You soon won’t recognise the place, pubs are disappearing at an alarming rate as owners recognise
that Bexley Council’s primary interest is infrastructure levies and the council
tax base and not the overall wellbeing of the borough.
The Coach and Horses in North Cray Road looks likely to go the same way as the Charlotte in Crayford and Belvedere’s Ye Olde Leather Bottle have over the past couple of months.
Meanwhile, down in Sidcup there is consternation at the prospect of a characterful Edwardian house being demolished.
I don’t think I can add anything to that.
Nearer home but just over the border with Greenwich another monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend is to join the blot on the landscape which is Sainsbury’s Abbey Wood.
Everything you need to know about this proposed dreadful edifice may be found on The Murky Depths blog.
When I first moved to Lower Belvedere in 1987 and was more interested in technology than I have time for now, I was struck by the fact that most people’s television aerials from here to Erith were pointing at Bluebell Hill (Chatham) or in the case of a few optimists, Sudbury (Suffolk), both the home of powerful transmitters. Crystal Palace was blocked for most addresses by the surrounding hills. Fortunately I could see the low powered Woolwich transmitter mast from my front door but as it did not transmit Channel 5 I rigged a large aerial to drag it in from Croydon, from which it came at the time.
Sainsbury’s put an end to that, the TV mast disappeared from view. I’d stopped using it anyway, it only transmits a sub-set of the available Freeview channels and in any case a DIY satellite dish provides a much better signal.
But for anyone in Belvedere or Erith still relying on terrestrial TV from Woolwich, prepare to say goodbye to your favourite programmes.
Absolutely horrible isnt it? 30 storeys of ugliness.
It would seem it has happened again. This message arrived late last night
There was an accident at the Magic Roundabout (junction of Broadway and Albion Road Bexleyheath) this evening. Hardly a surprise, inevitable really. No details known but on leaving Christ Church car park at about 8 p.m. a right turn towards Welling was not possible due to the police having taped off completely across Broadway down towards the Magic Roundabout and many flashing blue lights.
Had to turn left and find an alternative way home. You may hear more details from another source but will probably vindicate what everybody with any semblance of common sense have said that the shared space concept is a nonsense and the sooner the junction is converted to a conventional roundabout the safer everyone will be. But of course Bexley Council Highways Dept. do not have any common sense so more accidents and some deaths will probably be necessary before changes are made.
Anyone got any pictures?
P.S. A report appeared on the News Shopper’s website only a few minutes after the above blog was posted. A police car was involved in the collision.
Thanks to those who pointed out that
the Council meeting I planned to attend isn't on until tomorrow. Definitely a Senior Moment.
I may have not got inside the Crook’s Lodge yesterday but Mr. Elwyn Bryant did a few days ago. He had the thought that as the new Civic Offices cost him and the rest of us £42 million he ought to be able to check out what he had got for the money. Never one to be shy on the telephone, Elwyn gave the Council a call and asked if he could take a look around.
He was very complimentary about the way his request was handled and almost gushing in his praise for Julie Carder the Quality Assurance Manager who conducted the tour.
Elwyn took John Watson along with him which is a little ironic. John is banned by the Buffoon from making contact with Bexley Council because his probing of the Maxine Fothergill stitch-up became too uncomfortable for the cover up merchants, but there he was strutting around the inner sanctum.
The last time Elwyn arranged a visit to the Civic Centre, someone who knew about that visit and had access to the Council's car park CCTV system decided it would be a good idea to write a fairy story about both in the most obscene terms and post it under my name on the web. Councillor Peter Craske had the knowledge and the access and the police traced the source to his phone line. But Bexley police said they had failed to prove the connection. Two borough police commanders are still under active investigation for the lapse by their Directorate of Professional Standards 1,961 days after the criminal offence was committed.
Elwyn took a few snaps, nothing too intrusive, he knows his place, but they provide a few views that us plebs are otherwise unlikely to see.
There is to be a minor Council meeting this evening to interrupt the three
month civic holiday. It is called to discuss the Council’s use of Social Media.
Currently the Council uses Twitter most days and Streetlife very occasionally. Their
main propaganda stream is the Bexley Magazine, allegedly sent to every household, and the
manipulation of the News Shopper. One of their reporters whispered to me while we were
both in the old Civic Centre that they could not cover the
stories in any detail because they had been leaned upon.
There have only been two Bexley Magazines so far this year and the News Shopper appears to be on its last legs. It’s now a South London paper based in Sutton and I have not seen a copy for several weeks; so Bexley Council is correct to assume it must look elsewhere to put out its message.
Councillors have a little knowledge of Social Media, some Tweet on their own account and several of their ward associations spew out their message on Twitter, some reasonable others less so.
Quite often the objective appears to be to rile Labour Councillors which I find more than a little irritating. I voted Tory for longer than most of our Tory councillors and if their efforts look to be counter-productive to me it cannot be good. Maybe they hope to fool the casual observer with a short memory. The majority probably.
Bexley Conservatives’ main Twitter account has taken to using the hashtag #buildingabetterbexley. As if!
When did they ever do anything to make a better Bexley? TfL and the GLA have arguably made a few things better but even those schemes have their dissenters.
Rather a long time ago, before Bexley Council adopted its false slogan about Listening to you, lamp posts were festooned with a similar message. Lamp posts were the Social Media of the 1990s. The message was something like Making life better, I have searched in vain for my filed copy.
For a while I would write to the Council asking how each of their innovations was making life better. They never had an answer and eventually I received a phone call from someone based at Sidcup Manor House who had a better understanding of human psychology than the present incompetent crew. He told me that nothing Bexley Council did was ever likely to improve life for residents, it wasn’t the way that Councils worked. His refreshing honesty persuaded me to give up any pretence at resistance.
Until 2009 when BiB was born anyway!
Last week Bexley Conservatives were regurgitating their Twitter tag of #buildingabetterbexley so I asked if they would kindly let me have a list of things they had built that made Bexley better.
Click either image for a fuller account.
I was rewarded with total silence. The only answer came from one of the more knowledgeable Bexley residents.
I have racked my brain but I really cannot think of anything that Bexley (not TfL) has done since 2006, certainly since 2010, that has improved the place. The nearest I could get was the additional CCTV in the two safest areas of the borough. A sop to their voters but none in Thamesmead where it might have been needed. Academic now, the CCTV system now lies abandoned.
Maybe if CCTV had not been a victim of the cuts the police may have been better placed to find Sidcup’s giant axe wielder or the bank security van robbers in the same High Street. The news that nobody is watching Bexley’s streets any more must be getting around South London’s criminal community.
They are probably more skilled at their chosen profession than the top Council bods are at theirs. On the other hand Bexley Council has the upper hand when it comes to committing a crime and getting away with it.
As you might imagine, I derive a certain amount of amusement from reading about what Bexley Cabinet members do or say publicly. It is so very often hypocritical.
It’s schoolboy humour no doubt to giggle at the thought of Council Leader Teresa O’Neill chairing the Health and Wellbeing Board. It’s much the same when Cabinet Member Peter Craske comments on the prosecution of fly tippers and those who allow their dogs to drop mess across the borough. It’s hard not to conjure up images of the red faced Peter sitting in a police cell or his contribution to the borough’s mess problem by slashing the street cleaning budget
But for hypocrisy Cabinet Member Don Massey takes some beating. A few says ago he made his mark on the Council’s website by gloating over the prosecution of a Mrs. Sims who “blatantly gave us false facts”. She lied to dishonestly obtain housing assistance.
Bexley Council lies all the time. Don Massey isn’t even the most truthful when it comes to his own housing situation or his residential status as a Bexley Councillor.
On his Register of Interests Don Massey still claims to be a Director of Supreme Home Care but Companies House says his outfit was dissolved in May.
He withholds his residential address using, or more likely abusing, the law which allows it to remain secret if he is being pursued by terrorists and the like.
He thinks the terrorist is me. I reproduced a photograph taken at a noisy party at an address in Sidcup, the original was freely available on Facebook, and he was so annoyed about it that he reported me to the police.
He is still up to the same tricks. He reported a Labour Councillor to the Code of Conduct Committee for, according to an anonymous informant, being in possession of a photograph of his daughter. The complaint was thrown out and I am not surprised. If the photo is the one that found its way into my Inbox it is a posed photograph, not a sneaky one taken without permission with a long lens.
The Massey’s must think they are superior to everyone else.
Bonkers has quite
often given a Lesnes Abbey update on a Sunday but I was going to give it a miss
today. Some of the weeds have gone from around the Mulberry tree but apart from
that there has been little obvious progress since the park was last mentioned
on 7th September when Tom Smith gave an excellent
presentation to the
Belvedere Forum. He thought the Visitor Centre would open next month.
The Abbey is back in the news today because a reader tipped me off about the Lesnes Abbey Woods ‘stakeholder’ meeting. There is a brief report on the Park Run website where it is reported that the centre is unlikely to be open for the school half term. Half term begins on 31st October.
That will mean the Visitor Centre will be between a year and 18 months late depending on which original guestimate you believe.
Parking is going to be a problem once Crossrail services begin. Bexley Council plans to make the Abbey Wood Controlled Parking Zone four times bigger which will mean that all the park entrances will be compromised. As there are no houses facing the park on Abbey Road, or for that matter on the upper part of New Road, it seems to me that continuing with the present four hour parking limit would meet the needs of park visitors and deter commuters.
Apart from Councillor John Davey, no Conservative is sympathetic to the parking problem around Lesnes Abbey or in Abbey Wood generally. Bexley’s motto must be ‘If it stops, tax it or fine it’.
As I said, a clash of interests prevented my attendance at
Thursday’s Audit Committee meeting. A pity because I would have liked to have
seen if Chairmanship of a meeting was beyond the limited skills of Councillor David Leaf
(Conservative, Longlands) or not.
All I know about the meeting is that the Agenda reveals that Bexley Council managed to slash its expenditure on services by even more than planned last year.
More than half a million extra taken off residential care, 330k. cut from the fostering budget, 440k. snatched from vulnerable adults and £336k. knocked from the education budget.
But never fear, there is plenty of money left for the Chief Executive to waste and on making it more difficult for residents, me in particular, to attend Council meetings.
At the request of the Bexley Buffoon, Gill Steward, and the Fat Controller, some poor sap has had to draw a diagram of the room showing where residents sit and where Councillors sit. Up to now it has been fairly obvious. Councillors sit on the plush seats and residents get plastic rubbish.
The Buffoon must think we are all as stupid as she is, another of her vanity projects to show how all powerful she believes she is and to ensure the plebs know where they can park their behinds. Click image below to take a look at her pathetic little map.
If you look at the cretin’s map you may note that members of the public are forced to look at the back of Councillor’s heads. It can sometimes be difficult to see who is speaking.
Several months ago, long before one idiot recruited another, Michael Barnbrook complained about the seating arrangements at Council meetings and the fact they make hearing difficult too and was given assurances that it would not happen except maybe in the most exceptional circumstances, but it happens at almost every meeting.
Following the appointment of a mentally challenged Chief Executive he asked what would happen to the earlier promises. The following is part of the reply.
With regard to the arrangement of meeting rooms, it remains our intention to arrange tables in a horseshoe shape where this is practicable and reasonable taking into account the nature of the meeting, the number attending and the room being used.
I shall keep a tally of how often the intention translates into reality.
be coincidence but this morning and every day since
I was blocked in on Wednesday I have seen a Civil Enforcement Officer
down my road on a scooter.
He struck lucky once when a BMW was parked right on a corner, dangerous in itself, and overhanging a neighbour’s drive making access difficult rather than impossible.
I looked up on Bexley’s website how I should have reported Wednesday's incident. Apparently I should have come back indoors, fired up the computer and filled in a multi-page web form. Really helpful.
Whilst the CEOs may be taking a tough line on parking across dropped kerbs, not far away the practice is encouraged. The offending parking bay (Photo 3) was repainted only a month or so ago.
Is it or isn’t it? Abbey Wood station open on Sunday that is.
Abbey Wood station is well provided with information about how the station might look by the time Crossrail services commence in 2018.
What is not so easy to discover is what it might look like in a few days time.
The staff are always helpful, I’ve been using the station since a Four Zone Travel Card was £4·70 and never come across one not keen to please, and they will tell you everything you need to know about when trains will run and when they won’t. Their notices about line closures have probably been a great help to passengers but this afternoon they all disappeared. I had no sooner taken a picture of one (Photo 1) than it disappeared and on enquiry I was referred to the official Crossrail poster.
I went and took a look. Southeastern says there will be no trains tomorrow, September 24th only, and Crossrail says there won’t be any on Sunday either.
When I got home I checked the ‘Crossrail September 2016 update’ which Network Rail sent out at the end of August. It doesn’t mention any line closures, Network Rail call them possessions, at all. They have in previous months but for September, nothing!
It might seem funny if you have no intention of travelling but some nearby businesses, the taxi office and the pub in particular, have to plan their weekends around train travel. It’s the second time this month that Southeastern and Crossrail have got their wires crossed.
Bexley Action Group, Monitoring Group or whatever their name is this week
invited me to one of their occasional meetings. They had an intriguing Agenda.
My decision to exonerate Councillor Maxine Fothergill, some interesting developments with the investigation into the Craske Obscene blog cover up. What to do when the Crown Prosecution Service eventually decides to ignore the evidence against Cheryl Bacon. Whether we were interested in the illegal goings on in Bromley’s parking department, bearing in mind that it runs Bexley’s too; and Akin, I am not a solicitor, Alabi and the Bexley Buffoon all came up for discussion.
I very nearly didn’t make it.
A car drew up outside my house at 16:43 (Photo 1) and although the end of the cul-de-sac was nearly empty the driver chose to block my drive and access to half a dozen other residents’ parking spaces. I took no notice, it is constantly happening. Someone pulls up, does their business within five minutes and goes away. I don’t often use my car anyway so it’s almost never a nuisance. This time was different. SLO4 ADG didn’t go away.
A little after six o’clock I put my car at the end of the drive and started making enquiries. When they failed I managed to find the horn button. I’ve had the car more than four years and wasn’t sure where it was. Is that an offence?
After half an hour I called 101 for advice. The police answered quickly and were sympathetic but said it would not be a high priority call out. Obviously they were right but I was given reference number 34746.
After giving up on the horn there was little option but to wait. A few minutes after seven a woman who I at first took no notice of headed over to the car. I grabbed a quick photo and she asked why I had taken her picture.
She had absolutely no idea that what she had done might be wrong. Her excuse was that she was a stranger to the area and knew nothing about London’s parking regulations. The thought that unnecessarily blocking someone’s drive for more than two hours might be inconsiderate at the very least had never occurred to her. Lagos Logic presumably.
When I said that I had reported the incident to the police she went a little berserk and both she and her son tried to wrestle me to the ground and take away my camera. Just a pair of ignorant savages.
If Bexley Council still had an easily accessible report line on its website they could have made a few bob. If they sent their CEO round daily it might pay dividends too.
I wasted 15 minutes trying to call the police back to tell them the problem had gone away but they never did answer the phone. When I arrived late at my destination I called 101 again and it routed to Kent Police, so the Met’s failure to answer the phone probably sent one of Bexley’s finest on a wild goose chase. They could have done the driver for having no rear windscreen wiper if they had managed to get to Coptefield Drive quickly.
The meeting was far less exciting. One of our number reported that a Councillor had told him that Akin Alabi has no qualifications. Not valid ones anyway. John Watson confirmed that he had spoken to the professional bodies who confirmed they did not know a Mr. Alabi. They were concerned that there might be fraud afoot. Who has Bexley got, sufficiently qualified, to instruct a barrister if Alabi is not a solicitor and cannot do it?
The four year old complaint, upgraded to an allegation three years ago, that Bexley police deliberately covered up the crime committed on Councillor Peter Craske’s phone line, has taken an interesting turn. You would think after all that time that someone from Scotland Yard might have taken a Southeastern train out of Charing Cross before now but that would be wishful thinking.
However it was recently put right when the investigating officer realised that the file sent up from Bexleyheath was incomplete. At long last the penny may have dropped on just how deep the corruption in Bexley runs. I am hopeful that this one will go somewhere but how the Met. will deal with their new Diversity Officer, Victor Olisa one can only guess. He spouted a tissue of lies in front of Elwyn Bryant, Teresa Pearce MP and me to cover up the sins of his predecessors. A slap on the wrist presumably.
John Watson updated us on his Judicial Review application which has its roots in the stitch up of Councillor Maxine Fothergill. Michael Barnbrook spoke of his plans after the CPS’s inevitable whitewash of the Cheryl Bacon affair. If nothing else, if the prediction is right, we will at least know something about the extent of corruption in political circles.
Obviously we all relished the ample confirmation now in our possession that Council Leader Teresa O'Neill wanted to make a known felon a Councillor. (More has come in within the past 48 hours.) Everyone who keeps abreast of the goings on in Bexley will know she is never prepared to see high moral standards triumph over self interest and criminality, but further examples are always welcome.
Sadly, nothing can be done about the illegal parking contracts in Bromley. It could cost tens of thousands in Court fees to challenge them and although the evidence against Bromley Council (which runs Bexley’s parking regime) is compelling there is no guarantee that the judicial system is not just as corrupt as Bexley Council.
There is an Audit Committee meeting tonight at the Crook’s Lodge in Watling Street. Unfortunately I cannot be there, Nigerian parkers or not. Any volunteers? Be careful you don’t trip over the Buffoon’s Barrier.
Houses in Multiple Occupation
Bexley Council has issued its long awaited consultation on Houses in Multiple Occupation. The first step along the long path towards restoring order to a situation that has made some residents’ lives a misery.
Bexley’s Press Release.
What’s their excuse?
It’s well over a year since the police in Greenwich submitted their file on the lies told by Councillor Cheryl Bacon, Bexley’s legal bod Lynn Tyler and the former Chief Executive Will Tuckley to the Crown Prosecution Service.
The evidence submitted was in my view overwhelming and the police evidently took it seriously. They interviewed eight people who I know of and took written statements from more, all of them confirming the general theme that Bexley Council lied their socks off and all to protect Councillor Bacon against a trivial transgression of the law on public meetings. Who really cares about that?
Obviously Bexley Council did because they lied to the press and asked the police to rewrite history. Not so shocking as it might seem now that we know for certain that the Council Leader is prepared to see petty thieves elected so long as they add to the tally of her voting fodder. Literally it is Honour among Thieves and makes one yearn for the good old days when the worst the Council Leader did was fiddle his expenses. (Ian Clement, £2,300.)
Presumably Greenwich police thought a good case had been made, they were supportive of the victims throughout and said they would present the case to the Crown Prosecution Service personally to impress upon them its many alarming aspects.
Since then Will Tuckley has been appointed by government commissioners to run Tower Hamlets Council. Can you imagine the furore if he was hung out to dry?
If I may digress for a moment, I think Tuckley was under firm instructions to cover up for the corrupt politicians by you know who and would have been glad to get away from the Watling Street hell hole. Probably the Bexley Buffoon has landed in the same mess and knows not what has hit her.
So sooner or later the CPS must concoct a reason to dismiss the allegation against Cheryl Bacon et al. More than a year should have given them enough time. Numerous decision dates have already come and gone.
The last that was heard from the CPS was in writing and not via the police as before, and if they are true to their word the decision cannot be far off.
The name of the game now must be what excuse will they come up with to overrule ten witnesses against none. No one who stood up for Cheryl Bacon was actually a witness to her meeting so only know what she chose to tell them.
But Bexley Council has a very long arm when it comes to interfering with the process of law. The Metropolitan Police's Department of Professional Standards is still burrowing into that following Cabinet Member Craske's links to the infamous 2011 obscene blog, and from what they say are coming up with some very interesting stuff.
Trains of thought. Or maybe not
Last Wednesday’s report of a Luton Airport train service from Abbey Wood was quickly repeated on a couple of Greenwich blogs maybe without a great deal of enthusiasm but if you are into trains in a big way the report on London Reconnections is worth a read. (Scroll towards the end.)
They take the plan apart on a technical level, I am much more simplistic. If it is true that the Gillingham via Woolwich Arsenal service is withdrawn the North Kent line will not only lose its connection to Waterloo but also to Blackheath and Lewisham.
If that comes to pass they can brick up the mile long Charlton to Blackheath tunnel. I suspect someone has not thought this through properly but there is a consultation going on. If you can find anything about the Rainham service on it, well done, because I haven’t.
See also Murky Depths and the 853 blog.
Since Mick Barnbrook moved out of town I have not had any reason to travel to Blackfen. A shame because its residents and its woes are not often featured on BiB.
Today that is remedied to some extent by a resident of Orchard Rise West who is more than a little disenchanted with Bexley Council. Aren’t we all?
Orchard Rise residents have had the delights of an abandoned wrecked car on their doorstep, well nearly, for the past six months. Well nearly again.
No amount of reporting it to Bexley Council has had any effect. It’s amazing it isn’t festooned with parking tickets as it is not within a marked bay. The sharp metal edges must be dangerous to dogs and toddlers.
Better late than never
I am writing to the sound of pneumatic drills and for a change it is not Crossrail making the racket. At long last the Keep Left sign in Abbey Road which has been in darkness for more than a year is being repaired.
There was an attempt to fix it on 2nd September but the problem must have been greater than expected because the men went away without effecting a repair.
The new sign is going to be one of those flap down ones but obviously Bexley Council has little idea about the standard of driving that one occasionally sees in the borough.
People in large vehicles think it is fun to drive straight over them and it was only last Wednesday that I saw a 229 bus, in sheer frustration at Bexley’s road design presumably, go round the island on the wrong side of the road. Not the refuge shown here but the next one along.
Never Knowingly Undercharged
As one ages people don’t tend to celebrate birthdays, not me anyway, maybe those ending in zeros perhaps but the next one of those is quite a long way off. Yesterday morning was spent sitting in a dentist’s chair and as a friend had asked for advice on a big purchase we went up to John Lewis in Oxford Street in the afternoon, stopping off at the new London Bridge station to nose around.
Fantastic bit of civil engineering as one might expect but I wasn’t especially impressed by anything else. The hype was just too much, it’s a railway station for goodness sake with, unless I took a wrong turn, an absolutely awful interchange with the Underground. It’s a temporary arrangement no doubt but I was glad the rain had stopped.
In John Lewis we sat in their cafe for a moment to contemplate the decision to drop £4,500 on the chosen items. I was served the coffee you see here, I have no idea what it was supposed to be but at £2 a cup it was undoubtedly a rip off. I am still used to a Lyons Tea Shop where a cupful used to be 5½ old pennies. Two pence to you youngsters.
John Lewis did not get the order, it will go to somewhere that does not sell coffee. It was putrid by the way.
I am under instructions to spend today blowing out candles so this is just a quickie.
My enquiry to the Bexley Buffoon asking how her action to remove the Press Table from public meetings can be justified under Government guidance that says common sense must be applied is still unanswered. This is good, it will save me the rigmarole of a complaint and an appeal. I can go straight to the Local Government Ombudsman. Much easier.
The odd thing is that the FOI King Michael Barnbrook, I think Bexley Council call him something similar, received a response last week. Read it here.
It wasn't complete, the note from Teresa O'Neill to the Chief Executive, giving her instructions was missing but the letter to Councillors and Committee Officers was included. It does however confirm that the action was intended to hit only me. My name is redacted. Revengeful fatty strikes again!
Picking apart its obvious flaws is going to have to wait for another day unfortunately.
of the more difficult things about writing blogs is inventing a title. I try to
make up something short, hopefully witty but perhaps too often fall back on puns or
historical references which are probably lost on anyone born on the right side of 1960.
That was the case with Saturday’s headline. In the 1970s every wall and railway bridge was adorned with a slogan protesting the innocence of bank robber George Davis. In my view the analogy with the Maxine Fothergill situation fails to some extent because although Davis' conviction was unsafe he was undoubtedly a bank robber.
Maybe Saturday’s blog title implied too much, some of my correspondents certainly think so and they would unkindly place Councillor Fothergill in much the same position as George Davis. A known bank robber but unfairly banged up.
It is alleged that Councillor Fothergill has in the past “skated on thin ice”. By the strictest of standards, campaigning for infrastructure improvements beyond one’s own ward boundary offends against the Councillor’s Code of Conduct if they own property in the other area and forget to mention the fact. I doubt many Bexley Councillors are totally beyond reproach and Maxine’s ‘friends’ have spilled a few other beans about her in my direction. However those beans do not begin to compare with the legumes spilled about the senior leadership of Bexley Council.
I don’t know much about the incidental tittle-tattle and I am not sure I need to know, the main focus must be on that infamous Code of Conduct Committee meeting last December.
I did not intend to return to the MF business quite so quickly but apparently readers want to see the anonymous email that rejuvenated my interest in this business. The obvious thing would be to simply reproduce it here but I showed it to someone a few days ago who claimed that the writing style was very distinctive and named a possible author. It’s an identification risk I am not prepared to take, so this is a ‘translated’ version - expanded somewhat to make its meaning clearer - with the last sentence removed because without supporting evidence it is probably libellous.
The Conservative local election candidate for East Wickham was selected at their AGM on 7th February 2014 after the previously selected candidate proposed by Councillor James Hunt was removed from the list. The new man’s name was Daniel Taylor and he was the Civil Partner of former Councillor Chris Taylor.
Daniel Taylor was employed by Councillor Maxine Fothergill at her estate agency in Gravesend. She suspected money was going astray and caught Daniel Taylor on CCTV three or four times dipping handbags and pockets.
Leader Teresa O’Neill insisted that no action was taken but Maxine defied her and reported the matter to the police who very generously took no action beyond a caution.
Whilst Teresa O’Neil was happy to see a thief on the Conservative benches, Ann Morrison the Chair of Old Bexley & Sidcup Conservative Association does not share Teresa O’Neill’s preference for dishonesty and looked at the CCTV footage. She had Daniel Taylor removed from the list immediately.
That information was not used here but it is now corroborated. There had been a blog hinting at the situation in January 2014 and there was a further cautious and somewhat rambling report a couple of weeks later, but validated facts were hard to come by.
The unused anonymous email strongly suggests a falling out between Councillor Fothergill and the Council Leader, and as I know to my cost, Teresa O'Neill is nothing if not vindictive. Although this is the biggest of the fallings out, there are others. It is not surprising that Maxine Fothergill found herself on the wrong side of a disciplinary process.
Quite separately I have information which links to that story which is not anonymous. The original candidate selected by James Hunt was removed by Teresa O’Neill because he let slip that he was not going to be a yes man. The Great Dictator ruthlessly rules the roost. If she did not you can be sure that there would be more anonymous messages such as that above. Her Kangaroo Courts make honest Councillors ill with worry.
48 hours after featuring
the plight of residents of Coptefield Drive and Tunstock Way who have sacrificed their fences and trees to Network Rail, the
company sent me an explanation. Overall I was not hugely impressed.
The letter confirms my assumption that removing conifers does nothing to reduce leaf fall and explains that it became essential because of “the expanded railway corridor” which would bring the drainage system “dangerously close to the trees requiring the removal of some roots”. I accept that is a wholly reasonable explanation.
What isn’t either reasonable or acceptable is that the trees and wooden fences were taken down very nearly a year ago and the residents have been left to suffer the consequences. The old fences were barely adequate but were a good deal better than the wire grid which has been its replacement for the past year. Photo 1 was taken while leaning against the back wall of one of the houses.
Network Rail will come up with all sorts of excuses based on their interpretation of the Crossrail Act. To the west of the new station residents (Photo 2) are entitled to a high acoustic screen at the back of their gardens some of which I estimate to be 80 plus feet long. On the Bexley side they not only get no screen but what little protection they had has been taken away.
The email from Network Rail refers again to the fences being flattened by high winds and denies that their team removed them. There are many residents prepared to swear that they did.
There is no explanation of how it is that the fence still stands where there were no trees or acknowledgement that the gales came after their disappearance and cannot be the cause.
The email also refers to consultations. What actually happened, I have seen some of the correspondence, is that Network Rail notified the land owner, it’s leasehold, and they correctly decided that they were powerless. All they could do was notify their lessees. The Crossrail Act gives Network Rail dictatorial powers and they use them.
Not only are residents now subject to extra noise and vibration they have lost all their privacy too. With the trees no longer there, train passengers have a clear view into houses. The picture below was taken through the rain spattered window of a Belvedere to Abbey Wood train last Friday. The ramps to Bostall Manorway and Church Manorway footbridges have remained closed for a year or more (Photo 4) because one family complained that it allowed views into their bedrooms.
Because east of Abbey Wood is not strictly speaking Crossrail residents there get no consideration. But I suppose that things are just a little better than at Chantry Close (Photos 3) where railway workers can very nearly press their noses against residents’ windows.
Coptefield Drive. The view from the train.
If you think that BiB is showing signs of no longer being a big fan of the Crossrail construction
project you could be right. The past week has changed everything.
It has become much more difficult to take pictures of the Crossrail site. The station building which I increasingly think may be ugly and totally out of keeping with its southern approaches can only be photographed while dicing with death on the flyover. High level pictures of the construction of the Crossrail platform is now restricted by the footbridge rearrangements. All of which was both predictable and inevitable. No problem with that.
But now access has been further restricted. It used to be the case that if one asked nicely you could persuade one of the Southeastern staff to be an escort and so get a sneeky picture from the bridge during a line closure. However Network Rail has decreed that can no longer happen and even SE staff are now forbidden from climbing the steps.
So today’s release of Crossrail photos will probably not be the last but I have lost interest in recording progress daily. The last straw was a Network Rail employee jabbing his finger in my face while threatening to sue me for my photographic activities. I understood his message but the aggression was totally unnecessary.
The residents of Coptefield Drive, Abbey Terrace, Mottesfont Road and all the other places that have been blighted by Crossrail would probably think it was entirely typical Network Rail behaviour.
For the record, there has been no visible sign of any activity in the vicinity of Abbey Wood station this weekend to justify the massive inconvenience of a bus replacement service, or to be more accurate a coach replacement service without disabled access.
Councillor Maxine Fothergill confirmed to be victim of malicious attack by senior colleagues.
If you have followed BiB for more than just a few months you should be familiar with
the mysterious case of Councillor Maxine Fothergill.
She was hauled before Bexley’s Code of Conduct Committee last December and by the end of the month stories were circulating about defrauding an old lady. It was an exaggeration but nevertheless looked like it might be Bexley’s next big scandal. Questions were asked and Bexley Council went into total lock down mode.
Despite their best efforts, or maybe because of them, by the beginning of February Bexley’s story began to unravel. The more one learned the more the case against Councillor Fothergill looked like a malicious perversion of justice. There hadn’t even been a complaint. It had to be a stitch up and BiB began to reflect that view.
Bexley Council's continued evasion accentuated the suspicions that they were up to their usual tricks and by the beginning of this month it seemed appropriate to prefix a statement to each relevant blog to explain what was believed to be the true situation. Maxine Fothergill was the victim not the villain.
But why? What had she done to upset the small coterie of corrupt Councillors that blight Bexley Council?
My email filing system is not perfect as those who never get replies will have guessed and a week ago I tried to introduce some order into a big pile of anonymous messages. It really was a lucky chance but I stumbled across one which provided a lot of detail about a big disagreement between Maxine Fothergill and Council Leader Teresa O’Neill.
One was determined to condone criminal activity, the other one wasn’t, which risked embarrassing bad publicity.
I didn’t use that email which is why I forgot about it. One has to be wary of unsubstantiated stories from the political inner circle, someone might be setting me up for another Harassment charge or worse.
But that anonymous old email, and others I subsequently found, further confirmed my suspicions. They were the missing link that provided a motive for an unwarranted attack on Councillor Fothergill. I had already described the charge against Maxine as “manufactured”, now I was practically certain it was. Trumped up by someone well versed in the art of revenge. Who could that possibly be?
I am embarrassed to say I was initially duped by a thoroughly dishonest Council. I should have smelled a rat when I was told that Cabinet Member Philip Read was the source of some useful, as I believed it was at the time, information.
There is more to this case than may be safely said at the moment but what can be said without fear of contradiction is that the leadership of Bexley Council is more dishonest than you would ever believe.
To which title should perhaps be added a reminder that Crossrail services terminate in
the borough of Greenwich.
The proposal to run a train through Abbey Wood to Luton seems to have come as a surprise to many, even some Southeastern staff I frequently speak to hadnt heard of it but a web search reveals that there have been a few recent references.
The proposal is that the Luton service will replace the half hourly Gillingham to Charing Cross train which doesnt stop in Bexley borough so the fact that the Luton train will not stop at Erith or Belvedere does not represent a loss to those stations. However the sting is in the small print which says "these stations will be served up to four times an hour by Southeastern trains to and from Cannon Street". A big disappointment if true. Erith and Belvedere get six trains an hour at present.
I thought that under the new track layout at London Bridge Greenwich line trains could only go to Cannon Street, but as you know, I am far from being a train expert.
Another web reference says this
The two trains per hour between Rainham and Luton is the interesting service, as it goes via the Medway towns, Dartford and Greenwich.
It gives the Medway towns an additional route and more capacity to London.
It connects to Greenhithe for Bluewater.
It connects to Crossrail at Abbey Wood.
Could this route release capacity in Victoria?
One thing that surprises me, is that it duplicates the proposed Crossrail extension to Gravesend. Perhaps it is just a better idea.
So that’s another suggestion that Teresa O’Neill’s technically incompetent idea of running Crossrail through to Ebbsfleet is not a practical way forward. But the Luton service really does need to stop at Erith and Belvedere. Bexley Council might be better off planning for that.
Rather late in the day I remembered that today is the seventh anniversary of Bexley Council is Bonkers.
It went on line because I discovered that Bexley Council had lied to me and I naively thought
it was something exceptional. How wrong I was, I soon discovered from even the
earliest public responses that Bexley will lie to and where possible be vengeful towards anyone
who questions their decisions.
It was fashionable at the time to blog on whatever subject took one’s fancy so an extra section was tacked on to the website as an afterthought. More than 3,000 blogs later the blog has taken over from the general information pages and the site structure remains somewhat compromised by that original decision.
Yesterday I promised to review the recording of this week’s Transport meeting and after some digital manipulation of the file I have made it audible.
Various subjects are summarised here and the following should be regarded as an addendum to yesterday’s report.
Councillor Tandy felt that the Sub-Groupဲ’s proposals may have assumed that Bexley is a much bigger place than it is. Bexley’s transport guru, Tiffany Lynch, was inclined to agree but said it was the principle rather than the scale that was important.
Councillor Tandy sought clarification on the quoted 78% increase in potential employees living within a 45 minute drive of the Belvedere Industrial estate following the construction of a Belvedere river crossing. Did that figure take account of the crossing? Ms. Lynch said it did. It was difficult to see how it could be otherwise.
Councillor Cheryl Bacon was not entirely happy that the Group’s report favoured “a tunnel (not a bridge) at Gallions and Belvedere”. She thought it wise to be more flexible about the type of crossing.
While discussing Councillor Hackett’s concerns for a Crossrail Tax on his ward residents by way of an extended Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) I thought the usually excellent Tiffany Lynch rather put her foot in it. She said “the permits must be charged for because otherwise the money would have to be found from somewhere else”. This is nonsense. The Crossrail Tax would be a bonus that landed fortuitously in Bexley Council’s lap. Not only that but Crossrail has agreed to fund the installation of a CPZ if the Council decides to go ahead with the expansion. “A survey will be conducted within the next four to six weeks and be very extensive.”
Ms. Lynch went on to say that in some areas there is insufficient room outside houses for every resident to park a car. Showing a typical local authority mindset Ms. Lynch said this was not the fault of the permit system but, by implication, the fault of residents. They own too many cars. The fact that car ownership is higher in Bexley than in any other London borough may be related to the Tory administration being against, until the recent change of mind, expansion of the borough’s transport infrastructure. On the other hand, Ms. Lynch’s idea that a CPZ should not be imposed until after Crossrail opens seems entirely sensible. Only at that stage would there be a public consultation.
Councillor Cheryl Bacon spoke up for more intelligent traffic lights and like everyone else is unhappy with lights operating to a fixed time plan. Traffic lights are controlled by Transport for London. Gareth Bacon is Bexley and Bromley’s GLA member. Maybe Cheryl could put in a good word for Bexley’s hard pressed motorists?
six isn’t a particularly special number but it is the number of days since I
sent a complaint to Bexley’s idiotic Chief Executive Gill Steward about her
decision to withdraw the Press Desk from Council meetings in defiance of
government instructions to provide one if possible and exercise common sense.
Bexley’s own correspondence says that responses to emails should be made in five days but as it considers itself above the law and thinks nothing of calling in favours from their uniformed branch in Arnsberg Way, why should I be surprised that they break their own rules?
I imagine that the Bexley Buffoon is having difficulty excusing her obvious lack of common sense as required by government.
I’ll give it another couple of weeks and then go directly to the Local Government Ombudsman. I doubt it will escalate to one of John Watson’s Judicial Reviews in a hurry but of course it could.
it was sunstroke but I got too many things wrong yesterday. I failed to notice
that the evening meeting was of the Transport User’s Sub-Group and not
the real thing where I had hoped to see the Southeeastern railway representatives squirm.
I also forgot to take my notebook and I forgot to reset the volume level on my sound recorder after reducing it at another venue, so my recording is barely audible.
But it was a very interesting meeting and I am glad I went, even if this report is largely dependent on memory. The meeting was held in a tiny room with no barrier to keep the public (me) away and it was both friendly and well enough chaired by Councillor Val Clark.
The Group had produced a ‘vision’ for the local transport infrastructure. It covered Thames Crossings, railways, riverboat services, buses, trams and roads including cycling.
On Crossings a tunnel is favoured for Belvedere because it causes far less land to become wasted. Land under a bridge cannot readily be built upon. The Port of London is not going to allow bridge support columns in the river which will make the approach roads even longer. This makes a bridge even more expensive while advancing technology is making tunnelling cheaper.
Crossrail is the main railway interest and as you know I am sceptical about the feasibility of an extension to Ebbsfleet. Even Bexley Council seems to be accepting that a four track solution isn’t viable. Teresa O’Neill should not have been so negative about transport infrastructure for purely selfish reasons after gaining the 2006 Tory majority.
A likely big problem after Crossrail services begin is parking. The plan is to extend the existing Controlled Parking Zone from its approximate 250 metre radius to 500 metres. According to my calculations that makes it four times bigger.
Councillor Danny Hackett (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) said that a CPZ was effectively imposing a £100 Crossrail Tax on residents in his ward and that it was unfair that they should suffer in support of the borough’s transport infrastructure. Except for Councilllor John Davey (Conservative, Crayford) none of the Tories agreed with him. Councillor John Davey said the right solution was a single yellow line with a time restriction on it to deter commuters. This however has a serious downside for Bexley Council. They would not be able to clobber the north of the borough with another tax and northerners do not generally speaking vote Tory so who cares?
Councilor Davey who has acquired the annoying habit of talking good sense in recent times said that if the CPZ becomes too big, residents on its periphery in possession of a resident’s permit will drive to the station thus totally screwing up the arrangements for those living near it.
Tiffany Lynch, Bexley’s transport expert recommended not introducing a CPZ before Crossrail services commence so as to be able to better judge what the problems were.
Councillor Colin Tandy (Conservative, St. Mary’s) said that the Sidcup loop line should be pushed as the recommended route to Abbey Wood from the south. He said it only took “ten or twelve minutes” to get from Bexley to Abbey Wood. Unfortunately it takes twice that time and the service does not run in the rush hour. Maybe the Council could lobby for improvements?
Moving on from Crossrail to traditional train services a proposal to withdraw the half hourly Gillingham to Charing Cross via Abbey Wood and Lewisham service was revealed. From 2018 it would be replaced by a Thameslink Rainham to Luton service. Abbey Wood to Waterloo isn’t easy at present and it looks like it is about to get much harder. Bexley Council welcomed the proposal. They could bring back the rush hour Victoria services while they are at it.
Councillor Clark as Chairman who has previously admitted a flawed knowledge of the workings of Southeastern railways thought the starting point might be Rainham in Essex. Presumably there is already a tunnel she is not telling us about.
Despite Bexley’s lack of TfL train services its bus services are generally slow too because all the routes, from the north at least, go the long way around. Nevertheless it was said that about 90% of Bexley residents lived within 400 metres of a bus stop but some have a near 1,000 metre walk. All in Thamesmead of course. And they say it’s not neglected.
Councillor Clark noted that in Greenwich nearly every bus stop has an electronic departure board while in Bexley there are very few. I would go further than that, in Bexley what few there were have been progressively removed.
On roads the Council subscribes to the fashionable view that extra road space can generate more traffic but it is worried about air pollution. Councillor Tandy was the only member present to note that the likely reduction in the use of diesel cars and the move to electric propulsion would mitigate the problems within the next ten years.
Note: Time constraints mean this must be a provisional report pending a thorough review of the audio recording.
While preparing the report on last night’s Transport meeting here’s a couple of things to be going on with.
Yesterday morning the sodium vapour street light outside my house was swapped for an LED unit. It only took a minute or two, I just happened to look out of the window at the right time.
When I returned from the Council meeting at about eight thirty, don’t the evenings get dark early now? and drove into Carril Way, or is it Carill Way? everything looked really dim and a moment later I had to fumble in the gloom for the key hole in the door. First impressions are not good.
However my camera likes it and there is very little sideways light spill. It’s not all that easy to see if the light is on or not when looking directly at it from an upstairs window.
At nine thirty on the morning of 2nd September, two weeks after the year old light failure in Abbey Road was reported, two men were fiddling with the electric cables feeding the Keep Left signs. Unfortunately they still don’t work.
The Keep Left signs in Bellegrove Road probably don’t work either after being hit by a car yesterday. It’s a fairly regular occurrence since the so called Welling Corridor Improvement Scheme was commissioned in 2012.
Here’s another one.
In Sidcup, the Council sponsored shop Sidcup & Co. is to close; at least in its present form. It’s not all bad, it will be taken over by one of the traders who started her business there. Bexley Council Press Release.
Checked your proposed new Parliamentary Boundary yet? There is a nice interactive map on the BBC website. Just enter your postcode. I’ve been lumped in with Plumstead. Maybe I should move.
Doubt is cast on Bexley Council’s allegations against Councillor Maxine Fothergill.
You may recall that John Watson is one of several Bexley residents who tried very hard to
discover exactly what Councillor Maxine Fothergill was supposed to have done to deserve
a formal guilty verdict against her
at last December's Code of Conduct Committee meeting.
The more one discovered the more it looked as though she was the victim of stitch up. She probably annoyed the Council Leader at some time.
Eventually Bexley Council decided it would refuse to answer any more questions on the subject and BiB added the following note to all Maxine Fothergill related blogs.
You may also recall that John Watson
threatened to take the case to Court using Judicial Review procedures.
He failed to reach even the starting block because it was ruled that John did
not have any close personal involvement in the case. He was merely a bystander.
John was eventually banned from contacting Bexley Council on anything at all. Gill Steward at her democratic best.
After due warning which was systematically ignored John has commenced his Judicial Review proceedings against Bexley Council deciding they do not want to talk to him.
The documents were served on the Bexley Buffoon last Friday.
Index to Councillor Fothergill related blogs.
Bexley Council’s dishonesty costs everyone a great deal of money.
It refuses to say whether or not its chief legal officer has any legal qualifications or not. If he had either of those demanded by his job description the Law Society or the Bar Council would happily confirm it but both deny any knowledge of anyone called Alabi.
So keen is Bexley Council to keep everyone in the dark that it has banned questions on the subject from members of the public who think we should know what our taxes are buying.
But the subject is not at yet the end of the road. Mr. Barnbrook sent a fat file to the Information Commissioner to consider.
Index to related blogs.
Bib readers can spot a Council cockup from a mile away and several brought
the new Mill Road sign to my attention yesterday, one was even called Teresa. As
another pointed out to me there is no Mill Lane south of the river, you have to go
at least as far as Wood Green. Oh, sorry, you can’t get across the river in any sensible timescale can
you? That will be the other Teresa.
I am very fortunate in that I don’t have to go all the way to Northumberland Heath to see a silly sign. I pass one several times a day a minute’s walk from home. The double R version has been standing opposite Lesnes Abbey for 30 years, its lesser brethren has been there for a long time too, the original, if memory serves correctly, demolished in a minor traffic collision.
My personal favourite naming cockup was at Crook Log. Most of us know where the Crook Lodge is. It is on the corner of Watling Street and Erith Road.
Apart from the usual complaints about buses and lifts at
Crossrail Liaison Panel meeting and the more serious ones about unnecessary
platform announcements and changed water courses, there was a new one concerning
the increased noise level created by the North Kent line trains running on their
new track east of Abbey Wood station.
The railway line from London Bridge towards Greenwich is the oldest in London. The first section from Spa Road, remnants of which can still be seen, to Deptford opened in 1836 and was later extended to Greenwich which was the terminus until 1878. There were fears that if it went further the vibration would disturb the Observatory and the Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital.
To avoid that the loop via Lewisham was opened which reached the Medway towns by 1849. Where it crossed the Thames marshes from Woolwich to Erith you can be sure that they did not use 30 foot piles and two feet of reinforced concrete as Network Rail has done for Crossrail. Much more likely is that they cut a trench into the peat and filled it with logs.
Over the years it would have compacted but fundamentally the line was built on a sponge which absorbed a lot of the vibration.
As anyone who has ridden a bike with soft tyres will know, softness takes much more of a toll on the leg muscles and similarly a car will use more fuel. It will be the same with a train. A track which has to be compressed by every passing train will add to the electricity bill. A steel wheel on a steel track was one of the things that made railways such an efficient form of transport, much better than the horses pulling carts along muddy tracks which they replaced.
But an incompressible track bed will not absorb the vibrations like compressed peat does.
Although I live some eighty feet from the realigned North Kent track and there is the house opposite in between there has been a noticeable increase in noise levels since Network Rail relaid the track a year ago.
With my windows closed I used to be unaware of passenger trains going by but that is no longer the case despite coincidentally replacing them with triple glazed units. The train wheels now make a whining noise as they go by. You can hear it from the new Platform 1 at Abbey Wood. Although trains can no longer be seen coming since the track realignment, the track advertises their imminent arrival by ‘singing’ in a way it never used to.
It’s the same at home. It’s not really bad eighty feet from the track with another house to shield me from the worst of it but it has become intolerable for those living on the other side of the road.
Since the new track went down I have seen glass ornaments sitting on a glass shelf take suicidal steps towards its edge. I don’t know exactly what causes it but it didn’t happen before Network Rail got to work.
I think one reason for things being noisier than before is that where I can see the trains I can see their wheels too which I am pretty sure never used to be the case.
Since Photo 2 was taken in January this year the tree growth has masked the view and may have cut the noise levels too. Others have not been so lucky.
Many of the houses opposite were screened from the railway by a line of trees planted when their houses were built 30 years ago. All of them were protected by a six foot high wooden fence. The fence was put in when the noise nuisance from trains was far less, not just because of the soft track bed but because far fewer trains were scheduled then. Four trains an hour in each direction have become eight plus the corresponding increase in ‘Return to Depot’ workings and freight use.
Although neither trees nor fences belonged to Network Rail they removed them without consultation in October last year.
Why they did it is hard to say. The trees were conifers so did not create a Leaves On The Line problem and according to Network Rail the track at the eastern end of their works is in the same place as before.
Network Rail has claimed that the fence blew down in the autumn gales but they are mistaken. The fence was undeniably old and in need of replacement but for the most part it was still standing.
There is evidence that there is a big flaw in Network Rail’s protestations of innocence. There are photos of NR removing the trees taken on 25th October 2016 and they prove that the fence had already gone. Storm Barney didn’t arrive until 17th November.
The subject was raised at Bexley’s Transport Users’ Committee last January. A governor of Northwood Primary School which is the other side of the track from where the new complaints are coming from said that the increased train noise brings teaching to a halt. The Network Rail man at that meeting said there will be no acoustic screen to mitigate their undesirable impact on the environment.
Photos taken yesterday show that the most westerly facing fencing which bears the brunt of westerly (or easterly) gales is still standing 30 years after it was put up. Storm Barney toppled an adjacent tree but the fence survived, a house wall took most of the weight. The new photos also show an exact correlation between where fences are missing and where Network Rail took the trees down. Where there never were any trees, the fence still stands. Presumably Network Rail believes that is coincidence.
Network Rail has erected a chain link fence to keep trespassers from the railway but it does nothing to stop the noise. The Bostall and Church Manorway footbridges in Greenwich Borough are still not fully opened because of concerns over privacy. In Bexley no one appears to care that trains pass twenty feet from people’s windows and passengers can look straight in.
Greenwich Council has ensured that its residents are protected from the realigned North Kent line by an acoustic screen all the way from Abbey Wood to the Plumstead tunnel. In Bexley there is nothing even though, except for the three Greenwich houses close to the footbridges, none are anything like as close to the track shown below.
Photo taken while standing with back to the houses which used to be protected by a solid fence and mature trees.
Affected residents are to make a complaint to the Independent Crossrail Complaints Commissioner, Stephen Jolly. I am not significantly affected but I will be supporting it.
It's not even two years since Sidcup saw the end of nine months of late
running chaos in its shopping centre. Has it recovered from the trauma yet?
Probably not which may be just as well because the renewed chaos to come might
then come as less of a shock.
Bexley Council is at it again. Disrupting trade and traffic flows.
It issued a Press Release yesterday. The area that will suffer most is south of the town centre extending towards the hospital. The work is scheduled to take seven months, that's far longer than planned for the last round of disruption.
More on Bexley Council’s website and in the Bexley Times.
Index to previous blogs about the disruption wreaked upon Sidcup.
Yet another meeting yesterday evening, this time it was the Crossrail Liaison
Panel which often gets bogged down in negativity such as overcrowded buses and
the lack of street lighting which is only very remotely relevant to the project
which is going to put Abbey Wood on the map.
Fortunately the Chairman kept a firm grip on proceedings and yesterday’s meeting proved to be one of the most interesting so far.
Once again Greenwich Council was better represented than Bexley. Councillor Esther Amaning (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) had taken the trouble to attend but the only other Bexley presence was Tiffany Lynch who is the Council’s transport planner.
The Network Rail people, armed to the teeth with their Crossrail Act, have an unfortunate tendency to believe they can do what they like, which they can. The residents of Mottisfont Road have been plagued for months by a moving road block which prevents easy vehicle access to their homes. They have to guess which circuitous route might be open. At the last meeting they had asked for the road to be kept open when possible and for traffic light control when work was going on.
They have not seen any improvement and Network Rail’s answer is that it is easier for them to keep their road permanently shut. The Chairman and Councillor for Greenwich’s Abbey Wood ward was not best pleased with what looked like arrogance.
The previous meeting had heard a long complaint from a resident of Abbey Terrace which is close to the western end of the new station platform. The platform speakers are close spaced so that none need to be turned up too loud and they adjust themselves to be 10dB above ambient sound level. Output has been set at the lowest allowed by Network Rail’s own rule book. The Abbey Terrace resident was not present but in his written statement there was a reference to ‘airport style bing bongs’. I must confess I have never noticed them. What must be a nuisance is the constant apologies for late running and cancelled trains and the warning that London Bridge will not be served until 2018.
The situation isn't helped by the fact that there is a gap in the acoustic screen (Photo 1) in just the wrong place but neither is it helpful to claim it is only six feet high when clearly it is much taller than that. It suggests that critics may be inclined to exaggerate. However Network Rail has apparently not conducted sound tests at the complainants home which one would have thought they would be keen to do.
There was scepticism that more speakers leads to a lower overall sound level though it seems obvious enough to me. Taken to extremes Network Rail could get the sound levels down to near zero by installing hundreds of tiny speakers or headphone jacks. Everyone seems to wear headphones these days. Only joking - I think.
However it seems to be inescapable that trains are making far more noise on the new track than they did on the old.
Short of seeking a noise abatement notice from a court there is little that can be done to further reduce the annoyance factor if the volume is already turned down to the minimum recommended level. Chairman Steve Offord did not appear to be very optimistic that it could be done.
Slow progress is being made on the flooding problem in Abbey Grove. The surveying will continue until the end of the year but early indications are that it will confirm that Crossrail work has caused it. A solution will be implemented early next year but ten of the 50 houses have not yet responded to the surveyor’s requests for access.
The main presentation was by Raj Pathak who is a Project Manager for Network Rail. I was rather embarrassed to realise that the man in the smart suit was the same Raj who I have spoken to in the street hidden under a hard hat and dressed like he was auditioning for a Tango advertisement. He must have thought I was even odder than I am.
Raj assured everyone that things were running on time and showed some pictures which were much the same as those that have been published daily on BiB. Exactly two weeks ago the first roof beam went up on the station building and now the wooden support for the zinc roof is about 80% completed.
Crossrail track will start to go down next month and be completed by February. The sidings at Plumstead will be for storing maintenance trains, passenger stock will be parked on the other side of London.
Raj was taken to task by some residents because his boss said at April’s meeting that there would be very few line closures after 22nd August when the new Platform 2 was brought into service. Although that was my interpretation too it was not what was said in June.
Peter Hume (NR Project Manager) said that there would be plentiful closures until the new platform was opened in August and they would extend beyond that. It was only after that further extension that closures would become few and far between. It looks as though optimistic residents, including me, glossed over the detail of what Peter said. My own report of that meeting provides the facts but maybe not clearly enough.
Raj was left to defend his boss from promises he appears not to have made. My notes (and the blog) say one thing but somehow many memories, including mine, were left with something different.
There will be many more line closures before we are out of the woods because the new North Kent line will be used for the delivery of bulk materials for the Crossrail track. As a result there will be no train service at Abbey Wood on
10th, 11th, 17th, 18th and 24th September
1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 29th and 30th October
5th, 6th, 12th, 13th, 19th November
3rd and 4th December
5th February 2017.
Perhaps it would have been simpler to say there will be a train service on Sunday 25th September and Saturdays 15th and 22nd October. On other days there will be a disabled inaccessible bus. Southeastern gave their excuses for that. There are so many rail disruptions at the weekend there simply aren’t enough buses available for hire.
Raj confirmed that there will definitely be a canopy on the Crossrail platform, the original plan and recent rumours said there would not be. There were complaints that he was not cleaning the footbridges at Church and Bostall Manorways as promised but there is ample evidence at Harrow Manorway that its steps are cleaned regularly by Network Rail after years of neglect by the Council which owns them. Maybe Greenwich people are even worse litterers than those in Bexley.
I don’t make a habit of asking questions at Panel meetings because they would usually be technical and probably of limited interest, however yesterday I took the opportunity of asking if Bexley Council Leader Teresa O’Neill’s frequent bragging that she is on the brink of securing a Crossrail extension to Ebbsfleet is something out of Cloud Cuckoo Land. Network Rail has, as I put it, dumped half a million tonnes of concrete where the extended track would have to go. Remove that and the brand new station would collapse and the alternative of reconfiguring Crossrail trains to third rail traction while stopped at Abbey Wood and taking it down the maintenance track to the North Kent line was just a waste of time. Quicker to take the escalators to the other platform.
I had hoped to get a reaction from the Crossrail people but most of it came from Tiffany Lynch, Bexley’s Transport expert.
At the moment it is all talk with bureaucrats from various local authorities, TfL etc. cobbling together a business case for the extension. That, I would have thought, would not be very difficult but what about the new station having to be demolished? I had to guess the answer to that from the pained expressions on Crossrail and Network Rail faces.
Tiffany said she thought it might happen by the late 2020s. The Chairman thought the late 2220s might be more likely.
Taking into account things heard at the meeting, after the meeting and before it, it is possible to deduce that the reason that the original plan to run Crossrail to Ebbsfleet was abandoned is because of Bexley Council’s well known past opposition to infrastructure improvements. They successfully lobbied to have Boris Johnson kill off Ken Livingstone’s bridge and they did nothing to push for a new railway line across the borough.
It was pleasing to note that Tiffany Lynch, unlike the Conservative Councillors she serves, knew the difference between the Livingstone bridge and the three lane motorway thrown out by the Inspector. Bexley Council is conflating the two to mask their many transport policy errors.
If it wasn’t for the efforts of Erith & Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce we might not have the Abbey Wood branch at all. The other Teresa is nothing but a waste of a vast amount of space. The mistakes the Conservatives made when they took control of the Council in 2006 are really coming home to roost now.
On a purely selfish note, with no Ebbsfleet extension, I don’t have to look at overhead electric power lines from the front of my house. The extra noise from the realigned North Kent line is bad enough. More on that another day.
A rushed report missing out much detail but I have to drive through Blackwall again. Wish me luck and curse the one woman road block which is Teresa O’Neill.
I did something I had never done before. I attended one of the Community Forum
meetings that are held occasionally across the borough. My local one is held in
the Belvedere Community Centre which is leased by the Forum from Bexley Council.
In the gloom of the early evening it presented a somewhat austere and forbidding exterior but it no doubt serves its purpose of providing inexpensive accommodation for activities. A youth club, various classes and a place for children to enjoy their birthday parties.
On the agenda were presentations from the police, Tom Smith (Bexley Council) who knows everything there is to know about the Lesnes Abbey regeneration, and Cory Environmental about their much loved incinerator.
The talk by the police was of ‘blink and you will miss it’ brevity and I must have blinked. There was nothing worthy of a report here.
Tom Smith was entirely different, he probably should have gone on the stage with a stand up act, instead of being some sort of bridge between Bexley Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Regular BiB readers will know that the Lesnes Abbey landscaping contractor went out of business in June which has put the brakes on things. (Tom said July so he doesn’t know everything after all!)
However Tom forecast that the Visitor Centre would open by the end of October and showed some photographs that suggested the inside is far more advanced than the ground around it. The building contractor has taken on the landscaping of the area most closely associated with the Centre.
A tender has gone out for the operation of a refreshment bar. Tea, coffee, ice cream and cake but nothing cooked because of hygiene rules, at least that is what I think Tom said.
I would recommend the Abbey Café. It is no more than five minutes walk away (opposite the Post Office) and serves a very nice coffee for £1. I bought a meal in there a couple of weeks ago and there was so much on the plate I couldn’t quite finish it and it set me back only £5·80.
But enough of the adverts.
It was an interesting talk by Tom Smith who told me more about the Abbey’s history than I had heard before but I think the only thing I learned about the regeneration that I had failed to notice was that there are more wood carvings hidden away in the woods than I had so far discovered.
The main news, perhaps the only news, from Cory was that they are going to ask Bexley Council to vary their planning conditions which currently limit the amount of waste that can be delivered by road each year to 85,000 tonnes. Most of it is delivered by boat but there is a possibility that the owner of one of the upstream wharves may close it which would adversely affect electricity generation. The contingency plan is to seek permission to bring in another 110,000 tonnes of rubbish by road which translates to another dozen lorries a day mitigated to some extent by the fact that some of those lorries are already on the local roads taking their loads to alternative facilities.
It seemed to be a sensible move for a commercial organisation to take and a dozen lorries will be neither here nor there once the Thames bridge is built but it produced a vociferous backlash from a tiny minority of the locals. It droned on for ages until the Chairman was forced to put a stop to it.
After that, Councillor Gill MacDonald (Labour, Belvedere) had a few words to say; first about the replacement for the Splash Park and then that the Health & Safety Executive was taking an interest in the demolition of Ye Olde Leather Bottle. However it was not impossible they would take legal action so she rightly decided that no more should be said.
The Council’s plans for the new children’s play area to replace the Splash Park are probably best illustrated by the Council’s leaflet. It is only a consultation document and has already been much criticised so what you see on the leaflet might already be seriously out of date.
Finally a man who objects to the sale of the tiny park at the end of Napier Road asked for support for his campaign to save it. Please object and sign the petition. There was muttering from the back row that Bexley Council takes no notice of petitions but that is of course not a reason not to try to influence the Philistines.
If someone builds on that scrap of land it will create the most appalling traffic hazard because of the adjacent dog leg bend which is only tolerable now because the open space affords a clear view.
The speaker referred to hundreds of people already signed up to his campaign but unless he can find a mine shaft underneath he is going to have an uphill struggle.
The patch of land is so small that it cannot be worth much. It might be a better strategy to start a fund that could buy it when it inevitably goes on sale.
I am old enough to remember times when one might go for a drive as recreation. I have a picture somewhere
(added 9th September) of a family picnic on the grass verge of the A4 next to Silbury Hill in
Wiltshire with the road stretching into the distance. There is not a car to
be seen apart from my father’s parked by the kerb.
An open road with petrol at 4/11d a gallon (five pence a litre), those were the days. Today’s are best avoided and if you can’t avoid them best take things calmly and don’t try to be in too much of a hurry.
Tempting fate but in 54 years of driving I’ve not managed to hit anything yet, nor get done for speeding or parking but idiots are all around. At the end of Abbey Road last Thursday I got stuck behind someone waiting to turn right into Wilton Road. It gets jammed up with cars waiting for late running trains and there is not a lot one can do about it. I, or maybe it was the fellow waiting to turn right, got a long blast on the horn from an idiot in a Smart car behind me. When we started moving again it roared past me and across the Knee Hill roundabout with no consideration for those already on the roundabout.
Something similar happened again today.
A Mercedes YD65 OKO was stuck behind someone stopped to let another driver emerge from Abbey Wood Road opposite as any considerate driver might do. Within seconds he got a long blast on the horn even though it was obvious to all why he had stopped.
Possibly it was an unwise thing to do but the driver got out to ask what the Mercedes driver thought she was doing. It was a polite enough question delivered in moderate tones.
His reward was a torrent of four lettered abuse from the female driver of the car behind. Even as the driver in the red T shirt returned to his car the foul mouthed female tried to squeeze by as you can see from the angle of her wheels in Photo 4.
What I would like to know is how a woman as foul mouthed as the driver of YD65 OKO can hold down a job that pays enough to buy a car like that. I know nothing about cars but it looks expensive to me.
Well I suppose there are a couple of jobs someone might do that pays enough and demands very little intellect in return. Apart from being the Chief Executive of Bexley Council that is.
Click any image to enlarge.
Note: Old photos. A picnic by the side of the A4 road long before the Motorway was built. The photographer (me) could stand in the middle of the road to take his picture, then climb Silbury Hill to look down on an almost empty road.
My bin tax reminder was delivered today after apparently spending twelve days in the care of UKMail.
As already reported Bexley Council is encouraging payment
by Direct Debit by offering a £1·50 discount on the standard £33. Extra bins
cost £30 and it occurred to me that close neighbours could get together and save
a few quid by sharing bin capacity, on the other hand I have had experience of
getting neighbours to cough up what they owe so I gave the idea a miss.
As expected you can sign up on line and the address is www.bexley.gov.uk/gws but a fat lot of good it did me. Bexley’s webpage responded by telling me I didn’t have a bin subscription. How come I was sent a reminder?
I called the phone number and was answered by Bexley’s voice recognition software. It twice told me that it didn’t recognise the phrase “Garden Waste Service” and connected me to the Contact Centre. The system gave me GBH of the Ear ’Ole (a loud high pitched piano noise) but when someone responded seven or eight minutes later, all was well.
It is debatable whether or not the experience was better of worse than signing up to Anne Firth’s Just Giving page but what I can say is that the website works even though it might ask more questions than I anticipated.
In case you didn’t know, the one time Erith and Thamesmead Parliamentary Candidate is going to attempt to climb the North Face of the Eiger or some such equally foolhardy exercise.
She, her husband Edward, and assorted friends and colleagues aim to raise £4,810 for MIND, the mental health charity. Most appropriate if you ask me.
Anna didn’t create a big enough avalanche of votes in E&T in 2015 but she helped set off a big one on the 23rd June. Isn’t one more than sufficient for just one year?
is when BiB usually compares the progress Bexley Council has made with Lesnes
Abbey and what Network Rail has done to Abbey Wood station, but that’s getting
to be ridiculous because the only discernible change to the Abbey park over the past month is that
the weeds have grown.
I thought this might be a quiet fortnight at the railway station following the completion of the second North Kent platform but I was very wrong. Today sees the biggest picture gallery so far showing the daily progress. Unfortunately I missed the two main roof beams going in because of another trip to East Ham delivering essential supplies and yesterday’s action is largely missing too. That’s because I had an invitation to be away on either the 3rd or 4th of September and consulted Crossrail’s published list of line closures. Their poster was wrong, I chose the wrong day and therefore missed the action.
Nevertheless the two week’s of photos include the first train to use the new platform, the wooden jigsaw which when assembled will form the new station roof and the demolition of the old Dartford bound platform. The platform that was extended from 10 car length to 12 in 2012 and never once saw a 12 coach train!
The roof components are being shipped in from Austria and have been hoisted into position by a remote controlled device which I am told is called a Self Erecting Tower Crane. To help with all this hi-tech gear there is a man with a big hammer and a bag of nails. See the 139th photo out of 180.
Despite the generally good news on the Crossrail front it has been a very bad two weeks on the trains. A friend who started a new job this week was late three times, fortunately so was the boss and all because of Southeastern. Or was it?
London Bridge was closed throughout the bank holiday weekend (Network Rail), there was no service to Cannon Street until 2nd September (NR), there were signal problems in all sorts of places (NR) and emergency engineering work on Thursday at London Bridge (NR again).
That was just what I observed while on photo jaunts. Lots of trains were running very late and no one is willing to confirm the sighting of a 12 coach train so over crowding was the norm. Why are there not more trains and more modern trains that might be able to cope with Woolwich Dockyard’s short platform? That seems to be the Department of Transport’s (DfT) fault for failing to authorise the expenditure. The only North Kent line failure I heard of last week that might be attributed to Southeastern was due to a train breakdown at Blackheath but the Class 465 units are 24 years old and that must be the DfT’s fault too.
Train expert Councillor Stefano Borella is welcome to offer corrections if he knows better!
Despite most problems being beyond Southeastern’s control there are many discontented commuters pushing for a TfL takeover. Unless TfL can bring more political pressure to bear I don’t see that as a solution (†) although I would welcome the end of South East London fares tax. i.e. Freedom Passes being invalid before 09:30 and children being charged more.
A friend and two cousins live alongside the Liverpool to Chingford line which was taken over by TfL in May 2015. Their experience of it has not been good but maybe there are improvements on the horizon. Nevertheless the pressure continues and another petition for a TfL takeover of Southeastern suburban services has found its way on to the net. If you are more optimistic for improved services than I am then https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/166062 is the place to go.
† I have been reminded that if TfL takes over the DfT drops out of new train commissioning so the chance of getting new rolling stock improves. Thanks to various transport experts for putting me right.
would be a mistake to think that Bexley’s Conservative Council under the new
Chief Executive reserves all its venom for critical residents, there is plenty
left over for the opposition parties.
If you go to Council meetings regularly you will know that Councillor Francis (Labour, Belvedere) is close to being the opposition, he and Councillor Borella (Labour, North End) together jump to their feet as often as everyone else combined. As such they incur the wrath of the inner circle of inadequates that call themselves a Cabinet.
A UKIP Councillor confirmed to me several months ago that that is the sort of language (see Tweet) the ruling party uses. Goodness knows what they must call me.
I know via several wagging tongues that there is a general instruction not to talk to me and it seems to work quite well. Such is the power of their kangaroo court (there is one) I have never received any significant information from a Councillor although the postman has twice delivered packages in the proverbial brown envelope.
Another anonymous message arrived yesterday. It said that Finance Director Alison Griffin who has not had especially poor reviews on BiB is “not a nice lady”. Neither nice nor a lady. The same message says that Chief Executive Gill Steward is not all bad because she has had a long standing fault in the ladies toilets at Watling Street fixed which her male predecessors had ignored. “Lay off poor Gill” the message implores.
I think you know the response to that. The Bexley Buffoon went to the trouble of writing to me say that the Government’s recommendation that a table and common sense should be available to journalists of every variety did not apply in Bexley. Criticism of Gill Steward will be as relentless as circumstances allow.
The Cornish Cretin, the West Sussex Witch, the Bexley Buffoon has done it again. Another attack on democracy in
the borough by the new Chief Executive, Gill Table Thief Steward.
By all accounts she hates being reported here and such is her miniscule
intellect that she goes out of her way, and spends your money, on making the
reporting of public Council meetings ever more difficult.
Last night she introduced her latest ‘I’m Out To Get Bonkers’ wheeze; a barrier to protect Councillors who were under no threat from the public anyway.
I wasn’t there, the meeting was just run of the mill planning stuff, but Councillors were quick to comment and get their cameras out.
The barrier does nothing other than prove that Gill Steward is a moron of mind blowing proportions. If she insists on keeping me further away from the proceedings I shall simply take along a longer lens and a more sensitive microphone.
Gill Steward, the Gift That Keep On Giving us all cause to believe she is as gormless as she looks.
For the record, she has so far failed to respond to my complaint of her Table Thieving.
Public relegated to the cheap plastic seats.
I am lucky enough not to have to use Southeastern trains on a regular basis, just
one return journey this week, but even I know that the service has been a total disaster.
As well as Cannon Street being closed since last Friday there have been signal failures near Charing Cross and Gravesend, breakdowns at Blackheath and this morning London Bridge was apparently completely shut. My train which should have gone to Charing Cross was diverted to Victoria, it might have been more interesting to be on one of those diverted to Blackfriars. I don’t think I have ever done that route directly from Abbey Wood.
If you think that some sort of order will be restored for the weekend, then I am not so sure.
At Abbey Wood the new Crossrail announcement panel (Photo 1) is saying there will be trains on Saturday but not on Sunday. The Southeastern notice at the same station (Photo 2) says there will be no service on Saturday but trains will return on Sunday and if you go to Southeastern's website (Image 3) it will tell you there are no trains on either day.
Rather annoying. I made my plans for the weekend several weeks ago based on the Crossrail announcement. Click the images to view them at a readable size.
All data is still as shown this afternoon.
P.S. Crossrail have said (post blog) they got it wrong so it looks like SE’s station notice is right and their website is another mistake. What a way to run a railway!