Sunday, August 07, 2022


I took the photo above on Wednesday morning as I made my way to Erith railway station; the newly created mural is located on the wall of the underpass beneath the bridge at Bronze Age Way, on the approach to the station. I think the mural is wonderful - it really adds to what is otherwise a somewhat bland and characterless area. It reminds me of a similar mural outside of Plumstead railway station, which has been in place for several years. I wonder if it is by the same graphic artist? It is actually by a group called Youth Unity - their manifesto is as follows:- "Youth Unity has developed a strategy, in which we deliver projects that bring different groups together to build a more cohesive and consistent grass roots approach, to tackling issues that affect young people and the community that they live in. We work with young people between the ages 8 to 25, including African Caribbean, LGBT and young people with learning disabilities. We focus on the wellbeing and mindfulness in youth and focus on encouraging young people to live a healthy and enriched lifestyle by offering mentoring, training and work experience. By doing so, this can enable them to become more productive, positive and, motivated to contribute positively, towards their families and local communities". Further details of their excellent work are as follows:- "Youth Unity CIC is a “not for profit” organisation established to provide effective help and support to vulnerable young people and adults affected by group violence (gangs), drugs and other forms of exploitation such as human trafficking, CSE and extremism. We work in collaboration with statutory organisations, commissioned services and charities to provide a more cohesive approach to providing solutions. We offer mentoring, workshops and training for young people and professionals. Our focus is Early Intervention and Early Identification of those ‘at risk’ from Gangs, Serious Youth Violence, Criminal Exploitation and associated vulnerability strands. Our principal is to offer bespoke and traditional approaches to help and assist in challenging the current trends that contribute towards many of the issues that young people are facing in today’s society. Our mission is to help Prevent | Prepare | Protect for a future that is founded on more available choices and better-informed decisions. A formula we believe can offer an individual a greater start in life. Youth Unity develop and deliver projects that bring different groups together to build a more cohesive and consistent grass roots approach to tackling issues that affect young people and the community that they live in.  We have developed a strategy, in which we deliver projects that bring different groups together to build a more cohesive and consistent grass roots approach, to tackling issues that affect young people and the community that they live in. We focus on the wellbeing and mindfulness in youth and focus on encouraging young people to live a healthy and enriched lifestyle by offering mentoring, training and work experience. By doing so, this can enable them to become more productive, positive and, motivated to contribute positively, towards their families and local communities". I just hope that no local scumbag defaces the excellent mural, which certainly improves the local area. Please contact me at the usual address -

Following the recent heatwave, and the spate of fires that resulted, Bexley Fire Brigade have issued the following report:- "Bexley Fire Brigade Update - From Jim Morford, Borough Commander for Bexley, London Fire Brigade. Over the last month, firefighters in Bexley have attended 148 fires, for the same period last year our firefighters attended 38 fires. The increase has been driven by the exceptionally dry and hot weather we have been experiencing recently. The summer is usually a busy period for us with grass / scrubland fires but barely a day has gone by this year where we haven’t had a multi-fire engine attendance required to tackle growing fires which as you have seen on the news are demonstrating how devastating fire can be by spreading to homes and businesses. On the hottest day of the year, we had a fire in Erith which required 20 fire engines to tackle it in Erith, starting in grass it quickly spread to commercial units which destroyed a unit used by a local business. Firefighters were able to halt the spread which meant the business was still able to trade and other businesses were not affected. Post fire we are setting up a working group to work with other agencies to try and stop something similar to this happening again, this fire was aided by fly-tipping which added to the fire loading and providing fuel in the form of tyres and fridges amongst other items. A change in wind direction and I may be writing about houses being affected by fire rather than commercial units so its vitally important we try to stop these fires from happening in the first place. If you see fly-tipped rubbish I would urge you to report it to the Council. In an attempt to try and stop these fires you may have seen the London Fire Brigade have lobbied for the ban on the sale of disposable barbeques, these as well as careless discarding of cigarettes has been the main reasons for the wildfires we have seen recently. Unfortunately, as much as we try to explain the dangers of these barbeques people still don’t listen or are blissfully unaware of the dangers they pose. Just a couple of days after the fires in East London, Dartford, and Erith, which were all over social media and major news outlets our colleagues in Waltham forest found some young people setting up a disposable barbeque amongst tinder-dry grass on Wanstead flats, these people were given some advice very quickly and thought better and had their food elsewhere. Wanstead Flats in case you didn’t know has been the scene of some of London’s biggest grass / scrubland fires over the years where we have needed as many as 40 fire engines to tackle fires there. As we have been working over the summer so far we have been captured on social media whilst bringing fires under control, where we can we have been retweeting these. You can follow us on twitter @bexleyfire and find out more about what your fire crews have been doing. Even though fires have kept us busy we have still been carrying out community safety work, and attending other incidents such as road traffic accidents and chemical leaks so please follow us and find out more".

Following a number of traffic accidents and near misses in Bexleyheath Broadway recently, the debate about the policy of shared space planning has re-emerged since it last made local headlines back in 2017. Much has been written about Bexley Council and their policy of installing "Shared Space" street furniture, and paying contractors to redesign areas including Sidcup High Street and Bexleyheath Broadway to blur the distinction between the road and the pavement; the idea being that bother drivers and pedestrians will proceed more cautiously when they are unsure of what is road and what is actually pavement. The origin of term is generally linked with the work of Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman, who pioneered the method in the Dutch province of Friesland. Prior to the adoption of the term, street design projects carried out in ChambĂ©ry, France, by Michel Deronzier from the 1980s used the term "pedestrian priority".found that some of the claims made for shared space schemes were not justified by the evidence—particularly the claims that pedestrians are able to follow desire lines, and that shared space reduces traffic speeds. Their primary research in Ashford, Kent, suggested that in streets with high volumes of traffic, pedestrians are more likely to give way to vehicles than vice versa. Most people, but particularly women and older people, found the shared space intimidating and preferred the previous layout with conventional crossings. A study by space planning academics Hammond and Musselwhite using a case study of Widemarsh Street in Hereford found that if traffic volume was relatively low and speeds of vehicles slow anyway then vulnerable road users found it easier to share the area with vehicles, including those blind or partially sighted and older people with mobility impairments. There are wide-ranging reservations about the practicality of the shared space philosophy. In a 2006 report from the Associated Press, it was commented that traditionalists in town planning departments say the schemes rob the motorists of vital information, and reported that a spokesman for Royal National Institute of Blind People criticised the removal of familiar features such as railings, kerbs, and barriers. Shared space is bitterly opposed by many organisations representing blind, partially sighted and deaf people. Some of their members avoid shared space areas entirely. Shared surfaces, which are generally used in shared space schemes, can cause concern for the blind and partially sighted who cannot visually negotiate their way with other road users, as the lack of separation implicit in these features has also removed their safe space. The UK's Guide Dogs for the Blind Association's "Say No to Shared Streets" campaign has the support of more than thirty other disability organisations. There have been similar concerns raised by other groups representing some of the more vulnerable members of society, including Leonard Cheshire Disability, Action on Hearing Loss, and Mencap, who have noted problems when negotiating a route with motor vehicle users, leading them to challenge its fundamental premise. Lord Holmes' 2015 report Accidents by Design found that sixty-three per cent of respondents reported a negative experience of shared space, and thirty-five per cent said they actively avoided it. Lord Holmes attacked the concept as a recipe for "confusion, chaos and catastrophe". What do you think? Email me at

Here is the next in my occasional series of "then and now" local photographs. The upper photo shows the view looking West along Pier Road, showing the building known locally as "Bank Chambers". The black and white shot was taken in 1965, just before the original Erith Town Centre was destroyed - an event that many locals consider ruined the town to the point that only now, over fifty years later is it recovering. On the left is what in 1965 was Clarke's coal office, which was built in 1900; it was originally designed as the Erith branch of the London and Provincial Bank. Soon it was taken over by Charles H. Norris - sand and ballast merchants, and also Herbert W. Clarke and Co., barge and tug owner / operators. It is also interesting to note that all of the cars in the photo are of British origin - An Austin Mini, A Morris Minor 1000 and a couple of Austin 1800 "Land Crabs". In the upper photograph you can also see the now long gone Erith Methodist Church. It was replaced with the Erith Small Business Centre, which consisted of twenty five small office spaces and a few light manufacturing units, one of which contained a small company teaching ceramics and pottery production. That was demolished in the late 1990's and has been replaced with the block of flats you can clearly see in the lower photograph, which also contains the Energie Fitness gym. Actually, the more observant of you will notice that the recent photo above is actually a couple of years old, as the block of flats and gym are still currently covered in scaffolding. A resident of the block told me that works to remove the fire hazardous cladding on the building might not be completed until late November - over eighteen months since it originally started. 

The UK's Home Office and Ministry of Justice want migrants with criminal convictions to scan their faces up to five times a day using a smartwatch kitted out with facial-recognition software. Plans for wrist-worn face-scanning devices were discussed in a data protection impact assessment report from the Home Office. Officials called for "daily monitoring of individuals subject to immigration control," according to The Guardian this week, and suggested any such entrants to the UK should wear fitted ankle tags or smartwatches at all times. In May, the British government awarded a contract worth £6 million to Buddi Limited, makers of a wristband used to monitor older folks at risk of falling. Buddi appears to be tasked with developing a device capable of taking images of migrants to be sent to law enforcement to scan. Location data will also be beamed back. Up to five images will be sent every day, allowing officials to track known criminals' whereabouts. Only foreign-national offenders, who have been convicted of a criminal offence, will be targeted, it is claimed. The data will be shared with the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office, it's said. In an interview with technology website, The Register, Monish Bhatia, a lecturer in criminology at Birkbeck, University of London. said "The Home Office is still not clear how long individuals will remain on monitoring. They have not provided any evidence to show why electronic monitoring is necessary or demonstrated that tags make individuals comply with immigration rules better. What we need is humane, non-degrading, community-based solutions."

If you follow the excellent "Bexley is Bonkers" website by Malcolm Knight, you will already have seen the photo above - click on it to see a larger version. I took the photo last Saturday, whilst I was in Bexleyheath. The large number of police officers were present whilst a demonstration and counter demonstration took place outside of Bexleyheath Library. The protest was organised by members of far right neo Nazi group Patriotic Alternative. They were demonstrating against a visit by a drag queen, who was to read stories to a group of small children. Drag Queen Story Hour UK is a touring show that aims to “engage your child's creativity and love for reading stories by giving them brand-new positive experiences, one page at a time. All the while, learning and communicating." A large police presence was also seen outside of the Central Library in Bexleyheath following the arrival of the protest. Onlookers reported that the Patriotic Alternative protesters were shouting at families as they entered the library for the book reading. Patriotic Alternative promotes a white nationalist ideology and aims to combat the "replacement and displacement" of white British people by migrants who "have no right to these lands". They support deportation of people of "migrant descent", and would offer financially-incentivised repatriation for "those of immigrant descent who have obtained British passports". Patriotic Alternative opposes all immigration unless one has a shared cultural and ethnic background or who can prove British ancestry. According to Hope Not Hate, members of Patriotic Alternative have supported Holocaust denial, political violence and the white genocide conspiracy theory. They have targeted the LGBT community as being a danger to young children. Patriotic Alternative opposes Black Lives Matter and have displayed White Lives Matter banners around the UK. Patriotic Alternative was founded in July 2019 by the British neo-Nazi and antisemitic conspiracy theorist Mark Collett, the former director of publicity of the British National Party. The Times reported in October 2021 that Mark Collett attended combat training with former members of the now-proscribed neo-Nazi organisation National Action. The investigation also revealed that Kris Kearns, who leads Patriotic Alternative's "Fitness Club" initiative, was active in National Action before the group was banned. Sam Melia, a regional organiser for Patriotic Alternative, has previously been affiliated with National Action.

The end video this week features a historical tragic incident from back in 1951. At the time it was the worst road traffic accident in British history, the tragedy took place on a dark and misty December night in Chatham. Please send any comments to me at

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