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Bonkers Blog August 2015

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14 August - Lesnes Abbey gives up some of its secrets

Danny HackettSomeone with close connections to Bexley council emailed overnight to shed a little light on the apparent lack of progress at Lesnes Abbey and whilst I was wondering if the information could be validated, Lesnes Abbey councillor Danny Hackett fortuitously Tweeted about the new Visitor Centre. It provided the perfect excuse to press him for a few answers. Were any of the rumours true?

It would appear that they are. All of them!

The project is running at least three months late and the planned 31st August opening date has been quietly forgotten. Early 2016 if you are lucky.

The gossip that circulated locally was well founded. The story about the horse skeleton; true! A new bit of boundary wall discovered? True again.

The steel framework is coming later than originally expected but not because it was forgotten, the design had to be changed for reasons which could not reasonably be foreseen. The frame is not now expected to be delivered much before the end of September.

I can see the Abbey about 200 metres from where I am typing these words and the close proximity drives home the fact that Bexley council is content to leave a Grade I Scheduled Ancient Monument with minimal security for five days a week, 9-5, and nothing whatsoever overnight or at weekends and bank holidays.

The neglect is scandalous.

As a result people trample all over the walls, light fires, illegally use metal detectors and break in to contractors’ huts and vehicles.

But why is Bexley council saying nothing publicly about their failure to stick to the schedule? Danny Hackett was unusually reticent about that but if I am any good at all at reading between the lines he is right to be so. Bexley council is doing what it does best, keeping things secret, but they have their reasons and the Visitor Centre will be all the better for it.

Whether there will be any specialist staff left to run the show in 2016 is another matter entirely. The Project Manager is not the only loss, but perhaps staff will be consoled by the fact that not every custodian of a Grade 1 listed building will leave it to the tender mercies of marauding vandals. Perhaps they will find a more responsible employer.


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