I have for a very long time been of the opinion that there is little point in having a rule or law if it is not going to be enforced or invigilated. This could be said to be no more true when it comes to members of the public smoking in Erith Riverside Shopping Centre. Despite prominent and profuse “No Smoking” signs, people continue to ignore them and smoke like chimneys; during the week, I was walking past the Mambocino coffee shop / cafe when I saw a couple sitting at one of the outside tables; both were puffing away, directly under a sign banning that very activity. Not only are there signs on the walls, but the cafe’s tables have signs fixed to their table tops – it would be virtually impossible not to see them. I am , and always have been a personal libertarian. My view is that a person should be able to do pretty much as they wish, providing it causes no harm or distress to others. I do feel that those smokers in the shopping centre are being selfish and arrogant, but at the same time, nobody ever stops them – not the shop owners or the security guard, who is a lot less evident than he used to be. If the rules are not being enforced, then what is the point of the rules in the first place? One could argue that the smoking ban should be self enforcing, but when one considers some of the people who flout it, one might well be under the impression that breaking a smoking ban was the least offence they were guilty of.
Almost £150,000 has been lost by people attempting to buy e-scooters that are never delivered. Despite a ban on the electric scooters in public places their rise in popularity is leading to growing numbers of bogus sales, according to charity Action Fraud. Victims reporting suspected scams to the National Cyber Security Centre say they are being caught out ordering from bogus companies selling e-scooters on fake websites only to find the order never arrives and when they return to the website they bought from they find it has disappeared or been shut down. Officers have also received numerous reports of individual sellers offering e-scooters for sale via online market places and social media platforms, taking payment, and then failing to deliver the scooter once the money has been sent. Owning or trying to buy an e-scooter is not illegal. However, unless you're living in an area where a government backed trial of the up and coming mode of transport is taking place then riding them on public roads, pavements, in cycle lanes and in pedestrian-only areas currently remains illegal. Those caught breaking the law could face a fine or points on their driving licence while police can also seize the scooter. Despite the restrictions on where they can be used the popularity of electric scooters has continued to increase with more and more people buying them, which you are allowed to use on your own private land. Since the start of 2021 Action Fraud estimates that over £145,000 has been lost by unsuspecting victims trying to buy themselves new wheels and more than 350 reports have been compiled where people have been caught out by a scam sale. Those wishing to shop for a scooter, says Action Fraud, should exercise the same caution as they might for any other online purchase. This includes using a credit card if you have one when it comes to paying for items or using an online payment provider such as PayPal which can offer additional security and protection. Although use of an electric scooter in public is still illegal, I have heard that the Home Office is currently investigating ways to legalise the vehicles; I understand that the requirements will be roughly similar to those currently employed on riders of 50cc mopeds and scooters, though this may well change before anything comes into law. Coincidentally, a story which somewhat runs counter to this is that an electric scooter user in Woolwich got a huge fine recently. A 20 year old from Woolwich Common was stopped by police on Woolwich New Road shortly before 9am on June 14th, 2021. He was found to be riding without insurance, in breach of the Road Traffic Act. Bromley Magistrates' Court found him guilty on January 12th, 2022. He was fined an initial £660 for the offences, plus a victim’s surcharge of £66 and costs of £100, while six points were placed on his driving licence. The court gave him until February 8th to pay the fine.
The News Shopper published a story this week that I feel is somewhat unfair and one sided. The article started with the following statement:- "Residents in one of the most deprived areas of Bexley are heading for budget shops and cutting out takeaways to make ends meet. The cost of living crunch is looming and people living in Erith are being forced to make drastic changes to eke out the cash in their pockets. They are facing rising energy bills, inflation and food prices going up. Erith is ranked as one of the most deprived areas in the borough of Bexley, according to 2019 Government data". This may be true to a point, but it neglects the fact that Erith is an extremely diverse town, not just it its ethnic makeup, but also financially. Yes, unfortunately there are a number of people who are at the lower end of the income range, but there are also people who are substantially more financially comfortable - one only has to look at roads such as Park Crescent and Lesney Park Road - what I have only half jokingly referred to in the past as "The Beverly Hills of Erith" to see that the town is home to a great many people with diverse backgrounds. You can read the full News Shopper article by clicking here.
It is feared that poorer people will be hit the hardest.News reaches me from a Maggot Sandwich reader in China, that the Chinese authorities have taken such a dislike to my online meanderings that they have banned my Blog, and blocked access to the site via "The Great Firewall of China". Quite why they have done this eludes me; how they even came across it is also a mystery to me. I don’t recall ever writing anything that could be construed as subversive or critical of the Chinese regime – as far as I can recall I have not even posted a negative review of a local Chinese restaurant! To be honest, I am treating it as a left handed compliment; that some faceless civil servant in the Ministry of censorship (or whatever the department responsible is called) can consider the rambling thoughts of a bloke in a small and not very well known South East London suburb could affect the stability of the totalitarian Chinese regime is patently ridiculous; I get the feeling that China’s web censors have got rather too much time on their hands. I wonder if I would get arrested if I ever went to China? This is highly unlikely as I don’t own a passport, and in any case I detest travel.
The end video this week is a documentary that was originally broadcast on BBC4. It tells the story of the musical instrument and amplifier manufacturer Vox, who many believe powered and enabled the musical boom of the 1960's and onward. The documentary concentrates on the Vox factory in Dartford, but as regular readers will be aware, the company also had a substantial factory and offices in West Street, Erith. Do give the film a watch, and send any comments to email@example.com.