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Bonkers Blog November 2011

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29 November - Bexley defies the Information Commissioner again

Last month the Information Commissioner (IC) sent a nine page letter to Bexley council explaining why they should answer a year old Freedom of Information (FOI) request. The question Bexley council did not want to answer was whether or not there had been a pay off to a senior legal officer who left the council in unexplained circumstances immediately after the attempted cover up of former leader Ian Clement’s misuse of his council provided credit card.

The question did not ask for the amount of any payment to be revealed, only if there was one or not. Bexley council refused to answer and employed a range of delaying tactics. Eventually the IC gave them 35 calendar days to respond. The 35 days expired but after a reminder Bexley council reluctantly replied.

Their letter began by quoting the Employment Rights Act 1996 and how it prevents disclosure of the information held, all of which the IC had explained in great detail did not apply in this case and contrary to his advice said “there is no reason of weight to breach that confidence. Our revised answer to your request is limited to confirming the existence of information. This letter constitutes a fresh refusal notice, under Section 17(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000”.

All Bexley council is prepared to do, despite the nine page explanation from the Commissioner of why they are wrong, is to confirm that they know the answer to the question. Bexley council continues to be desperate to cover up every aspect of their leader’s fraudulent use of a credit card and their refusal notice will be put through the appeals process yet again.

I know of two recent instances of a new technique to avoid answering FOI requests; Bexley council declines with the excuse that the information is just about to be put on the council’s website - and then of course it isn’t. All responses of that nature should be considered to be refusals. The latest example, only a day or two old, proved to be a duplicate of one asked by someone else and answered more than a month ago in the same way.

 

28 November - Christmas cheer

Shop Romford Outer London FundAs reported on Saturday there is no sign that Bexley council is going to come good on councillor Linda Bailey’s sound-bite to provide some free parking in the run up to Christmas funded by Boris Johnson’s Outer London Fund. No Outer London borough apart from Bexley charges on Sundays anyway but some have announced further relaxations to parking charges from the rather stingy one day only to the far more generous every weekend until Christmas. Bromley, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Havering, Hillingdon, Kingston, Lewisham and Merton are among the Outer London Boroughs that have announcements on their website Home pages, most with far more spaces available than even councillor Craske could invent.

Bexley as you might expect, despite councillor Bailey’s summer tease, has nothing but if you use the search facility you might discover that councillor Craske plans to provide more spaces at the Civic Centre car park at the normal rates - but then you may notice that the announcement is dated 2010. Does nobody keep Bexley’s website in order?

 

27 November (Part 2) - Number’s up for Will Tuckley - Click image for readable version

Petition against excessive salariesThe target figure of 2,200 signatures drawn from every ward in the borough has now been reached. The petitioners wish to thank all those who took part, those who shook them warmly by the hand and those who invited them into their homes to hear a variety of stories revealing deep seated distrust of Bexley council. So now what?

The next council meeting is scheduled for 22nd February 2012 but well before that date the petition will have to be formally presented. Despite it being exactly in accord with Communities Secretary Eric Pickles’ recommendations, expect no help from him. Expect nothing from Bexley council either. They will go out of their way to avoid discussing the issue but it will be interesting to see in exactly which way Bexley council will try to subvert democracy in order to protect its own.

 

27 November (Part 1) - Bexley.gov.uk

Bexley's website imroved?As you might guess I am a frequent visitor to Bexley’s equivalent of the Hampton Court Maze, the council website, and when I need to compare it with the sites provided by other local authorities I am usually struck by how ugly and difficult to use it is. I produced some screen shots of Bexley’s site misbehaving last month and this week while researching the car park charges in Bexley and adjacent boroughs I saw the announcement that Bexley’s site has been improved “to enhance the overall viewing experience for visitors”. It is true that the alphabetic index no longer disappears entirely on small screens but I didn’t regard that an improvement because when I clicked on ‘P’ for parking charges nothing happened. Then after a long delay I was presented with ‘Page not found’. Other letters were the same. It was still happening early this morning but now appears to be fixed.

Something else that needs to be fixed is that clicking on the council’s logo does not link back to the Home page. Surely that is pretty much standard practice on every commercial and local authority website? You may also notice that Bexley council is allowing advertising to clutter up its pages. I don’t mean to brag but my screen is 2,400 pixels wide (two 1920x1200 screens side by side in portrait mode) and unless I drag my window out to around 2,000 pixels the adverts remain stubbornly partially off the screen. Bexley seem to be quite good at indecent blogging but not quite up to designing a decent ‘overall viewing experience for visitors’.
Lost adverts
For Bexley’s ‘webteam’. As you will see, half the advert and the all important Buy Now button is lost beyond the right hand margin using Internet Explorer. Firefox and Chrome OK.

 

26 November - Bailey baloney

Christmas parking to be free Christmas parking isn't freeFour months ago councillor Linda Bailey hit the local headlines with her announcement that she was seeking funding from the Mayor of London for improvements to Bexley’s town centres which would include free parking for the four weekends preceding Christmas. Boris coughed up the money and Bexley council has announced its Christmas parking arrangements. There are no incentives to shop locally, car parking charges will remain among the highest in South East London. Where has Boris’s money gone? More of ours will go to Bluewater and Westfield (Stratford).

Following the publication of the table of local parking charges several readers have been busy with their calculators. Paul from far away Bideford calculated that it would cost £2,505 to occupy all of Bexley’s 2,817 spaces for an hour which works out at an average 89 pence. Bromley averages 54 pence, Greenwich 76 pence away from the Cutty Sark and £1.20 if including it and Dartford 50 pence. Craske will probably cling to the crumb that Lewisham is more expensive than Bexley but even there some car parks are free and others allow 15 minutes for 35 pence. There is nothing that generous in Bexley.

How much to park in Bideford Paul?

P.S. He says that the fee is 60 pence per hour everywhere with the option of a £55 per year season ticket. How much is season ticket in Bexley? Oh, yes. £684 in most car parks, £954 in Bexleyheath centre. Bideford is controlled by a council of 36 members, 18 of whom are Conservative.

 

25 November (Part 3) - Just a family affair

Ellershaw and Ainge marriedAfter it was revealed that Bexley’s Director of Environment, Peter Ellershaw, and his Deputy Director Antonia Ainge were married to each other, a few questions were asked. I have difficulty understanding why the situation is allowed, no reputable company would tolerate it, and how does it affect the usual work related things like annual leave - do they go on holiday separately to ensure there is always someone there to keep things ticking over - and appraisals and career path and proper scrutiny of decisions? However it seems that all is well because Chief Executive Will Tuckley approves. He has “arrangements” in place to “ensure objectivity in key matters enabling appropriate supervision and control”.

When asked what qualifications Mrs. Ellershaw had to justify her appointment Bexley council declined to say except that councillors were “wholly satisfied she met the requirements of the post”. Why the secrecy? Are we not allowed to know if the Deputy Director of Leisure, Arts and Tourism has any professionally recognised expertise in those areas?

If Bexley council and its top brass wishes to avoid accusation of nest feathering and nepotism they will have to do a bit better than hide under the duvet.

 

25 November (Part 2) - Bexley council pays out £12,741.08 compensation for maladministration

Councillor Katie PerriorThe Local Government Ombudsman has taken the unusual step of ordering that a resident’s legal costs be reimbursed by Bexley council as well as awarding her £5,000 for “distress, outrage, inconvenience, time and trouble”.

The case involved an issue of child protection, councillor Katie Perrior’s area of responsibility. Bexley council was held to have neither produced nor implemented a clear investigation plan, inappropriately questioned, failed to pursue reasonable lines of enquiry and failed to properly record evidence and decisions.

The full report may be read on the Local Government Ombudsman’s website.

 

25 November (Part 1) - Your say - Guest blog written by a reader

Phone a fib

I would not know what shopkeepers think about the phone parking arrangements but the residents of Townley Road are delighted. Apart from Sundays there are now only ever one or two cars parked in the road making it much easier to access properties. Thanks Bexley council but the telephone scheme cannot be doing much for Craske’s money pit since even the one or two which do park generally have disabled permits.


The Black Horse

Bexley Council has a long history of quietly agreeing significant changes with developers after initial approval. An example of this was ASDA Bexleyheath. Residents were promised and initial approval was given on the basis of drawings which showed a red brick facade generally in keeping with other buildings in the area. When the scaffolding and plastic sheeting was finally removed, residents were appalled by the black glass monstrosity which now stands. There were many complaints and many residents still boycott the store. The response was merely that the council had approved the change. Whether the council received any consideration in lieu to approve the change or brown envelopes changed hands I would not know.


The houses of Townley Road have off road parking, those in Oaklands Road which joins it are not so fortunate. When the petitioners went down that road the residents were furious at having to use Craske’s phone parking system.

Craske has again been bragging in this week’s News Shopper that Bexley has more car parking facilities and is cheaper than any other South East London borough. To help him realise how wrong that is a table of charges in adjacent boroughs has been provided. Unless you insist on parking next to the Cutty Sark or the Maritime Museum in Greenwich nowhere is more expensive than Bexley, only Bexley provides no free parking at all and as for Bexley having most spaces… is he completely stupid too? List of Craske’s lies.

 

24 November (Part 2) - Ken rattles Bexley council - Click either image to read the ‘Facts’

Parking for Free Bexley council panic Every now and again I get the impression that Bexley council is worried that their antics are being subjected to too much public scrutiny. Yesterday’s News Shopper gave its front page to Ken Livingstone’s visit on Monday when traders told him exactly what they thought of Bexley Conservatives setting out to ruin their businesses with ever higher parking charges and monthly fees for putting a flower pot outside their doors. A phone call from a friend on the inside said Bexley council is not sure where to hide and 46 views of this page yesterday from the House of Commons suggests they can’t.

One thing Bexley Conservatives did do yesterday was hand out anti-Ken leaflets to commuters as they got off their trains. A kind lady took a picture of them on her mobile phone. Click the image for a better view.

Even though the ‘Facts’ may be true the same sort of list could be compiled against Bexley Conservatives. I think I’ll make a start by making a table of parking charges to see if councillor Craske’s claim that Bexley is cheapest is a great big lie or not.

 

24 November (Part 1) - Phone a fib

Ken in Welling TwitterThere is quite a lot of comment on the web, Twitter etc. following Ken Livingstone’s visit to Bexley about the way the Conservative council has whacked up parking charges so I thought I might let you know what Craske’s friends are saying about the pay by phone system.

“Shoppers and other borough visitors are now delighted. In the run up to Christmas, car park users will be able to shop at their own convenience in the area by simply ringing the payment line or topping up over iPhone & Android application and not be concerned about a parking charge notice. Local businesses/traders in the area now have more time allocated to them by customers due to the efficiency and time saved with this new system. Shop owners are happy with this all new relaxed shopping experience the system has provided and have seen an increase in customer stay as a result.”

So shopkeepers are now noticing people staying for longer in their shops. Can this be true? Please tell me if it is. How I came to be on the propaganda circulation list for this sort of stuff I do not know. Bonkers must be going places.

 

23 November (Part 2) - The Black Horse has bolted - click image for photo gallery (3 images)

Black Horse Black Horse with scaffolding Black Horse demolishedThe Black Horse is historically important to Sidcup as it was a staging post in the days of horse drawn carriages. Its reputation as an important destination for coaches made the name Sidcup well known and persuaded the railway company to retain the name of Sidcup when it built its station in Lamorbey. Now the listed Black Horse Inn is no more.

Planning permission had been granted for an 84 bedroom Travelodge and a Waitrose supermarket with the retention of the historic facade. Hillingdon Developments started work, hitching their scaffold to the facade without seeing any need to secure it at ground level as the photograph reveals. Then they asked Bexley council to vary the planning permission to revert to the original idea. The total destruction of the building.

In typical Bexley style the council did not bother to publicise the new proposal widely. The revised plan limped on to its website just a few hours before the Planning Committee met to consider it on 3rd November. Even now only the old plan is available in Sidcup Library. The new planning application was supported only by the developer’s claim that the facade was unstable. Not so unstable that they felt unable to use it as the support for their scaffold but too unstable for it to be incorporated into a new building.

Bexley council decided against getting a second opinion from an independent consultant and further consultation with the conservationists who had been so strongly against the loss of the facade in the first place. Bexley council promptly keeled over before the developers 11th hour request. David Bryce-Smith, Bexley’s Deputy Director (Development, Housing and Community Safety) has admitted in a letter that the public were effectively excluded from the decision due to the lack of notice, which he blames on the developer.

An extract from the plan - the Waitrose store to be built on the site of the Black Horse - is available here. The Travelodge is to be built between Waitrose and St. John’s Road to the east.

No one knows what the new facade will look like which is of great concern to the Sidcup Community Group and others who have watched Bexley council’s maneuverings over this issue. A member has said “I am truly very concerned about the conduct of the planning officers in both this application and others. 15 Market Parade, (the old Job Centre) Sidcup High Street, has been redeveloped. There have been failures, particularly by the planning department, to ensure that the redevelopment complies with the submitted plans.

At the September meeting of the Planning Committee Mr. Ron Gee pointed out to councillors that the Sidcup Morrisons’ delivery yard was conditioned to close at 10:30 pm and not 11:30 pm as shown in the revised planning conditions. Bexley’s Head of Development Control told councillors that Mr. Gee was wrong. Subsequently the Planning Department had to apologise both to him and all the Planning Councillors and amend that condition. This is reported in the Minutes of the 3 November planning meeting.”

Morrisons shareholder on Bexley’s Planning Committee.

 

23 November (Part 1) - Livingstone lays into Bexley council. Craske lies about Bexley council

I was tipped off by Notomob yesterday that Ken Livingstone was very critical of Bexley council’s unfair and spiteful anti-motorist regime during his visit on Monday. It was the Bonkers report on the situation at SETyres in Blackfen that brought Notomob to our streets and since then we have seen Bexley’s refusal to clarify the confusing (and much criticised by the parking adjudicator) disabled minibuses only signs from the Bowling Centre car park or to provide clear instructions in those roads where on pavement parking is allowed. Again the subject of parking adjudicator criticism. Apparently councillor Craske has responded to Mr. Livingstone’s comments. According to Craske in the News Shopper…


• Bexley is issuing fewer parking fines than when Labour was in power here. Presumably it is because revenue is down as motorists comply with the regulations that Craske is having to resort to underhand tactics and the deliberate (and admitted by his Parking Manager) flouting of the London wide code of practice on the use of mobile CCTV.

• “Bexley car parking charges are the lowest in SE London”, which we all know is an outrageous lie.

• “Tories in Bexley have frozen council tax in the past two years.” That is another outrageous lie, Bexley council has frozen tax only for the current year and that was only because the government grant was arranged in such a way it was near impossible to do otherwise. This is the second time recently that Bexley council has tried to change history by claiming it has frozen its very high level of tax for two years. Who does Craske think he is? Joseph Goebbels?

 

22 November - Well out of order - Click image to read why James Cleverly is ‘well out of order’

James CleverlyIf I had known in advance that Ken Livingstone was speaking in the United Reform Church in Geddes Place at the same time as the police meeting in the Civic Centre I may have gone there instead. I’d heard he was in Welling earlier listening to the same widespread discontent with Bexley council that he could have read here. The Bexley Community Policing Engagement Group meeting was a friendly and informal affair with no real connection to Bexley council. Chief Superintendent Stringer said Bexley has 4·19 crimes per month per thousand of population. Seems a lot but the London average is 9·55. The before and after contact with the audience proved more interesting to me.

There was a complaint that Bonkers cannot be read at public libraries, a councillor (†) said that Bexley council’s obscene blog wasn’t a crime and Chief Inspector Ian Broadbridge when offered a Bonkers flyer said "Oh, Olly Cromwell’s blog”. None of them have got a clue, no wonder Chief Inspector Gowen named Bonkers on his list of forthcoming prosecutions - and still not apologised for it. I had hoped to ask him why but he slipped away too quickly.

The silliest comment came from Bexley’s London Assembly Member James Cleverly. He said Bonkers is “Well out of order”. Not Bexley council’s dishonesty and criminality is well out of order, it’s their critics who are at fault according to the man we chose to represent us at County Hall. Another politician with a totally distorted sense of morality. Couldn’t have been worse if I had gone to see Ken.

One thing that was said at the meeting needs to be reported. In response to a question from Elwyn Bryant, Borough Commander Stringer said the investigation into the obscene blog was still continuing. A surprise to me because I have a letter saying it’s ended, documents from Olly Cromwell saying it was not being proceeded with and just to confuse things, an email from Stringer himself saying he does not know one way or the other. Why can’t Stringer keep us informed? All the evidence and signed statements from Bexleyheath police to say nothing is happening has led to strong criticism of Stringer from me, now I have to consider whether it was wrong. On the other hand, if the investigation is still in progress why was Elwyn allowed to request a copy of the file and be told a month later that it was not in the public interest to reveal it? If the file is still active the correct course of action would be to reject the request at the outset. Something doesn’t add up.

I wouldn’t entirely dismiss the idea that the file has been reopened and it is Elwyn or me being investigated to see if they can pin anything on us and let councillors (or their accomplices) go free. Down in Sussex things aren’t much different. A Conservative activist there Tweeted that a journalist was a whore and the police refused her complaint. She said the police adopt a selective crime fighting policy. I won’t argue with that.

† He said he was a councillor but I didn’t recognise him and even after looking at their pictures I’m not totally sure with my identification. So no name until I am.

 

21 November (Part 2) - Survey Monkeys

Survey MonkeyTen or twelve years ago I was asked to join a Bexley council focus group which was conducted by post. The council said I had been randomly selected to give my opinion on Bexley’s plans and achievements. At the time I had a part time job with a West End company doing the same thing so you could say I took a professional interest. I soon found that all the questions were loaded and it wasn’t possible to tick a box that adequately expressed a negative view. After complaining about that a couple of times Bexley council said I wasn’t a suitable candidate for their focus group. Things have not improved since, Bexley council’s surveys still show every sign of being fixed. “Do you think that council tax levels should be kept as low as possible?” A high proportion of yes answers has been taken as agreement to all cuts and all price hikes.

Bexley council and the Conservatives are still doing surveys, they were in Hurst Road, Bexley at the weekend asking about the level of contentment with council services. Not perhaps the most sensible approach, descending on residents with no warning, if thoughtful comments are required. One resident felt pressured into saying something and expressed unhappiness with the refuse collection. She was told that within the next month or so the green bin is to be emptied weekly. I seriously doubt that as Bexley council has recently announced they are sticking with the status quo. An answer to be taken just as seriously as the results of any Bexley survey perhaps?

Another Bexley resident was approached at his door by someone threatening a £5,000 fine for not completing the electoral register form. He asked to be shown the statute that demanded he register and his caller knew nothing about that, no note of its title, no leaflet providing the details. Nothing. The caller was unable to provide any support for her claim of a £5,000 fine and was sent away with the proverbial flea in her ear. Personally I can’t see why anyone should object to being on the Electoral Roll and I suspect it ultimately deprives the council of its rightful revenues from central government. On the other hand the incident once again demonstrates Bexley council’s total lack of professionalism and possibly it’s lack of regard for the law too. At the very least you’d expect them to equip their representatives with the tools to do the job.

Survey Monkey ; Bexley council’s on-line survey partner.

 

21 November (Part 1) - Bexley Community Policing Engagement Group

BCPEGThere is to be a meeting of the Bexley Community Policing Engagement Group at the Civic Centre at 7 p.m this evening. Their poster says “Have your say regarding issues of crime”. If I were to attend I would like to ask…

• When the Chief Executive of Bexley council makes a false allegation against a resident (posting blogs on Bexley is Bonkers when he most certainly did not), why did Bexleyheath police accept that complaint and without any check whatsoever threaten that resident and the blogger with arrest?

• When a Bexley councillor and magistrate makes a mistaken or false allegation of a crime, why did Bexleyheath police fail to carry out even the most rudimentary of checks before charging the falsely accused resident?

• When Bexley council commits a serious crime against a resident, why did Bexleyheath police dismiss it as a “counter-allegation”, fail to investigate it, continue to inform the victims and their MPs that the investigation was thorough and ongoing long after it had ceased and pronounce any enquiry into Bexley council’s crime to be “Not in the public interest”?

• Is Bexleyheath police under Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer fundamentally corrupt?

 

20 November - Something to smile about

Leader of Richmond Council Leader of Bexley CouncilBexley council doesn’t have any certification for its mobile CCTV vehicles. Actually that is wrong, the cars are certified, it’s the cameras and recording gear that isn’t. They don’t even deny it but claim another document is just as good. “PATAS adjudicators are wrong and need to be educated” says Bexley council’s Traffic and Parking Manager Tina Brooks. In due course we will find out if that is true. Meanwhile, over in Richmond where PATAS ruled against their uncertificated cameras, their Council Leader, Lord True, has announced the intention to permanently withdraw their CCTV cars and relaxation of parking restrictions across the board recognising that a rigid regime of persecuting the motorist is wrecking the local economy.

“Councils should not be in the business of trap now, talk later” he said and we need a “fair parking agenda to bring life back to our high streets.” Councillor Peter Craske please note.

Maybe the names of the council leaders are apposite? True to his electorate on the one hand and a dismissive “Oh, kneel” from the other. Can you imagine the scene when Boris Johnson’s special advisor to the Outer London Boroughs attempts to lecture an intelligent democrat on how to run a dictatorship council?

Read a report in the Richmond and Twickenham Times.

 

19 November - Blocked roads. Blockheads

Road closedHave you tried to drive to or through Bexley any evening this month? If you have you will have seen that Bexley is closed. Goodness know what effect that is having on the pubs and restaurants there. When I approached via Bourne Road on 2nd November, all three roads leading off the mini-roundabout were closed. If you were heading towards the church 150 yards from the roundabout you were sent on a detour through Sidcup, Footscray and the North Cray Road which is six miles (due to the railway line and the River Cray) even if you know all the short cuts.

On two subsequent occasions, my destination being in the village centre, I was allowed to drive from the roundabout towards the station and park off road but later found myself trapped and got away only under the guidance of the contractor’s staff who removed barriers. On 2nd November before it became obvious what was going on I asked the man at the barrier, “Is this utility work or the Bexley b·····ds” and he replied “Bexley. You know what they are like.” Sadly we do. Blame Mike Frizoni and his cabinet member boss, Peter Craske.

In the middle of the borough the main route from Welling to Bexleyheath has been closed for months. Currently the detour is from Crook Log along Brampton Road as far as the roundabout at King Harold’s Way, then back via Long Lane. More than three miles out of your way, though no local driver would be fool enough to take the recommended route.


Woolwich Road, Abbey WoodFrom 5th December it’s the turn of the North of the borough to be disrupted by Mike Frizoni. Woolwich Road (A206) between the traffic lights at Knee Hill and New Road a couple of hundred yards to the East is to be closed for resurfacing. The detour is along Brampton Road again to the same King Harold’s Way roundabout (approaching from the other side of it for non-local readers) and then off towards Belvedere village via Bedonwell and Nuxley Roads. A mile or so added to your journey via normally quiet residential roads.

Woolwich Road between Knee Hill and New Road is, as local readers will know, a dual carriageway, two lanes in each direction. But Mike Frizoni is going to close the whole lot at the same time. When he is done with that he is going to close Knee Hill, the main route to Thamesmead, for three days minimum. Closing roads totally for maintenance has become Bexley council’s lazy norm.

Not everyone at Bexley council is a thoughtless idiot though. Let me tell you about Sophie McKenna in the Highways Department. Bexley council gave a licence to UK Power (UKP) to dig up the pavement for electrical work. They did so leaving the resident there unable to put his car on his drive when he returned home. His road is fully yellow lined. When the work was done and the hole remained open he spoke to Samara at UKP who told him the hole wouldn’t be filled for another ten days. She promised to have metal plates put over the hole. Nothing happened but Sam at UKP arranged for the hole to be filled in. Unfortunately the pavement wasn’t restored and the barriers were left in place. Jake at UKP was useless but Gary said no metal plates could be provided as someone would steal them. So thanks to UKP and Bexley’s licence a resident was prevented from getting his car off the road for a week. Bexley council’s Highways Department were then on the receiving end of a rather angry phone call. Sophie answered it, was polite and understanding, said she would be on to UKP immediately and was as good as her word. Within hours UKP finished the job they should have completed a week earlier. It’s a pity Frizoni shows no understanding whatsoever and all the wrong people get promoted.

 

18 November (Part 2) - Just a windbag

Grant ShappsYou can’t go more than two or three days without reading in a newspaper criticism of local authorities by government ministers. Yesterday’s Telegraph was typical; it reported local government minister Grant Shapps saying councils that cut services have poor leadership. “Well managed councils can do more for less through embracing transparency and more joint working. Councils which hike charges are guilty of poor leadership and poor management.” More transparency? He’s not been to Bexley has he? Hiking charges equals poor leadership and poor management? Ah, maybe he has.

These politicians are all hot air, Eric Pickles in particular is, to use the vernacular, all piss and wind. Just a week ago when asked to be a little more specific than sound bites for the media, he said ,“As each local authority is an individual employer in its own right it is for them to determine how best to organise and pay their workforces.” He goes on to say that “an authority can reject your petition if it regards it as inappropriate.” So a petition that follows Eric Pickles advice can be deemed inappropriate because it follows his advice. This is not me being mischievous with some generic statement about petitions, those quotations come from Mr. Pickles in a letter to Elwyn Bryant, the organiser of the Bexley petition. You can see how close to Bexley’s unsavoury crew Eric Pickles is in the photograph below. Scheming cohorts do you think?

I never did believe that Elwyn’s petition would be anything more than an opportunity to embarrass Bexley council as much as we can. It will be yet another example of their commitment to lining their own pockets at the expense of residents. Elwyn is not of course devoid of ideas on how to maximise that embarrassment and is grateful for those received from Bonkers readers after he passed the 2,000 barrier yesterday. If you have any more bright ideas I’ll pass them on to him.

Councilwatch on the same subject.

 

18 November (Part 1) - 10 things you didn’t know about…

Nice collectionYesterday’s link to Jasper the dog provoked a lot of interest. You can always tell when a nerve has been touched because the number of hits from Parliament and the Greater London Authority goes up, and the phone rings and the anonymous (and some not anonymous) messages come in.

Messages ranged from the ‘who the hell is James Hunt?’ variety to well; I’m not saying. James Hunt tells all about himself on his website.

On council matters he says he is chairman of Children Services Committee, governor of Eastcote Primary School and “a keen supporter of the Bexley Youth Council and in promoting Bexley Youth Services at every opportunity”.


Cub scoutHe is a big wig Scout master, County Executive of the Greater London South East Scouts no less and has been in the Air Training Corps. He has a Bachelor’s degree in theatre and ran a children’s talent agency on the back of it.

One of my correspondents was jumping to conclusions…

“Will the James Hunt news prompt Barnbrook to begin canvassing or leafleting in East Wickham for a third time?” That is so wrong on so many counts. There has been no real news about James Hunt. We know he is a dab hand at Google blogspot, we know he has a dog called Jasper and we know his style of writing when impersonating a Springer Spaniel. Presumably his stage skills come in handy there, but no more is revealed as yet.

I was not aware that Michael Barnbrook had canvassed in East Wickham twice before, I’ll have to ask him. I know that he stood for the British National Party in 2009 and lost by eight votes and I know he will never do that again because he isn’t a member of that party any more - or any other. He once confided to me that joining the BNP thinking he could change the leadership’s corrupt ways was a huge mistake and an act of supreme arrogance on his part. Extending his mission to clean up politics to the BNP ultimately failed, Nick Griffin ensured that. If Michael Barnbrook ever stands in an election again I feel sure it would be as an Independent.

Michael is not really a party political animal. He brought down Derek Conway (former Conservative MP for Old Bexley) and almost single handedly pursued Ian Clement when he was Boris’s second in command at the GLA. He also played his part in the jailing of four expense fiddling Labour MPs. He is not a man who tolerates cheats and liars and is busy right now formulating letters to the Information Commissioner and the police at the highest level about those we have in Bexley.

And to those who ask why the national press has not become involved in Bexley politics, all I can say at present is “Patience, patience”.

Michael Barnbrook’s confidence betrayed with his permission.

 

17 November (Part 3) - More bad news for Will Tuckley

The number of petition signatures broke the 2,000 barrier today. It will carry on to 2,200 because Bexley council are bound to come up with a silly excuse about people who have died or moved away otherwise.

Now that that chore is nearly complete the petitioners plan on handing out extracts from this month’s blog to people entering or passing all the local Conservative clubs. I’ve already had phone calls from members registering their disgust at the content of that blog, everyone needs to know.

 

17 November (Part 2) - Coincidences and lies?

Google Blogspots
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Boris and James HuntThose of you who looked at the obscene blog may have noticed that it was published at ’blogspot’; Google by any other name. Google’s rules are rather lax, they don’t much care who publishes what, but they do have rules on impersonation. It’s strictly forbidden. I have no idea how many blogspots are impersonations but I did come across another the other day; The Adventures of Jasper. Jasper is a dog. Not any old dog, he is Bexley councillor James Hunt’s dog. Probably he hasn’t complained of impersonation to Google. How lucky that he has a ‘Master’ so skilled at Blogspotting and able to write as if he were a dog.

Read the obscene blog again, if you can bring yourself to do so. Then read Jasper’s blog. (Click on the right hand of the composite image above.) Got any thoughts on the similarity of style? Yes I thought that too.

Returning to Chief Superintendent Stringer’s failed investigation of this crime I feel it is worth bringing to your attention something that may not have been much mentioned before. Both Elwyn Bryant’s MP and my own, Teresa Pearce, have been very helpful to us. In mid-July both agreed to ask Commander Stringer how things were progressing. Three weeks later there had been no reply and I was told that Stringer had been “prodded”. At the same time Elwyn’s MP, James Brokenshire, told mine that he had “been assured it is being investigated”. On 10 August, I, my MP and presumably Mr. Brokenshire too, received near identical letters from Commander Stringer. He said to Teresa Pearce, “I am very sorry that this investigation has been very lengthy but unfortunately these matters do take time. Enquiries are still ongoing”.

Police statement
So what should we make of that? Will Tuckley says he is not aware of any police investigation, Chief Superintendent Stringer says that enquiries are still ongoing when he writes on 10th August, but according to a signed statement by the policeman who laid the charges against Olly Cromwell, the enquiries were abandoned after he visited Will Tuckley on 7th July.

What sort of Chief Executive sits through a meeting with Detective Chief Inspector Alison Funnell and is unaware of it and goes on to say so in a Freedom of Information request? What sort of Chief Superintendent tries to pull the wool over the eyes of the Minister for Crime and Security?

Councillor Seymour has done us all an enormous favour hasn’t he?

Councillor James Hunt’s blog with links to Jasper’s blog. Screen grab Jasper’s blog quick before it disappears. I have.
The three paragraphs of the police report are extracts from the same document. Apologies for the bad grammar and the rather obvious omission of a ‘not’.
Click on the web browser image above (left or right portions) to go to the relevant blogs.

 

17 November (Part 1) - Councillors and lolly. Not to be parted

Lollipop ladyEveryone in the borough gets propaganda sheets from the Conservatives every so often. I ridiculed my last one a while ago. It doesn’t stop them. In the one currently going around Bexley village they say they have saved the School Crossing Patrols. Who proposed cutting them in the first place? Your friend and mine councillor Peter Craske. An abolition proposal put up by him as an ‘Aunt Sally’ to be sacrificially knocked down again. How cynical can Bexley council get? The mini-Pravda goes on to repeat the age old lies about the public gasping at Labour’s tax proposals. They didn’t, they jeered the Conservatives, and the porkie about having one of the lowest council tax rates in Outer London, and many more that there is no time to report as something more interesting is afoot. See next blog.

The Tory’s fib-sheet was printed by Newsquest Media, a branch of the same company that publishes The News Shopper which carries Bexley council’s statutory notices, but not yet the scandal of their obscene blogging. Other fine newspapers are available.

 

16 November - The two faces of Bexley

Mayor Ray Sams I think the image that will stick with me longest following my morning in Bexley Magistrates Court last week wasn’t Olly in the glass cage or the District Judge criticising the prosecution for having no “particulars” of the charge ready, what I found most moving was the young woman, 22 I think she said she was, in the dock pleading guilty to prostitution. Not a hardened criminal, not a drug addict, no drink problems. The prosecution confirmed all that. She was there because she was at her wits end about how to pay the rent and stood on a street corner not far from where I live at 2 a.m. Being an amateur and first timer the police spotted her straight away. £50 fine and a £15 surcharge (stealth tax). I felt like fishing a few banknotes out of my pocket and going a little way to negate some of the damage inflicted by a legal system which is so much more effective than the welfare services. Maybe I am turning into a closet socialist in my old age.

Today we have the News Shopper giving its front page to the revelations that Bexley is among the very worst places in London for poverty and highlights Teresa Pearce MP’s campaign to have something done about it. Meanwhile mayor Ray Sams is pictured (Page 15) sampling ale at a beer festival. Perhaps I should call him mayor Nero, I’m sure there must be someone in Bexley who could put him in touch with a fiddle.

The North of the borough can be a pretty forbidding place. A BT engineer fixing a problem on my line said that one of the biggest cause of faults in Thamesmead is people diverting lines to get free calls, it’s probably more profitable to steal the cable nowadays. My journalist daughter did a feature on Thamesmead that revealed there were roads in Thamesmead in which every single house was being purchased with a fraudulently obtained mortgage.

Last week in Thamesmead I stood behind a pretty young girl around 20 years of age trying to buy 10 cigarettes on a credit card. There was insufficient credit available. She tried to pay cash but didn’t have enough but she managed buy the cancer sticks with a handful of small change and what little credit was left on the card. But for all that the majority of people in these poor areas are likely to be decent honest citizens doing the best they can after falling on hard times and some of the cases featured by the News Shopper make for disturbing reading. How do you bring up a gaggle of kids on £170 a week? I can just about manage on that, single, mortgage paid, Freedom Pass to get me around, if I needed to but fortunately I can be more profligate whenever I feel like it. £170 a week is stupid with a family to feed, no wonder some are tempted by street corners at 2 a.m.


News Shopper headlineOfficial figures say Bexley has 6,000 children living on such low incomes, that's about 3% of the population and MP Teresa Pearce believes that a lot disappear under the radar because only 70% of the people living in Thamesmead and North End are registered. Colyers, Erith and Cray Meadows are well above national average poverty levels too. But we all know where money is flowing freely don’t we? Will Tuckley doesn’t have to work a specified number of hours but a rough calculation shows he gets £170 in a little over sixty minutes. The two faces of Bexley.

 

15 November (Part 2) - A council controlled by criminals?

Will Tuckley Teresa O'NeillThe facility for sending anonymous messages is proving to be a mixed blessing. The negatives are minimal, there has been no out and out abuse but the attempts to be helpful with tales of what smelly mess might be found if the right stone is lifted are not a lot of good without an indication of which stone to turn. As must be clear by now I try to avoid subjects that are undocumented. Some anonymous messages are clearly from council sources, councillors most likely. They appear to be rattled as well they might be. I take website hits with a pinch of salt, but 28 from Parliament and 26 from newspapers among the recognisable ones isn’t too bad for a single day; yesterday as it happens but not that atypical. Perhaps that is why Bexley council is so keen to have bloggers put back in the bottle.

An anonymous message at the weekend complained about ‘pitchforks and flaming torches’ and the fact I said I only reposted it from somewhere else. “What difference does that make?” said the anonymous message sender. It’s true I thought the original posting was funny at the time and offered support for it, maybe I shouldn’t have done, but I knew the author well enough, met him a couple of times, spent a whole day with him once. There is no way either of us was encouraging a scene out of a Mary Shelley short story. Similarly when a friend said to me that the only way Bexley council might take note of resident discontent was if it escalated to “petrol bombs” I shouldn’t have turned it into a joke, but all that was a long time ago and I was new to writing about Bexley council. My first council meeting was only five months earlier. I try to learn from mistakes.

The weekend’s 59 word message ending “Get a life” read as though it was defending leader Teresa O’Neill, the butt of the “flaming torches” metaphor and it crossed my mind it may have come from her, or at least one of her closest “scheming cohorts”. I am going to assume it did.

Many people have told me who wrote the pitchfork thing, he is a popular local blogger. His picture is on this site if you care to hunt it down and as everyone seems to know, he keeps our local Neighbourhood Watch alive and relevant to this digital age. Is Teresa O’Neill or any other councillor living in fear of the Neighbourhood Watch? I doubt it and even if she or they were, does his mischievous remark begin to compare with the criminal acts Teresa O’Neill will not condemn?

Teresa O’Neill may or may not have sanctioned the unscheduled emptying of my dustbin looking for anything incriminating, but the council definitely used its CCTV system to track my movements, that fact is confirmed by their obscene blog. (†) She and others definitely (I have the written confirmation) asked her Chief Executive to have a word with his mates in Arnsberg Way and get them to threaten me with arrest because “some of the content [of this blog] criticises councillors on a personal level”. Since when was that a crime Teresa? You have enormous power and abuse it to further your own ends. As bloggers we can only throw back the truth. How can we post your misdeeds every day? Because there are so many of them, that is why.

No placardsAnd why the anonymous messages? We look for openness and transparency from our politicians but we don’t get either. Those behind this blog believe in openness and honesty above all else. My name has been included from the outset, those who joined me - ditto, all have had their photographs on the site at one time or another and my email address and phone number may be found on the Contact page. There have been photos of my own house on Bonkers and anyone who puts the provided details into bt.com will find my address. But Bexley council shelters behind its privileges abusing its power. Why? Because it knows no other way.

On a whim it can summon up 27 police officers to keep control of a few pensioners and a group of peaceful Asians carrying placards - which you promptly banned with a newly published notice. When Eric Pickles’ Under Secretary of State wrote to you on 23rd February 2011 you changed the Constitution so that all of his wishes were thwarted.

If a councillor takes exception to a blogger he can make an untruthful statement to the police knowing that when he is found out nothing is going to come of it.

Police statement
Do you accept that that is an untruthful statement Teresa? No blogger ever said that. The accused blogger did not reveal an address, Bexley council did that, didn’t it, and then when you were rumbled promptly withdrew the evidence? Not what you would expect of someone keen on upholding the law and not trying to rig a prosecution is it?

Because a councillor claims his wife, children and grandchildren are all put at risk a blogger spends 7½ hours in a police cell. When your people commit the most outrageous of hate crimes you and your policeman friends contrive to cover it up. No investigation according to Will Tuckley. Crime dismissed as nothing but a counter allegation by your friends in blue. Their Commander was still writing to MPs more than a month after his enquiries had ceased to tell them that the investigation was thorough and ongoing. When the truth begins to come out it is labelled not in the public interest to talk about it, the tried and tested routines honed in the Ian Clement era.

You imply you were concerned about a Neighbourhood Watch volunteer making a joke but you don’t seem to give a damn about the distress you and your cohorts caused with your obscene blog. What about Elwyn’s wife, how do you think she reacted Teresa? What about Elwyn? He was initially very disturbed by it and wasn’t himself for two or three weeks afterwards.

You must know who wrote that blog Teresa but you seem to think you can brazen it out, just as you did when Ian Clement was your leader and you were deputy. You claimed then you had no knowledge and perhaps you will claim the same again now. Few will believe you.

We all know you aspire to follow in Clement’s footsteps on your way to County Hall. Already you are Boris Johnson’s chosen one. His ambassador to the Outer London boroughs, the local politician that Boris has said he “admires” most. How is it going to look next year if Boris’s chosen one explodes onto the front pages as the woman who put concealing a criminal above honesty and any claim to be seen as an upright and law abiding politician? Because sooner or later it will. It’s probably too late to salvage your tarnished reputation but it might look better if you tried.

You know and I know that all the evidence is against you. The police might be covering your tracks at the moment but will they want to save your skin and lose their own when the crunch comes? The truth will out eventually and Boris will be scrambling around looking for an honest politician, or maybe he won’t and we will have to accept that the whole of London’s Conservative politics is tarred with the same brush.

Times have changed, your critics are not going to go away, neither will the issue of criminal cover up.

The hate crime, the criminal blog, call it what you will, is now available for all to read in full. The blogs have been assembled into a single page - which causes the dates to be out of sequence - and the profile page including Elwyn Bryant’s picture separately. Your people associated his face with all that untruthful filth Teresa. You are trying to keep their names secret. I hope you are ashamed of yourself.

To protect the innocent a user name and password is required. User name : teresaandwill. Password : mustknow. No full stops!

† The blog refers to Nicholas Dowling and myself going to the Cinema car park (a council car park). We did. Who but Bexley council watching us would recognise us and know our names?

 

15 November (Part 1) - More grist for the Information Commissioner’s mill

An Freedom of Information request (FOI) was submitted on 13th September requesting a full copy of the Bexley Borough Parking Account but Parking Services refused to release it because they planned to publish it on-line in the newly named Annual Traffic and Parking Services report - previously known as the Borough Parking Enforcement report. As usual with Bexley council, if they have something to hide they will misdirect you. They sent me to http://democracy.bexley.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=27925

Page 38 of that document clearly states that the financial information “is an extract from the Council’s Parking Account for the financial period 2010/11 for on street parking”, the document I had requested and been denied. Page 38 makes it blatantly obvious that this was not in any way shape or form the complete account. Bexley council is never open and honest but such a base lie is crass (Craske? Ed.) even by their standards.

Obviously an appeal was lodged forthwith and in true Bexley style back it went to the same bunch who refused it in the first place to review their own decision. One can only surmise how Bexley Council can think that this is a fair and independent state of affairs but there it is. Well you know the drill, they are supposed to come back within a 20 working day timeframe. Those of us who deal with Bexley Council are well used to this deadline being routinely ignored so a reminder was sent after a mere 27 working days - you have to give the darlings a little leeway - to enquire how the review was progressing? Within the hour an apology came straight back from the poor FOI Officer, the much put upon Mr. John Grosvenor. He admitted that the response was overdue and stated that he had contacted Parking Services to chase them up. So far so typical.

Those familiar with the standard operating procedure of Parking Services will not be surprised to hear that a further week went by and still they could not be bothered to formulate a response.

Mr. Grosvenor was asked again to get the cretins to try and play the game properly but then came a truly strange response from Mr. Frizoni the Deputy Director for Environment and Wellbeing. The boss of Parking Services and all are cut from the same cloth.

Frizoni made the spurious claim that the refusal decision had already been reviewed. Strange that nobody knew that the week before. Interestingly the email he referred to made no reference to it being an FOI refusal notice review. It made no reference to any of the grounds for my appeal or offer any reason for refusal.

How Frizoni could make his claim beggars belief but I guess we should remember we live in Bexley and not be surprised where public servants all habitually cover for each other. With any luck they might all hang together too! (Careful Nick, a police cell may await you.) Oh well, no offence taken here Mike and thanks for another fine and splendid example for the Information Commissioner to get his teeth into. Bexley Council just keeps flashing up on his radar. I am sure he will be pleased.

Guest blog by Nicholas Dowling.

 

14 November (Part 3) - Bus accident in Broadway

There has been a certain amount of controversy waging on the News Shopper site about a bus accident in Broadway. A Nissan Micra went up the back of a bus. Driver in severe pain, passengers unharmed. As long term readers will know I have a friend who earns his keep in the road safety and vehicle accident investigation arena. His specialty is heavy goods vehicles including buses. He looks into many of the high profile bus accidents and has got a few drivers off of manslaughter charges by proving a police case cannot be true. Against the laws of physics etc. By the same token some cases have been pushed in the reverse direction; so I referred him to the News Shopper article. This came back by return…

I have just about stopped laughing about that bus driver’s claim! For most things, injury severity is broadly correlated with change in velocity so conservation of linear momentum is the name of the game. You would need to check the relevant masses but assuming for simplicity the Micra is one tonne and the bus is 15 tonnes (max for a two axle bus is 18 tonnes but I'm assuming not fully loaded), the Micra is travelling at 20 mile/hour when it hits the stationary bus and both then move off together after impact.
1000*8.94 + 15000*0 = 16000*V
V=0.56 m/s= 1.25 mile/hour
So the Micra changes from 20 mile/hour to 1·25 mile/h, a delta V of 18·75. The bus changes from 0 to 1·25, a delta V of 1·25. Now data would suggest low speed whiplash injury is not very sensitive to collision speed and buses are not necessarily very well equipped in terms of occupant protection but I think it might be quite hard to convince people that a change of 1·25 mile/hour was responsible for “severe pain” unless he had a pre-existing condition or something, especially given that nobody else involved was affected.


No I don’t understand it either but I guess the Micra’s insurer’s will be taking a close look at this. Maybe I could arrange a discount on a detailed technical report for the driver?

The News Shopper subsequently heavily censored the discussion on whether the bus driver was faking it while the passengers were entirely unharmed.

 

14 November (Part 2) - The London Borough of Bexley - Nutsville

Readers with a keen interest in following Notomob’s campaign to persuade councils to obey the laws relating to traffic and parking may wish to nip across to Nutsville for their report on Notomob’s latest triumph over Westminster council at the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service last Saturday. Bexley’s defence against a case like that is probably even weaker than Westminster’s. Unlike Westminster they are unable to claim the wrong camera model number was just an abbreviation of the correct one, their camera model doesn’t get a mention at all.

 

14 November (Part 1) - Some FOIs and their answers

A few Freedom of Information (FOI) answers have come my way recently. A question about shopping discounts for council staff was answered reasonably comprehensively and just within time. I’m surprised they answered at all as the response was identical to what anyone can read on the council’s webpage. The only difference was the page implies it is a teacher only benefit and the FOI made it clear that it is for all employees, from Chief Executive downwards. Big companies arranging discounts for their staff is of course not particularly noteworthy.

Rather more interesting is the long awaited reply to a question about the former Chief Executive’s massive pay rise in 2007. Inflation plus £31,269. As reported on 27th October the speculation has always been that this was the result of an underhand deal over a tax payer funded dinner between the beneficiary, Nick Johnson and the former Conservative council leader, Ian Clement. And so it seems it was. “The decision was made by the Former Leader of the Council. The decision was not taken at a meeting”.

That meeting ensured Nick Johnson an enhanced sick pay-off a matter of months later and left Bexley tax payers with a bill of £50,000 a year.

Another FOI reveals that 25 Bexley council employees have been off work sick for longer than 90 days. We wish them all well. 22 of them are in schools and education. One is in the department where one was able to book an appointment to inspect the Register of Members’ Interests - and get yourself blogged in obscene terms by breakfast time the very next day.

A rather more obscure FOI request asked for a copy of the Disclosure Log which was referred to on Bexley council’s website. The answer was that Bexley doesn’t maintain a Disclosure Log and the reference to the Disclosure Log was removed from the website. Some may question the truthfulness of that answer.

 

13 November (Part 2) - The week’s post bag

I’m not going to be in trouble with the Royal Mail for that am I? In Bonkers Bexley you can’t be sure of anything apart perhaps of what sort of council and police we have been saddled with.

Bexley’s Boris Backer


The pro-Boris pro-Bexley feature on the Mayor’s website asks for comments. A correspondent tells me this is just as much a fraud as the planted article. He submitted a politely worded but detailed rebuttal of Bob Leitch’s article. It has never appeared. It’s the Boris equivalent of Bexley labelling a question vexatious. Anything they don’t like from blogs to questions and newspaper articles to radio programmes they try to ban, prosecute or shout down.

My correspondent navigated the warren that is Boris’s site and found that it refers to zip-codes rather than post codes. So for all his fine words he may not be backing local business. Perhaps he went to Bexley, Ohio for his web designer.


Shoot ‘em up


You can’t please all the people all of the time. On the one hand there are those who find councillors’ faces sliding by on the Home page (I have restored them for 48 hours so you can see what I mean) distracting and then there are those who are going to find themselves in a police cell before long for suggesting I turn it into a computer game. Fire something lethal with the mouse and down they go one at a time.

In a similar vein someone asks how I choose the nine faces for the rotating carousel that appears on some, but not all pages. Totally random dear chap, I have a list of names, I just mark nine when I think of it. I haven’t even kept a note of who has been shown and who is still waiting to be honoured, What about only using the faces that various people have ‘fingered’ for obscenities over the months. Yes, perhaps that is a good idea.


Poison pen letter


Would the anonymous nonentity (how I wish I had Olly’s skill at manufacturing insults) who castigated me so comprehensively about the pitchforks and flaming torches remarks go back and read them again very very slowly? It may then eventually sink in that the whole point of the report was to make it clear it was first published on another website altogether. Not Bonkers, not Olly Cromwell’s. You are not a policeman by any chance are you?


Letter to Borough Commander Stringer


“Would you please now confirm that the investigation is at an end.” Reply dated Friday 4th November, “I will find out and respond to you early next week”. Since then silence.

It might be hard for a Chief Superintendent to know what to do when having to work alongside a council like Bexley’s, but it really shouldn’t be. Just uphold the law before they drag you down to their level.


Complaint to Met. Police Directorate of Professional Standards

Tony Gowan's newsletter


Tony Gowen who believe it or not heads Bexleyheath’s Professional Standards Unit sent the above email to pretty much everyone who is anyone in Bexley and got it wrong. Just like he and his incompetent colleagues got pretty much everything wrong about what was claimed in the Magistrates’ Court last Monday.

I’m not so petty as to start libel proceedings or anything like that but I did email Chief Inspector Gowen about it. It would have been nice to have heard him confirm that it was yet another police cock-up, maybe the word "sorry" injected somewhere, and confirmation that he had withdrawn his notice. Result; silence. This man says that the police should operate by “the objective standards a reasonable person could expect”. You can’t keep letting these arrogant power crazed individuals get away with everything scot-free so a letter went to the Directorate of Professional Standards in yesterday’s post. It will be another whitewash when the answer comes in six months time but shooting holes in their excuses keeps so many Bexley people amused that I thought it a worthwhile exercise.


Complaint to Independent Police Complaints Commission


The complaint is less than a week old and I already have an acknowledgement complete with reference number. The on-line submission was handled very efficiently and everything has been far easier than what one gets from the Information Commissioner. You get no reference number from him unless you phone and ask for one or wait an eternity for a written response. On the plus side the ICO is proving very willing to put the boot into Bexley council.

This week he will have to work out who is telling the truth over the obscene blog. The police who say they interviewed Will Tuckley on 7th July or Will himself who says he is completely unaware of it.


Blue Badge warning


I have been getting reports of a Bexley council blitz on the disabled, or should I say those using disabled badges to park for free. Badge displayers are being subjected to questions and made to identify themselves. It’s probably necessary; my journalist daughter made a programme for BBC Radio 5 a couple of years ago about Blue Badge misuse outside a North London football ground, Arsenal, Spurs? I can’t remember, but a lot of people rightly got done for it. In Bexley the probability is that it is a scheme to boost parking fine revenue now that councillor Peter Craske’s schemes for fleecing the motorist have gone belly up.

On 15th August Craske swapped traditional parking meters for a pay by phone scheme. Craske bragged that people were rushing to sign up at the rate of 60 a day, I pointed out that even on the most optimistic calculations it would take nearly five years to get back to where we were in August, i.e. all Bexley residents able to park in what used to be a meter bay. How’s he doing in the near 100 days since the scheme started? According to the braggart (as reported in last week’s Bexley Times) he is now up to “nearly 3,000”. The take up rate seems to have fallen in half since the initial rush. Stand by for more probing questions from the always dependable councillor Munir Malik.


Do we have a minor truce?


Remembrance poppyToday being Remembrance Sunday a contingent from the Bonkers team went to pay their respects at the memorial in Hurst Road, Bexley. They found themselves standing shoulder to shoulder with councillor Colin Tandy. The last time anything like that happened councillor Alan Downing had to run away, councillor Sybil Camsey said something incredibly silly - though probably honest, and only last week, councillor Peter Craske tried to hide when someone was down his road delivering leaflets. Would hostilities break out all over again? Fortunately not because it seems that councillor Tandy has more sense, he shook Mick Barnbrook and others warmly by the hand and exchanged pleasantries. Do we have the 2011 equivalent of 1914’s Christmas Day truce when British, Commonweath and German troops played football and sang Carols together? Maybe it could even be an Armistice. It’s quite difficult to be critical of a councillor who behaves like a gentleman.

 

13 November (Part 1) - Pouring petrol on the flaming torches

It has become traditional, if that is a word that can be applied to a two year old blog, that at the weekend Bonkers is allowed to go off the boil a bit and flirt with frivolity, but after a week like the last one it might be something of an anti-climax if Olly Cromwell doesn’t get a mention.

One of the things that caused Olly to be arrested; a signed statement which reads “It [The Twitter post] was also urging people to put dog faeces through my letter box” can be explained. Councillor Sandra Bauer told Seymour that. She is not a regular user of Social Networking and made 5 from two 2s when she read “Feel free to post him actual s··t”. Leaving aside the fact Olly didn’t give an address (Seymour and Bexley council had already done that complete with map) she fails to see that ‘post’ is the act of putting pictures and words on the net, and ‘actual s··t’ is simply ‘stuff’, probably highly critical stuff it is true, but not what Sandra’s over active mind invented.

I won’t be dwelling too much on Sandra Bauer’s big mistake, s··t happens, but I doubt Olly will feel so charitable. What really puzzles Olly is something else, a reference to using petrol. He has no idea where that came from, neither had I, although it sounded vaguely familiar.

Probably I will live to regret posting (careful Sandra, don’t get your knickers in a twist yet) that picture of myself last weekend because since then I have been recognised by three people, all ladies which is nice, as if I was some Z list celebrity. Yesterday’s one opined that the Olly case was a farce and who would disagree but it is just about to become even more of a farce. Olly can go back to bed for his Sunday lie in because I have found the source of the petrol comment. Definitely not Olly. Call me as a witness Olly, it should be a fun day.

Thank you to everyone who emailed to tell me the source of the pitchforks and flaming torches metaphor. Sorry, my tongue was firmly in my cheek when I said I couldn’t remember where the quote came from. I drained the colour from the screen grab in a lame attempt to inhibit recognition but you were all far too clever for me. I spoke to the author last Monday to tip him off. With only a reference to petrol today even Google might let you down when searching for that one.

The relatively frivolous stuff will be coming later.

 

12 November (Part 2) - Bexleyheath police - not acting in the public interest

Police sloganElwyn Bryant asked Borough Commander Stringer about the (obscene blog) crime committed against him. Stringer passed it to his side-kick Williams. Yesterday, three weeks later, Williams told Elwyn that it wasn’t in the public interest to answer his enquiry. Same answer as I got a few weeks ago after submitting a Freedom of Information request. At least it tells us, as if we didn’t know, that something rather nasty is being covered up.

As more and more things trickle into my hands about Olly’s case it becomes obvious that the police have muddled up three blogs and can’t tell one from t’other. But they reveal rather more than that. The police are dismissive about Elwyn’s and my own crime reports following Bexley council’s obscene blogging, labelling it a mere “counter allegation” against the Harassment warnings. How can that be? A warning is only a warning and a real live hateful crime by someone else a month later is a separate issue. It has to be reported, it should have been taken seriously. Oops, it was, the police wrote to say it was a “vigorous investigation”. The truth appears to have been rather different.

Elwyn wasn’t even involved in any Harassment issue. Are Bexleyheath police stupid or corrupt? I note that I am specifically named as “a suspect” in a report covering the sham investigation into Bexley’s obscene blog. Why is that investigation, sham or not, included in a case against Olly?

Council leader Teresa O’Neill is recorded by Bexleyheath police as naming me as “the owner of the website Bexley-is-Bonkers” and going on to complain that I “regularly make comments about democracy, the Government, the council and in particular Teresa O’Neill”. Make comments!! Has it become a crime in the police state of Bexley? For the record I doubt I ever made adverse comments about the Government. I indicated I regretted voting Conservative but that is about as far as it went.

The police reports are a total shambles which muddle everything and put signatures to documents which include statements I know to be false. In Court it was Bonkers that was constantly mentioned, not Cromwelled and with the papers in a total mess you can see why. These policemen truly are cretins or bent, I’m not sure which. A barrister is going to have a field day with such incompetence.

Thank you councillor Seymour for opening the flood gates to all this information on your council’s hate crime; until you decided to step in progress had been much more difficult.

 

12 November (Part 1) - The Mayoral leech

Of all the dirty tricks Bexley council uses to prevent questioning at council meetings, planting fake ones by Tory supporters must be the easiest to arrange and one of the most effective. It isn’t so much annoying in itself, there are other ways to ask questions, it’s the blatant willingness to usurp democracy that is annoying. Now I find that Boris Johnson plays the same childish games.

I’m not sure I like Boris Johnson; great comedian, well educated but fundamentally useless. How else do you explain so many foot in mouth moments?

Mostly I dislike Boris when taking my weekly trip to the occasionally mentioned nonagenarian aunt. She lives four miles away but a dirty great stretch of water gets in the way. The ferry is unreliable and doesn’t run late, both foot tunnels are shut for repairs, the DLR doesn’t run where I need to go, and I can’t swim. I have to drive 16 miles via Blackwall. Then for the last couple of years I’ve had to come back via Dartford. I know a lot of people will disagree, but the bozo cancelled my bridge. It can’t be beyond the wit of man to stop lorries going up Knee Hill, Bexley council is expert at installing width restrictors. All we are going to get instead is an expensive cable car strung across the river; what use is that? I know what I would like to see strung above the river. (Go on, arrest me for it.) And now he stoops to Bexley council levels with planted propaganda.

Robert LeitchOn his website he has a message from a Bexley sycophant resident, singing Johnson’s praises. It comes from one Robert Leitch and a click or two on your favourite search engine reveals that he is one of Boris’s very own boys. He claims on other Conservative websites to be just out of the London School of Economics and into a job in the office of a Conservative MP. That is exactly what is wrong with almost all politicos today. Never done a day’s work in their lives (no, not you Teresa) and zero experience of life.

Mr. Leitch never names his MP employer, is he ashamed of something? Fortunately there is a website that gives the game away. Robert Leitch works for Conservative MP Julian Sturdy. I took a look at his website. Not impressed. Almost every link and menu item goes to a page with no content. Sort of sums up today’s Conservatives but probably more honest than filling your page with commissioned accolades don’t you think Boris?

 

11 November (Part 4) - Pitching in with flaming lies

When I saw Olly Cromwell after his appearance before the beak I was briefly able to glimpse some of his papers. I wasn’t sure how much I could reveal here, I wasn’t even sure Olly had noticed me being nosey, but he has just revealed on Twitter something I saw on Monday. The police predicted he was going to plead Guilty. Is their judgment really that bad? How often do people plead Guilty to things they haven’t done? But to give them the benefit of the doubt, I don’t suppose they realised just how many of Bexley council’s accusations are false.

One I noticed; I hoped my scribbled note was correct, was that he is supposed to have said “Personally I think we need to descend on Councillor Teresa O’Neill with flaming torches and pitchforks as it would seem that she and her scheming cohorts are impervious to reasoned argument”. It may be typical of Olly’s jokey outbursts but the language is not his. ‘Impervious’, I don’t think so. It’s all so very polite with no grammatical errors. What’s more, Olly’s idea of F’ing and C’ing is not usually ‘flaming’ and ‘cohorts’. It looks like something Bexley council made up. But maybe not and it seems my memory of the phrase was spot on. Look what I found on Google!

Pitchforks quoteDo you think this is a bit like when Tony Blair made up that dossier to justify him invading Iraq? The one where it was alleged he pinched great chunks of it from a student’s thesis?

Who knows? Anything is possible when Bexley council is boxed into a tight corner. Wish I could remember where I got that clip from, I am getting very sloppy but pleased Olly is in the clear again.

 

11 November (Part 3) - Like an open book

Bexley council has as you know withdrawn its endorsement of ‘Melvyn (sic) Seymour Decorative Services’ from the Trader Register website to try to hide the fact that it wasn’t a blogger that revealed his address after all, not that Olly actually did, that seems to be a total fabrication. However someone may have forgotten that the ‘advert’ was placed on the Greenwich section of Trader Register too. No blatant Bexley council endorsement there, no Bexley logo, no fatuous slogan so it is probably all legit, but it’s a strange thing to do if you want to keep your address under wraps. Putting it on a website called ‘Public Access’ seems somewhat ironic too.

You can get a PDF version of the Greenwich Trader Register. (See Page 2.) It has Seymour’s mobile number on that as well as his landline. If you really must have the Bexley PDF, it’s not been withdrawn, it’s still here. Everything copied in case of withdrawal obviously.

 

11 November (Part 2) - You live in Bexley? Oh, that’s not good

Inspire Community TrustAt the beginning of this year a good friend of mine began to suffer back ache, which gradually led to reduced mobility and sufficient pain to keep him awake all night. His doctor wasn’t a lot of good, at first just prescribing pain killers and eventually after a lot of pressure sent him to physiotherapists and chiropractors and the like. When that didn’t do any good the doctor needed his arm twisted by a third party before he was sent for an MRI scan in September. It didn’t show a lot but a follow up CT scan and blood tests at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich showed a rare form of bone cancer. By then he had had to install a very elaborate orthopaedic bed and use a stair lift at home. Now he is in the process of changing his car because it is too low on the ground to easily get into.

“You’ll need a Blue Badge” said the hospital nurse, “I'll fill in the forms, where do you live? Oh, Bexley, that’s not good. If it was Greenwich it would be simple, but Bexley? I’ll speak to your consultant”. So the consultant wrote a special plea to Bexley, stamped it with the QEH official rubber stamp, and when my friend got back to his doctor he wrote out all the necessary forms too. So my friend gets his Blue Badge quickly? Not a bit of it, his doctor’s letter counts for nothing, his consultant needn’t have bothered, Bexley is not impressed. He must be assessed by Inspire to make sure his doctor and consultant are not making it all up; and he will have to join a month long queue. Then they may condescend to issue a Badge some while later.

Meanwhile he is stuck at home alone, reliant on friends to bring in his food.

Listening To You. Working For You. Not.

Guess who is on the Inspire Community Trust Board? None other than councillor Melvin Seymour, the drippy brush man?

 

11 November (Part 1) - See more of the Seymour effect

Unique visitorsWeekend dip followed by Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I have never had so many messages on a single subject. Councillor Seymour and Bexley council working together to fool the population with their trader endorsement scheme. How is that going to affect legitimate businesses in town? Will anyone believe anything Bexley council says ever again?

In a frantic effort to cover their dishonesty, Bexley council’s damage limitation department has gone into overdrive. Their fake endorsement of councillor Seymour’s business has been withdrawn, but it lives on here as a permanent memorial to Bexley council’s corrupt methods.

 

10 November (Part 4) - In this climate only a comeuppance will do

Daily Telegraph report

You know what’s the hardest part about writing this blog? Making up snappy headlines, so for this one I have unashamedly pinched it from this morning’s Daily Telegraph. You can read a short extract from the article here but in future I will expect you to go out and buy your own copy. £1 from any newsagent (£1.20 from next week!!!). Don’t stop on a yellow line in Bexley for 30 seconds, the price goes to over eighty quid.

This afternoon I aim to fill you in with some of the recent and rather interesting developments with the so called Bexley council obscene blog. James Brokenshire MP has been as good as his word and written to Borough Commander Stringer “regarding the investigation into the defamation from an online blog”. James was visibly shocked when he first saw the content of that blog, not that he saw it all. Only those who viewed the original on line will know its full extent, I censored the version that was posted here on 1st June and that is all James has seen.

James is a good and no doubt ambitious MP who finds himself in a difficult position. It can’t be much fun to be a Minister at the Ministry for Justice and discover the police on your own patch may be engaged in a cover-up for the people with the power to deselect you before the next election. But are the police covering things up?

Well the RESTRICTED marking on the file, the insistence that releasing the date of their enquiries is not in the public interest and Will Tuckley’s statement (under FOI) that he is unaware of any investigation would all suggest as much. Borough Commander Stringer’s reply to an enquiry on 2nd November, (slightly shortened) “Would you please now confirm that the investigation is at an end - a simple yes or no will do” didn’t help. He said “I will find out and respond to you early next week”. It is now late next week and no response. How long does it take to say, “Hey, Darren. Have you finished with the Bexley blog case yet?”

It all looks slightly fishy.

But what if Stringer’s silence is because he needs to protect someone else? What if Tuckley’s FOI response that dropped Stringer deep in doo-doo was a fabrication? What if Commander Stringer had sent a crack team into the Civic Centre to interview Mr. Tuckley? Would you be surprised to know that he did? Then prepare to be surprised.

I have been looking at a signed document that says a Detective Constable accompanied by his DCI went to see Will Tuckley in his office on 7th July 2011. No point in making either police officers’ names public for only doing their job, but I have both along with confirmation that four unnamed officers were also engaged in the enquiry into the crime against Elwyn and myself. Statements were taken, one person (of seven possible) was linked with the obscene blog allegation but the decision was taken there and then not to proceed. So why did Stringer write to me on 10th August to string me along? Yes I do know it was because my MP, Teresa Pearce (and James Brokenshire) had pushed him into saying something, but why did his answer evade the point? And why does he still profess to be ignorant of the decision made on 7th July? When a report goes to the IPCC it will be very long and complicated, but the job will have to be done.

And what of Will Tuckley, the good value for money quarter million pound a year amnesiac? What about his statement under FOI that he is unaware of any police investigation into the Bexley blog? Who would you believe, Bexley’s Chief Executive or a police officer who signs his own name on the dotted line? Difficult choice I know but I feel a complaint to the Information Commissioner about someone making false statements under FOI coming on. What's the penalty for that? Same as for Harassment. What a coincidence!

Note: I suppose I should say for the sake of anyone left who finds it hard to believe this tale of corruption and wrong-doing in high places, that I could if necessary produce every document from which the above is culled within a couple of minutes. And for any copper who thinks he could put paid to that by seizing my computer, everything is copied onto a large nameless secure server far far away. Paranoid? Not me.

 

10 November (Part 3) - Self inflicted wounds

Bexley council endorsement of SeymourI was less than thorough when I stumbled across that advert for Melvin Seymour painter and decorator extraordinaire endorsed by Bexley council. I took a quick screen grab and drafted an FOI for someone to send but I didn’t know until the court case the following day that Melvin Seymour had pinned his harassment case on Olly revealing his address. I didn’t know then that Melvin Seymour had claimed that his wife, his children, his grandchildren were all living in fear because mad axe-man Olly had put a picture of Seymour’s house on Twitter. No address mind you so only psychics and estate agents could pay a visit.

Maybe some sympathy is in order; Elwyn Bryant’s wife wasn’t best pleased when Bexley council (or its associates) put Elwyn’s picture on the web labelled homosexual and I found it hard to see the funny side when Bexleyheath police put me in their note book as his partner. By comparison a picture of an anonymous maisonette in Crayford is hardly Crime of the Century, but Bexleyheath police thought it was at least Crime of the Month giving Bexley is Bonkers (incorrectly) top billing in their newsletter.

But I am digressing again…

Not having fully grasped the significance of Seymour and Bexley council putting Seymour’s address in the public domain, something Olly never did, my partial screen grab was barely adequate, especially when Bexley council pulled their gloss off the web as soon as they realised how deeply they had dropped Seymour into the emulsion. So a frantic search of cyberspace was required and not for the first time a search engine cache came up trumps. So I bring you with a flourish of brushes and wallpaper paste the full unexpurgated endorsement by Bexley council of Melvin Seymour’s decorating business. Please click on the green picture to see how he really is a very good painter.

Marvel how every aspect of his work is absolutely top notch, how he gives his address, and helpfully provides a map so you can visit, say good morning to his wife, offer sweets to his grandchildren, help protect his children from mad axe-men. And when you have done all that consider what sort of self-serving, immoral, perjurious bunch of amateur crooks would do a thing like that.

Is it any wonder they pulled the incriminating evidence the moment they realised they were rumbled?

For the record it was Bonkers that put Seymour’s address on the web. It was in the public domain already and Bexley council had taken the trouble to bring its Constitutional Committee together to decide whether putting people’s names and addresses on the web was ethical and unanimously came to the conclusion it was all OK. But that was for residents’ addresses, not special people, like Magistrates and councillors for example who may not like it and can call on the police to lock up bloggers any time they wish - even if they haven’t done what they are accused of. Hypocrites is too mild a word to describe them.

Note to councillor Melvin Seymour. If you do not reside at an address shown in the Register of Members’ Interests and repeated here, go and ask councillor Ball for advice on what to do about it. (Can’t do much about the Trader Register search engine cache though.)

 

10 November (Part 2) - Olly Cromwell - Bang! Bang!

Cigarette lighter gunOlly has had a death threat. Bang! Bang! it ended, he showed it to me.

It did not go unnoticed that it actually threatened Ollie. Bexley council refers to Olly as Ollie. The incompetent Chief Inspector Gowen of Bexleyheath police’s Professional Standards Unit referred to Ollie when he told all and sundry that Bexley is Bonkers was being prosecuted - he’s still not responded to my request that he owns up to his mistake and say “sorry”, so off to the Directorate of Professional Standards I have to go again. His department operates under an obligation to behave as any reasonable individual would expect, I know because it wrote to tell me so. So why can’t the incompetent CI say one simple word? Anyway, back to the main point. Is it coincidence that only Bexley council and Bexleyheath police refer to Olly as Ollie and that is how the death threat comes spelt?

Olly tells me he no longer lives in Glebelands, couldn’t stand the neighbours I suppose, and he has gone to live with a Harlot. No, that can't be right; what was it now? An Essex girl perhaps? No, I remember now, he has gone to live in Harlow, Essex.

Promise me Olly that you will never walk the streets with a table leg under your arm, light your fags with a lighter shaped like a gun, or run down the escalator at Stockwell and jump on the Victoria Line to work.

 

10 November (Part 1) - Light blue touch paper and retire immediately

News ShopperWhile Bexley council’s dishonesty and corruption reverberates around the corridors of power ordinary run of the mill dishonesty and incompetence continues unabated. I refer of course to councillor Craske’s parking regime and in particular his four mobile CCTV cars. Yesterday’s News Shopper published its anticipated article on the subject of their certification and managed to merely scratch the surface of the problems. Not that that is a criticism of the News Shopper because there is a strategy being played out by Notomob and not all of their bombs have yet been primed.

A Bexley Council spokeswoman (Tina Brooks the Parking Manager?) said “There is nothing in the regulations or guidance which prescribes (sic) an actual certificate must be issued by the appropriate body on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport”. Let’s see what the law says and how Nigel Wise, the man who beat Richmond and Westminster councils with his superior knowledge of parking law, has addressed Bexley council…


The Law
Civil Traffic Enforcement Certification of Approved Devices
2.1.4 Applications to the Secretary of State
The Secretary of State will decide whether to issue a certificate of approval to the applicant on the basis of the Technical Construction File and any other exchanges that take place subsequently.

Wise Nigel
“You will see from the above [Section 2.1.4] that your VCA letter is not the type of document that you need to hold to be able to conduct any lawful enforcement. You will also see that contrary to the Bexley spokeswoman’s false statement a certificate is required to be issued. As you insist (at the behest of the VCA) that your letter is not a certificate you therefore do not have the correct documentation in your possession.

Adjudicators rightly expect to see a certificate that actually names the approved devices on it. I feel that your assertion that “Adjudicators need to be educated” will not be well received by the Adjudicators. Education can only come from the educated.

Furthermore even if your ‘letter’ was a certificate it certificates nothing. Please remove your vehicles from the roads and get ready with the refund process.

If you would like the details of how to carry out the refund procedure correctly please contact Richmond Council Parking Department. If you have difficulty in getting through this will be because they are inundated with requests for refunds as you will also be.”


In summary, Bexley has a Technical Construction File but hasn’t been to the Secretary of State to request that it be used as the basis for him issuing a certificate. No certificate equals no authority to issue fines.

There are more ‘bombs’ up Notomob’s sleeve and one of them looks like a Hiroshima style device to me. I can imagine Tina Brooks going round assuring Craske and co. that all is well so they can relax and go back to plotting the downfall of bloggers but I sense another downfall arising. At the other guilty councils their parking managers found themselves at the Job Centre.

Read about Westminster council’s multi-million pound cock-up here.

 

9 November (Part 2) - Decorator whitewashed out of existence

I returned from a trip to the relative sanity of Newham and Waltham Forest late last night to find 53 Bonkers related emails in my Inbox. Seven of them told me that the page at traderregister.org.uk on which Bexley council endorsed the decorating business run by councillor Melvin Seymour had been removed - and they like to make out they never read this blog! Never mind, we know that they try to hide their misjudgments and I always take a screen shot. For those who missed it here is the vital part of the page stored for posterity, and probably used against them when Bexley council deny it ever existed on their Freedom of Information response.

Part of Seymour’s case against Olly is that he is alleged to have revealed Seymour’s address into the public domain. Sorry Melvin, you did that when you stood as a councillor, entered it on the Register of Members’ Interests and had it placed on the Bexley council sponsored advert. Incidentally, I know of someone who tried to book an appointment to view the Register yesterday and was told Bexley didn’t keep one. Well it was an untidy and in some respects incomplete document when I looked at it on 20th May but it did exist and I still have my handwritten partial copy of it.

It’s amazing how much interest there is in Bexley council at the moment. Within half an hour of posting the earlier comments about Teresa O’Neill someone wrote in with the opinion that Ms. O’Neill would probably have been absolutely livid about the obscene blog. I’m sure she would be, I do not believe she is a person to indulge in such behaviour, but the strange coincidence remains, that within hours of her being made aware of its existence the hate blog disappeared, having existed for two whole weeks beforehand. She may well be livid but there has been no cooperation with the police and no cooperation with the victims. It is not what is expected of a decent person, let alone Boris Johnson’s protégé. Hmm, on reflection some people might disagree with that. Shades of Ian Clement and all that.

 

9 November (Part 1) - Never forget

Bexley council's hate blog A houseOne man posted a picture of a councillor’s house on Twitter and was locked in a police cell for 7½ hours, charged with harassment by Bexleyheath police and now faces six months in jail.

Another man, a councillor, if the tittle-tattle in Bexley Civic Centre is correct, posted an obscene, hateful, homophobic, libellous blog which attempted to impersonate a Bexley resident and the police say it is not in the public interest to say anything whatever about the case. Bexley council drops the police further into the mire by saying that the police didn't carry out any investigation that they are aware of.


Teresa O'Neill Borogh Commander StringerThis woman is Boris Johnson’s chosen envoy to the Outer London Boroughs. This woman is the best Boris can find to spread the word about good practice in our town halls. Hands up those who believe she heads a totally corrupt council which commits criminal acts and provides support and shelter to criminals?

This man takes legal action against a Twitterer who according to the charge sheet has harassed councillor Melvin Seymour by exhibiting a picture of Seymour’s business premises. This man is head of a force which told the victims of the salacious blog, their two MPs, one the Minister for Justice, that he has “vigorously investigated” the crime which, there can’t be much doubt, was committed by Bexley council. The file has been marked RESTRICTED and under FOI it is claimed that it is not in the public interest to reveal any part of the outcome of the investigation, not even the date on which this man’s officers claim to have made enquiries at Bexley council. The Chief Executive of Bexley council says he is not even aware this man or any other police officer carried out an investigation. This man currently has clearly stated he doesn’t know whether an investigation is going on or not despite reassuring messages being sent to the Minister of Justice. Hands up those who think that this man is unfit to be a police officer and gives every impression that he has been attempting to pervert the course of justice?

 

Bexley TimesThe observant will have noticed that all reference to councillor Sandra Bauer has been dropped from today’s report. This is because I now know exactly what has been said (written) by whom in this case and it has resulted in my assumption, for now at least, that Ms. Bauer is just an innocent at large, unaware of street language and for example, when hearing a man has been arrested for smoking s··t looks suspiciously at her dog thinking it might be his supplier.

Councillor Bauer would be best served if she returned to her Thamesmead East ward and attended to the problems down there. According to Save the Children, reported in last week’s Bexley Times, Thamesmead East is notorious for its level of child poverty.

 

8 November - Newsreel

New Freedom of Information requests


The following FOI has gone to Bexley council about the super-sensitive super-painter councillor Melvin Seymour…

Melvyn Seymour Decorative Services of 29 Glebelands, Crayford has been endorsed by Bexley council, complete with logo and Listening to You slogan, on the www.traderregister.org.uk website run by Siteon Ltd. (http://dev.traderregister.org.uk/bexley/3271/Data.xml)

Under the conditions imposed by the Freedom of Information Act please let me know…

1) What were the criteria by which Melvyn Seymour Decorative Services of 29 Glebelands, Crayford was chosen for endorsement?

The address 29 Glebelands, Crayford, DA1 5RY is shown in the Register of Members' Interests alongside the name of councillor Melvin Seymour.

2) Is the Melvyn Seymour endorsed by Bexley council the same Melvin Seymour (note spelling) who is a Bexley councillor?
3) The property at 29 Glebelands is not shown as 'Mixed use' on the Council tax valuation list. Is that address registered for residential or business use?
4) How many businesses in total has Bexley council registered on the traderregister website?
5) How many painter and decorator businesses has Bexley council registered on the traderregister website?


The FOI proposed on 4th November has also been submitted.


Old Freedom of Information requests


There are currently three FOIs that I am aware of in which the Information Commissioner (IC) has instructed Bexley council to release information. In two cases the time limit imposed by the IC has expired and a further report on Bexley council’s refusal to obey the law of the land has gone back to the Information Commissioner. The time allowed for the third has not yet expired.


Excessive salaries


Yesterday’s Evening Standard reported that Eric Pickles’ Parliamentary Private Secretary said “It is unacceptable for councils to treat residents as cash cows to boost their bank balances” and “We have been quite clear that if local authorities cut out excessive chief executive pay, share back offices, join forces to procure, and root out wild overspends they can avoid raising charges”. Teresa O’Neill the leader of Bexley council has made it very clear that she disagrees and even the Labour opposition has said that they consider Will Tuckley should be paid the same as the chief of the Civil Service, Gus O’Donnell. You would think that Will Tuckley runs the Ministries of Defence, Health, Transport and all the rest of them and not just empty a few dustbins, lend out a few books and fill a pot hole or two. Labour in Bexley are just as mired in the feathering of nests, incompetence and cover ups as the Conservatives. Yesterday’s revelations about Bauer show them all to be tarred with the same brush.


Harassment


Bexleyheath police’s failure to investigate the complaint against DI Keith Marshall was sent to the Independent Police Complaints Commission yesterday and extended to include CI Tony Gowen and CS Dave Stringer. The complaint may be read in letter form here although it was submitted electronically as a text file.


Site visitors


Last Thursday the number of unique visitors to Bexley is Bonkers reached an all time high. That record was beaten on Friday and soundly beaten again yesterday. I suspect we have councillors Seymour and Bauer to thank for that.

Website statistics


Unique visitors over the past two months ending Monday 7th November. The regular dips are weekends. The vertical axis has been squashed - or stretched - to inhibit linkage with real numbers.

 

7 November (Part 2) - Bexley council - Dishonest, incompetent, vindictive

It was gratifying to note that the supporters of Olly Cromwell at Bexleyheath Magistrates Court this morning extended beyond “the usual suspects’ and included, if I may be permitted to use the phrase, ordinary concerned citizens of Bexley who had read here of Bexley council’s latest pathetic stunt. Proceedings began at 11:14 when Olly pleaded Not Guilty to the charge of “pursuing a course of conduct of harassing various Bexley councillors on social networking sites”.

It transpired that the case had been prepared by Detective Constable Thomas of Bexleyheath police who had failed to provide any particulars of the charges, exhibits or evidence. The lack of detail was noted by the District Judge. Olly’s defence is that what he wrote did not amount to harassment. There is more to it than that but I consider it best to withhold some details as to do otherwise might help his accusers.

Melvin and SandraIt was said that the police investigated Olly from March to July this year but decided not to prosecute. Whilst the charge did not reveal the names of his new accusers the Judge said they were councillors Melvin Seymour and Sandra Bauer, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in Bexley and councillor for Thamesmead East. Ms. Bauer has not been noticed by Bonkers until now (except at last week’s council meeting) so her involvement came as a surprise. One must wonder what her involvement is with Seymour.

Olly is bailed to appear at Bromley Magistrates Court on 6th January 2012 and three quarters of a day has been set aside for the hearing. Meanwhile Olly is under bail conditions that “he must not enter details on any social networking sites that make any direct or indirect reference to persons who are councillors of the London Borough of Bexley”. There was a short debate on whether the conditions should include everyone at Bexley council but the Judge said it should be restricted to councillors.

The hearing ended at approximately 11:30.

I don’t follow social networking sites so I don’t know what Olly Cromwell does on line apart from his blog. Someone told me he posted a picture of his neighbour’s house and Olly has alluded to that himself. I’ve looked on line for that picture and any ill chosen words without success. Significantly that neighbour is councillor Melvin Seymour, the painter and decorator favoured by Bexley council. He and the until now almost unknown Labour councillor Sandra Bauer must have imagined it represented some sort of threat.

Why is identifying Conservative Seymour’s house a threat that should concern Labour Bauer? You tell me.

The rot for such concerns set in when Bexley council decided to publish the names and addresses of its critics at council meetings on their website and to some extent place them in danger.

Councillor Chris Ball, Bexley’s Labour leader, said he wasn’t comfortable with the idea but it didn’t stop him voting for it. It was because of that decision that Elwyn Bryant and I visited the Civic Offices to take note of councillor addresses as is our democratic right and because we exercised that right a criminal blogged obscenely about us hours later. Bexley council continues to shelter the criminal.

Bexley council decided that posting people’s addresses on their website did not represent a risk, but when a house allegedly belonging to Melvin Seymour is identified, that is a serious criminal offence. Bexley council wants it all ways; they should be discredited at every opportunity.

House 1 House 2Councillors’ addresses always were public property but the internet makes accessibility so much easier. All councillor addresses are available on this website, my address is available with a few clicks and Google street view allows us to see what the address looks like. If that activity represents a danger to the occupant then it’s an acceptable one according to Bexley council. If it is not, what the hell are they doing publishing residents’ addresses on their website?

Anyone can get an address and take a look at the property, it doesn’t mean that malice is intended. My nonagenarian aunt uses Google street view to check up on old work friends she last met before 1977, to see if they live in better houses than she does! Here is a couple of examples of Bexley houses you can see on Google street view, chosen not altogether randomly.

Note 17th August 2012. At an appeal hearing where both Seymour and Bauer were called as witnesses and cross examined it became clear that it was Seymour who had dishonestly exaggerated the content of the Tweet in order to attempt a miscarriage of justice and Bauer had merely sent him a copy and took no part in its embellishment.

 

7 November (Part 1) - Bonkers Barnet council

If you need something to read until I get back from the Magistrates Court may I suggest The Barnet Eye which reports similar trickery by Barnet council to that which Bexley employs? Reporting bloggers to the Information Commissioner for reproducing council propaganda and for storing details of blog correspondents without being registered under the Data Protection Act. The accused blogger has given his own account here.

All thrown out by the ICO of course but costly for the council taxpayers. For the record I have close to a thousand email addresses of people who have made contact through this website.

 

6 November - Oddments

Who we are


Nick and MalcolmSomeone thinks I should make myself more public. Apparently having my name and phone number available on the site and my address very easy to find is not good enough and a photo of the entire Bonkers team is required. Although I use the term ‘team’ for convenience there is no formal agreement or constitution, we are just half a dozen residents with a common purpose. Those who contribute most often were pictured on one of the earlier Home pages which is archived here. Apart from that the best I can do is this photo of Nicholas Dowling and myself at the Notomob event in Sidcup on 14th May 2011.

The phone number by the way remains unavailable because it was disturbing me so regularly. The phone is unplugged while I decide what to do with it. It isn’t my only phone line. The other one is more sophisticated, it doesn’t ring for numbers I’ve not programmed into it. No marketing calls for me.


Bonkers is bonkers


I had an email from a doubting Thomas. “Surely most of what you write must be wrong. 20% right perhaps?” I was both surprised and disappointed, nobody had said anything like that before. I go out of my way to provide documentary evidence and links to support what is said here and the documentation allows readers to make up their own minds as to whether my interpretation is correct. Most reports lend themselves to being totally factual. Where the comments may be selective the full detail is provided via links. e.g. Yesterday’s report on recycling.

I would agree that reports of council meetings come without any back up but that is Bexley council‘s fault for not allowing at least an audio recording to be made. The reports are generally made in a mickey taking style but they are as factual as I can make them from copious notes. At least I attend before making a report, I do not rely on a council press release.


Harassment


This issue rumbles on. Tomorrow Olly Cromwell is due in court on a charge of harassing Bexley council. I don’t fully understand why. He was warned via a Harassment Letter (Form 9993) of criticising councillors by writing on the Bonkers blog. I wasn’t aware that criticism was a criminal offence and in any case Olly has never even asked to post his blogs here. He wouldn’t want to and I wouldn’t let him. The main difference between this blog and You’ve Been Cromwelled is that the latter is liberally peppered with expletives all of which I heard (and read on the subtitles) in the 18 Certificate film I watched last night. Is it the criticism or the bad language that councillors (led by Melvin Seymour according to police reports) don’t like? If it is bad language then I doubt it is illegal to use it. Sometimes tasteless and often over the top, but surely not illegal? And if it is criticism they don’t like then presumably I will be next on their list.

Melvin SeymourI shall attend Mr. Cromwell’s harassment by Bexley council. (9 a.m. Monday at Bexleyheath magistrate’s court.) I thought long and hard about it but I want to know exactly what goes on and be able to report it here by Monday afternoon. Presumably everyone knows that Bexley councillors and magistrates are to some extent synonymous?

I have not yet received any comment from Bexleyheath police about them wrongly circulating news that Bexley is Bonkers was to be prosecuted. If they can’t bring themselves to say sorry for their cock-up that will be a letter in the post to the Directorate of Professional Standards tomorrow to join a much longer one to the IPCC about DI Keith Marshall, Chief Inspector Tony Gowen and CS Dave Stringer.

Did you know that councillor Seymour is a painter and decorator by trade? He must be a good one because as far as I know he is the only one endorsed by Bexley council. They are as the Prime Minister is fond of saying, “All in it together”. I mean the trough of course. Click the image to go to the council’s webpage.

Note: The link from the image above now shows the council’s withdrawal of their endorsement of councillor Seymour’s business. To see how it was originally, click here.


Notomob


Someone thought I was jumping the gun on the issue of Bexley's CCTV certification. What you read was a small part of what came out of a long conversation with Nigel Wise who has beaten Richmond, Westminster and recently Medway (subject to any appeal) councils in the courts. Notomob’s local coordinator told me much the same story and sent a copy of what he had passed to the local press. Nigel knows his stuff on parking law, that is why he beats councils and if he tells me what is going on I tend to believe him, and in any case I erred on the side of caution, keeping most of the information back. Neither Nigel or Notomob’s local coordinator believes I went too far.


Obscene blog


On 23rd August Elwyn Bryant and I both received letters from Bexleyheath police that enquiries were exhausted but on 16th September I received another to tell me I would be informed when the enquiries were concluded. If we can believe Bexley council they almost certainly never started so I wrote to Borough Commander Stringer asking for a simple yes or no answer. Finished or not? He doesn’t know. I shall prepare another letter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.


The petition


I’ve not yet received today’s report but yesterday the number of signatures passed 1800. One poor lady from the Czech Republic was worried about signing it in case the Secret Police came and took her away. She was assured that they wouldn’t but given the experience of Martin Peaple and Olly Cromwell perhaps her signature was obtained under false pretences. What I hadn’t realised until today is that the petitioners are dropping off their Craske leaflet while getting signatures in his ward.


This website


As must be obvious by now, I enjoy messing around with the technical side of things, so I occasionally come up with a hare-brained scheme. I have arranged that the web address www.bexley-is-bonkers.com will always go to the latest blog. That is because it is what most visitors come for and there have been times when the Bonkers Home page is not very welcoming to new readers. When there is a need for the address to be written down the .info form will always been used in preference to the .co.uk.

Rather more hare-brained perhaps is an idea to allow correspondents who insist on remaining anonymous to participate in a two way conversation and still retain anonymity. If a particular word on a particular page was nominated as a door into the secure area of this website (there is one), the chances of finding the word would be millions to one. Then the secure section would require a user name and password to open it. So if someone identified a page, and a single word within it, then gave a name for the secure area and chose a user name and password, two way anonymity could be achieved via the webpage. The reply could not identify the intended recipient because the name wouldn’t be known. All very clandestine but do I have time for yet more correspondence? It was just a thought by someone who likes a technical challenge…

 

5 November - Bexley recycling - must do better

Saved £3 million last yearNobody would deny that Bexley provides a good refuse collection service, well maybe my next door neighbour would. He puts his food waste in the brown bin within a black sack and more often than not it’s not taken. Yesterday’s collection vehicle was adorned with a poster congratulating residents on saving £3 million last year by recycling. As the profit and loss account was much the same last year as the one before you can make up your own mind about whether it is just another worthless slogan like ‘Listening to you, working for you’. The £3m. a year saving isn’t going to reduce the overall cost to zero in five years time.

Bexley owes its high position in the recycling league to the abnormally large amount of compostable material put out by residents. We must be so affluent that we throw away too much food. If you look at last year’s figures you will see that for dry recycling (tins, plastic, glass and paper) Bexley was only eighth best in percentage terms. First was Kingston and Bromley was second. For compost Harrow was first and Bexley was second. Only the huge amount of compost collected allowed Bexley to claim an overall top spot; but maybe not for long.

Last year Bromley came nowhere in the composting league table for the simple reason they didn’t collect it, but now they do. For the most recent quarter for which figures are available Bromley has pushed into top place on 49·76% while Bexley has fallen to 48·50%. Bexley retains top spot for the year as a whole but Bromley’s late entry into the contest transformed the latter part of it. Bexley’s recycling statistics have got worse for each of the last four quarters. Maybe in these straitened times we are eating the left overs instead of scraping them into the bin.

The recycling figures for the best boroughs all seem to be stuck around the 50% mark but maybe that shouldn’t be regarded as a natural plateau. I don’t usually weigh my own rubbish but the last two week’s of non-recyclables was under five pounds (2Kg). I would guess the stuff I put in the recycling bins must have been 20 pounds or more. I hope councillor Gareth Bacon will be suitably impressed. The secret I find is to pursue councillor Craske’s agenda. Whenever possible, keep well away from shops.

Latest recycling statistics for London.

 

4 November (Part 2) - The net tightens

Proposed Freedom of Information request to Bexley council

Chief Executive Will Tuckley will have received a letter from Mr. Knight of Belvedere on 6th June (delivered by hand) about a hateful blog detailing his visit to the Civic Centre on 20th May 2011. The obscene blog disappeared from the Internet the same day. On 9th June, Mr. Tuckley rightly said "I consider this amounts to an allegation of serious criminal offences" and that "I have referred the matter to the police". Council Leader Teresa O’Neill received a similar hand delivered letter the same day as Mr. Tuckley.

• Does Mr. Tuckley or Council Leader O'Neill believe their timely actions led to the removal of the obscene blog within hours of them being formally notified of its existence?

• Does Mr. Tuckley or Council Leader O'Neill know the names of those who may have published or caused to be published the obscene blog published in the name of Mr. Knight?


The revelations about the hate crime committed by Bexley council or someone linked to it continue to provide contradictions. If Will Tuckley reported the crime to the police as he claimed to have done on 9th June it shows a remarkable neglect of his duty to not follow up “serious criminal offences” when five months later he had heard nothing about his own report to Bexleyheath police. One of his key job responsibilities as detailed on the council’s website is to “to provide guidance and advice on major or sensitive issues and maintain an organisational culture which promotes high standards of public service”. Is obscene blogging maintaining those high standards?

I must be soft hearted but I feel a little sorry for Borough Commander Stringer. He came from Croydon, London’s premier centre for arson, to sleepy little Bexley where the crime rate is said to be lowest in the capital; and what does he find? Three murders in as many months and dragged into investigating his closest local partner, Bexley council. Faced with making criminal charges against that partner or trying to shunt a pesky little blogger into the long grass, it may have seemed like an easy choice at the time. Now it is all pear-shaped. Complaints to the Information Commissioner, the Met’s Director of Professional Standards, the IPCC and the Met's top man, Bernard Hogan-Howe. Files marked RESTRICTED and enough contradictory correspondence to sink the proverbial battleship. Additionally this website is visited daily (several times most days) by MPs, the Greater London Authority, Government Departments and the media (†). The new Borough Commander should have chosen his friends more carefully.

As always blogs are supported by documentation. The Site map provides easy access to ‘Documents’. More will be added over coming days.

† Data based on website reports and statistics.

 

4 November (Part 1) - “There is nothing worse than a bent copper” - PC George Dixon of Dock Green

Dixon of Dock Green Stringer of BexleyheathShortly after I first reported that Bexleyheath police appeared to be stalling their investigation into Bexley council’s obscene blog someone emailed to forecast that they most likely would not be investigating it at all. A case of a car broken into right under one of Bexley’s CCTV cameras was cited. The police said they had exhausted their enquiries but an insider at Bexleyheath council with the necessary access permissions to view the log, knew that there had been no police request to view the tape.

As those who have followed this case closely will know, Bexleyheath police wrote on 23rd August to say “At this time all enquiries [into the publication of an obscene blog] have been exhausted”. Chief Superintendent Stringer’s Assistant Commander wrote three weeks later a confusing letter indicating that the investigation might not be concluded but a request for clarification has gone unanswered. Meanwhile a Freedom of Information request for the date on which “Bexley council’s computers have been subject to a vigorous audit” was ruled on appeal to be not in the public interest. That issue and more is now with the Information Commissioner. Now there has been another twist.

A Freedom of Information request to Bexley council (their ref. 11/994) has been answered as follows…

FOI responseSo what have we now? The Chief Executive who together with council leader Teresa O’Neill appeared to be able to get rid of the obscene blog within a few hours of it being formally reported to them says no one was interviewed. They are most certainly aware that the case was reported to the police, indeed Will Tuckley recommended and took that course of action, but according to his council, five months later, he is not aware that any police investigation took place.

CS Stringer on the other hand said on 10th August that “[I] can confirm that this matter is still under investigation, there are numerous lines to follow and examination of computer systems to pursue”. All done without any hint of it reaching the ears of Will Tuckley? It defies belief.

Bexley’s FOI response numbered 11/994 will go to the Information Commissioner today to be added to their file about the police’s refusal to provide dates and another complaint will be winging its way to the Independent Police Complaints Commissioner. Probably a report should go to Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, too.

When the FOI about dates was blocked as not being in the public interest I imagined Borough Commander Stringer making frantic phone calls to the FOI office to get them to find any excuse, however outlandish, to block the request. The scenario is looking ever more likely. There cannot be much doubt that the untruthfulness and/or deception (there may be wriggle room if a councillor or employee got someone else to set up the obscene blog) is on an industrial scale.

Dixon of Dock Green : BBC TV police drama, 1955-1976.

 

3 November (Part 2) - Council meeting 2nd November

I don’t know where to start. I am tempted to say it was a disgraceful spectacle that will have benefited the local population not one jot and leave it at that. But you may be expecting something more.

Apart from four of us from the Bonkers team and a lady who often turns out in support, the audience peaked at twelve, three of whom were wearing Bexley council identification. No one apart from myself was taking notes so I assume the press was absent again. The mayor started the meeting with his usual diatribe about protecting the public from the intrusion of recording equipment and off we went. First up a Petition against a new ADSA store.

Petition against ASDA supermarket in Belvedere

Councillor Kerry Allon (Belvedere) presented a petition from local residents "Who do not wish the overdevelopment of their small town by ASDA, sharing the current B&Q warehouse site in Lower Road Belvedere, bringing with it all of the dangers and challenges to the community that such a move entails”. This was read out taking all of 10 seconds and I was looking forward to hearing what dangers a supermarket might represent, salmonella in the chicken perhaps? But that was it, a bundle of papers changed hands without a word of debate. Next business please.

Question from the public

There was only one because the obstacles put up by Bexley council prevent serious questioning. The one that got through the net was from Tory sympathiser and one time candidate Tony Ault who asked councillor Katie Perrior (Blackfen & Lamorbey) about fostering services. I have no reason to believe Bexley’s record on this is not good; Katie told us that it cost £5,000 a week to keep each child in care so it wasn’t something to be undertaken lightly, but the reason for Mr. Ault’s planted question soon became clear. Bexley has just been rated “outstanding” for fostering services by Ofsted. Mr. Ault asked a secondary question as is his right. “Does Ms. Perrior have plans for next year?” “Yes” said Katie, “Lots”. Presumably one of them is not to travel B.A. again.

Questions from councillors

Most questions landed in councillor Craske’s (Blackfen & Lamorbey) lap so I turned down the sensitivity on my lie detector in case it went into overload.

From councillor Brian Bishop (Colyers), (edited to reduce length), “after two horrific murders, please reassure residents that Bexley is a safe place to live”. Craske launched into his trademark thank you speech to council staff and emergency services and eventually got around to telling us that the Bexley CCTV system wasn’t turned on on the fateful night. He was going to recommend that the kebab shop has its closing time changed from 2 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Councillor Sybil Camsey (Brampton) then repeated Tony Ault’s question to Katie Perrior and unsurprisingly got the same answer.

Councillor Munir Malik (Thamesmead East) came in with all guns blazing. “As the income from parking is reduced would councillor Craske tell us what the car park occupancy rate is?” Craske’s usual practice when asked for a number is to think of one, double it, and maybe put a nought on the end but this time Craske was stumped. He didn’t know. “But you claim to have made a business analysis of parking charges”, said Munir, and (paraphrased) “you must know something, and why with business spiralling downwards aren't you introducing discounted rates, no charges at night and free initial periods? You have no ideas at all” he said to a chorus of jeers and cat calls from the intellectually challenged hooligans opposite. One of their number, John Davey (Lesnes Abbey), invited Craske to recite his well known list of car parks across London that charge more than Bexley, the tourist centre of Greenwich and the new Olympic Park in Stratford. Craske has evidently not noticed that parking in the adjacent Westfield Centre is currently free.

KP nutsAmong the hooligans making excessive noise were councillors June Slaughter (Sidcup) and James Hunt (East Wickham) but they were outplayed by their neighbour who shouted at councillor Malik that he should “sit down”. My colleague who had a better line of sight than I said the verbal abuse came from Ms. Katie Perrior. Is KP nuts? Elsewhere Craske and councillor Gareth Bacon (Longlands) were jeering and pointing with gestures that were a bit too reminiscent of Nazi salutes.

In another theatrical set-piece councillor John Waters (Danson Park) asked Craske, who had run through the number of Penalty Notices issued by Bexley council, if he happened to remember how many were issued under Labour and by one of those amazing coincidences the appropriate piece of paper was already in Craske’s hand. This episode was so well handled that Craske couldn’t keep a straight face and sniggered uncontrollably throughout. He reminded councillor Malik that he had voted for a 20 pence rise in the cost of parking back in 2003 which probably makes Malik a much better economist than Craske could ever be. During the fake boom engineered by Gordon Brown demand would have stood an increase in the market price without killing the goose that laid the golden egg. But Craske, clueless as ever, doesn’t recognise that Brown’s boom is well and truly bust and the market will no longer stand being milked. Munir Malik. Not only a better economist, a better man all round.

Councillor Brad Smith (Christchurch) then planted a question designed to let Craske re-announce the three million pounds that Boris Johnson has allocated to revitalising Bexleyheath. He is going to get rid of three sets of traffic lights which shouldn’t have been put in in the first place. Councillor Margaret O’Neill (Erith) wanted to know how this was going to revitalize Bexleyheath. While the mayor got in a muddle over which of the various O’Neills was asking questions, Craske had time to scratch his head for an answer, but before my lie detector was able to beep, he admitted that he didn’t know; but the night life was going to be improved. How closing a kebab shop early helps wasn’t made clear.

Councillor Chris Taylor (Colyers) then asked a question but I’m not going to give space to pointless ones and the meeting moved on to Motions; as though the chamber had not been filled with them already.

Motions

ABC of ChairmanshipCouncillor Sandra Bauer (Thamesmead East) put forward the Motion that the council condemns those involved in the August riots. Well they are hardly going to speak up in favour are they? However it gave ample opportunity for grandstanding politicians to blow various trumpets, however credit where it is due, councillor Craske acknowledged that the good people of Bexley are not the rioting sort, and many of them volunteered to help out with food etc. for the police. Even the previously maligned ASDA was praised for donating supplies. For a borough that mercifully suffered no riot damage the motion was particularly long and drawn out. One reason was that councillor Gareth Bacon droned on well beyond his allotted time and when the Wishy Washy chairman mayor asked him to stop, he ignored him leaving mayor Sams (St. Michael’s) to regret not taking Val Clark’s (Falconwood & Welling) advice to read the ABC of Chairmanship by Citrine.

Next councillor Don Massey (Cray Meadows) was to put forward a Motion about proposals from the Boundary Commission. Having read ahead I had already commented that it looked as though the Conservatives were proposing a neat bit of gerrymandering, but before councillor Massey had a chance to speak mayor Ray Sams declared that debating time was up. Massey’s wife Sharon (Danson Park) rode to the recue pointing out that by the time the council met again next February the Boundary Commission would have stopped accepting comments. The meeting descended into turmoil with factions demanding that the mayor extended the time allowed or that standing orders be honoured. The mayor floundered and didn’t know what to do. At least five minutes was wasted while some of us pined for the days when Val Clark was in charge, she always knew what she wanted to do, even though it was often contrary to her favourite book, the passage of time, council standing orders or simple common sense. Sams was totally out of his depth and even when guided by his legal adviser managed to confuse the words sufficient and insufficient so that when he called for a vote someone had to call out “what are we voting for?”. Councillor Stefano Borella pointed out that the mayor had invoked the wrong Standing Order and his call for a vote on a time extension was thereby invalid. I’m not sure it was her place to do so but leader O’Neill (Brampton) over-ruled him and councillor Don Massey was eventually allowed to put his Motion.

In the proverbial nut shell, Massey, backed by all the Conservatives, wants to move part of Welling into the Erith constituency and both North End and Crayford wards to be moved into the Bexleyheath & Sidcup seat. As I had anticipated, the Labour party saw this as blatant gerrymandering. Putting Tory Welling in with marginal Erith might be enough to swing the latter to the right and to put the left leaning wards of the industrial north into an area which has traditionally had among the largest Tory majorities in the country wouldn't swing it enough to do any harm to the Tories. A more blatant case of gerrymandering is hard to imagine but Bexley Conservatives managed to drag up some compelling reasons why Welling and Erith, Slade Green and Sidcup were natural partners with common interests. Councillor Melvin Seymour excelled by recounting how they were linked by the events of the First World War. Additionally the A20 being a natural boundary helped his case but councillor Deadman (North End) countered that by saying so was the more northerly railway line a natural boundary. While making notes of this with my eyes lowered I realised that without the benefit of sight it is near impossible to distinguish between Deadman speaking and council leader O’Neill. The Motion was carried. Let’s hope the Boundary Commission can recognise skullduggery when it stares them in the face.

Next the immaculately attired councillor Stefano Borella (North End) with no clothes flapping this time was due to put a motion about “equality and human rights and in particular the work to promote gay rights” but he was ruled well and truly out of time.

Miscellaneous musings

Councillor Chris Ball recalled that the Sunday Times, not an organ to usually castigate the Tories, had made Bexley “nationally notorious” with its tales of stealth taxes. Leader O’Neill countered this by saying that the lady featured had said that her family finances were being threatened but the example given by the newspaper was not a council imposed charge. She couldn’t remember what it was and I curbed my inclination to call out that it was the cost of hiring a boat in Danson Park.
Councillor Peter Catterall (Falconwood & Welling) provided a logical explanation of why we may not be seeing the same staff in libraries as often as we did. With library hours reduced, staff have to make up time elsewhere according to some sort of rota system. It’s hardly ideal but unavoidable given the cuts to the service.

When councillor Stefano Borella said something not altogether complimentary about Boris Johnson, the Conservatives, many of them standing and gesticulating, erupted into mocking and jeering. Craske and Gareth Bacon stood out with their particularly undignified behaviour.

Councillor Craske was asked about the alleged 70 ways of getting a parking ticket and responded that it wasn’t true, the number was nearly 90. During the meeting Craske managed to slip in his notorious lie that Labour don’t know that Bexleyheath has a railway station twice but managed to inform us that Southeastern are going to install a lift there. Pity about the lack of disabled access at Erith.

Leader Teresa O’Neill had possibly been out celebrating Olly Cromwell’s predicament a little too hard because she had turned into Mrs. Malaprop for the evening. While speaking about the August riots she said to much laughter that councillors were responsible. She also said that councillor Perrior had assiduously “looked after children [in care] to death” and that Bexleyheath’s Christmas decorations are going to “set Broadway alight”.

Councillor Colin Campbell (St. Mary’s) it should be noted had apparently visited a charity shop after all and sported a red tie. I was wearing the silk blue one he declined to accept last month.

I left the meeting to catch the 22:04 bus home. The meeting had a little time still to run. By the time I left there were perhaps two, maybe three people left in the public gallery not wearing Bexley badges.

 

3 November (Part 1) - Bexley-is-Bonkers to be prosecuted

BBC Panorama report

It wouldn’t be fair to keep you in suspense; it’s not true, but it is what Bexley council’s military wing have circulated. You would expect the police to send out a weekly newsletter to newspapers, the great and the good, and their councillor paymasters;, and so they do. And what would you expect to get top billing this week? The fact that the IPCC are looking into their handling of the Broadway murder of Sally Hodkin? Progress that may have been made in the case of the Paul Gunner murder in Bexley village? Their ‘Day of Action’ on bogus builders as reported in yesterday’s News Shopper? No, heading the list of Bexleyheath police’s finest achievements are the words ‘Bexley is Bonkers’ and a report that goes on about “abusing councillors and local authority staff’ and then to gloat over a charge of “Harassment under [the] Prevention of Harassment Act“ and that the Bexley council critic “is to appear at Bexley Magistrates court on 7th November 2011”.

News to me; but don't you just love their sense of priorities? The crime of the week is to upset councillors. Actually the accusation under the Harassment Act that I received didn’t say anything about harassing the poor dears. I was accused of criticising them. Somebody has to, they have got away with riding rough shod over the population for far too long.

So who in our glorious police farce made that mistake? Step forward Tony Gowen, Bexleyheath’s Professional Standards Chief Inspector. I wonder if it was he who sent me the unsigned letter to say that in the six months since I complained about the issue of that letter, he has not been able to locate DI Keith Marshall who issued it and who writes from the very same address as Tony Gowen. You would think their paths may have crossed on the stairs or something by now, but apparently not. If you can believe Bexleyheath police, DI Marshall has disappeared into thin air and in his absence all they could do was take my word against Will Tuckley’s, who, or so an insider tells me, persuaded the police to take action by telling them I was threatening “their personal safety”; or maybe the police suggested that to him, I don’t know which.

Maybe DI Marshall is one of the 489 police officers who escaped their just deserts by resigning as revealed by this week’s BBC Panorama and if so why didn’t Bexleyheath police tell the truth?

For failing to find his colleague who works in the same building over a period of six months or calling his number on the internal telephone system, and taking the side of Will Tuckley who may not have told the truth, well someone made up the personal safety story, Bexleyheath police have earned themselves another report to their Directorate of Professional Standards and as the original complaint remains unanswered the Independent Police Complaints Commission are on the receiving end of a letter too.

All because a man on a quarter of a million pounds pay package can’t make a decent judgement call when he needs to. Good value for money though as council leader Teresa O’Neil never tires of telling us, but only if you are in need of a laugh.

Note: The Metropolitan police have refused to confirm (under the Freedom of Information Act) whether DI Marshall actually exists or not.

 

2 November (Part 2) - Council meeting tonight

Sidcup ChronicleWe've waited for sixteen weeks for this evening’s council meeting, more than enough time for councillors to have perfected the choreography of their rare public performance, for if anyone believes a Bexley council meeting to be open democracy in action they are sorely deluded. Their Agenda begins with the words (in bold type), “Audio/visual recording of this meeting is not permitted without prior approval of the Chairman”. No one mentions that all requests to be allowed to follow government guidance on filming are turned down. No exceptions. Indeed anyone who tries is likely to end up in Court.

The council has rejected questions submitted by the public with a variety of reasons aimed at putting the lid on democratic debate. There is one exception designed to give a platform to councillor Perrior. John Ault asks her to “remind members briefly what their responsibilities are as Corporate Parents”. Sounds like an obvious plant by the one time Tory candidate for Erith to me. Another example of Bexley council’s despicable underhand trickery and the depths to which Tories like John Ault and David Leaf before him are willing to lower themselves.

The only likely opportunity for ‘fireworks’ will be councillor Kerry Allon’s petition against ASDA opening a store in Belvedere. I’m not sure where I stand on that one. It would be good to be able to walk to a supermarket, my nearest at the moment is more than 2½ miles away, but on the other hand the local roads are totally unfit (thanks to deliberate narrowing by Bexley council) for the traffic we have now, let alone more; and I wouldn’t like to see the end of the pharmacist, newsagent and excellent electrical store there at present.

Picture (Mayor Sams and Chief Executive Will Tuckley) from the Sidcup Chronicle. Their photographer has a wicked sense of humour.

 

2 November (Part 1) - Website changes

Recent correspondence included a request to make the blog more easily accessible; it appears some people (actually, having monitored usage, it is rather a lot) are reaching the blog through the Home page and taking one of the blog links from there. There are easier ways such as Favourites or Desktop shortcuts but as an experiment the web server instructions were changed yesterday to intercept requests for www.bexley-is-bonkers.co.uk and route them straight through to the blog. The Home page was bypassed but remained available via the Menu. Night owls may have noticed the change.

Unfortunately the technical trick is likely to seriously affect the site’s Google ranking so it has been abandoned already. As a substitute www.bexley-is-bonkers.com has been introduced and will always route directly to the current blog. It will be used in preference to the co.uk on printed material and regular readers who call in only for the blog may prefer it. Apart from that; no change!

It may take a few hours for the substitute address to become available at all ISPs.

As anticipated, today’s News Shopper was not able to cover the Notomob’s activities at the Civic Centre last Friday.

 

1 November (Part 2) - Notomob News

The News ShopperAnyone hoping to see something in tomorrow’s News Shopper about Bexley council’s CCTV cars after reading Sunday’s blog may be in for a disappointment. I don’t know for sure but my understanding is that the News Shopper wrote their story but as most people will know, the press is obliged to seek comment from both sides when covering issues such as this. Well it is very possible that Bexley council didn’t get back to the News Shopper with their comment. It won’t be the easiest feature to write, it’s complicated, so maybe extra time is for the best. The story won’t go away. Given that another Bexley resident has been murdered since the last issue I doubt the Shopper is short of things to fill its pages - but my own plans for tomorrow will have to be amended!

I might take the day off. There is correspondence with the Independent Police Complaints and the Information Commissioners which needs to be completed.

 

1 November (Part 1) - Will Tuckey, Chief Executive. Big time failure

Will TuckleyThe decision by our quarter million pound “good value for money” Chief Executive Will Tuckley to report those who criticize his dishonest council to the police continues to have ramifications. As a result the police find themselves reported to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and Bexley council are in trouble with the Information Commissioner for various refusals to conform to the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), not least for refusing to reveal that woeful Will made the original misjudgment. His stupidity continues to reverberate around the Civic Centre.

A Bonkers reader who had not contacted me before copied to me his 15 point Harassment related FOI to Bexley council. One of the questions is “Since that [Harassment] letter refers to allegations of “CRITICISM” and nowhere to allegations of “HARASSMENT” would you please advise why the London Borough of Bexley wrote this knowing this to be untrue?” and goes on in similar vein. I rather like “Would you also please advise whether the London Borough of Bexley recognise Article 11 of the Human Rights Act 1998. “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.” of the Human Rights Act 1998 and abide by it?”

There is already one unanswered question about the Harassment letter not referring to harassment with the Information Commissioner after Bexley council refused to answer it.

Council leader Teresa O’Neill believes Tuckley to be “good value for money” and not the liability he has proved to be. £208,000 a year plus enough extras to bring it up to a quarter of a million and what do we get for the money? We know he gets 32 days leave a year; how many hours is he supposed to work when he is there? None actually. Nothing is laid down. “The duration of his working time is not measured or predetermined, nor can be determined by the worker himself.” Among Tuckley’s key objectives is “To ensure that the statutory duties of the Council are met.” A complete fail there then. Another is that he should “set Bexley at the leading edge of London Boroughs and as an exemplar council.”

And then there is “To build strong relationships with local stakeholders.” Not too bad there then, he has Bexleyheath police wrapped around his little finger.

Information obtained under FOI (Bexley reference 11/569) answered just a little under four months late. ‘Exemplar council’? The Information Commissioner won’t agree.

 

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