Sunday, December 20, 2015

The fall of Joshua Bonehill.

The upper photo above shows Erith Town Hall taken recently, looking South up Walnut Tree Road towards the Fish Roundabout. The town hall was built in 1931 on the site of Walnut Tree House, a photo of which you can see in the lower picture, which was taken in 1880. I have to say that the house looked a lot better than the rather stark and utilitarian Town Hall and Council Offices that replaced it. The Town Hall and offices may not be there for very much longer. If, as has been mooted in the recent past, the housing benefit functions carried out in Erith by outsourced company Capita are merged with those of Bromley Council, then there will be no future function for the building. Only Capita staff are housed there - no Bexley Council staff actually occupy the site at all - they are now almost exclusively based in Bexleyheath. If the benefits function is merged with Bromley, I suspect that Bexley Council will be only too pleased to sell off the site, just as they have begun to sell land off elsewhere, as soon as they seem able. Whilst the Town Hall is not exactly pleasing to the eye, the building next door is - the currently closed and unoccupied Erith Library building, as gifted to the town by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie occupies the same prime parcel of land. I, and many other locals have concerns that the Council will combine the two buildings into one package of land to sell off to developers. It would make a prime residential area, overlooking the River Thames, close to Erith Riverside Shopping Centre, the buses and the railway station.

An event happened this Thursday, which made my month, if not my year; news reached me that self – professed extreme right wing neo Nazi Joshua Bonehill had been jailed for three years and four months by Southwark Crown Court for inciting racial hatred. I have written extensively about Bonehill in the past, as have other local Bloggers including Richard of the Thamesmead Grump, and Malcolm of Bexley is Bonkers. You may recall that back in August of last year I wrote a cautionary piece about Joshua Bonehill, and his dangerous, extreme right wing Nazi views. Bonehill ran 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 press coverage earlier in the year. 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. Then in February 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. 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, xenophobic anti - Semite who hates anyone who is not white and British and shares the extraordinarily offensive extreme fascist views he has. Now the scumbag is languishing in prison – a place in my opinion he should have been consigned to a couple of years ago. After I wrote my original article about him, he sent me a threatening Email, which I then published unedited for anyone to see what kind of sick and twisted individual he was. I never got a response from him – something that did not really surprise me – bullies are often cowards at heart. What do you think? Leave a comment below, or Email me at

Thamesmead, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green all exist more or less roughly under the flight path of London City Airport. Back in the days when my Dad was still around, and a resident of Gallions View Nursing Home, almost directly opposite the airport on the other bank of the River Thames, the planes taking off and landing never seemed to be very much of an issue. Generally the airliners that use London City Airport are “city hopper” short range planes with relatively small and quiet engines (indeed airliners flying into and out of London City Airport have to be equipped with “high bypass” engines which create a lot less noise than conventional motors). The one exception I can recall was back in May 2011, when I was visiting my Dad in the nursing home. I heard a deafening whine, followed by a very deep rumble. Car and house alarms started going off all around the area of Gallion’s Reach, and suddenly from the other side of the river, the U.S president’s plane took off from London City Airport at what seemed like an impossibly steep angle for what is in essence a converted Boeing 747. You may or may not know that the presidential plane is only called Air Force One when the sitting president is actually on board. It turned out that the plane taking off from London City Airport was actually the backup one – the main plane had landed at Stanstead, but the US Secret Service wanted a spare nearer to London in case they had to evacuate the president in an emergency. Also when travelling, the main plane and the backup always fly together – any terrorist with an anti – aircraft missile would have only a fifty percent chance of targeting the correct plane. The converted 747’s are substantially lighter than the civilian version, and the engines are fitted with military afterburners – the planes are capable of travelling at near supersonic speeds – something the F15 and F16 fighter jets which accompany the planes during emergencies such as during the 9/11 crisis struggle with – Air Force One is hard for other escorting planes to keep up with without using fuel draining afterburners. All this power makes for a hugely noisy aircraft – by far the loudest aeroplane I have ever encountered.  What has this got to do with the local area? Well, lots actually. It has been reported by the Wharf newspaper that London City Airport says that it has untapped capacity that be put into use to help ease overcapacity in the south east. The chief executive of LCY Declan Collier has made the suggestion after a decision on the expansion of Heathrow was postponed for more environmental tests. The outcome won’t be known until after the London mayoral elections, infuriating businesses, environmentalists and residents – but sparing the blushes of Conservative mayoral candidate and environmental campaigner Zac Goldsmith.  Mr Collier said that even if a decision had come this week, it would be a decade before the new capacity came online – whereas the Docklands hub has plans in the pipeline that could be put in place in three years. The £200 million City Airport Development Programme was approved by Labour-run Newham Borough Council earlier this year, but Mayor Boris Johnson stepped in to veto the work . London City Airport is appealing the decision with a hearing due in the spring. It would lift the ceiling on the number of flights from 70,000 to 111,000 a year, doubling the number of passengers by 2023 a year, as well as make major adaptations to the airport to extend the terminal and build a parallel taxi lane. Mr Collier said in an interview with The Wharf that “London City Airport already has permission to operate more flights than it does today – and yet it has been prevented from doing so. Development at LCY does not require a new runway, or an extension to the existing runway. The airport simply needs to be allowed to make the most of what it has already got – to extend the terminal building, build additional parking stands to allow more aircraft to be on the ground at the same time, and build a parallel taxi lane, to enable aircraft to get on and off the runway quicker. These improvements would unlock capacity in the short term, enable the operation of more efficient, quieter next-generation aircraft, open up new markets serving the likes of the Middle East and the USA, and free up capacity for long-haul services by moving short-haul services from Heathrow. The Airports Commission recommended that better use should be made of existing infrastructure to mitigate the growing capacity shortage. Newham understood the benefits and decided to grant permission, the Mayor of London’s own planning officers recommended the same, but the Mayor himself acted alone to refuse the plans.” From what I have read, the reason for the delay in the decision to publish the report on the expansion of either Gatwick or Heathrow Airports  may at least partly due to the government not wanting to embarrass the Conservative Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith, who is standing on an anti-airport expansion platform. If London City Airport is allowed to expand, we may not only get a greater number of flights, but the rules relating to planes using only high bypass engines may well be relaxed – meaning that larger, noisier planes may be able to use the airport, where currently they are banned. This could have quite an impact on the local area from a noise and air pollution point of view. People who buy houses on the Gatwick or Heathrow flight paths do so in the full knowledge that aircraft will be making a lot of noise and smell for much of the time – indeed I have heard that aircraft spotters buying places near to the airports specifically in order to see the giant planes land and take off. Residents in Thamesmead, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green have made no such concessions to aircraft noise, and I think that we should be consulted. What do you think? Leave a comment below, or Email me at

The layout map above was sent to me this week by a regular reader; she described how it had been in her possession for some time, although I gather that it also has appeared on other local websites in the past. It shows the main shops and facilities that existed in Erith High Street back in 1930. What strikes me is the quality and diversity of retail outlets in the town back then - it must have been a real treat to go shopping in Erith eighty five years ago. If you have any historical memories of Erith - or indeed any photos from the past that you would like to see me feature - with of course full credit to yourself should you so wish, then please get in contact with me -

A scientific paper which outlines some rather controversial findings was published this week in American website Science Daily. Contrary to recent headlines - and a talk by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the United Nations Paris Climate Change Conference - eating a vegetarian diet could contribute to climate change.  According to new research from Carnegie Mellon University, following the USDA recommendations to consume more fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood is more harmful to the environment because those foods have relatively high resource uses and greenhouse gas emissions per calorie. Published in Environment Systems and Decisions, the study measured the changes in energy use, blue water footprint and greenhouse gas emissions associated with U.S. food consumption patterns. Whilst the report was U.S specific, the findings can be extrapolated to the entire world.  "Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon," said Paul Fischbeck, professor of social and decisions sciences,  engineering and public policy. "Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Eggplant (Aubergine), celery and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken”. Chris Hendrickson, the Hamerschlag University Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, studied the food supply chain to determine how the obesity epidemic in the U.S (and pretty much all of the developed world, to be honest)  is affecting the environment. Specifically, the study covered how growing, processing and transporting food, food sales and service, and household storage and use take a toll on resources in the form of energy use, water use and greenhouse gas emissions. On one hand, the results showed that getting people’s weight under control and eating fewer calories, has a positive effect on the environment and reduces energy use, water use and greenhouse gas emissions from the food supply chain by approximately nine percent. However, eating the recommended "healthier" foods -- a mix of fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood -- increased the environmental impact in all three categories: Energy use went up by thirty eight percent, water use by ten percent and greenhouse gas emissions by six percent.  This is certainly not what many environmentalists had expected, with many espousing a vegetarian diet as a means to combatting climate change. 

Another Friday, another serious gang related assault in the local area; the News Shopper have reported the case of a man in his twenties who was stabbed last week in Hurstwood Avenue, on the borders between Erith and Bexleyheath.  A local resident said he has been making reports to the police for the last year about anti-social behaviour by a group of up to fifteen people who hang around in an alleyway off Hurstwood Avenue. He said he has witnessed the group "selling drugs, taking drugs, urinating, driving around on stolen motorbikes, intimidating people and using aggressive and sexual language to the mothers who walk through there". The resident also told News Shopper: "I've expressed my worries to the police stating that it's only time until someone gets stabbed, murdered or raped there and now one of the three has happened. The police need to start taking the drug use and dealing around Erith more seriously - they deal in broad daylight right outside people's houses.” I completely agree with this sentiment, as I have had a similar experience, which I hope to be able to write about after the 11th January – more on this in a future update.

As I wrote back in October,  the take up of smart utility meters has been far below government estimates. Now another problem has been uncovered, which may turn the whole issue into the biggest IT failure in British government history. Smart Meters send real – time power usage data back to the supplier via a 3G mobile phone signal. This means that the meter does not have to be connected to a home data network. This sounds all well and good; the power company can bill you without having to send a meter reader to your house, and you get the option to monitor your power usage in an almost real – time way. There are however, problems. The data sent from the Smart Meter to the supplier is sent unencrypted, and “in the clear”; it is possible to intercept the data stream, and also a malicious attacker can potentially send instructions to the meter remotely. Several Smart Meter companies do tacitly admit this, but they play the whole lack of security aspect down. Secondly if one discounts the security implications, the various energy companies all supply different Smart Meters, many of which are incompatible with each other. If you choose to change your energy supplier, you will need to have your Smart Meter changed again – with the associated additional cost to you that this implies. The whole project was set to cost a total of eleven billion pounds, and was due to be completed by mid-2020. Now, in order to comply with European law, all of the existing meters may need to be replaced if they cannot be reprogrammed. Wholesale electricity in the UK is traded in half – hourly intervals, unlike in Germany and most of the rest of the European Union, where it is traded in fifteen minute periods. The EU wants the UK to harmonise the electricity market with the rest of Europe, which would mean smart meters having to record data every fifteen minutes, compared with the current thirty minutes. Virtually all of the meters so far deployed in the UK are incompatible with this change, and if the harmonisation ruling does come into force, it will render most of not all of British Smart Meters redundant. UK consumers will be faced with bills totalling hundreds of millions of pounds to comply with the EU directive, which could be implemented in 2017. Millions of non – EU compliant smart electricity and gas meters have already been purchased by the utility companies, and are sitting in warehouses awaiting deployment in the New Year. These meters are going to have to be reconfigured where possible, and replaced where not (which is likely to be in most cases). This is going to be hugely expensive, and the costs will be passed on to the end user. Britain’s energy usage has been linked to that of the European Union for some time; this involves the use of interconnectors – giant power cables which run beneath the English Channel and the Irish Sea. They already supply around four thousand megawatts, which is approximately ten percent of the electricity used in the UK. The Times reported on Tuesday that leaked internal documents from Elexon, the operating company behind Britain’s power trading system said that the change would “entail significant changes to IT systems across the industry. We would anticipate that any associated participant costs to be high”. In addition to this, the Institute of Directors have criticised the eleven billion pound scheme, which is the largest Government IT project in history as “unwanted by consumers, devoid of credibility, and mind blowingly expensive”.  I get the feeling this story is going to get bigger with time, as consumers realise how it will affect them financially. On top of all this, even the new EU compatible smart meters still have the security issues that I expanded on back in October. The “internet of things” is proving to be a far harder nut to crack than many pundits had predicted.

Regular readers may recall that back at the start of August, I wrote at some length about an online auction scam called “Funky Clock” and how the whole thing was fraudulent. It obviously sparked a lot of interest, as that Maggot Sandwich entry became the single most read update in the whole nine and a half years the blog has been running. To date the The “Funky Clock” Scam post has been read 28,100 times – not inconsiderable for a single entry. It is obvious that a lot of readers are deeply concerned by online rip – offs; as I have said before (and will no doubt say again) if it looks too good to be true, it almost always is. Once again, a major scam is running – and it is using some pretty nefarious tactics to promote itself. The screenshot above initially looks like it comes from the highly reputable and trustworthy financial advice website, but it is actually a clone. It is promoting another supposed “penny auction” website called which seems to operate in a very similar manner to Funky Clock. In essence, Swoggi promises to enable members to bid in online auctions for articles such as iPads, Macbooks and other highly desirable technology. Swoggi claim that members will be able to win auctions for such items for a fraction of their retail value. In order to participate customers have to join up and purchase bidding credits – each (non-refundable) credit costs you 50p, but when you enter a (non refundable) bid on items, you always get out – bid just as the online auction finishes. This even happens if the auction bids have exceeded the retail price. It is obvious to me that the bids are being placed by bots – software programs that mimic the activity of human users  - but in this case, not very well. When users complain and try and get a refund on the credits they have purchased, they get told that they can get a refund, minus a £15 administration fee, but their refund never actually arrives. Disgruntled users have contacted the genuine to voice their anger. One Swoggi user wrote:- "Like an idiot I registered with SWOGGI......BIG mistake. I bought £15 (30 credits) then tried bidding.....I never won anything but something was coming up that I get my credits back that I used on an auction I never won I had to buy more so bought 50 quids worth (100 credits) and received 50 credits free, so in all I had 180 credits and started bidding bids cost 50p a time, then I noticed things worth £300 were being bought for £700 1 item worth just a couple of hundred went for nearly a 1000 quid. Check out the ended auctions. I never won any auctions. 2 auctions finished whilst I was watching and the bidding stopped at 16 seconds left on both auctions yet in the terms and conditions it says the auction will finish when the counter reaches ZERO this did not happen. I closed the account and now SWOGGI are saying all I am entitled back is £18.80. Yet I have not won anything. SO TAKE A TIP STAY AWAY FROM SWOGGI.....I DO NOT BELIEVE THEY HAVE ANYTHING FOR SALE I BELIEVE THE BIDDERS ARE BOTS AND SWOGGI MAKE THERE MONEY FROM YOU KEEPING BUYING AUCTION CREDITS. NOTE YOU WILL NEVER WIN". Another wrote "Each bid credit on Swoggi costs you 50p, yet the credit itself is only worth 1p in a Swoggi auction; for every £1 bid made by a potential buyers makes Swoggi £50 (50p x 100 = £1.00), at the moment the item has a £60 bid this means Swoggi has made £3,000 (£50 for each £1.00 increase in the bid x 60 = £3.000) and the item is only worth £518 what a scam. Each bid is 50p x 100 = £1.00 increase in the bidding, so for each £1.00 you buy you get two bids, so if you purchase £100 of bids you only get 200 bids; this equates to £2.00, because 100 bids increases the auction price by £1.00". The message is clear - avoid Swoggi and all similar websites - they are all fraudulent and will merely steal your hard earned money.

The ending video this week shows much of the progress that has been made in the last three months to the Crossrail Project - concentrating on the area between Abbey Wood and Plumstead, where the Easternmost tunnelling work has been completed, and is now being fitted with rails and the electrical and signalling equipment it will need to have in place prior to the 2018 opening. 

1 comment:

  1. That veggie study was a joke. They compared things like lettuce and broccoli to bacon per calorie. No one eats that much veg.