Sunday, January 22, 2023


A reader recently pointed out to me that Atrium Court, the block containing Energie Fitness Gym, the new Erith Library and apartments, located in Erith High Street has now had scaffolding surrounding it whilst cladding has been removed from the outside for longer than it did when it was originally being built! It is now over two years since the scaffolding was originally installed and seemingly little activity has occurred in the last few months. I have heard several local residents call the scaffolding clad building an eyesore and an embarrassment to the area. Quite why the removal of the cladding - which I understand was deemed to be similar to that which covered the ill fated Grenfell Tower, and as such, a fire risk, has taken so long to remove is unclear. A reader contacted me with a response she had received from Erith Councillor Nicola Taylor on the subject of the ongoing scaffolding on Atrium Court. This was Nicola's detailed response:- "The flats above the library/gym etc are managed by Hexagon Housing. Following investigations it was found that the buildings contained cladding that could present a danger to residents and did not meet the new required standards. As part of the removal works Hexagon also took the opportunity to undertake a number of other maintenance and improvement measures which meant it became a major project. I have been in touch with Hexagon and they provide regular updates to their residents who as you can imagine have been severely impacted by the works. But I understand that information has not been spread to the rest of the community which I will try to rectify via my social media and I will ask Hexagon to push out more information on this. The scaffolding was due to be removed at the end of 2022 with completion of large parts of the works but there have been a series of delays which has pushed the project back and back. I don't think Hexagon or their contractors envisaged it would take this long although it was a sizeable project. I have an online call scheduled with the project manager for the start of next month so I hope to get an update on what is still left to be done but they did promise me a written update before that, so I will chase. The works has not only impacted the residents but has also impacted our library, which has suffered continued leaks every time there is a lot of rain fall and I am finding it slightly harder to get updates but I will continue to press for progress". I have subsequently spoken to Councillor Taylor at some length regarding this, and several other local issues. More on this later in the update.

Following my article last week in the activities of Belvedere Police in busting a large drugs factory in Nuxley Road, Upper Belvedere, there has been some discussion on Facebook regarding the nomenclature of the area. Some misinformed people are convinced the area is called Nuxley Village - and one even uses the fact the error is repeated on the Wikipedia entry for Belvedere as evidence to support their case. The fact that anyone can edit Wikipedia pages with any sort of rubbish seems to escape them - it is the same as "I read it in the paper - therefore it must be true". I have written about this subject before, and for the sake of clarity will now do so again. A lot of people, some long – time local residents included, call Nuxley Road in Upper Belvedere “Nuxley Village” – even though no such place has ever existed since the beginning of recorded time. At a stretch the area can be called Belvedere Village - as per the sign in the photograph above - click on it to see a larger image. The origin of the names of the  places in the local area, and some of the surrounding landmarks dates back to the early fifteenth century, and the name Belvedere even earlier. The area of Bedonwell gets its name from the Bedon stream, which runs through what is now known as Streamway; the Bedon is a minor tributary of the River Thames, which is now run through an underground drain for much of its length. A fifteenth century form of the name was Beton Well, meaning “praying well”. The exact origin is lost in the mists of time, though the old English word “bydan” meaning a shallow valley may have something to do with it. On the South side of the stream was a further area of open heath land, called Nuxley or Little Heath, which occupied an area around what was later Bedonwell Primary School (and is now a Doctor’s surgery and private flats). The name Nuxley was sometimes spelled Naxley, which in turn is a corruption of Knocksley, meaning a small hill. Nuxley Road was originally named Bexley Road, until March 1939 when it was renamed as Nuxley Road, which it remains to date. There is no record of Upper Belvedere ever having been named Nuxley Village, and parish records for the area date back to 1235 AD, and survived the reformation, when ownership of the parish was transferred from Lesnes Abbey to the owners of Parsonage Farm (on what is now Parsonage Manor Way). During the late 19th century, Parsonage Farm was owned by the Vinson family, who were at the time rich and powerful enough to issue their own trade tokens (a kind of informal local currency). There are records that beer houses such as the Fox, and full pubs such as the Eardley Arms took trade tokens for payment for food and drink until sometime around 1900. The farm buildings, which were  constructed in the Middle Ages (principally to provide food and drink for Abbot and Monks at Lesnes Abbey) lasted until the end of WWII, when it was used to house an auxiliary fire station. After the war the building was so derelict it was demolished. Thus, the name “Nuxley Village” is a construct – a fictional creation of non - local estate agents who have no knowledge of the history of the area. Upper Belvedere has been so called for at least the last 788 years, and the thoughtless action of a handful of ignorant house peddlers is not going to change facts any time soon. 

Information has now come to light regarding the delays to the work to improve Erith Riverside Gardens; more on this again from Councillor Nicola Taylor:- "The project to revamp the gardens has been severely impacted by a number of issues, firstly the delays on the Pier Square project, then tendering issues and now the tenders are coming in much higher than the funds allocated which has meant review of the original plans.  I have met with the regeneration team many times and we have reached a part consensus on plans but there are still things that need to be sorted such as funding for the new play area. You may have seen that there is currently road works in front of the gardens, this is to change the parking and pedestrian layout in preparation for the rest of the redesign works. As this was scheduled and the supplies ordered it was agreed that this would go ahead. This has been slightly impacted by the weather issues before Christmas but should be on track for completion this quarter". Councillor Taylor also had news in respect of the exodus of businesses from Erith Riverside Shopping Centre, as I have featured recently. She wrote:- "I have had several phone and online calls with the current owners of the shopping centre BYM. Since they took over the shopping centre they have been working towards changing the centre with the view to maximise their investment. As part of this they have plans for some development at the centre but in the main the existing shopping centre will remain. As you can imagine with the flats above the shopping centre there was fear of redevelopment but I now have reassurance that all the flats will remain and much of the existing centre. BYM say they are committed to building a thriving shopping centre and as part of our continuing conversations I have a face to face meeting scheduled with them later this month so that we can go through plans and next steps. I am keen that whilst they seek to find new tenants for the centre that they fix a number of maintenance issues such as the leaking roof and the broken floor tiles etc. With regard to the existing and new tenants I have added information below. Wilkinsons - Before they closed I wrote to Wilkinsons to implore them to stay. Like many residents I saw the store as core to the centre and drew many people to the area. Sadly negotiations on rent between BYM and Wilkos could not be resolved and they were unable to reach an agreement on the cost of the new contract period. Wilko had made plans to close a number of stores across the country and the need for a renewed lease sadly accelerated the closure of the store. I was assured that there was a major high street retailer interested in the vacant unit but that does not seem to have materialised and I continue to push BYM on what they are doing to attract new tenants. I hope to get an update when I next meet with centre management. Mean while uses for vacant lots - I have been working with centre management on what is called "meanwhile" use. This is where the centre will allow pop up shops on a temporary basis sometimes for a low rent so that the lots are not vacant and it gives new businesses a chance to test their business model. There are a few businesses that are currently pitching for this so I cannot reveal more details but I will continue to push for meanwhile use whilst we wait for more permanent businesses. You many have seen that there was a pop up cinema in the old Argos unit, run by the Erith Town Partnership over the Christmas period. The partnership worked hard to get this set up and it was very successful. I would imagine that we may see more activities based in this successful venture. More details to follow. Meeting with centre management - As I mentioned I am due to meet with centre management this month where we will discussing future plans, meanwhile uses, tenant issues and maintenance. I am hoping that following that meeting we will be able to issue a statement explaining what is in progress".

The following article is a piece of informal consumer advice. Last July I visited Specsavers in Bexleyheath for a routine eye test, and was informed that I now needed both reading glasses and distance glasses. I played a total of £502 for 2 pairs of spectacles. When I went to collect them, the distance glasses - which you can see in the photo above - were broken. When the eye care assistant opened the case in the shop, the left lens had a large chunk broken off it before I even tried the glasses on. I complained and the glasses were returned to the factory to be repaired. I waited a month for the glasses to then come back to Specsavers at Bexleyheath. The replacement lens looked excellent and I took them home with me. Over the next two weeks. I felt increasingly dizzy and was getting headaches. It seemed to me that there was something wrong with the new distance glasses. I returned to Specsavers where the staff discovered that the replacement of the broken left lens was of a completely wrong prescription and it was a miracle I could see anything at all. The glasses were returned to the factory for a second time. When they eventually returned another month later, they initially seemed fine. Over a period of time I was finding that I could not focus correctly and was feeling slightly disoriented when I wore them. Yesterday I returned to Specsavers again and had a fresh eye test, as I suspected the eye test itself might well be at fault. The optician retested my eyes and was quite surprised as the results were markedly different from my previous test only a few months ago; it was eventually discovered that my original test was incorrect, and apart from the manufacturing errors, the vision prescription itself was erroneous. It would appear that everything that could go wrong did go wrong! To the credit of Specsavers. They have refunded me the cost of the spectacles and are replacing them with a new pair from scratch and have not charged me for the new eye test. I don't know what you make of this, but personally my confidence in Specsavers has been greatly diminished. What do you think? Email me with any comments to

The head of the Police in Bexley has recently published his response to the recent prosecution for multiple rapes by a serving Metropolitan Police officer. Chief Inspector Russ Joao writes:- "I am writing to you today to ensure our condemnation of the appalling criminality of David Carrick, one of the most serious cases in the Met’s history, is as clear to you as it can be. I also want to explain how the Met is changing to ensure patterns of abusive and exploitative behaviour like his, cannot go unchecked again. David Carrick, a police officer with our Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection command, appeared at Southwark Crown Court today and entered guilty pleas to false imprisonment, indecent assault and four counts of rape. At a previous hearing at the Old Bailey on Tuesday, 13 December he had pleaded guilty to 43 offences including 20 counts of rape, and further counts of controlling and coercive behaviour and sexual assault. He was remanded in custody and will be sentenced at a hearing to take place at Southwark Crown Court beginning on Monday, 6 February. Assistant Commissioner Barbara Gray, the Met’s lead for Professionalism, said: “On behalf of the Metropolitan Police, I want to apologise to the women who have suffered at the hands of David Carrick. I commend their outstanding bravery in coming forward and reporting the horrific crimes they were victims of. “Carrick is a prolific, serial sex offender who preyed on women over a period of many years, abusing his position as a police officer and committing the most horrific, degrading crimes. He has devastated women’s lives. He has had a devastating impact on the trust and confidence of women and girls that we are working so hard to earn. He has devastated colleagues.” AC Gray added that Carrick had used the fact he was a police officer to control and coerce his victims and that they felt unable to come forward sooner because he told them they would not be believed. She also stated that the Met should have spotted his pattern of abusive behaviour and missed opportunities to remove him from the organisation. After Carrick was charged with rape in October 2021, the Met began a thorough review of his service, his conduct and complaints record, any occasions on which he had come to the notice of the police and his vetting. It was established that he was on police systems in relation to a number of off duty incidents both before and after his employment as a police officer. These incidents were in the Met’s force area and in those of other forces. With the exception of his arrest in October 2021, none of these incidents resulted in any criminal sanction at the time. However, when the overall case history is examined now in detail, it reveals a pattern of behaviour that should have raised concerns regardless of the outcome of individual incidents. Further details of all the allegations against Carrick and his employment history can be found on our website. AC Gray added: “The duration and nature of Carrick’s offending is unprecedented in policing. But regrettably he is not the only Met officer to have been charged with serious sexual offences in the recent past.  Our work to identify and rid the Met of corrupt officers is determined and focussed. “As the Commissioner has said, we will continue to be relentless in our pursuit of those who are engaged in corrupt or criminal behaviour using all the available tactics and techniques at our disposal.” How we are strengthening our anti-corruption systems: Following the recent report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services and the interim findings of the Baroness Casey review, the Met has invested millions of pounds and brought in over 400 additional officers and staff to identify and investigate offenders within the police service. This work includes the following new steps. A dedicated Domestic Abuse and Sexual Offending investigation team has been set up with over 50 experienced investigators targeting any officer or staff member who may be engaged in domestic abuse or sexual offences. All current officers and staff who have previously been the subject of allegations of sexual offending or domestic abuse, where allegations couldn’t be proven and were not subject of misconduct hearings, are subject to an ongoing review. A new Anti-Corruption and Abuse Command is proactively investigating and identifying officers and staff who abuse their positions of trust whether on duty or off duty, in person or online. Significant investment in intelligence capabilities and in the skills of specialist investigators. A thorough audit of national police databases, to identify intelligence and information about officers and staff that may not be known by the organisation, is under way. An internal appeal is asking Met officers and staff to report corruption and abuse and for the first time in policing, an anti-corruption and abuse hotline has been launched, in partnership with Crimestoppers, where the public can anonymously report Met officers and staff who abuse their positions of power and trust. We know that we have much work to do in order to earn the trust lost through the actions of officers like David Carrick. Work to raise standards and improve the culture of the Met are a key part of the Commissioner’s Turnaround Plan which he launched last week and which will be published in the coming days. We are determined to create a Met that can deliver More Trust, Less Crime and High Standards for London. Kind regards - Chief Inspector Russ Joao. Chief Inspector | Neighbourhoods | SE BCU".

Last week marked the fortieth anniversary of the start of breakfast television in the UK. Breakfast Time was British television's first national breakfast television programme, broadcast from 17 January 1983 until 29 September 1989 on BBC 1 across the United Kingdom and was a mix of hard news with accessible features, creating a cosy feel, with sofas and bright colours. Frank Bough, Selina Scott and Nick Ross anchored the show, with regulars such as Russell Grant (astrology) and Diana Moran, also known as the ‘Green Goddess’ due to the colour of her leotard. The news was read by Debbie Rix and the weather slot (known as Window on the Weather) was presented by Francis Wilson. The video below is a vintage recording of the first day of Breakfast Time transmission. Comments to me at

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