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Bonkers Blog September 2018

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30 September - Sally in our alley

Ha ha! I have been accused of being a Labour supporter, if only my accuser could have been a fly on the wall yesterday at a family gathering, all former Labourites except me. I said that Corbyn and Co. were a bunch of Commies and I was told that they were far worse than that and their support for his party had gone for all time.

In Labour’s pocket? I liked your latest blog on Wilton road and agreed with the comments you made… however, I was disappointed when you once again failed to attack Bexley Labour too… Sally Hinkley was posing for the photo… you didn’t mention her once.

That’s true, I spotted Sally along with two Labour Councillors from Greenwich in the photo but what was there to be said about it? Wilton Road is Sally's ward and if she had not shown up the Tories would have been Tweeting about it for ever more.

In any case I had spoken to Sally (my own ward Councillor) about the event earlier in the day and detected nothing in that conversation to merit criticism.

Whilst I most likely stray occasionally, I like to think that Bonkers’ role is to expose Council dishonesty and hypocrisy and it just so happens that pretty much all of it comes from the Conservatives.

Sally in our Alley.


29 September - Playing catch up

The regular photo updates of the regeneration work around Abbey Wood station have been brought up to date after two weeks of neglect.

Crossrail. (Not a lot going on.)
The Harrow Manorway flyover. (The road has been resurfaced and dug up again already.)
Elsewhere on Harrow Manorway. (Taking for ever but progress is being made.)

The Harrow Manorway galleries both include around 300 pictures, they may take a while to load. Perhaps they should be divided in two but in practice that may not help a lot.

Maybe another feature should be started for the tarting up of Gayton Road.

Cheap and nastyMeanwhile in nearby Wilton Road, Greenwich Council has at last done something about the gravel which for the past 15 months has been kicked all over their footpaths. Always a stupid idea and one must fear for the intellect of Council officials who authorise such idiocies. Maybe it helps to explain why taxes are so high and services so poor.

The ‘something’ is not what was discussed with Greenwich Council at a liaison meeting in May 2017 where it was agreed that a buff coloured resin path would be the sensible solution but instead we are given cheap and nasty black asphalt thereby spoiling the overall effect.

It would have been better to have uniformly paved the whole area than install black patches. But that’s Councils for you. Nearly always utterly useless.


28 September - The road McLean forgot

A year ago Bexley Council bought a new street cleaning machine and in a moment of child-like madness christened it Lightning McLean. This time last year Cabinet Member Peter Craske could be seen proclaiming its virtues and how it was going to clean up the borough, unfortunately it was not scheduled to visit the northern extremities. My local shopping street, given new paving during the Summer of 2017, got steadily dirtier and stained by spilt drink and chewing gum.

The traders complained and last January both Bexley and Greenwich Councils made a number of promises, not just on cleanliness but other matters of concern too. Not a single one of those promises was fulfilled - until perhaps last Wednesday evening when Lightning McLean made an unannounced visit to Wilton Road. Why were the traders not told in advance? Did Bexley Council think that I might be there with my camera? For some reason they don’t like publicity if it is Bonkers providing it.

Street cleaningSince when has cleaning a street merited a publicity stunt involving the Cabinet Member playing with a high pressure hose? When it has not been properly cleaned in more than a year, that’s when.

The accompanying Press Release, dutifully regurgitated in the local press, was full of misinformation.

It says that Bexley cleaning the Greenwich side of the street and vice-versa was “a symbolic gesture”. It wasn’t. The Bexley machine is too big to clean the Bexley side and Greenwich’s much smaller device is more suited to the narrow Bexley footpath.

The Press Release refers to the £150,000 grant from Boris Johnson (when Mayor) without mentioning that he provided more money than either Council who took more than £100k. out of the total of £300,000 to cover their own administrative costs. Then charged the traders 10% of the shop refurbishment costs, something that was not in the original agreement.

Bexley’s Cabinet Member for Resources David Leaf claims “We have almost completed the public realm improvements at Abbey Wood Station and we will do everything we can to support residents and businesses during this period of transition.”

On the contrary, work on the Harrow Manorway flyover is only running two months late but it has done nothing to help businesses which have seen pedestrians directed away from their shops and suffer the consequences of litter dumped over the parapet into their back yards from the newly built walkways.

The work which might benefit local businesses, the revamp of Gayton and Felixstowe Roads which was promised for last February has not yet even been started, although apparently it might be next week.

Greenwich Councillors are similarly clueless.

The News Shopper with no time to look for itself was suckered by the Press Releases. Apparently Wilton Road is a “thriving” shopping centre. As a co-opted member of the Traders’ Association perhaps it would be best if I refrained from comment.

“Wilton Road has restaurants, bars, cafe and is one of the main roads that leads up to Abbey Wood station.” It has one restaurant which has been put up for sale and it has no bars or cafe, although there is a pretty good one in nearby Abbey Wood Road.

Greenwich Cabinet Member Denise Scott-McDonald comes out with a number of trite platitudes as Cabinet Members often do. “Wilton Road has a strong and diverse retail offer (sic) and it is vital that local small businesses look welcoming”.

The Wilton Road traders put on an excellent street market two weeks ago and another is planned for 24th November. How much help did Greenwich Council give and how many obstacles did it put in the way? Again I had better not say but you have probably guessed.

Red tape will always take priority while petty bureaucracy reigns supreme.

Oh, and did the cleaning operation have any effect? Well the paths are undoubtedly brighter and whiter but the deep seated stains have not gone away. Personally I think the most intriguing thing about Wilton Road at the moment is why Jennings, the bookies, no longer has its name over the shop.


26 September - Where are you?

Several emails have asked what is going on at Bonkers? “Whatֹ’s up?” said the latest one. Those that have received a reply have been told that I have to seriously consider abandoning Bonkers in its present form to which the usual response is that the worst elements of Bexley Council will think they have ‘won’. It is only that thought that has driven me on through similar difficult periods.

The fact is that a daily blog takes anything from half an hour to sometimes five or six hours to write and check, plus an evening trawling Twitter etc. for ideas for the next one. Recently that sort of spare time has simply not been available. Just when I begin to qualify for a free TV licence I never have time to watch the damned thing. Not a single programme this whole year as far as I can remember. Bodyguard? What the hell is that?

Last Sunday’s newspaper is lying pristine and unopened on the dining table.

The care duties in East Ham have increased to alternate days, occasionally stretching to three day intervals. That’s around five hours out of the day to do shopping, gardening and just keeping the old girl relatively happy. In approximate terms, 20% of my spare time gone. I’ve tried a care home, she hated it and was constantly packing her bag to come home.

I also have too many family members with life threatening diseases which means more visiting than was the case and I am spending more time supporting a recently widowed cousin.

I am keeping two households afloat and there is only me to do it. Some evenings I do not have the energy left to pound a keyboard.

The local Public Realm developments have been photographed most days but it is two weeks since I found the time to put any on line. The documents that were to go on line to show why I think Kent Police are corrupt never did go on line as promised, my links to Abbey Wood Traders’ Association got in the way that day.

It is more than six months since I made an allegation of crime against former Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill joining a queue of four people in front of me. Like them, no crime number, no response, no nothing. One is forced to consider that another former Bexley Councillor being in charge of Kent Police might be a factor. They should be chased up but once again, no time.

To cap it all my internet connection has been intermittent for the past two weeks and there has been little time to investigate why. Usually my ISP probes the inner workings of my Cisco modem and router and diagnoses any problem remotely but this time they have been unable to get inside it. Tomorrow one of their engineers is coming round to fit a new one. (I have a special relationship with a business only ISP so not the usual procedure you would get from Talk Talk etc.)

I still plan to go to tomorrow’s Scrutiny meeting but when it will get reported is anybody’s guess. Both on Friday and Saturday I have more family support duties to attend to.

Sorry for the personal life story but you did ask, well some of you anyway. And apologies to numerous emailers who have not been answered and a couple of tip offs that have not yet been followed through.


18 September - Whether it be lifts or road closures, Abbey Wood struggles to move

After a very busy, but quite exciting couple of weeks, I have somehow engineered a free day and the plan is to put on line my correspondence with Kent Police about their ridiculous harassment charge.

I think it suggests that their junior ranks are incompetent, verging on the stupid, and that the priority for more senior officers is to cover up, which I call corruption, but your views may differ.

The only way to lay that one to rest is for those interested to read what was said and make up their own minds.

Meanwhile a catch up on relatively minor things that have accumulated in recent days.

" Ye Olde Leather Bottle
Footpath 11 Footpath 11I have twice had people suggesting I revisit the Leather Bottle site and take a look at what our bearded friend is up to; cutting down mature trees was what I was told. However my visit showed me nothing new. Yes the site is a mess but it always has been. I saw nothing I had not seen before, except perhaps Bexley Council’s neglect of Footpath 11.

It is blocked just fifty feet from where it starts. I don’t think it goes anywhere useful and there is a nearby alternative route so perhaps it isn’t worth Bexley spending our money on clearing it.

Kingswood Avenue (Rear of)
Kingswood Avenue trackA sorry tale came from nearby Kingswood Avenue, a notorious fly tipping site. The road is not unusual in having rear access to gardens and garages and if equipped with a stout walking staff and a pair of Wellington boots you can walk all the way through from Heron Hill to Abbey Road, houses on one side, Lesnes Abbey Woods on the other.

As you can well imagine, given Bexley Council’s well known intransigence over the disposal of large unwanted items and certain sections of the community’s even better known criminal inclinations, fly tipping along the track is a huge problem, whole truck loads of it.

Bexley Council’s answer was to put a gate across the road and lock it. As a result of this act of mindless vandalism many residents had their cars trapped along the lane. One at least had a planned weekend away and had to spend a fortune on train fares instead. A train fare which Bexley Council refused to reimburse.

The track is not Bexley Council’s to block but presumably the residents would be happy to see it gated if they were told the lock code.

Bexley Council’s excuse is said to be that when the lock was put on the gate they gave the code to a man working on a nearby allotment and asked him to pass it on to any residents he might know. You couldn’t make this up and I am hoping my informant didn’t.

Presumably the story is bona fide because I decided that the situation demanded more urgent action than a blog, I reported the story instead to Belvedere Councillor Sally Hinkley. She had already heard it and was on the case and determined to find a solution. Unfortunately but perhaps not unexpectedly her scheduled meeting with the relevant officials is still some way into the future.

Meanwhile the gate has been unlocked.

Flyover misery
Recent weeks have seen up to three out of four of Abbey Wood station’s Stannah lifts out of order at the same time and Bexley Council’s flyover works causing all four walkways to be closed. The disabled and people with luggage or buggies were simply stuck. Additionally bus passengers coming from the north faced an enormous detour along Knee Hill and Wilton Road and have done for many weeks.

Maybe I am an optimist but the problems may be about to be minimised, but not before officialdom grabs what could be their last chance of inflicting more chaos on long suffering residents.

FlyoverYesterday evening, a mere eight weeks behind schedule, Bexley Council’s contractor FM Conway began the resurfacing work. The flyover closure is from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. every night this week.

No information was made available to bus passengers and I failed to fully understand the diversion signs put out for motorists.

I escorted a young lady (just visible in the Photo) to the station who had been directed by someone in McLeod Road who should have known that the walkway has not been available for a couple of months. Having got that far she was stumped and the man putting up the diversion signs had no idea where the station was.

Once there I discovered a small gaggle of people waiting at the station bus stop which said nothing about there being no buses. I escorted several to the Knee Hill stop in the hope of finding a Thamesmead bound 244 or 229/469. There are usually one or two 244s sitting at the Knee Hill terminus but last night there were none but a 229 proclaiming Thamesmead on its front emerged from Abbey Road, circumnavigated the roundabout and retraced its route.

I was surprised to see it shoot up New Road instead of heading directly to the next railway crossing at Picardy Manorway (next to Asda and B&Q). All the Abbey Road bus stops had people waiting in vain for a non-existent service. None bore any information about the cancelled services. A correspondent told me later that Picardy Manorway was closed too and the 401 which normally uses it was also on diversion. Where the 229 went no one is sure.

The local Facebook page has comments from loads of people who had no idea what was going on and provided evidence that Bexley Council was referring matters to TfL and vice versa.

Bureaucracy at its very best.

Bellegrove Road improvements
Bellgrove Road Bellgrove RoadIf further proof was needed that Bexley's Road design team is total rubbish, these pictures have just arrived from a Welling resident. There have been frequent accidents ever since the so called Welling Corridor was so called Improved six years ago. The same team that was responsible for Abbey Road in Belvedere and with much the same result as you can see.

Bellway Homes
A man who raised an objection to the Bellway Homes development on the old Civic Office site received a letter yesterday from Bexley Council to say that his objection had had no effect. The Bellway application was approved on 14th June. Quick work Bexley Council, you must be very proud of the efficiency levels achieved.

Sainsbury’s Abbey Wood
You know how I heartily dislike that store but it is very convenient for my frequent shopping deliveries to the 98 year old in East Ham.

Yesterday, as usual, I struggled to find fresh food - she likes cakes, especially creamy ones - with more than a day’s shelf life and once again they had no semi-skimmed milk in her preferred one pint size. It was business as usual but it is always nice to have the store almost to one’s self on a weekday afternoon.

All was relatively well as I went through the self-service till with a well loaded basket until another customer was told to get her trolley out of the less than half filled self-service area. I have several times been forced to push a trolley through it because no regular check outs were available. I said to the attendant “One more reason not to use Sainsbury’s”. I got the dumb insolence look and silence. I reeled off a list of recent store failures but the woman just walked away without a word. That’s three times over three or four months that has happened, different assistant each time so maybe part of Sainsbury’s basic training regime.

After I had paid I asked the same woman to send for a manager as I wished to complain about her personally. You can guess what she did so I went over to Customer Services and asked again.

Someone I had not seen before came to see me quite quickly and I repeated my complaints. The response was minimal except when I suggested that there must be a vicious circle in play. The number of customers is low so the stock levels are reduced to suit and the sell by dates go right up to the line because too few people are buying and the net result is that too many customers go elsewhere. It was clear that I had struck a chord with that one. Sainsbury’s Abbey Wood offers a sub-standard service and is attracting so few customers that it cannot economically improve.

If Sainsbury’s acquisition of Asda goes through you can guess which local store will close. It will be a shame but at the same time richly deserved.


17 September - Market success

RaffleThe Abbey Wood Village Food & Craft Market appears to have been a total success although I won’t know for sure until I attend the traders’ ‘inquest’ later in the week. However the fact that I came home £38 lighter and the popcorn and candy floss vendor packed up and went away at four o’clock because he had run out of ingredients suggests it couldn’t have been a flop.

The raffle prizes were pretty amazing too, two of them were worth £100 each and some others not far behind. They were provided by 14 of the 22 (?) traders on the street, it’s a sad fact that a minority take no interest in the traders’ association.

Teresa Pearce MP kindly agreed to provide the opening words and cut the ribbon and the Mayor of Greenwich, Christine May, pulled the raffle tickets from the ‘hat’.

Mrs. May is a very different sort of Mayor to those I have found in Bexley, very friendly, spoke to every stall holder and happy to have her photograph taken. Definitely none of the nonsense to be found in Bexley.

I am quietly confident that there will be another Abbey Wood Village market before Christmas.

Market photos from setting up until the end.


13 September - Abbey Wood news

Harrow ManorwayAs you will have noticed, I am taking several days off; there is not a lot of Council stuff going on right now, if I wanted a plentiful supply of idiocy I should perhaps consider moving to Barnet or Greenwich. I have another good reason for few blogs but maybe not to be mentioned on Bonkers just yet.

At long last Harrow Manorway looks to be nearing completion, it’s late but not as late as Crossrail but these things almost inevitably hit unforeseen snags.

There will be massive inconvenience for Thamesmead residents for the whole of next week 7 p.m. until 2 a.m.

On Saturday the long awaited Wilton Road Market will begin at mid-day in the Abbey Arms car park. Opening by Teresa Pearce MP and a raffle drawn around 16:30 by the Mayor of Greenwich. There will be some seriously good prizes donated by the Wilton Road traders. They include vouchers of £10, £50 and even £100 and not just to be spent in the local shops, some in national chains.

The two local beauty salons will be handing out freebies and there are bathroom essentials from the chemist’s shop to be won. Several bottles of spirits too.

The main theme will be food and craft products with a few things to keep the children happy too.

Wilton Road Market


8 September - Looked after much better now

Bexley Council is still on its Summer break, at least in so far as interesting meetings are concerned. It will be another two weeks before I have to drag myself along to the Council Chamber. Meanwhile there is not a lot to report.

I did my weekly reconnoitre of the Harrow Manorway road works this morning and there was very little new to be seen compared with last week. Now that Crossrail is deferred by at least nine months Bexley Council will feel able to let the interminable delays continue. The work was originally slated for completion by August, hence the file name date 08.2602.php chosen 18 months ago. (26th August 2018.)

For better news one has to look to Cabinet Member Philip Read of all people. He has been indulging in a little trumpet blowing over the success of his department in dragging Children’s Services up to acceptable performance levels. ‘Inadequate’ to ‘Outstanding’ in just six years. Enticing Jacky Tiotto away from her former job with OFSTED may have been his master stroke.

The steady progress made since Philip Read’s predecessor made a total hash of things has been reported many times on Bonkers. As a Conservative I was a little concerned that Bexley Council took the lead role in organising a cartel to distort the market for care agencies and raise the taxes paid by employees. I don’t quite see the point of the Conservative party now that its answer to everything is more tax.

Philip Read’s article is on Conservative Home and I note that at the time of writing the Comments section tend to take a similar view to my own. However there can be no getting away from the fact that an ‘Outstanding’ assessment by OFSTED is a notable and commendable achievement. No more Rhys Lawries.


5 September (Part 2) - Another accident in Abbey Road

AccidentEver since Bexley Council thought it was a good idea to make Abbey Road in Belvedere so narrow that its 20 buses an hour cannot safely pass each other, accidents have been a commonplace whereas before 2009 it was not an accident blackspot.

Bexley Council’s incompetence with road design has been done to death on Bonkers so it may not be the right time to repeat it all but here’s a simple pictorial reminder instead.

I would guess by the red paint on the white van that the driver tried to overtake the bus and maybe failed to see the pedestrian refuge which Bexley Council likes to place adjacent to bus stops.

It was explained to me nine years ago that narrow roads cause accidents because they reduce the available recovery time when drivers make a mistake.

Obvious really, unless perhaps you are Bexley’s senior Highway Engineer. Promoted to that position after inflicting the Abbey Road calamity on to Bexley’s long suffering residents.

Accident Accident Accident Accident

But look on the bright side, it may be as much as three months since we last saw a collision at this very same spot.


5 September (Part 1) - More Tit for Tat

A BiB reader who takes more trips to Bexley’s recycling centre than I do says a new notice has gone up at the Thames Road dump. In retaliation for Greenwich Council’s decision to charge Bexley residents a tenner for using theirs, it warns users that they too will be charged ten pounds if they are unable to prove they live within the rotten borough.

Petty minded officialdom or what?

As already noted, as a retaliatory action it doesn’t really work. No Greenwich resident is going to drive an extra seven miles for the dubious pleasure of using Bexley’s inferior facilities.

Always remember; a Council’s first priority is always to make the lives of citizens that little bit worse than it used to be. It is the only thing they are good at.

Stand by for Dartford Council doing the same thing now that their residents are disadvantaged.

Note: I have been informed that Dartford Council already bans Bexley residents from their recycling centre.


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