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Bonkers Blog November 2009

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30 November - Blackwall tunnel shut

As anyone out and about in Bexley today will have noticed, the traffic congestion has been dreadful on main routes and the reason is that Blackwall tunnel is shut northbound. There was a vehicle fire yesterday evening close to the northern exit and the tunnel is likely to be unusable until Wednesday.

It’s hard to know which bunch of politicians to blame for the inadequate links across the Thames. Bexley’s Conservatives are proud to have cut off residents from job opportunities across the river by successfully campaigning for Boris Johnson to cancel the bridge proposed by his predecessor Ken Livingstone. And we have Red Ken who banned the contra-flow in the southbound tunnel. Boris has since changed his mind and belatedly realised that cancelling the crossing was a mistake but he has so far failed to reintroduce the contra-flow he promised at election time - though infrastructure to support it appears to have been installed.

The chaos caused every time there is a problem with the tunnel is yet another example of Bexley’s Conservatives council being wrong about road planning. They may claim that the bridge will have introduced additional pollution but that is only because they lacked the will and probably the skill to devise a way of confining most traffic to major roads. As a result Woolwich and Charlton suffer pollution due to standing traffic on a daily basis. Today we all reap the consequences of Bexley Conservatives short-sighted and parochial attitude.

P.S. Someone decided that the traffic chaos was just too much for London to bear and scrapped the extended safety checks planned for the next two days. The tunnel reopened this evening.

 

27 November - Too narrow by far - click image for photo gallery (1 image)

14 inch of road relaidA new drain pipe has been laid under the kerb in Abbey Road leaving a road infill about 14" (35 centimetres) wide. The contractor rightly judged that the road was too narrow with the small strip temporarily unavailable and so the traffic lights had to remain until this afternoon when the underlying concrete had set. What better illustration does one need that the road is too narrow when the loss of a foot of width renders it impassable? No wonder it feels so dangerous to stand on one of those refuges and have fast moving traffic passing the end of your nose and that motorists clip the kerb or even hit and injure pedestrians.

Maybe it is time to remind ourselves who is responsible for this disgrace. It was Andrew Bashford who headed the team responsible for the design and withheld information about its likely consequences when consulting a small minority of affected residents. It was Conservative councillor Peter Craske who failed to spot the flaws in the design and authorised the go-ahead, and it was Conservative councillor John Davey who said he saw no justification for it but decided to stand idly by. Standing idly by is what he does it seems, because he knew full well that motorists were being given parking tickets in the most dubious of circumstances but once again thought his loyalties lay with fellow councillors and council employees rather than his electorate. To my mind that is a form of corruption. Remember how Craske and Davey have let us all down when the next elections are due in six months time.

 

26 November - Correcting the mistakes - click image for photo gallery (2 images)

Digging for drainsAnother day, another excuse to spend our money. I asked the contractor’s man what is going on this time; it’s the only way to get a straight answer. Apparently the surface water accumulates at this point and another drain is to be installed. I’ve not seen puddles here but water does accumulate on the other side of the road. And why are some of the pedestrian refuges being excavated and then filled in again? Because they are a centimetre too high, as if that makes any real difference to road safety. But better I suppose than in Bromley where it seems to be policy to have the traffic islands about 25 centimetres above the road surface and where destroying front suspension systems is what that council does best.

 

25 November - The folly continues - click any image for photo gallery (6 images)

Refuge concrete removed No need for lightsI went past this spot, the junction of Abbey Road and Carrill Way at 2 p.m. yesterday and when I returned late in the evening the traffic lights were back. The traffic had been held up again during yesterday’s evening rush hour, all night and again this morning. All that had been done was the new concrete of the central refuge had been dug out presumably heralding the installation of yet more unnecessary and life threatening ironmongery. As these photographs taken at 7.30 a.m show there was absolutely no problem with the road surface to justify the lights, it was exactly as normal.

After extra ironmongery was installed further east a week ago I had a word with my Transport Research Laboratory contact to get a quick reaction to placing metal poles in the middle of the road. Basically he was horrified that insult was being added to injury. Bexley’s road planning clown, Andrew Bashford, had claimed that the changes in Abbey Road were supported by T.R.L. research but comparison of it and the Bexley implementation showed that to be another falsehood, and now having ignored the warning that the scheme would result in the accidents we have since seen, the accident-safe plastic bollards are being augmented with steel poles to maximise injury in the event of collision. I wonder if councillor Craske, the buffoon who authorised the scheme with his signature was consulted again about throwing good money after bad by adding yet more hazards for drivers to negotiate?

At 9.00 a.m. fresh concrete was poured into the pedestrian refuge and half an hour later I emailed the council to ask why the road had been traffic controlled since yesterday without any clear need for it. At 10 the concrete was smoothed over by a man working on the traffic island for ten minutes which may have justified lights because they slowed the traffic and by 10.30 the lights were parked on the pavement and the road was clear again. The odd thing is that there are three more islands towards Belvedere which are being similarly dug out and then concreted back in without the ‘benefit’ of traffic lights and outside the Soviet style barracks a trench is being dug right across the road reducing it to less than half width and one-way traffic but no traffic control is deemed necessary. Bexley council not only waste money on countless unnecessary road contracts, they haven’t the skills to manage them properly.

By late afternoon more pedestrian refuges had been dug out, including another one at the site pictured.

 

20 November - Bexley refuse collections - worst in London?

Yesterday I added to the site a report on Bexley’s ‘worst refuse service in London’ poll result and expressed my doubts that it was quite that bad. I was too generous: today my green wheelie bin wasn’t emptied. In an attempt to be helpful my two neighbours and I place all our bins together; theirs were emptied OK. Maybe three bins side by side is confusing. Perhaps we shouldn’t do it any more.

 

18 November - More attempts to cover up their mistakes - click any image for photo gallery (5 images)

Extra keep left signs Extra keep left signsBexley council never learns from its mistakes does it? They make so many that you would have thought a penny might have dropped by now, but they press on with their incompetence as if their jobs depend on it, and in a way they do. If they got things right for a change they might run out of things to waste our money on.

Once again today’s spotlight falls on Abbey Road which thanks to council stupidity and the toothless councillor Davey failing to act on his belief that its redesign couldn’t be justified, is fast developing into an accident black spot. The only problem with Abbey Road was that it was straight and some lawless people used it as a racetrack and a few would even overtake on the wrong side of Keep Left bollards. But it was not only straight, it was wide, which allowed reasonable separation between vehicles and pavement, so it didn’t register on the council’s radar for being dangerous. In the words of my Transport Research Laboratory commentator, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, but that doesn’t make work for idle hands or satisfy the politically correct agenda of people like Andrew Bashley who deceived residents with a restricted and less than truthful public consultation and was determined to justify his existence whatever the risk to life and limb.

Needless to say his mad-cap scheme has not in any obvious way slowed the traffic, but it has predictably caused more impatience which in turn has led to reckless overtaking and accidents. Today the latest Elastoplast® is being applied to patch up the expensive mess Bexley council has created. The plastic Keep Left bollards are being augmented by metal keep left signs mounted on steel poles. Traditional Keep Left bollards are lightweight plastic shells illuminated from ground mounted lamps so that in the event of an accident they cause minimal damage and can be inexpensively replaced. But a proven safety measure is now being abandoned in a desperate attempt to catch the attention of those frustrated by Bexley’s latest road design disaster. What makes Bexley council think that a metal sign will be more effective than an illuminated plastic one? Ah, my mistake; thinking is not what they do is it? Next time there is an accident like this we will not only have a pedestrian’s leg badly injured but his skull will be cracked too as a steel pole crashes into his head.

 

17 November - Confusing signs. Can Bexley council do nothing right? - click any image for photo gallery (3 images)

Flying cycles? Cycles keep to the nearside of the pavement Cycles keep to the outside of the pavementYou may assume from reading this blog that I don’t often venture far from Abbey Road, Belvedere and in some respects you would be right. After Bexley took over parking control from the police many years ago, I stopped shopping in Bexleyheath, preferring to drive to friendlier towns and now that I hardly ever use a car it’s a habit that hasn’t lapsed. Getting away from Bexleyheath by train from Abbey Wood is invariably far more attractive. I now realise it’s a very good job I do tend to confine myself to such a small corner of the borough; I dread to think how much idiocy I would stumble upon daily if I went further afield, there is quite enough nonsense within a few hundred yards of home.

I should have noticed before but I had been pre-occupied with the ugliness of the plethora of new road signs introduced to Abbey Road and I’d not properly taken in their full meaning. It looks as though Bexley has bought a job lot of signs and not stopped to consider what was required following the introduction of their recipe for collisions. In the space of a few metres on a pavement devoid of any demarcation between cyclists and legitimate pavement users there are signs indicating cycles flying over parents and children, others only acknowledging the rights of cyclists, some accompanied by warnings of elderly people, and others not. And where signs indicate a demarcation line between cyclists and pedestrians, even though no such demarcation is present, the signs contradict each other, some indicating cyclists should keep near to the road and others the reverse. I suppose it’s what’s to be expected when allowing thickos to occupy positions of responsibility.

 

16 November - More powerful eyes spying on you - click image for photo gallery (1 image)

Bexley spycamsHarrow Manorway and the adjacent Abbey Wood railway station must be one of the most spied upon places in Bexley. The number of cameras in the vicinity is in the low teens with up to four mounted on poles only a couple of feet apart. I find it really unnerving (and I’m not alone according to site feed-back) to have unknown eyes following my every move. It’s not as though the operators can be trusted as the several News Shopper reports of them peering through bedroom windows will confirm. But all that is now a thing of the past, the old cameras have been replaced by dome mounted devices which can look in any direction but it’s near impossible to tell which.

I have some experience with these ‘dome’ cameras, I have one mounted over my front door. The steering and zooming capability is disabled as it is pointless unless I am prepared to monitor it constantly, but while setting it up I did play around with it for a while. It can pick out a single brick on a house 150 metres from me or focus on a single car well over a quarter of a mile away. There is no escape from this intrusive spying eye and who would trust Bexley council to do anything with totally honest intentions? What do the Harrow Manorway cameras monitor? The bus lane of course, and was that bus lane installed to speed the passage of buses. No it wasn’t. Bexley council admitted in writing to me that it was installed solely to persecute car drivers dropping off passengers for the station.

One must wonder about the sort of people that Bexley council, probably most councils, employs. My guess is that the Hitlerite tendencies go hand-in-hand with low intelligence. If one wishes to be some sort of boss, the honourable route is to study, work hard and be successful in one’s chosen career. But if one is is some sort of power crazed dunderhead the obvious job is in local government where one is immediately able to indulge almost any wicked fantasy with impunity. Such as sticking up inadequate parking notices and collecting fines or wrecking people’s lives.

 

13 November - Council soaks us again

It’s not often I have to use an umbrella on the morning walk to get my newspaper and today was the first wet walk I recall along the new, narrow, dangerous Abbey Road. It wasn’t a torrential downpour, just a steady drizzle, but enough for water to accumulate alongside the kerbstones. As the cars went speeding by with no space for recovery from error thanks to the stupidly gullible Conservative councillor Peter Craske, the extra risk of them skidding into pedestrians crossed my mind, but that proved not to be the immediate concern. This busy road is now so narrow, once the parking spaces have filled, drivers must keep their nearside wheels close to the gutters to avoid collisions and throw up a near constant spray of water for pedestrians to contend with. I bet the numbskulls such as Andrew Bashford who designed this calamity never thought of that.

 

4 November - Council tax up again?

One of my informers has sent me a cutting from last Monday’s Evening Standard in which they report that whilst other Conservative councils in London are expected to cut or freeze council tax in 2010, Bexley hopes only to get close to the Retail Price Index. How much longer do we have a choice only between an incompetent Conservative council that can’t stop wasting money on mad schemes and a local Labour party that thinks 17% increases are “reasonable”?

 

2 November - Cyclists’ race track puts pedestrians at risk - click image for photo gallery (1 image)

Street clutterI suppose it was inevitable once councillor Craske had signed away half a million pounds on the basis of five sentences of ill-researched advice from Andrew Bashford that the environment would be despoiled by yet more street clutter in Abbey Road. At the point shown six cycling signs have been installed today within the space of 30 metres, and that’s just on one side of the road.

Councillor Davey, never forget, said on 7th May this year “The idea is that the pavement will be split into a cycle track and a pedestrian track, so the cyclists (I have never seen any in this road) will not have to go on the road.” So the Vice-Chairman of the Transport Scrutiny Sub-Committee stands idly by while your money goes down the drain even though the number of cyclists is so small that he has never seen any. Is he mad, incompetent or corrupt?

Serious injuries to pedestrians causing permanent disabilities and brain damage have occurred elsewhere due to schemes like this but Bexley council doesn’t care. Note how it has put up the signs sanctioning cycling on the pavement before it has put the promised dividing lines on the footway proving once again Bexley council’s total lack of commonsense and contempt for residents’ safety. I noted glass across the carriageway again while taking this photograph. Has the crazy redesign claimed another victim?

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