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Growth Strategy had top billing at last Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting. After two
years of hard work, a bit of debate and a roadshow or two (14 after being
criticised for not going to Slade Green) seven Councillors were required to rubber stamp the plans.
Six members of the public thought that changing the borough into a very different sort of place might be of interest and the whole show was over in half an hour.
I find it slightly amusing that Cabinet Members speak of “if” Cabinet plans are approved at debates such as these when there is no chance whatsoever of them not being. And they are not even debates, it’s close to electioneering.
Not that it is a bad plan, far from it. 31,500 new homes sounds frightening but it will be over 30 years and without a plan, ad hoc expansion will only create an incohesive mess.
Bexley Council says it wants to produce “places not houses”, so maybe their heart is in the right place. Whether their brain is may be a different matter. They are pinning their hopes on a Crossrail extension to Dartford at the very least.
If they are expecting a two track five minute interval service as is to come to Abbey Wood in twelve months time I think they will be sorely disappointed. There are compromise solutions of course but who is going to accept the partial demolition of Abbey Wood station which is still months away from completion?
Following a few introductory words from Council Leader O’Neill about the need to provide “the right infrastructure”, she indulged in a little politicking by criticising Mayor Khan’s growth proposals and “Bexley will be responding robustly to show him that Bexley is not like other boroughs, it has no Underground etc.”
Chief Executive Gill Steward was then invited to begin the 30 minute advertisement for a new look Bexley.
The plan is “fantastic and the right thing to do for Bexley” and beyond that we did not learn a lot from the desk snatcher. Only that infrastructure is important, so is transport but the consultation process was not overwhelmingly supportive. (70% of respondents were against it and 86% had concerns.)
You don't get a lot for £200k, a year. Six minutes and fifty seconds of nothing much.
Cabinet Member Linda Bailey was pleased that the plan had reached this stage and thanked everyone who had worked on it.
Councillor Bailey thought that the negative consultation responses may be due to residents “not reading the document as a whole”.
Like the Leader before her, Linda Bailey did not like the Mayor’s London Plan. He wants “big blocks of flats” and in Bexley “we want communities”. The Mayor is “at odds with our aspirations. We do not want his high rise blocks in the wrong places and massive intensification of town centres which block up roads”.
The Mayor has forgotten that an Outer London borough needs parking spaces and what he wants is not what our residents want. She moved Bexley’s plan for adoption.
Cabinet Member Philip Read thought the plan was “exciting” and “welcomed the renaissance of the North of the borough”.
Like the Leader and Councillor Bailey before him Councillor Read was critical of the London Mayor’s “high rise blocks with minimal car parking to be built on the back gardens of Bexley”.
Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer agreed with everything said so far and added that Crossrail was “underpinning the strategy”. Once again straying into politics, Alex regretted that only a week earlier Local Implementation Plan funding to Bexley had been cut back. It will leave some projects “unviable” and plans for Erith, Crayford and Yarnton Way will have to be cut as will some road safety improvements. The wicked Sadiq again.
Cabinet Member Don Massey didn’t “want to be too political but Sadiq Khan’s London Plan is far too much Inner London centric. We need to get across to the Mayor that Outer London is very different. It is not one size fits all”.
Cabinet Members having had their say, Councillor Danny Hackett (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) was allowed to praise the Growth Strategy as well but he made the mistake of mentioning Sadiq Khan’s London plan and offered to explain it outside the meeting to any interested Cabinet Member.
Danny went out of his way to say that his party fully supported the Growth Strategy and how proud he was to see the ideas he and his colleagues put forward in 2014 enthusiastically adopted. Among them were the Crossrail and DLR extensions and support for river crossings. “If the former Mayor of London hadn’t cancelled a crossing we would have had one now”.
He made a plea for Bexley’s Planning Committee to stop approving developments that provide no affordable housing.
The Leader failed to acknowledge Labour’s enthusiastic support for the Growth Strategy and the hypocrite preferred to say “it is a shame that Councillor Hackett has brought politics into the debate”. Bailey, Read, Sawyer, Massey and the Leader herself can all criticise the hapless (hopeless?) Sadiq Khan but when Councillor Hackett offers to provide a counter argument it is shameful. Bexley Council will never change.
The first part of Councillor O’Neill’s follow up retort was more justifiable, quite amusing actually.
“The former Mayor cancelled one crossing, the current Mayor cancelled two crossings.”
The second part of her response was not funny. “It is a shame you make comments that are not substantiated”. The Leader was unable to explain which of Danny’s comments she had in mind.
Councillor Colin McGannon added UKIP’s support for the Growth Strategy, it was “fantastic” but he was concerned about the number of people who were unaware of the consultation and urged the Council to put in a greater effort.
The Leader referred to the Bexley Magazine and a member of the public shouted out that she never gets one. It is unusual (unheard of?) for the Leader to engage with members of the public during a meeting but perhaps better circulation of propaganda is a special case. When another member of the public interrupted two seconds later he was told to shut up.
Councillor Bailey came back with a further little dig at the Mayor, “we don’t want to end up with some rubbish”.
Unlike Danny’s it was not a shameful comment.
The rubber stamp came down. 31,500 houses, a shopping centre in Belvedere, Crossrail to Ebbsfleet, DLR to Bexleyheath are all on their way. Believe it if you like.
Labour Party statement on growth and affordable housing.
Modern life is very annoying, full of injustices, idiocies
sometimes known as political correctness, and snowflakes ready to be offended by
terms such as White Christmas.
Fortunately I’m not easily stressed and shrug it off. If it were otherwise I would be constantly enraged by things such as today’s letter from the IPCC which says it will be a minimum of ten weeks before the Appeal against the Metropolitan Police’s whitewash job is allocated to a case worker.
However just two words can make me very annoyed indeed. They are in no particular order homes and affordable. No home is truly affordable any more, not like while still little more than an office junior I wandered into the Headquarters of the Lambeth Building Society and left one half hour interview later with a 90% mortgage on a £3,400 flat.
My first 20 years of life were spent in various council houses, my parent’s council houses obviously, and I have never been homeless. I rented a house for three or four months and hated it. Hence the trip to Lambeth
The rent on the last council house vacated in 1963 was £12.8s.4d per calendar month. I have no idea what my father was earning at the time but whatever it was housing was never an issue. It was something pretty much everyone took for granted.
Not any more.
Obviously the population level has been allowed to grow far to high and with it the price of housing. So called affordable housing is now out of reach to everyone on average pay who does not have an account with The Bank of Mum and Dad.
I know of 40 year old men with reasonable jobs who still flat share, and not from choice. It is a national disgrace.
So what is Bexley Council doing about the affordable home situation? Does it take the issue seriously? It would appear not. Lack of time and expertise prevents BiB delving deeply into planning matters, that is something best left to fromthemurkydepths, but the following comes from Labour party sources.
• Permission was granted in 2016 for 359 homes at Maxim Road in Crayford. The permission includes zero affordable homes.
• Permission was granted in 2015 for 600 homes at Erith Quarry. The permission includes zero affordable homes. This development is currently being constructed.
• Permission was granted in 2012 for 192 units at the former Bexley College site in Belvedere. It includes 34 shared ownership units with zero affordable rented units. Building of this development has recently been concluded.
• A variation of a condition to build 402 units at Belvedere Park was granted in 2010. This allowed the developer to scrap the original approval to include 62 affordable homes. As a result, the final scheme concluded in 2016 includes zero affordable homes.
Writing the minutes of last week’s Abbey Wood Traders’ Association minutes took up all morning and more, they are the longest ever
and there is not a single thing I can drop hints about.
I suppose that as a local resident I can offer the personal view that I remain pessimistic about the area south of the railway line. To the north the old can be pulled down and renewed but there is no prospect of that in and around Wilton Road.
Regeneration can be a mixed blessing. My house was so badly plumbed I gradually stripped it all out and did the job properly, like actually putting an olive and nut on the inlet to the hot water tank and solving the dreadful internal condensation problems. I became quite a good customer of Plumb Center opposite Sainsbury’s.
Plumb Center’s last day of trading will be 20th December and every one of the staff, some of whom have been there 20 plus years, have been made redundant. Really helpful people too and the Crayford branch is unlikely to be as good.
Those who have been moaning about Greenwich Council not emptying their Felixstowe Road bins since the new station opened seven and a half weeks ago can stop moaning now. By lunchtime today everything had been cleaned up.
I don’t think Greenwich did too badly. It is understandable that an abandoned footpath would be dropped off the cleaning schedule and the first reports of a problem would not have reached them until last Friday.
A day to argue whether it was their problem or Bexley’s. A day to decide to inform their cleaning contractor and another day to rearrange the schedules.
Whatever the case they attended to the mess quicker than a new Belvedere fly tip reported to Bexley Council on Wednesday last week.
It must be Christmas - 1
I don’t think Bexley’s Cabinet Member for roads, transport and unnecessary traffic jams, Alex Sawyer was ever very keen on imposing Sunday parking restrictions in Bexleyheath. Alex occasionally shows signs of possessing common sense unbecoming of a Bexley Cabinet Member and he has found an excuse to defer the planned attack on motorists and the town centre itself.
Click the image above to read all of the letter.
It must be Christmas - 2
At last night’s Cabinet Meeting approval was given to a scheme whereby all of London’s 32 boroughs will pool their Business Rate income and redistribute it according to a formula thrashed out by representatives of each Council, in Bexley’s case Councillor Teresa O’Neill.
Bexley’s share will be £2·8 million (just over 1% of the capital’s total hand out) though the figure will not be confirmed until the Summer of 2019. (Nineteen!)
It is not all good news, Bexley will lose £8·5 million of Revenue Support Grant.
Bexley Council is claiming that “the £2·8 million is new money” but they lie so often that one wonders if it is or whether it is just the usual gloss. Where did the £8·5 million go?
Memorandum of Understanding.
It’s not Christmas after all. Bah humbug!
While other London borough's have been advertising their pre-Christmas free parking, Bexley Council has said nothing. But there are a couple of weekends to go yet.
Before BiB caused a change in lifestyle in 2009 I went to Bexleyheath only once a year, just before Christmas and came back loaded. Since then the immediate family all agreed to give up on presents but my son married into a family which goes overboard on it and that is where I will be this Christmas. Everything has come from Amazon, well strictly speaking not, the last two parcels are due today but not been seen yet.(And it is nearly six o’clock!)
Bexleyheath and its constant road works are best avoided. The Christmas respite has come too late for me.
It’s Greenwich’s problem
on Facebook Bexley Council has been slated for not emptying these bins.
They are only a few metres into the Royal Borough but they are most definitely
not on Bexley’s patch.
I reported them to Greenwich Council last Thursday but almost a week later they are in an even worse state. Greenwich is reported to have denied they are theirs which is nonsense. It is surprising they have not blamed the snow.
Any excuse will do.
The World is your Lobster
What sort idiot names a travel card after a shell fish? It’s always been a puzzle to me.
I have never owned an Oyster card but I have used a contactless debit card occasionally because it saves a few pennies - but not at Abbey Wood apparently.
It has been widely reported that one of the ticket barriers at our shiny new station has been failing to register anything on TfL’s central computer so maximum fares have been applied.
If you have been through Abbey Wood since (or on) 22nd October it might be worth looking at your bank statement.
Fighting fibs - again!
Why can’t people stick to the truth and try not to exaggerate everything? BiB could not exist if it lied all the time, it would tie me in knots within a week or two because I would not have the time or mental capacity to avoid the traps and contradictions that would be created.
Crossrail meetings can get heated at times because there is not much doubt that Network Rail sometimes rides rough shod over things. I am tempted to say the tactic has sometimes been to delay remedies until the problem goes away naturally.
I still have no idea why the track fences and trees along my road had to be removed, and even less about why they were never replaced. If someone called it arrogance you wouldn’t find me arguing but I have recently found myself caught on the other side of a Crossrail argument on Facebook.
Referring to the Crossrail Liaison Panel meeting about the flooding problems in Abbey Grove someone posted this
I could not believe the audacity of what Network Rail & Balfour Beatty reps were spewing out; they obviously don’t survey the area but still deny there are problems and just want to walk away. Well done everyone who contributed to their angst.
Leaving aside the fact that Balfour Beatty’s men take their theodolites to bed with them and never do anything without a survey, the statement that they deny there are flooding problems is the sheerest nonsense. If that was the case they would not be boring exploratory holes and requesting permission to lay 350 metres of very expensive deep drainage pipes.
For taking a view which did not find favour with the baying mob I was called a hypocrite and asked to withdraw my defence of Balfour Beatty. No way!
You may be interested to hear what Balfour Beatty’s manager said last week at the Crossrail meeting in front of ‘the Facebook someone’.
Good evening everybody, my name is Andy Bradshaw, I’m the Project Leader for Balfour Beatty on the Abbey Wood station project, I have met some of you, we are talking now about the Abbey Grove flooding. Raj [Pathak, Network Rail project manager] alluded to the floods in June 2016, I was party to them, I witnessed those and I could see the appalling conditions that people were having to deal with in their back gardens and I hope it came across that we were empathetic and that had highlighted an issue which we thought merited a good deal of further consideration.
It doesn’t sound much like a denial to me.
With hindsight Network Rail should have taken more account of what local residents told them about water courses in 2014 but if the Environment Agency and the Royal Borough of Greenwich were on the record as saying “no problem” there is no way funds would become available to explore local concerns.
It’s not a good situation and Network Rail now finds itself in a difficult position but shouting at them and distorting the facts is unlikely to win any friends, and the residents of Abbey Grove are in dire need of a solution to their problem right now.
Note: There is a solution but it fails because one resident refuses to accept it.
Useless Head of Waste Department
It is more than two months since I FOI’d Bexley Council about Steve Didsbury’s promise to do something sensible with my photos of a fly tipper caught in the act. Instead he did nothing. The FOI was acknowledged but Bexley Council has refused to enter into any correspondence about it since. 20 days is the time the law allows for answers.
A few lines to the Information Commissioner was a lot easier to write than 30 odd pages to the Independent Police Complaints Commissioner.
The Royal Mail confirmed the IPCC delivery on Monday. Expect a response in six months minimum.
This is just Bonkers
It doesn’t happen very often but sometimes Bexley residents Google for Bexley Council and come up with Bexley-is-Bonkers. Then they go to the Contact page and dip their digital pen into the green ink.
This message arrived today.
Waist paper for recycling.
Hi, I reported to you on your web site that the dustmen did not take my waist paper on Monday, that is when I reported it to you and you said they will come within to days and take it away, but now one as come round and collected it.
If you are not going to empty my paper bin I am not going to put it out anymore, as me and my wife are both registered disabled and we have great difficulty in putting it out once without having to take it back in again.
If you are not going to take it we will not bother putting out.
No address provided.
It was on 19th November that BiB announced it would drop the Maxine Fothergill business as she is not this website’s target. It put the apology on line a week later but that should have been the end of it - but then came her solicitor’s threatening letter. BiB unleashed a further round of unflattering documents.
The time has come to try again. No more Maxine Fothergill info. Some has been held back in case of further threats but with luck and good judgment it will never see the light of day.
There are about 280,000 people living in Bexley and 279,999 of them made the
right decision and didn’t go to see James Hunt and his People Overview and
Scrutiny Committee meeting on 29th November. I found it tedious which isn’t to
say it is unimportant but concentrating, as that particular meeting did, on
medical matters does not make it the easiest for a layman to follow.
Blogs of a reasonable length can only report highlights and they were few and far between. As usual the public (that’s me) was herded into a place not well served by the audio system and with poor views of the proceedings. (I wandered around to find the view in the photo.)
Once again I was occasionally reduced to studying socks.
Probably the most interesting report came from Mr. Michael Ridgewell, the Director of NHS stroke services in Kent. More correctly the Programme Director, Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership which is reviewing stroke services in Kent and Medway in which Bexley is included.
Things are not going well, he said “stroke outcomes are poor”.
They are poor because fewer than 50% of patients are admitted within four hours and fewer than 50% receive thrombolysis within the recommended 60 minutes.
Staff shortages make seven day a week working inconsistent across the seven hospitals offering a stroke service.
A significant contributory factor is that with patients spread across seven hospitals none of them receive enough patients to develop the necessary facilities, skills and staffing levels.
A nationally recommended figure is that each unit sees between 500 and 1,500 patients a year. None in Kent reach the 500 admissions threshold. Consolidation is suggested as the solution to the problems which then poses transport problems.
Not for the first time, it was left to Councillor Alan Downing to put the arguments that might be made by a concerned resident.
He was “very disappointed with the paper in front of me. It should be of great concern to everyone representing the residents of Bexley”.
“Having read this paper I am so alarmed that decisions are going to be put forward to the NHS on 22nd [month coughed over!] and I do not know anything about this, I don’t think anyone in this room knows anything about it.”
“Someone is jumping the gun. It is not good enough. I am so concerned, [bad] timing can put that person back for life.”
“Here we are saying that it is only 27,000 people over 70 in Bexley who might have a stroke, you can’t just sit there and say I am sorry but we are going to do this and we are going to do that. I am very concerned that it has come this far without consultation. We should have a full blown consultation.”
“Thanet is one of your worst areas [for strokes] and it will be nowhere near any [stroke] hospital if this programme goes ahead. Stroke is something to be dealt with efficiently and fastly, don’t give me a programme which tells me we are going to have only three centres. People in Bexley will not be able to get to Ashford in time to deal with a stroke. Every morning there are problems on the A2 and M25. It doesn’t make sense.”
“Get this sorted out. I am not happy at all. Go back to zero and start all over again.”
Councillor Eileen Pallen insisted that ambulance timings on blue lights must be measured.
Now if you will excuse me I am off to Newham Hospital where an old lady is slowly recovering from near death due to neglect by her named doctor (Goodyear, Wordsworth Surgery, Newham) who has never ever seen her and who has failed to conduct the required six monthly thyroid check. It was last done in June 2015 during a routine hospital visit but the GP prescribed the wrong dose. Only a third of what it should have been. The endocrinologist has said that those mistakes will have caused most of the confusion evident over the past year or two.
Some recent blogs have been written with one eye firmly fixed on the libel
laws; you just cannot be too careful when up against litigious Councillors.
I thought I had researched yesterday evening’s blog very carefully and that everything stated therein was correct. Even so I cautiously refrained from being too dogmatic and hedged a few bets.
Soon after putting the allegedly forged letter on line I was in receipt of an email from its extremely distressed writer demanding an apology for my inaccurate reporting and its possible damage to her reputation.
Despite my best efforts research had fallen well below the standards expected of this blog. Naturally I sincerely regret the unforgiveable mistake. My formal apology follows…
With luck I will not be following Councillor Fothergill into the High Court.
It still feels a little uncomfortable to be providing these revelations about
a Councillor who has done me no harm. Up until now all but one of the
Bexley Councillors taken on by BiB have attacked me personally, two of them wanting to see me behind bars.
Can pursuing a Councillor who has seriously wronged a member of the public who does not live in Bexley and who I have never met be justified? After sitting on the fence for a while everything changed when a solicitor’s slightly threatening letter dropped into my Inbox. Don’t forget that Hayley Warnes suffered the stress of an eleven month arrest without any evidence against her. Kent police appear to be just as prepared to accept the unsubstantiated word of a name preceded by ‘Councillor’ as Bexley’s are.
Councillor Fothergill could have withdrawn her fraud allegations at any time but didn’t. That is despicable and justifies quite a lot.
Arguably John Kerlen set a precedent so the Fothergill revelations will continue. Councillors must be made to realise that there are standards to be maintained.
One of the estates of flats that Councillor Fothergill used to manage was called Chandlers’ Wharf but its management committee took their business away from AMAX estates seeking a better deal elsewhere.
Whether the new block management team was better than AMAX or not doesn’t really matter but AMAX was keen to get the contract back.
It may have helped their cause when someone at Chandlers’ Wharf thought the new block managers were not much good and circulated a hand written letter to all the residents there - anonymously.
Click to read all of the letter.
Why would someone do that anonymously?
The answer is that it would not look too good if the letter was signed by Maxine Fothergill.
The letter writer stepped forward in support of Hayley Warnes with an almost incredible story. She was a right handed Amax employee compelled to use her left hand (to ensure the source would never be known) and take dictation from you know who.
Do you think that can be true? Ray Robson the surveyor must be sure it is because he included the story in the dossier he sent to at least four newspapers.
If it is true it may once again fall short of corruption but the business ethics on display would elevate Councillor Fothergill to Bexley Council’s Hall of Fame, sorry Shame. (Very bad in-joke - please ignore it!)
It’s amazing how the most disreputable Conservatives have gravitated towards
Bexley, maybe it’s a case of a one bad apple spreading the rot.
The Biggest Apple reports critics to the police for err “criticising Councillors” and then her disciples abuse the Localism Act by hiding their addresses. The Act allows a Councillor claiming to be frightened of an elector to censor his Register of Interests. When I last checked there were 15 Councillors across the whole of London who were frightened of their electors, eleven of them in Bexley.
Over the weekend someone noticed just how obnoxious some Bexley Councillors can be and remarked on it on Twitter.
Sidcup Bloke it must be said is a local Labour party activist.
A few people provided examples of insults. The insults were mainly sent anonymously from @bexleynews. I am biased of course but I thought I may have won that competition with “idiot” and “cretin” from Councillor Philip Read.
However the prize was rapidly snatched away from me by Councillor Daniel Francis (Labour, Belvedere).
Three See You Next Tuesdays and a Dickhead plus an implied punch in the mouth for good measure.
Today’s Part 2 was going to dig deeply into new areas of AMAX
estates but as UKIP Bexley seems to have backed down and removed their website front
page which attempted to link Councillor Fothergill directly with Bexley
Council’s endemic but maybe historic corruption problem, I’m not sure I can be
bothered. I’ll just cover some easy bits.
What UKIP wrote about was not corruption, it was silliness. No, it was extreme nastiness. Blaming an innocent employee for one’s own ‘mistakes’ is more than silly but I doubt it is corruption in any legal or criminal sense.
It wasn’t corruption when Maxine Fothergill fibbed to Marriners Walk residents in 2015 either. Deception and distorting the facts is not corruption.
While Hayley Warnes was under arrest the police told AMAX not to release any ‘incriminating’ documents to the Marriner’s Walk Management Company Limited (MWMCL) .
Without them MWMCL was virtually paralysed and 14 householders were in the process of selling their houses.
Ray Robson, the surveyor, owned a flat in Marriner’s Walk (he still does) and was on the MWMCL Committee. He pleaded with the police to instruct AMAX to release some of the documents they held.
The police relented on 8th May 2015 and said
Although AMAX have been advised not to release documentation they feel is material evidence relevant to this investigation, this does not preclude them providing you with photocopies of any documentation which you might otherwise be entitled to.
Ray told Maxine Fothergill but she ignored him instead she wrote to all the Marriner’s Walk members on 19th May as follows
We have been told categorically not to hand over the files as they are the subject of a criminal investigation.
Ray Robson says he has still not been able to get hold of the files.
Most definitely not the corruption that UKIP Bexley saw but not what decent people do either.
This is the Apology that Councillor Fothergill’s solicitor demanded that UKIP place on their website. I have no idea why he sent a copy to me too.
Her solicitor doesn’t think that Councillor Fothergill uses her elected position for personal gain. He should have gone to Google instead of his law books.
Two years ago Bexley Council’s Code of Conduct Committee found Councillor Fothergill guilty of ‘abusing her position for personal gain’ or as they put it, “to confer an advantage for herself” so it could be argued that UKIP was wrong only in that they had linked their allegation to the wrong case.
Did the current case expose corruption?
Maybe not a lot but Maxine Fothergill’s 31st July 2014 email to Hayley Warnes (Hayley kept hold of everything about which she had misgivings) asks her “between you and I” to contrive that the timings of a quote for new water tanks would allow her own son to get the job at an advantageous price. Is that corruption? Looks a bit fishy to me, same as it did to Hayley.
UKIP is probably on safe ground if they refuse to apologise. Not only is it on the public record (Bexley Council’s website) that Councillor Fothergill has used her elected position for personal gain I have a business document which she signed as a Councillor. (I have mislaid the file but I know where the original document is.)
The current papers show that five different people representing five different housing developments wrote to Ray and Hayley lending support for their defamation claim and relating their own unwelcome experiences. There is also a handful of business professionals, brokers, insurance companies etc. who also expressed various doubts. UKIP Bexley could probably gather up a decent defence if pushed.
Councillor Fothergill has made a lot of bad judgment calls in this case. Getting her solicitor to threaten me when I had so many unpublished papers that would have remained unpublished was one of the worst.
I must get Ray Robson to explain to me again the significance of an allegedly ‘forged’ letter dated 19th January 2014 which he says was handwritten left handed by a right handed author. It might make a good blog if I can get my head around why it was written.
There was more to last Thursday’s Crossrail meeting than flooded gardens
and the search for a solution.
Chairman Councillor Steve Offord (Greenwich Council) began the meeting optimistically by saying it was the final Panel meeting and all that was left to be done was “to pick up on a few outstanding items”.
Raj Pathak, one of the Network Rail Project Managers, kicked off the meeting with his regular update presentation.
After proudly showing off pictures of the new station and Elizabeth Line train he thanked the residents for their “massive support and cooperation” and was rewarded with cynical laughter from the usual suspects.
He apologised for “the issues with the lifts. The two outside took longer than we expected”. He was every bit as diplomatic about “the issues” as you would expect of a senior manager and neatly avoided the S word. However word on the ground is that Stannah messed up the communications system and the emergency button didn’t call the Control Centre.
They failed to make it work and eventually reinstalled all the cabling. That’s what the orange men said and it sounds all too plausible given the lift company’s reputation in the nearby Sainsbury’s and the temporary station.
The target opening date for the Felixstowe Road lifts is 15th December. Men were working on them in the snow this morning.
Andy Bradshaw from Balfour Beatty is the man who has been trying to fix the Abbey Grove flooding problems. He had seen “the appalling conditions, we were empathetic and they merited a good deal of further consideration”.
The original railway design had considered flooding and the various records and experts were consulted. “No one expected [an Environment Agency approved plan] to make things worse.”
While discussing the various options for new drainage solutions and fence alignments Andy happened to mention that some residents had found themselves with longer gardens than before work started. “A bit of a bonus there for people.” An entirely reasonable remark for which he was condemned. It was a very cynical remark apparently. If you have ever wondered why these Crossrail reports tend to be critical of the guests you have another example.
Mr. Bradshaw was then wrongly accused of making new announcements by people who had not attended all the meetings.
Another argument was about where the water came from. The sky or an underground river? The fact that the flooding occurs only after heavy rainfall suggests the former. The fact the ground is soggy all the time suggests the latter.
No one is arguing any more that Crossrail didn’t cause the flooding problem. Network Rail has explored two options, one has proved unviable, the other is beginning to look that way and they are now castigated for taking their responsibilities very seriously. The next move is to examine a third and even more expensive solution as reported two days ago.
Such was the lack of trust of Network Rail that they were pressed to supply a copy of the Environment Agency report with the next set of minutes. They agreed to make copies available.
Let’s move on to other things.
St. Benet’s Church and the loss of their fire escape was the next subject. In essence Network Rail has paid for a solution to be designed, submitted it to the local authority and the Catholic Diocesan surveyor some months ago and heard nothing since. When agreement is reached Network Rail will foot the bill. Probably they will be criticised for that too.
The Bostal Manorway footbridge ramp was opened on 4th December. It was built two years ago but not brought into use because of objections to being overlooked by one or two residents and they were supported by Greenwich Council.
Bureaucracy being what it is it has taken most of those two years for Greenwich Council to decide that trees are the answer. Panel Members being what they are meant that their chosen solution is not good enough. There are not enough trees and they are not trees, they are saplings.
Having taken a look myself earlier today I would agree that there is currently an unacceptable overlooking problem. The small trees do not solve the problem but trees grow. What other solution is there? Block the ramps in with screens and they will be the haunt of muggers.
At the meeting there was aggressive shouting and complaints that the lights on the bridge are too bright. Outside in the real world, Facebook and the like, people are overjoyed at being able to get around so much more easily than before.
After that we returned to the long standing gripes about lighting and noise pollution from announcements. As usual there were those who cannot get their heads around the fact many loudspeakers turned down low are less likely to cause a disturbance than a few speakers turned up loud. Maybe the solution is to issue every traveller with headphones. Many many speakers turned down very very low. Network Rail has been trying to do the next best thing but few appreciate it.
There was a complaint about an emergency announcement at 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Mathew White the MTR (station operator) man said no tests were scheduled and at that time of the morning it could only be a fault condition which he would look into. Nobody believed him.
MTR said they observed the same announcement schedule as Southeastern did.
Network Rail said they had changed the lighting on Platforms 1 and 2. An audience member said they had not.
Raj Pathak showed Panel members a picture of the inside of the western footbridge. He was criticised for his choice of glass which had been chosen to protect train drivers from glare.
The escalators are too steep claimed a know all audience member holding his hand at a 45 degree angle to prove his point. They are exactly the same as those at all other modern TfL stations said Andy Bradshaw who obviously hasn’t a clue and has stupidly commissioned a unique pair of escalators.
The Abbey Wood Traders’ Association has been assured by every Tom Dick and Mary from the two Councils that they would all be sitting on little goldmines once the new station and Crossrail opened. (As AWTA Secretary I heard them myself.)
Their Chairman said that thanks to the main exit being on the flyover with nice new footpaths that allowed Wilton Road to be bypassed, footfall was well down since 22nd October.
Bexley Council had not helped by keeping the old Gayton Road staircase open leading yet more potential customers away from the shops and holding up traffic on the flyover more than necessary.
The AWTA Chairman was assured there would eventually be a large sign to tell strangers to the area that the ugly blob at the end of Wilton Road is a railway station.
Tiffany Lynch, Bexley Council’s Head of Something or Other was “disappointed” by the lack of lifts on the opening day. Raj said there was such a long chain of contractors, sub contractors and sub sub contractors that difficulties sometimes arise. He had had long arguments with the main contractor. (It’s the S word again Tiff, Raj is too much of a gentleman to say.)
Ms. Lynch said she “felt a complete fool” for telling the Leader of Bexley Council that all was well with all the lifts when that was not the case. Maybe Tiffany would do well to look at the daily photo record in future. Oh, I nearly forgot, Bexley Council staff are forbidden to look at Bexley is Bonkers.
The lifts will be remotely monitored from the MTR Control Centre in Romford.
There was a complaint that a cherry picker was causing a dangerous situation around 9 p.m. on the 26th November when the station was closed but the concourse was accessible. I was there a few hours before that and spoke to some of the ֹ‘cherrymen’ working there. No danger then but things (and shifts) can change.
There were the usual questions about low and high level access to the station and different travel time restrictions for Freedom Pass users which were given the same old answers.
A new complaint was that the new ticket office wasn’t selling tickets and seat reservations covering other parts of the country. The MTR man said that shouldn’t be a problem and he would attend to it.
Ms. Lynch was asked about Felixstowe Road and in reply said it would be restored to two way working but be of restricted width and would remain a mess until the Autumn of next year.
And that was about it. Chairman Steve Offord may have thought it was the final Panel meeting at the outset but by the time he brought it to a close two hours later he was not so sure.
HMOs, Houses in Multiple Occupation, are not usually very popular,
caused some ugly scenes in Bexley already.
Bexley Council wants to take action against them and is running a consultation through to the 24th January.
Nothing is done for nothing in Bexley so landlords will typically pay £985 for their licence, a fee that will undoubtedly be passed on to their tenants. Bexley Council expects to issue nearly 3,000 licences, it’s big money. Bigger even than the revenue from Yellow Money Boxes.
Neighbours might welcome fewer HMOs which they usually regard with suspicion but there will be opposition too.
One correspondent sees HMOs as the thin end of a wedge.
My son lives within the Manor Road HMO area (Slade Green) and he’s had a letter from Bexley Council indicating that they are aware that he might have a lodger. He has, he owns a normal three bed ex-Council semi; it’s not an HMO, it’s just a friend who helps him pay the mortgage.
I have a bad feeling about this so-called trial scheme. As usual it is presented as if it is to deal with anti-social behaviour in the poorer areas. I can barely see the link between this scheme and anti-social behaviour!
I am familiar with a similar scheme introduced a couple of years ago to the ‘poorer areas’ of Thanet. I think it’s another way of taking control of the borough residents who are savvy enough to let out a spare room in their own house to bring in a bit cash. I have done it for years.
As with all these schemes that encourage people to blindly register thinking it makes their activities more respectable - the real aim is for the Council to impose additional regulations on the house and the letting agreement until the whole lodger idea becomes more trouble than it’s worth.
The state is interfering in our lives more and more and in ways that we can be monitored more easily. Examples being the cashless society, smart energy and water metering, no more cash on buses and phone parking. I accept some of these things are very convenient but they are driven on relentlessly to control us ever more closely.
What do you think about this scheme?
It is true that Britain has become a Big Brother state and true freedom is just a memory. To that list you can add location tracking by mobile phone, Oyster cards, Automatic Number Plate Recognition, web site data collection and Nectar cards!
I am informed that taking in lodgers does not make a house an HMO.
Rent it Right Questions and Answers.
I don't want anyone to run away with the idea that all Bexley’s Conservatives are crooked to the core, because they aren’t. Not all of them.
You will be hard pressed to find anything on Bonkers against Roy Ashmole, the Beckwiths, the Bishops, Christine Catterall, Graham D’Amiral, Ahmet Dourmoush, the Downings (some people thought Alan was a pretty crap Mayor but he is a decent enough bloke), Louie French, James Hunt, David Hurt, the politically mouthy David Leaf, Rob Leitch, Howard Marriner, Cafer Munur, Caroline Newton, Nick O’Hare, Peter Reader, Ray Sams, June Slaughter, Brad Smith, Colin Tandy and John Wilkinson. To that list you can add Cabinet Members John Fuller and Alex Sawyer, at least I think you can add Alex. Not sure I like his two faced approach to motorists. (He says they are badly treated but preys on them like a money grabbing vulture.)
That’s 26 names most of whom I would happily vote for if they stood in my ward.
So let no one tell you that all Bexley’s Conservative Councillors have been up to no good, but some undoubtedly have been. Why else would they be so keen to shut me up?
The most recent Councillor to try to shut me up is Maxine Fothergill who had her solicitor send me a threatening letter last Thursday evening. That was pretty silly when I had already shut up about her and I do not take kindly to people intent on getting me into trouble with the law. Today’s blogs are the result.
Bexley UKIP suggested that Maxine Fothergill was corrupt which based on the evidence they had seen was probably a step too far. So here is some more grist to their mill.
Not absolute proof of anything of course, but the following is a page of text correspondence between two AMAX employees.
Maybe they are disenchanted troublemakers but they are at the very least under the illusion that fake AMAX invoices were created and added to tenants’ bills. Like I got lumbered with paying for grass cutting which never took place.
They may have been making it up, on the other hand they might not and one of them is keen to get the story down in more permanent form, an email. I wonder if I can find it?
The ‘green’ correspondent below left AMAX in 2013 but thought what she had on her phone was so important that she kept it for two years before sending it to Hayley Warnes on 26th November 2015 to aid her defence of the fraud allegations.
From WhatsApp. Click image to rotate.
There is no proven link there to Councillor Fothergill. Who is Ben? Ray Robson will tell me.
More to come
Index to related blogs and documents.
The Appeal letter finally went off to the IPCC this morning
after a 4:30 start to find and print all the Appendices.
An eight page letter and 28 A4 documents some of them double sided. £2·40 for Recorded
Delivery. I couldn’t find any facility on the IPCC website that allowed
electronic upload of masses of documents.
The enclosures included little gems of evidence like the Bexley police officer who told me that nothing interesting was found on Councillor Craske’s computer when forensics had reported otherwise three months earlier.
The officer who said there had been political interference, then denied it, then owned up to the DPS that there had been and then the DPS simply dropped all enquiries into it.
And for good measure the letter from Chief Executive Will Tuckley’s to the police recommending that they prosecute me for allowing BiB readers to read the passworded file. They were all desperate to deflect attention from Cabinet Member Peter Craske. Not a single police officer did anything wrong.
In a year’s time today’s letter may reach the top of the IPCC’s pile. Once that happens the Appeal letter will probably be posted alongside all the other ‘obscene blog’ documents.
Do you know what Block Management is? Me neither until I went back to LBC radio
after being a Radio 4 addict and then became sick of hearing an advertisement for it. I looked it up.
It’s looking after blocks of flats, cutting the lawns, cleaning the communal areas, fixing the plumbing etc.; all that sort of thing.
I lived in a managed flat in Plumstead from 1984 to 1987 and hated it. Not just the woman upstairs with the succession of boyfriends, the noisy bedsprings and the creaking floor but also the large bill for grass cutting when it was tall enough to partially obscure my windows.
Probably someone down the chain of command was making a fat profit. Hard to tell but something wasn’t right.
Councillor Maxine Fothergill does Block Management and Hayley Warnes ran that show for her company, AMAX Estates. Maxine Fothergill accused her of fraud for Block Mismanagement. Hayley left AMAX to train as a surveyor with Ray Robson and together they sued Maxine Fothergill for libel.
Entirely without foundation Councillor Fothergill had circulated a letter which said “It is clearly the case that Robson and others have colluded in an attempt to gain management control for their own ends” and thanks to that they are together £70,000 richer.
Hayley paid dearly for those false allegations, she was under arrest by Kent Police for eleven months until they eventually came to realise that they had been misled.
Ms. Warnes doesn’t work for Ray any more (family reasons) but they are back together now working towards a police prosecution of Councillor Fothergill for attempting to pervert the course of justice and wasting police time. The police have already provided an informal response indicating they are not best pleased with Councillor Fothergill.
Ray Robson told me that he considers Hayley Warnes to be the most honest woman he has ever met but to tell you his opinion of Councillor Fothergill would probably get me into trouble with her solicitors again.
I wasn’t going to show you this but now that Councillor Fothergill has joined the ranks of Councillors who have made moves that could land me in Court, the gloves are off.
Ray says Hayley is as straight as a die but won’t say the same for Councillor Fothergill Do you think he may be right?
Text message from Maxine Fothergill to Hayley Warnes (in green). Click image to rotate.
Bexley UKIP is in trouble with Councillor Fothergill’s solicitor for suggesting that she is as corrupt as Bexley Council more generally.
Is seeking freebies from flooring contractors who might add the costs to their bill an indication of corruption? I don’t know. I will leave that to you and Maxine Fothergill’s solicitor to decide.
More to come
I went to my 13th Crossrail Liaison Panel last night, an extra one thrown in
to thrash out some outstanding problems.
As such there was not a lot of new dates to announce, the main job is done and no more Crossrail related rail closures are scheduled.
It was said that the Bostall Manorway footbridge was fully opened on 4th December, ramps and all. A few trees have been planted to screen overlooked gardens.
As usual that did not meet with universal approval. The trees are not big enough, green enough, woody enough or something. There is always something to complain about.
Crossrail Panel meetings have always been contentious affairs and I have frequently felt less than sympathetic towards the critics, some are antagonistic, some are aggressive, some may be both.
I’ve never quite managed to get my head around a fear of being trapped on the platform while the booking hall is on fire. Isn’t it obvious that 200 metres of platform, arguably 400 metres, is a ready made refuge until someone turns up with a bucket of water?
if things became really crowded the track bed is available, one of the few non-technical benefits of overhead power.
A new complaint yesterday was that the hoarding around the mothballed escalator compels wheelchair users to go dangerously over the yellow line. I went to measure the narrow platform this afternoon. It is three long strides wide. It is a bit narrower alongside the stairs but wheel chairs could get by two abreast if necessary.
Then there are those who cannot get their head around the fact that many speakers kept at whisper level are quieter at longer distances than one or two speakers blaring out.
“More speakers are being installed on the Crossrail platform, why was the public not consulted?” Why should they be consulted? Speakers are part of a modern railway station, so is the asphalted platform surface, the tactile paving, the yellow line and the canopy. No consultations on them either.
It’s like the boy who kept crying wolf; when a really serious problem comes along no one takes any notice until it is too late. And now it is too late.
At the very first Panel meeting in December 2014 there was a big turnout of residents and concern was expressed by many of them that piling for the new track would disrupt as many as seven underground rivers that ran down from the hills behind Plumstead and Abbey Wood towards the Thames.
The three year old BiB report makes reference to Thames Water being consulted about the drainage problems and last night Network Rail added Greenwich Council and the Environment Agency to the equation. All of them had said that Crossrail’s plans would not cause any water problems, go ahead.
Faced with such expert advice Network Rail not unreasonably ignored the old wives’ tales and the divining rods. It is what any large corporate body would do - but they were wrong. Crossrail has created a dreadful flooding problem in the gardens behind Abbey Grove.
Network Rail is not unwilling to fix the problem, they have employed surveyors and engineers to produce a solution. It is a 350 metre pipe running beneath gardens into the station’s main drainage system; but there is a problem, well several problems really.
When some people lost the end of gardens to Crossrail many sheds had to be moved and some fell apart in the process. The new ones are sitting exactly where the drainage pipe needs to go. If they didn’t fall apart during the first move they will now.
But there is an even bigger problem. One awkward resident refuses to have a pipe buried deep in his garden, Stupid, sensible or selfish? Who knows?
With no pipe in prospect, Network Rail sunk a bore hole to see if a collection of soakaways would do the trick. That didn’t work. More a water gusher than a soakaway!
The biggest problem with the pipe solution which no one is likely to accept, is that the residents will be responsible for cleaning out the silt occasionally. What! Who is going to welcome that?
So it is stalemate unless by chance Network Rail listens to the old wives and their old men this time. They want Network Rail to remove the acoustic fencing that runs from the station to Bostall Manorway and place it closer to the railway and put in a pipe on the exposed railway land.
Not easy, the levels are all wrong for a start. The communications and power cables will all have to be moved and squashed into a smaller space, vertically stacked instead of horizontal. It’s going to cost a fortune, it will probably cause more railway closures, it probably isn’t a viable solution, but Network Rail has gone away to work out how it could be done.
I don’t see it ever being done. It would be cheaper to Compulsory Purchase the awkward home owner’s house and deposit a million pounds or whatever with Greenwich Council to bribe them into a 100 year maintenance agreement.
These Crossrail Liaison Panel meetings are going to run and run!
I have been threatened by Councillor Maxine Fothergill’s solicitor. So has
the local UKIP branch who ‘borrowed’
the Court documents that were published on BiB.
Bexley Councillors are very good at starting long term wars. Council Leader Teresa O’Neill will never be forgiven for telling the police I was planning violence against her and arson against the Civic Offices. I got that from the Borough Commander himself. It is Teresa O’Neill who has kept this blog going through the several periods when I was getting tired of it.
I had actually forgiven Councillor Peter Craske for the obscene blog episode. I was able to look at the funny side and I owe him for providing the material for so many thousands of words on BiB. Elwyn didn’t feel the same because his wife was not at all happy to read the false allegation that he had been having it away with me. One police officer actually believed it and recorded the same address for both of us!
Any sympathy I had for Craske evaporated on 1st October when he told a small gathering that he had no idea who I was.
Councillor Philip Read is unlikely to be forgiven for the tittle tattle that saw Erith based former blogger John Kerlen wrongly held in a police cell for 24 hours and until Cabinet Member Don Massey leaves the Council next May his name will be regurgitated whenever the opportunity arises. According to the police he told them that the image you see here was publishing all his daughter’s personal details.
But I felt sorry for Councillor Fothergill and because of that held back some of the gory details of her libel case. She did however try my patience to the limit.
She made three phone calls to my home landline - no Councillor has ever done that before - and sent six emails, the first of them repeating her libel. Another of her emails accused me of making things up. Those facts would never have been made public if she had not gone to her solicitor.
By the time the fifth and sixth emails arrived the libel story had dropped out of the BiB headlines. I didn’t open them because the contents might tip me over the edge and the story would have to continue to the next stage. It was in Councillor Fothergill’s best interests that that did not happen.
Councillor Fothergill’s theme was at first that she was innocent but one of the attached documents proved not to be the whole story and by intent or not it led me up the garden path.
Later messages were pleas to help save her business by removing all the blogs and documents. I was tempted because I have nothing against Councillor Fothergill personally but on the other hand Bexley Council never holds back when the opportunity arises to attack residents it doesn’t like. (Do I have to list all the examples again?)
So I stuck with the usual technique; publish the documents, don’t say anything at all that is not supported by those documents, spread the news and let readers draw their own conclusions. As a result Maxine Fothergill’s solicitor has found his hands tied, he asked me not to link to the UKIP website with threats about non-compliance; that is all. Now you are going to have to Google UKIP Bexley.
UKIP’s site tried to link the corruption that has been endemic at the top level of Bexley’s Conservative Council with Maxine Fothergill whereas BiB left that to your imagination. Councillor Fothergill’s solicitor is demanding that UKIP removes its current front page and replaces it with an apology.
It was easy to feel sorry for Maxine Fothergill, she had never done me any harm. It was not me who spent eleven months under arrest for being honest, so the very worst of the documents in my possession were not published. I judged that readers were not very interested, there had not been a lot of feedback so the subject was dead and soon to be forgotten.
All that is about to change. If UKIP want to continue with their assumptions then maybe BiB should give them some evidence.
was a damp sort of day but I have known a lot worse. I was out and about three
times and never bothered to use my umbrella but even a fine drizzle can flood
Gayton Road. Thirty or more years it has been like it and Bexley Council has never bothered to fix it.
Fortunately it would have to be another foot deeper for the new station lifts to go under water so they should be safe. Maybe the plans for a new improved Gayton Road include plans for a proper drainage system.
On the other side of the railway it is Greenwich Council that is neglecting its duties but maybe understandably so. The two litter bins on the path to the station have not been put back on the cleaning schedule. They haven’t been emptied since the new station opened. Just an oversight presumably but the mess is getting worse as each day goes by.
The situation was reported to an Abbey Wood Councillor this evening. We will soon find out if he is better or worse than his counterpart in Bexley at litter removal.
With a certain amount of relief I can report that the Appeal against the Directorate of Professional Standards’
response to a complaint originally made on 7th June 2012 is now complete and
ready to go to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
The penultimate comment by the DPS which took nearly 2,000 days to compile concludes that the complaint against various Bexley officers is “completely contrary to the evidence”.
Their 15 page report helpfully provides quite a lot of evidence but no answers to any of the questions asked by fellow complainant Elwyn Bryant and myself. Judge for yourself if you think the evidence supports the police’s view that absolutely no one did anything wrong.
The crime was reported on 8th June 2011.
• The first police enquiries were made in Bexley Council’s offices in July 2011. There is no evidence that the principal witness was interviewed and there was an attempt to turn the tables on the victims by linking the obscene blog with John Kerlen who Bexley Council were intending to maliciously prosecute.
• In August 2011 the police told me that there was no evidence which would allow the case to be pursued.
• This was very obviously untrue. My MP Teresa Pearce brought this to the attention of the Borough Commander and the DPS report regards her support for a constituent as “political interference”.
• The Borough Commander called for a review and as a result the obscene blog was traced to Bexley Cabinet Member Peter Craske’s Talk Talk internet connection in October 2011.
• The Borough Commander consulted the Crown Prosecution Service in February 2012 by which time the offence he had in mind was time expired.
• The CPS suggested a different charge but Bexley police ignored their suggestion, preferring “no further action”.
• A new Borough Commander came on the scene in mid-May 2012 and at the same time Elwyn Bryant met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe at a public meeting in Sidcup.
• Hogan-Howe listened sympathetically and asked the new Commander to follow up Elwyn's complaint.
• A week later there was an application for a search warrant and on 21st June 2012 Cabinet Member Peter Craske was arrested. Alarm bells would have been ringing in Bexley Council’s offices.
• In August 2012 forensics found the obscene blog on Councillor Craske’s computer and “another of a similar nature”.
• When it was argued (by Craske presumably) that the obscene blog was not written by him the police did not look for an alternative author, neither did they ask Councillor Craske how the second (unpublished) blog came to be on his laptop.
• Later in August the police arranged a meeting with the CPS and Bexley Council “to resolve Councillor Craske’s situation”. More than a year earlier, all parties had accepted that Bexley Council was in no way implicated in the crime, it was Craske’s and Craske alone.
• The DPS has been unable to give any reason for the police calling that meeting, indeed they have not mentioned it in their report at all.
• At a meeting with Elwyn and me in December 2012 a Detective Sergeant in Bexley admitted that the case had been “crippled by political interference”.
• When those comments reached the ears of the Borough Commander in January 2013 they were denied.
• In a telephone interview with the DPS that same officer agreed that the words "crippled by political interference" had been used.
If that officer could see the political interference, how is it that nobody else can?
There were innumerable silly mistakes too, like filling in dates on forms incorrectly and delaying evidence that should have gone to forensics immediately.
Is it possible that the delay was contrived to push the enquiry out of time? When the CPS showed the police how that could be overcome they did nothing - until a new Borough Commander came on the scene, a Commander unaware of the need to comply with Bexley Council’s every wish.
When I write letters of complaint I try to keep them to a maximum size of one double sided A4 sheet. The Appeal letter is eight pages long with nearly 30 pages of appended documents. It will cost a fortune to post. A copy will be sent electronically too.
By the end of this week things may be back to normal on BiB with one or more Scrutiny meeting reports. Tomorrow I have to find a dressing gown for an old lady, she is feeling a bit better now.
Here’s something that was received two weeks ago and slipped through
the net; Bexley Council’s propaganda sheet explaining their latest
cock-up, the Albion Road ‘improvements’.
Click image for four pages of Council propaganda.
Things are not quite as described, the changes to Gravel Hill began last
January and were supposed to be completed within ten months. Now we learn that
work will continue until next Spring. 50% longer than planned then?
Having messed up a perfectly good road by installing cycle tracks almost at random, Bexley Council is now encouraging cyclists to ride on the footpath, probably good advice given how narrow the main carriageways are.
On the southern side of Albion Road there is a cycle lane except where it is needed most. At the junctions and roundabouts. Councillor Davey had it right when he said the roads in Bexley are Bonkers.
One of my correspondents spent a long time analysing the propaganda sheet, far more time than I have free so let’s go with him
Better Access to the Town centre
Quote: ‘The central brick wall barrier which cut off the north and south sides of Albion Road has been removed to open up the street’. Unquote.
In the same context how about also removing the end sections of the massive six foot high wall across the top end of Royal Oak Road (south side of Albion Road)?
New brighter street lighting
Quote: ‘… and provide better colour definition’. Unquote.
The LED lights give everything a ghostly grey pallor ideal perhaps for Hammer House of Horror films but not very attractive for residents.
Quote: ‘New footpaths …. where cyclists will be allowed to share them… ’Unquote.
This would seem to be contrary the Highway Code where the only reference I can find is that cyclists MUST NOT ride on pavements. Note the use of MUST NOT in the Highway Code makes it a legal requirement and offenders liable to prosecution.
Also Quote ‘Dark paving indicates that the footpath is shared between pedestrians and cyclists.Light paving indicates that the footpath is pedestrian only’. Unquote.
Again cannot find any reference to this this in the Highway Code. Wonder how would you expect cyclists and pedestrians to be aware of this distinction?
Six new pedestrian crossings
Quote: ‘…a new form of zebra crossing which allows cyclists to also cross at the side of the pedestrian striped zone. … drivers are expected to stop when a pedestrian OR CYCLIST is crossing…’Unquote.
Again I cannot find this in the Highway Code and wonder how would you intend to educate drivers that they must also stop for cyclists at these crossings?
Oaklands Car park to Townley Road
Quote: ‘… with an overrunnable central divide… ’ Unquote.
Partially over runnable might be a truer description since the whole central divide has edge kerbing with some of it up to approximately six inches high. In addition the central divide would seem to have been designed by someone with a very wonky flexicurve or after one too many at lunchtime. The central divide kerb lines wander around all over the place for no obvious reason.
Quote: ‘A new pedestrian crossing has been provided at Royal Oak Road…’ Unquote.
It is just a pity that it is on the west side of Royal Oak Road where it leads smack into a six foot high brick wall. Had the crossing been positioned on the east side of Royal Oak Road it would have been adjacent to a section of the wall which could (should) be removed.
Quote: ‘No Right Turn is permitted out of (Royal Oak Road)’ Unquote.
Why not? Vehicles are presumably permitted right turns out of the Conservatory Club car park and Cardamon Court. Why not Royal Oak Road also? In addition the Council has narrowed the exit/entrance of Royal Oak Road by curving out the kerb line for no apparent benefit since there still needs to be sufficient width for traffic both ways at this junction.
The south side edge strip of Albion Road between Royal Oak Road and the War Memorial has still to be finished. It is presently being used as a Conway dumping area.
Townley Road to Highland Road and Highland Road to Gravel Hill
The provision of parking bays with little islands on the outside of the cycle lane between Pincott Road and Victoria Road seems bizarre. All properties along this stretch have access to parking in their rear gardens that they could readily use.
In addition the kerb line along this stretch has peculiar kinks. Conways really should learn to use a taut stringline. Just stand by the junction with Pincott Road say and sight along the kerbline. The greenest of apprentices could have set it out better. Trust you have a contract provision making Conway responsible for redoing poor workmanship at their cost.
In contrast to the above cycle lane plus parking lane bays on the south side of Albion Road on the North side there are sections without even a cycle lane viz. between Townley Road roundabout and the shopping centre car park entrance and again from the shopping centre car park exit to the Marriott Hotel car park entrance/exit.
What is the point of spending vast amounts of TFL money and with the massive disruption to residents lives all to provide cycle lanes but then totally omit large sections? The pavement in these sections is amply wide enough to accommodate a separate cycle lane plus footpath.
The Townley Road and Highland Road roundabouts have still to be completed. If planting is proposed I trust it will it include bluebells to replace those which were massacred by Conways.
Update on Gravel Hill improvements
Quote: ‘The improvements are expected to be complete in Spring 2018’ Unquote.
When the work commenced in January 2017 there were notices stating that it would be complete in ten months i.e. October 2017. Hence an overrun in the order of 6 months is now being predicted. Trust for the costs associated with this overrun are down to Conways.
Could Conways be prevailed upon to prioritise the total finishing of ALL, repeat ALL, work between Oakland car park roundabout and Gravel Hill i.e. line painting, roundabout approach island infill etc. etc. and then to remove all their paraphernalia (barriers, cones ,materials etc.) and all their equipment from this section of Albion Road.
I drove from the direction of the bus garage, past the Civic Offices and down Gravel Hill twice last week. All the roads are being made narrower with kerbs built out from their previous positions. My family road safety expert has told me several times that all things being equal narrow roads are not as safe as wide roads because they encourage head on collisions.
I’m not sure how he has the cheek to demand such large fees for advice like that because it is a statement of the blooming obvious isn’t it?
Bexley has not only made Albion Road narrower they have removed the central reservation. And the borough’s accident statistics are creeping up.
Will my correspondent get an answer to his questions? Not one he will like obviously.
Lame Excuses Department 2
More time or less for BIB following the hospitalisation?
What I hadn’t bargained for is the number of calls from friends seeking information, one lasted 55 minutes, and from NHS staff. When Newham’s utterly useless Social Workers start to ring they are going to get a very curt response. Before I even speak to them I will demand an apology for writing to me a little over two years ago to say all my aunt’s problems were due to me expecting too much help.
I have been going to East Ham at least weekly for 30 years and have never asked Newham Council for any help beyond their standard allocation of free parking permits. It was their totally incompetent Social Services Department who muscled in on the act against my aunt’s wishes.
They were one almighty disaster zone never getting anything right and when my complaint found its way to the Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, they became even stroppier.
I doubt that Paula Peaty will want to speak to me again.
Criminal Investigation Department 2
No progress. I have ten more days to get the Appeal in. Should be enough; but that is what I always say.
Useless Head of Waste Department 2
I suppose it shouldn’t take long to dash off a note to the Information Commissioner’s Office to tell them that not only has Bexley Council failed to meet the FOI timetable, they are also refusing to enter into any correspondence about it.
Their reasons will be simple enough, if they tell me the truth Steve Didsbury will be on the receiving end of a complaint that he did nothing as soon as he discovered who was trying to help him.
Christmas Decorations Department 2
I didn’t find out who is responsible for the Christmas lighting in Wilton Road because there was no one at last night’s meeting who might know beyond those I had already asked. The Greenwich Council officer didn’t attend as planned for what is probably a very good reason which must remain under wraps, however a couple of topics are not in any way confidential; everyone who goes around with their eyes open will have worked out one for themselves anyway.
Now that Bexley Council has built a rather nice footpath from the Knee Hill roundabout to the station concourse where one never existed until two weeks ago; people who live in the Co-op Estate area of Abbey Wood have no further need to use Wilton Road.
A very gentle slope over the flyover is far preferable to dropping down into Wilton Road and then climbing 42 steps. It could eventually kill the village shops, especially with Bexley Council planning an attractive alternative facility on the other side of the railway.
The other little thing brought to my attention last night is obvious but only if you take a moment to think about it.
While picking up a copy of the Telegraph this morning a lady who lives almost under the flyover asked me what I thought of the new station. “It is ugly” I said. She agreed, adding “it looks like a space ship dropped out of the sky”, and that’s the problem. It doesn’t look like a railway station and from ground level there is nothing to suggest it is a railway station.
The shopkeepers were reporting that people come into the Wilton Road shops and ask for directions to Abbey Wood station. The only clue to it being a station is the old British Railways sign 35 feet up in the air above the lift shaft - and that cannot be seen from Wilton Road.
Earlier today the Network Rail boss told me when the Felixstowe Road lifts will open. It is really appreciated how much inside information he is prepared to pass on but his forecast for the Gayton Road lifts was wrong (and he has since explained why) so I am not going to risk looking silly by handing out Crossrail dates again.
Note: This blog may have been longer but I am dragged away to deal with something for the Abbey Wood Traders’ Association. I get the distinct impression that the two Councils do not like the idea of me being the AWTA’s Secretary cum Odd Job Man. I suspect I will be eased out by political interference before long which will be a win-win situation. I won’t have to write the minutes but I bet I still get to see them - without perhaps feeling quite so much that I must protect the contents.
Lame Excuses Department
The aunt in East Ham was transformed from a remarkably self-sufficient 97 year old to a gibbering wreck over the weekend and she is now tucked up in Newham hospital. I’m not sure yet whether that will result in more spare time for BiB or less.
Fearing a stroke or worse the initial diagnosis has proved far more encouraging. A thyroid deficiency that is off the scale, lowest the consultant has ever seen, resulting in hypothermia (33°), extreme confusion and near total loss of voice.
She has always had a thyroid deficiency and now I learn it should have been tested every six months and it was last tested in the summer of 2014. The GP simply refused to make visits insisting the old lady phoned and made an appointment in the normal way. Despite complaints I got a doctor out only once in those three years - for a leg ailment - after threatening to call the MP for East Ham and claiming him as an old school friend. Not entirely true, we went to the same school but I am twelve years older than he is. But I once shook his hand in church!
Rather too late in the day I realise that being constantly cold and running electric fires throughout the summer was an alarm signal a doctor might recognise when I didn’t.
So don’t ignore it if your old folk are always cold.
Criminal Investigation Department
Elwyn Bryant and I spent an afternoon refining the Craske cover-up Appeal letter to the IPCC. We were looking at the bit of the DPS report on what happened right at the beginning of the failed enquiry when two police officers went to chat with a few people in Bexley Council’s Chief Executive’s office.
The police should have interviewed the Council officer who Elwyn and I had been with who would have known everything that showed up on the obscene blog fewer than 24 hours later, but the police could not remember much about it and any statements had gone AWOL.
Elwyn had a brainwave, a vague recollection that he knew more about that meeting than the police pretended to. We found the evidence.
Back in 2011 the police didn’t know one blogger from another and their malicious politically motivated prosecution of the blogger then known as Olly Cromwell muddled his blog with Bonkers. The police actually sent out a press release with my name on it and not Olly’s, but that is another story.
Buried in the Olly Cromwell evidence bundle is the statement which reveals the lies told by Bexleyheath police officers - it is written evidence that what they said to the DPS was not entirely truthful. The DPS may not have known about the statement, it was filed with the wrong case papers.
Bexleyheath police were not really in the Civic Offices to investigate the obscene blog they were discussing how the tables could be turned on the victim, which may partially explain why Chief Executive Will Tuckley wrote to Bexley police suggesting they try prosecuting me for its publication.
So there are a few revisions to the Appeal letter to be made.
History and English Language Department
Someone with a long memory has sort of suggested why Cheryl Curr is off her head.
A newspaper report from 2001 reveals how a camel had the good sense to throw her over its shoulders and bounce her along a road in Cairo.
Maybe the injuries are more permanent than at first thought.
Not that the head teacher has things all his own way in this debate. Some readers are hot under the collar about a school Principal who cannot spell principle. Quite right too!
Street Cleaning Department
Bexley Council, on behalf of the blog addicted Peter Craske, is looking for a name for his new street cleaning toy. The Council has thought it worthy of a Press Release.
That Craske should be besotted by something that will spend most of its working life in the gutter is entirely natural but a catchy name will be hard to find. If I suggest one it will be ignored.
So that rules out a reader’s Porno Pete and, from one of BiB’s surprisingly large number of readers with parliament.uk email addresses, Liar McLiarface.
God Save Us from Sadiq Khan Department
The dominant bus theme at Transport User meetings is how passenger numbers are in decline, the reason being that buses are just too damn slow. I have stopped using them for that exact reason.
So in another example of joined up thinking the gormless Mayor has decided that making all main roads 20 m.p.h. zones is a good plan.
When we get autonomous buses capable of driving themselves - with a driver on board I must add before anyone gets too excited - they will not be capable of exceeding speed limits so then we can be sure that bus journeys will be even slower and TfL revenues will fall even more.
Believe me, it will happen.
Useless Head of Waste Department
Not another Steve Didsbury three weeks overdue FOI story, but close.
Bexley Council has issued another of its Press Releases and its street bins for plastics are for the chop. The problem is contamination and it is a very real problem. But is the solution to take the bins away?
If I was a bin contaminator seeing no plastics bin I’d just dump my stuff in the paper bin instead. How is withdrawing bins ever a good idea? The Council says the contents of a contaminated bin have to go to landfill, but so will the rubbish strewn around the streets. Who is gaining by Bexley’s move, except perhaps the people who run the service?
Christmas Decorations Department
The Abbey Wood Traders will gather for their monthly meeting in the Abbey Arms this evening and not a drop will be drunk, never has been so why change things just because Christmas approaches?
I will be sworn to secrecy again so if the Councils have anything interesting to say I will try to keep shtum. However I will try to find out who is responsible for Wilton Road’s Christmas lights. I do not remember seeing them in previous years and none of the traders I have spoken to, even the Chairman of their Association, has any idea where they came from.
Last week I heard the Bexleyheath Business Improvement District manager address
the Places Scrutiny Committee. Nothing remarkable about that; it was
interesting to hear him say that the BID gets little credit for all the
activities it arranges and the town improvements it introduces because everyone
assumes the Council has done it.
No wonder Bexley Council is so keen on BIDs. They sanctioned a new one in Sidcup about a year ago. Cabinet Member Linda Bailey is very proud of her achievement but it appears to be a Stalinist organisation devoid of any humanity or common sense.
Its manager, with the blessing of Bexley Council, has designated schools as profit making businesses within her remit. Her remit being basically to improve the profitability of shops.
The annual bill to Holy Trinity Lamorbey CE Primary School, along with four other schools, is £16,545 which is more than 10% of the BID’s total budget - and it goes indirectly into shops’ bank accounts.
Writing BiB for eight years has brought to my attention many examples of Bexley’s injustices but rarely if ever have I been as shocked as I am by the actions and attitude of the Sidcup BID Manager, Cheryl Curr.
Please read a school head teacher’s response, it tells you everything you need to know about the despicable Cheryl Curr and her supporters in Council. Next time Bexley Council tells you how good their education system is, remember the money that they are happy to see go into the BID’s pocket.
Unlike Sidcup, Bexleyheath’s BID does not levy unwarranted taxes on schools within its boundaries.
The Appeal letter to the IPCC which must inevitably follow the catalogue of
errors and unexplained failures by Bexley police on their Craske investigation is very nearly complete, it may
take a couple of days to find and add the required Appendices and make sure it all makes sense, but basically it is done.
So will BiB resume normal service tomorrow and report on the two recent Scrutiny meetings? Probably not.
The 97 year old aunt in East Ham has taken a turn for the worse and caused emergency situations on each of the past three days. Among other things she has decided that “now she I am nearly 69 I think it is time I gave up work. Will I have to send them a letter?”.
Worse is that she has suddenly started to do things which I consider to be dangerous.
So a Scrutiny meeting report tomorrow? I doubt it. I have a date in East Ham.
In local news, I was lucky enough to be in the right place when the Abbey Wood station footbridge was trundled out of town this morning. The plastic barriers have been removed from Wilton Road but Bexley Council has not yet removed their parking restriction notices which no longer serve any purpose - except perhaps to unnecessarily fleece motorists.
38 bridge removal pictures.
Bexley Council put up new parking restriction notices in Wilton Road at the beginning of this week -
as if the shop keepers there hadn’t enough to contend with already.
I asked three of them on the Bexley side if they knew what was going on; none did, not even by yesterday afternoon. However a Greenwich Council notice appeared on the other side of the road and provided some information.
Network Rail have closed the railway line all weekend so that they can remove the mid-platform footbridge that served the temporary Abbey Wood booking hall and some very large vehicles require access.
It was Network Rail, or more precisely their main contractor Balfour Beatty, who put out the barriers early yesterday morning. If it was left any later the weekend disabled parkers might arrive and block the road. The barriers were subsequently extended all the way to the junction with Abbey Road. Why the weighted plastic blocks had to be placed end on end and not with short gaps between them is hard to fathom. As a result not only is Wilton Road parking space more than halved, no pedestrian can cross the road either.
It may all prove to be overkill, the footbridge was taken down at 4 a.m. this morning and the low loaders to take it away are due in around midday (or midnight dependent on who you ask) today - but the parking restrictions will not be removed until Tuesday morning. Thanks Bexley Council.
We may have the Royal Borough to thank for the only source of prior information on what is going on but on the other side of the track Greenwich is not doing so well. The Felixstowe Road stairs to the station opened on 26th October but the litter bins on the path which leads to them have not been emptied even once. (Photo 4.)
Note: Several gaps were created in the barrier a couple of hours after this blog was first posted.
Appeal against the Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards’
report into how Bexleyheath police contrived to delay and eventually
thoroughly compromise their investigation into the obscenities found on Cabinet
Member Peter Craske’s laptop must be submitted within the next two weeks.
The report took 2,000 days to compile, most of it in the last 500, and in 15 pages records a litany of failure by Bexleyheath police. Mistakes, inaction, snubbing Crown Prosecution Service advice and incompetence galore. Not to mention not even looking down any avenue that might lead to an embarrassing conclusion.
Compiling all the counter-arguments into a logical and readable form is not an easy task and the next three days have been set aside to do little else.
Unless something that can be reported within just a few minutes comes along, you will see nothing much here until Monday.