Last week the News Shopper carried the councils excuse for four months
of traffic delays in Wickham Lane which skirted around the truth
to conceal their incompetence but this week the letters page gets to
the heart of the matter. Some idiot designed a roundabout that a bus couldnt
navigate. At the weekend I mentioned this latest in a long line of Bexley
council fiascos to my friend the Transport Research Laboratorys senior
consultant. He said that they produced some software several years ago (now
marketed by Savoy Computing) into which you enter the dimensions of your road
junction or roundabout and it will tell you what sort of vehicle can get round
it - and vice-versa. Only an idiot wouldnt use it. But
unfortunately we are in Bexley and the council is in the grip of idiots.
Everyones favourite idiot, councillor Craske, is still intent on penalising residents who need to buy a parking permit. The News Shopper reports the growing list of protest groups. Shouldnt they be grouping together to stand up against the little tyrant? Im not against his basic philosophy that services shouldnt be subsidised, but only an idiot blindly accepts that administration costs of £249 a permit doesnt need to be urgently investigated and reduced. Craske treats the council as a gravy train run for the benefit of councillors and senior employees.
The News Shopper also reports that John Watson of Sidcup who requested a reduction in the very high salary paid to the Chief Executive be discussed at the next council meeting has had his request rejected because under standing orders it cannot debate staffs salaries even when they are in the public domain. There was bound to be some excuse trumped up, secrecy is one of the tools of corruption. The News Shoppers website has today reported how Bromley council is freezing its top executives pay at some twenty odd thousand below Bexleys; and guess which council has the lowest council tax. Not wasteful incompetent mismanaged Bexley thats for sure.
Along with other London bloggers I was invited to a meeting today organised
by OFCOM and The London Civic Forum to discuss the impact and influence of
websites such as this one on the local community and borough authorities. It was
gratifying that so many of the attendees had seen Bexley-is-Bonkers and
remembered its name, probably because it is catchier than some. The conference
leader told me it was one of his top two interesting sites but I rather suspect
he may have said that to everyone. Much of the day long discussions were taken
up with how to run and moderate on-line discussion forums and how to subdue belligerent
political activists, none of which applies here because I decided I didnt have
sufficient free time to manage a forum; however todays comments suggest I may
have been over-cautious.
Perhaps the most interesting session was about the rôle of local websites within the governments Big Society agenda. It is possible that the governments interest comes from getting volunteers to spread the word at little or no cost. A number of examples were provided of councils refusing to play ball with the Coalitions plan, all Labour controlled apparently, but no one produced an example of any council of any political persuasion actually co-operating. They still dont accept that monetary cuts may compel them to relinquish some of their powers and give up what was referred to as tribal tendencies. It is fair to say that not a word was spoken in praise of any local authority for the whole day; indeed it was said that some had offered monetary inducements to bloggers to influence their output.
The six additional photographs in the gallery are pure self-indulgence on my part. From 1966 to 1968 I worked in the very same room as todays meeting when Riverside House (OFCOMs H.Q.) was a Civil Service building occupied by G.P.O. Telephones. I enjoyed the glorious views over the river and the city but by comparison with the decor provided for OFCOM, the G.P.O. was drab and dirty.
Possibly the non-collection of rubbish in my street is too trivial to report here;
on the other hand problems with rubbish collection seem to be widespread across the borough.
A new problem (to me) is that the collectors are too idle to reach into the
bin when a householder has recycled so successfully that the small amount that
remains in the green bin is out of arms reach.
A request for advice made six weeks ago
produced an unintelligible response from Serge Poumo and when a neighbour fell
foul of the same laziness a month ago I repeated my enquiry. Serge Puomo did not
bother to reply. As a direct result of that non-collection the bin became
overfull and so wasnt emptied at all two weeks ago. Then the foxes got busy and
spread the rubbish around.
There is a language problem at the house in question. It is used by a succession of people from Nigeria who stay for a couple of weeks, occasionally longer and are then replaced by someone else. All perfectly decent people so far as one can judge but they do not understand a system that gives them six different bins. If they can be persuaded to use them at all the colour coding is ignored. Last year the occupant merely threw all their rubbish out the door in the general direction of the front garden until a small mountain of rubbish built up. The useless Serge Poumo failed to solve that problem too and it fell to neighbours to get it taken to the dump. Something similar has had to be done to solve the latest problem too. The contents of the overflowing bins was redistributed among other nearby bins. Due to the amount left behind following a month of neglect by Bexley council it is quite possible that those doing the redistribution werent able to observe all the usual rules relating to what goes where, but at least the bins are all empty now. Serge Poumo, Bexleys useless Recycling Advisor, is slowly turning me from being an enthusiastic recycler into someone who rather enjoys the thought that a group of people, fed up with having rubbish blown along the street and into their gardens should fool the collectors into taking it away - even if this weeks load is going to prove to be more contaminated than usual.
Speaking of useless publicly funded parasites brings me to the subject of Will Tuckley, the councils obscenely over-paid and utterly useless C.E.O. I hear a group of Bexley residents has asked that his salary of around a quarter of a million pounds a year be reduced to something close to that of the Prime Ministers £143,000 a year and failing that that his post be abolished altogether. Would anyone notice his absence? The question should be, according to my informant, on the Agenda at the councils next meeting.
Someone in the know at F.M. Conways who do practically all the councils road works has
called to let me know why the roundabout construction at the junction of Wickham Lane and
Oakhampton Crescent has been on hold for the last month or so. Apparently it has
been so beautifully designed by the councils best brains that buses cant get
round it. And you thought I was being a bit hard on Andrew Bashfords road planning
department and cretinous councillor Craske? Shouldnt they be made to pay for their costly mistakes?
The same source told me that the power cut last week was caused by someone working on the Ruxley corner roundabout fiasco severing a very large cable. Councillor Peter Catterall (Welling) is quoted in the press as saying these latest cuts reflect more problems with EDF Energy but if he is quoted accurately, and there is evidence that at the very least the words were taken out of context, it could more fairly be argued that they reflect the total lack of project management skills by Bexley council. My informant said that someone didnt want to pay for the detailed plans and took a chance. Lucky it didnt kill someone, that sort of power can vapourise large chunks of metal.
Four weeks ago my green bin wasnt emptied and Mr. Serge Poulo sent an excuse that didnt make any sense at all; I have no idea what he was talking about. Two weeks ago my new neighbour had the same problem, only a small amount of rubbish in the bottom of the bin so the collectors were too lazy to reach in and remove it. I sent a complaint on her behalf which was acknowledged but no one bothered to reply or empty the bin. Today the lid of her bin couldnt be fully closed but only because it wasnt emptied two weeks ago. So the lazy bin men have left her rubbish behind again. But it is the management at Bexley council which is at fault. The problem cant be unique to me and my neighbours but the council does nothing except organise the next round of pay increases.
The rising tide of opposition to councillor Craskes greed over the matter of
Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) and the exorbitant cost of residents parking permits
has brought forth comment from blog readers and a few interesting figures gleaned from council
sources. Apparently there are only 3,081 takers for residents parking permits in Bexley
and the costs of issuing each one works out at £84 in staff costs and £23 for their
accommodation and other overheads. On top of that ridiculous sum each ticket costs £16 to
print and post. ICT costs, whatever they are, but I assume computers and the like, adds another
(almost) £4 per permit. Then it is said that road marking costs £36,000 a year. Nearly
£12 per permit. It might be interesting to do some arithmetic on that.
If we assume that 3,500 cars have to be accommodated and are allowed a generous 20 feet each then that is just over 13 miles of painted line. If there is more lining than that it is not really part of the CPZ but part of needing to cater for normal parking activity, the casual comings and goings of daily life. Why should residents in CPZs pay for general parking infrastructure when those who live elsewhere dont pay directly for any yellow line that may pass their home?
I know the lines close to my home havent been repainted in the ten years since first installation, so if we assume that is the norm, then thats not much over a mile of painted line which has to be renewed each year, in fact only 7,000 feet. If that costs £36,000 to paint it works out at just over £5 a foot. If the lines are repainted less frequently the true figure might be eight or even ten pounds per foot. They are joking arent they? Not just about the cost of painting a line but on the fact that every single permit issued costs £139. The figure may in fact be nearer £150, because according to the council they spend another £10 per permit on road safety schemes directly associated with the provision of CPZs. I havent a clue what they can be and it seems like another bit of Bexley figure fiddling to me so I shall exclude it. If I am wrong it makes the waste even worse.
Some of that is offset by penalty charges but the cost of enforcement is irrelevant. The real issue is how can a tiny scrap of paper cost that much to issue. You dont have to be an accountant and probably dont need any qualification at all to know that there is something seriously wrong with that. It is bureaucracy gone totally berserk. Someone should get in there quick and sort out the inefficiencies that the idiot councillor Craske hasnt even begun to think about, cocooned as he is from the realities of life by his massive expense account.
A recent report into public sector workers said that on average they spend 68% of their time farting about doing nothing but even if they were made to work twice as hard the staff costs per permit issued would only fall to about £50. There must be simply too many of them and too many fiddles going on with the line painting and printing contracts. Even four pounds a permit to keep the computer database alive is silly. Bexley council is absolutely bonkers and needs pulling apart from top to bottom to root out the incompetence, inefficiency and corruption.
Next Monday an address I frequently visit in East Ham (Newham council) will
be included in a new controlled parking scheme. The cost of an annual residents
ticket will be zero; absolutely nothing. A visitors ticket will be 30 pence a
day and their council tax remains low. Contrast that with the fees
set by the vultures who control high taxing Bexley. They have just doubled
the cost of parking to £70 a year (more in some streets) and visitors are
charged up to 30 pence an hour. Naturally the council
gave no prior warning to residents who are beginning to protest against this blatant
taxation increase and expenses funding operation. Meanwhile the same council has set aside
£4 million to pay a firm of consultants to improve the local roads. Its almost
impossible to find any road in Bexley that has been improved in recent years, with one or
two exceptions all changes are for the worse. An instant improvement could be made by
merely reversing the crass stupidity.
Meanwhile, this week brings the usual crop of injustices by a council described in the local paper as taken over by a mob of nasty, evil people who seem to thrive on other peoples pain and hurt. They have fined a pensioner half his weekly income because his blue badge was allegedly not visible and a fireman has been fined for parking in a road he wasnt in supported by a photograph of a car that isnt his. Our council is managed by heartless jobsworths or in the more colourful language of the local paper, worthless bags of filth. Just a reminder of who is Bexleys transport boss. His name is Peter Craske, a so called Tory councillor and king of their allowance claimers. Suddenly the words nasty, evil, filth and maggot dont seem to be over-the-top at all.
The Jehovahs Witnesses are building a new church in Sidcup, a town that has been dying of neglect and attrition by the mindless collection of nere-do-wells at Bexley council for many a long year. You cant blame them for trying but the Witnesses asked if the free parking spaces in St. Johns Road could be made over to them in exchange for placing a sum of money into Bexleys coffers. As the town is in such a desperate state with its shopping centre barely worthy of that title any more, Bexley council in its Listening and Working for you mode obviously said No didnt they? Not a bit of it; an easy way of financing their expenses pot cannot be turned down whatever the consequences for local businesses and residents. What an appalling amoral bunch our councillors are.
had a phone call this morning to ask why I hadnt mentioned councillor John Daveys
appointment to the Board of Bexley Care (N.H.S.) Trust and the answer is that I really didnt think that there
was anything exceptional about it. It is the height of naivety to believe that these appointments are not all part
of the cosy system of back-slapping and self-enrichment that pervades councils and quangos, but I was wrong to
ignore it and my caller was right. That a councillor who says one thing to his constituents and does the
opposite on Bexley council committees, and walks away when shown evidence of motorists being ticketed for parking
in a prohibited place where Bexley council hadnt bothered to put up signs, is deemed a fit person to sit on
the board of anything is alarming but sadly no longer surprising.
The press release about the appointment
is available on-line.
I expect his expertise in double-talk will come in handy if my experience of the N.H.S. is anything to go by. Im still waiting for an honest reply from them on why they came to throw me out of A&E to meet their targets. Currently they have lied themselves into the position of having to admit they diagnosed a severe stomach problem but gave me no treatment for it whatever. Eight months on and they are still looking for an explanation but they are good at sending me holding letters to cover the delay. Councillor Davey should feel very much at home in his new sinecure and the £8,000 he will get for it will augment his councillors expenses very nicely.
Six weeks ago reports came in that Wickham Lane was totally disrupted by the installation of a roundabout and I took some photos of the mess that Bexley council had created. Further reports say work has stalled so I drove by twice between 11 a.m and noon today and its true. I saw no sign of progress or anyone on site or indications that there may have been activity recently. Nothing! On my return trip I was sixth in line waiting for the lights and when the green came the first three vehicles and the fifth got through, the rest of us had to wait again. If that happens in the middle of the day, it must be every bit as bad in the rush hour as reports suggest. Lets hope it gets finished quicker than the 18 months and more that it has taken Bexleys incompetent contract managers to (not quite) finish Abbey Road. Listening to you, working for you. What a joke. Laughing at you, wreaking havoc; would be nearer the truth.