I took the photo above earlier in the week; it shows a couple of fly tipped fridge freezers which had been illegally dumped in Appold Street, Erith. Because Appold Street is a side street and dead end, it seems to attract a disproportionate level of fly tipped material. The illegal tipping was reported both to the Police and also to Bexley Council. Fly tipping locally is not always something that the perpetrators get away scot - free with. Some years ago, I was involved with a serious case, which ended up with the fly - fipper getting a custodial sentence, much to my satisfaction - back in January of 2015 when a repeat criminal called Anton Munteau was found guilty by Bexley Magistrates in respect of two offences of failing to have a Waste Carriers Licence and one of Collecting Scrap Metal without being licensed. He had dumped pallets containing two tonnes of rotten bananas at the Morrison's recycling facility in Erith. He was sentenced to 26 weeks imprisonment (6 months) on all the fly tipping offences to run concurrently. No separate penalty was awarded for the Waste Carriers Licence offences or the offence under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013. He was ordered to pay £1000 in clear up costs which was broken down to £800 to the London Borough of Bexley and £200 to Dartford Borough Council. He was also in Breach of a previous 12 week suspended prison sentence, The court decided to activate 6 weeks of that sentence and he was given a further 6 Weeks imprisonment to run consecutive to the 26 weeks making a total of 32 weeks - a full eight months inside with no remission due to his having already broken a suspended sentence. The court also ordered the forfeiture of the vehicle concerned in all of the offences, which was a white Mercedes panel van worth around £4,500. I am hopeful that more of the local fly tippers get caught and prosecuted in the same way as in the case outlined above. Whether anyone gets caught for the illegal dumping of the fridge freezers, I really do not know. Time will tell. Email me at email@example.com.
Word reaches me that a planning application has been submitted to Bexley Council to substantially redevelop and remodel the Spice Master Indian Restaurant in Nuxley Road, Upper Belvedere. The planning application, number 20/01859/FUL covers alterations and extensions to provide a two storey building with restaurant /cafe (Class A3) on ground floor and a house of multiple occupation (HMO) (Sui Generis) for up to seven people on the first floor of 45 - 47 Nuxley Road Belvedere Kent DA17 5JN. Details of the proposed redevelopment comprise of:- "First floor: refurbishment, roof extension and change of use for the rooms above the restaurant and the C3 use class flat to Sui Generis to provide a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) . This will provide 7 no units with their own bathroom and shared kitchen facilities. Ground floor: refurbishment of the existing A3 use class unit to provide an empty shell for future tenants with relocation of the toilet facilities to the back and provision of back of house access and refuse disposal; independent access to the proposed first floor HMO; and provision of refuse facilities integrated within the building shell for the ground floor unit and first floor HMO". The Spice Master is just the latest in a number of restaurants that have operated out of the building. The building that the restaurant is located in has a lot of history. It was originally constructed as a Victorian temperance cafe called the Belvedere Coffee Tavern and Refreshment Bar – see the period photograph above - click on it for a larger version. I can dimly recall it as a “greasy spoon” type cafe when I was a child, growing up in Upper Belvedere. I never went in it, but would go past regularly. In the mid to late eighties the cafe building was extensively extended and remodelled, to the extent that the owners got into some rather hot water with Bexley Council planning department, as the original structure was a grade II listed building, and they altered it so much that it lost its’ listing. At the same time it was extended, it changed from being a rather scruffy looking cafe into a rather upmarket Italian restaurant called La Dolce Vita, which seemed to be frequented by elderly Jaguar driving wide boys and their brassy wives. It was very popular at lunch times for people holding business meetings, and at weekends it was packed – especially for Sunday lunch when one would need to book in advance to stand a chance of getting a table. During the middle of this period, it was exposed by the News Shopper has having the worst kitchen hygiene recorded in Bexley to that date; the place was so bad that it was featured on at least one television consumer protection programme. This had the effect of killing trade off almost overnight. They cleaned the place up, and re-launched it the next year with a new name –“The Garden”, but people had long memories, and the trade did not return. One diner of the time told me ”It was nearly always empty and almost overly friendly with the service. We knew of its health and safety problems (but that was like a year before we'd started going there so it had cleaned up its act) and we had some lovely meals. We tended to use it as a "sod-it-we-can't-be-arsed-to-cook" night as it was local, quite reasonable and they had a tolerable/well priced wine list. It was nice enough but I'm not a fan of Italian Restaurants seeing as at home we eat a lot of Italian style dishes (pasta, lasagne, meatballs, Mediterranean salad etc) so I like to have stuff a bit different when I go out. It was the height of mid-80's home decoration inside, if I remember rightly. Artex about 3ft thick and everything covered in fake Roman columns, plastic ivy and plaster statues with B and Q's finest wall-hangings and light fittings. Probably quite swish in the day but when we were there in the mid-90's it was a little tired and dated and not my type of thing at all”. Not long after this, it closed for good and lay empty and boarded up for quite a time.It was about at this time that I moved to Erith, and was less aware of the goings on in Nuxley Road than I used to be. The old restaurant building was again gutted and refurbished, this time as an Indian restaurant; the first competition for the venerable and long established Belvedere Tandoori, which was one of my introductions to high street curry eating back in the day. Now it would appear that further changes are in the pipeline. Watch this space for developments in due course.
Despite the rules, the number of people not wearing masks on the buses continues to rise. Whilst I appreciate that some of those people have genuine respiratory problems, and are exempted from wearing a mask, I suspect that a majority just don't bother. What annoys me significantly more, are those people who give lip service to mask wearing, but wear the mask as a chin - strap, or use the mask to cover their mouth, but leave their nose uncovered. You might as well not bother. What also galls me is that bus drivers do not challenge those passengers breaking the rules - what is the point of having rules if they are not enforced? On a personal note, I always wear a mask in public; I do not like it, but wear it all the same. If I have to suffer, then others should do the same. If this was not irritating enough to the law abiding public transport user, then another irritation also seems to be on the increase. Despite with pretty much all mobile phones being supplied as standard with ear - bud type earphones, the incidence of passengers playing music out loud on public transport is reported to be on the rise. Personally I think playing music out loud on mobile phones in public should be a criminal offence. It is nearly always someone who looks like they would stab you if you complained to them. Why people do this rather than using headphones / ear buds is completely beyond me. The issue was even been discussed in the House of Lords. In 2006, The Piped Music and Showing of Television Programmes Bill was presented to Parliament, calling for "the wearing of headphones by persons listening to music in the public areas of hospitals and on public transport" to be made compulsory, although it never made it into law. The phenomenon has even been given a name – it is called “Sodcasting”. "Sodcast [noun]: Music, on a crowded bus, coming from the speaker on a mobile phone. Sodcasters are terrified of not being noticed, so they spray their audio wee around the place like tomcats." To say there is a backlash against "Sodcasting", that it is felt to be antisocial, is a massive understatement. The fact that the music played is usually hip-hop or other forms of urban music, often seen as threatening by those who don't listen to that music, exacerbates the sense, felt by many, that the very practice of sodcasting carries an implicit threat: "You don't want to mess with me." Indeed, back in 2006 a couple of thirty somethings from London launched a Music Free Buses campaign and a petition asking TfL (Transport for London) to ban the practice. "People think they can sit on a bus and blast music out, and when you ask them to turn it down you get abuse, especially from teenagers," they told their local newspaper. Around 4,500 people signed the petition, and in a poll carried out by the campaigners, 84 percent said under-18s caught playing music out loud should have their free travel revoked. Only 2 percent of respondents said they found the playing of music in public acceptable; the same proportion of those polled who were 18 or under. The message was clear: youngsters are the ones sodcasting, and adults despise it. TfL declined to ban it, though. I wonder if a relaunch of the campaign may well be on the books? What do you think?