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Bonkers Blog January 2019

Index: 20092010201120122013201420152016201720182019

Undated - Grab yourself a quick hundred quid. No catch!

BulbI expect most readers are aware of the cheaper green energy deals available from some of the less established utility companies and one of the best known is called Bulb. Probably that’s because they give new customers referred by friends a strings free £50. There is no minimum contract period so if you don’t like it you can leave without penalty at any time, not that there is any very obvious reason to do so as they are currently the cheapest for most users in this part of the world and £50 goes a long way towards making up the small difference even if there is one.

The reason for mentioning it here is that for one week only you can get a £100 welcome bonus which will make switching a no-brainer for anyone who hasn’t very recently switched provider.

All you have to do is to join up using this link - www.bulb.co.uk/refer/malcolm5416 - no other will do and it must only be used between Thursday 17th January and Wednesday 23rd January inclusive. Outside those dates you will have to make do with a less generous £50.

I must confess that I will additionally get the same monetary bonus. If anyone makes the switch I intend to put the proceeds (up to a limit of £1,000) towards the cost of defending myself against the ill-informed prosecution brought on behalf of Maxine Fothergill by Kent Police and any excess to be divided between the two Greenwich based bloggers who were so very supportive. I will also repay the donations from those well wishers the identity of whom I managed to track down.

If an unexpectedly large sum was raised the money would be distributed equally among myself and the aforesaid bloggers.

Note: This blog is coded such that it should appear at the top of the January month page until after 23rd January anyway. I think it will likely screw up the Today function; oh well, but see link below.

Today’s blog.

 

16 January - My second referendum

I don’t see any need for a second referendum following Calamity May’s deserved humiliation last night, I’ve conducted my own with the aid of family members and an Excel spreadsheet.

There were only 19 of us in 2016 so the sample is necessarily small but on 23rd June they split 10:9 in favour of leaving. That’s 52·63% Out and 47·37% Remain. The country as a whole said almost exactly the same thing.

Since then some of the more extreme Remainers have had their wish that the older family members should go away and die come true, three of them, all Leavers, have done exactly that.

One Remainer has been extremely vocal referring to Leavers as stupid and thick at one end of the abuse spectrum and fascists, Nazis and racists at the other. Another firmly believes that all the abuse comes from the Leave side and not long ago I was subjected to a lengthy phone call about it.

Elsewhere three Remainers have simply accepted the situation and one who runs his own business has plans to open a branch in Dublin if he has to.

Two other Remainers have been so shocked by the undemocratic activities on both sides of la Manche they have switched to being Leavers.

However death has not been the only cause of population changes because there has been a marriage and a shacking up together so we are back up to eighteen in number.

The divide is now 10:8 which is 55·56% Leave to 44·44% Remain.

These champions of a people’s vote should not count their chickens and unless they can swing things their way by a massive majority they will be creating more divisions. They will have already demonstrated that single figure majorities don’t count. Nothing will have been achieved.

15 January - The lamest police excuse yet

Last Friday I received a letter from the Chief Constable of Kent’s Staff Officer explaining why he totally ignored my allegation that former Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill was attempting to pervert the course of justice when she signed a statement I believe to be largely false on 29th December 2017. I was informed that I was not the victim of her statement and therefore have no rights whatsoever.

That is of course a nonsense excuse. An allegation of crime should be treated with a degree of seriousness without the complainant necessarily being the victim. If that were not so Mick Barnbrook’s complaints could not have put several MPs behind bars. Presumably no murder victim could receive any form of justice and I should I no longer call 999 if I witness a robbery.

More to the point, how could I not be the victim of Maxine Fothergill’s statement? I sent the following email to the Chief Constable’s shield yesterday…


For the attention of Miss Sonya Gransden

In your letter dated 8th January 2019 you state that I am not the victim of former Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill’s criminal intent and that because of that you are “not obliged to provide any update”.

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.

My letter of 18th December 2018 said I would refer the case to the Independent Office for Police Conduct “this time next month”. That remains the cut off date while no satisfactory response is forthcoming from the Chief Constable.

Malcolm Knight

 

14 January - Ruxley Corner. Accident blackspot

Accident Accident AccidentMaidstone Road is fast becoming an accident blackspot. There was one there last week and another this afternoon.

There have been several in the past. In 2017 and in 2018.

Early indications are that this one at 2 p.m. today may not be directly related to Bexley Council’s poor roundabout design. The speculation was an oil spillage or similar and the road was blocked and access to Maidstone Road was still impossible at 16:50.


The pictures by John Watson were taken from some distance away from the scene and severely cropped, hence the loss of quality. As usual, click for larger copies.

 

12 January - Transport issues

There will be a meeting of Bexley Council’s Transport Users’ Sub-Committee meeting next Wednesday, it may be moderately interesting and we will be given some rather out of date road accident statistics.

HeathrowWe shall also hear about cycling and bus services and rail services too if anyone from Southeastern or Network Rail bothers to turn up.

What we won’t hear about is aircraft and in particular the noise that they create.

Right now Heathrow airport is running a consultation about how their plans for more flights and in particular more early morning flights will affect residents. Their post code checker says mine will be affected and probably the whole of Bexley borough will be.

Maybe Bexley Council should make an official submission to the Heathrow consultation.


Bus shelter Bus shelterPerhaps Bexley Council should also be making a formal submission to Transport for London for being a major contributory factor in the Harrow Manorway flyover reconstruction not being completed on time.

Leaving aside that the job should have been finished last June Bexley Council eventually said it would be completed by Christmas, and then at the very last minute that it really would be done early in the New Year.

All this week no one has been working on the flyover and maybe it is not worthwhile doing anything until TfL finishes building their cheap and not very cheerful bus shelters.

These two photos were taken a whole month apart. In fact the last time the daily photo outings showed someone working there was 7th December.

Parking Two wayBeneath the flyover work progresses in Gayton Road although its mirror image to the north of the railway line, Felixstowe Road, has not yet been touched despite the originally planned start date being November 2017.

The work is nicely done and the design as far as one can tell will be a big improvement on what has gone before but locals are concerned by Gayton Road’s closure forecast for next month.

The plan is that the adjacent Wilton Road will temporarily be made two way. That should be interesting as vehicles attempt U-turns.

I put it to three Conway men engaged in an on-site meeting that as the block work in Gayton Road looks to be twice as long as the one at the end of Overton Road - which took five weeks - that we can expect a two month closure of Gayton Road. They nodded agreement.

Unfortunately they had no idea what would happen in Wilton Road when the exit from it was blocked, they appeared not to have thought about it.

If I had been quicker on the draw with my camera I could have pictured the scenes shown here three times last week. Wrong way driving happens most days.

 

11 January (Part 2) - You don’t have to be an idiot to rise to the top of Kent Police…

TweetYou have heard it said here before but you cannot ever expect honesty from an organisation that investigates itself. They know that ultimately they can get away with any act of dishonesty with impunity.

On that basis I wrote to the Chief Constable of Kent on 18th December to ask for a progress report on my ten month old allegation of crime against former Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill and the allocation of a crime number.

To briefly recap, Maxine Fothergill signed a lengthy statement of mainly lies which she hoped might put me behind bars for revealing her expensive libel losses in the High Court.

Those lies caused the less than competent Sergeant Robbie Cooke (11901) to charge me with harassment. His Inspector wrote to me to say he should be given guidance to ensure it didn’t happen to anyone else but as far as I know it never happened because Kent’s Directorate of Professional Standards decided that police officers were entitled to believe that factual news reporting is a crime.

As a result of Cooke’s ignorance I was charged with that crime and summoned to appear at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court.

Maxine Forthergill’s exaggerations and lies gave me three months of sleepless nights and caused a £3,600 bill for legal services. (Some of it subsequently returned.)

When the Crown Prosecution Service looked at the papers the day before I was due in Court they wasted no time in dropping the case and eventually the Court made an order for costs in my favour. A whole £324 of it.

Fothergill knew that making a false statement to the police is a crime because she placed her signature above the warning notice; so what excuse would Kent’s Chief Constable come up with for not pursuing a prosecution against her?

Prepare to be amazed.

Apparently I have no right to make enquiries because I was not the victim of her criminal intent. Who do they think might have been?

Ingenious or what? You couldn’t make it up but Kent Police somehow managed it.

Not a victim

 

11 January (Part 1) - Seeking the stamp of approval

As forecast there was no way I could look at the plans for the Abbey Wood Post Office site yesterday, they were on show for only four hours more than a mile or a 12 minute bus ride away.

Fortunately Bonkers has friends who were prepared to make the trek.
PO redevelopment

Click the image for more photos.

Social Media posts were almost universally negative although perhaps more criticism is aimed at the consultation process and the developer’s inability to answer questions than the building itself. (The lack of proof reading is once again appalling.)

To my mind it looks far more appropriate to the local scene than the skyscraper that Peabody planned to put up across the road.

Peabody will be exhibiting its revised plans in the much more convenient Abbey Wood Community Centre next week. Thursday 17th January from 15:30 to 19:30 and Saturday 19th from 10:00 to 13:30.

The Post Office will close permanently next Wednesday and no nearby alternative is available.

 

9 January (Part 2) - No Crossrail extension - not yet anyway

It’s not really a surprise given the mess that Crossrail has got itself into but there’s not going to be a Crossrail extension to Ebbsfleet any time soon. It will presumably put much of Bexley’s Growth Strategy on ice until the problems are resolved. Most probably several years of deferment at best.
Crossrail
Click the image for more info.

 

9 January (Part 1) - Scammers everywhere

In a diversion from Bonkers’ usual fare and with apologies to Hugh Neal it today brings you news of a scam, the sort of thing more often catalogued on Hugh’s Arthur Pewty’s Maggot Sandwich.

This one has nothing to do with cold calling but is very much a practical crime and this abbreviated account is lifted from an original article written by a retired police officer in a Bromley Residents’ magazine. I found it particularly shocking and different, hence its appearance here.


A lady went to the toilet in the Bluewater branch of John Lewis and hung her handbag on the hook on the toilet door. A hand appeared over the top of the cubicle and took the bag. By the time the lady was able to exit the cubicle the thief had long gone.

She informed the head of store security and he in turn the store manager.

Two days later she received a call from the head of security to say her bag had been found but the purse was missing. She arranged an appointment to go back to Bluewater to collect it.

On arrival at John Lewis’s neither the manager nor head of security was expecting her. No one had phoned her.

When the lady got home her house had been burgled, the driving licence had revealed the address and her own keys allowed easy entry.


I think a lot of people might fall for that one, so be careful. The most usual scams probably involve unsolicited phone calls and bank transfers. My phone is fixed such that unless the incoming number is on an approved list the callers either get told where to go or they have to jump through various hoops which keeps almost all the scammers away.

A childhood friend enjoys stringing the phone scammers along sometimes for 20 minutes or more. She especially likes the callers who tell her that her computer is about to explode or similar. She hasn’t got one, in fact until about ten years ago she didn’t even have a TV.

Keeping a scammer occupied for 20 minutes seems to me like a valuable public service.

 

8 January - A tangled web

I shouldn’t be surprised that the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent is no stranger to Bexley-is-Bonkers given his political connections with Bexley Council and maybe that is why his Chief Executive has written to me.

Wikipedia

He doesn’t like my letter to the Chief Constable of Kent in which I complain that he has not responded to an allegation of crime I made nearly ten months ago. Not a word has been received from the Chief Constable, not to the original complaint (apart from a grudging acknowledgement when chased for one), not to the December 2018 reminder either but at least the Crime Commissioner knows something about it now.

The PCC’s complaint is that I have been making “groundless allegations” to the effect that Kent Police are acting under their instructions. Why would they come to that conclusion from an expression of concern? Is the PCC’s Chief Executive always so careless in his choice of words?

If he really thought I made an unfounded allegation would he not have at the very least asked for it to be removed? A reasonable person might have written that he was concerned that some people might misinterpret my public comment and request a revision or explanatory note but in my experience such people rarely consider that other people might be more conciliatory and cooperative than they are. To allay the Chief Executive’s fears I have added an addendum to the blog although he hasn’t requested one.

This is what my letter to the Chief Constable of Kent said…

Letter

Of course I am concerned that a politician may seek to influence the police, it happens all the time. Here in Bexley it has happened many times.

TimesA Bexley Detective Sergeant told Elwyn Bryant and me that one of their investigations was “crippled by political interference”. The defence papers in the case where another Bexley blogger was prosecuted for using the C word on Twitter makes a direct reference to senior Bexley Councillors asking the police to silence Bonkers.

The final report from the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards on the Craske obscenities complaint makes reference to the political interference into police investigations in Bexley and I have a copy of a letter between the police and Bexley Council which pretty much proves that political interference in police investigations is a fact of life - or at least it was.

The Times newspaper last Saturday reported how Sandwell Council seeks to influence the police; why would I not be concerned that the same may happen in Kent?

It is at times like this that I fervently wish I could reveal a little of what has been happening with the Daniel Morgan review panel. For those who don’t know, I have family connections with Daniel Morgan, a private investigator who was seriously concerned about the corruption - drugs, robberies, fit ups etc. perpetrated by the Metropolitan Police. If you don’t know about it Google ‘Daniel Morgan Untold Murder’. Read the books, listen to the podcasts, one of them entirely sponsored by me.

It became known that Daniel was about to spill the beans and the Met Police retaliated by organising his murder. There is no doubt about it and if the enquiry ever concludes - scheduled to take one year, now well into its sixth - everyone will know just how corrupt the Metropolitan Police was and still is.

The corruption has run right up to Met. Commissioner level and into other police forces too all of it aided by a succession of gullible Home Secretaries who believed their stories. Until Mrs. May came along that is and looked into things. Shortly afterwards she made that somewhat notorious address to the Police Federation. I have often wondered if there was a connection with what she had learned of the Daniel Morgan case but I genuinely do not know.

However I would be amazed if she did not have a pretty good idea of how corrupt senior police officers can be.

If the Daniel Morgan report is ever brought to public attention it should help to destroy what remains of the Metropolitan Police's reputation, not that that is a good thing but they will have brought it upon themselves. They already admit it is the biggest police corruption scandal ever.

And why did I start that paragraph with an If? It is because the media is inextricably mired in the same corruption. The Panel’s report might not hit every paper’s front page.

Note: As Mick Barnbrook (@sleazebuster) has discovered, commenting on the police is a wonderful way of increasing web visitors and Twitter followers. Maybe I should do it more often.

 

6 January (Part 2) - Trust no one

Former Bexley Councillor Katie Perrior was not much cop when running the Council’s Children’s services allowing her successor Philip Read to bask in the glory of a glowing improved OFSTED report. She used to claim to be an impoverished single parent while being the founder of one of the country’s premier public relations companies.

Since then she went on to work for Prime Minister Theresa May and to my mind slightly redeemed her reputation by falling out badly with her. Now that row has escalated and dragged in MI6 and President Trump.

Read all about it here.

 

6 January (Part 1) - Sandwell Council on the skids

Some rather disturbing events in Sandwell which is near Birmingham made me think back on how exposure to scrutiny by Social Media appears to have changed Bexley Council very considerably. The past couple of years, Fothergill aside, have been verging on the uneventful.

When Bonkers began in 2009 Bexley Council was almost unimaginably nuts, some might say crooked. I thought so before I was reported to the police for “criticising Councillors” which merely confirmed it. Another blogger was reported for using the C word on Twitter without aiming it at any identifiable person. In no particular order, let’s list some more funny business.


• Bexley Council blocked a Bridle Way without notifying the Secretary of State as required by law. They persuaded a Police Officer to provide some false crime statistics to support their extraordinary decision.
• The parking department drew up a phoney contract with their enforcement contractor and their bailiffs which included unlawful incentives alongside a legal contract to bamboozle the gullible. When Bexley’s finance people found out they were mad about it. I have a copy of their internal report which I chose not to publish. Too late now I suppose.
• Bexley Council was unable to produce the certification for the first of their camera equipped parking enforcement vehicles and without it they were operating and penalising motorists illegally.
• Two children and an adult died in part due to Bexley Council management failures. The cover ups nearly succeeded but a couple of pricked consciences came to the fore and upset Bexley’s apple cart.
• Bexley Council employed a charged - and later convicted - paedophile in an office to which children had access but sacked the employee who complained about their inaction.
• A Bexley Council manager used its CCTV system to monitor a colleague who she was not getting on with. When the victim took action to restore her reputation the manager falsified the records - which I saw for myself - and her victim was sacked.
• Councillor Craske thought he would get away with writing obscenities about me and three other people. He did get away with it despite or maybe because of evidence of a crooked relationship between Bexley Council and Bexley Police. A Detective Sergeant also referred to the political interference. All that remains of the case is Councillor Craske’s indelibly stained reputation.
• Councillor Cheryl Bacon made a silly procedural error while running a Scrutiny meeting, a mistake which would have been long forgotten except that Bexley Council decided it should lie about it and send those lies to the local press. Their legal people, the Chief Executive and the HR Manager all repeatedly lied in support of Cheryl Bacon. Unfortunately for them the Police report did not support their untruthful accounts and neither did the Councillors who witnessed events. Not one of them supported the lies and four made written contradictory statements. A year after the event the Police were made to alter their report to better fit in with the Council’s story. Unfortunately for everyone who had lied it didn’t fit very well and resulted in a formal complaint to Scotland Yard. Naturally it was air-brushed into oblivion.
• It was discovered that the Council’s Monitoring Officer did not possess the qualifications required by his job description and Bexley Council sheltered itself from scrutiny by labelling their principal critic vexatious.
• It labelled another critic vexatious when he asked the Chief Executive if Bexley Council always obeyed the law of the land and she refused to reply. They also employed an expensive lawyer to silence him.
• The former Deputy Leader went on BBC TV to describe how a resident had run amok in the Council Chamber. It was a tissue of lies and the Deputy Leader couldn’t have known what he was talking about because he wasn’t present at the meeting he described.


The good news is that with only one or two exceptions the managers who pushed through all the dishonesty have gone, with fat payouts no doubt, but gone nevertheless. So has the aforesaid Deputy Leader.

Looking back on those events I wonder if those involving the police had just one thing in common and that thing gave Bexley Council the confidence to widely flout decency and the law.

The former Chief Executive Will Tuckley came from Croydon to Bexley and brought along with him Croydon’s Police Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer. When Will Tuckley moved to Tower Hamlets guess who went with him? Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer. A year or so ago Will Tuckley was caught up in a £2 million bribery scandal in Tower Hamlets, not that he was directly implicated of course but the allegation was that he knew about it for six months before finding himself with no alternative but to report it to the police. By that time Chief Superintendent Stringer had left Tower Hamlets under a cloud.

Three identical job location moves seems like one hell of a coincidence. Maybe reporting me to the police in 2011, charging the blogger who used the C word, letting Councillor Craske off the hook for his obscenities and falsifying the Police accounts of Cheryl Bacon’s Scrutiny meeting were all linked to a cosy relationship between Tuckley and Stringer.

Certainly after the pair of them left things resumed a more normal course. When Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling was asked to investigate the lies told on behalf of Councillor Bacon he wisely shunted it over to Greenwich Police. When Councillor Don Massey reported me to the police for harassment I wrote to the then Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe to ensure he knew the facts of the matter and the case was dropped.

Since then there have been two more Borough Commanders neither of whom has from my viewpoint put a foot wrong. The police in Sandwell may also be slowly learning that jumping at every command of the local Council is not a good use of resources.

In Sandwell a blogger by the name of Julian Saunders has been making Bonkers’ style comments about his local Council and its Labour Leader Steve Eling threatened his police chief with a report to the Home Office on contempt charges if he did not immediately arrest Mr. Saunders.

James Morris MP has said in the Commons that Sandwell Council is “synonymous with incompetence, corruption and cronyism”. Mr. Saunders has been interviewed by the police on three occasions and he has in the past accused it of using the police for “purely political reasons”. Just like the Bexley Council of old.

Mr. Saunders may have been unwise to call people Dickheads (†) even when they act like one but is it really that much worse than ‘twerp’ which has been used both by me and Bexley Councillors recently?

The police have asked Labour Leader Steve Eling to stop wasting their time and that it was not their job to stop someone posting “upsetting information that does not pose any wider threat to you or other Councillors”. Can we say thank goodness for a police force which still acts sensibly as Bexley’s may have been doing since the Tuckley/Stringer relationship ended? It looks like that may be premature.

TweetMr. Saunders’ blog is The Sandwell Skidder. In it he claims that he was interviewed under caution and after the police had told Mr. Eling to go away for the Tweet shown here which if true would appear to be an extreme abuse of power by the West Midlands police force. Mr. Saunders thinks they are acting under political duress.

Despite the belated recognition by at least one West Midland officer that the Labour Leader should grow up Mr. Saunders has been charged with using a rude word on Twitter.

When the C word was used in Bexley the judge in Woolwich Crown Court said it was no longer considered to be grossly offensive.

The Sandwell case being sub judice I will make no comment here except to say it all gets very complicated, as no doubt the Fothergill case did for many people.

Probably Julian Saunders’ blog uses rather stronger language than Bonkers did even in its heyday but the basics remains the same, a Council that does not like being in the spotlight.

Bexley still doesn’t and I don’t know why. Its policies are almost never criticised here as I regard that as a matter for the ballot box and whilst it may have one of the highest Council Tax rates in London it is a very long way from being its worst Council.

Would I rather live in Tory Barnet or Labour Greenwich or Newham? No I definitely would not.

It’s just the constant lying that lets Bexley down.

† The asterisked word c*ksucker comes into the case somewhere.

 

5 January - When the letters P and O stand for Pee Off?

As you will probably know by now, Wilton Road is the location of my nearest shops and it consists of about 22 businesses which struggle to survive the onslaught of five years of disruption by construction projects and the neglect of two councils. The border between Bexley and Greenwich goes straight down the middle of the road.

However despite the nondescript nature of Wilton Road it has two stand out features. At one end is a railway station designed to be the terminus of the Elizabeth line which I once heard a senior Crossrail project manager describe as the jewel in its crown. (Obviously trying to curry favour with the inconvenienced populace but at least unlike many its counterparts further up the line it is more or less ready for use.)

At the other end is a Post Office - and what is special about that? It’s a Crown Post Office and to find another in London you will have to spend half an hour on a train and ten minutes on foot because the next nearest is at London Bridge.

Both the station and the Post Office are strictly speaking in the borough of Greenwich - the boundary lies pretty well exactly on the line of the ticket barriers and only its main entrance lies in Bexley. The Post Office lies entirely in the Royal Borough but both are very important to a large number of Bexley residents.

On 16th January the Post Office will be permanently closed and inevitably someone has plans to build flats on the site. That someone has decided to consult with residents but unlike Peabody which has similar plans for the empty site across the road they do not appear to welcome informed comment from local people.

Post OfficePeabody held their consultation next door to the Post Office not 30 metres from their empty site. Not so the Post Office developers.

They have chosen to consult the public a mile away as the crow flies in Penmon Road, Abbey Wood. That’s twelve stops and ten minutes on a bus that runs only every 15 minutes. The 469.

As you can see from the leaflet it is open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. for one day only, next Thursday.

I am unable to attend that day so I hope at least one of you will make the effort and send over a few photos and any literature that might be available. If nothing else it will be interesting to see if they used the same proof reader as they did for the consultation leaflet.

One cannot help but think that consulting in a location largely unaffected by their plans is a deliberate ploy worthy of Bexley Council itself. It seems hard to believe that the Community Hall next door to the Post Office (on the left of the picture) was not available on any single day this month.

Next time I see the manager out and about I will ask her.

 

3 January (Part 2) - Following Elwyn

Long term readers may remember that Elwyn Bryant was the man with whom I was falsely accused on a blog of having homosexual relations in Bexley’s Civic Centre and leaving the place in a sticky mess. Our accuser was Cabinet Member Peter Craske and the police traced the source of the story to his IP address as well as finding the text on his computer along with another similar in nature.

Craske may be a disgusting individual but what is far more concerning is that his judgment can be so poor and that we have in Teresa O’Neill a Council Leader who thinks it is perfectly OK to appoint someone like him to a senior position. Some might question why he passes the Conservative Party’s candidate selection process.

For new readers I should add that Craske was arrested and the source of the offensive accusation was proved to be his internet connection and the same blog was found on his computer. There was also clear evidence that Bexley Council and Bexley Police conspired to ensure no charges would be brought. Both the Metropolitan Police and the Independent Office for Police Conduct refused to comment on that, to do so might have confirmed the view of the Detective Sergeant in Bexley, that the case was mired in political interference.

But enough of that, where does Elwyn fit into this blog?

A couple of months ago he had a nasty fall and it will be a long time before he recovers sufficiently to actively engage with Bexley Council. To help pass the time, a mutual friend, Mick Barnbrook, suggested he participated in Twitter. Mick is a bit of an expert at Twitter and has rapidly attracted 8,000 followers through criticising various authority figures, notably Theresa May and Cressida Dick, while making the most of his retired police officer status.

After several nudges in the right direction Elwyn found an eleven year old willing to set up a Twitter account for him and @elwyn211 was born. Twitter added the numerical suffix, there must be more Elwyns than one might guess.

Elwyn lives in James Brokenshire’s constituency and I am probably not misrepresenting him if I say that his opinion of his MP has been on a downward slide for several years. It may have started when Elwyn was trying to get the police to take his complaint about Peter Craske’s obscene blog seriously and James Brokenshire said it would be “inappropriate” for him to offer assistance. I suppose doing something that could have put a political colleague behind bars might be difficult and dishonourable members must always put party before constituents.

By contrast my MP Teresa Pearce twice gave me the use of her office in Portcullis House to meet with police officers.

TweetElwyn has not yet become a prolific Tweeter like @sleazebuster Mick but he did vent his annoyance at James Brokenshire’s Conservative Association website backing Theresa May’s EU surrender plan for which he received far more likes that BiB’s Tweets ever do.

He has a good point that Old Bexley and Sidcup Conservative Association backing May’s Brexit In Name Only agreement pokes two fingers up at Brokenshire’s constituents who voted 63% in favour of EU withdrawal however in the spirit of fairness I would guess the Association didn’t have much say in the matter.

A click on the OBSCA web link will take you to the nonsense posted on their Central Office website for which one cannot entirely blame James Brokenshire.

The same link may be found on every other local Conservative Association website I have checked including that of David Evennett in Bexleyheath and Crayford who has taken a far more democratic position on Brexit than his constituency neighbour.

The summary of the Withdrawal Agreement to which OBSCA links contains at least two phrases which must surely must make it totally unacceptable. “Commits both sides to use best endeavours to ensure the backstop is never used” and “Either the UK or the EU can trigger to review the arrangements, which could ultimately lead to the backstop ceasing to apply”. Could and best endeavours. Ugh!

If I was to be generous towards Theresa May’s betrayal of the referendum result I might say it could be the best we were likely to get from a Remainer who undermined successive Brexit Secretaries for two years but her agreement relies too much on the goodwill of European politicians who will act only in the best interests of themselves and will not give a thought to the well being of Great Britain. Only people with no pride in themselves or their country could possibly want to belong to such a club.

I might question whether the EU Withdrawal Agreement has the full support of the OBSCA, their members include Councillors (perhaps they should think about updating the list) who are just as much in favour of Brexit as Elwyn is.

However it is hard to disagree with Elwyn’s final point; unless the Conservatives show themselves to be in favour of democracy within the next few weeks it will certainly be a case of ‘Never vote Tory again’.

 

3 January (Part 1) - Friends and foes

On 1st January Bonkers started the year with a blog which could be interpreted as being pro-Conservative and on the second was somewhat critical of Labour politicians. I like to do that when I can because it may demonstrate that BiB is not a branch of the Labour party. Such blogs do of course run the risk of upsetting local Labourites but that is just tough, reporting what I believe to be the truth has to come first.

TweedledumIn practice nothing changes. Yesterday I exchanged messages with two of Bexley’s eleven Labour Councillors. They were related to the two January blogs but neither took issue with the position I had adopted, experience has shown that they are bigger than that. Not so their Tory counterparts Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee who run the Bexley Conservatives’ Twitter account. They returned to their regular theme of referring to me as a Labour supporter who has said something particularly silly.

A month ago they claimed I said that Crossrail has sounded the death knell for Abbey Wood when the truth was that I said it had sounded the death knell for Abbey Wood as we used to know it and went on to say what a good thing it was.


TweetYesterday @bexleynews was at it again.

Unlike readers I can easily conduct searches of the entire website so I looked for occurrences of the word dim and found it 16 times, exactly half of them since the decision was taken to replace the sodium lights with LED.

Only three such uses of the word referred to the new lighting. The first related how when first driving home after LED installation I found my own road looked dimmer than before and how I struggled to find the keyhole in my own front door. My camera told me that the LEDs were only half as bright as those that went before.

The next use of the word dim was four months later when I made a reference to my initial reaction being that the lamps looked dim but twice said I was in favour of the changeover and that I have grown to like them.

The third and last time that the LED lights were labelled dim was when it was reported that Bexley Council itself admitted they were dim.

An email from Bexley Council signed off by Josephine Hollier - yes there is a connection with the temporary Monitoring Officer - made it very clear that the LEDs are dim when compared with sodium lighting. Only 8,800 Lumens instead of 18,000. There can be no arguing with that. The LED lighting is comparatively dim despite Bexley Councillors claiming they are brighter.

But that is not what Tweedle Dum and his brother are saying. Their claim is that their favourite Labour supporter said “reducing Council running costs was a dim idea”. As usual they are lying because they know no other form of existence.

Nowhere has Bonkers said that LED lighting is a dim idea, I even paid extra to have them fitted on the new motor; the only objection has been to Councillors making false claims about them.

Incidentally, until 1964 there was a street lamp exactly like the one shown here right outside my house and throughout all the neighbouring streets. A man came around on a bike carrying a ladder to switch them on each evening and presumably off in the morning although I do not remember that.

I must be getting very old. A few years beforehand some of my school mates still had acetylene lamps on their bikes. (Google it.)

 

2 January - To pay or not to pay?

TweetEvery year on the second of January I am reminded of the hypocrisy of politicians. At railway stations both locally and across the country we see Labour people complaining about the Tories increasing rail fares in line with inflation. And who was it who introduced that escalator? It was Labour Transport Secretary Maria Eagle in 2004.

Not that it was exactly as it is now, Labour increased fares by RPI plus 1% until 2010 following which the Coalition, after briefly considering a more extortionate formula removed the 1%. Under the Labour formula fares would be ten percent higher now than they are today.

The fact that Labour activists have today been impeding travellers with their leaflets and vacuous slogans is why so many of us have no time for politicians at all. That said, rail fares can be utterly ridiculous. My last rail journey was Haslemere to approximately Surbiton, the Freedom Pass boundary and it cost £16 single. Maybe not so very bad but the train ran 80 minutes late and was terminated early at Woking. From there standing room only to Waterloo.

Over the holiday period I travelled 376 miles in comfort for absolutely nothing. Three months ago I bought an electric car and public chargers are plentiful in London (for the small number of electric cars presently on the road) and mainly free to use. Thank goodness for the supermarkets, Sainsbury’s and Lidl in particular because so far at least Bexley Council has done absolutely nothing to promote greener motoring. Strange when it complains that compared to other boroughs it has poor transport links and therefore needs more parking spaces on new developments than the useless Sadiq Khan allows because Bexley residents need and own more cars per head than anyone else in the city.

To the borough’s tally of no A&E hospital, no maternity ward, no river crossing and no tube stations you can add no TfL sponsored electric car charging points.

TfL are generally well clued up on London’s transport needs - my son who is in the business speaks highly of their engineering staff - and has been keen to install facilities to power the growing number of electric vehicles, black cabs too. London Mayor Boris Johnson’s initiative was to set up Source London in 2011 with an ambition to install 1,300 chargers in the following two years but the map below shows how that was just a pipe-dream.

The plan was derailed in 2014 when Source London was sold off but despite that the boroughs remain responsible for maintenance.

Maybe it is just as well that Bexley was not favoured by Source London because currently the provision of public charging facilities can only be described as a mess. By my reckoning there are about 50 UK bodies providing electric car charging facilities, most but not all of them being private companies and the majority operating some sort of subscription model for payment.

Imagine having to become a member of Esso, BP or Shell and show your membership card, be in credit and own a smart phone - for the app - every time you wanted to refuel but except at the free chargers provided by retailers keen to attract extra custom, that is the standard situation faced by electric car drivers. The one or two chargers that may be found at motorway services are old, frequently broken and in many cases incompatible with the newest electric cars.

Perhaps it is fortunate that Bexley is not caught up in this mess and if it decides to do anything beyond helping its own staff has the opportunity to do something sensible which will not become rapidly outdated.

Source London Instavolt

Map of Source London electric vehicle chargers. Free charging in Basingstoke.

So why was I mad enough to buy an electric car when charging can be such a problem? Several reasons but being able to do more than 300 miles on a single charge serves almost all of my motoring needs. Over Christmas I took note of where the free chargers were and stopped at one for half an hour.

Note: Most of the foregoing does not apply to Tesla cars but if you are anything like me you could not possibly justify the best part of £100,000 on a car - although somehow a certain former Bexley Councillor managed to have access to one.

 

1 January - No longer Bonkers?

So here we are again with little to report about Bexley Council. Did our Conservative council cancel the free holiday parking days this year? I’ve seen nothing about it so I suppose it did and if so it will be the sort of thing we should expect for the year ahead. More service cuts and more stealth taxes as it faces up to the inevitable consequences of a government wasting our money on other things. Councils must stand on their own two financial feet in future. It has to be waste, how else can one explain the highest tax levels ever with so little to show for it?

Will 2019 be the year when patience with government evaporates? For Christmas someone bought me a yellow safety jacket to keep in the boot of my new car, I suppose the fact that a family member had his car demolished by a Czech juggernaut on the M25 (†) a few days earlier and found himself sitting on the central barrier had something to do with it. However taking my argument with corrupt police officers beyond the written word is not very likely.

Christmas for me consisted of too much crawling along motorways. I successfully kidnapped the old lady and transported her to Hampshire where she will remain until next Saturday. She seems to be perfectly happy if given domestic chores to do while asking me “are you Malcolm’s brother? I don’t think I have seen you since I came back from Burma”, which was in 1930 and I do not have a brother.

Where will Bonkers go this year? Driving itself to near extinction is very possible. It really has become a chore to keep it going, there are so many other things I would rather do. Nine years ago the objective was to expose Bexley Council’s blatant lies which in some cases proved to be a cover for their criminal acts but by 2018 the Conservatives’ dishonesty rarely extended beyond lying about their achievements and misrepresenting their Labour opposition. The most disreputable characters have disappeared (Leader excepted) besides whom the remaining ogres Philip Read and Peter Craske are mere amateurs. Read may well be an idiot at times but I don’t think he has ever been caught out lying and while Craske excels at misrepresenting the truth he successfully manages to maintain the persona of loveable rogue.

Of the remainder the majority strive to do a decent job and some I quietly admire and even like on a personal level. No names obviously, I have no wish to wreck their political careers.

Whether Bonkers has persuaded Bexley Council to clean up its act or whether my lack of time - and energy - to dig as far beneath the surface as used to be the case is creating an illusion I do not know. Maybe 2019 will be the definitive year.

Neglecting Bonkers still doesn’t come easily and my conscience was badly pricked last Saturday. I was in Wilton Road, what passes for my local shopping centre, chatting to a friend who asked what I would be doing tomorrow (Sunday). I said that just for once there was absolutely nothing I had to do so I wasn’t sure.

A lady who must have been within earshot said something like “perhaps you should get on with your blog”. Ouch! And I haven’t a clue who she was, but I can’t go waffling on about nothing every day just to keep things going even if an exception has been made for New Year’s Day.

Happy New Year to everyone.

TweetBy the way, on 21st December it was reported here that Council Leader Teresa O'Neill had written nothing on her Twitter account apart from #doitforbexley. Yesterday she excelled herself with praise for a new shop on Long Lane.

No jokes about old trouts please.

There are no Council meetings worth attending for another two weeks. See you then?

† My son who has been studying vehicle safety for all his working life and who does work for government departments, TfL and the European Union long ago told me that one of the most dangerous manoeuvres one can make on the motorway is to slowly pass a foreign registered lorry. From the high up left hand driving position of a large vehicle it is impossible to see a small car sitting beneath the off side cabin door where it may be beyond the reach of the mirrors. Get past quickly and preferably using the third lane.

This is exactly what happened to my relative. Spun around two or three times by the Czech lorry then shunted by it into the central reservation and totally demolished a couple of minutes later by a car travelling far too fast. Somehow he had by then found the time to don his yellow jacket and scramble on to the barrier. No injuries to speak of.

 

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