Bexley Council Monitoring Group invited me to their meeting last week; the
Peter Craske affair was on the Agenda and we needed to coordinate our responses.
As you might imagine Craske is often on their Agenda so me joining them is not a particularly rare event. I go in the hope of picking up some juicy story that I can relate here but the BCMG tend to get stuck into matters far more deeply than I can. I regularly see files more than an inch thick and I look for something short and instantly understandable. Stupidity, dishonesty and criminality being a welcome bonus.
Bexley council has battened down all its hatches and such stories are in short supply and as I reminded the BCMG members only last week when it was suggested I cover the hospital situation “the name of the website is Bexley council is Bonkers”. It’s the same comment a recent Mr. Anon. has been making but he seems to believe I haven’t noticed the way things have been going.
Commenting on the BBC’s ‘Parking Mad’ and my Notomob references Mr. Critical says “I note you haven't watched the programme - so why write about it? There is no mention of Bexley at all!” As if I didn’t know.
The Notomob has a coordinator for Bexley and we exchange information when necessary and he tipped me off about the programme quite a while ago. We both knew that Bexley wasn’t featured but if there was a chance the programme might rejuvenate Notomob it deserves all the support I can give and someone who shelters behind the name ‘Nice Freemason’ (is that significant? Is there any other sort?) shouting “Off Topic” from the sidelines has to be ignored. Councils are the common ‘enemy’ and ‘rules’ take second place to that.
Something else I said at the BCMG meeting is that without Pitchforks and Flaming Torches, Olly Cromwell and Craske’s lunacy, Bonkers might not have survived. I am very aware that more material is desperately required but Bexley council has learned its lessons well. It has closed down almost all avenues to inside information. Fewer meetings, rehearsed sham meetings, no questions, no recordings, too many FOI refusals, no discussion.
Bexley council is not the only London borough regularly criticised by bloggers but it is unique in adopting total ostrich mode. Elsewhere councillors debate issues with critics but I know of two instances in Bexley of an email to all councillors getting a single response. It came from council leader Teresa O’Neill to say she had instructed everyone to say nothing. Führer Teresa Jude O’Neill cannot allow the slightest crack to develop. Too many secrets to keep.
So what is the poor blogger supposed to do? I know from careful monitoring of website statistics that a fall in the number of blogs sees a rapid fall in the number of visitors with no extension to the time spent on site. I know too that numbers rise when the police are criticised and the name Boris Johnson is almost as good. Exploiting that phenomenon is the equivalent of selling newspapers by putting an attractive woman on the front page. I’m thinking Daily Telegraph here. There is no point in publishing anything if the readers aren’t there.
So you get police stories - and justified in a variety of ways. One is that the name Peter Craske links council and police and the latter have proved themselves to be joined at the hip with Bexley council - its hard to see which is the more corrupt where the Craske case is concerned. Another is that policemen who wrecked the Craske case, knowingly perverted the course of justice in my view and about to be reported for such, are part of the same corrupt gang who ensured that a teenager who had his eyesight damaged was denied the satisfaction and justice of seeing his assailant charged. All because the aggressor was a policeman’s friend. That story is not very far off topic.
There is of course a third justification for going off topic. As Mick Barnbrook (see picture, second from right. Click to enlarge it) is fond of saying, “it’s your blog, you do what you like”. If I wreck the thing I wreck it, it’s not the end of the world. Come to think of it it might be a new beginning.
The guy who writes the Barnet blog occasionally wanders off into the music scene, cancer, dyslexia, jokes and occasional comment on national issues and he gets almost the same number of daily hits as Bonkers. Coming here is not compulsory.
Note: The ‘Off Topic’ complainant wrote a perfectly polite message I would happily have answered directly had he not chosen anonymity. It made a valid point but offered no solution.