Sunday, September 06, 2020

The Chartists.

I took the photo above last Sunday afternoon, minutes after publishing last weeks’ Maggot Sandwich update. It shows the Bexley Council owned and operated recycling centre behind Morrison’s supermarket in Erith. Regular readers will know that I have been conducting a minor war against illegal fly tipping in and around Erith for some time.  I get the impression that many residents are unaware as to exactly how bad the fly tipping problem has now become.  The photograph above illustrates the problem very well. Fly tipping of this nature is becoming an almost daily occurrence. As I have previously written, there are a small number of local businesses who illegally dump waste, rather than taking stuff for proper disposal at the Council waste facility at Thames Road in Crayford. The reason that they dump rather than responsibly recycle is purely down to money. Commercial enterprises have to pay to dispose of waste at official disposal stations; I understand that a van load of mixed material would normally come to around £100. The crooks would rather skimp this and pollute the environment. When I was taking the photograph above, I was approached by a couple who readily identified themselves as scrap dealers. What was interesting was their approach – they run a local, ethical scrap recycling business. Unlike most “scrappies”, they will not take items without asking the owners’ permission first; they have full accreditation, insurance and registration, and they abhor fly tipping. It was instructive to see the other side of the coin – a scrap dealer who detests the fly tippers as much as most other people. They told me that nothing hurts their reputable business more than the illegal activities of less scrupulous operators. I was told that two years ago, their van insurance cost £500; this year it was £2000 and they have had no claims. They were told by their broker that merely operating a scrap business put their premiums up by this huge amount. They also told me that the legitimate companies in the scrap game now have to pay a £350 annual fee to the council to contribute towards the cost of clearing up fly tipping carried out by their criminal business competitors. Of course, the crooks won’t pay this, as they are not registered. This does put the legitimate operator at a distinct disadvantage, which I think is morally wrong. A properly regulated and responsibly run scrap and recycling industry is vital to the UK in many ways; recycling glass, for example, uses only around ten percent of the energy of making glass from raw materials, and of course it saves using raw materials in the first place. Recycled metal forms a vital contribution to the countries’ balance of payments, as much ferrous and non ferrous metal is exported after being recycled from scrap. The list could go on, but you get the idea. On top of all this, getting old appliances recycled saves a ton of stuff going to landfill; being the small island that Britain is, we would rapidly run out of space, as well as risking pollution on a massive scale. Scrap collectors / dealers may get a bad rap (and in quite a few cases, deservedly so), but the good ones perform an absolutely vital service which we would all be far worse off without.

Earlier this week I received an Email from Wates Housing Group and Orbit Housing Association with some information about benefits being brought to residents of Erith Park. The announcement reads as follows:- "Erith residents are set to benefit from a donation of IT equipment from national developer, Wates Residential and housing association, Orbit in a move to ensure digital access for members of the community. Rosie McGuirk, Site Manager for Wates Residential and Rosie Ward, Associate Placemaking and Partnership Manager from Orbit presented Yeukia Taruvinga from the Active Horizons community space with £1,400 of IT equipment, including three new laptops and a tablet device which will be made available for use by the whole community within the Erith Park ‘Active Horizons’ community space. Active Horizons is a youth-led charitable organisation set up to foster leadership, as well as promote the voice and engagement of black and minority ethnic young people in London Borough of Bexley. The donation comes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to highlight the effects of digital exclusion on some of the most disadvantaged groups in the UK. Lack of access to a suitable computer or internet connectivity within the home during lockdown has created significant barriers to online learning for school children, while the closure of some key services such as building societies created a digital divide for those families without access to internet banking to help secure funds. The IT equipment donated by Wates Residential and Orbit will offer vital support for individuals who are currently experiencing digital exclusion as services and access to information continue to move towards a ‘digital by default’ model. Residents will also be encouraged to use the new equipment to improve their IT and employability skills, join the online job market, access online study resources and reconnect with friends, family and wider networks to help prevent social isolation. Wates Residential and Orbit celebrated the completion of the Erith Park regeneration in September 2019. This saw the transformation of seven dated tower blocks on the former Larner Road estate into a new award-winning mixed tenure community of 587 new homes. The partners have now embarked on the regeneration of the neighbouring Park East site where they will deliver 320 new homes, of which 80 per cent will for affordable rent and shared ownership to ensure a mixed, aspirational and sustainable community for local residents. This donation of IT equipment forms part of Wates Residential and Orbit’s ambition to deliver a borough-wide legacy as part of their presence in the borough. This includes a commitment to boost the local economy by entering into contracts valued at c.£10,000,000 with local small and medium-sized businesses. Wates Residential and Orbit have also pledged to hire more than 30 apprentices, offer dozens of work experience placements, and hire local people for full time employment. The partners are also committed to holding Construction Careers, Advice and Guidance (CIAG) events, including site visits for students to enrich their classroom learning. Glen Roberts, Operations Director of Wates Residential, said: “We are delighted to have been able to support the residents of Erith Park with this donation and, in particular, to be able to make a genuine difference to those local families who are currently struggling to access the resources and services that many of us take for granted. “We believe that everyone deserves a great place to live and that includes ensuring that all members of the local community have the opportunity to participate fully in society and reach their full potential.” Eric Hodges, Senior Placemaking and Partnerships Manager at Orbit, said: “We’re pleased to support the local community at Erith Park as well as the work of Active Horizons. Young people involved with Active Horizons are able to take part in a range of activities from leadership and career development, to creative arts and before and after school clubs. “This donation will help the young people involved overcome barriers and build a bridge to independence by connecting them to the world around them. It will also help Orbit to develop a new young entrepreneur programme where we will provide mentors to those young people who wish to create and grow their own businesses.” Yeukia Taruvinga, Director of Active Horizons, said: “We are delighted to have received this wonderful donation of IT equipment. It will make an unmeasurable difference to so many residents in Erith including helping individuals to develop digital and employability skills, supporting job searches and enabling the delivery of coding classes for young people. In addition, we are keen to provide support to socially isolated individuals who want to learn how to reach their friends and family through digital mediums. Thank you to Wates Residential and Orbit for their continued investment in the Erith and Bexley communities.

I was watching a documentary on Amazon Prime Video the other night; it featured an international convention of Beatles tribute bands – there were South Korean and Ghanaian Beatles covers groups, amongst a huge number of others. I did not realise that there is a shop in Liverpool that specialises in selling costumes, wigs and boots to Beatle tribute bands, it is that much of a lucrative market. The programme was light hearted and warm and followed a few of the bands as they visited the locations featured in so many Beatles songs. This got me thinking; the Beatles have spawned a huge tourist industry in Liverpool, with Beatles themed tours, events and shows all over the city, all eager to being in the cash from the tourists eager to explore the place that the band called home. Their major contemporaries have fared less well. When you mention the Beatles, you immediately form an association with Liverpool. When you mention the Rolling Stones, you don’t immediately think of Dartford, do you? Yet the band had their roots in Dartford, even though their music had more in common with the Mississippi Delta than the Thames Estuary.  Apart from the excellent Mick Jagger performing arts centre, there is nothing to commemorate the band in Dartford – which is ironic, as unlike the Beatles, the Stones are still a (just about) going concern. I wonder if a lot of this is because the band abandoned the town to move to a house in West London as soon as they started to find success? There was a campaign to get a blue plaque installed on platform two of Dartford railway station a few years ago (see the photo above - click on it for a larger view) – where Mick and Keith first met after both visiting the West End to buy rare American blues records, where they discovered they shared the same musical passion, and the seeds of the band that would become the Rolling Stones were sown. The local area has been instrumental  (if you will excuse the pun) in being home to Kate Bush (Welling), John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin (Sidcup), David Bowie (Bromley), and more recently Tinie Tempah (Plumstead). The musical influence this part of South East London / North Kent has had worldwide has had is huge; we just seem to be exceptionally poor at celebrating its’ success.  Going back to the Rolling Stones, one thing which has been unclear for years is the actual origin of their name. Some think it comes from the Muddy Waters song of the same name, which may indeed be the case. The thing is, what exactly is a rolling stone? Well, according to a source I read, it is nothing to do with a stone rolling down a hill. The “rolling stone that gathers no moss” actually refers to a 16th Century garden lawn carved stone roller; so the Rolling Stones, with all of their “bad boy” image are actually named after something you would find in a garden shed...

Following on from the Rolling Stones Blue Plaque story just now, did you know that Crayford pub The One Bell has a plaque located outside to commemorate the fact that back on the 21st June 1844, the pub was the location of the founding of the Chartist movement? The Chartists were a group of men (no women’s suffrage back then) who wanted electoral rights for the working classes. The central tenets of the Chartist movement were:- 1) a vote for every man over the age of 21 who was of sound mind and not undergoing punishment for a crime. 2) All ballots to be held in secret. 3) No requirement to be a property holder for members of Parliament, thus enabling rich or poor to stand for election equally. 4) MP’s to receive a living wage – meaning rich or poor could represent a constituency. 5) Equal constituency sizes – enabling the same amount of representation for the same number of electors. 6) Annually elected parliaments – the theory being that a rich man might be able to win an election through bribery if elections were held every five or seven years, but if it was held every year, even those with the deepest pockets could not keep paying bribes to throw the result in their favour. Chartists were pioneers of social justice and equal rights for all; they were also opposed to any form of state sponsored religion. In many ways their aims were predecessors of the Labour movement, though Chartists and their policies were widely opposed by the ruling classes – in some cases leading chartist campaigners were arrested for treason after organising strikes and marches against what they saw as unfair treatment by big business owners and the government. The Chartist movement lost a lot of credibility in 1848 when leaders of the Chartist movement organised a petition to hand in to Parliament urging them to change electoral laws to bring in changes to comply with the six points on their charter. The problem was, they had said that they had gained over five million signatures, when in fact they had actually only got around a million. If this was not a big enough dent in their image, when the petition was examined, it was found that a large proportion of the signatures were forged. Names like “Queen Victoria” and “Mister Punch” cropped up with regularity. Shortly thereafter the group fizzled out. In the end, they achieved none of their original aims; they did however, lay much of the groundwork for the later trade union movement.

Following my piece ast week, where I complained about the volume of junk mail now being delivered by the Royal Mail, I received some feedback from regular reader and occasional contributor Patrick, he writes:-"Just read your piece about Royal Mail, and felt the urge to respond. I have to say that your frustrations reflect my own when it comes to the unsolicited advertising dross that is stuffed through the letter box on an almost daily basis. Obviously this is a lucrative source of income for the failing Royal Mail. Without it, in my view, they would have ceased to be competitive with the private sector, and would have gone under a long time ago. This is not entirely their fault, of course. They were a prime target for the private sector, and are living on borrowed time. Various governments have done their best to run the service into the ground. With the result that it has to rely on using its staff as glorified litter louts. The only difference being that they shove it through your door instead of dropping it in the street. If you want to see an example of the vandalism that has been perpetrated on the Royal Mail/Post Office and it's customers, just take a stroll into Dartford and try to buy a stamp, or whatever, at the 'main' office that is now situated inside WH Smith's. Even without the Covid 19 situation, it is absolutely horrendous at times". Comments to

This week marks another technology anniversary; it is the 20th anniversary of the UK launch of the Nokia 3310 mobile phone, a device that instantly conjures nostalgia. Austere by today's standards, it stood out thanks to its generous collection of bundled software (like Snake) and relatively sophisticated SMS-based chat software. it had a legendarily long battery life, and was extremely well made and robust in comparison to fragile modern smart phones. From the outset, the 3310 was unambiguously a consumer device, and thus the Finnish mobile giant opted to launch it at an extreme sports event called "Don't be bored. Be totally board."At that point, the mobile sector was still in its infancy. A survey conducted in the US in 2000 showed that only 28.3 per cent of people owned a cellular phone, with a further 11.1 per cent sharing a device with another household member. While cellphones were on an obvious upward trajectory, it's fair to say that the Nokia 3310 helped accelerate that trend, with around 120 million devices sold during its lifespan. The Nokia 3310 is a true icon in the mobile phone world. Having sold over 120 million units its ubiquity meant that it is a device that many people owned, often as their first mobile phone. This means it generates a real sense of nostalgia which further underlines its status as one of the most important mobile phones of all time. The robust design made it almost indestructible in daily use and its ease of use meant that it became a firm favourite with customers. Comments and feedback to me at

Now for the weekly local safety and security updates from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association. Firstly the report from Barnehurst ward:-"Yet another good week with regards Burglaries or should I say no burglaries. Yes ,this maybe because more people are spending time at home however they are still happening on the Borough so please remain vigilant. There has been a second incident of indecent exposure at Barnehurst Golf Course where a male described as in his thirties, brown hair, pointed teeth who had a homeless look about him. He was wearing a grey track suit and was seen in the wooded area of Perry Street side. The team are dealing with this incident and will be concentrating patrols here. We have had an incident of vehicle crime in Parkside Avenue on Tuesday 25/08/2020 overnight whereby an attempt was made to remove a number plate from a vehicle. In Westfield Road criminal damage was caused to a vehicle. Victim found the window screen wiper damaged. We continue to pay attention to Hillingdon Road and the surrounding area as another priority due to reports of drug dealing. It has also been brought to our attention that young boys have been throwing stones at passing traffic in Colyers Lane therefore an area where we will be monitoring". Belvedere ward:- "We have charged two males for offences committed on the Belvedere Park Estate back in 2017. There was a spate of theft of mail and fraud committed in 2017, mainly in Moyle house, where the suspects lived. We executed a search warrant at that address and arrested three males, two of whom were the tenants. After a very lengthy investigation over the past two and a half years we have charged two of them with Handling Stolen Goods, Theft of Mail and Possession of Articles for Use in Fraud. They are both due to appear at Bromley Magistrates Court in October. Now the bank holiday is over and the schools are going back things are seemingly returning to a sense of normal…ish. We will be back on the ward proper, patrolling etc. Please keep following government advice with regards to Covid and your safety. Wear a facemask when required to do so, keep your distance etc. Be alert and stay safe". Bexleyheath ward:-"From Neighbourhood Watch Member - in Eskdale Road - On Saturday 29th August at approx. 6.15pm I was waiting to enter the Co-Op on Long Lane when a man blatantly walked out of the shop carrying a Co-Op basket full of meat and some pizzas. The man was white about 5' 10ish of thin build. He had black hair, wore a mask, black trousers and a black top or jacket. He got into a grey Peugeot car registration number KM09 EXE". Crayford ward - no report this week. Erith ward:-"Four Thefts From Motor Vehicles have taken place in the last week. Chandlers Drive, James Watt Way, West Street and Callender Road were the venues. Please do not leave any items on display when leaving your vehicle, even if only for a short time". Northumberland Heath ward:-"Unfortunately there has been a rise on theft of motor vehicles/theft from motor vehicles including Beechfield Road, where three bags were taken from the vehicle. Please do not have any valuables on show only YOU can prevent this from happening. A theft of a motor vehicle Black X 3 BMW VRM YC56 NHD from Becton Place .Enquiries still on going and has been circulated on PNC .A second theft of motor vehicle including a dark blue Mercedes VRM GD18 RWN was stolen from the victims driveway on Cavendish Ave. A local resident has sent in a letter of thanks to the Officers very quick response when reporting his vehicle stolen from Brook Street. Officers located the vehicle within thirty minutes after the vehicle was stolen. Officers even assisted the victim with a flat tyre to enable him to take the vehicle back to a safe location. There has been reports of Anti-Social Behaviour within Northumberland Park . Officers have been completing positive stop and searches and notified parents and social service along with the ASB unit within Bexley Council where further warnings have been issued". Slade Green and Northend ward:-"Entry was forced on a garage door in Peareswood Road overnight on Sunday 30/08 into Monday 31/08. Nothing was taken. No other crimes of note in the last week. A visit has been made to individuals who have recently been involved in lots of ASB in Hazel Road and Larkswood Close. The relevant warnings have been given in regards their future behaviour. A search warrant was executed today in Frobisher Road. A small amount of drugs were found and the suspect is currently being interviewed. The team assisted Slade Green and Northend SNT today in executing a search warrant in Frobisher Road and our officers are currently interviewing the suspect". Thamesmead East ward:-"Burglaries - Between the hours of 10:00pm on Sunday 30/08/20 and 6:45 on Monday 31/08/20 a burglary occurred in Felixstowe Road. Numerous items stolen. The residents had left a ground floor window slightly ajar. Another burglary occurred in Mangold Way similar method of entry to the burglary in Felixstowe Road, the resident had left the little living room window open, as usual to help with ventilation whilst the family were away. The incident happened between 5:50 pm on Sunday 30/08/20 and 8:25 am on Monday 31/08/20.Ongoing investigation to both burglaries. Motor Vehicle Crimes - On Sunday 30/08/20 between the hours of 1:00 am and 2:30 am a vehicle locked and secure outside of Dexter House St John Fisher Road stolen. Redpoll Way a vehicle parked overnight between Monday 31/08/20 and Tuesday 01/09/20 had the door forced open and handle broke untidy search ,the victim believes that nothing was taken ,as they don't normally keep anything in the vehicle. A motor vehicle was stolen from Pointer Close between the hours of 7:00 pm on Monday 31/08/20 and 7:00 pm Tuesday 01/09/20,after the owner had contacted the garage ,who confirmed that they had not collected the vehicle .The windscreen of a vehicle parked in Hartslock Drive was smashed, this incident between 9:00 pm and 10;pm on Tuesday 01/09/20. A vehicle in Southmere Drive had the rear passenger light smashed, rubbish put on the roof and tape had been wrapped around the vehicle. The damage was believed to have happened overnight Wednesday 26/08/20 and Thursday 27/08/20". West Heath ward:-"On Saturday 29/08/20 at 0045 hours outside of the Co-Op in Brampton Road Informant stated that three young males on bikes attempted to break in this morning. The youths are known for shoplifting. One climbed in with a brick and tried to smash the glass. It was smashed. One theft from motor vehicle at Axminster Crescent, Welling. Between Saturday 29 August 2020 at 1725 hours and on Monday 31 August 2020, an unknown suspect removed and stole the number plates from a white VW Caddy van index LG14 BUP that was parked at Axminster Crescent, Welling".

The end video this week shows some footage shot outside of The Rose pub in Bexleyheath Broadway last night - it shows the emergency services attending after a multiple stabbing, which has been reported on the BBC News website - click here to read more about the story.

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