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News and Comment January 2017

Index: 201920202021

2 January (Part 2) - Bexley Council wouldn’t have the bottle for it

I’ve not been up Heron Hill recently but I think the site of Ye Olde Leather Bottle remains a scar on the landscape with as yet no sign of any redevelopment.

Leather Bottle WorkersAn anonymous communication - so be careful not to take this as Gospel - suggested that too many pub closures in Bexley link the same individuals both inside and outside Bexley Council. The writer did not beat around the bush, he said that the closure of Bexley pubs was being orchestrated from within Bexley Council and a developer of Indian extraction with links to the local Tory party was involved in a whole string of lucrative pub redevelopments.

Every time I went to Heron Hill with my camera in 2015 and 2016 I was abused - and once manhandled in a fairly minor way - by the man shown in the turban. He seemed to be very averse to any publicity.

I was able to establish some common links between a handful of local closed watering holes but for all I know the only people interested in developing old pubs are Tories. Not all coincidences are criminal and the promised written evidence that they were was not forthcoming, as is too often the case.

However there were references to poor demolition practices and my recollection was that Bexley Council was strangely reluctant to investigate in the case of the Leather Bottle. I have forgotten exactly why but I asked Mick Barnbrook if he could make a Freedom of Information request on anything Bexley Council might have relating to Health and Safety at the Heron Hill site.

Bexley Council was again very secretive but revealed that there was correspondence between it and the Health and Safety Executive. They didn’t want to release it, they never do, but maybe this time they have a valid excuse. This is what they said…

It is considered that there is a strong public interest in working to ensure the apprehension or prosecution of offenders. Consequently, the public interest favours withholding information that could impair the administration of justice if it were made public.

So it would appear that it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that someone will be prosecuted for demolishing a building while the public had pretty much unrestricted access to it. Towards the end of the demolition the only thing stopping me giving an unsupported wall a good shove was a bushy beard.

If there was a court case some uncomfortable facts might emerge which would most likely embarrass Bexley Council. I can’t see Bexley being too keen on such a course of action, especially if it links back to the prominent Tory to which the anonymous correspondence led.


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