The two photos above - click on either to see a larger version - were taken by me at 2pm on Wednesday afternoon in Bexleyheath Broadway. They show a Police area patrol car and an unmarked Police vehicle - there was a third area patrol car out of the picture to the left. A number of officers had arrested and handcuffed a couple of men outside of Lloyd's Bank, as you can see in the upper of the two images. What the men had been arrested for, I am not sure. It did appear that the Police operation was very slick and professional.
Following my article on the horrible smells coming from the ADM Oils refinery, I received the following Email from a long time reader who wishes to remain anonymous:- "I have the misfortune to live not far from the ADM Oils. In the last month or so the smells have been truly horrible, it is very irregular, at different times of the day or night, but pretty much every day there is a spell of this sickly / sweetly / fermenting smell. I already contacted Environmental Agency, they said keep calling each time the smell appears, hopefully something gets done about it. The smell is definitely back". Have you experienced the horrible smell from ADM Oils? Email me in complete confidence to email@example.com.
Whilst there has been much press coverage, and indeed discussion regarding the ongoing 5G mobile phone infrastructure roll - out, very little has been said abut the next generation of wired, fibre optic network connectivity. People in the UK have had ADSL, followed by standard fibre broadband for the best part of two decades now, but the technology has moved on, and data transfer speeds have increased enormously. Up until now, these ultra fast connections have been mainly limited to large businesses and broadcast companies - of which I have first hand personal experience. I worked for a period at BT, project managing the installation of ultra high speed fibre optic cables for their contract with the BBC - connecting various TV and radio studios with broadcast transmitter sites and outside broadcast locations such as Premiership football grounds. The ultra high speed connectivity that up until now has been for the exclusive use of the likes of the BBC is now being deployed for the general public; two of the first towns to have public ultra fast connectivity are pretty close by; Chatham and Gillingham are being used as pilots in a £40 million roll - out project, which, if successful, will be extended to areas such as the London Borough of Bexley and beyond. The colour coded map above - click on it to see a larger version - shows the current status of ultra fast fibre connectivity in the area. Promising download speeds of a gigabyte per second, the fibre based broadband provider VFast says it will bring "next generation digital connectivity" to the almost every home and business in the towns. The company has partnered with Vodafone and TalkTalk to provide the platform for residential and commercial customers. Many current internet providers offer download speeds of between 35 megabytes per second to about 100Mb in some areas – 100 times less than Vfast says it will provide. It is part of an overall £4bn investment in internet infrastructure across the country by CityFibre – the UK's largest independent fibre broadband platform. Constructing the network started in February and will see all fibre cables from the server directly to the customer's door promising faster speeds instead of using copper wiring for part of the network. The service is being provided in 60 places across the UK as CityFibre aims to create what it calls Gigabit Cities providing eight million households. CityFibre and VFast are direct competitors with the larger telecommunications companies such as BT, all of whom are currently engaging in a huge programme of work which is known by the acronym "FTTP" - Fibre To The Premises. Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) replaces old copper broadband lines; fibre optic cables are run from the local exchange direct to the premises. Because the fibre cable comes right into the building, there is less ‘contention’ which gives you a faster and more reliable broadband experience.
The advert above dates back to 1901, so the "20th Century Cycle co." would have been an extremely futuristic brand at the time. I think it strange that it does not give an address for callers though. An eye catching design, nevertheless. I wonder if anyone knows the history of the company, where they were located, and what happened to them? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have had some very positive feedback on the recent articles I have written about the move to electric vehicles in the UK - and following on from the piece I published last week on converting classic cars from petrol or diesel to run on electricity instead. In the last week I have been studying a recently published report on the feedback that EV drivers have given in the 2021 Electric Vehicle (EV) Driver Survey, which has been undertaken on behalf of NewMotion, an EV charging point provider that is a subsidiary of the oil company Shell. This article is quite long and involved, and I suspect that it will not be of interest to some readers; if the results of the most extensive and detailed survey into the use of, and attitudes towards electric vehicles in the UK and mainland Europe is not your thing, please feel free to skip onwards to my next article further below.
A previous survey, which concentrated on driver experiences with conventional fossil fuelled vehicles that measured driver experiences with in-vehicle technology features during the first ninety days of ownership. The five features owners most commonly reported that they "never used" were in-vehicle concierge (43 percent); mobile routers (38 percent); automatic parking systems (35 percent); heads-up display (33 percent); and built-in apps (32 percent). Additionally, there were fourteen technology features that twenty percent or more of owners did not even want in their next vehicle. Those features include Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, in-vehicle concierge services and in-vehicle voice texting. In many cases, owners simply prefer to use their smartphone or tablet because it met their needs; they were familiar with the device and it's accurate, In-vehicle connectivity technology that's not used results in millions of pounds of lost value for both consumers and the manufacturers. About the technology now offered in new cars, vehicle owners said they simply "did not find it useful," adding that it "came as part of a package on my current vehicle and I did not want it." Vehicle owners who said their dealer did not explain a tech feature also had a higher likelihood of never using it, the historic survey found. Those surveyed said the technology they most often do want are those that enhance driving and safety, which are only available as a built-in features. The in-vehicle technologies most owners want include vehicle health diagnostics, blind-spot warning and detection, and adaptive cruise control. The first thirty days are critical. That first-time experience with the technology is the make-it-or-break-it stage; Car makers need to get it right the first time, or owners will simply use their own mobile device instead of the in-vehicle technology. Drivers' decisions to ignore the technology in their vehicles has implications beyond the automotive industry. For example, insurance firms are closely tracking automotive technology for safety and financial reasons. Insurers are concerned that difficult-to-use technology may distract drivers and cause an accident – they also use the tracking information to refuse insurance claims when the driver had been driving illegally / irresponsibly. Using smartphones instead of in-vehicle technology also creates safety issues, with the driver being distracted by the mobile device. Additionally, in-vehicle technology can significantly increase claims costs for vehicles damaged in an accident. While some technologies, such as lane-departure warning, are making vehicles safer, the insurance industry is very concerned about the driver-distraction hazards caused by some of the other technologies In addition, technology drives up the repair and replacement costs. A slight bumper scrape that would normally cost a few hundred pounds to repair can catapult a claim into thousands of pounds when a parking assistance camera or other sensors are damaged, and also need to be replaced. The new survey, which covered the UK and a number of EU countries makes for interesting and informative reading. Speaking to more than 10,000 electric vehicle (EV) drivers across Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK, NewMotion gathered real-world data on key questions for stakeholders in the EV and charging sectors, from attitudes to public charging networks, to expectations for the future of e-mobility, to the changes that EVs have on driving behaviours. The range of respondents was broad. Two-thirds were aged 25-54, in the central section of their working lives, meaning that many were outside this traditional age (50+) range for the EV market. Drivers in the UK skew particularly young, with 16% of them under 25, while Belgium has the strongest cohort of over 65s, at 17%. In terms of profession, many likewise work in the industries we would anticipate, with banking and engineering professionals each making up 10%, and IT being the most strongly represented sector at 13%. That leaves two-thirds of all drivers coming from other areas, and we had responses from people in every walk of life, from healthcare, to science, to the civil service. In 2020, for comparison, 20% of the respondents were in engineering roles. The majority have at least one other vehicle available to them: for 37%, their EV is their only vehicle, and more than half also have a petrol or diesel car. However, just 17% said that their fossil fuel car is their primary vehicle. Personal charge points dominate – but are closely followed by on-street While 84% of drivers have private parking available to them, and are therefore reasonably likely to be able to install a charge point at home, just 68% actually do have a personal charge point. 38% of drivers, meanwhile, have charging points available to them at their place of work, and 15% have neither, requiring them to use alternative solutions such as plugging into a standard socket or taking advantage of on-street and other on-the-go charging options. When asked about charging frequency, 40% of drivers say that it is about as expected – but 26% charge more at home than they anticipated, and 17% charge more at work. Those who do have a home charge point seem to be taking full advantage of it: just 9% of that group say they use it less than expected, and 31% that they use it more than expected. When it comes to charging on the go, 22% are doing this more than they thought they would. On-street charge points are the most popular option for this, being used by 62% of drivers overall, followed by parking garages and shopping and leisure destinations, at 46% each. On-street is particularly prevalent in Germany, where it’s used 79% of drivers, while the UK and France have the joint-highest rate of not charging on-the-go at all, at 10%. While home charging requires the up-front purchase of a device, charging on the go usually means registering with a charging network, giving users access to charging infrastructure on the street and in other public locations. 94% of drivers have at least one network’s card to do this, and 76% have two or more. Of those with multiple cards, 93% say that they have a favoured card which they use more than others. For 37%, this is because a particular card offers cheaper prices than the others, while for 22% it’s because their preferred card offers wider coverage and more charging locations. Charging networks are, however, very different in different geographies: in Germany, for instance, more than half of users favour a network with lower prices, while for France this number is just 18%. Alongside the on-street charge points which are fast becoming a familiar sight in cities, there has also been a growing availability of fast charge points, which are rated at 50kW or higher and can fill a battery in under an hour. Mostly found alongside highways, these charge points make it easier to complete long journeys in a time which is comparable to traditional vehicles. While our longest-distance drivers are much more likely to use them, however, they are not a daily feature of life for many, with less than half using them once a week and 13% never using them. When asking drivers what three changes would most improve the charging experience, better availability of public charge points polls as strongly as we would expect, with 48% choosing it. This is beaten out, however, by faster charging, which is at the top of the list for 52% of drivers. While rapid charging infrastructure is being rolled out on long-distance routes like highways, there is a clear appetite for shorter charge times at all locations. These two improvements are far and away the most popular ideas: next on the list is charge point interoperability, with 36% wanting a single charge card for every public charge point. This is, in fact, chosen by almost half of German and Belgian drivers. A range of different approaches to paying for charging may also be popular: when asked whether they would be interested in paying a fixed monthly price for unlimited charging, 39% of respondents agreed and 38% disagreed. Interestingly, this varies significantly by market: over half of respondents in France and the UK agreed, compared to less than a quarter of those in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. Home charging is just as ripe for improvement as on-the-go infrastructure is, of course. When asked about a range of potential future technological developments, the most exciting idea for drivers (ranked first by 30% of respondents) was the idea of integrating home charging with at-home renewables such as solar panels. This is followed by the automatic recognition of the car without a card or app, known as Plug & Charge, at 24%. While these are very different kinds of ideas, they both speak to a future in which everything related to e-mobility is easier and more connected, from the power being generated on our roofs to the data being shared between our EVs and charge points. One thing that won’t change is that the switch to EVs is being motivated, more than anything else, by climate change. This is obviously the case for governments and businesses aiming to meet emissions targets, and more than half of drivers say that helping the environment is one of their two biggest reasons for choosing an EV over traditional vehicles. The driving experience itself, though, is almost as important, being a top-two reason for 54% of drivers, versus 58% for the environment. What’s interesting here is that factors to do with the vehicle itself seem to outweigh contextual factors for EV ownership. For example, saving money is a key motivator for 34% of drivers, and taking advantage of subsidies and tax breaks for just 28%. While governments have often aimed to financially incentivise EV adoption, it seems that the technological advantages remain the biggest draw. Finances do, however, outrank social pressure: just 3% say that recommendations from their social network is the main reason they drive an EV. The other side of this coin is what people feel they need to know before switching to an EV, so we asked what they researched before making the move. The biggest question, asked by 57%, was around vehicle range; unsurprisingly, given their longer journey distances, this was researched by 80% of Dutch EV users. Range was closely followed by brands and models (53%) and charging options (48%). While environmental benefits are the biggest reason for going electric, they also seem to be well understood and believed: at 37%, this is the least common research area. With the majority of drivers seeing the environment as a key reason to drive an EV – and 36% putting it as their overall most important reason, the report writers would expect to see many owners take an interest in encouraging broader EV adoption. When asked what the best way of doing this would be, one in five owners told the reporters that they believed better range would be the most important driver for mass EV adoption, and over half put it in their top three. Similarly, better charge point availability came in at second overall, with 45% putting it in their top three, ahead of cheaper vehicle costs at 37%. Interestingly, while just 7% said that faster charging would be their most important factor, it was chosen as a top-three factor by 39%. Charge point availability might be the most obvious charging factor, drivers clearly have an awareness of how EV infrastructure as a whole could be improved: in a separate question, 60% of respondents agreed that smart charging would be a good way to encourage adoption. Looking at the tax initiatives which governments often turn to, 23% placed higher taxes on fossil fuel vehicles in their top three, while 22% did so for tax benefits for EV purchases. Taxing traditional vehicles more harshly was also, however, the most disagreed-with policy on offer, with 18% saying that it would be the least important initiative in the list. What do you think? Email me at email@example.com.
The recent situation in Afghanistan and the exodus of so many of its inhabitants have got a certain section of the UK population somewhat hot under the collar. Whilst a vast majority of the UK welcomes these people who have had to leave their homeland in violent and tragic circumstances to find refuge elsewhere, there is a minority who feel threatened by newcomers. These people do not understand, or choose to ignore the legal difference between refugees and illegal immigrants - and indeed, there are cases where the two definitions can indeed be blurred at the best of times. Nevertheless, there is a significant sector of the UK service economy which would be unable to function without them. This article certainly does not want to conflate refugees and illegal immigrants; nevertheless, I think it is an open secret that takeaways and restaurants around the country employ a lot of illegals. To be honest, it is not much of a surprise; most people want food from these establishments, they want it served quickly, and most importantly they want it to be cheap. Employing illegals has attractions for many food outlets, especially those serving ethnic food. If you are running a Chinese or Indian takeaway, for example, you may feel more comfortable with an employee who shares your mother language and culture, and is likely to know the food, and how best to prepare it to a greater or lesser extent. Illegals also usually don’t get minimum wage – they are often grateful for a roof over their heads and regular meals, and can be easy to exploit by unscrupulous employers, due to their immigration status – something that can be used as a threat if any complaint about employment conditions is made. I think that as long as we have takeaways, we are going to have problems with illegal immigrants – and don’t think I support the likes of the BNP, EDF or other neo Nazi groups, who would want to shut the UK borders, and “chuck them all out” – historically Britain has always been an ethnic melting pot since pre - Roman times; something that has done much to strengthen both our culture and our economy. The cliché about immigrants doing jobs that native Brits don’t want to do has more than an element of truth in it. Anyway, whilst researching some of the views and policies of the far right for this article, I came across something rather interesting; The name “Nazi” was meant as an insult when it was first coined. If someone called Hitler a Nazi, he would have been offended (admittedly briefly, before the name caller was taken away and shot). Hitler was the head of the catchily named “Nationalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeitpartei” – which translates as the National Socialist German Workers Party. When Hitler invented this name, he apparently did not think it through very thoroughly. Hitler’s political and moral opponents soon caught on to the fact you could shorten Nationalsozialistiche to Nazi. Why would they do this? Well, because Nazi was a very old and unrelated term of abuse in the German language. The standard butt of German jokes at the beginning of the twentieth century were stupid Bavarian peasants; just as Irish jokes always involved a man called Paddy, so Bavarian jokes always involved a peasant called Nazi. The reason for this is just as Paddy is a shortened form of Patrick, Nazi was a shortened form of the very common Bavarian name of Ignatius. This meant that Hitler’s many opponents had an open goal; He had an extreme right wing party that was filled with Bavarian hicks, and the name of that party could be shortened to the standard German joke name for Bavarian hicks. At first, Hitler did not know what to do about the derogatory nickname “Nazi”, and it was a source of embarrassment – at least until he got into power, when he and his evil cohorts persecuted their opponents. Those that managed to avoid the concentration camps ended up fleeing Germany; refugees started to turn up all over Europe in the pre WWII years, where they understandably started complaining loudly about the Nazis, and pretty much everyone who was not German got the erroneous idea that this was their official name. To this day most people go round believing that Nazis went around calling themselves Nazis, when in reality they would have probably beaten you up, or worse for saying the word!
On Thursday morning I received the following press release regarding an important local residential redevelopment:- "Brand new apartments, which are set to transform a tired and dated high-rise estate in the London Borough of Bexley, are selling fast with eight apartments reserved in the first weekend, according to developers. ‘Park East’, which launched on 21 August, is the latest joint project by Orbit and Wates Residential, part of leading privately-owned construction, property services and development company, Wates Group. It is being developed by the same team responsible for the success of neighbouring Erith Park on the former Larner Road estate in Erith. Both schemes have taken tower block estates and transformed them into attractive new communities with modern, high specification homes set in attractive landscaping. Paul Richards, Group Director of Customers and Communities from Orbit, commented: “Between Erith Park and Park East we’re delivering over 900 new homes but our regeneration commitment is much wider. Not only are we creating an attractive and thriving environment, we’re providing work experience, apprenticeships and supporting a range of community projects and local businesses, which will continue to benefit the whole community. Early sales suggest that there is a lot of demand from people to join this community so we would urge interested people to contact us now.” When complete, Park East will include a total of 320 apartments for sale, shared ownership and rent. All the homes have a large balcony or terrace and the use of attractive communal gardens. For families there are the added attractions of the Active Horizons community centre, Jacqueline Gems Childcare nursery and the play and ecology areas of Erith Park. Helen Bunch, Executive Managing Director, Wates Residential, said: “Everyone deserves a great place to live, and Wates Residential has created these contemporary new homes at Park East in Erith with modern day living in mind. Larger than average living spaces are designed to adapt for work-life balance, and natural day light is maximised with full length windows, private balconies and terraces for each home. “The apartments, with a high specification, are set around a series of landscaped gardens, with open green space and play areas for everyone to enjoy. There is also easy access to local shops, transport links, parks, schools and riverside walks by The Thames – we want people to love living at Park East and be proud to call it home.” Prices start at £257,500 for one bedroom apartments and £297,000 for two bedrooms. 77 homes are Shared Ownership properties which will be available to purchase via Orbit Homes, whilst a further 64 private sale properties are available to purchase through Wates. Due to ongoing Covid-19 protection measures, please make an appointment to visit the sales centre. Contact Jeanette on 01322 771472 https://parkeast-erith.co.uk for private sales and Jane on 01322 771474 https://www.orbithomes.org.uk/park-east/ for shared ownership. For anyone local not quite ready to buy, there are also London Living Rent apartments available, where people can rent whilst saving for a deposit. Register your interest for these at firstname.lastname@example.org. Other rented homes will be let to local households nominated by Bexley Council through Bexley HomeChoice".
The end video this week comes from famous YouTuber Geoff Marshall, who specialises in informative and entertaining videos regarding public transport in its many forms. In this video, Geoff discovers a quirk in local ticket prices, which he describes thus:- "Crossrail was meant to open back in December 2018, but was delayed. When it does eventually open in 2022, you’ll be able to get a direct train between Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood. But the TfL fares have already been put in place ready for it, meaning that if you make this journey right using the DLR + SouthEastern then it's already cheaper right now to travel one one stop further as I demonstrate here …" Geoff explores Plumstead, Abbey Wood and Belvedere stations. Do give it a watch, as it may save you money if you travel by train. As usual, please direct any comments and feedback to email@example.com.