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News and Comment June 2024

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30 June - The nation is restless

TelegraphThis Sunday Telegraph headline (click image for slightly larger version) is probably true, everyone seems to know it but still the polls go Starmer’s way.

I’m not sure that I care very much if they do which is a measure of how much I despise Sunak. Back stabber to two PMs and utterly useless as one himself.

I see a malevolent attraction to Labour in power. It might be schadenfreude style fun to hear the cries of anguish as ordinary people cry out desperately as they face the costs of Net Zero and the country is left a desert with rich people and entrepreneurs rushing from our shores while hordes of engineers and rocket scientists are welcomed to our beaches with open arms and cheque books.

Maybe the fight back has begun already, Social Media sources would have you believe that it has.

Have you seen the number of followers drawn to Reform UK locally in just a few short weeks?

See for yourself below. Level pegging or even overtaking the numbers built up over years by the established local politicians.

Something is afoot. Remember the Scottish referendum and Brexit? Pollsters are not always right.

I have something of a dilemma, my Reform UK candidate is a former Kent Policeman (see image below) and I have a whole file of papers to prove that they can be very corrupt. Who isnְ’t these days?

Maybe he was one of the good ones. My file reveals that there was one and he got a good telling off for his honesty.

Labour Reform

Bexleyheath and Crayford Candidates.

Conservatives Reform

Old Bexley and Sidcup.

Reform

 

29 June (Part 2) - A bunch of amateurs

The new election leaflets are now all on-line in the usual place. It can be tricky to get a consistent format across the board but basically each party’s title links to a sub-Index from which specific leaflets may be chosen - except where there is only one, when the Index is bypassed. (I will be checking for consistency again later.)

There may not be a lot of point reading the Labour and Reform leaflets because they do no more than trot out the national party line. Louie French (Conservative) has made a valiant effort to be different and concentrate on local things and so to a lesser extent has the tongue-twisting Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett for the Liberal Democrats. His Social Media pages reveal that he very considerately asks you to refer to him as They.

Illegal flypostingWhilst nothing happens in Erith & Thamesmead electioneering goes on apace elsewhere.

A friend who has been involved with a Reform campaign tells me that it is an absolute shambles because unlike the other parties they have no historical database to fall back on. The big parties will be going around ensuring that their core vote is ready to turn out and Reform hasn’t a clue who their core vote is and door stepping is therefore not for them.

My own ‘door stepping’ is confined to listening to radio phone-ins and reading newspaper comment columns. If they are an accurate guide Reform is going to walk it but it is of course a self-selecting ‘birds of a feather’ audience.

Could it be possible that we are in for a Brexit style shock on Friday morning? In 2014 when Mick Barnbrook stood for election in Blackfen and Lamorbey he knocked on every door but was narrowly beaten by UKIP who admitted to knocking on none. A popular groundswell swept them to victory in that seat.

Reform are not only proving to be amateur campaigners they also don’t seem to have any knowledge of electoral protocols. A contact within Bexley Council says they are having to waste a lot of money tearing down Reform posters taped to Council infrastructure.

Obviously local authorities must be careful about appearing to endorse any candidate by allowing them access to publicly owned infrastructure.

 

29 June (Part 1) - The truth will out

News ShopperThanks to the generosity of readers I have been able to collect some election leaflets. None are available over here in Erith & Thamesmead, no one is campaigning because the result is a foregone conclusion. Not a good one.

I now have a full set of local Reform UK leaflets and they along with Labour, Conservative and LibDems will all be on line here before the day is out.

The Reform UK brochure (manifesto?) is an impressive affair designed to appeal to traditional Conservatives such as myself.

Its aspirations are exactly what one used to get from the Tories when a few of that species were to be found in Westminster.

Reform the BBC, the Lords, the Civil Service, the NHS, border controls and protect the military. Make taxation simpler.

All things that the Conservatives promised but never delivered.

Reform’s OB&S candidate parrots the same message. It is all rather appealing to those of us who realised three or four years ago that the Conservatives had seriously lost the plot but instead of them noticing that they were alienating their supporters, they doubled down on the nonsense until their Government became a not so slow motion car crash.

I am on record as a Tory General Election voter since 1959 - if I count the mock election run at school - as saying the party deserves to be annilihated. While it will be sad to see, and especially so if you have looked at Labour’s utterly stupid policies, I will make an exception for Jeremy Hunt in Godalming. Arguably the architect of the Conservatives’ downfall, along with Rishi obviously. Interesting to see (hear in my case) him trouncing Starmer in debate but apparently the country wants to vote for even more tax and mediocrity.

While out leaflet collecting I called in on an old friend who said he and his wife were both going to vote for the Reform candidate.

He knows exactly what lies were told to persuade the police to charge me with harassment. He knows how my MP tried her utmost to get them to take action over those lies and eventually run up against the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in Kent. Its boss, a former Bexley Councillor, just as the Reform candidate was, and his senior staff told obvious lies in support of taking no action against the Reform candidate.

My MP did not give up but the Office of the P&CC messed around until the 2019 General election came along and my fantastic Labour MP was replaced by a useless one. So the matter lapsed. Well not quite, but that is another story.

A very funny business indeed. My friend also knows what the High Court judge said about his preferred candidate but he is still going to vote for her. It perfectly illustrates the depths to which the Conservatives’ reputation has sunk when he is going to get behind a woman who tried her best to get me banged up - for supporting her and accurately quoting Court documents.

I’m not going to fall out with him over it. As a former Union official he will never vote Labour and like me he is totally disenchanted with the Conservatives so what is he to do?

In E&T my vote doesn’t count so I may as well vote Reform and wreck my 100% Conservative GE record but I doubt I would do so in OB&S.

Whether Old Bexley residents decide to vote for Reform UK, despite the candidate’s history of malevolence is perhaps a balance of scruples. I would prefer to see Louis French elected there but if he isn’t I suspect it will simply be a matter of time before the press start digging, indeed they already have while complaining that the Court system is too slow to be of assistance before the election.

 

28 June (Part 2) - A stitch in time…

Baroness O’Neill of Bexley (BOOBs for short) devoted a whole speech last November to castigating Dimitri Shvorob for causing the Council to waste too much money answering his questions to which his response was that if they answered the first one properly there would be no need for any more.

That is what Mick Barnbrook used to tell them after they said his FOIs were vexatious. Dimitri won his case when he took it to the ICO but Mick didn’t because Bexley Council told them he was a racist whose FOIs pursued a racist agenda and that, as is well known, is a Get out of Jail card for most things.

It seems that I may be embarking on a similar course.

On Wednesday 29th May, Kelly Wilkinson, a Bexley Council employee, blocked my road to all through traffic and made no apology for so doing. Two days later I made a formal complaint and was immediately told it would be answered within five days.

That is four weeks ago and I have received not a single word of a reply. My complaint did not set out to be especially difficult. Following a reference to the photographic attachments it simply said…


Instead of offering an apology your employee said nothing at all and drove off. This is a formal complaint against Kelly Wilkinson who has besmirched Bexley Council’s reputation before me and two neighbours by not only blocking the road which is a criminal offence but failing to offer any apology or possible explanation for her criminal activities.

I would also suggest that in case of emergency a pre-prepared card with contact details should be left on display so that residents, ambulance and fire engine drivers might be able to pass.


An answer could be knocked up in a matter of minutes by any manager with half a brain but maybe Bexley has none who are quite that clever.

No answer in four weeks obviously justifies another complaint but I decided on a different course.


It is now four weeks since you said my complaint would be answered within five working days.
I believe a Subject Access Request to be the appropriate vehicle for this and I hereby submit one for myself.
I have no wish to make your response especially arduous and I would be content to see it covering only the period from the end of May 2024 until the date of answering.
My object is to trace the progress of my complaint, i.e. To whom was it first sent and when, and the various stages it has been though since then.
It is regrettable that a Council failure is once again causing unnecessary expense.
regards,


Bexley Council now has a month to respond or the ICO will be hearing about them once again.

There is no need to wonder why Bexley has close to the highest Council Tax in London, none of their managers were taught that ‘A stitch in time saves nineְ’.

Idiots, all of them.

 

28 June (Part 1) - In the news

News ShopperWas this another case of Bexley Council mismanagement was my first thought when the News Shopper emailed their news summary to my mailbox. With some difficulty due to adverts getting in the way, I read their report.

Maybe it is just me but I found myself sympathising with the Council. To have a difficult child in need of constant attention is bound to present difficulties and nothing is likely to be perfect but reacting by keeping the child off school for two years seems a bit extreme to me.

Most of the comments took a similar view. A correspondent with a child at the Shenstone SEND school thinks it is brilliant.

Another headline that caught my eye was at the BBC. “Council boss charged with drug and driving offences.” But it wasn't Bexley’s CEO who was arrested for failing to stop, driving over the alcohol limit and without insurance and in possession of Class A drugs.

It is not just in Bexley that Council selection processes leave something to be desired.

It was Lambeth hitting the headlines. Not Bexley.

 

27 June (Part 2) - With a week to spare

Workers PartyThe managers at Royal Mail Dartford have imposed a new silly rule. It is that postal workers are not allowed out of the depot until 8 a.m., an hour later than it used to be. Today the post arrived here at 13:50 but the good news is that three election leaflets were delivered.

From the Workers Party UK, the Labour Party that doesn’t support workers any more and the irrepressible Reform UK.

For those with nothing better to do they are all linked from the big list of political leaflets.

Nothing from the Lib Dems and nothing from the blue Lib Dems either.

Will no one coordinate delivery and postal vote dates? Why are people encouraged to vote blind?

 

27 June (Part 1) - They would say that wouldn’t they?

Labour on X Conservatives on X Reform on XI am becoming increasingly annoyed with parties that cannot be bothered to knock on doors or issue leaflets to bring their candidates to my attention.

I haven’t a clue who my Conservative candidate (PDF) might be and in a constituency that would vote for a clown if it wore a red rosette, and it probably will, it doesn’t really matter who I vote for.

Elsewhere in the borough there is apparently an election going on. I know mainly through watching candidates on Twitter/X.

They all say much the same thing. That everyone they meet is going to vote for them. I smile broadly while muttering “bloody liar”.

It may however be true because their databases steer them towards friendly doors, the object being to shore up their core vote. At least the Reform candidate is not secretly ashamed of their party’s policies and keeping them under wraps. I imagine the other two are far too embarrassed to talk about them. If not, they should be.

On Sunday I told the IPSOS Mori inquisitor that with a heavy heart I would vote Reform on 4th July. I have no reason to believe their candidate is dishonest.

Click on any image to view them at a more sensible size.

 

26 June - Reformed characters?

Well that was a waste of two days…

As has been said before, this website runs on code I developed many years ago and it has run reasonably well since the major changes that made it more compatible with smart phones. That was six years ago.

An even older bit of code allows lists of similarly themed blogs to be generated automatically with dynamic updating if new blogs on the same subject are published. On Sunday I triggered the generation of a new list but it was corrupted with unwanted garbage. I have largely forgotten how the system works, hence the two lost days tracking down the problem. It wasn’t where I expected it to be but it is fixed now.

While doing that there were several interruptions from people asking about the election. Basically have I any information about the candidates? The dearth of leaflets seems to be widespread. I have none, not even the ones the postman promised a week ago.

I know a little about four candidates but only because they have been Bexley Councillors.

The sitting MP in Erith & Thamesmead didn’t do anything memorable while a Councillor and even more so (less so?) in Parliament. She has spent nearly five years cultivating the black and female vote and I have been unimpressed to put it mildly. Boundary changes have probably made her electorate even more susceptible to her charms than in 2019.

In Bexleyheath and Crayford another Labour Councillor is making a second attempt to get into Westminster. If your passion is higher taxes, more restrictions on freedom, cosying up to Europe and men in the ladies lavs then he would be the man to vote for. I don’t see him as being worse than any other Labour MP and likely better than many. (There will be people who write in to say I am wrong about this.)

I should know more about the MP for Old Bexley & Sidcup but I don’t because all the people I know who live in his constituency say the same thing; he never answers questions. This may be because the only people I know there are politically astute and will ask awkward questions. Loyal government supporter seems to be the fairest description. If you think the Conservatives deserve another chance and are better than the alternatives, then he is the man to vote for.

The Reform UK candidate in Old Bexley is another former Bexley Councillor, a Tory one. Not quite as unknown as she might wish to be. If I was a voter looking for information I’d go to the websites of both Sevenoaks and Bexley councils and a number of Courts and police records. I’m not sure if the last of those are publicly accessible but the others are.

Sevenoaks Council records how she extended her house there without permission. The retrospective application was refused and an Appeal to the Government Inspector gave her six months to tear the structure down and remove the debris. A Councillor who ignores planning law!

Bexley said she had brought the Council into disrepute over an allegedly shady property deal. I wasn’t convinced that she wasn’t stitched up by her colleagues who obviously hated her for reasons unknown. “Vile woman” etc. and I wrote a series of blogs on the subject casting doubt on the official verdict and for my pains she reported me to the police for harassment. The police, rarely the brightest of people, assumed the blogs were critical (not that that is illegal) and charged me with harassment. Fortunately the CPS did read the blogs and decided that evidence of harassment simply wasnְ’t there and I was awarded costs.

The foregoing is a very brief and incomplete account of the fairly recent past but I am not sure it is for me to regurgitate the falsehoods and Court proven lies when the Conservatives show no inclination to broadcast a few home truths about the OB&S Reform UK candidate.

I am not wholly against Reform UK, not every apple in the barrel will be rotten, but if you live within the OB&S boundary you may wish to consider whether we need another dishonourable Member.

Note: The computer code intro was relevant to the original draft of today’s blog but an edit has removed the link.

 

23 June - Put on the spot

I only know one other person who collects election leaflets but he hasn’t got any either so my archive is bare. In Erith & Thamesmead you wouldn’t know there is an election coming up, I thought a canvasser had called earlier today but it was Jehovah’s Witnesses again, If you are pleasant to them once they think they are on to a good thing and become a regular nuisance.

During the week I have noticed two missed calls on my mobile and one on the landline, all from 0131 507 0181. I checked it out. IPSOS Mori. They called again around 12:30 today and you can guess what that was about. Some of the questions make you think. Is Sunak seriously bad but the Conservative party is OK and every combination of those two questions. (Ditto every party and leader.) It depends what you mean by Conservative party, Mrs. Thatcher’s party, even David Cameron’s party or the shower we have now.

I think 27 minutes and 48 seconds of IPSOS Mori forced me into accepting that I will have to vote Reform UK on Thursday week. 60 years of voting for The Conservative Party will have to be swapped for 60 years of voting for a conservative party. Shame but they have been asking for it for several years.

 

22 June (Part 2) - Balancing the books

According to their draft accounts Bexley Council spent £48 million more last year than they did the year before but their income rose by less than £12 million. Try doing that to your household budget and see where it goes.

In a year when inflation was nudging double figures the staff pay bill fell by £8,634,000 which is getting on for 8%. Nothing was said at Council meetings about shedding staff numbers as happened regularly in 2020 so I have no explanation other than that offered to me a few years ago by a Senior Conservative Councillor. “I don't think they can add up.”
Accounts

Click image for the full expenditure summary.

 

22 June (Part 1) - Spiting their faces

A little to my surprise, there were no complaints about yesterday’s blog in which the Mickey was taken out of Rishi Sunak for his abysmal record in government and Keir Starmer for his frightening policies. As several people recognised, there was an element of truth within the pee-taking but maybe calling it “brilliant” was going just a little bit too far. Thanks anyway Dave.

Thus encouraged, some more…

I can absolutely understand that people will not want another dose of Sunak’s unacceptable brand of Conservatism and wish to see him severely punished for it. I genuinely cannot think of any decision from him that a true Conservative would judge to be the right thing to do. A change of direction is needed urgently and I am utterly perplexed by those who think the answer is more of the same whether from the left or the dithering centre. Tories who push tax levels to the highest in 70 years cannot be tolerated. Sunak may well have promised to put a few of the increases into reverse eventually but no one trusts him any more and with good reason. Out with the blighters.

The puzzle is why would anyone of sound mind vote for more of the same from the flip-flopping Starmer who refuses to rule out all sorts of tax increases from air travel to Capital Gains. It defies rational analysis that anyone who has suffered under Sunak would want to suffer even more under Starmer. It can only be that the desire to humiliate Sunak and teach the Tories a lesson they will never forget is seeking its only available outlet in an entrenched two-party system.

Depressing I know but I am reconciled to the fact that we are shortly to have an extreme left-wing government and for people of a certain age it will be déjà vu all over again.

TrikeI have seen it all before; pound devalued, cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund, rats everywhere as the rubbish piles up in the streets, unnecessary wars and undermining the constitution of the country such that it has become the ungovernable mess that it is today. I am going to overlook depriving me of sweets and toys as a toddler. (None and one respectively. The Triang ‘Trike’ is seen here outside the family Nissen hut in 1947.)

Determined to make the best of it I shall probably take mischievous pleasure in the discomfort of others; that is, the mugs who fall for Starmer’s siren calls.

It may be something of a gamble on my part but I doubt I am rich enough to stand out from the crowd and with luck will escape the worst of the politics of envy. I have given away as much money as I dare and my income is far too low to attract punitive levels of tax. If it did there would be a French style uprising from those on average incomes. At least I hope so.

I consider myself to be financially comfortable only because my outgoings are next to nothing. An addiction to electronic gadgetry is mainly assuaged and the biggest bill by far is Council Tax. Ironically the bill that gives the least back and you can guarantee that Labour will put it up.

I see the attraction of a Labour government as being the ability to sit on the sidelines despairing over the loss of world-wide respect for Britain while gloating over the distress of the fools who voted for it. Tax take down as industry thinks twice about investing in high tax Britain or even not allowed to when Just Stop Oil gets its way. Lights going out as the green zealots take over. Those who need to drive for a living forced off the roads. Negative house equity everywhere as the pound falters and Interest rates rise again. Food shortages as European farming policy is adopted in the UK.

I can hardly wait to see the shock on people’s faces as reality strikes. Every generation needs to learn the hard way that Labour governments always put people out of work and impoverish far too many.


StarmerWe know that Keir Starmer is either a liar or extreme left wing lunatic because he would rather see his children die than break his Trotskyist inclinations by paying to see a doctor. The promises of a liar will prove to be worthless and in eighteen months time he will be either gone or be as unpopular as Rishi Sunak.

The Conservative’s have given up here in Erith & Thamesmead for which I don’t really blame them when there are two Conservative constituencies nearby to defend, and I think I will vote Reform UK this time. I will console myself with the thought that I have only voted against parties for the last 20 years so this is not all that big a change of habit. There are two parties which I am against and not just the one so it is the logical choice.

My decision might well be different in other constituencies, like for example if I thought a party was fielding a petty thief.

 

21 June - Would-be leaders appeal to the hard of thinking

Rishi SunakHello; my name is Rishi Sunak, I’m the man largely responsible for the monumental mess in which we find ourselves now.

In my defence Boris Johnson caused the economy to crash with his draconian Covid restrictions, I told him that it would pile up a trillion of debt and printing money like there was no tomorrow was bound to end in tears but he made me do it. We were pretty sure that masks and the two metre rule and no more than six people together for Christmas was a load of old nonsense made up by mad professors but as Matt Hancock has admitted, it was all part of our obsession with keeping the little people under our thumbs. So we erred on the side of control freakery with a compliant police force more than keen to whack students and coffee drinkers with £10,000 fines and criminal records.

I sincerely apologise for going along with all that but the alternative would be to put country and principles before political ambition. If I had not remained Chancellor I would have lost the platform that allowed me to stab Johnson in the back and pull strings in financial circles such that the party membership’s choice of successor didn’t last very long,

I have already done a pretty good job of trashing her reputation and I never tire of telling you that Madam Truss was solely responsible for interest rates jumping up and hitting you in the mortgage department. You may have noticed that her malign influence was so enormous that interest rates rose to similar levels in Europe and in my second home across the Pond. She is personally responsible for every ill that has befallen my government that cannot be blamed on Vladimir, Boris or Wuhan. Believe me, itְ’s true.

Despite an unprecedented succession of mishaps I got inflation back down again and I must thank Gordon Brown for handing that responsibility to the Bank of England in 1997. One promise fulfilled out of five is not really as bad as it looks.

I must ask you to accept that the highest level of tax since World War II is not entirely my fault. Mostly but not entirely. I may have reneged on reducing Inheritance Tax seven or eight times and kept the energy prices much higher and for longer than Liz wanted but I reduced the rate of National Insurance back to what it was before I put it up. You have to give me that one surely?

I could have reduced VAT on energy bills to 5% or even nothing but the Greenies and Boris’s missus were worried that the world might end if you were able to afford to keep warm in Winter by turning up the thermostat a notch or two. Fracking may have put the shipping companies out of business and the noses of Russian oligarchs out of joint so that, I regret to say, was a total non-starter.

Probably Grant Shapps should not have funded the imposition of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods which delay the emergency services and are hated by almost everyone but I am not very good at arguing with all the lefties we have allowed to infiltrate every aspect of public life. Yeah I know that David Cameron promised a Bonfire of the Quangos in 2010 but he was screwed over by the Lib-Dems and then he sort of forgot.

At much the same time that very same PM, or more precisely, his Chancellor George Osborne, began to squeeze local Councils by starving them of funds as you will have seen with your Council Tax bills. You may regard him as a Hooray Henry chump of a man but he hasn’t made too bad a job of being Foreign Secretary so I hope you can forgive him for throwing a tantrum after he didn’t get his way over Brexit. Neither was his successor Mrs. May quite as poor a political operator as you might remember. She was very successful at undermining the wishes of the electorate with her Brexit shenanigans and very nearly losing out to Jeremy Corbyn in 2017 proves nothing other than the Conservatives were regarded as not quite as bad for the country as he would have been.

Boris Got Brexit Done, well in part anyway. I know we have done the dirty on farmers, fishermen and Northern Irishmen but they don’t vote Conservative anyway. One day I might get around to exploiting the Brexit advantages and, wherever sensible, have a Bonfire of EU regulations. But not just yet in case my wet MPs object. Maybe I should not have parachuted more of them into what used to be called safe seats but I am not really in control of anything any more.

One thing you must give me credit for is the rescue operation mounted daily in the English Channel; without that the hospitality industry would have gone bust long ago and the lefty lawyers would not be able to support Rolls Royce Motors. The cars are made in Sussex don’t you know? I always support British industry. There are exceptions of course and not being able to make high grade steel or aluminium is just an unfortunate by-product of my energy policies. Electricity prices being five times higher than elsewhere makes an important contribution to getting the UK’s share of world pollution down from 1% to something nearer 0·99%.

Probably I should have done something about out of control Mayors but I thought if you could see just how bad Socialist London and Wales performed it would provide a taste of life under Labour rule as a dire warning to you all. I doubted that you wanted extreme gender politics to become the norm but I now recognise that my plan may not have worked out too well; but I am learning, honest I am. Taxes will stop going up once we get to 2029, of that I am sure, well pretty sure. Jeremy says so and he knows best. He must do; Liz Truss appointed him.


Voter: I hear you but I don’t think I believe you have learned anything. You have had nearly two years to display your Conservative credentials and recognising your mistakes only a month before a General Election fools no one. Bye-bye Rishi, I hear California is nice at this time of the year.


Kier StarmerHi there! I am Kier Starmer, son of a toolmaker and former big time Jeremy Corbyn supporter. I want you to vote for me on 4th July. Pretty please. We have never had a real Trotskyite in Number 10 before.

The economy is in a mess mainly because the Tories didn’t let people starve when they couldnֹ’t work due to the Covid panic. Johnson got pretty much everything about locking down wrong, he should have gone for it earlier, harder and longer and furlough contributed to wrecking the economy. I could have done that so much better than Sunak.

My ability to face in two directions at the same time is not confined to Covid economics. I am the supreme master of that trick. Marx may have said it, Groucho not Karl, but I actually do it. If you don’t like my opinions I have many others. Just ask; I’m your man. Vote Labour.

There was no need to stop workplace gatherings of more than six during Covid and it was certainly unnecessary for those with the foresight to cultivate friends in Durham. Boris and his mates were just plain stupid, how difficult can it be to send a birthday party invitation to the Met? An elementary mistake for any accomplished political schemer and one that I would never make.

Rishi Sunak’s tax policies have been disastrous and he hasn’t a clue about how ‘hard working people’ live. So unimaginative too. Not a word from him on a renewed fuel duty escalator, hiking Council Tax and raiding the pockets of the richest 1% of the population is a no-brainer. They only pay 30% of total tax revenue and they are bluffing when they say they will bugger off abroad when I tax them harder than anyone else in Europe. I know your jobs might depend on them but they are decent people who enjoy paying more tax. They won’t go anywhere. Trust me, my dad was a toolmaker.

I know you too are itching to do the decent thing for the economy by paying Capital Gains Tax on houses and won’t mind your pension pot being raided like when Labour was last in office. Good old Gordon; my absolute hero. Who else would be so generous to poorer nations by flogging off all that gold at a knock down price? Anything he can do I can do better.

If you have put a bit away with the idea of bettering yourself you won’t really mind me taxing it harder will you? It might make raising the deposit on a house that little bit more difficult but you can go back to live with your mum and dad. Did I tell you that mine was a toolmaker?

I will make amends by kicking private landlords as hard as I can. When they decide to pack it all in you will find that you will soon get used to living in a cardboard box. It’s for the greater good. i.e. me being in charge and owning your own home is not all it is cracked up to be. I won’t own No.10 either and Carrie’s wallpaper is not what I would have chosen.

Bringing David Cameron back into government was pure desperation, had the Conservatives no one on the Green Benches with the necessary talents? Pathetic. At least I have David Lammy. The man is a genius and on a good day will outclass Joe Biden on the world stage.

Wales has been a wonderful example of Socialism in practice, if they can have the longest NHS waiting times in the UK, England has an obligation to beat them at their own game. Supermarkets being compelled to remove toys from their shelves was an act of genius when children were unable to go to school or venture outside. Only Welsh Labour would have thought of that and I am sure I can be just as brilliant if you let me try.

I will solve the rubber boat problem overnight, just charter a few P&O Ferries and welcome all the rocket scientists and brain surgeons we so badly need. It will put me on good terms with the French so that I can better renegotiate Brexit and Sadiq Khan should be happy to see his knife crime statistics hit new highs. He has said that white people do not belong in London and I am his number one fan. It’s a win win and if women feel unsafe then they should man up and grow some balls. We will have lots of new surgeons who are skilled at using very sharp instruments.

Extra taxes are only for rich people and you will never be rich under Labour so it is perfectly safe to vote for me. Please. I have a country to wreck and the sooner I can start, the better.


Voter: Kier me ol’ mate, can I get this straight? You are telling me that you have a genius plan to solve the immigrant problem overnight by letting anyone who wants to enter the country do so unrestricted and put as many British people on the dole as possible, flood the doctors’ empty waiting rooms put our women at more risk of harm; then as the icing on the cake allow me to pay you more taxes and introduce 200 different genders, then yes; I may not be very bright but even I can see the sense in that. You have my vote.

 

 

20 June - Let down by Bexley Council - again!

There might have been a report on last nightְ’s Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee here today but Bexley Council has failed us once again. Both when listening live and to the so called recording there is nothing but a succession of still pictures and half a second of audio every ten seconds or so. We know Bexley Council is useless and once again they prove it.

What else can be reported?


Old Bexley and Sidcup
Polling resultLouie French was elected as Conservative MP for OB&S in December 2021 following the death of James Brokenshire. I know next to nothing about Mr. French except that he had the good sense to get away from Teresa O’Neill’s Cabinet as quickly as possible and when we were both invited to the 100th anniversary celebration at the Old Bexley Ex-Servicemen’s club it was noteworthy that he didn’t buzz off as soon as his speech was delivered but stuck around chatting, shaking hands etc.

I’d guess he is an OK sort of bloke but I haven’t a clue whether he was pro-Boris, anti-Rishi, for or against Net Zero, a wet, a secret Lib-Dem or what.

It cannot be easy being a new MP in a collapsing government. There would have to be a degree of loyalty to the leadership or one’s card would be forever marked but a balance would have to be struck with an increasingly sceptical electorate. Maybe the only answer is to keep one’s head down and avoid answering questions.

The real Louie French is a big unknown to me. On the other hand his rivals are perhaps too well known and wouldn’t want their past looked into too closely. Encouraging dishonesty and forging letters may be almost a pre-requisite for being an MP these days but my inclination is to disagree.

As such if I was forced to vote in Old Bexley & Sidcup it would be for Louie.

Someone who does not share my sympathy for him is Dimitri Shvorob. He has had a number of run-ins with Louie French, or at least he would have done if Louie ever replied to his enquiries. He only seems to do so if Dimitri adopts a false name.

Dimitri feels so strongly about it that he has been distributing leaflets in Sidcup and I have managed to get hold of one. Mr. Shvorob is not a man to cross.

If Labour is elected in OB&S I am going to feel bad about giving Mr. S. the publicity but I would do the same if I got hold of any official leaflets. They appear to be a thing of the past.

Not a single one through my letterbox yet.

In Chingford where I was on Tuesday two former Labour voters (and a former Tory) said they had already postal voted for Iain Duncan-Smith ֧“because he is a damned good local [Conservative] MP”. When will Louie attract that sort of support?


Erith & Thamesmead
Erith and ThamesmeadI have been picking up vibes that the residents of Erith, Thamesmead, Belvedere and Abbey Wood are largely unaware that their parliamentary constituency has been moved to the left in both senses of the word.

The few posh bits of E&T have been chopped off by the electoral commission and the constituency has I believe been extended a little towards the badlands of Woolwich.

As such we are likely to be stuck with a useless MP for ever more and maybe it is time to have a bit of electoral fun by voting for Nigel Farage’s man.


Kelly Wilkinson
What do you reckon?

Kelly WilkinsonDear Mr Knight,
I am sorry I blocked your road to through traffic on 29th May and made you late for your appointment. There had been an urgent call to one of your neighbours which turned out to be for longer than anticipated and there were few parking spaces nearby. I did not realise that my client had their own private parking space which was free and I will have this in mind should similar circumstances occur again.


Or

Dear Mr Knight,
I am a Bexley Council employee and as such I can do pretty much what I like. If that means your house burns down because it cannot be reached by a fire engine then that is not my concern. As I think you have heard from your own correspondents I take pride in my arrogance which has served me well in Bexley and allowed me to rise to a position where I can lord it over lesser mortals.


It is three weeks since Bexley Council told me they would respond to my complaint about Kelly Wilkinson within five working days. It can be no surprise that @tonyofsidcup feels driven to go to the Information Commissioner when Bexley Council ignores him. I will have to think about referring Bexley Council to the LGO.


How long would it take to dash off a response but no they would much prefer to confirm our prejudices about their uselessness?


Secret message
For my police correspondent. Yes I had noticed that Crimebodge was back on YouTube their algorithm nust have noticed that I look at similar channels. We have come a long way since Bonkers first began to report on police corruption and won few friends because of it but now even Home Office reports agree with me. From murder to two-tier policing senior police officers are beyond redemption.

 

19 June (Part 2) - Unreformed

vetting.comApparently Nigel Farage has only just discovered that he has recruited some very dubious election candidates for Reform UK. One doesn’t have to wander very far from Bexley to find them despite him engaging Vetting.com to look into their backgrounds.

Vetting.com is owned by Colin Bloom who the Daily Telegraph describes (see panel) as the Conservative Party’s faith adviser under Boris Johnson.

But he was more than that. I voted for him here in Erith & Thamesmead back in 2010 when he was the Conservative general election candidate despite him wrongly accusing me of supporting UKIP. (I did but not enough to vote for them.)

His election address claimed a connection to Thamesmead but stopped short of claiming local residency. He was photographed with several Bexley Councillors, maybe he didn’t know them all or has forgotten about some but whatever the case he failed to uncover everything he might have done.

If Colin Bloom had asked to borrow my two fat files of information or asked any number of local victims Nigel Farage might have found rather more honest candidates.

He may be a Conservative but at least Louie French in Old Bexley has no record of Court proven dishonesty.

 

19 June (Part 1) - The answer must be “No”

LossOne of Mr. Thorogood’s friends has complained that the loss of £7·5 million over which he presided in Newham has still not been adequately covered. “When asked about the loss Paul Thorogood didn’t answer the question three times. And this guy gets promoted. Doesn’t anyone in Bexley do background checks?”

True for the present at least, but it was all covered here four years ago.

By the way, why is it that our former Director of Finance allows Newham Council to hang on to £274,000 of Bexley Council’s money since 2021? (Newham draft accounts Page 84. PDF)

 

18 June (Part 2) - Where does all the money go?

It is well known that the biggest money pit in Council finances is Children’s and Adults’ Social Care. All the time that Councils are willing to pay £16,000 a month to contain one unruly child, taxpayers will continue to be impoverished. £63 million on educating the borough’s children and caring for those less fortunate. Not figures that lend themselcves to averaging but £210,000 each is remarkably similar to the Chief Executive’s pay. Are there really 24 people on his level of salary crammed into his plush office?

£5 million on the Chief Executive’s hospitality cupboard and daily chocolate biscuits looks to be living on the grand scale. Bureaucracy and profligacy go hand in hand.
Accounts

Click image for a more expansive version.

CIES: Comprehensive Income and Expenditure Statement.

 

18 June (Part 1) - Where Rishi went wrong - the abridged version

My postman told me yesterday that all the election brochures have arrived at the sorting office and will reach me soon.

Probably they will not sway many opinions. Having read huge numbers of letters to newspapers, readers’ comment on news articles and phone-in radio programmes I find my own view in the ascendancy.

The Tories seem to have gone out of their way to alienate their own supporters. Leaving aside their disastrous tax policies for a moment, there are so many things that they could have done which may have retained the support of those inclined towards the right. In summary, put this country first.

Stop the subservience to the ECHR and WHO. Finish exiting the EU and the nonsense that makes Northern Ireland our poor relations. Just do it!

Stop assisting immigrants crossing the channel in rubber boats. On arrival offer them the choice of a free air ticket to their preferred destination or something they really really wouldn’t like. No access to benefits for anyone without a record of paying tax. Stop students importing entire families.

No benefits for those who consistently refuse job offers.

Teach British history and values in schools and stop encouraging sex changes. Stop crippling British students with interest on educational loans.

Rethink Hate Crime. There can be no excuse for the police putting people in cells for minor insults, like one Jew calling another a traitor as happened last week.

Deport child groomers whenever possible.

Drop the Net Zero target and the ‘green’ subsidies that provide me with about £2,700 a year to cover an annual energy bill of around £500. Poor people should not be made to subsidise those who can afford to install expensive equipment. Everyone should be given a free choice of EV or petrol and gas or heat pump.

Look at fracking again. Value farmers.

Ban ULEZ where it is not needed and do away with LTNs. Stop 20 m.p.h. limits on main roads except near schools in school hours.

Look again at the financing of the BBC. Why should I have to pay for watching a foreign TV channel via Eutelsat? i.e. not Astra which serves the UK.

None of the above would cost a significant amount of money but the Conservatives and particularly Sunak and Hunt have been too stupid to see what their traditional supporters want. We might swallow their excuses for high taxes, Covid, Putin etc. but there is no excuse for being a bunch of left leaning incompetents.

And now I find that all of the above is in Reform UK’s election manifesto - or contract as they prefer to call it. What is a former Conservative supposed to do with his 60 year old Tory voting record?

 

17 June (Part 2) - It may be all my fault

A reader drew my attention to the bbc website which features Erith and he (or she) implies that its decline is all Bexley Council’s fault because of its long term neglect of its northern territories. There may be some truth in that. Didn’t Arthur Pewty report that Bexley Council left the library covered in scaffolding for three whole years? As he said, the neglect “beggars belief”.

The photo of old Erith is ‘stolen’ from the Erith and Belvedere Local History Society: who decided that a featureless concrete carbuncle would be a more attractive shopping destination?
Old Erith BBC websiteMaybe I should take some of the blame for the demise of Erith’s ‘new’ shopping centre. (†) It is not much more than two miles from home and in 37 years I may have gone shopping there four times. It doesn’t help that the bus service has been reduced to half of what it was but the rail service seems to have improved (back to six trains per hour) since I last checked.

I have a vague recollection of visiting Morrison’s, maybe twice; and once using their coffee shop, Is that still there? I wouldn’t be surprised if it was 25 years ago. More recently I called in to Wilkinson’s (now closed) once to buy batteries and another time for razor blades. I recall one was out of stock, I forget which.

Unless you are within walking distance of Erith is there any reason to shop there?


† Not to be confused with Bexley Road, Northumberland Heath which has an Erith postal address and an old style shopping street.

 

17 June (Part 1) - Be prepared!

I have been mildly rebuked for a conscious decision to go easy on Bexley’s new Chief Executive and not append a brief biography to his promotion announcement, so I am going to make amends.

The name Paul Thorogood first appeared here in December 2018 in an entirely innocuous budget report. Same again three months later.

The negatives began to appear towards the end of the same year when it was revealed that Mr. Thorogood while in charge of finances at Capita, which manages Barnet Council, failed to notice that Trishul Shah was filching away £2 million under Paul’s unsuspecting nose.

In 2013 he moved across to Newham and the oneSource consortium of which Bexley was a member. In 2017 fraudsters struck there too and £7·5 million disappeared. CIPFA wrote a report on it but it is no longer on Newham Council’s website. Mr. Thorogood jumped ship to Bexley where he lost no time in bringing his Barnet second in command to be his sidekick here too. An appointment which provoked this email in November 2019.


It seems she has been brought in to sort out a sinking ship or possibly sink it as Paul Thorogood has reduced the Council’s reserves, reduced staffing to a minimum (you no longer see many other Finance Officers at meetings) and he’s reported nothing of BexleyCo’s failings.

It should be making profits but has the Finance Director reported any of this? If it’s failing to hit targets has the Director of Finance told elected Members?

Still, he can’t be everywhere. Or can he?

When he [Paul Thorogood] was Head of Finance in Barnet Nickie Morris was just a Finance Manager. When he rose to be Assistant Director, Nickie filled the gap as Head of Finance. Now at Bexley Paul Thorogood has become Director and the vacant post of assistant to the Director has been filled by one Nickie Morris. As a consultant Nickie Morris must be on more than £10,000 a month. We can only guess as there was no public advertisement.


It was said that the new CEO insisted on using Capita software while at oneSource where it was found lacking but despite that thought it would be good for Bexley. Only the people using it know the truth of that story.

And don’t dare mention the Capitalzation Order.

 

16 June - Reserves down again

A few years ago the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy didn’t much like the direction in which Bexley Council’s reserves were heading. They were in a worse place than any other London borough and if they didn’t do something about it all the money would be gone by 2022.  (Which looked to be over-dramatic to this non-accountant.)
Low reserves
Things were not good in 2023 either (reserves down from £74 million to £67 million in a year) but the brakes must have been applied even harder since because Bexley is not broke - yet - but the direction of travel is unchanged. General Fund reserves are down by another £6 million in twelve months.
Draft Budget

Click this image to see the bigger picture.

Probably the next government will lift the Council Tax cap and residents will be fleeced even more than they are now.

 

15 June (Part 2) - Taxes are far too high because…

Footpath Slabs Cones…public services are so horribly inefficient and run by people who would find it difficult to make a success of running the proverbial whelk stall.

Week 1. A man replaces paving stones with unattractive asphalt.

Week 2. A man with a different skill set comes along to throw the broken slabs into his truck.

Week 3 (if we are lucky). A man with a First Class Honours degree in cones removal may be along to put them back in the store cupboard.

Why use one man when three can suck at the public teat?

Note: The cones and arrows were eventually removed on 21st June 2024.

 

15 June (Part 1) - Reform UK unmuted

Michael Pastor Coincidence I am sure but just three hours and 49 minutes after complaining about no response from the Erith and Thamesmead Reform UK candidate he sent me his election leaflet and a very few words. So now his is the first leaflet to reach my 2024 archive.

Michael Pastor is a local man, rugby player and a one time police officer. Good that my old friend Michael Barnbrook was an Inspector in Bexleyheath. Bad that Bexleyheath was full of bent cops circa 2012. I was assured by the Director of Professional Standards that around eight of them would likely lose their jobs for corrupt practices and then someone even more senior swept everything under the carpet.

Nothing in the leaflet to frighten ex-Conservatives away and I await the Tory equivalent - if they can be bothered to produce one for E&T.

The official Reform Manifesto is expected early next week; meanwhile the QR code merely links to www.reformparty.uk.

 

14 June (Part 2) - New Chief Executive in Bexley

Paul Thorogood The vacancy has been filled from within which is probably a good thing. We will not have to teach another complete stranger where Bexley is.

One must wonder how many other candidates were interviewed and will his protégé Nickie Morris take over the Finance Department?

 

14 June (Part 1) - Reform UK on mute

Reform UK Reform UKWhen Nigel Farage went on X (Twitter) yesterday to announce a Reform UK election broadcast I contemplated asking a friend if I could watch it on his TV but I think I may have felt rather silly when it turned out to be six words in silence for four minutes.

Whilst agreeing with the language after 13 years of Labour and 14 of Cameron et al I still don’t know much about Farage’s limited company for which he begs donations.

I have a feeling he and I may have a few things in common politically but I don’t know for sure. Has he issued a manifesto? If so I have missed it.

I tried to find out more about Reform UK policies by emailing the local candidate. Not the best of emails perhaps but I couldn’t really be bothered perfecting the prose, the meaning was surely clear enough.


Hi,
I live within the Erith and Thamesmead constituency (Belvedere) and my vote might go Conservative, Reform or abstain but I know nothing about any of the candidates except the sitting MP with whom I am not impressed.
Is there going to be any information from you? I am not so pro Reform that I want to vote blind.
regards,


Deathly silence; just like his leader’s TV broadcast.

There is no way I will be voting for Michael Pastor if he is a total unknown, at worst he may have been drawn from Reform’s less than honest fringe.

When we had the Mayoral election six weeks ago I knew no one at all who was going to vote for Khan apart from a BBC employee for whom voting Khan may be an employment condition. This time I know no one at all other than a few Councillors who are going to vote Conservative. Maybe they should draw consolation from the fact my circle cannot be entirely typical.

I don’t see how I can forgive the Tory antics of the last couple of years and cast my vote in the Conservative box and ‘None of The Above’ looks increasingly attractive - but I doubt I will do that.

Longer term, if Starmer succeeds in bamboozling the gullible, I see a huge rebellion in the not too distant future. Maybe we saw signs of it last night in Greenwich where its failed Labour Council lost their New Eltham seat to the Conservatives who took 47% of the vote.

 

13 June - Predictions are easy after all

ManifestoWell they started off OK, but from there the Labour Party’s manifesto’s 133 pages were all downhill. I am quite prepared to believe that Conservative ministers come to work each morning determined to take us all for fools and raid our pockets and a change of attitude as well as direction is desperately needed. Filling constituencies with hand-picked wets fills no one with any confidence that the Conservatives want to change. I am quite looking forward to seeing widespread humiliation of their candidates in three weeks time.

But the Labour Party has now gone official with the all too predictable tax, tax, tax policy. £8·6 billion of it but by the magic beloved by Labour politicians there will be no austerity and we are not going to feel it in our pockets: unless you don’t drink, smoke, drive, fly, travel by bus, prefer to be warm than cold, insure your goods, live in a house, sell a house, rent out a house, enjoy chasing smelly rags through the countryside, keep cattle, aspire to have a knife taken to your genitals or die.

If you fancy any of that - maybe not the last one - you may safely vote for the red nutters instead of the blue nutters and cut off your nose to spite your face. Apparently nearly 40% of voters are sufficiently nuts to believe that their lot will be improved by a possibly reformed - if we are lucky - Trot but the Resolution Foundation, an economic think tank run by - until selection as - a Labour Parliamentary Candidate and the Institute of Fiscal Studies disagree with them.

It looks like I am going to have to enjoy watching the red voting lemmings crash on to the rocks below the cliff and become yet another generation that never votes Labour again.

For most of today I have felt inclined to hold my nose and grit my teeth and vote Conservative, but mainly to be able to say I have a 100% Tory voting record - but having written this I am going off the idea. Nostalgia has no place in politics.

 

12 June - Hedging one’s bets

RishiWhilst there is quite a lot about politics on Bonkers it is mainly reporting about what has happened and what is happening - @tonyofsidcup is still plotting - and predictions are infrequent. I have no desire to produce too many blogs which don’t as the Twitter fraternity is inclined to say, ‘age well’.

An exception might be the supposition that Rishi Sunak would be a disaster as Conservative Leader which as a prediction has been a resounding success. The headline above is from two years ago when bets were hedged to some extent with criticisms of all his would-be rivals.

The exception was Liz Truss and if she had not been such a Bull in a China Shop we might very well not be in the ess aitch eye tee where Rishi and Jeremy have dumped us.

Yesterday our hapless PM went to Silverstone and offered us Truss-lite as a possibly solution to the country’s ills. Reductions in the National Insurance rate, lower stamp duty and fewer green taxes. His heart may have been forced into the right place but it is too late now; incredibly the clueless PM looks to have handed electoral victory to someone who will take stealth taxes to new levels. Who would bet against much higher Council Taxes, reintroduction of the fuel price escalator and capital gains tax on your house when you decide you absolutely must get out of Khan’s London.


LibDemWhat could be worse than a Labour government? Maybe the LibDems would give them a run for their money?

When I saw this LibDem manifesto posted on X I assumed it was from a parody account but when checking the official manifesto discovered it was true. There is a lot more to it of course but all the things shown here may be found within the real thing.

If a woman finds her husband in lipstick and a skirt wearing a bigger bra than she does and has his willy chopped off it will not be grounds for divorce.

LibDem voters must be insane.

Yesterday I was inclined to be a Reform UK voter but today I am, for all their faults, leaning back towards the Conservatives - but not very far and tomorrow is another day

A problem is that I know nothing about either candidate and with Greenwich taking over the arrangements for the Erith and Thamesmead constituency there is not even an uncorrupted full screen nominations list available on line. Too much scrolling around and no way of seeing the whole thing at once. Bexley Council does the job in a professional manner with a nice PDF and Greenwich has made the sort of mess expected of a Labour Council.

Reform UKThe Reform UK candidate’s profile is not exactly impressive is it? Do they really expect to win votes without providing any information about themselves?

Ditto the Conservative candidate so far and I doubt I will hear from him; he lives in Surrey.

Predictions can be hazardous but if Starmer becomes Prime Minister it is an absolute certainty that his government of little talent - my MP who did nothing as a Bexley Councillor was good enough to be his Shadow Minister for God’s sake - will be a huge disappointment to all except his most hard left supporters. Most of us will be worse off monetarily and freedoms we have enjoyed will be removed by ever more nanny state bans - as if the left leaning Tories have not introduced enough of those already.

Reconstructed Erith and Thamesmead nominations list. (PDF - why is RBG incapable of doing that?)

 

11 June (Part 2) - Rising discontent

I was hitching a lift into town and after negotiating the yellow box junctions and temporary traffic lights the driver suddenly piped up with “Y’know, I used to really like driving” from which the conversation developed into the usual ‘the politicians all hate us’ and on to ‘keep on resisting until the ballot box defeats them or Britain has its own Ceaușescu moment’.

Even at the lowest level politicians and the laws they impose are too often crazy. I have long felt that it should be law that every new one must be accompanied by the cancellation of two old ones; otherwise there will be no freedoms left and the police state we are already beginning to see will take over completely. (I am hoping that they are too ignorant to know who Nicolae was.)

Here’s a little bit of minor craziness photographed yesterday.

Illegal Legal Illegal?Leaving a wheel on the footpath is illegal because it potentially blocks it; fair enough, but you can block it completely and be immune from prosecution (Photo 2) because the laws were signed off by an idiot politician.

Talking of which, what about the width of parking bays? (Photo 3.) 23 years ago, almost to the day; I was having my own @tonyofsidcup moment and challenging Bexley Council over the changes being made to Abbey Road.

Bexley Council lied that the parking bays were wide enough to comply with the regulations…


So I went out with my tape measure before replying…

My recollection is that wide vehicles would be ticketed unless successfully challenged in Court but as I cannot find the letter maybe I imagined it.

I don’t know what that blue car is but a Landrover Discovery is exactly 2 metres wide. My sub-1·7 metre measurement was on the opposite side of Abbey Road to that shown here.

StupidCan a pile of rubbish get a parking ticket? A week ago Bexley Council destroyed the paved footpath close to home and dumped the old stones on a corner previously designated as a dangerous place to stop. Why. The contractor when on site had a big enough truck.

 

11 June (Part 1) - Gizza job

Job advertThis job advert has been on line for a couple of months but there is still not a whisper of the position being filled. Paul Thorogood’s election bonus looks to be safe.

Is there any need to swap Bexley’s Chief Boy Scout for anyone else? Do we really need to teach someone else what Bexley is all about?

Click image to see the original advertisement or https://www.bexleycx.co.uk.

 

10 June - Five minutes of fame

Our new GLA representative Thomas Turrell has been trying to hit the headlines with a question to Sadiq Khan about extending the Elizabeth line to Ebbsfleet and succeeding with reports in the Evening Standard, the Daily Mail and our very own Maggot Sandwich.

But absolutely nothing new came out of it, I could have provided a better answer than Sadiq Khan did. I was the only person, including Network Rail staff, to attend every single one of the Crossrail Liaison Committee meetings, to photograph progress every day and be given a page of my own in the commemorative book which never did get published because of the opening delays.

MeI was also given access to the site and their principal engineering staff who knew more about the practicalities of a line extension than Sadiq Khan ever will.

It is true that the land requirement for an extension is protected as far as Ebbsfleet but there are considerable obstacles in the way, Harrow Manorway flyover and the brick arch that carries Bexley Road over the railway near the Fish Roundabout in Erith; to name but two.

Bexley’s Council Leader has been throwing money at the extension idea for some years but clearly knows little about railways. What are the practical options?

Ideally extend the two tracks which terminate at or near Abbey Wood all the way to Ebbsfleet, new bridges, new stations, new power supplies, additional trains. If someone has £3·2 billion hanging around doing nothing; job done. The Felixstowe Road entrance to Abbey Wood station would have to go and half of Abbey Wood passengers would be unhappy.

The suggestion is that eight of the twelve trains an hour would continue through Abbey Wood but without a properly engineered extension; how? They could be routed across the Southeastern tracks on the Plumstead side of Abbey Wood with all the consequent delays that would entail. Southeastern trains are not the most reliable and the timetable changes every six months. Elizabeth line timings would have to be adjusted to fit, impacting services right across London and out to Shenfield.

The trains can be fairly easily retro-fitted with third rail power collection (they were designed with that in mind) but without platform adjustments the level access from platform to train would be lost.

It is already more difficult than it should be for Abbey Wood passengers to work out whether Platform 3 or 4 is the next Elizabeth line train to London. Even worse if it is going to be 1, 3 or 4.

There is already a rail crossover system half a mile to the east of Abbey Wood station which allows interchange between Elizabeth line and Southeastern tracks, maybe the service to Ebbsfleet could use that rather than a new junction to the west. It would solve the platform level problem but unfortunately it would do nothing to help the Southeastern delay and timetable issues and Platform 3 would become a nightmare. Platform 4 could take the terminating trains and Platform 3 the Ebbsfleet trains; in both directions. That’s 16 trains an hour on a single track with alternating direction!

That’s the sort of thing that would work in rural Wales with a train every two hours but not on the Liz! Given the time it would take to drop the pantographs and the distance to the junction I’d guess it is impossible. It would take at least four minutes to empty a train, swap the power supplies and get the train down to the junction ready for another one to come back the other way. No; forget it!

So we are back to using Southeastern Platforms 1 and 2 with considerable inconvenience to Abbey Wood passengers for very little gain that could not be had by providing a decent Southeastern service. It has become dire in recent years as described by Murky Depths.

Thomas Turrell has had his five minutes of fame; now he should go away and do something useful. Baroness O’Neill might better serve her residents by not campaigning to cancel Thames bridges instead of pushing for benefits in Kent.

 

9 June (Part 2) - What if?

This is for David who expects to be entertained by political comment on BiB. It’s not really funny but…

Across the channel European voters are going to the polls to elect their MEPs. If the exit polls are to be believed they have become disenchanted with their left-wing representatives and there will be a shift to the right. Probably not a big enough one to bring the EU to its senses but the left-wingers are definitely in retreat. Germany is expected to kick out the Greens and in France Emmanuel Macron is trailing Marine le Penn.

Here in Britain voters are very unhappy with their own left-wing government but appear to be hesitant about following the lead of their European counterparts. Instead they lean towards more of the same but with bells on.

Even higher taxes, more severe curbs on freedom of speech and freedom of movement, bringing forward the date for the lights to go out, more gender confusion. An outbreak of national madness obviously and maybe there is a case for proportional representation after all; preferably a system of proportionality with voters’ IQ levels.

Rishi Sunak has long been on a mission to destroy his voter base and his D-Day antics are but the most recent in a long line of cockups. I personally don’t care so much about him disrespecting veterans - hang on a minute before exploding - even though I used to have a regular home visitor who survived that day on the Normandy beaches; what bugs me is that he is so politically unaware and lacking in judgment that he was unable to see that going home early was not a sensible or moral thing to do.

We cannot afford to have a Prime Minister like that. It looks like I am going to have to find out what this exceptionally shy Michael Pastor fellow is all about. I am not a huge enthusiast for Reform UK but it wouldn’t be difficult to be a more attractive choice than Rishi Sunak or Abena Oppong-Asare.

So what will happen once more European countries join Italy, Austria and the Netherlands in electing right-wing governments and we have elected one whose avowed intention is to open the flood gates to economic migrants?

If they are made to feel even more unwelcome on the Continent and decide to get out they will likely all end up here and our infrastructure will collapse. Maybe that will be a good thing. Every generation needs to learn that Socialist governments are not the solution to anything and maybe the influx will quickly collapse Starmer’s outfit, assuming the Momentum lot don’t chuck him out first.

With Sunak doing his best to guarantee a Starmer government, the last thing anyone with a three digit IQ level will want to see is a ten year tenure. The quicker he falls apart the better and just maybe our European friends will do for us what too many British people are reluctant to do now.

How’s that David? Controversial enough for you?

 

9 June (Part 1) - Looking after themselves

Bexley Council has published its 2023/24 Accounts; 154 pages of PDF. That is going to take some reading!

At a time the borough is nearly broke there is an extra £10,000 for Directors, a £7 million overspend and £6 million more of the reserves eaten up.
Remuneration

Just two examples of increased Director pay.

Councillors ‘pay’ rose from £674,000 to £713,000. I hadn’t noticed that, more research to be done.

The outgoing Chief Executive benefited by £233,102 for a little over six months work. Cost of Directors overall up from £1,314,216 to £1,435,672. A little under 10% extra.

However staff pay and benefits overall is down by nearly £10 million. It could be due to fewer staff or maybe highly paid agency workers have been replaced by permanent staff. Children and Adults’ Services expenditure was up by £13 and £20 million; no surprise there then.

BexleyCo is in hock to the tune of £2,738,000.

With both Labour and Conservative parties promising to freeze all the major tax streams, you know what is going to happen donְ’t you. The Council Tax cap will be lifted and Bexley will be back in 17% per annum territory. Neither party can be trusted on tax, Sorry, make that anything at all.

 

8 June (Part 3) - Sadiq Khan’s London

With no TV Licence I rely on a collection of Blu-ray discs and YouTube for visual entertainment and news. YouTube can certainly provide a different slant on the news which friends say is never shown on the BBC. It is worrying that most people will be voting with very little insight of what is going on in this country, indeed only a few miles from home.

These are scenes from Westminster this afternoon. With trouble on the streets almost daily and escalating it is only a matter of time before one of these thugs gets killed.

Probably best to use Full Screen Mode. Following the extreme violence around the seven plus minute mark, the police, not obviously outnumbered, retire humiliated.

 

8 June (Part 2) - A bit of self-indulgence!

I have been thinking about it for ages, but some of the smaller blog images can be a bit too small when displayed on a mobile in vertical mode. From today (and back dated to the beginning of June 2024) the smallest commonly used images will double in size if there is room for them to do so. That is if they are single images and not in a line of two or more.

Herewith an example. The top and bottom left images are from the same source file but displayed differently on mobiles only.

Mayoress Sue GowerSome random text! e.g. My favourite female Mayor!

Single isolated images will be larger when viewed on a mobile phone in vertical mode - but not in other circumstances.

Mayoress Sue Gower Mayoress Sue GowerSome random text! e.g. My favourite female Mayor!

Multiple square images will continue to occupy about 15% of the screen width each. Multiple rectangular images occupy nearly 25% of screen width.

The effect will also be seen on a desktop if the window is dragged to the narrowest possible extent (crappy Chrome does not allow sufficiently narrow windows) or if the mobile is twisted into landscape mode. The usual click to expand continues to apply.

Note: Some browsers will make a mess of this for 3rd, 4th and 7th June if you have already viewed those blogs until it chooses to update its cache, or you do it yourself.
A vertical mobile screen is defined as anything less than 481 pixels wide. Old blogs will be updated if there is a reason to revisit them.
There has been a further small increase in mobile vertical mode basic font size today. This will apply retrospectively back to 2009 once your browser cache updates.

 

8 June (Part 1) - Tempus Fugit

Can it really be seven months since the Housing Associations were last trying to sell their sometimes half wrecked houses at knock down prices. Maybe I missed some but they are at it again.

Here's a few from the list…
Maiden Lane Springhead Road Partridge Road Marden Crescent

Heath Road Stour Road Burnham Road+ Pengarth Road

Click an image for a much more informative version. (New listings, 8 may have been previously listed last year.)

These are the sale addresses noted so far…

 

Marden Crescent, Bexley
18 Pengarth Road, Bexley
34 Pengarth Road, Bexley
53 Pengarth Road, Bexley
? Pengarth Road, Bexley
Burnham Road, Crayford
Crayford Road, Crayford
Heath Road, Crayford
235 Iron Mill Lane, Crayford
234 Maiden Lane, Crayford
? Maiden Lane, Crayford (Not 234)
Stour Road, Crayford
Jennington Road, Erith
Springhead Road, Erith
Ellenburgh Road, Sidcup
50 Mallard Walk, Sidcup
56 Maylands Drive, Sidcup
Partridge Eoad, Sidcup
30 St. Andrews Road, Sidcup
19 Berwick Road, Welling
18 Burnell Avenue, Welling
39 Burnell Avenue, Welling

 

7 June (Part 2) - The defecating dog

I was going to do a short piece on the Meteorological Office gaslighting us about May being the warmest ever. The figures on their own website suggest that they carefully compared it with the 1960s when we all shivered at the approaching ice-age - seriously, that is what they said was on its way back then - and now that the cycle has moved back towards normal, wow, we discover that 2024 is warmer than 1962 when the snow didn’t melt until after Easter.

Shitting dogFortunately Diamond Geezer came along and gave us an eastender’s opinion of Bexley Village. A much better read than what I had in mind for today. “I always think it’s very appropriate that Bexley street signs have a defecating dog where the borough logo ought to be.” Absolutely brilliant!

As for the weather, we all know May was cold and wet but I know because I log the sunshine intensity at 15 minute intervals that it was as you might expect also very dull. In order of sunshine levels the last 14 years’ of May in best to worst order have been 2020, 2011, 2018, 2015, 2019, 2023, 2016, 2022, 2014, 2021, 2013, 2024, 2012 and 2017. 2024 was 46% behind 2020, 1% in front of 2012 and 2% in front of 2017 so this year May was very nearly the worst since 2011 and a long way below average.

Sunshine does not equate directly to temperature of course because the wind blows warm air around and increased cloud levels at night will keep us warmer. But nothing distorts temperature readings more than placing the recorder next to the main runway at Heathrow.

 

7 June (Part 1) - Question time

Question 1
An anonymous mischief maker asks a very topical question…

You may want to ask the Council how much the interim CEO [Paul Thorogood]  is receiving by way of a bonus from central government funds for overseeing the general election. Rumours of £50k, maybe additional bonuses for each and every other type of election too.


Bexley’s Returning Officer is a very lucky man - or woman in recent years - because the borough controls three constituency counts. Government websites are neither up to date nor transparent about this subject but back in 2011 the Chief Executive walked away with £8,000 for just one election. In July we have two. Erith and Thamesmead has gone AWOL.


Question 2
Having beaten Bexley Council over their unlawful declaration of vexatiousness they can only attack @tonyofsidcup with harassment and only then if his question can be twisted towards environmentalism. The Information Commissioner said that a pedestrian crossing could be considered environmental because it would have an effect on traffic flow and therefore vehicle pollution. The country is crooked from top to bottom isn’t it? Well top anyway.

@tony is still addicted to FOIs. He asked Bexley Council which Councillor represented it at the Oxleas NHS Trust now but more importantly, why the previous incumbent was not a Councillor or Council employee. They told him they didn’t know which has to be a very obvious lie.

He tried again and Bexley Council decided it would be fun to mess him around again.


Your FOI request would be for the NHS to respond to. If you remain unhappy with the way your request for information has been handled, you have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner. Regards Nicole Klynman.


What the Hell are they playing at? Both names were published in the Agenda of the November 2023 Full Council Meeting, one being nothing but a Tory activist. Sounds a bit bent to me. In the past the Council Leader has delivered whole speeches about @tony wasting taxpayers’ money but now they are inviting him to take his case to the Information Commissioner and waste more money. How would the NHS know why the Council Leader sent an activist to represent us at Oxleas?

By the way, it was this one…
Newbury

The arrogant Mr. Newbury was not elected but was given a political appointment anyway.

Doctor Klynman is Bexley Council’s Director of Public Health paid £126,127 per annum plus a £5,415 allowance for goodness knows what and is unable to answer the simplest of questions on public health. How is it that Bexley Council manages to recruit so many dud managers? It’s fortunate that real medicine is not practiced there.


Question 3
One of my regular mischief makers asks about my voting intentions.


I would have thought that if you was in Bexley Sidcup constituency you would have voted for the Reform candidate. (Big Smiley face)


He is probably as aware as I am that there are at least five, it may be six, people living in or near this borough who have had their collars felt by the fuzz after being falsely accused of stealing huge sums of money. Arrested, investigated and released without charge up to a year later. I’d rather vote Labour in Old Bexley than Reform UK.

 

6 June - Does a Conservative deserve my vote?

I wish I lived in the Old Bexley and Sidcup constituency because the voting decision would be a lot easier for me than it is elsewhere in the borough. The Conservatives have totally screwed up the past five years with their botched Brexit, a Covid response we now know was based on scare tactics and lies, a wrong-headed energy policy, broken tax promises and well… basically incompetence and dishonesty at every single level. Try as I might I cannot think of a single thing that has been good for me or even particularly good for the country. Even my pension triple lock increase worked out at little more than half the headline figure because of frozen tax thresholds. I sincerely hope that Jeremy Hunt suffers a severe kicking in Godalming and Ash, an area I used to know well because it was within biking distance in the days when kids could be kicked out of the house with a packet of Smith’s crisps in the morning and told not to come back until teatime.

It’s no good voting Conservative again because their HQ has been parachuting candidates into the safest seats who are wets so another five years of Rishi will be another five years of bad decisions and broken promises.

I do not know whether Louie French in Old Bexley is a wet or a proper Tory but at least I know he is not crooked. He might get my vote for no better reason than not being one of the others.

It is not just high taxes and poor decisions that have wrecked the Conservative party beyond repair, it is the way they tolerate and encourage unfairness in society - which is I suppose another poor decision.

Families without a single worker are given more money than those in humble jobs. People who invade our beaches are fed and given a roof over their heads with a GP on call (not been able to see one myself since January 2000) and some go on to rape and murder our women after being spared jail by a soft-headed judiciary steeped in left wing ideology.

Is it any wonder that there is so much unhappiness around and maybe rebelliousness too? I have been personally struck by the large number of cases reported in recent months of landlords with houses wrecked by bad tenants who have to get them repaired at huge cost and then find them difficult to sell. Our idiot Government permits Councils to charge them double Council Tax after twelve months when logically they should be paying none because no Council services are being consumed.

It is perhaps a niche niggle but it may very well be the one that finally convinces me not to vote for my local Conservative candidate. (Who is he by the way? I have no idea.) Bring back the Community Charge for fairness.

Unfairness is everywhere; imposed by politicians and bureaucrats who by rights should spend a day in the stocks. This week Facebook has been full of complaints about Bexley’s yellow box junctions. They are there to raise money. Seven years ago the Finance Director admitted as much in Council. (Third paragraph from end of blog.)

Enforcement is automated and the algorithm does not understand the law. You can stop in a yellow box junction in some circumstances but our home bred thieves are not interested. The boxes are also unnecessarily large in order to ensnare as many people as possible. Cabinet Member Diment should be ashamed of himself and maybe he is but constrained by Jeremy Hunt.

In Avenue Road/Broadway (Photo 1) if there is a continuous queue of traffic turning left into Broadway and there often is, it is impossible to cross the junction in a west east direction. It’s gridlock or £65 and another reason not to vote Lib/Lab/Con. On Knee Hill (Photo 2) which is artfully placed one car length before traffic lights (note the white line) extreme care is required and most drivers observe the rules but twice I have seen people stop unexpectedly, once for an ambulance, the other for a red light jumper. Bexley Council would prefer to see a smash up.
Avenue Road Knee Hill Upton Road Danson Lane

Sidcup Station Central Avenue Central Avenue Crayford

Avenue Road, Knee Hill, Upton Road, Danson Lane, Sidcup Station, Central Avenue Welling, Central Avenue Welling again, Crayford.

The two Central Avenue boxes (Photos 6 and 7) are separated only by a railway bridge - the railway is just visible in both pictures - and between them is a bus stop. If a bus is waiting there it is impossible for strangers to the area to know they are likely to be trapped in a box especially as the second one is further hidden by a bend in the road. Bexley Council; liars and cheats at every possible opportunity.

 

5 June - It’s not illegal but it makes you think

X postSince responding to @dannyhackett on X last Saturday (he had Tweeted a simple “No” when I asked if Daniel Frances would make a good MP) my voting intentions have continued to be volatile, especially yesterday when the flights of fancy took me to a different conclusion dependent on which Bexley constituency I was in.

The weekend feature on the Belvedere waste burner and its doubling in size in a few short years drew forth comment from a number of nature lovers concerned about the loss of wildlife habitat. Not only about their campaign but straying into website design too - I find the code that runs theirs unnecessarily complicated, but that was just a brief digression. Eventually I asked what support they were getting from local politicians because the website said almost nothing about that.

I was directed to MP Abena Oppong-Asare’s letter from last November.

“Nothing else? Nothing from Daniel Francis?” - who claims to have fought against the incinerator since 2000 on his General Election website.

“No not a thing. Nothing since he moved out of Belvedere [to Sidcup].”

“Have you fallen out with him?” “No, we think that Cory Environmental may be behind his change of heart.”

Easily said but could there be any truth in it and how would one find out?

Fortunately Labour activists are not as tight lipped as Tories and there have been several public fallings out over the years. One quoted in a Conservative manifesto (third page) and another canvassing for them - and there are other examples. Maybe some tongues would wag if asked. I asked and the tongues duly wagged. I found myself on the end of a good telling off for my positive comments on the Labour candidate for Bexleyheath and Crayford. “An April the First style joke!” and far too generous apparently.

“Nothing but self-service, only interested in his own advancement, the worst Labour election performance ever in Old Bexley and Sidcup, he is a campaigning liability but is desperate to inhabit the shark-infested waters of the House of Commons” to mention only a selection of the choice words on offer.

So we may have another ruthless greasy pole climber but what else would one expect of any ambitious politician?

“Thanks for your views but did Daniel Francis accept money from Cory Environmental and drop support for the Greenies.”

“Yes, I am afraid he did” is the essence of a much longer reply.

No proof offered but eventually Google came up trumps.
Financial Statement

The Belvedere Community Forum. Charity Number 1116584. Daniel Francis is now Company Secretary.

What is a man supposed to do when offered money by a company that he has been “opposing” since 2000? An awkward situation for an ordinary man but at least we know what a politician does in the circumstances. Abandons years of his own campaigning effort and cashes the cheque.

Politicians eh? Why do we kid ourselves that they work for us? Disillusioned again.

 

4 June - No style and Country Style

A rest from political stuff today as I consider whether I can possibly vote for a party that selects small time crooks as candidates. Probably that covers all of them but when you have the evidence it becomes more of an issue. I will be studying the leaflets that might come my way more carefully than ever. Candidates above Parties!

Kelly Wilkinson
Road blockedA week ago nobody could leave my road by car because Ms. Wilkinson blocked it. She is a ‘mute’ Bexley Council employee and last Friday I put in a formal complaint about her decision to ignore those she had inconvenienced.

It was acknowledged within minutes.

A BiB reader who has had dealings with Miss Mute made a prediction about what might happen next. She will probably be allowed to investigate herself. The photographic evidence will be ignored and any written evidence will be “utterly misrepresented”. The response will likely be “massively overdue”.

We will see.


Country Style matters
Road grit Blocked bins Blocked binstThree weeks ago Country Style swept my street but not very well. It is not easy because of the commuter parking and my end, despite being designated a No Parking area on the original planning application, is usually full up with cars.

Much to my surprise Country Style was back yesterday sweeping again. A rather better job than last time, more than half the accumulated grit has gone, the rest moved to a new position.

Another place where Country Style is hamstrung by inconsiderate motorists is in the residents’ parking area. The blue car blocks access to the bins nearly all the time and the white van quite often. I really do not understand the mentality of people who recklessly put their possessions at risk of damage. There is plenty of room to park elsewhere.

My green rubbish bin has not been emptied since 3rd May when I reluctantly transferred next door’s stinking food waste into it to prevent it being left behind for another fortnight in a bin with the lid up. It was either that or their garden waste but as I had given up my brown bin subscription only a week earlier I felt that was something definitely to be avoided.

But my bin wasn’t emptied on 17th May or on 1st June (Bank Holiday delay) despite being put in the usual place the evening before. I can guess why. There is next to nothing in it and Country Style can’t be bothered to wheel the bin to the hoist. Far easier to manually grab a few ounces of plastic bag and chuck it in the back of the lorry - and ignore the second bag beneath it because it is out of easy reach at the bottom of the bin. I may have to become a fly tipper.


Cheapskates
Asphalt patchSome contractors came along this afternoon and ripped up the paving stones in my road in three or four places. I suppose they were cracked but I confess to never having noticed, not even the patch shown here which is just a few yards from home. Black patches do nothing to improve the appearance of the borough but it is cheap.

Some friends in Bromley were not very happy when their road was asphalted from one end to the other looked horrible. Research revealed that quite a lot of roads had been tarred over while some had been properly paved and there was a precise correlation between slabs and Councillors' addresses. I managed to interest the BBC in the phenomenon but Bromley Council absolutely refused to discuss the matter with them so the story did not progress.

It must have been 20 or so years ago.

 

3 June (Part 2) - 40 minutes of passion!

Well that has thrown the cat among the pigeons hasn’t it? Nigel Farage has taken over Reform UK and will stand for election in Clacton.

I dismissed all thought of voting Reform several years ago when their Leader Richard Tice became a Covid control freak. Masks and compulsory vaccinations for all. Where does he think he is, North Korea?

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours between two cricket matches with a former Reform UK supporter who dropped out after the hate group, Hope not Hate, successfully intervened in Reform policy when actual Members have no say in it at all. Reform is not a political party, it is a company that accepts donations. If it was otherwise I may have joined. Maybe the Cricket fan will have second thoughts although unlike me, nothing has changed for him.

When Nigel Farage was in Bexleyheath eight years ago I saw Conservatives among the crowd including a former Cabinet Member fan who swore me to secrecy about revealing his name. Nigel has a very wide appeal. This afternoon's speech was the first I had heard since the election announcement which was in any way inspiring,h

Mr. Farage said he had only seriously stood at a General Election once before, In Thanet where he lost to a Conservative whose agent had cheated and went to prison for it. (My cue to champion the late Michael Barnbrook who single-handedly shamed Kent Police into bringing suitable charges after they initially refused to do so.)

Until this afternoon I was moving towards voting Conservative in Erith & Thamesmead which has gone strongly Labour with an MP who is not in the slightest bit interested in me, but now there may be an outside chance of damaging her. Something to be considered very carefully in the coming days,

Will Reform UK find any decent candidates? So far I have only noted a few who should ever be allowed anywhere near a position of power.

 

3 June (Part 1) - Down with Daniel!

Mother said never debate religion, money or politics at the dinner table because it will inevitably cause a row which is why BiB is mainly, I think, simply a reporter of facts but it cannot be denied that a bit of political controversy can be fun. If one regards the resultant kick-back as fun.

The comment about the Bexleyheath and Crayford’s General Election candidate did, I accept, come across as generally supportive without quite being an endorsement. That was the intention and some readers were not slow to object and say so but I have never believed it to be wise to make enemies of every politician. Not all of them are scoundrels. (Mother would say if you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say it at all; something else you got badly wrong Mum.)

My opinion of Daniel Francis was based almost wholly on his performance at Council meetings. I have never worked with him and such people may have a different perspective. His occasional emails are always polite and as helpful as he can be but I don’t suppose we have exchanged a few face to face words more than three times in God knows how many years; and never more than a couple of sentences. To me at any rate, he is not the outgoing friendly personality that Labour Leader Stefano Borella undoubtedly is. Despite that, it is a significant advance on any other election candidate I am vaguely aware of. I tried to speak to Louie French once but he didn’t want to know. Same goes for another former Bexley Councillor, Gareth Bacon MP for Orpington, yet I would probably vote for either of them given the chance. Maybe Daniel was number 1 subject because all the others are too boring!

What if I had tried to please my critics by portraying Daniel Francis differently and slanting things in a different direction while not straying from the truth?

I was not very happy when he told that this blog is a third wrong and another third conspiracy theory after trying very hard to stick to facts. Never have I allowed anything to remain even a bit wrong if something is brought to my attention. Daniel clearly regards me with suspicion and he is right to do so. Politicians I know far better than him and with whom I have sunk the occasional pint have not been immune from criticism here.

Daniel can be combative and argumentative during Council meetings but I tend to be sympathetic to that after witnessing some Conservatives using their numerical muscle to shout him down.

It is a personal thing and not wrong but I find the use of his disabled child to advance arguments always grates with me but I can also see that it might look different to many.

Poisonous pairHe hangs out with the most obnoxious people imaginable. What else?

Ah yes, he once asked for copies of some files I had acquired from the High Court and I delivered them on a USB memory stick to his front door. I never got it back!

I wonder if he still has it? If so he should take another look.

X Direct MessageIt was in essence an evidence bundle after a business owner could not account for a six figure sum and three or four employees were accused and subsequently arrested on suspicion of theft and an associate was seriously libelled.

If Daniel has trawled through innumerable files he might remember the letter calculated to deceive a client and written under duress by an employee who became a Court witness. Other employees were encouraged in writing to steal from contractors and lots more I have half forgotten.

The judge made a number of disparaging remarks about the defendant and found in favour of the complainant.

That business owner is now a General Election candidate. (Not the woman in the picture, Daniel knows everything about that one without needing a USB stick.)

I am beginning to think I should reconsider my assumption that not all politicians are scoundrels at heart. Perhaps I have not been probing sufficiently deeply.

Currently I am inclined to make the same General Election decision as in every year since 2005. Who is the least bad?

 

2 June - Drip, drip, drip. Money, money money

It was interesting to see the photo of Councillor Francis yesterday campaigning against the plans for an incinerator in Belvedere 24 years ago; it made not a scrap of difference because the move towards wrecking pretty much everything in this country is unstoppable.

IncineratorThe smoke factory opened in May 2011 and got its first mention on Bonkers four months later. In June 2011 Bexley Council admitted that poisonous plumes are a huge Business Rate money spinner. (See the paragraph just below Councillor Craske’s photo.)

By 2014 57,000 tonnes of waste was being sent for burning annually at a cost to Councils, Bexley included, of £103 a tonne. The money goes around and around. Cory Environmental gives some of it back to a grateful Bexley Council which, for example had in mind spending it on the Belvedere Splash Park.

Unfortunately Bexley Council was looking for half a million while Cory was thinking in terms of £160k. But we got a bridge out of the arrangement too.

Having got their way on the incinerator, Cory returned cap in hand in 2016 asking for permission to ship in another 110,00 tonnes of waste a year by road. Drip, drip, drip.

Not content with a double sized incinerator Cory also wanted to build a data centre to use up spare electricity generation - all over a wildlife site. There were protests of course; I attended one in April 2016 but Bexley Council needed the money and doesn’t like to be reminded of it.

Another two years and Cory was back again. By this time they were processing 750,000 tonnes of rubbish and were looking to raise the total by another 655,000 tonnes with a second incinerator and a 20 megawatt battery to store the electricity. The following April (2019) it was all rubber stamped. The money spinner was running at full tilt; well not quite. The nature reserve was under renewed threat.

Bexley Labour Group put out a Press Release.

An inquiry was held and Sadiq Khan became involved but all to no avail. Money talks and by 2023 we had the largest incinerator in Europe (Leader’s report last November) making nonsense of Khan’s ULEZ and the roads are being disrupted by the installation of new electricity distribution cables.

Has Cory reached the end of the road after 15 years of extension by stealth? No way, they now want to  compulsorily purchase a great chunk of the Crossness Nature Reserve in order to store waste before dumping it in disused North Sea oil wells. To make the land purchase they need the agreement of the Secretary of State.

Birds, bees, voles and dragonflies will be destroyed and there is a huge amount of interesting information about the loss of wildlife on the Nature Reserve Website along with how you might help with the campaign and donate.

There are only two weeks left to register an objection. Rarely has there been a better example of ‘give these people an inch and they will take a mile’.
Incinerator Incinerator

How it was supposed to look and the reality. The trees must have died.


Note: Several of the linked pages have been restored from the archive of withdrawn blogs and the links within them may not all work correctly.

 

1 June - Daniel enters the lion’s den

Daniel FrancisI didn’t know until a couple of days ago that Councillor Daniel Francis has his own web domain name; danielfrancis.uk, but he has had it since last December 7th. Naturally it has come to life because of his candidacy for the Bexleyheath and Crayford Parliamentary seat vacated by the long serving Conservative MP David Evennett. Daniel has been my Councillor in Belvedere for most of this millennium although in the Bonkers era my first port of call has been Danny Hackett and more recently Sally Hinkley. (John Davey 2010 to 2014 but the least said about that the better.)

Sally was a big help to the local community while Crossrail was under construction and we have stuck with each other since then despite our political differences.

I know Daniel mainly through observation at Council meetings since 2010 but he was the driving force behind the campaign to Save Belvedere Splash Park when the Conservatives ran out of money to maintain it.

Daniel was Labour Leader for four years until Stefano Borella took over in 2021 and throughout my years watching him at work from 2010 through to last month he always impressed with his knowledge of a wide variety of subjects and particularly of the Council’s own rules and regulations when the Conservatives might be twisting them to their advantage.

As has been reported here more than once there has never been any suggestion that Daniel (or his colleagues) has been anything other than scrupulously honest and I would be among the first to jump on him if he ever engaged in the sort of skullduggery for which some Conservatives have been renowned.

From both observation and occasional tittle-tattle I am pretty sure he does his best to curtail the activities of some of his more enthusiastic supporters, those who have merited a mention here from time to time, who I have always felt let his party down.

Daniel’s new website is nicely presented and has nothing in it with which I could reasonably disagree. I’d love to know more about how, as related on the Home page, he ensured the Elizabeth line was brought to Abbey Wood because the relevant years are a big gap in my knowledge of that project.

Labour MP Teresa Pearce stood up for it In Parliament at a time when Bexley Conservatives were campaigning against improved transport links. Cancelling Ken Livinstone’s bridge etc. Teresa was a damned good MP who taught me that not every Labour MP has to be David Lammy in disguise.


LabourThe unswerving belief that Keir Starmer will lead us to the Promised Land may or may not be genuine but what else can Daniel say? One of the website pages is ‘Labour’s first steps for change’. if I wished to be critical I would say that the first two and the fifth are pie in the sky aspirations and the sixth one about recruiting 6,500 new teachers is not good enough. There are 30,000 schools in the country and Labour’s policy is to squeeze Public Schools and displace many pupils into the state sector. Clever stuff!

So would I vote for Daniel if I was able to wipe my sixty years of political memories and found myself sitting uncomfortably on the electoral fence? Maybe if I was feeling particularly mischievous I would first remind myself of the letter from Bexley’s Chief Executive dated 15th October 2001 which accuses me of making a ְ“petty” complaint when I asked why the Council Tax in Bexley was rising much faster than in Bromley and Greenwich. “Please tell me which among your current plans will result in lower expenditure? Surely you have one or two to be able to boast about?”

Apparently my language was “emotive” and any more of it and I would be labelled vexatious. My admonition was copied to Councillor Francis and I have never quite forgiven him (†) for not telling Mr. Duffield that he was a prat who hadn’t answered the question. But then I might conclude that young Councillor Francis knew nothing about the preceding correspondence and had better things to do. His party didn’t control the deteriorating finances in 2001.

I suspect Daniel would make a good MP. Pity about the Party.

† Don’t take any of this too seriously.

 

News and Comment June 2024

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