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Bonkers Blog December 2018

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11 December - Your very good health!

I was not alone in thinking that a Scrutiny meeting devoted only to health matters might prove to be heavy going, there were no members of the public present at last night’s meeting.

CommitteeThe Agenda reveals that the Urgent Care Centre (UCC) in Erith will be kept open beyond the initially proposed closure date and reprieved until 31st March 2020. It was reported at the meeting that the Centre is frequently used because GP appointments are very difficult to get.

Councillor Nicola Taylor (Labour, Erith) thought that there would not be be room at the Erith Health Centre to run all services currently provided by the Urgent Care Centre but was told they would not all be moved so accommodation would not be a problem. She was also told that the closure of a GP practice in Erith would not make things worse despite a claim made at an earlier meeting that Bexley has among the poorest doctor patient ratios in the country.

Councillor Alan Downing (Conservative, St. Mary’s & St. James) said that it was widely agreed that Erith Hospital was no longer fit for purpose and services “would soon be swamped”. He was impatient for action to be taken quickly.

Councillor James Hunt (Conservative, Blackfen & Lamorbey) said that in the recent past the Clinical Commissioning Group had promised no loss of services and no reduction of opening times and it was “an absolute commitment” but all of those things are happening and the UCC is being broken up. “The X-Ray unit seems to be disappearing.”

He was also concerned that consulting with a Focus Group peaking at 14 members was not a lot from a population of a quarter of a million.

Councillor Hunt was told by the CCG representative (Managing Director Theresa Osborne) that to have X-Ray facilities at Queen Mary’s, Sidcup was good enough. “There was no expectation” of renewing the Erith facility although it will continue for the immediate future.

Both Councillors Sybil Camsey (Conservative, Crooklog) and Alan Downing said that the Erith X-Ray Department was “not fit for purpose” and “hadn’t been for years”. Councillor Camsey said that “we are losing sight of the fact that hospitals are for patients who might be in pain or very ill and we are not making their needs a priority”.

Addressing Ms. Osborne she said “I am not convinced by anything you have said so far”.

Councillor Downing was concerned about “the dwindling” number of GPs in Bexley. He was prescribed some fine words about recruitment. Councillor James Hunt was concerned that some Bexley GP practices were registered with Greenwich CCG and Bexley residents were not being protected by Bexley policies on obesity etc. He was given a repeat prescription of fine words.

Yesterday’s announcement indicating that Crossrail services may be two years away casts a black cloud over Bexley’s Growth Strategy but if it ever comes to pass estimates are that the borough will need 50 more doctors, 20 more dentists and additional pharmacists and opticians.

One might think a formal survey on obesity unnecessary given what may be observed out on the streets and the formal survey inevitably confirmed the popular view. In Bexley three out of ten primary school children are over-weight rising to four by Year 6 and six out of ten are obese by adulthood. The extreme north and extreme south of the borough tip the scales more than the centre.

This brief report is based on the Agenda and the webcast.


10 December - The Tories’ No. 1 target?

TweetThe Northumberland Numpty is at it again - I really must think of something alliterative for his new ward of West Heath.

Once again he is obsessed by bloggers; who in Bexley writes the anti-Conservative blog with which he has become obsessed?

Not me that’s for sure. I don’t think there is anything on Bonkers that is wholly against Bexley Council’s policies, except perhaps its less than expert road design team. Fortunately I can call on a real expert when critical of that but I cannot think of any other policy that Bonkers has come out unequivocally against, certainly not in recent memory.

Against political lying is Bonkers’ principal occupation and Councillor Philip Read is the supreme exponent of that art. Where does he get the idea that bloggers are “biased against the truth” from? There is not a single lie anywhere on Bonkers whereas Councillor Read can barely write a sentence without lying.

As for the numbers, even now Bonkers reaches only a tiny fraction of Bexley’s 280,000 population.

The Tories’ new propaganda sheet continues the Numpty’s theme. It talks of “others [who] spent the year running down our borough”. Council Leader Teresa O’Neill is getting paranoid too. Should I be proud of getting so much attention from writing a few words about Bexley Council most days?

Technically she is correct when saying that Labour Councillors have voted against her schemes although usually that is because they have wanted something better. Why they fall into that voting trap every single time I have no idea, it doesn’t look very clever to me.

The Leader rabbits on about a number of things in her blog, among them Hall Place. Nowhere on Bonkers will you find any criticism of what has been going on at Hall Place, only the report that some Conservative Councillors are critical of the proposal to charge an entrance fee for the park.

Another is LED lighting of which there has been no criticism on Bonkers apart from pointing out that their claim that they are brighter than sodium lamps is a lie - and on their own admission a lie. They seem to have stopped doing that now.

The Leader claims that her Labour colleagues were all for Sadiq Khan’s plan to close Bexleyheath Police station and that is simply a lie.

Her claim to have increased the cleaning budget is true, except that if you compare it with the budgets of a few years ago it is not.

On the remainder of the Leader's chosen subjects, libraries, Ageing Well and the new disabled toilet, Bonkers has said not a word.

Generally speaking I don’t have a lot of issues with Bexley Council other than their lying and their determination to get me behind bars for exposing those lies. Several correspondents will know that I have said in private that Bexley is far from being the worst Council in London, just look at Tory Barnet and Socialist Newham if you want to see bad Councils in action. Probably you can find much the same in a few old blogs too.

It has been said over and over again that if Bexley Council stopped lying Bonkers could pack up and go away.

Speaking of which; there is a Scrutiny meeting this evening and I have looked at the Agenda. There is nothing in it apart from medical stuff and experience has shown such meetings to be boring and of little interest to readers. I’ll watch the webcast in relative comfort instead of sitting on a hard plastic seat behind their pathetic barrier that would never stop anyone with ill intent doing whatever they wanted to do. All it succeeds in doing is curtailing conversation between Councillors and public, which will be the Leader’s principal motivation.


9 December - Oh why are we waiting?

Crossrail muddleIf you had asked three months ago I would have said I’d be out before dawn this morning and be travelling to Paddington and back before breakfast but alas it was not to be because, too late, we discovered that the Crossrail trains are not all they were cracked up to be.

But it is an ill-wind that blows nobody any good; as a result of the several months of embarrassing delay Bexley Council may just about fulfill its part of the contract in the nick of time.

They have been working on the flyover outside Abbey Wood station since March 2017 and resurfaced it three months ago and still it is unfinished, indeed they have dug some of it up again.

A month ago a local Councillor said she had been told that work would be completed by the end of November and on the 27th the Highways Department said the job would be completed by the middle of December. That’s not likely either. The northbound bus stop is still far from completed and construction of the southbound one has barely begun. Only one of the four walkways is open and several of the lamp posts don’t work or come on at the wrong time.

And what about that bus stop? This is what was promised…
…and this is what Bexley Council has delivered.
The pedestrian crossing isn’t ready either; does anyone at Bexley Council have a clue?

If the flyover isn’t completed this week, and it’s not looking likely, it could possibly be mid-January before Abbey Wood sees any relief from the never ending chaos. The more talkative of the Conway men will tell you that they are taking a break from 21st December until 7th January.

There is no chance of Harrow Manorway north of the flyover being completed before next June and we have the closure of Gayton Road to look forward to. That should be fun.


8 December (Part 2) - Library Losers and Book Bandits

While browsing the News Shopper a month ago I came across an article on how Bexley libraries had lost 2,449 books in 2018. I checked Amazon for the book replacement costs quoted and decided that Bexley Council should find a new supplier, but saw nothing else of great interest and moved on.

A couple of weeks later the husband of a librarian wrote to me about the losses; he said it is all Bexley Council’s fault. That makes the losses far more interesting.

When I lived in Hampshire I was in the library most weekends and I remember that to get in an out you went along a narrow channel to have your book stamped or booked back in.

I Library confess that I have never once borrowed a book from a Bexley library although before the days of the internet I’d occasionally consult a reference book.

According to my correspondent my recollections are well out of date, these days you can wander in or out of libraries at will far removed from any librarian with a rubber stamp. I vaguely remember that the entrance to Bexleyheath’s Central Library used to pass by the staff desk but they went to the expense of moving the door to where a disabled ramp became necessary and the staff desk was neatly bypassed.

He goes on to say that in the old days books were often not lost but simply misfiled and this was exacerbated by computerisation. When the system was down books both in and out could go unrecorded. Borrowers - most of them honest I am sure - would return books with no record of them being out or worse still would claim when challenged that they had returned their book when the computer was down.

Almost needless to say, the experienced librarians forecast all these problems, but the management weren’t interested. They knew best.

The librarian’s husband goes on to say that “those who can talk the talk get management roles and move on before the chickens come home to roost”. Oh, don’t I know it and probably it happens everywhere, not least in Parliament.

Having spent my working life at just one company (apart from a few months after leaving school) by the time I left I had seen how we wasted time and money because of some whiz kid manager with a mouth far too many times. Having said that I recall single handedly pushing nine ‘crazy’ ideas through against the company tide to good and lasting effect. Thanks to the march of technology only two have any relevance today.

My correspondent’s advice is to post someone with a rubber stanmp near the door. An old fashioned idea so it’ll never happen.


8 December (Part 1) - Bexley’s road junctions. Lethal after all

Earlier this week I was accused of saying the Bourne Road London Road junction in Crayford is lethal which was another of Bexley Conservatives’ outrageous lies. One of the earlier designs was lethal but Bexley Council agreed that it was and changed it. However a junction in Abbey Wood may be lethal.

DangerousI was on one of my regular reconnoitres along Harrow Manorway to see what if any progress has been made on the reconstruction this week and needed to cross the road by the Yarnton Way roundabout.

While doing so I was distracted by a disturbance by the car wash and perhaps because of that went from pavement to road without noticing. Fortunately a lady driver was not going very fast and stopped in time.

I went back to look at the road markings and found there were none. Things will be a little bit better once the job is finished but right now there is no demarcation whatsoever between where a pedestrian may safely walk and the roadway.

Typical Bexley.


7 December - Obsessive Compulsive Dipsticks

I’ve no idea why they do it because they present themselves as fish to be shot in a barrel. Why does anyone lie about something so easily proved to be untrue?

The only explanation is that the pair of twerps who run the Conservatives’ Twitter account are, well, a pair of twerps.

I have been accused of not supporting Crossrail; someone who chronicled the construction of Abbey Wood station from the day construction began in 2013, was the only person to attend every Liaison Panel meeting apart from the Chairman and defended Network Rail against unreasonable criticism.

As a reward Network Rail invited me on site before any Bexley Councillor got a look around and devoted a page of their commemorative book which was due for publication this weekend to me. I approved the photos and I approved the text.

But the lunatics who lie to their thousand Twitter followers say I regard the project as being “the death knell” for Abbey Wood.

Abbey Wood lie Abbey Wood truth
Of course Crossrail has been the death knell for the old Abbey Wood. All the industrial sites by the station have gone, replaced by flats and Sainsbury’s. The car park has gone, the adjacent petrol station and shops along with Coralline Walk are soon to go.

Both sides of the railway line will soon see tower blocks, another has been approved on appeal today. A narrow Harrow Manorway is being replaced by a tree lined boulevard with provision made - according to Bexley Council - for a future tramway.

The old and previously neglected Abbey Wood has gone and it was Crossrail that sounded its death knell - and BiB said that was “a good thing”.

But despite all that the Tory Twits spread lies and I am glad of it. The more people who get to know what a disreputable bunch is in charge of Bexley the more I like it.

Keep it up chaps you are doing a grand job - of making fools of yourselves.


6 December (Part 2) - In desperation Bexley Conservatives lie about both Trams and Buses

Bexley Conservatives Tweeted another bit of nonsense yesterday - sorry, that is not really news is it?

They said that I - a reference to a Labour supporter is usually me when it is not wholly a figment of their vivid imagination - said that the redesigned Bourne Road junction was lethal and that buses would not be able to use it.

When Bexley Conservatives (@bexleynews) are not lying they are being deceitful. What did I actually say?

I said surrounding the Bourne Road junction with rusty tram rails embedded vertically in the ground was potentially lethal. Cyclists and toddlers would be especially vulnerable and so would anyone flung from a car in a serious accident.

Bourne RoadThere are more pictures here.

Someone at Bexley Council with more sense than the authors of @bexleynews - so it could be almost anyone - saw the newly created death trap and to the relief of everyone ordered its removal.

So Bexley’s road planners agreed with me but my friends at @bexleynews very kindly decided to provide BiB with another blog. What nice people.

How about the buses not being able to get past. Did I say that?

Not really. I think the cretins must be talking about a blog I wrote a couple of weeks earlier after a bus ride to Bourne Road. Because the road works were encroaching on a bus stop a driver in a bad mood refused to drop me off there. No one said that when the works were finished buses would have problems.

So there we have it; yet another day of Tory lies in Bexley. Thanks Philip. Thanks Peter.


6 December (Part 1) - The prejudiced and biased Councillor David Leaf

My recollection was that Councillor David Leaf was never an Erith Councillor and therefore Councillor Read’s claim that in 2008 he was the organiser of a petition for step free access at Erith station needed to be looked at more closely.

As expected a search of Bexley Council’s website showed that David Leaf was elected in Belvedere in 2006 and Erith was represented by Chris Ball, Margaret O’Neill (both Labour) and Bernard Clewes, Conservative.

And what did Councillor Leaf say on his blog about a railway station in the adjacent ward, Erith?

2008 Margaret O'NeillHe said that the people pictured outside Erith station on 5th July 2008 were him and Councillor Clewes plus James Cleverly the GLA Assembly Member and Peter Weston from The Bexley Access Group.

So who were the other four people on the photograph? Some detective work was called for.

To cut a longer story short the lady is (former Councillor) Margaret O’Neill elected by 939 Erith voters in 2006.

Where’s her credit in David Leaf’s blog? Nowhere? Deliberately excluded.

So now we know that Councillor Leaf’s readiness to malign his Labour colleagues since he was re-elected in 2014 is not a new phenomenon. He was going out of his way to push them aside ten years ago.

With thanks to Councillor Phillip Read for a totally unnecessary intervention that allows yet another Tory deception to be brought to light.


5 December - The prejudiced and biased Councillor Philip Read

Now that Councillor Read has been given carte blanch to insult as many members of the public as he chooses to with impunity I regard his reference to me as simply prejudiced to be almost an accolade.

TweetSomeone told him that in last Sunday’s blog I reported that Google only managed to turn up Teresa Pearce’s campaign for step free access at Erith station.

After the blog went on line I was told of a similar effort in 2008 which included Councillor David Leaf that predates Teresa’s.

The extra information was added to the blog as it is never the intention to report anything but the facts.

I accept that it is possible that Councillor Readֹ’s informant didn’t revisit the blog to see the amendment but isn’t it ironic that the architect of @bexleynews (Bexley Tories’ Twitter handle) which does little other than attempt to deceive Bexley residents should accuse Bonkers of being biased?

Has Councillor Read ever updated or corrected one of his lying Tweets? No, never.

Well not quite true, he has updated his ֹ‘step free’ Tweet featuring Teresa Pearce with a ten year old picture featuring David Leaf. It was the best he could do.


4 December - Dylexia rules, KO?

WildmanAdam Wildman’s name crops up rather a lot here for someone who hasn’t said much as a Councillor at meetings. Last January, five months before he was elected and before the list of Conservative candidates was announced he appeared to jump the gun by claiming to be one on his Twitter Profile.

He sort of jumped the gun in April too when he agreed to be Teresa O’Neill’s stooge masquerading as a member of the public to ask her a creepy question. Councillor Diment was the other creep and it paid off; they were the only ones of the new intake to be given a special job.

Before arriving in Bexley he was claiming to live “in the shadow of Grenfell”, the Tower presumably but for the convenience of the nomination papers said he lived in Blackfen Road, Sidcup.

His home address continued to be a little mysterious; as soon as he was elected he registered 12 Embassy Court, London Road, DA14 but Google maps and Bexley’s rubbish collection day checker said that there is no such address. There is an Embassy Court in Lansdown Road, DA14 but seven months later the Register of Interests still says 12 Embassy Court, London Road, DA14 4EW.

Flitting from Kensington to Blackfen Road to Embassy Court either means owning three houses or moving around. If the latter one might expect to see activity at the Land Registry but there has been none.

Maybe Councillor Wildman is simply careless. Perhaps he wrote London Road when he meant to say Lansdown Road and perhaps he wrote 12 when he meant 21 because that address sold a couple of months ago.

Oh hang on a minute. He couldn’t have moved to 21 Lansdown Road in September because he was claiming to live in that road (but spelled London!) in May.

Perhaps one of his colleagues could ask him to clarify his Register of Interests?


3 December - Justice prevails

PCThe man who, perhaps sarcastically, said "No shit?" to a bully in uniform (PC Matthew Ward 14690 of Derbyshire Police) was surprisingly found "Not Guilty" in a Magistrates Court and the police thankfully humiliated.

The video report is available here

Well worth a listen if you are still unconvinced that police forces include a far higher proportion of criminals than the general population. Perhaps even more worthwhile if you just want to laugh at their idiocy.


2 December - Am I too easily amused?

One of my earliest post-Bonkers political memories was Teresa Pearce’s campaign for a lift at Erith station. I had no idea that London bound passengers who were not fully mobile had to get a train to Dartford and come back again. She raised the issue in Parliament which prompted me to go and take a look for myself.

Teresa’ֹs campaigning website.
News Shopper Report.
Fix My Transport.

There have been a few rejections of her step free campaign since then but last week Erith station was looked on favourably by Network Rail along with Albany Park, Falconwood and Sidcup.

TweetBexley Conservatives were of course quick to step in to claim the credit.

If you Google for Erith station, lifts, step free etc. there are several hits referring to Teresa’s efforts.

If you substitute Albany Park, Sidcup or Falconwood you get none.

A search for Bexley station lifts reveals James Brokenshire MP claiming to have been in contact with Network Rail, but that’s your lot! (And Bexley is not on Network Rail’s new list.)

There is no mention anywhere of anyone at Bexley Council complaining about step free access at any of these stations although I recall that the problems at Erith were mentioned at a Transport User’s Sub-Committee meeting.

If Bexley Conservatives did any lobbying it was a well kept secret and only Teresa Pearce spoke about the issues in Parliament.

Perhaps that explains why the only photograph Bexley Conservatives could find to illustrate their somewhat bogus Twitter claim was one featuring Labour MP Teresa Pearce.

CampaignP.S. I later found this from 2008. Maybe Bexley Tories should have used that picture on their Tweet. Odd that they did nothing for the intervening ten years.


1 December - Shhh! Don’t mention the stealth taxes

A couple of week’s ago Bexley’s Interim Director of Finance, Paul Thorogood, gave his first budget report to Cabinet; Bexley Council has not been able to attract a permanent replacement for Alison Griffin who left in June. I wonder why?
Cabinet meeting
Among Mr. Thorogood’s comments were…

• There is a forecast overspend of £834,000 this year in the general fund and the bad news is that assumes taking £1·9 million from the contingency fund.
• The overspend on Adult Services and Public Health is £3·2 million, 1·4 million of it attributed to a failure to achieve forecast savings, the rest due to increasing demand on services.
• The government is distributing “pressure funding” and Bexley’s share will be £928,000.
• Places, Community and Infrastructure has underspent - amount not specified by the Director but reported to be half a million.
• A budget gap of £37 million is forecast over the next four years, almost £9 million in the next financial year.
• Council officers have already identified where £8 million of the required savings will come from.

CabinetThe Finance Director was commendably clear, brief and to the point. His Cabinet counterpart David Leaf was not.

Everyone knows that Councillor Leaf is in love with the sound of his own voice but on this occasion he rose to new heights of ecstacy.

He spoke for 13 minutes and 22 seconds at a rate ranging from 150 to just over 200 words a minute. In both the pubic gallery and on the Conservative benches eyes rolled before glazing over. No one could keep up with him and if his words carried any intelligence at all, none of it sank in.

Cabinet Member Peter Craske by contrast who followed Leaf to his feet averaged a sedate 85 words a minute and we were all grateful for the occasional pause for breath.

• He said the government had given Bexley £703,000 to fix the pot holes, “one of the highest figures in London” and to be spent my next March.
• A bike track would be created in Martens Grove.
• Hall Place is still doing well and is the setting for a new TV drama. £620,000 will be invested at the site.
• An architect has been appointed to design the new library and cinema in Sidcup and the protesters had been brought on board and were now “fully supportive”.

Cabinet Member Philip Read was another who put Councillor Leaf to shame with an object lesson in brevity. Unfortunately somewhat short on substance.

• The Council is a success.
• We won the election in May.
• Residents are satisfied.
• Children’s Services are a success.
• “The nonsense” from the opposition is that Bexley Council is facing a financial black hole but “we have a proven success” in filling them.

Deputy Leader Louie French spoke for only a minute.

• He thanked the staff who had worked on the budget proposals.
• “We must look for new revenue streams.” (He means more stealth taxes.)
• “We are Conservatives and that is why Bexley residents vote for us and continue to vote for us to make pragmatic decisions.”

Councillor Sawyer stretched himself to just over a minute.

• “We don’t have the answers to everything, nor can we do everything.”
• “We cannot trust government to help us.”
• “Our residents trust us.”
• “We must stand on our own two feet and live within our means.”
• “The next three and a half years will not be easy.”

The Tail End Charlies are left with little new to say but Cabinet Member John Fuller painted a rosy picture on Education and School Transport and repeated that independent schools are now more inclined than they were to seek Council help and guidance.

Cabinet Member Brad Smith (Adult’s Services) continued with his perennial theme that spending less can improve services.

Labour Leader Daniel Francis was broadly supportive of the budget and Councillor David Leaf spent another three minutes thanking him for the promised cooperation. (Worth mentioning for when Bexley Conservatives use Twitter to lie about Labour’s position.)

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