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Bonkers Blog August 2015

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31 August - Ramblings

Regular site visitors will know better than to look at BiB on the last day of the month expecting to read something significant. With Month View being by far the most popular BiB viewing mode it’s not worth putting much of an effort into something that gets lost the very next day. However, here's a filler for those who think I must have snuffed it when nothing appears.

Copped off
TweetYesterday afternoon the air around Lesnes Abbey was filled with the sound of motorcycle engines. It quite often is.

For the past month I have kept a camera with a long lens on it ready for such eventualities but the sight lines from home are not good and yesterday the light was so poor I didn’t even try.

However Brian Barnett high up in his tower block sees everything.

Tower block
Brian sent his motorbike pictures to Thamesmead police via Twitter.

A waste of time as Brian soon discovered. On the August Bank Holiday weekend, Bexley is left very much under-policed while “most of the team” battle with the muggers and pickpockets attracted to Notting Hill.

One of the ladies manning the Peabody tent on Friday told me that her handbag was much lighter returning from her visit to Notting Hill than it was when she went.

Shoreham. We have become a load of wimps
B17To wander right off topic, what is all this nonsense about flying displays? Shoreham was a tragedy and I know that part of the A27 because my mother lived nearby.

I can understand Hunters being grounded until the cause of the crash is discovered, but no aerobatics over land and now no trailing smoke effects? What a bunch of ninnies we have become!

I lived in Farnborough (Hampshire) from 1949 until 1958 and only just beyond its borders from then until 1984.

Little boys in 1949 were either Spitfire or Hurricane supporters as they flew over schools and homes.

When the jets took over, the boy gangs split into Hawker Hunter fans or Supermarine Swift supporters. Anyone expressing a preference for the American Sabre was ostracised completely.

They were all supersonic in a dive and the double boom was a familiar sound as they zoomed out of the sky over housing estates, schools and the town in general. No one cared. I saw a Gloster Meteor come down once narrowly missing the railway line. It was just one of those things.

Every little boy knew the names of the test pilots, Neville Duke, John Derry, Bill Waterton, John Cunningham, Roland Beamont. There were no pop stars to worship so we made do with real men.

In the week leading up to the 1952 Farnborough Show there was a new plane on view. A black de Havilland 110; with its twin boom design it bore a resemblance to the older Vampire and it captured the imagination of many a little urchin as it flew over our homes at little more than tree top level.

On the Saturday my parents attended the show while I, a not quite nine year old, was left with dozens more freeloaders with our noses pressed into the wire fence. I suspect Dad took Mum in on one of his trade passes, it was an expensive day out even then.

When the DH110 came over, I and no doubt every little Farnborough schoolboy, noticed it was white and not the usual black one. (Google says it was silver but I remember it as white.) And as everyone has been reminded over the past week it broke up and one of the engines hurtled into the spectators.

The little gang of aircraft spotters went home and in my case thinking not a lot of it. Mum and Dad came home and spoke of it obviously but I do not recall any hysterics from anyone. If I am not muddling it up with another accident the local technical college was turned into a temporary mortuary.

Planes were always falling out of the sky. One of the Red Arrows forerunners ploughed into Blackbushe airport (the scene of the recent Bin Laden family crash) or somewhere nearby while the rest of the team carried on. A de Havilland Dove (which my father occasionally flew in) went into the hill at the western end of Farnborough’s runway.

The only crash that seemed real to me was when I exchanged a wave with a low flying helicopter pilot and three minutes later he and the rest of the crew were dead.

I’d better not tell you about the time me and the gang scaled Farnborough’s perimeter fence and had our hair singed by a Royal Navy Buccaneer which dropped some sort of napalm bomb as part of its display.

If little boys are not allowed to be thrilled by aeroplanes, what hope is there for engineering in this country?

Tower Hamlets etc.
If you have waded down this far you probably deserve to learn something possibly interesting about Will Tuckley.

As you know, the police have told both Mick Barnbrook and me that they have referred the allegation of Misconduct in Public Office to the Crown Prosecution Service and there is likely to be a long wait.

Nobody should be under any illusion that Will Tuckley is likely to be prosecuted. Something will inevitably be arranged to get him off the hook, just as it was when councillor Peter Craske was in the frame.

It’s just a matter of what excuse the authorities decide to come up with and all that the general public will get out of it is further proof that authority in Britain has become corrupt from top to bottom.

I may be paranoid but I think the police in Greenwich who have, as far as I can tell, been very thorough with their investigation, may now be covering their backsides against the inevitable.

Whilst they have willingly confirmed during telephone conversations that Will Tuckley’s name is with the CPS they are strangely reluctant to put that in writing. Mick Barnbrook managed to get a promise to do so which came to nothing, and I have asked by email three times and got no reply to them all.

Maybe they are just very busy.

By the way, there is nothing very significant for tomorrow either. Anyone got a scandal that needs to be aired?

 

30 August - Lion Road fails to roar

The weekly trip to Broadway to observe progress on Phase II of its regeneration was not especially interesting. The traffic queues were short both in length and duration.
Broadway Broadway Broadway Broadway
The inconvenience fell mainly on bus passengers and pedestrians.

TfL in their usual uncaring way provided no on board warning of the Lion Road bus stop closure and the walk back from the Asda stop would be quite a long one for anyone heavily laden or not wholly fit. (The gap before the Lion Road stop is much shorter.)


Broadway BroadwayAt the Lion Road junction, pedestrians were forced to cross the road twice because the footpath was entirely closed on the southern side of Broadway.

There had not been sufficient progress on the scheme to get any sense of what may one day appear, meanwhile there is the artist’s impression below.

Make the most of it because it may not be built to last. Outside the Asda supermarket the paving stones are making a dash for freedom. Slowly migrating towards the kerb.

Well the two year old road blocks broke free from captivity, why not the paving stones?

Lion Road

 

29 August (Part 2) - Arty in the Park

The Lesnes Abbey event yesterday gave the impression of having been organised by enthusiastic junior Bexley council employees with a total lack of support from above.

The Parkour was supposed to get an official opening at 2 p.m. but arriving only two minutes late I saw no sign of it. No mayor cutting a ribbon, not even a ward councillor present. My enquiries revealed that neither they nor Teresa Pearce MP were invited.

There were four event stands present and a face painter. Even the ice cream van failed to make an appearance.

ArtisansThe people in the green tents (Photo 1 of 4 below) had a few leaflets about the Abbey for the inquisitive but nothing that hasn’t been seen countless times before. I was hoping to pick up something about the recent archaeological finds but there is apparently unlikely to be any more news until next year.

The abbey groundsman told me that the builders were expected to move on to the Visitor Centre site on 10th September but I could probably have asked him about that at any time.

Peabody Housing had put on a reasonable show with diagrams of their proposed improvements to the Green Chain Walk. The Yarnton Road to Southmere Lake section should be finished within the next two or three weeks or to put it another way, nearly four months late.

The Yarnton Road to Alsike Road section will get similar treatment soon afterwards; landscaping and the steeply inclined paths made a little easier. There was even some talk of replacing the ugly concrete bridge over the railway line at some time but that is more hope and aspiration at the moment and will be a long way off.

Green Chain
A Bexley council employee with a clipboard was floating around seeking ideas for improving the Ridgeway, which is the walkway over the old Bazalgette sewer that ends at Crossness.

By far the most popular stand was run by Karen and Charlie Slade who had driven in period costume from Leicestershire to demonstrate the ancient crafts of tile making and mixing lime mortar.
Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes

 

29 August (Part 1) - Good thinking batman

Park
Councillor Peter Craske announced in his recent Press Release that a parkour would be officially opened in the Lesnes Abbey Park playground on 28th August and I had no idea what a parkour was. The park is only three or four minutes walk from home so I went along to take a look.

The parkour is situated right next to the slide that was burnt out in June, allegedly by young teenagers. The parkour cost £45,000, the slide was more like £105,000.

The purpose of the parkour is without much doubt to attract teenagers, which it was doing very successfully. It is certainly not suitable for the under tens for which the playground mainly caters and yesterday the only people using it were fit young men.
Parkour Parkour Parkour Parkour
I do hope that Cabinet Member Craske has thought this one through.
Craske

 

28 August (Part 2) - Time to go

Peter ScopesIt’s not just dealing with a lying Bexley council all the time that can be ever so slightly depressing, it’s also going to the back pages of the Daily Telegraph and finding someone you know featured large on the obituary page.

Twice in the past couple of years I have read about old classmates from Farnborough Grammar School. First it was professor Terry Hamblin who was a world class haematologist specialising in cancer of the lymph system - ironically he died of exactly that - and then there was Jock Young, reckoned to be the world’s leading criminologist, whatever that might be, but it sounds as though I could have done with him alongside me in Bexley.

Today it was Peter Scopes from Sidcup.

He was briefly a Bexley councillor but there was much more to him that that. I met him several times while following the story of Bexley council’s failed attempt to prosecute Rita Grootendorst. He was giving her able and expert advice despite being not in the best of health.

A man versed in many subjects, author, mathematician, school teacher in both Eltham and Tanzania, overseas adviser to HMG and lay preacher. Being a LibDem councillor in Bexley must have seemed like an awful comedown. But a brilliant man on my brief acquaintance and a great loss to all who knew him.

Click image for obituary.

 

28 August (Part 1) - Tower Hamlets council given more to think about

It can become a little depressing that various authorities will always accept the word of the liars at Bexley council over people like Mick Barnbrook and myself who are always meticulous in our reporting of events such as councillor Cheryl Bacon’s closed session meeting and the appointment of Will Tuckley as Chief Executive to Tower Hamlets council.

There is absolutely no need to make things up or exaggerate when reporting Bexley council, one would get found out sooner or later or be sued for libel.

The Commissioners at Tower Hamlets were sufficiently concerned about Mick’s email to make enquiries in Bexley and received all the assurances they needed to dismiss his home truths  out of hand. A vexatious fascist blogger.

I decided I would throw my own hat into the ring and send an email to the Commissioners.

An edited version appears below. It is edited only to protect honest Conservative councillors in Bexley - there are some - from retribution from above. Retribution that has been meted out before when the ruling clique believed too many truths had leaked out. They hadn’t but that is another story.

Taking out whole paragraphs weakens the email considerably but it has to be done to protect certain individuals from the wrath of Teresa O’Neill OBE (Outmanoeuvring Barnbrook’s Email).


Dear Sirs,

I am amazed at the reports following your meeting to appoint Mr. Tuckley as Chief Executive, both from those present and in the press.

Mr. Barnbrook is neither vexatious nor a blogger and every word he wrote to you is true and I have copies of all the documentation to prove it.

I am copying this email to my MP and to my Bexley ward councillor as both keep a close eye on local events and I invite either of them to contact you if any part of what I am about to say is inaccurate.

The main incident to which Mr. Barnbrook referred took place on 19th June 2013 when a Bexley council public meeting was illegally put into “Closed Session” by the chairman. Those words are hers.

The next day a council memo referred to the incident in a measured and accurate way but when it became more obvious later that the closure was contrary to the Local Government Act a reason for its closure had to be invented and a press release issued. The invention was (I summarise) that every member of the public was running riot in the chamber, shouting, waving papers etc. Hence the closed session.

None of that was true. Only one person moved, most said nothing at all. The initial council report made no mention of a widespread disturbance, only that one member of the public had a small audio recorder in his hand and the police who were called to the meeting confirmed it had been entirely law abiding.

[20 words removed] there was no disturbance in the chamber and later two Labour councillors joined [one word removed]. A report from a council employee made no reference to a disturbance either.

Five Conservative councillors refused to confirm there was a disturbance when asked to do so.

When I discovered that Bexley council was making derogatory comments about me (I too was at the meeting) in response to FOI requests in connection with the incident I made a formal complaint to Mr. Tuckley suggesting that he interviewed the councillors who had expressed a wish to tell the truth about what took place at the meeting. He refused to interview any of them. [Eleven words removed].

Mr. Tuckley continued to refuse to carry out any investigation over several months, preferring to stick with the council’s fabricated line that there had been a major disturbance in which every member of the public present had participated. The police report did not support him but they were prevailed upon to alter it. This is a separate issue now being investigated by an Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard.

As Mr. Tuckley would not agree to conduct any enquiries into the events of June 2013 and the falsehoods disseminated about it by Bexley council, Mr. Barnbrook and three members of the public, one of whom is myself, made an allegation of crime to the police.

There has been a long history of “political interference” in Bexley police matters by Bexley council (the police's words not mine) and because of that the case was sent to Greenwich police for investigation.

The four members of the public were interviewed at considerable length (several hours each) and three Labour councillor witnesses too. A great deal of supporting evidence was submitted including an audio/video DVD.

[58 word paragraph removed].

The police told me of that message and the same councillor [17 words removed].

The investigating police officer unfortunately became seriously unwell and with my agreement (he tended to correspond with me rather than Mr. Barnbrook) he did not hand the case over to another officer. This caused a delay of several months.

However he did tell me he intended to present the case to the CPS personally because it was both complex and powerful. Off the record he told me that if he could get it to court he would expect the sentence to be “life changing”.

According to a message to Mr. Barnbrook the case is now with the CPS. The police considered the evidence of Misconduct by Mr. Tuckley to be compelling. The information you received from Bexley council is misleading to say the least.

The leader of Bexley council is not beyond reproach either. She personally (I have the police's report on the matter) asked Bexley police to arrest me for, and I quote, “criticising councillors”. The police in Bexley are so obedient to her that I was rescued only by the intervention of the IPCC.

Neither is it right to suggest that Mr. Barnbrook is a racist. He was appointed sports mentor to Stephen Lawrence while serving in the Metropolitan Police. He joined the BNP because it was the only prominent anti-EU party at the time. He left when he came to the conclusion that its leader Nick Griffin was corrupt and that the party's banking practices were suspect.

I hope that this is sufficient information to demonstrate that there is an active police investigation into Mr. Tuckley's conduct although I expect it will at any moment be subject to the “political interference” for which Bexley council is renowned.

As I said at the outset, if any part of what is written here is inaccurate in any way, I am sure you will get an email from my MP and my ward councillor within the next hour or two. However every statement is supported by documentation that I hold.

Yours faithfully,


The email was copied to the Leader of Tower Hamlets council, the leader of their Independent group and the local newspaper plus Teresa Pearce MP and councillor Danny Hackett in accordance with paragraph three of the email.

In my view it is unlikely to affect Mr. Tuckley’s appointment - and who would not want him to go? - and that is not the intention.

It is however important that the truth be known about Will Tuckley and more particularly the dishonesty that runs through Bexley council from top to bottom should be broadcast as widely as possible.

Welcome to BiB’s new readers in Tower Hamlets who join those in the Isle of Man where the last discredited Bexley executive ended up.

He didn’t last long, and the government there has had to make up excuses about his departure. Tower Hamlets next?

Michael Barnbrook’s email was dismissed by Tower Hamlets council as the work of a fascist and vexatious blogger and that information could only have come from Bexley council. It is yet another outrageous lie and absolutely typical of council leader Teresa O’Neill. Maybe another Freedom of Information request is called for.

 

27 August (Part 4) - Tuckley a victim of far right extremism. You couldn’t make it up

I already knew that the true story of Will Tuckley’s refusal to investigate a complaint and the subsequent criminal investigation by Greenwich police had been dismissed as “vexatious rhetoric” by Tower Hamlets because they were taken in by Bexley council’s assurances, but now I am a far right extremist too.

At least that is what The East London Advertiser is saying. Shoddy journalism at its best. Is no one going to check the facts with Greenwich police? Tower Hamlets council may consider it “vexatious rhetoric” but the police were prepared to spend six months looking into it and were very supportive. The case was not only submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service, the police officer considered it worthy of a personal presentation.
Libellous comments
A suitable complaint has been sent to the newspaper. Maybe I should show them some of the evidence against Tuckley that is with the police.

 

27 August (Part 3) - Tower Hamlets council is no stranger to dishonesty and last night they lapped up more

Going across to Tower Hamlets last night didn’t seem to be a worthwhile proposition when there was a high probability that their extraordinary council meeting was likely to be voted into closed session. In the event the vote went the other way and this report comes second hand from someone with more confidence in the democratic process than me.

Instead I went to meet Michael Barnbrook for the first time in many weeks because he had set up a meeting with legal advice on how a private prosecution might be attempted against Will Tuckley and councillor Cheryl Bacon in the event of the Crown Prosecution Service not proceeding with the case against them.

With commendable foresight Mick set up a bank account as soon as Will Tuckley refused to investigate the complaint against Cheryl Bacon and half a dozen of us have been paying into it by standing order every month since. There is no shortage of funds for a private prosecution.

Tower Hamlets has an elected Labour mayor, 24 Labour councillors, 17 Independents and five Conservatives and has been run by government appointed Commissioners since the previous Mayor disgraced himself during the 2014 elections.


BaconBexley Chief Executive Will Tuckley had been chosen from a shortlist of four to be appointed Tower Hamlets’ Chief Executive and the decision was to be nodded through last night. However Mr. Michael Barnbrook from Blackfen threw a spanner into the works last week by informing the Commissioners of Mr. Tuckley’s perversion of justice in Bexley - he refused to investigate claims by several people including councillors, that councillor Cheryl Bacon had lied in support of her decision to illegally close a public meeting.

Tuckley said several times over a period of many months that he would only take account of the liar’s statement and not those of five councillors, four members of the public and a council employee all of whom contradicted almost every word of Cheryl Bacon’s account.

The Commissioners took Mick Barnbrook’s statement quite seriously, asking both Tuckley and Bexley council leader Teresa O’Neill OBE (Obligatory Beguiling Excuses) before the meeting to explain why the facts of the criminal investigation into the allegations against Will Tuckley’s had not been declared earlier.

The meeting ran for a little over half an hour chaired by the Deputy Speaker of the council, Councillor Rajib Ahmed. In attendance were all the Conservatives, most of the Labour councillors and Independents. The government Commissioner, Sir Ken Knight was also there but not Mr. Tuckley.

The meeting was informed that Bexley is Bonkers is Mick Barnbrook’s blog - which is really very funny considering Mick struggles to send an email, let alone write computer code - and everyone appeared to believe it. Those present were informed that Mick is a “vexatious blogger”, so as you can see no one in Tower Hamlets is much concerned with facts.

The Labour leader Councillor Rachel Saunders said that the blog is Fascist, further proof that Tower Hamlets council is partially comprised of ignoramuses. Maybe I should sue her.

Will Tuckley had submitted in his defence of his less than fulsome job application that the police had not asked for comment since last December which I believe to be true. I have seen Bexley council’s defence and I commented to the investigating officer “they would say that wouldn’t they”. His reply was to the effect that there was no choice other than admitting guilt.

Since then the investigation was at first delayed because mutually convenient dates for councillor interviews were hard to come and then because the principal investigating officer was unavoidably taken off the case for a couple of months, but he has since given assurances that he personally presented the case to the Crown Prosecution Service because of his belief in the sound evidence presented. He also warned that there may be a considerable delay before the CPS reaches a decision.


ReportAll of this contradicts what Tower Hamlets council was told last night. The police sought solicitors’ advice months ago and determined there was a case to answer. Far from not taking any action, Greenwich police made it totally clear to me that the case was serious enough to lead to a prison sentence. Either Bexley council has been submitting porkies to Tower Hamlets or the investigating officer in Greenwich is as bad as his counterparts in Bexley. I remain very confident that the investigating officer is a man of total integrity.

So Will Tuckley has jumped ship with both Labour and Tory councillors in Tower Hamlets backing him and only the Independents led by Councillor Rhabid Khan expressing doubts by abstaining.

What now? Bexley is well rid of Tuckley obviously but who should replace him?

Several years ago, at the time Bexley council was busy rejecting the petition to pay more reasonable salaries to its senior managers, Eric Pickles the Communities Secretary back then was of the opinion that no council should have both a full time leader and a chief executive. Bexley council defied him but it seems like an admirable plan to me.

This appears to be Bexley’s Labour group’s position too. Councillor Alan Deadman is quoted in the News Shopper as follows…


With the pending departure of Bexley's Chief Executive there comes a great opportunity to finish remodelling Bexley's senior management team, fulfil Labour's election pledge of not replacing the Chief Executive, and get better value for the taxpayer.

In the face of huge cuts to council services, it cannot be right that the Chief Executive gets paid £200,000 a year while many residents and council employees struggle to make ends meet on, or below the London living wage."


Too bloody true!

 

27 August (Part 2) - A ‘thief’ to catch a thief?

At an extraordinary council meeting in Tower Hamlets Will Tuckley the current chief executive in Bexley was appointed to run Britain’s most corrupt council.

Mick Barnbrook’s email to the Commissioners appointed to run Tower Hamlets council caused a considerable stir but both Labour and Conservative councillors voted in favour of Tuckley’s appointment.

A report of the meeting was telephoned through late last night by a friendly voice at Tower Hamlets, the written confirmation of it is awaited.

Some of the information put before Tower Hamlets’ councillors were clearly false as you might expect but there was a government directive to make the appointment by today. The little matter of recruiting someone who refuses to countenance the truth is inconsequential compared to that.

Pending the written confirmation of events in Tower Hamlets, their supplementary report may be read here. It does not correspond to police reports communicated to either Mick Barnbrook or me but that is only to be expected.

 

27 August (Part 1) - UK Power Nitworks Ltd again

HoleAt some time between 19:15 and 21:30 yesterday evening the unnecessary carriageway closure where Abbey Road, Belvedere meets Knee Hill, Abbey Wood was lifted.

The ludicrous road closure caused by a small hole in the footpath is at an end after six days of traffic disruption.

The photograph shows how small the excavation was.

 

26 August (Part 3) - In defence of the indefensible

CraskeTo say I have been inundated today with references to councillor Craske being featured on the BBC website is perhaps an exaggeration when the number is only six but I would guess that some Bexley residents are still not aware that Peter Craske makes a living out of exploiting the weak willed the gullible and the addicted.

He is the leading, paid by the Association of British Bookmakers, exponent of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.

Not content with depriving Bexley residents of parks he aims to deprive pensioners of their life savings and whole families of their income.

 

26 August (Part 2) - Splashrail

FloodAbbey Wood has always had a problem with water. It has moved on a bit from rowing boats in Fendyke Road (the 1953 floods) but even the slightest bit of rain can render some of its roads impassable to pedestrians.

Abbey Road was so poorly resurfaced in 2009, come to think of it it wasn’t, they only moved the kerb stones towards the centre of the road in one of Bexley’s mad narrowing operations, and the result was that the well worn tyre track some way out from the footpath became a shallow ditch a foot out from the kerb.

Any competent traffic engineer could have predicted the end result but Bexley hasn’t got any competent engineers, certainly not Andrew Bashford who masterminded the wrecking of Abbey Road is not a competent engineer.

Only an hour ago I got a good soaking from a speeding car while negotiating the flood on the incompetently constructed Abbey Road footpath.

Whilst one has come to expect rubbish engineering by Bexley council I expect better from Network Rail which on the whole does a pretty good job of constructing Crossrail to a high standard. However even they seem unable to cope with every drainage problem.

There is almost no shelter on the platforms at Abbey Wood and there is none on the footbridge either as you may see below.

The official reason for there being no roof on the footbridge is that because there is necessarily almost no shelter on Platform 1 Network Rail didn’t want people to use the bridge as a shelter and dash down wet steps when the train arrives.

One can see their point but it does rather smack of two wrongs making a right. Maybe they will put a temporary shelter on the new platform because there is not going to be a canopy over it until the new station is completed in 2017.
Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail
Photo 2 is the rearranged footbridge to Platform 1 which allows for the work that needs to be done on the new North Kent lone platform currently under construction.

More Crossrail related blogs.

 

26 August (Part 1) - UK Power Nitwits Ltd

It being another dreary day with not a lot going on a return to UK Power Networks’ nonsensical road works at the foot of Knee Hill, Abbey Wood is the best available.


Abbey Road Abbey RoadThe idiocy which left the eastbound carriageway open to any driver who might be confused by signs which said go left or right, the former leading to a cul-de-sac, has been given some attention and is now blocked off.

The generator which was blocking the safest route for pedestrians has been removed but they are still directed into the road to put them at maximum risk.

This may be an attempt to give the absent workforce some protection from passing traffic but if that is the case one might ask why pedestrians are being used as a human shield.

The work remains wholly on the footpath, there has been no need for a week of traffic holdups.

In the morning when commuters are being delivered by car to the railway station where parking spaces are at a premium the traffic queues all the way from the station back to the lower section of Knee Hil, blocking east west (and west east) traffic totally.

Presumably it is asking too much to expect those given permission by Bexley council to block our roads to do so thoughtfully or for Bexley council to monitor the situation?

But perhaps they did and that is why the cones in Photo 2 have been put in place.

 

25 August - Mud and highway robbery

Another multi-parter…

Lesnes Abbey
Lesnes Abbey Lesnes AbbeyThere have been reports that the removal of a hedge in Lesnes Abbey park has allowed yesterday’s heavy rain to wash mud on to the footpaths.

I went to have a look and sure enough there is potentially dangerous mud to be found in several places.

However the hedge removal may not be a significant factor. Most of the old hedge line shows no sign of the passage of mud, a short length may do.

Mud has always been washed down the hill after exceptionally heavy rain. On rare occasions Abbey Road itself has been affected.


Compost and crooks
Ticket machineWho apart from local authorities and maybe the odd monopoly nationalised industry thinks it is reasonable to take customers’ money and deny them any change?

I’ve seen railway company (and TfL) ticket machines which put up a NO CHANGE message when they run out of coins but deliberate and persistent extortion would appear to be practised only by local councils.

If there is a scam available you can be pretty sure that Bexley council will be at the head of the queue to use it.

Bexley council’s off and on street parking ticket machines don’t give change. Teresa O’Neill OBE (Overcharge Betray Extort) is in effect proudly proclaiming that she runs her council as if she was Dick Turpin. The head of a council comprised of crooks so unprincipled that they no longer recognise their own dishonesty.

Dishonesty is in the very DNA of Bexley’s Conservative council.

Have you seen what they are geared up to do when the bin tax kicks in in a month’s time?


Bin Tax scamIf you paid for a garden waste sack in the expectation that in return for the money paid, Bexley council would honour its part of the contract and take your waste away. Think again.

You might expect it to do so but you’d not be accounting for the fraudulent ambitions of Bexley council.

They have not changed their position since making the Twitter announcement yesterday. Someone should take the ruling crooks to the Small Claims Court.

Some might prefer the justice meted out to the real Dick Turpin.


Crossrail
Abbey WoodFor those who follow the project’s progress there is a new photo feature on the weekend’s track laying operation behind Fendyke Road. In due course the track will be nudged in a southerly direction to line up with the new platform.

For good measure there are four new photos of the Bostall Manorway footbridge too. (Scroll to bottom.)

The old footbridge reopened this morning - originally scheduled for Thursday - something I discovered only after walking from the south to the north side of the track via Harrow Manorway. A mile, maybe more.

More Crossrail related blogs.

 

24 August - From Lesnes Abbey to Sidcup via Abbey Wood

This is another multi-subject blog and due to time constraints it has appeared in dribs and drabs throughout the day. I think it may be complete now.

Lesnes Abbey
Mulberry treeTen days ago BiB referred to the delays affecting the creation of a new visitor centre at Lesnes Abbey. It was not possible to say much at the time because valuable artefacts had been found on the site and if the details had become known they would have attracted thieves and treasure hunters. However the historical remains have now been safeguarded and the truth can be told.

Fortunately I do not have to repeat it here because Bexley council has distributed another Press Release, read a copy here.

It wasn’t just a dead horse that had been found, but human graves and remains too.


Crossrail. Bostall Manorway footbridge
As already noted, the new footbridge over the railway at the end of Bostall Manorway was installed at the weekend. The old one will be returned to service on Thursday and the new one will be brought into use once everything is thoroughly checked. Then the old one will be demolished.

The new bridge did not come totally without problems. Balfour Beatty, Network Rail’s primary contractor at first said it would be lifted into place late on Saturday evening but the £25,000 a day crane didn’t get to lift it until around 5 p.m. Sunday. After waiting something like 20 hours to see it fly, it was lowered into place, a perfect fit in just 20 minutes.

The delay appeared to be connected with the joining of the two halves, it was receiving constant attention in that area throughout Saturday night and Sunday and any damage to the paintwork was instantly remedied with a paint brush.

The manufacturers’ team (DMG Steelworkers) from Wigan must have been exhausted. Meanwhile the various contractors’ men necessarily stood around doing not a lot.

As usual Balfour Beatty’s staff and Network Rail’s senior managers on site were very helpful and I learned a few more interesting facts about the project.

There are 41 photographs in chronological sequence in the usual place. Those viewing on mobiles with expensive data charges will probably want to avoid it like the plague.
Footbridge
More Crossrail related blogs.


Adverts
An acceptable compromise has been reached with the code to display adverts. You have probably not noticed but blogs can be displayed in four different formats (and each of them in seven text size/ page width variants) and it will be possible to show either one or two adverts (or none) independently in each of the four blog formats.

Some more information may be seen on this page.

In typical fashion one of the two business owners who made the request that provoked adverts is now saying he is not ready, and the other one has not responded to email. Not a good sign.

In the meantime two have been invented for demonstration purposes.


Councillor Rob Leitch, Sidcup’s garden guru
I suppose that coming across so many Bexley Conservatives who are clearly in politics mainly to line their own pockets or perhaps for self-aggrandisement there may be a danger that I over-react if I come across one who clearly hasn’t read the Teresa O’Neill OBE (Oppress Bully Enforce) rule-book on how to be a disciplined disciple of the Great Dictator.


Walled GardenRight from the outset I have felt that Rob Leitch’s initiative to save Sidcup’s Walled Garden from the ravages of Bexley council’s cuts was a magnificent idea and deserved widespread support.

He seems to be getting some from local businesses digging into their pockets and residents are digging into the soil, but more of both would be welcomed. If you can lend a hand you should let Rob know.

I don’t seem to have the stamina for long gardening sessions any more so I asked Rob when I last met him if he had a bank account for donations. He promised to let me know when it was up and running.

It is now and it is The Sidcup Garden Project, Bank Sort Code 40-42-01, Account Number 51605674.

I think I will send him a few bob.


Electrifying stupidity
A month ago Abbey Wood suffered ten days of traffic disruption while UK Power Networks dug a hole in Abbey Road at the foot of Knee Hill and installed a three way traffic control system. I took some photos but it didn't justify a blog being no more than one of life’s annoyances that must be tolerated. The situation offered no alternative solution.

Last Friday UK Power Networks returned to dig up the other side of the road except that it wasn’t the road they dug up it was the central section of a wide footpath.

There was no real reason to close the eastbound carriageway and the adjacent pedestrian crossing but they did and justified it by dumping a single wheelbarrow load of dirt in the gutter and diverting pedestrians into the road.

There was plenty of room to divert pedestrians around the other side of the hole but they carefully blocked that by dumping their compressor in the way. It could have gone almost anywhere.

Throughout the weekend there were traffic queues as I learned to my cost while making eleven visits to Mottisfont Road to see the railway bridge replacement work. After the first two trips on foot I decided that the car was a more sensible option.


Abbey Road Abbey RoadToday there is some work going on in Abbey Road but the situation is basically unchanged. A heap of dirt in the road and traffic hold ups. I suppose it could be argued that the heap of dirt offers some protection to the workers but that doesn’t explain Friday Saturday and Sunday.

For some reason the eastbound carriageway seen in Photo 2 has not been blocked off and as traffic from Knee Hill has to be allowed to go straight ahead there is nothing to stop drivers unfamiliar with the territory going up a cul-de-sac.

I wonder if Bexley council has any staff left who might monitor the abuse inflicted on the borough by utility companies?

While speaking of electricity companies and amoeba-like brain capacities may I mention Scottish Power again?

Last month they raised my Direct Debit from £71 to £76 without any prior notification. They gave me £25 in compensation. Today they announced that my Direct Debit has been increased to £104.

Scottish Power’s website contains a wealth of information if you can find it. A nice graph tells me that my consumption has been steadily falling - gas and electricity (†) - all year and that my credit currently stands at £127 even though the latest consumption figures have been applied but not the corresponding payment. Yet they have whacked up the Direct Debit by very nearly 50%.

As I said, the brain power of an amoeba.

† Probably because I used to make it a rule to quit Bonkers by 19:15 each day and watch a DVD on a large plasma screen. It rarely goes on nowadays and it can be a bit greedy with the electricity!

 

23 August - Crossrail suffers delays but arrives on time

This weekend has seen a huge amount of Crossrail activity in and around Abbey Wood Station.

At the last Crossrail Liaison Panel meeting the Network Rail Project manager said that Felixstowe Road would be restored to two way working by the end of July, Gayton Road would be back to normal by the end of September. The Bostall Manorway bridge would be installed in August and new track would be put in place around the station during September and October. Except that Felixstowe Road is still far from finished the forecast would appear to have been a good one.


Crossrail CrossrailThe major undertakings today and yesterday were the installation of the new footbridge at Bostall Manorway and the replacement of the London bound North Kent line behind Fendyke Road.

The bridge was eventually installed after innumerable delays at 5 p.m. today. Messages from useful on site contacts had at first been predicting 9 p.m. Saturday followed by many others specifying progressively later times. I made ten abortive trips before the eleventh brought forth the desired photos of a bridge dangling from an enormous crane.

The bridge is 42 metres long and weighs 38 tonnes. It was fabricated more than a year ago by DMG Steelworkers in Wigan and stored in Skelmersdale from where it was transferred to Dartford a few days ago from where it could be summoned quickly when required.

The track replacement east of the station is causing some consternation among local residents as it has been placed in exactly the same position as the old North Kent line. The expectation from those who lost gardens and sheds to Crossrail was that the line would be slewed to the south.

The explanation is simple and sensible. When the time comes to align the new track to the new London bound platform it will be relatively easy to nudge it over, much quicker than laying new track at that stage on what would already be a very busy weekend. And nudging old track would run the risk of breaking it.

The third activity, and the one pictured here, was a modification to the central staircase of the station footbridge. I understand it is a minor redesign to improve access to the new platform and according to my informant will be noticed by tomorrow’s commuters.

With more than 160 photographs to chose from and a lack of inclination to do so following eleven tiring visits to Mottisfont Road (site of the new bridge) the photo feature is not going to appear until tomorrow.

More Crossrail related blogs.

 

22 August - He can run but he can’t hide

If all goes according to plan, Bexley council’s Chief Executive will be selected for a similar post in Tower Hamlets on Wednesday evening. Their Appointments Sub-Committee has selected him from a short list of four.
Tower Hamlets
Mr. Michael Barnbrook is a well known thorn in Bexley council’s side who has had a hand in bringing down 17 MPs for various abuses, most recently he was the principal complainant against former MP Denis MacShane who was jailed for six months for the offence of false accounting.


TuckleyMick Barnbrook is a bit of a stickler when it comes to honesty in public life and he thought it unlikely that Will Tuckley would have informed the Commissioners appointed to run Tower Hamlet’s discredited council, that his misconduct in Bexley was currently being considered by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Will Tuckley is something of an expert when it comes to getting Bexley councillors off of criminal charges and accusing their victims of crime instead. He suggested to his police friends that I was charged with the crime that was committed on councillor Peter Craske’s phone line and met with the CPS to ensure that Craske wasn’t.


Press ReleaseIf you want a councillor’s crime concealed and the complainant stitched up with false Press Releases and manufactured allegations, Will Tuckley is your man, and Tower Hamlets council is no stranger to crime.

So what has Mick Barnbrook gone and done about it?

He’s only sent chapter and verse about Tuckley to the Commissioners who run Tower Hamlets.

And what is likely to be the end result of that? The Commissioners will not want to be embarrassed by their new Chief Executive going to jail - as Greenwich Police said he might - so they will nobble the CPS won’t they? And who is best placed to tell them how to nobble the CPS? Why, it’s Will Tuckley himself. What could be neater?

Thanks Mick, I know that it is right to bring all the facts out into the open and that you told me what you had in mind before sending the email, but we can now be pretty sure of the basis on which Will Tuckley and his crooked pals will have their crimes overlooked.

Pursuing them will be deemed to be not in the Public Interest. We know some excuse has to be found but Mick has probably provided one on a silver platter. If this prediction comes to pass it will at last be obvious to all that corruption exists at every level of public life and not just in Bexley.

This is what Mick wrote, he has already received an acknowledgment.


Dear Commissioners,

I understand that you have recommended the appointment of Mr William Tuckley, Chief Executive of Bexley Council, as the new Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council.

I do not know if Mr Tuckley made the Appointments Sub Committee aware of the fact, when he was interviewed for the position of Chief Executive, that he is currently the subject of an allegation to the Metropolitan Police, of Misconduct in Public Office, made by myself and three other members of the public.

In addition to Mr Tuckley, three former Bexley Police Borough Commanders (Chief Superintendents Olisa, Ayling and Stringer, the latter, until recently, being the Borough Commander of Tower Hamlets Police), one Chief Inspector and two police constables, are also being investigated by both Plumstead Police Criminal Investigation Department and the Metropolitan Police Department of Professional Standards, for a variety of offences, including Misconduct in Public Office, Perverting the Course of Justice and Gross Misconduct, as a result of the corrupt relationship between Bexleyheath Police and Bexley Council, whilst Mr Tuckley was Chief Executive.

The allegation made against Mr Tuckley was judged by Detective Sergeant Xxxxxxxxxx of Plumstead Police CID, the investigating officer, to be “potentially life changing” and following a lengthy investigation, he recently informed me that he has submitted the case file to the Crown Prosecution Service for their decision.

It would be prudent, in my opinion, to defer the appointment of Mr Tuckley, until after the Crown Prosecution Service has reached a decision.

To appoint Mr Tuckley and for the Crown Prosecution to then authorise him to be interviewed and face the possibility of a serious criminal charge, would cause Tower Hamlets Council even more embarrassment than that only recently suffered.

The allegation against Mr Tuckley and others has been extensively reported on the website "Bexley is Bonkers" and the most recent reference is http://bexley-is-bonkers.co.uk/blogs/2015/aug/1901.php

I was the complainant to the Metropolitan Police of an allegation of fraud against Mr Ian Clement, former Leader of Bexley Council, whilst he was a Deputy Mayor of London.

As a result of my allegation, Mr Clement was convicted of fraud and sentenced to a suspended term of imprisonment.

Following his conviction, Bexley Council held their own internal investigation into the use, by Mr  Clement, of his corporate credit card, whilst he was Leader of Bexley Council.

Despite overwhelming evidence, contained in the final report of their investigation, that Mr Clement had committed fraud on at least four occasions, Bexley Council made the decision not to report the matter to police. Mr Tuckley was Chief Executive at the time.

If I can assist you with any further information, please contact me on mobile 077xxxxxxxx.

Please acknowledge receipt of this correspondence in accordance with Tower Hamlets' protocol.

Yours faithfully,

Michael Barnbrook, Inspector, Metropolitan Police (Retired)


As a correspondent said to me after the news broke; “He couldn’t even manage Bexley, how on earth he thinks he can run Tower Hamlets is beyond me. Bexley is hardly a training ground for such a multi-cultural place”. But we got rid of him. Compare the state of Bexley in 2015 with 2008 when ditched his appointment in Croydon. A few cobblestones in a few high streets. Everything else has taken a backwards turn.

 

21 August (Part 2) - This Website

Requests for BiB to carry advertisements are not uncommon and they have been routinely rejected, however twice recently the requests have come from local companies. I feel this may be more acceptable and during the past week have tried to add the necessary code. You may have seen an ‘advert’ for the Old Farm Park campaign briefly appear and disappear while I have attempted to overcome far more technical problems than I had imagined possible.

Among them is that the available space varies according to the chosen viewing mode and disappears entirely in Mobile mode.

There were also relatively minor but nonetheless annoying cosmetic variations between browsers despite specifying every dimension absolutely. The problem appears to be caused by differences in the way fonts are rendered for the central page header text and therefore insurmountable. The aim was to align the bottom of the advert image with the base of the central Guidance Panel but despite specifying everything at pixel level the browsers are all slightly different; near enough is going to have to do.

There is still some work to be done to allow different adverts on different pages but the basics are now in place.

This is all by way of an excuse for not having provided the planned Part 2 blog for today, the time just got frittered away poring over php code and CSS files. In all probability a proper blog will appear tomorrow (Saturday) so long as I do not get sidetracked by technical issues again and Crossrail doesn’t take all day to deliver their promised crane to Bostall Manorway.

There is incidentally no intention to charge for the advertisement panels, it will simply be a free service to anyone who cheekily asks to be included - as two already have.

 

21 August (Part 1) - Bexley police telling porkies again

A year ago Bexley police announced that it was going to equip its officers with Body Worn Video cameras. Below is an extract from the letter of explanation sent by Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling to the borough’s Great and the Good. Click to view the source letter.
Body Worn Video
SkyI don’t think the adoption of Body Worn Video by Bexley police was covered on BiB although I must have known of it because I remember thinking that the police would quickly switch their cameras off whenever they needed to protect themselves from complaint. However Hugh Neal covered the subject fully on the Maggot Sandwich im May 2014.

As an IT professional, Hugh would have been interested in how the video was stored. On a Met Police Server according to CS Peter Ayling.

Now it transpires that Sky News has discovered that this is far from the truth.

Hugh will no doubt be telling us how he came to be the final piece in the jigsaw which completed the Sky News story when he returns with his blog on Sunday.

Click the Sky News image to link to their story.

Sky

 

20 August - Delays and dereliction

Broadway regeneration, Phase II
Lion Road Lion RoadIt being well into week two of Phase II of the Bexleyheath Broadway regeneration scheme I took the bus into town to see how bad the traffic congestion was.

The road was clear.

The reason wasn’t hard to see, the work has been deferred until next week.

So just like Northumberland Heath and Sidcup High Street, the project is two weeks late before it’s started.


Crossrail casualty?
Sainsbury's Costcutter Costcutter Costcutter
It looks as though the total absence of parking spaces outside the shops in Felixstowe Road (Photo 5) for several months past - thanks to Crossrail - and the opening of Sainsbury’s nearby (Photos 3 and 4) has taken its toll on Costcutter.

The three shop fronts shown (Photo 6) were all Costcutter until very recently.

The middle of the three boasts a website. You may check it out now but it is not really worth the effort at the moment.

 

19 August - Tuckley’s off

TuckleyChief Superintendent Dave Stringer was in charge of Bexley’s police when I was told there was no chance of tracing the source of the internet obscenities directed against Elwyn Bryant and me in 2011. (†) The obscene blog was eventually traced to councillor Peter Craske’s phone line.

Dave Stringer left Bexley and went to Tower Hamlets.

Acting Superintendent Tony Gowen was the police officer who arranged a meeting with Will Tuckley and the Crown Prosecution Service “"to resolve the [Peter Craske’s] situation”, or in other words find a way of getting Craske off a Misconduct in Public Office charge.

Tony Gowen left Bexley and went to Tower Hamlets.

Chief Executive Will Tuckley is the man who refused to take the word of ten people who made statements to the effect that councillor Cheryl Bacon is one big liar, preferring to take the totally unsupported word of the aforesaid big liar.

Will Tuckley is to leave Bexley and go to Tower Hamlets.

Tower Hamlets is by general consent the most corrupt council in London, if not the country. Tower Hamlets is in dire need of a man who can shield it from the consequences of its criminal activities and preferably one with a proven track record in that department.

When completing his job application did Mr. Tuckley reveal the charge of Misconduct in Public Office currently under consideration by the Crown Prosecution Service?

Please excuse my cynicism but his transfer must surely mean he is pretty confident that political interference will resolve his situation, just as it did Peter Craske’s.

In 2013 the Evening Standard reported that Will Tuckley was on a £244,897 salary package. His opposite number at Tower Hamlets was on £104,015. How does that work?

† Following a complaint by myself and my MP he later agreed to review the decision. Chief Superintendent Stringer is now the Met’s Head of Community Engagement. He was recently quoted in the Evening Standard as saying “I don’t see abuse as free speech. It’s criminal and will be treated as such”. Not if a politician is responsible for it presumably.

Council leader Teresa O’Neill OBE (Overpaid Bureaucrat Exits) said…


Dear Councillors and Bexley Colleagues,

I am writing to let you know that Will Tuckley is expected to be appointed as Chief Executive of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets at its Extraordinary Council Meeting on 26th August and will, subject to confirmation of the appointment at that meeting, be resigning from his role in Bexley.

Will has been the Chief Executive since March 2008. During that time the Council has faced significant challenges but made some significant improvements for residents and their quality of life. These achievements include:
· Successful regeneration and improvements in Crayford, Slade Green and Bexleyheath with further substantial investment planned for Thamesmead, Abbey Wood and Erith.
· Modernisation and improvements in the way residents access services and higher customer satisfaction ratings from Bexley residents.
· Improved performance across all of Bexley’s schools with better results for pupils.
· The successful completion of Strategy 2014 which delivered in the region of £61m of expenditure reductions, much of it by streamlining the Council’s management and delivering efficiencies.
· The successful completion of the Bexley First Project which saw the Council move into modern, efficient offices and deliver reductions in running costs.
· Delivering services within the overall budget and rebuilding the Council’s financial reserves.
· Developing a Strategy for Growth that will bring significant benefits to the borough and its residents.
· Children’s Services continue to improve following the lifting of the Improvement Notice.

We wish Will every success in his new role and thank him for his considerable contribution to ensuring that Bexley’s residents receive excellent services from the Council and its partners. Will leaves the Council with a strong and ambitious management team and with clear strategies in place to address the considerable financial and other challenges facing local government and Bexley in particular.

I shall advise you shortly of the arrangements to ensure a smooth transition pending the appointment of a new Chief Executive.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Teresa O’Neill, OBE
Leader of the Council


Tower Hamlets announcement.

 

18 August - Rubbish and councillor Philip Read

It is scraping the news barrel somewhat to emulate Anna Firth and go hunting for rubbish but having been tipped off by a resident of Kingswood Avenue in Belvedere it represented a fairly easy option.


Fly tipping Fly tippingThe report said there was a complete Wendy House dumped in the woods behind Elstree Gardens. That’s the woods a couple of hundred yards east of the Lesnes Abbey playground which was torched on 9th June.

It was said Bexley council had been notified but they claimed to be too busy to collect it.

The Wendy House was not the only heap of rubbish in the area but the only piece which was clearly in the council owned woods. The rest was on the unmade road and the ownership of that is unknown to me.

Fly tipping Fly tipping Fly tipping Fly tipping

Another consultation
Not only another consultation but another consultation on Children’s Services before the result of the first one is known. Cabinet member Philip Read says the intention is to provide additional help but it’s not very long since he closed several Children’s Centres.

I am reluctant to publish too much news relating to specific cases of the abuse carried out by Bexley’s Social Services against families and their children but I can reveal that the Local Government Ombudsman recently instructed Bexley’s Director of Children’s Services Jackie Tiotto to issue an “unreserved apology” to a mother who has been treated in an appalling fashion by Bexley council. When the case reaches its conclusion I am expecting to be able to report rather more.

Jackie Tiotto was appointed to her post after this particular abuse was authorised by Bexley council.

Crossrail
For the railway enthusiasts there are a few more photos of the track laying train and locomotive at work after being parked in Crossrail’s Plumstead sidings since the weekend.

 

17 August - A valiant effort but…

The Old Farm Park campaigners are throwing everything they can into the battle to save it from the developer’s bulldozers. They have held public meetings and presented petitions, so far without effect, and set up an active website. Not content with that they have a subsidiary news website and they have two Conservative councillors behind them. Newcomer Rob Leitch who has managed to get hold of Bexley council’s so called Site Appraisal and June Slaughter with nearly 40 years experience behind her who delivered a devastating attack on the council’s proposals at the last cabinet meeting.

The Site Appraisal is remarkable mainly for its brevity and its assertion that there is “no known flooding within the Old Farm Avenue site”.

It was severely flooded only last week.

An Appraisal, devoid of any financial information does not in practice provide much in the way of useful information and the campaigners are now putting all their effort behind getting people to go through the consultation process.

I’ve watched these consultation charades far too often before and in my opinion nothing anyone does now will make one bit of difference. It will merely illustrate yet again that a Teresa O’Neill led council will take not a blind bit of notice of any consultation response.


O'NeillStrong words, and I am no fan of selling off the family silver, but look at the practicalities. Is it possible for Teresa O’Neill to backtrack now? Would she allow councillor June Slaughter who embarrassed her so much at the cabinet meeting to beat her into submission?

It is more than six months since councillor Alex Sawyer (then cabinet member, now deputy leader) publicly announced the second list of parks for sale and it had been secret for a couple of months before that. These schemes have a very long gestation period.

The consultation runs until 18th September and the first council meeting after that when the subject can be debated is on 4th November. There isn’t another one until the budget is set in March 2016.

Realistically, there is only that one opportunity for the full council to debate and approve the sale of the parks before the March budget setting meeting. It’s the 4th November Full Council.

Consider what would happen if the proposal to sell the parks was thrown out. By 4th November the plan would have been a year in the making. Cabinet member Craske studiously avoided coming up with a substitute sale site after Old Manor Way was let off the hook. Director Paul Moore confirmed there is no Plan B. That is not only because there isn’t one but also because there is no need for one. Selling Old Manor Way was never a serious proposition. No one seriously believes that the council didn’t know the site was full of holes and mine shafts and covenants. It was always the Aunt Sally to be graciously sacrificed to make Bexley council look better than it is.

More importantly, there is no need for a Plan B because nothing will deflect Bexley council from its ambitions.

There simply is no time to change direction. Old Farm Park is doomed. Without its sale or a Plan B a major part of the budget strategy falls apart and Teresa O’Neill OBE (Oldfarm Bulldozers Expected) would be utterly discredited. She would lose her place as leader next year, which is the one very good reason to fight the sell off. Anything that brings her demise closer to reality must be worth doing.

Complete the petition anyway, when it happens you will be able to claim a small part in Teresa O’Neill’s downfall.

 

16 August - More of the same!

Crossrail Crossrail CrossrailFurther work at Plumstead. Track extends into tunnel entrance.

More Crossrail related blogs.

 

15 August - Crossrail construction pushes on

Gayton Road is rearranged and the station site is progressing. As may be seen, the platforms are going to be very wide. The southern edge of the North Kent London bound and the centre support wall are visible on Photo 2.
Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail
Track work at Plumstead has allowed a diesel locomotive to get on site.
Crossrail
More Crossrail related blogs.

 

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.

 

13 August (Part 2) - Lesnes Abbey lies in ruins

The lack of progress on building the new Lesnes Abbey visitor centre provoked a small scale response from Bonkers’ readers. As the brochure (see extract below) says, construction should have commenced months ago and the opening date might have passed by now. Instead the only thing to see is a hole in the ground.

There is a similar theme running through the feedback but without evidence it must necessarily be regarded as hearsay.


Lesnes Abbey brochureOne correspondent felt sure that the delay was occasioned by the discovery of historical artefacts on the site which would confirm in general terms the rumour which circulated locally a couple of months ago.

However another correspondent who has attended all the Lesnes Abbey related meetings both at the abbey and the Civic Offices is adamant that Bexley council has refused to answer all pertinent questions and given no clue to the seven month standstill. Instead it promised to make an announcement one day. But that has been the case for a long time now.

If historical artefacts had been found one might ask why no one has been seen on site digging with a teaspoon of something, but except perhaps for one day in June no one looking like an archeologist has ever been seen there - and I pass by pretty much every day.

Since Bexley council cannot be relied upon to tell the truth maybe one of their groundsmen would be a better source of information. What did the man at the coal face have to say?

Yes there was an artefact, a bit more wall showed up but far more serious is that someone forgot to order the building’s steel frame and it is taking a long time to manufacture. Meanwhile everything is at a standstill and the (ex) project manager no longer works for Bexley council.

I do not know for certain if that is any more truthful than what my correspondents have been told by Bexley council but it sounds far more plausible to me.

If it wasn’t so incompetently tragic one might laugh.

 

13 August (Part 1) - Boundary issues

In between entertaining his grandson on holidays, Michael Barnbrook has found time to pursue Bexley council on a number of matters. One is the Working Party that is negotiating with the Boundaries Commission over the number of councillors to represent Bexley residents from 2018. Bexley council thinks that 45 would be adequate, the Boundaries Commission put the cat among the pigeons by suggesting 21.

The General Purposes Committee set up a sub-committee but in order to keep the public out called it an ad-hoc Working Group. It was an obvious ruse that Bexley council has used before and Mr. Barnbrook considered it to be illegal. My view was that it couldn’t be illegal in the criminal sense, as when councillor Cheryl Bacon decided to hold a scrutiny meeting in ‘Closed Session’ for example, because it was, so far as the Constitution is concerned, no different to discussing policy over a pint in the nearest pub. The Constitution has nothing to say about pubs or Working Parties so there are no rules to break. A Working Party is simply a device to exclude the public and subvert democracy.

As Mr. Barnbrook’s correspondence has developed, this assessment of the situation has proved to be broadly correct.

However he has discovered a few things. The Working Party consists of councillors Chris Beazley (UKIP), Alan Deadman and Seán Newman (Labour), Rob Leitch and Joe Pollard (Conservative) and three members of the cabinet. Peter Craske, Don Massey and Teresa O’Neill.

Michael formally questioned the use of an informal Working Party instead of a legally constituted Sub-Committee and as you might expect been rebuffed at every stage.

The official answer is that there is “no provision in legislation that precludes such a group being established” and a Working Group “allows a free and frank exchange of views … that would be inhibited in a more formal setting”. What could be more inhibiting than three of the most powerful people on the council being present?

“The council has been open and transparent in its approach.” The delusionist is Mr. Nick Hollier, Director of Human Resources.

Mr. Barnbrook takes the not unreasonable view that if the Constitution doesn’t allow for a procedure then such a procedure cannot be used. That would be the approach if an opposition councillor spoke out of turn at a council meeting.

I have been trying to find out how often the Working Party trick has been used but talkative councillors with long memories are in short supply. One was able to refer back to 1999 when a Working Party was established but nothing more recent. It was accompanied by the intriguing comment that as Bexley’s Constitution has nothing to say about Working Parties they rely on the custom and practice at other councils. Nothing can be illegal when the council is lawless.

Incidentally, while digging into the boundaries situation in Bexley, I stumbled across this. The colour of Bexley in 1995, one, two and three councillor wards before the borough became a one woman dictatorship.

 

12 August (Part 2) - Chaos, and it’s not really started yet

Bexley council was supposed to start Phase II of the Broadway regeneration on Monday 10th. It extends the scheme which saw Broadway turned into a vehicular free for all from Trinity Place past Lion Road towards Devonshire Road where the footpath is currently being carved up with the mandatory temporary traffic lights in place.

TweetBexleyheath is in chaos again, would you recognise it if it were any other way?

Today there were queues from Crook Log to Christchurch and along Albion Road as far as the Townley Road roundabout. There will be no respite until March.

Bexley council. Traffic Jams ‘R’ Us.

Broadway Broadway Broadway Broadway
Broadway Broadway Broadway Broadway
Broadway Broadway Broadway Broadway
All pictures 12th August 2015.

 

12 August (Part 1) - Oddments again

Once again a collection of mini-news items.

The lying Cheryl Bacon
It was almost inevitable that sooner or later the excellent work done by Greenwich police to assemble a case against Will Tuckley, Lynn Tyler and Cheryl Bacon would grind to a halt under political pressure. I’m not sure if that has happened yet but the relationship between the police and the victims of Bexley council’s crime appears to have changed.

During the earlier part of this year update reports were regular and positive but I was half promised more for 25th May, 17th July and 7th August but nothing has been forthcoming. Mr. Barnbrook made an enquiry by telephone last week and was told that the case has been presented to the Crown Prosecution Service but the flow of friendly correspondence appears to have stopped.

Bexley’s dishonest parking department
This is another long drawn out saga. It is certain that Bexley’s parking department considers itself above the law; the Local Government Ombudsman has told them to stop it, Bexley council’s legal department has told them to stop it, and Grant Thornton, Bexley council’s auditors have released a single copy of Bexley council’s own damning assessment of the situation.

The fact that Bexley’s parking department operates with a total disregard for the law is not in doubt. Unfortunately there are legal constraints on going into detail. That can only be overcome if there is an outbreak of honesty at Bexley council - and that is never going to happen - or the council is forced to release a copy under Freedom of Information legislation.

That path is about to enter Stage 3. The original request was refused and the new Finance Director Alison Griffin has shown her disdain for honesty and transparency by refusing the review request too. The Information Commissioner’s Office is the next port of call.

Axe to fall on CCTV?
There is bound to be an adverse response to Bexley council’s plan to stop actively monitoring CCTV and in the process save taxpayers £225,000 a year. It’s ironic that it was councillor Peter Craske in his Public Realm cabinet role who was trumpeting the arrival of CCTV in Bexley and Crayford only four years ago. and now it is Peter Craske as cabinet member for Community Safety who thinks it is a public service that can be degraded with not too many consequences.

Maybe he is right.

At the last People Scrutiny meeting borough police commander Jeff Boothe absolutely refused to say that CCTV is a useful crime prevention measure, only that it made people feel safer.

Bexley’s CCTV system proved useful when there was a senseless murder in the Broadway and it proved useful to a dishonest council when it trained a camera on an employee’s house as part of one of their spiteful victimisation schemes.

I’ve seen the case file and several well known Bexley names made up a cover story which was obviously false to anyone who knew how the system was operated and interconnected. I spent weeks studying the pile of paper and the technical documentation included in a dismissal file only for the employee concerned to get cold feet about publishing it. Shame.

Belvedere Splash Park
A number of messages have reminded me that Friends of Belvedere Heritage is not the only group aspiring to save the Splash Park. There is Anna Firth and her business friends too.

The existence of two groups is no great secret but there appears to be no communication between the two, and from one no communication at all. One might think a common goal would be an incentive for cooperation but there appears to be none.

Green Chain Walk
Site workers have attributed the three month delay to the reopening of the Yarnton Way to Southmere Lake section of the Green Chain to constant vandalism. As soon as one new feature is erected it is wrecked. Contractors’ vehicles have been both damaged and driven over fences etc. some of which have disappeared entirely.

Gallions/Peabody have expressed the hope that the path will be reopened before the end of August, after which the Lesnes Abbey section will be next for attention. Given the daily problems one might wonder why they bother.

Social Services
Social Workers get a consistently bad press. Whenever I am sent a story relating to social services, generally but not always children’s social services, they come out of it very badly indeed. Good news stories are hard to come by, presumably if compliments are due, no one offers them and whilst some correspondents supply enough evidence to justify a report on BiB, most do not.

Now I have had to deal with Social Services myself, not Bexley’s but Newham’s. What a useless shower they are.

It concerns my 95 year old aunt who broke a hip and a wrist three months ago today. The NHS care was first rate and she made a remarkable recovery. She could have been released from hospital nearly a week earlier except that the request for a care package to be put in place sat in someone’s In Tray for almost a week. When a date was eventually promised and short term 24 hour family cover was arranged, Social Services let things slip for another 24 hours causing considerable inconvenience.

The care package proved to be inappropriate, in part because my aunt always refuses help and partly because the care workers receive no concessions on parking, they hover by the open front door to guard against a £65 fine. Very nice they are but all they can do is say hello and run.

Gradually the constant visitors, sometimes arriving past an old lady’s bedtime, became not just inappropriate but a definite nuisance causing distress to the 95 year old.

I have been in touch with two people in Newham’s Social Services department. One was mainly interested in getting my aunt to pay £198 a week for care she didn’t need. We arranged to meet one day last week but such is Newham Social Services shortcoming in the party and breweries department they couldn’t make a proper appointment.

I asked for an email on the preceding day but the best they could offer was a phone call as they left their office. Thanks to the lack of a river crossing East Ham is an hour away from Bexley.

I received no notification by email or telephone but the Newham official visited my aunt on Thursday morning, the day of the tube strike. I have no idea what may have been achieved because all the bank statements etc. are with me and Newham knew that.

The second Social Worker simply ignored me for two weeks until I said on Monday I would pass the correspondence to the Newham MP, Stephen Timms. That provoked an instant response by email and telephone and a meeting was arranged at my aunt’s house for the following afternoon (yesterday). Luckily my aunt’s GP agreed to be there too and I was keen to see if my assessment that my aunt was entirely back to normal would be supported by two professionals.

The Social Worker failed to show up despite my telephoned reminder. Neither has there been any explanation as to why not today. Obviously a totally useless individual.

Fortunately the GP shared my opinion and has offered to do battle on my behalf.

Is there any such thing as a responsible and reliable social worker? Not in Newham obviously but is Bexley any better?

 

10 August - Almost nothing doing

Lesnes Abbey currently symbolises the whole of Bexley council, they have launched some consultations and gone away on their holidays.


LesnesBy some estimates the new Lesnes Abbey visitor centre should have opened last month but today the site is again deserted and looks not a lot different from what it did at the beginning of January. Seven whole months of delay. Why? No one seems to know.

The only activity to report is by campaigners against budget cuts. The Splash Park is being supported by a group calling themselves Friends of Belvedere Heritage and the Old Farm Park group is to hold another meeting tomorrow evening.

19:30 in The Pavilion, 21A Burnt Oak Lane, more details on their website. (Or 19:45 for Twitter followers!)

Council’s consultation. Fill it in if for no other reason than the OBE (Objectors Betrayed Entirely) won’t be able to say a majority is in favour of the sell off.

 

9 August - Crossrail digs one hole, fills another

The first weekend Crossrail update of the month and it looks like the Gayton Road utility diversion programme is approaching completion. Further west the final Crossrail to North Kent track connection will soon be made in Plumstead.
Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail
There will be trains from Abbey Wood next weekend and again on 29th/30th August but after that consecutive closures through to mid-October. Big changes are afoot.

More Crossrail related blogs.

 

8 August (Part 2) - A job for Rob

Bexley council justifies its proposed sale of parks and open spaces by claiming that the cash raised will allow the rest to be properly maintained and not be blighted by knee high grass as deputy council leader Alex Sawyer said parks across the Greenwich border are at the last council meeting, but if the story about Greenwich’s parks is true it would be the pot calling the kettle black.

Sidcup’s walled garden has been left untended all year, something first noted in these pages three months ago. However with the alacrity of youth councillor Rob Leitch (Conservative, Sidcup) has organised a rescue party; as if upsetting the leadership with his Old Farm Park speech a couple of weeks ago wasn’t enough for him. Working directly with and for the community while his party bosses creep off in the other direction hoping no one will notice is unlikely to do a lot for his popularity with the OBE. (Obergruppenführer Begrudges Enterprise.)
Walled Garden
When Rob first burst on to the scene just over a year ago fellow Sidcup councillor June Slaughter suggested I should be prepared to be impressed and probably I was too quick off the mark with my comments about his early enthusiasm for a few granite benches and pretty shop fronts in Sidcup High Street. Once councillor Leitch found his feet in the chamber it become very apparent that June was absolutely right.

Councillor Leitch has not only quickly recruited a team of volunteer gardeners but obtained sponsorship from local businesses with Ruxley Manor Garden Centre additionally providing the horticultural expertise. I understand that the rates are £350 for each of the major flower beds for two years which seems very reasonable to me.

Further donations are always welcome of course and if Rob can be persuaded to release his new charity bank account details I’ll let you know. In fact if he fails to get sponsorship for all of the available plots I think I’ll sponsor one myself. Thorny topiary formed to the letters BiB surrounded by something poisonous sounds about right to me.
Walled Garden Walled Garden Walled Garden Walled Garden
Walled Garden Walled Garden Walled Garden Walled Garden
As usual, click on any of the thumbnail images to enlarge them.

Councillor Rob Leitch comments.

 

8 August (Part 1) - Dan’s the man

Lesnes LesnesI asked Lesnes Abbey ward councillor Danny Hackett what he was Twittering on about when he said that the Abbey playground appeared to have suffered additional damage because as an irregular visitor I didn’t see any. Danny might be more on the ball.

Councillor Hackett was able to say that the sandbags were covering a small trampoline which had been slashed and the tape around one of the slide platforms was new and put there because it has been seriously cracked.

While I was on site yesterday morning it was being checked over by one of the park maintenance contractor’s men. He was not optimistic for the slide’s future while he attended to a damaged perimeter fence.

Danny said that yesterday’s attack on the temporary Heras fence did not simply tip it over but caused serious damage, which I had noticed. It was at least the third attack he knew of and it was likely to be reinforced soon.

I can’t help feeling that having got away with the arson attack the culprits may be seeing the minimally secured park as a challenge. For me it is only three minutes walk away and with the patio door left open on a warm evening the gangs swarming around Lesnes Abbey are not difficult to hear. Reports from staff there say it too was fire damaged a few days ago.

 

7 August (Part 3) - New look for Wilton Road. It’s a gazebo

Survey tentThe promised survey tent made its appearance in Wilton Road today and I dropped by a few minutes after one o’clock intending to catch the 13:13 train from the adjacent station. I finished up catching the 13:53.

I was probably not a typical visitor having been to all the Greenwich council sponsored meetings and just as was the case there, the consultant was collecting a lot of ideas, many of them conflicting.

There are those who want more parking and those who want it to be very short stay to maximise customer turnover. Others thought an eye catching feature at the Knee Hill end was essential whilst one hated the idea.

I had heard Sally Williams, the retail consultant (Twitter @retailrevival), speak before and this time we talked about the local area, she seemed to be remarkably well informed but I was able to add to her knowledge.

Sally said that two betting shops had come in for particular criticism by morning visitors but she was unaware that Bexley’s cabinet member for Leisure, one Peter Craske, was spokesperson-in-chief for the Association of British Bookmakers. She knows now.

When we discussed her involvement in the Sidcup regeneration scheme I said I had attended the scrutiny meeting presentation on 21st June 2012. How did I remember so clearly? It was the day Peter Craske was arrested on suspicion of Misconduct in Public Office. Sally did not seem very surprised, maybe something to do with her involvement with North Finchley. Look it up!

It was only when I was on the train that I remembered that I was completely wrong, June 2012 was the Bexleyheath Broadway scheme. The Sidcup presentation was a year later on 19th June 2013. Another date of infamy for Bexley council. It was the day that councillor Cheryl Bacon banned the public from hearing about Sidcup, thereby breaking the letter of the law and decided the best way of covering a minor criminal offence was to set in train a much bigger one.

The Wilton Road survey may be completed on line. The first modern day photo on their website is rather nice don’t you think?

For the photograph above I seized a moment when no one was there. Maybe not the best decision to have made.

 

7 August (Part 2) - Park vandals win again

Lesnes Lesnes LesnesCouncillor Craske says he is going to spend £105,000 on replacing the children’s slide destroyed by arsonists on 9th June.

Last night the vandals sent him a message. “Dear Mr. Craske, you are wasting taxpayers’ money”.

According to local councillor Danny Hackett on Twitter, not only has the protective barrier been tipped over and broken, additional damage has been caused to the park infrastructure.

While parks are left unsecured far from nighttime illumination repetitive vandalism would appear to be inevitable.

Tweet

 

7 August (Part 1) - The Green Chain’s missing link

Green ChainIt is almost precisely six months since Peabody Housing Association said it was going to break the Green Chain Walk which runs right across the boroughs of Bromley and Bexley from Crystal Palace to Lesnes Abbey and the Thames. A branch runs to the Thames Barrier in Greenwich.

The Peabody announcement said they were going to renovate the path where it runs across their domain in three sections, the first being that between Yarnton Way and Southmere Lake, about 300 metres in all.

The path was officially closed on 16th February although it remained accessible for a few days beyond that date. Reopening was scheduled for 29th May.

This is how it looked yesterday, a very long way from being completed.

Earlier pictures.

Green Chain Green Chain Green Chain Green Chain

 

6 August (Part 3) - Loons with balloons

ParkingA bit of me thinks that Bexley council won’t make any money out of its scamera cars because people don’t go around breaking all the rules of roads, they are generally more sensible than that aren’t they?

And then I look at the way some people park. The white Audi was parked in Abbey Wood a few days ago right across the entry to a small cul-de-sac near the station. He couldn’t pull forward because the double yellow line started there so half blocked the road instead.

My own road was nearly blocked today by commuter parking. The silver FIAT (Photo 2) was parked on a blind corner contrary to The Highway Code and forcing everyone heading for Abbey Road on to the wrong side of Carrill Way.

Further along two untidily parked cars made life very difficult for anyone driving something bigger than a large van. Obviously people with no sense or consideration for other road users. Just the sort of people that Bexley council will be hoping might help fill their black hole.

The driver of the silver Alfa Romeo is clearly extremely careless. Who would drive on a tyre like that? (Photo 5.)

Parking Parking Parking Parking

 

6 August (Part 2) - Bexley council will ignore your opinion

Save logo I have been taken to task (very gently!) by a lady from Sidcup for my suggestion that participating in the Parks for Sale consultation is a waste of time.

My reasoning was based on the fact that Bexley council has never, at least not in the five years I’ve been watching, taken any notice of a consultation.

The people of Belvedere rejected North Heath style improvements to Nuxley Road in 2007/8 and £400,000 wasn’t spent there but that is the only example to be found. Last year Belvedere confounded the experts when the Places Scrutiny committee was told it had the lowest proportion of empty premises of any shopping centre in the borough.

However the aforesaid lady said not participating in the consultation is playing into Bexley council’s hands and on reflection she is right.


IdiotsShe is keen to maximise the responses in order to save her local park (Old Farm). My suspicion remains that Bexley council simply cannot afford not to sell the park. It is the largest item of family silver proposed for disposal and deliberately crippling the borough’s best chance of a growth spurt and the income it would have generated ever since coming to power in 2006, has put Bexley’s Conservatives in far worse a position than might have been the case. Their own stupidity has left them with very few choices.

Teresa O’Neill OBE (Oiling Brampton’s Electorate) has a lot to answer for.

Not to sell the biggest of the parks on offer would be tantamount to scrapping Bexley’s entire budget strategy. I really cannot see them doing that and inevitably discrediting the new recruit from Camden - Finance Director Alison Griffin who is the brains behind it.

Nevertheless, although our expectations may be different, I shall in future back the Sidcup lady’s view that completing the Parks Sale Consultation is the right thing to do. She may be hoping for a miracle and I will expect to be able to say yet again that Bexley council has ignored a consultation, but this time a consultation that has given an overwhelming verdict rather than the easily dismissed few hundred who usually take part.

The Save Old Farm Park people have produced a very comprehensive website with a wealth of interesting and useful information and in particular a lot of guidance on how best to take part in the consultation. There are loads of things there which I would never have thought of. It is all rather well done.

Bexley council’s consultation.
The useful guidance is available directly with a click on the mini Save poster above.

 

6 August (Part 1) - Greenwich council wants your opinion

GreenwichGreenwich council continues to make all the running on Wilton Road where £300,000 is available to make it a more attractive place to shop, and given the number of takeaways there, to eat and drink as well.

The leader of Greenwich council has shown an interest and the cabinet member, director and his senior officers have all shown up at meetings, but from Bexley, no one I have ever recognised.

Two days ago the Royal Borough issued a Press Release in which councillor Danny Thorpe, Greenwich’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport said:


This is an exciting chance for local people – and people who regularly use Abbey Wood station – to directly shape plans for the Wilton Road area, which has even more potential to become a very popular local destination. Overall these are really exciting times for Abbey Wood – it is wonderful to see the changes promised because of Crossrail really starting to come to fruition. As well as the Wilton Road scheme we’re seeing the major new Cross Quarter development deliver new homes, new community facilities, nursery and supermarket and wider improvements to the whole area around the new station.


The Press Release revealed that the promised public consultation tent will make an appearance tomorrow, Friday and Saturday 8th and Monday 10th August. 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. It will be near to the Wilton Road, Abbey Arms entrance to the temporary station.

Local residents and commuters should take the opportunity to influence the area for the better. A rare opportunity for Bexley residents to take part in a consultation in which the decision has not already been made.

 

5 August (Part 2) - Off target

Bexley council issued two Press Releases today. First there was one that said the number of sign ups for the new bin tax had exceeded 11,000, and then there was this one…
Press Release
Note the emphasis on the bigger brown bin when in fact the annual capacity is down by 17·5% due to the reduced collection frequency. Typical of Bexley council’s dishonesty.

The revised figure of 13,500 suggests that the break even target should be reached but that the hoped for 30,000 may not materialise by September.

I have seen quite a lot of comment on internet forums, newspaper comment pages etc. to the effect that a bit of garden waste can go in the green bin. At the very first council meeting at which the subject was discussed in detail, the responsible cabinet member who at the time was Don Massey made it absolutely clear that Bexley council will regard that as an excuse to abrogate their responsibilities totally.
Press Release
There appears to be a mistake in the final sentence, food and garden waste will be going to separate facilities but how is that a reason for not putting either in the green (non-recyclable) waste bin? Perhaps they couldn’t think of an excuse that made sense.

The big fraud of course is that by getting residents to segregate food and garden waste they can not only charge for the latter but they estimated that the processing costs would fall by £444,000 a year. Cake and eat it. Nice.

 

5 August (Part 1) - No sign of a sign

NoticeHave they caught you yet? Doing a sneaky U-turn, getting behind some idiot who stops leaving a massive gap in front when traversing a yellow box junction? That sort of thing.

Be careful, Bexley council is out to get you. Since 1st August their Gestapo wagons have been training lenses on places judged to be worth their while in terms of plugging Bexley’s financial black hole.

At council meetings the junction of Broadway with Church Road has been held up as an example of a possible lucrative spot, possibly creating a new traffic hazard by parking a camera car where anyone else would be fined.

But it will all be fair and above board we were told, every one of their favoured money boxes will be identified. “Signs will be placed in locations where moving traffic offences will be enforced”.

Unless it is very well hidden there is no CCTV enforcement notice in Church Road.

Church Road

 

4 August - Crayford conundrum

When Bonkers is busy the south of the borough tends to be neglected, there simply isn’t enough time to report on meetings, attend to personal matters north of the river and tour the whole borough with a camera over my shoulder. However with most Bexley council activities taking a couple of months off, a bit more time has become free.

As an occasional visitor to Bexley village I have been aware of the traffic chaos sometimes seen on Gravel Hill while Bourne Road has been closed. It must have been shut for nearly two months now.

Crayford is not often on my itinerary but I know that on the rare occasions I have headed off in that direction via Bourne Road the reward is usually a long traffic queue, sometimes as far back as Hall Place.

The cause is always the junction with London Road and the inability of traffic to turn right into Crayford across a constant stream heading into Bexleyheath.

In my ignorance I assumed that Bexley council was getting rid of the space wasting triangle of land in the middle of the junction and putting in something sensible, like a roundabout.

A resident who lives not far away suggested I took myself along to take a look and see if I could see any sign of improvement that he had failed to see.

I confess I could not, neither could two residents of houses facing the works who I overheard being critical of the chaos on their doorsteps.
Crayford Crayford Crayford Crayford
Bexley council appears to have introduced their trademark road narrowing and constructed a simple T junction where the large triangular island used to be. Maybe Bexley’s road planners are masters of disguise but at the moment there is nothing obvious that looks likely to improve matters.

A return visit is called for when the road finally reopens.

 

3 August (Part 2) - Saint Peter?

Craske ArsonCouncillor Peter Craske, cabinet member for Environment and Leisure and would-be park seller, has found £105,000 from his playground repair budget to replace the Lesnes Abbey playground slide which was torched by vandals on 9th June this year.

The equipment is being manufactured in France at a cost of £105,000. Let’s hope the Euro continues to fall!

Earlier this afternoon I was sitting on a swing in a brand new playground in a small Wiltshire village speaking to the lady who had raised funds for it. There was previously one broken swing on the site and the council there like all others had no money.

The new playground had been funded entirely by Quiz Nights, fetes and sales in the village hall. The equipment was aimed at young children and was all Made in Britain.

Fortunately Wiltshire villages tend not to be frequented by drug fuelled morons. Not a single Nitrous Oxide canister to be seen!

 

3 August (Part 1) - Taking a stake in Wilton Road

Wilton RoadThe interviews with traders in Wilton Road, Abbey Wood have begun. Those I have heard of have not lasted the two hours that was mentioned at the Stakeholders’ Meeting but that’s probably because busy people cannot spare the time.

I detect some healthy cynicism that the benefits are worth waiting for, the goodies promised are unlikely to come until next Spring or later and some want help now.

A survey of shoppers is still on the cards, some say it is planned for this week.

 

2 August (Part 2) - Crash, bang, wallop! It’s the super safe Bellegrove Road again

Bellegrove Road Bellegrove Road How much was spent on Bellegrove Road in 2012, turning it into an obstacle course? £220,000 wasn’t it?

Doesn’t seem to have made it any safer. Another two accidents last week to add to the achievements so far.

I think I may have featured it before but you may wish to view the video shown here made by a Welling resident. Another one who will be going on Bexley’s hit list.

 

2 August (Part 1) - Progress and lack thereof

Lesnes Abbey Lesnes AbbeyStill nothing going on in Lesnes Abbey park, probably the monks built the Abbey quicker than Bexley and their partners can build a visitor centre. Bexley council originally thought it might be ready and open by now.

The hole in the ground is totally unexplained. Perhaps a conduit for one of the utility services to use.

Crossrail is a whole different ball game, nothing much hangs around there. The connection to the North Kent line is more or less done. See yesterday’s pictures.

 

1 August (Part 2) - Driving down crime, the wrong way and the right way

Police StationThere are two sorts of police officer, the type who spots someone in the back seat of a car caught up in a stationary traffic queue who has taken off her seat belt, invites the driver to get out and when told the passenger is heavily pregnant and is taking the opportunity to be more comfortable for a moment, hauls herself up to her full five foot nothing, adopts a Glaswegian head butting pose and barks “I don’t care!” (†)

Then there’s the sort who will politely enquire why one should be bothering to take a picture of a shabby looking Belvedere police station which is up for sale - perhaps I should have said I was an Estate Agent - and explains that they are being cautious in view of current security levels and happily agrees that there is nothing in law to stop the taking of photographs in a public place, but best to play safe.

And then there is Police Constable, soon to be Sergeant, Chris Molnar.

Chris is part of the Lesnes Abbey and Thamesmead East Policing Team which also includes Gina Buckley, Dennis Hobbs and John Pruden. They had invited me to one of their occasional Panel meetings at the aforesaid shabby cop shop. The invitation said I had been invited because I had shown “a desire to improve your area”.

It’s really nice to know that the police see my efforts towards ridding the borough of Teresa O’Neill as improving the area.

Unfortunately barely 20% of the invitees bothered to show up and those who did were the familiar old faces I have seen at every other police meeting I’ve attended. Every one of them apart from councillor Danny Hackett would have a Freedom Pass in his pocket. Same for the only lady present.

Chris gave an illustrated presentation on speeding, legal highs, public engagement and illegal motor bikes along with the mandatory crime stats beloved of all policemen. Most were going in the right direction but Domestic Violence wasn’t. Up 20·4% this year.


Chris Molnar The local police team is a great believer in community engagement and they are to be seen all over social media and show up at a whole load of local functions, especially, in Chris’s case if football is involved or there is a five year old around willing to wear his hat.

I wonder how he finds the time to chase the crooks but apparently he and his colleagues do a bit of that too. Thamesmead East and Lesnes Abbey wards both have fewer than half the crimes reported in the mirror image wards to be found on the other side of Harrow Manorway. Abbey Wood and Thames Moorings.

Whilst last night’s meeting was by invitation only, thoughts are turning towards an open meeting, possibly on October 15th.

You can follow the local police on Twitter (@MPSThamesmead @MPSWelling etc) or sign up for newsletters, sample below.


Newsletter Newsletter Newsletter Newsletter

† About 14:30, Tuesday 28th July in Burges Road, East Ham, next to the Underground station. So if Newham’s police commander Tony Nash is listening; you’ve got a bad apple in your barrel. Sort her out.

 

1 August (Part 1) - If looks could kill

While August’s first blog is in preparation savour the moment councillor June Slaughter drove a coach and horses through Bexley council’s case for selling off Old Farm Park. O'Neill

Teresa O’Neill OBE. (Omnibus Back Emulator)

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