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Bonkers Blog June 2016

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30 June - Don’t give Teresa O’Neill more power today

TweetIf Teresa O’Neill’s 45:18 majority is maintained by the voters of St. Michael’s today she will take it as a signal that she is further empowered to take Bexley on its downward path. It is her constant boast in Council when making cuts that it is what residents voted for. Tell her Bexley deserves a new approach; and fewer blatant lies and persecution of critics wouldn’t be such a bad thing either.

It will be interesting to see if Bexley Conservatives can come up with anything at all (see Tweet) that they have improved since they were last elected. It can never come close to what they have made worse.

Road cleaning has been slashed, recycling centres have gone part time, street litter collections halved, grass verges uncut, fallen leaves no longer swept up, more yellow box junctions with cameras, street lights turned off, Danson Park Festival cancelled using an excuse now proved to be untrue, Belvedere Splash Park closed blaming an organism not found there, public toilets sold, no more roadside trees, free garden waste collection cancelled, dog fouling warden sacked, Sidcup Manor House closed, four parks up for sale, nature reserves for the chop, roadside weeds not sprayed, parking restrictions to go 24/7 and Erith fire station lost an engine (a Bexley Councillor voted it through the GLA).

 

29 June (Part 2) - Yellow lines proliferate

It’s four months since Bexley Council last announced it was going to paint another tranche of roads yellow. It has got to squeeze some more money out of residents somehow. The list of road names appears below.

I’m hoping that the Abbey Road changes will correct the anomaly at its junction with Fossington Road and where buses can't get around corners, otherwise God help Abbey Wood. It has already lost about half of its parking spaces and seen free spaces switch to £4.20 for two hours as Bexley Council capitalizes on the Crossrail works. It is still refusing to offer any help to beleaguered traders.
Yellow lines

 

29 June (Part 1) - And about time too

ConstitutionBetter late than never. Click image for report.

Previous HMO blog.

 

28 June - Advantage, Bexley Council. No love for residents

So you thought I took the day off yesterday? Not really. The updating of the Councillors’ jobs list took a big chunk out of the day and it should have been done a month ago. And then Bexley’s Constitutional Review Panel was reconvening in the evening after a three year interval. It consists of the Leader and her Deputy, three more Conservatives and one Councillor each from UKIP and Labour. UKIP didn’t put in an appearance. Maybe they are still celebrating somewhere.

The Panel wasn’t expecting an audience. There were no Agendas available and no Press Table. The former was put right quite quickly, the latter wasn’t.

ConstitutionThe meeting of September 2013 was a much more interesting event as the main issue was whether or not Bexley Council would allow photography in the chamber. How quaint that seems now. A few pictures have not made the sky fall in as some Councillors feared but allowing audio and video recording has brought about big changes. Conservative bully boys no longer frequently indulge in their brand of hooliganism at Council meetings. Shame really. It was much more fun back then.

Before the Panel got around to Constitutional changes it looked at its Contract Procedures. This was over and done with in just under five minutes. All the proposals were accepted.

The Constitutional Review Panel sits to put forward its ideas to the Full Council and the Constitution is designed to not only regulate meetings but ensure that everything is geared towards the governing party always getting its own way.

One of the longer discussions was about how best to remove disruptive members of the public from meetings. As far as I know, the last time Bexley Council’s own stupidity led to that situation was in June 2013 ten weeks before the Panel last met. Probably the Panel didn’t realise at the time what Councillor Cheryl Bacon’s actions and subsequent lies would lead to.

The present situation with that case is that the Crown Prosecution Service has been considering charging Cheryl Bacon (Chairman of that meeting) and former Chief Executive Will Tuckley with Misconduct in Public Office. They have had the file for seven or eight months and don’t know how to handle it. They must know the evidence against both of them is solid but on the other hand they know a charge would be hugely embarrassing and would hit the headlines. So they do nothing instead.

Another of the longer debates was about petitions. Bexley Council’s petitions scheme is run under the provisions of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2010. That Act was overtaken by the Localism Act of 2011 which does not make any provision for petitions at all - so councils could abandon petitions, and some have.

The Panel has chosen to recommend the continuation of Bexley’s petition scheme unchanged. There is obviously no need to withdraw it as they have set up good defences. Any they deem “inappropriate will not be accepted” and those that are will be disregarded. History shows that every petition, no matter how big, has been thrown out, so there is no need to change things. The Council Leader said that she wanted to continue with petitions because it gave the appearance of being “open and transparent”.

While browsing the Agenda I noticed something I really should have spotted before. There are now only three Council meetings a year at which members of the public can answer questions. It used to be four.
Three
That’s a whole 45 minutes a year for the public to question Bexley Council. Open and transparent? Pull the other one Teresa.

 

26 June (Part 2) - Land forgotten and land forfeited

Lesnes LesnesAs was to be expected now that the Lesnes Abbey landscaping contractor has gone bust, nothing much happened with the £4·2 million park regeneration this week. The pond viewing platform is gradually disappearing beneath the weeds - and Photo 2 is a week old - but some more rusty ironmongery has made an appearance in Abbey Road. So that's more than a month with no progress. Bexley Council has yet to announce what the problem is, only BiB has done that.

Network Rail has done rather better. Two weeks ago the new Dartford bound platform barely existed but now it is almost a continuous twelve car length.

Similarly, two weeks ago the southern station ‘wing’ which is destined to be a shop wasn’t there at all. Now it is just a concrete pour away from being a completed shell. However it’s not good news for everyone.


Crossrail CrossrailOn Thursday afternoon while taking photos from the flyover a young lady asked me if I was the official photographer. Anyone not using a phone to take pictures these days is assumed to be a professional. Once we established that I am nothing to do with Crossrail she told me what had happened to her that morning. She said two Network Rail officials had knocked on her door to tell her that they were going to take “another two metres” (†) from what remains of her back garden.

From the lady’s description I think the two photos show the house which she owns. Click image for a better view.

She has been getting very little light and now gets less. Recently the piling within feet of her property caused structural damage, hopefully superficial but nevertheless worrying. For this latest land grab there was no prior notice, no consultation and no compensation. Next day half her small patch of land was gone. Today I saw the French doors open, there was only just sufficient space.

Last Tuesday I heard several people complaining about the arrogance of Crossrail officials who have the power of the Crossrail Act 2008 behind them. The lady on the flyover did nothing to reassure anyone that they were wrong.

The two weekly Crossrail photo feature has been ‘signed off’. It’s a big one to reflect the amount of work done. 158 pictures and 17MB. Another one starting soon.

† It looks more like two feet and it is possible that the grab is temporary during the construction phase only.

 

26 June (Part 1) - Bexley the Black Bag Borough

They cut down on litter collections, the green bins issued now are smaller than they used to be and they charge more than any other borough for extra collections. Is anyone surprised at the end result in Tory Bexley?

Rubbish Notice CCTVClose to Abbey Wood station at a place I pass every day, usually more than once, it is rare not to see a pile of black bags. Danny Hackett, the Lesnes Abbey ward Councillor dutifully requests a collection, they are taken away next day and within minutes, literally in one case I observed, the bags are back again. Locals blame the nearby brothel but it’s hard to believe that any single premises can produce so much rubbish.

The problem is particularly severe in this location because several of the nearby flats and shops have no space to keep a bin but Bexley Council has refused to accommodate their needs, instead it has put up three new notices. None of them are where the rubbish is being dumped.

The notices refer to CCTV surveillance. A fat lot of good that will do; the cameras are at the top of a very tall pole and the view of the ground is totally obscured by trees.

Those cameras were installed to monitor the Harrow Manorway flyover after Bexley Council installed bus lanes on it without legal justification in year 2000. I have the letter that confirms they were put in to control parking and not to speed buses on their way. That is why the poles are so tall, to oversee the illegal fly over bus lanes which collected how much revenue would you think? Absolutely nothing! (Source: Bexley Council’s annual parking reports.)

Click Photo 3 and see if you can spot the dome camera.

 

25 June - Passions run high

I have discovered a way of getting into more trouble than reporting evidence of a noisy party at a Bexley Councillor’s house, it is to blatantly take sides during the build up to an election or referendum. BiB took up a very obvious pro-Brexit position and an anti-Conservative one for St. Michael’s. No one will be surprised at the latter, Bexley Council needs something to give it a kick up the backside before they become as distant from the population at large as the two big parties have nationally. The leaders of both are probably now all too well aware of that. Teresa O’Neil is still spouting, ‘I’m in charge’ at every opportunity.

Failing to sit on the fence provoked comment from all three parties represented in Bexley. Conservatives asked favours, so did both UKIP and Labour but the latter also expressed their dismay in the strongest of polite tones when they believed I had gone beyond BiB’s remit, as if there is one written in stone. Political passions run high.

As a result of that exchange of views one of the blogs posted during the past two weeks was an attempt to redress the alleged imbalance. I wasn’t proud of it at the time and looking back on it I still have misgivings about whether it was wise to post it. Maybe you can guess which one it was, it demonstrated to me that it would be all too easy to be ’bought’ by vested interests.

BigotFortunately nothing I heard of in Bexley sunk to the level seen nationally. There was silliness and misuse of statistics on both sides of the EU debate and sheer idiocy from George Osborne and his Treasury pals and perhaps that was to be expected. However I was sickened by the poisonous bile spewed out on Twitter against Brexiteers, some of it from sources I thought I knew well. Apparently I’m a racist and voting OUT is racist. Maybe I am pre-programmed in the ‘wrong’ direction but I didn’t see its counterpart.

I read Boris Johnson’s German history lesson in the Sunday Telegraph at seven o’clock in the morning of publication and didn’t falter for a moment as I absorbed his words. Hours later it was being reported widely that he was supporting Nazis. I read his article again and still couldn’t see a problem. Maybe others took things out of context. I listened twice to Michael Gove’s recent faux-pas too and couldn’t really see what all the fuss was about.

It was in the middle 1950s as a very young teenager that I began to lean towards the political right, long before I was in any serious way politically aware. The reason was simple, I thought that people who would scrawl ‘TORIES OUT’ on so many brick walls must be bad people. Good ones don’t deface walls. Good ones do not spew bile on Twitter either.

The same poisonous stuff has been seen since the referendum result became clear except that it is coming from the Neanderthal element of those who voted LEAVE. I don’t mean the sizeable number of jokers who said they were never going to drink in a Weatherspoons pub again - the fact that I bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner yesterday is sheer coincidence - but those who are frightening immigrants and sickening me again.

I told one this morning that he had nothing to worry about if he is here legally and not in trouble with the law. There is no way he will be kicked out, it would not be the British way of doing things and decent British people wouldn’t stand for it despite what that idiot Tim Farron the Lib Dem leader was saying on LBC yesterday while I was stuck in the Blackwall Tunnel queue. Iain Dale the presenter took him apart big time.

So having gone all political in recent weeks, would I do it again? Well despite getting my knuckles rapped I don’t see how BiB can turn back and while Teresa O’Neill leads Bexley Council guessing which party will not be supported won’t be difficult, not that I have entirely lost sight of my Conservative inclinations. Generous as always, I am hoping that the Conservative spokesman on Parliamentary affairs for Erith and Thamesmead can rest easy now that her party leader has announced what we already knew. That he is not the right man to lead this country.

 

24 June (Part 2) - No peace for the wicked

They may have taken today off but tomorrow local politicians will be tramping the mean streets of St. Michael’s, for next Thursday there is to be a by-election there. The choice is between the parties that voted to impose painful cuts on Bexley, it is already beginning to resemble a wasteland, and the one that would have preferred Councillors absorbed some of the pain with a cut in their allowances.

The Tories in Bexley have cost everyone a great deal of money and not just because they levy among the very highest taxes and charges in the capital. Teresa O’Neill personally put a stop to the Thames crossing by whispering into her friend Boris Johnson’s ear. If she had not, a crossing would have opened two years ago. How much has her misjudgment - she now advocates two crossings - cost London’s economy since then. Billions?

O'Neill Marchant ForsterYesterday I was scheduled to take food - and a lawn mower - to the old lady in East Ham. I can actually see my destination from home, or more accurately I can see the wind turbine that stands a few minutes away from it.

I cancelled the trip because the heavy rain had caused the A13 and the North Circular to be closed. I went today instead.

The outward journey took one hour and fifty five minutes but the return journey was much better. One hour and fifty minutes.

There were thousands of vehicles packed nose to tail and creeping forward by a car length occasionally. The cost to the economy in both lost time and pollution must be astronomical and it is our Teresa who pretty well singlehandedly wreaked that havoc on London.

Don’t do as you did in 2014 and put your St. Michael’s cross where you always do. If there is to be any chance of arresting the tyranny of a Council that has never yet responded positively to any consultation or petition it is vital that next week your X goes somewhere else.

Maybe it will stop Teresa O’Neill’s constant bragging that she was elected in 2014 so can do what she likes; like selling your local park whilst protecting the one that forms her own back yard.

 

24 June (Part 1) - It was the blog wot dun it!

As I drove back from Greenwich after eleven o’clock last night having picked up a neighbour marooned by the floods and Southeastern’s rubbish train service I felt more than a little dejected at the news on the radio. Nigel Farage had conceded defeat in the referendum and my own personal bet had been that LEAVE would win by 6%.

An hour or so later lying in bed with only Twitter and the radio for company a glimmer of hope emerged. Maybe we were not for ever more going to be trapped in the stranglehold of an organization intent on sucking us into a black hole after all.

TweetIn the event, Bexley was the only OUTer in South London (is Sutton South London?) whilst the country as a whole voted OUT. 128,570 Bexley votes and 80,886 for LEAVE. Turnout 75·3%.

While awaiting that result I began to think of a possibly silly analogy for what lies ahead.

During the 1940s my father was working alongside Frank Whittle in Leicester on primitive jet engines. By the 1950s he was in Farnborough working on better engines which could just about push a plane through the sound barrier. There were shock waves as it was approached and much buffeting as the threshold was crossed and several aeroplanes fell out of the sky but by the end of that decade he was working on the power units for a Mach 3 bomber.

Duncan Sandys, the defence minister, cancelled that project but the design was not wasted. A decade later those engines were powering Concorde into the record books.

Has Britain built anything world beating since?

Just as it was in the early 1950s there will be difficult times and more risks to be taken but maybe Britain will once again go supersonic. Perhaps Bexley Council will recognise what happens to politicians who disappoint and lose touch with their electorate.
Engine Engine Engine Engine

Photos from the family album.

Because it is the accepted wisdom I have said the engine developments took place in Farnborough, Hampshire. In fact the work was done in relative secrecy, hidden by extensive forestry in a hamlet not too far away called Pyestock.

 

23 June (Part 5) - Crossrail. No longer a good news story

Crossrail is no longer a good news story. That is what a Greenwich Councillor said at last Tuesday’s Crossrail Liaison Panel meeting and there is more than just a hint of truth about it. The level of discontent with the disruption caused by the massive construction project is not difficult to detect. Long diversions, traffic congestion, difficult station access, severely reduced train service and occasional noise is taking its toll but how it can be avoided is hard to see. However one thoughtful resident had come up with the perfect remedy.

The usual suspect said that dust continues to be a problem - what? In this weather! - and Greenwich Council should take action under Health and Safety regulations to put a stop to it. They have the power, he said, to bring the whole Crossrail project to a halt. Cancel the blooming thing entirely. The Chairman wisely moved on rapidly.

It is becoming clear that Network Rail which is managing the above ground work from Plumstead to Abbey Wood and beyond is acquiring a reputation for not delivering on its promises. They seemed quite enthusiastic about ensuring that shop windows adjacent to the building site were kept clean. It wouldn’t have cost much but it has taken them more than a year to decide they aren’t going to help. The need is a lot less now than during the demolition stage but the delays and failure to deliver will have cost quite a lot in terms of goodwill - about which they were accused of not caring very much at all.

Several residents were very agitated about drainage problems allegedly caused by Crossrail and showed photographs of gardens totally flooded by up to two feet of water that had been there for several months and was now a breeding ground for mosquitos. The smell was said to be nasty to say the least and all the plants have died.

Several meetings ago Network Rail described how they were tackling track drainage problems. There were something like nine small streams coming down from the Bostall Heath hills towards the Thames, some in culverts, others in little more than ditches and the railway line had to be protected from them.

Piling PilingIn recent months sheet piling along both sides of the track has been rammed into the ground, some of it is very long and goes very deep. To most people it would look likely that it will have disrupted ground water flow.

The big problem is that Network Rail would appear to be bound by red tape and lengthy procedures and arguments over which public authority is responsible for the problem. They happily talk of site meetings, surveys and developing solutions, weeks if not months into the future. Meanwhile houses in Abbey Grove and Abbey Terrace have water lapping their doorsteps, filing their cellars and causing damp to creep up their walls.

The Greenwich Councillor did not totally discount the possibility that all the sink holes that have opened up in Plumstead are Crossrail related.

The same red tape is evident when solving even the most trivial of problems. At the last meeting Network Rail undertook to provide some sort of display board at Abbey Wood station to keep travellers better informed of services in the short and medium term. This is going ahead but apparently requires another two months of “signing off”. No one was impressed, least of all the Chairman who pushed for the display board to be in place within a month.

We were treated to the usual update on overall progress and it has undoubtedly been impressive over the last few months. However what should have been a Good News story turned out to be, from a traveller’s point of view, bad.

More than once, residents have been assured at Panel meetings that once the new Dartford bound platform is brought into service on 20th August, station closures will be few and far between. That promise is now revealed to be untrue. The North Kent line will be closed on 20th, 21st, 28th and 29th August (Bank Holiday). 3rd, 10th, 11th, 17th, 18th and 24th September and through October too. Dates to be announced. July will also be a dead loss with no weekend service except on Saturday 16th - but check, my shorthand notes may not be the best.

The reason is that the new Dartford track will be used to deliver materials for laying the new Crossrail track. Totally understandable but not what has been said throughout this year so far.

There was criticism of the Replacement Bus Service too. The Southeastern representative seemed to be unaware that many of the vehicles provided are coaches, not buses, and they have no disabled access. It was suggested that coaches were only used occasionally but I have seen them over several weekends and frequently. It was said that the buses run at the same frequency as the trains they replace. Few will believe that and a coach has far less capacity than a train.

I still don’t understand Bexley Council’s lack of interest in their flyover. They insisted that Network Rail light it when Bexley has never before been bothered about it and now they are concerned that the stairs are dirty. Network Rail was asked to get them cleaned and they have agreed. While they are about it, maybe they will fix Bexley’s blocked drains on the stairway too.

 

23 June (Part 4) - Postscripts and updates

The floods
The overnight fIooding appears to be exceptional. A submerged Wilton Road has been a regular feature of Abbey Wood life for longer than most people can remember but I do not recall seeing Fendyke Road flooded since the 1953 and 1968 floods, and then only in old photographs of welly boots and rowing boats.

Alsike Road was in a worse state than usual but I couldn't get near it because the railway footbridge was impassable too. (MPS Thamesmead photos.)

An unfortunate commuter in New Road is in for a surprise when he returns to his car this evening, a tree has fallen on it. Fortunately it doesn't appear to have been hit by anything more than a large bunch of twigs.

Wilton Road Fendyke Road New Road New Road
Whilst Crossrail may not be responsible for the floods shown here, one cannot be so sure about what has happened in Abbey Grove and Abbey Terrace. (Facebook pictures.)

Abbey Wood Village
The long awaited banners for the Abbey Road shops have arrived…
Sign
Signs…and the choice of Village signs is now on display in the gift shop֦. You may vote. Do so, it may well prove to be the first consultation that Bexley Council has ever taken any notice of.


The Leather Bottle
Builder WallA surprisingly large number of people alerted me yesterday evening and this morning to the demolition of Ye Olde Leather Bottle which was clearly regarded with affection by many residents round about. Presumably they hadn’t checked yesterday’s blog.

I find that encouraging. I never know if BiB’s close to 50,000 visits a month is 500 people looking in twice a day or more, or 10,000 once a week. Obviously the latter spreads knowledge of Bexley Council wider.

All I know about the demolition is that Bexley Council says it was undertaken via a procedure that has only been used once before. A Lawful Planning Certificate was issued, however the Planning Office didn’t bother to inform local Councillors. Understandably they are more than a little annoyed at being made to look impotent.

Whilst the demolition is a done deal and apparently entirely legal, there may be a chance of doing something about the inadequate safety precautions. Not only did none of the men wear hard hats, I was able to walk to within inches of the pub’s unsupported end wall whilst remaining on the public footpath. I doubt a Heras fence would have saved me if it fell down.

There are better pictures on the Belvedere Facebook page but it is a closed group so you probably won’t be able to see them

 

23 June (Part 3) - Forty years of Bexley Council neglect

I slept through the 1987 storm so it was no surprise to sleep soundly through last night, and what's more, it being so dull and horrible, not even wake up until after seven.

It wasn’t until after I had written another blog that I heard of the reports of flooding, so I hared off to Gayton Road even though I can’t swim.

Fortunately Balfour Beatty had the matter well in hand with a powerful pump and a gully sucker. No doubt they will be getting all the blame but it’s no different now to before they turned up to assemble their big train set.

Wilton Road Wilton Road Wilton Road Gayton Road
Long before the Crossrail work began, Bonkers ran a flood banner on rainy days. Perhaps it is time I brought it out of retirement. (Below.)
Flood
The fault lays squarely with Bexley Council. If it was not for the Balfour Beatty team’s hard work and expertise this morning nearby premises would have been flooded and commuters would have got even wetter getting to work. If it wasn’t for Network Rail there would be no lighting all the way down the stairs from the flyover and along Gayton Road to the station. Bexley Council had never bothered about putting lighting on the stairs since they built the ugly thing.

 

23 June (Part 2) - Abbey Wood Village. Open for business

VillageI attended a presentation to traders in Wilton Road a couple of weeks ago. Someone from Bexley Council provided some interesting facts and figures on what Greenwich and Bexley Council had in mind for the areas a little beyond the immediate Crossrail Station environs. No one wants to see a hard demarcation line when going from where £6 million is spent close to the station and where nothing at all has been done. That is why Boris Johnson as Mayor (with contributions from both Councils) provided £300,000 for improvements to what has been renamed Abbey Wood Village. Little of that money, or what remains of it after the Councils charged expenses, has yet been spent, but developments are expected very shortly.

It was announced that improvements to Wilton Road will be managed by Greenwich Council and on the other side of the railway line Bexley Council will look after Harrow Manorway. Both roads as you will know have the borough boundary going down the middle. The flyover itself is entirely Bexley’s.

When the Wilton Road work was going to start was in doubt. A debate was in progress as to whether the materials to be used would be ordinary or something special. The latter would cause a significant delay but ‘cheap’ could be done almost straight away.

Over the past few days there have been developments both north and south of the railway line.

In Harrow Manorway mysterious signs have been erected to say that road resurfacing was due to commence on 16th June. It didn’t. What is that all about? The road was resurfaced less than a year ago and must be one of the smoothest in the borough.

The same presentation revealed that the road will be widened with cycle tracks by the time the new station opens so why resurface a newly reconstructed road which is likely to be ripped up next year? No wonder the stories of backhanders circulate.

In Wilton Road holes have appeared all over the place. It remains to be seen what they are all about. Exploratory work according to a man with a shovel.

Wilton Road Wilton Road Wilton Road Wilton Road
Starting very soon the public will be asked to choose the design for a sign at the end of Wilton Road. The one in the picture above is only a mock up. There will be voting forms, as if you haven’t had enough of voting, in Occasions, the flower and gift shop, and probably in the Abbey Arms opposite too.

The second picture above is of the almost constant traffic jam that Bexley Council has created by its new road design. The main problem is probably the two pedestrian crossings only 150 metres apart. I took some timings. The pedestrian phase lasts 20 seconds and if the Wait button is pressed again immediately, traffic is only given 20 seconds of green. With two crossings so close together traffic can be halted for two thirds of the time.

 

23 June (Part 1) - One day of respite. Make the most of it

Daily Mail

The arguing is over, until tomorrow.

Note: By request. Slide interval extended from 2 seconds to 3·5 seconds. There are 58 slides.

 

22 June (Part 3) - Bexley Idiots

Leather BottleIt’s not only publishing videos of Anna Firth that causes trouble, so can taking pictures of demolished public houses. Ye Olde Leather Bottle crashed to the ground today and no sooner had I leaned against the boundary wall and took a picture and I was surrounded and jostled by four men all very anxious to hide their identity while filming me on their mobile phones.

Hiding HidingApparently it is illegal to take photographs of other people’s houses and they know who I am. “You run a website called Bexley Idiots or something and we are going to find out where you live.”

The bushy bearded one said he had been in touch with “his MP Teresa something and she knows all about you and is going to have something done about you calling us ragheads”. All the while I was being jostled and pushed away by people who, as far as I can ascertain have committed no crime. Maybe I should ascertain some more.

Anyway, the news is that Ye Olde Leather Bottle is no more and Bexley Council did not lift a finger to prevent it happening.

Trio

It was the one on the right who caused most trouble. He has accosted me on every one of my several visits.

 

22 June (Part 2) - Mrs. Marmite

DaveyI have been in a fair bit of trouble with a small number of people for pushing Anna Firth’s videos. I emailed her to let her know how much grief she had caused, however it seems to be a lot less grief than her EU campaign has caused her.

I suppose that is some sort of win win situation. Her videos pleased the OUTers and those who aren’t keen on Anna will not be upset to hear she is in the firing line too.

If tomorrow’s vote isn’t what Anna would like to see you can be sure there will be an avalanche of nasty things lined up for us over the coming months. The EU Army, the TPIN and its negative effect on the NHS and the fast tracking of Turkey’s membership.

Almost nobody says anything about that other acronym. EUTIN. The European Union Tax Identification Number. The Eurocrats have voted to give everyone a European Tax Code. They already control indirect taxation as was discovered when the reduction of VAT on energy bills and sanitary products was blocked. Now they have approved raids directly on your income. And there will be worse to come.

EUTIN explained by Liam Fox MP.
EUTIN discussion on Mumsnet.

 

22 June (Part 1) - Thanks Maxine

Maxine 178I’d just left the Crossrail Liaison Panel meeting and switched my mobile phone back on. It rang almost immediately, a BiB reader was telling me to switch the TV on quickly as Councilor Maxine Fothergill was on. I didn’t think I’d given any readers my mobile number, this one must have been special in some way.

I was home three minutes later and turned on the telly. I lasted ten minutes. Do people really sit and watch the whole of an unruly shouting match? Instead I went upstairs to struggle with the last of yesterday’s blogs with which I was not very happy. I may tell you why later.

When it was done I followed the usual routine and went back downstairs, got myself a drink and switched on the little tablet to see how many people had looked at Bonkers that day.

It said that 192 people were looking at that very moment; 15 might usually be a very good number. Fearing a Bexley Council organised attack on went the desktop PC again so that I could check what was going on. The number had fallen a bit by then but nearly everyone was looking at the first significant Maxine Fothergill blog.

It might have been better if they had looked at the Index because as the saga unfolded it looked more and more likely that Maxine Fothergill was the victim of a Bexley Council stitch up. That might not be the case, clearly Maxine has upset too many people outside the Council, but with Bexley Council going into an unnecessary information lock down and given their track record of constant dishonesty, it seems to be the most reasonable assumption.

 

21 June (Part 4) - Jumping ship and the burning question

UKIPWhen I saw Nigel Farage in Bexleyheath a week ago with a man in a turban by his side I fleetingly thought something like “clever move to place an ethnic face by his side” and then I forgot it. Mr. Farage is a politician, you have to expect such things and as political trickery goes it doesn’t amount to much.

It took nearly a week for the penny to drop. The man in the turban is Harbans Buttar who was prominent in UKIP during the local elections in 2014. He appears on their website because he is now a committee member after contesting Barnehurst ward that year and falling nearly 400 votes short of success.

From 2002 to 2010 Harbans was a Labour Councillor in Bexley and Deputy Mayor a little before BiB came on the scene. He was mentioned briefly in a very old blog for being the only Labour Councillor to have had a complaint made against him but like nearly all complaints against Bexley Councillors it was not upheld.

Not that that was the whole story. He fell out with his party colleagues who accused him of having business interests incompatible with Labour principles. His activities were labelled “dodgy” and the party leadership planned to impose sanctions. It never happened because Mr. Buttar resigned the Labour whip. A recent enquiry to those who might remember details produced an allegation that Harbans Buttar was renting out houses which attracted the attention of the Council’s Environmental Health team.

BarnbrookWhat I find odd is that Michael Barnbrook was refused membership of UKIP on the grounds that he was once a BNP member. Michael has a proven track record of tackling political corruption, putting several MPs behind bars in the process, but UKIP wants nothing to do with him. However it welcomes members that Labour rejected and refused to take back in in 2012. Maybe political parties are wary of taking on board a member who raised concerns about his own leader’s financial affairs.

I Googled Mr. Buttar’s name - as you do - but it is one of those that aren’t indexed under the EU’s undemocratic right to be forgotten regulations. Ironic if it was a UKIP man who used that law.

The Companies House website proved more useful. Mr. Buttar is a director of Erith based BGS (London) Limited. His name appears on the latest Statement of Capital and he is listed as a Surveyor.


Gilbert Road Gilbert Road EnforcementNearly six years ago when the Blackwall Tunnel was shut every night for refurbishment I drove home from North London via Dartford and found my road blocked in Belvedere. There was a fire at 16 Gilbert Road. Despite all the intervening years the building is still a wreck, supported by scaffolding.

Bexley Council pinned an enforcement notice to the premises, it‘s almost unreadable now but is dated 2nd December 2011 and refers to an owner resident in Canada. A Mr. Amrik Soor.

Some local residents believe it was being added to Mr. Buttar’s property portfolio at about the time of the fire. Surely if it was he might have done something about the eyesore by now. It’s been a mess for quite long enough. Is Bexley Council powerless to do anything about it?

 

21 June (Part 3) - Up half the night

The residents of Gilbert Road at its junction with St. Augustine’s Road probably didn’t get an early night. One got bored and took some pictures of the three night resurfacing operation. Seems a shame to waste them.

I took a quick look just before seven yesterday evening. St. Augustine’s Road was already impassable due to the amount of kit that Conways had parked there.
St. Augustine's St. Augustine's St. Augustine's St. Augustine's
Note: Making up blog titles is close to being a hated chore. Like most of them, out of sheer desperation, I simply made this one up. I’ve since been told the work wasn’t very noisy at all.

 

21 June (Part 2) - Hosing your money away

Neglect It’s not just meadows like that at the foot of Knee Hill which have allowed to grow unchecked, it’s children’s playgrounds too.

I will not pretend that I know what the totem pole is for but I do recognise the £110,000 Lesnes Abbey slide when I see it, or don’t quite see iit as the case may be. Ditto the table tennis table.

The adjacent paths can look quite attractive and may well be benefitting wildlife.

It’s all down to cash shortages but apparently we can afford to water the Lesnes Visitor Centre roof. They were watering it yesterday too. As if there hasn‘t been enough rain recently.

Neglect Neglect Neglect Waste

 

21 June (Part 1) - OUT in Belvedere. Not the best of puns Anna

Perhaps next time Anna Firth goes to the top of a hill on a windy day to make a video she will take a windshield. She could have borrowed one from me. Make the most of this video, there may not be another and they are getting me into too much trouble - or it may be my accompanying comments.

They included those about most employee protection legislation being ours and not the EU’s so I did a little bit of research. Correct me if you think I am wrong.


• Paid holiday leave - EU legislation four weeks. UK 5·6 weeks. Link
• Maternity leave - EU 14 weeks. UK 52 weeks. Link
• Maternity pay - EU no minimum pay. UK 90% for six weeks then £140 for 33 weeks. Link as above
• Equal pay - This was law in 1970 before the UK joined the EU.  Link
• Wages - The EU has no minimum wage unlike the UK where it is one of the highest minimum wages in the world. Link
• Discrimination - The UK introduced laws on sex (1975) and race (1965) discrimination long before the EU. Link
• Health and Safety - The UK has had rigorous health and safety at work laws since 1974. Link


Some of the misinformation spewed out by politicians over the past few weeks has been beyond belief and the exploitation of recent tragic events has been sickening. For me it is simple, I’d rather be free but poorer than a wealthy man in prison. If the Massey’s get their way I might yet draw the short straw from both scenarios.

I came across a non-political INner yesterday. A man who may have had Indian ancestry but wearing a flat cap and a Tweed jacket and sitting on a bus close to me.

His travelling companion asked how he was going to vote in the referendum. “IN” he said and the inevitable question was “Why?”

“Because before we were in the European Union income tax was 98% and now it is only 24% (sic)”. When I was more right wing than I am now I used to think that proportional representation would be a good idea - based on an IQ test. Maybe it isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Note: I have no idea what 5·6 weeks paid holiday means either but that is what the government website says together with their explanation.

 

20 June (Part 4) - It’s a jungle out there

Neglect NeglectYou have probably seen the pictures of dogs getting lost in the long grass in Bursted Woods or the hard to see football in Old Farm Park. You’ve probably seen similar things every time you venture outdoors. Bexley Council no longer regularly collects litter, sweeps footpaths or cuts grass any more.

The primary cause is lack of money and the poor financial management of Bexley Council over the last half dozen years cannot be blameless.

Councillors, Tory ones anyway, have put their own election and allowances before the needs of the borough. Twice the Conservatives have voted against Labour’s alternative budget and once against UKIP’s call to reduce Councillor’s allowances by a third. Their reason was that they were not sure how much money that might save. Any excuse will do.

I took a stroll up the nearest hill this afternoon to see how bad things were on the ground. Pretty bad. I think I have wrecked a pair of shoes in the long wet grass and my trousers were soaked to within inches of my waist.

Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer warned everyone that if Old Farm Park (and 25 others) was not sold Bexley would degenerate into an unkempt jungle. I think it already has.

The grass next to Sidcup War Memorial was cut twice last week, but that is because James Brokenshire MP was due to pay a visit to it last Saturday. Nearer to home nothing has been cut and path side nettles are thriving.

However I did find a bit of grass that had been cut. It was a short car trip away but it was worth the visit. See the panorama picture below.

Neglect Neglect Neglect Neglect
Neglect Neglect Neglect Neglect
Neglect

Burr Farm Park freshly mown. It’s the park that lies behind Council Leader Teresa O’Neill’s house.
Related blog.

St. Michael’s ward residents have the opportunity to fire a warning shot at Teresa O’Neill on 30th June.

All of these pictures were taken today.

 

20 June (Part 3) - Countdown to carnage

Only three more days to go and the really exciting bit of the EU Referendum begins. I’m really looking forward to the political carnage that must follow either a Remain or a Brexit vote.

Meanwhile another of Anna Firth’s videos. Not one of her best, far too much background noise distracts from the message. However if you have a burning desire to see Anna perching on a playground roundabout for 30 seconds, go right ahead.

I’m finding the reasons people give for choosing IN or OUT absolutely jaw dropping. I’ve more or less stopped listening to the rubbish put out by BBC Radio 4 (and the TV has not been on in months) and taken up with LBC. Early this morning (pre-Ferrari) they were pumping yet more garbage into the ether.

Apparently I am expected to believe that a nonentity elevated to the Lords after resigning as an MP following a fit of pique over her own government’s attitude towards Israel has “defected” from the OUT camp over a picture that I first saw in my daily newspaper a year ago and it is still on the BBC News website. But it was OK then because Nigel Farage hadn’t published it.

As a reason to change sides, whichever direction a picture of asylum seekers might take you, it is utterly pathetic. Reports are that the nonentity never declared for OUT anyway. So it's all bullshit put out by Cameron’s desperate Press Office.

Another thing that perplexes me greatly is the widespread assumption that all future Tory governments will take the same view as the present one and that any future Labour one will take a Corbynist view of the world. That has to be nonsense doesn’t it? It cannot be relied upon.

Locally Labour said that leaving the EU will cause employment protection to be lost “irrevocably”. Leaving aside the fact that nearly all of it was in place before Britain joined the EU and the Conservatives have recently extended it beyond what the EU demands, their “irrevocable” comment only makes sense if Britain is forever governed by malign Tories. How long would such a bad government last?

It’s the same nonsense the other way around too. Cameron has a team working on Turkey’s entry to the Euro Club. He has in the past been a keen advocate of that country’s membership, but now he says that there is no prospect of Turkey joining until the year 3,000. But that was last week, now it’s only 30 years, and he will veto it.

We don’t know who will be Prime Minister when Turkey applies for EU membership, except that it certainly won’t be Dodgy Dave. There can be no guarantee that Turkey will be vetoed. What if the P.M. was Sadiq Khan?

The only guarantee of Britain not being in the same club as Turkey without borders between us is to resign membership of that club. If you like the EU you vote IN, but if you don’t like it there is only one permanent guaranteed way of freeing yourself from it. I’m still hearing people saying we want a reformed EU. Where will that come from? Cameron couldn’t negotiate one and nor will anyone else.

Sorry about the video, it’s a bit crap isn’t it?

 

20 June (Part 2) - Snatching children out of Broadway

Bexley Council’s Press Release on truancy was not what I would call exciting, but then I don’t have a lot of interest in school affairs. If you work in a school you might feel differently.

Someone who does wrote to me about it. This is an edited version but all the words are hers.


It’s slightly odd that Bexley are paying out for this service considering that most schools in Bexley are academies and pay a private company http://seaas.co.uk a lot of money to raise attendance.

Call me a cynic but I can’t help think this is more to do with the two children murdered in Erith with their mother. (†) Both were of school age and both were long term non attenders - but nothing was done.

There's just something odd about it especially as this time of the year the Broadway would be filled with Year 11 students who are on study leave and only have to attend exams. Anyhows - we have been enjoying the Massey saga very much!


The Press Release doesn’t say when Bexley went nabbing kids on Broadway but the SEAAS reference brought back memories.

In 2011 it was exposed as a shady company set up by Bexley Council employees to exploit the new school regulations. While still working for Bexley according to reports at the time. They had no phone number, only a P.O. address and probing deeper revealed that they had adopted Postcode DAYS OFF. (DA15 0FF.) There is still no address on their website.

The national press sniffed around this less than professional outfit and I spoke to a journalist about it at least a couple of times. However they appear to have gone on to prosper.

That academies either choose to or are forced to employ profit making private companies to do what the Council used to do in house is just a small part of why taxes are far too high.

† Did Bexley council learn nothing from their neglect and the subsequent death of Rhys Lawrie?

 

20 June (Part 1) - The Masseys. A little more of the truth emerges

Natasha Briggs came home from walking the dog to find two police officers in her house who told her that Cabinet Member Don Massey had reported her for Harassment because she had asked the police for advice over a noisy party held in the house he rents next door.

On 30th May Natasha wrote a letter of complaint to Bexley’s Borough Commander Jeff Boothe. She has had a response from the Inspector in the Professional Standards Department. The same man as who wrote to me last week. He is sorry that his officers entered “in the way that they did”.

AggressiveIt is revealed that the female officer who was aggressive towards Natasha was the same one who was aggressive towards me.

Somewhat surprisingly, because it is totally different to what Natasha had been told before, the police officers were said to be responding to a complaint about this blog. “The officers were making initial enquires into a published blog on the internet (Bexley Is Bonkers). Complaint had been raised about the content of the blog and it was evident that you had contributed to it. An allegation of harassment had been raised.” Maybe that explains why the police have still not given Natasha a copy of the complaint against her that the Masseys were alleged to have made. There isn’t one.

The Inspector went on to say that “the officers were seeking your account on how the information was on the website”.

The mystery of when Massey reported whatever he is supposed to have reported is solved. Natasha had been told verbally it was on a Sunday but in writing it was Saturday. Massey did both. The matter of him getting privileged access to a closed Police Station is dismissed as “not relevant as they could have equally called 101”. Sounds like total nonsense to me.

Sharon Massey shouting to Natasha that she had wasted police time was because Mrs. Massey had “misinterpreted” what was said to her or “it wasn’t said at all”. More than likely.

Overall I do not regard the Inspector’s letter as anything other than a reasonable attempt to be helpful while under the political pressure of which Bexley Police has complained before. He has offered to meet Natasha. It is a pity that the two officers who called on Natasha were not honest with her. They were not making a noise related investigation at all.

The reply includes a repeat of what was in the Inspector’s letter to me. “The publication of information relating to the Massey’s daughter has been referred to Lawyers who work for the Metropolitan Police Service for their advice due to the complex and sensitive nature of freedom of expression and its limitations in certain circumstances.“ Presumably they will be bright enough to notice that the report came from information published by Victoria Massey herself. How else could I have been sure the party took place? Her Facebook account has gone now. Fortunately I took copies.

The Larch Grove Index.

 

19 June (Part 6) - Anna knocks the PM. Brave lady

Somehow or other I agreed to repeat all of Anna Firth’s EU videos on Bonkers. If I don’t do another one now I shall run out of time before Thursday. The way she is going she will be flung out of DC’s nasty party.

I note that the video put up yesterday has had ten times as many YouTube views as those that have not been on Bonkers. Perhaps I should put in a bill.

Most of her videos have been viewed on Twitter. YouTube was an afterthought but it is much easier to include here.

 

19 June (Part 5) - In Bexley, don’t go out without a jam jar or bottle

Bogs NeglectWherever you look at the moment, Twitter, Facebook, Streetlife etc. people seem to be thoroughly pee’d off with Bexley Council. It comes as no surprise to me, the neglect can be seen everywhere.

On Streetlife the current topics are parking ticket machines which allow drivers to insert the old fee and issue a ticket without any warning that the price has gone up and that old complaint, the lack of public toilets.

Bexley has a list of public toilets on its website and the traditional bogs recorded are as follows…


• Bexleyheath Cemetery, Banks Lane
• Erith Cemetery, Brook Street
• Sidcup Cemetery, Foots Cray Lane
• Hillview Cemetery, Wickham Street, Welling
• Library, Bellegrove Road, Welling
• Belvedere Recreation Ground, Woolwich Road
• Danson Park (Adjacent to Mansion)
• Foots Cray Meadows (Special events only)
• Lesnes Abbey (Adjacent to Information Centre)
• Sidcup Place Recreation Ground


Not a lot is it? And it’s worse than it looks.

BogsThe cemetery toilets are only available to those with a RADAR key and those in the Belvedere Recreation Ground are part of the sports facility and you’d have to be in the know to be aware of them at all.

I once went into Welling Library looking for the toilet and the lady on the desk, a volunteer perhaps, didn’t have a clue where they might be. Nearer to home, the Lesnes Abbey facilities were demolished 18 months ago.

So if you ignore those that are not freely available 24/7 the list boils down to perhaps one - at best!

The decision to sell off public toilets was taken by Councillor Gareth Bacon.

There is nothing in Abbey Wood, the Belvedere shopping area, Bexley, Blackfen, Footscray (most of the time), Northumberland Heath, Slade Green or Thamesmead. Keep your legs crossed.

Note: There are said to be automated cubicles in Bexleyheath, Crayford, Erith and Sidcup if you can find them.

 

19 June (Part 4) - Councillor Massey, festival terminator

FestivalI am beginning to think that my friend Hugh Neal, Erith’s Sunday blogger, is envious of BiB. When he came up with the metaphor about pitchforks and flaming torches being the only language Council Leader Teresa O’Neill might understand it was me who was rewarded with a Harassment Warning from Bexley Police. Hugh’s doorbell never rang.

Until now he has never been accused of harassing Councillor Don Massey either. Maybe that is about to change.

Today Hugh has made a second attempt at attracting the attention of the police. His blog (3rd section) reminds us that the Danson Festival was cancelled by Cabinet Member Don Massey two and a half years ago and he brings the situation up to date with some new facts. Facts that will cause many people to consider whether or not Councillor Massey set out to deceive us.

As Hugh says, the Danson Festival which was a highlight of Bexley’s calendar for many years was suddenly decreed unviable by Councillor Massey because the underlying terrain suffered drainage problems. What a fortunate late discovery by Councillor Massey who was said at the time to be responding to the complaints of “wealthy people” who lived near the park. i.e. those represented by Councillor Sharon Massey.

However this year, one of the wettest summers on record, the festival is to resume under the auspices of Oakleigh Fairs on 2nd and 3rd of July. Unlike its much lamented predecessor, this event is not free. A family ticket (two adults and two children) will cost £15. Otherwise it’s £6 a go, children half price.

Clearly Bexley Council speaks with forked tongue and is easily persuaded by the thoughts of a fat fee.

 

19 June (Part 3) - Bexley Council, tormenting bus drivers every day

Yellow line Yellow lineThere are places where double yellow lines are essential in order to maintain traffic flow. The need will often be obvious to everyone. However a decision to install a single yellow line can never be quite as clear cut. When should the restrictions be enforced for example, it requires an element of brain power, something for which Bexley Council is not renowned.

At some time within the past year the ninety degree bend where Gayton Road meets Florence Road in Belvedere was remodelled for moderately good reasons and both roads became even narrower. Unfortunately no one was bright enough to consider the consequences.

The ‘outside’ of the bend is adorned with only a single yellow line. Except for ten hours a week it is perfectly legal to park there. Every ten minutes a 244 bus goes by. The scene depicted here is a regular occurrence. The bus cannot get around without either going up the pavement - left of the picture - and this one didn’t, or partake in a reversing manouvre, which is what is happening here. At busy times reversing is not always possible.

I wonder how long that will be allowed to go on for. Don’t hold your breath.

Letter300 yards away a not totally different situation exists on Abbey Road and it has been like it since 2009 and featured here before. It caused a nasty accident in 2011 and sometimes Bexley Council unlawfully tickets cars parked there.

Once upon a time the residents’ parking bays extended to where the double yellow line now is but along came Bexley Council and installed a pedestrian refuge. Nothing wrong with that but once again there was an almost total lack of foresight. The parking bays were redrawn so as not to obstruct the road but no one filled in the gap with double yellow lines.

When commuters park there as they do every weekday, it brings buses to a near standstill. Maybe that is the idea.

 

19 June (Part 2) - Running late again

SignIf you have driven along the Lower Road in Belvedere recently you cannot have failed to notice that the resurfacing scheduled for 6th June did not take place. Why is hard to see as nothing has been going on for the past couple of weeks. The temporary traffic lights are long gone.

However steer clear of the area over the next three evenings when it all happens.

Bexley Council has told residents to park elsewhere. Part of their letter is shown below, click to see more of it.

When the job is done drive carefully. If you pass by at speed it can be an exhilarating chicane. Somebody is bound to try it.

Letter

Click to see the complete letter.

 

19 June (Part 1) - Give with one hand, slap down with the other

SalonWhile £300,000 of public money is piled into improving the look of the shops in Abbey Wood with another quarter of a million likely to be spent on the public realm, Bexley Council is doing its bit to make the lives of shopkeepers a misery. They are threatening punitive action against those shops which are not paying the Council to take their waste away.

There is a service road running behind the shop premises on the Bexley side but not all of them have access to it. Some shops do not extend that far back and the only way in and out is the front door, the one used by customers. So there is absolutely nowhere to put a waste bin.

Before Crossrail came along and complicated matters some had tried to negotiate with Bexley Council to be able to store a privately hired bin in nearby Gayton Road. As you might imagine, Bexley Council was completely unreceptive to the idea. Instead it removes piles of fly tipped rubbish from Gayton Road almost daily. Yesterday twelve black sacks were removed early in the morning and within a couple of hours nine more appeared.


RubbishWhere it comes from no one knows but from what spills out it would appear to be domestic, some flats above the shops have no space for a bin either. Bexley Council has written to every nearby address in an attempt to put a stop to the dumping. If they had allowed a commercial service to operate taxpayers might have saved a lot of money.

Unfortunately it is futile to expect flexibility or common sense from Bexley Council.

Their latest wheeze is to demand proof from traders who do not rely on Council waste disposal services that they have an alternative contract in place. I know of one who has nowhere to store a bin but fortunately doesn’t produce a lot of waste and certainly not enough to interest a commercial operator.

Inevitably there are cardboard boxes and there is a small amount of organic material. The boxes which are not reused during deliveries to customers are collected by an individual who has a use for old cardboard and the organic material is taken by a keen gardener and composter. The remaining oddments are incinerated off the premises.

Bexley Council believes this is unacceptable and apparently prefers prosecution. The people who make these threats do not have a clue about running a business, and one only has to look around the borough to see that few have a clue about running anything.

The Wilton Road hairdresser steered well clear of useless bureaucrats and financed her own shop improvements - picture above. The cab office took the Council’s money and has had its signage replaced. It looks rather impressive, especially at night.
Station cars Station cars

Station Cars by Day and Night.

 

18 June (Part 3) - Blakedown breakdown

BlakedownI knew one of you would know, see earlier blog, here’s a BIB reader’s evidence of trouble at Lesnes Abbey.

The Lesnes Abbey landscaping company has gone to the wall. I don’t think that explains why the Visitor Centre which bears signs that Bolt & Heeks is building it is not making any progress.

Click image for more.

 

18 June (Part 2) - Firth holds forth

Contrary to popular opinion I sometimes go to Abbey Wood station to get on a train instead of taking pictures. When I left my destination station yesterday, better not say where in case I get someone into trouble, I glanced at the ticket office window and the image on the computer screen looked familiar.

I made a quick diversion and I was right. The ticket clerk was watching Anna Firth’s video on Bexley is Bonkers. (†)

I’ll do anything to attract more visitors to the blog to get the word out about Bexley Council as widely as possible and if Anna is what it takes, then so be it.

Here’s another of Anna's little videos. It is short and simple but a point well made in my opinion.

Nice backdrop too. Some of the views across the river and the city available from Belvedere’s hills are spectacular.

Got any more Anna?

† This is a true story - everything on BiB is - the station is unidentified only because I have no idea of Southeastern’s policy on computer use.

 

18 June (Part 1) - Are the plans for Lesnes Abbey lying in ruins?

MonkSomething odd is going on, or rather not going on. Just when the finishing touches were expected at Lesnes Abbey, nothing happens for four or five weeks.

It used to be the case that seeing what taxpayers and lottery players were getting for the £4·2 million being ploughed into Lesnes Abbey was a useful standby at weekends when there was little else to report but recently that has been a total let down. It was a month ago that BiB first reported that nothing new had been seen in the week before.

Nothing has changed since except that Bexley Council restored the guard around the trip hazard at the five path junction.

The whole site looks more and more neglected, perhaps because it is. No one cuts the grass or trims the hedges and no one has been seen working on the Visitor Centre.

Why?

Weeds Visitor CentreI can only guess that the workers have all gone on strike or the contractor has gone bust.

The landscaping was being done by Blakedown Landscapes and the Visitor Centre by Bolt & Heeks.

That company’s liabilities of £7.7 million look a bit worrying to me but nothing else is currently showing up on the web - unless you know better.

Credit Check

 

17 June (Part 2) - The School Board Man is back - and not before time

If you are as old as me you probably remember lying in bed as a kid dying of the measles or something, with the curtains drawn because daylight could make you go blind, and mother would come in and tell you you had to get better quickly or else the School Board Man would get you.

Well he is back.

Bexley Council Welfare Officers have been going around in an unmarked police car with a marked van in support collecting up truants. The Council says their efforts were much appreciated by shopkeepers, I’m not surprised because I have been surprised by the number of people who will admit to pilfering Mars Bars and crisps etc.

The Council’s Press Release may be viewed here and for once nothing is being cut and nothing is being taxed by stealth.

 

17 June (Part 1) - Toe the yellow line and bring Bexley to a halt

Web statsIf ever there was proof that over-zealous road traffic control - or in Bexley’s case poorly thought out traffic control - is very unpopular you only have to look at what happened to the BiB web stats when the Upton Road box junction was featured last Sunday. Site visitors shot above the Saturday level - unusual - and on Monday went through the roof. Not of course to the extent they did when lies were made up about John Kerlen and Bexley Council’s friends went ahead and charged him.

They claimed John encouraged Twitter users to post dog faeces through a Councillor’s letter box. He did no such thing and mentioned neither a name nor an address to be targetted.

If I remember correctly about 50,000 visitors learned something of Bexley Council’s dishonesty and spite that day, we probably won’t see the like of that again.


Mustard Barnet Council has created ten Upton Roads and their local blogger, Mr. Mustard, a NotoMob member, has written about it.

His comments are just as relevant to Bexley as to Barnet. Why would a Council which hasn’t got the money to keep libraries under their control be able to spend around £36,000 a junction on paint and camera equipment?

I know that Bexley’s senior councillors are saying it is a road safety measure - I asked the direct question and that was the reply - to which the obvious retort is to ask why it was that the proposal to enforce box junctions with cameras didn’t come from the Transport Committee. The proposal was put forward as a budget measure. Bexley Council really cannot stop lying can it?

All road users should read Mr. Mustard’s blog and look at his video. He says that drivers should proceed as instructed and bring Barnet to a standstill which is exactly what BiB readers were saying to me.


Was annoyed to read about the latest camera con. What needs to be done is motorists observe the road rules to the letter and have complete gridlock from Welling and also outside Danson Park.

Also I hear rumours of council people taking vast cash back handers for contracts to resurface roads that don't need resurfacing and also contractors bidding for contracts having to include bribes to council officials to receive work.


I’ve occasionally heard those rumours too. Obviously no one is going to talk about it so it must remain only an unsubstantiated rumour.

 

16 June (Part 2) - They are all made in the same mould

I met up with fellow truth seekers, John Watson, Elwyn Bryant and Michael Barnbrook a couple of weeks ago. As usual Mick was keen to update us on his complaints to police about the Tories abusing the election expenses rules.

One of the MPs included in Mick’s complaint is Kelly Tolhurst who beat Anna Firth, the woman gets everywhere, in an open primary before the General Election in Rochester and Strood.

However perhaps more interesting to local readers is that Mick produced evidence suggesting that a Bexley Council employee had committed a criminal offence. Someone with very long experience of the Council pointed out that if it had connived with the employee no offence would have been committed, which cast doubt on whether Mick’s case would hold up. Bexley Council being dishonest too can never be discounted.

StewardIt may have been me who suggested that instead of getting the police to look into things we might give the new Chief Executive, Gill Steward, an opportunity to show her mettle by Mick taking his concerns to her. It wouldn’t have worked with Will Tuckley, but you never know, his replacement might be fair minded.

Mick phoned the CE’s office to say that he wished to discuss a sensitive issue with her, one with the potential for a criminal prosecution, and that she might be either interested or be able to show him that all was above board.

The response was a telephone call back to say that the Chief Executive has no free time for a meeting and Mick should write in. So the new Chief Executive hasn’t taken Mick’s report that Bexley Council may be harbouring another criminal particularly seriously. Perhaps she doesn’t know how many times his reports about public servants have hit and brought down their target.

There is one obvious answer to whether the CE has no free time and it is to FOI a copy of Gill Steward’s work diary for the coming month to see if she is fibbing or not.

That was done once before and Bexley Council refused to play ball but the Information Commissioner soon sorted that out. If the new Chief Executive wants to be difficult, two can play at that game.

Note: This is a slightly revised version of the blog posted five hours earlier which incorrectly stated that Mr. Barnbrook had already written to Gill Steward.

 

16 June (Part 1) - By not universally popular request

I was unpopular in some quarters for embellishing the blog banner with EU slogans, no one admitted to being upset when they were replaced by Labour’s St. Michael’s ward election leaflet but then there were adverse comments when UKIP’s leaflet was made available in its entirety.

Things were simpler when BiB sat on the fence.

The EU slogans were my idea but the party leaflets came out of conversations with representatives of those parties. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that either made a direct request but it seemed to be a natural progression from what was discussed.

The Conservative’s don’t ask for anything, not even that I shut up, they hand that job to the police, but contact is not entirely unknown. As one said to me the other day, the EU referendum can be a great unifying factor. Well not in his own party but that is not what he meant.

From that conversation came the idea, request, call it what you like, that BiB should carry some of Anna Firth’s short referendum videos that have been appearing on Twitter. If I could make Twitter’s embed code work I probably would have done.

The best I have been able to do is bring to BiB a YouTube video which was produced for German TV. It features Anna Firth who fought the Erith & Thamesmead seat for Parliament last year.

Anna is the founder of a group called Women for Britain which is stridently anti-EU and been making a noise all over the place. She ran an excellent General Election campaign in 2015 and lost badly. Even if history repeats itself she won’t be the most popular of ladies in No. 10.

Anna Firth on Twitter.

 

15 June (Part 2) - It’s not over until it is over

BridgeRight, let’s get back to something a little more Bexley Council related than Nigel Farage navigating London’s longest borough shoreline - which just happens to be the only one without any form of river crossing.

There has been continuing correspondence with an Inspector at Bexley Police Station about the Massey’s complaint of harassment by this blog. It is possible that it was the one dated 2nd April which sent Cabinet Member Don Massey scurrying off to Sidcup Police Station, but maybe that only relates to accusations levelled at Natasha Briggs.

That initial blog was largely a bringing together of three separate bits of information freely available elsewhere on the web. The fact that the Massey’s business in Bexley failed but they have a new one in Maidstone (Companies House), they have an interest in a flat in Sidcup (Bexley Council’s website) and there was an accompanying account of a party held at that address from Natasha, the next door neighbour, which she confirmed to me with a link to the host’s Facebook page.

That Facebook page was open for public viewing and I downloaded copies of ten images which was far from being the complete set.

On 4th May BiB referred to the Massey case again but confined comment to what I saw as police failures and I went for them quite hard, I probably know too much about police corruption.

My reference to correct police procedure came from what the IPCC told me in 2011.

I illustrated the 4th May blog with one of the aforesaid Facebook pictures and a pun on the Home Secretary’s infamous phrase about the Nasty Party, but because I was not absolutely sure who was portrayed it was blurred beyond recognition except perhaps by the subjects. Another reason was that I did not know their ages. I have since been advised that there was no need to have blurred an image freely available elsewhere on the web and that any copyright considerations would be covered by ‘fair use’.

The Bexley Police Inspector has clearly done his best to be helpful with extensive explanations of various points I raised with him following the complaint by the Massey’s daughter Victoria, who could be one of the blurred figures. The powers available to the police are deeply disturbing but that is not the Inspector’s fault. He has told me the names of the police officers who called on me and threatened arrest but if they were only carrying out orders there is no great justification for publishing them.

So things are going moderately well at the moment, certainly in a civilised fashion, except perhaps for this comment; “We are still awaiting the advice from our Legal Services department in your particular case. Once we have this it will be communicated to you.”

 

15 June (Part 1) - Farage’s Fishing Flotilla

FlotillaIt was Erith’s Sunday blogger Hugh Neal who first alerted me to Nigel Farage’s Fishing Flotilla to Westminster but he didn’t know exactly when it was due and neither did I. It was only yesterday that I got a reasonably firm fix on the time and LBC Radio gave it a mention as it passed Tilbury this morning. Hoping the time was about right I jumped on a 229 bus at Lesnes Abbey around 07:45 which was standing room only. By the time it got to Belvedere it was seriously overloaded and ran non-stop to Riverside Gardens which was good for me but not for the dozens left waiting who were going to be late for work.

GeldofMy guess about the time to be in Erith was just about right as the first boat hove into view at 08:20 but I had in mind a picturesque scene reminiscent of Brixham or Hastings in days gone by. Instead a straggling line of boats big and small, mainly small, passed by in the space of 20 minutes. Around 40 of them.

Murphy’s Law being what it is, they were hugging the Essex coast with the sun doing its best to put the vessels in shadow.

If you are interested in some less than spectacular boat pictures, a collection of 13 may be seen here.

The place to be was Tower Bridge to see all the boats together. Reports are that the millionaire Irishman Sir Bob Geldof hired a boat with the intention of disrupting proceedings. Rich people telling working people what to do sybolises the Remain campaign. If there is any justice the fishermen had powerful hoses on board. The liars Cameron and Osborne deserve utter humiliation too.
Erith

 

14 June (Part 2) - Nigel Farage takes Bexleyheath by storm

The rain just about managed to stay away for Nigel Farage on his open topped bus when he stopped off in Bexleyheath Broadway this afternoon. 70 people were hanging around waiting - yes I counted them - and the moment Nigel arrived the numbers swelled by a factor of three or four.

There wasn’t much of a speech, just some well rehearsed rousing calls to the crowd accompanied by a lot of horn sounding from passing cars and occasionally buses too.

What was notable was that Mr. Farage seemed to be such a nice, patient, good natured chap, signing autographs constantly for everyone. Children who probably didn’t know what it was all about through to old ladies. Everyone seemed to love him.

There were a few people there I recognised, Keith Forster the St. Michael’s UKIP candidate, Ronie Johnson the 2015 General Election candidate for Erith & Thamesmead and several unsuccessful Bexley candidates from 2014.

DogSurprisingly there were no Bexley UKIP Councillors around to greet their leader and naturally none from Labour either.

Elliot Smith the young Tory activist was clearly enjoying the atmosphere and taking selfies with the old campaigner and I spotted one Tory Bexley Councillor in the distance. I won’t say who in case (s)he wasn’t supposed to be there.

There were maybe half a dozen uniformed police officers on hand but they weren’t required, the only hint of ‘trouble’ was four schoolgirls shouting “Vote In”. They weren’t old enough to vote.

The only good decision that Cameron made in this referendum was to keep under 18s away from the ballot box. I heard one of the ignorant four saying they wanted to stay in the EU so that they could have holidays there.

There were plain clothes officers present - I asked - and Nigel had his minders too. You can play ‘Spot the heavy’ when you look at the photos. They are the ones who look like Russian Secret Service Agents.
Elliot

Elliot Smith cosies up to his new friend Nigel.

More photos.

 

14 June (Part 1) - A fine mess they’ve got themselves into

This should be fun, Natasha Briggs has sent a three page complaint to Bexley Council about her occasional neighbours, Councillors Don and Sharon Massey and already had it acknowledged.

The main theme is that the Masseys abused their position as Councillors and have done things likely to bring Bexley Council into disrepute. Several examples of each are included within the complaint.

I think if I had written it I might have emphasised that reporting Natasha to the police was entirely malicious and without justification. The police log shows they dismissed the allegation of harassment within hours of visiting Mrs. Briggs.

Don SharonThe last time the Code of Conduct Committee met it was to stitch up Councillor Maxine Fothergill. There was no written complaint, the complainant didn’t show up at the meeting and the public were excluded from the proceedings without the Chairman going through the correct procedure. Then they rejected all the FOIs.

It’s going to be different this time. Natasha will make sure everyone knows everything. Maybe I should go over to Sidcup to get a copy of one of her audio recordings of the Masseys stomping up stairs and slamming doors.

It is self-evident that both Don and Sharon Massey have brought Bexley Council into disrepute. If you haven’t seen it yet take a look at the new Home page. The Massey’s decision to report Natasha Briggs to the police was both malicious and stupid. All she had done was follow Bexley Council’s recommendations on what to do about noisy neighbours to the letter.

The Masseys should have known that everything would end up here. Larch Grove was featured on BiB about eleven hours before the Massey’s reported Natasha Briggs to the police. If they don’t read it, their so called friends do and will likely have tipped them off.

Did neither of these Council Leader’s favourites not manage to work out that their dirty laundry was certain to be washed in public? You would have thought that the Council Leader would have appointed someone with more sense to be in charge of the borough’s financial policies.

However don’t run away with the idea that this will be an open and shut case with the Masseys banged to rights. Before Bonkers evolved into a reporter of other people’s battles I put in a formal complaint about Cabinet Member Peter Craske who I had watched lie to, insult and attempt to belittle a resident at a Council meeting. It was easy and not uncommon before the advent of webcasting.

Craske came up with a clever excuse that got him off the hook, but not that clever. The Minutes of the meeting proved him wrong. So I appealed the not guilty verdict.

Councillor Craske simply invented an entirely new excuse. The Standards Board (forerunner of Code of Conduct Committee) accepted it and no further appeals were accepted. Bexley Council is a protection racket.

The Chairman of the Code of Conduct Committee is Councillor Cheryl Bacon, investigated by the police for Misconduct in Public Office and currently with the Crown Prosecution Service.

Index of Larch Grove related blogs.

 

13 June (Part 4) - Brexitheath plays host to the Chief Brexiteer

BrexitIt’s all systems GO for politicians at the moment and one has to admire their stamina. Nigel Farage has been all over the place while the Prime Minister warns of when the next plague of locusts is due. Apparently I won’t get a free TV licence in two years time because Brexit will mean the country can’t afford it. He seems to have forgotten that he passed the responsibility over to the BBC recently. I don’t care, I’ve only watched one TV programme in the past three months.

Tomorrow Mr. Farage will be in Bexleyheath carefully avoiding the marauding school children at the Clock Tower end of the Broadway. He will be by the King’s Head.

Next day he is off to Southend for an early start.

His plan is to be on a fishing boat at 5 a.m. leaving Southend-on-Sea. It’s part of a flotilla heading for Westminster as part of the Brexit publicity campaign.

News reports say he aims to be under Big Ben by midday but when he will pass Erith and Thamesmead I have no idea. It may be a good photo opportunity but I am not going to stand in Riverside Gardens all morning, probably getting very wet, without having some idea of the time.

Perhaps someone could ask the MEP what his timetable is? Bet he doesn’t know. Bet he hasn’t a clue how we will defend the post-Brexit fishing grounds against French and Spanish pirates either. Successive prime ministerial loons have made a pretty good job of sinking the Royal Navy.

Brexit fishing flotilla news.

 

13 June (Part 3) - Some fat behinds need a good kicking

There are only two candidates who can unseat the Tories in St. Michael’s ward on the 29th June. Sam Marchant for Labour and Keith Forster for UKIP.

Sam’s leaflet has been prominent on Bonkers for the past week but the UKIP one has only just become available to me. Keith is right to say in his leaflet that Labour has failed to hold the Conservatives to account but that is perhaps more to do with numbers than dedication. Bexley Tories are not interested in debate, only in undiluted power.

It is not for me to recommend one opposition party over another; strongly recommending that no one votes Tory already far exceeds BiB’s usual inclination to avoid undue bias. It’s not the fault of this former Conservative voter that the Tories get nearly all the flak, that’s because locally they are dishonest and is nothing to do with them wearing blue.

Having watched pretty well all the Council meetings of note over the past five years I think I can say that the three UKIP Councillors are more likely to bowl a googly, rock the boat and generally rattle cages than Labour who may be opposition but remain very much ‘establishment’. I rather like that but your vote might depend on the extent to which you are inclined to back a rebel. I should perhaps add that I do not know either of the two opposition candidates.

Some arses need kicking in Bexley and St. Michael’s voters have the privilege of doing the rest of us a big favour.

UKIP

Click or scroll to see more.

For technical reasons this image may require a browser page refresh before it displays correctly.

 

13 June (Part 2) - Shutting the stable door far too late

TweetAll the time that unregistered Homes in Multi-Occupation were not affecting the plusher parts of the Borough, Conservative Councillors paid little attention to their growing number. 450 two years ago and bound to be much higher now.

Then the subject hit the News Shopper and was mentioned at length on BiB and there is an election coming up. Bexley Council flew into action. Well they issued a Press Release to say their failure to control the situation is no worse than their counterparts in Bromley or Greenwich.

The difference is that our two neighbours have already done something about it. Bexley as usual did nothing. They are thinking about an Article 4 Directive but not until July and if they decide to go ahead it will take another twelve months to implement. Meanwhile, residents suffer.

Bexley Council says that the problem is recent, Councillor Francis has correspondence which say is it is not. I know which of those two I would rather believe.

 

13 June (Part 1) - Yellow Fever

Spy camsWow, I must write about Bexley Council’s attack on motorists more often. More than 3,500 views of yesterday’s Yellow Box blog. (†) Even more than when new speed cameras were installed on various downhill stretches of road.

Not only will the Yellow Box warning have damaged Bexley’s money grabbing ambitions it may have brought in new readers who will have gone on to learn what a corrupt bunch many of Bexley’s Conservatives are.

When Bexley Council adopted their new powers to spy on us, it was obvious that there would be a proliferation of Yellow Boxes with no regard for need but solely to maximise fine revenue.

Here are some of the comments from residents who read about the new Spies in the Sky.


• That box is new. It used to be simply marked, Keep Clear. [Not sure that the change was very recent.]
• If Bexley Council really wanted to improve road safety they would have installed warning signs. [Bexley Council said they would install signs but we all know they lie.]
• It has clearly been designed solely to catch out unwary motorists whilst at the same time creating congestion.
• The box is massively larger than it need be.
• At busy times traffic in the Broadway will be brought to a total standstill for long periods. Queues are generally caused by traffic (including buses on several routes) waiting to turn into Avenue Road.
• If the Council were to do something about the Avenue Road junction like a little extra space to allow straight on traffic to pass on the nearside of right turning traffic then this might achieve something useful.
• There is often a queue of traffic waiting to exit Upton Road. When something manages to turn right into Avenue Road and the queue moves up the space will be immediately taken by someone nipping out of Upton Road and the Broadway queue will just not move at all.
• Bexley’s till will be ringing non stop during busy periods.
• It might be useful to stress to your blog readers that an offence is only committed if they enter a box when the exit is not clear. If the exit is clear when they enter but another vehicle exits a side road to fill the space leaving them stranded in the box then no offence has been committed.


I was asked how I managed to get pictures of an empty Broadway. The answer is 7:30 on a Sunday morning.

TweetCuts
There is to be an election in St. Michael’s ward on 30th June. The result cannot seriously dent the Conservative majority in Bexley, the biggest possible change is that it will go from 45:18 to 44:19 but that one seat would give out a significant message.

I have lost count of the number of times I have seen and heard Council Leader Teresa O’Neill justify her actions, whether it be disregarding consultation results or making snide comments about the opposition parties, by saying she and her cronies were re-elected in 2014 so whatever she does is fully justified.

If you wish to give her a message it is imperative that Conservative voters take the lead in wiping the smirk off her face. Maybe she will recognise that she is not as clever as she thinks she is.

† More than 5,000 by the end of today.

 

12 June (Part 2) - While Crossrail battles the rain, Bexley takes a long break

CrossrailIt’s a dismal wet day again and with the North Kent railway line closed the men in orange suits are wisely mostly working under the flyover to escape the constant storm clouds. My solar panels have reported only four June days so far when electricity generation exceeded November levels. Flaming June!

Over the past two weeks more Crossrail concrete has been poured into the ground (and above it) on the northern side of the station as if to raise two fingers at Bexley Council Leader Teresa O’Neill’s vacuous pipedream of running the Crossrail tracks down to Dartford and beyond before very long. It would need a totally different station design. On Abbey Wood station’s southern perimeter the first sign of the featureless concrete wall being softened with the planned curves may be seen.

Inside the existing station the new Dartford bound platform is making good progress, but not much today, the rain appears to have put a real dampener on concrete pumping activities. From 15th to 22nd June inclusive that progress will see the London bound lift taken out of service.

It’s all in marked contrast to the Bexley Council managed project in Lesnes Abbey Park. There is a reason for there being no pictures of anything new there for a month, it’s because there isn’t anything new to be seen.

The Visitor Centre looks a total mess and the rain has restored the grass roof to look like another one. The only thing really new is a nice little trip hazard at the central junction of five paths. It used to be fenced off.

Need you be reminded that “the Masterplan’ as it was called was supposed to be completed up to six months ago? ‘A, Brewery, In, Party, Organise, A, Couldn’t.’ Rearrange as necessary.

Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes
The (usually) fortnightly update on the Abbey Wood station developments is in the usual place. Some of the pictures have only been possible because of the cooperation of staff who allow weekend access to the footbridge. The other side of the coin is that those pictures may sometimes be seen on their computer screens.

 

12 June (Part 1) - They are after your money in Bexleyheath

SawyerWhile a new bunch of bankers gets ready to open a new branch in Bexleyheath the other wunch of bankers in Watling Street are opening new piggy banks in Bexley too. The latest is twenty feet up a pole above the yellow box junction in Upton Road.

Their excuse for enforcing ‘moving traffic violations’ is that it will improve road safety. Usually Bexley Council will tell you that slowing traffic down improves road safety but when they are after your money speeding up traffic emerging from side roads improves road safety too.

Cameras at minor junctions like Upton Road are cash cows, pure and simple. The junction sometimes sees a queue because of traffic waiting to turn right into Avenue Road just a few yards to the west. (Top left corner of Photo 2 below.) There are no cameras there. The likely logic is that if the Avenue Road junction ran freely there would be no tail back to Upton Road and the opportunity for revenue raising might disappear. Much more profitable to prolong one jam in the hope it will block the adjacent monitored junction.

The fact that the Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transport has several times been heard in Council complaining that motorists are unfairly targeted as cash cows must surely make him one of the borough’s biggest hypocrites.

Metro Bank Box junction Box junction Cameras
Cameras
Box
Be very careful when driving through Bexleyheath, or better still, take your business elsewhere.

 

11 June (Part 2) - Just what do they think they are playing at?

The road closures at St. Augustine’s Road and the consequent diversions have not been as bad as feared, none during the day so far. However the end product is beyond belief stupid. Well up to the standards we have come to expect from the Bashfords, Nevards, Zebs and Reys of Bexley Council who have together done so much damage to the borough’s road system.

To supposedly improve a road where there was a tendency for fast moving traffic to meet, each slightly on the wrong side of the road because it is too narrow, three Keep Left islands have been placed in the middle of the road. It may reduce the likelihood of traffic meeting head on but it is doubtful that the islands will survive very long.
St. Augustine's
Take note in the picture above how a new bus stop has been built out into the road almost opposite a new traffic island and how the pavement on the extreme right of the picture has also been built out into the road. The bus stop marking behind the yellow sign is a remnant from the old layout and will go.

Below is the new eastbound bus stop almost opposite the new island. Imagine what will happen when a bus stops there. It could easily be two buses.
St. Augustine's
Further to the east - left on the photo immediately above - there is another cleverly positioned island; right next to some residents’ parking bays. (Photo 1 below)

The new westbound bus stop is shown in Photo 3 below. When a bus stops there and someone overtakes it yet another Keep Left island will catch them unawares. It cannot be seen on approach when a bus is at the stop.
St. Augustine's St. Augustine's St. Augustine's St. Augustine's
And if you think that is the extent of the madness, think again. If you’ve come down Heron Hill into St. Augustine’s Road and turn left at the church (top photos) the sticking out footpath ensures you end up on the wrong side of the road.

Traffic levels on the the road have been increasing recently because Harrow Manorway is so often blocked. Being stopped twice on the flyover is now almost the norm. My record is being brought to a standstill four times in just a couple of hundred yards.

Bexley Council’s road planning is absolutely crazy, or as Councillor John Davey, Vice Chairman of the Transport Committee at the time, told me in 2009, it’s Bonkers.

 

11 June (Part 1) - All at time and a half too!

Well how about that? 24 hours after featuring the neglected Sidcup War Memorial it’s given the attention it deserves. The mower went into action this morning.

It can’t be anything to do with Bonkers because no one at Bexley Council reads it. I’ve been told that often enough but how would they explain that 23 Councillors have at one time or another emailed me with information?

I think Bexley Council deserves a great big picture, don’t you? Sidcup
What next? Pot holes filled, litter bins emptied, roads swept, parks saved?

Note: MP James Brokenshire is due at the Memorial next Saturday as part of Sidcup’s Great War celebrations. Can’t have him seeing what a failure his local Council is can we?

 

10 June (Part 2) - I wouldn’t put it past the blighters

If you were wondering where Part 2 went… (it’s currently not quite five o’clock on the morning of Saturday 11th.)

It was based on the story of another reader who fell foul of Bexley Council and got a call from the police. I felt it necessary to take out identifying features to the extent I began to wonder whether it made sense. After spending rather too much time on the blog I asked Bexley Council’s victim what she thought of the draft. She was obviously scared stiff that Bexley Council would attack her again and was no longer sure she wanted to take that risk. I was promised a call back and it never came, so this is all that is left of what is now yesterday’s intended blog. My introduction and a few closing words.

It’s not the first time that I have found a vulnerable resident terrified of the power wielded by our corrupt Council.


TweetMy current decision to go easy on Bexley Police over the most recent instance of them appearing to do political favours has not gone down well with everybody. See Twitter response alongside.

The thinking is that if Bexley police can be persuaded that protecting Bexley Council; lying on their behalf when requested, and assisting their attempts to suppress transparency is counter-productive, it would be a better long term strategy than making complaints about individual officers.

At Portcullis House a couple of months ago the DPS spoke of the possibility of a former Bexley officer “having the book thrown at him”. Perverting justice to please Bexley Council is serious and must stop. Reacting to every tantrum thrown by a pair of silly Councillors is just not on.

In the most recent case the police log records that Sharon Massey accused her neighbour of wasting police time by seeking noise advice but it also concludes that the neighbour had not harassed her, so who actually wasted the police’s time? Not much maybe, the Peter Craske case has wasted more than four years of police time!

Another reader questions the strategy, she says that you don’t have to go public with an argument with Bexley Council to have the police at your door.


I was living in a flat above a shop on the edge of the [redacted] shopping centre and I fell out with Bexley Council. I had made a complaint [details redacted] and I was convinced that the response was a lie. I challenged the response and it was answered with signed documents that completely undermined my case. I knew beyond all doubt that those documents were false, but what can one do? I just made sure they knew I thought they were liars and left it at that. I didn’t know about Bexley is Bonkers at the time.

A few days later two police officers knocked on my door with I think a third in a car parked nearby. They said I was accused of child neglect. The female officer did all the talking and the threatening and spoke unusually loudly. I was very frightened and could barely think straight. I was angry at her indiscretion and asked her to keep her voice down, everyone on the street could hear what was being said. The WPC didn't care and didn't apologise.

I asked who reported me for but they wouldn’t say anything beyond that I’d left my daughter playing in the road for nearly an hour unsupervised. That’s impossible, it was a busy road, buses and everything. They said I had been washing down my front door, it was always grimy facing a busy road, and my daughter was unrestrained. Then there was a clue, one of the officers glanced up at the nearby CCTV camera. I had wondered why it was so often pointing at my door.

I was so frightened that I was shaking when they left.

I went to the police station about it but they wouldn’t tell me anything at all. I half expected them to say they knew who reported me but couldn’t tell me, instead they said there was nothing on file at all. Every time I read on your blog that the police have been helping Bexley Council I can’t help wondering if it was Bexley Council who took revenge on me.

Fortunately nothing came of the threat to report me to Social Services.


A rather long email has been very heavily edited retaining only the basics because I felt that the unexpurgated version could identify the writer to Bexley Council. It came with some supporting evidence attached. I couldn’t help but notice that the writer had fallen out with a senior member of the Council team that ran the CCTV system at the time. The victim was mortified when I told her that.

 

10 June (Part 1) - Cuts lead to no cutting

Rubbish!They asked and residents told them. Maybe not via Bexley Council’s intrusive questionnaire but certainly elsewhere. Once again Streetlife shows the level of discontent in the borough. It is being said that even small dogs can’t find their way through the long grass in parks. Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer twice said that if the Council did not sell 26 parks to fund a new lawn mower the other green spaces would all revert to jungles. Seems it has happened already.

“A cost cutting exercise gone wrong. Bexley Council has lost control. Bexley Council has been appallingly managed. I wrote to councillors, I was disgusted at the level of disinterest. Bexley is a strong Tory seat, you get what you vote for. A very unkempt borough. Going downhill fast. Seriously thinking of moving away from Bexley as the mismanagement and incompetence is starting to bother me. This is a Bexley only issue.”

Councillor Howard Marriner chipped into the Streetlife conversation and blamed the weather for making the grass grow. That went down well!


WeepThe lack of respect for War Memorials is especially disgraceful but does Bexley Council care about anything any more, apart from maintaining their allowances? Eighteen thousand pounds of new ones were introduced immediately after they were re-elected in 2014 after deceiving the electorate into believing that Bexley is a low tax borough. Only eight London boroughs are worse.

Sidcup Sidcup Sidcup Sidcup
Pictures by BiB’s Sidcup correspondent.

Streetlife link.

 

9 June (Part 3) - Curiouser and curiouser

It seemed to be a very odd state of affairs that Bexley Council’s Head of Legal who dishes out legal advice on the hoof at Council Meetings is not a qualified solicitor, but Bexley is a very odd sort of Council where very odd things go on unexplained.

Mr. Barnbrook who has turned Freedom of Information requests into an art form asked Bexley Council what the job requirements are for Head of Legal, and for good measure, what they are for the Legal Team Manager too. Neither are qualified solicitors.

With commendable speed, Human Resources Manager, Nick Hollier, gave a fulsome reply with no redactions at all. It was almost as though he wanted Mick to know everything as soon as possible.

The job description was very clear indeed. The Head of Legal must be either a qualified solicitor or a barrister. That section was marked E for Essential. It was the same for his sidekick although an exemption would be allowed for an exceptionally gifted candidate. One who can make up false statements on demand perhaps?
Job
The fact that Mr. Alabi is not a qualified solicitor is available for all to see on the Law Society’s website but just to be sure a formal enquiry was made to the Law Society which confirmed it.

The Bar Council’s website is similarly free of anyone named Akin Alabi. A formal enquiry has gone there too but with no reply so far.

Falsely masquerading as a solicitor is a criminal offence but perhaps a criminally inclined council wouldn’t want a proper solicitor with ethics to be observed on board.

Nothing should be taken for granted in Bexley.

 

9 June (Part 2) - Peace in our time?

CopsWhile the spotlight has been on Natasha Briggs’ tussle with the police and her unpleasant but mainly absent neighbours, Councillors Don and Sharon Massey, I still have not been arrested for highlighting her plight.

Somehow I don’t think I will be.

I wrote to Borough Commander Jeff Boothe on 23rd May asking him for the names of the two officers who said that arrangements must be made for me to visit Bexleyheath police station with a solicitor in tow and that I would be arrested if I did not comply. I also asked for details of Victoria Massey’s harassment complaint against me.

It will come as no surprise to you that I have been told nothing. Natasha has been left to guess the details of the complaint against her as well.

However I am not as displeased with Bexley police as you might imagine. Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe sent me a four sentence email totally devoid of any hint that a cell awaits. He said that in due course he will let me have a copy of the “rationale behind decisions”.

Maybe I am sometimes too willing to give the police the benefit of the doubt because it doesn’t often pay off, but I have interpreted CS Boothe‘s short email as him wishing none of it had ever happened and escalating it is the last thing on his mind.

If it is really true that we have a Borough Commander who is not primarily a pawn of Bexley’s crooked Council then BiB welcomes the change of direction and will likely let the matter drop, although I would like to know the names of the aggressive female officer and her colleague who threatened arrest for no reason. Maybe a Subject Access Request the same as Natasha’s will be necessary if my existing request is ignored. People need to know the names of police officers who try to frighten people.

If there is to be no complaint against Bexley police for succumbing to yet more political interference, what next? Natasha is formulating a complaint to Bexley Council about the behaviour of two Councillors but I don’t think I can do that. Cabinet Member Don Massey has been a bit too devious.

Just like Islamic State and other cowards he appears to use women and children as human shields. According to the police it was his daughter who complained about me further publicising her noisy party after she had posted pictures of it on Facebook.

 

9 June (Part 1) - People are starting to notice

Bacon“I’m starting to wonder what we actually get from the council these days.”

Very little and it’s going to get worse. Just wait until the only access method is a web form!

This ‘conversation’ is taken from Streetlife.

Paul Nevard was responsible for the Welling Corridor scheme which caused many accidents. His contact details were shown on Page 1 of the sham consultation document.

Note: Bexley’s website appears to be fully functional now after more than a week of outages.

 

8 June (Part 2) - One small step at a time, the Tories are closing Bexley down

Erith Town HallRoad cleaning reduced, recycling centres go part time, litter collections slashed, free garden waste collection cancelled, dog fouling warden sacked, public toilets sold, no more roadside trees, Sidcup Manor House closed, Danson Park Festival gone, four parks up for sale, Nature Reserves for the chop, Splash Park drained, street lights turned off, grass verges uncut, fallen leaves unswept, roadside weeds not sprayed, parking restrictions to go 24/7, Erith fire station loses an engine (a Bexley Councillor voted it through the GLA) . Is there ever going to be an end to it?

Well no. Erith Town Hall has just gone part time too. “Closed every Wednesday from 6 June.” Peculiar way of putting it, the 6th was a Monday, but all you need to know is that the front desk has shut.


Bridge Bexley Council is being starved of money by the Conservative Government and instead of planning for it they took up ostrich poses to block the flow of money into the borough.

Nothing sums up the stupidity of these two twerps (Council Leader Teresa O’Neill and - at the time - Cabinet Member Gareth Bacon) better than the Bexley Council publicity shot of them standing at the top of Knee Hill preferring to impoverish us all rather than get down to serious traffic management.

It’s a bit late now the chickens are coming home to roost - fast! But continued Conservative arrogance is plain for all who go to Council meetings to see. They need to be opposed. If you have a vote in St. Michael’s give them an opposition. Hold your nose and look the other way if you have to but vote for one of the two parties that have any chance at all of standing in the way of Bexley’s discredited Conservative Council.

I did it - a long time Conservative voter - in 2014 and Welling residents should do it on the 30th June.

Here’s the Labour leaflet. I asked UKIP for theirs but they seem to be a bit slow off the mark. One day they will be a big and resourceful party too.

Labour Labour

 

8 June (Part 1) - Caught between a rock and a hard place

BaconExactly six months ago today I was sitting by the telephone, metaphorically speaking, waiting for the promised call that was going to tell me if Councillor Cheryl Bacon, former Chief Executive Will Tuckley and Legal Team Manager, Lynn Tyler were going to be charged with Misconduct in Public Office for systematically lying about what happened in the Council Chamber on 19th June 2013.

But nothing happened.

The call eventually came through two weeks later on 18th December and was from the police in Greenwich. The Crown Prosecution Service would make a decision early in the New Year, and when that came and went the 5th February became the new date. And so it has gone on ever since.

PressThe documentary evidence that said Councillor Cheryl Bacon is a liar was overwhelming. All the Councillors present at that meeting and who read her statement about it or Bexley Council’s Press Statement know she lied. Nine Councillors wrote to me about it and none supported Cheryl Bacon. Four of them allowed their statement to go forward to the police as evidence of the lying.

Not a single word uttered by the former Deputy Leader on BBC TV was truthful. A DVD of that broadcast was part of the evidence and put together with a fat file of paper it seemed to satisfy an initially sceptical police investigation team. They sent it to the CPS about nine months ago, they never did make the date absolutely clear, however it certainly went there, I have seen a little of the correspondence.

My suspicion is that the CPS doesn’t know how to deal with it. They must know that the case against Bacon and Tuckley is strong and both could go to prison on conviction but the political embarrassment would be immense. Will Tuckley was appointed by Government appointed Commissioners to run Tower Hamlets Council after the previous Mayor and his cronies were slung out in disgrace. Can the establishment contemplate a near repeat?

PoliceThe CPS could have thrown the case out last Autumn under some pretext or other, Not in the Public Interest perhaps, but they also know that they would have to justify their decision to the complainants who would be legally entitled to challenge the decision.

Councillor Bacon was too arrogant to admit that she made a silly but inconsequential mistake. Instead she lied in the hope of escaping the consequences which would not have been worse than short term embarrassment. Look at what she did instead. Three years later the case still rumbles on and we are supposed to trust these people’s judgment to make decisions that affect us all.

It’s the same with the Masseys. In high dudgeon that a neighbour asked the police for advice over two noisy parties held in their flat over Easter they stormed off to the police station to make a complaint about that neighbour. And once again, look at the repercussions from that.

Cabinet Member Don Massey has been chosen by Leader Teresa O’Neill to make decisions on the borough’s parlous finances but his judgmental skills are clearly lacking. Used to be a magistrate too so people keep telling me.

 

7 June (Part 2) - The Masseys complained. See how quickly the police jumped

Ten weeks have flown by since noisy parties held in the Massey’s house at 37 Larch Grove, Sidcup resulted in the police deciding to pay a visit. The vindictive and arrogant Councillors took revenge by reporting their neighbour to the police for the harassment they imagined had taken place. This is exactly what one might expect from people who have been reported as going around the borough clearing it of plebs by shouting out “VIPs coming through”.

AddressThe Masseys’ decision resulted in their neighbour suffering police intruding into her house and an unpleasant interrogation. A couple of days later Natasha Briggs (for that is the neighbour’s name) asked the police for a copy of the complaint against herself and her daughter and patiently waited two months for it to arrive. Then she chased them about it. The police, clowns that they are, had posted it to No. 25 instead of 35. (Click image for their covering letter.)

Eventually, Natasha was able to retrieve the package from the Post Office and guess what? It did not contain a copy of Cabinet Member Don Masseys’s complaint. One can only assume that it consisted of a nod and a wink delivered to a compliant copper.

One of those compliant coppers was Acting Sergeant Chris Molnar, late of Thamesmead, and recently returned to it. I’ve met him half a dozen times, maybe more. He has been at my door delivering newsletters. I once told him that absolutely no policeman could ever be trusted, ultimately they serve their bosses not the public, and many of those bosses are more corrupt than you could ever imagine. (†) Chris Molnar and I remained on good terms.

Acting Sergeant Molnar enjoys and probably deserves a good reputation as an active Community Policeman. I think he understands my point of view.

Anyway, back to the Masseys and the non-answer to the request for a copy of his malicious allegation. The package provided by the police is very poorly presented, no wonder they are known as plod.

The police log reveals that the allegation of harassment was made at 10 a.m. on Saturday 2nd April, four days after the police took an interest in the second of the parties held at the Masseys’ address and the same day as it was first reported here.

Natasha was told when she asked for a copy of the complaint that it was made on the Sunday, not that it makes any difference, Sidcup Police Station is closed to the public throughout the weekend, so the suggestion that Councillor Don Massey took advantage of his position to gain access remains. The log says that it was prepared by the ‘Home Intelligence Unit” (don’t laugh) and the allegation was accepted under an obscure ‘Service’ known as ‘No Crime Refused’. Presumably something reserved for Councillors.

The police report under the section marked ‘Names/warrant numbers of all officers attending the scene’ records only the name of PC Stephens and no warrant number. However the second officer (from another report) was PS23RY Sergeant McInally.

The log goes on for 37 pages but many of them are almost entirely blank. Everything useful is shown below.
Police
PC Stephens’ comment about the teenagers not going outside is incorrect. One of Natasha’s earliest reports to me was that she opened her bedroom window in the early hours of the morning to call those in the garden to keep the noise down and the police log records that Natasha’s daughter Tilly told them the same thing. Consistent reporting is not easy when you are a policeman.

PC Stephens records his interview notes over three pages.
Police
The police report confuses the names Tilly with Victoria Massey, the Councillors’ daughter. Read with care and the intention is reasonably obvious.

Mrs. Massey being condescending and patronising will come as no surprise to anyone who has heard her attempting to take over Council meetings with loud asides about Labour members. She called Councillor Francis a Dickhead. One is inclined to believe Natasha when she says that in a private setting she has heard worse.
Police
In the interests of accuracy, I made two references to the Massey’s daughter in that blog. “She [Natasha] believes that 37 Larch Grove may be used occasionally by the Masseys’ daughters” and “Probably his daughter is only following in her mother’s footsteps. She is no stranger to parties which fall outside of the law.” Natasha’s report made more.
Police
It is perhaps relevant that PC Stephens has reported that Councillor Massey took his action against Natasha on Saturday 2nd April and by early afternoon that day he was writing up his notes. Unusually the blog dated the 2nd was allowed to go on line prematurely. It was published at 11:23 p.m. on the 1st. It is not clear whether of not Councillor Don Massey had seen it when he reported Natasha to the police eleven hours later.

Maybe the two police officers had a copy of the same day’s blog because Massey told them about it, but why did they then tell Natasha that the complaint was not about her contribution to BiB.

One has to ask “Is there any precedent for such a trivial ‘crime’ receiving such prompt attention?” Does anyone need any more proof that Bexley Police is merely a tool of Bexley Council?

Two days later, after Natasha had sought a copy of the complaint against her, PC Stephens was bashing his keyboard again.
Police
After being investigated, checked and countersigned by no less than seven named police officers, the report goes on to say that there has been no crime, which is good, obviously. What is not good is that no one thought to tell Natasha Briggs.

Natasha has asked me how and where to make her complaint.

I think the difficulty will be that the police will investigate themselves and will say they have followed their normal procedures which may even be true. There is the question of the aggressive and patronising interview style but that is difficult to prove too. Police officers probably don’t even recognise that what passes for normal normal behaviour in their circles is not acceptable to civilised people.

Any complaint will likely go around an expensive and time consuming circle and clear the police of all wrong doing. What might be more profitable is questioning Councillor Don Massey’s privileged access to the police and their incredibly speedy reaction to his timewasting complaint. Bexley police has a long history of bending the rules and lying at the request of Bexley Council. The corruption that lies behind it is occasionally extreme and has engaged their Department of Professional Standards (DPS) for years on end. Three successive Bexley Borough Commanders are currently being investigated by the DPS.

If I were Natasha I would go down the political interference into police procedures route, opening an office out of hours for a Councillor and immediate response to trivia, as a minimum reaction.

However it’s not the police who are most out of order in this, once again it is a Councillor who follows in Teresa O’Neill, Peter Craske, Philip Read and Cheryl Bacon’s footsteps by attacking a resident without good reason.

The Massey’s themselves should not be allowed to stand on the sidelines sneering. A formal written Complaint to the Monitoring Officer about abusing their position and bringing the Council into disrepute would be a good starting point.

† I have no hesitation in referring to the Met. Police as being corrupt. With privileged access to aspects of the Daniel Morgan Inquiry because of my family connections, I am absolutely convinced that Daniel was murdered with an axe through his skull on the instructions of Metropolitan Police Officers and Senior Officers right up to Commissioner level have conspired to cover up their involvement.

It has proved difficult to give the Daniel Morgan case adequate publicity because the mainstream media is involved in and is part of the corruption that surrounds the murder, however a series of ten crowd funded podcasts now describes it and the disgraceful behaviour of the Metropolitan Police. Corruption on an unheard of scale. The first of those Podcasts immediately went to Number One on the Apple iTunes download site.


Index to Larch Grove related blogs.

 

7 June (Part 1) - The unacceptable meets the unavoidable at Abbey Wood

SoutheasternThanks to Shelly on Twitter who pointed me in the right direction, it can now be revealed that the lift to Platform 1 on Abbey Wood station will be out of use from 15th to 22nd June. Wednesday to Wednesday.

Today Southeastern is giving out explanatory leaflets to Abbey Wood travellers.

Previous lift reference.

 

6 June (Part 3) - No one likes us, we don’t care. Make them

StreetlifeBexley Council is getting to be increasingly unpopular which, if BiB has anything to do with it, makes all the time taken up by the blog worthwhile.

Listening to you, working for you is so far removed from the truth as to be risible. Even the Councillor who invented the slogan has her doubts about it.

On Streetlife a comment made less than 24 hours ago has provoked more than two dozen replies. None complimentary.

The subject is the state of parks, green spaces and verges. Certainly there is a partly self-inflicted financial crisis in Bexley but one cannot have any sympathy with a bunch of self-serving abusers of the public who only a few weeks ago voted to keep their allowances high rather than reduce them and spend the saving on better public services.

If you have a vote in St. Michael’s on the 30th, UKIP or Labour is the only sensible choice.

Streetlife.

 

6 June (Part 2) - Crossrail closes Costcutter

Bailiffs CostcutterIt was inevitable and it closed more than a week ago - but I forgot about it. The Costcutter store in Felixstowe Road, Abbey Wood was deprived of all parking facilities several months ago and of all passing trade when the station entrance was closed in April.

According to the owner of the beauty salon next door, the bailiffs went in and Costcutter was closed a few minutes later. The notice on the door suggests much the same thing and the shutters were down on the salon today as well.

When I was taking notes at the Abbey Wood Traders’ Association meeting six weeks ago, the Crossrail PR man who was there to give the traders an update said there was no provision to provide compensation to commercial operations which it forced out of business.

Given the misery inflicted on Abbey Wood by the disruption generally and the station closure on every weekend for the past six months it is a miracle that more traders have not gone to the wall.

More misery is due at the station shortly, at least for some. The lift to Platform 1 is to be taken out of service.

Crossrail CrossrailAs the new Dartford bound platform is readied for its first train on 20th August the precast concrete blocks have been making their way to the central footbridge.

When they get there making the arrangements to get around the Platform 1 lift will take longer than a weekend, so it will be out of service for a whole week.

Perhaps disabled passengers heading towards London will be sent down to Erith to make the change to a London bound train. Oh no! That won’t work, Erith hasn’t got a lift either.

Update: The lift closure will be from 15th to 22nd June.

 

6 June (Part 1) - Bexleyheath set to be a ghost town run by ghouls

SawyerCabinet Member for Traffic and Transport, Alex Sawyer, is fond of saying that motorists are very often used as a cash cow which I naively believed meant he was against it. I should have known better. He was not in favour of closing the Belvedere Splash Park and he was not keen on selling Old Farm Park when he was the responsible Cabinet Member but he went ahead and voted against the wishes of the public anyway. Why should we be surprised that parking charges go up by 10% today, on top of last year’s up to 50% rise, now that he is looking after traffic matters?

Maybe Councillor Sawyer would argue that parking charges were not his business when the increases were approved but he won’t be able to use that excuse when the next attack on motorists takes effect. Not that it is just an attack on motorists, the plan is to attack businesses too, in particular the so called night time economy of Bexleyheath.

Bexley Council wants to extend parking restrictions to Sunday and to midnight every day of the week.

They are already blaming residents for their proposal but we all know the real reason. Bexley Conservatives have run the borough’s economy into the ground and desperately need the money to avoid going broke. There is to be a consultation but when has that ever changed anything in Bexley? Never.

I don’t think I can do better than a Bexleyheath resident in further criticism of the draconian proposals.


As a resident of **** Road I have received a letter from a Stephen Bates of Bexley Council Traffic Services inviting my views on a proposal to extend the effective hours of the Bexleyheath Town Centre Controlled Parking Zone to include Sundays and evenings even up to midnight. This is claimed to be in response to complaints from local residents and businesses about difficulties being caused by increased levels of on street parking on Sundays and evenings.

What a load of bunkum. The only reason Bexley would like to introduce it would be the extra pound notes they think they could squeeze from the motorist cash cow. They see the extra cars on late night shopping nights and Sundays and want to get their greedy hands on possible extra revenue.

They could though be in for a nasty shock if the Sunday and late night shoppers just boycotted Bexleyheath and keep going a few more miles to Bluewater with free parking and a larger range of shops.

The Council letter refers to complaints from businesses but I would have thought that businesses were more likely to lose trade if this proposal was introduced.

I will of course send in my views to the Council not that I expect they will make the slightest difference to what the the Council elite will have already decided will be the outcome of this public consultation.

On a purely selfish level it would not make any difference at all to me personally since I have a driveway on which I can park my car and am within walking distance of the Bexleyheath shops. The extra parked cars outside my house on a Sunday or late night shopping nights do not cause me any problems.

Thinking back though to when I worked early Monday to late Friday and my wife worked most Saturdays the only times we could go shopping together for larger household purchases was Sundays or late shopping nights.

For the many people in similar circumstances I would not like to see their lives made more difficult by money grubbing Bexley Council.

I am surprised that I had not heard anything about this proposal from your blog or is this perhaps something the inner sanctum of councillors is trying to push through on the QT without it being discussed at any council meeting?


No, there’s been nothing in Council about that but it’s not just shoppers and restaurant goers who will suffer from the consequences of Bexley Council’s financial ineptitude but anyone who invites friends round during the evening or at the weekend. They will need a visitor’s permit.

And what about those of us who go to Council meetings to try to keep tabs on the bastards? I used to go by bus but it puts an hour or more extra on the time taken out of life and these days I carry two cameras with big lenses and a sound recorder.

If the only time you can park on a single yellow is to be midnight till eight in the morning, why not make them all double yellows and be done with it?

How long before their insatiable greed spreads to other areas?

O'Neill Bailey Craske Read Massey

The evil heart of Bexley Council.

 

5 June - The weekend waffle - again

I was saying to friends on Friday evening that I felt a great responsibility writing this blog, I had no idea what I was getting into when I decided to expose Bexley Council’s lies back in 2009. I had no idea back then that they do little but lie and all too often they have little option because they must cover their law breaking.

I feel a great responsibility too when a message like this arrives overnight - as it did today. “Keep up the good work, you are the reason I log on each morning.”

Imagine how it feels when there is nothing worth reporting. What can I say? A great deal of Bexley’s website is still down. I do hope they are not going to continue to hold public meetings this week without publishing the Agendas because that would be illegal too.

It is frightening that Bexley Council is planning on making all its services web based. Newham Council made that mistake and currently causing me umpteen problems. But that may be a story for another day.

After two weeks of steering well clear of Bexleyheath police station I have still not been arrested. Cory Environmental are still intent on killing off Bexley’s last remaining skylarks.

TweetThere is to be a by-election in Welling and both Labour and Conservative parties are claiming to be winning converts. I think the UKIP people are too busy earning a living and saving the country from the madhouse which is the European Union to spare a lot of time for canvassing.

If you believe in democracy do not vote Conservative, even if like me that is your natural inclination.

There are too many Tories on Bexley Council, 45 out of 63, and they abuse their position relentlessly.

Except in the rarest of circumstances they always vote as one. They lie and unnecessarily ridicule the opposition. They are in a word, corrupt and this website has chronicled their corrupt practices for the past six years.

Their only response has been to make up stories and ask their military wing to threaten my arrest if I continue. Unlike stories by Bexley’s Tories nothing has been made up on BiB which so far at least has proved to be a safe policy.

The Conservative candidate Ray Sams was a Bexley Councillor until 2014. Except for his time as Mayor he was not much mentioned on BiB. Generally mute, not putting his head above the parapet, nothing but voting fodder for Leader Teresa O’Neill. She doesn’t need another hand to go up whenever she barks a command. Show your contempt for that dictator by voting for someone else.

Do not on any account add to The Conservatives’ power base in Bexley, it can only harm local democracy.


Crossrail CrossrailI have long planned to ‘release’ the next set of pictures today documenting preparations (from late March) for laying the Crossrail track east of Abbey Wood station. I had guessed that by early June we might see the scene transformed from a strip of mud to a railway line.

It’s not happened but this weekend represents a milestone of sorts. The first set of points has been installed.

Harrow Manorway was back to normal by lunchtime today, its bus shelter gone. Network Rail does not hang around.

In nearby Lesnes Abbey where Bexley Council is doing the project management, almost nothing has happened. No surprise there then.

 

4 June (Part 3) - Can you polish the absurd?

There were perhaps three reasons why there was no blog yesterday. Time was wasted doing battle with Newham Council’s Social Services again. I really cannot believe how incompetent they are and callous in their attitude to the elderly - not me, my 96 year old aunt - and I was invited out to dinner by a BiB reader, and very good it was too.

But the main reason for the gap was that far too much time was wasted wondering how I could relate a conversation overheard locally which might illustrate how our borough, or maybe it is just the neglected north, is quickly going down the pan. Unfortunately that conversation came to a rapid halt when someone shouted “racist” and I didn’t want to risk the same.

Suffice to say the subject was the frequently bad behaviour one can see in and around Abbey Wood. There is the shouting and hollering, often into a mobile phone and peppered with profanities, outside Cabinet Member Peter Craske’s beloved betting shops. And the urinating against walls, defecation in shop doorways, and the spitting which is all too common. I have seen one black bum, one white willy and mid-European expectoration all within the past two or three weeks.

The somewhat heated conversation was over whether these growing problems are indicative of a general lowering of standards or the multiculturalism which no one is allowed to discuss. For the record the white willy waver was almost certainly English, he grunted an apology at me as I passed by.

The jungleHowever I suspect some of it is cultural. The house next door to me was bought ten years ago by someone who had come from a country where gardens are probably not for ordinary folk. In all of those years they have never once trimmed their hedge or cut the front lawn. I have had to do it (carefully avoiding the supermarket trolley and the hose reel left there by the previous owner) and their back lawn has never been cut except by me or the neighbour on the other side.

This morning my brown bin was emptied and none of its content was my own.

When two trees became dangerously overgrown it was me who had to pay to have them removed.

Last October half next door’s fence blew down and at Easter the rest of it went. It still lies where it fell.

My enthusiasm for multiculturalism may be on the wane but that is not all of what the aforesaid argument was about.

The fear was that the money to be spent on Abbey Wood’s Wilton Road will do little to arrest the decline of the public realm because those who frequent it will neither appreciate it or respect it.

Fly tipping Station CarsFly tipping is a daily phenomenon and fortunately, for the most part, Bexley’s special collection service is almost as frequent. Not so frequent, unfortunately, is the general litter collection and bin emptying which has been subjected to severe budgetary cuts.

The theory is that smartening up the area will, with the help of Crossrail, bring in a better class of shopper. It could do, but where will the present crop of degenerates go?

Although the shop front improvements that the two Councils have organised will not start to appear until the middle of July, one sign (pun unintended) of it can already be seen.

There is a temporary name plate above the cab office. Why the old sign couldn’t stay there until the new one was ready, no one knows but probably someone would have made a small profit from an additional dip into public funds.

Hair dresser's Hair dresser'sMuch more attractive is the hairdresser’s shop. The owner didn’t like the plans proposed by Bexley Council and their agents. She thought she could do something better and cheaper and more in keeping with premises that have been there since 1895.

Not yet finished but It is already looking quite magnificent and will likely put the rest of the Council approved aluminium, plastic and glass to shame.

Existing signs are due for a move but the ironmongery on the left and currently painted green will have to stay. It is there on the instructions of the insurance company after petrol was poured through the letter box and ignited.

As the combatants in the original argument were saying, you see some nice people in Abbey Wood.

 

4 June (Part 2) - Crossrail continues to create chaos

It was advertised in advance, in their monthly newsletter at least, but this weekend Network Rail are pulling down the Harrow Manorway flyover bus shelter. The stop was moved to the south two or three weeks ago.

The work will endear them to no one. The flyover between the two pedestrian crossings is reduced to one way light controlled operation and the traffic is queued back to Knee Hill, Abbey Road and back under the flyover.

The southbound bus stop has been taken out of use but the sign is not adjacent to the bus layby and was confusing a couple of elderly ladies while I was there. Understandably they were very annoyed to have to carry their bags a quarter of a mile to the Knee Hill stop.

Some more photos of the demolition work may be seen here. (Scroll down.)
Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail
It is getting more and more difficult to take photos around Abbey Wood station. Whilst the great majority of workers are tolerant at least and some offer welcome assistance, such as being permitted to be on the station footbridge whilst the station is closed, not everyone is happy even though I avoid taking photos of workers who might be accused of doing nothing at the time.

This morning, and not for the first time, I was yelled at for being on the narrow footpath overlooking Felixstowe Road. However the words were delivered in an Irish accent so thick I have no real idea what was said, but it didn’t sound friendly.

I know that the Crossrail Act of 2008 gives permission for them to ride roughshod over everyone and everything if they feel so inclined, but I do not believe that it gives them any authority to stop me walking in the road when I judge it is reasonably safe to do so.

If BiB’s future Crossrail reports become a little less positive about the frequently magnificent planning and engineering that has unfolded under the noses of Abbey Wooders, you may safely assume that not all Irish eyes have been smiling.

The flyover should be back to what passes for normal by Monday.

 

4 June (Part 1) - Last orders

Leather Bottle Leather BottleEverything’s got to go to cope with the ever increasing population and in ten days time it will be the turn of the 17th century, Grade II listed Leather Bottle pub in Belvedere.

Nothing can stop its demise, Bexley Council’s planning portal, one of the few parts of their website that isn’t broken, confirms that their permission is not required. So here’s today’s picture of another piece of Bexley history condemned to oblivion to remember it by.

With thanks to BiB reader Sharon you can get a rough idea below of what it sold for…


Agent Fleurets has sold the freehold of the Ye Olde Leather Bottle in Belvedere, Bexley, London, for 20% above the guide price of £600,000 to £700,000.

Simon Bland, of Fleurets, said: “Interest in the Leather Bottle was both immediate and very keen, resulting in the number of offers received easily reaching double figures and the final price achieved exceeding initial expectations. This is further clear evidence of the strength of demand we are experiencing and consistent with a number of other recent successful sales we have completed in south east London and into Kent.

”The property is a 17th century, grade II listed building, situated on Heron Hill, a stones throw away from Lesnes Abbey Woods.

http://www.propelinfonews.com/pi-Newsletter.php?datetime=2015-09-28%2008:00:00. (Scroll half way down the page.)

 

2 June - Another rushed job. The blog that is

Wilton RoadI really shouldn’t have agreed to act as Secretary to the Abbey Wood Traders’ Association; it has taken at least five hours to write their minutes. A small benefit is that their meetings occasionally provide access to information I might not otherwise come across but on the other hand it would not always be right to reveal it. Like the sky high prices that certain well known buildings have gone for recently. And they used to say Abbey Wood is cheap.

Probably the picture of what the proposed sign at the entrance to Wilton Road might look like is not too big a secret.

Greenwich Council is going to spend £250,000 on tarting up both sides of the road, that’s why it has paint daubed all over it at the moment, but the plans are still fluid.

A start date could be anything from six months away to more than a year. Presumably Bexley Council will continue to let the litter accumulate because it chose higher Councillor Allowances over more frequent street cleaning.

Trees are a likely addition to the scene. Gayton and Felixstowe Roads won’t be improved until the Spring of 2018.


Complaint against Bexley police
My contact at the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards reminded me that a complaint to the IPCC might sit in their Intray for a year but will eventually finish up with the DPS. The DPS will judge whether Bexley police are guilty of Misconduct or Gross Misconduct. If the former they will be asked to investigate themselves and if the latter the DPS will take on the job.

I think the best course is to sit and wait and see if given enough rope they will hang themselves - or keep their heads down.

The lady in Sidcup who the Masseys accused of harassment is planning a nice little surprise for our beloved Cabinet Member. There may not be much of interest going on in Bexley at the moment but the future looks rather brighter.

At least I think there is nothing interesting going on in Bexley Council, can’t be sure because their democracy website is still down. Silly name for a Bexley Council sub-domain really. I hope they aren't holding meetings without pubishing Agendas, that might be every bit as naughty as holding Code of Conduct Committee meetings without a written complaint to legitimise it.

Michael Barnbrook
Election expensesMick was feeling rather pleased with himself last night. He is the complainant against the Tories alleged overspending of election expenses.

With the help of Michael Crick of Channel 4 News who he has met several times, even home visits, he has forced three police forces to seek extensions from the Courts to continue their investigations into the Conservatives’ disregard for the law.

A trait that appears to be fast becoming their norm, especially in Bexley.

The right wing press seems to be somewhat reluctant to report the news. Click the image for The Guardian’s report.

If Mick’s complaint succeeds, Nigel Farage might have to thank a man he refused to let join his party. Politics is a weird business.

 

1 June (Part 3) - Cabbie politics

Still only the one complaint about the Brexit adverts - hang on a minute, I think Councillor Danny Hackett had a little moan about it at the last Council meeting - but I did get a lecture about it from a black cab driver who took me and my two children out of the hell hole that is Oxford Street on Saturday.

The cabbie was running a poll among passengers, nearly 800 of them he said. His results were 55% in, 29% out and the undecided were inclined to stay in. He claimed only one refusal to answer.

I doubt that London cab passengers are a representative sample. All City types and European tourists. The cabbie reckoned he carried the occasional northerner too, probably Scots.

My fellow passengers didn’t change his poll much, one an indoctrinated Leftie from the BBC, the other holds a nice little contract with the EU and takes expenses paid trips to Brussels. Self interest or what?

To redress the balance, here’s a little piece of doggerel someone sent me which might appeal to those who remember the Prime Ministerial lies of 1975 and won’t so easily swallow more…


Won’t you join our Common Market? said the spider to the fly,
It really is a winner and the cost is not too high.
I know de Gaulle said “Non”, but he hadn’t got a clue,
We want you in, my friends and I, for we have plans for you.

You’ll have to pay a little more than we do just for now,
As Herr Kohl said, and I agree, “we need a new milch cow”,
It’s just a Continental term, believe me, mon ami,
Like “Vive le France or Mad Anglaise or even E.E.C”.

As to the rules, don’t worry friend, there’s really but a few
You’ll find that we ignore them - but they do apply to you.
Give and share between us, that’s what it’s all about,
You do all the giving, and we all share it out.

It’s very British, is it not, to help a friend in need?
You’ve done it twice in two World Wars, a fact we must concede,
So climb aboard the Market Train, don’t sit there on the side,
Your Continental cousins want to take you for a ride.

 

1 June (Part 2) - Penny wise, pound foolish

DownI’m not sure for exactly how long it has been broken but the democracy half of Bexley Council’s website has been down since Saturday at least. In particular there is no access to the calendar of meetings and the Agendas that go with them.

In turn this means that Bexley must cancel all its public meetings this week and through to next Wednesday at least. From memory I don’t think there are many but if they go ahead with them it will be an offence under the Local Government Act. Agendas for public meetings must be made available seven days before the event.

I won’t be complaining but I know a man who probably will.

I could look up the council’s statement on how they would save a lot of money and get a better service if they swapped IT contractor, but I can’t. Their website is down.

 

1 June (Part 1) - Someone has to do it

There isn’t really anything new and juicy with which to kick off the new month but the work involved seems to be non-stop nevertheless.

Someone said to me yesterday “I must say I really admire you for taking the time to blog about Bexley council and what they get up to. Not sure I’d have the balls to do it. You give a real insight into what’s happening, without you we’d be none the wiser!” Yes, I hate having to do it, but someone has to and as I must have said before, BiB is like a fast moving treadmill and jumping off would hand victory to those who think they can get away with whatever they feel like.

I’d rather it was not the case but it looks like another argument with the police is looming. It would be too easy to look the other way so that they can abuse someone less able to stand up for themself.

It is more than eight weeks since the Massey’s neighbour in Sidcup returned home from walking the dog to find two police officers inside her house and she still doesn’t know why except that Cabinet Member Don Massey had managed to get into Sidcup Police Station out of hours and complained about her. A written request for more information made only a few days later was ignored.

It is not quite two weeks since I was put through a similar experience and I have not visited Bexleyheath Police Station as instructed and certainly not with a solicitor as advised. Neither have I been arrested as was threatened for non-cooperation.

Like the Massey’s neighbour, my request for a copy of the Massey’s complaint has been ignored. Perhaps letting the matter quietly drop is in some ways the best way forward for the Borough Commander but that will not get the officers who visited me and caused unnecessary worry, albeit not for very long, off the hook. One way or another their names will be elevated to high places before very long.

Having acquired several useful contacts at the Met. because of the past misdemeanours of Bexley police officers I wrote to one of them today to ask where a complaint might be best sent to achieve the quickest resolution.


Dear DS Xxxx,

Don’t worry, Elwyn and I are not chasing you, we are content to wait – for a reasonable length of time anyway.

This is an informal request for guidance; it is probably inevitable that I am going to have to make another complaint about Bexley police who once again seem to be concerned only with doing Bexley Council’s bidding.

A couple of months ago I brought together on my blog three bits of information freely available on the web. That the main residence of two married Bexley Councillors is not in Bexley. That they rent an address in Bexley and that address is used by their daughter and is the venue for parties. Companies House, Bexley Council’s website and the daughter’s Facebook page were the sources respectively.

The lady who suffers noise from the parties called 101 for advice and the police decided to make a visit. As a result of this the Councillor made a formal complaint of harassment against his neighbour at a police station which was closed to the public on the day in question.

Two police officers visited the aforesaid lady while she was out and, let in by her daughter, awaited her return.

More than eight weeks later she still has no idea what the complaint is as Bexley police has ignored her request for information.

Twelve days ago three police officers visited my home although one remained with his car. They invited me to Bexleyheath Police Station and said it would be best if I was accompanied by a solicitor. One of the officers told me I would be arrested if I did not agree to go. I too had been accused of harassment by the Councillors but neither officers could give details beyond that.

I wrote to the Borough Commander to request a copy of the complaint against me. I stressed that it was required urgently because of the threat of arrest. I too have been ignored and I have not attended the police station.

I think it is possible that the Borough Commander is following in the footsteps of his three predecessors by giving special dispensation to local politicians and it may be the case that I will make a formal allegation of Misconduct.

I most certainly will against the officers who visited my house and the lady who received a similar visit has indicated that she will join me.

So the question is, should I send the complaint to the IPCC, to the Commissioner or to your department? The Professional Standards Unit in Bexleyheath is, as you will know from your files, not fit for purpose.

I am not requesting you comment beyond answering that question if you can, but for the record, everything I have written recently about this situation may be viewed at http://www.bexley-is-bonkers.co.uk/home_archive/026.php

The page is not linked to the main website, it contains nothing new, it merely brings together what would be otherwise more difficult to find.

Yours sincerely,

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