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Bonkers Blog December 2015

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1 December (Part 1) - A Brokensense of humour

Bridge closedIt’s only just over a month until Bexley council backed by Transport for London aims to divide a community for six whole months. Partially at first, then totally. The recommended (and shortest) detour while the bridge over the Cray is replaced in Bexley Village is via the A2 and in the region of four miles each way. Bourne Road will carry twice as much traffic as usual and be even more congested.

Bexley Village is not a place I frequently have to visit but I get the impression it is disrupted by road or utility works every few months. It cannot be easy to run a business there, in fact I know it is not. The recent pictures showing the destruction of the riverside willow trees came from a worried trader.

Residents aren’t too happy either. David Marshall who lives very close to the centre of the village wrote to the News Shopper about it and achieved Star Letter status in last week’s issue.

Star Letter

Click to see all of Mr. Marshall’s letter.

I heard on the grapevine that Mr. Marshall had sent the same letter to his MP, James Brokenshire, and I managed to get hold of a copy of Mr. Brokenshire’s reply.


Dear Mr Marshall,

I am sorry that you have chosen to make some not unreasonable points in such a snide, sarcastic and personally abusive way. It is my Village too and I am concerned about the potential impact of the bridge works on the Village and the local businesses in particular.

This is a decision of the Council and Transport for London taking account of the fact that the current bridge is weak and will need replacing at some stage in the near future and that it is better to do this in a planned way rather than having to respond to an emergency situation. What concerns me is the length of time the works will take and the extent of the disruption caused on local businesses and residents during this time.

I have made a number of representations to the Council over recent weeks reflecting various points made to me by local traders on steps to cushion the impact and to underline that the Village remains open for business - including issues such as available parking. I've also highlighted the anger at the removal of the trees. I met the Cabinet Member at Bexley Council this week to underline these points in person and am expecting a formal response from the Council in the next few days. Notwithstanding your comments I will continue to press them to speed up the works and minimise the impact on the Village.

You can carry on with the personal abuse if you choose, but it does nothing to help resolve the situation particularly when I have already been highlighting a number of these concerns.

Yours sincerely,

James Brokenshire


Ignoring the first and last paragraphs it is as good a reply as it would be reasonable to expect. As is very often the case, an MP is powerless against the local council especially as more often than not the councillors will be on his selection committee. But what’s all this about a snide, sarcastic, personally abusive letter? There was none of that in the News Shopper’s letter and I was coming under pressure to publish James Brokenshire’s reply. Obviously I wasn’t prepared to do that if Mr. Marshall had been personally abusive about his MP. There can be no excuse for that.

I have not been able to contact Mr. Marshall but he had sent his letter to several of his friends in the village and a copy has been tracked down. The letter published in the News Shopper cut the final three paragraphs…


It is all very well spending fortunes tarting up Bexleyheath with useless blocks of stone which have to be repaired frequently, but some thought should have been given to this project.

It will be interesting to see how our MP will get on when his ministerial car is gridlocked! Look out for a helicopter at taxpayers expense (or first class Hotel Accommodation)

One more thing, they have cut down all the magnificent trees by the Old Mill, so thanks council for ruining that as well!


The News Shopper’s editor was right to cut the letter where he did but why did James Brokenshire get so upset about the reference to a ministerial car? He might have considered himself privileged to have seen the letter before publication but surely he should be able to recognise some gentle ribbing when he sees it?

Or are these people so remote from the average man in the Bexley street that we have to be doffing our caps and bowing whenever their names are mentioned? If Mr. Marshall is abusive then goodness knows what they think of me!

Note: Via a circuitous route Mr. Marshall has agreed to the publication of his ‘personally abusive letter’ on these pages.

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