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London

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Grenfell Requires Answers!


A second tragedy has befallen London in the last few days. We all woke on Wednesday to see the most distressing scenes of a towering inferno in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Lancaster West area of London.
Although the extent of such a tragedy was difficult to comprehend it was by many residents a disaster almost waiting to happen, and even followed a report by Housing regulation inspectors into the blocks refurbishment following  concerns of the safety of the building that saw gas pipes in communal areas bare, a complete lack of fire sprinklers and the use a lower grade of building cladding provided to the exterior of the building.
Of course, you may be as shocked as I was at the fire, and it’s ferocity and we as a country share deepest sympathy and grief for all either who perished and their families and also for the survivors who are rebuilding their lives after such a disaster.
My question goes out to KCTMO the landlord involved and concerned with this particular housing disaster, why did they sign the refurbishment as satisfactory when important safety requirements were not met? Why after 72 hours did the Prime Minister only first start to address residents and the local community about the disaster and does she really expect that the £5 million will be adequate to the survivors (we do not know yet the numbers who perished and those who survived) who now must rehouse themselves and rebuild their lives? Why did Kensington and Chelsea Housing Chiefs today not address the local community or provide any assistance in knowing the estimated number of tenants involved?
Below are the scenes we have witnessed over the last couple of days that will haunt people and which now demand a total long-awaited overhaul of  Housing Safety.
David Lammy MP for Tottenham who lost a close friend he described who perished in the disaster was a “young person with a beautiful life ahead”.  Paying tribute to his friend Khadija Saye, he continued: “She was a young black woman making her way in this country. […] She’d done amazing things — gone to university, the best in her life — but she’s died, with her mother, on the 22nd floor of the building. And it breaks my heart, that it’s happening in Britain in 2017.”

He added the stark warning for those who profit from the misery of social injustice:“This is a tale of two cities. This is what Dickens was writing about in the century before last, and it’s still here in 2017.”

“Giving the poorest and most vulnerable ‘somewhere decent to live’ was a noble idea that is falling apart around our eyes”

 

On Sunday 18th June 2017 the current Government announced a payment relief of only £5,500 for all families living in the Grenfell Tower this will be paid as a £500 cash emergency payment and the remainder expected to be paid by the Department for Work and Pensions into survivor’s back accounts to cover the immediate cost of food; emergency housing associated costs, burial costs and getting clothes and possibly furniture and living requirements. This payment is thought to be made payable immediately to the family members who have survived, but is only this blog calculates a small figure of the £5 million promised initially (calculating and taking into consideration the 127 flats in Grenfell would see this as only a payment of 680,000 towards the figure of £5 million the PM originally said would be set apart towards the residents, thus this blog sees that £5,500 is actually quite poor to help these families.)

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Margaret Thatcher’s Funeral & Boston Bombing


Margaret Thatcher funeral rehearsalThe funeral of Margaret Thatcher in light of the boston bombing will take place and already tight security is almost inevitably going to be the order of the day. Not that this was not going to be expected with the death of a woman who while by some was personally despised and hated for her political policies while in power over her three terms in office as Prime Minister.

The worry for those involved in the security for her funeral tomorrow following yesterday’s bombs in the Boston Marathon.

Image: Explosions At 117th Boston Marathon

Scotland Yard says more than 4,000 officers will be deployed for the funeral of Baroness Lady Thatcher, and they will surely be addressing concern for the safety and security for anyone attending the high-profile event.

Central London is expected to be on lockdown for the funeral procession, with a police officers visible every few yards of the route. Doubtless other areas where the former premier has connections, such as Finchley and the town of Grantham will have been also considered London.

Hundreds of security police officers will be kept “kitted up” which though not unusual for state occasions and important events (including the burial of the longest British PM in peacetime and first and currently only female PM) and even where the scale of such events require handling security in such a way as being on alert to rush to flashpoints across the City if this is required as part of a major security operation the bombing of Boston yesterday will probably increase the Police and security forces worry as it will be attended by the Queen, prime minister and foreign dignitaries.

Following the attacks on Boston, President Obama is not expected to attend the ceremony funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral tomorrow afternoon. There will be representatives from the US Government though.

It is expected that bells of Big Ben and the Great Clock at Westminster are to be silenced as a mark of respect during Wednesday’s ceremonial funeral for Lady Thatcher, the speaker of the House of Commons today announced. The last time the bells were silenced was during the funeral of Winston Churchill in 1965.

There has been unease about the scale of the funeral and many people are concerned about the cost of the event which is expected to be costing the taxpayer an estimated £10 million.

In a statement, The Metropolitan police’s Commander Christine Jones said despite the security concerns, protests against the Thatcher legacy would be allowed. The Police have asked members of the public who are planning demonstrations to contact them to inform them of their actions in accordance with the law to announce large assembly (co-incidentally a legal legacy of a Thatcherism that dealt with spontaneous assembly to combat flying pickets).

Today worldwide television and satellite companies have been setting up their broadcasting equipment and vehicles in anticipation of  ceremony.

Update: The ceremony took place peacefully and with little protest on Wednesday as the following report shows:

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Big Ben to be silenced for Margaret Thatcher funeral as mark of respect (standard.co.uk)

Assange Requests Ecuadorian Asylum


assange_seeks_refuge_equadorJulian Assange has formally requested asylum in Ecuador in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces an investigation for rape and sexual molestation.

Assange, the bombastic founder of Wikileaks, fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Tuesday. He had been under house arrest in England while awaiting the outcome of an appeal of his extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors wish to question Assange.

Assange had appealed his extradition to the European Court of Justice after losing on appeal in the Supreme Court of England, but the European Court had not yet decided whether to take up the appeal. Assange is supposed to be extradited to Stockholm by June 28.

Swedish prosecutors wish to interview Assange about two cases of alleged rape and sexual molestation, in which Assange allegedly refused to wear a condom as requested by his partners, and hid the fact until they were done with intercourse. Assange has claimed he is innocent of all charges, and that the case is nothing but a smear campaign orchestrated by the Pentagon.  Assange has also complained of Sweden’s tough anti-rape laws, calling the Scandinavian country the “Saudi Arabia of feminism.”

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/assange-requests-asylum-in-ecuador.html#ixzz1yL6xiJV9

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Royal Flotilla


Among the highlights of the Queen‘s diamond jubilee celebrations this weekend was the grand river pageant on the river Thames.

Over 1,000 gaily decorated private boats were present on the Thames, creating a seven-mile flotilla. The pre-event buzz and thousands of visitors flocked to the banks – including the Thames Embankment to view the spectacular event.

The cost of the River Pageant said to run to approximately £12 million, plus £2 million in VAT. And although television historian David Starkey described the flotilla as “lunacy”, and warns that the queen may not favour exuberant celebrations, but it’s unlikely such criticism is likely to have much effect on those out today watching the Thames Diamond Jubilee Flotilla. Yesterday the Queen was in Ascot.

In London it’s estimated 3000 plus street parties took place with many more across the South of England and also in the North. The Bank holiday will conclude on Tuesday.

Video : Associated Press

Olympic Torch Arrives in Britain


This is a picture of Ben Ainslie the triple Olympic gold medalist who received the Olympic flame carried in a lantern to Lands End by the Royal Navy. He was the first of the 1000 torch bearers to carry the torch in its 8,000 mile relay across Britain and should arrive in London to open the 2012 London Olympics in 70 days time.

The BBC and ITV News teams both filmed the event and the BBC also filmed what looked like a security incident where torch bearer security prevented a member of the public who tried running next to the torch bearer.

It is due to be carried through Cornwall and into Devon, where it’s expected to reach Plymouth Hoe tonight.

The relay torch bearers both young and old, are members of the public chosen for their achievements and community activity with each torch-bearer running  300m with the torch before passing the olympic flame to another bearer’s torch.

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Ken moved by Londoner’s plea


Ken Livingstone showed a very caring and emotional side of himself as he was overcome by watching a video by Londoner‘s backing his campaign. In the video members of the public implored him to do the best for London, should he become London Mayor a second time. One member of the public said in the promotional video ‘Go on Ken – do it for London!’

Mr. Livingstone who was visibly moved by the video, speaking to the Telegraph newspaper said that if he lost the electoral campaign that he would not stand again and that he would go back to doing his radio programme but added recounting his childhood :

‘if I lose the opportunity to help millions of ordinary Londoners for whom every day is now a terrible struggle. I grew up in that post-war Britain where parents had to count every penny, everything had to be used, it was a real struggle, and we are back in that world. If I fail to do that, it’s a guilt I carry to my grave. I want the chance to make life better for ordinary Londoners.’

He also has previously criticised Boris Johnson, the current Mayor, for not being present during the time that the London riots were taking place – as he had been on holiday – Mr. Livingstone saying that he had failed Londoners at their time of greatest need as their Mayor.

Ed Miliband who was also present during the screening of the video patted an overcome Ken Livingstone in support for his campaign for mayor.

For more information and to support Ken Livingstone in his campaign to be Mayor of London again please visit  http://www.kenlivingstone.com/home

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Mayor Tax Debate Rages


After last nights promice on Newsnight – the four main (Conservative, LibDem, Labour and Green Party) hopefuls for the London Mayor election have each produced details of their income and taxes. There now however is speculation over the transparency of the details produced and in particular the delay in Ken Livingstone producing his tax and income details.

GuidoFawkes.com has implied that the figures produced by the Labour candidate are only a partial summary of his income/taxes stating that it is based on personal tax/income and not his company’s tax details in full (Guido Fawkes) and that the figures were not produced by an accountant but by a former member of his team; his Climate Advisor, when he was Mayor of London.

It also raises concern over why he is paying himself through dividends rather than a salary and questioning whether Ken has been taking advantage of the National Insurance exemption in doing this.

LibDem hopeful Brian Paddick not only produced his full tax return over the last three years but in a slight oversight in his attempt to produce these figures neglected to shield the details of his personal National Insurance and home address for the public to view. Boris Johnson also had produced his tax details  showing he paid 45.1 per cent of his income in tax in 2010/2011, a rise from 36.8 per cent in 2009/10.

On the Ken4London site the following statement has been produced to cut fares has been produced and a letter from his team to the parties concerning the details of Ken’s income and tax posted as this article goes to press.

The spectator online magazine have accused the Ken and his Labour team of silence in the delay of the details accusing his team of not answering the why the details were not ealier forthcoming. The Labour team had put out the following statement

‘We believe household publication is necessary for full disclosure as the question of Ken’s income and his wife’s income and their tax has been central the coverage of this issue. Publication of Ken’s returns alone will not address many of the questions that have been raised. The only way to answer all the questions about this issue and to move the debate on the real issues facing London is for full household income disclosure. This should apply to all the candidates equally to avoid any further questions about the income and tax affairs that may or may not be applicable to them through their households. The same principles need to be applied to all the candidates if this process is to be seen as open and fair.”

The Liver Run


Cromwell Hospital

This  enthralling piece of footage is the second part of the crucial delivery of a donor liver by the Metropolitan Police.

The liver was collected from Stanstead Airport by the Essex police on its first part of its journey – however the Metropolitan police had the unenviable task of navigating into London to the Cromwell Hospital

The journey begins from Junction 7 by two Metropolitan police Rover SD1 3500s. The two cars(one a back-up) speed Southbound into London. At times their speeds peak at  120 Mph .

The journey  was made in 30 mins with just 5 minutes to spare and described as one of the finest examples of police driving under pressure ever captured on video.

Around 50 police officers were used to help transport the liver. These were mainly posted in advance to road junctions to stop the traffic as the liver run approached.

When driving through The City area of London, two motorbikes from the City of London police helped escort the Metropolitan police cars.

Wheelchair Demo in London


Today protesters have gathered in the West End to campaign against the government’s welfare reform bill. Oxford Street, Regent Street and Oxford Circus have been brought to a standstill as people in wheelchairs chained themselves together.

Campaigners from disability groups and direct action group UK Uncut chanted and waved banners and banged drums blocking off Regent Street and the demonstration is believed to have caused traffic jams in London’s West End as fifteen people in wheelchairs chained themselves to railings and eventually were joined by hundreds of others to campaign against the Government’s Welfare Reform.

Campaigners believe that hundreds of thousands of families will lose their homes or become “imprisoned” inside them. Josie McDermott, a 32-year-old UK Uncut supporter, said: “The welfare reform bill is cruel and unnecessary”  and added “..this protest is an essential way to persuade the government to scrap its plans.”

Campaigners believe that the Government is choosing to pick on marginalised groups of people in the UK, in trying to pay back the economic UK deficit rather than focussing on the large bonuses and companies that they believe continue to avoid tax to the estimated amount of £25bn.

“It is typical bully tactics by the government to force marginalised people in society to pay for the economic downturn” one campaigner said.

A spokesperson for the Government said that they will continue to spend more than £40bn a year on disabled people, and that they are committed to supporting disabled people in the UK.

The bill will not affect households  where someone receives disability living allowance, as they will be exempt from the benefit cap the Government has pledged, and they have also said that an extra £190 million will be given to local authorities over a four year period to ensure vulnerable people are supported through the housing benefit reform to ensure that disabled people will not lose their homes.

Children in Need


BBC Children in Need is now here again  – so give what you can afford!

If you can’t afford to give – try to do something to help  – remember every £5 raised and donated is given by the BBC to children both in the UK and overseas

Sky News

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