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Bonkers Blog August 2013

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31 August (Part 2) - Running scared

Campbell Elwyn BryantAt the Cabinet meeting on 9th July, councillor Colin Campbell told Elwyn Bryant that he felt threatened by him and offered the comment as a good reason not to talk to him.

As you can see from the picture, Colin Campbell is a reasonably well built man, certainly quite a lot bigger than me and as Elwyn Bryant has told me more than once, I have a couple of stone lead on him! So it’s hard to believe that Campbell feels threatened by 76 year old Elwyn Bryant.

Maybe councillor Cheryl Bacon could pull such a stunt when next confronted by Nicholas Dowling’s broken dictation machine. Playing the Intimidation Card might be so much easier than concocting a tissue of lies to cover her mistakes.

Campbell’s claim to be intimidated by Elwyn seems implausible to me unless perhaps I have placed too much emphasis on physical size, maybe it was intellect that Campbell was talking about. Whatever the case may be, Bexley council has decreed that intimidation is a good excuse for rudeness. Here’s their official conclusion in black and white. I think I begin to feel sorry for Mrs. Lynn Tyler it can’t be easy for her to write such nonsense…

Conclusion Decision
At least Mrs. Tyler sent a readable file this time, none of the .docx nonsense that defeated Mick Barnbrook’s technical skills. She sent an easily readable PDF this time. Much appreciated Lynn.


31 August (Part 1) - Bexley shut down

Bexley TweetAn email arrived a few minutes ago asking how the sender could check the planning application reported yesterday. The link is actually on the Bonkers menu but I thought I would check it before sending it. It failed, so, I soon found, do all the links provided by Google and the Planning Portal on the central government website. Then I remembered that Bexley has been Twittering on all week about there being no working computers in libraries today.

While retrieving that Tweet another came in from @BexleyComms repeating the message and referring to their website for more information but - you’ve guessed it - their main website is down too. Nothing about that in their endless Tweets!

Tweet shown posted at 9 a.m. today.


30 August (Part 3) - Windows shut down

A reader who lives in Old Farm Avenue, Sidcup suggested I went to last night’s Planning committee meeting which isn’t the sort of place anyone would want to spend a balmy late summer evening. However he tempted me by saying a case of some notoriety was going back to planning for the third time.

It is not a case that has been reported here before despite it being well over a year since I first heard about it but proof that it might be a bit fishy was always too elusive. Suffice to say that it was suggested a member of the planning team was the applicant and it was something that would ordinarily be thrown out. The story sort of evaporated when the Planning committee did exactly that. Threw it out that is. Then it somehow got approved. The nearest I got to reporting it was a slightly tongue in cheek version of what may have happened - or not as the case may be.

Having got the house built a problem has arisen. One of the planning conditions is that two windows at roof level must be translucent (frosted) and non-opening. The fact is that the proposed house was far too close to its neighbours and would infringe on their privacy. Probably the application should have been refused but it was an inside job and opposition was limited because it was not strongly opposed. This was said to be because no one was given the opportunity to object to the proposal to squeeze a house into a back garden. The letters simply disappeared in the post. All of them.

This is probably true because during yesterday’s meeting councillor Seán Newman referred to the previous failure to distribute consultation papers. He wanted to know if the same may have happened this time around. He got no answer but I can tell him that I was called to the meeting only at the last minute because most if not all neighbours had not received any notification. As a result only one had got in quickly enough to make an objection.

Val ClarkThe reason the applicant was back for the third time is that the now completed house falls foul of the Building Regulations. Those unopenable windows are a fire safety risk. They have to open.

The proposal was to fit windows with restricted opening facilities, a 100mm gap but with a release mechanism in case of fire.

Councillor Val Clark was not at all happy with that and probably she was right to be worried. She said that she had such a window at her own home and it can be fully opened at the flick of a switch. She also stated the fairly obvious, but no one else had noticed, that a fire escape 20 feet above a concrete driveway is not a very attractive proposition. She was supported on both points by a number of other councillors.

Simon WindleCouncillor Simon Windle who is a more incisive thinker than your average Bexley councillor was concerned that if the proposed windows were fitted and the restricted opening release switch was thrown, there would be nothing the council could do to prevent it, having approved such windows. Good point Simon.

Kerry AllonThen councillor Kerry Allon played the ace. He said that he had seen unopenable fire safe windows in commercial premises. Normally they wouldn’t open but in the event of a fire you gave them a good thump and they fell out. The decision was therefore deferred so that such windows could be investigated and the application considered another time.

The affected residents went home a lot happier than they had predicted they would be. It was clear that the Planning committee was going to steer an ethical course. From what I have observed that is generally the case; not of course if the affected neighbour is a Cabinet member.

Planning Application 13/00984/FUL.


30 August (Part 2) - Labour stuck in a rut

Conservative leafletA reader who lives five or six minutes walk away from me asked if I had received the latest Conservative electoral leaflet. I said ‘No’ but thought it quite likely they would deliberately give me a miss. Meanwhile he sent a copy of his own with an annotation. Apologies for that, it wasn’t my idea and in any case I think I disagree, John Davey is quite good at putting his foot in it.

I asked a neighbour if he had received any election leaflets and he said ‘Yes’ and invited me inside to look for them. They were lying on a hall cabinet unread and were from Lesnes Labour. So the Conservatives may or may not be bypassing my address but Labour certainly is.

I’m not surprised, I never get local election stuff from Labour, General Election material via Royal Mail, yes, but nothing from local distributions.

Labour leafletProbably Labour gave up on me when I said something fairly extreme to a Labour councillor soliciting votes in, I think, 2004. The words swinging and lamp posts came into it somewhere. Instant banishment I suspect!

Having looked at the new Labour leaflet that I didn’t get, I can’t say I am impressed. Surely Labour claiming the moral high ground over the NHS is an old battle that has no need to be refought. Maybe there is some truth in their claim but I thought Queen Mary’s Sidcup was driven towards the buffers under a Labour Government, not Tory. I know their promises to save it proved worthless but each is as bad as the other.

Surely there is so much that Labour should be telling electors about what must be the most dishonest council South East London has ever seen. I think I know a website that has collated a lot of their wrong doing - or is Labour gearing up to run the same tired campaign and lose again? Probably.


30 August (Part 1) - Excuses, excuses

Helicopter Helicopter HelicopterMy morning blogging session was interrupted by what I at first thought was an unsilenced lawnmower in an adjacent garden, but it turned out to be a helicopter right overhead. I watched it descend behind the trees of Lesnes Abbey park and followed it, camera in hand.

In the event the chopper was not required. An ambulance was outside a house in nearby Elstree Gardens and reports were that the police had blocked the road. I wasted an hour waiting for the chopper to take off again but the height of excitement was two medics and two flight crew drinking coffee.

A couple of children seemed to think it was the latest addition to the playground. The first photograph shows its situation, the early morning sun made photography in that direction difficult but the larger version provides a better view. For a closer look inside the cockpit, click here.

Normal blogging activity will restart in an hour or two.


29 August - Another day, another law broken by Bexley council

Blocked BridlewayBridleway 250, otherwise known as Stable Lane has been blocked by Mr. John Window of Mount Mascal Stables. He has fitted an electronically controlled barrier complete with CCTV surveillance in contravention of the Highways Act. In doing so he is retrospectively supported by Bexley council. Mascal Stables has well known links with Bexley council.

After inconvenienced local residents, horse riders and walkers complained, Bexley council involved all the interested parties, including ward councillors, James Brokenshire MP, the stable owners and the police to thrash out a solution. Naturally they chose not to include the complainants for that is the way of Bexley’s crooked council. “Listening to you.” A fraudulent claim if ever there was one.

When the council continued to ignore their legal responsibilities a formal request to reopen the Bridleway (known as Form 1) was submitted to Bexley council at the end of July. This was in accordance with the procedures laid down by the Act. A copy of Form 1 together with guidance for use is available on a Government web page.

Bexley council’s response is to again support the illegal blocking of Bridleway 250 and their letter is signed by Mike Frizoni. (£94,698 salary + £9,469 premium + £4,455 car allowance + 20% of salary pension contribution.) He supports his decision by a reference to the police and the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
Mike Frizoni supports criminality
There is no occupier other than the landowner who gets access via the bridleway, but that’s a minor point.

The main assertions in the Frizoni (£94,698 salary + £9,469 premium + £4,455 car allowance + 20% of salary pension contribution) statement are both dubious. For a start, Section 17 does not overrule any other obligation, it says so in its very first paragraph. I have asked two people with a legal background to check my interpretation.
Section 17
Frizoni (£94,698 salary + £9,469 premium + £4,455 car allowance + 20% of salary pension contribution) is either stupid, which cannot be discounted, or he has not bothered to check Section 17. One paragraph in one Act does not ride roughshod over every other Act on the Statute Book. It says so.

The reference to the police and ‘the scale of thefts/criminal damage would increase’ is just an irrelevant excuse. One could argue that if every cul-de-sac in the borough became a gated community crime might reduce but I doubt Frizoni (£94,698 salary + £9,469 premium + £4,455 car allowance + 20% of salary pension contribution) would tolerate it. In any case, Mick Barnbrook who submitted the Form 1 had done his homework before submitting it. He does love his FOIs! So the number of crimes committed in the area is already known. One burglary in the last five years since you ask. (†) Frizoni (£94,698 salary + £9,469 premium + £4,455 car allowance + 20% of salary pension contribution) has obviously not done any homework and presumably has a reason for blatantly covering one abuse of the law with another - but not one he is prepared to put on the record.

Mick Barnbrook’s intention was to take his complaint to the Magistrates’ Court but the law does not allow him to do so for another month. And there is another reason for delaying.

A national charity with an interest in this area of the law has expressed its anger at what Bexley council has done. In its own words, “If Bexley is allowed to get away with that, no Bridleway is safe”. All the correspondence is now with them and they have offered legal assistance, to the Appeal Courts if necessary, so unless Mike Frizoni. (£94,698 salary + £9,469 premium + £4,455 car allowance + 20% of salary pension contribution) comes to his senses it looks like there will be a delay before the saga is progressed further.

† More crime statistics are being sought.


28 August (Part 2) - Disruption downgraded

The minutes of Cheryl Bacon’s Closed Session Public Realm meeting are now available on line. The report of disturbance doesn’t amount to very much given the number of words Mrs. Tyler took to explain that Cheryl did nothing wrong but six people were causing continuous disruption. Maybe the minute writer is not given to gross exaggeration or someone knows when to stop digging.


Message for Mr. Anon.

Sometimes an anonymous message requires a reply…

To the man or woman whose recent message about an old blog began “I doubt”; thank you for your advice and if you look back to the relevant date you will see a minor but I trust appropriate amendment.

Regarding your final short paragraph, I do in fact have the appropriate account but for reasons you will appreciate it would be totally inappropriate to make use of it. Shame!


28 August (Part 1) - Lying. It’s just not worth it

Can you imagine the mess I would get myself into if I deliberately strayed from the truth or lied on Bonkers? This is the 1,827th blog entry and if I proposed to write one which was untruthful it would take a week to check back to be sure I was not contradicting a previous lie. There are more than 500 feature pages too. The only practical policy is to never report anything that isn’t true or even exaggerate.

bullshitIt must be very different over at the Civic Centre where their correspondence is so often riddled with lies, all written by different people who cannot be fully aware of what else may have been said on the same matter. Lynn Tyler who wrote the letter excusing councillor Cheryl Bacon from any malpractice when she put her Public Realm meeting into Closed Session is a case in point.

She wrote that everyone at that meeting was misbehaving which is totally untrue. All councillors present must know that but presumably one or more have told Mrs. Tyler otherwise. I was excluded from the reconvened meeting because “members of the public continued to shout” which is a total lie. I said nothing at all because I never do, and although I was half expecting some of the others present to have their say, they did no more than mutter among themselves.

Apparently Cheryl Bacon addressed us all personally, approached us no less, to ask that we desist from calling out. I’d like to think Cheryl Bacon didn’t say that and it is a council manufactured lie but coming from the Legal Department one might expect theirs to be a straight forward and above board report. Not that I'd be confident of it. Either way it makes no real difference, Cheryl Bacon must have approved it which is just as bad. Has councillor Peter Craske got a rival?

Lynn Tyler lies
There is no way that Cheryl Bacon approached anyone or asked them to stop calling out, for a start the situation caused her to almost lose her voice, but Lynn Tyler’s letter goes beyond accusing everyone present of misbehaviour; essential if the exclusion of all of them is to be lawfully justified, she has decided that councillor Bacon’s behaviour was absolutely perfect.

After describing councillor Bacon’s handling of the meeting Lynn Tyler reaches her conclusion…
Lynn Tyler lies
One must wonder why it is that if councillor Cheryl Bacon was such a perfect chairman that the Director of Corporate Services, Paul Moore (†), found it necessary to remind her of the correct procedure. Maybe Lynn Tyler had forgotten that and the not unimportant fact that Mr. Moore correctly referred to “one individual” causing “some disruption”. At the time, Mr. Moore had no reason to lie and wished only to ensure that correct procedures would be followed in future. He did not approve the general exclusion of the public as did Cheryl Bacon by announcing a ‘Closed Session’.

Now that the council has realised that Bacon’s exclusion of everyone, me included, was an illegal act, Lynn Tyler must have been deceived into extricating Bacon and the council out of a tight spot. If only she had trawled back through all the correspondence she might have realised that the chosen lie is holed below the waterline by the Director of Corporate Services.

† I have no documentary evidence that Paul Moore issued that note as my leaked version cut the signature, but the responsibility would be his.


27 August - Inconvenient evidence

Laurantia MqotsiTrevor Lawrie is convinced that Sadie Henry killed his grandson and Cameron Rose was charged with the murder to shield Bexley council from the consequences of doing nothing when presented with worrying reports from health professionals and school teachers. However there is unlikely to be any more in the evidence bundle to directly link the case with Bexley council and it could be argued that it’s time to leave the subject. On the other hand the file makes fascinating reading and maybe illustrates the lengths to which police are prepared to go to protect their establishment friends.

An almost unnoticed line in the police statement by Sadie Henry, mother of Rhys, is that her teenage boyfriend Cameron Rose did not have a mobile phone. It struck me as rather odd that any teenager would not be equipped with a mobile phone, especially one conducting an intense affair with a woman who undoubtedly did use one.

I am coming to the conclusion that Sadie wrote her statement under the direction of the police. It was not written until 24th May 2012. That is 16 months after the murder and four months after the evidence bundle had been sent to the prosecuting authorities. Sadie’s statement belatedly but neatly plugged all the holes in the case against Cameron. Had someone spotted that the evidence cast doubt on Cameron’s guilt and an antidote was called for? The statement so carefully addresses those doubts that it is almost too good to be true. Maybe Trevor is right and Sadie’s statement was written to order months after everyone else’s.

The fact that an ambulance officer saw someone fitting Cameron’s description come home with Rhys’s elder brother a little while after they arrived to attend to Rhys but wasn’t called as a witness looks suspicious and so does the statement that Cameron had no mobile phone. Was he really the only teenager in Erith who did not own a phone?

The answer to that is a clear No, Sadie’s statement is wrong. The police recorded in some detail how they analysed the phone records of both Cameron and Sadie. They impounded both phones on 26th January 2011 and transcribed all the text messages. Page 1 of their analysis was mysteriously redacted or otherwise lost from the evidence bundle completely. For that reason the date of the police report is unknown but the remaining three pages reveal that Cameron had several girl friends. In particular, after being sent away by Sadie when he returned from school with the older brother (the ambulance officer’s evidence) the first thing he did was call one of them, Chloe, to cancel their date for 7 p.m. that evening.

Trevor LawrieCameron’s messages appear to show more concern for Rhys than his mother did. After Rhys’s ‘accident’ on 17th January which resulted in X-rays at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Sadie had texted “they thought he had a fracture but his oka just badly bruised, miss you, love and thinking off u xxx”. Cameron replied “u sure coz his face looked fucked babez, n if let me knw how he is babez”.

The police transcribed a number of text messages from Cameron to various females in the two weeks before the murder, an average of five messages per day they said.

Shortly after the murder Cameron texted Chloe “got 2 go hospital babe” and in reply to an enquiry, six minutes later said “coz my cousins heart stopped beatin n the ambulance r takin him hospital”. ‘Cousin’ being an obvious reference to Rhys. Telling girl friend 2 about the son of girlfriend 1 might not be a good idea.

Sadie Henry claimed that when she came home from school with her oldest son and found Cameron with Rhys lying gravely injured or dead she questioned Cameron about when Rhys had a seizure. “15 minutes after you left” was the alleged answer and she excuses Cameron’s failure to phone for help in her police statement. “Cameron did not have a phone on him as he had lost his phone sometime just before Christmas. I did not leave a phone.”

Why would the police use that statement as evidence but not their own report that Cameron used his phone regularly from Christmas right through to the day of the murder and beyond? Why did they discount the evidence of the ambulance officer who said Cameron arrived at the murder scene after he did?

Trevor Lawrie says it was part of a conspiracy to protect Bexley council from a Baby Peter style scandal. Whatever the reason they certainly appear to have had an agenda to nail Cameron whatever the evidence.

Why did Cameron’s defence barrister not rake out this evidential conflict? Trevor Lawrie says it is because she usually worked with the CPS and was in cahoots with them. Maybe delving further into the pile of papers will provide more clues.

The Rhys Lawrie blog index.


26 August - Same old tricks

A recent email asked for help…

My company is owed some money by Bexley Mini Cabs. They wrote the cheques and they were returned unpaid. I understand Bexley Mini Cabs is still trading, but will not pay the invoice.

Any ideas who in Bexley I could contact to get at least some of our money recovered, or to ensure Bexley Mini Cabs ceases trading?

As always the moral of the tale is; do not do business with Bexley Mini Cabs or ride in their cars.

Index to blogs on Bexley Cabs.


25 August (Part 1) - CPS breaks the law

Elwyn Bryant has lost patience with the Crown Prosecution Service. After they admitted providing Bexley police with advice on how to pursue the investigation into Bexley council’s obscene blog which had been traced to councillor Peter Craske’s home telephone line, they three times assured Elwyn they would send him a copy of the advice and three times they did nothing; their excuse being that the member of staff who had made the promise no longer worked for the CPS. For his fourth attempt Elwyn made it clear that he was requesting the document under the Freedom of Information Act.

After the statutory time scale had well and truly expired Elwyn made enquiries. The CPS made excuses and said they would not be responding to his FOI request. That is in itself illegal. If they don’t want to respond, they must find a legal reason and they have failed to do so.

Elwyn has been pursuing this matter for six months and has had enough of it. He has bundled up the correspondence and sent it off to the Information Commissioner with a complaint that the CPS has failed to comply with the Act.


24 August (Part 2) - Teresa O’Neill v Eric Pickles

Eric and TeresaOne of Bexley council’s excuses for not permitting the recording of their meetings is that certain people are intent on disruption. Another of Bexley’s lies.

The Bexley Times got hold of the response to Mick Barnbrook’s Freedom of Information request about the amount of disruption that had occurred and they questioned Bexley council about there being only two such incidents on record. One was Nick Dowling’s attempt to make an audio recording last June and the other was when John Kerlen (aka Olly Cromwell) poked a lens through the open door into the council chamber two years ago and councillor Linda Bailey took it upon herself to grab hold of him. The council’s press officer implied that was only the tip of the iceberg. “The Freedom of Information request you refer to relates to meetings that have actually been stopped completely. Each time a meeting is stopped, time is wasted for everyone present including other members of the public.”

Tweet CouncilIt will not be lost on readers that the only disruption noted at any Bexley council meeting has been the direct result of the council’s no recording policy. It is councillors, and in particular their leader Teresa O’Neill, who are the primary cause of disruption, not members of the public. None of this is new but as the subject shows no sign of going away and in the pursuit of total transparency, the whole of Bexley council’s FOI response to Mick Barnbrook has been made available.

As councillor Seán Newman (Labour, Belvedere) reminds us, Bexley council is to review its protocol on photography on 3rd September and the Agenda is already on line. It doesn’t start well.

AgendaIt then goes on to discuss spending up to £20,000 a year on web casting meetings. It suggests that a web cast “can be regarded as the official master recording” and as such “it may not be necessary to permit any other form of recording from outside the council.” Other options are mentioned including complying with Eric Pickles’ wishes but with councillors Chris Ball, Colin Campbell, Peter Craske, Ross Downing and Peter Reader being manipulated by chairman Teresa O'Neill there is little cause for optimism. Apart perhaps from Ross Downing I wouldn’t trust any of that lot!

The last time the Panel met was two and a half years ago and they agreed a general clampdown (some later proven to be illegal) on all sorts of democratic activities in the space of 19 minutes. Times have changed but Bexley council has not.

The Agenda may be downloaded here. (PDF)


24 August (Part 1) - Do not believe in the NSL Good Fairy

My colleague Elwyn Bryant lives within a Controlled Parking Zone. Whilst attending to his own car parked on his own property he saw a Civil Enforcement Officer place a Penalty Charge Notice on a car windscreen, so he called out that it was 15 minutes past the end of the restricted hours. The CEO went to inspect a sign and seeing that Elwyn was correct returned to remove the PCN - and promptly destroyed it.

We have all read many times of CEOs who say that once a PCN is issued it cannot be withdrawn, an appeal is the only way forward. I have always assumed that this is an anti-bribery measure. Elwyn was inclined to believe this was a story with a good outcome. I would suggest that it is nothing of the sort.

My guess is that the data recorded on the CEO’s ticket machine will be processed as usual and the motorist will receive a surprise through the post over the coming days. He and Bexley council will then assume some vandal removed the PCN.


23 August (Part 2) - LX04 AOJ and MT06 LLR, take a bow

Road block Road blockI don’t believe the partial closure of the Felixstowe Road car park is yet generating widespread inconvenience, not in the morning anyway. Presumably many commuters are on holiday. But when the weather is particularly fine and a picnic in the grounds of Lesnes Abbey is a nice way to spend an afternoon, some drivers do the silliest things - like block nearby residential roads.

Once people get back to work round about the same time as two out of three Abbey Wood station car parks are due to close permanently, well for five years anyway, I can see real problems looming hereabouts. Maybe an 8 to 6 p.m. seven day yellow line on one side of the road would make sense.

This week is not the first time I’ve seen wing mirrors retracted by people trying to get home and on this occasion anything bigger than the smallest of runabouts was stuck.


23 August (Part 1) - Bexley council lies to the press again

Bacon NickEric Pickles is obviously disappointed by Bexley council’s continued refusal to allow its meetings to be recorded. For its sins Bexley is one of the six local councils ridiculed yesterday in a government press release. Mr. Pickles will need to act fast, Bexley council is due to review its protocols the week after next. If they think they can get away with it they will organise some sort of fudge, like getting their own staff to take photographs etc. and ban everyone else from doing so.

Both the Bexley Times and the News Shopper speedily picked up the latest development and once again Bexley council is quoted by both papers. “Our current process allows for filming.” This is an outrageous lie of the sort one has come to expect from Bexley council. They have never allowed any form of recording at any council meeting. They admitted that was the case following a recent Freedom of Information request.

DisruptiveIn the Bexley Times the council’s spokesman goes further and, referring to another FOI response, says that while only two meetings have been brought to a halt completely (both by recording attempts) others have been disrupted. Beyond requests to switch the microphones on and the occasional jeer from the audience there has been no disruption of council meetings in Bexley, if there had been they would have been reported here. Ironically, if the council allowed their meetings to be recorded we might know who was telling the truth, but the truth is rarely in Bexley council’s best interests.

Numbskull councillor Cheryl Bacon clearly didn’t engage her brain when she called the police and took her meeting into closed session when faced with Nicholas Dowling’s dictaphone.

The photograph is of the people Bexley council accuses of planning disruption to their meetings. As you can see, they are so rebellious and hell bent on destruction, that Bexley council is happy to vacate the council chamber and leave these gentlemen unsupervised to vandalise it. Bexley council’s only defence to its stupidity is non-stop lying.


22 August - Rhys Lawrie. After the trial. Bexley council’s involvement

The grandfather of the murdered three year old Rhys Lawrie didn’t confine his post trial letter writing to the police; Trevor Lawrie also wrote to the Crown Prosecution Service, the defence barrister, the High Court of Justice, the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED), his elder grandchild’s school, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the General Medical Council, the Local Government Ombudsman and of course Bexley council.

Trevor’s letter writing could be fairly described as forthright in style, he comes straight to the point. If he thinks someone contributed to the death of his grandchild he says so. If he has used the word lie or lying a dozen times he doesn’t consult a thesaurus for an alternative and I imagine the addressees might feel uncomfortable to have their failings and the consequences put before them so clearly; but that is presumably his intention.

Trevor had sent such letters to Bexley council Social Services before the trial because he was concerned for the welfare of Rhys’s elder brother as well as Bexley’s lack of interest in Rhys’s difficult upbringing. In the period immediately after the murder replies from Bexley council referred to the assistance it had offered Rhys’s mother Sadie Henry, whose parenting skills may have left something to be desired. Apparently she had been provided with guidance. This was variously described as a Simple Programme, a Domestic Skills Programme, an Anger Management Course and a Mother and Child Get Together - all dependent on which Social Worker answered Trevor’s letters. Trevor does not believe any programme or course took place. No evidence was provided and Trevor’s son, father of both boys, was unaware of any Bexley council involvement. There was no excuse for that, he was not an absentee father and until just before the arrival of toyboy Cameron Rose, was part of the family unit.

Despite the occasionally accusatory tone of Trevor’s letters, all of the many official bodies responded to Trevor’s concerns and explained their positions however unpalatable Trevor might find them. Not so Bexley council, it found a reason to opt out. Below is the complete letter to the bereaved grandfather from Bexley’s Deputy Director, Social Care & Safeguarding. (108,708 p.a. plus 20% of salary for the pension pot.)
Bexley's response
The final paragraph looks suspiciously like the notorious ‘lessons will be learned’ so beloved by failed bureaucrats.

Note: It was only after the trial that Bexley council adopted this position - but no other official body did.

The Rhys Lawrie blog index.


21 August - NSL and Bexley council. Together they are killing our high streets

Ian PayneIt is said that a declining shopping centre supports little more than betting shops, pawn brokers and charity shops but it would seem that Bexleyheath is now in danger of failing to do even that well. Another charity shop has closed and Bexley council’s shopping manager Ian Payne can’t be too happy. Trade was down 7% in the first half of the year and it is not hard to see why, Bexleyheath and its constant diversions, traffic jams and draconian parking enforcement have done their job well.

The outgoing manager of the British Red Cross which closed this week has left a note in the shop doorway. It says her head office has had enough of the reduced passing trade, the constant road works and neighbouring shops closing.

All the photographs were taken within the space of five minutes just before 1 p.m. today while waiting for my bus opposite Christ Church and without moving more than a few paces from that position. That includes those of the delivery van delivering goods to a nearby shop from a designated Loading Bay.

Bexley Stables Slades Livery Vicarage Road Horse Transport Bexley Stables Slades Livery Vicarage Road Horse Transport


20 August (Part 2) - Tall story

Parking ticket machineA reader sent some photographs of new and rather hi-tech ticket machines installed alongside parking bays in Bellegrove Road. He said they require users to enter their car registration number before paying.

Only tall people should park in Welling, the instructions are too high for normally sized people to read and hidden behind the machine. Mike Frizoni’s department again.


20 August (Part 1) - Rip off Bexley

Bexley council is very good at stealth taxes, both introducing new ones and then raising them soon afterwards, their illegally imposed Controlled Parking Zone charges being just one example.

A man who runs a bar in a members only club told me he has to pay Bexley council £180 a year for the privilege, and he is right, I looked it up. £180 a year for an alcohol licence is in the middle of their scale of charges for licenced premises. When the council took over the job from the police the charge was £10 for ten years.

Putting a small levy on a pint of beer may be the least that Bexley council does to raid your pocket. Just wait until you buy a house. Not only does the chancellor do his best to kill the market with his punitive stamp duties, Boris Johnson and Teresa O’Neill have their hands in your pocket too. They call it the Community Infrastructure Levy.

All new Bexley homes, shops and offices south of the Bexleyheath railway line will be taxed at £60 a square metre (homes) and £100 a square metre (shops) in addition to the £20 currently imposed by Mayor Johnson. North of that railway line the charge by Bexley will be £40 a square metre.

Bexley council issued a press release (Beware! Word document) on the subject on 12th August and promised to put an explanation on their website on 19th August, hence this delayed announcement. The press release provided two links to where those explanations would appear but in typical Bexley fashion, 24 hours later, neither have done so. However, thanks to Google it has been discovered elsewhere (PDF).

There may be Conservative election leaflets currently coming through Bexley letter boxes to tell you how the council tax has been frozen but you will be hard pressed to find the admission that they have created a £40 million black hole. It has to be paid somehow, and Bexley council is nothing if not inventive.


19 August (Part 2) - Abuse of power. By Bexley council leader and her traffic wardens

ProsecutionAs reported in June, Bexley council has equipped its traffic wardens with video recording devices; “to help improve customer service” if you believe the propaganda. We are beginning to see what Bexley council meant by that.

One might have expected a thoroughly nasty individual like Teresa O’Neill, leader of Bexley council, to take delight in the prosecution of a motorist, but the spiteful decision to feature his case on the council’s website probably came easy to her. For someone well versed in the art of lying to the police to get residents arrested it may have barely rated on her political tricks meter.

Strangely, Teresa O’Neill doesn’t appear to have made a website feature of the Civil Enforcement Officer who, a witness claimed, used his ticket machine as a weapon. Bexley council took that case to court but the judge threw it out. A Bexley council spokeswoman said: “We are disappointed with the outcome”. Well they would be, wouldn’t they? Justice does not feature highly on Bexley council’s priorities.

Campbell liesNeither presumably is the recognition of irony a Bexley council strong point. Filming people in the street without permission provides “transparency” but in the council chamber it is banned to “respect the wishes of members of the public”.

One of the problems with dishing out power to those without the intellectual ability to use it responsibly is that the power will be abused, something we commonly see in Bexley councillors, police officers, and dare I say it, Civil Enforcement Officers. In the latter case we are likely to see them ganging up on and goading motorists. A lady witnessed such an incident in Broadway only a few days ago and sent me this report.

I regard the recent development of parking police wearing cameras to be a violation of a citizen’s privacy; people should be able to approach the parking police without fear of being recorded or intimidated with cameras.

This afternoon I saw an altercation between three parking attendants operating as a gang, and a driver parked in a layby. They were arguing and one of the parking attendants was actually holding up his camera and reaching forward to shove it in front of the other man's face. The attendant looked really scary and threatening.

The car driver got very angry, and I'm not surprised. I would have been scared and shaking. Even as the driver drove off one parking attendant was still leaning into the passenger window pointing and shouting. After that the threesome immediately huddled together, looking as if they were checking to see how good a snapshot they got. Presumably they managed to give the driver a penalty notice, hence the altercation, so why make things worse by aggravating an already unpleasant situation?

Obvious I would have thought. Give a jumped up little hitler a big advantage over his opponent and he will start a war.


19 August (Part 1) - Rhys Lawrie. The trial and beyond - Click second image for photo gallery (4 images)

DPS statementRhys’s grandfather Trevor was banned from taking notes at Cameron Rose’s trial. He says it was on the express order of the judge. Other people were allowed to take notes, but Trevor says that by then he was a known troublemaker, arguing his case to everyone who would listen. As such there is little that can be said about the trial. However afterwards Trevor continued to ask questions. He directed 19 to the police’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) and every single one of them was answered with the same words seen above. The same words they used following the first complaint about Bexley police’s failure to investigate Bexley council’s obscene blog.

One of Trevor’s complaints was that the police failed to secure the crime scene. This was met with the response “The house was returned to Ms. Henry’s control as there were insufficient grounds to suspect that a criminal offence had taken place. Rhys’s medical condition sometimes makes infants more prone to Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy SUDI”.

RhysAnother complaint was that the police did not properly assess the injuries they saw on 21st January 2011. The Directorate of Professional Standards responded with, “Given the information at the time the officers acted in good faith and considered the injuries thoroughly. They did not believe there was sufficient evidence to consider the injuries non-accidental.

Rhys’s injuries were allegedly sustained while rolling off a sofa, whether on to a carpeted floor or on to something harder is unknown. To judge whether the police acted reasonably in deciding that the injuries were accidental and the result of falling as a result of an epileptic fit, more images are available. They are of the cleaned but bruised body and are available only via a user name (rhys) and password (lawrie). This is to prevent unintended access to the photographs and indexing by search engines. Click the blog image to view four photographs. Judge for yourself whether there was insufficient evidence to consider that a crime may have been committed. Judge for yourself whether the DPS’s priority was once again to cover up the police’s mistakes and wrongdoing.

The author of the letter from which the above extracts are taken is Detective Superintendent Steven Chandler. Maybe that is a common name in the police but a Detective Chief Inspector Chandler had an involvment with the cover up of the death of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson. Ideal material for promotion into the DPS.

The Rhys Lawrie blog index.


18 August - You just can’t get reliable staff

Traffic queuedNot even if you pay the Deputy Director of Public Realm Management, Mike Frizoni, £108,000 a year. (£94,698 salary + £9,469 premium + £4,455 car allowance + 20% of salary towards his pension.)

A reader drew my attention to one of Bexley council’s Public Notices issued last week. It looks ordinary enough but it is yet another nonsense from Mike Frizoni. Why is it a nonsense? Because Fen Grove is definitely not in Welling. It is south of the A2. It is even south of the A210 to Eltham. Another couple of hundred yards east and it would be in Eltham!

You’d think Bexley council would know where one of its roads was. Fen Grove as you might guess is in Blackfen, or Sidcup if you prefer - but there is absolutely no way it is in Welling.


17 August - Arnsberg Way. Slow progress

Traffic queued Block paving InspectionThe Arnsberg Way Mayplace Road junction is slowly taking shape. A local resident took an interest in my photography and said I was very lucky to see anyone working. He may have been a little unfair, there were four yellow jacketed men working at just after 2 p.m. last Thursday and another on his mobile. The resident was a man of strong opinions. “I’ve lived in lots of places and I’ve only been here two years but Bexley council is the most corrupt by far.” I recommended he Googled Bexley is Bonkers.

The third photograph was taken by a reader about an hour earlier and it would appear that some sort of site inspection is underway. The one lady shown looks suspiciously like councillor Katie Perrior.


16 August (Part 2) - Colin Campbell says council meetings suffer “planned disruption”. Council says it has issued no warnings

OpportunitesAmong the things published last week in the Bexley Times was deputy leader Colin Campbell’s assertion that members of the public are able to ask questions and present petitions. Half truths at best. No committee chairman has ever allowed a question. Councillors Alan Downing, Eileen Pallen and Alex Sawyer have all refused to take a question in recent memory. When Mick Barnbrook asked a question, viz. Would councillor Craske switch his microphone on so that the hearing loop worked he was told in writing that his question had disrupted the meeting. To the best of my knowledge no committee chairman has ever accepted a question although on just one occasion councillor Downing said he would accept a question directed at the police - but not at councillors.

The Bexley Times extract shown here may not make it clear that it refers to committee meetings but the original article does. Petitions are usually ignored - councillor Sybil Camsey famously saying that they are not worth the paper they are written on - and sometimes not accepted at all.

However this further example of a Colin Campbell lie is small beer. What about his claim on TV that “There is a small group with a history of disrupting meetings and being abusive” and “you’ve got a group of people who are being abusive, they are breaking up the meeting”. He said much the same thing to the Bexley Times - see associated image. Is he being a big time prevaricator again? You bet he is.

With a group of people attending all the most important council meetings planning deliberate disruption you might have expected council patience to have worn thin and they would at least have issued some warnings.

Obviously I know that hasn’t happened and none of what Campbell said is true or anywhere near being true but I don’t expect you to take my word for it. One of Mick Barnbrook’s FOIs was called for again.

And the answer is inevitably none.
Bexley’s senior councillors do not tell the truth. Q.E.D.


16 August (Part 1) - If you want to know the time, ask a policeman. Except in Bexley

AylingWhen councillor Colin Campbell went on TV and said “There is a small group with a history of disrupting meetings and being abusive” he was effectively libelling Nick Dowling, who was easily identifiable having been named in several newspapers, and all of his associates.

When Campbell said it was “quite obvious from the beginning they were there to disrupt the meeting” he lied about all the members of the public present including the Labour candidate for Lesnes ward in 2014. No one had an inkling of what Nicholas had in mind before arriving at the Civic Centre when he surprised all his associates with a whispered announcement.

Mick Barnbrook thought it justified a complaint to the council, a complaint still not answered.

To add to his knowledge of what had gone on Mick asked the police in a Freedom of Information request to tell him the time they had received the council’s call. (CAD: Computer Aided Dispatch.)

Click to read the complete question.

The reply has come from the Borough Commander, Superintendent Peter Ayling personally. He says that the time recorded in his log is personal information. Where have I heard that before?
How can a time infringe someone’s privacy? Maybe Peter Ayling is as corrupt as all his predecessors and exists primarily to protect his political masters. Bexley police has a long history of such behaviour.

• They refused to take action when a council leader ran off with more than £2,000 of public funds.
• They threatened arrest of two bloggers when council leader Teresa O’Neill made up a story and demanded their action.
• They brought trumped up charges against a blogger when a councillor concocted a statement which didn’t accord with the evidence that had been collected.
• They told lies about their investigation into Bexley council’s obscene blog and pretended to have carried out investigations when they hadn’t.
• They did nothing when Bexley council’s negligent mismanagement led to an elderly lady dying alone with an unanswered emergency call pendant around her neck.
• They succumbed to political interference after tracing obscene messages to councillor Peter Craske’s telephone line.
• They ignored a CPS guidance note and ensured councillor Craske was never charged.

And now Superintendent Peter Ayling abuses the law by making out a time taken from a log is personal information. There will be a complaint, but last time that happened the corruption extended to raising the stakes from ’Personal Information’ to ‘Not in the Public Interest’.


15 August (Part 2) - Councillor Colin Campbell. Reputation confirmed

QuoteThere was a good feature in last week’s Bexley Times, it devoted a page to Nicholas Dowling’s attempt to record a council meeting and his thoughts on the matter, and another page for deputy council leader Colin Campbell to tell us why he wasn’t allowed to do so.

Bexley TimesActually that is a gross simplification and maybe not entirely true. Campbell says “The council is not against filming at its meetings. It allows filming, and as such does not represent a ‘no to filming’s stance for this debate”.

This statement is not a world away from what Campbell said on BBC television in June. “We allow cameras already. If you want to film you simply call us on the day to say you would want to film, you don’t even have to give a reason.”

I said at the time that that simply wasn’t true but me calling Campbell a liar is not particularly unusual. What is unusual is Bexley council itself confirming that a senior councillor is a liar.

On 8th July a Freedom of Information Request was sent to Bexley council…
…and a few days ago an answer was provided.
So there it is in black and white. Just as you thought, councillor Colin Campbell was lying through his teeth when he sat in front of the TV cameras and had not repented by the time he spoke to the Bexley Times reporter, Robin Cottle.

“If you want to film you simply call us on the day to say you want to film.” One enormous lie from a council built on lies. What sort of council has a leader and deputy who do nothing but lie? In Bexley apathy and ignorance ensures they are voted back in to keep the other lot out - and the lies will come thicker and faster.

I should perhaps be offering thanks to councillor Cheryl Bacon. When faced with Nicholas’s pathetic little recorder no bigger than a matchbox which hadn’t a hope in hell of recording voices thirty feet away she called the police, ran around like a headless chicken, eventually taking her meeting into an illegal secret session. If she had an ounce of sense she should have said “Yes, get on with it” and called his bluff. The council’s own expensive microphone system doesn’t work unless the speaker is within 18 inches of it and speaks directly to it; what hope did Nicholas have? Instead she plays straight into his hands and further enhances Bexley council’s reputation for being among the most stupid.

Incidentally, the council has yet to come up with an explanation for holding an illegal secret meeting. My guess is that they might claim it was all a misunderstanding and anyone could have followed them into their tiny meeting room despite me clearly hearing chairman Cheryl refusing Mick Barnbrook access. But a problem with that excuse is that it would require all the Labour councillors to lie as well and that might be a house of cards that would fall down in the approaching electoral breeze.

Note: FOI request by Mick Barnbrook.


15 August (Part 1) - Mayor of Bexley. Smooth operator

Council announcement TweetBexley council is claiming their new switchboard will save £50,000 a year. After taking a sneak preview of Bexley’s 2012/13 accounts yesterday, I have my doubts, but Mayor Sharon Massey has plugged in her headset to help out.


14 August - When Rhys Lawrie died, where was Cameron?

Cameron RoseSo why is Trevor Lawrie convinced that his grandson Rhys was killed by his mother and not her teenaged toyboy?

For one thing the boyfriend Cameron had only been on the scene two months and both his grandsons had suffered unexplained bruises throughout their short lives. The eldest boy had actually confided to his grandfather that he thought he was going to die. Trevor doesn’t even believe Cameron was in the house at the time his grandson was killed.

He knew how long it took to collect his oldest grandson from school because it was something he did now and again. It is significant that the eldest’s school day ended at 15:10.

School letterRhys’s mother, Sadie Henry, called an ambulance at 15:17, there is no doubt about that, and two officers were despatched from the Barnehurst Station, arriving on site in Erith a few minutes after 15:30 - different reports bear slightly different timings. How did Sadie get home so quickly with a bus ride involved?

On arrival the ambulance officers found four ambulances already there and there was no need for them to intervene medically. They spent their time calming the mother and ensuring that the path would be clear for a swift exit.

One of the London Ambulance Service officers records that he had arrived at 15:35 and soon afterwards two boys walked into the living room. One was identified as Sadie’s youngest son - he must have meant eldest son because the youngest was Rhys covered in blood on his bed. The officer assumed the older boy must be the son of a friend and neighbour. He was encouraged in that assumption by Sadie telling the older boy (Cameron) to take her son away. There was a good reason for doing that, Rhys’s father was on his way and she couldn't afford to let the two meet.
Paramedic's statement
In court Cameron’s age was variously estimated to be between 13 and 15. The boy who arrived in the living room around 15:35 could very easily have been Cameron. The time coincides precisely with the time Sadie said in her statement that she usually got back from the school run.

No LAS personnel admitted to seeing Cameron at home when they arrived, on the contrary they had to wait outside for Sadie to open the door. Sadie admits to that in her statement to the police. “So I was giving CPR to Rhys but I had to run out and open the door for the paramedics”. She tries to cover that by saying that Cameron was elsewhere in the house.

No paramedic was called as a witness. I wonder why.

The Rhys Lawrie blog index.


13 August - Rhys Lawrie. The mother’s story

Trevor Lawrie believes that his grandson’s mother’s 16 year old boyfriend, Cameron Rose, was framed for Rhys’s murder. On 26th January 2011, five days after Rhys’s death, the police belatedly arrested and bailed the mother, Sadie Henry, and Trevor’s theory is that it caused alarm bells to ring at Bexley council. That is the day they decided to write up their ‘diary’ after three years of inaction and ignoring every welfare referral since the family moved to the borough in October 2007. If the mother was guilty of murder they risked a repeat of Haringey’s Baby Peter scandal.

On 31st January the police were invited to Bexley council’s offices and were shown the referrals going back to 2007. Bexley council asked for and was given a written assurance that the documents would never be disclosed except by court order. The police then ceased investigating the murder and insisted throughout the next eight months that death was due to natural causes.

It’s a nice cover-up theory but does it stand up to examination? Why should police officers risk their reputation or possibly careers by protecting Bexley council? It seems unlikely yet that is exactly what the police did when asked to investigate Bexley council’s obscene blog and collaborate with Teresa O’Neill’s dishonest attempt to get critical bloggers arrested.

Sadie HenryThe statements given to the police are long and rambling, the mother’s running to 59 pages of typewritten pages. There is not a single recorded fact which is absolutely damning but there are things that most people would class as very strange. Some examples follow…

Although the paediatrician at Darent Valley Hospital wrote on the day of Rhys’s death that he believed the injuries might be “non-accidental” the police chose to ignore his concerns. Consequently they did not put a guard on what should have been regarded as a crime scene and the mother and boyfriend returned to it unhindered.

Who can tell what a mother might do immediately after the loss of a child in tragic circumstances? I might guess family and friends would gather round and console each other. If the walls at home were splattered with “blood in a number of areas” (from police evidence) few parents would want to go straight home from the morgue and spend the night scrubbing and washing clothes.

Neither would sharing a bed with a teenage lover who bore some responsibility for the death, whether through neglect or inappropriate behaviour - as initially alleged - or something more sinister, be everyone’s preference. Nipping down to Blockbuster to hire a couple of DVDs for the weekend seems decidedly weird. Horror films according to Cameron. But Rhys’s mother (Sadie) did all of that; she said so herself.

Sadie Henry’s statement to the police details how she usually collected her eldest son from school by a bus that ran at 15 minute intervals. Twice she says she usually got home at three thirty or soon afterwards. Just four days before Rhys died he was so seriously hurt in a domestic ‘accident’ that he was X-rayed in Queen Elizabeth Hospital with a suspected fractured skull. Cameron’s carelessness was blamed for that but only 72 hours after his release from hospital Rhys was again left alone with Cameron. According to the mother's police statement she collected her eldest son from school while Cameron was left to kill Rhys.

Having gone on the school run Sadie managed to get her eldest son out of the classroom, wait for the bus, walk home from the nearest stop, have a short chat with Cameron and ask where Rhys was. Find him in the bedroom and administer Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (the mother was an Army trained Medic) and only when he failed to respond call 999. That call was made just seven minutes after the school bell had rung. Quite an achievement. A lucky coincidence that Sadie managed to get home a full 15 minutes earlier than usual that day. Trevor Lawrie believes the roles were reversed. (†)

The autopsy results took eight months to surface and made the police’s pronouncement of natural causes totally untenable and a murder enquiry began. The mother’s scrubbing operation was not good enough to defeat the forensics team and when the blood on the walls was found to be a mixture of Rhys’s and his mother’s, Sadie had no explanation for it. The police responded by charging the teenage boyfriend with murder without any DNA evidence. Cameron was not bright enough to defend himself. Convenient. If someone other than Sadie could be made to carry the can, Bexley council’s failure to monitor the family’s situation would be unlikely to feature in the trial. And it didn’t. No one from Bexley council, nor any locally based health professional was called to give evidence.

The Rhys Lawrie blog index.

Note: All the above is taken from the mother’s statement to the police except where stated.
† Not without evidence but it can wait until another day.


12 August - Death by 1,000 cuts

As the next election approaches it is inevitable that Bexley Conservative’s leaflets will include references to the 40% tax rise introduced by the last Labour administration and the Tory’s somewhat spurious claim to have frozen council tax but not reduced front line services. There will be no reference to the myriad of stealth taxes from the tripling of parking permit charges to the £30 for removing an old sofa via increased burial and allotment charges and everything in between.

The truth is, Labour’s 40% tax increase provided the cushion that protected Bexley council’s finances from an even bigger black hole than the £40 million the Tories already admit to. Not a penny of that 40% increase they derided so vociferously was ever given back.

Bexley’s Tories accepted the government’s grants in exchange for the freezing of council tax for the past three years; four if you overlook the small rise in 2010, and they hope that will help you forget the unseen costs. Would Barbara Baker have died alone if Bexley council had not cut funding for the wardens that used to be stationed in sheltered accommodation such as hers? Not content with the loss of the personal service wardens provided, they compounded the problem by cutting corners on their poor substitute; the telephone based Bexley Emergency Link Line (BELL) service. Staffing was reduced to unsafe levels.

London and QuadrantWithin the past few days Bexley council has shunted its failed BELL service across to private provider Medvivo so it’s an appropriate time to review the downward spiral of care services in sheltered accommodation engineered by Bexley council in recent years.

Frank Godley CourtIt isn’t so very long ago that people like Barbara lived under the watchful eye of a warden provided with their own flat within the same premises and on 24 hour call. If Mrs. Baker had pulled her cord before Bexley’s cuts began to take their toll the warden could have been by her side within a minute or two, even at one in the morning.

The first round of cuts saw that service reduced to a nine to five operation, although with the warden still living on site, in practical terms that may have been a relatively minor downgrade. The real problems arose in 2006, the year the Conservatives were swept to power in Bexley. Form filling and bureaucracy saw a noticeable increase.

In 2007, London & Quadrant who own the sites, with Bexley council officers direct approval, then tried to close many of them. It made the news nationally and only after a long campaign led by residents, their families, friends and local MPs was the closure averted. However L&Q were not finished. In 2009, again with Bexley council approval, they transferred the warden service to a new provider, Avante, but kept ownership of the sites and the rents. This occurred because L&Q could not make money out of the provision of warden services and it was no surprise when in 2011 Avante gave up the warden service for the same reason. The wardens were in effect starved out of a job with net pay reduced to as little as £100 a month as now they had to pay rent directly on their properties which had until then been part of their employment contracts.

Not surprisingly, live-in wardens became a rarity and Bexley council’s BELL service became the only alternative.

Mrs. Baker’s died after Bexley council failed to answer her emergency call thereby proving the BELL service was no substitute for a warden living at the end of the corridor; but perhaps some lessons have been learned. London & Quadrant, one of the biggest providers of sheltered accommodation in Bexley, is now proposing a “Sheltered Scheme Inspector” who will make…

• A weekly inspection of communal areas.
• A weekly check of the fire alarm and emergency lighting.
• A weekly check of the communal water supply.
• A monthly check of the pull cords in communal areas.
• A quarterly check of call alarms in residents’ flats.
• A six monthly fire drill.

Doesn’t that list look a little too like simple routine maintenance that any responsible housing outfit should be doing anyway? L&Q additionally proposes that an Inspector will undertake to be on call within one working day for emergencies and three days for non-urgent call outs.

Tackling emergencies within 24 hours is a far cry from having a warden on call 24/7 able to respond within a minute or two but it’s what happens when councils cut funding to their providers and then say that the resultant problems - and deaths - are not their fault as sheltered accommodation is operated independently. The same excuse they hand out when care workers find themselves on contracts which do not meet minimum pay requirements.

Even this very small step towards restoring services to an acceptable level cannot be allowed to affect Bexley’s budgetary plans. After a trial period, residents will be required to foot the bill themselves. Public money is far better spent on funding senior salary levels at almost the highest in the country rather than providing adequate care for those who need it most.

With assistance from an L&Q resident.


11 August (Part 2) - Confusion is profitable

NoticeSomeone has to check Bexley council’s Legal Notices and it might as well be me, they are sometimes informative but I’m not sure this one (click extract) signed by Mike Frizoni is; not if you don’t live nearby and need to drive to Lesnes Abbey.

Abbey RoadAbbey RoadIt concerns some Thames Water works planned for Abbey Road, Belvedere alongside Lesnes Abbey where it allows free parking on the south side (Photo 1). It’s usually full up with commuters by 7 a.m. The north side (Photo 2) has a long stretch of double yellow lines.

The Notice warns against parking either 25 metres east or west of No. 4 Bright Close. Is it supposed to be some sort of puzzle? How can it be sensible to disallow parking in Abbey Road by referring to distances measured from a different road? The same warning is affixed to a pole in Abbey Road.

Local people might be able to work it out. Bright Close runs parallel to Abbey Road and the rear gardens extend back to Abbey Road but a six foot brick wall hides them from view. There is no reason why someone intending to park in Abbey Road should know anything about Bright Close or even its existence.

It doesn’t help that the only street notice warning about the suspension of parking is on the north side of the road affixed to a pole midway along a length of double yellow lines. Lines that indicate ‘No Parking at Any Time’ are effectively modified by a Notice saying there will be No Parking for two days. Confused? Good, Mike Frizoni will be rubbing his Fagin-like hands together.

There are no warnings at all alongside the parking bays which are to be suspended where a driver might have some chance of seeing one. In all probability cones will be put out early on the day work starts but that is no consolation to someone who parks there overnight who has no chance of seeing a warning notice adjacent to the parking bays because there are none. Bexley council has played this trick in Abbey Road before.

A notice placed on the south side of the road banning parking for 50 metres west of the entrance to Lesnes Abbey would make perfect sense but Mike Frizoni has provided neither of those things. Presumably he needs as many parking fines as possible to fund his £108,622 a year.


11 August (Part 1) - Crossrail takes over Felixstowe Road car park

Crossrail CrossrailA week after their arrival, Crossrail’s contractor has constructed their equipment compound and demolished a few trees. There is still no notification within the car park as to what is going on now or that from a motorist’s point of view things are about to get much worse.

Click images for enlarged view.

More Crossrail related blogs.


10 August (Part 2) - Lessons not yet learnt?

Bexley council’s failure to respond to the alarm signals sent out by Health Visitors and school teachers were followed by the death of a three year old boy. Are things better now? Not if you can believe the council’s own statistics.

Percentage of planned audits carried out - under 20%. The percentage of those deemed good. Less than half.
Social Worker vacancies. More or less half! Sickness rate. Getting on for 10%.

Another accident waiting to happen?


Scroll or click for all the figures.


10 August (Part 1) - The Bexley Riviera

Erith beachAn anonymous email received this morning asked “Why have you got a picture of a beach in the header? There are no beaches in Bexley! You're slacking!”

I admit to a certain amount of slacking, there is not a lot going on at the moment but there is most definitely a beach of sorts in Bexley, or Erith to be more precise. Best looked at rather than walked on. If you look carefully the QEII Bridge at Dartford may be seen in the background of the photograph. (Click image to enlarge that part of view.)

The beach in question is easily viewed from Riverside Gardens, the public space which Teresa O’Neill wanted to sell off thereby depriving residents of their only access to the river bank. But don’t take a bucket and pitchfork to it.

Note: The banner photographs are changed periodically.


9 August (Part 3) - Rhys Lawrie. Bexley council’s suspicious behaviour

Rhys LawrieIt is beyond dispute that from late 2007 when Health Visitors warned Bexley council of their concerns through to 2010 when school teachers were shocked to see Rhys Lawrie’s injuries that the council did nothing to help. Rhys’s head teacher phoned Bexley’s Children’s & Young People’s Services on 15th December 2010 and spoke to Laurantia Mqotsi, one of the Social Workers there. The school head’s police witness statement confirms that the Social Worker promised to “take responsibility”. She didn’t and six weeks later Rhys was dead.

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, Bexley council did put in an appearance. They met the family and helped out by ferrying the grandparents around between their home and the hospital. Grandfather Trevor Lawrie says that never did they give any indication that they knew of Rhys or his brother. Only when the trial evidence bundle fell into his hands almost a year later did Trevor learn of Bexley council’s neglect.

For more than three years, Bexley council had done absolutely nothing but two days before Rhys was murdered the council flew into action generating reports and letters. What a coincidence. Trevor is sure that the documents were falsely dated to cover the previous inaction but I have no way of knowing if that is true. However I would agree that the documentation can be questioned.

On a diary style form recording events from 19th January 2011, Ms. Mqotsi refers to the school teacher’s five week old report but fails to include its date. In the box marked ‘Action’ she said, using the future tense, “I will contact the parents to write [to] them offering a time for an assessment next week”. The ‘diary’ was signed off on 26th January, five days after Rhys was killed. Trevor believes the form was filled in retrospectively but maybe it’s merely indicative of procedural errors and the calibre of staff employed in Children’s Services.

Ms. Mqotsi did write to Rhys’s mother or to be absolutely accurate, a letter was found in the evidence bundle. It was dated 19th January but whether it was ever sent is a matter for conjecture. It appears to be a less than adequate letter.

One might have thought it would start by referring to the earlier contact “offering a time for an assessment” referred to in the diary, but it didn’t. Perhaps Trevor Lawrie is right and the diary and the letter are part of a poorly executed cover up.  A serious attempt to secure a meeting between the mother and the Social Worker should have provided all the details. Place, time etc. But it didn’t. The venue wasn’t specified. Once again it could be total incompetence but the number of such incidents has given Trevor Lawrie good reason to be suspicious.

Bexley council met the police on 31st January. From that day the police decided that Rhys’s 39 injuries, from brain damage to broken leg were all due to natural causes. It defies belief but there must be a reason. Was it something said at that meeting?

The Rhys Lawrie blog index.


9 August (Part 2) - Bexley council leads the way

Daily TelegraphMaybe the Telegraph had Bexley in mind when it wrote that some councils were deceiving voters into backing parking charge increases.

In 2010 Bexley council asked if residents wanted to see council tax go up or for various service charges to be paid by those who used the services. They held Road Shows and put a questionnaire on line. Then the Road Shows were cancelled without notice and the questionnaire was described in council as “not user friendly”. Despite that, Bexley council saw it as a mandate and set about cutting services for the disabled and increasing charges all round.

Their consultation had provided 160 different comments from 829 sources most of which were public bodies rather than individuals. Only one suggestion was taken on board.

This was interpreted as support for across the board price increases. In the foreword to Budget Strategy 2014, the document which listed the price changes and noted that the parking charges were to “maximise revenue”, council leader Teresa O’Neill said “The information included in this document has been widely consulted with our local residents”. Something of an exaggeration. Local residents had said almost nothing.

Click image for Telegraph article.


9 August (Part 1) - Blue badge photo

The consensus is that the Blue Badge shown yesterday has its expiry date obscured. Obviously Eric Pickles’ recent statement on ‘zero tolerance’ parking enforcement will ensure the motorist’s appeal is successful. In Bexley? Yeah right!


8 August - Peculiar parking photos

Bexley Stables Slades Livery Vicarage Road Horse Transport

Except in Bexley’s council chamber, and maybe not always there, you can never get far from a camera these days. Whilst the quality sometimes falls well short of satisfactory there is no doubt that the mobile phone has given new life to street photography and some people like to see their work published.

Such photos, to be brutally honest, do not always make a story but on a slow news day in August maybe a collection will just about pass muster.

The first picture is of Bexley gestapo wagon KV12 KUX apparently broken down, maybe a flat battery. Next is a different CCTV car, number illegible even in the original, parked right alongside a bus stop. This stop in Maidstone Road has been featured before for being the only one in the borough where the bus stop and the associated road markings do not coincide. Councils earn money by causing confusion.

BatmanThe bus parked in the Disabled Bay on Wilton Road Abbey Wood at two minutes to nine on the 6th August rather takes the biscuit don’t you think? The bus terminal stop is all of 40 yards away but is evidently too far from the shops to walk from. It must be an offence and the wheels are right outside the bay too. A second offence.

Those three photographs are all from readers in recent days but the fourth is mine. Taken at 14:36 on 5th August in Fendyke Road, Belvedere it shows a car parked on a single yellow line with a Disabled Badge clearly on show on the dashboard. I didn’t think of taking a note of the number but fortunately the photograph was not taken on a mobile phone. If it is blown up enough I can see it is LV56 NMH. No idea what the driver is being fined for. Did the CEO? Will it matter to Bexley council or will the money go straight into their slush fund?

Some of the pictures sent in are not quite as useful. I have no idea who the figure in black is supposed to be or why it was sent.

I am told that yesterday’s photo was taken at the full council meeting on 17th July. It arrived by email from someone who doesn’t live in Bexley, more like 100 miles via the M25, but he felt strongly enough about Bexley council’s lies on TV, to make the journey specially.

As far as I know, allowing you to see a photograph of Bexley council in session has not caused its collapse.


7 August - Colin Campbell’s claptrap

Bexley Times Council meetingThe Bexley Times is a little behind the times but they have today covered the subject of Bexley council taking their public meeting into private session when Nicholas Dowling asked if he could record it and didn’t put his recording machine away when refused permission.

Deputy leader Colin Campbell is still trying to convince everyone that filming is allowed so long as you ask first. Never once has Bexley council given permission for filming, they won't even allow a single still photograph to be taken by a council officer. Campbell may not think he is lying but he knows full well he is not telling the truth. His boss Teresa will be controlling his every move.

Campbell has given the Times a whole load of nonsense about “respecting the wishes of members of the public who do not wish to be photographed, filmed or recorded”. Nicholas was only planning an audio recording and at the meeting in question no members of the public are permitted to speak and in any case, every single one of the seven present were in favour of recording. Campbell’s case won’t convince anyone.

Read the Bexley Times report for the full story.


6 August (Part 4) - Checking out Bexley’s accounts

New HQ SignAt this time of the year residents have the right to inspect the council’s accounts and two weeks ago Nicholas Dowling told me that he had asked to inspect them on the following Friday. He told the council which aspects he was interested in so that there would be no big surprises in store but it still didn’t happen. Bexley council required another week in which to cook the books. I mean assemble the relevant files, check them over, censor as necessary or whatever it was they had to do to make them fit for public inspection.

So Nicholas got to see the accounts that interested him last Friday instead. It may be a day or two before he is ready to give his verdict on whether all is well. I suspect he was more than a little interested in whether councillor Peter Craske’s CPZ figures added up. They didn’t last year.

I’m rather hoping that Nicholas will be able to shed some light on whether the council’s claim to not be spending any net money on their new HQ as the sign outside it proudly proclaims. I have my doubts about it. We know from when the alternatives were discussed that it wasn’t either the cheapest or the most cost effective option, but it had the advantage of keeping their base in Bexleyheath.


6 August (Part 3) - Checking out ASDA

ASDA ASDAASDA’s car park was full yesterday afternoon and although the queues had gone it was still packed solid inside. It was not clear what the many car park attendants were doing, however customers should be aware that ASDA is keen to fine you £100 if you offend against any of their many parking rules and regulations.

Checking back on the records of the planning committee meeting that approved the new ASDA I discovered that it was not only local Tory councillor Kerry Allon who campaigned against it but Labour’s Gill MacDonald was also keen to deprive her electors of the ward’s only large grocery outlet; not that ASDA is solely a grocery outlet.

Much was said at the planning meeting of the need to restrict the items ASDA should sell in order to protect existing nearby retailers. Mrs. Clark, Head of Building Control, was most anxious that the mistakes made with Morrison’s in Sidcup must not be repeated such that it ended up selling a bit of everything to the detriment of local traders. So I was surprised to see that ASDA in Belvedere is selling far more than food items. Clothing, stationery, computing accessories, DVDs, electrical items and televisions were all on display.

Maybe Bexley council failed to impose the restrictions discussed at the meeting in March last year after all.


6 August (Part 2) - Robin Joker

Car parkOnly the newest of Bonkers readers may not know that councillor Peter Craske was arrested last year on suspicion of setting up an obscene blog in my name. The criminal was traced to Craske’s home telephone line but the police put in a lot of time and effort to ensure no charges were brought. They wasted the eight months between identifying the source and impounding Craske’s computer and the police said that they spent that time checking whether I had hacked into his connection to set him up. Under pressure the police admitted that their investigation was thwarted at every stage by “political interference”. My guess is that Bexley council leader Teresa O’Neill pulled Boris’s string, but we will never know for sure.

On the evening of the day that Craske got the all clear nod from the police Craske strutted around the council chamber looking suitably cocky and next day I was on the receiving end of a couple of filthy emails. I don’t think I ever revealed who sent them, or at least the pseudonym under which they were sent. It never seemed relevant until now.

One came from Robin with an email address of, the other being from Bruce Wayne at For those who are unfamiliar with the comic book, all characters and places featured in the Batman stories. They presumably came from a Batman enthusiast. If you happen to come across one, you may be looking at the obscene blogger.

Click image for more expansive view.


6 August (Part 1) - Correction

TweetBexley council’s suggestion that Abbey Wood station is in Travel Zone 5 was removed from their website yesterday. Now that they know that it is in Zone 4 and gets a more frequent and cheaper train service to London than any of Bexley’s stations they will begin to realise why it attracts commuters by bus and car from far afield and make suitable provision for them. All that has been done so far is to reclassify a few residents’ bays and slap a £3.80 charge on them.


5 August (Part 3) - Crossrail comes to Abbey Wood

Car park Crossrail workers Crossrail workersheTy weren’t there at 8 a.m. this morning but by lunchtime half of Felixstowe Road car park was fenced off and men were at work clearing the peripheral shrubbery.

Crossrail will transform Abbey Wood even before the line opens. The existing tracks are to be realigned southwards and a new temporary station begins construction within the next month or two. The impact has already been felt by some nearby residents and everyone is likely to suffer to some extent before the benefits are reaped.

From today Felixstowe Road car park is reduced to about half its former size. Full closure is scheduled for 15th September 2013.


5 August (Part 2) - Belvedere ASDA opens despite the initial opposition from Bexley council

There was a carnival atmosphere in Belvedere this morning when the new ASDA store opened its doors for the first time. A bright green balloon flew overhead but the local Conservative councillor, Kerry Allon, who totally misjudged the mood of his electorate by trying to stop the new store getting planning permission was nowhere to be seen. It later transpired that the petition he had supported had been rigged. Another supermarket chain was behind it.

Allon’s Labour counterpart Gill MacDonald was floating around but she ignored me as Labour councillors generally do.

Bexley Stables Slades Livery Vicarage Road Horse Transport

The opening ceremony was graced by the presence of deputy mayor Geraldene Lucia-Hennis wielding an enormous pair of scissors.

Bexley Stables Slades Livery Vicarage Road Horse Transport

MayorPresumably Belvedere is far too down market to attract the attention of mayor Sharon Massey but even the substitute mayor couldn’t be bothered to dress up for the occasion, looking no different to any other woman in the queue. A poor show really but Belvedere is to the North of the borough and should be used to being rated second class by Bexley council by now.

As the final picture shows, the mayor looks a lot better in lace than an old black jumper, but at least her husband consort looked the part.


5 August (Part 1) - Are Bexley’s Controlled Parking Zone charges illegal?

Peter CraskeAlmost certainly.

As has been widely reported, the High Court ruled that Barnet council acted illegally when it raised CPZ charges from £40 to £100 a year. This was because Barnet increased the price for no reason other than to raise revenue and Barnet solicitor David Attfield was not inclined to let them get away with it.

Bexley council also increased its charges; from £35 to £100, £120 in some places, and made little secret of the fact that it did so to raise money.

On 3rd November 2010 Bexley council’s Cabinet met to consider a number of proposals aimed at either reducing expenditure or raising revenue. Each cabinet member made proposals; a rather impressive total of 320 money saving and revenue raising ideas. 24 of them came from councillor Peter Craske. He made no attempt to disguise his motives. Here’s an extract from Craske’s list and his own stated reasons…

• Advertising in car parks - Reason; Maximise Income
• Increase Parking and Permit charges - Reason; Maximise Income
• Introduce Evening and Sunday charges - Reason; Maximise Income
• Introduce parking charges at Leisure Centres - Reason; Maximise Income

It looks like there is no need to take Bexley to the High Court. They have already owned up as to why they whacked up charges, it was to get more money.

They cannot deny the increased charges were anything other than a blatantly illegal money making exercise, They said so in black and white. Those proposals were all approved and published in a booklet entitled ‘Budget Strategy’. It could hardly be clearer that it was all about the money.

Council leader Teresa O’Neill’s introduction said it was about “managing the money we get” and to “reduce the burden that has been falling on taxpayers”. However it was councillor Peter Craske, then Cabinet Member for Transport (before the position was elevated to ‘Public Realm’), who really let the cat out of the bag when he said; “In order to avoid making further spending reductions in key services elsewhere, there will be some increases in charges and significant changes to the way traffic and parking schemes will be carried out”.

It could hardly be clearer that he was intent on paying for ‘key services elsewhere’ with parking revenue. An illegal act.

When residents complained about the Controlled Parking Zone charges, Craske concocted a load of false statistics, claiming that each permit, including maintenance of the Zones, cost the council £250. It was an obvious lie and the figure was further rigged by including the cost of librarians who once in a while might have been asked for help with a CPZ application.

Barnet council has been compelled to begin the process of handing back their ill-gotten gains. Where’s Bexley’s David Attfield when you need him?


4 August - Planning ahead

TweetTomorrow morning commuters will arrive at the £684 a year Felixstowe Road car park and find that Balfour Beatty has moved in. They will be preparing the site for use as a base for the construction of the new railway tracks and station at Abbey Wood. By mid-September the car park will be no more and stay that way for four whole years.

I know this because the site is only a few minutes walk from home and Steve Lord, Crossrail’s Communications Manager, does a first rate job of keeping all his ‘neighbours’ in the picture. Steve made himself available to answer questions at the recent Crossrail exhibition and his efforts have kept most people happy.

TweetThose living further away are beyond Steve Lord’s reach and might rely on Bexley council for information. Most will be totally ignorant of what is about to happen. All that Bexley council has managed is a Twitter notice and a web page quoting councillor Gareth Bacon; and a fat lot of good he is.

What’s all this encouragement that Bacon is talking about? South Eastern’s website will tell you there is no cycle storage available at Abbey Wood, although in fact there are half a dozen railway company provided racks offering no security in the street outside.

As for his remarks on Bexleyheath station, well you can’t expect Gareth Bacon to know about these things as he is given free travel as a perk of his GLA job, but while Bexleyheath is indeed in Fare Zone 5, Abbey Wood is in Zone 4, so his bright idea will add £5.40 to the cost of the peak hour return fare to London. What a waste of space that man is.

So Bexley council’s idea for helping people through a potentially difficult period is to put up a Twitter message and post an almost useless web page when what they should have done is reach out to the motorists who are in for an unpleasant surprise. You might therefore assume that Felixstowe Road car park has been festooned with warning notices so that those most affected are well equipped to make suitable rearrangements? Not a bit of it. Take a look for yourself…

Bexley Stables Slades Livery Vicarage Road Horse Transport

These are Saturday afternoon pictures. Quite obviously Bexley council has done nothing to warn motorists, who almost by definition will have come from beyond the immediate area, maybe from outside Bexley. The council urges Twitter reading motorists to plan ahead, but their own planning goes no further than a money making scheme to restrict parking in local streets and make what is left even more expensive. If you can find an on street bay it’s soon going to cost you £3·80.

Two years ago Bexley Tories claimed on their website that Labour didn’t know that Bexleyheath had a railway station - it was an outrageous lie. Now we know who the ignoramuses really are.


3 August - The Waitrose effect

WaitroseWhilst residents in the vicinity of Abbey Wood station might have the support of ‘Lesnes Abbey Labour’ now that Crossrail developments are about to restrict parking outside their homes, the people of Sidcup have no defence against the worst that Bexley council can do. Charge them £120 a year and fine them if they or their visitors should forget to display a parking permit.

Council leader Teresa O’Neill’s vanity project of bringing Waitrose to Sidcup is going to prove very costly to nearby residents and one of them thinks the brief report on the subject last month fails to do it justice. He sent me a copy of the excuse sheet Bexley council poked through his letter box. You will note that it refers to Waitrose only in the vaguest possible terms. The new parking restrictions are “connected to planning consents”. Why are they always so secretive? What would be wrong about admitting the truth?

CPZ notice
The complete document (click extract to read it) reveals that not only is a new Controlled Parking Zone to be introduced which will operate from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m., single yellow lines will be subject to the same time restrictions. Never does a week go by without Bexley council announcing a further tightening of the parking thumbscrews.

Teresa got Waitrose. Bexley gets another stealth tax.


2 August - Consulting was insulting

ConsultationBexley council has explained what it meant by a consultation on the parking problems about to be created around Abbey Wood station due to the Crossrail developments; they put a notice in the News Shopper. It said what they planned to do and provided the statutory reference to objections.

Not what any reasonable person would deem to be a consultation as claimed by those who run @bexleycomms on behalf of the liars who pull their string.

Click image to see the public notice. Would you call that, hidden away in the back pages of the News Shopper, a consultation?


1 August (Part 3) - History repeating itself

ConsultationThis website owes its existence in part because of Bexley council’s failed consultation on the narrowing of Abbey Road in 2009, although they did consult some who lived much further from it than I do. Presumably part of the cunning plan to get the required level of disinterest.

Now they claim to have consulted those who might be affected by the imminent closure of the Felixstowe Road car park which will become a storage site during the Crossrail works. Not around here they didn’t.

Even before the closure of Felixstow Road and the station car parks commuters are leaving their cars within 50 yards of my front door. It isn’t often a problem but there can be little doubt there will soon be a lot more of it.

Is Bexley council claiming it has listened to residents? Yes. Have all affected residents been allowed to make a comment? No, and that includes some who live within a stone’s throw of Felixstow Road.

Probably Bexley council is planning another Waitrose style Controlled Parking Zone stealth tax.


1 August (Part 2) - Booking the crooks

I don’t think it was reported at the time but at the end of May this year the police agreed to hand over some of the papers relating to their investigation into councillor Peter Craske’s involvement in the obscene blog affair. They wanted to do it under the Subject Access Request procedure which means a fee of £10 was required. More than the statutory 40 days later there has been no apparent progress.


1 August (Part 1) - Cooking the books?

Nicholas Dowling expected to go to look at Bexley council’s accounts last Friday as he is entitled to do at this time of the year. He told them which subjects he was interested in. One might have expected someone from the Finance Department to turn up with a pile of ledgers from last year’s accounts and let him browse through them at his leisure - but not in Bexley. They told him they would need another week to get the books ready for him. Why? He only wanted to thumb through some figures that should be all signed and sealed by now. Did they need to go through them for a surreptitious re-editing?


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