Sunday, February 25, 2018

Ego investment.

The photos above were sent to me by Sarah and Peter of the Exchange; they show engineers carefully removing the historic copper weather vane from the roof of The Carnegie Library building in Walnut Tree Road, Erith, before it was taken away for expert restoration. The Carnegie Library building is now completely swathed in scaffolding, and the temporary roof structure has now been created; this will allow the old roof to be disassembled and removed from site whilst keeping the interior of the classic library secure from the weather, so that refurbishment work can get under way. The weather vane restoration is being undertaken by a lady called Heather Burrell, who specialises in restoring public works of art; you can see her website here. I am really pleased to see that work is now well under way to restore a building, that I, and many others regard to be a landmark structure in the London Borough of Bexley. A series of public open days are planned, to allow visitors to see what is being done to restore and repurpose the landmark building. The Carnegie Library will be open on Thursday April 5th, and Thursday June 14th. The Exchange will be there from 10am - 4pm to provide tours and answer any questions you have about the project. What do you think? Leave a comment below, or alternatively Email me at  

You may have seen stories in the mainstream press that Facebook is losing users in a very dramatic way. Last year over 2.8 million users under the age of 25 stopped using the service in the USA alone. The figures are thought to be roughly similar in other territories. The reasons for the drop off of use, especially by the young appear to be complex, and a number of interlinked factors are involved. One issue that has been annoying users is that Facebook will send emails to users warning them that they are having problems logging into their accounts, Bloomberg reported last month. “Just click the button below and we’ll log you in. If you weren’t trying to log in, let us know,” the emails reportedly read. Other times, Facebook will ask for a user’s phone number to set up two-factor authentication—then spam the number with notification texts. I have read reports of Facebook users setting up new accounts - for example for their business, rather than their personal use. The user did not use the new account very often, but did switch on two factor authorisation. For a while they had no problems, but after a few weeks the user reported that as their unused profile stagnated, they got more and more messages. In January, Facebook texted the user six times—mostly with updates about what their ex  partner was posting on the website. This month, they have already received four texts from Facebook. The user also reports that they do not recognise the name of one of the other “friends” Facebook messaged them about. The user told me that they view the texts are a particularly obnoxious form of spam, and instead of making them want to log into Facebook, they remind them why they are now avoiding it. What I have been told is most frustrating is that Facebook has taken a security feature like two-factor authentication—which gives users valuable protection from phishing and account takeovers—and perverted it into a tool for spam. It is a decision that prioritises engagement over security and will teach users who are experimenting with two-factor for the first time that it’s not worth the hassle, ultimately degrading user safety. “Abusing a security technology like 2FA by turning it into a marketing opportunity is pretty much the most short-term clever, long-term foolish thing Facebook could do,” Matthew Green, a cryptographer at Johns Hopkins University was recently quoted as saying in an interview on technology news website GizModo. Social media websites such as Facebook are also used to spread all sorts of news and stories some true, some not. More on Facebook, and how social media can be used to misinform users later in this update. 

News reached me on Thursday afternoon that discount supermarket giant Lidl are planning to open a new superstore in Fraser Road, Erith on what is currently the site of the retail unit containing Topps Tiles, Screwfix, and the Bath Store. This row of shops has never been very popular or successful, and I can understand the thinking behind the move. It is my understanding that the adjoining Wickes DIY store will be unaffected by any Lidl development. There is going to be a public consultation on the proposed development, which is being held on Thursday 8th March between 4-8pm at: The Angelus Centre Bexley Road, Northumberland Heath. I will be attending this event, so do look out for me. Lidl's Estates team, and their property consultants have certainly been doing their homework. The new discount supermarket will be located right next door to the soon to be completed Erith Quarry housing development. Personally I don't think that the Lidl store will threaten the business of the Alford Road Londis mini market, much in the same way that Morrison's in Erith town centre does not affect the business of the Londis store in the adjacent Manor Road. What I do think the Londis will affect is the business of Morrison's. The two supermarkets will be in direct competition - something I feel will benefit local shoppers. Morrison's has had a virtual monopoly on consumable retail in erith for nearly twenty years, and a shake up can only be good for the consumer. I know that some local residents are concerned about the new Lidl causing more traffic congestion, and I agree, this is a real concern; the whole of Erith, from Bronze Age Way, into Queen's Road and the whole Bexley Road roundabout and bridge is locked solid with traffic on regular occasions, and almost continuously from around midday on Fridays for some unknown reason. What do you think? Leave a comment below, or Email me at

Malcolm Knight of the excellent "Bexley is Bonkers" blog is due to appear on the 27th of February at Sevenoaks Magistrate Court to answer a charge of harassment that has been brought by Kent Police on behalf of Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill. I have to admit that I am party to quite a lot of information about the case that is not available to the general public. Until the case is resolved, there is much that I am unable to report; suffice to say that I regard Councillor Fothergill's chances of winning the case against Malcolm Knight are about the same as a snowball surviving a supernova. In fact, from what I know of the case, Councillor Fothergill is going to find herself in some very hot water indeed, when details of her activities are brought to the attention of the court. I am aware that a number of witnesses are prepared to testify against the councillor - including locals with professional qualifications in respect of investigating her alleged misdeeds. Time will tell.

In the last week one of the largest news stories both nationally and locally has been that of the temporary closure of a majority of KFC fast food restaurants around the country due to problems with their supply chain management, which has recently been taken over by courier firm DHL. It would seem that a local man has been having some fun on Facebook, getting so far as footage taken from his mobile phone on Sunday ending up on The Sun website on Tuesday morning. The individual in question was brought to my attention by a couple of readers who had seen the video, which allegedly showed two KFC workers taking a box containing raw chicken from the back seat of a car into the Erith restaurant via a side entrance. The individual had then said on Facebook that the Erith restaurant had subsequently been closed. He then backed this up with a photo showing a closure notice posted in the window of the Erith shop - he also stated without any supporting evidence that people were illegally sleeping overnight in the restaurant. Something did not add up to me, so I went round to the KFC Drive Through in Manor Road to check for myself. I found the place open and serving customers at around 2.15 on Sunday afternoon. Indeed the place was busier than usual, as it seemed that many of the congregations of the several African churches in the local area had turned up for a fried chicken lunch after their services. Many of the guests were dressed in their Sunday best whilst eating - not something one sees very often in a fast food outlet such as KFC. I returned home and reported back to the readers who had contacted me. One thing I also determined was that the photograph showing the supposed closure notice was actually taken at another KFC branch, not the Erith one; it would seem that the trouble maker who was trying to stir up controversy on Facebook had found a notice posted online, downloaded it and then uploaded it to Facebook to back up his story. Quite why he had done this I really cannot fathom. It is ironic that by Monday the Erith KFC had indeed closed down due to a lack of chicken,  as a majority of UK branches had also done, so the work of the mischief maker on Facebook was largely irrelevant. The video of the two KFC workers carrying a box into the Erith branch was subsequently carried by the News Shopper, and then by The Sun newspaper (never let the facts get in the way of a good story). There is no evidence that the box carried by the two contained raw chicken - apart from the jokey comments shouted to the two workers by the camera operator, but that would not be a good story, so the fiction was subsequently allowed to spread. The story was in actuality nothing more than clickbait, and I would not be surprised if the owner of the Erith franchise was not taking legal advice regarding damage to reputation. A local source informed me that the box the workers had taken from the car into the back of the restaurant actually contained a selection of cleaning materials. I was also told that when the Erith KFC Manager realised that the workers could not serve much in the way of food, and they could not at that stage be sent home, he got them to carry out a deep clean on the kitchen and the public areas of the restaurant - an instruction that apparently did not go down too well with some of the staff. Personally I don't care one way or other regarding KFC - they are a huge multi national that should have management capable of running an efficient supply chain. What I do care about is the workers in the stores whose jobs could be threatened by the break down in ingredient supply, and the fact that so many people seem to take anything posted on social media such as Facebook as gospel, when it is so often not the case. It is the digital equivalent of “it was in the newspaper, so it must be true”. There is a psychological theory called “ego investment” which may go quite some way to explaining why people tend to behave in such a manner. Ego investment basically means how much people care about a certain subject. That, in turn, dictates how much time and energy they will spend investigating, defending, and sharing their knowledge about it. If they are not really invested in something, they won't put in any effort to vet it out - because they don't really care. So why post it at all? It may be that a paranoid mind-set can override a dubious one, which results in a "just in case" attitude.  "It won't hurt me to post this, even if it isn't true - so why not? Maybe I should... just in case something might happen." On top of this there may also be what is termed “the lemming factor” – where Facebook users feel that if they are not reacting to a story, however implausible or bizarre, then they will be in some way losing out. This is very similar to the old phenomenon of chain letters; There’s a sense of ritualised behaviour of sharing it that makes you feel more in control—which is why people share the letters that say if you don’t share this, then something bad will happen—because the cost of not doing it is big, but the cost of sharing it is minimal. There is also the friendship element – if the hoax story has been posted by a friend, and you trust the friend, you are more likely to believe stories that they post – their critical faculties having been short circuited by their relationship. Sometimes, very bright people fall for bogus messages because they want to believe them: for instance, because they fit with their political views, or offer some exciting gift, or refer to some threat that they don’t have the technical knowledge to recognise as improbable. Intelligence and omniscience are not synonyms. Sometimes, people just don’t care: they like the story the message tells too much to check it for factual accuracy. The late scientist and philosopher Professor Carl Sagan produced what he called his “baloney detection kit” – a series of rules to employ when encountering any potential guile or manipulation. “1. Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.” 2. Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view. 3. Arguments from authority carry little weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts. 4. Spin more than one hypothesis. If there is something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among “multiple working hypotheses,” has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy. 5. Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it is yours. It is only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will. 6. Quantify. If whatever it is you are explaining has some measure, some numerical quantity attached to it, you will be much better able to discriminate among competing hypotheses. What is vague and qualitative is open to many explanations. Of course there are truths to be sought in the many qualitative issues we are obliged to confront, but finding them is more challenging. 7. If there is a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise) — not just most of them. 8. Occam’s Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler. 9. Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified. Propositions that are untestable, unfalsifiable are not worth much. Consider the grand idea that our Universe and everything in it is just an elementary particle — an electron, say — in a much bigger Cosmos. But if we can never acquire information from outside our Universe, is not the idea incapable of disproof? You must be able to check assertions out. Inveterate sceptics must be given the chance to follow your reasoning, to duplicate your experiments and see if they get the same result." Certainly some very thought provoking principles.

Now for the weekly safety and security updates from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association. First from Barnehurst ward:- "Another good week crime wise for Barnehurst ward with no burglaries reported. Unfortunately we have had a nasty knife point robbery which occurred at Old Road Convenience store on Sat 17th February at 12.20pm, the suspect a black male wearing a grey track suit with a bright yellow waistband toggle, black trainers with his face covered entered the store with a large knife described as being the size of an adults forearm and took £900 from the venue. If you saw anything please contact police on 101 or call Crime Stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. We are very pleased to welcome new Neighbourhood Watch Coordinators for Midfield Avenue and Martens Avenue, we are so close to getting 100% coverage. Join a member of the team at Barnehurst Golf Course for a chat about any local issues on Wednesday 7th March 2018 at 11am. As always please follow us on Twitter @MPSBarnehurst and Face Book - Barnehurst Police to find out what your team are up to and crime prevention advice".  Belvedere ward:- "The team put a heavy emphasis on wanted offenders on the ward this week. We attended addresses of numerous outstanding offenders. On Saturday PC Ash arrested a male for GBH with Intent and Failing to Appear at court. On searching the male after arrest, he was found to be in possession of cannabis which he was further arrested for. The offender had been outstanding since August 2017 but was his arrested and remanded until Monday to be put before the courts. This couldn't have come at a worse time for the male as it was also his birthday. On Sunday we conducted more enquiries and PC Rob arrested a male for Failing to Appear at court. He had been also outstanding since 2015 due to being evasive so once again the team were pleased to catch up with him. The team have been conducting plain clothes patrols in an effort to combat crime. On Tuesday PC Ash and PC Rob assisted detectives from CID and officers from emergency response following a lead regarding burglaries on the borough – one male was arrested as well has his home address being searched. PCSO Jay was working to provide reassurance following attempted burglary at Cressingham Court. He has also been completing CCTV enquiries at Sainsbury’s. Jay has been providing assistance following welfare concerns for elderly female at Prospect Close. Jay has been visited every House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) on the ward. Noise complaint Nuxley Road. The gate for the main entrance at the Belvedere Park gate has now been fixed and CCTV now working to cover vehicle entrance. You can come and meet with the team in ASDA café between midday and 1pm on 28/02/2018 if you would like to meet and discuss any matters with the team in person". Brampton ward:- "Unfortunately Brampton has been hit hard with burglaries over the last week or so with a total of six. Some appear to be linked with Asian gold often the apparent target. On the 20th there was a burglary in Brampton Road where suspects smashed their way through the rear patio doors. It appears they were disturbed by police. They fled out of the front door and sped off in a black BMW 5 series estate up Bowford Avenue; On the 15th there was a similar burglary again in Brampton Road where the rear patio doors were smashed and gold jewellery and cash taken, again Asian gold possibly the target; On the 17th there was a burglary in Fairlawn avenue where the suspects were challenged by the victim, suspects made off empty handed in a light coloured car possibly a Mercedes; On the 18th we had a burglary in Shakespeare Road. Entry was gained through the front porch door which had not been locked with a key but had the handle lifted and engaged. Purse and handbag taken. Possible target may have been a high value vehicle which was on the drive; On the 17th a burglary occurred in Pickford Close, again entry was gained by smashing a glass panel in the door. Male suspects were seen leaving in a black BMW estate (ring any bells). Asian gold again may have been the target; On the 15th Cumberland Drive had a burglary where entry was gained through smashing a single pane ground floor window. Items of jewellery and a memory card was taken. Apart from the glut of burglaries there was a theft from motor vehicle in Dunwich Road on 16th where the victim had his golf equipment taken from his car. We are continuing to target harden the burglary hotspots through cocooning where we leaflet the surrounding area giving crime prevention advice and attempt to gather intelligence. Please stay vigilant and keep checking Titter or Facebook for any community contact sessions we may have arranged". Christchurch ward:- "Unfortunately the ward had 5 burglaries and 1 attempted Burglary reported over the last week. The attempted burglary was reported on the 16/02/2018 in Broomfield Road. The suspects were seen to walk up along the driveway and attempted to gain entry to the property. The following is is the list of the burglaries that have been reported: 17/02/2018 – Woodlands Road - Suspects entered through the rear of the property; 19/02/2018 – Freta Road - Two have been reported on the street and both next door to each other. Method of entry has been the same on both properties, read door windows smashed; 18//02/2018 – Lion Road - Suspects entered through the front door of the property; 17/02/2018 – Church Road - Suspects had gained entry through front porch and then into the front main door; 16/02/2018 – Broomfield Road - Suspects gained entry through the front door and two vehicles were taken from the property. A local business in Mayplace Road had a burglary on the 12/02/2018. The business premises is currently being refurbished. Entry was gained and tools taken. Two theft of motor vehicles were reported as well as two criminal damage to motor vehicles. Details: 19/02/2018 – Rochester Drive - Theft from motor vehicle whereby number plates taken from the vehicle; 14/02/2018 – Red House Lane - Lights stolen from a vehicle; 17/02/2018 – Petworth Road - Wing mirror broken off a vehicle; 16/02/2018 – Fairway Bexleyheath - Wing mirror broken off vehicle. On the 15/02/2018 there was a report of a theft along the Broadway. Suspect had unzipped the victims bag and had taken a mobile phone. On the 15/02/2018 we had held our bike marking event near to the bowling alley. Over 30 bikes were marked and registered. A very successful event where many youths were interacted with and lots of advice given regarding inappropriate cycling in the area. Separate to this, groups of youths have been stopped as a result of them riding their bikes along busy roads in groups. Parental letters have been delivered to make parents aware and to work with them to educate. The team have also be completing motorcycle patrols on the ward in known areas of ASB. A youth found in possession of cannabis was charged to court as a result of proactive patrols conducted by the Christchurch team. The youth was found guilty at court. The team took part in the Chinese New Year that was celebrated along the Broadway. This was a good opportunity for the team to interact with the pubic as well as providing a visible presence on the streets". Colyers ward:- "PC Bangura has had 2 positive searches in the last week. One in Barnehurst Close which resulted in a fine being issued and the other in Broadoak Road which resulted in a cannabis warning being issued. Criminal Damage has been reported in Barnehurst Avenue whereby a garden wall was found knocked down in the morning of Weds 21st of February. No other crimes of note to report. We have a Community Contact Session from 1pm on Weds 28th Feb at Cup a Cakes in Colyers Lane". Crayford ward:- "On Friday 16th February between 18.00-23.45 a burglary took place in Heath Road, Crayford. Entry to the house was via the side gate, the lower panel to a rear door had been kicked in. An untidy search was made inside the house and an Mac Book, TV and cash were taken; At Hall Place car park on Wednesday 14th February between 13.45-16.45 front and rear number plates were stolen from a black Volkswagon, the screws were left on the ground. This is a prime example of the benefit of anti-tamper screws for securing number plates to a vehicle; On Tuesday 13 February between 21.45-21.50 a stone was thrown at a moving vehicle in Old Road close to Perry Street smashing the driver’s window causing some considerable alarm to the driver; In Green Walk someone attempted to gain entry to a garden shed set back at the rear of a garden, the suspect attempted to prise off the locks. This happened between Thursday 15 February 21.30 and Friday 16th February at 06.30; On Monday 19 February at 11.26 a brand new washing machine was stolen from the rear of a shop in Station Road, just prior to being loaded for delivery. The suspect lifted a tarpaulin to select it and loaded it on to a van with an accomplice. The whole incident was captured on CCTV; On Sunday 18 February between 13.50-14.20 at Tower Retail Park, a lady had her keys removed from her unfastened coat pocket, she has been advised to change her car and house locks as a precaution. As some people may be aware there are people claiming to be homeless asking for money around the car parks in Crayford. Whilst not doubting that people may be genuinely homeless we would respectfully ask that money is not given as this may be used to feed another habit. A genuinely homeless person would be happy to accept a hot drink and some food. At the weekend a male who had told people he was homeless was given money, we were told that he later used it in a betting shop. Please be aware. You may notice that there is more traffic using Crayford during the evenings over the coming weeks , this is due to road maintenance works being completed along Thames Road between Thomas Road and Burnham Road. There are no works planned for weekends and the works will be carried out between 19.00-02.00 hours. Details for diversion on route 428 can also be found at bus stops and other diversions will be put in place locally as works progress". Erith ward:- "We have had an attempted burglary where victim heard a bang on the front door, when they looked a car drove off and tool marks where noticed on the front door. Others crimes from the last week were: Theft of a motor vehicle on 13/02/2018 in Cricketers Close Plc,James Watt Way; Criminal damage on 13/02/2018 in Erith Road; Theft of motor vehicle on 14/02/2018 in Upper holly Hill Road; Theft from a persona on 15/02/2018 at Erith Riverside Shopping Centre; Theft from a personal on 14/02/2018 West Street; Theft from a person near to Morrisons, James Watt Way; Attempted residential burglary on 17/02/2018 in Bexley Road; Making off without paying on 17/02/2018 Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc, James Watt Way; Criminal damage to a motor vehicle on 17/02/2018 in Pembroke Road. Lesnes Abbey ward:- "Burglary - Burglary occurred in King Harold's Way on Sunday 18/02/18, between the hours of 10:00 am and 11:20 am. the front door was forced open. Overnight on Saturday 17/02/18 and Sunday 18/02/18 an attempted burglary occurred in Glenview, the UPVC outer door had not been locked. Motor vehicle crimes - During the early hours of Tuesday 20/02/18 a motor cycle was stolen from an address in Harvel Crescent. The lock had been removed by suspects/s using bolt cutters. Overnight of Monday 19/02/18 and Tuesday 20/02/18 a vehicle parked in West Heath Road, locked and secure was broken into and a power tool taken, unknown value. Friday 16/02/18 Maran Way – Wallet stolen from Company car. Wallet was recovered in Dalberg Way by member of the public and returned to the victim. Date for your diary All are welcome: Monday 26/02/18 - a Community Contact Session will be held at the Bostall Library Community Group, King Harrold's Way between the hours of 15:00 pm until 16:00 pm. An opportunity for members of the community who prefer face- to – face contact, to speak with a Dedicated Ward Officer. Follow Lesnes Abbey on twitter@mpslesnesabbey". North End ward:- "Our knife point robber has unfortunately struck again since the last update. Last Tuesday around 8.15pm at Erith Food and Wine in The Nursery and straight after where he unsuccessfully tried at Best One in Lincoln Road. We have assisted CID in the ongoing investigation and been looking at CCTV locations in the surrounding areas to try and establish the route the suspect is taking between the premises. You may see form other teams updates that he has struck again last Saturday lunchtime at Old Road in Crayford. All efforts are being made to try and catch the male, images of the male have been given to all our local shops and have been posted on social media and local press outlets. 2 cannabis warnings given in the last week, one in Boundary Street and another outside Tesco in Northend Road. No other crimes of note to report. Our next upcoming Community Contact Session is on Thursday 01/03/2018 from 11am in the Forest Road café, please pop along and say hi". Northumberland Heath ward:- "A Residential burglary in Brook Street took place on Tuesday February 13th between 1100 – 8.30pm. The house was unattended due to a recent family bereavement when the suspect entered via an unlocked upstairs window. An untidy search was conducted by nothing was taken. A second Residential burglary in Northumberland Park on the afternoon of Wednesday February 14th. Entry was gained by smashing the rear lounge window. An untidy search was conducted and the suspect stole a laptop. For crime prevention advice please go to the following link A commercial burglary took place in Brook Street overnight on Saturday 17th February. The owners returned to the premises on Sunday 18th to find the till missing. Thankfully the till only contained five pounds in change but an iPad was also stolen. Entry was gained via a small kitchen window which was forced open. Crime prevention advice can be found on the Metropolitan Police website One overnight theft from a motor vehicle in Nurstead Road on Friday 16th February. A van was parked on the driveway locked and secured. A hole was made in in the rear door and a power tool was stolen. Entry to the cab was not made. Crime prevention advice can be found at We have tasked the off road police bike patrols this coming weekend in the Northumberland Heath Recreation Ground following reports of motorbikes being ridden in an anti-social manner". Thamesmead East ward:- "Burglary - Bernal Close thamesmead this happened while the victim was away from November 2017- 17th February 2018. No forced entry seen the property was locked and secured by the victim when she left home. A 14” Toshiba TV stolen. Attempted Burglary - Sunday 18/02/18 Teeswater Close Erith – Victim left his flat locked and secure at 1030am continuing his normal Sunday routine. Returning at 12:30 to find that his front window had been smashed. Nothing taken. Theft of Motor Vehicle - Sunday 18/02/18 Mangold Way. The suspect had been staying at the victim home for the last few days. The victim states that he had his car keys in his jean pocket when he went to get them they had been taken and the suspect had left his house. No other party had access to the keys or house. News - The team attended Sporting Club Thamesmead on Thursday 15/02/18 for Sport Relief and Monday 19/02/18 speaking to youth’s age 11-16yrs to create awareness of Hate Crime, ASB and the consequences".

The end video this week features Erith Yacht Club, which is located at the Eastern end of Manor Road, where it becomes Ray Lamb Way as it heads out to the Slade Green Marshes. The club is one of the less well known local organisations, as it is somewhat hidden from view. See what you think.