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News and Comment March 2020

Index: 2020

31 March - Relief is on its way

Food parcelsReports are coming in that Food Aid is hitting doorsteps across the borough. The logistics must be a nightmare but it is happening. Quite an achievement in such a short time.

The food delivery for a couple of vulnerable people is typically a loaf of white bread, a pack of digestive biscuits, a handful of tea bags, a few coffee sachets and some soya milk.

For a more substantial meal there is one tin of baked beans, a tin of tuna, another of fruit and a packet of dried pasta.

It would be churlish to complain but that is not going to sustain life for very long is it? All the more reason for neighbours to offer help.

A telephoned report said that piles of discarded rotting meat may be seen on a footpath near to Bexley Station. What else would you expect from the irresponsible supermarket shelf strippers seen two and three weeks ago?

 

30 March (Part 2) - The wolves are at the door

I was taken to task for defending Bexley’s new bin schedule and making excuses for the non-schedule where that applies. I haven’t got any bins out as I have somehow not produced any refuse recently but I have just been out to check my neighbour’s bins. They have not moved and remain unemptied into their third week. Clearly that is going to wind some people up.

As has been somewhat forcibly pointed out to me, Bexley Council will have absolutely no sympathy for someone who fails to pay a bill on time so an element of reciprocity is inevitable. One reaps what one sows.

The lying and vindictiveness still abounds on the parking front as many residents have noticed. Where else is Bexley Council falling down?

Not on information for business as far as I can tell, another load of Covid-19 information came out of the Council offices this morning…


Message 3 from Bexley Council’s Economic Development Department
I am pleased to be able to tell you that the London Borough of Bexley’s Covid-19 grant schemes for businesses are now live.

There are two schemes – one for businesses in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief and the other for businesses in the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality sectors (including additional categories announced last week).

The grants are only for businesses who are in occupation of rateable properties (i.e. are normally liable for business rates).

In order to check eligibility and ensure payments are directed to the correct bank accounts a web form will need to be completed by each business.

Further details and links to the web forms for each scheme can be found here: https://www.bexley.gov.uk/services/business-bexley/covid-19-application-business-rates-grants-and-information-business-rates-relief


Where Bexley Council does seem to have taken their eye off the ball is the problem brought to me by the 83 year old with no vegetables. He said he had been given the brush off when seeking help from Bexley Council but when he saw Camden Council’s Help Line publicised on a TV news bulletin and rang the number they ran around anxious to help immediately; until, I suppose, they asked for his address. According to my correspondent, Westminster Council reacted in the same way.

I took a look at Camden’s website and it is quite clearly streets ahead of Bexley’s

Covid-19 Covid-19

Even Greenwich Council has made more of an effort than Bexley however I have it on good authority that that may be about to change. All these things take time but maybe food for the elderly housebound might have been given a higher priority.

Note: The 83 year old told me that he finds the font size on Bonkers to be a bit on the small side so on screens 1024 pixels wide and larger the default paragraph font is now very slightly larger. A screen refesh may be needed before it shows.

 

30 March (Part 1) - The wolves are out in Bexley

TweetThis website would not have been launched if it was not for Bexley Council’s lies and a continuing flow of misinformation has helped to keep it going for ten years.

This morning they sent out the Tweet you see here for the umpteenth time and it is a classic of subtle misinformation not unlike the claim that Bexley is a low taxing borough, it is quite close to being the highest.

It seems to me that the biggest issue for car owning residents is CPZs and Parking Permits. With nearly everyone confined to a mind numbing existence at home empty parking bays are at a premium especially after years of chipping away at their number, but we also have cars left at home when normally they would be in a car park far away. These people have no Permit and Bexley’s response has been to say “tough” - and fine them while claiming that that is what every other Council is doing.

It’s another lie. I learned that Barnet had relaxed the CPZ rules last week and today’s Daily Telegraph says the same thing about other Councils. Normally I would scan a newspaper article but I have not been out to buy one today so we will have to make do with some untidy screenshots. Not ideal but it will give you the general idea about what more caring Councils are doing.

Daily Telegraph Daily Telegraph Daily Telegraph Daily Telegraph

Lying about parking may seem trivial but it is not unlike the Boy who Cried Wolf. No one knows what to believe if the information comes from Bexley Council. A BiB reader who tells me he is 83 years old says he has had to give up on supermarket shopping because there is not one close to where he lives and when he took himself there he was barged around by people who had no idea what social isolation was all about. As a result he is running short of things that cannot be bought at the local shop, vegetables and milk currently. He is getting worried about it because he has no family anywhere nearby.

He says he phoned Bexley Council’s helpline and felt he was given a “curt brush off”. I might have taken the report with a pinch of salt but now I am not sure whether their offer of help for the old and vulnerable is just as sincere as their claim to be doing the right thing over parking.

 

29 March - Corona has other ways of killing

Just ten minutes after posting yesterday’s blog with its reference to those suffering anxiety because of the lock in I received a phone call that stunned me into silence. A young lady I know slightly who has suffered from mental problems in the past could take the isolation no more. She hanged herself.

Meanwhile the police still think it is a criminal offence to drive out in a car on the quietest of roads to relieve the monotony of confinement. Some with even more Stalinest tendencies think it is sensible to pour black dye into ponds. The stupidity of senior police officers never fails to astound me.

As my son who is heavily into road accidents statistics remarked yesterday, by Tuesday we are on course to have more Corona related deaths than there were on the roads in the whole of last year. The risks on the roads compared to risks more generally are infinitesimal.

In better news the other lady of my acquaintance referred to a couple of days ago has not got the virus, not that it was entirely good news.

If you are harbouring dark thoughts yourself or know someone who is…

https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-anxiety-tips/

 

28 March (Part 2) - Around and about Bexley

While NHS staff, shop workers, carers, Council staff and a whole host of unsung heroes are working to keep the rest of us safe I have been splitting my time between getting frozen in the garden and answering emails and phone calls.

Four of those contacts were from local political friends which I thought was a pretty good score given that Bexley Council bans access to BiB from its network and allegedly tells Councillors that they must on no account read what is reported here. I’m not sure that I believe that, the information comes from a source not renowned for its truthfulness.

At one end of the political spectrum came a lovely phone call from a Councillor who is observing all the rules meticulously and who was concerned for my welfare and from the other end came news of two local Corona related deaths. In between Danny was listening and dumped a bag of vegetables, bin bags and biscuits on my doorstep. Except for the old lady across the river there would be no need for me to go out for quite some time although I am beginning to understand what that might mean for people who suffer from anxiety or similar problems. What will one do when the tidying and DIY is all done?

One must always bear in mind that there is always someone worse off than oneself as an old school friend brought home to me earlier in the day.

I drove to East Ham last night with documentation to prove that I was looking after a vulnerable person and was slightly disappointed not to meet up with a police road block. I saw only one police car which appeared to have pulled over a car just to the west of the Woolwich Ferry. Six or more people had been herded into a huddle for reasons unknown. Some of them may have been police, it was too dark to see, but the two metre rule was definitely not on their minds.

North of the river in two different places I saw ambulances with blue lights pulled up outside terraced houses. All very eerie and ominous.

I also heard directly of a key worker on his way to work in Bexley being pulled over by a police car on blue lights and given the window down, engine off, inquisition through the window routine. He was in uniform and quite clearly not on his way home from a night club. Police officers too often display stupidity and worse as the one in North London did outside a bakery. With such little common sense on display he should not be employed - anywhere quite possibly.

On the local Facebook pages my heart sinks at the number of residents who think it is entirely reasonable to pester Bexley Council with trivia while they struggle to contain the crisis. Stories of how their green bin has not been emptied for three weeks abound and what are they going to do about it, coupled with threats to not pay their Council Tax. As if there is nothing else to worry about. When is my blue bin going to be emptied etc.? If there is room, put them all outside and let the bin men take what they can when they can. After that keep the rubbish in a shed or something. Improvise!

From what I have seen bin crews are less than half the size they used to be as they try to maintain the two metre rule and some go sick, so collections will inevitably run late. Give them a rest, literally and metaphorically perhaps.

CEOI have a little more sympathy with those complaining about Traffic Wardens running amok and some in Bexley have been video’d taking delight in their vindictiveness. Plus ça change.

However all the experience is that some drivers are extremely stupid when it comes to parking and never think of anyone but themselves. Without some enforcement there might be chaos. On the other hand sticking a PCN on a windscreen does not solve a case of obstruction as Bexley Council likes to think.

Where one must have sympathy is for those living in Controlled Parking Zones who do not have a Permit because they are always at work between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. or whatever and now they have to leave their car on the road all day.

Some London Councils have tried to address that problem by not enforcing Residents’ Parking Bays. Bexley Council as you might expect has done nothing to help.

 

28 March (Part 1) - COVID-19 for business

Behind the scenes at Bexley Council some people are working their socks off trying to support businesses. I have obtained from them via a circuitous route the following guidance and links which may be of use to local businesses.

Message 1 from Bexley Council’s Economic Development Department
The Government has announced an extension to the business categories which are now to be included in the business rates holiday for Retail, Leisure and Hospitality sectors. This now includes:


• Employment Agencies
• Estate Agents
• Betting Shops
• Wellness Centres
• Spas
• Massage Parlours
• Casinos and Gambling Clubs
• Bingo Halls


For further information please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-estate-agents-lettings-agencies-and-bingo-halls-to-pay-no-business-rates-this-coming-financial-year

Companies House has recently announced that it would be giving Companies more time to file accounts due to the disruption caused by Covid19: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/companies-to-receive-3-month-extension-period-to-file-accounts-during-covid-19

In order to help provide up to date information alerts on all aspects of the Covid19 outbreak (not just business support) and to counter misinformation circulating online, the government has launched a coronavirus information service on WhatsApp. Further details of this service and how to sign up are here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-launches-coronavirus-information-service-on-whatsapp

There is a new guidance page specifically created to assist charitable organisations during the coronavirus outbreak which may be of interest to some of your local contacts: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-the-charity-sector

Finally don’t forget to keep checking our Bexley for Business Covid-19 support pages – www.bexleyforbusiness.co.uk/covid-19-faqs. We are reviewing and updating these constantly.

Message 2 from Bexley Council’s Economic Development Department
Here are some of today’s key updates in relation to business support:

Bexley’s Covid19 grant scheme is still in preparation – but we expect it to go live early next week. As soon as we have the full information and the web links for the scheme we will circulate to all.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday evening announced a new measure to support self-employed people who have been impacted by the Covid19 virus. The details of the scheme are set out here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme Note that the scheme will be administered by HMRC who will be contacting people who they identify as being eligible. Payments, based on 80% of a self-employed persons profits (averaged out over 3 years where applicable) will be paid as a single grant in June. In the meantime the government has made it easier for self-employed people to access financial support through the Universal Credit programme (further details here).

The Learning and Enterprise College (LECB) – the adult learning and skills arm of Bexley Council – has launched an online jobs board to help local people who may have lost their job due to Covid19 to access opportunities. The job boards (for local and national opportunities) are available on the LECB website: https://www.lecb.ac.uk/ Employers who are sadly needing to lay off staff during this crisis are encouraged to direct affected staff to this website. Local employers with vacancies can find out about how to advertise opportunities here: https://www.lecb.ac.uk/recruitment

Don’t forget to encourage your local business contacts to sign up to the Bexley for Business newsletter via this link.

 

27 March - It’s getting closer

Only yesterday I said that I knew no one with the bug; not any more. The brother of a friend has it plus his two children, and his wife is in hospital. I have not seen any of them for about five years and fortunately my friend hasn’t either for a month or so. It is is a timely reminder that no one is safe unless they stay indoors and that can be very difficult.

I have not been in a supermarket since last Thursday but I have had an SOS from the East Ham carer that she needs kitchen bin bags and I am not at all sure it is worth popping into Sainsbury’s just for that. (Are you listening Danny?) It is not as though Newham Council’s refuse services are good enough to make one think that clean bins are a priority.

Keen as I am that people behave sensibly I cannot quite get my head around the reaction of some police forces around the country. Allegedly fining someone who had a birthday card in his shopping basket of essential goods and rather more reliable evidence that Derby Police think flying drones over cars that have been driven to places of exercise - a wide open National Park - is a sensible use of resources. Have they really not got any more important matters to attend to or is their senior management lacking in common sense?

A local equivalent might be people living on the narrow streets of Erith driving to Frank’s Park or Lesnes Abbey in order to better observe the two metre rule. The argument that they might have a car accident is nonsense. Everyone should know that most accidents occur in the home especially when the unskilled are being nagged into DIY projects to pass the time.

Meanwhile the tubes are still crowded and buses are to run to a Sunday timetable.

It is too easy to sleep walk into a Police State because too many police officers are power obsessed but maybe that is the biased opinion of someone who has had a distant relative murdered by corrupt police, seen that murder covered up by a succession of Commissioners including the present one who has frustrated the Home Office enquiry over several years and that is without mentioning being attacked three times by the police in Bexley for providing news here. Not one check on whether Councillor’s complaints have been justified. No action eventually because there was no justification. It makes it hard for this law abiding citizen - not even a parking ticket ever - to have any respect for the police.

I watched one of those fly on the wall cop shows on a friend’s TV a couple of months ago and found myself rooting for the fugitives. Worrying, but that is the corner a politically correct, overzealous, Common Purpose, frequently not too bright bunch of greasy pole climbing senior officers eventually drives one into.

They should act in a reasonable fashion with their heads fully engaged or the rot might spread.

 

26 March - Lock Down but Look Up!

How’s things with you?

Everyone I know is OK but then everyone I know has been scrupulously observing the rules, we may all go insane but the longer we can put off picking up the virus the better we shall all probably be. Unlike at the weekend Lesnes Abbey Park viewed from my bedroom window has been very quiet if not deserted. I’ve not seen anyone there.

I have had two offers of help from younger people and one has bought a couple of packets of gluten free biscuits to be dropped in at the weekend. (Bloody Coeliac Disease!)

With two people close to me with more serious health issues I have had two disparate households to keep supplied with things I have picked up in a small shop a mile and a half away. I have not been to a supermarket for a whole week and it was a big waste of time because they had nothing I wanted. The looters had latched on to the fact that Gluten Free food is not actually poisonous and there was almost none there.

I think one of the two households I’ve helped has now got more local help so I am not planning on going there again but the one across the river is more of a problem. I have been driving there every couple of days late at night, dumping the supplies in the kitchen without seeing anyone, checking what might be needed next and buying it if I can for the next visit. Milk and bread and paper handkerchiefs for tomorrow night.

Last night I took proof of the old lady’s age, my carer papers from the Department of Work and Pensions and the Do Not Resuscitate certificate from the Doctor in case I get stopped en-route.

I think I shall be personally OK for a couple of weeks on what may very well be a monotonous diet; probably little by the way of vegetables. Up until now my only problem is sore hands, my childhood eczema appears to have made a renewed bid for skin supremacy due to the extra washing.

With luck I won’t need to call for help from Bexley Voluntary Service Council for myself, there is sure to be many far worse off than I am, but I do not rule out a call to Newham Council eventually. The poor carer there has not had a day off since 8th March and she has to travel around town on a bus which is getting to be a rare commodity. I think she deserves a little bonus. The regular carer has been away nursing a sick mother and lost her last weekend - but not from Covid-19.

I don’t suppose I would be accepted as a volunteer to Bexley Council on the grounds of age although it looks like it might be an interesting thing to do, but those who are fit, well and realise that taking risks with health, theirs and other people’s, is not an option should think about volunteering.
BVSC

Click image if you need help or can offer help.

 

22 March (Part 2) - Lesnes Loons

 A friend in Bromley with a medical condition had run ran short of some pills and I had a small supply of them here at home so arranged to drive them over and do a Doorstep Dump - an unfortunate phrase but nevermind.

I judged, correctly I hope, that sitting in my own car which has not carried a passenger for nearly two weeks was a safe environment.

My route immediately took me past Lesnes Abbey. The roads may have been deserted early this morning but at just after one o’clock the park was mobbed and all the nearby parking spaces were full. All the way up Knee Hill the roads were busy and past the idiot who cut across the opposing lane while turning right from Brampton Road towards Belvedere I could hardly believe how much traffic there was on the road. There was a lot of parking outside Danson Park too although the park itself wasn’t packed to Lesnes levels.

But Sidcup was quiet and Bromley - I didn’t have to get near to the two centre - was compared to Bexley near deserted. Just a few joggers and dog walkers.

It seems that there was a North South divide along the A2 or maybe it was the A207 Broadway. Just what was everyone visiting Lesnes Abbey Park thinking when they did not turn back when they saw it so busy? Presumably with all the cars around some had come a distance.

I shall undertake another emergency delivery this evening and creep in without getting anywhere near the closed bedroom door. I assume that is safe too and it helps to pass the time.

The Lesnes Loons may be happy to kill their Grandmas but if the government is persuaded that the only way to crack down on them is a total lockdown they are going to make it impossible to keep those who are unable to look after themselves supplied with the necessities of life.

 

22 March (Part 1) - I went to the pub

Leather Bottle Leather BottleThe Leather Bottle that is, and it was closed. I drove there and literally didn’t see another moving vehicle and the only life form encountered was a cat; and that was quite a long way away.

Photographic sorties are not likely to become any more adventurous than that for quite some time.

The point of the trip was to check out a report that Mr. Singh may have disposed of some or maybe all of the site. The photos prove only that his van dump has gone.

Nothing else to report, I am staying in and can survive alone for a couple of weeks taking all the recommended precautions.

I am hearing on talk radio stations how the invincibles are continuing to visit their mothers on Mothering Sunday. For God’s sake, are they all mad? Do they not read?

I have finally convinced the last of my sceptical friends that he must not go anywhere.

A small contribution to my own safety was to machine wash three canvas shopping bags. I used to have two large ones and a small one. Now I have one large bag and two small ones. Given the state of supermarket shelves maybe that is of no consequence.

Please do not kill your mum.

 

21 March - Looking for the bright side. Not easy

I suppose it didn’t help when Bexley Council announced library closures, leisure centre closures and the halving of recycling services on the same day that the increased Council Tax bills hit doormats but I was nevertheless surprised at the total negativity displayed towards them in the Bonkers’ postbag.

The severity of the current situation didn’t really hit home for most people until two weeks ago at most and the Council Tax was fixed a week or so earlier so Capita would have swung into action immediately with the inevitable result. It is not an act of Council spite as has been suggested.

Reducing the recycling service to monthly was in my opinion a necessary precaution given that half the population may be off sick very soon.

The bin strike was called off when Serco agreed to be more conciliatory than hitherto but my bin is still out on the footpath two days after it should have been collected. It’s not unexpected in exceptional times. It’s not going to kill anyone.

One email asked if would be OK not to pay the Council Tax bill now that services are suspended. Silly question really; when have you ever known a Council give anything away? Bexley Council has however promised to delay sending in the bailiffs. Good of them eh?

To be honest I don’t think there is a lot of Corona related stuff on Bexley’s website that helps residents. Most of the information is available on the government website and the rest one might argue is more about protecting themselves and service withdrawals. But they would be criticised if it was not there at all as is still the case with the Newham Care Agency. I am still waiting for the promised Corona action plan. I have one from nearly every company I have ever dealt with but from Highland Care UK, absolutely nothing.

If you are looking for justified criticism of Bexley Council look at the Brown Bin Tax. (New charges letter issued this week.) The discounted price is up 50% (£27 to £40) since the charge was introduced four years ago. Despite it being a big money spinner and segregating food and garden waste saving the Council nearly half a million a year. It was so predictable; Cabinet Member Craske is in charge. Remember the tripling of Parking Permit fees? He did that too.

But let’s try to find the bright side if there is one. Three Councillors, one from each party, have asked if I am getting along OK given the responsibilities across the river and my allegedly advancing years. Offers to get my shopping and ideas on where to get it when my neighbours fall into only two categories; those as old as I am and those who don’t speak English. A couple of readers have made similar offers too. How anyone could buy for more than one household given the purchasing restrictions I have no idea.

Fortunately I can probably get by both home and away for about three weeks although discovering three sealed boxes of Man Size Kleenex ending up empty in Newham’s dust bin just four days later was an unexpected but maybe minor problem. Ditto the pharmacist who has for the fourth consecutive month forgotten to deliver medication and is not answering the phone. But at least the drive over there was easy; relaxed, almost a pleasure.

To realise just how much some people are suffering because of isolation or shop looting just browse around the local Facebook Groups. I wish I could help but thanks to the aforesaid barely competent pharmacist I do have more Paracetamol than I need.

It has been suggested that I missed photo opportunities by not going around the local supermarkets picturing queues, empty shelves and scuffles. True, but the answer to that is that all my friends and relations are in the vulnerable category and there can be no excuse for putting them at unnecessary risk.

Stay safe, stay at home if you can. The supermarkets will probably find a sensible mode of operation before you starve.

 

19 March (Part 2) - Councillor Complacent is on the case

Hot deskingWhile I was more than a little annoyed that an East Ham based care agency had not had the foresight to draw up plans to combat the Corona Virus emergency and still hasn’t seen fit to tell me what their belated arrangements might be, Bexley Council employees are similarly upset that the Chief Executive has still not taken urgent action over hot desking.

Another message from someone with Council connections told me that the dangers of hot desking are well known and more cautious and perhaps more competent management took appropriate action some weeks ago.

Google soon confirmed that he/she was right.


In response to your story of hot desks, many places in the City of London banned this practice weeks ago to stop the spread of the virus. Many stories online about Corona and hot desks.

Is Bexley complacent? Yes.There wasn’t a case in Bexley until the end of last week. Now there are nearly double figures.

Such a rise anywhere else would see drastic measures. Bexley has acted. No events in libraries but they remain open and whilst Councillor O’Neill has tweeted about VE Day street parties, the Council website merely says they are not encouraging them but they are not banned.

So has Bexley found its own COVID-19 cure? And to top it off the bins are not being emptied. Serco are on strike. But you can take your own rubbish to the amenity site. They have longer opening hours.


Note: It was announced this morning that the Serco bin strike has been called off.

 

19 March (Part 1) - Sainsbury’s Geriatric Shopping Experience

Sainsbury'sI went to Abbey Wood Sainsbury’s at seven this morning and joined the queue just as it began to move inside. A few younger people were excluded at the door.

I have never seen the shop so crowded although to be fair in normal times you can walk around in almost solitary splendour. I didn't need anything for myself but I have to play safe with the East Ham situation. The regular carer would happily do shopping for me but the relief one does the bare minimum. She has only just been persuaded that hand washing is a good idea.

The last time I was in Sainsbury’s was late morning last Saturday when the shelves were pretty bare. It was far worse today. None of the things that have been hard to get were there.

I picked up three frozen ready meals but the toilet rolls, Dettol and Harpic that get used up at an alarming rate were all unavailable. Tinned food, forget it. There was very little milk, I grabbed a four pint bottle. I doubt there was more than 60 of them left and a few two pints.
.
On an impulse I picked up a twin pack of kitchen rolls which the carer is using to dry her hands now that washing them is the order of the day. It left maybe six on the shelf.

My aunt is partial to Salt and Vinegar crisps. With gritted teeth I picked up a packet of Walkers which I have boycotted ever since Gary Lineker decided to be a Brexit Gob on a Stick.

And that was it. I was heading out the door by eleven minutes past seven regretting my decision to go. If the extra risk of Corona doesn’t get me, old men pushing trolleys for the first time in their lives will.

The staff were friendly and glad of good wishes for their day and my cashier said courtesy has not always been plentiful recently but to Head Office I would say your kind gesture was a complete waste of time in a store so poorly stocked.

 

18 March (Part 2) - Hot desk high risk

I don’t know many people of working age but those who can are working from home. An accountant, an HR manager, a BBC journalist and a veterinary surgeon who assesses pet insurance claims are all successfully bashing home keyboards but the school secretary and the laboratory technician at a private school are not so lucky.

The physical training instructor is soon going to find herself out of work but not the doctor in a hospital, Transferred from poking cameras where the sun don’t shine to Corona critical duties.

My son in his home office thought he would be relatively immune from the crisis but meetings in Sweden and Belgium were replaced by conference calls which he says were not a satisfactory substitute.

His work on autonomous vehicles in London is on hold because there is no longer enough traffic on the road to make for realistic testing conditions.

Almost everyone will be facing problems and in some cases facing the unknown and God help those in the hospitality industry.

I worked my entire life in offices although I was fortunately not glued to my desk all the time and looking back I don’t see how I could have got much work done if forced to work at home, but at least I had a desk of my own with none of this ‘hot desking’ business.

Hot desking must be a sure way of spreading COVID-19 and where do they specialise in hot desking? Bexley’s flashy Civic Offices. Not such a good idea now is it? The staff are put at additional and unnecessary risk. One worried employee found time to dash off this quick note…


Whilst people are advised to stay at home by Prime Minister Johnson, Chief Executive Jackie Belton isn’t doing the same.

For a number of days she has been procrastinating about what to do and while sitting in a clean office like her fellow Directors staff share desks as part of flexible working. Or should that be risk working?

No one has heard about the emergency plans so staff are risking their lives and those of their families as no one in a leadership role can lead. She told us yesterday she was discussing things. Staff like myself are asking how long do you need to take. It’s a crisis. Worst case is 500,000 die. Act! You are being paid enough.

Could you please post? Staff are rightly worried. If shops are closing why can’t staff work from home?


Whilst I do not consider myself to be at especially great risk I am behaving as far as possible as if I am infected already in order to protect the vulnerable people around me. Yesterday I came in contact with no one. Today I drove to B&Q to buy what passes for creosote these days. I may as well spend some time attending to a badly faded fence.

Plenty of jobs at Bexley Council must be suitable for home working and maybe that would free up enough space to get rid of germ ridden hot desking. This pesky little virus must absolutely love that system.

Meanwhlle very expensive managers dilly dally and lives are put at risk.

 

 

18 March (Part 1) - See you on the others side?

News came through late yesterday afternoon that the four imminent Bexley Council Overview and Scrutiny Committees are cancelled which is the same decision made by Greenwich Council earlier the same day. The Council’s website lists all the minor meetings such as the Transport Users’ Sub-Committee scheduled for tomorrow as CANCELLED too.

In normal circumstances abandoning meetings would be seen as an appalling attack upon democracy but these are not normal times. Bexley Council has little choice but to do what it plans to do.

Without the occasional meeting to report BiB is likely to be even more muted than recently.

Over in East Ham I have still had no response from the Care Agency apart from that they would speak to staff about "my concerns" over the lack of hand washing and let me know what they decided to do. They have not.

Not good enough. I involved the Care Quality Commission and their Inspector immediately intervened. Hands were washed on arrival yesterday evening and this morning.

What level of intelligence is in charge of that Care Agency? East Ham as I rediscovered on a late night visit on Monday is a foreign land where different standards apply to every aspect of human life.

 

17 March - Unbelievable!

I don't suppose anyone will be very interested in dropping in here over the coming days - months? I shall be going into lock down mode to protect the Old Lady of East Ham. I drove there to deliver bars of soap last night and it took an hour and three quarters to do the 14 miles, I'm guessing there was an accident in Barking but East Ham was at a standstill. I won't be in a hurry to do that again.

Highland CareFollowing yesterday’s Care Agency comments I received a barely literate email from the Agency confirming that their staff had been given no special instructions but because of MY concerns they will call them to a meeting at some unspecified future date. My concerns!! A responsible organisation would have done that at least two weeks ago.

The CCTV showed no evidence of hand washing again this morning.

If the Agency kills all their clients they will go bust and deservedly so. The management has always been poor but the regular - now absent - carer was good, The bosses are showing their true colours now.

If you have people in similar circumstances you may wish to check if your Agency is being totally irresponsible too.

My old emails reveal that I have had the real flu in five of the past eight winters so it is lone and long neglected DIY for me, if I am allowed out to buy the materials.

 

16 March - Care? What care? Some care workers do not know what care is

I can’t be the only septuagenarian looking after a nonagenarian in a separate household, there must be tens of thousands of us, so the more draconian isolation measures floated by the Government over the past 24 hours are alarming to say the least. If I am confined to barracks the old lady in East Ham almost certainly dies prematurely.

She is well stocked with food and cleaning commodities for the next two or three weeks and my last visit using public transport was a week ago, since then I have driven through Blackwall Tunnel four times. I don’t want to put the old lady at additional risk by using an overcrowded DLR but the big problem is the care agency. I simply cannot persuade them to instruct staff to wash their hands on arrival.

Those without the benefit of CCTV may be shocked if they could see how their loved one was being treated. I saw it at first hand on Saturday morning and I saw definite indications of the same thing on Sunday morning and Sunday evening. Among other tell tale signs the bars of soap were all bone dry.

The carer travels by bus from the previous appointment and immediately shakes the client’s hand on arrival. No hand washing. For intimate washing she dons gloves and when that is finished takes them off touching the external surface in the process. No washing which is pretty bad in normal circumstances and unforgiveable now.

Food is then prepared, sandwiches made for a mid morning break or cake cut for the afternoon. No washing.

Potentially dirty fingers are poked into the pill box and medication is placed in the palm of the carer’s hand and popped into the client’s mouth.

Then on the way out the client’s hand is shaken again.

The carer says she had had no instructions to do otherwise and doesn’t seem to have the sense to realise that her behaviour is wrong. Having very little understandable English exacerbates the problem.

A complaint to the care company draws their attention to the fact that if the client is infected there can only be one source and it will do their reputation no good at all. They do not respond and I really don’t know what to do about it.

How many other care companies are being similarly slip-shod when they are operating unseen?

For my part, some friends say my default position is self-isolation so my revised routine is not a great hardship. No pub quiz yesterday, no meeting with friends on a Thursday afternoon and no attending Council meetings. The one silly thing is that I have a routine visit to Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Friday. It could so easily be conducted by telephone or a one sentence letter but so far it seems that no one at QEH is interested in reducing their workload or the risk of infection.

Note: The above comment relates to a relief care worker. The regular one would happily adapt procedures if I asked her to but sadly she is attending to a dying mother far away.

 

15 March - Across the water

How do you protect yourself from the Chinese bat soup disease and someone only ten weeks short of her 100th birthday who lives fewer than four miles away but the wrong side of the river? I have recently been in the habit of visiting a minimum of twice a week, four was just too exhausting, using public transport.

The DLR from Woolwich is full at the best of times and jam packed between 6 and 7 p.m. Standing cheek by jowl with strangers is the norm and with it the danger of passing on an infection to the old lady.

The only alternative is the car but thanks to Bexley Conservatives proudly conniving with Boris Johnson we have no Thames crossing. Ken Livingston had authorised a fairly low key one quite unlike the major crossing planned during the 1990s. It was due to open in 2014. Bexley Council Leader Teresa O’Neill campaigned against it even spending Bexley taxpayer’s money on funding the campaign.

So the car journey via Blackwall takes well over an hour at best and too often more than two hours for the return via the A13.

There are some times of the day when things are a little better but the tunnel doesn’t open until 8 a.m. on a Sunday and thanks to IKEA etc. in Greenwich unless one is back at the tunnel by 10 a.m. the A13 queue is at weekday levels.

Which is why I was in East Ham by 06:45 yesterday (Saturday) morning delivering supplies.

Fortunately there is a decent stock of stuff over there now. The old lady’s hobby appears to be sitting on the loo for no good reason and using copious amounts of toilet roll. I had been in the habit of taking one or two rolls from my own stock at every visit. A minimum of three rolls a week and still she ran out three weeks ago necessitating a midnight run with two 16 packs before everyone regarded them as gold dust.

Another regular was to take around four tins of pasta, ravioli, macaroni, spaghetti etc. on each visit. It has become her staple diet and I carried on buying it even when the carer said she had enough. I wouldn’t like to tell you how many tins she has now.

On my last four trips to Sainsbury’s they have not had the size/type of milk I had planned to buy, same for eggs but why was there no Tomato Ketchup on Friday (didn’t want any but noticed) or when I fancied a pack of salted peanuts yesterday, none of them either?

Newham is a place best avoided when driving; the natives know how to floor the Go pedal and use the horn but patience and restraint is almost unknown. Maybe car ownership has been encouraged by Newham Council with their free Residents’ Parking Permits and for some, including the aforesaid centenarian, free Visitors’ Permits too.

But not any more.

Newham Council has proposed charges of up to £200 for a first vehicle and up to £400 for subsequent vehicles. (Read the small print of the table below.)

However in a move which Bexley Council shows no sign of emulating Newham is encouraging greener motoring. Free permits for battery powered vehicles and a few plug in hybrids although quite why I am unsure. Government statistics show they mainly run on petrol.

But the general approach must be right whilst Bexley’s, in the the prevailing climate, is most certainly wrong. Money before Health. Maybe that could become their new strapline? Building on parks etc. ‘Trusted by Bexley residents’ is rather arrogant and probably very often wrong too.
Newham Magazine

Newham Council announces its infinite increase to parking charges.

 

9 March - Self isolation

If you look at the scope of BiB in recent months and compare it with the borough wide news delivered five and more years ago you could be forgiven for thinking it went into Self Isolation mode a long time ago.

Today merely emphasises the point.

Harrow Manorway flyover stairs
Gayton Road stairs Gayton Road stairsLast October some men got busy on the Gayton Road stairs and hopes were raised they might reopen soon. (Photos No. 10.)

However it didn’t happen; for five months the stairs have been neglected, not unlike the supposed finishing touches to Harrow Manorway itself.

Today two men working on the staircase said the reason is that the steps themselves were found to be in a shocking state and required much more money to be spent on them.

Another few weeks might see the steps fixed they said. I imagine Network Rail will not be too pleased to see the inadequate track protection fences. Fine for most places but in Abbey Wood bricks will be aimed at train windows. (Photo 1.)


TfL. Optimism or Lunacy?
Wilton Road taxi rank Wilton Road taxi rankOver the years Bexley Council has taken a drip drip drip approach to attacking motorists and small businesses with parking restrictions. That way they hope no one notices.

When Crossrail first reared its head in Abbey Wood I counted the number of parking bays taken from surrounding roads. From memory it was 16 driving away more business from Wilton Road.

Three spaces in Wilton Road have now been given over to Taxis only. There are similar restrictions on the other side of the railway.

The local mini-cab man has said the restrictions mean Black Cabs only. When did you last see a Black Cab plying for hire in Wilton Road?

Bexley Council has been responsible for the Abbey Wood station ‘improvements’ irrespective of borough boundary lines.


More parking restrictions
Fossington Road Fossington Road The four unrestricted parking bays in Fossington Road, just three minutes walk from Abbey Wood station are to be reduced in number to two. Drip drip drip.


Now that’s a car charger!
Charging hubWith a long journey scheduled for tomorrow it was time to pump some electricity into my car battery.

I took some free juice at Sainsbury’s but I couldn't spend any more time there and needed to get to B&Q. I thought it might be a good excuse to use the Picardy Street charger. If I left the car there for an hour or so it would be no more expensive than charging at home.

However the plan was thwarted by a long wheelbase van neatly parked over both bays.

Bexley Council claimed that it would only equip little used parking bays with charging points. I am afraid that is a lie. There is rarely a free space in Picardy Street.

Last week I tried three charging points on the same day. Sainsbury’s, Bexley’s and my own. One didn’t work. You can guess which and it didn’t lock my cable into the car. If I hadn’t noticed that the green light hadn’t come on someone could have stolen my cable.


The picture is of the charging hub under construction in Braintree. Bexley could do with one like that on the A2. It would be a very useful staging post on the way to the channel ports.


Abbey Wood station bus stop
TfL website Bus stopThe Abbey Wood station bus stop which was misidentified for more than a year was replaced last week and managed to miss the 301 from its route list.

A BiB reader reported it on 6th March and was told about a new TfL fault reporting system known as streetcare.tfl.gov.uk. Looks to be intertesting

The website records that the Abbey Wood station mistake has been fixed already.

I will check it out later today, I have to go to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for a blood test. Good timing eh? They have Corona Virus there. (News Shopper report.)

Note: The bus stop error has not been corrected and the phlebotomist said that if there is CV in QEH no one has told the staff about it.

 

8 March (Part 2) - A cheap laugh

I don’t know anyone who takes illegal drugs and I have lived in Abbey Wood for 33 years without once being offered any but I do know a Councillor who was approached by a drug addict not long ago so clearly it must happen.

Presumably it happens all around me, gas cannisters are frequently seen in gutters but maybe not on the scale of what I saw last Friday. There were some strewn all along Fendyke Road, Belvedere but nothing out of the ordinary but there were two very big dumps on opposite sides of the adjacent Fossington Road.

The cardboard boxes they were packed in have blown away now but the cannisters are still there.

I haven’t a clue what the ‘recommended’ dose of these things is but presumably there is enough discarded here to kill someone. I expect someone will tell me if that is right.
Gas cannisters Gas cannisters

I just did a little Googling for these things. It seems you can buy two dozen of them for under a tenner. Less than the price of a packet of fags. Maybe it is surprising that we don’t see more of them.

  

8 March (Part 1) - How things have changed

High PraiseThe changes in the quality of Bexley’s Children’s Care Services are being noticed far and wide. A click on the associated image will take you to the latest report of their success.

The borough has come an awful long way since it failed to take any action in the Rhys Lawrie case, a young lad from Erith who was beaten to death in his own home despite health workers, school teachers and even his own mother shouting out that he was in grave danger.

But Bexley Council was not in listening mode and neither were the police until all the evidence had been wiped away.

The Serious Case Review was written by a former Bexley Director of Children’s Services. One of many disgraceful Council episodes alluded to in recent days.

Every last one of the staff involved at the time went off to work for other boroughs or in other countries as far away as possible.

Someone has done a very good job of closing the door on that ignominious chapter in Bexley’s history and that someone may well be Cabinet Member John Fuller to which the article refers but Cabinet Member Philip Read looks to have been heavily involved too.

Philip Read to the disappointment of many appears to have given up his addiction to Twitter insults.

  

7 March (Part 3) - Another Abbey Road accident

Abbey Road Abbey Road Abbey RoadAbbey Road claimed another victim last night. It was difficult to discern what might have happened but thankfully no one appeared to have suffered more than expensively bent metal.

Bexley Council’s flawed road design from 2009 has claimed a lot worse on previous occasions.

These sort of accidents won’t appear on any statistic so the dangers that were unecessarily created will go unrecognised.

 

7 March (Part 2) - Work at a standstill

On 28th October Bexley Council claimed that it would finish working on Harrow Manorway by the end of December, just a few minor finishing touches might extend into the new year.
Press Release
The photographic record reveals that the only progress made since that Press Release (click extract above) was issued is that more granite blocks were installed at the Sainsbury’s pedestrian crossing and the road was marked with paint for the bus lanes and the 20 m.p.h. limit along a road lined with zero housing. As for real progress, forget it.

Harrow Manorway Harrow Manorway Eynsford DriveThese three pictures were taken today and can be compared with those on the long standing Photo feature.

The Eynsford Drive pedestrian crossing has taken a backwards step. The paint has all worn off. It lasted fewer than four months. (Some scrolling necessary.)

  

7 March (Part 1) - More than just a rumour mill?

I’ve been reviewing the oldest blogs and have come to the conclusion that there was one hell of a lot of what now looks like trivia reported pre-2014. I suppose it was topical at the time but some of it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense now that memories have faded over six years.

They can’t be removed wholesale because it risks far too many broken links and a massive error log but some have been modified a little to perhaps make them more understandable to any new readers who stumble into the archives.

I still think the dishonesty displayed by Bexley Council at the time was absolutely staggering, lying on a massive scale and for example spending loads of money on defying the guidance issued by the Department for Local Communities. I wasn’t surprised to read that Teresa Pearce MP spoke against it in Parliament at the time but had forgotten that David Evennett did so too.

The spite shown to residents who asked questions was similarly unbelievable. They had to agree to have their name and address published on the Council website before asking their question. Tough luck if you were hiding from an abusive partner for example. Blatant lying to the press and asking police to falsify their reports to defend their own criminality was not unknown.

Prosecuting a resident (and eventually losing) for something he didn’t say on Twitter might have been the pinnacle of Bexley Council’s constant dishonesty. Even I was threatened for saying something that someone else entirely had said. Bexley Council was desperate to quash all criticism and presumably terrified that dirty secrets unknown might come to light. They banned staff from accessing BiB, I suspect that is still the case.

Fortunately Bexley Council is now transformed in all of those particular aspects of its operation and because of that BiB is very different too. Bexley offers a better service to its residents than many London Councils albeit at a high price not to mention the sale of its parks and green spaces.

Residents may be relatively happy but it is easy to detect that many employees are not. Two or three times a week someone passes on information that they hope can be published. Some has had an outing here but some of it isn’t really suitable and that which is would make for a very short piece. At the risk of reintroducing pre-2014 levels of trivia, here’s a few examples of what has come in since the beginning of the year.

No one is happy

• From an old finance man comes the opinion that BexleyCo does not have the ability or, he says, the sense, to protect its interests in Erith Town Hall now that Capita no longer wants it. Shades of Tesco in Broadway is implied which he says, resorting to bad puns, is neither thorough nor good.
• Someone else expresses incredulity that the budget hole for next year suddenly halved and wonders where the money came from. Fewer consultants, increased parking charges or profit that comes from the £100 million investment in BexleyCo? I think he jests. BexleyCo has yet to build a house.
• A name you haven’t seen here is Steve Moore but he appears to have rubbed some of his Bexley colleagues up the wrong way already. They say he has arrived in Bexley via the same route as too many recently. A route that once again includes Newham with Havering tacked on for good measure. The allegation is that he is being lined up to fill Director Paul Moore’s boots. Time will tell but I suspect he is no more than yet another highly paid consultant.
• I was sent some photos and links to Social Media videos of senior Bexley staff in a state of advanced inebriation. I might have published them before 2014 but things have moved on since then. What I cannot understand is why supposedly intelligent people think it is a good idea to make such things available to all. Maybe my assumption of intelligence is wide of the mark.
• Do the former Capita staff who were members of their share save scheme have to declare their interest now that they work in Bexley is a question to which I have no answer. Capita shares fell 40% this past week.
• Another message from a different source alleges that the Finance Director is renewing the Capita deal and will pull Bexley out of OneSource and that books are being cooked to deceive elected members.
• Someone alleges that former Director Paul Moore has been given a tidy sum to shut up about the bullying he suffered. If so that will be well buried within the annual accounts if for no other reason than his payout will be lumped in with many others. The suggestion is he was made to carry the can for the BexleyCo fiasco while three named colleagues got off scot free. This someone seems to think that Chief Executive Jackie Belton is just what is needed for a spot of axe swinging.
• A resident buying a flat on the Eastside Quarter development on Broadway says that the contract refers to a 250 year lease from Bexley Council and Tesco. Strange that Bexley Council said an overage clause would be a very bad idea.
• There are complaints a plenty about the Gravel Hill Broadway roundabout and the four sets of pedestrian controlled lights. Only this week Bexley Council was proclaiming them a rip roaring success. Almost no one believes them.
• Someone more observant than I am says the webcasts often caption comments with the wrong name. Not seen that but then I generally only monitor the audio.
• An anonymous message from Southwark asked how Bexley-is Bonkers can be accessed. I didn’t understand the question because the message was sent from the Contact form. Maybe I failed to see the point.

6 March - When bus stops are news

Bus stop Bus stop Bus stopIt finally happened last Monday. Tfl got around to moving the Abbey Wood station bus stop to Lensbury Way where it belonged and put in a new one at the station with the correct location details and a selection of bus routes on it.

It only took them a full year after first denying the problem existed and ignoring further complaints.

Finally a TfL manager took a note of the problem at the Transport Users' Sub-Committee in January and the job is now done. Most likely no one will have noticed. Now we can start complaining that the 301 is no longer listed to stop at the station.

 

5 March - A waste of everyone’s time

Full Council meetings are usually fairly interesting but not yesterday’s. It’s only purpose was to quickly approve the 3·99% Council Tax increase (along with countless increases in fees and charges) and allow everyone to go home but too many Conservatives like the sound of their own voices and simply have to chip in with how much they are in favour of another maximum increase. The meeting dragged on for two and a half hours.

LDR$It was poorly attended by the public and only the new Local Democracy Reporter me, and A.N. Other had braved the rain. They can hardly be blamed for staying away, the seating had been arranged so that no one could see what was going on and if you are not familiar with their voices or can’t recognise them from the back of their heads, no one has any chance of following in detail which Councillor is saying what to whom.

For the same reason effective photography was impossible.

Council Leader Teresa O’Neill began proceedings by saying that setting the budget was “a juggling act” and she “didn’t like raising Council Tax. Demand rises year on year but our income goes down and down”. Government grants “have been one off settlements. But we have a Conservative government with a healthy majority and we look forward to the budget and the spending review later this year. We hope for a multi-year settlement to give some certainty.”

Councillor David Leaf seconded the proposed Budget and lost no time in castigating the Labour Party’s record when in office. He said they issued more than 700 Press Releases in 2005/6. “Council Tax is lower now in real terms than the level we inherited in 2006.” [Inflation since then has been 46%. Bexley Council Tax has inflated by 32%.]

He was particularly pleased that Bexley would no longer advertise jobs in “that failing organ of fake news, The Guardian”. He objected to paying the salaries of journalists “who talk down our country”. He contrasted Budget setting with getting a man to the moon and back claiming the Budget was the more difficult task.

It was entirely reasonable that the Labour Group should propose a variation to the budget and they did. Unsurprisingly they wanted to offer help to the homeless. They later issued a Press Release.

One of their ideas was to buy back at cost price half the houses being built by BexleyCo in West Street, Erith so that the Council could deliver some much needed affordable housing and to look into the possibility of doing the same on any future BexleyCo building site.
Heads
They also wanted to see a £500,000 reduction on the spend on consultants which has reached staggering levels recently. Additionally they were looking for smaller cuts in the spending on young people up to age 25 and in Children’s Service more generally.

Labour Councillors Joe Ferreira and Wendy Perfect managed a few minutes in support of the alternative budget before Council Leader Teresa O’Neill objected to it.

Councillor Stefano Borella was undeterred and continued to support the amendment and complained about the various service cuts and the insults directed at the opposition for expecting better. “I am accused of being a Moaner, Miserable, Victor Meldrew and the Fly Tipper’s Friend.”

Councillor Dave Putson attacked the easy target of BexleyCo which has so far failed in all its endeavours. Councillor Esther Amaning was critical of Educational Services and blamed government cuts. Councillor Nicola Taylor took a similar line blaming “Tory austerity” for the borough’s problems especially the building over parks. Councillor Sally Hinkley spoke against the vast sums being spent on consultants and the cuts imposed on Belvedere Library. Various questions directed to Cabinet Members on behalf of her residents had gone unanswered.

MayorNeedless to say the Conservatives were very much against Labour’s ideas and unmoved by their persistent reference to the lack of affordable homes. Some of their responses demeaned their personal judgment and in that Cabinet Member Peter Craske took the prize; he likened the Labour Budget to a Pork Pie while the Conservative one was a Steak Pie with Ale. Councillor Craske has been something of an expert on Pork Pies over the years so probably knows what he is talking about.

The Labour Amendment was inevitably thrown out unanimously.

The grandstanding then began in earnest. A large number of Conservative Councillors spent five minutes each to proclaim the wonders contained within their own budget, how the Council Tax is lower in real terms than in 2006 without of course admitting that it compares less well with other London Councils than it did in 2006.

The Labour amendment was widely ridiculed for being short but the Labour Leader pointed out that the Conservative counter-proposals in 2002 through to 2005 were much shorter.

Councillor Alan Downingֹ’s (St. Mary’s & St. James) speech was well below his usual standard. “Another year with no alternative budget from Labour. Why is it that Labour hasn’t tried harder to show the people of Bexley that they care, about them? Is it that they actually don’t? We have heard all about the housing problems in Bexley but the problem is not alone in Bexley but in the country as a whole. Is it not about time that they really genuinely showed they understood what’s needed in Bexley? All we have had today is an amendment made up from headlines in the media. I just cannot understand what goes on opposite [us] in the chamber.”

Councillor Hall (East Wickham) was not an awful lot better. “The budget was the result of Bexley’s financial acumen. We must make difficult choices, it is truly a balancing act to meet the needs and aspirations of our residents. The easy thing to do is complain and make unrealistic demands on the government and bury your head in the sand. Sadly this has been the Labour approach for the past 14 years. It is amateur, juvenile, unproductive and plainly wrong. The people of this borough are not hoodwinked by such pathetic maneuverings.”

I made notes on 14 different Conservative Councillor’s speeches but they added nothing of substance. There really wasn’t any point in any of them other than point scoring. The Cabinet had spoken and there would be no turning back whatever the voting fodder said.

 

4 March - Mystery solved

The unusual looking camera clamped to a lamp post at the junction of Fossington Road and Abbey Road close to the Abbey in Belvedere is a speed camera.

It was put there by the police with the permission of Bexley Council. It is a Vector camera which is an average speed recorder so somewhere along the road there might be another but as yet I have not located it. All information welcome.

An alternative might be that it is being used as if it is a fixed version of a speed gun.

Camera Camera Wall down Wall downOne might speculate that the Police are trying to gauge the extent of the Abbey Road speeding problem to see if there would be enough money earned to justify a standard yellow box.

Quite likely it is justified. Most of the time the speeds on Abbey Road are reasonable but every so often a nutter goes at 50 or more overtaking on the wrong side of Keep Lefts if necessary.

In 2009 while Bexley Council was busy making Abbey Road narrow I asked them for the accident statistics. There were none on record although my own research found a fatal accident report from March 2001.

Since 2009 there have been many more accidents, two fatal.

The reason is obvious. Bexley Council said that they had narrowed the road in accordance with all the guidelines issued by the Transport Research Laboratory. I called in the man who had authorised the guidance and he said that no part of it had been followed and what Bexley Council had done was “a recipe for collisions”. They had adopted none of the ideas which lead to lower speeds and narrow roads give less time to recover from mistakes. Accidents became inevitable.

Over the past ten years the forecast has proved to be all too accurate. TRL’s experts know what they are talking about and Bexley’s experts are not experts at all.

Note: The basic information regarding the camera came from research by local Councillor Sally Hinkley. (Labour.)

 

3 March - Hiding things across the river

It can be a devil of a job finding out what is going on at OneSource, the joint Newham, Havering, Bexley consortium allegedly set up to save money, in practice just another vehicle for lucrative job hopping opportunities.

If you look at its website you will discover that it has not published any reports since April 2017. It’s no good checking on Bexley’s website, there is nothing there but fortunately Havering Council’s website includes OneSource Agendas for and Minutes of meetings. The last one was held a month ago.

It reveals that they are using a Financial Control system called Oracle Fusion. Go back two years and you will find that they had agreed to spend all their spare money on a different system called Axiom.

A OneSource Director named Paul Thorogood was pushing hard towards its adoption but then he left to take charge of Bexley’s Finances. As soon as he did so OneSource ditched Axiom. Looks like he was backing the wrong horse. Let’s hope he gets things right in Bexley.

 

1 March - Pier Road West, Erith. Future plans

Bexley Council has plans to improve Erith’s shopping centre which has to be a good thing overall, at present it is not a place I would want to go shopping but that is maybe a biased opinion. I don’t like shopping full stop.

The current plans are centred on Pier Road which contrary to expectations no longer leads to the longest of the Thames piers; Erith’s. It is confined to the southern boundary of the shopping centre.
Map
Last week’s Cabinet meeting gave just a few hints about what is to happen in the near future.

The subject was introduced by Jane Richardson who according to Bexley’s horribly outdated web published staff tree is Assistant Chief Executive for Growth and Regeneration. She sought authority to prepare a draft Compulsory Purchase Order, to purchase properties under the CPO compensation rules and to find a development partner. She was not currently seeking authority to use CPO powers but was looking to pay compensation to anyone who voluntarily offered property for sale.

Pier Road, she said, was “once a flourishing road made up of grand Victorian villas with commercial and retail premises on the ground floors and was one of Erith’s main thoroughfares. It no longer provides a welcoming entrance”. There are currently more than 50 different occupiers but the Council now owns most of the freeholds and four long leaseholds.

The Council is in contact with every leaseholder etc. and very recently nine of their contacts asked for Council valuations and seven have requested formal offers. “Any purchase at this stage will be by mutual agreement.”

The overall scheme is designed to “provide high quality mixed use commercial and residential development creating a new and attractive gateway to Erith and to encourage greater footfall into the town centre”.

A shopkeeper was present to make representations but by accident or design his microphone was cut off just a few seconds into his address and he remained mute for three minutes with no clue as to what point he might be making.

It was clear from Ms. Richardson’s response that he had accused the Council of “underhand practices” and “the allegations are serious” but she said that no complaints had been recorded. The Council Leader said she wanted to hear more of the allegations.

The Cabinet approved the Pier Road developments going through to the next stage.

 

News and Comment March 2020

Index: 2020

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