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Bonkers Blog August 2014

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31 August - Bonkers resumes tomorrow

Like most DIY jobs, the one that has occupied my every waking moment for nearly four weeks took far longer than expected and ran considerably over budget, but it is nearly finished now. There shouldn’t be any further need to take my computer off line for more than a few minutes instead of the hours on end necessary while some critical stages of the rearrangements were in progress. However enough of the excuses, from tomorrow the intention is to return Bonkers to something like normal service. Maybe I will catch up with the email and phone calls too. Possibly…

 

27 August - Is he dead?

That was perhaps the most pointed enquiry about my absence from the blogging scene but it wasn’t the only one so here I am offering excuses. The fact is that on the 7th August, almost on an impulse, I decided I would fix a household problem that had been bugging me for a while and it turned out to be a DIY project of considerable magnitude which has taken up a great deal of time and taken its toll on my knees and hands; which will be glad to see the end of it, but on the other hand I have lost nine pounds in weight!

As there has been little council news around I decided to cease searching for it and concentrate on getting the DIY project completed as soon as possible. Perhaps I have taken it too far as I now see with a certain amount of horror that I have neglected Bonkers for a whole week. I’ve not only written nothing, I have dropped out of Twitter and reading the local news too. As it happens the number of incoming emails has fallen off too though whether that is partial cause or effect is hard to say.

I am expecting the job to be done by Friday leaving only the tidying up and I will then try to get the Bonkers show back on the read. Sooner rather than later there will be more documentary evidence of how Bexley police are desperately making up stories to cover for the lying councillor Cheryl Bacon. The fact that they conflict with earlier witness statements and their own press releases seems to concern them not one jot. Their corruption may not be on the Rotherham scale but it is symptomatic of the malaise which appears to permeate all police forces.

August may have flown by with little to say for itself but nothing much seems to have changed.

 

20 August - Minor matters

Summer holiday or not, the cuts go on
If you have ever wondered what there is left for Will Tuckley to do when almost every job has been farmed out to some other body you might wish to wonder some more.

As part of its ongoing programme of cuts Bexley council has chopped more people out of its Human Resources Department by handing over responsibility to the London Pension Fund Authority. I doubt they will do the job for nothing so the scope for savings must be miniscule.

All Bexley council pensioners, including presumably former Chief Executive Nick Johnson on £50,000 a year in very dubious circumstances, have been sent a letter which begins as follows…
Pension
Presumably the HR Department staffing is already reduced below an acceptable level because no one was available to sign the letter.

Police News
You may remember that a month ago Mick Barnbrook made a number of allegations of crime against both police and council officials for their role in the lying councillor Cheryl Bacon business. The one against Will Tuckley and Mrs. Lynn Tyler was not acknowledged but just as Mick was about to pursue the matter he was telephoned by the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards. They asked what outcome would satisfy him and he gave the obvious answer; an appearance in court.

For now the case has been referred back to Bexley police for investigation so I suspect a cover up and a referral in due course to the Independent Police Complaints Commission is on the cards.

Election News
The way we register to vote is changing in order to combat the fraud possible under the present system. I received my letter yesterday which confirms my opt out from the open register has been continued.

I have received one report from someone who says that his opt out has been lost in the transfer so it may be a good idea to check your letter very carefully.
Electoral Roll

 

18 August - Splash Park cleaned for two days out of three

Tweet It does seem very odd that Belvedere’s Splashpark is so maintenance intensive given that the installation is supposed to be all hi-tech and state of the art. Insiders say that the maintenance story is an excuse for what is really a budgetary cut. I am inclined to agree when I see Tweets like the one shown here.

Are we expected to believe that the facility will have to be cleaned again after just one day’s use next week? It will have gone four days without a clean leading up to Tuesday 26th. If four days is OK why not go the five days until the so called clean scheduled for Monday 1st September and open the park on the preceding Thursday?

 

17 August - Money well spent?

Sidcup SidcupWhile news of council activities has almost dried up this month, the Sidcup regeneration continues to cause havoc before its scheduled completion at the end of September.

Under the headline ‘Ghost Town’, the News Shopper carried a story last week about customer numbers being down by 35% in the Mind charity shop. Not surprising given that it is hidden behind a new bus shelter as well as a contractor’s hut. (Photo 6.)

Approaching from the east one might be forgiven for thinking that things are back to normal with its two-way traffic sign but that’s only as far as Hatherley Road and beyond that the road is still littered with holes, materials and machinery.

Sidcup Sidcup Sidcup Sidcup

And what has Sidcup got to show for nine months of disruption? Probably not very much that will bring trade back to the town. The Hadlow and Hatherley Road junctions have been revamped in Bexley’s preferred block and kerbless design. Fortunately the surface will only carry lightweight buses so may survive for more than twelve months.

Maybe the trees outside Bexley council’s own shop, Sidcup & Co. and the numb bum inducing granite seats will bring the shoppers back, or perhaps a small number of stylish new shop fronts. But in reality, Sidcup High Street looks a little cleaner but otherwise much the same as it always has.

Sidcup Sidcup Sidcup Sidcup

 

14 August - It was bound to happen sooner or later

SwingsI was obviously delusional when I thought it might be possible to keep Bonkers going whilst a four year old was running around the house, but it was one long round of swings and roundabouts and feeding the ducks and then trying to find something she would condescend to eat. It would appear that the days of dripping on toast for the main course and sugar sandwiches for afters, like it or go hungry, have long gone. Now it’s all pizza and paté and woe betide you if it’s the wrong flavour.

I wasn’t too enamoured of her father’s choice of tee shirt either. Click for the bigger view.

The only report I found time to follow up was the one about the Harrow Manorway flyover being an accident waiting to happen. I’ve seen it myself so a report saying that people are running across the road as a shortcut to the station and bus stops now that the central barrier has been removed did not come as a surprise. Someone’s going to cause an accident was the prediction.


Pictures one and two below were taken very early yesterday morning.
Harrow Manorway Harrow Manorway Harrow ManorwayBy late afternoon my reader’s prophesy had come true and a Parcel Force van had swerved off the restricted width carriageway and severely dented the support for the canopy that protects bus passengers from the elements. There is a picture of the damaged van on the News Shopper’s website.

Crossrail were advised by the concerned reader of the danger created by their work on the flyover and it was suggested a temporary barrier be kept in place to prevent the foolhardy risking their lives but unfortunately with no favourable response.


TrunkingThe plan is for the main entrance to the rebuilt station to be from Harrow Manorway and presumably pedestrian controlled traffic lights will be installed. In fact cable trunking went in yesterday and it looks as though that may be its purpose.

Nevertheless, it is unlikely to be as safe as the under bridge walkways to the existing low level station entrance.

 

11 August (Part 2) - Hurricane Bertha impedes Crossrail

Footbridge FootbridgeMy excuses for missing most of the weekend’s Crossrail activities are detailed below, except that my knees were so weak and aching by Saturday I don’t think my legs could have carried me as far as Abbey Wood station which is how I came to miss seeing the installation of the station footbridge.

Further up the line work was proceeding on the new track but at Church Manorway things were not going well. The enormous new footbridge was delivered by lorry as I watched but although it was attached to the crane and the slack taken up it was judged to be too windy to risk raising it. With its solid sides it would provide far more wind loading than the open framework of the Abbey Wood bridge.

Track laying Track laying Track laying Track laying

The available viewpoints for the Church Manorway bridge installation (below) were severely restricted.

Bridge installation Bridge installation Bridge installation Bridge installation Bridge installation Bridge installation Bridge installation Bridge installation

If the bridge wasn’t put in place during the night, one very long trailer is going to be out of commission for a few weeks!

The final photograph shows the piling required before the track can be laid. A construction worker told me that under the weight of concrete alone the piles sunk four metres into the ground and a further six metres before they reached solid ground.

 

11 August (Part 1) - Too much like hard work

OfficeMy home office gets snowed under with paper and old technology that I should probably throw away, I suppose I should get into e-bay but there are not enough hours in the day. I embarked on a tidy up on Thursday and somehow it escalated into a massive rearrangement with everything stripped out and one desk cut in half and reconstructed as two. The computer and associated bits and pieces were exactly that for most of the time, bits and pieces!

It will take a week to finish the job, shelves are all in the wrong place now etc. and various cables are either too long or too short. I act as informal beta tester for new services equipment for my small business customers only ISP - long story! Sometimes the noise made by Cisco routers and switches drives me mad.

However, that is the main reason for it, in another sense of the word, being quiet around here in recent days. Plus not much to report. In fact it may be quiet all week, my grand daughter is visiting. I’d take her to the Belvedere Splash Park but the only free day is Thursday.

 

7 August - Untrained amateur

Cheryl BaconI’d never heard of Mrs. Lynn Tyler until Mick Barnbrook sent me a copy of the letter he’d received from her. Enclosed with it was a statement from councillor Cheryl Bacon that said I and others had been guilty of running riot in the council chamber on 19th June 2013. That’s a long time ago now and since then I have accumulated nine written statements from those present certifying that no one did anything particularly untoward at that meeting - except that Nick Dowling had an audio recorder with him - and five more from councillors who refused to support Cheryl Bacon’s version of events.

As well as Bacon’s statement there were three others, one stuck to the truth and two were subsequently disowned to various degrees by their supposed authors. Taken together the four statements didn’t make sense, riddled as they were with contradictions. As Mrs. Tyler is supposedly a council legal officer I cast doubt on her abilities over several blogs. Would a competent legal officer really be happy with four unsigned and undated statements and then send them out to a member of the public without first checking that the story they attempted to portray was watertight?

Mick Barnbrook tried to find out if Mrs. Tyler (Legal Team Manager) was competent, on paper at least, to do the job she is paid for using the Freedom of Information Act. After the customary excessive delays he has a reply to his enquiry.


FOI
So as one might have guessed, Mrs. Tyler is another of Bexley council’s clueless amateurs who have no special qualifications to do the job we pay them for.

Index to related blogs and documents.

Note: The BiB website is running very slowly at the moment due to a technical problem that should be fixed before the end of the week.

 

6 August (Part 2) - Poor Will

Two years ago the Taxpayers’ Alliance reported that Bexley’s Chief Executive was the sixth highest paid council official in the land but whilst his salary has been static since then not everyone’s has. The result is that Will Tuckley is now only in 20th position. Where’s the nearest food bank?

On the other hand, of those 19 with larger snouts in the trough, seven are at county councils, another six are in major cities, Glasgow, Liverpool etc. and only six are at relatively tin pot local councils. So Will is not doing too badly after all.

TPA Report 2014.

 

6 August (Part 1) - Pickles on top

LawIt’s been a long time coming and Eric Pickles has been called a wind bag a few times along the way, but today is the day when his impatience with recalcitrant councils across the land - well England anyway - is translated into law. Councils now absolutely must allow every sort of recording and social media activity apart from a live commentary at all public meetings.

No self important lying Cheryl Bacon character may ever again call the police at the sight of electronic gadgetry.


NickIn Bexley Nicholas Dowling helped achieve something close to what the law now allows more than six months ago but presumably we will no longer hear chairmen claiming that photography and recording is at their absolute discretion. However anyone intending to Tweet from Bexley’s new chamber may have difficulty. Firstly the mobile phone coverage is very poor though some say the western end of the chamber does give some limited coverage.

Secondly the wi-fi is not for public use and even if it was Twitter would be a problem because that destination, along with Bexley is Bonkers. are on Bexley’s banned list. The Democratic Deficit (™ Any Labour councillor) lives on.

 

5 August - Half a foot for little feet

Before AfterThere has been a surprise development outside Bedonwell Infants School following complaints extending back 20 years about the footpath access being extremely narrow. More recently the cudgels were taken up by Mr. Chris Attard who has a child at the school but Bexley council failed to get permission to move the fence and their priority, goodness knows why, was to preserve the car parking spaces. The details are here.

Is there any other school in Bexley where car parking right outside the school gate is encouraged?

Chris protested about the lack of progress and his two year struggle against bureaucracy just a couple of weeks ago at the council meeting but the exchange was verging on the acrimonious and it looked to me like he was banging his head against a brick wall.

Then this (Photo 2) happened a day or two ago. The path became a few inches wider. It should help very thin people walk a bit closer to the fence and maybe it will be possible for two buggies to pass with care.

I asked Chris if he was tipped off in advance that developments were afoot, but the answer was no. I doubt there will ever be any acknowledgement that a UKIP candidate at the recent election may have made a difference, albeit a little one and nothing like what was originally thought necessary by both Chris and officialdom.

But it’s better than nothing. Just.

 

4 August - New for 2014. Twice weekly Splash Park maintenance

Splash ParkBelvedere Splash Park is a relic from a bygone age when councils thought that adding to the amenities available to residents was the sort of thing they should be doing, rather than filling in fountains and selling off libraries and public toilets. It’s actually not that long ago since councils believed in providing services rather than cutting them, no more than ten years.

The Belvedere Splash Park was built by Bexley’s Labour administration but didn’t open for business until after they were voted out of office in 2006 for being seen as rather profligate with our cash. Not that the Tories handed any of it back and Bexley’s 24th worst position in the tax league table is the same as it was eight years ago. Maybe the Tories are not as clever as they think they are.

A free Splash Park in the north of the borough - there is another in the more salubrious Danson Park - is probably not something a Conservative council would be very keen on and true to form, almost as soon as it opened they proposed to charge an entrance fee. The idea created sufficient protest for the idea to go away, but it wasn’t forgotten. When reelected in 2010 the Tories tried again only to meet with the same fate.


Splash Park Splash Park Splash Park In 2014 they may have moved more subtly. The Splash Park in now closed for Essential Maintenance every Monday and Thursday. According to a council source - but please remember there are a lot of disgruntled people working there at the moment and this one may be directly affected by the reduced opening times - this closure is a sham. It’s about not having to pay the attendants.

When I took a look today all the gates were padlocked and there was no sign of life until two men carrying a metal toolbox emerged from a shed to look at one of the barriers around a play area. Maybe a nut needed tightening.

Whether this is real maintenance or the sham my informant believes it to be is hard to tell, but two things occur to me. One is that the pool has not needed twice weekly scheduled maintenance in previous years and neither does the splash pool in Danson park which continues to be open every day of the year.

Bexley council wouldn’t have a different policy for the north than the south would they?

 

3 August (Part 2) - Bexley’s 1914 War commemoration. The parade and the singsong

The man in a yellow jacket who came out of the church just before 11:15 to tell his friends that the ruling classes would be out in ten minutes was fibbing, the exodus didn't commence until 11:45. Then everyone had to be marshalled into place by Mr. Dave Easton who traditionally does ‘master of ceremonies’ at this annual event. Leaving the right size gap between the leading band and the following one for the VIPs to fill at the last minute is done with military precision.

WW1 WW1 WW1 British Legion WW1 WW1 WW1 British Legion WW1 WW1 WW1 British Legion

At last everyone is in position and off they go on the short walk to the Clocktower, all except those too grand to put foot to cobble who take the council’s limousine. Who could that be?

WW1 WW1 WW1 British Legion

It’s that man again! Ian Payne had taken over the Clocktower end of the event ushering people to their seats.

WW1 WW1 WW1 British Legion

He made the introductory speech too, and some later ones. He began with “Welcome to Bromley” before correcting himself and insisting it was a deliberate error to attract everyone’s attention. Knowing him, it could just be true. The moment everyone erupted in laughter is captured in the fourth photo of the group above. Both the third and fourth reveal who took the limo rather than walk. Teresa Too Posh to Perambulate O’Neill no less.

WW1 WW1 WW1 British Legion

The mayor’s speech was short to the point of being non-existent, a few words about how nice the weather was prompting a few comments from a group standing alongside me.

Following that, Ian Payne introduced the singer and encouraged the assembled throng to join in some First World War songs. At which point I spotted a B11 bus in the distance and made my way to the bus stop. Life is too busy with other things at the moment to be able to spare more time keeping this blog alive during Bexley council’s prolonged holiday season.

 

3 August (Part 1) - Bexley’s 1914 War commemoration. The prelude

Far too many photos of this morning’s Civic Parade in Bexleyheath to examine and process right now but here are just a few from just before proceedings got going.
Councillors
Councillors and partners line up to join the procession. Why so few?
Public
But the public opposite Christ Church, even fewer!
Parade
Most councillors dress for the occasion, others don’t. Where’s Teresa? Quite a lot of buses held up.
Traffic stopped
And more buses at the Asda corner. The No Parking restrictions (cones) were still in place at 12:30, 45 minutes after the parade had passed. Broadway traders must have been well pleased.

More pictures later - probably.

 

2 August - Doesn’t he do well?

Ian PayneIt’s been a while since I’ve been to Bexleyheath Broadway and I have only read about the Business Improvement District manager putting sport on a big screen by the clock tower through the summer but haven’t see it yet. The WW1 Centenary Service from Glasgow is planned for Monday morning, 4th August.

Sport being not my thing, I went along this morning to see the First World War commemoration organised by Bexley council and the Historical Society.

I was lucky enough to catch a brief sunny spell which always brings out the best in the place and I was just thinking that it didn’t look at all bad when a glance skywards provided an image of the man who has done most to transform Broadway. No not Boris Johnson and his kerbless no priority junctions and traffic free-for-all but Ian Payne the boss of the Improvement District, for it is him who has done more to make Broadway an attractive destination than Bexley council and its high parking charges and heavy handed enforcement ever could. This morning it was a pleasant and even jolly place to be.

Whilst entertaining these thoughts who should I run into but the man himself and as usual he was out on the front line getting his boots muddy and doing his bit for the troops. I do like a man who loves his job and knows that a good manager doesn’t spend all his time in an office but takes a keen interest in the sharp end. Maybe we will see Paul Moore on a refuse cart or Will Tuckley in the Contact Centre one day.

Ian enthusiastically - I doubt he is ever anything else - told me he had personally researched the music and songs coming from the adjacent stage and it will be the same again tomorrow for the Civic Parade. The British Legion were out in force too.

WW1 WW1 WW1 British Legion

If only Bexley’s Conservative councillors were as chatty as Mr. Payne, When he is not putting Bexley to rights, Ian is a Tory councillor in Bromley.

 

1 August - Here we go again

Cracked roadIt was announced at one of the recent council meetings that the year old junction of Arnsberg Way with Woolwich Road is to be dug up again. Its disintegration under the pressure of many bus wheels was reported here - thanks to a reader - a month ago and was picked up by opposition councillors who brought it to the attention of the appropriate people.

The remedial work will commence later this month and Bexleyheath will once again experience the delights of temporary traffic lights.

Council’s announcement.

 

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