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News and Comment April 2022

Index: 2019202020212022

30 April - The last train to Twickers

Rugby ticketI’ve not gone to Twickenham to watch the rugby for about four years. It had become progressively less attractive and the end came when I had the misfortune to sit in front of a bunch of Hooray Henries with no interest in the game, talking incessantly and complaining that a round of drinks cost more than £80. I was paddling in beer and so much went down the back of my friend’s coat that she said she would probably have to throw it away.

Then a week ago sports mad Geoffrey phoned to ask if I would accompany him to a match for £41. In a weak moment I said OK and he went away and set up an account so that he could buy three tickets, the third for mutual friend Helen.

Geoffrey is a technophobe. I once ordered Amazon to send him an HDMI lead when he mistakenly believed his new TV was receiving HD from his Sky box via SCART. He called in a television engineer to plug it in.

Despite his apprehensions he managed to open an account and his order for three tickets was confirmed. He forwarded Twickenhamְ’s email to me.

I read it carefully while he had not so he didn’t know that he had to transfer one ticket to my phone and another to Helen’s. Anyone with more than one ticket on his phone would not be admitted and it demanded that every attendee must own a Smart Phone.

Geoffrey wasn’t told that, or maybe didn’t read the small print, before he parted with his money. We both agreed that if that had been known in advance we would have stayed at home.

How would a technophobe transfer the tickets? The email said he would be sent instructions on Thursday. Meanwhile both Helen and I installed the Twickenham App on our phones.

It was fairly straightforward although why it had to send a six figure security code to my phone and later a different code by email I have no idea. The App only asked for one of them.

I was rewarded with a Success message and awaited Thursday.

Geoffrey rang on Thursday to say three tickets were now on his phone with a transfer link to mine. How did it know that one of the tickets was for me? I had not put his name into my App and vice-versa. I wondered if it had scanned our Contact Lists but that didn’t explain why there was no transfer link to Helen. My ticket transferred OK when Geoffrey nervously clicked his button.

Helen reinstalled her App and she now has a ticket too. We may be getting used to the fact that no one can live a full life unless they can afford a Smart Phone but Twickenham’s system is a step too far.

What would happen if Helen left her phone on a bus last Wednesday? Geoffrey would be left with two tickets on his phone and I would be forced to go to Twickenham alone.

As I said to Geoff who had offered to foot the whole bill if things went totally rugby ball shaped, it would be worth me losing £41 to not go to Twickenham.

Batteries permitting we will see today’s match but we have all agreed that as soon as we are out three Apps along with my specially set up rugby@ email address will be deleted and none of us will set foot inside the Twickenham Stadium ever again.

P.S. In the event we saw a good couple of matches, at least I think they were, we couldn’t see it all because of the amount of standing up by over-enthusiastic supporters. That and the amount of vaping going on. Where I was sitting almost no one was not sending clouds of sickly smelling vapour into the air. I suppose it is to be expected if you attend an Army versus Royal Navy match.

The crowd was about 50:50 male and female, a situation for which Twickenham Stadium is totally ill-equipped. The women were pouring into the gents toilets. The transport arrangements for getting home made for an unbelievably horrible experience and confirmed my expectation that I will never go there again. By some miracle I got a seat on the train to Waterloo and used the time to delete my Twickenham Stadium App.

The price discrepancy that you may have noticed above was caused by Geoffrey making a voluntary donation to who I do not know during the booking process.

 

29 April - It’s Labour all the way for me

There was a time when saying that would be the stuff of nightmares for me but the circumstances are somewhat exceptional. Please allow me to explain…

The lady who sent me this email (below) is not wrong is she? With both main parties in Westminster more or less equally useless and both led by liars a choice of only Conservative or Labour is restrictive to say the least.
No choice
LabourIt’s the same here in Belvedere. If I voted on national issues I might hold my nose and vote Conservative but I am not yet so very mad that I would do that; vote on national issues that is. This is a local election and in this ward - yours might be different - there is no argument about where my X must go.

On the one hand we have three experienced candidates who do their best for the area and on the other three Conservatives who think it is appropriate to be backed by a man who chased me around town in his van until apprehended by the police.

Without Sally and Daniel, Kulvinder Singh’s company would not have been convicted following the H&SE’s prosecution for the dangerous demolition of Ye Olde Leather Bottle.

The Conservative Council did nothing and we now have a good idea why.

Labour shoved a new leaflet through my letter box early this morning and as usual I have read it end to end in nit picking mode. I could argue that a Labour Mayor who canned the Thames crossing is not “improving public transport links” but probably the biggest mistake is to caption their main photo as Esther, Daniel and Sally when it is quite obviously Sally, Daniel and Esther. (Yes, that is supposed to be a wind up.)

There is a new East Wickham Lib Dem leaflet too. I am never quite sure of the wisdom of a single candidate pointing out that you have three votes. (Two in some wards.) Wouldn’t it be better to suggest that voters only use one vote? Someone is bound to know the answer to that better than I do.

 

28 April (Part 5) - The ever popular Danny Hackett making more friends

The phone rang rather too late in the evening for my liking, it was about 10 p.m. last night but it was a friend so you can’t complain.

“How many people look at Bonkers?” the voice said, the answer to which was “I don’t really know, probably somewhere between five and ten thousand unique visitors from the UK to the daily blogs each month. It used to be a lot more, in fact there have been times when it’s exceeded 5,000 on line at the same time but that requires a bigger Council scandal than we have seen for a long time”.

“Why don’t you know?” “Because I don’t really care, in fact you could say I have gone out of my way to keep the site out of Google’s hands. Until recently it even contained the ‘noindex’ instruction because I was fed up with solicitors’ complaining about years old totally truthful blogs, so I make them hard to find and Google’s cache might defeat that.”

“Oh, I was hoping you could tell me how many people were likely to see your Danny Hackett epistle.” “Sorry, can’t help.”

(If this conversation is confusing you, you should know that “today’s’ Danny blog went on line just before 9 p.m. yesterday evening.)

Technically speaking, Bonkers loads up the Google analytics code in an Include file but that file has had nothing in it for ages, but to appease the friend, late as it was, I thought I’d restore it only to find the code was already there despite Google and similar sites telling me that Bonkers was getting no visitors at all. Exactly as planned.

Some head scratching soon revealed that I had mistyped the ID number. Fixed it.

If my friend is reading this, the Danny blog was seen by 57 different people between 11:39 p.m. and midnight last night. Does no one sleep in Bexley? (A small handful of readers had managed to bypass it.)
Andrew Kennedy Anna Firth
Danny Hackett with Andrew Kennedy and Anna Firth. Danny says Andrew is a top bloke so I suppose he must be while I prefer Anna in the Angela Rayner skirt. (All three, and on the poster, have chins in danger of dropping to the floor.)

 

28 April (Part 4) - Cheap lies and more expensive claims

Here’s another brief report that owes its existence to a reader; not just any old reader but to Dimitri Schrovob the Independent Candidate for Sidcup. Maybe he was trying to answer his own question about where Bexley Tories’ money comes from and by association, where they spend it.

They have been buying the services of Andrew Kennedy to polish their electoral successes. Maybe we now know where the fib that every Manifesto pledge ever was met in full came from.
Andrew Kennedy
Blah YweetAndrew Kennedy (see the above pinned Tweet) has a decent collection of well known clients. Apart from the Leader of Bexley Council there is another who finished up in Court following an election campaign in 2015 and his aide was given nine months for assisting an offence. It must have been worth every penny to be steered well away from that sort of thing in 2017.

Another face on Mr. Kennedy's list allowed his office to send a letter to a Bexley MP which contained little but factual errors. When asked to do something about it they merely compounded their confusion. One cannot expect clients to be vetted for their integrity or the campaign manager might not have a business.

However we do at least know that the false claims posted on Twitter daily may actually have cost the Tories money which is a consolation of sorts.

 

28 April (Part 3) - How bad can Bexley’s planning get?

PlanI was fed up with seeing the site preface so I decided to get rid of it. Most readers will know by know that there seems to be something rotten about Bexley’s planning processes without the constant reminder. It may go back just before election day.

Just as I was amending the code in came a message suggesting I change my recent habits and look at the News Shopper website.

What numbskullery is going on in the planning department now? The Shopperְ’s report illustrates a horrendous situation in Filston Road. The development is clearly unsafe and the photos are reminiscent of Ye Olde Leather Bottle.

The first application (19/02597/FUL) was by Mr. Perminder Kang the Conservative Party’s election nominator in Erith. It was approved subject to a large number of conditions. As far as I can see none of them relate to the proximity of adjacent properties as reported in The News Shopper which says the application was rejected for that reason.

Nine months later another application was submitted, not by Mr. Kang but by one of my own neighbours and soon afterwards Mr. Ajakaiye obtained the permission he was looking for, this time with fewer conditions.

Thanks to Bexley Council an elderly lady’s life is ruined.

 

28 April (Part 2) - Lib Dems contest ten wards

Sean AshSomething unusual happened overnight, a political party sent me a copy of their local election leaflet. Even more unusual is that it’s a Lib Dem leaflet. One from their candidate in East Wickham, Sean Ash.

I met Sean once, good bloke, and my political chameleon friend Danny says the same so it must be true.

Sean makes some good points on his website.


For the past 10 years, despite the “efficiency savings” and cuts to local services, along with the millions of pounds saved in spending, the gap to the budget is becoming a deeper hole needing to be filled with lots of cash that we don’t have.

Labour and the Tories are failing to be progressive with their politics due to their history of tribalism. There is clear division and a lack of cooperation to resolve our issues. There are times when Labour propose a really decent policy yet it is always voted against simply because they are wearing a different colour.

Sadly, very little is achieved in politics because it is tribal, a game to some and very self-centred to others. They have lost track with what truly matters. The people.

There is only one way to change the way things are and that is to give someone else a chance by changing the way you vote. On Thursday 5th May, there is a real opportunity to break a 20 year cycle of tribalism here in Bexley. The power for change is in your hands. Voting Lib Dems will mean that you will have people on the council who are in your corner.


Sean asks that you spend five minutes reviewing what the Lib Dems have to offer. They are standing in Bexleyheath, Blackfen & Lamorbey, Blendon & Penhill, Crook Log, East Wickam, Longlands, Northumberland Heath, Sidcup, St. Mary’s & St. James and Thamesmead East.

 

28 April (Part 1) - Toryboy Danny

Danny HackettWhat’s this? A crafty bit of Photoshopping? Afraid not, it really is Councillor Danny Hackett (and Labour General Election candidate in 2019) on the East Wickham campaign trail on behalf of Bexley Conservatives. Manifesto in hand. How can anyone explain that?

Easy actually.

I have known Danny for half his life and I think I can say that he has been a very good friend, not just to me but to the wider community in Bexley. (Fireworks, BexFest etc.) I don’t meet him as often as I used to probably because of his family health problems, the pandemic in general and the 50 year age gap.

He showed himself to be thoughtful and kind hearted when the Covid panic was at its height by turning up at my doorstep every Saturday morning with my grocery supplies while keeping my aunt in Newham supplied with her favourite ravioli, not to mention satisfying her insatiable desire for paper handkerchiefs.

From time to time I have given him what I hope is good advice. Quit politics Danny, you are far too honest to become a successful politician. (Circa 2014.) Why don֦’t you become a Conservative, you are more right wing than I am? (Circa 2017.) Give up on Thamesmead East, an Independent cannot win against the party machines. (Last year.) And please give up smoking and buy some razor blades. (Pretty much all the time.)

As his upper lip bears witness, he sometimes ignores me but eventually came to admit that he is not really cut out to be a Labour politician. When his party found out he was thrown out accompanied by reasons I have half forgotten. He confided in me at the time and buried somewhere on this computer I have a set of emails which shocked me deeply. The Councillors I thought of as being OK at least, no longer looked that way.

I attended the Code of Conduct Committee meeting where he was being made to face up to spiteful accusations by his erstwhile friends. He had used the word bollocks on Twitter if I remember correctly and he was in effect rescued from sanction by the straight talking Tory; Councillor June Slaughter.

Not that it was the worst attack on him. Another saw him dropped into very hot water; with Bexley Council’s conduct rules, the police and a scurrilous rag known as the News Shopper.

Danny saw this one coming and showed me the so called evidence before it all hit the fan and this time it really was bollocks, a trap set by those who were no longer his friends who in my opinion were themselves guilty of much of what they had reported. After several stressful months the Council and the Police reached the same conclusion as I had. A less forgiving soul might have resorted to legal action.

Is he now taking revenge on the former party colleagues who wrote such nasty things about him?

I don’t think that is the whole story but it may perhaps be a secondary reason. No politician is a total Saint!

When I first met him Danny was a Tony Blair nut, quite the reverse of me, and as far as I know he still is. As such he is obviously very much anti-Jeremy Corbyn. If you want his candidacy in Old Bexley in December 2019 explained you will have to ask Danny but what he learned then must have been the beginning of the end for his Labour ambitions.


TweetEast Wickham has not always been solidly Tory, it was Labour and Lib Dem in 2002 and the Conservatives came within five votes of losing it again in the 2009 by-election.

In 2022 the Labour Group scents an opportunity and Danny is keen to put an end to it. Who can blame him?

The three incumbents have been decent enough Councillors. Steven Hall was not my favourite Scrutiny Committee Chairman, Caroline Newton showed herself to be an EU loyalist and succumbs to the occasional bit of political infighting and Christine Catterall is low profile. Don’t go searching this website for evidence of them lying because you won’t find any. They have never gone seriously off the rails or perhaps not at all by political standards.
Tweet
They are up against three Labour candidates who operate under the auspices of the Sidcup Association whose Secretary was so keen to hide her constant unjustified complaining about Conservative Councillors, Danny Hackett and me, that she resorted to legal threats to suppress her online diatribes.

Danny didn’t like that and doesn’t want to see any of her supporters elected, and nor do I.

Next Thursday I will grit my teeth and cast three votes for Labour. Here in Belvedere the Labour candidates are all OK and and at least one, probably all of them, liked what the Sidcup Secretary did last year no more than I did. The decision Is helped by the Conservative candidates here having nothing at all going for them and a fair bit against.

In East Wickham it is very much the reverse. Three OK Tories and three on the other side who support their litigious Secretary who repays them via Social Media. (See above.)

Tony Blair apart, if Danny says something is worth fighting for it probably is.

Danny Hackett Danny Hackett Danny Hackett Danny Hackett Danny Hackett Danny Hackett

The former Labour Councillor is more comfortable having been given the sack, especially if it is a blue one.

 

27 April (Part 2) - Opening with a bang?

Crossrail escalator Crossrail escalatorIt’s a long time since I went snapping at Abbey Wood station but a tip off said I should. The escalator is in bits again and what seems to be a new pack of steps is awaiting installation.

Let’s hope all goes well for a Crossrail opening in June; last time the escalator was tested there was a big bang and a funny smell.

 

27 April (Part 1) - Where next?

Now that we have reason to believe that Bexley’s Planning Committee is compromised by its close relationship with the borough’s best known property developer, should we be looking for more such liaisons?

It was suggested that I look at Perminder Singh Kang who nominated the Conservative candidates in Erith. He runs BSD Ventures Limited from his address at 106 Bexley Road, Erith and its business is “Buying, selling and managing real estate on a fee or contract basis”.

106 Bexley Road is locally listed and a House of Multiple Occupation with plans for 16 apartments to be built on the site. (21/03064/FULM.)

There is of course one very big difference between Mr. Kang and Mr. Singh. Perminder Kang is not obviously best mates with the Vice-Chairman of the Planning Committee with a string of questionable planning applications (and non-applications!) and H&SE infringements behind him. You can’t go around banning property developers from joining political parties. What next? Publicans can’t risk meeting a member of the Licensing Committee or cycling club leaders being able to directly influence the Transport Committee? Oh, better not go there!

What else is going on? Not a lot. For the record I eventually convinced my energy provider that the Smart Meter display unit that they call an IHD did not calculate costs correctly, or even close. It is much better now. The gas readings seem to be exactly right but electricity costs are still over-estimated for ְ‘today’ but when the figures are dumped into the History folder they magically correct themselves.

Octopus have said they are still learning and grateful for the bug reports but I remain puzzled by the fact that they are tweaking a individual IHD and not running standard software on them all. I got my total consumption down to £1·56 yesterday and it’s really not been all that that difficult. No children is probably a good place to start. More seriously the eleven year old solar panels are proving to be one of the best investments ever and yesterday was a sunny day.

I have a feeling there was something else. Another senior moment!

 

26 April (Part 3) - Dubious links proven to be true

It was a bit laborious but I have now read through all 17 of the updated nomination papers that Bexley Council has this morning (see Notice of Poll) put on line. I was relieved to see that property developer Tarsem Singh did indeed nominate the wife of the Planning Committee Vice-Chairman. Apart from that there was nothing untoward if you discount the usual political incest played by Councillors past and present, their spouses and known activists.

It may not be unique but I noticed that Andy Dourmoush and Lisa-Jane Moore (Conservative, Longlands) have 20 nominators between them, none being shared as is pretty much the norm in other wards. If they have twice as many supporters as their colleagues it is probably well deserved.

My need to visit the Council Offices to look at the originals has now gone, the whistleblower’s whispering proved to be correct but not his advice that I would never see the names on line.

That is why I last week asked Electoral Services for an appointment only to be very politely fobbed off exactly five minutes later. And then ignored when I pushed further.

This morning I asked them if there was any reason they should not be reported to the Electoral Commsssion for breaking electoral law.

They said they had been far too busy with such enquiries but I was now welcome to go and take a look. I do wonder how many people are nerdy enough to have asked and similarly if they were really too busy managing the queues to answer my email. Their response to the suggestion that I might go to the Electoral Commission was in my Inbox only six minutes after I made it! They must be really busy. Five minutes then six minutes.

Probably I should teach them some sort of lesson but I am not sure I want to waste taxpayers’ money. Bexley Council never learns.

 

26 April (Part 2) - No need to make it up

I imagine that it may be a minority view but in the Rogue Developer versus Planning Committee saga I see the latter as being in by far the most embarrassing position. One sort of expects developers to use every card they have to advance their position but a Council’s planning processes should be beyond reproach. In Bexley they clearly are not. Even a former (?) Tory activist emailed “you couldn’t make it up”.

Various candidates and Councillors including the Planning Vice-Chairman and his wife have embraced the developers as their friends and political supporters and short of back-handers they cannot get much worse than that.

Not just any old developers of course but developers who threaten and shove photographers around and at worst, violently run them out of town with the police in pursuit.

The blind eyes turned now come across as some sort of protection racket run by Bexley Council. Why did it not cooperate with the Health & Safety Executive in connection with the Leather Bottle demolition until threatened with legal action?

It wasn’t the first time that the H&SE became involved, there was another when The Woodman pub was demolished in 2014 (†) and Dhadda Estates earned an immediate Prohibition Notice for Wharfside Close, Erith only a couple of months ago with another in Southwark a month earlier. Bexley Tories’ choice of associates leaves a great deal to be desired and one can understand their addiction to secrecy.

Electoral LawOn that subject I am wondering why I was not immediately welcomed into Electoral Services when I asked to look at the nomination papers last week. The Electoral Commission website says “From close of nominations until the day before the poll, nominations forms and consent to nomination forms that have been delivered are open to inspection by anyone during normal office hours, and anyone can take a copy of them”.

Perhaps I am getting to be too suspicious of Bexley Council’s motives. Watching it closely for twelve years takes its toll.


† Removed from H&SE website in 2019 under their five year rule.

 

26 April (Part 1) - Seems fair enough

I no longer look at the News Shopper. There was a time when I would be looking at the online version as soon as possible every Wednesday morning. Indeed there was a time when a copy would come clattering through my letter box the same afternoon. Recently I’ve been very close to shutting off their email alerts but this morning they regurgitated something which I had ignored earlier in the month. A Taxpayers’ Alliance report on excessive Council salaries.
News Shopper News Shopper
Bexley’s Chief Executive is the highest paid in South East London on £213,000 a year. Seems entirely fair to me. Bexley has by far the highest Council Tax rate in South East London too. That’s the way the system works isn’t it?

In 2012 when the Chief Executive was getting £209,000, Labour’s 2022 election candidate for Erith told me and my friend Elwyn to our faces and while in the Council Chamber that he didn’t think that sum was enough. He wasn’t joking, he gave his reasons. Socialists (†). Don’t you just love ’em?

† This comment provoked an immediate protest that the candidate is definitely not a Socialist. That is likely correct, he earned a lot more money than I ever did! (Probably he alone could afford the 40% tax raid.)
Note. When I went to the News Shopper’s report my virus protection flagged up a TechScam threat.

 

25 April (Part 3) - A website announcement

Well it seems that no one is disputing that property developers not only socialise with Bexley’s Planning Committee members and their Councillor wives they are close enough to the Conservative Party to nominate their candidates. At the very least the Conservatives have shown themselves too stupid to recognise the mischief that can be made out of that.

To ensure that the close associations between developers and planners is as well known as possible, direct access to www.bexley-is-bonkers.co.uk will from now until election day route through a reminder of the stupidity displayed.

if technically possible without too much recoding the announcement may be made to pop up elsewhere too. (†)

If you have a spare minute, the Labour Councillors’ letter to the Planning Department is worth a read. They got nowhere. Ask yourself why.

† So far all presses on the ‘Today’ icon. ‘Month’ is a bit too complicated!

 

25 April (Part 2) - Is this the truth I was looking for?

If you have been around for long enough you may be skilled at guessing when BiB is leading up to some scandal or other and that has been the situation over the past few days.

A week ago there was a whisper that the names on the local election nominations list were surprising, but that by itself is not very useful information. A bit of arm twisting provided one lonely clue. “Look at Belvedere.” Hence my request for an inspection at the Civic Offices. A request that has gone unrewarded.

It remains to be seen if the names go on line tomorrow as promised, they may do, they may not, but earlier today BiB’s anonymous file submission facility turned up a little gem; hence this earlier than planned revelatory blog.

It looks like someone has snatched a quick phone shot of some names. It could be clearer and it could be a set up. I am always wary of being led into a trap but if it is, it is a very elaborate one that fits a lot of known facts. I like to illustrate blogs where possible but to show the fuzzy copy here may not be totally legal and it wouldn’t add much to the story so I will resist the temptation.

ToriesAs far as I can make out all three Conservative candidates for Belvedere ward are nominated by the same ten people with only one named exception.

It is not surprising to see Councillor Leaf’s name on the list but beyond that there are three names of Indian origin and two are Singh. One is unmistakably Kulvinder’s father Tarsem.

It looks to be the case that Tarsem Singh is a Conservative backer, one whose company destroyed Ye Olde Leather Bottle and despoiled Lesnes Abbey Woods and got away with both. (The H&SE prosecution excepted, with which Bexley Council was reluctant to help. It fell to me and Labour Councillors to be witnesses.)

I am not quite sure what to say about all this. When I lived in Hampshire I knew without a doubt that the local Planning Department was bent but I have never come across anything remotely similar in Bexley - until possibly now.

Even if the planners are not influenced by our developer friends it appears to be odds on that Councillors might be and they seem unafraid to publicise their liaison.

The fuzzy copy of the nominations may explain why the wife of the Vice-Chairman of the Planning Committee is pictured at Singh’s front door and with both father and son on a Belvedere building site. Cheek by jowl with the Planning Vice-Chairman! Are they mad or simply brazen after years of getting away with it?

Assuming I am not given further evidence to the contrary, in which case this blog will rapidly disappear, I would expect in a perfect world for this news to go around the borough very quickly indeed but in blue Bexley no one cared about Council criminality in years gone by so why should I expect things to be different now?

But as usual I live in hope.

P.S. Shortly after publication a tip-off from within said that I won’t be challenged over the foregoing. Phew!
Councillors from both parties have come forward to express their dismay that Bexley has Councillors stupid enough to allow and even encourage this to happen. No one in Belvedere ward should consider voting for the shower pictured above.

 

25 April (Part 1) - One way or another, the truth will out

I know it is a bit nerdy but I like to study election nomination papers closely. To me it was important to know that the Conservative candidate in last December’s by-election chose as one of his ten nominators the man who the police said had written a whole load of obscenities about me and three friends. It says something about the man; well both men.
Nominations
So the currently published nominations are a big disappointment to me. I’d like to know who nominated my Labour and Conservative candidates especially as I have been a floating voter. (Maybe not so much since I learned who the local Tories are matey with.)

The 2022 nominations that are on line are severely edited. We not only have shy candidates hiding their addresses - which may not matter a great deal - but the nominators’ names are entirely missing.

I emailed Bexley Council to ask if I could go to the Civic Offices to take a look at the real thing, after all we still claim to live in a democracy even if it is a rapidly fading one. An immediate reply said the full works would be on their website by Tuesday 26th April.

I mentioned it in passing to a Councillor friend - I have a few - and he had his doubts about there being total transparency. Hedging my bets I asked Bexley Council if I could take a look anyway. Just my own ward, I didn’t want to use up too much of their time. No immediate reply this time which arouses my suspicions.

I have an uneasy feeling that the names of nominators may be far more embarrassing than the French/Craske situation from 2021.

When the Council’s website is updated tomorrow there will be three possibilities. My suspicions may prove to be unfounded, they may alternatively prove a link which in a totally honest Council would not exist, or the interesting stuff may be edited out.

There will then be two choices…

i) A Freedom of Information request (but it may be that new legislation exempts nomination papers as it does for candidates’ addresses.)
ii) Telling you why I am in a suspicious frame of mind.

Not much of a choice is it? I may have to show you a few things.

 

24 April (Part 3) - Pillars of Society

95 Woolwich RoadMaybe I was wrong about making friends outside the Conservative Club but surely their candidates don’t publish pictures of people’s front doors without being on pretty good terms with them? Here the Belvedere Tory candidates are at the house which Companies House says is the home of Tarsem and Kulvinder Singh.

Messages, maybe from their friends, continue to roll in to tell me how well connected the Singhs are. Maybe it is to warn me off but I’m only bringing together things that anyone can find on the web.

The Charity Commission lists five Trustees of the Guru Hargobind Sports Club in Erith. Four of the five include Singh and Dhadda in their names and two are Kulvinder and his father Tamsem. More than 70% of the Club’s income is from government grants.

Nowhere is the Club’s meeting place mentioned apart from an ambitiously vague “England and Wales” but the mailing address is there. 95 Woolwich Road, SE2 and if you care to probe the Charity Commission’s website it even gives you Kulvinder’s email address and phone number.

The Club’s Facebook page has not been updated since June last year when it referred to a meeting in the Belvedere Community Centre.

I already knew that Kulvinder was a leading light in Bexley’s Interfaith Forum and their website shows Kulvnder at a gathering that includes three MPs, Planning Committee Vice-Chairman Brian Bishop (before that appointment), Bexley Council Leader Teresa O’Neill, her Director and a Cabinet Member.

Presumably that is why Kulvinder felt he was able to threaten to report me to named politicians while remonstrating with me for taking photos of the Leather Bottle in 2016.

 

24 April (Part 2) - What a tangled web they weave

If you go around annoying your neighbours, costing them a great deal of money and in at least one case, forcing them out of their house, you don’t make many friends outside the Conservative Club. Hence the messages that flooded in to confirm and expand on the names given in yesterday’s blog.
Belvedere Temple
DhaddaI was right about the man who accosted me in 2016, it is Kulvinder Singh on the left under the yellow turban and my suspicions were right about the man who fancies himself as a get-away driver and appears to be great mates with the Vice-Chairman of the Planning Committee. It is Kulvinder’s father Tarsem and it was him who falsely accused me of photographing his grandchildren in September last year.

It all makes sense now. Companies House lists the two of them as Directors or former Directors of Dhadda Estates based at 95 Woolwich Road and conveniently a few doors along from Bexley’s Council Offices and the Planning Department.

It was Dhadda that made the retrospective application for the monstrosity built on the boundary of Lesnes Abbey Woods and despite one of the few honest Conservative Councillors insisting on a site inspection Dhadda was eventually allowed to keep it; June Slaughter’s reservations going unheeded.

I wouldn’t be surprised if someone tittle-tattled that the Singhs were fully paid up members of the Bexleyheath and Crayford Conservative Association. Now who do I know who might let me know?

 

24 April (Part 1) - The cost of living. (The elephant in the room)

The rising cost of living that too many politicians are ignoring will come back to bite them hard. Why did Bexley’s Council Tax go up 2% more than either Barnet or Bromley’s? Why did Khan’s precept go up 10% more than when Boris was Mayor? (He reduced it.)

Then there is basic shopping needs. I try to avoid shopping. Most of my food is imported from Orpington because Tesco’s selection of Gluten Free stuff is so much better than Abbey Wood Sainsbury’s. Almost anywhere is better than Abbey Wood Sainsbury’s except that I can walk there in under ten minutes.

Even so I try to avoid it apart from picking up a few basics every ten days or so. I did exactly that yesterday and found both travelators working but once on the first floor normal service resumed. No baskets and no signs to say where things were to be found. How long is it since they did the rearrangement? Two months, three months? Not that the sign removal was a great loss, they dated from when the store opened nearly seven years ago and were hopelessly out of date. The management there must be useless, in fact I know it is. When I asked the manager why there had been no Kellogg’s Cornflakes on visits three weeks apart he said “supply issues”. I think I knew that.

I didn’t buy much but every single item on my mundane list, except the milk, had gone up by exactly 20% in the past ten days or so. The milk had gone up by 10% a couple of months ago.

How does Sunak and his ilk think that the average man on the Sainsbury’s travelator can afford that on top of the highest tax rates in 70 years?

I bought three identical Ready Meals but the check out refused to accept one of them. It said I had put the wrong item on the shelf. I collected my things and moved to another check out. Same thing. I asked the man in the Sainsbury’s suit for help. He shrugged and walked away. I went to Customer Services where all three scanned OK. On the way home I remembered that the Customer Services check out has no scales so I put them all on mine. One item was seriously underweight.

The Ready Meals may no longer be cheap but they can be microwaved for a few pennies. Cooking a proper meal in the oven can cost the best part of a quid.

Today it is exactly two months since my Smart Meter was installed. The charges it showed were largely nonsense, at first wildly inaccurate and after a complaint less so. The charge for electricity was consistently higher than ‘usage times tariff’ and I proved the gas readings were wrong by turning it off at the main valve for ten days and watching the pennies add up some days and remain at zero (no Standing Charge) on others. (Not something you can do if not living alone!)

The energy company said this was perfectly normal, a Smart Meter Display was only a guide or as I labelled it, useless. They then did a runner and the only way to attract their attention is via Twitter. That is so wrong, but it worked - up to a point. For gas only the display has corrected itself retrospectively and the ten days of not using the gas all now correctly show the Standing Order instead of some random number. I watched the display unit clock up two kilowatt hours of electricity and it said the charge would be £1.04 without the standing charge which is nearly twice what it would be if the tariff was correctly applied. Back to Twitter.

Why does each unit have to be fine tuned? You would think they would all be running the same software.

I have managed to get my costs down to about £1·50 or so a day, nearer to £2 if the telly goes on in the evening. Serves me right for running the separate audio amplifier too loud. If I threw bleach into the garden pond I could save at least 40 pence a day. That damned pump!

 

23 April (Part 2) - An awkward juxtaposition

Over the past year I have expressed the wish that Prime Minister Johnson is made to squirm and be totally humiliated over £10,000 fines, 10 p.m. curfews and Scotch Eggs but now that his lying is fully exposed I am not very comfortable with it.

I think the reason is that it has taken a politically motivated Institutionally Corrupt Metropolitan Police force controlled by Sadiq Khan - say no more - to bring him to the precipice. That and the fact that there is no obvious replacement on either side of the Commons chamber.

John DaveyI am a little ashamed of myself for allowing such a poor segue because if I scoured twelve years of blogs I would not find any suggestion that Councillor John Davey (Conservative, West Heath) lies. Maybe if pressed, instances of him getting on the wrong side of an argument (in my opinion) could be found. Similarly backing the party line against his better judgment; it was after all John D. who came up with the title for this blog by admitting, while Vice-Chairman of the Transport Sub-Committee, that some of Bexley’s road planning was Bonkers.

As you can see I am doing my utmost to excuse his association with Mr. Kulvinder Singh, yes I am now sure it is him topped in yellow. Singh being the man who wrecked 238 Woolwich Road forcing John Davey into action on behalf of the occupant of number 240. One must wonder whose side he was really on, the neighbour’s or Conservative supporting (*) businessmen. Maybe it was both.

The Chairman of the Planning Committee is a West Heath Councillor too. I cannot imagine Peter Reader getting into compromising situations. Always seems to be a straight sort of guy to me.

* Watch this space.

 

23 April (Part 1) - All friends together

Belvedere TempleI collect photos that look as though they may one day become useful. I wasn’t absolutely sure where this one came from by the time I studied it closely but it may have been from Councillor Read’s Twitter feed after initially missing it on @bexleynews.

@bexleynews don’t always lie outright, they often skirt around an untruth in a way designed to deceive the gullible while protecting themselves from the extremities of universal criticism.

But this was just an innocent picture, right? It is of a gathering behind the Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Temple in Belvedere last weekend. There are rather too many beards on display but most of the faces nevertheless look quite familiar to me. I have Photoshopped them a little and blown them up for a better view.
Left half
Right half

I think I can name some of them. The bushy beard under a yellow turban in the uppermost of the two photos bears an amazing similarity to the man who shoved me around outside the Leather Bottle in 2016. It wasn’t for the first time and I have always suspected that he is Kulvinder Singh. To his left are Belvedere Conservative candidates Vinny Poon and Christine Bishop. Then we have the voluble David Leaf and Councillor John Davey.

Beyond him if my eyeballs have not let me down is the third Belvedere candidate, the less than friendly Will Dorgu.

Outside Leather BottleIn the next photo the man in white is unknown to me with another Conservative election candidate alongside. He is Aaron Newbury about whom the least said the better. Next to him is Councillor Brian Bishop and then three bearded gentlemen.

I feel I have seen the first two before. Probably the first of them is the wheelbarrow man pictured on the left outside the Leather Bottle with six years of additional beard growth. I got the impression at the time that he was Kulvinder Singh’s father but I could be wrong.

The other occasion would be in Woolwich Road when a pair looking rather like them tried to block my car into a side road and one became very prominent in my rear view mirror and occasionally alongside as I was chased down the A2016 and back.

Kulvinder Singh has been photographed before in Council company but arguably in innocent circumstances. This time I am not so sure. What possessed the Vice-Chairman of the Planning Committee to stand right next to a Director of Dhadda Estates? The company which submits so many unwelcome and contentious applications to Bexley Council and eventually persuades them of the merit of developments that appear to have little or none. I have never been sure why.

I think some more enquiries are in order.

Leather Bottle related blogs.
Woolwich Road related blogs.

 

22 April (Part 2) - Which side are they on? You need to know

Another Conservative election leaflet has come my way. It introduces the two unknown candidates from St. Mary’s and St James. (Bexley Village area).

Their enthusiasm for putting their credentials before the electorate is understandable. Replacing two familiar old faces presents problems especially with their party in turmoil nationally. Why the trio in Belvedere didn’t bother I have no idea, maybe they never expected to win or maybe they have nothing to crow about.

BypassKurtis Christoforides is a former police officer but saw the light and isn’t any more so you cannot hold that against him.

Both go a little off the rails by claiming that local services are excellent and implying that Council Tax is low but by the standards of such things the leaflet is not unreasonable. Keeping Bexley Village moving may be a pipe dream given the congestion there is more or less constant. Perhaps it would have been better not to cancel the bypass. (See map.)

The promise to keep Bexley safe might have been more believable if the borough’s CCTV system was fully operational. Neither candidate looks to be old enough to remember when Cabinet Member Craske announced that the Village would be the first of the smaller communities to benefit from CCTV.

They are on firmer ground with road maintenance. While driving yesterday I was struck by how nice and smooth Townley Road and much of Long Lane now is. That must have cost a pretty penny. A pity that some of the left overs were not used on Knee Hill and my own road.

They don’t like Khan’s ULEZ which makes sense when the best selling cars in the UK month after month are Teslas. Khan is only interested in fleecing motorists. Correction. Pretty much everyone.

If I knew what they thought about Bexley’s leadership I might be tempted to vote for them. If you are in Bexley Village you can ask them on stmarysandstjames@gmail.com.

Neither Kurtis Christoforides or Cameron Smith have gone down the creepy questions route so the omens are good.

 

22 April (Part 1) - If I had a suspicious mind…

A quick count up says that in the 35 years I have lived in Bexley I had until yesterday eaten in only seven of its pubs and restaurants, which includes two Wetherspoons for breakfast. An average rate that probably doesn’t reach once a year. As I have said before, Bexley businesses do not get very much money out of me.

Yesterday a kind friend insisted on paying to make the pub number up to eight. Not sure what I did to deserve that but thanks anyway.

We went to a place I must have sailed by a few thousand times on my journeys to and from Knee Hill and beyond and it reminded me of Ye Olde Leather Bottle; another pub I ate in once never to return.

Have you seen what remains of The Leather Bottle recently? Demolished very nearly seven years ago and some said without prior notice to Bexley Council. Certainly without the knowledge of nearby residents who complained but were ignored.

There was something very odd about the whole affair. Bexley Council can be useless but The Bottle took things to a whole new level.
Leather Bottle Leather Bottle Leather Bottle Leather Bottle

Leather Bottle Leather Bottle Leather Bottle Leather Bottle

Photographs taken at dawn this morning.

While I was taking photos at The Bottle in June 2016 I was pushed around by the bearded folk working there and on the receiving end of threats of the we know where you live variety accompanied by political name dropping. How did they know so much about me?

When the demolition work reached an obviously dangerous stage with no protection for passers-by Bexley council took no action. When local Councillor Daniel Francis (Labour) persuaded the Health & Safety Executive to take an interest Bexley Council initially, and for all I know for longer, refused their co-operation.

The same developer moved on to Woolwich Road where he built a massive concrete bunker without planning permission. Bexley’s surveyor said it encroached a little on Lesnes Abbey Woods. It was so horrendous that the couple who lived next door had to move out.

Against all expectations, and one might say commonsense and justice, Bexley Council, after a limp show of resistance, granted retrospective planning permission.

In possession of a suspicious mind when it comes to Bexley Council I asked the couple driven out of their home if in all their dealings with both the Council and the man who wrecked their lives there had ever been the slightest suggestion that there might be a link between the two parties but whilst harbouring the same suspicions as me they had drawn a total blank.

Everyone is as pure as the driven snow as far as anyone knows but for possession of a suspicious mind I was later chased from Woolwich Road to Abbey Wood and back to Belvedere by a man who I believed to be part of the developer’s family until I was rescued by the police. Perhaps Bexley Council is frightened of beards too. One day we may stumble across the truth.

 

21 April (Part 2) - The Leader’s final report

As has been said here many times before, the Leader’s spoken report to Full Council is nearly always well presented. Brief and to the point and leaving the 25 pages (this time) of obscure stuff that appears in the Agenda version unstated and no doubt ignored by many.

LeaderTeresa O’Neill first told us of yet another demolition attempt on The Cob statue in Belvedere. (Eventually it will be realised that if you put a metallic horse in the middle of a busy and not particularly easy to negotiate roundabout it will periodically be hit by a vehicle.)

This time the driver did a runner but first had the presence of mind to remove his number plates. Not so clever was leaving his works staff pass taped to the windscreen. There is as yet no news on whether the cob can be repaired.

Ukrainian refugees are beginning to be housed in the borough and a local company has been helped through the red tape when taking relief supplies to Ukraine.

It hardly needs saying but the Leader referred to the unfair grant settlement again. “It is a frustration that the disparity [with Greenwich] was brought about by a Labour Government but we will live within our means.”

The planned Jubilee celebrations are going very well and residents are responding enthusiastically. The end result will put the Royal borough to shame.

And there endeth the Leader’s report. Succinct as always.

Councillors were not prepared to let it rest there. Councillor Sybil Camsey (Conservative, Crook Log) asked how many extra places had been provided by the new SEN schools. 19 right now but heading towards 50 very soon with more to come.

Councillor Eileen Pallen (Conservative, Bexleyheath) asked how care leavers were being helped through the cost of living crisis. They have dedicated support and advisers on how to live on a budget. Some stay in foster care beyond the age of 18. There appeared to be plenty of help available.

Councillor Francis (Labour, Belvedere) asked about playground equipment and the Conservative manifesto promise to audit future requirements but to this day no inventory is available from the Council. Parents, particularly of disabled children, are still unable to find the most suitable park for their needs. He also referred to “the repeated lie that the Conservatives had met 100% of their manifesto commitments”.

The Council Leader said that Belvedere Beech was 100% accessible against various ‘noises off’ which said it wasn’t. There was no further comment on Councillor Francis’s manifesto question as one would expect of a question that exposed another Tory lie.

Following comments from Councillor Seymour (Conservative, Crayford) the Mayor attacked Councillor Borello (sic) who complained that too much purdah breaking was going on. After a brief difference of opinion, the Mayor who had earlier warned against purdah breaking shouted loudly that his ruling was final and his next move would be to cut Stefano’s microphone.

Within minutes the argument had blown over and the Leader of the opposition was allowed to ask a question.

It was about two recent reports on Bexley’s finances which said that it had the second lowest general fund reserve “among its statistical neighbours and is at significant risk”. He wanted to know what plans the Council had to counter it. He quoted Labour’s 2006 budget figures and those from last month which were significantly worse and then launched into his own spot of purdah busting.

The Chancellor’s wife and his Green card, Bexley topping the national bin complaints league, Councillor Adam Wildman’s Whitehall partying, ditto Boris Johnson, Bexley’s 21% Council Tax rise and constant stealth taxes (parking, garden waste and burials) all got an honourable mention. And then a short list of “illegal” shortcuts taken.

The Leader refused to comment on anything apart from the reserve situation which she defended and the fact that a Labour Councillor stood on the bin picket line. The Cabinet Member provided his plan for protecting the reserves. It is “to certainly not to do what Labour is doing”. He then repeated the lie that Labour is against the £150 government financed Council Tax rebate for Band A to D properties.

The allotted 30 minutes were more or less up. Just enough time for the Leader to say that the Mayor of Lewisham had been to Bexley to see how a town should be run.

 

21 April (Part 1) - Catching up with the recent past

I thought it was about time I reviewed the unfiled messages that had arrived via the Contact form and despite them running well into double figures there was unfortunately little of substance there. I think I will ignore the one that asked what a particular word meant, there is a good explanation in every dictionary ever published.

I was also reminded that some people plead for help with “a battle with an evil Council”; you ask for more details and hear no more. There is also the occasional dilemma. Should I file messages from the Labour candidate in Crayford under Councillors or among the 1,000 plus names of Bexley residents? I went for the former which will probably bring him bad luck.

There was one about Bexley Council not paying their bills promptly but that was covered not long ago and several from people who know my email address but had chosen to use the Contact form instead.

Which reduces me to just one message which if nothing else proves that Bexley Council’s current slogan is the epitome of arrogance. The previous one of ‘Listening to you’ was such a blatant lie that it was abandoned four years ago except for unexplained reasons on the Council’s webcast page. The replacement ‘Trusted by Bexley residents’ is dubious to say the very least and crowned by the arrogance born of too big a majority.

The author explains his view in a few short words and went to the trouble of photographing the rubbish message on the rubbish bin.
Message
Bin
There's only three Bexley Councillors I would really trust. There's a handful who might approach the threshold demanded but I'm pretty sure that if the chips were down they would back their party's line before honesty and integrity.

A sad state of affairs.

From the News Shopper and Daily Telegraph this week come related litter stories.
Litter Litter
LitterThe former relates how Councils are milking the rules in order to maximise their income and the BBC managed to produce a whole programme about malpractice in Bexley.

If you can spare the cash, wander along the Broadway, attract the attention of the litter police and allow a fiver to fall out of your pocket.

 

20 April (Part 2) - Out to lunch?

Not fine at allTomorrow I have a lunch date with an old friend and I fear we might fall out. Whilst our outlook on life is broadly similar, politics too, I fear I have detected vibes that he is horrified by partygate. I as usual take a more perverse view. Whilst Johnson can never be forgiven for imposing a host of ridiculous, draconian, expensive and illogical constraints on our lives over the past two years and lacked the guts to question the ramblings of demented medics and discredited mathematicians, I am just a little bit encouraged that he didn’t really believe a word they said.

All that was necessary was to exercise a degree of commonsense. He ate a slice of cake with colleagues on his birthday and I invited six adults - not including me - and a child to mine. I slightly stretched the rules at Christmas too and never did get Covid or even a cold.

Johnson’s rules imposed untold cruelty, hardship and misery on many and such people are entitled to be very annoyed with him but that is no reason to throw commonsense out of the window. Cake in Downing Street, coffee on a park bench and kids playing in their own front garden did nobody any harm and we have a corrupt police force to thank for imagining that such things did.

Former Commissioner Dick said that the Institutionally Corrupt Metropolitan Police did not investigate Covid crimes retrospectively so with luck I can forget my own transgressions, but why did she decide to spend millions on a spiteful investigation into two year old parties and working lunches? Was it her doing or Sadiq Khan’s?

There were no prosecutions following numerous other high profile rule breakers. Why not? Because commonsense prevailed.


Would I be able to defend my theory against my friend’s assertion that Boris Johnson is a cake crook? He may well be deserving of the old heave ho but not in my opinion in respect of birthday cake.

I think I may have an ace up my sleeve for tomorrow. My friend and I both admire the historian David Starkey, him more so than me; he has paid to attend his lectures whereas I am as you know far too tight-fisted to do that.

David Starkey has espoused the same views as myself (see YouTube link) but much more expertly. Could it really be that Johnson’s Head of Ethics was a political plant there to get him into trouble with bad advice? Once the job was done she left to take up a big job in a Labour council.

 

20 April (Part 1) - Time and Motion

“The time allowed for questions has expired” intoned Mayor James Hunt as his focus shifted to Motions which were timed out at earlier meetings.

I do not like Motions, they tend to bore me and I fail to see the point of some of them. Frequently they address subjects about which Bexley Council can do nothing or ask Members to be nice to Jews or gay people as if they would only do that if the rule book compelled them to do so.

If Labour comes up with a half decent Motion the Conservatives will vote it down so that they can substitute their own and claim the credit for it. Never ever expect the ruling elite in Bexley to do the decent thing willingly or generously.

Last week’s Motion came from the newly Independent Councillor for Belvedere, Dave Putson, but had been ‘advertised’ in advance by the Labour Group. A whisper earlier in the day suggested that their falling out last year might inject some welcome fireworks into the proceedings but I was to be disappointed. Dave Putson is far too much of a gentleman to rise to any bait, and to be fair to Labour, they didn’t cast any.

Putson TaylorCouncillor Putson spoke eloquently and passionately about Climate Change and how Bexley Council “should fully recognise the emergency”. Not quite in David Leaf territory but Dave managed an impressive ten minutes.

Bexley Council has probably done as much as it easily can by switching street lighting to the dimmest possible LED lamps, pursued recycling zealously, cut down on its use of paper and switched its pool cars to electric.

Dave provided all the frightening statistics about emissions and the like. Sea levels are going to rise by 16 feet within the next 100 years, you know the sort of thing, and if you don’t, listen to Dave on the webcast about 35 minutes in.

The motion was seconded by Labour’s Nicola Taylor. (Erith.) Once again, one of her themes was local air quality. Asthma, she said, accounts for one in five trips to see a GP. You may need to reminded that GP stands for General Practitioner and is someone you used to see in the olden days when feeling unwell.

Councillor Caroline Newton (Conservative, East Wickham) was the first to object to the prospect of Labour (sort of Labour that is) doing something worthwhile. She moved an amendment.

It bore a close resemblance to Councillor Putson’s Motion but with 31 lines struck out and substituted the sometimes dubious achievements of Bexley Council to date. The 1,000 trees, LED lighting, electric pool cars, recycling and the ill-fated attempt to extend Crossrail across the borough.

While expounding the watered down Motion, Newton found time to admonish Councillor Taylor for something she is alleged to have said at a Pensions Committee meeting on 9th December 2021. You always know when a Tory is in venomous mode when they refer to Labour Councillors as “comrades”, and Newton was nothing if not venomous. Councillor Taylor was accused of talking down business and she stood to deny it.

Nicola met with opposition from the Mayor who under pressure sought legal advice which went against Councillor Taylor and then in a reversal that must have confused the hell out of poor James, the decision went the other way.

Of the last four Monitoring Officers in Bexley, two had no UK recognised legal qualifications and maybe we now have a third. (The qualified one soon left.) James must have been quietly fuming when he allowed Nicola to proceed.

Councillor Taylor continued to protest that she would have said very little at the meeting in question and absolutely denied uttering the words attributed to her by Councillor Newton. This is not surprising because an examination of the relevant minutes has revealed that she wasn’t there at all. (Subsequently checked and confirmed with Councillor Taylor. She is only a substitute on Pensions.)

Councillor Newton moved to safer ground by restating her objections to the ULEZ which mainly afflicts the poorer members of society.

Councillor Putson’s Motion was flung out by the Conservatives who, after Councillor Davey seconded it with a fairly decent speech, then voted for his party’s own pale imitation. Look out for them claiming all the credit long after Councillor Putson has departed Bexley Council.

To my surprise the debate was not boring and with the exception of Councillor Newton’s contribution everyone acquitted themselves in a reasonable fashion. Maybe the Mayor would not agree.

 

19 April (Part 4) - Extreme hypocrisy

Labour TweetI took one of my occasional looks at the Twitter account run by Anashua Davies, the Labour party candidate for Longlands ward. I am blocked but there are of course ways and means.

As far as I know she has not instructed her solicitor to send him a letter yet but she is bleating on about Andy Dourmoush not living in Bexley. His house is just the other side of the A20 in the borough of Bromley.

He qualifies as a candidate in Bexley because he is a major business employer in Erith.

It occurs to me that Andy lives much closer to his ward than the Labour Leader lives to his in Slade Green or the former Leader to his in Belvedere.

Who cares? Are they good candidates? Yes to all three.

Anashua must be an embarrassment to her fellow candidates. I’m pretty sure she is. I could quote the comments of three, two in writing, but I won’t. She won’t be elected anyway and be thankful for that.

 

19 April (Part 3) - The Independent candidate for Sidcup

Dimitri Shvorob has revised his election leaflet to take account of the disgraceful behaviour exhibited by the Conservatives at last Wednesday’s Council meeting.

 

19 April (Part 2) - The 2022 Tory Manifesto

As I was writing Part 1 this morning the letterbox rattled and I hoped that Amazon had managed to deliver me something before bedtime but I hoped in vain, however it was almost as big a surprise. A Tory election manifesto had reached me directly. It claimed that the 2018 version had been delivered “in full exactly as promised”. A number of Freedom of Information requests have shown that to be untrue, 1,000 trees, two hectares of new parks etc. and at last week’s Council meeting it was admitted that town centre wi-fi is not due until next year.

They will not repeat that mistake. There is not a single pledge in the 2022 manifesto. No pledges; no broken promises to parade before them in 2026. Clever!

But other than that it is not too bad an effort providing food for thought and the accompanying letter provokes equally important questions.

It is probably nit-picking to discredit the claimed 17 years of Bexley being top recycler in London, it is very nearly true and it would be a bonus if they came good on the promise to collect more categories of waste. Small electrical appliances would be my preference. It only needs to be street bins. I think we used to have a few but the Tories got rid of them.

It may also be nit-picking to remind the Tories that far from “improving public safety” with CCTV, Bexley Councillors sacked all their monitoring staff to save rather less money annually than they pay themselves. Quite a lot less actually.

I must admit the manifesto is quite well done. The top tier of Conservative Councillors in Bexley are indisputably lying bastards but they are not totally incompetent lying bastards.

One does have to wonder if the opposition is too inexperienced and might go the way of Croydon (bankruptcy) as is suggested. Whatever are Labour thinking in aiming to get the architect of the 40% Council Tax rise back into cabinet?

Political letterOn the other hand the letter accompanying the Tory manifesto is signed by two candidates who are totally inexperienced and a third who never did a thing while a Councillor.

The unattributed quote shown alongside comes from Margaret Thatcher. She on the right of Conservative politics cannot be mentioned for fear of upsetting lefty floaters just as Boris Johnson is persona non-grata in Tory leaflets for deserting real Conservatism, quick marching his one time supporters (and everyone other than his friends) into penury and lacking in almost every vestige of common sense thinking.

Teresa O’Neill and her cronies have made a pretty good job of twisting the arms of luke-warm Tories with their manifesto but in the back of my mind I still have that police memo that says that it was her who went to Arnsberg Place to get the police to arrest me if I continued to “criticise Councillors”.

That’s it. Nothing more. I think it will take more than a cleverly written manifesto to return me to the fold, but you may be are different.

If all the right Labour candidates were elected the party would struggle to find the experience to fill a Cabinet but on the other hand if all the lying Tories were kicked out they would have the same problem.

Maybe I should consider abstention more seriously.

 

19 April (Part 1) - More questions, a few answers

After Bexley Conservatives cheated the public out of the theoretical opportunity to ask them questions last week the Councillors were allowed 15 minutes to ask what they could have done at any time with a phone call or an email. To that extent it is all grandstanding and it is easy to conclude that all Council meetings are a farce.

Daniel Francis (Labour, Belvedere) was due to ask Councillor Craske about children’s playgrounds but the old rogue had invented an entirely new way of dodging questions. He wasn’t there. It then fell to Nicola Taylor (Labour, Erith) to mount her favourite hobby horse. Housing. The Local Government Ombudsman had said that Bexley was guilty of maladministration. “Were those cases the tip of an iceberg?”

Cabinet Member Sue Gower (Bexleyheath) denied the suggestion. There were about 7,000 housing related phone enquiries in March 2022 and some errors were “unfortunately inevitable”. Her department gets more complimentary letters than complaints, 13 of which went to the Ombudsman last year and five upheld. The compensation ordered by the LGO was “nominal”.

NewtonCouncillor Caroline Newton (Conservative, East Wickham) went down the by now familiar arse-licking route. “Would the Cabinet Member please tell us about the visit to the borough by Andrea Leadsom MP?” (I suppose the question mark makes it a question but not one that would be acceptable from a genuine member of the public.)

Do you want to know the answer? Thought not! But maybe the following snippet should be brought to your attention.

In an arguably disgusting malice aforethought moment a desperate for attention Newton stooped lower than ever before to ask Cabinet Member Read (West Heath) to elaborate on a Labour Party Tweet which claimed that their MP in Erith & Thamesmead had not been advised of Leadsom’s visit. (To hell with purdah, let’s connive with Read must have been uppermost in Newton’s mind.)

Read said the Tweet was a lie and who better than him to identify one? He said that Labour MP Abena Opong-Asare had been notified by email ten days before Leadsom’s visit and her office acknowledged it.

Think hard before putting an X against Newton’s name in East Wickham, there are seven alternatives.

Councillor Brian Bishop (Conservative, Barnehurst) was also a purdah buster but he may have had the sympathy of many residents when he asked what impact Khan’s iniquitous ULEZ was having on the NHS.

He was reminded by Cabinet Member Gower that the NHS Trust had already reported to Council that “there were huge implications for their workforce particularly nurses and an extra £12·50 a day is just not doable for the lower paid staff”. They now park in Plumstead and walk to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. “ULEZ is having a profound effect on the Trust’s ability to recruit and retain staff.”

Twisting the knife into Khan as deeply as possible Councillor Bishop asked his supplementary question. “What is the effect on shift workers?”

As he knew already, they have to pay twice for an overnight shift. Either £25 or a £150 fine.

Councillor Nicola Taylor defended the charge on health grounds (but no reference to nurses being priced out of their jobs). Councillor Gower responded with reference to cars becoming progressively less polluting and there being no need to extend the ULEZ to the South Circular and beyond. (I will eat my hat if it does not prove to be a precursor to extension of the congestion charge. Nothing else justifies the infrastructure costs.)

My voting pendulum swung sharply to the right again.

 

18 April - The slippery slope?

I spent the holiday weekend in Hampshire and despite the dire forecast of various transport pundits I found the roads near empty in both directions. Yesterday morning on the radio I heard another complaining about an EU plan to force cars into adhering to speed limits using camera and radar technology.

It was said that the UK would not opt out because manufacturers could not be expected to make cars destined for Britain different to those delivered to the EU. Utter balderdash churned out by a lying government led by a liar. Maybe we should expect steering wheels to move to the left in the immediate future.

But opting out of big brother EU rules on speed limiters is far easier than that, it is just a case of ticking a software box.

For example all Teslas come with the same equipment on board whether you buy the cheapest model of its type or buy into the extras. The differences are software controlled and you can pay to have them after purchase and the car upgrades over your wi-fi.

My humble Hyundai has a speed limiter and it projects the limit on to the Head Up Display (HUD). When I bought it the EU importers specified a fully specified speed limiter but the UK importer was a cheapskate and refused to pay the Koreans for the HUD projection. In Ireland the specification differences were greater, they didn’t get adaptive cruise control.

Despite Hyundai UK being cheapskates my car came with a comprehensive speed limiting system; apparently it was a mistake on the first batch of 50 imported. Some of those cars became review samples and when the second batch came into the country some of buyers kicked up a stink over the speed limiter numbers not displaying on the HUD as they had been led to believe they would.

Hyundai caved in and allowed the dealers to flick the software switch and Hey Presto it all worked the same as the European ones (and the first 50 UK models) did.

In practice the speed limiter can be a damned nuisance. I once set mine to 20 in one of those horrible socialist boroughs in North London. On a dual carriageway with speed cameras and a central reservation a bus on the inside lane decided to pull out as if I wasn’t there. It was a nasty moment because at 20 the accelerator pedal did nothing.

When you drive along the A2016 half a mile to the East of Belmarsh and reach the enormous 50 m.p.h. limited roundabout cars briefly face the 30 m.p.h. limited road into Thamesmead and mine reads the sign.

It doesn’t brake hard because my car does not make the link proposed by the EU but if it was so equipped nothing would happen.

As you may remember, my son was chairman of the European Union vehicle safety committee - not any more obviously - but these rules spend a long time in their gestation period. He told me when they were proposed that speed limiting would be a driver choice, just like it is to switch off traction control or the beeps my car makes when reversing. Switching off the limiter will become part of a driver’s start up routine.

London buses already have such a system - maybe not all of them yet, it has proved difficult to retro-fit - but they do not slam on the brakes when passing from a 40 m.p.h. zone to a 20 as they do at the northern end of Harrow Manor Way. It is recognised that rapid slow downs are dangerous. Even after our idiot government follows EU rules - and it will - the system could conceivably stop acceleration beyond the limit but it will never provoke emergency stops. Almost all politicians are irredeembly nuts but engineers outside academia are not.

I think I might ask all my election candidates for their view on 20 m.p.h. limits, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, cycle lanes and bus lanes and vote accordingly.

The danger associated with the EU’s big brother rules is mission creep. First the speed limiter issues speeding tickets, then it is no longer an option and finally you are deemed to be uninsured if it is not working properly. Maybe a revolution is the only way forward in our burgeoning police state.

 

17 April - Good Labour and Bad Labour

I felt a need to balance the constant flow of bad news about Bexley Conservatives before last week’s Council meeting is reported because some of that will be rather damning stuff. But with what?

A distant memory said that Labour’s local Secretary and litigation enthusiast who, according to her own Tweets, reported me to the police four times in 2020 and issued more threats through her money grabbing solicitor in 2021 demanding that I never refer to her here had said something in an email that could be used against her. She is standing as Labour’s election candidate in unwinnable Longlands.

However my memory had let me down slightly. She did write what I remembered but there was a caveat I had forgotten which diluted its impact. But all was not lost.

Another forgotten email confirmed something I had always suspected. The solicitor’s complaint came six months after I had ridiculed the Labour Secretary’s propensity for making unjustified complaints against serving Councillors. Was it coincidence that the threats were made immediately after Daniel Francis had stepped down as Labour? The answer turned out to be No.

The demanding email made it very clear that the solicitor’s letter came long after the events of 2020 because Daniel had advised that sending it was a very silly idea. Daniel Francis is my Belvedere ward Councillor so it is good to be reminded that he has his head screwed on correctly. (But who selected the Longlands candidate?)

The ditherer is now leaning towards three Labour votes next month. One in 2014, two in 2018… Where is this leading? Don’t worry. With Khan and Starmer in position blue is still my preferred colour.

 

15 April (Part 2) - Political stooges reconvene in Bexley

I found myself getting very annoyed with what I heard at last Wednesday’s Council meeting. It was bad enough to be reminded of the monstrosity opposite the cinema as I drove into town; a carbuncle for which we have to thank the double voting planning Chair Councillor Clark but the meeting itself was reminiscent of the worst days of her being Mayor.

The current Mayor was perhaps not beyond reproach but he did at least correctly remind Councillors they were in election purdah and should refrain from political point scoring. Neither side paid heed and the Mayor fell back upon the excuse it is guidance and not a rule. Basically it was a waste of his breath to mention it at all.

The first 30 minutes were devoted to questions with a maximum of 15 from Members of the Public - or as they are better known in Bexley, Pathetic Planted Political Patsies. The first of them was the Conservative election candidate for Falconwood ward who wished to curry favour with Cabinet Member David Leaf and see if he could provoke the usual problem Leaf has with verbal diarrhea. Not a particularly high bar even for an amateur in a pin striped suit.
Question

Andrew Curtois is Conservative candidate for Falconwood and happy to be associated with Bexley’s band of deceivers.

You may notice that this barely qualifies as a question and would not be admissible from an ordinary member of the public.

Cabinet Member Leaf began the bragging session at four minutes and forty four seconds into my recording and said he was “delighted” with Mr. Curtois’s question - as well he might be! It was probably his.

We learned nothing new while Leaf droned through his pre-prepared script and actually “welcomed the opportunity to go through his budget once again”. Again! Presumably you may assume that Mr Curtois, if elected, is going to be the sort of useless Councillor who neither watches webcasts nor reads the minutes of meetings or even the budget itself.

For the benefit of our inattentive election candidate, there is to be more investment in services, more spending on capital projects, the “outstanding children’s services” and recycling.

Including no less than six separate digressions into attacking the opposition contrary to purdah rules Leaf rambled on for five minutes and 26 seconds. No one who had paid attention to previous Leaf speeches would have learned anything at all so Andrew Curtois had wasted everyone’s time by asking Leaf to repeat it all.

Curtois LeafThe procedure is that members of the public may bowl a googly in the form of a surprise secondary question. The Tory stooge lost no time in asking one. “Could the Council say what action it was taking in response to cost of living measures”, apart from raising fees, charges and Council Tax presumably.

Cabinet Member Leaf rummaged in his briefcase to read from the carefully prepared script (see Photo 2). David Leaf, the Cabinet Member for Resources who could not see the need for a Capitalisation Order coming but is able to precisely anticipate a secondary question. A genius.

At 10:31 into the recording he began speaking. He reiterated the benefits of the Council Tax reduction scheme but had forgotten that it was this Conservative administration that slashed it ten years ago. He had distributed all the Government pandemic support grants in an efficient manner to the few who qualified for it. Even I would not accuse him of financing another party in the park!

Only three attacks on the opposition party this time but in better news he said the £150 government Council Tax rebate would be paid within days. By then eleven of the 15 minutes allocated to public questions had gone by, just enough time for another Tory stooge to ask a question of the arse licking variety. “What are the Council’s achievements?”

The ample arse he had in mind was the Leader’s and everyone in Bexley must be anxious to know the answer to that question but all we heard was that she had delivered her manifesto which is manifestly untrue as numerous Freedom of Information requests have confirmed. We also learned that Bexley residents had rescued the borough from some of the worst consequences of Covid by volunteering for jobs, which is good, but maybe not the sort of Council achievement most of us were waiting to hear.

There was also a claim that Bexley had the best vaccination record “right the way through” which is once again known to be disputed by several other boroughs. At that point the Mayor interjected that questions had passed the 14 minute stage so nothing much new was learned thereafter.

Apparently the Broadway area in Bexleyheath has been “decluttered” but the provision of wi-fi services has been deferred to 2023. An official admission that not all the manifesto pledges were delivered - but celebrate the fact that the Leader’s answer did not descend into purdah busting.

Basically a corrupt Council had squandered the little time available for questions but neatly avoided the more thorough probing that would have come from Dimitri Shvorob.

 

15 April (Part 1) - A wishi that Rishi would go

Following up on a blog from earlier this week the otherwise anonymous Martyn makes a comment which I presume is meant to counter my dissatisfaction with Labour’s threat of Net Zero by 2030, but I do not disagree with him at all.
Anon messageThere has never been a good word about Rishi Sunak on BiB and as stated previously, he is a very good reason not to vote Conservative. He, like Kier Starmer and Co, is a politician unable to define a woman. Far worse is that he has no clue as to the depths of hardship he enthusiastically imposes on poor people unable to make ends meet. Sunak should get out of politics for the good of non-millionaires everywhere.

However it should not be forgotten that the seeds of the serious energy crisis were sown by the last Labour Government. Anyone with half a brain could see back then that reliance on the sun and wind for electricity generation and their damned fool green subsidies (*) would get us into trouble. Every gigawatt of renewables should be backed up by a gigawatt of traditional power station whether powered by gas, coal or nuclear but we in Britain didn’t do that. In Germany they mothballed coal fired stations, here we demolished them with explosives.

Like so many things, such as Teresa O’Neill’s bleating on about the local government funding formula being unfair to Bexley, Labour may be the cause of our problems but the Tories have done nothing to correct their errors and in the case of energy compounded them. After twelve years in government there is no one else to blame.

My own efforts to conserve energy have continued this week and Octopus Energy have been busy making fools of themselves - or maybe me or even every one of their customers.

My gas supply has been off at the main valve for a whole week (**) yet the daily charge is not consistent. Sometimes more than the 27 pence standing charge and sometimes less. Octopus have suggested I might be fiddlingwith the gas tap (sleep walking?) in my pyjamas.

The electricity situation is even madder. It is not practical to turn it off completely but I have managed to keep the charges under £2 most days. To achieve that it is essential not to cook in the main oven. That can easily cost best part of a pound whereas something can be microwaved for a few pennies.

What I am finding is that if one reads the daily consumption on the display unit and multiply it by the tariff, also shown on the unit, the resultant figure is always less than the total charge also shown on the unit, with or without the standing charge included.

Octopus have offered an explanation for that. The electricity meter accurately relays consumption figures to their billing system and at the same time sends figures to my home display unit. However it doesn't bother to send accurate figures, an approximation is judged to be good enough and the result must be used as a guide only.

Why would it transmit garbage to me if the correct figure is known to the meter and how does it explain that the sum of seven daily charges is not the same as the week’s total shown by the same display unit? Why is the amount charged always more than the alleged guide figures?  

Octopus Energy has an impressive armoury of very lame excuses.

* Full disclosure. My solar panels pay around £2,000 a year to generate electricity which I use myself to heat the water, run this computer right now and cover all my motoring requirements. Total madness but I take the view that if you can’t beat them, join ’em.
** Do not try this in a family home, it is inconvenient and sometimes uncomfortable. Possibly unhealthy too. No vegetables all week!

 

14 April (Part 2) - In Sidcup you have a real alternative

Independent leaflet

For all four pages of Dimitri’s leaflet be sure to click the image above.

 

14 April (Part 1) - On Wednesday 13th April democracy died in Bexley

Full CouncilI thought I should go to last night’s Council meeting for several reasons. It was the last one before the election, I hoped to hear some sensible answers to some interesting public questions and to find something which would knock me off the electoral fence. I have never voted for None of the Above and don’t particularly want to start now.

To some extent the evening was a disaster. It is so long since I attended in person that I forgot to take the recorder batteries that had been on charge all day and I picked up the wrong lens for my camera but it did at least confirm that my political antennae are still in reasonably good order. As expected the public questions were filibustered out of contention.

The evening began with the unscrupulous or maybe easily manipulated Andrew Curtois asking Cabinet Member Leaf to waffle on about his budget. Leaf is a man who can talk non-stop for more than half an hour and to make sure he could swallow up almost all of the allotted 15 minutes he had prepared a long and rambling speech. By some miracle of anticipation he had a prepared speech in answer to the supposedly impromptu secondary question too.

That no one with an interest in democracy, or for that matter financial acumen should ever vote for David Leaf (Blendon) is a given but the same must go for Andrew Curtois in Falconwood who clearly has no intention of going against the corrupt practices which are rife within the ruling elite of Bexley’s Conservative Group.


Full CouncilThat, plus sitting next to a bad tempered Belvedere Conservative candidate and the shenanigans by both the Mayor and Councillor Caroline Newton later in the meeting convinced me that I must vote Labour in Belvedere. From what I hear, Labour Councillors can be fairly obnoxious to each other but that is several steps away from being obnoxious towards everyone and democracy in general.

Every Labour Councillor comes across to this member of the public as a decent, friendly and well-meaning individual and that is what counts, not the intensity of their alleged squabbles among themselves.

As I said in a mid-meeting Tweet it is not safe to blindly vote Conservative in Bexley, it is imperative to research what they stand for and how they behave.

As a life long Conservative I would not hesitate to vote for Howard Jackson In Barnehurst, Steven Hall in East Wickham, Frazer Brooks in Falconwood, Richard Diment and June Slaughter in Sidcup, Andy Dourmoush and Lisa-Jane Moore in Longlands, and finally John Davey and Peter Reader in West Heath. If you have been counting that is only nine names out of the 45 candidates. It needs to be taken into account there are a lot of unknowns this year but I would rule out at least five of them from what I know already

There are a few who are perhaps borderline OK. James Hunt (Blackfen) has been following the course trodden by many a Mayor before him. Fair at the beginning of his term but increasingly objectionable towards the end as realisation that he must rejoin the baying mob sets in. At yesterday’s meeting, on one occasion, I felt he was aggressive and erring towards being nasty which is not the James I know.

Sue Gower (Blackheath) is never nasty but she is too keen to toe the party line when I am pretty sure she doesn’t really believe a word of it. A few names are well known deceivers if not occasional liars and there is another handful which have shown their true colours at least once over the years which cannot be forgiven.

Maybe I should add James and Sue to the recommended list because they are approachable if needs be. None of the remaining ‘excluded’ fall into that category.

Note: I left the meeting early because my Easter timetable allows almost no time for blogging and this is being written late on Wednesday. The usual more detailed report will appear here eventually.
Apologies, I seem to have used this title before.

 

13 April - Labour Manifesto Review

TweetIt is busy day for Bexley Labour. They have a Motion up before the Full Council this evening; quite why I am not sure but at least this one has an interesting back story. I am planning to get to the meeting and maybe I will be convinced that climate change is something which Bexley Council can influence or for in any way be responsible.

Despite Bexley Conservatives being widely ridiculed for claiming to have fulfilled all the promises made in its four page 2018 Manifesto Bexley Labour is going with a 26 page encyclopedia of promises, err…, maybe I should say Reviews, a word that occurs within it 23 times. Among the targets is a wish to impoverish us all by 2030 with an enhanced Net Zero policy. Carrie eat your heart out.

On a related subject I discovered that with my gas supply turned completely off I have had three different daily prices shown on the display unit over four days. The displayed total of those charges is not what you get from adding up the individual days. Octopus Energy is still struggling for an answer but one was to turn off my under floor heating - which I do not have.

The Labour Manifesto makes some decent points about Bexley’s lack of affordable housing, the withdrawal of some children’s services and the need for better cross river transport links which Bexley Conservatives did their utmost to kill off in the previous decade - and then complained when Sadiq Khan continued the task in 2018.

Page 11 of the Manifesto does it for me. A picture in which a prominent face belongs to the activist who took the trouble to report me to the police four times for a series of blogs in which I criticised the unjustified complaints against Councillors Read and Hackett. When that failed to have any effect I was sent a solicitor’s letter demanding the removal of all the relevant blogs - none of which named the complainant.

From Labour sources came quite a lot of support and to quote just one… “That person is a complainaholic. She once complained about a Councillor from elsewhere in London because of the backdrop to a photo they were in. It had been taken at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference!! If she is complaining about you then you are doing something right.”

I am still inclined to vote ‘None of the Above’ in Belvedere.

 

12 April - None of the Above

Here in Belvedere there is not a lot of choice for the May election. It is Conservative, Labour, Green or None of the Above.

I cannot possibly vote Conservative at the moment. We have proven liars in charge locally, we have an ostrich leading the Conservatives at the GLA - she denied that Cressida Dick was a corrupt police officer after she was specifically identified for willfully obstructing the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel - and nationally we have politicians who think students should be fined £10,000 for boozing with their mates in their digs while allowing karaoke parties in Whitehall. (For the record I think Dick retrospectively investigating hypocrisy is a huge waste of taxpayers’ money.)
Dick DickI might consider a Tory vote locally if their candidate publicly condemned lying but none have, although if I wished to risk the careers of more honest ones I could name three who have made their views a little clearer.

Green? You know me better than that. I may run an electric car, installed solar panels in January 2011 and squeezed my total energy bill inder £2 yesterday but it is all about saving money. As a proper Conservative I still believe in the freedom of choice abandoned by the main parties.

And then there is Labour, the party whose local secretary reported me to the police four times and put a solicitor on my tail for reporting absolute facts. Probably three votes lost there.

But most Bexley residents have a real choice - up to a point that is. One wrote to ask how he can contact a Reform UK candidate when every single one standing in Bexley prefers to suppress their contact details and has not delivered a leaflet - and probably won’t.

I think the answer has to be that unless you are one of the many who are happy to vote for a party leader rather than the candidate you probably stay at home. They will have sacrificed their vote on the altar of secrecy - and deservedly so.

 

11 April (Part 2) - From Russia with Love

Let’s face it, Bonkers has gone downhill since Bexley Council said Mick Barnbrook was a racist, banned him from making Freedom of Information Requests - there was a very direct correlation between the two - and he bought a bungalow on the Kent coast. (No connection.)

Russian bookRight now I am the only member of the old gang who is on the right side of 80 - just - and I am always on the look out for someone who might just possibly become the new thorn in the side of a dishonest Council.

A possibility might be Dimitri Shvorob without whom BiB would not have been able to report in such detail on the Conservatives’ failure to meet their 2018 manifesto promises. His FOIs on trees, new green spaces, wi-fi, broadband and lavish untendered parties have been invaluable.

Just as Mick used to do he shows up at Council meetings to ask questions, proper ones that is, not as faux-Tories asking Cabinet Members questions designed to provide them with bragging rights.

When Dimitri asks his questions next Wednesday - assuming he is not filibustered out of existence of course - he wants everyone to know that he is an election candidate looking for votes in Sidcup.

The Falconwood Tory wannabe who I have always found to be a decent young fellow has to curry favour with Councillor Craske by asking a question to which everyone already knows the answer. Dimitri wrote to Frazer Brooks to make sure he was already aware of the facts. Maybe I should let you see what Dimitri wrote…


Dear Frazer,
I understand that you submitted a “public question” for the April 13 council meeting, asking Cllr Craske, Cabinet Member for Places, whether his 2018 pledge to plant 1,000 street trees by the end of 2020 was fulfilled.

I admit it is a bit odd to see three current Conservative candidates, including yourself, once again take the podium intended for members of the public, not for politicians. A critic could call you a supporting actor in an unbecoming spectacle where you and your two peers
pretend to be members of the public to lob softball questions at your seniors, ready with a preening speech. You abuse the platform and “crowd out” genuine questions. Hardly a good look for an aspiring people’s representative.

The alternative hypothesis I prefer is that you really have not been able to get this information from Cllr Craske in any other way. I have had Cabinet Members, and Council Leader herself, ignore my own questions, so you three having the same experience would not be at all surprising.

Fortunately, I have this information, coming from the council after a FOI request, and can answer your question even better than Cllr Craske himself.

The question was: “In 2018, the Cabinet Member for Places pledged to plant 1,000 new street trees by the end of 2020 - can you confirm whether you met that pledge or not?”

Unless I missed a pledge made personally by Cllr Craske, I believe you are referring to a pledge by the 2018 Bexley Conservatives election campaign. I should say that it was, ahem, phrased, as a wish rather than a pledge - “we want to see … “ - and it did not explicitly point to the end of 2020, but said “by 2020”. (I actually thought it meant the beginning of 2020).

Getting even more pedantic, the wish/pledge talked about “new” trees, not “planted” trees. What’s the difference? Here in Sidcup, on Hadlow Road, 5 trees were planted, but only 4 new trees remain, one of them badly leaning and likely needing replacement; it might be 3 in a short while. The difference is 20-40%. However, let’s brush this aside and focus on planted trees.

Only financial-year totals are available - Bexley’s financial year is April-to-March - so If you want to “stop the clock” on December 31, 2020, you need to adjust a full-year number for a part-year. You also want to decide when you want to “start the clock”. I think that May 2018, the beginning of the 2018 council term, is the right choice - but you may disagree. Finally, you want to decide if you want to count trees planted in Bexley, but at someone else’s expense. Personally, I think it would be odd for the council to claim someone else’s credit, but your opinion may differ.

With these choices made, let’s get a calculator and look at the numbers, i.e. financial-year totals of trees planted. (The original files are available on request).

2017-18: 237
2018-19: 385
2019-20: 186
2020-21: 149

In addition, there are two special cases where even the financial year is not known exactly: in 2019-21 - i.e. over two financial years - 57 trees were planted in Falconwood, and 129 trees were planted around the new Crossrail station in Abbey Wood. It is not clear if the Abbey Wood trees were paid for by Bexley or by Crossrail.

If you add all the numbers above, you get 1,143. But this includes the 237 trees planted between April 2017 and March 2018, before Bexley Conservatives were making their wish. Subtracting them takes you down to 906. So there’s your answer. 1,000 trees were not planted.

(How many trees were planted? That’s where all the choices above come in. You definitely need to subtract a portion of the 2020/21 total, to remove January-March 2021. If you believe that “by 2020” meant “by the beginning of 2020”, the 2020/21 total has to go in its entirety, and a large chunk of the 2019-21 numbers as well. And then there are the 129 Crossrail trees. Depending on these choices, you will end up somewhere between 600 and 850).

I hope this was helpful. If you feel that I answered your question, perhaps you can withdraw it so that mine, slotted next in the April 13 agenda, has a better chance of being answered? (Wouldn’t you like to know if a council-tax rebate may be coming, to compensate us for the Summer of Stink? How much did Bexley claw back from Serco for the weeks without service?) If not, I too will look forward to the response of Cabinet Member Craske.

Best regards,

Dimitri

 

11 April (Part 1) - Energy from Octopussy, bills from the Casino Royale

My Octopus Smart Meter continues to both intrigue and annoy. The display unit provides an enormous amount of useful information and as a concept is really well thought out; the problem is that some reports appear to be confusing or maybe just plain Thunderballs.

One of my correspondents thinks that stealing a few pence a day from every customer is a deliberate ploy that rakes in millions over the course of a year and I am beginning to think he may be on to something. Is it all a bit of a Connery?

It is particularly annoying that some - not all - of Octopus support staff assume that customers are idiots. I know that 1961 is a long time ago but I scored the school’s highest mark when I passed my ְ‘A’ Level GCE. I may have forgotten most of it but I do know the difference between on and off and that a kilowatt is not a kilowatt hour.

In pursuit of a scientific explanation I have indulged in a few experiments that are probably not available to totally sane people, but the gas has been off at the main valve for more than half of the past week. For three days it was off from midnight to midnight because anything less makes a conclusion difficult to reach.

On those three days the display unit reported that I will be charged 45 pence, 27 pence and absolutely nothing. The standing charge for gas happens to be 27 pence but if that explains Day 2, how come Day 3 is zero?

Octopus Energy told me that on Day 1 I must have got up and turned the boiler on in the middle of the night because that is when their records say the gas was consumed. My boiler has no timer facility, it broke long ago, and I did not get out of bed at all on any of the three nights of the experiment. I certainly didn’t wander into the front garden in my PJs to tug at the main gas valve.

Octopus have conceded that “it is a bit odd” but no proper explanation has been offered. They have said the standing charge is added after midnight but whether it is added to the previous day or the current one I do not know. Similarly I do not know where the VAT is applied.

The electricity is easier to check. My electric car charging and solar inverter apps send me consumption data and Octopus’s display unit provides pretty much the same numbers during the day. I am going to assume it records consumption accurately. However the overall numbers still do not add up.

For example at 07:30 this morning the display told me I had used 2·51 kilowatt hours of electricity since midnight and the total cost was £1·18. The unit charge is reported by the same device to be 29·63 pence and the standing charge 31·88 pence. 2·51x29·63 makes 74 pence and even including the standing charge it falls quite a way short of £1·18.

It would be confusing if the tariff shown excludes VAT but the calculated price doesn’t. That would be madness wouldn’t it?

I asked Octopus if they could provide a Quantum of Solace. They did…

The weather is cold, someone in the house may be unwell or I may have jumped into my hot tub. As If the World Was Not Enough I may have left my immersion heater on or exchanged my gas hob for an electric one, or an appliance has gone faulty. A child could Knock The Living Daylights out of such pathetic excuses.

But maybe an appliance has gone faulty, like their meter display unit possibly. Not a word about my simple bit of arithmetic.

 

10 April (Part 3) - Two views

Buried too deep to find among my file of anonymous emails is one from 2021 that complains that Bexley Council has become very slow to settle its bills. Last week there was another but there was also some Capita related news.
Door

Click image to follow Capita link.

Whether it has really improved efficiency is debatable.

Cable
FraudBexley Council’s Finance Director has very close connections to Capita. He worked for them at Barnet Council which has outsourced pretty much everything to Capita.

 

10 April (Part 2) - But never in Bexley…

Daily MailIn recent days both the Telegraph and the Daily Mail have related how Council zealots have over-reached themselves when checking homes for their suitability for accommodating Ukrainian refugees.

Power sockets too close to the skirting boards which might be difficult for the disabled, a lack of gas safety certificates, fire alarms which are not interlinked, bare wooden floors which would not cushion a child’s fall, Insufficient insulation - that sort of thing.

However Bexley Council is not one of those singled out by the press and I doubt they could be. Their Housing Services Manager is absolutely satisfied that what you see here is completely acceptable.
Door Cable All is well
I have failed to contact the lady who Dianne Blazer dismisses as some sort of crank which is a bit worrying. Thanks to the damp her health was not good.

 

10 April (Part 1) - Dave’s departure

Van Van VanI think I am just about emerging from three months of being occupied with a load of household repairs and rearrangements and life may soon resume a more normal course, but I don’t think I will go back to looking at Facebook.

It was not a conscious decision to boycott it, I came to realise that a shortage of time had caused me to give it a miss for a couple of weeks and that I had not missed it one bit.

It may explain how I failed to see Councillor Putson’s farewell message which appeared on social media.
Good bye letter

Click extract above to read all of Dave’s thank you letter.

It reminds me that it was Dave Putson who managed to arrange the clearance of two vans which had been dumped barely 30 yards from my house circa 2009 when this area was represented by Conservative Councillors.

It was also Dave who tried to help when I saw that some nearby trees were leaning at an alarming angle. The owner says they are safe but they seem to have leaned further since then.

It could be said that former Labour Councillor Dave Putson became an Independent because he was too far to the left for Bexley Labour and Councillor Hackett became Independent for being too far to the right but I have no real understanding of Labour politics. If I did I might understand why they think it is a good idea to bring back their former Leader. The one who raised Council Tax by 40% over four years and who told me that the Chief Executive and his Directors deserved a pay rise when the total pay package was worth a quarter of a million.

 

9 April (Part 2) - Phantom questions

There will be an unprecedented event at next week’s Full Council meeting in Bexley. Seven members of the public are down to ask a total of nine questions.

But all is not quite what you are meant to think.

Messrs. Brooks, Curtois, and di Netimah are wannabe Tory Councillors masquerading as members of the public and Mr. Shvorob is an undisguised member of the public hoping to be elected to Council as a member of the public representing Sidcup ward.

As one might expect of the Tories their questions are designed to allow an element of grandstanding by the Leader and her Cabinet. Please brag about investments in services. Please bullshit about the number of trees planted. (If I was a Falconwood voter Frazer Brooks could kiss goodbye to my vote if I thought he had chosen that question, but probably he had it foisted upon him.)

Felix di Netimah asks something which may provoke an interesting answer. What has the Council achieved over the past four years? I have often wondered.

Dimitri Shvorob as a real member of the public asks questions which the average resident may find more interesting. What was the financial impact of the bin strike? And more provocatively, please explain the apparent panic (and possible skullduggery?) surrounding the £40,000 party in the park?

Paul McQuillen’s question is puzzling, referring as it does to aircraft noise in the South of the borough caused by London City Airport. I thought that was a Northern problem. He follows up with wanting us to walk and cycle everywhere. With any luck he will be filibustered out of contention. The record is a full 30 minutes by the Leader ten years ago.

 

9 April (Part 1) - Phantom power

Gas usageThe Smart Meter display is very revealing and right now is showing zero consumption; the solar panels being sufficient to run this computer.

It also reveals phantom gas consumption. Yesterday I said I had asked Octopus Energy how they could justify charging me 45 pence for gas over a 24 hour period when the main valve at the meter was turned off. The standing charge is only 27 pence.

At the time there had been no answer but on Friday evening there was. “You can see that on the 7th there was gas used during the night, did you have the water heater or heating on through the night?”

Either Octopus don’t read the questions properly or like to insult customers’ intelligence. I had said that the main valve was turned off. As it happens I never have the boiler on overnight because the noise it makes disturbs me. Furthermore the boiler clock broke at least ten years ago and I control the thing only by its on/off switch and I think I would know if I got up in the night and gone outside in my pyjamas to restore the gas supply.

The main valve has been off since about 5:30 yesterday evening. Will history repeat itself?

 

8 April (Part 2) - Labouring the point

Tory taxesThe Labour election leaflets have been landing in Belvedere today, I received two - different ones - this morning. Both may be viewed in the usual place.

They seemed to be fair enough and cover the subjects near to Labour hearts. Housing certainly but also the Conservatives’ lack of respect for voters. I assume they mean the non-stop lying and deceit.

It really is difficult to identify things that have improved in Bexley under 16 years of Tory rule. Many a time I have asked but never been given an answer.

The proof reading is a little bit below par here and there and ‘parking charges up’ gets to be repetitive. But it might be justified. Bexley’s charges have gone up many times under Tory rule and not just by the sneaky 10% that was once the norm. The most recent one was an eye-watering 30% with charges up to £3·50 an hour in some places.

Garden waste removal now costs twice what it did when introduced and infinitely more than under Labour or in Greenwich,

 

8 April (Part 1) - Green taxing us back to the stone age

TweetIf you regularly look at Twitter you may have noticed that I used it on 19th March to complain about Octopus Energy. This was because they didn’t answer the phone and have - even now - never answered an email. Why companies prefer disgruntled customers to go public I have no idea but it seems to be a widespread practice.

The issue was that Octopus installed a smart meter at my request on 24th February and the Home Display Unit did not work. I asked for the smart meter because Octopus do some interesting tariffs for electric car owners who have smart meters.

The problem was that the meters were sending presumably correct readings back to Octopus but the display unit was showing zero consumption and cost for electricity and appeared to be in free wheeling mode for gas. It was showing quite high figures for gas even on days when I cut off the supply completely at the incoming meter.

After a false start a couple of weeks ago week the meter miraculously came alive on Tuesday this week and now actually shows zero for gas when it is turned right off. However the charge is said to be 45 pence while the standing charge is 27 pence, both figures being shown on the display unit. As yet Octopus have no explanation for that. (The gas was completely off at the main tap for 48 hours.)

There are various other things that remain a little puzzling. The latest bill estimates my total energy consumption at £1,363.33 a year but says I should be paying £172 a month. Is that the 54% increase?

Yesterday their display unit said my total consumption on the latest tariffs would cost only £2·31. I know I was out all day but that would not have made much difference. On a bright day the solar panels easily supply the house except when the kettle goes on (a penny a cup according the the display) and I don’t have the gas central heating on during the day anyway. (There is no one here to moan at me.)


The main load comes from turning on the TV in the evening and last night a new YouTube video (https://youtu.be/4mp0aYN76PM) told me quite a lot about why we are paying such stupid prices for fuel. Stupid politicians have organised a stupid system.

Plug Life Television is an occasional broadcast by Euan McTurk with whom I once shared a table at an electric vehicle convention. At the time he was a professor of something to do with batteries and green energy at a Scottish University. He is a bit of a lefty and green fanatic but his facts and figures are always very illuminating.

If you don’t wish to get very annoyed about how Government policy is jacking up your energy costs I suggest you avoid looking at Euan’s latest video.

Smart meters do not reduce your energy consumption but the associated display is intended to frighten you into doing something about it. My computer equipment now goes right off when not in use because several lights on the motherboard remain on while plugged in and my house lights were halogen instead of LED.

I bought a pack of six LEDs for £9 which has halved the consumption and replaced four tungsten bulbs in multi-light fittings which were there to provide instant light in the days when halogens were slow to start up. The new LEDs are both brighter for half the wattage and come on instantly. The base load; clocks, fridges, radio etc. is now down by about 30%.

Perhaps I should have bought a smaller amplifier to decode the Dolby Atmos but do I really want to be a greenie favouring stone age living?

 

7 April - Are you going to vote for liars?

Yesterday I was persuaded to attend the first day of 2022 cricket at Lords; on a freebie ticket obviously, I am not totally mad, but I think it will be quite some while before I thaw out. While sheltering in the Members’ Pavilion after 4 p.m. Bexley Tories put out a lying Tweet. A theme they have used before, that car parking is cheap in Bexley.

I Googled for the nearest car park to Greenwich Town Centre and found Burney Street which sits between the northern entrance to the Park and the Cutty Sark which makes it the closest to the central shopping area.

Below is what I found…

Tory lie Greenwich Parking charges Greenwich Parking charges

Greenwich charges a small fraction of what Greenwich judges to be reasonable. £3·60 for ten hours instead of £4·70 for four hours. If those hours are in the evening it is far worse. Bexley charges, Greenwich doesn’t.

Lying about car parking charges is an old theme by Bexley Conservatives; they have been doing it on an off for the past ten years. In 2011 it prompted a comparison which may be seen here.

For the record most annual season tickets in Bexley are closer to £2,000 than £1,135 and even the £4·70 is not entirely true. The cash fee is £4·90 and there is a Ringo “Convenience charge” too. Do Bexley Tories lie? At every opportunity.

 

6 April (Part 2) - You couldn’t make it up, but they did

ManifestoBexley Conservatives are once more relying on the gullible to ensure a fifth election victory. “Bexley is a low tax borough”. “We have fulfilled all our Manifesto promises.” All total nonsense obviously but it is a technique that seem to work.

The claims made for trees, schools, new green spaces and more houses have already been comprehensively debunked and where is the world class digital network that they were going to “boost”? Has O’Neill usurped O’Penreach? It would appear not.

The Independent candidate for Sidcup ward is not one to twiddle his thumbs, preferring to dig into the morass of balderdash and bull**** which is Bexley Council.

“Where are the wi-fi hotspots?” he asked. “How are you getting on with the roll out of superfast broadband?”

Bexley Council provided the official answers.

There is no Council wi-fi and providing broadband is none of our business.

The failure to get the Elizabeth Line open is down to Sadiq Clown of course but the extension to Ebbsfleet is a non-starter on which £4·85 million has been wasted already. It was never likely to be a goer and even less so now that the fair ground in a quarry has been scuppered.

Wi-Fi

No Wi-fi despite the electoral claim.

Broadband

No Broadband (but there may one day be fast connections between Council sites, funded by the GLA.

The Independent candidate for Sidcup is Dimitri Shvorob. If you are lucky enough to live in that ward you have an interesting alternative to the usual suspects. Be sure to scroll down the long list of candidates until you get well past B for Bacon.

 

6 April (Part 1) - Abstention it is then. Sorry Sally

When taking a look at the newly published election candidate nominations two things stood out like a sore thumb. Some Council numbskull had decided to split the file into its 17 component parts (wards) instead of the usual single PDF thereby massively increasing the amount of work required to make any sort of summary, and the ridiculously high number of candidates who had taken advantage of the 2019 law change that allows them to withhold their address.

My immediate reaction was that I would not vote for any candidate that put secrecy above openness but it is going to make no difference to my vote, I had decided that I couldn’t support any Conservative unless I was assured that he or she intended to rebel against the lying elite. (In Belvedere all the Conservatives hide behind the new law and all the Labour candidates are honest and above board.)

However Belvedere ward is not typical. There are 112 candidates for Bexley’s 45 seats and secretive Labour exceed secretive Conservatives by more than two to one. (28 Labour, 13 Conservative and 18 ‘Other’.)

If I took that first reaction too far I would, in another ward, find myself voting for Craske and Read!

My voting intentions have wandered all over the place. The Conservatives are definitely ruled out - for consistent lying obviously - but I cannot bring myself to vote for a party whose local Vice-Chair likened me to Mosley for my views on violent police officers and whose Secretary set out to cause me legal expenses by sending a solicitor’s letter threatening action if I did not remove all reference to her from this blog.

She had never been named here but her unjustified complaints against Councillors Read and Hackett had been fully exposed. It is difficult to support a Labour Party Leadership that cannot stamp out their rogue elements.

 

5 April - Back for Round 2

The Forester's ArmsTwo years ago West Wickham Councillors were not at all happy at the owner’s plan to build four three bedroom houses on the car park of The Forester’s Arms in Upper Wickham Lane. In due course the planning application was rejected on the grounds that the loss of the car park might make the pub unviable and the on-street parking situation was already less than perfect.

Undeterred the applicant who demolished both The Drayman and Fanny on the Hill, is back with a more modest proposal. Two semi-detached units and only two bedrooms each but maybe not that modest - the building cost is said to be up to £2 million.

Bexley’s demolished pubs have a history of being developed by the same company. The Drayman, Fanny on the Hill and Ye Olde Leather Bottle all fell into its hands. Who will build on the Forester’s car park? Time will tell.

22/00416/FUL.

 

4 April - Bent? You bet they are!

The Metropolitan Police are definitely corrupt. I didn’t need an eight year investigation by a Home Office sponsored panel to tell me that, I know it because of the several hundred documents filed in the cabinet behind me right now. I could say the same of the Kent Police, once backed into a corner they will lie to me and they will lie to an MP too. Probably it is the same in every force.

I recently commented on the Met’s own investigation into the failures that led the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel enquiry into pronouncing them “Institutionally Corrupt” and hopefully backed it with plausible evidence. They were corrupt 35 years ago and, in a possibly different way, still are. Unsurprisingly the Met said they weren’t corrupt and commissioned an independent enquiry to prove it.

Thanks to my links to the Morgan family and their journalist friend I am able to tell you a little of how the Met came to that conclusion.

UntouchablesFirstly the squad chosen to investigate their failures was one involved in the earlier mistakes, or as the DMIP preferred to summarise it; corruption. The squad is known as The Untouchables, which just happened to be the title of one of the earliest books about the Daniel Morgan murder.

it would appear that The Untouchables convened a workshop last November to look into the alleged corruption but refuses to say who attended apart from Met officers. The conclusion by the anonymous workshop panel is that they “believed the MPS was not institutionally corrupt” but there is scant evidence to support that view; something which contrasts starkly with the DMIP’s ample evidence of how they reached their conclusion.

The report itself provides just one clue to the workshop membership. One was the Professor of Policing at Bath University. Independent? Probably not.

As one might expect of someone with such a title, the professor is closely associated with the police and set up the John Grieve Centre for Policing and Community Safety. John Grieve being the founder of the squad which carried out the recent investigation. Independent? Almost certainly not.

One of the professor’s current police associates is a Commander specifically criticised by the DMIP for his personal failures in connection with the Daniel Morgan investigations. Independent? You must be joking.

The Met’s recent report claims that the professor “independently” clears them of corruption but it is accepted that there was no peer review. Corruption is so endemic that they no longer recognise what it is.

The Policing Minister Kit Malthouse has told Alastair Morgan that he knew nothing of these links.

The foregoing is independently in the public domain.

 

3 April - Resources scrutinised

The Resources Scrutiny Committee met this week to discuss High Streets and Business Improvement Districts. As you might expect, Covid got the blame for anything that was not quite wonderful but £9·5 million of Government money has been distributed since the middle of 2020 to alleviate problems. 955 businesses benefited directly. There are more than 9,000 businesses registered in Bexley and self employed traders on top of that. Most beneficiaries were in hospitality, retail and leisure.

Councillor, businessman and one time Resources Committee Chairman Andy Dourmoush congratulated the two man team which successfully kept many businesses afloat during the pandemic and asked if they had to deal with any fraudulent grant applications. Only two apparently.

Shop vacancy levels are no worse than before the pandemic.

Councillor Peter Reader (Conservative, West Heath) asked about the problem caused by an influx of school children to town centres between 3 and 6 p.m. but there was no response to it. (The microphones muted for 11 seconds so it is possible there was a very brief one.)

Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, Slade Green) was also concerned about safety but later in the day. The evening and the so called nighttime economy. “In Welling the punks and rockers seem to have come back”; presumably a reference to the number of takeaway scooters zooming around.

It was accepted that the pedestrian area of Bexleyheath can get “quite empty” in the evening and may be seen as a threat.

Councillor Dourmoush said that a Sub-Committee reported quite some while ago (before the appointment of Cabinet Member Munur) that pop-up markets improved town centre footfall and some adjacent car parks were empty at the weekend but the recommendation has never been acted upon. “It has gone down the Cabinet Member’s black hole.”

The current Cabinet Member said he would look into it and Councillor O’Hare backed the idea. “Greenwich, Lewisham and Swanley do markets brilliantly, Bexley doesn’t.” It was explained that markets in Bexley are legally constrained by historic charters which limit their creation within sheep driving distance of chartered markets and Bexleyheath is too close to Dartford.

The consensus was that the 200 year old charters should be challenged.

 

2 April - If you are going to tell a whopper, make it big and say it often

A Bexley whopperThe tree planting numbers were manipulated in order to get close to the target.

The all schools to be rated good or outstanding promise was missed by a wide margin.

There was no sign of the extra two hectares of green space.

Eight thousand new homes are nowhere near to being built.

If there are public wi-fi hotspots they were not provided by Bexley Council and the promised litter picking penalties were actually introduced early in 2016 so had no business being in the 2018 Manifesto at all. The Council issued a Press Release about it.

The biggest lie of all remains the one about Bexley being a low tax borough. In 2021/22 only seven London Councils levied higher taxes than Bexley. That may change this year, Barnet Council, for example, already about 6% cheaper than Bexley, has frozen its Council Tax at last year’s level.

2018 Manifesto.

 

1 April - Your faltering NHS

The item that affects almost everyone and discussed at last week’s Communities Scrutiny meeting was the Health Service and how will it ever recover from its woeful performance over the past two years. Maybe never if what I hear on radio phone-ins is correct. Is the service really managed by inhuman tyrants?

It was admitted that in Bexley “health checks were suspended while GPs focused on vaccinations for a period of time. Checks on long term conditions were stepped down”; all with no obvious reference to the people who will have suffered as a direct result.

Attendance at Emergency Departments is running at an all time high, more than 1,000 a day at Lewisham and Greenwich, 600 of them to Queen Elizabeth Hospital which makes things “extremely difficult”. Nationally imposed Covid restrictions continue to hamper the provision of local health services and there are very considerable difficulties with staff recruitment made far worse by Sadiq Khanְ’s Ultra Low Emission Zone. (QEH is a short distance inside the boundary.)

A survey is to be conducted to see if the anecdotal evidence that increased attendance at A&E is the result of GPs neglect of their responsibilities is justified.

Despite the Agenda item being titled ‘Local Health Service Recovery Plans’ that subject was not debated, however documentation provided to Councillors spoke of achieving zero delays, making the NHS a great place to work and to be the best employer, meeting national requirements, listening to focus groups and running staff seminars. Notice anything new there? No, me neither.

 

News and Comment April 2022

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