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News and Comment May 2022

Index: 2019202020212022

31 May - Queen’s Jubilee bin days

Don’t celebrate to excess and empty too many bottles because the bin men will be partying too. Collections will be running four days late for some of us, including me!
Jubilee bin collection dates Jubilee bin collection dates

 

30 May - Comrade Sunak

My BiB search facilities are better than yours so I can easily count the number of times I have referred to our present Government as a bunch of Commies. It is three and the worst of them is Rishi Sunak.

Last week he went out of his way to present his red coloured view of the world, his financial illiteracy and suicidal political tendencies.

Kicking cans down the road is rarely a good idea.

Twelve years of Conservative Government has driven many people to the edge of penury. Embellishing Labour’s Net Zero policies has been largely responsible for the energy crisis and Covid followed by too many poor decisions by government has fuelled the cost of living disaster.
Daily Telegraph letter Daily Telegraph report
On Saturday I managed to find three things (out of seven) in Sainsbury’s that had not gone up in price since I last bought them which was a relief. The pennies increasingly have to be watched. If I had a family to support or mortgage/rent to pay I’d probably be in big trouble. An element of luck has ensured I am not in that position.

In 2010 I was sitting on a train to Bristol when my daughter told me that she would not after all need several thousands to fund a new lift in her former Council owned tower block and instead I blew the lot on solar panels. I thought the government’s repayment arrangements were crazy, so much so that finance companies were queuing up to rent my south facing roof and take the money for themselves. It was mad but I was powerless to stop the green subsidies and it was a case if you can’t beat them you may as well join them.

Last Friday, a nice sunny day, the government paid me more than £13 (the Feed in Tariff) for generating the electricity that heated my water tank, cooked my dinner and charged the car battery. That is for just one day, the whole week was within pennies of £60. Most of you, I am half ashamed to say, are footing the bill and the FIT is guaranteed to continue inflation linked until the year 2036, if I am still around of course.

Now the idiot at the Treasury is going to give me £400 to pay for my fuel bills and another £600 because I am old and may be cold. My new Smart Meter says that my total expenditure on electricity and gas this month is £70·01 and more than £18 of that is standing charges.

I have been careful with consumption, some occasionally used devices are no longer left in standby and there are no kids with TVs on all day, The bill will be higher in Winter, maybe twice as high but it is nevertheless some sort of madness.

At a rough calculation, taking into account the FIT, my fuels bills and the money the Commie is determined to plunder from the magic tree, I will be well over £1,000 a year to the good.

And no I am not going to hand it back, the Brylcreem Boy  would only waste it. There are no Conservatives left in government and absolutely nothing has been done right. Where now? Not Starmer, that’s for sure.

How bloody depressing!

Note: The Feed in Tariff available ten and more years ago was gradually reduced to nothing but guaranteed for those who were eligible.

 

29 May (Part 2) - Cock-ups everywhere

Yesterday's piece on Bexley Council not yet paying the Council Tax rebate to 25% of their 55,635 Direct Debit payers came from a reader who I know to be an accountant but it has been brought to my attention that both he and I failed to take account (the last paragraph of the text in the oblique font) of those residents who do not pay their tax by Direct Debit.

A mistake that one apparently well informed reader wishes to enlarge upon.

He says that Bexley Council received an allocation of £10,952,100 and £5,808,937 has not yet been paid out and I was referred to the government website for confirmation.

The reader goes on to say that Bexley has been given a further £667,200 to fund discretionary payments but they have kept quiet about it. Their website does not make reference to it and there is no acknowledged application procedure.

He says “In a nutshell Bexley Council is sitting on a lot of money that should be given to residents. I hope I get my rebate before 30th September because that is when the money goes back to central government”.

 

29 May (Part 1) - Labour’s new faces in Bexley

Zainab Asunranu Baljeet GillThe main reason for seeking out a written Agenda at last week’s Council meeting is that it provides a permanent record of which Councillor has picked up what plum job and what they are to be paid for filling the hole.

The new and old Cabinet Member names have been added to my list. (Committee appointments coming later.)  The Opposition ‘shadows’ have come from Labour’s Press Release. (Click for complete list of names and appointments.)

There are a few surprises there; Wendy Perfect no longer has a big job and Nicola Taylor who has brought so many housing disasters to our attention has moved to Social Care and Health.

Buried within the Agenda is news that Bexley Conservatives plan to give themselves more money. They are going to ignore the recommendations made by the London Councils’ Panel on Renumeration and instead gamble on the pay award to staff being higher and take that instead.

Their increase is not yet settled.

Labour Leader Stefano Borella tried to remind the Conservatives that the current £9,798 a year is an Allowance intended to cover expenses and is not a salary to be raised in line with staff pay.

No one on the Conservative side was interested in what he had to say.

 

28 May (Part 2) - £150 going begging

Have you had your £150 Council Tax rebate yet? If not you are not alone. Bexley Council said this


We identified 51,635 Council Taxpayers who pay their Council Tax by Direct Debit who were eligible for the £150 Council Tax Energy rebate. We have successfully made payment by BACs to around 75% of these cases starting from the 21 April to the 5 May. There were a number of cases where the Council was unable to make a payment at this stage because of a mismatch between the information held on the Council Tax accounts and the bank details.

If you pay your Council Tax by Direct Debit and haven’t received a payment so far, you will still receive a payment, but it will be administered by cheque. We will aim to issue these as soon as we possibly can. We do apologise to anyone who has not yet received their expected payment, but as we are administering public funds it is vitally important that we undertake necessary checks to ensure that all payments are made to the right person.


An affected resident writes…


I was looking at my account the other day to see if I had received the £150 Council Tax rebate from Bexley Council and I know it is going to surprise you but it has failed to come through.

Having lived at the same address for 13 years always paying the tax by Direct Debit, on time, and from the same account I was mystified as to what checks they are carrying out that have failed me. Still, there you go and in some ways I’m just happy that we are going to cost them more to process our refund.

Using numbers and percentages is always a red rag to a bull with me. Why crow about 75% when that means you have failed to process at least 12,900 refunds - or you could look at it that Bexley Council is hanging on to at least £1·9 million that it frankly should have already given out.

Funny that they give no update on what it will cost to issue 12,900 cheques and send them out; and neither have they given themselves any sort of deadline to achieve it. Heavens forbid they should dwell on the negatives!!

The first [recently deleted] announcement said that 73,000 households in the Borough are eligible for the Government provided rebate.

How can they have claimed 73,000 households when in practice they could only identify 51,635 Council taxpayers? Are there that many multiple homeowners! Surely they were not guilty of overegging their support in the first place? Not Bexley Conservatives. Straight as a die those guys!!


Good to see that cynicism is still alive and well in Bexley. My guess is that if Bexley Council knows its resident as Joe Bloggs but his bank has him as Joe Alfred Bloggs the transaction will fail. If you stumble across such a situation when transferring money on-line the bank will seek your agreement to proceed. Probably some automated process employed by Bexley Council withers and dies when faced with that sort of thing.

My correspondent is still waiting for his hundred and fifty quid.  

  

28 May (Part 1) - Called out

Call-in rules in ThurrockCouncillor Francis (Labour, Belvedere) recently recommended on Twitter that anyone wondering what a call-in was in terms of Council governance should Google it so out of curiosity I did. ‘Bexley Council call in’ I typed into the box and Google’s auto-complete helpfully added the word ‘sick’; which is exactly right.

It is in fact a procedure whereby affected individuals or groups of people are able to challenge the decision of a Cabinet Member because without it Cabinet rule in Councils is a very dangerous weapon.

In the panel to the left you can see a typical set of rules laid down by a democratic Council as a precaution against rogue, mistaken or ill-advised Cabinet Members. In this example, the first that Google led me to, is Thurrock’s, our neighbour across the water.

If we lived there you and nine neighbours would be able make your case. In Bexley even our elected representatives are not able to do so.

Bexley is a borough run by rogues who are not at all keen on democracy as their history of banning certain individuals from asking questions, publicly revealing the address of any resident who dared to question them and filibustering the remainder to oblivion has amply demonstrated.

Despite all that, Labour Leader Stefano Borello (© June Slaughter) still holds on to the quaint idea that She Who Must Be Obeyed can be reformed. Last Wednesday he thought “it is very important that the opposition is there to scrutinise the decisions of the executive”. What sort of sacrilege is that Stef? Have you forgotten where you are?


James and NickHe went on to say that the call-in procedure had not been used in the past ten years which I assume the Leader would interpret as proof that her Cabinet is comprised only of the infallible. In fact the reason is that the opposition party is excluded from the process because their Committee numbers fall short of the threshold required. This in turn is because the First Past the Post electoral system translates 41% of votes into one third of the seats and 47% into two thirds and Committee Membership adopts the same ratio.

Clever innit? The Tories love it because it means that Labour voices have little say in any matter. My three votes count for nothing.

Stef said that both Bromley and Greenwich operate differently. In the Royal Borough there are now only three Conservatives out of 55 Councillors but their rights to call-in are not restricted. The Conservatives could call-in Labour decisions when they were in control of Bexley 20 years ago but the Conservatives refuse to reciprocate.

Needless to say Councillor Borella’s plea for more democracy in Bexley fell on deaf ears. The new Mayor dismissed it in eight words and could not have sounded more bored if he had tried. Councillor Slaughter’s assurances that Nick O’Hare is some sort of good bloke look wildly optimistic to me.

Councillor Nicola Taylor thought that Bexley’s Cabinet is scared of scrutiny in a way that Bromley Council is not which succinctly summarises the issue. It has been obvious enough throughout the twelve years I have been watching their antics.

Naturally enough Cabinet Member David Leaf was keen to tell us why Labour voters should be deprived of their share of democracy and as predicted here many times he immediately referenced the recent election result which he implied gave him and his boss the right to do whatever they thought fit. In Bexley the call-in rules provided “political balance”. (Stop laughing at the back please.)

“The request [for call-ins] is Labour’s excuse not to do any scrutiny” he said in what must rank as one of the most illogical statements ever to sully Bexley’s Council Chamber.

“It is typical of Labour not wanting to do any work and they do not wish to represent their residents.ְ”

And this loon is in charge of Council finances. No wonder the borough almost went broke.

  

27 May (Part 2) - Speeches

David LeafThere was little by way of formal business at Wednesday’s Council meeting so there is time to review the speeches; they weren’t all bad.

Councillor David Leaf began his by saying he would not vote for a Labour Mayor Daniel Francis because he enjoyed arguing with him too much. The only decent joke was that Bexley as “top recycler” should recycle its Mayors too, hence him proposing Councillor Nick O’Hare for a second term. (He was Mayor in 2008/2009.)

After being seconded by Councillor June Slaughter who joked about the length of Leaf speeches and Councillor O’Hare once being a Lib Dem, he was duly elected.

There was then a 24 minute interval to allow an army of seamstresses to get busy with their scissors and pins to reduce the Mayoral robes to Nick shape. (†)

The new Mayor gave a thank you speech to the assembled throng and promised that his speeches would not come Leaf sized but instead be “short and sweet”.

He concluded in five minutes and Councillor Peter Craske then paid tribute to outgoing Mayor James Hunt and his Mayoress. Much of it was concerned with the impact of Covid on the first year of his reign and how James’s wife saved lives as a nurse.

There were no jokes and no anti-Labour jibes and the reason for that soon became clear. Labour Leader Borella had agreed to second Councillor Craske’s tribute. Stefano’s speech was packed with good jokes at the Mayor’s expense, James Hunt being a renowned joker. The idea of Chef Borella teaming up with James Hunt to do a good food guide for Bexley was floated.

James and NickThe new Mayor then presented medals to the “retiring Mayor and Mayoress”. Well there is a word you will not hear associated with James in any other context.

James Hunt said his thank you speech would be quick because he had promised his wife he would take her to see Top Gun, Maverick later the same evening but in the event she was to be disappointed.

Good sport that he is, James enlarged on Stefano Borella’s chip shop joke and profusely thanked his Mayoral team with more jokes about his chauffeur’s driving skills; apparently he never stops bragging about being a Gold Standard Advanced Driver, and his wife is “amazing” and “his rock”. (James’s wife not the driver’s before anyone gets the wrong idea!)

“Now I am done” James said. Thank you and Good Night.”

There will be a short item on “proper business” tomorrow. You will not be surprised that joviality rapidly gave way to insults.

† This is not true. Fittings took place earlier.

  

27 May (Part 1) - Serco was never this bad

Bins BinMaybe a slightly unfair headline because ultimately it must be the environmental vandals who have filled the paper bin with plastic buckets, plastic stools and mirrors. There is really no excuse for it especially when the plastics bin has been left unlocked and the buckets could have been chucked into it easily enough.

However it is CountryStyle’s fault that the paper bin cannot be locked; it was them who encouraged the lock to be broken and ultimately removed because they could never be bothered to leave the bin in an accessible position. It is back to front again now.

Just for once I know who dumped the plastic bucket after helping a neighbour clear his back garden last Sunday.

It could have looked worse. Until earlier this week the bins were topped out with scrapped timber. I removed it and sawed it into short lengths for my son to burn in his wood burner. There was enough to fill six sacks.

 

26 May (Part 2) - With the high flyers

If you looked at the opening day Crossrail pictures (22 and 27) you may have noticed that I bumped into Danny Hackett on the platform and he kindly invited me to join him for coffee in his office at Canary Wharf so I climbed the canary coloured escalator (Photo 36) and ascended half way up his skyscraper.

The office space was much bigger than I had imagined with every desk filled with computer gear. A far cry from 1982 when I had to buy my own desktop machine and was rewarded with the threat of disciplinary action if I continued to use the company’s electricity without authorisation to which the rebellious response was **** you or similar.

However 2022’s technology is still not perfect; the coffee machine was broken but Danny can make a fair cup of tea.

You may wish to see the view from his window.
View
View
View
View

 

26 May (Part 1) - Four more years

The main reason for choosing the Council meeting over the Oval was to be able to photograph the new faces. The only real purpose of the first Full Council is to elect a new Mayor which went exactly as predicted yesterday.

And even that is a fraud.

CouncilOn approaching the Chamber with the intention of installing myself in the best position for photography I was told I could not go there as those spaces were reserved for friends of the new Mayor. That works only because the appointment of the Mayor is a fix and his election a sham. As the Labour Leader pointed out later, in democratic boroughs, the Mayorality is occasionally shared between the parties. However Bexley continues to be a one woman dictatorship.

With the main reason for attending thwarted even before entering the Chamber I was not in the best of moods and it was not improved by being told that Agendas were not provided for Members of the Public.

Has that become legal now that they are available on the web?

I responded in a bad tempered manner which seemed to be appropriate at the time but within a couple of minutes was provided with a copy. Perhaps I owe the lady who ran off to fetch it an apology.

While the friends of the Mayor had the benefit of the raised seats, the plebs were confined to the out of the way flat ones which aren’t even ideal for photographing bald patches.

Things got better after that. A friendly chat with the new Cabinet Member for Education, Richard Diment who informed me that Gareth Bacon was not the only MP to be campaigning against the ULEZ extension but as yet I have not seen the Louie French equivalent. Then there was a youthful looking Andy Dourmoush and a very smartly attired June Slaughter.

Right, that’s three political careers ruined within the space of one paragraph. What next?

After the two timing (†) Mayor James Hunt made his entrance and parked his backside, Labour Leader Stefano Borella put forward the name of long serving Councillor Daniel Francis for Mayor which is of course well into lead balloon territory for the party which won 47% of the vote on the 5th of May rather than Labour’s derisory 41%.
Mayor
Councillor Leaf put forward the name of one time Liberal Nick O’Hare for Mayor which provided a good excuse for me to mentally switch off and browse the web for ten minutes and five seconds. I know almost nothing of Councillor O’Hare but as he was seconded by Councillor Slaughter who said he was a thoroughly good bloke I have to assume he must be.

Mayor Nick O'HareWith Councillor Nick O’Hare duly elected as Mayor it was a surprise to see newly elected Councillor for Dartford Rags Sandu chosen as his Deputy; but perhaps not so surprising as discovering that the equally new Felix Di Netimah was the Conservatives’ new Whip.

Following the formalities conducted by Chief Executive Jacky Belton and the thanks given to the outgoing Mayor, what little Council business there was to conduct was begun.

† That’s two years of cake eating. Text messages said I had missed “a crap game” of cricket and a Council meeting may have been more entertaining. Not a totally wasted evening then.

 

25 May - Facing two ways

There will be a Council meeting this evening. It will take half an hour to gather up what I need to have with me and I will be out of the house for best part of four hours. It will take at least five more to listen to the recording and summarise it for the web.

And for what?

It has become very obvious over recent years that very few people are interested in what goes on in the Council Chamber and Bonkers gets far more attention if I spend 30 minutes on a rant on this or that and spend the rest of the day doing something more interesting. But if it is not done Bexley Council can get away with anything because we have no local newspaper worthy of the name.

I already know what will happen tonight. Labour will suggest one of their own for Mayor while the Tories put forward Councillor O’Hare and vote him in. Then there will be a eulogy on how brilliant at his job James Hunt has been and a couple of new faces will end up in Cabinet. My money is on Richard Diment and Melvyn Seymour. It could be worse but experienced talent is in very short supply.

Teresa O’Neill will remain as Leader because her detractors are still not numerous enough to see a rebellion through to a successful conclusion.

I have almost talked myself into going to the Oval for a T20 instead. I have a ticket. The Lizzie line to Liverpool Street and the Moorgate exit to the Northern line should knock ten minutes off the old via London Bridge route. Crossrail is going to be brilliant for so many things.

Increasing the number of readers, which are well down on the good old days when Bexley Council could be relied upon to do something scandalous or criminal most months, makes rants and winding people up a quite attractive proposition. It probably explains emails like this one…
Anonymous
I think if Martyn trawls through old blogs he will find one thing that is totally consistent. Criticism of Conservative lies has been relentless because they simply won’t stop lying. In 2009 I thought the lies were so outrageous that the blog was created and then I found that 2009 was not unique.

On policies I suspect that criticism has not really gone beyond this Council’s road planning being, in the words of the Chairman of the Transport Committee, “bonkers” and the virtual abandonment of the CCTV to save £200k being a false economy.

Bexley is far from being the worst run Council in London despite its longest serving Councillors being untrustworthy. I have documented proof that three of them lie.

I voted Labour earlier this month because the Conservatives only offered candidates who are very closely associated with men with a proven track record of riding rough shod over planning regulations and who arguably tried to kill me. In a different ward I might well have voted Conservative. In some wards I definitely would have done.

Maybe Martyn could bear this explanation in mind and I’d be happy to accept any evidence of my confusion that he identifies. Personally I believe it is possible to reconcile believing that Sadiq Kahn is the worst Mayor of London ever and Boris Johnson is the worst Prime Minister of my lifetime. I would like to see both humiliated and gone; but Khan more so than the fake Tory.

I may sometimes be in the mood for provocation and reserve the right to push the boundaries in the hope of a reaction but I would never countenance the provision of false information; that is Bexley Council’s job.

Note: About 35 minutes and it’s done!

 

24 May - Crossrail whisks me to Canary Wharf in eleven minutes. Smoothly, quietly and fast

Your Elizabeth Line first train pictures are here. 47 of them from this morning’s trip. Either three and a half years late or 40 seconds. Take your pick.

More to come later…

Picture count now up to 97 after a trip to Paddington and back. Careful observation will show that the first train left 40 seconds late; Photo 26 shows the station clock and the doors closing. Photos 48 and 49 show the Abbey Wood platform and being beyond the Paddington barriers 31 minutes later. Even after walking around Paddington, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon and Woolwich stations the round trip took only an hour and 30 minutes.

The only problem I encountered was that after years of climbing into a South Eastern train I couldn’t stop myself raising my foot and almost stumbling over the platform level threshold.

When enjoying the benefits of this engineering marvel remember that we almost didn’t get the Abbey Wood branch. Thankfully in June 2010 our MP devoted her maiden speech to pleading for its retention.

Note: The first train out of Abbey Wood was driven by Monica and the first out of Paddington by Emma.

 

23 May - The mission to kill London

Presumably that is Sadiq Khan’s plan. I have racked my brain to think of anything that horrid little man has done to benefit any Londoner but failed. Who are these cretins who elect him?

It would be naive to think that his scheme to extend his beloved Ultra Low Emission Zone is to benefit our health; within a few years there will be very few vehicles that will fall foul of his evil attack on the capital’s economy. Quite obviously it is a precursor to London wide congestion charging or possibly road pricing. Sadiq Khan is a reason to be thankful that Bexley is still Conservative controlled.

Councillors here have written to Khan to protest against his ambition to cripple the capital and the letter is likely already in his waste paper bin. However in Orpington their MP has taken a more high profile stance with a video and an on-line petition.

It is some sort of recompense for losing one of the few intelligent Councillors in Bexley. When will David Evennett and Louie French get off their backsides?

I have already heard the medical authorities complain in the Council chamber that their Queen Elizabeth Hospital staff are having to park in Plumstead and walk to work so how is that going work when they will have to park in Darford? The Lewisham and Greenwich Hospital Trust has said that ULEZ means that they cannot recruit staff and retaining them is difficult.

It must be indisputable that Sadiq Khan is the worst Mayor London has ever seen and he must surely qualify as one of the most disastrous politicians of all time. Completing his plan to wreck London as a prosperous and safe city will have nationwide consequences.

 

22 May - Round Mayor at the Welling Table

Mayor James HuntBexley Council is not all Teresa O’Neill, Philip Read and Peter Craske, there are good people there too quietly working away to benefit the borough. Bexley doesn’t need to be nothing but a plague of Yellow Box Junctions and ever increasing parking charges.

The trio pictured are Councillors (past and present) but the two on the left gave up the struggle to improve the borough under its current leadership and instead work independently to achieve those aims wherever they can.

They work under the umbrella of the Welling Round Table and both play a leading role.

The Round Table invited Mayor James Hunt to what must be one of his final Civic duties to wreck his diet at a dinner around their well filled tables.

Then they surprised him with a little cheque funded by their various charitable activities.

Presumably the Mayor is forgiven for Bexley Council ripping off the Round Tablers by charging outrageous fees for the hire of Danson Park. Maybe James being mixed up with disallowing the rival to BexFest (18th and 19th June 2022) put him in the Welling Round Table’s good books again.

James has said he will spend the money on children based charities in Bexley and he is so impressed by the Round Table that he plans to join it. He likes a good lunch.

Also shown is, Kerry Allon, one time Councillor for Lesnes Abbey and Danny Hackett who unseated him in 2014. All friends now.

Note: I am informed that the shiny black boots were on the other foot. It was the Mayor’s charity bash and it was him who invited Welling Round Table members. They not only gave him £10,000 to spend on his favourite charities but were charged £55 a head for their dinner. Nice work if you can get it James. Make the most of your last three days in chains. The next Mayor will have a big act to follow.

  

21 May - There will be riots

I’ve probably said before that I could not give a damn about Boris Johnson having a slice of cake on his birthday.

During the 1980s I worked in an office which was about 50 yards away from a branch of Dunkin’ Donuts and whenever there was an office birthday, tea and biscuits was replaced with tea and something enormous, creamy and about 60 pence a go if I remember correctly. However its consumption did not constitute a birthday party, it was simply tea and a doughnut.

Presumably it was an act of political spite by the outgoing Metropolitan Police Commissioner who thought it worthwhile to spend half a million of London taxpayers’ money to issue 126 fines to mainly junior Civil Servants who felt they had little option but to follow their boss. Another example of the police not being able to get anything right.

Johnson must goPeople who think Johnson should resign over his Fixed Penalty Notice must be totally mad when there are at least half a dozen good reasons for him to be shown the door.

Idiotic, illogical, worthless and unenforceable lockdown laws and his failure to control immigration or to get Brexit done properly. His inability to see the energy crisis coming - no new nuclear, no fracking, demolish instead of mothballing the coal fired power stations and close the gas storage facilities. The result is extreme financial pain for the average family. Put it together with printing money hand over fist and Johnson has created inflation like we have not seen in nearly 50 years at a time when he’s increased taxes to a point not seen since the second world war.

So what has prompted this Saturday rant? A straw but maybe a significant one. I went to Sainsbury’s for milk and nothing else in mind except to look around.

At the top of the travelator there is a notice to the effect that they have matched 100 prices with Aldi which always makes me think “why don’t I just go to Aldi?”

Being lazy and not much of a cook I wandered down the Ready Meals aisle. They didn’t have my favourite which went up from £2·50 to £3 a month ago so I looked at the curries. They are a bit rubbish; not really big enough for one, insufficient rice and look a mess when on your plate but they are quite tasty and will fill a hole if you are not too hungry. A hidden advantage is that they can be microwaved for only two or three pence. (My faulty Smart Meter display has been fixed.) I bought two at the beginning of the week for £2·30 each. Today they are £3. They are simply not worth £3.

I went home with just the milk which had gone up by another 14 pence making a 22% total increase this year.

Fortunately I am not yet spending more each month than the pension provides but the days when I could just about live off my state pension and not touch the one from BT if I chose to are gone. Bexley Council’s 21% tax rise since 2018 has seen to that.


LoserAnd I am lucky in other ways too. Blowing too much money on solar panels in 2011 and an electric car four years ago is now paying dividends. I have driven to Ramsgate, Malmesbury and Southampton in the past two weeks which added around £9 to my electricity bill (†) because there was not enough sunshine between the first and second journeys. What would 700 miles cost if you can only afford to run an old banger? £130 or so? Plus four times £12·50 when Sadiq Khan introduces his car tax in August next year. (Malmesbury was a two day trip.)

Johnson and his Chancellor simply haven’t got a clue. How will the average working man and woman cope when the higher food costs meet the increased Winter heating bills head on? In October the energy price cap will likely increase by another 30% over last month’s 54%.

When people cannot afford to eat, Johnson will learn what an angry population does to political Neros and whatever it is it will be fully justified.

† Fortunately for me, but not the people struggling to pay their electricity bills, the £9 was offset by about £75 of Feed in Tariff paid directly to me from the ludicrous Green Levies for generating the power to drive those 700 miles.

 

20 May - Danny’s D.ream

I remember exactly where I was on 2nd June 1953; squeezed into a crowded room and glued to my Dad’s 12 inch TV screen while a sea of little noses was pressed against the window. There were only two TVs in the street of seventy something houses and ours was the biggest.

Card competitonThe platinum Jubilee celebrates the June date but of course references the accession year of 1952 and whilst I may not be as excited about it all as I was as a nine year old looking forward to the afternoon street party it is absolutely right that today’s young people should be given something to remember.

There will be beacon lighting in Lesnes Abbey park a week next Thursday (2nd June) and more festivities all day on the following Sunday.

The Welling Round Tablers led by former Councillor Danny Hackett are as you would expect keen to mark the occasion. Before the annual BexFest to be held in Danson Park on 18th and 19th June they are to run a competition for young people (under 18) to design a card to commemorate the Monarch’s 70 years of service to the nation.

Be quick, you only have ten days.

The winner will receive a family ticket to BexFest and the card will be passed on to Her Majesty.

Full details of the competition for card designers may be read here. (PDF.) Bexfest

 

19 May (Part 2) - Strangely exciting, and all over a train!

472 busThe Crossrail excitement persuaded me to take another look around Abbey Wood station with my camera.

It is a week since the 472 bus was diverted to Abbey Wood station providing the first sight of a double decker in Wilton Road since the 180 was blocked by the closure of the railway level crossing.

Outside the station men were cleaning the four year old seats and inside there are new display booards and direction signs. The mid-platform footbridge needs only five minutes of work to get it opened and the escalator was working but not yet accessible.

The western footbridge is still well and truly blocked off but trains were arriving every five minutes exactly as the timetable promises.

The station staff are expecting queues next Tuesday morning and for the first time my disabled daughter will be able to visit me step free; but I won’t hold my breath!

 

19 May (Part 1) - The jewel in the Crossrail crown?

Hidden away on one of BiB’s menus is a link to one of my favourite blogs written by the self-proclaimed Diamond Geezer. This morning he published his eulogy to Abbey Wood. Maybe it takes a stranger to the area to remind us how attractive some parts of it can be.

Catch the link quickly before 19th May disappears under the reports that will come later in the month. Best to use a proper PC screen too as the site is not particularly friendly towards mobile users.
Abbey Wood Crossrail

 

18 May - It was a long wait but finally…

Elizabeth Line timetableIf you follow Geoff Marshall on YouTube you will have known several weeks ago that the first Crossrail train will be the 06:30 out of Abbey Wood on 24th May beating the Paddington departure by three minutes.

Here’s the confirmation from TfL.

I will try to be on the first train and damn the expense.

How long will it be before my road which is only 100 metres outside of the Controlled Parking Zone becomes inaccessible? (Council’s solution from 2016.)

Index to Crossrail related items on BiB.

Note: Other reports put Canary Wharf into Zone 2.

 

17 May - Your vote doesn’t really matter

With nothing much happening in Bexley right now I wondered if there was any scope to return to and further analyse the election statistics but fortunately a reader came to the rescue with his own thoughts. The points he makes are probably not unique to 2022 but illustrate clearly why it is near impossible to arrest the decline in Bexley under its one woman dictatorship.


More than 7 out of 10 of the potential votes were not cast for either Conservative or Labour candidates. How this then manages to produce a Council packed with 33 seats for the Conservatives and 12 seats for Labour genuinely baffles me? If anybody really believes that we have any sort of truly representative elected officials at Bexley Council then I am afraid that they are remarkably deluded.

You make the point that Teresa O’Neil, our glorious Conservative Leader, can no longer truthfully claim that the majority of residents support her Tories. In fact any claim of this type is even more bogus when you can see that the Conservatives gained a mere 15.43 % of the potential votes available across the Borough.

Perhaps much more noteworthy is to see how the Conservative share compared to the 13.36% of the potential votes that Labour managed to acquire on the night. This then would inevitably lead you to conclude that any sort of a genuine contest should produce a result indicating not that much separating them both – of course this assumes that you want to actually reflect voters intentions and be truly representative throughout the Borough. So please remind me again how we ended up with a landslide majority of 33 Conservatives compared to 12 Labour Councillors?

Funny how Bexley Council is not keen to give any real indication of turnout on the night. Go look at https://democracy.bexley.gov.uk/mgElectionResults.aspx?ID=16&RPID=16303716
and you will see n/a. Why are they so coy? I agree that residents in different wards have different numbers of votes that can be cast so it is not a simple calculation to make – but equally it is not that difficult to do either. My analysis shows that less than 31% of the potential votes that could have been cast actually were.Please can somebody let me know what sort of a mandate to govern this actually is in our so called democracy?

Wouldn’t you know that at the ward level it gets even worse. In every single ward across the Borough more than 80% of the potential votes from electors did not go to the winning Party. What is the point of claiming to represent residents, in any way shape or form, when all you have actually demonstrated is that you failed to acquire 4 out of 5 of their votes for your political party?

Perhaps I digress but I do wonder if anybody else is struck by the incredible chutzpah on show via an image banner received from a Bexley Council e-mail:
Election
“Your Vote Matters”, don’t make me laugh! Could anything really be further from the truth?

To me there is no reasonable explanation for how Bexley council has been electorally constituted. I can only conclude that our current electoral system is morally bankrupt and frankly just not fit for purpose in the modern age. On the other hand, don’t go holding your breath for change. After all, why would either of the main political parties want to alter the corrupt system that they have so brilliantly engineered for us? It has been said that “every nation gets the government it deserves.” I ask myself daily where have we gone so wrong in Bexley?


In case anyone else is interested, Nicholas Dowling’s spreadsheet analysis of the results is available here.

 

16 May - Petition ignored

For reasons unknown a reader asked for a list of blogs that referred to Mr. Bryant’s 2011 petition about the excessive salaries paid to Bexley Council staff at that time.

Elwyn and his friends John, Michael, Nicholas and Peter trudged the streets of Bexley before the internet made life easier and obtained 2,219 signatures only to find that Bexley Council, contrary to their own rules, would not accept it.
Petitioners
Their reason was that its opening statement was untrue. It was an exact copy of what was on Bexley Council’s website at the time. Maybe it was untrue, most statements by Bexley Council back then were little but lies.

It transpired that the list of petition references in 2011 and 2012 was extensive so a bit of code was written that assembles them into an Index. And much good will it do anyone in a Borough with scant interest in democracy,

 

15 May - Ignorance and corruption in Bexley

PoonWith only one Council meeting this month (Full Council on the 25th) there may not be much to report but one of several recent emails aroused my interest.

It wasn’t the one, welcome though it was, which drew my attention to Bexley’s favourite property developer taking an interest in Plumstead’s Plume of Feathers public house. A Grade 2 listed building but Murky Depths has already covered that subject in some detail.

Nor was it the one that told me that Kulvinder Singh’s favourite Conservative candidate had knocked on the sender’s door to tell him that Bexley had a low rate of Council Tax. Being fully aware of BiB’s annual summary he contradicted her but was firmly told he was misinformed.

Who is it that selects such ignorant individuals to represent them?

Evening StandardNo, the one that brought back a lot of memories was the one that asked if I knew anything about the case reported by the Evening Standard back in 2013. A case concerning an assault on a teenaged boy and captured on CCTV.

I most certainly did because I had a long series of conversations with the teenager’s father. He wrote a series of guest blogs and they were assembled into a single page which makes for shocking reading.

The Index to individual blogs is a new addition to BiB.

If you ever doubted that Bexley Police was thoroughly corrupt ten years ago then here is the proof complete with condemnation from a judge who subsequently resisted pressure from the police to change his verdict. (It was said to be disrespectful to them.)

At one point the police suggested the assault had not even taken place. CCTV evidence was dismissed, witnesses discredited and witness statements rewritten. An MP was fobbed off and the submission of evidence to the CPS was selective.

Needless to say the same old names crop up in the father’s analysis of officers’ corruption as in several similar incidents around the same time. A time when Bexley Council worked hand in glove with Bexley police in order to cover up for their own dishonest activities.

Featuring prominently was the Chief Inspector who said he was unable to trace the officer who threatened to arrest me if I criticised Councillors.

There was the one who tried to convince me that it was impossible to trace who posted obscenities about me and others on his own website. Another who stood in two different witness boxes to lie about what a Bexley blogger had said in order to secure a conviction while the truth was in the evidence bundle unread by a useless defence solicitor.

Yet another who wrote to all the local politicians to tell them that I had been charged with sending malicious communications via Twitter more than a year before I opened an account with Twitter.

Almost needless to say, the Chief Inspector who wrote to Bexley Council to arrange a meeting with the objective of resolving Councillor Craske’s situation after he had been arrested.

No action was taken against the assailant and all the evidence pointed towards him being in some way related to a Bexley police officer. Bexley police not only covered up various failings and withheld or lost evidence but they refused to correct their records which attempted to put the blame for the injuries on to the victim, hence the court case reported by the Evening Standard.

The Chief Superintendent who took charge in Bexley soon after these events attempted to clear out the corrupt officers by transferring them to other London boroughs but it wasn’t long before he too left for pastures new. Moving control from Bexleyheath to Lewisham under the BCU arrangements may have finally achieved what that CS tried and failed to do.

 

12 May - Was it a landslide?

For me the worst thing about elections is updating the list of Councillors. It is assembled from 45 data files and with so many of them changing this year there was a whole load to amend. The details will be added later after the Leader has dished out her favours to those without minds of their own.

Meanwhile more analytical minds have been digging into the statistics so that when the Leader gives her next report to Full Council and claims to be Trusted by Bexley Residents we will be able to judge whether it is really true or not.

One of the basics for any analysis has to be the size of the electorate but Bexley Council only provides the percentage of the vote achieved by each candidate and if you ask for the number eligible to vote they refer you to their website. The number is hidden away on the Notice of Poll forms where the number entitled to vote at each Polling Station is given. You have to add them up for yourself.

In my ward for example there were eight Polling Stations with 1,282, 1,758, 1,653, 1,461, 1,531, 1,521, 1,140 and 1,435 eligible voters. That’s 11,781 people who had three votes each. 35,343 votes. Sally Hinkley topped the poll with 2,033 votes with Esther Amaning and Daniel Francis trailing her with 1,998 and 1,956 respectively.

The Council’s website credits Labour with 60% of the vote but in truth only 5,987 little crosses out of a possible total of 35,343 were cast for them. 29,356 potential crosses were not placed next to Labour names.

Is it mischievous to suggest that 83·1% of the electorate didn’t vote Labour in Belvedere?

Belvedere is used here only as an example but while I have been playing with computer code my old friend Nicholas Dowling, Independent candidate in Blackfen and Lamorbey in 2014, created a spreadsheet with all the numbers,

It showed that Belvedere is typical of the seventeen wards. See table below which includes who won each ward and the percentages of votes not cast for that winning party…

 

Barnehurst - Labour : 80·9
Belvedere - Labour : 83·1
Bexleyheath - Conservative : 82·0
Blackfen & lamorbey Conservative : 82·7
Blendon & Penhill - Conservative : 81·9
Crayford - Conservative : 83·8
Crook Log - Conservative : 81·4
East Wickham - Conservative : 84·4
Erith - Labour : 81·7
Falconwood & Welling - Conservative : 84·1
Longlands - Conservative : 81·4
Northumberland Heath - Labour : 82·7
Sidcup - Conservative : 84·2
Slade Green & Northend : Labour : 85·6
St. Mary’s St. James - Conservative : 81·2
Thamesmead East - Labour : 83·3
West Heath - Conservative : 80·5


Maybe when Saint Teresa next claims that the Council is Trusted by Bexley Residents she will acknowledge that it’s only one in five of them.

Is this an argument for compulsory voting or for proportional representation?

 

11 May - A very good start

BounceFollowing up a reader’s report I went to the Council website to look at the revised list of Councillors and clicked on Cameron Smith’s published email address which popped up Microsoft Outlook.

I sent him a congratulatory message and about a minute later it came bouncing back.

Don’t Bexley Council test anything?

Perhaps all the new Councillors should check their new addresses.

 

10 May - Lampoon

Silly TweetLabour Councillor Sally Hinkley sent me a short thank you note for voting for her in Belvedere, always a nice and friendly lady despite our differences over Sadiq Khan.

Despite that I felt I didn’t have much of a choice; do I want a loon to represent this ward? A loon who thinks it makes good political sense to picture herself over and over again with the man who tore down the borough’s oldest pub and without seeking planning permission wrecked the view of Lesnes Abbey Woods from parts of Woolwich Road.

Late last night Belvedere’s failed Conservative candidate was at it again, a loser claiming to have won something; and why does the Woolwich Road Councillor John Davey keep popping up in these pictures?

At least he is not silly enough to Tweet about it.

 

9 May - More of the same…

Friends who enquired as to where I was after election day will know that I was away celebrating my son’s 50th birthday; as if I actually needed a reminder of my obvious aging.

Bexley’s election results have by now been analysed to death but these two pie charts probably sum it all up. The Conservatives won 47% of the vote but thanks to First Past the Post gained 73% of the seats.

Will the Leader continue to brag at every opportunity that her Council is backed by most residents? Probably she will, if she was willing to claim that every Manifesto commitment since 2006 has been fulfilled when Freedom of Information requests proved 100% failure since 2018, it would be silly to expect anything other than service cuts and price rises.
Bexley votes Bexley seats

The Conservatives can no longer claim to represent the majority of Bexley residents.

Leader

Business as usual.

 

6 May - True Blue Bexley

BlockedNo surprises there then. Labour made only half the gains I was expecting (†), very few residents know the extent of Bexley Tories’ lies and those that do, know that it is a better Council than those further to the west

I am hoping that the influx of new and young Councillors will eventually lead to more honesty than we see under Bexley’s current leadership.

The best news of the night is that Northumberland Heath was not impressed by Aaron Newbury whose Twitter Profile was extraordinarily arrogant. “Opinions my own, and they are all tremendously good”. Nice to see him taken down a peg or two.

Congratulations to the remainder especially Councillor Frazer Brooks in Falconwood. A man who has already shown himself to be independent minded and considerate of members of the public.

† The Northumberland Heath result was almost inevitable but I thought that there might be a chance of a random win in either Crayford or East Wickham.

 

5 May (Part 2) - I may come to regret it but…

Well that was the most difficult voting decision ever by a wide margin.

I have switched sides at least four time in the past few weeks. The choice was inevitably influenced by the worst Government of my lifetime which together with its predecessors, has contrived to get just about everything wrong, and the certain knowledge that Labour in power would be worse. Much of what is wrong now can be laid at Tony Blair’s door. Do I want to see Starmer as Prime Minister? Absolutely not.

Fortunately the election should be about local issues and i believe I should vote on local, or at the most London matters. There surely cannot be much doubt for anyone who travels around the capital as I do that all the worst places are Labour controlled and Sadiq Khan is on a mission to make things worse.

Yesterday Danny Hackett and a prominent Conservative Councillor reminded me of all those things. I was ready to walk the 100 yards to the Polling Station this morning and put three kisses against the Tory candidates but I woke up to Mark Brooks’ Retweet of Conservative candidate Viny Poon’s Tweet.

So provocative, not to say idiotic, that one correspondent thought I must have Photoshopped the picture. How could she expect me to vote for a candidate prepared to parade herself with someone, in his house by the looks of things, who appeared to be perfectly happy to run me off the road just eight months ago?

Danny Hackett’s endorsement had to be ignored.
Hateful Tweet
Three votes for Labour, God help me but what else was I supposed to do?

I shall console myself that if a Tory asks me if I voted for them this time and I say No I have a pretty good excuse for not doing so. If a Labour candidate asked me the same question and I had to say No, there would be no wholly local reason to excuse my behaviour.

 

5 May (Part 1) - Disenfranchised

Hateful TweetYesterday I spoke to soon to be ex-Councillor Danny Hackett who persuaded me that I really should vote for Viny Poon in Belvedere and later in the day I confirmed to a Conservative Councillor that I would.

I had found myself drifting back in that direction last Tuesday as I drove through a succession of Labour boroughs to North London and found myself thinking, would I like Bexley to look like these? Motoring hell-holes.

Then some charming woman began to slag off Councillor Dourmoush on Twitter. “Socialist hater of all things Tory”. Why is it that only Labour attracts such awful people and then this morning a Tory activist Tweeted the picture below right.

Conservative candidate Viny Poon far too close to those who have shoved me around and arguably tried to kill me with their van.
Viny and Danny Viny Poon and friends

Viny Poon swinging me back towards Labour.

 

4 May (Part 2) - Good planning

Only a week after the Vice-Chairman of Bexley's Planning Department was enjoying a photo opportunity with the leaders of the Sikh Temple in Belvedere an application (22/00525/FULM) was made to amend the plans to rebuild it.

The result is a foregone conclusion.
Belvedere Temple

Bexley Councillors with the Leaders of the Sikh Temple and two generations of the Leather Bottle vandals.

 

4 May (Part 1) - In Sidcup voters have a choice

Independent poster Independent poster

Independent Dimitri Shvorob used the Freedom of Information Act to prove that the Conservative claim to have kept all their 2018 Manifesto promises is simply not true or anything like true.

 

3 May - Now they are scraping the beer barrel

Johnson Rayner A Labour leaflet dropped on to my doormat quite early this morning, I suspect that Councillor Francis was exploiting his old man’s feet again. Maybe because I can be an awkward old bugger myself the message did not have the intended effect on me.

That’s because I couldn’t care less that at the end of a long day in Johnson’s house cum office he met up with the people he had been with many times already that day and he sliced a piece of cake. Sticking a candle into it does not turn the gathering into a party.

Similarly, trudging the streets of Durham with a gang of supporters all day and ending it with a beer and a curry is not a party either. If I was interested in law breaking I would be asking where Starmer stayed overnight at a time when my son could not visit his mother in Glasgow because there was nowhere to legally stay the night.

The ‘criminality’ was imposing such stupid rules on a brain-washed public. When has a government ever before banned lovers of all ages from getting together? That is why, if one insists on voting on national issues in a local election, one should not vote for Johnson’s party. But hang on a minute, which party leader wanted all the Covid lunacy imposed sooner, harder and for longer?

On #partygate itself it seems to me that it is Johnson who came clean about birthday cake and it is Starmer who has sought to hide the truth. If his gathering was entirely legal, and I am inclined to think it was, why the need to lie about the ginger one being there?

Esther, Daniel and Sally remain the best candidates by far for Belvedere and their fourth leaflet was almost certainly imposed from above. Do we really want to be represented by people stupid enough to publicly seek the support of someone involved with the demolition of the wardְ’s (and borough’s) oldest pub, ripping up trees and driving neighbours from their homes? In other wards there are Conservative candidates far more worthy of your vote.

Tweet Tweet
TweetThe Independent candidate in Sidcup (#tonyofsidcup) generously listed some this morning. I suppose hoping for 22 Labour and 22 Conservative Councillors and an Independent keeping them apart is too much to hope for? Far too much unfortunately.

Tony is absolutely right on one thing. Councillors O’Neill and Craske have pretty much single-handedly shaped Bexley and I struggle to see significant improvements. Things that have become far worse and more expensive are legion. The Leader must have had similar thoughts when she too struggled to answer a public question on that very subject.

I am beginning to think that apathy might determine the local elections in Bexley. Normally the number of visitors to this blog rises quite noticeably before an election but I detect none of that this time around.

 

2 May - Not the Perfect pair

Lib Dem poster Bexley Road Bexley RoadAs I walked through the streets of Richmond borough last Saturday I was struck by the number of political posters in front gardens and windows. Every single one of them was for the Lib Dems. As I said to my friends, they should have added “Vote Lib Dem for the highest Council Tax in London”.

I felt sure I’d not seen a poster in Bexley so yesterday I kept my eye open while on my travels.

There was nothing adorning the house of the Labour Councillor who lives not far away from me so I ventured a little further until I found a poster.

It was adorning the front door of a new and as yet unsold (the agent’s board is still there) block of flats that has featured on these pages beforeThe Boozer Butcher of Belvedere is endorsing the two Conservative Candidates for Northumberland Heath, Dwayne Brooks and the one whose name is no longer mentioned here.

At least we can take a good guess as to why that is.

In Northumberland Heath the other candidates are the unfortunately named Baljeet Singh and Wendy Perfect (both Labour) with Liberal Democrat Paul Bargery also looking for your vote.

Note: Sally Hinkley has since told me that the omission is rectified.

 

1 May (Part 2) - It’s Crossrail, right?

The Elizabeth Line The Elizabeth LineWhy the sudden fuss about calling Crossrail the Elizabeth Line? In conjunction with TfL’s established practice of adding the word line (with a lowercase L) to its other tube lines, Central line, Victoria line etc. it is going to sound odd.

‘The Elizabeth Line line’, but maybe it confirms that Crossrail is represents a new family of railways, like the Overground and the DLR but they are networks of railway lines so if TfL follows that logic Crossrail 2 will have to be The Elizabeth Line too. (Pun unintended.)

ELIZABETH LINES?

For the record, the ELIZABETH LINE sign went up at Abbey Wood station exactly four years ago today although the photograph (top left) is from two months later.

And also for the record, the Abbey Wood escalator has been reassembled.

Index to Crossrail related photos and blogs.

The four sorts of line

The four sorts of line. Click to rotate image.

 

1 May (Part 1) - A reminder

So who didn't prepare for the first of the month. Meanwhile let’s make do with this…

Which past events now make a little more sense following the revelation that the borough’s most prolific property developer is a high profile Tory with ready access to Councillors including the Planning Committee Vice-Chairman?

Land slipEveryone knows by now that Bexley Council did nothing when the borough’s oldest pub was torn down. They ignored reports that adjacent property was in danger of a land slip and there was no protection from falling masonry for passers-by.

When the Health & Safety Executive took an interest and requested evidence Bexley Council chose not to cooperate and the H&SE had to rely on photographs taken from this website and social media. Incredibly, H&SE had to threaten legal action before Bexley Council began to play ball.

Bexley Council’s own surveyor reported that an edifice constructed in the garden of 238 Woolwich Road encroached on Lesnes Abbey Woods but Councillors quietly overlooked that finding.

The massive concrete bunker was built without planning permission but with only minor modifications it was retrospectively permitted. It was such a monstrosity that the occupants of 240 were forced from their home which became virtually unsalable. As such it fell into the hands of the same property developer.

In Heron Hill the same developer put forward a plan for a new Care Home but it was rejected on the grounds that Bexley didn’t need more Care Home places. Virtually the same plan was resubmitted and suddenly Bexley did need Care Homes. Isn’t that what good friends are for?

 

News and Comment May 2022

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