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Bonkers Blog May 2012

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31 May - Month end roundup

Tuckley and O'NeillQuite a month. We have seen Bexley council succeed with their vendetta against Olly Cromwell. He upset O’Neill and Tuckley by filming a council meeting and they were down the police station about him less than a week later with a story that was 100% untrue. Then they successfully pursued him through the courts and those same lies were trotted out at every hearing. How many times does it have to be said that Olly never mentioned flaming torches and pitchforks on his blog until a few days ago? But the Judge was told differently at both his trial and sentencing hearing.

The Local Government Ombudsman’s investigator Helen Bingham ruled that Bexley council is at liberty to tell lies to the police any time it wants and it is up to the police to stop them. As if they would. Then there was the ruling that the new mayor Alan Downing is “disrespectful” - or maybe not - and Teresa O’Neill’s claim to have been offered jobs by Boris Johnson was discredited - or maybe not. (†)


Victor OlisaWhat Bexleyheath police have been up to recently in relation to Bexley council’s obscene blogging is simply beyond belief. I can’t tell you exactly what it is they have been saying in recent days though it will come out eventually, but it looks like they have devised a plan to head off any chance of a successful conclusion but be able to tell us it wasn’t their fault their investigation all went horribly wrong.

Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa, Bexleyheath’s new Borough Commander caused the final vestiges of patience to evaporate yesterday when he phoned Elwyn Bryant, one of the obscene blogger’s victims, to tell him nothing he didn’t know already except that Olisa considered him to be “unfair” to have mentioned the case to the Commissioner and to be chasing the Commander for answers - after a mere 51 weeks of evasion and procrastination!

Both Elwyn’s and my own MP have been told of the situation and I think it is fair to say they are utterly confused and almost speechless. If things go quiet here over the next few days it will only in part be due to the Jubilee Celebrations, it will also be because a letter to Commissioner Hogan-Howe has to be written. I shall assemble all the evidence I have of the corruption and incompetence that must be endemic at the senior levels of Bexleyheath police and dump it in his lap. Maybe it will take fewer than the 25 years my son-in-law has been battling Met. Police corruption. At least he has had written confirmation that they are totally bent.

Another chore to be faced imminently is the month end change of blog date and to try a different method for switching readers who prefer to come directly to the latest blog via the www.bexley-is-bonkers.info route. The old method was too often ensnared by browser caches. It will be retained for www.bexley-is-bonkers.com. So many choices!

Note: The site restructuring of 23rd November 2012 outdates the above comments.

While I am on the subject of web technicalities; a reminder that the new EU law on cookies has come into force for web sites run by ‘organisations’. I doubt that includes Bonkers but you may have noticed websites asking you to confirm cookie acceptance when visiting them this week. Bexley council’s website is not alone in getting nowhere near complying with the law. To see what should be done the information Commissioner’s site is probably as good an example as any.

If you change from this blog’s default text size a cookie will be stored on your computer. If you would prefer it wasn’t then don’t change the font size! I tried to introduce a facility for deleting the Bonkers cookie but although it did so the site lost all its formatting characteristics (the style sheet). I am still scratching my head over that one. (††)

This site’s Cookie Policy is set out here. It is modelled on that found on the Met. Police website. It isn’t strictly legal but if it is good enough for them…

† All will be revealed tomorrow.
†† Problem solved 14:25, 31st May 2012.

 

30 May - Bexley council. Wicked through and through

John Waring House extension Soakaway preparationsI went back to look at Mrs. Grootendorst’s garden yesterday and got a bit of a shock. The builder of her extension has abandoned her.

In April Waring and his companion served his first (defective) S.215 notice in the presence of the builders, they took fright at the council’s intrusion and Mr. and Mrs. Grootendorst are left to exist in a building site. Meanwhile Waring is said to frequently spend time with the neighbours taking photos and offers the excuse that the work has had an impact on them. I’m sure it has, building work always does. What is so special about the Grootendorsts to warrant abnormal protection for her neighbours?

Rita Grootendorst is a 63 year old woman whose husband suffers from autism and cannot offer a great deal of support. Their house is barely habitable having been left open to the elements with the kitchen and bathroom both wrecked. The garden and outbuildings have been filled with more building debris than Rita could ever hope to move unaided. The garden has lost its attractiveness because of the builders’ stuff and things Rita is saving for her next garden redesign. She is a great enthusiast for water butts and garden ornaments but is far too distressed to have done much gardening this year. In any case the regulations relating to the soakaway demand that the 15 metres nearest the house are destroyed, so to some extent, what would be the point?

John Waring (pictured) has made defamatory remarks about her (I’ve seen some of them) and she complained to Bexley council in mid-February. She asked for evidence for his remarks. Bexley council refused to accept the complaint.

A friend of Rita’s who is a GP met several council officials including Deputy Director (Development, Housing & Community Safety) David Bryce-Smith, to discuss her plight and put it to Bexley council that responsible local authorities provided help to people with problems but Bexley council doesn’t agree. She was shocked to be told that Bexley council had no protocols to deal with malicious complaints or to assist victims of harassment.

The Grootendorsts have been left close to homeless partly because of the punitive attentions of Bexley council, in particular John Waring and his associate shown in the photograph. I have conflicting reports as to who the woman might be. It is said she is Diane Blazer and Waring’s boss in Bexley’s Environmental Health Department. On the other hand when I met her last September she told me that she was from the Housing Department and was there only because she volunteered to take some photos for Mr. Waring. Could someone be mistaken or do we have another Bexley council liar?

A council that cared about anyone but themselves would be rallying round offering advice on how to organise assistance for a resident who finds herself almost homeless especially so if the council has been a contributory factor. But perhaps it is what one would expect for someone who stood as an Independent in a council election, helped expose Bexley’s plan to sell allotments and regularly complains about them in newspaper columns.

However you might look at this situation Rita Grootendorst has been driven to despair and needs help but Bexley council is so blinded by spite and vengeance that it sees only one way. Causing the couple untold emotional and financial damage not to mention the stress-related illnesses which their doctors are trying to address and then to cap it all, prosecution and criminalisation. What a disgusting shower Bexley council is.

 

29 May - Not a Happy Birthday

Obscene blogIt was a year ago today that I discovered Bexley council’s obscene blog after someone, I would guess a Conservative Bexley councillor, impersonated me with an account in my name at Google blogspot.

It should have been an easy crime for the police to solve. Straight on to their Cybercrime unit to get the source details from Google, interview Teresa O’Neill to see what she knew about it, seize a computer or two and feel a collar. But the police did none of that; they twiddled their thumbs for ten weeks and then wrote to say the trail had gone cold. They owed their friends at the Civic Centre nothing less.

When the police were asked what they had done or not done they said it wasn’t in the public interest to tell us. However my MP, Teresa Pearce, and Elwyn Bryant’s MP, James Brokenshire, both leaned on the then Borough Commander Dave Stringer and on 10th February we met him only to be told almost nothing except that we should be patient. We are still being patient.

At the Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s Road Show in Sidcup two weeks ago, Elwyn Bryant raised the subject with the new boss, Bernard Hogan-Howe. He listened attentively and asked Elwyn to have a word with the new Borough Commander, Victor Olisa, after the show. The Commissioner said that if Elwyn was still not satisfied a week later he should refer the matter back to himself.

By the end of the meeting Elwyn was pleased with the interest Victor Olisa’s took in his story. He took away Olisa’s personal card bearing his new telephone number. After hearing nothing in 12 days he decided it was time to write to the Commissioner but to give the Commander one final chance he rang the number Olisa gave him. It provided the Unobtainable Tone. Via the main switchboard he managed to get through to Olisa’s secretary. She said he would call Elwyn back. He didn’t. It looks like Hogan-Howe may be getting a letter.

Although I didn’t go to the Commissioner’s Road Show I am in occasional contact with a policeman who knows something about the case. I would say it is not yet formally dead but is sick and in its terminal stage.

If there is anyone left who is unfamiliar with the content of Bexley council’s blog, go here and use the provided user name and password.

 

28 May - Local Government Ombudsman. Useless as usual

Will Tuckley Teresa O'Neill CS Dave StringerAs predicted, Helen Bingham, investigator for the Local Government Ombudsman has ruled that anyone, including Bexley council, is at liberty to report anybody to the police for any offence real or imaginary and it is up to the police to weed out the malicious, the misguided and the mistaken. It is a quite persuasive argument in some ways but every cloud has a silver lining and Ms. Bingham’s response provides yet another insight into the corruption and lies upon which Bexley council is built.

Ms. Bingham confirms the LGO’s inbuilt bias by refusing to countenance that reporting the messenger to the police rather than the source or perpetrator is wrong in principle and she is dismissive of any suggestion that such logic would lead to news media being accused of murder every time they report some lunatic with a knife. She similarly fails to see any weakness in Bexley council’s defence argument to her.

Bexley council said they thought Hugh Neal’s comment on his own blog about pitchforks and flaming torches and my friend’s comment about petrol bombs were “tantamount to incitement to violence and there was a duty of care on the council to its members, officers and members of the public”. Note the order of priority.

Let us assume there is a ready supply of pitchforks, flaming torches and jerry-cans in Bexley and an army of revolting peasants willing to carry them. Also that one is sufficiently gullible as to accept that Bexley council truly believed they were about to come under siege and went to Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer convinced by their own cock and bull story. Given that CS Stringer sent a raiding party to Olly Cromwell’ house fewer than 48 hours after councillors Bauer and Seymour made their false police statement about dog faeces and letterboxes you would think he would have an armed response unit outside my house within minutes of a genuine threat of flaming torches and bombs. But no, it was five weeks before the postman came around with a Harassment letter.

There is no way that Bexley council’s response to the Local Government Ombudsman can be true. They went to the police with the sole intention of hatching an illegal plot to have members of the public silenced in whatever way their policemen friends might suggest. Bexley council lies non-stop. The police at the time with their history of taxpayer funded dinners with Bexley council were at their beck and call.

Not to be forgotten is that Tuckley and O’Neill deliberately gave the police the wrong names, Olly’s and mine. This blog made no secret of where the original comments came from, it was entitled ‘Arthur Pewty’s Maggot Sandwich’ and Olly Cromwell’s blog and Twitter account were entirely free of any mention of the impending inferno. Olly was just a man who had turned up out of the blue the previous week armed with nothing more dangerous than a mini-DV camera and a copy of Eric Pickles’s Department’s letter about the need to welcome citizen journalists to council meetings. He wasn’t even breaking any council rule, Bexley council had yet to raise two fingers in Pickles’ direction by changing their Constitution.

Helen Bingham of the LGO has concluded that Bexley was not “unreasonable or perverse” when, worried stiff about their impending incineration, they decided it might suit their agenda better if they passed the wrong names to the police. They are all in it together. The police, however, may no longer be.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has acknowledged that issuing the Harassment warnings to both Olly and me broke every rule in their Standard Operating Procedures. That what Bexley council reported to the police was entirely lawful activity and no offence had been committed. But on the other hand, Helen Bingham has ruled that Bexley council can report anything or anybody to the police on the merest whim if they should see fit. Watch yourself, don’t walk by the Civic Centre without stopping to prostrate yourself before our lords and masters. Upsetting them could prove disastrous. Look where Olly ended up.

 

27 May (Part 2) - New Home page

Councillors Seymour and BauerFor just over a month, the site Home page has listed the timetable of events that led to Olly Cromwell’s conviction for using “grossly offensive” language; the ‘C’ word coupled with a ‘menacing’ Tweet - the posting of an anonymous picture of a house. The house, unknown to everyone but Olly and councillor Sandra Bauer, belonged to councillor Melvin Seymour, a man blessed with grossly offensive and menacing family connections. This Home page has now gone, replaced with a list of the mistakes and lies that led to that conviction. It may look the same, at a quick glance, as the previous front page but the left hand column is very different. If I remember any more mistakes I’ll add them.

The previous Home page is archived, as are all previous Home pages - see Site map.

 

27 May (Part 1) - Erith Riverside Festival 2012

Erith Festival poster Erith Festival dancersThis Sunday I plan to cut the lawn and wander down to the Thames to see what is going on. Not a lot probably but next Sunday things should be much more lively; the Erith Riverside Festival is back providing free entertainment almost on my doorstep.

The organisers have done battle with Bexley council and overcome all the obstacles. Looking back at some old emails I see that hasn’t always been the case.

2011 should have been the Festival’s 20th anniversary but it wasn’t to be. My email collection refers to “extortionate fees” and “Bexley council regards this as a cash cow” and the event had to be cancelled thanks to Bexley council’s intransigence. The organisers deserve your support this year.

 

26 May - It’s official - Her proud boast wasn’t true

Teresa O’Neill and Boris JohnsonAt the April council meeting, councillor Munir Malik goaded council leader Teresa O’Neill into denying she would be off to be Boris Johnson’s right hand girl should he win the mayoral contest. She went further and claimed that she had been offered paid employment at the GLA but had always turned down such offers, her loyalty was to Bexley.

Ignoring the fact that O’Neill’s loyalty is to herself and the Conservative Party which part of her statement is most likely to be untrue? The fact that she had been offered paid employment at the GLA or that she had turned it down? There was only one way to find out, a Freedom of Information request to the Greater London Authority.

At first they misunderstood the question. The reply said that she had been given the job of Mayor’s ambassador to Outer London - unpaid. Yes we know that, but what about the many paid jobs she claimed to have been offered?

Eventually a clear answer came back. At no time has council leader Teresa O’Neill been offered paid employment at the GLA. It’s not surprising councillor Munir Malik is always given a rough time at meetings. “Sit down!” “Shut up!” “Put your hand up.” If he helps to expose any more lies he’ll likely be reported to the police.

 

25 May (Part 3) - How many criminals make a council?

Councillors O'Neill and SeymourI think it’s pretty safe to say there’s a criminal in Bexley council. Although the police are naturally reluctant to provide details they admit to sending a file to the Crown Prosecution Service and it is inconceivable that any likely obscene blogger they found didn’t have Bexley council connections. Who else knew that Elwyn Bryant and I were in the council offices on May 20th last year or that Nicholas Dowling and I visited the Cinema Car Park? And would it not also be a criminal offence to offer the culprit protection?

Who else in Bexley council might be mixed up with criminal activity?

Soon after I left Bexley Magistrates Court on 14th April a group of councillor Seymour’s friends surrounded me uttering thinly veiled threats in a menacing fashion. They followed it up with anonymous electronic messages. “Shut your mouth” etc.

Olly Cromwell experienced much the same. Here is a selection of [spelling, punctuation and grammar uncorrected] quotes…


• I was wholly disappointed as i was told your mob would be up for it.
• the councillor, who happend to be related to me through my wife.
• Wheres the interview you cunt?. You complete Cunt!
• My name has been kept off these post for very good reason.I have a serious reputation
• i feel the need to make you eat those words
• I haven't threatened you and if I had you would know it as I would leave you in no doubt.
• Seems you don't want this to end in peace
• i walked straight up to all your supporters and watched them melt into a puddle of piss when they were confronted.When you are in front of me looking in my eyes will you be any different? We shall see.
• How are you getting on with locating me through my ip?


So there you have a flavour of what sort of family Conservative councillor Melvin Seymour has. And how well did we get on with locating Seymour’s hard man relative via his IP address? Very well as it happens. 213.123.194.67 routed directly to a set of security cameras labelled Dalhanna.

The nearest Dalhanna to be found is a few miles away in an area reputed to be home to more than its fair share of criminals. But was it the right Dalhanna? A file from the Land Registry and the Estate Agents’ brochure showed a match with the seven separate CCTV views. Even the cracks in the paving stones were identical.

A 192.com search revealed the names of all the occupiers and all the electronic messages bore the same IP address, the same one as the CCTV images. Had our man been found? Could anything be done about him? Olly Cromwell decided no; and no one would trust the police not to double-cross him. Councillors are a protected species and Olly had a different priority; the imminent birth of his son - who arrived last Monday by the way.

Then someone posted rather more than Olly would have wished on the net which let the developments revealed above out of the bag. Melvin Seymour’s friends and family went to work. They identified themselves to someone closely involved in all this - sorry I am not at liberty at present to say who - and they severely beat him up. However once again they were rather stupid when it comes to the CCTV situation. The assault took place under the watchful eye of a security camera. Not one run by Bexley council fortunately, so there can be little chance of Bexley council perverting the course of justice.

Let’s see if I get warned off by ‘The Truth’ again.

Note: Seven book pages from CCTV. One from Estate Agents’ leaflet. IP address 213.123.194.67 is no longer available to view.

 

25 May (Part 2) - Tesco Town

Woolwich HQThe third subject on the Agenda of last night’s Planning Committee meeting was the old Black Horse coaching inn, recently vandalized by a combination of council stupidity and developer cunning. Would the replacement façade look anything like the original? It was the reason I attended. For an answer I can only refer you to the Sidup Community Group because when I left at ten past ten, being unable to endure the hard seat any longer, the item was yet to come up for debate.

The Community Group has since told me that I would have to have stayed another hour to hear that “The Travelodge façade will now incorporate opening sash windows with authentic glazing bars, ground floor bay windows, faithfully replicated canopy, materials which will faithfully replicate the original colours and a conspicuous plaque which will summarise the historic significance of the building. This is as much as anyone could have reasonably expected”. (The Community Group’s words.)

A minor issue that probably interested only me was that councillor Simon Windle asked for the Minutes of the last meeting to be changed to include the fact that he had sent Apologies for Absence from the last meeting even though it was accepted that none arrived. It was agreed that the Minutes would be amended to say that Apologies were received from councillor Windle. Thus we have Minutes that record something that never happened which is in stark contrast with the treatment meted out to councillor Malik. His request to have something that did take place included was refused. Presumably he will have to become a Conservative if he expects to be treated reasonably.

There were about 60 people in the public gallery most of whom were there to protest about the opening of yet another Tesco in the borough. This time Northumberland Heath is to be so honoured; however the first item on the Agenda was the new Civic Offices that are to occupy the old Woolwich Building Society HQ. Planning permission was a foregone conclusion but the issue still managed to soak up 55 minutes.

After the presentation by Mr. Stone, the quietly efficient council officer, councillor Tandy mumbled something about being “happy” with the “excellent outcome”. Anything else he may have said was lost because whenever he spoke he leaned well back in his chair so that he was a good three or four feet from the microphone. Some members of the public protested but they were ignored. To be fair to Chairman Peter Reader I doubt they made sufficient fuss for him to have noticed so he, unlike our new mayor Alan Downing is unlikely to be labelled “disrespectful” by the Standards Committee.

Little new came to light in the subsequent discussion. The on-site parking is to be restricted to two hours per visit and staff will be expected to use town centre parking which isn’t far away. Councillor Simon Windle thought the restriction should apply to councillors too but councillor John Waters said he would soon become “fed up if he found he finished up paying for parking”. Welcome to the real world councillor.

The south east facing roof which dominates the view from the A2 approaching Bexleyheath is to be adorned with 280 square metres of solar panels and, in a yet to be specified spot, a tall communications mast. Councillor Malik probed possible traffic problems but Mr. Boden, another council officer, said that all the assessments, surveys and computer modelling indicated there would be no problem. Certainly less than when the Woolwich BS occupied the building. As expected, the plans were unanimously accepted.

Tesco protestThe next subject for discussion was Tesco’s plan to open an ‘Express’ in the premises formerly occupied by the family owned electrical retailer Wellingtons. Wellingtons has not succumbed to the corporate might of Comet and the like, but has moved next door to a modern store more suited to their requirements. Tesco seems to be on a mission to take over the borough. Two large stores (planned or open) and five Express stores come to mind immediately.

The protesters and their placards stood no serious chance of stopping Tesco in their tracks. The existing store permission would allow a shop to open there tomorrow. However Tesco wants to install a cash machine (ATM), change the shop front a bit, put up a Tesco sign and install air conditioning units and compressors all of which do require permission. It was said there are already six ATMs in the small shopping centre and they attract groups who loiter with ill-intent and outside a store selling cheap alcohol it was a “dangerous” situation.

Councillors Bishop and Waters were concerned about the traffic congestion that delivery vehicles would cause and anyone who knows the area will be very aware that things are pretty bad already. The shops do not have rear service areas but Planning Department chief, Susan Clark, had to remind the Committee that there was absolutely nothing that could legally be done to prevent Tesco using any delivery vehicle they might choose. For the record, Tesco has said they don’t plan to use anything bigger than ten metres long.

Councillor Munir Malik, as is often the case, had most to say about the problems the ATM might cause and said he was going to vote against it. Building to a climax, he said he was minded to vote against all four of the applications. He asked council officer Boden his expert opinion on the traffic implications of an ATM on a street corner but Boden had great faith in the existing double yellow lines being a satisfactory deterrent. The protesters voiced their derision.

One might have guessed that Munir’s condemnation of the proposed ATM would earn it a reprieve but in fact the vote went against it with only one dissenter. Councillor Val Clark either had her hand up at the wrong time or was in favour of Tesco’s ATM.

If I lived close to the proposed store I would be more concerned about the noise from the compressors and air-con units. They would be only about four metres from the nearest dwelling, that was the official estimate, the protesters sitting near me said it was closer. It was alleged that the compressors at the Welling store are noisier than the permission allows but councillor Val Clark said this wasn’t true. Tesco might consider sending her some Clubcard Reward Points for her consistent loyalty.

There was already a plan to limit the night time noise levels and the units were approved on the understanding that (higher) day time limits would be imposed too. Councillor Malik along with his party colleague Seán Newman was as good as his word and voted against everything.

The protesters filed out at 21:45 with shouts of “whitewash” the relevance of which I failed to comprehend. Whilst I can see that Tesco will add little or nothing to the wellbeing of Northumberland Heath and will make the frequently appalling road congestion even worse, the Planning Committee could not reasonably stop it. If local feeling is strong enough residents can always boycott Tesco. It’s not as though the Express prices are competitive. A rip-off from my limited experience.

 

25 May (Part 1) - Working together for a safer London. Ha! Ha!

Evening Standard reportWhen Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer suddenly disappeared from the local police scene the conspiracy theorists linked it to his failure to investigate crimes committed by his friends at Bexley council. I doubted it so there was no allusion to that here. I had noted that quite a big shuffle of borough commanders took place at the same time and assumed they were being moved on quickly before they had time to get too involved in the corruption for which the Metropolitan Police is renowned. However it would appear that the truth falls somewhere in between.

The Evening News reported a couple of days ago that Commander Stringer and others were moved after “Wire-style grillings”. It looks like he was too easy going on criminals both inside and outside the council chamber; but is his replacement any better?

At last week’s public meeting with Commissioner Hogan-Howe, Elwyn Bryant asked why the investigation into Bexley council’s obscene blog was inconclusive after 12 months. Hogan-Howe said he should have a word with new Commander Olisa after the meeting and if no information was forthcoming within the next week to let him know. Commander Olisa appeared to take a good deal of interest in the case but hasn’t bothered to contact Elwyn since.

It is 26 days since Bexleyheath police phoned me to say that “within two weeks, probably less” I would hear something more useful than their repetitive assurances that the blog investigation is ongoing but they can’t give any details. Just like Elwyn, I have heard nothing. When I went to see Commander Stringer my always supportive MP, Teresa Pearce, volunteered to accompany me. I updated her on the current situation yesterday and she is going to whisper something in Chief Superintendent Olisa’s ear. Elwyn has put off his plan to complain directly to the Commissioner until next week.

 

24 May - Rita goes up market

Grootendorst's shed Grootendorst's shed A Grootendorst style shed A Grootendorst style shedThe Grootendorsts are, I would imagine, sympathetic to the views of the tree-hugging fraternity. Recycle everything and look after the natural world might be their motto.

Bexley council and their apparatchiks are more than a little interested in Rita’s collection of sheds. Never mind the fact that the one next door is in a poor state, it is Rita’s, mainly made from bits and pieces she and her husband Pieter have collected from house refurbishments and the occasional discarded outbuilding that are their obsession.

The Grootendorst Grottos tend to have the most elaborate doors ever to grace a garden shed. On the other hand one has a roof of corrugated polycarbonate which may be a trifle incongruous among the trees. But I don’t think that is yet a crime even if it is not traditional shed building material.

Bexley council doesn’t like Rita’s sheds. I was present last year when they said so and appeared to think it was justification for their complaints when they demanded to look inside and found a door that refused to open.

Rita’s sheds are apparently not smart enough for Sidcup, they are not sufficiently orthodox and therefore a blot on the landscape. The fact that B&Q don’t stock anything quite like them is probably the ultimate proof but perhaps Bexley council should compare them with somewhere more trendy. Two of the sheds shown above are exhibits at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

 

23 May - One “ludicrous” garden. One ludicrous council

I am sometimes asked why Bexley council has spent so much time and far too much of our money persecuting the owner of a wild life garden and I have to confess I don’t really know.

It may be that it is just a variant on their habit of attacking a critic in whatever way they can, not unlike their obscene blogging about Elwyn Bryant and me, or blaming Olly Cromwell for the flaming torches comment which was nothing whatever to do with him. Or it could be retribution on Mrs. Rita Grootendorst for splitting the vote in an Erith election and letting Labour in, or perhaps someone with close council connections is pulling strings.

It is strange that none of Sidcup’s councillors show any interest.


Grootendorst's gardenThere is no doubt at all that Mrs. G’s garden is totally unlike mine and may not be to everybody’s liking. It is cluttered; definitely. It may be untidy; those favouring minimalism and closely cropped lawns would say so, but what it is not is severely detrimental to local amenities or derelict as Bexley council would have you believe. It is far from being the worst example of untidiness in that locality.

I stumbled upon a video of Bill Oddie’s garden. It is possible to watch it and, apart from the pond, imagine you are in Rita’s garden. Both are long, narrow, secluded by trees and shrubs, full of hanging ornaments and oddments, some broken, some not. Bits and pieces fill every available space and Bill, or more accurately, his wife, says it is a “ludicrous garden” - but he obviously loves it.

Fortunately for him, Bill Oddie doesn’t live in Bexley.

 

22 May - Town hall tyrants

The Daily Mail is carrying the story that leaving rubbish in your garden is to become a criminal offence meriting a £100 on-the-spot fine. Having recently announced that councils are to be banned from levying fines for petty waste bin offences such as leaving it on the street overnight, David Cameron’s lunatic government believes councils can be trusted to act fairly in another arena. Maybe I should own up that I have a bucket with a hole in it and the grass collector from a discarded lawn mower cluttering up my back garden. Perhaps it will take the heat off the Grootendorsts.

John WaringAt the beginning of the month Bexley council withdrew its Section 215 notice from Mr. & Mrs. Grootendorst which threatened them with prosecution for keeping an untidy wildife garden. Signed by Bexley council’s Senior Litigation Solicitor, Guy Atkins, it would seem it was yet another example of the high degree of expertise one has come to expect from Bexley, it was found to be legally “defective”.

Rather late in the day I have discovered that a replacement was hand delivered by Mr. John Waring (see photo) on 14th May. According to Mrs. Grootendorst, Mr. Waring describes her award winning garden as full of “s**t, scrap and rubbish”.

Index to the Grootendorst saga.

 

21 May (Part 2) - Expenditure on consultants

Nick JohnsonClose followers of Bexley council will know that it is shelling out a £50,000 a year pension to its former Chief Executive Nick Johnson while he works for another council. Well not quite working for another council, he actually works for his own company that sells his services. A neat little tax dodge.

A question to Bexley council provided the welcome answer that none of its staff are employed via such mechanisms and that its only expenditure on consultancy is through companies such as Parsons Brinckerhoff who some hoped might inject a little sense into Bexley’s road schemes - some hope!

A problem with Bexley’s Freedom of Information responses is that you can never be sure they are accurate and this may be such a case. It claimed that “based on information contained in our central accounting system, the cost [of employing consultant firms] for the financial year 2011/12 was £194,085. This excludes the engagement of consultants in schools”.

Their own website lists payments over £500 and the oldest entry, October 2011, shows that in that month alone, Parsons Brinckerhoff picked up more than £200,000. In Bexley it is hard to know where the truth might lie.

 

21 May (Part 1) - Bexley council. Can’t it get anything right?

Vauxhall ZafiraLast week the parking issue was Bexley council’s failure to observe government guidance on where to place a parking restriction sign; this week the error would appear to be more serious.

At the Parking Appeals Service an Adjudicator noted that Bexley council has varied the required form of words where it relates to loading bays. They have extended exclusions to include all vehicles pulling trailers. So if you hitch a small truck to the back of your car to allow you to pick up a bulky item you could be in trouble. However the real issue is even more interesting.

Bexley council maintains that an MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle) is not so multi-purpose that it allows the carriage of goods. They therefore tried to fine the owner of a Vauxhall Zafira for stopping in a loading bay. The Adjudicator ruled that it was irrelevant whether the vehicle was loading or not.

This being an appeal in which Notomob took a close interest, the homework had been done well. They had measured the bay and found it did not conform to the minimum dimensions (2,700mm width) required for a loading bay.

It was therefore a fairly easy victory for Notomob and once again Bexley council’s Parking Manager, Tina Brooks is shown to be an over-paid liability.

Notomob may appear to have gone quiet in Bexley but things are definitely going on in the background which are best not mentioned publicly at present, but I imagine that Will Tuckley will be only too well aware of them. Will the fact that in the past three years Bexley council extracted fines from 1,989 motorists who had parked in loading bays with incorrect signs and road markings become another of his headaches? A near certainty I would think.

Adjudicator’s deliberations.

 

19 May - Art or a stencil job?

GraffitoI’m taking the weekend off, too many other things to do. But I thought I’d show you this little flower which is one of several that have appeared across Thamesmead and Belvedere in recent months.

The News Shopper reported the phenomenon two months ago and my MP (re)Tweeted about it last week. This one on the Lesnes Abbey footbridge is visible to anyone passing along Abbey Road and has been in situ for about a week. It has a ‘twin’ on the opposite side of the road. I suppose that technically it is the result of a criminal act but unlike the fly tipped bedding that lies nearby I find it rather attractive.

Back to normal on Monday probably.

 

18 May - They are all in this together

The fact that Teresa O’Neill and Will Tuckley referred me to the police for the “flaming torches and pitchforks” comment rather than the original author was reported to the Local Government Ombudsman as part of my submission that Bexley council has been on a mission to eradicate all sources of criticism. The LGO is taking the view that a council can report whoever it likes for whatever it might imagine to the police and it is up to the police whether they decide to jump to attention or send them away with a flea in their ear. I have been arguing that a council should have a duty of care to its residents and mistakes of this magnitude are not acceptable, especially from one of the highest paid public servants in the country.

To be honest I don’t give much for my chances. It is well known that the LGO is just another branch of local government stuffed full of people who have had top jobs in town halls, all Common Purpose trained, and likely to be in each others’ pockets, metaphorically speaking.

The police in Bexley, a year ago if not now, were only too keen to jump at Bexley council’s command although by the end of his time here I believe C.S. Stringer was becoming more aware of the criminal propensities of councils and councillors. If he wasn’t he must be now that he is top dog in Tower Hamlets. At their council meeting this week one of his men arrested Labour Councillor Kosru Uddin for threatening to kill Rania Khan for supporting the borough’s Independent mayor Lutfur Rahman. The only death threat we have had here was on Olly Cromwell and no one knows where that came from.

 

17 May (Part 3) - Named and blamed

On the way in to yesterday’s council meeting I was intercepted by a young lady at the door who wanted to know my name. This, I thought, was something new and may be the prelude to new restrictions, so I gave my first name only to see what the reaction might be. It wasn’t what I expected. “Mr. Knight” was invited in. My notoriety travels before me. The equally helpful and patient Mr. Dave Easton, the council’s new(ish) Head of Members’ Services later explained that they were looking out for Alan Downing’s guests who had been allocated reserved seats in the front row.

I’m surprised to have been considered a possible for one of the honoured few; I long ago stopped wearing a suit to council meetings and although I was wearing a tie, in other respects was not far above the threshold for scruffiness. I hid myself on the back row.

Bird CollegeThen another funny thing happened at the end of the meeting. A very pleasant lady approached me to say that my blog reference to her last month was inaccurate. I apologised and said I would correct it and thanked her for providing the opportunity to put it right. I was puzzled as to how I could get something so wrong as I never write anything here without being sure of my sources; but mistakes can happen.

What I said about the lady on 30th April was “Councillor June Slaughter is on the board of Bird College, a sort of local Italia Conti theatrical school”. Councillor Slaughter told me she took only a minor role in the music department. I accept she must be right but where did I get my information from? I was relieved to find that I had not knowingly led you astray. The first ten words were lifted verbatim from Bexley council’s website. I have added a footnote to the original entry and I’m grateful to the councillor for it. It’s nice to be able to claim that Bonkers is more accurate than the council site.

 

17 May (Part 2) - Bexley’s new mayor. An aggressive start

Councillor Alan DowningThe mid-May council meeting is not like others, its prime purpose is to elect the new mayor and rubber stamp the minutes of all the sub-committee AGMs. It is unlike the others in style too; whereas a regular council meeting offers the spectacle of politicians portraying themselves as clowns, last night’s offered third rate comedians trying to be funny. We learned nothing of note except that new mayor Alan Downing likes to dress up as a Spice Girl. Scary Spice might be appropriate if his debut was anything to go by.

When I arrived there were 48 people in the gallery, adoring Spice Girl fans presumably and the numbers eventually grew to about 60. They were warned by the outgoing mayor Sams that they weren't allowed to photograph or video the proceedings and this was to ensure the public was protected. Once a liar always a liar. The formalities were that councillor Colin Campbell proposed the new appointment and councillor Sawyer seconded it. Councillor Ross Downing would become mayoress and the Beckwiths were proposed for deputy mayor and mayoress. There was a vote and all the Conservatives raised their hands while from the Labour group only three arms were clearly outstretched, those of councillors Ball, Persaud and Boateng.

A game of musical chairs then followed in which outgoing mayor Sams disappeared to be replaced ten minutes later by Alan Downing complete with Captain Jack Sparrow black hat. He announced that his chosen charity would be Action on Hearing Loss to make amends for his bad tempered assault upon deaf people… No of course he didn’t. He chose two. Diabetes UK (Bexley Support Group) and Help for Heroes.

After a number of speeches to say how brilliant everyone is, the festivities ended at 20:37 when the real business, such as it was, began.

This essential business consisted of the chairman of each of the sub-committees popping up like so many Jacks in the Box to ask for the minutes of their AGMs to be approved. The mayor said there must be no votes against so all the Tories dutifully ticked the appropriate box while the Labour group, by and large, abstained.

Councillor Munir MalikAll went according to plan until councillor Cheryl Bacon asked that her Public Realm minutes be approved. Councillor Munir Malik said that the minutes did not reflect the meeting accurately and objected. If you cast your mind back to the beginning of April and the report on that meeting you will see that councillor Malik asked to see a copy of a survey being discussed but which was unavailable for anyone to see. Chairman Cheryl said he couldn’t have it and councillor ‘Biffa’ Bailey said he was rude for asking.

Councillor Malik revealed that the report was called ‘Town Centres Realities Check Report’ and to get a copy he had to resort to the Freedom of Information Act. Can you imagine it? Bexley council is so secretive that its Conservative chairman of the Public Realm committee will not let a Labour member know what is going on? Councillor Malik was aggrieved that the minutes white-washed chairman Cheryl Bacon’s ridiculous affront to democracy.

Scary Spice raised his voice as if he was addressing a deaf man and told councillor Malik that he must not speak unless he raised his hand and was invited to do so. He also went out of his way to insult and belittle the councillor by referring to him as Mr. Malik.


Councillor Cheryl BaconWhen councillor Malik raised his hand and was invited to speak he rose to his feet only to be told to sit down when he asked councillor Cheryl Bacon if she was denying the events he had described took place. Clearly they did occur but Cheryl could not bring herself to admit that her minutes were not a true account. Jabber Downing called for a vote and scored his first significant victory over Bexley council’s great enemy, Truth and Transparency. He sanctioned falsifying the minutes of a meeting to protect another Spice Girl. Ginger.

Councillor Malik was not happy and nor was the small section of the audience which wasn’t part of Downing’s personal entourage. Malik rose again to his feet and said he “did not feel the Standing Orders should have been subverted“ in this way. Jabber Downing bellowed back that Mr. Malik should sit down. No hearing loop system was required even for the most profoundly deaf. There was no Help for this Hero.

Councillor Gareth Bacon then waded in, no doubt incensed that his wife’s lack of integrity was exposed for all reasonable men to see. He said a vote had been taken and that was the end of the matter. The minutes were now the official record of events. He indicated councillor Malik should sit down and shut up. Scary Spice bellowed his agreement. His performance is in stark contrast to his rather dull predecessor and I am looking forward to reporting on his antics again. I expect he is already poring over the elusive Constitutional Review to see how he might exploit the rules that permit him to ban anyone from any meeting on any pretext.

The meeting ended at 20:52.

 

17 May (Part 1) - Bexleyheath’s new copper. An impressive start

Commisioner Hogan Howe Commander Victor OlisaSome of my colleagues went to the police meeting at Christ the King St. Mary’s Sixth Form College in Sidcup last night where Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe and the new Commander here in Bexley, Victor Olisa, were on a meet the public mission. I might have gone myself but the timetable was too congested and there was a council meeting to attend. As I have remarked before, this website is ‘Bexley council is Bonkers’ not Bexleyheath police so a council meeting will always take precedence.

I am told that there were about 80 people there and reports are generally favourable. Hogan-Howe it is alleged, appeared to show irritation at some of the questions but by all accounts Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa was impressive. I have heard this before from other people who met him soon after he arrived on 16th April. Let’s hope he is more even-handed with his application of the law than his predecessor appeared to be and doesn’t fall for Bexley council’s wining and dining techniques.

Meanwhile in the council chamber it was confirmed that Alan ‘Jabber’ Downing, has been chosen as mayor, that was never really in doubt, but the burning question of the day was always going to be “Would the rudest man in Bexley behave like a civilised human being or disgrace his office”. The report should be along by mid-morning if all goes according to plan.

P.S. Relax. Jabber’s reputation is intact. What a start! What a mayor! What a gold plated prat.

 

16 May (Part 2) - Bexley council petitions John Lewis. Oh, the irony!

Waitrose logoI had planned a rather different blog for this afternoon but I spent it with a couple of shopkeepers who have joined the growing throng of people abused by Bexley council. Thanks to the lack of North South bus routes it took far too long to get home, exactly 75 minutes and there is a council meeting to prepare for. In retrospect I was stupid not to walk, it would have been 45 minutes at most. So with time running out I shall take the easy way out by hijacking a shop story from the News Shopper.

It brought a wry smile to my face, as it no doubt will to Elwyn Bryant’s, but the newspaper reports that Bexley council is getting into the petitions business. They want Waitrose to reverse its decision to put the proposed Sidcup store on ice.

The Sidcup Community Group is running a similar petition on its website. Unfortunately it is only available to those who can read Word Documents.

 

16 May (Part 1) - The man who would be mayor

Alan Downing Action for DeafnessI saw it for myself. This man, councillor Alan Downing, when asked to ensure the council chamber microphones were switched on so that the hearing loop for the deaf would work, said that councillors didn’t have to switch on their microphones if they didn’t want to and if a man was deaf that was his problem and by implication not Downing’s.

Not content with that, at the end of the Crime and Disorder Committee meeting he was chairing and upon hearing that a formal complaint was likely, he said, “Good, I will look forward to that”. Then, after the possible consequences may have sunk in he shouted "Don’t you threaten me” before the Acting Borough Police Commander intervened causing Downing to retreat.


Cheryl Bacon Alex SawyerThere were lots of witnesses which would make it an open and shut case of offending against the Members’ Code of Conduct one might think, but many of those witnesses were Conservative councillors and most if not all of them were jeering and gesturing at the deaf man. Unbelievable but true.

Complaints of this nature go to the Standards Committee. And who might they be? Conservative councillors on a rota, in this instance Cheryl Bacon and Alex Sawyer plus ‘independent’ Chairman Peter Richards. So independent that to get the job he had to be interviewed by Conservative councillors and paid £2,133 a year to ensure his loyalty. What did they have to say about Downing’s outrageous, even criminal, behaviour, bearing in mind the requirements of the Equalities Act?


The Standards Committee concluded that…


• As Chairman, Downing “must be allowed to manage the proceedings. Members of the Public do not have the right to address or interrupt the meeting” and therefore the deaf man was wrong to have asked for the microphone to be switched on. Whilst the councillor was absolved of all responsibility for the incident the deaf man was criticised for his “manner”.
• That councillor Downing “had not done anything to cause the authority to breach any of the relevant equality enactments”.
• That at no time had Downing “bullied” a member of the public.
• “Councillor Downing had not conducted himself in a manner which could reasonably regarded as bringing his office or authority into disrepute. Councillor Downing was acting in his capacity as Chairman and a member of the public had interrupted the meeting and Councillor Downing was endeavouring to control the meeting. He had not breached part 5 of the Members’ Code of Conduct.”


The Committee noted that…


• “Chairmen should be mindful of the needs of those in the public gallery who may not be able to view or hear the proceedings.”
• The issue of interruptions “should be referred to its Monitoring Officer given that actions taken in relation to managing interruptions from members of the public at committee meetings could be perceived as contravening paragraph 3(1) of the Members’ Code of Conduct”.
• “Councillor Downing’s response to the request for the microphone to be turned on could be considered as disrespectful.”
• “Pointing a pen at a member of the public would be disrespectful if proved.”


So in essence the Committee acknowledges that the deaf should be given consideration, that pen jabbing is unacceptable and that Downing’s response could be considered to be disrespectful. Perhaps councillors Bacon and Sawyer recognised that Downing had overstepped the mark to a considerable degree but felt unable to find a fellow Conservative guilty of any offence. There can be no recourse to the Standards Board for England because that was one of the few casualties of David Cameron’s ‘Bonfire of the Quangos’. Never mind, at least, if predictions are correct, you’ll be able to see a man without a stain on his character draped in chains this evening. To have a man like Downing elevated to mayor of Bexley sums up this borough beautifully.

 

15 May (Part 2) - Outsourcing. An outstanding success story

This morning’s aside about redundancies brought forth a comment from someone who should know, that Bexley council may well quote 37 redundancies in 2010/11 but the true number was closer to 200. I have no way of knowing which is correct, probably both are. Bexley council has a habit of calculating numbers in a way to suit itself and if that fails they can always get councillor Craske to invent some numbers to prove that issuing a residents’ parking permit costs £240. I began to think about how much more effective the council might be after outsourcing so many services; I didn’t have to look far.

Last month’s council meeting revealed that “processing of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit claims falls below the London Average”. Who looks after that while Mr. Tuckley twiddles his thumbs? The register of contracts shows that job was handed over to Capita Business Services in 2008 with an eight year contract paying almost four and a half million a year. Around £35 million in total and a below average service. Undeniably a bargain. Bexley council says that changes will be made from next month with the aim of speeding up processing times. What has Capita been doing for the last four years?

A more high profile contract is that with NSL for parking services. That looks like being a better bargain; only a million a year and NSL do their jobs so badly they incur penalty fees. A third of Penalty Notices challenged (6,000 out of 18,000) and 12% of claims are upheld. "Steps were underway to improve the service performance including further training for Civic (sic) Enforcement Officers”. The parking service causes untold misery to thousands of motorists but Bexley council profits from the poor service and heart-ache. Bexley is compensated by the full amount of the penalty charge when NSL gets it wrong too often.

The almost unknown contractor, Blenheim CDP, is on to a good thing. £300,000 a year to treat drug addicts. The April council meeting records that the numbers of drug addicts referred to Blenheim CDP is “disappointingly low”. 24 against a target of 40. Some might argue that that is a good thing. Easy pickings for Blenheim on a fixed price contract though.

There is to be another council meeting tomorrow evening. Anyone thinking of attending may wish to know that this is more an AGM than a council meeting. They are there principally to congratulate themselves and decide who shall pick up the best allowances next year.

 

15 May (Part 1) - Council jobs to go. Not Tuckley’s obviously

Will TuckleyWhen it was announced last month that Will Tuckley was the sixth highest paid town hall official in the country a Bexley council spokeswoman sprang into action to defend the waste of money by claiming that the council is the biggest employer in the borough with a turnover of £500 million a year. I found it rather depressing that the biggest industry in the borough was bureaucracy, but just how big is it? Previous attempts to put a number on the pen-pushers were inconclusive. While Teresa O’Neill was claiming 2,279 Tuckley was claiming 8,198. As has been said before, don’t expect consistency from liars.

Another search of Bexley’s website produced another new figure. A month after O’Neill wrote to the Evening Standard with her 2,279 figure, the Human Resources’ contribution to the General Purposes Committee meeting of 3rd November 2011 was “Clearly, with an establishment of around 1,600 staff and a total salary bill of £63m.” It was further explained that some of the establishment was fulfilled through job sharing so the number of people involved was 1,933. That's quite a lot of part-timers. “The level of savings required under Strategy 2014 cannot be achieved without planned staffing reductions” the same document proclaimed.

They will presumably be planning to get rid of more staff than in the previous year when the total was just 37. Maybe they have a cunning plan.

My aim is always to provide supporting evidence and links for what is written here but occasionally it isn’t possible without betraying sources, but I hear that behind the scenes the following is being progressed.


• Statutory Services to be merged with Croydon and Bromley by Autumn. So if you have a noise complaint or a problem trader to report, join a longer queue. £100,000 saved, except that it will need more IT to runs the show.

• Licensing issues to go the same way. I thought we already had quite enough complaints from publicans without moving their points of contact to another borough.


Fewer staff to run the whole show presumably but further degradation of services almost inevitable. Those who will lose their jobs will be consoled by the thought that Will Tuckley will have even less to do. There is still no sign of him doing any job sharing. In the words of the three Lesnes ward councillors and 2,219 petition signers, “he is paid too much”. Incidentally, Danny Hackett, who was denied an answer to his question by the filibustering Teresa O’Neill at last month’s council meeting has had a one word written answer from the council leader. It is “No”, she doesn't agree with the ward councillors for Lesnes Abbey. Nice to see dissension in the ranks.

 

14 May (Part 3) - Everything is crap to Olly, probably SITE has a missing aitch

Youve-been-Cromwelled - Menu list Sandra BauerJohn Kerlen, aka Olly Cromwell, is not afraid to use bad language on his website, as I have said before, everything is S. H. I. T. to him. It's his choice and it’s not illegal, at least I don’t think it is.

Olly has been convicted of using grossly offensive language and menacing an unnamed Bexley councillor. His overuse of the ‘S’ word is what got him into trouble, although it needed councillor Sandra Bauer to twist his ill chosen words into something criminal. It was Bauer’s false statement that did the real damage.

She has one or two supporters for her lie and one has been having his say on the Comments section of Olly’s website. Among his veiled threats of violence one can detect that he thinks the reason for the recent trial was Olly’s posting of a picture of an unidentified councillor’s house on Twitter. I would suggest that anyone who believes that to be true is extremely naive.

Bexley council in the shape of councillor Melvin Seymour reported Olly to a subservient police force because they wanted to shut him up - the council wasn’t interested in protecting Seymour’s family - his address was all over the web long before Olly was untruthfully accused of making it public. For proof I offer the following…


Please find attached a copy of a draft Restraining Order which the Crown intends to apply for at the conclusion of these proceedings be it a not guilty or a guilty finding.

“The Court made the following restraining order against the defendant under the provision of section 5/5A of the Protection of Harassment Act 1997 as amended by section 12 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, subject to any further order which may be made by any court.

For the purposes of protecting the persons listed in the Schedule attached to this order from harassment, John Graham Kelan is prohibited from:


1. Causing any statement to appear on the internet which relates to any person listed in the said attached Schedule. For the avoidance of doubt this includes continuing to allow a statement made to remain on the internet.

2. Approaching, contacting or attempting to contact any person listed in the attached schedule.”


The Schedule was a list of all 63 of Bexley’s councillors. Can there really be any doubt about what Bexley council was intent on doing? The draft order was drawn up in February, two months after John Kerlen was acquitted of all the charges brought by Bexley council. Once again they show how Bexley council regards the law as their plaything to be used maliciously against residents whenever they wish, especially if their many other sins are in danger of being exposed.

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 May (Part 2) - Swings and roundabouts

Bexley recycles 51% Bexley claims to saves £3 million a yearBexley council has long shouted from the rooftops about a service which it runs reasonably well, refuse collection.

Thanks to a convenient quirk of the arithmetic it has claimed to head the list of successful recyclers and with the aid of some shaky logic, it claims that residents have saved £3 million pounds a year.

It’s the sort of notional saving that I might claim for drinking tea rather than whisky - am I really £20 a week better off for avoiding the booze?

It’s a tenuous argument and in any case Bexley council doesn’t do its sums correctly.


Bromley recycles 52% and savs £1.5 millionBromley council jumped on the recycling bandwagon last year and by Autumn was close to catching Bexley; now, according to their website they have. 52% recycling but strangely only £1.5 million a year saving. Maybe they employ better qualified accountants than Bexley.

Bromley may well be making more modest and honest claims for their service but in one respect Bexley continues to be hugely better. If you live in Bromley and want a wheelie bin for compost it will cost you £60 a year, taking away half their annual council tax advantage. If you don’t have a garden you may prefer Bromley’s system.

 

14 May (Part 1) - Bexleyheath police. Unbelievably incompetent

Bexleyheath police noticeFrom beginning to end Bexleyheath police has made mistake after mistake in their rush to please their political masters at Bexley council. They issued a harassment letter to Olly Cromwell (John Kerlen) for things he had never ever done. They charged him for offences that we now know were not offences and he hadn’t done them anyway.


Victor OlisaWhen he was charged they distributed a press release saying that he was the owner of this website and although he was found Not Guilty they put out a notice yesterday (dated 14th May) to say he had been found guilty of “harassing various Bexley councillors”. Absolutely wrong. Probably libellous. Arnsberg Way would appear to be filled with the biggest bunch of incompetents ever to wear a blue uniform.

Click the announcement to see the original - penultimate paragraph. Be quick, I think Olly’s solicitor will be on to them quite soon.

Update: The announcement was partially corrected around mid-day today. The “named man” the police are so coy about is of course councillor Melvin Seymour.

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.

 

13 May (Part 2) - Parking. Perils and perks

Covered cameras Parking sign Council surveyIn the first two or three months of this year Bexley’s CCTV cars were travelling around town with their cameras covered. It was a period that coincided with a serious drop in the number of penalty notices (PCNs) issued. The connection seems to be more than a little obvious, but not according to Bexley council.

In a Freedom of Information response they have said that the cameras were covered “to assist in the prevention of any vandalism or being open to the elements in order to reduce wear and tear on the camera lenses when not actually filming”. The risk of vandalism must have gone with the arrival of Bexleyheath’s new top cop.

Camera lenses are not the only thing that Bexley council has been hiding. The parking restriction notice is fixed to someone’s gate support pillar rather than the customary pole. So if you see a couple of apparently unrestricted parking spaces with no notices on poles, don’t believe you are safe, you are in Bexley.

Government guidance is that signs should be a minimum of 900 millimetres above ground level and adds the following…


Careful consideration should be given to any proposal to mount signs at a low height, such as on railings or bollards, as there is a risk of drivers not noticing them.


Council staff are mercifully free from such perils, with their charges for parking in council car parks waived it’s not surprising that most of them drive to work. (Bexley council survey of their own staff.)

 

13 May (Part 1) - Bexley council. Anchors

It is good that so many other bloggers and webmasters are linking to this site but it is a little annoying that some of them are referring to a blog page only by its month name which means that except for the day the link is created it will be out of date, displaced from the top of the page by a newer item.

Some have noticed that each entry has a ‘bookmark’; more correctly called an anchor. The associated blog index uses the anchor to get to the appropriate blog entry, and that is the link that should be used from elsewhere.

To make the anchor link easier to get, a change has been made. If you place the mouse pointer over the blog title, ‘Bexley council. Anchors’ for example, an image of an anchor should appear. Click and the entry will position itself at the top of the page and the anchored link will appear in the URL area at the top of the page. The facility is available on all Bonkers blogs from 1st March 2012.

A similar facility is available from the date part of the blog title. A little green arrow should appear but that is not new.

The Opera web browser as usual doesn’t play the game. The anchor will not appear but click and it will nevertheless put the correct URL where it belongs. Fortunately the number of Opera using visitors to the site rarely exceeds 1%.

 

12 May (Part 2) - They set out to deceive us all, and they very nearly succeeded

Bexley TimesNews ShopperI expect you think that once the council moves to its new building they are going to webcast their proceedings like many boroughs do. You will have seen the reports to that effect in the Bexley Times and the News Shopper a year ago.

Having attended the notorious Constitution Review meeting chaired by the despicable Teresa O’Neill in April 2011 and the council meeting three weeks later which considered its findings, I too believed that Bexley council intended to get into the world of webcasting. How that sat with their cock-and-bull story that their present stance protects members of the public is not clear, but the last thing you should expect of liars is consistency.

The Constitution Review recommended webcasting, I heard them say so, two local newspapers confirmed it and the full council meeting on 18th May 2011 recommended the Constitution Review’s decision for adoption. So it is not unreasonable to assume that webcasting is coming. But that would be to ignore the sheer deviousness and dishonesty of a council run by Teresa O’Neill and Colin Campbell.

My report of last May’s council meeting reminds us that the Appendix including the Constitution Review’s report was missing from the Agenda Pack. It is still missing from the archive on Bexley’s website. The public were never allowed to see what the Constitution Review actually recommended, only what was said in public. It is not even certain that councillors saw their recommendations. Quite likely the sheep voted for it blind.

So why cast doubt on the plan for webcasting at this late stage when the council has led us to believe it is coming?

Mayor SamsLast month John Watson of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group put forward a question for the council to answer at its next meeting. “In view of the Council’s proposals to have meetings of the Council videoed and tape recorded when it takes up occupation of its new offices, would the Leader take steps to introduce these facilities now to demonstrate the Council’s support for her Government’s commitment to transparency and openness?"

Bexley council has replied as follows… “The Mayor has ruled your question out as it is factually incorrect and therefore not admissible.”

So they have been at it again. Lying and deception is Bexley council’s preferred mode of operation. They fooled us all last May by the simple expedient of saying one thing in public and recommending something else in private. Accidentally on purpose missing Appendix A from the council’s Agenda Pack was a device that succeeded in fooling everyone until John Watson asked another of his questions.

Note: If you have access to the News Shopper’s archive of back issues, their issue of 27 April 2011 covers the same subject on Page 2.

 

12 May (Part 1) - Another Welling corridor - Click any image for photo gallery (2 images)

Bellegrove Road Upper Wickham LaneThe Welling Corridor Photo Diary is complete but it is not the only cyclists’ death trap that Bexley council has created in the town. Not far away in Upper Wickham Lane the carriageway has also been made artificially narrow, barely wide enough for the 96 bus to squeeze past the traffic islands, certainly a place where extra care is required if a cyclist should be in the vicinity.

Having created a hazard for those on two wheels, Bexley council has the perfect answer. A pot of paint. Cyclists are given false confidence by a short cycle track where the road is inadequate. As if it is going to make a scrap of difference to their vulnerability.

Photos: Left - Bellegrove Road. Right - Upper Wickham Lane (island inset).

 

11 May (Part 2) - Configure. Go figure…

I discovered only yesterday that the facility to change the text size and alignment from the Configure page (See menu above) no longer worked in Internet Explorer. It remained OK in all the other commonly used browsers, Chrome, Firefox, Safari. If you have been frustrated by this failing you may wish to know that the problem has been located and fixed.

 

11 May (Part 1) - Down. The pub

The Duchess of Edinburgh Notice Inaccessible noticeI had planned to highlight some statistics today to maybe illustrate what good value Will Tuckley is at a mere quarter million a year but I needed to check some figures and large chunks of Bexley’s website have been down all morning, so I decided to go down the pub instead.

The dubious planning goings on in Bexley village have provoked a number of people to comment on other inexplicable issues involving planning.

The Duchess of Edinburgh public house on Upper Wickham Lane has within the past month been fenced off and the interior gutted and removed. The notices that may explain what is going on are fixed to the barriers such that they face a whitewashed brick wall and are completely inaccessible. Why would that be?

A prolonged search of Bexley’s planning applications reveals nothing recent but locally it is said the plan is to build another Tesco Express, next door to a CostCutter and half a mile from the new Tesco superstore in Welling town centre. Could a gun have been jumped? Someone must think so. Bexley’s website records an appeal lodged on 9th May, Reference 12/00207/ENF.

Update: It is understood that councillor Steven Hall has been working with local residents to lodge the enforcement notice but that the law may allow little or no redress against developers. Steven Hall has been noted before as being both friendly and helpful and reputed to listen to his electorate. No hope of him becoming part of Teresa O’Neill’s inner circle or a cabinet member then.

 

10 May (Part 3) - Denise Johnson, CPS. Wrong, wrong, wrong

Police transcript of Olly's Tweets
From today's Independent newspaperThe image above is Bexleyheath police’s transcript of Olly Cromwell’s Tweets. When he was arrested a month later he had still not identified the house he pictured on Twitter. It was as he has admitted a silly throw away remark, nothing more.

In court yesterday, prosecutor Denise Johnson had that document on her desk, she quoted it, word perfect, where it related to me and the Bonkers site. However several of today’s newspapers (Independent shown) quoted her statement that Olly had named Seymour and, encouraged people to put excrement or anything else through his letter box. It’s not bad reporting, that is what Judge Julia Newton was told. If this is the standard of the average Crown Prosecution Service lawyer the chances of charges being laid for Bexley council’s obscene blog must be receding rapidly.

Click image for full Indie report.

 

10 May (Part 2) - Pure coincidence

Bexley CabsFinding planning applications on Bexley’s website is no easy task. You might think you would click on ‘P’ and the navigation would be obvious. I managed to find the Bexley Cabs application at the third attempt but not everyone is so persistent. One Bonkers reader gave up and went to see it at the council’s Contact Centre instead. While sitting in a corner reading he became aware that he wasn’t the only one there interested in the cab office, the other was Mr. Mini Cabs himself with a planning officer talking about those big yellow advertisements that adorn Mark Campbell’s premises. Apparently, as many suspected, he did not bother with the niceties of seeking permission for them. A retrospectively application was mentioned; would Bexley council be so understanding of anyone else?

Mark Campbell, it is reported, seemed understandably enthusiastic about his new venture and told the planning officer how widely welcomed his plans are in the village. The planning officer replied along the lines of “You might not say that if you spent your day answering my phone”. I dropped into the Bexley Ex-servicemen’s Club last night and looked at their petition. If I counted correctly there were 50 names on it. Mark Campbell’s application says that there is only one member there who objects. I do hope the Club management remember to send the petition in before the end of next week.

It can now be confirmed that permission for the ‘A’ board has been granted.

 

10 May (Part 1) - Court Report

Bromley Magistrates’ Court is rather better organised than Bexley’s, there is a large comfortable waiting area and the courtroom includes a spacious public gallery with raked padded seats behind a ‘glass’ screen. However when it comes to the conduct of justice it is no different; a totally depressing place. Not because of the charade being played out in the name of justice but the fumbling amateurish nature of it all. Too often the Judge’s questions were answered with “I don’t know ma‘m” or a story which was simply not true. Prosecutor Denise Johnson was utterly pathetic. She did not know the case and her oratory would disgrace a junior school debating society.

The Defence barrister, Rupert Hallowes, could have been more familiar with the case too but he was a man who could think quickly and generally, but not always, analyse the situation accurately and put forward a powerful argument in support of Olly. I formed the impression that if he had met the lamentable Denise Johnson at the trial its result might have been very different.

Councillor Sandra BauerThe hearing got under way at 14:31 in an entirely, Rupert excepted, female staffed court. Judge Julia Newton, who is a woman who looks as though she is perpetually chewing on a wasp, had forgotten the facts of the case and asked Ms. Johnson to remind her. After much paper rustling Johnson read out the case that had been dismissed on 21st December and was so confused that she said the victim was DI Keith Marshall (†). When she was corrected by the Defence we were told that Olly had named councillor Melvin Seymour (which he most certainly had not) and councillor Sandra Bauer’s invention referring to dog faeces was further embellished to become “dog faeces and anything else through his letter box”. Apart from the conjunction and the pronoun every single word of that submission is untruthful. Is it any wonder that Judge Newton always gave the impression that she was wholly against Olly?

The Defence barrister Hallowes wasn’t blameless. He reminded the Judge that Olly had blogged on Bexley-is-Bonkers, “a grossly offensive and menacing” anti-Bexley council blog “run by Malcolm Knight” but redeemed himself slightly by implying that he is the blogger who “several councillors who did not want to be named” were most upset by. Probably he got that bit right.

Hallowes then put forward a host of mitigating factors before sentencing which was comprehensive and compelling. The Judge was reminded that if it was not for the intervention of councillor Sandra Bauer, Seymour could not possibly have been offended. There was no incitement to visit his property. Olly had offered to apologise to Seymour for his misjudged Tweet but the police told him not to. Hallowes also demolished the Defence proposal that a curfew might be imposed on Olly as part of his punishment, an entirely inappropriate sanction he successfully argued. He also argued that the restraining order referring to the whole of Bexley council and its employees was far too draconian. Olly was not guilty of anything beyond upsetting Seymour and Hallowes put a copy of his own proposal before the Judge who accepted it without further comment.

Ian ClementAdditional to the order preventing contact with councillor Seymour for five years, Olly was ordered to perform 80 hours of Community Service over the next twelve months and pay the prosecution costs of £620.

The Defence then counter-claimed for £2,046.26 for the false harassment charges and councillor Philip Read’s false allegation of broken bail conditions. The Judge allowed costs up to and including the 21st December 2011 to be paid from the public purse. The precise amount wasn’t made clear but there were indications that it might be in the region of £1,400.

Olly is to appeal against the verdict.

The hearing ended just after 15:30. An unidentified female taking copious notes and sitting alone in the public gallery is assumed to be another of Seymour’s family. Apart from her and two policemen from Bexleyheath the observers numbered only three. One has put her account of proceedings on-line.

† DI Keith Marshall is the Bexleyheath policeman who is on record with the Independent Police Complaints Commission as stating that no offences have been committed on Bexley-is-Bonkers.

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 May (Part 6) - Welcome to new readers

Bexley council's obscenitiesOne of the reporters in Bromley Magistrates’ Court this afternoon was from the Press Association and her report has already appeared in several regional and provincial newspapers. Unfortunately while the reports may be accurate the facts are wrong. John Kerlen (aka Olly Cromwell) has never blogged here as the District Judge was told yet again, nor will you find anything here that is grossly offensive as was stated in court. However if the court’s incompetence brings you here who am I to complain? It provides a golden opportunity to bring to your attention the very corrupt Bexley council.

If you have already read the Home page may I introduce you to the obscenities with which Bexley council indulges itself? For things ‘grossly offensive’ they can leave Olly Cromwell in the shade. Click this link and enter user name ‘teresaandwill’ followed by password ‘mustknow’. Without the quotes obviously. Don’t do it if you might be upset by rude words, Bexley council’s rude words, not mine.

 

9 May (Part 5) - Olly Cromwell. Result summary

• 80 hours Community Service.
• £620 costs awarded against him.
• Restraining order considerably watered down.


Olly was awarded his own costs for the harassment proceedings up until the 21st December 2011 when he was pronounced Not Guilty. The amount will exceed £620 and come from public funds. Thank Bexley council for that raid on your wallet. The full text of the restraining order is not yet available to me but it is restricted to the so called victim, councillor Melvin Seymour. Olly can I believe blog about other councillors, indeed he has been making comments on Twitter already. It will be interesting to see if he has anything to say about councillor Sandra Bauer on whose lie or misunderstanding the case was based.

Detailed reports will no doubt begin to appear by tomorrow, unfortunately I have other Bonkers’ commitments this evening. All I can offer at present is a link to Olly’s solicitor.

 

9 May (Part 4) - Town take over

Bexley Barbers Cafe Blanco Trip AdviserIf you check out Bexley Barbers on CompanyCheck it will tell you it is owned by Mark Campbell and his partner Dymphna Byrne but two sources tell me otherwise. One by phone and one a Trip Advisor posting - see image

However straight from Ms. Byrne’s Facebook page comes news that she owns the new cafe in Bexley.

Questions have been asked about the licence issued for ‘A’ boards at Bexley Cabs - for a business which Bexley council does not yet recognise. The company name is not absolutely correct and so far no one at Bexley council is owning up to issuing it. Maybe its date is significant.

 

9 May (Part 3) - Feel the (electromagnetic) force

Bexleyheath fire stationI don’t use a mobile telephone so it is not a subject I think about very much; all I know is that they pump out high frequency radio waves not unlike those that can cook your dinner. Councillor John Waters is on record as saying that mobile telephones are more like vacuum cleaners than microwave ovens. It sounds like he has already cooked his grey matter.

There is no getting away from high frequency radio waves, they are everywhere. You may well be reading this courtesy of WiFi, another load of electromagnetic radiation what we can’t do without any more.

Another bit of modern technology that passes me by is Facebook but I am told that the two have been brought together by someone concerned about Bexley council’s acceptance of phone masts. If that is an issue that concerns you too, then you may wish to keep an eye on https://www.facebook.com/PhoneMastsCauseCancer. It says that Bexley council is in the pockets of the phone companies. You will have to make up your own minds on that one.

 

9 May (Part 2) - Two Faced

Bexley Cabs on Face Book Bexley Cabs on Face BookBexley Cabs has used Facebook to thank local businesses for their support; so far I have heard of none. If any business would like to get in touch I would love to balance all the negativity that I have heard so far.

One might wonder what mistakes the planning officer has made.

 

9 May (Part 1) - Grossly offensive judgment

Olly Cromwell is due to be sentenced at 13:30 today at Bromley Magistrates’ Court for Tweeting a rude word. Arrangements have been made to update the blog from a computer close to the courtroom. Probably not as quickly as Twitter will carry the news but at least there won’t be any 140 character limitation.

 

8 May - Cabinet cabs

'A' board permissionIf the amount of information coming from the centre of Bexley village is anything to go by the licensees and shop owners there are getting more than a little agitated about the appearance of a new cab office owned by the son of deputy council leader Colin Campbell. According to one of them every single publican has met to discuss the matter and they are unanimous in their opposition. I know that the Ex-Serviceman’s club is against it because I have been there and spoken to them. I am sure that the police are against it because one of the Bonkers team phoned to ask the opinion of a senior officer and I know that the long established village cab operator has concerns about the source of Bexley Cabs’ drivers because he phoned to tell me.

Naturally the Campbell’s planning application reflects none of that; it says other local businesses have offered “strong support”.

It goes on to claim the new business is supported by the police and that females are afraid to go to the existing cab office because it is situated on the railway station approach.

The management of the adjacent Bar Lorca and the nearby Kings Head are said to be behind the project because there are currently problems with Bexley’s cab facilities. Precisely the opposite of what my village contact was told when he went to speak to them.

Not being familiar with Bexley nightlife myself I can only sit on the sidelines and report what is being emailed and phoned into me, but I can say that it has been 100% negative towards Bexley Cabs and people are contacting other councillors and their MP and signing petitions.

Meanwhile the grapevine says the cab office will open for business next Thursday. At the time of writing no planning permission has been granted.

A short distance further along the street a new cafe has opened. No planning permission required. Another Clan Campbell venture.

 

7 May - Bexley. Twinned with Barnet?

I take a look at the Barnet-Eye blog three or four times each week. In a very different style to Bonkers it provides the low-down on a Conservative administration running amok. Not that Barnet is as undemocratic as Bexley, it allows filming in the council chamber and it hasn’t yet reported bloggers to the police for “criticising councillors” though it did employ lawyers in an unsuccessful attempt to convince the Information Commissioner that blogging offended against the Data Protection Act. It also scores twice as highly as Bexley in its treatment of questions to the council but it also ignores petitions, albeit of only 290 signatures rather than Elwyn Bryant’s 2,219. It is similar in another respect too…

It introduced telephone payment for parking with no alternative. Unlike Bexley where charges crept up from 20 or 30 pence to its present norm of a pound an hour over several years, in Barnet they thought it was sensible to make the jump in one go - with predictable results. Shops in Barnet were hit hard in the cash till and their owners protested loudly.

The Leader of Barnet Council is Brian Coleman, a man unafraid to insult the Jews in an area where that religion flourishes and to call his fellow councillors odious toads - See video. Brian Coleman, like our own council leader Teresa O’Neill is a close associate of Mayor Boris Johnson. He is Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and a member of the Greater London Assembly. But not any more, he was the biggest loser in the last Thursday’s elections for Assembly Member and thankfully deprived of his £53,000 a year.

The bloggers of Barnet have been very high profile, they make no secret of their support for the Labour Party which helps them get coverage in the Guardian newspaper but they have worked hard organising street protests and making publicity videos and now they have succeeded in bringing down a politician who trampled all over the wishes of the local population. Brian Coleman lost 10% of his vote in a constituency that pushed up the vote for Boris Johnson by 17%. Apathy does not always rule the roost.

 

6 May - Hoist by their own petards

Halfway Street, SidcupCouncils would have you believe that their mobile CCTV cars can park where they like when trying to catch motorists parking where they shouldn’t but it is, like too much of what councils say, not true. There are exemptions for emergency vehicles but not for council spy cars.

On 22nd December last year a motorist was caught on CCTV stopped at the bus stop in Halfway Street in Sidcup. Bexley dated their appeal rejection a month early which in theory stole the motorist’s 28 days in which he could appeal to the Parking Appeals Service. Fortunately the Adjudicator wasn’t going to stand for that but more importantly he noted that “The CEO’s own vehicle appears to be stopped at the same location” and went on to say “It would therefore offend the rules of natural justice for the enforcement authority to continue enforcing this penalty charge notice”. He also ruled that the wrongly dated notice was “a procedural impropriety”. Link to PATAS adjudication.

Note: The PATAS site appears to be having technical problems this weekend. If the link claims to be busy try their Home page and select Parking and Search. Then input the number 2120136111 into the Case Reference box and hit the Search button.


Would-be mayor Alan DowningBexley council may be making a habit of encouraging good behaviour while misbehaving themselves. On 17th May the Central Library is hosting a ‘Deaf Awareness’ course including “a brief explanation of the Disability Discrimination Act”. Perhaps councillor Alan Downing, who I am informed is to become mayor within the next two weeks, will be asked to attend following his refusal to activate the hearing loop system and his comment of “if you can’t [hear] you must have personal problems” at the Crime and Disorder Committee Meeting.

Although the council itself apologised for its divergence from the Equalities Act the councillors appear to be loathe to accept responsibility. The Standards Committee met to consider the mayor elect’s disdain for disabilities almost two weeks ago, not a word has been heard about their decision. Making up an appropriate excuse must be even more difficult than usual.

 

5 May (Part 2) - Bonkers’ RSS feed

RSS LogoA couple of weeks ago I rashly suggested that I might provide Bonkers with an RSS feed, and now it is done. At its simplest level level it will mean that the RSS icon on your web browser will come alive. It is there by default in Internet Explorer but other browsers may require it to be activated. Chrome is well behind the times and requires a plug-in and may not show the time and date. However if you run a proper RSS aggregator and you add Bonkers to the list of subscribed sites you will be notified whenever Bonkers is updated. Windows Vista and Windows 7 users have a simple RSS reader in the list of Desktop Gadgets. It will put an end to all those repeat visits just to see if there is something new. Damn! The web hits figure is going to fall.

Click icon to display the feed in this browser.

 

5 May (Part 1) - Hidden in the Accounts

Yellow linesProviding a cycle track alongside yellow lines as if cyclists are not supposed to ride over them may seem stupid but it is the sort of thing which all road users in Bexley will have become used to; but what if the council’s control of the purse stings was every bit as bad? Maybe that is why Bexley has fallen from third lowest tax among London boroughs to 24th in the time I have lived in the borough - 25 years next Monday, I won’t be celebrating.

Unfortunately trawling through the accounts is intrinsically boring but occasionally a few simple facts will shine through. Sometimes it isn’t even necessary to go through the accounts, things can accidentally jump out during council meetings. Take the Finance Committee meeting last March for example. Maureen Holkham (Deputy Director, Corporate Policy & Communications) said it was costing Bexley council £53 an hour to answer Freedom of Information requests. At a time when the council is trying to save £35 million over three years that is surprising for in the equivalent meeting a year before a figure of £40 an hour was announced. Either way it was well above government guidelines for FOIs and a 33% cost increase in the past year won't help reach that £35 million target. So where is the money being saved?

The accounts show what is to be spent this year against last in each Directorate. Nothing much changes in the realms of Adult Services or Children’s Services. Environment is static too; so the money must be coming from somewhere else. Like from you and me perhaps. Education takes a 23·46% hit. Community Safety gets knocked back by 25·3% and Leisure by 6·6%. (3·9m., 0·7m. and 0·8m. pounds respectively). However there is one Directorate that gets a useful boost; expenditure on Corporate Services goes up by 9·5%. Yes that is right; they are going to spend another £1·2 million on themselves. Tuckley’s quarter million salary package is safe.

 

4 May (Part 3) - Councillors should have thicker skins

The High Court says so…
High Court ruling
Mr. Justice Beatson ruled that not allowing, dare one call it ‘criticism of councillors on a personal level’, was a “disproportionate interference of rights enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights”.

Click image for BBC report.

 

4 May (Part 2) - The mental torture continues

John Waring Guy Atkins Car port goneThe Royal Mail may charge you sixty pence to deliver a letter these days but Bexley council can spend much more of your money on postmen than that. Two council henchman turned up in person on Mrs. Grootendorst’s doorstep yesterday to deliver yet another letter. It is both good news and bad news. The idiots have realised that demanding a reduction in the height of a sixteen year old car port that has disappeared beneath the new building extension work was exactly the sort of sheer stupidity that one has come to expect from Bexley council - so they have withdrawn their earlier threat.

Letter dated 3rd May 2012However Bexley council does not intend to give Mrs. Grootendorst a moment’s peace. This is the complete text of their letter dated yesterday. The signatory, Mr. Guy Atkins, Bexley’s Senior Litigation Solicitor, pictured above (centre) says that he will be back to pursue his obsession further as soon as he can.

Rear garden Car port area Garden shedsBexley council’s vendetta against the Grootendorsts, their wildlife garden and their collection of sheds is summarised here.

 

4 May (Part 1) - Bellegrove Road - close to completion - Click image for Photo Diary Week 14 (7 images)

Bellegrove RoadBexley’s latest accident waiting to happen has been resurfaced and painted and the last set of photographs are now available to view.

You may need to be reminded that this series of 89 photographs were taken by a photographer who wishes to remain anonymous. Bexley council’s reputation for attacking residents who criticise it is widespread. His final set was accompanied by these words…

The legacy of this estimated £220,000 project is:- Residents now use the pavement to reverse into the road because the traffic islands, moved closer to their drives, makes it impossible to do anything else. For safety reasons visitors have now been seen parking with all four wheels on the pavement. Traffic speeds has not been reduced and the road now has dangerous width restrictions.

 

3 May (Part 3) - Not Strictly Legal

Bexley CCTV carBexley council collects about £2.3m. a year in parking fines but how much of that is from CCTV activity is hard to discover. The council’s website isn’t exactly transparent; a search for Parking Accounts was not helpful. However all the indications are that the actual number of CCTV generated PCNs has been in the region of 200 a week, but this year something seems to have gone seriously wrong.

In the first 12 weeks of the year to March 23rd the total was only 1,155. Closer examination of the numbers shows that in week 5 (beginning 4th February) the number fell to 134 and then the number dropped even more alarmingly. Zero, 12, 15, 21, 13 and 8 for the following six weeks, nearly all for school zig-zag offences. Sixty nine in six weeks; 1,086 in the previous six. Something is definitely amiss.

In February and March Notomob members reported the spy cars garaged with their cameras covered and staff refusing to discuss the matter. They asked that I did not report it here but when readers more generally began to notice I mentioned the phenomenon.

It is almost certainly a certification issue, Bexley council and their NSL partners don’t give up a source of easy money that readily. Parking Manager Tina Brooks has assured councillors that all is well (see the correspondence with councillor John Davey) but she knows full well that Bexley’s certificate is unlike any other. It’s a worthless piece of paper and the Notomob people made an official complaint to the Audit Commission about the dubious legality of levying fines following use of recording equipment for which no one can produce a valid certificate. The Commission is still deliberating.

Now that Bexley may have resumed normal operations be very very careful. If figures provided by less secretive councils are typical, Bexley will be paying around £8,000 a week for their four cars so six weeks virtually out of action will represent a big loss. They will be on a mission to recoup that revenue and justice is unlikely to be uppermost in their mind.

With acknowledgements to Notomob and their FOI for the 2012 PCN figures.
Note: When further broken down into days the figures don’t quite add up - they did come from Bexley council after all - but the discrepancies are no more than one or two here and there.

 

3 May (Part 2) - Review of the papers

Planning applicationSomeone told me yesterday that I should give a bit more time to reporting what has been in the local press. “Why?” I asked. “Because I never see a copy” came the reply. “Neither do I” chipped in another voice. Well, let me make two people happy then.

Jim Palmer, the Shopper’s reporter, seems to be a stickler for accuracy. His report on Olly Cromwell’s trial was one of the few to have been wholly accurate; it no doubt helps to be at the event rather than be forced to regurgitate hearsay as most of the media did. Now he proves his mettle again on Page 7 by headlining Will Tuckley being sixth highest paid council official in the country. For doing not a lot according to the Lesnes ward councillors. Well practically everything is contracted out so that much is obvious.

A [Bexley council] spokesman said “The salaries … reflect the significant scale and responsibility of the roles and the competitive market for candidates of the calibre required to lead a successful council”. Successful? Not at managing the news agenda, that is for sure. Nearly everything you read on this site is a Bexley council own goal. They didn’t have to clamp down on democracy when Eric Pickles asked them to become more transparent. They didn’t have to lie to the police about who was responsible for the innocuous but notorious flaming torches blog, they didn’t have to organise a cover-up and deny that the police investigated their own blogging activities and they didn’t have to search their rule book to find one that they could dishonestly use against 2,219 residents who asked them to debate Bexley’s extraordinarily high salaries.

Another of Jim Palmer’s reports appears on Page 11. Some flesh has been put on the story featured here a month ago. Because pay-by-phone parking is so unpopular - only about 3·5% of Bexley’s cars have registered for it - and traders have seen their takings plummet up to 40%, a trial allowing payment in local shops has been launched. Not really shops as it happens, just one restaurant, because no one else could be bothered and even the restaurant owner has said “I don’t think it is going to work”. It won’t work when he is shut that is for sure.

Apparently you will be given ten minutes of grace time in which to buy a ticket. Here’s a prediction… Before too long someone will be fined because he had to queue for a ticket and the road was busy and it took a while to get across and by the time he got back he was 30 seconds late. Jim Palmer will write a story about it and any confidence there might have been in the system will instantly evaporate.

Extract from Company Check webpageYou have to go to Page 83 of the Shopper to find more interesting council news and this time it is Susan M. Clark (Head of Development Control) who claims the byline. The Legal & Public Notices confirm the Planning Application for Bexley Cabs. The applicant is said to be Ms. Dymphna Byrne, who the electoral roll reveals lives with Mr. Mark Campbell, who just happens to be, according to the General Register Office, the son of deputy council leader Colin Campbell, and according to various on-line documentation is the owner of Bexley Cabs, not Ms. Byrne who lives at the same Tenterden address as Mr. Campbell.

Is it a deliberate attempt at deception? Lots of people think so.

Click the image for the complete company information.

Another item on Page 83 is Brampton Road. Not much more than a month after it opened following a three month closure it is due to close again (in a southerly direction), possibly from today, for another four weeks. It’s another Bexley council success story master minded by men of the highest calibre. Nobody does it better.

 

3 May (Part 1) - Dirty tricks

Speed camera sign upside downYou may have seen signs like this strapped to lamp posts, very often upside down like this one and too often facing the road. Nearby you might find a Bexley council camera car; on the other hand you may not unless you search the side streets thoroughly.

These signs, or so I thought, have a tendency to blow around in the wind to face the road so that approaching motorists can’t see them. However it may not be the wind after all.

Yesterday morning the car driver fixed the sign in position, then after ensuring it was secure, carefully twisted it around to ensure it was facing the middle of the road. Is it official policy?

 

2 May (Part 2) - Election day tomorrow

Letter to JohnsonI hope this website is not perceived as party political; I have made no secret of voting Conservative in the past but I have not voted for any party this millennium, I always finish up voting against someone. For tomorrow I have still not made up my mind which pretty much precludes trying to influence anyone else.

Boris Johnson has sent me at least three personally addressed letters and postcards (plus two surveys) and I had one from Mr. Livingstone who apparently doesn’t know my name, but there has been nothing from any other candidate.

Last time there was a Mayoral election a couple of Conservative canvassers knocked on my door and I reminded them that when the idea of a mayor for London was first mooted, a leaflet said it would only cost us fourpence a week each. I was told my memory was faulty, apparently it was only threepence a week. Now Johnson speaks of saving us 445 pounds in four years which is an awful lot of threepences that must have been spent.

Where Johnson blotted his copybook for me is his failure to do anything to solve the cross Thames traffic problem and his initial refusal to do anything about the former Bexley council leader who was on the fiddle under his very nose. It took a letter from Mick Barnbrook to shake him out of his complacency.

And where Ken Livingstone blotted his copybook for me is… oh, forget it I haven’t got all night!

Maybe I should vote UKIP for Mayor in the hope of getting away from nonsenses like having to make changes to this website to satisfy yet another idiotic law.

Is ‘Fresh Choice for London' in the Assembly Member election UKIP or not? Why are they confusing the issue; is everyone afraid to use a four letter word (acronym) now? I was planning on giving the Yellow voting form a miss. James Cleverly comes across as an idiot to me; maybe I am influenced by him saying that this website is “well out of order”. I’d like to think he muddled me up with someone else, but if he did that makes him an idiot too.

PS. Isn’t it a bit naughty of councillor June Slaughter to have her strongly pro-Johnson letter in today’s News Shopper without revealing she is a Conservative councillor? Maybe the NS slipped up, but they didn’t with the pro-Liberal candidate letter.

Note: If you think this blog has appeared rather erratically in the last week or so you would be right. I took on a DIY job which should have taken two days, three at the most, and it took ten. Far too many snags encountered along the way. I also discovered that Belvedere’s B&Q is far more expensive than independent shops. £1.69 for a 60mm M8 bolt? They must be joking.

When the material is available I shall resume the practice of trying to get it on line by 09:30.

 

2 May (Part 1) - Imitation is…

The sincerest form of flattery so it is said but it is also potentially dangerous. A phone call this morning asked what I wanted done with my petition against Bexley Cabs. I knew nothing of it and neither did anyone from the Bexley Council Monitoring Group. Maybe it just refers to this website in a confusing manner. I never get directly involved in questions, Freedom of Information requests, complaints and petitions, it is simpler just to report them. Having said that, and denied involvement in any petition that may - or may not - claim endorsement, the planning application from Bexley Cabs is very peculiar and some reports are in conflict.

FacebookSome say that the premises have been a cab office before but someone who has known the area for nearly 60 years swears otherwise. The owners are alleged to be saying that the police and local publicans are all for it, but others naming a real policeman and a real publican tell a different story. Where things are beyond doubt is that someone jumped the gun in the expectation of planning permission being a a certainty. Money was spent on equipping the office in February and March, There is a Facebook page devoted to progress. Adverts were placed for staff, you can still find them in Google’s cache.


Job advertWho in their right mind puts in the equipment to run a cab office, gets BT to install a phone line and begins the recruitment process for staff without an assurance that the planning application is to be nodded through? On the other hand the parking situation is not yet resolved and the proprietor has left a trail of failed companies, so maybe he is just not very clever.

 

1 May (Part 3) - Minor updates


Obscene blog
The Detective Sergeant dealing with this matter phoned to say very little. He is always polite and friendly and says he is still accepting advice from the Crown Prosecution Service and assures me that things are going well. Only a cynic will think that the case is on hold because it would be rather unfortunate for council leader Teresa O’Neill to be caught up in a scandal immediately before her good friend stands for another go at being Mayor of London.

Abbey Road flooding

Abbey Road floodThe problem was far worse at 7 a.m. this morning; people living on the south side of the road couldn’t leave their houses without waders or a boat. The water covered the road and the southern footpath. Soon after 9 a.m. a sucker from Bexley council - perhaps I should have rephrased that - was busy pumping the water into its tank and the situation was much improved. Well done whoever sorted that out, but something more permanent is required. It really has been flood hazard for a quarter of a century.

Note: This picture was taken last Sunday and does not show the full extent of today’s footway flooding.


The May blog

I switched www.bexley-is-bonkers.info to May at around 10 p.m. last night and tested it. As usual some browsers picked it up straight away, others needed their History or Temporary Files deleted. I warned about that in yesterday’s blog. Also as usual I received complaints (three so far) that it is still routing to April.

The way it works is very simple for me to implement, it uses something called a 301 Redirect. Viz.
Redirect 301 /landing.php http://www.bexley-is-bonkers.co.uk/blogs/2012/may.php

The .info domain always routes to www.bexley-is-bonkers.co.uk/landing.shtml - a page that doesn’t actually exist. The ‘301’ Redirection is a small file that sits on the web server waiting to intercept requests for the ‘landing’ page. All I do is change the month in it. There are several ways to achieve the same result. Next month I’ll try a different one, a bit more work for me but maybe it will avoid the problem with browsers showing cached pages rather than the new one.

Note: The site restructuring of 23rd November 2012 outdates the above comments. in February 2015 blog pages adopted a .php suffix.

 

1 May (Part 2) - Please don’t all laugh at once

Hague promies 1.5 millionNot in the UK of course, it is for spending overseas where people are reported to the police for writing things their politicians don’t like.

Click image for BBC report.

 

1 May (Part 1) - Filiblustering

Council leader Teresa O’Neill spoke for 15 minutes at the last council meeting in order to avoid answering awkward questions, yet again stifling democracy in any way that she can. Three people were unable to hear their question answered after jumping through the several hoops designed to deter them from placing it - having their address put on line by the council etc.

So someone from the Bexley Council Monitoring Group wrote to ask if the council would consider steps to prevent a recurrence. I know none of you would expect a rotten council like Bexley to give the question serious thought and I can see you all now waiting for me to confirm your prediction of a resounding “No”. But you would be wrong.

Bexley council can do far better than that, they refused to accept the question. It is not “within the remit of Members”. They did however concede that a question of “general conduct” might be raised. You can bet your life there will be a complaint about that too; and if you like betting on certainties, you can bet the complaint will be rejected.

 

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