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Bonkers Blog January 2011

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31 January - A coincidence? Almost certainly

At the beginning of the month I reported how the council’s out of hours service proved to be useless when I reported a potentially dangerous water valve cover in Abbey Road. I’ve since learned that the service is now contracted out to a company with a vested interest in doing nothing, but the next day Bexley’s Northern Area manager fixed the problem. Nothing very remarkable about that, he’s always very much on the ball. However what is out of the ordinary is that almost everything reported here this month has been fixed. The illegal yellow lines in Abbey and Devonshire Roads have been removed. The unnecessary parking restrictions in Wilton Road were eventually taken away, though one lone sign remains to confuse the issue. And a huge surprise is that the pedestrian refuge in Abbey Road which presented a serious trip hazard for almost two years has been concreted over.

I am sure it must be coincidence; if Bexley council had decided to take away all the low-level ammunition that can be fired at them they might have taken away the two year old bus diversions signs left to fester on lamp posts, maybe remove the warning signs put in place when Abbey Road flooded a month ago and fixed the speed indicator that hasn’t worked for a year. I doubt their ability to systematically attend to things at the trivial end of the spectrum, I doubt their willingness to attend to the deep seated dishonesty and greed that is their hallmark even more.


30 January - Cuts - except for O’Neill’s favoured few

One of the oddest things I’ve seen proposed as part of the council’s cuts programme is that if you plan to use a computer in a library it must be booked in advance and on-line. Surely if you have access to a computer to make the booking you don’t have any need to go to the library to use one? I suppose it’s another tick on a jobsworth’s list and helps distract residents from the real issues. One of those is that councillors are keen to slash and burn so long as it doesn’t hit their own pockets. It’s been reported many times that the council Leader is determined to protect her fat cat staff on £4,000 a week and ignore all the contrary advice from government. I wrote to the minister a month ago drawing attention to the two fingers being raised in his direction by Teresa O’Neill but so far there has been no response. But at least he is big enough and ugly enough to stand his ground if he wanted to, unlike the residents of Bexley’s care homes.

When I get reports of Bexley’s criminal activities in the realms of parking and other non-personal issues they are easy to report in as much detail as I can find but twice this month I have been sent details of Bexley’s abuse of vulnerable residents which are impossible to cover in detail for fear of council retaliation. A few days ago I alluded to the near death of a disabled child in Bexley’s care and the “cheating and lying” (quote from a parent) employed to attempt a cover-up and now I have another report involving social services. A letter to all residents of care homes assures them that the council’s budgetary negotiations with support providers will not “have any significant impact on warden services provided to people in sheltered accommodation”. But one of those wardens has broken cover and given details of what it will mean to them. A 33% pay cut. No cuts for the fat cats but a big one for essential staff! As you might expect, this particular warden cannot afford such a loss of income and has decided to leave. How is it that care home residents are being assured that no changes to services are anticipated? I suppose the only explanation is that Bexley council is once again doing what it does best. Lying and cheating.


27 January - Better late than never

Wow! After two and a half weeks of ticketing motorists for no reason whatever, Bexley council seems to have come to its senses and withdrawn all the parking restrictions in Wilton Road. Presumably they will be cancelling all the Penalty Charge Notices too - or will they merely allow their dishonesty to prevail?


26 January - Good news. Bad news - click any image for photo gallery (2 images)

Free parking bays, Abbey Road Free parking bays, Devonshire RoadThe correspondent who earlier this month referred me to the illegal application of yellow lines in Abbey Road and Devonshire Road has achieved a minor victory over Bexley council; they have conceded that they have been breaking the law and the lines in both places have been removed and replaced by free parking bays. I bet that confuses any motorist who decides to park in one, unrestricted parking is unheard of in the centre of Bexleyheath.

But the good news stops there, the council have said this is a temporary measure while they dream up another way of fleecing the motorist; it was said a mobile telephone based payment system is favoured. So another expensive system with lots of potential for wrong charges - as has been reported from Bromley where the council experimented with such a system. Further bad news is that Bexley council has no intention of tracing the motorists it illegally fined for parking on an unauthorised yellow line. Dishonesty is standard procedure in Bexley.

Continuing the Bad News/Good News theme; parking fines are to go up across London by £10 but you may be surprised to learn that councillor Craske voted against the increase. How that fits in with his local policy of bleeding motorists dry and cooking the books if it aids his evil schemes I have no idea. I’d like to think that he has turned over a new leaf but as the news is six weeks old and his madness has been much in evidence since it seems that any optimism would be ill-founded.


22 January - Another illustration of Craske’s preference for vengeance and spite over commonsense - click any image for photo gallery (4 images)

Road clear of obstructions Parking notice Hole on Greenwich side of the roadWilton Road, Abbey Wood lying within two boroughs sometimes provides an interesting contrast between Greenwich and Bexley councils. It last featured here on 11 October last year when the gas main was renewed on the Greenwich side of the road. This week the Bexley main was due to be dug up and not unnaturally notices went two Saturdays ago banning all parking from 10 January to 4 February. However as the first photo taken today shows there has been no loss of parking spaces and that is because the contractor dug holes in the Greenwich section instead. (Photo 3.) However Bexley continues to enforce parking restrictions and has sent in its gestapo team four times a day every day for a week issuing parking tickets to every car parked on its side of Wilton Road despite no harm being done to anyone.

The notices are fixed to movable plastic barriers at a level low enough to be easily obscured by parked vehicles and anyone spotting one might be forgiven for thinking they had been moved by pranksters from the other side of the road where their presence might be more logical. Any reasonable council would have removed or re-dated their notices, but Bexley is not a reasonable council, it is filled with corruption and hatred. There can be no reason for enforcing restrictions where there is no need whatsoever other than to raise as much revenue as possible and do as much damage as possible to the few remaining shops in the road. As is so often the case when hatred and unreasonableness comes to the fore it is councillor Craske who proves to be the tyrant responsible.


19 January - Ladies and Gentlemen; this man is taking the pee - click any image for photo gallery (2 images)

Ladies Gentlemen Gareth BaconBuried deeply in Bexley council’s Strategy 2014 document is a proposal from councillor Gareth Bacon for “Closure and sale of Townley Road public convenience and Bexley Village public convenience”. He says that depriving residents of a vital service is “Value for money”. It’s a stupid phrase that means nothing in this context. On the same basis you might say that closing the Civic Centre represents “Value for money” too. The withdrawal of this vital service is said to save £40,000, enough to fund the Bacon household’s expenses claims for nearly five months.

A correspondent put a frightening thought into my mind a few days ago by posing an interesting question. It was in essence, “Do you think that council corruption, dishonesty and incompetence is confined to Craske’s departments?” I was then given an insight into how Bexley’s social services operate. The story involved the near death of someone in need of constant care and attention who should have got it from Bexley council but didn’t and then of course the inevitable lying involved in trying to cover it all up. Unfortunately it is never likely to be possible to report such cases in detail because without being closely involved the whole truth is difficult to get at and it is more likely than not that a council as vindictive and bloody-minded as Bexley would seek revenge against the vulnerable ‘patient’ and their families. From my only contact with Bexley’s social services I know that punishing the most vulnerable members of society figures highly among their priorities.


15 January - Three more missing parking meters - click any image for photo gallery (2 images)

Parking meters replaced by double yellow lines Parking meters replaced by double yellow linesHoward Ward-Corderoy’s boast (reported 12th January) that Bexley council installs double yellow lines “to show members of the public that if meters were stolen drastic action would be taken” perfectly illustrates that its main priority is too often to wage war against residents and if the council breaks the law in the process it simply doesn’t care. It’s not the first time I have reported Bexley council changing parking regulations without bothering to go through the legal processes. How many innocent motorists are forced to pay fines because of Bexley council’s brazen abuse of the law?

The photographs taken in Devonshire Road, a turning off The Broadway in Bexleyheath, show the scars in the pavement where the meters once were and the newly painted illegal yellow lines. I understand that local businesses who will suffer more loss of trade are still pursuing the matter with the habitual liar, Craske. So far he has gone to ground but if there are any developments I have been promised a full report. Speaking of the liar Craske, I noticed that some versions of January’s The Chronicle (Page 2, third item) carry a reference to Craske lying at the council meeting last November. How does he get away with it? Ah, I just remembered, Bexley’s Standards Board has been filled with Conservative councillors so ordinary members of the public are virtually powerless to complain.


12 January - Vindictive council rushes to punish innocent motorists again

Immediately after publishing the unusual photo of a parking meter adjacent to a yellow line a report came in of similarly idiotic restrictions elsewhere. The seasonal ’flu has prevented me from taking a look but apparently meters are being replaced by double yellow lines as a matter of council policy. Their excuse, I’ve seen the correspondence, is that rather than slip a few pence into a meter, motorists are ripping them out of the ground and stuffing them in their boots just to get free parking. Have you ever heard such nonsense? If meters are being stolen it will be by itinerant scrap metal dealers who nick drain gullies and No entry signs or maybe the proverbial mindless vandals. But one of the council’s own mindless vandals, one Howard Ward-Corderoy, is prepared to spell out their malicious and spiteful attitude in black and white. He says “the council removed the meter bays and installed the yellow lines to show members of the public that if meters were stolen drastic action would be taken”. So their priority is not to quickly restore normality to those who pay their wages but to do their utmost to make life in Bexley even more difficult. It’s as if the department which has the job of restoring stolen gully covers turned off the street lights and covered the holes with asphalt coloured cardboard to ensure there were as many serious accidents as possible instead of replacing them quickly. Bexley council truly has been “taken over by a mob of nasty, evil people who seem to thrive on other people’s pain and hurt”, just as stated in the News Shopper last year.

It comes as no surprise that the department prepared to brag about its spiteful management style is councillor Craske’s, the leading exponent of governance by malice and lies. Yellow lines are intended to restrict parking where it might be dangerous or obstructive to other road users but Bexley council, corrupt as always, ignores sensible guidance, preferring to inflict unnecessary pain if it can. It is fortunate that the roads affected so far are not bus routes or they may have used an even bigger sledgehammer to vent their rage on motorists.


4 January - There are conscientious people working for Bexley council - click any image for photo gallery (3 images)

Gully temporarily fixed Thames water hole temporarily fixed Unfinished pedestrian refugeI found the response of Bexley’s out-of-hours emergency service to my report of dangerous ‘drain holes’ a little disappointing. A case of “Listening to you” but not “Working for you”. Yesterday I emailed the ‘Head of Area Teams & Northern Area Manager’ with the same information. He is someone who has always responded very positively to several similar reports in the past and this was no exception. Within a couple of hours temporary repairs had been effected which should prevent motorcyclists coming a cropper. I feel I should name this individual but I fear that to be praised here falls into a similar category to whistleblowers who expose paedophilia and thieving and get sacked by councillor Campbell for their trouble.

It’s a pity that fixing other hazards isn’t handled by the same department. This keep left bollard (photographed at night two days ago) has been in some sort of mess for something like 18 months despite several visits by F.M. Conway and others. It is still not concreted in but at least it does now illuminate after dark.


3 January - Another parking restriction - click image for photo gallery (1 image)

Meter on a yellow lineA couple of months ago Bexley council embarked on a programme of further parking restrictions on 160 roads across the borough so reports of extra difficulties imposed on motorists and businesses were to be expected. Today’s comes from a resident of Abbey Road which is just off The Broadway in Bexleyheath (visible in the background of the photograph).

The Abbey Road resident says that the parking meter was handy for those popping into the nearby shops for a few minutes or the business owners who needed to leave their vehicle nearby for a longer time. That has been made more difficult and vehicles are displaced further along the road which is residents only. I suppose the fine revenue for offending against the C.P.Z. is greater than a few pence per hour from a parking meter. It doesn’t compare with the havoc wreaked by Bexley council on Blackfen Road or Albany Park but it is part of the steady drip drip of attrition waged on car owners by councillor Craske’s department.

Minister Greg Clarke said today that the government was “ending the war on the motorist” and rules which “unfairly penalised drivers”. Call me an old cynic but cretinous Craske is not going to take any notice of that. A man who can tell bare-faced lies in front of the entire council, the press and quite a number of members of the public isn’t likely to take any notice of government guidance. But at least you can tell when he is lying, the beetroot colour gets even deeper.


1 January - Bexley’s out-of-hours emergency service - click any image for photo gallery (2 images)

Frost damage Broken coverI was on my way out this morning and started looking at the amount of frost damage to Abbey Road, Belvedere. I spotted a drain cover almost lifted out of the road surface which I shall report on Tuesday but then I spotted a broken cast iron access cover. Fortunately it wasn’t very big but it was in the middle of the road not far from a bend. A wide car wheel wouldn’t go down it but a motorcycle’s might be affected. 50 years ago I came off a motorbike that hit a near identical hole and was lucky to escape with my life as I was catapulted into a wall. No helmets in those days; so at some inconvenience I returned home to report the danger to the council.

After a bit of telephone button pushing I spoke to someone on emergency duty who asked if it was a utility company’s cover. “Probably, but how would I know, it was missing and I didn’t stand in the middle of the road looking at it for long.” “In that case it isn’t our responsibility, I can give you some utility company phone calls if you like.” I took down the numbers but I didn’t have time to go back to assess who the hole might belong to and then phone them. So I left it. I’m going to feel pretty bad when I go to photograph it tomorrow if there has been an accident. I suspect all will be well, the hole was no bigger (but much deeper) than the potholes that the council regularly ignores.

In my view the episode indicates that council procedures are inadequate, but it doesn’t care about potholes so I suppose one should not expect it to care about missing access covers. I know they care about stolen drain water gullies and assumed it was because they were death traps; why the different attitude to similar dangers? A procedure that relies on anonymous telephone callers ringing the utility companies is an accident waiting to happen, the council should do it themselves to ensure it is done. It was only luck that it isn’t a big hole, they didn’t bother to ask.

Photos added 08:30 on 2 January.


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