Sunday, July 16, 2017

Erith Fun Day 2017.

The photos above were taken by me yesterday at the 2017 Erith Fun Day, which took place on the large field that is located behind Erith Leisure Centre. The event was bigger than last year; I would estimate that it was approximately one third larger in terms of both the number of stalls and the number of attendees. The weather was overcast, and there were occasional showers of rain, but overall not too bad for a British Summer. Some people say that Erith has no sense of community; I would beg to differ - the Fun Day shows just how much a sense of community that the local area has. The event grows bigger by the year, and the number of voluntary groups represented carries on increasing, which can only be a good thing.

Following the recent problems with illegal bikers in the area, it is interesting to see that a precedent may now have been set in the way that criminal bikers and scooterists are dealt with under the law; On Tuesday you may have  seen that the BBC News website covered a story about a large group of over 100 illegal bikers, who on the 31st October last year, rode through Leeds town centre on pavements and through pedestrianised areas, causing alarm amongst local pedestrians. The organiser of the huge event was a scumbag called David Armitage, who was actually not one of the participants, but nevertheless due to his setting up of the event on social media and promoting the whole illegal enterprise, was sentenced to two years in jail for the offence. Another twelve riders who took place in the large scale disturbance were sentenced to between twelve and fourteen months in jail. The judge said their actions on 31 October could "not be tolerated". Armitage, 26, had been filmed on 31 October telling riders to "shut down" the city centre. Jailing him for two years, Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said: "This is a case which calls for a deterrent sentence. Behaviour of this sort, having serious effects on this city, cannot be tolerated.". This kind of robust policing and subsequent sentencing is precisely what The London Borough of Bexley and other London boroughs really require. At present the “softly softly” approach has proved ineffective, and from the dialogue I had with the Borough Commander of Dagenham and Redbridge Police during the radio discussion programme I was a contributor to last week, it is clear that stronger measures are to be taken to combat illegal riders in and around London in future; it may well be where Leeds leads, London will follow. More on this issue in the weeks to come.

The leaflet shown above was distributed around parts of Slade Green and Erith at the beginning of last week; As you can see, it contains some very alarming and serious claims. Many people who were in receipt of the leaflet have been extremely worried about its contents. I have been in discussion with fellow local blogger Malcolm Knight of the excellent Bexley is Bonkers about the situation, and he posted his thoughts on Wednesday after I forwarded him scans of the leaflet. Malcolm has the freedom to post multiple times in the week, whereas the Maggot Sandwich has a set publication date of early on Sunday afternoons. Malcolm and I have both investigated the lurid claims made in the leaflet, and have jointly come to the conclusion that they are for the most part pretty far – fetched. I have had private words with a number of people involved with the Bexley Regeneration Consultation Project, and off the record it has been said that it is pretty much a “sticking a finger in the air” exercise at present, and that a lot of the suggestions included in the report will never see the light of day. The much touted extension to the Crossrail development that Bexley Council seem to regard as almost a done deal is actually very far from it. An extension would require a new Act of Parliament, and a very substantial fresh investment; since the whole Paramount London Theme Park is now very much in doubt due to the withdrawal of Paramount from the project in the last couple of weeks, the motivation to extend the line from Abbey Wood as far as the Swanscombe Peninsula is now no done deal. More on this issue below. The London Borough of Bexley does have ambitious and far reaching aspirations regarding their thirty year plan for the development of the borough, but the classic impediments of lack of money and inertia from local stakeholders usually mean that few long term projects ever seem to amount to anything. I note that a number of aspirational projects have been outlined, not least the proposed tram / trolley bus system which would purportedly run through Erith to Dartford via James Watt Way / Crescent Road and then on  through what was the historic industrial railway route which ran under the Appold Street Bridge, and then Eastwards, following the River Thames towards Dartford. If this was run using zero emissions transportation technology, it could be an interesting new travel system – and one of particular appeal to me, as it would run past the bottom of my garden. Having said that, I really would not hold your breath, as the chances of it actually happening are in my opinion vanishingly small. The situation regarding the development of the planned £3.2 billion entertainment resort on the Swanscombe Peninsula has taken an unexpected turn after Paramount recently pulled out of the development; it was anticipated by many observers that the development would be put on hold for a period whilst a new brand partner was sourced, but on Wednesday of last week, London Resort Company Holdings has announced a “Memorandum of Understanding” with Port of Tilbury London Limited to use the port and its facilities as a main location for storing and barge operations in the construction phase of the park. This signals that the development is to go ahead as originally planned, just without the involvement of Paramount. This may be for one of two specific reasons; either London Resort Company Holdings have as I suggested recently, already found a new theme partner in another studio, or, more worryingly they are now gambling on another partner coming along during the build phase, or they are now planning on “going it alone” without a theme partner at all. I feel that if the third option turns out to be the case, then it would be a recipe for disaster, as I have previously written. Nevertheless the developers seem to be optimistic; in an interview with the News Shopper, Charles Hammond, Group Chief Executive from Forth Ports, owners of the Port of Tilbury, said: “The Port of Tilbury is ideally located as a hub for LRCH’s proposed major construction project in Kent. At Tilbury we are committed to encouraging the increased use of the River Thames for major construction projects. By using the River Thames, there is not only a reduction in the road miles impact but it also helps to reduce congestion on the road network. At Tilbury, LRCH will benefit from our expertise in warehouse consolidation, handling services as well as water-borne transportation.” The £3.2 billion park is aiming to open doors in 2022 and submit for planning permission later this year. If planning is granted the project will create 33,000 jobs during construction and operation. The park expects to receive approximately 15 million visitors per year. Time will tell.

I took the photo above yesterday afternoon in Manor Road; it shows one of the newest Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 Series 2 double deck bus that operates on the 99 route between Woolwich and Bexleyheath. The bus in question had recently broken down; you can see the driver on his mobile phone, calling the depot for a repair engineer. The passengers had been picked up by a following 99 bus. I understand that some of these new buses have problems with their zero emission Stop / Start systems, which use a large flywheel to store energy whilst stationary. Whether this was the problem with the bus photographed, I really don't know. More on local buses a bit later on.

I have been trying to find out what has happened to local eel fisherman Dave Pearce, who used to operate his eel fishing business out of a small boat which used to be moored on a buoy off Erith Jetty; I have heard nothing from him since his last posting online, which was in November 2013. It is been silent since then. I wonder if the last eel fisherman on the River Thames has now retired? Back in 1981 there were around thirty eel fishermen, over half of whom made a living from fishing in the river Thames off Erith. The irony is that eels have become rarer, and their price has subsequently risen to the point that nowadays very few traditional pie and mash shops sell jellied or stewed eels, as they have become too expensive for their main customers, who often are retired people on a budget. Several recent TV cooking shows have given the impression that eating eels is moving upmarket, and that smoking and barbecuing the fish is becoming increasingly popular. Bearing in mind how eel fishing has formed part of the historical culture of Erith, it is remarkable just how little the humble eel is celebrated locally. Perhaps something roughly analogous to the Whitstable Oyster Festival could be set up in Erith? After all, the Oyster Festival has been tremendously successful and brings visitors and business to Whitstable, to the point where it is now the commercial and social highlight of the year. Perhaps something like it could be established for an "Erith Eel Extravaganza" could be set up? What do you think? Over a decade ago, we had an Erith Multicultural Festival, which involved lots of food stalls along the high Street, and dragon boat races on the river, along with a big firework display in the evening. Perhaps an "Erith Eel Extravaganza" could be organised along similar lines? I concede that we might have a bit of an image problem; you think of oysters and you think of James Bond, whereas when you think of eels, you think of Alf Garnett. Eels have been a working class staple food since Roman times, and ironically until relatively recently, so were oysters, but overfishing of oysters caused them to become rare, and consequently they went up market – exactly the same thing is happening to the humble eel nowadays. Is the time right for an eel revival and a new image? Should Erith be nailing eels to the mast (poor analogy, but you see where this is going). Should we be celebrating the Erith eel, or is it just a sad footnote in history? What do you think? Do give me your feedback; you can comment below, or Email me to

Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association have published the following reports on local crime and community safety issues this week:- “Please be advised that the RSPCA will be going door to door within Bexley borough fundraising until 30th July. Always check charity collectors identification before passing on your contact details. If in doubt, contact the RSPCA directly rather than relying on a contact number that the collector may give you. Thanks to Senior Engineer Graham Wood at London Borough of Bexley for the advance notice of upcoming re-surfacing works on the North Cray Road starting 20th July. With the increase in motorbike and scooter theft in the Borough, the following link to the Met's website highlights the 'Be Safe' initiative to help combat such crime and help owners reduce the chance of becoming the next victim. From the Barnehurst Safer Neighbourhoods Police Team:- “Sadly we have had a burglary reported in Westfield Road, Barnehurst. Entry was gained to a house via the front UPVC door which was NOT double locked. Please make sure that you lift the handle to engage the locking system and lock with the key. If it’s not double locked then it’s NOT locked and will take a burglar just seconds to open the door. We welcomed the Barnehurst Beavers to the police station on Wednesday evening, they learnt about what the police do and got to examine some of our equipment as well as having a tour around our custody suite. The evening finished with the taking of fingerprints and an interesting question and answer session. A big Thank you to East Wickham and St Michaels SNT for their assistance. We now have 235 followers on our twitter account, thank you for your support, we would like more, please follow us @MPSBarnehurst for updates regarding what the team are up to and crime prevention advice”. From the Belvedere team:- “This week the team held a meeting at the Recycling Centre, Norman Road with representatives from Bexley Council Roads, ASB Team, local Councillor and the Roads Traffic Policing team. The issue of nuisance motorbikes using the road as a race track is causing major issues for the recycling centre. They gather en-masse and basically block the road. The purpose of the meeting was to try and come up with plans on how to deal with this issue jointly with Bexley Council, the Police and the Recycling Centre. Overall it was a productive meeting and we will be implementing the ideas in the coming weeks to try and put a stop to this problem. The team also had a meeting with the Bexley Council ASB officers with regards to the issue of street drinking on Picardy Street. As with the Norman Road issue, we will be working with the local council to try and curb the nuisance this is causing. We have recently received several neighbour dispute reports in various places on the ward. All we ask is that, if neighbours don’t like each other, just ignore and move on. A lot of people are becoming fixated with each other which is making the issues worse. Mediation is a good way forward, or just simply sitting down together and talking things through calmly. Unfortunately the latter is becoming a thing of the past. Our next Police surgery will be at ASDA, Lower Road on 18/07/17 at 17:00.” From the Erith Safer Neighbourhood Team:- "A female was arrested and charged for shoplifting goods worth £288.00 from Matalan Store, Riverside shopping Centre. A male was stopped and searched in Avenue Road and found to be in possession of Cannabis. Prolific shoplifter has been arrested, charged and sentenced to four months for stealing goods to the value of £100.00 from Argos, Riverside shopping Centre. PC Brown arrested a male wanted for failing to appear at court for Theft of a Motor Vehicle. The team have recruited four Ward Panel members and eleven potential Neighbourhood Watch Coordinators. Talks have been given by PC Couzens to the students at Christchurch School and the Rainbows. PCSO Winch has attended the summer fete at St Augustine Church along with Northend Ward. PC’s Brown and  Couzens have been conducting arrest enquiries at various addresses to trace wanted offenders. A female suffered a cardiac arrest while at the Riverside Shopping Centre. She was promptly and fortunately treated by an off duty nurse and cardiologist before PC Couzens assisted in transporting the patient to hospital where we understand that she is currently recovering. There have been two theft of number plates from motor vehicles, one in Bexley Road the other in Francis Road". The Thamesmead East Team report:- “Our Ward Panel meeting was held on Wednesday 5th July, Priorities agreed by the members are, Drug Abuse, Motor Vehicle are Anti- Social Behaviour. Promises agreed by the members are, Fly- Tipping, Engagement with youth/elderly and recruiting Neighbourhood Watch members. Local Ward Officers attended the Atrium Community Centre, Middle Way for the reopening of the Over 50s Hub. While on routine patrol, PC Nana and PC Pruden discovered a stolen motor vehicle parked up in Thamesbank Place. It had been reported stolen in March 2017 from the Lewisham area. The victim was updated, and the vehicle was recovered to Charlton Car Pound re forensics. Male arrested for a number of theft offences was sentenced to prison for 16 weeks. After the team conducted extensive CCTV enquiries regarding an assaulted that occurred in May 2017, a male has been charged with Actual Bodily Harm, and will appear at Court next month".

I have been sitting on a particular story for a while, as I was unable to get it properly verified by an independent source. It turns out that the story was true, and has now broken on several local news outlets. Extreme right wing group Britain First has been holding martial arts training sessions in the Erith Leisure Centre in Avenue Road. The racist, anti-pretty much everything group – who aspire to many of the same hateful ideologies as the jailed Joshua Bonehill (of whom I have written extensively in the past) have been using Erith Leisure Centre for “training” sessions for a while now. I am led to believe that the members of Britain First masqueraded as employees of a security company on a series of training days. The former leader of Britain First, a very unsavoury sounding chap called Paul Golding was jailed last year after he contravened a court order forbidding him from approaching every Mosque in England and Wales, when he organised a mass invasion of a mosque. As well as being banned from all mosques himself he was also prohibited from encouraging others to do so under the terms of the court order.  Nine days after the injunction - which prohibited entering any mosque in England and Wales without prior invitation – and was imposed in August last year, Golding drove four Britain First members to the Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff for a "mosque invasion". He ended up being sent to prison for a month as a result. The same group of bigoted individuals have been learning hand to hand combat locally in the sports centre; their publicity material states that disciplines taught include “Martial Arts, Krav Maga, close protection, knife defence and much more.” It was accompanied by fifteen  images showing mostly middle aged men, learning techniques as well as one posed shot with eight men standing arms crossed and looking at the camera.  Mr Golding, who was a Swanley town councillor for the British National Party from 2009 to 2011, appears to be among the men in the pictures. I understand that a member of the public alerted Parkwood Leisure, the company that operates Erith Leisure Centre on behalf of Bexley Council, and they then took action to prevent Britain First using the facility. I am not surprised that this ultra – right wing hate party chose to operate under the radar in the local area; I am sure that many would not wish Erith to be associated with such individuals.

Changes are being proposed to the bus services in parts of The London Borough of Bexley; Transport for London (TfL) have made the following announcement:- "The Elizabeth line serves Abbey Wood and Woolwich from December 2018. We have reviewed bus routes serving Abbey Wood and Woolwich, looking at how the introduction of the Elizabeth line will impact travel habits, the overall bus demand in the area as well as and other factors such as new developments. As a result, we are proposing to introduce a new bus route – numbered route 301 – and make some changes to routes 129, 161, 178, 180, 244, 291, 469, 472 and B11. Our proposals range in scale depending on the route to help us better match future demand with space available on the bus.  Our review of bus services in Abbey Wood, Woolwich and the surrounding areas has identified places where demand is likely to change following the introduction of the Elizabeth line, as well as areas that have no direct bus link to the new Elizabeth line stations at present. We are proposing to make the changes outlined above in response to this. The current bus links between Bexleyheath and Abbey Wood on routes B11 and 229 follow an indirect routing. The introduction of route 301 would provide a high frequency, direct route, saving 10 minutes journey time compared to route 229 and seven minutes compared to route B11. In addition, it would create new bus links from the south-eastern section of Long Lane where there is currently no direct bus service to Abbey Wood – an estimated 1200 households would gain a direct connection. Although we would be reducing the frequency of route B11, by introducing route 301 there would be an extra 4 buses an hour to the south of Abbey Wood on Brampton Road and Long Lane, while maintaining sufficient capacity elsewhere on route B11 such as the Hillsgrove Estate. With extra capacity between Abbey Wood and Thamesmead via Bentham Road provided by route 301 and the conversion of route 244 to double deck buses, it would no longer be necessary for route B11 to serve Thamesmead town centre. Shortening route B11 so that it terminates at Yarnton Way should help to improve the reliability of the route over the remaining section. However this change would mean that customers who use route B11 to travel from Harrow Manor Way and Thamesmead to areas to the south and east of Abbey Wood would need to change buses to complete their journey. Route 472 currently provides the main connection between Thamesmead, Woolwich and North Greenwich. Once the Elizabeth line is running, we expect less people to travel by bus across Woolwich from Thamesmead to North Greenwich. The proposed frequency reduction of the 472 reflects this. Even with this reduction of frequency, the introduction of route 301 would mean that the number of buses between Thamesmead and Woolwich would stay about the same as they are now. Similarly, the proposed diversion of route 180 to North Greenwich would mean that the total number of buses travelling between Woolwich and North Greenwich would remain broadly the same. Diverting route 472 to run via Western Way would shorten journey times between Thamesmead and Woolwich by around two minutes compared to the current routing via Nathan Way, which would served by route 301 instead. Extending route 472 to Abbey Wood station would create new links to North Greenwich from Abbey Wood and South Thamesmead. It would also provide an increase in capacity between the eastern side of Thamesmead and Abbey Wood, which would help to relieve crowding on route 229. South east of Abbey Wood on the Woolwich Road corridor, route 99 would provide a link to the Elizabeth line at Woolwich. Diverting route 469 so that it serves Woolwich Road would create a more convenient connection to the Elizabeth line at Abbey Wood station, and at the same time free up capacity on route 99. Customers who currently use the 469 to travel from Abbey Road to areas west of Abbey Wood each day would need to use route 229 instead and change at Abbey Wood. Extending route 180 to The Quarry, Erith would mean there are three bus routes running on the Erith, West Street – Abbey Wood corridor which would help to ensure there would be no capacity issues on Abbey Road or Woolwich Road. It would provide new links from the industrial areas on Church Manor Way and the new Quarry development to the Elizabeth line. These changes would mean that route 180 would no longer serve Fisher’s Way. At the other end of route 180, diverting the route to North Greenwich would mean that some passengers would have to change buses to complete their current journey. Most of these journeys are travelling to and from Lewisham and Greenwich town centres, where there are interchange options with other high frequency bus services". What do you think of the proposed changes? Do they affect you in a positive or negative way? Leave your comments below, or Email me at

The Riverside Fish and Steak restaurant in the Erith Riverside Shopping Centre continues to get rave reviews from diners; Comments left on review site Trip Advisor include:- “This must have been the fifth or sixth time we have eaten in this restaurant since it opened. The restaurant and toilets are always spotless and the service which may not be the fastest is always good and attentive. The menu is varied, tasty and good value for money. This restaurant is just consistently good with the standards set across the board in the beginning never wavering or faltering”. Another satisfied customer wrote:- “Visited this great little eatery with my wife. Had rib eye with rice and the missus had the same with cheesy chips. Great menu choices for fish, meat and other options. Very well priced. Very attentive young lady who happily would pour your drinks at the table or leave you to your own if wished. Really diverse choice of drinks for the size of establishment and reasonably priced. Food quality was outstanding. Thoroughly recommend and will be back. Long overdue in the area. Well done”. A third commented:- “A much needed local eatery. New and very clean. This unit is both a restaurant and a takeaway, but don't be misled, the restaurant is not just a few tables in a takeaway. The menu is not extensive but is very focus see on simple whether you order fried fish, grilled fish or grilled steaks they are always good. Just like the food there is a simple wine list. Since opening in late in 2016 we now go there at least once a fortnight. Whilst I have the superb grilled fish my wife often has the lunchtime menu in the evening (nothing seems to be too much trouble)”. It is great to see a new and innovative restaurant making such a favourable impression on local diners. For too many years, Erith has been a “ dormitory town” – local residents have had to travel to Upper Belvedere, Northumberland Heath or Bexleyheath if they wanted to go out for an evening meal that did not involve McDonald’s or KFC. The team behind Erith Riverside Fish and Steak have certainly made a destination venue; we just need several more such eateries and a decent pub in the town (I don’t count The Running Horses, as it is a sad shadow of its former self, and desperately needs to be taken over by a new owner with money to invest in the place). What would you like to see in the area and why? Leave a comment below, or Email me at

The end video this week shows further work on the Crossrail development, specifically the final journey of the Plumstead based tunnel concreting machine, now that it has completed its work. Do give the short video a watch and let me know what you think.

1 comment:

  1. Nice read this week,
    I'd like to see some of the original road/place names lost during the redevelopment of the 60s/70s used again as they remodel the river front, Maybe Clare road or Coldharbour place would be nice to see again.
    I'd also like to see the public gardens on the opposite side of the road to the riverside gardens restored, It seems an eternity ago now when they removed the children's apparatus and refreshment shop, Such a shame to see it derelict with not even a lick of paint for its white board edging in the last ten years.
    The riverside gardens are not much better with block paving repaired with splodges of tarmac and benches that have been broken for many years not to mention the amount of litter that is allowed to build up between clean ups.
    I see the latest half arsed attempt to replant the gardens bears no resemblance to the grandiose plans set out in the Erith western gateway SPD, I doubt it ever will.