s partner Alastair Morgan today, his brother was murdered with police involvement in 1987 for attempting to shop them for their burglaries, fit ups and drug running.

I can’t tell you in any detail what he said for obvious reasons but let’s just say he has absolutely positive evidence that the Met. Police is corrupt, County Forces are corrupt, all the predecessors of the Independent Office for Police Conduct have been thoroughly corrupt and the police are happy to pursue and even murder their colleagues who show signs of rocking their boat. Even the current Commissioner got a dishonourable mention.

Alastair remains hopeful that everything he and the Home Office have discovered about his brother’s murder and the ensuing cover up will be released into the public domain within the next twelve months.

 

3 April (Part 1) - Tax stats

Tax and inflationI used to look forward to Bexley’s magazine because of the opportunities it presented for dissecting the deceptions and half truths contained therein but those days seem to have gone. Gone because of scrutiny on Social Media and maybe blogs presumably.

I pounced on a footnote on Page 5 of the new issue thinking it might be a fib but the official government inflation rate calculators suggested that if anything the £165 was on the conservative side. Depends on the Council Tax Band obviously.

One might wonder why 2018 was chosen for comparison but the answer to that is with Council Tax going up at more than 5% a year (including Khan’s iniquitous imposition) and inflation at 2% the £165 can go only one way and that is rapidly down.

At about £50 a year!

So by 2021 Council Tax will be higher in real terms when Labour left office locally in 2006 and the services are arguably worse.

Speaking of Council Tax, three London boroughs have still not published their 2019/20 rates on line. The numbers are available on some Estate Agent websites but the experience in earlier years has shown them to not always be reliable and best avoided.

 

2 April - Michael Slaughter

Nothing but bad news today, firstly I was made aware in greater detail than before of some of the poisonous stuff that is directed at local MPs, nearly had me in tears, and then this that probably will.

 
 
 
 

Michael was husband of Sidcup Councillor June Slaughter and twenty years ago Leader of Bexley Council. He served Bexley for a total of 40 years.

 

1 April (Part 2) - All Fools Day

The day started with a blog about someone intent on making a fool of himself and it will continue that way.

The first fool is me. I have become very slack about filing emails. When there are more than I can cope with some get forgotten. Yesterday I came across one which really should have been answered, if not featured here.

It was from someone who like me has has been harassed and unjustifiably pursued by overbearing police officers.


I was reading an old issue of Private Eye and came across the item in “Rotten Boroughs” regarding your experiences with the police.

I have had a similar experience and it got very nasty.

My Council is Merton, where I have uncovered some very unsavoury antics but this got bigger and actually has involved the Met. themselves.

I don’t blog but I have been placing my reports on twitter (@mertonscam1 if you are interested). I don’t think Councillors/Council officials/Police like it.

Two detectives are under investigation following complaints by me to ACTION FRAUD but it is taking one hell of a long time - hence the Twitter feed. Perhaps not the best way of doing this kind of thing but it was quick to set up.

My house was raided by the police just before Christmas - on the pretext of a fence dispute with a neighbour which was settled nearly a month earlier by OTHER police officers.

I was taken to Sutton Police Station, finger-printed, photographed and DNA’d.

I do have lawyers on this but the police have hardly been away from my front door since. On two occasions to deliver letters from the occupant next door. I am not making that up. So much for thin police resources!!!

I am an experienced journalist and in my late seventies and trying very hard to retire properly, but these events won’t let me. Well, I suppose it is better than watching box set after box set of Morse, Frost and Vera etc.

However seeing your story made me wonder if there is some kind of pattern emerging here. Bash the messenger as hard as possible and try to extinguish the message.

I am trying to get my own findings further into the public domain, the story centres on large scale fraud and other criminal activities and my evidence is harder-than-rock solid. It has to be, as I was fully aware from the start what I might have to face by way of opposition.

I think both of our experiences are very worrying and I sincerely hope are not the shape of things to come.


As the man says, the police claim that their resources are stretched but in this case they act as postmen. Only a month ago I heard a local police officer tell a local audience that they couldn’t always attend to burglaries and acts of violence because the internet provides them with too much work.

It’s a policy that can only have come from just out of university wet behind the ears over promoted senior officers.

If you have seven minutes spare take a look at this video. It shows two officers at a Twitter user’s door to warn someone that he has not done anything wrong or committed any offence but their Inspector told them to go and scare him for no legal reason.


Source video.


Another disturbing video will take up a great deal more of your time, 37 minutes and maybe a summary is in order. It shows a photographer engaged in what I do daily. Taking pictures in a public place, in this case opposite a police station.

A police officer rolls up and asks questions that he has no right to ask. I doubt I would have handled the situation in the same way but this photographer knew his rights under the law and what current guidance to officers is.

The first officer called in reinforcements and in a town where the police turn a blind eye to child rape eventually arrested the photographer under The Terrorism Act. They had no legal right to do so and eventually they had to climb down and let the man go without any charge. If you do spend 37 minutes of your life with the video you will see how donning a police uniform turns too many people into out of control lawless liars.

Unfortunately the commentary - which is not by the photographer - contains quite a lot of unnecessary bad language. You have been warned.


Source video.


I only know two police officers personally, one retired and one resigned and both tell me stories which suggest that such behaviour is pretty much the norm. Mick Barnbrook is particularly good at telling me tales of corruption. Last time I met him he provided details of how valuable lost property can end up as the personal possessions of police officers. It’s not a particularly sophisticated fraud but it worked.

I don’t think the police are keen on taking in lost property any more. Probably just as well.

 

1 April (Part 1) - The police. Are they corrupt or simply incompetent beyond belief?

After I got hold of the statement that Maxine Fothergill had signed in December 2017 and analysed it sufficiently to realise that most of it was untrue, and easily proved so, I wrote to Kent Police with examples of her duplicity on 26th March 2018.

A response came on 17th April which said my allegation of crime had been forwarded to the Investigation Management Unit and I waited for their decision - and I waited!

By December I thought I had waited long enough and sent a reminder. The response when it eventually came was that I could be told nothing because I was not the victim of the alleged crime. How ridiculous is that?

I emailed the following rebuttal of that ludicrous suggestion on 14th January 2019.


1) It is my name that occurs 22 times in the largely untruthful statement Ms. Fothergill made at Swanley Police station on 29th December 2017.

2) It was me who Sergeant 11901 Robbie Cooke decided to charge after failing to check whether Ms. Fothergill’s opening remarks were untruthful, something he could have found to be the case with a few clicks on Bexley Council’s website. He also failed to notice obvious contradictions in the statement made against me.

3) It was me who was compelled to attend Swanley Police Station under threat of arrest for non-compliance for interview under caution on 18th December 2017.

4) It was to my house that PC 13546 Abbie Brookes made a personal visit to tell me of her Sergeant’s decision to charge me with harassment for reporting with meticulous accuracy how Bexley Council and the High Court had dealt with Ms. Fothergill’s activities.

5) It was my name that appeared on the Charge notice dated 30th January 2018 and delivered to my address.

6) It was me who had to put down a deposit of £3,600 with a firm of solicitors to prepare my defence.

7) It was my barrister to whom the Crown Prosecution Service sent advice on 5th March 2018 that they would not pursue the case against me.

8) It was me who was awarded £323.45 by Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court to offset my legal costs.

9) It was to me that a Kent Police Inspector sent an email advising that lessons must be learnt and that PC Abbie Brooks and her Sergeant Robbie Cooke should be given feed back as part of their development.

10) It was to me that your Professional Standards Department wrote on 29th July 2018 to contradict the Inspector’s view and claim that neither Brooks nor Cooke had done anything wrong.

11) It was me who was featured in Private Eye Issue No. 1466 which highlighted Fothergill’s “bullying” and the unwarranted charges brought by Kent Police.

Please let me know exactly who was the victim of Ms. Fothergill’s malicious statement if it was not me.


It was ignored totally. Exactly a month later I sent the email again with the same result.

Are you with me so far? I made an allegation of crime because I had become a victim of a demonstrably false signed written statement. I was promised an investigation but ten months later Kent Police told me that I was not the victim of any crime and were therefore not going to give me any information.

When given the evidence that I was the victim of the crime Kent Police decide to ignore me completely.

Adrian HarperI asked the Independent Office for Police Conduct for advice and they said I could make an allegation of Misconduct by Kent Police to the elected Crime Commissioner and one time Bexley Councillor Matthew Scott. You may have thought that Kent Police’s comprehension skills were lacking but they are not nearly as poor as the Crime Commissioner’s Chief Executive Adrian Harper. How do such people manage to get themselves into such powerful positions with a salary of £96,483 a year?

He said that there is no evidence that a Police Force that arrested three people and charged another on the say so of someone who has admitted to losing a very large sum of money is in any way untoward and that to ignore four or more serious allegations of crime by that same person is also perfectly ordinary. Ditto that to tell me that I am not the victim of crime in a case where lies led to me being summoned to Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court is in no way dishonest and no Police Officer is guilty of anything when he tells me that it must be someone else who was the victim.

Mr. Harper says that I know I am not the victim and I am therefore abusing the complaints process. The man has not bothered to look into any aspect of the case has he?

He also says that I am “circumventing the complaints process in an attempt to have Ms. Fothergill charged with a criminal offence”.

Mr. Harper knows nothing at all. I enquired about the year old allegation against Maxine Fothergill but never expected to get a positive outcome. I am absolutely sure that one can never get justice from the police, seven years negotiating with the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards taught me that. There is honesty there at the lower ranks but none that I saw higher up.

I couldn’t care less about seeing Maxine Fothergill in the dock, she trashed her reputation in the High Court in November 2017 and after the passage of time I have no interest in seeing it done again.

Harper completely fails to realise that the name of the game is proving beyond reasonable doubt that Kent Police and the people such as himself are incompetent to the extent it makes them look corrupt. Mr. Harper is making a magnificent job of proving that case.

Harper goes badly wrong when he says I “had a formal letter sent” from my MP Teresa Pearce in furtherance of my supposed vendetta against Maxine Fothergill. I have done no such thing. I did not ask for Ms. Pearce’s help when charged for something I had not done. I have not communicated with her in any way whatsoever about pursuing Maxine Fothergill for the crime alleged against her, and whilst I have from time to time wondered if I should seek her assistance in getting Kent Police to acknowledge that I was the victim of Ms. Fothergill's false statement, I have not in fact done so.

Mr. Harper is either making things up to suit himself or it is yet more evidence that he has made no effort to understand what has been going on. I know that Teresa Pearce wrote to The Police and Crime Commissioner on or about 21st February 2018 but I do not know what she said, I am only ware of the correspondence because she asked me if I knew of a certain email address and because she sent me the reply when it showed up a month later. I think it is fair to say that Adrian Harper gave her the brush off and she showed no sign of being impressed by him. By then the baseless charges against me had been dropped.

Harper then repeats himself in his two page letter by saying once again that I am abusing the complaints process. The man simply fails to understand that the complaint is very simple. I was charged with harassment because of a statement that was clearly false in several respects and Kent Police say that I was not its victim. Who was then? Mr. Harper and the Chief Constable persist in telling me that I was not the victim and that because of that they are refusing to respond to my enquiries.

The man is simply too stupid to recognise that that is the complaint but he then repeats his assertion that I am trying to put Maxine Fothergill behind bars. and for the third time that I am abusing the complaints process.

Maybe it is time to ask Teresa Pearce if she can get a rational explanation of how Kent Police and the clueless Adrian Harper believe that someone else was Maxine Fothergill’s intended victim?

 

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