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Bonkers Blog January 2015

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31 January (Part 2) - Broken. Link

Blocks As the month draws to a close, here’s a few of January’s photographs which will otherwise go to waste. Arnsberg Way is not the only place where the new blocked road is collapsing prematurely, this picture was taken in Geddes Place.

I was invited to an event at The Link during the month. The Link is a a community centre in Belvedere Road, Thamesmead, built under the high level roundabout where the A2041 flies over the A2016 Eastern Way. It styles itself as “a stunning state of the art community hub aimed at young people” and was built and is funded by Trust Thamesmead which is part of Peabody who took over the Gallions Housing Association a year ago.

It offers meeting rooms and some sporting activities at low cost, generally £1 and use of the net which appeared to be free. The notices and signs to be seen inside feature Greenwich council (Enlarge 1st photo below) more heavily than Bexley which appears to provide no more than a few leaflets.

There was little going on while I was there - my invitation bore the wrong date! - so after a quick look around I sampled the coffee and left. I thought it a little odd that you could do lots of things for pocket money prices but cups of coffee ranged from £1.70 to £2. But then I can remember the national furore when Joe Lyons and Co. raised their coffee price from 5½d to 6d.

The Link latte was quite good though.

The Link The Link The Link The Link

 

31 January (Part 1) - It’s not quite what it seems. When Philip Read’s behind a scheme, what is?

Referendum ReferendumI am in the strange position of not supporting any of the ideas spoken of by Ed Miliband and totally against his position on the electoral problems brought about by Scottish devolution but at the same time thinking that the Conservative General Election candidate for Erith & Thamesmead would be totally mad to campaign for a ‘referendum’ in Bexley calling for English votes for English Laws.

Why are Bexley councillors tramping the streets of Northumberland Heath handing out a ‘referendum’ leaflet when there are so many other things local councillors should be attending to?

English Votes for English Laws being more likely under a Conservative government may be a valid point but a ‘referendum’ in Bexley won’t influence anything. In Bexley not even Bexley council takes any notice of what local people say, certainly not central government.


SplashparkOne can forgive a millionaire barrister from Sevenoaks not knowing the difference between Bexleyheath and Thamesmead and not being able to spell Lesnes, but a ‘referendum’ would be a whole new level of silliness.

Spotting the forgoing on Twitter this morning my first thought was how much would a local referendum cost a near bankrupt council. I emailed a lady who might know. Teresa Pearce MP replied, “the cost of a local referendum is estimated by HOC library as between £85k and £300k”.

Would Erith & Thamesmead‘s would-be MP be happy to put around ¼% on the council tax on an ill thought out scheme? Probably not, for £300k she could have Belvedere’s Splash Park renewed. That might just get her elected.

However the whole thing is an underhand scam. Anna Firth is not calling for a referendum as her headline claims. Read the small print and she is trying to poll residents on a question that most people would probably answer ‘yes’ to. It’s just a cunning way to get your email address and phone number.

With the Mr. Nasty, Philip Read behind her, scams are to be expected, but if you sign up for the Erith & Thamesmead faux ‘referendum’, then please be aware of what it is all about. Breaching your privacy.

 

30 January (Part 2) - Redressing the balance

After putting the ‘Heathrow’ case in the public domain yesterday and throwing yet more doubt on the honesty of the police in Bexley it may be a good time to redress the balance to some extent.

The Peter Craske case
After councillor Peter Craske was released from police bail in October 2012 following his belated arrest after an obscene blog was traced to his telephone line six or more months earlier, a Bexley based Detective Sergeant was more than a little friendly when Elwyn Bryant and I met her a few weeks later on 4th December.

We learned that she came from Newcastle - as if her accent hadn’t already announced it - we heard about her plans for Christmas, and that the Craske file was the biggest she had seen. She also said that the case had been “crippled by political interference”. Chief Executive Will Tuckley had been busy conniving with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Acting Deputy Commander. So no great surprise there either.

Not much was said about that meeting publicly at the time but the conversation was reported to Borough Commander Victor Olisa. The Detective Sergeant denied having spoken frankly to Elwyn and me at all, but we know what she said and her honesty probably didn’t go down well with those who’d succumbed to the interference.

Now that the Directorate of Professional Standards is supposedly investigating our complaint they have just written to me to say that the Detective Sergeant resigned not long after her honesty became more widely known and no one knows where she went. So if anyone knows a former police officer by the name of Jacqueline Bishop who hails from Newcastle perhaps you would tip her off as the DPS would like to speak to her.

My own view is that using DS Bishop’s absence as an excuse is rather lame. If the DPS would read the damned file they might come to the same conclusion as Ms. Bishop, but they are strangely reluctant to do so.

The Cheryl Bacon case
When the police investigation into councillor Cheryl Bacon’s lies was last reported here two weeks ago Greenwich police were saying that there were three legal steps to be taken before too long.


• To check with police solicitors that the offence of Misconduct in Public Office can be levelled against a councillor or officer.
• To similarly check that lying in Public Office is a crime that can lead to conviction.
• Send the case to the Crown Prosecution Service.


Based on a subsequent conversation between the investigating officer and Mick Barnbrook, the first two hurdles have been successfully jumped but the referral to the CPS has been held up because there have been difficulties pinning down councillors for interview.

There seems to have been a minor muddle with the arrangements which is now resolved and the interviewing of three Labour councillors is now imminent. However Conservatives are reluctant. In the words relayed by the police officer, “it would prove to be very awkward”.

I suspect political interference all over again, what other explanation could there be?

Having accumulated evidence which I consider to be credible I will write to the investigating officer to express my concerns.

Over several meetings, phone calls and emails, Mick Barnbrook and I have been able to ask questions and gain information. The investigating officer is both friendly and professional and cannot read the mind of the CPS but snippets of information begin to add up.

In connection with enquiries as to where this case may go, although the police officer has come out with various euphemisms and he has never used the ‘P’ word, Mick and I are pretty sure that he thinks the case against Cheryl Bacon, Will Tuckley and his colleagues is a good one, and if the CPS is of a similar mind, Will Tuckley will go to prison. And all because Cheryl Bacon refused to admit she was wrongly advised and preferred lying to saying sorry.

With a jail term possible you can be pretty sure that someone at the top of a corrupt tree will be working hard to make sure it doesn’t happen.

Whatever happens the two Greenwich police officers who have been handling this case will not be on the receiving end of a complaint as were so many officers once based in Bexley. Comparing them with Greenwich has so far been chalk and cheese.

 

30 January (Part 1) - Delivering jobs

BelvedereNonsenseBelvedere and Erith are becoming Bexley’s larder. South East England’s larder might be a more accurate description.

The massive white warehouse shown in the accompanying picture is Asda’s distribution centre. Since that photograph was taken four years ago Tesco has built a similar one and now Ocado has announced plans to build a third one on a 35 acre site.

All that stands in the way of hundreds of new jobs is Bexley’s Planning Committee which one might hope will not prove to be an impediment.

The need for a Thames bridge to drive prosperity into the borough as a whole has never been clearer yet Bexley council ignored and resisted the opportunities for eight long years.

 

29 January - Bexley’s police attract another serious complaint

O'NeillFour years ago Bexley’s council Leader, the thoroughly disreputable Teresa O’Neill, asked Bexley police to do something about the criticism levelled at her council on this blog. The ‘crime’ was that I had quoted Arthur Pewty’s metaphore about pitchforks and flaming torches. It made me a violent arsonist.

When Bexley police refused to withdraw the threat of arrest the Independent Police Complaints Commission ruled that quoting Shelley is not a crime and my Harassment Letter was formally withdrawn on their instructions.

What may not be so well known is that Bexley police ignored every procedural rule referring to Harassment Warnings in order to satisfy their mistress, Teresa O’Neill. One might have hoped that Bexley police would have learned lessons from their numerous mistakes but bending the rules is a handy procedure whenever there is a friend in need of protection. A case briefly mentioned six weeks ago shows every sign of falling into that category. It has been bubbling away largely out of sight for the best part of two years but has the makings of being ‘the best’ so far.


AylingI believe there are honest police officers out in the community but if there are any in Arnsberg Way they must keep their heads well down.

Three days ago an extract of a letter from the head of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime was published here to illustrate how MOPAC does take complaints on board if they are serious enough - in contrast to their refusal to help speed up my 32 month old complaint to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe - and this ‘Heathrow’ one most definitely is. Several Bexley police officers stand accused of perjury and conspiracy.

In brief, a marital split involving a female police volunteer resulted in the wronged wife being arrested on a common assault charge at Heathrow while coming home from the USA - as a favour to the police volunteer is part of the allegation.

The case against the wife was thrown out at Bromley Magistrates Court because the evidence, such as it was, was easily disproved. Any competent police officer could have worked that out for themselves.

This is becoming something of a pattern with Bexley police. They had no evidence that I was intent on burning down the old Civic Centre, there was no evidence, other than a false statement by a councillor, that John Kerlen had encouraged putting dog excrement through a letter box, there was no evidence that a schoolboy picked a fight with someone with police friends, and with evidence that collapsed on cursory examination, they had an innocent woman thrown in a cell by armed officers and kept there overnight - for fun is one interpretation.

You might think that Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling would want to put a stop to this nonsense, but your thought would be misguided. He failed to respond to the correspondence. Twice.
Ayling
A complaint to the IPCC was referred back to Bexley for investigation and adjudication by the police officer who made the arrest decision in the first place. The same technique adopted by Bexley council when asked to investigate the Cheryl Bacon affair. Will Tuckley, pretending to look for evidence, referred only to the liar’s own statement. The police did something similar and came out with the answer you would expect, that everyone was innocent of wrong doing. The same as what their Professional Standards Directorate told me in connection with the Peter Craske business, though in that case the IPCC disagreed.

When asked to review their decision another Bexley police officer went around the same loop and came to the same conclusion. They ignored the subsequent IPCC intervention.

Perhaps MOPAC will do something about it now that their Chief Operating Officer has decided that the allegation is a serious matter - which it quite obviously is. Ms. Bailey’s short letter may be read here and with the permission of the sender, the original complaint to MOPAC is available too. It’s a data heavy page, nearly 400 kilobytes.

The IPCC is still involved so this is unlikely to be the last you hear of this case. Can there be another London police district that gets itself into trouble more often than Bexley? Since when was it appropriate to have armed officers arrest someone heading for home in a routine common assault case? When there is a personal axe to grind presumably.

 

28 January (Part 2) - Hocus-Pocus

HokeyI decided a couple of weeks ago that I should attend a wider variety of council meetings. Total attendances have dropped significantly following leader Teresa O’Neill’s assault on scrutiny by reducing the number of those meetings by more than half.

The resolution has not started well. I was unable to attend last night’s General Purposes Committee meeting because it was the first time it had been possible to visit a close relative who came close to death at the hands of the NHS. (Consultant was sick, no one else knew what to do.)

All I have been able to do is read through the Agenda. Do senior staff really put their right hand in, take their right hand out and then turn around? Could that be what it is all about?

Agenda


HocusThe reason that paragraph caught my eye is because of the persistent stories (if two sources can be persistent) leaking from Watling Street to the effect that senior staff are paid off and re-employed on a consultancy basis almost immediately.

With no confirmatory evidence, names are best kept beneath the proverbial hat but the expenditure must Tot up to quite a lot. Maybe that is why the subject came up at General Purposes; not that the resolution above does anything to stop the practice.

 

28 January (Part 1) - Belvedere can BOGOF

Tesco Tesco

Probably not Bexley council’s fault but Tesco’s assurance that there would be no more surprises following the cancellation of the Broadway store would appear to be as worthless as an expired money off voucher. The News Shopper reports the bad news.

It will not come as a great surprise to those who know the area, a very popular Asda store almost next door and Tesco plagued by Anti-Social Behaviour in Picardy Street.

Bad news for the unemployment statistics though.

 

27 January (Part 2) - Cabinet meeting and the evil Philip Read

Bacon

Yesterday’s cabinet meeting was chaired by deputy leader Gareth Bacon. No one said why but it is sure to be connected with the fact that the B-i-B banners have been flowery and black since last Tuesday and the bobbing Teresa temporarily banished. Her mother died last week.

There was, apart from that, nothing unusual about the meeting, it was back to its usual under half hour format, the sound system was absolutely awful - I doubt the loudspeakers were switched on - and councillor Philip Read went out of his way to prove that he is by far the most vile individual to have ever sullied Bexley’s council chamber. All standard stuff.

Read’s disgraceful contribution had absolutely zero relevance to the subject under discussion, viz. the budget proposals, but an utterly useless chairman failed to intervene. As a result of Gareth Bacon’s incompetence the meeting had to endure a four minutes and forty five seconds personal attack on Labour councillor Mabel Ogundayo. This was revenge for her putting a motion to the last council meeting critical of Bexley’s long history of failure in the area of children’s care. Bexley’s over-sensitive Conservative members chose to exclude the public from that criticism in case too many truths came out. Personal attacks are however fair game for the webcast when an opposition councillor is in the frame.


ReadThe reliably obnoxious councillor Philip Read wasted almost exactly 20% of the meeting with his irrelevant diatribe. It may have been full council material but to indulge his own bile during what should have been a discussion about Bexley’s dire financial position showed the full depth of his putrid personality, just as it did when Read made up stories about John Kerlen which saw him dumped in a police cell on false allegations in 2012.

There was a good turnout by both Labour and Conservative councillors eager to hear just how bad the news for Bexley is going to be but as not one of them, with a single exception, made any contribution, they might just as well stayed at home and watched the webcast. Presumably that is what the three UKIP members did, though it does look bad when none turn up. Cabinet member Don Massey couldn’t resist making one of his well known jibes about their absence.

Councillor Gareth Bacon set the mood of the meeting at its very beginning by saying that the coming year will be the first when council tax revenues were expected to form more than 50% of council income but overall the meeting shed no more light on the budget than did yesterday’s blog.

Director of Finance Alison Griffin (pictured below left) repeated the assertion that prices would all go up by 3% with not a word about the dozens of massive exceptions. A new figure of £79 million as the savings target was glossed over without comment. (Audio clip below.)

Griffin MurphyThe Deputy Director of Finance, John Peters, spoke too but he was inaudible in the chamber and the recording is no better.

Sheila Murphy (Deputy Director of Children’s Care) said that the Social Worker vacancy problem has reduced, permanent staff have risen from 50 to 60% of posts and the Agenda revealed that one Irish recruit is now in post with more soon being very possible.

The small part of cabinet member Read’s contribution which didn’t come from his vitriol bottle covered the gradual improvement in the OFSTED and DFE reports on the performance of his department but no reference to things that had gone in the other direction.

Inadequate
The only ordinary councillor to open his mouth was Labour’s Daniel Francis. He asked how much it had cost to run two budget consultations - first the one ending on 9th January and now the new one - instead of just one. No one knew the answer.

As one might expect, councillor Francis did not miss the most important point, that the 1,821 submissions to Consultation No. 1 had been totally ignored. They always are Daniel, I’m sure you must know that by now.

 

27 January (Part 1) - Telecoms twit

As I have said before, Bonkers does not attract much by way of dissenting voices, in fact I cannot remember the last one and the total cannot be more than two. In a way it is disappointing, presumably the blog reaches only those of like minds. However the weekend brought forth a critic. He said he wasn’t going to read Bonkers any more because my description of how a telephone bell works was simplified to the point of inaccuracy. True it was, but I was attempting to pad out a small news item about the lack of fibre broadband in parts of Welling, not write a treatise on telecommunications practice. For that you can go to Google.

The critic presumably has written such a treatise, his web address is www.cyber-cottage.co.uk so if you need to buy an office phone system and deal with someone who hasn’t a clue how to write a blog which won’t scare too many people away, you know where you can go. But be aware he might poke fun at any grammatical or spelling errors in your message and not read it to the end. His loss.

I removed the ringing voltage reference, it was irrelevant anyway.

 

26 January (Part 2) - Bexley police to be investigated by the Mayor’s Office

You can’t even trust the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime to be entirely truthful.

After Elwyn Bryant and I complained to the Chief Operating Officer on 27th November 2014 she replied to say that MOPAC does not handle complaints about police conduct - apart from those against the Commissioner himself.
MOPAC
MOPACNobody wants to look under the slimy stone which is the Metropolitan Police. But maybe there are cases which are serious enough to raise a flicker of interest.

Remember the lady who was arrested on bogus assault charges at Heathrow as she returned from a trip to the USA all under instructions from Bexley police? The one where her husband had run off with someone within Bexley police and was therefore in line for favours?

That lady has met with more success at MOPAC than I did. They have taken on her complaint.

The two letters were written only a day apart.

Could Elwyn and I have been fobbed off with BS?

 

26 January (Part 1) - Here we go again. Prices all up, far above inflation rate

Bexley council is to hold its first public cabinet of 2015 this evening and I have been reading through the agenda. It makes for gloomy reading. Financial problems abound. I’ll probably hear councillor Philip Read blaming Labour for the mess, he usually uses every opportunity.

The solution to the mess appears to be widespread price increases on top of the 39 (now 51) ‘cuts’. Everything from late library returns to day care and funerals will be more expensive.

The foreword to the fees document refers to rises of the order of 3%. They wouldn’t be twisting the truth again would they?


• Day Care charges of £42.50 (maximum) increased to £50 (maximum)
• Care Homes £330.50 to £495 per week
• All library charges up 10% give or take the odd pence
• Rowing boat hire up £1 to £12 per half hour
• Watersport tickets up 90 pence to £10.50
• Football/Rugby/Cricket pitch hire all increased by about 5%
• Funeral charges up by 10% and more with a few exceptions
• Charges to solicitors’ enquiries up by either 50% or 73%
• Food safety certificate fees up, some by as much as 30%
• Charges to charities for use of parks etc., all up around 10%
• Use of parks for wedding photos, increased by 20%
• Naming of roads, all increased by 50% give or take the odd pound
• Street works licences up 10%
• Emptying wheeled bins not put out by householder, up 12% to £20


How this comes to a 3% increase is hard to fathom but it still won’t be enough. Council tax is likely to rise by 2%.
Tax rise
Nothing looks good. It has been obvious for years that Bexley council was heading for the financial precipice. The same reason for going for a tax increase this year rather than a grant has applied in earlier years too. Conservative management of the coffers has been done with an eye on the ballot box instead of the long term wellbeing of the borough.

I found no reference to the proposed domestic recycling charges but the new bins are to cost £1,166,000.

The consultation process was advertised reasonably widely and high profile campaigns such as those over libraries and the Belvedere Splash Park no doubt helped to boost the responses to double the usual number, 1,821 this time, but it’s odds on that not one suggestion will be adopted, the financial chasm is far too big.

 

25 January (Part 2) - Thin timber strips and trips and trams in Abbey Wood

Fence Fence Knee HillThe view from the lower end of Knee Hill has changed dramatically.

Two thirds of the old wire fence remains and renovated to some extent but for the other third the former Harrow Inn site has reverted to relying on the old street furniture style barrier. Easily hopped if anyone has a mind to

However it might not be necessary to clamber over the ironmongery for long as the high and insubstantial fence has required bracing and the timber can best be described as flimsy. Some of the fence panels are secured by lumps of concrete too. Mind your toes!

I hope I am wrong but I doubt the Harrow Inn fence version 4 will stand the test of time, but it has certainly opened the view. Not that Abbey Wood currently provides a good one.

If it benefits from the TfL funding around the station perhaps - so not much - and no new Concert & Dance Hall planned! (Enlarge Photo 3.)

Abbey Wood
Tram Route 40 : Victoria Embankment (Savoy Street) – Westminster Bridge – Kennington – Camberwell – Peckham – New Cross – Greenwich – Woolwich – Plumstead – Abbey Wood.

 

25 January (Part 1) - DA16 3 forced on to a no fibre diet

No one likes telecom companies. When my broadband went down a year ago it took BT two weeks to get around to fixing what I and my ISP told them was the problem on Day 1. Mick Barnbrook’s octogenarian father-in-law has been without a telephone for more than two weeks. Virgin say their van can’t find a parking spot and the fault is too high up a tower block. They are content to leave an old man isolated in his flat.

My own home phone has been useless since the middle of last week when the bell stopped working. The broadband works, I can make outgoing calls, it registers incoming calls on the Caller Display and I can answer the call if I happen to notice the number light up on the screen. But the bell doesn’t ring.

I know it is BT’s fault because I have two BT land lines in the house and five different phones I can swap around so it’s pretty obvious that the exchange is not sending the ringing current down the line to ring the bell. A system adopted a century or more ago and a big anachronism now.


RakeHowever the idiots who manage BT Openreach now insist that before they press the reset button on their exchange line card they must come to me and check I have not done something silly and they can’t do that until next Wednesday afternoon.

They will find my phone is plugged directly into their test socket behind the master socket; I’m not totally ignorant of how the phone works and they can stuff their threatened £130 call out charge. Well actually the phone isn’t plugged into the test socket any more because that would stop my broadband working, but it has been tested there. BT are morons, but no worse morons than any other telecoms provider.

As you may remember, I worked for BT for all but 16 months of my working life. Us old timers warned the people in the ivory tower if they went down their preferred road the service would become crap. But we all retired and the lack of a human face makes the service crap.

One good thing is that I can say without fear of contradiction is that my bell fault cannot be laid at the door of Bexley council. That isn’t always the case with phone problems.

While I was with BT I wrote countless letters to customers. One I remember well was circa 1978 when International and Maritime Services, as my bit of the outfit was then called, was installing International Subscriber Dialling (ISD) equipment in telephone exchanges as quickly as we could before we ran out of operators to man the switchboards.
Faraday Building
A complaint had come from the Chief Executive of Shaftesbury council - I suspect he was called a Town Clerk back then, it’s all they are really but it’s harder to get away with paying a clerk a quarter of a million pounds - who sent me an excoriating letter about us not equipping Shaftesbury with ISD as a result of which he had no takers for the business park he had created down there.

I took a certain amount of delight in telling him that we would equip Shaftesbury with ISD the moment he stopped refusing planning permission for an extension to the telephone exchange. Switching equipment was bulky back then. Planning permission was granted within weeks.

In its own small way Bexley council is impeding modern telecoms too.

It’s probably cruel to mention here that my broadband service provides about 76 megabytes a second download and more than 17 upload because in parts of Welling you would be lucky to get much more than 1% of the latter. And there are indications it is Bexley council’s fault, or at least they could be doing a lot more than they are to assist. You can read all about it by clicking on the image below.
No fibre in Welling
What you need to get that problem fixed is a councillor who lives in the affected area but although several live close by I don’t see any in exactly the right post code.

Here is some correspondence with Bexley council. Because of one resident a large number of Welling people cannot get a fibre connection.

 

25 January - This Website

Late in the afternoon of 24th January every page on B-i-B was changed and a fresh copy loaded to the server. More critically all the support files which those pages rely on were carved up into more manageable chunks, renamed, moved to new positions and loaded in a different sequence. If your browser didn’t notice, none of mine did, it’s not likely to be a problem in the near future.

More details.

From Sunday 25th January the Blog Index pages have been configured to be part of the Blog Section of the website instead of the older and original General Section. This means the Indexes will adopt User Configurations of a Blog Page and carry a Blog Menu instead of a main Site Menu. All complaints to the Usual Place.

 

24 January (Part 2) - Bin and gone

I’m still banned from looking at councillor Philip Read’s Tweets. It’s not an effective strategy, most of them reach me one way or another.

It would appear from one of today’s (Image 1) that I missed the new bins when I walked through Northumberland Heath yesterday.

Bins Bins Bins Flytipping

Good for Northumberland Heath, In Abbey Wood the bins are gradually disappearing.

Abbey Wood lost the Gayton Road bins to Crossrail and now it’s lost the Harrow Manorway bins - to Crossquarter presumably. Bexley council can’t be bothered to reposition any of them and then they wonder why the place is a fly tip.

Below you see the Abbey Tower and Crossquarter development. A new Sainsburys by Summer. Allegedly.
Crossquarter

 

24 January (Part 1) - Slow and slower

Conway Conway ConwayThe past week has not seen any discernible progress with the six week Northumberland Heath regeneration scheme, a little bit of paving near the Post Office has been completed, and that’s your lot!

Not really surprising, the number of workers on site at 2:15 yesterday was precisely zero.

Maybe F.M. Conway sent their staff to the wrong place. Those carrying out some mystery ‘Highway Improvements’ in Station Road, Belvedere, think they are working in Southwark.

 

24 January - This Website

During this weekend significant changes will be made beneath the bonnet of B-i-B. They will confuse some browsers. A page refresh should restore order. On some older pages text will not wrap around images, but their number is gradually reducing.

More details.

 

23 January (Part 3) - The dirty cops really are untouchable

Three letters about the Councillor Peter Craske case all in one day…
Book title
The Independent Police Complaints Commission confirmed that it doesn’t matter how slow the Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards are to respond to complaints, there is nothing they can do about it. There were two new bits of information. The police are not allowed to drop an enquiry referred to them by the IPCC, mine was, and “the IPCC acknowledges this is taking a significant period of time and for this reason I have contacted the Directorate of Professional Standards”. That’s in addition to referring it to a Senior Case Officer as an example of extreme delay.

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime has said they are not interested in Metropolitan Police malpractice unless the complaint is directed at Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe himself. Now there’s an idea.

From the Directorate of Professional Standards - maybe the IPCC really has kicked their backsides - comes news that they have still not achieved anything but one of the Bexley officers they’d like to interview cannot be found. Now where did I hear that one before?

If you are in any doubt about just how corrupt the Metropolitan Police can be, get yourself to a library before yours closes and ask for a copy of Michael Gillard and Laurie Flynn’s book. The paper version is out of print but there is an updated version for Amazon’s Kindle.

 

23 January (Part 2) - To The Murky Depths

Today was a nice sunny day in Bexley; cold but bright with lots of blue sky. My solar panels generated 340% of the installer’s estimate for a typical January day.

But all was not as it seemed, the sun was not the only yellow thing in the sky, so was the view to Canary Wharf, almost exactly six miles from Lesnes Abbey where this photograph was taken at 15:35 this afternoon.City
Canada Tower is in the middle of the picture just to the left of Thamesmead’s telephone exchange identified by the aerials on the roof.

 

23 January (Part 1) - Send them to Coventry

I kept the postman busy this morning. One SpecSaver leaflet, one pizza advert and four Bexley related letters. The one on Bexley council notepaper was the most puzzling. It said the council aren’t going to include paying-in slips with the next council tax bill. Why should I care, I’ve never used them?
Slips
My file of council tax bills doesn’t include any payment slips but I probably threw them away and I vaguely remember there may have been ten of them in a pack. If I am right it looks as though 24,500 people will have received a letter like mine plus all those people who actually used the slips.

I don’t understand how any money will be saved this year or perhaps for several years, It’s all been wasted on postage costs. Why wasn’t an advice note included in the tax bill envelope? It’s not as though the advance notice will give any practical advantage.

It is perhaps an illustration of just how desperate Bexley council’s financial woes are. Within the past few days we’ve learned that the council is tightening the screw on the sick and disabled and saving money by sending the homeless to Manchester, even though one couple were in local employment. I think I have a brilliant idea…

Move council jobs up there too.

There must be some back room jobs that could be done anywhere. What about the desk jobs in the parking gestapo? The parking shop is long gone, everything is done by phone or internet now. They don’t have to sit in a London office.

The same goes for some of the Contact Centre staff. The fad for large companies hiring support staff in Delhi is largely over, but BT, for example, had, probably still has, support staff working from home on the end of fast net connection. Do we need all the planning staff to be on top of the job? Maybe a mobile handful to tour the borough while the rest stay in their offices.

OK, so you think I have gone off my rocker, but according to council insiders this is exactly what we have to look forward to. Relocate or resign.

Note: Not necessarily Manchester, just somewhere cheaper than Bexley.

 

22 January (Part 3) - Green is Go

The Lesnes Labour councillors are probably not best pleased that after all their letters to and meetings with Bexley council officers about the Harrow Inn site, our MP can waltz into the Deputy Director of Public Protection’s office and he immediately rolls over. Charmed by a pretty face, or maybe the strength of her argument. It’s a funny way of doing business but then Bexley is a very peculiar place.

Don’t mess with Thamesmead Tess.


Harrow Inn Harrow InnBy yesterday afternoon two friendly chaps with East European accents were happy to pose for the camera and boast how they had already filled three skips and were going to improve the state of the fence. In my experience only British public authority workmen want to call the police when they see a camera.

Today the fence repair was well under way. A bit disappointing that they are just mending the old fence because parts of it are broken beyond repair, but the green plastic which dragged it down every time the wind blew is going in the skip too.

Fence

Harrow Inn Harrow Inn Harrow Inn Harrow Inn

Now that the weeds will be open to view, the jungle that took over the site for a while could be put to better use. A council that really cared for its residents could have killed two birds with one stone and provided a temporary car park, thus solving all the commuter parking and Wilton Road trading problems in one go. But Bexley is not a caring council.

Personally I think it has all gone downhill since the Harrow Inn corner looked like this…
Old photo

 

22 January (Part 2) - Helping the police with their enquiries

I signed up to the local Safer Neighbourhood Team’s newsletter about a month ago, it makes a pleasant change for police missives not to contain the threat of arrest for being critical of Bexley council. It’s a good job there is no need to publish pictures of prophets; you can’t be sure whether that will get you arrested, machine gunned, or international support from the Prime Minister.

TweetMy local SNT members seem to be a progressive bunch and their initiatives have so far at least, always been worth supporting.

The latest Newsletter said “If you run a community website or FB page, please spread the word”. The word, it needs to be said, is that they are asking people in the Thamesmead and Lesnes Abbey areas to complete a survey on their crime concerns.


MotorbikeI’m not aware of much crime locally, there are some unpleasant people in my street but I’ve not seen them do anything more than shout obscenities at each other and like everywhere else it seems there are the lunatics who ride noisy motorbikes without crash helmets.

But to the point… if you live in Thamesmead or on Lesnes Abbey ward the police would like to have your opinion. Click the Tweet image to take their survey.

They say it will take five minutes of your time but probably it will be less. If you’ve not seen their latest Newsletter you may see a copy here. (PDF.)

There’s probably a link somewhere that will sign you up for the Newsletter but I have failed to find it. Maybe someone will let me know what it is.

 

22 January (Part 1) - Going for broke

Bexley council has just closed the sham consultation on its 39 budgetary proposals. I describe them as sham because Bexley council has never taken any notice of any consultation to the extent of cancelling a cut and always has them lined up ready to go before the Tory sheep have been told to vote for them unanimously.

And then there are the dishonest things like their habit of describing new motoring fines as savings and asking residents if they think it is OK to sell off parks but refusing to say which they have in mind.


No moneyThe decision to freeze council tax over the past six years instead of easing them up say 1% a year has left Bexley council close to broke. On the other hand it has kept the Tories in total control of the borough for 12 years and that is all that really matters to them.

So now the government has cut the grants to the bone and Bexley is on a knife edge. All it needs is a financial shock and it is going to fall off the tight-rope.

And then there was Tesco? Is there a Plan B?

No of course not, but it must be easy enough to cobble one together in a week or two. If you were the worst sort of Conservative, i.e. a Bexley Tory, how might the conversation go?


"Let’s do this the easy way. We’ll have a go at the sick and disabled. They are always good for a few bob.”

“What do you suggest?”

Chris Taylor screwed the care agencies into the ground and most are still in business. They pay their staff less than minimum wage and they didn’t mount a serious challenge. We could turn the screw a bit more.”

“Bloody good idea let’s stop providing talking books for the housebound too!”

“OK, but that’s not going to save much. We’ve got to think bigger than that.”

“There’s always the Council Tax Hardship Fund. A hundred grand sloshing around there, it may not be much to Gareth but it’ll save a lot more than a few measly books.”

“What we should really do is kick those with learning difficulties. You could get a million out of that.”

“That’s another good one, we won’t top that.”

“True but if we stopped sweeping up leaves, cut the grass even less often, maybe let the park benches and signs go to rack and ruin it would be worth a bit.”

“Not bad. But we are still a bit short thanks to Tesco.”

“Then we are going to have to make the disabled pay for parking outside their houses. Gotta get them to use their legs somehow and every little helps.”

“Right then, that’s that done. How about a quick one down The Charlotte?”

“What if someone sees us going into that dive?”

“That”s easy. We’ll turn off the street lights and no one will see us. If burglaries go up the police will have to pay, same as they did when we left the parks open all night. Clever ain’t we?”


And so it came to pass that Bexley council listed a new set of cuts on its website. You may get to them in a mere 25 clicks by clicking here, or if you like things easy, one click here will do the trick.

 

21 January (Part 3) - On track for their May deadline. Probably

This is just for the railway buffs who have been deprived of interesting Crossrail pictures this year. Councillor Stefano Borella may like them even if some of you don’t.

Network Rail has done a magnificent job of hiding their most interesting views with fencing that Bexley council couldn’t even dream of. First some views from Bostall Manorway and the Eynsham Drive bridge which right now is being equipped with a second anti-electrocution barrier to complement the one on the western side.

Photo 4 shows the vandalism which this part of the world suffers. The orange blob was a convex mirror opposite the still closed disabled access to the footbridge so that wheelchair users might see if they were likely to damage any passing shin bones when exiting their slope.

Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail
Further west the view of the track laying at the tunnel portal is totally frustrated by eight foot fences and a heavy gauge grid with apertures no greater than one inch by two.

Below are crops from photos taken through (of?) the grid. Uniquely so far on B-i-B, these wide images are clickable to show the original view. I really must investigate buying a drone.
Crossrail
The tunnel portal from the footbridge.
Crossrail
Toward the tunnel peeping over the fence.
Crossrail
Track bed work east of the footbridge through the grid. Click any for alternative (wider) view.

The track nearest to the tunnel must be completed by May so that trains may deliver materials for the scheduled tunnel fit out.

Index to past Crossrail blogs. Track diagram (PDF).

 

21 January (Part 2) - Laughing at you; all the way to the bank

The golden goodbyes are flowing thick and fast in Watling Street. It’s not often that confirmation of who has actually taken the money and run becomes available but the names Ellershaw, Bashir, Tottman and Frizoni have all come to notice recently - all on near £100,000 (some over) salaries. Some of their personal pages on the council’s website have gone. And don’t forget Mark Charters who fled last June.

Mike Frizoni’s disappearance was forecast last November but with Bexley trying its damnedest to keep everything quiet it’s not easy to get quick confirmation of any senior staff changes. However not everything can be kept secret for ever.

Today’s Public Announcement on the creeping yellowing of Bexley’s streets (around 30 of them this time, click here to see the list) is signed off by Graham Ward, suggesting that Frizoni has indeed gone, suitably enriched by Bexley’s ever generous council tax payers.

These top level staff cuts are really rather annoying. If the £50 million black hole is forcing Bexley council’s hand now, why didn’t they make those senior staff cuts in 2010 when Bexley faced a £36 million hole? All they did then was raise parking charges and all their other fees, reduce services, cut rank and file staff numbers and freeze their pay. If we can do without a load of top brass now, why not four years ago when the borough was a little bit smaller than it is now?

If you think that bosses always look after themselves until the bitter end, you may perhaps have a point. The next set of accounts should reveal how much richer they are now.

 

21 January (Part 1) - Just ask a busy woman

Tory councillors did nothing effective about the Abbey Wood eyesore for more than five years. Their Labour counterparts secured nothing but empty promises following their election in May 2014.

Meanwhile the land owner went broke, the administrators didn’t want to spend any money and Bexley council happily ignored the bad publicity while making up lame excuses about the weather, the vandals and difficulties of enforcing any legal notice. Who assumed the site owner wouldn’t comply without a court order?

The local MP, Teresa Pearce, was always supportive of her constituents but the practical effects remained at zero, until, I can only assume, she decided she had seen too much inactivity and demanded a meeting with Bexley’s Deputy Director of Public Protection. (Is that a stupid title or what?)

Readers who complain that Bexley council doesn’t reply to emails or answer the phone or if they do, don’t return calls, may be interested to know that being an MP does not improve matters. Eventually Bexley offered Teresa a date for yesterday morning. A day they should have known that a member of the Treasury Select Committee was due to meet the Chancellor at one of their regular meetings. Maybe I have a suspicious mind.

However it was George Osborne who got the apology and David Bryce-Smith who got the unwelcome guest. Constituents come first.

The meeting must have gone reasonably well. From a variety of sources I understand that the Bonkers photos weren’t good enough for Bexley council and a man was sent out at your expense to take their own photographs and that instructions have gone out to clean up the site and get rid of all the trip hazards which surround it.


Harrow Inn Harrow InnAn early morning excursion suggests this must be true. A big skip has appeared in the middle of the site.

Meanwhile another local MP is on the warpath on behalf of his constituents.

James Brokenshire (Old Bexley and Sidcup) has been threatening Southeastern Trains that “their franchise is on borrowed time” if the company doesn’t improve its performance. He's got himself into the News Shopper too. But it’s all hot air. He seems not to know that his government extended the SET franchise to 2018 only a few months ago.


PressSpeaking of the News Shopper. If you get hold of today’s Bexley issue you will see the front page is by Tim McFarlan. It’s a name you won’t see in the News Shopper any more because today is his last day there. He is off to the Daily Mail on line. So good luck to him.

Tim was the only NS reporter who ever bothered to show up at a council meeting since Linda Piper left some years ago. She used to go to them all. As far as I could tell, all other NS reports on Bexley council were regurgitated copies of Bexley’s press releases and you know how honest they are likely to be.

 

20 January (Part 2) - Hiding her face

BaileyAbout half the things you read here are sparked off by reader comment, more than half so far this month, but there is not often much follow up comment. If asked why I offer the opinion that Bonkers mainly preaches to the converted. Dissenting voices almost never come forward.

It wasn’t really dissent, but an email correspondent at the weekend did give me a ‘why did I not think of that?’ moment. He said that to put David Bryce-Smith in front of the cameras last Thursday evening was an act of cowardice by Bexley’s ruling elite. Why wasn’t cabinet member Linda Bailey put forward? And the man was right. Normally when a council gets itself into some sort of trouble it’s its leader or a cabinet member who defends their policy. Poor old Bryce-Smith is merely the well paid lackey who does what he is told.

Shunning responsibility is not a new thing in Bexley. When former leader Ian Clement dipped his hand into the till, his deputy Teresa O’Neill didn’t have a clue about it. Or so she said.

When she was told that a load of obscene nonsense which appeared on line could only have come from a council source, it disappeared within a couple of hours. But she didn’t have a clue who had done it. Or so it was said.

When Nicholas Dowling sent an email about parking charges simultaneously to every councillor, guess who quickly sent out a round-robin to instruct all the Tories to keep schtum.

Teflon Tess always manages to be somewhere else when the spotlight is switched on. It’s an art form too many politicians have developed to perfection.

 

20 January (Part 1) - Crossrail slices through Abbey Wood

Crossrail CrossrailA Network Rail manager told me six weeks ago that there would be no good Crossrail photo opportunities around Abbey Wood station for quite a long time, and he was right. However maybe he sees an opportunity to get in on the act himself as the van parked outside the station on 16th January was from Site-Eye, a company that makes time lapse films of building operations.

Maybe we will be treated to a video of the new station going up but first the old one has to come down and there are lots of signs that that cannot be far away. A quarter of a mile to the east, a new access to the trackside is being prepared but exactly why is not clear. Crossrail never did get back to me when I asked what they were going to do there.

Near the station the reason for the continued activity is much more obvious; the way must be cleared for the North Kent line to be moved southwards.

It looks as though the struggle to stop the end terrace house in Florence Road from falling down continues and in Gayton Road the street lights appear to be destined for the scrap yard.

To the west of the station the new North Kent line route to Plumstead makes steady progress. Compare with a week ago.

Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail

Photos 2 to 6 taken on 19th January 2015. Index to past Crossrail blogs.

 

20 January - This Website

Unless you study such things you probably won’t know that designing a website is not like laying out a book on paper. The text and pictures exist in the form of a list but how they look and are formatted on different viewing devices is down to another set of files entirely. The files controlling B-i-B’s appearance had over the years become a bit of a mess partly because the basics were not ideal for a site that has grown as much as B-i-B.

Over the past weekend all the old files were scrapped and replaced by new ones which should allow more flexibility and simplified so that I may find problems more easily.

As all the old control files have gone it is more than likely that web browsers will not display the site properly. The solution should be hitting the Refresh button which is F5 on Windows machines. My Google Chromebook made a horrendous mess of the layout when it first encountered the new system because it didn’t find the files it was looking for. One click on Refresh fixed it all.

Many of the older pages are not yet completely linked to the new control files. The effect will generally be that text will not wrap around images. In Mobile mode some images on old pages may not not fit neatly on the screen, but then they never did. It may take a few weeks to switch everything over to the new system.

 

19 January (Part 2) - The police are an unchecked law unto themselves

32 months ago Mr. Elwyn Bryant who like me was the target of obscenities launched from councillor Peter Craske’s phone line had a word about it with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe at a public meeting in Sidcup. In Elwyn’s opinion - and events later proved him right - Bexley police were doing their usual thing of bending the law to suit Bexley council and Hogan-Howe invited him to put his concerns in a letter to him.

This was done a couple of weeks later on 7th June 2012 and over the following six months the Metropolitan Police did nothing other than reach for the whitewash brush. When the Independent Police Complaints Commission told them to get on with the job they spent another 18 months doing precisely nothing.

Last week my patience was wearing a little thin and I dashed off a letter to the IPCC summarising the situation.

The IPCC responded very quickly to say it was nothing to do with them even though the reply was from the very same IPCC Case Officer who originally ordered the Metropolitan Police to put away the whitewash pot.

Today I replied as follow…


Dear Ms. Xxxxx,

Thank you for your speedy response.

It is disappointing that the IPCC considers that it has no involvement in the case. The oldest of the three complaints has been around the DPS loop once and it was referred back to them when the IPCC agreed they had made no serious attempt to examine it.

If that is the official position could you please tell me how the Metropolitan Police can ever be compelled to answer a complaint? Both Elwyn Bryant and I are in our eighth decade, I suspect the DPS has a policy of waiting for complainants to die.

My son-in-law Alastair Morgan has encountered similar tactics following the murder of his brother Daniel on 10th March 1987. 28 years later his mother is past 90 and the Met. continues to use delaying tactics despite the involvement of the Home Secretary.

I am grateful for the limited action you have been able to take. viz. Passing the case to your Senior Casework Manager as an example of how the Metropolitan Police simply do not care about corruption within their ranks.

Many thanks,

Malcolm Knight

 

19 January (Part 1) - Flattened and fenced - properly

In the month since the works going on around Lesnes Abbey were last mentioned here the contractor has completed the demolition of the visitor centre and completely cleared the site. The site manager was always happy to explain to passers-by what he was doing and why. A contractor’s man obviously; and not from Bexley council.
11th January 2015
Lesnes
19th January 2015
Lesnes
PathWhile doing some shopping last week, someone who had been misinformed, approached me thinking that I was in some way responsible for the arrangements at Lesnes Abbey.

I listened to a complaint from a young lady who had attempted to take her disabled mother in a motorized wheelchair into the formal abbey gardens and failed miserably to do so.

The temporary path from New Road was too soft and steep - I keep failing in my quest for a picture that reveals just how steep it is - and whilst access via the Abbey Road footbridge and the associated slope allowed entry into the park there was no easy access to the formal gardens. It's steps everywhere and the chair wheels threatened to tip it over when attempting a short cut across the grass.

Bexley council has never been concerned about disabled access to the park since they erected the anti-motorbike barriers five years ago at a cost of £75,000.

 

18 January (Part 3) - Just a slum

Fence Fence The last time the notorious Harrow Inn fence was featured here I felt I was probably wasting my time and yours because Bexley council is beyond shame. However someone who lives very near to the site may be more hopeful.

A councillor told him “the more fuss we make the better”. After more than five years of faffing about that councillor really is an optimist.

The official Bexley council line (email 14th January) is that the problem is caused by “the weather and vandalism”. Can you believe that? In Abbey Wood in winter both are pretty much inevitable. That's why Crossrail, Cross Quarter and English Heritage have all erected proper fences no more than a quarter of a mile away.

The council says it cannot take enforcement action because it would mean going to court. Where does Bexley council get these people from? They’ve been quick enough to go to court over relatively trivial matters in the past. But they lost that personal vendetta so maybe they have become chicken now.

 

18 January (Part 2) - Not slumming it

Abbey Tower Everyone else is at it, the Evening Standard, the News Shopper, the Maggot Sandwich; ridiculing this advertisement, that is. It featured in the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph too, so why not B-i-B?

Out of town readers may not know the flats above Sainsbury’s Cross Quarter store next to the Crossrail station were advertised as including No Social Housing.

Possibly I am alone in thinking, what is wrong with that? Would you expect the agent for a privately developed, no Boris subsidy, block to market it to other than the well heeled? Greenwich’s Labour controlled council granted the planning permission without any stipulation on affordable or social housing. The result was inevitable.


TweetMr. Barnbrook told me only last week of a friend of his friend who lives abroad, buying accommodation near Abbey Wood station purely as an investment. Sell it when the first Crossrail train runs in four years time.

Probably I shouldn’t but I find it rather amusing that some unsuspecting foreigner blind buys a flat in Abbey Tower and finds his view dominated by Coralline Walk the other side of the road. A 150 yard stroll will take him to Wolvercote Road. Plenty of social housing in both places.

But maybe in four years time the Safer Neighbourhoods Team will have worked their magic on both.

 

18 January (Part 1) - Slumming it

David Cameron is a man who has difficulty foreseeing the consequences of his actions.

Five years ago, when Cameron looked like a sure fire election winner, he agreed to pre-election TV debates without fully appreciating British sympathies for underdogs and we finished up with a whipper snapper as deputy prime minister.

Then, despite it not being in his manifesto, Cameron decided to promote same sex marriages without thinking it might upset many within his core vote and with close to zero chance of it attracting any new supporters.

DC also decided that a fixed five year term for his government was a good idea without thinking through that it would cause a four month election campaign instead of three weeks. Can anyone see a reason to vote for a man without any foresight? Shouting “Ed Miliband” doesn’t count.

Anna Firth As a result of the last of these follies we already have politicians banging on our doors. I am going to have a choice between two ladies and a man from Plumstead.

The Conservative candidate was selected for Erith and Thamesmead last Sunday and Anna Firth from Sevenoaks has already been creating photo opportunities wherever she can. It must be hard for her campaigning in Erith and Thamesmead and not just because of the freezing cold.

I would guess that the poshest houses in the E & T constituency might be in Woolwich or Charlton Roads but the rest is for the most part either a concrete jungle or little terraced houses.

It’s not what Anna will be used to. Neither perhaps will she be used to the political dishonesty that is the norm in Bexley. Last time I looked, a quarter of Bexley’s Conservative councillors withheld their personal details from their Register of Interests under Section 32 of the Localism Act. They can do that if they certify they are at exceptional risk of terrorist outrages and the like. More councillors are cowering behind Bexley’s front doors than in the whole of the rest of London put together.

Anna Firth has no such inhibitions. There is no reason to suppose she is anything but an honest woman who just happens to have been selected by the shabby crew that rejected the man who masterminded the remarkably successful Tory campaign in Erith and Thamesmead five years ago. They increased their vote by 50% above their previous best but Amandeep Bhogal is not flavour of the month despite being the only local man who threw his hat into the ring.


Colegates Colegates Colegates ColegatesAnna Firth’s Register of Interests at Sevenoaks District Council reveals that she has an attendance record at meetings that varies between 33% and 100% dependent on the year - currently 77% - and lives in Halstead in a house called Colegates.

Colegates is not the sort of house you will stumble upon in Woolwich Road. It is literally off the beaten track (click Photo 1 to see) and boasts both an indoor swimming pool and a tennis court set in 5·2 acres.

I suspect Ms. Firth plans to sell up and move to downtown Belvedere when she is elected. It would be a good way of escaping Ed. Miliband’s idiotic £2 million pound mansion tax.

 

17 January (Part 2) - Northumberland Heath to be blocked

Bexley Road Mill Road Bexley RoadA quiet Wednesday afternoon in Northumberland Heath saw a small handful of men (well two actually) working on the Bexley Road, Northumberland Heath regeneration scheme.

Bexley Road was fully open and there being no Tesco delivery at the time traffic was flowing remarkably smoothly.

 

17 January (Part 1) - The inevitable result of false economies

It was councillor Gareth Bacon who came up with the silly idea to leave all Bexley’s parks open at night when he was cabinet member for Public Realm. He said that cancelling Ward Security’s contract to patrol and lock parks would save £200,000 a year. The Labour opposition told him that his decision was bound to result in increased vandalism and waste police time but for a man trousering the best part of £100,000 of public money each year, Bacon can be remarkably blinkered and stupid. Some of the parks include children’s playground equipment costing many tens of thousands of pounds.


Vandalism Vandalism VandalismIn recent weeks I’ve received reports of extensive damage to the Lesnes Abbey ruins and of a car driven into Danson Park and set ablaze not far from the historic Danson House.

A BiB reader who walks his dog around Danson Park each day spotted more vandalism this morning. It wasn’t like it yesterday.

It is not part of the lake plumbing as I at first assumed. It's a set of tunnels installed for the amusement of small children who like to crawl through it. Now it is full of broken concrete and sharp edges.

When your child is confronted by barriers around a favourite play area or you find a site of historic importance irretrievably damaged, console yourself with the thought that every Bexley citizen is about seventy pence a year better off than before Gareth Bacon took leave of his senses. Apart from Gareth Bacon himself of course. His councillor allowance was raised by nearly £4,500 this year.

Note: The repair cost £10,500.

 

16 January (Part 2) - How did it go so wrong?

Following a tip off I found BBC Radio London on 94·9 FM yesterday afternoon. They seemed to be having some sort of Bexley Phone In Day as there was a whole host of knowalls who had never been near the court room who knew more about Bexleyheath’s naughty teacher case than the judge with all her experience who had carefully listened to the evidence. I vowed not to tune in to such tripe again.


Bryce-Smith However the real reason for listening turned up at twenty five past five in the shape of David Bryce-Smith (Bexley’s Deputy Director of Public Protection and Housing) who didn’t sound too happy while defending Bexley council’s housing record which includes sending some families to Manchester because local landlords are charging too much rent.

I thought he acquitted himself quite well, he faces a near impossible task.

At 18:40 (another tip off) Mr. Bryce-Smith was on BBC1 News doing the same thing.

He’s probably doing all he can under present circumstances. And that is just it. How did we come to be in such a state that working families can’t afford to live in what Bexley council and others say is the cheapest place for accommodation in the whole of London? Have public authorities no foresight or initiative any more?


Nissen Hut PrefabI once found myself homeless. I was only one year old at the time but Mr. Hitler dropped a big firework on the house where I was born.

We weren’t sent to Manchester, in fact we didn’t move out of town. The local council saw there was an emergency and rapidly built some tin huts. They had a toilet but no bath, unless you count the zinc plated tub.

Recognising that that was a bit primitive even for the 1940s the tin hut was soon replaced by an asbestos box, more commonly known as a Prefab. That was a definite step up, it even had a built-in fridge which almost no one had in 1947.

Since then we have all got far too posh and expect far too much. You can imagine the outcry if Bexley council decided its housing crisis had to be solved and covered the Tesco site in Broadway with tin huts.

Instead we get ‘affordable homes’ (three bedroom terraced) that cost £600,000 to buy outright and which will be a millstone around the neck for life of anyone who might want to buy and has saved the huge deposit. I really can’t understand how 343 houses which received a £23 million subsidy from Boris Johnson (£67,000 each) can still have cost more than half a million pounds each. Someone somewhere has engineered a massive rip off under the noses of a negligent Bexley council.

Everyone who has ever insured a house will (or should) know that the building cost is nothing like as much as an estate agent’s valuation and no builder would charge that much without a visit from a Trading Standards inspector - if we still had any.

But while the sort of economics that leads to Erith Park prices prevails, along with unrealistic expectations by those who do not enjoy the highest of incomes, David Bryce-Smith has one hell of a housing problem on his plate.

Bugger! I am beginning to sound like a socialist.

 

16 January (Part 1) - Probably we’ve bin had

Brown binThe few people in the borough who care about what Bexley council does will know by now that the recycling services are to be degraded later this year.

The collection of garden waste will cease unless householders agree to a charge. More details are gradually becoming available.

The existing brown bins will be universally withdrawn and replaced with a small receptacle for food waste. A new brown bin for garden waste will be issued to those who can afford to pay. It will be a 240 litre bin instead of the existing 140 litres - which sounds like an improvement - but nothing in Bexley actually gets better. The collection frequency will be halved; the council is planning a reduced service at an infinitely increased cost to householders.

As an old Tory myself I can see that this is not entirely bad when a £50 million black hole has to be filled. Why should those with a cultivated garden have to be subsidised by those who prefer a large patio? Is a charge not fair? However such logic leads back to the Community Charge, otherwise known as the Poll Tax. Maybe that was a good idea too.


SavingsPedants will notice that no reference is made to the recently closed consultation and the council debate set for March. That’s because no major proposal will be changed. How could it be when the Director of Finance is drawing up plans for the Council Tax rate right now?

The recycling service will be degraded whatever the consultation reveals.

If, as a council informer told me, the new system is to start early in the new financial year some serious logistics must be going on now. On the other hand I may be being sold a pup. No one in Watling Street should be trusted.


Caddy Replacing all the 140 litre brown bins with little ones for food waste and providing larger ones on request is not a matter of clicking the Buy button at Amazon. If Bexley council places an order with a manufacturer before the council rubber stamps the proposal, a sham consultation will be confirmed

Presumably the relatively small saving anticipated for 2015/16 is to account for the cost of the bins. A 240 litre bin costs nearly £40 retail.

A major factor in Bexley council being high up in the Recycling League Tables has been its free garden waste service. All that extra weight of material getting 100% recycling distorts the figures wonderfully. The projected charge should see that arithmetical quirk come to an end when shrubs and weeds are burned or dumped by the roadside.

 

15 January (Part 2) - The lying councillor Cheryl Bacon

The police officer investigating the allegation of Misconduct in Public Office against councillor Cheryl Bacon and the two senior council officers who supported her false account of the events of 19th June 2013 has said that when he has completed his investigations he will refer the case to police solicitors to get a ruling on two things…


• That the offence of Misconduct in Public Office can be levelled against a councillor.
• That lying in Public Office is a crime that can lead to conviction.


A month ago I put forward the personal view that Cheryl Bacon would not be prosecuted on the grounds that a politician lying cannot be a crime or the jails would be overflowing. An anonymous correspondent has belatedly suggested that I do a little research into my supposition.

The Crown Prosecution Service website revealed that councillors can face charges of Misconduct in Public Office…
CPS

Click image for source web page


SSo that seems to answer the Greenwich police's first question. Cheryl Bacon is answerable to a charge pf Misconduct in Public Office; but is lying a crime?

The suffix in the image above is the clue. R v Speechley (2004).

William James Speechley was a councillor, leader in fact, at Lincolnshire County Council. He pulled a fast one over the realignment of a road which bounded his property and was found guilty and given a prison sentence.

His legal team appealed and one of their three reasons was there was no case to answer. viz. Lying isn't a crime. The appeal judges ruled as follows…

Appeal
The Appeal was thrown out.

So there it is enshrined in law courtesy of three Appeal Judges at the Royal Courts of Justice in November 2004. A councillor who lies can be found guilty of Misconduct in Public Office, and no one at Bexley council has lied more than councillor Cheryl Bacon.

Perhaps the former deputy leader of Bexley council, Colin Campbell should have been accused as well. He went on TV and quite literally did not once say something that was truthful. As he wasn’t at the meeting in question one can only assume that someone fed him all those lies.

Something similar happened in the Speechley case too…
Appeal
Finally I must apologise for some lax wording in the report on this case dated 9th January. It said that all the councillor witnesses had become reluctant to attend their interviews at Plumstead police station. I now understand that only two have so far been invited. The blog has been suitably modified.

 

15 January (Part 1) - BiB comes to police attention again

PoliceIf I judged the mood correctly I think most people came away from the police meeting in Thamesmead’s Baptist Church in a somewhat sceptical mood. Good intentions were everywhere but police commander Peter Ayling was pessimistic about his ability to maintain the extra patrols into the next financial year following the fatal stabbing in Wolvercote Road.

In the meantime the police’s Safer Neighbourhoods Team has been helping out with community activities from football to food banks as well as collaring a good number of drug takers. Maybe they’ve always done that sort of thing but thanks to PC Chris Molnar and his Twitter addiction (@MPSThamesmead) anyone can now log in to what he and his colleagues have been doing to improve Thamesmead.

Over the last few days PC Molnar has been dropping big hints that the Safer Neighbourhood Team was to be enlarged and that the Greenwich/Bexley borough boundary would no longer be regarded as a barrier. That was an idea that got short shrift at the November meeting, someone must have torn up the rule book.

Yesterday the police went officially public with the news. The last paragraph was unexpected.

 

14 January - Who’s going to tell her?

ParliamentThe newly adopted Prospective Conservative Candidate for Erith and Thamesmead is already trying to convince us that she is an Erith girl born and bred but doesn’t seem to have done her homework as well as she should.

If she had she might have discovered that the bunch of reprobates she calls her team wanted to sell the Erith Riverside she says is “stunning”. I suspect she has never been there before.

Quotation above is from Hansard. Teresa Pearce MP (Labour) raises issue of the sale of Erith Riverside in the House of Commons.

Tweet
In 2010 the Conservative vote in E & T was more than 50% better than any election since 1997. The Labour vote was remarkably steady over that time. If Ms. Firth manages to do as well as her predecessor Colin Bloom and additionally decimates the Labour vote she will still lose by a good margin. Is setting decimation as a target an early admission of defeat? Perhaps a better team would be advisable. Nobody needs a team with Philip Read in it.

 

13 January - Je suis Charlie

HypocritesYou will probably recognise the picture from the front page of yesterday’s newspapers. If you don’t, clicking for the larger version may help. It's our Prime Minister and many of his counterparts from around the world supposedly marching in front of two million or so French citizens demonstrating their right to free speech following the appalling massacres in their city. Except they weren’t marching with those two million, they were posing in a side street for the benefit of the cameras. For security reasons it probably made good sense.

But what a bunch of hypocrites! With only a couple of exceptions the countries represented would lock up anyone who published something like Charlie Hebdo. In Saudi Arabia they give bloggers 1,000 lashes, in Iran they hang them, in Britain they imprison them and in Bexley they threaten arrest. In one infamous case false charges were brought against a Bexley blogger.


TweetI was even taken aside by a senior Bexley detective in the presence of my MP and given a warning about referring to the leader of Bexley council as The Fat Controller (from the Thomas the Tank Engine books).

In Scotland the police announced that they monitor Twitter for anyone who might cause offence. Have they really got so little to do?

David Cameron is one big hypocrite and he is far from being alone.


TweetIronically James Cleverly is in Braintree as I write to see if they will have him as their Parliamentary Candidate for May 2015. He’s another champion of free speech. He told Elwyn Bryant some years ago that Bexley is Bonkers was “well out of order”. I hope he got the job, it would be good to see the back of him as Bexley and Bromley’s London Assembly Member.

P.S. It would appear that Braintree was suitably suckered.

 

12 January (Part 3) - E & T Tories go forth with Firth

TweetWhen I last looked in on the Erith and Thamesmead Conservative Association, metaphorically that is, they were squabbling over who should be their candidate for the General Election.

The candidates favoured by the Greenwich contingent were being squeezed out by the Bexley crew who think they own the place, and in a sense they do. Bexley councillors and their wives have taken all the top committee jobs.

After failing to decide which of them is least likely to lose in May they resolved to give hostilities a rest until the new year.

Yesterday the waiting was over as it was announced that a councillor from Sevenoaks had drawn the short straw.


TweetA bit of research reveals that Anna Firth is the reject from the Rochester and Strood Primary where she came second to Kelly Tolhurst who went on to be soundly beaten by UKIP’s Mark Reckless in last November’s Parliamentary by-election.

So Erith and Thamesmead is to get Rochester’s cast off. It could be worse, a Bexley councillor could be contesting the seat.

When I went to the UKIP Erith and Thamesmead selection meeting as an observer, they faced a similar dilemma to the E & T Conservatives. viz. a Kent county councillor from Tunbridge Wells and a less experienced local man. UKIP selected Ronie Johnson from Plumstead.

Last month the Tories sidelined Amandeep Bhogal who lives in the constituency which left, as far as I can tell - they don’t talk to me - only one other almost local man; former Greenwich councillor Alex Wilson. Of the two they preferred the barrister from the shires.

Whether the voters from Thamesmead or even the posher areas of Erith will agree with their choice is another matter but obviously Ms. Firth hasn’t a clue about this part of the world. It’s a long time since I was a member of the local Conservative Association but I don’t think that expensive looking front door is in either Thamesmead or Erith. I have a suspicion it’s in Bexleyheath. Maybe the selection committee found an ability to fib at every level an added attraction.

The May election campaign looks set to provide plenty of excitement if you are into that sort of thing but when one remembers that the only two people likely to become Prime Minister are David Cameron and Ed Miliband it is a deeply depressing prospect. One dreadful and the other slightly worse.

 

12 January (Part 2) - UKIP Bexley squares up for a fight

Tweet PlaquePerhaps Bexley council has hit upon a novel way of solving the lack of affordable housing in the borough.

Exporting it to Manchester would appear to be a a particularly cruel solution. Does the breaking of all local connections, interrupting children’s schooling etc. always have to be subservient to the Bexley Conservatives’ god, Mammon.

If those deported feel homesick they can always go and sit in Salford’s Bexley Square.

 

12 January (Part 1) - Affordable? Really?

It is only two years since Bexley’s planning committee approved the demolition of Erith’s notorious Larner Read tower blocks and replacement with houses and flats no more than three storeys high. Former councillor Munir Malik (Labour) was concerned about the provision of ‘affordable homes’ and failed to get a straight answer. Last week we got one.

Mayor Boris Johnson proudly dropped in on what we now have to call Erith Park and said “if you think about it the value is incredible. We are half an hour from London Bridge”.

MayorHaving given the subject some thought as Boris requested - and ignoring the fact that you would be hard pressed to get to London Bridge from Erith Park in fewer than 45 minutes - I find myself unimpressed. Worse than that I think that Boris Johnson has proved himself just as far out of touch with ordinary people as his Etonian friend Cameron is.

When I moved to Bexley 28 years ago I bought a new detached house for £69,000. I paid a thousand over the odds because it was on the largest plot of land on the development.

£69,000 was less than two years salary. If I was doing the same job today it might perhaps attract an £80,000 salary though not in my case. The reason I opted for redundancy in the 1990s was because my employer wanted to move me to Yorkshire and significantly reduce my pay - but that’s another story.

But assuming I was on that high salary what would it buy for less than twice my annual income at Erith Park? Err… nothing.

OK, what if I stretched myself to three times an £80,000 income? The sales office might be interested. What could they offer?

A 40% share in a three bedroomed terraced house. And that's supposed to be affordable?

Whereas I was able to buy 100% of a three bedroom detached house for noticeably under twice my salary, 28 years later, if my income had doubled, I would get 40% of a terraced house for three times my salary and have to pay rent on the other 60%!

I know that Boris Johnson is renowned for his sense of humour, but that is simply not funny is it?
Houses

 

11 January (Part 2) - All change on the Greenwich line

CrossrailFor train spotters it has been a barren time. No major developments to report.

The first two of the photographs below are of Crossrail Sites 13 and 14 behind Fendyke Road where the overhead electric line is due to end. The track will extend for another train length towards Belvedere. Presumably Network Rail is preparing the ground for access by heavy vehicles. Something Bexley council might take lessons from.

The hole in the ground is adjacent to the Harrow Manorway flyover and it is Gayton Road which now has the very narrow footpath. And for good measure photos of the new track bed area and the station awaiting demolition are included.

The photo above does not indicate that the Abbey Wood station lifts had failed again, a lady had run out of puff half way up the stairs and the lift attendant came to her aid.

The weekend has seen a very strange train service through Bexley borough on the North Kent line. Friday saw the very last Charing Cross service via Greenwich. The new London Bridge station will compel all Greenwich line trains to go to Cannon Street. Over this weekend all Cannon Street services have been sent to Blackfriars and what would have been Charing Cross trains went to Victoria. Given the chaos seen at London Bridge all last week it would seem that happy travellers will be thin on the ground for the next three years.

Many more train service details may as usual be found over at Fromthemurkydepths.

Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail

Abbey Wood will continue to have a Charing Cross via Lewisham service but it will not serve London Bridge.
Index to past Crossrail blogs.

 

11 January (Part 1) - Vote green

Fence Rubbish RubbishBexley council is still telling residents who complain about it that the eyesore at the foot of Knee Hill in Abbey Wood is “tidy”. The Labour councillors are proving to be as ineffectual as their Conservative predecessors all of which suggests that the state of the site of the former Harrow Inn is in tune with Bexley council’s official policy for Abbey Wood and no local councillor can intercede.

They clearly do not want to use Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act. There must be some reason why Bexley council has ignored the situation for five years.

A year ago the News Shopper gave space to the story but as all BiB readers will know, you can’t shame Bexley council into action, they will always do what suits themselves - Conservative councillors that is.

Fence

 

10 January - More disruption planned for traders and drivers

Northumberland HeathThe people and traders of Belvedere did the right thing, they objected to Bexley council’s plans to spoil their little village, but Bexleyheath, Welling and Sidcup have all suffered the long term disruption that regeneration brings with it.

The next shopping area picked out for the block and granite seat treatment is Northumberland Heath. I passed by on a bus last Thursday lunchtime, very slowly because the Tesco Express was taking a delivery and there is nowhere other than the narrow road for a lorry to park. The traffic jam extended across the Brook Street roundabout towards Barnehurst. Mill Road and its car park was open but very difficult to get to. From next Monday things can only get worse.

The Mill Road junction with Bexley Road will be closed.

Fortunately Bexley is not spending much money on Northumberland Heath, the disruption should be all over in six weeks.

When the plans were first announced they were not universally welcomed.

 

9 January - Bexley council still hoping to suppress the truth

Cheryl BaconThe latest news about the police investigation into councillor Cheryl Bacon, her lies and the conspiracy orchestrated within Bexley council to support them, is that there is not a lot of new news.

However what news there is serves to confirm the culture of dishonesty and internal back stabbing for which leader Teresa O’Neill’s administration is renowned.

After Greenwich police had interviewed the four complainants and Nicholas Dowling who took an old Dictaphone into the council chamber their next step was to call in councillors who witnessed the events and four council officials who didn’t; but made up stories instead.

The Legal Department boss responded with a bundle of papers which were mainly not new to the police investigating officer. As he agreed, Bexley council was not likely to put their hands up, continuing with their accusations of ‘a riot’ was always on the cards.

No one will be surprised that senior Bexley council staff continue to lie, it is after all what they do for a living. That they do not want to be interviewed was equally predictable.

More surprising is that two councillors who provided fulsome written rebuttals of Cheryl Bacon’s lies who were invited to interview are also reluctant. “It could prove to be very awkward for us.” That's understandable, the only councillor who dissented from the Tory party line in the past four years is no longer a councillor.

My interpretation is that leader Teresa O’Neill will not allow her councillors to pass their recollection of events to the police, which is tantamount to an admission that she too knows that Cheryl Bacon is a liar. If she believed otherwise surely she would encourage her witnesses to take up the police’s invitation?


Will TuckleyPossibly councillor coyness doesn’t matter a great deal. Four have already made it absolutely clear in writing that there was no disturbance on that fateful evening and when asked, another five refused to support Cheryl Bacon.

I am absolutely convinced that the investigating officers know from the evidence they have already seen, that Cheryl Bacon’s account was in every significant respect, a lie from beginning to end. As I said to one of the police officers, “if you ever get Cheryl Bacon to sit in that chair, you as an experienced officer, will instantly know who the liar is”. I won’t repeat what he said.

I do not know what the police will do now that both Labour and Conservative councillors appear to be playing hard to get, however I am pretty certain that if the case gets to the stage when it is ready for submission to the Crown Prosecution Service, there will be political interference from on high. Just as there was in the Craske case.

The maximum penalty for Misconduct in Public Office is life imprisonment. A guilty verdict on Will Tuckley would be thoroughly deserved but government routinely covers up far bigger scandals so it is not very likely.

 

8 January (Part 3) - Bexley Blockheads

The road blocks in Arnberg Way which were repaired after fewer than 12 months use have succumbed again to the onslaught of bus wheels leaving the very busy Clocktower bus stops. The fourth picture is of part of the Asda roundabout. That looks like having a shorter than planned life too. The ‘regeneration’ cost £3·5 million.

Broken blocks Broken blocks Broken blocks Broken blocks

Bexley council said that the repairs carried out last August after photos of the failed blocks were published here would be done at no cost to the public purse. My guess is that excavating a few blocks to replace them merely causes weaknesses in the adjacent area, but I am not a civil engineer. If Bexley’s Deputy Director of Environment is, then he is a very poor one.

 

8 January (Part 2) - Questionable Bexley police practice

The lady who was arrested as she came through customs at Heathrow because Bexley police thought that was a proportionate response to a charge of common assault has not been allowed to have a copy of the written statement she made last June. Why she wants it I have no idea, however I took the opportunity to ask Greenwich police while I was at Plumstead police station yesterday what they would do if someone asked for a copy of their own statement.

The answer was basically “let them have it of course”. When pushed further they said that a statement should be a copy of the thoughts and recollections of the author and that logically there could be no reason for the owner of those thoughts not to have a written copy.

Always suspicious of police motives I suggested “so the only reason you can see for withholding a copy would be it had somehow been doctored, for example if a police officer deliberately wrote down something extra or incorrect and the ‘author’ was coerced into signing it, or was simply careless”. The answer once again was “yes”.

But Bexley police seems to operate on a different logical level; they are reluctant (I have a copy of the correspondence) to provide a copy. Perhaps they are just exceptionally tardy but one begins to wonder if once again they have something to hide.

Playing Devil’s Advocate, one reason for belatedly requesting a copy of a statement would be if the author had lied on it but can no longer remember what the lie is.

 

8 January (Part 1) - Bexley bombshell

You’ve probably already heard, but Bexleyheath is swapping this…
Tesco
…for this…
Civic Centre
That’s going to leave Bexleyheath semi-permanently short of parking space, the council short of a large income stream and potentially, the unemployment figures 400 people worse. Better news is that there will no longer be any need to close Highland Road which threatened to turn Gravel Hill, Arnsberg Way, Broadway and Albion Road into a half a mile diameter roundabout.


WaitroseTesco said as recently as the beginning of last month that the future of the Bexleyheath store was secure, but the demolition will at least save them the Business Rate, they are not entirely daft. Will Teresa O’Neill be starting a ‘We Want Tesco’ petition like she did for Waitrose in Sidcup?

Despite the loss, shopaholics should not despair, Sainsbury’s are close to opening in Brampton Road and their large Abbey Wood store is only about six months away.

 

7 January (Part 2) - Read a NEET deception

Press ReleaseCabinet member Philip Read has been Tweeting of his success in getting the young unemployed (NEETS - Not in Employment, Education or Training) into education or work and if Bexley’s figures have improved it can only be a good thing. It being a Read Tweet, it takes a lying swipe at the Labour opposition, saying it is bad news for them. The man is a buffoon.

Today Bexley council has issued a Press Release to celebrate the achievement. It reveals that the report is based on last year’s figures so whoever it was who made the breakthrough it wasn’t Philip Read.


TweetRead appears to be having some trouble persuading his Twitter followers that he and his Children’s Services department are doing a good job.

It is possible that the Tweet is referring to the Social Worker (two according to one report) who was sacked by Bexley council following their damning OFSTED report and found to be unfairly dismissed by an Employment Tribunal.

Almost needless to say, no senior staff were admonished.

The number of reports of ‘stolen’ children in Bexley is on the rise.

 

7 January (Part 1) - Penny wise pound foolish

TweetWhen Bexley council announced it was going to save £200,000 a year by not locking parks at night and cancelled its contract with Ward Security, a Labour councillor, Stefano Borella if I remember correctly, stood up in the council chamber to say that all that would happen is that incidences of criminal damage would rise and the budgetary impact would be transferred to the police.

It was perhaps a statement of the bloomin’ obvious but Bexley council is not exactly famed for logical thought.

Inevitably the Labour councillor was right. In Danson Park the police are worried about the keying of parked cars and another police officer has told me that damage to public spaces is running at tens of thousands of pounds. He asked me not to reveal where. Presumably he will have his reasons.

The short sighted decision was taken by councillor Gareth Bacon, since promoted to be deputy leader of Bexley council.

 

5 January - Scraping the Bexley barrel

Oh, whoopee, only another three weeks before Bexley cabinet gets back to work. Meanwhile what stories are circulating? Not a lot.

Police feet dragging
It doesn’t really compare with waiting 31 months for a meaningful reply from the police and no sign of an end to it, but the lady who was arrested at Heathrow Airport on an assault charge trumped up by Bexley police has been trying to get hold of a copy of her statement dated 6th June 2014. She is still being ignored.

I am unsure of the rules relating to statements. I am due to be at Plumstead Police Station on Wednesday to sign the transcript of the recording of my interview two months ago. I am not expecting to take a copy, I know what I said and if the transcript looks like what I remember saying that will be good enough for me, but maybe I will ask what the law says about it.

Streetlife
StreetlifeI only look at Streetlife when the flow of Bexley council related news dries up. It was from there that I discovered that the butcher’s shop on Broadway closed just before Christmas. There were initially comments to the effect that Bexley council were in some way behind its demise but if they were it was probably only indirectly.

The new road layout will not have helped, neither the additional parking restrictions, but butcher’s shops are in trouble everywhere. The massive Asda store opposite cannot have done the Meat Market any good.

There are no butcher’s shops left in Bexleyheath.


Meat Market Meat Market Meat MarketI may not be the best judge of such things as I avoid them as much as possible but Bexleyheath seems to be overloaded with supermarkets. Two branches of Asda, an Iceland, a Sainsburys, M&S Food Hall, a Lidl coming soon and a huge Tesco - if it doesn’t get cancelled.

British Meat Markets had been in Bexley for 28 years, the same as I have. Maybe that’s long enough for anyone.


Children’s Services
References to Bexley council’s Sheila Murphy recruiting social workers in the Emerald Isle brought forth a comment from someone with first hand experience of their services. It would appear that my assumption that the Irish social workers may have more sense than ours is ill founded.

Just an extract from a recent email…


The Irish system’s only advantage is that they do not fast track children for adoption. However, long-term fostering can be worse for a child as they are psychologically traumatised every time they are moved between foster carers as happened with my baby son at just one year old.

In our experience, we certainly didn't find the system to be any less corrupt in Ireland. Irish social workers were happy to believe the lies they were fed from the UK. In fact, they built on those lies and presented them in court, hence committing perjury.

Like many UK cases, our evidence was often ignored in court. My deaf wife was unable to hear proceedings and she suffered numerous incidences of disability discrimination. After our son was stolen, the social worker visited once and then didn't visit again for two years. When we realised that legal aid will not challenge the corrupt orthodoxy, we got a McKenzie friend organisation involved. They were not allowed in court.

The McKenzie friend recommended a solicitor who believed in our case and it's only since the appointment of him and his barrister that things have moved forward. Although the social workers are still involved, our son is being returned to us and now they can't do enough to help. However, it's taken two and a half years to get there.

Irish social workers are trained in a similar mindset to their UK counterparts. Truth means nothing in child 'protection. In our case, a web of lies and gossip was spun by one social worker in the UK.

Like a bad case of Chinese whispers, each hand a report passes through tends to get more negativity added. Parents are considered guilty until they prove themselves innocent. The word of social workers however unevidenced or unqualified, is taken as truth by courts.


Cabinet member Philip Read is still busy Tweeting, this time claiming that Bexley is top dog when it comes to getting young adults into employment, however he says this will be a problem for the Labour opposition. Maybe he should remember that not everyone is as mean minded and spiteful as he is. If it is true that Bexley is doing well in one respect, no one will be unhappy about it.

Taking the Metal Mickey
Lesnes AbbeyEveryone must know by now that Bexley council doesn’t consider itself constrained by the law of the land; whether it be blocking bridleways without the necessary permission of the Secretary of State, closing public meetings or refusing FOIs because knowing the truth might adversely affect debate, they don’t much care.

When Bexley does have the law on its side, such as with fly tipping, it is not slow to refer to the relevant Act on the relevant signs, so one must wonder if it has just made up the No Metal Detecting rule on a whim.

If Bexley council was serious about protecting their monument they would have done more to protect it. People trample all over the stonework all day and at night it is a teenager’s playground. Bexley council were so concerned about it they cancelled the Ward Security contract.

For the record in all my 28 years wandering around Lesnes Abbey park and woods I have never seen anyone with a metal detector. Scraping around for sharks’ teeth yes, but treasure trove, never.


A postscript…
Detecting lawA helpful reader has referred me to a website that provides information about metal detecting. Maybe the notice in Lesnes Abbey park would look less amateurish if it referred to the appropriate law.

A reader with official links to the abbey ruins has reported that damage running to thousands of pounds has been caused recently.


The Harrow Inn site
Fence FenceThe Abbey Wood eyesore continues into its sixth year with no sign of any improvement following intervention by Lesnes Abbey ward councillors and their Conservative predecessors.

What passes for a fence is slowly falling down again and Bexley council never has seen fit to repair the gaping hole in the footpath just behind the road sign. Imagine that existing for years elsewhere in the borough, and the Tories claim not to be south-centric.

Pictures taken three weeks apart.


This website
I noticed rather belatedly that the old ‘Photo gallery’ pages which fell into disuse about two years ago when it was replaced by the ‘Click to enlarge’ facility on images, were incompatible with changes introduced to the banner display code. This was fixed over the weekend and at the same time were made Mobile mode compatible.

Progressive changes to default image sizes is making things very complicated. Perhaps Wordpress bloggers have the right idea.

 

3 January - Four useful coppers

PoliceAllowing local Neighbourhood Policing Teams to witter away on Twitter must be a good thing as even I have been won over, up to a point anyway. My enthusiasm for it might be total except that it’s hard to forget that eighteen months ago PCs Shaun Kelly and Peter Arthurs seemed to be a couple of really nice blokes but a year later, under duress presumably, reported that I along with several other Bexley residents had been making a nuisance of ourselves in the council chamber and refused a request to leave. This was a total fabrication so I will always maintain that only a fool would completely trust a policeman, the pressure that can be exerted by senior officers who have scant regard for the truth or the law must be irresistible.

But left to their own devices on their own patch my local bobbies show every sign of doing a thoroughly good job and deserve residents’ support.

The cul-de-sac where I live is usually nice and quiet with neighbours living amicably together but recently there has been a problem - not that I have been directly affected but for others the effects have been very serious. Just before Christmas I told PC Chris Molnar about it, initially via @MPSThamesmead and later by email. He promised he would take suitable steps.


TweetThis afternoon and evening Chris and at least three of his colleagues have knocked on every door to get to know the occupants. Those most affected by the recent problem have been able to tell their story. Everyone was given a copy of the new Policing Team leaflet which is crammed with news and tips on keeping safe. A good day’s work by Thamesmead SNT.

The last time I had a police officer in my house, it must be around 20 years ago, I was threatened with arrest for Breach of the Peace for asking him to leave. Not sure how you can cause a Breach of the Peace inside your own sitting room.

 

2 January (Part 3) - Commissioner Hogan-Howe. One utterly useless copper

On 7th June 2012 Elwyn Bryant and I made a complaint to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe about Bexley police deliberately ignoring evidence that was pointing towards councillor Peter Craske being intimately involved with the publication of an obscene blog about the two of us and two other Bexley residents. The blog had been traced to his telephone line several months earlier.

You may be interested in the progress Hogan-Howe has made in the intervening 31 months.
Police

 

2 January (Part 2) - Underhand and underlined

Parking ParkingI didn’t get a response from the driver unfairly ticketed on 16th December, putting the registration number on the blog was always going to be a long shot.

However I did get a message from someone who suffered the same fate a few days earlier. I am told that Ben Stephens, Parking Manager, Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley, Kent, BR1 3UH is not living up to his promise to the Places Scrutiny Committee to always look sympathetically at genuine claims of wrongful penalties. Did anyone think a parking manager would be a man of his word?

To save Ben Stevens getting out of his ivory tower, here’s a reminder of what he is apparently content to see in Abbey Road, Belvedere.

There is a tiny half obscured reminder to park within a marked bay and the marked bay appears to be in excess of 100 yards long. However hidden under the already parked cars - residents can park anywhere - is a divider between the residents only and the mixed paid and residents’ bays. Are drivers expected to crawl in the gutter on hands and knees to find it?

The restricted bays are effectively invisible, but that suits a dishonest council very well and Bexley has a council second to none for dishonesty.

 

2 January (Part 1) - Once a liar always a liar

TweetCouncillor Stefano Borella has suggested that the Northumberland Nincompoop should take time to read what OFSTED thinks about the services he provides for the borough’s children. However as Philip Read prefers to spend his time Twittering inanities I’ll make things easy for him. Here’s a summary of OFSTED’s 38 page report…


• The Local Safeguarding Children’s Board has not effectively undertaken its primary role
• The LCSB has a draft improvement plan but it has not had any impact
• There is little evidence that the learning from the first audit was effectively used
• Leadership, management and governance all require improvement
• Progress since 2012 when Bexley was judged inadequate has been very slow
• Management is inconsistent and a small number of children have been left at potential risk
• The quality of decision making by managers needs to improve
• Managers in care services do not always audit the work done by social workers
• Managers do not consistently record how long assessments should take and cannot identify any undue delay
• The quality of decision making is inconsistent and not always made at an appropriate level
• Serious incidents failed to result in any serious case reviews
• The sexual exploitation plan has been slow to be put into practice
• Parents, carers and organisations said they did not get a good service from Bexley
• When children leave care, plans to help them find employment are not good enough
• 37% of care leavers were not in suitable education, training or employment
• Inspectors said that Bexley’s many services are not working well together
• Services to children who need help require improvement
• Children’s ‘looked after’ services require improvement
• Adoption services require improvement
• Plans made with partner organisations need to be better
• Sometimes help is not provided where abuse is not found but families still need support
• The views of young people are not always sought
• Electronic case records are frequently incomplete
• Care proceedings take 37 weeks when the national target is 26 weeks
• Children were unhappy about the frequent change of social worker


What sort of idiot thought that the Twitter chump Philip Read was just the man to put that lot right? (Clue: Boris Johnson says she is the local politician he admires most.)
Mayor's letter
After the OFSTED report was published Will Tuckley told the News Shopper that all was well. You may think he was stretching a point somewhat but he stopped short of blatant lying. His Director of Children’s Services, Mark Charters, who did a runner to the Isle of Man at the same time has no such scruples.

Charter’s LinkedIn entry says that under his stewardship children’s services in Bexley ascended to the undreamed of heights of being ‘Adequate’.
LinkedIn
Click image for source web page.

Lying must be in the DNA of Bexley council - all the top brass do it. Some are under investigation by the police for doing it. Will they never learn?

For the record here’s what OFSTED actually said. Nothing is rated as high as ‘Adequate’.

OFSTED

Click or scroll for more.

 

1 January (Part 5) - Joker of the year so far

“He is at it again” was the gist of several messages. Apparently the village idiot who ignores blogs couldn’t resist taking another look at B-i-B and resorting to Twitter again…


The sad, self important blogger doesn't realise he is figure of fun & in last 2 weeks has danced to my tune! That's def my last word on him! Lol


If exposing Philip Read's lamentable department for what it is, worst in London; comparing him unfavourably with Peter Craske who most readers associate with obscene blogging; reminding readers that it’s Read who hides behind closed doors - literally - and not the bloggers he accuses; and that the man will even stoop to presenting cock and bull stories to the police in an attempt to get bloggers locked up is dancing to his tune, then I plead guilty of dancing to his tune.

One reader has asked me to pass on his thanks to the Northumberland Numbskull for providing him with the best chuckle since he pulled his Christmas cracker.

 

1 January (Part 4) - Cheers!

Philip ReadBexley council thinks you drink too much - click for Bexley Times report - and Google images has come up with a self absorbent [sic] idiot to emphasise the point!

We already know that Bexley council believes you smoke too much and Teresa O’Neill thinks you eat too much because she chairs the committee that is supposed to tackle the obesity problem.

Getting you to cut down on drinking is a new campaign headed up by cabinet member Alex Sawyer. I have no doubt that he favours a dry Bexley because it is he who is pushing for the closure of the Belvedere Splash Park; on the other hand it doesn’t sit well with promoting cocktails under the name Bexley Breeze Block or the council’s enthusiasm for Bexley Beers, excellent though they are reputed to be.

I suspect the drive towards a teetotal Bexley is another case of do as I say, not as I do.


No matter which time of day I go to The Portrait in Sidcup, councillor Gareth Bacon is always there with a pint in his hand. Weekday or weekend. Evening or middle of the afternoon he is there. Today he was enjoying an expletive laden conversation with a few others propping up the bar.


At least Bacon is spending his near £100k of taxpayers’ money in the borough. Credit where it’s due but when does he take time off from boozing to use his free six zone Oyster card?

 

1 January (Part 3) - Self absorbed idiot

Philip ReadI’m trying to imagine what one of those would be like, I don’t think I know any self absorbed idiots, at least not outside Bexley council and even there there is no very obvious candidate for both epithets. It is however what cabinet member Philip Read called me on Twitter this morning.


“So he thought I didn't know the hashtag #SadLabour meant he could see my tweet? Lol. What a self absorbed idiot! Oh well, back to ignoring him.”


Councillor Philip Read presumably doesn’t like my recent references to him, which is very good news indeed because one reason for continuing with Bexley is Bonkers is because all the feedback indicates it annoys the hell out of Read and his ilk. Most deny reading B-i-B, well they would say that wouldn’t they?

Read’s grasp of psychology is evidently very poor and he must have learned nothing from his red faced friend Peter Craske. Craske has learned to keep his head down since having his collar felt as have all the other professional fibbers who thought they could stifle criticism and comment by calling in favours from their obedient military wing. I doubt they will be trying that again.

If you are an anti-democrat by nature it makes more sense to follow the lead given by the top dogs. Cut meetings, ignore petitions, declare consultations invalid due to low response levels, refuse FOIs, declare critics vexatious, lie whenever possible and if all else fails, get someone else to do the dirty work. It makes reporting their antics ever more difficult but the nature of the evil beast gradually becomes more apparent.

Maybe the self absorbed idiot has been given appropriate instructions because Read subsequently deleted his Tweet. He would be better employed sorting out the squabbles in the Erith & Thamesmead branch of the Conservative party of which Read is deputy chairman. He will have to work very hard to get me to vote for my old party again.

 

1 January (Part 2) - Technical Topics. Technophobes keep out!

When this website was launched in September 2009 not much thought was given to its potential for massive growth but if it had been some of the coding fundamentals may have been different.

Over the years most of the old methods have been changed and refined but the introduction of the Mobile mode exactly 18 months ago was a complexity too far in some respects. You may not have noticed because a few quick fixes were introduced to mask but not eradicate the problems. Even so, some images didn’t always align with each other perfectly. As from today an attempt is being made to put things right while maintaining total compatibility with older parts of the website. In general new images will be a few pixels larger than before and the border sizes will be consistent when switching between viewing modes.

Because of the way web browsers cache (remember) old instructions it is possible that not everything will immediately work correctly. If an image looks wrong (stretched probably) and doesn’t respond to to a browser refresh (F5 on Windows) and is still like it next time you visit, I would appreciate being told about it.

Another thing that is changed is the RSS feed which had accumulated a whole year of old data. Today it has been given a clean start. All RSS readers should pick up the new announcements but whether they remember older data will be dependent on the browser or reader in use.

I may decide to abandon Internet Explorer 6 support, surely no one uses that any more? On the other hand IE6 support is not difficult. Switching from HTML 4 to HTML 5 may be more sensible in which case IE 6 support will definitely go.

I know from the statistics reports that about 35% of readers are using the Safari browser on Apple devices. I have no intention of ever acquiring one and Apple have abandoned their attempt to get Safari to run on Windows so I can only test on a very old version of the Safari browser. If Safari becomes in any way non-compliant with the standards I have no way of adapting Bonkers to it.

 

1 January (Part 1) - Bexley council: We don’t do honesty

One of Bexley council’s bright ideas for raising money is to sell off the small parcels of land it owns around the borough. It doesn’t seem particularly contentious, it’s not going to reduce library services for half the population or deprive children of a playground.

Last October cabinet member Linda Bailey published on the council’s website a list of proposed sites for sale but it was very quickly withdrawn from view. Any example of Bexley’s lack of transparency should set the alarm bells ringing.


TweetAccording to Blackfen Past and Present - and councillor Daniel Francis has been Tweeting the same message - Bexley council is planning to sell off 27 of its 106 public parks too. This would be cabinet member Alex Sawyer’s preserve. He won’t talk about it either.

Selling parks is a whole different kettle of pond life from disposing of a few oddments of redundant (in some cases) land.

In keeping with the tradition of secrecy that pervades this rotten borough Bexley council has refused FOI requests about their plans which must surely be further proof that some sort of underhand skullduggery is in progress.

The reason given is “it would inhibit free and frank discussions” but that is not a legal exemption under the Act that the Information Commissioner has troubled to put on his website.

Secretly planning to close or sell parks bears all the hallmarks of our dishonest council. How can the council run a genuine consultation on the financial future of the borough if the public has no idea what it is ‘voting’ for? Oh silly me, there is no such thing as a genuine consultation in Bexley is there? Once in a while you may see some tinkering at the edges - I can only think of one such instance - but ignoring public comment totally is the usual result.

Bexley not wanting you to know anything seems like a good reason to republish what has been discovered, but there are no parks listed below I’m afraid. (Scroll or click.)

Leaflet

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