Sunday, December 20, 2020

New Scores.

I took the photos above - click on any one to see a larger version - on Wednesday afternoon. The photos show the building and refurbishment work currently being undertaken inside The Old Carnegie Library in Walnut Tree Road on behalf of local Charitable Community Benefit Society The Exchange. Phase one of the work was carried out a couple of years ago, and mainly consisted of replacing the library roof, and creating the Bookstore Cafe in the lower ground floor of the building. Currently phase two of the work is being undertaken, which consists of modifications and improvements to the rest of the Grade II listed building. One of the major additions will be the installation of a lift, which will enable step free access to all three floors of the historic building - something that until now has been impossible. The work is scheduled to be completed by the end of February. Once the work is done, the library - subject to whatever Covid-19 precautions are then in place, will have spaces for a woodwork shop, a ceramics studio, a fabric and tailoring facility, live performance and public meeting spaces, office space for administration and the existing Bookstore Cafe and conversation room. More on the refurbishment work in due course. 

Some good news; after a prolonged hiatus, fellow local Blogger The Thamesmead Grump is now back in the saddle. It is good to see Richard's uniquely humorous take on events both local and national. You can read his newly rejuvenated Blog by clicking here.  


Under previous ownership back in the 1980’s, the Running Horses Pub and Carvery in Erith High Street (shown in the photo above - click on it for a larger view) was incredibly popular – to book on a Sunday you usually had to make a reservation a couple of weeks in advance. The food was well cooked and plentiful, the place was packed and the service was great. The excellent view over the river Thames from the upper floors windows only added to the whole experience. I can recall being taken there with my sister by my parents on many occasions. It was always a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon. When I last visited the Running Horses a handful of years ago, the only real ale they had on tap was Young’s Bitter (one of my favourite bog standard bitters) but it was sour and off. When I took back the pint the barman denied it was off, and when I showed him my CAMRA membership card, he offered me a pint of Carlsberg lager in replacement. I am pretty sure he had no idea how insulting that was to a real ale enthusiast, so I got a refund and went home. The Running Horses used to be a “treat” destination, but until very recently, it seemed to be the last refuge of the desperate. The previous owners spent a lot of money on the place a few years ago, but I don’t think they ever recouped it. Walking past the place early on a Sunday afternoon, I rarely saw more than a couple of cars in the car park at the back, or in the Riverside Gardens parking spaces at the front of the pub. This contrasted with the eighties, when a driver would be hard pressed to find a space after midday. As I recently wrote, the Running Horses has now changed hands, and it would appear to be turning the corner as far as especially food is concerned. This week I have a guest contributor - someone who is relatively new to the area, and who is able to cast a fresh eye on local issues. Here is a review of the Running Horses as it is today, and I am pleased to say that things do seem to be much improved. Ian writes:- "Having moved into Erith in the last few months, I was keen to find a local pub that I could frequent for a pint or two. My partner having lived in the area for many years mentioned the Running Horses so back at the end of August we gave it a go on a Friday evening. Well it was quiet, dark interior and didn’t feel too welcoming. But since Shaun and Ronnie have taken the pub on it has been slowly transformed. It’s now a much brighter and friendlier pub to go for a drink and they are doing a small choice of food to fall in line with the pandemic requirements. Having enjoyed our regular Friday evening drink we decided to try the Sunday carvery which opened a couple of weeks ago. We haven’t been disappointed. The food has been really good, plentiful and fresh. The staff friendly and attentive. Social distancing rules prevail too which is good to see. It’s great value too at under £10. Can’t believe it will stay at that price for too long though. All in all I would thoroughly recommend the Running Horses as a friendly hostelry. I guess the only disappointment for me is that, at the present time, they are not serving any cask bitter. Hopefully that will change in time once we get to some sense of pre COVID normality. Well done Shaun and Ronnie, keep up the good start.”

I feel a rant coming on; I have not had one for quite a while – but there is a subject I feel is hiding in plain sight – so called “Clickbait” – websites that exist only to get as many visits as possible to increase the rates that they can charge for online advertising. You often find photos at the bottom of the page on some relatively otherwise reputable websites with titles such as “Hurry up before this video gets banned”, “Eat this and never diet again”, “Rich people try anything to ban this”, “Diet trick that melts fat like butter” and so on. You will have no doubt come across these many times before. You also get what appear to be ads personally directed at yourself. These have titles like “Moms in Dartford earn $30 an hour” – it does not take a genius to work out that an automated script on the web server looks at the I.P address of the incoming page request, does a basic lookup of the I.P address and where it is geographically located, then inserts the name of a nearby town to try and attract your attention. Obviously the word “Mom” instead of “Mum” and the dollar rate quoted give the game away. Clickbait is a pox on the web – if people did not click on the stories, the companies who run websites like and would go out of business. Not only do they fill your browser with annoying animated adverts, but some pages have code that hijacks your browser and takes you to other unwanted sites – also markets expensive, untested and quite possibly illegal diet pills and “miracle” slimming aids to gullible people with more money than sense. What amazes me is that these Click Baiters have used exactly the same techniques to elicit visits to their tawdry websites in exactly the same way for years; it seems like the techniques still work – as soon as they post an announcement along the lines of “you have to check this out before it is banned” (they love using the threat of something posted online being “banned”) – as to who or what could actually ban something is left unsaid for the reason that the whole thing is blatant tosh designed to farm clicks to create advertising revenue. What do you think? Email me at

As I have recently written, there are moves to reinstate the project to create a river crossing between Lower Belvedere and Rainham in Essex. The area has been crippled by the lack of cross - river link for decades - the Dartford River Crossing is almost permanently congested, and in any case is a rather long detour for local trips. What many people do not realise is that until relatively recently, there was another way of getting across the River Thames locally. Back in the 1980's, the Ford ferry from Lower Belvedere to the Ford car plant in Dagenham was in regular use; I can recall that several school friends had relatives who worked at the massive automotive factory, and who used to do the twice daily commute across the River Thames to go to and from their place of work. The ferry became a minor local landmark that had started back in 1933 when the Ford works was a relatively new creation. It used to make up to fifty trips across the river every day; each trip would take a little less than ten minutes, and many commuters found it to be invaluable. Ford paid the ferry costs, and the free trip was considered a perk of the job for Ford workers who lived on the South side of the river. When Ford ceased to make complete cars at Dagenham back in 2002, they converted the factory to make engines and gearboxes which were then transported to other Ford factories around Europe to be installed into vehicles made elsewhere. Ford senior management then decided that in order to cut costs, they would terminate the contract with the ferry operator. There was a great deal of opposition to this move, and it took a further two years, and a court case before the ferry service stopped running in February 2004. A free bus service was subsequently laid on by Ford, which had its pickup point in Nuxley Road, Upper Belvedere. This bus service then used the Dartford Crossing to get to Dagenham, and was regarded by its users as slow and unreliable when compared with the ferry service. Now the Ford factory employs far fewer people than it did in its heyday, and it does not dominate the local area in the way that it once did. Things may well be changing in the next couple of years though. The Dagenham film and TV studio project is now well underway, and it will be providing a large number of well paid local jobs. From what has been reported, I understand that around four thousand jobs will be created in the new studio, and this will once again mean that people living in Bexley will need to travel across the Thames if they secure a job at the new studio. In an ideal world, construction of the much discussed proposed Lower Belvedere to Rainham river crossing would be under way, but there is serious doubt over whether this project will actually ever see the light of day, especially considering the state of public finances after Covid-19. Also, the land which used to be the site of the old Ford ferry jetty and car park have now been built on, so it would not be possible to reinstate the old ferry service. 

Some good news; the controversial African restaurant, the White Hart as just had a visit from the health inspectors from Bexley Council. Ever since the place opened, it has had a terrible 1 out of 5 stars for its "Scores on the Doors" food hygiene rating. Last week, thankfully this changed; after an inspection of the premises on the 8th of December, the "Scores on the Doors" rating was raised to an excellent 5 stars out of 5 - something that I feel has been long overdue. Local food outlets, as in the country in general, are having a very hard time of things due to the various government restrictions that have been in place for most of this year. Anything that can be done to promote and encourage eating out - where appropriate and using all of the now well known precautions - is to be welcomed. What do you think? Have you recently eaten at the White Hart? What did you think of your visit? Email me at

In a story linked to the White Hart, it is apparent that after what appears to be a delay of nearly five years, the project to redevelop the garden of the former pub may be about to begin. The upper of the two photos above shows hoarding that has been placed over the hole in the wall that used to surround the pub garden, but which now protects a large void that was excavated when the White Hart was converted into flats and restaurant space from a pub. It would appear that part of the wall has recently been removed to permit access for building personnel and mechanical plant. The lower of the two images above shows the architects drawing of the proposed low rise apartment block from back in 2015, when the plan was initially proposed. I have no information as to whether the plans have been updated or modified in the intervening time. If you have any knowledge of this, please Email me at

There has been a lot of debate about 5G mobile phone technology, and the false claims about 5G signals causing all sorts of malicious effects, which I am not going to elaborate on here. What is clear about the 5G technology is that it currently has some technical vulnerabilities, which could leave 5G enabled devices susceptible to hostile attacks. An information security company called Positive Technologies has investigated the situation; their report makes for very interesting reading. It claimed that the HTTP/2 protocol, used for carrying out vital network functions including the registering and storing of user profiles, contained vulnerabilities that could let malicious sorts carry out denial-of-service attacks and the like against mobile phone users. packet forwarding control protocol (PFCP). In a statement about its report, Positive singled out the PFCP, which is used to make subscriber connections, saying it "has several potential vulnerabilities such as denial of service, cutting subscriber access to the internet and redirecting traffic to an attacker, allowing them to downlink the data of a subscriber". It also highlighted the HTTP/2 protocol, which it said contained vulns that could allow malicious people to "impersonate any network service" – damaging telecom companies customers' trust in the network – as well as deleting vital network function profiles. Separately, the EU cyber security agency ENISA published a highly technical report this week into 5G security, setting out what it sees as important vulnerabilities to be fixed in the technologies underpinning 5G networks, both at the radio access and core layers. You can read the technical report by clicking here

Now for the weekly local safety and security updates from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association. Firstly the report from Barnehurst ward:- "Barnehurst Ward has had no reported burglaries and one Incident of vehicle crime over the last week. On Saturday 12/12/20 overnight in Birling Road, a vehicle was found with a smashed rear window screen. Elsewhere on the ward arrests were made after officers came across a property which was being used for Cultivation of Cannabis. A large number of plants were seized. Proactive arrest enquires have been carried out on the ward regarding any outstanding suspects. The team carried out a Smart Water event for residents of Manor Way. We have yet to visit some vulnerable residents who were unable to attend. The next road we will be looking at will be Northall Road. Overnight on the Saturday 12th December along Birling Road Erith, a back window was reported smashed from 11 pm and 10 am the next day. Between the Thursday 3rd December and Saturday 5th December along Colyers Lane Erith, the victim had reported graffiti being sprayed on their garage door. There was a report of a theft from a motor vehicle along Holmesdale Grove Bexleyheath, the van was broke into and damaged was caused. This was overnight on Thursday 3rd December until 4 am in the morning. Also, there was a report of a front window by the front door reported damaged along Stuart Mantle Way on the Tuesday 1st December, time reported was about 5:50 pm". Belvedere ward:- "The Belvedere team have been out with their sister wards of Thamesmead Moorings and Thamesmead East over the past week. Over that period we have made a number of arrests notably wanted offenders residing in those wards. On Monday we also conducted numerous stop and searches in and around Belvedere train station where we made 2 positive searches where the males concerned were both in possession of cannabis. We are aware this area has a tendency for Anti-Social behaviour and street drinking.  We are making a concerted effort to eradicate this problem and in joining up with neighbouring wards as we have we hope to deal with this problem robustly due to the numbers of officers we will have available to patrol". Bexleyheath ward:- "On Tuesday 15th December there was a report of a mobile phone stolen, possibly whilst the victim was in M and S in Bexleyheath at about 2:30 pm. There were also three reports of vehicles back windows being broken in to at 3 different locations Below are some details: Lavernock Road, Bexleyheath overnight from the Sunday 13th December. Times were 3 pm and 10 am the next day. Burr Close on the 12th December between 9:45 pm & 11:45 pm. Grace Avenue Bexleyheath. Took place overnight on the Thursday 10th Dec and times were 8 pm until 7:30 am the next day. Also on the 12th December, there was a report of another vehicle that had reported damage along Freta Road, which was a side door damaged and a window. This was over a period from Sunday 6th December until Saturday 12th December. A bag was reported stolen whilst the victim was at Goads Football at Graham Road Bexleyheath. This was on Sunday 13th December between 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm. There was a report of an attempted burglary at Latham Road Bexleyheath, the victim had left the property and when they returned they found the side gate open and a damaged fence. They believe the suspect may have tried gaining access to the property from the rear door. The times were 11 am and 11:20 am on Thursday 10th December. Overnight on Thursday 10th December, there was a report of a theft from a vehicle at Gravel Hill Close, a sensor was removed behind a bumper. The times were from 2 pm and just after midnight. A wallet was report stolen from an elderly man shopping in the Broadway Bexleyheath. It seems his coat was cut/ripped to take his wallet. This was about 1:20 pm and 2:30 pm. A car window was reported smashed whilst parked outside the MEZE restaurant on the Broadway. Which was on Wednesday 9th December between 2:30 pm and 3 pm. Also on Wednesday 9th, a purse was reported as stolen from the victims pocket whilst shopping in the Broadway in the afternoon between 2:30 pm and 3 pm." Crayford ward:- "On Monday 14th December, the victim had reported their purse being stolen whilst shopping in Sainsbury’s Crayford between 1 pm and 1.30 pm. Also on the Monday 14th, there was a report of a burglary at a property along Crayford Way, a neighbour had noticed something suspicious and called the Police, and some males were seen running away from the property jumping over rear fences. This was about 4:45 pm and 5:10 pm. It looks like they had gained access from the rear kitchen door by smashing a window. On Wednesday 9th December there was a report of a theft from a motor vehicle at Sainsbury’s car park Stadium Way Crayford. The catalytic converter was stolen from the vehicle at about 10:25 am. There was a report of a rear car window smashed on the Wednesday 9th December at Claston Close Dartford that happened overnight from Tuesday 8th December and noticed at 5:30 pm. At Alcock Crescent at about 1 am on the Thursday 10th December, three males were seen trying to steal a motorbike and tried breaking the lock off the bike to steal it". Erith ward:- "Wednesday 9/12/2020 Hillside Erith Aggravated Burglary - Males kicked the door and smashed the glass in the door in order to obtain entry, Resident was then threatened. Thursday 10/12/2020 – Hollyhill road Theft from MV  Catalytic converter. Saturday 12/12/2020 – Chandlers drive Attempted Burglary – Door forced but didn’t open. Saturday 12/12/2020 – Adit Road Theft from MV. Sunday 13/12/2020 – Park Crescent Theft from MV. We also carried out a positive Warrant in Erith on Wednesday recovering drugs". Northumberland Heath ward - no report this week. Slade Green and Northend ward:- "An attempted robbery took place near the bridge at Slade Green train station on Friday 11/12 around 6 pm. Fortunately, a member of the public scared the group away. CCTV images are being checked by British Transport Police. PC James found a stolen vehicle in the car park area in Sun Court on Monday and it was recovered for forensic checks. The owner has been notified. The team assisted Erith SNT in executing a drugs warrant on Tuesday 15/12 where 2 arrests were made and a quantity of drugs was found". Thamesmead East ward:- "Burglary - Masham House Fri 11/12/20 victim states contractors were carrying out work on the communal landing and requested the front door to the property be left open while the dog was taken for a walk. Later that evening victim notice x2 purses had been removed from the property without permission. Vehicle Crime - Overton Road Wed 9/12/20 between 7 pm – 7 am victim reports Satnav, logbook and CD’s have been removed from the vehicle without permission by suspects. Leensbury Way Wed 9/12/20 between 4:45 pm and 8:05 am victim reports front and rear number plates removed by suspect/s unknown. Yarnton Way - Fri 11/12/20 Victim reports at approximately 3:50 pm a road rage incident escalated where by the male suspect of a Grey Fiat Punto got out of the vehicle and smashed the victim’s wing mirror off. The incident was caught on dashcam and investigations are ongoing. Rushdene Road -  Fri 11/12/20 11 pm – Sun 13/12/20 10:20 am Victim reports Suspect/s unknown have broken into vehicle removing laptop, wallet containing driving licence and bank cards along with other personal property. Victim states the vehicle was locked". West Heath ward:- "There were two reported burglaries and several motor vehicle crimes on West Heath from 06/12/20 to16/12/20. On Saturday 12/12/2020 the victim reported a residential burglary took place in Hadlow Road Welling. The victim left home at 13::00 hours and returned at 18:58 hours to find the front door damaged. The suspect has entered the house and carried out an untidy search. Jewellery and cash were stolen. On Friday 11/12/2020 at 21:00 hours the victim reported a burglary in Chessington Avenue Bexleyheath. The victim believed an intruder had entered the house and stole a purse. It is unknown how entry was gained but the victim believes someone had a key to the property. On Friday 11/12/20 there was a theft from a motor vehicle in Hollingbourne Avenue Bexleyheath, a catalytic converter was stolen from a blue Honda Accord at 1600 hours. On Wednesday 9/12/20 there was reported theft from a motor vehicle in little Heath Road. A catalytic converter was stolen from a Jazz Jaguar at 12:30 hours. Unfortunately, catalytic converter crime is on the rise across the borough and we have several incidents reported to us in the last week or so. On Wednesday 9/12/2020 at approximately 22:25 hours a resident in Iris Crescent Bexleyheath heard a noise in a neighbour’s garage. Several males were seen acting suspiciously with the engine of their vehicle still running, one of the males had a tool in his hand and the victim’s car was jacked up. Thankfully the quick-thinking resident challenged the males who made off at speed in the direction of Bedonwell Road. Another catalytic converter theft took place in Little Heath Road Bexleyheath overnight on Wednesday 9/12/20  22:00 and Thursday 10/12/20 at 12:30. Theft of a catalytic converter in Hollingbourne Avenue between 18:00 on Friday 11/12/20 and Saturday 12/12/20 at 17:00. A resident in Woolwich Road reported several tyres on his car had been slashed between Friday evening 11/12/20 at 18:00 and Saturday 12/12/20 at approximately 13:00 when he returned to his vehicle. One report of criminal damage to a motor vehicle in Mayfair Avenue between Saturday 12/12/20 22:30 and Sunday 13/12/20  07:30. A rear window to the victim’s car was smashed. Also between Sunday 13/12/20 17:00 and Monday 14/12/20 08:30  a second resident in Mayfair Avenue also had a rear window to their vehicle smashed".
The end video this week is a short promotional film featuring several of the hospitality based businesses in Bexleyheath Broadway. It was shot back in August, just after the first lock down was eased. I have concerns that some of the businesses featured in the video may now be struggling to survive. Please feel free to Email comments and suggestions to me at

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