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Bonkers Blog August 2019

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16 August - The Leather Bottle battle resumes

Leather BottleAfter lying derelict for three years and a couple of failed planning applications, this week has seen some activity by two men and a mechanical digger on the site of Ye Olde Leather Bottle in Belvedere.

It was Bexley’s oldest pub and demolished under the nose of Bexley Council who did nothing to intervene. They also did nothing when the Health & Safety Executive asked for their co-operation either but thanks to the intervention of Labour Leader Daniel Francis (and others) the developer is due in Court next week on H&SE charges.

When I took these pictures today the workers showed a genuine interest in my well-being as I attempted to negotiate the almost blocked public footpath. They recommended I didn’t use it as the far end was full of drug paraphernalia and needles. Not at all like the reception the developer himself used to mete out.

They were happy to tell me that they were only there to clear the site but added that the plan was to build flats. Anybody would speculate similarly so that comment should perhaps not be given any legitimacy.

The most recent reference to the Leather Bottle on Bexley’s planning web pages is 17/01745/FUL which saw the development plans refused. However there has been a delivery of bricks and building materials. Time for Bexley Council to take action? One would think so but a phone call to the Planning Office failed to raise any interest.

The developer at this site is the same as the one who desecrated part of Lesnes Abbey woods.

Leather Bottle Leather Bottle Leather Bottle Leather Bottle


11 August - Something smells

The grandfather of Rhys Lawrie, the almost four year old neglected by Bexley Council and subsequently murdered while Bexley’s Social Workers were too busy partying has been in touch with references to a whole load of new information which has only served to confirm his worst suspicions, if only because he is now banned by a judge from talking publicly about the death of a child.

Was there ever better proof that he is on to something?

He lives very close to me, I will have to see if he is interested in meeting.

Meanwhile across the river in Thurrock similar things are happening which I have again been asked not to delve into too deeply at this stage.

One thing that can be confirmed however - because it is in the public domain if one knows where to look - is that Rory Patterson who wrote the Serious Case Review that allowed Bexley Council to escape from a Baby P sized hole was indeed co-opted by Thurrock Council as a Councillor while a Director of the same Council too.

How strange is that?
Register of Interests

Click image for source document.


8 August - A one sided conversation. Anonymous messages

It’s been said before that allowing anonymous messages via the Contact page is a mixed blessing; if the subject matter doesn’t get an airing here because it is judged to be of minor interest it risks alienating the sender and perhaps not getting something important on a later occasion.

Rather too often, plausible stories come without supporting evidence and there are limits to what can be put on line unchecked and sometimes senders appear to be a little upset if a modicum of poetic licence is employed. I confess to sometimes not being entirely honest with the stated sources in a possibly lame attempt to protect them from identification. If someone claims to be in the thick of the action and choses to blow the whistle I am not likely to reveal their position. Firstly their claim might not be true but when the likelihood is that it is absolutely so it becomes even more important to fib about sources.

Anyway here’s a little round up of a selection of fairly recent anonymous messages, those that I can remember. Apologies if yours has been missed. I’ll start with one that did come with supporting evidence.

Post Offices
Councillor Richard Diment has a bee in his bonnet about Post Office closures and somebody needs to have one. I’m sure that closing so many of the borough’s Post Offices is a serious inconvenience to many although I am perhaps too typical in not having the need of one since I bought my last lot of Christmas stamps. Maybe closures are a good excuse not to send any more.

The anonymous informant wished to remind me that Bexley Council actually owns a Post Office and the evidence can be seen in the Asset Register. They bought it for a reported £925,000 a year ago, seven times the price the previous owner paid. There will be some strategic property wangling going on.

Members Register of Interests
The Councillors’ Register of Interests went off line five months ago. I complained to the Council about it and I asked my local Councillor to enquire but nothing came of either. It’s illegal not to have it available so one would think that Bexley Council would sort the problem out quickly.

Eventually I forgot about it.

An anonymous correspondent says that the Register has just come back on line. He also says that Councillor Wildman whose addresses both before and after election has posed a minor mystery is still at 12 Embassy Court; but he has changed his job. Companies House says he changed jobs in September 2018. This is perhaps getting close to trivia!

Council Accounts
When Bonkers relied on a small band of helpers this one would have come up long ago, but now there is no time for it.

The message says that the reserves went down by £15 million last year which is three times as much as in the previous year. The author blames it on recruiting a Finance Director from the Socialist Republic of Newham but I’m not sure that is entirely fair. My recollection is that he came from the jointly operated OneSource, the dysfunctional organisation which made such a mess of billing me for my aunt’s respite care. He may even have gone there from Bexley in the first place.

The message sender worries about future Council Tax rates as do we all but maybe accounting will be in trouble before then because he alleges that Bexley’s auditors failed to meet their 31st July deadline. Draft Accounts. It was probably mentioned at the recent Audit Committee meeting but I didn’t go. Usual excuses apply.

Homes in Multiple Occupation
Maybe I shouldn’t cover this one, it needs to be referred to an earlier blog which I cannot find or maybe never got around to writing. However my correspondent again refers to more than a dozen similar house purchases (Band A three beds converted to flats) all being completed on the same day and all at the same price, well two different prices actually but still suspicious. He points his finger at Bexley Council going about its business of forcing up house prices and making a fortune from the additional Council Tax. But it may be no better than an informed guess.

If I ever find the missing info I may expand on this.

“One evil woman”
I wonder who this anonymous correspondent was referring to? Clue. It is not a current Councillor.

Former Council Leader Ian Clement
He misappropriated Bexley’s cash and did the same to London Mayor Boris Johnson’s, what’s he doing now? Not a word about his jail sentence.

Thanks for an anonymous message backed up with hard evidence.

“That pair of shits”
Someone was talking about the goings on in Thurrock again. Not sure I learned anything new from that message apart from allegations I dare not publish. I suppose it is a fair enough description when so many children have died both north and south of the river.

The same correspondent alleges that from 11th July 2016 Thurrock’s Director of Social Services was also a Councillor for the same authority having been appointed by their Monitoring Officer. Again no evidence that I have been able to track down.

Out in the open - Just
TwitterI’m ending on something which is not anonymous but the writer didn’t want me to see it. Bonkers is blocked from following his Twitter Account and I missed it.

Someone I know well came to the rescue.

After the row in Council last month over the criticism the Local Government Ombudsman directed at Bexley, the Conservative’s propaganda machine had to be cranked up to full speed.

Their main effort was directed towards an unreachable goal, that is to blame the Labour Group for their misapplication of the law or failing that, at the very least, to obfuscate the truth.

More than one of their attack dogs said that Labour Leader Daniel Francis should apologise for making three misleading statements.

I have listened to what Daniel said several times and I would accept that a case could be made, albeit a not very conclusive one, that he overstepped the mark once during an impassioned statement - but three times?

I haven’t a clue what the Tories are rabbiting on about. Does anyone or has their spin machine have no scruples at all?

I think that some of their authors are such accomplished liars that they no longer know when they are doing it.


7 August - Not just the Met. Kent Police are either totally incompetent or corrupt too

Pair of incompetentsContinuing the police corruption theme let’s move from the Metropolitan Police to Kent.

After the Inspector at Swanley told me that there were lessons to be learned from the charge of harassment following my totally factual news reports of former Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill’s expensive appearance in the libel court their Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) told me no one had done anything wrong.

They seemed to think I would be upset by that but I was not in the least. If the Inspector on the ground wanted to have words with the over-zealous sergeant to make sure he didn’t make the same mistake again but the official verdict from the top brass was that nobody did nothing wrong why should I be upset? The more often that senior police officers demonstrate their corrupt ways the better as far as I am concerned. I let the matter drop, job done.

What I didn’t let go is the allegation that Maxine Fothergill’s statement to the police was almost totally false, it started by contradicting Bexley Council’s website which said she had offended against their Code of Conduct (faithfully reported on Bonkers) and went on in similar vein at great length.

Making false statements to the police is a criminal offence and I asked Kent Police to do something about it. They refused on the grounds that I was not Fothergill’s victim. Ditto the Independent Office for Police Conduct and Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

I wasn’t going to mention the subject again until the dispute is finally settled but it is dragging on for ever.

My MP Teresa Pearce could see that the Police at all levels were talking out of their rear ends and she wrote to Matthew Scott the Kent Crime Commissioner to advise him, I assume, that he was seriously mistaken. How could he be otherwise? Exactly who does he think might be her victim?

Eventually Scott’s Chief Executive Adrian Harper replied with specific references to five documents which he claimed excused the decision. Whether he is incompetent, corrupt or stupid I’m really not sure. Fothergill named me 13 times in her statement and it was definitely me who was summoned to appear at Sevenoak’s Magistrates’ Court. Harper is apparently too dim to see the connection.

Not a single one of the five documents referenced by Adrian Harper had anything to do with my allegation at all. They were references to the quite separate correspondence which led to Kent DPS saying that no one had done anything that might possibly be conceived as wrong; or as I would put it confirmed to me their own corrupt ways.

Now Teresa has had to go back to the Crime Commissioner to try to persuade him that the decision made in the Chief Constable’s office (which the Commissioner is presumably blindly repeating) that I was not the victim of Maxine Fothergill’s exaggerated and frequently false claims. It is totally ridiculous and the fact that they are still saying the same after very nearly 18 months of correspondence speaks volumes for their intelligence.

Incidentally Fothergill instructed a solicitor to sue me if I continued to report her activities here. Why she should want her chequered history repeated in court again I have no idea. The Kent Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott is also a former Bexley Councillor. Funny that.


6 August - The Metropolitan Police is bent and hoist with its own petard

Readers who wish to know more of how the Metropolitan Police deal with officers who honestly try to solve crime could do worse than read this article.

It seems to me that they had to fork out £414,000 last week because to contest the case against them would mean having to admit that Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Cook is not the villain they like to make out he is after all.


5 August (Part 2) - Plane silly

If I look out of my front window I can see trains heading for London and aeroplanes heading for London City Airport. In the evening the aeroplanes are more frequent than the trains and after dark one can see a line of landing lights stacked up in the eastern sky.

Fortunately I do not hear either when indoors but travel a mile or so to the north and those aeroplanes are low enough to see what make of tyres each airline favours. So Bexley Council is concerned about the noise impact on its more northerly residents, right?

You would think so but you would be wrong. The airport is being expanded as anyone who passes by on the Docklands Light Railway can see for themselves but Bexley residents are being kept in the dark about the expansion plans.

In yet another example of it being uninterested in its northern outpost Bexley Council is not taking part in the current expansion consultation beyond a few details lodged with Bexleyheath Central Library.

There is a City Airport Consultative Committee of which Conservative Councillor James Hunt is a member. The Labour Group alleges he has not been present at any of its meetings. I checked with James, he is an approachable sort of chap, and there was an unfortunate very last minute date clash with the only meeting of his tenure, which he regrets.

Labour Councillors don’t think that is good enough and have issued a Press Release on the Consultation issue.

City Airport’s Consultation questionnaire may be accessed from here together with a not hugely informative video.


5 August (Part 1) - The new Home Secretary has much to learn

Priti PatelWho would have seriously thought before Boris Johnson’s recent elevation that the President of the Erith & Thamesmead Conservative Association would be Home Secretary? I am not against her appointment, we have seen too many pink Tories and look where that has got us.

One of the very few times I have switched on the TV in recent years specially to watch a programme was when Priti Patel was on Question Time and spoke in favour of capital punishment. I thought she was extremely misguided, not because some people do not deserve the rope but because no one should contemplate such a thing in a country where the police are so corrupt as they are in the UK. The CPS too for that matter.

When the top management at BT was going off its head a few years after privatisation (except for a year after leaving school I was there all my working life) and recruiting managers from outside to the detriment of those with 30 years experience who had some inkling of how telecoms systems actually worked, I was saddled with a work colleague who had been a CPS prosecutor. We had to take her aside and tell her that regaling us with stories of how she worked with the police to stitch up criminals was not going down too well with the junior staff.

That was rather a long time ago but things have not got better.

In 2011 my extended family received a written acknowledgment from the Metropolitan Police that they had been bent beyond most people’s imagination.

Justice for Daniel

Daniel Morgan was a private investigator who studied police corruption in S.E. London. For planning to pass on the evidence he was killed with an axe through his skull. The £1,000 in his pocket was untouched.

It’s no better now. Except perhaps for one, every Met. Commissioner has done their best to protect their predecessors from the consequences of the extreme corruption that led to the murder of an innocent man who knew too much. Neither the Police Complaints Commission, its various successors and other investigating Constabularies have been any better and all the 1997 to 2010 Labour Home Secretaries refused to accept that the British Police can be corrupt from top to bottom - and then along came Theresa May, the only Home Secretary to be persuaded that something very serious was amiss.

Daily Telegraph Madam May set up an enquiry into just how deeply the police were implicated in the murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan who discovered that Met. officers were involved with serious organised crime. Drugs, robberies and ultimately murder.

Daniel Morgan was murdered after his intention to spill the beans to the newspapers was apparently leaked to Scotland Yard. After the murder investigation failed the senior investigating officer took Daniel’s place at the detective agency.

Mrs. May’s enquiry was scheduled to last a year but is now into its seventh. The Met. was obstructive from the start and still is. It would be naive to believe that everything is down to the mistakes of the past.

Over many years the Met. has carried out five separate enquiries into the murder but only the last of them was conducted in a way the family thought was acceptable. It was led by Detective Chief Superintendent David Cook who presented a BBC Crimewatch reconstruction of the murder. The Morgan family consider him to be the only honest cop appointed to the job.

For getting too close to the truth the Met. rewarded Cook with nothing but grief. They stood by while the News of the World put him under surveillance and damaged his reputation with an article reporting his clandestine affair with the regular Crimewatch presenter. They must have known that that lady was his wife but did nothing about it.

The Times fell for more of the Met’s denigration of DCS Cook with an article that claimed that he had been mentally ill for years. Stressed no doubt at being one of the few Met. officers to recognise the depths of corruption to which the Met. will stoop; but mentally ill?

David Cook is alleged to have coached a witness to the murder and so his case never came to trial but that doesn’t mean he does not fully understand the truth of the matter. As such the Met. are out to get him although so far they have not managed to stick anything on him.

Last week their 30 years of cover ups had expensive consequences. They had to pay out £414,000 to three men whose names have been closely linked to the crime. The new Home Secretary has much to learn.

The judge said that Cook’s behaviour was “shameful” when the truth is that he is the only Met. Officer to have seriously attempted to expose the extreme corruption that leads to murder and plots to murder any of their own who show signs of rocking their boats.

How I wish I could reveal more but for obvious reasons I can only mention what is already in the public domain.

After last Thursday’s news (see the Telegraph feature here) Daniel’s brother Alastair Morgan put out a statement in which he condemns the vilification of DCS Cook by a corrupt Met. It is hosted on the website of Bhatt Murphy solicitors.

Alastair has also written a book on the subject in which yours truly makes a brief appearance. £7.99 at Amazon.

Until Priti Patel stops being beguiled by the siren calls of a fundamentally bent organisation and recognises what her recent predecessor did I don’t think I can take her or the new government seriously.

I don’t think Boris Johnson is entirely clean when it comes to police corruption either.

While she is about it maybe Priti can put a stop to this nonsense too.


4 August - Birds of a feather

The more I poke around the web the more I get to understand why Councillor Read was reluctant to answer a question about the connections between the principal players in the Rhys Lawrie case. Rhys did not quite reach his fourth birthday after suffering a life of abuse, abuse that was reported by doctors and teachers alike but ignored by Bexley Council. Just a month before his unnecessary death a teacher warned Bexley Council but it was put aside because it was the Christmas party season and by the time the Social Worker decided it was time for work again it was too late. Rhys had been murdered. Bexley Council went into denial mode. Grandfather Trevor Lawrie is convinced that the police did Bexley Council a favour to get them out of a Baby P situation.

Despite the 39 injuries which proved fatal the police decided that they were commensurate with falling off a a sofa and did not protect a potential crime scene.

Rhys lived in Erith at a time when Bexley Children’s Services were run by Sheila Murphy and and soon after Rory Patterson the previous Director had gone to work for Southwark Council. Conveniently he was selected to write the Serious Case Review that absolved Bexley Council of blame.

Thurrock CouncilMurphy left Bexley too and lo and behold the pair of them got together to run Thurrock Council’s Children’s Services. Under their watch two children have died. The Council tried to gag the local paper and complained about their reporting to the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

Rory Patterson has now left Thurrock Council, officially a retirement but time will tell.

Google used to reveal that Patterson was at Kensington and Chelsea before coming to Bexley but all that is left now is a reference to a missing web page. At the same time Kensington and Chelsea Social Services Department was headed up by Director Terry Bamford.

He transferred to the Primary Care Trust which promptly ran up debts of £14·5 million. Bamford left in a hurry.

Where did he end up? Err, Bexley. What was I saying the other day about the Merry Go Round of failure?

The information reported above only scratches the surface of what has come my way but much of it cannot be verified through web searches but it all adds credence to the suspicion that Bexley Council was very much more responsible for the death of Rhys Lawrie than they would like to admit and that his Grandfather’s hunt for the truth exposed much more than a conspiracy theory.

Hence the refusal to answer Mr. Barnbrook’s questions. Bexley Council was so concerned by his interest that it published a special Addendum in the meeting minutes to refute his suspicions.


3 August (Part 2) - Cock-eyed optimists

Felixstowe Road Felixstowe Road Eynsham DriveNext Tuesday Felixstowe Road which runs alongside Abbey Wood station is to close for an estimated nine weeks. The work has to be done, at the moment the road is several feet lower than the footpath making crossing the road into the station an impossibility.

Bexley Council’s official notice about the closure may be read here.

The diversionary route is along Eynsham Drive but Photo 2 taken earlier today shows that it too is blocked and has been for about three months. I would guess that it could be fixed on Monday but it will be a close run thing.

Similar optimistic dates were given for Gayton Road on the other side of the railway line. That was supposed to be completed more than a year ago too but a look at these photos will show you that there is still a way to go.

The staircase to the flyover has had no work done on it for many months and the road is still decorated with many plastic barriers and several holes in the ground.

Bexley Council at its best.

Council notice Council notice Council letter

Click excerpt above for original letter.


3 August (Part 1) - All Bull

TwitterThe young and enthusiastic reporter for the News Shopper (and other organs funded by the BBC) Tom Bull, who I have been pleased to sit alongside through many a Council meeting is leaving the Shopper to further his career elsewhere and good luck to him.

I have enjoyed having his company there not to mention his undying support after Maxine Fothergill had successfully lied to Kent Police and I was lined up for an appearance at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court. Similarly it has been nice to have someone alongside me at meetings making similar observations to my own.

My email folder tells me that Tom has only been around to report on Bexley (plus Bromley and Greenwich) for 19 months and Councillor Teresa O’Neill has seen fit to send him a Good luck Tweet.

An interesting coincidence. Precisely 19 months after Bonkers was born to report on Bexley Council she had her friends send me the following. Some of my reports were critical of Bexley Council, just as Tom’s have sometimes been.


The Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards later formally withdrew the warning but it was the perfect illustration of how not so long ago the leaders of Bexley Council had the police under their thumb and were able to break the law with impunity - and did.


2 August - Mrs. May has gone but her Nasty Party lives on in Bexley

Tweedledum and Tweedledee Bexley Conservatives are in full rear guard fighting mode as they try to deflect the blame for their SEN transport fiasco on to Labour Councillors but two unasailable facts remain. The Local Government Ombudsman said very clearly that Bexley Council had acted outside the law and Bexley Council has not yet seen fit to apologise to residents.

Instead they are swamping Social Media with their claim that Labour Leader Daniel Francis was forced to apologise for exposing their undoubted failure.

Twitter Twitter

As with practically everything that emanates from the contorted minds of Tweedledum and Tweedledee it is a lie. Councillor Francis wasn’t forced to do anything.

I personally thought that Bexley’s Labour Group made a bit of a mess of presenting their case to Full Council on 17th July, which may just be me whose sympathies are rarely inclined towards the left. On the other hand one of their number was honest enough to agree with me that things could have been better. An admission that no leading Conservative Member could ever contemplate. Labour may have taken the long and sometimes boring route to their revelations but when they eventually reached their destination it was vital stuff that residents had every right to know.

Several Conservatives including the Leader tried their damnedest to strangle the discussion at birth by abusing procedural rules.

TwitterJohn Fuller the Cabinet Member for Education had said only two weeks earlier “the majority of the appeals we had last year regarding travel we won. The Council were correct. We had one parent who took us further than we wanted to go and they lost. They had to pay costs and everything. We were right in what we were doing and this year we had no complaints at all”.

I know he did because I was both watching and recording the webcast. There was no reason not to believe John Fuller. In my experience he is an honest man and far removed from Tweedledum territory. The likelihood was that no one, a staff member presumably, had bothered to tell him about the LGO. This was subsequently confirmed by the Chief Executive. Somebody should be for the high jump but Councillor Fuller is cleared from any suggestion of intentional misrepresentation.

However the fact remains that by hook or by crook Cabinet Member Fuller managed to mislead a Scrutiny Committee (and me via the webcast) and the Labour Group were quite rightly critical.

The Tories have nowhere to go except to lash out in all directions in the hope that the Great Bexley Public will be fooled into thinking that the Labour Group is the guilty party when there is no doubt whatsoever that it is them and the Council they control which is at fault. When it comes to spinning bad news they truly are the masters.

What did Councillor Francis actually say? Did he aim personal insults at Councillor Fuller? I’ve listened to his impassioned speech again and no he didn’t. The important bits are quoted below.

During his address to Full Council, Councillor Francis contrasted the LGO’s many adverse comments with the very different story that Councillor Fuller had delivered to the Scrutiny Committee and called for a special meeting to decide whether or not there had been “a serious attempt to mislead the Scrutiny Committee” and if so “he [the Cabinet Member] should resign”. He asked the Committee Chairman to call that meeting and as already reported Chairman Councillor Downing said it was all “twaddle”.

Being the decent man he is, Daniel Francis voluntarily apologised for any implication that John Fuller misled the Scrutiny Committee intentionally which was a generous gesture because what I understood at Full Council was that he didn’t quite say that - but close perhaps. Surely Councillor Francis has the right to expect a Cabinet Member to know what he is talking about and comment accordingly?

Councillor Francis has no need to apologise further because the fact remains that it was a Tory Bexley Council that incurred the wrath of the LGO not any Labour Councillor. No amount of Tweedledummery can change that fact.

Reply to Chief Executive. Cabinet Member is not briefed correctly and the Tory lying machine tries to make out that all the mistakes were Labour’s.

What is more there were not six referrals to LGO it is now apparent that there were eight. Of the cases that went to Stage 2 of the Ombudsman’s process every single one went against Bexley Council.

Yet it is all Labour’s fault.

If the Conservatives are so totally innocent why is it that their own Audit Committee is carrying out an investigation into what went wrong?

Note: It is widely believed that Bexley Conservatives’ social media accounts are run by Councillors Craske and Read, referred to here as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. They have denied it but Councillors on both sides of the divide have been more forthcoming. In view of the persistent lying from that quarter I am sorely tempted to reinstate the catalogue of Craske lies I removed from Bonkers in the Spring. Watch this space


1 August - Council employment is just a self interested gravy train

BeltonA few eyebrows were raised when it was revealed that Bexley’s Chief Executive Jacky Belton had been earning around forty grand a year from job pay offs, let alone her inflated salaries.

It was always thus.

In 2011 when Sir Eric Pickles (now Lord Pickles) was Secretary of State for Communities my friends MIck Barnbrook and Elwyn Bryant organised a petition asking the Council to reduce the salaries of their Directors which topped £200,000; twice what the Secretary of State had said should be the maximum.

2011 was peak lying time for Bexley Council. If you think they are too often the most part appalling liars now you should have been watching them back then.

Elwyn and Mick helped by John Watson and Nicholas Dowling trudged the streets for weeks gathering the required 2,000 signatures but Bexley Council, crooked as ever, refused to accept the petition.

They said that Elwyn and Mick had falsified the salaries stated on the petition and they had therefore misled residents. How ironic; the salaries were my only contribution to the petition. It had been sent to me for an opinion and I suggested that instead of using approximate salary figures they took them directly from Bexley’s website so that there could be no argument.

Despite that Bexley Council rejected the petition by claiming those figures, their own figures, were wrong. As Councillor Linda Bailey famously declared at the very same time; “we can do what we like”. ††

Despite the setback Elwyn’s interest in the subject continued. When the News Shopper revealed that Bexley’s Chief Executive Gill Steward was given £92,000 as a reward for failure he asked his MP James Brokenshire what he thought about it. Mr. Brokenshire was Communities Secretary at the time but thanks to Boris Johnson’s clear out only a week later he didn’t have to reply to the letter. That came from a Civil Servant who said the guidance recommended that large severance packages should be considered by Full Council in public.

Other recommendations are that senior executives voluntarily reduce their earnings, that Chief Executives should be shared between local authorities and that severance payments should be capped at £95,000. The immoral gravy train which is senior Council job appointments is totally out of hand when the Merry Go Round of job swapping becomes the norm.

It was not always thus as another local commentator reminds me…

Your blogs about ex-gratia payments and salaries make alarming reading. I remember as a child council workers were paid less than those from the private sector on the premise that they would receive a better pension. †

More recently an argument was made that to attract the ‘right’ kind of applicant salaries commensurate with the private sector HAD to be offered - without any regard for the advantageous pension benefits. One of the reasons we face the incredible amounts now on offer.

George Osborne, when he was chancellor, saw what was happening and how employees on a final salary pension were getting out of control and he put limits on these pensions.

The law of unintended consequences took over and GPs (among others) began to retire because without an enhanced pension there was little point in continuing to work. Council staff saw a way around this and simply left one job for another collecting another severance payment on the way to the next highly paid job. Something not available to GPs. It seems that Bexley Council has not seen through this or is happy to allow it. Probably the latter.

Since I retired myself I took on an occasional job with a nearby borough, only for a few weeks a year. I’m signed up to the Local Government Pension Scheme and have been amazed at how much pension I have accrued. I pay only 5·5% on a sliding scale whilst the employer contributes another 18·5%. Staggering! On top of that I’m given life insurance and ill health pension rights!!

I’ve been told that the previous pension scheme was even more generous. Mr. Pickles should have sorted that out but alas it didn’t happen.

† I remember my father saying the same thing when I joined the GPO in 1962. It might be more acceptable if Council employees were more competent than they are but one only has to look at the design of Bexley’s roads and roundabouts or the latest bin cock-up to know that they aren’t.
†† Actually “I can do what I like”.


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