Sunday, September 16, 2018

Wharfside Close.

One of the unique selling points of Erith that seems to get overlooked by many people is its rich maritime heritage - after all, it is the only place in the whole of the London Borough of Bexley which has public access to the River Thames. The Riverside Gardens and the Pier are lovely places to spend time on a nice day, and it is a pity that more local people are not aware of these assets. What is also remarkable - to me at least - is that there are some very attractive houses and apartments located right on the river front. One would have expected that these properties would attract a premium price, but this is actually not the case at all. A four bedroomed, terraced town house in Wharfside Close, right on the river walk sold in May 2018 for £214,500, and a two bedroomed apartment sold in April 2018 for £125,000 - astonishingly reasonable, when one considers that a similar house or apartment with decent river views in somewhere like Deptford or Woolwich would sell for around ten times as much, and in somewhere really upmarket like Putney, the sky would be the limit. The Wharfside Close properties are large and modern, they have off street parking and there is even a dedicated children's play park area. The views out over the River Thames and Erith Pier are stunning, and you have Morrison's supermarket next door. I find it strange that the properties do not command a higher price. Wharfside Close is no more than five minutes walk from Erith Station, two minutes from the Riverside Shopping Centre and the bus terminus, and less than ten minutes by car to the M25 and A2. I feel that at some point soon, the market for these places is going to take off, probably once the Crossrail / Elizabeth Line finally opens. More on this story later - who says I don't plan these things?

I have an apology to make to a reader; earlier in the week someone Emailed me with an enquiry about the historical gardening practices of local residents - specifically referring to the preference for certain plants. I read the Email with great interest, and intended to reply to it. Unfortunately I accidentally deleted the Email before I replied to it, for which I heartily apologise. Please could the sender resend the Email to me, and I will get back to you accordingly? In my defence I can say that I get between 90 and 120 non - Spam Emails every day, and in an attempt to keep control of my inbox, there have been recent occasions when I have been a little over - enthusiastic in hitting the "delete" button. Please get back to me. 

In a disturbing recent development, there is evidence that the notorious "Croydon Cat Killer" has been operating in Erith. Claire Tack of Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association announced on Tuesday that:- "On 12th September a dead cat was found mutilated in the Brook Street area. A vet confirmed that the cat had been attacked by someone using a knife or scalpel". The so called "Croydon Cat Killer" is a real mystery; the first reports of an individual apparently killing and then mutilating domestic pet cats dates back to October 2015 when animal welfare group South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty (SNARL) reported incidents of cat mutilation to the police and RSPCA. In November 2015 the Metropolitan Police began to investigate the mutilations, under the name 'Operation Takahe' and led by Detective Sergeant Andy Collin. In January 2016 it was reported that 30,000 local people signed a petition requesting the police conduct DNA testing of the corpses. By February 2016, the deaths of 10 cats (four in Croydon and one each in Streatham, Mitcham Common, Sutton, Charlton, Peckham and Finchley) had been linked by an examining vet who wished to remain anonymous. However, the police at this time stated that the number of cases was in single digits. In February 2016 it was reported that police had yet to find any evidence that the animals were deliberately killed by a human. At this time an investigating vet stated that he found raw chicken in the stomachs of several killed cats and suggested the animals had probably been lured by the killer with the offer of meat. In March 2016, Detective Sergeant Collin said that the perpetrator might be only mutilating the corpses after the animals had already died and might only face charges relating to public order or theft. He noted that of the six cases being investigated, five of the cats had not been claimed which would make it difficult to bring charges of theft or criminal damage. As of March 2016, no human DNA had been recovered. In April 2016 it was reported that the RSPCA believed that the deaths were due to blunt trauma, “likely consistent with being hit by a moving vehicle”. SNARL claimed that the animals were killed deliberately, perhaps by being thrown against a wall. By April 2016, SNARL had recorded 50 attacks across Crystal Palace, Mitcham, Streatham, Peckham, Charlton, Richmond, Orpington, and Farnborough in South London, Finchley, Tottenham and Archway in North London, Stepney in the east, and Guildford in Surrey. SNARL reported that other animals including foxes and rabbits have been attacked in the same way. In June 2016, SNARL speculated that there had been 100 kills following a decapitated cat being found in Morden. At this time police stated that they had spent 1,020 hours on the inquiry since December 2015. By July 2016, the media and SNARL had begun referring to the attacker as the "M25 Cat Killer" after new reports, including a cat killed in Whyteleafe, Surrey, suggested the killer was operating around the M25 motorway. After reports of animal deaths in Maidstone, Sevenoaks and seven other locations, SNARL adopted the terms "M25 Animal Killer" and "UK Cat Killer". In September 2017, ArroGen Veterinary Forensics began re-examining some animals to help police and RSPCA to bring prosecutions. In October 2017 it was reported that the killer was suspected of mutilating over 370 animals. Detective Sergeant Collin stated that it was possible there were copycats. In December 2017, police linked five cat deaths around Northampton from August to November that year to the same killer, but later police stated the Northampton deaths were not being linked to the others though a 31-year-old man had been arrested. It was reported in August 2018 that, three years after the first report of the "Croydon Cat Killer", no evidence relating to an individual who may be committing the alleged crimes had been found. There was no evidence found of clothing, human DNA or a murder weapon and no CCTV footage has been recovered. The mystery continues, and it is worrying that whatever is behind the animal deaths and mutilations, it has now happened on our own doorstep.

Following on from the article last week on the unparalleled level of traffic congestion that is occurring in Northumberland Heath, due to Tesco lorries parking in the road in order to unload stock for the Tesco Express mini supermarket located on the corner of Bexley Road and Northumberland Park, right in the centre of Northumberland Heath, I have had a considerable amount of correspondence from readers on the issue, which seems to be a concern for many local people. As some readers may know, fellow local Blogger and campaigner Malcolm Knight of the excellent "Bexley is Bonkers" and I keep in a pretty regular correspondence, as some of our stories are of mutual interest. Malcolm highlighted that he had in fact raised the issue of Tesco induced traffic congestion way back in an (edited for brevity) Blog entry he wrote on the 25th May 2012. Malcolm wrote (reproduced with permission):- "The next subject for discussion was Tesco’s plan to open an ‘Express’ in the premises formerly occupied by the family owned electrical retailer Wellingtons. Wellingtons has not succumbed to the corporate might of Comet and the like, but has moved next door to a modern store more suited to their requirements. Tesco seems to be on a mission to take over the borough. Two large stores (planned or open) and five Express stores come to mind immediately. The protesters and their placards stood no serious chance of stopping Tesco in their tracks. The existing store permission would allow a shop to open there tomorrow. However Tesco wants to install a cash machine (ATM), change the shop front a bit, put up a Tesco sign and install air conditioning units and compressors all of which do require permission. It was said there are already six ATMs in the small shopping centre and they attract groups who loiter with ill-intent and outside a store selling cheap alcohol it was a “dangerous” situation. Councillors Bishop and Waters were concerned about the traffic congestion that delivery vehicles would cause and anyone who knows the area will be very aware that things are pretty bad already. The shops do not have rear service areas but Planning Department chief, Susan Clark, had to remind the Committee that there was absolutely nothing that could legally be done to prevent Tesco using any delivery vehicle they might choose. For the record, Tesco has said they don’t plan to use anything bigger than ten metres long. If I lived close to the proposed store I would be more concerned about the noise from the compressors and air-con units. They would be only about four metres from the nearest dwelling, that was the official estimate, the protesters sitting near me said it was closer. It was alleged that the compressors at the Welling store are noisier than the permission allows but councillor Val Clark said this wasn’t true. Tesco might consider sending her some Club card Reward Points for her consistent loyalty. The protesters filed out at 21:45 with shouts of “whitewash” the relevance of which I failed to comprehend. Whilst I can see that Tesco will add little or nothing to the wellbeing of Northumberland Heath and will make the frequently appalling road congestion even worse, the Planning Committee could not reasonably stop it. If local feeling is strong enough residents can always boycott Tesco. It’s not as though the Express prices are competitive. A rip-off from my limited experience". Certainly a prescient prediction from Malcolm. All his concerns about the Tesco Express in Northumberland Heath have now come to pass. With the forthcoming opening of phase one of the Erith Quarry development - which has an entrance / exit located in Carlton Road, the increase in local population that will shortly take place in such close proximity to Northumberland Heath will only exacerbate the congestion problem. I have it on excellent authority that in Northumberland Heath:- "Loading and unloading is permitted on single and double yellow lines for a maximum of 40 minutes if loading is observed. You must not cause an obstruction and ensure that there is no loading ban. A loading ban is indicated by single or double stripes on the kerb (see the graphic above), a double stripe means no loading ever, a single stripe means only loading / unloading at certain times. I have been hoping that Bexley would change the parking to one stripe and restrict the times that Tesco can gridlock the Heath, but there was no appetite for it from council. Instead what they wanted to do is put a loading bay in. That could be done by buying a stretch of the pavement nearest the shops which belongs to the shop owners and then there would be an inlet for the lorries to park up. However I believe that an agreement to sell could not be obtained from the Wellington family who own both their own shop and the Tescos next door". What do you think? Leave a comment below, or Email me at

As predicted, the opening of the African restaurant / bar in the newly refurbished White Hart building in Erith High Street has been delayed; the restaurant / bar was due to open today - the 16th September, but as the licencing committee of Sevenoaks Council (who handle the workload formerly processed by Bexley Council) are not meeting to discuss the application until the 19th September, a delay in opening was inevitable. On top of this, I understand that a number of objections to the current licence application have been submitted by local people. The operators of the restaurant / bar want to serve alcohol from 10am until 4.30am the following morning, and not shut the place until 5am. I am pretty certain that this is merely a "fishing trip" and that the don't really expect this to be granted, but we will have to wait and see what the planning team say. I am positive that the local objections to such excessive opening hours will be fully taken into account. More on this story soon. 

It is a long established fact that digital news platforms have a hard time monetising their content; a good example of this is the Sun newspaper website; for several years it was locked behind a paywall that very few readers actually paid for. In the end the website was made free, and instead relied in online advertisements to pay for it. Smaller local papers have an even harder time of it, as attracting wealthy advertisers can be a real challenge. An example of this is the News Shopper website - a news site that recently boasted of record - breaking viewing figures. The latest industry figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations covering the first six months of 2018. The ABC statistics show had an average of 40,592 daily unique browsers, up by a creditable 12 per cent on the same period last year. The problem the News Shopper website has, like so many other news based sites is that the number of user hits on embedded advertisements is falling off a cliff. The number of website hits compared with the number of clicks on adverts no longer correlate in the way that they used to. The reasons for this are relatively straightforward. Most modern web browsers have a degree of pop - up - blocking and advert filtering built into them. Google's excellent Chrome web browser (which I wrote about at some length last week) has a full ad blocker built in as standard in the latest version. The News Shopper is notorious for having very intrusive adverts, including ones that automatically play audio and video content - which can startle a viewer when they are not expecting sound or video to spontaneously display. In addition to this, the large amount of bandwidth these intrusive adverts take up can cause even the fastest computer to have problems - causing the displayed web page to "jump around" and not load other content as fast as the user would wish. News based websites are suffering as now many viewers use either stand alone ad blockers, or the ad blocking functionality built into many modern web browsers to stop what users see as irritating and intrusive advertising content. The web content providers and the web browser developers are in a virtual arms race to see who can get one over on the other. At present the ad blockers are in the ascendant - to the extent that the News Shopper website now displays a pop - up banner at the bottom of every page on their website asking users to switch off ad blocking, which you can see in the screen capture above - click for a larger image. The trouble is, the News Shopper really only have themselves to blame by making the adverts on their website so numerous, annoying and intrusive. What do you think? Leave a comment below, or alternatively Email me at

Thamesmead Police have issued an appeal to the public to identify the woman in the photograph above. She is wanted in connection with a number of offences, not least that of endangering the life of a child whilst illegally driving a quad bike through a pedestrian walkway in Southmere Park, Thamesmead. If you can identify the woman in the photo, please either contact CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111 or give the information via Alternatively privately Email me with the information,  and I will pass it on to the relevant Police contact for you. If you wish, you can remain completely anonymous. The important thing is to identify the criminal in the photo above, and get her off the streets before the child or an innocent bystander is injured or worse.

Now for the weekly safety and security updates from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association. Firstly from Barnehurst Ward:- "Good news again for Barnehurst as we did not have many crimes. The Barnehurst Officers visited Woodside School for the new term. There have been issues with individuals parking their vehicles on the yellow lines outside the school, on Colyers Lane. This is causing a lot of traffic, so can any parents who pick up their children from Woodside School please bear this in mind. Please join us for our community contact day on Tuesday 18th September at 11am at Barnehurst Golf Course. We will discuss any ward issues that you have and we will also provide residents with crime prevention advice". No report from Belvedere ward this week, so we move swiftly on to Bexleyheath ward:- "We have had a report of a burglary that had happened on the Friday 07/08/2018 along Long Lane Erith. Entry was gained via the rear and jewellery was taken. Also, on Monday 10/09/2018 along Pinnacle Hill Bexleyheath. Suspects had entered victims rear garden and had stolen items. Over the weekend a van was broken into along Grove Road Bexleyheath. Suspect had tried to steal parcels out the van. On Saturday 08/09/2018 – There was report of an interference with motor vehicle along Sterling Road Bexleyheath. Sunday 09/08/2018 – There was also another interference with motor vehicle along Bowness Road Bexleyheath. Between Friday 07/09/2018 & Sunday 09/09/2018 – there was a report of a theft from motor vehicle along Grove Road Bexleyheath. Between Monday 10/09/2018 and Tuesday 11/09/2018 – Along Silverdale Road, a vehicle's window was removed and the ignition barrel damaged. On Saturday 08/09/2018 there was a theft/snatch reported along Market Place Bexleyheath. On Monday 10/09/2018 there was a theft from person reported in Primark Bexleyheath. Phone and cards taken from victim. The team are targeting patrols around Martens Grove and Grove Road especially around the garages to reduce any further reports of anti-social behaviour. Over the last weekend the team had taken part in the Food & Music Event that was on the Broadway, the team had also marked peoples push bikes using Bike Register. We will be holding a coffee morning on Wednesday 19th September between 10.30am and 11.30am at the Central Library, Bexleyheath. Please come along and have a chat with us if you wish. If you do wish to pass on information to Police then please contact Crime stoppers on 0800 555111. Please do not hesitate to contact us via Twitter, Facebook, email and the ward phone. If you are after crime prevention advice, please look at the Met Police website which has lots of information that you may find useful. Remember in an emergency please dial 999 and 101 for non-urgent reporting". Crayford ward:- "Between Monday 20th August and Wednesday 5th September, criminal damage was caused in the grounds of Mayplace Primary School. Four benches were destroyed and the parts moved to create a new seating area. There was evidence of drug usage as well as graffiti. On Thursday 6th September at 7.33 a quad bike was stolen from a driveway in Halcot Avenue. It had an immobiliser fitted and would have been lifted to remove. Between 09.00 on Monday 3rd September and 14.00 on Wednesday 5th September a window was broken in a disused building at Farm Buildings in Maiden Lane. Overnight on Friday 31st August an unknown person threw bricks and alcohol bottles at a Black BMW parked in Whitehill Road causing damage to windows and body panels. Between Friday 20th July and Wednesday 8th August there was an attempted burglary at Whitehill Road. Whilst the owners were away on holiday someone attempted to gain entry, although the UVPC frame was dented and lock damaged, the suspects were unsuccessful. Between 14.00 on Thursday 30th August and 15.00 on Friday 31st August number plates were stolen from a black Seat parked in Valley Road. On Saturday 8th September a resident left their mobile phones and cash card on top of their vehicle in Station Road. Realising that they had done so they stopped to discover them gone. They called the phones to find they were switched off and on checking their location they were in different places not associated to the resident. On Wednesday 5th September between 11.00 -11.10 a theft not classified was recorded. The victim had accidentally left their laptop, a Panasonic Toughbook, on the roof of their vehicle, realising when it slid across the roof and in to the kerb and saw a vehicle behind stop to pick it up. The rightful owner pulled over but the person drove off with it. On Sunday 9th September, an arson of motor vehicle was reported in Bascombe Grove. The silver Ford KA had extensive damage to the interior and engine area, it was confirmed that an accelerant had been used. There is local CCTV of this incident. Between Friday 7th September and Sunday 9th September a resident reported three separate incidents, a lock was glued, a door was broken and eggs were broken all over a silver Ford Focus. On Sunday 9th September at 23.34 there was an interference of motor vehicle reported. A white Honda motorcycle was parked outside an address in Ridge Way, 2 Males were seen tampering with it, they fled when confronted and it was found that the steering column and disc lock had been damaged. On Sunday 9th September a resident reported that their two vehicles had been damaged. The Audi A3 that had been parked in Iron Mill Lane had the windscreen cracked and windscreen wiper snapped off. The Seat Leon that was parked in Rectory Close close to Iron Mill Lane had a deep scratch along the nearside. Our officers gave out three tickets for using a mobile phone whilst driving. We have been out and about on our open spaces in response to calls about youths using and selling drugs".

Erith ward:- "A weapon sweep carried out around the West Street area 3 knives were found in a bush and taken to Bexleyheath police station (photo above). Crimes of note from this week - Theft from Motor Vehicle 05/08/2018 Parkspring Court, Erith High Street - unknown suspect gained access to victims vehicle which was parked in underground open car park; Theft of cycle 05/09/2018 Pier Road - suspect seen on CCTV stealing two bicycles from bike rack at location; Theft of cycle 04/09/2018 Domino's Pizza Bexley Road - male has left his bike locked in a bike rack and when he has returned a short while later the chain was cut and the bike was gone; Theft from Motor Vehicle 06/09/2018 Riverdale Road - suspect taking the vehicle registration plates; Making off 08/09/2018 Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc, James Watt Way; Burglary Residential 07/09/2018 Wharf House, West Street - stolen VIW1's bicycle from the fourth floor of the communal hallway; Theft from Motor Vehicle 10/09/2018 Queen Street - smashing the vehicle window and taking property". Northumberland Heath ward:- "This week we have continued with our work tackling all forms of anti-social behaviour. Over the summer we had several report of nuisance behaviour from a group of young teenage boys and we were able to identify all the individuals involved by viewing CCTV and by talking to the boys on the street whilst on patrol. Two of the boys involved have already received parental letters in regards to this informing their parents of the type of behaviour being reported to police. We referred one of the boys to our ASB panel, chaired by the Bexley Community Safety team at Bexley Council. This week we were able to agree on conditions on an acceptable behaviour contract (ABC) and hope this will both deter and prevent the boy from being in situations where he will be involved in any further ASB. Another boy in the group, already on an ABC, has been reported to the Bexley Community Safety team and more formal intervention is due to follow. We have continued our work on tackling ASB from a group of older teenagers. We have had several reports of noise nuisance in and around Walsingham Walk recently. We conducted plain clothes patrols here throughout the week and identified a group who were congregating here. Details were taken, words of advice were delivered and the group moved away to a different area. We will continue to revisit the area if we continue to receive reports of ASB. Last week we searched a 15 year old female and a 17 year old male for cannabis who were found smoking down an alleyway off Frinsted Road. Over the week both individuals have been interviewed at the police station with parents and will be getting referred to our youth offending team (YOTS) who work with children to try and help and deter them from getting involved in crime. Please continue to report all forms of ASB to the team, so we can continue our work on trying to prevent and deter such behaviour. No burglaries reported to us this week.One theft of motor vehicle in Beechfield Road overnight between Sunday September 9th 7pm to Monday September 10th 9am". Slade Green and North End ward:- "Two vehicle crimes were made aware to us last week after we went on rest days. Overnight on Tuesday 04/09 a camper van was stolen from the drive of a house in Northend Road, there is very limited detail on the crime report but no broken glass was found at the scene and the owner still has the keys. Overnight on Weds 05/09 a pushbike was taken from the back of a house in Lincoln Road. The victim did get some pictures of who they believed we responsible but the images we unfortunately not clear enough to make a positive ID. St Pauls Primary School (formerly Slade Green School has been the victim of criminal damage twice over the school holidays. 2 windows were smashed over 2 separate weekends. There is an ongoing investigation to try and ID the suspects involved. This Saturday was meant to be the Slade Green Big Local Community Safety Saturday but sadly the event has been cancelled due to unknown circumstances but we will keep you informed of any future Big Local events. Our next Community Contact Session is on Friday 21st September from 7pm in our SNT base at Pier Road Erith (next to Farm Foods). Please come and say hi if you are nearby". Thamesmead East ward:- "Good news on burglaries - No burglaries. With the evenings starting to get darker earlier, remain vigilant at all times. Motor Vehicle Crimes - On Thursday 6/9/18 at about 3:00pm, a black laptop was stolen from a Virgin media vehicle parked in LIME ROW whilst the engineer was working on the exchange. A vehicle parked outside of JACOB HOUSE, KALE ROAD had the front number plate stolen between the hours of 09:00pm on Tuesday 11/9/18 and 08:00am on Wednesday12/9/18.A van parked on the forecourt of the BP garage HARROW MANOR WAY had the front nearside window smashed and the driver's lunchbox stolen, house and car keys and a pair of sunglasses stolen. Ongoing investigation by the Thamesmead East team following the BP garage incident. Police Surgery - Tuesday 18/09/18 between the hours of 2:00 pm and 3:00pm at THE THAMESMEAD LIBRARY, BAZALGETTE ROAD. An opportunity for members of the community who prefer face-to-face contact, to speak with a Dedicated Ward Officer." West Heath ward:- "It has been a good week this week with a small amount of crimes being reported. On Friday 7th September, a female was arrested on Axminster Crescent following a failure to stop for police in her vehicle. She was found to be in possession of an offensive weapon and an amount of cocaine. Officers continue to reassure residents following a number of Asian gold burglaries on the borough and would like to remind residents to remain vigilant and call police with any information".

The ending video this week is another submission from transport expert Geoff Marshall with further insights as to why the Crossrail / Elizabeth Line has been delayed by at least a year - and possibly quite considerably longer. Do give it a watch.