Sunday, January 06, 2019


Following my recent positive report on the success of the CCTV system installed at the council recycling centre in James Watt Way, behind the Erith Morrison's supermarket, and how this had reduced the level of criminal fly - tipping by roughly ninety percent, there has now been a development which may well lead to a "perfect storm" of further fly tipping in the North of the London Borough of Bexley. Some readers may be aware that Bexley Council is closing the The Thames Road Reuse and Recycling Centre from the 14th of January for essential maintenance. The closure will last approximately four weeks. The works have been scheduled to allow waste and recycling collections to return to normal following the Christmas period and for residents to be able to continue to use the Centre over the break. Temporary arrangements have been made to open Foots Cray on Wednesdays during the closure. The closure will not affect the borough’s collection services. The problem with this has been compounded by an issue that has been highlighted by a story in the News Shopper, which features some overflowing recycling bins located in Erith High Street. In the News Shopper article, local resident Adam Cox says:- "As a local resident, this is a disappointing sight when arriving and leaving my flat or being in the local area. "What is most disappointing is that I think it speaks to the fact that residents want to be proactive and recycle, but the council is not supporting this appropriately," The problem is compounded by the official Bexley Council policy that if residents take rubbish to recycling centres, and the centres are full, they are supposed to take their rubbish back home with them. In the same article, a council spokesperson was quoted as saying:- "Rubbish should not just be dumped by the side of recycling banks or litter bins if they are full but should either be taken to another mini recycling bank or bin or to one of the reuse and recycling centres at Thames Road or Foots Cray. Rubbish dumped by the side of already full bins in this way is fly-tipping. This will be investigated by our officers as a criminal offence and the site will be cleared". There are a couple of problems with this statement; firstly, the imminent closure for a month of the Thames Road recycling facility, and the fact that many residents who deposit rubbish for recycling in the Erith High Street mini facility do not own a car, and are unable to use the main recycling centres in Thames Road Crayford, or indeed the one on the far opposite side of the borough at Foots Cray - which might as well be on the moon for non - drivers . They have no option but to use the Erith High Street bins - something I suspect the council are fully aware of, but are choosing to ignore. On a more positive note, when it comes to recycling, I am pleased to discover that discount frozen food retailer Iceland - who have a significant presence in the Erith Riverside Shopping Centre, are trialling a new system to recycle plastic bottles. Shoppers have earned more than £30,000 by recycling plastic bottles in the first supermarket trial of reverse vending machines. The scheme, piloted by Iceland, rewards people with a voucher worth 10p for every deposit of a bottle bought at the shop. It was rolled out to stores in Wolverhampton, Mold, Fulham and Musselburgh - as well as Iceland's head office, in Deeside. New figures show that 311,500 plastic bottles have been recycled so far. The deposit machine accepted plastic bottles of up to three litres, which needed a barcode showing that they were sold by the shop. Children were "particularly engaged" with the deposit machines and even educated and encouraged their parents to use them, the supermarket said in an article shown on Sky News last week. Iceland has promised to share the findings of its research with the government. At present it is not clear if Iceland intends to roll out the scheme to all of its UK stores, including the one in Erith (photo above - click on it for a larger version), but from the success of the pilot scheme, I would not be at all surprised if they did so sooner, rather than later. What do you think? Leave a comment below, or alternatively send me an Email to

Some time ago I wrote an article on "Smart" devices as part of the so - called "Internet of Things". Basically I said that these devices were mostly a solution looking for a problem, and that many of the smart devices would only work for a relatively limited time, due to mobile device operating system updates causing the smart device to lose network connectivity. It was also discovered that certain brands of internet enabled smart doorbells were possible to quite easily steal. This matter has indeed now happened in the real world, rather than just in the laboratories of IT security penetration testers - the theory has now become reality, and the result is now affecting local residents. In a report that I have separated from the usual weekly Neighbourhood Watch updates, Andrew Davis, from the Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association office makes the following observations:- "A number of Wards have reported that an increasing number of 'Ring' doorbells (and those of similar brands) are being stolen from front doors. A NW Bourne Road member (St Mary's and St James ward) recently advised us of the theft of their doorbell - as noted in last week's update. These premium doorbells which cost from around £100 have CCTV-type capability. Thieves are covering up so as not to be identifiable on the footage produced which is wirelessly transmitted and recorded on owners' smart phones. So, aside from descriptions of clothing, identifying the culprits proves pretty much impossible. If your doorbell is / has been stolen, please let us know as well as reporting on 101. Although this type of doorbell is of value in its own right, it could be that the thefts are in preparation for a greater crime, so please follow the usual advice when it comes to locking doors, removing valuables from cars and keeping car keys away and out of sight of the vicinity of your front door". Now, from the cutting edge of the internet, back to the very beginning - who says that I don't plan these things?

2019 marks an important anniversary, and one that many readers may be fully unaware of. Many people assume that the World Wide Web (often incorrectly referred to as "The Internet") sprung ready formed in the mid 1990's, and that it was an entirely new creation, when in fact this could not be very much  further from the truth. Prior to the creation of the World Wide Web (actually an abstraction layer which sits on top of The Internet) there was a previous network of computers, albeit far more limited in scope to what we experience today. This network was called ARPANET, and it is celebrating its fiftieth birthday this year, having been launched back in 1969. Nowadays computers all over the world can freely communicate with each other, but back in the 1960's this was yet to be made possible. This is possible because at the core of this worldwide infrastructure we call the Internet is a set of shared communication standards, procedures and formats called protocols. However, when in the early 1970s, the first four-nodes of the ARPANET became fully functional things were a bit more complicated. Exchanging data between different computers (let alone different computer networks) was not as easy as it is today. There was a reliable data packet-switching network to connect to, but no universal language to communicate through it. Each host, in fact, had a set of specific protocols and to login users were required to know the host’s own ‘language’. Using ARPANET was like being given a telephone and unlimited credit, only to find out that the only users we can call do not speak the same language. When a user sends or retrieve information across the Internet – e.g., access Web pages or upload files to a server - the TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) on the sender’s machine breaks the message into packets of information and then sends them out. The IP (Internet Protocol) is instead the part of the protocol concerned with “the addressing and forwarding” of those individual packets. The IP is a critical part of our daily Internet experience: without it, it would be practically impossible to locate the information we are looking for among the billions of machines connected to the network today. On the receiving end, the TCP helps reassemble all the packets into the original messages, checking errors, and ensuring they are arranged in the correct sequence order. Thanks to TCP/IP the exchange of data packets between different and distant networks was finally possible. In the years that followed, the ARPANET consolidated and expanded, all while remaining virtually unknown to the general public. On July 1, 1975, the network was placed under the direct control of the Defense Communication Agency (DCA) in the USA. By then there were already 57 nodes in the network, mainly in the USA, but some in Europe, including the UK. The larger it grew, the more difficult it was to determine who was actually using it. There were, in fact, no tools to check the network users’ activity. The DCA began to worry. The mix of fast growth rate and lack of control could potentially become a serious issue for national security. The DCA, trying to control the situation, issued a series of warnings against any unauthorised access and use of the network. In his last newsletter before retiring to civilian life, the DCA’s appointed ARPANET Network Manager, Major Joseph Haughney wrote:- "Only military personnel or ARPANET sponsor-validated persons working on government contracts or grants may use the ARPANET. Files should not be [exchanged] by anyone unless they are files that have been announced as ARPANET-public or unless permission has been obtained from the owner. Public files on the ARPANET are not to be considered public files outside of the ARPANET, and should not be transferred, or their contents given or sold to the general public without permission of DCA or the ARPANET sponsors". However, these warnings were largely ignored as most of the networked nodes had, Haughney put it, “weak or nonexistent host access to the control mechanism”. By the early 1980s, the network was essentially an open access area for both authorised and non-authorised users. This situation was made worse by the drastic drop in computer prices, and the advent of the swiftly growing number of home computer hobbyists. With the potential number of machines capable of connecting to the network increasing constantly, the concern over its vulnerability rose to new heights. The 1983 hit film, War Games, about a young computer whiz who manages to connect to the super computer at NORAD and almost start World Word III from his bedroom, perfectly captured the mood of the militaries towards the network. By the end of that year, the United States Department of Defensein its biggest step to date against illegal penetration of computers’ – as The New York Times reported – “split a global computer network into separate parts for military and civilian users, thereby limiting access by university- based researchers, trespassers and possibly spies”. The ARPANET was effectively divided in two distinct networks: one still called ARPANET, mainly dedicated to research, and the other called MILNET, a military operational network, protected by strong security measures like encryption and restricted access control. During its early stages, between the 60s and 70s, the communication galaxy spawned by the ARPANET was not only mostly uncharted space, but, compared to today’ standards, also mainly empty. It continued as such well into the 90s, before the technology pioneered with the ARPANET project became the backbone of the Internet. In 1992, during its first phase of popularisation, the global networks connected to the Internet exchanged about 100 Gigabytes (GB) of traffic per day. Since then, data traffic has grown exponentially along with the number of users and the network’s popularity. A couple of decades later, thanks to Sir Tim Berners Lee’s World Wide Web (1989), there is an ever increasing availability of cheap and powerful tools to navigate the galaxy, not to mention the explosion of social media from 2005 onwards. What hides beneath the dry technicality of computer to computer communication is a simple fact: the enduring impact of that first stuttered "hello" between two remotely located computers back in 1969 has dramatically transcended the apparent technical triviality of making two computers talk to each other. Nearly five decades after the first experiment in California, the Internet has arguably become a driving force in the daily routines of more than three billion people worldwide. For a growing number of users, a mere minute of life on the Internet is to be part, simultaneously, of an endless stream of shared experiences that include, among other things, watching over 165,000 hours of video, being exposed to 10 million adverts, playing nearly 32,000 hours of music and sending and receiving over 200 million emails.

Now for a different angle on technology and the "real world" - and how a multinational software company can ride roughshod over a customer. This account comes from long time Maggot Sandwich reader who prefers to remain anonymous, who has had a long running problem with her computer anti virus software supplier.  She writes:- "I discovered in November that McAfee and Norton had been charging me on my credit card account for my husband's subscriptions to their services for 10 years - ever since he died and despite the fact that his credit card account was closed. We never shared the credit card and kept our finances completely separate, with our own bank accounts and credit cards. Somehow, they both switched the charges to my Visa account, though I had never consented and my husband never let them have my details. I had my own subscriptions however. You will be pleased to hear that, after a load of hassle and very lengthy phone calls and internet chats, I have now had a partial refund from Norton with two years' free subs (not worth anything really but I had spent so much time I called it a day and at least I had the satisfaction of taking up a great deal if their staff time). Today I finally had the promise of a full refund from McAfee despite initial refusals showing that you just have to keep pestering and threatening. They simply could not explain to me how they started charging me when John died and I made lots of noise about fraud etc! These American companies continue to take money from someone else's account when the account holder dies, so you should never assume that the death of a subscriber is the end of the contract! I have now ensured that nothing is automatically renewed. I am very glad that I do not do internet banking or who knows what might have happened! I also had no joy with the credit card provider. I should add that what was also worrying was that when I told McAfee my husband's email, they said it was not linked to my account but to my son - but my son has never had an account with McAfee! I shall not be subscribing to these people any more - I shall just let them run out and not renew. Finally, I have put in a request to the Information Commissioner to question the legitimacy of what these people are doing and have done". An interesting and instructive account. Let me know what you think; you can Email me at

According to recent reports, a new bureau de change is to open in Erith Town Centre shortly; a job advertisement for a role as a sales assistant has recently been published online - you can read it, and apply for the job if you so wish by clicking here. The shop will be owned and operated by an Irish company called Fexco Group, who are apparently a UK leader in foreign currency exchange. The company are also looking for a store manager for the forthcoming Erith outlet - you can see details of that job by clicking here.

Now for the weekly local safety and security updates from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association. No report from Barnehurst ward this week, so we instead open with the report from Belvedere ward:- "There has been an attempted burglary in Elmbourne Drive, at the home of an elderly male who resides alone. It is apparent that someone has approached the property from the rear (having climbed over gardens) and caused damage to the frame of a lower ground window. Entry was not gained to the property. There appears to have been a series of damage caused to motor vehicles in and around Upper Park Road, Lower Park Road and the streets adjacent – windows of several vehicles were smashed to gain access. A male was seen with a tool of some kind (possibly a spade) at one of the incidents. There is no further information at this stage – if anyone witnessed this or has information, please contact the team. There has also been a burglary at the Co-Op in Nuxley Road in which a male is reported to have entered the shop storeroom from and stolen over £3000.00 worth of goods. CCTV images have been obtained and investigation continues. There are three homeless people who have taken up residence at the disused Belvedere Police station – the team have been in constant contact with the two males and one female who appear to be sleeping rough in Nuxley Road, we have requested assistance from both Bexley Council and Thames Reach workers, a great deal of work is taking place involving all agencies to assist these people. Our next community contact session is due to take place on the 16th of January from 4pm at Belvedere library. Lastly, we would like to wish you all a belated happy New Year". Bexleyheath ward:- "We had had two burglaries reported on the ward. One was on Monday 31st December along Belvedere Road, access was via rear door. The other was Sunday 30th December along Lyndhurst Road Bexleyheath, access was via rear patio window using a hammer. We have had three reports of theft from motor vehicles and two of them had been reported on the 20th December. One along Martin Dene Bexleyheath and the other along Rochester Drive Bexleyheath. The other was reported on the 29th December along Silverdale Road Bexleyheath. On the 29th December along Rydal Drive there was a report of a car broken into but nothing taken but damaged was caused. On the 31st December a report was made for criminal damage to motor vehicle along Mayplace Road East. On Monday 31st December there was a report of a bag that was taken from inside the Bella Italia restaurant in Bexleyheath. There was an arrest made recently over the Christmas period for possession of cannabis.The team regularly conduct hi-visibility patrols on the ward which would include car park areas including ASDA car park and the Broadway to reduce anti-social behaviour. 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". Crayford ward:- "Thankfully, no burglaries to report to you this week. Most crimes of note this week are criminal damage related. In Ridgeway a shed door and lock were damaged, no entry and nothing stolen. Between Tuesday 24th and Thursday 26th December at Creganford Court at Perry Street, suspect keyed Merry Christmas on the roof of the victim's car. In Green Walk on Friday 28th December at approx. 17.30 it is believed the same suspect committed two offences, one by throwing a bottle and smashing a pane of glass, the other by throwing a bottle at a car parked on the driveway causing a dent. The bottle was retained for forensic testing. On Friday 28th December between 10.30-21.30 the wing mirror was kicked/pushed off a vehicle parked in Maiden Lane. On Saturday 29th December a theft from motor vehicle occurred in Crayford Road. The white Kia Creed was parked on a driveway, the dash cam was ripped out, black Ralph Lauren sunglasses with gold rims were stolen as well as the log book and service history. The fuse box cover was open leading the victim to believe that the intention was to steal the vehicle. Once again a reminder that the Crayford Ward Panel meeting will take place at the Europa Gym at Vimy Way this Saturday 5th January at 10.30 am, you would be more than welcome to come along and become a member. Crayford officers processed two people this week for driving offences. One was stopped due to a minor defect on their vehicle but was found to be driving without insurance and not having a full driving licence, also known for crime. Another vehicle was seized at Crayford Road as the driver had no insurance. At Roman Way a driver was processed for using a mobile phone whilst driving, this person was also breathalysed and blew just under the limit". Erith ward:- "First of all Happy New Year 2019 from everyone on Erith SNT. The next ward panel meeting is Thursday 17th January 2019 – 7pm at the moment this will still be held at Erith Pier road police station, BUT I have been speaking to the owners of The Carnegie Building, in Walnut Tree Road and they seem more than happy for us to have meetings there, I just need to give them a list of dates, hopefully we can get these dates sorted on the 17th. I hope you all have a wonderful start to 2019. I have been contacted by a few residents regarding marking push bikes that they have received or given as presents. I am more than happy to do this and even visit you at your home address. It costs around £20 a bike – TOTALLY FREE TO ERITH RESIDENTS, as I have managed to get hold of some sets a while back when I did the training on this. I will only mark bikes in ERITH. If you live on another ward please contact you own team. We did not have any Burglaries in Erith over the festive period". Northumberland Heath ward:- "Over the last week or so we have had a spate of motor vehicle crime. A white transit van was stolen from Carlton Road between 6pm on Wednesday December 19th and 7am on the morning of Thursday 20th when the owner discovered it missing, despite being in possession of the key. Theft of a moped in Brook Street overnight on Thursday December 20th, the victim was also still in possession of the keys when the bike was stolen. Thankfully the bike was found near to the victim's house on December 21st although it had sustained some damage to it. One report of criminal damage to a motor vehicle in Brook Street. This took place overnight on December 27th. The owner returned to the vehicle the following morning to discover the rear windows had been smashed. Theft of a motor vehicle in Belmont Road Between Boxing Day evening at 11pm when the victim last saw the vehicle on the drive, and Thursday 27th at 5am when it was discovered missing. Once again the victim was still in possession of the key and it is unknown how the vehicle was stolen. One report of criminal damage to a motor vehicle in Oakdene Avenue between Saturday 29th December between 9pm and Sunday 30th December at 1pm when the owner discovered the vehicle's bodywork had scratches all over it. Unfortunately there has been a burglary in Brook Street which took place between Saturday 29th December 4pm to Sunday 30th December at 10pm when the victim, having returned to the property realised they had been burgled. It is believed that entry was gained to the property via a small bathroom window. An untidy search was conducted, the suspect put the latch up on the front door to prevent anyone from entering before stealing a quantity of jewellery and leaving via a rear window. The next drop in Police surgery will be held in the Northumberland Heath Library in Mill Road Erith on Friday January 4th 2019 at 3pm. All are welcome to attend. he team have been conducting ASB patrols over the last week, Although ASB is very low at the moment, we are conducting priority patrols at the following locations and surrounding areas : Bexley Road, Walsingham Walk, North Heath recreation ground and Mill Road car park. We have unfortunately had a few incidents of note reported this last week: Attempted/burglary in Northumberland Park on 01/01/2019 between 03:30am – 03:50am. An unknown person has gained entry into the property, however they were disturbed by the occupier who was woken by the noise, nothing was stolen; Attempted burglary in Dickens Close on the 01/01/2019 between 17:30 – 18:00. The occupier heard a smash and upon investigation found that a pane of glass in the front door was on the floor, no entry had been gained on this occasion. Ongoing CCTV enquiries continue. If you have any information in relation to any of these incidents please report this to the police and continue to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour or activity you see".  Slade Green and Northend ward:- "Firstly we would like to wish all our N Watch coordinators a Happy New Year. There have been four number plate thefts over the last 2 weeks, all during evening hours or overnight. They occurred at Bridge Road, Hazel Drive, Crescent Road and Forest Road. If you would like any anti-theft screws for your number plates, please let us know, or keep an eye out for any crime prevention stands we set up in the ward. Late night patrols happened across the ward in the days between Christmas and New Year with nothing major to report. 2 males with an off road bike were removed from the marshes close to Erith Yacht club last week. They were asked how they gained access to the site and images of how they did it have been sent to the council in the hope of improving the current gate onto the Thames Path to prevent further access". Thamesmead East ward:- "Thamesmead East has been hit with car crime this week. Don't leave your valuables in plain sight Remove all Sat Nav mounts along with suction cup marks on windscreen. Cables left on show alert criminals to possible property left inside the vehicle. Burglary - Crowden Way Friday 7/12/18 between 1:10 – 1:25pm Males seen breaking into two garages and taking property from within. Criminal damage to a motor vehicle - Manordene Road Sunday 23/12/18 between 8pm - 9:50 pm Unknown suspect/s have slashed all four tyres on victims vehicle; St Katherines Road Tuesday 25/12/18 between 7:33 – 7:39 am window smashed nothing taken as no property left in vehicle; Aspen Green Monday 31/12/18 between 7:50 – 7:55 pm Suspect(s) have walked along the road and kicked off the Nearside and Offside wing mirrors of two vehicles before making off. Theft from a motor vehicle Crowden Way on Tuesday 25/12/18 between 1am – 8am suspect unknown has broken into the vehicle via the front passenger window PDR stolen from central console; Kale Road on Tuesday 25/12/18 between 6pm – 1045am passenger side window smashed, vehicle entered and items taken from inside; Ormsby Close Tuesday 25/12/18 between 8am - 12:25pm front and rear number plates taken from the vehicle by suspects unknown; KALE ROAD Friday 28/12/18 between 11pm – 7am 29/12/18 Viw1's vehicle broken into and cash and ID stolen. Next Community Contact session Tuesday 3/1/19 at Lakeside Medical Centre Yarnton Way between 1-2pm and Tuesday 15/01/19 at The Link Bazelgette Way between 5-7pm". No report this week from West Heath ward.

This weekend marks the thirtieth anniversary of the transmission of the first episode of a groundbreaking sitcom, which was to become the longest running comedy show on Channel 4. Desmond's was a sitcom set in a Peckham barber's shop, and featured a mostly black cast. Desmond’s showed the lives of the Ambrose family, who all longed to improve their lot. Desmond, played by the late Norman Beaton, who dreams of retiring and returning to Guyana; Shirley, his wife, enrols in a French evening class in the opening episode; yuppie eldest son Michael aims to run the local bank; middle child Gloria wants to be a fashion writer; and youngest son Sean is on course to go to university. Desmond’s was not the first black sitcom on British TV – that would be The Fosters, which ran from 1976 to 1977, featuring Norman Beaton and Carmen Munroe (who then went on to play Desmond and Shirley Ambrose) and a young Lenny Henry. That show, however, was not an original creation, adapted from US sitcom Good Times. Like most great sitcoms, Desmond’s thrived on its running gags and side characters: the frequent jubilant cry “Yeah, mon” of Desmond’s best friend Porkpie; Matthew, the perennial student from the Gambia with a penchant for “old African sayings” such as “the respectful goat doesn’t fart in front of the chief”; and gossiping hypochondriac Beverley. Filmed in front of a raucous live audience, Desmond’s, at its best, was an exultant celebration of family and friendship in the face of adversity. Desmond's was shown extensively in many countries throughout Africa and beyond, and many of Matthew's "old African sayings" which were actually all penned by Desmond's creator and sole script writer Trix Worrell, have apparently passed into the popular vernacular in many of those countries, and have in a way become a self fulfilling prophesy. At its core, Desmond’s ­­­was a family show, said veteran character actor Ram John Holder, who played Porkpie, its warmth transcending racial fault lines. “It didn’t matter if you were black or brown or white,” he says in a recent interview in the Guardian. “It was the story of every family.” I loved Desmond's - it was warm, decent and above all, very funny. It used to get ratings in excess of five million viewers when it was originally shown - very strong figures for Channel 4, which in those days was very much a minority channel. Check out the episode below. 

No comments:

Post a Comment