Sunday, September 03, 2017


Why the photo of a lady on a mobility scooter painting a picture of a church, in a church? I hear you wonder; well there is definitely a method in the apparent madness. The lady in the photo above was photographed by me last May during the Friends of Christ Church Erith "Our Erith" local art exhibition. One of the most popular exhibitors was a local artist called Jay Leffew, who you can see in the photo above, which was taken in Christ Church, Erith. Jay is a multi talented artist who works in a number of different forms. She paints, and she sculpts, both in "found" materials such as old copper electrical wiring, and in Papier Mache, and most famously in wood - namely dead old tree stumps. She has been carving animals and birds into old stumps in Bursted Wood in Barnehurst for some considerable time, to much local approval. Her nature inspired sculptures have appeared over the last couple of years on pieces of dead wood scattered throughout the wood, which is popular with walkers. Finally the News Shopper has picked up on the story, where you can see a selection of photos of Jay's wood carvings. This is precisely the kind of thing the local area needs, and it is a strong piece of evidence as to exactly why The London Borough of Bexley should be considered for the award of "London Borough of Culture" which is currently being debated. I have to add that this consideration would be despite the actions (or in many cases the inactions) of Bexley Council, not because of them. The London Borough of Culture project was announced recently by London Mayor, Sadiq Khan. The announcement reads:- "This an initiative to bring culture to all Londoners, local authorities will have five months to prepare applications before a decision is made on where to allocate the £2.8 million pot of funding for the two winning bids. The great thing about culture is not only the economic boom it brings to London... but it enriches our lives, it nourishes the soul, it brings communities together, it heals division. Good culture is for the rich and poor, old and young, no matter your ethnicity or faith. The funding will commit boroughs to introducing artistic initiatives and make culture an integral part of their future. They will be tasked with bringing new opportunities to their area as well as shining a spotlight on existing treasures. An extra £600,000 will be made available for other boroughs who put forward impressive projects". Bexley does little if anything to bring art or culture to the local area - witness the cancellation of council funding for "Bexley in Bloom", and the permanent cancellation of the council funded Danson Festival, citing drainage problems in Danson Park, which mysteriously disappeared when the event was taken over by a commercial company a year later. The event is now held, but it is no longer free - an adult is charged £7 admission on the door. There are just a couple of examples of how Bexley grabs every penny it can from rate payers, yet returns little of worth - another prime example is the much protested closure of the Belvedere Splash Park, which controversially was converted into the Belvedere Beach - at no expense to the council, as it was all funded by Cory Environmental. Despite this, the residents of Bexley continue to be creative and productive - Jay Leffew being a prime example of this - she just quietly carries on enriching the local environment with little thought of money or fame. What is a shame is how the talkback functionality of the News Shopper website gets misused by people who submit factually incorrect and downright harmful comments, which can be read by people who may think they are indeed correct. What annoys me even more is that the writer of the hurtful comment has not even bothered to check the facts before they posted their misleading prose. The malicious and misleading poster wrote:- "I wonder if this legal and healthy to carve this shxxt into a healthy tree!" The poster is obviously a flame baiter - trying to provoke an argument for their own twisted pleasure. The photos of the carvings clearly show that they are all done on dead wood - stumps of trees that have not been alive for some considerable period of time - a fact that is conveniently ignored (or they are too stupid to have taken the time to look at the photos in any detail). This is precisely the kind of activity the News Shopper needs to crack down on, but from my understanding they are so understaffed that website comments apparently go largely unmoderated. You can see another couple of Jay's creations below - miniature models of two local landmarks - the infamous Erith Fish Sculpture, and the far nicer Lower Belvedere Cob Pony Sculpture. The fish sculpture model is constructed out of papier mache, and the cob pony out of old copper electrical wiring that Jay recovered when her house was in the process of being rewired. She stripped the plastic insulation material from the wiring, then wove it into a reconstruction of the pony sculpture that is located on the roundabout at the Lower Belvedere end of Bronze Age Way

Some interesting information has recently come to light in respect of a new BBC TV drama series, which is to be filmed on location in Thamesmead in October and December.  The thriller programme is to be called "Informer" and it is being directed by Jonny Campbell, who has previously worked on Westworld, Spooks, Ashes to Ashes, and Doctor Who. The new show is set on a fictional central London housing estate called Bridgewater, and the story is about a young second-generation Pakistani man forced by a counter-terrorism officer to go undercover and inform for him. The BBC will be filming for one week in mid-October and one week in December, and are calling for local residents to act as extras. These will be paid opportunities. If you are interested in becoming an extra in the show, or merely want to learn more about the BBC production, then an open evening event is being held on Tuesday the 5th of September at the The Link Thamesmead, Bazalgette Way, off Harrow Manor Way, SE2 9BS. It starts at 6.30pm and ends at 8pm. The BBC will be bringing a street casting specialist (who runs an extras agency) to the meeting. Anyone that wants to be involved will be asked to give the BBC their details and will have a headshot photo taken. You will then be added to the agency database and will be offered work on days/scenes that you are considered suitable for. This wouldn’t necessarily be limited to filming in the Thamesmead, you could also be asked to work with the BBC on other days in other locations. Signing up won’t automatically guarantee work being offered, but the BBC will do their best to give everyone the opportunity to be involved.

You may recall that two weeks ago I publicised the Danson Dashes - a rowing regatta held at Danson Park; well, now that the event has taken place, A lady called Alison, who is instrumental in running Erith Rowing Club sent me the photograph above, and the text below for your information:- "Some readers may remember the days when Erith Rowing Club ran an annual regatta in Danson Park, Bexleyheath, which was called the Danson Dashes.  The last one was held in 1999; the following year’s regatta had to be cancelled due to a weed problem at the lake.  This, along with other factors, meant it was no longer a viable proposition for the Club to run it. As this meant there were no regattas in the area for nearly 20 years, Gravesend Rowing Club approached Erith Rowing Club with a view to resurrecting the regatta.  On Saturday, 19 August 2017, Erith Rowing Club and Gravesend Rowing Club jointly hosted the first Danson Dashes Regatta for 18 years.  It was held on a private match basis (a limited number of local clubs were invited to compete).  The races included fours, quads, doubles and singles – and there was even time for a lunch break!  Naomi Riches, rowing champion at the London 2012 Paralympics, presented the prizes.  All the competing crews enjoyed the event and many said they wanted to come back next year.  As a result, Erith Rowing Club and Gravesend Rowing Club will run the Danson Dashes Regatta as a full regatta every year going forward, so any rowing club in the country may compete.  Next year’s event will be on Saturday, 18th August 2018".

The photo above shows the now pretty well known Erith Lighthouse structure, located in the Erith Riverside Gardens - click on the photo for a larger view. The schedule of events which took place over the last couple of weeks at this location has now come to a conclusion; the Lighthouse structure has now been dismantled and has now already been moved to its new location on Erith Pier, where it will re - open for a further series of public events on the 7th to the 24th of September. The official announcement reads thus:- "Save the date: Erith Lighthouse returns 7 September. Join us for another three weeks at the Erith Lighthouse starting on Thursday 7th September at its new location, the Erith Pier. Come along to the Pier Party for a double celebration as we reopen the Erith Lighthouse for our September Programme and mark the inaugural Pier Commission featuring Julia Snowdin's temporary art installation. Across September, 6 different chefs will host 8 dinners at the Erith Lighthouse creating distinct menus inspired by Erith’s unique riverside location on the border of London and Kent. Each dinner will be a celebration and fusion of London’s exciting food culture and this area’s agricultural heritage. Alongside the dinners, a three-week programme of family-friendly events in partnership with Erith's residents will explore and celebrate Erith and this part of the Thames Estuary". Following the earlier story concerning the competition to become the "London Borough of Culture", this kind of enterprise should surely count towards any local submission - what do you think? Leave a comment below, or Email me at

The image above shows a suspected burglar who was caught on CCTV whilst robbing a house in Lesley Close, Bexley Village on the 16th August at around 4pm. He was one of a total of four criminals who broke into the house whilst the elderly owners were away on holiday. A spokesman for Bexley Police said: "Three of the suspects are wearing distinctive clothing but have their faces covered, although the fourth male isn't. He can been seen using crutches and appears to have an injury to his left foot." this is the crook featured in the photo above. If you have any information as to the identity of this total scumbag, then please ring Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111. This leads quite neatly onto a closely related subject. Unsurprisingly, the announcement that Bexleyheath Police Station was being considered for closure has brought widespread opposition from local residents - ninety two percent voted in an online poll to retain the police station in the centre of the borough. I presume that the eight percent who voted against the retention of the Police station were actually criminals. In an interview with the Bexley Times, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, David Evennett said:- "A move of the front counter services and the police headquarters to Sidcup would be highly inconvenient and I also believe response times in areas of my constituency would be negatively affected, including Bexleyheath, Crayford, Erith, Slade Green and Welling, I urge residents to respond to the consultation and oppose the reckless and unacceptable proposals put forward by the Labour Mayor of London.” Dana Wiffen, Chair of Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association said of the proposed closure:- "We’re currently based at Bexleyheath, if they’re going to move all of the police over to there, then what happens if there’s no room for us? Obviously we will need to see what happens, but it is concerning as we won’t be able to operate as well if we are based at home, we depend on having a good relationship with the police. Also, if you’re trying to keep police in the job, making them have longer travel journeys to another office seems a bit daft.”  On another subject of great local concern, Dana also said:- "The expansion of Biker Gang Crime and nuisance is not just a Bexley problem in London, many of the culprits are under age and the police are not allowed to chase them for fear of injury. We all know this is frustrating but there needs to be changes in the law so that police officers can clamp down on these youths knowing that they are supported by the law courts until this is done these trouble makers know that in most cases they can get away with it. I suggest writing to your MP asking that they support new laws that will help police tackle this growing problem" This is a real problem which Dana has repeatedly highlighted.

The News Shopper have picked up on a subject that I have been banging on about since January 2014, that of betting shops and Fixed Odds Betting Terminals - a real bugbear of mine. Statistics just released by The Campaign for Fairer Gambling, based on the Gambling Commission’s Industry Statistics from November 2016, showed that in 2016 alone gamblers in South East London and North Kent alone lost more than £53m to these machines.  The main reason that the large betting companies want to open more outlets - such as the former Barclays Bank site on the corner of White Hart Road and Plumstead High Street, is that the law limits the number of FOBT’s in any specific betting shop, but it says nothing about the number of betting shops in any location. To increase the number of very lucrative FOBT units in a town, the bookmakers just open additional shops. Many local councils have been reluctant to block this, due to the fact that during the recession, many shop units have stood empty, and the betting shops offer a steady council tax income, which the council otherwise would not get. A recent report makes for extremely troubling reading; it reveals that in the 55 most deprived boroughs in the UK – overwhelmingly located in Northern cities and urban Greater London have a total of 2,691 bookmakers shops, in which £13 billion was gambled on FOBT machines, and £470 million lost by gamblers in the last year alone. In the same time period, there were 1,258 bookmakers shops in the 115 wealthiest areas, adjusted to cover the same volume of population, within which players gambled a total of £6.5 billion, losing £231 million. A hundred pounds can be lost in no more than thirty seconds. Nick Small, of Liverpool City Council said of the situation “millions of pounds that should be used for paying for food and rent was being sucked into the FOBT machines; Bookies are arriving all the time into prime retail locations. This is all driven for FOBTs. I have no doubt of it. We are seeing horrific reports of family breakdown caused by gambling debts, problems with loan sharks. We are pretty sure organised crime is using the machines to launder money. It's out of control in a city like ours, where there are a lot of poorer people”.  The same situation exists all around the UK, with poorer areas – just like Erith, being hit far harder than wealthier regions. Industry observers have commented that one way to reduce the problem specific to FOBT machines would be to limit the maximum stake gambled to £2 – like ordinary one armed bandit machines, and to limit the maximum payout to £100. The gambling industry is not keen on this approach, for obvious reasons. To add to this, the Government are now showing an interest, as the subject is gaining column inches in the press now. The government have taken a very weak stance, saying that they will wait for the findings of the (gambling industry sponsored) research before any decision will be taken; at the rate things are progressing. At the time of writing, no reductions in the maximum amount gambled have been put into place, and they are looking increasingly likely to be left unchanged. The main power house behind the lack of change in the law to prevent problem gamblers losing thousands of pounds in a FOBT gambling session is an organisation called The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) - which sounds a bit like a trade guild or a charity, but is actually a commercial limited company. The ABB are the PR mouthpiece and propaganda ministry for the UK gambling industry, and who exist to prevent as many crackdowns on the gambling laws as possible. The public relations manager for this organisation is a chap called Peter Craske. You may well find the name familiar, and he is frequently mentioned both in the Maggot Sandwich, and also rather more robustly by Malcolm Knight in "Bexley is Bonkers". Peter Craske is also a local Conservative Councillor with some rather strident views on a number of subjects. Let's just say that it would appear that he is partial to not letting the facts get in the way of a good story. Sounds pretty similar to his day job then. It is not that surprising that in an announcement this week, Sports and betting companies top the list of donors treating MPs to gifts and hospitality. The Ladbrokes Coral group appeared 15 times in the register of members' interests, more than any other donor. Out of 187 donations from UK sources registered by MPs, 58 were from the world of sport. A further 19 were from betting companies. Ladbrokes Coral said it wanted MPs to take decisions "from a position of knowledge", but campaigners for tighter rules on gambling said companies could use hospitality to lobby MPs not to change rules on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.

This week, Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association have published the following report on local crime fighting activities. Barnehurst Ward:- "On a good note for Barnehurst ward there have been no burglaries on the ward during the past week and only one reported Incident of criminal damage to a motor vehicle in Parkside Avenue. This Incident occurred on 22nd August between midnight and 07.45pm. The vehicle was parked in a footway bay and was found to have been scratched along the side of the vehicle. There are no witnesses or CCTV for further evidence. Unfortunately Barnehurst Golf Course suffered theft and criminal damage on 25th August between 07.30pm and 08.00pm. This Incident was reported by staff who witnessed five youths throwing golf balls and being abusive to staff. The youths also entered the driving range and stole baskets, golf balls and flags from the course. The group have been seen in this area on previous occasions and are normally riding bicycles. There is CCTV at the location however staff stated the youths had covered their faces with their t-shirts. The next coffee with cops will be held at Barnehurst Golf Club on Thursday 7th September at 11.00am. Please come along if you have and issues you wish to discuss with us". Belvedere Ward:- "22/08/2017 – PCSO Worrall was out patrolling the ward hotspots and visiting the local residents in relation to local concerns. PC Holmes was knocking on the doors of wanted offenders on the ward. PC Green assisted with a vehicle seizure for no insurance as well as a female arrested for failing to appear at court. 23/08/2017 – PCSO Worrall was out patrolling the ward again, while PC Green and PC Holmes were assisting with warrants across the borough followed by further arrest enquiries. PC Green arrested a male for domestic actual bodily harm and shoplifting. 26/08/2017 – PC Holmes was assisting with the investigation into several shop liftings. PCSO Worrall visited residents in Picardy Street in relation to street drinking and ASB in the local vicinity. If anyone has further information regarding street drinkers or concerns, please contact us. An elderly couple on Lyndon Road were the victims of a burglary by means of distraction where money was taken, the suspects were a white males aged 50 years and 17 years, both with ginger hair – if anybody has any information please contact ourselves or crime stoppers. 29/08/2017 – The team were out again speaking with residents meeting with a vulnerable male as well as talking to residents about flytipping on Morvale Close. Images of the fly tipping have been shared on our Twitter: @MPSBelvedere".  Colyers Ward:- "There are no reported burglaries on Colyers Ward between 23rd August 2017 to 29th August 2017. Motor vehicle wise there was one theft of a motor vehicle and one theft from a motor vehicle during the same period. A vehicle was taken without authorisation from Hemsted Road on the evening of Friday 25th August. No CCTV or witness and the car was found abandoned in Cumbrian Avenue Bexleyheath later the same evening. On Sunday 27th August 2017 the victim had been at work all night as a cab driver and went to visit his friend at her home address on Birling Road. The victim parked his vehicle on Birling Road at the junction of Chipstead Road at about 2am The victim left his vehicle locked and secured and went into his friend property at approximately 2am. The victim was inside the address for less than 10 minutes and when he returned to his vehicle, the front drivers’ side window had been smashed and the glove box had been opened and a search completed. There were several items left on the passenger seat. Inside the vehicle the victim had £ 70 in cash and an LG mobile phone was also taken. There was no CCTV but a potential witness approached the victim and stated that he had heard a loud bang and saw a person in a grey tracksuit running away from the vehicle up Birling Road towards Frinsted Road. The witness was unable to give a full description of the suspect".  Erith Ward:- "Our coordinator from Galleons Close Erith, DA8 1AP has reported these issues many times and is frustrated that nothing appears to be being done about this constant crime and nuisance. There are a number of youths on mopeds regularly riding around illegally and faces covered, coming and going from Abbey Wood are and also 82 Galleon Close, Erith. Hyde housing, and local police have been informed. My husband is coordinator but too ill to do this at present and im also disabled. Not only is the constant noise a nuisance every evening but I have witnessed them dealing drugs out of their man bags they carry. They chase around on roads, paths to escape police and known by all they steal bikes, but no one can prove this. They are a danger to other car and bike drivers as well as children that play on street in Galleon close. They have also been seen going tooled up with baseball bats and other things. It starts about 6pm till 11pm every night. Also there are many dogs being allowed to run loose on Galleon close, some have chased and attacked other dogs and children. Chairman's comment-The expansion of Biker Gang Crime and nuisance is not just a Bexley problem in London, many of the culprits are under age and the police are not allowed to chase them for fear of injury. We all know this is frustrating but there needs to be changes in the law so that police officers can clamp down on these youths knowing that they are supported by the law courts until this is done these trouble makers know that in most cases they can get away with it". North End Ward:- "Over the past few weekends (particularly Sunday's) North End Road has been plagued with between 30 and 40 trial bikes and quads, racing up and down the dual carriageway doing wheelies even standing on their saddles and going through red traffic lights. This Sunday they were actually being filmed by a car in the midst of the bikes, out of the sun roof!! Apart from the tremendous noise of this amount of bikes hurtling up and down the road there is going to be a serious accident and probably some innocent person will get hurt". The response from PCSO Mark Piggott of North End Safer Neighbourhood Police Team regarding this issue is as follows:- "We were at work Sunday, and are aware of the issues. I think it all stems from Bike UK group and social media making it easy for them to arrange their meet ups. Please can you note though that this isn’t solely a North End Ward issue. The group use all of Thames Road, North End Road etc all the way to Thamesmead as it is a long stretch of dual carriage way with many turnings for them to drive around annoying anyone they can so it is a borough issue, not just one ward. But we will be keeping an eye out".  He then went on to say that:- "Over the weekend a group of youths unfortunately got into Slade Green Primary School and caused a lot of damage. Kitchens were flooded along with lots of items thrown around the staff room and other areas of the school. There is very good CCTV of the suspects and we will be doing what we can in the hope of identifying those involved. At our surgery in Forest Road cafĂ© last Saturday, some good intel was received around some drug issues in the park at Hollywood Way. Our surgeries are a good way for residents to speak with us in confidence about local issues and the dates for our surgeries will be sent out in the next 24hours. A theft from the till occurred at Erith Food and Wine store in The Nursery but again, the CCTV footage will hopefully lead to a positive ID of the suspect".  Northumberland Heath Ward:- "Approximately 800 leaflets were delivered to residents and businesses this week to update them as to what the team have been doing since April of this year. We still are receiving reports of youths riding their pushbikes erratically in Bexley Road causing a danger and nuisance to drivers. A black Piaggio Typhoon Moped was stolen on Monday August 28th at the top of Brook Street towards Belvedere between 15.45pm – 1815pm. A white transit van was broken in to overnight on Saturday August 29th where a power tool was stolen. The lock was tampered with to gain access to the vehicle. On Thursday August 24th at approximately 6.45pm there was a report of males drug dealing in Swaylands Road, the vehicle was then stopped in Luddesdon Road and a male was found to be in possession of several bags of white powder. Five drug warrants were executed in relation to the anti-social behaviour problems on the ward which resulted in two males being arrested for Possession With Intent to Supply Cannabis".

The end video this week is a time lapse film showing the construction of the £250 million Ocado / Waitrose warehouse in Church Manor Way, Lower Belvedere, which is currently the largest automated goods warehouse in the world. Not long after it opened for business, it was invaded by a group of travellers, who effectively closed the business for nearly two days back in June. Please leave a comment below, or alternatively Email me at

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