There were perhaps three reasons why there was no blog yesterday. Time was
wasted doing battle with Newham Council’s Social Services again. I really cannot
believe how incompetent they are and callous in their attitude to the elderly -
not me, my 96 year old aunt - and I was invited out to dinner by a BiB reader,
and very good it was too.
But the main reason for the gap was that far too much time was wasted wondering how I could relate a conversation overheard locally which might illustrate how our borough, or maybe it is just the neglected north, is quickly going down the pan. Unfortunately that conversation came to a rapid halt when someone shouted “racist” and I didn’t want to risk the same.
Suffice to say the subject was the frequently bad behaviour one can see in and around Abbey Wood. There is the shouting and hollering, often into a mobile phone and peppered with profanities, outside Cabinet Member Peter Craske’s beloved betting shops. And the urinating against walls, defecation in shop doorways, and the spitting which is all too common. I have seen one black bum, one white willy and mid-European expectoration all within the past two or three weeks.
The somewhat heated conversation was over whether these growing problems are indicative of a general lowering of standards or the multiculturalism which no one is allowed to discuss. For the record the white willy waver was almost certainly English, he grunted an apology at me as I passed by.
However I suspect some of it is cultural. The house next door to me was bought ten years ago by someone who had come from a country where gardens are probably not for ordinary folk. In all of those years they have never once trimmed their hedge or cut the front lawn. I have had to do it (carefully avoiding the supermarket trolley and the hose reel left there by the previous owner) and their back lawn has never been cut except by me or the neighbour on the other side.
This morning my brown bin was emptied and none of its content was my own.
When two trees became dangerously overgrown it was me who had to pay to have them removed.
Last October half next door’s fence blew down and at Easter the rest of it went. It still lies where it fell.
My enthusiasm for multiculturalism may be on the wane but that is not all of what the aforesaid argument was about.
The fear was that the money to be spent on Abbey Wood’s Wilton Road will do little to arrest the decline of the public realm because those who frequent it will neither appreciate it or respect it.
Fly tipping is a daily phenomenon and fortunately, for the most part, Bexley’s special collection service is almost as frequent. Not so frequent, unfortunately, is the general litter collection and bin emptying which has been subjected to severe budgetary cuts.
The theory is that smartening up the area will, with the help of Crossrail, bring in a better class of shopper. It could do, but where will the present crop of degenerates go?
Although the shop front improvements that the two Councils have organised will not start to appear until the middle of July, one sign (pun unintended) of it can already be seen.
There is a temporary name plate above the cab office. Why the old sign couldn’t stay there until the new one was ready, no one knows but probably someone would have made a small profit from an additional dip into public funds.
Much more attractive is the hairdresser’s shop. The owner didn’t like the plans proposed by Bexley Council and their agents. She thought she could do something better and cheaper and more in keeping with premises that have been there since 1895.
Not yet finished but It is already looking quite magnificent and will likely put the rest of the Council approved aluminium, plastic and glass to shame.
Existing signs are due for a move but the ironmongery on the left and currently painted green will have to stay. It is there on the instructions of the insurance company after petrol was poured through the letter box and ignited.
As the combatants in the original argument were saying, you see some nice people in Abbey Wood.