Sunday, November 19, 2017

Post Office for sale.


The upper photo above shows the building and conversion work being carried out on the White Hart Pub in Erith High Street. The lower picture shows the low rise flats that will shortly be constructed in the former pub's garden behind the main building pictured in the upper photo. The building was left empty and unused after  the last occupants abandoned the property. It had been used as a wine bar / drug den by a couple of unscrupulous businessmen / criminals who illegally ripped out the historic Victorian acid etched glass and salt glazed tile frontage and installed hideous plate glass windows. The wine bar, which was called Potion, attracted all of the worst elements from the local area, and it soon became known as a hive of scum and villainy. The place was not properly run, and there were many incidents of drunken and drug fuelled fights taking place on the premises. Eventually the owners lost their licence, and they were also twice taken to court by Bexley Council over the illegal changes that they had made to the pub building, which is part of the Erith High Street Conservation Area. Needless to say they did not turn up at court, and claimed bankruptcy to save them from paying the extensive fines and restoration fees that the court subsequently imposed. Now the historic frontage has been replaced with a very nice looking and quite accurate replica of the original, and the building is being converted into apartments upstairs and to the rear of the bar area. The work is being funded by The Wellington Pub Company, the largest free of tie pub company in the UK, who specialise in resuscitating and renovating "problem" sites. It will be interesting to see if they do open a pub in the ground floor of the White Hart building, as the only other pub in central Erith is the dreary and under - used Running Horses, a pub / restaurant that was absolutely excellent in the late 80's / early 90's, with an extremely popular carvery in the upper floor of the pub building, but nowadays it is a sad shadow of its former self, which is a great pity. There have been many rumours about the potential future use of the bar area of the White Hart, as it is the only part of the building not covered in the extensive documentation that accompanied the planning application supplied to Bexley Council. Much guesswork and several rumours have abounded - that it was going to be an Indian restaurant, or a Gelato parlour, but thus far nothing concrete has yet been determined. 

Following up last week's story on the criminal moped rider who was hospitalised following a Police action called a "tactical stop", I have it on very good authority that the criminal who was detained has a long criminal record, both as a prolific moped thief, a drug dealer of some local repute, and the person who recently stole a bike from a member of the Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association management team. I get the strong feeling that the youth in question will be made an example of when the case reaches court. More news regarding the illegal motorbike and moped riders that plague the area; A reader who chooses to remain anonymous wrote to me recently, saying:- "Congratulations for highlighting the connection between illegal motorcycles and other crime. I support the police robust stop tactics. Any refusal to stop should be grounds for immediate confiscation of the motorcycle  without any  warning for the future at all. I can think of a few locations where a pursuit is not even necessary. Two bobbies posted with stingers deployed at the destroyed "kissing gates" into and out of Thamesmead former golf club would bottle up the regular motorcycle gang without the need for a helicopter blockade or active stop tactics by the police. Eventually they would be obliged to give themselves up. If you wonder about the relevance to Erith of this location then I invite you to inspect the recently installed barrier gate on the river path beside the Crossness Engines Trust. You will see that the ironwork beside the barrier has been destroyed  by cutting with angle grinders just like the adjacent "kissing gate". The River path is now being invaded by these illegal motorcycles rendering it practically useless for leisure purposes. Probably those same low-lifes  displaced by the recent Police action in Norman Road North beside Cory Environmental that you reported in a recent blog". I know that Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick stated only last week that the teenage thugs undertaking moped based crime need to have longer prison sentences. In an interview with the London Evening Standard, Commissioner Dick said:- "Years of trying to keep young offenders out of jail has resulted in an increasing number who are simply not fearful of how the state will respond to their actions. They don't see imprisonment as particularly likely or a serious threat and it does not in any sense deter them from criminal activity. At what point does the state prioritise its duty to protect the public and ensure that young people could see the criminal justice system as something that will catch up with them?" Commissioner Dick also reported the case of a 16-year-old in London who had 42 offences to his name, but had not served a single day in jail. Last year 26,236 criminals under 18 were reportedly sentenced by UK courts but just 1,598 – around one in 16 – were locked up. What do you think? Leave a comment below, or Email me at hugh.neal@gmail.com.


As I have previously covered, the quality of local journalism is going downhill; this is not the direct fault of the reporters on our main "local" paper - their numbers have been drastically reduced, and the areas they cover have been greatly increased. The News Shopper offices used to be based in Petts Wood, and the reporters were truly local; nowadays the News Shopper's parent company, Newsquest is based in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The reporters that cover the London Borough of Bexley also have to cover such geographically diverse areas such as Richmond, Croydon and also South East London / North Kent. Bearing in mind the News Shopper only has s tiny handful of reporters nowadays, and those they do have are sometimes painfully unfamiliar with the area on which they are reporting; it is not surprising that they get things wrong from time to time, as has happened in the last week, where reporter Tom Bell wrote a story about a lady who had been mugged in Erith Road, Upper Belvedere - the piece is entitled "Strangers fundraise to replace pension of Nuxley woman, 84, robbed in street" - since when has there been a place / town called Nuxley? He is of course referring to Nuxley Road, Upper Belvedere, although you would never know from his article. I don't entirely blame him - he has probably never visited the place. I decided that I would write to Mr. Bell and give him some history of Nuxley Road, and why "Nuxley" and "Nuxley Village" have never actually existed. Here is what I wrote:- "Hi Tom, I hope you don't mind, but I need to correct you on your recent story entitled:- "Nuxley robbery: Grandmother has pension stolen by a 'monster'". 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. 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 local estate agents who have no knowledge of the history of the area. Upper Belvedere has been so called for at least the last 782 years, and the thoughtless action of a handful of ignorant house peddlers is not going to change facts any time soon. I hope that this clarifies". I currently await a reply. 

Bexley Council appear to be up to a few tricks right now. There was a full council meeting on the 8th of November. The majority Conservative council were challenged over their spending. After a couple of years of cutbacks and austerity, it appears that they are now on a spending spree. Why would this be? The money situation has not as far as I can ascertain improved to any significant degree. In a series of questions asked at the council meeting of the ruling Conservative group, Councillor Alex Sawyer was forced to admit that spending on resurfacing on roads and pavements has seen a one-off sharp increase in spending in election year. The Conservative group also refused to admit that the focus of their pre-election spending will be across Conservative wards in areas such as road resurfacing and street planting with 210 of the 225 trees planned for planting in this year, planned in the 16 of the 21 wards represented by the Conservatives. Speaking in an interview after the council meeting, Councillor Joe Ferreira, Shadow Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Environment and Leisure said “It is now clear that Bexley’s Conservatives are using the underspends from the 2016/17 budget to fund a pre-election programme of tidying up the borough focusing on areas represented by Conservative councillors. In a number of areas, they are attempting to re-invest services to 2014 levels, showing they now accept that their programme of cuts to street cleansing and parks have failed, albeit with an acceptance that this spending cannot be guaranteed to continue after the election. The Tories are desperately trying to use our residents’ money to fund their pre-election campaign and are reversing their entire budget policy in an attempt to retain control of the council.” If this is all as has been claimed (and at the time of writing, I have no reason to suspect that it is not), then this will be yet another example of the Northern wards of The London Borough of Bexley suffering at the expense of the wealthier Southern wards. We are currently in the unenviable position of having a local council that can safely ignore the wishes of a significant proportion of its residents in the North, as their mandate is supplied almost exclusively by the residents in the South. This seems to me to be contrary to the principles of good democracy and government.

Back when flat screen televisions were first made available, they had a finite life. The early plasma screens were normally good for around 30,000 hours of service, the problem was that whilst the screens were bright and had a very good viewing angle, they used a lot of power, even when in standby, and when on they got very hot. When LED screens came along, their life was substantially longer, and again the limiting factor was the life of the backlight – a common issue. The latest screen technology currently available is OLED. An OLED display works without a backlight; thus, it can display deep black levels and can be thinner and lighter than an LED screen. In low ambient light conditions (such as a dark room), an OLED screen can achieve a higher contrast ratio than an LED, regardless of whether the LED uses cold cathode fluorescent lamps or an LED backlight. The trouble is, the screens are very expensive, and they are difficult to manufacture in the large sizes that a lot of customers want nowadays; on top of this, as the OLED screens generate their own light, the screens “burn out” relatively quickly, and the colour rendition fading – blues especially “wash out” quite early on in the life cycle of the TV screen. All this in actual use may be relatively unimportant, as other factors are far more likely to affect the length of life of a modern flat screen television. Most TV’s on sale nowadays have so called “smart” functionality built in – the ability to stream media from companies such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, for example, and access to the web and sites such as YouTube is now something many people take for granted. In my opinion, the limiting factor in the real – life durability of a modern smart TV is not actually the display technology hardware, but is rather how long the TV remains in software support from the manufacturer. How long updates, patches and software downloads are available for the TV. For example, I have a Samsung TV from 2012; many of the applications installed on it will no longer run, as they are now out of support. The TV itself still works fine, but if you want watch BBC iPlayer, for instance, you are stuffed. The issue here is that most smart TV’s use a version of the Android operating system – which is constantly being updated and modified by its creator, Google. The problem is that the TV manufacturers usually stop providing Android updates to TV’s after a couple of years, and sooner or later versions of apps for TV’s stop working on older versions of the Android operating system. It seems from my research that a TV will cease getting OS updates at around the fourth year from the point of purchase. It seems to me that TV’s are going the way of the computer and the motor car – they are now seen as time limited, disposable devices. What do you think? Leave a comment below, or Email me at hugh.neal@gmail.com.


The Post Office and Cost Cutter convenience store in Erith High Street (shown in the photo above - click on it for a larger view) has just been put up for sale for £800,000. It is my understanding that it is being sold as an ongoing, viable business, and there are no plans to shut it down, or convert it for a different use. You can read all of the details by clicking here.

Now for the weekly safety and security updates from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association. Firstly Barnehurst ward:- "On Saturday 11th November 2017 between 11.00 and 18.10 in Northall Road suspects smashed a rear patio window, a brick is believed to have been used. Entry to the property was gained and an untidy search followed with personal items taken. On the same night 11/11/17 between 06.35 and 21.10 in Hall Place Crescent the glass to the rear kitchen door was smashed and entry gained. An untidy search was found and personal items taken. On 12/11/17 a business premises in Midfield Parade was broken into by means of smashing a glass window to the front door. Petty cash was taken along with the till tray. CCTV nearby shows a person at the front of the property just after midnight, unfortunately the footage just shows a pair of legs from knees down due to the shops canopy obstructing view. On 14/11/17 between 02.50am and 03.00am another business premises in Mayplace Road East was broken into, again the glass to the front door was smashed and entry gained. Suspects made off with a small amount of cash. It is hoped the suspects are captured on nearby CCTV. Youths are continuing to target property’s in Taunton Close by throwing or hitting golf balls and damaging property. On 10/11/17 at 1030 a golf ball damaged property. On 09/11/17 at around 14.40 youths caused damage to a vehicle, it is believed person/persons have sat on the vehicle causing a dent to the bonnet. It’s the time of year again where burglars are out there and committing crime. Please take time to look at your home security and look out for your neighbours. Ensure wheelie bins are brought in on bin collection day, If you see post sticking out of letter boxes, push it through. If away for any amount of time let your trusted neighbours know, leave a key with a family member to close curtains etc. If you wish to discuss any of these issues raised or anything else, please join us for Coffee with cops at Barnehurst Golf Club on Thursday 23rd November 2017". Belvedere ward:- "Over the last week the team have been working on a variety of issues. PC Holmes arrested a male for 3 public order offences as well as a breach of court bail as part of an on going dispute. That male later attended court and was found guilty of public order offences, was given a hefty fine, a restraining order and ordered to 90 hours unpaid work. PC Holmes has also been working hard on the investigation of thefts of post in the Belvedere Park Estate. The team will be attending the Belvedere Park Residents Association meeting later this evening to discuss issues in the area and speak with residents. PC Holmes and PCSO Worrall were on duty on Remembrance Day and paid their respects on the Broadway with other Bexley officers. PC Holmes also arrested a male for criminal damage to a motor vehicle and malicious communications. The team will be in the Co-op on 22/11/2017 for a crime surgery at 11:30am should you wish to speak with the team in person". Brampton ward:- " We have a quieter week than the last few but still more than we would like. 2 x Burglaries in Heversham road and Dunwich Road - both occasions entry was to the rear of the property and cash and jewellery taken; 1 x theft of a wallet from a house in Normanhurst Avenue; Criminal damage to a motor vehicle in Birchington Close another vehicle tyre has been slashed at this stage we cannot rule out the foxes return and criminal damage to a property in Brampton road the front door window had been smashed; Theft from motor vehicle in Pickford lane cash stolen from an unlocked vehicles glove box; Theft of a motor vehicle in Pickford lane. This week we had meetings with neighbours , ward panel and Brampton councillors which were all very productive. Please follow us on twitter @MPSBrampton". Crayford ward:- "A number plate was pulled off a car parked at Screwfix on Friday 10/11/2017 between 07.00 and 09.00. A van was scratched along the front and side in Station Road between 04/11/2017 - 07/11/2017. There has been an increase in shoplifting. A lady had her purse stolen from her coat pocket at Aldi on Saturday 11/11/2017 between 16.00-16.20. We would ask that you are vigilant, keeping wallets and purses secured and out of sight. Please shield your pin number when using chip and pin or ATM machines. On Monday 20th November we will be at Darlton Hall at Darlton Close from 17.00-18.30 holding a “one stop cop shop”. This venue is close to Perry Street roundabout. We look forward to meeting our residents there".  Erith ward:- " Normal walks and patrols around the ward this week. Nothing of note to say this week. Next survey is 25/11/17 at 11am which will include bike marking - location is Pier Road Police base (next door to Farm Foods) . Weekly crime reports - We are still getting a lot of theft from MV [motor vehicles] please make sure nothing is on show including sat nav holders". Lesnes Abbey ward:- "From a Neighbourhood Watch Member in Fendyke Road - Just had a call from 01258963258 a 'Alan Watson' (although the name didn't match the accent) claiming to be from Talk Talk. He advised my IP address was being hacked and used to download lots of stuff. I calmly told him I would ring TalkTalk myself and he said I was silly not to believe him and he would cut me off to prove it (that old chestnut!). Said I would ring from mobile. I've since reported to TalkTalk and they've confirmed scam etc". North End ward:- " 3 more vehicle crimes have been reported this week. This is down on last week but 2 of them were items taken that were left on display inside the car. Please remember to remove all valuable items from your vehicles and leave nothing on display - phones, sat-navs, bags etc. We assisted with patrols on Bexleyheath Broadway last Friday evening. PC Mark Brookes-Smith had a successful foot chase culminating in multiple searches and a cannabis seizure. Excellent work. We visited a vulnerable adult at his home with various partner agencies and plans are already in place to get him the care he needs with our support. We have a surgery next Tuesday 21 November at Slade Green Library from 12 midday. Please come along and say hi".  Northumberland Heath ward:- "A fairly quiet week on the ward this week with only one attempted burglary reported to us in Hurlingham Road. On Thursday November 9th at approximately 6.15pm a male put his hand inside the letterbox at the address and the resident believed that a leaflet was being delivered. The suspect then tried the door handle several times and stood outside the address before walking away unwrapping what appeared to be a bandage from his hand. One criminal damage to a motor vehicle in Horsa Road on Friday November 10th where a vehicle was scratched causing £200 worth of damage. A cannabis warning form was issued to a man in Lawrence Road on Tuesday November 14th after a man was seen by officers smoking cannabis in his car. A charge is also to be issued to a youth who has recently breached a Criminal Behaviour Order after being stopped by officers". Thamesmead East ward:- "Good News, no burglary reported this week, however please see below regarding motor vehicle crime. Theft of Motor Vehicle – Tuesday 07/11/17 08:00 -12:00 hrs KALE ROAD Silver MAZDA. Theft from Motor vehicle – Tuesday 07/11/17 – 09/11/17 LYTHAM CLOSE Number Plates. The next Police Surgery will be held on Friday 24th November 2017 2:30 – 3:15pm at New Acres Library. We are always interested in recruiting new Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators for the ward. Please ask your family and friends if they would like to set up a Neighbourhood watch in their road. Please spread the word to any family and friends in the Borough - they can contact us on 020 8721 2049 or Thamesmead.SNT@met.police.uk for more information. For the latest news and updates from Bexley Police, visit our twitter pages - @MPSBexley and @MPSThamesmeadE".

Wellingtons (Erith) Ltd is a family owned retailer established in 1898. Andrew Wellington and his team specialise in the sale of freestanding and built-in appliances, cookers, TV and home entertainment systems.  The family have retailed in Northumberland Heath for 119 years and is now in its 4th generation of ownership. As many will know I like to use and promote independent local businesses whenever possible. The end video is a short film about Wellingtons - leave a comment below, or alternatively Email me at hugh.neal@gmail.com.