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News and Comment March 2012

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16 March (Part 3) - Arthur Daley isn’t dead

Bexley Cabs Bexley CabsWorking on a tip off, I asked the Bexley Council Monitoring Group if they could take an interest in the new cab office that has appeared in the centre of Bexley Village. If you haven’t noticed I have been rather busy lately. Peering through the windows, there appeared to be a fully kitted out taxi office inside as well as the more obvious ‘Opening Soon’ signs which adorn the exterior.

The neighbouring property owners had no idea what was going on beyond the obvious. The proprietors of the adjacent Bar Lorca and Ex-Service Men’s Club specifically said that Bexley council had not given them any opportunity to object.

A call to the planning office at Wyncham House elicited the information that there had been no formal application, though they were aware of the development. "Do you know who is behind it?” asked my man from the BCMG “yes said the planning man”, (whose name I have but see no need to reveal). “It is Mark Campbell.” “Is that the same Mark Campbell who is the son of deputy council leader Colin Campbell?” asked the fearless Mick Barnbrook, for the interrogator was he, and after that fact was confirmed the conversation suddenly became very frosty. The man from Bar Lorca claimed to have captured the councillor on site on his CCTV.

At yesterday evening’s planning meeting, Mick asked Susan Clark, Head of Planning Control if what he had heard from Wyncham House was all true. Everything was, she confirmed. Mark Campbell was the man and as of yesterday evening there was no planning application. Is one needed? If not, you would think Mrs. Clark would say. Planning Committee chairman Peter Reader was able to hear the conversation and said it would put him in difficulties as he has a financial interest in the adjacent wood merchant - I think they were just a client of his, so all perfectly legit.

There is I suppose nothing illegal about spending large sums on equipping a taxi office without any guarantee of being allowed to operate it, although maybe the advertising signs fall foul of some regulation or other, but it looks so very presumptuous doesn’t it? My dad’s in charge so no one can stop me. Open for business and ask for permission retrospectively; doesn’t everybody do that?

An enquiry to a nearby minicab office revealed that they had heard that Bexley Cabs is due to open on 26th March and they believed that it wasn’t possible to apply for a Public Carriage Operator’s licence before planning permission is obtained. It was also claimed that it isn’t legal to refer to a Cab in business material, it must be Minicab, but I shall have to take his word for that.

There is going to have to be a lot of fast-tracking to get all that formality completed in the next ten days, there isn’t even a Licensing meeting scheduled before then. Another councillor privy to Mick’s conversation cheekily whispered into his ear, “it looks like a brown envelope job to me”. That implies money will change hands. I doubt it myself, why spend money if there is a better way?

If you can remember 1st January you may recall a somewhat similar story blogged there.

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