Having previously publicised all the Erith & Thamesmead Labour prospective candidate
videos I suppose it’s only fair to do the same for The Brexit Party.
With the Tories still playing silly buggers in E & T (†) and their candidate announcement more than a week behind the promised date it is not beyond the realms of possibility that I shall vote for Mr. Farage’s party. All it needs is for the Tories to announce another no hoper like they did in 2017 and everyone will know they are not being serious. The question will then be “can I forgive the non-stop slow motion effects in Mr.Bright’s video?”.
† They are not going to give the Brexit Party a clear run as rumoured elsewhere are they?
There has been very little time to read the Withdrawal Agreement or do
anything else useful today, the CCTV in East Ham stopped working and required
attention but I am now one third through the Withdrawal Agreement.
As expected anyone who works for the EU gets all sorts of tax and pension advantages and will continue to do so; precisely what is not clear because it is all as set out in another document but I think one can safely assume that Mr. and Mrs. Kinnock will be happy. This also applies to employees of all the hangers-on and fringe organisations like the Medicines Agency, the Galileo project and far too many more.
All employees are “exempted from obligatory affiliation to and payment into national social security systems in the United Kingdom” too. The Gravy Train will not entirely hit the buffers next year.
And now at last something we all recognise, the Transition Period. “There shall be a transition or implementation period, which shall start on the date of entry into force of this Agreement and end on 31 December 2020.”
The date that Boris has apparently promised Nigel he will not extend.
I expect there were plenty of Lies of the Day, a politician must have opened his mouth somewhere, but none I saw struck me as especially bad so instead Bonkers brings you the total moron that is Jo Swinson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats and MP for East Dunbartonshire a place I used to know well. All distilleries, ship yards, council houses and friendly workshy drunks when I was there. Surely you would have to be drunk to vote for this woman, she thinks that Dianne Abbott is a politician of the same stature as Margaret Thatcher and Barbara Castle.
Utterly deluded as must be all the Lib Dum MPs and anyone else who votes for her.
Far too many MPs display less intelligence than me or you or probably anyone else you will speak to this week.
Tweet by Bexley Conservatives is probably not good enough to qualify for
Lie of the Day
but it isn’t entirely honest.
I personally think that voting for Sadiq Khan is an act of madness, he has failed in all his ambitions, but I don’t think it is entirely fair to wholly blame him for the Crossrail delay. My guess is that he knows far less about Crossrail than I do and he failed to look properly into what was going on.
In retrospect we should have known Crossrail wouldn’t open on 9th December 2018 as planned. I was the only person to go to every single one of the Abbey Wood Crossrail Liaison Panel meetings; they were very interesting, but more than once I went through the Minutes with Roger K. who more often than not sat next to me, and concluded that not a single one of the action points listed three months earlier had made any progress at all.
If that was any indication of how things worked at Crossrail HQ, well
Bexley Conservatives say they are ready for Crossrail and by their logic they have Sadiq Khan to thank for that.
Bexley Council’s regeneration work around the station, mainly paid for by Network Rail, was scheduled for completion in June 2018, six months before the new rail services were due to commence. They must hate people like me who don’t throw the leaflets away.
“Work will finish in both areas by June 2018. The Elizabeth line station will be fully operational in December 2-18.”
Right now we have Gayton Road to the south of the station unfinished and the stairs still out of use. To the north Felixstowe Road is about the enter its fifteenth week of its nine week closure.
A later revision to the aforesaid leaflet said
“From June 2017 until Autumn 2018, major improvement works will be taking place on Harrow Manorway to upgrade the area between the flyover at Abbey Wood station and Eastern Way.”
Looking on the bright side Harrow Manorway does show signs of moving into its final phase.
For the first time in maybe eighteen months there is two way working all the way from the station to Eastern Way, the two roundabouts are pretty much completed and only yesterday I saw one of two 180 buses running in convoy reverse its direction via the Sainsbury’s roundabout without running up the kerb. Maybe Andrew Bashford is learning from past mistakes.
The pictures below were all taken yesterday afternoon. The bus stop sign suggests that the planned congestion (more bus lanes!) will only be applied north of Yarnton Way and the expensive German granite blocks are blackened by tyres just as quickly as the cheaper ones elsewhere in the borough.
All done by Christmas? I wouldn’t bet on it.
Oh dear, I have progressed through
the Withdrawal Agreement
to where it deals with Euratom and I gained top marks in A Level Physics in the
very last year that it did not include Nuclear Physics. Maybe this report should
be read with even more care than the earlier ones.
The first thing to strike me is that we will be allowed to keep all fissile materials stored here. Well thanks for that! We are also required to observe all EU and international safety regulations. What do these Eurocrats take us for? Oh, yes, fools isn’t it?
Euratom equipment in the UK at the end of the transition period will have to be paid for. Why? Haven’t we made a full contribution already?
The Agreement then moves back to Courts. The European Court of Justice will continue to dictate to UK Courts until the end of the transition period, Ok we have been stuck with it for many years, we will have to put up with it for a few more. However it can still have a go at us for four years after the transition period if it considers we misbehaved before it. Such decisions have “binding force” although we will be able to contest decisions in the same way as a Member State.
This Withdrawal Agreement shows every sign of going downhill. It’s hard to find anything unequivocally favourable to the UK.
On State Aid the EU again reserves the right to poke its nose into UK business for four years after the end of the transition period if it believes we broke their rules before the transition period ended.
The UK will also be stuck with all the rules and regulations relating to greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide emissions which is probably no bad thing but we don’t need unelected dictators to tell us so.
Just over 25% of the way through the Withdrawal Agreement now.
It’s not yet mid-day so it is a bit early for Lie of the Day so here is one from yesterday evening. Jeremy Corbyn denying he ever met IRA leaders. Haven’t we seen dozens of photos that prove him a liar?
As an alternative here’s a little video that someone made which suggests that everybody’s favourite terrorist sympathiser has a very selective memory.
“I never met the IRA. I never met the IRA.”
Come on Boris, you can do it too!
Quarterly Leader’s report is always worth waiting for even if the preceding
events are sometimes a little tedious. Planted questions and
Motions are not my favourite Council events.
Last week’s report went something like this
Teresa O’Neill referred back to the “fantastic” Alcock & Brown celebration last July but moved swiftly on to the damaged Cob statue in Belvedere or is it Erith? It must be right on the boundary. Opened by Boris Johnson when Mayor and damaged beyond repair by an Asda driver.
I have some respect for lorry drivers, my son has an HGV licence (passed test first time in under two weeks so maybe it’s not that difficult) as part of his road safety researches and, as he once told me, as a fall back in case his business hits a rough patch. Fortunately it’s not happened yet. However local Asda drivers certainly give the impression that they are in a class apart, and not in a good way.
The Leader said that negotiations with insurance companies were getting nowhere fast so she wrote to the Chief Executive of Asda. We all know how unhelpful insurance companies try to be so who can blame her?
Councillor Peter Craske has been messing around in a bin factory and who better to be in one? The Leader has seen those already delivered to the Crayford depot and the first of them should hit a pavement near you next Monday. I will have to wait three more weeks for mine. No idea what I am going to do with them, I need neither.
Councillor O’Neill went to the topping out ceremony of the new Peabody towers at Tavy Bridge along with Mabel Ogundayo (Labour, Thamesmead East) and avoided being stuck in the broken down lift which followed hers.
The Estuary Envoy got a mention and who might he be? Apparently it is a she called Kate Willard and she “champions” the Thames Estuary.
The Leader said the SEN inquest chaired by Councillor Alan Downing “was a really good meeting” and “to apologise was the right thing to do”. The leading parent protester “is going to come in and have a cup of coffee” because “there are some really valuable lessons to be learned”.
The Leader called in favours with Boris Johnson by writing her own personal letters to the new government within days of its formation ensuring Bexley was first in the queue. A letter went to Met. Commissioner Cressida Dick requesting more police and one must wish the Leader good luck dealing with that useless if not totally bent cop.
She has had a conversation with the Home Secretary about dealing with unaccompanied asylum seekers which couldn’t have been too difficult given that the Home Secretary is Bexley Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer’s wife. She “has had some movement on that”.
Councillor Cafer Munur (Conservative, Blackfen & Lamorbey) was the first to ask a question but it was of the creepy arse licking variety so I will give that one a miss except to say it was planted because the reply was read from a script by the arch question and answer rigger Councillor Philip Read. Him again.
Councillor John Davey (Conservative, West Heath) asked another question which wasn’t much better. It gave Cabinet Member Craske the opportunity to say that Danson Park had been voted the best in London. Really? What? Better that Hyde Park, St. James’ Park, Regents Park?
Councillor Danny Hackett (Independent, Thamesmead East) was the first to ask a genuine question. It was about fireworks and already reported elsewhere. Councillor O’Neill as you may remember provided a positive and encouraging response.
Next with a proper question was Labour Leader Daniel Francis (Belvedere) who didn’t think Bexley Council had done enough to counter the plans to expand London City Airport or to plan for and publicise the forthcoming Barnehurst, Bexleyheath and Welling rail closure in February.
Cabinet Member Louie French didn’t think much of the Airport’s consultation efforts either, it was all “a bit bizarre” but the Council did submit a formal response.
He has some ideas for publicising the alternative rail travel arrangements but has concerns about capacity.
Councillor Linda Bailey (Conservative, Crook Log) dared to mention the C word; Crossrail. She tempted fate by saying it could open in October 2020 but that was “appalling”. Bexley Council has spent a lot of money in the area but “businesses are still suffering. Under Boris Johnson Crossrail was on budget and on time and then along came Sadiq Khan and suddenly we are three years behind”. Last Wednesday she should have said two years behind but 24 hours later she was right.
Teresa O’Neill is clearly no Mystic Meg for she had spoken to TfL bosses and confidently revealed their dirty secret; the Elizabeth line “had probably slipped another month”. How wrong can they get? (In case you have been asleep for the past day or two Crossrail opening has been deferred well into 2021 at best.)
The same TfL bosses had been to look at the hordes of ill-mannered school children who run riot by the Clock Tower every afternoon. No solution was offered. What do you think? Confiscate their Oyster cards, tasers or a big net dropped from the sky and hauled skywards like in one of the final scenes from War of the Worlds?
Finally the Leader sang the praises of the Larner Road and Arthur Street developments.
Despite the mischievous blog title I think the word fantastic was only used three times, not counting Councillor Davey getting in on the act.
The repercussions from
Bexley Council’s SEN Transport humiliation at the
hands of the LGO and persistent parents rumble on.
From inside the Council comes an excuse for Mr. Simon James who sat alongside the Cabinet Member for Education John Fuller after keeping him in the dark about the fast developing disaster and never breathed a word about it to save his embarrassment. Could he have been under instructions from his boss Jacky Tiotto who conveniently left for pastures new just a few days later? Hmmm, I’d forgotten that.
But was John Fuller misled on another matter too? He said, with possibly too much relish, that the parent who rebelled through the Courts against the Council’s decision “had to pay costs and everything”.
They lost and had to pay costs and everything.
Someone who suggests he was close to the centre of things has said that that
simply wasn’t true, not a penny in costs was awarded, but the Council ran up a big legal bill by instructing counsel.
I’ve not found any reference to this gigantic Council cock-up in the local press which only covers the Council Press Releases like the new bins arriving next week only four months late. Where’s Tom Bull when you need him? Maybe some inquisitive Councillor should follow this one up.
I made a mistake with
yesterday’s Withdrawal Agreement comment. I thought for a moment it was
500 pages long and it is 600 so I was not very close to having read the first 20%,
however today I have got past the 20% mark.
It goes on and on and on about the movement of goods and intellectual property rights before moving on to policing and security.
I get the impression it is written to protect the EU rather than the UK and we are going to have to pay for access to certain European security databases and I see no reference to the EU paying to access ours.
We are going to have to observe the protected product names for all time so I cannot rebottle lemonade and call it Champagne Cola or something. No one will care but I see no reciprocal arrangement to protect Cornish Pasties etc. Maybe I missed it.
So far so good or at least not too bad really on the WA; I assume they are leaving all the nasty stuff like the European Arrest Warrant and Fisheries to the end hoping that readers die of exhaustion before getting that far. They may yet get their wish.
Now for lie of the day. The day didn’t start well and I thought I might be giving it a miss but then the foulmouthed Labour candidate Jess Phillips came to my rescue. She said that a school was having to cancel its Christmas Fayre but a journalist said he did some checking in her constituency and drew a blank. Did I not read the Phillips is one of three MPs tipped to replace erstwhile Deputy Leader Tom Watson? Is talent so very short in the Labour Party at national level that Jess Phillips could be in the running?
Then Zac Goldsmith wrote to his Lib Dem opposite number, Sarah Olney accusing her of blatant lying. Who is surprised? Didn’t she pull a similar stunt at a previous election in Richmond? Not sure, the Lib Dems pull so many stunts it is hard to keep up.
I must look harder for Tory lies.
said before that I feel that too many Council Motions are of the form ‘This Council
resolves to be a decent law abiding organisation for a change by signing this piece of paper’.
Councillor Mabel Ogundayo spoke eloquently for ten minutes this week to ask Bexley Council to observe Teresa May’s 2015 Modern Day Slavery Act which applies only to commercial organisations and sign The Charter Against Modern Slavery.
Councillor Ogundayo provided examples of how slavery had been discovered within Bexley. It is undoubtedly an evil and no one can deny it, not even Conservative Councillors.
It was obvious what was going to happen, it always does when Labour puts forward an idea which has no downsides; the Conservative Councillors take it over, and so it proved.
Cabinet Member Philip Read objected to the Motion and circulated an Amendment.
The differences were tiny. Mabel Ogundayo’s Motion had been in the queue for a year and had become a little dated, that was corrected. Like most rewrites of an existing draft it was improved in several respects however the Tories’ main objection was that The Charter of Modern Slavery had been formulated by the Cooperative Party and the word cooperative is anathema to Bexley Tories. There was no way they were going to sign their Charter.
In putting forward his objections to the original Motion Philip Read directed personal insults towards Councillor Ogundayo. To add to his previous allegations of youth, inexperience and a poor educational standard he added plagiarism. The Motion had been “copied from the Labour Party’s Handbook on Composite Motions” and those reading it “will lose the will to live”. It was put forward by Labour so that “they could claim the moral high ground to make them feel self-righteous”. Totally unnecessary objections from the reliably obnoxious Philip Read.
He voted against Councillor Ogundayo’s Motion.
The whole of the Labour Group had the good sense to vote in favour of the Conservative amendment, it was undoubtedly an improvement on the original but once again a good Labour idea was usurped by the unscrupulous Tories. It’s a pity the two parties cannot learn to work together.
I am now getting on for 20% through
the Withdrawal Agreement. There is a whole load of stuff about protecting
EU residents and their dependants, their health needs and the movement of goods.
So long as we can kick out the criminals it all seems fine to me.
It looks like we are stuck with the VAT system for five years beyond the end of the transition period which could be a very long time. On the other hand we are not likely to want to go back to the pre-1973 Purchase Tax system so does it really matter?
It probably doesn’t move the score to Nigel 1 : Boris 1 but it is one thing less to worry about.
For lie of the day I offer the unscrupulous Anna Soubry, EU Remainer extraordinaire allegedly representing the Leave people of Broxstowe.
Desperately looking for support she found a voter who was prepared to say on camera that he had voted Leave but was a Soubry convert. Pull the other one!
He was soon exposed as a Lib Dem activist and former Council candidate prepared to sell his soul, as of course unprincipled Lib Dems so often are.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see ‘Spanners Anna’ featured here again before December 12th.
Urban Dictionary. Box of Spanners. “A product, device or service that appears to work, but when you look deeper turns out to be a collection of badly thought out and badly implemented ideas that is going to cause you no end of grief.”
Councillor Hackett called me last week and tried to persuade me to go to the Danson Park Fireworks which was nice of him but I already had a ‘date’ elsewhere.
I have a sneaking suspicion he was looking for someone to stand on the gate with
him for company while he checked tickets and froze his toes off.
The display was organised by Welling Round Table and Danny very recently switched from being one of their many volunteers to being a Member. Their fireworks display is probably the biggest #doitforbexley event in the borough, exactly the sort of thing that the Council seeks to encourage. The community coming together to raise pots of money for worthy causes without costing the Council a single penny.
Unfortunately Bexley Council may not have quite got the idea of #doitforbexley yet.
Each year it publishes its charges for everything from A boards outside shops to weddings at Hall Place and in between is the hiring of parks. As far as I can make out it charged the Round Table the standard £1,500 to hire Danson park, £340 for the banners to advertise it and £40 a week for each one seen hanging on the boundary fences which it cannot even be bothered to hang up itself.
It does nothing to help with parking and the Round Table has to arrange parking restrictions and its volunteers have to get hold of the cones and put them out themselves. It doesn’t look like genuine community encouragement to me, more an attempt to make a quick buck.
At last night’s Full Council meeting the Independent Thamesmead East Councillor Danny Hackett stood up to blow the Round Table’s trumpet and to ask a few questions.
In this year alone the RT has raised £67,000 for local charities. Danny confirmed the stories I had heard about Bexley Council charging their fees for every last thing as described above and he said he had already raised the issue with both Council Officers and the Council Leader.
He queried the use of hashtag doitforbexley when support by the Council has been somewhat lacking.
I looked forward to hearing Teresa O’Neill doing a little squirming and wriggling. She said charges were necessary because otherwise “you would have people putting up banners all over the place”. (Not if you continued to require Council permission but charged a lot less you wouldn’t.)
However it wasn’t all bad news, the Leader is going to meet the President of the RT, former Conservative Councillor Kerry Allon, to see how the Council can be more helpful in future. She was “absolutely up for helping people to help our residents”. That must be good news for CC Events UK Ltd who were at the same meeting looking for Council support for their community endeavours.
It seems that Independent Councillors asking nicely can do more for the borough than the bickering variety.
Personally I wonder how it is the Finance Officer who not long ago was employed by Newham Council which pays for everything to do with its firework display can argue in Bexley that financial obstacles must be put in the way. The Round Table event must surely be a better way to have fun while keeping the costs down and if Teresa O’Neill sincerely wants to lend a helping hand all should be well in November 2020.
It was very silly of me to go to
the Extinction Rebellion meeting last week
instead of the Transport Users’ Sub-Committee in the the Civic Offices because I
probably missed the details of how South Eastern are planning to mitigate the
total loss of rail services on the Barnehurst, Bexleyheath and Welling line next
February. Network Rail is going to fix the constant land slip problems and the
only practical way is to shut the line for nine days 15th to 23rd February 2020.
The plan was first discussed at the meeting last March when Councillor Borella didn’t like the Chairman’s idea for rail replacement buses which involved a torturous journey all the way up to London and suggested express services to the nearest North Kent line station. Something like Barnehurst to Erith, Bexleyheath to Abbey Wood and Welling to Plumstead or Woolwich Arsenal.
I knew that this more sensible idea was taken on board by the rail authorities because of a conversation I had with Network Rail’s PR Department in September. Thanks to The Lewisham & Bexleyheath Community Rail Partnership, a commuter group as I understand it, I can bring news of what is actually proposed.
A half-hourly peak period only bus service from Barnehurst to Slade Green. (Not Erith which is a much easier road route but is served by fewer trains than Slade Green.)
Bexleyheath and Welling to be served by a quarter-hourly ‘circular’ service. Abbey Wood to Bexleyheath, on to Welling and back to Abbey Wood in a clockwise direction only. Bexleyheath commuters will be well pleased with that in the morning!
Going further afield Falconwood and Eltham will be provided with a quarter-hourly ‘circular’ serving Mottingham, Eltham, Falconwood and back to Mottingham. At present several peak hour trains skip Mottingham so the idea does not look too clever unless the train timetable is amended.
The Rail Partnership has proposed several amendments which make better use of existing TfL bus services but if one looks at the route detail for the rail replacement buses one can still see problems. Residents of New Road in Abbey Wood will see up to eight more double deckers passing their doors every hour and quite how they are supposed to turn right into Wilton Road at the end of Abbey Road and stop at the foot of the station stairs I am not sure.
I wasn’t surprised to hear that the Chairman of the Transport Users’ Sub-Committee has proved to be every bit as helpful to The Partnership as one might expect. She is fortunate to have one knowledgeable Councillor on her Committee in the shape of Stefano Borella (Labour, Slade Green and North End).
The full Barnehurst mitigation proposals may be viewed here.
I'm not sure for how much longer I can continue to attend Bexley Council meetings. It is well known that
Anti-Social Behaviour makes Bexleyheath
ia no-go area after 3 p.m. Monday to Friday but it seems to be getting the same in the evening.
For the second time recently it was difficult to find somewhere to park the car. My long term favourite spot has eight bays in a road with no houses and it was almost unknown not to find one or two of them free.
Last night the wall piddlers were back in force standing under a non-functioning street light with all eight parking bays empty. Presumably I am not the only one to be frightened away. The evening economy must suffer.
It would be a shame to miss Full Council meetings, the atmosphere is totally lost on the webcast and they give good value for money. Last night’s will provide blogging material for a week. The only slight downside is that Mayor Geraldene Lucia-Hennis is far too good a Chairman to let the meeting descend into chaos. Bring back Councillor Val Clark I say!
Most Council meetings are enlivened or spoiled depending on one’s point of view by a politically motivated irrelevant diatribe by Cabinet Member for Resources David Leaf. However yesterday being the first day of electioneering his rant might be more appropriate than usual. It was also quite restrained by his standards. After doing his best to humiliate Labour Leader Daniel Francis after a Conservative Member planted a mischievous question, Councillor Leaf got into his rabble rousing stride
I’m not sure a Full Council meeting is the appropriate venue for tub thumping but he’s actually quite good at it isn’t he?
I shouldn’t have tempted fate by suggesting it was “flimsy” and that it
was only a matter of time
before a speeding motorist would demolish the Erith Cob as had happened to a similar statue in Scotland.
But I was wrong, it lost a leg due to the inattention of an Asda lorry’s driver.
Yesterday Bexley Council Leader Teresa O’Neill quietly announced that the two tonne horse is beyond repair.
The Leader has been in touch with the top brass at Asda and asked them to fix what they have wrecked. They are consulting their lawyers and she is hopeful of a satisfactory outcome.
You probably know by now that there is an election coming. 😉 I for one am not
sure who I will be voting for although I do know who I won’t be voting for. One
of the things that is important to me is Brexit. In simplistic terms is Boris
Johnson stretching a point a little too far when he speaks of his agreement or has Nigel Farage gone off his rocker?
To get to the truth I have been reading the European Union Withdrawal Agreement, the Johnson version. It is heavy going and 599 pages long and I have only got 10% into it so far.
I don’t much mind the transition period, thanks to three years of dithering by the Maybot a clean break is no longer possible, nor do I object to EU citizens being given all sorts of rights and the European Court of Justice having jurisdiction during that transition period.
However I don’t think I like “The United Kingdom’s judicial and administrative authorities shall have due regard to relevant case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union handed down after the end of the transition period”. We are stuck with the buggers for evermore!
That looks like Nigel Farage 1 : Boris Johnson nil to me. There are however more things to this election than Brexit. The loss of Scotland, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, our savings, our houses and the shirts off our backs is not unimportant but if by the time I get to page 599 of the Agreement the score is Nigel 10 : Boris nil then it will be time for pause for thought.
While Bexley news is thin on the ground - it’s not going to last long - I considered keeping a score of election lies just for a bit of fun. There’s bound to be a ready supply of them.
In the past 24 hours or so we have seen the so called Liberal Democrats edit a Guardian newspaper headline so that it favoured them more directly than it actually did and not content with that deception they fiddled with some figures on a graph to the extent they became another whopping big lie. When did LibDems not lie?
The Conservatives mischievously edited a video clip of Labour’s Keir Starmer and Sky News made up a total lie about Conservative Chairman James Cleverly failing to turn up for interview with one of their third rate presenters.
I didn’t see it because I almost never turn on the TV and absolutely never in the early morning, however I did catch James twice while flitting between LBC and TalkRadio.
I am old enough to remember that if you heard something on the BBC news it must be true but now you cannot trust any of them, least of all Sky.
Finally we saw all and sundry - more accurately the broadcast media and the loony left - complaining that Jacob Rees-Mogg had said something offensive about the Grenfell Tower fire. I heard him on LBC speaking to presenter Nick Ferrari.
Jacob R-M said, with the benefit of hindsight of course, “The more one’s read over the weekend about the report and about the chances of people surviving, if you just ignore what you’re told and leave you are so much safer and I think if either of us were in a fire, whatever the fire brigade said, we would leave the burning building. It just seems the common sense thing to do. And it is such a tragedy that that didn’t happen.”
There is absolutely nothing offensive about that, it is basically what the official Grenfell report said.
Nick Ferrari agreed and so do I, I said the same to a friend on the day the report came out and I don’t have the benefit of an Eton education to help work it out.
James Cleverly apologised for the remark even though it seemed like a statement of the obvious to me but then I would not expect anything very sensible from James Cleverly. I met and spoke to him once and formed the impression that he was a bit of a prat.
Most MPs seem to be not over-blessed with brain cells. For the most part they are not any more intelligent than the average Jo waiting in a bus queue. The next five weeks are going to demonstrate that fact on a daily basis.
Bexley Council is fond of telling us of things that it does well
compared to other Councils, recycling being the obvious one but it may also have
more world class parks than most although it has occasionally added totally spurious examples
like the Happiness Index where in fact it wasn’t even in the top half of London
Councils and in nowhere land countrywide.
The Government recently offered Councils more money for electric car charging points which is another area where Bexley Council has proved to be a laggard and a failure. Local authorities have been placed in four categories of success and Bexley is second to bottom because it only has eight charging points per 100,000 of population.
By contrast Dartford has 15, Lewisham 19, Bromley 22, Newham 24 and Greenwich 61. (Government figures.)
But it could be worse, Harrow has 6 and Havering only 4.
Note: Transport Minister Grant Shapps recently bought a Tesla Model 3 (see image) and was an instant convert to electric driving; hence green number plates, driving in bus lanes, free parking and higher speed limits hitting the headlines.
If you were born lucky you may have been driving past Abbey Wood Sainsbury’s at twelve minutes past eleven yesterday morning because for
just a minute or two the road that has been a stop go bottleneck for the past month was completely clear of obstructions.
Bexley’s contractor was moving on to work on the eastern carriageway. More blocks; however to the surprise of many they have done their best to avoid further congestion. Traffic is being allowed to squeeze carefully by in both directions.
It probably doesn’t help pedestrians trying to cross the road and one must hope that drivers respect the decision made in their favour. The sound of hooting at drivers who were being careful and respectful to pedestrians earlier today suggests that many will fully live up to local expectations.
Work continues on adjacent roads too. To the south of the station Gayton Road remains unfinished despite its end of January completion date and to the north Felixstowe Road which should have been completely rebuilt by September makes the usual slow progress.
There are however many signs that the project must be approaching its end game. The road surface is complete (but the scheduled reopening date passed a month ago).
Other signs of completion are the parking signs. You must be using a taxi, a disabled badge or capable of nipping into the shop and out again within five minutes to be allowed to stop anywhere near the station.
There is no doubt a parking problem. Gayton Road and its pavements have become a long term car park, the worst I observed was for three days.
All without penalty despite the opportunity for Bexley Council to make a PCN killing. They can’t even get a CEO down there daily. Are they really proposing to station one in Felixstowe Road all day long to enforce their five minute restriction? Is Bexley a suburb of Cloud Cuckoo Land? (Please don’t answer that one.)
Councillor Craske has been on a mission in recent days to discover who might be willing to sell fireworks to
children and he is very pleased, as everyone over the age of 18 surely will be, to
announce that every single retailer complied with the law.
It wasn’t always so.
For example shopkeeper Baljeet Singh was fined £1,200 with £430 costs and a £120 victim surcharge for selling fireworks to under age customers (see associated Tweet) and in another case Jarnail Singh did the same thing and had his knuckles lightly rapped by the Licensing Committee. The report is still on the News Shopper’s website (click associated small image)
Why the difference? That’s an easy one to answer.
Baljeet Singh stood for election on a Labour ticket in 2010 and was clearly a hardened criminal. On the other hand Jarmail Singh was a Tory candidate at the same election and had made an innocent mistake.
Don’t tell me that Conservative Councillors in Bexley are honest upstanding citizens. Trust Councillor Read to be up to his neck in the skullduggery.
There's been a popular little cafe in Lesnes Abbey Park for the past couple
of years but now it is shut. An enforced closure by Bexley Council over what is
believed to be a minor disagreement about opening hours. But maybe not, no one wants to talk.
Bexley Council has been gunning for Amal Abdi the franchisee since last year and thinks it can find someone better than her to run it.
They have been advertising the concession since the Summar and no one seems to be interested in working for a Council that might toss you aside without a second thought. The end result is obvious. Small minded people in the Council have deprived park visitors of a valuable asset. There is no more common sense in the Parks Department than there is in Highways.
For someone who has never seen the attraction of kicking round balls I have
spent an awful lot of time corresponding with football supporters over the past
two months. They have been supplied with documents most of which have never been published
on Bonkers about the son of former Bexley Council Deputy Leader Colin Campbell -
he who blatantly lied about me on BBC TV.
Those papers contain reports of the business malpractices, a Court case and bankruptcy of Mark Campbell. My interest was aroused because he was claiming to be an American millionaire and wanted to buy Falkirk Football Club. Much the same sort of activity we have seen before.
Some of the supporters smelled a rat. I and some of Mark’s Bexley associates were happy to supply them with unsavoury evidence - to good effect it would appear. Mark Campbell is not going to become the new owner of Football FC.
Click image above for yet another difficult to get into newspaper website.
nearly ten years since I first told Independent Councillor Danny Hackett that he would never make a successful politician.
At the time he was a red hot Blairite and was somewhat taken aback.
“Because you are too damned honest.”
It took me until this time last year to additionally realise that he had become in every way bar Brexit just as right wing as I am.
As we all now know, Danny’s position within the Labour Party finally became untenable when he nailed his colours to the mast over anti-Semitism. He had come a long way since June 2017 when he was the Labour candidate in Old Bexley and Sidcup.
Danny has not only proved to be too honest for his own good but fearless too. He has come out in support of his 2017 rival in Old Bexley reaping the wrath of some rather unpleasant people in the process.
I am sure he meant well but I cannot help but wonder if his intervention may have unintended consequences in the same way that President Trump’s condemnation of Jeremy Corbyn is alleged to have done.
Among many others I am still waiting the naming of the Conservative contender in my Erith and Thamesmead constituency. My vote for him is not a foregone conclusion, what if he were to be a Dominic Grieve impersonator? For me the priority must be stopping the UK becoming the new Venezuela.
Maybe there is a clue in this very recent Erith and Thamesmead photo? Who is centre stage with a big wide grin?
Welling Round Table put on their annual firework show last night, a good job
the weather settled down a bit, I bet it was muddy. It is the ultimate example
of #doitforbexley. Costs a fortune to put on, involves scores of volunteers, puts a smile
on thousands of faces and raises huge sums for charity.
As you can see (image below), it is supported by the Mayor of Bexley which may give the impression that it is supported by Bexley Council, maybe not 100% support as in Newham but at least bucket loads of assistance.
Hard evidence is next to impossible to uncover but I am as sure as I can be without seeing the bills that Bexley Council ‘taxes’ the Round Table for every little thing it needs to do to run a successful display. In other words taxing charitable causes.
Which Councillor is going to tell me that I’m wrong?
And then the Council makes a fat profit out of ignoramuses who still don’t know it is illegal to park on the pavement anywhere in London.
It is 89 days since Bexley Council said that
Felixstowe Road would be closed
for nine weeks. The road was in fact finished a couple of days ago, the work has
moved on to footpaths and flower beds or whatever the earth filled area is for.
Why isn’t the road open? It would take very little effort. Could it be that there is no one in Andrew Bashford’s department with the brain power to come to some sort of compromise? Abbey Wood has been crippled by traffic problems for nearly three years.
It is the same on Harrow Manorway. Having forgotten to put in some unnecessary granite blocks, three weeks ago some not very temporary traffic lights were installed while the road was dug up and more blocks installed. By last Thursday the job had reached the half way stage, presumably work will commence on the eastern carriageway next week.
If Andrew Bashford and Co. had one iota of commonsense Abbey Wood could have had some relief from the perpetual chaos for three days. But no one cares, it’s only Scabby Wood. It doesn’t matter.
If you live in Teresa Pearce’s constituency and had the necessary ID with
you, you could have turned up at the Labour candidate selection hustings yesterday and
cast a vote for one of the three short listed candidates.
I was relieved to learn late last night that Abena Oppong-Asare had triumphed proving among other things that a slick video does not a good MP make. Best of the three for the Bexley end of the constituency by a wide margin. Where did the other two live? Far enough away to need a satnav to get here.
So we have a Labour candidate that people who can find something attractive in the Labour manifesto can reasonably vote for. No ID required. Vote for Abena as many times as you like.
I was explaining Bexleyֹ’s SEN cock-up to a friend this morning and it made me realise that
the formal report into who said what
about whom wasn’t really sufficient, at least one question should be asked and answered. A big question.
On 2nd July Councillor John Fuller through no fault of his own found himself making a false statement about SEN transport. It was disappointing to hear because John Fuller is the most approachable - no, the only approachable - Cabinet Member. He very occasionally indulges in the political rough and tumble of Council meetings but there’s never a suggestion of the dishonesty that one might expect from Well you can guess.
At last Tuesday’s meeting Simon James, the Council Officer in charge, made a clean breast of it. He admitted that John Fuller had been left to wallow in ignorance of the real situation on 2nd July which was unforgiveable.
We also learned from Chairman Alan Downing that the staff who were responsible for the stress dished out to so many parents and the extreme embarrassment to John Fuller had left the Council’s employment but it would be a senior officer who would be responsible for advising John Fuller wouldn’t it? Not a minion.
So the boss has been given the elbow; no?
Not at all, it seems that it must be junior officers who paid the ultimate employment price because the Minutes of the 2nd July meeting record that sitting alongside Cabinet Member Fuller was his right hand man Simon James, yes, that Simon James.
One couldn’t make it up. The man who should have steered Cabinet Member Fuller away from his embarrassment simply didn’t. As the Minutes show, he was right there alongside John Fuller.
His juniors were shown the door but it is him who last Tuesday said that in future, procedures would include keeping the Cabinet Member in the loop.
Can you believe it? The question must be how did he get away with it? In Bexley you have to believe in the incredible.
Minutes of 2nd July meeting. Simon James was sitting right next to John Fuller and watched him flounder without coming to his assistance.
A second question was buzzing around my head today.
At every General Election the Labour Party trots out some tired mantra like “24
hours to save the NHS”. This time they have returned to a tried and tested
favourite. The Conservatives are going to privatise the NHS.
I have been following election campaigns since 1959 and if memory serves correctly Labour always come out with something like that. So my question is why is the NHS still a a government agency? Maybe the Labour Party is scaremongering again and who was it that first introduced Prescription Charges anyway?
The inquest into Bexley Council’s SEN failures took up an hour and a half of
Committee time and to demonstrate that it was a serious matter it was well attended by non-Committee members too.
The sorry saga began at a Communities Scrutiny meeting in July, a meeting I decided not to go to after a long day in East Ham, I did however sit and listen to the webcast at home and there was one bit I remember very well. That is Cabinet Member John Fuller telling the Committee how well the Council had been doing with SEN transport even beating one pesky parent in Court. Unusually, that meeting was not reported here, however I did keep a recording of it.
Two weeks later
at a Full Council meeting the Labour Group pulled their rabbit from the hat; the Local Government Ombudsman did not agree with Councillor Fuller and
had ruled against Bexley several times. The Labour Group
issued a Press Release.
From there it is probably safe to ignore Tweedledee and Tweedledum’s Twitter attack, it was all bluster and distortions as we have come to expect, and examine this week’s inquest in greater detail.
The meeting began immediately and without any of the usual Agenda preliminaries with an apology from the Chief Executive Jacky Belton and a baptism of fire because amazingly I have not heard her address a public Council meeting in her previous seven months in office.
As stated elsewhere she was not in office at the critical time.
She offered “sincere apologies to the eight families who went to the Ombudsman and for the way their transport needs were assessed and for not implementing the LGO recommendations in a timely manner”. Three of the families had to return to the Ombudsman before obtaining justice. “It was totally unacceptable, We got it wrong”.
Council Leader Teresa O’Neill said she didn’t know about the LGO cases and that is one of the lessons that must be learned. She “was sorry about the impact it had on families”.
One of the parents addressed the Committee. Her son had been provided with transport for three years but then she came up against a refusal. All her enquiries received generic unsigned responses, no explanation was provided and her son was transformed into a ‘she’. “All deadlines were missed and I was left with no option but to go to the Ombudsman who found the Council at fault on 15th January and gave them a month to issue a full apology and arrange a fresh appeal.”
Bexley Council failed to respond even after being chased five times. When another apology date was missed, four more reminders fell on deaf ears. Eventually an appeal outcome was received on 5th April well outside the LGO timescale. It came with an assurance that her son’s ten months of transport problems had not affected his education. There had been no consultation with his mother and the Council felt it appropriate to criticise her for not sending a daughter to the nearest school. (There was a very good reason for it.)
To add insult to injury Bexley Council told her that there was no further recourse to Appeal. The LGO said that that advice was entirely incorrect. The stress caused by Bexley Council’s contempt for the law put the mother in hospital and she decided that her health was no longer good enough to pursue the case further.
She informed Bexley Council after which they said not another word. No sympathy, no empathy, no regret for the problems they had caused. The mother is a School Governor and knows that at no time did Bexley Council inform the school of what was going on.
Councillor Putson (Labour, Belvedere) asked the lady a question. “Was the action taken by the Council correct and as recorded in the Agenda?” The mother said that the Agenda was not a correct reflection of what happened.
Councillor Ogundayo (Labour, Thamesmead East) asked if help had been sought from elsewhere, politicians perhaps. The parent said that David Evennett MP and Cabinet Member John Fuller had both been notified but she “struggled to get a response”. David Evennett passed on her email to the school “but no one from the Council ever contacted the school”.
Councillor Diment (Conservative, Sidcup) expressed his sympathy for what had happened and asked what the situation was “in the new school year” but alas there could be no answer as the mother had been refused transport for her son this year. As a Governor she had heard that things were improved.
Councillor Perfect asked how she felt about the Council after finding herself beaten down to the point she felt unable to pursue the appeal that the LGO said she was entitled to. “Do you trust the Council now?”
“If the Council won’t listen to the Ombudsman we stand no chance as parents. The Council’s response was an insult.”
Councillor Dourmoush (Conservative, Longlands) asked “What can the Council do for you?”
“Improve communication, show empathy and not treat children as numbers. Recognise the stress involved in being an SEN parent. Start the process earlier so that it is completed before schools close for the Summer. Every Summer holiday is ruined by arranging transport. It is heartbreaking.”
The Council Officer in charge of SEN Transport, a Mr. Simon James, admitted mistakes were made in his department right up to the 2018/19 academic year. Among the mistakes were incorrect distance assessments, no explanations offered to parents and no notification to the Cabinet Member. “Those mistakes will not be repeated in the future.”
More children are being assisted and fewer complaints are now being made, none to the Ombudsman. Among the improvements made are bringing the responsible staff closer together with a single manager and improved training. The need for parents to apply annually when circumstances had not changed had been abolished and decisions would be made before the end of term.
Councillor Ogundayo asked why the issues with Local Government Ombudsman were not made available to the meeting in July (when Councillor Fuller painted a rosy picture).
At the same meeting Cabinet Member Fuller said “schools are on our side” but the parent Governor speaking tonight said that was not correct. “Which schools were happy and which were concerned?”
Councillor Ogundayo also quoted the words of John Fuller provided in audio form above and asked for it to be justified. “How much did the family highlighted have to pay the Council following the lost Court case?”
Mr. James said the information should have been shared but wasn’t. There was no information available on happy or concerned schools but a programme of meetings with schools had been implemented.
Councillor Ogundayo said that her questions had not been properly answered but was told that there was no information on which schools had been supportive of Council policy which must cast doubt on the veracity of some of the statements made in July.
Councillor Ogundayo’s question about the lost Court case remained unanswered but tChairman Alan Downing ruled the question to be “old history” and inappropriate to the meeting. The Councillor complained that the lack of transparency made it more difficult to learn from history. The Chairman told her “to sit quiet for a moment”.
Councillor Putson referred to the Agenda which listed the number of complaints and appeals and asked how accurate the figures might be given that they were pretty much all wrong in July. Absolutely accurate this time apparently. He went on to ask why it was that at the last meeting the Cabinet Member was allowed to (innocently) give out wrong information when the responsible officer was there and could have corrected him.
No straight answer was provided, just an assurance that this time the figures were correct.
Councillor Ogundayo came back with her question about the amount awarded to the Council when a parent lost a Court case. Complaining parents ought to know the risks. She still didn’t get anything beyond apologies for past mistakes.
The Chairman offered his opinion that no single individual was responsible for the mistakes although he understood that “none of those are now present in the Council.” Despite that I counted seven managers from the appropriate hierarchy sitting at the Committee table. Maybe only junior heads rolled.
Councillor Ogundayo pressed her Court costs question once again and this time was promised a written response.
Councillor Putson also asked about staffing levels and as reported yesterday they have risen from three to seven but in reality an even bigger increase because the three often suffered vacancies.
Referring once again to the Agenda he drew attention to statements that appeared to be “misleading, or inaccurate or contradictory” and were the dismissed cases dismissed as a result of “political or budgetary pressures or policy or staff error?”
The Chairman didn’t like his question and was “disappointed that it was asked. Bringing in politics is really out of order”.
Councillor Perfect (Labour, Northumberland Heath) attempted to bring the Cabinet Member to account for his “ignorance” on 2nd July. Councillor Fuller didn’t like that word and reiterated what Council Officers had already said more than once. No one had told him the truth but since then he had “worked hard and had meetings almost daily to put it right”.
Councillor Francis (Labour, Belvedere) said the Council is claiming that they were correct in one case “but the LGO said in writing we hadn’t complied and the lady walked away only because she was exhausted by the process and we are still saying we were correct but that is not what the LGO put in writing to the lady who made the presentation this evening.” Bexley Council will always deceive if it can and only the Labour Councillors can be relied on to expose them. Note who asked the only difficult questions recorded above.
Even the Chairman thought that Councillor Francis had made a good point.
Labour Leader Councillor Francis reminded Committee Members that almost half the families rejected for SEN transport last year had it reinstated and the LGO had complained of a lack of transparency and non-compliance. The Chief Executive herself circulated “an email on the 24th of July which was quite frankly, in retrospect, full of errors. It basically said only eight cases, nothing more to see here. That email bears no resemblance to where we are now.”
Finally there was Councillor Ogundayo’s question about a more public apology but as already reported she was given short shrift when all the Conservatives voted against further apologies. It’s always best in Bexley to hush things up if you can.