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News and Comment December 2012

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31 December - Bonkers Man of the Year 2012

Bexley council is not as easy to ridicule as it used to be. The end of 2011 was marked with a tongue in cheek but factual mickey taking of several councillors which is impossible to repeat for 2012. Maybe fewer silly things are happening or perhaps they are getting better at hiding them. So instead of a dozen names available for an award only one man can be honoured for his maladministration in 2012.

Who should it be?

Councillor Downing Councillor Peter CraskeThe clown mayor Alan Downing obviously deserves consideration for telling councillor Peter Craske that he didn’t have to switch on his microphone if he didn’t want to thereby ensuring that the Civic Centre hearing loop didn’t work and chalking up an offence against Equalities Legislation. The Local Government Ombudsman hasn’t finished with him yet so perhaps any award can be deferred to next year.

The purple pygmy councillor Peter Craske is old hat now. So last year and a spent force. Whether he is eventually charged with a crime or he isn’t doesn’t much matter. The police have said the criminal blog originated on his home phone line and the Association of British Bookmakers must be overjoyed to have their name linked to crime whenever someone searches the web for their Public Relations Manager.

Councillor Teresa O'NeillCouncil leader Teresa O’Neill is tarred with a similar brush. The police have said that political interference damaged their Craske enquiries and it’s not hard to guess where that originated from.

We know it was O’Neill who spun the police a false story that resulted in me being formally warned of arrest if I continued with this website and John Kerlen being arrested for harassment.

John was found not guilty due to lack of evidence - not surprising as Bexley councillors had made the whole thing up - and my warning was withdrawn following intervention by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. All because councillor Teresa O’Neill made a statement to the police (it’s on the record) which was false. She may be the epitome of a dishonest small time politician but it is not exactly news, she professed total innocence when her predecessor Ian Clement was caught with his hand in the till too.

For something new I must reach beyond the usual suspects.

Kevin FoxWho was it who deliberately misinterpreted the council’s Standing Order 84 to sideline 2,219 residents who felt that Bexley having the 6th highest senior officer salaries in the country was unjustifiable?

Who admitted there is nothing in council protocols to forbid photography on council premises before public meetings but on his own initiative has banned every request to use a camera?

Kevin Jobsworth Fox, Head of Committee Services and Scrutiny must be Bonkers Man of the Year in every sense of the word. The runner’s up prize is awarded to Bexley council’s Head of Human Resources who, after a complaint was submitted, backed Fox’s decision to the hilt. No justification for it, just unswerving support by one council numbskull for another. Mr. Nick No Brains Hollier, the man to watch in 2013.


28 December - Normal service may prove to be elusive

It’s going to be hard to escape from the Christmas lethargy so it is perhaps just as well there is no news really worthy of comment. Just to prove that I have not succumbed to drink or norovirus…

The friendly police officer told me on Christmas Eve that she had waded through ¾ of the forensics’ report on a second batch of councillor Peter Craske’s communications devices. At that rate of progress it will be another week before the job is finished and if the officer took no Christmas and New Year break - but she did.

It was rather impressive that I reported a new and unfortunately positioned pothole to Bexley council on the 24th and it was fixed - maybe not very expertly - the same day but it was disappointing to note that the street lights along Knee Hill have reverted to type. i.e. off all night with one on during the day.

Road closedTwo people have drawn my attention to the fact that Danson Road is to be disrupted by three months of gas main replacement starting next week. That will be nice for anyone driving between Crayford and Welling and attempting to bypass Bexleyheath using Albion Road, usually the easiest way. They will find it blocked half way along and the obvious diversion from there is Townley Road and a variety of minor roads which emerge, guess where? In Danson Road of course. A degree of chaos would appear to be more than likely.

Will I lose all credibility if I admit to getting Christmas good wishes of the electronic variety from two politicians? One Labour and one Conservative; which was nice. Thank you both.

Now it’s back to the letter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission that I have to write, not my idea of New Year fun.


23 December - It’s a wrap

The phrase is borrowed from the friendly - I am not being sarcastic - police officer who told me at the beginning of the month that the Craske investigation would be “all wrapped up by Christmas”. All that has happened since then is that another of councillor Craske’s computers came back from the labs on the 11th but with a report that would take another week to digest. One might imagine that there would be a need to consult the Crown Prosecution Service but no further information has been forthcoming so unless that changes the Bonkers Blog will also be wrapped up for the week. Happy Christmas everyone.


22 December - Parking fines. Exposing Bexley’s dishonesty. (Episode 11)

Mr. Chris Loynes was the best Bexley council could offer when the retired policeman insisted on an independent enquiry into how they had come to record a series of untruthful statements in connection with an alleged parking offence and then confirmed them all when irrefutable evidence showed them to be wrong. The reality was that their procedures did not allow for any checking; extortion of money irrespective of the facts was the priority.

The policeman was looking for more than an apology, he was looking for an acceptance that the policy was fundamentally dishonest and should be changed. Mr. Loynes would only accept that they were “unfair practices” but were not criminal. He also assumed that the fined motorist was looking for monetary compensation because Bexley council had ‘fined’ its parking contractor £120 and had thereby profited from its own dishonesty. The motorist’s reply on 5th July 2010 made it absolutely clear that Mr. Loynes was wrong.

Bexleyheath BroadwayThat letter must have been difficult to answer because it was late October before there was any reply. Bexley’s Chief Executive, Mr. Will Tuckley, took three pages to explain that the only thing they had got wrong was not having adequate signage outside the KFC takeaway in Bexleyheath Broadway. It had taken a whole year to make no real progress. There was no recognition that Bexley’s appeal procedures take no notice of any evidence supplied during the initial stages.

Frustrated by the lack of progress the persistent complainant resorted to the Freedom of Information Act and took his case to Bexleyheath police. Unfortunately he almost immediately came up against Chief Inspector Tony Gowen who is well known for his reluctance to take action against Bexley council.

Bexley council continues to flout parking laws. An examination of the PATAS adjudications for this month alone shows Bexley to be allowing fewer days for discounted payment than the law prescribes (Case Reference: 2120504543) and is fining people for momentary stops of two or three seconds. (Case Reference: 2120593190 and others.)

This story is reported in an indeterminate number of episodes. A cumulative version is provided for convenience.


21 December - Highland games

Highland Road one-wayA reader asks why the traffic disruption in Highland Road is going to last twice as long as that in Broadway. See the details below.

It might be a mistake but on the other hand Highland Road is to be permanently shut as part of the Tesco development on the current Civic Centre site and work will start on that just as the Broadway chaos comes to an end.

Just how much Tesco paid Bexley council to permanently deprive residents of the use of a cross town shortcut isn’t known. The public was excluded from the relevant meeting although according to councillors present they weren’t allowed to know either. Transparency Bexley style.

Another thing that may be a mistake is part of a recent letter from the police describing how councillor Peter Craske’s phone line was used to set up Bexley council’s obscene blog. I can’t make up my mind if the explanation is extremely poor or whether it is deliberate obfuscation. It certainly isn't totally correct and maybe almost 100% wrong. Neither does it have any real relevance to the initial failed investigation. The critical question was surely the source IP address, not the one that Google happened to be running the blog on at the time.

If there are any experts out there who recognises the following text as an accurate explanation of what is involved in setting up a Google Blogspot I would be pleased to hear from them.

Police letter
PC Nolan is an MIB (Intelligence Bureau) officer. At the time of her report the blog had not been removed.


20 December - No news is not necessarily good news

BBC reportIt’s inevitable that not much happens at this time of the year and people have better things to do than read about Bexley council. Today there is close to nothing to report.

There is no sign of any Christmas parking concession this year, not that last year’s delivered at the 11th hour with minimal publicity was worth having. This year there will be no charging on Christmas and Boxing Days plus New Year’s Day. Neighbouring boroughs are no better with no obvious announcements on their websites. Money must be short.

The Department for Communities has announced today that Bexley is to get a reduced Council Tax Grant next year; 1·5% less than in 2012 - source BBC website. Eric Pickles helpfully provides a 50 point list of ways that councils can save money. I can’t see Bexley rushing to take up many. Getting rid of Chief Executives and cutting top salaries by 5% or more are all things that Bexley council is dead set against. Much more likely is that the public will be asked for more money via stealth taxes. i.e. increased prices for services.

At number 28 in the list of money saving ideas is this one…

Common Purpose
Common Purpose, is widely believed to be a pernicious charity brain-washing the ruling classes in the ways of world domination. Interesting that Eric Pickles should pick it out from so many reputable management training facilities. Perhaps he knows the truth of it.


19 December (Part 2) - Chaos looms

Broadway Albion RoadThere is a comment on the Sidcup Community Group website headed ‘Consultation Fatigue’. The author has noticed that we are suffering from a surfeit of consultations. The hospital, the police, Bexley’s ‘core strategy’, the river crossing, Sidcup High Street. Will they make a scrap of difference? Probably not, but at least there is a consultation on Sidcup High Street. In Bexleyheath Broadway you are getting a mixed use area, a massive parking trap and chaos while the work is done. Like it or lump it.

Broadway is to be west bound only and Albion Road the reverse. That should be great fun. For those who don’t know the area it makes a sort of reverse roundabout, albeit a large one, and by reverse I mean traffic will have to go around it in an anti-clockwise direction so that both traffic streams will have to cross each other at the Bowling Centre roundabout.

While trying to cope with that drivers will be expected to read the signs warning that there are no yellow lines on Broadway but parking is forbidden or face a fine.

Road chaos
You want more? Highland Road is being made one way with a bus lanes. It might have been better to have just closed the town until June 2013.


19 December (Part 1) - Police story unravels

The police allegation against the former Government Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell, has begun to unravel and he has said the revelations “shaken my lifelong support and confidence in the police”. Join the club Andrew; the data provided to me by recent police letters regarding Bexley council’s obscene blog doesn’t stack up either. Just a small example…

They reveal that the Metropolitan Police Intelligence Bureau when asked to look for the blog’s source IP (Internet Protocol) address initially said that “no source could be identified” but on being given additional information (viz. a corrected date) replied positively to Bexleyheath police who reported that “sufficient information was received”. All of this on or before 23rd October 2011.

A new document in my possession assures me that the investigation has been “expeditious” and an older one records that the decision to apply for a search warrant for councillor Craske’s Sidcup address was taken on or about 30th May 2012. One might wonder why it should have taken seven months to act on an IP address. A strange interpretation of the word expeditious. Probably the “political interference” will have had something to do with it.

When the police and a politician meet head on it’s a tough call to pick the liar. In the Mitchell case as my friends know, I said the police were up to no good. I should have put a bet on it.


18 December (Part 2) - This evening’s Cabinet meeting

It’s off. Cancelled at the last moment. Now that is going to disappoint at least four or five Bexley residents who will have to find something else to do. Maybe queen Teresa was upset that Her Majesty refused to grace her cabinet with the Royal presence, it seems a rather extreme way for Kevin Fox to dodge his obligation to provide facilities for bloggers as well as the press.

The good news is that the police overtime bill will be slashed.


18 December (Part 1) - Useful idiots

ThesuarusWhere would we be without them? Short of things to report for starters.

Mick Barnbrook posed a question for the next council meeting due a whole three months away. “Why do members of the public have to have their private addresses published in the agenda for full council meetings when asking a question whereas councillors do not?”

Kevin Fox, Bexley council’s principal manufacturer of pathetic excuses, merely said that the protocol that authorises the compulsory publication of Bexley residents’ addresses is not a policy and only policy questions are allowed at council meetings. It’s an insane attempt to pervert the English language but that is what Fox said and what one must expect from him.

Mick responded quoting the thesaurus to Fox but to no avail. Back came the reply “I have spoken to the Mayor and his decision remains as originally communicated to you”.

Alan DowningA complaint has been dispatched to the Local Government Ombudsman. The LGO usually takes exception to councils that break their own rules to the disadvantage of individuals. That makes two complaints currently with the LGO about the pen jabbing mayor Alan Downing. One day he might realise that acting the constant imbecile causes more grief than it is worth. On the other hand this website might starve to death. Even idiots can be useful.

I don’t generally complain to Bexley council because the repercussions take up too much time but I made an exception when Kevin Fox said his precious protocols allowed the taking of photographs before a meeting began, but not during one. Then when told of the proposal to take a photograph well before a meeting started and in a manner only one step removed from getting Fox to press the shutter button, he told me he had made a decision to disallow all photography.

I was not best pleased by Fox’s obstinacy and apparent disregard for the stated protocol and asked him for an explanation or an alternative. The alternative was “Would you prefer to be honest for once in your life and say that there are no circumstances in which Bexley Council will observe the spirit of the new laws?” I did not get a reply but I did get a telling off from the Head of Human Resources, a thin-skinned bureaucrat by the name of Nick Hollier, who appears to believe his authority extends outside the Civic Offices.

Nick Hollier
Ooh, that’s really scary. The request for an honest answer instead of the earlier contradictions has caused distress and the implication that Fox lies for a living is offensive. No protestation that Fox hadn’t lied in the earlier answers nor was any reason provided for a decision contrary to the protocols previously quoted.

The situation is not unlike that discovered by Mr. Barnbrook the common features being protocols, a refusal to explain them and Fox. I shall have to take a leaf out of Mick’s book and see if I can interest the LGO in another Fox Fiasco.


17 December (Part 3) - Crime and no punishment

Just when you thought that the corruption and mismanagement at Bexleyheath police station could not get any worse along comes another installment of their attempt to pervert the course of justice to cover up a crime investigation because one of their friends and associates was involved. Then they ‘fix’ things so that he is beyond the reach of the law.

The father continues his alarming story…

It sounds like widespread corruption to me. Teresa O’Neill, also pictured, must be well aware of it of course having exploited it occasionally.

The complete story so far.


17 December (Part 2) - Tavy Bridge - No hub, no hope

Chemist shutIt’s not just surreptitious underhand mission creep with 24/7 parking charges that gets readers scurrying to their keyboards, Gallions Housing Association is far from popular too. This is what a Tavy Bridge resident had to say about the weekend feature on his area.

The regeneration of Tavy Bridge is taking years, with no date set for completion. The chemist that was there has now apparently merged with the one in Abbey Wood near the train station. [Browne’s in Wilton Road.]

With the few shops remaining, which will be next to go? Gallions, along with Bexley Council, should be addressing the lack of shops now, there will soon be none left willing to move back in after the regeneration. Or is this the idea? New shop owners willing to pay greatly inflated rents?

How much do the councillors for Thamesmead know about Thamesmead? In the New Year I may address this by sending some questions.

Tavy Bridge itself is in Thamesmead East ward but it is close to the border with Lesnes Abbey ward. Two Thamesmead East councillors (Malik and Persaud) live miles away in Welling and I do not recall either of them speaking about Thamesmead, indeed I do not recall one of them speaking about anything. The third councillor, Sandra Bauer, doesn’t even live in the borough but also expressed concern about the shops when the plan was approved. If Tavy Bridge was the reader’s nearest shopping area but lives in Lesnes ward, then the best of luck getting any sense out of councillor John Davey.


17 December (Part 1) - Parking charges up again - percentage : infinite

Parking charges going up againI always take a look at the Public Notices that Bexley council puts in the News Shopper each week, though it’s not always easy to work out what is being proposed. I’d guess most people don’t bother, nor do they stop to read scraps of paper affixed to lamp posts etc.

The following is typical of the responses to the news that evening, overnight and Sunday charges are being introduced to yet more areas of the borough…

Your Saturday blog about the creeping movement towards full 24/7 pay parking does not seem to have any rhyme or reason apart from the obvious of raising revenue. They seem to be targeting a few roads in each part of the borough. Not obvious how or why they have been selected.

From my knowledge of the roads in your photos I’d hazard a guess that they are targeting roads with terraced housing and not much off street parking so that by charging 24/7 they hope to catch residents when they come home from work and who normally park on the road outside their houses.

If this is their hope then as with their other measures it is likely to be circumvented by residents squeezing cars on to front gardens however small.

They have not included Townley Road where all properties already have driveways for off road parking. Of the road in your photo a major effect is likely to be on the Sunday congregation at the adjacent church since they only have a small car park. Are the council not obliged to give some sort of traffic based reasons why 24/7 changes are deemed appropriate? e.g. Easing traffic flow/removing congestion or some such twaddle however spurious.

Without some basis being given which could then be disputed; on what grounds would objections be considered? Any sort of guidance you could give to your blog readers to help them object effectively might encourage them to do so.

I’m not sure I can give advice on parking matters. I am rather proud of never giving Bexley council a bean for parking in my 26 years in the borough, it’s the sort of question I would have passed to Notomob before its demise.

As the writer indicates, one really needs to know what is in their devious minds before an effective challenge can be mounted. I suspect it might be possible to formulate a Freedom of Information request seeking the correspondence which led to the decision to make the changes and maybe discover what imaginary problem they are trying to solve. Too much advice giving has in the past led to being embroiled in hugely time consuming activities for which there is simply not enough time in the day.

One piece of advice I could perhaps give: stop voting the same old faces into power! They only abuse it.


16 December - Out of sight, out of mind

Tavy Bridge

There’s no reason for anyone living south of Upper Belvedere to ever descend Knee Hill and travel towards Thamesmead. There is no route across the river thanks to Teresa O’Neill and the few shops (Morrisons, Iceland, Argos and Wilkinsons) can be found elsewhere.

It is a dead end in both senses of the words. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when a friend from the Bexley Council Monitoring Group said he had no idea there were lakes within Thamesmead.

I suspect that all the Conservative councillors are just as ignorant. Most live in the plush parts of town. None at all have addresses anywhere near Thamesmead or within the lower part of the borough that sits close to sea level. It probably explains why the North is so neglected and possibly why councillor Mike Slaughter was happy to condemn people to live in run down Tavy Bridge for longer than is necessary.

For the benefit of councillors who cannot bring themselves to stray off their well beaten track I offer today’s Photo feature. 14 photographs taken with the aid of a rather unforgiving low sun, early yesterday morning. Note for the gobsmacked councillor Val Clark. This is what “ugly and sixties” is; not the new scheme.

Click any sliding image for the large version of that particular photograph.


15 December (Part 2) - Get Out of Jail Free

At the beginning of the week I was forecasting that two threads of the police investigation into the crime perpetrated via councillor Peter Craske’s phone line would reach a conclusion. The prediction was based on police promises and at the 11th hour it has come half true. This morning the postman delivered a letter from the Met. Police Directorate of Professional Services (DPS) in response to my complaint of 7th June 2012.

Late on Wednesday evening the new investigating officer who has shown herself to be infinitely more aware of the requirement to keep victims informed than her predecessors emailed to apologise for another week of unavoidable slippage to her current enquiries.

Today’s letter from the DPS comes up with an ingenious excuse for last year’s investigation coming to a premature end. It may even be true. When the Met’s Intelligence Bureau (MIB) - the name suggests they keep all they have in one place - was asked to attempt a trace on the obscene blogger they were told it was posted on 21st February 2011 instead of 21st May.

Inevitably the MIB found nothing and the investigation crumbled as a result. If Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer had told us that when we met on 10th February 2012 instead of wittering on about new evidence coming to light we may well have thought far more of him. As it is his reluctance to be truthful allowed various other theories to evolve. There was no new evidence.

Maybe because of pressure from MPs; on 23rd September 2011 a new DCI was asked to review the case and spotted the mistake. Effectively the case was restarted then and with such alacrity that the culprit was allowed a whole 13 months to ditch his computer and lose as much evidence as possible.

Every policeman involved has been deemed to have acted in a wholly professional manner. The fact that the two who interviewed the council Chief Executive regarded Elwyn Bryant‘s complaint as a counter allegation” when he had nothing to counter, rather than a legitimate crime report in its own right is ignored.
Tit for tat
However the DPS’s report does helpfully repeat the fact that Bexleyheath police issued me with a Harassment Form 9993 (after reporting what an Erith blogger said about Teresa O’Neill) at the request of Bexley council in error and it is “withdrawn” which reminds me that Bexleyheath police has never written to tell me. Perhaps they haven’t come to terms with being duped by council leader Teresa O’Neill & Co. and it was helpful to use it as a plank on which to build their false claim against John Kerlen. He hadn’t even referred to the Erith blogger, let alone pen what he was initially charged with writing.


15 December (Part 1) - Give a politician an inch, he’ll steal your money

Park free after 5:30 Park free after 5:30 Parking restrictionsFrom my own selfish point of view this Parking by Phone lark is brilliant. As a reluctant motorists, if I need to get to Bexleyheath, I hitch a lift from a friend who drives through it almost every day and return on the bus.

It used to be a bit awkward finding a place to safely jump out of the car, but now it is easy. All around the central area there are empty bays which in the days of parking meters were always occupied.

This, as even some of the brighter councillors have noted, is doing parking revenues no good at all - they are down. It probably does wonders for the business community too but Bexley council are only paying lip service to that.

With so much street parking subject to 24/7 charges oppressed motorists are finding free parking just beyond the Craske Zone. Although that purple faced disaster is no longer in charge of Realm Wrecking there is no sign of retreat, far from it; the Craske Zone is being surreptitiously extended.

Parking restrictions The street shown is a cul-de-sac which doesn’t even have houses along the first part of it. An ideal quiet parking spot in the evening when traffic there is even more minimal. At the moment it is free to park after 5.30 p.m. but not for much longer. It is shortly to switch to 24/7 (“At any time”) charging. Another purely money grabbing exercise by Bexley council. Another stab in the back for the town’s night life. More proof that “Working for you” is an empty lying slogan.

Note: Photos taken in the pouring rain of 14th December 2012. Thank goodness Pentax SLRs are water resistant. Pity my coat isn’t.


14 December (Part 2) - Tar very much Brian

FM Conway machine on fireMy regular correspondent Brian Barnett has a knack of being in the right place at the right time, or at least the newsworthy place. Most recently the photo of a Parsons Brinckerhoff van is his; I think I am going to have words with him for passing his latest camerawork to the News Shopper but he has asked me to put it here too.

This time he was on the scene when FM Conway’s asphalt layer overheated in Pickford Lane. For the full description of what he saw at lunchtime today take a look at the News Shopper complete with video and some choice language from an onlooker. Fortunately no one was seriously harmed; just as well now that we have no A&E.

I’ve met Brian a couple of times and thought him to be a young fellow who enjoys taking photos. The News Shopper says he is 54. Thanks Brian, now I feel even older!


14 December (Part 1) - Planning meeting report

Peter ReaderThe main attraction last night was the two major redevelopment plans, Larner Road in Erith and the Tavy Bridge area of Thamesmead. In the chair was councillor Peter Reader who does the job perfectly well but whose skills are not stretched by a committee from the more reasonable end of the Bexley spectrum. The nature of the meeting does not generally lead to political point scoring and the absence of the council’s leading exponents of the art such as the Bacons, Teresa O’Neill and Linda Bailey is welcome. On the other hand it makes for a long and tedious meeting as the committee ploughs through the relatively mundane house extensions.

The sound system appeared to be defective again and with an audience peaking at just over 30 murmuring and moving on the constantly creaking seating and councillors addressing the chair in the opposite direction, audibility was a problem at times. One planning application went through very quickly and not a single word could be heard from the gallery.

The Larner Road application was for Phase I which consists of some smaller multi-occupancy dwellings (flats to you and me) fronting the North End Road. 15 storey blocks will be replaced by five, four and three storey buildings arranged so as to form a ‘slope’ down to the regular houses to be built behind them. (Phase II.)

Larner RoadThe planning officers made their usual competent presentation with impressive Computer Generated Images which are unfortunately not made more widely available. A major feature is to be the ‘Home Zone’ which is said to be a “lightly trafficked community space and the hub of social interaction providing safe play opportunities for young children’. This proved to be the most controversial aspect of the design.

The houses planned for Phase II will each have their own gardens but funding for them is not yet available and only outline permission was being sought last night.

Chris Taylor was the ‘sponsoring’ councillor but he spoke only very briefly in favour presumably sensing he was kicking at an open door.

Councillor Colin Tandy (Bexley’s representative at the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority) was keen to bring his specialist knowledge to the fore and advocated dry sprinklers in the multi-occupancy buildings and hard wired smoke detectors. His suggestion sounds like a good one but no one knew if those safety features were already included nor was it clear that his suggestion was taken on board.

Larner Road planCouncillor Val Clark was worried by the concept of a Home Zone and felt it would give rise to neighbour disputes over parking and children kicking balls at cars. The planning officers said that such schemes are “actively encouraged by government guidance”.

Councillor John Waters said he wanted to ask some “silly questions”. Why is the number of dwellings planned for Phase II so vague? Because it’s only an outline plan; and why are more than 10% of parking spaces to be for the disabled when the requirement in Bexley is usually said to be 7%. The only thing silly about that question is that there was no answer.

Councillor Margaret O’Neill was concerned that the loop road around the development will “become a kind of racetrack. There is a lot of anti-social behaviour in the area”. I thought a big part of the plan was to produce housing that would not encourage that sort of thing. Apart from that bit of negativity she thought it was “a wonderful plan”.

Councillor Munir Malik was concerned about the loss of affordable accommodation but was reassured by the fact that although the number of units might reduce slightly, bedsits will be replaced by family units with an overall increase in floor space accommodating more people than before. He too was a little concerned about the Home Zone and wondered whether vehicle access could be restricted to residents.

Councillor Brian Bishop was the voice of commonsense who had evidently taken the trouble to look at similar schemes elsewhere and said it should be “given a chance as the design should ensure harmony”. John Waters agreed, saying “it is fine as it is”.

Councillor Michael Slaughter said the scheme was “imaginative” but he “had reservations”. Once again it was the Home Zone. “Different colour blocks doesn’t stop traffic” he said, which if true is going to prove fatal in the Broadway.

Bexleyheath Broadway
Councillor Bishop moved that the plans be approved and he was seconded by councillor Margaret O’Neill. Exactly one hour after discussion began the vote was carried unanimously in favour.

Tavy BridgeBy the time the committee moved on to discuss Tavy Bridge the audience numbers had fallen to five. The Larner Road residents had actively supported Orbit whose representative addressed the committee but the small contingent from Thamesmead had no one from Gallions to speak up for them.

Councillor Sandra Bauer, the ward councillor, did not display the enthusiasm I had expected. “I am not against this development. This is not a community plan, it has lost its hubs, the shops. The scheme is a gamble.” In an obvious reference to the recent anti-Gallions protests by residents, she went on to say that Gallions residents pay more ‘taxes’ than other Bexley residents and deserve more.

Councillor Waters said “it was another very nice scheme” and councillor Malik said “it was a great scheme”. In reply to one of his questions, the planning officer said “there are no specific community facilities“ but there is to be a library. Councillor Malik was assured that not only was the floor space increased but, this being a high rise development, the number of affordable dwellings was increased too.

Councillor Val Clark said she was “gobsmacked by the large tower blocks. It’s ugly and I don’t like it”. Outside the meeting she was heard to say it looked “so sixties”. The planning officer’s graphics, in my opinion, showed none of the Thamesmead brutalism style of architecture so beloved of film makers and TV producers and the plan was overwhelmingly approved. Only councillor Mike Slaughter voted against. I have no idea why. One can only assume he would prefer that Thamesmead people continue to live in Clockwork Orange conditions.

Tavy Bridge was over and done with in just 30 minutes. It was five past ten but the long suffering councillors had more house extensions to examine. I had better things to do.

Note: For the younger generation and those with failing memories, Stanley Kubrick’s film, A Clockwork Orange was filmed in and around Tavy Bridge.


13 December (Part 3) - Larner Road and Tavy Bridge get approval

The Larner Road Development Plan (Phase I) and the Tavy Bridge Redevelopment (Phase III) were both approved at the planning meeting this evening.


13 December (Part 2) - And answer came there none

The Metropolitan Police are in the news today for failing a young rape victim and at the other end of the scale I received two emails this morning expressing concern for the apparent uselessness of Bexley police. The treatment meted out to innocent parties is “astounding” and they don’t respond to enquiries were the themes.

Many people seem to be too scared to stand up to the police with the result that their standards spiral steadily downwards but there are exceptions. The Bexley resident who exposed their dishonesty in court and three weeks ago I received an unsolicited copy of an email which initially caused me much amusement but it conveys a serious message.

It was written by Mick Barnbrook who took time off from reporting crooked MPs to the police and Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (†) to give Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa the benefit of his thoughts. The Borough Commander neither acknowledged it nor did he reply.

CS OlisaDear Chief Superintendent Olisa,

Thank you for responding to my email and your invitation to ask questions relating to “Hate Crime” and “Use of police resources”.

As you are aware, I am a former Metropolitan Police Inspector, having spent part of my career at Bexleyheath Police Station.

I am therefore somewhat dismayed at the apparent disregard by yourself and officers at your station towards two senior citizens who have been the subject of a homophobic hate crime.

This crime was reported to Bexleyheath Police Station eighteen months ago and having followed the "Bexley-is-Bonkers" website, if what is being reported on there is true, you should all be ashamed of yourselves.

Mick BarnbrookThe unprofessional attitude apparently being adopted by yourself and your staff would never have been tolerated when I was a serving officer and you would all have been looking for other employment.

Having decided to take no further action initially and now taking so long to deal with a crime that could have been dealt with many months ago, any third party might reach the conclusion that there is some sort of conspiracy between Bexleyheath Police and Bexley Council to drag the matter out for so long that a decision will be reached not to charge anybody, as it is not in the public interest.

Any assurance from you that this is not the case would be welcomed by me.


† Mr. Barnbrook got in early with his complaint that the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport allowed her parents to live in a Wimbledon property for which she claimed £90,718 in second home allowances. Mick was tipped off by one of his many newspaper contacts.


13 December (Part 1) - Time is running out

NHS ConsultationToday is the last day on which to respond to the consultation process for the South London Healthcare Trust, now in administration. Greenwich and Lewisham have seen protestors on the street in their thousands, in Bexley very few. The same sort of apathy that allows corruption to exist in its public bodies. However at least Bexley council has put its cards on the table so far as the hospital situation is concerned. Greenwich and Lewisham seem to have been more than a little reticent.

• Setting aside the working title of 'Health Campus' and retaining 'Queen Mary's Hospital' as the preferred name of the site.
•Strong support for the commitment to provide a range of healthcare services at Queen Mary's Hospital, bringing to an end uncertainty about its future.
•A welcome for the retention of the Urgent Care Centre at QMS, subject to a commitment to quality and raising the role and profile of the service.
•Concern about the loss of in-patient elective surgery at QMS and the additional travelling this will mean for residents using the elective centre at Lewisham.
•A call for urgent action to improve public transport links to Darent Valley Hospital.
•A call for income from any land sales at QMS to be reinvested into local community-based services and for any future sales of land or buildings on the site to be subject to the agreement of the local Health & Wellbeing Board.
•Support for a community-based care strategy, supported by much-needed new investment in local services, that could help reduce the number of elderly patients needing hospital beds.
•Concern over the likely impact of the closure of the A&E and maternity units at Lewisham on patients using neighbouring hospitals.

It does at least suggest that someone has given the subject some thought and I heartily approve of the call to get rid of the title ‘Health Campus’. At the very least it represents a psychological downgrade from being known as a hospital easing the way for further cuts.

Greenwich council’s ‘protest’ was confined to the closure of Lewisham’s eight month old A&E facility referring to…

• The existing levels of demand.
• The growth of the population in recent years.
• The projected growth in years to come.
• The lack of facilities in Bexley.
• The lack of clarity as to how CCG commissioners can be made to create these facilities.
•The lack of clarity as to how CCG commissioners and their patients can be forced to use the elective care facilities at Lewisham.

Somebody must have spent at least ten minutes working on that highly technical response, but it was better than what Lewisham council managed…

• The council will be submitting a response to the consultation.

To add your own views go to before midnight.

CCG: Clinical Commissioning Groups.


12 December (Part 2) - Christmas is coming

I’ve only seen Bexleyheath’s Christmas decorations during daylight hours but to me at least they looked as if they may be quite good, certainly better than anything I am likely to see in my neglected North West corner of the borough where one trader is selling Christmas trees from a patch of derelict land and has stuck some lights on one of them.

A reader tells me that Welling is not much more festive, being blessed by just one tree. This is not Bexley council’s fault. In 2011 under the old Scrooge councillor Craske only Bexleyheath shopping centre was given any money but the new Cabinet Member for Public Realm, Gareth Bacon and wife Cheryl chairing thee Scrutiny Committee - now ain’t that just cosy? - have been relatively generous.

From the Public Realm Scrutiny Committee Agenda of 9th October 2012…
Public Realm Agenda
Bexleyheath traders have also raised their own funds. If Welling has decided to blow all their £2,000 on a single tree Bexley council may not be to blame.


12 December (Part 1) - Parking fines. Exposing Bexley’s dishonesty. (Episode 10)

ChequeHaving established to everyone’s satisfaction that the parking penalty issued to the retired and disabled ex-policeman should not have been issued by Civil Enforcement Officer BL286, but he lied on his report, and that Bexley’s appeal process is unlawful as it automatically rejects representations to save time, the argument shifted to whether this is deliberate policy or a one off mistake.

The answer was obvious but no one at Bexley council wanted to admit it, not even Mr. Paul Moore who in other respects had tried to right Bexley council’s wrongs. Unlike some of his colleagues he was rewarded with only two pages of handwritten A4.

After a polite rejection of the cheque the Director had offered as an olive branch to the ex-policeman’s favourite charity, it put the argument as follows… (edited extracts)

You appear to misunderstand the word ‘error’. An error is a mistake but both CEO BL286 and Authorised Officer I.S. are guilty of a deliberate lie on their statements in an attempt to extort money from me.

You are aware that I have requested the Chief Executive to instigate an independent review. He has declined and insisted on going to the next stage of the complaints procedure. This is wrong, the senior officers do not have training and experience in criminal investigations. Parking Services should not be investigating themselves.

You and I are never going to agree whether their behaviour is criminal or an error. Only an independent review can decide.


Search engine keywordsClearly the complainant has no knowledge of Bexley council’s idea if what usually constitutes an independent review body. i.e. choose the chairman from a known pool of sympathisers and pay him over £2k. a year for his loyalty, but I digress. What happened next?

Mr. Chris Loynes (still among the most popular of searches leading to this site - this is today’s list) was appointed to carry out an ‘independent’ investigation and he set out his understanding of the situation and terms of reference in a letter dated 30 June 2010.

Mr. Loynes’ take on the matter was rejected five days later. Another two pages of A4 the detail of which should perhaps wait until next week.

This story is reported in an indeterminate number of episodes. A cumulative version is provided for convenience.


11 December (Part 2) - Safe houses

Teresa O'NeillBexley council’s Monitoring Officer’s decision to allow eight Bexley Conservative councillors exemption under Section 32 of the Localism Bill such they need not make a declaration in the Register of Members’ Interests has been challenged in two ways.

Firstly an FOI request for their submissions relating to the nature of the “violence and intimidation” allowed by the legislation which could persuade me to rethink my own listing of their addresses. At best the answer is likely to be ‘names redacted’ which will make revisions impractical.

I imagine most councillors have at some time or another received minor abuse but it would have to be very specific to be a real threat. Since Bexley councillors have a track record of reporting even imaginary threats to the police - pitchforks, torches, dog faeces anyone? - I rather doubt that the claims for exemption are anything other than pure fiction.

The second is a plea for exemption for members of the public who are compelled by Bexley council to have their home addresses published irrespective of what risk that may impose on those who ask questions at council meetings. When Mick Barnbrook reported all those fiddling MPs to the authorities the privacy of his address was respected. Bexley council has no such scruples and put him under threat. He has since been treated to what councillor Melvin Seymour wasn’t.

The decision to curtail questioning as much as possible and publish addresses was taken at a special meeting on 27th April 2011 chaired by Controller and purveyor of false information to the police, Teresa O’Neill; the detail being…

• Disallowing the recording of meetings because the result may be edited.
• The mayor may disallow questions from anyone he/she has previously deemed troublesome or in the language of the time, had expressed “parsimonious appreciation”.
• Questions which are in any way similar to another asked within the last six months will not be permitted.
• Residents whose questions are accepted will have their personal details, name and address etc. published.
• Questions relating to staffing levels and salaries will not be permitted.
• Questions about operational matters, i.e. not policy, will be disallowed.
• If the questioner fails to attend the meeting his/her question will be rejected.

Since then unofficial changes have crept in. The current excuse for not recording meetings is, ironically, that the public’s privacy might be compromised. Questions are allowed when the questioner fails to appear but only if the question allows a favourable answer, and most recently, policy questions are disallowed if the answer is likely be prove embarrassing to the council.


11 December (Part 1) - Rotten to the core

If the first three installments of this story hasn’t convinced you that some of Bexleyheath’s police officers are incompetent and uncaring to the point of corruption then this one should do the trick. A father continues his story of how several police officers conspired to cover up an assault by one of their associates and deprive a badly injured teenager of justice and compensation.

Bexleyheath police stationLast week I introduced Bexley Police’s investigation of a serious assault, where family of the investigating officer (PC1) shared close friends with the assailant’s family. If you remember, before compiling the evidence, PC1 is reported to have downgraded the charge against the attacker, intervened to challenge his exclusion from school, declined to receive the medical evidence and concluded that it was just “a little bit of messing around”.

PC1 noted in the crime report that he would be interviewing the victim “with his mum” in attendance; but when we (the victim’s parents) arrived for the interview, we were told to leave the police station while PC1 interviewed our son (aged under 16) without a second officer or any other adult present. This was “usual practice” for Bexley Police, according to PC1, despite him interviewing the attacker with his father and his solicitor present.

Our son’s interview was neither recorded on tape, nor was any note made of it in the crime report. Due to eye injuries from the attack, our son was unable to see properly to write or read his own statement; but never mind – PC1 would do all this for him. Notes were made in the crime report a few days later about the interview being inadequate – that PC1 needed to take a fresh statement from our son as a “priority action”; but despite PC1’s supervisor DS1 being informed that PC1 had obtained the statement, no new statement was ever taken.

PC1 was then asked by DS1 and DI1 to “review” and “assess” the CCTV, and he concluded that it “merely shows a group of persons at the end of the playground” and had “no evidential value” (although how he managed to make this assessment is a mystery, as it later transpired that Police had actually seized the wrong CCTV footage - a still shot of the school entrance gate).

PC1 had also already taken receipt of statements given by seven witnesses and the attacker himself. Nearly one month later, according to the Headteacher of the school where the assault took place:

• PC1 phoned the school to say he had altered some of the statements and wanted to come to the school to get witnesses to sign the altered versions.
• When the school asked him to email some details, he claimed he didn’t know how to send emails (he must be a fast learner, as within a few weeks, there is a note of him in the crime report emailing another officer about the investigation).
• He then bypassed the school and visited three of the witnesses at their homes to get the altered versions re-signed, and claimed that parents of three of the other witnesses refused to allow them to give statements to Police (despite all of these parents having no recollection of any Police officers ever contacting them about the matter).
• Ultimately, the original statements of the attacker and the seven witnesses all went missing from Police files.

The school was so concerned about PC1’s behaviour that it telephoned his manager DI1 (the officer previously in charge of the obscene blog investigation) to complain. This complaint was passed on to PC1, who then told us about it, assuring us “it doesn’t bother me – I get them every week”. However, according to the Headteacher, despite several messages being left for DI1 to call the school back about the complaint, he didn't return these calls.

With two senior officers (DS1 and DI1) dealing with the case, you would imagine that at least one of them would have noticed that something was wrong with this investigation.

So did they do anything about it? … What do you think? (More to follow.)

The nonchalance about a complaint sounds familiar. That is very close to what Chief Superintendent Stringer and his deputy Tony Gowen said to me when we met on 10th February this year.

The complete story so far.


10 December (Part 2) - Building bridges with residents

I suppose it comes with the job description but I find myself regularly looking at other local news websites in and around London. Whilst others report council indecision and incompetence only Bexley provides the ammunition on an almost daily basis with which to accuse it of deep seated dishonesty leading to corruption.

In Barnet which vies to be the most hated council in London, the councillors regularly discuss matters with their critics on blogs, forums, by email and at public meetings. Photography is OK by them; they do not find the need to hide behind a wall of secrecy. Unlike in Bexley there is little sign of the council being in bed with the police. True the anti-terrorist police were persuaded to arrest a parking campaigner but they weren’t instructed by their political masters to let their council leader go free when he was alleged to have assaulted that campaigner and committed motoring offences.

When Barnet residents took over their council chamber last week in protest at the council cabinet’s decision to hand over all their responsibilities to Capita on a ten year billion pound contract the police merely observed the situation. Here the police threatened to arrest John Kerlen when he was slow to remove himself when asked to leave the public gallery of a public meeting. When councillor Linda Bailey assaulted him with the immortal words “I can do what I like”, Bexley police agreed with her and said she could whilst on council property.

Nearer home in Greenwich the talk is not so much its council but criticism of Transport for London and the Health Care Trust. Greenwich council is collaborating with Newham across the river pushing the case for improved river crossings whilst in Bexley the council takes the short sighted view that a ferry boat is good enough. A feeble stop gap measure will ensure the borough is left in the dark ages, transport-wise, for another 20 years. And all because the lady values her Brampton seat and the local NIMBYs more than the wider prosperity she acknowledges improved infrastructure would bring.

Greenwich statement on a white background (from their own fortnightly newspaper), Bexley on blue (from their quarterly magazine) and Newham is so confident that Boris Johnson will make the right decision that it is recruiting Civil Engineers already. (From the vacancies section of their own website.)
Thames Crossing
Greenwich council is asking for your support for its campaign. Bexley council is asking that you make it that little bit harder for its residents to find a job.


10 December (Part 1) - “Political interference”

Chief Superintendent Olisa Teresa O'NeillThis could be an interesting week for anyone still following the pursuit of Bexley council’s obscene blogger. The original failed investigation was referred to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Hogan-Howe last June and he asked his Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) to look into it. I have been advised that their reply is now awaiting the signature of a senior officer. Some of councillor Craske’s computing gear is also due back from forensic examination by Wednesday. It could be that Mick Barnbrook’s theory is correct.

Mick was a police officer for 31 years and an Inspector at Bexleyheath for some of that time and he has said from the outset that the answer to the complaint would be dependent on the outcome of the current investigation.

In his possibly jaundiced view the obscene blogger must walk free because anything else would suggest the first investigation failed due to negligence and if by chance someone was charged a good reason for the earlier failure would have to be manufactured.

I put the suggestion to the DPS a couple of months ago and they strongly denied it, but at that time they expected to send me a reply by mid-October but they delayed it. I am always more inclined to believe cock-up over conspiracy but last week it was confirmed that the DPS are indeed liaising with Bexleyheath police’s current enquiry team.

I can’t see why an investigation into the failures of 2011 needs knowledge of what is being done now. Maybe I should be more prepared to listen to Mick’s voice of experience.

After I indicated here that I had given up hope of the blog culprit being found and shifted the emphasis to the question of why, someone emailed me about the disappointment of never seeing anyone charged over the obscene blog but on the contrary I believe far more has been achieved than if a single political career had come to an end. His cohorts would have stood back and shaken their heads in mock condemnation whilst adopting an air of total innocence. Clement all over again.

The way things have worked out is far more damaging.

Ellison RoadWe know where the blog originated. On a device linked to the internet connection which terminates in Craske’s house. We don’t know who actually published it, it could have been a man with a laptop who had cracked his Wi-Fi password in a car parked outside Craske’s house.

Someone so clever that he not only cracked the password but also knew the names of people wandering around the Cinema Car Park two months earlier under the gaze of Craske’s CCTV system. And someone who coincidentally got wind of Elwyn Bryant and me visiting the Civic Offices only an hour or two earlier. So nothing is certain, Craske may have had the motive but we might never know who wrote that blog.

The extreme delay in solving a relatively low level crime is acknowledged to be “ridiculous” and it has been confirmed that there has been “political interference”. If I ever doubted that I stopped doing so the moment council leader Teresa O’Neill appointed Peter Craske to two council committees the moment his bail conditions were lifted. For good measure we know that the removal of Craske’s bail conditions was not the result of a considered decision by the investigating officer but of an order which came down from on high.

So whilst it is unlikely that a guilty councillor will be seen in the dock only to disappear and be forgotten soon afterwards, there is now something far more memorably damaging to be kicked around. Confirmation that the authority figures in Bexley are not believers in justice for all and that Bexleyheath police are susceptible to outside influence. I suspect that Elwyn Bryant will be seeking the views of his MP, James Brokenshire, on that to see what the Minister for Crime at the Home Office thinks of what goes on on his very doorstep.

If you do not believe Bexleyheath’s police is corrupt, just wait until you see the next installment of the Playground Saga tomorrow.


9 December - An early Christmas present from Bexley council

Restriction sign Penalty Charge Notice Penalty Charge NoticeI took a look at Broadway yesterday to see how the refurbishment is getting along. Not very fast was my verdict. The road surface is unchanged except that the yellow lines have been prematurely removed. There can be only one reason for doing that in advance of laying the new blocked surface; parking revenue.

Motorists are now confronted by something new. No lines, no signs on nearby posts, just a sign on a ten foot post on entry to the Restricted Parking Zone. Drivers have to read it as they negotiate a roundabout at one end or a pedestrian crossing at the other. Two motorists paid the price as I watched and more than likely won’t be spending their money in Broadway again with a bigger and better shopping centre only six miles away. It’s Mike Frizoni’s way of saying Happy Christmas.

Bodged railings Bodged railingsI’m no expert on block paving but that around Christ Church looked good enough to me. However while opening the new gate I was struck by how crudely made it is compared to the original ironwork. Perhaps it is just a temporary measure as it appears to have been butchered and bodged together from oddments of scrap railings. The baseline is all over the place too.

Maybe it is just me looking for trouble and no one else will notice but if the Reverend William Henry Pincott finds out he might bring down the wrath of God.


8 December (Part 2) - A Frizoni Folly claims a victim

Long Lane crossing Visibility impaired Long Lane crossingNot a Frizoni Fatality fortunately but close.

As the search engine referrals suggested, the removal of the pedestrian refuge from the Long Lane crossing has resulted in injuries to a pedestrian.

Long Lane forms part of the main route from Thamesmead and Abbey Wood to the centre of Bexleyheath and consequently busy for much of the day. The pedestrian crossing is no more than two car lengths from a crossroad junction and aggravated by the proximity of the Shell filling station. Residents have complained to Bexley council many times since the original crossing was needlessly altered without response.

Long Lane crossingAs the photographs taken at 10:30 this morning indicate, on sunny mornings pedestrians are tempted to launch themselves into the traffic stream almost blind. Note the woman shielding her eyes.

On the 29th November a man in his sixties who lives very close to the crossing and presumably very aware of its dangers was hit by a car exiting the petrol station. The driver was presumably keeping his eye on passing traffic and the crossing without its central refuge was no longer as obvious as it was. Additionally it was dark and the crossing beacons being shrouded are near invisible to motorists approaching from the side roads.

Frizoni’s Folly is an accident waiting to happen predictable to anyone who stands and observes for five minutes but not to the Bexley Buffoons content to sit in their warm offices drawing huge salaries and transferring responsibilities to Parsons Brinckerhoff for a mere £4 million.

Eye witnesses have said the man was thrown over the car and badly injured. Perhaps Mr. Frizoni would like to send him a Get Well card?

Previous reports on the Long Lane Lunacy. 6th March 2012. 2nd April 2012. 20th November 2012.


8 December (Part 1) - This man is an utter disgrace to his office

Mayor Alan DowningOK, tell me something new I hear you say.

Eight Conservative councillors insist that their private addresses are kept secret as they consider themselves to be at risk of violence and intimidation and that apparently is OK. However no member of the public in Bexley has the right to take part in the full democratic process unless his address is published for the world to see.

Immediately after the last council meeting (7th November 2012) a question was submitted for the next one on 6th March 2013 - they don’t like to do too much in return for their generous allowances, poor dears.

The question was…

Why do members of the public have to have their private addresses published in the agenda for full council meetings when asking a question, rather than checked and verified as being correct, whereas councillors, many of whom do not show their private addresses in the register of members interests, do not have their addresses published?

And the answer?

Your question will not appear on the agenda for the next Council meeting. This is because the Mayor does not consider it to be a policy matter and is not therefore permissible under the Council's agreed protocol.

Who can doubt that we have a deaf abusing moron for a mayor when he won’t accept that Bexley council’s policy on public questions is not a policy matter? One day the residents of Bexley may wake up to the fact they have a criminally inclined undemocratic council whose members delight in abusing their positions.

Note: The letter is signed by Mr. Kevin Fox, the man who contorted council standing orders to silence 2,219 residents who signed a petition calling on Bexley council to reconsider their senior salary levels which are among the very highest in the country. The CEO is 6th on the Tax Payers’ Alliance Rich List. Kevin Fox is also the man who said that council protocols permit photography in the council chamber but who refuses to permit it under any circumstances. Kevin Fox is clearly totally unfit to hold any executive position.


7 December (Part 2) - In each others pockets

Bexley council and the borough’s police force don’t seem to be very happy about their suspiciously close links being exposed. Who but council leader Teresa O’Neill could march into a police station with a pack of lies and half truths and get the Borough Commander to send a file to the CPS before carrying out an investigation? Yet we know that is what happened because the IPCC said so. This is what Bexley police said after John Kerlen and I were issued with warning letters for “criticising councillors on a personal level”.
Police statement
It’s a statement of fact but they considered it to be something worth including in the file prepared for the malicious and ultimately futile prosecution of John Kerlen.

After posting anything on the web most people later check what they have written, maybe because they like admiring their handiwork or through an obsessive desire to check they’ve made no mistakes; or maybe just to show off to a friend. I would assume that obscene bloggers are no exception and that if a councillor was the culprit he might use a council computer to take a look. This was on Nick Dowling’s mind (for he was libelled too) when he asked Bexley council on 12th September 2011 if it had checked all their computers. This was their response to Nick’s questions five months later on 20th February 2012…

1. Has the website been viewed on or through any Bexley Council IT system since its apparent inception on 21st May 2011?
2. If the answer to question 1 is yes, was there an internal investigation? What was the time frame of the investigation, the result of the investigation and any consequent sanctions?
No, as it was referred to the police.
3. What were the actions of the Deputy Director (ICT) when made aware of the Blog?
A list was generated of those staff who had accessed the above site to ensure that only business-related access had taken place in line with the Council’s internet use policies. A statement on internet and IT security was provided to the Police.
4. Did the Blog originate from within the London Borough of Bexley or via a Councillor?
The matter was referred to the Metropolitan Police to investigate. The London Borough of Bexley is aware that the Metropolitan Police have a range of forensic tools to analyse the content and source of web activity. The Police have not responded to the Chief Executive regarding any Council or Councillor involvement in this website.

I would guess that if you committed arson but were caught after dialling 999 when you realised someone was trapped in the fire the police would at the very least check your alibi and see if you smelled of petrol before accepting your protestations of innocence. So what did Bexleyheath police do when they realised their suspect was a councillor? They had councillor Craske’s home computer forensically checked but what about any he might have used in the Civic Offices?

Nothing! “The computers were not checked because Bexley council provided a signed statement that no council computer had accessed the site.”

It was Will Tuckley who referred the matter to the police on 9th June 2011. He appears to have been “aware that the Metropolitan Police have a range of forensic tools to analyse the content and source of web activity” but the police glossed over the council’s admission that their tools are inferior. And why do the police assume the council’s statement is not a lie?

Bexleyheath police can protest all they like that they do not offer Bexley council special facilities but are any other criminal suspects allowed to declare their own innocence? And what are we to make of those two words ‘political interference’.

Something smells.


7 December (Part 1) - Searching the web

When news is in short supply I sometimes think I could start a feature that answers the questions people ask Google etc. that are directed to this website but no answer is available. After the never ending ‘Craske arrested’ and ‘Melvyn Seymour perjury’ the variety is almost infinite. My failure to find a link for Register of Members’ Interests yesterday showed that readers often know the answers. There have been 912 questions so far this month - including some duplicates - and among them are…

“What is the speed limit in North Cray Road?” Answer: 60 m.p.h. when it opened, 40 m.p.h. now.
“Bexleyheath shopping centre awful”. Answer: Yes if you need to park there.
“Bexley councillor Jackie Evans age”. Answer: Who cares?
“Accident last week on Long Lane zebra crossing.” Answer: Yes. A Frizoni Folly claimed another victim.
“Parking restrictions Christmas 2012 Bexley.” Answer: They will tell us around the 22nd December if last year is anything to go by.
“Does speed camera in Gravel Hill work both ways?” Answer: No. At least I hope not.
“Visiting a factory where cloth is manufactured”. Answer. Google isn’t perfect after all.

Perhaps readers will have some better answers.


6 December (Part 2) - Readers to the rescue

Register of Members’ Interests
Eagle eyed readers have directed me to the Bexley council website links to the Register of Members’ Interests. You have to go to each individual councillor’s page and I had expected a single link and a list for ease of access, instead it takes four clicks to get to a single entry and back to the place where you can choose another. That's 250 clicks to see the lot.

It isn’t only councillor Peter Craske who sees a need to hide himself away from the public gaze by invoking Section 32 of the Localism Act, which says…

“A member or co-opted member of a relevant authority has an interest (whether or not a disclosable pecuniary interest), and the nature of the interest is such that the member or co-opted member, and the authority's monitoring officer, consider that disclosure of the details of the interest could lead to the member or co-opted member, or a person connected with the member or co-opted member, being subject to violence or intimidation.”

Do they all believe they have done such a thoroughly bad job as a councillor that residents are out to get them?

Those who don’t really like being in the public eye are Cheryl and Gareth Bacon, Colin Campbell, Sybil Camsey, Val Clark, Peter Craske, James Spencer and Chris Taylor. All Conservatives.

A council insider once said that if councillors were compelled to put their details on the web “they would lie even more”. That person was wrong; they prefer to say nothing.

How many councillors have had their collar felt?
The Freedom of Information request dated 20th July 2012 asking if Bexley council is “aware of any councillor being the subject of a criminal investigation by the Metropolitan Police in the last 18 months. If so, how many?” is still not answered.

For the record only one was arrested in connection with the obscene blog and he remains the only suspect. And to those anonymous tipsters who say he wasn’t alone I can only suggest you report your concerns to the police. Crime number 3906909/11.

Outsourced to Capita
“You really need to do some digging into Bexley Council and how they outsource the collection of Council Tax.” So said an anonymous message earlier this week and I have little doubt that the contractor, Capita, should be looked into. Alas, Capita is not a ‘Public Body’ so the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to them.

On the one occasion Capita decided to take issue with me over my single occupier council tax discount I told them my contract for services was with Bexley council and that I wouldn’t deal with them directly. Bexley council seemed to agree as I corresponded only with them and they resolved the problem efficiently enough - long before this website existed.

I have studied a file relating to services provided to Bexley council by Capita which was intriguing to say the least. It related to a rather complex benefit fraud where it could be argued that the principal offender got away with it and the minor one who had been sucked in was set up. A claim form had certainly undergone suspicious looking alterations which allowed it to be used against him.

Below is an extract from Capita’s files which may not make a lot of sense by itself; however the reason why the landlord didn’t have a rent book is that she wasn’t the landlord at all, she was the ‘tenant’s’ live in girlfriend and she was on the fiddle.

Capita knew that, there is a whole load of contemporaneous documentary evidence to prove it, but they didn’t want to know. I’m still not sure if they were in on the fiddle or were supremely incompetent. The overpaid benefit was never recovered. A five figure sum.
Capita letter


6 December (Part 1) - Their motto is: “Say nothing”

Bexley councillors don’t like you to know too much about them. Councils are encouraged to put their Register of Members’ Interests on line, needless to say Bexley has refused to do that, If it did so there would be no need for anyone to make an appointment to view it under supervision with copying forbidden. If Elwyn Bryant and I had not made that appointment in May 2011 councillor Peter Craske’s phone line might never have been used for the uploading of obscenities to the web. But maybe things are about to change.

A Google search for ‘register of interests peter craske bexley’ found this…
Register of Interests
It continues in similar vein. With the connivance of the new Localism Act Peter Craske has declared absolutely nothing. At last it is safe for Bexley councillors to put their Register on the web. At least three others are up on line already but so far I have not been able to find a publicly accessible link on the council’s website.

Click image for the original page.


5 December - Craske had the motive. Craske rented the phone line. Does anyone doubt who did it?

There’s another new police team investigating the source of Bexley council’s obscene blog. The previous investigating officers are no longer with Bexleyheath police. How law enforcement can be improved by such rapid turnover is unknown, probably it’s impossible. However the good news is that the new team has proved far more approachable and forthcoming than any that have gone before; the bad news is that the first investigatory team has almost certainly screwed things up big time.

Councillor Peter CraskeSo how do I judge the new crew to be more forthcoming? Easy. Elwyn Bryant and I were invited to a meeting and almost immediately councillor Peter Craske was named as the man arrested for misconduct in public office and the obscene blog suspect. When Elwyn and I expressed surprise and said we had until then been subjected to so much secrecy that we had not even been told it was a man arrested, the new team was incredulous. The 18 months to get to the current stage was unprecedented and the aim was to “wrap things up by Christmas”.

For the first time we learned that the original IP address trace led directly to councillor Craske’s house. The obscene blog was set up on a device connected to Craske’s telephone line. It was agreed that the circumstantial evidence against him is overwhelming.

The first of his computers to be forensically examined proved to be clean. The year wasted doing nothing was a golden opportunity to buy a new one or even replace a hard drive. The month between applying to magistrates for a search warrant and executing it might not have helped justice take its course either.

Currently a second device is being forensically examined. “If that proves to be clean there will be nowhere else to go”. “What about the recent obscene messages that came from a Parsons Brinckerhoff computer?” I asked. The new team knew nothing about them. Contrary to assurances by the previous investigating officers, that crime had not been linked to the old one. Conspiracy or cock-up? Who knows; but I have provided the new team with the facts and it agrees they could change the outcome should the second computer be clean. But it’s another six weeks lost with its consequential dilution of evidence through the incompetence that would appear to be the norm at Bexleyheath police station.

Victor Olisa“Who released Craske from Bail?” Elwyn wanted to know. The answer was steeped in police jargon however a few generic questions revealed the only possible source. The order had come from the very top. Maybe my speculation wasn’t too wide of the mark. Earlier on the excuses given for the unwarranted delays included “too much red tape” and “political interference”. Maybe it was  a reference to the interest shown by MPs Teresa Pearce and James Brokenshire but that wasn’t how it sounded.

My point about Craske being welcomed back into the council by leader Teresa O’Neill after being given some assurance that the case against him would be dropped and the risk of further embarrassment was low was met with silence but not entirely straight faces.

If the police in Bexley want to change their reputation for dishonesty and curtail the speculation that secrecy encourages they might consider adopting the attitude of their new team. If it had been given unfettered discretion, Craske may have been charged and found guilty by this time last year. Instead Bexley police and Bexley council were busy pinning false harassment charges on blogger Olly Cromwell. (John Kerlen.)

The Timeline will be updated.


4 December - Not so secret pay off

Angela HoganOnce upon a time there was a Bexley council solicitor personally selected for the job by Ian Clement, the disgraced former leader of Bexley council. Her name was Angela Hogan and she was a Deputy Director and Head of Legal Services. She resigned soon after Clement got himself into trouble and Bexley council decided against reporting Clement to the police. There were suggestions that all these events were linked.

I heard one councillor and one council officer suggest she left the council’s employ under a cloud. When asked if there had been a financial settlement both said something like “of course not” and implied (and in one case said), she wasn’t really very good and there would have been no pay off.

The people from the Bexley Council Monitoring Group (BCMG) decided they would try to confirm that with a Freedom of Information request. Was there a golden goodbye or not? A simple Yes or No answer was all that was required. Bexley council decided to give no answer at all. The Information Commissioner sent Bexley council a nine page letter instructing them to give an answer. Bexley council still said No.

Hogan resigns
With no more help forthcoming from the Information Commissioner the BCMG decided to take the matter through the Information Commissioner’s complaints procedure which means a Judge and a Tribunal.

Soon after the file went before the Judge for a preliminary hearing another member of the BCMG stumbled across this entry on the council’s website. Not bad money for a simple resignation!
£41,000 pay off
They decided to continue with the complaint to the ICO’s Tribunal to see how far Bexley council would go to defend their wish to maintain secrecy of a figure that was in the public domain. Quite a long way was the answer. The Judge and the BCMG exchanged several long telephone calls.

Eventually when it was clear that Bexley council was about to hire a barrister and waste more public money on their obsession with admitting nothing, the BCMG decided it was time to own up. The Judge was informed and soon afterwards Bexley council told the BCMG what they already knew.

This concludes a story begun in earlier blogs from November 2011 and August this year.

The entry currently on the London Councils website is unexplained. (See right hand of this rotated extract.)
London Councils web page


3 December (Part 2) - Who were they protecting this time?

Episode three of the story of Bexleyheath police dishonesty exposed at Dartford Crown is now available. Tantalisingly. the author and father of a young lad assaulted and seriously injured at school still withholds the names of the police officers concerned but the extent of their incompetence which appears to be their trademark is clear to see. Some may think that incompetence is not the only problem endemic at Bexleyheath police station.

words “Another person also became involved – a regular police constable whose family shares close friends in common with the attacker’s family” turn out to be very significant.

The complete story so far.


3 December (Part 1) - More anon

Not all anonymous messages are of the Parsons Brinckerhoff variety, some provide tip offs and others polite observations. Most give no clue as to why the messages should be anonymous but occasionally it is all too obvious.

I used to try to spot serial anonymous senders but gave up after I mistakenly convinced myself that a series of messages were all from the same source and drew some seriously wrong conclusions as a result. Recently I have not attempted to be that ‘clever’ and I file them all together with no attempt to segregate them into sources. You can’t win. I now I find I have dismissed as a ‘nobody’ someone I should probably have identified as a ’somebody’, but it never occurred to me. Maybe the serial anonymous senders should allocate themselves a four digit PIN to save my blushes.


2 December - Memories lost

Travelodge SidcupI have been occupied elsewhere for most of the weekend and come back unable to remember either of the two subjects that I had planned to cover next. This is not a good start to the month; maybe the Sidcup Community Group will not mind if I ‘steal’ some of their news about what used to be a historic coaching inn while I do battle with the grey cells.

After initially agreeing to retain the facade of the Black Horse Inn the developers installed a concrete crushing machine next to it and from what one could judge from a roadside view, hung scaffolding from the ancient wall. Not surprisingly it became unsafe in their eyes and they demolished it. When Bexley council’s planning committee got to hear about it they insisted on a substitute structure pictured here. Not up to much is it?

The planning department agreed it was a poor effort and issued an Enforcement Notice but it looks like the developer was never really serious about their promises and have appealed against the order.

The full story, a picture of the inn in its heyday and how you can strike back against the developer if you feel so inclined are all on the Sidcup Community Group’s website.


1 December - Parking fines. Exposing Bexley’s dishonesty. (Episode 9)

Tippett and CraskeI had better bring you another installment of the parking saga before everyone begins to forget.

A disabled ex-policeman had won an admission from Bexley council that they take no notice of any evidence supplied at the first appeal stage preferring to rely on a report by their own staff, which in this case was an outright lie.

The retired policeman didn’t think eventually dropping his fine and allowing Bexley council to carry on inflicting their injustices on more motorists was a satisfactory outcome. Neither did he think that making the parking contractor pay the fine instead of him could be morally justified. Why should Bexley council profit from the unjustified misery it inflicts on innocent motorists?

Another hand written letter was sent to Bexley council, this time it was five pages of A4 to Chief Executive Will Tuckley. It covered a number of examples of how Bexley council’s policy is unjust…

“An Authorised Officer has considered all evidence presented from both parties. The officer has rejected your representation. This is a blatant and barefaced lie. He has not considered any part of my evidence. Bexley Parking Services (BPS) policy does not allow him to.

[Another] scenario [is] if I receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) and I believe I have reasonable grounds to contend, then I send my representation to Bexley Parking Services, who reject my contention out of hand, stating as they do, an Authorised Officer has considered all evidence from both parties etc., then rejects my challenge. At the same time he threatens me that if I continue to pursue this challenge and I lose, I will have to pay the full amount of £120.

Although I feel my challenge is reasonable, against my better judgment I decide I cannot afford £60, let alone £120, so I capitulate and pay £60.

What happens next? BPS add my £60 to their bulging coffers and close the case or write to me and say sorry, we did not really take your evidence into account or attempt to visit the site. The initial rejection is just a ploy to give us more time. We are returning your £60.

The wronged motorist was in effect asking Mr. Tuckley; is BPS run by a bunch of fraudsters or not? And given what they had already admitted to him he had a very valid point. How would Tuckley wriggle out of that one? He passed the questions on to Mr. Moore (Director of Public and Corporate Services) again. In a letter delivered by hand, Mr. Moore admitted that the PCN should never have been issued and that BPS did not bother to take note of the evidence supplied. Everyone had lied in an effort to extort money from the disabled pensioner. CEO BL286 had lied on his report. The Authorised Officer I.S. lied about considering the evidence.

The question of Bexley council profiting from inflicting unwarranted misery on motorists was answered in a way I haven’t come across before. Mr. Moore took out his own cheque book and gave the motorist a cheque for £60 drawn on his own personal account payable to the motorist’s favoured charity. Mr. Moore appears to be a generous man anxious to put right his employer’s misdeeds, however the ex-policeman did not think it right that anyone but Bexley council should pay, and returned it.

This story is reported in an indeterminate number of episodes. A cumulative version is provided for convenience.


News and Comment December 2012

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