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News and Comment June 2020

Index: 2020

30 June - Covid. Someone has to pay

An attempt to take a short rest from the constant stream of staff complaints aimed at those whose management style allegedly creates fear and despondency in Bexley’s Finance Department comes to an end as the complaints switch to specifics.

Clearly Covid-19 has adversely affected Council finances. Unplanned extra expenditure, tax collection rate down and car parking and leisure income all reduced. The budget gap for next year is already looking to be around £20 million and only about a third of that can be saved by so called efficiency savings. Last year the Council overspent by some £3·5 million, this year things will be far worse. The Director of Finance has said that “If the government does not fully reimburse councils for their full losses, our reserves will be exhausted as we do not hold sufficient reserve balances to absorb the exposure”.

So what is the Council going to do about it? Cut Councillors’ allowances? Slash senior officers’ pay? Don’t be silly.

Much better is to make close to 10% of staff at the at the Learning and Enterprise College redundant and close all the Council run Children’s Centres, leaving the private sector to provide those services.

Only the lowest paid Council staff will be asked to foot some of the shortfall. They are going to be charged for use of the town centre car parks while working in the Civic Offices. Currently low paid staff pay either nothing or £200 a year with the top brass being asked to pay £600.

The proposal is that everyone pays £684 so that most staff will be nearly £60 a month worse off. What a way to treat people who have been called upon to dig the Council out of the current crisis.

Has Bexley Council’s management consulted with staff? No. The first they knew of it was a staff briefing just before the the proposal appeared in a Cabinet meeting Agenda.

Those who might take delight at the thought of Council staff being made to pay for parking should take the smirk off their faces. A proposal before the Cabinet is to raise car parking charges by a minimum of 20%, extend the applicable hours and remove most of the 30 minute tariffs. Doubling existing charges is not discounted. Just what the local economy needs to lift us out of Covid depression.

For good measure the basic price of the garden waste service will rise to £45 a year.

 

25 June - Nepotism?

One sourceThe email Inbox continues to be dominated by messages from Barnet, Newham and Bexley Council employees concerned for Bexley’s financial future under its present management.

The theme is that the mistakes that almost brought down Barnet Council because of its association with Capita and caused Newham to walk away from oneSource are being transferred to Bexley, lessons unlearnt.

A cosy relationship between former employees of Barnet and Newham, all now in Bexley, is widely criticised but is reported to be the subject of pride in the staff newsletter.

From Bexley claims are that staff are having to work 50 hours a week and late into the night “in fear of bullying managers”.

A Barnet employee spills a few beans but ends it “Please don't mention this paragraph as staff are fearful, but I wanted you to know the information is reputable. Personally I had three tough years in Barnet with my finance boss [name redacted] but the facts are facts.”

A link to a Barnet blog was provided. It details how Barnet fell into a financial crisis almost overnight and much the same team now runs Bexley.

Another complaint from Bexley is that job adverts are written for little other reason than to guarantee a leg up for existing favoured employees. “Nepotism runs in the Barnet family” is the complaint.

 

23 June - The Accounts. More grim reading

Another quick look at Bexley Council’s draft 2019/20 accounts.

Page 9
The bins fiasco. The cost of storing bins in a Council property in Erith is said to be £350,000. The four month delay to introduction of the revised recycling service is put at £530,000, £254,000 of it being met from contingency funds. Income fell because of “market conditions” and on top of that £200,000 was lost because “external competition”. Why the £350k storage costs on the warehouse that the Council owns and for which they have been unable to find a tenant? Has ownership been transferred to BexleyCo so that they can charge for bin storage?

The delay was caused by a procedural error on the tendering process. A very expensive mistake. The senior officers involved remain in their jobs.

Page 74
Pensions may not be listed in the Table of Contents but a Note on Page 74 says the Pension Reserves fell from £194 million to £160 million, described as a “substantial shortfall” between “benefits earned” and “the resources the Council has put aside to meet them”.

Page 83
This page records that Graham Ward is the Interim Managing Director and also a Non-Executive Director of Bexley Council’s wholly owned property company. It is credited with having an Income of £20,000 in the last Financial Year and Expenditure of absolutely nothing. Not even a box of paper clips.

 

22 June - There is not much happiness around at the moment

There is no way of telling how widespread this sentiment is at Bexley Council but the constant steam of similar comments must surely indicate that not everyone is happy to work there.


Sadly, your reports about Bexley are true. Currently working here is a nightmare.
The new Chief Exec seems to be clueless and doesn’t seem to know what she is talking about and her team all seem to be making bad decisions.
It used to be nice working at Bexley but now everyone wants to escape to get away from the crazy people. Some of us wish the old CEO would come back, it’s that bad.

 

21 June - He moved the earth but not yet the Planning Committee

Concrete blockAlmost two years ago my attention was drawn to 238 Woolwich Road, SE2 where the back garden and that of its neighbours had been desecrated by a developer who has become notorious for such things.

No planning permission had been granted and a retrospective application was rejected both by Bexley Council and the Planning Inspector. The case has gone to appeal.

Meanwhile the developer has been sweet talking Bexley’s Planning Department into recommending a new application for approval. The approach seems to be to lower some of the walls and reduce the impact of the “six metre [unsupported] cliff” faces with an eight foot fence so that most of the ugly structure is difficult to see from adjacent gardens.

It does nothing to hide it from the windows of adjacent houses which overlook the site and one must wonder what the Planning Officers were thinking of. They had previously rejected it and now a very ordinary wooden fence is supposed to remedy the situation. For how long?

Fortunately the Planning Committee was not so gullible and unanimously demanded a deferral to allow a site visit. To be fair, Councillors, Bailey and Clark had already taken a superficial look but Councillor Slaughter had apparently risked life and limb by clambering all over it. Councillor John Davey spoke up strongly in support of his ward residents

Desecration Desecration Desecration Desecration

Flower beds and patios are planned but do they really need so many tonnes of impervious concrete to support them?

Neighbours from either side of the monstrosity quite obviously wanted something like the status quo restored; after all, why should someone who has paid scant regard to planning law be rewarded in any way just because restoring the original gradients and terrain as far as possible is likely to prove expensive? The many oak and chestnut trees are unfortunately gone for ever.

The developer was supported by a Mr.  Osborne who tried to portray him as a pillar of local society and a good hearted philanthropist. I failed to see the relevance of any of it. There was however an admission that work started before permission was obtained but this was blamed on an inadequate architect.

The developer, Mr. Kulvinder Singh, adopted what I think must be a unique approach to putting forward his case. He appears to have pre-recorded it and run it slightly fast so as to fit as much as possible into his two minutes. The result was somewhat comical.

Mr. Singh thought that removing his structure would prove dangerous and accused neighbours and perhaps residents more generally of orchestrating a negative smear campaign against him. He said some of it was racially intimidating but once again this will be of no relevance to the Committee’s deliberations. His complaints against neighbours included burning their rubbish within the woods.

The Committee appeared not to be impressed, not a single word was spoken in favour of the modified scheme except perhaps that it was not quite as bad as the unmodified concrete block.

 

20 June (Part 2) - Bexley. The cash before care Council

ParkingDuring the Government organised farce otherwise known as the Covid-19 pandemic Bexley Council appeared to think its parking concession, such as it was, was generous when in fact it was probably the most mean spirited in London. Certainly no borough did less to help its residents.

In April Bonkers highlighted the contrast with Newham, a borough I visit rather more often than I would like. Newham suspended its on street parking enforcement.

On 1st July both boroughs will change their arrangements. Bexley will of course do its utmost to issue penalties to as many people as possible by returning to business as usual. Newham will adopt the same system that Bexley has operated for the past three months.

Health workers and the like will, on application be exempted from parking regulation.

So what Bexley told residents was normal behaviour for a caring Council during a crisis is exactly the same as Newham thinks is getting back to normal enforcement.


Parking

 

20 June (Part 1) - Probabilities and statistics. Is it all rubbish?

Odd messageExcept for the first few days after the recycling centres were opened when there was sense in limiting pent up demand, I have scratched my head at this daily message from Bexley Council.

I don’t think my A level maths course covered probabilities although a short spell in the actuaries’ office at Prudential Assurance did.

I suppose designing a telephone exchange so that it could handle the number of calls flung at it at random must have involved probabilities but I have long forgotten how the calculations went.

In the case of the recycling centres the number of people who would like to use them is more or less static whether use of them is rationed or not and the number of residents inclined to make the trip at any moment in time is likely to be random.

Bexley Council is effectively halving the size of its recycling centres and halving the population who will randomly decide to pay a visit.

The overall effect is zero. True you cannot have everyone deciding to dump rubbish on the same day (which could theoretically happen in normal times) but that is no more likely than everyone flushing the loo at the same time and flooding the streets.

Seems Bonkers to me. Any statisticians out there?

On a related subject, being locked in and bored has resulted in me having eight sacks of miscellaneous rags, sheets and old clothes being stored in my garden shed. What can be done with them?

 

19 June - Bexley’s deep financial hole is getting worse

While I’ve been memorising the location of every pothole between DA17 and E6 some people have been finding all the holes in Bexley Council’s draft 2019/20 accounts.

Contents
The Pension Fund accounts are missing from the Table of Contents. I thought pension contributions were one of the largest drains on the Council’s budget but there is a complete absence of information.

Page 9
Bexley Council overspent by more than £3 million on infrastructure, more than half of it on buying up houses. There is no information on whether or not it is occupied.

Page 49
Note 8 is a funny one. Income and expenditure are wildly different between 2018/19 and 2019/20. Getting on for 50% different. How did service income manage to rise by £17 million? It can’t all be increased parking charges and yellow box junctions can it? Government grants supposedly went up by £108 million (£247m to £355m) but the ‘Surplus or Deficit on the Provision of Service’ increased from £27 million to £109m. Is it a deficit or is it a surplus? It looks like a deficit to me. There is no good news is there?

Page 52
The reserves excluding the Covid grant are £31 million. That’s £12 million less than last year and half what they were the year before. For a year when the Council was supposed to more or less break even that’s one hell of a big loss.

Pages 53/54
Bexley’s Finance Director failed to notice money disappearing in Barnet and more ‘disappears’ from this year’s ‘Financing and Investment Income and Expenditure’. A column that is totalled to £16·9 million should only add up to £5·6 million. That’s eleven million missing straight away.

Pages 79/80
Senior officer’s pay remains just as generous as ever with 90 Council staff on more than £50,000 a year, some on much more. The total is up by nearly 30% over the previous year. (£436k.) Paul Moore the retiring Deputy Director received a remarkably small pay off by Council standards. Less than £50k.

Page 88
The value of the three Leisure Centres is said to have increased from £51million to over £72 million. I suppose it looks good and helps balance out the bad news but can it really be true? Doesn’t look very likely. Did they ask a proper valuer?

Page 99
The year saw a massive increase in borrowing, Up to £237 million from £205m.

 

18 June - Jobs for the girls?

Look what Bexley began advertising today, another Finance job. Probably the consequence of cutting adrift from oneSource.

Rumour has it that two more of Bexley’s Finance managers have handed in their notice this week. Another rumour says that three jobs are on offer and one will go to the existing Finance Director’s protégé imported from Barnet.

Whatever the truth of the matter Bexley and Covid-19 has steered us into a Black hole.
Job advert

Click image for source website

 

15 June - Fearful working

While I spend too much time in Newham the email Inbox continues to fill with information about Bexley’s accounts and finance department. Eventually most or maybe all of it will appear here.

I particularly like today’s message because it asks me not to publish it which is all I have time for. “Please don’t mention this paragraph as staff are fearful.” What it does do is repeat the suggestion that Bexley will follow Barnet to disaster because Bexley’s Finance Team now is pretty much what Barnet’s was in the recent past.

The writer recommends you read this old blog.

With luck I might catch up with things by the end of the week.

 

repors

13 June - Dealing with racism, the right and the wrong

A Councillor emailed last Tuesday having noted that I had broken my self imposed ban on mentioning the name of my new MP. I replied saying “yes, I have been very naughty” to which he replied not nearly naughty enough. Back went the comment that I didn’t want to start a Twitter war but the fact is that I find the behaviour of most Labour MPs beyond the pale, but I try to keep quiet about it. I have no spare time for protracted argumentative correspondence.

However my decision to go easy on Abena Oppong-Asare, MP for Erith and Thamesmead and pick her up only for her use of the word “honour” when referring to her knee bending over the dreadful murder of a career criminal was not the best choice. Honour goes hand in hand with respect. How can one respect someone reported in his home town records to have been convicted of robbing a pregnant woman at gun point?

My wish to avoid a Twitter war was thwarted when another Councillor emailed to say he could find no evidence of any such crimes “in anything I have read” and asked me to provide links. Google will pick up many references instantly but my Councillor friend could only find a Tweet from a foul mouthed protest group which had been closed down. I didn’t find it particularly hard to find Court and jail records on line.

TweetNo one could fail to condemn the murder of anyone but there are good and bad ways of making one’s feelings clear on such matters. Kneeling on the grass and pulling down statues is for posers and hooligans, much better is to educate those of us who see little racism by collecting evidence as yet another Bexley Councillor plans to do.

I occasionally see unconscious belittling of the disabled, ill chosen words or not taking them into consideration when planning things perhaps, but the only racism I see locally is the assumption that a group of black men with cans of beer in their hands must be up to no good.

I hope Mabel will be able to provide more examples. In my opinion, Mabel should have been Thamesmead’s new MP.

Meanwhile one cannot really deny that it is the left and the police that have made all the stupid decisions following George Floyd’s horrific murder and in some cases encouraged the illegal gatherings.

Bristol Council, loony left, Tower Hamlets, Sadiq Khan, Oxford Council, Liverpool Council all Labour, all content to see history destroyed. Museums, fine. In the drink? No

Liverpool Council always on the looniest fringe is keen to see the name of its Gladstone Hall changed on the grounds that the father of the 19th century Prime Minister, William Gladstone, was involved with the slave trade.

ScoutsScoutsIn Poole campaigners want to be rid of the statue of Robert-Baden Powell, founder of the Scout movement. Removed because of Baden-Powell’s alleged sympathy for the Hitler Youth movement.

Putting the situations in Liverpool and Poole together I may have to declare myself a racist. In the 1930s my father took an active role in the Scout movement rising to be Troop Leader and I remember that he was a huge fan of Baden-Powell. We always had to go the the Gang Shows.

In the 1950s his Scout uniform was still proudly hanging in his wardrobe complete with knife dangling from the leather belt. I have no idea what happened to either.

Tweet

Taken from Black Lives Matter international website.

 

12 June (Part 2) - A good rant and maybe further proof that Boris is Bonkers and Hancock is, well, just a cock!

This morning in correspondence with my good friend Teresa Pearce - it’s a great relief to know that people can get along so well while at different ends of the political spectrum especially in these troubled times - I’m afraid I had a bit of a lockdown rant. I’d better not repeat it here, but instead I offer something similar from a reader. A reluctant Conservative voter so he says.

How typical is it of young families? Very I would hope.


Nothing the Government does makes much sense to me. Last weekend my daughter asked me if she should be worried because she had filled in a quiz on the NHS website and the answer said that there was a high chance she was depressed.

I am pretty sure she is just bored and fed up and not properly depressed at all and I made her do it again and she got a much lower score but at ten years old she shouldn’t even know what being depressed is let alone Googling it and doing daft tests with questions so open you could interpret anything as negative.

As a flavour of some of the rants aimed at the television from the sofa this week…

Fat old diabetic politicians at most risk from the disease will be able to go to the pub and get drunk enough to forget social distancing about two months before kids who are close to invulnerable to the virus can get a decent education again and stave off their depression by seeing friends. I will bet any money you like an intelligent ten year old girl is better at social distancing at school than 90% of adults in a pub.

When the NHS is in crisis, with fears over lack of space and staff, no stone is left unturned. Nightingale hospitals, bringing back retired people (despite the risk to their health) and armies of volunteers.

With business in crisis, billions are thrown indiscriminately at the problem, billionaires benefit as much or more than everyone else, and now there is a headlong rush to get everyone back to work with relatively scant regard to safety in some cases.

But when it comes to the kids, its all a little bit too difficult. There aren’t enough teachers, there isn’t enough space, and “little Jonny seems quite happy here at home with me on furlough so why risk it!”

As if teachers haven’t moaned for years at the vast numbers of people leaving the profession and retiring early like the medics (possibly now with nothing to do due to furlough and redundancy in new careers) and as if hotels, offices and conference centres aren’t still lying empty same as they were when the NHS got offered them. The kids can’t go back to school but my wife can now go back to work as a chiropractor and attend to an older person with zero social distance, just PPE.

Except she can’t! Because she has got to stay at home with the ten year old. So what help is that to the economy?

It was enough to make me briefly consider starting a Social Media campaign under the hashtag #YoungLivesMatterToo! Then I remembered it might be more productive to do some work at home instead and try to keep my business alive.

 

12 June (Part 1) - Financial rumours and speculation

Bexley Council doesn’t want to tell you how difficult their financial position is, but it will definitely be poor. Reduced parking revenue, Business Rates and Council Tax flow disrupted etc. Government encouraging workers to stay at home drawing close to full pay (for all but the highest earners) who will in turn be spending a lot less. No eating out, no holidays, no haircuts. Financial dilemmas tinged with madness everywhere.

To compound the problem far too many school teachers who are clearly far more vulnerable to disease than a front line nurse are doing their bit to wreck the economy. The government has done far too good a job of scaring the population witless and is now in headless chicken mode changing the rules on a whim. A vicar told me this morning that she is permitted to open her church again tomorrow with no prior warning to make suitable arrangements although I am inclined to think we have had twelve weeks to think about that.

A professional person told me earlier in the week that no one can work or go about their daily business in what was a normal manner until we are all vaccinated. With that attitude we are all doomed. It’s not impossible that a vaccine will never come. Personally I just “Stay Alert”, be careful and do whatever seems sensible or essential. Please don’t call me Dominic Cummins!

Yesterday I was on the Underground for the first time since 13th March, mask in back pocket. I would have been alone if it was not for the Eastern European beggar. No wonder TfL and Councils generally are broke.

Which takes me back to Bexley.

We know that Councillors were briefed by the Chief Executive on Wednesday evening but how did they react?

The gossip machine says that the Finance Director was given a hard time by Tory Councillors. Maybe they are apprehensive of how he might manage the situation after reading about what happened in Barnet and Newham.

The rumour mill says that Sue Gower, Cheryl Bacon, Richard Diment, Alan Downing and Nigel Betts were all on the warpath which suggests, there being so many in unison, that they had been given the nod and a wink by the Leadership. When things began to get out of hand with the odd dissenter, the Leader closed the meeting.

While the Bexley documents that came my way two days ago showed a forty odd million problem, Lewisham Council is talking about more than 62 million. The difference with Bexley is not just the figures but the fact that Lewisham’s figures were made public. Having thrown so much borrowed money down the black hole that is BexleyCo, Bexley cannot be anything but in deep trouble. Informants say that the Chief Executive makes no secret of the fact that there will be big job losses.

The usual batch of anonymous emails say that the Finance Director and Chief Executive have not only not made any figures public they didn’t tell their departmental staff either. Who knows? There is clearly a lot of dissatisfaction there. They suggest that far too much money has been spent on Golden Goodbyes for the top brass. Top brass who quickly take highly paid positions in other Councils presumably.

 

11 June (Part 2) - Bexley’s accounting window

In answer to a reader’s question, Bexley Council’s accounts are open for public inspection from 10th June for two weeks. The man to ask for permission to inspect is Isaac Aisu. An unkind Council employee points out that he used to work for Northamptonshire County Council which in effect went broke in 2018. I am sure Isaac could not have been the cause.

The accounts have not been made available on-line which makes thorough examination near impossible, you must request something specific. Typical Bexley.

 

11 June (Part 1) - Me, you, Bexley; we are all broke or soon will be

Labour TweetLabour Councillors have reported a briefing on Council finances held last night. It says that Bexley is up the creek by an additional £22·5 million due to the Corona virus panic.

Overnight one of my anonymous correspondents reported similar figures, except that they are not that similar. Probably they are all right in their own different ways.

Mr. or Mrs. Anon says the there has been additional expenditure of close to £15 million and revenue losses of £26 million.

A breakdown is provided and the most interesting items of extra expenditure are PPE provision £1·3m. Accommodation for rough sleepers £2·2m. SEN Transport 1·5m. Additional staff £884k. Food for vulnerable residents £229k.

Income streams have dried up too.

Advertising income down by £413k. Commercial rents £2·45m. Parking £3·3m. Garden waste 500k. Business rates £5·3m. Council Tax Collection and lack of growth, more than £11m. Court penalties 595k.

The figures were supported by documentation which is not published here in case it is restricted and might indicate the source.

Taxes will go up and jobs will be lost. You can’t all sit on beaches and be paid for the privilege and expect there not to be a payback time.

 

10 June - The Metropolitan Police is as corrupt as any force can possibly be

Next Monday at 9 p.m. Channel 4 will broadcast the first (95 minutes) of three programmes devoted to exposing the extreme police corruption that has existed throughout the 33 years since private investigator Daniel Morgan was murdered in a Sydenham pub car park. Daniel was about to expose the depths of Metropolitan Police corruption.

As long term readers will know, Daniel’s brother Alastair is my daughter’s partner. The family has not seen the finished programme. I doubt it will include Cressida Dick’s involvement but I believe she is up to her neck in it.

 

9 June - The end may be nigh

Abena Oppong-AsareThere are several photos like this circulating on Social Media right now, all slightly different. It is as if some MPs are playing musical chairs so that each of them can momentarily take pride of place. Some are of white men.

Each is accompanied by a similar caption such as “All across Erith and Thamesmead and the UK are welcome to join me as I observe a minutes silence alongside my Parliamentary colleagues at 11am, in honour of George Floyd.”

So my MP is not protesting against racism but she is honouring a criminal who thought nothing about putting a gun to the stomach of a pregnant woman.

Is it any wonder that my Inbox this evening contains references to barricades, revolutions and civil war?

If the Mayor of London, Cressida Dick and Labour MPs don’t stop stoking up racial tensions then those forecasts might just come true. And where is Boris Johnson?

I think I only encountered racism once. I was called “white vermin” by a black woman while silently pulling ivy from a wall. It was my wall and it was my ivy but apparently she liked ivy.

 

8 June - Monday moans and musings

More on Moore
It’s amazing what readers can find on the net; one discovered that Paul Moore’s appointment in Lewisham is temporary. Gushing praise for the job finder.
Moore

One trick pony
I have an enormous file of correspondence with my former MP Teresa Pearce but for her successor I haven’t got a file at all. I am not impressed by her one little bit, maybe it’s because some lives don’t really matter. I wondered if I was imagining it so analysed her recent Tweets and Retweets. Out of 24, 20 were pushing black issues. Abena Oppong-Asare MP appears to be obsessed by race. She is one of far too many in the Commons.

Don’t get sick in Bexley
Another reader input. If you wonder why it takes weeks to get a GP appointment in Bexley these grant figures may be a partial explanation. Source. Health funding

Asking for a friend
Council accounts will no doubt be late this year. Does anyone know when the two week public inspection period will be in Bexley?

 

5 June (Part 2) - More and more Moores

Bexley lost its very long serving Director Paul Moore last year and he was clearly very unhappy about leaving. Why remains a mystery but it is more than likely that there was a connection with him being passed over for the Chief Executive job which was taken by the Newham cast off Jackie Belton about whom we know next to nothing.
Paul Moore
We don’t know anything about Paul Moore’s replacement either except that he is from Newham too. A borough that had several million taken from under its nose. Not to be confused with Barnet which also had money syphoned away under the nose of Bexley’s Finance Director and his sidekick.

All I know about the Paul Moore replacement is that he is another Moore and I keep getting anonymous messages about him.

Can there be any more Moores?

Well a look through Lewisham’s meeting minutes reveals another, a Paul Moore. It has to be the same one doesn’t it?
Housing Strategy
Housing Strategy
The old boy’s network must have done its work again. One of the unsubstantiated stories is that Paul Moore reached the end of the road in Bexley because of the stream of BexleyCo fiascos.

In which case taking the Director of Regeneration & Place job in Lewisham will allow him to raise two fingers at what he left behind. 

 

5 June (Part 1) - Bin and gone

TwitterThe big street style bins nearest to where I live are abused horribly, by whom I am not sure but rogue builders have been seen unloading stuff in the past.

Since the mismanaged lockdown was imposed by the incompetents who rule over us the glass and the paper bin has been emptied once or twice but the plastics not at all. I would guess it has been neglected for a full three months.

I should have reported it ages ago but Bexley Council has a long history of ignoring me so I didn’t actually get around to doing so via Twitter until almost two weeks ago. That was ignored too.

Yesterday I did so again but I was lucky to have Councillor Hackett (Independent, Thamesmead East) take up the case.

I thought I might reinforce his message with a photograph so I took the one below at a couple of minutes past eight this morning.

At ten past eight the bin was emptied although the side rubbish remains.

Unfortunately the glass and plastic bins have been swapped around. I know what is going to happen. People will blindly poke their bottles and tins into the wrong hole from force of habit.


Bins

 

3 June (Part 3) - Bexley’s Magazine delivery company seems to be taking the Council for an expensive ride

DeliveryNo sooner had I commented on the haphazard delivery of the new Bexley Magazine than in came this additional comment. It must be happening everywhere.


My magazine was delivered yesterday I’m penultimate house in close. After posting mine the delivery bloke crossed the road then after delivering to the first house he proceeded up the road walking across the front gardens delivering to alternate houses.


I am at the end of a close too.

 

3 June (Part 2) - Mutual back slapping

Some people have such a high opinion of themselves that they are not happy unless they can leap from one over-paid job to another and get their mates to help them along the way.

Click the appropriate image for the source web page. Belton
Twitter

The judges.

 

3 June (Part 1) - Taking money under false pretences

TwitterA couple of days ago Bexley’s Communications Team announced on Twitter that we were going to get a special edition of their quarterly magazine. I say quarterly even though I have not had one delivered to my door since the Summer 2019 issue. I commented on that fact to the Comms Team but you won’t be surprised to know that they did not reply.


Magazine DeliveryHowever just before two this afternoon while working in my garage there was some sort of delivery to my door. I watched the man miss the four houses opposite and I then went inside to see what he had brought. It was the special edition Bexley Magazine. By the time I got outside again the man with the bag was about 20 houses away so I would guess he may have missed some of those too.

However one of my theories can probably be put to rest. It looks like it isn’t Bexley Council singling me out for special treatment, it’s just their useless delivery contractor taking money under false pretences.

 

2 June (Part 2) - Local Government is a job for life

Newham's financesDon’t get on the wrong side of someone who has an inkling of what accountancy is all about would appear to be a good motto. Here we go again with more comment from a former colleague of Bexley’s Director of Finance.

There’s not been a word of support from any of the three boroughs where he has exercised his powers. Come on, someone must have a good word to say? Last time I said that a cheeky lady said something which in view of the latest nonsense from government would lead to her getting a criminal record.


Here’s another highlight of Paul Thorogood’s career in Newham. Of particular interest is his ducking of questions.

Members asked three times about the sufficiency of financial controls and three times he failed to provide the required assurance. Well he couldn’t really as there were few controls, a problem his successors have admitted to.

We had hoped things would get better, but so far the improvement plan has had little input from staff. The arrogance in some quarters is unbelievable but at least [by opting out of One Source] we get to be Newham employees again. It seems the same issues persist across the river when I speak with colleagues in Bexley.


With very minor editing for clarity.
Newham's finances

 

2 June (Part 1) - Covidiots everywhere

If I allow these meanderings to wander around the Corona virus I can be sure of two things, I will lose Twitter followers and receive a handful of emails questioning my intellect. It provides a bit of relief to the misery of obeying the lockdown rules and what goes on in Newham so let’s do it again.

Without doing an exhaustive check I think my main criticism of this government has been that its rules and regulations are stupidly inconsistent. You can go to IKEA but you can’t go to church, that sort of thing. You can gather in large numbers to protest against police brutality without the law stepping in but you are handcuffed if you are an ambulance driver standing outside your own flat minding your own business. (The assumption was that a black man standing around waiting for nothing in particular must be a drug dealer.)

I have come to accept that the police are rarely intelligent and sometimes thuggish but it is disappointing to note from the daily Press Briefings that the Cabinet can be less than intelligent too, possibly on a par with the average bus queue and more than likely less honest.

The intelligence and honesty of the press must also be called into question. They vilify a government advisor who seems to have panicked over the health of his son and probably stretched the lockdown rules to breaking point but are not much worried by the MP for Canterbury who takes similar journeys to see, and maybe see to, her married lover.

I’m inclined to think the government began to come to its senses when it relaxed the lockdown rules and ignored the medics who say otherwise while living in their own little bubble. If they had their way we would all lock ourselves in the lavatory until a vaccine is found, and maybe it never will be.

Politicians must take a more balanced view and consider how to get business and commerce up and running again. A big disincentive must be the incredibly generous furlough scheme. The sort of thicko who takes his children to a crowded beach but thinks school is far too risky is never going to want to work while he is on full pay, or close, and stop being the layabout he is.

Balanced political views seem to be in short supply; I’m told mine definitely aren’t, but any Government that makes so called intimate relations between consenting adults a criminal offence simply doesn’t deserve to exist. Good God, how is the Prime Minister going to find his next bit of skirt if that law is enacted?

I suspect that is enough to ensure a few more abusive emails so no need to go on. Back to dubious financial decisions next.

 

1 June - What’s in a name?

Ethronvi RoadYou may have seen this already but someone with too much time on his hands has been compiling a list of London street names and how they came to be given those names. Personally I would like to murder whoever it was that dreamed up Coptefield Drive because for a million times in the past thirty years I have had to spell it out if someone asks for my address.

You may be able to look up your own address at https://londonstreetguide.com/bexley/. My favourite so far is Ethronvi Road which I have passed by many times. Silly enough to take a few thousand off the price of a house I would think.

 

News and Comment June 2020

Index: 2020

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