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News and Comment March 2024

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2 March (Part 1) - Bexley Council is playing Silly Buggers


NonsenseFour locations in Bexley are likely to get new pedestrian crossings but exactly why is difficult to say. If you read the News Shopper it is because a lollypop man died in a tragic bicycle accident three years ago but that took place a mile or so away despite one NS commentator apparently falling for the implication that he was killed while shepherding children across the road.

Bexley is short of school crossing patrols because an infamous former Cabinet Member decided it would be a good wheeze to get the Mayor of London to fund them. And then the Mayor decided not to.

The crossings may have come about because one site benefited from a 2,335 signature petition.

It is equally possible that one parent, our old friend @tonyofsidcup, insisted on asking awkward questions about Bexley Council’s inactivity and threatening to organise a much bigger petition. His campaign for crossings was so unwelcome that the Council Leader devoted a great chunk of her address to Full Council last November to telling fibs about him.

Now out of the blue, Bexley is set to get four new crossings. Is it because it acquired a Cabinet Member with an IQ high enough to drag the Cabinet’s average up to somewhere close to triple figures - and with a nose for popular politics too?

But why only four crossings, or maybe the question should be why that particular four?

DrainThe worst accident black spot is Yarnton Way in Thamesmead. Five times as bad as Brook Street which is to get a crossing. I know Yarnton well as it is easier to turn left when exiting Clydesdale Way, Belvedere (Lidl, Toolstation, Screwfix etc. and if you are mad enough, the Morgan pub). The alternative route home means trying to cross the busy A2016.

Yarnton Way is a more or less straight 30 m.p.h. dual carriageway which attracts the sort of driving behaviour I have come to associate with Thamesmead. I have twice encountered drivers taking a short cut around Yarnton Way roundabouts the wrong way.

Bexley Council has encouraged such behaviour by making the roads around them too narrow for anyone’s comfort and far too narrow for buses. It has acknowledged that the carriageways have been made too narrow by installing low kerb stones which are OK for bus wheels to mount but perhaps not pedestrians’ toes. But if a car fails to negotiate a chicane at speed the kerb is enough to flip it.

You can understand why Yarnton Way may need another pedestrian crossing. So why isn’t it getting one? A flooding and drainage problem is said to be the reason and now the money is going to be spent elsewhere Thamesmead can go and weep into its river.

Is it the pesky Thames floodplain that has scuppered commonsense or is it that Bexley has given up on unblocking drains? @tony thought we should be told.

He made a simple FOI request…

Can I please have the report(s) summarising the Council’s 2023 survey of pedestrian crossing locations?

He was told he could sod off but @tony tried again.

Can I please see any documents and emails regarding flooding concerns at the proposed pedestrian crossing in Yarnton Way included in the Council’s 2023 survey of pedestrian crossing locations. He was rewarded with another Sod Off.

FOI response

“Having considered!!” Which idiot wrote that? It is another immediate ‘Sod off!’

This may very well be illegal (the Information Commissioner phoned @tony to discuss the issue) as is to be expected of a Council which has never been afraid of breaking the law but I think the residents of Thamesmead deserve to know exactly why Bexley Council thinks their lives are less important than others. Yesterday I submitted my fifth FOI request, the first being made on 31st October 2012.

Dear Sirs,
I live approximately mid-way between Abbey Road (Belvedere) and Yarnton Way (Thamesmead) and walk and drive along both regularly. Yarnton Way may have a road safety problem and your own accident statistics would tend to confirm it. It was recently top contender for a pedestrian crossing but lost out in favour of Sidcup and Bexley.
This is attributed to a drainage or flooding problem. Both Abbey Road and Yarnton Way are within the Thames flood plain and no one would dispute there are water issues here.
When Crossrail was being constructed I saw their holes quickly fill with water, some of them in line with the river’s tidal flow.
I have had occasional correspondence with Bexley Council about flooding since 2011 and it is something which is not easily resolved. In Abbey Road it is a drainage problem, the gullies are not cleared and I photographed a blockage only a couple of weeks ago.
I do not know why Yarnton Way floods at the proposed crossing site, hence the formal part of this FOI request.
Please supply a copy of the survey provided to Mr. Bashford or his subordinate if not handled by the Head of Department. Similarly the recommendations to the Cabinet Member.
I do not dispute that there is a problem but I would like to know its nature. Inadequate or defective infrastructure or natural causes about which little can be done.
Yours faithfully,

As yet there has been no acknowledgment.

Will Bexley Council continue to play Silly Buggers or will the new Cabinet Member conclude that dragging its reputation through the mud is really not worth the candle and make the information public?

Richard Diment for Leader and a spot of commonsense!


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