I try to restrict my Twitterings to the announcement of new blogs and
sometimes not even then. Getting in too deeply can lead to arguments that I
would prefer to do without but no one is perfect and sometimes the temptation is too great.
I was more than tempted yesterday. A Mr. Charlie Davis - no I’d never heard of him either - Tweeted “I’ve campaigned to improve signage for the shops on Wilton Rd. Today it was great to see these now installed after working with @LT_FRENCH and @bexleynews”. (Bexley Council’s Deputy Leader and the Conservatives’ official source of frequently false propaganda respectively.)
I responded “that is the most outrageous lie”.
Mr. Davis was adopted as the Conservative GLA candidate for Lewisham and Greenwich last March and provision of the new signage was in hand long before that. It perhaps wasn’t so much a lie as a gross deception. Any campaign by Mr. Davis was worthless as the signs were a done deal before he came on the scene and to claim the credit is shameful.
Please allow me to explain.
There is a Traders’ Association for Wilton Road (AWTA) and the surrounding area and I have attended every one of their meetings bar one. Bexley Council apparently sought my exclusion from meetings, I am tempted to say that they feared the truth might leak out if I was there, but they were over-ruled by the Association’s Committee.
I write the minutes of the meetings and audio record them all. That’s 38 meetings.
Except for the inaugural meeting no Greenwich Councillor has ever attended a meeting. Danny Hackett when a Lesnes Abbey ward (Bexley) Councillor attended when invited but Sally Hinkley who took his place in the newly created Belvedere (Bexley) ward has been a little more forceful. She actively seeks invitations.
The Minutes for the 9th January meeting record that
Sally took away the problems relating to ASB, the lack of signage directing potential customers to the shops, the overflowing litter bins and the reduced number of parking spaces available since the Crossrail works began in 2013 and the extension of double yellow lines.
Councillor Hinkley got busy the very next day and received a positive response. On 3rd February she requested an update and on 6th February was able to report back to the Traders’ Association as follows
Bexley Council has agreed to provide additional signage to the shops and has already surveyed and consulted the AWTA Chairman about where best to place them. The existing station signage would be improved once the rail authorities had given their permission.
Another site meeting was arranged with the AWTA Chairman, it took place a whole month before Mr. Davis came on to the scene.
The final design of the signs and their location was approved by the AWTA Chairman in June this year. The July minutes record Councillor Hinkley close liaison with all concerned. A graphic of the proposed sign was provided and included in the July minutes.
As of yesterday no active AWTA member had heard of Mr. Davis.
Mr. Davis claims to have spoken to a trader, one who has attended only one of the 38 meetings but who will have received copies of the minutes. He may well have remembered Sally’s promise in January but must have forgotten the February minutes that recorded that signs were already in hand.
Mr. Davis has sought the assistance of Deputy Council Leader Louie French to deflect criticism of his claim to have been instrumental in the provision of signs and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that neither knew of Councillor Hinkley’s success when they decided to take action - assuming they did.
But it still doesn’t make sense.
Somewhere down the line must be the man who designs or approves signs. We know he was not only involved, he had agreed the new signage as long ago as February. Someone had been out to do a site survey in February. It is inconceivable that word did not get back to the Conservative pair that the job was already done.
Despite that they went ahead and attempted to claim credit for the signs was theirs. It is a pretty much an exact repeat of Councillor Wendy Perfect arranging for bus stop removal in Northumberland Heath and the Tories stepping in with their photo opportunities and less than honest Press Releases to marginalise here.
I couldn’t care less about the morals of an insignificant politician from Eltham but it is a matter of concern that Bexley’s Deputy Leader may have gone along with the deception. We already have a pair of Bexley Councillors who have perfected that technique and we really don’t need another. Maybe his ignorance was genuine, I would like to think so, but it puts him in the same position as another Cabinet Member under the spotlight.
The claim bears the hallmarks of Councillor Philip Read. Can it be coincidence that he was present when the video (below) was made?
The uselessness of Sadiq Khan and his lack of interest in Abbey Wood does not go unnoticed at AWTA meetings. Water fountain excepted, no one at the GLA has given it any attention since Boris Johnson was in charge; whatever happened to him?
Here is Mr. Davis’s address to the people of Abbey Wood. We need someone to take an interest in Abbey Wood after years of neglect but we also need absolute honesty from our politicians.
Someone who presumably hangs his TV on the wall in portrait mode.
It looked bad when Labour Leader Daniel Francis revealed some of the
caused by Bexley’s money pinching approach to SEN transport. His criticisms
were confirmed by
the Local Government Ombudsman but in reality it was even worse than first thought.
It wasn't just £250 compensation to a couple of families, it added up to more than £13,000 and if Cabinet Member for Education John Fuller was not told what was going on as seems likely some management heads definitely need to be rolled.
The Conservatives’ only response was to obfuscate on Twitter. The Chief Executive Jackie Belton took two and a half months to respond to Councillor Francisְ’ initial enquiry.
The initial estimates were that only 47 people would be
affected and squeezing them would save £18,000; so including administrative
costs that will all be well and truly down the compensation drain, not to mention the reputational cost.
The Labour Group has issued a Press Release.
is it with all these Labourites complaining about the proposal for compulsory
identification when voting?
What do they fear? It’s not as if it is going to cost anything if by chance one of their supporters has no bank account, no driving licence and pays no utility bills. I think we know what they fear don’t we?
I’ve still got my childhood Identity Card, and my mother’s and my father’s. Mine records four addresses through 1945 to 1949. London E10, then E11, then E10 again and finally Farnborough in Hampshire.
It records that it is a reissued card, the original having been incinerated by a German Doodlebug.
And what about David Blunkett (Labour Home Secretary) and his plan that we should all carry ID at all times like they do across Europe.
I think I detect the usual biased lunacy going on.
It’s not the first time it’s
happened but Bexley Council seems to be totally unable to work out where its western boundary is. It’s only three months since
placed parking restrictions on Abbey Wood Road a good 100 metres beyond the
boundary, Now they are warning about Blue Badge misuse on the Greenwich side of Wilton Road.
There is no equivalent notice by the disabled parking bays on the Bexley side of the road.
Beneath the new notice are the tattered remains of a temporary notice that Bexley Council put there three years ago. Maybe it is an acknowledgement of the fact that the road works it warned of are still a very long way from being finished.
anonymous messaging facility has paid dividends again. It informs me that the
absentee Bexley Director Paul Moore is due to speak in Westminster on the
subject of Crossrail 2 in December.
That's the Projected North/South Crossrail isn't it, not the extension to Ebbsfleet that Bexley Council is backing?
Click the image below to look at the source website.
I try to keep up with what goes on in Barnet where the Conservative run Council can at best be said to be in disarray
and has resorted to all sorts of undemocratic processes aimed at hiding their various failures. Ten years ago Bexley
would have been proud of their ingenuity. Indeed many of Barnet’s restrictions on public
engagement at meetings bear marked similarities to the bad old days in Bexley.
Have they resorted to web publishing the names and addresses of all questioners and
insisting on their presence when asking it yet as Bexley did? It was only one
step away from notifying the burgling fraternity directly.
I read earlier this week that Barnet ‘fulfilled’ its legal obligation to provide Agendas to attendees by providing just two copies per meeting. A photograph suggested that may have been one for every twenty members of the public.
In Bexley they do it better. Printing too many copies is a waste of money so the numbers required are reasonably accurately estimated. Last Thursday the lady on the top table shown below had saved a copy specially for me. How nice was that?
One of the subjects up for discussion at that meeting was charging for admission to Hall Place gardens, an idea that has been kicked around all year.
Former Councillor Howard Marriner was there to represent Bexley Civic Society which is adversely affected by the new rearrangements. The Art Gallery space will be insufficient and the hire charges are increasing. If that isn’t enough the Council proposes to restrict the time allowed to set up exhibitions. The net result is that Hall Place will become “unsuitable for the Society’s annual exhibition”. The same might apply to the History Fair. “Were there any other publicly accessible sites with parking facilities to enable such popular and well attended events to continue?”
Mr. Marriner also queried the practicality of a Bexley family having to turn up with possibly four sets of identification documents to gain admission at a reasonable price.
Cabinet Member Peter Craske responded by saying the booking fee for the History Fair would be £2,700 but next year it was to be kept at £1,400 with the implication it was the same as for this year. There had been several meetings with the Society since March to look for alternatives but none have yet been found.
Charges would be part of the Planning Application expected “before Christmas”.
Identification processes “would be the same as if you are going to a tip”.
Deputy Director for Communities Toni Ainge said there is “a need to generate additional income”. The shop would be rearranged to ensure that “pencil sharpeners” etc. caught the eyes of children on the way out.
Councillor June Slaughter (Conservative, Sidcup) was “concerned” for the future of the art exhibitions and the available space being “far less”. It would be “sad” to see the exhibitions and fairs discontinued.
Councillor Cheryl Bacon (Conservative, Sidcup) accepted the need for charges but wanted to see Hall Place advertised more widely as a tourist destination. She too was concerned about the practicalities of the discount processes for Bexley residents. The peripheral borough post codes are not always a good guide.
She was told that a Driving Licence would be sufficient ID but beyond that there were accessible databases which would interrogate electoral rolls, bank accounts and credit histories to indicate whether someone was likely to be living at the given address.
Councillor John Davey (Conservative, West Heath) felt there were far too many charging options. (See below.)
Councillor Davey also organises art exhibitions at Hall Place and thought it was going to be “very difficult” in future.
Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, Slade Green & North End) made a statement of the fairly obvious; if Bexley residents are messed around when visiting they won’t come back adding that Councillor Craske keeps Twittering about the investments being made in Hall Place but never a word about the charges.
The only helpful comment offered to Howard Marriner’s Civic Society came from Labour Councillor Sally Hinkley who suggested that the restored Carnegie Building in Erith might provide a better venue. Councillor Hinkley also pointed out that the Carer’s discount promised at an earlier meeting did not appear in the current schedule of charges. She was told it would do.
The Chairman Councillor Melvin Seymour made clear his own misgivings about the charges and he knew people who simply would not go in future.
The Contact page was temporarily withdrawn last month after it attracted
too many abusive messages but it was too valuable a facility to lose especially its optional anonymity.
I had knocked up the code myself many years ago from bits nicked off the web and it was far from perfect, those CAPTCHA spam filters are nothing but a pain; so I paid for better Contact code. The new page can do CAPTCHA but includes alternative security code. So far it appears to be working well without CAPTCHA and there have been more messages delivered that way since its introduction; nearly all of them anonymous.
One of the new facilities is the inclusion of attached files and the first of them arrived overnight.
It continues with the Bexley bullying theme and in particular whatever happened to long serving Director Paul Moore. Another message asks where the hell is the new Chief Executive Jackie Belton whose low profile has been mentioned already. I have no idea whether there is any justification for that report, perhaps she believes in holing up in her Civic Office bunker.
The Paul Moore submission is a little more substantive and says that a letter is circulating among staff that may shed a little light on his mysterious disappearance.
The attachment is not a proper scan but looks to me as though it was quickly snapped on a mobile. It is to be honest not as clear as it might be and disappointingly fails to include either a date or a signature, but it appears to be genuine enough in that I cannot imagine it was written by anyone other than Paul Moore.
From the bits that I am able to read I would say it is far too personal to be reproduced here but it is clearly written from the heart and a heart that someone appears to have broken.
I will leave you with this small extract. Someone at Bexley Council has been extraordinarily cruel towards Paul Moore. We had our very occasional differences but I could also refer you to incidents which would show him to be kind and caring. That might in itself explain why he is no longer welcome in Bexley, if that is indeed the case.
It seems longer than two and a bit months ago that Labour Leader Daniel Francis revealed how Bexley had been
severely criticised by the Local Government Ombudsman
for breaking the rules on the provision of SEN transport.
Bexley Council doesn’t take kindly to criticism as I learned many years ago when it reported me to the police for the crime of “criticising Councillors”. This time they stopped short of that. Bexley Council went to war with Councillor Francis on Twitter instead.
The Conservative Twitter account did what it was set up for. It lied big time. Councillor Francis was accused of “peddling made up stories” and it demanded an apology for his “false claim that the Cabinet Member for Education had misled the Council”.
I listened carefully several times to the recording of what Councillor Francis had said but failed to find serious fault with it.
He was critical of the Cabinet Member for Education for not making any reference to the LGO verdicts when
reporting formally on the situation only a few days earlier
but if that was unfair it could only be because the Cabinet Member had been kept in ignorance of it.
I’m not sure that makes the omission completely justifiable but the Tories continued to demand an apology.
For reasons best known to himself Councillor Francis apparently gave one, presumably confident that the truth would eventually come out.
It just has.
The LGO report issued yesterday makes it absolutely clear that Bexley Council was wholly at fault when dealing with several cases just as Councillor Francis had tried to tell us.
It has been made to pay parents financial compensation of £250 each plus £10 a day for every day each one of them was adversely affected by Bexley Council’s incompetence, assuming that that is all it was.
It has also confirmed what many of us knew already. Bexley Council is not “transparent”.
I had hoped that
the forty plus ugly poles that had sprouted up within spitting distance of Abbey
Wood station - the unpleasant phrase is probably excusable in Abbey Wood - might have some redeeming
feature, like Bexley Council using them for flower baskets, but I should have
known better. Most are to be used to tell residents what to do.
Photo 1 is a nice one, the bridge height limit cannot be seen behind the road width sign but what would you expect from Bexley’s Highways Department? It may have had less potential for catastrophic damage if they were placed the other way around.
You would be nuts to take the indicated route to The Thames Innovations Centre too. You may also note that we are past the predicted Felixstowe Road reopening date. Everything runs late.
Right next to the station which one might have hoped would be a drop off point, stopping is Taxis Only. Black Licensed Cabs only if what the Traders’ Association was told is true.
And those poor Felixstowe Road shop owners. They have endured years of Crossrail inflicted hell and now Bexley Council decrees that no one can stop outside their shops without showing a Blue Badge.
The camera Exif data shows that Photos 5 and 8 were taken only a minute apart - they are not displayed in chronological sequence. During that time I was approached by two beggars asking for fifty pence and separately an abusive man and his dog demanding to see my Street Photography Licence, whatever that may be. I almost never go into Abbey Wood with cash in my pocket, it is not a very nice place to be at the best of times. Avoid it if you can.
It was going to be new wheelie bins by July
but that didn’t happen; Bexley Council messed up the tendering process and delivery was deferred until
September but September has come and gone with no signs of new bins anywhere.
However at a Council meeting yesterday evening the powers that be were
absolutely confident. The first of the 160,000 new wheelie bins will definitely hit the
streets on 4th November without a shadow of doubt and totally without fail. Nothing can go wrong now.
Delivery will be strung out over 14 weeks ending in the middle of next February. No deliveries over Christmas and New Year but twice as many in the preceding week.
Contingency plans have been made for bad weather, snow in particular, and as long as it was not exceptional weather should not cause a delay.
Councillors did not have an awful lot to say and perhaps the most thoughtful question came from Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, Slade Green & North End) who pointed out that 24,000 residents had changed their preferred size of bin away from the Council's default choice way back in May and many people will have moved house by next February. The likelihood is that new occupants would have chosen differently and the Council had said there could be no going back on the original choice and that would be potentially inconvenient to say the least.
The responsible Council Officer thought the rule would be relaxed once the main distribution was completed.
From the middle of this month residents will be able to enter their address into a Council web form and be provided with their bin distribution date. There will be a big publicity campaign across the borough.
Councillor Borella pressed the Deputy Director for the real reason for the four months delayed distribution but his request for information was refused.
Council Officers are shortly to go on a jolly to Telford to see bins coming off the manufacturer’s production line.
There was a Cabinet meeting yesterday. I arranged my day to give a free
evening; I charged my recorder batteries, I packed the camera and then I looked at the Agenda.
Obesity and Preparing SEN Pupils for Adulthood.
Ten years experience of reporting Council meetings told me that neither subject, laudable though they might be, were going to attract many readers. The rain and the usual difficulties finding a place to park near the Civic Offices all pointed to a webcast viewing being good enough.
Up to a point I was right, a necessary discussion no doubt, but somewhat tedious stuff and then it all went wrong. 55 minutes after it began the webcast failed and soon afterwards a message popped up to say it would resume shortly. It never did. Eventually I turned off my desktop PC but ten minutes later my laptop reported that the meeting had ended.
It is very obvious to anyone walking the streets of Bexley that the borough has an obesity problem and the Council’s resident doctor has developed a plan to deal with it. His report included the names of 100 people who had assisted him. This is one very big and expensive plan.
It includes improving diets with fruit and vegetables and reducing the number of takeaways. Hiding high fat, sugar and salt products. Increasing breastfeeding and giving parents of children under four vouchers for healthy foods. Providing more free drinking water, encouraging physical activity including walking and cycling. Maximising the use of parks and outdoor play.
Doctor Ghosh described the Obesity Strategy as “ambitious and far reaching” and if successful “will have a massive transformational impact”. He hoped it would equalise health between the wealthy and poorer parts of the borough and add five years to life.
Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer said that the Strategy was the culmination of a great deal of work by Dr. Ghosh and his team. He said it “was the most detailed Strategy he had seen in many years and required to tackle one of Bexley’s health related time bombs”.
Cabinet Member John Fuller told how he had given encouragement to school heads and pushed for more Physical Education.
Cabinet Member Brad Smith trod his usual path of “you cannot judge a service by the amount of money you pour into it, its the outcomes that are important.”
Councillor David Leaf concluded for the Cabinet with a story about the relatively low price of apples in supermarkets and said that the Strategy “was all gain” and Bexley was leading the way for other boroughs to catch up.
Labour Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, Slade Green & North End) has a professional interest in healthy food but said that often the amount is just as important. Some GPs do not understand diet and whilst that may be outside the Council’s remit, it was important. He did however think that Environmental Health Officers could offer advice especially to takeaways on how minor menu changes could have big benefits. He was given assurance that Environment Health Officers are involved with exactly.
He welcomed the Obesity Strategy but regretted that it contained no reference to food banks where people may have little interest in healthy eating, only satisfying hunger. He was told that although food banks are not mentioned in the Strategy they are included in the Action Plan
Councillor Mabel Ogundayo (Labour, Thamesmead East) asked if available budgets were sufficient to ensure the Strategy’s success. Dr. Ghosh was “confident”.
After just 20 minutes the Strategy was adopted and the discussion moved on to helping SEN children into adulthood. OFSTED had reported that Bexley Council had not been discharging its responsibilities well; hence the plan.
Cabinet Member Read who should perhaps be helped into Adulthood himself, welcomed the plan.
He confirmed that “the results of the 2016 inspection was disappointing but we learnt from that” and “Adults’ Services are [now] involved in the processes at a much earlier date meaning closer working between the two services. It is one of the key strands of this Strategy”.
The improvements have seen complaints fall from 25 two years ago to zero in 2019.
Cabinet Member Brad Smith reported in very similar vein. Things are “hugely” improved.
Cabinet Member John Fuller provided various examples of how vulnerable young people are being helped into the adult world. Everything from changing a light bulb to cooking.
Cabinet Member Peter Craske was left with little to say apart from the Strategy being “very good and “really excellent”.
Labour Councillor Wendy Perfect also thought the Strategy was “an excellent piece of work”.
A succession of Councillors continued to heap praise on the new Strategy which was adopted without a word of criticism.
Bexley Council has issued a Press Release about health issues.
The image above may require a page refresh to reduce it to the intended size.
A recent email which was not anonymous asks why I have not given added
publicity to the absolutely appalling Metropolitan Police investigation into the
ridiculous allegations by Carl Beech against a variety of high profile
individuals supported by the equally ridiculous Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson.
I am referred to a Daily Mail article on the subject on the grounds it will make me laugh. An unfortunate choice of words possibly but the emailer has a point. It ridicules all the police officers concerned whose incompetence has earned them promotions, large pensions and Lordships.
Would I expect anything else of people who are fundamentally corrupt?
I suppose the writer thinks my own brushes with police corruption is reason to provide a link to the Daily Mail article and an excuse to mention the pinnacle of police corruption which is the unsolved Daniel Morgan murder.
The enquiry into his murder authorised by Theresa May while Home Secretary is now into its seventh year and anything I may have learned from it cannot be repeated here but I see no reason why very recent informal family conversations have to be secret. It’s only informal opinion and it may be wrong.
“Cressida Dick has totally f***ed the panel enquiry. She wants nothing but delay and she does that by withholding information and using legal procedures to prevent [name redacted] from giving evidence.” That person knows more about the murder than anyone other than those who wielded the axe. Several of us think that Cressida Dick has caused around a year of very expensive delay and is behind police procrastination and non-cooperation with the Home Office’s enquiries.
I have little doubt personally that Cressida Dick is as bent as the proverbial nine bob note - that dates me doesn’t it? - but aren’t all police officers?
Even my friend Michael Barnbrook had to turn a blind eye to it. While an Inspector in Bexleyheath he reported a much more senior officer at another station for criminal misconduct. He was told that if he continued with his complaint the senior officer would be reprimanded and maybe even lose a rank but he (Michael) could expect to be transferred to a North London police station which would compel him to move and sell his house and find new schools for his children.
Michael allowed his own superior officer to screw up the complaint and throw it into the nearest waste bin.
All police officers are corrupt, it comes with the job.
See also Daily Mail article by a judge about the absolutely not Independent Office for Police Conduct.
Note: Daniel Morgan was the brother of my daughter’s long term partner.
is renowned for its dilapidated and ineffective street bollards. Bexley is
aiming to get the award for dangerous roadside metal posts of indeterminate use.
Over the past week or two around 40 have appeared as part of the 15 months late
and counting Harrow Manorway regeneration.
Not finished it might be but unsightly and dangerous it is already. The photo alongside shows how pedestrians are currently directed into the road. I wasn’t alone in being caught out by that one this morning.
When the inevitable road accident happens there is a pretty high chance that someone will wrap themselves around a metal pole. Good ’ol Bexley.
So here you are, choose your favourite from Bexley’s selection of new poles.
This unprecedented page layout may require a page refresh. Click for enlarged views.
More names for Bexley Council leavers were provided overnight, not juniors
either but as before victims must remain anonymous here for now at least. There
was an overlap with the subject of another anonymous message. BexleyCo.
Exactly what has BexleyCo achieved? Absolutely nothing worthwhile that I can find. It has borrowed money from Bexley Council and it has wasted loads on failed Planning Applications.
When I attended Brian Barnett’s funeral last November along with a handful of local politicians there was talk of BexleyCo’s top man which I will discreetly say was less than flattering but I think he may have left soon afterwards - not sure. Now another one is heading for the door.
Is there a toxic atmosphere within Bexley Council? Maybe; too many jobs are being
extinguished and some of those remaining are rebelling against it.
Four months ago I was sent information that resulted in the following comment. The source was impeccable and named names, nevertheless it seemed wise to not go into too much detail and with Gill Steward’s expensive departure I assumed the bullying problem was an isolated one-off.
But apparently not.
Bullying is horrible and I was fortunate to only see it once during my own employment and only during the final year. Among the tricks employed by an incompetent called Colin Sutton was summoning all of his staff to his small office, 15 feet by eight maybe, for several hours and smoking cigars throughout to the point we could barely see or breathe. I called in the City of London Environmental Health Department and it was daggers drawn thereafter. My doctor gave me three weeks off work because my breathing was so bad. All a long time ago and I was lucky enough to get a redundancy package.
If current tittle tattle is correct staff at Bexley Council who are subject to bullying bosses do not have that option. They are leaving instead.
Details are hard to come by but the following is typical of the cries for help.
“I have been to three leaving presentations in the last month and three more lined up in the next month.”
I think that is the biggest and most telling extract of the latest email I dare place here. If the victims of the Bexley Bullies are not subject to Gagging Orders maybe they can offer corroboration?
Paul Moore seems to have gone too. How widespread is the mismanagement within Bexley Council?
Bexley Council has been busy on the Press Release front. Nothing sensational but perhaps like
me they are finding it difficult to find things worth talking about.
Yesterday their favoured subject was their success in stopping the conversion of industrial premises in Erith to housing without any permission. Why do some people think they can get away with such things? Maybe it is because a man called Singh is allowed to. When they do act against him he takes little or no notice.
Today’s Press Release is also about doing things without permission. A protected sycamore tree was felled in Sidcup.
Naughty I know but personally I think that anyone without an enormous garden is very silly to allow a tree to grow in it. Sooner or later it will cost an equally enormous sum to keep it in check.
I know someone in Bromley who has a gigantic oak growing only a couple of feet beyond her rear boundary in an access road that serves a line of houses. The tree is therefore jointly owned but it is behind her garden and it is her light that is curtailed and it is her greenhouse that is smashed when there is a gale.
It is a nice enough tree if only it was somewhere else and every few years she has to spend more than a few hundred pounds keeping it in check.
I once cut down a tree in my garden because it grew through my bathroom window (I kid you not) and the local Council went berserk about it even though they admitted they had failed to tell me about a Tree Preservation Order. Fortunately I had already sought the advice of the County Arborilogical Officer who inspected the tree and certified that it had been diseased for years and was dying long before the TPO was imposed which made it invalid. He told the District Council but it still took a lot of arguments to shut them up.
Trade is down
Ever since Abbey Wood’s Crossrail station opened in October 2017 and especially since the flyover footpaths were opened, the nearby shops have suffered a loss of trade. Far from “sitting on goldmines” as Bexley Council told the Traders’ Association, business has not picked up at all from the low points during the construction work. They have been featured on TV twice about it and on radio.
Most station traffic used to go via Wilton Road and now there is a variety of alternative routes. An appeal to Transport for London for a ‘To the shops’ sign on the station concourse was declined but Bexley Council was sympathetic after a Belvedere Councillor made representations following her attendance at the Traders’ January 2019 meeting.
The following month she returned to say that Bexley Council had £10,000 left in the pot and was willing to look into the lack of signage.
Council wheels move slowly but the signs have just appeared. Not a lot of use I would have thought but maybe I too often look on the black side.
The first of the three Photos show the location of a sign at the north eastern end of the flyover. It is on a lamp post on the flyover beyond the Sainsbury’s pedestrian crossing where very few people need to go.
I spotted the sign outside the station while walking towards it on the eastern footpath but when I crossed the road to take a photograph I couldn’t find the damned thing.
After wandering around like a lost soul for longer than I would like to admit I discovered why I couldn’t see the sign. It is because I am not twelve feet tall.
The signs are tiny, not even 18 inches long I would think.
How come a couple of small signs can cost ten thousand pounds? Maybe they didn’t but that was the implication. Surveyors, draughtsmen, Conway’s hole diggers, a metal pole, sign manufacture. Yes one can see how Bexley residents are taxed to the hilt.
At least Councillor Hinkley did her best to assist the traders, her opposite numbers in Greenwich have perhaps wisely kept well clear of Traders’ meeting.
Attacking motorists. By some measures Bexley is a failure
Every year Bexley Council publishes its Parking Report and every year the number of PCNs issued is the lowest in London. That was always “blamed” on Bexley being one of the few London Boroughs which did not monitor Moving Traffic Offences. That changed two years ago when it began its blitz on yellow box junctions and in several cases I know of showed that it had no idea of what the law had to say on the subject.
Maybe they have learned; more likely Bexley’s drivers have learned. The number of Moving Traffic PCNs issued in Bexley has fallen by 10%.
Click image for Source.
A number of people have been telling Transport for London
nearly all year that what should be one of their major bus stops in the area has an
incorrect list of buses stopping there on display and is marked with the wrong
location. It says Lensbury Way and not Abbey Wood station. To the list some have
added no ‘Next bus due’ display.
The comments have either been either ignored or been met with the sort of answers one might expect from an imbecile.
To the list is now added the failure of the shelter lighting. How long will we wait for that to be fixed?
Councillor Leader Teresa O’Neill has been on the radio singing Bexley’s
praises. I confess I have not had time to listen to it all but I didn’t pick up
any significant fibs, maybe a few awkward moments.
I doubt Teresa Pearce will be happy to have Erith & Thamesmead named as a Conservative constituency but that was the BBC’s fault. It was possibly a bit naughty to say that Bexley to the BBC’s studio would be an hour and five minutes quicker by Crossrail. Obviously one was measured from the Leader’s home address and the other from Abbey Wood station, but not bad overall. What do you think?
I am informed that former Bexley Councillor Katie Perrior was interviewed on Radio 4 earlier yesterday but I’m afraid that Radio 4 has gone from being on all day in my house three or more years ago to being my last choice for talk radio now.
Housing was another topic on the Resources Scrutiny Meeting Agenda, it
included a full report on the subject. In Bexley those living in temporary accommodation had
risen by more than 150% in five years to very nearly 1,400.
Councillor Howard Jackson (Conservative, Barnehurst) had three questions.
He said “the new NPPF report is out” and “the Council is taking a more robust approach to viability”, a question that was somewhat mysterious to anyone not in the know because nowhere did the Agenda or its report explain any of those terms. (Google says the initials stand for National Planning Policy Framework.) Councillor Jackson asked what ‘more robust’ meant.
The next question was “why do we have to wait until 2021 to see the benefits?” Thirdly, if developers do not meet the requirements for affordable housing “what are we doing to make them explain to us?”
The Head of Planning, Robert Lancaster, said that robust meant more “early and late stage reviews”. Consultants would be hired too and the reviews would be made public.
NPPF was moving from a local individual basis to the wider area plan and Bexley’s local plan is not ready yet. There is also “uncertainty” over the London Plan “which is still six weeks or so” away from completion, hence the delay.
Councillor Linda Bailey (Conservative, Crook Log) said that “Planning Members feel they have their hands up their back with applications for affordable housing when we have to look at viability but we cannot refuse an application [because of affordable housing] because it is not a valid planning reason. It really does need to be looked at”.
She asked about the Community Infrastructure Levy which has been in use for the past five years but never been increased “and it is probably time it was looked at. Is it being looked at?”
“Developers in the north had complained that their land costs were so low that they could not afford the CIL but as you all know it has all gone up round there, so is it being reviewed so that would be more of an income coming in?”
The Head of Planning said that “the CIL charging schedule is being looked at but if you look for more CIL it clearly provides challenges for affordable housing. There are trade offs to be made between competing pressures but the CIL charging schedule is on the list”.
Assistant Chief Executive Jane Richardson reminded Councillors developers had employed Savilles to try to get a zero rate. In Dartford there is a zero rate. All the big housing providers, the Orbits of this world, even Peabody are facing challenges. The market is extremely difficult”.
Councillor June Slaughter (Conservative, Sidcup) said that government policies are leading to a decline in the supply of privately rented houses and provided several reasons why she believed that to be the case. She asked if CIL money had played a part in the provision of affordable housing. She was told that CIL can only be used for infrastructure like health and not affordable housing, “only to mitigate the impact on local people and services”.
“Developers ask to increase the height of schemes and reduce the amount of parking to deliver more affordable [housing] but we take a balanced view. Of course we are pushing for affordable housing but we are looking at multiple different issues at once. It’s a balance.”
Councillor Francis (Labour, Belvedere) asked what happened if BexleyCo put forward schemes that are deemed “unviable or not in line with policy. Do they employ their own viability consultant and would we be independently reviewing that advice?” He had heard rumours that they were about to bring forward an unviable scheme.
Mr. Lancaster said a BexleyCo planning application would be treated in the same way as any other. He would publish the applicant’s viability report “and our own”.
Councillor John Davey (Conservative, West Heath) who sits on the Planning Committee said “I always, and perhaps irrationally, feel I am being had over by the developer”. A late stage review would make him feel “a lot happier”.
Councillor Peter Reader (Conservative, West Heath) who is Chairman of the Planning Committee said "Members are so frustrated by the number of applications that come before us, the number of times that it comes with a viability assessment which purports to demonstrate that we can’t afford any affordable housing”.
“Members must have the knowledge to challenge it and we don’t get the viability reports soon enough. We mustn’t just sit on our hands and vote the thing through.”