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Bonkers Blog August 2012

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31 August - The month’s medal winners

Gold medalThe Gold news award must go to Bexley council’s malicious prosecution of John Kerlen, the blogger Olly Cromwell. They failed to get him for Harassment so in cahoots with their friends in the police they went for section 127 of the Communications Act only to be pipped at the post by an Appeal Judge who listened to the prosecution case and announced that Olly had no case to answer. Along the way a few interesting things came to light.

In the Magistrates’ Court I heard councillor Melvin Seymour say that his only meeting with Olly Cromwell ended when John slammed a door in his face. Both Olly and his wife told me it was a lie but as I wasn’t there I could only harbour my suspicions. But there was no doubt that Seymour lied under oath at the appeal hearing. I heard him say that Olly encouraged people to put dog faeces and “anything else deemed appropriate” through his letter box, when everyone who saw the Tweets knows there was no mention of dog faeces, letter boxes or “anything else”. Those who were in Court will have heard the witless witness councillor Sandra Bauer say she had read the Tweets to Seymour and sent them to him. In typical Bexley council fashion the whole expensive fiasco was based on a lie.

But the lying didn’t end in Court. A council spokesman told the News Shopper that the Judge found Olly’s Tweet to be offensive and that the restraining order had been kept in place. In fact the Judge said only that the Tweet may have been “uncivilised” and the C word “may be offensive to some people”. The restraining order was relaxed to the point the only thing Olly cannot do is contact Seymour directly. All his democratic rights were restored. And in an interesting insight into how Bexley council chooses to operate, its spokesman said it was "disappointed" that a miscarriage of justice had been averted.

Silver medalCouncillor Val Clark is awarded the Silver for her sterling effort to get councillor Alan Downing off the hook for his bad tempered reaction to a simple request to switch a microphone on. Val Clark took inventiveness to a new level. Among her submissions were that a councillor is not a councillor after official business is concluded. So if you see one in the street please call him Mister.

Remember too that if you are deaf and intend to attend a council meeting you should give them notice - unless of course Val Clark was simply lying to excuse mayor Downing his trip to see the Monitoring Officer for some valuable advice. It’s always possible where Clark is concerned.


Bronze medalLimping home in third place is Chief Executive Will Tuckley who suffered an unfortunate injury to his writing hand, preventing him from replying to any Freedom of Information requests or answering any letters for the past six weeks. When he is fully recovered we may learn a little of what he does to justify his quarter million pounds of sponsorship money and how many councillors have been subject to criminal investigation in the past 18 months.

Bexley council; inspiring a generation.

 

30 August - The silly season

Holiday homeWhile Bexley council is on its protracted summer break one must dig ever deeper for news. The situation isn’t helped by Bexley council’s presumably deliberate tactic of not answering any questions or offering any reaction to complaints about that policy. Will Tuckley appears to have been struck totally dumb. Presumably the Information Commissioner will have something to say about it sooner or later.

The Taxpayer’s Alliance (TPA) has reported that Bexley council pays its councillors close to the average for London Boroughs but it’s still a nice little bonus for doing not a lot especially for those augmenting a pension or financing their second homes in the country etc.

The TPA is not the only outfit conducting surveys to fill in the summer break. One reported in Home & Property magazine rates Bexley’s planning department, and by implication its planning committee, highly - or at least ‘approval friendly’ which may not be the same thing. Nearly 90% of Bexley’s planning applications are nodded through. I can imagine that those most affected by the burgeoning Tesco Town phenomenon (how many do we have now, nine?) and within earshot of their air-conditioning systems may not be so charitable as Homes & Property.

The Duchess public house is the latest site to be approved for conversion to a Tesco Express.

 

29 August - Teresa O’Neill. Putting children at risk - because she can

News Shopper report• 21st June - An unidentified 42 year old from Sidcup is arrested on a charge of Misconduct in Public Office. (Source: News Shopper.)
• 24th June - Cabinet member Peter Craske resigns his cabinet post for personal reasons.
• 29th June - Cabinet member Katie Perrior takes on half of Craske’s responsibilities to add to her portfolio of ‘Children’s Services’. Ms. Perrior is the director of her own public relations company and “juggles family life with 20 plus hours a week of council work” as she admitted in a letter to a local newspaper.
• 18th July - A member of the public, Danny Hackett, asks council leader Teresa O’Neill at the quarterly council meeting why she chose to add Craske’s public safety responsibilities to Perrior’s already full workload. O’Neill famously replies “Because I can” officially recorded as follows.
Because I can
• 24th August - Chief Executive Will Tuckley places an apology on Bexley council’s website following a less than glowing OFSTED report on Bexley’s failing children’s services.
• 29th August - News Shopper carries the report. Click upper image for their on-line account.

Further responsibilities for a cabinet member already moved to complain about her lot to the Bexleyheath Chronicle might be seen to be ill-judged. Looks like Danny, an 18 year old Labour party activist, has a greater understanding of good management and child welfare than the leader of Bexley council. No surprise there then.

 

28 August - John Waring. Not environmental health, just a mental elf.

Found in Rita Grootendorst's gardenBexley council's 'letter' to Rita GrootendorstI dropped in on Rita Grootendorst on Saturday, she and her husband were busy tidying up after the builder. On the way in I had to negotiate stored building materials, there is very little room to keep the front garden organised. One item made me think that Rita was expecting another visit from her favourite stalker, John Waring of Bexley council’s environmental health department.

Rita told me that Waring had been around on 15th August and left what a covering note calls a letter. If two well filled lever arch files is a letter perhaps the Guinness Book of Records should be told about it. It will have kept Waring employed for a week or two preparing that, one must wonder if he ever does anything that is not obsessively spiteful. As usual his intent is to bog Rita down with worry and anxiety. As if to prove it, just six days later he had the council’s rather unpleasant solicitor write to her complaining that Rita had not yet responded.

I cannot imagine any Court official reading through it any more than I was able to in an hour or so but I did note that much of what Rita has written is dismissed as “a tirade” and often she is not answered. I also found photographs purporting to be of dangerous structures. viz. a small quantity of wood stored on top of a polycarbonate roof when if the camera had been pointed in the opposite direction it would have recorded a similar scene in a neighbour’s garden.

Bexley council said in the latest letter that if Rita does not respond immediately they will assume she agrees with what they say about her. Always unreasonable, constantly vindictive.

While reading Rita‘s ‘letter’ a short but ferocious thunderstorm broke out putting her new roof to the test. There was a minor leak around an unfinished roof light so it coped reasonably well which is more than one can say for Bexley council’s drainage system. This was what I encountered on the way home.
FloodFloodFloodFlood
The scenes shown here are repeated after every significant rainfall and ignored by Bexley council for more than 25 years. If only they would do what we pay them for rather than persecute pensioners who have won awards for their garden.

Index to Grootendorst related blogs.

 

27 August - Readers comments - Shard to charade

The Shard The Black Horse Inn, SidcupFive blogs from the past week owe their existence to very welcome tip offs from readers. There were more, some of which are not appropriate for use right now, but a couple are.

One message told me that the contractor chosen to refurbish the new Civic Offices is coming down in the world. The same company, Mace, built the Shard at London Bridge. It is particularly interesting to note that Mace have been given responsibility for “furniture provision, fixtures and equipment” and “responsibility for move management”. Buying desks seems to be a long way removed from sticking a crane on top of the Shard. Does Bexley council know what it is doing?

I expressed some misgivings about the bland appearance of the new Travelodge in Sidcup and lamented the lack of the veranda which prompted The Sidcup Community Group to send a copy of the plan. The developer has a way to go yet and seems unlikely to be forgiven for bringing down the old facade which was supposed to be preserved.

Blaming the developer and Bexley council in equal measure the SCG reminds us that “after the developers had excavated an underground car park and positioned a concrete crusher immediately behind the Black Horse facade (which had scaffolding around it erected in such a way that the facade was supporting it rather than the reverse), the developers returned for permission to complete the demolition. Going back on undertakings, in order to ensure that the total destruction of the Black Horse was rubber-stamped”.

A thinly veiled suggestion that the original facade was weakened by careless construction methods, or worse.

 

26 August - Safest borough in London. Not if you are black

Police thugsPolice thugsI had planned to be writing to the police this weekend - the Directorate of Professional Standards are still asking questions - but a report in yesterday’s Guardian ensured I would be writing about them too. That report tells how a young black lad was wrestled to the ground in Sidcup High Street by PC John Lovegrove and an accomplice, both of Bexleyheath police. It was about the fiftieth occasion the youth had been stopped and searched apparently for no other reason than he is black. Never has he been found to be doing anything wrong.

This time PC Lovegrove was responding to a call that a white youth had been seen with a knife, but never mind, when needs must any black man will do. What a disgrace. Another uniformed thug.

The black youngster found himself being prosecuted at Bromley Youth Court charged with assaulting a police officer. In particular spitting and causing PC Lovegrove’s hand to be grazed while being felled. The CCTV evidence proved that Lovegrove had made it all up. The CPS said “This youth was charged by the police with assaulting a constable and our review of the case relied upon a summary of the evidence and other information provided by the police. We fully accept we should have reviewed all of the evidence more thoroughly before the beginning of the trial”.

That’s pretty much the same as when Teresa O’Neill and Will Tuckley dishonestly reported me to the police for threatening violence towards them. The CPS accepted it without question and recommended prosecution. The police’s victim in Sidcup High Street is going to sue. Maybe Bexleyheath’s police commander Victor Olisa will look into putting Lovegrove on a perjury charge. What with today’s revelations and yesterday’s Olisa’s reputation is in danger of heading the same way as his predecessor’s.

Click either image above for the Guardian’s report or Google “PC john lovegrove sidcup” for many more.

CPS websiteWhile perusing the Crown Prosecution Service’s website I came across this. Maybe Chief Superintendent Olisa could consider a charge of Misconduct in Public Office as well as perjury. PC John Lovegrove would appear to have fallen foul of the first two examples of that offence.

I can think of more who might be guilty of the same offence. Teresa O'Neill is very clearly identified by the police as naming John Kerlen and me as the source of the flaming torches metaphor. Will Tuckley was later forced into admitting he did the same and councillor Phil Read maliciously reported John Kerlen to the police for an imaginary breach of his bail conditions. I think I’ll have a word with John to see if he would join me in making a formal allegation of Misconduct in Public Office. Not to Bexleyheath police obviously as the bulge in their carpet is big enough already. I am informed that Scotland Yard has a department that specialises in this sort of thing.

 

25 August (Part 2) - Safest borough in London. For criminals?

Dail Mail headlineFrom yesterday’s Daily Mail. Click Image for full report. I had hoped this sort of thing might have departed with CS Dave Stringer, but it would appear not.

“I just couldn’t believe they’d took the word of someone who’d shot my son over and above me and the fact my son might have had a head trauma and I couldn’t take him to be looked at by a doctor.”

It sounds familiar. When I complained to Bexleyheath police about the harassment warning issued to me they refused to uphold my complaint saying “The allegation of crime is the only reference point” implying that my input was worthless. It was subsequently found that the allegation was by Will Tuckley and Teresa O’Neill and the IPCC eventually confirmed that no offence had been committed. Taking the word of a criminal over an innocent father doesn’t surprise me at all.

 

25 August (Part 1) - Reptile found in Frognal Avenue

ReptileOne of my correspondents thought this was very amusing, well maybe it is, just a bit. But as it is a Bank Holiday weekend and I am not going to spend it hunting down more serious stuff, I’ll indulge him. Just this once.

Click image for source web page.

 

24 August (Part 3) - The arrogant and dismissive Alan Downing

Val ClarkSybil CamseyAlan DowningTime to bring this sorry saga to a close but not without highlighting another example of councillor Val Clark’s ludicrous lack of logic and eagerness to be seen as one of Bexley’s most dishonest and deceitful politicians.

A couple of years ago Bexley councillor Geraldene Lucia-Hennis had a row with a member of the public and was censured by the Standards Board. She was ordered to undertake anger management training.

She argued that she was ‘off duty’ at the time but the council said that being a councillor was a 24 hours a day job. There is a report about it on the Bexley Times website although it is currently rendered unreadable by a misplaced advertisement.

Later: There is a similar report at the News Shopper but it lacks the councillor’s own comment below.


Bexley TimesGeraldene is not the only councillor who doesn’t agree with 24/7 responsibility. Val Clark has tried to pull the same idiotic stunt to excuse the extraordinarily stupid Alan Downing.

The pen jabbing, which is now said to be “gesticulation”, the arrogance of the “I will look forward to it”, the raised voice and the dismissiveness of the instruction to go away are all to be disregarded because they took place after the meeting ended. Lucia-Hennis is a councillor 24 hours a day but in a dishonest attempt to get mayor Downing off the hook Clark decrees he bears no responsibility for anything after a meeting has ended.
Extract from council excuse sheet
How is that for crookedness?

And don’t forget that the earlier decision by councillors Alex Sawyer and Cheryl Bacon was overturned.
Earlier decision overturned
Then in a final act of arrogance and to emphasise that Bexley council believes it is untouchable it says this…
Bexley's final act of arrogance and dismissiveness
Bexley council believes it can do what it likes when it likes without reproach. Linda Bailey thought so when she biffed Olly Cromwell and it probably explains a correspondent’s report that councillor Sharon Massey felt able to exclaim “VIPs coming through” while barging him out of the way at the lighting of the Jubilee Beacon but I suspect this latest example of Bexley council’s supreme arrogance and dismissiveness is going to be challenged.

 

24 August (Part 2) - Bexley worst in country for food hygiene

RatNot a failure to be laid directly at Bexley council’s door and arguably quite the reverse but the shocking facts are that food establishments in Bexley are the least hygienic in the whole country.

Bexley council in common with all local authorities now rates the food hygiene standards for all businesses in its area. You can search for your local restaurant or takeaway here. All my local outlets score zero or one out of five. 8·46% of establishments in Bexley scored zero. “Urgent improvement necessary.”

There is no requirement to exhibit the rating but a National Trust café I was in last Sunday was proudly showing its score of five. The highest possible score. Mind you, at their prices I would expect nothing less.

 

24 August (Part 1) - Bexley council. In a hole again

Daily TelegraphAccording to The National Cyclists’ Organisation which runs a website collating reports and statistics on potholes, Bexley only fixes 27% of its holes in the road, which puts it in 97th place out of the 214 authorities on their list. Not as good as Greenwich but twice as good as Lewisham. Bromley with its lower taxes manages to fix 90% of holes.

Brampton Road north of King Harolds Way seems to be one big pothole. I suspect the road was simply not built to a high enough standard and the subsoil is insufficient to take the load.

The news cutting is from today’s Daily Telegraph.

 

23 August (Part 4) - Let’s see them wriggle out of this one

Dept. for Communities web pageIn Bexley it may be a case of we’ll believe it when we see it. Click image for original web page.

Perhaps new readers would appreciate a short history lesson?

Eighteen months ago precisely Bob Neil who is Eric Pickles' right hand man wrote to councils to tell them they should make friends with bloggers and welcome recording devices into the council chamber. Bexley council has far too many dirty secrets to have anything to do with that so they changed their Constitution to explicitly forbid it. At every public meeting you will hear the Chairman, except councillor Alex Sawyer who is either forgetful or cannot bring himself to lie, trot out the excuse that the ban on recording is to protect members of the public from cameras. It's a lie, the ban applies to audio recording too at meetings where the public is not allowed to speak. Bexley council, you may recall, is at the forefront of filming people without permission as a glance skywards in many a main road will confirm.

Teresa O'Neill and Eric PicklesJohn Kerlen, aka Olly Cromwell, defied the filming ban and was consequently assaulted by councillor Linda Bailey, aka Biffa, and then banned from council meetings and maliciously prosecuted for comments which he didn’t make. That brings us pretty much up to date. I think we can assume that Bexley council is dead set against all steps towards transparency and accountability.

Eric Pickles however takes very much the opposite view. Unfortunately he has never shown any inclination to apply any sanctions to refuseniks like O’Neill and co. But today Eric has turned the screw by several notches. He says…

“New legal rights for citizen reporters: Local authorities are now obliged to provide reasonable facilities for members of the public to report the proceedings as well as accredited newspapers. This will make it easier for new 'social media' reporting of council executive meetings thereby opening proceedings up to internet bloggers, tweeting and hyperlocal news forums.”

and

“Crucially councils will no longer be able to cite political advice as justification for closing a meeting to the public and press. In addition any intentional obstruction or refusal to supply certain documents could result in a fine for the individual concerned.”

Not surprisingly after his recent ordeal at the hands of a corrupt council, Olly Cromwell whipped out his pen pretty quickly and dashed off the following to Uncle Eric. Quite right too. It is clear that complaining to Bexley council about its law breaking only results in a tissue of lies of the sort perpetrated by councillor Val Clark over the pen jabbing mayor. It is necessary to take the fight to outside bodies. Not just the Information Commissioner and the Local Government Ombudsman, but the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Government Departments and Scotland Yard. Bexley council’s activities need to be known more widely.


Dear Mr. Pickles,

I cordially invite you to attend one of the following two events in the London Borough of Bexley:

The Public Cabinet Meeting - 16 October 2012 7:30pm
The Council Meeting - 7 November 2012 7:30pm

I appreciate that you are an extremely busy person however I would urge you to please make an attendance at either of these meetings. I feel the need to explain:

First I'd like to refer you to the following link from February last year:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/localgovernment/pdf/1850773.pdf

To save you too much hassle it is a letter from Bob Neill to all council leaders explaining the need for them to ensure that at all times an atmosphere of transparency and accountability should be created, by allowing citizen bloggers and journalists to film/record meetings of the council.

With this in mind I attempted to film a council meeting in March of last year and the council attempted to reject me from the meeting. As a result the council amended their standing orders demanding that anyone who was interested in filming these meetings would need to seek permission in advance from the mayor.

I did this on numerous ocassions and each time this request was denied. Before each meeting of the council starts the mayor reads a standing order which prohibits anyone from recording these meetings and says he has not given anyone permission to do so. In direct defiance of the guidelines set out by Mr. Neill. I did on several other occasions present Mr. Neill’s letter to the security at the council meeting but they were insistent that no filming was allowed. Being a somewhat headstrong person I did on some ocassions attempt to film the meetings, and there was once an incident where a councillor assaulted me to try and stop me from filming.

As a result of these attempts, I was banned from council meetings for six months due to my “disruptive" behaviour”. When the limit of the ban ran out I was again banned for another six months from council meetings, effectively stopping me from my right to access democracy.

I see with interest that today your department has issued this release:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/2204576

Again urging councils to allow citizen bloggers and journalists to record meetings of the council.

I would therefore like to invite you to either one of the meetings mentioned above to witness how the London Borough of Bexley is not only ignoring government guidelines but is flouting them in an attempt at subverting an accountable and transparent democracy.

Please note I have copied editors from all the daily nationals and other interested parties into this email.

I look forward to your RSVP.

Many Thanks
John Kerlen

 

23 August (Part 3) - The arrogant and dismissive Alan Downing

Councillor Alan DowningMr. Bryant was not the only complainant in the Alan Downing pen jabbing saga, Mick Barnbrook of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group was not to be outdone by his friend Elwyn. From Bexley council’s response to him I learned that pen jabbing to bring emphasis to a bad tempered display could be “construed as gesticulation” and once again that the words “I don’t want to interrupt the meeting but I cannot hear what councillor Craske is saying” were “disrespectful”, “hostile” and “inflamed the situation”. Pure fantasy. “There were a number of young people and other visitors in attendance but despite this [the interruption] was less than polite” according to Bexley council. But pen jabbing isn’t. Refusing to activate the Hearing Loop isn’t and telling the disabled to go away isn’t.

To have notified councillor Alan Downing at the end of the meeting of the intention to make a formal complaint was “threatening” and Alan Downing’s response was at all times “measured”. Measured would have been “Sorry about that, turn your microphone on please Peter”. Refusing to abide by the Equalities Act and jabbing a pen in someone’s face shows a total lack of thought on Downing’s part bearing in mind the likely consequences. No way is it “measured”. Even after all its abortive complaints to the police Bexley council is yet to grasp that belligerence, dishonesty and criminality does not best serve a public authority.

Bexley council seems to think that installing a Hearing Loop system is all it needs to do but if the microphones aren’t activated the Loop may as well not be there.
Council response
It also says that “It was not incumbent on councillor Downing to make any adjustments for a potential issue of which he was unaware”. Nonsense again. The council is obliged to provide a Hearing Loop and if Downing chooses to have it inoperative, and he did, without good reason he breaks the law. The deaf are not required to give notice of their intention to attend a council meeting. Even for those with good hearing the microphones cannot compete with a motorcycle exhaust or a police siren from outside. The deaf stand no chance without active microphones.

The council seems to be congratulating itself on the Equalities Commission not rapping some knuckles over this…
Council response
…and I feel I should explain to them why that is so. The Commission said that Bexley council should be given the opportunity to respond but they would be happy to maintain a watching brief and take a formal view on the situation if Bexley council tried to dodge the issue. The Commission accepted a fat file a week ago.

Believe it or not, there are still some more and entirely different council excuses to report. Councillor Val Clark is nothing but inventive when she has a colleague to defend. Inventive but not necessarily intelligent. No one would ever expect anything else of her.

 

23 August (Part 2) - Picklespeak

Dept. for Communities webpageFrom a new page published today on Eric Pickles’ Department for the Communities and local Government website. For how long will the anti-democracy Bexley council leader Teresa O’Neill continue to defy him?

More on this later.

 

23 August (Part 1) - Something to hide

Will TuckleyThe totally ignored Freedom of Information request for Chief Executive Will Tuckley’s business appointments for May 2012 has been referred to the Information Commissioner. Another for the June diary is also unanswered and is taking a different route. No point in duplicating things. However it is clear that Will Tuckley is having some difficulty with the concept of justifying his £258,000 salary package. Sixth highest in the country.

But it’s not the only subject which strikes Tuckley dumb, he’s gone all coy about councillors who may be criminals. “Is Bexley Council aware of any councillor being the subject of a criminal investigation by the Metropolitan Police in the last 18 months? If so, how many?” Result - total silence. That's another that will be going off to the Information Commissioner about now.

Akin Alabi, Bexley’s Head of Legal Services was talking about the very same subject at a meeting of the Standards Committee last month. He said he had correspondence with the Communities Department about it. Trying to get hold of it is proving to be impossible. Fortunately on that one there is an alternative strategy. Ask the Communities Department for a copy.

 

22 August (Part 5) - Civic Centre refurbishment contract placed

Construction newsEarlier plan for Civic Centre
The old Woolwich Building is on course to become the new Civic Centre. Refurbishment of the building is to cost £21·4 million.

Click text image for more.

The artist’s impression is of one of the earlier plans for a Civic Centre. It seems that once again Bexley council turned its back on transparency.

 

22 August (Part 4) - Olly Cromwell makes the front page of the News Shopper

News ShopperThe Shopper seems to be fully recovered from the loss of its veteran reporter Linda Piper and the new young team are right on top of its brief tackling difficult subjects fearlessly and with a degree of panache. Just as well now that its former weekly rival the Bexley Times has degenerated into a cross between The Beano and an Argos catalogue.

The whole of today’s front page is devoted to the Olly Cromwell case with a small panel devoted to Bexley council’s response. Arguably the case had nothing to do with Bexley council. Nowhere did the council show its hand in any of the Court papers. However it would be naive to think that councillor Melvin Seymour didn’t seek the approval of the Controller before spinning a bit of a yarn to the police. Maybe Teresa O’Neill gave him a tip or two on how to lie to the police and get away with it.

I find it entirely typical of Bexley council that they are “disappointed the appeal was upheld”. Would they prefer a miscarriage of justice because a District Judge was given a copy of Melvin Seymour’s lying statement? Seymour said that Olly was “urging people to put dog faeces through my letter box” and somehow no one stood up in the Magistrates’ Court to challenge that entirely dishonest statement. Of course they would prefer a miscarriage of justice, Bexley is a thoroughly dishonest council happy to harbour and protect criminals.

“We are pleased he decided to leave the restraining order in place.” The Judge didn’t. Bexley council’s spokesman is lying again. The Appeal Court Judge removed all of the restraining order apart from the bit forbidding Olly to approach his neighbour, Melvin Seymour. The Judge was very specific about the need to protect the right to freedom of speech, holding councils to account and attending their meetings etc.

Similarly the Tweet was not judged offensive. The Judge only said that the ‘C’ word was offensive to some people. It’s a small lie but it is a lie nevertheless.

Councillors’ homes may not be “legitimate” targets for abuse, no one’s home is, but like it or not, councillor’s addresses are publicly available and potentially they might be a target for some people. The Appeal Judge made a point of saying that Olly had not gone beyond that statement of the obvious. It was councillor Seymour who told the Court that Olly was “urging” people to take action. The Appeal Judge did not agree with him and said “feel free” was entirely different to “urging”. Bexley council thinks the Judge is wrong. But Bexley council has always considered itself to be above the law so why expect anything else?

Click image for News Shopper’s on line report.

 

22 August (Part 3) - The Black Horse Inn, Sidcup. Facade charade

Travelodge Black Horse Inn Black Horse InnI got a tip off that the plastic replica facade set to replace the wrought iron and wood frontage of the old Black Horse coaching inn had been put in place.

If the report isn’t premature the developers might as well have not bothered. At the moment the building couldn’t look more bland.


Original facadeBexley council turned a blind eye to the demolition of the old facade which came down without permission and whether that was due to neglect, incompetence, gullibility or something underhand remains a mystery to me. Under pressure from the Sidcup Community Group and the Bexley Civic Society the council stipulated that the developers replaced the historic frontage with something that looked very much like the original. There seems to be a long way yet to go to achieve that goal.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I know, but unless the replacement looks the same as that which was lost I cannot see the point of it all. And if the whole thing is made of Polyvinyl Chloride it is going to look very shabby and falling apart in 20 years time.

 

22 August (Part 2) - Bexleyheath police has 100% commitment. I don’t think so

Met. Police TweetElwyn Bryant and I complained to the Met. Police Commissioner about the failure of former Bexleyheath police commander Dave Stringer and his team to seriously investigate Bexley council’s obscene blog when first notified of it. Bernard Hogan-Howe referred it to his Directorate of Professional Standards who passed it back to Bexleyheath police to investigate themselves. We complained about that in a very specific and detailed letter and last Friday the DPS phoned to say they agreed it was inappropriate for Bexleyheath police to be directly involved.

During that phone call the DPS sergeant asked if I could paint in some of the background to the complaint; what led up to it etc., so I sent a fairly informal email. That would probably have remained under wraps except that yesterday I noticed that Bexleyheath police were claiming to investigate all reported crimes. Maybe it's that new broom Victor Olisa shaking things up but his predecessors could be very selective. Maybe it is appropriate to post the opening paragraphs of my email after all.


You will know from the enquiry you undertook last year at the request of the IPCC that the leader of Bexley council, its CEO and several anonymous councillors attempted to silence me and another blogger by reporting us to Bexleyheath police, accusing us of inciting violence. A third blogger who was never challenged had used a metaphor about flaming torches and pitchforks and it was pinned on me and the second blogger. As your report confirmed, this allegation went straight to the CPS on the word of Bexley council and the CPS recommended prosecution.

Only then was any investigation carried out and a DS realised that Bexley council had made a false report and that senior officers had put the cart before the horse by going directly to the CPS (to please Bexley council?). A Harassment Warning (Form 9993) was then issued in contravention of your procedures which attempted to make “criticism” a criminal offence. There was no need for Bexleyheath police to do that except to please their council 'masters'. Your report confirmed the 9993 had no validity, or words to that effect.

Before that a former leader of Bexley council became Deputy Mayor of London and was almost immediately found guilty of fraud. Abusing a GLA credit card for a sum just over £200 and a 12 week suspended sentence. Enquiries in Bexley revealed the same abuse by the same man to the tune of £2000+. Bexley council refused to report the fraud to the police and when one of my colleagues did so, Bexleyheath police told him that only Bexley council could report the crime. This as you know is wrong but it took intervention by the IPCC to get Bexleyheath police to agree. Their eventual way out was to declare that it wasn't in the public interest to investigate, so Bexley council was again spared. One of the beneficiaries of the fraudulently used credit card was the police borough commander Tony Dawson.

etc.


So there's two allegations that weren’t investigated. When Bexley council reported Olly Cromwell and myself for the pitchforks comment they didn’t investigate it, if they had they may have noticed that Olly made absolutely no reference to it on his blog. The police report says that Teresa O’Neill claimed otherwise. Neither did the police investigate the fraud in Bexley council; their priority was to protect Bexley council and to hell with the law and justice. Maybe not any more, but certainly under the previous borough commanders.

 

22 August (Part 1) - Bexley scabs

Alison Craske TweetWhile Bexley council’s planning department is doing its best to uphold the law, the son of the council deputy leader Colin Campbell continues to thumb his nose in their direction - and he is not alone in snubbing the council with which his family is so closely associated.

The Craskes are aiding and abetting the dubious activities down in Bexley too. Birds of a feather flock together, or should that be honour among thieves?

 

21 August (Part 3) -

Bonkers’ readers are an unforgiving lot with the memories of elephants and one of them thinks I am going soft. “Don’t forget Sandra Bauer’s involvement in the Grootendorst saga, she's not that innocent” said a message received soon after the blog below went on line - and I’m afraid I had. It was our Labour member for Thamesmead East who first complained about Rita. And why should she complain about a garden in far away Sidcup? Probably because the owner had stood against Bauer’s Labour Party friends in Erith and split the vote, letting in a Conservative. Maybe a bit of a bad penny after all. Link.

 

21 August (Part 2) - Councillor Sandra Bauer

Councillor Sandra BauerFrom the written evidence available prior to John Kerlen’s appeal hearing it was unclear whether councillor Sandra Bauer was the source of councillor Melvin Seymour’s untruthful police statement or whether the responsibility for it was entirely his. In those circumstances both were tarred with very similar brushes.

Last Friday I said “I’ve never been sure if councillor Sandra Bauer is a naive innocent in a wicked world or a liar who had maliciously teamed up with councillor Melvin Seymour to silence a council critic” and after listening to her and councillor Melvin Seymour give evidence that “I am going to assume that Sandra Bauer was telling the truth”. I think she was. Melvin Seymour certainly wasn’t.

It isn’t practical and probably not honest to make retrospective changes to blog posts but to set the record straight so far as is possible the following footnote has been added to those blogs which blamed either or both councillors for the untruthful references to dog faeces and letter boxes.


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.


Fifteen such footnotes are currently in place and this may go some way to correct any incorrect emphasis on the responsibility for John Kerlen ’s malicious prosecution. Ultimately it was the poisonous combination of a dishonest Conservative administration and police always ready to do as their paymasters tell them.

The rotating carousel including Ms. Bauer’s image currently appearing on some pages has also been modified.

 

21 August (Part 1) - Rita Grootendorst’s wildlife garden

Rita Grootendorst's neighbour's garden Rita Grootendorst's garden Rita Grootendorst's neighbour's gardenRita’s house extension is getting along well now after the rogue builder Chris McGuiness of 17 Sheldon Road, Bexleyheath, DA7 4PB (tel:07956 305 345) took £20,000 and disappeared.

The scaffolding gives a vantage point to see just how detrimental her garden is to the local ‘amenity’.

The photos are of the two neighbouring gardens with Rita’s in the middle. None look exceptional but Rita’s is almost entirely obscured by the trees, two shed roofs being the only sign of occupation.


Guardian report John Waring leaving in a hurryThe fourth photograph is of John Waring racing away after being caught snooping on behalf of Bexley council. Why should Rita be singled out for constant observation of progress on her extension and prosecution over her choice of garden? Ah, I remember now, she made monkeys of Bexley council when they evicted her from the Longlands allotments and they need their revenge.

Index to previous blogs on this subject.

 

20 August (Part 2) - The arrogant and dismissive Alan Downing

Councillor Alan DowningThis one could go on for days but it may need a recap each time it is resurrected. Mayor Alan Downing was found to have been disrespectful to a deaf man when he chaired a meeting but not dismissive and arrogant when he told him to go away while jabbing a pen in his face. On appeal Downing was exonerated of his disrespectfulness and suddenly it is the deaf man who is disrespectful.

There isn’t any dispute over what was said, the man rose a little from his seat, raised his hand slightly and politely addressed chairman Alan Downing.

I cannot see how it could have been done in a more civilised and gentlemanly fashion and as noted last week, Bexley council has said that all chairman should be mindful of the needs of the disabled. This is Bexley council’s account of the incident’s opening words - and its verdict on them.

The deaf man said…
There was no “situation” until the request for Craske to turn on his microphone, a request that councillor Alan Downing decided to inflame by at first ignoring the request and then refusing it. Only a cretin denies a deaf man the right to hear at a public meeting, and Downing is that cretin.

When at the end of the meeting the deaf man said he would be making a formal complaint, Downing said he “would look forward to that”. According to Bexley council that was OK because the deaf man was “hostile”. I saw no hostility but if there was any, who caused it?

The council and Downing claim to be not guilty of a failure to activate the loop, which obviously needs an active microphone if it is to work, because they had not been told in advance that a member of the public attending might be deaf.
Notice required
So in order to benefit from the microphone and loop system you have to give Bexley council advance notice. Remember that if you go to the Post Office or buy a train ticket in case it has become the norm elsewhere.

Councillor Val ClarkThe Appeal Committee, that's the utterly useless councillor Val Clark and the pathetic Sybil Camsey, ruled that “councillor Downing’s comment: You must have personal problems, could have been better” but “in the context” of the deaf man having the temerity to ask for the microphone to be switched on “was not in itself disrespectful”. They said that asking for the microphone to be switched on was “intended to promote a negative response from councillor Downing”. Ignoring the fact that that is another Bexley council lie, why did Downing not immediately defuse the situation he claims was hostile by asking councillor Craske to turn his microphone on? But a sensible response would require a decent and intelligent man to be chairing the meeting and in councillor Alan Downing we have neither of those things.

As usual, everything within quotation marks is taken directly from Bexley council’s excuse sheet. More another day…

 

20 August (Part 1) - No splashing

No divingBexley council, in the shape of Teresa O’Neill may have jumped on the bandwagon of encouraging sport last week but it wasn’t always so. Two months after coming to power in 2006, Bexley’s Conservative council wasn’t at all keen on residents honing their Olympic skills.

“Yesterday a swimmer was arrested and fined after diving into a swimming pool. Two men, aged 64 and 66, were stripped of their over-60s passes and asked to leave Erith swimming pool in Bexley on Sunday. Later that day, police arrived at one of the men’s homes and arrested him on suspicion of committing a public order offence. He was released and issued with a fixed penalty notice of £80.”

The men fined were Alan Treece of Carlton Road, Northumberland Heath and Kenny Robinson and it was said that they were a danger because young people might copy them. The pool attendant was the wife of a Bexleyheath police officer. As is well known, Bexleyheath police are always ready to help their friends.

Link1. Link2.

 

19 August (Part 3) - You’ve been Cromwelled

Perhaps you knew before I did but while I’ve been away for the weekend John Kerlen has put his website back on line following the Judge’s ruling that he is an innocent man. You’ve been Cromwelled.

The link from Bonkers’ ‘Other local blogs’ menu has been restored.

 

19 August (Part 2) - Readers’ contributions

A couple of links to augment recent blogs - supplied by readers.

Bexley council cost us all £150,000 by not listening to a resident’s complaint about one of its trees. The full court report is available here.

If you thought the Crown Prosecution Service’s constant failures in the Olly Cromwell case must have been a one-off and you weren’t convinced otherwise by the blog of 10th August then maybe this link will grab your attention. Be aware that it contains some rather graphic descriptions of homosexual activity.

None of this bodes well for prosecuting Bexley council’s obscene blogger.

 

19 August (Part 1) - Pumping irony

Teresa O'Neill Bexley TimesAbsolutely no comment.

 

18 August - Selling off playing fields and open spaces

The brief report on Bexley council selling land at knock down prices provoked a number of comments and by chance the same subject has been in the national news again with the government caught out with with their dodgy figures. One reader illustrated just how cheap Bexley’s land was sold for with a spreadsheet. Making due allowance for area and taking Bexley’s price as the reference point, this is how much more money other boroughs made.

Bexley Hillingdon Redbridge Sutton Wandworth Bromley
1x 7x 13x 191x 276x 375x
Richmond Barnet Havering Croydon Ealing Barking
397x 584x 596x 654x 998x 1289x
Haringey Harrow Merton Hackney Southwark Islington
3210x 3868x 8333x 13094x 13368x 15373x


Surely there must be a rational explanation for this? I suspect some Freedom of Information requests will be formulated before long.

 

17 August (Part 4) - John Kerlen’s Appeal report

Seven times I have been in Court with Olly Cromwell, I think I know every aspect of it now so when the Prosecutor started her spiel at 10:34 this morning I knew it was a rather superficial account but there wasn’t much to pick holes in. To say that Olly’s Tweets were ‘an out and out threat to his [Seymour’s] family” was probably gilding the lily somewhat, but then that is what this case has always been about.

The first sense that this hearing was going to go Olly’s way came as soon as the Judge made a comment. He said the prosecution case did not show that Olly intended any offence. The prosecutor argued something but she was using a dud microphone, however the Judge still thought that she would have to show some intent.

The Judge then summarised his understanding of the case for the defence barrister’s agreement. Simon Connolly, speaking for Olly, did agree but said in legalese that if the Judge did not find for Olly on the basis of the evidence he would make further submissions; based on the law of precedents etc. I believe. And so the scene was set for the first witness to be called.

I’ve never been sure if councillor Sandra Bauer is a naive innocent in a wicked world or a liar who had maliciously teamed up with councillor Melvin Seymour to silence a council critic. Whether it was a team effort or not is still not clear but she came across as a credible witness and acquitted herself reasonably well under pressure.

It was puzzling that she was absolutely insistent that she had sent copies of the Tweets to Melvin Seymour because he had said under oath at the Magistrate’s Court in April that he had never seen them before. The Prosecutor said the same two weeks ago. In the circumstances I am going to assume that Sandra Bauer was telling the truth because in other respects she seems to have been playing it straight. I shall not be using the L word about her any more because I came to the conclusion on the evidence seen today that she doesn’t deserve it. Seymour by contrast came across as the shiftiest of wide boys anxious to stretch a point or two.

Bauer said that she thought Olly’s Tweets were threatening and that is why she reported them to Seymour. Simon Connolly asked if she found Olly’s other jokey messages threatening, like the one saying he would organise a bus tour of councillors’ houses. She was eventually forced into admitting she did not. When asked if Olly’s Tweets may have been done for a laugh, she replied “Perhaps”. If she found the ‘post actual shit’ remark threatening did she check back to see if an address had been posted? “No.” “Did you ever suggest to Melvin Seymour that the threat was to put dog faeces through his letter box?” Again the answer was no.

The arresting policeman, DS Vanner, was put into the witness box. He admitted that he saw no urgency to arrest Olly quickly with the implication that he didn’t take the Tweet to be a serious threat either.

Councillor Melvin SeymourThen it was councillor Melvin Seymour’s turn. He told the Court that he was told that Olly was encouraging people to put dog faeces and “anything else deemed appropriate” through his letter box. Well that’s a new one fresh out of the Bexley council fib factory and is not what Sandra said. "I found it grossly offensive and a personal attack on my property and me” said Seymour without blushing. How an attack was to be mounted without either a name or address he did not explain. “He was actively inviting people to come to my house” and the C word is “deeply offensive” to this self employed painter and decorator.

“If he was so concerned for himself and his family about the threat, did he later check to see if Olly had Tweeted an address.” “No” he said. When asked if Olly had ever spoken to him in the street, at his home or contact him in any way the answer was again no.

The Judge had heard enough, Olly he said, had been uncivilised but his language was not grossly offensive, he had “no case to answer” and he need not be called as a witness. After a short recess he said he was inclined to keep the restraining order in force however after he read it again carefully he agreed that it got too close to curtailing Olly’s freedom of speech and said he should be “perfectly entitled to sit in a public gallery of a council meeting, it is after all supposed to be a democracy”. So Olly’s style is only cramped in the sense that he is not allowed to directly or indirectly approach councillor Melvin Seymour before 9th May 2017. I don’t suppose he wants to.

Where the Judge was less generous was in the matter of costs. Whilst he accepted that the CPS had constantly messed things up and were the cause of a lot of unnecessary expense, he refused to award more than £240, protecting he said, public funds. Had the Judge from two weeks ago been sitting things may have been different.

The Court rose at 11:57.

John Kerlen’s solicitor’s report.
His barrister’s report.

 

17 August (Part 3) - John Kerlen’s Appeal result

The Judge hearing Olly Cromwell’s Appeal this morning described his language as “uncivilised” and the ‘C’ word to be “offensive to some people” but that “in this day and age ordinary people would not consider it to be grossly offensive”. He went on to say he did not consider that Olly’s Tweets were menacing in any way, so Olly’s conviction has been overturned.

Detailed report to follow.

 

17 August (Part 2) - The root of incompetence

Evening Standard reportBexley’s Not Listening council has been ignoring residents again and it’s landed us all with a big bill. Click the image for the full story in The London Evening Standard.

Looks like a Public Realm issue to me, so that’ll be Craske again though the problems began before he came on the scene.

 

17 August (Part 1) - Billy No mates

Peter Craske Twitter Peter Craske AncestryNot only shunned by all his one time colleagues when he failed to turn up at the last council meeting, not even a reference to him under Apologies for Absence, now he is going downhill on Twitter too. Only one Follower yesterday compared to a massive two less than a fortnight ago.

Someone asked about the references to a 42 year old from Sidcup. Well as a certain obscene blogger recorded in May 2011, I have “spent a load of money signing up to Ancestry” so I may as well make use of it from time to time. It just stuck in my mind, can’t think why, I thought he was older.

 

16 August (Part 2) - Twitter Appeal

I have received two emails this afternoon and they tell their own story. First from Olly Cromwell himself…


We're on! CPS phoned barrister late last night to advise they'd found the evidence. It's the same prosecutor. Attendance of witnesses not confirmed, but assuming they have been.


And another copied to me by a helpful Bonkers reader…

 

Hi Sandra, Just to remind you. Friday 17 August 2012. You are reminded to attend court.

 

A chairman should be mindful of disabilities
Lots more to come as time permits.

 

16 August (Part 1) - The arrogant and dismissive Alan Downing. Bexley council belatedly responds

Arrogant and dismissive Alan DowningHearing loop signBexley council’s response to an appeal against their decision that mayor Alan Downing was not dismissive when he told a deaf member of the public to “sit down and be quiet” nor arrogant when saying he would “look forward” to any complaint, is now before me, all seven pages of it. Twice that if I count the separate copies sent to Elwyn Bryant and Mick Barnbrook of the Bexley Monitoring Group (BCMG) who made separate and slightly different complaints about councillor Alan Downing blatantly ignoring equalities legislation.

That appeal hearing took place on 12th June 2012 but it was 6th August and following several reminders before the verdict was sent to the complainants. The appeal was heard by the former disrespectful, dismissive and supremely arrogant mayor, Val Clark, plus the nonentity councillor Sybil Camsey. Two loyal Conservative councillors were asked to pass judgment on the new mayor Alan Downing. A totally unbiased pair if ever there was one.


Councillor Val ClarkCouncillor Sybil CamseyVal ‘Twanky’ Clark needs no introduction to long term readers; it’s not easy to pick out a highlight from her disastrous term as mayor but maybe it was abusing council address records to write to members of the public who she felt had not clapped sufficiently enthusiastically at a meeting she chaired. Camsey has been previously noted only for her honesty when asked to sign Mr. Bryant’s petition against Bexley council salaries being among the very highest in the country. She said that petitions to Bexley council are “not worth the paper they are written on” and “no one will take any notice”. I suspect Waitrose is just about to provide ample confirmation of the same thing.

As always, my interest in these things is not so much the outcome but to see how ingenious Bexley council can be in covering up its mistakes, misjudgments and criminal acts. In one respect I am disappointed with the outcome, Bexley council has not denied that any part of the complaint is false. Councillor Craske did ignore a request to switch on his microphone. Councillor Alan Downing did refuse to tell the 42 year old from Sidcup to switch it on. Downing did say that if a member of the public was deaf it was their personal problem not his. Downing did repeatedly jab a pen at his chosen victim and told him he looked forward to a complaint, then told him to go away at the end of the meeting. This is good because I get a little fed up with having to use the word liar so often when reporting Bexley council activities. But if you are expecting me to report an outbreak of honesty, think again.

The seven pages are awash with ingenious and perverse interpretations of the undisputed facts. I detect the hand of the council’s Monitoring Office in this, few councillors are bright enough to have come up with this set of excuses, certainly not the pig ignorant Clark. It starts with the claim that a man standing up and saying “Mr. Chairman, I don’t want to interrupt the meeting but I cannot hear what councillor Craske is saying” was “in itself disrespectful” and was the cause of an “inflamed situation”. Nothing to do with Downing refusing to activate the Hearing Loop then.

This smacks of desperation as does the whole reply. Clark and Camsey may have ruled that any interruption of a meeting is disrespectful but elsewhere the council says this…
A chairman should be mindful of disabilities
Lots more to come as time permits.

 

15 August (Part 2) - Valuable land going cheap. Very cheap

BBC web page Farnborough Grammar SchoolI found myself won over to some extent by the Olympics, not that I saw much of it, it is simply not my cup of tea and I rather suspect that its ‘legacy’ will take a back seat to economic reality.

The selling off of school playing fields has been a contentious issue for years if not decades. My old school (pictured in May 1958) had a huge amount of space, all gone now, and it is much the same everywhere. The BBC featured the issue just a few months ago and Bexley came in for special mention.

The report said it had sold off 128,673 square metres over the past three years for a mere £19,000. That’s about 32 acres in ‘old money’. £600 an acre sold to Redrow Homes, surely there must be something wrong there?

Click image for BBC web page.

 

15 August (Part 1) - Unreliable witness + Top barrister = Humiliation

There is still no firm news about Olly Cromwell’s appeal hearing. The Defence Barrister asked the Judge what was to be done in the event that the Crown Prosecution Service couldn’t find their lost evidence file and the Judge very sensibly decreed that to stop another unnecessary hearing and waste of everyone’s time and money, that the they must find it by 5 p.m. last Friday. Five days later no one knows what the CPS is up to. They have not notified Olly’s Defence Team, either his solicitor or his barrister, nor have they responded to any letter or enquiry. CPS incompetence knows no bounds. My guess is that even if they have found the file there will be extreme difficulty in persuading any witness who has not told the absolute truth to turn up.

Meanwhile everyone else has been advised to be in Court at 10 a.m. on the 17th August while Madam Bauer, Bexley’s most dishonourable councillor goes sick, or whatever excuse she has for non-appearance this time around.

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.

 

14 August - Deaf to reason

Things are quiet on the Bonkers front at the moment but busy for me personally so it may be a day or two before there is much new here.

No earsThere has been some correspondence about mayor Alan Downing’s pen jabbing activities. The Standards Board leaned over backwards in May (councillors Cheryl Bacon and Alex Sawyer on that occasion) to try to absolve Dim Downing from all blame but felt obliged to say “Councillor Downing’s response to the request for the microphone to be turned on could be considered as disrespectful”. Anything less and it would have been a total whitewash. However it now looks as though Bexley council is pulling back from that by blaming the deaf man for being deaf just as Downing did when he said “you must have personal problems”. Bexley council looks to be saying it is the deaf who are disrespectful if they ask for a a microphone to be switched on. This may sound incredible to you as it did to me but with councillor Val Clarke, whose year as mayor provided so much unbelievable stupidity, involved, anything is possible.

As an observant reader pointed out, our ‘Listening council’ has used an image with no ears to illustrate its complaints procedure. More likely that’s an X-Ray image and it shows no brain.

When all the correspondence becomes available I’ll let you see some extracts so that the full extent of any dishonesty and stupidity can be seen by all.

 

12 August - Waitrose knows its onions

WaitroseI think the first website to carry the news that Waitrose had decided that Sidcup High Street with its Iceland, 99p Store, McDonalds and Cash Converters is not right for Waitrose, was this one, but only because I got a tip off from a Sidcup Community Group member and I was nearer a keyboard at the time than they were. Now I note that the SCG is saying that Waitrose isn’t likely to be swayed by Bexley council’s tacky petition. (Scroll down to ‘About our News’, not the item on Supermarkets.)

Whoever thought it would be? We have one of the country’s leading and most successful retailers, The John Lewis Partnership, with all the expertise at its command, being told how to conduct its business by a council that cannot even run a successful monopoly with councillors who when left to their own devices go bust with alarming frequency.

The only indication I have of business acumen among the ranks of Bexley council are reports that its deputy leader has been seen wandering the streets of Bexley with a bag slung over his shoulder poking stuff through letter boxes; don’t tell Sandra Bauer. Leaflets for Bexley Cabs I assume but maybe he is trying to do an estate agent out of his commission.

So it looks like Sidcup can whistle for a Waitrose. Remember, you read it here second!

 

11 August - Why do they do it?

Why are Bexley councillors councillors? What sort of types does it attract? I can only guess but having watched them for nigh on three years I am beginning to form an opinion. There seems to be three or four distinct categories.

There is a significant group of married couples of pensionable age. The Beckwiths, Downings, Hurts and Slaughters. One might also include elderly gentlemen like Colin Tandy, Roy Ashmole and John Wilkinson in this group on account of their age. They rarely do anything to put themselves on the Bonkers’ radar. Playing politics is probably no more than a nice little pension boost.

Some are clearly in it for power, the networking and the business opportunities that might follow. A prime example would be deputy leader Colin Campbell with his friend ‘Biffa’ Bailey not far behind. Councillor Katie Perrior once claimed she needed her allowances to survive although the likelihood is that that was a fib and her position is no handicap to her business success.

A few give no clues. Whatever drew ordinary decent blokes such as Hall, Hunt and Sawyer into local politics? They couldn’t all be hoping to meet and marry an attractive woman. What brings mischief makers like Philip Read into the game, maybe in his case it is the regular income, he certainly seems to need it.

Read's companiesOf councillor Philip Read’s ten companies nine have bitten the dust big time. Maybe a councillor’s allowance helps to tide him over; in which case it is a good job leader ‘Because I can’ Teresa O’Neill doled him out a committee chairman’s allowance this year. The company that hasn’t yet gone belly up is International Travel Resources Limited and its last set of accounts are not pretty.

Cash at Bank £741 Current assets £776
Current liabilities £16,842 Net Worth -£16,066

Link to source data.

 

10 August (Part 5) - A good day for Olly Cromwell

The deadline set by the Judge last week came and went with no indication that the Crown Prosecution Service found their lost file of so-called evidence. It is therefore probable that Olly Cromwell’s unjustified conviction for encouraging the delivery of dog faeces to a Bexley councillor based on the false evidence of councillors Melvin Seymour and Sandra Bauer, will be overturned.

August’s blogs on the subject…
Witnesses attempt to avoid questioning. (2nd August Part 1)
The Court hearing. (3rd August Part 2)
Where was witness Sandra Bauer? (5th August Part 1)
Sandra Bauer. Honourable or not? (It turned out to be not - 9th August Part 2)

 

10 August (Part 4) - A good day for making a quick buck

Twin TowersPhilip ReadPeople of my generation used to say they could always remember where they were when they learned that President Jack Kennedy had been assassinated. Coming home to find my parents glued to the TV set with neighbour, Mrs. Fletcher, sobbing uncontrollably, since you asked. Younger people may say the same about the planes flown into New York’s World Trade Center. Working in a building right next door to the US Embassy and feeling very vulnerable in there if you must know.

You may need to be reminded of what our government of the day’s first priority was on 11th September 2001. Jo Moore, a government Special Adviser emailed her press office with the immortal words “It's now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury. Councillors’ expenses?” Advice widely condemned at the time and rightly so. But Tony Blair’s government was not the only shameful outfit to try to turn 2,996 tragic deaths to its advantage.

Those with long memories will know that Bexley councillor Philip Read has for a long time dabbled with the travel industry with a succession of fly by night companies to his name. I have found ten that lead back to him.

A company called USA Tailor Made Holidays, registered to Philip Read of 53 Myrtle Close, Erith, like Jo Moore, also saw the act of terrorism as a golden opportunity. It provided special deals to the US and scene of the crime to try to stop itself hitting a brick wall. In that it failed. The company was dissolved.

Those who know him imply that Read is a thoroughly nasty piece of work who may think nothing of profiting from death and destruction. I don’t know him well enough to be sure, but everyone knows he told a cock and bull story to Bexleyheath police in a successful attempt to have blogger Olly Cromwell put behind bars. A District Judge said Read was entirely wrong but not before Olly had spent a day and a night in a cell. I may not know the worm, but I respect the view of those who do.

More on Philip Read later.

 

10 August (Part 3) - Who’s the real Twit?

Private EyeWhile we wait to see if the totally incompetent Crown Prosecution Service can locate their file of evidence or whether councillor Sandra Bauer is going to be let off the hook and not face a difficult cross-examination in Court we can at least see who it is backing these ‘Twitter joke trials’. An article in Private Eye lets the cat out of the bag.
Private Eye

Note: If the CPS cannot find their file, my interpretation of what I heard last Friday is that Olly Cromwell will not automatically win his Appeal. The Judge said only that the Prosecution would find it difficult to “resist the Appeal”. I’d guess that means they could try, but more likely the Court will have to be reconvened for a formal verdict to be passed.

 

10 August (Part 2) - Where are they now?

Deborah Absalom, Chairman of GovernorsWhat happens to overpaid council staff when they fall out of favour? Some become consultants. (See image left.)

A legal eagle told me that Angela Hogan is no longer listed as a practicing solicitor. How true that is I do not know. Maybe she changed her name.

I do sometimes wonder how Will Tuckley will get on if he ever tries to get away from Bexley. Prospective employers check the net for references these days and there is very little on it of which Tuckley could be proud. It’s always a mistake to defend crooks and lie to the police.

 

10 August (Part 1) - Nowhere left to hide?

Guidance to councillorsThe Localism Bill is proving to be a mixed blessing probably because its authors are under the misapprehension that councils are run by decent upright citizens. The Standards Board for England has gone because “ministers believed [it] had become a vehicle for petty, partisan and sometimes malicious, allegations of councillor misconduct that sapped public confidence in local democracy”. There had been some high profile cases of councillors bickering among themselves and it had to stop. However with the Board gone, councils are authorised to be a law unto themselves. Council leader Teresa O’Neill’s governing mantra of “Because I can” is likely to become the norm when Bexley council is asked to justify its actions, indeed it already has and a report will appear here before many more days have passed.

But there are plus points too and one of them should be that no councillor will ever again feel obliged to indulge in crass criminal retaliation whenever a resident looks at the Register of Members’ Interests. Bexley is about to lose its nearly unique distinction of being a borough where the Register is not available on line. The only question remaining is “How long will it be before Bexley council decides to comply with the law?” or will Teresa O’Neill have the Constitution changed in an effort to protect any more criminals she may be nurturing?

According to the new guidance, councillors must disclose pecuniary interests within 28 days and amend the Register as necessary within the same timescale. Given the high number of tin-pot business some of them start up and quickly drive into the wall before starting all over again, that may be a tricky one to comply with, but failure has become a criminal offence. The Bexley Council Monitoring Group is going to be very busy.

The Localism Bill - Government Guidance.

 

9 August (Part 2) - 24 hours to save the No Honour Sandra

Bexley councillor Sandra BauerBy my reckoning, Sandra Bauer, Bexley councillor, deputy leader of the Labour opposition and governor of the Bexley Business Academy has 24 hours to salvage any vestige of a reputation she might have after being known to have made a false statement alleging Olly Cromwell was encouraging people to put dog faeces through councillor Melvin Seymour’s letter box. It is an established fact that he did no such thing. Furthermore that action would require an address and at no time did Olly supply one or even mention the councillor’s name.

At Olly’s trial Sandra Bauer wasn’t called as a witness, she would have proved unreliable and at the appeal she failed to turn up. A skilled barrister in possession of all the facts should easily demolish a dishonest witness. Now we are close to the time that the prosecution case will likely fall apart for lack of evidence - the CPS lost the file and has just 24 hours to find it.

At 5 p.m. tomorrow Olly’s conviction may be on course to be overturned and Sandra Bauer will for ever more be labelled the person who was prepared to let her false statement stand and see a man convicted on words she made up. Too cowardly, too dishonest to correct an untruthful statement. Why doesn’t she come clean and salvage just a little bit of honour before it is too late? Does she have to prove that she has no conscience?

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.

 

9 August (Part 1) - Hospitals bankrupt. Twopenn’orth contributed

Save our local HospitalsI was persuaded to go to a meeting of a group called Save Our Local Hospitals yesterday, somewhat reluctantly because I think the mess that the South London Heathcare Trust is in, administration, is a little beyond the boundaries of my self imposed remit. The meeting was held in Sidcup Labour Party’s premises. The last time I ventured anywhere like that was in 1959 and I was thrown out for disrupting the flow of propaganda.

I expected to hear a succession of people lambasting the hospital managers and telling us what they planned to do about it but it turned out to be an early planning meeting for any future protests. They were having considerable difficulty agreeing what their focus and strategy might be. Cancelling the Private Finance Initiative without compensation did not seem to be wholly realistic.

Bexley in 2012 is not Wyre Valley in 2001. Kidderminster A&E was saved because the voters elected Dr. Richard Taylor as their MP. Here the man who stood for Parliament in 2010 on a save Sidcup Hospital ticket, John Hemming Clark, was ignored in favour of a glamour boy parachuted in by Conservative Central Office after the incumbent Conservative MP had been disgraced (†). There seems to be a tradition of Conservatives disgracing themselves in Bexley. James Brokenshire paid lip service to saving the hospital and was elected on a 15,857 majority. Five times that of his predecessor.

As a junior minister James has proved virtually powerless to resist the financial pressures. From what I hear he is a decent constituency MP but if Bexley wanted to avoid being the only London borough without a hospital it should have voted for that result. My guess is that no one really cares and Bexley would vote for an elephant if it had a blue rosette pinned to it. Some might say it has done that more than once.

The group I saw last night is planning a demo in Woolwich, 1 p.m. General Gordon Square, on 15th September, but they will have to get a lot more organised than they were last night if that is to get anywhere.

† Derek Conway who ‘employed’ his family on Parliamentary non-jobs in 2007/8. Brought down by Mick Barnbrook of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group.
Wikipedia

 

8 August (Part 3) - Payment for failure

Angela HoganDeborah AbsalomThe Bexley Council Monitoring Group (BCMG) likes to live up to its name, they are always asking questions and Bexley council do their best to dodge them. A year and a bit ago two Directors left Bexley council, the head of Legal Services (Angela Hogan) and the head of Young People’s Services, education etc. (Deborah Absalom). The word went around that neither had been successful in their jobs and they had been shown the door. BCMG wanted to know if they had been sent away with a big fat cheque. A reward for failure. Bexley council wouldn’t tell them if any public money had changed hands when it ought not to have done.

Quite a long time ago I heard a councillor repeat the story about competence or otherwise, but he said he was sure no money would have changed hands. So what has Bexley council got to hide was the obvious question. “They don’t want to set any precedents” came the answer. I heard much the same from a senior council officer.

Bexley council maintained their silence and the case went to the Information Commissioner who said people of the rank involved could not shelter behind the 'personal information’ fig leaf. They ordered Bexley council to release the details of any payments. BCMG was still expecting the answer to be “none” just as two Bexley council insiders had told them. However the council continued to refuse an answer and to cut a long story short, the case recently went before a Judge. I shall return to that story another time. Meanwhile the BCMG keep asking questions, some innocent, some not so innocent.

One asked for the number of redundancy payments to staff leaving the council’s employ. The answer showed that in the financial year 2010/11 14 people had gone with payments within the £10,000 to £50,000 bracket. That is not very remarkable, the upper limit is what a long serving middle manager might expect to get from any decent employer.

Seven more people got over £50k, but only one went through the £100k. barrier. It would seem reasonable to assume that that would be someone very senior, one of the two Directors who left that year perhaps. For reasons that may be revealed on another occasion, BCMG knows it wasn’t Ms. Hogan who got that huge sum. Maybe it was the lady on the right? For failure? Bexley council is still refusing to say.

 

8 August (Part 2) - On yer bike

Young cyclistsI’ll try not to mention the O word but obviously cycling is enjoying a high profile at the moment. Bexley council runs free training sessions for young cyclists, it’s nothing particularly new and of course it is not really free. Nothing is, it costs the tax payer money. How much is not certain.

Over the last year or so I have been aware of an undercurrent of discontent among the people who run this service. Some have said the costs per trainee have been creeping up for no obvious reason, almost exactly doubling to more than £100, and that those who have tried to put a stop to it have been the subject of criticism and far worse. As always in these cases it is difficult to be sure who is right but the allegations about where the money is going are serious. There is no evidence that anyone has investigated whether the allegations are justified, I’d guess if they had been the story would have gone cold long ago. All I hear about is the dismissal of whistle blowers. As I said, it’s hard to be sure when you are only hearing one side of the story but once in a while I do hear both.

Among my files I have a number of signed documents and emails from high ranking officials within Bexley council which show beyond any doubt whatsoever that one of them made up a story to ensure that an employee was dismissed. That someone had been guilty of a misjudgment, albeit with a string of mitigating circumstances, and had whistle blown a manager on a previous occasion. Successfully; he departed, but the employee became a marked man. When the opportunity arose a Deputy Director who I am tempted to name and picture here accepted or concocted a series of embellishments to the original misdemeanour which ensured the dismissal was confirmed. There is no doubt about it, the documentation as well as simple common sense makes it an absolute certainty the management signed off a lie. Unfortunately the employee concerned got cold feet about publishing the story and documentation in full, but that doesn’t make it Hokum.

 

8 August (Part 1) - Your NHS. My No Help Surgery

Bexley Group PracticeYesterday’s rant against Royal Mail brought forth some useful information from readers, so maybe I can have a go at another of our ailing public services. The NHS, or to be more precise, my own General Practitioner. The flu I had a month ago has not truly gone away. I don’t feel unwell any more but I am left with, sorry if you are just about to eat your dinner, a mucus factory on overtime. Breathing is an effort and I am tiring too quickly, so I thought it was about time I saw the quack.

Knowing that phoning is a waste of time, especially after 9 a.m. I went to the surgery in person. I waited a minute or so while the receptionist told a phone caller that there were no appointments available and then I was told the same thing. “There is nothing you can book.”

I reminded the receptionist that neglect by my doctor, or at least the appointment system he operates, had put me into hospital four times in the last few years (†) and that my complaint to the practice manager is still unanswered after 15 months. She must have felt sorry for me because I now have an appointment for next week. If of course Dr. Adagra of the Bexley Group Practice has not kicked me off his book by then. Last time I managed to see a doctor I was told that my prescription record is 40 times lower than the average for patients of my age, which is a number I considered to be at a truly horrendous level. You’d think a relatively healthy patient would be a good one to retain, but not this one. Anyone know of a doctor that can do better than mine? Shouldn’t be hard.

† Two incidents. One caused an emergency trip to QEH by ambulance, the other two ultra scans and an invasive procedure. All the direct result of delay and neglect at the aforesaid surgery.

 

7 August (Part 3) - Will Tuckley. Much ado about doing nothing

Will TuckleyThe Freedom of Information request seeking a copy of the business appointments diary for Will Tuckley was made on 31st May. You might think that Tuckley would jump at the chance of demonstrating how hard he has to work for his quarter of a million a year, but no, he hasn’t.

Reminders went in on 5th and 19th of July and on both occasions the officer whose job it is to make up excuses for Tuckley’s failures apologised for his lawlessness. Sooner or later even the most patient of us concludes that enough is enough. Yesterday a formal complaint went to the Information Commissioner.

Anyone would think the diary for July 2011 was requested. That was the month, you may remember, when Tuckley was visited by police investigating Bexley council’s obscene blog. A meeting Tuckley denied ever took place. The papers that fell into Olly Cromwell’s hands after councillors Seymour and Bauer lied about his comments on Twitter proved Tuckley was up to the same tricks.

 

7 August (Part 2) - Royal Mail. Fraudsters

I managed to get through to a real person at Royal Mail who was eventually persuaded to make enquiries at Fulham Sorting Office. She reported back that Fulham’s procedure is to put all police mail in a pouch and the police collect it. All mail, first class, second class, Recorded and Special delivery all goes in the same bag and nothing gets signed for. Special Delivery offers guaranteed signed delivery by 1 p.m. and compensation for loss but Royal Mail is happy to admit they have no record of delivery and the service does not work to certain addresses. The customer service adviser said that when caught out the Royal Mail will offer a refund of the £5·90 fee.

Royal Mail seems to think that is satisfactory. I call it fraud.

A postman reader suggested this site for an interesting insight into what makes Royal Mail tick. Back in 1975 I was sent to sort out a job in what later became BT. The previous manager had made what might be termed a right arse of it and it took a lot of work, time and negotiations with unions to sort out the mess. I was rewarded with a nice job elsewhere, but the useless individual who had done sweet FA in the time before my appointment went on to become Chairman of Postwatch. It explains a lot.

 

7 August (Part 1) - Arresting Sidcup’s downhill slide

Waitrose petitionWith Bexley council in close down mode until October, councillors giving their surgeries a miss, even going to the trouble of moving house to avoid their responsibilities, I found myself reading through the Waitrose petition while scratching around for news.

There’s about a dozen councillors’ names on the on-line petition and a good number of pleas for Waitrose to do Sidcup a favour by coming to town. I’m not sure that painting Sidcup as a run down hell-hole as some petitioners do and then begging John Lewis to help dig it out of the mess is the right strategy, but each to his own. Presumably some of the entries were more than a little tongue in cheek.

 

6 August (Part 2) - Cops and complaints

I referred to the need to write to the Met Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards again a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to complain about their decision to refer the complaint to Commissioner Hogan-Howe back to Bexleyheath for investigation by officers junior to Borough Commander Stringer who I believe attempted to cover up Bexley council’s homophobic hate crime. Both Elwyn Bryant and I signed the complaint and Elwyn who has had his fingers burned with Recorded Delivery before, insisted I send it ‘registered’ and it cost me £5·90 at Abbey Wood main Post Office on 21st July.

This morning Elwyn decided to use the tracking number on the web. That and an unhelpful Royal Mail employee told him that they had no trace of the letter on their system because their scanner was broken and it was more than likely the guaranteed next day delivery item was still languishing at Fulham Sorting Office.

I then rang the Directorate of Professional Standards on the HQ phone number they had given me, 020 8785 8666, to see if they had received the letter. After listening to a variety of messages I was connected to the final one which said they were open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday but there was no facility to speak to anyone. How mad and unreasonable can these publicly funded outfits get? The Post Office says they have no way of checking if our letter is at Fulham or not and the DPS won’t answer the phone.

On my way out of the house at 12:20 I noticed that all my post was stuck under the windscreen wiper of a car parked at the end of my drive. Since Belvedere Sorting Office closed down postmen have come from as far afield as Gravesend and as late as 17:50 and now we have one too lazy to walk up the drive. The sooner someone buys out the last of our industrial dinosaurs the better.

 

6 August (Part 1) - Notomob implodes. Not a Wise move

Notomob
I was very pleased with myself when this website attracted Notomob to Bexley to assist councillor Craske and his Merry Men comply with the law. I subscribed to their forum and through it learned how their leading ‘member’, Nigel Wise had triumphed over Richmond council and to this day they have no gestapo wagons on their roads. Subsequently Notomob took on and beat Westminster and Hertfordshire councils. Nigel was their principal asset, dogged, determined, knowledgeable and quite probably bloody minded at times. The meek do not beat dishonest councils at their own game. I understand he only once lost a case at the Parking Adjudicator, undeniably a winner and a major flag waver for Notomob providing them with unprecedented publicity nationwide.

I put the word member within quote marks because Notomob doesn’t really have formal membership, you sign up on their forum and you are as close to being a fully fledged member as you will ever be. I last rode a motorbike in 1960, there is no way I am much use to Notomob but everyone is equal there and there is no formal leadership. Those who I believed to be the leaders I heard deny it on the few occasions I met them. Notomob is a mutual cooperative, a partnership of equals dedicated to fighting parking injustice; at least I thought it was. I know better now.

Nigel Wise winning at PATASA few weeks ago Nigel Wise had a bit of a set to with a Parking Adjudicator. He said his “decision is ridiculous”. He said of an Adjudicator’s inconsistent decisions that they “seem to depend on which day of the month [it is] whether he allows it”.

I assume Mr. Wise knows what he is talking about but my views would not change even if he was proven to be wrong. Compared to some of my own descriptions of officialdom Nigel’s comments were pretty mild, he was after all rebuking ‘the enemy’.

PATAS is funded by London councils, it is not on our side and Notomob has more than once demonstrated how PATAS will favour its paymasters. Rigging computers to allow Westminster an advantage was one incident I recall. But someone believed Nigel to have overstepped some unstated mark. For those few words he was banned and expelled from Notomob. By whom is unclear to ordinary members, there was an announcement by an anonymous ‘Administrator’ and Nigel was no more. No opportunity for an Appeal. The anonymous Administrator had spoken and that was that.

There were protests of course and someone set up a poll to see what the ’membership’ felt. The poll went strongly in one direction. Someone else used the forum’s messaging facility to contact all members seeking their opinion. All the critics and the poll maker were expelled and banned, by whom I cannot tell you. Notomob traditionally operates under pseudonyms and ‘Administrator’ is about as vague as you can get.

Under the deluge of criticism the Notomob site was taken down for four days, “for maintenance”. When it came back it had been largely cleansed of support for Nigel and the poll in his favour had gone as was the original banning announcement and the facility for circulating a message to all members. A worse case of mismanagement, misjudgment, dictatorship, injustice and blind panic is hard to imagine.

The revamped Notomob forum includes new Terms and Conditions with which I could not possibly agree. For this blog I am confidently expecting expulsion. I removed the Bonkers’ menu links a few days ago because I cannot support Notomob under its present anonymous dictatorship. It has handed a victory to the opposition on a plate and is not a mutual organisation after all. Madness and deceitful.

Expelling your leading ‘member’ without warning, appeal process or consultation defies every convention. It is stupid in the extreme. I predict the Notomob forum will die. Members now know that one critical word may be rewarded with expulsion. I don’t know who leads Notomob, I was always told no one did, but this ‘no one’ must be the toast of the parking gestapo in councils everywhere. That ‘no one’ has brought Notomob to its knees leaving the Tina Brooks of this world free to run amok. She can call in the police if Martin Peaple dusts off his placard again with little fear of the consequences.

One of the members expelled for supporting Nigel Wise was known as The Phoenix. Maybe it’s an omen but it will take a lot of effort to raise anything from Notomob’s ashes.

The Notomob forum has been largely censored of Nigel Wise related stories. However this one still permits discussion and understands what equality and mutual cooperation is all about.

Note: Tina Brooks is Bexley council’s Parking Manager. Notomob’s Bexley coordinator, known on their forum as Peperami, took no part in recent events.

 

5 August (Part 4) - Twitter ye not

Peter Craske on TwitterPeter Craske (not) on TwitterThat didn’t take long did it? Only two followers and I bet one of those is Mrs. C.

Yesterday’s blog.

 

5 August (Part 3) - Maybe the CPS is even more incompetent than we thought

Councillor Seymour's police statementI know, because I heard the Judge read out the letter in full, that the Prosecution’s request for an Adjournment was dated only two days before Olly Cromwell’s scheduled Appeal. The Judge said that councillor Melvin Seymour’s excuse of the imminent arrival of a grandchild was lame in the extreme but he was less harsh on councillor Bauer’s house move.

It has been suggested to me, and it is not entirely implausible given the incompetence of the Crown Prosecution Service at every stage of this long drawn out saga , that Sandra Bauer told the CPS about her domestic problem in good time but that they failed to react quickly enough. I am happy to put forward this alternative scenario. I can’t see how a longer period of notice would make Seymour’s excuse any more acceptable, less so if anything, but maybe Sandra, who moved house last Thursday, was let down by the CPS. It’s a possibility, no more, but I like to be fair. The Thursday/Friday mix up is still awaiting a completely satisfactory explanation.

Why someone would allow the associated statement to stand when at the very least a serious misunderstanding has arisen beats me. But then honourable conduct and Bexley councillors are more often than not, strangers to each other.

 

5 August (Part 2) - Phone only parking by stealth

Extract from traffic orderBexley council has found another way of extracting money from your pocket and take another small step towards making living and working in the borough more unpleasant.

It was the unmentionable 42 year old from Sidcup who first decided that people with no mobile phone or no bank card couldn’t park in certain roads; then he extended phone parking into the off-street car parks. Later he announced that car park cash machines would be reduced in number causing those who haven’t got the requisite hardware or inclination to use it to search harder and walk further to pay with coins. It does nothing to make life easier. It’s inevitable that all the cash machines will eventually disappear. The council says they are too expensive and those it owns won’t last for ever.

Meanwhile we have an interim step. If the one remaining cash machine is unserviceable for any reason and the driver is not able to use the phone parking system he must go and do business in another borough. I suspect it has always been thus since phone parking was introduced and this move merely legitimises the practice. Craske may be gone but his legacy lives on.

 

5 August (Part 1) - Absent Without Legitimate Excuse

While Olly Cromwell was watching his two grand’s worth of barrister’s fees trickle down the drain on Friday, councillor Sandra Bauer was excusing her behaviour by saying she was moving house. Unforgiveable that she chose that day after having nearly two months’ notice of her appointment in Court but I have learned to have a suspicious mind where Bexley councillors are concerned. Could she be running, to coin a phrase, shit-scared of having to grab the Holy Book and swear that her fantasy about dog faeces and letterboxes was true when everyone who saw the Tweet knows it said no such thing. How convenient that the CPS has lost the file and she may be saved from lying in Court. In reality the truth may be even worse.

A message arrived to say she didn’t move on Friday at all but on the day before complete with a Facebook screen grab which supported the suggestion. Perhaps she was in turmoil at the new house and had half an excuse for dumping on Olly’s £2k. Nope, the message said she had all her effects put into store and moved in with her mother on Thursday. And told everyone on Facebook! Was making it a two day event really necessary? It seemed only right to send a date stamped copy to Olly’s legal team.

 

4 August - Absent Without Library

Peter Craske surgery detailsWhere’s Craske they muttered at the last council meeting, so Elwyn Bryant and I thought we should make an effort to find out. We took ourselves to Blackfen Library at the time the absentee councillor was supposed to be there helping his electorate. The plan was we would sit quietly in a corner and disappear the moment he showed his ruddy face. In the event we had to sit around for an hour to be absolutely sure that he is taking our money but not doing the job.

But look on the bright side, he’s not messing up the roads any more.


Craske at 2012Was it too good a night living it up in Newham which he has been so keen to malign in the past?

 

3 August (Part 2) - Twitter Joke Trial

Sandra BauerJohn Kerlen (aka Olly Cromwell) was at Woolwich Court this morning for his appeal against conviction for sending a malicious Tweet. Sandra Bauer the principal witness wasn’t.

The Judge said the prosecution had asked for an Adjournment last Wednesday because the two witnesses couldn’t or wouldn’t turn up. The request was refused. Councillor Melvin Seymour did the decent thing and made himself available in Court. Sandra Bauer didn’t bother. This blew a gaping hole in the Prosecution case because both sides agreed Bauer’s evidence was vital. However the lady Prosecution lawyer had another problem, she didn’t have the file of evidence with her. The Judge, who seemed to be a kindly fellow, generously allowed a short recess to allow her to locate it. Nearly an hour later she admitted defeat.

Olly’s barrister, Simon Connolly, argued that there should be no Adjournment and listed the litany of prosecution cock ups we have seen over the past ten months and emphasised how each one had cost Olly money he could ill afford. The Judge was extremely apologetic but came to the conclusion that he could not make a judgment without Sandra Bauer’s evidence. Simon Connolly, the Defence Barrister pointed out that even if Bauer could be persuaded to put in an appearance the papers might not be found; so the Judge ruled as follows. That the Prosecution must confirm they have found their missing file by 5 p.m. next Friday and only then would mutually acceptable dates be thrashed out for everyone involved. 17th August has been provisionally pencilled in. If the file isn’t found in a week or Bauer remains a reluctant witness then the Prosecution case will fail. Those are the facts, what follows is speculation.

The deferment will cost Olly a great deal of money, not just hundreds, more than that. Possibly it is a prosecution strategy. It won’t work. Olly is yet to receive the costs he was awarded last May. Apparently it has to pass through Bexley magistrates and Olly’s legal team is beginning to suspect a sinister connection. The money is well overdue.

The Prosecution excused councillor Sandra Bauer’s absence on account of her moving house this very day. Why did she choose today when the appeal date was set on 12th June? Is she really moving today? We only have her word for it. If I had made a false statement and found myself lined up for cross examination by Simon Connolly, I wouldn’t want to show up either.

 

3 August (Part 1) - Bexley council. Rats and Cockroaches

Bexley statementFollowing a series of Freedom of Information requests, the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) said that Bexley was one of the lowest ranked boroughs for residents asking for help to control rats. 59 rat call outs put it in 312th place and the BPCA compared it favourably with nearby boroughs, Lewisham with 746 rat incidents being singled out for special mention. They suggested the low figures might have something to do with population densities. I would like to offer an alternative explanation. The price!


Bexley council statementBexley : £120 to deal with rats and £189 for cockroaches per treatment.
Lewisham : No charge for rats. Cockroaches £155 for three infestations.
Bromley : £74 for rats (as many visits as it takes). Cockroaches £98.
Greenwich : Mice £22.50 (rats not specifically mentioned, possibly free). Cockroaches £55 per treatment.

Bexley also manages to levy the highest council tax and is the only borough which fails to offer pest control discounts and concessions to the elderly and those on benefits. Listening to no one, working for themselves.

All figures from council websites yesterday. Click image for News Shopper report.

 

2 August (Part 2) - On? Off? Who knows?

The working day has ended with Olly’s solicitor advising that the Appeal is (probably) on, but with a chance it will be Adjourned on the day. There’s only one way not to miss it so I’ll be there in the morning.

Why do I get the impression the gangster’s friend and his moll’s priority is to waste Olly’s money?

More claims by the gangster friend of councillor Melvin Seymour.

 

2 August (Part 1) - Olly Cromwell’s Appeal

Councillors Seymour and BauerHow long is it since the date of blogger Olly Cromwell’s appeal was set? Two months in case you’ve forgotten. And when is he due in Court? Tomorrow morning, so everyone is geared up to see this unlovely pair in the witness box then? Well, yes and no. We are; they are not.

Late yesterday afternoon, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) asked for an Adjournment, and why? The two witnesses have announced they have more important things to do. Sandra Bauer says she is moving house (†) having, one must assume, forgotten to put her date with Woolwich Court in her diary when she first knew of it back in June.

What excuse does Bexley’s favoured painter and decorator offer? His daughter is likely to give birth at the critical moment. Since when were grandfathers an essential part of the maternity business? When one is desperate for an excuse presumably. Readers may remember that Olly’s wife was due to give birth while he was being sentenced at Bromley Magistrates’ Court. He was denied a deferment. Turn up or face jail was the Court’s decree. Will this be another case of one rule for them and another for the general population?

At this moment, the outcome of Seymour and Bauer’s excuse making is unclear. Stand by for a Part 2 later today.

† All this house moving makes me think it is time Elwyn and I checked the Register of Members’ Interests again - and hope some council nutter isn’t tempted to create another obscene blog.

 

1 August - Supermarket wars

Sainsbury's comes to Abbey Wood Google maps. Felixstowe Road
As noted yesterday things are a bit quiet at the moment so maybe I can drift just a little from the usual theme and bring you some shopping news.

While Bexley council is begging Waitrose to inject a little life into Sidcup (the petition has been submitted); down in Abbey Wood Sainsbury's has agreed to open a store (subject to planning permission) alongside the railway station.

The station entrance is in Wilton Road which as a shopping centre makes Sidcup High Street look distinctly up market. Nevertheless Sainsbury's have said they will open a 46,000 square feet store on the old industrial estate nearby. It will be in Felixstowe Road on the Greenwich side of the border with Bexley and a stone’s throw from the new Crossrail station.

Presumably Sainsbury’s will have some impact on the ASDA proposed for Belvedere but what intrigues me is the road route to the new store. The borough boundary takes a straight line through Wilton Road until it reaches the centre of the A2041. At present traffic from both Thamesmead and Abbey Wood to the North reaches Felixstowe Road via Sedgemore Road and traffic from Belvedere and the southern half of Abbey Wood comes across the Harrow Manorway viaduct and then follows the same route. Sedgemore Road is within Bexley and is narrow and residential. Whatever the final route it will affect Bexley. If Greenwich council can have a say in County Gate shouldn’t Bexley be sticking its oar in over the likely impact on its residents by a decision to be made in Greenwich?

Now that the lame duck Peter Craske has gone perhaps some civilized negotiations can take place.

Note: Dev Secs is Development Securities. Click the image for their announcement. Alternative link.

The map is rotated anti-clockwise, North is to the left. The A2041 is elevated and runs over the railway line and the adjacent parallel roads.

 

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