It’s a good job that councillors have given themselves a free coffee dispenser
at meetings in the new chamber because it means that every so often you get a
clear view of the top table. The pair of goons you see here have probably caused Bexley
residents more pain, anguish and misery than any other persons. On the left is
Ben Stephens who runs Bexley’s parking regime from his Bromley office and Mike Frizoni
(Deputy Director of Public Realm, £104,000 a year plus massive perks and
nearly seven weeks holiday a year) who takes pride in painting the borough
yellow. Maybe that is not an entirely accurate comment any more because central
Sidcup is to lose all its yellow lines, replaced with an inconspicuous sign on the
way in announcing that parking is banned everywhere. The more traps there are for the
unwary the more quickly the depleted coffers are filled.
It was Mr. Stephens who nearly had me in hysterics. He was at pains to tell everyone what a caring individual he is, waiving the fines of anyone who presented a reasonable excuse. It’s not long ago that a high profile voice within Bexley council was telling me how Stephens says no to everything. He doesn’t bend to sob stories even if they involve genuine medical emergencies. However it needs to be said that last year 9% of Bexley’s PCNs ended up waived one way or another and the total number of appeals to PATAS are down - but defeats for Bexley up.
Stephens went on to show his innate contempt for the public by circulating a brochure on the organisation of his department; but only to committee members. That is borderline criminal because the law demands that public meeting agenda material must be made available to the public. It’s not fair on live webcast viewers either.
Stephens effectively confirmed that he aims to be a tyrant when he announced that he had recently re-employed Greg Tippett. Tippett was widely seen as the wholly obnoxious Bexley parking manager for his policy of rejecting all appeals at the initial stage. Perhaps he was merely carrying out the cabinet member’s wishes. Perhaps too he has returned because there is no room for despotic skills such as his in the productive sector of the economy.
We learned from Mike Frizoni that the amalgamation of Bromley and Bexley’s Parking services will be completed in October 2016. At the moment they use different parking contractors and not all of the borough rules are the same. Bexley lets Blue Badge holders park in residents’ bays for example and Bromley doesn’t. You may speculate on how discrepancies such as that might be resolved.
Councillor Danny Hackett suggested that Frizoni should take account of the Crossrail induced problems around Abbey Wood station and in particular the huge difficulties imposed on traders in Wilton Road who really do need the provision of Business Bays.
Mr. Frizoni indicated he would take all of that on board but no one should believe a word he says. Earlier the same day he had publicly announced (see Legal Notices in the News Shopper) that he had stumbled upon some free parking spaces just three minutes walk from the station so he was going to remove them. (See composite Photo 3.)
He is not likely to install Business Parking Bays either because as you may see from Photo 4. he has only just removed them, confirmed by Page 38 of the meeting’s agenda. I suspect that councillors present swallowed Frizoni’s line, hook and sinker too. Scrutiny. What scrutiny?
Frizoni then droned on along a path familiar from previous years. Bexley issued the fifth lowest number of penalties in London. What he didn’t say is that he plans to increase that substantially by training his cameras on moving traffic offences and getting more Gestapo Wagons on to the streets. However he did admit that the emphasis has been on upping the number of tickets that attract the highest fines and taking less notice of minor transgressions like a wheel over the white line.
White lines crossed my mind again when Frizoni referred to the number of parking spaces in various places. The written report provides all the numbers but how does he count them? Around this part of the world there are no dividers between bays. It’s just one long space. Being vague allows Bexley to tell a lie that isn’t quite a lie.
The Agenda revealed that the number of Residents’ Parking Permits now stood at 2,618. It was over 3,000 before councillor Craske spun us a dishonest yarn about each one costing £240 to issue and whacked up the price three fold.
Councillor Borella (Labour) asked if there was any chance of Residents’ Parking Permit Holders getting additional benefits. Cheaper off street car parking charges for example, some other boroughs do that, but all he got by way of a response was a repeat of the multi car park and probably £1,000 plus season ticket promise.
Councillor Borella also asked about CEOs wearing video cameras, what effect has it had? It seems there have been a couple of prosecutions and it has helped with CEO training. Councillor Cheryl Bacon felt moved to make a positive comment about recording situations. I struggled to contain my mirth.
Recording is good she said because your memory of events soon goes and a record of what really happened is essential. Is this the same Cheryl Bacon who banned recording in June last year and a couple of days later couldn’t remember what had happened and had to make it all up?
I had overheard a rather noisy individual sitting not far from me ungallantly remark on the girth of councillor Bacon’s rear end when she passed by on her return from the coffee or water dispenser. What has always bothered me far more is the increasing length of her nose.