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Bonkers Blog October 2012

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31 October - The real end of the month round up

I admit it; I have been away for a few days and recent blogs have arrived courtesy of a volunteer from Welling. Upon my return I found a number of things to catch up with.

South London Healthcare Trust
As already stated the PFI disaster at Woolwich and Bromley hospitals is not really within the Bonkers remit and I couldn’t compete with the local newspaper coverage anyway. However my MP has said “Given the circumstances for the people in my constituency it’s quite a good result” which seems quite encouraging, not that I would ever go to Queen Mary’s by choice. My two brushes with their so called healthcare I considered to be abuse, but I accept that without that hospital, Bexley people would be in an even more dire situation.

The full set of proposals is available as a pdf file or just a summary if you prefer.

Slade Green Wind Turbine
Some answers have come from Bexley council about the consultation exercise.


Q. Please supply [under FOI] a list of all addresses/roads where consultation documents were distributed to local residents.
A. None were sent.
Q. Please supply the dates on which consultation documents were sent to local residents.
A. None were sent.
Q. Please supply a breakdown of all approvals/objections received by Bexley council.
A. There were none.
Q. Please supply a copy of the explanatory note that was sent to enquiring councillor(s).
A. No such document was produced.


Given that I have briefly seen that document and heard sections of it read out, the final answer has been rejected. The first three amply demonstrate the contempt with which Bexley council treats its residents.

Councillor Craske and the obscene blog
As reported in today’s News Shopper councillor Peter Craske is no longer on police bail for what is widely assumed to be the obscenities posted on the web by Bexley council or its associates in my name. According to the police, nothing has changed, he or whoever it is remains just as much a suspect as always. This is what they have said to me…


Further to my recent correspondence with you I write to inform you that the person whom police had arrested in respect to the allegations you made to police on 8th June 2011 has been informed that at this time police are 'not proceeding' with any charges against them and that accordingly they have been released from Police bail.

The option to 'not proceed' is used by police where persons have been on police bail for some time and the restriction placed upon that person by being on police bail is no longer required. I need to be clear that this does not mean that the person concerned is no longer under suspicion nor that police have concluded the investigation. The investigation into the allegations made by you are continuing, particularly the analysis of the computer and communication devices, and should further evidence be obtained which requires with the arrest [sic] or further interview under caution of that person then police will do so. The investigating officer will continue to update you as the investigation progresses.


I no longer believe anything said by a Bexleyheath police officer. It is two weeks since more obscenities were successfully traced to a business name which is very closely associated with councillor Craske, quite some coincidence you might think, but in those two weeks Bexley police have made no attempt to see that evidence for themselves or check it out with those who traced it for me. They are uninterested, negligent and almost certainly corrupt.

I can use that term about Bexley police with some confidence because one of my long term correspondents has just successfully sued Bexley police for exactly that. A Judge said Bexley police’s documents were “wholly inaccurate” and “show quite clearly a version of events that is different from the conclusions reached by the officers at the time.” The police “failed to properly consider the accurate information that was available”.

When thoroughly caught out they refused to accept that the incident that gave rise to the court case ever took place. The Judge ruled against them on every count and their appeal was refused. I know why the police were so reluctant to investigate the case and the reason is not a million miles away from the far too cosy link between themselves and a council that treats them to free lunches. I am hopeful that one day I shall be able to provide a little more detail.

Rita Grootendorst and Bexley council’s unsuccessful prosecution
Rita's gardenSomething I had often noted when visiting Rita’s garden is that it was near impossible to find any place in it with a clear view of a neighbour’s window yet her alleged wrecking of the local amenity by the “ramshackle sheds” and dereliction was a main plank of Bexley council’s argument.

I made another phone call to Rita just before I went away which covered this aspect of Bexley council’s false claim. Under questioning John Waring (Bexley Environmental Health) was forced to admit in Court that he had taken the photograph of Rita’s roof garden after clambering into a neighbour’s roof space, opening a fanlight and sticking his head and camera through the hole. And Rita’s roof garden cannot be all that ramshackle as I’ve seen it support the weight of four people. The more I hear of Bexley council’s humiliation the more I regret muddling my court appointment and consequently failing to be there.


Thames River Crossing
One of several letters on my doormat when I got home was one from Transport for London (TFL) seeking my views on their ideas for a new tunnel and ferry. My own view is that councillor Teresa O’Neill should carry much of the blame for the present isolation of this part of London from the new business and work opportunities around the Isle of Dogs and more recently Stratford.

I confess to a personal interest in Thames Crossing issues because I have to go North regularly to look after an elderly relative but we are to be asked to pay to go by ferry boat which is no advance on what happened in Medieval times except that it won’t be a penny a trip and additionally made to suffer tolls on the Blackwall Tunnel. Surely Conservative leaders whether they be David Cameron or Boris Johnson should know by now that they only have to antagonise committed Conservative voters (that’s me; 100% record since 1964 †) to that extent once and they are lost forever. There is absolutely no reason to come up with a new idiocy every week.

TFL River Crossing consultation.
† Except that a friend stood as a Liberal in a council election in Aldershot circa 1970. Fortunately he failed to get in.

 

29 October - Parking fines. Exposing Bexley’s dishonesty. (Episode 7)

Where did we leave off? “Would the persistent copper be happy with Ms. Brooks’ reply? I suspect you can guess the answer to that one.”

Those who know Bexley council well will know the answer; he didn’t get one. Underling Greg Tippett was dropped in it.

Mr. Tippett admitted in a letter dated 1st March 2010 that the problem would not have arisen if they had checked the location as initially requested. He offered no comment on the assertion that a first complaint only ever initiates a check of the CEO’s report. CEO BL286 had made a false report so Bexley council’s procedure was bound to fail. How often do CEOs make false reports?

Black and white photoThe parking contractor had been penalised said Tippett, mistakenly believing that this might satisfy the disabled policeman, and “had the photographs been scanned in colour then these could have allowed the Authorised Officer to cancel the penalty charge”.

As may be seen, yellow markings show perfectly clearly on a black and white photo and a monochrome flower basket obscures a parking sign just as effectively as a coloured one. One might also reasonably ask why the council’s technological failings should impact adversely on innocent motorists anyway.

Greg Tippett is another Bexley council employee unable to think straight. He rejected outright the contention that the whole procedure was based on “sharp practice” but sensing that the matter wasn’t likely to end there he included a leaflet describing the council’s complaints procedure. It wasn’t long before Director of Customer & Corporate Services, Paul Moore, found a letter on his desk.

Four pages of handwritten A4 covered all the established points and the fact that no one had an answer for CEO BL286’s false claim that all the markings had been inspected and found in order. The ex-policeman went further and defined the legal meaning of the word conspiracy and accused Bexley council of exactly that. For good measure he said the copyright on his photographs had been infringed because Bexley council had scanned them and destroyed the originals. Nine days later there was an answer, not from Mr. Moore of course, no highly paid Bexley official actually does anything himself, the answer came from a minion, albeit a rather senior one, Deputy Director Graham Ward.

Mr. Ward in my limited experience of the man is not well versed in Bexley council trickery. He accepted that the very first response from Bexley council included an untruthful statement. He also graciously accepted that following the victim’s representations “a number of changes have been implemented”. Bearing in mind it was by now March 2010 I would guess that is a reference to the change from Vinci Park to NSL which was taking place at that very moment rather than anything a mere resident had achieved.

Anticipating another long letter Mr. Ward suggested a meeting. Would that or would that not prove to be a strategic mistake?

This story is reported in an indeterminate number of episodes. A cumulative version is provided for convenience.

 

28 October - Don’t buy The Mail on Sunday

Rita’s story isn’t in today’s paper so don’t waste £1.50 if it is not your normal choice. I have no idea why unless it is something to do with an anonymous email received last week which gave a few hints about Bexley council exerting pressure on the press. As you might expect, Rita Grootendorst will be looking for some answers from The Mail which will find their way here eventually.

 

27 October (Part 2) - Retribution and humiliation

John Waring and Diane Blazer Guy ArkinsLast Monday I made the biggest mistake ever in my three years of writing this blog, I went to the wrong court at the wrong time to see Rita Grootendorst defend herself (and husband Pieter) against Bexley council’s vindictive and obsessive attempt to bankrupt a persistent critic. As a result of my inability to report events at first hand Rita is rightly livid with me as I am with myself for missing an opportunity to highlight Bexley council’s lies and dishonest legal case.

Rita hasn’t wanted to talk to me this week but this afternoon I learned a little from her and I am now able to announce that the three council employees pictured here, John Waring, Diane Blazer and Guy Atkins together with their boss, David Bryce-Smith must be among the most incompetent employees on Bexley council’s books. Rita describes their testament as a catalogue of lies and the court’s judgment in her favour would appear to support that opinion.

The case probably fell apart for all sorts of legal reasons too. Having been privileged to be included in the correspondence flowing between Rita’s legal team and Bexley council I was quietly confident that it was fundamentally flawed. I felt Bexley’s 500 pages of evidence was largely useless and some of it confirmed that Rita was being spitefully wronged. Seriously, these people do not deserve to be in a job.

This is probably the tip of an iceberg. Rita tells me that Diane Blazer claimed from the witness box that she had as a professionally qualified Environmental Health Officer been responsible for more than 100 similar actions against residents and Rita’s was probably the worst such case anywhere in the country. Presumably the judge does not like hyperbole for she was persuaded it could be true. Rita was entitled to design an unorthodox garden, construct sheds to her own specification and have a roof garden on one of them. How many of the 100 odd cases prosecuted by Blazer and Waring were similarly vindictive and their victims innocent?

Not being in court I cannot ridicule Bexley council further without risking inaccuracies and you may not be able to read about it in the News Shopper because Rita’s opinion of them is even lower than that of me. Rita is not a woman to be lightly dismissed; council officers with barely a brain cell between them are always likely to come off second best. Maybe they have nobbled the News Shopper as Rita believes (and that would not surprise me if they had tried), so she aims higher. As a result Mail on Sunday reporters and photographers have been on site and their report is expected in tomorrow’s edition.


• My name goes to the Crown Prosecution Service at Bexley council’s direction under CS Dave Stringer’s watch for threatening violence against councillors. Case went nowhere because DI Keith Marshall realises Teresa O’Neill had lied.
• Harassment warning issued against me by the ever obedient Bexleyheath police for “criticising councillors”. Declared to have no validity by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
• John Kerlen prosecuted at the request of Bexley councillors for revealing a councillor’s name and address and conspiring to have dog faeces put through a letter box. All false assertions. Case dismissed by appeal judge after listening to witness whose statement on oath was not supported by the documented evidence.
• Rita Grootendorst suffers a three year attack by Bexley council for daring to be different at enormous cost to her bank balance and health. Judge dismisses Bexley council’s case out of hand.


Do you notice a pattern here? How much is Bexley council spending on silencing critics? And why?

Index to blogs about Rita’s fight with Bexley’s rotten council.

 

27 October (Part 1) - Fuelling rumours

Snow HillKing's GarageYesterday evening an email arrived with a subject line of ‘Dodgy bastard’ which I opened with some trepidation fearing a repeat of the obscenities (which I successfully traced) of last week; but I need not have feared. Someone was confirming my understanding that mayor Alan Downing had been a policeman. It seems he had.

Downing has been in the City of London police force and the Metropolitan at Bexleyheath and elsewhere. In more recent years it was said Downing had been some sort of property developer in Spain which I now remember hearing at his inauguration speech last May. However I do not remember him mentioning his time as a petrol pump attendant at King’s Service Station in Albany Park as one of his former colleagues alleges in his less than subtly titled email.

The other rumour I heard was that councillor Melvin Seymour was an ex-cop too. If that is true it would also explain quite a lot. Something else very dodgy perhaps.

 

26 October (Part 2) - Getting ahead of myself

There are reasons why I think it is unlikely I will find time for more blogging this month so I shall bring on the end of the month review early and try not to mention councillor Peter Craske.


Knee Hill
While descending Knee Hill two days ago and after dark for the first time in a week or two I was amazed to see its entire length illuminated. It makes a huge difference to be able to see the bends and the edge of the road clearly and I thank whoever it was who read the blog and did something about the problem.

I cannot remember when I last saw the Knee Hill street lights switched on, neither can my neighbours. It is a pity that local councillors don’t report these things but I suppose that after a while everyone takes the darkness for granted.

Breaking their silence
Speaking of Bexley council reading the blog, there was an interesting conversation with a Conservative councillor not all that long ago. For the record and the protection of others I must point out that it emphatically did not involve either of those with whom I exchanged a word or two after the recent Public Realm and Cabinet meetings.

The conversation started none too well. “Nearly half the stuff you put on Bonkers is wrong”. “Really?” says I, most of the site just reports what is going on. If it gives opinion there is nearly always supporting evidence by way of documentation or a web link so that readers may make up their own minds. Actually I said almost none of that, I was too preoccupied with the welcome confirmation that more than half of Bonkers is right, to find a suitable response.

If only half of the reports on Bonkers are correct we still have incompetence and dishonesty on a massive scale.

While I was pondering that thought the councillor went on. “Keep it up, you must keep attacking the centre.” Again that is not an absolute quote I was too taken aback to note the precise words.

Bexley Cabs
Those who objected to the opening of the Campbell’s business venture in Bexley village have been asked to resubmit their comments in triplicate to the government inspector as Bexley Cabs have appealed the local rejection of their application.

Will Tuckley’s diary
The refusal of Bexley council to supply a proper copy of the Chief Executive’s diary has met with a sympathetic response from the Information Commissioner. Bexley council’s instructions to their staff insist that all diary entries are made on their electronic system. There really was no excuse for taking longer than the statutory time to come up with something that could be too easily falsified.

The pen jabbing mayor Alan Downing
Alan DowningThe repercussions over councillor Downing’s refusal to ask councillor Craske (sorry) to switch on his microphone at a public meeting rumbles on. The Local Government Ombudsman has said that it is necessary for deaf people to notify the council of their impairment if they wish to have the hearing loop activated. This is not only arrant nonsense, the legislation requires no such thing, but also totally ignores the fact that Alan Downing was notified of the deafness and asked to have the loop switched on half way through the meeting. An interruption that Bexley council’s Standards Board said was designed to provoke a negative reaction.

The blinkered councillor Val Clark never thinks before she makes her judgments. How could a request to switch on the hearing loop be provocative unless the council acknowledges that mayor Downing is a belligerent ill mannered bully ever ready to fly into a rage at the slightest excuse?

Downing acknowledged that request with his infamous retort “you must have personal problems” but he still announced that councillor Craske did not have to turn his microphone on and refused to ask him to do so. Even Craske, to his credit, saw that this was an outrageous piece of chairmanship by councillor Alan Downing and switched on his mic soon afterwards.

As is well known, the Local Government Ombudsman quango is stuffed full of ex-local authority staff keen to absolve their mates from any responsibility for failure. The appeal process is being followed.

I keep hearing rumours that Alan Downing is a retired police officer which might explain a lot. Can anyone confirm that?

 

26 October (Part 1) - Total incompetence? Probably

Bexleyheath police stationFollowing yesterday’s indirect messages from the police about Bexley council’s obscene blog a few more things have come to light. None give any confidence that our local police force is other than totally incompetent although it is possible to imagine a scenario which might make sense of the current situation. Unfortunately the police refuse to comment on that possibility - or anything - so my default position that only fools trust policemen must remain unchanged.

Last March 15th former Borough Commander Dave Stringer said that the case was concluded and had been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service. Now they say it is yet to go there. Does that mean that recent developments have effectively made it a new case or do we have muddle and deceit?

The number of suspects has sometimes been one but more recently a vague and undefined figure. Are we being deliberately misled by the police or are they unsure?

Bexley council’s obscene blog referred to Elwyn and myself as homosexuals ‘caught in the act’ in the Civic Offices. Back in June 2011 the police wrongly assumed that we were a couple who lived together. His wife was not happy about their mistake. Yesterday they sent a jointly addressed message only to Elwyn’s address. Perhaps that explains why in recent weeks only Elwyn has been on the receiving end of police messages. Is it an indication of how well they understand the case after spending 17 months on it?

The investigation has been transferred to yet another police officer, the fourth that I know of this year. Unfortunately it is the same officer who led the malicious prosecution of John Kerlen. A policeman with a predisposition to accept statements from Bexley councillors without question. He did not to my knowledge make any false statements in Court but he was content to see others do so without making any effort to correct them.

The police said yesterday that relieving their suspect of his/her bail conditions changes things not one jot. Their suspicions remain and their investigation continues - but not very fast. They have still not accepted the new evidence discovered more than a week ago.

If the News Shopper reports next week that councillor Peter Craske has been relieved of his bail conditions I will be inclined to stop pussy-footing around on who is suspected of posting Bexley council’s obscene blog.

 

25 October - Totally confused

I have seen two messages from Bexleyheath police today. One said that I must not say any more about their obscene blog enquiry and the other one said whoever it was who had been arrested and put on bail was no longer subject to those conditions.

Neither of the messages were sent to me, the last time Bexley police voluntarily provided me with any information about this case was in June.

 

24 October (Part 2) - TIC - Totally Illegal Conspiracy

Blue FeathersTICHuge loans, huge losses, straying post, vanishing money, paedophilia, unfair dismissal, inaccurate statements under oath; it can only mean one place, the Thames Innovation Centre.

This time it has hit the headlines following a raid by the UK Border Agency which resulted in five arrests. Security guards under a Bexley council roof who have no SIA (Security Industry Authority) licence and criminal behaviour on council property, it’s getting to be a habit.

News Shopper’s report.

 

24 October (Part 1) - Misconductors in Public Office

Teresa O'Neill and Peter CraskeCouncil leader Teresa O’Neill and councillor Peter Craske adopt their ‘Up yours’ pose which so neatly sums their view of the electorate and their joint ambition to cover up crime.

Last February Bexley police undertook to update me monthly on the state of their investigation into Bexley council’s obscene blog but at the beginning of September they did so only because I pestered them a little and in October I have not bothered to ask. Met. Police guidance on hate crime is all one might wish for; victims must be treated sympathetically but all I got last month was “I do not intend to reveal any details of what enquiries we are conducting”. It can’t be long now before another formal complaint is made.

A few days ago I told the police about my own internet trace which led to an address which Peter Craske knows very well indeed. I was unable to send the full evidence by email because the language was too extreme to pass through the police mail filter but I made the police aware of its existence. Have they jumped to attention and asked me anything about it or made any attempt to see it? No they have not. Only once has Borough Commander Olisa shown any interest in this case; he told Elwyn Bryant that he was showing impatience by complaining about the time it has taken to achieve not a lot. Currently very nearly 17 months.

I don’t believe that Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa has a clue about Bexley council’s criminal history or how Teresa O’Neill and Will Tuckley attempted to pervert the course of justice with their lies about John Kerlen and myself. The IPCC upheld the complaint against Bexley police for taking the word of two liars at face value and without investigation but that was before Olisa’s arrival on the scene. He shows no sign of being any better than his two predecessors and I do have evidence for that statement. The time has come to see what Chief Inspector Victor Olisa is made of.

Yesterday’s News Shopper’s report. The police tell them more than they do the crime victims.

 

23 October - Parking fines. Exposing Bexley’s dishonesty. (Episode 6)

After three years of reporting on Bexley council it becomes very easy to discredit their statements because they so often contradict themselves or repeat old mistakes, all I have to do is remember where I filed the original note!

The disabled ex-policeman given a parking ticket for no good reason was finding the same after as many months and on 9th February 2010 wrote to Parking Manager Tina Brooks as follows…


In a letter to Mr. Tippett dated 17 December 2009 I accused CEO BL286 of being ignorant of Parking Control Regulations. I withdraw that accusation unreservedly. Since then I have discovered that all CEOs are trained and schooled in all aspects of parking Control Regulations as applied by Bexley Parking Services and their contractors. So it would appear that CEO BL286 was fully aware that chevrons and signs outside KFC and other sites on Bexleyheath Broadway did not comply with said regulations. He was therefore abusing his authority and powers when he handed me the PCN.

He also had your website to guide him which states “the contravention did not occur where the restrictions are not clearly marked and signed”.


The letter went on in similar knot tying vein for four handwritten A4 pages. It covered the CEO's failure to honour his promise to note the signage problem on his report and the FOI which had revealed that he certified the signs were all present and correct instead.

Ms. Brooks was reminded that the CEO's evidence photograph cunningly hid the signage problem by allowing a parked car to obscure it and it took five weeks, two letters, seven phone calls and a complaint to the Chief Executive to squeeze any sort of excuse for their behaviour from Bexley council. The nonsense about scanning colour photos in black and white was righty ridiculed as was the lie dated 16 October that the chevrons would be repainted. More than three months later they still had not been and in all probability more innocent motorists were prosecuted.


You and I both know that under the circumstances that prevailed at the time I should never have been issued with a PCN. As Manager of the dubious department I hope you will answer my points and questions honestly and without waffle. Please let me know what you intend to do about my allegations.


Would the persistent copper be happy with Ms. Brooks’ reply? I suspect you can guess the answer to that one.

This story is reported in an indeterminate number of episodes. A cumulative version is provided for convenience.

 

22 October (Part 3) - One down…

So the police do sometimes charge councillors. Those who watch Barnet council make asses of themselves (in a very different way to Bexley) may be interested in what has been going on up there today. Brian Coleman their former leader and erstwhile GLA member is to appear in court on 5th November. Read the newspaper report.

 

22 October (Part 2) - Senior moments

I rearranged my timetable to allow a trip to Bexley Magistrates Court this morning, the occasion being Rita Grootendorst’s appeal against Bexley council’s charges that her garden sheds aren’t like anyone else’s but I made a big mistake. The case was being heard in Bromley and by the time I confirmed that and public transport between Bexley and Bromley being what it is I felt it was impractical to go there.

This is a huge disappointment (and it is all my fault) as I was looking forward to quoting some more untruths emanating from council lips. One of the scheduled witnesses, Ms. Blazer, told me nothing but lies when we last met. Worse is that my phone is going to glow red hot later today when the principal lady tells me exactly what she thinks of me. If there is no blog tomorrow it will be because she has murdered me; either that or councillor Peter Craske has taken out another contract.

 

22 October (Part 1) - The Cisco kids

Peter CraskeNews Shopper reportMany readers assume that councillor Peter Craske is Bexley council’s obscene blogger, it’s easy enough to jump to that conclusion. The News Shopper’s “A 42 year old from Sidcup has been arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office” looks like one hell of a coincidence alongside the police statement that there was an arrest that same day in connection with the obscene blog. But the police won’t confirm anything else, indeed they very strongly implied last June that it wasn’t Craske they’d arrested.

So while I have seen comments on Twitter to the effect that Craske is the offender I have meticulously avoided saying so. I think I am now close to being able to change that position.

Occasionally I’m told I know a lot about computers but only by people who know nothing about them; compared to real experts I am a computer ignoramus. Fortunately I know some real experts and they have been beavering away in the background pursuing what clues I could offer and examining logs on Cisco machines deep inside the internet. It’s taken quite a while, some painstaking hard work and a bit of ingenuity but they made a breakthrough, and now I suppose you are expecting me to tell you that they found councillor Peter Craske squatting on an illegally obtained crock of gold at the end of the rainbow that was followed.

Well not quite, but it was a very near miss. The internet hunt for the source of the foul mouthed one led to a street address with which councillor Peter Harold Craske is associated. It could be one of his crooked mates who is guilty but of all the millions of places the chase could have led to it was one with Craske’s fingerprints all over it. Now that is a very big coincidence don’t you think?

Hate Crime leafletI don’t know what the police found when they were eventually persuaded to look for the obscene blogger but totally independently a path has been traced without police help and it almost reaches councillor Peter Craske. Will the police listen? Well it is Bexley council’s Hate Awareness Week so they should welcome me with open arms when I deliver the evidence, but maybe they will find another of their obstacles to place in the way, in which case I have some very interesting documents to take to the IPCC.

Maybe there is more to the police enquiries than meets the eye which could explain the interminable delays. Perhaps the obscene blog is the least of Craske’s concerns; could it be significant that my police contact is no longer a Sergeant at Bexleyheath but the Met’s Serious Crimes Unit?

 

21 October - Bacon baffles Bulgarians

What I’d really like to be doing today is updating you on councillor Peter Craske and his link to the obscene blog but it would be a crime to waste the news on a Sunday when site visitors are less than half of Monday’s. So what follows is merely a rubbish space filler. Tomorrow Craske will have last Tuesday’s smile wiped off his face.

Overfilled binIt’s possible that I look upon Bexley’s refuse services through rose tinted spectacles because I am not a big user. I fill the brown bin with garden stuff, never food, and just a few supermarket bags go in the ‘rubbish’ bin. I’ve solved the problem of them being out of reach when just a couple lie on the bottom of the bin by wrapping them in a charity sack that has dropped through the letter box. The occasional jam jar or milk container goes in the communal bin which is conveniently close. Cabinet member Bacon’s refuse arrangements suit me just fine.

However I do detect some abuse. The paper bin gets filled with all sorts of things. You can see the polystyrene in this one but it was worse down below. Wood and small household appliances. Naturally the contractor is not keen on taking it away so it bursts open and things get worse.

My theory is that few of the residents it serves are able to read the message on the front. Apart from myself and an elderly lady, none of the users knows a word of English. They are a pleasant enough lot but we converse only in sign language.

Note: Since photographing this bin a week ago it has been emptied.

 

20 October (Part 2) - Emergency Services. Remember them?

Sidcup HospitalI don’t go in for a lot of reporting about the downgrading and possible closure of Sidcup’s hospital but I know a lot of people like to follow developments. If Fire Stations look like going the same way I doubt I would cover that in any detail either. There is not the time to acquire the knowledge required to report things accurately and the connection with Bexley council is probably not close enough for the subject to warrant a place here. Not everyone is happy with that and for them I can offer a link or two.

Over the past few days I have watched our GLA member James Cleverly make a complete ass of himself on Twitter over the proposal to close many London Fire Stations. Those who wish to catch up could do worse than read Adam Bienkov’s blog.

If you are feeling nostalgic for Queen Mary’s A & E you may like to watch this. See how many Bexley Tories you can spot alongside Mayor Boris Johnson. I saw, David Evennett, Derek Conway, Ian Clement, James Cleverly, Linda Bailey, James Hunt and, if I am not mistaken, Sharon Massey. All promising that all you had to do was vote Conservative in 2010 and your hospital was safe.

 

20 October (Part 1) - Bacon headed logic

Fined for fly posting Roundabout noticeBexley council was again doing what it likes best last month, prosecuting people. Someone from Orpington had plastered the town with 82 small posters so Bexley council dragged him to court. If your dog strays or your cat doesn’t come home don’t tell anyone.

The man shouldn’t have done it, Bexley council is perfectly capable of cluttering its streets without help from anyone else but what is revealing about the case is cabinet member Bacon’s reasoning. “It is an unnecessary distraction to motorists.”

Who takes any notice of a scrap of paper on a lamp post while driving by? On the other hand as you come down Knee Hill, trying to guess whether the tearaway speeding out of Thamesmead is going to go up the hill or not and which of the two straight ahead exits the car in front is likely to take, you are expected to jot down the phone number of Amber Cars. Every roundabout is similarly adorned and which councillor is in charge of them now that Peter Craske is keeping the police busy? Bacon.

News Shopper report.

 

19 October (Part 2) - Things get interesting

Prison cellEvery week or two the postman or his electronic equivalent delivers a packet of documents purporting to show anything from mildly irrational to allegedly corrupt behaviour by Bexley council. Some are filed in a pile marked ‘nuts’ and others find their way on to these pages. None has ever made me blink in disbelief at what I was reading until a week ago. None have caused me to immediately hand them over to the police before.

If Bexley police can be relied on to investigate the evidence free from interference by Teresa O’Neill and Will Tuckley it doesn’t take a very big leap of imagination to see one or more of their scheming cohorts (© Arthur Pewty) in very big trouble indeed. Even if the police are as reluctant to get stuck in as they were with the obscene blog the revelation will when the right moment arises cause a lot of eyebrows to shoot skywards. If the police follow it up Ian Clement could be for ever overshadowed.

 

19 October (Part 1) - Twice a cheat…

Ian ClementDaily TelegraphLinkedIn
The postman and former Bexley council leader needed an excuse for bedding a Chinese spy. He was an eleven hour flight from home. Try that one on your own spouse or partner.

The LinkedIn page (third image) is not available to non-subscribers. Click second image for Daily Telegraph report dated 30th November 2009.

The present council leader, Teresa O’Neill blocked questions about Clement from the public at the council meeting that month with a filibustering manoeuvre. News Shopper report. What else would anyone expect of her?

 

18 October (Part 3) - Whoever said the wheels of justice turn slowly had been dealing with the Met

Today has seen another update from the police in connection with their investigation into Bexley council’s obscene blogging activities. Once again they do not give any clue about a possible connection with the News Shopper’s report on ex-cabinet member Peter Craske. The only link is that ‘their man’ and ‘ours’ were both first arrested on 21st June 2012. Even that overstates the known facts, Elywn Bryant and I do not even know if the blogger was a man.

The new message says someone remains on police bail. Until when it doesn’t say. Statements have been obtained and communications devices are being forensically examined - well I should hope so after 16 months - and advice is awaited from the Crown prosecution Service. As you can see, the police are masters of revealing nothing at all. Their excuse is that potential witnesses must be kept in the dark but it invites speculation.

One is that Teresa O’Neill will be interfering in the course of justice as she has done so many times before and that ultimately the establishment must triumph over the plebs. The other is that if someone is charged with the offence it will look even worse for the previous investigating team who were dismissive of the crime and provided a false report as to why the investigation could not be pursued. So to protect their own there will be no charge. All idle speculation of course, facts are in short supply.

 

18 October (Part 2) - Thamesmead and Plumstead

Constituency mapI don’t suppose many people are interested in Parliamentary Constituency Boundaries and probably I wouldn’t be either if it wasn’t for the fact I live on what has become some sort of parliamentary fault line. I used to be in David Evennett’s constituency and now I am in Teresa Pearce’s. Last year the Boundary Commission suggested it was time to change everything around again which in principle must be an equitable thing as the electoral system is currently heavily weighted in Labour’s favour. The proposals put me outside Teresa’s patch by 50 yards or so. I saw only one benefit to that, the dilemma of whether or not I was going to have to vote Labour for the first time in my life was removed.

Bexley’s Conservatives saw bigger problems. The prospect of their traditional strongholds being weakened, so they approved an official Bexley council motion which was no more than a blatant piece of attempted gerrymandering. The basic idea was to shunt Conservative voters who were surplus to requirements in a Tory stronghold into a marginal area in the hope of turning it blue and conversely to drag voters in a Labour area into a strong Conservative area where their influence would be lost and create a new Tory area. A cunning if dishonest political plan given the authority of Bexley council’s official stamp. Cheating is their norm.

Fortunately the Boundary Commission found no more difficulty than I did in seeing straight through Bexley’s trickery and has come up with another revised plan. It may be fair but I’m not sure I like it. I will be lumped in with Plumstead and half of Woolwich, which I occasionally pass through but only when I really have to. On the other hand my dilemma is removed. I don’t have to vote Labour and Teresa Pearce will still get in. I call that having my cake and eat it.

You may see proposals for your own constituency at the Boundary Commission’s website. The Commission’s report is here.

I am now on standby for a telling off by my MP.

 

18 October (Part 1) - Once a cheat…

Evening Standard LinkedInThe Evening Standard of 13 November 2009 wasn’t alone in reporting that ‘the day job’ of former leader of Bexley council was postman - in Belvedere if rumours are to be believed. Whilst I am inclined to believe a postman is a far more important job than any Senior Executive of Royal Mail, in all probability most postman would not lay claim to that title.

However the LinkedIn entry of the alleged former postman describes the job in those terms. It also lists a Directorship at the Thames Innovation Centre, that loss making paedophile employing, whistleblower sacking pinnacle of business excellence owned by Bexley council. Of the nine jobs listed on the CV, seven are political appointments. There should have been eight but the time spent as Boris Johnson’s deputy is strangely absent.

The LinkedIn page is not available to non-subscribers.

 

17 October (Part 3) - Hate Crime. Something on which Bexley council is the acknowledged authority

Hate CrimeWorking closely with the policeI picked up a leaflet on Hate Crime at Monday’s police meeting. It made me chuckle to see the police in partnership with Bexley council regarding hate crime. One guilty of it the other of covering it up.

The leaflet is part of Hate Crime Awareness Week and Borough Police Commander Victor Olisa says "We take hate crime very seriously and I would urge anyone who is a victim to report incidents to the police. Even if the incident does not amount to a crime, we will still record and investigate it”.

You can take that with a pinch of salt. The police are supposed to keep Elwyn and I informed of developments in Bexley council’s obscene blog investigation but there has been no real information from them in months and yesterday their suspect was supposed to be back in the police station. They have made no attempt to inform Elwyn and myself as bound to do by procedures and Elwyn has had the brush off from three phone calls so far today.

Victor Olisa may prove to be just as useless as his predecessors.

Can it be coincidence that last night councillor Peter Craske was back in the council chamber bold as brass and today I have been showered in abusive and vile anonymous emails? Much the same sort of language as used on Bexley’s obscene blog. We are still no nearer knowing who did that.

 

17 October (Part 2) - Update on Freedom of Information requests

It isn’t just the unfinished Knee Hill resurfacing that has received commendably quick attention from Bexley council, the Information Commissioner’s demand that they respond to the FOI about the number of councillors who have been investigated by the police got an almost instant response too. They refused to give the information - again; so once more a report is winging its way to Wilmslow - the ICO’s address.

An enquiry has gone to the same place. Is it permissible to send a transcript of an original document which cannot be proven to bear any similarity to the original. This one relates to Bexley council’s failure to provide a facsimile of Will Tuckley’s business appointments diary.

And to keep the pot boiling, someone has asked who it was who requested police presence at last night’s meeting, and why.

 

17 October (Part 1) - Cabinet meeting report

TweetBy 7 p.m. last night three policeman were guarding the Civic Centre. Probably the Controller had been tipped off about John Kerlen’s (aka Olly Cromwell) rhetorical Tweet and called in a favour from the boys in blue yellow. They were bemused to find the only threat came from four septuagenarians who took five minutes to educate them about the disreputable crew they had been sent to protect.

When will Bexley council get used to the idea that John Kerlen gets his kicks from harmless, sometimes vulgar and sometimes rhetorical Tweets? Has it already forgotten his “Which wotsit lives in a house like this” was proved in court to be a nonsense tease?

Teresa O’Neill has been to the police several times before, they jump at her command and she has form for trying to criminalise anyone who says so.

Police statement
Free mealFor the record the Independent Police Complaints Commission ruled that the issue of the harassment warnings was wrong, broke police operational procedures and had no validity. A combination of a corrupt council and a police force in hock to it. £159.02 for a meal for police commander Tony Dawson was a shrewd investment.

Can you imagine the manager of the bingo hall opposite the Civic Centre telling the police that in March last year a patron loudly popped a crisp bag and he’d heard he might make a return visit, asking for urgent protection and not being told where he could go? If not you have your proof that Bexley’s police are in council leader Teresa O’Neill’s pocket.

Twice in the past week I have heard Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa bleating on about staff reductions and shortages but one word from Bexley council and he can waste around six man hours satisfying his mistress. Has he not yet realised that there has never been any trouble at any council meeting? For the most part only a bunch of old men turn up and even Olly Cromwell did nothing worse than sitting down and saying nothing when asked to leave. The police station is 100 yards away at the end of a 999 call. The last two borough commanders left under a cloud, in trouble because of their unhealthy associations with Bexley council. Will the new one prove to be just as stupid?

I could of course be wrong about Olly Cromwell and the council was concerned I might demand a desk.

Inside the council chamber access to the best seats was blocked by a total of four armchairs and notices saying they were reserved for councillors. I found a table elsewhere which I assumed was provided for my use.

Teresa O'NeillUntrue claimThe meeting itself was a sombre affair lasting just under 40 minutes, most of it taken up by contrition and self-flagellation over their horrendous OFSTED report on safeguarding children in care. While Teresa O’Neill has been telling the electorate porkies in leaflets poked through every letterbox the truth is rather different. Leadership and Management: INADEQUATE. Performance management and quality assurance: INADEQUATE. Quality of Provision. INADEQUATE. Children and young people are safe and feel safe: INADEQUATE. Overall effectiveness: INADEQUATE.

If it wasn’t for the firm suspicion that Cabinet meetings are rehearsed you might think from last night’s performance there was genuine concern but Will Tuckley is still in his job and so is the responsible cabinet member, councillor Katie Perrior.

Tuckley said the OFSTED report was “serious and disappointing”, “very poor” and “clearly not acceptable” but there was “no evidence of systemic poor practice”. A member of staff had been dismissed and a new head of service was appointed. There was “ongoing disciplinary action” involving two more members of staff. The usual shoot the foot soldiers approach.

He had brought in one of his old chums, Dame Moira Gibb, until last year Chief Executive of Camden Council to head up his new ‘Improvement Board’ and the council had found another £1.1 million pounds to spend on child care and her fee.

Sheila Murphy, Bexley’s Deputy Director of Social care, was still in her job too. She said she had a “four key plan” to get child services back on track. Quality and Consistency, Improving Management, Quality Assurance and Improving Culture. Yes, that should do the job.

Whilst recovering from the sight of Will Tuckley in sack cloth and ashes along came Katie Perrior to bare her soul. There was “No excuse, no hiding place and it must never happen again”. “OFSTED have done us a favour, it has put us in the best position because the only way is up”. At any moment she could have broken into Tony Blair’s theme song.

She was “quietly enthusiastic that staff now knew what was expected of them“. She was “delighted by the opportunity”. Bexley was going to be “best in London” and possibly “best in the country”. Well maybe the only way is up and staff do now know what is expected of them but she could hardly have delivered a more damning indictment of her past failures. And this is the woman so on top of her game that Teresa O’Neill loaded her with more work when Peter Craske was drummed out of the club.

Councillor Campbell did his usual thing of warning that money doesn’t grow on trees and it “may need to come from other parts of the organisation”. A sage like councillor Bailey said that “throwing in money doesn’t always solve problems”. Katie Perrior said new IT will ultimately save money and Teresa O’Neill chipped in with “the IT will allow professionals to get on with their professional work”. She indicated they had more often been filing clerks in the past. Cabinet member Chris Taylor was anxious to assure the meeting he was “confident adults are safe”, that being his responsibility.

The meeting moved on to the subject of Council Tax Relief, or rather the lack of it next year. The discussion was very short, it being a subject covered in more depth two weeks ago at the Finance meeting. Councillor Campbell was more than a little concerned for the plight of those on benefits who will eventually have to find around £30 a month. Several hundred people are likely to need help from a £100,000 hardship fund. “It’s not going to be a bed of roses”. If his concern is genuine expect him to be sporting a red one at the next election.

And that was it. All over by 20:10 after a slightly late start. A peak audience of seven people including myself and the three cops were still wondering what they were there for as I passed them on the way out.

One thing unusual about this cabinet meeting was the number of ordinary councillors who had turned up to ogle. Normally there would be two or three but I noted Roy Ashmole, Chris Ball, Val Clark, Peter Craske, John Davey, Ross Downing, Richard Gillespie, James Hunt, Harry Persaud, Philip Read, June Slaughter and Simon Windle. Could they all be there to watch Tuckley squirm?

Once again the members of the public present were acknowledged by just a few. Councillors June Slaughter and John Fuller took the honours, and are you ready for this? Chief Executive Will Tuckley. There’s a first time for everything.

 

16 October (Part 4) - Cabinet meeting tonight

You’ve probably noticed, I don’t like the council’s premier jobsworth Kevin Fox; the roadblock who says there are no rules to stop a photograph being taken before a public meeting but in practice he won’t allow it because it might cause a delay or someone might object. Not even a photograph of one of your friends is permissible. The last straw was his attempt to deny my use of a table last week; illegal. I wrote to him earlier today…


Kevin FoxIn my email of 2nd October I said it was likely I would not use the desk that must be provided for journalists and bloggers at public meetings, however that was before you tried to evict me from a desk a week ago. If you prefer hostilities to give and take I am happy to oblige. I shall require a desk at all meetings in future.

Despite your statement that protocols allow photography before meetings you denied Mr. Bryant permission to take such a photograph with the excuse of “given the potential for disruption and delay, particularly where those present are photographed or filmed without their consent”. Presumably therefore you will have no reason to deny him the opportunity if, for example, it is taken more than ten minutes before the meeting scheduled start time and the subject is only one of his associates?


There has been no reply and very soon I shall be on my way to the Civic Centre. Whether or not Kevin Fox continues to behave as the council cretin I hope to report tomorrow. As far as I am concerned the more he flies in the face of government requirements and guidance the better. All the more to hit him with. On the other hand, if you’ve heard nothing by mid morning you may assume that even Victor Olisa has become too friendly with Bexley’s criminal council.

 

16 October (Part 3) - Kiss goodbye to Waitrose and the Black Horse

Black Horse InnThe Sidcup Community Group which has a good record for being in the know with the Black Horse Inn fiasco has previously reported that shoppers there are not going to see a branch of Waitrose in town. All that Bexley council has given them so far is another boarded up shop front.

And there is more, the developers have pulled another fast one over our gullible council and reneged on the deal to build a facsimile of the old coaching inn’s historical facade.

Read all about it at www.sidcupcommunitygroup.co.uk.

 

16 October (Part 2) - Coincidence or what?

Knee Hill before Knee Hill after White linesSome say they don’t read it. Will Tuckley is so scared of its influence that he bans it from council servers but for a long time now one councillor who shall remain nameless has consistently asked questions at meetings which were asked here not long before.

One councillor recently said he reads the blog “to find out what is going on” and now an unexplained coincidence. Just 48 hours after Knee Hill was featured for its unmarked road surface along comes the white lining gang and does the job.

Reports say it wasn’t like it at 9:30 this morning but by 13:00 it was.

Someone is belatedly on the ball and to be congratulated. Who I wonder signed off the job as done when it wasn’t? Let’s blame councillor Peter Craske the architect of so many of Bexley’s disasters.

I sometimes fantasize that the police find the evidence to have Craske banged up and Boris Johnson gets totally carried away by his fantasies of Teresa O’Neill and elopes with her, then there might be be no more than ten or a dozen councillors standing in the way of an open and honest council. Who should be nominated for the Dirty Dozen?

 

16 October (Part 1) - Crime down in Bexley. Not in the Civic Centre obviously

A meeting of the Bexley Community Policing Engagement Group is probably a bit too far removed from Bexley council business to merit a place here but I succumbed to the encouragement of the lads of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group (BCMG) and took myself off to Crayford last night. If I had known how bad the bus service to Crayford is I wouldn’t have bothered. I waited for a 492 for only 30 seconds which was lucky because there are only two an hour in the early evening.

The meeting hall was filled with seventy or more people, two of them councillors. Alex Sawyer who greeted me like a long lost friend was there to publicise the council’s Crime Survey which I had already completed. Councillor Howard Marriner sat next to me. This is probably no way to gain admittance to Teresa O’Neill’s select inner circle.

Big crime surveyThe Crime Survey (click image to complete it) asks what residents fear most and what their concerns are. That may be laudable but shouldn’t police crime statistics be the more reliable indicator? The general public would probably vote for capital punishment and immediate exit from the European Union but politicians claim they know best. I feel a crime survey lacks logic. However Alex wants to improve on last year’s 1,141 survey completions, so please help him out by clicking the link. It only takes a minute or so and will help the deluded Teresa O’Neill believe she runs a ‘Listening council’.

Twenty five minutes late Police Commander Victor Olisa turned up. As is almost inevitable with his sort of job he had been held up by a previous meeting. He was at a meeting of his own officers and said he had to do “a lot lot more to do to lift morale”, then made a brief reference to the old days when “cops did unsavoury things”. My experience of policemen is that they are uniformed thugs and should never ever be trusted. If anyone is going to change my mind it might be Victor Olisa.

He said crime this year is down 2% overall, robberies down 29%, motor theft 13%, knife crime 23%, serious youth violence 41% and burglary down 23% last year and he was expecting another five or six percent down in the current year. I was left wondering what could have gone up so much that the overall reduction was only 2%. Perhaps the 2% was London wide and not just Bexley where things seem to be going very well. But not in Crayford according to the Acting Sergeant Sharp who showed some slides exhibiting a bit of a problem. I suppose the presence of the self-proclaimed criminal relatives of Crayford councillor Melvin Seymour will be doing his statistics no good at all. Fortunately Sergeant Sharp is getting on top of Crayford’s problem.

Chief Superintendent Olisa repeated what was said at last week’s council committee meeting. That 40 of his officers are being trained in the use of Taser and he expects two to be on duty at any one time in the borough. If you don’t want something else to worry about don’t go Googling for “Taser deaths”.

On drugs Olisa said there was “no particular area where it is prevalent” and seemed to indicate the drug dealers roam all over the place. A lady who said that there had been dealers outside her house in Slade Green for the past 13 years and wanted to know what was being done about them was promised a day out with Victor’s men next time they have a blitz on drugs. He seems to be a man who will leave his mark on Bexley and not the sort of stain we are used to.

The main event of the evening was a presentation by the council’s CCTV manager Steve Farley but I had checked the bus times home on the stop outside the meeting hall. There was a scheduled 69 minute gap in the service at an inappropriate time, so I am afraid I gave Mr. Farley a miss. Next time the BCMG people ask me to go to Crayford for a BCPEG meeting I shall give that a miss too.

 

15 October (Part 3) - Technical note

Earlier today the ‘Style sheet’ that controls the appearance of the blog pages was simplified in a way that can affect only the full width graphics. e.g. the extract from Bexley council’s refusal to answer an FOI on today’s blog part 1. If your web browser loads the new blog but relies on the old (cached) Style sheet full width graphics will display incorrectly. Refresh the page (the F5 key on Windows machines) to restore order.

 

15 October (Part 2) - Parking fines. Exposing Bexley’s dishonesty. (Episode 5)

Black and white photoThe disabled man who had been given a parking ticket and was twice told that everything was in order eventually proved his case. Bexley council acknowledged that its procedures embody an initial stitch up as standard. They take no notice of any evidence supplied by the motorist, they review only their own.

Notwithstanding the admission and cancellation of the fine, our man on a mission still had questions. The date the council had visited the scene of their crime was still unanswered and he also wanted to know what possible reason there could be for not examining his photos.

Mr. Greg Tippett eventually condescended to provide an answer on 17th December 2009. He said the council did a site inspection and confirmed the chevrons had faded away on 25th September and the photos were ignored because they were black and white. Not when submitted they weren’t but apparently the council had scanned them into their system in monochrome. As excuses go, this was pretty lame, Yellow lines are easy to spot whether it be a colour or a black and white photograph.


Parking notes
Another thing that was worth looking at is whether or not Civil Enforcement Officer BL286 had lied when he said that his report would be endorsed with a note of the mitigating circumstance. viz. No kerb chevrons and a restriction sign behind a flower basket. Almost needless to say, this being Bexley, a Freedom of Information request revealed that CEO BL286 had indeed lied. He certified that all signs and lines were correctly located and marked.

In response to another letter dated 29th January 2010, Greg Tippett said that he “found that the signage was clear”. Well he would wouldn’t he, it had already been confirmed that the flower basket was removed during the first week of September and no one thought to check until the 25th. Is there no one at Bexley council with a modicum of sense?

Mr. Tippett concluded by saying “I confirm that this matter is now concluded”. Sorry Greg, wrong again!

This story is reported in an indeterminate number of episodes. A cumulative version is provided for convenience.

 

15 October (Part 1) - The Information Commissioner disagrees

On 20th July Bexley council was asked if it was “aware of any councillor being the subject of a criminal investigation by the Metropolitan Police in the last 18 months. If so, how many?” and they replied as follows…
Bexley council's response to FOIAs usual they preferred to say nothing; however the information Commissioner sees no reason why the number should not be forthcoming and has given Bexley council ten days to divulge it. As usual it will be interesting to see what excuse Bexley will manufacture next.

If the News Shopper’s information is correct, tomorrow is the day when councillor Peter Craske has to report to the police again. What we don’t know for sure is whether or not councillor Craske is Bexley’s obscene blogger. The police have told Elwyn and me almost nothing. We only know that someone (no age, no name, no sex, no address) was arrested on 21st June in connection with the council’s blog but beyond that everything is coincidence and conjecture. Without Jim Palmer’s report in the newspaper we would know almost precisely nothing.

When Elwyn and I met the police last February in connection with Bexley council’s crime they promised to update us monthly, and in approximate terms they have made contact as promised. However to say only “I do not intend to reveal any details of what enquiries we are conducting” does not seem to me to get anywhere near satisfying either the Met’s or the CPS’s stated aims on the sympathetic treatment of hate crime victims. Bexley’s police have got extremely close to saying nothing at all. If that continues much longer I can see another formal complaint being formulated.

 

14 October - Whitewash supplies run short in Bexley - Click any image for photo gallery (6 images)

Knee Hill roundabout Knee Hill GreenwichAround six months ago the roundabout at the foot of Knee Hill was closed over several nights while it was resurfaced. Whether it needed doing or the contractor needed a cash boost I haven’t a clue but it seems to me the job was never finished. Doesn’t Bexley council have anyone to inspect works before they hand over the dosh?

As well as resurfacing the roundabout the lower section of the hill got the treatment too. Presumably this involved the Socialist State of Greenwich because whilst the roundabout is Bexley’s the borough boundary runs up the middle of the hill. That middle white line has never been restored.


Camp site White line Lamp postsAs London’s premier camp site which plays host to countless foreign motor caravans is only a few yards from Knee Hill one would have thought that a white line to remind their drivers which side of the road to keep on would be a wise precaution.

Knee Hill used to be white lined as may be seen on the original man hole cover, but not any more.

As anyone familiar with the hill will know, it is narrow and guess what, it has a ‘knee’ half way up which must be negotiated with care, especially at night when the headlights of ascending vehicles are inclined to blind descending drivers. It could do with some lighting. And guess what again, if you look carefully the hill does have street lights. More on the Greenwich side than Bexley’s it is true, but they don’t get switched on any more. Maybe that predates the resurfacing, but why?

Is Bexley council still squabbling with Greenwich even though the allegedly maladministering Peter Craske has gone?

I suspect Bexley council has a vested interest in making Knee Hill as dangerous as possible. They used it as the excuse to bash Ken Livingstone over his proposed Thames bridge. Most traffic could have been guided towards the dual carriageways (A2016) built for that very purpose and which now lie largely empty. A width restriction could have been placed at each end of Knee Hill if the A2016 proved unattractive, but councillor leader Teresa O’Neill wanted to protect herself from the local NIMBYs. Guess whose ward is at the top of the hill.

 

13 October - Three tales of stupidity in Bonkers Bexley

It’s the weekend so time to fill in with some of the minor or light hearted items that may require a quick follow up. The past week has proved once again that the sillier Bexley council gets - thanks Mr. Fox - the more page views the blog gets. Or maybe it’s the ruder I get about them. Hard to tell. Nice upward trend anyway.

Register of Members’ Interests

John Kerlen’s abortive trip to inspect the register was as I suspected all the fault of the cretinous Kevin Fox. It was him who decided to break the council’s own rules and probably the law. When John went again the following day someone more reasonable was on duty and the register was produced.

When Elwyn Bryant and I took a look last year we noted down an address for every councillor. John found that most of them have been removed from the register. Someone once said that Bexley will never put the register on the web because it will provoke even more lies by councillors. I expect that man was right.


That News Shopper letter

A couple of emails have told me how Megan Clement who supports Bexley council’s wish to see a miscarriage of justice is linked to the council but I’m not yet totally convinced by either. Corroborating evidence has been elusive so far.

I wrote to the editor of the News Shopper complaining about him libelling me - very much tongue in cheek - and he said he found the point being made in the letter was “strange”. I’d guess he published it to stoke controversy rather than protect his advertising revenue as many people suspect. Where else could Bexley council advertise now that the Shopper has no local competition?


Boris loves Teresa - after a good drink

An anonymous message said “Boris has always had a penchant for the buxom wench”. Yes, so we are led to believe. But is Teresa O’Neill a buxom wench?

Let’s remind ourselves of what a buxom wench looks like.

It is said that powerful men can pluck the best of the bunch; maybe it was a strongly alcoholic cocktail doing the talking.

Teresa O’Neill. Boris Johnson’s bit on the side? Surely not.

 

12 October (Part 2) - The Bexley Breezeblock

Boris JohnsonTeresa O'NeillAccording to the national press this morning, Boris Johnson couldn’t wait to get back to Bexley after his stand up comedy tour concluded in Birmingham this week. He visited a bar equipment supplier in Crayford and promptly renamed copper sulphate solution “The Bexley breezeblock’. If he wants to build a breezeblock outhouse he knows where to come and who does it best.

According to the News Shopper Boris said that “Bexley has a great future” and “I’m a big fan of Teresa O’Neill and what the council is doing here”.

Is that confirmation that Boris Johnson, mayor of London, is a fan of obscene blogs, delivering lies to the police and committing perjury whenever possible? Presumably we have to assume it is.

“Boris Johnson is a big fan of the home of obscene blogging.” There, I’ve said it; that’s a slogan that should attract a few Google hits.

Why is the man so in love with Teresa?

News Shopper report.

 

12 October (Part 1) - The Alex & Steven Show

Alex SawyerIgnore the equine acronym, the Crime and Disorder Scrutiny Committee meeting is an altogether different beast to Public Realm. For a start there is no jobsworth Kevin Fox and the chairman doesn’t sweep in with snout in the air. Instead you have a chairman who will engage in small talk with members of the public (I hope his wife got back safely from Birmingham), and who ensures the use of microphones. You also get councillors who will talk about local matters - like how noisy is that damned turbine going to be. There was another difference too, the fact packed Public Realm agenda came across as dull stuff and the less immediately attractive Crime agenda was made to sound quite interesting - some of the time anyway. Councillor Steven Hall kept everything alive with a stream of questions, he must have gone well into double figures with them.

Because Police Borough Commander Victor Olisa was delayed by other commitments, chairman Alex Sawyer asked Deputy Director Mike Frizoni to give his report on metal theft first. It is fortunately much reduced, only ten drain gullies lost in the past year, the organised thefts of a couple of years ago when 336 went missing may now be a thing of the past. Lamp post connection panels had suffered too and the missing ones were replaced with plastic.

Councillor Mike Slaughter wondered if it was possible to swap all metal gullies and lamp post covers with plastic and finance it from the metal scrap value but a scrapped gully he was told was worth only a fiver but the 336 cost £121,000 to replace. “These people cost you money!” I thought for a moment the comment was directed at councillors’ million pound a year allowances, but apparently it was about another sort of drain altogether.

Councillor Philip Read, ever ready to pillory people, guilty or otherwise, wanted the names of metal thieves exhibited on the council’s street bill boards. Mr. Frizoni said he would consider it. Councillor Val Clark said that the security markings on gullies might not be much use if they were taken well outside the borough. Frizoni agreed, “if they are shipped out in a container there is a limit to what we can do”. I hope Bonkers doesn’t attract criminals for readers and I’ve given them ideas. Oh dear it does. Remember councillor Melvin Seymour’s in-laws? They admitted to being criminals and are (were?) readers.

Victor OlisaAt that point the Borough Police Commander walked in and all talk of thieving was brought to a halt. Victor Olisa told us that burglary was down, Bexley is now second best in the Met. area but he is not a man to dwell only on the good news. He said that as part of a campaign for increased efficiency, the Bexley force is compared with similar forces nationally. Although Bexley did quite well in Met. terms, it is bottom of the list on every single one of the national comparison criteria.

80% of costs goes on staff he said and so that is where the efficiency axe was going to fall. Chief Inspector Tony Gowen has been transferred to Tower Hamlets. What Tower Hamlets has done to deserve both him and former Commander Stringer was not explained.

CI Gowen was lucky not to be named as culpable in the ongoing official complaint about Bexley police not at first being willing to investigate Bexley council’s obscene blog. He alone apologised for some of their wrongdoings and I went soft on him. Not that Gowen’s going will save much money, the CI has been replaced by a new Superintendent, Peter Ayling. The savings are going to come from abandoning the Borough Commander structure, replaced by Basic Command Units which will cross borough boundaries. We are likely to see a Bromley/Bexley BCU and shared police services. Nothing much will change at street level according to C.S. Olisa. Councillor Katie Perrior expressed the hope that the share would be with Bromley and not Greenwich with which Bexley does not have much in common.

It would be nice to be able to report that Bexley council has similar ideas but although the government recommended that boroughs with full time leaders don’t need a Chief Executive, Teresa O’Neill begs to differ and prefers to spend a quarter of a million on a chief executive exclusive to the borough. One with a bare diary who refuses to answer letters.

Another thing Olisa plans to do, and quite right too in my opinion, is get rid of the fixed ward structure for Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNT). It doesn’t make sense to aim for the same number of officers in each when different wards have different needs. In future Olisa will allow the minimum officer numbers in each team to be two rather than six when circumstances warrant it. Officers will be distributed according to need rather than target numbers and travel by public transport. Breaks will be taken in cafes etc. rather than taking a trip back to a police canteen. More money saved and more on street presence.

Councillor Brian Bishop asked if there was any special training given to officers visiting schools. Olisa said the Schools Team was disbanded quite a while ago but he was going to restore it. Councillor Hall asked if it might be possible for the police to actually turn up at advertised street meetings and if the scheduled officers were unavailable to send HQ staff. Maybe the police have taken their lead from Bexley council.

Ian ClementCouncillor Katie Perrior welcomed “a massive reduction in youth offending” but was concerned about a middle-class drugs problem. Perhaps she should see less of her media friends, but she thought that it was something Bexley police had been overlooking. The previous Commander Stringer was alleged to have said that Bexley didn’t have a drugs problem because, I assume, he had never lingered near Abbey Wood station. Victor Olisa made it clear he took a different view. He was executing an average of seven drugs warrants a week. Victor Olisa is not Dave Stringer and be thankful for that.

Mike Frizoni revealed that “Probationary Service projects allocated to the council amount to 4,700 man hours per year, which in monetary terms is worth approximately £60,000”. Or to out it in plain language all that weeding, pruning, litter picking and painting performed as Community Service saved 60 grand. That’s £12.56 an hour. Maybe the girls who were working in a councillor family business for £3.68 should get some gardening gloves and offer their services.

Steven HallCouncillor Steven Hall summarised the findings of his sub-Committee on Youth Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB). Only 18% of ASB is committed by under 18s. There was a better than 20% reduction in convicted youth offenders last year compared to the previous one. Only three ASBOs were issued this year (nine last) and no one from Bexley was convicted over last year’s London riots. All of which supports my own view that the only thing older people have to complain about Bexley youth is that they are unbelievably noisy and force everyone else into the gutter when they pass by. Especially grammar school pupils.

Following that report there were no questions from councillors but Mick Barnbrook of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group (BCMG) asked the chairman if he would agree to use the discretion bestowed on him by council rules and let him make a comment. He got an instant and unthinking refusal. Bexley calls itself the ‘Listening council’, just six out of 220,000 residents are bothered to take any interest in their meetings but the council will listen to none of them.

Mr. Barnbrook has 31 years police experience behind him, quite a lot of it in Bexleyheath and in his prime volunteered his services as sports and athletics mentor to local youths including Stephen Lawrence and his younger brother Stuart right up to the time of the infamous murder. The councillors found nothing to say about Steven Hall’s efforts to keep young people on the straight and narrow and their immediate reaction is an unwillingness to listen to a resident with something worthwhile to pass on.

Mick was told it was necessary to give notice if he wished to speak at a meeting. How is it possible to do that when no one knew what councillor Hall planned to say? The meeting was wrapped up soon afterwards when an open-minded Steven Hall singled out Mr. Barnbrook and gave him 20 minutes of his time. Unlike Cheryl Bacon, when Alex Sawyer says a meeting is over he means it.

Councillor Sawyer is one of the very few councillors in Bexley who comes across as both intelligent and friendly but is presumably trained to give an instant “No” to any BCMG member and as everyone knows, no politician will ever admit to a mistake. Unlike the pen jabbing mayor Alan Downing, Alex can say “No” politely without causing offence or deliberately belittling a resident, so Bexley council is spared another round of complaints.

 

11 October (Part 2) - Public Realm meeting report

Cheryl BaconThe agenda for last Tuesday’s meeting was jam packed with interesting facts and statistics yet the meeting itself was deadly dull. Probably the following report reflects that. Possibly the calibre of questions asked by councillors was a factor but chairman Cheryl Bacon doesn’t help with her paper boat on a rough sea approach to her job. She is no Alex Sawyer or Philip Read who can keep a meeting on a tight rein.

Neither is there the honesty - I can hardly believe I am writing this - of Read who declares a personal interest in staffing matters and vacates the chairman’s seat when necessary because his wife works for Bexley council. Cheryl is in charge of the Public Realm meeting but never mentions that her husband Gareth is cabinet member for Public Realm. The pair of troughers could be stitching us all up over breakfast and we’d be none the wiser.

Councillor June Slaughter was first to get stuck in, she said the borough wide statistics on empty shops were no good and wanted to know Sidcup’s figures. “Without detail they are not a lot of use to us.” Councillor Waters agreed and councillor Malik asked for the details to be circulated without managing to precipitate a war with the chairman who usually denies him the tools to do his job.

Councillor Malik wanted some figures for new homes built. The agenda‘s report table was all blanks. The council officer whose name may have been Heatley but there was no line of sight to his nameplate and the acoustics aren’t perfect, said getting the numbers was “complicated”. What can be complicated about counting houses?

Councillor Slaughter said “I view with enormous concern the ability [under new planning rules] to build enormous extensions on the back of homes” and the fact “we have to approve potentially inadequate parking facilities”. Perhaps she should have gone to that conference in Birmingham and directed the question to the real villains rather than hapless council officers.

Councillor Howard Marriner wanted to know if the relaxation of planning rules “would allow religious organisations to open up in former industrial premises”. The council officers were “unable to say at present”.

Councillor Brenda Langstead was concerned about business premises being changed to residential. “There is a large number of empty [business] properties which may be suitable for residential use but there is no suitable local infrastructure”. Again there was no definitive answer. “It is a still emerging proposal.”

Councillor Slaughter returned to her parking theme. There are too many flats being built, not enough houses and there is very little amenity space - especially parking. She said members (councillors to you and me) are “not kept up to date and they ought to be.” Perhaps because Mrs. Slaughter hasn’t much by way of competition, her questions and observations often appear to be a cut above the average.

Gareth BaconThe infamous County Gate affair was back on the agenda. Now that the equally infamous councillor Peter Craske is an absentee freeloading councillor there has been some progress. Greenwich and Bexley boroughs have drawn up joint plans to discourage access to County Gate and the adjacent and similar Greenwich roads. A funding request will go to Transport for London after which residents will be consulted and with luck the work will get done next year or in 2014. However the scheme is not yet safely in the bag.

Cabinet member Gareth Bacon said that if TfL does not come up with the money he would find it for County Gate, but he would not be stumping up for the Greenwich roads. No surprise there but Greenwich, he said, probably wouldn't go out of their way to fund the scheme and then the whole issue would go full circle because fixing County Gate in isolation would most likely shunt the traffic problem across to Greenwich and they would invoke the law to stop Bexley doing anything at all.

On parking, cabinet member Bacon said that only 0·82% of parking penalties are taken to the adjudicator and go in the motorist’s favour. Given that the agenda said that 50,155 tickets were issued, that 2,178 had to be cancelled locally and another 412 were cancelled by the adjudicator, claiming that only 0·82% of tickets is an adequate measure of failure is disingenuous. As councillor Malik has said at previous meetings, how much unnecessary misery and anxiety is Bexley inflicting on its residents?


Green grid mapCouncil officer Heatley, if that was his name, came in for some criticism for his report on the All London Green Grid Framework. In particular his map with little detail and no legend.

Elsewhere the agenda was more useful. It told us how it is Tesco payback time for Bexley’s recent generosity towards the company. They are to open a packaging and distribution centre on the old Pirelli site in Belvedere. Bike Alert plc is moving its headquarters from Lewisham to Crayford and Phase 2 of the Crayford Town Hall redevelopment will see 44 more flats added to the 144 of Phase 1. It would seem that councillor Slaughter is right to say the house to flat ratio is going badly wrong.

Road accident statistics were generally reducing and compared well with both Bromley and Greenwich but pedal cyclists were a concern as has been noted before.

Council officers confirmed the agenda statement by saying that “64% of London boroughs showed an increase in the number of casualties when compared to their 2010 levels” at which point Mick Barnbrook of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group (BCMG) slipped me a note saying “What’s 64% of 32?” My pencil helped me to the number 20·48% and I thought no more about it. The meeting droned to its eventual close just after 9 p.m. when the chairman said the ordeal was over and the meeting closed. Most people headed for the door, but not Mick Barnbrook who went the other way. He told me later he had asked Mike Frizoni, the council officer in charge of road safety matters, if 64% of London boroughs meant 20 or 21 - why complicate and confuse the issue with a percentage? However chairman Cheryl Bacon sent him away saying he was interrupting her meeting. You expect these people to be rude and unwilling to answer questions but you might also expect they would at least come up with an excuse which is beyond ridicule.

There were six members of the public present at this meeting, five from the BCMG and me.

 

11 October (Part 1) - Megan Clement. D minus for comprehension

News Shopper letterFor the past year or two all the News Shopper letters in support of Bexley council have eventually been found to have some familial or political link back to Bexley council and time will tell whether the name Clement is similarly connected.

The Shopper’s headline states the obvious. We have come a long way since as a seven year old I took a stick and scratched the letters S H I T in the garden earth and was rewarded with a beating. Olly has developed filthy language to an art form and possibly beyond as anyone who follows him on Twitter will know. I feel it all gets rather tiresome but it isn’t illegal, neither should it be.

Megan Clement is unfortunately one of those gullible souls who failed her comprehension tests at school. Unlike the appeal judge she has fallen for Bexley council’s propaganda and believes that Olly wrote about faeces through letterboxes. Those in possession of the facts know that was a malicious falsehood from Crayford ward councillor Melvin Seymour. The question of me supporting such a statement or act does not and cannot arise because neither ever happened.

Megan Clement is probably not alone in confusing her own opinions, prejudices and misconceptions with the law and like Bexley council she seems to think that acting outside it is OK in a civilised society. That was my criticism of Bexley council, it had rejoiced in a miscarriage of justice. So it would appear does Megan Clement.

 

10 October (Part 4) - Kevin Fox. Hysterical spoilt child

There was a bit of an incident before Tuesday evening’s Public Realm meeting. I arrived in the council chamber at 19:15 to find the tiered seating and press table were missing. In their place were about 40 chairs in half a dozen rows on the flat floor.

For those who have never seen it I should explain that the council chamber is arranged a little like two U shapes one within the other, the outer U being a couple of feet higher. Each seat has an associated table for writing or whatever but except at full council meetings when more than 70 councillors and officials may attend, the outer U isn’t in use. Bearing in mind the inadequacies of the council’s sound system some members of the public choose to sit on the outer ring. It’s become a commonplace at the Public Realm meeting, there have been times when it has been filled with yellow jacketed motorcyclists. Last night I chose to sit there myself, there being no other place equipped with a writing surface. I was soon joined by five other people with the same idea. Almost at once Kevin Fox, Head of Committee Services and Scrutiny, told us all we had to go.

I never speak to anyone at council meetings unless directly addressed which happens only very rarely and Fox was ranting generally at all and sundry, so I said not a word as usual. However at least two complained that they couldn’t hear from anywhere else and given that the open end of the U had been filled in with more tables for councillors, audibility would likely be even worse than usual if anyone moved. They might not even be able to see everyone either.

Kevin Fox ranted in vain for several minutes reminiscent of the kid at the supermarket checkout denied a chocolate bar. His voice rose to only a little short of hysterical. Eventually he flounced out saying he would argue no more. The suspicion was that he had gone to tittle-tattle to the meeting chairman, or possibly his boss, because a minute or two later Director Paul Moore looked in.

If anyone had spoken to me I would have reminded them that the law now demands that bloggers are provided with all the facilities required by a news organisation but it would appear that both the Director and the meeting chairman, councillor Cheryl Bacon, have rather more sense than Kevin Fox. Nothing more was said.

For this evening’s meeting I am going armed with a copy of the relevant Statutory Instrument. Kevin Fox. What a plonker!

 

10 October (Part 3) - Who at Bexley council is breaking the law this time?

Members' interestsThis notice is bang up to date. It is displayed on Bexley council’s website and Akin Alabi is their relatively new Monitoring Officer. He is Bexley’s top legal man and presumably knows the law. He says that “The register [of members’ interests] is available for inspection Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.”. The reality is rather different.

This morning John Kerlen (aka Olly Cromwell) dropped into the Contact Centre and was told he could sling his hook. He wasn’t allowed to look at the Register as is his legal right. It wasn’t a case of the Contact Centre staff being stupid, they were helpful and called the Head of Committee Services. Who answered? Well probably Kevin Fox. Emails to the Head of Members’ Services are getting the 'Out of Office’ treatment today.

How can one overpaid man be such a total idiot and law breaker? Needs time to cook the book I expect. Open and transparent councils have the document on their websites.

 

10 October (Part 2) - Kevin Fox. Head of Committee Services and Scrutiny. Jobsworth and neurone free zone

Elwyn Bryant’s plan to take advantage of Bexley council’s stated ‘Protocol and Regulation’s and take a photograph before yesterday’s Public Realm meeting didn’t get off the ground. I had passed him a copy of the email from Mr. Kevin Fox, Bexley council’s chosen personal licker of members’ backsides and leading manufacturer of untruths, and as instructed Elwyn emailed Mr. Dave Easton to say he wanted to take a photograph before the meeting.
Protocols and Regulations
Should be a formality. Dave Easton is a decent enough guy and Elwyn and I would be in the council chamber 15 minutes before the scheduled start time so he could take a picture of me and my note book.

100 minutes before meeting start time he received a reply from Fox, the council lackey who invented the totally untrue excuse which resulted in the signatures of 2,219 Bexley residents going straight in the bin. This is what the excuse inventor said to Elwyn…
Kevin Fox's response
Library photoFor such a constant liar, Fox is not very good at it is he? There is a Protocol to allow photography before a meeting he said, all you have to do is ask. And when you seek permission to take a picture five ten or fifteen minutes before a meeting begins you can’t because it will disrupt it and the subject of the photograph (which Elwyn intended should be me), might object.

It needs to be said again. Kevin Fox is Bexley council’s No. 1 staff liar and he and his elected masters have little intention of complying with the spirit of the new transparency law or - as we will see later today - even its actuality.

It gets worse…

I wrote to Mr. Fox (copied to Easton as requested) seeking permission to photograph the chamber before next week’s Cabinet Meeting started. Anticipating the reaction of the lying Fox I offered as many assurances as I could.
Email to Dave Easton
Pen jabbing mayorShort of asking Mr. Easton to take a photograph of what he liked when he liked and presenting it to me later I don’t think I could have done more. What did Easton say? Well, err, nothing for six days. Then the lying arse licking Fox took over. He sent me the same email as Elwyn received. (see image 1 above.)

So to sum up, the council says their rules allow photography before meetings, but in practice there are no circumstances in which they will allow it. When, at a council meeting, the pen jabbing mayor trots out his mantra that photography is not allowed without permission and “no such permission has been granted” you know that the implication is just another of Bexley council’s bog standard lies.

There is still scope to take this further and I have; and I imagine that before long news of these developments will reach Eric Pickles’ ear. If there was a single brain cell in Bexley council’s corporate body you would have read today how they had taken their first hesitant step towards running an open democracy accompanied by a picture of an empty council chamber or of me; instead I can only offer for your delectation a stock image of a well known liar and abuser of the disabled. Our esteemed pen jabbing mayor. Councillor Alan - I hate deaf people - Downing. He can thank the lying Kevin Fox for that.

Note: ‘Library photograph’ kindly supplied by a reader. Ditto jabbing mayor.

 

10 October (Part 1) - Parking fines. Exposing Bexley’s dishonesty. (Episode 4)

Greg TippettRight, where were we? Man with blue badge parks on double yellow lines. ‘No loading’ signs obscured or absent. Fined. Protested twice. Told all evidence thoroughly examined and he had no case. Provided incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. Bexley caved in. End of the matter? Not a bit of it. Some people don’t like being lied to.

The next stage was a handwritten letter to Greg Tippett, Bexley council’s ‘Authorised Officer’ querying the stated reason for cancellation. viz. “The case is now closed.“ What sort of reason is that?

The ex-policeman was left waiting for an answer for several weeks during which he made six phone calls to Mr. Tippett who was on leave, out of the office, at a meeting, going to call him back, and twice unwilling to speak. On 26th October 2009 a formal complaint about Greg Tippett’s failure to answer questions was hand delivered to Chief Executive Will Tuckley and on 6th November Tina Brooks (Parking Manager) responded to the complaint…


Response to complaint
She added “I am satisfied that the matter is now concluded”. Fat chance! Tina Brooks had tried Bexley’s favourite subterfuge, not answering the question. The reason for the cancellation remained a mystery. Then in mid-November a letter dated 16th October showed up…
Excuse
…which prompted another question on 23rd November. “What was the date of the site visit?” Despite the promise of re-marking chevrons, on 31st January the following year the ex-policeman went to look for them only to be disappointed. How else was Craske going to keep the revenue flow up?

This story is reported in an indeterminate number of episodes. A cumulative version is provided for convenience.

 

9 October - Do they know what they are doing?

It’s seven weeks since Eric Pickles said he wanted to see councils get themselves up to date with modern media and be more welcoming to residents at council meetings, four weeks since most of his ideas were made law and very nearly five since I asked Bexley council if I could make Mr. Pickles happy by taking a photograph or two at a council or cabinet meeting.

In the intervening weeks Bexley council has made it very clear that they see no need to change their secretive ways in the light of the Communities Secretary’s wishes…
Email extract
Personally I think this is a very good thing. I’m not terribly interested in photographing our bunch of ne’er do wells, liars, failed businessmen and would be petty criminals. There is far more fun to be had when Bexley council casts aside commonsense and presents on a silver platter yet another topic with which to drag their reputation deeper into the mire. But not everyone takes the same view and possibly my wish to see them make asses of themselves will be dashed.

Civic Centre bansWhile reinforcing their ban on photography at meetings Bexley council came up with the following statement. “I note from your email that you may wish to take photographs before proceedings begin in order to set the scene. This is permissible in accordance with the Council protocol and the Regulations.” (My emphasis.)

Well what a surprise because in the Civic Centre foyer there is (I last looked fewer than two weeks ago) a copy of the notice shown to the left. “No photography inside the building”. Exactly what one would expect of a council paranoid about its activities becoming any more widely known than absolutely necessary which now looks as though it may have no ‘legal’ justification whatsoever.

I shall stick with my original request to restrict photography to before the occasional cabinet and council meeting but others think the “protocol and regulations” should be used sooner and more widely. Mr. Bryant has asked to be able to use his camera before this evening’s Public Realm meeting and photograph me, notebook in hand. So you may soon see me embarrassed in a way I have promised not to inflict on councillors. Or maybe I’ll be reporting on Elwyn being led away in handcuffs by Bexley council’s obedient servants. One must never trust the word of anyone at Bexley council.

It is unlikely that a report on this evening’s Public Realm meeting will appear until Thursday for, as Teresa O’Neill might say, “Personal Reasons”. Instead a Blue Peter blog will appear, one that I made earlier.

 

8 October (Part 2) - What goes up must come down

Larner Road EstateWhile a new 285 foot structure has come to dominate the Erith skyline, seven 150 foot ones that have marred it for the past 45 years are due to come down, the flats replaced by a similar number of ‘low rise’ houses. Given the reputation of the old Larner Estate that can only be a good thing.

The contract to demolish the old blocks and deliver the new has just gone to Wates. Work will start next March and it will take five years to complete the project.

Unfortunately there are no plans to dynamite the tower blocks. They will come down the hard way.

So the windmill is almost twice the height of the tower blocks!

 

8 October (Part 1) - Bexley council distorts the truth, is it Tongue in Cheek?

Thames Innovation CentreFor new readers; the TIC is the Thames Innovation Centre, “a 100% local authority controlled company” according to Bexley council’s own website. Planned by the previous Labour administration and opened under the Conservatives in 2006, since when it has swallowed shedloads of taxpayers money in an effort to keep the enterprise afloat. Bexley council also places its own business there where possible to help shore it up.

Perhaps its principal claim to fame is that Bexley council publicly demonstrated the calibre of its top management by knowingly employing a suspected paedophile as the TIC manager while mothers and children were attending a baby care business operating within the Centre. Bexley’s managers also took the decision to continue to employ him after his arrest and turned a blind eye to the misdirection of mail by another employee. However someone did lose their job over this appalling exercise in mismanagement; the whistleblower.

Each year more money has been going down the TIC drain. You may read a summary here.

On 6th April 2011, last year, the council was asked at its meeting…


Given that according to their latest available accounts, the Thames Innovation Centre Limited has lost in excess of £470,000 from 2006-2010 and still has the opportunity to draw on £100,000 (interest free for ten years) from Bexley council, would councillor Campbell consider withdrawing the option of this loan facility and using the money freed up to ensure the provision of other front-line services to the residents of the Borough?


…and in what appeared to be a reasonable if somewhat rose-tinted response, deputy council leader Colin Campbell said…

Colin Campbell's statement
The full written reply may be seen here.

So a small profit was made in 2010/11 and a bigger one was expected in the year 2011/12. Hmmm. What happened? What do the accounts for that year say?
TIC accounts
Oh dear. A “small profit” has reverted to the normal loss making position and the debts have become worse. Not much of a forecast by councillor Campbell was it? But it didn’t stop him from singing the TIC’s praises at the Finance Scrutiny Committee meeting last Thursday.

You don’t need a fish-eye lens to get a distorted view of the Thames Innovation Centre, just ask councillor Campbell. Have you ever seen a more incompetent, hopeless, out of touch, pledge breaking, make it up as you go along, back of the envelope, miserable shower? (© Edward Samuel Milliband)

Research by Nicholas Dowling, words by you know who.

 

7 October (Part 2) - Blade runners

Erith wind turbineThe Slade Green turbine is situated in Bexley’s North End ward represented by three Labour councillors. Stefano Borella, Alan Deadman and Brenda Langstead. None live close to the turbine, Borella and Deadman reside in far away Welling.

A Slade Green resident claims to have spoken to one of them and been told they were notified of the coming turbine but decided to “let it go”. So they are as useless outside the council chamber, running away from their responsibilities, as they are within it.

John Kerlen sent me another photo of the Slade Green windmill and while on site he asked a ‘next door’ businessman what he thought about it.

The man complained that he got only a week in which to respond to the consultation not the three that Bexley council’s website would have you believe and already his insurance company has informed him that they will have to recalculate his insurance premium - upwards no doubt.

He believed that another two turbines are planned but as the turbine owners website says “the vast majority of the energy used at the site would be provided by the proposed turbine” and “we are therefore undertaking a range of wind projects on our sites across the UK” it would seem likely that Slade Green will be spared any more desecration by Aggregate Industries.

Readers who are registered with Facebook may wish to take a look at https://www.facebook.com/groups/527904947235320 which I am informed leads to an appropriate Facebook group.

 

7 October (Part 1) - Been there, done that already

The Director, Bexley is BonkersThere has been a marked reduction recently in the number of anonymous messages arriving via that facility on the Contact page and on balance I think that is a good thing. If nothing else, the fact that one cannot thank the sender makes me feel uncomfortable about such contacts; but yesterday the postman delivered an anonymous letter to a rather magnificent addressee.

My address is not difficult to find, it’s in the phone book and on the domain name owner lists and it’s by no means the first time a reader has chosen to communicate in that manner. However I think it is the first that has been anonymous and I'm not sure what the point of it is.

The envelope contained only three pages from the News Shopper dated 29th August 2012 and I am left to guess which articles are to be singled out for attention.

My suspicion is that one is a report on Bexley’s poor OFSTED results which were mentioned on 29th August, 26th September and again last week. Maybe I should have made more of it when the news first broke instead of relying on the link to Will Tuckley’s apology.

Another is likely to be the fact that Bexley council paid compensation to 121 motorists whose vehicles were damaged by potholes. This subject was covered on 24th August and the statistics showed Bexley to be far from worst of the bunch. I have once or twice reported potholes to Bexley council and had them fixed within the hour. There is one developing outside my house right now so maybe I’ll be making another call soon.

The third News Shopper page covers only a failure by Bexleyheath police to attend a serious a crime. I have to remind the reader that this website is called Bexley council is Bonkers and only when the police in some way aid and abet Bexley council’s criminal ambitions should police activity be reported here. I suspect that rule has been occasionally broken but this is not primarily an anti-police website. There are plenty of those already.

Having said that I have been looking for an excuse to bring to your attention…
Nigerian newspaper report…which makes one wonder what Victor Olisa did about PC John Lovegrove who stitched up a black youth in court after being deployed to find a white knife carrier.

One might also wonder why this incident was never covered by the any of the local newspapers.

As usual, click the image for the original report.

 

6 October - Something for the weekend

Opinion Survey by the Electoral Reform Society

Seventy nine minutes after posting a reference to the opinion survey on perceptions of Bexley council came the first query. “Can't find anything about it on the council’s website, what’s it all about?”

I don’t know. it’s a bit of a secret. It was mentioned in the minutes of the June Finance Committee meeting but if there is anything else the bexley.gov search facility doesn’t come up with anything. It’s one of Mrs. Holkham’s projects so don’t expect competence and efficiency.


The Erith wind turbine

Erith wind turbineMaybe David Evenett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, should be concerned about the Erith turbine. John Kerlen sent me this photo taken from his garden in Crayford. He is almost two miles from the flailing giant.

The turbine owner’s website features links to four views of Erith and the surrounding area which carefully manage to avoid showing any of the residential properties.


Bexley council’s new web interface

Bexley council's new web interfaceHere’s something to give you an idea of what Bexley council’s new website will look like. You can get an even better idea by clicking here.

At last a click on the Bexley logo will take you back to the Home page. Unfortunately that is the old site at present, in fact a lot of links currently go back to the old site. Some of the links appear to have ‘issues’ as computer geeks like to call them; I didn’t have much luck with the search facility.

A notable absence today is the A-Z indexing which was present during Thursday evening’s demonstration.

It was a policy decision that the site will be fully usable without having to register on it first. If you do register it will offer the benefit of recognising your details and remembering previous usage when you revisit.

Please try not to break the test site.

 

5 October (Part 2) - Finance Committee meeting

Last night’s meeting was chaired  by councillor Philip Read who once again showed that he is a much better meeting chairman than he is a business man. He asked members to be sure to use their microphones and welcomed me to the meeting. I say “me” because I was the only member of the public present. Possibly councillors Stefano Borella, Alan Deadman and Mike Slaughter might hold a different opinion of Read’s chairmanship skills as they were all slapped down for posing agenda based questions which Read said fell outside his committee’s remit.

Teresa O'Neill's false claimCouncillor Borella lost no time in referring to the “appalling” OFSTED report and this was echoed by a number of voices, the chairman’s included. It was revealed that the council has allocated £1 million to put things right and councillor Mike Slaughter wanted to know “what are we doing to make sure we are not caught out again”. Director Paul Moore confirmed that “we all feel uncomfortable about [the] OFSTED [failure]” and the Director of Finance, Mike Ellsmore, said the money was coming from a strategic reserve. Councillor Slaughter did not get a clear answer to his question but there is to be a report to Cabinet at its meeting on 16th October.

One might wonder what council leader Teresa O’Neill was doing telling the electorate in her recent publication that “Bexley’s services continue to be praised as excellent or outstanding”. If you are, wonder no more. She was lying again.

There is a survey about what people think of Bexley council going on at present. Councillor Colin Tandy said “what people think of the council is among the most important things”. He is right, it may see him out of office. Mrs. Maureen Holkham (Deputy Director, Corporate Policy) said the survey was aiming to get between 1,000 and 2,000 responses. So far it was a little short of 1,000.

Progress towards achievement of this year’s Strategy 2014 budget savings was said to be 16% “completed” and 42% “going well”.

Councillor Borella asked if the £2,614,000 of savings to come from the “Modernisation of Learning Disability Services” wasn’t too ambitious. “Staff terms and conditions were being cut by 40%” he said. “Those people will not be able to spend in local shops and a downward spiral would begin.” The implication was that it would come back to bite the council.

Councillor Campbell said the problem was with the contractor, MCCH. They were uncompetitive due to their own mismanagement and the staff cuts were their fault.

The subject moved on to council staffing levels and councillor Steven Hall asked how many new job appointments were from external recruits. The officers did not know. Councillor Deadman said he understood that negotiations with other nearby authorities to share some services had failed that very afternoon. Director Paul Moore confirmed that the proposed share with Bromley was now “on hold and probably not going to move forward”.

The cabinet member for Finance then gave his report. I know from my postbag that councillor Campbell is deeply unpopular in Bexley but he does know how to rise to the occasion at a meeting, if, I suppose I should add, your politics tend to the right.

The Woolwich/Tesco arrangements are all on schedule and likely to be finally wrapped up next month. 240 “odd” school children came out of nowhere in August alone putting further strain on various budgets. Business rate arrangements are changing but the government always wants to nick them and give Bexley a bad deal. No one ever pays backs crisis loans and the Thames Innovation Centre is a beacon of excellence. “72% occupancy despite the recession.” “Complaints handling in some departments remains extremely patchy” and “I'm only wearing a tie this evening because I have had to come direct from another meeting”.

Council Tax support is being reduced from next April; every council has to draw up its own scheme. Bexley says everyone will have to pay at least 15% of the council tax instead of nothing in some cases under the present arrangements. The change will be phased in over three years 5% at a time. They also proposed reducing any back dating of relief from six months to one. Teresa Pearce MP joined others in saying this was a bit draconian and a compromise three months has been adopted.

Bexley council’s complaints and FOI answering is as councillor Campbell said “patchy” and their procedures are to get a top to toe make-over headed by Suzanne Lloyd who is new to the job. Several councillors asked questions about numbers to which the answer to all but one of them was the delightfully vague “about 50%” which may or may not have been coincidental. For example “about 50% [of FOIs] came from Bexley residents, a small number from bloggers and the rest from commercial organisations”. Bloggers? Really? Those I know of locally make hardly any.

Councillor Steven Hall provoked an answer which wasn’t 50. It was said that only 80% of FOIs are answered within the statutory time limits and “this must rise to 95%”.

The only divergence from what was a well conducted meeting was in agenda item 10. ‘Impact of the Economic Downturn’. The Labour councillors wanted to make the point that “it was caused by the ConDems” to which councillor Colin Tandy replied “No, it was all caused by your lot”. Chairman Read wisely soon put the lid on that argument and we went on to hear that compared to surrounding areas Bexley is not doing too badly.

Bexley websiteThe final subject and to me the most interesting was a preview of Bexley council’s new website. Teresa O’Neill may go on about how wonderful the current one is but I was pleased to note that some councillors agree with me. The word “appalling” was used to describe some aspects. The responsible council officer gave a more technical critique which amounted to the same thing. Great chunks of unwanted white space and far too much scrolling. The new design will put Bexley among the better London borough sites while at present I am tempted to say it is the worst. It certainly has the ugliest front page.

The first phase will go live early next year with all the common services available via the redesigned web interface and a second phase will bring other abominations like Public Access into the fold. At long last the latter will be given a sensible name.

During this discussion councillor Howard Marriner asked about the council’s use of Twitter. “How many followers does the council have?” True to form Mrs. Holkham didn’t know. A more quick witted Deputy Director might have suggested he go to https://twitter.com/bexleycomms and read the number (currently) 822. Unfortunately both Howard and Mike Slaughter had earlier expressed a certain amount of reluctance to use a computer.

Precisely two hours after he started, councillor Philip Read wound up the meeting. Winding up business is something in which he can claim a certain amount of expertise.

 

5 October (Part 1) - Turbine winds everyone up

Erith wind turbineI was early to the Finance Committee meeting last night - report coming later - and a small number of councillors were there chatting among themselves. One pair of Conservatives were discussing the Erith turbine. They didn’t know it was coming either and made a slightly disparaging remark about the Planning Committee not being involved.

One had written to the Planning Department and was waving the reply in the air saying that all the local politicians had been consulted, the three ward councillors plus MPs Teresa Pearce and David Evenett. The Conservative councillor was all smiles while reporting that Teresa (see penultimate paragraph) and the unnamed (Labour) councillors hadn’t bothered to respond. It seemed likely that he was quoting from his response letter.

The talkative councillor went on to suggest that the turbine didn’t really matter as it was a Labour area and implied there was no electoral risk. The usual treatment for that area from a councillor who doesn’t live anywhere near it.

Labour councillors are no more likely to be willing to discuss the issue with me than Tories but Teresa Pearce will provide a welcoming ear when asked, so I disturbed her breakfast.

Teresa confirmed she offered no comment but only because she wasn’t consulted and presumably is as surprised as everyone else about the arrival of the turbine. She reminded me that the turbine is just outside her constituency, it’s on David Evenett’s Bexleyheath and Crayford patch. I surmised that she wasn’t best pleased to have her name inaccurately bandied about the council chamber. The Planning Department has subsequently confirmed that at no time was Teresa Pearce MP consulted about the eyesore a few yards beyond her political doorstep.

I think the way to settle the matter is to FOI the Planning Department’s letter to the councillor. Where’s Mr. Barnbrook when you need him?

 

4 October - Slade Green. Bexley council’s dumping ground - Click any image for photo gallery (4 images)

Bexley cabs yellow sign Slade Green wind turbine Slade Green wind turbineBexley council has said that the 285 foot high wind turbine which appeared a few hundred yards east of Erith town centre last week was the subject of a consultation. According to a council statement “Consultation did take place but not as far away as where Mr. Saunders [featured in a News Shopper report] lives, as there is no requirement to do so. A site notice was also displayed”.

Having made a visit to the site this morning I have to say there are not many houses closer to the turbine than Mr. Saunders’ address. The first turbine photograph was taken from the next road along from Mr. Saunders’.

Bexley council has also said that “a site notice was also displayed”. The site is down a road occupied by trade premises. Close though it is to their homes, there is no reason for any local resident to go there.

I searched the planning committee agendas for April and May this year and the word turbine appears only once - on another site and the idea was rejected. A call to Bexley council found a helpful young lady who told me that was correct, it was a ‘nod through job’ by one, Mark Watling. She had had enough enquiries to know everything pretty much off by heart and gave me the planning application number. It is 12/00230/FUL.

An examination of the on line files shows a consultation dated 5th April 2012 with a last date for comments three weeks later. On 22nd May 2012 Mr. Mark Watling took the decision to blight the Erith skyline and take ten thousand pounds or so off the value of each and every house in the immediate vicinity. Contrary to what I read on some News Shopper readers’ comments, and perhaps my own expectations, the nearby houses were rather nice and very far from being run down slums.

I don’t trust Bexley council when it comes to consultations. I and all my neighbours were mysteriously not consulted about Abbey Road when Bexley council insisted they had consulted with all nearby addresses so I have asked Mr. Barnbrook to do us all a favour. Submit a Freedom of Information request for a copy of all the consultation documents, the addresses (roads) to which they were distributed plus a breakdown of the approval and objection figures. Additionally all noise assessment reports. Perhaps he will send it in a brown envelope.

Down in Bexley village businesses aren’t allowed to put up so much as a brightly coloured advertisement but in Erith it is OK to erect a turbine in the middle of an urban area without, apparently, any councillor being consulted.

Bexley council’s on line planning application portal can be notoriously difficult to find, which is why a link is available from the Bonkers’ Home page. See Links>Council and it is the last item on the list.

 

3 October (Part 4) - Freedom of Information Requests - update

A number of outstanding FOIs have been answered within the last few days although I would be the first to admit they may not be of universal interest. If you are seeking lighter fare, best come back another day, but two of the answered FOIs have been previously reported and a relatively satisfactory outcome should not be ignored.

Action to be taken should a councillor be guilty of a criminal offence - FOI request
There was a meeting of the Standards Committee on 28th June and at the end of it the Deputy Director of Legal Services answered one of Mr. Michael Barnbrook’s - he doesn’t give up does he? - questions by saying he had sought government advice on the subject. I don’t remember the exact words used but I did hear something said to that effect. As it has become a contentious issue I contacted two other witnesses to that exchange who confirmed my recollection. However when Mr. Barnbrook asked for a copy of the letter it wasn’t forthcoming.

A similar request to the Government recipient was met with the answer that there was no trace of it.

Mick went back to Bexley council to complain that his earlier FOI omitted to supply Legal Services’ letter. Their reply makes the situation very clear.


The response made by the London Borough of Bexley, 7th August, provided the link to the letter received from Mr. Bob Neill MP. Neither Mr. Akin Alabi, Head of Legal Services, nor any other Officer within Legal Services wrote to or communicated with Mr. Bob Neill MP or the Government on this matter. Therefore, no copy of a letter can be provided in response to your request.


So that wraps that one up. Whether Mr. Barnbrook, myself and two others all misunderstood what the Deputy Director said or it was an excuse made up at the time we shall never know. Next…

Councillor’s timesheets - FOI request

According to a recent publication, councillors in Tower Hamlets have to submit timesheets to show that they have put in the hours that enable them to claim their councillors’ allowance.

Why do Bexley Council not have any similar procedure in place in order to prevent fraud?


The slightly abbreviated answer was…


The requirement for Councillors in Bexley to sign in and out of meetings was discontinued many years ago, following advice from Central Government.

Councillors are required by legislation to attend meetings of the Authority and the sanction for non-attendance after a prescribed period is the removal of that Councillor from the Authority, unless the reason for their absence has been approved by the Authority before the expiry of that period.


It all seems fair enough to me but should perhaps be viewed in conjunction with the next answer.

Where’s Peter Craske? - FOI request

At a recent full council meeting, Teresa O’Neill, Leader of the Council, in answer to a question from a member of the public, stated that Councillor Peter Craske had resigned from the Council Cabinet for personal reasons.

Since resigning, Councillor Craske has not attended two recent ward surgeries. Is Councillor Craske still representing me as my ward councillor?

If so, please provide details of all duties, including attending internal council meetings, ward meetings, ward surgeries and other ward activities carried out by him since resigning from the Cabinet.


The question was answered in a straight forward manner. Here’s a summary…


Prior to his resignation as a Cabinet Member, Councillor Peter Craske did not serve on any Council Committee, therefore, since his resignation, he has not been required to attend any formal Council meetings, other than the meeting of the Full Council on Wednesday 18 July 2012, for which he was unable to attend.

Ward surgeries and other activities by Ward Councillors are not events that are recorded or monitored by the Authority.


There was never likely to be any other sort of response. Peter Craske remains a councillor and hasn’t done a thing towards earning his £9,418 a year since attending the council meeting on May 16th. It’s a fact and nothing can be done about it.

Craske's presentationCraske failed to show for his ‘Broadway presentation’ at the Public Realm meeting on 21st June 2012 too, coincidentally the day that a 42 year old from Sidcup was arrested for Misconduct in Public Office.

So that’s another question neatly wrapped up by Bexley council?

True; and Craske’s next opportunity to make an appearance is the council meeting scheduled for 7th November. If he doesn’t show his face there he will be in danger of being an absentee councillor for six whole months and the answer to the second FOI should come into play. “The sanction for non-attendance after a prescribed period is the removal of that Councillor from the Authority.”

Perhaps council leader Teresa O’Neill will have read the News Shopper’s report by then and realise the ‘Personal Reasons’ excuse is wearing a little thin.

 

3 October (Part 3) - Negotiations in progress

Dept. for Communities web pageFollowing the changes announced by the Communities Department which came into force on 10th September John Kerlen lost no time in requesting permission to video a council meeting. Each to his own, I can think of few things worse than witnessing a council meeting more than once.

Bexley council was equally quick off the mark to say that what Eric Pickles might wish for has no bearing on what happens in London’s most secretive borough.

I tried a lower key approach than John Kerlen’s and on 6th September submitted proposals to Bexley council. I said I did not plan to bring video or audio recording equipment to their meetings, neither would I use Twitter but I would like to be able to take the occasional photograph. The relevant paragraph was…


I do not expect to be threatened with arrest for bringing a camera into the council chamber again as has happened previously. I frequently carry a camera and will in future do so when attending council meetings. However I would not expect to use it during a meeting except in the most exceptional circumstances. I have in mind things like a fire alarm, police presence or the expulsion of a member of the public. I might occasionally wish to use a camera before the meeting to set the overall scene inside the chamber but only with an ultra wide angle lens. I would not feel comfortable aiming a long lens at individual councillors and do not expect to do so. It might not be necessary to take 'scene setters' more than a handful of times, too many and they would all look the same. I would never use flash and in all probability the novelty of photography would soon wear off and not become the norm.


Cabinet meetingIt has provoked an interesting correspondence which is not yet concluded. The response included the council’s usual diatribe a version of which is trotted out by all their worst chairmen at their meetings…

“The Council has an agreed protocol on behaviour at meetings. The protocol was agreed by the Council on 14 April 2010 (†) and requires permission from the Mayor/Chairman for any audio or visual recording of proceedings. This protocol is consistent with recently issued Regulations. Nothing in these Regulations requires a decision-making body to permit the taking of photographs of any proceedings or the recording of any proceedings.”

As bad and as unmoving that Bexley’s standard reply may appear to be the correspondence is not entirely inflexible. A compromise cannot yet be ruled out. Watch this space.

† It was 2011 actually. Photograph pre-dates council ban on photography

 

3 October (Part 2) - Another appointment for the diary

Mick Barnbrook of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group (BCMG) has received a copy of Will Tuckley’s diary for May, or to be precise, a typed transcript of the alleged entries. They are much the same as for June so barely worthy of detailed analysis.

Mick, needless to say, is not happy to be palmed off with anything other than a photocopy of the original document so he has proposed an alternative to going back to the Information Commissioner with another complaint; he wants to be given a quick look at the original document.

I feel I should offer Mick some friendly advice. Invitations to the council offices to inspect documents run the risk of one of the resident idiots resorting to criminal acts. Stay within the public areas Michael.

 

3 October (Part 1) - I nearly forgot…

Daily Telegraph report Abbey Road floodI had planned to give Bexley council credit in the September roundup for putting right one wrong and possibly attempting to fix the regular marooning of householders in Abbey Road, Belvedere. I don’t go looking for Bexley good news stories but if I report bad news I prefer it to be accurate.

The ticket issued to a helpful bus driver on 14th September, subsequently reported in the Daily Telegraph) see left), was rescinded once the News Shopper got hold of the story.

The 25 year old flood in Abbey Road may have been fixed. Three weeks after the photos appeared on Bonkers, F.M. Conway dug a trench in that stretch of road and laid a 25 cm. (or thereabouts) plastic tube. I’ve not see the road flood since.

Credit where credit is due.

Note: The repair was short lived. The road floods again.

 

2 October (Part 3) - Parking fines. Exposing Bexley’s dishonesty. (Episode 3)

Tippett and Craske“In your letter you stated that you were unaware that a loading restriction was in force because the kerb stripes were faded and the sign was obscured. Whilst we have noted your comments and the circumstances described in your letter, it is the responsibility of the motorist to ensure they are parked in accordance with all applicable restrictions.”

So said Bexley council on 17th August 2009 when dismissing the disabled former policeman’s appeal against his parking fine. So he photographed the evidence which Civil Enforcement Officer BL286 said he had recorded in his notebook and sent it to Bexley council. On 16th September a demand for payment of £120 was issued with a threat to increase it to £180 if no payment was forthcoming within 28 days, which prompted a letter to Greg Tippett, one of Bexley council’s Parking Managers and an ‘Authorised Officer’.

A week later the fine was cancelled.


Fine cancelled
“The reason for cancellation is that we have cancelled it.” Not much of a reason is it? Why didn’t they come out with truth? ‘We ignored you twice in a concerted attempt to pervert the course of justice, we conspired as best we could to defraud you but we failed and we are sorry to have been caught out.’

The policeman saw things much the same way too and so began the two and a half year battle to get Bexley council to admit that it pays no regard to justice or the law. In this case the Road Traffic Acts. More to come…

This story is reported in an indeterminate number of episodes. A cumulative version is provided for convenience.

 

2 October (Part 2) - P362 LOY and GJ60 EPX. Road blockheads - Click any image for photo gallery (4 images)

How thick are you? Very! Carrill Way. Belvedere Carrill Way. Belvedere Police warningSome ten or more years ago, long before Peter Craske’s reign of parking terror and Teresa O’Neill’s local government by lies, Bexley council asked residents in my own and adjacent roads if we would like to have yellow lines and a Controlled Parking Zone. Abbey Wood station is only seven minutes walk away and parking restrictions were to be introduced there with the consequential danger of displacement of commuter’s cars.

The majority was wise enough to realise it would be just an excuse to ticket residents for minor acts of forgetfulness and to levy an annual tax. They said “No thanks”.

There is still no commuter parking problem in my own road although the next road along does get filled up. It may not be much of a problem if the drivers have an ounce of sense. Unfortunately some don’t. I was alerted to the fact that Carrill Way which is the only access to my address was blocked this morning. A Vauxhall Meriva got through by using the straight line route beginning on the pathway with an inch or two to spare on each side but the Post Office van which arrived after a police car occupied the pavement decided not to take the risk.

PC 635RY Finch used his initiative and some muscle and heaved the old Honda Civic along for three or four feet and left warning messages on the windscreens of both cars. He should have done the Honda owner for having a defective handbrake.

Maybe this self-indulgent blog will teach the drivers to use their eyes in future and what little brain they may have.

 

2 October (Part 1) - Diary of a thousand a day man

Will TuckleyWhen Will Tuckley’s business appointments diary for May failed to show up by the end of June another Freedom of Information request went in, this time for June’s appointments. The first unanswered request was eventually referred to the Information Commissioner and the second became the subject of a formal complaint to Bexley council. Last Friday, Bexley council responded, not with a photocopy of a few June diary pages or its electronic equivalent, but a carefully typed and presumably edited list of activities. They include everything from complete days away from the office to telephone calls.

There were 21 ’working’ days in June of which two were bank holidays and another four on which Mr. Tuckley took annual leave, leaving 15 days in which to earn his £19,542 a month of benefits. What did he do?

Well for three days he took himself away to the Local Government Association’s annual conference to be wined and dined at our expense and did nothing for the borough and at the other extreme three half hour telephone calls are listed, one to his own Deputy Director of Human Resources. Six hours, including a couple for travelling, were spent on NHS matters. Another six hours were spent talking to the council leader.

The longest appointments were a meeting of Chief Executives at the the Guildhall in the City (2·5 hours) and a Management Board meeting in Bexley (4 hours).

The total hours listed in the 15 days in the office was 45 of which the busiest single day was 7·5 hours of engagements. A tough month I am sure you will agree.

Presumably there would additionally be some run of the mill phone calls to answer and a few letters to read but he does have an outer office to protect him from that sort of stuff as anyone who has ever tried to contact the Chief Executive will know.

I’m not convinced of the usefulness of this diary exercise. No one stuck at a local authority desk or attending the occasional conference will ever prove he is worth a crust of that thickness, no matter how busy a diary says he may be. £234,507 a year for running a monopoly dictatorship is simply unjustifiable. If he was stuck in some Afghanistan hell hole under fire from bullets and RPGs then one might begin to understand it but - now there’s an idea. Beats pitchforks and flaming torches every time.

 

1 October (Part 6) - Craske looking for a new home?

Grant Blowers on TwitterCouncillor CraskeGrant Blowers, former Bexley Labour councillor for Lesnes ward, has taken himself off to the Labour Party Conference and made a startling discovery.

Come on Grant, you know what you’ve got to ask him. Will he back in time for his Saturday surgery in Blackfen.

I used to think that Grant Blowers was the collective noun for a group of local politicians, now I learn it is only one man.

 

1 October (Part 5) - Four months to answer an FOI. What do you expect for £230k. a year?

The Information Commissioner has today told Bexley council that it must accede to Bexley Council Monitoring Group’s Freedom of Information request for a copy of Chief Executive Will Tuckley’s business appointments diary for May 2012. They have been given ten days to run it through the photocopier.

 

1 October (Part 4) - Another day ten minutes in court

The not so derelict garden The not so derelict garden The not so derelict gardenI was at Bexley Magistrates Court again this morning for the next stage of Rita Grootendorst’s appeal against Bexley council’s Section 215 notice. It was all over in fewer than 15 minutes and the council were told to have their trial bundle ready by the 15th. Mr. Wong, the council’s legal officer, said he would try to get one ready. The court officer said “try doesn’t come into it”.

To some extent the hearing seemed to be a waste of time that could have been sorted out on the telephone but I did learn something.

Mr. David Bryce-Smith, constantly referred to by Mr. Wong as a very senior council officer, had authorised the investigation into Rita’s garden and signed the documents sent to her without authority to do so. He lacked the “delegated powers” apparently. It was said in court that he had issued a large number of Section 215s without possessing the necessary powers - “over 100” was mentioned.

This illegal act has been retrospectively put right by providing Bryce-Smith with the necessary power. Some sort of pen waving exercise I expect and very likely it will now have no effect on the case. However the point is that once again Bexley council has been acting outside the law and with the top five managers sharing nearly a million pounds a year in salaries and perks one would expect rather better.

 

1 October (Part 3) - Bexley council steps out of line on bedroom sharing

The petitionLast Thursday councillor Chris Ball was obviously disturbed by the thought that Bexley council planned to make young people of the same sex share social housing bedrooms until aged 21. “It’s what the standard allows” said council officer David Bryce-Smith and went on in a reply to councillor Stefano Borella to say it was a Bexley imposed rule.

On Saturday morning I half heard a comment on BBC Radio 4 which indicated that sharing up to age 21 might be as unacceptable as councillor Ball and most other people would believe it to be.

It wasn’t hard to find confirmation that 21 is not the norm or maybe not even legal. The extract from the legislation shown is from the National Housing Association.

Perhaps councillor Chris Ball should ask his question again.


Guardian newspaper report.

 

1 October (Part 2) - Bexley council publishes the confirmation. It is stuffed full of overpaid liars

The petition
Do you remember Elwyn Bryant’s petition? He took up the Conservative Government’s idea of a £100,000 cap on salary packages at the Local Government level and collected 2,219 signatures after drawing residents’ attention to the excessive salaries being paid to Bexley’s top brass. Bexley council got very upset by that; liar O’Neill didn’t want to talk about it at all but the Labour leader Chris Ball said he thought salaries should be even higher. The pay of the Head of the Civil Service would be a reasonable benchmark according to his good socialist principles. When cornered at the Boris Johnson roadshow Teresa O’Neill excused the massive handouts by saying they represented very good value for money. She ordered a press release under the title ‘Setting the record straight’ to say Elwyn’s figures were all wrong - even though he had copied them from the council’s own website.

Bexley's press releaseBexley council put its Head of Committee Services under pressure to find an excuse to put the petition straight into the bin and they found a useful idiot in the shape of councillor Don Massey to rubberstamp their offence against democracy. They thought they had got away with their lies, but eventually the truth comes out.

Only a truly crooked and dishonest organisation would feel the need to create such a farce in the first place. The decent and upstanding thing to do would be to respond factually and let reasonable people make up their own minds, but of course that is not Bexley council’s way. Their way is always the dishonest, undemocratic, shameful and self-serving way.

A council built on deception has to control the agenda or they will be constantly caught out, hence the bundle of lies designed to prevent it.

Desperate to discredit the petition and try to snuff out the story their most scathing comment claimed that “the petition is inaccurate and misleading”. Well I suppose, in a manner of speaking, it was.

The petitioners copied figures from the council’s website and claimed the following salary packages:


The Chief Executive, Will Tuckley £208,983
Mark Charters, Director of Education & Social Care £167,343
Peter Ellershaw, Director of Environment & Wellbeing £167,343
Mike Ellsmore, Director of Finance & Resources £136,617
Paul Moore, Director of Customer & Corporate Services £136,617


The 2011/12 Bexley accounts (pages 64-65) show that the actual amounts for 2011-12 were:


Will Tuckley £234,507
Mark Charters £184,201
Peter Ellershaw £206,072
Mike Ellsmore £150,383
Paul Moore £154,297


Maureen HolkhamIs it any wonder that these executives did not want their pay packages discussed? These are obscene and out of control amounts. A mere five individuals costing residents just shy of a million pounds every single year. No wonder the country is in dire financial straits.

And who do you think is responsible for the Communications team and ‘Setting the record straight’? If I had to guess it has all the hallmarks of the bumbling (†) Maureen Holkham, the Deputy Director of Corporate Policy & Communications who is so good with numbers generally; and perhaps John Ferry pitched in too as he is the Corporate Communications manager. Quelle surprise, people working at Bexley council are again shown to be demonstrably dishonest. They just never seem to learn, do they?

† I have seen papers which show that Maureen Holkham signed off a lie which secured the dismissal of a whistle blower. The documents were of a technical nature. It’s not impossible given the intellect displayed at council meetings, that Ms. Holkham didn’t understand what she was putting her name to.


Research and original draft report by Nicholas Dowling

 

1 October (Part 1) - How was that one slipped by us?

The Erith wind turbineThey say these things can spring up overnight and apparently its true. Hugh Neal reports on his Erith blog that a 500kW wind turbine appeared at the end of his garden - almost - last Friday. No one seems to have seen it coming. No reports in the News Shopper and none in the Bexley Times either. Obviously I am not keeping a close enough eye on the Planning Committee agenda. 500 kWatts should power quite a good number of flaming torches.

Yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph reported that last week more than 50% of our electricity came from coal fired power stations and only 1·3% from wind but in six months time coal fired plant able to deliver 20% of our needs is to be closed under an EU directive. Perhaps every back garden needs a wind turbine. Perhaps the country needs a politician with a brain.

Photograph © Hugh Neal. (Arthur Pewty’s maggot sandwich).

 

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