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Bonkers Blog February 2010

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26 February - Bexley council makes things as difficult as possible for businesses in Pickford Lane - click any image for photo gallery (6 images)

Pickford Lane closed Minor roads closed Buses divertedPickford Lane has been closed all week. Signs at its extremities on Long Lane and Crook Log tell drivers that the road ahead is closed and it is, totally, with side roads blocked off too. And the reason for this council imposed inconvenience and attack on local businesses? A simple resurfacing job. I assume the resurfacing was essential; if it was anything like Abbey Road with its myriad depressions, subsidence and ineffective drains it would have been a nightmare for pedestrians hoping to avoid a drenching on wet days. But why close the whole road instead of keeping one carriageway open with traffic controls? To suit Bexley council’s convenience probably. With few of the staff having the initiative to have ever managed a business and suited only to protected jobs with gold-plated pensions they wouldn’t have a clue about trying to make an honest living as a businessman. Much the same goes for the parasites who call themselves politicians. Few would have a clue what it is like to live without the sugar coating of endless expenses claims.


25 February - If at first you don’t succeed… - click any image for photo gallery (3 images)

Van on footpath New sign the right way aroundAs I left home at 7.30 this morning the thought crossed my mind that I should take my camera with me every time I go out which turned out to be somewhat prophetic because as I approached Fossington Road I spotted a van parked across the cycle path and a man up a ladder. As I passed I guessed he might be swapping the cycling signs which as I reported on 17 November last year, several were mirror images of what they should have been. By the time I returned ten minutes later the van had moved on to change the sign opposite Lesnes Abbey but as I got close it drove off to the sign by the junction with Carrill Way. You can see the sign there removed prior to replacement with a new one because I ran home to grab my camera.

Given the narrowness of the road, thanks to the idiocy of Conservative councillor Craske, the man had little option but to park on the pavement while he carried out council orders. If only Bexley council were competent and things got done right the first time we would all be a bit richer. And if only the numbskull Craske had not authorised Andrew Bashford’s flawed case for narrowing the road without engaging what little brain power he possesses, the council might not have to raise £1m. of extra taxes because it claims to have lost out over government Freedom Pass funding.

For the record, on my minimum of two trips a day along this footpath, I have so far this month not seen a cyclist. Councillor Davey said the same.


17 February - Belvedere to be given a horselaugh? - click image for photo gallery (1 image)

Bare electricity cableToday’s News Shopper provides a rich store of council related stories. The front page tells us that aluminium panels are being stolen from lamp posts in huge quantities and that the electrical components are left exposed and dangerous. This is I suppose an extension of last year’s gully thefts and I have seen one or two lamp posts with exposed wiring. In future I had better let the council know. Councillor Craske is quoted by the newspaper and for once it is hard to disagree with him. It’s a pity that the comedian doesn’t follow his own advice because the work he inflicted on Abbey Road has left the public exposed to bare electricity cables for six months or more. (Photograph taken 19th February.)

Among the paper’s reports of Bexley council’s failure to fund community centres, failure to clear snow and failure to deal with dog mess there is a report that a nationally renowned sculptor has been commissioned to erect a public work of art in lower Belvedere, on a roundabout near the industrial estates away from the residential areas. It will presumably complement Erith’s fish and whilst Belvedere is certainly in need of some sort of revamp after years of council neglect and worse, one must wonder in a time of austerity whether the money could be better spent. At least the money won’t come directly from your council tax but I bet the London Development Agency which is responsible for it filches the money from us one way or another.


11 February - Parking penalty targets

At the beginning of the year Bexley ditched Vinci Parking Services in favour of NSL Services Group which now employs the traffic wardens patrolling our streets. One of my contributors has today drawn my attention to the situation in other London boroughs where the same company operates. Press reports indicate they have warned wardens that they may be disciplined if they don’t meet the company’s target of a minimum of 0·9 tickets an hour. Kensington and Chelsea’s councillors are reported to have accused NSL of “breaking statutory guidelines which ban target setting”. Soon after the news broke nearby Westminster stripped NSL of their contract.

Here in Bexley we presumably suffer the same treatment as the Royal Borough. It is perhaps to be expected that a council with a long history of paying scant regard to parking regulations and which tops the revenue raising league tables, should cosy up to a company with similar habits.


3 February - Bexley Tories help the Mayor to inflict maximum misery on south east London - click any image for photo gallery (3 images)

Getting the hump Getting the humpBexley councillors have complained in the past about the lack of a tube line in the borough, but there are eight London boroughs without a tube station. What makes Bexley almost unique and the complaint more valid is that it has no DLR, no TfL Overground and no Tramlink either. Soon Crossrail will be added to the list but how ironic is it that the council complains about its poor transport links while its own priorities appear to be dismantling the system we do have and campaigning against plans to improve links across the Thames? The photos show the changes currently being inflicted on Pickford Lane.

On 30 November last year roads throughout Bexley were affected by a vehicle fire in Blackwall tunnel and its subsequent closure and now the tunnel is again set for overnight closure starting next Monday for three whole years. It can’t be much more than a couple of years since the southbound tunnel was fully opened after several years of refurbishment and overnight closures and I had expected that sooner or later ‘the northerners’ would suffer the same problems getting home while their homeward tunnel was upgraded as we south Londoners did for such a long time. But that would be too simple. Mayor Boris blasted Johnson has dictated that his favoured north cannot be inconvenienced but it is OK to bash south London dwellers again. His promise to reintroduce the tunnel contra-flow proved to be another of his lies so there is no prospect of keeping both traffic flows running through the night and he blithely tells us to get ourselves down to Dartford instead. I bet the highly educated imbecile won’t ever be put to that massive inconvenience, let alone every night, as will countless shift and night workers who try against the odds to keep London ticking over.

I confess to being absolutely furious about Boris’s crass decision; all my London based relations live in the East and North East and I visit them at least weekly and return late. It’s an impossible journey by public transport which as a Freedom Pass holder I am keen to use whenever I can, and doubling the journey time so late at night is not really a practical proposition, especially for three long years. The previous closure was bad enough but at least it wasn’t every night. A similarly affected friend thinks Boris should be publicly strung up for his sins against south Londoners, and I’m not surprised because the tunnel is not only impassable southbound, it will be restricted to 20 m.p.h. for the ‘lucky’ northerners.

If Bexley’s stupid Conservative council hadn’t be so keen on short term political expediency and if it wasn’t totally devoid of road planning expertise we might have had a new Thames crossing to look forward to in just a couple of years time, instead all we will have is average speed cameras in Blackwall tunnel and toll-booths. What others have to say about it.


1 February - Parking shop closes, that’s fine then - click any image for photo gallery (2 images)

Gestapo car Gestapo carThe News Shopper came late this week so I’ve only just noticed the latest announcement from that nasty piece of work, councillor Craske. It has been possible until recently to deal with parking issues in a variety of ways; on line, by phone, by post, with cash in Erith or in person at the ‘Parking Shop’ in Bexleyheath Broadway. However on 29th January the shop closed. According to the council the reduced access to parking services is to “make services easier to access” and Craske, the council’s transport motormouth reminds us that, “Instead of having to go to pay their penalty charge notices, motorists can now do so from the comfort of their own home”.

Notice how Craske’s statement implies that paying parking penalties is a civic honour that we should be proud to be paying, but even on the most optimistic interpretation of the council’s own statistics one in six tickets are issued wrongly, and that’s only counting those who decide to challenge them. How is Craske’s grand plan going to help that one in six? Things can only be made more difficult by the total loss of face to face contact. Emailing and writing is fraught with difficulty because Bexley council cannot resist lying and law breaking. For Craske to present this change as an improvement illustrates only too well why he is not fit for office.

The photographs above come from a resident of Northumberland Heath and show the council’s gestapo car parked on a yellow line last week while videoing anyone who stopped for a moment. They are supposed to put up warning signs when doing this but in my experience only one sign is ever displayed. I can’t see it in either photograph but I expect one is around somewhere. When I spoke to the driver last December she said the car didn’t monitor yellow line offences, only bus stops and school zigzags etc.

It is interesting that the car is still emblazoned with the Vinci Parking Services logo when Bexley’s website says that they were ditched in favour of NSL Services Group at the end of last year.

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