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Bonkers Blog April 2018

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30 April - The lull before the Friday storm

Just asking
Every one of Bexley’s 21 electoral wards has a dedicated Safer Neighbourhood Police team. (SNT).
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With Friday’s reduction from 21 to 17 wards, where will the ‘redundant’ police officers go?

Not a soul to be seen
You may have a distant recollection of the sun shining just over a week ago. Councillor Peter Craske took the opportunity to tell us that his Cory funded Splash Park replacement in Belvedere was packed solid.

Unfortunately for him his photos told a different story.
Not a soul
And speaking of sunshine, here’s some statistics from my solar panels.

Nothing but gloom
If one arbitrarily gives the months of January to April in 2011 a sunshine quotient of 100, then the years since then would be rated at 109·14%, 87·73%, 116·85% in 2014, 113·35%, 106·60%, 104·57% and 86·19% this year.

With the country relying so much on solar for power these days the lack of sunshine and consequent fossil fuel consumption must be a huge drag on the economy.

Whatever went wrong?
In 1991 Bexley was within a pound a year of having the 3rd lowest tax rate in London, Only Westminster and Wandsworth were cheaper. Now 24 London boroughs are cheaper than Bexley. In those 27 years the Conservatives have had large majorities in 19 of them.

Low tax borough my ars foot!

New website - Famous last words?
The transition to mobile friendliness is progressing so well it is tempting it launch it now rather than next Monday. It’s not going to be perfect whether it goes now or in a month’s time, there is so much history to wade through and tweak but all the basics are done, some of the old pages may look a bit ragged when displayed wider than the original design width of 960 pixelsh, but that can be fixed given time and new pages should look just fine.

Unfortunately there is no way it can be introduced piecemeal, section by section, it will have to be a big bang solution.


29 April - Me a Socialist? Pull the other one

Today was supposed to be a day off from blogging and 100% heads down on website redesign. I think all the main features are working in mobile friendly form now, heads over banner are back, didn’t expect to get them ready by 7th May, and scrolling windows too. That proved to be a bit tricky but in the end the solution was easy. There is also a search facility but I am not sure I should make that public.

So I am only here to answer today’s anonymous message, there is no other way.

I am accused of being “too Socialist”. What me? It was only yesterday that I was arguing with Longlands Labour and one of their supporters who are enthusiasts for Money Trees. “Free stuff is good” they said - twice.

TweetCriticising Bexley Conservatives for their constant lying is not being Socialist and the only reason you have seen Lib Dem and Labour leaflets here is because I have not received any from the Conservatives.

There is no chance of Bexley being painted more than 50% red this week but it would be good for democracy if Bexley Council was more evenly balanced. Presumably the anonymous letter writer has never been to a Council meeting and seen how some Tories abuse their position. Council Leader Teresa O’Neill has frequently said that whatever she does is supported by the electorate because they voted her in with an overwhelming 45:15 majority.

“Do you agree we should save as much money as possible to keep taxes low” is the sort of question that she puts into consultations. “Yes” comes the answer and before you know it, she has sold half a dozen parks. When the opposition complains Our Dear Leader says that that is what voters voted for.

Don’t believe me? That’s because you have not seen ODL in action at Council meetings.

Advocating the delivery of a big shock to Teresa O’Neill on Thursday does not make me a Socialist but Bexley Council should be made to change direction. It is too powerful, too arrogant and too dishonest.

Yesterday’s Twitter exchange with hard line Socialists who think free stuff is good does not make that argument easier. I am no longer sure that I will practice what I preach. On the other hand I don’t live in Longlands ward.

My one and only ward leaflet - sent in by a BiB reader yesterday.
The low Council Tax lie is repeated. Only seven London Councils Tax higher.

My anonymous friend thinks that the CCTV system has no business being under Council Control. “A bit too 1984.” The police should run the CCTV 24/7 just as they do emergency vehicles he says.

Depends on if they are there for crime prevention or public safety presumably - and Socialist Mayor Khan would have to find another Money Tree.


28 April - CCTV : There is more to it than meets the eye

After the old map of Bexley Council’s CCTV cameras was published a few readers wondered if there was any point in having unmonitored cameras at all, they cover a restricted area and the chances of a camera pointing in the right direction at a critical moment would be pretty slim.

Spending £600,000 a year on a system that has only a small chance of being useful compared to £800,000 for someone to be watching for trouble all the time would appear to be a value for money upgrade. The ability to pan the cameras around would immediately double their coverage and zooming in would massively increase the chance of any recording being usable.

Bexley Conservatives pride themselves on giving value for money but they have got this one wrong haven’t they? Unfortunately they are far too stubborn to change their minds and in the nine years I have been watching them closely every single petition has been either rejected or ignored. The only possibility of change comes on 3rd May. It is time for a few bloody noses around here. Teresa and Co. need to be taught a lesson.

At the recent Cabinet and Council meetings, Labour leader Daniel Francis referred to a letter he had received from the staff who used to monitor the CCTV 24/7. It is a very revealing document and opens one’s eyes to just how much is being lost through Cabinet Member Craske’s crass decision.

Click image above to read all five pages. (PDF)
Image below is another short extract.


Note: Councillor Francis referred to a six page letter. The copy presented here is the same letter but redundant line spaces have been removed, hence only five pages.


27 April - Belvedere matters but so does all of Bexley

Not having 25 party leaflets to put on line as happened four years ago means that when someone does bother to knock on my door and shove a piece of paper into my hand it can take pride of place here instead of being hidden away in a folder somewhere.

It is only the second leaflet I have received, both Labour.

I know the three people shown in the Belvedere leaflet and whilst they are a bit to the left of me the suggestion by Bexley Conservatives that they are “hard left” is absolutely ridiculous, if they were you would have heard all about it long ago on Bonkers.

There is a small number of very nasty people standing under the Tory banner and currently in top roles, I wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole. The Labour people deserve a chance to show us a more honest and better way than we have seen in recent years.
It is likely that the weekend will be taken up by web coding. The foundations are being laid for Bonkers being searchable, whether it will ever come off is another matter.


26 April (Part 2) - Mobile friendly Bonkers

The transition of Bonkers from everything being of fixed size to something that is infinitely scalable is progressing quite well. The pages expand seamlessly from a mobile screen to Ultra HD (4k.) size. The photos look quite impressive at that size although they begin to pixelate once they get past the original fixed 960 pixel page width. There will have to be a re-think about image sizes, a compromise between higher resolution and data allowance and speed.

Some of the older pages are never likely to lend themselves to a mobile sized screen unless scrapped and completely rewritten but all the blogs, indices and report pages work as intended.

The greatest amount of work is in the banner and menu area and at the outset at least some facilities will be lost; no text size configuration for example.

The plan to completely lose some of the old content has been abandoned as it causes too many broken links and errors. It is unlikely that the old stuff will be restored to the menus, a lot of it wasn’t there anyway.

There will only be one menu, currently there are two which appear dependent on the type of page being viewed.

Enough of this boring stuff, the new system is scheduled to go live on Bank Holiday Monday 7th May. BiB will be in a mess for much of the day but with luck not as big a mess as TSB has been this week.


26 April (Part 1) - The Council Leader’s report allowed yet more electioneering

At last we come to the Leader’s report to Full Council. She said it was a busy period in which the Council Tax had gone up by 3·99% “achieved through good housekeeping on this side of the Chamber”.
“The Growth Strategy, our long term vision for the future of our borough was approved. The C2E [Crossrail extension] report is due in May and we are hopeful of good results but we have to wait and see. Our proposals for The Place and Making Institute, there is a lot of interest around that and it is very exciting. BexleyCo; hopefully it will bring about sympathetic development with the benefits coming to our residents.”

The London Borough of Culture, we were unsuccessful but we should put on record and congratulate all those who pulled together the bid. We have a very good set of officers and we have achieved one hell of a lot over the past four years.”

MayorCouncillor Val Clarke (Conservative, Falcon Wood & Welling) wanted the Leader to congratulate the people responsible for ‘up cycling’ old bikes. “Yes it is fantastic.” (Old bikes are refurbished by Sidcup Cycles and given to schools.)

Councillor Eileen Pallen (Conservative, Barnehurst) trod a similar path on the subject of Adult Services. Cabinet Member Brad Smith had his script at the ready. Everything is wonderful.

Councillor James Hunt (Conservative, East Wickham) repeated the stunt with Children’s Services. Councillor Smith had a script for that too. Bexley is doing a lot better than Bromley, Croydon and Lewisham. 2,110, 3,726 and 4,269 children in temporary accommodation respectively. Bexley has only 1,808.

Councillor Daniel Francis (Labour, Belvedere) said that those boroughs were carefully selected. Labour controlled Greenwich has fewer children in temporary accommodation than Bexley. Bexley has “by its policies seen those in temporary accommodation rise by 250% over the past four years”.

He referred to the decision to sack all the CCTV operatives and the petition to restore live monitoring. The police have at best the facility to track two cameras while the Council had 48 and no staff to review the footage. “Will the Leader accept that monitoring should be reinstated.”

Cabinet Member Peter Craske said that a Labour Motion on CCTV restoration “was only for twelve months, it said it in an amendment to the Motion. The proposal is a waste of time and money and it is not serious. It is a slap in the face for everyone in this borough, one of the safest places to live in, and a joke”.

Councillor Melvin Seymour (Conservative, Northumberland Heath) asked the Leader if LED lighting is a good idea. She and Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer said it was a very good idea. “It will save £450,000 a year in energy and another £150,00 in maintenance.”

Councillor Stefano Borella’s (Labour, North End) microphone failed and I only half heard his question about education. Cabinet Member John Fuller said the Council was unable to influence their decisions to become Academies.

Councillor Borella was not the first to suffer microphone failure, most had failed to work, or if they did, only intermittently, throughout the meeting. Councillor Seán Newman (Labour, Belvedere) asked how any record of the meeting could be kept. Cabinet Member Don Massey said the Council “had really tried to sort something out. When tested it works perfectly and we can’t find the gremlin in the system. I am annoyed.”

StewardThe Chief Executive, renowned for her ability to fix toilets, apologised and said she would have the audio system fixed.

It fell to Councillor David Leaf (Conservative, Longlands) to ask the last question. He wanted to know what the benefits would be of reducing the number of Councillors in Bexley. As a Conservative candidate who backed the idea you might think he should have known that already.

Cabinet Member Don Massey “said it would save about £400,000 per annum” and then he managed to provoke a pathetic argument over which party was in favour of the reduction. They all were.

The Mayor, Councillor Peter Reader has proved himself to be the most effective Chairman of Council meetings over the past eight years, shut him up. Fortunately for us the allotted time had run out.

Nobody asked a question about infrastructure but the written Leader’s report records that Council officers attended the MIPM property exhibition in Paris last month and that the Peabody Compulsory Purchase Inquiry was ongoing. (I believe it has subsequently ruled in Peabody’s favour but Google has let me down.)

The Erith station public Realm improvements are due for completion “before Christmas” and those on the Harrow Manorway flyover by next July.


25 April (Part 2) - Neglect leads to Crime & Disorder

Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, North End) kindly got in touch to tell me a little of what goes on late at night on the trains and buses; I see nothing of it because I have almost given up travelling on buses and spend far too long glued to a keyboard.

Despite what Bexley Conservatives like to claim, there is quite a lot of crime about.
The Harrow Manorway flyover was closed throughout last Sunday night while police and paramedics dealt with an incident. No one knows exactly what happened, there was no official word at all.
Rumour said it was a road rage incident that became violent and then someone was run over by a passing car. But you know how stories can develop and there was nothing in the News Shopper. When there was last an incident like that in Abbey Wood a newspaper reporter said on Facebook that the police refused to tell him anything.

Unlike Abbey Wood’s incident the gunman in Crayford did result in a very brief report in the News Shopper.

What is becoming of Bexley? According to Bexley Council the HMO situation is not helping.

The absence of information led to one concerned individual going over to Claston Close to take a look. This is his abbreviated report…

When I arrived in Claston Close I approached a police officer to ask what was going on. He couldn’t say, all requests for information must go to the police’s press office. I have since contacted them twice and still no response.

Not only has there been no response there has been no dialogue between the police and the elderly residents who reside in Claston Close. No reassurance that everything may now be safe resulting in some residents being too scared to open their front doors.

I spoke to a resident who was very anxious, so much so that his hands would not stop shaking. He calmed down after a while and explained how there was a stabbing in the building last week and occupants were having to get used to seeing drug dealers and young people hanging around and terrorising the place.

Smoke GoldI left that resident and found an 85 year old who invited me in. Several weeks ago youths set light to a locker room directly below and all their property was covered in black smoke.

This happened around midnight and her smoke alarm didn’t go off and had she been in bed at this late hour might have died.

When the fire brigade arrived, they checked the smoke alarm and said it needed to be changed. It still has not been changed and the resident had to throw out many of her ruined possessions. There has been no compensation and no one from L&Q visited to see if everyone is ok.

Residents want to know why a building allocated to the elderly is now being occupied and over run by alcoholics, yobs, drug dealers and bullies.

Lib DemThe media has not reported anything and there has been no interest from Councillors; the police give no answers while residents live in fear.

Every one of those I spoke to were begging for CCTV and the Council does nothing.

These elderly residents need a voice, I’m not scared of bullies and something needs to be done now! I will contact L&Q and make sure this resident gets a new smoke alarm and some respect. Their place, when I walked in, still reeked of fumes and smoke. I opened some windows.

I looked at the notice board to find out who is in charge, and I was amazed to see the building had been rated “Gold Standard” by L&Q. There are fly tips everywhere. It needs CCTV and the months of neglect by L&Q is absolutely appalling.

The man who immediately took an interest is Sean Ash the Liberal Democrat candidate for Crayford. The Councillors under whose watch the situation developed  are Geraldene Lucia- Hennis, John Davey and Christine Bishop.


25 April (Part 1) - Bexley Council. Inflexible killjoys

Looks good if you are into that sort of thing but it doesn’t matter now, the petty bureaucrats at Bexley Council are pushing it towards moving out.

£4·2 million was spent on providing improved facilities at Lesnes Abbey and most of it came from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Lesnes Abbey Update
We are sad to announce that  after careful consideration we have regrettably taken the decision to close the yoga at our Lesnes Abbey location.

On Friday 13th April I met with representatives of Bexley Council (who own and operate the Lodge at Lesnes Abbey).

I’ve expressed my concerns about the temperature of the room, which as we move towards summer will become much warmer. At present it is against the council’s rules to prop open the door as we have been doing to increase the airflow so they have asked that we stop doing this. The venue are also unable to provide a fan and if I want to bring my own it will need to be electrically tested (at my own expense). They also said they are considering charging hirers for electricity for any such appliances.

They have said we can have the sliding door open, but this is only possible when a member of Council staff is present, so it’s not something we can rely on every weekend.

I take the health of our students very seriously and unless this issue is resolved we will be unable to offer classes at the lodge over the summer. We have bookings at the lodge until the May 20th, and that will be our last class at Lesnes Abbey for the Summer.

We have escalated our concerns and hopefully we can reinstate the classes later in the year in the cooler months

If you have a block booking I would encourage you to use them up before this date. However they will be transferable to all other classes (including Thursday classes at St Paul’s Academy, and monthly Pop!UpYoga see the schedule here).

Our 8pm Thursday classes at St Paul’s Academy will continue over May and June, and we can look into introducing a more regular Monday Night class.

We’re currently exploring other venues that are more suitable for our purposes from June. We don’t plan to have regular weekend classes though.

Pop!Up Yoga s one way we are trialling out other local spaces, ( Our June one is at the Street Feast in Woolwich!)

I am sure you are all disappointed, I do hope you understand, and I can only apologise for the inconvenience caused but I have tried everything.
Please contact the parks and open spaces team regarding other classes at the lodge, contact details are available here
Please feel free to reach out to me directly for any other info or questions.
I hope you will enjoy our last classes, book using code SPRING30- and get 30% off all classes at Lesnes Abbey

Note: The above information was picked up while web trawling and does not appear by request of the Yoga Club.


24 April (Part 3) - The choice

You can lose parks, continue to spend a great deal of money on a CCTV system that is no longer allowed to reach its full potential or you can put your trust in this man.


24 April (Part 2) - On the slow train

If you live within easy reach of Slade Green or Abbey Wood stations and work in north London you may be in for a treat in four weeks time. On 20th May a new service will connect Rainham and Luton running on the North Kent line via Blackfriars, Farringdon and King’s Cross. It will be nice to be able to avoid that rather dreadful interchange between the main line and the Underground at London Bridge but maybe not so nice that you will only have a train every 30 minutes and it is slow. The 11:15 from Dartford is typical, it doesn’t get to London Bridge until 11:58 (43 minutes) and that is after missing three stations.

New generationA few years ago an all stations train would do the journey in 39 minutes. Where has all that money gone?

On expensive slogans perhaps?

For the past three or four weeks I have most days seen the Thameslink test train head down towards Rainham and back again at midday. Today I decided I should try to get some pictures.

The train was ten minutes late due to a broken down Southeastern train and a trespasser on the line near Dartford. It went racing through Abbey Wood which didn’t seem like much of a test to me. Aren’t they going to practice stopping?

The Siemens built class 700 train is new and has already acquired a dubious reputation. Passengers complain of hard seats and 29 degrees Celsius on board temperatures.

Thameslink Thameslink Thameslink Thameslink

The route map and timetable is available here. Not easy to use. I would recommend searching the PDF for Abbey Wood or whatever. Otherwise you may finish up in Bedford or Littlehampton.


24 April (Part 1) - The questions fraud continues

The Leader didn’t really need to parade three sham members of the public in front of the Cabinet to ask silly questions, they had 45 Councillors who could have done the same thing. Actually 44 as Maxine Fothergill has not shown up at any Council meeting in the past six months and maybe a more limited choice if some Councillors retain any integrity after four years of toeing Teresa’s line. Fortunately for her Andy Dourmoush (Conservative, Longlands) another Councillor, like Fothergill and the Masseys, who does not live in the borough has mislaid his scruples. I am a little surprised, he has always seemed to be a decent enough chap.

His question worthy of the worst classroom creep was aimed at Cabinet Member for Finance Don Massey.
DourmoushCouncillor Dourmoush didn’t really need to ask Don Massey that question because all the figures are available on Bonkers. The Labour administration hit Bexley’s pockets really hard and the Tories since then have managed to hit us just a little bit harder.

Complaining that Labour dumped us near the top of the high Council Tax League - only eight Councils charged more - while making that bad situation worse is not a legacy that Councillor Massey should be crowing about.

Cabinet Member Massey appeared at first to struggle to conceal the raw facts so he immediately digressed and compared London Labour Councils with Conservative run ones more generally. Ignoring the fact that Labour run Newham has the lowest Council Tax in Outer London he said there was an amazing correlation between high tax and Labour Councils.

He had to go back to 1994 to find Bexley figures that might suit his agenda and told us that in the four years of a Lib/Lab coalition the Council Tax rates went up by “a stunning 67%”. For the following Conservative period he could only say they were “substantially lower”. Let me help him, the increase was just over 25%.

Councillor Massey can perhaps rightly claim that the Conservative Council has tried to keep tax rates low but what he doesn’t want to tell you is that Bexley has done less well than other high taxing Councils. It used to be lower than Labour run Haringey for example and now it isn’t.

Councillor Dourmoush then felt obliged to indulge in a spot of muck raking by mentioning the name Munir Malik a former Bexley Labour Councillor who said four years ago that the borough was on a path heading towards municipal bankruptcy. “Could the Cabinet Member explain how he avoided that scenario and does he agree that Mr. Malik’s return to the Labour fold tells us all we need to know about what Labour’s plans for Bexley would be?”

Councillor Massey said it was down to “basic financial sense and hard work. The problem with the opposition is that they like spending money. They left reserves far too low”.

DeadmanCouncillor Alan Deadman put in a plea for the lowest paid Council workers to be paid more but Councillor Massey (£27,000 Council allowances, a well paid job in Financial Services and a Register of Interests which is two years out of date) said “we can only spend the money we have got and I do not agree with Councillor Deadman”.

Mr. Munir Malik did not stand for election in 2014 but is a Labour candidate in Crayford in 2018.

Councillor Melvyn Seymour (Conservative, Crayford) kindly provided Cabinet Member Peter Craske with an opportunity to spin the library story. Would it be fiction or non-fiction?

Councillor Craske said that attendance at libraries across the country had been declining for the past 20 years “but here in Bexley, as ever, we buck the trend. Unlike other boroughs which have closed them or sold them off we have invested in our libraries”.

“We have the workary in Welling library and 3,000 people attended our book festival. I am very proud of what we achieved.”

Councillor Seymour¹s supplementary ‘question’ to Councillor Craske was to ask if he would “thank all the staff involved for their work in making Crayford Library the home of the new Post Office”. If that was a public question it would not be allowed on the grounds that it is not a question. On the other hand the rules tend to fly out of the window when nothing critical is said.

“Yes I would” came the reply and people queuing for a stamp had caused “footfall to go up 87% and items borrowed by 21%. Three libraries have been refurbished in three months” leading up to the election.

FerreiraCouncillor Joe Ferreira (Labour, Erith) asked what progress had been made towards allowing libraries to accept payment for “the full portfolio of Council services”.

Cabinet Member’s answer is best summarised as none. He chose instead to waffle about a cinema in Sidcup and accused Labour of wanting to close libraries.

As mayhem began to break out the Mayor’s egg-timer once again dropped its last grain of sand thus rescuing Cabinet Member Craske from further embarrassment.


23 April (Part 2) - Broadway. Some loath it, few love it

Trinity PlaceI received an enquiry about road design earlier today so I passed it on to my son who knows about such things. Among the wealth of documentation that came back was research into shared space which is what we have in Bexleyheath Broadway. I don’t need to tell you how controversial it has been.

My son always gives a “the jury is out” response to a direct question about shared space safety but others have been more outspoken. According to the folk at Bristol University the research that backs shared space is flawed. They suggest that where accidents have reduced in number it is only because pedestrians have been frightened away.

Those who question the concept may get a warm feeling from reading their comprehensive report.

Shared space

Click for source document.

Maybe there is a tenuous link here to a recent message. Why is Conway’s work always so shoddy? it said and went on to refer to the paving outside ASDA breaking up. Unremarkable you might think, everyone says that. I agree but they are not usually Conway employees.

To be fair I think the new paving on the Harrow Manorway flyover (scroll down a few pics) looks quite good. Nearer Eastern Way the unfinished work looks to be somewhat chaotic.


23 April (Part 1) - Rent it Wrong

I wondered if it is in some way part of their attack on rogue landlords but Bexley Council has embarked on another of their on-line surveys. The latest is at

It was first noticed over the weekend when it appeared to be suffering technical problems which most people may not have noticed. It was redirecting to an http site and not a secure https. Considering how much personal information is requested it was a pretty poor show by Bexley Council’s contractor. It would probably fall foul of the new General Data Protection Regulations. Fortunately the survey contained contact details and the error has been speedily corrected.

I got as far as Page 3 of the survey before deciding it was getting far too nosy for me.

If the survey is in some way connected to HMOs and landlord licensing it provides an excuse to pull together a few snippets of information from a variety of sources.

Rent it RightCouncillor Maxine Fothergill told me just before I got news of her libel case that she and others had concerns that Bexley Council was not addressing the HMO problem in a sensible manner. The real problems arose not so much from rogue landlords but from rogue tenants and their Anti-Social Behaviour.

She claimed that Teresa Pearce MP shared her concerns but the Council officer involved, Kevin Murphy, dismissed them totally. Mr. Murphy was congratulated by the Deputy Director at the Cabinet meeting for the part he played in setting up the licensing scheme.

An FOI designed to extract location evidence for ASB was refused on the grounds that addresses were personal. Councillor Fothergill said that some of the tenants were “very undesirable”.

The correspondence went on to say “the licensing scheme is in a mess over how to implement the scheme and police it”. One of the issues was that Bexley Council consulted only Bexley based landlords and that had been ruled unlawful by the Courts. (R. Regas v LB Enfield.)

Councillor Fothergill was associated with those who were keen to Judicially Review her own Council.

Since Fothergill faded from the scene further comment has been difficult to come by.

Not all landlords are rogues and some are capable of reasoned research. That has led them to believe that Bexley Council has managed to licence only 26 HMOs out of the 224 known to them and 43% of ASB incidents are allegedly traceable to those HMOs. There are no indications that Bexley Council knows how to tackle the problem with its HMOs.

Housing Association tenants are said to be responsible for levels of ASB not far short of HMOs but Bexley Council is allegedly unconcerned by that. They publish only a combined figure for Housing Associations and owner occupiers where ASB is rare and thereby mask the facts. Landlords say that is a deliberate deception. Housing Associations are exempt from licensing.

The 3,000 privately rented properties are said to be responsible for 17% of Bexley’s ASB which suggests to me the true figure for the exempted Housing Associations may be around 40%.

It has been reported - but evidence is now impossible to obtain - that Bexley’s panel which considered the licensing scheme was against Selective Licensing but their decision was mysteriously omitted from the minutes of their meeting. Just like an EU referendum result, it was not the right answer.

The landlords claim that Selective Licensing will target only a small percentage of the properties responsible for ASB and cost in excess of £1.3 million to implement. It is further suggested that if Bexley fails to enforce Selective Licensing as it has the mandatory HMO licensing it will not only fail to tackle ASB but not cover its costs either.

Covering costs will require licensing to reach 100% and even the optimists at Bexley Council do not envisage that for at least five years.

I can’t help thinking that Councillors should have better scrutinised these plans but far too often they accept answers which even I can see have big holes in them.

Note; This report pulls together information from several sources all of whom are on the landlord side of the argument and with little hard evidence. Informed comment or corrections would be welcome.


22 April (Part 2) - A Godsend for burglars

CCTV mapAmid the controversy surrounding the spending of £600k. on CCTV that is not monitored except in a small way (two screens) and only when someone decides there is an emergency, a BIB reader dug out this map from the nether regions of the web.

It purports to show the locations of Bexley’s CCTV cameras, all 230 odd of them.

It is not fully up to date (2008) and none are shown in Bexley and Crayford. I know that Cabinet Member Craske planned to put some there, I went to his roadshow in 2011.

Seven cameras are shown on my own patch, Abbey Wood. My own survey suggests that four look at the car park and two look at the bus lane which is no longer there. Much the same seems to be the priority elsewhere too, The map suggests that Bexleyheath station car park is well covered too.

Only one Abbey Wood camera looks at a place where pedestrians might be found, the stairway leading from Gayton Road to the flyover. It has been commandeered by Network Rail for Crossrail works.

When it was supposedly in use it as often as not looked at the railway.

Bexley Council has not found the money to put cameras in Thamesmead town centre but there has been plenty to cover yellow box junctions.

If you wish to see the restoration of fully functional CCTV in Bexley there is a petition for you to sign. If you wish to make your mark even more effectively then put it against the Labour candidate on 3rd May.

Click map for full size PDF image


22 April (Part 1) - Bexley turns its back on hate; and about time too

I suspect this report will be difficult to write without upsetting someone, if I am unlucky maybe everyone, but here goes anyway.

The last full Council meeting of the current electoral cycle was a triumph for retiring Labour Councillor Edward Boateng (Erith). Not only did Councillor Leaf put his own Motion aside to allow Councillor Boateng to put his first but it also won unanimous support.

A rare moment of agreeement.

BoatengI suppose it would be difficult for anyone to not wholeheartedly welcome and accept those words but it is not unknown for Bexley Conservatives to reject Motions that they find acceptable in order to submit one of their own and claim the credit for it.

During the meeting one Conservative Councillor made comments that I thought were strange to say the least but none voted against the Motion. As someone who has only once witnessed racism - a Sikh woman made an unprovoked attack on another and called her white vermin. I suspect that is totally untypical; maybe I am untypical too. They have drifted away now but I was once in a group of friends who were all Jewish. I never noticed. What difference does it make?

My mobile contacts list includes five Moslems and two Christian vicars. Yesterday, if I exclude the lady who asked me when Crossrail will run through to Heathrow - December next year - I didn’t speak to anyone who wasn’t either Pakistani, Romanian, Ukrainian or Nigerian. I never see a problem. Maybe that is why I find it difficult to understand how racism, hate crime or whatever is such a problem for some people. Do they provoke it or see it where none is intended?

For once I seem to take the same view as Cabinet Member Peter Craske. Just after the EU referendum he said he deplored hate crime but locally it wasn’t a problem. The police agreed with him. Has something changed? At Wednesday’s meeting hate crime was seen as a big problem.

BorellaEdward Boateng had experienced it himself and Lewisham born Councillor Borella, with the inevitable swipe at Brexit, had while travelling late at night on trains, been called a Bubble & Squeak (Greek) and a terrorist. He reported both incidents to the police. What sort of situations does he get himself into on a train? No one ever speaks to me on trains.

He said he had encountered ethnic minorities being abused while on the 229 bus to the evening’s meeting. Obviously I lead a very sheltered life.

Councillor David Leaf (Conservative, Longlands) said “there was no place in this borough for those who commit vile, repugnant, racist, homophobic hate crimes. They should be locked up for a very long time”.

“The far right and hate filled fascism is not welcome in our borough”. The far left then came in for similar criticism, Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Ken Livingston being specifically mentioned. Jewish MPs “had been on the receiving end of the most disgusting abuse we have ever seen in British politics”. He is not wrong is he?

He said some of it has spread to Bexley. A Labour candidate had Tweeted four letter profanities about the Conservatives and called one a liar. “It is absolutely shameful”. Cabinet Member Read didn’t even blush.

With even more passion than usual Councillor Leaf alleged that Labour candidate Dave Putson (Belvedere) ascribed to the Prime Minister “the strong smell of the stable, pure horse expletive”. Not nice and definitely on a par with the worst of Councillor Read’s output.

There was nevertheless not a lot to disagree with in David Leaf’s speech. According to my Jewish friends Councillor Leaf is also Jewish and has every right to feel aggrieved at the behaviour of certain elements within and outside the Labour party. I have never been able to understand why Jewish people are treated so badly. My father’s best friend from the RAF was Jewish, our families used to go on holidays together. Jews are no different to any other citizen except maybe harder working.

Councillor Sharon Massey did not appear to share Councillor Leaf’s high motives, for her, hate crime was more of a personal issue. At a Scrutiny meeting she had asked the Borough Commander to have the law changed to make it easier for power-crazed Councillors to have bloggers locked away. On Wednesday we were treated to episode two.

“We all deserve to lead our lives free from discrimination, hate and harassment. Racism, homophobia and sexism is illegal but unlike you Councillor Boateng, I do not believe all residents within the borough are valued members of the community. I despise those who display hate, bully others and judge others to be worth less just because they are female or gay or judged to be an easy target just because they are perceived to be in a position of authority. For example the police, MPs, Council officers and even Councillors.”

Is despising those who display hate just another hate crime?

“Until I became involved in politics I had never been involved with sexism or harassment. In politics I have been a victim of hate and discrimination. I have been called white scum and worse. I have witnessed misogyny in this very Chamber. Members of the public write to me just to let me know they know where I live.”

“There are sadly those who operate just under the radar, just on the edge of the law, creating misery and hate around them and this sort of harassment is so much harder to stop. I consider these people to be ignorant, poorly educated and their behaviour a reflection of their own sad environment.”

“As a family we have had ridiculous lies written about us, as well as photos of our home and photos of our youngest daughter out with her friends posted on line and in blogs.” She said that Councillor Borella had apologised to her “for your role in these events”. For a moment I thought Councillor Massey was referring to me but I have no idea what Councillor Borella may or may not have done although it is a matter of record that someone referred him to the Code of Conduct Committee. The only photos I found were those posted by the Massey’s to their own Facebook page.

Councillor Massey then went on to criticise Victim Support for failing her daughter. She had wrongly believed that someone was lurking outside her home and called the contact number they had given her but they refused to help because she was a minor. Totally ridiculous but true to form. Bexley’s Victim Support refused to help Elwyn Bryant and me when we were the victim of the crime traced to Councillor Craske’s address. They said they could not be seen to criticise Bexley Council or the police.

“Whilst I support this motion we must get our own house in order." Despite her own thinly veiled attacks she added “this must not be allowed to become personal”.

FrancisLabour Leader Daniel Francis said that 25 years ago hate was definitely “prevalent on the streets of this borough”. He referred to the murder of Stephen Lawrence just across the border in Eltham and the BNP bookshop in Welling “which Bexley Council refused to close down”. Back then he had seen people “beaten to a pulp because of their colour, or their sexuality or their perceived sexuality”. I remember that, In the early 1990s I used to get all sorts of homophobic abuse and not a little violence because I was a man living alone.

In 2016 Daniel had witnessed racist songs sung in pubs. There’s another reason I am blissfully unaware of these problems. I never enter a pub in Bexley. (I don’t count the time a Councillor invited me to join him for a drink.)

Councillor Francis recounted how he “had been called a dickhead and a see you en tee by Tory Councillors in Council meetings and a member opposite had made a malicious allegation which caused him a great deal of trouble at work at a time when his wife was very seriously ill. The most disgraceful thing you could imagine and irony to say the least but fighting inequality is in our DNA.”

Continuing with the irony theme, Cabinet Member Philip Read was next to the microphone.

He recognised we lived in “a diverse society” but was particularly incensed by criticism of “those who marry outside their own community. It is disturbing and a classic example of intolerance”.

Like me he found that “most people deal with each other in a civilised way as human beings. We should not make the mistake of believing that prejudice exists everywhere”. Unlike Councillor Massey he felt “that all our residents are valued members of the community. There should be no hatred in Bexley”.

“However one of the biggest causes of division is the abuse and hatred spewed out by supporters of the Labour Party. They believe they have a monopoly on compassion and too many of them believe that anyone not in the Labour party cannot share their values. Ironically that self righteousness manifests itself in exactly the sort of behaviour they claim to reject.”

“In 2014 a black lady stood as a Conservative candidate in the North of the borough and as a result received a torrent of abuse from Labour supporters who stalked her and said she was a sell out and an Uncle Tom”.

Someone wrote “an extremely offensive blog about her and all because she is a member of the black community and had the audacity to support the Conservative Party”. I thought I read all the local blogs but apparently not. That one passed me by.

I have to say that the sort of behaviour to which Cabinet Member Read alludes is what as a young man first turned me off of Labour and it still does. Now of course I see the same from many Tories locally which gives me nowhere to go politically.

Councillor Read went on to condemn Labour’s anti-Semitism at national level. “Local members risk being tainted by association. They need to stand up and resolutely and publicly declare against it”.

Councillor Eileen Pallen (Conservative, Barnehurst) also spoke on the subject but did not say anything significant beyond repeating that “racism has no place in our society” and anti-Semitism is a very bad thing.

Councillor Abena Oppong-Asare (Labour, Erith) was given only a few seconds to speak but reported that in her ward there had been Brexit related racist abuse. Referring to the complaints made about Labour politicians she compared them with “the campaign run by Zac Goldsmith. It was one of the most racist I have ever seen”.

“David Cameron linked Sadiq Khan with Islamic extremists, that was racist as well. And let’s not forget Teresa May’s Going Home vans.”

She was also aggrieved that “a number of Councillors cannot tell the difference between the black Councillors here. We should practice what we preach”.

CraskeI fear that Councillor Oppong-Asare is doomed to disappointment. Politics is tribal.

Councillor Peter Craske managed to chip in a final word. He “believes in peace and love, not hatred”. I had no idea of that when I was accused of “Kissing in a tree” while “having a good old shag” it was intended to be an expression of love.

Thanks Peter. I didn’t know you cared.

Edward Boateng as already noted is not standing at the forthcoming election. Our paths did not cross often but when they did I could be sure of a warm welcome and a shaken hand. One of the good guys. Bexley Council badly needs some more.


21 April (Part 2) - The book of the Blockbuster film

Councillor June Slaughter (Conservative, Sidcup) sponsored a deputation at last week’s Council meeting about closing the purpose built library in Sidcup and replacing it with something squeezed into the old Blockbuster store on the corner of Elm Road. She had voiced her own misgivings in October last year and two months ago.

Noel LakeSidcup resident Noel Lake who represents the Sidcup Library Action Group put his case for the status quo.

The existing site for the library just a few steps from the centre of the High Street “is perfect” he said. It is “an appropriate position with a welcoming area outside where people can sit”. The new plan gives little thought to library users.

There is plenty of space “where children can enjoy books and take part in activities” and “these popular aspects really need to be retained or even improved. It has all the features a modern library should have. A little art gallery, meeting rooms, an internet suite and workstations. It is even more useful now that the pop-in parlour across the road has been closed.”

“We know very little about the Councils plans but we think we know that there will be less floor space. The new site is on a very busy corner hemmed in by bus stops and very restricted pavement space. Not very suitable for access by parents with children or school groups. The busiest and noisiest point on the High Street. Parking might be difficult and the Council is not being as transparent as it might have been. The people should have been consulted.”

“We have sent out 2,000 leaflets and talked to over 300 people. They can’t believe there is such an idea to put a library on such a busy corner.”

Councillor Slaughter asked Mr. Lake what exactly residents have been saying to him.

Mr. Lake said he had mainly spoken to library users (surely the only people whose opinion is valid). They like the idea of a cinema but “a lot of people know nothing [about the library proposals]”. Those that do are “mystified. They cannot see the logic of it and there is anger that there has been so little consultation, They are cynical of the Council’s intent and believe the idea is based on raising capital [from sale of the old library]”.

CraskeCabinet Member Craske wanted to ask “two short questions”.

Had Mr. Lake been to Crayford Library and seen the Post Office and the increased footfall and was he aware that there had been emails in favour of moving the library to smaller premises “which would enhance its long term future”.

If Councillor Craske had aimed to trip up Mr. Lake he must have been sadly disappointed. He had been to Crayford library and “applauded the inclusion of a Post Office but it had nothing to do with Sidcup Library”.

Councillor Craske may have had a few emails but Mr. Lake “had personally spoken to more than 100 people and my colleagues will say the same and they are opposed. We have the feel of public opinion.”

Councillor Eileen Pallen (Conservative, Barnehurst) was particularly silly, she said the relocated library would be able to open for longer. “Would that be a positive benefit?”

Mr. Lake agreed that it would be but there is nothing to prevent longer opening hours on the existing site. “There is no logic in that [Pallen’s statement]”. Nor was there.

In Noel Lake, Bexley Council had met its match.

Councillor David Leaf (Conservative, Longlands) said that some people were pleased because they lived closer to the Blockbuster site than the existing library. Well there’s an overwhelming argument!

People going to the cinema would be able to pop into the library. Well maybe if it sold popcorn! Councillor Leaf seemed to be scraping the barrel more thoroughly than usual.

“Would Mr. Lake cooperate with the Council’s plans?” Mr. Lake reminded Councillor Leaf that no one knew exactly what the plans were except that the new library must be smaller than before.

Councillor Cafer Munur (Conservative, East Wickham) asked if Mr. Lake was aware of the increased footfall at the relocated Blackfen library now run by a voluntary group. Mr. Lake was very aware of it because he worked nearby but “not sure of the point you are making. Are you suggesting that more people use High Street libraries? The two issues are not parallel”.

The Mayor glanced at his egg timer and closed down further debate.

The Sidcup Library Action Group has a Facebook page and there is a petition to sign.


21 April (Part 1) - On May 3rd. Anyone but a Conservative

If you value honesty then you won’t be voting Tory on 3rd May. It pains me to say so but the gang that runs Bexley is thoroughly dishonest and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the levers of power. Most certainly no one should be voting Tory in Blackfen & Lamorbey, West Heath and Crook Log which has the greatest concentration of bad ‘uns.

In eleven of the 18 new wards there is a Liberal Democrat option. It’s a long time since Bexley elected a Lib Dem Councillor.

Their leaflet features something which has always puzzled and annoyed me in equal measure.

How can the Tories complain about the 40% Council Tax increase imposed by Labour from 2003 to 2006 and never give any of it back? And why have they only succeeded in making things worse while claiming to be a low tax borough? Labour left us in 24th worst position in London and the Conservatives have dropped us down to 25th.

The Liberal Democrats are as upset about Bexley Conservatives’ lies as I am.
Sean Ash Wildman
The Conservatives object to their dirty secrets being posted through so many letter boxes and in Crayford at least they have retaliated.

Conservative candidate Geraldene Lucia-Hennis asked on Facebook “Does Mr Ash live in Crayford? NO so how would he know what Crayford needs”. How stupid is that? The Conservative candidate Christine Bishop doesn’t live in Crayford either. Examples like that abound in Bexley.

Miss Bossy Boots also demanded that Sean Ash (Liberal Democrat) “take down” his comments on Facebook. Shades of Councillor Maxine Fothergill here; another Tory Councillor not wanting the truth to get out.

It is well known that Geraldene Lucia-Hennis has a short fuse. In 2010 she abused a member of the public and was censured by the Standards Committee (the forerunner of the Code of Conduct Committee). She was was censured in 2009 too for failing to declare a financial interest in a planning application.

The parallels with the discredited Maxine Fothergill run quite deep.

A vote for Sean Ash is one less vote for the dishonest party represented by Geraldene Lucia-Hennis.
News Shopper News Shopper

News Shopper comments.


20 April (Part 2) - Useless Idiots

Dates seem to be slipping badly…
Gayton Road
There has been absolutely no sign of Bexley Council creating the new public realm around Abbey Wood station and the blame can probably be laid upon Network Rail. After months of delays due to the late commissioning of the Stannah lifts they still have scaffolding and barriers everywhere. It looks like things will be at least six months late.

Things are not much better to the south in Gayton Road. Interim works may have made it wider than it used to be and the double yellow lines have been lost. The result is very often chaos.
Gayton Road Gayton Road Gayton Road Gayton Road
Gayton RoadA few cars can safely park there but it takes a special sort of idiot to park something larger adjacent to the bend and pop into the Abbey Arms.

When the driver was eventually located he moved his van on to the pavement and went back into the pub.

For how much longer will Bexley Council allow these things to happen? Until they are able to start the improvement works presumably.

All photos circa 4:20 p.m. today.


20 April (Part 1) - Useful Idiots

When I first started to attend Council meeting eight years ago a group of five residents would always endeavour to ask a public question. Bexley Council hated scrutiny even more then than they do now and pulled every possible stunt to try to avoid them.

Questions would be rejected for not being about policy or because one submitted in good time was not read by the Committee Officer until after the deadline.

Useful Idiots were asked to plant questions designed to provoke Cabinet Member bragging about some claimed achievement or other. A particularly awkward question would ensure a filibuster on the preceding one.

Another madcap plan was to publish the addresses of questioners on the Council’s website in the hope of discouraging them. It did but only from residents who for one reason or another needed to keep a low profile, like those who had escaped from an abusive partner and had found a safe house. They were not the only residents partly disenfranchised and eventually the Information Commissioner had something to say about it.

After Cabinet Member Philip Read refused to answer a question on the grounds that he didn’t like the source of the question, the group stopped their flow of regular questions and few are asked now.

However at last Wednesday evening’s Full Council meeting three Useful Idiots were put on parade.

Diment WildmanThey were Richard Diment, Adam Wildman and Howard Jackson. None of them are ordinary residents, they are three stooges chosen to stand in the Sidcup, Blendon & Penhill, and Barnehurst ward elections. For the Conservative Party obviously.

If you have a vote in one of those wards please remember that you could be voting for someone prepared to indulge in dirty tricks even before being elected. Haven’t we already got quite enough people like that on the Conservative benches?

Their questions asked Teresa O’Neill to list her achievements, for Don Massey to say how good the Borough’s financial position is and for Peter Craske to claim that Cory Environment’s Belvedere Beach is much more useful than the old Splash Park.

Council Leader Teresa O’Neill was only too pleased to list her achievements and said it was “an excellent question”. Well of course she’d say that, she encouraged the question. Modestly the biggest achievement of all was omitted. Councillor Fothergill is no longer able to email me with references to the Fat Controller.

O'NeillThe list began with the £42 million new Civic Offices which is “much loved” and included references to new housing on the old Hill View (Sidcup) and Howbury (Slade Green) sites. The Clinical Commissioning Group is now housed within the Civic Offices thereby, if the whistleblowers can be believed, facilitating the showering of money on the most favoured doctors’ practices.

The second favourite achievement was the reduction in the number of Councillors from 63 to 45. It was apparently a wholly Conservative achievement and similar proposals from Labour and UKIP were dismissed as “absurd”.

Number three was the long term Growth Strategy which relies almost entirely on the as yet mythical Crossrail extension to Ebbsfleet. She said that Abbey Wood station was “the best new station along the track”. She should get out more.

Dipping further down the list she came to The Prevention Strategy. This is trying to be proactive within the hugely expensive Children’s and Adults’ Services departments and trying to head off problems before they arise.

The introduction of the Bexleyheath and Sidcup Business Improvement Districts came in at number five. The Leader did not say whether small shopkeepers enjoy paying the extra tax or not. “Trees along the Broadway are exciting”. Trees in parks would be even better.

Scraping the barrel for more the Leader came up with “the new street scrubber”, the Ocado warehouse in Erith and the Post Office opening within Crayford Library.

Having run out of Council achievements some were stolen from the National Health Service. There is a new cancer centre in Queen Mary’s Hospital, and one from Transport for London. The 96 bus has been diverted to Darenth Valley Hospital.

Gaining a second wind the Leader gave an airing to the apparent success of the Garden Waste Bin Tax scheme and her placards and protests was what had saved the police station from closure. The LED lighting was another success story and so was Hall Place being brought back under Council control.

Taking away the obstacles to faster broadband which had been placed in front of BT had allowed residents to benefit - a mere four years later than they might otherwise have done.

Was there any risk to future achievements asked the tame lap dog from Sidcup. Yes said the Leader, it was voting Labour next month.

The Leader had managed to take up all but two minutes of the allotted time so Mr. Wildman was short changed.

Cabinet Member Massey said he was optimistic for the future and the Council agrees with him. What better reassurance could one have?

No moneyIn the remaining 30 seconds Mr. Wildman made a reference to Liam Byrne’s notorious note. What sort of note would Don Massey leave for his successor?

A stupid question was given the flippant answer it so richly deserved.

If Mr. Wildman becomes Councillor Wildman one might be forgiven for believing that the standard of debate in Bexley’s Council Chamber will fall even further.

For time reasons Cabinet Member Craske was denied his opportunity to take credit for the Belvedere Beach.


19 April - A quick filler

The last Full Council meeting
Last night’s Council meeting was the last before the election and was as close as many of us are likely to get to an election hustings with the Tories in particular revealing just how sneaky they can be.

It should prove possible to report fully at the weekend.

Meanwhile we know that 21 Councillors will not be at the next meeting. Some of us will be hoping that the number is higher than that.

The 21 Councillors not standing for re-election are…

Roy Ashmole, Aileen and Brian Beckwith, Ros Downing, Maxine Fothergill, David Hurt, Rob Leitch, Howard Marriner, Don and Sharon Massey, Colin Tandy, John Waters and John Wilkninson.
Derry Begho, Edward Boateng, Alan Deadman, John Husband, Gill MacDonald, Seán Newman and Abena Oppong-Asare.
Chis Beazley.

Most of those I am genuinely sorry to see go; not Fothergill obviously. What is disappointing to see is that apart from the lying Fothergill all those who regularly spin and bring Bexley Council into disrepute continue to believe they are fit for public office.

The answer is in your hands on 3rd May.

The forthcoming election
I know that the Labour candidates here in Belvedere ward are Daniel Francis, Sally Hinkley and Dave Putson but if I had not taken a look at the nominations list I would not know who else I am able to vote for. Not a word yet from the Conservatives. I have their manifesto but no candidate names.

When Bexley Council abandoned live CCTV monitoring nearly three years ago they admitted the police had no means of monitoring it at that time. However the implication was that things would improve.

Councillor Craske has said in the Council Chamber and on Twitter that the Police do now monitor when emergencies arise.

Well yes up to a point. An inside source has revealed that the police can watch two cameras at any one time. Bexley’s surveillance centre had 48 monitoring screens.

Not surprising. How would the police squeeze the contents of the dedicated centre into the corner of an office in Arnsberg Way? And if Craske says something was there ever much chance he would not be deceiving us?

Anonymous communications
I have had several messages about Teresa O’Neill’s planning application and the addresses in which she said she has an interest. One referred me to a planning application for 30 Brunswick Road (†) but as it was made in 2005 I cannot see how it is relevant. Maybe Mr. Anonymous could tell me what I am missing.

The other refers to Councillor Fothergill repeated planning applications in which she declared she was not a Councillor. This Mr. Anonymous says she is not alone and provides a link. Maybe the evidence has been removed since he saw it but it currently goes to a ‘Page not found’.

† Local copy. Direct links to Bexley's planning applications are not permitted.

Maxine Fothergill
Three weeks after Royal Mail’s tracking facility said that the Chief Constable of Kent had received my allegation of crime against Councillor Maxine Fothergill I emailed to ask why I had had no acknowledgement.

A reply came with their standard opening paragraph which is to apologise for “the slight delay” but I am assured that Fothergill is now being investigated by the Investigation Management Unit. I have a sneaking suspicion that that is the official name for the Pending Tray but it is now the second recent allegation to find itself there.

The complaint against the unfortunate Sergeant who allowed himself to be suckered by the lying Fothergill is progressing in a normal fashion. At the suggestion of Kent’s Directorate of Professional Standards the complaint has been extended to cover the Constable too.

This website
My reference to abandoning the current BiB and providing a slimmed down, less cluttered and mobile friendly blog provoked offers of help from a number of readers all of which revolved around switching over to Wordpress.

I don’t think any had taken into account my interest in coding pages the old fashioned way and the hope that exercising my brain in that way could be the last defence against dementia.

But many thanks to everyone anyway. The problems caused by dementia (the 98 year od aunt) are already taking up a great deal of time but that is another story altogether, but that, the new website and the weeds in the garden might explain why blogs are infrequent and somewhat superficial at present.


17 April - Rent it Right

While I was driving home from the Hampshire/Dorset borders last Tuesday a short Cabinet meeting was getting under way in Bexley. The subject: the Council’s new property licensing scheme originally nicknamed Rent it Right.

I was not the only absentee. Cabinet Members Sawyer, Massey and Craske had all sent their apologies.

Several Councillors are landlords in the borough but Leader Teresa O’Neill was the only Cabinet Member to declare such an interest although her property is not in an area covered by the new scheme.

Presumably she was referring to one of these properties declared on a recent planning application, it was only a dropped kerb, nothing to get excited about. Unlike Councillor Maxine Fothergill who has three times submitted plans while declaring she was not a Councillor, thereby dodging scrutiny by committee, the Leader had done the right thing.
Strange that only two of the addresses are declared on her Register of Members’ Interests.

Bexley Council became interested in licensing after encountering problems with HMOs and consulted and advertised its plans in the News Shopper “on Article 4 etc. but along the way the government has decided that part of what we were proposing became mandatory anyway but we still believe there is a need to do this”.

Deputy Director Paul Moore said he would provide the Cabinet with some detail. “Housing remains a key pressure in this borough. This is another of those sizeable tools like the Growth Strategy and BexleyCo which we can use as a Council. It is a serious process of licensing and enforcement and an entirely legitimate tool to address some of those pressures moving forward.” Really profound stuff which shed a great deal of light on things we never knew before. Fortunately Mr. Moore’s sidekick David Bryce-Smith was much more expansive.

He said that “there has been a big increase in private renting across the whole borough which has given rise in some areas to high levels of anti-social behaviour”.

The consultation had led to him looking at 13 smaller areas where he “found much higher levels of private renting, much higher than the national average of 20% and much higher levels of ASB than the borough average”.

The 13 areas are within Thamesmead North, Abbey Wood, Lower Belvedere, Erith and Manor Road. “Around 2,900 private rented properties.”

“We will not pursue the HMO licensing proposals because they have been overtaken by the government mandatory proposals. 58% of respondents to the consultation [overall] were in favour but landlords were against. 79%.”

Cabinet Member Brad Smith said that housing problems were such that there will be an 86% rise in the budget from 2017/18 to 2020/21. “The licensing fee has been set at a reasonable level equivalent to £5.35 a month.”

Cabinet Member Linda Bailey asked if areas could be added if the need arose. She was told that “it would have to be a new scheme for that area. The present scheme will run for five years”. The licensing scheme will cover everything originally proposed for HMOs.

Labour Leader Daniel Francis (Belvedere) welcomed the scheme, he was shocked by the extent of changes he had seen in his ward. Roads which were almost entirely privately owned and occupied were now 80% owned by landlords. He alluded to a landlord and would-be Barnehurst Councillor who he described as “not very nice and don’t treat tenants or homes with respect. We certainly support the measures in the papers tonight”.

Mr. Bryce-Smith assured Councillor Francis that although the selective licensing is for the defined areas “the licensing for other HMOs, the HMOs have been seen across the borough including Sidcup, will automatically apply the higher standards”. I think that must mean that ASB problems caused by HMOs will be tackled. Perhaps Mr. Bryce Smith should have said ASB and not HMO the second time. Whatever the case everyone was happy with the statement.

The licensing proposals were approved.

From the Murky Depths has also reported on this subject.

Note: Next door to me in an area covered by the new rules is a privately rented house. The landlord lives in Lagos and has shown up here maybe three times in the past twelve years. He takes ages - up to two years - to fix maintenance problems. It is more than likely he knows nothing of what is in store for him.


16 April (Part 2) - It’s time for change

Bexley-is-Bonkers in its present format has reached the end of the road. It is too big, too time consuming and the number of technical problems is increasing. It has proved impossible to convert to a mobile friendly format and keep it going at the same time. In May 2018 BiB as you have known it will disappear.

More details here.


16 April (Part 1) - The three Jays

The election seems to be passing me by in Belvedere ward, there are only two party choices and I have had one leaflet from each. On Twitter the Conservatives are blatantly electioneering with their brilliant stunt which is basically cut everything for three years and then reverse some of the cuts when an election looms and exaggerate the numbers.

Meanwhile the Tories have the cheek to complain that it is the Labour Party which is electioneering by suggesting that instead of spending £585,000 on a crippled CCTV system they spend £700,000 on one which works as it should.

Click for News Shopper report

It is a bit rich for Council Leader O’Neill to say that Labour intends to fully operate the CCTV for only one year when that is exactly what the Tories propose for their own blatant electioneering.

The ‘funds coming from reserves’ is exactly the sort of lie one has come to expect from O’Neill and Co. Labour made it perfectly clear that the money would come from not giving BexleyCo as much money as the Conservatives will.

Make no mistake; Councillor Teresa O’Neill’s quote in the News Shopper is a very big lie.

For the record this is what was said in the Council chamber when the police took over the CCTV system.

Whilst in Belvedere voters are not given much of a choice, five minutes walk away in Abbey Wood, residents who care about their locality do.

Three independent candidates are on offer. In Greenwich Labour takes it for granted that they will be in power and in Abbey Wood two of their three Councillors live in Eltham and the third has a reputation for ignoring residents and never raising his head above the parapet.

I don’t know any of them although I have reason to believe that the Leader of Greenwich Council, Eltham resident and Abbey Wood Councillor Denise Hyland was behind my sacking from the Traders’ Association job. It is possible that she took exception to the blogs of 8th and 11th September 2017 which linked her name to the anti-social behaviour that was alleged to be prevalent in Wilton Road. If so she must be very thin skinned.

Losing that job did not upset me too much but I would guess that she and her Abbey Wood colleagues have upset her own electors enough to prise them from their keyboards.

In Abbey Wood three Independents plan to give Denise Hyland a run for her money.

Click to rotate

The Labour majority will give the newcomers a very hard time if they succeed on 3rd May, just as the Conservatives did to UKIP in Bexley. They never missed an opportunity to snub them, ridicule them or vote down every proposal they ever made.


13 April (Part 2) - Stirring Twitter

A month ago Mick Barnbrook (@sleazebuster) who spends far too much time philosophising and stirring controversy on Twitter had the same number of followers as @BonkersBexley. Both were in the eight hundreds. Bonkers has acquired 200 or so more thanks to Councillor Maxine Fothergill but @sleazebuster is now up to 2,400.

SleazebusterHow did he do that?

When Tommy Robinson the free speech activist (†) was banned from Twitter for a variety of perceived and occasionally invented internet ‘crimes’ Mick Barnbrook Tweeted that half the police officers he meets on forums and at reunions support Tommy Robinson. He was inundated with threats and support in approximately equal measure.

Several people reported him to the police for inciting racial hatred and four claimed to have asked the Met. Police Commissioner to stop paying his pension.

Why is it that the left wing of politics attracts so many intolerant loonies? Mick had merely reported his experiences.

Sadly when I tried the same ‘provocation’ trick it had no effect on the number of Twitter followers.

In response to a Bexley Labour Party Retweet endorsing Jeremy Corbyn’s free bus travel for under 25s wheeze I said he must be mad.

It generated no new followers but just as Mick found, provocation can be divisive.

I was accused of enjoying a Freedom Pass so why was I against under 25s having one? I get a state pension, a Christmas bonus, a Winter Fuel Payment, free prescriptions and will never have to pay for a TV licence again. Do Labour politicians advocate extending those benefits to under 25 year olds too? Give them time!

(For the record I have not looked at TV this year and it must be three since I was last prescribed anything.)

Then I was accused of not caring about young people which was a bit below the belt. Over the past five years I have given away a little over half of my net income to several younger people and made three figure donations to food banks.

At one point I retorted that my experience of the Labour Party over more than 50 years is that they are far too fond of spending other people’s money.

A leftie soon came back to prove my case. She said free stuff is always good.

I only have a choice of Labour or Conservative at the election in May. I know nothing of the three Tory candidates but I do know that they were selected by a people who should not be allowed anywhere near elected office. They can whistle for my vote.

I am therefore left with spoiling my paper or voting Labour. If it was not for the fact that I know two of my ward candidates and neither have given me any cause for concern the choice would be easy.

† Tommy Robinson was the leader of the English Defence League until 2013 but has since become a largely reformed character concerned about the Islamification of the UK. The police constantly abuse him so we have one grievance in common.


13 April (Part 1) - One in, one out

Yesterday morning I wrote the first draft of a complaint to Kent Police that the Sergeant who decided to charge me with harassment on the word of a proven liar had not checked any part of Councillor Fothergill’s false Statement. She had signed it late in the day on the 29th December and he read it and made his decision the following day.

His case was that I had harassed Fothergill by writing 41 blogs about her but he couldn’t have read them. Under a warning that making false statements is a criminal offence she claimed to have been been found not guilty by Bexley’s Code of Conduct Committee so the incompetent police officer assumed I must have Photoshopped the screenshots of Bexley’s website which said otherwise. He also failed to notice that most of the blogs supported Fothergill. In summary he could not have looked at any of the evidence.

And then the postman called. He delivered a letter from the Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards. (DPS.)

BlurredIt was their reply to a complaint about Bexley police who jumped at the command of Cabinet Member Don Massey when he claimed that the image reproduced here revealed the personal details of his daughter. I had not named the people pictured or revealed that one might be the daughter of a Councillor. The picture was at the time of publication freely available on the Massey’s Facebook page and not blurred beyond recognition.

The only point in complaining to police is to see what excuses they will come up with to cover their backsides. To assume one might get an honest reply from such a corrupt organisation would place the complainant firmly in la la land.

I had hoped for something more inventive than “a proportionate response” to excuse promptly dancing to Massey’s tune, sending three officers to my house without checking facts beforehand, threatening me with arrest and keeping me on tenterhooks for seven months while they decided whether to prosecute or not.

I have been informed that there is no further appeal route. I may ask the DPS for the Statute which gives the police immunity from outside scrutiny, not that further complaint is very worthwhile. The Independent Office for Police Conduct is yet another organisation set up to defend corruption. They were recently fully supportive of the conspiracy that led to Councillor Craske’s “ongoing situation being resolved” after pornography was traced to his IP address and it being found on his laptop.

The original offending blog. It was the first time the Massey photo appeared on BiB and no one was named apart from Councillor Don Massey.


12 April - CCTV. Bexley Conservatives’ number 2 weak spot

TweetI keep an eye on the various Bexley Police Twitter accounts mainly to see if they do anything more useful than monitoring other Twitter accounts for “unfriendliness”. It was reported recently that the Met employs 900 officers in the department that looks out for rude words.

I have my own reasons for despising all police officers and probably no one outside the criminal fraternity has a lower opinion of them than I have. Perhaps I should make an exception for my son-in-law Alastair whose brother was murdered by the boys in blue 31 years ago. As a successful private investigator he planned to expose their corruption.

On Tuesday the Blackfen Safer Neighbourhood Team reported that three local shops had been broken into. It must be awkward having to work with a ward Councillor they once had to arrest for Misconduct in a Public Office.

WindowThree shop break ins in one night is not something to be casually brushed aside as happened when a shop window was broken in Abbey Wood two months ago. (Photo 1.)

Abbey Wood’s Wilton Road has somehow acquired a bad reputation but most of the time nothing happens there especially now that the new station directs travellers to other exit routes.

What Blackfen Police are doing about three break ins I do not know but I do know what Blackfen residents did about it. They took to Facebook and made their position very clear, so much so that the Administrator had to delete ill-tempered posts and temporarily disallow further comment.

“We want CCTV” was the theme but is there any point while Bexley Council is determined to save £225,000 a year by not looking at the pictures in real time?

Councillor Craske (Conservative, Blackfen & Lamorbey) says the police monitor the CCTV but like everything he says it must be taken with a large pinch of salt. Councillor James Hunt (same ward) shared that view in a Facebook comment. It is not what I have heard Borough Police Commanders say.

At the October 2015 People Scrutiny meeting which Councillor Hunt chaired it was clearly stated (and recorded) that “The council is working very closely with the borough commander but they are unable to monitor from the police station”.

I will concede that the Borough Commanders have been inconsistent when commenting on this subject. Presumably there is the truth and the politically expedient.

Window Window Window Window
Three shops vandalised in Blackfen. No CCTV.

The police may have some facilities to monitor CCTV but they don’t unless there is a very urgent need. The old routine of the Council operator radioing the police when they spot something untoward and training all available cameras on the hotspot went more than two years ago.

At best it is all reactive now and the only way of fixing that is by voting Labour on 3rd May. It and building on parks is the only thing that currently sets the two parties apart.

Note: Number 1 weak spot must be building over parks.


11 April - Election propaganda, Kent Police and Estate Agency for sale

Where have you been?
A 36 hour trip to Bournemouth for the sixth funeral attendance since August made me miss the Nominations announcement and last night’s Cabinet meeting. (If I lose many more friends I won’t have anyone to attend mine!)

Persons Nominated
The Bexley Council Statement of Persons Nominated reveals more than 60 names that are familiar to me. If the sitting Councillors and those who have stood for election before are excluded it still leaves half a dozen names. And why are they familiar?

Because they have been occasional, in some cases regular, correspondents with me via BiB; all of them critical of Bexley Council.

And what is surprising about that? Well two are Conservatives and one with a reasonably good chance of being elected. Will the leopard change its spots?

TweetI am disappointed that in my ward, Belvedere, I have a choice only of Labour or Conservative.

Whilst Bexley is run by a small band of ruthless cheats and liars there is no way I can vote for a party which I used to regard as ‘home’ and whilst Bexley Labour appears to be for the most part benign with their hearts in the right place they occasionally do things designed to be a total turn off for the political fence sitters like me. (See Tweet alongside.)

One might put it down to the youthful exuberance of London Young Labour but the Red Flag was Retweeted by Bexley Labour. Leader approved? I suspect not.

Propaganda dissected
TeresaIt’s not often something like this drops on to my door mat. The last time I received a communication originated by Our Dear Leader (OBE) it was a warning from Bexley Police to stop being critical of Councillors or face arrest.

This time it was the official Conservative propaganda sheet. Not all lies but far from being entirely truthful. It begins in the way it intends to carry on by referring to Labour Councillors as Comrades with all the connotations that implies and then repeating it where possible.

It claims that Bexley Conservatives choose to live in the borough and implies Labour Councillors do not. The reverse is true. I know of four Tories who have lived elsewhere for all or most of the past four years.

The Tories lie that Labour can only fall back on slogans and spin which ignores that facts. Everyone who follows @bexleynews on Twitter knows that the Conservatives do little else but spin. It was the Conservatives who could only sloganise, march and spin about the proposed police station closure while the Labour Group was busy taking more effective action.

Labour’s letter to the Home Secretary.
Labour’s letter to the Deputy Head of the Mayor’s Office for Policing (MOPAC) with attachments.
Labour welcomes the police station’s reprieve.

The Tories even went as far as maliciously re-editing a video to ‘prove’ their point.

The Conservatives repeat their claim to be a low tax Council but despite the frequent references to Labour, when last in office, raising it to unacceptable levels. The truth is that compared to other London Councils Bexley has increased Council Tax at an even greater rate.

“Bexley’s schools are rated as some of the best in the UK” is a nice slogan but it is not the whole truth. Several are still rated “In need of Improvement”.

Bexley is not “THE CLEAN BOROUGH”. It has a worsening fly tipping problem, a worsening bin collection failure rate and the streets are no cleaner than when the Conservatives took control. They have cut the cleaning budget.

Road maintenance is increased “THREEFOLD” only because Bexley Tories cut it to the bone over three years in order to cynically spend all the saving in an election year. And have you ever seen the roads in a worse state than they are now? “THE CARING BOROUGH” is still spending less on Adult Care but more efficiently, so they say.

“THE GREEN BOROUGH” is still intent on building over parks and the tree planting programme is hitting the headlines only because until this election year all tree planting was halted.

No bridgeBexley Council is looking forward to the opening of the Elizabeth Line and its possible extension to Ebbsfleet. If Bexley Conservatives had been forward thinking when it came into office in 2006 they could have campaigned for it then but at that time they were against everything that might have dragged Bexley away from its backwater status.

The Conservatives are belatedly pushing for fast broadband across the borough neatly overlooking the fact that they put obstacles in front of BT’s expansion plans for several years.

The Tories rightly criticise Sadiq Khan for his proposals for more and more concrete and extol the benefits of social housing, but they have built none. Very little affordable either

TweetRidiculing Labour and Jeremy Corbyn for his “Kinder Gentler” politics may be fair enough, he and his ilk are beyond the pale but so is Councillor Philip Read who Tweets poisonous bile most days.

Kent Police
Michael Barnbrook has had a reply to his email of 13th March. In typical style it starts “I apologise for the slight delay in responding” but more importantly goes on to confirm that the matter is still under investigation. There is still no reply to my allegation of crime by Councillor Maxine Fothergill but my complaint about Kent Police not checking on the lies she told in her signed Statement has now been acknowledged.

Amax Estates? The description is a perfect fit

Click image for source website.

You may contact the seller from the source web page.


9 April - In Bexley the “Forgotten team players” were all sacked

Police TweetYesterday Greenwich police were grateful for the help provided by the Council’s CCTV operatives. Two officers were injured but thanks to the CCTV a life was saved.

When those same police officers are sent to Bexley as they may well be under the new arrangements, Bexley Council’s false economies might have resulted in a death.

If Labour gets to control Bexley next month the CCTV system will be restored. The cost will be around £225,000 per annum.

News Shopper report.


8 April - Kent Police. Useless or what?

Kent PoliceTwo weeks ago this blog listed some of the letters sent to Kent Police making criminal allegations against Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill. One was acknowledged, none were answered.

On the same day I sent a letter by Recorded Delivery to the Chief Constable of Kent alleging an attempt to Pervert the Course of Justice by Maxine Fothergill. I would have thought that two weeks was sufficient time in which to send out a brief acknowledgement and the requested crime number; but I was wrong.

That being the case a start has been made on Indexing those letters and making them more widely available. The Fothergill Index has been updated and there is now a sub-section for police letters. More will be added as they become available.

A complaint against the Swanley Sergeant who made no attempt whatsoever to verify Councillor Fothergill’s false Statement has also been submitted. It has not yet been acknowledged and before long it will be added to the Index.

If Kent Police wish to create the impression that they are corruptly sheltering Councillor Fothergill they are doing a pretty good job. She has admitted losing “about £100,000” of client’s money and accused four people of its theft. All four were promptly arrested by Kent Police. Unfortunately when the police found no evidence to support the allegations they were not inclined to peer under any other nearby stone. Far from it, in writing they refused to look at any new evidence.


7 April - The Rumour Mill. Or is it?

Not too much credence can be given to stories that land in the Bonkers’ Inbox without any evidence but when they come from known good sources they cannot be so easily dismissed.

TweetOne such fairly recent story concerns the Conservative decision made three years ago to abandon monitoring of the CCTV system. £225,000 staffing costs were saved but maintenance, which costs almost three times as much, has continued. It seems a bit crazy whichever way you look at it and a major part of the Labour Group’s May 2018 manifesto is the promise to restore the CCTV service.

From deep inside the organisation that ran it comes a suggestion, a pretty firm one, that the Business Improvement District(s) offered to fund the staffing costs but Bexley’s Tories turned the offer down.

Could that be true? Does anybody know and would it have been town centres only, maybe for restricted hours?

Other stories should probably be treated with more caution but they are not anonymous and name names. One is an allegation of historical child sex abuse and it being dropped by Bexley Police because the ‘offender’ is now a Conservative Councillor. Sounds plausible, there is a reluctance to prosecute Councillors as Kent Police appears to be intent on demonstrating right now. On the other hand my journalist daughter has looked into several such high profile allegations and concluded long before the infamous Nick was discredited that too many people make allegations in the hope of a fast buck.

Another tale suggests that a large sum of money flowed from Bexley Council to a local business the owner of which just happens to be a good friend of a very well known Councillor. All the names are given together with supporting web links and I am asked to investigate further. Far too complicated for me, Bexley Council would most certainly block a Freedom of Information Request and a major problem is that the whistleblower would be exposed and endangered.


6 April - Bexley; a high tax borough

The annual update of the London Borough Council Tax league table has been left to the very last moment because some Councils are very slow to put the figures on their websites. Even so we have Camden labelling what is obviously the 2018/19 figure as 2017/18 and Islington not showing their 2018 figures at all. That is because the link to this year’s figures (not last year’s which is still there) goes to a beta version of their website which has been off air all day, maybe longer.

The big losers this year are the residents of Greenwich which falls from 10th position to 21st. The winner is Labour controlled Merton which is up from 21st to 15th place. Apart from those two there is little change, just the odd single position climb or fall.

Among those is Bexley which has taken the tumble it so narrowly avoided last year.

In the 2014 election and the one due next month Bexley Conservatives have banged the low tax drum. Like most of what they say it is simply not true.

They like to remind everyone that Labour’s spell in office led to a 40% tax rise in four years and imply it will happen again if they are elected. On the other hand the Tories keep Tweeting that over the past four years Labour Councillors have always voted against increasing budgets. Lies always lead to contradictions.

However the fact remains that Labour’s last budget dropped Bexley from 20th to 24th position in the London tax league table. Not good.

But despite all the service cuts introduced since, the selling off of so many assets from public toilets to town halls and parks, recruiting volunteers to run libraries and taking money from private industry whenever it can, Bexley Council under Conservative control never managed to improve on that 24th position. It was just stuck; until this year that is.

In 2018 Bexley held its share of the Council Tax increase to 3·99%, but similarly rated Councils did better. As a result Bexley has sunk to 25th position. The worst ever and a worse placing than that achieved by the Labour Group the Tories are so keen to criticise.

That’s the way to do it!


5 April - Going Places

SeymourThe last Places Overview and Scrutiny meeting before the election was chaired yesterday in his usual efficient manner by Councillor Melvin Seymour (Conservative, Northumberland Heath) supported by several Councillors who won’t be seen there again. The reduction in the number of Councillors from 63 to 45 and in some cases Anno Domini will send Councillors Brian and Aileen Beckwith, Howard Marriner, Colin Tandy and Seán Newman into retirement, from Councillor duties at least. At the end of the meeting the Chairman thanked them for their service which BiB is pleased to endorse. All very pleasant people a world apart from the minority of Bexley Councillors who specialise in lying on Twitter.

Well chaired the meeting may have been but that doesn’t make it interesting and nothing earth shattering came to light.

The subject of refuse collection and fly tipping had been placed high on the Agenda and the Chinese ban on importing waste is taking its toll.

The price paid for recycled paper has fallen from a peak of £90 a tonne to around £10 in little more than a year and glass by about 50%, from £40 a tonne to between £10 and £20 dependent on colour.

It’s a problem obviously but even £10 is better than more than £100 for landfill. “There could be a six figure impact next year.”

Compounding the problem is that less recyclable material is being collected. 4,732 tonnes of glass in 2011, 2,455 tonnes last year. Paper is down from around 14,000 tonnes a year to 10,000 which was blamed on fewer newspapers being bought.
Councillor Aileen Beckwith (Conservative, Sidcup) asked if Cory’s Belvedere incinerator was making the promised contribution to borough finances and was assured that it was. It processes about 700,000 tonnes of material a year, 60,000 from Bexley at an advantageous price and a £2 million payment. Cory Environmental also sponsors projects in the borough; Belvedere Beach being one of them. Cory is “an overall asset to the borough with nothing negative to be said”.

The statistics for Missed Bins were trending gradually upwards although below the short term peaks in 2015 and mid 2017 and fly tipping incidents were also on the up, nearly 50% higher than in 2013, the north of the borough being the most affected.

NewmanCouncillor Seán Newman (Labour complained that the commentary in the Agenda said that fly tipping was down by 10·3% when the accompanying graph showed a very obvious increase. The answer may be summed up as very careful selection of suitable quarterly statistics.

Councillor Colin Tandy (Conservative, St. Mary’s) said “it makes me very cross” that refuse collectors continue to tip carefully separated waste into the same bin and said “it defeats the object”. It’s been going on for years and the excuse is always the same. The wrong sort of vehicle.

Street cleaning complaints vary widely month by month (recently between 100 and 160 approximately) which is unchanged from 2013 but there have been occasional peaks to around 300 in the intervening years.

One of Bexley Council’s grand schemes is the weirdly named Place and Making Institute. (Click for its website.)

Councillor John Waters (Conservative, Danson Park) suggested it was a “silly name” but Assistant Chief Executive Jane Richardson said it was only a working title, it could perhaps be named after a major sponsor if one is found. Why the always well prepared Mrs. Richardson is subordinate to the useless desk stealing Gill Steward is one of life’s mysteries.

The Institute north of Yarnton Way in Thamesmead is not currently the most accessible of sites and Councillor Danny Hackett asked how that would be addressed, the walking route being less than salubrious at present.
A new quiet walkway via Southmere Lake and a DLR extension were all under discussion, it gave Councillor Tandy an opportunity to pursue his transport ideas.

He spoke of the Rainham to Luton Thameslink via Abbey Wood service due next Month - already running regularly on test - and of his dream of extending the Gospel Oak to Barking line to Thamesmead, Abbey Wood and even Bexleyheath.

Later he queried the suggestion in the Agenda (page 105) that the new railway franchise would result in the loss of the loop line services, he didn’t think that could possibly happen but failed to address the issue of the Sidcup line no longer running to Cannon Street. Without that link a Cannon Street to Cannon Street service via Crayford would appear to be impossible. It is a question that should be answered in a definitive manner without delay, but probably won’t be.

The next Agenda item of note was the Learning and Enterprise College which has scored an OFSTED result of ‘Requires Improvement” in five out of seven departments continuously since 2016.

The result is “a disappointment” and “improved management” is seen as the solution. Cabinet Member Linda Bailey said the situation is “challenging”. The college Principal retired in December 2017.

One must hope that Bexley’s Making Institute is better managed than its Enterprise College.


4 April - Burying more lies. Burying more residents?

Not a lot going on at the moment apart from the exaggerated claims being made by Bexley Conservatives in the lead up to the election in four weeks time. The Agenda for this evening’s Places Scrutiny meeting does not look very exciting either.

Councillor Craske’s claim that he personally anticipated the government’s free funerals for children initiative by abolishing the fees last year was typical. He did but not quite in the way claimed. The suggestion that Labour Councillors were against it is of course pure fiction.
TweetCouncillor Craske went along with free funerals because Greenwich Councillor Jackie Smith pushed through the change for the Royal Borough and as Eltham Crematorium is a joint Bexley Greenwich enterprise Councillor Craske chose to go along with Greenwich’s initiative.

All credit to him but Bexley’s Labour Group moved a Motion at the March 2017 Council meeting which welcomed Councillor Smith’s proposal to abolish the fees - which surely indicates they were in favour of it - but Conservative Councillors voted it down. They wanted to take all the credit for themselves; one might expect that of them.

However to suggest that Bexley Labour was against abolishing the fees is just mischief making.

One has come to expect that too.

The Charlotte public house, Crayford
CharlotteIt is closed, there is no doubt about that but its future is less certain.

After a government inspector overturned Bexley Council’s refusal to allow conversion to flats the owner decided to cash in on his good fortune and put it up for auction.

Presumably the new owner will go ahead with the original plan to convert the old pub to five flats even more unaffordable than they might have been.

Cross at your peril
Thamesmead commuters have another incentive to use Woolwich Arsenal station instead of Abbey Wood. Thanks to poor planning by Bexley Council they lost their bus service to Abbey Wood station yesterday or more precisely the bus stop was taken away. It is now 150 yards south of the station right next to the Knee Hill roundabout.

That may not sound too bad but thanks to Bexley’s failure to complete the new footpath on schedule it isn’t possible to walk safely back to the station.

Bus passengers can only take their life in their hands and dodge the traffic on Harrow Manorway. No provision has been made to cross the road in saftey. There is no access to the pedestrian crossing and in anycase it has been taken out of service.
Harrow Manorway Harrow Manorway Harrow Manorway Harrow Manorway
Thamesmead residents are expendable.


1 April - Spot the difference

On 3rd October 2017 a plan to build nine houses on the site of Ye Olde Leather Bottle public house was rejected by Bexley Council. 17/01745/FUL. It looked like a car park with the accommodation lined up behind and nobody wanted to see that.
An appeal was submitted a couple of weeks ago. It is 27 pages of argument that the development should be permitted with no amendments. I don’t give much for its chances.

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