Sunday, January 23, 2022

Not fit for purpose.

It would seem that the long and controversial run of the P2 Events Centre in Pier Road Erith, may finally be coming to an end. The occupants of the upper floor of Electricity House have included an African church, a children's nursery, and a large events centre. The events centre and church in particular have been the cause of many problems over the last years. There has been noise, disturbance and large numbers of people entering and exiting the building in the early hours of the morning. The police have been called on several occasions. This ordeal for local residents may at last be coming to an end. Several organisations involved in licencing have finally reached their conclusions. The Metropolitan Police issued the following report, which has been passed to me by an extremely reliable confidential source. The police say - "The police have considered this application and the potential impact the grant of the licence may have on the licencing objectives and the direct impact of the activities taking place on the premises on members of the public who live work or engaged in normal activity in the area concerned. This venue has a number of rooms in the building and currently there is at least one church using some of the space. The premises historically had a licence as a snooker hall. However, it has been many years since that venue has been in use by the public. In fact, police licencing officers attended the venue on receipt of this application with Mrs. Ely from Bexley council and found the premise in disrepair. There were wires hanging down from the ceiling, missing roof tiles and blocked fire exits. This venue was also dirty and unusable in its current state. We were shown to the roof terrace that the applicant is planning to use. However, it is clear that it is not safe to have guests on the roof. There are no safety railings. There are lots of trip hazards and no guarantee that the roof will be able to take the load of people using the roof regularly. The roof is just a roof and has not been intended for use as the applicant is seeking. Also, directly opposite of the roof terrace is a large block of flats that no doubt will be affected by noise should the venue operators a roof terrace as well as residents next to the venue itself. Operating outside space so late will have impact on the residents who used to this area. Being very quiet at night. None of the offered conditions were lower. The impact at the venue would have on residence police licencing therefore object to this application on the basis of public safety and public nuisance. The premises is simply not fit for purpose and it will be dangerous to allow people to drink this venue. The hours of operation are also too late for an outside venue and there are no conditions that this could be offered in order to reduce the impact". Following that damning report by the police, a further report was published by Bexley Council, who summarised their inspection visit to the P2 Events Centre in Electricity House as follows:- "Upon inspection, it was apparent that the building was tired and in need of decoration and maintenance generally, but had some specific problems relating to safety. The fire exit doors from the first floor have been secured shut because of a burglary and no longer operated. The exit route across the roof to the external staircase was obstructed with general refuse preventing access. The fire call point adjacent to the exit was damaged causing doubts to whether it was operable fire retardant cabling usually associated with fire alarm installations was hanging from the ceiling along with other electrical wires. Again, this causes doubt as to whether the system is capable of functioning. In the entrance hall, the fire alarm panel has been switched to off on the panel stating "do not switch off", and I suspect that this has been done as it may have kept sounding an alarm due to damage the system elsewhere. None of the emergency lighting showed any charging light and as such were incapable of operating as they should. The owner of the building was informed at the building needed worked to be carried out to it immediately and was not fit for purpose in its current state and there is a risk to public safety and public should not be using it for any purpose. Thirdly, Bexley Council's environmental health department summarised the situation with the building thus - "As there is no evidence that this building is fit for use and the evidence I have seen informs me that there are risks the public safety, I've no alternative but to object to the grant of any licence and I would ask the committee to refuse this application". I don't think the reports could have been any more negative. The building is eighty four years old and at the end of its effective life. The building is not fit for purpose, and has been neglected for several years by its' owners. What do you think about the situation with the building? Let me know by Emailing me at

I have written at some length in the past about DAB radio; I've written about it positive aspects and also its many negative aspects. Just before Christmas there was an international DAB radio conference in Switzerland. This conference addressed many issues relating to DAB radio broadcasting and reception. During the conference, a presentation was made on the green credentials of DAB radio, which boldly claimed that a DAB radio at 50% volume uses 40% less energy than an FM radio. Overall, DAB broadcasting is claimed to use 90% less power than analogue FM with the same coverage area. Personally I find these claims to be somewhat dubious. Has anyone who has run a DAB radio on batteries will know the radios are notoriously power hungry compared with analogue AM and FM receivers. Digital listening now covers 65.8% of all UK radio listening. However, the switchover to all digital is seen by broadcasters and authorities as too risky and will only happen when it benefits the listeners. There is a worry that FM listeners might abandon radio completely if a crossover to DAB was badly managed. A review of this is planned for 2026. It is thought that many UK residents are wary of DAB radio because they think it is very complex compared to a streaming solution such as a smart speaker. This comes at a time when the sale all types of new radio is declining sharply, including those of DAB. Although the sale of smart radios is quite numerically small, this type of radio may turn out to be the one that grows importance over the coming decade. In an opinion poll young people were asked what features they would like in a smart radio and many said they want the functions of a smart speaker included within it. The Swiss broadcasting conference also considered how radio listening might change in the future, by starting with how we listen to radio now and adjusting that for demographic changes. The study estimated that live radio listening would decline from its current share of 72% of all audio listening to around 66% by 2035. However, this calculation assumes that the radio scene stays the way it is and does not take into account any likely changes in listening habits. As new digital platforms come online, the review team assessed scenarios ranging from one where the different age groups continue to use their preferred device to listen to the radio, though to a major change in which the take-up of smart online devices shoots up rapidly, both in the home and in the car, and consumers switch to online services at a much faster pace. The broadcasters main worry about smart speakers is of course that their channels will get lost in a sea of other broadcasters and that listeners lose their connection to them. One of the reviews principal conclusions was that live radio will continue to account for over 50% of the UK audio listening in the mid 2030s, with only around 10% from analogue. That is expected to be just FM by then. Internet radio will be just under 40% and digital TV a low 3%. The review does not see any future for AM radio which now accounts for just 3% of all radio listening (personally I disagree with this, but that is a story for another time). The review recommended that the UK radio industry should begin preparing the ground for a switch off of AM services at some point in the next few years, but it is not set an actual date yet. This comes at a time when there have been many articles in the press about future funding for the BBC and the possible withdrawal of the licence fee in the next few years. Having said all of this, it must also be noted that a major European broadcaster has actually withdrawn their DAB coverage. RTE radio in Ireland has now switched off their DAB transmissions. The closures are part of a major cut across the organisation, including 200 jobs being lost and the closure of its studios in Limerick. RTE explained their decision in a recent press release which reads quote:- "The move to DAB transmission was driven by three main factors. The fact that DAB was the least utilised platform in Ireland that RTE is the only Irish broadcaster on the DAB system and cost avoidance".

Following my article on the mysterious stop to renovation work in Erith Pier Square that I reported last week, I have to thank Erith Councillor Nicola Taylor (Labour) for engaging with Bexley Council to find out exactly what has been happening. Thanks to her investigations, the situation is now clear. The update as to the situation was sent to me early last week, and it reads as follows:- "Riney, the Council’s contractor, were on site up until the Christmas closedown period on Thursday 23rd December. Usually they should have been due back on the 4th January, however, they have not yet returned due to an issue with the procurement of the new granite feature wall which is being transported from overseas, the wall is made up of 50 individual bespoke granite sections. The next phase of the site work is to install the wall and everything else will follow on from that. The current situation is that 21 of the 50 wall sections have already been delivered to Riney’s depot and a further 25 due to arrive this week. That leaves 4 outstanding which Riney are seeking clarification on from the supplier as to when they will be delivered, we are expecting a further update tomorrow. The current plan is to return to site next Monday 24th January once we have some certainty on when these final 4 pieces are due to be delivered. Once the wall has been installed, Riney have committed to increasing resource on site in an attempt to catch up with the programme, however the works are now due to complete at the end of February as opposed to the end of January. In the meantime, Riney have an operative visiting site daily to ensure the site is tidy and that all security fencing and signage remains in place".

Bexley Council have released the following announcement in regards to Erith Riverside Shopping Centre. The piece reads:- "The London Borough of Bexley has welcomed the new leaseholder of the Erith Riverside Shopping Centre, property investment and development company, BYM Capital. Leader of the London Borough of Bexley, Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE said, I’d like to welcome the new long-leaseholders of Erith Riverside Shopping centre, BYM Capital, to the borough. I am looking forward to working with them following their investment and exploring how they plan to contribute to Erith’s ongoing regeneration plans.” Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE joined Cabinet Member for Growth, Cllr Cafer Munur at a meeting with the new owners in November. During the meeting, all parties agreed on the importance of working closely with local businesses and the community. Lucinda Lee-Bapty, COO of BYM Capital said: We are delighted to have joined the community here in Erith. We hope to make further investment in the centre and will be initiating discussions with our tenants as well as local businesses and residents in the coming weeks and months to inform this.” The investment in the Erith Riverside Shopping Centre will build on previous regeneration work funded by the Council and the Mayor of London through their partnership project the Greater Erith Programme. This includes the restoration of the old library building, improvements to the Erith Riverside Gardens, Erith Pier Square and Erith High Street". You can download and view the estate agent's brochure on the shopping centre by clicking here.

I have written in past at some length concerning the problems with smart energy meters. It would seem that my predictions are coming true now. Apart from the previously highlighted issues of smart meters being incompatible between energy suppliers, and also in many cases not being capable of being upgraded, a further issue has recently come to light in respect of their connectivity. The current range of smart meters deployed in the UK rely on 2G and 3G wireless connectivity. As I have previously commented, this type of old connection is not going to be around forever, and almost all of the smart metres currently available in the UK rely on this outdated technology. When I have written about smart metres in the past, the reaction from readers has been marked. Almost to a person, readers are strongly anti smart meter, and those that have had direct experience them, almost to a person regret it. They have had meters break down, then not being able to be replaced by the energy supplier. A couple of readers had reluctantly agreed to have one fitted, only to then find that there was no signal, making the smart functionality useless. The latest issue relates to 2G and 3G mobile phone connections. The technology used in these legacy formats is being phased out. 4G and 5G connectivity are now the norm. Unfortunately smart meters currently available and in production use the older technology and will soon be outdated and will need to be replaced. Whilst it would appear that these meters are supplied free of charge, in fact the charges for them are built into the customers energy bill. Putting smart energy meters into UK homes has cost £11 billion so far. The vastly expensive roll-out of smart energy meters is being described as a 'waste of money' – because the equipment will become obsolete. When they are turned off, the meters will become 'dumb' and be no better than the traditional devices they replaced. Smart meters cannot handle 4G or 5G communication technology. In an article on the “This is Money” website. Alex Henney, a former Government adviser who worked with Secretary of State for Energy, Cecil Parkinson, in the late 1980s on energy privatisation. Henney writes:- “ What is being provided is obsolete equipment at a ludicrously high cost. This troubled roll-out of smart meters is nothing but a total waste of taxpayers' money. The Government does not seem to have given any thought about forcing smart meters on to us without realising they will become obsolete when the mobile signals change. What makes matters worse is that smart meters hit the poorest hardest – as this project is paid for with higher energy bills at a time when energy costs are soaring. These meters create chaos, confusion and cost.' Nick Hunn, technology expert at WiFore Wireless Consulting, agrees that the roll-out is 'a fiasco'. 'Many billions of pounds more will now have to be spent replacing smart meters once they become obsolete in about a decade,' he says. When 2G and 3G is switched off, a communications hub, which is a component typically near the top of a smart meter, will need to be replaced. 'The cost of sending someone out and messing around with the existing equipment means that it is probably going to be cheaper simply replacing the entire smart meter, "Tinkering is not going to be an option once the old 2G and 3G signals are turned off and we switch over to 4G and 5G for our communication needs" he says. 'Remote software updates will not work and you will need someone to visit to provide a replacement.' Mobile network operators such as Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three signed up to phase out 2G and 3G technology by 2033 in a Government-backed 'sunsetting' initiative agreed last December. Whilst 2033 may seem like a long way off, do not be deceived. All of the major telecoms companies wish to phase out 2G and 3G technology far sooner than this, as only a very small number of their customers still use this outdated technology. It costs a lot of money to support and maintain the old equipment, and it also takes up very expensive space which the companies usually rent from third party landlords. The replacement of 2G and 3G mobile technology will happen far more quickly, possibly within the next 3 to 4 years at most. Most. To the telecoms companies, 2G and 3G are a liability that they would like to do away with far sooner than later. As usual, comments and feedback - which will be treated in the strictest confidence - to me at

The photo above - please click on it for a larger version - was taken by me at the Danson Festival back in 2010. As many will know, back in 2013, Bexley Council permanently cancelled further festivals held in Danson Park. Recently, a music promoter proposed to hold a dance music festival in the park. They went as far as booking acts, and preparing publicity material, including posters and updates on social media. The event was designed to attract up to 25,000 visitors to the park over a weekend on the 28th and 29th of May. Bexley Council have chosen to not sign a contract with the organisers of the event which would have given them permission for it to go ahead. I have spoken to several Danson residents,  and they are all quite relieved that the event is not going ahead. The reason for this is a lack of infrastructure and vehicle parking in the area. Additionally, they are concerned about noise, disruption, litter and potential criminality. What is quite interesting is that it would appear that the organisers of the cancelled event had taken money from potential festival goers. I am led to believe that at the time of writing, no refunds have been given to those who booked tickets for the event which is now no longer taking place. I would imagine that public pressure and damage to the organisers reputation would lead them to give full refunds to an event which at no stage had permission to take place. I think that Danson Park needs to be better utilised, but the feelings of local residents need to be fully taken into account. 

The end video this week is an ITV News report on the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge over the River Thames at Dartford. Do give it a watch, and send any comments to me at the usual address -

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