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News and Comment March 2021

Index: 2019202020212022

3 March (Part 1) - Muck raking

While we wait for the Conservative's justification of their £248 million investment claim a random search through some intriguing old files…

Despite occasional set backs I still believe that Bexley Council has become better in most respects over the past ten years; from a pretty low starting point perhaps especially in respect of Children’s Services. To the best of my knowledge no children have died under Bexley Council’s nose since Rhys Lawrie and Ndingeko Kunene.

However maybe child care in the borough - then provided by the LCC - was worse long before Bexley took over. Back in the days when Bonkers was actively seeking news I received a disturbing message from a reader which led to the following tale from an inmate of a long closed children’s home in Carlton Road, Sidcup.

I remember we always seemed to be moving around and there were lots of uncles involved. We used to have to sit with mum and recite the address of where we were living in case we got lost. I remember Redhill, Kingston, Richmond, Leatherhead, Surbiton we never seemed to be anywhere for long. The upshot is that Shaz and I ended up in foster homes and then Hoblands, a children’s home in Sidcup.

The man who ran the home lived there with his family, his little boy (who we weren’t allowed to talk to) had a huge shiny blue pedal car that was kept in the area below the main staircase. It wasn’t in a cupboard or anything, just sitting there being all shiny and blue and pedally. I so wanted to have a go.

At night I was split from Shaz and I was only four or five I guess. I hated it because that was when one of the staff used to go round deciding which boy he was going to have that night. We used to hear him walking up the corridor and pretend to be asleep hoping he was going to go straight past us to another room or better still, just go back downstairs to his own. His name was Stan, we used to call him Stan the Man.

I was reading the BBC News website about 15 years ago and I saw that Stan the Man had been arrested for child sexual abuse going back years so that turned out alright for him didn’t it? Hopefully he had his bollocks ripped off when he was inside.

Mum eventually came to get us and we got out of Hoblands and went to live in Orchard Villas in Foots Cray, Kent.

I tried to find out more at the time and the search led me to The National Archives but it was not especially helpful. The report on Hoblands was sealed for 75 years. Is that an indication of a cover-up by the authorities? Intriguing, but maybe not much of a story without the back up evidence.

When I rediscovered the old papers I looked at the Archives again. To my surprise the 75 year restriction had been changed to 50 years and once the Archives are open again anyone of a nosy disposition who fancies a cheap day out can check up on Bexley’s predecessors.

Meanwhile the web reveals that the offender was Stanley Sinkins who was jailed for a year in 1995 for the Sidcup offences. Maybe if a Council somewhere had not thought it appropriate to hide the report justice would have prevailed much earlier and further children saved from their ordeal.

Six years later he was jailed for ten years after being accused of 41 offences against children several of who refused to attend court. As a result he was convicted of offences against only eleven children (ten boys) in both Sidcup and on Merseyside. Maybe still not much of a story but such things are thankfully gone from Bexley.


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