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Bonkers Blog December 2019

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5 December (Part 1) - St. Catherine’s School strike

There was a time when I thought my extended family were all school teachers, eleven of them (only two male) with a school secretary and Council officer in the Waltham Forest education department thrown in for good measure. Retirement and mortality have taken that total down to three and the secretary but teachers used to form more than 50% of working adult family members.

Politically all were Pinkos to some extent, two of them fully paid up members of the Communist Party. In the 1960s and 70s they would regularly take mysterious expenses paid holidays in the U.S.S.R. I fear they were up to no good. My memory of that period is that the mildly Pink would complain that the Crimson ones were leading the profession to disaster. The net result is that I view the teaching profession with a good deal of suspicion and regard its malign indoctrination of the young as an affront to democracy.

For the record the school secretary and former Council officer are very far from being Pinkos now, with age comes the ability to see through the lure of the Left.

School strikeAbout a month ago I became aware of a teachers’ squabble at St. Catherine’s (Girls’ Catholic) School. I took little notice of it, didn’t even know where the school was and a bullying Head allegedly abusing her position seemed to be entirely typical of bosses promoted until they eventually reach a position of total incompetence. I was at work long enough to see how that system worked but it was not a Bonkers’ issue, Academies are nothing to do with Bexley Council.

However over the past handful of weeks I have been sent enough snippets of information from parents to persuade me that I should pass on their views. It is quite possible that I was not the only observer to draw all the wrong conclusions - or at least be totally unaware of how some parents feel about the situation.

I am told that here have been twelve strike days so far with four more scheduled. Can you imagine the disruption to family life that that will be causing to say nothing of the lost education?

As I understand it from comments received a letter was sent to parents at the start of the school year. It explained that due to staff dissatisfaction following a staff dismissal and two suspensions, the teachers would be striking on 28th October. A meeting with the teachers, Head, governors and the National Education Union (NEU) at the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) did not remedy matters so the strike went ahead.

The teachers claim is that staff were fired without due process. Independent investigations by outside HR companies upheld the dismissal but not one of the suspensions, a union rep. who has returned to work. I remember from my time at GPO/BT how it was almost impossible to sack a Union Rep.

The Union was demanding the reinstatement of two members of staff as the price of calling off their child damaging strikes.

At their daily pickets outside school, teachers and NEU members have apparently relished the opportunity to talk to the public about the “culture of fear” and “bullying” behaviour of the Head but no one reports them calling for her suspension or resignation which was one of the stories promulgated on Social Media.

A report sent to me says that the governors have received 34 complaints from staff about the Head since her appointment in September 2016. The governors investigated and the school trustees and their lawyers all deemed no further action was required and that the complaints ranged from those not warranting a suspension to the 100% “frivolous”. As an Academy, Bexley Council has no power to intervene.

The NEU does not represent all the teaching staff and so some are not striking, some are said to vehemently oppose the strike. Apparently the “culture of fear” does not impinge on non-NEU members. Strange that.

Meanwhile, parents on Social Media have been splitting into various factions. A deep divide has been created with frenzied calls to topple the Head on one side and suspicion of teachers and unions reminiscent of my own forming on the other.

A small but growing group are forming a counter-protest on strike days opposite the picket line. Parents are finding it hard to know where to turn for help. The Diocese has been told not to get involved.

All parents are naturally very worried about their children’s lost education. Has a strike of this length ever been seen at a British school before?.

After a meeting with Governors where some parents insisted on further investigation of the Head the NEU inexplicably moved the goalposts from requiring reinstatements to insisting a second investigation could not go ahead and the strike could not be ended until the Head is suspended. Only that would enable a second investigation.

The Governors convened an emergency meeting this week and voted unanimously not to suspend the Head as there is no evidence of any wrongdoing. With three of them having daughters at the same school they presumably know exactly what the true situation is. A very recent communication says three striking teachers returned to work yesterday.

A Conservative Councillor told me that the Labour candidate in Bexleyheath and Crayford, Anna Day, has been joining the picket line and backing the NEU. A sure sign of how a Corbyn victory in a week’s time will take us straight back to the 1970s and freebie trips to Moscow.

So for now it is stalemate with neither side willing to move. The teachers are at pains to explain this is “not about the girls”, but it’s hard to see how the students are not the ones suffering the most.

With thanks to various contributors for their insight into what appears to be going on. If there is another side to this story I have not heard it directly but there are some Social Media comments to be read. @ST_CCSPG and @OfficalVeritas for example.


4 December (Part 2) - Why are we waiting. Oh, why are we waiting?

Gayton Road

Bexley Council's Legal Notice regarding Gayton Road dated 19th September 2018.

Gayton Road

Gayton Road unfinished and barricaded. Photographed from the Western end today.

Gayton Road

Gayton Road unfinished and stairs still closed. Photographed from the Eastern end today.

Photo history of Gayton Road.


4 December (Part 1) - Has Singh moved in?

Leather Bottle site Leather Bottle siteIf you are familiar with the history of the Leather Bottle site you will need no explanatory introduction and if you are not aware of it you are probably uninterested in this recent development.

The site which has had two planning applications rejected so far has been an eyesore for the past three years but that hasn’t deterred someone from moving in to live there. Probably not travellers in the accepted sense, the ratio of caravans to Transit vans is a little too low.

More likely to be one of Kulvinder Singh’s work mates if I had to guess.

If you do wish to catch up with the history of Ye Olde Leather Bottle a list of related blogs may be seen here.

Registration numbers visible in original photographs are White Fiat Ducato WR55 BYM, White Mercedes RJ04 WTU, White Transit EJ54 HCF, Red Transit LJ06 PVU, Peugeot Boxer Van number partially obscured by fence in Photo 2 but Photo 1 suggests VK05 LYU and Trafic caravanette L115 MSO. Which of these will be legal?


3 December - Reliably spiteful

TweetStill no election leaflets from the main parties. One from the Brexit Party two weeks or more ago and that’s it, however Councillor Philip Read reveals that there is at least a letter circulating from Abena Oppong-Asare but as yet I have no evidence that the Conservative General Election candidate has written anything at all.

Clicking on Councillor Read’s Tweet will reveal a very poor copy of Abena’s letter and you will need to be reading this on a big screen to have any chance of deciphering it. Using a direct link to might be a better bet.

The original criticism of the letter by @L_J_Hodson is not an unreasonable one; why is the name Corbyn or the word Brexit not mentioned in Erith & Thamesmead’s Labour literature but Philip Read says the whole letter is nonsense. He is entitled to that view but I think I would have used a different word; ‘unconvincing’ perhaps.

Read being Read goes on to criticise Abena’s record as a Councillor. It is true that she was one of the quieter ones earning only 17 mentions on Bonkers. If that is a measure of success as a Councillor I should mention that this blog takes Councillor Read’s score to over 900 so obviously it is not.

For the record here is a list of blogs in which the Councillor Oppong-Asare’s name cropped up. Judge for yourself whether or not Councillor Read is right. Were there ‘No Positive Ideas’?

6th June 2014 - 27th July 2014 - 10th October 2014 - 11th November 2014 - 9th March 2015 - 2nd April 2015 - 27th September 2015 - 7th November 2015 - 19th January 2016 - 15th April 2016 - 26th April 2016 - 25th October 2016 - 26th October 2016 - 4th May 2017 - 2nd September 2017 - 19th April 2018 - 22nd April 2018.


2 December - Decluttering Bonkers

This is barely worth mentioning but it is possible that someone will be puzzled by it…

The pale green background to Bonkers’ text which appeared when viewing on small screens (480 pixels wide and fewer) has been replaced by white. The barely visible Bexley Council logo that used to overlay the green has gone too.


1 December - West Street Park sold. The protests continue

West Street Park West Street Park West Street ParkWest Street Park is the green you pass on a 229 or 469 bus from Belvedere just before the stop for Erith Station. I went there yesterday on the invitation of Erith Think Tank whose people I have met two or three times, I was a little surprised to find none of them there. As far as I could tell the protest event was being run by Extinction Rebellion; as such the police soon showed up to see if they had any Super Glue with them.

I stood around minding my own business while imagining what the area might be like once Bexley Council has concreted over the only green oasis within somewhat grim surroundings. It wasn’t a pleasant thought but Bexley Council will not be concerned by that, no Councillor was sufficiently interested to put in an appearance.

I eavesdropped a few conversations, none of them complimentary but maybe some were misinformed. “They steal the land from the people, they sell it to themselves, quickly nod through the planning permission, build low grade housing, sell it and spend the money on improving Bexleyheath and Bexley” was the general theme.

There is some truth in it but maybe planning permission is not as easy as stated. BexleyCo, Bexley Council’s less than successful property developer came a cropper with their Wilde Road development. It was thrown out by the Planning Committee twice and wasted a great deal of money which so far at least is all that BexleyCo has been good at.

I hung around to witness the tree planting ceremony but it was a bit of a non-event. A hole was dug, some compost added and a small beech tree carefully put in place and nobody took any notice of it. 20 photos have been added to the Index of Photo features.

BexleyCo’s latest in a line of failed managing Directors is Graham Ward, he who has been signing the Traffic Orders for the past couple of years. I suppose the thinking is that his schemes have fleeced motorists out of a lot of money let’s see if he can work some sort of miracle at BexleyCo. The alternative is another Thames Innovations Centre/Engine House money pit.


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