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Bonkers Blog May 2010

Index: 2009201020112012201320142015201620172018

28 May - Albany Park. Council job creation scheme - click any image for photo gallery (5 images)

No entry One-way One-way (twice) Road closed

Reports have come in from the south of the borough complaining yet again of Bexley council’s constant unnecessary fiddling with road layouts. Albany Park and Steynton Avenue is not an area I am very familiar with, having been there only once before today, but it is a very pleasant and busy village-like shopping area outside Albany Park railway station. Road works were still in evidence today as were the new one-way street signs. As a stranger to the area it didn’t look so very bad to me but neither could I see any benefit the scheme should have introduced; and this is the point of the complaints that have come my way. Everything worked well enough before Bexley council splashed our money around at a time when budgets are supposed to be cut. The only conceivable reason for it is to keep themselves in work.

It is said that the road, a loop leading to and from the station, has been as it is for longer than anyone can remember and because it is a little on the narrow side, locals tended to use it as a one-way system. Not good enough for the control freaks who infest Bexley’s road planning department! They had to place traffic orders and enforce one-way traffic and just to show who was in charge they reversed the natural flow direction adopted by the locals. Naturally, because they are Bexley council with their reputation for hammering struggling businesses whenever they can, they reduced the car parking facilities outside the shops.

It is hard to get inside the head of a bureaucrat just as it is difficult to understand the mind of any other lunatic but I am coming to the conclusion that road planning is solely driven by job creation and the justification thereof. If bureaucrats left well alone we would have much less need of them, so they manufacture unnecessary schemes to make themselves look busy. The phoney industry goes beyond that, having installed something for no good reason at all they have automatically created something that can be legitimately removed a few years down the line. Brampton Road is the latest such example and even with the million pound nonsense inflicted on Abbey Road, its incompetent designer, Andrew Bashford, admitted to it being a stab in the dark that may have to be reviewed later. Why can’t Bexley council employ people who aren’t just in it for themselves and are sufficiently skilled to get things right first time?

The fourth photograph is another illustration of Bexley council’s contempt for the population. Whenever they need to resurface a road they close it completely. This example is within a couple of minutes walk of Albany Park station. On my way there I encountered the effects of another, a stream of double deck buses in Brampton Road diverted by the complete closure of Pickford Lane; for resurfacing works again.

 

27 May - Recycling Guide 2010 - click any image for document gallery (2 images)

Recycling Guide 2010/11It seems from discussions with neighbours that none of us got a copy of this year’s recycling guide. Maybe someone used the same circulation list as Andrew Bashford did when he conducted his sham consultation on his Abbey Road desecration. My copy came from the Recycling team last Monday so I’ll post the calendar here so my neighbours (and half the borough!) can check it easily. If they compare it closely with last year’s issue they will see that the recycling of cooking oil which was new for 2009 is new for 2010 too. What I’d really like to see is the recycling of a greater variety of plastic. It’s not easy to tell one type from another.

 

19 May - Recycling Guide and other news - click any image for document gallery (2 images)

Recycling Guide 2009/10I didn’t get a copy of the recycling guide this year, the one that includes a calendar of the scheduled fortnightly collection dates. A copy kept near the front door is a useful reassurance when a neighbour puts out their bins on what I think may be the wrong day. So I emailed the appropriate department via the link on the council website and was told within hours that the 2010/2011 issue had been popped in the post for me. As I have said before; why can’t all of Bexley council be as helpful as the recycling people?

Something else that happened today is that another bus shelter was moved in Abbey Road after council works left it marooned in the middle of the pavement. Actually it’s a completely new and bigger shelter. Maybe Bexley council should move the lamp posts which have been left in the middle of the pavement too. Perhaps they will do it when they get around to wiring up the keep left bollard which remains a hazard to night time traffic nine months or more after it was moved as part of the wrecking of Abbey Road.

Finally I see that today’s News Shopper says that Bexley council, having taken over some aspects of parking control from Vinci Parking Services, is no longer bothering to remind residents when their yearly parking permits expire so that more penalty notices can be issued. I suspect another crafty little scam by Craske.

 

16 May - Bexley council gets it wrong again - click any image for photo gallery (6 images)

Crash site Road works Road worksBrampton Road is one of the main North-South thoroughfares across the borough and being straight it may be too much of a temptation for impatient drivers and being narrow it may over-stretch the skills of some. Having said that I used it regularly for more than 15 years and never saw an accident until Bexley council installed three closely spaced mini-roundabouts.

It must have been six or more years ago that the council put up a sign saying there had been 32 accident casualties in Brampton Road over the previous three years which they used as an excuse to build obstacles at several road junctions and a year or two later amended the figure to 44 and built three mini-roundabouts. Did it not occur to them that the increase might warrant removal of obstacles designed to force vehicles into the path of on-coming traffic? The roundabouts always look very dangerous to me and to be approached with great care.

The demolished wall and damaged car shown here may indicate that not everyone takes the care needed to safely negotiate the danger points and exposes the Achilles’ heel of Bexley’s lamentable road planning. It frustrates careful drivers and disregards the reckless to whom obstacles present a challenge. However the other pictures suggest that the planners may have recognised their own stupidity and the dangerous obstacles placed at junctions are on the way out; they show the new kerb and where the old one was defined by the black patch and the double yellow lines. Both may be seen more clearly in the ‘photo gallery’.

 

15 May - Killer humps

A correspondent in Welling has reported something that didn’t make the local newspapers as far as I know. A quad-bike rider hit and demolished his neighbour’s garden wall and may have demolished his own neck and spine too. The ambulance crew said it was too dangerous to drive the seriously injured rider to hospital because of all the speed humps and had to call out the air-ambulance from the London Hospital in Whitechapel. What extra costs did Bexley cause the NHS? I’m told that last July a near identical situation arose close by.

Do speed humps really save lives? There have been reports that they damage tyres and kill more people through high-speed blow-outs than they can ever save by encouraging slow speeds. More enlightened councils have removed speed humps. Barnet council removed its speed humps and found the accident rate dropped by 14.9%. But the words enlightened and Bexley council are not often seen in the same sentence. The vice-chairman of their Traffic Scrutiny Committee no less, councillor John Davey, has said that Bexley’s road planning is bonkers, and it most certainly is.

 

7 May - Bus stop moved and Abbey Road congested - click any image for photo gallery (5 images)

Bus stop lifted Bus stop removed Bus stop reinstatedMost mornings I walk along Abbey Road around 7 a.m. but this morning I was 30 minutes early and I could hardly believe the amount of traffic using it. Westbound vehicles were nose to tail and those heading towards Erith were at a standstill due to buses not being able to pass each other on the narrowest sections; they wait for each other to clear the bottlenecks before proceeding due to the design errors made by Andrew Bashford.

Four hours later things had not improved and I looked for the reason. The News Shopper website told me that a lorry had overturned on Eastern Way, Thamesmead, blocking the junction with Yarnton Way. The situation wasn’t helped by Transport for London (TfL) who had unluckily chosen today to reposition the bus stop opposite Lesnes Abbey. Something made necessary by the almost unused cycle track foisted on us last year by Bexley council following its carefully rigged and dishonest consultation. So we had all the traffic from Eastern Way from about 5 a.m. and the road restricted to a single track due to the bus stop works and the lorry-mounted hoist that was needed to move it. I saw three 180 buses and a 401 in convoy all held up so I decided it might be worth photographing the unusual routing. Within minutes I had collected my camera and started snapping away at the half demolished bus stop and some of the buses.

I was then confronted by one of the TfL workmen who told me that photography in the street was forbidden. I told him it wasn’t. He then asked why I had not asked his permission to photograph him. I told him that was unnecessary in a public place and in any case I had been careful to ensure that no one would be identifiable in the photos. He then told me that it was illegal to photograph TfL staff. I told him he was wrong and suggested that if he thought it was he should call the police to report a crime.

Why is it that people in public service are almost always jobsworths who like to throw their weight around? Something to do with their lack of intelligence I suspect. As soon as I got home I loaded all the photos on to a web-server as a precaution but I didn’t expect to hear any more and I haven’t.

Additional photos and information is available by clicking any of the images. The 180 and 401 buses were still using Abbey Road at 3.30 in the afternoon.

At 6 p.m. Bexley council’s website was still reporting “counting in progress” for the local elections held yesterday.

Later… Pretty much unchanged. Labour have picked up the lone independent’s seat and another in Erith; the Mayor’s, Bernard Clewes. The Tories took one from Labour in Belvedere; that of Daniel Francis who wanted me labelled a vexatious correspondent back in 2000 when I queried the imposition of a bus lane which the council admitted did not satisfy the criteria for one. In Lesnes Abbey ward the lowest scoring Tory beat the Labour candidate by only six votes. One of them was mine!

 

5 May - It’s the Tories by a landslide…

Bernie Grant…of election literature that is. Over the past month or thereabouts I have received 12 different items about the general election from the Conservatives and none at all from Labour. I’ve also had one each from the BNP, Christian People’s Alliance, English Democrats, Greens, an Independent, Liberals and UKIP. Weird that nothing came from Labour; I was a “don’t know” when the election was called but Labour seems to be complacent in Erith & Thamesmead this time around. Just by chance I’ve bumped into rosette wearing Conservatives three times in as many weeks while walking around locally. No others.

I think I found the Christian People’s Alliance leaflet the most interesting read but there are more important things at stake than their complaints and the Independent candidate rather blew it for me by picturing himself alongside the now deceased former MP, Bernie Grant. I used to work on the same job as Bernie Grant and his brother in the 1970s. One was a hard working and decent man and the other was a rogue who was eventually dismissed for dishonesty. You can guess which one went on to become an MP.

 

4 May - I think there may be a local election too

With two days to go I’ve still not managed to find out anything useful about all the local election candidates. I know the names of the three Labour candidates from the only communication I have from them. It is two months old and tells me almost nothing about their plans. I also know the names of the Conservative candidates because they piggy-backed one of the parliamentary leaflets, but what I’d really like to see is the policies of all the candidates. The council website says there are eight candidates in the Lesnes Abbey ward (but doesn’t divulge their parties) and two of those names don’t appear on the main party lists. viz. Nicola Finch and Peter Townsend. Google eventually told me that Nicola represents the BNP but I drew a blank with Peter Townsend.

Mr. H. who told me on 30 April that councillor Craske helped him “overcome some serious problems” has emailed again but failed to let me know the page on which he alleged I had boasted about being cleverer than Craske and instead complained about me replying to his first email. Surely if you don’t want to get involved in a conversation you don’t start one?

 

1 May - The barricades go up - click any image for photo gallery (7 images)

New Road Knee Hill Fatties not allowedOne of the few redeeming features of Bexley is the public parks. I am fortunate to live near to Lesnes Abbey and Bexley council does a pretty good job of making it a pleasant place to visit. Opening the public toilets would improve matters but on the whole one cannot complain. But why is Bexley council so keen to restrict access and how can it justify the enormous expense of several miles of barriers at the same time as complaining about money shortages when they raised council tax yet again last month?

The main justification apparently is to deter motorcyclists. Bit of a sledge-hammer to crack a nut isn’t it? In my 23 years of daily walking around the abbey grounds I have only once encountered motorcyclists and that was when two policemen on council-funded bikes stopped to ask me and two other ‘senior citizens’ what we were doing. Pretty obvious I thought but I suppose they have a job to do. On a handful of occasions I have heard motorcyclists in the woods but I doubt it amounts to more than a handful of times a year; so why waste so much of our money putting up obstacles that exclude the disabled and those blessed with a less than sylph-like figure and create an objectionable eye-sore?

A friend from Bromley has told me that the same sort of fence was put around Bromley Common a couple of years ago but was withdrawn after two motorists were killed by the unforgiving scaffold bar when their cars ran off the road. For more details and photographs click on any of the images.

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