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Bonkers Blog September 2009

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16 September - Accident on newly modified road; quick cover-up by council - click any image for photo gallery (2 images)

Broken fence Mended fence

I usually walk along Abbey Road two or three times each day and on my second such stroll today I noticed that the heavy duty fencing by the bus stop opposite Fossington Road had been demolished. A nearby resident told me that he saw only the wreckage after a Mini coming from the Abbey Wood direction went out of control, he didn’t know why, but the end result was a smashed fence (which was made of scaffold poles!). I hope no one was hurt.

Now this is interesting because for the past four months I have been trying to get details from Bexley council of what they have been playing at in Abbey Road for the past year. It was like getting blood out of a stone and I had to get the Local Government Ombudsman on side before I made any progress at all. Even then it took constant pressure. This sorry tale of incompetence, arrogance, profligacy, half-truths and mismanagement will be reported in all its gory detail just as soon as I can find the time. Meanwhile the salient point is that Bexley council said there have been no accidents on this stretch of road and that it was being narrowed solely to benefit cyclists. Not, it would appear, giving any thought whatsoever for the safety of pedestrians, passengers alighting from buses, passing motorists or of the wing mirrors of parked vehicles.

I passed this information to the world renowned experts in these matters, The Transport Research Laboratory in Berkshire. They read my reports and looked at my photographs and said that what Bexley had done was a recipe for head-on collisions. The scheme isn’t even finished yet and it looks like we have something like the first one. I have asked the council for more details as it is always possible that someone collapsed at the wheel, but I haven’t received so much as an acknowledgement. I only wish I knew the motorist concerned as Bexley have ignored nearly all of the TRL recommendations on road design and were warned of the consequences. Someone should sue the backside off them to maybe teach them a lesson.

A strange thing that a neighbour remarked on is that within hours of the accident Bexley council had removed every last shred of loose evidence. All that could be seen were the relatively light scuff marks on the grass and the broken fence posts. On the other side of the road they had left debris and trip hazards for two whole months. The neighbour, who seems to have a more suspicious mind than me, thinks the council is trying to hide the consequences of its bad design as quickly as possible. I think he may be right. Two days later the fence had been repaired. Quite different to the neglect displayed on the opposite side of the road.

Since posting the above I have spoken to an eye-witness who I met by chance in the street. A Bexley council road inspector (whose name I know but will not divulge) was within 30 feet of the incident. He said that the Mini was negotiating the kink in the road which is part of the new scheme and clipped the kerb. One person, he said, but not him, thought the driver was on the phone at the time. The road is too narrow to give room for recovery and the car went out of control across the path of on-coming traffic, over the pavement, through the fence and finished up in the bushes. Luckily no one was injured. This is exactly what the expert at TRL had predicted and advice the council ignored. Sooner or later they will have blood on their hands.

 

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