used to take a close interest in the goings on in Wilton Road, the little
shopping centre to the south of Abbey Wood station. Not so much these days but I can still be seen there at least twice a day -
maybe only once on Sunday - and I know a good number of the shopkeepers by name.
Over the years I have seen the occasional incident I would rather not but I guess you would say the same about any urban shopping street. I’ve been asked for 20 pence occasionally and the price seems to have crept up to 50 pence. I have been approached once in the whole of this year and seen absolutely nothing untoward except that the road is frequently deserted.
I have never once felt unsafe although I accept that some of the black guys like to stand around talking and joking with a can of beer in their hand. One is my next door neighbour and he is a perfectly decent father of three.
There are probably drug users close by but I only once smelled cannabis. Itֹ’s just an urban backwater where traders struggle to attract passers’ by, especially since the new Crossrail station began to direct passengers in alternative directions. Until recently they all exited into Wilton Road.
So the shopkeepers could do without the Facebook wars which keep breaking out. Four times in the past fortnight massive slanging matches have broken out on Facebook between mostly female protagonists. Probably they have the best of intentions, some are very new to the area and because Wilton Road is not perfect they want to drive even more punters away.
According to them it is a den of iniquity with men leering, swearing, drinking, begging, spitting, urinating and getting a good seeing to in quiet corners by ladies of ill repute. All of that could be read on Facebook recently except that the Administrator deleted the main thread.
But there are others. Someone set up a surveymonkey full of leading questions encouraging adverse reports and by all accounts found a large proportion of visitors felt at least a little unsafe.
The object is to get the betting shops closed down because they attract undesirables. One is my Chinese friend who likes to while away his time on the horses.
If that fails they want to take away the convenience stores’ alcohol licences to stop them selling “strong beer”. But by agreement with both Councils they don’t sell strong beers. Perhaps Sainsbury’s does.
What is it with these people that they want to put honest people out of work? The betting shop managers quickly clamp down on any dubious behaviour and will occasionally call the police who turn up six hours later. That’s a fact, I have his accounts audio recorded.
Because the police haven’t seen much of a problem neither Council will be doing much about what doesn’t occur very often. Nothing is likely to happen. The Councils are in a near impossible situation caught between those who see little or no problem and those who claim the street is a no-go area.
Because the Councils have no money and do not see much of a problem - probably rightly - yet another Facebook thread has been created today. It is asking people to crowd fund private security patrols.
It is madness.
I no longer participate in the Facebook discussions, not that such a civilised word accurately describes what goes on there. Last week one of the prominent FB ladies warned those with alternative views strongly expressed that she would report them to the police for “Malicious communications” and claimed that the police had already told her that they would take such reports seriously.
More madness but in police state Britain I can believe that.