Just a few things need to be updated before the year ends
It seems that one of our three MPs has seen the false accounting that councillor Craske uses to justify a near tripling of the charge for residents parking permits and was sufficiently concerned by it that he too is seeking an explanation from the purple pygmy.
You are probably aware that Bexley council is trying to convince us that it is doing a proper consultation on its proposed programme of cuts and you may remember their planned meet the public exercise which was cancelled without notice and followed by excuses that made no sense. All that has since become clear. Apparently the leader got wind of the fact that the audience assembled at the Central Library included someone known to ask awkward questions and since the whole thing was intended to be a sham consultation, the Leader and C.E.O. waited until the audience had gone and turned up a couple of hours later the same day to an audience of no one at all. You think Im making this up? Think again, the news came in an unguarded moment from Leader Teresa ONeill herself.
Almost inevitably I must now return to the arch-villain Craske who made irrelevant personal comments about a member of the public in contravention of the standards for councillors. He was absolved of all wrong doing by the Mayor who prejudged the formal hearing and by two Conservative partners-in-crime given the job of judging his behaviour. You didnt think it would be a democratic process did you?
I was in two minds whether or not to appeal against this abuse of power because the reason given for finding the tyrant innocent was that there was a correlation between his unwarranted outburst and the question asked and without the benefit of a photographic memory it was impossible to be sure that there wasnt a correlation I had failed to pick up on. However within the last few days a summary of the verbal exchanges has appeared on the councils website (only paragraph 1 is relevant) which shows conclusively there was no correlation whatever between the question and the response. Craske blatantly lied (contrary to his claim, there most definitely is a contract) and I have a letter from the Mayor supporting his lies. Now that the councils own website confirms Craskes ill-mannered jibes I have requested a review of the Standards Boards decision.
Finally it is time to wish readers a Happy New Year and that those of you nursing bruises and broken limbs because of the councils failure to grit even major cross borough routes, let alone residential streets, will soon recover. Thank you for your support and encouragement, see you next year.
I have been contacted by someone who is collecting information about Bexleys new hard line attitude to parking and parking fines. I have not yet received permission to reveal who is compiling this dossier of injustice but its not one of my band of helpers but someone of real local standing who may be able to bring some welcome pressure to bear on Craske and his ruthless crew. So if you have unjustly received a parking ticket from Bexley council and they have refused to listen to reason, perhaps you could let me know via the Contact page. Doesnt have to be every last detail if you would rather not, just enough to indicate it is a genuine report and not councillor Craske in disguise and permission to pass on contact details to the dossier compiler will be enough.
Just because their failures are constant and expected doesn’t mean that Bexley
council should be let off the critical hook when they let us down yet again. 48 hours
after an hour long snowfall Bexleys main routes are still untreated. I was going to say
at least in the north of the borough but while preparing this report emails
have come in saying the Welling end of Welling Way to the A2 wasnt passable early this
morning and that Brampton Road is just a set of wheel ruts. Quite possibly the councillor at
fault, Peter Craske, has never ventured north and doesnt know that Erith and Belvedere
can be very hilly and offer spectacular views across London from various vantage points.
You would think hills would be top priority for attention but Picardy Road for example wasnt touched. Its a bus route and inevitably one got stuck blocking and trapping cars behind it. Yesterday I had to drive to East Ham and it was the quickest journey of the year. Very little traffic and clear roads from the moment I crossed the Bexley boundary, fortunately only a quarter of a mile from home. The contrast between the Greenwich section of the B213 (photo 2) and Bexleys (photo 1) was remarkable and it still is as these scenes only five minutes apart on foot and photographed mid-morning today illustrate. Abbey Road at the point shown carries nearly three times as many buses as does McLeod Road and a little further along where a bus got stuck it carries nearly four times as many.
Whilst reminding Craske that hilly bus routes should be a priority for salting and gritting maybe I should remind readers of what sort of man Craske is. Recently he lied at a council meeting about the councils contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff in order to deflect a question from a member of the public who he went on to verbally assault. He is the man who approves the vendettas against businesses in the borough through various parking scams, Blackfen being the most recent example. He is the man responsible for the doubling (and soon trebling) of the cost of residents parking permits justifying it with arithmetic that makes no sense. And perhaps most shocking of all, Craske is the spiteful bastard who forced a resident to shell out an extra £550 to rectify an error he had innocently made when an alternative and helpful solution was staring Craske in his purple face.
I was surprised to get so little feedback from the council meeting on Thursday of last week when Richard Harries was supposed to deliver the governments All in it together message to Bexley council but chickened out in the face of opposition from Bexley councils self-serving money grabbers. I subsequently heard from someone who says he spoke to Bexleys fat-cat in chief, Teresa ONeill after the meeting. Im told she made it absolutely clear that she regards the Chief Executives £200k+ salary as sacrosanct, saying something like he is good value for money and worth it.
Todays blog is effectively given over to John Hemming-Clark who runs the
Independents to save Queen Marys Hospital
campaign. He makes this announcement
ITVs London Tonight will be at Queen Marys Hospital tomorrow morning to interview me about the closures of A&E and maternity etc. especially in the wake of the closure of the Princess Royal University Hospital, Farnborough this week as a result of the norovirus outbreak and the implications that this has for emergency healthcare in our area.
Please can you come down to Queen Marys, Sidcup tomorrow at 11.15am and I will meet you with a reporter/cameraman at the entrance to the hospital. I need supporters but especially people who will be able to give reports of how the closures are affecting them.
I need your support - please come if you are able.
Last Tuesday I needed to drive to East Ham but found the Blackwall Tunnel closed. The roads were gridlocked for several miles around. I thought I would be clever and loop back home via minor roads that would take me alongside Queen Elizabeth Hospital - big mistake. It took 27 minutes to get past the traffic lights at the junction of Ha Ha and Stadium Roads a few yards from Q.E.H. The hospital was effectively cut off. No ambulances went by in the whole of the time I was stuck there. Does that mean that A&E at Q.E.H. is likely to be a problem whenever we get a tunnel closure? Its not exactly a rare occurrence.
am in danger of getting repetitive on this one but I switched on News 24 two
days ago and caught Eric Pickles speaking in the Commons; he said that council Chief
Executives shouldnt be paid more than the Prime Minister. A month earlier I
watched the greedy crew that is Bexley council support their leader Teresa
ONeill when she rebuffed a member of the public who put much the same view
at a council meeting. I have also seen innumerable letters and
emails from interested residents seeking similar assurances and asking to meet
either ONeill or the C.E.O. Will Tuckley to engage in a dialogue on the subject. All of
those attempts have got absolutely nowhere; councillors and C.E.O. alike are
simply not listening to the governments message that we are all in this
together. You and I are in it but fat cat councillors and senior staff
believe they are not.
Im amazed that a down-to-earth sort of chap like Pickles is naive enough to expect the power he plans to devolve to local level will not be abused. What happened when councils took over parking regulation from the police? Bexley sent out a leaflet promising more and easier parking. Instead we got Craske on a mission to destroy communities and blight lives.
What happened when the last government gave councils additional powers to regulate refuse collection? We had to line up bins on the pavement instead of having them collected from our doors and have them left unemptied if the contents fell foul of innumerable petty regulations. What happened when the previous government allowed councils additional power under an act (R.I.P.A.) designed to help prevent terrorism? On the flimsiest of suspicions councils paid private detectives to spy on parents applying for school places and locally tricked residents into undergoing lie detector tests. Councillors like ONeill are totally untrustworthy and disciples of the Im all right Jack school of politics.
To end on a brighter note, James Brokenshire M.P. has come good on his promise to speak up about the inflated salaries of council staff; well up to a point. Ive heard complaints he has not directed his comments directly at Bexley council and that is true, but I feel he has gone as far as he could reasonably be expected to go. I always like to give politicians the benefit of the doubt - until they prove themselves to be beyond redemption.
The postal services are getting back to normal after Bexley councils
failure to grit the snowbound roads and my delivery today included the
response of the Standards Board to whom I referred councillor Craskes unwarranted
personal comments to someone who questioned him about the councils contract with
transport consultants, Parsons Brinckerhoff. A question which was derailed by Craske saying
there was no £4m. contract.
to judge whether that is a deliberate and calculated lie or not.
I wrote to the Mayor to ask about that and why she had permitted Craske to deliberately attempt to belittle a member of the public. The Mayor replied on 30th November to tell me that Craske had done nothing wrong and that she was Gods gift to chairmanship. She couldnt bring herself to mention Craskes false statement about the £4m. contract presumably because even she might not want to deny in writing an obvious attempt to deceive.
The Mayor may believe she is an expert chairman but anyone who goes to a council meeting can see first hand that she deludes herself. However the fact that the Mayor is as talentless as most councillors appear to be is not the issue here, it is that she told me Craske was innocent of breaking the code of practice the day before the Standards Board was due to meet.
The people who warned me that Bexleys Standards Board is rigged and corrupted by that rigging were right. How did councillor Val Clark, the Mayor, know their verdict in advance?
The Standards Board does not deny Craske said what he said but their report proclaims him innocent. The summary is in paragraph 2.3. The board, made up of a majority of councillors, believes that making a totally misleading statement about a contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff and then immediately and without any reason telling the assembled members of the public that the questioner once came bottom of the poll in a council election is not an attempt to belittle him. It is so ridiculous it doesnt really require further comment from me. What possible alternative explanation can there be? It was a totally irrelevant comment made with only one thing in mind. Malice. Paragraph 2.3 claims that Craske sees a correlation between a question which he answered dishonestly and his decision to bring up the result of an old election; as if that excuses digging up the past. I may well seek a further explanation and ask if my interpretation is correct.
Meanwhile we have confirmation that councillors Cheryl Bacon and Nigel Betts are willing to stand behind Craskes deception and bad behaviour. I was wrong about Bacon, I thought she was totally selfish and had little interest beyond grabbing her slice of the near £100k. expenses flowing into her household. Now we know she has an affinity with more direct forms of dishonesty too. Betts we already know is in cahoots with the whistleblower sacker so his integrity rating couldnt go much lower anyway.
I was unable to attend the meeting at the council offices last Thursday where
a representative of the minister for Local Government, Eric Pickles, was due to
address the council and interested members of the public. A few days earlier I
had received the following email from a correspondent who had phoned the government department
so expectations were high.
Dear Mr. Bryant,
Thank you for your telephone call and email. I would be happy to set out the Governments position on senior pay in local government, if I am asked a question about this on Thursday.
Deputy Director (Local Government Efficiency),
Communities and Local Government,
Zone 5/E2, Eland House,
London SW1E 5DU.
Tel. 030 3444 2089
Mob. 078 9435 1390
I am told by someone who was at the meeting that when asked to do what he had promised Mr. Harries refused. Perhaps he had been got at by Bexley council, they made their opposition to Eric Pickles abundantly clear at the last full council meeting on 17th November. Mr. Harries did however say that it is an issue which should concern local M.P.s. Mr. Brokenshire promised to nail his colours to the mast, maybe the other two will follow his lead - assuming he eventually gets around to fulfilling the promise of course.
The News Shoppers website today returns to the case of a resident who was accused by Bexley council
of fraudulently claiming the single persons discount on her council tax. They did so because they
tricked her into a lie detector test (Voice Risk Analysis, V.R.A.) conducted by telephone and decided
on that flimsy evidence that she was not living alone. Now, rather belatedly and after causing
a great deal of stress to the lady they have accepted they were wrong. According to the
Shopper the government department that recommended the system dropped it but Bexley council
carried on using it for assessing the single persons discount. Now a council
spokeswoman has apparently said that Bexley dropped the use of V.R.A. in August.
Someone at Bexley council is telling porkies again. There were cases of V.R.A. abuse reported in the News Shopper on 13th October and 10th November and as if that isnt sufficient confirmation that V.R.A. wasnt dropped in August, I heard the system defended at the council meeting last month.
Councillor Campbell stood up to say that V.R.A. was working well despite the bad publicity. Campbell is the man whose idea of integrity and transparency is to sack a whistleblower who reported paedophilia and drug dealing in his department. Incredible that someone should subject residents to lie detectors, tolerate criminality within his own empire (the police charged his manager but Campbell has yet to take action) and then terminate the employment of those who seek to expose it. But maybe not so incredible for a council driven by greed and known for its incompetence, mismanagement and dishonesty.
this scene is repeated right across the borough. It is my road early
this morning nine days after the last snowfall. I do not suffer any disability,
of advancing years or anything else, but I dread to think how many less
fortunate Bexley residents have been confined to their home by the boroughs
neglect of roads and pavements. Someone told me that it was featured on the local
television news, the worst the TV company could find.
According to the councils Contact Centre only 300 of Bexleys roads are scheduled for gritting, the rest are deliberately left in a dangerous state. The knock-on effect is that we lost the refuse and postal services for a week. And best not to think too much about the complete absence of A&E facilities in the borough! Very nearly the highest tax-raising council in London. Just where does all the money go?
When the Contact Centre man was asked why grit could not be left in bins for residents to use he said it wasnt Bexley councils policy. Later on Radio 4 news I heard the relevant minister say that councils should provide grit for residents to use. It seems that it isnt only on the subject of pay and expenses that Bexley has decided that it knows best.
The Star Letter in todays News Shopper is from Doctor Elizabeth Sawicka
and two others who say they support the temporary closure of Queen Marys A&E.
Im not qualified to comment on medical matters but I can recognise an attempt to deceive
when I see it. Nearly a year ago I made a serious complaint of maladministration by Queen Elizabeth
Hospital and received a reply from Dr. Streather, the Chief Executive. It was full of apologies for minor failings but
totally ignored the main question; standard practice for bureaucrats these days it seems; so I wrote
again and when the reply eventually came Dr. Sawicka signed for the Chief Executive. The two seem to be more
or less interchangeable, she is his Director of Emergency Care and probably the
architect of the A&E closure, not a doctor as you and I might understand the term.
Sawicka said that she couldnt answer my question because the doctor involved had moved on. A doctor friend tells me this was just an attempt to fob me off as various registers make doctors easily traceable. If fibbing to patients is Sawickas stock-in-trade, then writing to a newspaper pretending to be an independent doctor in support of the Chief Executive must come easily.
A Google search for Dr. Elizabeth Sawicka comes up with an intriguing report. It seems that a doctor Elizabeth Sawicka of Herne Hill was arrested in connection with a scam involving selling stolen chest ventilators back to the N.H.S. for up to £4,700 each. Sawicka was reported to be an N.H.S. chest consultant. Coincidence or what? How many Dr. Elizabeth Sawickas can there be in S.E. London? Her husband got two years for the crime. Maybe deceiving a newspaper editor and his readers is small-beer to such a person.
If I hadnt heard it from her own lips I may not have believed that the Leader of Bexley
council would tell a questioner at the council meeting on 17th November
that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government was wrong to think there is no need to
have both a full time council leader and a chief executive and generally rubbish his ideas to bring the council
gravy train to a halt. When his representative visits Bexley in two days time
it should be interesting to see if Bexleys greedy councillors stick with their intransigence. Raising
all the top salaries and expense allowances by inflation beating amounts and then freezing them does not constitute
a cut - its a big tax-payer funded pay rise.
Baroness Hanham has had to pull out of the meeting but the good news is that her substitute, Richard Harries, Deputy Director (Local Government Efficiency) is not afraid to speak his mind. When emailed the question Would you agree to state during your speech to the residents of Bexley that Will Tuckley, Chief Executive of Bexley Council should not be receiving a salary way in excess of the Prime Minister and recommend to the Leader of Bexley Council that she does all in her power to get the salary considerably reduced, as recommended by the Secretary of State?, Richard Harries simply replied that he would be happy to set out the Governments position if asked. You can bet that he will be.
Maybe James Brokenshire M.P. will be further encouraged to get off the fence too.
lasting memory of the council meeting on 17th November is always likely
to be councillor Craskes amazing verbal assault on an elderly resident in the
public gallery. That is already the subject of an official complaint but
hopefully Craskes outburst will be a one-off - well one can hope! What is
perhaps far more worrying is that the Mayor who chaired the meeting did
absolutely nothing about it and was flagrantly against the Labour opposition
and tolerated long, sometimes irrelevant, speeches by her Conservative cohorts.
Councillor Val Clark appeared to be blissfully unaware that she was in the Chair
and not the cheer-leader for a Tory rabble.
I wrote to Mrs. Clark
to express my concern at her complete abdication of the Chairman’s role and just
over two weeks later I have heard absolutely nothing in reply.
It appears that others who felt that Mrs. Clarks chairmanship was abysmal suggested she should undergo some training in the art. This suggestion was ignored by Kevin Fox, Head of Committee Services and Scrutiny at Bexley council when he replied. Neither was there any comment on Craskes outburst. Naturally Foxs failure to answer the questions was promptly brought to his attention. His reply was just as ignorant as you might expect from a council official, I have nothing further to add as I feel I have addressed the points I am able to. Is this code for I cant answer your points, more than my jobs worth or is this representative of the Listening Council not wanting to listen? As my correspondent said in his reply, Thank you for taking the time to completely ignore my e-mail. I think it admirably reinforces the points I was making.
In case anyone should think I am constantly bringing the poor quality of our councillors to attention because of political animosity towards this useless shower, perhaps it is time I owned up and said that the only political party of which I was ever a member is the local Conservatives.
Four weeks ago, in a footnote to a comment about James Brokenshire and the part closure of Queen Marys Hospital
I linked to Mr. Elwyn Bryants correspondence
with the M.P. in which he appeared to be refusing to back Eric Pickles efforts to put an end to the local
authority gravy train of inflated salaries, over-generous expenses and tax-payer
funded waste. It is therefore pleasing to be able to report that Mr. Bryant has
been in touch again to say that James Brokenshire has now made it absolutely
clear to him that he fully supports all of the Secretary of States views on
local council fat cats and he will make his position clear in a public statement
very soon. It is good to have one of our MPs on side and maybe Bexley council
will eventually feel isolated in its defence of fat-cattery.
A month ago I felt that Mr. Brokenshire was being unfairly pilloried (by John Hemming-Clark among others) for the Queen Marys fiasco and made a rather half-hearted defence of his position - or should that be predicament? Since then I have looked into the subject a little more deeply and may return to it if I can find a more direct Bexley council angle. Meanwhile I shall merely report that Mr. Bryant spoke of his M.P. very positively and that other correspondents have done the same.
occasional correspondent has sent me another example of how Bexley council isnt listening
to you and is mainly concerned with working for its own malign purposes. Picking
up on Eric Pickles (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)
assertion that the council gravy train must stop immediately,
he asked our councillors if they would be willing to forgo half of their generous
allowances and save taxpayers nearly half a million pounds a year. Only two bothered
to reply (Simon Windle and
and they didnt answer the question which says quite a lot about our
councillors. They are all desperate to line their own pockets, dont listen to
residents and apart from two are arrogant enough to think such questions can be ignored.
Next Thursday, Eric Pickles second in command Baroness Hanham is due to visit Bexley and hold a meeting to further her bosses views. The public has limited admittance (its too late to book now) and I hope someone will tell the Baroness that Bexleys council Leader, Teresa ONeill believes that Pickles is talking rubbish; for that is what she said at the full council meeting on 17 November, (reported here on the 18th), when questioned about her willingness to implement Pickles view of how local government will be run. I cannot be at Thursdays meeting due to a long-standing prior engagement but you can be sure that a report on whether Baroness Hanham is serious about tackling our local fat cats or whether it is all one big Tory charade and only ordinary folk are expected to suffer will appear here soon afterwards.
Among Mr. Pickles comments are that council executive salaries are ludicrous. That executives have fragile egos and that councils are lining their pockets with your cash. ONeill has repeatedly refused to discuss the matter with anyone. Government seems to have this quaint idea that local councils are comprised of honest individuals with the good of the community in mind. Maybe Baroness Hanham will see the light on Thursday.
28 November I reported how the councils leader
Teresa ONeill and her C.E.O. Will Tuckley were supposed to be at a
Roadshow at the Central Library. It was billed as an opportunity to listen to
members of the public, the nuisances who pay their wages, but it was cancelled because, according
to their communications officer Mr. Ferry, they didn’t want to meet people that way.
From another member of the disappointed audience comes a report originating once again
from Mr. Ferry; all nine planned Roadshows are now officially cancelled. I understand
that the council Leader went to Thamesmead at 07:30 Wednesday 1st December to
hear what the Chamber of Commerce had to say. Members who paid the £15 entrance fee could
say their piece - and partake of a rather nice breakfast. But hardly the same as a
public meeting is it? Carefully selecting the audience is more likely to secure the
right answers and a meeting at the Innovation Centre
nicely reinforces the stink of corruption. As if there isnt enough of that down there already.
The number of new contacts made through the website continues to snowball, two by email and one by phone yesterday. I also stumbled across a new website which at first sight doesnt look as though the owner is the greatest fan of Bexley council. Thats two new anti-Bexley council websites within two weeks. Maybe our bovine council should listen to what that may be telling them. Click the brown cow and be prepared to be amazed at the latest bit of council stupidity.
than 48 hours after the first snow fall and no sign of attention to road or
footpath by your listening council. This part of the B213 (Abbey Road, Belvedere) has 20
scheduled off-peak buses per hour, some parts have 28, and normally you would see a line of
parked cars along the road. Today there are just two which have been stuck there
overnight. The ultra-observant may notice that the bus is a 99 which has been
diverted from Woolwich Road, Upper Belvedere because that road is impassable
to large vehicles. The cost to the local economy must be very considerable and
guess which clueless councillor oversees the relevant department. I suppose that
all the regular gestapo trapping sites are well gritted.
There was an interesting judgment on the law of libel in the Supreme Court yesterday. It was ruled that the defence of fair comment which relied on blogs etc. providing enough information for readers to make up their own mind about an opinion, should be updated to allow for the fact that Twitter and similar facilities do not allow for lengthy presentation of the facts, so in future the full story need not be published along with the comment. I shall endeavour to continue to provide pictorial and documentary evidence of Bexley councils failures.
I went along to Blackfen a week ago the gestapo car I had
hoped to see drove off just as I arrived, unlucky because I had been told it was
there most of the time so I went back for another look and sure enough there it
was doing exactly what the local traders are so annoyed about.
There are only seven parking spaces in the road and no car park now that the council have sold it to a private buyer, so its 40 pence for a quick half hour shop. The premises on the north side of the road are blessed with their own forecourts which should make things easier but instead they provide a trap. The tyre fitters is the primary example of how it works.
Cars have to enter in a forwards direction, to do otherwise would fill the work place full of fumes; and then there is the wheel tracking rig to be considered. There is room for one car to be waiting off road for a fitting bay to become free but when the first car is ready to leave the one behind must shuffle backwards into the busy road adjacent to a junction. So its not the easiest of manoeuvres and depending on circumstances it can take a little while to safely accomplish. To minimise the danger it is tempting to not retreat fully into the road and that is when councillor Craskes vindictive and nasty nature comes into play. His cameras are trained on that access to SETyres almost permanently. Stop on it even for a moment and you get a fine in the post. Police advice is that it cannot be parking, it is just a legitimate driving manoeuvre, but when did Craske ever bother himself with what the law might say?
In the eleven months of 2010 close to 1,400 SETyre customers are known to have received a parking ticket for momentarily stopping on the pavement crossover in preference to holding up the traffic passing along the road. SETyres have begun legal proceedings against Bexley council and who can blame them, they have a business to run and people to keep from the dole queue. Does Craske and the rest of the talentless crew in charge at the Civic Centre care? No they dont, their expenses pot is their only priority.
Blackfen Road has been given a permanent page under the Roads index with a different selection of photographs and text. SETyres head office have given permission for their premises to be featured here.