Sunday, September 20, 2020


The dramatic photograph above was taken by a local resident, and regular Blog contributor who chooses to remain anonymous. The person who took the photograph tells me that two Ford Transit vans parked outside of the building known as Electricity House, on the corner of Bexley Road and Queens Road in Erith, caught fire, and the dramatic results can be seen in the shot above. The fire started at approximately 6pm last Tuesday evening. Fortunately nobody was hurt in the fire, and it was soon extinguished. A new children's nursery is due to open in Electricity House very soon. Violet Daycare are advertising both online and on posters outside of the building - despite, according to my sources, the place not being ready to open quite yet, due to some outstanding administrative and legal issues. The situation with Violet Daycare is a little confused, to say the least. The issue with any child care centre on this specific site is historically a controversial one. A previous nursery called Bright Steps operated on the site for a number of years. The nursery had been under performing for several years, and had refused to obey a series of previous compliance orders by Ofsted. The final straw seems to have been when a member of the public observed a member of the Bright Steps nursery staff smacking a child under their care. Following this, the nursery managers deleted CCTV footage of the assault, and tried to cover up the event when Ofsted and the Police then carried out an investigation. After a court case and an appeal, Ofsted removed Bright Steps licence to operate. Subsequent to this forced closure, the nursery part of the building was advertised for rent. A number of organisations looked into taking on the nursery space, but until now the nursery part of Electricity House has been empty. Understandably some locals are wary of any new enterprise taking on a similar role in the same location. On top of this, the P2 Events Centre, which shares the same building was subject to a Police raid on the evening of the same day - for an entirely different reason. My eye witness informs me that a very large wedding party held a reception in the premises. Apparently the event got very rowdy, and a couple of fights broke out with smashed bottles and glasses included. When things got really out of hand, after midnight (which the venue is not licenced for) the Police were called, Two Police cars and a van of officers turned up, who proceeded to remove the remaining 50 revellers by force from the venue. The Police stayed on site until around 4am on Wednesday morning, as they were concerned that some of the wedding party would return to continue their drinking and fighting, but apparently everything stayed quiet. My source ended with the comment:-"I believe Police are now talking with Bexley Council regarding the disgraceful behaviour, and sheer lack of control over the unauthorised uses at the P2 venue". Did you witness either of these two incidents last week? If so, drop me a line in complete confidence to

Following on from the story about the Police attendance at the P2 Events Centre during the early hours of last Wednesday morning, a story has just come to light about their outdated communications system. Already delayed by five years, and over budget by £3bn, the scheme to upgrade Britain's blue-light communications network might not be fully available before the end of 2024. The emergency services are long overdue for an update to their communications systems. The project was originally planned to go live in 2017 but was put on hold, then put through a complete revision in 2018. It has been the subject of no less than eight Public Accounts Committee sessions, and two National Audit Office reports. One of the stumbling blocks to the project, which gives emergency services priority over commercial traffic on a 4G mobile phone network, is the revised business case. It was due to be published in early 2020, but now might not appear until March 2021. After a year-long bidding process back in 2015, the government had whittled the tenders down to two companies: EE and O2. O2 then pulled out as a result of Telefonica selling the network to Three’s parent Hutchison Whampoa. The network was supposed to start replacing the creaking Airwave TETRA radio system used by the emergency services in 2017, but that date was never realistic. TETRA is halfway between a mobile phone system and a walkie talkie. It is an ancient technology and very poor at mobile data, which runs at 7.2kbs. There is a standard upgrade to boost that to 700kbps but it has never been implemented. There are huge question marks over the suitability of 4G mobile technology for this with the necessary standards for device-to-device communication and control of groups still in the planning stages, and even bigger issues over equipping emergency services with mobile devices that rely on 4G for push-to-talk communications (like an analogue walkie talkie) when 4G phone coverage is still so patchy around parts of the country, and not as nearly comprehensive as the mobile phone service providers would like you to believe. The other problem with using digital I.P based communications is latency – there is a delay between pushing the transmit button, and the audio arriving at the receiver. With analogue radio equipment, there is no delay other than the constraint of the speed of light. Mobile phone push-to-talk systems are rarely like this. You press the button, it switches to the right app, fires it up, makes an IP connection and then starts the communication. This is not instant. Indeed, using such a system where you can see and hear the other person is un-nerving, with a significant delay that is more than an echo. Even a traditional 2G or 3G voice call has a little latency which you can hear if both people are in the same room. Push-to-talk latency isn't a problem in the “it might replace SMS” scenario the mobile industry once envisaged for it, but it is in an emergency. The classic example the Armed Forces give is to imagine a commander who has a team of snipers on a roof pointing at a target. He gives the command: “Don't shoot”. Unfortunately, in a cellular, IP based device, it takes a fraction of a second for the app to fire up and make a connection – a fraction of a second which is just long enough for the word “Don’t” to fail to make it into the message. Obviously this is just not good enough in a critical situation such as a terrorist attack. The other problem with any emergency communication system using 4G technology is that coverage of the country is still patchy and uneven, with some areas having no signal whatsoever. Even if the emergency service personnel can get a 4G signal, you can then add to this the problem that with 4G there are other users on the network: ordinary customers, who, given that they are in the middle of an emergency, will want to call their mum or post a video of the incident to YouTube. There are systems in place to give emergency services priority, but network congestion is still going to affect the ability of the back - end infrastructure to cope. All in all the situation is a mess, and could not really have come at a worse time. You may wonder why 5G has not been factored into this equation - well the reason is that 5G coverage is minimal in much of the UK at the time of writing - it is limited to larger cities, and even then to only small parts of those cities - and in any case, 5G currently needs the presence of an existing 4G service in order to make voice calls. The reality is that 4G will be hard pressed to provide a consistent, reliable communications coverage for the emergency services, and 5G will not be practicable for several years to come. What do you think? Email me at

Many regular readers will note that I occasionally show "then and now" photographs from the local area, most from some considerable time in the past. This week I have come somewhat more up to date. The upper of the two photos above was taken in the Manor Fish Bar in 2005 by me. At that time the place was owned by a charming Iranian couple, and they served excellently cooked and very fresh fish and chips. The Chippy had its original 1950's marble effect formica intact, and the shop was a real timewarp. Not too long after the photo was taken, the owners sold up and moved on. Over the next few years, the Manor Fish Bar changed hands at least three times to my knowledge, and with each change of ownership, the place went steadily downhill. After a long period when the shop was closed, it changed hands and was fully refitted to become The King of the Grill kebab shop, which you can see in the lower of the two photographs above, which I took a few days ago. The King of the Grill has an excellent five star "Scores on the Doors" food hygiene rating.  

I must admit that had I both more time and a larger garden, I would love to keep chickens (though I doubt my neighbours would be as keen). The thought of fresh eggs on a regular basis is something that a lot of people would like, but for most it remains an unfulfilled aspiration. The wholesomeness of garden produced chicken eggs is now being put into question; scientists in the USA have been studying the chemical composition of chicken eggs produced in urban gardens; they have discovered that in many suburban areas, the eggs contain a relatively high quantity of lead. Chickens love to root around in the ground, looking for worms and grubs which form part of their natural diet. In so doing, they ingest soil, and this soil in many occasions contains microscopic quantities of metallic lead, and lead salts. This comes from old buried lead water pipes, industrial waste and even from decades old car exhaust fumes – although lead additives in petrol has been banned for many years, the microscopic exhaust particulates still exist in the environment, as lead is a persistent pollutant that does not biodegrade. Interestingly, chicken eggs from commercial producers do not suffer this lead pollution, as they are farmed in a controlled environment, often in the countryside and further away from any potential source of pollution. The scientific study proved that the level of lead contamination in urban eggs closely tracked the level of lead found in the local environment. There is no accepted internationally agreed standard regarding contaminant levels in chicken eggs, but the researchers did discover that in the worst cases of contamination, the garden kept hens produced eggs with lead levels of 167 parts per billion, which roughly equates to the loss of one IQ point in a growing child who regularly consumes contaminated eggs. Cooking the eggs, or incorporating them in a recipe such as a cake will do nothing to remove lead contamination, unlike bugs like salmonella, which are killed by a couple of minutes of temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Celsius. The lead is always there; the only way to ensure that domestic chickens don’t ingest any environmental lead is to ensure that their run is filled with clean and uncontaminated earth and gravel, along with additional calcium supplements to encourage strong shell growth. It will be interesting to see if any UK or European study will be undertaken; I suspect that any results would be comparable to the American study.

Now for the weekly local safety and security updates from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association. Firstly the report from Barnehurst ward:-"Another week goes by on Barnehurst Ward with no reported burglaries. There was an incident last week on Wednesday 9/09/20 in Edendale Road which was not mentioned in last week's report. Scrap metal had been left down the side of a house in a shared driveway. At some time between 11.0 am and 05.00 pm unknown persons have taken all of the scrap metal. Unfortunately such materials tend to be taken without permission so it's always best to leave items out of sight. In Parkside Avenue we had an Incident of criminal damage which occurred overnight between Wednesday 9/09/20 to Thursday 10/09/20. A large amount of paint was thrown over a vehicle by unknown persons. On Saturday 12/09/2020 at approximately 02.20 am a vehicle made of from Police in Northend Road. The vehicle eventually crashed in Barnehurst Road where the driver fled jumping over a fence, he was found shortly afterwards hiding in a garage. After a struggle with the Officer he was arrested for a number of offences. Following enquiries on the vehicle the suspect was further arrested after the vehicle was found to be stolen and on false plates. On Monday 14/09/2020 between 09.00 pm – 11.00 pm in Colyers Lane a white Ford Transit van registration number AJ60 PXA was stolen. The owner of the vehicle still has the keys. This week PCSO Cathy Nolan attended a very well organised Neighbourhood Watch meeting in the Co-coordinator's garden of Hillingdon Road. Due to the Government's latest changes with regards social gatherings the meeting consisted of 6 people in total with hand sanitiser to use on arrival. This meeting worked extremely well and gave residents the opportunity to put forward any issues that needed to be discussed. PCSO Nolan also updated the residents on what's been happening on the ward. If any of our Neighbourhood Watch Coordinators would like to follow suit (weather permitting) please give the team a call and we will be happy to arrange something". Belvedere ward:-"The Belvedere LPT were notified this week by a concerned resident to a property In Beltwood Road. The property had been vacant for a few weeks. As well as this the house alarm had been sounding constantly and there was also a strong smell of cannabis emanating from within. Police attended and were able to access through an insecure rear patio door. Inside the whole of the downstairs living space had been converted into a cannabis farm. There was also evidence of cannabis having been grown upstairs too. In total Police were able to seize in excess of 100 cannabis plants from the property as well as hydroponics used to grow the plants. No arrests have been made yet but enquiries continue into persons who were last registered living at the address. Any updates on the investigation will be relayed in future emails on this site". Bexleyheath ward:-"There was a report of a burglary at Rutland Road Bexleyheath on the 14th September. Suspects had tried the front door first and caused damage but where unsuccessful and then access was gained through a window which was accessed from the rear garden, there was no reports of anything stolen. Incident took place in the afternoon between 1pm and 2.30pm. There was a report of theft from motor vehicle along Bedonwell Road Bexleyheath on the Tuesday 8th September, incident had took place early hours in the morning. A theft of a mobile phone was reported stolen on the Thursday 10th September at about 2 pm in the Broadway near the M and S store. On the Friday 11th September there was a report of criminal damage to someone's house, a window was smashed with a stone along Church Road Bexleyheath. A report was made after a female victim had withdrawn cash from the bank along the Broadway and then noticed the money missing when in another shop. Victim believes suspect had followed victim from the bank". Crayford ward:-"Unfortunately there has been a burglary on our ward in this last week. In Heath Road on Friday 11th September at 3.25 am the victim was woken by a noise downstairs and then saw a male outside in her vehicle. She came out of the property and he and another male ran up Heath Road and got in to a waiting Ford Focus, partial number plate LV05. A handbag was stolen containing an IPAD, purse with bank cards, loyalty cards, driving licence were stolen along with another tablet and Pandora jewellery. It was certainly the burglars intention to steal the car on the driveway outside. It became clear that the front door had been closed with the handle pulled up and without the key being turned to lock the bolts in to place and the resident was advised how to do this to keep the door secure from easy entry. Another week where catalytic converters have been stolen. On Thursday 10th September the catalytic converter was stolen from a black Honda CRV whilst parked at Sainsburys between 10.10 and 11.00. The catalytic converter was stolen from a red Toyota RAV 4 whilst parked at Sainsburys on Thursday 10th September between 9.45 and 16.45. On the Monday 14th September between 15.00-15.30 the catalytic converter was stolen from a blue Honda Jazz whilst parked at Hall Place. At Claston Close between Wednesday 9th and Saturday 12th September tyres were deliberately punctured on two vehicles belonging to residents there". 

Erith ward:- "At 01.19 hrs on Tuesday 15th September three male youths managed to break into the under ground car park at Erith Quarry. They appear to have used the fireman's override key to open the gates to gain access. There were possibly another 2 youths involved. This last week in Erith we have had zero burglaries, which is good also mother vehicle crime is down on the previous weeks. We have been actively patrolling the ward a lot of these patrols in uniform there have also been lots of plain clothing patrols across the ward". Northumberland Heath ward:-"After complaints of ASB within North Heath Rec, PC Ali SUAT along with the assistance of Street duties officers, attended the rec for patrols this week. After a short foot chase, PC Suat detained 3 male youths. The 3 youths were searched with a negative result. All 3 males were issued with an ASB warning and details also passed onto the local authority ASB team. 2 pedal bikes were also left behind, these were seized and taken to a police station. An incident that took place on Monday the 14th at around 12.30 in Becton Place has been bought to our attention. The incident that was alleged to happen involved a male attempting to stab another male during in some sort of confrontation between the pair. This information has also been placed on a Facebook group, whereupon other people have commented and stated they too had seen the incident take place. Although this information was passed to us via email some hours later, unfortunately not one person called police at the time of the incident. As you can imagine, this is extremely frustrating for us. Had police been called, this male could have been detained and searched. If anyone has any further information regarding this incident, please contact the team immediately. We are pleased to report that there have been no burglaries on the ward this week". Slade Green and Northend ward:-"A warrant was executed Saturday 12/09/2020 by our team in regards a possible dangerous dog. The dog wasn't taken away, however measures have been put in place to prevent any further incidents and the investigation is ongoing. A stolen vehicle was found in Frobisher Road on Monday 14/09/2020 and recovered to Charlton pound. The owner has been notified of the recovery. An attempted shed burglary took place in Alexandra Road sometime in the afternoon on Monday 14/09/2020. Nothing was taken and entry wasn't gained. A male from our ward has this week been fined at court a total of £239 after being convicted for a Public Order offence, which occurred on Frobisher Road on Saturday 6/06/2020". Thamesmead East ward:- "On Saturday 12/09/20 between the hours of 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm a motor cycle was stolen from Thamesbank Place. Between the hours of 3:15 pm on Saturday 12/09/20 and 00:20 am on Sunday 13/09/20 a van was stolen from Mangold Way. Wolvercote Road on Saturday 12/09/20 between 6:00 pm and 2:00 pm on Sunday 13/09/20 a vehicle had items stolen, owner believes that the vehicle may not have been locked. Sunday 13/09/20 between the 5:20 am and 5: 25 am a vehicle parked in Cherbury Close was broken into wallet containing money, bank cards and driving licence was stolen. Between 7: 00 pm on Monday 14/09/20 and 08:00 am on Tuesday 15/09/20 a vehicle parked in Kinder Close was broken into, nothing taken. The catalytic converter was stolen from a vehicle parked in Seacourt Road between the hours of 07:00 am and 08:40 am on Tuesday 15/09/20. Overnight of Monday 14/09/20 and Tuesday 15/09/20 a vehicle parked near to Buckwheat Court had both the front and rear number plates stolen. Another catalytic converter was stolen from a vehicle parked in Hartslock Drive, during the early hours on Tuesday 15/09/20. Between 7:00 pm Tuesday 15/09/20 and 11:00 am on Wednesday 16/09/20 a vehicle left unlocked in Cherbury Close was entered by an unknown person/s and a front door key was taken.No damage to the vehicle". West Heath ward:-"There are no reported burglaries from Wednesday 9/09/20 to Tuesday 15/09/20. There are two reported thefts from motor vehicles for the same period. On Thursday 10/09/2020 at 1742 hours a car registration number plate was stolen from where it was last parked at Gipsy Road, Welling. The informant stated that someone broke into their car and stole the informant's Blue Badge on Wednesday 9/09/20 at 1259 hours outside  Denton Road, Welling". 

The end video this week follows the earlier theme of fire; it shows the serious conflagration that took place in the Optima Park industrial estate on Thames Road, in Crayford. The photo above, also of the blaze, was taken by local resident Norbert, who witnessed  the blaze first hand. Over 100 firefighters were on the site on Monday evening last week, and it took nearly five hours to put the flames out. Thames Road was shut to traffic for most of Tuesday, causing major congestion for traffic heading for the M25 from the local area. The cause of the serious fire is currently still under investigation. If you witnessed the fire, or know more about exactly what happened, please contact me at

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