The photos above were taken by me on Thursday evening in the Angelus Centre, in Bexley Road, Northumberland Heath. Representatives from the Lidl supermarket planning team held an open evening for local residents to visit and ask questions about the proposed new Lidl store in Fraser Road, Erith, close to the Erith Quarry housing development. I learned quite a lot about the proposed new store, and came away feeling that Lidl have really thought about things, more so than I was expecting. I know that some locals have been concerned that the businesses currently on the proposed site will be closed down by Lidl, if the new store opening goes ahead; it turns out that the likes of Screwfix and The Bath Store were told back in 2015 that the Fraser Road site would potentially be redeveloped. Lidl actually purchased the land back then, and gave the current tenants what would effectively be four and a half years' notice of intent - which is way over and above the terms in their tenancy contracts. If it goes ahead, the Lidl store will potentially employ nearly twice as many local people as currently work on the Atlas Trade Park site. I also found out that Lidl plan a further store in Lower Belvedere, quite close to the Traveller Cob roundabout. I got the feeling I was not meant to know - but was not asked to keep quiet about it - not that I would. The Lidl planning team were open and honest, and I spent just over an hour talking to them. No questions were off - limits, and they actively welcomed critical questions, something which I must admit quite surprised me. I enquired what the display of raw ingredients was doing on the table in the lower of the two photos above (click on either for a larger version) and was told they were to illustrate just how much a shopper could purchase in Lidl for £10. I did wonder if they had planned to stage an impromptu edition of "Ready, Steady, Cook" but no. I did raise the thorny question of traffic congestion with the Lidl team, and they have some interesting ideas to relieve the periodic traffic jams that plague the area, mainly involving the re - phasing of some local traffic lights. They had quite obviously done their homework about the area, and I think they should do well. What do you think? Did you attend the event? Leave a comment below, or Email me at email@example.com.
The legal case brought against fellow local Blogger Malcolm Knight by Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill has been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service, only one day before it was due to go to court on Tuesday of last week. In many ways I am not surprised; as previously mentioned, I have been party to a great deal of information regarding the case that has not been available to the general public. It struck me that Councillor Maxine Fothergill potentially had far more to lose than to gain if her case was heard in an open court. It may well be that her legal counsel advised her that it would be in her own best interests to let the harassment case drop. I am certain that in the weeks and months to come that much of the information I have been party to will come into the public domain. I for one am not going to outline the activities that Maxine Fothergill is alleged to have been involved in - for one thing it is not my place, and for another I was imparted the information in confidence, which I am going to keep. Nevertheless, if half of what I have been told is true (and it comes from an impeccably reliable source), then Councillor Fothergill is very likely to be in some very serious trouble indeed. It also strikes me that the case has some far wider implications regarding free speech and local news Blogs and other websites. It also strikes me that the acquiescence of Kent Police into pursuing the prosecution of Malcolm Knight purely on the say so of a Bexley councillor - who actually comes under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police, should be investigated and questioned. What the whole farrago must have cost the taxpayer is unknown, but the stress and worry caused to Malcolm Knight is undoubted. I feel that this is very far from the end of the matter, and that more information will come into the public domain in due course. You can read Malcolm's thoughts on the whole situation by clicking here.
The Maggot Sandwich has a guest contributor this week; A person who wishes to remain anonymous, who is involved in the transport industry, and has a unique insight into the problems regarding the 99 bus route that I highlighted last issue. They write:- "I was reading this weeks blog about the route 99 bus. I thought I would reply to clarify some points about your article, as I know this industry. The article mentions that Arriva have got rid of the Enviro 400 buses for these used buses. The Enviro buses were owned by the previous operator, Stagecoach (which is in the photo), and the new operator, Arriva are using these Wright Gemini buses. Please allow me to explain what has happened to Route 99, and the buses used on Route 99. London bus routes are operated under tender from TfL for a period of 5 years. All operating companies based in London (Stagecoach, Arriva, Go-Ahead etc) can tender for a bus route. When the tender is awarded, TfL can stipulate whether a route needs new buses, or whether a company has buses that are suitable for the route. As is the 99 case, buses have been allocated from another area of London, will give you more information later. Route 99 was operated by Stagecoach out of Plumstead Garage up until January 2018. They had held the contract from TfL for the last 5 years. Stagecoach has a modern fleet of buses, which they share between double deck routes in the garage. The buses you stated in your article, they use on all their routes. A new tender was put out in the summer of 2017, but Stagecoach was unlucky retaining the contract. In 2017, a new 5 year contract was awarded to Arriva operating out of Dartford garage, starting in January 2018. The new contract was to use existing buses from Arriva's fleet, rather than purchasing new buses. Arriva had surplus stock, as they had won new contracts in North London, which required a fleet of new buses. The older buses from these routes, have been taken into Arriva Dartford for use on Route 99. When Arriva was awarded Route 99, they were also awarded Routes 269 and 401. These other routes also are using the older buses from Tottenham Garage. As for the drivers complaining, I can understand, and this is the reason. Up until a few years ago, drivers who work for example, Stagecoach, If the company was not successful in retaining a TfL contract, the drivers would be put on another route in the garage once the routes leave for a new operator. But this has changed, now the drivers now go with the route to a new company. The route 99 drivers were used to driving new modern Hybrid buses, and now they are driving buses that have been well used, built in 2011. I hope this clears up some confusion, and gives you more info behind the scenes of the bus industry". Many thanks to the anonymous contributor - that clears things up a great deal. If you have anything to add to this discussion please drop me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week marks the 37th birthday of one of the pioneers of the whole home computer industry; the Sinclair ZX 81, as seen in the photograph above. It was marketed either as a £49.95 kit, or £69.95 fully assembled, and introduced an entire generation to the joys of computing, fights over the family television and prodigious use of Blu Tack. It was intended as a successor to the ZX80 (£79.95 as a kit and £99.95 with all the soldering taken care of), the ZX81 improved on the previous model in several subtle ways. Not blanking the screen when the user pressed a key was a good start - one of the many weaknesses of the ZX80, as the keyboard and the screen controller used the same circuitry to save on costs, and could only do one task at a time. Boasting a mighty (for the time) Zilog Z80 microprocessor clocked at 3.25MHz and 1KB of RAM, the ZX81 was arguably the first mass-market home computer to be available from high street retailers (such as WH Smith in the UK). Many a child would ensure a trip home from school took in a diversion to a local store in order to type on the membrane keyboard with the lines:-
10 Print "Hello"
20 Goto 10
With only a 32 x 24 character display and no graphics mode to speak of (other than a 64 x 48 "pixel" mode) the monochrome output of the ZX 81 required considerable imagination when playing games.For many users, the ZX 81 was a first entry into the world of programming. Magazines would publish reams of code to be laboriously entered before the user could spend a few happy hours playing "hunt the bug / misprint" and then be intensely disappointed with the results. At least the membrane keyboard featured an early version of Intellisense, with commands and functions popping up while the user typed. A proficient user could rapidly fill the diminutive memory with only a few keystrokes. The ZX 81 came with only 1KB of RAM, 1KB of memory means literally 1024 characters could be stored. The unexpected upside of this is that it teaches the user a form of coding efficiency. Not long after launch, Sinclair released a 16 KB RAM pack for the ZX 81 - which, whilst increasing the available memory considerably, also introduced a new challenge of its own. The RAM pack was not very well engineered - it fitted into the expansion slot on the back of the ZX 81 quite loosely, giving rise to a phenomenon known as "RAM pack wobble" - users would quite often find that after laboriously typing in a game listing published in a magazine such as Computer and Video Games, they would find that before they had a chance to save their hard work onto a cassette tape, a slight movement of the RAM pack would have momentarily broken the connection between the RAM pack and the ZX 81, causing the computer to suddenly reset, losing all of the data. I have had bitter personal experience of this myself - and it is not something one forgets in a hurry. Numerous hardware hacks were created to try and prevent this calamitous situation, the most common of which involved placing a large piece of Blu Tack underneath the RAM pack to stop it wobbling. Eventually Sinclair did actually recommend the Blu Tack approach, which must have been quite embarrassing for them, as it showed a failure in the hardware design, but everyone was new to home computing back then, and nobody seemed to mind very much. Third-party manufacturers were quick to work on improving the ZX 81 experience, offering "real" keyboards, joystick adaptors and printers. Even a sound card was produced. By the time the ZX 81 (sold in the US as the Timex Sinclair 1000) was discontinued in 1984, 1,500,000 units had been sold. The computer had made the leap from the realms of enthusiasts and businesses into the home. Thanks to Sinclair's innovative, affordable and frugal design, an entire generation were given access to a personal computer for the first time, and that generation have arguably shaped the computing landscape of today.
Over the last week a surveyor has been working on behalf of Bexley Council in and around the Eastern part of Erith, encompassing Manor Road, Appold Street, James Watt Way and Wheatley Terrace Road. The reason for this is apparently to establish the details of the existing road layouts and to measure the existing buildings which currently block the potential planned extension of Wheatley Terrace Road to act as a partial bypass to the most congested residential part of Manor Road. The council published a plan which includes the following:- "The Council has identified, as a priority, a new road proposal (a continuation of James Watt Way) from Appold Street/Wheatley Terrace Road to Manor Road (in the vicinity of Turpin Lane), so as to establish an alternative route that bypasses the residential part of Manor Road. Development of Site F should not prejudice an easterly extension of James Watt Way to Manor Road. Through the routing of traffic from the site and environmental improvements, the development of the site should assist in improving the surroundings of housing in the Manor Road area". Whether this will actually happen is up for debate; there are a number of businesses in the way. They could be relocated in due course, as I am aware that the council has long term plans to "gentrify" Manor Road over the next couple of decades, removing the heavy industry that currently occupies much of the Eastern end of the very long road, and replace it with residential housing. The approximate location of the proposed road bypass can be seen in the illustration above - click on it for a larger view - apologies for the amateur offering; I am not a graphic designer.
A fortieth birthday took place last week - a ground breaking cult comedy series that changed many things, and certainly influenced Terry Pratchett and his much beloved Discworld novels; At 10:30pm on Wednesday, 8th March 1978, the first episode of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. At the time no-one - least of all its creator Douglas Adams - would have known that the story of galactically - displaced nobody Arthur Dent would one day travel as far in the pop-cultural landscape as the book’s characters did across the universe. I got into Hitchhikers pretty early on - I recall that when I was at school, I could recite, word perfect, entire chunks of the first two books. In the years since in inception, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy has existed in almost every form imaginable - first a radio series, then a book, record albums (different to the radio versions), a television series, various stage productions, a computer game, a towel and a major motion picture - each one expanding on or compressing previous versions, using some aspects, flatly contradicting others and completely ignoring the rest. It has proven astonishingly prolific as a franchise, and that’s probably because its main thesis – that the universe is an idiosyncratic and absurd place as viewed from a human perspective – is one that can’t help but resonate with audiences across time and space.
Now for the weekly safety and security news from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association. Firstly from Barnehurst ward:- "A fantastic week for Barnehurst ward with no crimes of note reported. Thank you to the neighbourhood watch Coordinators who have sent in the following reports of scams The first received a Pre-recorded message when picking up the phone saying “ you could be in serious legal trouble if you don’t call this number - 01226 677940. Please note this is a scam, do not call this number. If you get this call, the second received a call from 0208 089 1901 Stating it was the Inland Revenue and there was a large law suit against him and that he needed to call the number urgently. Do not call back any numbers, advice is to Hang up immediately. Do not under any circumstances give out your credit card/bank details to anyone. Our next Community Contact Session is planned for Wednesday 14th March at 2pm and will be in the car par park at Hall Place (look out for the big CCTV van). Our next indoor session will be on the 27th March at 1pm and will be at Barnehurst Golf Course. Please feel free to pop along for a chat about any local concerns that you may have and crime prevention advice". Belvedere ward:- "This week A/PS Green and PC Holmes have undertaken training for use of the boroughs CCTV van. We plan to effectively use this to combat Anti Social behaviour across the ward in the near future and beyond. Also, after an incident on Wednesday 7th March in Erith town centre, two males were arrested for possession of an offensive weapon, affray, possession of drugs and intention to supply drugs and theft. After conducting a drugs warrant last week, 2 persons involved have now been interviewed and questioned. This case is on going". Christchurch ward:- "Over the last week we have had 4 burglaries reported on the ward and two attempted burglaries. Below is a brief summary of them: 02/03/2018 – Lion Road Bexleyheath. Entry was gained from the rear patio door; 05/03/2018 – Sunland Avenue. Rear patio door smashed to gain entry to premises; 05/03/2018 – Lewin Road. Rear glass smashed on rear door to gain entry to premises; 05/03/2018 – Lewin Road. Entry gained from rear door that was smashed. Below is a brief summary of the two attempted burglaries that were reported on the ward: 03/03/2018 – Attempted burglary at the Sea Cadets building in Trinity Road; 28/02/2018 – Attempted burglary was reported on the 03/03/2018 along Upton Road but took place on the 28/02/2018 . Suspects tried to gain entry to the property via the kitchen window. We have had one report of a criminal damage to a motor vehicle. The damage was reported on the 01/03/2018 but incident had taken place on the 28/02/2018. The location of this incident was along Gravel Hill Close. There have been two reports of mobile phones being stolen: 02/03/2018 – Phone was taken from a hand bag that was partially zipped; 03/03/2018 – Victim was in McDonalds and was pick pocketed and mobile phone was stolen. We have had two other reports of items taken from Costa Coffee and Primark. Below is a bit more detail about them: 02/03/2018 – Theft of unattended property in Costa’s Coffee shop in the shopping centre; 02/03/2018 – Purse that was left in the changing rooms in Primark had went missing when victim had returned to collect it. High visibility patrols have taken place in Broomfield Road, Upton Road, Lewin Road, Sunland Avenue, Lion Road, Standard Road, and all of the roads off of these to combat recent residential burglaries. Broomfield Road – 29 residents spoken to and crime prevention advice left with others, in an effort to raise awareness of burglaries. Library – Coffee morning 26 persons spoken to about personal safety and crime prevention. Methuen Road – Male given a penalty notice for urinating in the street. We have noticed youths are starting to congregate outside the Bowling Alley and around Methuen Road and Oaklands Road, the team is engaging with them to reduce ASB. We have issues in Iris Avenue in relation to youths on push bikes. The team are currently looking into this and you may notice more patrols on that street. Please do give us a call if anyone notices anything". Colyers ward:- "On Sunday 4th March at approx. 3am a youth tried to gain access to a garden shed in Northumberland Way to try to steal an off road motorbike. Fortunately the family dog alerted the family and disturbed the suspect who escaped over a fence. This week there has been one attempted burglary on Monday 5th March between 10am and 2.30pm. Victim came home from shopping to find the front door handle pushed in and the handle on the inside had fallen on the floor. Entry was not gained and no property was taken. There was a robbery by the entrance to Erith Recreation ground in Thanet Road around 9pm to 9.30pm in the evening of Tuesday 6th March. The victim was sprayed in the face with red spray paint and robbed of their shoulder bag. There has been a large increase to calls about Anti -Social Behaviour from youths in Hampton House, Barnehurst. Youths have been there almost daily, urinating in the stairwells, smoking and taking drugs, shouting and screaming and generally disrupting the residents. So far this week there have been three youths arrested for carrying an offensive weapon and two stolen motorbikes have been seized. Our Next Community Contact Session will be at 3pm in the Blackberry Patch Community Centre on Badlow Close on Monday 12th March". Crayford ward:- "In the early hours of 02/03/2018 a secure Yamaha motorcycle was stolen from the underground garage area at Tanners Close. The owner was alerted that it was on the move as it had a tracker. It was located in the Thamesmead/Abbey Wood area. Between 19.30 on 01/03/2018 and 7.30 on 02/03/2018 a KTM motorcycle was stolen from Thames Road, it had been securely chained and there are CCTV images of the suspects. On Friday 02/03/2018 a vehicle that had made off from police was stopped in Green Place, the vehicle and occupants were searched and arrests were made. Between 18.30 on 27/02/2018 and 11.00 on 02/03/2018 a Ford Focus was stolen from outside an address in Barnes Cray Road. Between 16.30-17.30 on 05/03/2018 a Black Yamaha was stolen from Wolsley Close, a witness made themselves known to the owner. Between 20.00 on 04/03/2018 and 10.00 on 05/03/2018 a Silver Mondeo was stolen from Medway Road, the owner still has the keys. Crayford SNT in partnership with the London Borough of Bexley, and assisted by Barnehurst and Christchurch SNT executed a warrant at an address in Woodfall Drive, one person was arrested for Fraud offences. We are completing home visits this week to youths involved with anti-social behaviour at Town Hall Square. We will also be issuing a Community Protection Notice to a Male known to be instigating anti-social behaviour at Town Hall Square and the Europa Gym". Erith ward:- "If you see us walking about tapping away on a large mobile phone, this is in fact a work tablet for us to update reports etc on the street. All officers in Bexleyheath have received these tablets. There may be some learning and teething problems, but hopefully this will make us on the street more and less in the office, Time will tell. Last week we had a few snowy days across Erith but as you can see by our twitter (@MPSErith) we were out and about patrolling as normal, even though I almost fell over more than once much to Gill's amusement. A few crimes to report from last week - Criminal Damage Parkspring Court, Erith High Street; Other theft Sycamore Court, Sandcliff Road; Aggravated Burglary 03/03/2018 Erith Mini Market Alford Road; Shoplift > £199 Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc ,James Watt Way; Theft from motor vehicle 01/03/2018 River Wharf, Mulberry Way". Lesnes Abbey ward:- "Burglary - On Wednesday 28/02/18 in Bedonwell Road, Came home last Saturday and someone had forced back gate open. Didn't notice at time but someone had tried to get through back doors at back of house. Only noticed footmarks and screwdriver marks this morning. No access was gained. Incident reported on Sunday 04/03/18; On Saturday 03/03/18 between the hours of 01:00 pm and 05:00pm an attempted burglary occurred in Coptefield Drive. The resident noticed marks on the door near the lock. No entry gained; Motor vehicle crime - During the early hours of Saturday 03/03/18 a vehicle parked in Lensbury Way had a window smashed. Date for your diary: Have a say day. Any motorists using the BP Connect petrol station on Harrow Manor Way, On Wednesday 15/03/18 between the hours of 11:00 am and 12:00 midday pick up some Motor Vehicle Crime prevention information from the Lesnes Abbey team. Follow Lesnes Abbey on twitter@mpslesnesabbey. If any Burglary or Motor Vehicle Crime prevention information wanted, please contact the Lesnes Abbey team on the details above". North End ward:- "We had a vehicle stolen from Crescent Road near the King of the Grill during Monday afternoon. The car had been damaged in the snow and was totally un-driveable but has somehow been taken. There was also a theft of a sat nav and a bag from a car in Cedar Road on Saturday evening. No other crimes of note. Our team assisted Belvedere officers in executing a warrant last Thursday. Drugs, money and other paraphernalia was recovered and 3 arrests made. PC Telfer and PCSO Pigott found a knife near Tesco on Northend Road during a patrol on Monday. No evidence to suggest it had been used in a crime but it has been disposed of correctly. All the team were on a patrol bus on Tuesday and lots of patrolling in the ward took place, especially around Boundary Street, Grange House and Applegarth House. No incidents to report during the bad snowfall last week, we hope you were all safe and well, we were out and about and none of our officers fell over…….well maybe once or twice!" Thamesmead East ward:- "Good News , only a small amount of crime reported on the ward this week. No Burglaries to report. Vehicle Crime - During the early hours of Sunday Morning, a vehicle was stolen from outside Jacob House, Kale Road. Dates for the diary - On Friday 16th March, between 1100 and 1200 hours, the team will be at the Link, Bazalgette Way, SE2 9BS. Please come and see us and have a chat regarding any issues where you live etc. The team will also be at the Thamesmead Library, on Tuesday 20th March, between 1415 and 1515 hours".
Following on from my earlier discourse relating to the potential Lidl store in Fraser Road, Erith, I thought that I would share this with you - a humorous ditty on the hazards of retail therapy in Aldi and Lidl. Well worth a watch, and very funny.