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Bonkers Blog September 2012

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30 September - It’s the end of the month again

Bexley council’s long holiday from meetings has come to an end and with luck so will the Bonkers barrel scraping exercise required on some days during the past month. Within the next couple of weeks there will be a council meeting chaired by the pen-jabbing Alan Downing and a cabinet chaired by the discredited Teresa O’Neill. There have been some small breaks in Bexley council’s illegal determination not to answer any enquiries. Freedom of Information responses have trickled through - well I can think of one anyway.

Following the Communities Secretary’s Press Release last month
Pickles' Press Release
…and the change to the law which took place on 10th September, Bexley council rejected John Kerlen’s (aka Olly Cromwell) request to take a camera into the Civic Centre which given their unbroken record of defying Government guidance on openness, transparency and pay levels came as no surprise.

As yet I have had no reply to my own similar request.

With the publication of Bexley council’s accounts comes official confirmation that they have been lying through their teeth on all manner of things. Condemned out of their own mouths. An instance of that coming tomorrow. At the time of writing all the evidence is still on the council’s website.


Bexleyheath police TweetThe beginning of the month saw (based entirely on News Shopper reports) councillor Peter Craske have his bail extended to 16th October. His offence, Misconduct in Public Office but exactly what he has done no one is allowed to know. Bexley council will neither confirm or deny whether any councillor is in trouble with the police. “Leave it to us” say Bexleyheath police but for how long is not something they wish to talk about.

 

29 September - Don’t get angry; get even

Bexley's complaints procedureSo you have proved that Bexley council lies and conspires to extricate itself from its mire of dishonesty and a senior member of staff accepts they have done exactly that yet no one is prepared to admit it in writing. What do you do? You complain to the quarter million pound Chief Executive Will Tuckley; surely he will admit a mistake when one is made. No, Tuckley gets himself off the hook by labelling you “vexatious” which means he refuses to answer for the council’s crimes. So you write one final letter to tell him what you think of him.

Letter to TuckleyI doubt that many people will see the “calibre of the man” from a letter hidden in a file and probably it would not do a lot of good if they did, Tuckley merely laughs all the way to the bank. Far better I feel is to post it here. It tells a grim tale of council dishonesty but overlooking that I found it rather amusing. Click the extract to see the full version. It has been transcribed to text; that way it is going to be indexed by search engines. No point in effectively hiding it through use of graphics files.

 

28 September (Part 3) - Adults’ Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting

Councillor Eileen PallenI arrived 15 minutes early to find councillor Eileen Pallen already occupying the chairman’s position ready to engage in some good natured banter about whether I might be better off at the General Purposes Committee meeting. I declined her kind offer as that meeting did not offer the obvious attraction of councillor Val Clark’s presence. In the event I drew the short straw as General Purposes was all over by 19:55 and Adults’ Services dragged on until 21:40. Dragged being the operative word. What is more, councillor Val Clark’s questions were no more silly than anyone else’s. No that is not very fair. Val Clark’s questions were among the most intelligent and perceptive ones, outclassed in my opinion only by councillor Chris Ball (Labour).

Alongside chairman Pallen was a new Deputy Director in post only six months. Because of that I will refrain from mentioning his name, maybe being the new boy is sufficient excuse for a performance I felt to be floundering waffle. Fortunately his capable deputy, Malcolm Bainsfair, was on hand to answer questions. In my view all the council officers should be congratulated on answering questions at all. They are often multi-faceted and long-winded; the officers must have better memories than I do.


AlertsThe early stages of the meeting established that the number of alerts flagged up about vulnerable adults has gone up by 46% in the past year and “we do struggle with registered providers as we have no powers except not to spend any money with them. We rely on providers to get a grip”. It sounded very like ‘once the contract is in place we are stuffed’. Councillor Val Clark asked why the number of alerts was steeply up and was told it was due to better reporting. Councillor Stefano Borella wanted to know if there was “staff capacity in the team to deal with it” and was told by the new Deputy Director “there was always enough work to go round but I am not alarmed”.

Councillor Melvin Seymour referred to an earlier comment “there are problems at times” and asked what they were. He was rewarded with examples of carers who are persistently late on duty. Sometimes it doesn’t matter very much but if a patient was a diabetes sufferer the impact might be very different. Councillor Seymour’s waffle alarm failed to go off.


SummaryCouncillor Sybil Camsey said she was unhappy with the Deputy Director’s written summary, it “sounded almost complacent”. The Deputy Director “took her point” and proceeded to wriggle. Councillor Roy Ashmole said he was not enthused by the summary either.

Councillor Val Clark was on the ball when she asked why Adults’ Services were being administratively transferred to Childrens’ Services which (despite Teresa O’Neill’s fairy tales for electoral consumption) were labelled poor by OFSTED. The reasons, it was said, were wrapped up in the fact that Childrens’ Services were historically much higher profile and had built up “intelligence” and Adults’ Services would benefit from that. Seems odd to me but Val Clark swallowed it.

A brief aside indicated there were disciplinary proceedings on going in connection with the failures in Childrens’ Services. “Could that happen again?” “We can never say never and cannot account for rogue elements”.


EthnicityCouncillor Seymour drew attention to the ethnic mix of those in care - predominantly white. He was told that was because most people in care are elderly and at present the elderly are mainly white.

The Cabinet Member for Adults’ Services, Chris Taylor, then made his report. I caught that he had recruited a Housing Finance Adviser but his approach might have been more appropriate to reading out the Telephone Directory. Just a list of things he may have done related at the gallop. One was that he had closed the Ken Boyce Centre. No I hadn’t heard of it either.

Councillor Borella wanted to know how many Bexley families were going to be affected by the new benefits cuts. “330” said officer David Bryce-Smith. “70% of them in privately rented accommodation”.

Councillor Chris Ball highlighted the danger of putting housing associations under pressure. “We are squeezing people so tight their staff will leave.” Chris Taylor said “there has been no effect so far”. Chris Ball asked “has the quality of service been affected” and the new Deputy Director said “we will manage the contract”. Councillor Ball failed to suppress his laughter. I can’t think why. Maybe he remembered the blog of March last year. Maybe cabinet member Chris Taylor must be added to the ranks of council fibbers.


Councillor Sharon MasseyCouncillor Sharon Massey said the pressure on housing associations had “an upside”. She said that it can affect “the number of people who lived unsupported. We don’t always see what good comes of these things”. Take all the money away then Sharon.

Councillor Geraldene Lucia-Hennis, having got her breath back from running up stairs after chairing the General Purposes Committee, asked how it was that “people end up in sheltered accommodation when some are in full time employment”. Councillor Chris Taylor said “we need to map out the need”. He added that sometimes a housing association would allow it if they could get back a larger property in exchange. Geraldene said she knew of a couple who sold their house to go to live in sheltered housing because they didn’t like gardening.

Bexley council is changing its housing policy in accordance with new government instructions. David Bryce-Smith said there are currently 10,034 people on the housing waiting list and only 650 movements a year. Bexley is amending its rules relating to who is eligible for public housing. Not unreasonably councillor Chris Ball wanted to know how many people will lose their place on the list. “6,000” replied David Bryce-Smith. Chris said that by his calculations many of the remaining 4,000 would have to wait 20 years to get a house. Nobody disputed the figure. In practice most of the 6,000 taken off the list were never going to get a house anyway.

“What happens to a homeless family who rejects an offer of a house” councillor Ball wanted to know. “Is it goodbye, that’s it?” “Yes” said Bryce-Smith. “One offer discharges our housing duty.”

The new rules mandate the sharing of rooms by same sex children up to age 21, age ten for children of different sex. “21 seems quite old to share a room. Why not 16 or 18?” asked councillor Ball. “That's what the standard allows” said Mr. Bryce-Smith. Stefano Borella asked a question designed to confirm this ruling was chosen by Bexley council and not a central government imposition - and it was Bexley’s.

Chairman Pallen then raced through the remaining four agenda items. No one had any questions about any of them, so she brought the meeting to a close. She didn’t have a great deal to do as chairman, everything was very civilised, but what she did was good enough. Probably even Val Clark could have run this meeting without incident or recourse to Citrine’s ABC of Chairmanship.

 

28 September (Part 2) - General Purposes. Two for the price of one

Geraldene Lucia-HennisThe meeting started very promptly as it transpired that the Chair of this meeting councillor Geraldene Lucia-Hennis had been double booked and she was keen to get off to her other commitment of the evening at the Adults’ Services Scrutiny Committee. Given the general scarcity of meetings in a normal week it beggars belief that these sorts of clashes can ever occur. A quick check of the September 2012 calendar of meetings shows eleven free days out of the 20 available - what sort of incompetence is required to double book a meeting? I guess we should remember that this is Bexley council we are talking about so it should come as no real surprise.

The first item was the signing off of the 2011/12 accounts. Much more to come about these at a later date. An initial skim reading has highlighted plenty of material to demonstrate unequivocally the disingenuousness of many statements by councillors and council officers. The moral here being that any fool can mislead or misdirect but the truth will out - and you will look far worse when your false words come back to haunt you.

A mere 185 pages to consider packed with tables, assumptions, estimations, notes, explanations, audit recommendations and good governance points. How long do you think our diligent councillors dedicated to this matter? Less than five minutes was deemed appropriate and that included a presentation from a council officer as well. They must all be accounting experts, or perhaps it was all too much bother to drill into the detail and frankly it does not make great reading for Bexley council. So, perhaps the less notice taken by those with a vested interest in perpetuating the myth that all is well here in Bexley the better. Without a murmur they were duly nodded through - councillor scrutiny of the laxest kind.


Nigel BettsThe revised appeal arrangements for employee relations brought up a rare spat amongst the Conservatives. Councillor Nigel Betts was concerned about the costs to the council here but his Conservative deputy leader indicated that this was a dubious point. Councillor Colin Campbell – a caring, sharing Tory (Ha! Ha!) it would appear – claimed he wanted fairness and was not at all bothered about cost. And yes this is indeed the man who has Cabinet responsibility for Finance. Some of the accounts detail to come will show his laissez-faire approach to money management in more detail. I, on the other hand, was more inclined to believe his other point about bringing the procedure into line with other London councils as being probably the prime motivation here.

It turned out that this matter would probably affect less than one case per year so the fact that this item took up more than twice the minor issue of accounts encompassing over £350 million worth of assets and around £450 million of cash speaks volumes to this casual observer. The Conservative spat intensified as councillor Betts pointed out that councillor Campbell’s claim that none of these appeals were overturned by Members was incorrect as he himself had served on a committee that had done precisely that. At this point the Conservative Chair clearly felt that such a public show of disunity could not be allowed to continue and she wrapped the matter up by supporting her superior. I am sure she will be rewarded accordingly unlike the troublemaker Betts.

The final agenda item was a brief review of the council’s staff absence management procedures. They are aiming for six days of sickness or fewer per employee per year. The table supplied indicated that this target has been consistently missed every year since 2009 so what was being done to address this shortcoming? Unfortunately this question was not posed so I cannot give you the answer. This review was all about minor tweaks to the existing procedures – that we know do not seem to work at all. Supposedly it will streamline the HR processes. How this deals with the absence itself was not made clear and reminded me of the idea encapsulated by Nero fiddling while Rome burned. Ten minutes or so thus wasted on this topic.

The meeting was duly concluded at 19:55 with the chair swiftly going upstairs. Given the token nature of the whole meeting perhaps she need not have bothered with it at all.


Report by Nick Dowling

 

28 September (Part 1) - Where’s the money gone?

40% increase Frozen for two yearsThere is one part of Teresa O’Neill’s propaganda sheet that is almost true. The bit about Council Tax. Not absolutely true of course, that would be asking too much. Teresa’s claim that “Bexley’s Conservatives have frozen your Council Tax Bill for three years in a row” is another of her lies. Only a little one this time, for the increase three years ago was quite small. On the other hand the last time Labour was in charge of Bexley, taxes indisputably shot up by 40%. That’s what Labour does but the occasional reminder is not out of place.

When I was buying my first house along came Harold Wilson to devalue the pound in my pocket and Denis Healey had to bring in the International Monetary Fund. When I was raising two children Jim Callaghan set the scene for a 27% inflation rate. I recall buying Christmas presents in May because I might not be able to afford them in December and more recently along came Blair and Brown to wreck my pension and savings. Ed Milliband may show signs of having learned the lesson but I’m not so sure of his cronies. So Labour in Bexley robbed you rotten; where’s the money gone? The Tories are still raking in that 40% extra every year.

My guess is that the borough got so ‘fat’ spending it, it just cannot slim down, it enjoys spending our money and doesn’t want to set the clock back. Will Tuckley’s salary comes to mind as a prime example of wanton extravagance.

Inflation in recent years has hovered around the 3% mark which is what the Government’s inducement to councils to freeze the tax rates has been each year, so covering inflation has been largely taken care of by government. Has the cut back in the grant really been as much as 40% to justify hanging on to Labour levels of taxation? Why the need to cut £35m. from services to maintain the status quo on tax? Yesterday I got hold of a copy of the 2011/12 Accounts. Maybe after I have waded through it I will understand better why Bexley’s Conservatives are taxing us even more than Labour did in 2006. Once upon a time Bexley council had the third lowest tax level in London. Now it is close to highest.

 

27 September (Part 2) - Parking fines. Exposing Bexley’s dishonesty. (Episode 2)

Broadway ParkingThe disabled former policeman with a blue badge was ticketed for parking on a double yellow line on 5th August 2009. He wrote to Bexley council pointing out that the No Loading sign was totally obscured by a hanging flower basket and any kerb markings had long since disappeared. He also referred to the parking attendant’s promise to mark his notes to that effect and his own photographs.

On 17th August Bexley council replied to say that “an Authorised Officer has considered all the evidence presented from both parties, including the digital images taken and the contemporaneous notes made by Civil Enforcement Officer (CEO) BL286 to support the issue of the PCN. The [Authorised] Officer has rejected your representation”.

So here we have a clear cut case of there being no kerb markings and effectively no signage and Bexley council says it has considered every bit of that evidence and the photographs and the notes which CEO BL286 said he had made and has found nothing at all wrong.

The ex-policeman considered the response to be an obvious set of lies and, drawing on his police experience, believed it to be a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. With the persistence that only a retiree has time for he set about proving that Bexley council’s parking procedures incorporate the dismissal of all appeals at the initial stage whatever the strength of the evidence. He went on to prove that lying is the norm and along the way secured interviews with dishonest staff right up to Director level.

As this story will be spread over an as yet undetermined number of episodes, a cumulative version is provided.

 

27 September (Part 1) - Parking charges all at sea. A SWindle that Hurts Bexley businesses and residents alike

Barnehurst ward leaflet Big Fat LieBarnehurst ward would appear to be singularly well blessed with its councillors, all three have avoided the Bonkers spotlight for three whole years and my brief acquaintance with them suggests they may all be decent enough blokes. Probably that is why Teresa O’Neill sanctioned the use of such awful photos. Where did the beard and moustache come from?

One might also ask where the figures put out in their names came from too. I think a little comparison table is called for.

Before councillor Peter Craske’s arrest for Misconduct in Public Office, when he first hiked up all the parking charges and created the current surplus, Bexley’s charges were indisputably the most expensive for miles around - unless you chose to park in the shadow of the Cutty Sark in Greenwich. Since then other boroughs have raised their charges too but no other charges the same all night as Bexley does all day. A night out in Bexleyheath costs far more than anywhere else.

The places listed below were chosen at random except that they are all the most expensive town centre off street car parks. If anyone believes they are an unfair selection and does the research I will gladly publish a full list. Whether councillors Windle, Hurt and Marriner like it or not, they are a party to Teresa O’Neill’s deception - she is the publisher of the leaflet.


Town centres One hour mid-week One hour after 18:30
Bexleyheath (Oaklands)
Bromley South
Croydon (Central)
East Ham (Centre)
Gravesham (All car parks)
Ilford (High Road)
Maidstone
Stratford
Woolwich (Powis Street)
£1.00
£1.00
£1.30
£2.00
£0.80
£1.10
£0.70
£2.00
£0.80
£1.00
£1.00 (overnight charge)
£2.70 (overnight charge)
free (after 18:00)
free
free (after 17:30)
£1.50 (overnight charge)
free (after 19:00)
free (after 18:00)


Sunday comparisons don’t look good either. No charge is the norm away from Bexley which charges full price 24/7. I think it is fair to say that Bexley council leader Teresa O’Neill is guilty of a gross deception yet again. Oh, let’s stop beating about the bush, she is a first class mythomaniac.

I nearly forgot… Newham (East Ham and Stratford) may be more expensive than Bexley for daytime parking, but on the other hand their residents don’t pay for Parking Permits in Controlled Parking Zones. Neither do visitors. Bexley charges £120 a year and £20 for ten visitor permits - for how many hours of use, Bexley’s guidance notes fail to say.
Newham's free permits
After the 30 free parking permits more are available at 30 pence each.

 

26 September (Part 2) - Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee

I could get used to this new fangled delegation thing. Someone else posted the Sunday blog, Nick Dowling reported on last Saturday’s Parking Consultation in which Bexley council thought it right and proper to engage no Parking Department staff and as I had a prior engagement last night I asked him if he could look in at the Civic Offices to see what Bexley council was up to after its long Summer break. The following is his report. I hope you wrote it all down Nick and didn’t use a sneaky recorder. Presumably you were afforded all the trappings of a bona-fide journalist too in accordance with the new law?


As a resident concerned about politics in Bexley I had hoped that this, the first Bexley council meeting for several months would be a good one. Alas I was to be sorely disappointed. I noted a good crowd present as at least four members of the public apart from the usual suspects had turned out for the spectacle.


Matthew KershawThe main business kicked off with an item which according to the council supplied agenda was going to be presented by a council officer because Matthew Kershaw, the Trust Special Administrator at South London Healthcare Trust (SHLT) – the man brought in by The Secretary of State for Health to turn that heavily indebted organisation around – was unable to attend. However, contrary to the council’s written indication he was actually present and launched into a fairly general spiel about the in excess of £200 million deficit that the SHLT had accrued in the last three years or so and, as any fool could deduce, that this was not sustainable.

It always amazes me how these people can blithely state the bleeding obvious and not consider for a moment how anyone could have created such a debacle in the first place. He claimed to be working on a three pronged approach targeting internal inefficiencies; Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts; and NHS or other organisations medical service provision across the entire South London region.


Councillor Chris TaylorThe inevitable Bexley councillors’ questions were the normal below par efforts framed in such general terms that Mr. Kershaw was able to bat them back in singularly general terms. My particular favourite piece of nonsense came from councillor Chris Taylor, who after reminding us all that he was the baby faced cabinet member for Adult Services waffled on about how great adult services were in Bexley. I do not think that he actually framed a question but went on to whine about how hard done by Bexley always is by central government – which is another of the council gripes wearing a bit thin given that the coalition government is led by, and has been for some time now, those of his own stripe! I think he like many of the so called ‘members’ are just overly fond of their own voices.

Councillor John Wilkinson wanted to make sure that Scrutiny Committees in general – and no doubt Bexley’s in particular – were to be prioritised in importance when it came to feedback in the overall process. I am sure that I saw Mr. Kershaw stifle a smile as he assured the councillor that of course they had a valuable contribution to make. Still as neither he nor his Communications Director colleague wrote a single note about what was said over the course of an hour or so I think we can be completely assured that this particular committee’s input would not feature heavily in any future deliberations.

The most interesting statement I heard from Mr. Kershaw related to his admission that there was a yearly £20 million advantage to using a public sector financial model as opposed to the current PFI arrangement currently in place. Proving to those willing to listen – no chance for us here in Bexley then – that private is not always best and may end up costing much more than the proverbial arm and a leg. Anybody any ideas for some more outsourcing then?

In fact Bexley does. We were treated to some drivel about establishing a new service known as ‘Healthwatch Bexley’. Obviously our council does not have the requisite expertise for this so it is putting the whole affair out to tender and/or giving aspects of it to existing partners. Remind me again what all those highly paid managers, assistant directors and directors at Bexley council are there for? Still, the funding is not actually ring-fenced so perhaps they will try and take the opportunity to generate some revenue for another department somewhere in their bureaucratic machine.

Dr. Sarah Ismail, Consultant Community Paediatrician, and Elizabeth Bell the Children’s & Young People’s General Manager had been invited to talk to the committee about the Child Development Centre at Queen Mary’s Hospital. I suppose they thought councillors would be really interested to hear about their work and efforts. Unfortunately these worthies were rushed along and not allowed to show their pre-prepared slides. They will not be so naïve if they ever bother to come before Bexley council again.


David SturgeonDavid Sturgeon the Director of Primary Care of NHS South East London was up next to try to whitewash poor access to GPs in Bexley. It appears that we are not doing so well in this arena having lost some 25% of our medical practices since their peak and the third lowest GP to population ratio in London. Still no doubt that will all be reversed when our magnificent council gets responsibility for local health next year. Yeah, right!

There were no real solutions offered but I got the impression that a keep your fingers crossed approach coupled with plenty more planning strategies and papers should provide some crumbs for the borough as time went on! The councillors questions this time concentrated on the ethnic monitoring aspects of some patient survey. Councillors Richard Gillespie and John Wilkinson demonstrating their own brand of ‘one nation Conservatism‘ and parochial ‘Little Englander’ credentials!


Maureen HolkhamOur favourite Bexley council officer, Maureen Holkham, the Deputy Director of Corporate Policy & Communications, was in fine form informing us that her colleagues are diligently supplying the statistics required by Mr. Kershaw and his people to make sure that their decisions are well informed. Not a hope in hell then that we will get to keep Queen Mary’s Sidcup as a major hospital!

Councillor Ball managed to defeat her and her colleagues’ efforts in the 1st Quarter Bexley Status Report by querying a number that did not appear to make any sense at all. Holkham promised in her usual evasive manner to get back to him on the matter. When even she admitted that the NHS performance monitoring report was hard to read and understand - describing it as ‘work in progress’, being just a lazy admission that they all really should have done so much better – everybody was left in no doubt of the general level of incompetence.

My personal favourite error was on page 45 of the agenda “The formal tender process will commence in October 2012 with a view to a successful provider being in place by 1 April 2012.” With attention to detail like that what hope is there for this useless shower?

I think the meeting closed about 10 p.m. I was fairly numb at this point and failed to note the time as I bolted for the door - fully reassured that Local Government fails again.

 

26 September (Part 1) - More Spin, Hype and Incoherent Twaddle, coming soon through a letter box near you

Bexley propaganda sheetDoes the councillor believe that offering employment with no pay for weeks on end will make people prosperous? Answers on a postcard to Bexley council.

Rather more serious is the half truth about services being pushed through the borough’s letter boxes by our fork tongued Conservative leaders. What about the services labelled only ‘Satisfactory’? Councillor John Fuller was issuing warnings about the poor performance earlier this year. ‘Satisfactory’ is government code for ‘barely adequate’? If John Fuller was aware of the problems last Spring why are Bexley’s Conservatives making these false claims now? And was I hallucinating when I read Will Tuckley’s apology for the poor reports from OFSTED?


OFSTED reportNot exactly a glowing endorsement is it? Where’s the excellent and outstanding?

 

25 September (Part 2) - Transparently no serious intent

Bexley's top 100Bexley council  likes to tell us how they are always open and transparent and nearly every day Bonkers can show the reverse. Last year they made a song and dance about their internet usage being within their own Acceptable Use Policy - that means no one is allowed to look at Bonkers. They got themselves a mention in the Evening Standard as well as the local newspapers.

Upon examination anyone who was in the slightest bit techno-savvy could see the whole thing was a nonsense and a waste of everyone’s time. That’s my excuse for not looking up the numbers again.

However when a reader suggested I take another look, what did I find? Bexley council’s desire to be open and transparent didn’t last long. There have been no updates since this time last year.

 

25 September (Part 1) - Once a policeman, always a policeman

Parking issues are never off the agenda in Bexley. Yesterday afternoon I was speaking to a Bexley shopkeeper whose delivery service causes him to be zipping around the borough and neighbouring Greenwich most days. Parking tickets have become another unwelcome overhead passed on to customers and ultimately pushing business to other suppliers located where a less draconian regime operates.

One of his recent tickets alleges he returned to the same parking area twice within one hour. He asked for proof of his transgression and Bexley council refused to supply it. Next thing he knows he has bailiffs knocking at his door.
Broadway Parking Broadway Parking Broadway ParkingLast week I visited another parking victim who stopped on a double yellow line in Broadway for three minutes while collecting his takeaway from KFC. As he is seriously disabled and has a blue badge he is allowed to park on double yellow lines for three hours if he is not causing an obstruction.

The victim came out of the shop to find a Civil Enforcement Officer putting a ticket on his car. When he protested that he had a badge the CEO said that this stretch of road did not allow for any stopping. Where are the kerb markings and roadside signs asked the bemused victim. Ah yes, I'll make a note about their absence on my report said the CEO. It’ll get you off the fine.

The resultant case went on for a full two and a half years at what cost one can only guess. Bexley council chose the wrong victim, his feet may no longer do their job adequately but as a retired copper he hasn’t lost the ability to ask probing questions and spot a dishonest answer. The only positives to come from this shameful episode is that it totally exposed Bexley council’s dishonesty and will keep me busy for several days over the next few weeks.

The eagle eyed may wish to play spot the kerb markings and the lamp post mounted sign that Bexley council at first believed were adequate.

 

24 September (Part 2) - Another sham consultation

Parking consultationI was away all weekend and put into action my ‘what if the police carry out their threat of April 2011 and put me in a cell for criticising Bexley council’ routine so the weekend stories were posted from a volunteer in Welling. Being away meant I couldn’t attend Gareth Bacon’s Parking Consultation in The Mall on Saturday morning - so I sent a volunteer to that too. Who better than Nicholas Dowling who picked gaping holes in councillor Peter Craske's false accounting a couple of years ago?

Nick is nothing if not thorough and has sent me something of an essay on his foray into the shady world of Bexley consultations. Of particular interest to even the most disinterested of bystanders is that none of the staff on duty were from Parking Services. So much for them taking the issue seriously, they didn’t even make a note of the points made and could answer only the most simplistic of questions.

When questioned about the parking revenue surpluses going up again, as well they might after the prices doubled, no sensible response was forthcoming. When asked why Bexley council favourably compares its parking charges with neighbouring boroughs which only charge for ten hours a day instead of Bexley council’s 24, again the staff on duty were nonplussed.

Nick, unlike myself, knows how to use a mobile phone. It may well take rather naff photos but it does do audio recording rather well. Hence Nick’s fulsome report which may be read here.

 

24 September (Part 1) - Another B and C story

Business people who open a succession of companies only to close them a matter of months later are likely to arouse suspicions. How do they make enough money to start the next one? Do they leave a trail of unpaid debts? It would seem to be the usual practice and the son of Bexley’s deputy council leader and his business partner Ms. Byrne must know the game inside out.
Campbell and Byrne's businesses
Bonnie & ClydeWhen reports came in a few weeks ago that the owner of Bexley Cabs and former occupant of the Black Horse couldn’t be found I thought a few enquiries might be in order and probed one of his favourite haunts, Tenterden. The story there turned out to be much the same as in Tenerife and Bean. A trail of unhappy people.

In particular the owner of a former registered address spoke of chasing unpaid rent and how the Post Office keeps delivering mail to him from people who have lost track of the elusive couple and are without the backing of the waitress’s persistent parents. Maybe the County Court Judgment which one of the debtors has secured will serve to bring the Bexley Barrow Boy to heel.

Note: It’s all Bs and Cs again. Byrne Campbell. Bexley Cabs. Bonnie and Clyde. And presumably DM Investments is Dymphna and Mark. How long before this one goes belly up? (Barrow was Clyde’s surname.)

 

23 September - Must try harder

Bexley Magazine Page 25Maybe I am biased but I think Bexley council’s website is appalling. It is not nearly as nice to look at as almost any other London borough site. The Search facility is truly abysmal often providing 500 possibilities to trawl through and that Alphabet thing at the top of the page is often so slow for me (on an 80mb fibre connection) that it appears not to work. Sometimes it definitely doesn't, routing instead to an error page.

Even getting back to the Home page is not as easy as it should be. It’s the only commercial site I know of where you cannot simply click the company logo. Come to that it is the only site I use that demands the www. prefix. I thought that became redundant almost everywhere ages ago. But overall I would accept it is better than it used to be.


Bexley website failureBut what I think probably doesn’t matter much, what does the Society of Information Technology Managers think? Well according to Page 25 of the current Bexley Magazine they have awarded Bexley ‘Three stars’ for their website and Bexley sings its own praises. Good you might think and I would agree that Three is better than Two. However in true Bexley council fashion things are not quite what they seem. The SITM rates websites on a scale of One to Four. No mention of that in the magazine.

 

22 September - Lying Linda

Biffa BaileyCouncillor Biffa Bailey has evidently forgotten that only 18 months ago she voted to slash the aid budget for the parents of disabled children. They protested at a council meeting and some were crying but Laughing Linda didn’t care. The “changes to support for disabled children’s care packages” resulted in £200,000 being lopped off the budget over three years.

£750,000 came off spending on transport for pupils with Special Education Needs. It seems unlikely that that was purely an efficiency saving.

PFIs The Listening CouncilNo one seriously believes Bexley council when they say they listen and consult. They changed nothing of note when 45 residents raised 210 points about the Core Strategy. At the Budget Strategy meeting in March 2011 the consultation process was described as non-user friendly and the leader Teresa O’Neill and Chief Executive Will Tuckley failed to turn up at advertised Roadshows.

And why is it Labour’s PFI disaster? Who introduced the damn things to the UK? John blasted Major that’s who and last time I checked he was very much a Tory.

Bexley Conservatives’ recent propaganda sheets would appear to be almost unmitigated half-truths if not far worse.

 

21 September (Part 2) - Bexley’s ‘C’ words - and I don’t just mean criminals

Teresa O'Neill remembers Summer 2012Yes Teresa I am sure it has been. On mid-Summer’s day your cabinet member for Public Realm, Peter Craske, was arrested on suspicion of Misconduct in Public Office and you stood up and said he was resigning for Personal Reasons. No one will forget that in a hurry. Quite a Summer!

What is it about boroughs beginning with the letter B and politicians with letter C? First it was Conway, then it was Clement, later it is Craske and now, up in far away Barnet it is Coleman. Who next? Cameron?


Fire Brigade Union TweetBrian Coleman is another leading Conservative politician in trouble with the law. In Barnet, Coleman was just like Craske, whacking up parking costs and introducing phone only payment. Cafe owner, Helen Michael, whose business was knocked sideways by Coleman and Co. stuck a poster in her window against him and his policies and was promptly arrested by the Terrorist Squad.

It is being alleged that the cafe owner photographed Coleman breaking his parking law yesterday and she finished up with bruises. I thought only Linda Bailey was up for bashing residents but apparently not.

Evening Standard report.
Barnet Eye blog.

 

21 September (Part 1) - Silence is golden

Will Tuckley and Teresa O'NeillIt's become very obvious that the criminal protecting upper echelons of Bexley council have issued an edict that I should be starved of information. All my most active sources of information have been stone walled for the past three months. The ‘best’ Freedom of Information response in that time is the one in which Bexley council refused to confirm or deny whether there were criminal suspects in their midst.

It takes time for the Information Commission to get to grips with Bexley council’s renewed bout of law breaking and while we wait I must look for other sources of council news. However it is nice of Will and Teresa to confirm that Bonkers is important enough for them to set up more barriers.

Fortunately the post bag gets ever fatter, there will always be readers’ comments to fall back on. eg.


Those excuses about late/no payment are all too familiar. Mine were not about accountant errors but bank errors. If there was any possible thing which could go wrong it did including his account allegedly being frozen while checking if he was money laundering between Tenerife and the UK. Also I had similar promises of “I'm sat in the bank, looking at her screen, the money has been sent” but it did not arrive!

I wonder if he knows what is true anymore as he lies so frequently he believes what he says is true.


Now just who can he be referring to?

 

20 September - Feeling free to send actual propaganda sheet to a letter box near you

Danson Park leafletParty political leaflets are always good for a giggle, they tend to show the populace how politicians see themselves and allow the populace an insight into cloud cuckoo land. The one recently distributed in Danson Park is a case in point. Pride of place goes to the three Conservative ward councillors, John Waters, Linda Bailey and Sharon Massey.

Waters is a business man and on the council because it provides business opportunities. He has contrived that lots of public money is directed towards his family business and there is nothing illegal about that, but don’t kid yourself that he is there for your benefit.

Bailey is a rather more sinister character, famed for her claim that as a councillor she can “do what I like” and her ability to lash out physically at residents while doing what she likes. Mrs. Massey is pretty much a non-entity, on the council to boost the family finances but with a high opinion of herself. Her husband Don is the man who decided the 2,219 signature petition calling for a curb on the 6th highest local authority salary package in the country should be binned rather than debated. Now they have the cheek to remind Danson Park residents that Bexley has a “Listening Council’. That is far from the only lie being poked through more letter boxes than councillor Melvin Seymour could ever imagine.


Conservative propagandaAlways ready to put the boot into the opposition the Danson Conservatives make dubious claims throughout the leaflet.

I do believe the Labour Party put forward an alternative plan for cutting costs before the 2011 budget vote and when the 52:11 voting statistics took their toll went into an ill advised sulk and voted against the Conservative alternative. As I recall they didn’t vote for increased council tax, the government grant conditions effectively prevented that, but for a different set of cuts. Inevitably the Conservatives will imply otherwise.

What Labour didn’t do is propose increasing car park charges, that honour went to Peter Craske who pushed that through along with tripling the price of a Residents’ Parking Permit. I have been to all the relevant meetings in the past two years and only heard the Labour councillors pointing out the obvious. That the increased and 24/7 charging regime is hitting business in the borough and had reduced council revenues. Both Labour leader Chris Ball and councillor Munir Malik have made their views on Craske’s madness very clear.

Neither did the Labour party oppose modernisation of the council - I am assuming here that the Tory leaflet is referring to the new offices. The Labour line was to modernise even more with purpose built premises rather than refurbishing the derelict Woolwich Building Society HQ. Labour’s preference would have cost about 20% more but according to council officers would provide a 50% longer life. Those officers also said the cheapest option was to rebuild on the existing site so if the Tories were really keen on saving money they should have done that. But that would have spoiled their secret deal with Tesco. So secret that the public was slung out of the meeting when it was due to be discussed. Since then Bexley has become Tesco Town. With those in the pipeline and the Express rumoured for Sidcup, I think that makes ten.

More about that Danson Park leaflet another day.

 

19 September - Just time if he is quick

Alan DowningDeaf awareness courseAs advertised on Bexley council’s website. Good to see that the council is taking the needs of the deaf more seriously than the pen jabbing mayor Alan Downing.

 

18 September - How many crooks does it take to make a council?

The Freedom of Information request dated 20th July 2012, “Is Bexley Council aware of any councillor being the subject of a criminal investigation by the Metropolitan Police in the last 18 months. If so, how many?” has been answered a month late. Well not actually answered, it has not taken Bexley council’s new FOI man long to comply with the crooked inclinations of his superiors. He dodged the issue.
FOI response
That’s the personal information exclusion. Whether Bexley council is aware of a fact or a number is clearly not ‘personal’ so one must conclude that they have something to hide. How many crooks run Bexley?

The fact that there are thoroughly dishonest people within Bexley council is not really in dispute. We know that leader Teresa O’Neill and chief executive Will Tuckley were willing to lie to Bexleyheath police about John Kerlen and the flaming torches nonsense in an attempt to get him into trouble. We know that councillor Philip Read was willing to make up a story about John that succeeded in putting him behind bars for 24 hours; all Misconduct in Public Office by the standards of decent people, and we know that councillor Melvin Seymour is more than willing to make statements under oath in the witness box which are simply untrue. Total fabrications. Maybe Bexley council has simply lost count of the number of crooks under its roof.

That the authorities are ever ready to cover up for their homegrown criminals in not surprising, the police did much the same thing over the obscene blog enquiry. They closed it and said…
Police letter
The bit about “removed from the server” was simply wrong, or if you prefer, a lie, and when I asked for the date of the “vigorous audit” I was at first told that dates were “personal information”. When challenged at a higher level the police said it was “not in the public interest” to tell me the date of their investigation. Bexley council said that no such audit had been conducted. The council lies, the police lies, everyone lies to keep public figures out of jail. It may not be Hillsborough or Daniel Morgan but it’s corruption just the same.

 

17 September - The price of white coffee

A cafe in Bexley Waitress, cook, dish washer


Q. “When am I likely to be paid?”
A. “The money will be in your account by the end of the day.”
A. “It will be in your account by the end of tomorrow.”
A. “It's left our bank account; keep checking. It will be in your account any moment.”
A. “Your bank account details are incorrect and not recognised.”
A. “Are you sure your National Insurance number is correct? Our accountants have checked your NI number and you are not registered, were you born in this country”
A. “We have problems with our accountants. It is their fault.”

Following month - Mother


Q. “When is my daughter going to be paid?”
A. “The problem is trying to get her paid on the same day as everyone else.”
A. “She will be paid by end of the day.” (She wasn't.)
A. “The wages must be taken from a savings account and it will take four days to get to her account.” (It took seven weeks).)
Q. “What date will she be paid next month?”
A. “The 6th of each month.”
Q. (6th comes and goes.) “Why no pay?”
A. “There is a mix up with the accountants.”
(Notice submitted. Wages paid in full a week later.)
(Another four weeks) “The P45 will be posted to you”. (It failed to arrive. Eventually retrieved from cafe.)


All for a miserable £3.68 an hour. Seven weeks of negotiation to get the first month’s pay but only six for the next.

Note: The quotations relate to the statements made by the mother and as passed on by her by way of complaint to various official bodies. Do I have to say who the employer was? No, I thought not.

 

16 September - 635 DIV 10 = 63

Houses of Parliament
Bexley Civic Centre

Reader BM sent in these statistics for use on a quiet news day and I think the Bonkers Birthday weekend may qualify as that. Initially I wasn’t at all sure I should put them on line, for whilst we may have one almost invisible local MP we also have two hard working and helpful ones. But some research caused me to change my mind. Here are BM’s stats…


29 MPs accused of spouse abuse.
7 arrested for fraud.
9 accused of writing bad cheques.
17 bankrupted at least two businesses.
3 have done time for assault.


71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit.
14 arrested on drug-related charges.
8 arrested for shoplifting.
21 are currently defendants in lawsuits.
84 arrested for drink driving in the last year.


You will be relieved to know it is a myth. A near identical story with the same numbers floats around in the USA about their Congress. It’s a good job I always check out stories that come my way.

Much more likely is that Bexley council’s record, with one tenth the number of representatives, might bear some similarity with those numbers divided by ten. Why else is Will Tuckley absolutely refusing to answer the Bexley Council Monitoring Group’s Freedom of Information request, “Is Bexley council aware of any councillor being the subject of a criminal investigation by the Metropolitan Police in the last 18 months. If so, how many?” or their enquiry, made long before last week’s News Shopper report, “Will you please let me know whether or not the person referred to [in the News Shopper] as a 42 year old from Sidcup has been arrested for misconduct in public office was councillor Peter Craske”.

Something to hide? You bet!

Note: The vertical image layout coupled with two floating text panels is far too complex for Internet Explorer 6 to handle and may not be ideal on small screens. I may not attempt it again!

 

15 September - Bonkers is three

Bonkers is threeToday is the day when we should give thanks to councillor John Davey who, aided and abetted by his friend, councillor Peter Craske, caused this website to be started. Davey even went as far as effectively naming it by saying the redesign of a road near to my home was “bonkers”. Given the amount of work the site has caused I’ll allow you to thank them while I quietly curse them. I will however thank council leader Teresa O’Neill for easing my task by providing so many stories based on her lies, Will Tuckley for not having the sense to stop the loon charging up to the police station because someone criticised her and any number of sub-standard councillors led by the pen jabbing disrespectful mayor, Alan Downing, all but a few of them always ready to demonstrate their unfitness for their jobs.

Together they have all done their bit to firmly link the word bonkers with Bexley council and become known to quite a lot of people. The site didn’t quite reach one million hits in those three years but will likely do so within the next few weeks; I think it deserves to be given the rest of the day off.

Happy birthday too to John Kerlen (aka Olly Cromwell), 38 today, who has made Teresa O’Neill and her cohorts look like the untruthful lame brains they are. Humiliated them in court and now forcing them into yet another defiant conflict with the Department for Communities. Will they ever see that always taking the undemocratic route will eventually bring about their downfall?

 

14 September (Part 2) - Team GB floats some ideas

Bexley tickets the disabledI didn’t get around to reading councillor Gareth Bacon’s consultation paper on parking until yesterday and I recommend you have a look too, for in it are floated a number of ideas about the future of car parking facilities in Bexley. It is an easy enough read and remarkably free of Craskeisms. A lonely example still exists, the comparison of the cost of parking next to Greenwich’s Maritime Museum with Bexley’s shopping centres. As everyone knows, Greenwich Town Centre is not a shopping area at all, it is one of London’s foremost tourist spots.

Councillor Bacon raises the possibility of flogging off the car parks, closing some and banning street parking. On the other hand he considers preferential charging for Bexley residents and a hint of flexibility over the unpopular phone only parking scheme. Needless to say there is nothing to suggest that council leader Teresa O’Neill wasn’t lying when she said at the Boris Johnson roadshow that she would take away the idea of a 15 minute grace period to help save small shops. No one will be surprised at that.

At a south coast town I used to visit often in the 1990s residents used a cardboard clock like those issued to the disabled to help prioritise the car parks for locals but I suppose that is not high tech enough for Bexley. Whatever your view on parking take a look at the council’s website and let them know your views. The number of people who took part in the Strategy 2014 consultation (the cuts) was pathetic and despite the fact that nearly every suggestion which wasn’t already on the council’s to do list was dismissed at least the suggestions did get on to the record and could be analysed. Give Mr. Bacon your views, he says he wants your opinion, it’s more than the 42 year old from Sidcup ever did before imposing phone only parking.


Adjudicator defiedFor the source of the picture above, see the News Shopper report. Bexley’s finest is ticketing a bus for the disabled. One optimist (goldenbroomboy) has commented that the Parking Adjudicator might recommend to Bexley they waive the ticket. It didn’t do any good last time. (See also News Shopper’s report of Bexley’s defiance of the Parking Adjudicator.)

 

14 September (Part 1) - Birds of a feather

Teresa O'Neill, leader of Bexley councilIt doesn’t take a genius to work out that I think the leader of Bexley council is a thoroughly dishonest woman. Police records show she reported Olly Cromwell and me to the police for repeating (or not repeating in Olly’s case) a metaphor used on another website without so much as a warning to the original author. Documents held by the Bexley Council Monitoring Group reveal how the leader refused to report misuse of a council credit card by her predecessor to the police. Recently she claimed at a council meeting that cabinet member Peter Craske resigned that post for Personal reasons but the News Shopper has revealed he resigned three days after his arrest for Misconduct in Public Office. Nothing personal at all.

Then there are all the little day to day lies and subterfuges. Filibustering question time, almost certainly sanctioning Melvin Seymour’s false claims that very nearly put Olly Cromwell behind bars. You can see why I think Teresa O’Neill is no stranger to dishonesty and that she is ably supported by her closest political colleagues and the Chief Executive. He is no better, denying that the police have investigated crimes by Bexley council when the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming.


Blog entry While searching for more evidence I found this on the Barnehurst based website Name ‘n’ Shame. N&S has been around a long time and when I started Bonkers I went to see the author to see what I might be letting myself in for. I’ve only met the man twice since then but we exchange the occasional email. I sent him another one to see if he had any way of contacting the author of that intriguing comment. He did and eventually I was able to discuss the issue with ‘Anon of London’. This is what he said - edited for brevity.


Clement used to be the Assistant General Manager at [name of company] in Charlton when it was far more successful than it is currently. The company had its suspicions aroused and the Head Office audit team carried out a snap audit. It revealed that Clement had claimed or been forwarded circa £700 of expenses which were unaccounted for.

Rules allowed for 48 hours for accounts to be settled or invoices to be submitted but these had been outstanding for some months. The national Head of Personnel had conveniently accompanied the auditors and gave Clement four hours to return home and provide the receipts he said were there or the cash sum to balance matters. Clement was unable to do so (despite the pinks shirts and expensive suits he didn't have the proverbial pot to piss in) and an investigative meeting was held and a disciplinary called for the following day.

During the disciplinary Clement brought forth a litany of excuses and ever more fantastic scenarios which might explain why he could not provide the proof of expenditure and then he asked for a recess. During the recess he submitted his resignation which was accepted on the proviso that any outstanding amount would be deducted from his outstanding salary. He lost his company car was retrieved the following morning.

Within two weeks he was on Bexleyheath Broadway as bold as brass canvassing for the Conservatives.

Subsequent investigations revealed that he had left his previous employers (a supermarket chain) under a similar deal after a misunderstanding which allegedly saw a huge quantity of wines and spirits marked down for clearance and purchased by Mr. C. and his friends. The excuse was that the beverages were approaching their sell by date!

Ian Clement subsequently worked for the Post Office delivering post in the Belvedere area but I understand that role ended when his employment history became known. Fortunately Bexley council came along to save him.

Needless to say it came as no surprise when the allegations at both Bexley and the mayor’s office emerged. I will happily verify anything I have said.


Interview with Ian ClementSo the former leader of Bexley council had ‘form’ and Teresa O’Neill, his deputy and fellow member of the local Conservative Club, didn’t have a clue of his character or what he was up to under her nose until he was caught out by a complaint to the police by Mick Barnbrook of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group. Is that appallingly bad judgment or another fib?

Click second image for Name ‘n’ Shame. Click third for source of that interview.

 

13 September (Part 2) - Freedom of Information Requests

Alan Downing, mayor of BexleyI’ve never made a Freedom of Information Request to Bexley council but from watching others I do know what the procedure is. Probably the easiest way is to ask the question on line and then in the good old days John Grosvenor would acknowledge it and eventually relay the council’s excuse for not responding within 20 days. But John has now left the council and things have taken a turn for the worse. Will Tuckley in particular is not answering anything.

Over the past three months Tuckley has failed to respond to a request for his business diary for May - now with the Information Commissioner - or for June. There has been no response to a five week old complaint against the council’s legal officer, Akin Alabi or to a three week old complaint about the finger jabbing mayor, Alan Downing. Finally there has been no response to a complaint about Tuckley himself for not answering any of the aforesaid FOIs and complaints. But I suppose he has a lot on his plate given the amount of trouble Bexley council is in. When will any of them remember that honesty is the best policy?

You’d think that things couldn’t get any worse but John Grosvenor has been replaced by Mr. Ola Sunmonu who either through incompetence or direction from above has changed the system. He doesn’t bother to send an acknowledgement so FOI questioners get a reference number generated by the council’s website but no confirmation of the date and no proof the question reached the responsible officer. It’s too early to say if it is another of Bexley council’s crafty dodges to hamper enquiries or whether Mr. Sunmonu hasn’t given sufficient thought to his job.

 

13 September (Part 1) - If it looks too good to be true, it probably is

A reader tells me I didn’t look hard enough for the author of the Star Letter featured yesterday. A Bob Bedwell, and I doubt there are many of them in Sidcup, stood for election to Bexley council in both 2006 and 2010. So was the letter in praise of the owner of Cafe Blanco a bit of ‘insider dealing’? The flaw in the argument is that Bob Bedwell stood for the Labour Party and one might have guessed that the cafe owner linked as she is to the Campbells would be inclined the other way. But when did that stop a political hook up of convenience? Surely you’ve not forgotten Sandra Bauer (Labour) and Melvin Seymour (Conservative) who worked so hard at stitching up Olly Cromwell?

I am also reminded that my reference to the Campbells and the pub in Bean did not reveal a lot even after linking back to the July blog. Time to come clean.

In front of me is a file of papers, some on Dartford council notepaper, others relating to the County Court, one from the Guild of Master Victuallers, another from the drink wholesaler Maison Maurice and some bearing the signature of Mark Campbell of Bexley Cabs fame.


The Black Horse Inn, BeanThe situation appears to be that the landlady of the Black Horse in Bean got herself into serious debt and had to get someone to take over her lease and the debts. The Campbells rode to the rescue. Mark and his father, Colin Campbell the deputy leader of Bexley council, are both recorded as being involved both before and after the takeover.

By all accounts Mark Campbell made a pretty decent job of running the pub and the outgoing landlady should have been happy. However she had made one very silly mistake. So anxious was she to get away from the stress of managing a debt ridden business that she allowed the Campbell takeover before the dotted line was signed. With a foot firmly across the threshold no signature was ever forthcoming, nor was the money. Meanwhile Mark Campbell improved the pub, spending money on its fabric and turning it into a profitable business. Bad as that might be for the landlady, debts continued to pile up and the debtors were knocking at the door of an outwardly successful pub. Eventually the new ‘owner’ walked away and guess who was left with the additional debt? None other than the original landlady who, without the requisite signature was still the legal leaseholder.

In law the Campbells have probably not done a thing wrong. They gallantly offered to take over a pub, they improved it and presumably took a little reward for their efforts. How very unfortunate that the bills were ignored. When the game was up they moved on. Nothing wrong with helping someone out for a while is there? Nice people.

The landlady is now much further in debt than she ever was before and the leaseholder is breathing down her neck and not the Campbell’s. All because she thought she had found some good Samaritans and ignored the advice to not allow Mark Campbell in before he paid.

The file includes some interesting witness statements which I should point out have not been tested in court.


• The landlady claims the agreed price for the lease was £80,000 and that the debts to be paid amounted to £66,000.
• A letter signed Mark Campbell accepts the agreed price was £80,000. (The money is said to have been due to come from the sale of property in Spain.)
• The landlady claims that Mark Campbell failed to pay the brewery anything for a minimum of four months.
• The Master Victuallers confirm that Mark Campbell took over the lease but failed to sign for it and that they advised against it.
• The drink industry supplier Maison Maurice confirms that Mark Campbell did not pay their bills and that cheques bounced.
• The local postmaster who had loaned the cost of a new boiler states he was given a cheque only after a four month delay and then had a phone call saying he must not present it.


Maybe the salesman from Maison Maurice was right when he wrote “I have been in the licenced trade for over 40 years and I have never met such a lying duplicitous person as Mark Campbell. He owes money to several people who believed his lies and it cost them dear. He is a total con man”.

Mark Campbell had earlier tried to take over another Black Horse Inn. The one in Sidcup that was demolished to make way for a Waitrose store that never was. The deal with Campbell fell through when the owners decided to sell its Sidcup premises to developers.

 

12 September (Part 2) - “Compassion”? Don’t be naive. Exploitation perhaps but not compassion

News Shopper

When I read this letter in the News Shopper on 27th June my suspicious mind immediately said “plant”. It was near certain that the “newly established cafe” in Bexley village was Cafe Blanco which has direct links to the Campbell family, Bexley Cabs and through both, Bexley council.

The cafe owner, Dymphna Byrne, had made the planning application for Bexley Cabs and I was in no mood to take anything about the cafe at face value. Could the Shopper’s Star Letter in praise of Cafe Blanco’s owner really be entirely genuine and without ulterior motive? I doubted it but all efforts to find a link between the Campbells and the author came to nothing. I concluded that the letter had been submitted in all innocence and have no reason to change my mind even now.

A month after that letter was published a telephone call from a regular contributor said that the young ladies who had been employed by the cafe owner had never been paid. I’m careful about things like that, the message may well have come from a trusted source but I really needed to speak to those directly involved before going with such a story. And now I have; and the report was true.

There have been so many stories involving the Campbells and their business deals that the ‘funny business’ begins to look like more than coincidence. There was the villa in Tenerife, the pub in Bean, the strange goings on at Bexley Barbers and Bexley Cabs. And now this latest episode. Pick up any Bexley council related stone, find something distasteful underneath. Watch this space, more details another day.

Scrolling images (as above) do not work in Internet Explorer 6.

 

12 September (Part 1) - Two wheels. How many cranks?

Child cyclingAspiring Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendletons can sign up for cycle training with Bexley council but for the second time in as many months I’ve been emailed with an account of some dissatisfaction with it.

There is a government and London mayor set target for a reduction in the number of children involved in serious biking accidents and Bexley hasn’t been achieving it. The actual numbers aren’t huge averaging one every couple of months, but Bexley’s failure is that there has been no reduction. Last month’s report said that two skilled members of the training team had been dismissed for criticising the programme. As I said at the time, unless you are there and involved it is impossible to know the whole truth but Bexley council has previous for dismissing whistleblowers and one might reasonably add, prosecuting and banning critics. All problems must be hidden from view, it is the way they operate.

The latest criticism reaching me is that young cyclists are allowed out on the road largely unsupervised. The accusation is that at least one trainer admits to not being a cyclist, just someone who has taken a course with little or no practical experience. Perhaps more worrying is the report that trainers can be up to 200 metres from their young charges while riding along with a mobile phone to their ear. Small children have as a result become ‘lost’ and returned home crying.

Without photographs or additional eye witnesses that may be hard to validate but a plea by one concerned parent to others is to request knowledge of any similar reported problems to be sent in via a note on the Contact page - or maybe send the details to the responsible Deputy Director, Mike Frizoni, and merely note that fact on the Contact page. If you don’t do that the complaint will most likely be brushed off as the voice of a ‘lone crank’. No one at Bexley council can be trusted.

The faded photograph is from 1978. The caption from Bexley’s web page.

 

11 September (Part 2) - Back to the mundane. Parking issues

Parking enforcement - requirements scheduleWith both councillor Peter Craske and Notomob mere shadows of their former selves the subject of parking has taken something of a back seat but it remains a drag on the borough’s businesses and ultimately its economy and prosperity. A number of documents have recently come my way about Bexley council’s relationship with their parking service provider.

The so called Pricing Schedule told the contractor what the council expected of it before bidding for the contract. Click here to read. (pdf)

Another document answers the contractors consequential questions. Click here to read. (pdf)

The Code of Practice details how Bexley and the contractor are supposed to conduct their affairs. Probably worth a look if you ever get a ticket. Click here to read. (pdf)

Permanent links to these documents are provided from the Site map.

 

11 September (Part 1) - Everyone loves a scandal

News shopper reportIt’s not often that councillor Peter Craske does anything worthwhile but boosting yesterday’s site visitors to the highest level since Olly Cromwell triumphed over Bexley council’s lies a month ago deserves recognition. Reporter Jim Palmer’s  News Shopper story was their ‘most shared’ too. There’s probably a lot of people out there rubbing their hands together gleefully and wondering what Craske may have done - apart from ripping off motorists with his false accounting for Residents’ Parking Permits.

The following is necessarily speculative but the obscene blog investigation went nowhere in the first six months when the police seemed more interested in protecting Bexley council that chasing a criminal. Following that (February) there was a clear reference to the time it takes to work through the police department that liaises with Google and for forensic experts to check over computers. But seven and a half months? Surely that is pushing credulity a bit?

In an email to the investigating officer last Friday I said that I could see only two reasons for the further delay until October. I suggested he was either messing us around or he was on to something big. Or as I put it only slightly more politely, “you are under pressure to find a way out for your suspect/s but as time goes by that looks less likely as there are quick and obvious escape routes at your disposal, or that you are pursuing enquiries that go beyond the initial complaint”. True to form the policeman refused to comment.

Fifteen months in total to pursue one homophobic hate crime. There must be more to it than meets the eye. It would be good if councillor Peter Craske turned out to be the obscene blogger. We might be rid of one nasty individual but it might also expose leader Teresa O’Neill and Will Tuckley’s denial that were involved in the removal of the obscene blog only a couple of hours after they were informed of it. And the denial that there had been any police investigation into it involving Bexley council.

Click image for News Shopper report.

 

10 September (Part 3) - News Shopper says Peter Craske “at the centre of a police probe”

Search engine keywordsNews Shopper 4th July 2012As the web analytics reveal, people are searching for news on councillor Peter Craske. The screen grab shown was taken around 8 a.m. this morning, long before the latest News Shopper report went on line. Behind that entry at No. 3 there were seven more similarly worded Craske searches.

I don’t know where the News Shopper got its information from, it wasn’t from me but they are presumably very sure of their facts. I think it is likely that they communicate with the Met’s Press Office and I imagine that readers will be linking the Shopper’s report with what has been said here about Bexleyheath police’s 15 month old investigation into Bexley council’s obscene blog. I must point out in my usual pedantic way that there is no proven link between the Shopper’s report and my own.

Whilst the Shopper may communicate with the police Press Office, the investigation team appears not to know the meaning of the word. They get in touch with Elwyn Bryant and myself approximately monthly and tell us almost precisely nothing. We were both officially informed that someone was arrested on 21st June but have not been told the sex of that individual, an address, an age, the date bail ran to. Nothing. Not even the official reason for arrest. The nearest we came to that is when Elwyn was told the arrest was related to the obscene blog. I think we could have guessed that.

Since then the only advance has been that I have been informed that the individual concerned is now on bail until October 2012. They won’t even say which day. There has been a reference to more than one suspect but that could have been a slip of the tongue or an attempt to confuse the issue. Basically the police are keeping everything to themselves. They have their reasons and it is very frustrating to be almost totally in the dark but for the time being one must respect the police’s need for restraint. At least there is no sign of them giving up as the previous investigation team did.

So as you can see, Elwyn and I know almost nothing about ‘our’ case; the Shopper seems to know rather more about ‘theirs’.

Are there any known links between the two cases that the limited information provided will confirm? Only one that I can see; the Shopper’s man and our ’individual’ were both arrested on 21st June. You may assume that is too big a coincidence to be overlooked but it is I believe the only link between what Elwyn and I have been told and the News Shopper has reported.

I apologise for the pedantry but Bonkers always attempts to be absolutely precise. Someone asked me a few days ago if I made up stories about the content of email messages or what I have heard people say. Absolutely not. How can one campaign about Bexley council’s liars if there is the slightest chance of being tarred with the same brush? If something appears within quotation marks it is because they are quotations which at worst will vary from the original by no more than a word or two - and then only because my shorthand scribbling falls behind a councillor’s garrulousness at a meeting.

The Obscene blog Timeline has been updated.

 

10 September (Part 2) - Arthur Pewty’s maggot sandwich

Hugh Neal’s blog is currently referring readers here for news of Bexley council’s malicious prosecution of John Kerlan (aka Olly Cromwell). A better place to look would be the archived old Home pages. Click here and here.

Hugh has also referred to the rumours currently circulating about councillor Peter Craske. The rumours are in danger of running ahead of the known facts. This page may help explain things.

 

10 September (Part 1) - Bexley council says no to technology. Pickles stuffed

Ever since Eric Pickles announced that councils would be obliged to assist bloggers and the like to report council meetings, relevant forums and newspaper comment columns have buzzed with excitement from those who expect to be able to walk in to Bexley’s Civic Offices with a camera slung around their neck. But nothing is as simple as that. Pickles has an established track record of saying all the right things but never following them through. It won’t be any different this time around. He may have issued a press release including…
Pickles' press release
…but in Bexley he has a crazy council to contend with. No; worse then crazy, that might describe Barnet (†) and their policies, but at least they allow cameras into their chamber. Bexley is more criminal than crazy and I don’t just mean the rumours circulating about councillor Peter Craske. Don’t forget how our former leader Ian Clement went on the rampage with a council credit card and Teresa O’Neill refused to report him to the police. Craske, if he is a criminal, won’t be the first to be protected by Teresa O’Neill and her cronies.

Since Pickles’ announcement I have heard the full gamut of intentions on cameras and future council meetings. Some assume they can just walk in with their zoom lenses and others have sought official permission. I have aimed low asking only that I should be allowed to take wide-angle scene setting shots before a meeting begins. As yet I have had no reply but others have. The salient part is…
Paul Moore’s reponse to the question of cameras
The current rulesPretty much the same old diatribe from the self-serving suspected criminals and perjurers who run Bexley council.

Facilities for bloggers
As well as requesting the use of a camera before meetings I also asked that they reserve me a seat as they have done in the past for newspaper journalists. That will be a harder one for Bexley council to dodge, but they will no doubt try.

† Other Barnet blogs are available. The Barnet Eye. Broken Barnet.

 

9 September - Waring down Rita

Evidence bundle The only available view The only available viewA large package with a £12.07p stamp on it was delivered to Mrs. Rita Grootendorst last week. It was another copy of the evidence bundle delivered by hand in August by the despicable little council weasel John Waring. It should have gone to Rita’s legal adviser in Norfolk, but doing it Bexley council’s way not only wastes goodness knows what in photocopying costs and twelve quid postage, it will now arrive too late to be of any use.

While on site I took a walk down the garden which has benefited from the rain and warmth and I searched high and low for any spot from which I could see any part of Rita’s neighbours’ houses or gardens. You will have to take my word for it but there is only one spot that provides a line of sight to a window for each adjacent house. To get what you see here my lens had to be carefully placed in exactly the right position. From elsewhere absolutely nothing can be seen. The fact that Rita uses industrial food containers for her compost rather than purpose made bins may arguably be eccentric but it is not doing anyone any harm. This is a prime example of Bexley council’s trademark vindictiveness. Rita must be paid back for previously getting Bexley council into the national headlines. It’s a good job I have no need for council approval or assistance in anything I have planned.

Index to Grootendorst related blogs.

 

8 September (Part 3) - The Complementary Cancer Care Trust - Click any image for photo gallery (10 images)

Cancer Care Trust Cancer Care Trust Bird College BandWhile cutting through The Mall in Bexleyheath this morning on the way to the library I spotted a lively show being staged by the Complementary Cancer Care Trust assisted by a band from Bird College. No sooner had I got there than the mayor arrived. The band played a selection of Glen Miller hits and was extremely good.

To see what the CCCT can do scroll the image below or click it for an expanded version. Check out their new website.

Cancer Care Trust

 

8 September (Part 2) - Bacon and toast

Townley RoadCouncillor Gareth Bacon is calling for your comments on parking in Bexley. Yes I know that Bexley has a record of ignoring consultations, especially traffic related ones, but the widely despised councillor Peter Craske has gone and most people would admit that Gareth Bacon masterminded a pretty good refuse disposal scheme. Maybe the new boy deserves a chance.

I used to go to Bexleyheath only once a year, for last minute Christmas bits, but Bonkers business now takes me there at least once a week, but always on a bus. Motorists in Bexley can’t ever relax for fear of offending some petty parking regulation and incurring a massive fine; like many people I always go to Bluewater instead. And in any case, I don’t have a mobile phone.

The effect of Craske’s phone only parking scheme is empty parking bays. This view of Townley Road from the top of a bus at five past twelve today shows two vehicles one of which is unloading a wheelchair. So thanks to Craske, no revenue to speak of at all. Has anyone seen the purple pygmy recently?

 

8 September (Part 1) - Bexley’s most wanted

Top search termsThere’s nothing significant ready for today and I don’t intend to waste the sunshine. Work to do outside. To fill the gap I’ll show you the top 20 search terms people were looking for yesterday that led them to Bonkers. As you can see, Bexley’s major bad boys are most popular if that is not an inappropriate word to apply to them.

Some readers are linking a 4th July News Shopper report with councillor Craske. The Shopper said someone was bailed until last Wednesday and some have asked what happened. I have to remind them that I have no information that absolutely links that report to Craske. The police are totally silent about it and given me no useful information this week. However if you search the web extensively there are suggestions that that same individual is now bailed until 16th October. But nobody tells Elwyn or me anything and a 15 months wait and still no information is getting a little annoying.

 

7 September (Part 4) - Cash flow problems?

Camden RoadWhilst Bexley council hates the idea of opennness and transparency for fear that their incompetence and criminality will leak out, Mrs. Clark, their Head of Development Control doesn’t seem to have got the message. Some, perhaps all, of the complainants about Bexley Cabs have received another communication from her to update them on the situation. Mrs. Clark says “I am writing to inform you that the appellants did not pay the necessary fee within the specified period. Therefore the appeal on ground (a) has lapsed, the enforcement appeal is now withdrawn and the Planning Inspectorate will not now be making a decision. The enforcement notice dated 26th June 2012 became effective on 11th August 2012”.

What we don’t know is why the effective date of the Enforcement Notice slipped from 26th June but maybe putting in an appeal and then not paying the fee is a recognised delaying tactic. If anyone knows the rules Mark Campbell should. His father used to be chairman of the Planning Committee. It can hardly be that the family is short of a bob or two. Not if Village Estates’ window display is anything to go by.

By the way, I eventually found the Enforcement Notice on Bexley’s website. It is dated 9th May, reference 12/00205/ENF. That’s five weeks before the refusal and I’d not looked back before 15th June.

 

7 September (Part 3) - Reluctant to the last

Bexley TimesAccording to the Bexley Times, Bexley council is determined not to be open and transparent if it can possibly be avoided. It “would not be drawn” on whether they will abandon their ban on filming council meetings. Personally I hope it continues. I have no plans to video their meetings but the more Bexley council flouts laws the more I have to write about and the more likely it is that Bexley council will be exposed as the most dishonest council in the land. It’s a win win and once again Bexley council hasn’t a clue how to play the media game.

Click image for Bexley Times report.

 

7 September (Part 2) - Confusion and delusion

Will Tuckley's letterAs noted yesterday, the comments on the News Shopper website about Bexley council claiming to be considering the new rules on transparency and openness displayed universal condemnation of Bexley council. I found that encouraging, my motto has always been keep plugging away and eventually the message will get through. However one of the comments on the Shopper’s website said that Olly Cromwell had already been banned from council meetings yet again. I suspect this originated from a misreading of the extract from Will Tuckley’s letter published yesterday. Olly thinks so too and confirms it is not so, he is currently free to attend any council meeting, there is no ban and a judge has said a ban would be an offence against his democratic rights.

One of Tuckley’s reasons for the ban is councillor Melvin Seymour’s lie about his letter box being under threat. A lie now totally discredited in court. Tuckley wrote three pages about Olly’s alleged misbehaviour in the council chamber but he did nothing that would offend any of Eric Pickles’, the Communities Secretary, new rules. So Tuckley will be hard pressed to stop Olly attending more meetings and if he did you can be pretty sure there would be a big splash in the newspapers. Surely the quarter million pound chief executive won’t be intent on dragging Bexley council’s reputation any lower than it is already? But I won’t be betting on it.

 

7 September (Part 1) - “Bexley are bastards like that”

Abbey Road crash Abbey Road crashWhat’s so special about a smash in Abbey Road? Well without Abbey Road, traffic engineer Andrew Bashford who tried to bamboozle me over its redesign, councillor John Davey who told me he didn’t like it but was at the time vice-chairman of the Traffic Scrutiny Committee and councillor Peter Harold Craske, 42, who ignored every objection and formally approved it, this website would not exist. It was their lies that caused me to start Bonkers and Bexley council’s enormous bad luck that the report they used to justify themselves was written by one of my friends. He said they had designed a recipe for head on collisions though I would guess that this one was caused by the low sun which at 7 a.m. blinds Erith bound traffic.

In this morning’s crash no one was badly hurt, by the time I returned with my newspaper the cars had been pushed into the residents’ parking bay and two men in yellow jackets were clearing up. One said to the other, “If we don’t get them moved by 11 a.m. they will get a ticket, Bexley are bastards like that”. Don’t we just know it?

 

6 September (Part 3) - Bexley council ‘considering’ new transparency laws

So says the News Shopper. Tim and Jim have been coming up with a lot of good stuff recently and I can barely keep up. Yesterday Tim wrote a piece which nicely complements a two week old blog. I had planned to fill you in on what has happened since then some time tomorrow but meanwhile you may like to see what Tim had to say in his News Shopper feature. I particularly like the readers’ comments. Someone said that Will Tuckley has again banned Olly Cromwell from council meetings. I’m not sure where that has come from, if he has Olly himself hasn’t told me and he usually does.

 

6 September (Part 2) - Bexley council’s excess

News Shopper commentBack in August news came through of Bexley council not listening to a Danson Park resident whose house was being undermined by a council owned tree. A judge told the council to pay the house owner, Josephine Robbins of Radnor Avenue, £150,081.48 to make good their failings. But all is not quite as it seemed.

From a senior council source comes the information that Bexley is insured against such events. The insurer will pay Mrs. Robbins’ legal costs which are said to amount to some £400,000 and the interest on the damages will be another £23,271.94. The insurers are not going to be happy to be paying for what was in effect Bexley council’s neglect and incompetence. Not that you, the taxpayer, are getting off scot free, there is a £100,000 excess on the policy. Just watch next year’s premium rocket.

Mrs. Robbins must be admired for her tenacity, presumably a no win no fee case, but even so, if there were awards for tackling negligent and uncaring councils she would surely be a worthy contender.

 

6 September (Part 1) - Olly Cromwell and his petition

Will Tuckley's letterBexley council’s spokesman may be trying to convince everyone that John Kerlen is subject to a restraining order to curtail his democratic rights, probably Bexley council would be happy to see such a thing imposed on all its critics, but it just ain’t so.

The appeal judge lifted it and John Kerlen will be back; his ban on attending council meetings expired months ago. As you can see from the extract from Will Tuckley’s January 2012 letter, John is banned for writing stuff which makes some inadequate councillors feel threatened but which a judge pronounced entirely lawful. He is also banned for adhering to Eric Pickles’ guidance on filming and peacefully objecting to being excluded from a meeting in circumstances that would not be permissible under the new rules coming in next week. Now that Bexley council’s stupidity has made John a well known personality in the national media the latter will be eager to expose any further stupidity by Bexley’s rotten council.

One of the things John Kerlen has already done is to set up his petition website. I mentioned it on Monday but didn’t explain it because I was unsure of how it stood relative to the Local Government Act 2000 and the Localism Bill. It would take a great deal of time and perhaps some legal expertise to unravel that lot but I felt nevertheless I should be offering more background information than John provided on the petition website. Fortunately John has now remedied the omission with a blog on the subject. If you wish to know more of what he has in mind, then that is the place to look. It is remarkably free of rude words.

 

5 September (Part 2) - In the news

News Shopper 5th September 2012One place where news of John Kerlen’s trials and tribulations was both widely available and accurately reported was the News Shopper. Maybe that was because it was the only news organisation to send a reporter to each and every one of John’s seven court appearances. First Jim Palmer and latterly newcomer to the borough, Tim MacFarlan. Space limitations inevitably caused some detail to be lost but what they got past their editor was always spot on. However what Bexley council got by the editor ‘for balance’ was not. Two weeks ago I tried my luck at rebutting some of what the Bexley council spokesman had said in a letter to the editor. I did not hold out a great deal of hope for publication, unfortunately such things are too often boring to a public apathetic to the criminal tendencies of Bexley council, but to my surprise it has made page 16 today.

I thought my letter was short and to the point, but the editor thought otherwise and shortened it again, to the detriment of clarity in my view, but that is what newspapers do and there can be no complaint. However I do of course have a partial remedy; I can publish the original submission here.

Original submission to News Shopper
News Shopper tweetOn Twitter a few weeks ago, the Shopper’s reporter Tim MacFarlane commented on a favourable (22nd August) blog about the News Shopper and intimated I might not always take the same view. I don’t think he need have any fears and now that the Chronicle has gone it wouldn’t make sense to fall out with our one remaining local newspaper! Best wishes to Chronicle editor Bob Griffiths in what will presumably be his retirement.

 

5 September (Part 1) - Dishonesty. What politicians do best

One rule for them...All politicians are crooksPolls have shown that a majority of people think that politicians are self-serving crooks but make an exception for their own representatives. I am a bit like that myself. Only a bit mind; I think my MP is as straight as a die and my councillor is as straight as a corkscrew.

Yesterday’s announcement that David Laws, the expenses cheat, has been made a government minister says it all. The police are no better. As I have briefly mentioned before, a distant family member was murdered by a hit man acting on the orders of a police officer since when I have seen 25 years of cover up. Just a couple of months ago I had to watch a former Met. Commissioner blatantly lying to the Leveson Inquiry about the role he played in the white-wash. If the journalists now following that up succeed in their quest, in the words of one of them referring to a top politician, “he will be toast”. You can easily imagine how much effort will be poured into putting the lid on that. Everywhere you look the ruling classes are to a greater or lesser extent shameless crooks.

Here in Bexley we have someone whose name has not yet been provided to me, but widely believed to be a councillor, due at a South London police station today after being on police bail for eleven weeks for, if the News Shopper has it right, Misconduct in Public Office. It will be hat eating time if Teresa O’Neill and her scheming cohorts have not been lobbying hard to ensure there is no charge.

We know from the documents relating to my (and John Kerlen’s) Harassment Warning that O’Neill and Will Tuckley were able to persuade the police under the previous borough commander to go straight to the CPS with their bundle of lies without any investigation of the facts. That gem came from the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Bexley council’s malign influence has few bounds. Were it not for the fact that we have a new police commander and a couple of MPs have been prepared to offer support the outcome of the investigation of the obscene blog would have been a foregone conclusion. The pressure on the police to brush the case aside will be immense.

This week in connection with the aforesaid family murder we received some good news from the Mayor’s Office as to what their next step might be. The Metropolitan Police Authority and its successor organisation has always played a positive role. There is a lot to thank its former member Len Duvall for. However everyone to whom I have told the details jumps to the same conclusion. That the new development has more to do with political ambitions than justice. It may not be true but it may help illustrate just how despised the political classes have become.

Police statement
The above text is taken from a police statement written seven months after the event. The IPCC investigation revealed that it was but the briefest of summaries and a Freedom of Information request showed that chief Executive Will Tuckley was also intimately involved.

 

4 September - Bexley Cabs. An update

Bexley CabsBexley residents are still keeping their eyes on Bexley Cabs and occasionally send news of developments. Neighbours say that Mark Campbell, son of deputy council leader Colin Campbell, has not been seen on the premises for several weeks, some say since July. However the presence of the office and the cars are said to be causing problems some of which have been captured on video and distributed to interested parties. The nearby church has suffered abuse of its car parking facilities and one person claims to have seen a Bexley Cab picking up a passenger whilst straddling the pedestrian crossing which adjoins the premises.

Official word comes from Bexley council Planning Department…


Since planning permission for the minicab business was refused, we have been working closely with relevant agencies operating in Bexley village to monitor what is happening and what complaints/reports of incidents involving Bexley Minicabs have been received. This has included the local police, the Safer Neighbourhood Team and the Highway Authority.

As the attempted appeal against the enforcement notice served by the Council, dated 26 June 2012, was not validly made, the Planning Inspectorate have confirmed that this notice has now taken effect.

The Council will continue to monitor the situation and keep records of any complaints or incidents regarding Bexley Minicabs. If you have specific evidence of any such incidents please advise us. We will review the Council’s position and any possible action should it become clear that the situation has changed. Ultimately we must await the expiry of the period for compliance with the enforcement notice on the 11th February 2013 and monitor whether the requirements of the enforcement notice are complied with. It is at that stage that a failure to comply with the enforcement notice may be enforced through prosecution in the Magistrates' Court.


The letter above is an edited version of the original dated 31st August 2012.


Alison Craske TwitterOn the face of it that would appear to be a reasonable position for the Planning Officers to take although why the Enforcement Notice will not expire until next February is not clear. There were references to an Enforcement Notice being issued as long ago as last June but I still cannot find one listed on the council’s website.

The Planning Officers and local residents may be keeping a watchful eye on an illegal councillor family business, another councillor family continues to offer support.

 

3 September (Part 2) - Sign here

If you read any of the newspaper reports of Bexley council’s attack on the blogger John Kerlen (aka Olly Cromwell) you may recall they referred to him as an IT technician from Millwards in Essex. They were half right and John from Crayford has used his IT skills to develop a new website. It is called The Bexley Petition and its purpose is to allow exactly that. John’s choice for a first petition is a call for the right to recall councillors. An idea backed by all parties for MPs, so why not local politicians too he argues. John has in mind for recall those councillors who are “dishonest” or “corrupt” but I wouldn’t mind betting he would also include those willing to spin an untruthful yarn to judges in courts.

Bexley council allows petitions, in theory at least, but its track record suggests it will lie and fiddle the rules to avoid considering them all the time we have Teresa O’Neill in charge.

 

3 September (Part 1) - Lost in the post

A little over two months ago, just after certain rumours began to circulate about councillor Peter Craske, I attended a meeting of the Standards Committee. Several members of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group (BCMG) were there too.

As the meeting drew to a close BCMG member Mick Barnbrook, asked Mr. Akin Alabi, Head of legal Services, about the new guidance on Standards issued by the Department for Communities and in particular what the council would be able to do should a councillor be found guilty of a criminal offence. Both Mick and I were left with a clear impression that Mr. Alabi had asked the responsible government department about exactly that and he was awaiting a response.


Letter from Communities DepartmentThe correspondence was unlikely to be sent to Mr. Barnbrook without a formal request, so Mick made one. “During a conversation with me after the above committee meeting had ended, and in the presence of witnesses, Mr. Alabi informed me that he had written to Government seeking advice on what action could be taken under the new code of conduct to deal with councillors charged with or convicted of a criminal offence. Please provide a copy of that letter.”

Bexley council responded on 7th August but it didn’t answer the question. Bexley’s answer was to provide only a link to the Under Secretary of State’s letter to all local authorities which was already in the public domain. They made no comment on the letter the head of Legal Services was supposed to have sent. As Bexley council seemed to be playing hard to get again, Mick asked the Communities Department if they could supply a copy of Mr. Alabi’s letter. They replied 12 days later.

This is what they said…

Letter from Communities Department
Maybe the Department for Communities and Local Government has a very poor filing system, or maybe there is another explanation. Where Bexley council is concerned it is usually advisable to think the worst.

 

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