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Bonkers Blog April 2012

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Former Head of a corrupt police force

30 April (Part 4) - May Day

Tomorrow is a new month and I shall switch the www.bexley-is-bonkers.com direct route to the blog to May and then find, like others no doubt, that it still goes to April despite what the web server says. The problem is that most browsers will extract the old page from their cache and not all respond to a page refresh instruction. They demand the Temporary Files are cleared. It’s a pain but I don’t know what else can be done about it.

 

30 April (Part 3) - They are all in it together

I complained to the Local Government Ombudsman about Bexley council’s year long efforts to get bloggers in general and me in particular behind bars for “criticising councillors…". My actual words to the LGO were “I maintain that Mr. Will Tuckley and Bexley council have made a concerted attack on me in order to have me arrested and imprisoned by making allegations which were either entirely false or gross distortions of the truth”.

I told them that the “flaming torches” comment came from elsewhere and the source was not pursued, ditto the petrol bombs nonsense, but both were used to pursue me because I was the council’s highest profile critic. As supporting evidence I mentioned the various FOIs which eventually, after the intervention of the Information Commissioner, revealed that it was Tuckley who was behind the plot; and the obscene blog.

The LGO has written to say they are minded to dismiss my complaint as I should address the question of FOI delays back to the ICO and the obscene blog should be referred to the police. They indicate that Bexley council is at liberty to report anyone it wishes to the police and can choose the reporter of any comment it does not like rather than its source and if the police fall for their ruse then the complaint should be directed at the police not the LGO. They seem unable to distinguish evidence from complaint. From where do they get these people?

There will be an appropriate response but all public bodies appear to be tarred with the same brush and presumably, at some level at least, they are all in it together - for themselves. I think it is called Common Purpose.

 

30 April (Part 2) - Where the money goes

There has been comment before on how lucky some councillors are to pick up jobs with other public bodies, just by virtue of being councillors. Some are paid significant sums; John Davey (£7,782) at the NHS Care Trust for example but he is not the only one, councillor Eileen Pallen has been playing the same game.

Councillors being paid by outside bodies may go with the territory and prove how well paid they are and why they are in the job, but what about money that flows in the other direction? Clubs and groups and other voluntary organisations run or managed by councillors that Bexley council decides to lavish money on? Funding for the Council for Equality and Diversity was withdrawn a year ago but in 2010/11 - the last year for which any figures are available - Bexley council handed over £110,146.

The Belvedere Community Centre was gifted £31,368. It is run by councillors Allon, Fuller, Macdonald and Margaret O’Neill. The Hurst Community Centre picked up £29,200. Councillor Chris Taylor is on its committee. The Scout’s County Executive was paid £116,500 - some of it for providing approved youth services. Councillor Hunt is Executive Council Member. The Local Arts Council is run by councillor John Davey. Another £15,000 goes there.

Without voluntary organisations Bexley might be a poorer place but money is flowing to business too.

Richmond Events is the company that ran the Danson Festival in 2010 and received £82,531 for their trouble. Why should Bexley council contract an international company with its UK HQ, in Richmond? I have no idea, maybe you should ask councillor John Fuller, he works for them.

Councillor June Slaughter is on the board of Bird College, a sort of local Italia Conti theatrical school without quite the same track record for producing new ‘stars’. It ran some music classes in Bexley schools and their price was £284,533. Bexley Manor Nursery School provides child care under the ‘Early Years’ scheme which is quite a good business to be in. It took £154,661 from Bexley council. Its director is councillor John Waters.


Councillor Slaughter subsequently informed me that the information about herself taken from the council’s accounts (Page 70) is incorrect. She has a minor role in the music department, no board responsibilities.


The big one is the Thames Innovation Centre with seven councillors on the board in 2010/11, fewer now. Bexley gave them fifty thousand pounds worth of services to keep it afloat, provided nearly half a million quid’s worth of furniture, free, gratis and for nothing and contributed sixty thousand for building work. Then, just in case that wasn’t enough, came up with a loan facility of £450,000 - interest free over ten years. Who else gets ten year interest free loans from Bexley council? Oh, an academy school I think it was, but that is a story for another time.

Note: The figures shown are all extracted from Bexley council’s 2010/11 accounts.

 

30 April (Part 1) - No Waitrose for Sidcup

The Black Horse, SidcupA letter from Waitrose’s Property & Development Communications Manager says “we are sadly no longer confident we would be able to make our planned involvement in the Hillingdon Developments scheme in the High Street commercially viable in the long-term.” And they go on to make it absolutely clear they are not going to open a store on the site of the old Black Horse coaching inn.

Andrews, the estate agent long established in Sidcup, is pulling out too.

 

29 April - Welcome to Bexley - Click any image for photo gallery (3 images)

Flood in Gayton RoadFlood in Abbey RoadThis is Belvedere where it runs into Abbey Wood just before 7 a.m. this morning. These two spots have flooded on every rainy day since 1987 and probably before that. The first is the welcome Bexley gives to visitors alighting at Abbey Wood station soon to be a Crossrail terminus, and the second is Abbey Road, and later in the day the flood would have risen above the pavement too, it usually does. I don’t suppose 25 years of neglect would be allowed if any councillors lived in this corner of town, but they don’t.

 

28 April - Bexley Cabs. What’s going on?

Bexley CabsA call to Bexley’s Head of Planning revealed that applications by any councillor or member of his family always goes before the Planning Committee for scrutiny, so that means there is no real likelihood of Bexley Cabs, owned by the son of council deputy leader Colin Campbell, getting special treatment because everything will be open and above board. Well maybe not.

According to the head honcho, the application has been submitted by Ms. Dymphna Byrne and the officer dealing with it says it’s not a change of use as the office was previously a taxi office. That’s news to the owners of adjacent property but said officer has apparently been out to check and the office is indeed kitted out as a taxi office. I wondered why someone would have jumped that particular gun, now I can see the reason.

So who is Dymphna Byrne? The name seems to ring a bell; ah yes, it cropped up as part of the Trip Adviser complaints in January - though not specifically mentioned in the blog.

Update: The planning application correctly says it is a change of use, the planning officer must have made a mistake.

192 AddressAs you can see from this extract from 192.com, Mark Campbell and Dymphna Byrne share an address. Click the image to see the page from which this is extracted.

Joint ownersJoint ownersAnd the two of them run companies together and Mark Colin Campbell runs Bexley Cabs.

So if Mrs. Clark, Head of Planning, is correct, then for the application not to mention Mark Campbell ,the owner of Bexley Mini Cabs Ltd and son of the council’s deputy leader, looks fishy doesn’t it? I expect she will be taking a closer look.

Click images to view the unedited documents.

 

27 April (Part 2) - It’s Penhill Road all over again - Click any image for photo gallery (7 images)

Traffic queueTraffic queueLong term users of Penhill Road will know that it used to offer two traffic lanes to the large roundabout at the end of the Danson Underpass, then came along Aurang Zeb, one of Bexley’s traffic planners, to reduce it to a single lane and we have had a perma-queue ever since. He said it was to make the road easier to cross. Leaving aside the fact that very few people cross it outside school opening/closing times, if he had been serious about pedestrian safety he would have specified a proper crossing. As usual we got the worst of both worlds.

Bexley’s road narrowing fetish continues apace. The junction of Faraday Avenue, Sidcup with Foots Cray Lane has never been easy at busy times but traffic heading in a southerly direction did at least have the benefit of a second lane to bypass those wishing to turn right. So what has Bexley council done to improve matters?

Additional obstacles are being installed and the pavement has been extended into the ‘bypass’ lane. See how the straight ahead arrow is almost obscured and the second lane is no more. So far there is no sign of the mini-roundabout that I heard rumoured and Bexley’s website has been of little help.

Photographs taken at 10:30 this morning.

 

27 April (Part 1) - You couldn’t make it up, but they did

It’s been rather too busy here to have to fall back on the old standby, the council’s a accounts, but now that the Olly Cromwell business is in limbo until May 9th, today I shall do so. Those who are addicted to the Olly fiasco can go and read today’s Guardian blog instead.

An item in Bexley’s Budget Update issued in February is “Unquantifiable To Be Determined Items”. There’s bound to be a few items that fall into such a category, some things will be known unknowns as US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld famously declared, but unlike Bexley council, he didn’t go on to specify exactly what the known unknowns were. Bexley is far more knowledgeable than Rumsfeld; it says that its “Unquantifiable To Be Determined Items” can be quantified as saving £200,000 in the financial year just gone and £320,000 in the current one.

Just like Councillor Craske’s estimate of £240 to issue a parking permit, they make it up as they go along.

 

26 April (Part 2) - Didn’t they do well?

Toilets closedThe outrageous cost of cleaning Bexley’s five self cleaning public toilets caused several readers to express a view about the money being flushed down this particular drain. The interest in things scatological provides a convenient moment in which to provide an update on another aspect of the same subject.

Bexley’s best known public toilets were sold last June for £239,000 leaving late night revellers cross-legged and searching for dark corners. Inconveniencing the population was supposed to save shed loads of money each year. £40,000 to be precise. And how much was actually saved in the ten months of the financial year 2011/12 in which Bexley council didn’t own them? Precisely nothing according to the latest budget updates.

 

26 April (Part 1) - Council twit?

Twitter profileThis appeared on Twitter last weekend; the third time I or the blog have been impersonated on the net, but I wasn’t convinced it had been done with malice in mind.

However those who know Twitter far better than I do say this new user is systematically going through other people’s more scurrilous Tweets, 'favouriting’ them, which I take to mean giving endorsements in what is in effect my name. What was a recipe for confusion looks as though it could turn nastier.

Whilst I see no direct evidence, others are speculating that it is the work of a Bexley councillor - they have form for it.

Twitter’s Terms & Conditions allow a lot of freedoms but impersonation isn’t one of them; I therefore went through their ‘report impersonation’ routine providing proof that the domain name shown belongs to me. Twitter emailed acceptance of the complaint and asked me to FAX a scan of my passport to a number in the USA. This I did via an on-line FAX sending facility.

How long that will take to process I do not know, but at least the complaint went in within a few days and not the six or seven months the police waited before contacting Google over the obscene malcolmknight.blogspot which someone at Bexley council must have known all about.

 

25 April (Part 2) - Comments and corrections

I have very nearly caught up with answering old emails (†) but new ones keep arriving.

One tells me I can’t count and it is right. There are five automatic toilets in the borough and not just the four I wrongly counted on the council’s list. I don’t like having things on site that are wrong so I have corrected
Monday’s blog but will place my mistake on record by by confirming that each automatic toilet need only have 707 customers per day and not 880 as previously stated. The total number remains the same at over 3,500 of course. It might be cheaper to place a little man with a mop outside each one.

Mrs. Grootendorst's hedgeNot my hedge! Only the drive is mineI have been taken to task for suggesting that Mrs. Grootendorst’s hedge is a little on the tall side when my own is just as bad. I should probably state that the hedge outside my house is my neighbour’s, not mine. The end of a cul-de-sac layout is squashed at the point where plots adjoin the road and things are not as they might seem. Actually the view shown here is just after it was trimmed yesterday, the first time it has been cut since last Summer. Normally I do it but I seem to have been otherwise occupied recently.

Feedback about this website from council sources is relatively rare and I sometimes wonder what they might think of it. My fear is that by making their position ever more uncomfortable the decent ones will up and go leaving us only with ‘the crooks’. I have certainly had comment from the former that they do not want to be associated with obscene blogs. Now news comes in that two of the ‘good guys’ are being elbowed out of the cabinet. Councillors Hurt and Catterall have been named.

If the following email (which the sender suggested I publish here) is typical it will not only be the good guys who will be going…


All that paper, all that police time, all that Council time…. Wasted !……….all my Council Tax being WASTED!!!! The next time we have a local election I will ONLY vote for those who are NOT on the Council now. Anything to get rid of these idiots!


It’s about Olly’s prosecution in case you hadn’t guessed. The writer is a medical man whose email gives a few clues as to his profession qualifications. One might assume he is a natural Conservative voter. Will his conclusions please councillor Chris Ball the Labour leader? If everyone voted against the incumbents a Labour administration would be possible - not guaranteed - but Chris would definitely lose his seat.

Another correspondent provides a load of alarming detail on what looks like more corruption, none of which can be published - at least not yet - but ends with some nice words of encouragement. “Keep up the good work - your website is the best thing on the net”. I think I can safely say that while the correspondence flows freely the site will continue but the time pressures are considerable. Email I can just about keep up with, telephone calls I don’t always answer but lately the door bell has been ringing too. Word has got around that I am the Neighbourhood Watch coordinator. No way!


(†) Email sent between 23rd March and 3rd April was lost because of a hard drive failure.

 

25 April (Part 1) - The Taxpayers’ Alliance Rich List - Guess who is near the top

TPA Rich List
Elwyn Bryant’s petition with 2,219 Bexley signatures was condemned by Bexley council because it mentioned Will Tuckley’s salary in the preamble. He said the full salary package was £208,983 made up of figures he obtained from the council’s website. Bexley misrepresented his case to the media by trying to pass off Tuckley’s basic salary as the total salary package. Presumably they will have to plumb the depths of their lie store to find one capable of covering the Taxpayers’ Alliance figure of £258,782. What does Tuckley do to deserve a quarter of a million a year? Not a lot according to some Bexley councillors.

Who was it that claimed Tuckley was very good value for money? None other than Boris Johnson’s favourite, council leader Teresa O’Neill.

Click image for full report (PDF).

 

24 April (Part 3) - When is a fraud not a fraud?

When Bexley council says it’s not and doesn’t allow the Crown Prosecution Service to express a view.

The new Home page has been revised to allow references and links to a number of interesting documents. These are Bexley council’s audit of former council leader Ian Clement’s Purchasing/Credit Card. The letter they sent to Clement seeking his comments on specific misuses. The formal report by the Audit Committee and a letter from the police confirming that Bexley council did not believe a crime had been committed. If you read those documents you will see that the abuse was identical to, but more extensive than, those that resulted in prosecution for misuse of his GLA card.

Clement went to a BT funded event in the USA. The council paid his accommodation and travel costs. Clements claimed for overnight subsistence. He visited the Netherlands on a fully funded trip and claimed £272.25 subsistence. Other claims ran up a bill of more than £2,000 and Clement was asked to pay it back, but none of it is fraud; oh no. Bexley council says so.

Local newspaper comment may be viewed here. Clement’s deputy at the time was councillor Teresa O’Neill.


Dear councillors Seymour and Bauer,

Thanks you so very much for providing the opportunity and incentive to revisit another of Bexley council’s skeletons and bring to the attention of a wider audience how Bexley council protects its own, whether they be obscene bloggers or those who misuse taxpayers’ money.

The Bonkers team owes you a great debt of gratitude. The number of visitors may have fallen from its peak of ten times normal but it has settled down at a welcome twice the old numbers. Without you that may not have been possible.

Yours sincerely,


Until September of last year, Bexley council detailed Clement’s debt on its website, claiming that he had paid back about 10% of it and they were pursuing him for more. However following that page being given publicity on this site it was withdrawn and the information is now kept secret.

 

24 April (Part 2) - Falling on hard times

Crayford Town HallTesco ExpressBexley council’s website features its impressive plan for Crayford Town Hall. “180 new homes, a new library, modern community facility, restaurant, health centre and shops”. The reality seems to be rather less grand.

Click here or click the image to visit the original web page.

 

24 April (Part 1) - It may not be pretty but does that make it criminal? - Click any image for photo gallery (3 images)

Building works in progressOvergrown hedgeOvergrown hedgeWhile Bexley council continues with its plan to criminalize the Grootendorsts and force them to reduce the height of their sixteen year old car port the building work continues apace and threatens to overtake events.

The builder’s equipment and materials are not pretty but he seems to be making an effort to keep things as tidy as possible. It may not be welcomed by neighbours but it is inevitable and won’t last for ever. If it was my house I would do something about that hedge though.

 

23 April (Part 2) - Standards? What standards?

Meeting announcedChoose an AgendaThere is to be a meeting of Bexley’s Standards Assessment Sub-Committee this evening, it says so on the council’s website. And it must be true because someone who complained about Alan Downing’s (next Mayor so it is said) treatment of a man with a hearing problem has had a letter to confirm the complaint will be heard tonight. "An Assessment Sub-Committee of Bexley’s Standards Committee will consider the allegation on 23 April 2012 to determine what action should be taken in relation to your complaint. Please note that you will not have the opportunity to attend the meeting as it is not a public meeting.” The complainant opined that it will probably be a charade and not even discussed. Surely not.

Did you notice the bit about the Agenda being available a week before the meeting? Well it’s not. In fact the last Agenda provided is nearly a year old. The menu doesn’t even include 2012. (See image). Hmmm. Maybe the complainant has a point after all.

See if you can find tonight’s Agenda.

 

23 April (Part 1) - Taking the pee

Toilet signWho says Bexley council has shut all its public toilets? In fact there are nine hidden away in public buildings, five of those silver coloured automated pillar box things and another that opens only on ‘special event’ days. About its Automated Public Toilets, Bexley council has this to say. “APC's are open 24 hrs a day and cost 10 pence per use. All APC's have disabled facilities (sic) and are cleaned thoroughly after every use.”

Not that thoroughly it would seem. A company called ISS Public Services Ltd has a contract to clean those five toilets which is worth £129,000 a year.

The automated toilets cost ten pence per use; I’ll save you the arithmetic. Each toilet must be used 707 times per day to break even on cleaning and minor maintenance costs alone. List of public toilets in Bexley..

 

22 April (Part 5) - @BexleyisBonkers

Bonkers is not on TwitterIs it me on Twitter? Of course not. Where do you think I'd get the time for a Twitter account from?

All publicity is said to be good publicity so it may well help spread the word. From the initial post it doesn’t look like some dickhead councillor aiming to get me into trouble. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

If I branch out into any new technology it is going to be an RSS feed.

 

22 April (Part 4) - Oh! The irony

Crap from Cleverly
His utter contempt for democracy? A bit rich coming from the council that bans filming, gets very close to banning questions at council meetings, abuses the law to try to banish criticism, issues false press statements and lies on its own party website. It was only last week that three councillors had to change the Lesnes ward website because it gave their own honest opinion and not O’Neill’s. That’s her idea of democracy!

The foregoing hypocrisy comes from council leader and criminal shelter in chief in an articled posed on James Cleverly’s blog. James has said this website is well out of order. Probably better to abolish Bexley than abolish democracy which is where O’Neill’s brand of Conservatism seems to be leading the borough.

 

22 April (Part 3) - Phone parking; the huge success continues - Click any image for photo gallery (3 images)

Townley Road, SaturdayTownley Road, SundayBluewaterTownley Road, yesterday; absolutely no one wants to park with councillor Peter Craske’s phone system, not even the blue badge holders honour him with their presence. Precisely 24 hours later, Sunday, Townley Road is a popular place to park again within a minute’s walk of all the central shops.

How much is Craske costing local businesses and Bexley’s taxpayers? Answers on a postcard please to Bexley council.

Also pictured, the Bluewater Shopping Centre, 15 minutes by car, technology free parking.

Earlier Townley Road report.

 

22 April (Part 2) - Cooking up trouble

Say no to the EUOn 26th May last year the EU launched another of its regular attacks on trade and commerce. This time it was attacking e-commerce and its particular target was website cookies. A website can operate without cookies but its functionality will be severely  restricted. No shopping site could possibly operate without them. The EU is insisting that users be allowed to opt out of the use of cookies. The new law is so difficult to comply with that the UK government allowed a year’s grace during which it would not prosecute non-compliant websites but from the end of next month web masters face the prospect of half million pound fines.

Although we are close to the deadline few sites show any sign of complying probably because compliance is so technically complex and the few commercially available tools that might achieve compliance are so expensive. The Information Commissioners’ site features such a system and their opt in system has reportedly cut recorded web visits by 90%.  bt.com has a different system which whilst very easy to use and clever is yet to be ruled fully compliant.

This site uses a cookie to store your preferred blog text size and another one to count page hits. It does not use any sort of tracking cookie which is the EU’s principal bugbear but that doesn’t mean Bonkers is exempt from the law. I have placed a warning at the foot of each page and until a simple solution becomes available I shall be hoping that the Information Commissioner does not regard Bonkers as top priority for their attention.

Bexley council’s website is a technical mess and I am constantly amazed that so many links appear to do nothing even on my (please excuse the bragging) 80 megabit fibre connection. There is certainly no sign of compliance with the EU Privacy Directive. If Bexley does not modify its site by 26th May 2012 they will be in breach of the law again. I for one will do absolutely nothing about that, the EU is a far more malign influence on my life than Bexley council could ever dream of.

 

22 April (Part 1) - A timeline of recent criminal activities associated with Bexley council

Readers entering the site via the Home page late last night will have seen the new one which lists all the dates and activities relevant to Olly Cromwell’s predicament and Bexley council’s involvement in the posting of obscenities about residents.

The missing ‘large photos’ and plans of the Harrow Inn Knee Hill site have been belatedly added to the entry for 18th April.

 

21 April - Bellegrove Road resurfaced - Click image for Photo Diary Week 14 (5 images)

Bellegrove RoadThe next installment of the Photo Diary is available to view. Week 15.

There is unlikely to be another blog entry today but a new Home page will appear at some time during the weekend, designed to help new visitors and journalists etc. understand the chronology of Bexley council's attempts to criminalise bloggers and conceal its own criminal acts.

 

20 April (Part 4) - https://twitter.com/#!/MPSBexley

Borough Commander Victor Olisa’s first Tweet in BexleyNot the most inspiring start; who is going to tell him?

New borough commander’s Tweet session commencing !6:45 today. This Tweet timed at 16:48. I am not a Twitter follower myself, far too dangerous and probably take more time than I have.

 

20 April (Part 3) - Gone but not forgotten

Lesnes Abbey Conservatives website amendedIt seems that the criminal loving council leader O’Neill was a bit slow off the mark getting on to Davey & Co. about their website comments in support of Elwyn Bryant’s petition; but the first bit of honesty to be seen on a Conservative website for many a long year has now been consigned to the Recycle Bin. Next time you want to make your views known chaps and chapess, just sign Elwyn’s petition, 2,222 would have been a nice number to have. See original announcement.

As I have this big empty space going to waste may I mention http://www.met.police.uk/askmetboss which allows you to pose questions and listen to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. I don’t suppose for a moment that he will entertain questions on corrupt councils, but you never know.

Did you see the new police commander featured in the Bexley Times? What does he mean by “I asked to be given a borough commander’s post, Bexley will be a good place to start”. Doesn’t look like he has any commitment to the borough and is planning his next career move already. Just as we were getting used to Dave Stringer and thinking he may not have been so bad after all we get someone who thinks it is newsworthy that he “aims to keep crime levels low”. No flies on him then; he knows what a copper is supposed to do. Enough to get you fast tracked to Chief Superintendent rank in today’s Met. God help us.

 

20 April (Part 2) - London Borough of Bexley. Members’ Code of Conduct

Councillors' code of practice
Following the council leader’s shameful display on Wednesday evening when she contrived to send a number of residents home disappointed, and at least one in a state of bewilderment and shock, a number of contacts have suggested that she should be reminded of the council’s code of practice. Happy to oblige. Click image for PDF document.

 

20 April (Part 1) - Council meeting Round 2. Seconds out

After the farce which was Question Time at Wednesday’s council meeting it was time, appropriately enough, for motions. The always reliable: to be utterly ridiculous that is, councillor Philip Read had come up with a pathetic motion of no value whatsoever to any Bexley resident. He proposed a debate to put on record that “Bexley council recognises and appreciates the value that Boris Johnson the present Mayor of London has brought to the Borough of Bexley and outer London generally in the past four years”. Just the sort of nonsense you’d expect from someone who registered bexley-is-bonkers.com and did nothing with it, and who maliciously and wrongly reported Olly Cromwell to the police for breaking his bail conditions.

The opposition party argued that such a motion put forward during the ‘election purdah’ period was legally wrong. They were overruled. The debate began and pandemonium soon broke out, I’m not absolutely sure who was shouting what. Councillor Alex Sawyer went into one of his machine gun delivery speeches given far too quickly for an amateur note taker to keep up; and didn’t stop for fifteen minutes. Literally fifteen minutes’ worth of non-stop pro-Johnson and anti-Livingstone propaganda. Undoubtedly a bravura performance of which his wife, Ms. Priti Patel MP, would be proud. Probably she wrote it.

Sandra BauerLivingstone had “been to Havana more often than Havering” and Johnson had promised another Thames tunnel from Greenwich to faraway Silvertown and to plant 20,000 trees. I began to doze off to the sound of the constant drone but recall a reference to North Korea and the response from the public gallery to the 20,000 trees comment. Someone thought that 63 trees was all we needed. It takes a certain amount of talent to write a speech like that and even more to deliver it with panache. Alex Sawyer could well be going somewhere; and I rather wish he would. To somewhere where verbal diarrhoea is appreciated. It may be clever, it may even be impressive, but what use is it except to amuse the small minds that surround him?

Our celebrity councillors, Sandra dog poo Bauer and Melvin can I paint your house Seymour sat quietly through Sawyer’s non-stop twittering probably wondering where all the crap being spouted was likely to be posted and whether it was a threat to family life. But like so many words delivered in a hurry, if ignored they will be forgotten as quickly as they are uttered. They appear here on-line but you can be pretty sure that they won’t make the News Shopper and get shoved through anyone’s letterbox

Twitter on twitWhen Sawyer was eventually made to sit down councillor Gareth Bacon launched his own personal appreciation of the great Boris Johnson’s achievements. He is not an orator in the Sawyer mould but we learned that Boris had single-handedly ‘Oysterised’ the suburban railway lines, provided free travel for 40% of journeys on the buses and best of all, free travel for himself as a GLA member. Oh no, that comment came from both the public gallery and the opposition more or less simultaneously. Councillor Bacon said he was taxed on it so it wasn’t free travel. Wasn’t it Bacon who argued that transport staff shouldn’t travel free?

The opposition decided they didn’t like Philip Read’s motion and who can blame them? So they came up with one even sillier. “Bexley council recognises and appreciates the value that Ken Livingstone the former Mayor of London brought to the London Borough of Bexley and outer London generally from 2000-2008”. Am I missing something or is that four years late?

Ken had introduced the congestion charge and the Overground system. He reduced bus fares and the Prime Minister wants him to be Mayor again - or at least doesn’t want Johnson. Now we have sky high fares and a 1 to 6 Zone Season Ticket costs only a whisker less than one which would cover the whole of Switzerland, according to councillor Borella. Everyone would be another £500 worse off if Johnson became Mayor again.

When councillor Malik rose to his feet he was almost immediately slapped down by Mayor Sams, as is the tradition, for opening his mouth. “Councillor Sawyer spent 15 minutes talking about Bojo”, said councillor Malik, “I am going to talk about Livingstone and Credit Card Clement”. I always thought that the initials CCC stood for the Central Criminal Court where the Bexley fraudster finished his political career. That’s a good one Malik, far more memorable than anything Alex Sawyer came out with. May I use it again? Did Clement ever pay back the money that council leader Teresa O’Neill allowed him to run off with in Bexley; the last I heard he didn’t?

Saint Livingstone had put CCTV on every bus and made the biggest transport investment in London since World War II apparently. A pity that Bexley saw none of it. An even bigger pity that Johnson supports a criminal shelterer. How can anyone vote for a man like that? Oh that reminds me…

Teresa and BojoDuring the debate, councillor Malik I think it was, had a little dig at those Bexley Conservative councillors who would personally profit from Boris Johnson’s election campaign and even more from his election. A shot aimed at Katie Perrior and her public relations company no doubt. However councillor Teresa O’Neill rose to the bait and said she had many times been offered a job in the Mayor’s office but had selflessly turned them all down preferring to be queen bee in Bexley. Similarly she wasn’t going to run to Bojo’s side after the election either. That’s a shame, if the police eventually get to feel her collar for perverting the course of justice or the Local Government Ombudsman drop on her like a ton of bricks, it would be so much more entertaining to read it in The Times rather than in The Bexley Times.

The debate ended in the customary vote entirely along party lines. There is no need to tell you which motion won.

After that the leader was due to make her Report to the Council. To be honest I had heard about as much as I could take from Foghorn Fanny in one evening and left the chamber; as did about half the remaining observers. I have however been sent a report on what went on later so a return to the subject cannot be entirely ruled out.

 

19 April (Part 4) - A couple of legal links

What Olly Cromwell’s legal team are saying. Aletta Shaw - Solicitors. Jon Coffey chambers.

If Olly has whetted an academic appetite about the use of the ‘C’ word on the net you may wish to click here, but not while at work or in front of the children, P L E A S E.

 

19 April (Part 3) - The rudest man in Bexley. Prime material for the next joke Mayor?

Councillor Alan DowningSix months ago I floated the idea that Alan Downing might be the rudest Bexley councillor for his behaviour in the Civic Offices at the time, then a few weeks ago he amply confirmed the suggestion was firmly on track. As Crime and Disorder Committee Chairman he told a deaf man that his deafness was his problem and councillor Peter Craske didn’t have to turn his microphone on (so that the loop system could pick it up). This was skating on very thin ice as far as the law is concerned, and councillor Craske, to his credit, instantly recognised that and flicked his microphone switch. Downing went into lecturing pen jabbing mode instead.

A complaint went in against the council and their reply is now available. Clearly, Mr. Nick Hollier, Deputy Director Human Resources & Corporate Support knows when the council is in the wrong and he sent out a letter of apology which includes the following text and which the recipient is more that happy to accept is the end of the matter - at least so far as the council as a legal entity is concerned.

 
Letter from Bexley councilIt will be interesting to see how Bexley’s Standards Committee will deal with councillor Downing. They have recently been gloating that there is no realistic appeal procedure against its decisions now that the Standards Board for England has gone. But if Bexley council wants to ruin its reputation still further, it knows what to do.

 

19 April (Part 2) - Award winning wild life garden. Owner to be prosecuted by Bexley council

In some ways Olly Cromwell and Mrs. Rita Grootendorst are very similar sorts of people in very similar situations. Both come from the awkward squad that won’t be quelled by some bureaucrat with a clip-board or a jumped up councillor. They stand their ground. Olly, you may remember, first did so by admitting, after he had done so unobserved, to filming a council meeting. He had no idea it was not welcomed by Bexley council, after all, it was less than two weeks after the Communities Secretary said such things were part of a modern society. It pre-dated Bexley’s Constitutional rearrangements which outlawed the practice.

Council goonsMrs. G. has an unconventional secluded garden and a fence that mysteriously migrates across her boundary. She uses her car port as a storage area, it’s not exactly tidy but no one is required to peer into it to check. She currently has the builders in and things are probably a bit chaotic in there now. Bexley council has decided to strike. They have issued a formal notice under Section 215 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990. They intend to criminalise her and her autistic husband.

Bexley’s Deputy Director (Development, Housing & Community Safety) David Bryce-Smith, the same Bryce-Smith that left a resident flooded over last Christmas, has reiterated his intention to prosecute. He has sent a six point multi-paragraph letter of which the following is a small extract from point 1.

To help anyone wishing to look into the recent history of this case I have provided a little Index page.

Car port Skip and gate Section 215 notice

You can see the untidy car port in the photo above along with the door that shields it from prying eyes. The structure has been there for 16 years. An anonymous caller told me that Bexley council is working on an ASBO for Mrs. Grootendorst now. The claim is that she swore at someone. In her position, most people would.

 

19 April (Part 1) - Good game! Good game!

Well not really unless you believe that Bexley’s council chamber is some sort of arena where you should watch a friend and protector of criminals (think Ian Clement and the obscene blogger) stand and subvert democracy before an audience of Bexley residents; something between a dozen and sixteen of them depending on which of those in the gallery might in reality be Bexley council employees.

Mayor Ray SamsThe quarterly council meeting is the only opportunity 220,000 residents have to question a cabinet member directly and the council generously allows a whole 15 minutes for the charade.

Last night, after we heard mayor Sams lie to us that no one could use any form of recording device because he was anxious “to protect members of the public” (Quick! Close down the CCTV system!) we were due to hear Danny Hackett ask, “Does the leader agree with councillors Davey and Eleanor Hurt and the cabinet member for Education [John Fuller]” who said on their website that O’Neill’s beloved Will Tuckley and others are paid too much and don’t do a lot. Then Elwyn Bryant was due to hear if the leader would consider amending Standing Order 84 so that it couldn’t be misapplied by the smug rule abusing magistrate, councillor Don Massey. Finally a Ms. Allen from Erith was expecting to hear councillor Peter Catterall say what impact use of the Europa Gym might have on local residents during the Olympics.

If a resident’s question is deemed to include more than one enquiry it is rejected under the rules. It is important to ensure that a written question contains only one ‘How’ or only one ‘Why’ and only one question mark or it will be ruled invalid. It’s happened to me, it is one of Bexley council’s ruses to get out of answering questions and for this meeting Bexley council had decided to answer first a question from Mr. Watson of Sidcup who wanted to know what had been done to try to collect Bexley’s £18 million of unpaid Council and Business Tax.

 

There being no Conservative placeman present to pose a time wasting congratulatory question, council leader and expert criminal shelterer O’Neill hauled her considerable self to her feet and embarked on a course first perfected by councillor Peter Craske; the filibuster. But Craske is a mere amateur, no one tramples all over democracy better than Boris Johnson’s most admired local politician, the despicable Teresa Jude O’Neill. She delivered not an answer to Mr. Watson but a lecture more appropriate to council accounts office staff about to sit an exam to gain a professional qualification on how sanctions might be applied and exactly how a rate defaulter can be pursued.

O’Neill ran through the sums outstanding for each of the last five years for Bexley’s Business Rates and then did the same for the best and worst (plus Greenwich) of the other London boroughs. She ploughed through the rules that must be applied to the wording of warning letters. She ran through the procedures relating to magistrates, debt recovery companies, bailiffs, earnings attachments, charging orders, bankruptcy and prison sentences. She revealed that Bexley trailed in 15th place (in London) on the list of successful collection boroughs and when the esteemed criminal shelterer had finished with Business Rates she repeated it all in relation to Council Tax. We are down in 15th place on that list too. Although Mr. Watson was only allowed one question, the Controller used the phrase “And (or because) Mr. Watson also asked” at least a dozen times. It did rather spoil an otherwise impeccable, if disgraceful, performance in the art in which she is the supreme dominatrix, quashing the public that elected her. It was instructive to look around the chamber at faces clearly in despair at the leader’s shameful antics and those who couldn’t stop laughing.

Chairman Sams was so mesmerised by the performance that he forgot to look at his stopwatch and it fell to a member of the public to call out that time was up and that O’Neill should sit down and shut up. With time expired we will never be allowed to know what Teresa O’Neill thinks about the three councillors who have broken ranks and begun to believe in Conservative party policy and Ms. Allen of Erith will be able to go back to her community and spread the word on how democracy in Bexley is dead. The rules include a prohibition on questions being repeated even if they have never been answered - or more usually - answered untruthfully.

Ms. Allen will eventually get a written answer to her question which effectively turns public questions into private questions. Danny Hackett has promised to send me his answer so that it can be published here, as well as on his own blog presumably.

Philip ReadFollowing that disgraceful performance it was the councillors’ turn to ask questions. They had posed 23 of them. Not all of them were of the crawling up my leader’s backside variety as posed by the joke councillor Philip Read - he wanted to be told yet again how Bexley has the cheapest parking in London. Councillor Davey wanted to know about the problems caused following the Environment Agency’s decision to lower water levels in the River Cray and the possibility of a solution. Cabinet member Gareth Bacon told him, referring to the poor state of the sluice gates and the obnoxious smell that had floated over the borough; and all the while looking directly at his leader.

Councillor Eileen Pallen gave councillor Peter Craske an opportunity to run through his usual routine of boasting how successful the investment in CCTV has been, so successful in fact that we have now ascended the giddy heights of success and value for money to the point that one arrest is made daily from all that expense and effort - about 80% of whom will walk free. But it gives the little man something to do and gets him into the newspapers now and again so it’s not a total waste of money. Councillor Chris Ball (Labour) suggested it might be better to place cameras at crime black spots rather than where Conservative voters bring pressure to bear. Why has no one spotted that before?

And with that time was up again. I would have liked to have heard Craske’s answer to councillor Brenda Langstead’s question about “metal reclaimers helping themselves to scrap from residents’ drives and front gardens without asking permission to take it”. I have a neighbour who would be interested in that. He ordered a Stannah style stair lift for his disabled wife and the installer put the bits and pieces by the front door while he went inside to make a space for it. When he went back outside he saw the itinerant metal thief driving off with it. The components were retrieved but had been damaged beyond repair by their flight through the air into the truck.

So 21 questions and 21 answers are now lost to the public. The councillors will get answers in due course but you will not. Several members of the public asked to be provided with copies of the answers but the request was refused. You could always take a look at the Agenda and get yourself 21 ready made Freedom of Information requests.

This report is obviously too long already and the meeting has barely started. But in the remainder of it Bexley didn’t get a mention, it was all electioneering on behalf of Boris Johnson. And we pay these clowns nearly a million pounds a year to turn up at quarterly council meetings and make fools of themselves.

More will follow. Chairman Sams runs a farce and I am sure he wants you to know it.

 

18 April (Part 2) - Wilton Road, Abbey Wood. The place needs a shot in the arm - Click any image for photo gallery (5 photos and 3 plans)

Something Bexley council and I can get close to agreement about is that the borough transport infrastructure isn’t up to much. There are three East West railway lines but they all go from London Bridge to Dartford. There are three A roads also going East West and there are numerous meandering bus routes. There is no easy way to get from North to South and the only bus from the Northern boundary of the borough to the extreme South is the 229 which takes a series of East West zig-zags. I used it exactly two weeks ago and it took just over an hour and a half to get to Morrisons in Sidcup - and I live half an hour away from its start point at Morrisons in Thamesmead. Do Morrisons sponsor our only North South bus route? It serves their store in Erith too.

There is no underground railway or tramway or river boat service and our present council campaigned to kill off a proposed river crossing but due to some extensive lobbying we are going to get the carriage sidings for Crossrail. Not the station mind you, the trains will only get as far as Abbey Wood - the bit that is in the borough of Greenwich. When Crossrail passengers finally get to alight there they will be shunted into Wilton Road. If it is raining hard they will have to paddle their way out. The flood opposite the station exit is in Bexley and it has lain unattended for 25 years or more.

Wilton Road is not the most salubrious part of town. In the 25 years I've passed along it most days I have seen it go down hill and older residents say I never saw it at its best. No butcher any more, no greengrocer, no health food shop, no electrical goods supplier. The small hardware shop and pet food supplier and the florist are all long gone. The constant patrols by the traffic taliban and a rather generous provision of disabled parking bays cannot be helping.

Instead we have two taxi offices, two betting shops, a chemist where I have to pay £4.95 for something I can buy for £3.11 in another independent chemists not far away. A decent little card, gift and flower shop, seven (so I am told, I only counted five) hairdressers, three estate agents, too many take-aways to count, must be at least ten, a branch of Martin McColl staffed by friendly young ladies but where the queues are too long and wonder of wonders, a proper Post Office which has always served me well. And a pub I wouldn’t be seen dead in. Or probably would be seen dead in. The first word of advice I was given when moving to Belvedere was “Don’t go in the pubs”.
Knee Hill flats
The other pub, The Harrow Inn, was knocked down three years ago. I blogged about it when a plan for flats there was turned down on noise grounds - and maybe others. That blog showed the ground plan and I thought it was a shame that the area was not going to get a shot in the arm. (Now there’s a phrase that should be used with care in Wilton Road.)

Having located a better drawing of the proposals I’m not so sure, although I understand the final submission had two floors lopped off.

Derelict siteDerelict siteDerelict siteLast week the derelict site was shielded by a plastic fence so I assumed that something is about to happen there at long last. Local enquiries have led me to a story about 16 houses. Bexley’s planning department website failed to guide me to any planning application but it may be there if you have a day to waste checking through it.

The first two photographs were taken last Sunday, the third shows how the site has looked for the past eighteen months. Bexley council was content to let a rat infested derelict site blight the North of the borough. Contrast that to Mrs. Grootendorst’s wild life garden in Sidcup. But then there is no record of the Harrow Inn site owners being Bexley council critics. So that’s all right then.

 

18 April (Part 1) - Paid too much!

Lesnes Abbey ConservativesI hope this isn’t stealing Danny Hackett’s thunder but he has made the most amazing discovery on his local Conservatives’ website and he has a question about it listed on the Agenda of tonight’s council meeting.

Danny is an 18 year old Labour party member. For his cheek he has had to agree to have his (probably his parents’) address published on Bexley council’s website. It is their way of trying to stifle democratic debate in the borough. Having said that, all the Labour members of the Constitutional Committee voted for it as well as the ruling Tories.

Lesnes Abbey Ward is represented by three Conservatives, John Davey who I have always regarded as a bit of a prat - like Olly Cromwell I am pushing boundaries here, the word origins are not far removed from the one that put him before the judge. John Fuller who seems to me to be a decent distance across the boundary of merely being alright. And finally Eleanor Hurt about whom I know nothing except that she was elected by the smallest majority in the borough. Six if I remember correctly.

I wonder if her conversion to the cause extends to her husband, Cabinet member David Hurt?

Congratulations to Danny Hackett. Perhaps he will be a candidate in Lesnes Abbey ward in 2014. I’ve never voted Labour in my life but there is a first time for everything.

Follow Danny on Twitter: @dannyhackett or on his blog at http://dannyhackett.wordpress.com/

 

17 April (Part 3) - Correspondence

I’m behind with it. Stupidly, the mail that arrived first, when the Olly storm first broke is more likely to be unanswered than the stuff that arrived today. But I’ll catch up with it before the end of the week. Fortunately The Truth kept quiet after I made his messages, those that I had kept, available on-line as he asked. I asked for a resend if I’d omitted anything important but I heard nothing. I hope he is happy now.

One of my as yet unanswered emails reminded me that something one of councillor Seymour’s friends was effing and blinding about outside the Court on Friday was suggesting Olly Cromwell is a paedophile. Getting desperate I suppose, and paedophilia isn’t considered very serious by Bexley council. As I said before, they knowingly kept one so charged in his child accessible workplace eighteen months ago.

To reduce the correspondence pressure I switched off the answering machine too, there has been no time to listen to messages. I’ve been answering the phone only when there is nothing better to do. i.e. not often.

A witness to the events referred to by Seymour in his “slammed the door in my face” statement on oath told me what actually happened. You may find it hard to believe, but I have never heard Olly swear or get agitated about anything. Seymour’s statement didn’t ring true. I don’t believe it. The witness’s account makes me even more certain.

Councillor Sandra BauerIn other respects I don’t take great exception to what councillor Seymour did. He was told a story made up by councillor Sandra Bauer - the dog poo bit - and he reacted as many would have done. What is wrong to my mind is that Olly was taken to court initially for things he hadn’t done and no one at Bexley council was honest enough to admit it. Then they used the catch all Section 127 sledgehammer on Olly to get him in whichever way they could. Did the Judge get fed the wrong prosecution statement, full of stuff he never did, deliberately? Who knows?

Until this incident, councillor Melvin Seymour had never come to notice on this website; one of several ‘nobodies’ who turned up at meetings and went away again. He probably came under pressure from on high to make the most of the whole sorry situation. As a result he has had to pay a high personal price whereas the inventor of the doggy poo story is getting off scot free. That is why Seymour’s picture hasn’t appeared here since the court case but the real villain, who wasn’t allowed to be a witness because her story was so flaky, has.

For tomorrow I have two, maybe more but time will be short, ordinary Bexley stories so it is probably goodbye to the Olly curious hordes. It has been nice to have you; see you on 9th May no doubt.

Note 17th August 2012. At an appeal hearing where both Seymour and Bauer were called as witnesses and cross examined it became clear that it was Seymour who had dishonestly exaggerated the content of the Tweet in order to attempt a miscarriage of justice and Bauer had merely sent him a copy and took no part in its embellishment.

 

17 April (Part 2) - The Crown Prosecution Service

There has been a little news this morning about what the CPS may be up to in respect of the police report to them about Bexley council’s obscene blog. I suspect Bexleyheath police keeps Bexley council better informed than they do me but just in case they haven’t been told I shall keep the news under my hat for the moment. All I will say is it is not as good news as everyone outside Bexley council (and let’s be fair, a few inside too) will be wishing for, but neither is it as bad as it could be. So for the time being it remains the case that Bexley council is sheltering a criminal in their midst.

 

17 April (Part 1) - Bexley council is corrupt

Bexley council's obscene blogYesterday’s visitor numbers were down from Sunday’s stratospheric heights but they remained at 10% above Saturday’s which had been an all time record, so while numbers are up I thought I would seize the opportunity to make sure you knew what Bexley council is prepared to see done to me and Olly and others. Please go and read their obscene blog set up in my name by clicking the link at the top of the page and using the password.

Bexley police sprung into immediate action at the mere suggestion that Olly had harassed the council. He was found not guilty not because what he said was found not to be harassment, he was innocent because he hadn’t said what he was accused of at all. In contrast, after Bexley police were told about Bexley council’s obscene blog on 9th June last year they wrote two months later to say nothing could be done about it. (Note the letter is unsigned because Bexley council had told the police I would be violent towards them if I could identify the officers involved.)

Chief Executive Will Tuckley and council leader Teresa O'NeillMany computer literate people will know that the City of London Police channels appropriate enquiries to Google to get information and the obscene blog was hosted on Google servers. It took the intervention of the Under Secretary for Crime and Security to lean on Bexleyheath police before they went to Google. Across the road in the Civic Centre, the council leader got to hear about the blog two days before the police and, coincidence or not, it disappeared immediately. There is no evidence that council leader Teresa O’Neill was interviewed by the police and when I asked the police if she had been I was told it was not in the public interest that they told me.

So Olly goes to court in a huge hurry on evidence that doesn’t exist and Bexley council’s crime against me - and him to a smaller extent - is kicked into the long grass; and now that the police have at long last gone down the Google route and found out who did it the trail has gone cold within the Crown Prosecution Service. If the truth is ever allowed out it could lead to a by-election or two. Teresa O’Neill’s role in this unsavoury affair would be out in the open. Boris Johnson would be embarrassed that his most admired local politician had been exposed at long last. They do not want it to happen. It looks like justice must take second place to political greed and ambition. But Olly is looking at jail for referring to an unnamed Bexley councillor as a tosspot. (Euphism). What is happening in Bexley? Does nobody want to know about corruption on this scale?

None of the above has been picked up by the local press. Why? Is there corruption within the London Borough of Bexley? You bet there is. Whoever came out with that pitchforks and flaming torches comment was probably dead right. They are corrupt from top to bottom and nothing can be done about it apparently.

Google keywordsThe table is a list of the top search items that led to Bexley is Bonkers between midnight and seven o’clock this morning. ‘chris loynes bexley’ is always there, every single day. Why is the former Head of Member Services so popular? Is there a local celebrity with that name I’ve never heard of and the keyword is just a misdirection?

One reason Chris Loynes is famous is that he is the primary link between Bexley council and the obscene blog. His post includes maintaining The Register of Members’ Interests. Most boroughs put theirs on line. Bexley doesn’t. When asked “why not?” the answer was (and this comes from very high up) “They [the councillors] will only lie even more”. So when I wanted to inspect the Register as is my right, my colleague Elwyn Bryant booked an appointment with Mr. Loynes on Tuesday 17th May 2011 and as a result we were in the Civic Centre from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. the following Friday.

Before 9 a.m. next morning malcolmknight.blogspot went on line with details of Elwyn’s and my visit - suitably changed to suit the council’s malicious purpose - deterring critics.

Who did it only top council people (almost certainly) and the police know. Was Mr. Loynes interviewed? Not in the public interest to know. As soon as the storm broke (or should have broken, the only place you can read about it is here), Mr. Loynes went sick. He is still off sick. Stress and mental breakdown apparently. Can’t say I am surprised. Did he do it? Probably not, but he is another council man who probably knows who did. Does Bexley council go out of its way to pervert the course of justice? There cannot be much doubt about that.

 

16 April (Part 7) - You have to laugh don’t you?

Council lies
So Bexley council is lying to the Daily Mail now. When will they ever learn that it is constant lying that has been their undoing? Lying to the electorate, lying to the police, lying to newspapers. When will it stop?

“The council is totally supportive of freedom of expression and political debate.” Funny then that they all but closed down debate at council meetings, banished it totally when 2,219 people signed a petition and just a year ago persuaded the police to send me a warning of arrest for criticising councillors.

A complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed that Bexley council had via Bexleyheath police persuaded the Crown Prosecution Service that a prosecution was possible but a more conscientious policeman discovered in the nick of time that “no offence had been committed”. Didn’t stop the lying council leader and her chief executive trying it on though did it? Teresa O’Neill; Boris Johnson’s most admired local politician. Good God. What planet is he living on?

Upper item: Extract from Daily Mail. Lower item: Extract from police warning to me. Click image to see the warning letter in full.

 

16 April (Part 6) - Bus incident in Abbey Road - Click any image for photo gallery (3 images)

As if Sunday afternoon was not busy enough one of my regular informants called to say that a bus had broken down right opposite one of the traffic islands that Bexley council likes to place opposite bus stops. Abbey Road, Belvedere has a special place in the history of this website because if Bexley hadn’t made it stupidly narrow and then try to bamboozle me by saying it met all the requirements of the experts who publish learned papers on such matters they would probably be free of all the enquiring eyes that currently look into their malpractices. It really was very bad luck that the head of the department that issued that report was a very good friend of mine and he came to take a look for himself. The correspondence went on line. On Bexley council’s own admission Abbey Road wasn’t an accident black spot but thanks to them accidents are quite common now; not that I am convinced that yesterday’s incident was.

Bus  congestion in in Abbey RoadBus and ambulance block Abbey RoadA 469 was stopped at the stop with it's engine cover lifted to indicate it was ‘in distress’ but it hadn’t broken down, there had been some other sort of incident. Someone was being treated by paramedics on board the bus and it is possible that someone fell while alighting or maybe hit by the bus or simply became ill; it seemed rather tasteless to ask when the medics obviously had an urgent job on their hand. However thanks to the road now being barely two-thirds the width it was the traffic congestion became quite interesting at times. Good job it was a Sunday afternoon and it looked as though the injuries were not life threatening.

 

16 April (Part 5) - News Shopper report is on line

Link.

 

16 April (Part 4) - Council meeting Wednesday

Time to get back to the bread and butter stuff. There is a full council meeting scheduled at Bexley’s Civic Offices next Wednesday 18th April 2012. Unlike most it will be held at 20:00 hours because it is preceded by a Civic Awards ceremony.

When I’ve turned up alone armed with notebook and pen I’ve been minded by two bouncers in case I start jabbing it in someone’s face in councillor Alan Downing style. I think I would place money on Bexley council organising a large police presence for Wednesday night with bouncers too.

Please don’t bring cameras or placards because Bexley’s amended Constitution forbids entry with either and don’t disturb the preceding Awards Ceremony, the people attending it don’t deserve that. But other than that it is a public council meeting. Come and see your elected representatives at work. What odds are being given on them cancelling it?

When I get back from the dentist there is more bread and butter stuff to come. A bus incident yesterday in the narrowed Abbey Road, Belvedere.

 

16 April (Part 3) - Setting the record straight

Setting the record straight is a section of Bexley council’s website which issues a counterblast to the media when it has offended Bexley council by reporting something they consider to be wrong. My reports have never been countered there, the closest I got to recognition came from a Bexley cabinet member who said my reporting was more accurate than the News Shopper’s - our largest circulation local newspaper.

One of many messages yesterday told me that digging out the details of Olly Cromwell’s case is difficult. Can’t see the wood for the trees and he has a point. The case has been festering since March last year and each stage has been reported here but it is now lost in hundreds of old blogs. The Site map is not up to job of delving into old blogs.

As a quick and dirty fix I have put a some new links at the top of this page but maybe it is time I pointed readers at the right places to look. Some of the forum discussions are hopelessly wrong on detail. The blogs are better but few are perfect. The summary at Spiderplant land is probably as good as it gets, however it may not adequately cover exactly why Olly found himself facing jail. I shall try to remedy that.

I have been reporting on Bexley council since September 2009 after they told me a blatant lie. I put the correspondence on the web. The site gradually expanded as I gathered similar stories from across the borough and liked to think of myself as a small borough news blog. I was lucky to get 150 unique visitors a day. One of the things I reported was that another blog (not mine, not Olly’s) had said the only thing that Bexley council would understand was descending on their offices with flaming torches and pitchforks. Another report from elsewhere substituted flaming torches for petrol bombs. I reported both. The former, an obvious metaphor, I said I agreed with. The second I thought it advisable to say I did not.

Within days of those blogs, Bexley’s council leader Teresa O’Neill, gave my name and Olly’s to Bexleyheath police and off the report went to the Crown Prosecution Service. The Police Commander was brand new in from Croydon and I am prepared to believe he assumed that council leaders do not lie. He didn’t know Bexley where Police Commanders eat at restaurants funded by fraudulently used Bexley council credit cards. I think he knows better now.

The CPS said there were grounds for prosecution of Olly and myself. Olly had never even referred to the comment let alone uttered it but he and I were to be prosecuted, not the original sources. They have never been spoken to; one I have never been asked to reveal though he was an observer in court last Friday. It was of course a travesty of justice and fortunately DI Marshall of Bexleyheath police spotted it. In subsequent correspondence it was revealed that he reported “no offence was committed’. However he apparently succumbed to pressure and sent both Olly and myself a Harassment Warning, Form 9993. As the police now accept, he did not follow any of the correct procedures. My guess is that he or his superiors were brow-beaten by Bexley council to do something.

Olly should never have got that letter, at the time he had shown up at just one Bexley council meeting and written only the one blog about them. Not a single part of the allegations made against Olly by council leader Teresa O’Neill’s were true. He's not blogged the comments on Bonkers, as alleged, or anywhere else. He was entitled to feel very annoyed but the police refused to listen to him

When he was due to appear in court for the two fateful Tweets, Bexleyheath police put out a press release to say that he had been charged but incorrectly referred to my site not his. As a result, at that first hearing, the court heard only about the Bonkers website. For all the Judge knew You’ve been Cromwelled did not exist.

I demanded and eventually received a genuine and fulsome apology for his error from the current Acting Deputy Borough Commander, Tony Gowen, who issued that erroneous press release. Tony Gowen like every other policeman at Bexleyheath seemed to have no idea that Olly’s website and mine were not one and the same. I have fully accepted Mr. Gowen’s apology but some problems with the police remain. I have correspondence with them that reveals they did not sign letters to me because they were fearful of physical violence on individual officers. Teresa O’Neill must have gone right over the top in her police reports if they believed that.

When Olly first appeared in Court the prosecution had no evidence of his offences ready because they expected him to plead guilty to charges of which he was wholly innocent. The District Judge said they were to come back on 12th December with the offences “particularised”. When the Court reconvened on that date the prosecution still couldn’t find any evidence and the Judge was not best pleased about it. She asked them to be ready by 21st December. They weren’t. There was no evidence because there wasn’t any evidence of either harassment or criminal damage. Technically he wasn’t found not guilty because it was a pre-trial hearing not a trial. The charges were dropped and he was in law innocent of harassment or any other offence relating to posting a picture of an unidentified house.

However the prosecution changed tack. They preferred the ‘grossly offensive’ charge under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. Not, you will note, a charge of incitement to post “actual shit” or identifying a councillors house, because it needs to be repeated, he did not identify it. The charge was one of being grossly offensive and using rude words.

So all the on line chat about Olly being found guilty of encouraging the posting of dog faeces is a little wide of the mark. If it was mainly about that the Judge would have had to decide beyond all reasonable doubt whether he meant the dog variety as made up by councillor Sandra Bauer or the spam variety that I had thought more likely given that it was an internet crime and no postal address was given. I agree that might be an interesting debate but the Court did not debate it because it wasn’t asked to debate it. The question was a much simpler one. Is Tweeting the two four letter words in question an offence that might justify six months inside? Judge Julia Newton has said it is.

Stephen Fry amongst many others think otherwise. Mr. Fry has stuck his neck out and referred to the Judge in the same terms as Olly. It would take a bit of research for readers of his Tweet to find the name of the Judge he is referring to just as it would have taken a fair bit of research to find the name of the councillor Olly was referring to. Stephen Fry has committed a near identical offence to Olly. It is widely reported that Stephen Fry has been voted the cleverest man in the World, or England, or on TV or something. I never really believed it but maybe I should think it out again.

Hands up who thinks Stephen Fry is going to jail.
Daily Telegragh
The Daily Telegraph has a report on the case this morning. Very brief but to the point. Like the Telegraph says; Olly was found guilty of swearing (menacingly?). Nothing else. He wasn’t charged with anything else although due to a Prosecution cock-up the Judge was given the papers relating to the previous charges for which there was no evidence. Oh dear, that means my name will have been included because the police and prosecution service mixed up the two of us.

 

16 April (Part 2) - Going global

Stephen Fry's Tweet Site visitors At one time yesterday I planned to provide a list of web links referring to Bexley council but there are so many of them now that it has become impractical and some include misinformation such as Olly has already been jailed. One or two are hinting at the sort of behaviour that Bexley council will immediately report to the police. I’m not going there.

I shall therefore restrict myself to three images that may sum up the global interest. As predicted, Sunday’s site hits trounced the record breaking Saturday. The third image is too large to display here but shows where in the world Bexley council has come in for scrutiny over the past weekend. The fame of Bexley council and its leader Teresa O’Neill has spread far beyond the borough boundary. Click here for image.

 

16 April (Part 1) - The Truth. Make up your own mind

As promised I have added a page of The Truth’s messages. Unfortunately I believe the correspondence may be incomplete as some messages were read via webmail and I think I may have deleted those, but if The Truth would care to fill in the gaps I will gladly include them.

I may have misread the family connection. When I was confronted by the group outside the court some of them claimed to be friends, others family. The Truth now claims to be neither despite his messages revealing he was part of the group. He appears to be concerned that I removed the temporary text that was unashamedly placed here yesterday circa 6 a.m to entice readers back later. It said I was off to take photographs. Why that is incriminating I do not know but The Truth claims to have a screen shot of it so if he would care to send me a copy I will happily reinstate it here.

 

15 April (Part 8) - You’ve been Cromwelled

I’m a liar, I’ve not gone. I would have done but I noticed Olly has blogged. No rude words, the text is safe to read at work. Maybe that is a first! (But don't look at the captions to the images.)

 

15 April (Part 7) - The Truth must be told

Seymour’s friend, The Truth, is complaining that I am not giving his comments the air time they deserve and has challenged me to publish his views. I have always tried to report truthfully so if someone can provide evidence that I am seriously adrift their comments would be very welcome. A page devoted to The Truth’s emails will appear by breakfast time tomorrow. If you will excuse me I am closing down now, it has been a long day. Thanks for taking the hit counter through the roof.

 

15 April (Part 6) - Menacing

Web visitorsI’m not used to having people send me complaints about this website, it’s strange perhaps but it just never happened - until Friday that is. I have been menacingly advised by councillor Seymour’s friend who writes to me under his pseudonym of The Truth that I should learn when it is wise to keep my mouth shut and that I suffer from Tourette’s Syndrome. Olly Cromwell is legally bound not to broadcast anything detailed about his current tussle with Bexley council and the law and the newspapers are not covering it; I feel I should put out as many facts as I can muster. I’m no friend of Bexley council but I am acutely aware of what they will do if my reports should be untruthful. Fortunately with a council as outlandish as Bexley there is no need to make things up.

I have also been told that I am too old to blog and I should hand over to someone younger who isn’t so “boring, boring, boring”. It’s hard for me to judge when I am being boring and all I can do is go by feedback. Obviously it is depressing to think that someone in Bexley is so uninterested in what his elected representatives do in his name but the unique visitors counter shows a different story. You can see the flat lining all week and the staggering rise on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is always a quiet day but by 3 p.m. today Saturday’s score was well and truly beaten. I think I will continue to be boring for a little while longer. I shall probably send The Truth’s emails to the police as a precaution, we know who he is. You would think that councillor Seymour would want to keep his friends in check. Letting them loose to menace people physically and electronically cannot be very sensible.

Update: Since writing the above I have had two more messages from councillor Seymour’s friend who calls himself The Truth; they get more menacing. Apparently he doesn’t like the image below and using it will likely get me on the same charge as Olly. He's taken a screenshot as evidence. A waste of his time, they are not going anywhere and I don’t suppose Google will remove their copies either, because that is where they came from.

He regards my early morning announcement that I was off to take photographs (since removed as it was just holding text to attract site visitors) as evidence of more harassment and has screen grabbed that too. I was in Glebelands before the world got out of bed this morning but I’m told I will be in court for that too. I went there to be sure I knew what I was talking about rather than rely on information from Olly as any responsible reporter would. As it turned out my photos weren't as good as Google’s but the intention was to show observers where this crime took place and enable them to visualise it better and also to see if the yellow line comments made in court could be justified. I’m glad I went because I saw no clear evidence that they were out of order. Isn’t one allowed to verify facts now before reporting them?

Actually (can I still use that word?) I think my reports on councillor Seymour since Friday have been erring towards the sympathetic. He isn't the first individual to be fed a story and fall for it without any checks and consequently face unpredictable consequences. It may be an uncomfortable place to be but not nearly as uncomfortable as Olly’s.

Definition of Tourette’s from the relevant charity’s website: The key feature is tics, involuntary and uncontrollable sounds and movements. 90 percent of people with TS do not swear uncontrollably.

 

15 April (Part 5) - More about Friday the 13th

Glebelands
Friday 13th April 2012 was not the first day on which I watched a Bexley councillor stand in a witness box and take a Bible in his hand and promise to tell the truth. On the first occasion I saw Bexley council’s deputy leader swear that a cafeteria within the council owned Thames Innovation Centre (TIC) was not open to the public. I was sure it was as it was advertised in the road outside and on the web (and this was subsequently confirmed) but he insisted that was untrue. It may seem like a bit of trivia but it was important to hear the truth because deputy leader Colin Campbell was defending Bexley council’s decision to employ a charged (and subsequently convicted) paedophile as manager of the TIC and allow him access to areas where mothers and children were encouraged to visit by virtue of the services offered at the TIC. Children were able to run around the cafeteria either because their mothers had legitimate business at the TIC or because they had merely popped in for a coffee. I don’t believe that councillor Campbell was happy with the decision of Bexley’s Human Resources Department but he was there to defend the council and he felt compelled to say something under oath which wasn’t true. When the Judge, who admitted to having been employed by Bexley’s Legal Department before taking up her judicial employment, was given the evidence that councillor Campbell was mistaken she refused to accept it.

In the picture above, councillor Seymour’s house is on the left and Olly’s is hidden behind the foreground tree. On the satellite view it is the block in the top left corner. Councillor Seymour’s front door is right opposite Olly’s. You can see how Olly, playing with his new camera, might take the fateful picture because it was the easiest subject around.

No yellow linesCouncillor Seymour said under oath that Olly had slammed the door in his face when Olly as a newly moved in neighbour was advised by him where he could safely park without receiving a penalty notice. There is no way of knowing if Olly slammed the door or not but he said he didn’t and slamming the door for no reason sounds implausible but it did help do the required damage in the Judge’s mind. Seymour said he was warning Olly of double yellow lines but there are none in their little cul-de-sac but the patch outside his house may have been relevant to his comment.

Something that concerns me about Friday is that the Judge was given an unedited version of the charges against Olly because no other was available. The prosecutor read an edited version from the original but no edited copy actually existed and he gave the original to the Judge to read over lunch. And why should they be edited you may ask. Because the charges were those prepared from the original false allegations that included flaming torches, pitchforks, petrol bombs and Olly writing on Bonkers. All of that was untrue; made up and distorted stories by Bexley council aimed at getting both Olly and me in trouble. The prosecution could find no evidence for any of those allegations which is what you might expect since they were all false and Olly was found not guilty last December. All the nonsense invented by Bexley council was put before the new Judge as fact. Worrying.

Banner photos from Google Street View and Google Earth.

 

15 April (Part 4) - Coded message

To the anonymous contact who wrote under a pseudonym beginning with N and made reference to a well known acronym. I am aware that there can be two sides to stories and what you say has not gone unnoticed which is why it is not often mentioned here. My priority is reporting Bexley council’s activities. If they don’t show their hand there is no story as far as I am concerned. I cannot publish anonymous information but I may be willing to listen.

 

15 April (Part 3) - Welling Corridor Photo Diary - Click image for Photo Diary Week 14 (2 images)

Road still closedAnother four day week, not a lot done, only two photos, but Sherwood Road is open at last.

 

15 April (Part 2) - Bexley council - a newcomer’s guide

Olly Cromwell and a lot of other people, including myself obviously, have come to believe that Bexley council is by far the most corrupt in London. I feel those who are interested in what led to Olly’s arrest and the prosecution that was lined up for me should be given a quick resumé of what has been going on under Conservative rule in this corner of South East London. Olly was not in court for Tweeting the ‘C’ word, he was in court for exposing Bexley council for what they are; the ‘C’ word is just a convenient hook to hang him on.

• Bexley’s former council leader, Ian Clement was selected by London Mayor Boris Johnson to be his Deputy four years ago. He was given a 12 week suspended prison sentence for misusing his GLA credit card to the tune of two hundred odd pounds and he was brought to book because of the complaints made by someone on the team of six that runs this website. However enquiries revealed that he had taken Bexley council via the same trick to the tune of £2,200. Bexley council identified all the abuse, sent an internal email saying how it was to be hidden from the auditor and refused to report it to the police. The woman responsible for all that is Bexley’s current leader councillor Teresa Jude O’Neill, the local politician Boris admires most according to an FOI response from the Mayor’s office when he appointed her his ambassador to Outer London. The likelihood is she is being groomed for high office at the GLA; remember that if you are tempted to vote for Boris next month. Do you really want someone who covers up crime to be given any more power? It’s not a one off; here’s another crime she would prefer to cover up…

• In May 2011 someone at Bexley council set up a blogspot in my name. It accused Olly and me and others of indulging in homosexual practices, some in the Civic Centre, others in a council car park. To give her her due, the website was removed an hour or so after it was brought to leader O’Neill’s attention, but she refuses to say anything about it and to this day the culprit remains free. An FOI seeking information was deemed not in the public interest. A Subject Access Request has never been answered even after pressure from the Information Commissioner.

• Bexley council’s slogan is ‘Listening to you, working for you’ but when presented with a petition signed by 2,219 residents it ruled it out of order for quoting figures in the introductory comments to the petition. It said they were wrong and misleading. The introduction was an extract from Bexley council’s website. The decision was upheld by the Scrutiny Committee chaired by Bexley magistrate, councillor Donald Massey. All Conservatives voting to ignore the petition, both Labour members disagreeing.

• Bexley council doesn’t like being questioned. It generally fails to answer FOIs and excludes as many as possible by costing them at more than twice the government’s guidance level, thus excluding as many as possible on cost grounds. In a further attempt to prevent questions it allows only one hour per year for questions at council meetings and then attempts to fill the available time with questions from Conservative placemen. Any member of the public asking a question must agree to have his name and address published on the council’s website. It was the introduction of this rule that led to this website listing all councillors’ addresses which were already in the public domain but not easy to find. It was this tit for tat which led to Bexley council publishing its obscene blog about me and to Olly being accused of publishing addresses. It was me who was the prime mover in this sin against Bexley council’s secretiveness not Olly and I very much suspect it is me they want to see behind bars, not Olly, but I haven’t yet provided them with the hook. (It probably helps to have so many House of Commons based readers too!)

• When Eric Pickles’ department wrote to all councils in February 2011 telling them “citizen journalists” should be allowed to Tweet and film in council meetings even the most hard line of secretive Conservative councils like Barnet and Westminster caved in. Bexley however changed its Constitution to exclude all forms of recording at meetings. All their Agendas repeat the prohibition and when questioned they say it is to protect members of the public from appearing on tape. They sheepishly offer the excuse that permission may be granted on request but not a single request has been approved, not even for an audio only recording at a meeting where the public is not allowed to speak.

• Another thing that should not have been laid at Olly’s door was the assertion that both he and I had advocated marching on the Civic Offices with flaming torches and pitchforks. The original comment was made by a leading light in the local Neighbourhood Watch movement. I linked to his comment, I do not believe Olly did. No one has said a word to the Neighbourhood Watch man but Bexley council had the local police send an unjustified complaint about it to the Crown Prosecution Service who made a recommendation that I should be prosecuted. It is only due to the diligence of DI Keith Marshall of Bexleyheath Police that I was not prosecuted. In the words of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, “no crime had been committed”. Bexley’s leader Teresa O’Neill and her Chief Executive Will Tuckley were personally responsible (thanks to the Information Commissioner for that) for the attempt to pervert the course of justice. The Local Government Ombudsman is currently looking into their little conspiracy.

• Bexley council complains that Olly and I have stated that there has been too cosy a relationship between the police and Bexley council. That false evidence about the flaming torches went from Bexley council to the police and came back from the CPS with a recommendation to prosecute in just three weeks. Bexley council’s obscene blog which was easy to investigate because of the trail left through Google went nowhere for six months and was pronounced dead in fewer than three. It was only resurrected because two MPs, Teresa Pearce for Erith & Thamesmead and James Brokenshire representing Old Bexley & Sidcup were embarrassed by events on their patch and brought pressure to bear; James Brokenshire being potentially hamstrung by the fact that Bexley councillors will be on his selection committee come the next general election. Not all politicians are bent.

This has probably gone on long enough, perhaps we can have a Round 2 before long, but the above examples of what Bexley council is prepared to do to citizens who hold them to account may illustrate why they are so keen to shut Olly up for the trivial offence of swearing on Twitter.

I’ll add some links to the above later but there is a life outside Bonkers to get on with.

 

15 April (Part 1) - Olly Cromwell and Bexley’s corrupt council

Contrary to what I said yesterday there should be some more Olly related news later today. Please excuse me for an hour or two while I go to collect the evidence.

Wow! Nearly 7,000 new visitors in just two days. You have to admire Bexley council for one thing, they are expert at shooting themselves in the foot.

 

14 April (Part 3) - Olly Cromwell. Looking back, looking forward

The web may not have been alive with Tweets when I returned from court this time yesterday but it sure is now. The thing that is causing most concern is that it is now illegal to refer to someone as a certain rude word because it is grossly offensive. We all know what the word is but I am going to substitute the word ‘tosspot’ to remind everyone that that is how a certain Bexley councillor has admitted to referring to me on the net. Now that the judge has said that the mere act of sending the offensive word into cyberspace - read or not - is an offence against Section 127 presumably I can now nip in to see my friendly neighbourhood bobby any time I want with the evidence that one of councillor Seymour’s close mates typed “malcolm knight bonkers bexley tosspot” and pressed the Enter key 21 times?

District Judge Julia Newton agreed that it doesn’t matter whether the recipient is offended or not, or read the message or not, the crime is sending the offensive message on its way. It seems a silly law to me but what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. I might just take advantage of it if only to prove that Bexley councillors get more favourable treatment than plebs.

I’ve been thinking about Olly’s Tweet from Seymour’s point of view. Remember he is like me a Twitter ignoramus and the first he knew of it was the tittle-tattling Bauer giving him a call. “Hi Melvin, do you know what that scumbag Cromwell has done? He has put your house on the web, called you a tosspot and is encouraging people to put dog mess through your letter box”.

What would I have done if I got such a call? Probably nothing because I know it will take an hour to get through to the police on the phone and they will kick it into the long grass. If that is what happens (initially at least) when Bexley council commits far worse crimes against me what hope is there of getting them to take the word tosspot seriously? But I’m not a councillor and have no special relationship with Arnsberg Way.

So Seymour, perhaps not unreasonably, toddles off to the cop shop. I’m not a mind reader so I don’t know whether he is seriously worried about being called a tosspot and he really is living in fear despite a small army of friends of the foul mouthed knuckle head variety, or whether he sees it as a good opportunity to have Olly banged up. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt at this stage.

Sandra BauerNow let’s look at things from councillor Sandra Bauer’s point of view. During yesterday’s court hearing the defence took the line that Olly’s Tweets could only be found through diligent searching; the police had had difficulty finding them. Had Sandra Bauer gone out of her way to search out Olly’s on-line comments? “No” said the prosecutor, she was used to looking at Olly’s Tweets; she knew exactly where to look. So she would also know exactly what to expect. Everybody and everything in Olly’s on-line world is a tosspot or something more imaginative. It’s not a place for the faint-hearted. You don’t go there without expecting to be amused - if you like that sort of thing - or offended. A regular visitor soon gets to know that tosspot and shit are throwaway words.

My son is just a year older than Olly. When he was young I constantly chided him for sticking the word ‘actual’ in front of everything because that is what kids of the seventies did - when they weren’t calling their mates spastics. It was a different age and fortunately he was cured of both bad habits. Olly is of the generation that prefixed everything with actual just as the following generation used the word ’wicked’ in a back to front way before everything became ‘cool’. Every one of those are to be avoided like the plague as far as I am concerned but I have to accept that the language evolves. Anyway back to Bauer…

She told Seymour that Olly planned on having dog poo put through his letter box. Where did that come from Sandra? How did you know it was dog poo and not some other variety? Rocking Horse’s perhaps. It is hard to get away from thinking that councillor Sandra Bauer knowingly embroidered the facts and I am coming round to the view that her role in this case is far worse then Seymour’s - at least initially. She must have known from the outset that what she told Seymour wasn’t true. He took the dog reference as gospel when Bauer must have known she had made it up. But once Seymour had run off to the cops there was no turning back. Her lie had to remain and find its way right through the Crown Prosecution Service to the District Judge. No wonder it was decided not to call her as a witness, her evidence would surely have collapsed into a stinking heap.

Subsequently of course things became less clear cut. We know from their intemperate outburst that Seymour’s friends believe Olly said "please feel free to go round and post some actual shit". We know that because they wrote to tell me. Where did the actual visit to Seymour’s actual house actually come from? Seymour himself or their own imagination? Whatever the case they firmly believe it and are prepared to shout it loudly in public interspersed with ‘F’ words outside the court in the presence of two policemen. Their distortions of the truth remind me of the old first world war joke that the general telephoned back down the primitive line; “Send three and fourpence, we are going to a dance”.

The problem is now that the Judge has ruled that calling a councillor a tosspot is “grossly offensive” and to compound it by encouraging the delivery of real doggy poo leads to a custodial sentence. The two complainants must know that Olly intended no such thing. That he wanted people to go round to his house as Seymour’s friends have apparently been told is incontrovertibly untrue. Where was the address? And “dog faeces” is also absolutely untrue as well. Only Sandra Bauer mentioned dogs. She may not have realised the full consequences of her lie, I don’t know, but she is a Bexley councillor so it may be wise to assume the worst.

What a mess! We have two councillors, one of whom we all know told a lie because what she saw and what she said she saw are both in the public domain, and the other one presumably added to the story by telling his friends that Olly’s plan was to go round to Seymour’s house to deliver the crap. It never happened and he lived right opposite Seymour. Why was that do you think? Too lazy or it wasn’t what he said?

I may be seen as moving towards the centre of the fence but in my view only a damn fool joins Twitter in the totally screwed-up UK where typing 140 hasty characters with your thumb and pressing Enter can land you in jail. The law is undoubtedly an ass more often than not, but that is the way it is. But I’m not really swapping sides. To type what I think about Sandra Bauer who has not got the guts to own up that she was untruthful and misled councillor Seymour when a man’s freedom is at stake might land me in jail too. Seymour was clearly out to get Olly when in the witness box yesterday but I can understand that he may have believed he had a legitimate reason to go to the police. I can’t see any reason for replying “yes” to some of the questions he faced yesterday though. But he’s a Bexley councillor, he can say what he likes.

The lies about Olly tend to convince me that once the Local Government Ombudsman has ruled about those Bexley council have told about me I really should follow in Seymour’s foot steps and toddle off to Arnsberg Way myself.

Grandad in France 1914I am hoping that this will be the last about Olly’s case you will read here until the next legal moves which may or may not be the sentencing on 9th May. There are lots of opinions and facts on other websites. Having been closely involved in Olly’s case from the outset and been referred to the CPS because of Bexley council’s lies myself, I know that some of the facts out there are not facts at all. Only Olly and I have been present at every court hearing to date yet those who have been to none are writing essays based solely on our reports. It would appear that the first world war joke of “Send reinforcements we are going to advance” is just as relevant today as when my grandfather stuck his head over the trench top on the Somme almost 100 years ago.

Note. “Tosspot” is used as a euphemism for Olly’s favourite word as it may be slightly more acceptable to Bexley councillors. It is after all known to be the one by which one refers to me.
Arnsberg Way. The address of Bexleyheath police station.


Note 17th August 2012. At an appeal hearing where both Seymour and Bauer were called as witnesses and cross examined it became clear that it was Seymour who had dishonestly exaggerated the content of the Tweet in order to attempt a miscarriage of justice and Bauer had merely sent him a copy and took no part in its embellishment.

 

14 April (Part 2) - Long Lane bus stop - click for photo gallery (3 images)

Long Lane bus stopLong Lane bus stopAnother of last week’s emails was a thank you from someone pleased to see the idiocy that is Long Lane highlighted. I was planning on getting back for a better look at the bus stop anyway but the email was an added incentive.

The revisions have made crossing the road more dangerous - no central refuge - impossible for anything but the smallest of cars to park legally. Caused additional traffic delays due to the changed pedestrian crossing and the problems that arise from the queue for W.J. King’s petrol station, especially when a bus has stopped - the central queue of traffic in the second photograph is waiting for fuel - and bus drivers who must judge very precisely where it is safe to stop.

I am told that the Co-op delivery lorries have lost their parking space but not being familiar with the area I cannot vouch for that.

What has the scheme achieved? Possibly more parking fine revenue, more money for F.M. Conway and a boost to Frizoni’s ego having spoiled another area of town and got away with it.

 

14 April (Part 1) - Relaying good surfaces?

Townley RoadIt’s hard to be precise but something between one in 500 and one in 1,000 people who visit this site use the Contact page. The most common grouse is unnecessary fiddling with the road network. Earlier this week I was tipped off that Townley Road was about to be resurfaced when there was nothing visibly wrong with it. With so much going on in recent days I didn’t get out with my camera until this morning. Sure enough the carriageway nearest the Central Library and the whole of the corner that is immediately behind the camera position was nice and new. I have no way of telling if the surface looked good before but there is no reason to suspect my informant was mistaken. However I am going to give Bexley council the benefit of the doubt on this one.

The northern section of Townley Road has in recent years been changed from a cull-de-sac where the disabled and elderly could be dropped off right outside the Shopping Mall to a bus only area with routes that had previously bypassed it diverted there every few minutes.

When I was a kid and lived close to a major bus station I used to watch the road surface migrate where several buses each minute would turn sharply to enter. It took only a few months for a flat road to become a ten inch high curved ridge under the pressure of the turning wheels. The road was constantly being repaired. Maybe Townley Road was showing signs of the same thing.

 

13 April (Part 3) - Olly - An alternative view

For a view from the other side you may wish to see the following anonymous comments from one of councillor Seymour’s friends. He takes issue with me for believing that “post actual shit” must be a reference to electronic communication as to send the real stuff would require an address and Olly didn’t give one. He and anyone else is free to believe I am naive or wrong. For the record the Notomob people did not, except one of them momentarily, wear one of their masks in my presence or their motorcycling helmets. There were at most eight of them outside the court and they did not find it necessary to jab fingers in anyone’s faces.


My name is the Truth. Someone you have no connection to as the truth and yourself are completely at odds. Do you really believe that people are naive enough to swallow your bullshit account of what this idiot actually meant by "please feel free to go round and post some actual shit"? bearing in mind this was after he had posted a picture of the very house in question. You cannot see the woods from the trees as you are so consumed with your own pitiful self importance. As for you keep referring to being accosted and surrounded by thugs i noticed you failed to mention the fact that you and your supporters present, some with masks on their heads, outnumbered these so-called thugs by at least 3 to 1. Once again you and the truth are at odds. But I suppose in reality you cant tell the truth because if you did you would look like the deluded Buffoon that you really are!


My anonymous critic, you will note, finds it necessary to expand Olly's comment to “please feel free to go round and post some actual shit”. If Olly had said “go round and post shit” it would have been a very different case indeed. Olly would have no doubt found himself alone. Why do Bexley council supporters always have to go around making things up?

 

13 April (Part 2) - Olly Cromwell’s prosecution - the facts

Because of the amazing amount of interest being shown in Olly’s court hearing - the website is currently under the strain of 30 odd visitors at any one time - I shall take the unusual step of writing it direct to the web so you will see the report as it is written and get to know what went on at the earliest possible moment. Expect an amount of spelling errors along the way so please come back for another look later.

The hearing was listed for 10:00 in Bexley Court 3. Even by 9:45 I counted 31 people who were keen to sit in the public gallery. They included some Notomob members, a few unknowns who had turned up because they had read about the case here, a couple of journalists - and me, all keen to be first in. And therein lay a problem, Court 3 has only seven seats for the public and one was being occupied by a court official. This gave rise to suggestions that it was all part of a conspiracy to ensure justice would not be seen to be done; however this can probably be discounted as the court staff went out of their way to be helpful and found another eight chairs and squeezed them into odd corners. Obviously Olly’s wife, mother and brother and Jim Palmer from the News Shopper had to be allowed in so about two thirds of the concerned members of the public had to forego their right to see the wheels of justice turning. It was slightly amusing to see the two Bexleyheath policeman who had raided Olly’s house at dawn fail to get a seat. They may have been DS Alastair Venner and PC Dwyer but I cannot be certain of that.

Councillors Melvin Seymour and Sandra Bauer arrived a little before ten and disappeared into a back room. Ms. Bauer was not seen again. I’m not sure whether she is a malicious mischief maker or naive and totally out of her depth. Was her transformation of “post actual shit” into put dog mess through letter boxes sweet innocence or another example of Bexley councillors habitual lying? It is of little consequence either way, she was just the messenger - but she won’t be allowed to forget it.

No other councillors turned up in support of councillor Melvin Seymour. I have no doubt that today’s case is not solely at Seymour’s bidding and several of Bexley’s bully boys are behind it but it wasn’t especially obvious today except that Seymour, his prosecution lawyer and the Judge all kept referring to him as councillor and that councillors are due respect and an entitlement to a private life. Only councillors? Why are they so important?

The seating kerfuffle and the usual court delays meant that the hearing under District Judge Julia Newton didn’t start until 11:15. She went to great lengths to assure everyone that she wasn’t best mates with any Bexley councillor. I tried to obtain the names of all the principal participants but the prosecutor refused to give his. Jim Palmer from the News Shopper was similarly rebuffed but being a professional he found a way of getting it another way. Maybe it will appear in his report.

The prosecutor read out the charge and no one flinched from the use of the ‘C’ word. He said that Olly had been “grossly offensive”. The defence barrister said that the use of the word “was not of such a nature as to fall foul of the act”. The prosecutor said he wanted a restraining order to be placed on Olly even if he was acquitted.

The defence barrister said it was not good enough for councillor Seymour to say he was offended, the Law Lords had pronounced on what was offensive back in 2007. She said it had been ruled that someone who had posted pictures of aborted foetuses directly to the account of a pro-abortion campaigner did just breach the act but an unidentified picture of a rather nondescript house did not. In another case the Lords ruled that addressing someone in an aggressive manner including the use of the words Nigger and Paki was in breach of that Act but, the defence said, Olly calling no one in particular a c**t did not. The defence contended that Melvin Seymour should not be called as a witness because he was not a witness - he had never seen the Tweet - and some might argue that being unnamed by Olly it was hard to see him as a victim either. In the first sign of things to come, the Judge disagreed.

(Oh, make that more than 50 simultaneous viewers. My web space provider is going to ask for more money!)

Councillor Seymour was then called. It was still only 11:25. He swore on the Bible to tell the truth and immediately tried to cast Olly in the worst possible light. Those who know Olly outside his on-line persona know that he is unfailingly polite and I have never heard a swear word pass his lips. Seymour said that when Olly first moved into his street he knocked on Olly’s door to advise him of some newly changed parking restrictions and had the door slammed in his face. I find that hard to believe and Olly told me later it simply wasn’t true. Seymour went on about Olly’s alleged misbehaviour at council meetings but fortunately the Judge shut him up.

Seymour then related how Olly had planned to put dog mess through his letter box. Under questioning he admitted that he had not seen any of the original Tweets and was relying on hearsay from Sandra Bauer. The Judge for some unfathomable reason was prepared to accept hearsay evidence. Seymour went on to say how he felt intimidated by the prospect of doggy mess through his door. It may be worth pointing out that Seymour is a tall well built bloke with, as already stated, a gang of ugly brutes for friends.

He said that Olly had identified his house when of course a major plank of Olly’s defence is that he did not. Seymour was asked again to confirm that Olly had identified him by address and under oath he repeated his claim. In fact it was this website which first (no second, it was on Bexley council’s site first) provided Seymour’s address having obtained it from the Public Record of Members’ Interests and for doing so was rewarded with far worse obscenities and character assassination than Olly has ever dreamed of.

The prosecution then read out a transcript of Olly’s police interview given after they had persuaded him he didn’t need a lawyer. In it Olly agreed he “pushed boundaries” and maybe his Tweet had over-reached it. The prosecution then regurgitated a load of old stories relating to harassment, seemingly oblivious of the fact that Olly had already been found not guilty on that charge. When he had finished, the defence barrister said all of that was irrelevant and suggested to the Judge that there was no case to answer as the ‘C’ word is no longer grossly offensive and the Tweet could not be menacing because it was not aimed at any individual that could be readily identified. The only people who knew whose house had been pictured were those who were already familiar with it.

She said that the prosecution must produce evidence of intent to menace and they had not. There had, she said, never before been a prosecution under Section 127 of the Act that did not involve sending messages to particular and individually selected recipients. Olly’s case was far removed from that. She said for Olly to be guilty he would have needed to go “beyond the pale of what is tolerable in our society”. The defence said “if the use of four letter words is acceptable we are in a sorry state”. Given that the word is heard on TV and frequently in films it seemed a pretty pathetic argument but the Judge was evidently persuaded by it. She said there was a case to answer.

It was accepted by both sides that Olly is a man of previous good character, no convictions or warnings of any sort whatsoever and the case was adjourned for 75 minutes to reconvene at 13:45. In the event it didn’t restart until 14:08.

Some members of the public present in the morning had gone home allowing the two policemen in and the four thugs who menaced and abused me later on. The Judge made the point, which had not gone unmentioned before, that in the aforesaid Law Lords ruling it was said that it wasn’t necessary for an offensive message to be received for it to be potentially illegal, the act of sending it was enough, so the fact that Seymour hadn’t been aware of it was irrelevant and she proceeded to find Olly guilty. She refused the defence request to sentence there and then but demanded that a Probation Service representative be summoned to arrange pre-sentence reports with a hearing set for Bromley Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 9th May at 13:30. A custodial sentence was predicted by some present, the prosecution having previously called for six months. They said they would be applying for costs against Olly “which would be considerable”.

It may be worth mentioning that I feel that the many Twitter posts saying how it is now illegal to call someone a c**t on the net are missing half the point. It apparently is, even if the object of that epithet is not identified; that's the “grossly offensive” bit. But the case also hinges on the meaning of the words, “post actual shit”. I had always assumed that that was something to do with filling mail boxes with spam, but apparently, when it suits them, some people are literalists and regard it as menacing. The Judge has ruled that the literalists are right and Olly is guilty on both counts.

I know Olly wishes to thank everyone who offered support today and I expect he would have been especially pleased with the messages that came from some unexpected quarters.

While I was being accosted outside by Seymour’s thuggish finger jabbing friends (Seymour and his wife had the good sense to walk on by in a dignified manner) the two policeman who charged Olly walked by and ignored my predicament. I didn’t feel in any particular danger under the watchful eye of a CCTV camera, passers by and half a dozen Notomobbers close by, but the police did not know that. Bexley’s finest, what else should I expect?

With the exception of the possible addition of photographs this blog is considered to be complete at 20:45 hours.

 

13 April (Part 1) - It’s official, asking a rhetorical question and including the ‘C’ word is a crime

I had assumed that by the time I got home from Bexley Magistrates’ Court, Twitter would be alive with the news that Olly Cromwell was found guilty under Section 127 of the Telecommunications Act 2003 of Tweeting a grossly offensive and menacing comment; but it appears not. As soon as time permits I shall provide a formal report on the proceedings and then another on possible consequences.

The District Judge allowed bail and referred Olly to Bromley Court for sentencing and pre-sentence reports. The view of those more used to court proceedings than I am said this was a likely precursor to a custodial sentence. However Olly's barrister has stepped in and demanded an appeal hearing as soon as possible. This I understand will happen and will be at Woolwich Crown Court.

I left the scene just before 3 p.m. as Olly was taken away by his barrister for another meeting. She was clearly as shocked by the verdict as everyone else - except, that is, for a bunch of four or five thugs who surrounded me shouting much the same obscenities used by Olly, jabbing their fingers towards my face and demanding why I was supporting someone who advocated posting dog faeces through letter boxes. I tried to explain no one would support such behaviour but that Olly had done no such thing. “Actual shit” is unfortunately the modern vernacular for all sorts of rubbish. However these people were not intelligent people with any degree of debating skill. Their modus-operandi was limited to an amazing frequency of ‘F’ words and threatening gestures. I asked who they were and they said they were councillor Melvin Seymour’s friends. You know a man by the company he keeps.

 

12 April (Part 3) - Bexley council. How deep does the corruption run?

On 8th March 2011 this pair of public servants descended on Bexleyheath police station and told their friends there a number of things none of which were entirely true and some being outright lies. One lie led to the blogger known as Olly Cromwell being issued with a Form 9993 - the infamous harassment warning - for criticising councillors by “placing blogs on the Bexley is Bonkers Website”. Utter drivel born of fear of accountability mixed with their customary incompetence.

Will Tuckley and Teresa O'Neill
Olly ignored the stop blogging aspect of the letter because it was asking him to desist from something he had not done nor had any intention of doing. The police responded, without any legal authority that can be established, by closing Olly’s website. He moved it off-shore.

Bexley councillors reacted by making up another story to present to Bexleyheath police. They told them that Olly had revealed where councillor Melvin Seymour lived and had put his children and grandchildren at risk. This was totally untrue. Olly Tweeted a picture of a house with no address or name attached and asked in his own inimitable style the question you see below. It is an extract from councillor Seymour’s statement to the police. The comment about dog faeces is the product of the over active imagination of another of Bexley’s conniving councillors. Sandra Bauer.

Councillors Seymour and BauerThis false statement was enough to land Olly Cromwell in court, but the prosecution unsurprisingly could produce no evidence to support the charges for the very simple reason that what Chief Executive Will Tuckley, council leader Teresa O’Neill, and councillors Seymour and Bauer said was all basically untrue and made up for no other reason than to silence Olly. It is Bexley council’s specialty. Lies are what they do.


Philip ReadFollowing Olly’s acquittal on false charges one evil little man tried his luck again. Councillor Philip Read reported Olly to the police for breaking his bail conditions. Bexleyheath’s ever obedient police force slung him in jail for 24 hours before he was rescued by his barrister and a District Judge. Olly had not breached his bail conditions.

So what else will they try in their ridiculous effort to stop criticism in its tracks? They are going to try to get Olly for using the four letter word. Quite a chunk of the country’s population will be quaking in their boots if that becomes a crime. Olly has revealed that the prosecution will be seeking 45 days in jail for each letter of that word and his case comes up tomorrow, Friday 13th April 2012. Bexley Magistrates’ Court has more than its fair share of Bexley council people. We are about to see how deep corruption runs through this town - or hopefully that it will be forced into retreat.

There is unlikely to be a blog until at least mid-day tomorrow. The case is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Note 17th August 2012. At an appeal hearing where both Seymour and Bauer were called as witnesses and cross examined it became clear that it was Seymour who had dishonestly exaggerated the content of the Tweet in order to attempt a miscarriage of justice and Bauer had merely sent him a copy and took no part in its embellishment.

 

12 April (Part 2) - Long Lane. Short buses - Click any image for photo gallery (7 images)

Long LaneLong LaneI mentioned the Long Lane situation on the Notomob forum yesterday and said I planned to get more photos of the bus stop. One of their members kindly saved me the trouble. It looks very stupid even by Bexley’s standards.

When I started this website by criticising the changes made to Abbey Road, Belvedere, I obtained the opinion of the Senior Safety Consultant at the Transport Research Laboratory. One of the things I remember from that conversation is “forcing vehicles into the path of oncoming traffic is a recipe for accidents”. Obvious enough I would have thought but not to Bexley council. All over town they produce obstacle courses designed to do that very thing.

Long Lane is a priceless gem of a cock-up. It will require bus drivers to be more careful than many usually are to get two doors to align with the available footway. And as for Boris Johnson’s three door monster - don’t even think about it.

 

12 April (Part 1) - Bexley Cabs

Bexley CabsWhen the new Bexley taxi office was announced a nearby mini-cab office said it was illegal to not use the prefix mini and that planning permission was essential before a carriage licence could be issued. Doubt was thrown on the latter by the carriage office so a check was made with Transport for London. Here is their reply…


I can confirm you are correct in saying the use of the word ‘cab’ or ‘cabs’ is not permitted and does contravene the s.31 1998 Private Hire Act. Any business advertising a cab service whilst holding a PHV Operator Licence will be required to remove any reference to such service immediately. Use of such a word, for instance, ‘cab, ‘cabs’, ‘taxi’ ‘taxis’ or any other word that can be mistaken for it would not be approved by this office.

In regard to your second point I can confirm there has been a recent change in licensing requirements for applicants and operators. One change is that an applicant is now required to provide evidence with all applications that planning permission is in place at the premises applied for.

Essentially, this business is required to show either…
1) Planning Permission has already been granted
2) Planning permission has been applied for
3) A Certificate of Lawfulness is in place or applied for or
4) a letter from the Local Authority confirming the premises does not require planning permission.


So now we know. The original use of ‘Cabs’ was wrong and it will be necessary to persuade Bexley council that planning permission should be given.

 

11 April (Part 2) - Are they all in it together?

This may be one for the conspiracy theorists but I cannot help thinking that some recent events may be linked. Elwyn Bryant’s call to his MP’s office revealed that they too thought the long delay by the Crown Prosecution Service considering the case of Bexley council’s obscene blogger is a funny one. Obviously they can’t say some sort of cover-up is being engineered but you and I might think it. Mr. Brokenshire is to make suitable enquiries.

Then there is the transfer of our most senior policeman from what he has often said is the most law abiding borough in London to an inner London hell hole (†). He’s only been here a year so his influence on Bexley has been minimal, it’s not a case of a proven track record of crime busting being transferred to where it is needed most; it looks more like a punishment. But for what? Initially turning a blind eye to a criminal council or allowing the mess that is Olly Cromwell’s prosecution to be developed under his nose by dishonest councillors? Olly has hinted that his legal team have some surprises in store for people who bring malicious prosecutions; I can only guess what they may be.

My complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman that councillor leader Teresa O’Neill and Chief Executive Will Tuckley made false allegations to the police in an effort to have both Olly and myself locked up seems to be progressing well. I have already sent in evidence provided after intervention by the Information Commissioner that I think makes their false allegations plain for all to see and the LGO has now asked more about what the Independent Police Complaints Commission had to say.

IPCC letterDI Marshall came to the conclusion that no offence had taken place yet the very same report from O’Neill and Tuckley was used in the first prosecution of Olly Cromwell.

I am not convinced that the LGO is truly independent so I will not be counting any chickens, but they have been given documents that show O’Neill and Tuckley were not interested in the truth when they went to the police, their interest was prevention of scrutiny. If the LGO rules against them I shall be thinking along the same lines as Olly’s legal team. Criminals, whether working for councils or not, should have their collars felt.

If the pair of them succeed in giving Olly a criminal record on Friday a bit of me is inclined to name which of Bexley’s Conservative councillors was responsible for the "tosspot" comments. Or is that stooping to their level?

† Oh dear. Within a couple of hours of posting this I got an email from a resident of Tower Hamlets.

 

11 April (Part 1) - Public Cabinet

In several ways last night’s meeting was entirely predictable. Speeches pre-prepared, insufficient copies of the Agenda for the eight members of the public present, two beefy bouncers hired at great expense, and all over in 42 minutes. In other ways it wasn’t.

The Agenda has always been printed on high grade paper, last night’s was verging on the cheap and nasty; probably a good thing. I threw a nearly two foot tall pile of Agendas into my nearest communal bin last weekend. There must have been £15’s worth of paper there, let alone the laser toner. One councillor offered some sort of greeting as I entered the building. I’m not sure what was said, maybe Ms. Perrior didn’t want any of her colleagues to hear, but I’m sure it was intended to be friendly. However the biggest change was that someone had overhauled the sound system. Every word was crystal clear, far better than I’ve ever heard before. Perhaps Alan Downing’s allies who cheered his attempt to ridicule and belittle a deaf man for his disability have had time to reflect on their stupidity.

The subject of the meeting was Education, in particular the ‘Education Change Programme’ which is Bexley’s plan to get things back up to standard. I say back up because it was clear things have been none too good recently. Director of Education Mark Chambers (£167,343 p.a.) spoke on the subject for four minutes, it might have been three if he had cut out the umms and errs, and I wasn’t much wiser afterwards but fortunately the Cabinet Member for Education, councillor John Fuller, is a man who seems to know his subject.

He said that too many of Bexley’s schools are “satisfactory” - which I learned at earlier meetings is government code for ‘not really good enough’ - and more are “inadequate” and “below floor target”. We learned that neighbouring boroughs are better and something must be done about it. Councillor Fuller was not short of ideas.

I was shocked by two references, once from John Fuller and again from councillor Gareth Bacon, to head teachers who refuse to coach pupils for the 11+ examination. (For out of town readers I should explain that Bexley has retained several grammar schools.) I used to regard head teachers as a bunch of Old Trots, probably because I knew one who was a paid up member of the Communist Party and took all her holidays in Moscow, and I have regarded all teachers with great suspicion ever since. My prejudices were reinforced.

It was revealed that whilst many Bexley Heads were enthusiastically embracing the new ideas, and Bromley council had bought into some of them, a few Heads continued to offer resistance, but “the pendulum was swinging”. I might prefer an axe.

No more than a couple of minutes were devoted to ‘School Admission Arrangements’. The Agenda revealed that the council is compelled to consult on their proposals. They did, it doesn’t say with whom, but no one replied. That was convenient wasn’t it?

The only comment on the subject of admissions was councillor Fuller’s reference to the problems arising from the rapidly rising numbers entering primary schools. An unfortunate slip of the tongue caused him to refer to “admissions blighted by more children”, momentarily forgetting that Ms. Perrior sitting next to him is about to present the world with another little blighter quite soon.

Nobody mentioned failing Academies having to be bailed out with interest free loans.

 

10 April - Not been Ollied yet

Before I get any more enquiries as to why things have been quiet I had better say, and the answer is simple, there hasn’t been anything worth reporting and the holiday is an opportunity to catch up with other work. I did have someone’s report on how Bexley may be drawing a veil over some financial business but it didn’t make for light holiday reading. Another time maybe.

There was a suggestion that I should announce when I was going to attend a council meeting beforehand, rather than just write a report afterwards. I’m not keen on that, I rather like keeping Bexley in the dark not knowing whether to hire their team of bouncers or not. In any event the calendar of meetings is available from the Bonkers main menu under Links, Council and it’s the third one on the list. If you check you will see there is a Cabinet Meeting tonight. I will go. Everything will have been discussed and settled beforehand so it won’t last long. I suspect that if nobody went they would call their well rehearsed spectacle off and go home even earlier.

Does anyone need a reminder that Olly Cromwell’s trial for being a persistent critic of Bexley council is scheduled for 10 a.m. next Friday 13th April? At Bexley Magistrates Court. Not Bromley or Greenwich as it has variously been scheduled in the past.

 

7 April (Part 2) - Not an April Fool

Bexleyheath Broadway. Google Street ViewThanks to Notomob for their suggestion that I check out the eighteen inches of double yellow line on Google Streetview. As you can see, our legs were not being pulled, except perhaps by some joker in Bexley’s Civic Offices.

A couple of years ago councillor Peter Craske claimed that he spent £36,000 a year on repainting lines within Controlled Parking Zones. It proved to be a made up figure and in one recent year he spent nothing. Looks like the same is true outside CPZs too.

 

7 April (Part 1) - Welling Corridor Photo Diary - Click image for Photo Diary Week 13

Road still closed
Click the picture for this week’s photos. Only a four day week of course and the chaos goes on.

 

6 April (Part 3) - Whatever are they thinking?

Bexley's so called certificateLast October a couple of the leaders of Notomob met Bexley’s parking manager Tina Brooks. They were not impressed and she didn’t like being shown what proper certification for CCTV cars looked like. She didn’t like the suggestion that she should apply for a certificate either as it would, as she freely admitted, confirm they hadn’t got one. Bexley council would like you to think otherwise but the Notomob people recorded their conversation so we know it is all true.

None of that stopped Bexley council burying its head in the sand and screwball councillors like John Davey telling everyone things were absolutely Hunkey Dory because someone had told him it was so.

Covered CCTVCovered CCTVThings have been quiet recently; a couple of readers reported seeing CCTV cars going around town with the cameras covered up without knowing why. There was a suspicion that they were being used as staff taxis and not for enforcement, a thought somewhat encouraged by the fact that NSL staff refused to talk about it. I wondered whether Bexley was at last applying for a certificate. Then a few days ago Bexley did something it promised to do six months ago, it put the details of its certification on the web. Except of course they didn’t really.

What they have put up is a list of the equipment in use and a link to a letter dated 2009 which refers only to the car which carries it. There is also an assurance that everything is in order because they have won some cases with the Adjudicator. They do not mention that none have been won when Notomob were representing the appellants and presented the right evidence.

I reported Bexley council’s latest claims to Nigel Wise who has beaten Richmond and Westminster councils at this game and after he stopped laughing he made some comments on Notomob’s forum.

Bexley’s certificate. A proper certificate. (PDF files)

 

6 April (Part 2) - Joined up thinking

Water saving. Water wasting
Yesterday, the 5th of April, a hosepipe ban was imposed. On the left is an image taken from Thames Water’s website. On the right, and with impeccable timing, is Bexley council’s contribution to water saving. Encouraging the washing of nappies.

 

6 April (Part 1) - Joined at the hip

Teresa and BorisEric Pickles the Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire, MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, Jonathan Rooks the Green Party’s GLA candidate and Ken Livingston the would-be London Mayor, all agree with 2,219 Bexley residents that the subject of senior salary levels in Bexley should be debated. So what does Boris Johnson think?

If you guess his office have no wish to show dissent from his favoured lady’s dishonest abuse of Standing Order 84 you would be dead right. “The Council has made the decision that it would be inappropriate and unconstitutional to discuss individual salaries and circumstances in a public meeting. This is a local decision for the Council to make. It would not be appropriate for him to comment on this matter”.

Those carefully chosen words do not quite manage to support Bexley council. Boris does not endorse the abuse of Standing Order 84 to prevent acceptance of Elwyn Bryant’s petition but merely notes it. Elwyn has been persuaded that the very obvious misuse of a Standing Order is something that should be reported to the Local Government Ombudsman and he will no doubt be making his complaint very soon.

My computer is restored to service. Thank you to the Bonkers reader who reminded me to take a back up image when I last had a problem with it at the end of February. My only loss was some emails. I was a week out of date with the backups.

 

5 April - We wish him well…

Chief Superintendent Dave StringerPrevious blogs have alluded to the absence of Deputy Police Commander Darren Williams by mentioning that Tony Gowen is holding the post on a temporary basis; now it has been announced that Commander Stringer himself is off to pastures new (Tower Hamlets) and who can blame him. His replacement from 16th April will be Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa.

Working with a council which includes a criminal blogger cannot be a load of fun especially as it involves sitting alongside them at meetings when the police know exactly who they have reported to the Crown Prosecution Service, even if we don’t yet; speaking of which…

Elwyn Bryant’s MP, James Brokenshire, asked him to get back to him if he had not heard anything more by yesterday - so he did.

I still think the most likely explanation for the delay is as stated last month, a ‘large lady running around asking her friends in high places how to go about persuading the Crown Prosecution it isn’t in the public interest’.

Still struggling with a text editor pending delivery of new hard drive.

 

4 April - A cork might be the answer - Click any image for photo gallery (2 images)

Water leakWater leakTomorrow a hosepipe ban will be introduced with threats of £1,000 fines. And what has wasting water got to do with Bexley council you might ask. Not very much I would have thought but the Water Council doesn’t agree.

The pipe shown has been leaking since August 2010, maybe longer. That’s right, getting on for two years. It was first reported to Thames Water in September 2010 and at approximately three month intervals since then. They take copious notes but do nothing.

A couple of months ago the leak was reported to OFWAT who didn't want to know but the Water Council was a bit more sympathetic; they said that they would speak to Thames Water but added the warning “You know what they are like”. Sadly everyone does.

When they returned the call they said that all the leak reports were on record but Thames Water claimed to be able to do nothing because the leak was on private property and couldn’t be seen from the road. Where do you think I was standing when I took the photographs?

As you can see, the water has damaged the wall and maybe it has damaged the foundations too. On the plus side, probably it is keeping neighbouring gardens nicely damp during the drought.

The only thing that can be done about this leak, according to the Water Council, is to report it to Bexley council’s Environmental Health Department. I can imagine what they might say and in any case they are fully occupied persecuting Mrs. Grootendorst.

My own solution would be a cork up the offending overflow pipe.

The occupiers of the house rent it and say there is nothing they can do about it. Ten minutes with a new washer is all that is needed.

Update: The leak which has existed for 20 months was fixed on 13th April. Coincidence? Who knows? But it is done and that is what matters.

This blog (written in notepad. Ugh!) due to a failed hard drive and with no access to source material, use of a scanner etc., no significant new entries can appear before it is replaced.

 

3 April (Part 3) - Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible

After using my computer all afternoon while working on a ‘big story’ it refused to start this evening because it has suffered a total failure of the boot disc. A new disc will not be delivered until Thursday and it will quite likely be Saturday before everything is installed and running as it should again.

Short announcements are not impossible but typing code directly on to the webserver from a ten year old laptop is not my idea of fun.

Email received up until about 5 p.m. this evening and unanswered will have to remain that way. Email sent later is safe and will be answered - but not immediately!

 

3 April (Part 2) - Bexley council. Vindictive, spiteful, criminal - Click any image for photo gallery (9 images)

Mrs. Grootendorst's gardenMrs. Grootendorst's gardenMrs. Grootendorst's gardenLast weekend someone asked for more details of what Bexley council is intent on doing to Mr. & Mrs. Grootendorst down in Sidcup so I thought you might like to see some more photos.

What the council is doing is plain enough; they are trying to make the Grootendorst’s lives a misery and creating enormous legal bills by claiming their garden is untidy and causes a loss of amenity to their neighbours. Why they are doing it is harder to fathom.

Mrs. G. is a long term complainer about Bexley council which I know from my own experience the council thinks is criminal activity. Mrs. G. believes it is something even more sinister and that one of her neighbours has a very close link with certain councillors; she says that her local threesome refuse to talk to her and she singles out the Beckwiths for special mention. It’s hard to tell from a distance whether she is justified in her suspicions or not.


Another local gardenAnother local gardenCouncil goonsOne thing that is obvious is that the Grootendorsts are on the receiving end of special treatment. Just a couple of minutes walk from their home you can see a really derelict garden, but no one does anything about that.

And who else do you know getting special attention from the top people from Environmental Health (John Waring) and the council’s solicitor Guy Atkins? It’s victimisation on the grand scale!


Building materialsBuilding materialsThe most recent development is that the council claims to be getting complaints from Mrs. G’s neighbour alleging that the building development work is causing a nuisance; building work usually does, however Bexley council is seizing their opportunity to persecute the Grootendorsts again. They have told them they intend to descend on them en-masse once more to see if she is committing another imaginary offence. The more one hears about this case the more one is inclined to believe Mrs. Grootendorst’s story that someone somewhere is able to pull Bexley council’s string.

Photos of building materials stored in the front garden and under the car port. Nothing much out of the ordinary there.

 

3 April (Part 1) - April Fool?

BroadwayI was sent this photo on Sunday 1st April. I’m still trying to check out whether it is a Photoshopped April Fool or not. In the Broadway opposite ASDA apparently.

 

2 April (Part 2) - Another Frizoni Folly - click any image for photo gallery (8 images)

Long LaneLong LaneLong LaneLook what Bexley council has been spending your money on; a rearrangement of Long Lane. The central refuge has been removed from the zebra crossing forcing pedestrians into a longer unprotected walk and traffic in both directions to stop at the zebra crossing instead of just one. It is not yet clear where the bus stops will be sited but it is only too apparent what has been done to the parking spaces. They have been made noticeably narrower so that it is not only 4x4s that won't fit within the white lines.

It’s another accident waiting to happen; whoops it seems it already has. There are skid marks on the newly painted crossing and a keep left sign is looking rather sorry for itself. See photo gallery.

 

2 April (Part 1) - What Localism Bill?

Fat Controller and Fatter ControllerSome of Bexley council’s constant cock-ups and self-serving fiddles may eventually be forgotten, the roundabouts that buses cannot get around, the councillors who disappear but remain on the payroll and residents put to unnecessary expense because of the spiteful nature of individual councillors, but others are likely to live on for ever as monuments to their dishonesty, criminality and lack of any semblance of democratic rule.

Among these are the fraudulent activities of its former leader, the new restrictive Constitution introduced in response to the Secretary of State’s wish for fewer restrictions, the two separate imprisonments of a blogger, both on false charges which a District Judge had to throw out. A harassment letter issued for reasons which were entirely false, the obscenities Bexley council allowed to be posted to the web and recently the refusal to accept a petition signed by 2,219 residents.

The latter provides new insights into the depths of dishonesty to which Bexley council is on intimate terms. Councillor and magistrate Don Massey abused a Standing Order which allows a meeting to be interrupted to not allow a meeting at all proving that even magistrates are prepared to countenance dishonesty to please their political mistresses and Elwyn Bryant who organised the petition is still trying to get council leader Teresa O’Neill to see reason. He wrote to her and included the following…


Bexley Council’s Petitions Scheme states that if 2,000 signatures are presented a public debate can take place at a full public Council meeting. You should use all your influence to rescind the rejection of the Petition to allow the people of this Borough to have their say in public. This is the democratic thing to do.

The recently passed Localism Bill puts great emphasis on transparency and power to local people and you should also consider the fact that the Secretary of State for Local Government, Eric Pickles, has repeatedly condemned the excessive level of salaries in Local Government. He said “The gravy train of local Government must stop now”. The slogan of Bexley Council is, ‘Listening to you, working for you’. So let’s see this put into action.


And what do you think the Controller said to that? The short version is “Go away”.

 

1 April (Part 2) - Public Realm Committee meeting, 29th March

I arrived 20 minutes early which gave time to read through the main points of the Agenda and sat in solitary splendour throughout the meeting because I was the only member of the public there. The evening began well enough, the two bouncers hired to look after me smiled benignly when I acknowledged them on the way in; the eye-catching Ceri Elliott-Yates murmured a greeting as she took her seat as official minute writer, and councillor Howard Marriner (Conservative, Barnehurst) introduced himself and shook me warmly by the hand. But peace and civility did not last very long.

Cheryl BaconChairman Cheryl Bacon opened the meeting at 19:33 and by 19:36 it was in full scale blazing row mode. Councillor Munir Malik had objected to the minutes of the last meeting recording his personal interest in The Co-Operative Group. He said he mentioned that only in passing when the subject of supermarkets came up and as the subject itself had been too trivial to include in the minutes it was not right to record his declaration of an interest. Technically correct perhaps but Cheryl was having none of it delivering one of the Conservative’s traditional put downs of councillor Malik. Hence the immediate outbreak of hostilities. There were claims by Malik of “infatuation” [with his shareholding], shouts of “let me finish” and finally a threat of legal action. All puerile stuff over the recording of a fact which nobody was disputing. Councillor Malik said he owned only one share and it had no pecuniary value.

June SlaughterCouncillor Colin Tandy said “It is fair to say I couldn’t care less about the Co-Op but having declared an interest you can’t undeclare it”. I think he probably summed things up pretty well. The addition of “Don’t declare interests if you don’t want them recorded” would appear to be a more dubious suggestion. Straight out of the Mike Slaughter book of dirty tricks by the sound of it.

There followed a discussion of which borough shopping centre was in the worst state with council officer Julia Webb saying it was undoubtedly Sidcup and referring to a survey her staff had conducted. Apparently you can’t even buy a pair of shoes in Sidcup. Conservatives agreed but councillor Malik begged to differ adding that Sidcup is “relatively affluent”. He suggested that the Mayor is spending money there to buy votes. Chairman Bacon became noticeably agitated at the suggestion that a politician might spend money to improve his chances of election.

Councillor June Slaughter said she was “delighted” that Mayor Boris Johnson was lavishing money on Sidcup and contrasted him with his predecessor “who didn’t know where Sidcup was”. She wanted to know what effect the widening of footpaths was going to have on parking spaces but no one knew.

Munir MalikBiffa BaileyCouncillor Malik asked if he could see Julia Webb’s survey which favoured Sidcup but was slapped down with a “No” from the Chairman. He was not happy. Councillor ‘Biffa’ Bailey rose from her seat in finger wagging mode to admonish him. “Be quiet, you are rude” she said and went on to accuse him of being “absolutely barmy” and “beyond belief”. Maybe someone should present Biffa with a mirror.

Councillor Tandy added his two-penn‘orth without resorting to (too much) personal abuse. He said that Malik was “disingenuous, not something he is unknown for”. He said that “Welling is not in decline” and “Erith has had lots of money spent on it and not much to show for it”. “Sidcup has degenerated and needs money to pull it up again.”

Councillor Craske said about CCTV and crime levels that “Bexley is low [crime levels] because the community wants to keep it that way”. That is what I said months ago when he was praising various public bodies for whipping the population towards total compliance with the law and civilized behaviour. It’s good to note that councillor Craske may have seen the light.

Jane Richardson - she of the exemplary microphone technique - gave some statistics relating to the soon to be demolished Larner Road Estate. No more than eleven homes there are privately owned leading to a poor mix of incomes etc. Her report referred to ‘families’ and councillor Malik wanted to know how that was defined. Mrs. Richardson was unable to answer because the statement came from Orbit Housing Association but she would ask them. Councillor John Waters said it was “remarkable” that more dwellings were to replace the Larner Road tower blocks than are there now. Councillor Brenda Langstead said there were still nearly 7,000 people on the housing waiting list.

Councillor Craske announced that he had that very day decided to have free parking in major car parks over the Easter break. Councillor Malik reminded the meeting that the Christmas Eve concession was funded by council strikers. “Who was financing this one?” Craske said it was him.

Colin TandyThe meeting moved on to discussion of the Olympics and the impact on Bexley. Ms. Richardson anticipated no disruption beyond ten to fifteen minute road closures when the torch comes through on a Sunday. She believed all road works are to be removed from the A2 for the duration of the games.

Councillor Tandy said the council should publicise little known routes around and in and out of the borough. The Sidcup to Woolwich rail loop via Crayford and Slade Green. The DLR from Woolwich Arsenal to central London and Stratford and the Overground from New Cross to the northern borders of the metropolis. I would call him a trains-spotting nerd except that he revealed nothing I didn’t know about already. Councillor Marriner said that there should have been Park & Ride schemes set up just beyond the London borough boundaries but the Chairman said none were planned.

A discussion on parking penalties provided a few interesting statistics from Mike Frizoni (Deputy Director, Public Realm Management). The contractor is required to keep mistakes leading to successful appeals under 50 a month. If it rises above that they incur a penalty of 0·3% of their fee, 0·55% from 101 to 150 errors and beyond that the full amount of each lost penalty charge. Councillor Malik said that no one should forget the cost in time and human suffering that unfair penalties cause or the fact that some people pay for the sake of a quiet life. Probably Frizoni wasn’t listening.

Peter CraskeNews Shopper headlinePay by phone got an airing too. According to councillor Craske the number signed up for it had just reached 8,563. This is about 1,000 a month since the last announcement so we are on course to have all the cars in Bexley registered at some time just within the next 15 years.

Pay by Phone was extended to car parks in November 2011 and to on-street spaces by today. Craske said it would be a choice between phone or cash and then rather spoilt things by saying he would be looking at reducing the number of cash machines.

In order to satisfy local traders who have suffered a 40% loss of trade thanks to Craske, he is trialling at one shop a system which allows customers to pay in the shop or have the shop-keeper pay the fee. How drivers will avoid getting a ticket while they run to and queue in the shop wasn’t explained but at least Craske is showing some concern for the pain he has inflicted. Surprisingly Mr. Frizoni didn’t know if the present system allowed payment at suspended bays.

The meeting ended a little before 22:00 and if I hadn’t attended many meetings before I might have said that the members of this one came close to being sensible and reasonable; only Biffa Bailey seriously let the side down. Even councillor Peter Craske failed to put a foot wrong. Maybe the thought of one of their mates’ names being in front of the Crown Prosecution Service is a salutary lesson that they are supposed to be our servants not domineering tyrants. But don’t be too optimistic, the really nasty pieces of work aren’t members of this particular committee.

 

1 April (Part 1) - Welling Corridor Photo Diary - Click image for Photo Diary Week 12

Traffic signIn case you missed it at the end of last month…

Week 12 of the Photo Diary is available.

 

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