Sunday, May 20, 2018

The pier.


The photos above were taken by me on Erith Pier on Friday afternoon - click on either for a larger version. The upper photo shows the general cargo carrier the M.V Elke W, which had just departed the wharf at ADM Oils in Lower Belvedere, and was heading down river on a 24 hour journey to the port of Harlingen in The Netherlands. The lower photo shows the "dog leg" part of Erith Pier; bearing in mind the wonderful weather on Friday, it was surprising that there were not more people there.  Erith Pier is the longest pier on the River Thames, and a wonderful place to be on a warm and sunny day. It is a bit of a pity that Erith Pier os not better known outside of the local area; I feel if properly handled and publicised, it could well become a bit of a tourist attraction. It could do with a public toilet and a small cart selling tea, coffee and soft drinks, to be open during the summer months. I do know that an application was made some years ago by a local couple to open such a cart, but the council turned them down. Perhaps now is the time for a new application? What do you think? Leave a comment below, or Email me at hugh.neal@gmail.com.

Some of the most important and interesting stories that I feature on the Maggot Sandwich are those sent to me by readers; contrary to some opinions, I do not find every story myself. In some cases the people who supply the information prefer to remain anonymous, and I will always respect this; other times the person is happy to be named. Earlier this week I had an Email from a chap called Jerry who told me about a fascinating and very worthwhile project that has recently been set up. A significant breakthrough in cancer research has been made, which uses the processing power of mobile phones to carry out complex calculations distributed over hundreds or thousands of mobile devices. The technology will be used by researchers from Imperial College London hoping to identify how existing and new drugs can be used to treat cancer. The project, Drug Repositioning Using Grids of Smartphones (DRUGS), marks the official launch of the app in the UK and its first collaboration with a UK university. It previously launched in Australia. Star Wars actor John Boyega is among those encouraging the public to get involved by downloading the app and ‘donating’ the processing power of their idle smartphones while they sleep. In an interview with the Metro news website, Dr Kirill Veselkov, who is leading the team at Imperial College London’s department of surgery and cancer, said: "We are currently generating huge volumes of health data around the world every day, but just a fraction of this is being put to use. ‘By harnessing the processing power of thousands of smartphones, we can tap into this invaluable resource and look for clues in the datasets. Ultimately, this could help us to make better use of existing drugs and find more effective combinations of drugs tailored to patients, thereby improving treatments." Scientists from the university have designed an algorithm that breaks down large datasets into small chunks. Through DreamLab, these smaller chunks will be analysed by a network of smartphones to try to find links in the data. This could help identify more effective combinations of existing drugs to treat cancer and work out the best treatment for individuals. While this data processing could be performed by a computer, it would take much longer. A desktop computer with an eight-core processor running 24 hours a day would take 300 years to process the data, the developers said. However, a network of 100,000 smartphones running six hours a night could do the same amount of work in three months. A new device – if fully charged and plugged in – could run up to 60 calculations and solve up to 24,000 problems in six hours. Researchers believe that in the long run this work could speed up access to effective drugs and enable tailored treatments for patients. Andrew Dunnett, Director of The Vodafone Foundation, said: “DreamLab is a great example of the transformative power of connectivity and technology. This innovative app gives everyone the chance to play a part in the fight against cancer while they sleep. We hope DreamLab will significantly increase the speed at which Imperial College and other researchers are able to make breakthroughs in cancer research, ultimately saving lives". Whilst the concept of distributed computing is quite new in the mobile arena, it is not new to desktop computers. I was involved for quite some time with the SETI at Home project, which used a computers processing powers whilst idle to analyse radio signal data gathered from a world - wide network of radio telescopes to look for radio signals possibly of extra terrestrial origin.  The concept is the same, although the methods of operation and delivery vary somewhat. Using idle smart phones to beat cancer has got to be a very good thing indeed. Thanks to Jerry for bringing this story to my attention. 

Regarding submitting stories for inclusion on the Maggot Sandwich, some guidelines; any story needs to be with me by the Thursday night prior to publication on Sunday; this is to allow me to check the factual accuracy of the story, and to edit and reformat the text where necessary. Please send text in plain Email format - not in Microsoft Word, as contrary to popular opinion, Word is not a standard format (a word document contains a lot of hidden metadata that has to be stripped out prior to being uploaded into the Blogger interface). I do occasionally get stories sent to me on a Sunday morning, with a request that it be included in the latest update - which is published early on each Sunday afternoon. Unless there is a really compelling reason, such stories will be carried over to the next edition. Every Maggot Sandwich update takes around ten hours to research, write, edit and error check, all of which is carried out in my spare time. I do not accept advertising or any kind of goods in kind for any promotion - the blog is entirely run as a free local news and information portal with no political or economic bias.


The proposed Energy Park outlined in the picture above - click on it for a larger view - would be located at Norman Road in Belvedere, on land to the west of the existing Riverside Resource Recovery Facility and would form an important part of London’s energy and resource management infrastructure. As well as generating clean energy from energy recovery, anaerobic digestion (for local food and green waste) and solar panels, the proposed Energy Park would also incorporate up to 20 MWh of battery storage to supply additional power to meet London’s demand at peak times.

I am very concerned about the cruise ship terminal that is being created at Enderby Wharf in Greenwich; readers may wonder why my concerns are being directed at a location outside of my normal coverage area, and one that is more properly covered by Darryl Chamberlain of the excellent 853 Blog; well the reasons are actually rather straightforward. As you may already be aware, there is a long established campaign to force the operators of the cruise ship terminal to install shore - side power for the visiting cruise ships, so that they do not have to operate their internal electrical generators to power the vessels whilst in port. The campaigners say that for each cruise ship in port. and running its' generators will create as much pollution as 680 lorries over a 24 hour period. The terminal operators do not want to install shore side power for the cruise ships, due to the additional cost this would create. In an interview in the News Shopper earlier last week, campaigner Laura Eyres said of a cruise ship that docked at the Enderby Wharf port over the recent Bank Holiday weekend that :- "Having campaigned about the plans for a cruise port over the past few months, it was quite a rude awakening to see one of this size parked in Greenwich on the morning of the local election results. The ship ran its engines constantly over the bank holiday and we were horrified to see the amount of smoke it was generating. The smoke blew across to homes, a new children’s playground at New Capital Quay and people just out by the river enjoying the sunshine. Our petition continues to rise steadily with several hundred signatures every week. We noticed a peak in signatures in the period after the bank holiday weekend. We have amassed widespread support not only from residents across the whole borough, but also from MPs on both sides of the river and all the local parties. The cruise terminal was a pivotal issue in the local elections. We have also written to the new leader of Greenwich Council offering our congratulations and asking for a meeting.” The petition currently stand at around 6,500 signatures. One factual error in Laura Eyres makes in her statement is that she confuses the ship running its generators with the ship running its engines - the two things are mutually exclusive. No ship would run its main engines in port, due to the very high cost - their fuel consumption is eye wateringly high. Instead they run shore - side generators, which whilst still using a lot of fuel, are somewhat more efficient than the main engines, especially when all they are going is providing electricity, rather than motive power. I have noticed several journalists making the same mistake. I digress. The problem which this situation creates in the local area covered by the Maggot Sandwich, is that when the cruise liner port at Enderby Wharf is in full operation, a far larger number of cruise liners will be coming up the River Thames and into London, and in so doing will pass Slade Green, Erith, Lower Belvedere and Abbey Wood on their way to Greenwich. Whilst travelling up the river they will not be operating their electrical generators, but running their main motive power engines, with the "full fat" pollution that this will bring - and don't forget that unlike the residents of Greenwich, who are supposed to be benefitting from the increased trade that tourists will bring to the area, residents in the towns that line the banks of the Thames on the route will have all of the pollution and none of the benefits - something that seems to have been overlooked in the whole environmental debate until now. What do you think? Leave a comment below, or alternatively Email me at hugh.neal@gmail.com.


There is a change in the Maggot Sandwich this week - although you would not be able to tell; this week the Blog update has been carried out  on a different computer. Normally I use my trusty Apple iMac to create the content for the Blog, but this week I am using my new "backup computer" in the shape of my new Raspberry Pi Model 3 B+ which is now resident in the office in Pewty Acres. The primary role of the Raspberry Pi is to be a very cheap (£35) credit card sized, flexible computer for children to learn programming, much in the way the kids of my generation learned to program the early 8 bit computers of the day such as the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro and the Commodore 64. I was pretty much self taught in computing; when I was at school, computer studies was a very new field, and generally maths teachers were given the job of teaching pupils about computers. Some were excellent, many had little training and less aptitude for the job. At my school, a fair number of pupils knew way more than the computer studies teacher. I recall the time when my friend Roy and I rewrote the CP/M operating system disk on the school’s solitary Research Machines 380Z so that instead of saying on boot up “Research Machines 380Z Basic (C) RM 1979” it said “Washing Machines 380Z Basic (C) Hugh and Roy”. The teacher went ballistic – saying “you’ve broken the computer!” and banning us from the computer room for a month. He could not grasp the fact that we had copied the operating system onto a fresh floppy disc, and only made changes to the copy. This kind of innocent (and sometimes not so innocent) tinkering was a key way we learned how to program and also modify computer hardware. It also helped that this all happened at the beginning of the home computer revolution in 1981/82. The BBC Micro, the Sinclair ZX81, and a little later the ZX Spectrum, and a host of other pioneering machines were making their way into the bedrooms of children all over the UK. Compared with kids in the USA, who had Apple II‘s and IBM PC’s, which at the time had a substantially greater amount of processing clout, us Brits were struggling with computers with very limited resources indeed. Back then almost all kids could program their computers with a varying degree of skill. My own programming abilities were okay – my BASIC programming code was horribly inelegant and messy, but it usually worked – in the end. Since these golden days of the dawn of the home computer age, things have changes in many ways, some for the better, but many for the worse. Until relatively recently, school children have not been taught programming for years; instead computer studies lessons are mainly in how to use Microsoft Office or other proprietary applications. Little consideration has been given to how computers actually work, or how a student can develop their own software. If lucky, they may have learned a bit of simple HTML, but that’s about as far as things went for many years. Now, with the advent of the Raspberry Pi, today's children are able to learn modern programming languages such as Scratch and Python on extremely affordable hardware - hopefully leading to a future generation of programmers and software developers.

I very rarely comment on stories that make the national press; the reason for this is that if it has been covered in the professional press (who are far better equipped than I) then there is little need for me to add anything. Secondly; national stories are really outside of my main remit - that is, to highlight issues affecting residents in and around the Northern wards of the London Borough of Bexley. This week I am making a notable exception; as regular readers will be aware, I have been quite strident in my coverage of moves to restrict the usage of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in high street betting shops. I first wrote of my opposition to FOBT's back in January 2014, which you can read by clicking here. I am glad to say that finally the government have taken what appears to be appropriate action, and are limiting the maximum stake to be gambled to £2 per go from the current £100 stake. Bookmaking company William Hill have announced that the reduction in maximum FOBT stake will impact their annual profits, and they could fall by between £70 and £100 million, and could well lead to betting shops being closed with consequent job losses. To my mind this just shows how much money the gambling organisations make out of some of the poorest and most vulnerable in society. It is no wonder that one can directly correlate the number of betting shops against the most deprived areas of the UK - something that I have covered in detail in the past. Gambling addiction is a specific and savage curse, mostly on the poorest section of the community. There are an estimated 430,000 people who consider themselves addicts, and 2.3 million who admit they are “at risk”. Almost half of those who use the machines admit to being addicted. Some surveys put this proportion as high as 80 percent. I know what will happen - the large gambling corporations will merely offshore their FOBT enterprises - in order to circumvent the changes in the regulations, which at this stage only cover physical gambling machines located in high street shops. All of the big gambling companies have web based presences, usually located in offshore tax havens, and not subject to British law. I would anticipate that they will create new "opportunities" to play web based virtual FOBT machines, thus bypassing legislation changes. What do you think? Leave a comment below, or alternatively Email me at hugh.neal@gmail.com.


Earlier I referred to "proper" journalist Darryl Chamberlain of the 853 Blog; Darryl has recently covered a story which may well be of interest to Maggot Sandwich readers; if you don't already follow the 853 Blog as I do, I would urge you to do so. Darryl has written a piece on the forthcoming two new Woolwich ferries, which are scheduled to replace the three very old and worn out vessels that currently run the service, and are constantly breaking down - you can see a photo of one of the old vessels above - click on the photo for a larger view. The two new ferries are currently under construction in Poland, and have just been launched. They still require interior fit - out and painting, but they are already completely recognisable. You can read Darryl's article on the forthcoming new Woolwich ferries by clicking here.

Now for the weekly local safety and security updates from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association. Firstly from Barnehurst ward:- "This is our first report in regards to the new Barnehurst ward boundaries and we start with some excellent news with no crimes of note reported. We are slowly getting to know our new patch and have been speaking to residents concerning local concerns as well as taking over ongoing issues from the Colyers team. We would like to thank PC Mo Bangura, PC Mike Cuell and PCSO Muriel Edwards for the work they have done over the years in keeping the ward safe. The new team consists of experienced officers with over 50 years of policing service between them. Our pet hates amongst others are Burglaries, drugs and ASB and we will work tirelessly in combating these using all the available resources at our disposal, including working closely with the local authority and housing associations. However we need your help, Neighbourhood Watch plays an important part in keeping any ward safe and we would like to achieve 100 percent coverage. If you know anyone in the ward that is interested in becoming a Coordinator, please ask them to email the Neighbourhood Watch office at bexwatch-office@btconnect.com to see if their street is covered or feel free to contact the team. We will be actively recruiting new members over the summer months and introducing ourselves to the current Coordinators over the next couple of weeks. Finally a big thank you to the Barnehurst ward Coordinators who remained with us after the boundary changes. We will be at Barnehurst Golf Course on Friday 18th May at 11am. Please feel free to join us for a chat about any local issues that may be of concern or just pop along to say Hi". Belvedere ward:- "Thursday 10th May was the Belvedere ward panel, which was once again well attended with some new faces. The panel met with the 2 newly elected ward Councillors – Sally Hinkley and Dave Putson. The team are keen to work with the councillors to help keep Belvedere safe. The following priorities were set by the panel; 1) Motor-vehicle crime; 2) Drugs; 3) Anti Social Behaviour (ASB). We held another anti-theft number plate screw event on Friday with the AA fitting and giving out 37 sets of anti-theft screws. We utilised the CCTV van, parking it on various hot spots on the ward at the weekend. This turned out to be a huge success, stopping 38 people and obtaining 16 intelligence reports so we shall look to repeat this tactic over coming weeks. We also stopped a van on Dylan Road by Belvedere Train Station that we suspected of fly tipping – all turned out to be in order and documentation was checked. An off road bike which had been pictured and posted on social media by the Thamesmead Team riding in Lesnes Abbey park has been identified and the rider has been issued with a Section 59 warning. The section 59 warning gives officers the powers to seize a vehicle acting in an anti-social manner. The team have issued 7 so far this Spring and will be using this tactic to reduce vehicle ASB. There has been an 83 percent reduction in vehicle ASB calls this year compared to last year so we are confident our approach is working and making the roads and public spaces in Belvedere safer". Bexleyheath ward:- "As you may or may not be aware, all the wards on the Borough had had their ward boundaries changed. Double-check your ward at https://www.met.police.uk/your-area/. As a result we have taken on new streets as well as losing some and are in the process of trying to get to grips with the changes, our team name has also changed and we are now called Bexleyheath SNT. We are hoping to make contact with the Neighbourhood Watches on the new streets that we have taken on to introduce ourselves and to make sure they have the correct details needed to make contact with us. Our team contact number has remained the same, but if you wish to contact us via email, our new one is Bexleyheath.SNT@met.pnn.police.uk. We have been informed the original team mailbox will still be able to receive emails but have no ideal for how long.  In relation to what has been going on the ward. Over the last week, we have had no reported burglaries which is great news for us all. We recently had a meeting with parents and partners from the Council in relation to issues with persistent Anti Social Behaviour (ASB) issues on the ward and we are targeting those who are known to us who persistently cause ASB. We had been informed that the Car Park by the Marriott Hotel was very heavily graffitied. We have attended and can confirm it was as bad as we were told. The team shall be conducting patrols in the car park and are looking into what has been done. We are holding a Bike Marking Event on Saturday 9th June along the Broadway between 10am and 2pm. Please feel free to pop along with your bikes and get them marked, also spread the word to others to also come along and get their bikes property marked. If you would like to contact us, please feel free to make contact via email, twitter or over the phone - details above. For crime prevention advice, please look at the Met Police website which does have information that you may find useful. In an emergency please dial 999 and 101 for non-urgent reporting". Crayford ward:- "First of all, welcome to the residents who are now part of Crayford ward. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook. On 11th May a wallet containing cash cards and driving licence were stolen from Crayford High Street and the cards were fraudulently used to obtain goods. On 12th May a vehicle was interfered with whilst parked in Green Walk. Between 13.00 on 12th May and 10.30 on 13th May there was an attempted burglary at the newly built houses in Crayford Way, a similar offence was committed at the newly built houses in Iron Mill Lane between 5th and 14th May, whereby entry was attempted in to a house and tools were stolen from locked containers. A red Renault Clio was stolen from Wyatt Road between 6pm on Sunday 13th May and 2pm on Monday 14th May. On 10th May between 5.30 and 6pm a Carrera bicycle that was locked to a bike rack outside Sports Direct at Tower Retail Park was stolen. Overnight on 10th May the nearside window to a Mercedes was smashed whilst parked on the road in Claremount Crescent. There have been shop lifting offences at Tower Retail Park. This week officers from our team issued a Section 59 warning to the rider of a moped that had been pulling continuous wheelies in front of a bus, endangering not just himself but the passengers on the bus if the bus had to take avoiding action. Two mobile phone tickets were given out as well as a speeding ticket. Many people were also given words of advice about their driving. Anti-social behaviour has become an increasing issue in quite a few areas around Crayford and has involved several vehicles causing litter by discarding take away packaging and food and drinks as well as nitrous oxide canisters. We are working closely with our partners at London Borough of Bexley to find the best course of action to deal with this as well as other offences that may have been caused. We have been given several number plates of those concerned and will be following this up. Please accept our apologies that our coffee with cops on Wednesday 16th May had to be cancelled at the last moment as the team were urgently required elsewhere. We will be at the Age Concern coffee morning on 25th May at Crayford Library between 11.30-12.30 and will be happy to listen if you have any concerns you would like to speak with us about". Erith ward:- "We have had quite a few Theft of and from Motor vehicles over the last week. Please see the links below for advice. No Residential burglary this week. A few crimes to report from this week: Criminal Damage 09/05/2018 Avenue Road; Theft of cycle 07/05/2018 James Watt Way; Theft of cycle 09/05/2018 Parkspring Court, Erith High Street; Theft from Motor Vehicle 10/05/2018 Riverdale Road; Theft of Motor Vehicle 13/05/2018 Christ Church Vicarage, Victoria Road; Theft of Motor Vehicle 14/05/2018 Erith Road; Shoplifting £200 15/05/2018 Wickes Building Supplies Ltd, Fraser Road". Northumberland Heath ward:- "Good news, we have had no burglaries or motor vehicle crime reported to us over the last week. We are now covering parts of the former Colyers ward and getting to grips with the area. The team are attending St. Fidelis school on Friday afternoon this week for an Aspirations day. The pupils will get to talk to a number of people from different professions to find out what their jobs entail on a daily basis. We have been working on the investigation of two crimes this week .One investigation into the criminal damage of a car windscreen which took place in Collindale Avenue last month, a suspect was identified by police for this and interviewed under caution at the police station. The other investigation, following up from the warrant we executed in Brook Street last week, two further suspects have been interviewed under caution at the police station". Slade Green and North End ward:- "There was a burglary overnight on the 11/12 May in Hazel Drive. An empty property being renovated had power tools stolen. Also overnight on 12/13 May there were 2 vehicle crimes on the Frobisher Road estate. One vehicle had a window smashed and another vehicle was stolen from the estate. During the weekend there were hub caps stolen from a vehicle at the John Pye auction site in Manor Road. A male was arrested by Mark and James last week - he was wanted for failing to attend a drug assessment. He has been charged and awaits an appointment to attend court. Mark and James found a knife in Erith Town centre last week. It is unclear if it was used in any crime but at least it is one more dangerous weapon off the streets. If you were not already aware, the recent ward boundary changes have had very little impact on our ward. We have lost the bottom part of Eversley Avenue and have gained Britannia Close in Erith (which we always thought was ours anyway!). Our ward name has slightly altered also to Slade Green and Northend. This has not affected our team email address with any correspondence to NorthendSNT@met.police.uk still coming through to us. We are not sure if that is due to change in future but we will keep you updated". Thamesmead East ward:- "Burglaries - On Wednesday 09/05/18 between the hours of 07:05pm and 07:30pm on Thursday 10/05/18 a pedal cycle was stolen from the communal area of a block of flats in Fairway Drive.  Motor Vehicle Crimes - Between the hours of 08:30 pm on Saturday 12/05/18 and 02:00 pm on Sunday 13/05/18 a pair of aluminium vehicle ramps were stolen from a vehicle Recovery lorry which was parked in the car parking area of Alsike Road. A motor cycle which had broken down on Eastern Way, which was left locked and secure by the owner was stolen between the hours of 02:00pm Saturday 12/05/18 and 11:00am Sunday 13/05/18 when the owner and a friend returned to the location to recover his bike and found that it had been removed by person(s) unknown. The victim contacted the council to find out if they had removed it but there was no trace. Have a Say event. Thursday 24/05/18 between the hours of 11:00 am and 12:00 pm the team will be attending The Lakeside Medical Centre, Yarnton Way. An opportunity for members of the community who prefer face- to – face contact, to speak with a Dedicated Ward Officer".

The end video this week finishes off pretty much where we started; it is some drone footage taken on and around Erith Pier. It gives a very good idea of just how large the pier is - the longest on the River Thames by quite some margin. Please feel free to leave a comment below, or alternatively Email me at hugh.neal@gmail.com