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Bonkers Blog September 2014

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25 September - Getting back to business

Six Bexley councillors got back to work last night when the Audit Committee reconvened in Public Gallery East - apologies to Licensing and Planning Committee members who don’t get a three month break.

Converting an old building society office to a town hall was never likely to provide ideal accommodation and the two small committee rooms are even worse than the council chamber for any member of the public who might wish to attend and actually see and hear. The meeting rooms are long and narrow and the top table is far away and committee members naturally address it rather than the public. It all makes for audibility being something of a challenge.

Committee Officer Sandra Baxter always does the best she can in the circumstances and this time had wheeled out the Hearing Loop kit which I do not believe was used by anyone, only John Watson and myself having braved the traffic gridlock that extended from Erith to Ruxley Corner yesterday evening.

The last Audit Committee meeting was dominated by councillor Steven Hall and his stream of questions, but this time he was eclipsed by Labour councillor Daniel Francis who had prepared a whole series of queries. Without him the meeting might have been over in 20 minutes rather than 70 (†).

Among the few interesting items that cropped up was that the council had underspent last year by £883,000 which has been transferred to the reserves. Councillor Francis asked what the reserves were as a percentage of overall expenditure. Finance Director Mike Ellsmore said that total expenditure excluding schools was about £160 million and total reserves were about £46 million so "around 30%”. “What would be a good level for reserves?” councillor Francis asked but Mr. Ellsmore said the issue was far too complicated for such a question but given “the volatility of council financing” he would prefer the figure to be higher than it is.

One of councillor Francis’ themes was how the academy status of many Bexley schools impacted on the council’s financial liabilities and he several times alluded to a Bexley school where there had been financial irregularities and who was going to pick up the bill. It would appear that one way or another it will be the council tax payer.

Another theme was Children’s Services which has soaked up an enormous amount of money with little to show for it apart from a Government Improvement Notice. Mr. Ellsmore said the demographics are getting steadily worse and the costs will rise. He lamented the fact that the work force was still not stable - they keep leaving! -and that impeded the spread of Bexley’s ethics. No comment please!

Councillor Francis expressed some concern about the council’s decision to insure itself only minimally and save a lot of money in the process. This has always seemed to me to be a sensible move. Why bloat the insurance company profits when you own enough property (or whatever) to spread the risk? One effectively becomes one’s own insurance company. Deputy Finance Director John Peters explained the theory and that the insurances that were in existence limited total liability.

ChairmanCouncillor Francis (second from left in photo above) arguably drifted off topic when he made reference to the ludicrous scrutiny situation recently introduced by leader Teresa O’Neill as part of her ambition to stifle debate. He said that we now have a 46 member People Scrutiny Committee of which Children’s Services is now relegated to a minor component. It was “not effective” and there were “grave ongoing concerns”, as well there might be, of everything related to the programme of ‘democratic deficit’ pursued by the leader. Perhaps chairman Joe Pollard agreed because he did nothing to stop councillor Francis from wandering towards the territory occupied by other committees.

Bexley’s auditors (Grant Thornton) were present and represented by Sue Exton and Geoffrey Banister. Ms. Exton said that the council does not maximise council tax collection which is not as good as other boroughs which continued to improve whilst Bexley usually has not. 2013/14 did show some improvement.

Mr. Ellsmore regretted the fact that despite trying a wide variety of incentives, Direct Debits remained stubbornly at the 66% mark, far below Bromley for example. Probably this is due to Bexley’s generally low value housing where people move in and disappear six months later. I see it frequently in my own road where there are flats mixed with detached houses and it would appear to be a very plausible explanation.

It still isn’t clear how Bexley is going to fill its £40 million black hole and the auditor has noticed.

In 2014, before the results of the public budget consultation has been analysed and ignored, this is probably to be expected and Ms. Exton agreed that many or even most councils were in the same boat.

This meeting was the last one to be graced by Finance Director Mike Ellsmore before his retirement at the end of the month. I am sorry to see him go, I don’t think his name has ever been associated with any negative comment on Bonkers (high salary apart!) and unlike any of his colleagues will exchange a friendly word or two when the opportunity arises. I am sure all the regular attendees at council meetings will be wishing him well with his retirement plans.

His successor starting work in Bexley in a week’s time will be Alison Griffin who comes from Camden but is no stranger to Bexley.

† The public were flung out after 70 minutes while some of the council’s dirty secrets were discussed in private.


22 September - Sidcup. Nearly done or done for?

CommentLast Monday the News Shopper reported that work on the Sidcup regeneration scheme had finally been completed. The report has since been corrected but not before readers had commented that Bexley council was lying again. I suspect it was the newspaper who had jumped the gun but the number of ‘likes’ given to the comment shows exactly what the public tends to think about Bexley council.

It’s five weeks since I last went to Sidcup and there was no opportunity to do so until today. As I was sure would be the case, work is still ongoing and the extensive traffic diversions are still in place. However the scheme is certainly in its final phase.

Sidcup Sidcup Sidcup Sidcup

These photos were taken at 1:25 today in the middle of a sunny lunchtime. I wouldn’t say it was busy but I did have to wait around 30 seconds for a reasonably clear view for Photo 1.

I’m still not sure how the year of disruption is supposed to help Sidcup thrive. Two junctions have been given the ‘kerb less’ treatment and the ends of Hatherley and Hadlow Roads are now going to be used for occasional events with the consequent disruption to traffic and trade. Some of the shop fronts now look very smart and are a credit to their designers, but apart from that; what?

The footpaths have all been replaced but they are merely cleaner versions of the perfectly good ones that were there before, (click for Before and After photo) and there are a few trees and granite slabs for benches. There are no significant parking improvements and the London taxpayer is £1·8 million worse off.

Sidcup looks better than it did but for that amount of money and nine months of chaos I cannot see anything to celebrate apart from the fact that the job is just about done and that I probably won’t have to go there any more.


21 September (Part 2) - Parking outside schools. Always a problem

News Shopper When I was at school only one teacher regularly brought his car to school (a lime green MG) and I have no recollection of any pupil being driven in by a parent. Certainly I never was even though my father owned a car and it was about 12 miles by road from home to school. But times change and now ‘the school run’ is a problem everywhere. Bexleyheath Academy in Woolwich Road is no exception and the head teacher has been engaged in a campaign to make access to his school safer.

On June 18th 2014 his efforts were featured in the News Shopper. Councillor Don Massey told the paper he was pleased that students were taking the issue seriously; so presumably he was fully behind their efforts. But was his sound bite translated into real action? Nope! Afraid not. Here is what the head teacher wrote to parents a couple of days ago…

All the ideas put forward, zebra crossing, 20 m.p.h. zone, speed humps, mini-roundabout, were rejected. The head teacher reported that his pupils felt they were “simply not listened to”. Well that is what Bexley council does and they will have learned a good and useful lesson.

Personally I think that humps and 20 m.p.h. zones are a waste of money but it’s hard to think of a reason not to have a pedestrian crossing. It’s a busy road and it’s a big school. It must be the cuts again.

Click images for the complete documents.

Note: The letter from the head teacher was reconstructed from a text file. The layout varies from the original document.


21 September (Part 1) - Park with impunity

Bad parking Bad parkingBexley council always excuses its staff parking illegally by claiming they are allowed to do so while carrying out official duties. Does that include reading the newspaper and devouring a burger?

GN04 EHJ, Gayton Road, Abbey Wood. 08:24 20th September 2014.


20 September - Crossrail makes its presence felt all around Abbey Wood

There isn’t a rail closure through Abbey Wood this weekend and major infrastructure changes may be on pause but there has been no shortage of smaller jobs being progressed.

Crossrail Crossrail CrossrailI have no idea what is going on at the extreme eastern end of the line, under the Lesnes Abbey footbridge, where the overhead electricity supply is going to end.

The area shown was closed off at the end of August and this week work began on erecting a substantial fence.

As there is nothing but grass between my house and this fence I am disappointed that Crossrail have not said what is going on. When they were drilling soil samples every local resident was sent a letter of explanation.

At Abbey Wood station there has been progress on both the new booking office and the footbridge.

Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Wilton Road Wilton Road Harrow Manorway

The footbridge has had some of the side panels filled in and a rather plain rectangular building has been erected by the side of the booking office. One of the stall holders at the station said it was the new shopping facility.

Nearby yet more large concrete pipes were being manoeuvred into another deep hole in the ground. Crossrail are clearly taking water dispersal far more seriously than Bexley council ever did.

In Wilton Road Greenwich council has modified its junction with Knee Hill to allow two way working. Bexley has yet to act and up on the Harrow Manorway viaduct a pedestrian crossing is being installed.

The illegal Bus Lane will be no more and all traffic will have to use a single lane. It is to be hoped that not too many buses arrive at once or a tail-back will become inevitable.

Index to past Crossrail blogs.


19 September (Part 2) - Hill View sold. Residents sold down the river

Hill View Hill ViewThe sale of the council offices at Hill View to Bellway Homes was a vital component of funding the flash new council offices in Watling Street. There was never any doubt that Bellway would get planning permission.

Councillor James Hunt put on a show of backing the residents’ objections. He said the over close proximity of new and old property was a “serious issue” and flooding was a big problem. Former councillor Mike Slaughter was concerned about a number of things; drainage, the fact that supposed two story houses had rooms in the roof and that the council was turning a blind eye to numerous breaches of its own planning rules.

Councillor Brian Bishop was similarly critical and former councillors Allon and O’Neill (Labour) were far from enthusiastic yet come the vote and there was not a single dissenter. Never mind the blatant disregard for rules such as the minimum separation distance which should be 22 metres being under 16, Teresa Neill’s plan for funding Watling Street were paramount. If this was not a planning fiddle I’m not sure what is. Local residents had every right to feel aggrieved.

In one case this translated into a Judicial Review at the High Court but from what I could gather lawyers on both sides came to the conclusion that success would only delay proceedings. Bexley council would merely move the goalposts slightly and give permission again.

So six months after the dubious planning permission was given the site has finally been sold and we have yet another example of Bexley council bending the rules for its own ends and to hell with ‘Listening to you’.
Hill View sold
A request to set up a Neighbourhood Planning Area to benefit local residents has been ignored by Bexley council. I wonder why.


19 September (Part 1) - Offloading Bexley’s costs on to someone else

The number of my friends and relations in hospital is currently reduced to two. It could have been only one except for what the patient called ‘Bloody Bexley’. He has been very unwell and it is seven weeks since he was admitted. The doctors came to the view he had recovered sufficiently to go home at the beginning of this month but he would need home care. It took a week to get a start date out of Bexley council and his transport home was arranged for this morning. However it was not to be. Bexley council’s cuts have bitten so deep that there is no one available to do home visits.

Once again Bexley’s cuts cause heartache and inconvenience and the costs to be deferred to another government agency, just like not locking parks at night pushes costs on to the police. Incidentally, I have only been into one park since 1st September after dark and no one else was there. It felt slightly spooky so I beat a hasty retreat.

For another ‘incidentally’, I have been to King’s College Hospital as a visitor eight times this year and only once has the train back from Denmark Hill not been cancelled, and the one exception got stuck at a red light The driver kept apologising but didn’t know why and I got home 20 minutes late. I am beginning to see why South Eastern is regularly voted the worst train company in the country.


18 September - Road congestion. It’s all part of the plan

I have spoken to two council people this week and neither disagreed that council news has been non-existent in recent weeks. My preoccupation with other matters has ended, the reason for posting nothing is solely down to a lack of input. There have been minor developments with Mick Barnbrook’s correspondence with the police but all it suggests to me is that the investigating officer - the same one as is investigating the political interference into the Craske affair - simply hasn’t got a clue as to what has been going on.

One correspondent, who I have heard from before, is a several times daily user of the Trinity Square roundabout, ‘T’ junction, free for all or whatever, and below is a shortened version of his report on the chaos that reigned there earlier today. The hoped for improved behaviour that might come from user familiarity is yet to materialise.

As was obvious to everyone except the highly paid incompetents in Bexley Council Highways design dept. the oversized traffic island on the Welling side of the magic roundabout is a recipe for trouble and it was there in abundance this morning. Probably the design is the work of the same incompetent who widened the island at the Blendon roundabout and doubled the queue in Penhill Road.

Due to some incident on the A2 this morning a lot of Welling bound traffic opted for the Broadway instead. It caused a queue to the magic roundabout and beyond with two lines up Albion Road stretching almost back to the Townley Road roundabout.

Not all traffic was Welling bound and a fair proportion wanted to turn right into Church Road which was completely clear as was its approach lane. However traffic that wanted to turn right could not get to the clear right turn lane because of the idiotic island design which forces all traffic whether straight on or right turn into a single line to get past this stupid island.

Move the island kerb back a couple of feet and the pinch point would be eradicated, but Bexley council has no interest in relieving congestion since it is obvious from the island design that they deliberately created the problem to create maximum congestion.

Albion RoadEven after an appreciable settling down period drivers are still totally bemused by the magic roundabout. Some treat it as a roundabout - others a Tee junction - others just hope for the best and brazenly force their way across. The council have recently put up little blue signs on the approaches saying 'shared space' whatever good they think these will do. Why not just designate it as a roundabout so everyone would know how to treat it - or is that too sensible for Bexley council?

The nearby roundabout at the Oaklands Road car park entrance is too small and I have yet to see any vehicle actually follow the lane markings. Particularly when travelling from Broadway towards Townley Road most vehicles go straight across both circular lane markings. Cannot Bexley council highway designers ever get anything right?


14 September (Part 2) - Crossrail update

As far as the casual onlooker could tell, there were only two jobs being actively pursued this weekend on the Plumstead/Abbey Wood section of Crossrail.

What is probably the temporary station’s booking office appeared to be being provided with a shelter for waiting passengers.

Further west the now redundant Dartford bound track was being broken up and removed in small sections.

Larger sections (see the fifth of the pictures below) proved to be troublesome due to their tendency to mimic pendulums.

Some pictures as usual; and for the trainspotters, a new Index to past Crossrail blogs.

Station Crosrail Crossrail Crosrailt Crosrail Crosrail Crosrail Signpost

Some sort of track alignment must have been going on. After vehicle shown traversed the new Dartford bound track some men got busy levering the new curve.


14 September (Part 1) - Abbey Wood loses out again

Yellow lineWhat appeared to be a relatively short term restriction on parking on the Bexley side of Harrow Manorway has been given a degree of permanency by the double yellow lines which appeared last week. They were painted by JB Riney, contractors to Greenwich council.

Bexley residents had no opportunity to comment on this incursion into their borough unless perhaps they make a habit of reading the legal notices from neighbouring authorities.

Greenwich are no strangers to incursions into Bexley. They put up dog fouling notices along one of the entrance points to Lesnes Abbey which is nearly half a mile beyond their jurisdiction.

The ‘Before’ pictures may be seen here.

Recycling No RecyclingAnother thing that Bexley residents didn’t get a chance to comment on is the removal of the recycling facility close to Abbey Wood Station. Without warning it has gone.

I shall particularly miss the ‘Small Electrical Appliances’ bin especially as I stopped Mick Barnbrook from putting a small computer in his green bin and drove with it to Abbey Wood. Now it will likely stay in my garage for ever now that the itinerant scrap merchants have been driven out of town.

I’m told scrap metal still disappears quickly from front gardens in Bromley. Maybe I can swap the computer for some of the compost which regularly travels in the opposite direction.


12 September (Part 2) - Coming to a kerb near you

Yellow lineIf you have the impression that it is getting ever more difficult to park in Bexley that may be because it is; and not just because two council car parks have closed this year.

Double yellow lines are being extended at an alarming rate. 44 roads announced for the cash cow treatment in just the last two weeks of August alone.

44 extra parking restrictions announced in the eight days ending 3rd September

Balcombe Close
Berwick Crescent
Blendon Drive
Blendon Road
Brixham Road
Burnt Oak Lane
Byron Drive
Caithness Gardens
Church Manorway
Cloudsley Road
Cookson Grove
Days Lane
Dickens Close
Dorchester Avenue
Faraday Avenue
Glenhurst Avenue
Grovebury Close
Hatherley Crescent
Hook Lane
Hurst Road
Jubilee Way
Kenley Close
Lesney Park
Lesney Park Road
Manor Way
Maple Leaf Drive
Murchison Avenue
Newbery Road
North Close
Park Crescent
Ridgecroft Close
Salisbury Road
South Close
Sydney Road
Tenby Road
The Grove
Wansunt Road
Wheelock Close
Wilde Road
Willersley Avenue
Woodchurch Close
Woodstock Close
Yorkland Avenue

It all helps fill Bexley’s depleted coffers.


12 September (Part 1) - The claims, the truth and the Teflon boss

Claim Joy ThanksOn 5th March 2014 the former deputy council leader Colin Campbell said “the council has “revolutionised and redesigned children’s services. We have committed millions to that service”.

At the council meeting on 30th April 2014 former cabinet member for Children’s Services, Katie Perrior, said about Bexley’s Safeguarding Children programme that she “was pleased with the performance so far”.

During the election campaign Bexley’s Conservatives made all sorts of claims about its achievements and how things were going to get even better. Chief Executive Will Tuckley was featured in the News Shopper praising both staff and councillors. It was pure PR and hid the real story.

So what is the truth of the matter? Yesterday the Department for Communities and Local Government lost patience with Bexley council.
Murphy Hardly surprising given the number of Bexley’s children who have died under the present management regime.

Download the Improvement Notice (PDF - 130KB).

Read how Rhys Lawrie died and how Bexley council failed him.


8 September - Bexley councillors on holiday longer than ever

There has not been a council meeting of note since 23rd July and there will not be another until 9th October. I’m excluding statutory requirements like Licensing and Planning and obscure gatherings like Pensions which I don’t attend. To be pedantic the Audit Committee meets on 24th September and I do sometimes report on that one, but basically there is nothing much going on.

Last year business was in full swing well before the end of September but with council leader Teresa O’Neill determined to clamp down on scrutiny there are obviously far fewer meetings to be squeezed into the timetable.

Personally I still have my hands full. Three friends and family members in hospital and there are still some things to do at home, though not as urgent and time consuming as recently. However time to follow up reports has been hard to come by.

The backlog of emails is being tackled but some promised phone calls are now so late that it is embarrassing. Meanwhile there is always Crossrail on my doorstep. What looks like the temporary booking office was delivered over the weekend. Here’s a few pictures - straight into the sun as usual. At least there is some sun, it’s not been around much this month.

Crossrail Crossrail CrossrailIt may or may not be the new booking office, the small windows suggest it might be but the presence of a door between them in addition to the one at the end may indicate something different.

Whatever they do let’s hope they provide a big canopy for the long queues which afflict Abbey Wood from time to time. The sun doesn’t always shine.


6 September - The ’cup floweth over

Sidcup is having a good September. The High Street is scheduled to get back to normal by the end of the month and yesterday it was featured on BBC television news.

Residents are so pleased at what Bexley council has done for them that they have been dancing in the streets today. (Council’s announcement.)

Those not best suited to dancing queued at the gym for membership.
Click image for the complete picture.


5 September (Part 2) - You can’t believe any of them

Strip ShowAccording to Bexley council the unlicensed strip show at The Charlotte in Crayford, a pub owned by councillor Geraldene Lucia-Hennis, was not a council event nor an official mayoral event. In other words what went on on 21st March was nothing to do with Bexley council, more an impromptu fun night among friends.

The Charlotte’s licence specifically excludes nudity and any other publican who flouted the law would no doubt find themselves in big trouble, but let’s not dwell on that. One rule for them is what one expects of any council.

Having been tipped off by the proverbial impeccable source (†) that Bexley council at the highest level had washed their hands of any involvement in the events of 21st March it might be reasonable to assume that there would be no reference to it in any official council document.

However as everyone knows, no one should assume anything about Bexley council when it finds itself mixed up in law breaking.

This is what former mayor Sharon Massey’s official mayoral - not personal - diary says…
† There is no doubt about it but in this case it is not possible to publish the evidence.


5 September (Part 1) - Bexley council. Twinned with Rotherham

The news from Yorkshire has shown that Bexley is not the only place where the police exists primarily to protect a criminal council.

CraskeWe’ve seen Bexley police admit to political interference after an obscene blog was traced to councillor Peter Craske’s phone line. They bowed to pressure from leader Teresa O’Neill when she complained to them that I was “criticising councillors on a personal level”. Councillor Melvin Seymour told the police that blogger John Kerlen had encouraged people to put dog faeces through his letter box when he had neither mentioned dogs, councillor Seymour or his address. Bexley police obediently prosecuted John Kerlen.

When three year old Rhys Lawrie was ignored by Bexley council’s social services and died from 39 injuries after a lifetime of abuse, the police dismissed the hospital report and said it was a natural death, apparently in an attempt to absolve Bexley council of blame.

Bridleway 250 was illegally closed and the police came to Bexley council’s aid by untruthfully claiming it had been a crime hot spot. More recently, last year’s mayor Sharon Massey was involved in an unlicensed strip show at the deputy mayor’s pub and the matter was brushed under the carpet at a meeting held on 13th June. Those present were Diane Kraus, Bexley Trading Services, Clive Cain, Head of Public Protection and Chief Inspector Ian Broadbridge from Bexley council’s outpost in Arnsberg Way.

StrippersIf that last name is familiar to you it is because he is the police officer that Mick Barnbrook thought was an honest copper.

Mick was so sure of Broadbridge’s good intentions in the case of Cheryl Bacon’s ‘Closed Session’ that he asked me to soften the tone of a blog in which my own view that there is no such thing as an honest copper (when judged by their willingness to shop an obviously bent one), had come to the fore. Mick thought I was wrong in this case but he knows better now.

It is a while since the complaints about the repercussions of councillor Cheryl Bacon’s lies were last mentioned here, so please excuse a quick resumé of the relevant part.

RecorderOn 19th June 2013 Nicholas Dowling attempted to record a council meeting. Six other members of the public were present who sat and watched. Cheryl Bacon was advised to take the public meeting into closed session (her words not mine) which would be an illegal act unless all seven members of the public were causing a serious disturbance. They were not, so Bexley council had to lie in order to get Bacon off the hook. It would have been so much simpler to have said, sorry we got it wrong.

Ten people, including four councillors, have made written statements to the effect that no one other than Nicholas did anything untoward at that meeting. A typical councillor comment being “at no time was there any general disturbance created by any member of the pubic, all of whom remained polite and orderly at all times”. An internal council memo says much the same thing. Five councillors have written that they are unable to support councillor Cheryl Bacon’s statement that various people were shouting and waving papers.

The police at the time said no offences had been committed by any member of the public, all of which tends to drop Bexley council into the mire of its own making.

Public in council chamberNotwithstanding all the evidence to the contrary, police constables Kelly and Arthurs who attended the incident were persuaded to write statements to the effect that they were present when a council official asked all six members of the public still remaining in the council chamber to leave. The statements are said to be that all six refused and had to be forcibly ejected.

You may wonder why the police told the press that no offences were committed and how, after being so badly treated, I described them as two jovial bobbies. The police officers didn’t even speak to Nicholas Dowling who had attempted to make the audio recording. Neither did they ask for anyone’s name. Let’s not beat about the bush; if those statements are as described by CI Broadbridge in more than one email, they are outrageous lies designed to back the claims of a lying council.

As you might expect, Bexley police refused to provide a copy of the statements.

Mr. Barnbrook informed CI Broadbridge of his intention to make criminal allegations against PCs Peter Arthurs and Sean Kelly and Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling for the roles they had played in this perversion of justice. Chief Inspector Broadbridge pretended to be helpful by anticipating Mick’s allegation and reporting the matter to the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards. The DPS is not as secretive as Bexley police and decided to released CI Ian Broadbridge’s statement. It was not helpful at all. It does not reflect Mick Barnbrook’s intentions and delivers falsehoods as if they were facts.

Firstly it said Mick was going to make a complaint when he planned a criminal allegation. Secondly it made no mention of CS Peter Ayling, and finally, Broadbridge’s summary of the situation emphasises the council’s fabricated case in defence of Cheryl Bacon. The effect is that the DPS recorded the report as a minor misdemeanour and that Bexley should investigate themselves and Mick’s criminal allegation is to be ignored.

Here is the relevant extract from CI Broadbridge’s report.
DPS Notification
The full report to the Directorate of Professional Standards may be seen here.

A correction…
On 20th August I reported that Mick Barnbrook’s criminal allegations against Will Tuckley, Lynn Tyler and Mal Chivers had been referred back to Bexley police for investigation. Mick has asked me to say that this may not be correct. His allegation went directly to Commissioner Bernard Howe who passed it on to his Directorate of professional Standards. The DPS told Mick that they only investigate allegations against police officers which is true - but it was Hogan-Howe who sent it to that department, not Mick.

The allegation is now in no man’s land but Mick is arguing that the council and the police were engaged in a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and as such the investigation should not be split across two investigations.

The consequences of one woman’s lies continue to amaze me.


3 September - Catching up with Crossrail

TCrossrailhere were no trains services between Slade Green and Plumstead last weekend and the Dartford bound track has now been realigned to ’match’ the Up line laid at the end of June.

Apart from what may be seen in the photographs there is little extra information that can be added.

It is self evident that work is falling behind the schedule published on Crossrail’s website - the new station was scheduled for Summer 2014 and there is no sign of it apart from the new footbridge.

If you lurk near the orange jacketed management staff occasionally to be seen around the site you may overhear them lamenting the fact that so little of the stuff delivered fits without remedial work. Maybe the recent BBC documentary was a touch optimistic.

Abbey Wood Crossrail Signpost Signpost Signpost Signpost Signpost Signpost

Photo 1 30th August. Remainder 31st August.


2 September (Part 2) - Postscripts to earlier blogs

Harrow Manorway Harrow ManorwayI had expected double yellow lines to be daubed along Harrow Manorway by now because the notices put up yesterday are not a lot of good without them and on top of that the sign is unusual to say the least.

However no one has taken any notice of the parking ban so maybe the line painters couldn’t do their work.

It is possible that the new restrictions have more to do with Cross Quarter than Crossrail, the enormous development taking shape across the road in Greenwich. There will be a hotel and a Sainsburys supermarket and the sound of piling has filled the air for the past couple of weeks.

Cross Quarter Cross QuarterMoving on to yesterday’s blog about Will Tuckley’s wig, someone who was taking an interest in that sort of thing long before I was lost no time in emailing me a contradiction.

According to him, Tuckley’s predecessor Nick Johnson never wore a wig.

I have no corroboration but ‘It has for many years been the convention’ may have to go down as as another Bexley council lie.


2 September (Part 1) - Abbey Wood parking gets even more difficult

TweetA month ago I heard the traders near Abbey Wood Station complaining about the downturn in trade following the removal of about 16 parking spaces due to Crossrail construction. Customers, it was said, were complaining of nowhere to park and sometimes going away. One of the traders asked me about organising a petition and I told him that Bexley council generally throws away residents’ petitions and his best bet was to get a Lesnes Abbey councillor on side and I passed on their contact details to him.

On 12th August I emailed councillor Danny Hackett to let him know what I had done and why but without specifically seeking his assistance. His reply said he was keeping his eye on the situation and would speak to the shopkeepers. This he did as you can see from his Tweet.

It is difficult to see how the situation could be improved given the need to provide access for large vehicles and lay railway track so close to Gayton Road. The only room for improvement I can see is that the proportion of Disabled Bays was always rather high and now the proportion has been approximately doubled. The situation cannot be allowed to get any worse but it would appear that it just has.

On the Thamesmead side of the railway 21 parking spaces were taken away yesterday. The spaces along Harrow Manorway were mainly used by all day commuters but their loss will inevitably have knock on effects.

Harrow Manorway No Parking Bus Stop Traffic Order

No ParkingThe signs were erected yesterday morning and as the spaces were fully occupied no yellow lines were painted. The bus stop had been taken out of use too.

The curious thing is that the Traffic Order was issued by Greenwich council. According to my A-Z the borough border goes along the middle of Harrow Manorway and Lensbury Way is definitely in Bexley, so why is Greenwich council legislating over Lensbury Way? See Photo 4, paragraph 1ii.

Meanwhile nearer the railway station Bexley council has banned parking just where it could be easily and safely provided.


1 September (Part 3) - Fancy that. ‘ere wigo again

WigWhen I’ve seen Will Tuckley at council meetings all dressed up in a wig complete with pirate’s pigtail I’ve always assumed it must signify recognition that he is in some way responsible for upholding lawful operations within Bexley council. What a ridiculous concept!

Mr. John Watson, a regular attendee at council meetings who worked within the legal fraternity all his life wasn’t so sure and decided to ask Bexley council why its Chief Executive wears a wig. He actually got a reply!

It said, “The Annual meeting of the Council is historically, both a formal and ceremonial event, which witnesses the swearing-in to office of the new Mayor and the retirement from office of the outgoing Past Mayor. It has for many years been the convention that Bexley’s Chief Executive, as advisor to the Mayor at this meeting, wears the wig and gown.”

It doesn’t really explain why Will has been seen wearing the wig at other meetings but it confirms that my supposition was wrong and John was right. Will Tuckley’s wig is pure fancy dress.


1 September (Part 2) - Erith Fun Day

Fun Day Fun Day I know I have not been paying attention recently but if it was not for an announcement on Arthur Pewty’s Maggot Sandwich I would not have known that there was to ‘Fun Day’ in Erith’s Riverside Gardens last Saturday. This is the only place in the borough of Bexley which allows the public free access to the river. A valuable space which Teresa O’Neill wanted to sell off, fortunately the deal fell through, but the threat remains.

Lots of local organisations were represented and rather more detail is available on Arthur Pewty.

The main event as far as I was concerned was the unveiling of the signpost which marks the arrival of Alexander Selkirk in Erith. Alexander Selkirk was a Scottish sailor and the inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s book, Robinson Crusoe.

The commemorative sign is, I understand, the brainchild of former Labour councillor Maggie O’Neill who commissioned the work by local company WDS Signs and obtained the planning permission etc. The sign was unveiled by Erith and Thamesmead MP, Teresa Pearce.

Signpost Signpost Signpost Signpost
Signpost Signpost Signpost Signpost


1 September (Part 1) - Here we go again

Crossrail Crossrail CrossrailThe title is stolen from 1st August but it seems not inappropriate here.

After Crossrail were defeated by the tail end of hurricane Bertha and abandoned their attempt to install the new Church Manorway footbridge on 11th August they put it in overnight to minimise disruption to pedestrians who faced a long detour while the old bridge was shut.

The new bridge is not yet commissioned - the disabled access is far from being complete - but at least the old footbridge is open again.


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