Week 12 of the Photo Diary is available.
doesn’t matter how much Bexley council is criticised, there is nearly
always someone who thinks things could have been taken further.
Guardian article is such a case. I try to limit my time on Bonkers to a
couple of hours around dawn and no more than another hour or so in the early
afternoon and an unplanned extra such as the third entry of 29 March is likely
to be written in a hurry. Out of the blue a reader provided this more extensive
critique of Tuckley’s flight of fancy which I pass on for all to see…
(Tuckley’s comments in oblique text.)
• I was unprepared for the rigid and unhelpful methodology applied [by the Probation Service Inspectors].
You can be absolutely certain of this if they questioned aspects of Bexley council’s strategy and policies! Criticism is never appreciated by Bexley. You [Bonkers] can testify personally to that!
• Proposals being developed by the National Fraud Authority, which will require us to publish an annual report on significant frauds we have discovered. Combating fraud is an essential part of what we do; we regularly prosecute and are proactive in publicising this action as a deterrent.
So long as it does not involve any staff at the Council, eh? Regularly? What is that based on? Where is all of this publication then? Good luck trying to find that on the council’s website!
• Surely if we are the right body to lead the renaissance of public health – and our unique democratic accountability is part of the argument for this – we can be trusted to get on with the job?
Yeah, right. They would never sweep anything under the carpet, or just plain make it up would they? Unique democratic accountability! Tell that to the 2,219 residents who signed the petition questioning the council’s policy around Will’s own salary. Can anybody forget that that was deemed somehow misleading and inappropriate - without a shred of evidence to substantiate the claims! Oh I trust them all right; to just make it up as they go along and expect residents to deferentially accept whatever nonsense is flavour of the month!
• But the future must lie in limiting inspection to the small number of things that really matter to central government, asking teams to focus on results rather than the process.
Don’t you just love his ends justify the means argument. Always popular amongst despots and all those with their own narrow agenda.
• Demonstrating that we can dissect our own services and be more objective than a regulator is a principal plank in the argument. Both of the peer teams that visited Bexley in the past year, looking at services for children and older people, have added considerable value – partly because they have been suitably, sometimes uncomfortably, challenging.
Funny how it was the regulator – or peer teams - being uncomfortably challenging that had the effect on Bexley. So a light touch regulation cannot work, by his own admission, and he knows it!
• In Bexley we developed our own local performance arrangements.
And what a surprise all that they tell anybody is how wonderful the Council is!!
• We have abandoned redundant strategies and reduced the number of partnership bodies.
Seems a funny way to embrace the unique democratic accountability indicated earlier but then this is Bexley council we are talking about and any old tripe will do for Will and his cronies!!!
You just could not make up this sort of rubbish!!! The man is a total nit-wit. Still what can you expect for a mere £200K or so? Pay peanuts and you get monkeys. Or am I getting confused here? Bexley residents pay through the nose and still get a monkey.
Thanks for that; it’s nice to see readers paying attention to what goes on in the dictatorship that is Bexley and can recognise hypocrisy and hog-wash when they see it.
found council snooper John Waring armed with a camera prowling
around her house two days ago. He said he was checking up on her building
extension. Waring is not from Building Control, he is from Environmental Health;
how often does Environmental Health inspect a small residential building extension?
Mrs. G. reports that when she asked if he was on council business, under their instruction, he replied “No, I would not be here in my lunch break if I was”. If that is true it looks like it could be a personal grudge as well as a council vendetta.
In a letter, Bexley council has said it will refuse to discuss the issue any more with the Grootendorsts and that if the building work has caused her garden to be untidy they will proceed with a Section 215 notice next month.
Bexley council is far too keen on persecuting residents and does not seem to care whether the evidence is good or not. I seem to remember council leader Teresa O’Neill and Chief Executive Will Tuckley making false allegations to the police about a year ago. They will stop at nothing to silence critics.
nearest neighbours of note to the
new Bexley Cabs office are Bar Lorca and the
Ex-Servicemen’s Club which along with its car park
lies behind the proposed taxi office. Last night it held its Annual General Meeting.
The Committee reported that there had been three meetings with Mark Campbell and it was understood that planning permission had been formally sought last Wednesday, 28th March. There was considerable concern about the congestion there might be if minicabs were allowed to congregate in the road outside Bar Lorca or in the access road to the Club and it will therefore “oppose the application vigorously”.
A problem for the Ex-Servicemen’s Club is that, contrary to what you might expect, it doesn’t usually stay open late. They foresee the need to put a barrier at the car park entrance to curtail unauthorised out of hours use.
Bexley Cabs is only 50 or 60 yards from the kebab shop Bexley council wanted to close early because one of its customers was murdered.
I retold the story of councillor Alan Downing’s verbal attack on a partially deaf man as best I could having heard it from a distance on the way out of the Civic Centre. Since then I have been sent a note by the man concerned. He says the exchanges went like this…
During the meeting I raised my arm and said to councillor Downing “Excuse me Mr. Chairman, I cannot hear what councillor Craske is saying, could you ask him to turn his microphone on and speak into it please.” Councillor Downing looked at me, ignored my request and allowed councillor Craske to continue speaking without using his microphone.
I then stood up so that councillor Downing could see me and said “Excuse me Mr. Chairman, I don’t want to interrupt the meeting but I cannot hear what councillor Craske is saying, would you please ask him to turn his microphone on”. Councillor Craske shouted at me “Don’t talk over me”.
Councillor Downing then said “If councillor Craske doesn’t want to put his microphone on, it’s up to him. I can hear what he is saying. If you can’t, you must have personal problems. Now sit down and be quiet”.
I then sat down whilst councillor Craske finished addressing the meeting without turning his microphone on.
When councillor Craske later responded to a question from another committee member he turned his microphone on and I was able to hear what he was saying.
After councillor Downing had closed the meeting but before any committee members had left their seats, I stood up and said to councillor Downing “Mr. Chairman, as someone who has been diagnosed with hearing loss and having asked you on two occasions to ask councillor Craske to turn his microphone on because I couldn’t hear what he was saying, I am deeply offended by your public comment that I must have personal problems. I think you owe me a public apology”.
Councillor Downing said “Didn’t you hear what I said, the meeting is over.” He then turned his back on me.
I went over to him and said “I consider both your comments and your conduct to be deeply offensive and I will be making a formal complaint against you for being disrespectful and for discriminating against someone with a physical disability”.
Councillor Downing then said, in a loud voice so that everybody could hear him, “Good, I will look forward to that. Did you hear what I said; I will look forward to that?” He then pointed a pen within inches of my face and said “Don’t you threaten me.”
A number of Conservative councillors then started laughing and jeering.
A formal complaint has been made to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and to Bexley council.
Tuckley writes in The Guardian about how he does not welcome inspection. The
Information Commissioner and Local Government Ombudsman know that already. Few
others will be surprised.
I love the phrase “Combating fraud is an essential part of what we do”. This from a man whose council refused to pass details of their leader’s fraud to the police. One ten times higher than he committed at the GLA which merited a suspended prison sentence.
Link to Tuckley’s newspaper article - or click the image. Link to ‘Don’t tell audit’ email.
I am being asked what comes next in the long running saga of the obscene blog. I don’t know. If patience is not your strong point I can only suggest that you close your eyes and imagine a large lady running around asking her friends in high places how to go about persuading the Crown Prosecution Service to say there is not enough evidence, or it isn’t in the public interest to ruin political careers.
been a while since I last mentioned Mr. & Mrs. Grootendorst’s
wild life garden but that doesn’t mean that Bexley council has been
leaving them alone to enjoy it; far from it.
The Grootendorsts have planning permission to extend their house and work is going on right now; as you can imagine the garden is disrupted and things may be a little messy. It’s just the excuse Bexley council needs and they are on the warpath again. Leading the campaign is John Waring (Environmental Health Department) though it is hard to see what health risks are created by a building extension or for that matter a garden which Mrs. G. cares for almost obsessively. The real reason for the onslaught is because the Grootendorsts and Mrs. Grootendorst in particular have for many years been pains in Bexley’s posterior which will inevitably put the council in full on aggression mode. Persecution and prosecution is their weapon of choice as we have seen recently in the Olly Cromwell case and the false statements made to the police about both him and me.
At the risk of giving Bexley council more ideas, I cannot keep up with the correspondence between Mrs. G. and various Bexley departments, there is just too much of it. Perhaps Mrs. G. needs a website of her own, she would surely never be short of material.
The phone rang last Sunday afternoon and it was the police officer in charge
of the obscene blog investigation. He said the investigation was now completed
and a file had been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service. I didn’t like to tell
him that Chief Superintendent Stringer had told me the same thing ten days
earlier and I thanked the Detective Sergeant very much.
I haven’t asked who is in the frame because they wouldn’t tell me anyway and I have no more idea as to which of Will Tuckley and Teresa O’Neill’s associates is the chief suspect than you have.
When the investigation was prematurely closed down in August last year a Freedom of Information request seeking information was rejected. Not in the public interest to say anything was the official answer. I suspect it was not in the public interest to reveal that the police had done nothing rather than not in the public interest to give any clues about any well known name that might be involved. The pessimist in me suspects the latest developments will take a similar route.
On the other hand if the evidence has come from Google it will surely point at one source without a lot of scope for doubt. At the meeting with the police officers they indicated pretty strongly that they were in a waiting mode at that time. I have heard from numerous sources that all Google based investigations are sent to the City of London police for processing as they have the expertise and links to Google and there is a waiting list for their assistance.
Whatever the CPS decision, it is real progress. Our top policemen now believe they know who published the obscene blog. They are unlikely to look upon Bexley councillors in the same way they did before. They are not only pretty sure they know who did it, they will know who tried to cover it up; who was economical with the truth during their investigations.
Already the top officers are treating Elwyn Bryant and his fellow Bexley Monitoring Group members (and me) in a noticeablly more friendly way. They must have at last realised where the real wrong doers are to be found. At the highest levels within Bexley council.
Indications are that the CPS will make a decision within days rather than weeks and I am sure Olly Cromwell will share in a certain amount of schadenfreude at the thought that somewhere not far away from here someone will be jumping at every knock at the door, and every ring of a phone, fearing that his time has come.
Bexley council: dishonest, incompetent, vindictive. Criminal.
imagine most readers will have realised that several of this month’s revelations
about Bexley council’s dishonesty and criminal activity took place earlier this year
or even before. Recent blogs have crushed the time-line somewhat
and taken some events out of sequence but everything described is absolutely true.
A councillor did knock on my door and council leader Teresa O’Neill and Will Tuckley
knowingly told the police I said certain things with the sole intention of having me
arrested. If they really regarded metaphors as life threatening they would have
named someone else. That point is now well established and following
the IPCC report I think
even the police recognise that now.
There is more news to come but after yesterday’s report of the meeting with Chief Superintendent Stringer I shall leave the criminals “quacking (sic) in their boots” (as one of my informers reported) a little longer. Until tomorrow in fact; it seems like justice after what they are prepared to do to Olly Cromwell. Let the obscene blogger sweat.
I have received quite a lot of advice on what I should do next, Olly’s legal team is considering the options too. I am attracted to pursuing O’Neill and Tuckley for Misconduct in Public Office. The definition of the offence is “A public officer who willfully misconducts himself to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder without reasonable excuse or justification”.
To be successful a prosecution must show “Willful excesses of public authority or malicious exercise of official authority or intentional infliction of bodily harm, imprisonment, or other injury upon a person”.
That seems to sum up O’Neill and Tuckley’s actions perfectly. I wonder if there is any chance of history repeating itself? You know the one, Mayor Johnson wins the election, crawling conniving politician from Bexley gets a leg up to be his deputy. Member of Bexley Council Monitoring Group reports his wrong doing to the police. Result; another politician with a criminal record. Definitely a result! Probably won’t happen now, the Granny Tax and £100,000 dinners could have put paid to that.
Three weeks ago I reported how Bexley council was refusing to give any information about the number of councillors who had to be sent reminders last year before they paid their council tax. After the initial reluctance to answer, Bexley council has confirmed that two of the 57 councillor households were late payers. I wonder what percentage of households generally have to be chased up.
was another meeting of the Bexley Community Police Engagement Group last night
and the subject under discussion was sentencing policy. There were speakers from
the Sentencing Council, the London Probation Trust and Bexleyheath police in the
shape of Superintendent Gowen. The meeting was ably chaired by Richard Mann of
the BCPEG. Interesting though they were I do not intend to cover what was said
by the out of borough guests, this site is Bexley-is-Bonkers not the Sentencing
Council is Bonkers, not that there was any suggestion that they are, except perhaps
their faith in being totally independent of government. Who pays their salaries?
Superintendent Gowen gave us some figures comparing Bexley crime with elsewhere. As you have heard before, it is among the lowest in London. He said that Business Robberies were up 36% on a year ago and Personal Robberies by 11·7% but the numbers were relatively small and the latter was caused by a large scale robbery of many mobile phones from just one bus load of children. Residential Burglary was down 24%. There are fewer than ten reported crimes each year per 1,000 residents in Bexley.
On Motor Crime Bexley was second best to Kingston upon Thames. Mr. Gowen managed to work his Commissioner’s slogan of ’Total War on Crime’ into his talk and not long afterwards councillors Seymour and Downing who had been present got up and left. I was told Read was there and also left but I did not see that for myself.
You are spared more statistics because my hand-out was borrowed by someone who shall be nameless who promptly lost it! The next BCPEG meeting will be at the Civic Offices at 7 p.m. on 28th May. The subject is ‘Preparing for the Olympics’. A guide to holidaying on the cheap overseas perhaps?
Bryant and I were invited to meet Chief Superintendent Stringer, his Deputy, Chief
Inspector Tony Gowen and a Detective Inspector. In the event, by the time the meeting
took place, Mr. Stringer’s deputy had gone to pastures new and CI Gowen
had taken his place; in a temporary capacity I believe.
I learned not to trust policemen in 1992 when one beat me up under a CCTV camera and his denial that he did it was accepted by the PCC, as it was then - note the lack of ‘Independent’. I ought to state that the local Commander had seen the tape and apologised profusely many times, but even so my view of the police was changed for ever. Being invited to meet four top policemen in the Commander’s office looked like a massive step forward but at the same time I feared the idea was for four professional men to brow-beat two pensioners into a metaphorical pulp. I called my MP and asked if she would accompany me; Teresa readily agreed.
Elwyn asked his MP, James Brokenshire, if he could do the same and he may well have done but the timing clashed with government business. So Elwyn asked the local Victim Support people who had been helping him if they could come. They said they couldn’t do that and implied they didn’t want anything to do with a case that might expose police failure.
Elwyn complained to their London HQ who told the local group they should provide support. The local people phoned Elwyn to complain about him going over their heads to HQ and made it clear they couldn’t help him any more because they didn’t have the staff. Victim Support HQ sent one of their top people instead, not a volunteer, one of their senior staff. So much for support at local level! And so we came to pass through the slightly dingy corridors of Arnsberg Way. CS Stringer’s office was nice enough, but no one could accuse him of being kept in excessive luxury.
The Commander began with the events of June last year when we reported the obscene blog to him and I asked if he could take a step back to March when Olly Cromwell and I were reported by Teresa O’Neill and Will Tuckley for harassment. He said he couldn’t because the two things were too closely linked and he wasn’t going to be able to say much about the obscene blog and because the harassment business was so inextricably mixed up with it he couldn’t say anything at all about it either, although he indicated he may be able to at some future date. I still don’t know what link he had in mind. One might speculate that he was considering whether the obscene blogger was one of the complaining councillors but that can only be a guess.
We then spent an hour not learning anything much at all except that the crime was being taken very seriously. We were asked more than once to “trust us” and while this is not an exact quote by any means, Borough Commander Stringer indicated that he was well aware that he had one MP and the Minister for Crime and Security breathing down his neck and there was no way he was going to deliberately drop the ball on this one. It seemed remarkably like ‘if it is a case of their career or mine…’
On the way out I said to Teresa Pearce, “They are either investigating very seriously indeed or we have been subjected to the most professionally executed con-trick of all time’. Teresa agreed, adding something like, “In which case the truth will eventually out and they are going to be in big trouble”.
The man from Victim Support said that his interpretation, and I suppose he must be well versed in these things, was that the police knew who published the obscene blog and were at the gathering conclusive evidence stage. We came away cautiously optimistic but we aren’t going to be counting any chickens just yet.
Apologies for late post. I have not been languishing in Olly Cromwell’s cell, I have had an electrician in and the power has been off. If I should one day be carted off to a cell arrangements are in place to have news placed here by A.N. Other.
It’s the weekend, you are trying to get away from Bonkers and do some DIY and
there is a knock on the door. It’s a man, not just any man but a councillor, a
Bexley councillor. I know I live within sight of Clockwork Orange territory but
this could seriously lower the tone of the neighbourhood, I drag him in quick
before the neighbours see. What does he want?
“It wasn’t me.”
“It wasn’t you what?”
“You know, the obscene blog thing.”
“I never said it was you.”
“I know, but you could’ve thought it.”
“That’s true. It could’ve been almost anyone. All I actually know is that at one time the only person to know of my visit to the Civic Centre was Head of Member Services, Chis Loynes and 16 hours later www.malcolmknight.blogspot.co.uk went on line. Everything else is circumstantial. What happened to Chris Loynes anyway?”
“He’s been off sick since just after the blog incident and isn’t likely to come back.”
“It’s not terminal I hope.”
“No, I think it’s worry and stress. Depression, that sort of thing.”
“Oh, sorry. That’s not good, there’s too much of that about. Commoner than you’d think. I hope he gets well soon.”
And so we went on for half an hour or so.
What was that all about then? There’s no point in announcing the name of a councillor who goes on the record to say he isn’t a purveyor of rude words and hate crimes. There’s probably 62 more where this one came from. But should I tell my friend Dave, that is the question? Ah, yes Dave; I forgot to tell you didn’t I. Borough Police Commander Dave Stringer asked Elwyn Bryant and me to go and see him. I’ll have to find time to tell you about that soon, but meanwhile there is DIY to catch up on. Tomorrow maybe.
I do have evidence of the visit but it would reveal the identity of my visitor. Unless he is proven to have told me whoppers it will remain out of sight.
When I was looking at the huge number of comments made about Olly Cromwell’s incarceration nearly two weeks ago, an unjustifiable arrest instigated by Bexley councillor Philip Read (Conservative, Northumberland Heath) for purely spiteful purposes, I was amazed to see a couple of gullible souls who believed Olly had landed himself in trouble for swearing on line. If that was the case he would have been arrested for it back in October. The charges then, while mistaken, were rather more honest; they were for harassment; basically for making the pitchforks comment and writing on Bonkers. He did neither and it was only when Bexley realised they had no case that they had to manufacture the new charge.
Who takes any notice of rude words these days? As a seven year old I got a good hiding for scratching S H I T in the earth with a stick but now it’s hard to get away from them. If Busy Body Bauer had gone to the cinema last summer instead of canvassing down Seymour’s road (that is how she recognised the photo of his house) she may have seen the comedy blockbuster ‘Bridesmaids’ which was advertised on the side of nearly every bus at the time. It is more an ‘occasionally mildly amusing’ than a ‘roll on the floor laughing’ sort of comedy and it is peppered with rude words from beginning to end. Take a look at the screenshot from my Blu-ray with the subtitles switched on.
If you go to the cinema regularly you can’t get away from it. If you go on Twitter you should be prepared for it and if you follow Olly, you should expect it. Prosecuting Olly for hitting four over-used letters on his keyboard is utterly stupid - but then that is what Bexley council is all about. That and getting very hot under the collar at the thought that their dirty secrets might be made public by an inquisitive Olly.
The man who innocently started Bexley council on its path to ridicule and possibly future prosecution with a nice line in colourful metaphor is Erith based Hugh Neal who writes a weekly blog entitled Arthur Pewty’s maggot sandwich. I understand he plans to let us into his own thoughts on the Olly saga later today. Take a look at his blog this evening; you should do anyway. It generally makes for a good read; especially if you are inclined to be slightly nerdy about computers and a little intolerant of the sort of people you might want to avoid on a late night train.
The next chapter of the Photo Diary is now available - a day late. My fault I am afraid.
I trust everyone noted the
new venue for Olly Cromwell’s trial.
It has been moved to Bexley Magistrates’ Court, presumably to increase the risk of influence
by Bexley councillors.
There is likely to be a large turnout so don’t be late, the waiting rooms are not very big and accommodation in the courts is limited. There is strict security on the way in. Arches and body wands. It would be best to travel light and without a camera but mobile phones are OK. It is against the law to take photographs in or around courts so don’t do it, a woman was banged up for contempt for taking a sneaky snap a couple of months ago.
So don’t forget: 10 a.m. on Friday 13th April 2012. The hearing has been allocated three hours.
The second warning is about tomorrow’s rude word, but don’t get too excited, you may struggle to see it.
There are some councillors who one would never suspect of posting an obscene
blog. Simon Windle, Steven Hall (I spelled his name right this time!), Alex Sawyer,
Val Clark, John Fuller, either of the Bacons, probably not even John Waters or Katie Perrior.
They just don’t seem the type. Some of the others probably wouldn’t have a
clue how to do it, but that still leaves quite a lot who might have had a hand in it.
It may also leave quite a lot who would like to see the culprit hung out to dry along
with their leader who has allowed it all to happen on her watch and seemingly attempt
a cover up. The thoughts of a few have filtered through via various channels
indicating their stance on the matter.
Obviously these fall into two categories. Those who are disgusted and say they are pretty sure they know who did it and those that claim not to have a clue who did it but wished they did.
The odd thing is that one ward has two councillors in the first camp who offer nods and winks but a third who says he hasn’t a clue who did it. You would think three councillors in the same ward would share their information. How come two think they know who did it and the other one says the reverse? Unless of course… perish the thought.
Labour party councillors are excluded from consideration because none have any logical reason to be obscene bloggers.
There are a number of things in danger of being overlooked so here are a few words on each of them.
I very much agree with the principle that excessive local government pay should be curbed.
Obviously I have no powers over Bexley Council but note the hypocritical nature of many Tory politicians' complaints about pay and pensions for what are mainly lowly-paid public sector workers while at the same time rewarding themselves with pay well over £100,000 in many cases. Often this is only one of the jobs they carry out and seem to have a “portfolio” approach to collecting pay from various sources.
If I am elected in May, I am committed to taking only one job - unlike Boris Johnson whose second jobs include one as a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, for which he is paid £250,000 on top of his salary as Mayor.
In addition, Boris Johnson has doubled the number of people at City Hall who are earning over £100,000 over the last four years. I will cut those numbers and end the gravy train for the few at City Hall.
Jonathan Rooks, the Green Party GLA candidate, gave his support two months ago.
Dopey Davey (Lesnes ward)
See also the blog for 13th March 2012.
Dear Councillor Davey,
You have failed to provide answers to my questions and given misleading information. The fact is the information is not on Bexley Council’s website. Is this not evidence that these cars are not legal?
Dear Mr. B, [name spelt wrong]
Due to your abusive emails, I am setting all your emails to be regarded as spam.
Democracy Bexley style again. Lesnes ward councillors were elected by the skin of their teeth. Majorities as low as six. When you are called on to place your X in 2014 I shall be reminding voters that they may be disenfranchised if they vote Conservative and find the need to ask their councillor a question.
I received my copy last week but they were still being hand delivered as late as Tuesday 20th March. Page 11 speaks of ‘New Thames Crossing’ and sings the praises of Mayoral candidate Boris Johnson and his plans for a tunnel at the Greenwich Peninsula and a ferry at Thamesmead. If it hadn’t been for Boris there would be no need for a ferry, we would have had a bridge by now. Whatever you think of that, it is a misuse of taxpayers’ money for a Conservative council, or even a Labour one, to be promoting a Conservative candidate for Mayor after the campaign has officially begun.
Only low level crime by Bexley’s standards but with Boris Johnson starting his propaganda war in Crayford on Monday 19th, it’s no doubt a favour O’Neill felt obliged to offer.
If you dial 999 you will be answered by someone working for a private company (BT) who will ask “Which service?” and if you say “Fire” you will before long and following a recent decision, be put through to another private company.
You don’t seem to hear so much of Capita these days, but they have got their mits into everything from collecting your council tax to chasing TV Licence evasion in a way that would have put the Gestapo’s methods in the shade. Now they are going to be responsible for directing the Fire Service to your inferno. You can just imagine it… “Your call is being recorded for training purposes, please press 1 if your council tax payments are up to date, 2 if not”. “Thank you. Please press 1 if you are insured, 2 to be connected to our insurance partners” and so on while you sizzle.
Who is responsible for that decision? Bexley councillors Colin Tandy and Gareth Bacon who are both members of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, that is who. The chairman of Capita is paid £900,000 a year. Obviously that is going to keep the costs down. How long do you think it will be before we go back to the old ways? The Fire Service was run by the insurance companies. If you weren’t a policy holder you fried.
A message from one of my friends in the know says “they are quacking in their boots”. (Sic).
From the man who made up the story about dog faeces, Bexley councillor Melvin Seymour. “They need to be man enough to say they might have got this wrong”. He was speaking of the Environment Agency’s decision to open the sluice gate on the River Cray and drain it into the Thames leaving the Cray a muddy ditch.
News Shopper report.
The Ombudsman has accepted my complaint of abuse of power by council leader Teresa O’Neill and Chief Executive Will Tuckley and allocated a reference number. It will be interesting to discover what they think about a council that goes around trying to get its residents locked up by lying to the police. It might be even more interesting to discover what the police will be doing about it once the dust has settled.
My phone has been ringing like never before but most of it isn’t Bonkers related unless one of my council friends has been passing my number around.
I had 38 calls over two days which were either boiler room scams, or unwanted call centres. I rigged the phone system so that only calls from numbers I approve will ring the bell but there is a danger of missing calls from the ICO and IPCC etc. so I have changed the system on my home line. If it proves to be a success the same will go on the Bonkers line.
Incoming callers who are not on my known number list will encounter one of those annoying automatic voice interrogation machines. It’s not very friendly but the phone has become too much of a distraction. New but genuine callers will only be annoyed once because they can go on the approved list later.
I have never bothered answering Withheld calls, I lost one friend because of that, he seemed unable to prefix his phone memory with 1470 which would have suppressed his Withheld message. I think that may only work on BT lines, these toy-town phone companies never seem to follow the standards or provide the full range of services.
used to be customary for Bonkers to get a little lighter at the weekends. We
have not seen a lot of that recently and I anticipate things will carry on
getting worse for Bexley council for each of the coming four or five days or so.
Meanwhile, I offer this Freedom of Information request which went to and was acknowledged by Bexley council yesterday in the hope that it will bring a smile to your face.
have reason to be very grateful to Say More Seymour and Busy Body Bauer. Without
the false statements based on wild imaginations rather than fact that they eagerly
signed for Bexleyheath police - Olly Cromwell’s prosecutor could find no evidence to support
the statements - we would have to be careful when labelling Bexley council corrupt.
Thanks to what Seymour and Bauer caused to leak out we now know they are. The Information
Commissioner and the Independent Police Complaints Commission helped us along the way
but it is this pair of chumps that set the ball rolling.
When councillor Philip Read tried his luck at following in their footsteps and had his claims thrown out by the District Judge too, website hits went through the roof as Twitterers across the country - and further afield - took to their keyboards. Many have returned each day and consequently news can travel very fast.
A new reader who works for Action for Hearing Loss (the RNID as it used to be) has said she is “livid” at what happened in Bexley on Wednesday evening. It looks as though Bexley council will be on the receiving end of a few more complaints and yet more embarrassment.
I’m no expert on hearing aids, I sometimes joke that my ears are the last thing I have that are working properly; (maybe it’s not a joke) but my guess is if the microphone system in the council chamber has an associated loop system it can only work if a microphone is switched on. How else could electrons flow from mouths to inductor or whatever it is? When councillor Craske ignored the request to switch on his microphone and when councillor Downing backed his decision not to, they in effect switched off the induction loop - if there is one.
It seems that to do that as a deliberate act rather than in error or through temporary fault, must be an offence against the Disabilities Act. Could ex-policeman councillor Alan Downing, chairman of the meeting seen jabbing his pen in the face of a hearing impaired man because of his deafness be a criminal? I hope his victim is not the sort to take things lying down.
The story has found its way to Woking in Surrey. Their version is not quite correct but close enough. Councillor Craske gets the blame, but he may have been momentarily stupid, he isn’t the real villain - did I really say that? It’s Downing who should be for the high jump.
I read somewhere that you can link most people on the planet by taking four or five steps. For example, linking through a former government cabinet member I can connect myself to Her Majesty the Queen in those four steps.
David Cameron the Prime Minister can be linked through his former Director of Communications, Andy Coulson, to the News of the World phone hackers who were well and truly mixed up with the axe murder of Daniel Morgan who was probably on the brink of exposing all the corruption at Catford police station in the nineteen eighties. Andy Coulson had the decency to resign - eventually.
The photo of Daniel and his two children is one you may not have seen in the press, it comes from the family album.
Here’s another four step link…
Boris Johnson, seeking re-election in May, the apple of his eye, Bexley council leader Teresa O’Neill who gave a false story to Bexleyheath police in an attempt to silence bloggers; who works alongside Bexley’s famed obscene bloggers inside Bexley’s Civic Offices. Boris Johnson is just four steps from one of the biggest scandals that has engulfed a local council since, err well, the last one that engulfed him and Bexley council.
What if the balloon went up just before the election? I can imagine them all scurrying around right now to pervert the course of justice all over again.
I think I should be on the lookout for an axe proof helmet. Daniel Morgan was killed in a Sydenham pub car park exactly 25 years ago and it is the country’s most notorious unsolved crime, linked as it is to corruption at the highest levels of the Metropolitan Police.
treatment meted out to Olly Cromwell and
the revelations of the Teresa O’Neill
and Will Tuckley inspired plot to have both of us flung into chokey I see no
need to be quite as restrained with my file of incriminating bits and pieces. I’m
not sure what the second sentence of this one is all about; I admit there is a
bit cut from the middle because that would reveal things the sender really wouldn’t
be too happy about but it didn’t make any more sense even before it was cut out.
I still don’t plan on letting you know who these councillors are, I’m after bigger
fish, and I won’t be stooping to Bexley council’s level by making false allegations.
I post this snippet solely to annoy Bexley council’s top brass and to offer
confirmation to those of the local population who may be interested that the
worm is turning and could yet bite Bexley council on the bum.
I know it once again could be easily forged but you don’t really think I would throw all credibility away by making up relative trivia do you?
I wish to give due notice that next Sunday the C word will appear in full on this blog. Discretely of course, but you don’t have to come here unless you want to.
The Crime and Disorder Committee met last night chaired by councillor Alan
Downing. There were eight people there apart from councillors, staff and guest
speakers, and two of them were the bouncers hired in by Bexley council to keep
the other six in check. The guests were two young people from the Youth Council
and the Borough Commanders of both Fire and Police, although CS Stringer had
fielded his new deputy, CI Tony Gowen. As is the norm with Downing’s meetings
the guests were not welcomed, not even the young people to whom you may have thought he
would want to set a good example of polite and civil behaviour. Probably he does
not know what that is as will be confirmed if you read to the end of this report.
For the public, Agendas had been supplied, just three copies and in black and white only. The councillors’ copies were in colour and the monochrome made nonsense of some of the graphs. All part of the ‘keep the public in the dark’ policy of Bexley council no doubt.
The meeting lasted some 160 minutes so it is not possible to report it in enormous detail and the following is highlights only.
The first insight into councillors’ states of mind came from Don Massey. In connection with achievements and targets he asked whether a reducing number of young people receiving custodial sentences was a good thing or a bad thing. The council officer, Linda Tottman, said it was a good thing. Massey told her he thought she was wrong. CI Tony Gowen for Bexleyheath police said it was definitely a good thing, “the fewer the better”, he said. Massey said he didn’t agree. I suppose that is to be expected from a Bexley Magistrate but worrying that the police and Massey are pulling in different directions. In Massey’s own words, “I may be thick”. Incidentally, every “Key Indicator” in the Agenda had been missed.
Councillor Philip Read asked for an explanation of some of the figures provided by Ms. Tottman, Bexley’s Deputy Director of Youth and Inclusion. “Did the 0·86 and 0·69 targets for reoffending and custody mean percentages?”, he asked. “No” said Tottman, “they are not percentages” and proceeded to explain why they were not. After the third failed attempt she gave up. “I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you an example.” She then gave two figures and said that one was divided into the other and it came to the decimal number in the targets table. I took a note of the numbers and a quick division showed that the 0·69 was indeed representing 69%. Did Tottman have a sick note when percentages were taught at her school? How is it that we are paying Deputy Director salaries to someone who doesn’t know anything about percentages? Should an Antonia Ainge style question be asked?
Tottman failed to answer any of the following questions either and eventually councillor Chris Ball was moved to say “Confidence in the data has dipped. If we don’t quite get what we are looking for…” at this point his delivery raced ahead of my scribbling skills but I think he went on to say “they aren’t very useful”. Or maybe Tottman isn’t very useful - I’m not sure. Good point though.
Councillor Alex Sawyer asked several questions that revealed him to be a good Conservative. That is intended to be a compliment but given the calamity that the party is under Cameron some may not think so. But Alex remains the sort of Conservative politician one might wish for. His questions revealed a no nonsense approach to drug abusing benefit claimants and their parents and a little later on he had his say on the advisability of funding local groups who should be attempting to fund themselves. It is perhaps worth noting that Linda Tottman was unable to answer Mr. Sawyer’s drug related question. It is probably not worth noting that one of my colleagues can’t stop himself from ‘admiring’ Mrs. Sawyer.
The highlight of the evening is usually FIre Commander Cyril O’Brien’s report and last night was no exception. Generally Bexley’s fire problems are few. We have some arsonists with a fondness for rubbish bins but the worst of them was recently caught. A man, not a youth, from outside the borough with a grudge against Bexley. With Bexley’s reputation world-wide that could have been almost anyone. I suppose in view of the wild imaginations, low intellect and spiteful nature of council leader Teresa O’Neill and Chief Executive Will Tuckley, I must add that I strongly disapprove of arson.
Councillors Philip Read and John Wilkinson were both interested in ease of access to premises by fire appliances; they knew of some places inaccessible due to inconsiderate parking. What does the Fire Service do in such circumstances? Commander O’Brien looked around furtively to check that Bexley’s rule on no recording was being observed and said… Well maybe I shouldn’t repeat what he said but I’ll leave you with the thought that his appliances are a lot bigger and heavier than a private car and if lives are at risk he would do what every reader would want him to do.
Tony Gowen the police officer present didn’t have much to do but his presence was invaluable because after chairman Alan Downing had told everyone that domestic violence was increasing at a worrying rate. CI Gowen had to chip in and tell him it is actually going down.
There has recently been a Crime Survey of residents in Bexley in which 1,141 people took part. The odd 1 was me but I took the precaution of entering a false post code. The responsible council officer was Diane Krauss (it’s what it sounded like, there was no name plate) and she had commendably managed to increase the participation level four fold over the previous survey. There was very little talk of what residents’ concerns were, dog fouling got a mention, but there was a long discussion on how participation levels can be improved further. It’s typical Bexley council; interested in headline eye catching figures and hitting arbitrary targets but not so keen on tackling people’s real concerns.
David Bryce-Smith, Bexley’s Deputy Director (Development, Housing and Community Safety) was asked if there had been any dialogue with respondents but reminded councillor Read that it was a confidential survey. Councillor Kerry Allon asked Linda Tottman if the number at the foot of Page 58 of the Agenda was to be added to the number on Page 59 to get the true result or whether one superseded the other. Tottman didn’t know. Sorry, Tottman not being able to tot up may be getting a trifle repetitive so I’ll draw things to a conclusion.
Councillor Ball was interested in any measures in place for recording unrecorded crime which sounds like a bit of an impossibility, though I accept it is important to know. CI Gowen ran through a list of initiatives he was implementing. CI Gowen was also questioned on the fact only 6% of burglaries resulted in arrest. He conceded it was a weakness and said that the crooks are getting to be very aware of forensics and how to circumvent it.
I have remarked before how difficult it can be to hear from the public area of the council chamber and how some people are unable to speak into the microphone but last night things were worse. Councillor Peter Craske was not activating his microphone at all and mumbling in his usual way. He calls himself a Communications Manager and should presumably know better, but last night he may just have been forgetful. About a third of the way through the meeting an elderly gent in the audience, about my age I would think, asked councillor Craske if he would kindly switch on his microphone. He ignored him. The man repeated his request to chairman Alan Downing explaining that he was very deaf. I do not recall seeing an induction loop sign in the chamber.
Downing said that “if you have personal problems then they are your problem” and proceeded to say that “councillor Craske could choose whether to put his microphone on or not”. The old man sat down. Craske must have had second thoughts about the wisdom of insulting behaviour towards those disabled by deafness because subsequently he switched his microphone on - not that he ever remembered to speak into it or raise his voice above the usual Craske mumble.
As I went to leave the meeting soon after 10 p.m. I noticed the man with a hearing problem approach chairman Downing and as far as I could ascertain he was seeking an apology from Downing. Do you think he got one? “The meeting is over” shouted Downing and refused to apologise. The man said that his deafness was severe and it had been confirmed by his clinician. I wish I had had Olly’s video camera for the next bit because Downing then accused the old fellow of pointing his finger at Craske and all the while Downing was vigorously jabbing his pen toward his victim with its end within inches of his eye. It was really most comical as well as unedifying. I shall be looking out for a man with both a trumpet and a white stick at the next meeting. It is unbelievable that a Bexley councillor should refuse to direct the use of microphones and then take delight in taunting a man about his affliction as he did at the end of the meeting. Maybe not so unbelievable in Bexley though.
All of this took place before a chorus of jeering councillors, not all of them of course, there must be a few decent ones there, but maybe not a lot. I left as CI Gowen gently shepherded the man away with his arm around his waist before Downing had a chance to humiliate him further. I guess any decent person would have done the same.
I hurried out to the bus stop but next away was CI Gowen almost sprinting back to his office, but not without time for a friendly word for a minute or two. Maybe, just maybe, Bexleyheath’s police are beginning to see exactly why Bexley council is widely seen as undemocratic and corrupt.
It’s been moved to Bexley Magistrates Court. Same time and date. 10:00 on Friday 13th April 2012. See you there.
is a website that follows the excesses of local government and appears to specialise in
parking issues, so it was nice to see
them pick up on yesterday’s blog about how Teresa O’Neill and Will Tuckley were
intent on perverting the course of justice and getting Olly Cromwell and me put
away for a long time; thwarted only by a policeman rather brighter than I have
recently given them credit for.
I am being egged on by members of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group to reveal which Bexley councillor made the Tosspot comment about me and whilst they didn’t doubt it was a councillor they had noted that I had not provided documentary proof as I usually do.
The reason was that the proof exists at two levels. The first, an email from which an extract is provided today, would be far too easy to forge and therefore means nothing, and the second is the detailed internet trace which gives the game away conclusively, right down to the make and model of the hand held device from which it was sent, its owner and its acquired IP address. It’s not the right time to reveal the name of someone who Googles the word Tosspot, that is very small beer and would be a distraction from the main event. We have managed to prove without a shadow of a doubt that Teresa O’Neill and Will Tuckley are behind the unjustified attacks on bloggers and presumably left themselves wide open to criminal charges. The next objective is to expose the obscene blogger. Maybe a man obsessed with the word Tosspot - used 21 times - is happy with the similar language of the obscene blog too. If he is exposed as the obscene blogger being the Tosspot author will be the least of his problems.
It was DI Keith Marshall whose signature appeared on
the Harassment Letter
(Form 9993) which both Olly Cromwell and I received in April last year. I was
not happy with the suggestion that “criticising councillors at a personal level”
is a crime. I was critical of that and Olly was even more forthright. I received
an absolutely useless fudge of a reply to my complaint to the Directorate of
Professional Standards from Bexleyheath police and referred the whole matter to
the Independent Police Complaints Commission in November 2011 and I am pleased to be
able to tell you that their investigation was far more thorough and honest than
the local one. It would appear that DI Marshall was more the
hero than villain in this disgraceful episode instigated by Bexley council and
their Chief Executive Will Tuckley.
That disreputable crew had contrived to get a file put before the Crown Prosecution Service that said I had encouraged the use of flaming torches, pitchforks and petrol bombs on Bexley councillors and Civic Offices. Never forget that it is Boris Johnson’s most admired local politician who was instrumental in all that. It was her who put my name forward, the police files say so.
Everyone who has kept pace with developments will know that everything claimed by Bexley councillors was an outrageous lie perpetrated by Chief Executive Will Tuckley on behalf of his ‘scheming cohorts’ but not unnaturally the CPS recommended I was prosecuted when they read the assertions. It was DI Marshall on the receiving end of the CPS advice who investigated the facts and recognised Tuckley and O’Neill’s lies for what they were. Without DI Marshall I may well have been banged up behind bars.
DI Keith Marshall felt obliged to do something under the overbearing pressure exerted by Bexley council and chose what he felt was the least damaging option, Form 9993. Whether connected or not I do not know, but he then went sick and is apparently still not returned to health.
So there you have it; is any more proof required that Bexley council is totally and utterly corrupt? It told a whole series of lies about Olly Cromwell and me, more than serious enough to get us locked up for a very long time. The Crown Prosecution Service fell for their lies and it was only thanks to the vigilance of DI Marshall that Bexley council did not get its way. All because they do not want residents to take an interest in their own council. All because Council leader Teresa O’Neill was prepared to tell the police… oh need I go on? The woman is totally beyond the pale as is anyone associated with her.
My response to the IPCC’s report is available here.
Fortunately I never criticised DI Marshall personally on Bonkers so I won't have to make a grovelling apology, Olly has already Tweeted his. I have however been very hard on CS Stringer in the past. He failed to keep me informed of developments and it looked as though he had closed down the obscene blog enquiry prematurely. That provoked some dark thoughts but I am beginning to see just how evil, beyond all expectations, Bexley council has been and to appreciate the awkwardness of the Borough Commander’s position.
Elwyn Bryant is still finding time to ask politicians’ views on his petition
against excessive salaries. We already know that Elwyns views coincide exactly
with government policy and in particular Eric Pickles who has said much (but done
nothing) about the issue. We know that James Brokenshire MP agrees because
said so on his website a long time ago and has been advising Elwyn very
recently. I suspect Teresa Pearce agrees too although the Labour faction on
Bexley council doesn’t. We know that the Green Party locally agrees, but nothing
was known about what our GLA member might be thinking about it - until now.
James Cleverly thinks that the clown Fox’s misuse of Standing Order 84 is right. “It is essential that petitioners take care to ensure their petitions are error-free", he says not so cleverly.
“It can be a false economy not to attract good people into public service… I know that under the Conservative administration at Bexley Council significant savings and efficiencies have been made while prioritising front line services for protection. Any individual salary should be considered in light of this”.
With Teresa O’Neill hoping to get a leg up to the Mayor’s office should Boris win in May you can’t expect Cleverly to rock the Bexley queen’s boat but at least we know that James Cleverly, Assembly Member for Bexley and Bromley, is not in tune with the coalition government’s policy or the Minister for Communities oft repeated opinion. Well out of order as James C. might have said himself.
I still think that the most likely reason no established local politician (both James Brokenshire and Teresa Pearce are new to their positions) will speak against Bexley’s over-generous salaries is that the unelected has too much dirt on the elected. A mutual protection racket. I would be amazed if Will Tuckley didn’t know exactly who has the skills to abuse Google blogspot.
There is absolutely no mileage in peddling untruths; that may
be Bexley council’s game but they have plenty to hide and have accordingly earned the
reputation with which they are now saddled. I’m certain that if anyone chose to
consistently and deliberately tell lies about Bexley council they would soon
find themselves legally pursued. As it is Bexley council has only been able to
hit back by making up false stories. That
I was urging the population to equip
itself with flaming torches, pitchforks and petrol bombs. That poor old Olly was
planning to tip the contents of a dog’s rear end through councillor Seymour’s
letter box and perhaps worst of all, that the 75 year old Elwyn Bryant was up to
the various tricks of which you are by now all well aware in a council office.
It is beyond pathetic but it is what you get if you scrimp on talent by only
paying the chief executive £200,000 a year. What do you expect for that sort of
But I have an admission to make which grieves me somewhat; I can only plead that I was between the proverbial rock and a hard place. On 24th February I said “The obscene blog issue is close to dead and buried”. That was a big fat fib. As you may recall, whilst I was never able to name a suspect I did put out a few clues as to where circumstantial evidence might lead. Pointing out how councillors’ own blogs were disappearing, that sort of thing. But then I was asked not to do it… by the investigating officer at Bexleyheath police station no less. For that reason nothing much appeared about the obscene blog from the beginning of February onwards. I was told that every time I dropped hints his suspect did more to cover his tracks.
I was a little surprised to hear that very clear confirmation that the investigation was still going on but apparently it was. I was told in writing it ended last August. Papers revealed following Olly’s unwarranted prosecution said the obscene blog investigation was effectively shelved on 7th July. The policeman told me that investigation had been restarted after further evidence came to light. I am more inclined to think that the investigation was resumed because two MPs twisted a few arms very strongly but I could be wrong.
Bexley council has openly attacked three citizens (†) of the borough in recent months, all three by some strange coincidence have been critical of their behaviour, and by chance one each from the three borough parliamentary constituencies. Two have been willingly and ably supported by their MPs and one has been totally ignored by his. Teresa didn’t even need to be asked.
† If you ignore the constant attacks on Mr. and Mrs. Grootendorst.
There has been quite a lot, of feedback that is, about Bexley Cabs. Someone called Steve at the Public Carriage Office has confirmed what the minicab company said. The term Cabs is a strict No No if what you really mean is minicabs. He wasn’t so sure about the planning consent, he thought it quite likely that they would accept a promise of forthcoming planning permission for a short while.
There is of course concern locally that minicabs will soak up what little parking space there is in the centre of Bexley. It was suggested from yet another source that an agreement had been reached with the Ex-Serviceman’s Club which lies between and behind Bexley Cabs and Bar Lorca to use their car park. I have some contacts on the committee of that club and they made enquiries but said it was news to them.
That video story involving a seriously injured young lad rang a bell with someone too. To quote from an email sent by one of my regular correspondents, “… was a victim of cyber-bullying. A homophobic message was posted on the school website by another pupil who had gained access by using a teacher’s password. The school said there was no way they could find out who had done it. My daughter was aware that it was possible to find out who it might be from the IP address and contacted the police. The pupil responsible turned out to be the son of a school governor”. Is there no place untainted by corruption in Bexley?
An awful lot of governors are councillors aren’t they?
probably seen this image before. It’s the one Google presented to me when
someone searched for the phrase shown and Google led them to Bonkers - 21 times!
It’s not exactly the internet crime of the century; in fact I don’t think it is a crime at all. To my mind it ranks alongside Olly putting up an anonymous picture of a run-of-the-mill sort of house and asking the rhetorical question, “what sort of c*** lives in a house like this?”. The language isn't going to hurt anyone especially as unlike my own critic, Olly didn’t provide a name. It’s definitely not in any way comparable to what one of Will Tuckley’s friends or their mates did to me and Elywn Bryant, something that the police eventually accepted was a homophobic hate crime.
So why bring it all up again now?
Because I now know who did it, that is why. That's not know as in ‘I’ve a pretty good idea’, it’s know as in ‘I’m absolutely certain’. Who? Who? I hear you ask. Not sure I am ready to say yet or even at all, but I wouldn’t be bothered mentioning it if it was someone you’d never heard of would I? That would be pointless mischief making, this is closer to mischief making with a point!
Yes I know it effectively blackens all our councillor’s names, but I’m not sure I really care any more. Did they care when Olly’s wife was deprived of her business computers, phones and camera for several months, for something for which the prosecution could find no evidence? Do you think councillor Philip Read (Conservative, Northumberland Heath) cared when he signed the statement that put Olly in a cell for 24 hours for reasons the District Judge said was so much bull excrement? No. So why should I care about them? Well; perhaps I’m not totally without compassion; I’ll say this. It wasn’t councillor Steven Hall (†) and it wasn’t councillor Peter Catterall (†) despite his familiarity with the T word. And you may reasonably guess that it wasn’t a member of the Labour party either.
Philip Read is a Director of International Travel Resources Ltd, New York Hotel Bookings, Las Vegas Hotel Bookings and Travel Trade Solutions and owns the relevant web domains. I spell that out in the hope that Google will bring some of his potential customers here and that they will have an opportunity to see what sort of malicious and disreputable character they would be dealing with.
† Singled out because at some time in the past year or two they have treated the Bonkers team in a reasonable fashion. I hope that doesn’t get them into trouble with the remaining 50. If it does, maybe they should choose their friends more carefully.
I was mildly rebuked yesterday for saying that Bexley council has spent money on CCTV. Someone reminded me that it was Siemens who spent the money and as that comment is from someone with close links to the monitoring facility I bow to their expertise. I think I know who ultimately paid for it nevertheless. Councillor Craske refers in the Spring issue of the Bexley Magazine to “the investment we have made”. I think he intends to imply that ‘we’ is the Conservatives and he does so for electoral reasons. It’s the sort of thing he can’t stop doing at council meetings and on Conservatives websites. Why should the magazine be any different? But it’s a long way from being an outright lie by Craske’s standards, even if my man from Siemens begs to differ.
places you can’t go in Bexley without having your movements tracked by Bexley
council; or 257 places you are safe from harm, or if not then at least the police will have
all the evidence they need for a successful prosecution. Take your pick. When Nicholas Dowling and I took
photographs of the Cinema Car Park
exactly a year ago we found ourselves identified by name via the CCTV, the details passed to a
councillor or someone else in a senior position, and
blogged in graphic terms as
to what the two of us had been up to in the gloom.
Don’t think that the CCTV system is not abused by Bexley council. One day when I can find the time I shall tell you another story of how Bexley council uses CCTV for the express purpose of getting people into trouble. Meanwhile I bring you this little tale from another resident. The words are all his, but I did take the precaution of going to see him and hearing the full story.
For legal reasons that whole story cannot be told but there are once again elements of ‘it’s not what you know, it is who you know’. I’ll have to leave it to your imagination as to why the attacker was identified on CCTV by some viewers but not by the police officers in charge.
We learn from the News Shopper that Bexley Council has spent more than £2·3 million on CCTV cameras during the past four years. “Our CCTV network has played a key role in helping Bexley have one of the lowest crime rates in London” claimed Bexley cabinet member for community safety Peter Craske. “The cameras led to 615 arrests in 2010 and 700 arrests in 2011, so they are delivering real results in helping catch criminals and prevent crime from taking place.”
Let’s then see what happens when a serious assault in Bexley is captured on CCTV:
On 13 September 2010, a youth was sitting on a bench at a Bexley school when another youth came and sat behind him and pushed him off. As the first youth fell, he took hold of the second youth to get his balance, and the second youth fell with him. The second youth got up, climbed on the bench and then jumped down onto the first youth, punching him several times in the head and face, which fractured his eye socket and left him with a permanent visual disability.
But - good news! The assault was captured on CCTV, which the Head teacher confirmed shows the suspect pushing the victim off the bench, the victim pulling the suspect off with him, and ‘the suspect jumping off the bench and punching the victim three times with one fist to the head’. As Peter Craske claimed, this could help catch criminals, and the suspect was indeed arrested. However, the arresting officer DC Mahoney somehow failed to see the attack when he watched the CCTV footage, noting in the crime report that CCTV ‘does not capture the main assault. It shows the victim and the suspect falling to the floor at the start of the fight but then they go out of view’. Perhaps, as he was watching, his view was disturbed by a speck of dust landing in his eye at the crucial moment.
Back at the station, Bexley Police were rapidly gearing up for action. 23 days after the arrest, DI Underwood set up an ‘Action Plan’ for PC Hooper to ‘assess’ the CCTV. Four days later, DS Betez noted that PC Hooper had still to ‘review CCTV and confirm what it actually captures’. A further six days later, DI Underwood noted that ‘enquiries continue in order to review the CCTV’. And only eight more days after this, officers actually got around to ‘reviewing’ the CCTV and failing to spot the assault once again, with DC Betez noting that CCTV ‘does not capture the incident and is unused material with no evidential value’.
The evidence was submitted to the Prosecutor 46 days after the assault, and without the CCTV footage, leading her to note of the CCTV ‘I am reliably informed that it merely shows a group of persons at the end of a playground and they cannot be identified. It is therefore of no evidential value… accordingly I advise No Further Action’. And the case was dropped.
What another great success for Bexley! There was a temporary arrest, boosting the statistics that Councillor Craske could boast about. Police avoided both the hassle of a prosecution and having to actually do anything about the CCTV footage. CCTV suppliers got paid handsomely for all their expensive equipment. And the attacker got let off.
Of course, there are a few downsides - the cash-strapped residents of Bexley shelling out a huge amount for CCTV equipment that the Police chose not to use, the local area remaining a violent and unsafe place despite the statistics, and the victim failing to get any justice. But then let’s not focus on the negatives, when there is clearly so much to be proud of in this borough.
I am slowing disappearing under the weight of Bexley related paper so using the web to get rid of some of it is an attractive proposition. I didn’t know or perhaps forgot that you can get your council tax demand by email and maybe I should get around to setting that up for next year. By then they may have got things organised; I am getting reports that those who have signed up are getting their demands that way and through the post too.
since the discovery that Bexley council is content to allow directors and their
deputies to be husband and wife teams they have done everything in their power
to block any further information leaking out. Come to think of it that may be a
non-sequitur, it’s what they do in all circumstances, the marriage probably has
no relevance to the refusal to answer a Freedom of Information request.
One of the things that we weren’t allowed to know is whether or not Mrs. Ellershaw had any qualifications that marked her out as being suitable for the position she fills. Bexley council at first said go away, and then told the Information Commissioner to go away too but after the IC rapped their knuckles they relented. The lady has a B.A. Honours in History from the University of York and a Masters Degree in Business from Kingston University.
So what was that all about then? Why is being so well qualified a dirty secret and not something to shout from the rooftops? One can only assume that Bexley council’s default position of “Say nothing, they may catch us out” took precedence over common sense. Replying to an FOI in an honest and straight forward manner would have taken two minutes and cost fourpence; but no, they have to waste money by arguing with the questioner, handling the inevitable appeal, behaving like idiots before the IC, then bowing to the inevitable. At Mrs. Holkham’s guess of £53 an hour that will add up to quite a lot. And as the questioner was Mick Barnbrook and another FOI revealed that all of his questions are handled by the Chief Executive it must have cost more than double that at Tuckley’s hourly rate. Maybe that is the explanation for the whole silly situation; Tuckley was responsible.
now for something different, a bit of weekend levity at last. This is 31
Glebelands and if the address sounds familiar it will be because you have
it here before, Glebelands is councillor Seymour’s address, he with the vivid
imagination and a
Bexley council approved
glosser over of facts; vigorously stirred beforehand.
If you are not fussy about the company you keep it’s for sale and a snip at £170,000. To Seymour, visit Rightmove. Ideal for first time Bauer.
man you see here is John Watson. He is proud to have been a pain in Bexley
council’s backside for more years than I have lived in the borough. Like me he
caught Bexley council up to no good once, it aroused his curiosity, and found
everywhere he looked it was the same old story.
I meet up with him most weeks to swap information and every time I seek his thoughts on the latest revelation, John always has an explanation for it. “They are all cheats and liars”, he will tell me and as often as not there is no other rational explanation.
Maintaining ‘pain in the backside status’ for 30 odd years takes dogged determination and perseverance and you may therefore be unsurprised that John is the only member of his small band of agitators who thinks it is worthwhile asking a question at a council meeting. Bexley council has, as you know, changed its constitution, to effectively ban questioning by anyone but its own Conservative sycophants. Nevertheless it is occasionally possible to formulate a topical question that in theory at least will pass all of Bexley council’s criteria. When that happens Bexley council has to dream up a new obstacle. They can be quite inventive.
John sometimes refers to the small gang of which he is nominally leader by the name Bexley Council Monitoring Group. He occasionally writes as Chairman of the BCMG. His letterhead bears his home address in Sidcup and he signs any letter with the name he was born with. He’s done it for years, it is nothing new, Bexley council knows that BCMG is John by another name. On 16th February he submitted a question to the council on his notepaper and sent it as an email attachment from his regular email address. An edited version appears below.
Among the many clowns employed by Bexley council is one called Kevin Fox. It is Kevin Fox who came up with the brilliant wheeze that Standing Order 84 which lays down what should be done in the event of certain things occurring at a meeting should be used to prevent a meeting being held and councillors lapped up his inventiveness to ensure that 2,219 Bexley residents were not heard.
Faced with Mr. Watson’s question and keen to repeat his success at stifling democracy, Mr. Fox put on his thinking cap and came up with this act of sheer genius. He emailed Mr. Watson the enquiry, “Dear Mr. Watson, could you please let me know the name and address of the person asking the question”.
John’s email address is beneath his name and alongside his address in Maidstone Road. Is Kevin Fox as stupid as he looks or was he just having an off day? It would appear not.
Fox’s first email to John Watson merely advised him that his question must be deferred to a later council meeting. He had in effect accepted that John was John and he has the misfortune to live in Bexley. It was only when John accepted the deferral that Fox went into fully fledged idiot mode and pretended he did not know who he was. His email was dated 29th February. On 16th March he was still repeating the same trick. This may well make him a first rate defender of the evil empire but I think you may agree it also makes him a first rate twit and jobsworth par excellence.
John’s question looks like missing the cut off date for questions so in a sense Fox has won. But Bexley taxpayers have lost. John has chosen to make a Freedom of Information request seeking to discover what silly game Fox is playing, and as we know from the ramblings of Mrs. Holkham the other day, Bexley council claims that costs us £53 an hour.
the graph indicates, Bexley people are a blood thirsty lot attracted to scandal
and intrigue. The unjustified attack on Olly Cromwell
this week by a Bexley councillor created widespread interest. It also created a sense of despair in
many correspondents who now know just what sort of people are running our council. It is time to hit back.
Those who follow things very closely may have noticed that I have very much slowed the placement of correspondence on the site. There has been nothing new about harassment and obscenities this year. This is because I sensed that it was providing information to ‘the enemy’ who then took avoiding action. A little while later I received what might be termed official advice that I had been doing just that. You will have to guess who told me that but I can tell you it wasn’t far from the centre of power.
Over the last few months I have accumulated several snippets of information about Bexley council’s criminal activities which I have been unable to share with you but I believe that era may be coming to an end. I no longer feel that correspondence must be kept secret and I shall gradually reveal more of it. Additional links will appear on the Site map as and when I can find the time. One is there already, a complaint sent to the Local Government Ombudsman yesterday. It went as a letter on paper but I have placed it on the web as plain text to allow search engines (Google etc.) to make the most of it and spread the word as far as possible. I know that the LGO is stuffed full of ex-council employees, just as the IPCC is stuffed full of ex-police officers, but whether they reject my complaint or not doesn’t really matter, it all helps demonstrate how corrupt the entire system is.
I am tempted to say more but it might be more fun to drip feed it. Putting Olly through hell for something he has not done (the judge agreed with that) was unforgivable and now that he has been silenced by Bexley council’s falsehoods I shall do what I can to help expose the criminals in our midst.
are making mistakes and causing more chaos down in Welling. Don’t they know that
there is software available to ensure vehicles can get around corners before
pick axe gets to hit tarmac?
More total road closures for their convenience. Mind you, perhaps I shouldn’t complain, there is a major one up here in the northern outpost of Bexley and the 401 bus now (almost) passes my door at least a mile off course. Don’t knock it, it gets me to Bexleyheath in 15 minutes instead of the 229’s 25 at best.
The full set of photos may be seen here. The consulation document for Welling Way has been added to the Welling Corridor Index.
thought you might want to know. I would give a link but the page appears to be
corrupted and I do not see the advertised job there.
According to the Head of Bexley’s Planning Control, there is no planning application for this business. It’s not what you know, it is who you know.
If it hadn’t been for the lunacies of the week now ending I would have
written a fairly ordinary blog about political hypocrisy on Tuesday morning; a
number of people had provided links. I know I usually avoid the heavy stuff at a
weekend but neither do I like ignoring readers’ suggestions and I am so far behind I
shall have to put in some overtime.
I can’t remember the last time I watched a TV programme from beginning to end (†), but I am told that Ken Livingston was interviewed last weekend by someone called Andrew Marr. Apparently Ken was being grilled because he has his media related income paid via a company he owns and it cuts his tax bill. In the past Ken has been critical of such arrangements and according to the BBC (and they are not alone) this is hypocrisy. But the BBC must be hypocrites too; they pay some of their their top brass the same way.
James Cleverly, our man at the GLA, who I regard as a total twit since he labelled this website “well out of order”, got in on the act by Twittering comments no better and no worse than I might use here - in fact I said pretty much the same thing only yesterday but politicians are a special breed who can do and say what they like without having their collars felt.
Ed Milliband has retaliated by saying Boris Johnson pays himself the same way and the
Mayor has been
emphatic that it is not true and then joins in the criticism of Ken.
This probably makes him a hypocrite too, for Conservative controlled London boroughs
pay their staff the same way and he says nothing about it. Which brings us back to
Bexley, for its former chief executive Nick Johnson has been paid the same way by Hammersmith
& Fulham council and we chip in an extra £50,000 a year for his pension.
A Parliamentary contact drew my attention to Tuesday’s debate. It records how a Labour councillor made an official complaint about Nick Johnson’s tax advantageous arrangements and sent it to Eric Pickles 16 months ago and true to form the hypocrite has not, according to the debaters, replied.
If you click for the report of the Commons debate, search for the name Nick Johnson. If you are a total glutton for punishment watch the entire debate.
† I remember now, it was the Downton Abbey Christmas special.
on a tip off, I asked the Bexley Council Monitoring Group if they could take an
interest in the new cab office that has appeared in the centre of Bexley
Village. If you haven’t noticed I have been rather busy lately. Peering through
the windows, there appeared to be a fully kitted out taxi office inside as well as
the more obvious ‘Opening Soon’ signs which adorn the exterior.
The neighbouring property owners had no idea what was going on beyond the obvious. The proprietors of the adjacent Bar Lorca and Ex-Service Men’s Club specifically said that Bexley council had not given them any opportunity to object.
A call to the planning office at Wyncham House elicited the information that there had been no formal application, though they were aware of the development. "Do you know who is behind it?” asked my man from the BCMG “yes said the planning man”, (whose name I have but see no need to reveal). “It is Mark Campbell.” “Is that the same Mark Campbell who is the son of deputy council leader Colin Campbell?” asked the fearless Mick Barnbrook, for the interrogator was he, and after that fact was confirmed the conversation suddenly became very frosty. The man from Bar Lorca claimed to have captured the councillor on site on his CCTV.
At yesterday evening’s planning meeting, Mick asked Susan Clark, Head of Planning Control if what he had heard from Wyncham House was all true. Everything was, she confirmed. Mark Campbell was the man and as of yesterday evening there was no planning application. Is one needed? If not, you would think Mrs. Clark would say. Planning Committee chairman Peter Reader was able to hear the conversation and said it would put him in difficulties as he has a financial interest in the adjacent wood merchant - I think they were just a client of his, so all perfectly legit.
There is I suppose nothing illegal about spending large sums on equipping a taxi office without any guarantee of being allowed to operate it, although maybe the advertising signs fall foul of some regulation or other, but it looks so very presumptuous doesn’t it? My dad’s in charge so no one can stop me. Open for business and ask for permission retrospectively; doesn’t everybody do that?
An enquiry to a nearby minicab office revealed that they had heard that Bexley Cabs is due to open on 26th March and they believed that it wasn’t possible to apply for a Public Carriage Operator’s licence before planning permission is obtained. It was also claimed that it isn’t legal to refer to a Cab in business material, it must be Minicab, but I shall have to take his word for that.
There is going to have to be a lot of fast-tracking to get all that formality completed in the next ten days, there isn’t even a Licensing meeting scheduled before then. Another councillor privy to Mick’s conversation cheekily whispered into his ear, “it looks like a brown envelope job to me”. That implies money will change hands. I doubt it myself, why spend money if there is a better way?
If you can remember 1st January you may recall a somewhat similar story blogged there.
Follow Bexley Cabs on Facebook.
Photographs by Elwyn Bryant.
recent tribulations of Olly Cromwell who is being hounded by a bunch of
malicious Bexley councillors for having a bit of a foul mouth on him were
reported in as much
detail as I could muster yesterday morning. Since then I have noticed links
to Bonkers on websites as far away as Australia, the Twittering and blogging
world appears to be universally appalled by the antics of a council run by the
political woman most admired by Boris Johnson, wannabe next mayor of London and
presumably just as much a supporter of tyranny as Ken Livingston was of those
not unacquainted with terrorism.
Olly has today given his own account of what happened on his own website and you may be glad to know that it is remarkably free of obscenities, no worse than what comes out of so-called comedians’ mouths on BBC2 anyway.
Olly is unable to tell you who tried to get him banged up for a month for breaking bail conditions because of those conditions, but I stand by my original researches. I wouldn’t be surprised if the “concerned member of the public” whose suggestion was immediately thrown out by a judge does not find himself on the receiving end of similar charges before long; that would make two, but like Olly my lips have to remain sealed too. The legal world can be very tricky when it is so full of criminals with friends in high places.
was a good turn out for last night’s planning meeting, at a guess, 50 or maybe a
few more and from both sides of the argument. The meeting was chaired by
councillor Peter Reader, he didn’t have a great deal to do. Speakers made short
speeches, councillors asked questions and council officers answered them.
Most of them were fielded by the planning boss, Mrs. Susan Clark and a Mr. Stone
from the same department. It was Mr. Stone who was most impressive, obviously a
man on top of his brief who knew the answer to every question thrown at him and
the history of planning in the area going back twelve years.
Councillor Gill MacDonald who represents Belvedere started the meeting with a three minute speech against the proposed ASDA store. She was speaking on behalf of the Residents’ Forum rather than as a councillor and claimed that the Nuxley Road, Belvedere shopping centre was vibrant 20 years ago and now it had empty shops. Much later in the meeting Mrs. Clark said that Nuxley Road was the least at risk shopping centre in the borough with fewer empty shops than elsewhere. The councillor said the steep and narrow road between Upper (Nuxley Road) Belvedere and Lower was a problem, which is true but I saw nothing else in her speech that was convincing. Possibly councillor MacDonald wasn’t really interested one way or the other because she left the meeting immediately after speaking. This was the subject of adverse comment later in the evening by ASDA supporters on the bus home to Belvedere.
There were other speakers from both sides of the camp, some professionals in the field, others not. Generally speaking the pro-ASDA speakers were far more confident than their opposition. A Mrs. Beryl Hyde who lives near the proposed site had organised a petition in favour of ASDA and obtained almost as many signatures in two weeks as the anti-ASDA group had done in the several months since the plan first surfaced.
The first councillor to speak in that capacity was Mike Slaughter who suggested he needed more time to consider “a most difficult decision”. Mrs. Susan Clark patiently read out most of the Addendum to the Agenda which addressed the most recently raised objections. Why councillor Slaughter couldn’t read it for himself I do not know; I had already done so and if you will forgive me saying so I thought it was an admirable and well researched document which answered all my own misgivings about the ASDA scheme. Councillor Slaughter’s concern, as he made clear later, was that we may be wrecking Belvedere as he acknowledged Bexley council had wrecked Sidcup.
Mrs. Clark explained in great detail why that wasn’t going to happen. She said that a lot had been learned from the mistakes of Sidcup where Safeway (now Morrisons) had been allowed to move in and dominate retailing in the area. Conditions were to be imposed on ASDA which would prevent them taking on services like pharmacy and dry cleaning which might kill the independent local businesses. I suspect the fact that Morrisons is but two minutes walk from Sidcup centre and ASDA will be a good half mile from Nuxley Road, separated by one of the steepest hills in SE London, may also have an impact. No one who might otherwise nip into Nuxley Road for a quick shop is likely to want to lug their bags back up Picardy Road or pay £4.60 for a return trip on one of Boris's expensive 15 minute interval buses. The view (left) from only half way up that hill may explain why.
Another councillor with local interests, Dopey Davey (Lesnes ward) condemned the plans for ASDA. The new jobs promised were a red herring he said. There is only so much food Belvedere residents can eat so what is sold in ASDA will not be bought in other Bexley shopping centres, oblivious to the fact that for most of his electorate the nearest supermarket is Morrisons in Thamesmead (Greenwich) and to get there on a bus can take 35 minutes because of its meandering route. I speak from experience.
Mr. Stone explained in painstaking detail with reference to scientific studies of shopping habits and to planning law that councillor Davey’s claims were either wrong, misguided or irrelevant. Very possibly all three. Mr. Stone is much more polite than me.
Another local councillor who made a case for more expensive food shopping in Belvedere was that champion of the oppressed, Munir Malik (Labour, Thamesmead East).
Councillor Brian Bishop (Colyers) expressed some scepticism over the claim of 300 new job opportunities. Part time or full time he wanted to know. So did I. Mrs. Susan Clark thought they were 300 full time equivalent posts.
No one actually nailed their colours to the ASDA mast, it was as if everyone was ashamed to be associated with it. Councillor John Waters admitted to having his mind changed by the arguments and the case made by the planning officers, which was certainly thorough. Councillor Val Clark was similarly minded to stick her head above the parapet, everyone else seemed to be traumatized by what their earlier decision had done for Sidcup - although parking restrictions and idiotic road layouts could not have helped.
Despite the reservations and general lack of enthusiasm the vote went 6:4 in favour of ASDA. Lets hope that all the road schemes ASDA has volunteered to pay for are a success. When you get to do your shopping in ASDA instead of wasting petrol and time getting elsewhere remember to give thanks to councillors Waters and Clark and Mr. Stone. When you get to place an X on a ballot paper in Belvedere remember the names Kerry Allon, Gill MacDonald, John Davey and Munir Malik, all of whom wanted to deprive you of choice and raise your costs. Kerry Allon who had taken the leading role in the original planning rejection took no part in the debate or vote this time.
I mentioned the bus home earlier which was filled with pro ASDA people. It is true to say the Belvedere Residents' Forum was coming in for some stick and the local MP who, as with so many things, supported her constituents who almost to a man (woman?) were in favour of the ADSA proposal, was on the receiving end of a few metaphorical bouquets. Not all Teresas are bad eggs.
At a crowded public meeting this evening, Bexley council approved the division of Belvedere’s B&Q store to allow provision of an ASDA supermarket. The majority in favour was very small. This report will be supplemented in the morning.
There was a meeting at the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit yesterday
evening and as already noted Olly Cromwell and his followers impacted on the
arrangements. The six members of the public present were kept in check by the
bouncers that Bexley council had hired for the occasion. The young men sat doing
nothing for an hour and a half and were the soul of discretion, but their
bemusement by the situation was not perfectly suppressed. Those six members of
the public consisted of members of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group and me
with my pen and notebook.
Chairman Don Massey is too rude to acknowledge the presence of the public, what else would one expect, ignoring six in the gallery must be a good deal easier than ignoring 2,219 as he did a month ago.
Council officer Maureen Holkham began proceedings by going forward with Bexley’s performance against targets. In essence she read from the agenda. Councillor Colin Tandy hoped he was not about to ask a silly question and asked her to define the terms “quite above average” and “significantly above average”. It was not a silly question but it may well have been a silly answer; Mrs. Holkham went forward by saying she didn’t know but she would be going further forward with trying to get councillor Tandy an answer.
Councillor Deadman asked why the report had “No data available” against a large proportion of the targets. Mrs. Holkham took the session forward by admitting she did not know.
Councillor Malik, always one for incisive questions, asked, among other things, what the term ‘Scores on the Doors’ meant as it was included in the report without explanation. Chairman Massey stepped in to save Mrs. Holkham from further embarrassment. Munir Malik’s questions strayed outside the remit of his committee he said, and he may well have been correct. But as luck would have it, Mrs. Holkham was anxious to take that one forward. Scores on Doors is a “food hygiene initiative”. Why can’t they speak plain English?
Next Director Paul Moore (£136,617 p.a.) told us how the vacation of Wyncham House would affect services and save money. Notably he did not mention its sale. Perhaps it was an oversight; maybe its maintenance costs are not attractive to organisations which cannot spend tax payers’ money.
Deputy Director Graham Ward gave an overview of how the Strategy 2014 savings were progressing; the old story of green (on target), amber (at risk) and red (in trouble) project categories. Councillor Malik asked if a total of the amount marked amber could be given. Mr. Ward did not pretend his answer would take us forward, for by his reckoning it was “too difficult” to quantify.
There was a discussion on the future funding of Council Tax Benefit led by the Head of Exchequer Services, Mark Underwood. The new scheme will be dependent on computer software which at best will be ready in the nick of time. A problem is the different tweaks required by different local authorities which causes delay and pushes up costs. In response to a question by councillor Malik, councillor Campbell said he had tried for a London wide solution but there has been no agreement. There may be some cooperation with Bromley and Croydon. Councils bicker. Residents pay.
Mrs. Holkham then took us forward to the subject of Freedom of Information requests which have risen in number five fold since 2005. Probably because Bexley council keeps running foul of the Information Commissioner a new complaints system is to be introduced, and the costs are not helped by the clamp on questions to council. They love to shoot themselves in the foot.
The question of rising costs figured prominently and Mrs. Holkham said she had “come up with a figure of £53 an hour”. It all seemed very casual and after hearing several dubious statements from Mrs. Holkham councillor Mike Slaughter could stand it no longer. He asked why £53 an hour when the guidance said FOIs were OK up to £450 and 18 hours - which is £25 an hour. He didn’t like the fact that so many FOIs appeared to take exactly one, two three or four hours and railed that he “simply didn’t believe the figures” and felt “we are not telling the public the truth”. He went on about only 10% of FOIs being made by local residents and the claim that most requests come from the media. What media companies, councillor Slaughter wanted to know, somewhat taken aback by the applause from five pairs of hands - mine were too busy scribbling. Mrs. Holkham attempted to take the issue forward again but advanced only by her usual amount. She did not know.
If councillor Slaughter had not been distracted by the applause he may have managed the full house of questions. He missed “How many requests were turned down for hitting the £450 barrier because Mrs. Holkham had come up with an hourly charge of more than twice that specified for councils?”
Chairman Massey advocated putting more and more data on the website, which in principle is a good idea, but I guess he has never tried using Bexley’s search facility.
Maybe I am being far too picky again, but councillor Campbell has in the past advocated shaming those who make FOI requests by putting names and addresses on the council website. He was anxious to curtail the activities of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group who were accused of making the bulk of all requests. The statistics that became available last night show that claim up for what it is. When someone suggested to him after the meeting that the restriction on questions to council wasn’t doing the FOI budget any favours, I’m told he stormed off with the words “absolute rubbish’ hanging in the air.
In what appears to be an amazingly accurate report, the News Shopper has given coverage to Olly’s incarceration due to the unwarranted intervention by a Bexley councillor, understood to be Philip Read. The Shopper has wisely chosen not to allow comments!
Occasionally blogging entails a whole load of behind the scenes work and at
present there is a rather large backlog of correspondence to send to various official
bodies; the Information Commissioner, the Government Ombudsman, the Met. Police
Directorate of Professional Standards and the Independent Police Complaints
Commission. The IPCC are already looking into the issue of
Form 9993 (Harassment
letter) by Bexleyheath police and their failure to abide by their own rules. I sent
off a relatively easy to write addition to my case this morning.
I attach a file obtained under FOI in which the CEO of Bexley council, Will Tuckley, asks 'Dave' to take action against me for making two statements.
You will note that the first is a metaphor which I took from another local blog and the second is a statement which I was on record as saying was not a good idea.
I would like to know why, if the first was considered a threat, the police ignored the primary source of the statement. I suggest it is because Bexley council were intent on silencing a critic and in reality saw no physical threat.
In the case of the second statement I would like to know why I was not asked who the original comment came from. I suggest it is because Bexley council were intent on silencing a critic and in reality saw no physical threat.
On both issues Bexleyheath police merely did the council’s bidding with no attempt to investigate Mr. Tuckley's malicious complaint, nor did they comply with Met. Police Standard Operating Procedures or even pay the slightest regard to them.
Olly Cromwell’s wife has come good on her promised phone call to update us on recent developments. She did not do much more than give a diary of events but I managed to glean the following…
Olly reported to Bexleyheath police station at 14:30 on Tuesday and as invariably happens at that badly managed nick he was kept waiting 30 minutes in the foyer. Eventually two officers took him to a back room where he was arrested for breaching bail conditions.
By then Bexley Magistrates Court was closed and Olly was taken to Bromley police station - quite contrary to what I was told when I enquired about his court appearance yesterday. At Bromley the Bexley coppers insisted on interviewing Olly which caused some dispute between them and the Bromley based officers including their duty solicitor. The latter advised Olly to give a resolute no comment.
The reason for Olly’s arrest was as forecast. A malicious Bexley councillor told the police that bail conditions had been broken. I’m not sure which councillor felt he could stoop to that level but I could guess. (†) If I am right he would not find it necessary to lower himself any further than his standard position. As is customary when acting to defend their paymasters, Bexley police unquestionably took action blindly without the benefit of evidence.
Because Bexley police interviewed Olly again the Bromley Court was by then closed so he was held overnight. No blanket, no toilet paper. He was told he was likely to remain in a cell until the trial on 13th April. One sleepless night ensued.
Yesterday morning Olly’s barrister eventually showed up and duly demolished the prosecution’s case yet again. Contrary to the judge’s comment that he was free to go, Olly was dumped back in his stinking cell and kept there until he began to make a fuss an hour later. For his pains he was emptied out on to the streets with no means of getting home.
It appears to me that Bexley council will commit any dishonest, disreputable or immoral act to keep their critics quiet. The gloves are well and truly off. For nearly two months I have been sitting on documented information about a Bexley councillor and on his or her own admission, if the correspondence and what he or she has been up to became public knowledge, it would make his or her position “VERY difficult”. Some might say untenable. I had my reasons for not publishing it, basically someone asked me to bear in mind the effects on his or her family life and I respected that thought. Sometimes I am far too nice. But my mood has changed. I am not in a position to deprive anyone of toilet paper nor would I want to, but maybe a few sleepless nights are in order. Maybe a wrecked political career is acceptable in the circumstances. If Bexley council continues with its attempts to put Olly in jail by perverting the course of justice, certain embarrassing facts will find their way into the public domain. Now watch them arrest me for threatening behaviour!
PS. If the number of unique visitors to this site had been two greater yesterday it would have exceeded the previous day’s total by a factor of two - and Tuesday’s was a 2012 record. Thank you Bexley council, your assistance in spreading “Dishonest, Incompetent, Vindictive” to an ever widening audience is much appreciated.
† Later confirmed by Olly Cromwell to be councillor Philip Read.
It seems this morning’s report of a trial by video link from Bexleyheath
police station to Bromley Court was not entirely correct, Olly was transported to
Bromley police station and video’d from there. My excuse is that the information was
provided by the Bexleyheath police officer based at Bexley court and my mistake was to
believe the word of said police officer. I have not been able to speak to Olly
yet but I understand he was arrested on the word of one individual with
malicious intent, and Bexleyheath police as is usual in these cases conducted no
independent enquiries and simply jumped when Bexley council commanded them to do
so. You’d think they would learn from past mistakes but a lack of brain cells
will always have consequences.
Today's Twittering and blogging did not go unnoticed at Bexley council. The six members of the public present at tonight’s council committee meeting - average age 70 years - were shadowed by two hired bouncers to make sure they behaved themselves. There was not a pitchfork nor a flaming torch in sight and Bexley council has survived to disgrace itself another day.
As I await Mrs. Cromwell’s promised call with news of Olly’s incarceration my mind wanders towards Martin Neimoller’s words about the Nazis
First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.
I have recently joked that in order to raise the website visitor numbers from its
recent bout of flat-lining it might be beneficial if
Bexley council or their policemen friends did something really really silly to
Olly. And now that they have I am feeling deeply depressed at how this country for which my father
came very close to losing his life flying a stricken Halifax bomber in 1942 is now in the hands of control freaks and criminals
little better than our then enemy; ready to take bribes from newspapers, murder private investigators, put a website entrepreneur
on an aeroplane to the USA or sling a blogger into a cell for swearing.
It seems my prediction was correct and in a few hours this morning Bonkers got very close to exceeding its previous record of hits within a 24 hour period. Pastor Niemoller’s warning has not been ignored. The Twittersphere is alive with Bexley council's utter stupidity. I have already had two press contacts. While we await news here are links to more comment on the subject.
Link 1 (Blott)
Link 2 (Free the Bexley One - Twitter)
Link 3 (The Skip Licker)
Today's scheduled blogs which one or two readers may be be awaiting will now be deferred for a day or two. I am afraid my mind is occupied elsewhere.
Cromwell has spent the night in a cell allegedly for breaking his bail
conditions. In a successful attempt to thwart justice being seen to be done the
case is being heard in Bromley via video link. Olly, in case you have recently
returned from the planet Mars, is in trouble for Tweeting the rhetorical question to his
followers, “What c*** lives in a house like that?” Have the police nothing
better to do? Is there not a single brain cell under that flat hat? If everyone
who wrote the ‘c’ word was held in jail the streets would be noticeably emptier.
Why pick on Olly? Couldn’t be anything to do with him “criticising councillors
on a personal level” could it? The police and council wouldn’t be that bent would they?
It is all in marked contrast to when one of Will and Teresa’s merry band published obscenities about me and Elywn Bryant and included Olly Cromwell himself. The police were reluctant to accept that crime by their friends at the Civic Offices, and as far as anyone can tell did very little about it.
As can be seen below Bexley council doesn’t like me saying that it has the police in its pocket. Do you think that typing a four letter word in any context other than one involving the police or Bexley council would ever get you into trouble? Bexley council and Bexleyheath police are all part of the same disreputable gang.
PS. Olly's court appearance is delayed pending arrival on the scene of his solicitor and barrister. Message timed 11:52 a.m.
to the disgusting individuals shown here who exaggerated their fervent
imaginings in order to quash criticism of Bexley’s disgusting council, Olly
Cromwell has been held in jail overnight and is due in court again today. No
other details available at present. Bexley Magistrates court is assumed.
The untrue statement signed by councillor Melvin Seymour is shown above. The ridiculous attempts by Will Tuckley to have me arrested too, for criticism, for inciting violence with pitchforks and for publishing obscene material which was in fact published by his own people are shown below.
I shall attempt to gather news from the court and report back later.
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.
I am occasionally shown correspondence between an elector and his councillor
with a request to make use of it on Bonkers. My reply is always along the lines
of "only if you are sure you will never again need to correspond with your
councillor”. You can be sure that the elector would be blacklisted and in the
police state of Bexley there is always the risk, if the words used were not
construed as friendly, of landing up in a cell where very possibly blogger Olly
Cromwell is at this very moment. However today I shall make an exception; it’s
always a pleasure to feature the ‘founder’ of this website, for it was councillor John Davey who
described Bexley council policy as ‘Bonkers’ while supporting that very policy
as vice-chairman of the relevant scrutiny committee.
And secondly he is refusing to respond to his elector already, much the same
treatment as I received at his hands when reporting (and photographing) cars
being illegally ticketed in Abbey Road three years ago. So my
warning of probable blacklisting is not very relevant.
The subject under discussion is the certification or otherwise of Bexley’s mobile CCTV systems.
Dear Councillor Davey,
Have you seen the certification, that the use of these cameras is indeed legal?
Dear Mr. B,
We have had this checked and we have been told that everything is legal.
Dear Councillor Davey,
So can you provide the evidence that states it is legal? Why has Bexley Council lost two cases which I am aware of?
Dear Mr. B,
I am quite happy to accept the assurance that I have been given, but I am not prepared to supply this information to anybody else.
Dear Councillor Davey,
I am still awaiting for you to provide the evidence. As my elected councillor I would expect that you would ensure that these camera cars are indeed legal. By seeing the documents.
I am happy they are legal.
You have failed to state how they are legal. Why have Bexley lost two appeals? Because it has no documents to show, when asked? As my elected councillor, you should be acting for me. Provide the evidence, not what you’re told.
I am acting for you and all residents of Lesnes Abbey Ward and of Bexley in a way that I see fit. I have a duty to ensure people’s safety and I am happy Bexley Council are doing this in a legal way. If you have any genuine evidence otherwise, as opposed to opinion, then send it to me and I will investigate further.
Dear Councillor Davey,
You requested that I provide evidence. Well that is what I have been requesting from you. As an elected councillor, is it not your role to ensure that the people that elected you are treated in a manner of fairness, along with ensuring that Bexley Council are complying with the law? So will you provide evidence that the camera cars that Bexley Council are using are legal and lawful?
Dear Mr. B,
I have stated my position on this a number of times. There is no further point in repeating it.
Dear Mr. Davey,
As my elected councillor you are required to act on my behalf, along with ensuring that Bexley Council are abiding by the law. I await your answers.
Dear Mr. B,
Thank you for your email. I believe the certificate is on the Council website. I have not checked this myself, but I believe this is the case. I am certain you can find the time to check this yourself. (†)
Dear Mr. Davey,
Having had many dealings with you, what have you done? I showed you how Bexley council were not complying with law! Remember the photos, no action taken! I would suggest you start asking Bexley council questions, not just going with flow! Do your job as a councillor.
Dear Mr. B,
Due to your aggressive attitude, I shall no longer reply to any emails from you.
† The council promised to put its documentation on line last October. They are currently saying it should appear sometime this month.
Yet another letter has come to light which illustrates how Will Tuckley tried
very hard last year to get me arrested for repeating what first appeared on another
blog. The other blogger was not warned. More proof that dishonest Bexley council’s
real intention is to stifle criticism, through perjury and false statements if necessary.
And the police go along with it.
The text above is an extract from the Harassment Letter issued to me almost a year ago. As you can see, a policeman - the letter was signed by DI Keith Marshall - decided that it was a crime to criticise Bexley council and the threat of arrest contained in that letter has never been rescinded. The case is currently with the Independent Police Complaints Commission because DI Marshall failed to follow any of the stipulations made in Police Standard Operating Procedures and CI Gowen, the head of Bexleyheath’s Professional Standards Unit did not notice that simple fact when he was asked to investigate before the IPCC became involved. However by far the most interesting question was; who at Bexley council decided that my reporting of their activities in too much detail was getting too hot to handle.
Eventually the Information Commissioner came to the rescue by insisting they reveal ‘who dunnit?’ It turned out to be our over-paid chief executive Will Tuckley. For a second time it appeared that Tuckley was intent on having me arrested.
Another issue that required the intervention of the Information Commissioner (IC) was finding out if Tuckley actually did report the matter of the obscene blog to the police. He had told me he did on 9th June 2011 but he later denied there had been any investigation. No responsible person would report an issue that serious to the police and then not follow it up. Something smelled. Something was being covered up again.
When Bexley council eventually succumbed to the IC’s pressure it could be seen that Tuckley tried his hand at getting me arrested for reporting the crime that his people had committed. Committing a hate crime against myself is a difficult contortion to make but evidently the ever more desperate CEO must have thought it worth a try.
The final question was aimed at finding out what in particular Tuckley had got upset about. This one proved especially elusive and the Information Commissioner had to come down quite heavily on Bexley council. He has referred Bexley council to his “special enforcement team” for persistently flouting the law of the land. When Bexley council grudgingly released two heavily redacted emails they revealed that someone - it looks suspiciously like council leader Teresa O’Neill to me - asked Will Tuckley to get me on a charge of inciting violence. The famous phrase used in evidence is the now notorious “flaming torches and pitchforks”. Take a look for yourself.
I had, according to fat cat Tuckley, “plumbed new depths”… for quoting another blog’s metaphor and agreeing with it.
If Tuckley and his scheming cohorts had been genuinely concerned about the use of metaphorical pitchforks should he have not included “Arthur Pewty’ in the accusation of incitement? For it was him who was the source of the comment; but perhaps reporting the neighbourhood watch coordinator to the police did not serve Tuckley’s devious purpose.
If, after I failed to support the use of petrol bombs, he was seriously concerned, why did he not ask the police to question me about who said it? The fact is that the two sources of those comments were not the owners of this website and pursuing them would not help Bexley council have a source of criticism closed down. So Tuckley’s priorities lay elsewhere and it was necessary to distort the truth to concoct a suitable story to bamboozle a compliant police force. The dishonesty of people like Will Tuckley and Teresa O’Neill knows no bounds.
I am considering whether a complaint to that toothless wonder the Local Government Ombudsman might be worthwhile. A council that spends its time distorting stories to try to get me arrested ought not to be allowed to get away with its crimes scot-free.
Click on any of the extracts above to see the full versions of those letters and emails. The blurring of CS Stringer’s address is mine, not Bexley council’s. The comment at Arthur Pewty now includes the word ‘metaphorical’. The original which is shown above did not. The author felt it necessary to add the word for the benefit of the none too bright leader of Bexley council.
good news… I was told yesterday morning that Brampton Road has been reopened after being shut
at Crook Log for a little over two months. Good news for those of us in the north of the borough
who have a direct route to the A2 again. Ominously the same report said that a whole load of cones
and temporary traffic light kit has been dumped nearby at the end Avenue Road.
As it is Saturday an update to the Welling Corridor photo diary is available. This time it covers Welling Way and shows how another route to the A2 has been disrupted. It’s beginning to look like a coordinated attempt to isolate us northerners.
The police have deferred Olly’s probable arrest from this morning until next Tuesday because of the unavailability of a solicitor. Olly does not know why he has been asked to go to Bexleyheath police station and the police in their usual off-hand and unprofessional way have refused to talk to him about it.
to the Bexley Times, the only local newspaper that did not
regurgitate council leader Teresa O’Neill’s lie that Bexley has the second
lowest council tax in Outer London nor the propaganda that says that it has been frozen for the
third consecutive year. It correctly says it is frozen for a second year and
steers well clear of the lie by not mentioning it at all.
I’ve said before, I came to Bexley in 1987 in part to get away from the Loony Left that then controlled Greenwich council. I recall asking one of the Loonies who went by the name of John Austin, how much it had cost to festoon every alternate lamp post along the main thoroughfares with a slogan about Greenwich being a ‘Nuclear free borough’ and hearing, if I remember correctly, that £40,000 had been thrown down that particular drain. At the time, and again if memory serves, Bexley had the third lowest taxes in London and Bromley either lowest or next lowest, so the attraction of crossing the border was obvious. Both were Loony Left free zones. But before long Bexley began to raise its taxes every year by slightly more than the London average and the cumulative effect has been devastating. Twenty five years on Bexley has the 24th worst rate of taxation in London with a council still claiming to be among the very best.
Recently I began to doubt my recollections. Some research was called for. The rates from 25 years ago have proved elusive but below is the situation from 1991. (Numbers representing position in the ‘league table’.)
8. Barking and Dagenham
11. Tower Hamlets
12. Hammersmith & Fulham
|17. Kingston upon Thames
20. Kensington & Chelsea
22. Richmond upon Thames
|25. Waltham Forest
So it looks as though my memory is not so bad after all. Bexley was fourth best in London twenty years ago and second best in Outer London, beaten by Merton by only £1 a year. It would appear that successive councils have wasted vast sums and that our deluded leader is living in a 20 year old time warp.
In 1991 the ’rates’ were known as the Community Charge.
Those following the Olly Cromwell saga and how Bexley council and its military wing are intent on getting him one way or another may wish to look at his latest blog. It is almost free of rude words so nothing much to be scared of! Maybe it is not only him, the Information Commissioner has squeezed another letter out of Bexley council which reveals how they have been trying to silence me too. There's no doubt about this one, it’s personal and it is only too obvious why Will Tuckley wouldn’t want it to be made public - as it surely will be before long.
Last December I reported how it was likely that care home wardens in Bexley would be
given notices of dismissal for their Christmas presents and sadly it all came true.
Now that the wardens are actually leaving their jobs the story is making it to the local news media. The News Shopper
reported the story
on its website and in yesterday’s issue. Avante’s chairman is quoted as
saying “We have been working with the London Borough of Bexley over a number of
months to try and find alternative ways of providing the service based on the
funding now available but without success”. Well he won’t succeed will he? Bexley
council made the funding cuts and when challenged will tell you they have the
overwhelming support of residents.
The Shopper tells how wardens save lives and gives an example. My informant within Avante says that it isn’t a particularly rare event. She also reminds me that while around 60% of accommodation is dependent on Bexley council there are some people who pay all the rent themselves and expect to have a warden - others opt out of the warden service. She hasn’t seen any sign of the rent being reduced or people being forced into the opt out situation.
The same source tells me that when Bexley council announced the loss of funding Bexley’s Deputy Director Kelly Gaddes told Avante to recruit wardens who would be prepared to do the job at a lower rate, but it seems she was talking drivel. You cannot get responsible people with some medical knowledge at any lower price. It's not the same situation as Kelly and her boss Mark Charters find themselves in; lots of people could do their jobs at far less than £167,000 a year but when you get near to minimum wage levels you cannot go much lower. Ironic that Kelly is supposed to have told Avante to cut wages when council executives won't even accept a petition from 2,219 residents asking that they should do the same.
There was a reader’s letter on this subject in the Chronicle last July (Page 3), click the Editor’s comment above to read it.
PS. Someone in the know has said that Kelly Gaddes is no longer employed by Bexley council.
know that the old adage, ‘innocent until proven guilty’ doesn’t count for much
any more, but being subject to legal sanctions after being found innocent is a
new one on me. The incredibly unjust situation is one that Olly Cromwell
finds himself in and all because he irked Bexley council by filming their
meeting just as Eric Pickles, the minister,
said he should. He was critical of
a few councillors, as well he might be, and for that they called the police. A charge of harassment
was trumped up for which no evidence could be found (the things he was accused
of doing were done by others) and he was found not guilty.
After that fiasco he was charged with typing the ‘c’ word, not directed at a generally identifiable person, just part of a rhetorical question to his followers on Twitter. To make a silly comment sound like a crime councillors Melvin Seymour and Sandra Bauer cobbled together a story for the police which at best was an exaggeration based on a misunderstanding but more likely is a lie carefully constructed to pervert the course of justice. Fundamentally Olly is due in court because Bexley council doesn’t like being criticised and councillor Melvin Seymour told the police that Olly was encouraging the posting of dog faeces through his letter box and revealed his address to facilitate that activity. He did neither. Melvin Seymour must know that by now yet he remains silent about it. I’m practically certain that Sandra Bauer does. In the circumstances you would be forgiven if the words perjury and liar came to mind.
Olly’s trial at Greenwich Magistrates’ Court, currently set for 10:00 on Friday 13th April 2012 is beginning to take shape on paper. One item is outrageous. “Please find attached a draft Restraining Order which the Crown intend to apply for be it a guilty or not guilty finding”. Its intention is made clear. “Protecting the persons listed in the Schedule from harassment”. Olly, you may remember, has already been found not guilty of harassment. How come he is to be formally banned from something he has never been guilty of? And worse, why does the proposed Restraining Order compel him to remove alleged harassment from his website retrospectively when he is legally innocent of putting any there in the first place?
Another aspect of the order is that he cannot contact anyone listed on the Schedule which, because you have probably guessed whose names are listed, will effectively disenfranchise him from the democratic process, a step some way beyond banning him from council premises for enthusiastically embracing government policy on transparency and open government.
The names on the Schedule number 63 and bear a remarkable similarity to those listed here. Presumably a Restraining Order will expire when that shower of self-serving dictators and money grabbing charlatans are voted out of office. I wonder if the 63 are aware of what is being done in their names?
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.
Lane is getting the
Bellegrove Road treatment
in miniature; complete with pinch points and rearranged traffic island. Bexley
council call it a “traffic and pedestrian improvement scheme” but the locals who
asked that I should take a look cannot see why the money has to be spent.
The obvious change is that the zebra crossing and its central island have gone; you can see the remnants of the road markings and a new crosing is being constructed 15 feet further along the road. What sort of caring council gets rid of one pedestrian crossing before constructing the replacement?
The new beacons on their poles are there as is the tactile paving. How moving it 15 feet is ever worthwhile I do not know but it is now right on the corner of Haslemere Road. The pavement has been built out so maybe there will not be a replacement pedestrian refuge.
50 yards or so to the north of the crossing the pavement appears to be widened (see photo gallery) and it remains to be seen if parking spaces will be reduced.
Local opinion, as relayed to me, is that it will do nothing to improve traffic flow. As someone who only ever passes through on the way to Bexley or the A2 I reserve judgment except that rarely is it possible to improve both traffic flow and pedestrian facilities and Bexley council’s track record for screwing up every road project reigns supreme.
Speaking of the A2 and screw ups. Those of us in the north of the borough cannot get to it at all via Long Lane and the route via Brampton Road requires a torturous detour which is sometimes very congested. I appreciate it is all utility related but does Bexley council not exercise any control whatever?
So Bexley council claims to have the second lowest council tax in Outer London due to some arithmetical fiddling with averages which doesn’t actually reduce residents’ bills. Bromley council will beg to differ - see extract from their website above. Bexley is at the top of the tree when it comes to deceptions and far from being second lowest, we are still paying the ninth highest taxes in London. There’s no getting away from that; assuming you are paying of course…
The amount of council tax outstanding in Bexley is nearly £18 million (FOI response) which is half the Strategy 2014 savings. I personally doubt that any of it will be owed by councillors but cannot be sure because Bexley refused to say whether any had been sent reminders, let alone anything worse. The Information Commissioner saw no reason for that refusal and has given Bexley council 20 days to answer or they will get yet another decision notice. A bit of me says information like that is barely worth having but all the time Bexley council’s priority is to keep everyone in the dark about relatively trivial matters one has to wonder why the culture of total secrecy is pursued so relentlessly. Something much less trivial to be hidden perhaps?
first paragraph of this newspaper cutting comes from the Bexleyheath Chronicle, the final two lines are from the News Shopper.
Nothing you read there is absolutely true.
Since Linda Piper disappeared from the scene last August newspaper reporters have not been a common sight at the Civic Centre. Presumably the papers rely on press releases and as we know Bexley council is not renowned for honesty. The council leadership did say that tax had been frozen for the third year in a row and that ours is the second lowest rate in Outer London… if only!
I accept that the intention was to freeze the tax two years ago but Gordon Brown scuppered that as indeed he messed up most things. One can understand Bexley council’s annoyance at having to raise an extra million pounds to fund the Freedom Pass in 2010 but their fault or not, the council tax went up. They shouldn’t claim otherwise. To be fair the council made that fact clear at the meeting but their press release evidently didn’t.
Rather more serious is the claim to have the second lowest average council tax. Average is the word on which everything hinges. Bexley is not an expensive area for housing so more of the housing stock may be in lower bands compared to many boroughs. The council is being careful, some may say clever, with its choice of words so as to cover the unwelcome facts.
Last year I compiled a league table of London council taxes and concerned that I may have made a mistake I asked someone to check the numbers - a tedious job so thanks are due - but it merely confirmed that Bexley is 12th on the Outer London list. If you were lucky enough to own a house worth (say) £150,000 pounds (20 years ago at the last valuation) in every one of London’s outer boroughs the fact remains, whatever council leader O’Neill may claim, eleven of those houses will enjoy lower taxes than the one in Bexley. Residents will judge the tax rate on what they have to pay, not some concocted formula to satisfy a politician’s need to delude the populace.
I’m not sure why they do it, bending the truth must be in their DNA. There is no real need to lie, Bexley council has in recent years, unlike too many of the last 25, done as well as any other. Not that that is necessarily good. I received an email this week from an employee about the dreadful waste that goes on his department.
There was an accident at one of the newly introduced Welling ‘pinch points’ this week. An unfortunate motorcyclist knocked off his bike and taken away in an ambulance. Five more photographs of the week’s developments may be seen here - with due acknowledgements to a local photographer.
I had planned to avoid mentioning the obscene blog too often in future but courtesy of the Information Commissioner
another significant letter fell into my hands. I don’t know
why Bexley council were so reluctant to release it because I can’t see how it
places them in a bad light, more the reverse. It’s been redacted but anyone who
has followed the case will easily be able to fill in the gaps.
I regard the comment by Will Tuckley that I may have committed a crime by republishing the blog as a little strange, maybe he was hoping to have the victim locked up as well as the culprit. The police accepted it was a hate crime’ and I’m not sure how I can commit a hate crime against myself and be arrested for it, but you never know given the state of the law in this country. Bexley council considers publishing rude words to be a crime - hence the Olly Cromwell trial - so maybe I could yet go the same way. However on balance Mr. Tuckley’s initial reaction appears to have been beyond reproach. It’s a shame that as far as can be ascertained he never made any enquiry about progress which would be rather remiss of him, especially as he subsequently denied there was any police investigation. None of that quite adds up but I’ll happily credit the man for at least starting out by doing the right thing.
last time this pair of Bexley council directors was mentioned here was on 20th
January when it was reported that Bexley council had
refused to let anyone know
if Antonia Ainge had any qualifications to do her job other than being the wife
of her boss Peter Ellershaw. The Information Commissioner had written to suggest they should
come clean and I suggested it might be interesting to see what Bexley council’s
grounds for refusal would be. Not very interesting as it happens. According to
the Information Commissioner Bexley council has said that “disclosure would be
inappropriate” which are exactly the same words used to refuse the
question in the first place. How did Bexley expect to get away with that? The IC
was unimpressed and wrote back to say that if Bexley belatedly comes up with a
satisfactory answer he will deal with them on an informal basis, failing that,
“the complaint will be dealt with via a decision notice”.
It’s mind boggling that the best brains in Bexley council can only repeat the words that the IC had already accepted weren’t good enough and think that it will satisfy him second time around. Those responsible are paid more than the Prime Minister. I hear that Eric Pickles was on the warpath about that again yesterday. Perhaps Teresa Pearce M.P. has already upset him with news of Bexley’s petition rejection. Mr. Pickles said “local authorities should also look at saving money by getting rid of the role of chief executive altogether - or by sharing one with a neighbouring council”.
There was another council meeting last night, only a week after the last one,
maybe a contributory factor in eight councillors not bothering to show up. The
main purpose was to discuss the budget. The meeting began as usual with prayers,
which I mention only because of the recent controversy, but careful listening
confirmed they are specifically Christian prayers and not some politically
correct fence sitting exercise. Mayor Sams felt the need to yet again trot out
his message about no form of recording being permitted. “To protect the public”
he said. Quite how an audio recording could harm the public at a meeting where
the public is not allowed to speak is never explained. Some lies are harder to
explain than others.
Leader Teresa O’Neill kicked off by referring to “significant cuts in government funding” and claiming that the service cuts had “the overwhelming support of residents” I think the question was along the lines of “should we keep the council tax as low as possible”. She said the council was currently on track with its savings but conceded the more difficult targets still lie ahead. Conscious that the increased parking charges are not popular she said the current charges were to be frozen for three years. That may well make the deal more palatable but then she went and spoilt it by claiming that Bexley had more parking places than any other nearby borough. She’s never been to Bromley presumably. It doesn’t really matter whether Bexley has more or fewer than Bromley, what matters is that we have a council leader who struggles to speak without straying from the truth. Deputy leader Campbell followed with much the same message and reminded everyone that Boris Johnson had reduced his precept and councillors’ allowances were frozen for three years too.
Leader O’Neill took up the reins again and told us that Bexley had been given the lowest public health allocation in London but that Bexley had “the lowest council tax in the Outer London Rim”. I don’t know how that Rim is defined but I do know that Barnet, Bromley, Enfield, Hillingdon, Merton and Redbridge are all on the outer edge of London and all have lower taxes than Bexley. The average of one fib every time Teresa O’Neill stands up seems to have been successfully maintained. Her deputy, Colin Campbell, then attempted to cheer everyone up with the forecast that another £20 million will have to be found after 2014 and the reserves weren’t good. £5 million when the Conservatives came into office and only £11 million now he said, adding, “in simplistic terms that is enough for about ten days”. There is another £3·8m. to cover uninsured losses. Bexley council doesn’t insure against everything which is probably a good thing. Why let the insurance companies grow fat?
Councillor Maxine Fothergill breathlessly read from a long prepared script, which in essence said “Didn’t we do well?” ”We listened” and “We made no significant reductions in services” were the most quotable quotes. Councillor Hunt made a similar address but more succinctly.
Meanwhile councillor Deadman (Labour) was chafing at the bit attempting to introduce an amendment to the budget. The Conservatives had achieved an underspend of £400,000 which councillor Campbell had quite rightly said wasn’t going to be blown on end of financial year froth. Councillor Deadman didn’t want it to go into reserves but instead give a 1% pay rise to staff earning less than £30,000 a year. The idea didn’t go down too well among the Tories. The amendment, seconded by councillor Munir Malik, was justified on the grounds that most employees live in the borough and they would spend their £270k. locally thereby boosting the economy. I wasn't convinced. For a start around a third of the money would go straight back to central government in the form of income tax and N.I. contributions which doesn’t benefit the borough one iota and what is left would be the equivalent of every adult in Bexley making one more visit to a pound shop each year, or maybe a dozen of them buying a new car. Either way it is not going to boost the local economy in any measurable way.
Councillor Deadman told us that everyone was struggling with Bexley’s across the board increased charges and staff should be shielded against that. What about the residents at large someone should have shouted, but no one did. Councillor Malik said that all the present financial woes are due to the Con/Dem government and that Quantative Easing should have been directed at families and not banks. I’m no fan of the present shower in Downing Street, but I do have a memory that extends back before May 2010. Maybe Munir hasn’t. The amendment roused the occasional cheer from the public gallery but not from me.
A second part of the Labour group’s amendment was that parking should be free for the first hour to encourage trade. Those who were at Boris Johnson’s roadshow last July might have expected leader O’Neill to back that idea as she was in favour of it (albeit only 15 minutes free) while fielding questions with Boris listening, but it was not to be. Every Tory was against it despite one of Bexley’s oldest shops (Nuxley Toys) announcing closure last week because of parking charges. In making his address, councillor Malik fell foul of the petty minded mayor again. As well as having a wooden hammer to bang, the mayor has a toy traffic light. Green : you may speak. Amber : you must wrap up. Red : sit down and shut up. Poor old Munir overran the red light by five or six seconds giving mayor Sams an opportunity to let everyone know who is in charge.
Councillor Gareth Bacon evidently had the same thoughts as I did. “£270k. won’t rejuvenate the economy” he said as he dished out the frightening statistics of just how far the country has travelled along Queer Street.
Councillor Colin Tandy rose to his feet to say that just because there was an underspend it didn’t have to be spent. “It explains why Labour governments always fail” he said. Councillor Tandy must be about the same age as me, I too have seen them all fail; from Wilson in 1964 onwards. On the other hand leaving out the word Labour would not change the truthfulness of Tandy’s statement. He strayed from reality when he said Bexley’s car parks are cheapest, “there is no doubt about that”. Craske’s indoctrination runs very deep.
Councillor Brenda Langstead (Labour) complained about Teresa O’Neill’s comment at the last meeting that the free Christmas Eve parking was paid for by strikers. She indicated it was disrespectful and showed O’Neill’s true colours. It probably does. She also said that parking revenue had gone down and the statement that front line services have not been affected is nonsense. A lot of what leader O’Neill claims is nonsense, just look at the news page of Bexley Conservative’s website.
Councillor Mike Slaughter retaliated by saying car parking revenue is not down - he has a different version of the accounts to everyone else - and got in a dig about Labour’s 40% council tax increase. No explanation of why the Tories didn’t give it back. On the best estimates the recent freezes mean a 12% reduction given the inflation rate. Where has the other 28% gone?
Councillor Perrior said the Labour amendment was “pathetic” and revealed for the first time that I remember that she is a business woman and not an impoverished single mum as you might believe if you read her letter to the Bexley Chronicle. A 1% increase was “patronising and not worth having”. All very well to say that when you are not on the breadline. “The staff appreciate what we are doing” or so she said anyway.
Councillor Don Massey made cringeworthy patronising remarks about councillors Deadman and Malik with some reference, which I didn’t quite understand, to the Olive Oil and Pop-Eye of politics. “You don’t have a clue do you?” he said to them.
Councillor Ball (Labour leader) said that if 1% is insulting what is 0%? “£3·50 a week is not an insult to low paid families.”
Councillor Seán Newman (Labour) picked up on the comment about front line services not being cut by referring to the safer neighbourhood teams and the loss of (three I think he said) libraries. He was of course referring to mobile libraries all of which are gone. Bexley council had sneaked through £7·2 million of stealth taxes and was going to charge £7 a head to visit Sidcup Place.
Leader Teresa O’Neill said the travelling libraries were not needed. Their biggest customer was schools and none wanted to pay for them. So they had to go. Does Teresa really believe that not being able to afford them is the same as not needing them? It’s not exactly a lie but it is disingenuous to say the least.
After that a vote was taken. The Labour amendment was thrown out and the Conservative proposal was accepted, voting in both cases being absolutely along party lines. Maybe we could do with some independents on Bexley council, as it is, meetings and debates could be dispensed with and spare us the spectacle of Conservative councillors being rude to Labour ones. Just because their economics may be questionable doesn’t excuse the derision.
The meeting wasn’t quite over at the vote but I had an appointment elsewhere at 21:30 so I headed for the exit leaving a public audience of (I think) four, not counting the council officials that sit among them.