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News and Comment June 2014

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30 June - Miscellaneous meanderings

It’s been a quiet month with just one council meeting to report and even that wasn’t real business, more like another excuse for self-congratulation.

A few snippets of information arrived by email during the last few weeks which might not have merited comment at the time but with the June blog about to slip from view a quick round up may not be be totally out of order.

MeetingBexley council’s website has never been well organised which must contribute to maintenance problems. Not only are councillor details still wrong three weeks after they were given new jobs but an eagle-eyed reader noticed that visitors are still being directed to the old Broadway site. The image shown was extracted from the council’s meetings calendar this morning. It’s not a one-off, all scheduled meetings show the same old address.

Following the report that Director of Environment and Wellbeing, Peter Ellershaw and his wife Toni run a building company whilst raking in a quarter million from Bexley taxpayers, I was told they weren’t the only ones.

It was alleged that Director Mike Ellsmore runs a music business in Faversham, which seemed a little far fetched to me. It’s true that a Mike Ellsmore is mixed up with the music scene in Faversham but I have yet to find a positive link with the Bexley one. If you know better and have proof…

To my mind the business links of the recent Isle of Man immigrant Mark Charters are more interesting. He came to Bexley from Northampton County Council in July 2007 and promptly hired a firm of consultants called Ophira Ltd. By some enormous coincidence Ophira was founded in 2007 and comes from Northampton. Bexley’s website doesn’t say much about Ophira but the company website is more revealing; it lists the contracts they have managed to attract. Job one, Bexley, job two Bexley, job three Somerset and nothing since. Why would Bexley’s new Director of Education pay money to a new company with no track record whatsoever who happened to come from his old home town? Old Pal’s Act perhaps?

There have been emails about the illegal strip show at councillor Lucia-Hennis’s Charlotte pub in Crayford but only to confirm that Bexley council is not doing anything about her licence breach. Anyone who complains gets the official brush off. “Unfortunately, you are not a concerned party into any current investigation into the Charlotte Public House and, therefore, any details are confidential.” Did anyone expect otherwise?

An estate agency boss told me that according to one of his trade papers there are only twelve houses for sale in Bexley that could be considered affordable by someone who can only scrape together an 18% deposit which is apparently the average for a first time buyer. It’s a shocking figure made worse by the fact that twelve affordable properties is the best figure of any borough in London.

I am still taking Google’s Data Protection message with a pinch of salt; all the best BiB pages featuring certain Bexley people are still indexed. If that changes it wouldn’t be difficult to retitle the pages, perhaps edit them and park them somewhere else. New pages get indexed by Google very quickly, sometimes only a matter of hours.


29 June - Replacement blog service

What’s going on with Crossrail I was asked and “not a lot” might be reasonable enough reply. The subject hasn’t much to do with Bexley council but it is nevertheless a popular one and if it provides a bigger audience for Bexley council’s antics, so why not?

For rail passengers and Crossrail watchers alike the weekend has been a bit of a disappointment. The former have a 200 yard dash from the station booking office to the Replacement Bus stop and train enthusiasts expecting a repeat of the big changes of two weeks ago will have had their hopes dashed.

Except for the two months old Photo 3 which is included for comparison purposes all these pictures were taken at around 11:30 am today or yesterday. Click image for more complete details.

What appears to be a new trackbed to the south of the two week old realigned track currently ends at the Eynsham Drive bridge from which the photograph was taken.

Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail

Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail

Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail


27 June - Dirty secrets to hide?

Readers will probably be aware that one of numerous rules imposed on us by the European Union is that internet search engine operators can be asked to stop indexing web pages if the subject of them would prefer they weren’t there. Dodgy characters can ask to be hidden from view.

GoogleHave you typed the words ‘Teresa O’Neill’ into Google recently? You'’ll see the message shown here. Click it to read Google’s policy on this matter. You get the same message when typing Peter Craske, Cheryl Bacon or Peter Ayling. In global terms none of those names can be considered rare so it is possible that a namesake has made the removal request. Strange coincidence though.

The US based is not subject to Europe’s silly rules but getting there is discouraged by Google UK who will almost certainly switch you back to the To bypass the address interception go to and take the route to at the foot of the page. My search for ‘Teresa O’Neill Bexley’ on showed no obvious difference to a UK search. If you find anything different for Teresa or any of the other three I’d be pleased to hear about it.

Something that was a secret until it was exposed here three years ago is that Bexley’s Director of Environment and Wellbeing, Peter Ellershaw is married to his Deputy Director, although she prefers to be called Toni Ainge. That helps protect them from the questions that might otherwise be asked about a Director and his Deputy going on leave at the same time or Peter being responsible for his wife’s annual report and her pay increment. A corrupt council likes to keep its secrets to itself if it can.

Toni Ainge is paid £82,000 a year by Bexley council and husband Peter gets £172,500, both being enhanced with a 20% pension contribution and 32 days paid leave. You’d think that jobs at that level would involve a considerable investment in time with little left over for a second job, but you’d be wrong again.

TomellPeter Ernest James Ellershaw and Mrs. Antonia Elizabeth Ellershaw run a building construction company based in Maidstone. It is jointly owned with another couple, the Tomlins and their company founded in September 2012 is imaginatively entitled Tomell Developments Limited. If I interpret their accounts correctly it made about £88,000 by the time it submitted its first set of accounts.

All very enterprising of course but how many other employers would pay out more than a quarter of a million in salaries and not expect 100% devotion to the job?

Bexley’s Employee Code of Conduct has this to say about additional employment; “If you wish to undertake additional employment or business activity, you must seek permission from your Deputy Director”.

For many councillors and its top brass, Bexley council is little but a personal money making machine.


26 June - And all because one councillor couldn’t stop lying

This blog has been edited after its initial posting. The alterations relate only to the final image. Mr. Barnbrook requested that his 1997 letter from Robert Ayling should be made available in full - click the extract - to better illustrate that the issue at the time was the complaint made by Stephen Lawrence’s mother Doreen against the Metropolitan Police and that there was no complaint against Robert Ayling, Kent Constabulary or former Inspector Michael Barnbrook who was stationed at Greenwich police station with responsibility for Eltham at the time of the murder.

BaconIf only councillor Cheryl Bacon had said sorry, or even done nothing at all, after wrongly excluding six members of the public, one now an elected councillor, from her meeting on 19th June 2013, this would be another no news day on Bonkers; but no, being an idiot and a Bexley Conservative councillor with close ties to the leadership, Cheryl Bacon had to lie. Her story is that all but one person present at her Public Realm meeting was shouting, waving papers in the air and according to one of the latest variants on the theme, everyone was trying to record the meeting, not just Nicholas Dowling.

She has the support of senior council officials such as Lynn Tyler, Nick Hollier, Akin Alabi and Will Tuckley none of whom was present so cannot speak with any authority and on the other hand ten people who were there and saw everything have made statements to the effect that no disturbance took place. No shouting, no waving of papers, no running amok and no recording beyond Nick Dowling’s broken Dictaphone and that Nick was always polite and never aggressive. Will Tuckley is pointedly ignoring all the evidence, refusing to conduct an investigation into whether or not Cheryl Bacon has comprehensively lied to cover up what was arguably no more than a minor offence against the Local Government Act 1972.

BullshitHowever instead of putting their hands up and laying the matter to rest, someone had the brilliant idea of getting the police on side and now PCs Shaun Kelly and Peter Arthurs, backed by the council doorman Mal Chivers are all allegedly confirming Bexley council’s rather obvious falsehoods. In the police’s own words only a few days ago, “The call for Police came from Mr. Mal Chivers and requested police attendance as 5-6 males had been recording a public meeting, had been asked to stop and leave, but were refusing to do so.”

Mal Chivers told me face to face that he had only asked for assistance in respect of Nick Dowling. All the statements made a year ago, to the press, in reminders from officials to councillors on what to do in the event of a repeat, answers to complaints etc., all refer to only one person. The police are mistaken when they refer to more than one person but it is a statement that helps to get Bexley’s corrupt council off the hook, just as they have done so many times before, Bexley police do whatever the council asks them to do.

Mick Barnbrook is taking the lead role in pursuing this latest example of the corruption that infests Arnsberg Way and Watling Street. One advantage of letting a retired police officer take up this complaint is that he will insist on all the correct procedures being followed. As a result the statements made by the two constables and the doorman are in a format that can result in a prison sentence if they are found to be false.

Bexley’s Chief Executive, Will Tuckley has been stonewalling Mick for months preferring that the doorman places himself in the firing line and Borough Police Commander Peter Ayling has remained similarly silent. Mick has given up on further correspondence with them and his complaints and allegations are now being directed elsewhere. Chief Superintendent Ayling is the first beneficiary with Will Tuckley, Cheryl Bacon, Mal Chivers and a string of others next on his list, but Bexley police got in first. They’ve already notified their Directorate of Professional Standards of impending trouble.

In his ‘PDF police biography’, Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling refers to himself as being the son of a policeman and the importance of communication skills, which is ironic when I have been present at three public meetings where the complaint from councillors and public alike has been that he just doesn’t respond to enquiries.
And was this Portsmouth born, only just 37 years old Chief Superintendent really the son of a policeman? Yes but not any old policeman, Robert Ayling was Chief Constable of Kent when he retired in 2004. Ironically he knew of Mick Barnbrook and wrote to him in 1997.
Letter to Mick Barnbrook
Mick Barnbrook was the appointed mentor to Stephen Lawrence and his brother until 1993.

Index to related blogs and documents.


25 June - Crossrail to take over more Abbey Wood parking spaces

Crossrail CrossrailThose of us who live in the north of the borough are going to lose our train services for each of the next three weekends. It’s probably a pretty safe bet that the track realignment that was done ten days ago is going to be extended all the way back to Abbey Wood station. With the station demolition due soon nearby roads will inevitably suffer. Large vehicles can at present only reach the station site via a difficult reversing manoeuvre. It’s far from satisfactory.

To alleviate the problems Gayton Road which runs parallel to the railway line will lose all its parking spaces, the terminating bus stop for route 224 and the exit from the Gayton Road car park. Wilton Road will lose parking spaces at its northern (railway) end from both Bexley and Greenwich sides of the road.

In a second phase of alterations Wilton Road, currently a one-way street, will be changed back to two-way working as it was until ten years ago. Wilton Road is currently only just wide enough for single direction traffic so further parking restrictions are planned. A new exit from the Gayton Road car park will be constructed in Fossington Road.

Two Wilton Road traders have confirmed to me that they received no advance warning of these changes. They may well be inevitable but even fewer customers are in prospect for them for the next four years; except perhaps for the take-aways which seem to be popular among Crossrail workers.


24 June - Something fishy going on

One of the silliest things I did soon after moving to Bexley 27 years ago is dig a big hole in the garden and make a pond. It has created little but work since and for silliness is probably second only to setting up this blog.

Beneath the pond nearly five feet down is a four inch pipe conveying water to a filter and somehow the protective grid had been displaced and the water flow slowed, eventually coming to a complete standstill. It took all day yesterday to pump the water out and get down and remove one big round stone and not very much muck at all. That’s why there was no blog yesterday but in truth there is not a lot to write about just now. Mick Barnbrook is supposedly rewriting his letters of complaint about the police regarding their cover up engineered to save Cheryl Bacon’s bacon but the silence from that direction suggests he has broken his computer again. In preparation for one day getting hold of copies I have done a little research on Bexley’s top cop and come up with something for later you might not know.

It’s not been complete slacking on the blog front and I have been updating the 2014-2018 Index of councillors and revising the old 2010-2014 one where necessary.

Chairman MasseyThe job is difficult because Bexley council doesn’t provide a simple list of names, jobs and allowances. There are lists of jobs and allowances with no names attached and if you look at each councillor’s page you find some jobs listed but some attract allowances and some don’t with no reference to the sums of money involved. I am not yet confident that my lists are totally accurate but on the other hand I’m pretty sure that Bexley’s lists are a mess too. Among several oddities councillor Sharon Massey is still listed as Chairman of the council and I suspect Howard Marriner may have words to say about that.

Bexley‘s webmaster is probably as confused about the new appointments as I am so I am going to suggest to councillors they each check their own pages and let him know where he has things wrong.

I suspect he is not wrong when he lists councillor Cheryl Bacon as the new chairman of the Members’ Code of Conduct Committee. A liar has been put in charge of maintaining standards. You couldn’t make it up.

Another part of Bonkers which requires attention is the Index of correspondence relating to the Peter Craske affair otherwise known as the obscene blog. It’s not practical to put everything on line but the extracts must still tell the story. The job is ongoing.


23 June - Misconduct in Public Office. A family affair?

Someone closely acquainted with Bexley police and their crooked associations with Bexley council (†) asked me why I was so sure that Police Constables Shaun Kelly and Peter Arthurs would have to be pressurised into making false statements in support of Bexley council, maybe they were happy to be associated with liars was the unstated suggestion.

Probably I am naive but that was something that had never crossed my mind encouraged by the fact that the police refused to let Mick Barnbrook have a copy of the two PC’s statements, merely giving assurances that their statements supported Bexley council’s false allegation about five members of the public refusing to leave the council chamber. Being only too well aware of how senior police officers lie as a matter of course I rather thought the statements didn’t actually exist.

But what if the two PCs are wrong ‘uns happy to associate themselves with liars, cheats and crooks?

Research into Shaun Kelly’s history did not get very far. He is the Neighbourhood copper on Teresa O’Neill’s ward which doesn’t prove a lot. Maybe he feels he can’t afford to upset the great lady.

Looking into Peter Arthurs’ history proved to be a bit more interesting but maybe not entirely productive. A Peter Arthurs married an Eileen Hayes in 1983…
…and a Peter and Eileen Arthurs live - or maybe lived - together in Bexley.
With the same names and middle initials it’s not impossible they are the same couple. So where is this leading you might ask. Well it’s probably just wishful thinking but a PC Eileen Arthurs was jailed for two and a half years last year for Misconduct in Public Office.

There is a pre-verdict report on the News Shopper’s website. It includes the little gem of information that PC Eileen Arthurs lived at the same address as Lee May, “suspected of involvement in the 2006 Securitas Heist which was the biggest in British criminal history”.

It’s too much to hope for that PC Peter Arthurs is in some way linked to this and heading in the same direction as Eileen all because councillor Cheryl Bacon is one big liar and the indications are unfortunately that it is all coincidence. But it does serve as a reminder that one can be too trusting of the police and maybe I should stop giving PCs Kelly and Arthurs the benefit of the doubt.

† It was John Kerlen as long term readers may have guessed. For newcomers I should explain that in 2011 John Tweeted “What sort of c*** lives in a house like this?” alongside an identified house. It was councillor Melvin Seymour’s house but it was Bexley council that identified it, not John. They then persuaded an obedient Bexley police chief to prosecute him claiming without a shred of evidence that John had encouraged people to post dog faeces through Seymour’s letter box. Will Tuckley repeated the same lie in a letter to John.

Below is part of councillor Seymour’s less than truthful statement to the police…
Where did Seymour get that idea from? No one mentioned dogs but when does the truth ever bother the average Bexley Tory? Seymour repeated the same lies in the witness box. Fortunately, albeit after ten thousand pounds’ worth of barrister’s fees, John was found not guilty. Yet another example of the dishonest steps certain Bexley councillors will take to avenge criticism.

Perhaps Melvin Seymour would like to thank Cheryl Bacon for providing the opportunity to rake up that old story for the benefit of a new audience?


22 June - One step forward, two steps back

Sidcup SidcupI have fallen into the habit of looking in on Sidcup at fortnightly intervals but a reader suggested it would be worthwhile bringing forward my next visit. He said “you couldn’t make it up” but most of the blocks laid since work started on Hatherley Road on 19th May had been ripped up.

While making my way there I noted that the paved area outside Sidcup & Co. (Photo 1) had at long last been finished off; that section’s only taken five months to complete but Hatherley Road appeared to have gone backwards just as I was advised.

Photo 2 shows the situation last Sunday and those below are how it appears today. Blocks have been piled in untidy heaps and thrown into wheelbarrows.

Hatherley Road Hatherley Road Hatherley Road Hatherley Road

As this is the 15th picture diary of progress on the Sidcup High Street regeneration it is time an Index was introduced to enable easier location of earler blogs.


21 June (Part 3) - Government bans use of CCTV spy cars, or do they?

Spy carThere has been some excitement this morning about news reports that Gestapo wagons are to be banned but some are less optimistic about seeing the back of the things than others. Probably it is best to go by the Government’s own Press Release issued today.

Operations such as the one pictured will not be outlawed although maybe this driver who didn’t bother putting up any warning signs while occupying one of only six spaces available outside Abbey Wood station shold be sanctioned.

The repeated issuing of fines at locations where an adjudicator has ruled the signage is inadequate may have to stop. That might hit Bexley hard but the time for celebration has not yet come.

The Press Release may say “Government bans use of CCTV spy cars” but it also talks about a three month consultation period.

This will be like when just over a year ago Eric Pickles issue a Press Release on recording council meetings and it is still not law.


21 June (Part 2) - It’s one rule for them…

Last month OFSTED published its report on the effectiveness of Bexley council’s safeguarding of children and all five aspects of their responsibilities were judged “Requires improvement”. Greater detail was reported on 4th June.

OFSTED reportWill Tuckley responded to that damning commentary by issuing a Press Release. It said “I want to thank all staff involved, councillors and our partners for working together to deliver a better service and committing to continue to improve”. If you knew no better you might believe that OFSTED rated Bexley ‘good’.

OFSTED has also recently reported on St. Peter Chanel Catholic Primary School in Sidcup; it rated it as “Requires improvement” in three categories and ‘good’ in a fourth. So not brilliant but better than the Bexley managed children’s care services. Presumably Bexley council sent words of encouragement to the school staff and governors as they did for care services.

No, not a bit of it.

Care Services are the direct responsibility of Chief Executive Will Tuckley and Director Mark Charters, shortly to take up a new appointment in the Isle of Man. Schools have boards of governors.

For rather better performance than Bexley achieved themselves, council leader Teresa O’Neill has decided that St. Peter Chanel School be issued with a formal warning. The details are here. Why didn’t Mark Charters and the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services get one?


21 June (Part 1) - Frizoni fails

By last Wednesday I’d heard several reports of traffic chaos in Erith caused by the Manor Road closure. Manor Road provides access to the industrial estates on the river front and is in a bad state of repair due to the large number of heavy vehicles it carries. Late last Thursday afternoon I walked from Erith Station along Manor Road as far as the wind turbine. From there I went along Slade Green Road to North End Road and then back to Erith town centre hoping to see what Bexley council was inflicting on residents this time. I saw only four orange suited workers on my entire journey.

Manor Road as it heads out of town is not the most salubrious of places, Photo 3 being typical of some of the lesser industrial units and the section which is now ‘Access Only’ was plagued by boy racers. No small vehicle was doing less than 40 m.p.h. and some must have been pushing 55.

There was a stream of heavy vehicles along the diversion route which could not have pleased nearby residents but I did not see any hold ups apart from where Peareswood Road meets North End Road (Photo 4) and even there it was not constant.

It looked to me that Mike Frizoni has failed in his mission to bring Erith to a permanent standstill but he has a reserve plan drawn up. Last week he issued an Order effective from 30th June that allows him to close nearby Fraser Road for three weeks for resurfacing work. Bus drivers on route 99 will have two diversions to contend with.

Manor Road Manor Road Manor Road Peareswood Road


20 June (Part 2) - The Watling effect. What’s going on?

Has vacating the run down and tired looking Civic Offices in Broadway in favour of the prestigious 2 Watling Street had a similar beneficial effect on the people who occupy it? I am beginning to think so.
Old offices
There was a planning meeting in the new building last night which had nothing of general interest on the Agenda but I was curious as to how the new council chamber would be laid out so I called in at 19:15 and was away 25 minutes later.

A young man from reception escorted me to the door of the chamber and once inside, a smiling Committee Officer, Mike Summerskill offered a good seat and table for my use. I declined Mike’s kind offer while telling him I didn’t intend to stay long and that I was not going to report on the meeting in any detail. I would take a photograph to try to give an impression of the room layout and that would be it.

A few minutes later I saw the committee chairman Peter Reader heading in my direction but as he was one of the majority of Tories who I do not believe has ever spoken to me I didn’t take a lot of notice. However he addressed me by first name, welcoming me to the meeting with his arm outstretched in greeting. He was totally at ease with me taking a picture or two as he opened the meeting and when I said I would not be staying long, asked if I was going home to watch the football. As you can see my attempt at photography was not terribly successful. Planning
Now this is seriously unnerving stuff. I don’t recall ever having to be particularly negative about councillor Peter Reader (†) but if Tory councillors are going to be friendly in future it will become very difficult to put the boot in should the need ever arise. It’s going to kill off Bonkers.

But having thought about it overnight I’ve come to the conclusion that the blog is not in very great danger. There is a very close correlation between councillors who never speak to me and those I might think are somewhat dodgy. I doubt any of those will ever speak to me, Bexley is spoiled by not many more than a dozen dishonest councillors.

On my way out two very smart people on the reception desk bid me “Good night”; where are they getting all these polite and attractive youngsters from? I never had any complaints about the doormen of old but the newcomers would not be out of place at a posh hotel. I wonder what it is costing us.

CCTVI think I’ll only report on future planning meetings if there is something of borough wide interest on the Agenda. If someone is interested in some run-of-the-mill house extension it is reasonable to assume they will turn up in person or watch the webcast. Apart from the impression of a stitch up given over Hill View I’ve not seen anything odd going on at a planning meeting. Peter Reader plays a straight bat and planning officers usually appear to do a decent enough job, so there is rarely anything contentious to report.

† I suppose it is unkind of me to remind readers that it was Peter Reader who spoke against the public being able to record meetings at the Constitutional Review Committee meeting last September?

All sorts of questions get sent to Bonkers; what model of PTZ CCTV camera is in use was one, hence the picture. Maybe someone can ID it.

P.S. I didn’t watch the football. Never have watched football, is there any reason to start now? No? Thought not.


20 June (Part 1) - It’s the stupid cuts

Upton CentreOnly two weeks ago Bexley council announced they were to close the the Mental Health Centre in Crayford, now it is the turn of the Children’s Centre in Upton Road, Bexleyheath. Today it will close its doors for the last time to help maintain councillors’ allowances at the rate to which they have become accustomed.

Bexley council has some rather weasely words about its decision on its website. It’s not a closure apparently, it’s just a change.

Note: It’s possible that the building pictured is not the Children’s Centre as it is not marked as such but it is the most likely looking building in Upton Road.


19 June (Part 4) - Trying to be in two places at once

A few readers have asked why there has been no coverage here of the gypsies that took up residence at the top of Knee Hill, the gypsies who have moved into Falconwood or the dreadful fatal hit and run in Abbey Wood this morning. Several reasons really; firstly all three incidents are just across the border in Greenwich and without photographs the gypsy stories are not of much interest. Following my own encounter with gypsies last year I am not going to recommend anyone goes anywhere near them with or without a camera.

I understand that the gypsies who arrived in Falconwood are one and the same group who were on Bostall Heath and although the Falconwood gypsies are across the borough border, Bexley police are mounting extra patrols in the area.

Today has been a busy day, delving into police matters for tomorrow’s blog and photographs taken in both Erith and Bexleyheath to illustrate the weekend blog. I finished up hot and sticky in the council chamber to observe the start of the planning meeting. Then I rushed home to watch the webcast. Hmm. Planning meetings are not easy to follow on the web are they? All those diagrams and pictures to take in. It might improve understanding if the 113 page PDF Agenda was downloaded and printed in advance, but not exactly practical.


19 June (Part 3) - Pure speculation. Probably

Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, North End) came out with an intriguing 16 second aside at last week’s council meeting. He said that the Tories had finally seen sense and that they agree Bexley should have a Thames bridge.

As yet no councillor, not even a friendly one, has been willing to enlarge on that so I can only speculate.

The facts are that the majority of residents in Bexley and nearby voted for a bridge in the TfL consultation. Boris Johnson said during one of his LBC radio appearances that more lower Thames crossings are essential and of course simple common sense says that you cannot forever have a major city with such poor transport links and expect it to remain an international class city however much the Luddite Teresa O’Neill protests.

I suspect that Boris has made a decision and whispered it to his favourite local politician and it is not as isolationist as she would like which has the potential for leaving local Tories with egg on their faces. So they are going to change tack in order to be able to say they were behind the idea all along.

Guessing again, I'd say a Bexley bridge will come ashore in a strong Labour ward which must be Belvedere or Erith where it could connect to Bronze Age Way. Everyone could then claim victory except perhaps poor old residents who could have avoided the poisonous air around Blackwall Tunnel from the end of last year had it not been for the mobile road block which is Teresa O’Neill.


19 June (Part 2) - Can a corrupt council and its protector fix this can of worms too?

I had gone nearly four weeks without seeing - or in some cases hearing from - any member of the Bexley Action Group in part because they had taken themselves off on holidays after their election campaign; so last night i took up my standing invitation to attend their meetings. I was hoping to get hold of Mick Barnbrook’s allegations of Misconduct in Public Office and Perverting the Course of Justice against all and sundry but they had got only to a late draft stage despite him spending several days of his holiday pen and mouse in hand.

I had to wait for those issues to come up for discussion because the three Blackfen candidates were checking over each others electoral expenses which have to reach Returning Officer Will Tuckley by the end of next week, otherwise you can be sure that a vindictive Tory will try to get them banged up for their omission. It seemed to me to be an unnecessarily complicated process.

I also discovered that their website comes up for renewal next week and at £60 a year they are going to let it go. I offered to archive it here and they agreed. From next Thursday that will be the only home it has.

Mick had drafted five letters two of which were complaints to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards about more MP expense fiddlers. He is hoping to add to his tally of 17 scalps or whatever the number currently is. The other three were of more local relevance and Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling, PCs Arthurs and Kelly, Will Tuckley (Bexley council Chief Executive), Akin Allibi (Head of Legal), Lynn Tyler (Legal Team Manager), Mal Chivers (Doorman) and Cheryl Bacon (Liar Extraordinaire) are all to be reported to Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe for various serious criminal offences.

Mick’s letter to Will Tuckley asking him to properly investigate the events of last June remains unanswered after more than two months and three reminders. In it Mick provided all the evidence needed that councillor Cheryl Bacon lied about what happened on 19th June 2013 and Tyler, Akabi, Nick Hollier (Human Resources) all lied in her support and now even the police are up to their same old tricks. Typical of the evidence supplied is…

I can however confirm that at no time was there any general disturbance created by any member of the pubic, all of whom remained polite and orderly at all times.

Tuckley…which comes from a councillor.

The failure, indeed refusal, to carry out a proper investigation into a breach of the Local Government Act 1972 and the ensuing cover up by the man who wears the legal wig on behalf of Bexley council is in my view a very good thing. It will make Mick’s allegation of Perverting the Course of Justice that much easier to pursue.

Everything that Bexley council has said about this case from there being a disturbance at all to me and four others being ejected from the chamber by PCs Arthurs and Kelly has been a complete fabrication. Not a single witness to the events, councillor, council officer or public has supported Bacon’s story, not even her troughing husband. The sole accurate report was the leaked internal memo, probably written by Director Paul Moore, which merely said “an individual seeking to record, without the permission of the Chairman” was asked to leave the meeting.

News ShopperThe probability is that Will Tuckley is not concerned about Mick’s allegations because he will have done exactly what he did in the Craske case. Get hold of his friends in Arnsberg Way and tell them they had better fix it for him. Why else would two “jovial bobbies” suddenly claim that the doorman was with them when they spoke to five members of the public in the council chamber when he most certainly was not.

Given the corruption that goes to the very top of the Metropolitan Police - do I have to mention my Daniel Morgan connections again - they know they have a good chance of getting away with it.

The PCs new claim that five people refused the doorman’s request to leave and they had to kick them out of the building is a 100% total lie. They were very pleasant to everyone present at the time and merely asked what they were going to do next. The police officers didn’t even speak to Nick Dowling who caused the adjournment in the first place.

How could PCs Arthurs and Kelly be so stupid when all the evidence is against them and according to Mick, the maximum penalty for a police officer making such false statements is two years in jail? Former police Inspector Mick Barnbrook says that senior officers have their ways of dealing with outbreaks of honesty and integrity among the ranks but is the lying Cheryl Bacon really worth that much?

Index to related blogs and documents.


19 June (Part 1) - Harrow Inn or out?

Harrow Inn Its five years since the Harrow Inn at the foot of Knee Hill was demolished and development plans have come and gone before, but a new one has been recently submitted. This time it is for 34 flats, slightly fewer than the last application.

The application is numbered 14/00367/FULM - click to view it.

I had hoped to provide more details but as one has come to expect from Bexley council’s appalling website, when I registered to view more submitting name, address, email, password etc. I was sent a confirmation email complete with registration link.

When I clicked it the site advised successful registration and took me back to the Home page compelling navigation back to the planning portal which repeatedly refused to let me in. Absolutely typical of Bexley council’s rubbish website in my experience. However I did manage to extract the image below.

So far there have been no comments from the public, not surprising when there are no notices on the site and no advice to the one nearby resident I have so far been able to check out.



18 June (Part 2) - Crossrail speeding up

Crossrail Crossrail CrossrailHaving heard that the layout of the track west of Eynsham Drive was more interesting than I could see from there I ventured deep into darkest Plumstead and stood on the ramshackle foot bridge at the end of Church Manorway (not to be confused with its namesake in Erith).

The dilapidated bridge is obviously going to be replaced by a wheelchair accessible concrete structure. The track layout provided no surprises. It would appear that from just a little east of that footbridge the London bound North Kent line will resume its original alignment and the extra tracks will from that point to the tunnel portal be laid on the northerly (Abbey Wood bound) side. Certainly what can be seen of the new footbridge would suggest as much.

Trains on the new track were belting through at a fair old lick and sure enough a trip down to the Bostall Manorway footbridge showed that the speed limit has been raised from 20 m.p.h. to 50.


18 June (Part 1) - It’s déjà vu all over again

Cut councillorsIt’s not only the question of parking charges that come up every four years, there’s the question of the total paid out in councillors’ allowances too.

Four years ago councillor leader Teresa O’Neill began to tease us with the prospect of reducing the number of councillors from 63 to 42 thereby saving nearly a million pounds over an elected term. Naturally she did sweet FA about it.

Then this year the Conservatives made the same tired old promise to work towards a reduction in their election leaflets. I suppose some suckers fell for it and the Tories got a few more votes.

Election promise
The chances of anything coming of that empty promise are slim, if that word can be used in connection with our dear leader. In fact only three months ago she got pretty close to saying so herself. The most relevant bit begins at 1m:29s.

It would, the leader says, be disingenuous to expect savings to come from a reduction in the number of councillors. Well not if she had done what was expected four years ago it wouldn’t.

It’ll be the same old story in another four years. Voting unanimously for two paid Vice-Chairmen per scrutiny committee proves the Tories’ addiction to troughing.


17 June (Part 2) - It’s the cuts stupid

TweetIf you live in the deprived North West corner of Bexley one of the things you have to get used to is no Refuse Recycling Centre. If you need to get rid of something that won’t go in the bin you have the choice of going as far east as you can without being in Dartford, or as far south without crossing the border with Bromley and the cost in time and fuel rarely makes that wothwhile. Is it any wonder that the area is blighted by flytippers? In the whole of my 27 years living in Bexley I have not once been to either of their recycling centres.

I went to Bromley’s once (with a Bromley residents rubbish) and wasn’t asked for any ID but Greenwich council which has a dump in Abbey Wood are wise to such things. Personally I find that everything goes in the wheelie bin if you chop it up small enough.

But in two weeks time Sidcup residents will know what it is like to live in Abbey Wood, on Wednesdays anyway. From that day the Footscray dump will operate a six day week. It is part of the budgetary cuts recently agreed in council with which you apparently wholeheartedly agreed.

£50,000 chopped off the recycling budget, more than enough to spend on unnecessary extra councillor allowances. Less rubbish pays for more rubbish.


17 June (Part 1) - Parking charges to be increased again

ConsultationBexley council set up a single trestle table in Bexleyheath on 22nd September 2012 to consult shoppers hurrying by about parking in the borough. Similar low key events were held in Crayford, Erith, Sidcup and Welling and either there or on line a total of 646 people had their say. Nicholas Dowling wrote a fulsome report on the subject.

His report is lengthy but worth a read, highlighting as it does the ignorance of the parking staff and the misinformation being passed out to the public. I had half forgotten it but last week a copy of Bexley’s Press Release on their Draft Parking Strategy was brought to my attention by one of my council sources. The link to the relevant document was broken which delayed comment but a copy is now available on the council’s website enabling a first look at it. It is a massive 24 pages and crammed full of information, a lot of it irrelevant in that it covers ideas which will not be pursued.

The original 2012 consultation paper was illustrated with a photograph of Bexleyheath Sainsbury’s car park which was presumably meant to illustrate the council’s suggestion that it should get out of the off-street parking business and hand it to private enterprise as it has with most other services. However this idea does not make it through to the final proposals.

The proposal which 24 pages are supposed to hide, is that charges, already generally higher in Bexley than elsewhere in South East London (you didn’t fall for the electoral lies did you?), are set to rise again. You get to the 94th paragraph out of 123 before the question of charges crops up.

The Tories always jack up parking charges immediately after an election so no surprise there. Residents’ Permits and Season Tickets will probably remain at their present unjustifiably high level.

There is no reference to any free very short term parking period that was touted in election leaflets and by the leader herself at the Boris Johnson Roadshow in July 2011.

You have until the 17th July to read the proposals and make comments. There may be a lot of minor fiddling around the edges such as a drift towards more short stay spaces and fewer long, and a universal season ticket in addition to Car Park specific tickets but they cannot hide the fact that two years of consultation will result in more of the same; higher charges and more hardship for local businesses who will see more of their trade migrating to Bluewater. Plus ça change.


16 June (Part 3) - Bexley council isn’t straight, neither is the line from Abbey Wood any more

Today has taught me that blogging about Crossrail attracts more readers than blogging about police or council corruption; well I suppose one tells readers something new and the other something they knew already. So here is more of the same, trains traversing the new Abbey Wood to Plumstead track on Day 1 of operation.

The first four photographs are of the same section of track photographed yesterday. viz. From the Bostall Manorway footbridge looking in a westerly direction towards Plumstead.

The remainder were taken from Eynsham Drive, photos 5 to 10 towards Abbey Wood, 11 and 12 towards Plumstead. There is a 20 m.p.h. speed limit at present.

Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail

Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail

Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail


16 June (Part 2) - What a tangled web these liars weave

Councillor Cheryl Bacon’s decision to put a public meeting, in her own words, into Closed Session was ill advised; it was also illegal, not that most people would be overly concerned by such a transgression. Later realising what she had done she should perhaps have apologised. If she had it would be long forgotten. Instead she decided to rewrite history by inventing a story to cover her mistake.

Bexley TimesOn the evening in question Cheryl’s husband Gareth Bacon told Nicholas Dowling he would be ejected if he attempted to record a council meeting and Cheryl Bacon spoke only to Nicholas, no one else.

The next day the Bexley Times reported Nicholas Dowling’s recording attempt and Bexley council’s threat to eject him. In the early days no one realised that Bacon would decide to lie for Britain rather than do nothing or say sorry and the significance of accusing only Nicholas of creating a disturbance was overlooked.

The report in the Bexley Times (see extract above) only mentioned one resident. The council issued official advice to all councillors on how to react to any repeat of 19th June’s events. It specifically referred to “some disruption by an individual seeking to record”.

News ShopperOn 24th June the News Shopper reported that “a member of the public was asked to leave the meeting on June 19”.

On 7th July 2014 former deputy council leader Colin Campbell went on TV to lie about Nicholas shoving a microphone within six inches of Bacon’s nose. The News Shopper reported that Campbell referred several times to Nicholas Dowling and (singular) “a member of the public”.

At some unspecified date councillor Cheryl Bacon made a statement which she failed to sign to the effect that half a dozen members of the public were creating a disturbance in the council chamber. This she had to do because it is the only legal excuse for her decision. Several councillors subsequently confirmed in writing that Cheryl Bacon’s statement was a tissue of lies.

Councillor Stefano Borella confirmed in a statement that only Mr. Dowling was threatened with ejection. Councillor Borella subsequently stated that the version of his statement which Bexley council produced did not reflect what he said. He has since confirmed that the references to a group of people making a nuisance of themselves was not true. Nearly everyone present sat and said nothing throughout the procedings.

Members of the publicA statement attributed to the doorkeeper Mal Chivers was produced much later than the other statements after it became clear that Bacon’s lies were going to require a lot more support. It contradicted the earlier statements because of that need to implicate everyone present at the meeting in a disturbance, a disturbance which several councillors have confirmed did not extend beyond Nicholas Dowling seeking permission to record the meeting in a manner said to be “not aggressive’.

The statement attributed to Mr. Chivers was so far removed from the truth that Mr. Barnbrook and I asked him face to face what he asked the police to do. He said it was “to eject Nick Dowling of course". When he was shown ‘his’ statement he at first denied any knowledge of it, then became rather evasive. Mick Barnbrook tried to settle the matter by asking the police for a copy of their Computer Aided Despatch, but they refused to let him see it, not in the public interest apparently. You can guess why that might be.

Since the two police officers who attended seemed to be perfectly decent individuals; I referred to them next day as jovial Bonkers readers, not as ruffians who had ejected us from the council meeting as I most certainly would have if there was any suggestion of unnecessary officiousness, Mr. Barnbrook asked if they could provide a statement of what they were required to do. It has taken a very long time to get it.

Chief Inspector Ian Broadbridge of Bexley police wrote to Mick last week as follows…

I can confirm I have statements with declaration in accordance with the Criminal Procedures Rules, Criminal Justice Act and Magistrates Courts Act signed by PC Kelly, Arthurs and Mal Chivers on the 22nd March, 2nd April and 13th May 2014 respectively. All statements support the attendance note of Mal Chivers (A copy of which you have in your possession), of the incident in the Council chamber on the 19th June 2014 (sic).

The Chief Inspector specifically says that the two PCs were asked to eject five or six males from the council chamber. This statement is designed to protect the lying Cheryl Bacon. It does not make sense in the light of newspaper reports at the time, the council's own document written the day after the incident, the police’s own statement to the press, several statements by honest councillors and the blogs published here within hours of the incident. Mr. Barnbrook is right now constructing his allegation of Misconduct in Public Office which he will send to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. At a public meeting I heard CI Broadbridge say that he was within two years of retirement and was hoping for an uneventful exit. He isn’t going to get one now is he?

For reasons that have not been covered today, Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling will be similarly accused of Misconduct. He joins his predecessors Stringer and Olisa.

Just for the record, Chief Executive Will Tuckley has not yet responded to the letter dated 17th April which informs him of the willingness of several councillors to speak the truth. i.e. that Cheryl Bacon’s account of what happened in the council chamber on 19th June 2013 was nothing like the truth. Councillor Cheryl Bacon lied. Does anyone believe otherwise?

Index to related blogs and documents.


16 June (Part 1) - Crossrail takes another step forward

I am hoping not to miss the end house in Florence Road being demolished to make way for the North Kent line which will need to be diverted to the south. There has as you can see been some progress there over the last few weeks. Further along the line towards Plumstead very obvious progress has been made and from today ‘up’ trains will be diverted on to newly laid track.

Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail

Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail

There were no trains running through Abbey Wood over the past weekend and a large number of workers have been very busy.

If you take a look at From The Murky Depths, a blog mainly about Greenwich and Lewisham but allowing itself to stray beyond on occasions, you will find a more comprehensive report on Crossrail which reveals the failure by both Greenwich and Bexley councils to take full advantage of the new railway line.


15 June - Sidcup edges its way back to sanity

The fortnightly trip to Sidcup to see if the regeneration looks like being completed on time gave some small cause for optimism. The footpath outside Sidcup & Co. is less of a mess than two weeks ago and whilst Hadlow Road is still not finished the similar reconstruction at Hatherley Road is coming along at a far more satisfactory pace.

Sidcup Sidcup Sidcup Sidcup

SidcupThe short section of Sidcup High Street running between Hadlow Road and The Black Horse has been returned to two way working and some of the new shop fronts are quite attractive.

The two above have a nice clean and simple look to them that appeals to my eye. Some are a bit too cluttered for my taste.


14 June - Will Tuckley outclassed by plaited doll

John Watson, a regular at council meetings, sat next to me last Wednesday and he has shown me the subsequent correspondence between himself and Mr. Easton, Bexley’s Head of Member Services. It says that the council is not providing a wi-fi connection for public use in the council chamber. This does not quite accord with what the News Shopper’s reporter said to me on the night which was, unless I am very much mistaken, that Mr. Easton was apologetic and disappointed that it was the one thing not working properly for the inaugural meeting.

John failed to get a mobile signal on either of his two devices even when he went out into the reception area. After being stuck in a hospital ward for long periods two months ago unable to send messages to the outside world I bought a cheap mobile phone for myself; I can confirm that it too failed to find any signal within the Civic Offices.

Whilst my phone is allegedly ‘Smart’ I am not sure I would be smart enough to ‘Live Tweet’ from the meeting but it would appear that it is all academic anyway, democracy and transparency can only be allowed to go so far. Allowing an unsupervised camera to be placed where there is no clear line of sight to anything interesting is the limit for ‘citizen journalists’ or even professional journalists, in fortress Bexley.

The webcast is a massive step forward but it can be strictly controlled. Correspondence suggests it was widely watched by Bonkers readers but whether that will advance the council’s dubious reputation remains to be seen.

TuckleyWell I did actually sit through the whole of the webcast. The highlight was the young girl plaiting her doll’s hair. The final result was approved by her grandparents (?) sitting by her side.

It was also noticeable how warm it was by people waving papers to cool themselves down and the lady taking off her jacket. Did I catch a glimpse of you in the top right hand corner whilst a councillor was speaking?

What justification does Will Tuckley have to look a twat wearing a wig and gown? Thought the chamber looked like a church hall with a few tables and expensive chairs placed around. Nice also to be able to see the parked cars.

Err, yes, I am visible in a few shots. Should I object?

I think Will Tuckley wears a wig to signify that he is legally responsible for everything Bexley council does. Criminal and otherwise.


13 June - Teresa thieves taxpayers’ tithe for non-jobs

Mayor WindowThe formal part of Bexley’s council meeting didn’t take long because Teresa O’Neil’s undemocratic scheming had been mapped out well in advance.

However before that could be rubber stamped the council had to formally elect Teresa as leader but that proposal was interrupted by Stefano Borella (Labour) with an amendment which was not made available to members of the public. However the gist of it was that Labour members be appointed to the top jobs. He said, among other things, that this would ensure the end of children being put at risk and the northern parts of the borough being neglected.

He singled out former councillor and cabinet member Chris Taylor for special attention because of his disgraceful boast that Bexley pays less for its care services than any other borough. (47 seconds into this recording.)

Needless to say this went down like a lead balloon with the chief balloon who said she thought she was living in “a superland” whatever that might mean. I think she failed to realise that the new opposition faces are less likely to take things lying down, as tended to be the case in recent years. The blue rinsed sheep naturally kicked out Borella’s idea and voted for no change at the top. Councillor Gareth Bacon picked up the deputy’s job while quietly pocketing another seventeen grand.

The main attack on democracy for the new session is the reduction in the number of scrutiny committees, down from seven to three which has the unfortunate consequence so far as the money grabbers are concerned of robbing four of them of £8,802 a year. How will the leader ensure undying loyalty if she cannot cross their palms with a surfeit of silver? She had thought of that.

For the first time ever, committee vice-chairman are to be paid. Only £3,000 mind, which might still reduce the takings at the Tory club bars. She had thought of that too.

The three scrutiny committees are to be given two vice-chairman at three grand each. But that is still a few thousand short of what was paid out in the past, so Teresa had concocted another wheeze. Each committee would be allowed to hand out £1,500 a year to any sub-group it might set up. Not quite as generous a payroll vote as before, but close. And except to curry favours, totally unnecessary

Lesnes Abbey councillor Danny Hackett took the lead role in opposing O’Neill’s decision to reduce scrutiny of her decisions and hand over an unnecessary £22,500 to help keep the troops in order but his pleas fell on deaf ears. Teresa said that the recent election had democratically given her carte blanche to do what she wanted, or words to that effect.

Labour leader Alan Deadman, reinforced Danny’s comments with his own expression of displeasure at scrutiny opportunities being halved.

It then became apparent that O’Neill had thumbed her nose at any hope that she intended to run an honest council over the next four years when the Chief Executive announced the names of those who would chair committees other than scrutiny and we discovered that that monumental liar of a councillor, Cheryl Bacon, is to chair the Code of Conduct Committee.

UKIPThe names of the councillors who are to collect the rewards for being appointed to outside bodies were put up for approval but not before the Labour group had put forward an amendment, instantly dismissed of course.

Councillor Deadman suggested that it would make more sense if the calendar of meetings put scrutiny meetings immediately after cabinet meetings rather than the other way around, but sensible though his suggestion might be, every Conservative voted against it.

It was difficult to see how UKIP voted on any issue. There was certainly no consistency; they voted with the Tories, they voted against, they abstained; not just as a group but independently of each other.

Mayor Howard Marriner’s style could be described as faltering but it must be more than a little nerve-racking and no one would envy his robes given the lamentable state of the chamber’s air-conditioning . There were no calamities or outbursts of bad temper which marred his predecessor’s performance on occasions. In mariner’s lingo, steady as she goes.


12 June (Part 2) - Sharon Massey, “the best mayor I could be”

Mayor MayorSo mayor Sharon Massey got through her year with barely a bad word written about her (she seems to disagree) which is quite an achievement. It would have been a dull year if her activities did not extend beyond charity events and church parades but fortunately the party girl within could not be entirely suppressed and her penchant for booze and strippers brightened up our lives. The Mobile Bar Hire van parked outside the chamber (Photo 3) summed up the mayoral year 2013/14 beautifully.

This being Bexley the occasion had to be marked not only by booze but by much back slapping and just as with her entrance a year ago it was led by councillor John Waters with personal anecdotes verging on the indiscreet.

Mayor MayorIn another repeat of 2013, the Labour party proposed councillor Gill MacDonald for mayor. I am inclined to think that councillor MacDonald is well qualified to be mayor; none of them over the past four years has ever spoken a word to me, not even a grudging ‘Good evening’. Gill MacDonald is the only Labour councillor to have followed their example.

Needless to say every Conservative voted against her as did two of the UKIPpers and councillor Howard Marriner was duly elected. Howard Marriner has not in my experience been a high profile councillor and apart from allegedly barricading the doors of councillor Cheryl Bacon’s illegal Closed Session meeting appears to be a decent enough chap. He chose councillor Ross Downing as his deputy.

The outgoing mayor had to make a speech, not one many would call a gracious speech because apart from telling us what a wonderful time she had and how she enjoyed putting down former councillor Munir Malik as if he was a naughty schoolboy she was uncomplimentary about the press and web coverage she had received. Did she really expect her dalliance with male strippers at an unlicenced venue owned by her deputy to pass unnoticed?

You may search the council’s webcast archive to hear the whole of councillor Massey’s speech in context or alternatively listen to this 46 second extract.

Sharon Massey may not always have been enamoured of what was written about her but she was never shy when it came to the news media both traditional and otherwise. She was instrumental in dragging Bexley council towards the 21st century by embracing Twitter and Facebook and accepted photography in the chamber before it had been formally approved by council, which marked her out as different to the various tyrants who preceded her. I can’t quite imagine Howard Marriner on Twitter but neither can I imagine Howard regressing to the bad old ways of mayors Val Clark and Alan Downing. On the other hand those figures of fun provided a very easy target for ridicule. Every cloud has a silver lining.


12 June (Part 1) - What do you get for forty two million?

Civic Offices Civic OfficesWell there can’t be much doubt that 2 Watling Street is all very smart and sparkling and new and it must be a very much nicer place to work in than the old building which I cannot imagine was smart or sparkling even when it was new. Drab is the word that comes to mind.

Last night saw the first council meeting to be held in the new premises and there were very many more people there than is the norm for a council meeting. It wasn’t that Bexley people had taken a sudden interest in politics, the numbers were swollen by former councillors and friends and relations of politicians.

A bar had been installed for those councillors who can’t go long without a drink and almost needless to say it was provided by the Sandhu brothers, one of whom, Avtar, is or maybe was until a day or two ago, Conservative mayor of Dartford. A job that probably wasn’t put out to tender.

Civic Offices Council Chamber The barriers were very sensibly left open and I was advised that a table had been provided for my use. On Day 1 I wasn’t going to argue but it had been carefully placed where one could see very little of the proceedings. The backs of some Conservatives, the UKIP and Labour contingent if one stood to speak and of the top table, nothing at all. The appointed table is at the extreme left foreground in Photo 4.

The seating provided for the public appeared to be considerably less than it was, five rows of fewer than 20 chairs in each behind me and a few more at the opposite end of the room. There may well have been 180 people in the chamber but whatever the true number might have been, it overwhelmed the air conditioning system.

I could see what appeared to be a wireless access point (wi-fi) above the door in Photo 3 but no one I spoke to, including Tim MacFarlane, the News Shopper reporter, had managed to get a connection and there was no mobile phone signal at all inside the chamber, not on the three networks I checked anyway.

There was a camera with pan, tilt, zoom facilities in each corner, so placed that most members of the public were excluded from view and whilst the system would appear to be ingenious it was not in practice wholly satisfactory.

The appropriate camera appeared to be activated by a microphone being switched on which promptly put the speaker in frame. When the microphone was off the video system reverted to a default shot which sometimes lasted only a fraction of a second. The weakness is that councillors have never been good at switching on microphones. Meeting chairmen have been known to support councillors who do not see the need to switch on their microphone.

When no one is speaking the result can be a silent shot. Having said that, the acoustics of the new chamber were probably a little better than the old one and given that the audio visual system is new and may require a little fine tuning it was a decent enough beginning, a far cry from when councillor Cheryl Bacon called the police when Nicholas Dowling produced a broken Dictaphone from his pocket.

The availability of the very well indexed webcast archive is likely to change the nature of meeting reports on Bonkers, on the other hand the statistics suggest that readers spend four or five minutes reading the summary and watching the video archive will take an hour or two.

Yesterday’s meeting was a game of two halves, the ceremonial and the business and each will get the usual coverage here in due course.


11 June - Parroting platitudinous propaganda. Residents rubbished

Leitch Footpath The Agenda for the first meeting of the new council tonight suggests it will be an incredibly boring affair and likely to drive away all but the most masochistic of web viewers (†) very quickly indeed. For regular attendees the name of the game will be sorting the newly elected wheat from the chaff. Will there be a new contender for the prized position of village idiot? Will any lady dare compete with Maxine Fothergill’s extravagant hairstyles, can anyone be more obnoxious than Linda Bailey, who will crawl lowest and longest to be leader’s pet? Today’s News Shopper letters page offers a clue.

Rob Leitch, the new man in Sidcup has staked an early claim to be the Conservatives’ obedient but mindless propagandist. He makes a fine job of belittling his electors who were featured in the paper two weeks ago. According to Rob, eight months of total disruption in and around Sidcup is all going to be worth it because 34 shops have swapped their old but serviceable signs with new ones and the perfectly good footpaths are being replaced by more perfectly good footpaths. Those dramatic changes are going to attract more high-end retailers apparently. Was that really the best he could come up with?

† If you follow the link from Bexley council’s webcasting portal to ‘webcasts’ you may view Brighton and Hove Council’s webcasts. Clever stuff. Will it be all right on the night?

Presumably the Brighton link will be removed before this evening, but above is the code as it exists right now.


9 June - Council drip believes in drip drip

Bellegrove Road Bellegrove Road Welling WayNot a week goes by without a cash strapped Bexley council attacking residents’ pockets. Sometimes it is withdrawal of a service or benefit like opting out of the Open House Weekend but their favourite is the steady advance of parking restrictions and with it the opportunity to levy charges and issue fines.

Last week Bexley council announced the installation of more double yellow lines in 22 roads across the borough and single yellow lines in seven more.

FrizoniPresumably Mike Frizoni who is a Deputy Director in the ironically tagged Department of Wellbeing has been charged with raising as much of his £130,998 salary and pension package from motorists as possible. Bellegrove Road, Welling and Welling Way (the wide road that runs from Bellegrove Road to Rochester Way) have been mercifully free of parking restrictions, but not any more. Frizoni has spoken.

First he marked out parking bays along the entire length of the roads (Photo 1) , then he realised that encouraging parking across dropped kerbs was not too clever (Photo 2) and one can only guess that appropriate signage will go up next. Finally it will be added to the parking gestapo’s itinery. Eventually residents will pay the stealth tax.

Note: Pictures and story from a Welling reader.


7 June - The mayor and other mares

Craske Bailey Clark O'NeillIf they were looking for decent weather they should have gone yesterday but perhaps Ladies’ Day would not have been appropriate for our Bexley Babes, so it’s a rainy Derby Day for them.

Presumably the mayor will be there propping up a bar wondering how much longer it will be before the strippers arrive. Linda Bailey will be putting money on an outsider that will come in months behind schedule. Val Clark will be frightening the horses and Teresa O’Neill most likely tussling with a turnstile. Perhaps Peter Craske will be looking for an accumulator that will fill the council’s £40 million black hole; oh no, forget that; he’s on the bookies side isn’t he?

Note: Yes Mr. E. this is all your fault.


6 June - It’s going to be a boring night

The period between the election and the first council meeting provides no significant news although various things go on behind closed doors; there’s the new set of councillor mugshots for a start!

Alan Deadman Abena Oppong-AsareThe Labour party elected Alan Deadman as their leader and newcomer Abena Oppong-Asare is to be his deputy. The Cons have landed themselves with Teresa O’Neill again and Gareth Bacon has grabbed another £4,398 from the public purse by getting himself the deputy’s job.

Given their emphasis on independent thinking I’m surprised the three UKIPpers have elected a leader, but they have. He is Colin McGannon, deputised by Chris Beazley. Probably they will take over a broom cupboard for an office because the pressure on space in the new Civic Offices already puts it at a premium. It was not designed with more than two political parties in mind and there is no office space available for UKIP. You can be sure that they will be given a difficult time and now that The Great Dictator has decreed that opposition councillors may only ask questions in proportion to their numbers at council meetings you can expect UKIP to be squeezed out altogether with their representation at under 5%. We shall see, or possibly not…

It has been decreed that the public is to be deterred from attending council meetings in future by being required to sign in and carry a pass if they wish to enter the council chamber. I wonder how that will work when something contentious is on the agenda and attracts 50 or so people, all showing up five minutes before the start, but maybe the council has an answer for that too…

They are going to webcast the meeting. Wow, we have come a long way since Cheryl Bacon was prepared to break the law - and did - to keep her voice off the record. The estimate was that webcasting would cost £20,000 a year to maintain such a service, a service that no one at all asked for and which after an initial flurry of interest will be forgotten by almost everybody. But Bexley cannot afford the small subscription to Open House Weekend.

The council meeting is going to be very boring, all housekeeping stuff for the coming year, fixing their allowance, organising their committees, approving the clamp down on questions; all that sort of thing. No questions from the public and none from Teresa’s flock designed to boost the Tory’s election chances.

In other council news - of a sort - I received an email which suggested that Mark Charters was God’s Gift to Bexley and the Isle of Man; oh you may as well read it yourself…

Your comments on Mark Charters are incorrect. Mark is one of the good guys who cares about the people receiving services in Bexley. He has been battling the management board and mad politicians to try and keep our services going. That's why they were keen for him to leave. I for one, as a resident of Bexley would like to see more people like him running the council. I hope you put this on your site. The children you quote were harmed by their parents, not social services.

Mark ChartersThe writer is wrong to say the earlier comments were mine; they came in one case from another anonymous source, just like him, and another source which I could guess at; however I don’t know Mark Charters at all for he has never said a word at any meeting I have attended. A search across Bonkers reveals that until this week his name popped up only in connection with his generous salary.

As for the children being harmed by their parents, well yes, but I do have a whole load of papers from the Rhys Lawrie case and the neglect by Bexley council is all too obvious. On the other hand the council officers named in those papers and implicated in that disaster extend only to Mark Charters’ deputy. Make of that what you will.

The citizens of the Isle of Man appear to be apprehensive.


5 June - Bexley council’s right wing looks left

Civic Offices Civic Offices Civic OfficesThe new Civic Offices were refurbished by Mace, the same company that built the Shard at London Bridge and one can only hope that their attention to detail there was greater than in Watling Street. At the far right of the building, the Crayford side, you will find the vehicle entrance and security gate.

Naturally the gate is automated with video surveillance and a button to call for attention. The sophistication even extends to buttons at two levels, one suitable for the cab height of large lorries and another for car drivers and white van man.

Do you see anything wrong with that idea? Look carefully.

Yes it is on the wrong side of the road.

It’s mind boggling that so many Mace and council building inspectors failed to notice something so obviously wrong. It must be down to all those workers more used to left hand drive who are employed.

Note: I was alerted to this by someone whose reply address bounced my thanks back.


4 June - All fine now? Only if you are easily satisfied

OFSTEDTwo years ago OFSTED branded Bexley’s children’s services inadequate and £5·2 million has been spent trying to improve matters.

At the last council meeting on 30th April leader Teresa O’Neill and then Cabinet Member for Children’s Services Katie Perrior dropped enormous hints that the next OFSTED report due to be published after the election would be all smiles for Bexley council and Ms. Perrior could leave her post in a blaze of glory and sure enough on Page 5 of their paper edition dated 28th May 2014 the News Shopper reported that Will Tuckley was dishing out accolades to staff because things were much better. (The paper’s report does not appear to be available on line, hence the brief extract here.)

Tuckley has chosen his words extremely carefully, he hasn’t lied in Bexley council’s traditional way but he has sought to mislead the populace into thinking things are pretty good now and everyone concerned deserves their inflated salaries. In reality OFSTED reported that Bexley was still “not yet good” and “required improvement”. Its Local Children’s Safeguarding Board (LCSB) was branded “Inadequate”.

The OFSTED report is not without references to improvement but everything is qualified by caution, usually something about there still being a long way to go to get children’s services up to standard. Staff turn over has been far too high and then a few days ago we saw Director Mark Charters buzzing off to the Isle of Man.

Remove Will’s rose tinted spectacles and the overwhelmingly negativity of OFSTED’s report comes over loud and clear. There is no necessity to search out OFSTED’s misgivings they tumble from their report in almost every paragraph, here’s a taster from their 38 pages.

• The Local Safeguarding Children’s Board has not effectively undertaken its primary role
• The LCSB has a draft improvement plan but it has not had any impact
• There is little evidence that the learning from the first audit was effectively used
• Leadership, management and governance all require improvement
• Progress since 2012 when Bexley was judged inadequate has been very slow
• Management is inconsistent and a small number of children have been left at potential risk
• The quality of decision making by managers needs to improve
• Managers in care services do not always audit the work done by social workers
• Managers do not consistently record how long assessments should take and cannot identify any undue delay
• The quality of decision making is inconsistent and not always made at an appropriate level
• Serious incidents failed to result in any serious case reviews
• The sexual exploitation plan has been slow to be put into practice
• Parents, carers and organisations said they did not get a good service from Bexley
• When children leave care, plans to help them find employment are not good enough
• 37% of care leavers were not in suitable education, training or employment
• Inspectors said that Bexley’s many services are not working well together
• Services to children who need help require improvement
• Children’s ‘looked after’ services require improvement
• Adoption services require improvement
• Plans made with partner organisations need to be better
• Sometimes help is not provided where abuse is not found but families still need support
• The views of young people are not always sought
• Electronic case records are frequently incomplete
• Care proceedings take 37 weeks when the national target is 26 weeks
• Children were unhappy about the frequent change of social worker

Bexley council so often seems to operate on a system of smoke and mirrors. Sometimes of course they simply lie. Listen to leading councillors or read council press releases and you will rarely learn the truth. I don’t usually criticise the local press, they have to work at high speed and probably on an inadequate budget but swallowing Bexley council’s press releases wholesale without any checking is likely to put a whole load of codswallop into the public domain. It certainly has on this occasion.


3 June - Romanians in Bexley

The leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, said that when he took the train from Charing Cross to Grove Park he heard little but foreign tongues and I’d be surprised if most of us haven’t had similar journeys. When a mischievous left leaning radio presenter extracted the comment from Mr. Farage that he wouldn’t be happy to live next door to Romanians, something he has since retracted, I thought he may have attended one of Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling’s meetings because he is always sounding off about the effect of Romanians on his burglary statistics.

FlagI suspect I am more qualified than any of them to say my piece about Romanian neighbours as I have had some for the past four or five years. For the pedants amongst you they live at No.9 and I live at No. 5 so they are not next door but pretty close.

To be honest I was not aware for many months that I had Romanian neighbours because the lady of the house speaks impeccable English without a trace of an accent. If she had not called out to her dog in her native tongue I might never have thought about her nationality. Only then did I notice that her equally fluent husband had a slight accent.

We are not especially close friends but as neighbours one couldn’t ask for better. They have a daughter of nearly three and I would guess her married parents are in their early thirties. I recently asked them what it was like being a Romanian in Bexley and an hour later I found myself deeply ashamed of what I learned about this borough.

The lady came to Britain because she had worked in Tunisia for a well known British company and they asked her to take up a position in their head office accounts department. She is close to fulfilling her ambition of becoming a Chartered Accountant and her husband is in regular employment too. Neither have ever drawn a penny in benefits yet they are often treated as outcasts.

When officialdom from Bexley council or the Health Service takes an interest in the Romanian child’s welfare they assume that the mother cannot speak English properly and therefore cannot be adequately caring for the daughter or preparing her for life in an English speaking country. I would back this Romanian to beat any racist Bexley council jobsworth in an English examination any day.

The police are no better. When a white English drug addict being housed nearby at public expense threatened to kill the Romanians Bexley council did nothing and the police sided with the drug addict. I heard about the threat to kill some time ago because another neighbour witnessed one such event. From memory the drug addict’s TV stopped working and the Romanian man was asked to fix it. He did his best but failed for which death was judged to be a suitable reward.

After such incidents became too common the Romanians started to record encounters with the drug addict and only then did the police behave in a more reasonable non-racist manner. A magistrate dished out a six month prison sentence.

My Romanian friend then expanded on her disenchantment with Bexley although it was only what everyone over the age of 50 already knows. The country has gone to the dogs.

People over aged 50 were, she said, generally polite and considerate but in her opinion a third generation underclass is being brought into the world by their ill educated barely civilised parents.

If her bi-lingual daughter is taken to a local park and makes the ‘mistake’ of speaking to her mother in Romanian as often as not other parents nearby will tell her to f*** off back to where she came from, with the occasional c word thrown in. The daughter is now taken to parks deep into Kent to avoid such encounters.

I was told that when teenagers join the toddlers in local parks knickerless girls could sometimes be seen displaying their wares to ogling boys and neither parents wanted their daughter exposed to that sort of thing. That didn’t come as a complete shock to me as a Sidcup reader told me a while ago that sexual favours have become a form of currency among her daughter’s teenaged peers. When a car owning older teenager gives a school girl a lift they aren’t asked to help with the cost of fuel any more.

The young (usually) women in the park not only tell the Romanian to eff off, they address their own children in the same way and allow them to run around unsupervised with “wet trousers and bogeys hanging from their noses and dirt under their uncut finger nails”. Almost needless to say the mothers are more interested in smoking and the occasional can of lager than their children. As a single man I am not allowed into playgrounds but similar behaviour may be seen at more or less any time in Bexleyheath Broadway.

When on one occasion an 18 month old baby was found screaming in fear and alone at the top of a climbing frame, my Romanian neighbour rescued her and was lucky to get away unscathed. I saw something very like that in the Bexleyheath shopping mall not long ago when a foul mouthed young woman berated an elderly lady who had helped a young child to its feet after falling heavily with no sign of anyone being in charge.

The Romanians are really scared about letting their daughter go to the local school where bad language and behaviour may be observed by anyone who walks by while the children are at play or leaving and have thought of going back to Romania where “the education is so much better”. My neighbours were speaking English by the age of eight, but they say they love the freedoms they find in England, comparing it favourably with several European countries, and are reluctant to give up what they have both worked for.

Politically their views are just as depressing. David Cameron is thoroughly disliked for being “arrogant and untrustworthy, just saying whatever he thinks is popular at the moment” and Miliband is dismissed as an irrelevance, but it is for Nigel Farage that they reserve their hatred.

Apparently he wants to expel all Romanians, thinks women should expect to be raped now and again, is a 21st century Adolph Hitler and a Belgian! Now it is true that I don’t have much time for newspapers and my television watching does not go beyond an occasional quick dip into the rolling news channels, but I am not aware that Nigel Farage has said anything remotely like that or anything to justify the Nazi tag, so I can only assume that the mud freely thrown about on social media by the more extreme, perhaps I should say unintelligent, politicians from all three main parties does have an impact. From my sample of two immigrants I would say it is causing severe racial tensions where none need exist. Personally I blame the mud slinging politicians and journalists as much if not more than the UKIP leader.

After being so forcibly told how some of the natives, council officials, the police and sluts in the park all behave towards immigrants I am pleased I have Romanians for neighbours rather than some of the alternatives but now I am thoroughly depressed by it all from being reminded of what I had begun to accept as the unfortunate norm. Thank goodness I am no longer young and trying to build a respectable family. If I was I would be trying to get away from this place.


2 June (Part 2) - Bexley is not a totally culture free zone but it is totally against free culture

TweetThe News Shopper eventually reported councillor Don Massey’s decision to extend his money saving wheezes (sacrificing the long established Howbury Friends, export the borough’s history to Bromley and bring down the curtain on the Danson Festival) to pulling out of Open House Weekend to save a sum of money almost exactly the same as that which the Massey household pockets each month from their generous taxpayer funded allowances. It was reported here three days earlier after Penny Duggan’s Tweet checked out correctly. However the report was somewhat light on detail.

Step forward Hugh Neal of Maggot Sandwich fame who got a lead on what the background might be. According to information he has been given or flushed out, it wasn’t just the fee that Open House charges to cover its publicity and administration costs that upset Don Massey, it was the thought that visitors might rush to Danson House and Hall Place to take advantage of free entrance and not come on chargeable days. Income might be affected.

He may be right. I have got into the habit of celebrating a family event each June by taking some of them to Hall Place and taking a meal in the excellent steak house. But it is far too expensive to take them all into Hall Place as well and if the car park ever becomes chargeable I shall take them somewhere else more welcoming.

29 of London’s boroughs are signed up to Open House and all of them must have judged that the loss of income on the day was outweighed by the many advantages. Some venues are never otherwise opened to the public and others will now lose out on the almost free publicity. In Bexley the council takes a short sighted and selfish view; all that matters here is freezing the council tax and maintaining voter ignorance which makes putting a cost cutting Philistine in charge of culture the absolutely right thing to do.

Note: Penny Duggan is Secretary of The Bexley Historical Society.


2 June (Part 1) - Plod plods around in circles, being difficult or perhaps stupid

I had two letters from the police during May relating to their failure to get to the bottom of how an obscene impersonation of myself came to be originated on councillor Peter Craske’s telephone line and the second of them has at last been answered.

Craske was not charged following what the police termed “political interference” and all he lost was his reputation and the £12,000 cabinet member allowance. Others were not so lucky. Former councillor Chris Taylor failed to gain a place on Bexley council because Bexley Action Group candidates took 2,104 votes from the Tories when they chose to attack Craske’s massive majority on an anti-corruption ticket. Taylor will not be happy and neither will Bexley police who have been placed relentlessly in the spotlight ever since.

The situation is rather complicated hence this brief summary…

Complaint 1
This relates to the first criminal investigation which was concluded on 23rd August 2011. Borough Commander Dave Stringer subsequently assured Elwyn Bryant (co-victim) and me that they had reopened the case and were determined to do a thorough job but nine months without any new information saw our patience wear a little thin, hence a belated complaint relating to the period up to August 2011.

Six months later Sergeant Michelle Gower of the Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) rejected the complaint even though she should have known (I discovered it more than a year later) that Bexley police closed the case despite one officer believing the source of the obscenities to be traceable. Sergeant Gower’s decision was referred to the IPPC for review along with a complaint that Gower was either incompetent or had been dishonestly influenced. The IPCC agreed that her investigation into the way the criminal investigation was handled was inadequate.

Complaint 2

Soon after the IPPC notified me of their decision, more evidence of political interference became available and it was sent to the IPCC on 3rd December 2012. Rather perversely, the IPCC said it was for legal reasons, that second bundle of evidence was sent to the DPS to be handled as a second separate complaint. The DPS promptly rejected it on an invented technicality but that potential set back was soon overcome.

Complaint 3

Finally my MP obtained some documents on my behalf that confirmed my view that the criminal investigation under former Borough Commander Dave Stringer was more than just incompetent and whilst his successor Victor Olisa may have begun his brief spell in Bexley with the best of intentions he was soon caught up in its culture. I am certain that the explanations he provided after closing the case for a second time were totally untrue and suspect he was deeply uncomfortable with the political interference in which he became a, possibly unwilling, partner. Nevertheless I alleged Misconduct in Public Office against both of them in a letter to the Commissioner dated 22nd January 2014. The IPCC acknowledged it in February 2014.

So now there are three separate Craske related cases floating around the Met. and they are busy blurring the IPCC imposed boundaries.

The first of the DPS’s May letters bearing the Compliant 1 reference number asked a fairly simple question relating to Complaint 2. I answered it almost immediately. The second May letter gave me pause for thought.

Obscene blogMy file of information has become quite fat but it is only a collection of letters and emails bounced between me and the police (Bexley council too in the early days) and redacted documents the police have seen fit to let me have. I have nothing to which the police do not have ready access and they have the advantage of the unexpurgated originals. So when they ask me to make statements of fact when I can only reasonably make suggestions, I am suspicious of their motives.

Why am I required to name the officers who were politically influenced? A Bexley Detective Sergeant who had read through what she described as one of Bexley’s biggest ever files saw political interference and gave it as the primary reason for the failure to bring anyone to book. The fact that she now denies saying it is immaterial. A proper investigation requires the DPS to carefully read the file and see if there is any substance to the allegation.

Elwyn and I know that was the conclusion drawn by the Sergeant in Bexley and we informed the IPCC of it. We expect the DPS to make appropriate checks or their conclusions are likely to go straight back to the IPCC for another review, although how one stops the police lying when they are allowed to investigate themselves I have yet to work out.

Similarly I’m asked who was responsible for delaying the search warrant. How would I know? The known events and the redacted documents show a delay, not who may have constructed the circumstances or given the order that led to it.

Are the police up to some form of trickery hoping I name the wrong officers so that any guilty party may escape notice or am I to assume that the police put only the most stupid or lazy officers behind desks fielding complaints? Why does the DPS appoint Constables to investigate allegations of Misconduct against Chief Superintendents? Won’t the fact that they might blight their own careers tend to influence the outcome?

My response to the two recent letters may be made available at some future date but I don’t feel it would be fair to do so before the DPS has a chance to respond.

There have been no developments on Complaint 3 since both the IPCC and the DPS contacted me last February. I suppose the outcome is likely to have to await the outcomes of Complaints 1 and 2.

Note: Experience suggests that there is always someone who believes these complaints might result in councillor Peter Craske being charged with an offence. They will not. They do not and cannot go beyond discovering if (as the evidence suggests) there is corruption within Bexley police and if so which officers were involved.


1 June (Part 2) - Good riddance?

Two email messages passed on some good news yesterday…
One included Will Tuckley’s message to staff…

Mr. Mark Charters, Director of Education and Social Care, London Borough of Bexley, has recently been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer for Health, Housing and Social Care for the Isle of Man Government. Mark’s last day will be 30 June, although he will be taking holiday from 6 June.

Mark joined the Council in September 2007 and he wishes to thank all of his colleagues for their hard work and commitment in his time at Bexley. We wish Mark well for the future. I will make an announcement in due course on the process for appointing Mark’s successor.

…and the other one sent the internal email with some additional comments…

Glad to see him go. He should have been sacked ages ago.

Obviously a popular man. Not sure it pleases me though, I’m going to have to change that site banner carousel now. Click the IoM image to look at the source web page.

How many abused children died unnoticed in Bexley during Charter’s time? Two wasn't it? Little Rhys Lawrie and Ndingeko Kunene.


1 June (Part 1) - Sidcup still suffering

Sidcup at seven o’clock this morning. If pedestrians actually follow the many instructions to cross the road they will do so about three times within 100 yards, sometimes the objective is to reach just one isolated shop. I suspect the owner‘s business must be well down.

Weatherspoon’s is doing a little better compared with two weeks ago but the Hadlow Road junction is still not finished.

Sidcup Sidcup Sidcup Sidcup

Sidcup Sidcup Sidcup Sidcup

Cannon CannonWhen this grand scheme is finished what will be get? Some shop facades will have been renewed which you might notice if you go around looking skywards. If you go around looking skywards you will trip over some stainless steel bollards or walk into a sapling.

Three, maybe more, road junctions will look like Bexleyheath’s Broadway with lots of fancy blocks with no kerbs and presumably no yellow lines to denote where parking might not be penalty free and some perfectly good modern block paving will have been replaced by perfectly good modern block paving.

Bexley council may tell you everything is funded by Transport for London but similar things go on right across London so it is disingenuous to suggest Bexley taxpayers are not having to fork out. Is it any wonder that our council tax rate is 24th worst in London when so much waste is the norm?

The final two images show Sidcup High Street paving new and old and my own drive before and after a good wash. I really must get out there and finish it while the sun shines and before Thames Water puts me on a meter.


News and Comment June 2014

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