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Bonkers Blog November 2010

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30 November - Craske is watching you and he wants your money- click any image for photo gallery (2 images)

CCTV signs Craske's cuts proposal

Yellow notices are going up around town; they say “Images are being recorded for the purpose of public safety and crime prevention”. It’s a lie. That is why the taxpayer may have been agreeable to their installation but it’s not the use planned for them in future. The small print of the council’s cuts document says that the cameras are to be used for prosecuting yellow line offences. The justification is to get “Value for money” from the C.C.T.V. system. That means maximising revenue but it would be blatantly illegal to admit that so your lying council doesn’t. Almost needless to say, councillor Craske is behind this sly manipulation of the language. Look at the bigger pictures if you don’t believe it.

While I was taking this photo, as is often the case, someone asked me what I was doing and then rushed to his car to show me a Bexley Penalty Charge Notice for having parked in Erith beyond his time. The P.C.N. was timed 13:08, his paid-for ticket pinned to it clearly stated valid until 13:37 on the same day. I told him about the appeals process but he knew about that already. More of our money wasted. Another (Thamesmead, I read it on the ticket) resident harassed and put to a lot of trouble for nothing.


29 November - Non-stop council wrong-doing forces blog revisions

With daily Blog entries becoming the norm it has become far too inefficient to require a whole year’s worth of blogging to be loaded just to read the latest entry. The Blog for 2010 has therefore been divided into monthly sections and the 2010 Blog and its ‘rolling month’ variant will be abandoned after today. (Both were removed from the site in February 2015.)

You are viewing the latest version, use the menu above to reach older blogs. All post 2009 Blog pages have a new reduced menu system. From any Blog choose ‘Home’ from the menu to return to the main site. Your Favourites or Bookmarks may need to be amended.


28 November - Roadshows, Code shows and poisonous toad shows

Following my enquiry about the cancellation of The Central Library Roadshow on Thursday the council’s communications officer Mr. Ferry rang to say it was cancelled “because it was felt a lot of people might turn up” and went on to say that the overpaid duo would prefer to meet individuals more casually. You couldn’t make it up could you? They would prefer to engage almost by accident as it were, with maybe a flustered mother doing her shopping accompanied by a fractious child and with other things on her mind, than an audience who have prepared themselves with more probing questions. Considering the calibre of Bexley’s senior staff and councillors I can understand their preference. “Listening to you” but only if you’ve nothing to say.

I have received an acknowledgement to my complaint to the local Standards Board about councillor Craske’s abuse of a resident at the council meeting on 17th November. In disregard of official guidance Bexley council has rigged their board in favour of councillors and additionally excludes public scrutiny. It’s democracy Bexley style again. Those who have trodden this path before say I should assume that the board meets in a lap dancing club, drinks on council expenses, makes racist jokes and rubber-stamps the complaints with ‘rejected’ and that way I won’t be disappointed. But I don’t see it that way. It is a win-win situation. Craske went out of his way to humiliate a resident asking a question that had been accepted by the council while the useless chairman, Mayor Val Clark did nothing to prevent it. There was a public audience in excess of 20, nine of whom I have managed to track down who will confirm the incident. It is probably recorded in the News Shopper’s reporter’s notebook too and it is an open and shut case of abuse in contravention of the Code of Conduct. If Craske is found to be innocent I have further evidence of Bexley council corruption and if Craske’s behaviour is found to have broken the Code it is another black mark on his record. Win win!

It’s hard to get away from the council’s principal villain, he has been writing to more residents about the flawed arithmetic used to justify the near tripling by next year of parking permit prices. Another Craske letter that has come my way claims two other complaining residents, one of whom has featured in the News Shopper, agree with him. Why does the idiot think a resident who may never have heard of Nicholas Dowling (the man named in the newspaper) is going to be impressed by the claimed agreement especially when it’s only the bit we all agree on, that the CPZs should be cost neutral? Nicholas has now been sent a copy of that letter and he, being more of an accountant than I am, says it gives yet more indications of false accounting. One paragraph makes it clear that “the parking accounts do not represent the full cost of on street parking”. Should the auditors be told? I don’t think we have heard the last of this.


27 November - Bexley council. ‘Courseworks’. Course it doesn’t - click image for photo gallery (1 image)

Adult Education - CourseworksIt’s not a lot over four months since every household in the borough was last given one of these extravagant glossy booklets and once again it isn’t only Bexley residents who have received it, we have generously sent it all around Bromley again. It’s right that such information should be available but why can’t it be targeted more accurately and does it really have to be on the best quality paper? I may have ignored it this time but only yesterday I noticed that the very same council department is proposing to seriously curtail library services. So why does the ‘Courseworks’ booklet survive in such an extravagant form?

Maybe it’s because the wheels of bureaucracy grind far too slowly. At the beginning of this month I asked the cost of the ineffective fencing around Lesnes Abbey. The answer is £74,995 which seems quite reasonable compared to the £2,500 I paid just a couple of months ago to replace my own rather more elaborate 90 foot fence. But it remains a waste of money nevertheless. Councillor Gareth Bacon says it was authorised by the previous administration and completed in 2009. Didn’t the Labour lot get kicked out in 2006? Councillor Davey made the same excuse last year about the Abbey Road fiasco; all Labour’s fault apparently.


26 November - Bexley’s quarter million pound comedy duo fails to show

The Winter 2010 edition of the Bexley Magazine has council Leader Teresa O’Neill saying “We will be meeting local people to discuss the issues with them” (Page 8) and an attachment in an email from the Bexley Voluntary Service Council (B.V.S.C) announces the first of nine “Roadshows” was to be in Bexley Central Library from 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. yesterday. This ties in with information put out by the library over the last week or so and confirmed by them in a telephone enquiry. So I took myself along to listen to what Will Tuckley the C.E.O. and the Leader might say and more particularly what residents might ask.

Arriving just before 10 - because that is the time advised by the library - I saw nothing out of the ordinary happening. By five past there was a small audience awaiting the entrance of the expensive pair but soon afterwards the phone rang and a librarian apologised that the Roadshow was cancelled. Someone asked why and I drew the short straw to call the council’s communications office to enquire what was going on.

There was no Roadshow it was explained, it was something that they had considered and may at some time go ahead, but nothing was planned so far. One must wonder how B.V.S.C. came to hear about it and why a cancellation message come from the office I was speaking to just ten minutes earlier if there was no Roadshow to cancel? “Ah,” said the communications officer, “you had better speak to my boss who is out.” So I left a phone number and at the time of writing no explanation has been forthcoming. I’m reluctant to use the word lie on this blog yet again but something odd is going on even if it’s just a case of stage fright.

The Roadshows are probably a charade by a “listening council” that would like to claim that it called on the public to respond and no one turned up. The B.V.C.S. email lists eight more dates across the borough. The one in Blackfen library scheduled for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday 14th January, 2011 should be interesting; the shoppers and traders there that I have spoken to are not exactly brimming with praise for the council and all its wicked works.

Something else that Leader O’Neill says in the latest magazine is “We’ve worked hard to ensure that as many of the savings as possible involve cutting our costs and improving how we work”. (Page 3.) Is this the same Teresa O’Neill who allowed Craske to hike up the cost of a £35 parking permit to £100 in 2011 without once looking at why it costs £250 a permit to issue them? Is it the same Leader who advocated cutting the number of councillors for the benefit of a newspaper headline but failed to discuss the issue at the council meeting? And is it the same inadequate council Leader who sanctioned the C.E.O.’s £200,000 plus annual salary and refuses to allow those that fund it to raise the issue? Cuts are necessary, but they should be applied across the board and that includes senior staff and politicians. These people are hypocrites primarily interested in their own well being and income.


25 November - Queen Mary’s Hospital protest against closure - click any image for photo gallery (5 images)

A&E 8am to 8pm Nearest hospitals Protest group

This was the scene last night when 100 people turned up to hear John Hemming-Clark speak about the closure of Queen Mary’s A&E. John stood at the General Election as the Save Queen Mary’s candidate but was out-manoeuvred by the Conservative candidate who promised to keep it open - but didn’t.

Despite condemning the closure no Bexley councillor bothered to turn up, thereby more or less proving my contention that most of them lacked any sincerity at their meeting a month ago and were merely going through the motions in the hope of looking good.

On the bus home I spoke to a nurse who explained to me how the knock-on effect of losing A&E was causing wards to be closed and reeled off a list of four or five. She said it was estimated that 30,000 patients a year would be turned away and some of them would undoubtedly die as a direct result of management decisions. The management and Streather in particular were “all liars”. With less than two weeks notice she had been told she must transfer to either the Princess Royal in Farnborough or the Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich. Since we were on a 229 heading for Thamesmead I was surprised to hear her say she had opted for the P.R.U. and asked why. “Because you hear so many dreadful things about Q.E.H.” she said. I can only agree and if you have half an hour to spare you can read more.

Doctor Streather and Sawicka were both prepared to put their names to letters much of which were pure fiction and showed them to have falsified their records. When that was proved they blamed an unnamed doctor who could no longer be located. How convenient. That doctor was excellent and the failures were wholly administrative but Streather and co. were only able to blame others for their failures.


24 November - Queen Mary’s Hospital A&E “changes” - or in Plain English, it closes today

Temporary A&E closure

With impeccable timing a leaflet announcing the ‘Temporary changes at Queen Mary’s’ dropped through my letterbox yesterday evening. It is graced with the emblem of the Plain English Campaign and true enough, it is completely clear; it says the A&E will ‘temporarily close’ and my dictionary defines Temporary as ‘effective for a time only; not permanent’. So that’s OK then, surely there must be a plan for re-opening A&E? Sadly there is not, the health authority’s chief executive, Dr. Streather, admitted as much when questioned by the council’s Health Committee on 21 October. Maybe the leaflet is not so Plain English after all. Maybe no publicly funded executive is capable of telling the whole truth.

The entire six page leaflet may be read with the aid of the scroll bar.


23 November - Bexley council desecrates Sidcup, now Blackfen is in its sights - click any image for photo gallery (4 images)

The George Staples Parking machine Closed shop

As predicted I took myself along to Blackfen yesterday, a place I had never set foot in before. I’ve driven through it a few times but never stopped; which is maybe a good thing because that could have earned me a parking ticket but it also means that I have missed out on a little shopping centre which I found more interesting than the council favoured Bexleyheath Broadway. One has to wonder why that single shopping centre is so honoured by Bexley council, probably it is self-interest as their staff can simply cross one road to do their own shopping.

I went to Blackfen because of persistent reports of harassment of shoppers and traders alike by councillor Craske’s gestapo team and when the word got around that I was there to report it here I was given free tea, offered a free meal in the cafe and use of their toilets; there being none available in the street. I obtained so much material that most of it will be held over for another day but meanwhile here is a brief summary of the situation.

There used to be a free council car park behind the pub, but the council sold it off leaving the 40 plus commercial premises to the east of the centre of town with just seven on-street parking places; for which a charge of 40 pence for half an hour has now been introduced. Are any other of the borough’s small shopping communities made to suffer in this way? Selling off parking spaces is reminiscent of Craske’s stupidity in Sidcup. It seems that Bexley council is intent on damaging businesses. We’ve seen it recently in Albany Park and in Pickford Lane. It was narrowly avoided in Nuxley Road, Sidcup is a disaster zone and now it is Blackfen’s turn. Councillor Peter Craske the architect of all this misery must be a truly evil man.


22 November - James Cleverly : Pompous twit

I quite often take a look at the blog of our man at the London Assembly and I usually find myself in broad agreement with it. However on the 17th November he came up with these words of wisdom…

100% Legal - How to avoid paying speeding and parking fines
“I’ve just discovered a great way to beat the system and not pay speeding or parking fines. Just follow these simple steps to avoid handing over your money to them! The best thing, it is 100% legal, they can’t touch you.
How to avoid speeding fines: Don’t drive faster than the speed limit.
How to avoid parking fines: Don’t park illegally or over-stay you (sic) allotted time. There you have it! Simple!!!!!”

Perhaps I should declare an interest in case readers get the wrong idea. I gained my full driving licence in 1962 after taking six one hour lessons - it was relatively easy back then. Over the following 48 years I have had no accidents, no speeding tickets and no parking fines. I try to observe clever dick James’ advice but to say it is simple as he has is stupid. Does your speed tend to creep up down Gravel Hill (where there is a speed camera) with a 229 bus up your backside? Of course it does so it’s not always easy to comply with the law. Do you expect to get a parking ticket while driving if your wheel clips the kerb or if you are held in a traffic queue that extends back to a bus stop? Of course not. But that is what happens in Bexley. Later today if the weather is half decent I shall take a few buses to one of these sites of injustice and see if I can make a report about it for later this week.

James. Stop being so simplistic. In a just society you may be right but please recognise that many of us have to live in a borough that plays scant regard to justice.

Talking of over-staying your time, I have seen the evidence of how Lidl use number plate recognition technology to time cars into and out of their car parks. One unfortunate visitor had his pocket picked while at the nearby cash machine before doing a big shop in Lidl, losing not his money but his keys. The theft and reporting it caused him to be 115 minutes in the Lidl car-park when their limit is an hour and a half. Result : a £90 fine.


21 November - Complaints and Crosses

There isn’t much from me today because I have decided to use my spare time on a letter to Bexley council’s Standards Board. Just because I’ve been told it will be a waste of time because it is rigged in favour of Conservative councillors is not a good reason to accept defeat; and who knows, I may be pleasantly surprised. The basis of my complaint will be that Craske deliberately misled the council and public with his claim that there was no £4m. contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff when the council’s website says there is and he was just playing with words over the subtle difference between a £4m. contract and a contract which may be worth £4m. The fact he rounded off his denial with a personal attack on the resident who raised his concerns about the £4m. will not go unmentioned.

if the council’s postbox gets loaded with complaints about the purple pygmy then so does mine. Within the last couple of days I’ve been told of someone who bought a residents’ parking permit by plastic card without realising the price had doubled and immediately requested a refund. If you do that in a shop the transaction goes back through the card terminal, but not in the supremely well organised Bexley council. They couldn’t do that. It had to be recorded on paper and a cheque had to be sent through the post, at what extra cost goodness only knows.

Another resident gave up on the permit system because she only used hers when driving to the nearest shopping area and local friends which reminds me of my similarly disabled daughter’s complaint. She says that councils rarely say if her blue badge is valid in residents’ bays and without guidance on the web assuming it is is dangerous. Almost needless to say, Newham passes that test and Bexley doesn’t.

Finally, one of these two Craske complainers thought that bringing misery to Bexley was his full time job. It is not as this website will reveal. You would think someone as deeply unpopular as Peter Craske would be a little more careful about what he allows his employer to say about him. “…the Golden Jubilee Bridges which cross the Thames between Waterloo and Charing Cross stations – bridges he crosses every day on the way to and from the office”. Dark winter evenings, a low parapet and all that murky swirling water below. Careful Peter, get that bit removed. You don’t want the 0.92% of the electorate who put a cross against your name at the last election to have to look elsewhere do you?

0.92%. A figure sent to me by a supporter but not checked.


20 November - Searching for Justice

This site runs on hand-written html code; I don’t like the imposed uniformity of blogging software and doing it myself allows it to be Google friendly. It takes time but sometimes pays quick dividends. Councillor Philip Read’s diatribe about predominantly black Christians which was on line three hours after he delivered it was indexed by Google six hours later. Try a search for ’Philip Reed Bexley’ and it is top of the list. John Watson followed suit with his site and within forty hours of its launch was on page 5 of Google with a simple ‘Bexley council’ search. Bonkers started life on page 9 before it got to sit under the council’s official site. Three times in the last week people have said to me “Bexley council must really hate/loathe you”. I don’t know; understanding twisted minds is not my forté, but I don’t suppose I have many fans there.

Read’s tirade against the Labour party and religious groups was in my opinion completely out of order, why did the Chairman, councillor and mayor Val Clark not put a stop to it? What is she there for? Why, for that matter did she allow Craske to let rip at a member of the public and choose, if you can believe what is on the council’s own website, to avoid answering his question by pulling a nonsense out of thin air? Whilst I feel he should be made to answer for his outburst I am informed by those in the know that a report to the Standards Board would be a waste of time. Why? Because the council has it totally under its own control.

The soon to be abolished Standards Board for England offers guidance to the effect that local Boards may be formed of a majority of lay-members, people without vested interests, not councillors who will protect their well paid own. Bexley of course ignored that and has a Standards Board which is far from balanced and impartial. I am finding it very hard to find aspects of Bexley council which are wholly honest and not tinged with corruption.

The code of conduct for Bexley councillors says that they must not “bully any person; intimidate or attempt to intimidate any person who is or is likely to be a complainant, witness, or (be) involved in the administration of any investigation or proceedings”. Craske clearly failed that paragraph and them sat stony faced and deep purple from hairline to double chin throughout the meeting’s 150 minutes.


19 November - Democracy Bexley style - Part 2

Mr. Bryant, the resident publicly insulted by Craske on Wednesday evening has been in touch with a link that answers my question. Has Craske been very economical with the actualité about there being no £4m. contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff or did the newspapers get everything wrong? Judge for yourselves. Read the council’s press release (see page 6) and in case that ever disappears I’ve extracted the relevant bit to be read here. Nuff said.

Questions from the public are written down and not read out at the meeting which is fair enough but question No.2 was answered so quickly that I was still making notes about question 1 when we moved on to question 3. From the agenda I see that question 2 asked the leader of the council “…by how much the council will be reducing remuneration of employees and councillors in view of the financial restraints…” and how much “such reductions will save annually”. I am informed that the leader, Teresa O’Neill, merely answered that there will be no reductions. Can’t say I’m surprised; just because the Prime Minister and his cabinet took a pay cut and a five year wage freeze doesn’t mean our local fat-cats will act responsibly too. Things have also gone very quiet about her proposal to cut the number of councillors. A good headline for the newspapers but just idle talk. I’m still making up my mind about leader Teresa O’Neill but at present I feel that even with the paucity of talent on display at Bexley council they could have made a better choice.

The council launched its public consultation on ‘the cuts’ yesterday. It got a mention on Wednesday evening: councillor Ball for example thought there was a danger that residents might give biased answers. Maybe he was suggesting their answers should be disregarded, I don’t know, but obviously consultations of this nature are likely to be from individuals and opinions will likely be their own and to that extent biased. Does the council have no one capable of making a balanced judgement? Councillor Catterall perhaps who was the only representative of the people who stood out on Wednesday by saying something that got straight to the point.

I have been asked my opinion of the council’s consultation procedure, sorry Tom, I really haven’t had the time to get to grips with it yet, but when I visited Bexley Talks 24 hours after its launch I was put off by the need to register and nobody had joined its forum. At 5 a.m. this morning the situation hadn’t changed so I thought I should do my civic duty. Bexley-is-Bonkers is now registered. Maybe it will help me answer Tom’s enquiry - on the other hand my first visit took me to a “bad link”. Whoops!


18 November - Democracy Bexley style

Last night’s full council meeting could very nearly be described as a civilised affair. Self-congratulatory, sycophantic, occasionally tedious, yes; but civilised - except for a couple of Conservative clowns who were intent on lowering the tone.

The meeting started with a long and somewhat repetitive petition by a resident of Christchurch Avenue, Erith who said that her road had become a dangerous rat-run for speeding lorries which had been involved in several accidents and demolished a few parked cars. Several councillors asked questions and 20 m.p.h. limits, speed humps and one-way systems were all discussed; one could sense another Craske inspired road fiasco looming but fortunately councillor Catterall was able to see the wood for the trees. He alone asked if the root of the problem was the constant queue of traffic at the recently installed roundabout at the end of Fraser Road and the consequent search for a short-cut by frustrated drivers. The petitioner agreed that it was. Do we really have only one councillor with sufficient intellect to analyse a simple problem?

The discussion disclosed that the ‘fish’ roundabout in Erith is to be extended but no details were forthcoming.

Next a Mr. Bryant asked if the awarding of a contract to the international transport consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff would result in a reduction in the council’s own transport staff - the people who design roundabouts that can’t be navigated and roads that are condemned by international experts. One would certainly hope so. But councillor Craske merely replied “No” because there was no contract. So either he lied last night or lied at an earlier meeting or the reports in local newspapers were all wrong. As his answer was so short, Craske found time to direct a stream of personal insults at Mr. Bryant designed to humiliate him. Craske earned himself well-deserved jeers from the audience. A clear case for the Standards Board I would have thought.

Another resident, Mike Barnbrook drew attention to the statement by the Minister for Communities, Eric Pickles, that councils didn’t need both a full time Leader and a Chief Executive. Bexley’s Leader merely said that the government Minister was wrong. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Mr. Pickles is informed of Teresa O’Neill’s opinion.

Next up was Nicholas Dowling with a question to Mr. Craske about his price hike for residents’ parking permits. Craske began with a cheap jibe directed at Mr. Dowling and then launched into a long lecture on the state of the country’s finances caused by the Labour Government. Well I think everyone knows all that, what we wanted to hear is why it costs £250 to issue (along with overheads) a single permit and what he was doing to bring those costs under control. But as is to be expected from this clown, he didn’t get near the heart of the matter. Filibustering was the only game he knew and the allotted time expired with Mr. Dowling’s question remaining unanswered. The brainless sheep, both Conservative and Labour, remained silent.

Bexley’s 280,000 residents are allowed a total of one whole hour per year to formally question councillors and they want to close down other avenues for questions. Nigel Bett’s attempt to crawl up councillor Campbell’s backside with a question about curtailing Freedom of Information requests was not asked for lack of time. Campbell was the only Conservative male member not wearing a tie. Rumour has it that it had been used for gagging or hanging the whistleblower who was abused by him this week.

Finally there was an interesting political debate on the parties’ approach to churches in the borough, especially the new ‘ethnic’ establishments. I’m not entering into that debate but it was noted that at one stage councillor Philip Reed launched into an attack on the Labour opposition and via some ill-judged musical metaphors called them rabble-rousers who had misled residents. Maybe the Christians and other religious groups in the borough will take note that Mr. Reed believes them to be a rabble. While ranting Mr. Reed failed to see that it was he who was trying to arouse a rabble and was guilty of committing every debating sin for which he was criticising councillor Ball and co. What a cretin!


17 November - Bexley-is-Bonkers has a companion

I first came across the name John Watson at the end of September and subsequently bumped into him at a council meeting. He is a man with a legal background who has accumulated a huge dossier of papers going back several years - decades even - about wrong-doing at Bexley council. I asked why he hadn’t put it on the web so residents could judge for themselves whether we have a council run by crooks and criminals or not. He said he wanted to but had been let down by someone he engaged to help with the technicalities, so I encouraged him to do it himself. It is at a very early stage at present but should expand rapidly. The opening announcement went on-line today. I fully expect to nick bits from it from time to time and in all probability this site will continue with its ‘News of the World’ tabloid style and John’s will be nearer The Daily Telegraph Expenses Files which did so much damage to politicians in Westminster.

Back to the every day stories of councillor folk; The News Shopper reports that traders in Crayford are having much the same trouble with Craske’s gestapo as the one reported here two days ago. This time councillors Seymour and Lucia-Hennis are quoted as saying they have “every sympathy”. Well that is nice to know as traders are forced to the wall by Craske’s policies. Councillor Seymour said he would be asking the parking contractors to adopt a “more proportionate response”. Why doesn’t Seymour have a word in the blue faced midget’s ear and tell him straight that his policies are turning shopping areas into ghost towns? For the time being I shall assume that these two councillors have their hearts in the right place even if their heads aren’t fully engaged. When their words prove to be hollow you will read about it here.


16 November - What’s on next? The approaching storm…

There will be no new revelations today because my time over the past 48 hours has been fully taken up with assisting one fellow resident to the detriment of others who I should have got back to but haven’t. Sorry about that but the other job has become urgent and I think it is worthwhile. Bexley council will really really not like it and a lot worse is to come. I shall be very disappointed if the first of many covers can’t come off this project by lunchtime tomorrow.

Apologies for the atrocious pun hidden in this message.


15 November - Miscellaneous news and updates

A correction. The letter to Craske about his parking permit flawed arithmetic dated 1st November wasn’t sent until the 5th and I assume re-dated, which means that the ultimatum doesn’t expire until next Friday or even Monday. As of today he hasn’t found the courage to reply.

I’ve realised there is way that the council could kill this website other than by ‘going straight’. That’s to keep me on my telephone hot line all day so I can’t get near a computer. Yesterday an as yet unsubstantiated tale was of a business with a forecourt that has, along with its customers, received more than 1,300 parking penalties. Apparently a gang of Craske’s vultures stand around watching him and wait for vehicles to come over his boundary with the footpath, however briefly, and slap a ticket on it. He is slowly being driven out of business because his customers are afraid to return and I have spoken to one who won’t. This is one of a long line of instances where the council in general and Craske in particular do all they can to damage local businesses - wasn’t it the Bexley Times that recently pointed out that the council handed out very few contracts to local small businesses?

If my informant is correct this particular business has taken legal action against Bexley council. Maybe it is for parking their gestapo permanently outside his premises, but perhaps that is wishful thinking on my part.

I have heard also from a lady who phoned Craske about the hike in her parking permit price but he doesn’t like to talk. She said she didn’t renew hers and made other arrangements. When the council tried to make such arrangements for my road they consulted residents and the general view was that if the council wanted restrictions then it was probably a bad idea. But if the council professes democracy in this area presumably the same democracy would allow the withdrawal of the residents’ zones on request. On Craske’s figures this would save the council a lot of money. In reality of course they won’t do it because CPZ’s are a nice little earner that helps fill the expenses pot. Someone should try calling Craske’s bluff on this one. Offer to save him a lot of money and watch him squirm.

One interesting telephoned suggestion was to set up an “I hate Craske” button on this site which automatically sent Craske an email saying how much he is despised. I’m not sure I want to stoop to that level and I suspect he would ask the IT department to block this site’s IP address. Thanks for the suggestion sir, and sorry to hear he has been attacking you too. If you want to see him in the flesh the meeting at the Civic Centre on Wednesday 17th at 7.30 p.m. should provide an opportunity. You won’t be allowed to speak to him but you can stare and wonder how such a small man can contain so much evil.


14 November - Don’t Bett on openness and honesty from this council

To say I am not an enthusiast for the E.U. is something of an understatement but when I walk along Abbey Road as I did yesterday with the chairman of its road and vehicle safety committee and hear him say “I just can’t believe how anyone could be so stupid as to design this” I feel it is not entirely worthless. He went on to express his annoyance at anyone who would use one of his company’s reports to justify the idiocy when it does no such thing. This particular idiocy was signed off by Craske of course but are any of his fellow scoundrels any better?

Researching and filtering the news that flows in my direction is becoming a full-time job but one recent piece immediately stood out as straight-forward and easy to publish, namely that Bexley’s wish to clamp down on Freedom of Information requests has arisen again. Last time it was councillor Campbell who was worried about the tales of incompetence and wrong-doing that were getting into the public domain; though he claimed he was only worried about the expense. Campbell and the rest of the disreputable crew should realize that the way to stop residents questioning their every move is to be as transparent as they promise to be and to stop hiding things from auditors, coming to the attention of the Crown Prosecution Service, breaking their own codes on whistleblowing and generally feathering their own nests. Stop being furtive, greedy and stupid and this website dies.

I thought councillor Campbell had come to his senses over F.O.I. requests but if he has the virus has spread to one of his tawdry mates, one Nigel Betts, Conservative councillor for Falconwood & Welling. He reckons that “most of this information is freely available on the Bexley website”; well if it was - and a bit easier to find - that would be fine, but I have yet to see an on-line reference to which items must be hidden from the auditors and which need not be and the itemised costs associated with parking enforcement which would expose Craske’s email to residents who queried the new charges he imposed as the falsehood it is.

It is all of course a put up job between Campbell and Betts. In the list of questions to be asked at next Wednesday’s meeting, Betts is on record as asking Campbell about the “vast” number of F.O.I. requests certain “gentlemen” have been making. So it’s an attempt to resurrect the silly scheme to ‘shame’ those who ask questions. Incidentally if these “gentlemen” have put in a “vast” number of F.O.I. requests, then I have a vast number of fingers on my hands.

Not all councillors are tarred with the same brush, one told me he thought the council should be held to account, but maybe he is the one with nothing much to hide. Those that have may wish to note that the number of F.O.I. requests will inevitably increase as more people join in opposing a useless council. Maybe the man who deals with them will be grateful to the “gentlemen” who ensure that his job is less likely to be cut; and presumably he is not so daft as to proceed with an F.O.I. request for information that is readily available on the web. If he isn’t then Betts is even more stupid than he looks and if councillor Campbell’s reply to councillor Betts at next Wednesday’s meeting is a lie it will be reported here within an hour or two of him lying. The “gentlemen” referred to will all be there watching and listening.


13 November - Lie detectors, parking permits and
13 November - Wickham Lane roundabout six months on - almost
- click any image for photo gallery (2 images)

Wickham Lane roundabout Wickham Lane roundabout

There was another case in this week’s News Shopper of Bexley’s rotten council using a lie detector against a resident living alone and it reveals that the operation is contracted to “a west Midlands based company”. Interesting because you and I are generally prohibited from recording phone calls without the other party’s permission but as I understand it the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act which so many council’s routinely abuse allows councils to do it - but not a third party. Since when has a resident living alone been a potential terrorist anyway?

I still don’t understand why anyone would agree to let the council talk to them about the issue, especially after all the adverse publicity. Despite all the restrictions on freedom introduced by Blair and Brown I do not recall a law that says it is illegal not to answer a phone call. My phone is fixed so the bell doesn’t ring if it doesn’t recognise the incoming number. Maybe that is why I am still waiting for my lie-detector test.

When I attended the cabinet meeting on cuts one of the expenses pot raiders took responsibility for this Nazi-like attack on residents and luckily for him he was facing away from me and I didn’t catch his name; otherwise I would have had a new entry in the Rogues’ Gallery. Next Wednesday I shall be at the full council meeting with my note book and a report will be posted here within hours of it ending.

The pictures of the Wickham Lane roundabout taken at 2 p.m. yesterday are deceptive. There were long queues along each of the three entry roads but no traffic at the roundabout because of the long intervals between ‘go’s’ that widely spaced three-way lights necessarily entail. It’s not apparent from the photos and the ones taken two months ago what has been changed. The first photo may show a wider carriageway but it may be an illusion caused by the wide-angle lens. The roundabout appears to be the same size; maybe it has been moved. There was nothing going on at the site, it was pouring with rain at the time and you can hardly blame the Conway guys for packing up early on a wet Friday afternoon. So inconvenience to drivers by the thousand continues daily plus the near-by residents who are suffering road closures, presumably to prevent rat-running but reducing access to their own homes too. Don’t forget this wasn’t Bexley council’s fault at all, I know because I read it on their website.

Something else that hasn’t made much progress recently is the residents’ parking permit saga. A letter was sent to Craske 13 days ago picking apart his false monetary claims and giving him 14 days before legal action was to be commenced. Last I heard there had been nothing but a stony silence.


12 November - Rats and squalor is Bexley council’s preferred option - click any image for photo gallery (2 images and site plan)

Site of demolished Harrow Inn Site of demolished Harrow Inn

There is a rather curious entry on the council’s list of Listed Buildings published last month; it is for The Harrow Inn on Abbey Road, curious because it was demolished in 2009, a victim of the Labour government allowing imposition of full business rates on unoccupied buildings and Bexley’s avarice in promptly applying it. We now have the ‘bomb-site’ shown here. What is needed is a nice modern building, something elegant and graceful to transform this run-down area of town. Something light and airy, curved to fit the site and maybe lots of glass.

Well it could have been like that but Bexley council turned down the plans. Why? They said the site was too noisy.

There are approved standards for noise in buildings and noise levels are graded into four bands. The Harrow Inn site fell into the third category and a building there would need careful and expensive sound insulation; the developer knew that and employed the services of a leading specialist in the field, but the council was intransigent and said it only approved buildings in areas graded in the first two noise categories. Like far too much of Bexley council’s operation that wasn’t strictly truthful. The new flats at 16-72 James Watt Way, Erith, when measured with approved equipment were 3db louder than Abbey Road at its worst and fell into noise grade 4. Not surprising with a six lane road on one side, five on another and the railway running alongside. Those flats were approved by Bexley council just before the Abbey Road ones were rejected and when challenged Bexley council claimed not to know anything about the earlier approval. Very suspicious.

My experience of making a planning application is limited and not in Bexley. It was turned down in direct contravention of The Town and Country Planning Act which ensured the decision was eventually overturned. When I subsequently discussed the matter with my solicitor he said “Did you offer them something?”. On enquiring what he meant he repeated the phrase and added, “you know; some money”. †

I have obtained a plan of the proposal for Knee Hill (see gallery) and when you next see a rat scurrying across this derelict site and wonder why it is left as it is, blame Bexley council. It could have been home to smart new flats and helped bring the area up and be good for local businesses, but Bexley council imposed a noise rule they arbitrarily and inconsistently apply. At least there was no under-hand business, well not at the Abbey Road site anyway.

† Mr. Wood, Clifford Cowling & Co. Fleet, Hants. Hart District Council.


11 November - Brokenshire; broken promises - click image to read his correspondence

James Brokenshire M.P.

I was rather taken aback to see this image (this copy is slightly blurred but you will get the idea) on another local site (and on Google Images) a couple of weeks ago, maybe it is because I don’t know the new Conservative M.P. for Old Bexley and Sidcup. I’m not usually squeamish when it comes to descriptions of our local politicians; I have no difficulty labelling Craske a liar, because he has a long history of lying, most recently over the issue of parking permits, and similarly he can be called vindictive because of his reaction to Felix Akele’s mistake but there is something slightly sinister and shocking about Brokenshire’s ‘tattooed’ image. For me it is reminiscent of the time when you still saw elderly people in the street with tattooed numbers from their days under the Nazis. Bexley council may believe Nazi-like practices are acceptable but it doesn’t mean those opposed to their regime should stoop to their level.

Mr. Brokenshire’s claim to fame is that he said if elected he would protect Queen Mary’s Hospital’s A&E and maternity services. As we have seen, he allowed the hospital management to get one over him, and closure of both is imminent. Goodness knows how Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s A&E will cope: when I had the misfortune to be a patient at QEH last January the medical care was decent enough while it lasted but the administrative stampede to get me dosed up with morphine and out into the night before the four hour target with no money and no friends on hand to assist me in my drugged up state I wouldn’t wish on anyone, Craske included.

I’ve less sympathy with Brokenshire’s stance on fat cat council salaries. When one of his constituents asked him if he supported the Prime Minister’s cut and freeze on ministerial salaries and the call by various ministers that local government senior executives should take the same path he couldn’t actually bring himself to say that he agreed, preferring to shilly-shally around and imply it wasn’t his business. He said there was a need to reduce the senior salary budget, that’ll be posts not salaries, but why can’t he just say he agrees with his senior government colleagues? The correspondence may be read here.


10 November - The Big Society or Big Brother? - click image to view video

Still image from video

Six weeks ago I attended an OFCOM sponsored meeting of London bloggers. You may wish to look at this 52 second video by the coordinator of that meeting which neatly sums up what the OFCOM meeting was about. He speaks of websites having “significant impacts on neighbourhoods and what the implications are for local councils”. He says websites such as this one are bringing people together and delivering on the government’s Big Society. Click the image to view the video.

Well ‘Bonkers’ has certainly brought people together but Bexley council’s stated wish to be open and transparent is too far removed from reality to provide any optimism for an outbreak of honesty and common sense in this neck of the woods. But it’s not all in vain, some of the ‘people brought together’ are planning a website to complement ‘Bonkers’ that will cover the sort of skullduggery that has been merely hinted at here. Whether anything will come of it I have no idea, I hope they have a lot of spare time on their hands.

Something whispered in my ear suggests that councillor Campbell has been active today and I suspect is busy flouting the council’s stated policy on a particular subject. He is the man who doesn’t like Freedom of Information applications and it is not hard to see why when he presides over so much wrong doing. With any luck there will be more information leaking out - or maybe the police will take matters out of his hands.


9 November - I should have called it

Thames Innovations Centre

This website began as a protest against Andrew Bashford’s attempt to bamboozle me with lies and lame excuses over the changes made to the B213 in 2009. He went silent when he was caught out; as did councillor Davey who was exposed as two faced. Lying is the norm at Bexley council but deeper corruption is not far under the surface. I have long been aware of the big-bullies blog written by an ex-Bexley council employee, but I can’t make much of it here because I don’t know whether it is true or not. Whilst I am always ready to expose Bexley council for what it is and to paint an unflattering picture of their constant failures, reports must be absolutely factual. I am rather proud of the comment from a very senior council insider; received a while ago it is true, that he/she thinks bexley-is-bonkers is “scrupulously accurate” and “if only the press was as scrupulous”. That is why I haven’t as yet been able to make much use of information from whistleblowers; it’s very difficult to check its veracity and it’s not impossible that it could be a set-up by Bexley council eager to trap me into making a mistake they could capitalize on.

One or two things do check out. I have seen the papers that show that facts relating to Ian Clement’s expenses and the credit card that everyone claimed not to know about, were to be “hidden from the auditors”. And I have seen the papers that show that Bexley police refused to accept a complaint from a member of the public and that the responsible officer was subsequently admonished by his superiors at Scotland Yard for attempting to protect the council. And I have seen the papers that reveal that the only reason Bexley council has not been prosecuted is because a prosecution is deemed not to be in the public interest. I have also noted that when certain facts were presented to the council’s deputy director of legal services she promptly resigned and no one at the council will talk about it. Strange coincidence that.

The press has reported that down at the Bexley Thames Innovation Centre (TIC) in Thamesmead, wholly owned and funded by Bexley council, the manager, Richard Edwards is on bail after being arrested for having indecent images of children on his computer. Now let me say straight away that it is all too easy for someone to stitch up the manager in this way, so he is innocent until proven guilty, right? But all is not happy down at the Centre and staff are frustrated and want to talk. I can say nothing about the case against Mr. Edwards for legal reasons, but the information I am getting from sources that have convinced me must be genuine is that mail going through TIC has been intercepted and money has mysteriously disappeared from the accounts of a business within TIC. Not just petty cash either, more than £100,000 has been mentioned, and the allegation is that the money has found its way via close personal relationships to Bexley TIC tenants.

As if that isn’t enough the scandal is said to extend to drug dealing, and not just dealing, importing the stuff too. So why would a whistleblower want to leak such a story to me and not report it to the bosses? Could it be because they are bent too? The current whistleblower says the last one at the Innovation Centre was summarily sacked by the very manager now under suspicion of paedophilia. No wonder councillors and executives alike are so reluctant to speak to members of the public. One whose responsibilities extend to the TIC is already on record as wanting to gag enquirers. Probably they are all scared stiff of what might be revealed next.


8 November - Malevolent Imposition of Craske Entrapment (MICE) - click any image for photo gallery (3 images)

Faded road markings - DISABLED Bexley council gestapo car

Last weekend a friend nearly got ensnared by the parking gestapo after unwittingly driving into a parking bay in The Broadway and straddling almost invisible white lines. I didn’t have my camera with me at the time and those taken later after dark didn’t show how poor the lines are. Maybe the one on the left will do the trick. Many years ago it may have said “DISABLED”. Just a car length away was a Bexley council gestapo car, they like to call them MICE which I assume has something to do with them being operated by rodents. It didn’t seem to be doing anything with its spying equipment, which is just as well because no warning camera sign was in evidence anywhere and without it MICE operations are illegal. The odd thing about the situation was that either the gestapo car or the one in front of it had squeezed into an already occupied single bay as is clearly shown in the third image in the gallery.

Incidentally, my friend has said my description of the original incident is far too generous towards Craske’s gestapo. They did, he said, give him the OK to leave his car where it was, but he didn’t really trust them. Quite right too. No one should trust Bexley council and tomorrow I will reveal more about just how corrupt our council probably is.


7 November - The roundabout Merry-Go-Round - click any image for photo gallery (3 images)

Thamesmead roundabout Thamesmead roundabout Ruxley roundabout

I believe there are 24 people at Bexley council employed on traffic planning and road design and they can’t seem to get anything right. My friend who chairs an E.U. committee on the same subject thinks they are either malicious or incompetent. I suspect it is the staff that is incompetent and the Cabinet Member for Transport who is malicious - yes we are back to the utterly useless Craske again.

With 24 idle minds to keep occupied it is more than likely that their primary objective is to look busy and protect their jobs. One ploy is to make a change which is silly and after a few accidents are caused, to undo it all again. We’ve seen the tactic employed in Brampton Road. Two jobs instead of the dole queue and a few dents in a few cars, maybe the odd stay in hospital. It all makes sense if you are incompetent and unemployable outside local government. Currently these imbeciles are obsessed by roundabouts. Extend the pavement, make them difficult or near impossible to get by and maybe end up with something impassable. Incidentally, have you seen their excuse for the five months of chaos at Wickham Lane? They blame their design consultant and credit themselves with finding the problem. So who approved the consultant’s design? Craske’s department. And if they are so damned clever how come their inspectors didn’t notice the developing problem until the roundabout was almost ready for use? Well not by buses obviously, but the inspectors didn’t notice until it was far too late.

The first two pictures above are from their seven week operation to do not a lot - but it is another job for the boys - to a roundabout in Thamesmead. But it isn’t a big deal compared to the one at Ruxley corner. I wandered down there to see how things had progressed since my visit on 25th July. There was lots to see and marvel at. A couple of locals asked what I was up to and filled me in on some of the history. One was even a reader of bexley-is-bonkers. It had been recommended by a friend she said. But the blog doesn’t have the space for a comprehensive Ruxley story, so you can get a slightly expanded version by clicking any image for the photo gallery or go to a brand new section listed under the Roads index.


6 November - Stuff the Ostrich, it’s more like a Lyrebird

The last time I reported on the cost of residents’ parking permits was two weeks ago when Craske had gone into ostrich mode as cowards often do when they have lied and lost the argument. But he cannot hide from the courts or a Freedom of Information (FOI) request and a little progress has been made towards extracting figures that might confirm his estimates - or maybe not.

First a quick reminder of what the weasel has been up to. He has whacked up the cost of a permit after estimating the cost of issuing 3,081 parking permits, including a variety of overheads, at £783,200 or roughly £250 each. When challenged independently by several long-suffering residents he sent them near identical emails and numbers he later refused to justify. (Example).

Bexley’s website says that their Parking Control Account (PCA) has been filed at the Mayor of London’s Office but in a phone call to try to get hold of a copy they said they were still waiting for it. Why does Bexley council have to lie all the time? Fortunately an FOI is not easily ignored. From that we learn that total parking fees last year were £669,000 and fines (from Penalty Charge Notices, PCNs) were £2,306,000. An income approaching £3m. Costs for the whole operation; that’s all parking and fining activity, not just that relating to residents’ parking permits, was £2,257,00 - so parking services overall run at a tidy profit. They allegedly spent it on “Transport Strategy”.

You won’t be surprised to learn that a council as vindictive and motorist hating as Bexley issued 54,583 (revealed by FOI request) penalties in the year for which the overheads must be considerable. They have a uniformed gestapo team going around on motorbikes and in cars armed with cameras and computers checking on yellow lines all day long. The yellow lines and notices are found throughout the borough. On the other hand we have residents sending in payment for a permit who subsequently get one in the post and the Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) infrastructure extends only across a few areas near railway stations and shopping centres and operates for only two hours a day. Let’s be extremely generous and assume that the cost of processing a PCN is the same as processing a permit. Unlikely I know, PCN’s get challenged and result in appeals and paperwork and residents just wait for the postman, but let’s give Craske the benefit of the doubt. So now we have 3,081 permits issued and the best part of 55,000 PCNs. It’s pretty close to being a 5%/95% split or to put it another way; of the £2,257,000 expenditure on parking services just £113,000 may relate to CPZs and parking permits.

The FOI provides a break down of costs. £49,000 is attributed to “Permit Administration” and whilst the permit income is not revealed it must be well over £100,000 at the old permit price and Craske said in his email it is £170,000. He also said that fines from parking in residents’ bays amounted to £275,000 whilst the FOI says that the total of all fines was £2,306,000. So 12% of fines comes from CPZs.

If you assume, as seems likely, that it costs the same to fine a yellow line offender as it does a CPZ offender, it leads to the conclusion that CPZ fine collection costs are about 12% of the total too. The FOI says that about £2m. is spent handing out and subsequently processing fines so the CPZ element may be as high as £250,000. Quite a lot, but Craske’s emails said that CPZ related fines were £275,000 and the income from selling permits (at the pre-increase price) was £177,000. That’s a pretty big profit even before the price went up. No wonder Newham says that a CPZ is self-financing. Craske says “CPZs are very expensive to set up and maintain”. Has Craske been lying? Does he ever tell the truth? Well let’s look at things a different way and compare his emails with the FOI answer and the PCA. Then perhaps we can make up our minds.

• Craske says that the permits ran up £258,000 in staff costs. That’s nearly 60% of the whole office - for about 5% of total activity.

• Craske says it costs £49,000 to produce the permits; implying printing only because he separately lists the other costs. The FOI reveals that £49k. is the total administration cost. Looks like someone is double counting with the intention to deceive.

• Craske says it costs £36,000 a year to paint white lines within CPZs but the figure appears to be imaginary. It doesn’t appear in the Parking Accounts, or in the FOI answer and other reports indicate no lines were painted last year.

• Craske says that on-street enforcement costs for CPZs is £328,00 a year. That’s 45% of total enforcement costs according to the FOI answer - for two hours a day maximum restrictions compared to all day outside the CPZs over a vastly wider area.

• Craske says that he spends £11,000 on computers and the like just for CPZ admin. That’s exactly half the total office computer costs according to the FOI answer - for about 5% of the total work.

• Craske says that accommodation overheads related to CPZ admin. amount to £71,200 and the FOI says that premises costs for the whole office adds up to £110,000. 65% for 5% of the activity.

• Craske says that every cost related to residents’ parking permits adds up to £783,200. That’s more than a third of the entire parking enforcement office to deal with 3,081 permits and around 12% of the total PCNs issued. Craske is pulling our legs isn’t he? I may not be an accountant (although one has come to a similar conclusion to me) but all the indications are that Craske has been lying; until he is blue in the face if Wednesday night is anything to go by.

This blog has been given a more permanent entry under the Roads index to maximise the exposure of Craske’s attempt to deceive the population with his unjustified price increases.


5 November - Parking entrapment by Craske’s gestapo team - click any image for photo gallery (3 images)

Faded white lines Faded white lines

A friend gave me a lift into Bexleyheath last Saturday and there was a space in the disabled bays just a bit west of ASDA - he has a blue badge. These bays are both wide and long and as we got out and took stock of the situation the driver spotted the fading dividing line which he was straddling. Two small cars had parked at the opposite extremities of their bay and we had driven into the middle! As it happened, two members of the gestapo team were close by so my friend asked if he was OK to park where he was. They said that they “would judge each case on its merits”. Well that may be an answer some would welcome but I’m not at all sure that the judgment of one of these parasites is up to the standard of normal human beings and in my view straddling a line however faded was asking for trouble - so we drove off and parked elsewhere.

As we passed by the same spot a few minutes later another small car had taken our place and - you know what is coming next don’t you? - yes it had been issued with a Penalty Notice. OK, he parked where he shouldn’t but that is not the issue here. The real issue is why the gestapo team did not say to my friend “No you can’t park there” but instead encouraged him to park illegally.

This attitude comes from the top - Craske again, the purple faced arch villain. One of his next tricks is to use the CCTV system lovingly installed by your listening council for the protection of residents, to catch motorists in box junctions and the like - so called moving traffic offences. It was among his proposals in last Wednesday’s cabinet papers. Those papers were peppered with the phrase “Maximising Income” but that would be illegal if applied to fining motorists, so he has labelled it “Value for Money” instead. I was persuaded recently that I shouldn’t call Craske a scumbag but you can see why I considered it can’t you?

These photos were taken on Wednesday evening, the only time I’ve found the bays free since last Saturday afternoon. I’ll try to get clearer ones of the lines but it may not be soon.


4 November - Listening to the miscreants

I went to my second council meeting yesterday, a cabinet meeting to discuss the cuts, along with about 15 other Bexley residents. I don’t consider this website to be the place for formal reports of such events, I’ll leave that to Linda Piper to report in the News Shopper or for the council’s own website, but I must say I was totally unimpressed overall.

When I worked for a large multi-national I was never near being on the board, but I was senior enough to sit in on a few meetings and address them occasionally if my area of expertise was under discussion. It’s chalk and cheese. These couple-of-hours-a-week-for-nine-grand-a-year-merchants would be totally out of their league there and most were out of their depth in the council chamber. Councillor Campbell put his case clearly and with a degree of authority but apart from that it was mostly waffle that added nothing but exposed the shortcomings of the speakers. The women (I’ll get into trouble for this) were all abysmal, councillors Perrior and  Bailey in particular couldn’t get beyond heaping praise on the council and agreeing with what the other one said. Top expense claimers too and utterly useless. Councillor Craske (it really is pronounced crass!) spoke about transport issues. The Aunt Sally he had set up so that he could ritually shoot it down and make him appear saintly, was duly shot down. School crossing patrols will not be scrapped and lollypop men and women are saved. I’d not seen Craske in the flesh before and he looked ill to me, his face was the colour of a beetroot throughout. Whether it was the sight of me or the parking permit campaigner in the public gallery I have no idea. Maybe he is always like that but whatever the case I hope he is alright for without him I might run short of idiocies to report.

Councillor Deadman several times expressed his concern for the staff and their jobs and was rewarded with polite nods from other council members and applause from sections of the listening public. Teresa O’Neill who went on public record recently to say reducing councillor numbers was an option, surprise, surprise, did not mention the subject at all. Nor did anyone else.

One thing I was surprised to see is that Chief Executive Will Tuckley actually does exist. I had begun to think he was one of those fictional individuals that some companies use in advertisements. Names that represent the brand with no danger of ever losing them because it is all a charade. No; scrap that idea, these fictional people reply to letters and emails. Tuckley never does that. In fact as I left the meeting I passed a small group that had waylaid Tuckley and I heard enough to know that their complaint was that he hadn’t responded to their enquiries. So that’s good, no one is going to notice when he gets the chop.


3 November - Monitoring the miscreants

It’s Wednesday so it’s the News Shopper’s bash Bexley day. Page 11 is interesting, it highlights three residents who have been trying to squeeze embarrassing information from the council using the Freedom of Information Act. These must be the people that councillor Campbell tried to gag by making threats against them. Among the facts exposed is that council staff claimed £687,174 last year for driving around the borough. Except for the Northern tip of Thamesmead everywhere in Bexley is less than half an hour on a bus from the Civic Centre. 39 out of 70 senior council staff were paid bonuses on top of their salary in 2008/9. The News Shopper names the people responsible for the ‘monitoring’ as John Watson, Elwyn Bryant and Michael Barnbrook. Looking them up on Google reveals that it was Mr. Barnbrook who was instrumental in bringing down ex-MP Derek Conway for abuse of Parliamentary funds and he has others in his sights. He is a retired police inspector so he must be well used to chasing criminals; good luck Michael, you are going to be busy.


2 November - More greed and amoral behaviour. It’s endemic!

Exactly three years ago, Nick Johnson, the then Chief Executive of Bexley council was so unwell he had to give up his job, poor thing. He was on £203k. a year and we were lumbered with paying him £50k. pension a year for life. But he wasn’t that unwell because just four months later he landed a £260k. job with Hammersmith & Fulham council. The rules dictate that he should have lost some of the Bexley funded pension when he suddenly found he wasn’t ill after all, but with some carefully arranged financial jiggery-pokery he managed to hold on to the lot. So he is now on £310,000 a year extracted from the mugs otherwise known as council-tax payers. And as is still common in Bexley, these parasites are hitched up to partners of a similar disposition. Johnson lives with the Chief Executive of Notting Hill’s housing association and their house just happens to be a flat only a few yards from Tony Blair’s grand mansion in Paddington. They are all at it; milking the system that is.

This story is unashamedly nicked from last Sunday’s Mail on Sunday. For the whole sordid tale click here.


1 November - Buses are diverted but the gravy train accelerates - click image for photo gallery (1 image)

Buses on diversion

I’ve featured council neglect a couple of times recently, here’s another example, albeit a fairly trivial one. This sign has been taped to a lamp post since the end of 2008 when Thames Water were replacing a water main. It’s probably TfL’s responsibility but councillors walk by it regularly. If they were really interested in improving the environment and making Bexley look a little less ugly and run-down than it is, then all it would take is a phone call. Why don’t they do it, on ample expenses it wouldn’t cost them a bean? The reason is that councillors are too often only interested in their own income. Some are getting close to six figure territory. I recently added a page to the site (which will be augmented as extra information is researched) which you’ve probably not discovered yet, but take a look at this for an example of how we are being taken for fools by our councillors. It may not be illegal but it is certainly amoral and not what one would expect from totally honest altruistic individuals in public life. Perhaps they noticed what local (ex) MPs Conway and Austin got up to and got away with. Not forgetting our illustrious recent council leader, friend of the Mayor and expenses fiddler extraordinaire, Ian Clement.

The larger photo in the gallery provides the proof that the diversion sign is within Bexley borough.

I always find that new websites take a year or so to take-off and so it is with bexley-is-bonkers. The Google ranking remains high (a page 1 result for “Bexley council”) thanks to an increasing number of links from other sites. A description of it being “terrific” on the News Shopper site will not have done any harm either. I’ve only just noticed that, so a belated thank-you to whoever put that there.

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