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News and Comment June 2022

Index: 2019202020212022

30 June - Keep taking the medicine

Chris TaylorWhat used to be the Adults’ Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee is never happy with its name. Having at one time included Children in the title and then dropped it, it has attempted to justify its existence by adding Health to its portfolio.

The first meeting last night was chaired by new Councillor and long standing Leader’s favourite Chris Taylor who pocketed the additional £9,000 allowance and raced through the Agenda in a commendable 90 minutes exactly.

There were only two significant items on the Agenda. A presentation on the relatively new Community Pharmacy Programme and how criticism of the unlawful Adult Social Care Charging Policy by the Local Government Ombudsman would be mitigated.

The presentation focused on Covid and the reluctance of some to take up the offers of vaccination. Lack of understanding, safety, fertility, pregnancy and blood clotting were all identified as factors. Pharmacist interventions resulted in 6,094 people across SE London agreeing to the vaccination.

We learned that 89% of the population in South East London lived within a 20 minute walk of a pharmacy and 46 pharmacies are in Bexley. However only about 20 took part in the Community Pharmacy Programme and the non-participants were the big corporates. The Community Programme will move on to the other major health issues such as smoking, obesity, alcohol misuse and blood pressure.

After a twelve week consultation on the Adult Social Care Charging Policy, the new arrangements will include a cap on the maximum arrangement fees and an appeals process. The Agenda indicated that 102 people are affected and 50 of them will now pay less than under the criticised arrangements and 51 will be paying more with one not changed.

Councillor James Hunt asked a question which suggested he had not noticed those figures but the Council Officer claimed not to know them either.

The full arrangements are far too extensive for effective summary but is available here. (PDF.)


29 June - The first anniversary of the Serco bin strike…

…is to be commemorated by repeating the event. To quote Bexley Council’s website.

We are very disappointed that Unite members employed by Countrystyle Recycling have voted in favour of industrial action.

Many people are facing challenges as a result of the increasing cost of living and we hope that Unite and Countrystyle will do everything possible to reach a negotiated settlement to the dispute.

Our number one priority at this stage is to ensure plans are in place to reduce the impact of any action on our residents.

The strike is set to begin on 12th July and currently set to last for two weeks.

So much for “We have a longstanding relationship with Unite. They are supportive of us.”

Who said that? CountryStyle Recycling.


26 June - I joined the club

Covid TestI was beginning to feel left out, almost everyone I know has had it but I refused to become paranoid about the Chinese flu and never did.

Then on Friday morning I acquired a bit of a cough and by 9 p.m. had minor flu symptoms and took myself to bed early. A bit sweaty and a little under the weather on Saturday morning but not enough to prevent me tackling a concreting job in the front garden. I should have finished it but lethargy won as it does all too frequently as the next big birthday gets perilously closer.

Today things are quite a lot better, overheated perhaps but not seriously unwell and improving all the time.

The mystery is where did it come from. I went with friends to a flying display at Duxford last Sunday. I took the Liz line for a very quick visit to my daughter on Monday and I had a visitor on Wednesday. None of my known contacts are unwell.


23 June - Seen it all before

Bexley Council always seems to go quiet in the Summer months. There are no meetings that might tempt me away from the TV screen (*) until the beginning of next month and even that clashes with something else.

So on a slightly disappointing June day - where has the sun gone? - down go an old man’s recollections of strikes, their causes and their motivation.

The current period of public service disruption, railways today with teachers, postal and health service workers lining up behind them, brings back a whole load of recollections for me. From 1963 through to 1985 I frequently found myself negotiating with unions at local, regional and occasionally national level. Has anything changed since then?

It wasn’t my full time job but a necessary part of a management role in the General Post Office Telephone Service and its successors. No training was given, it was a case of just muddle through and try not to make the same mistake twice.

I soon learned that the quality of management was almost universally abysmal and union officials sometimes - definitely not always - spiteful, politically motivated and not interested in their membership.

Among my earliest recollections is the Polish lady who ran the local branch of the Union of Post Office Workers (UPW), circa 1964, teaching me that it was not advisable to drink the unpronounceable brand of vodka she brought back from Warsaw.

I also recall that when the MINcing Lane operator calls were to be transferred from the [Throgmorton] AVEnue exchange to ROYal [Mint] in 1965, no staff volunteered to transfer half a mile down the road.

With no agreement on how to choose the ‘volunteers’, the Polish lady went over my head to a boss who agreed that she personally should be allowed to make the selection. The aforesaid boss had forgotten that AVEnue staff were represented not only by the UPW but also the much smaller, but unrecognised locally, National Guild of Telephonists. An early lesson on how senior management in the Civil Service was so very often ignorant. All the transferees were NGT members. I forget how that one was sorted out.

Directory EnquiriesIn the later 1960s the need for operators began to recede with the coming of Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) but there was no respite for Directory Enquiries. In the whole of London there was only me and two assistants looking after DQ as it was called.

To cope with the rapid expansion we designed a simple and cheap new enquiry suite formed of readily available office tables instead of the massive purpose designed switchboards used hitherto. The picture is of the one in Putney to which I was a frequent visitor although certain features indicate it predates my involvement.

We found some spare accommodation at Forest Gate exchange and I rang the manager there to fix an inspection date. Upon my return I was hauled into the big boss’s office for a dressing down about not having sought the union’s permission to visit the exchange. My protestations that it was the local manager’s job and not mine cut no ice.

Imagine it. The senior management in the GPO thought that they could not look inside a telephone exchange without union permission.

The new enquiry suite in Forest Gate proved to be a success and we installed another in Orpington but my relationship with Mr. Cobbold never recovered. He was not impressed by me keeping at least some parts of Directory Enquiries going through the Post Office strike of 1971. On the day decimal currency was introduced I was crossing a picket line in St. Albans.

After producing the first computer compiled telephone directory (the Sunbury local) I managed to get away to the only job that took me to union headquarters in Clapham, visiting at various times between 1971 and 1975. During those years the union people were happy to tell me to my face that it didn’t matter whether management conceded their demands or not, they were going to stay on strike. The subject matter was the International Telegram Service and the fact that it would die if not modernised was of no interest to them. Impeding progress was their game and political mayhem their only objective.

Around ten years later the same people told me in response to my direct question that their primary ambition was “to wreck the careers of as many senior management as possible”.

In the late 1970s, because it was my area of expertise, I was summoned to the Director’s office where he had got himself in a muddle negotiating with regional union officials. I dug him out of his hole and was rewarded with a letter of thanks which said he had no idea that middle managers could negotiate with unions so successfully. What an arrogant bastard thinking that only those who had risen to the very top knew how things worked. Probably I should not have told him so.

I became more and more convinced that management was almost always incompetent and whenever they felt it necessary, they would lie. They were distrusted by union officials and stalemate was the norm for negotiations. After taking on a new responsibility I promised the union people there that I would resign my new role if they ever caught me out lying or deceiving them.

This evolved into a code whereby I would scratch my nose if the management team was bulls****ing at meetings and this eventually translated into my unit becoming more productive than any other and the least strike prone. For some reason the men, who traditionally worked through the night, were much more amenable to change than the females who predominated during the day. (Until the Equal Opportunities Act of 1974 the demarcation had been absolute.)

Because the men were generally more cooperative - and that may translate into being more easily drunk under the table - some telephone exchanges were able to operate an on-demand call service at night to many countries which were pre-booking only by day. Neither the Union HQ or senior management knew about the faster service provided until the Canadian authorities sent a thank you letter to my boss and let the cat out of the bag. (†)

Typical of management at the time, he was not happy about it. Customer service was of little interest to them, following union instructions was always the priority.

Incompetent management not knowing arse from elbow was always a problem. One year, just before Christmas at a time when some families could only keep in touch via a pre-booked overseas telephone call an HQ imposed budget would stretch to a maximum of 96 operators on duty. Fortunately my calculations, which the union accepted, showed I would only need 88. They nevertheless refused to settle for anything less than 96 and took their case to the man who had dictated the 96 staff limit. He gave them 102. The union men could hardly stop laughing.

Most of them were flexible enough for me to get along with and probably they are all long since dead from alcohol or nicotine poisoning. They never did a day’s work and spent their lives in the pub. All Irishmen or Scottish for some reason. Full time union officials were paid as if they were telephone operators and not by the union.

One lower down the pecking order was Ray who commuted in from Brighton and was a huge Margaret Thatcher fan. In a quiet moment I told him that I thought we were about 30% overstaffed and his response was that if I allowed him to choose who to get rid of he’d lose 50% of the staff and no one would notice the difference. That never happened and it was a bit too reminiscent of the Polish lady at AVEnue exchange many years before.

No one truly came out on top of these battles, the management didn’t have a clue, none had ever done the job they were supposedly in charge of (††) and the union officials at HQ level refused to see how technology would eventually remove their members’ jobs.

If one fails to heed the lessons of history the mistakes will be repeated. Not a single one of the buildings I worked in remain, at least not in their original form. I am only in fairly regular contact with one former work associate apart from four that remain on a Christmas card list. That one is the Union official with whom I worked through the 1970s. There would not be much to say to former managers if a falling out was to be avoided.

* Still no TV licence but YouTube and an expanding collection of UHD discs provide an entirely adequate replacement.
† The night time procedural changes directly affected UK callers only but the necessary engineering adjustments also improved all services routing across London and terminating in another country. Automation ensures that none of that happens in 2022.
†† There was no progression route from telephone exchange work into management.


22 June (Part 2) - The French revolution

I am really pleased and not a little relieved to be able to report good news about Bexley’s newest MP. He has at last replied to my friend Elwyn’s enquiries about #partygate.

As I would hope was clear from that earlier blog I recognise that Louie French as a new MP yet to carve out his own secure niche in Westminster, is in an unenviable position when constituents are intent on putting him on the spot.

Maybe I am naive but I believe and hope that Louie sees Bexley residents as his priority and not the greasy pole that leads to a fat pay cheque and a Knighthood. I also remain uncomfortable with quoting everything he might say to a constituent although he probably knows that is one of the perils of his job. Maybe the following extract from a much longer reply will convince old school Conservatives like me that Louie is not a totally lost cause.

… given this was a secret ballot, I do not intend to make a statement [on #partygate]. However, having spoken with hundreds of local residents in recent weeks, I am very conscious of people’s views. Some of the messages that I am hearing over and over again is that people do not want a Labour led Government and they want the Government to focus on the big issues that the country faces, including the cost of living and the war in Ukraine. Alongside a range of local issues that I am working hard to solve, this will be my focus over the summer months and I believe fundamentally that we require more common sense Conservative policies.

It seems entirely reasonable to me although I would hope that the final comment means getting policies that are traditional Conservative and not an implication that we need more of the common sense Conservative policies we are already getting; because there are none which affect the ordinary man in the street. Paying off or bribing rich donors doesn’t count.


22 June (Part 1) - It’s all about the money

TweetThe indefatigable Mr. Mustard from Barnet in North London monitors and where necessary fights unfair parking penalties. It’s his hobby which constantly threatens to become a full time job.

A case he noticed and has written about on his blog concerns 81 year old Bexley resident Charles Devine. He was given a ticket after paying £4·90 to leave his car in Bexleyheath’s Cinema car park. Octogenarian he may be but is not the sort of man who takes such things lying down.

Ideally you should read for the full story on Mr. Mustard’s blog but Google analytics tells me that BiB readers do not usually follow links so I hope he will excuse me for providing the basics here.

Like me, Mr. Devine is less than confident with Smartphone apps and prefers to use the phone for what the things were designed for. He called Ringo and spoke to them in the old fashioned way, quoting the number plate in front of his eyeballs at the time, but an F was recorded as an S.

My employment on International telephony at a time when most calls were connected by operators impressed on me that those two letters are a bit of a nightmare. Hence F for Frederick and S for Sugar. (Other industries used different codes.)

Bexley Council accepted that a fee was paid and at exactly the time that Mr. Devine parked but was too stupid, vindictive, short of cash (take your pick) to recognise the obvious. That their operator recorded Mr. Devine’s number incorrectly.

What other plausible explanation could there be?

But so stupid is Bexley Council that they allowed the case to go to the Adjudicator and deservedly lost.

Will someone in management at Bexley Council be shown the door for a proven lack of commons sense and for wasting taxpayer’s money on adjudication fees? Of course not.


21 June - Noxious taxation

TweetDare BiB step into the ULEZ debate again?

Firstly it should be explained that the cleverly named @blackandblueone is a Conservative Councillor in Bexley and @lovelacegeezer was Vice-Chair of Old Bexley & Sidcup Labour until he was replaced by Dave Tingle, about whom more later.

I’m not sure if Felix is right to blame ULEZ extension wholly on Sadiq Khan. If I remember correctly it was Boris Johnson who first came up with the idea but his timetable for introduction was far more reasonable giving time for older vehicles to be replaced naturally.

Felix’s point about being able to buy a licence to pollute for £12·50 a day is not easy to refute. If Khan was more interested in public health than raising money he would simply ban non-compliant private cars.

Mr. Lovelace suggests a simpler and perhaps more acceptable solution; limiting engine size. Most requirements could be met with small or medium size cars. Once again commercial vehicles would require special consideration but London’s commercial success is not something in which Khan has ever been interested.

In related Tweets Mr. Tingle the habitual Labour election candidate has advocated selling non-compliant cars and using the money to buy something that is Khan-proof.

That may be possible if one is prepared to go down market but if you favour that route, best do it now rather than later. The Labour Vice-Chair may not have taken account of the fact that non-compliant vehicles will soon be worthless except perhaps in rural areas. The price of compliant vehicles is likely to rise, they seem to be doing so already.

Last week the government raised the price of the most affordable electric vehicles by £1,500 with knock on effects on the price of second hand vehicles. Mine could be sold for pretty much the same price as I paid new in 2018. Boris’s Britain is mad at pretty much every level.

The alternative is to do as two of my friends have, buy a 1974 MG-B or an even older Austin. Both are big time pollutants but exempt from Khan’s money grabbing scheme.


20 June - French goes into hiding

I suppose it would be in bad taste to link another joke about Chickenpox to the French and how when the pressure is on they have earned a reputation for disappearing over the horizon? Tempting though.

Back in January Bexley resident Elwyn Bryant wrote to his new MP Louie French to seek his view on #partygate and whether he thought that Boris Johnson should resign as Prime Minister. Louie very quickly replied on 20th January to say he would wait for the Sue Gray report before commenting.

Elwyn was not totally happy with such a response and wrote to tell his MP how he felt. Once again Louie French replied in what I considered to be an entirely reasonable way given that a police investigation was by then in progress.

Elwyn asked me to be critical of Louie here but I made no further report to the correspondence and Elwyn agreed to be patient.

It took a long time for it to see the light of day but eventually the Gray report became available and at the end of May Elwyn sent the MP a reminder of the promise made on 20th January.

There was no acknowledgment of any description and once again Elwyn wanted me to make a fuss about it on BiB. I explained that if every last bit of his correspondence with Louie French MP ended up on public display here it placed the MP in an impossible situation and would be likely to guarantee no response to anything in future.

Louie had been given one favourable mention here in January and I considered the most productive course was to leave it at that. I may have been putting a strain on my relationship with Elwyn but it is not always a good idea to go in with all guns blazing.

TweetYet another letter went in, this time highlighting the fact that David Evennett had made his position clear on #partygate so why not French.

Once again no reply and my conversation with Elwyn went along the same lines as before. “You do know that if this is blown open on BiB you will have burned your bridges and you never will get a reply?”

Elwyn said there was nothing to lose and revealed that on top of the three letters there had been four phone calls and on very single occasion he had been given the brush off and not allowed to discuss his MP’s position on #partygate.

Surely it is not all that difficult to say that it is a question on which he would prefer not to give an answer? It would not be particularly honorable but at least it doesn’t rudely shout “Constituents are of no consequence and can sod off”.

Elwyn can be dangerous when let loose on the telephone and I was not surprised to hear that he had phoned the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and quoted parts of the code (PDF) to a lady he described as being very helpful. Among the many standards to be observed is…
It seems to be saying that Louie French can only remain quiet if he judges that to be in the public interest.

A bit of a stretch to fall back on that excuse but the Commissioner lady said it was all academic anyway as the MP’s Code did not apply to MPs.

Both of us are still puzzled by that one but in Boris’s Britain anything goes, so maybe the lady is right. Standards of behaviour? What a quaint idea.

It would appear that Elwyn is not alone in being ignored.
No Reply
What a way to treat the residents of Bexley. Another useless MP.


19 June - Ask a silly question…

Today was going to be a blog free day because I have to negotiate the triple whammy of no Elizabeth Line services combined with a much reduced SouthEastern service and nothing from Thameslink. Why railwaymen find the need to strike in order to further punish the travelling public I have no idea.

TweetHowever someone facilitated a quick and easy Sunday comment by asking for justification of yesterday’s blog about Khan’s money raising ULEZ.

The blog did not deny that there was a pollution problem and began by saying that BiB sometimes faces both ways and sometimes might be mischievous and yesterday’s probably fell into both camps.

Arguably by featuring what could be construed as Conservative complacency over pollution it was a little left leaning but Sadiq Khan rarely has unmitigated right on his side.

Occasionally one can see the pollution from high vantage points in Bexley (see yesterday’s old photo) and since becoming an EV driver I am perhaps more aware of exhaust fumes, but it is reducing problem. What evidence do I have for that asks Mr. his/his/himself/singular.

How about the evidence in Mr. Khan’s report?

“Annual mean Nitrogen dioxide concentrations measured at all automatic monitoring stations have constantly decreased over the 7-year period (2014-2020) for which data have been reported.”

Clear to most people but maybe not Lefties with narrow views.

I am accused of linking to Khan’s ‘evidence’ but then “dismissing it”. If picking holes in Khanְ’s report is dismissing it then I am happy to plead guilty.

Twitter profile76 Bexley schools were said to be adjacent to excessively polluted roads but twelve of them didn’t actually exceed the guidance, they equalled it. A further 19 exceeded the WHO limit by the smallest measurable margin. 13 were within the limits.

Khan failed to push those facts to the fore. They are all there for those who can be bothered to look but Messrs Khan and Broadbent would prefer that you didn’t.

Out of 89 schools 64 failed the WHO standard not 76 as stated in Khan’s report but Mitchell thinks it is me who biases the results and not the saintly Sadiq. Ultimately of course Khan can easily knock any analysis right off course, he admits that the WHO guidelines can be changed and presumably if at any time he needs more money to fund overseas jollies or his existing arguments fall apart due to current favourable trends he will do so.

The emphasis of the report is that pollution in Bexley is above the adopted limits but as it admits, by only the tiniest of amounts and Khan himself accepts that electrically powered cars are now 20% of new purchases.

Probably Bexley is borderline polluted right now as is to be expected of a borough with the worst public transport provision in London and consequently the highest per capita car ownership, but the former has been in Khan and his predecessors’ hands since 1933, so whose fault is it?

At this stage I am beginning to think that Mitchell Broadbent is a complete idiot. Apparently the diligent application of unbounded intellect deduces that I am a climate sceptic but I cannot find a reference to that subject. Khan makes passing reference to a climate emergency in his report but I chose to ignore it.

BiB has never mentioned climate change except where it is listed as a Manifesto promise. So many opportunities to rant about Climate Change and never once did so. Obviously a rabid climate sceptic - for those with unmovable preconceptions about people with whom they may not share political affiliations. The intolerant Left.

Running out of ways to pursue a weak argument, MB goes on to be critical about mickey-taking of the WHO’s assertion that the name Monkeypox is racist. Quite obviously everyone whose first thought after hearing the word Monkey is to conjure up a picture of a presumably black man has to be racist at heart. Maybe Mr. B is eyeing up the monkey wrench in his toolbox right now with malice aforethought.

TweetFinally I am accused of relying on anecdotes. Very weird. The only thing getting close to anecdotal was my reference to occasionally seeing and smelling pollution. It, if anything supports Mr. Broadbent’s blinkered view but his lack of logical argument won’t let him see it.

If someone follows a Twitter account which exists only to point readers at this blog they must know by now what to expect. Something that is critical of untruths and generally right leaning. There is plenty of choice, most blogs lean the other way.

My expectation that any contrary views I might attract will be well thought and fact based is obviously in vain. Shame.


18 June - Khanpox outbreak in London

Whilst never knowingly distorting the truth in a @bexleynews sort of way, what you read here may not always perfectly reflect my personal view. For example, the rubbish bins are not contaminated by British people but you are not allowed to be more specific any more without risking the police at your door. A few may be mischievous to provoke a response but more often I will sit on the fence because I do not have the time to argue with correspondents who will take extreme views. Air pollution is a case in point. I can sometimes see it and can frequently smell it but I am less certain about regressing civilisation to the stone age in order to remedy things. What was life expectancy before the internal combustion engine was invented and do I want to buy a bike?

With only two rivals for comparison, it’s fairly easy to conclude that Sadiq Khan has been London’s worst ever Mayor and that Councillor John Davey was not far wrong when he compared his effect on London to that of the Luftwaffe. Different methods, similar result.

I don’t believe for one moment that Khan wants to raise motoring taxes for the good of our health, his priority is raising money to waste on his management team and statue smashing and with the available statistics swinging either side of an arbitrary threshold it is easy to confuse the issue with competing claims. That’s the Mayor’s game but apparently even the best of Bexley’s Councillors feel the need to fight under the same rules.

TweetWhat is the truth of the matter?

Who really knows because the only available statistics come from Khan himself aided and abetted by those stalwarts of public integrity, the UK Health Security Agency, the London Association of Directors of Public Health and London Councils. Not to mention that apologist for China, the World Health Organisation.

Khan’s men and women found that Bexley was some 20% worse than the all England average for death attributed to particulates and outside Bexley’s twelve care homes pollution was worse than World Health Organisation guidelines in eleven of them.

76 schools fall outside the limits too but it must be said that they are judged to be a danger to life by only the smallest of margins. In the very worst case, Gravel Hill Primary, only 6% over. That couldn’t possibly be caused by Bexley Council’s carefully engineered traffic congestion could it?

By insisting on a simple Pass/Fail formula a Good/Bad pollution verdict is too open to manipulation. Most Bexley schools are either right on the limit or only one or two percentage points over. They are not especially bad and well hidden in Khan’s report is the admission that the pollution problem has been reducing in every one of the past seven years.

If ‘right on the limit’ was judged to be OK instead of a Fail. Khan’s case for more ULEZ would pretty much fall apart.

Whether the WHO can be trusted on anything after Covid is debatable now that we know that they will retrospectively redefine long held medical norms to suit their agenda.

Should one have any confidence in an organisation that wants to rename Monkeypox on the grounds that it is racist? The only people who could make a connection between monkeys and any race on earth are by definition themselves the racists.

What about renaming Chickenpox which must be an affront to the French and their predisposition to run away from any fight - or pander to Putin?

Smallpox. That must be an insult to anyone suffering from Dwarfism. Obvious beyond reasonable doubt.

Download the Mayor’s report on air pollution in Bexley (PDF) if you wish to peruse Khan’s numbers for yourself. A master class on the use of statistics to justify an addiction to money grabbing. IMHO of course.

January 2015 but nothing quite that bad since.


17 June - The answer to all life’s ills is increased taxation

You probably know that if the Mayor of London has his way, the poorer members of society will have to pay £12·50 a day to move their car from its parking place. Three local MPs, David Evennett, Louie French and Gareth Bacon, are campaigning against its impact on local residents, their visitors from outside and couriers delivering goods to their houses. Meanwhile Labour MPs are wholly in favour of hitting the people who can least afford it. It is a strange upside down world in which we now live.

Bexley Council was asked how many of its residents would be directly affected by the extension of ULEZ but they didn’t know with their FOI officer merely saying two weeks ago that “we have no data to provide in response”.

Fortunately TfL appears to have put in a little more effort into researching the pros and cons of the new tax. They were able to say that 105,249 cars and 9,893 vans were registered to Bexley addresses and 26,743 and 5,487 respectively would not comply with the regulations.

Bexley Council recently updated its website as follows…
Council website
KhanToday Bexley’s FOI office has provided information on how they came to that conclusion; there is an element of guesswork involved.

The calculation is based on three year old figures and averages for the whole of London where 19% of vehicles are considered non-compliant. 19% of an estimated 115,000 vehicles in Bexley is 21,850.

TfL’s figures were not qualified in any way, it is perfectly possible that their figures are based on similar guesses.

The only way to justify the infrastructure required to police every road in London is to move it towards a universal London wide congestion charge. As always every change to motoring law is about raising money and the worshipping of Lycra.

On the other hand on both my walks over the Harrow Manorway flyover this week I have been very aware of the smell of burnt dinosaur juice. Fortunately the Mayor acknowledged this week that 20% of new cars sold in London are plug-ins. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to recognise that the pollution problem is diminishing daily. But to do so would thwart his tax raising instincts. Maybe he is a closet Tory.

Note: All the above data has come through the former Independent candidate for Sidcup, Dimitri Shvorob.


16 June - Oblivion awaits the Conservative Party unless…

Boris Johnson appears to be on some sort of suicide mission and determined to take the country down with him. He has done absolutely nothing to steer the economy away from the rocks, instead he jacks up tax levels to those of my WW2 childhood. Not a single step towards reaping the Brexit benefits. Except that we appear to still be resented because of Trafalgar and Waterloo we may as well have stayed under the control of Brussels.

Three years after becoming Prime Minister Johnson continues to accept that British supermarkets cannot fill their shelves in Northern Ireland without going through expensive export procedures while our own south coast has open borders thanks to some unnamed nonentity in a European Court.

I very much hope that Johnson’s candidates are thrown out decisively in Wakefield (see below) and Tiverton next week, it may be the last remaining hope of drumming Conservatism into a few thick heads.

My weekly trip to Sainsbury’s this week resulted in the purchase of six items. The prices since the last time I bought them were up by 16%, 8%, 8%, 7·5%, 6% and 0%. The 0% was probably a freak related to the 50% increase on its previous purchase. Fortunately the sunshine this week has put nearly £90 into my bank account thanks to the Green Levy. Utter madness and we deserve better from Conservatives.

There is no shortage of advice and I can only assume that some enemy of the state has something over Johnson. Quoting from just one article in the Daily Telegraph we have…

• With slowly dawning horror voters have realised that the man who was once their hero is Cino - Conservative in name only.
• You may recall the euphoria of December 13 2019. We were so damned chuffed, BJ had slain the Corbyn beast. He had a golden opportunity to write a glorious chapter in the history books and he squandered it.
• What will BJ be remembered for? Wall paper and “work gatherings” in No. 10 at a time when ordinary people risked arrest if they answered an SOS from an elderly parent.
• Let’s travel up the M1 to Wakefield where a Conservative canvasser reports that things are absolutely dire on the doorstep. “Thousands of Tory voters are saying they will not turn out because of Boris. It’s grim. If we had a Conservative leader with Conservative policies we’d do alright.”
• Who knew that Tory voters are upset with a government showing no sign of being Conservative? Me and pretty much anyone who doesn’t work in the Westminster echo chamber.
• Hell hath no fury like a diehard Conservative scorned and we may be about to witness that fury’s full force.
• For months I have been hearing from lifelong Conservatives who say they will never vote Tory again until that “charlatan/buffoon/Net Zero numpty/green socialist/habitual liar” is removed.
• If Tiverton falls to the Liberal Democrats there will be 291 Conservative MPs who will be defending less safe seats.
• While BJ is merrily churning out quasi-socialist policies to shore up the Red Wall most of his MPs are at risk of being buried when the Blue Wall comes tumbling down.
• He’s Left-wing economically, sticking with the green stuff in the middle of an energy crisis for God’s sake and busy incinerating his own majority.
• There is no commitment to swerve right and be the sensible low-tax government we crave.
• Ignoring runaway immigration, punitive rises in National Insurance at a time of hardship, reform of the NHS, the ruinous commitment to Net Zero would be laughable if things weren’t so desperate.
• There is no need for character assassination of the Prime Minister. Boris is his own best assassin.
• Millions of Conservatives are desperately sad that their most entertaining and energetic performer has come to this sorry pass.

From the Torygraph of all places but it sums up my view fairly precisely.

I drew the article to the attention of a Conservative friend in Bexley and to my surprise was rewarded with “You are obviously bored. Get off my [Twitter] feed, You are insignificant.”

So I suppose some local Tories are stuck in the Westminster bubble too.

Note: This story was invalidated to some extent when around ten days later it became apparent that the response addressed to me was intended for someone else and on a different subject.

Wakefield by-election
Politics has taken a strange turn in Wakefield. The Britain First candidate’s campaign ‘bus’ was subjected to a rolling road block of five police cars and a dog unit and the men on board arrested for something alleged to have happened outside a college where the Labour Leader and his Deputy were delivering a lecture.

It was a cock and bull story comparable to the beergate excuses but when you are in an area with police linked to a Crime Commissioner who joins Starmer on the campaign trail anything might happen; like arrests and the confiscation of the ‘bus’ and mobile phones.

If you ever doubted that police behaviour is outrageous and only explained by political corruption this video may open your eyes to it. Unfortunately it is far too long at 41 minutes but there is a shorter version at

Britain First may be a long way from being everybody’s cup of tea but its is an acknowledged political party with an approved candidate. In a democracy he must be heard - but in a police state possibly not.


15 June (Part 2) - CountryStyle wakes up

Bin emptying Bin emptying Bin emptying Bin emptyingI’ve lost count of the number of times I have moaned about the uncollected bins that are just a short distance from my house but the last time was on Monday.

Depending on one’s point of view, the contamination from which they suffer is caused by multi-culturism or CountryStyle’s inability to tackle the problem.

I am affected because the bins stink and the rubbish blows into my garden.

However this morning two men turned up in one truck and tipped the contents of all three bins (paper, glass, plastic and tins) into it so thanks are due to them. They even locked the two bins that have a lock but unfortunately replaced them in a different order from what has been traditional. I fear the illiterate are thus encouraged to put stuff in the wrong bin. The paper bin will attract small domestic appliances and building materials as it always does; without an effective lid abuse is all too easy.

I was a little sad to see everything tipped into the one truck. All that effort stripping brown tape from parcels, washing everything that is not spotless, peeling paper labels from tin cans and separating coffee jars into the three component parts of glass, plastic lid and circular cardboard insert was for nothing. All gone to landfill.

And the bins still stink.


15 June (Part 1) - BexleyCo

There was a Council meeting yesterday, the first of note since the Council meeting on 25th May but I can no longer attend any on a Tuesday evening. Worse is that it was not webcast and the Agenda included only one subject, BexleyCo and what was expected of it between now and 2031 - which includes 1,200 new homes.

One thing they have done, or hope to do is give up on Sargasso House (Sidcup) and see if they can find someone willing to lease it for 20 years. On Felixstowe Road (Abbey Wood) and Sidcup Library the story is of delay, inflation and the challenges relating to the provision of affordable homes. They were trying to learn lessons from the experiences at Old Farm Park.

The company aims include priority housing for local residents, supporting local jobs and providing a return to Bexley Council; the shareholder.

Felixstowe Road 11th August 2013 Felixstowe Road 15th June 2022The Felixstowe Road car park which was closed nine years ago (Photos August 2013 and today) remains empty and there is no hint in the Agenda of when there might be some progress. Some idea of how things may look by 2026 may be seen in this year old blog. A massive tower block every bit as ugly as one might expect to be dumped in an area that Bexley Council has never really cared about.

As you would expect, there is no opposition to BexleyCo from the Council’s payroll vote but Labour Councillors Francis and Borella can be relied upon to keep a watchful eye.

Their efforts reveal that BexleyCo may make a profit of £1·75 million in the current financial year followed by four lean years and then approaching £10 million between 2026 and 2029 after which nothing although presumably they are hoping something will turn up in the meantime. Surely there must be another park to build over by then? The biggest sums will come from building on Old Farm Park, on Burstead Woods and turning Abbey Wood into a mini-Lewisham.

The above figures have been taken from the most recent BexleyCo report to Cabinet. (PDF.)

Labour Councillors are not particularly impressed by the fact that private developers who plan no affordable homes are subject to further reviews but BexleyCo is not. Wholly predictable. There will be no affordable housing when West Street’s only green space goes and the same seems likely on the old Sidcup Library site.


14 June - What did you do in the war Grandad?

There is nothing quite like an anniversary to make me feel old. Not much more than a week ago it was watching the Coronation on a tiny telly - back then you could actually buy a magnifying glass to put in front of the cathode ray tube - but today Is the 40th anniversary of the successful reclamation of the Falkland Islands.

I remember that much better.

Telephone switchboard Telephone switchboardAt the time I was doing a job that no one else wanted, goodness knows why, it was the most interesting job I ever did. Keeping the most primitive of the International telephone circuits up and running. London was the international communications hub, thanks partly to geography, in those days.

As I used to describe it at the time, every country from India downwards was ‘mine’. There was no automation to speak of in India, certainly nothing with international connections - and now, such is the calibre of British politicians, they have a bigger economy than the UK!

One of my routes was to the Falklands, it was the last destination with no cable or satellite connection and was connected by a High Frequency radio service. The only other HF circuit operating by the end of the 1970s had been to Kabul but the brilliant management for which British Telecom (as it was known at the time) was renowned decided to close that down the day before the American Ambassador to Afghanistan was assassinated. Very clever, I had to go cap in hand to Paris to beg a circuit from them. Really embarrassing.

Anyway, where was I?

There was not much of a demand for calls to the Falklands and I kept it operational for only two two hour sessions a day. The times had to be chosen carefully because sun spot activity rendered transmission uncommercial for a lot of the time. In the early part of 1982 the demand showed an upturn so the hours were stretched a bit, I never thought to ask why. Eventually I increased the hours to 24/7 and put a monitor on the line to stop charging the customer when transmission became unviable. No one reported what was being spoken about and it would have been an offence to relay a private conversation anyway.

Then on 2nd April as I left the telephone exchange the evening newspapers told me what was going on. The link to Port Stanley went dead next day and the Argentines redirected the island’s aerial and were no longer communicating with London. More specifically the receiving station in Rugby.

I asked Jennifer, a young Spanish speaking telephone operator from Woking - I only know that because she caught the same train into Waterloo as me in the morning - to sit on the frequency and report what was going on.

Nothing very interesting, mainly government officials discussing domestic arrangements for taking over the islands. New designs for postage stamps and coinage etc.

Taskforce at Portsmouth Taskforce at Portsmouth Taskforce at PortsmouthWhen Mrs. Thatcher ordered a naval Task Force to the islands I took my young children to Portsmouth to witness the historic event. I was living only an hour’s drive away in Aldershot at the time.

It must have been the afternoon of 30th April (thanks to Wikepedia) that my office phone rang and someone from the Ministry of Defence asked, “Can you cut off the Ascension Islands?” If I asked why, there was no answer but I pulled the appropriate plug. Ascension’s only telephone route was to London.

On my way home I made a quick diversion to my father’s house. “Dad (an MOD engineer who had worked on the Vulcan’s engines), there is going to be a Vulcan raid tonight. There is only one obvious reason for isolating the Ascension Islands.”

Sure enough the runway at Port Stanley was bombed overnight.

Next day the MOD man was back. “You can restore the Ascension service now.” Before he had a chance to answer my question, “are you going to do that again?”, I told him that I had Spanish nationals working the circuits to Rio and their loyalties were not with the UK. He got the point and the Ascension circuit remained silent until June.

Late one evening when walking to Waterloo station alongside my night manager Chris, from Malden if I remember correctly, a telephonist charged over Blackfriars Bridge shouting “The Argies want to speak to you.” My name was in BT’s book of useful international contacts and I soon found myself speaking to the Cable & Wireless manager on the island. We agreed to start normal telephone services the next day on a one call for them and one call for us basis which was perfectly normal on a difficult high demand route.

Things did not immediately go well. In the traditional British way I had compiled a waiting list of people who had tried to book a call; first come first served. Most of them turned out to be journalists which upset the occupying forces big time. From then onwards the service became Falklands to UK only.

Occasionally a particularly urgent call would end up with No Reply but a call to the nearest BBC local radio station and appropriate words from the disc jockey usually got people scurrying back home to the phone.

On 12th October there was a Victory Parade in London and I got to meet the Cable & Wireless manager with whom I had been liaising, Maggie had invited him. He told me that every time he spoke to me a machine gun barrel was sticking into his back.

The HF radio link did not survive a great deal longer. A satellite dish was quickly put in place.

Note: For knowledgeable pedants, Photo 1 is of the switchboard that handled Afghanistan, Photo 2 is for the Falklands.


13 June - CountryStyle’s never ending idiocy

Overfilled bins Overfilled bins Overfilled bins Overfilled bins Overfilled bins Overfilled bins Overfilled binsThis morning I was by chance standing close to the CountryStyle bins that they don’t want to empty just at the right time to hear one of their crew members say “it’s contaminated, let’s go”.

They are most definitely contaminated and the reason is clear enough. Almost none of the people living nearby observe traditional British values and practices. CountryStyle more often than not leaving them unlocked doesn’t help matters.

The photos show the paper bin starting in January right up to today. Sooner or later the bins are going to have to be emptied but that fact is far too much for any CountryStyle management to comprehend. They really are a bunch of amateurs compared to Serco.


12 June - Nearing the end of the road?

With hay fever proving to be an unwelcome visitor for the past few days, the plan to do a spot of gardening was soon abandoned and in an idle moment I went to Hugh Neal’s Sunday blog to see if he had published early, and he had. Not only that but he had referred to my rant about my non-functioning Smart Meter. It worked for 41 days out of about 120 to date and cannot be fixed.

Tweet This goes some way to confirm my view expressed in a response to Tony of Sidcup who suggested I run some sort of poll on Bonkers to see what residents think about the ugly buildings which Bexley Council seems to be happy to see blight the borough.

Hugh refers to me as “fellow local blogger” but I do seriously wonder how long that activity can continue. Hugh carved out a niche based on local history, a bit of technology and only the occasional comment on local affairs. Murky Depths covers planning in depth and minor news items culled from Twitter and the like. Bonkers on the other hand started off by exposing industrial scale lying by Bexley Council and their occasional forays into criminality and the associated covering up.

But whilst not exactly perfect the Councillors have made an effort to clean up their act. When web hits would sometimes reach 50,000 a month and I’d be recognised in the street there was probably a job to be done but I am inclined to think there no longer is. It is a good month when unique readers tip over the 5,000 mark. (Page reads are quite a bit higher.)

Frustratingly, the ‘service’ of reporting on Council meetings which takes up so much time, only appeals to a few diehards, most of them I suspect are politicians; rants really do provoke more interest. Maybe I should try another.

In the whole of this year I have not patronised even one of the local markets. First Saturday of the month in Wilton Road, Abbey Wood and second Sunday at Lesnes Abbey. Sometimes I have been away on the day but the main reason is that I stopped looking at Facebook in January and that is where the markets are advertised.

I never did like Facebook and when I was particularly busy at the beginning of the year, spare time largely disappeared and I simply drifted away from it. And I still don’t like it. For a start it seems to breed little dictators who start their Group or somehow manage to take it over.

I’ve never been a big FaceBook contributor but have nevertheless run into several problems. When the local traders’ association was more active and I knew a little of what it was doing I offered an explanation for what was being seen as inadequate customer care. I was in a minority of one but not for long. The supportive comment was deleted.

When I joined a history group serving the town in which I grew up I found a large number of photos there which were mine but with the copyright attributed to the Group’s founder. I made no comment but one of them had been taken at my school and there was comment to the effect that the teacher appeared to be smoking in class. I dug out my original negative and scanned the relevant segment at the highest possible resolution and added it to the Facebook thread to show that the smoking was an illusion and making it pretty obvious that the Group founder’s claim to own the photo was spurious.

I was immediately banned.

In Bexley someone suggested a site for a tree. It seemed to be a good idea but It was right on top of a water main and power cables. I posted a photo as evidence. That didn’t last long either and the tree suggestions were allowed to continue unfettered until the thread died as they always do.

I was an early contributor to an electric car group and was credited there as a founder member. That was not really true as I took no part in setting it up but I was one of the first half dozen to participate. Then I happened to mention (long before my own travails) that my son had a mixed experience with Octopus Energy, some good, some not so good.

The Group was using my photos in its banners and profile pictures but I was told that I was not welcome there any more. The reason was that the Group Founder earns a small fortune from Octopus referrals even though referrals are specifically banned on that Group. One rule for the Founder, a different one for everyone else. And petty dictators will be petty FaceBook dictators.

The thing that will definitely cause the demise of Bonkers is if my ISP disappears. I use a small one which was set up in the late 1990s and I got to know the people there pretty well. They provide all the facilities that supports Bonkers free of charge. I know that small ISPs have had a very hard time because of Covid and now the financial squeeze. Ominously they have begun to not answer emails and I fear the worst.

If they go Bonkers goes.


10 June - My Smart Reader: The end of the road?

In retrospect it may have been a mistake but at the beginning of January I opted to have a Smart Meter thinking that I may be able to avail myself of cheaper electric car charging tariffs. The meter was fitted efficiently enough on 24th February but it was late April before it began to do what it was supposed to do.

It was briefly mentioned on 31st March with more detail on 8th April when I discovered that the supposed fix was delivering idiotic numbers.

However I eventually found a couple of helpful people at Octopus Energy. Gradually things improved and by 27th April there was only one obvious fault remaining and I judged that overall, the situation was acceptable.

As a result I learned exactly where the electricity was going and with the solar panels doing their bit I got my total gas and electricity bill down to under £2 most days; less than half of what it had been.

Unfortunately everything went decidedly pear shaped over last Monday night. I awoke to find the In Home Display Unit with a blank screen and rebooting every few minutes.

The helpful Octopus lady suggested various test routines that I knew were doomed to failure but eventually, very apologetically, she came through with the explanation. An overnight software upgrade had ‘bricked’ the Home Area Network and there was no way it could be quickly fixed.

I was told not to worry about it because the Smart Meter was still communicating with their billing system so I would not have to read the meter. I pointed out that I agreed to allow Octopus access to all my energy consumption data (and presumably the ability to cut me off when Boris Johnson’s energy policies succeed in blacking out the country) in return for me having access to the same data.

Octopus Energy has reneged on that implicit agreement and the best they can offer is…

Unfortunately this means your meter will send us readings but your in home display won’t work until the issue is resolved. It is likely to be a few months before we have an update due to it needing to be investigated by the DDC and the manufacturer of the communications hub. I am so sorry that this has happened but it has been made priority one in getting this fixed.

Faraday cageMy suggestion that I am due compensation because I cannot as easily moderate my consumption or take advantage of the special tariffs has been ignored.

In bloody minded mode I decided that if I could have no data neither should Octopus Energy and I have built a rather neat Faraday Cage around the electricity meter with one baking tray fixed to the door and another behind it where it backs on to a kitchen cupboard. Behind the old biscuit tin is a very heavy gauge steel box which had been stored in the garage ‘just in case’.

The gas meter which relays its data to the electricity meter probably doesn’t need a cage but it has some thick steel plate and baking foil around it anyway.

How else is one supposed to put pressure on large companies that fail their customers?

Unfortunately there is now no way that Octopus can update my meter but it might be interesting to see what they do about it. So far their messages have been at pains to blame the failed software update on contractors and the apologies appear to be sincere, but ultimately it is Octopus Energy that has failed me and 1,499 other customers.

Maybe if you haven’t got a Smart Meter yourself you should hold off until the energy companies know what they are playing at.


9 June - CountryStyle: Utterly useless

Overflowing bins Contaminated binIt has been said many times before but because CountryStyle Recycling could rarely be bothered to place the local recycling bins the right way around the vandals tore the lid off and broke the locks.

Vandals then did what vandals do and chucked anything they wanted rid of in any bin that provided easy access.

CountryStyle think the problem can be solved with red labels. Who is going to decontaminate a communal bin? No one. If CountryStyle management had any sense at all, and the fear must be by now that they haven’t, they would process contaminated bins as general rubbish but instead they lecture people who could not care less, some of whom are illiterate and few of which speak no English.

Ignoring a problem does not make it go away, it makes it worse.


8 June - Gareth Bacon nails it again

Gareth Bacon MPIt could almost be a reference to his former colleagues on Bexley Council who nod through retrospective planning applications for construction projects that have already devastated the lives of the unfortunate neighbours.

Gareth Bacon MP and long serving Bexley Councillor said on the Conservative Home website

The Ten-Minute Rule Bill I proposed would have made this change by making unauthorised developments a criminal offence. My Bill proposed a new legal classification of ‘egregious breaches’ – deliberate or repeated attempts to bypass the rules, especially in protected areas such as green belt land. It would have prevented retrospective applications for such breaches from being lodged, making it far harder for rogue developers to attempt to cheat the planning system.

Who could he possibly have had in mind?

Surely not the Bexley based developer who can twist Bexley’s Planning Committee around his little finger. Or maybe has them by the throat.

Bexley Council love-in

Developers’ love-in with their local Councillors and the Vice Chairman of the Planning Committee.

Gareth goes on to describe Bexley’s rogue developer to a tee…

Their plan is simple but effective: build first, ask later. Racing local authorities’ slow legal routes to stop unauthorised development, they hope to complete as much as possible before enforcement action kicks in. But once they’ve cleared the land, built structures and installed infrastructure, it would take exorbitant sums to dismantle and revert the land to its original condition —game over for the local authority.

Wreck the environment

Wreck the landscape without permission, encroach on ancient woodland, drive neighbours out of town, ask for retrospective planning permission. Friends in high places.


7 June - Teflon O’Neill

Conservative HomeThe recently re-elected Leader of Bexley Council has a knack for avoiding trouble. When the Leader was busy misappropriating Council funds in 2009 and she was his Deputy, she knew absolutely nothing about it and the police were persuaded that they could not accept a crime report from anyone but her, and guess what…

When she was told in writing that Council related obscenities about me and others had appeared on line they disappeared within two hours of that advice; but she knew nothing about it. When her Chief Executive, a Councillor and several staff members were referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for Misconduct in a Public Office, Teresa O’Neill remained aloof.

When Council mismanagement was implicated in the death of an elderly lady two Council employees told me of the Leader’s close involvement in the cover-up but she successfully dodged the headlines.

Councillor O’Neill leaves the lying to the experts and when a number of readers drew my attention to her Conservative Home article I am afraid I decided there was nothing new in it and a request to re-examine it today has done nothing to change my view. It’s a repetition of the same old deceptions that we have come to expect from Bexley Conservatives.

Wikepedia “Residents gave us a decisive endorsement.” (Only 74,254 Tory votes out of a potential 481,255 (†). 15·4%. Very decisive!)

“Every one of our 2018 pledges were delivered in full, so have all the pledges made since 2006.” (Total nonsense. Failed on school performance, failed on tree planting. Confirmed by their own FOI responses.)

And so on. New libraries (we are still waiting), top recycling for 17 years (simply not true, but close), financial stability (one of only six Councils to apply for a Government bale out.)

Same old stuff you have read about many times before. The only interesting thing that emerged from the second look is how Wikipedia can be horribly wrong. It says that the Conservatives won 35,207 votes in 2018 and 74,254 votes this year. When I added up their 2018 votes on the same Wikipedia page the number came to 91,567. So the Tories lost the support of 17,313 residents. Yeah, definitely a decisive endorsement.

Losing a fifth of their votes is not a landslide and if Teresa O’Neill thinks otherwise she will follow her blonde haired hero to disaster.

† There are 176,674 registered voters but not all wards provide for three votes.


6 June - 54 is the magic number

At the beginning of the year my friend Elwyn who lives in Bexley Village asked his new MP Louie French for his opinion on the developing partygate affair. Not unreasonably the new MP said he would wait for Sue Gray’s report before coming to a conclusion.

That report was delayed by the corrupt Metropolitan Police but following its publication Elwyn pushed Louie French for his promised answer. It is a difficult position for an MP and unsurprisingly the question went unanswered.

Tonight Louie will have to make up his mind. Is he a Conservative or a useless red stained Liberal like his boss? Are there any Conservatives in the Tory Party?


3 June - Crossrail. It’s not quite perfect

Loss of parkingWhen I left the cricketing gang at Moorgate Underground station (which is now connected to the Elizabeth Line) last night I knew I would be home indoors in not much over 20 minutes and as the Lizzie line train surfaced at Plumstead a text message told me that they had just reached Bethnal Green; which brings me to the first of several Crossrail shortcomings.

The wi-fi connection is confined to stations whereas the South Eastern service provides an excellent service throughout one’s journey.

With a train every five minutes the actual time of departure is of little interest. However to determine which of two trains will depart first from Abbey Wood it is necessary to glance at the departure board and check the time and indicated Platform. Quite often the board is showing a general TfL message about strikes etc. leaving passengers momentarily uncertain about which train to get on. This will be a bigger problem when trains go to either Heathrow or Reading or Paddington only.

Abbey Wood needs a Next Train indicator.

Abbey Wood probably needs an Oyster Card journey validation reader on the footbridges too, the same as when one leaves the DLR to get on a South Eastern train at Woolwich Arsenal. Without one South Eastern passengers may be liable to pay a maximum TfL fare.

More generally, there are some horrendously long underground walks between stations and exits. I timed one at eight and a half minutes. After taking eight return journeys on the new railway since it opened I have discovered that the signs sometimes direct travellers to the longest route, presumably for crowd control purposes.

Just as Abbey Wood users have discovered, lifts are not the most reliable of contrivances. Last night the one from Moorgate down to the Elizabeth line was out of order and earlier in the day the lift to the main station concourse had failed leaving a man in a wheelchair completely stranded.

Back at Abbey Wood I have seen up to five buses waiting at the new 472 terminal in Gayton Road. Three 472s and two 244s. There was no parking space for cars. The Photo above shows three buses, a delivery truck and a tanker.


2 June - What were you doing 70 years ago Grandad?

It was a long time ago and not yet 70 years but it was one long celebration preceded by months of excitement. Well at least our mothers were excited!

Just after the incredible news had come through that Edmund Hillary had reached the summit of Mount Everest and the luckiest of us had watched the new Queen’s Coronation on a tiny black and white TV screen, we changed into our costumes made from old parachutes, towels and black out curtain to join the fancy dress parade. It was only a short walk to the trestle tables laden with jelly and sponge cake. There was a Punch and Judy show too to make sure every young mind was corrupted.

The oldest child pictured below is the judge who ironically was sent to prison soon after leaving school for something that would be legal now, in fact it might warrant its own fancy dress parade!

My outfit was that of a gypsy complete with violin. I have no idea where that came from.

Also shown is my unused Coronation mug and plate. Every school child was presented with one so presumably they are worth nothing and easily found in almost every junk shop. The really interesting thing about them is that both are marked Made in England.
Coronation Coronation


1 June - If at first you don’t succeed…

Not for the first time, plans for the 1st of the month have fallen apart at the last moment. Somehow I had got the idea that one of the bigger local developments was up for discussion at last week’s Planning meeting but when I got around to looking at the detail yesterday I discovered that what I was looking forward to was not there.

As far as I could judge from the fuzzy webcast Chairman Peter Reader was not assisted by the previous Vice-Chairman Councillor Brian Bishop who is now irredeemably associated with with the demolition of Bexley’s oldest pub. The video was never good enough to read the nameplate associated with the empty chair and the Agenda omits to say who was there.

However it was possible to discern a few new faces in attendance, Councillor Ball for Labour, Frazer Brooks and presumably because there was a presentation that concerned Crayford, Felix Di Netimah. (Both Conservative.) What expertise they bring to the Committee is open to conjecture.

95a Woolwich RoadWhen I last drove along Woolwich Road about two weeks ago I noted that 95a was being prepared for development. I couldn’t stop for a photo at the time because of the fear of assault but a new planning application (22/01325/FUL) for that address has been submitted and dated 25th May endorsed with the signed statement that work has not yet started. Which may strictly speaking be true.

It is the 4th application within the past year.


News and Comment June 2022

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