Vic Keegan’s Lost London 66: The statue that was too big for its boots

At nine metres high, the Duke of Wellington statue built to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Waterloo was the largest equestrian statue in Britain. Designed by Decimus Burton and built out of metal from cannon captured during the Napoleonic Wars, it was placed on top of what was originally called the Green Park Arch, another Burton design, at Hyde Park Corner in 1846. It isn’t there any more.

The statue’s great size attracted widespread hostility. The Duke himself, who was also twice Prime Minister and three times leader of the Lords, felt rather differently, and the statue was deferentially left in place until 30 years after his death in 1852. When the arch, now known as the Wellington Arch or Constitution Arch, was moved about 100 yards to its present location in 1882-83, the giant statue was not replaced, and in 1885, it was moved to a new site near the garrison church in Aldershot, where it still stands today. 

In London a smaller – though still large – statue of the Duke on horseback was positioned nearby, opposite his residence, Number One, London while the arch is now topped by a four-horse chariot or quadriga. There was a second Burton arch in vicinity of the first. That too was relocated. Today, we know it as Marble Arch. As for Wellington, he left his mark on the English language as well as the battlefield and politics. It was he who coinde the phrase “public and be damned” in response to a mistress threatening to spill the beans.

Categories: Culture, Lost London

Kafui Okpattah: Is British journalism too Londony?

Channel 4 recently announced that it will be setting up a new headquarters in Leeds in addition to its established one in London. The British broadcaster gave its reason for this move as “an attempt to boost the way it reflects life outside of London”.

The move to the West Yorkshire city has more than just geographical implications. It also raises some very important questions about the state of British journalism today and its efforts to represent all groups in society. Is journalism too white? Is journalism elitist? And most importantly, is British journalism too Londony?

The 21st century public and political sphere is one of stark polarisation – a diversity of hard-line views and opinions with very little shouting room for “the liberals” in the middle. The success of populist regimes in the US, Germany, Brazil and the vote for Brexit here in Britain are proof enough. Journalists today are faced with a rather arduous balancing act of trying to represent all sides of the debate without appearing to be paying too much homage to one particular view. The strict code of impartiality enforced by the Office of Communications makes this almost impossible for broadcasters in particular.

As well as the problem of impartiality, journalists face the problem of representation. Many criticise the “mainstream media” of having a bias towards fairness. Coverage of Brexit is a good example. You will often hear the process of exiting the European Union being spoken of in the context of Remainers and Leavers with very little emphasis placed on the more nuanced positions in between. The assumption here is that there are two sides to every story, and while this might be the view expressed in the capital, it certainly isn’t the case in the other 69 cities in the UK where there may be eight, nine or even ten sides to a story.

Channel 4 has no doubt recognised the industry’s failed attempts at diverse reporting and the office in Leeds is an attempt to tackle the problem. Unfortunately, news migration simply isn’t enough – a building doesn’t make the news, the people in it do.

London is to young journalists what Los Angeles is to young actors. Many student journalists have dreams of spending their summers interning in the glossy red newsrooms of Broadcasting House in Langham Place. After some three weeks of experiencing the rush that a London newsroom brings, those dreams of an internship become the realities of spending the next ten years taking the London Underground to work every morning. The dreamers and graduates come from a range of different backgrounds – rich and poor, white and, like myself, black, and so you would at least expect the capital’s newsrooms to reflect the city’s diverse culture. But the reality could not be more different.

London in one of the most expensive cities in the world, so cost of living is one of the biggest barriers of entry for young aspiring journalists. Already facing a crippling student debt, graduates are also met with overbearing travel costs, unreasonably high coffee prices, and an average rent price of £1,250 a month with no guarantee of a professional salary. Some are willing to take the plunge into uncertainty, because speaking truth to power and preserving democracy far outstrips any personal financial struggle they might have to go through – these sadly, are the minority.

There are also those who are unfazed by the financial burden because, as the latest study by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) has revealed, they come from homes where their parents work in one of the top three professions. For such graduates, money is not an issue. Sadly, they are the majority. Then there are those who come from homes where want, struggle and squalor are all too common. For them, the prospect of returning to such circumstances, having just spent the past three years bending over backwards to wrap their heads around media law and shorthand, is undesirable. These are the graduates who best reflect the silent working-class majority in Britain, yet they are the minority in London newsrooms.

Setting up a newsroom to less expensive cities, as Channel 4 has done, is a step in the right direction and leaves me feeling optimistic. However, too many employers in the capital fail to match their efforts to diversify with financial support for students to make it happen. Too many talented young journalists are slipping through the cracks of London’s pavements because they have no sponsor.

Newsrooms in the capital must and should do more to support the upcoming generation of journalists or risk losing them altogether. We are already seeing young viewers turning away from the news. The average age of those who watch TV news at ten o’clock is 62. A simple solution to this heartbreaking statistic is to employ younger broadcasters and reporters – people12-25 year-olds can actually relate to.

More needs to be done to diversify our London newsrooms, not just in terms of age but also the ethnic and social-economic backgrounds of their reporters. Failure to do this will result in a return to the 18th century, where the news served only the elite.

Categories: Culture

Met Police slammed for ‘multiple and serious’ failures in use of gangs database

The Metropolitan Police Service has been given six months to get its use of its Gangs Matrix database into line with data protection rules after an investigation found it was “unclear and inconsistently applied”, confusing for those using it, and lacked “effective central governance” for several years, resulting in “risk of damage or distress” to people on it.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued an enforcement notice, compelling the Met to comply with data protection laws in future after acting on concerns raised in October 2017 by Amnesty International.

The Gangs Matrix records the full names, dates of birth and home addresses of alleged gang members in the capital, along with intelligence about whether they are prolific firearms offenders or knife-carriers. It is compiled from the individual matrixes of the 32 boroughs into a London-wide intelligence pool.

The ICO identified a failure of the central matrix to “clearly distinguish between the approach to victims of gang-related crime and the perpetrators” and a failure to distinguish between people assessed as high risk and low risk, creating “the potential for disproportionate action to be taken against people no longer posing a risk”.

Other shortcomings included “an absence, over several years, of effective central governance, oversight or audit of data processed” which led to “risk of damage to distress” to people included on the database and a “blanket sharing” of information with “third parties” ungoverned by agreements about how the data should be handled and used.

It was also discovered that some boroughs had kept “informal” lists of people who had been removed from the Matrix because intelligence had shown they were no longer active gang members, and continued to monitor them anyway.

“Serious breaches of data protection laws” had “the potential to cause damage and distress to the disproportionate number of young, black men on the Matrix,” the ICO says, adding that the absence of an equality impact assessment meant the Met was unable to show that it had considered “issues of discrimination or equality of opportunity” in this context.

The ICO says that the Met already has an “action plan” underway to address its shortcomings and has stopped sharing Gangs Matrix personal data with third parties when there is no sharing agreement in place.

The ICO’s deputy information commissioner of operations, James Dipple-Johnstone, said that, “Clear and rigorous oversight and governance is essential, so the personal data of people on the database is protected and the community can have confidence that their information is being used in an appropriate way.”

London Assembly member Siân Berry, who has been supporting Amnesty’s work on the running of the Gangs Matrix, described the ICO findings and enforcement notice as “absolutely scathing”. The full enforcement notice can be read via here.

Categories: News

Leonie Cooper: London’s rivers are not immune to the scourge of plastic

The European Parliament last month passed legislation to introduce a wide-ranging ban on single use plastics that pollute our rivers, oceans and even our food chain. This is a vital step towards tackling the scourge of plastic. We in the UK need to follow suit if we want to clean up our environment after Brexit. But so far, we’ve not seen much willingness to do so from our national government.

The budget ruled out, at least for now, a tax on single-use, non-recyclable plastic packaging, proposing instead to tax only plastics with less than 30 per cent recycled content (so-called “virgin plastics”). Meanwhile, at least eight million tonnes of plastics leak into the world’s oceans each year. For Londoners, the devastating impacts are very close to home. Many fish in the Thames have ingested plastic fibres, notably the European flounder. Separate studies have found that 90 per cent and 75 per cent of this species are affected.

What can London do on its own to help protect the planet? There are sustainable alternatives to just throwing away so many of the products that pollute the oceans. Sadiq Khan and Thames Water have jointly pledged £5 million for installing hundreds of water fountains across the city, where people can re-fill plastic bottles rather than buying more. This builds on the roaring success of new fountains installed in the summer: more than 8,000 litres of drinking water, the equivalent of the contents of 16,000 individual bottles, were dispensed from the two at Liverpool Street station in less than one month. I hope to see more of these simple and effective ideas put into action.

Nationally, I want to see more responsibility placed on producers and manufacturers to cut down on their use of non-recyclable plastics. The UK could learn from Norway’s example. In addition to reducing plastic use in general, manufacturers there have transitioned to using using only two types of plastic, one of which is very easily recyclable. Consequently, Norway now recycles 98 per cent of its plastic waste. This is why the London Assembly environment committee, of which I am deputy chair, recently wrote to the Mayor, asking him to sign up to the UK’s “plastic pact” and therefore help encourage supermarkets to cut down on their use of plastic packaging.

The good news about national government is that it is running a consultation about banning the widespread use of many single-use plastics in the UK. I am confident that doing so would enjoy widespread support, and I urged everyone to respond to the consultation before it closes on 3 December. And the government needs to go further, by placing a comprehensive single-use plastic packaging tax back on the table. Those of us who watched Blue Planet II have the heart-breaking footage of a mother whale whose calf was killed by eating plastic etched on our memories. We can’t afford to wait any longer or we really will end up with more plastic than fish in our seas, oceans and rivers, including London’s own.

Leonie Cooper is the London Assembly Member for Merton & Wandsworth.

Categories: Comment

New London health care structures ‘yet to make a positive difference’, says King’s Fund report for Mayor

Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs), may be little-known, but as the NHS structures now overseeing health services across London they are powerful. And their record is variable at best, according to a hard-hitting report commissioned by Mayor Sadiq Khan from the King’s Fund think tank and published this week.

The London STPs were set up in 2016 as part of an England-wide restructure, bringing NHS organisations together with local authorities to manage and improve health and care services and to address “financial sustainability”.

Covering the five areas – North Central, North East, North West, South West and South East London – that have been used for NHS planning in the past, they cater between them for almost nine million residents. But progress on getting health and care systems working together has been slow, the King’s Fund report says, with the capital trailing behind other areas of England.

Challenges include London’s “complex and cluttered” systems – 32 clinical commissioning groups and 36 provider trusts alongside 33 local authorities, the Mayor of London, the London Health Board, London Health and Care Strategic Partnership Board and the Healthy London Partnership – and rushed implementation leading the STPs to be seen by many as a “toxic brand” set up to implement cuts.

Early proposals to cut hospital beds have now been dropped in the face of London’s growing and ageing population continuing to put pressure on services, but STP leaders have still had to spend much of their time on “strengthening relationships with organisations within the footprints, and addressing gaps in staff and public engagement” and they need to do more to demonstrate their impact, the report says.

With no statutory basis or formal authority to bring about change, STPs have also had to work within the 2012 Health and Care Act system, which dismantled strategic health authorities, including NHS London, and enshrined purchaser provider separation and competition between health organisations.

“STPs have yet to establish themselves as collaborations that can make a positive difference to the populations they serve. As coalitions of the willing, their impact hinges on the ability of partner organisations to find common cause”, the report finds.

Commenting on the report, King’s Fund chief executive Professor Sir Chris Ham highlights a major role for the Mayor in providing capital-wide leadership, including work on public health and more commitment from London’s local authorities. “Above all, each STP must develop a compelling vision that is widely shared and understood – and focused on using resources to improve health and care,” he concludes.

The future for London’s STPs remains uncertain. The imminent appointment of a new regional director for the NHS in London may prompt a fresh look at capital-wide strategies and structures, and the New Year will see new five-year plans responding to the Government’s pledge of £20.5 billion extra for the NHS by 2023/24, though the pledge does not include vital funding for social care.

Above all, London remains significantly exposed to Brexit, with 11 per cent of health workers and 13 per cent of care staff coming from Europe.

Categories: News

Kensington & Chelsea: residents will be ‘at the centre’ of new housing approach, says council’s deputy leader

Kensington & Chelsea Council must completely change the management and provision of housing in the royal borough (RBKC) in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, according to the council’s deputy leader.

In a speech last night, Kim Taylor-Smith, whose responsibilities include the housing elements of the Grenfell recovery programme, told a full council meeting that the tragedy has “shone a light on the way we manage our estates, on our relationship with our tenants” and “on how and where we build new homes.” It has “changed Kensington & Chelsea forever,” he said.

Launching a “green paper” discussion document on homes in the borough entitled Our Challenge, Your Solutions, Taylor-Smith identified the management of its own housing stock as his “principal theme” and said, “No longer is it acceptable for us to assume we know best.”

Residents have seen “some changes and some improvements to their services” since March, when the council took the management of housing back from the widely-criticised Kensington & Chelsea Tenants Management Organisation (KCTMO), he said, but added that the council is still a “long way” from the point where its performance could be judged “exemplary” by peers.

While expressing his firm hope that residents would want RBKC to manage their homes “forever,” he invited them to help “shape” and “co-design” a new system. The green paper says that residents have selected the community engagement company Traverse to “capture how residents want their homes to be managed, how repairs and major works should be done and by whom.” Taylor-Smith has told On London that a six-month backlog of 5,000 housing repairs has been cleared, thanks to the borough increasing its capacity for that work.

Other areas for discussion would be a charter written by residents, setting down the standards they expect the council as their landlord to meet and also those of their neighbours in order to end antisocial behaviour, and for consultations about how best to “refit and refurbish” existing properties. Taylor-Smith confirmed that a “remove and build” approach to regeneration is no longer part of council policy.

Stating that Kensington and Chelsea risks “becoming a borough only for the rich,” he said more “council and truly affordable homes” must be built, and announced plans for the council itself to build “300 new council homes” which would be financed by the building and sale of 300 others for private sale.

“Key workers,” too well off for social housing yet too poor to afford private rents, needed to be helped too, including by revitalising powers to take “temporary controls of dilapidate, long-term empty homes”. Taylor-Smith thanked Labour councillor Judith Blakeman for suggesting the idea and stressed that it is “not about sequestering private property.”

Responding the speech Monica Press, deputy leader of the opposition Labour Group, thanked Taylor-Smith for many of the potential measures included in the green paper, referring to him jovially as “Comrade Tory Kim,” in recognition that several of the approaches he is highlighting for discussion are being regarded as notably left wing. Labour councillors have played a part in developing new policy ideas.

Press said that the principle of resident-led solutions to the borough’s housing challenges is, “something we can all agree on” and that “we can look forward to working on together.” She welcomed what she called “a reversal of years of RBKC housing policy based on ideology and dogma” rather than “data and need.”

Press added that a consultation on the future of housing management is “going extremely well” and she welcomed Taylor-Smith’s preference for the council to manage its housing “on a permanent basis, if that is what the council residents want,” and the council’s desire to build its own homes on its own land. She urged it to directly employ “its own specialised procurement, contract management and surveying teams” in order to ensure the highest building standards.

Read RBKC’s “green paper” discussion document via here.

Categories: News

Haringey: Council and Lendlease agree settlement over scrapped joint venture scheme

Haringey Council and property developer Lendlease have reached an agreement to end their legal dispute over the Labour-run authority’s decision to drop plans made under its predecessor Labour administration to form a 50:50 joint venture company to redevelop council-owned land and property in the borough.

Lendlease had filed a claim against the council following its decision in July to drop to Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) plan, which would have seen the council transfer assets including offices and housing estates into the new company with a view to greatly expanding housing supply in the borough.

However, in a statement a Lendlease spokesperson said: “While we remain disappointed not to proceed with the HDV, which was fully out of our control, we have now agreed a settlement with the council. This enables us to move forward and work together on the High Road West scheme, which will bring much needed new homes, jobs and community facilities for the people of Haringey.”

The High Road West project in Tottenham, close to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club’s ground, is a regeneration programme agreed between the council and Lendlease and separately from the HDV in 2017. It has already entailed rehousing many residents of the Love Lane council-owned estate in advance of its proposed demolition and rebuilding.

Opposition to the HDV was the key mobilising issue for a successful campaign by members of Momentum and various non-Labour Far Left groups to remove sitting Labour councillors who supported it and replace them with councillors enthused by the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. Both the leader and deputy leader of the new Labour administration formed after May’s borough elections are members of Momentum national bodies.

However, despite jettisoning the HDV, the new “Corbyn Council” is encouraging remaining and newer, temporary, Love Lane residents to support continuing with the estate’s redevelopment by Lendlease in a forthcoming ballot. The settlement over the HDV, about which no details have yet been released, will be taken as an indication that the developer and the council leadership recognise a common interest in maintaining their existing partnership arrangements.

On Tuesday, the council’s cabinet confirmed that it will go ahead with the demolition of two housing blocks on its Broadwater Farm estate found to be unsafe without first balloting their residents, many of whom have already been rehoused elsewhere.

Due to the safety issue, the council is seeking an exemption from London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s requirement that residents’ support for regeneration schemes that entail the loss of existing social housing must be secured through a ballot if he is to help fund them.

The decision has been condemned by the opposition Liberal Democrat Group and by the Broadwater Farm Residents’ Association, both of which say residents should have been offered a choice between the demolition and replacement of their homes and a strengthening refurbishment of them, which the council believes would be too expensive.

This article initially said that the council had already secured a ballot exemption from Mayor Khan in relation to Broadwater Farm. In fact, it is still at the application stage. Apologies.

Categories: News

Caroline Pidgeon: the Met’s response to 999 calls is too slow and the Mayor should admit it

In recent months there have been numerous media reports about how long the police take to turn up to incidents. Is the Met responding properly to crimes that are reported to it via 999 calls?

Before I go any further, let me explain a few technical points.

Quite rightly, the police have a triage system for responding to 999 calls. Some calls are categorised as “I” (for “immediate”) calls. These are where the immediate presence of a police officer will have a significant impact on the outcome of the incident. Such incidents include danger to life, the use or immediate threat of use of violence, serious damage to property, and traffic collisions where the road is blocked or there is a dangerous or excessive build-up of traffic. The target for responding to these calls is 15 minutes.

Another category is “S” (for “significant”) calls. The majority of calls that require a police response attract this grade. Incidents it covers include those where an offender has been detained but is not aggressive, many types of road collisions, hate crimes, and situations where there is concern that a witness or evidence is likely to be lost. The target for responding to these calls is within one hour.

There are in fact two additional categories in this triage-type arrangement: “E” (for “extended”), where police attendance is required but can be dealt with by an appointment being set up with mutual agreement of the caller; and, finally, ”R” (for “referred”) calls, where the attendance of a police officer is not required at all, such as when telephone advice can be provided.

So, what is the situation on the ground? The most recent figures I have obtained cover response times up to the end of September of this year.

During September, the 15 minute target for “I” calls was not met in no less than 18 out of the 32 London boroughs. The worst response times for “I” calls were in Kingston, with an average response time of 22 minutes and 15 seconds rather than the target 15 minute maximum.

During the four months from June to September of this year the response times for “I” calls were not met in any one of those months in Bexley, Brent and Kingston. And it was not met in three of the four months in Barking & Dagenham, Croydon, Enfield, Hillingdon, Newham, Richmond and Westminster North (Westminster has two 999 response centres, North and South).

The response time targets to “S” calls are also being largely missed. In September, the one-hour target was  met in only seven boroughs. Incredibly, Havering, Kingston, Merton, Newham, Redbridge and Westminster South saw their average response times for “S” calls exceeding two hours – moe than double the target time. And in 23 boroughs the response target for “S” calls exceeded the one-hour target for four months in a row.

The full details for all the London boroughs can be seen here.

I fail to see how anyone can interpret these statistics as anything other than disturbing.

To phone the police, where the situation might even involve the risk of life and for the police to take over 22 minutes to turn up is simply unacceptable. That is the reality facing some Londoners. Yet when I have raised these statistics with London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Met Commissioner Cressida Dick, their reaction has been largely defensive.

The Commissioner, for example, claims that more staff are now being recruited and that this should lead to improvements in call handling.  The hot summer and the World Cup also created “moments of huge demand” she claims, yet this explanation hardly explains such poor response times in September.

However, it is the approach of the Mayor that I find most troubling.

He has conceded that there have been some specific response times problems when the New Basic Command Unit (BCU) was rolled out in Camden and Islington (BCU Central North) and also in Barking & Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge (BCU East). He even accepts that performance in responding to both ‘I’ and ‘S’ calls needs to improve across the capital in general.

However, instead of accepting in full how widespread and serious the problem is, he prefers to rebut any criticism of long delays in response time by instead quoting the percentage of calls answered within any targets. The problem with a percentage figure is it conveniently hides the huge range of response times, which tells a worse story. Quoting the percentage number of calls that are answered within a target time also fails to address the fact that there is a big difference between response times that just miss a target, and those that miss it by a mile.

Pressures on the Met are immense. Its workforce is overstretched and its budget needs to be increased. We are witnessing a rise in crime and especially violent crime in London. However, if the Met and Mayor are to turn things around, they should start by being honest about the poor experience too many Londoners face when they first engage with the police. Trying to put a favourable spin on the Met’s current record in responding to 999 calls is not helping anyone.

Caroline Pidgeon is a Liberal Democrat member of the London Assembly.

Categories: Comment

Earls Court: Sadiq Khan says housing estates must be saved and more ‘affordable’ homes delivered under any new regeneration plans

Sadiq Khan has warned that more affordable homes should be offered under any new plans for the stalled Earls Court redevelopment scheme and said that two housing estates under threat of demolition as part of the current plans should be “handed back entirely” to council ownership ahead of any alternative proposals for the site being brought forward.

In a statement to On London, Mayor Khan said: “Along with the overwhelming majority of the local community I have long had serious concerns about the direction of the Earls Court scheme, and particularly its inclusion of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates.”

He added that “a positive way forward would involve new plans that exclude the estates” and offered more housing than the existing ones, “particularly more social rented and other genuinely affordable homes” and “that ahead of of alternative plans being progressed and determined, the estates should be handed back entirely to the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.”

The London Mayor’s intervention in the controversial project comes as Capital & Counties (Capco), the property giant that has led it since its inception in 2009, is in discussions with Hong Kong company CK Asset Holdings to sell its interest in the 77-acre site. London Mayors have the power to seek amendments to or even take over for their own determination large planning applications that do not conform to their strategic policy objectives.

Planning consents for the main part of development area, which falls within the adjoining boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea, were granted by the two local authorities in November 2013 when both were Conservative controlled. The then Mayor, Boris Johnson, gave the scheme a green light, hailing the Earls Court Project as a “landmark scheme”.

However, progress has been slow due largely to a recent fall in demand for “prime” Central London dwellings, the advance sale of which was integral to the financial structure of the project, and there has been an energetic residents’ campaign to prevent the demolition of West Kensington and Gibbs Green and against the scheme as a whole, which has seen the destruction of the famous Earls Court exhibition centre but none of the proposed new housing built in its place. The political climate has also changed, with Labour controlling Hammersmith & Fulham since 2014 and pledging to get a better deal for the estates’ residents, and Khan succeeding Johnson at City Hall in 2016.

Amid deteriorating market conditions, Capco has been preparing to split the Earls Court part of its London operation from its profitable holdings in Covent Garden. A separate section of the Earls Court scheme called Lillie Square, which stands to the south of Lillie Road, would not be included in any future sale.

In his statement, Mayor Khan stressed his view that the two estates should be returned to Hammersmith & Fulham before any new planning application can be progressed in order to “ensure my concerns are addressed”. The estates are currently subject to a conditional land sale agreement (CLSA) made in 2013 between Capco and the borough’s previous Tory administration, under which ownership of parts of the estates would be successively transferred to Capco once replacement dwellings for residents had been built elsewhere in the development area. The Tories had accepted a total offer of £105 million for the estates land.

The Mayor’s intervention will be seen as effectively signalling to Capco and to CK Asset Holdings and any other potential buyers that the GLA will not play ball unless the CLSA is torn up and an ensuing planning application includes a far higher proportion of additional social rented and other “genuinely affordable” new homes in the area than the one in place at present, he will step in to prevent it being consented in that form.

With replacement homes for those on the 760 on the two estates taken out the equation, the additional “affordable” housing Capco’s current plan envisages amounts to just 11% of the total number of new homes – 740 in all. Khan has a policy of fast-tracking schemes which propose a minimum of 35% “genuinely affordable” homes but “viability testing” those that don’t.

Hammersmith & Fulham leader Stephen Cowan claimed earlier this year that he and Capco chief executive Ian Hawksworth had reached agreement over the estates’ return, something Capco disputes.

A potentially complicating aspect of any sale of its Earls Court assets by Capco is that in 2014 it formed a joint venture company with Transport for London to redevelop the exhibition centre part of the site. It is thought that as the smaller of the two partners, TfL would have little say in what Capco did with its share, though the situation is presently unclear.

Were a future Earls Court application called in by City Hall, the decision about it would, in practice, be likely to be delegated to the deputy mayor for planning, Jules Pipe, because the Mayor himself would be deemed to have a conflict of interest as he is chair of the TfL board. Another section of the site, the Lillie Bridge London Underground maintenance depot, which is as yet unaffected by the regeneration, is also owned by TfL.

Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith who has backed the campaign to save the “Peoples’ Estates” from the start, expressed delight at Mayor Khan’s view about West Kensington and Gibbs Green, saying that “over 2,000 of my constituents have lived with the threat and fear of losing their homes for a decade thank to a cynical deal between Capco and the previous Conservative-controlled council in alliance with Boris Johnson.”

Categories: News

Number of low paid Londoners is highest ever, says Trust for London

There are more Londoners in jobs paying less than the hourly London Living Wage than ever previously recorded, according to figures newly compiled by the publishers of London’s most comprehensive survey of poverty.

Trust for London, which works with the New Policy Institute think tank to produce London’s authoritative Poverty Profile, has estimated that the number of working Londoners receiving less than the current London Living Wage of £10.20 an hour is 760,000, an increase of 60,000 compared with the equivalent figure for 2017.

The proportion of Londoners in the capital’s workforce has also risen to just over one in five employees (22.5 per cent), following two years in which that figure has fallen. There had previously been sharp increases, with rises from 14 per cent to 22 per cent between 2010 and 2015.

Trust for London attributes the renewed hikes in low pay numbers and percentages to “a higher share of full-time jobs paying below the voluntary rate, which is based what Londoners need to meet a basic standard of living in the high-cost capital and is significantly higher the the statutory national minimum wage.

Around 30,000 full time jobs, 14 per cent of them, currently pay less than the London Living Wage rate, the Trust says. The proportion of low-paid part-time jobs has not changed, though it continues to account for a far higher number. About 47 per cent of all part-time jobs in London are low-paid, according the Trust.

Low paid job percentages in the rest of the UK also rose between 2017 and 2018, but by the smaller amount of 0.5 percent to the lower level of 20.3 per cent. Trust for London notes that the figures it has calculated “differ slightly” from the more detailed data available to the Office for National Statistics, but that calculating its own figures on the same basis as previous years enables it to make more year-by-year and other comparisons.



Categories: News