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News and Comment December 2021

Index: 2019202020212022

31 December - Bexley deserves better

The week leading up to and following Christmas always seem a waste of life to me, the Festive days themselves are absolutely fine but the way that some activities and routines are put on hold for nearly two weeks I find to be a pain, among them marking time here while I assume that readers have better things to do. There are some more substantial things lined up for next week but meanwhile it’s another history lesson. Not enough people know what sort of people are regularly elected in Bexley. Even some Councillors are unaware of what has gone on.

Towards the end of May 2011 I stumbled upon a website which bore my name, a sort of imitation Bonkers carrying a rather different sort of Council news.
Not Bonkers

Whatever you do, do not click on the above image.

Elwyn Bryant named the author immediately. Only two people knew that Elwyn and I had been to the Civic Offices to look at the Register of Interests when Bexley Council was one of the few not to have it available on line and only one had access to the CCTV which showed Nicholas Dowling and me in the Cinema car park. We were checking how full it was during the day. It probably looked quite suspicious on the CCTV which back then was monitored 24/7.

The small extract of the then new website which appears above demonstrates the calibre of people who are Members of Bexley’s Cabinet selected by Leader Teresa O’Neill.

Not BonkersOn 6th June Elwyn hand delivered a letter of complaint addressed to Teresa O’Neill and I sent a similar one to the Chief Executive.

Elwyn got no response but an emailed copy was acknowledged after a fashion. I fared rather better. The Chief Executive replied in writing on the 9th to say he had passed my letter on to the police with a recommendation that I be considered for prosecution for publishing an extract on Bonkers.

The Police wrote to me to say that the webpages were untraceable but were persuaded by my MP that was not good enough. They reluctantly went to the Council Offices to investigate where they drew a blank. No one knew anything.

Maybe they should have asked the Leader. Within three hours of Elwyn’s letter reaching her all the offensive pages disappeared from view. It seems likely that someone must have been able to identify the author more easily than they were willing to admit.

Under pressure and about nine months later the police traced the source of the blog. Elwyn’s Day 1 guess was correct.

Arrested Leader and MayorNearly two years after its discovery Elwyn and I found ourselves in the Borough Police Commanderְ’s office with my MP. We put it to him that his sudden dropping of all charges contrary to CPS advice was the direct result of an intervention by his boss in County Hall who was always favourably disposed towards Bexley Council.

I think it is fair to say that the Commander went red, spluttered and then exploded with indignation. His allegiance, he said, was to the Queen and no one else.

All ancient history you may think but what sort of Leader appoints such a 42 year old man from Sidcup to be a trusted Cabinet Member? What sort of Leader in 2021 kicks the only Councillor with accountancy qualifications away from Chairmanship of the Resources Scrutiny and Audit Committees and appoints someone nobody had ever heard of until he became front page news in The Daily Mirror two weeks ago?

Bexley deserves better management. One day its Councillors may vote for it.

Note: I suspect some readers will go poking around to see who was a Cabinet Member in 2011 and still is. Most have gone since then thank goodness but I wish to make it absolutely clear that John Fuller was never in the frame. Bloody ridiculous to think he ever could be.

The issue is not that some Councillors have been beyond the pale but that the Leader welcomes them to Cabinet. I’m not very sure how they can be considered for selection as Councillors either.

 

30 December (Part 4) - Is it worse than it at first looked?

Not sure to be honest.

My correspondent says that I missed something vital on the freebie dropped kerb application. That the house owner is a Council employee and Section 9 of the application proves it.
Planning Application
I didn’t miss Section 9 but assumed the declaration of being a Member of Staff referred to the man in the Grant Office (the Agent) who had sanctioned spending taxpayers’ cash and signed the application at Section 16 but my correspondent is either working for the Council or was until recently and I accept he may know better than me.

It is a trifle odd that site visits must be arranged with the Agent and not the house owner.

If this case is checked out by a Councillor the mystery may be solved but if it isn’t we will know that no one cares about how our money is spent.

 

30 December (Part 3) - Resisting everything but temptation

I don’t think I can let The End of the Year Show go unchallenged. I would like to think pretty much all of Bonkers is based on good evidence. If for example I report that it was the Council Leader herself who reported me to the Police for Harassment it is because I have the Police report that says so.
Police Report
Facts I like but opinion is rather different.

The author of yesterdayְ’s guest blog refers to Councillor John Davey’s Tweets as juvenile and inflammatory whereas I see them as primarily funny and far more courageous than his ward mate who insults me personally and hides behind his Twitter block. I think John is a bit extreme when it comes to Covid vaccinations. I simply cannot see how one can reasonably enforce vaccination that has caused, according to the Government’s own website, 1,782 deaths. (666 Pfizer. 1,116 Astra Zeneca). More and more boosters begins to look a bit too much like playing Russian Roulette.

John DaveyProbably you won’t like John Davey’s Tweets if you are a fan of Mayor Sadiq Khan. He got into trouble for saying that Khan had damaged London as much as Heinkel bombers in 1940. I had said the same thing a month or two earlier. Maybe I owe John an apology for sowing the seed.

To find something more critical to say I have to go back twelve years to when John Davey was my Councillor and refused to answer my more difficult questions. I took exception to that but having grown more accustomed to the way Bexley Council operates I now realise he either had to agree with me or confirm that Councillor Craske, in charge of Highways at the time, was exactly what I suspected. He chose to say nothing, not ideal but understandable. To his credit John Davey unwittingly gave me the title of this blog. Bonkers.

Who else came in for criticism yesterday? Ahh, Adam Wildman. Who the Hell is he?

There was Danny Hackett (Independent, Thamesmead East) who perhaps goes a little overboard with his new found enthusiasm for right wing politics; but that is opinion again. Fact is that he allowed himself to be interviewed by the Police and sign a statement when Bexley Council made up a cock and bull story about me being a Council Chamber hooligan. Such things, just like the Leader’s trip to the cop shop, can never be forgotten.

Finally there is the enigma which is Cabinet Member Sue Gower. For reasons which will never be revealed here I knew a little - all favourable - of Sue before she was elected in 2018 but on the other hand anyone who works alongside the Leader must be regarded with a certain amount of suspicion.

For me it is very much splinter in the bum time but I cannot quite see what yesterday’s blogger evidently sees.

Councillor Gower was understandably reticent over the roofless house business because there may have been confidential issues relating to the tenant to consider. I don’t know if what she was hiding was the same as I subsequently discovered but there were some things that could not reasonably be revealed without the tenant’s permission. I tried and failed to get it so presumably I, like Sue, am a disappointment to the guest blogger. I suspect that Sue Gower was let down by one of the Council Officers. As the blogger himself revealed there are so many vacancies now that far too many things fall through the cracks.

Maybe I am wrong and too easily swayed by Councillors who maintain friendly relationships.

Note: In the photo above Councillor John Davey is not queuing for the bar, he is distributing European Union Referendum leaflets on the day before Nigel Farage triumphed.

 

30 December (Part 2) - Not so cash strapped after all?

Street ViewA reader and occasional contributor of valuable information who I suspect has close contacts with Bexley Council was intrigued by the fact that his new neighbour knocked down her rather fine front garden wall. I have learned not to ignore his contributions, even the minor ones and took a trip out to check. He is right, the front section of the wall shown on Street View is well and truly gone.

Being nosy by nature the aforesaid reader browsed the Council’s planning portal and found only an application to install a dropped kerb. Nothing remarkable about that except that the agent for the applicant was Bexley Council itself in the shape of their Grants Team.

Being equally nosy I took a look at Rightmove and found that the property had been sold earlier this year for £455,000.

The reader is of the opinion that the buyer is a Council employee exploiting the grant system but I see no evidence of that but it may be of interest that someone able to buy such an expensive property is eligible for a grant to facilitate the parking of a car. The whole of the grass area shown on the photo above is now replaced by very smart dark grey block paving which if my own quotations are any guide would not have provided change out of £10,000.

According to Bexley’s website means tested grants are available for converting existing bathrooms into wet rooms, adapting kitchens to suit the needs of the applicant, installing ramps to the front and/or rear of the property, installing a stair-lift to improve access to a bathroom, kitchen or bedroom, installing ceiling track hoists to assist with transfers, installing a downstairs bathroom and installing a heating system suitable for the disabled person.

Presumably a dropped kerb just about comes into the ramps category but how is it that a householder able to shell out such huge sums of money on block paving is getting a dropped kerb courtesy of the taxpayer? Little wonder that the Adult Care budget is always under such severe strain.

Meanwhile poor people are made to live in a house with a bucket for a bog. Maybe Councillor Nicola Taylor will be able to check if this is money well spent.

To maintain anonymity the Planning reference number is deliberately withheld.

 

30 December (Part 1) - Ripe for development?

Bexley Council’s property asset register is an interesting document and a search for the word Vacant even more so. Properties lying empty could presumably be sold off by a cash strapped Council but just one of the entries is not an empty building, it is a huge playing field that long ago was in use by a school. There is no public access to it, the only gate is permanently padlocked, and most people will be unaware that it is there because it is wholly enclosed by houses and a railway line; so why has it not gone the way of Old Farm Park and innumerable smaller sites like West Street?
Property Register
Burr Farm looks to be much the same area as Old Farm Park which was expected to be worth £20 million to Bexley Council when concreted over by BexleyCo so why is Burr Farm Field protected?

Hard to say because it never gets a mention by Bexley Council but maybe the fact that the Leader’s house backs on to it is a factor.
Burr Farm

Burr Farm (Belvedere Road, Bexleyheath) on Google Earth.

Old Farm

Old Farm (Sidcup) on Google Earth.

 

29 December (Part 2) - The Bonkers’ End of Year Soapbox

I donְְ’t think there have been any guest blogs on Bonkers since recording engineer Nicholas Downing disappeared from the Council scene. His first blog may be seen here. Requests to contribute to Bonkers are not infrequent but they tend to be advertisers and evangelists of various sorts so I welcomed the offer of a Highlights of the Year contribution from a reader as my right wing view of the world is probably not to everybody’s taste.

It is not the first time that an end of year Top Ten has appeared here but they do not age well so please forgive the lack of links.

Whilst the author prefers not to have his name attached I would guess that Twitter users may draw certain conclusions from both his themes and style. In his number one spot is Nicola Taylor’s Roofless House.


The Roofless House

Daily Mail coverage! @bexleynews and their voters’ favourite newspaper! Cllr Gower promising, but never delivering, a game-changing revelation. Cllr Taylor more than making up for her strike-time Facebook gaffe.

Bail-out

“Just being prudent” @bexleynews will say, but being one of only four (initially) councils to have gone this route, with the others having good excuses, raises questions. The external-assessment report, published by CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) in December, suggests some awkward comparisons between Bexley and next-door, also Tory Bromley. 60% of Finance jobs unfilled - ouch.

The Summer of Stink (Serco)

@bexleynews instinctively siding with Serco, who appear to have been in the wrong. (If wage disparities were removed, and back wages paid out). “No. 1 Recycling borough” no more.

Wild(man) partying

@bexleynews’ most active individual Twitter account gone overnight.

Candidate French refuses to rule out a second job

Boris’s charm deadly at close range - though fades with distance. Cllr Hackett’s residual reputation destroyed by making feeble excuses for French. (“He was talking about a second job *during* the campaign!”).

Closure of Children’s Services Centres

Cllr Gower reporting a similar strategy being applied by Croydon. (Important context: Croydon went bankrupt and probably would do *anything* to save money).

The Allowance Freeze and Volunteer Event

Cllr Hackett’s proposal declined, Labour’s proposal declined - then a turn-around. Spending the money (£37k!) on a … party, never offering the catering contract for tender, resisting FOI disclosure.

Fake Members of the Public

Revival of an old tradition.

Nixing of the road safety budget

Borough’s headmasters learning about this on a video call with Cllr Clark, who assumed they already knew. (The laid-off Road Safety staff member was supposed to tell them before she went). Note also the June 28 BiB post re: road safety, with a quote from Cllr Seymour.

Cllr Davey's Twitter account (Lifetime achievement award)

Juvenile, inflammatory comments about political opposition, inappropriate any year but especially after the cases of Jo Cox and David Amess. Today’s tweet is a lowlight.



Having given someone the opportunity to provide an alternative point of view it wouldn’t be fair to argue - well not much anyway. None of those named would appear on my own list, not even retiring Councillor Val Clark.

Maybe in a day or two…

 

29 December (Part 1) - Water torture

SplashIt’s probably not possible to go one better than yesterday’s Horrible History where bad management at Bexley Council led to death and cover-up. The closure of Belvedere’s Splash Park in 2015 may have been a contender but the story is horribly complicated and may be more outrageous deception than outright lie exemplified by rejection of the first expert opinion on its viability. It failed to make the case for closure firmly enough and another was commissioned with the scary word Cryptosporidium brought to the fore. The two reports (PDF) sit side by side here for the few who have nothing better to do.

The fact is that the Splash Park which opened on 13th August 2005 under the Labour administration had been designed to 2004 standards and by 2014 they were no longer really good enough. The Conservatives were determined to close the Splash Park whatever the counter-arguments might be. One of the first things they did when coming to office in 2006 and again in 2010 (Evening Standard) was to propose an entrance fee (News Shopper). It was Labour’s gift to the North of the borough and as such never likely to be a candidate for significant expenditure under the Conservatives but ripping it out and getting Cory Environmental to pay for a new and arguably better facility ticked all the Tory boxes.

The fact that maintenance had been done on the cheap was a major impediment to restoration and the 314 references to it on Bonkers with no Indexing facility ensures that the story must remain largely forgotten.

Providing an Index at this late stage is not a good use of time and Bexley Council’s dislike for the Indexing of major subjects to improve accessibility is not sufficient attraction. The Indexing of related blogs was reported to the police. Apparently providing reader assistance is harassment. There were 17 Indices at the time and 21 now.


Bridge wreckersWith the Splash Park ruled out for further attention the spotlight is redirected to something which concerns every Bexley resident sooner or later, frequently or rarely. The fact that there is no easy way to cross the Thames. For that inconvenience and impediment to economic expansion which hits every Bexley pocket there is little doubt that just one person is responsible, the Leader of Bexley Council for the past 13 years, Teresa O’Neill.

Fortunately the subject is Indexed.

The message was put out that London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s modest little bridge would draw lorries up Knee Hill and along Brampton Road which was the heart of Teresa O’Neill’s ward. The road became festooned with protest posters and the succeeding Mayor Boris Johnson who had proclaimed O’Neill his most admired politician in London and a frequent visitor to the borough (see below) was easily persuaded to cancel the crossing.

Lorry drivers are far too stupid to disperse along the dual carriageway A2106 and would always prefer a snarl up on Knee Hill and Bexley Council is far too stupid to put in a width restrictor. Ironically they have since got close to doing that as Harrow Manorway no longer carries two lanes of traffic in each direction but just one and with the speed limit reduced from 40 to 20 m.p.h.

Bexley Council spent taxpayers’ money on their politically inspired campaign and of course lied their socks off, among them deliberately confusing Ken Livingston’s little bridge with the monster that was abandoned in the middle 1990s following a public enquiry. A road would have burrowed under Plumstead. More than 25 years later South East London is as isolated and handicapped as it ever was.

While TfL’s own surveys showed that residents both north and south of the river, especially in Bexley, were heavily in favour of a bridge, Bexley Council was busy filling the pages of the News Shopper with their contrariness, all because the Leader’s seat must be protected at all costs.

Far too late Bexley Council’s stupidity was recognised and Mayor Johnson examined the possibility of two river crossings making landfall in or very close to Bexley. Unfortunately another far worse Mayor came along who is content to let Bexley rot.

And so another massive failure in Bexley can be laid at the door of the Leader and the Councillors who continue to vote for her following Council elections.

Maybe the newcomers will have more sense.
Boris in Bexley Boris in Bexley

From the News Shopper, 12th October 2012.

 

28 December (Part 2) - Horrible Histories. Death by a thousand cuts

Maybe I am wrong and Bexley Council is improving some things. As far as i know it is quite a long time since they were directly involved in the death of a resident.

In 2014 I was invited to meet a former Bexley Council employee who wanted to tell me - and did - how the Council Leader and the Press Office were running around like headless chickens in an attempt to cover up the unfortunate death of a lady who was left to die alone as a direct result of a stupid Council decision.

My informant had proved to be a loose cannon in the cover-up operation and been handsomely paid off after being made to sign a non-disclosure agreement. I advised her to pay off her mortgage and stick to her agreement. Easy for me to do because another loose cannon had been sacked in the aftermath of the same incident and owed Bexley Council no such loyalties.

Until about 2014 when the service was privatised Bexley Council ran its own emergency Link Line service. Vulnerable people pay a lot of money to wear a pendant which detects falls or button presses and alerts a Central Control Service. To cut a long story short Bexley Council decided that it could be run by just one person in the control room by both night and day. By day that was not a big deal because there would always be someone else around to cover breaks but not so at night.

The staff concerned made their objections known but their safety concerns were over-ruled. One of the men on the rota liked a drink and came into work after several too many. The inevitable happened.

While he was sleeping it off the emergency line was unanswered and a lady died alone.

The incident was successfully covered up for a year, by the police too, before a technician who was sacked was unable to live with his secret any more. When he walked out of the Council Offices for the last time he took with him the computer log which proved what had happened.

This was one of the most horrific things ever reported on Bonkers and a read of the entire saga should easily convince everyone that Bexley Council was run by totally incompetent people interested in only their own self-preservation without any semblance of a moral compass.

Bexley Council is probably better than that now but the principal cover-up merchant is still in charge.

Daily Mail’s quick summary of the case.

 

28 December (Part 1) - Politics, it is a funny old business

Politics here is a bit, well, err, bonkers isn’t it? Here I am having never voted anything but Conservative in General Elections since 1964, sometimes through gritted teeth, but spending far too much time looking for the bad things that Tories do. Locally it is the Conservatives who have been in charge for nearly 16 years so no one else has been in a position to make serious mistakes. Mistakes which have stolen so much from the quality of life in the borough. Except where they made things really really bad and pulled things back a bit (Children’s Services) nothing very obvious has been improved in Tory Bexley. I have asked several times for evidence of any highways development that proved to be totally satisfactory and welcomed by all. The response suggests that there have been none beyond a Zebra crossing or two.

Nationally the Conservatives are not in charge, we have a Coalition headed by a spineless Liberal in a blond wig supported by Labour and unless a Conservative leader emerges my life long voting record will come to an end quite soon. What a Carrie on!

Well that’s the intro, what’s the point?

I have come to the conclusion that my view of Conservative politics is not far removed from some Bexley Councillors because the choice of who I can contact to confirm or otherwise any gossip that comes my way slowly increases. Three different sources confirmed the list of nine Conservatives who will call it a day come next May. Inside info never comes from Labour Councillors, not since Danny Hackett went Independent anyway. It was a Conservative Councillor who dropped it into the conversation that Joe Ferreira (Labour, Erith) and Brenda Langstead (Labour, Slade Green) would not be seeking re-election.

Goodness knows
who will take their place. The current Labour Group mainly occupies the middle of the left leaning road but some of their leading supporters are far from level-headed. One has said via a solicitor’s letter that she will report me to the police for harassment if I ever mention her name here, which was funny because until I received the threatening letter I didn’t know her name. (I thought I did but my Labour informant got it wrong!)

When the election comes I may have the boys in blue banging on my door again. Actually I doubt it. The days when the Council Leader could trot down to Arnsberg Way and collude with a compliant copper or seek the retrospective falsification of CAD records seem to have gone. Remote Basic Command Units were not all bad after all.

 

27 December - What did Bexley Conservatives ever do for you?

Good News Week did not go especially well, maybe Old News will fare better.

In 2014 Bexley Council was at the peak of its thoroughly dishonest period. Lying to newspapers, lying to the police and lying to the BBC. Councillor Craske had been arrested after the police had been persuaded to track and trace the perpetrator of a crime, but then conspired with Bexley Council to get him off the hook. Three Bexley residents decided that he should be taught a lesson and contested his Blackfen and Lamorbey seat in May 2014.

The three were Michael Barnbrook, Elwyn Bryant and Nicholas Dowling. Nicholas had achieved a certain amount of notoriety by attempting to audio record a Council meeting. I say attempting because his ancient recorder didn’t actually work and subsequently admitting that was the case proved to be a big mistake because it meant that Bexley Council could lie with impunity.

They said that I had run around the Council Chamber shouting and waving papers and submitted a report to that effect to the News Shopper. Fortunately two police officers said otherwise as did several Councillors both red and blue but retelling that story is not for today.

Mick Barnbrook was an accomplished political campaigners and knocked on every single door in Blackfen. Unfortunately for him it was the the year of the big UKIP surge and their candidate took enough votes to displace Mick. Enough to displace a Conservative candidate too but not Craske.


Results Results
Bexley Council was so embarrassed about it that they omitted Mick from the results summary and even when the correction came it was still wrong.

However what is more historically interesting is the third flyer put out by Mick and his team before the election period got really underway.

Taking the proverbial Michael out of one of the Conservatives’ own slogans Mick and his team poked a leaflet through every Blackfen letterbox listing all the Council services lost between 2006 and 2014.

Shocking isn’t it especially when Band D Council Tax had risen from £1,315·61 to £1,427·59? Probably a similar catalogue of shame should be produced for the intervening eight years. Record

Mick’s message.

Tory slogan

Conservative pre-election slogan 2014.

 

24 December (Part 3) - Wrapping up

95a Woolwich Road
It’s fewer than three months since Bexley Council refused to allow Mr. Singh to extend his property in Woolwich Road. It was “unsympathetic” but he is back already. A new plan was submitted last week. 21/03431/FUL

Free money
TweetWithin an hour of news appearing here of the Department for Work and Pensions giving Bexley Council £1·5 million to hand out to its vulnerable residents the local Tory propaganda channel was shamelessly implying it was down to their own generosity.

#thecaringborough. I think not see below also…


Be careful. No free Christmas parking
In earlier years Bexley Council sometimes made a gesture towards Christmas by providing a a day of free car parking to help the shops although there was a tendency not to advertise it well and allow the machines to continue to take money. This year parking is free on Christmas Day when the traffic wardens demand a day off and no one will want to visit shopping centres. It is not even any use to your visitors for parking outside your house as it’s a Saturday when residents’ parking is generally free anyway.

On every other day normal rules apply. #thecaringborough

Happy Christmas
I have wondered how to acknowledge and thank the Councillors who have maintained friendly relations during the past year but one can never be sure if they would wish to be publicly thanked such are the rivalries that exist in political circles. For going beyond the needs of the strictly necessary I should be thanking 55% of Labour Councillors, 100% of the two Independent Councillors and 20% of the Conservatives, a number I expect to increase following the May election.

There is also the small handful of internal whistleblowers. Thanks to everyone and may your Christmases be free of the Greek alphabet.

 

24 December (Part 2) - Every blooming time

Bins BinsWhen Chris Howard, Managing Director of CountryStyle gave his impressive presentation to Councillors in September the theme could be said to be Pride in A Job Well Done. A sentiment not shared by all his staff.

Every time the waste paper bin behind the nearby flats is emptied it is left carelessly either in the wrong place or as it was last time, facing the wall and inaccessible. It was much the same again at 9 a.m. this morning. How long does it take to wheel the bin an extra four feet?

If CountryStyle wants to achieve a reputation for good service in Bexley it could do worse than dispensing with the services of the driver who services Coptefield Drive.

 

24 December (Part 1) - Free money

It should be good news for some of Bexley’s poorer citizens even if the reason for it is a national disaster that benefits no one apart from pharmaceutical companies, close friends of Ministers and GPs on £15 a shot while otherwise skiving off work.

The Government has offered Bexley £1,542 million to support vulnerable households and all that is needed is for Bexley’s Cabinet to accept it and spend the money by the end of this financial year.

The Council has discretion over how it should be spent but half must go to families with children. The proposal is that £696,000 will go to extending the free school holiday meals scheme, 718,000 to the 14,267 households currently benefitting from the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (about £26 per person extra) and the remainder to voluntary organisations such as food banks. Well not quite all, the Council will keep £28,000 of it for itself to cover postage and similar administration costs.
Free money

 

23 December (Part 2) - Fairly good news - exaggerated just a little

LieIt is Good News that Saint Peter Craske is able to claim that Bexley was the top scoring borough for recycling in 2021, a year in which refuse collection almost stopped for ten weeks.

Strange that awards are made in the middle of December, not the end of the calendar year and a long way from the end of of the last Civic year. It wouldn’t be a recycling of old recycling news would it? Probably; this sort of propaganda usually comes out in the Spring.

It is also Good News for Saint Peter that the borough’s residents have short memories and are too often gullible. Good News that the Leader forgave him for his blogging activities too.

In 2010 Bexley was third best recycler in London and in 2012 Bromley beat Bexley’s recycling rate by 1%.

Best in London for the past nine years sounds pretty good. Why lie?

 

23 December (Part 1) - It may be good news

In retrospect the attempt to find positive Bexley news in the lead up to Christmas was always doomed to failure while Teresa O’Neill continues to run the borough and her friend Boris Johnson supposedly runs the country. Maybe a re-run of Bexley’s auditor looking for a contract extension will be better than nothing.

Auditor : It’s a Good News story overall.

It wasn’t good news for staff made redundant but never mind that; important things first, the Leader was able to claim that the borough scraped by without actually using the begging bowl she was given.

For how much longer will she cling to power? Earlier in the year party goer Adam Wildman was in favour with the award of a Committee Chairmanship (Pensions) and a Vice-Chair (Resources and Growth). Why? Councillor Wildman (Blendon & Penhill) never contributed a thing to Council meetings and one can only surmise his loyalty to the Leader was a factor. And now he has been deselected.

So that’s one vote down for the Leader. Any more?

We know that Alan Downing (St. Mary’s & St. James) is standing down because he said so and Louie French turned out to be a good guy and a man of his word and as MP will definitely be gone. He was never a Leader’s Lackey so from a Leadership election point of view Louie’s absence may not be helpful.

With Felix Di Netinah lurking in Crayford it is not difficult to deduce that we will see the last of Christine Bishop, another Councillor who never got a mention on Bonkers and according to sources deselected for achieving nothing. Sybil Camsey (Crook Log) is calling it a day too.

Alex Sawyer (St. Mary’s & St. James) is sure to go, his ambitions rise well above being sacked from the Cabinet. Linda Bailey has never been the same since losing her Cabinet position and will be casting envious eyes towards the exit door.

The Bexleyheath ward appears to be just as unhappy as St. Mary’s with two Councillors likely to go. Cabinet Member Brad Smith and former Cabinet Member and Mayor Eileen Pallen. Sue Gower will, voters permitting, return to the fray.

Several sources say that former Mayor Val Clark (Falconwood & Welling) has had enough too.

If you have been keeping count that is nine Conservative Councillors being replaced and there may be more. Except for Alex Sawyer they have one thing in common. Every one of them pretends I do not exist - hostile glares notwithstanding. It is a simplistic measure of their worth and in Louie’s case it let me down but it leaves me a little optimistic for the future. Can the newcomers unseat 16 years of poor Leadership? For year counting pedants O’Neill’s predecessor narrowly escaped a spell inside.

 

22 December (Part 2) - A dangerous Christmas present

Accidents waiting to happenI was nearly knocked down by an e-scooter which whizzed silently past me yesterday while I was emerging from the station steps on to Gayton Road, Abbey Wood. Actually it wasn’t all that close, most of us will have experienced worse, but a miss by couple of feet in the dark by an unexpected illegal vehicle travelling at speed can be a little unnerving.

Nearly all e-scooters you see on the roads and footpaths are illegal but the one that passed me by in Gayton Road did at least have a rear light, although unlike the accident prone rider pictured there was no helmet.

I imagine that thousands more of the things will be unwrapped on Christmas Day and thousands of untrained riders will be putting their lives on the line soon afterwards.

Not very Christmassy but one of my conversations last weekend was about e-scooters. “How many deaths have been caused by e-scooters” l asked the man who is paid to know such things. Apparently there is no easy answer because e-scooters were not a recognised vehicle type until this year so no historical statistics exist. Setting up a software search of last year’s police accident records showed nearly 500 references which were reported on the Government website (below left). 60% of them were in London.

Government statistics TfL statistics

I know of two fatal e-scooter crashes since last March, not intimately but because they managed to displace Covid from the news headlines. According to an Evening Standard report (above right) there have been at least three deaths.

Thanks to my questioning I have a pretty good idea of what the current 2021/22 total is, not that I can spill the beans of course, definitely not my place to do that but the numbers are shocking and presumably many of them will be young people in the prime of life.

Apparently the lessons learned by cyclists over many years are not being heeded by scooter riders. Among many statistics is that most cyclists amble along at a leisurely pace but nearly all e-scooters are driven flat out. Amazon sells models that will do 40 m.p.h. and more.

If this year’s total e-scooter fatalities were Omicron deaths Chris Whitty would be hysterical. Giving e-scooters to children as Christmas presents should be recorded as child-abuse.

 

22 December (Part 1) - The local good news and the national not good at all

Mayor's TweetThe best Bexley news I can find for today is that an enquiry revealed Mayor James Hunt to be not too badly affected by the dreaded bug but unfortunately his wife is not faring quite so well.

Get well soon both of you and with luck in time for Christmas which unlike last year the law in England permits you to celebrate in the traditional way. For Lo and Behold the Angel of the Lord came down and implanted an embryo back bone into the rather haggard looking frame of an otherwise rudderless Prime Minister.

He has defied the unelected Chris Whitty who would have us all locked up because Omicron has been associated with fourteen deaths. Whitty’s uncontrolled mouth has caused the cautionary voluntary lock down currently wrecking the hospitality industry and provoking the Chancellor into another one billion pound hand out of taxpayers’ cash.

Last weekend I was wondering what gives a Scientific Adviser the right to rule the country when I realised I was sitting opposite one, albeit much lower down the food chain.

I asked if he operated by any set of rules when asked to advise on scientific or engineering matters and found he most certainly was. Whether it be the UK Government, the European Union or individual countries further afield (he is currently working for all three) all issue copious guidelines and all say essentially the same thing. It is basically don’t be a Whitty.

It appears to me that the silliest thing Whitty did was to allow himself to stand alongside the PM and be used by him such that eventually the tail wagged the dog and nobody believed anyone any more.

When you get on a bus, avoid getting squished by a lorry turning left or get your car MoT’d you don’t need to know the range of safety related options the adviser presented to Government or his name. All you need to know is which course the Government decided should become law.

 

21 December (Part 2) - Doubting Thomas

You need to be a glass half full sort of person to see this as an unmitigated good news story but someone far more sceptical than me submitted an FOI on Councillor French’s claim to have given up his Councillor’s allowance now that he is MP for Old Bexley & Sidcup.

The only thing I had against Louie French is that I knew nothing about him and he was prepared to support Boris Johnson’s incompetent unConservative government - and then he didn’t - but no way was he a liar who followed the great tradition of Bexley’s Cabinet.

Of course he has given up his ten grand a year.
No allowances

In May Bexley is going to lose a Councillor with principles who fell out with the Council Leader. That is most definitely not good news. All the best Councillors have fallen out with the Leader and the likely newcomers in May 2022 will take time to establish themselves. One has proved himself in Council on a previous occasion so the omens are far from good.

Bexley’s future will be in the hands of Felix, Frazer and Patrick and presumably others yet to be revealed. Assuming of course that an anti-Boris tidal wave doesn’t sweep them all away.

 

21 December (Part 1) - Bah Humbug!

Stretching out Good News Week until Friday won’t be easy and today’s effort may already be scraping the barrel. Wilton Road, Abbey Wood

Wilton Road, Abbey Wood. 11th December 2019.

Wilton Road, Abbey Wood

Wilton Road, Abbey Wood. 20th December 2021.

As may be seen above, Greenwich Council dragged out the same old Wilton Road lights as always but imaginatively swung them through 180 degrees. Bexley did nothing.

It is perhaps good news but the lack of lights on the Bexley side of the road is not proof that the Council is filled with Scrooge-like figures - although it may be - because the reason is administrative cockup. The Council has offered to erect Christmas lights by tomorrow but the consensus is that it might be better to spend the money on something else - but what?

 

20 December - It’s Good News Week

Cinderella posterIt may have been announced a little late in the day but Councillor Nicola Taylor’s idea to add pantomime tickets to a few lucky food bank clients has shown that the streets of London can occasionally be paved with gold.

Despite the limited advertising there was enough money donated to provide 18 families with free tickets and vouchers for sweets and ice-cream. I only recognised one name on the donor list, a Conservative Councillor.

Maybe, especially if the giving process is simplified, it will be an even bigger success next year, assuming of course that lock downs for bad colds are not the norm by then and the entire population is queued at a food bank.

 

19 December - Weekend waste worker

Christmas puddingSafely returned through one hundred miles of fog, my main Christmas celebration is over. More than a year ago my son booked a Christmas skiing holiday and I clearly remember him saying “Covid will be all over by then”. Unfortunately the intended destination was in France so the crackers were pulled unnecessarily early.

However Bonkers business did not entirely take a rest and nor did at least one conscientious member of Bexley Council’s staff. A succession of helpful messages resolved the non-collection of bins in my road with a promise to investigate exactly how the missed bin reporting service failed to work.

The bouncing email was traced to a wrongly transcribed address.

All a bit strange when you consider that staff were banned from Bonkers ten years ago and one Councillor, albeit one known to be a liar, claimed in a legal document that not reading Bonkers was part of a new Councillor’s induction course.

Mobile phone access to the internet presumably renders the server block more stupid than it was in 2011.  

 

17 December (Part 2) - CountryShambles

Bin collections. Rarely a problem in my road with Serco, never at all for me, but what a shower CountryStyle have proved to be as both Twitter and Facebook occasionally reveal.

No brown bins were collected locally last Friday which doesn’t bother me very much because there is no gardening to be done but a neighbour has been tackling an overgrown hedge. His neighbour to the rear is the most obnoxious individual imaginable who has a 25 foot Leylandii hedge six inches from the boundary line. For my neighbour every bit of bin capacity is essential. When I helped him with the trimming a few months ago we both came under threat.
Tweet Uncollected bins

A third brown bin is hidden behind the more distant green one.

Unfortunately my neighbour has not got the Mayor and Blackfen Councillor on side and the Council website missed bin facility has had no effect. A phone call to the Council Contact Centre - two I believe - have been directed to the child care department and whilst the lady there tries to be helpful the two email addresses provided have bounced. It was suggested that is because the staff concerned have been made redundant.

On the sixth day of non-collection I passed my neighbour the email address of the Head of Waste Services but his message bounced back with an Out of Office notice. The alternative addresses led nowhere so I told him where on this website the email address of CountryStyle’s Managing Director may be found.

We wait and see. The next scheduled brown bin collection is on Christmas Eve and two weeks later is the mid-Winter gap in the service and the Leylandii needs a severe chopping.

My own brown bin subscription expired at the end of November but it was extended by ten weeks in recognition of the five lost collections during the strike. Not so good, because of the Winter break in service, I am compensated by only four collections in a period when I don’t really need the service at all. Thanks to last week’s non-collection five strike misses have now become six. I am going to cancel the Direct Debit and buy an incinerator.

The neighbour’s white lidded bin has been missed several times which appears to be a separate issue. The rest of the road’s bins have been collected OK.

 

17 December (Part 1) - In the words of Margaret Thatcher, Rejoice!

In 57 years of voting and observing the political scene I have always felt disappointed at Conservative election losses and my disdain for the Liberal Democrats has known no bounds. This morning I woke up to news that has brought a big smile to my face. Every true Conservative ought to feel the same as it brings hope that the days of the illiberal tyrants in Downing Street are numbered.

The Lib Dems lived up to their name at the beginning of the week. At least ten of them voted against Covid Passports the threat of which has caused me to cancel my membership of Surrey Cricket Club. Triple vaccinated or not ‘papers please’ must be resisted at all costs.
Rejoyce

Hoo-bloody-ray!

 

16 December (Part 2) - Stooge out. Proper Tory in

WildmanAs Bexley Conservatives said yesterday, Councillor Adam Wildman decided not to stand in the forthcoming local election. The truth is more likely that he was not selected by his ward association for that is exactly what one of their number has said…


Wildman was deselected by his ward months ago because he did little in his ward. Plus he was regarded as a Fat Controller stooge. Not a good move in Old Bexley and Sidcup. Nothing to do with the picture.

The replacement is a proper Conservative.

Fat Controller has lost another supporter.

The end is nigh.


One can but hope. Councillor Wildman contributed nothing of note at public meetings and one can surmise that was repeated in his ward. No surgeries were timetabled on his web page.

P.S. The above message provoked an immediate response from a known insider that the comment by a supposed insider is wrong. Obviously the fat reference is long since outdated but we will all have to wait and see about the ‘proper Conservative’ bit. The differences are another indication of dissent in the ranks.

 

16 December (Part 1) - BexleyCo - lapse

This website should have come to my attention long ago as the bexleycohomes domain name was registered in 2019 but if you want to live in what was once a nice public park this is the place to go.

I hesitate to suggest that the BexleyCo website is badly built, it is unlikely that every part of Bonkers works perfectly but probably nothing like as obvious as a failed map and Contact Us page.

For anyone interested in Bexley and its politics the site is worth a quick browse.
BexleyCo

Click image for BexleyCo website.

 

15 December (Part 2) - Piling on the prohibited party pressure

Councillor Adam Wildman first burst on to the Bexley Council scene in April 2018 by participating in the ritual of polishing Cabinet egos with sycophantic questions. Following that a mystery developed about whether he really lived in Bexley, the address given on his Register of Interests didn’t exist. Whether that was an input error or something else was never resolved.

Councillor Wildman’s only contribution to Council business took place three months after the 2018 election when he put his name to a Motion and cemented his burgeoning reputation as a supreme exponent of the ego polisher’s art…


“This Council welcomes the trust Bexley residents placed in them in electing a Conservative administration for the fourth consecutive term in May 2018.”
“This Council further welcomes the administration’s investment in local services, welcomes the focus on improving outcomes; and welcomes the administration’s plans to establish ‘The Bexley Deal’ to reinforce and enhance partnership working between the Council, residents, businesses, charities and local communities in the borough.”
“All Members of the Council commit to working to deliver ‘The Bexley Deal’ and a borough we can continue to be proud of.”


What was the point of that? How did Bexley residents benefit from it?

Despite contributing nothing more over the following three years other than a single criticism of the BCU based reorganisation of the police, Councillor Wildman was given Vice-Chairmanship of the vitally important Resources and Growth Scrutiny Committee replacing the more obviously capable Andy Dourmoush and Steven Hall. The Leader dishes out favours in mysterious ways.

And today it is not only Wildman's Twitter account that has gone, Bexley Conservatives’ rarely used blog confirms it.
Tory statement

Click image for source web page.

The Conservative statement very obviously leaves a lot of unanswered questions and Labour Leader Stefano Borella has lost no time jumping into that gap and putting them to the Council Leader Teresa O’Neill…
Labour questions

Click image for complete letter.

 

15 December (Part 1) - Waste deterioration by stealth

On the day that Bexley Council collected the white lidded bins in my road three working days late - but not the brown which are charged at more than £1 a go, letterboxes have received the annual recycling guide. Last year it was a poor effort but for 2022 it has reverted to the comprehensive document that has been the norm since at least 2009. All the old copies are accessible from the Services menu above.

As one has come to expect from Bexley Council the quality of service continues to decline. The obvious change is the brown bin price hike from £38 to £55 and rather more subtle, the requirement to put your bins out by 06:00 instead of 06:30.
£38 £38

6:30 am
6:00 am

 

14 December (Part 2) - It’s just wild out there tonight, man. From Zero to Hero

Adam WildmanThis evening was not a good one to be at a Quiz with everyone’s phone switched off which explains why I am late to the illegal Christmas party. It is not just a national scandal, there’s a very definite local angle.

The face peering over Shaun Bailey’s right shoulder is Bexley Councillor Adam Wildman. Presumably he got his invitation through his close links with Shaun Bailey. In July 2018 Councillor Wildman claimed to be “Deputy Chief of Staff at the GLA”.  Beyond that he heads up a management company, Wellington Strategy, which has an address in Ongar which is Shaunְ’s neck of the woods.

Shaun Bailey has resigned his chairmanship of the GLA’s Police and Crime Committee. Can anyone explain why photos are taken of illegal events? Is it because Cressida Dick is not very good at finding evidence?

What will Adam Wildman do? Presumably Bexley Conservatives will be looking for yet another candidate for next May. Who will that be? Chris Taylor or his mother Mandy?

Adam Wildman has passed his four years as a Bexley Councillor almost unmentioned here which may be a measure of his worth. He was nevertheless given a Committee job by the Leader.

Louie French Adam Wildman
Someone who will not be deleting his Twitter account is newly elected MP Louie French who confounded his critics by voting against the Government today. A brave man.

He stood up to the rule of tyranny in Bexley’s Cabinet and he follows through in Westminster.

He won’t be popular with the Conservative whips but at least Old Bexley knows he is a man of his word after all.

Now where did I hide away that Humble Pie?

 

14 December (Part 1) - Bedtime reading

My complaint that the Bexley Magazine is no longer available as a PDF download has been partially answered. I have been referred to a website that displays the last 19 issues - after a fashion.

It allows the pages to be browsed if your screen is big enough to display them at a reasonable size but there is no PDF Download facility. The webpage says that the restriction is imposed by Bexley Council.

On balance I think the 49 issues stacked under my bed is a better resource. Presumably a Freedom of Information request is an alternative for those who have more interesting uses for their bed.

Another reader’s comment about the same 11th December blog gave me a bit of a ticking off for ever feeling even very slightly sorry for Council Leader Teresa O’Neill. It was not too complimentary about the Erith and Thamesmead MP either. “Things were looking up when T. Pearce was in post. Itְ’s been a downward spiral ever since Abena Who ?

 

13 December - Career or democracy. Is there a choice?

Louie FrenchThe thing I have never liked about the Government’s response to Covid is not that they flounder around looking for something - any bloody thing - to try next but the fact that they chose to do what never stands up to logical analysis. That and not learning from past mistakes.

Just recently the Scottish Government issued a 53 page report that said that Vaccine Passports had no measurable effect so Buffoon Johnson thinks he should wreck the hospitality industry by adopting that as his next failed policy.

Possibly my own recent experience is not untypical. 900 plus people crammed into a sports stadium last Saturday afternoon for more than two hours - no masks. Today a visit to the Chiropractor - no mask again.

Tomorrow unless Bozo has another brain fart the annual Christmas Dinner with neighbours - no mask, and in the evening a few hours in the pub for the weekly quiz - same again.

But yesterday five minutes in Sainsbury’s and it was masks all round and a little later the church Carol Service saw 45 people spread out over 300 seats and masks were compulsory, for singing too; until that is the mulled wine and mince pies made an appearance. It was then just fine for 45 people to squeeze into the small kitchen area with barely a mask to be seen.

It is no wonder that the hapless Louie French MP was bombarded with literally dozens of enquiries about his attitude to the creeping totalitarian state after he Tweeted about his ‘achievements’ during his first week in Parliament.

Disappointing that Louie French has not reacted to those enquiries. The promise to support local businesses may have lasted exactly two weeks.

Abena Oppong-Asare MP (Erith & Thamesmead) also indulged in bragging on Twitter after her election two years ago until she forgot to vote on the EU Withdrawal Bill which brought that idea to a premature conclusion.

It might be a good tactic for Louie to adopt so that he can face both ways after tomorrow.

It must be difficult to carve an independent path in Parliament if the priority is career over constituents but Bexley’s third Councillor in Westminster, Gareth Bacon, appears to be unafraid to make his disquiet known by allowing his name to be included in a rebel grouping. Gareth Bacon has previously shown the qualities of a good MP while of doing battle with the idiotic London Mayor.

Tweets WhatsApp Group

What Louie’s voters ask. What Gareth Bacon is doing.

Note: To my knowledge two churches were insisting on masks for singing although the Church of England guidance suggested that it was not law. But is is for going inside.

 

12 December (Part 2) - Anna Firth. MP?

The Old Bexley & Sidcup by-election demonstrated that the candidate’s name is subjected to a lot of web searches some of which end up on Bonkers. With the selection of Anna Firth for the forthcoming Southend West by-election it is possible something similar will happen. It seemed to be a good idea to generate a menu of Anna’s mentions here. Having seen more than 100 entries thrown up I became less sure that it was a good idea but it is done now. Probably it will be weeded out to remove anything a bit too trivial.

Anna arrived on the Erith and Thamesmead scene at the time of almost peak dishonesty at Bexley Council with various scandals unresolved and she had no alternative but to associate with a selection of less than savoury characters. She seemed a little too good to be true and as a result initially suffered a negative press both here and elsewhere. An unknown Tory did not deserve the benefit of any doubt.
Anna Firth
As time went on minds were changed, mine included and there is no doubt Anna ran a very good campaign here in 2015. It being an almost unwinnable seat at the time she was probably given very little support by CCHQ. Instead of 100 visiting MPs she may have had two, David Evennett and James Brokenshire.

HustingsUnlike any other defeated candidate she stuck around after the election while nobody ever heard of her predecessor and 2017 and 2019 successors ever again. She did her level best to secure the future of the Belvedere Splash Park and in 2016 took a prominent role in the pro-Brexit campaign. For her willingness to stand by her principles she was kicked off the list of approved Parliamentary candidates by the cowardly David Cameron.

In 2019, with David Cameron consigned to the lobbying scrapheap, prospective MP Anna was up against the student vote in Canterbury. The cathedral city missed out on having her many talents on call.

Southend West has the opportunity to grab her while they can and they should.

Note: The bulk of the Anna Firth activity in and around Bexley took place between 2015 and 2017, a period of Bonkersְ’ history that has been off line for a couple of years pending an update to ensure the old pages are mobile friendly and image quality is as good as can be managed. As such the quickly restored Anna pages will display but maybe not as well as they should and backward links are probably unreliable.

 

12 December (Part 1) - The borough divide

Wilton Road in Abbey Wood is the only, albeit minor, shopping centre which spans both Bexley and Greenwich boroughs. A month ago both Councils offered, through the Traders’ Association, to put up Christmas decorations to a maximum expenditure of £900. The Association chose the simple option of a few lights and for the past week the Greenwich side of the road has been adorned by three clusters. Nothing spectacular but no doubt the labour costs are high and it is only a little road.

Nothing at all on the Bexley side so I waited a week in case it was just a minor hiccup. Still nothing as I passed by in the rain last night so immediately below is the not very good phone photo. Beneath it is a reminder of what 2019 looked like. In 2020 there were no lights, Covid related obviously. Everything stops for Covid.
Wilton Road

Wilton Road, Abbey Wood.11th December 2021. No lights on Bexley side.

Wilton Road

Wilton Road, Abbey Wood. 11th December 2019. A full set of lights.

 

11 December - Go to work to party; work from the pub

Bexley MagazineIt used to be the case that a search for ‘Bexley Magazine’ would provide a link to the current issue and an archive of old issues which was useful when the real thing failed to drop through your letterbox.

Then a few years ago the archive disappeared and now the current issue is unavailable as a PDF too.

Someone must have realised that the earliest issues were a catalogue of Bexley Council’s lies and incompetence and should be removed from view. The quarterly dissection of the latest issue was a game (the link being one example of dozens) that came to an end when someone realised that using the Magazine as a propaganda sheet was counter-productive.

Some issues are bland and quickly filed away but the current one is better and probably interesting to many residents - if they ever get to see a copy.

I felt just a little bit sorry for the Leader with her pre-Christmas message. Even she was caught out by the Prime Minister’s doom laden party-diversionary tactic this week. Last year he wrecked my Christmas plans and knowing exactly what his promises are worth my family decided in September that we would gather for our Christmas celebrations next Saturday. Whether that is sufficient to side-step his illogical intentions is yet to be seen.

With luck the coming week will see Boris Johnson’s premiership in a death spiral and not my Christmas plans.

I am fortunate to be able to write this short piece. I was walking home yesterday afternoon and noticed a fellow with a delivery bag slung over his shoulder in front of me. He missed the last house in the road before mine and Numbers 1 and 2 when he turned the corner into my road.

He hesitated outside Number 3 (the house numbers run sequentially and not the usual odds one side, evens the other) and as I passed him by noticed that he had several copies of the Bexley Magazine in his hand.

I decided to save him a walk by asking for my copy which he was pleased to give me. Whether he actually delivered to Number 3 I do not know but I saw him go to Number 4.

From there he crossed the road to Numbers 6 to 9 which are flats with a single door without a letterbox. He did not go inside.

Magazine distribution used to be done by off duty Council staff and the recently retired - I knew one of them - and my deliveries were reliable but in 2016 the Council sacked them all and the job was contracted out to London Letterbox Marketing. Following that I several times had to beg a copy from neighbours and friendly Councillors.

On one occasion I saw a delivery exactly like yesterday’s. Another bad decision from Bexley’s Conservative Council.

P.S. It wasn’t just a white bin missed yesterday, no brown bins collected either. (Mine was empty and not put out; hence only just found out.)

 

10 December (Part 2) - Thanks to Bexley Council…

There is a small number of old reports that probably need bringing to a proper conclusion although this one has only come to the end of Phase 1. However it is a good news story and Bexley Council comes out if it well so it must be mentioned or they will think I am biased.

It is about the problem a friend had with Jubilee School and a head teacher who said she did not have to answer his questions about why his autistic son was not being educated and left to languish in some sort of dungeon all day. There was eventually a response to the Subject Access Request which I have read end to end and Councillor Mabel Ogundayo (Labour, East Thamesmead) nudged Bexley’s education department into holding a Zoom meeting with all parties.

My friend was very pleased with their interest in the case and according to him the Council asked all the right questions, among them why he and his wife are not allowed to look at ‘the dungeon’.

Thanks to the Council Officers the school is taking a less aggressive line but my friend is not one to easily shrug off an attempt to abuse power. He reminded the Trust that his formal complaint is still outstanding. After an unnecessarily long delay they have accepted that is the case.

I have seen their first response and I agree with my friend. The conditions attached are totally unacceptable.

 

10 December (Part 1) - Bring back Gallions. Bring back Serco

To think that draining down a 35 year old central heating system might be an easy experiment to see if it might stop the loud banging noises was probably naive. The plumbers who work on new houses need a job from which they can disappear afterwards without fear of being chased my irate customers.

When I bought this house I had to refit the hot water tank and later strip the kitchen plumbing back to the stop cock and rebuild it from scratch. Yesterday the fact that the ball valve and the cold water tank tap were both corroded solid was not all that unexpected but having to move the tanks to get access to the plumbing nuts I could have done without.

So far things seem to be improved.

While hidden away in the loft two Councillors emailed comment about my leaning tree. No part of it stands up straight so I can only guess that it has grown too heavy for the ground to support its weight.

Councillor Dave Putson (Independent, Belvedere) tracked down the email address of a useful Peabody contact and a few hours later Sally Hinkley (Labour) offered to do the same thing. Thanks both. Along the way it was revealed that a Bexley tree that looked to be OK fell earlier this year and caused some very expensive damage.

Maybe a helpful Councillor knows where to complain about missed bin collections. I had nothing to put out this morning but I watched next door’s white bin being collected and I saw the truck stop two doors further along but they missed the one in between.

Probably that is not very remarkable except that it happens almost every time. My neighbour usually reports it but is a little frustrated that the web page has no facility for adding comments.

Based on the experience in one short cul-de-sac with only five houses and only four regular white bin users CountryStyle is definitely no better than Serco.

Note: Gallions was Peabody’s predecessor that I always found very responsive.

 

8 December - Peabody Housing Association - Utterly useless

Dangerous treeThe Peabody Housing Association is absolutely bloody useless isn’t it? But I suppose you know that if you are one of their residents.

During the recent not very severe winds a tree within falling distance of my house assumed a bit of a list. I thought that the land owner, Peabody, would want to inspect it to see if it was safe and perhaps avoid landing themselves with a large repair bill.

I called them on their 0300 number in Joyce Dawson Way. There was no button to press unless you are a resident but I hung on anyway. They answered within two or three minutes which isn’t bad when Covid is the usual lame excuse for poor service. But that is where the poor service began.

I asked if they had an Arborilogical Officer. I was ignored, maybe the tongue twisting word was a bit too much for them. After going around a circle of ignorance once or twice I was asked what the tree’s Post Code was.

I could only give my own. That was no good as it didn’t come up as Peabody property on their computer.

Well no, I suppose it wouldn’t. Not very helpful are they?

If the tree does fall maybe a big repair bill will wake them from their slumbers. It would be a pity to lose the tree, it is very popular with crows and woodpeckers.

 

7 December - More Post Office news

Two pieces of Post Office news from Councillors. In Abbey Wood they announce the opening of their new Post Office. At 11:15 this morning it was very definitely closed. My Christmas cards will be later than usual this year.
Abbey Wood Post Office Abbey Wood Post Office
Erith’s Labour Councillor Joe Ferreira is sure to be a more reliable source of information. He has pointed me to the Agenda of last month’s Cabinet Committee meeting. It is self-explanatory. The plan is for 60 new homes on the Erith Post Office site with no guarantee that any will be ‘affordable’. They will however “enhance the natural environment”.
Agenda
Agenda

 

6 December (Part 2) - Erith enigma

My memory for old Bonkers’ blogs is not too bad, hence the innumerable historical links, but apparently I am a little useless at remembering those from other local websites.

Listed buildingsFollowing the report that Bexley Council still owns Erith Post Office despite what the Land Registry reported, a reader messaged to say that Murky Depths covered the Erith Post Office situation in December 2020.

True, but it only makes a vague reference to the Council’s intention to buy unspecified property in the centre of Erith. Property we now know to be WDS Signs next door to the Post Office.

Murky’s usually comprehensive coverage of planning matters does not appear to have returned to that particular subject since.

Another reader - and I didn’t consider the subject one to attract much comment - referred me to Hugh Neal’s blog of the following week. He reported that WDS Signs’ premises were up for auction but mysteriously withdrawn.

Because of the Land Registry correction, we now know why. Bexley Council was desperate to get their hands on the whole corner plot and prepared to do so at almost any cost.

A bit of digging around the web found confirmation of the sale. As the second correspondent, an Erith resident, points out, Bexley Council has tried to keep this transaction secret. He says it never showed in any Council meeting Agenda - unless it was in an Exempted section - and there was no community involvement or consultation. It was simply an under-the-counter transaction hidden from view.

Hugh’s year old blog goes on to refer to the old Electricity House just 150 yards away from the Post Office. Something ‘funny’ is going on there too. Why is Bexley Council allowing it to operate as The Redeemed Christian Church of God? A search of Bexley’s planning portal for that organisation throws up a twelve year old application for an address in Welling, but nothing for Erith.

Maybe the reports that it operates from Electricity House without planning permission are true. When Council matters don’t quite add up in Bexley it is always sensible to assume an ulterior motive.

 

6 December (Part 1) - It can happen anywhere

Arthur Labinjo-HughesWhile the tragic case of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes continues to dominate the headlines a reminder that much the same happened in Bexley ten years ago.

Rhys Lawrie from Erith died with 39 injuries to his young body and the police said his death was due to falling off a sofa. His mother was allowed to clean the blood off her walls. Social workers in Bexley had ignored the school teacher’s warnings and one from the GP, their excuses including that it was Christmas and they would attend to the matter once the party season was over.

The Serious Case Review was chaired by a previous Bexley Children’s Services’ employee and the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services refused to answer a public question on the subject in Council.

The family was convinced that Bexley Council covered up their failings with police assistance and there was a serious miscarriage of justice. The most important witnesses were not called to Court.

 

5 December (Part 2) - In only five months…

Chris Taylor Chris Taylor Felix Di NetinahAnother election!

We know that Councillor Alan Downing (Conservative, St. Mary’s) will step down next May because he has said so, but what of the others?

There are clues in Crayford and Falconwood where, respectively, Felix Di Netinah (Photo 3) has already usurped Christine Bishop at public events and Frazer Brooks proved his worth while seeing Louie French elected as MP for Old Bexley, and likely to replace him as Councillor.

With any luck Aaron Newbury will go down to Labour’s Wendy Perfect in Northumberland Heath.

Who else might we see no more of in Council?


Alex Sawyer's socksWell there is Danny Hackett the Independent for Thamesmead East and Independents have never done well in Bexley. For a start they need at the very least to flood a ward with their candidates. My money is on him not even trying and devoting all his spare time to good causes like The Welling Round Table. Probably Dave Putson (Independent, Belvedere) will take his leave of Belvedere residents too.

Will June Slaughter call it a day? Despite some obvious mobility problems she was out canvassing for Louie in all weathers. She won’t want to give it up and one must hope she doesn’t.

Having fallen into disfavour with the Leader, which is in my book, a good thing, Alex Sawyer should be watched carefully. He of the flamboyant socks crept away from the last Full Council meeting at half time and has not bothered to put in an appearance at any other meeting.

Now that we are within six months of the election in May he could become a full time skiver and not risk a by-election. It would be a shame if he left because Bexley needs every Councillor possible to vote against Teresa O’Neill for Leader to Build a Better Borough. We have lost Gareth Bacon and Louie French to Parliament so perversely Teresa O’Neill’s dominance becomes stronger.


James Hunt - LoonyWho would be given a safe seat and, numerically speaking, take Louie’s place? Ominously Chris Taylor (he of the flamboyant hair dye pictured above) who was defeated by UKIP in the now defunct Colyers ward in 2014 has been showing up with the Leaderְ’s canvassing gang recently. The group that showed total disloyalty to Louie French by spending their time securing their own seats rather than his. The Leader will want Taylor on board for voting fodder, Those in need of care services might be less keen.

After Care Services were contracted out and he was the Cabinet Member for Adults’ Services Chris Taylor was reluctant to take responsibility for their failures. The omens are not good.

There are few potential Leaders among Bexley’s Conservative Councillors and fewer still who could be trusted. Richard Diment perhaps and err… I am struggling now. James Hunt for light relief, Andy Dourmoush for his financial acumen, David Leaf for… No, this is getting silly now.

 

5 December (Part 1) - Lights on turn-off

Mayor Mayor Mayor MayorIf you take your children to see your town's Christmas lights switched on they’d probably expect to see it done by someone they’d seen on television but they might be satisfied by seeing a friendly fun-loving fat fellow in a fancy flaming frock flick the switch.

Hard luck on those who went to Sidcup. All they got was the lame never loyal to lucky Louie Leader. Lamentable.

 

4 December - Post Office counter-manded

Fortunately there have not been many times that I have to publish a correction on Bonkers but today is one of them.

A year ago, following press reports that Bexley Council was the country’s seventh biggest property investor, a list of the more interesting assets was published here. Among them was Erith Post Office for which Bexley Council paid £925,000.

Then in October this year it was noticed that the Post Office had dropped off of the Council’s asset register and the Land Registry reported that it had been sold for £900,000.
Sold

Land Registry record of Erith Post Office Sale December 2020.

It seemed a bit odd at the time given Bexley Council’s ambitions for Erith but they are of course strapped for cash and anything is possible.

One of my Council contacts thought it was just a little too odd to be true and took it upon himself to dig around. This is what he reports back…


Bexley council haven’t sold Erith Post Office, the £900,000 sale that showed on Land Registry site as the Post Office was in fact the adjoining building occupied by WDS Signs and the buyer is, it appears Bexley Council.
Their latest asset map shows an additional dot next to the Post Office. It is listed as Non Operational: N453 Riverside Works.
When I spotted this I contacted the Land Registry and suggested to them that their Post Office entry was wrong and needs altering to WDS Signs. Land Registry took note and have now corrected the entry.
Go to https://landregistry.data.gov.uk/ enter post code DA8 1QY and dates 01/01/2018 and 01/01/2021 the £900,000 sale is now listed as Riverside Works. Also shown is the sale of 89 Erith High Street which is the Post office at £925,000. So Bexley now own the whole corner plot.
P.S. Wasn’t Teresa Pearce locally bred.


Thanks to inquisitive of Bexley, we know that Bexley remains acquisitive. However even the arch Land Registry sleuth failed when researching Erith’s much missed MP. Teresa is a Northern girl educated in Eltham.

 

3 December (Part 2) - Danny would’ve won it

Danny HackettI stayed up until 02:30 to witness the electoral disaster in Old Bexley in so far as a bloke who doesn’t have a TV can do. The parties, naturally, are not calling it a disaster but by every reasonable analysis it surely was - unless like me you would not be unhappy with any result as long as the Conservative Cabinet was punished, in which case it is not too bad at all.

Conservative did I say? This morning Oliver Dowden their Party Chairman was contemplating making Covid vaccination for all compulsory as if he was some unreformed Commie. I have had a headache pretty much non-stop since I had my second jab on 19th April and my GP - no nurse, doctors do as little as they can get away with these days - says she is not allowed to investigate anything that looks as though it might just possibly be an adverse vaccine reaction. No way to encourage a third. Anyway I digress again.

The fairly obvious but understated statistic from twelve hours ago is that five out of six OB&S voters didn’t vote for Johnson’s party. In 2019 30,000 out of 66,000 did so. More than 18,000 Conservatives, one way or another, disappeared yesterday.


Louie FrenchLabour seem to be pleased with themselves and I am not quite sure why. Keir Starmer kept away and said nothing while understandably Sadiq Khan confined himself - according to his Twitter account - to a few minutes of telephone canvassing. Someone must know where he is not wanted.

Labour’s voters were almost as apathetic as the blue ones. In 2017 Danny Hackett pulled in more than 14,000 votes for Labour without much help from the party nationally. Four years later more than half of them have disappeared. 14,079 was down to only 6,711. Tempting them all away from their armchairs would have seen Daniel Francis in Westminster.

Danny Hackett was saddled with Jeremy Corbyn; it doesn’t say much for Keir Starmer that a decent competent and long-standing candidate like Councillor Daniel Francis cannot hold on to the votes that a young and inexperienced Mr. Hackett attracted. Yesterday was a golden opportunity for Labour supporters to deliver a mortal blow to Johnson’s future as party leader but they blew it. An opportunity that will not come again in a hurry. This is not “the road back to government” as one of our optimistic Councillors has said after what looked to be a good campaign by a candidate just as good if not better than his Conservative rival.

At the next General Election Old Bexley will most likely revert to unassailable blue again.


James Hunt For those more interested in Bexley Council politics the stand out event is that its Leader, Teresa O’Neill, never once got off her backside to campaign for Louie French, her Deputy until six months ago. Nothing supportive on Twitter either and a no show at the Count. A record emulated by Cabinet Member Philip Read and a few of the nobodies like Councillor Sybil Camsey.

Andy and LisaAn update to a blog four days ago would show that in various ways, Nick O’Hare, James Hunt, Sue Gower and Eileen Pallen showed their support for Louie. Cheryl Bacon, Nigel Betts, John Davey, Richard Diment, Sue Gower, David Leaf, Lisa-Jane Moore, Nick O’Hare and June Slaughter all showed their loyalty by burning the mid-night oil last night.

The Crayford/Sidcup Association divisions remain in evidence. What a shame that there are apparently not enough ‘rebels’ to vote TO’N out of her rôle and allow the Council to work with their new MP.

While She Who Must Be Obeyed remains in place there is little hope of Bexley Council changing course for the better. It will be interesting to see how Louie attempts to see his plans to fruition. James Brokenshire couldn’t, if he had done Louie wouldn’t have listed all those local problems in his literature and his predecessor Derek Conway used to make it very clear that he was unable to impose his will on his political colleagues in the Council.

Good Luck Louie, Bexley’s first locally bred MP.

 

3 December (Part 1) - By-election News

The turnout was 34%. 21,787 votes. (69·9% and 46,205 votes in 2019.)

Loonies Result at 01:55
Conservative : 11,189 (51·48%)
Labour :  6,711 (30·88%)
Reform UK : 1,432 (6·59%)
Green Party : 830 (3·82%)
Liberal Democrats : 647 (2·98%)
The English Democrats : 271 (1·25%)
UKIP : 184 (0·85%)
Rejoin EU : (151 (0·69%)
Heritage Party : 116 (0·53%)
Christian People’s Alliance : 108 (0·50%)
Official Monster Raving Loony Party : 94 (0·43%)

 

2 December (Part 2) - How low can they go?

The only election news of note that came through today was that it looked like the turnout was incredibly low which I suspect is bad news for the Conservatives. They did however get a very good turn out of MPs, the Bonkers count is up to 97 and the real number is quite a lot higher than that.

I am still looking forward to a political upset by which I mean the Tory share of the vote sinking towards the 40% mark. Boris Johnson deserves nothing less. For the future of Conservatism he needs to go.

The money must still be on Louie French topping the poll but based solely on witnessing more Council meetings than most, observing the eloquence, his knowledge of and passion for the borough on display there, I would say that Daniel Francis would make much the better MP. Just so long as he is not influenced by the mad fringes of his local party.

 

2 December (Part 1) - And now for something completely different

Cinderella From the Evil Villains and Ugly Sisters at your door in Old Bexley to another sort of pantomime, this time in Erith.

Labour Councillor Nicola Taylor who is a big Food Bank supporter has come up with an entirely new idea, to get low income families and their Babes out of the Wood and into the theatre at Christmas time. There is no way that Food Bank clients can run to that sort of expense unaided. Clearly Nicola is in her element with anything that involves Bringing The Roof Down.

She is asking for sponsors to Get Behind Her so that she can get Aladdin - and girls too - to the Erith Playhouse to see their performance of Cinderella.

If you think Nicola’s idea is a good one, don’t be a Sleeping Beauty, contact her through the Food Bank or her Council email address below. Your Beans Talk Jack.

It will give her something to do other than arguing with the Seven Dwarfs who sit opposite her in the Council Chamber surrounded by almost Forty Thieves.

Pantomime Poster

 

1 December (Part 3) - Louie’s done a runner

MyLondon News Good grief! The state of journalism today. MyLondon News is a nightmare of obtrusive adverts and hidden among them is their report that a mysterious Louie Smith is the Conservative candidate for the Old Bexley & Sidcup by-election and voting will take place on 2nd November.

And it repeats itself…

For years.

 

1 December (Part 2) - Last minute dirty tricks

Dave Lovelace Teresa GrayAfter running what seemed to be a clean campaign in Old Bexley and Sidcup the Labour Party has slipped from their pedestal somewhat.

The Old Bexley & Sidcup branch has followed in the footsteps of Louie French and Conor Noon, trying to convince a gullible public that their long-standing activists may be totally genuine supporters. Which they are; but far from being the ordinary members of the public from whom the party has been seeking videos

Dave Lovelace (Photo 1) is Vice-chair of OB&S Labour and Teresa Gray is their Womenְ’s Officer. Dave compared me with Oswald Mosley last time he was mentioned here. I wonder what delights await me this time.

Naughty, naughty! Maybe the initiative is entirely down to OB&S Labour and the problem with them is “that they cannot be controlled”. (© A Labour source.)

Tweet Tweet

Twitter link 1 - Twitter link 2.

Note: Positive IDs by another Labour source.

 

1 December (Part 1) - Just a reminder…

Even by Bonker’s incomplete tally, Old Bexley & Sidcup has had rather a lot of panicky visitors supporting Louie French within the last three weeks or so.

98 MPs
These names are taken from the MP’s Twitter accounts and from the signatures on Louie French’s large office posters, many more of which cannot be deciphered.


Bim Afolami
Nickie Aiken
Stuart Andrew
Victoria Atkins
Gareth Bacon
Duncan Baker
Aaron Bell
Crispin Blunt
Andrew Bowie
Paul Bristow
Sara Britcliffe
Anthony Browne
Felicity Buchan
Rob Butler
Simon Clark
Theo Clark
Chris Clarkson
James Cleverly
Therese Coffey
Elliot Colburn
Damian Collins
Alberto Costa
Nadine Dorries
Steve Double
Oliver Dowden
Jackie Doyle-Price
Iain Duncan Smith
Luke Evans
David Evennett
Laura Farris
Katherine Fletcher
Liam Fox
Michael Gove
Chris Grayling
Andrew Griffiths
Luke Hall
Matt Hancock
Greg Hands
Sally Ann Hart
Darren Henry
Anthony Higginbotham
Paul Holmes
Paul Howell
Nigel Huddleston
Eddie Hughes
Andrea Jenkyns
Robert Jenrick
Boris Johnson
Caroline Johnson
Gareth Johnson
Fay Jones
Kwasi Kwarteng
John Lamont
Brandon Lewis
Marco Longhi
Julia Lopez
Craig Mackinlay
Cherilyn Macrory
Alan Mak
Kit Malthouse
Jill Martin
Theresa May
Jerome Mayhew
Amanda Milling
Gagan Mohindra
Robbie Moore
Joy Morrissey
Jill Mortimer
Bob Neill
Guy Opperman
Tom Pannell
Priti Patel †
Victoria Prentis
Will Quince
Dominic Raab
Jacob Rees-Mogg
Nicola Richards
Angela Richardson
Gary Sambrook
Selaine Saxby
Paul Scully
Grant Shapps
David Simmonds
Chloe Smith
Royston Smith
Amanda Solloway
Ben Spencer
Bob Stewart
Graham Stuart
Rishi Sunak
Justin Tomlinson
Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Liz Truss
Robin Walker
Helen Whately
Heather Wheeler
James Wild
Nadhim Zahawi


† Priti Patel’s presence was reported at an internal Louie French support meeting. There is no evidence that she went door stepping.

 

News and Comment December 2021

Index: 2019202020212022

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