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Bonkers Blog May 2016

Index: 2009201020112012201320142015201620172018

31 May - The EU and the Masseys make things messy

It is probably the fault of the European Union that I have a near insoluble problem with Bexley is Bonkers.

The menus are generated by a proprietary system, it was too time consuming to write the code myself every time the menu needed to be changed, and the company that produced the software was based in Athens.
Menu

Remember this from 2011?

I have rather belatedly discovered that the Greek company went bust during last year’s Euro crisis.

That became relevant when I built a new computer a couple of weeks ago and tried to reinstall the software, an operation that requires an activation which had been paid for in advance. Activation codes are not available any more so in theory BiB menus cannot be updated and will require a new menu system. The existing one is so tightly integrated with my own code I have some difficulty in seeing a way forward.


Jeff BootheMaybe Bexley police are in a similar position after allowing themselves to be influenced by Councillor Don Massey. There has been no answer to my request for a copy of his complaint yet. Sooner or later more police officers, probably not a Chief Superintendent this time, will join the names of Bexley Borough Commanders Stringer, Olisa and Ayling, held by the Directorate of Professional Standards in a file labelled Misconduct in a Public Office.

My letter is not alone. The lady who has the misfortune to live next door to the Massey’s rented house has run out of patience after waiting more than six weeks for a copy of the complaint Cabinet Member Don Massey made against her.

She showed me the letter she sent to Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe. The vindictive arrogance of Don Massey, Cabinet Member for Finance, is going to cost the taxpayer a fortune in wasted police time. Why do coppers risk their reputations by doing favours for politicians?

Note: Fortunately I didn’t immediately dismantle and refurbish my old computer as planned so I can revise menus on it, but it is messy and a recipe for mistakes as may have been noticed when the Massey Index disappeared from the menu for a day or two.

 

30 May - Spot the difference

It’s always the same after taking a few days off, I don’t relish the ideal of resuming BiB, however it has to be done. The dishonest bunch that runs Bexley cannot be allowed to continue without some of their dirty tricks being exposed, but it will be a soft restart because there is not a great deal ready for publication right now.

I don’t think there are any significant Council meetings coming up, but I can’t be sure, the Council’s meeting page along with the rest of Bexley’s so called ‘democracy’ site, has been broken since last week. So much for their cheap new contractor. Steria was rubbish (sometimes ten minutes per click) and the new company is no better.


Crossrail CrossrailIt’s perhaps a situation not a million miles away from my conversation with an elderly gentleman, even older than me I suspect, on the Harrow Manorway flyover this morning who was looking at the Crossrail station site. With no prompting from me he launched into his list of complaints about Bexley Council.

“Look at what this lot [Network Rail] has done in the last couple of weeks. Have you seen the new bridge in Bexley village? Six months to build that silly little bridge. It’s their contractors. Useless and Bexley has no idea how to manage them. Then there is Lesnes Abbey. Countless millions and all we have to show for it is a few gritty rough paths and some lumps of rusty iron.”

“A third of a million they paid their Chief Executive and then he left and stole some money too.”

I think there was some confusion between Nick Johnson, Chief Executive, who took a £300,000 pay off and £50,000 a year pension when he went to work for Hammersmith and Fulham, and the previous Conservative Leader who fiddled his expenses, but the man on the flyover had a pretty good idea about what goes on in Bexley.

I probably should have asked him if he knew about Bexley is Bonkers but didn’t.


LesnesThe past two weeks in Abbey Wood has seen Network Rail finish the eastern end of the London bound North Kent platform, progress a great chunk of the new Dartford bound platform (first train on 20th August), finish the podium on which the new station will be built and make themselves really popular by further disrupting pedestrian flow on the flyover.

In the immediate future the old bus shelter on the west side of the flyover will bite the dust.

Meanwhile Bexley Council has been working on Lesnes Abbey. The only thing new to show you is a hosepipe placed on the Visitor Centre roof to try to keep the grass alive.

 

28 May - This is what you pay your taxes for

Mick Barnbrook (former Inspector at Bexleyheath police station) was not a bundle of laughs over lunch on Thursday, he said there are few limits to what corrupt police can do with a charge of harassment and judged by the high standards of “would they shop a colleague they knew to be bent” very few police officers are not corrupt.

Lunch today was a bit more encouraging. It was a picnic in Hyde Park and one of those sitting on the blanket is both a BiB reader and employed in News and Current Affairs at the BBC preparing material for both broadcast and the web.

She said that the BBC Guidelines set higher standards than required by the law or other media outlets and that my recent blogs would not have broken those guidelines. She thought it unlikely that the BBC would have published the blurred image taken - along with a dozen or more similar photos from Victoria Massey’s freely accessible Facebook page - but only because Bexley Council is not of sufficient national interest to meet their public interest criteria. If the police had taken an interest in a noisy party at an MP’s home she thought a photo freely available on the web would very likely be published without any pixelation. “Certainly the tabloids would have published it. There simply is no offence.”

Cop CopI expect you have guessed that since the police made their late night call a week ago and said I must go for interview with a solicitor under threat of arrest, absolutely nothing has happened except that my excellent MP Teresa Pearce offered her support including coming with me to the police station.

My present inclination is to sit and await developments for a week or two more and then whatever happens send yet another letter to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe complaining about the two officers who knocked on my door. The female was aggressive and the male was threatening. There is no justification for either their actions or their attitude.

Right now I do not see any reason to make a similar complaint about the Borough Commander, there is no evidence that he knew that his junior officers were succumbing to political pressure again. I reserve the right to change my mind tomorrow.

Incidentally, examination of the whole of my CCTV recording of the incident shows that three police officers visited on a busy Friday night when they had nothing better to do. The third spent his time playing around with something in the boot of his car.

 

27 May - Getting away from it all

I don’t often stray far from home but the last couple of days have seen me flitting around. Out more than in. There’s a family wedding at the weekend too, the first for more than 40 years! My own children have favoured the ‘grab two witnesses off the street’ approach to marriage and tell the parents three weeks later. I was annoyed at the time but it was cheap.

Yesterday’s outing was with Elwyn Bryant who is my fellow complainer about the two Borough Commanders in the Councillor Craske case and we went to see Mick Barnbrook (too many complaints about the police to mention) in his new abode a few minutes walk from the Kent coast.


Mick Barnbrook LightningWe spent most of the day at the Royal Air Force Museum in Manston reviving childhood memories - I grew up In Farnborough famous for its Air Displays.

Mick hasn’t spent all his time with a paint brush in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. He has three new complaints on the go about different Chief Constables (Kent, Essex and Nottingham if I remember correctly) whose senior officers have made up cock and bull stories - really obvious lies they cannot now explain - in connection with his complaints about Conservatives breaking election spending limits. This has several times got him mentions on Channel 4 News recently.

Michael was the first and only complainant about alleged overspending in the South Thanet election which saw the police go to court this week to seek more time for their investigation. The Conservatives showed up to argue against it. What are they trying to hide?

The new Police and Crime Commissioner in Kent is Matthew Scott. He was a Conservative Councillor in St. Michael’s Ward from 2006 to 2010. A Conservative from Bexley must know a thing or two about crime.

Mick has not forgotten Bexley Council completely, he submitted a new Freedom of Information request a couple of days ago.


Please provide the job description and person specification for the role of Head of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer for the London Borough of Bexley.

Please provide the job description and person specification for the role of Manager of Legal Services.


Obviously he is delving into Bexley Council relying on a layman for legal advice. The postbag suggests that Councillors did not know that, but given the quality of his advice, they are not surprised. “It explains a lot.”

Bexley bridge
Bexley bridge Bexley bridgeThe new Bexley bridge opened early and there is not a lot to say about it. It’s a nicely constructed narrow bridge that crosses the River Cray. Same as the last one.

A dog walking lady I met while taking these photos wasn’t particularly complimentary. She said the bridge may be wider but the carriageway is not. The footpath probably benefits but is more dangerous than it used to be because there is less protection between road and path. The bridge wasn’t somewhere I often went and can’t remember what it used to be like.

It is hard to miss the new road signs about the 7·5 tonne limit although in typical Bexley fashion they are of little help to drivers.


Bexley bridge Bexley bridgeReaders familiar with the southern approach to the village will recognise that whilst the weight warnings may be prominent enough, by the time you get to them there is no way of turning back. Over the bridge you must go.

The speed humps that presented sharp edges to passing tyres have now been renewed. If only a few warning signs had been placed at a useful distance away from the bridge it would have been a job well done.

PS. A reader with a better memory than mine has drawn attention to the photos published on 5th December last year which clearly show the better protected footpath on the old bridge. A regular bridge user said “they have replaced one crappy little bridge with another crappy little bridge”. I suppose he has a point.


Yellow box junctions
As you should know by now Bexley Council spy cars regularly lurk near box junctions in the hope of making up some of their budget shortfall. Streetlife has been full of comments about the junction between Danson Lane and Parkview Road.

Our old friends the NoToMob have noticed what Bexley Council is doing.
NoToMob
The NoToMob had this to say about Bexley’s activities this morning…


The box junction skirmish you described in your 25th May blog was not a contravention. The contravention is only established if you enter the box junction when your exit is not clear i.e. if there is stationary traffic preventing you from exiting. Councils and TFL like to pretend that stopping within the box is the contravention but they are wrong in this.


So it looks like Bexley Council is intent on continuing to conning the uneducated. Nothing ever changes.

 

26 May - The signs of things to come

Threshers West End StylesThe derelict Threshers off licence in Abbey Wood, just a minute’s walk from the new Crossrail station went up for sale just six weeks ago. Able Estates right opposite the premises displayed the sale offer prominently in their window. “Offers in excess of £500,000.” For a rat and pigeon infested shell.

Last week the sold notice went up. Mr. Able or whoever runs the outfit opposite must be quite some salesman and Bexley Council is desperate for more accommodation so prepare to see more flats. Hopefully not another Home in Multiple-Occupation. The land next door is now owned by Peabody.

Wilton Road which is to benefit from some money provided by Boris Johnson has been brightened up already - with paint on the footpath from one end to the other.

This is a precursor to Greenwich Council’s HILLS project via which their apprentices will test their skills on road, or rather footpath, building. A budget of £250,000 has been put in place. It’s fortunate that one local council has recognised that small localities should not be allowed to fall into total disrepair. The job is scheduled to start well before the new station is completed in October 2017.

The shop improvement scheme is still crawling through council bureaucracy and no one is likely to see a man with a tool box until mid-July at the earliest. One lady who did not like the plans made for her hair styling establishment decided to go it alone and very smart the premises look too when closed. When closed only because behind the shutter the work is not yet complete.

One must applaud such independently minded people who get on with the job, showing how independence is always preferable to central control.
Footpath marks Footpath marks

 



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

25 May (Part 3) - Murky goings on in Bexley. Who wrote what?

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.

I had hoped that Mr. Watson whose email to Bexley Council threatening Judicial Review was placed on BiB yesterday would be able to produce the evidence that there was no written complaint against Councillor Maxine Fothergill. He came up trumps.


TylerJohn sent me a copy of an email dated 18th April 2016 from Lynn (I’m still being considered by the CPS for a charge of Misconduct in Public Office) Tyler, who works for Akin (I’m not really a solicitor) Alabi; Bexley’s top legal officer.

Lynn Tyler considers that the complainant is “frail and vulnerable”. An intermediary I sent to speak to the elderly lady’s friend said she had a heart problem and stress was best avoided but she is alert and mercifully free from significant mental degeneration.

However Bexley Council considered the old lady to be incapable of a written complaint and sent a Social Worker to interview her “to establish the allegations in full”.

That report was “conveyed to the Council Officer” and “an Investigating Officer was appointed”. He discovered that the Social Worker’s report had not “established the allegations in full” because two more were added to the list.

Bexley Council considers that the Investigating Officer’s report is a written complaint from a member of the public. “Thus the Committee had before it, as required, details of the allegations in writing.”

This is the same procedure as that adopted by Ms. Tyler following Councillor Cheryl Bacon’s mishandling of the Scrutiny meeting she chaired in June 2013. She prepared four statements on behalf of Bacon and three Council Officers. They were neither signed nor dated and in one case the Council Officer didn’t have a clue that ‘his statement’ existed when shown a copy.

All four statements were amateur jobs unworthy of anyone with legal experience and, as tends to happen when lies are committed to paper, were riddled with inconsistencies. One was altered nearly a year later to better support Bexley Council’s dishonesty. Greenwich police (Bexley cannot be trusted to investigate their masters) took months to unravel all the false statements and submit their case to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Ms. Tyler went on to say in her email of 18th April that being unable to write a complaint does not preclude making one. One might have some sympathy with that view if she was dealing with a genuine illiterate but if she is suggesting that an elderly adult is sufficiently demented as to be incapable of stringing words together with a pen it casts some doubt on the legal validity of the complaint especially when no one thought to obtain a signature. But unsigned statements appear to be a regular feature of Ms. Tyler’s work. With her boss not being a solicitor one can easily imagine how such legal norms are overlooked in Bexley.

John Watson has suggested that if the complainant is really as frail and vulnerable as Ms. Tyler has stated she could be easily manipulated by a corrupt Council and that is what Bexley has so often proved to be.

Mr. Alabi has said in a letter dated 28th March 2016 that Mr. Watson “has no standing” to make a complaint about any breach of correct procedure and that only Councillor Fothergill can do so but as he is not a qualified solicitor his advice is worth no more than yours or mine. Personally I doubt I would be forbidden to report a crime against a neighbour but in Bexley things can be very odd. The police here claimed that only Bexley Council could report a crime when its last Conservative Leader put his hand in the till. And Bexley Council decided they would rather protect him than embarrass him. Most of the money was never repaid.

 

25 May (Part 2) - South East London grinds to a halt and Bexley Council grinds motorists down

News ShopperFortunately my regular Tuesday trip to Newham has become a moveable feast in recent weeks and I was not scheduled to drive there yesterday. Just as well, Blackwall Tunnel was closed all day and there was a crash at Dartford. There were many reports of gridlock across South East London but my only outings were on foot so I wouldn’t know.

There were several comments to the effect that a relief tunnel at Silvertown would not have helped. I simply fail to see how that can be so. Whether or not it is an environmentally friendly addition to local infrastructure is another matter but to claim it would not have helped yesterday must be total nonsense and discredits the campaigners.

Pollution levels are undoubtedly a major problem but my son who is heavily involved in transport research works for the European Union, insurance industry (Thatcham Research) , the Transport Research Laboratory and through them TfL and the Department of Transport. He is enthusiastic for electrically powered driverless vehicles, so much so that he has put his money where his mouth is and ordered a Tesla.

Cars that can avoid low speed shunts are likely to put the under the railway arch body shops out of business and driverless technology can keep us older folk on the road for longer. All run on renewable energy and probably much sooner than you would guess.

TfL, if they have any sense, will be planning for a new age of motoring and an end to diesel powered junk from Volkswagon.

Yesterday’s congestion will have helped to pour more money into Bexley Council’s coffers. They would be out attacking motorists at crowded box junctions. In ordinary conditions it’s not difficult to observe the rules but when things go awry that can be near impossible.

In Waltham Forest recently I drove very slowly across a relatively clear box junction when an idiot ran across the road in front of me. I had to stop and by the time I could have got going again the lights had changed and traffic was streaming out from the side road, so I was stuck there.

Where the North Circular (A406) crosses the A13 in Newham there is a roundabout and if anyone observed the box junction that goes most of the way around it the slip road would fill up and bring the A406 to a halt. It frequently does.

This is what people are currently saying about Bexley’s yellow honey traps…


Box junction: Welling High St. junction with Danson Lane and Parkview Road

• I’ve just got a fine for stopping in the above yellow box junction even though I was at the end of the junction and wasn’t blocking traffic turning into Danson Lane. It’s very easy to get caught because there are traffic lights ahead just before Tesco’s and people also stop to let out traffic from Nag’s Head Lane. The council’s smart car camera vehicle sits in the parking bays behind. So be warned.

• My son also got a fine. When we looked at the online evidence the car camera zoomed straight in on his number plate when he barely stopped in the yellow box when the car in front of him stopped short.

• Bexley Council seem to have new CCTV vehicles. £130 fine (or £65 if paid quickly) must be a good revenue for them.

• I got the fine also, at first I thought not possible but looking at the evidence I was caught just entering the box and could not move forward or back, be very careful as the fine is very painful.

• Me too I had to stop suddenly and bingo they got me. £65 out of my pension was very painful. No point appealing they always win, Bexley has become greedy perhaps they should fill in a few more pot holes with our money there are plenty of them.

• It’s always worth appealing. I’ve managed to overturn three parking tickets issued by Bexley Parking Wardens.


Bexley Council claims that stepping up attacks on motorists is to improve road safety. Perhaps I should have run down the Waltham Forest idiot and proved them wrong.

Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer has twice said at recent Council meetings that he believes motorists are unfairly penalised and used as cash cows. He is Bexley’s Member for Traffic and Transport. Hypocrites the lot of them.

 

25 May (Part 1) - NU61 YML and CP57 MKF

Parking ParkingBefore returning to more serious stuff (Judicial Reviews) a final word on yesterday’s parking issues.

Did you notice that the UK Power Networks’ barriers in Fendyke Road were placed so as to protect the public from both the hole and passing traffic and at St. Augustine’s Road Bexley Council had allowed the barriers to put pedestrians in the maximum possible danger?

Typical Bexley Council but all was not well in Fendyke Road either this morning. Someone had taken it upon themselves to park on the footpath and force pedestrians into the road.

Bexley’s parking controls are frequently well designed traps for the unwary but some motorists definitely take the pee.

Close to home there is a blind corner and the frequent scene of near misses. It is made worse by those who insist on parking on the corner forcing traffic on to the wrong side of a narrow road.

Obstructing the traffic is (used to be?) a police matter but since Chris Molnar was promoted you never see or hear of the police in these parts. Too busy taking instructions from local politicians presumably.

I did once see a car ticketed on that corner because it was overhanging a dropped kerb - as the brown Nissan is too.

You can’t easily phone the parking office about such things any more because Bexley Council decided that another good way of fleecing the public was to make the number a premium rate call. It now appears to be abandoned in favour of a web form and only those willing to give Bexley Council their email address may use it. Really convenient.

 

24 May (Part 2) - To Ward’s more parking madness

NoticeThe parking restrictions in Fendyke Road, just around the corner from Abbey Wood station continue to defy logic.

Two weeks ago two bays were taken out of service allegedly for a hole in the road to be dug by UK Power Networks. They messed around a little further up the road but nothing in or even adjacent to any of the parking bays.

UK Power Networks cleared up and went away but the parking restrictions had only been expired for a couple of days and another was imposed even more puzzling than the first.

Once again UKPN placed their plastic barriers in the road and dug a little hole in the pavement. (Photos 1 and 2 below.) Graham Ward who issues these notices presumably hasn’t a clue about what he puts his name to. All he does is inconvenience motorists and fleece a few who fail to correctly judge where the unmarked boundaries between bays are. Presumably that is the intention.

A mile to the east Mr. Ward signed off a notice that said that because of road narrowing work by St. Augustine’s Church (Photos 3 and 4 below.) it would be necessary to divert all traffic along Woolwich Road and down Picardy. An enormous detour that would deprive thousands of people of a bus service.

As yet that has not happened. Pedestrians are forced to cross the road without any protection but that is just the usual lack of consideration by Bexley Council. Three road crossings if the intention was to walk up Heron Hill.

When the job is finished there will be yet another junction where the footpath sticks out into the road and safety allegedly arises from forcing vehicles on to a collision path. Fine if everyone is as alert as they should be but the newly installed speed indicator in the same road clocks 60 fairly regularly.

On completion there will be more yellow lines and fewer parking spaces. What else would you expect?


Fendyke Road Fendyke Road St. Augustine's St. Augustine's

 



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

24 May (Part 1) - Another long winded quest for the truth

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.

A big thank you to the various senders of support with the ongoing battle against the corruption endemic in Bexley Council and the Metropolitan Police. I dearly wish I could reveal some of the information that trickles down to me from the Daniel Morgan Panel. If that ever gets into the mainstream media it will blow the Metropolitan Police apart. Hillsborough is nothing by comparison.

I rather liked the Facebook comment; “Time to get the popcorn out”. It’s true that for most of the time BiB rumbles on with a succession of B movies and then just as I despair of finding something more long running, along comes Bexley Council in some shape or other and produces a Blockbuster. The last one concerned Councillor Fothergill and her conviction by Bexley’s Code of Conduct Committee of bringing the Council into disrepute. (Links to Council website.) The case, rather than the Councillor, shows every sign of doing just that.

Since Councillor Cheryl Bacon (still with the CPS for alleged Misconduct in a Public Office) chaired that infamous Code of Conduct Committee meeting on 10th December and found Councillor Fothergill guilty of obtaining a financial advantage, a number of people have tried to get at the truth. Michael Barnbrook asked 14, I think it was, questions and learned almost nothing.

Bexley Council never has been happy with the concept of residents knowing the truth about how it operates so most enquirers have been fobbed off, given up asking and fallen by the wayside - but not John Watson.


WatsonMr. Watson’s case revolves largely around his assertion that Mr. Akin Not A Proper Solicitor Alabi, Bexley’s Head of Legal has confirmed to him that there was no legitimate complaint against Councillor Fothergill. Nothing was in writing. If Mr. Watson has sent me the proof of that I cannot find it.

Having perhaps got a little too close to the truth for Bexley Council’s liking, the Acting Chief Executive Paul Moore said he was closing down the correspondence and if Mr. Watson wrote to him again he would be declared vexatious.

Mr. Watson was not deterred and appears to be going for Bexley Council’s jugular. Someone has to try to bring these criminals to account, obviously you cannot rely on a subservient police force to do it.

His letter, sent by email and displayed here in a format more suitable for the web, sums up the present situation and sets out what is likely to happen next.


THE QUEEN V LONDON BOROUGH OF BEXLEY


Unsatisfactory conduct

• With further reference to your email of last Friday 13th May 2016, I have to say I am very disappointed at its contents.
• Having now carefully considered the contents of that email, I am wondering whether it was in fact drafted by you because it appears to me to be written in the writing style of Lynn Tyler.


Accountability

• However, at the end of the day, what you say is in black and white and it has been sent and signed by you. Thus you are personally accountable for all the untrue, misleading statements and the serious misrepresentations your email under reply contains.
• I am concerned that your email is infested with such diversionary, irrelevant statements and subterfuge.
• This is not an acceptable reply by a public servant who is being paid from public funds and in your case, very handsomely paid, at the rate of £133,000 odd pounds a year.
• It cannot be right for a public servant to write to a member of the public, from which public you are obtaining your salary, and make untrue and misleading statements and serious misrepresentations in order to avoid properly replying to correspondence.
• It appears to me your email has all the hallmarks of what is known in the vernacular as ‘a Cover-up’.
• Nevertheless, I need to press on with Judicial Review matters but I can assure you I will be addressing in detail all the untrue, misleading statements, the serious misrepresentations and the threats you make to deprive me of my human rights in your email under reply.


Summary of Bexley Council’s current position.

• You know that the only way you can obtain power to deal with allegations against Councillors is by complying with section 28 (9) of The Localism Act 2011.
• You know that section 28 (9) of The Localism Act 2011 specifically provides that allegations against Councillors must be made in writing.
• You know that no such written allegations were made by the alleged elderly lady Complainant.
• You know that without properly laid allegations under section 28 (9) of The Localism Act 2011 you have no powers to pursue allegations against Councillors.
• You know that if you act beyond your statutory powers you are acting illegally and/or unlawfully which provides a cause of action.
• You know that you have admitted that the allegations against Councillor Maxine Fothergill were not made in writing by the alleged elderly lady Complainant.
• You know that you have admitted that the allegations against Councillor Maxine Fothergill were not made by the alleged elderly lady Complainant.


Rule 2.1 of The Procedure for Dealing With Complaints Pursuant to The Members’ Code of Conduct

• You know that the only way the Members' Code of Conduct Complaints Sub-Committee can obtain power to deal with allegations against Councillors is by there being full compliance with Rule 2.1 of The Procedure for Dealing with Complaints Pursuant to The Members’ Code of Conduct.
• You know that Rule 2.1 of The Procedure for Dealing with Complaints Pursuant to The Members’ Code of Conduct specifically requires that “A complaint should be made in writing, by letter or email, to the Monitoring Officer…”
• You know that no such written complaint was made by the alleged elderly lady Complainant.
• You know that Rule 2.1 of The Procedure for Dealing With Complaints Pursuant to The Members’ Code of Conduct specifically requires that “A complaint should be made in writing, by letter or email, to the Monitoring Officer within 7 days of the alleged breach(es) of the Members’ Code of Conduct”.
• You know that no complaint was made by the alleged elderly lady Complainant against Councillor Maxine Fothergill “…within 7 days of the alleged breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct”.
• You know you have admitted that the allegations against Councillor Maxine Fothergill were not made in writing as required by Rule 2.1 of The Procedure for Dealing with Complaints Pursuant to The Members’ Code of Conduct.
• You know you have admitted that the allegations against Councillor Maxine Fothergill were not made “..within 7 days of the alleged breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct”.
• You know that if the Members' Code of Conduct Complaints Sub-Committee acts contrary to Rule 2.1 of The Procedure for Dealing with Complaints Pursuant to The Members’ Code of Conduct it is acting illegally and/or unlawfully which provides a cause of action.
• You know I have tried to meet with you at least four times to seek ways of resolving these issues but you have repeatedly refused to do so.
• You know you have sought to justify your unfair, unreasonable, illogical and unlawful conduct by writing to me in Alice in Wonderland language and refusing to treat my correspondence with respect.


What I state above shows you to be acting in a way that is unfair, unreasonable, illogical and beyond your powers. I now anticipate that the conduct of Bexley Council that I refer to above will form the basis of my Judicial Review claim.

As the person with ultimately responsible for the Members' Code of Conduct Committee and the Members' Code of Conduct Complaints Sub-Committee, will you please let me know to what extent you were personally involved in connection with the prosecution of Councillor Maxine Fothergill. For example, were any matters referred to you in connection with her prosecution and, if so, what were those matters.

I believe there is still a possibility that the situation you are in could be resolved by our meeting for this purpose and I would again ask you to reconsider doing so after you have reflected on your position as set out above. If I do not hear from you within 7 days with your proposals in this regard, I will assume you are still refusing to have a meeting.

John Watson


Index to related blogs.

 

23 May (Part 2) - The Bexley villagers will be celebrating

Bexley BridgeThe good news is that the new Bexley Village bridge will open tomorrow. The Council’s Press Release says that makes the opening two months early which didn’t seem likely when I took a look three weeks ago - so undoubtedly quite an achievement. Whether it is really two months earlier than scheduled is more contentious, the completion date was specified only in vague terms. July, but not exactly when.

I’m still due in Bexley Village next Thursday. If I can find a place to park I will still get some pictures as planned.

The bridge retains the 7·5 tonne limit, not because it is likely to fall down but to protect the village from heavy traffic, buses excepted.

 

23 May (Part 1) - The opening skirmishes

An overnight email from a regular reader who just happens to be a solicitor said "What? Haven’t the police got anything better to do on a Friday evening? It’s appalling behaviour” and a few more choice words. What was so important that they had to come so late? Any later and they might have found me in bed; I tend to be an early riser and with advancing years often pay the penalty in the evening.

However if you browse the web for similar situations you will see that the police commonly abuse their powers and issue harassment warnings which they call PINs (Police Information Notices) without any prior investigation. They just do it like zombies on auto-pilot.

But let’s keep this in proportion, I have not been issued with any such warning, I was only invited to Bexleyheath Police station - under the threat of arrest if I don’t go - on the say so of a schoolgirl whose name did not appear on this website until she accused me of harassing her. I had to research her name to establish positively who she is.

Possibly she is also behind the complaint to the lady in Sidcup (†) who asked the police for advice on late night party noises. That lady is still waiting for the police to send her a copy of the complaint the best part of two months after asking.

All the case history and advice to be found on the web says to refute the allegations as quickly as possible. Back in 2011 I did that but it’s not so simple this time because I do not know what the specific allegation is. However the threatened 2011 interview at the police station never did materialise. Having the support of a good MP may have had something to do with that.

So I decided to take the advice and get my rebuttal in quick. The male police officer wanted to come inside because he reckoned I wouldn’t want all my neighbours to know what was going on. Presumably he has no idea of what bloggers usually do. So here is the email I sent to Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe, Borough Commander, Bexley Police, at 13:56 this afternoon.


Dear Chief Superintendent Boothe,

Late last Friday evening two of your officers knocked on my door and said they wanted to come in to discuss “your blog”.

I refused entry. In the past I have been assaulted in my home by a police officer and another said he would arrest me for Breach of the Peace inside my own house when I asked him to leave.

When I asked what the Friday night visitors wanted to discuss about my blog they said that Victoria Massey had made a complaint of harassment. I do not know Miss Massey, have never met her and would not recognise her if I passed her in the street. Perhaps more importantly her name did not, as of Friday 20th May, appear anywhere on my website.

I asked for a specific complaint and neither officer could provide one but insisted I must attend Bexleyheath police station for interview. The male officer said that failure to do so would result in my arrest. Perhaps you would be good enough to let me know what charge he might have had in mind?

The female officer said I should bring a solicitor.

Since 2009 I have written 3,134 blogs and many have been reports of Council meetings. As such there are 461 occurrences of “Councillor Massey” including the obvious variants.

Without a specific complaint how am I or a solicitor expected to prepare ourselves for questioning?

Please let me have as a matter of urgency a copy of the written complaint or signed statement that Miss Victoria Massey is alleged to have made. Without that I will only be able to reply “No comment” to every question put to me.

If you refuse my request I shall make a formal Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act.

Please also let me know the names of the two officers who knocked on my door so that if I discover any gross incompetence or misconduct on their part I can make a formal complaint against them.

In 2011 one of your predecessors authorised a Harassment Warning (PIN) against me without any prior investigation whatsoever. He was made to rescind it by the IPCC. I accept that you have not issued a PIN but suspect there has been no prior investigation this time either. My blog is entirely factual and there is nothing in it that I would wish to withdraw so I fail to see what purpose an interview would serve.

The two police officers told me that it is standard practise following a complaint of harassment to accept it – the male officer implied blindly and as an automatic process – and in the first instance request attendance at the police station. Can you please confirm this is the case because I may wish to avail myself of the same facility?

I would hope that you are aware of a recent case involving the Croydon Advertiser which was in some ways similar to the above, the main difference being that there was actually contact between the two parties involved. The Metropolitan Police eventually apologised and withdrew the PIN, paying out a large sum of money in the process. They also agreed to seek a review of procedures.

On several previous occasions Bexley Council has sought to attack me and your predecessors have succumbed to political pressure put upon them. Perhaps you already know that your three immediate predecessors are currently being investigated for Misconduct in a Public Office by your force’s Directorate of Professional Standards. I remain hopeful that you are above such things but if I discover any evidence at all that there is a political angle to the current accusation then history is likely to repeat itself.

Yours sincerely,

Malcolm Knight


I received a polite acknowledgment seeking more information at 14:17. So far so good.

†. The Sidcup lady has subsequently reported that it was Councillor Don Massey who alleged harassment at Sidcup Police Station (Marlowe House) on a Sunday morning. That office is not open to the public on a Sunday, you or I would have to go to Bexleyheath. But Councillor Massey must believe he is a special person and the police in Bexley still think their primary role is to protect Bexley Council. The favoured treatment is the first positive sign of the political element which one might assume is behind this case.

 

22 May (Part 2) - Ridiculous and silly abuse of the law says Society of Editors

DaviesIn April 2014, Gareth Davies, a journalist on the Croydon Advertiser had three police officers turn up on his doorstep to accuse him of harassment. He had contacted a woman about to be sentenced for fraud to ask her about fresh allegations. He called on her once in March 2014 to offer her the right of reply to the new allegations.

She made a complaint of harassment based on that single instance of a journalist doing his job.

The police officers said that doing their job was what News of the World journalists said. Well since the News of the World and the Met. enjoyed a particularly corrupt relationship, then they should know!

The Legal Director of Liberty, James Welch, said “All too often the police seem to hand out harassment notices without adequate investigation or consideration of the validity of complaints”. Without any investigation in my experience.

Bob Satchwell, Executive Director of the Society of Editors, said: “This is a ridiculous misuse of a law originally introduced to deal with stalkers. It is also extremely silly. It is time someone gave the police an injection of common sense. It seems some police officers do not understand that the media is simply a conduit to the public who they are supposed to serve and who have a right to know”.

Gareth’s employer complained to the Met. but in their view a journalist making just one approach went “beyond what is reasonable” and…


The warning is simply a warning to inform Mr Davies that his behaviour is not welcome and that he is advised to desist or there may be further investigation by Police which could result in an arrest.


The journalist was threatened with a criminal record for doing his job.

The Croydon Advertiser took the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission but after the usual year long wait, they rejected it. Apparently seeking facts and reporting them is an arrestable offence.

The publisher sought a Judicial Review which was set for last Friday, however the prospect of facing a judge was too much for the Metropolitan Police and the IPCC. They backed down and agreed to both revoke the Harassment warning and recompense the journalist and his employer’s legal costs.

Not only that, and perhaps far better, they agreed to seek a review of the guidance on issuing Harassment warnings to journalists.

Source: Guardian Newspaper 17th May 2016 and an earlier report.

 

22 May (Part 1) - Council meeting 18th May - the serious bits

Mayor Last week’s Council meeting was not all fun and games, back slapping and boozing, some of it was just a little more serious in nature.

Councillor Endy Ezenwata (Labour, Thamesmead East) was the first to speak. He proposed that his colleague Derry Begho (also Thamesmead East) should be Mayor. The proposal got him absolutely nowhere, even UKIP voted against Councillor Begho. Vote UKIP, get Tory.

The Conservatives had already chosen their preferred candidate and made sure the robes fitted her reasonably well.

The election of Eileen Pallen was inevitable and after a 20 minute break the new Chief Executive made the formal announcement. Exactly what she said was lost to my recording as she spoke softly and forgot about the microphone.


CabinetThe Mayor then slipped into her new role by announcing to whom Leader Teresa O’Neill OBE (Overlording Best Employment) had appointed the highest paid jobs. Rob Leitch (Education), Linda Bailey (Regeneration), Peter Craske (Environment and Leisure), Don Massey (Finance), Philip Read (Children’s Services), Alex Sawyer (Traffic and Transport) and Brad Smith (Adults’ Services).

The proposed allocations to various Committees and Panels were all voted through without comment.


BaconSimilarly the final minutes of all the old Committees were signed off without comment.

Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, North End) proposed amendments to the Council representatives to serve on outside bodies such as the Business Partnership, the various Town Forums and Cory Environmental. He wanted to see some Labour faces on those bodies but his suggestion went down like a lead balloon with both Leader O’Neill and her new Deputy No More Mr. Nice Guy Leitch. Of the 57 appointments, only one will be Labour, the same as last year.

The calendar of meetings was approved but Stefano Borella tried once again to have Councillor’s Allowances reduced. He really doesn’t get it that most Tories are on the Council for what they can get out of it, so his Motion stood no chance. Out it went quickly but not before Leader O’Neill spoke in favour of the status quo.

And with the wallets safely secured the new Mayor closed her first meeting.

 

21 May (Part 2) - A tribute to Olly Cromwell

I suppose that headline should be explained to newer readers.

In 2011 a blogger going by the name of Olly Cromwell (a.k.a. John Kerlen) put a picture of an anonymous house on Twitter with the comment “What sort of **** lives in a house like this“. The owner of the house who was a Conservative Councillor didn’t see it but was tipped off about it. He complained to the police about the unseen Tweet and they charged the author with harassment who ended up in Bexley Magistrates Court. The CPS produced no evidence and the harassment charge was dropped.

Bexley Council and their police friends are nothing if not vindictive so they embroidered the words in the Tweet and went back to court because of the rude word and what they maliciously added to it.

I think there were seven court appearances for that second stage of the proceedings where the Councillor and the police lied on oath. Fortunately the final judge saw through it all and said the rude word was not “grossly offensive” anyway.


TweetGiven the Twitter origins of those expensive court appearances I was both surprised and amused to see this very similar Tweet (click image) from North End Labour. Someone there has a magnificent sense of humour and irony.

Their Tweet differs from Olly Cromwell’s in that it provides a house number, not that that identifies the property; how many tens of thousands of number thirty sevens are there in the country?

It doesn’t contain the rude four letter word either. On the other hand I know it to be the house rented by Councillors Don and Sharon Massey. When I pictured “their house” I chickened out and showed only a similar house.

Do you think North End Labour will now get a visit from the cops? Olly Cromwell did for his efforts and so have I.

When you are dealing with organisations as corrupt as Bexley Council and the Metropolitan Police (I have seen their written admission that they are) it’s probably best not to speculate about the reasons.

Click the image to see what North End Labour said.

 

21 May (Part 1) - Weekend miscellany

The old weekend standby of what is going on in Lesnes Abbey Park and on the railway line at Abbey Wood is a bit of a let down. Nothing discernible has happened in the park and it has been pretty quiet at the station today despite the inconvenience of a Replacement Bus Service.

Meanwhile the parking restriction notices get ever sillier.

Parking restrictions - Confusing and unnecessary
Parking ParkingThe week long parking restrictions in Fendyke Road, Belvedere, proved to be every bit as stupid as expected. A hole never was dug on the site of the parking bays, in fact there never was a hole in the road anywhere. For a few days there was a small hole in someone’s drive following a building extension and an excess of plastic barriers were stored in the road, but not in or even adjacent to the parking bays.

In the expanded version of Photo 1 (click it) you can just see the yellow restriction sign in the distance. There is no new tarmac anywhere.

However that didn’t stop Bexley Council ticketing cars that it considered not to be in the undefined Bay 1 out of three. (Local resident’s report.)

In place of the old warning sign a new one has appeared every bit as confusing as the original.

It says “23/05/2016. 29/05/2016. Bays O/S 15 Florence Road Bays in Fendyke Road UKPowerNet. No Parking at any time.”
It took me a little while to work out what it meant. Florence Road is the road around the the nearby corner and O/S must mean outside.

Not exactly a model of clarity but probably that is the intention.


Bexley bridge
Bexley BexleyThe complaint from Bexley this week was not that the bridge is still half closed but the fact the car park is much the same. Blocked and wrecked by contractors vehicles. I should be able to get some pictures of the bridge works next Thursday. Those shown here are not mine.


Lesnes Abbey, full stop
I do like the look off much of the new Lesnes Abbey Park but as was the case last weekend I can’t see much sign of progress. But they did cut the grass, not on the Vistor Centre roof. On the ground where it should be.
Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes
The Visitor Centre (Photo 3 above) is still a mess and the Dipping Platform (Photo 4) has not progressed in at least two months.


No trains and little activity at Abbey Wood
Crossrail CrossrailIt was a disappointingly unexciting day at the Abbey Wood Crossrail site which was good because it allowed me to attend to other things.

Some concrete was pumped across the Dartford bound track and some big lumps of steel lifted into position where one of the Crossrail tracks will hit the buffers. Perhaps they are there to ensure it is strong enough. Pictures of recent work.


The quiet patch with little to report is likely to continue, I doubt I will attend more than two Council Committee meetings between now and the end of June. Thank goodness for the Masseys.

 

20 May (Part 2) - Here we go again

CopsTwo police officers called on me at 21:30. They said I have been accused of harassment by Victoria Massey. That’ll be the first time her name has been mentioned here but I understand she is the daughter of two Councillors and was also responsible for a similar complaint about her neighbour who asked the police for advice on what to do about loud parties.

I have been asked under threat of arrest to attend Bexleyheath police station at a time yet to be arranged and I'm happy to do so.

This is a little reminiscent of John Kerlen‘s problem when he was accused of identifying a Bexley Councillor when he had not mentioned either a name or address. It was a Councillor who identified himself.

It would appear that Victoria Massey is determined to identify herself too.

I think we are going to need an Index.

 

20 May (Part 1) - Friday filler

Lesnes Abbey, later and later
Lesnes LesnesBexley Council issued a new Press Release yesterday and in it they admit that the Lesnes Abbey Park enhancement is well behind schedule, or in their words it is on track for completion in late Summer. That’ll be October, best part of a year behind initial estimates.

The grass that was planted on the Visitor Centre roof two or three times appears to have died. At least it will save sending someone up there with a lawn mower


Tesco Welling bogs off. A snip at 31 million!
They moved out of Belvedere, they failed to move into Bexleyheath and it looks like Tesco is vacating Welling. Not unexpected.
Tesco
You may think it is strange that only a Google link is shown above. That’s because the Estate Agent’s page disappeared before I could screenshot it.

PS. I hadn’t closed the browser window so was able to retrieve the Knight Frank page. Click the Google search result above to view. (And now the bloody thing is back!)

 

19 May (Part 2) - It’s Party time

CamseyThe May Council meeting is unlike any other, it is mainly ceremonial and this report will deal only with that aspect of it. Family and friends of the new and old Mayors turn up dressed for the occasion along with several former Councillors some of whom definitely don’t bother.

BarThere is a party atmosphere with a buffet and free drinks served up by friendly staff to those with political connections; but not for the likes of you and me who pay for it.

Nevertheless it is a pleasant enough evening and the self-congratulations were reasonably well judged. Outgoing Mayor Sybil Camsey was almost entertaining.

More entertaining is to listen to off duty Councillors. One who has almost never spoken to me before addressed me by first name while passing by. Better not say who it was in case the Leader takes umbrage, she did once before in similar circumstances.

Another Tory said his colleagues were “just a bunch of shits”. A bit harsh, I assume he meant the leadership. Maybe I should ask him to take over BiB.

The gossip about the disappearing Joe Pollard was that he had fled to Thailand in a hurry - or Singapore according to another - both implying the suddenness of the departure was reason for speculation. The Head of Electoral Services told me that holding the by-election a week after the EU Referendum was a legal requirement. By law Referendums cannot be held on the same day as any other election, so the speculation about controlling EU turn out is ill founded.

Probably speculation should be avoided about legal boss, Akin Alabi, too. Normally he sits alongside the Mayor offering advice and guidance on procedural matters but last night he was relegated to a dark corner. Advice was coming from his deputy Lynn Tyler. Maybe not being on the solicitors’ list has not gone down well, but then it drew a blank on Mrs. Tyler too.


StewardDefinitely on the top table was new Chief Executive Gill Steward. Have you read Mrs. Steward’s career history yet?. Let’s hope she manages to resist the crooked ways of Bexley Council. Her predecessor is still under consideration by the Crown Prosecution Service for a Misconduct charge.

Pallen PallenFor the coming civic year the Mayor is Councillor Eileen Pallen, the Labour contender being severely beaten by the massed Tories as was entirely predictable. Not so predictable was that the three UKIP Councillors voted Tory too and when asked why afterwards said that it was because Councillor Pallen is “nice”.

I’m in no position to argue with that although recent history shows that even ‘nice’ Councillors prove to be incompetent tyrants as Mayors. Just look at the last one, Councillor Sybil Camsey.

Mayor Pallen has chosen Councillor Val Clark as her Deputy. Fortunately the Deputy Mayor does nothing at meetings so probably there will be no more Widow Twankey moments. Shame.

Informal

An informal moment during a recess.

Leitch FullerWhilst Councillor Eileen Pallen’s selection as Mayor has been known to me for some time, I had failed to pick up the fact that Councillor Rob Leitch was to be the new Deputy Leader. It was clearly included in the Agenda but it’s been a busy week and I didn’t get around to looking.

It’s an interesting choice by his fellow Tory Councillors. Rob cannot be flavour of the month with Leader O’Neill; think Old Farm Park. Perhaps they are trying to send a not so subtle message.

Whilst congratulations must be due to Rob Leitch on his meteoric rise to high office in just two years since his first election as Councillor I am nevertheless disappointed in him. Two Councillors told me that the Deputy Leader can choose his portfolio so he could have taken Environment and Leisure and saved a few parks from closure about which he campaigned so hard and spoke so eloquently only a matter of weeks ago. Instead he has taken Education, thus displacing John Fuller, the only Cabinet Member who never wasted his time scoring political points, doesn’t insult members of the public and has never been caught out lying or - excuse me - bullshitting.


Camsey PallenMaybe Councillor Leitch was not as sincere about Old Farm Park as I had believed, it is foolish to trust any of Bexley’s ruling party. Didn’t Councillor Leitch vote for park sales at several budget meetings a year ago? Yes he did.

But suppose he has been given the Deputy Leadership as a challenge to the Great Dictator. What could she do about it? Maybe SWMBO could do an about turn on the matter of an elected Mayor. Seven years ago Bexley Council rejected the idea of an elected Mayor following one of their sham consultations. They gave it no publicity and only 99 people responded, probably all Councillors and their cronies. A newspaper poll subsequently showed 85% of the public in favour. They know not what they do!

If Teresa O’Neill went down the elected Mayor route and the public fell for it and elected her she really could be the undisputed Fat Controller. The stuff of nightmares. I shouldn’t give her ideas.

Note: As has been noted recently - thanks Danny - BiB has not been on peak form recently and is suffering from lack of available time. There are other things in life that have to be done! However if all goes according to plan the recording of the meeting will be reviewed at the weekend to see if there is anything from the formal business that is worth a quick report. A few Labour suggestions may have been put down. Not that that is news of course.

 

19 May (Part 1) - Whatever was she thinking of?

You may remember that Councillor Maxine Fothergill has had a little spot of bother with Sevenoaks Council. She built a nice little porch on her house without planning permission. Sevenoaks Council told her to knock it down within three months.

Councillor Fothergill appealed and two days ago Sevenoaks Council published the verdict of the government inspector on their website. (Search for Manor Cottage.)

The Inspector agreed it was a nice little porch but said that the earlier extensions - the house size had been increased by 86% - had “used up” all the allowances that could be made for development in the Green Belt. The appeal was dismissed.

He did make one concession, the inspector allowed six months for the demolition and removal of all rubble from the land.

It’s all rather silly when there was every chance a Planning Committee would have allowed the very small and attractive extension.

Appeal

Extract from Inspector’s decision. Click for full text.

 

18 May (Part 3) - Officially not listed

John Watson who is a regular attender of Council meetings suggested I search for Bexley Council’s Head of Legal Services on the Law Society’s website. John has been watching the Maxine Fothergill business closely and been corresponding with Bexley Council.

Being a helpful sort of guy he sent me a screenshot which drew a blank on the Council officer’s name but being a little on the cautious side myself I repeated the exercise.

This is what I got and things didn’t improve when I removed the word BEXLEYHEATH and searched the whole country.
Law Society
So Mr. Alabi is not registered as a qualified solicitor. I suppose that salaries in that profession being what they are, £68,697 a year is not very attractive to the real thing is it?

If Mr. Alabi is not a qualified solicitor it may not be an entirely bad thing. His predecessor Angela Hogan was a qualified solicitor and when the previous Council Leader, Ian Clement, was found to have helped himself to taxpayers’ money it was ruled ‘no crime’ in Bexley and reports were that Ms. Hogan recommended he was not prosecuted.

Shortly afterwards it was discovered that Clement had pulled the same trick at the GLA, albeit for only one tenth of the amount of money. They took appropriate action and a suspended prison sentence was handed down.

In Bexley, Council crime does pay.

 

18 May (Part 2) - Officially gone

PollardSo the old news is now official, Joe Pollard has been expunged from the list of Bexley Councillors and there is to be a by-election on 30th June.

I don’t know much about Joe Pollard, The Tory contingent with barely a handful of exceptions prefers to remain aloof and generally unfiendly - or even downright rude, but when chairing meetings Joe Pollard always treated members of the public with respect. Many don’t.

It seems odd to me that a Council constantly pleading poverty would choose to have an election just a week after the European Referendum. You would think they’d want the economies of scale that comes from running two together. There must be an ulterior motive somewhere.

Probably all the retired gentry that make up the bulk of the local Conservative Group will be out canvassing every day while those in other parties who have to earn a living will be restricted in what they can do.

UKIP did pretty well in St. Michael’s ward two years ago and Chris Beazley has undoubtedly made far more of a splash since then than Councillor Newton who attends Council meetings but contributes nothing.

 

18 May (Part 1) - It’s chaotic by design

Crossrail CrossrailJust when you think access to Abbey Wood station can’t get any worse along comes Network Rail and proves you wrong.

This morning the old walkway over the Harrow Manorway flyover was sort of closed. The old metal barricade had been replaced by plastic cones and the official route transferred to the eastern side of the flyover.

The able bodied coming from Felixstowe Road will have an even longer walk to the station and those in wheelchairs or with buggies too big to carry down the Gayton Road stairs must not only take the half mile detour but cross the main road twice.

But don’t bother, the path is not wide enough for a wheelchair anyway. (Photo 2 above.)

Similarly anyone finding themselves near to Sainsbury’s requiring a bus into Thamesmead will have their short walk to the bus stop doubled in length and complicated by a double road crossing. Or alternatively take the unauthorised (old) route ‘at your own risk’.

I was tempted to title this blog ‘Utter lunacy’ or similar but as I have yet to come up with a better solution I’ll refrain from doing so.

Presumably the coned off walk way will have to be retained to allow contractors into the high level station site but it’s not the easiest of routes for those wishing to merely cross the flyover on foot without disrupting the traffic flow.

There are places where pedestrians and road traffic are forced to share the same space. See Photos 5 and 6 of those below.

All the best viewing areas are even less accessible than before. Maybe it’s a good excuse to give up on photographing progress.

From a brief observation this morning bus drivers might not yet be fully acquainted with the revised situation. Several went straight past the new stop (only one) and were unable to use the old ones (two). Maybe no one wanted to get off but that would be unususal before eight in the morning when these pictures were taken.

I suppose it has got to be done but it is not surprising that people have been saying at the Liaison Panel meeting that it’s a lot easier for Thamesmead residents to get the bus to Woolwich and forget all about Abbey Wood.

The traders in Wilton Road have been saying much the same thing at their Association meetings too and they get no compensation for their loss of business.
Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail
Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail

 

17 May - Dividing the spoils

There is to be a Council meeting tomorrow evening. Nothing exciting, no questions allowed, it is just the Annual General Meeting which sets out which plum job is to be done by whom for the next twelve months. It’s an indication of who has not blotted their copybook too badly with their esteemed Leader, likely once again to be Teresa O’Neill if the gossip machine is in proper working order.

Speaking of machines in proper working order, a box of computer bits was delivered to me last Wednesday and this evening it is finally more or less a fully working PC. It takes a couple of hours to bolt it all together and install Windows 10 and then days on end to install all the software and configure everything to one’s liking. In between the normal household chores of course.

Council news has been in short supply over the past week which has been a blessing because some of the blogs had to be cobbled together using two crippled computers. One was doing the graphics, another the page layout and a flawed software update crashed the ftp facilities on both. All is well now - I hope.

 

16 May - To Bexley Council openness is an anathema

It is seven weeks since the Maxine Fothergill business was last mentioned here. Time flies!

Councillor Fothergill has apparently not appealed against being found guilty of conferring financial advantages on herself, certainly there has been no appeal hearing.

Bexley Council went into extreme secrecy mode on this case as well they might, persistent enquiries revealed that there was no complaint against Councillor Fothergill, at least not a valid one under the Localism Act that would justify convening the Code of Conduct Committee. The complaint was not in writing.


CEOI understand that it has taken five emails over three months to establish that fact and a resident trying to get at the truth has in mind seeking a Judicial Review to establish whether or not Bexley Council is free to vary the Localism Act - by accepting a complaint not in writing - if it is so inclined. Obviously the complainant would like to have all his questions answered before making a judgment on whether or not to take that step.

He is up against Bexley’s Acting Chief Executive who is determined not to have his Council judged and has done what Bexley Council always does when boxed into a corner. He has asked the complainant to “refrain from submitting further correspondence” to avoid being declared vexatious and thereby having his enquiries ignored.

The scoundrels have a whole armament of dirty tricks placed at their disposal by successive governments which have failed to see that Local Government is both incompetent and corrupt. Few more so than Bexley.

 

15 May - Another two weeks of Crossrail pictures

There’s not a lot to show for the weekend North Kent railway line closure, just a few more ‘biscuits’ - as I heard them called - put in place to span the tracks ready to support the new Abbey Wood station, but there are still some gaps.


Crossrail CrossrailThe past week has seen the piling machine move from along Alsike Road to within the station confines giving the flats at Chantry Close one hell of a pounding. (Photo 2.)

The fortnightly set of pictures is in the usual place.

 

14 May - Typical Bexley

Two weeks have gone by since the last report on Lesnes Abbey and one has to look hard for signs of progress.

The path to the pond dipping platform is nearing completion but the platform itself is no different to when it was installed last month. Neither is the five way junction of paths in the centre of the park which appears to be awaiting a decorative insert.

There has been progress on the roof of the visitor centre which was due to open last January or next month dependent on which Council propaganda sheet one believes.

The roof has been covered by grass, twice or three times dependent on which dog walker one listens to.
Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes
Some have been sufficiently concerned about the delays to make enquiries at the Council Offices or with officials who they now recognise on site.

It would appear that no one on Bexley Council had the forethought to build some dates into the contract, they lack management skills and we will be lucky if the park and Visitor Centre is completed by September.

I’m sure it will look nice but who will mow the roof?

 

13 May (Part 2) - HMOs. Thanks to Bexley Council it could be your turn next

The assumption that I can answer all the questions about events in Bexley is entirely wrong. I know something about quite a lot but it is frequently superficial knowledge. There is simply not enough time to delve into everything and complex issues tend to fall by the wayside and go unreported as a result.

The recent interest in Homes in Multi-Occupation (HMO) caught me unprepared. It’s obvious enough what they are but how any licensing system might work both nationally and in Bexley was a total mystery; but I had a bright idea.

My MP Teresa Pearce refers to herself as a Member of Labour’s Housing Team, she should know about HMOs, so I asked if she had a simple explanation. This is the gist of what Teresa had to say…


An HMO is a property rented out by at least three people who are not from one ‘household’ but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. Large HMOs must be licensed.
A property is defined as a large HMO if all of the following apply:

• It’s rented to five or more people
• It’s formed of more than one household
• It’s at least three storeys high
• Tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities

A large HMO must meet certain standards but many properties of only two storeys are HMOs with no licensing requirement.
To combat this the Government introduced legislation in April 2010 that changed planning law and created a new Use Class of ‘C4’ or House in Multiple Occupation. Previously small HMOs fell within the ‘C3’ or Dwelling House Class.
This change required all landlords to gain planning permission before they could let what was a formerly used as a family house (C3) as a small HMO (C4) housing between three and six unrelated sharers. This is known as a ‘Change in Use’.
Where an Article 4 Direction is in effect, a local authority may not demand a fee for associated planning applications.
In October 2010 the Coalition Government amended the legislation. They included a ‘Change in Use’ from C3 to C4 within the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO). This allowed landlords to change their properties from a C3 Dwelling House to a C4 HMO without the need for planning permission.
They also gave local authorities the power to remove permission for the C3 – C4 ‘Change in Use’ by means of an ‘Article 4 Direction’. Councils have used this to designate whole areas and limit the number of HMOs in a geographical area.


It seems that Bexley Council has opted out of the Article 4 Direction and therefore landlords are completely free to establish HMOs in ordinary houses so long as the dwelling is no more than two storeys. You could wake up tomorrow and find one next door to you.

If I had to guess why Bexley Council is not interested in Article 4 I would say it was because licensing implies an inspection and that would prove costly but unlike Part II of the London Local Authorities Act 1991, there is no provision for the rip off charge which has tempted Bexley Council into a belated attack on small businesses. The Nail Bar Tax.

It’s not hard to see why some people are upset with the effect of Bexley’s ‘know the cost of everything but value of nothing’ approach to economics and without regulation, and with Bexley’s reputation for relatively inexpensive housing, HMOs could spread rapidly. But be careful what you wish for.

As a housing authority Bexley Council benefits from HMOs - less pressure on them. If they become a problem it would be perfectly feasible to ban HMOs in certain areas, like Sidcup and Old Bexley, and anything North of the Bexleyheath railway line could end up taking the brunt of it.

Multi-Occupancy has become the norm in some areas, I think my aunt’s garden in Newham may be the only one in her road which does not include a barely habitable Sky TV equipped shack erected to house the overflow of people. It’s not just garden sheds you can see in the Google Earth image below.
Newham
There are simply too many people and not enough affordable houses.

 

13 May (Part 1) - Apparently it is true

PollardCouncillors have begun to confirm yesterday’s report that their colleague Joe Pollard has indeed emigrated.

I suspect that it will be kept secret for as long as possible so as not to have the by-election on EU Referendum Day. Bexley Council is fairly obviously anti-EU at the top and it would appear to be the case that a low turnout would favour Brexit, so risking a higher turnout because of a Council election on the same day may not be favoured.

In practice the St. Michael’s ward residents are unlikely to tip the national balance either way.

Incidentally, one of the motives for deciding three weeks ago that BiB should not be even-handed in the EU debate was to see how many complaints it might generate. I have to report that the number has now risen to one.

Probably that is not a reliable statistic. I have a feeling that whilst being pro-Brexit might annoy some readers enough for them to drift away, only the extraordinarily petty minded would actually go the whole hog. Not just Unfollowing and Unliking on Twitter but going to the trouble of writing to tell me about it.

So that’s one reader definitely lost for all time! I don’t like smoking , tattoos or cheese. That’ll be well over half the readers gone now.

 

12 May - Is Bexley so badly run that even the Councillors run away?

Any old iron
CouncilBexley Council issued a warning yesterday to the effect that Bexleyheath Broadway would once again be congested due to the so called regeneration work.

A reader commented about the amount of dangerously protruding ironwork and said that motorists were swerving to avoid it. Get yourself down there with your camera, he said.

So I did at around 2 p.m. this afternoon but traffic was very light with no sign of any contractor activity.

It’s not easy to get a photograph that satisfactorily illustrates the raised ironwork and light though the traffic was I didn’t fancy lying down to get a worm’s eye view.


Iron IronI didn’t see anyone swerve but I did see an old banger go over a manhole cover at a speed that almost certainly broke the limit and there was a metallic scraping sound.

Why readers continue to be amazed that Bexley Council leaves all sorts of hazards around the place I really do not know, but it is good that they still report it.


The floods
FloodWhile on the journey home from Bexleyheath I realised that badly maintained drains and the consequent floods are ten a penny in Bexley. I passed this one on foot as quickly as I could.


Adding insult to injury
ParkingSo far at least the proposed hole in the road which caused the Fendyke Road parking bays to be suspended appears to be entirely outside the bay boundaries.

The eastern extremity of the three parking bays is adjacent to the road sign, you can just see the faded white line in the enlarged picture. However as is fairly obvious, the road works are a fair distance away.

Probably it’s more unnecessary parking restrictions for the beleaguered traders in Wilton Road.


Ye Olde Leather Bottle
Leather BottleA recent picture of Ye Old Leather Bottle site complete with a wall to rival that in The Game of Thrones.

A Demolition Application appeared on Bexley Council’s Planning Portal today. (16/00958/PRIORD.)

The developer plans to knock it down on 16th June.


Bexley is Bonkers is not Bexley Council
Every few months someone writes to BiB as if it is Bexley Council. This one caused some amusement.


Get my waste collection sorted will you!!
Your contractors keep leaving full bins.
I’ll leave them on your office doorsteps maybe you’re happy to wait two weeks for someone to take it away when they’re full of nappies. I’ll bring my SIX (six bins I still can't believe it) bins round, then maybe you can have the pleasure of the smell and picking up tins ‘n’ food every day!!!
Sort it out!


Six bins is a bit ridiculous isn’t it? My cousins in Waltham Forest were scathing when their Council introduced a third bin. They couldn’t believe I had six!

Maybe the complainant should have filled in the Council’s latest survey form?


All present and correct? Maybe not
Another message had something very different to say…


I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now. To start with I didn’t believe some of the stuff you were posting about the Tories in Bexley but the more I find out the more shocked I become.
I have heard from someone close to the Council that there is a Tory Councillor who is standing down in St.  Michael’s ward.
I don’t know whether it is true but apparently they are moving abroad and have already left the country. Shouldn’t this cause a by-election?
I was told that the Tories don’t want to announce because they want to avoid it happening on the day of the EU referendum. They are running scared of UKIP whilst we pay for Councillors who are leaving or may have left.
What a joke.


PollardNothing has ever been made up on Bexley is Bonkers, what would be the point of earning a reputation for spreading falsehoods? As for the report that either Caroline Newton or Joe Pollard has left the building, I have no idea.

Councillor Newton spoke at the last Council meeting and Councillor Beazley (UKIP) is definitely still on the scene, I saw him in Broadway a couple of weeks ago. Not so sure about Councillor Pollard but here he is (see Photo) half hidden in the crowd at the last Council meeting.

I have put out a few feelers on the subject but without response so far.


Multi-occupancy homes
Several messages have introduced a new subject. It seems that whilst Bexley Council has seen the money making opportunities in their new Nail Bar Tax they are not so keen to licence landlords.

If a single house is rented out to several families it may require a licence. Part of the check list is reproduced below
HMO

Click to read it all.

I don’t quite get Item 3. “Is your property rented to one family household?”

If “yes” it may be multi-occupancy. It makes no sense to me and until it does I offer no comment except that several residents are claiming to be suffering from poorly run houses next door to them and there is a petition against it. A fat lot of good a petition will do in Bexley!

Having seen at first hand what can happen to a neighbourhood when people with different standards and cultures move in I can well understand the apprehension.

Bexley Council’s webpage.

 

11 May - No way in. Send for Noah!

FloodBexley Council is simply disgracefully incompetent and totally neglectful of the north of the borough.

Once again there was no dry way into Abbey Wood station this morning. The constant stream of commuters descending the Gayton Road stairs was confronted by the flood that blocks the end of Gayton Road after every spell of rain, not that there was a great deal in Abbey Wood yesterday, just enough drizzly stuff to be a nuisance. I heard of downpours not far away but managed to do all my business locally without actually using the umbrella.

As stated many times before, this perpetual flood has been a feature of Gayton Road where it joins Wilton Road for all of the 29 years I have lived nearby and it really is about time the useless Bexley Council fixed it.


Flood Flood Flood Flood
The water laps the doorsteps of the nearest houses and has been in the shops on occasions but Bexley Council does nothing. Can you imagine that happening if it was Bexleyheath station that became an island?

Maybe the £6 million of public realm work allocated to the station area for the Crossrail improvement will sort it out, but probably not if some serious underground work is not taken on by Bexley Council first.

Photos 2 and 5 by Brian Barnett.

 

10 May (Part 2) - It pays to be vague

I hate it when Bexley’s parking instructions are not clear and they seem to make a habit of it. Three years after its installation the trap in Abbey Road, not far from Abbey Wood station, still rakes the money in. It’s just going up another 10% to £4.20 for two hours.

There is absolutely nothing to say that you can only pay to park at the two extremities of a 120 metre long bay; the middle section is reserved for permit holders.

There is a faded white demarcation line but its significance goes totally unmentioned and in any case a permit holder may legally park on top of it and obscure it totally. But it’s a nice little earner so Bexley has done nothing to remedy the situation.


Fendyke Road Fendyke RoadWhen I go on my weekend Crossrail photographic outings I very often take the car and park where shown in the picture. I’d normally walk but four or more trips in a day can wear my poor little legs out and it’s handy to have the car for when railway activity is visible well to the west of the station.

The bay is long enough for three cars only if they are all small ones and even then it is very often filled by only two due to careless positioning. Not that Bexley Council helps the situation with a marked bay that extends over someone’s dropped kerb. A nice opportunity for an officious traffic warden to earn his incentive bonus.

From tomorrow the bay is going to be shut for a week, but only two thirds of it. The notice says “Parking suspension 2 bays closest to No. 11 Fendyke Road”. I suppose that once there is a hole in the ground it will be obvious which end is closest to No. 11 without going on a short hike but how long is one bay and how will an early morning motorist in a large vehicle know if he is backed over the imaginary line that marks the middle bay?

When there is a risk of a £60 fine it would be nice if Bexley could be a little bit more precise with their instructions. How much is a parking fine these days, Bexley’s website doesn't seem to say?

 

10 May (Part 1) - Mind how you go

HumpThe Bexley Village bridge across the River Cray will partially reopen today about six weeks later than planned. A lot of work must have been done in the past few days as it looked like a bomb site a week ago.

Southbound only for another month during which bus diversions will continue. TfL had this to say - although it stated that the changes would operate from tomorrow, not today.


Bus routes 492, 601 and B12 towards Bluewater Shopping Centre, Thamesmead and Erith will continue to be diverted via local roads and the A2 as shown on this map. Free changes for affected customers will continue. Bus routes 492, 601 and B12 towards Sidcup, Wilmington Schools and Joydens Wood will return to their normal route.


The 601 is the morning and afternoon schools service.

If you are driving through Bexley take care over the speed humps, some are tyre shredders.
Bridge

Unfinished bridge photographed 4th May 2016.

 

9 May - By special request…

While things are quiet, here’s a short video. It’s amusing, and very well done with some excellent animation.

The only connection with Bexley is that a Bexley Councillor asked me to stick it here. I suppose that could be any of the three Ukippers and from what Council meetings and Twitter has revealed, almost any of the Tories; but wild horses etc…

 

8 May - No more CCTV

While Council news is in short supply email enquiries stand a much better chance of being followed up.

Last week someone emailed to say that new CCTV cameras had been installed along Bexleyheath Broadway. I suggested that they may be the new mobile units, four of which Bexley has ordered.


Not CCTVThe reply said that there were far more than that so I went along to take a look, somewhat sceptical because Bexley Council has no spare cash and monitoring CCTV is expensive.

The ‘cameras’ are on almost every lamp post from outside Asda to past Lion Road and if I had known how small and high up they were I would have taken a longer lens but fortunately a large blow up is just about good enough. It reveals they are not CCTV cameras.

The units are labelled Newlec NL921 and Google will tell you that they are waterproofed 13 ampere power sockets.

There was a comment on the BIB Facebook page to the effect that there were cameras on telescopic poles but I couldn’t find those.

Speaking of email enquiries, a filing blitz today has revealed quite a lot unanswered. One is addressed Dear Bexley is Bonkers Team, if only!

 

6 May (Part 2) - Road planning idiots running amok again

Bexley Council has spent a lot of money over the years making Abbey Road in Belvedere narrower. Dangerously narrow in places. The section opposite Lesnes Abbey can be particularly difficult during commuter parking hours.

Buses wait for each other to navigate the pinch points and impatient motorists ignore the Keep Left islands in an effort to maintain their speed. This is particularly disconcerting for pedestrians about to step off the refuge and who have only looked left.

Half a mile to the east outside St. Augustine's church, Abbey Road can again be a little tricky and anything larger than a small car has to travel on the wrong side of the road around a blind bend. Bexley Council aims to make things easier. Probably the verdict on that should be reserved but their track record is not good. When did you last see a really well designed new road in Bexley?

Today Bexley Council’s incompetent road planning is not the issue up for discussion, the concern here is their total lack of consideration for anyone on wheels while the work goes on. Or any sense of what the consequences of their plan might be. Or any sense at all.


St. Augustine's St. Augustine's St. Augustine'sThe Council plans to close Abbey Road totally for a whole month while a new pedestrian refuge is installed. Why? Does the North have to suffer to balance the pain inflicted on Bexley Village?

The official diversion starts nearly a mile away in Abbey Wood. It goes up New Road to Woolwich Road, along to Belvedere Police Station (Nuxley Road) and then down Picardy Road.

New Road is already one way traffic during commuter parking times as anyone who uses the B11 bus will know. It gets stuck at the bottom of the hill regularly. Picardy Road is already near impassable at the best of times as the pictures below illustrate. (Taken at 2 p.m. today.)

The 401 bus uses Picardy Road eight times an hour causing chaos in its wake and there is nearly always a queue to get back on to the B213 at the bottom end. Bexley Council staff reported to the Planning Committee when they were considering the new Asda store that approval would push traffic congestion there right up against the acceptable limit. They were not wrong.

If Abbey Road is closed, everyone living from St. Augustine’s through to Abbey Wood (and those in South Thamesmead who walk over the railway footbridge) will be deprived of a bus service. It will not be only eight buses an hour on Picardy Road, it will be 28 buses an hour. More in the rush hour. It’s not going to work is it? A bus every two minutes on the steep, narrow and bendy Picardy Road. The ‘Working for you Council’ is comprised of blithering idiots who work to make things convenient only for themselves.

St. Augustine's St. Augustine's St. Augustine's St. Augustine's
The work is likely to start next week.

 

6 May (Part 1) - Crawling up the greasy pole sniffing out more truffles

For some reason I wasn’t the slightest bit interested in the GLA election and except for the names Goldsmith, Khan, Whittle and Bacon I didn’t have a clue who the candidates were, nor did I care.

All I knew about the foursome was that I heartily disliked Goldsmith and Khan but not as much as I disliked Gareth Bacon who has proved himself, before my own eyes, to be unworthy of any elected position.

However, whatever I think, it was inevitable that Bacon would take the Constituency Assembly seat for Bexley and Bromley. A blue monkey would be elected in Bexley and Bromley and probably it has been - or maybe a pig.


BaconGareth Bacon is only interested in how much money he can take from the public purse which may be necessary if the CPS ever gets around to charging his wife with Misconduct in a Public Office and he has to hire an expensive lawyer.

However, whilst even a thoroughly useless Conservative can be elected here, it didn’t all go Trougher’s way.

In 2012, James Cleverly standing for the same position took 88,482 votes out of a total of 170,875 cast. (52%.)

Yesterday Gareth Bacon gained only 87,460 votes out of 191,502. (46%.) Cleverly went on to be MP for Braintree. I expect Bacon has his eye on the same greasy pole.

There was a 6% swing to Labour on Bacon’s patch but the big winners in Bexley and Bromley appear to be UKIP, 30,485 votes this year and none in 2012. They had no candidate then.

 

4 May - Cray, Crooks, Children, Cloisters and Crossrail

Bexley Village bridge
The Cray bridge works are a little off the beaten track for me but most days I get a report from someone who gets caught up in the traffic disruption as far away as Penhill Road. It’s horrendous apparently, it must be doing wonders for the borough’s economy.

Twice the partial reopening has been deferred because Bexley Council’s inadequate survey failed to discover hidden snags but only another month to go now, barring more incompetence.

I found myself in Bexley this evening so here’s a few pictures of what is going on.
Bridge Bridge Bridge Bridge
Bridge Bridge Bridge Bridge

The Nasty Party

HarassmentNothing much has happened since the police harassed the family living next door to Councillor Massey’s rented house in Sidcup. The householder had previously asked the police for advice on a noisy all night party at the Massey’s place. As a result of what the police could hear down the phone, they decided to pay a visit.

With the complainant’s consent the story was reported here and it seems reasonable to assume that the police were asked to get heavy. Who do you think might indulge in such revenge?

Police procedures are clear enough; those accused of harassment must be told exactly what they are accused of so that they have every opportunity to modify their behaviour. The falsely accused neighbour asked Bexley police for a copy of the complaint against them. They were made to fill in a request form three weeks ago and told they’d get a copy of the complaint against them within a couple of days.

They are still waiting and the latest advice is that it will take 40 days to provide a copy of the complaint the Massey’s were said to have made against their long-suffering neighbour.

All is now becoming clear. A properly executed Harassment warning requires the issue of a Form 9993 and a written statement of what the alleged offence is. How else is the accused supposed to know what the problem is?

No such form has been issued. It looks likely that someone reminded the police that their first duty is to protect Bexley Council and suggested the frighteners should be put on an innocent resident. This is how Bexley police has operated in the past although I had hoped they had learned their lesson.

The 40 days is the period allowed for a Subject Access Request to be made under the Data Protection Act. If no Form 9993 was issued Bexley Police will be hard pressed to come up with any reason for putting the screws on the Massey's neighbour. If they cannot provide evidence that the Massey's made a formal complaint, albeit a malicious one, and there was nothing more than a word in a receptive ear, it will become clear that Borough Commander Jeff Boothe’s force is still in the business of jumping to Bexley Council’s tune. The case will inevitably go to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

I’ve been down that path rather too many times. I was with two police officers from the Directorate of Professional Standards only last week pursuing a case of Misconduct in Public Office against former Borough Commanders Stringer and Olisa. Mick Barnbrook has a case outstanding against CS Ayling who followed them to Bexley and it would be unsurprising to see the fourth successive Borough Commander go down the same route.

Police officers must be absolutely mad to leave themselves open to such serious allegations just to protect their crooked Council friends.

The noisy party definitely took place, pictures of it were plastered all over social media.

Bexley Social Services
I have been following several cases of families who have had children stolen by Bexley Council, which is generally speaking a subject that does not lend itself to publicity due to confidentiality and court proceedings.

However it is good to report that in the longest of the cases brought to my attention, Bexley Council has been ordered by the Ombudsman to apologise to the mother for the treatment they dished out to her. It was quite appalling. She still hasn’t got her child back though.

Lesnes Abbey
I said recently, on Twitter, not here, that the last news I had from Bexley Council for when they might finish spending £4·2 million on Lesnes Abbey park was the end of June, I suppose I should add 2016 bearing in mind just how far behind schedule the project appears to be.
Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes
It certainly looked nice today in the Spring sunshine and the view towards the city was much improved over that at the weekend.
Panorama
However the reason for returning to Lesnes Abbey so soon after the last time was that a number of people have told me that their recent enquiries to Bexley Council revealed that the project is unlikely to be completed before the end of August 2016.

Trains will be running from the new Platform 2 at Abbey Wood station before then and it doesn't exist at the moment, not even the foundations.

Crossrail
Crossrail CrossrailAnother bit of misinformation was the statement that track piling behind Coptefield Drive finished a week early. The news came from Crossrail, not Network Rail, exactly a week ago. It was wrong. more piles were delivered today and the banging went on all morning.

Network Rail confirmed today that there is more to do but the piles are only being thumped into the ground where their surveys showed ground conditions were unstable. I suspect their surveys are more reliable than Bexley Council’s.

If you click on the second image you can see when trains will be running during May weekends.

 

3 May - You simply cannot trust the blighters

Old Farm Old FarmBiB is a bit behind the times with this one, but in case you too are not bang up to date…

When Bexley Council decided to sell four parks at the Council meeting last month, Mrs. McManus of the Save Old Farm Park campaign asked Cabinet Member Linda Bailey what the dimensions of the SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation) would be.

She was told twelve metres wide alongside the railway line. Cabinet Member Craske repeated the figure at the same meeting. The implication was that twelve metres was enough to protect the SINC.

Never trust a Bexley Council Conservative.

It transpires that twelve metres does no such thing, more than twice that width would be required to fully protect the strip alongside the railway that Bexley Council planted for the benefit of wildlife only 13 years ago.

You really cannot take anything these blighters say at face value.

Full details on the Bexley Wildlife website.

 

2 May (Part 2) - Painfully slow progress in Lesnes Abbey Park but should be worth the wait

Park view
I shall have to repeat the shot above when the sun is shining and the atmosphere is clear. On the rare occasions it is you can see the skyline from the Olympic Stadium to the Shard at London Bridge.

The only obvious progress made in Lesnes Abbey park in the past week is that the cover has been removed from the repaired well top - if that is what it is - and the carving in the woods has been finished.

The park is looking good and is well worth a visit. It has been busy over the weekend.
Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes


Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes Lesnes
The larger versions of the photographs (click to expand) are annotated with the date they were taken and the carving is shown in all its glory.

A longer report is on the Murky Depths blog.

 

2 May (Part 1) - Contrast and compare

Crossrail CrossrailThe contrast between what Bexley Council is doing to Lesnes Abbey park and what Network Rail is doing for Crossrail, both within a few minutes walk of home, could not be starker than it has been this past week.

If I showed you some up to date pictures of the park, and I may later, you would be hard pressed to see the difference between those taken a week ago. But in that week the developing Crossrail station and the track for a quarter of a mile on either side have been transformed.

The noisy piling which has affected residents in Alsike Road and Coptefield Drive was finished a week early. The new Dartford bound track to the west of the station has been laid, although it won't come into use until the new Platform 2 is completed in August.

The podium across the tracks upon which the new station will be built is very nearly completed and the massive concrete structures that are part of the new Northern ground level entrance are taking shape. They are likely to ensure that there will be no separate Crossrail service track beyond Abbey Wood for a very long time.

Over the past two days huge concrete castings have been dropped into their places spanning the tracks and fitted together like gigantic Lego bricks. One support column that had to be cast on site didn’t quite fit and caused a minor hiccup while it was ground down by about five millimetres.

The night shift was due to continue until three this morning with the possibility of doing a bit more this morning if necessary. However my eight o’clock sight seeing trip showed that everything planned was done.

Meanwhile, Bexley Council is a year late with their £4·2 million Lesnes Abbey job and Bexley Village bridge is not going too well either.

Councils’ inability to do anything properly has been illustrated in another way over the past week or two.

At the Crossrail Liaison Panel meeting two weeks ago, the lighting on the stairs between the Harrow Manorway flyover and Gayton Road - firmly on the Bexley side - came in for criticism. Street lighting is a Council responsibility and there has never been any lights on those 40 year old stairs. Recently the situation has been made worse by Bexley's inability to repair the sodium lights on Harrow Manorway which failed last November.

Network Rail installed some temporary lighting on those stairs several months ago but Greenwich Councillor Steve Offord, who chairs the Liaison Panel, ordered Network Rail to install more.

I seriously doubt whether a Greenwich Councillor has any power to order Network Rail, which is effectively a government department, to install lighting in Bexley, but perhaps his 1,810 votes in Abbey Wood ward have sent Steve Offord slightly power crazy. However, a couple of days later Network Rail installed several extra lights on the staircase. If anything, it is too damned bright there now!

There is no way a council could have organised itself to install new lighting in two days. Good at the talk sometimes but not a lot else.

The weekend’s Crossrail work is pictured here.

 

1 May - It gets worse

The nail tax that is.

Having spent rather too much time trainspotting in recent days, my investigation into the origins of the nail tax has been over-reliant on others, but a message yesterday sparked a vague recollection of something that happened last March.

Whilst it is normal for the Agenda for a Full Council meeting to refer to a report by the Licensing Committee and accept it without debate, indeed the meeting of 2nd March was no exception…
Agenda

Extract from Agenda of main Full Council meeting, 2nd March 2016.

…the nail tax proposal was pulled out and included in an Extraordinary Council Meeting held on the same day. Very unusual and no doubt it was through force of habit that the item appeared on the main meeting Agenda too.

The Extraordinary Meeting was necessary because a new Chief Executive was to be appointed but why the Licencing issue was swapped to that meeting I have no idea. Well I have, closing down debate would have been a priority.

It looks to be a blatant attempt to hide the new tax by ‘debating’ it at an obscure extra meeting called for something else entirely.

Not that there was any debate as you can hear in this recording I made of it.

The recording does not reveal the vote but you may be sure that all Tories voted for additional taxation.

No wonder no one knew what was going on. No one I know of attends Licensing Committee meetings and there was no debate in Council. I imagine some of the usual suspects will be attending Licensing Committee meetings in future.

That Extraordinary meeting was a very secretive affair, its main purpose was to formally appoint Gill Steward as the Bexley’s new Chief Executive. The public was not allowed to know anything about her. A vote approved the throwing out of the public if anything was said about her.

Fortunately that doesn’t matter. Everything you need to know about Gill Steward is here.

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