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Bonkers Blog August 2016

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30 August - It’s bin tax time again

BinsCan it really be a year since the streets of Bexley were strewn with unwanted garden waste bins while frantic residents had nowhere to put their food waste? Not really, because the problem has not really gone away. You don’t have to look far to find uncollected old style bins and broken food containers.

Bexley Council is gearing up to sting you for thirty odd quid again, £31·50 if you opt to pay by Direct Debit and if I have read their Press Release correctly.

I think its main message is that existing subscribers should sit back and do nothing until the Council contacts them.

Will their IT system be up to the job this year? The Press Release says that most people have a renewal date of 5th October and the reminder will be issued six weeks beforehand - which means they should have had it last week. So where is mine?

Bins

 

29 August (Part 2) - Old Farm Park won’t lie down and fade away

CraskeBexley Council may have decided to ignore 3,000 signatures and 1,300 objections and sell Old Farm Park but those objectors have not simply rolled over and given up as Bexley Council may have hoped.

Last Friday they took their campaign to the BBC in the form of a feature on Radio 4’s You and Yours.

Cabinet Member Peter Craske provided the well rehearsed defence of Bexley Council

Councillor Craske at 2 minutes 29 seconds.

 

29 August (Part 1) - Lesnes at a standstill again

Another place where nothing has been happening over the past week has been Lesnes Abbey park. The only thing I detected that was different to a week ago was that the weeds around the Mulberry tree have been cut down. I’m not much of a gardener but I thought the way to deal with weeds was to pull them out.

Unusually I left the park via the steps to Abbey Road (Photo 3) rather than the path. What a filthy mess they are. I thought Bexley Council was being rather cheeky at the last Crossrail Liaison Panel meeting (see final paragraph) when they complained to Network Rail that the Harrow Manorway flyover steps were dirty. Network Rail had lit them after 40 years of failure by Bexley Council and now they were asking for Network Rail to clean them too. They are Bexley’s steps, why have they never cleaned them?

Much to my surprise Network Rail agreed to clean the steps and about three weeks later they were suddenly spotless with no dirt hiding in every crevice. They have been cleaned every week or so since. (Photo 4.)

Bexley Council is simply good for nothing. They will be asking Network Rail to remove the graffiti next!
Lesnes Abbey Lesnes Abbey Abbey Road steps Harrow Manorway steps

 

27 August - It’s gone very quiet

RoofWhile there is not a lot going on I have been kicking around a few ideas for replacing the site menu. Currently it is created by software from a Greek company which has gone bust leaving customers unable to renew the activation codes which were paid for in advance. Sooner or later it will be a disaster if an alternative is not found.

Coding a menu from scratch is not going particularly well at present as may be seen if you go to the test page. (No longer available.) It is being tinkered with frequently and may be abandoned if certain problems cannot be solved.

Neither was there much going on at Abbey Wood station today although the first roof beams made an appearance last Thursday afternoon.

Somewhere else where things are quiet is Crayford after Geraldene Lucia-Hennis’s pub closed down last week. Nearby residents are rejoicing…


NoticeThe Charlotte is now completely boarded up with new locks fitted.

For the first time since I’ve lived here we are able to park outside every evening and no longer have glasses left on our front walls. The absence of vomit, arguing and fighting chavs and tenants gawping out of the pub windows each morning is wonderful.

So is being able to have windows open at night without the background pub noises.

The one thing I take away from this whole experience is how it’s changed my view of Bexley Council. The only help has come from Councillor Stefano Borella. Not one other person at the Council took any action despite numerous complaints for years and years.

Itְ’s a classic case of looking out for your own. The family running that pub was given special treatment, an obvious conflict of interest.

Bexley Council did nothing but issue empty words. Numerous neighbours have said the same in my time here.

In the past I’ve seen GLH speak to parking wardens and move them on from ticketing her customers parked on yellow lines (a disgusting example of abusing her position). It only came to an end when Bromley Council took over the parking enforcement responsibilty and sent people down to deal with the illegally parked customers.

I’d have voted for GLH in the past, but having seen how Bexley Council is run at first hand I wouldn’t vote for them nor do I have anything positive to say about them.


Note: Slightly edited for brevity.

 

25 August - Another set of expenses in prospect for keeping dirty secrets

Faced with the conundrum of a Council that admits that it is essential that its Head of Legal is either a qualified Barrister or Solicitor, both professional bodies insisting that they don’t know a Mr. Akin Alabi and a Council that threatens and issues six month contact bans on any resident who asks awkward questions, Mick Barnbrook and John Watson met last night to discuss their next move. As is quite often the case, I was invited as a guest.

It is not for me to reveal their next move, although obviously the Information Commissioner will be involved at some stage. Unless Bexley Council can play an ace which shows that the professional bodies have got their facts wrong they could be in trouble. If they have one and played it now the taxpayer might be saved a big bill, but as always Bexley Council will put itself before residents.

Section 77 of the Freedom of Information Act says it is a criminal offence to conceal information. Only a hefty fine unfortunately.

Cynics might think that the Council changed its job specification in order to admit someone who might help them in return.


GanotisAs I left the meeting I quipped that the Information Commissioner’s Office is, just like the LGO, stuffed full of former local government officers and yes men, “so good luck with that one!”

Never a truer word than those said in jest, I came home to a message asking if I knew that the Group Manager at the ICO in charge of decisions relating to councils and political parties is also the Leader of Stockport Council.

How can the Information Commissioner justify putting a Labour politician in charge of decisions relating to political parties and a councillor in charge of decisions relating to councils? Does he have no idea what independence and impartiality mean?

For those interested in the whole sordid story it is detailed on the Info Law blog.

Index to related blogs.

LGO: Local Government Ombudsman.

 

24 August (Part 3) - It turned around and bit them on the bum

At the weekend I discovered Bexley Council’s list of answered FOIs. One was featured here and showed that fly tipping incidents and the cost of dealing with them was well up over the past six years.


SofaBy contrast at a public meeting a month earlier Bexley Council had announced that fly tipping was not a big problem, certainly no worse since the various cuts to cleaning and recycling services were introduced.

Cabinet Member Don Massey didn’t think it was a problem either.

The blog was picked up by the Sidcup Community Group which circulated a variant of the blog to its members and the media.

The News Shopper published the SCG newsletter this morning where Councillors will read it, so completing the circle.

Bexley Council put two reports on its website (the FOI list and the Webcast) and is rewarded with a critical letter in the local newspaper. They shouldn’t try to mislead the public. Everyone can see the rubbish anyway.

News Shopper
If Bexley Council decides to argue the toss over this one, my guess is that they will say the two sets of figures are gathered in different ways. Moving the goal posts is always a good plan for those seeking to dodge the issues.

I wonder how many News Shopper readers will be puzzled by the initials BiB?

 

24 August (Part 2) - Alison Griffin is dragged further into Bexley’s culture of crookedness

GriffinI suspect that half of Bexley Council is on holiday because letters that one might expect to come from Human Resources or the Table Snatching Buffoon (TSB) are currently coming from Alison Griffin the Finance Director.

A Freedom of Information request from Mick Barnbrook which attempted to prise the truth out of Bexley Council about their Head of Legal not, according to the Law Society and the Bar Council, being either a Solicitor or a Barrister as demanded by his job description was rejected on the grounds that his ‘A’ Level Law, or whatever his qualification is, is personal information. If he had the qualification demanded it would be on the Law Society’s website.

Mick asked a different question and an answer to that was also refused.

He appealed the decision together with his reasons which is his legal right under the Freedom of Information Act. The appeal was not accepted. It has been immediately rejected on the grounds that Mick is vexatious.


AppealI can understand that a crooked Council like Bexley might want to ban Mick from making more FOIs but he has one which is only half way through the process dictated by law. It wasn’t classed as vexatious when he submitted the original FOI and he was given a a response which was acceptable in law, albeit one which was as secretive as ever.

The Act provides for an Appeal and Alison Griffin has denied it.

Mick believes that curtailing the legally prescribed procedure will only add to his case when he submits it to the Information Commissioner as he undoubtedly will.

Not only has Mick been denied his appeal he has been threatened with the same sanction to which John Watson is already subject. An effective ban on contacting Bexley Council for six months. Don’t ever believe that Bexley’s Conservative Council believes in open and transparent governance or even democracy itself.

For the record, Mick has asked three different questions about Mr. Akin Alabiְ’s lack of qualifications.

Index to related blogs.

 

24 August (Part 1) - An accident waiting to happen

If the Council doesn’t illuminate traffic islands there is a chance it will cause an accident. Just a week after the first anniversary of the unlit Keep Left signs in Abbey Road, Belvedere, someone has collided with the island 150 metres further east.

I have no idea when the accident took place except that it must have been early this morning and probably illumination played no part in this mishap. The road design may have done though.

When the width of Abbey Road was halved in 2009 my son was head of the department at the Transport Research Laboratory which issued the guidance on narrowing roads which Bexley Council falsely told me they had followed. It was another Bexley Council lie which except for the coincidence with odds of lottery winning proportions they would have got away with.

My son told me that narrowing roads was inherently dangerous as it increased the prospect of head on collisions and offered drivers less recovery time. Obvious really.

Narrowing, if it was essential, had to be done very carefully according to published guidance - which Bexley ignored.

It’s very hard to work out how someone could take out a road sign while avoiding the plastic Keep Lefts either side of it.
Abbey Road Abbey Road Abbey Road Abbey Road

 

23 August (Part 3) - And that’s your Charlotte!

CharlotteMy Crayford correspondent reports that the Charlotte pub closed yesterday with a private party. It is reported that there was not a stripper in sight, not until this morning anyway when Councillor Geraldene Lucia-Hennis and her husband rolled up in a 4x4 to remove their personal effects, or as my man in Crayford put it, “assorted tat”.

Let’s hope their retirement is more peaceful than life has been for their neighbours in recent years.

Bexley Council has today confirmed my suspicion that it has no plans to buy the Charlotte to house offenders or anyone else. I wonder why they felt the need to include the word ‘currently’.

 

23 August (Part 2) - Bexley Council behaves like idiots. You pay

It’s probably easier to merely report the antics of Bexley Council than engage them first hand. Those that do so and box the cover up merchants into a corner tend to be labelled vexatious and have all their questions go unanswered.


StewardSometimes things get worse than that. The Table Snatching Buffoon (TSB) known as Gill Steward banned John Watson from contacting Bexley Council for six months for daring to notice that their Head of Legal doesn’t appear to possess the qualifications that are deemed “Essential” to be employed in that role - and then having the temerity to ask how Alabi gets away with it.

She said the questioning was causing Mr. Alabi “distress and embarrassment”.

You would think that if someone was clever enough to acquire a solicitor’s practising certificate from the Law Society or some little known equivalent qualification it would be a source of pride not embarrassment. But instead of providing the information that the Law Society is happy to divulge about genuine members of the profession, Bexley Council refuses to say anything about him being unrecognised by the UK professional bodies.

It leaves a member of staff the subject of speculation as to whether he has been up to no good or not. Good employers don’t do that. Perhaps there is skullduggery afoot in Watling Street yet again.

Fortunately I cannot be labelled vexatious for blog writing so Bexley Council can do nothing to stop me highlighting the idiocy of the aforesaid TSB for the seventh consecutive day. They could take the Harassment path and complain to the police but that tends to back fire on them. It creates another news story as well as being a waste of police resources.

When I met Mick Barnbrook last Wednesday i drafted out for him a Freedom of Information request on Table Snatching. With the help of John Watson he has refined it since then and it now reads as follows…


The Chief Executive, Gill Steward, has announced that Bexley Council has withdrawn the press desk from public meetings with effect from 18th July 2016.

Please supply copies of all communications between council staff and/or councillors and copies of all notes, including all information held by the council electronically, relating to the council’s decision to withdraw the press desk from public meetings, contrary to the guidance contained in Open and Accountable Local Government, issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government, that a press desk should ideally be provided.

Please state the estimated financial savings that will accrue to the council over the course of a year, as a result of this cut to services to the public.


Mick must be having a laugh with his last sentence.

There is no way that Bexley Council is going to save any money on this one, instead their juvenile attack on democracy will cost you, the taxpayer, plenty.

There’s my complaint to be answered, the almost inevitable enquiries by the Local Government Ombudsman as well as the the FOI costs. And that ignores the incalculable costs to what remains of Bexley Council’s tattered reputation.

And for what? Just so that some jumped up nobody from Cornwall and West Sussex can say “I’m in charge”.

Numbskulls the lot of ’em.

Looks like I had better set about creating an Index of blogs relating to Mr. Alabi’s qualifications.

 

23 August (Part 1) - Bexley Council. A pyramid built on lies

If BiB has achieved nothing else it should have proved by now that Bexley Council is built on a pyramid of lies interspersed with criminal activity and secrecy. Yesterday saw another example of its mendacity.


LieThe Press Office put out a slogan on Twitter (@LBofBexley) for no obvious reason claiming the Council spent £8 million a year on Freedom Passes.

Everything that comes from Bexley Council should be checked for propaganda or lying. This claim wasn’t difficult to check.

At the last Cabinet Meeting, ten years after the Tories regained control, Councillor Peter Craske thought it was a good idea to reel off a list of achievements. It didn’t take long.

A new school for Crayford, scrapped the Welling bus lane, a reduced contribution to the Freedom Pass fund and, err, that was it. Not much to show for ten years is it?

The reduced contribution to the Freedom Pass nearly ten years ago was £4 million although it has of course crept upwards since. It is now £6·8 million said Councillor Craske, quoting from the Finance Director’s budget proposals.

Councillor Craske says £6·8 million.

Whilst Finance Director Alison Griffin appears to have been sucked into the cover up culture of Bexley Council (more on that another time) I do not yet distrust her to the extent of casting doubt on her financial expertise. So what Councillor Craske said was probably true.

Which makes Bexley Council’s corporate statement a lie. Why do they do it? Isn’t £6·8 million enough?

It’s only three days since they were discovered lying over fly tipping figures.

 

22 August (Part 2) - Full speed ahead and dead stop

CrossrailI said I didn’t feel inclined to get out of bed early this morning to watch the first train use the new Platform 2 at Abbey Wood but with the front window slightly ajar I was awoken by the sound of a train going by around 5 a.m.

I assumed it was Southeastern’s preliminary test train so I threw on some clothes and rushed down to the station which is only a few minutes walk away. I didn’t even know when the first train was due.

I was lucky, when I got to the station the first train headlights could just about be seen leaving Plumstead.

The station looks very different and makes Abbey Wood look more important than it probably is at the moment. There are seats, maybe not as many as one might have hoped for, and all but one of the departure boards appeared to be working. On a more technical note, the mid-platform despatch monitors have been brought into use which means that four coach trains will no longer have you running half way to Plumstead.

A more complete set of first train pictures is available.


Wilton Another forecast I got wrong was a week ago when referring to the Wilton Road regeneration. I said that I “understood” that the last untouched shop would have its front ripped out on Wednesday 17th. That was something of an understatement; I was in the shop on the Monday when the contractor told the owner when work was due to commence and heard it all.

Nothing happened.

There may have been an excuse on the Wednesday because someone crashed into the safety barrier on the Dartford Bridge which closed it for most of the day causing massive congestion at Blackwall too. The contractor comes from North of the river. Thanks Teresa O’Neill, how many millions of journeys have you made more difficult?

However no one has ever explained why the contractor failed to show up on Wednesday 17th and the gift shop owner whose shop front was due for demolition has not heard a thing since. No work has been done anywhere else in Wilton Road either.

The Food Hall has been anonymous for more than a week. If the job was a private contract the shop owners could raise Merry Hell but it’s all arranged through Bexley Council - the Greenwich side is done - so no one can find out anything.

 

22 August (Part 1) - Round 2 of Desk Wars

Making a complaint about a council is a torturous long drawn out business which is why I generally leave such things to Mick Barnbrook. I’ve not complained to Bexley Council since I discovered that Lynn Tyler, Bexley’s Legal Team Manager, was referring untruthfully to my misbehaviour at a Council meeting as part of her response to Freedom of Information requests. I have several statements from Councillors that confirm that I neither moved nor opened my mouth at that meeting.

Usually Bexley’s priority is to withhold anything remotely personal, even things that would be freely available elsewhere like Mr.  Alabi’s legal qualifications - if there are any. Ms. Tyler’s lies led to the allegation of Misconduct in Public Office against her which is still with the CPS.


PITABut my reluctance to embark on such a course must be overcome in the case of the PITA who is now Bexley’s Chief Executive. First you ask a question, then you make a complaint, then you ask for a review of the inevitable whitewash and finally you try your luck with the Local Government Ombudsman, an organisation stuffed full of former local government officers whose aim in life you can easily guess at.

Last week, and a month after it was sent, I received the letter informing me of Gill Steward’s perverse decision to withdraw reporting facilities at Bexley Council meetings. The original letter went astray because she had guessed my email address and got it wrong. You’d think that she would have noticed the message bounce but apparently that is beyond her skill set

So here’s the enquiry I sent her over the weekend. I suspect this will just be the beginning of another totally unnecessary argument.

Bexley Council simply hates residents who notice what they do.


Dear Ms. Steward,

Thank you for your letter dated 13th July which was delivered to me last week.

Whilst it makes your decision clear it does not offer any clue as to why such a perverse decision was taken. Generally speaking, only malevolent dictators do that. I therefore have just a few questions.

1. Who initiated the review of the current arrangements and how many people were involved?
2. What was the object of the review?
3. Has the provision of a table ever caused a problem or the facility been abused?
4. Theoretically any resident or even non-resident may report on Bexley Council meetings. Am I alone in receiving one of your letters?
5. Your Press Officer occasionally sits at a desk identical to that withdrawn and in a similar position to facilitate his report writing. Is Mr. Ferry subject to the same restrictions?
6. Whilst it is no longer a regular occurrence, only one instance in the past year to my knowledge, the local press sometimes attends and reports Bexley Council meetings. Are their reporters also deprived of the facilities which the Council has traditionally provided?

I look forward to your comprehensive reply.

Yours sincerely


As Gill Steward shows every sign of being an enduring cretin, an Index to related blogs has been created.

 

21 August (Part 2) - New Lesnes Abbey Visitor Centre nears completion while Abbey Wood station gets a new Platform 2

LesnesSignificant progress has been made around the Lesnes Abbey Visitor Centre this week; paths and landscaping around the new grass topped building have become very visible.

Meanwhile just along the road Network Rail appears to have coasted through the last two weeks as if they were running ahead of schedule before their big day tomorrow when the new Platform 2 opens.

No doubt there have been a lot of essential tidying up jobs to do before the first train comes through in the morning - and if it is late there will be seats!

The Dartford bound track was shuffled across very easily yesterday morning in under three hours leaving the rest of the weekend available for completing all the electrical connections and the signalling to be thoroughly checked through to the main centre in Ashford.

I heard the track tamper go by at four o’clock this morning but I couldn’t be bothered to leave my bed and get out with the camera. I suspect I shall feel the same when the first train wakes me up tomorrow.

With the Crossrail project passing this major milestone I suspect there will be fewer Crossrail pictures on BiB in future. There will be only one place from which it will be possible to get a high level view of the next stage of the track work and if the planned sound barrier between the North Kent line and Crossrail goes in sooner rather than later there will be no Platform level viewpoint either.

What will I do for exercise when there is no longer any reason to walk down to Abbey Wood?
Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes
121 Crossrail photos from the last two weeks.

 

21 August (Part 1) - Gill Steward. “Just a professional pain in the arse”

ArseGill Steward, Bexley’s recently acquired waste of space has form for attracting opprobrium whichever organisation she chooses to infect with her peculiar management style.

In Cornwall which she infested like a demented pixie for five years her Council colleagues not only described her as a pain in the arse but attributed to her “a brain like a brick”. Seems about right.

“Religiously politically correct” was another one.

Exactly the sort of total prat that Bexley needs. Who recruited this moron? Oh, Teresa O’Neill did, that will explain it.

Source web page.

 

20 August (Part 3) - Fly tipping. Whatever Bexley Council might say, it’s getting worse

At a Council meeting not very long ago someone said that Bexley planned to put all their Freedom of Information responses on line. It’s obviously a good idea as it might reduce duplicate questions but I not only failed to report it on the blog, I forgot all about it - until this afternoon.


TipI hunted around to see if I could find anything and the new page showed up at http://www.bexley.gov.uk/foidisclosurelog. It seems that Mr. Barnbrook’s questions are but a very small proportion of the total.

One question that caught my eye was simply entitled ‘Fly-tipping’ and dated 7th July.

As far as I can see, Bexley is the fly tipping capital of South East London but the Council denies it. Cabinet Member Don Massey is not bothered about it and Cabinet Member Peter Craske thinks it is Labour’s fault for encouraging it. They are the fly tippers’ friend according to his fevered imagination.

The Deputy Director for Fly Tipping, David Bryce-Smith who should know about these thing reported to the Places Scrutiny meeting in July that fly tipping was not getting worse, the cuts to recycling services and reduced street cleaning was having no effect.

So what did the FOI response say?


Year, Reports and Approximate Cost of Removal
2010 - 1,295 - £39,000
2011 – 1,381 - £41,000
2012 – 1,343 - £40,000
2013 – 1,477 - £44,000
2014 – 1,965 - £60,000
2015 – 2,320 - £70,000


So somebody has been fibbing, well it is Bexley after all! Fly tipping reports have been getting steadily worse and the cost of removal is twice what it was only five years ago.

Does the FOI Disclosure Log mean that I can never have a day off from BiB? There should always be something enlightening or surprising there to fill a slow news day.

Note: The picture above is not the same as that shown on 12th August. The heap has acquired a bed.

 

20 August (Part 2) - Sad, Bad and Mad

I suspect I go to more Council meetings than any Councillor but maybe not as often as another Bexley resident. It might be a close run thing but where John Watson would easily beat my attendance record is in the time he has been doing it. I first went to a Bexley Council meeting in 2010 but John claims to have been studying Bexley Council for 35 years. Like me he discovered they are fundamentally dishonest and was not prepared to look the other way.

Over those 35 years John has made a lot of contacts and he frequently teases me with snippets of information he is fed by friends within the Council. I never know whether to believe him because he claims to get more such contacts than I do.

John has always believed that Bexley Council is seriously concerned about a group of old men who will not stop exposing their dubious behaviour. I suppose there must be some truth in it or they’d ignore us instead of reporting us to the police or going on to TV to lie their socks off or simply refusing to answer questions when a bit of honesty would defuse the situation. Sometimes they are just plain vindictive for no obvious reason. Maybe they are terrified the truth might leak out.


Two million visitsI suppose the readership of BiB may be big enough to damage Bexley Council but most residents of the borough are still in ignorance of the dishonesty rife among most of the top Tories.

Bexley Council recently claimed to be getting two million visits a year to their website which didn’t seem very high to me; it’s fewer than four times as many as Bonkers. Perhaps BiB does seriously worry them after all.

One of the things John claims to have been told is that the old fogies who give the Council a hard time are known as the Sad, the Bad and the Mad. I have no idea if all three epithets refer to the whole group of Council critics or they are individual references to the three who attend public meetings most often.


Knight O'Neill StewardI don’t much mind being labelled Sad. Exposing Bexley Council to scrutiny daily is as hobbies go, undoubtedly fairly well up the Sad Index and it is certainly sad that someone needs to do it.

However the Bad must surely be Council Leader Teresa O’Neill and the Mad has to be Chief Executive Gill Steward. Mad to come here and mad to do stupid things with no thought for the consequences.

Teresa O’Neill is undoubtedly Bad but she is also very cunning. Never once in the time I have been watching has she laid herself open to direct and serious criticism even though she must have approved every bad or unpopular decision her Council has ever taken. She got close to being in trouble when her predecessor abused his Council Credit Card and left about £2,300 unaccounted for. She was his Deputy at the time and claimed to know nothing about the card. Most people took that with a pinch of salt.

 

20 August (Part 1) - They wanted the pub to close, now they are not so sure

Charlotte Over the past 24 hours several people have reported that the Charlotte public house in Crayford which was put up for sale some time ago is to become some sort of refuge or hostel for sex offenders. No one has provided any evidence that it might be true.

It would appear that the story was posted anonymously - never a good sign - on Facebook and was shared by a large number of people alarmed at the prospect of a Crayford full of marauding rapists looking for victims. One of my contacts lives very close to the pub and can occasionally be found inside it and it is all news to him. His information is that the pub will close at the end of the month and converted to flats. It’s only what the barman told him but it is also what the Lucia-Hennis’s (the licensees) are suggesting.

The pub was famously managed by Councillor Geraldene Lucia-Hennis and her husband but they have always said it was owned by the brewery who will presumably decide what they would like to do with it. Bexley Council could buy it, they have been bidding for property recently, but I would doubt an offenders’ hostel would be looked on favourably in a Tory area.

Charlotte Charlotte
MasseyOn the other hand the Charlotte is not a total stranger to sex related offences. When she was Mayor, Councillor Sharon Massey used it to host a charity strip show. Totally contrary to the terms of the pub’s licence but when has upholding the law been a concern for the inner circle on Bexley Council?

It’s not impossible that Bexley Council buys the Charlotte but the Facebook and Streetlife stories appear to be nothing but rumour for which no one has provided any evidence. It has a single common source; someone so confident of it that they choose to remain anonymous.

 

19 August (Part 2) - Bexley appoints another failure

StewardMy father spent the first 14 years of his life resident in Rangoon in Burma, it’s called something else now which is too difficult to spell. Then his war service took him to Bombay and Dehli in India. He brought back many artifacts and stories some of which I remember.

One of them confirmed that in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. He said that the most successful job hunters were those who went around town, sometimes on a bike, wearing sandwich boards proclaiming “Failed BSc, Cambridge, England”.

He saw it as something that summed up a disadvantaged population which I suppose it was in the 1930s and 40s.

Something similar seems to be going on in Bexley. We have the Council’s Head of Legal who has failed to persuade the Law Society or the Bar Council that he is a member and the Chief Executive, Gill Steward, whose sandwich board says “Failed BSc, Cambridge”. Sorry, I mean “Failed to complete a Masters degree at Warwick University in 2003”.

Maybe having a failure in charge of the borough explains her poor decisions and lack of common sense.

CV
With thanks to a Twitter user for reading Steward’s CV so thoroughly.

Note: I am running out of close up photos of the Chief Executive. I must remember to take a longer lens to the next appropriate Council meeting.

 

19 August (Part 1) - She’d sell her Granny, so long as she lived in the north of the borough

O'NeillBexley Council is planning on selling six more open spaces, all in the north of the borough. Three of the last batch of four were too. The one featured here in Napier Road, Belvedere is just a literal stones throw from the Splash Park. Bexley Council closed that too.

When the Council decided to sell Old Farm Park, they ignored more than 4,000 signatures and 1,600 objections as one has come to expect.

There is probably little prospect of saving a tiny patch of land which is off the beaten track, the loss of which will affect only hundreds and not many thousands. However a building on the site would have a huge impact on the local sight lines and feeling of openness, not that Bexley Council will care, it’s well away from the nearest Tory voting area.

Object to park sales here.

Napier Road Napier Road Napier Road Napier Road

 

18 August (Part 3) - Small minded Chief Executive withdraws the Press Desk. Gives no reason

I requested a copy of the letter supposedly sent a month ago to advise me that the long standing provision of a Press Desk at Bexley Council meetings was to be withdrawn. I now have it and it is reproduced below.

It is an act of spite by a small minded individual. No reason for the withdrawal is given. it would appear that we have an idiot in charge of the borough entitled to do idiotic things.

However I doubt very much that it was Gill Steward’s decision, can she really be that stupid? Click for her CV.

My suspicion is that she is under orders from one of our vindictive political clowns. Maybe Teresa O’Neill but more likely in my opinion the Rochester Rotter, Don Massey.

However it is the Chief Executive who will now be given top billing for the stupidity. Various questions are in preparation. They will ensure the name of Gill Steward is dragged through the gutter of Bexley politics as often as possible and handed to Google’s search engine regularly.

No desk

Click or scroll to see Bexley’s pathetic Chief Executive’s vengeful letter.

 

18 August (Part 2) - Bexley Council hopes to make money from dog mess

The last Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting revealed that Bexley Council would begin a trial of instant litter fines from next October. What nobody bothered to say was that the same contract will cover dog fouling.

In principle it seems a good idea although dog poo is not a problem I often see in my neck of the woods, not south of the railway line anyway, it seems to be different on the Thamesmead side of the tracks. Fly tipping and litter is a different matter entirely.

Over the past few fine days the picnickers have been out in force in Lesnes Abbey Park and yesterday there was a vast about of litter strewn all over the place. Tin cans, sandwich boxes and crisp packets everywhere. Far too widely spread for a decent photograph unfortunately.

Bexley Council says it will continue with the trial only if it proves to be financially sustainable. That is, it can be run at a profit. Logically, if the service is successful at eradicating dog mess from our streets it will be abandoned.

Maybe that is what happened the last time Bexley Council dipped its nose into dog poo. Almost nobody was caught and the then Cabinet Member Gareth Bacon said it was not value for money. So he cancelled the warden contract and allegedly saved £15,000.

The fines have been set at £80 for litter, £50 for dogs and up to £400 for fly tipping.

 

18 August (Part 1) - £1·7 million won’t go far

If you are anything like me you may have laughed at the Metropolitan Police’s plan to spend £1·7 million on a Twitter Squad to police social media. We can all think of examples of senior police officers being total idiots and perhaps they have learned nothing and are going down the same path again. A sense of proportion certainly appears to be totally lacking among our politicised police force.


TweetDuring the Independence Referendum the Scottish Police promised to investigate every single offensive comment made via the internet and were widely ridiculed. Meanwhile really offensive behaviour on Scottish streets was not prosecuted. Nearer to home, Bexley’s police are only too keen to threaten bloggers who “criticise councillors” or highlight the fact that a Councillor no longer lives in the borough.

But not all idiots are senior police officers, you can’t have people like John Nimmo threatening to kill an MP and sending her a picture of a large knife. Lock them up and throw away the key would be the correct response. But you don’t need a Twitter Squad poring over random puerile comments to find people like Nimmo.


CraskeI doubt £1·7 million will go very far. Bexley Council’s obscene blog has probably cost something like that.

I forget how much Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa told me it cost to forensically examine Councillor Craske’s computer some 16 months after the Borough Commander suspected that it was the source of homophobic obscenities, but it was a long way into five figures.

Since then Bexley Police’s admission that the case against Councillor Craske was “crippled by political interference” has been under further expensive investigation. It spent six months in Marlowe House, Sidcup where Sergeant Michelle Gower of the Directorate of Professional Standards decided that no one in Bexleyheath had done anything wrong and a further year at the Independent Police Complaints Commission who decided that the DPS report was a whitewash.

A further two and a half years at the DPS’s main office has involved too many police officers to count. From Commissioner down to Police Constable. Every month or so they write to me to tell me how they are getting along. Twice recently I have been advised that new lines of enquiry have been opened up. It sounds good but I have my suspicions that they are just ruses to introduce further delay.

Occasionally the DPS lets slip, inadvertently perhaps, how poorly their initial investigation was conducted. Only last week I was asked for the date of my meeting with CS Dave Stringer and who was at the meeting. You would think someone would have obtained such basic information years ago, and why did they have to ask me? Didn’t Bexley police make a diary entry?

It has all cost a massive amount of public money and it is all the fault of Bexley Council. After I stumbled across their obscene blog Elwyn Bryant told Council Leader Teresa O’Neill about it on the morning of 9th June 2011. I let Chief Executive Will Tuckley know about it at the same time.

By the time they took their morning coffee the obscene blog had gone. You can’t tell me that Teresa O’Neill didn’t have a very good idea of who had done it to have been able to get it deleted so quickly. If she had been totally honest during the following police investigation it would have saved hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money. On the other hand there is no evidence that Bexley Police took the case sufficiently seriously to even interview her.

 

17 August (Part 2) - A not so Happy Birthday

Abbey RoadOne needs patience when writing this blog, the Craske case caused a complaint to the police on 7th June 2012 and it is still unanswered, I think I will do an update on that tomorrow, but meanwhile it’s Happy Birthday to the nearest Keep Left sign to my house.

Tomorrow it will be exactly a year since I first noticed that the lamp in it had failed, I’m not sure if its neighbour failed at the same time or followed it soon afterwards.

When approaching from the west at night the nearby illuminated pair dominates the view and the dark ones loom up out of nowhere at the last minute.

It can’t be a unique situation in the borough but you would think Bexley Council would check these things occasionally. If they do they must do it in daylight.

Probably the light will be fixed now. I’ll let you know when it is.

 

17 August (Part 1) - Catching up with correspondence

With very little to report from around Bexley right now it seems like a good time to catch up with correspondence. I never did get a letter from the confrontational and over paid Chief Executive, Gill Steward about her withdrawal of full reporting facilities at Council meetings so I asked for a copy to be sent.


Dear Ms. Steward,


Moon FaceOn the evening of 20th July 2016 you told me that you had instructed officers not to provide a Press Table at meetings because there was no law to say you had to. It had been a feature of Council Meetings in Bexley for as long as anyone can remember.

You told me you had written to me to explain your decision. My ward Councillor had given me the same message a few minutes earlier after his attempt to assist me was rebuffed by officers acting on your instructions.

Nearly a month later your letter of explanation has not arrived and I must ask you to provide a duplicate.

I am particularly looking forward to your explanation of how your decision complies with The Department for Communities and Local Government’s note that says “Councils and local government bodies should use their common sense to determine the range of reasonable facilities”.

It is disappointing that your first acknowledgement of my presence at Council meetings had to be confrontational, it is not what one expects of a rational individual. I suspect you were under instructions from those with a history of stupid and occasionally criminal behaviour.

Without a satisfactory explanation from yourself I shall inevitably submit the facts to the Local Government Ombudsman for an opinion.

Yours sincerely,

 

16 August - Transforming the face of Abbey Wood Village

After what seemed to be a slow start the contractors have been busy spending some of the £300,000 allocated to making Wilton Road, Abbey Wood, or Abbey Wood Village as we are now supposed to call it, look a bit better. £150,000 came from the Mayor’s Office when Boris Johnson controlled the purse strings and £75,000 from each of Greenwich and Bexley Councils - less the rather more than £100,000 which disappeared in the inevitable consultant fees and the not so easy to understand council officers’ time. So much money went down various drain holes that the participating traders were, contrary to the initial plans, compelled to chip in 10% of the cost.

The past two weeks have seen a lot of changes and work in Wilton Road has been either completed or is well under way at all but one of the shops due for a face lift. A couple around the corner in Abbey Road are still waiting.

The Launderette (Photo 7) opted out of the scheme and the work going on there is presumably 100% privately funded. The hairdresser, West End Styles, did the same thing and very nice it looks too.

Occasions, the gift and flower shop is, I understand, due to have its front ripped out tomorrow. So far my favourites are the Mini-Cab Office and Mickey’s Grill. The Village Store could, in my opinion, have benefited from a larger font, it’s the biggest shop but its name is not particularly prominent. Similarly the Chinese script seems to be lost on its plain background.

Greenwich Council has found another £250,000 from its HILLS budget to do something about the state of the footpaths and introduce a few trees and benches, those who loiter noisily outside the two Betting Shops need somewhere to sit.

Wilton Road Wilton Road Wilton Road Wilton Road
Wilton Road Wilton Road Wilton Road Wilton Road

 

15 August - Steward of all she surveys

Lesnes LesnesI lived near Aldershot (Home of the British Army) in the 1950s and along with a gang of lads would regularly cycle through the barracks - there was no security back then. One day squaddies could be seen painting the barracks white but only to the peak of the roof. The barrack huts were semi-circles of corrugated iron, like a large Nissen Hut.

We asked why only the front of the huts were being whitewashed and were told it was because the Queen was visiting the next day. And she did.

Something similar may have happened in Lesnes Abbey Park because after many weeks without any progress towards the long overdue completion being made, there was a small flurry of activity last week.


Lesnes The wooden fence that obscured most views into the Visitor Centre has gone and so has the jungle of weeds and heaps of rubbish that has laid in front of it all year is also much reduced.

So was the Queen due to visit Lesnes?

Well sort of.

Bexley’s Chief Executive and Head Table Snatcher was due to visit last Friday along with the three Lesnes Abbey ward councillors.

The worst of the debris may have been removed but the weeds are still thriving in the Monk’s Garden. Not to the extent they have around the Mulberry Tree but nevertheless coming along quite nicely.

 

14 August - War on motorists extended

Central AvenueIt was easy to predict; who would a cash strapped council look to first to pay for their past mistakes? Motorists of course. Even Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer says they get a raw deal. Ironically he is in charge of Traffic and Transport.

Bexley Council took the power to penalise motorists for minor traffic transgressions, U turns and the like, a year ago. They published a list of 246 locations where they hoped to catch you out and help plug a hole in their finances.

A reader sent me a note of a new location where a moment’s inattention might cost you money, it is not one on the aforesaid published list.

If you know of more please get in touch.


When did an impoverished council decide it was OK to use public money to install CCTV at an entrapment site in Welling where buses stop for no obvious reason and without signalling and then leave you stuck in a box to be fined!

Bexley Council is using a poorly placed box at the junction of Central Avenue and Stephenson Close to make as much money as they can.


Well that is the name of their game. Stealth taxes and making money. (Note: There are two boxes in Central Avenue, one on each side of the railway bridge.)


Central Way Central WayBexley Council has no money to restore the Belvedere Splash Park and modified the consultant’s report in order to better justify their decision to close it. (Alex Sawyer again in an earlier role.) It has agreed to sell four parks and ignored four thousand dissenters and will soon sell six more.

It can no longer afford to monitor the borough’s CCTV system leaving criminals to go about their business unseen and roads are left unswept and the verges uncut. However it can afford to spend an average of £30,000 a junction (figure from Barnet Council) on waging war on motorists.

The Council’s excuse is that it will “Improve traffic movement and road safety”.

Unlike the entrapment site at the end of Upton Road which can only wreck the free movement of traffic, the one in Central Avenue may help when the station car park is in frequent use. But improving safety? No way. Perhaps someone should submit an FOI to see how many KSI accidents (Killed or Seriously Injured) there have been in Central Way, Welling in the past five years.

 

12 August - Another collection of oddments

The Crown v Councillor Cheryl Bacon
It’s a year since the police presented their case against Councillor Cheryl Bacon and her friends for lying on a massive scale while in Public Office and the Crown Prosecution Service has been sitting on the file ever since. Mick Barnbrook made enquiries three weeks ago as a result of which he has been told that everyone there is on leave until the second week in September.

You’d think if the CPS thought there was no case to answer they’d have said so ages ago. Maybe that is not so easy when the evidence stacked against Bacon and Co. is so very strong.

Index to related blogs and documents.




There is no criticism of Councillor Maxine Fothergill in this blog.

?> Bexley Council sticks by its decision that Councillor Maxine Fothergill brought it into disrepute

The blog below is one of several relating to Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill and Bexley Council’s Code of Conduct Committee. This note aims to make it clear that the events reported between December 2015 and the Summer of 2016 whilst accurate reflections of various events, disciplinary hearings and sanctions brought against Councillor Fothergill they are individually insufficient to explain the whole story.

Two members of the Bexley-is-Bonkers team met with Councillor Fothergill at a secret location on 16th September 2016 where she explained to us what had really happened. She was able to convince us that she was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

There were compelling reasons why Councillor Fothergill should be believed. It seemed likely that the Tory High Command in Bexley had taken revenge on her because Councillor Fothergill had reported one of their associates to the police for theft.

Councillor Fothergill requested that the explanatory note prefixed to relevant blogs (which first went on line a few days earlier) be further strengthened so that readers are fully aware that reported events, whilst accurate at the time, did not reflect her innocence and that Bexley Council’s charge of misconduct and “gaining a financial advantage for herself” was malicious.

This is a modified version of the note Councillor Fothergill asked to be placed here.

Nobody knows exactly what Councillor Maxine Fothergill is supposed to have done to incur the wrath of Bexley Council. It must be something to do with her property business but the complainant won’t say what. In fact the complainant didn’t even make a complaint, not a written one anyway and that is what the law requires. Insiders report that the complaint on which the Code of Conduct Committee acted was written by a pseudo Council Officer, viz. one of the so called Independent Persons. The Independent Person is a member of the Code of Conduct Committee. If the usually reliable informant is correct it is a clear case of Judge and Jury.
Verdict
In the absence of any public information about what Councillor Fothergill is supposed to have done, the only possibility of damaging Bexley Council’s reputation comes from the Council itself. It is not too unreasonable to assume that Councillor Fothergill’s misdemeanour, if indeed there was one, was minor in the extreme and her ‘friends’ were exacting some sort of revenge. If in doubt always assume that Bexley Council is crooked.

Index to related blogs.


Houses in Multiple Occupation
Fresh from his skirting around the truth in this week’s News Shopper, Cabinet Member Brad Smith has decided on licensing all HMOs and issued a Press Release. If you are looking for early relief from the worst sort of HMOs, forget it. If it happens it will be more than a year away.
HMO

Bexley has not got a fly tipping problem - the Council says so
RubbishCabinet Member Don Massey is proud of Bexley when showing people around. Does he ever get around Bexley any more or is he familiar only with the A2 to Rochester?

The pile of rubbish shown here does not exist as far as Bexley Council is concerned, it’s on private property so it won’t be included in the stats.


The unqualified man
Mr. Barnbrook has challenged Bexley Council about their refusal to say what qualifications their Head of Legal, Akin Alabi might have which the professional bodies don’t know about. His letter put forward various scenarios…


A. He has obtained his appointment as Head of Legal Services of Bexley Council by means of forged documentation.
B. He has orally misrepresented himself to the Council’s Appointments Committee as being either a qualified solicitor or a qualified barrister, when that is not the case.
C. He has been appointed as Head of Legal Services in a different name from the one he used to obtain his professional qualification as a solicitor or barrister.
D. The Council is knowingly and deliberately refusing to supply the information I have requested in the knowledge that it might implicate members of the Appointments Committee in a Criminal Conspiracy or Misconduct in Public Office.

If he had any qualifications they would be freely available from either the Law Society or the Bar Council but neither know him.


Bexley Council once again failed to come to Alabi’s defence and is prepared only to say “I am entirely satisfied that Mr. Alabi is appropriately qualified and experienced and meets the requirements of the role but is entitled to have his personal information protected”. That statement comes from Director of Finance Alison Griffin proving that when it comes to a cover up all the senior officers will swiftly go into mutual self preservation mode.


MoonieBexley Council’s job description for their Head of Legal says that being either a qualified Solicitor or Barrister is an essential requirement of the job.

The apology for a Chief Executive Gill Steward has also lost no time in protecting Mr. Alabi. She has decreed that Mr. John Watson who was the first to discover that Mr. Alabi’s qualifications, whatever they may be, did not appear to meet Bexley Council’s minimum requirement cannot email his concerns to the Council in future. “I am arranging for your e mail address and any other e mails addresses (sic) that you might create to be blocked.”

Using the ‘vexatious’ rules is what Bexley Council always does when it has lost the argument.

Gill Steward is most definitely a loser.


Facebook
RidgewayI have yet to discover the attraction of Facebook but there can be little doubt that it is a very popular social media platform. Those who use it to follow the local scene may be interested to learn that there is now a group which celebrates Joseph Bazalgette’s sewer, or more accurately the public footpath that sits astride it.

The Ridgeway runs from the Crossness pumping station to Plumstead. The group follows in the footsteps of The Greenway which is its twin on the other side of the River.


It could have been 1001
Bexley Council is bragging that there are now 1,000 Neighbourhood Watch Coordinators in the borough. I wonder how accurate the statistics are. My road is plastered with Neighbourhood Watch signs and has been for ten or fifteen years, but there has never been an active watch here.

Last year I was persuaded to take on the role - as if there wasn’t enough to do already - but I was rejected when it was discovered I ran Bexley is Bonkers.

 

10 August - Rewriting history

I was surprised when Councillor Brad Smith (Conservative, Christchurch) was made Cabinet Member for Adults’ Services to replace Councillor Eileen Pallen when it became her turn to play at being Mayor. Councillor Smith had never come to notice before except for his period as the nominated Jack in the Box whose job it is to second every damned thing that Tory Councillors dream up at Council meetings. Now he has to do a proper job. It’s too early to know whether he will be any good at it.


LetterThe first publicly visible sign of Councillor Smith having landed a big job is his letter in today’s News Shopper and it followed Bexley Council’s well trodden path when a Cabinet Member feels the need to ‘correct’ a News Shopper report. If it doesn’t actually lie it will seek to deceive.

This time it places the blame for the cuts to the number of wardens in Sheltered Housing squarely on the providers. “The warden service was originally provided by the housing associations and stopped by them around four years ago.” (Click image to see the whole of Councillor Smith’s letter.)

Well yes, but who cut the funding that forced the housing providers to take action? It was Bexley Council following their first round of cuts in 2011.

The story appeared on BiB as it unfolded.

The first reference to it was in January 2011 when a warden leaked that the Council cuts were in practice translating into a 33% reduction in wardens’ pay. Bexley Council wrote to the residents in somewhat vague terms to assure them they would not be affected. They did not account for the fact that the best wardens might walk away from their jobs.

The following month it became clear that Bexley Council was planning a voluntary extra fee for residents requiring warden services thereby ensuring a lesser demand for them and the beginning of the slippery slope towards their demise. In their usual way, Bexley Council set up another sham consultation which may be read here.

In March the Sheltered Housing providers were in consultation with Bexley Council and the issue reached the local press. BiB reported how Bexley Council was insisting on warden pay being reduced just as foretold two month earlier.

There was another BiB reference to Bexley Council downgrading warden services in August 2011 after their cuts caused the failure of their Emergency Link Line service which was a contributory factor in the death of a resident.

Cabinet Member Brad Smith has launched his public profile in the News Shopper - by carefully chosen words aimed at passing the blame for failure to someone else. It is pretty damned close to an outright lie. As a Bexley Cabinet Member he should do well.

 

9 August - What Mr. Belvedere asked Mr. Rochester

Rubbish RubbishThe north of the borough has become a bit of a tip, maybe it is just Belvedere and Abbey Wood which are as far as you can get from the two part time recycling centres. Streetlife is full of adverse comment.

Bexley’s food waste bins which are too frequently opened by foxes are also being blamed for a plague of bluebottles. I had noticed them too but I have no need of a food bin so I don’t know where they are coming from.

Informal observation of Bexley’s rubbish problem suggests that the Conservative claim that the situation is not getting worse is ludicrous. At April’s Council meeting Councillor Daniel Francis tried to get Cabinet Member Don Massey to offer an opinion on the state of Belvedere.

Don Massey dodged the issue by referring only to Bexley and he probably used the name literally meaning the village where he lived until buzzing off to Rochester.

Reply

New machinery is not going to help remove black sacks is it? What will it do, pressure wash the gutters?

 

7 August - Bexley Council reaps the harvest it sowed

Lesnes AbbeyAnother fortnight, another report on how Lesnes Abbey’s £4·2 million has improved the place - or possibly not.

There is now less fencing around the sad looking Visitor Centre but it remains inaccessible and it remains an unsightly mess.

The Monk’s Garden is in pretty good shape but the weeds in its flower beds are being allowed to grow although they have a way to go before they rival those under the ancient Mulberry Tree.

While taking pictures of the Abbey Wood station construction yesterday one of the station staff suggested I take a closer look at the state of the grass in any Bexley park. He said that because it is now cut when it is far too long the mower has been ripping the grass out by the roots and leaves it there. I forget his exact words on the state of Bexley but it was something along the lines of the whole borough is suffering from disgraceful neglect. I took up his suggestion in the nearest park.

The man is right, its not hard to find bare patches and what might have been green is strewn with a brown compost. Maybe Bexley should switch to using a combine harvester if they are going to let the grass grow to 18 inches before hacking it down.

However only 50 or so feet away the grass is looking good. The answer is simple. On one side of Abbey Road a neglectful Bexley Council owns the land but to the north it belongs to Peabody Housing Association and they send in the mower weekly.

Lesnes Abbey Lesnes Abbey Lesnes Abbey Peabody
Two week’s worth of Crossrail pictures are in the usual place. Progress on the new platform is largely unseen, electrics for the lighting, public address system, departure boards and train despatch system. The platform’s top surface is still far from complete and when it comes into use in two weeks time one lift will be lost which can only lead to more delays for those who need them. On the plus side there may be somewhere to sit while waiting for a train.

As of this morning the podium on which the station will be built appears to be complete and the piled foundation for the Crossrail track which terminates at Abbey Wood is also close to being finished.

The first of the Crossrail trains was given its first pubic outing this week. Some words and pictures may be seen here.

 

6 August - Missing a trick?

Everything is exceptionally quiet on the Bexley front, the Councillors are on their holidays, no meetings this month and nothing significant until 11th October, but some things never change. Mick Barnbrook has submitted another Freedom of Information request about Bexley’s Head of Legal’s apparent lack of qualifications. Neither the Law Society, the Bar Council nor Bexley Council has been able to come up with anything at all. It may make another embarrassing blog when Bexley Council comes up with its next excuse for refusing to answer.


Camden Road Camden RoadAnother of BiB’s regular correspondents, Elwyn Bryant, sent me a picture of what was the Deputy Council Leaderְ’s house in Camden Road, Bexley. Not the current Deputy Leader, nor even the previous one, but Colin Campbell who moved out of the borough just before the 2014 election and made no secret of it, unlike the two Masseys.

Not that Colin Campbell was a saint. Immediately after Councillor Cheryl Bacon made a great fuss over an attempt to audio record a meeting, excluded every member of the public present from her meeting, and then had to lie to cover her mistake, Colin Cambell was asked to ride to her rescue.

Campbell, who wasn’t at Bacon’s meeting, was sent off to lie on her behalf on BBC TV. Not a single word he said was true and the recording of his performance is part of the evidence now with the CPS as part of the Misconduct allegation against Bacon and Co. Why Mick Barnbrook didn’t add Campbell to the list of accused I have no idea, but he didn’t.

Campbell had a reputation, not a good one, as a businessman but maybe he missed a trick with his house sale. 25 Camden Road was for sale for £875,000 in July 2012 and the Land Registry records that it changed hands the following January for £780,000. There was never any sign of occupation but a Planning Application went in to Bexley Council on 30th January 2015.

That’s one massive extension on what was already a fair sized house. Someone will probably make a great deal of money.

 

3 August - Playing catch up

As stated several times before. some bits of news sent in by readers doesn’t by itself make a blog so here’s a list of one liners, or very nearly so.

The Charlotte Public House, Crayford
The Charlotte where Councillor Geraldene Lucia-Hennis used to pull the occasional pint is no longer run by her or her husband. Councillor Sharon Massey will have to go somewhere else now when she feels the urge to see an unlicensed strip show.

The Harrow Inn, Abbey Wood
Six years - or is it seven? - after the Harrow Inn was demolished the eyesore has been fenced off by its new owner, Peabody Housing Association.

I’m not sure it looks an awful lot better than before. Maybe the old fence will be taken down eventually.
Harrow Inn

Recycling Services
RubbishA couple of weeks ago Hugh Neal (Arhur Pewty’s Maggot Sandwich) published a short note I had written to him about how I thought Bexley’s refuse services worked; in particular an explanation of how different materials are kept separate in the lorries they bought last year.

Several people said I was talking rot again, the vehicles might have two compartments but I am assured that materials carefully separated by residents are in practice mixed into a single container by the collector and then dumped into just one of the lorry receptacles. The crew of VO15 ZGE was doing exactly that last Monday morning.

I suppose it’s another feature of the savage cuts but a few days after I bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner on 24th June and it was clear it wouldn’t have to go back for any reason I took the box to the nearest recycling centre. It was full to overflowing (see Photo) and wasn’t emptied until 22nd July by which time it was in a somewhat worse state.


Danson House Tea Room
Someone who was an occasional patron of the Danson House Tea Room found it closed. Bexley Council’s Contact Centre knew nothing about it. Perhaps Bexley Council should encourage its staff to read BiB instead of blocking access.

http://www.bexley-is-bonkers.co.uk/blogs/2015/nov/1002.php for the closure notice.

Dream on!
Another reader told me about West Dorset District Council which summoned several of its own members to Court for not paying their Council Tax. As he says, not something you would expect of Bexley Council.

Wilton Road regeneration
Wilton Road Wilton Road Wilton RoadAt last the signs of progress are accelerating in Wilton Road.

In my capacity of Secretary to the Traders’ Association I heard that one store was closed by the contractors for most of one day while they worked which is surely the last thing they need.


Bexley is Bonkers
A Councillor kindly brought this webpage to my attention. http://londonist.com/2016/07/a-new-autocomplete-map-of-london.

I didn’t like to tell him because I wouldn’t want to discourage Councillor contributions, but it is three year old news.

Londonist seems to be repeating itself.

Absent friends
HouseCouncillors Sharon and Don Massey’s recent activities would appear to have made them fair game for everyone. A bundle of pictures arrived recently which the sender claims were taken from afar of them outside their new Taylor Wimpey house in Rochester. The photos certainly look authentic.

If nothing else they provide further proof that the Masseys no longer regard Bexley as home. Why is Don Massey still in charge of cutting our services?


The worse for wear?
Booze I’ve long been of the opinion that Bexley’s Council Leader is a divisive character with an increasing number of Councillors inclined to despise her for her devious ways. I assume someone must have far bigger bones to pick with her than I do when an extremely unflattering picture arrives from one of her so called friends. Alcohol is the main feature, an excess of it looks likely.

I might think her friends are being more than a little mean spirited to have sent it but then I remember that this is the woman who asked the police to arrest me for “criticising Councillors” and all sympathy evaporates. That act of arrogant stupidity helped ensure that BiB continued far longer than it might have done otherwise.

 

2 August - Public Transport running two weeks late

Two weeks ago there was a meeting of Bexley’s Transport Users’ Sub-Committee, definitely the longest delay ever for a meeting report on BiB.

It’s chaired by Councillor Val Clark in a relaxed style, she admits to knowing little about railways. “A lot of it goes over my head because I don’t understand the minutiae of all this train lark.”
Committee
The police reported that they had issued a couple of speeding tickets but “the big issue” for the borough is people riding motorcycles without helmets. “They are very much aware that by not wearing a helmet there is nothing we can do. There is a group of people who will not wear a helmet specifically so that we can’t pursue them.”

Councillor Brian Beckwith (Conservative, Blackfen & Lamorbey) asked how many hand held speed cameras there were to cover the whole borough. The answer was two.

Councillor John Davey (Conservative, Crayford) said the helmetless riders were wearing balaclavas and they were doing “wheelies on the pavement” and “not chasing them was absolutely ludicrous. It sends out completely the wrong message”. The police officer agreed but then dropped back into politically correct mode. Sometimes air support is called in to track the bikers “but it is not always practical. I don’t know what the answer is and I don’t see it changing”.

The constant problem of badly behaved school children on buses and waiting for buses particularly around the Bexleyheath Clock Tower came up again. There is usually a police presence by the Tower but nothing in Mayplace Road West for eastbound buses. Occasionally TfL’s revenue protection officers take on a crowd control role but it cannot be a regular occurrence. For its part, the Youth Council had reported cases of badly behaved bus drivers, one of them allegedly threw someone’s Oyster Card out of his window.

A man from Network Rail reported on long term future plans through to 2044. There is little scope for more trains through this borough but trains may become longer. Crowding will be a problem except perhaps on the North Kent line where Crossrail will provide relief. There will be “horrible horrible congestion” from Hither Green into London. It is difficult to justify relief because the Department for Transport will not accept that standing for less than 20 minutes is a problem. Trains are so crowded that it can be difficult to get the doors closed and the answer to that is to remove more seats. Detailed planning is hampered by the unknowns, for example the 2018 ThamesLink timetable is not yet available.

The London Bridge changes will happen on time after the August Bank Holiday but there will be no trains at all on the following Tuesday to Thursday to and from Cannon Street. This means no trains whatsoever from Deptford through to Westcombe Park. Thereafter Cannon Street trains will not stop at London Bridge. The only good news is that the new London Bridge concourse is “amazing. You will be blown away when you see it. It is truly incredible. Brilliant”.

Access to the Angerstein Wharf freight line at Charlton is expected to be “tweaked” to allow access from both directions thereby avoiding huge diesel fuel wasting loops around Kent and South London.


CrossrailCouncillor Davey said the Council was keen to see Crossrail extended to Ebbsfleet. Network Rail said “we have been working with our colleagues at TfL to see how that would work”. Meanwhile Network Rail is putting huge quantities of concrete into Abbey Wood station where the track would have to go and building a street level entrance which does not allow track extension. See enlarged Photo.

Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, North End) asked about Charing Cross station and whether there was a plan to convert the third rail system to overhead electrification. The option to move Charing Cross out over the river had been looked at but getting rid of the third rail would be “a bit of an expensive folly at the moment. However all new structures would provide for the possibility”. Station canopies were a problem and even hanging baskets have to be hung by qualified personnel. “There are a myriad of extra issues.”

Returning to roads, “there has been a significant increase of serious casualties and collisions. It is alarming when you look at the percentages.” However there were only six more casualties than in the previous year. (2014 compared to 2015.) No pattern was discernible.

The plan for various ‘quiet way’ cycle routes is progressing.

 

1 August - Move along please, nothing to see here

If you have dropped by expecting to see pictures of the events that took place in Sidcup and Lesnes Abbey over the weekend than I am afraid you have come to the wrong place, I arranged several weeks ago to be in Wiltshire for the two days which isn’t something which can sensibly be announced in advance.

If I may indulge in a little more personal information, the situation with the 96 year old in East Ham is now close to being unmanageable, she turned her new fridge off at the weekend after discovering that the radiator at the back was hot. It might have been a manageable situation if that clown Teresa O’Neill had not persuaded her friend Boris Johnson to cancel Ken Livingston’s bridge but thanks to her it’s rare to be able to do the return trip in much under four hours. If that doesn’t slow the flow of blogs, the fact that no Council meetings of any note are scheduled until mid-October will.

Fortunately I can refer you to yesterday’s blog on The Thamesmead Grump which is not perhaps its usual fare although every bit as entertaining. It’s all about the Masseys and is remarkable for its accuracy as well as the sharp tongued turn of phrase. Picking up someeone else’s complicated story and reporting it accurately is notoriously difficult as I can testify but I could only find one thing wrong with Grumpy’s report; 37 Larch Grove was rented, not owned by the Masseys and they have moved away already.

The report is full of little gems, such as


If I were a local councillor with a public image to maintain and any sense of responsibility, I would probably want to apologise to the Police as well for causing them a nuisance and wasting their time having to deal with my delinquent daughter when they could be out catching criminals. Is this what they did, is it buggery? What they actually did beggars belief.

and


Don and Sharon Massey are nobodies; nasty, vindictive and thoroughly unpleasant nobodies but nobodies none the less. They like to think that they can lord it over the likes of us because they get elected by Tory Micky Mouse voters who will keep returning them to power no matter what they do and believe that they have the right to use public servants to carry out malicious bullying campaigns against anyone who they think challenges their own sense of self importance, because that is exactly what is going on here.


I could go on but would end up reprinting the whole thing. Read it yourself - there won’t be anything much here for a while - especially if your name is Don or Sharon Massey and need an opinion on your value to the community other than BiB’s.

Index of Massey related blogs.

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