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Bonkers Blog January 2019

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31 January (Part 2) - Carol and me

During a brief chat with the News Shopper reporter just before Monday’s Cabinet meeting we both agreed that it might go on a bit and in all probability we would leave once the most interesting discussions were over and catch up on the webcast later.

He left a little before I did and I would guess from a look at the webcast that I missed the last 20 minutes or thereabouts. As a final blog for January I thought I would report those last few minutes after taking a copy of the webcast and listening to what was said.

Unfortunately there is no webcast audio, well no more than a stutter anyway. I’ve tried three computers on two internet connections and it is a total no go. Let’s see what can be said without it.

The subject was ‘The Definition of Antisemitism’. Bexley Council planned to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s definition of it. To no one’s surprise its adoption was approved; Greenwich Council followed suit yesterday.

According to Councillor Danny Hackett (Labour, Thamesmead East) Councillor Philip Read (Conservative, West Heath) made a fine speech about it but thanks to the technical gremlins I cannot tell you how great a piece of oratory it was.

Bude beachThe whole thing puzzles me to same extent, it would be utterly appalling if Bexley Council has been in any way antisemitic. Does it need formal rules to ensure it stays on the straight and narrow?

I find it horrendous that such laws, guidance, definitions etc. are felt to be necessary. Why should anyone mete out such disgraceful comment and treatment of Jewish people?

Like anyone else I know from following the news that some people do and from what I can see it appears to be confined to extreme left wing politics. Maybe their right wing counterparts do the same thing but I do not recall having come across it.

I genuinely do not know why such hatred is so widespread and it would appear throughout history too. I asked my friend Mick Barnbrook if he was any wiser than I am when I met him earlier today, but he was unable to help and is as puzzled as me.

I’ve never seen Jews as being any different to any other decent human being, why would anyone?

Maybe it helped that my first little girlfriend, not that such a term would ever be used at the time, was Carol Petrook pictured with me in June 1949. We were playmates until my early teens. It never occurred to me that her parents were Jewish even though in retrospect they obviously were. They lived in the heartlands of London Jewry.

In later life one of my best mates was named Lawrence Liffchak. With his beard and a name like that, not to mention the pictures on the walls of his house his origins were not hard to fathom but they were simply irrelevant. He died recently at far too young an age but a brilliant brain and a fantastic friend.

It is good that Bexley Council has adopted the IHRA definition but I think it is shameful that it is necessary.

Maybe this blog would have been more relevant if Bexley’s webcast was not a technical disaster area but the adoption of the antisemitism definition should not go unrecorded even if Councillor Read’s speech has been lost for ever.

 

31 January (Part 1) - Just deserts

BunkerJust a day after there had been an updated reference to the desecration of Lesnes Abbey Woods by Mr. Singh than Bexley Council sprang into action; it’s only been four months since it was brought to their notice.

They have issued an enforcement notice.

Mr. Singh has been given three months to…


• Remove the raised platform.
• Remove all the retaining walls.
• Infill all the excavated areas and provide the uniform surface that existed before the unauthorised development took place.
• Remove all the debris that work will create.


Brilliant; that will cost him a pretty penny.

I made enquiries about who would be so mean spirited to have reported Singh’s neighbours for having his excess spoil on their land. The answer surprised me but then on reflection it didn’t. Who is it that has been the villain of this piece throughout?

 

30 January - What do residents think of the coming cuts and stealth taxes?

Visitors to Bexley’s Civic Offices on Wednesday evening were treated to a heavyweight surprise. A 430 page summary of the comments made to the recent Budget Consultation. I feel a bit guilty about taking half a ream of A4 but I can promise it will go into the recycling.

Several thousands of comments have been published and if Bexley Council ignores the majority I don’t think they could reasonably be blamed.

Quite a lot of Bexley residents are angry, ill-informed, financially illiterate, irrational and have an undying belief in the Eternal Money Tree.


“Robbing Tories, penalising the needy, disgusting, taking advantage of the weak, Care Services must be paid by the Council, hitting the disabled, reduce Council Leader’s allowance, outrageous.

On moving to a three weekly refuse collection: the worst idea anyone has ever had, four wheelie bins is excessive, rubbish collectors are lazy buggers, if it is not broken, don’t fix it.

Stop wasting money on silly road projects. Cut Councillors’ allowances. Easy.

Too many Councillors per ward!”


You have to wonder where some of these residents have been hiding in recent years. Bexley is probably close to unique in cutting Councillor numbers who may get the smallest allowances in London. If not it will be close.

If I were to be critical it would be because as Bexley strives to avoid the financial disaster towards which some Councils appear to be heading I cannot help but ask “why the hell did you not make the proposed efficiency savings ten or twelve years ago after Labour bequeathed you such a massive increase in tax income? Were you simply complacent and living off the fat they had endowed you?”

If the Council had recognised the looming problems earlier Bexley might not now have a tax rate higher than all but seven London boroughs. But we are where we are and we must hope that Bexley Tories do not take their eyes off the ball again.

 

29 January - Money grabbers, vandals, more vandals, xenophobes and criminals

Hall Place admission charges
It’s only three months since Bexley Council announced that they were going to introduce a £1 or £2 charge for admission to the Hall Place gardens and already the price has doubled. It will be £4 with discounts for senior citizens, Bexley residents and children.

Some parts of the garden will remain free and a family ticket is being considered. Parking will remain free and various Cabinet Members have been very emphatic about that. If compared with other ‘tourist attractions’ it is hard to deny it is relatively cheap and £620,000 of improvements are in the pipeline.

More details will come in the full Cabinet report when it is published, by the end of the week probably, I don’t like publishing major items just before a month roll over.

238 Woolwich Road
A planning application (18/03147/FUL) has been made by Kulvinder Singh’s unfortunate neighbour to legitimise the huge quantity of soil he dumped on their garden while constructing his nuclear bunker at 238 Woolwich Road.

As the notorious Bexley house developer has filled the hole it came from with copious amounts of concrete it cannot go back there and the landscape has been changed for ever. The unfortunate neighbour is left to pick up the bill.

Nobody seems to know what Bexley Council plans to do to resolve the situation and Kulvinder’s neighbours can only sit and watch while the rain continues to be determined to wash a bungalow over the newly created mud cliff.

Much the same situation prevails at another of Mr. Singh’s building sites in Heron Hill. Once again it is next to impossible to get any update on the situation from Bexley Council.

It was only a matter of time
Crossrail CrossrailBefore the Abbey Wood station lifts were vandalised. The glass is shattered.


The B word
At the beginning of the month my friend Elwyn Bryant was becoming more than a little agitated at his MP ignoring all his communications relating to Brexit. He was particularly upset with the pro Brexit Withdrawal Agreement propaganda that appeared on the Old Bexley & Sidcup Conservative Association website. I speculated that it was placed there by Tory HQ and should not be interpreted as the OB&SCA being anti-Brexit. This guesswork has since been confirmed as being correct.

One only has to have listened to prominent OB&SCA Councillors over the past two and a half years to realise that many of them are hard line Brexiteers and some of them aren’t.

Brexit divisions are everywhere. Some who sincerely believe that only Leavers offer abuse are apparently happy to label Brexiteers “slimy, fascist, racist, xenophobes”. I know; have suffered it at first hand and it is painful coming from people you have regarded as friends.

The OB&SCA Committee will have had to steer a difficult path balancing such disparate views as will their MP James Brokenshire. With 63% of his constituents voting to leave the European Union he has little option but to respect the decision although he personally seems to back the ill-fated Withdrawal deal, backstop and all.

He will have upset some people taking that line, I know he has, but at least he has not descended to the depths plumbed by his colleagues Dominic Grieve, Anna Soubry and the reliably incompetent Amber Rudd.

Bexley council - dishonest, vindictive, criminal
I went to yesterday’s Cabinet Meeting equipped with my long lens and hoping to get a more up to date picture of Council Leader Teresa O’Neill to adorn the Bonkers’ banner.

I particularly wanted one of her looking to her right (left as pictured) and preferably smiling. Things did not go according to plan because I had forgotten something. To her right sit the Labour Members and there is no way she is going to smile at them. She smiled towards the Tory benches but flipping the photo over would probably look odd.

The best image I could get should appear to the right of the site banner before very long. Maybe both old and new for a while for comparison purposes.

Since the very early days of BiB its strapline has been ‘Bexley council - dishonest, vindictive, criminal’ and arguably that is as out of date as the Leader’s portrait. It is about five years since Bexley Council was last found to be engaged in serious law breaking.

Dishonesty still abounds among Tory Councillors and examples surface once or twice every month and Council Officers are frequently vindictive so there is no reason to rethink that description, but if I can find all the occurrences, Vindictive will disappear before the day is out.

 

28 January - Kent Police: Intransigence, Incompetence or worse?

Kent Police and the Crime CommissionerHave you been following the continuing story of Kent Police playing some odd game over my crime allegations against Sevenoaks Conservative activist and former Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill?

She wrote a police statement on 29th December 2017 which resulted in me being charged with Harassment. It cost me a great deal of money in legal fees despite much of it being demonstrably untruthful.

I thought what she did was with criminal intent and I wrote to the Chief Constable of Kent on 26th March 2018 alleging a criminal act; another to add to the half dozen or so from various of her victims, all falsely arrested at her behest.

The Chief Constable couldn’t be bothered to reply. I asked him why not last December and he eventually got around to saying it was because I was not the victim. Surely that cannot be true? Who does he think was?

As yet he has not provided an explanation of his strange behaviour. I have my theories but Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner has assured me they are wrong.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct says there is nothing they can do about the situation although I suspect their reply by return of post indicates they spent no time on the case and misunderstood it.

I am not sure what you can do about Kent Police’s refusal to talk to me about a crime committed against me. If every police authority gangs up in a conspiracy of silence hat can the lasw abiding citizen do?

While thinking about the next step I have posted a brief summary on both the Index and Home pages of Bonkers to ensure their exposure to the maximum possible audience. It will remain there until I get some sort of answer out of them.

 

26 January - Are we nearly there yet?

Harrow Manorway queue
Closed bus stopIt would be easy to blame the transport chaos in Abbey Wood on the uncaring governing elite that lives far to the south but there are other factors in play. The utility companies have thoroughly messed up the planned Harrow Manorway rebuilding schedule and Transport for London have not been a lot better but you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, some disruption is inevitable.

Nevertheless those who govern the Northern Territories ought to be reminded occasionally of what dwellers there have to put up with on a daily basis, it is more than five years since the Crossrail related road and rail chaos began.

The past week has offered a perfect illustration of the inconvenience dished out by Bexley Council on a regular basis.

The first Abbey Wood bound bus stop south of Thamesmead (Newacres Library) was closed more than a year ago - I have the photos - and still is. The next one was closed last week (small Photo 1) and the following one has been closed occasionally. There has been no southbound bus stop opposite the station since March 2018 - photos again.

It might only be a ten minute walk to the railway station but anyone living around Sewell or Ampleforth Roads will have suffered the consequences although Bexley Council may not be too worried about that, both are across the borough boundary.

Neither is it any use trying one’s luck in Yarnton Way, the bus stops there have been closed since at least last August.

Closed bus stop Closed bus stop Closed bus stop Closed bus stop

 

24 January - More on Bexley’s transport issues. Narrowed roads, long drawn out reconstruction and accidents

Even though the police failed to get in from far flung Lewisham to give their report and the Youth Council had not submitted any questions to the Committee and had found more interesting things to do on the night, there was more to last week’s Transport Users’ meeting than bikes and buses and trains.

Road Safety and road works were also discussed.

As has been stated before reliable accident statistics are hard to come by because the police have changed the way their seriousness is assessed but the official best guess is that Bexley does well when measured against other London boroughs. Whilst it can only be an estimate it looks as though Bexley may have a achieved a 23% reduction in serious injuries and fatalities (KSI) from 2016 to 2017. A bigger reduction than any other London borough apart from Havering although it hides an uncomfortably high number of KSIs in 2015 without which Bexley would not have shown such a big improvement in later years.

In 2017 two people were killed in Bexley, 55 seriously injured and 533 slightly injured. Pedestrians were by a long way at most risk throughout the whole of London. Collisions with cars obviously.

Naturally the cyclists’ representative chipped in to blame motorists for all ills on the roads and advocated widespread use of 20 m.p.h. limits. Councillor Seymour (Conservative, Crayford) put the counter arguments and related poor behaviour by cyclists.

As usual on transport matters it was left to Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, Slade Green & North End) to inject some sense into the discussion. Pedestrians with phones glued to their ears was he suggested a factor in the accident toll. He also said that “when designing roads systems there should be plenty of space”. (It was Bexley’s insistence on designing out road space in contravention of Transport Research Laboratory recommendations that led to the creation of this blog.)

The clergyman, Rob Radcliffe, a vicar from Erith, complained about footpath cyclists approaching silently and offering abuse if one doesn’t jump out of the way promptly. Being a guest on the Committee he is presumably unaware of the convention that cyclists must be treated with reverence and the Political Correctness that is their right.

He additionally complained about what he called elderly buggy users going far too fast on the pavement. Their attitude is “that like cyclists they feel they have an automatic right of way over pedestrians. I have received a fair bit of abuse off them because I did not move as fast out of their way than they thought I should have done. It is not just car drivers who require education”.

Councillor June Slaughter (Conservative, Sidcup) took up a similar theme. “Young mums walking with children in buggies who are too busy looking at their phone.”

The cyclist asked about the accident in which Brian Barnett died when his electric bike encountered a lorry. Did anyone know anything about it? The Council Officer Mark Bunting said the police had provided a report but he could not remember what it said. “I wouldn’t want to try to remember it. It was a detailed response.”

So the Head of Road Safety in Bexley has one cycling fatality on his patch in a year and he cannot remember what the police report said. Words fail etc.

In connection with the Bronze Age Way cycle accident the Chairman said it was “the worst kept secret” that of Bexley’s 30 speed camera sites only three were actually equipped with cameras and “they were not moved around very often”.

Harrow manorwayMr. Andrew Bashford made a few comments on current major road works. The Harrow Manorway flyover which was scheduled for completion last June, then mid-December according to a Councillor who enquired of him and then early January are now “nearing completion”. Mr. Bashford acknowledged that he had been saying the same thing for a long time.

The delays were caused by the bridge joints, delays with the TfL provision of bus shelters - they went a whole six weeks doing nothing - and the pedestrian crossing signals which are now operational but switched off until the eastern footpath is opened. Until its staircase and the bus shelter become usable there is little use for that footpath and the stairs cannot be reopened until Gayton Road is rebuilt.

Work on Gayton Road started ten months late but is now progressing well. Work on Felixstowe Road should commence in late February which makes the start date 15 months behind the original schedule.

The reconstruction of Harrow Manorway itself, now on course to be completed a whole year late has been delayed by both Thames Water and Southern Gas Networks “causing vast areas to be left open”.

The plan to further exacerbate traffic congestion in Bexley Village by narrowing various roads in the vicinity of Hartford, Thanet and Hurst Roads at each end of the village will start at the next school half term and continue for three weeks beyond that. The Chairman suggested that villagers might like to consider going on holiday for the duration.

The Mayplace Road West/Erith Road junction in Bexleyheath (that’s the one just south of the bus garage) will have its little used left hand slip road removed and the traffic lights retimed.

As regular readers will know my son is an adviser to governments and others on vehicle and road safety issues and I spent last weekend with him. He had been studying the effectiveness of crash helmets. The message that came through loud and clear is that a properly rated helmet should always be worn as the details of some of the accidents studied were stomach churning.

One in particular sticks in my mind. Video showed a cyclist hitting a car side on that emerged from a side road. No one was going fast. The first thing that happened was that his helmet flew off. The message was not just wear a helmet but do it up tightly. The young man involved is now a seriously brain damaged paraplegic in a wheel chair for life.

And in another change of direction, I never get to see the News Shopper these days, but on a rare trip to Orpington I picked up a copy of The Mercury. In it was an article by Bexley’s Transport expert Stefano Borella, so to make sure it is seen outside Orpington, here is it…
The Mercury
The by line makes it look as though Stefano has found favour with Jeremy Corbyn.

 

23 January - Grab yourself a quick hundred quid. No catch!

BulbThis is the last day for claiming a £100 bonus for a Bulb energy transfer.

If anyone makes the switch using the link - www.bulb.co.uk/refer/malcolm5416 - the proceeds will be shared with the author of the 853blog who supported me through the Maxine Fothergill fiasco.

 

22 January - Shaping the future of Belvedere

Bexley Council Press Releases would not normally be given blog prominence although the most interesting ones are always stored away for reference purposes.

Today’s is however a little bit special, it gives notice that ‘Lower’ Belvedere stands on the threshold of renewal. Let’s give the pair of liars who run the @bexleynews twitter account something to throw back at me over the coming months; the redevelopment of the area around Belvedere station will likely sound the death knell of Belvedere as it exists today.

At a public meeting to be held next Monday and reported here shortly afterwards, Bexley Council’s Cabinet will authorise expenditure to sharpen up the plans to redevelop the area and provide over time as many as 8,000 new dwellings. Few will disagree that an area that has been neglected for so many years could do with a bit of sympathetic investment.

In other news, a letter of complaint has gone to the Independent Office for Police Conduct about the Chief Constable of Kent’s refusal to accept an allegation of crime I made against former Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill. He has a track record for ignoring allegations of crime made against Fothergill but is very good at arresting people - three of them to my knowledge - who she wrongly accuses of fraud.

As always the expectation is not securing justice but acquiring an excuse even more ludicrous than the last one.

 

21 January - Faster trains, slower buses

There was more to last week’s Transport Sub-Committee meeting last week than joy riding cyclists and about four members of the public had made their way to the Civic Centre to witness what was going on.

Councillor Val Clark welcomed them to her meeting and set about Chairing it in her usual easy going way. Transport CommitteeRail issues were discussed first and George Paterson spoke on behalf of Southeastern. The Network Rail delegate failed to show up, signal failure at Lewisham perhaps?

Mr. Paterson gave a few details about the May 2019 timetable. The changes are relatively minor; service gaps will be reduced where possible and journey times will be reduced “by a minute or two”. Junction use will be shared more efficiently.

“The service change that Councillors were concerned about will not go ahead.” What it is nobody knows, Mr. Paterson kept all details under wraps. Maybe it is the 07:10 from Sidcup to Cannon Street via Slade Green which the Agenda shows as diverted via Lewisham to Charing Cross from May 2019 and take four minutes longer to get into London. Probably, but no one said.

Southeastern will commence a review of the Autumn Leaf timetable on 1st February which my own observations suggest does nothing obvious apart from trains arriving at Abbey Wood four minutes early and inconveniencing passengers to and from Erith, Belvedere and Plumstead.

Nothing was known about any plans to further extend Southeastern’s franchise except that “some time this year” had been stated in Parliament earlier on the same day as the meeting.

Councillor Louie French (Conservative, Welling & Falconwood), a daily train commuter, was not happy about the service provided by Southeastern but recognised that nearly all failures can be laid at the door of Network Rail. Chairman Val Clark suggested that train drivers receive training on the use of the public address system as too often they cannot be heard. Few of us will argue with that.

Councillor Clark was also concerned about the choice of stations to have their disabled access improved through lift installation. Sidcup which already has step free access to both platforms is getting lifts. She reminded us that the same was done at Bexleyheath station a few years ago but it is still quicker to use the old step free access than use the new lift. “The biggest waste of money ever.”

It would appear that spending decisions are based almost entirely on footfall which as a Committee coopted clergyman (the man on the left of the picture) pointed out is a bit of a nonsense because the inaccessible stations will almost by definition have artificially reduced footfall and the nearby stations with full access will gain more, leading to Councillor Clark’s “biggest waste of money ever”.

Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, Slade Green & Northend) was concerned about aspects of the Autumn timetable station skipping. In some places there is a reasonable bus alternative but not everywhere. A 30 minute service gap at Bexley is not nice at all for anyone attempting to get to Crayford. Bexleyheath to Falconwood is another problematic route exacerbated by wheel chair accessibility problems.

He thought trains “took far too long to get to London” and “the dwell times at stations are ridiculous, it is quite frankly just padding”. He is not wrong is he? Southeastern regularly announces that trains doors will close 45 seconds before advertised departure times and that alone puts ten minutes on the journey from London to Dartford.

Within 45 seconds a DLR train will stop, disgorge its passengers, pack in more and be away. Southeastern are simply useless and appear to run their trains for their own benefit, not ours.

Referring perhaps to my 1988 timetable he said he simply didn’t understand why trains take seven or eight minutes longer that they did 30 years ago. Back then the fastest rush hour train from Cannon Street to Abbey Wood train took 21 minutes to do the eleven miles but now the best is timetabled at 32 minutes with most between 34 and 41.

Mr. Paterson denied Councillor Borella’s suggestion that skimped maintenance was the cause of short formed trains and the timetable padding was caused by congestion on the network.

Councillor French called for statistics on stations which had completely lost services (due to planned engineering work) at weekends last year so that he could analyse the extent to which season tickets are no longer value for money.

The discussion moved on to buses, principally the performance of the B14 to Orpington which leaves on time only two times out of three and is between five and 15 minutes late on one journey out of four. Worse are the cancellations on what is already an infrequent service. Councillor June Slaughter described it as “appalling”. It is frequently causing pupils at Cleve Park School, it is the only bus to serve it, to be late.

Councillor Borella said the B14 frequently drops off the arrivals display because it has been terminated early and he has known it to skip the terminal stop in Bexleyheath. The drivers came in for some criticism for their surly behaviour too.

Referring to the late and sporadic running, Councillor Richard Diment (Conservative, Sidcup) said that there was “no sign that TfL was doing anything about it”.

The TfL man said that the B14 performance was poor due to road diversions, an excuse that did not go down well with the Committee. The real reason for the deteriorating service would appear to be that there are simply not enough buses allocated to the service and every additional vehicle would cost £250,000 a year. Where would the cuts to allow that fall?

Councillor Clark complained that bus announcements did not always mention closed stops. The TfL representative said they were programmed in but procedures sometimes created “a few days” of delay. The system “relies heavily on customer complaints”.

The Chairman was also unhappy about buses not pulling forward within their spaces causing any following bus to block the road which struck me as a little ironic because there are many instances in Bexley of the Council deliberately building pedestrian refuges next to bus stops such that it doesn’t need two buses to block the road.

The clergyman related how he encountered a 90 minute delay while waiting for a 229 bus and how he failed totally to get his complaint through to TfL. I have given up on the 229 because whilst it is usually frequent I too have encountered intervals of more than an hour.

Councillor Borella wanted to know about route 428 rumoured to have its Crayford to Bluewater section removed. He was told that there should be a public consultation next month.

The proposals will likely be that the 428 terminates in either Crayford or Dartford. The 492 could also terminate at either Crayford or Dartford, the latter being the TfL preference. Without help from Kent County Council the service to Bluewater is in jeopardy.

The 96 duplicates much of the 428’s route before carrying on to Bluewater and the 96 is much more frequent. Councillor Clark said that school pupils go from Bexley to Dartford and changing buses in Crayford would introduce serious delays to their journeys. TfL noted her concerns. Councillor Borella was not aware of suitable bus standing space in Crayford. He would prefer it carried on to Darenth Valley Hospital.

Councillor Clark had met with the London Road Safety Council earlier in the day and was very pleased to announce that in the near future London buses would not be able to exceed speed limits. A start would be made with modifying 7,000 Volvo buses this year “making it impossible for any bus to speed”.

I have known this was coming for a long time and what Councillor Clark said is not technically correct. Buses will not be able to accelerate beyond the speed limit but upon entering a 20 m.p.h. zone from a 30 would not be forced to slow down. The driver will be in total control and could if he was so inclined continue to speed all the way through a 20 zone. In practice of course he will probably have to stop for passengers after which he couldn’t exceed 20 m.p.h. So slower bus rides which TfL already acknowledge has been a factor in declining revenues with the bonus of longer traffic queues.

The other scheme was improving vision for drivers of Large Goods Vehicles. The solution adopted must be six or seven years old to my knowledge but at the time not enough people had died beneath lorry wheels for it to be taken seriously.

 

20 January - They just can’t help it. Lying that is

TweetAnother lying Tweet from the Bexley Tory team that is incapable of telling the whole truth and sometimes none at all.

The BiB blog they are referring to welcomed the fact that Bexley Council had given up on its plan to charge for parking at Hall Place and that only a few years ago they were hell bent on imposing charges.

The “bad news” was a reference to the plan to charge admission fees to Hall Place gardens with no discount for children - nothing to do with parking charges. That is a very long way from saying that it was all bad news even though the Conservative Councillor for the area thought it would be.

The Tweet is not what the Tory liars claim at all and it is absolutely true that Councillor Craske was very keen to impose parking charges after spending an enormous amount of money (millions!) on resurfacing the car park. The plan to impose charges was in Bexley Council’s Strategy 2014 document and the reasons were captured by my audio recorder.

I also have audio recordings of what was said in support of charging as I have too for the update on the situation where the impact of charges on Hall Place visitor numbers was discussed at a Scrutiny meeting. It was also confirmed that the contract with Miller & Carter who operate the Hall Place Steak House was proving to be problematical. All captured on audio and still available as evidence.

Apart from death and taxes there are two more certainties in life. One is that what you read on Bonkers will invariably be true and the other is that anything published by @bexleynews will invariably be a lie.

Note: I have been away for three days and wondered if a quick blog might be possible this evening without much effort on my part. I am deeply grateful to lying Tories for providing BiB with such an easy target.

 

17 January (Part 2) - Peabody updates its plans for 498-500 Abbey Road

PeabodyPeabody Housing has reacted to comments made at last March’s consultation when it was felt that the 14 storey tower looked nice enough but was a little overpowering for a site so close to the Lesnes Abbey woods. It necessarily overlooked quite a lot of nearby houses too.

The revision would appear to be a marked improvement, only ten storeys and the viewing platforms at a lower level. The highest point will be for solar panels only.

In total there will be 66 flats, six of them designed for disabled living and in accordance with Sadiq Khan’s wishes only those six will have a parking space, two of them equipped with electric car charging points.

The ground floor will include commercial premises, no news on what, and assuming planning permission is granted in March construction will commence in December, with completion two years later.

Who knows? Even the Elizabeth line may be operational by then.

A dozen pictures are available here, best viewed on a proper computer screen, they are rather large.

The exhibition will be re-run next Saturday 19th January in the Knee Hill Community Hall. 10 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.

 

17 January (Part 1) - A spoke in the Harrow Manorway works

It has always struck me as a trifle Politically Correct to have cyclists represented on Bexley’s Transport Users’ Sub-Committee but I think it can just about be justified. Means of transport in Bexley is dominated by buses, cars, trains, bicycles and if you live in the North of the borough, ponies and traps.

Bus users are reasonably well represented by Chairman Val Clark (Conservative, Falconwood & Welling) who nearly always has some little anecdote to tell about how she has been let down by a bus driver or some item of bus equipment. Stefano Borella (Labour, Slade Green & Northend) is able to input some erudition about the railways and their numerous failures to deliver a reliable service and presumably all Committee members consider themselves to be experts behind the wheel of a car and able to represent the man in the street. Unfortunately not one of them lives in the north which has been so disrupted in recent years and none of them looks like a cyclist so maybe it is reasonable to appoint Robert Heywood to the Committee to look after their interests.

Cyclists generally are given a bad name by those who jump lights and speed by on the footpath without prior warning but Mr. Heywood is not like them; last night he made some good points.

I particularly liked his criticism of the revamped but not yet complete Harrow Manorway flyover. The southern exit on to Knee Hill is a little worrying for motorists who wish to turn right at the roundabout, it must be near terrifying for cyclists who are required to vacate the cycle track and occupy the middle lane to get around the roundabout. It is anyone’s guess whether it is the inside or the outside of that lane which is least likely to get you killed.

Andrew Bashford, the designer of that road, said the lane markings were temporary and the final arrangement awaited the agreement of Greenwich Council on signs, yellow lines etc. He admitted that the present situation is “unsuitable”. Why did Bexley Council authorise the present arrangement if it knows it to be unsafe or do Councils prioritise lives behind bureaucracy?

To Mr. Heywood’s complaint I would add that motorists approaching that roundabout from the northern section of Knee Hill (as if from Abbey Wood Village) and intending to go over the flyover find the natural curvature of the road takes them straight into the cycle lane and it requires a significant deviation to avoid it. Fortunately, as far as I can judge, few cyclists are mad enough to use Harrow Manorway flyover and all of them that do cycle on the western footpath, the only one to have been opened so far.

Mr. Heywood, as is to be expected, advocated a widespread reduction in speed limits and is presumably happy to see the economy take a dive as a result of the loss of productivity.

The two cyclists present were allowed to give a Power Point presentation about how they indulge their passion for cycling by organising leisurely joy rides at the weekend. All very laudable of course and maybe it will tackle loneliness and obesity. No one would deny them their pleasure but how is that Transport?

Do joggers attempting to avoid protruding slabs on the footpath constitute transport and deserve a voice on the Transport Committee?

Do horse riders on bridleways constitute transport and what about hikers along designated footpaths and parks? Are they transport too?

The presentation consisted of 13 slides and illustrated where the cycle rides generally go and who participates. Mainly older people it would seem. If you would like to join them, all the information you need may be found here.

 

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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