The photo above shows Erith High Street and the Riverside Gardens as they are nowadays; the Running Horses pub (once a great venue with an outstanding carvery and an excellent bar, but now sadly a shadow of its' former self) will soon be dwarfed by the proposed new block of flats and adjacent town houses by London and Quadrant. The public consultation took place as I documented last week. It will be instructive to find out just how much the developers take on board from the feedback given at the event in the refectory of the new Bexley College campus. Time will tell, and I will be reporting as the situation progresses. You can read more about the London and Quadrant proposal by clicking here.
News came through late on Friday afternoon in respect of the areas of land that Bexley Council proposes to sell off. The News Shopper has a full list which you can read by clicking here. I am pleased to say that Erith Riverside Gardens is not on the list - something that very many locals were concerned about. The small park in West Street is listed as being under threat - personally I would rather it stayed as an open space, but realistically the only people that I have ever see using it are winos and druggies, who sit on the benches and swig from bottles of strong cider. It could be really nice if it got some care and attention, but the council would seemingly rather sell it off. Another piece of land that is under threat is the area that separates Fraser Road and Alford Road that has a number of very attractive trees and a lawn on it - and a not so attractive, rather tumbledown electricity substation. I know the motivation behind selling off this sliver of land to developers - it is smack bang opposite the proposed entrance to the Erith Quarry development site. The money grabbing council can see a cash cow in the land - it would make entry and exit to the development far easier, although it would be an environmental and aesthetic loss to the area, and would increase the traffic noise for residents of Alford Road. I get the feeling this story will run and run. More on this later in the update.
There has been quite a bit of publicity in the local press about the announcement that has been made by Southeastern Trains that from 2016 they will be offering free WiFi on their trains. What is not clear is whether this offer is applicable on all Southeastern train services, or just on the longer distance routes. It is all very laudable, but I think many regular users of the rail service would rather the money was spent on increasing train reliability and cleanliness, rather than adding to the ability for you to be able to Email your boss to say that you will be in the office late due to train problems. It is not without reason that Southeastern were rated as the train company with the lowest level of customer satisfaction in the UK in a recent survey. They also fared very poorly in a Which? Survey this week, where 33% of respondents had experienced a delay on the last journey that they had made on a Southeastern train. That really is just not good enough – the trouble is that there is little incentive for them to improve, as market forces have little if any effect on train companies – if you need to travel from A to B by train, you almost never have a choice of train operator – it is a case of “take it or leave it”.
The Maggot Sandwich has recently been fortunate to recruit a local restaurant critic in the form of Brian Silk, a well known local figure, who amongst other talents such as being an amateur singer / songwriter is also the manager of local football club Bexley Invicta. Brian writes:- "I read, with interest, your observation that central Erith no longer has a dedicated fish and chip shop, following the demise of the once-excellent Manor Fish Bar. However, not too far from the centre of town is the Riverside Fish Bar, in West Street, close to St John’s church. It might be a bit of a trek for many of your readers, but I suggest it would be well worth it. I have been a frequent customer since it opened, a couple of years ago, and I would say that the cod and chips is top notch. The Fishbar is one of those rarities - a shop that cooks the fish to order. This means that, while you have a bit of a wait, you know the fish is freshly cooked. And cooked to perfection, in my opinion. The batter is just the right side of crispiness and the cod is succulent and yielding. The chips are to my taste, too - firm, but not too crispy (although I appreciate that people will have very different preferences when it comes to their fish and chips). You should note that this is a 'medium cod and regular chips' and they are on a large steak plate. I have never ordered a large cod, because I can barely finish a medium. I have seen the shop’s large cod and it is significantly larger than the piece in the picture. PS. I am not the owner of the shop, nor a relative or friend of anyone connected to it!" Thanks Brian - hopefully your food reviews will become a regular feature. I will have to give the Riverside Fish Bar a try.
This week we have another technology anniversary. It is the tenth birthday of Google Maps – a service that has revolutionised the way we navigate. Google Maps was by no way the first online mapping service, but the way in which it integrates satellite imagery, GPS data, conventional maps and the highly innovative Street View into one integrated online application which works over a wide variety of devices. The fact that Google Maps launched at around the same time as the first smart phones went on the market was also a shrewd move. Most many people know that before Apple launched the original iPhone, they were in talks with Google over integrating a Google Maps App as a pre – installed software package on all Apple mobile phones. It was only later that Apple decided to work on their own, alternative mapping application when Google launched Android – their own mobile device operating system, in direct competition with Apple. Apple Maps was, and is, somewhat inferior to Google Maps – for example, Apple Maps shows the location of Pewty Acres nearly half a mile from where it is actually located, and on the wrong side of the road. Google Maps is spot on. In many ways mapping services are the “killer app” for mobile use, and Google managed to launch their product at precisely the right time. There have been privacy concerns over Street View, and some counties like Germany have banned the collection of street level photographs for this very reason, though the ability to “zoom down” from a satellite view down to street level is something that many people use on a regular basis. Google are so committed to high quality satellite imagery for incorporation in Google Maps that they have actually bought two imaging satellites for a total of $500 million for the very purpose, enabling them to have “end to end” control over their product. It is something that has served Google well, though their innovation is more a case of being incredibly wealthy and able to fund a great many research projects, some of which may well amount to nothing. For example, Google have recently canned the Glass project after much adverse criticism of the smart spectacles due to privacy concerns. Google Glass caught the imagination of many technology reviewers. Everyone who put on Glass said it was really cool. Unfortunately there wasn’t any one thing Glass did so well that some segment of the public said “I have to have Glass.” There wasn't any need that Glass fulfilled so well that a group of customers bought Glass, used it and became committed to wearing Glass all the time. On top of this Google did not improve Glass in specific ways for an application to attract users from a target market to buy Glass. In the end, by trying to be a “cool tool” for everyone Glass, ended up being something nobody really needed – added to the negative publicity, Google realised that they were not backing a winner, and consequently pulled the plug on the project. I predict that in 2015 Google will also close Google+ their clunky and unpopular social network, that was designed to compete with FaceBook, but has limped along for years. It will never be able to compete with FaceBook, which now has well over a billion users worldwide, with big growth still indicated to come in emerging markets in Africa, China and India. Google are simply too far behind with Google+ and offer no unique functionality to encourage users to switch from one social media platform to another – where it is unlikely they would find any of their friends. For these reasons I am pretty sure Google will cut their losses and close Google+ at some time this year.
The photo above was taken at the Danson Festival back in 2010; in those days the event would attract over sixty thousand people over the course of the festival weekend. Bexley Council have now permanently cancelled the event, citing environmental concerns about soil drainage. From what I can gather, this is little more than a convenient way for them to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the popular local event. An online campaign has been started to restore the Danson Festival, which has gained well over 3,300 members in less than a week. It sounds a very similar situation to the ongoing campaign to Save Belvedere Splash Park - the council make up an explanation for closure which looks on the face of it to have some credibility, but as soon as the reason is given any scrutiny, it falls apart under examination. Bexley Council are just trying to sell off the family silver in order for the top councillors to be able to line their pockets. Don Vito Corleone had more scruples than certain people sitting in the council chamber in Bexleyheath.
A couple of weeks ago I was using the pedestrian crossing on Queen's Road; the traffic had stopped for the red light, and I made my way across the busy main road. Once I had crossed, the lights stayed red for some time. An ambulance came round the hideous fish roundabout and up Queen Street. The drivers of the cars stopped at the traffic lights looked confused – they wanted to move out of the way for the ambulance, but also did not want to jump a red light and most likely get caught on a traffic camera. If you get out of the way of an emergency service vehicle and run a red light, stray into a bus lane, or cross a hatched junction, whatever your good intentions, you could be liable to a £60 fine (reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days). The fine in central London is over double this amount. The fines are levied by local councils, and the exact criteria do vary somewhat, but overall they would seem to be a very lucrative source of revenue for the local authorities. Last week the Daily Telegraph reported that a study by the AA showed that the level of fines levied on drivers who thought that they were doing the right thing in moving out of the way of emergency vehicles has now resulted in one in ten drivers would not enter a bus lane, or cross a red light in order to let a fire engine, Police car or ambulance through, even if the blue lights were flashing and the siren wailing. In London, with the virtual complete coverage of public spaces by CCTV, the figures were even more worrying; one in six drivers said that they would not give way to let an emergency vehicle through. Most drivers will still move aside to save a life, but in return local councils are dishing out fines to punish drivers trying to do good. A new campaign called Blue Light Aware has recently been launched to make motorists more conscious of the risks of interacting with emergency service vehicles on call. It makes clear the fact that “blue light” drivers have certain exemptions from the normal rules of the road that ordinary drivers don’t. They go onto explain that in most circumstances it is better to find their way around normal traffic, as they can traverse bus lanes and red traffic lights quite legally. It all sounds like a mess to me; one thing is for certain – the ordinary motorist is damned if they do, and damned if they don't move out of the way of a “blue light” responder. What do you think? Either leave a comment below, or Email me at email@example.com.
Over the past few months I have been involved in a situation which has been unlike anything I have experienced before; for various reasons I have had to keep very quiet about it, but the point has come where the matter has come to a head. Before publishing this article, I sent a draft of it to six people whose thoughts and opinions I greatly value and respect; of those six, five of them said that I should go ahead and publish. You may recall that back in August of last year I wrote a cautionary piece about a chap called Joshua Bonehill, and his dangerous, extreme right wing Nazi views. Bonehill runs a number of extremely offensive websites which you can easily Google (I will not dignify them with links from this site), and has featured prominently in the national press, including the Guardian, Russia Today and the BBC News website here. He is the person behind the campaign for the “De – Jewification” of the Stamford Hill area of North London, that has had so much recent press coverage. He was arrested and charged with Malicious Communication last year, and narrowly escaped a custodial sentence for accusing innocent people of being paedophiles and many other outright vicious lies. Since then he has been back in court a number of times, again for online trolling and Malicious Communication. Only last week he was handed another suspended sentence for a further case; he was also arrested and charged with Malicious Communication and Racially Aggravated Harassment after he targeted Labour MP Luciana Berger at the end of last week. On top of all this, he is due in court early in May, after he wrote that foods Tesco sourced from Africa were infected with the Ebola virus. Understandably Tesco and their lawyers take a very dim view of this, and the court case which starts on the 5th May should prove most interesting. I like to think of myself as a generally easy going person; many long-time readers will know that I have a personal, libertarian philosophy of “if it works for you”. The premise of which is that I believe that people should be free to do whatever they like within the law, as long as it does not cause harm, inconvenience or distress to others. Joshua Bonehill is self professed racist, homophobe, misogynist, xenophobe anti - Semite who hates anyone who is not white and British and shares the extraordinarily offensive fascist views he has. The Judge, when sentencing Bonehill for his first offence of Malicious Communication, described the 22 year old as “moronic” and was inclined to award a custodial sentence, but after his defence submitted mitigating circumstances, he was sentenced to two years’ probation and 180 hours of community service. Back last August, Joshua Bonehill sent me an email, quite out of the blue. In the interests of liberty and free speech I publish it unedited, complete with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors below for you to make up your own opinion:-
In your article you state that I "Live with my mother"; this is completely false. I've been living independent since the age of 14. Wish I did live with my mother though - would be a lot cheaper. Nice attempt at painting me out to be some sort of autist spastic freak though; would have worked if you were a national newspaper; unfortunately you're a simple blog with a small following.
Next - you state that I've been prosecuted for "spreading malicious lies about asians". This is completely false; I've never been arrested for doing that.
Last - You state I am 22, my age is 21. (He is 22 now)
Please fix the errors with your article and I won't need to include your name in the harassment case that is being investigated against people of your Ilk. I will give you this one chance to co-operate otherwise you can expect a knock at the door. Clearly as you know very little about me or anything I do given the mistakes in your article; you have no idea as to what you're getting involved with.
Here is the link to the blog post
I will be checking back in a few days; I trust these issues will be remedied by then?
Now - One last thing; you state in your biography that you were a "Radio Caroline DJ". Did Jimmy Saville also not work there? I know that travis did. Given the fact that all of these Radio DJ's are being ousted as nonces; maybe it's a valid call to publicly look into you and document this investigation through my Blog the Daily Bale which has a subscription list of over 1 million people. I would hate to be the centre of a witch hunt connecting me to paedophillia - would be an unbearable thought!
So there's your one chance really and a bit of a taste of what you can expect if you don't co-operate; I'll go down the legal route first and if that fails then I'll destroy you publicly using my "Vast social network" as you claim in your website.
I did not dignify his message with a response – I will not “feed the troll”. One hard and fast rule when engaging in any kind of dispute is to be certain of the facts. Bonehill makes a number of incorrect assumptions in his message; Jimmy Saville did not work for Radio Caroline, or indeed any offshore radio station. Dave Lee Travis last worked for Radio Caroline in August 1967 – when I was exactly three weeks old. This is all entirely academic; his clumsy attempt at a threat through association really is a deductive dead end. Irrespective of this, despite having published malicious lies and been prosecuted for it back on the 25th April 2014, and again on the 9th February this year, and a further case forthcoming, on top of the Tesco Ebola trial; it would appear that Bonehill has not learned the error of his ways. I had planned to keep this story under wraps until Bonehill was sent to prison, but bearing in mind the huge amount of press coverage, that may now be too late. If I did not comment now that the press has caught the story, my entirely unwanted personal involvement with this vile individual could become irrelevant. On another note, it does strike me that Bonehill lacks any sense of irony or self awareness; one would surmise that one who espouses such anti Jewish bile would have thought to change his name from Joshua, the name of the Biblical leader of the Israelites after the death of Moses. Do feel free to read more about the person, and let me know what you think. It has been a stressful time. Feel free to leave a comment below, or Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a rather brighter and more positive note, Phase One of Erith Park (the long awaited replacement for what used to be the old and not greatly missed Larner Road Estate) opened last Monday. The photo above and text below is copyright Orbit Housing Association, and is used with kind permission. I had hoped to attend the opening of the new development myself, but due to pressure of work I could not spare the time to be there - Francois Jensen, the Communications Manager of the Erith Park Development kindly supplied both the photo above, and the text below "More than 100 customers and community stakeholders celebrated customers moving into the first new homes to be completed at the Erith Park regeneration scheme. Residents took part in an official ribbon cutting to mark the celebration, as well as enjoying a Chinese New Year themed street party with entertainment from a dancing Chinese lion and a costume competition. Erith Park is one of the largest regeneration projects in London and when complete, the £120m housing scheme will provide more than 580 new homes for local people, with the first 169 homes completed by March 2015. Cllr Linda Bailey, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Growth at London Borough of Bexley, cut the ribbon at the event. She said: “I am thrilled that this day has arrived. A lot of hard work has gone into developing these homes and I am proud of the end result. I would like to extend a big thank you to the residents who worked so hard to help shape Erith Park and look forward to seeing them settle and prosper in their new homes.” The project is fully supported by the London Borough of Bexley as a priority project within Bexley Local Investment Plan and Regeneration Strategy. Tim Wates, Director of Wates Group said: “I felt delighted and privileged to be at this opening event and Wates look forward to an ongoing working partnership with Orbit, Bexley and the residents of Erith Park.” Deputy Chair of Orbit Group, Professor Tony Crook, said: “Erith Park is Orbit’s flagship regeneration project and is something we have had a vision for since the 1990’s. Thanks to a great partnership with residents, London Borough of Bexley, Wates Living Space and other strategic partners, we've been able to make that dream a reality. We are delighted to welcome the first residents into their new homes and hope they continue building the strong sense of community that they've already started.”
Many local residents were woken on Friday night / the early hours of Saturday morning by the sound of explosions and fire which came from the site of the Wurth warehouse and trade store in Yarnton Way. The News Shopper are reporting that the Fire Brigade have begun investigations into the cause of the blaze, which completely destroyed the building. Initial reports indicate that it may well have been started deliberately, and Police have started an Arson investigation. The video below shows the fire as it raged - it is a miracle it did not spread to the North Kent railway line, which runs right past the site.