Sunday, September 25, 2022


There have been many occasions in the past when I have written about the scourge of fly tipping. As many readers will recall, I have been involved with the fight against this criminal activity. It is something that never ceases. Last week I was the victim of a criminal fly tipper. On Thursday morning I looked out of my home office window which overlooks my back garden and my parking area to discover that a large object was sitting on my property. Upon investigation, it turned out to be a large six burner range cooker. As you can see in the photo above - click on it for a larger version. I was understandably annoyed by this, but after some investigation I discovered who the culprit was. Suffice to say I was not best pleased. I have now had the old cooker removed for recycling, along with some other objects that were dumped at the same time. My property is now cleared of the fly tipped material. As far as the culprit is concerned, I will be having words. What do you think? Email me at

This week marks the thirty first birthday of the free and open source Linux operating system. I have been using Linux since back in 1997, when it was very much the purview of IT professionals; it was lacking features, incompatible with a lot of hardware (getting online with Linux back in the day was an exercise in frustration – even very common hardware such as the then ubiquitous U.S Robotics 56K modem could be an utter pain to get working). I recall the hours I spent trying to get my Red Hat 5.1 Linux installation to do what it should do. Back then Linux was far more stable than Windows 98SE or Windows ME (oh the horror!) but conversely you had to be a real guru to get things done. I think this is where the negative image of Linux being unsuitable for the desktop came from. Nowadays things are far better – device support is superb – in many cases better than Windows and Linux now “just works”. Very few people ever install a computer operating system from scratch – they buy a machine with a preinstalled OS and it stays on the machine for its life. Tinkerers like me do OS installs on a regular basis. It really is straightforward whether you are talking Windows 11, Ubuntu or MacOS. You just follow the onscreen prompts and it pretty much does it for you. Personally I think that Linux has made far more of an impact in ways that few people realise – Google, FaceBook, Twitter, Gmail and every single one of the 500 most powerful computers in the world all run a version of Linux; it would be true to say that the Internet runs on Linux. If you have a smartphone that is not made by Apple, or a flat screen television, a set top box, whether it be a Sky satellite TV receiver, Virgin cable box or a Freeview receiver, they all run embedded Linux – it is the only operating system that powers devices from a toaster to a supercomputer with everything in between. Android, as used in smart phones and tablets is actually Linux with a whizzy interface suitable for touch operation. You can see from this that whilst Windows has for decades dominated the computer desktop, it has had little influence on the infrastructure and underlying technology of the modern world. As society moves away from large desktop PC’s, (and to a lesser extent away from the traditional laptop) and relies for online connectivity from smart phones and tablet devices, the underlying operating system has less significance than the applications that users wish to run – indeed, many applications are nowadays run online in a browser window – sites such as FaceBook, Instagram, Flickr and Twitter don't require a locally installed application, just a browser with connection to the web. Google grasped this early on with their excellent Google Docs (now called Google Workspace) application suite and its close integration with both Gmail and Google Drive storage. The Google Chromebook range of computers embraces this – they are cheap, relatively low powered laptops that just run a the Chrome web browser and enable cloud based storage.

A local company has been involved in an inquest, following the tragic death of a woman who ate one of their products that formed one of the ingredients in what was meant to be a Vegan wrap. The story has made the national news. You can read about it by clicking here. There is more on the story on the BBC News website here. The company involved in the unfortunate case is Erith based Planet Coconut. Further details of the case can be found by clicking here

Click on the photo above to see a larger view; the new railings outside of the Old Carnegie Library in Walnut Tree Road, Erith have now been fitted. The temporary hoardings that have surrounded the building since the start of refurbishment and conversion work first began have now been removed to reveal the full extent of the work that has been done to the imposing Edwardian civic building. For more details on the library, and The Exchange that now operate it, then click here

Electric scooters are set to be removed from the streets of Kent following safety concerns. The pilot scheme in Canterbury has been terminated after an 80-year-old woman was knocked over by a rider on the pavement. In July, Sarah Carter, 80, a retired university librarian, suffered significant injuries including a broken wrist, cracked jaw and broken cheekbone.She said in an interview with website Kent Live that : "Another elderly person could have quite easily been even more seriously injured or even killed." Kent County Council refused to renew the e-scooter contract with provider Bird, which began in November 2020 and had already been extended twice. Councillor David Brazier, Kent County Council's cabinet member for transport overseeing the trial, said: "I decided to truncate it before someone was seriously hurt." Trials in parts of Greater London continue. In a poll that ran from 11am on Wednesday, September 14, to 4pm on Tuesday, September 20, on the Daily Express website asked readers: "Should e-scooters be banned over safety concerns?" Overall, 3,640 readers cast their votes with the vast majority, 90 percent (3,283 people), answering "yes" e-scooters should be banned over their safety. A further 10 percent (350 people) said "no", they should not be banned, while just seven people said they did not know either way. Comments from readers included the following:- "They should be banned all across the UK. How many more people have to get injured or killed before something is done about them?" Another wrote:- "They are a danger to the riders on the roads and a menace to others on the footpaths. They have no means of identification, no enforcement is in place and no insurance for the injuries they inflict on others. Until these issues are addressed, and there is no sign of that happening, they should be banned." It should be noted that readers of the Express tend to be older and socially conservative, so the poll does not give a representative reflection of the views of the UK as a whole. I have a personal involvement with the whole issue of electric scooters and other electrically powered vehicles that use footpaths as some readers will be aware, back in February I was the victim of a hit and run collision with a an electric scooter. I was hit from behind and knocked flat on the floor whilst the rider made off. I had extensive injuries including cuts and bruises to my face, severe bruising to my chest and left side, and an injury to my left shoulder which is still painful, over seven months later. Nobody was ever charged with the crime. Despite this, you might think that I was going to announce that I was anti electric scooters, but this is not actually the case. I feel that in many cases they can be beneficial both to the rider and to the environment when used for short distances, where otherwise a car or motorbike might be used. In my opinion, the problem is not with the technology, it is with the culture and behaviour of some of the more irresponsible users. I feel that there does need to be some form of licencing registration and insurance that would be compulsory for users of such vehicles. I also feel that technical standards would need to be set, as many of the current electric scooters on sale in the UK have very poor if any safety features built in, and have been known to cause several major fires. This is the reason why such vehicles are now banned by transport for London. Local electric vehicle expert and technology guru Miles said of the enforced end of the Canterbury trial:- "I'm not entirely surprised they've pulled the trial, there's so many videos of poor riding. I'd say they should be required to have something like a compulsory basic training as you do with a Moped - at least that's something. Maybe even enforce a dashcam to be fitted to each scooter, so should a rider be irresponsible they can be fined/prosecuted accordingly. This aside, putting my tin foil hat on I get the impression they were setup to fail. Given the geographic restrictions and issues around 'parking' I can't see it working in the current legal format. I still believe there's a place for scooters. It may simply be they are a zero-emission replacement for motorcycles and mopeds and must be licensed and insured accordingly. This would be a step towards removing some vehicles off the road". What do you think? Email me at

A recent story of an accident has been incorrectly reported in the regional press - specifically the London Evening Standard as having taken place in Erith. In reality the road traffic accident actually occurred in Thamesmead. A schoolboy was trapped for 40 minutes underneath a car after being struck on the school run in Thamesmead. The victim was hit on Alsike Road outside Parkway Primary School at 8.40 am on Friday. He was freed by firefighters and loaded onto a stretcher before being taken to hospital. The boy’s injuries were described “as not life-threatening”. The driver was not arrested, police said. Witness Daniel Stone said in an interview in the Standard: “He was under the car for around 40 minutes before they took him out. The paramedics and fire service pulled him from under the car. They were checking his condition before deciding to move him. He was between the front and rear wheel on the driver’s side, next to the rear wheel. The driver was very upset. She left the scene with some local residents shortly after the boy was taken to hospital.”

The following article is reproduced from the current edition of the Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch bulletin, as it contains information relating to banking, investment and financial security that will likely be of great interest to many readers. It provides advice regarding a number of different kinds of fraudulent activity that people need to be aware of. "Falling victim to a scam can be devastating, both financially and emotionally. Unfortunately, fraudsters are coming up with a growing number of ways to try to part us from our cash as the cost of living soars, and often appear totally credible. Here’s our rundown of some of the different types of scams currently doing the rounds, and what you can do about them. Energy-related scams - The soaring cost of energy bills is prompting fraudsters to expand the types of scams they are using to part victims with their cash. Scammers mentioning the UK’s biggest energy supplier names rose by 10% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022, according to analysis of fraud figures by consumer group Which? It expects the number of energy-related scams to rise as energy bills continue to increase in 2022. Fake refund - Scammers pose as a major supplier and announce on email that you are entitled to a refund on your energy bills because of a “miscalculation.” The latest version saw fraudsters posing as E:on claiming people were entitled to an £85 refund, with a link to enter bank details to get your money. Many who received it weren’t with E:on so this raised red flags, but some were. What you can do:-Check the email display name as scammers as latest fake examples include or Eon Winter Payment. You can always call your energy supplier using the number on its website. Also, check what your most recent bill says, and remember that in current times it’s unfortunately unlikely that you will be due a refund. Your supplier would never contact you to request your bank details, as it already has these for your direct debit payments. Debt collector scam - Fraudsters are taking advantage of customers whose energy suppliers have gone bust over recent years, with debt collector demands claiming they have an outstanding balance on their account. Emails may even be addressed by name, as customer information passes through many channels when a firm goes under, such as energy brokers, new suppliers, and debt collection agencies. Find out more about what happens if your energy supplier goes bust in our article What happens if my energy supplier stops trading? What you can do: - Contact aimed at collecting an outstanding balance or returning credit on your account should only be received several months after your supplier goes out of business. You should never receive a request years later, as has been the case for scammers who targeted Brilliant Energy customers. If you receive a request for a debt you were unaware of from a previous energy supplier you should contact Action Fraud either online or by calling 0300 123 2040. Meter tampering scam - Energy regulator Ofgem warned in May 2022 of claims on social media that you could save money on energy bills by tampering with your meter. A man in Leicester was given a three-year prison sentence in 2018 for tampering with his meter, as this risked causing an explosion and endangering lives. What you can do: If you are worried that a meter has been tampered with, you can make an anonymous call to Stay Energy Safe on 0800 023 2777. Turn off the gas if you smell gas, and open windows and doors, and leave the property. Call National Grid Gas on 0800 111999. -Government rebate scam - Another scam involves fake messages or emails claiming to be from energy regulator Ofgem asking people to apply for the government’s £400 energy rebate. Actually, this will automatically be applied to bills from October, so people don’t need to do anything. What you can do:- Be extremely wary of unsolicited emails, texts and WhatsApp messages claiming to be from energy regulator Ofgem or your supplier. If you receive an email, click on the sender’s name to show the address, and then check this against your supplier’s domain name on its website or previous official emails. Your supplier will never request your bank details, as they have them already for your direct debit, and if you’re in any doubt call your energy supplier about an approach. Energy saving device scam - Fraudsters recently marketed a device called Voltex, Which? Found, on a website, previously marketed under the name Motex. These were for sale on websites, Amazon, and eBay, but none of these passed the Which? Basic safety test, and were at risk of causing fire or electric shocks. There was also no evidence that they would save money. What you can do:- Beware of any extreme claims made by companies marketing ‘energy saving devices’ and look for a CE/UKCA mark to ensure it meets safety standards before using it. If you paid for a useless/dangerous device using a debit or credit card, you may be able to claim a refund using chargeback or Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Pre-payment doorstep scam - Households using pre-payment meters are offered reduced cost energy, according to Action Fraud, by scammers on their doorstep. For example, this may be £50 off an electricity meter top-up if you hand over £25 in cash. However, the scammers use cloned keys to top up energy credit illegally, which leaves you paying for the same amount of energy twice, as your supplier never receives the payment. What you can do:- If someone knocks on your door offering a reduction in your energy bill, politely decline the offer. It’s likely to be a scam, and call your supplier to report the incident (as well as reporting it to Action Fraud – see below). Price comparison phone scam - Many of us are worrying about our energy bills, and would usually be able to fix our tariff to provide security and reduce costs. However, there are currently no open market fixes on the market that are worth switching to, unless you’re willing to pay a fortune for price certainty. Even so, scammers are calling people saying they are from a well-known price comparison site that’s offering a special offer for a limited number of customers. They’ll stress that you must switch now to secure the deal. What you can do:- Unless you’ve requested a call back, a price comparison site shouldn’t cold call you. Never hand over any of your personal details if you receive a call like this, and refuse to engage in conversation. Green home improvement grants scam - Scammers have been known to impersonate government schemes that offer energy-efficient grants and initiatives, such as the Green Homes Grant from 2020 to 2021. Be very wary of tradesmen claiming to install such measures, and wanting your personal details. What you can do:- Don’t sign up to anything off the back of a cold call or approach from a tradesman. Look into legitimate schemes, do your research, and get several quotes. You can use Which? Trusted Traders, for example, to find trustworthy tradesmen nearby. Residents are reminded of Bexley's What Tradesman Scheme where, all the traders are local and have been vetted by Trading Standards. Investment/ financial scams - Always be very wary if you’re contacted about a financial opportunity or investment that looks too good to be true – here are some to look out for. Scam HMRC text message promising cash - One scam text message currently circulating claims to be from HMRC and says the taxman is issuing you with a tax refund. It then asks you to tap a link so that you can claim the payment. To do this, you must enter your banking details, which are then used to steal money from you. What you can do:- Never click on any link, even if it looks authentic, or give out your bank details if requested by an email or text message. Instead, contact the organisation involved directly and see whether they have contacted you. You can report suspected phishing or spam texts to your mobile network provider by forwarding them to 7726 (these are the numbers on your telephone keypad that spell out the word ‘SPAM’). Make sure you’ve installed the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats too. ‘Suspicious activity on your account’ scam - You get a call or text message from someone pretending to be from your bank telling you there’s been some suspicious activity on your account, which they will tell you has been frozen. They will ask for your banking details supposedly to confirm your identity and resolve the problem, but, use these to steal from you. What you can do:- Banks will never ask you for your PIN number or your online banking passwords, nor will they ask you to email or text your banking details, so hang up immediately if someone asks you for this information. If you want to check whether it really is your bank contacting you, end the call and telephone your bank from another phone number, as sometimes scammers will stay on the line, so that when you redial what you think is your bank, they reconnect with you. ‘Payment attempted’ scam - You receive a text message or call supposedly from your bank telling you that a payment was attempted from your account to a new payee. The message says that if it wasn’t you, you should click on the link shown. This will take you to a fake website where you’ll be asked to confirm your banking details. This information will be used to steal money from your bank account. What you can do:- Never click on any link that is texted to you without first checking directly with your bank whether it’s authentic, and remember, that your bank won’t ever get in touch asking for your bank details or passwords. Forward any suspicious or unsolicited texts to your network operator on 7726, so you’ll no longer receive texts from that number. Ghost broking scam - You receive an email inviting you to buy car insurance, or spot an advert for competitive cover posted on social media, from a well-known insurance brand. Scammers will either forge insurance documents to persuade you the cover is genuine, or they will actually take out a real policy for you but then cancel it straight afterwards, pocketing your premium. Victims often don’t realise they are without cover until they need to make a claim or are stopped by the police. What you can do:- If you’re offered an insurance deal that seems too good to be true, then it probably is and you should steer clear. If you are not sure whether the broker is legitimate or not, check on the Financial Conduct Authority or the British Insurance Brokers’ Association website for a list of all authorised insurance brokers. If in doubt, you can also get in touch with the insurance company directly to verify the broker’s details. If you think that you have been a victim of a ghost broker, you can report your concerns to Action Fraud at or on 0300 123 2040. Pension review scam: - You’re contacted and offered a free pension review. This may be via text, email or you could spot a fake online advert. If you provide your details, you may receive a call or visit from a fraudster claiming to offer financial advice, who will recommend that you move your money into another scheme, or fake investments. What you can do:- If someone contact you offering a pension review, ignore their approach. Keep your pension information to yourself, and don’t share details with anyone you don’t know. If you’re aged 50 or over, you can also speak with Pension Wise on the phone, another government supported resource who offer free and impartial guidance about your pension options. Find out more about scams involving your retirement savings in our article Don’t let scammers steal your retirement. Early access to your pension - Scammers tell you that you’re free to access your retirement savings before the age of 55, but if you do this, you’ll not only have to pay a hefty tax charge, at least 55% but sometimes as much as 70% of your pension pot, but you’ll also have fees taken from your pension for the transfer, which can be 20% or more of your pension savings. What you can do: Remember that 55 is the earliest age you can take your pension benefits. If you have a regulated financial adviser, speak with them in the first instance if you need help with your pension or are wondering if you should access your retirement savings. If you don’t have an adviser, the government-supported Pensions Advisory Service provides free independent and impartial information and guidance. Loan fee fraud - Loan fee fraud is an increasingly common scam which is reported to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), with people losing £220 each on average. The ‘loan provider’ will tell you that your loan is approved and then ask you to pay an upfront fee before the loan amount can be released. They then take the payment but never provide you with the loan. What you can do:-  Always be wary of unsolicited approaches about loans and don’t click on links offering them. It’s also highly unusual to be asked to make a payment to a lender, before you’ve been given a loan. If you’re considering taking out a loan from a company you’ve never heard of, check the FCA Register to see if the company you’re dealing with is authorised and stay well clear if it’s not".

The end video this week features drone footage taken over the River Thames by Erith Yacht Club. Comments and other feedback as always to me at

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