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Bonkers Blog June 2010

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30 June - Bexley magazine

The Summer 2010 issue has just arrived and compared with the other two London council magazines I regularly see it is far less like a propaganda sheet. Bexley’s magazine under the previous Labour administration seemed to be little more than an ego trip for councillor Ball with his face peering out from innumerable pages. The current issue is guilty of no more than peering through rose tinted spectacles. Take the article (page 4) headed “Cheaper rail travel for Bexley residents”. It says that “Bexley residents using an Oyster card to travel by train can (save) up to 40% particularly during the off-peak period”. No mention that the saving is made because off-peak travel cards have been withdrawn and evening peak hour restrictions have been introduced.

Maybe some people do benefit but I know of a young family who no longer get to London as a little treat for the children because it has become far too expensive. And twice I’ve heard of an occasional traveller who has loaded her Pay As You Go Card with £20 for a day in London and become marooned when the card has run out of money. It makes me realise what a boon my Freedom Pass is.

Another example of ‘rose tinted spectacles’ is the feature (page 14) on fencing in Lesnes Abbey Woods which was mentioned on 1st May. Bexley council boasts that it keeps out motorcyclists. As I said, I’ve never actually seen any in the woods though I accept that they sometimes visit because I can hear the noise from home. I’ll admit to having heard them over recent hot summer days and even seen them heading off, generally ‘sans helmet’, in the direction of Lesnes Abbey. So all the indications are that the huge expense of installing the ugly and dangerous barriers has been another abject failure by Bexley council.

I’m sure the tall thin man I saw wriggling in sideways through the narrow access point at the foot of Knee Hill would agree that the scheme is totally stupid and does nothing positive apart from line the fencing contractor’s pocket. It would be interesting to hear what the disabled think about it.

 

20 June - Bexley council. The complaints keep rolling in

I am getting quite seriously worried about the number of injustices and illegal acts by Bexley council that are reported to me. Yesterday evening I had another left on my answering machine. Unfortunately the message becomes so distorted after the first sentence that I only caught the lady’s name and the words Bexley council and if I heard correctly, a mention of offences against the Data Protection Act. Everything else was so badly corrupted by what I imagine is a mobile telephone connection that I am in the dark as to what it was really about and don’t have a phone number.

At present all I can do here is report the stupidity and law-breaking of Bexley council in the hope that when the list of shameful activity gets big enough someone may see fit to try to curtail it. I haven’t the highest of hopes as the mismanagement and persecution of too many residents has been going on for at least twelve years to my certain knowledge, through administrations of both political persuasions. Legal advice cannot be given except perhaps that two people concerned with parking issues have been in contact to offer help. However their expert advice is already available elsewhere on the web.

Because of the expense of running the site’s telephone contact arrangements I have had to modify the conditions a little.

 

18 June - Bexley council. Dictators who don’t believe in democracy

Earlier this week I reported that Bexley council were delaying responses to parking appeals so that the appellant would have to pay a higher fine. Whilst I am slowly getting used to the idea that Bexley council is the epitome of bad practice and management by spite, a bit of me still finds it hard to believe, so I have been searching around the web for whether what they are doing is legal or not.

The parking adjudicator’s website says “Please note, challenging the PCN before the end of the 14 day period may, in some cases freeze the discounted rate but this is not always the case - you need to check with your individual council”. So it seems that councils who believe in fairness will say something like “Currently we are unable to specify a date for our response but during this time the case will be placed on hold to stop it progressing any further. You will not be disadvantaged by any delay on our part. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this delay may cause you.” and councils intent on being evil bastards at every opportunity will penalise you for having the temerity to exercise the legal right of appeal. Given that choice it’s pretty obvious what a dictatorial council which doesn’t really believe in democracy will do.

Perhaps Bexley should be played at its own game. If the fine is doubled because Bexley council contrives to take longer than 14 days to respond there is absolutely no reason not to take the case to appeal. The fine cannot be increased, but it is further deferred and it helps keep the nasty individuals who infest Bexley council bogged down in extra paperwork. Best of all, the parking adjudicator won’t be happy with Bexley council if the number of appeals keeps rising.

As if to confirm Bexley council as being fundamentally corrupt I have overnight received another catalogue of their malpractice detailing lies, cover-ups and refusals to fulfill statutory obligations. I have a feeling that this particular case is far from over and could possibly find it’s way to court so I have decided it might be best to put publication on ice for a while. I once had a council blatantly ask me for a back-hander to look favourably on a planning application and was astounded when my employer (a multi-national company) was asked for the same and simply didn’t know how to handle the situation, but I have never before known a council to be so keen to declare war on its residents as Bexley appears to have done.

 

17 June - A little bit of positive news for a change

CrossrailThis week’s News Shopper reports that Thamesmead’s new M.P., Teresa Pearce made her maiden speech in the Commons pleading for retention of the Crossrail line to Abbey Wood. Well done Teresa; my relatives in east London are all spoilt for choice of fast railway connections to central London and we have nothing but an expensive Southeastern trains connection which is 20%-25% slower than it was 20 years ago. If anything is to be cancelled it should be Crossrail’s Shenfield branch.

The Shopper also reports Bexley’s councillor Bacon stating the obvious at the London Assembly; that the way to get people recycling is to make it easy for them, not fine them. Quite right too Gareth. I manage to recycle almost everything and as you might guess, it’s nothing to do with a love-in with Bexley council; it’s because it is as easy to recycle as it is not to. Easier in some respects. It doesn’t stop the bin men finding any excuse not to empty a bin though, I see many warning tags on bins when taking my early morning walk to Abbey Wood station on bin day. What the ‘offences’ are I don’t know.

A reader’s letter says that the road planning clowns have made a “ridiculous mess” of Faraday Avenue in Sidcup. I must pop down there with a camera.

P.S. It seems it was tempting fate to complain about the lack of alternative rail routes to London from this area because I reached London Bridge at nine o’clock tonight and decided I couldn’t be bothered to run for the 9.01 as there was a faster train due in a few minutes. Bad mistake. The 9.01 and the following train were the last to leave London Bridge today. Someone fell under a train at New Cross and that following train heading for Lewisham blocked the Deptford junction. After an hour’s worth of announcements which couldn’t give much advice to those wishing to travel past Greenwich. I decided that the Jubilee to Canning Town, DLR to Woolwich and a bus was the only alternative. Three hours from Farringdon to Abbey Wood station. Crossrail, if it is ever built, would be a quarter of an hour. Southeastern’s website was still showing no trains to or from London Bridge at midnight.

More Crossrail related blogs.

 

14 June - Bexley council. Arrogant, obnoxious, wicked, lawless? Take your pick! - click image for photo gallery (1 image)

Moron MobileA recurrent theme of correspondence, apart from the regular complaints about bad road design, concerns the arrogance of far too many Bexley council employees and their enthusiasm for going out of their way to be as obnoxious as possible. Presumably that tone is set from the top. Certainly we have councillor Craske who delights in making the worst possible decision if he can in the process blight someone’s life and bank balance, and councillor Davey who speaks with a forked tongue and would rather see residents unfairly fined than stand up for justice. I could also mention the social services department who believe in punishing the mentally disabled for being difficult to handle. Miss Cairns, jobsworth extraordinaire, who twice threatened to prosecute when a council tax payment was delayed solely by a bank holiday. And did I mention the undersized parking bays and Bexley’s retort that they could do pretty much what they liked and if you didn’t like it challenge the parking fine in court?

The latest episode to come my way is another concerning a parking fine. Due to a medical emergency while transferring an elderly lady to hospital a driver had to pull over and stop for a few seconds, well under a minute. The road was congested because someone had inconsiderately parked in an awkward place so the driver stopped with his wheels up the kerb so as not to congest the road further. Unfortunately the awkwardly parked vehicle was Bexley’s moron-mobile which photographed the brief incident. A few days later the penalty notice arrived in the post.

The driver decided to appeal against the fine on the grounds that it was a very brief transgression, there was a medical emergency to deal with and the problem was largely caused by the council’s gestapo camcar. Despite a number of emailed ‘chasers’ the council did not bother to reply for more than a month and as one might expect from such an obnoxious bunch of sub-humans they rejected the appeal. By this time the fine had doubled and Bexley council simply didn’t care that the delay was entirely of its own making. These so-called public servants unreasonably insisted that the driver had to pay extra for the dubious privilege of appealing against being forced up the kerb by the council’s own vehicle. Contrast that appalling attitude with a letter issued in similar circumstances by a nearby borough.

Currently we are unable to specify a date for our response but during this time the case will be placed on hold to stop it progressing any further. You will not be disadvantaged by any delay on our part. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this delay may cause you”. What a refreshing change from the diabolical attitude Bexley council has on any matter involving roads or money.

The doubled fine was paid on the day the appeal was rejected. The receipt came back with the words “To avoid incurring further charges please do not send any further correspondence as it may not be responded to, however, it may result in further recovery action being taken.” What is that nonsense doing on a receipt for payment in full? My correspondent thinks it is “just another of their snide digs”. It almost certainly is another of their attempts to hound residents whenever possible, like when my bank made one error after 20 years of perfectly on time council tax payments, I was given two days to pay or be prosecuted. It not only adds to Bexley council’s reputation for being bloody-minded but confirms their total incompetence too.

The spycam shown here is for illustration purposes only. This one is delaying buses and causing mayhem in Northumberland Heath; not the site of the incident reported above.

 

5 June - Bexley council encourages the police to act the fool

Today’s Times repeats the report from The News Shopper dated 26 May about pubs in Bexley being willing to serve amateur thespians who were acting drunk. When I first saw the story ten days ago I decided it didn’t have a strong enough Bexley council connection to be featured here but I have had my arm twisted by regular readers who have pointed out that the performance was re-enacted at Bexley’s civic offices so the council’s fingerprints are all over this crime against common-sense too. To send am-drams into pubs and get them to slur their words was a mad scheme likely to be ridiculed and it is good that The Times thought it sufficiently idiotic to give it space. It surely cannot be in any way illegal, even after the 3,000 odd new ways to be a criminal introduced by our last government, to serve someone who is pretending to be drunk? Just imagine what any half decent barrister would make of that if the police or Bexley council took action against any licensee because he was serving alcohol to someone who was completely sober.

Embarking on stupid and totally over-the-top courses of action has become the hallmark of too many public bodies. It was revealed this week that Bexley council has used anti-terrorist powers against residents 13 times in the last two years, none of whom were ever suspected of being terrorists. Allowing a dog to foul a park is most definitely anti-social behaviour but it is not in the same league as packing your shirt full of explosives and getting on a bus. Bexley council, intelligent as ever, seems to think it is.

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