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Council buys more electric vans in 'green capital' plan

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Barking and Dagenham Council has bought another three electric cars as part of a £10million plan to become the ‘”green capital of the Capital”.

The borough’s parking services will now use three all-electric Renault Kango Crew vans, which produce zero emissions.

It follows the town hall purchasing four £17,000 all-electric vans to be used by maintenance managers in 2019 and the council declaring an climate emergency last week.

The vans can travel 100 miles on a single charge, which the town hall claims will save £11,000 a year in full costs.

However, Barking and Dagenham still only has 20 publicly available charge points for electric vehicles – one of the lowest numbers in London.

Councillor Margaret Mullane, cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, said: “We all want to make Barking and Dagenham a cleaner place to live and that includes the air that we breath.

“We know that we can make a start by looking at how the council’s fleet contribute to air quality and making the switch, as we have done, to using electric vehicles where possible – especially as it can save in costs in the long run too.”

Arrest after mosque stabbing

A man has been stabbed at Regent's Park mosque in north London mosque this afternoon.

His attacker has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. The condition of the victim is not yet known.

The attack happened just after 15:00.

Arrest after stabbing at north London mosque

Reports are coming in of a knife incident at Regent's Park Mosque in north London.

More soon.

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Support service for parents who lose baby

Parents who suffer the trauma of losing a baby during pregnancy or birth are being offered free support from a specialist bereavement counsellor at St Thomas’ Hospital.

Guys and St Thomas' Hospital
Baby Astrid, who was born after Emily Dent lost her son aged 21 weeks

St Thomas’ has become the eighth hospital in the UK to partner with the baby loss counselling charity, Petals.

Emily Dent, from Kennington in south London, received their support after she lost her son, Erik, at 21 weeks in 2018.

She was also offered counselling sessions when she was pregnant again with her daughter, Astrid, who is now four months old.

Emily said: “Having someone there to talk to who was totally disconnected from my life really helped me to process something pretty traumatic.

Debbie Bridgewater, matron for the high risk team at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: "Our bereavement midwives are there to support families going through this difficult time, and the new Petals counselling service will help us to provide even better care.”

Facial recognition technology used on Oxford Street

Police have been using live facial recognition technology in the form of van-mounted cameras near Oxford Circus this morning.

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The surveillance has been criticised by civil liberties and privacy campaigners since its roll-out was announced last month.

A photograph of a dark blue van, next to a sign reading "Police live facial recognition in use", taken near Oxford Circus was later posted on Twitter by UK civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, who described the identity checks as "alarming".

People scanned by the cameras are checked against "watchlists" of suspects wanted by police and the courts and approached by officers if there is a match.

The Met claims that the technology has a very low failure rate but research from the University of Essex said the tech only achieved eight correct matches out of 42 across six trials it evaluated.

Man found with fatal head injuries in Chelsea is named

A man found dead at a property in Chelsea as been named as James Dowdell by police.

The 54-year-old who was found with severe head injuries was pronounced dead at the scene by the London Ambulance Service.

A post-mortem examination revealed the cause of death as strangulation and blunt force trauma, the Met Police said.

A 47-year-old-man present at the scene was arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody.

Plough Lane: Fans raise £5m for AFC Wimbledon's new stadium

Local Democracy Reporting Service

AFC Wimbledon
AFC Wimbledon

AFC Wimbledon fans have managed to raise £5m in a month to ensure that the team can move back to the borough in time for next season.

In December, the club said it needed to raise a further £11m by January to complete their new stadium at Plough Lane.

In response to this, the fan-owned club set up the Plough Lane Bond on 17 January to get the stadium completed this year.

The club aimed to move into the ground- on the site of Wimbledon greyhound stadium - at the start of the season.

Fan Damian Woodward, who helped set up the bond, said: “It will be more than a dream come true having not been back there for 30 years.

“Having been at Plough Lane at the age of 10 and going back, it will be an incredible feeling for many fans and really uplifting for the community.”

Wimbledon FC, as it was known then, left Plough Lane in 1991, first sharing Selhurst Park with Crystal Palace FC, before moving to Milton Keynes where they were renamed as Milton Keynes Dons.

AFC Wimbledon was formed in 2002 by dedicated Wimbledon fans who were not happy about the move to Milton Keynes.

The club's chief executive Joe Palmer said: “I’m delighted by the success of the bond so far and keeping it running was one of the easiest decisions I’ve been a part of since I’ve been here."

Woman rescued from Kensington flat fire

Kensington fire

A woman has been taken to hospital by paramedics after she was rescued from the flat fire in Kensington.

She was found in the three-roomed basement flat after fire crews were called to Pater Street at 0920.

London Fire Brigade said the blaze had taken just over an hour to get under control.

Community wardens sought to wear body cameras

Local Democracy Reporting Service

The search is on for community wardens who will wear body cameras to help clamp down on minor crimes including anti-social behaviour in Kensington and Chelsea.

The council is keen to recruit local people to join the team.

It comes after it decided that a contract it has for the police to provide extra officers no longer makes economic sense.

This is because the police have not been able to fully staff the contract since 2018.

A council report by Stuart Priestley, the council’s chief community safety officer, said: “In July 2019 the contract changed to the significant disadvantage of the council, with increased costs and fewer controls on the operational deployment of officers.”

The council negotiated new arrangements, as part of the Metropolitan Police’s Partnership Plus Scheme with 17 funded officers, with an additional three officers attached to the team at no charge, were agreed by the police.

However “Met wide resourcing challenges have meant that they have been unable to fully staff this contract”.

It came at a time when police boroughs across London were changed into Borough Command Units (BCUs) of three boroughs.

The council has decided to set up its own 14-strong community warden scheme, with a manager, cutting the contract the council has with the police to three officers, and saving £250,000.

Points failure near Euston hits morning rush hour

Train commuters faced major disruption due to a points failure near London Euston station.

London Northwestern Railway said the issue was caused by "substantial damage" to the railway.

There were delays and cancellations to Avanti West Coast and London Northwestern Railway trains during this morning's peak.

Points are mechanical systems that enable trains to switch from one track to another.

A Network Rail spokesman said its engineers are on site and would fix the problem "as soon as possible". Disruption is expected until 10:00.

London's weather: Mainly dry with brightness later

BBC Weather

Cloudy, windy and mainly dry this morning, with just the odd shower. This afternoon, rain will cross from the east. Some late brightness is expected in the west.

Maximum temperature: 8 to 11°C (46 to 52°F).

Severe accident: A5 London northbound

BBC News Travel

A5 London northbound severe accident, at Old Marylebone Road.

A5 London - A5 Edgware Road in Marylebone closed northbound at the Old Marylebone Road junction, because of an accident.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Tottenham manager Jose Mourihno

Tottenham playing RB Leipzig in Wednesday's 1-0 loss was like "going to fight with a gun without bullets", says Jose Mourinho as he bemoaned the injuries to key players in recent weeks.

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Severe accident: A23 London both ways

BBC News Travel

A23 London both ways severe accident, at Brixton Hill.

A23 London - A23 Brixton Hill in Brixton closed in both directions at the Brixton Hill junction, because of an accident.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Severe disruption: A406 London southbound

BBC News Travel

A406 London southbound severe disruption, from M11 J4 to A12 Eastern Avenue.

A406 London - Two lanes closed on A406 North Circular southbound in South Woodford from the M11 J4 junction to Redbridge Roundabout, because of a break down.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Severe disruption: M11 London southbound

BBC News Travel

M11 London southbound severe disruption, at J4 for A406 North Circular.

M11 London - M11 exit slip road to to the A406 Southbound closed and queues southbound at J4 A406 North Circular.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Severe disruption: M4 London westbound

BBC News Travel

M4 London westbound severe disruption, after J2 for A4 Great West Road.

M4 London - One lane closed and queues on M4 outbound after J2, A4 (Brentford), because of a break down. Congestion to A3220 Warwick Road (Earl's Court) adding to the hammersmith Bridge delays.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Severe disruption: A236 London westbound

BBC News Travel

A236 London westbound severe disruption, at A23 Purley Way.

A236 London - A236 Mitcham Road in Croydon closed and it's very slow westbound at Lombard Roundabout, because of a police investigation.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Severe accident: A400 London both ways

BBC News Travel

A400 London both ways severe accident, from A40 New Oxford Street to Hanway Street.

A400 London - A400 Tottenham Court Road in Fitzrovia closed and queues in both directions from the A40 New Oxford Street junction to the Hanway Street junction, because of an accident.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Residents in parts of London are calling for action to stop the trafficking of prostitutes
Residents call for action to stop pimps forcing trafficked prostitutes to work their streets.

Severe accident: A3 London southbound

BBC News Travel

A3 London southbound severe accident, before A201.

A3 London - A3 Elephant and Castle in Elephant And Castle blocked and it's very slow southbound before the A201 junction, because of an accident.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Immigration: Seven ways new laws will affect workers

Nursery worker
Getty Images

The government has announced its plans to introduce a "points-based" post-Brexit immigration system.

Low-skilled workers will not receive visas and the Home Office said EU and non-EU citizens coming to the UK would be treated equally from after UK-EU free movement ended, on 31 December.

But how will the new laws affect some sectors?

Full explanation from the BBC's specialists

New approach considered to tackle fly-tipping

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Lewisham residents could have access to ‘community tips’ in a bid to tackle fly-tipping.

A motion to launch a new approach to tackle the problem is due to be passed by Lewisham Council next week.

Plans include a review of what it would cost to provide community tips, which would make it much easier for people to dispose of their rubbish.

Currently residents “effectively need to own a car” to access the tip at Landmann Way.

The move is in response to figures published in January which showed that fly-tipping incidences have shot up by 50% in the last six years, from 714,631 in 2012/13 to 1,072,431 in 2018/19.

According to the figures, councils are shelling out £58 million a year to clean up the mess.

Patient at King's College Hospital played the violin while surgeons removed a brain tumour
Professional musician Dagmar Turner was diagnosed with a large brain tumour in 2013.

Severe disruption: M4 London westbound

BBC News Travel

M4 London westbound severe disruption, from J2 for A4 Great West Road to J3 for A312 The Parkway Hayes.

M4 London - One lane closed and it's slow on M4 westbound from J2, A4 (Brentford) to J3, A312 (Hayes), because of a break down.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Council defends spending millions on consultants

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Kingston council has spent more than £4.3m on employing consultants to help out with its services.

In a Freedom of Information Request sent by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, it was revealed the council had spent £4,356,347 on employing consultants between 2017 and 2019.

The department which spent the most on consultants was regeneration and strategic housing, totalling £1,764,929 in the period.

The biggest regeneration plan the borough has at the moment is on the Cambridge Road Estate.

This will be subject to a residents’ ballot, starting next week to decide if the estate should be demolished and replaced with new homes.

It will run from 24 February to 18 March and will be independently run by Civica Election Services, formerly known as the Electoral Reform Society, and will open to eligible residents on the estate.

The council’s highest yearly spend on consultants was in 2017, totalling £2,183,176. However, this dropped to £921,559 in 2019, less than half than the amount spent in 2017.

A spokesperson for Kingston council said: “The council has undertaken a large and competitive procurement exercise which required specialist skills that the council does not hold on a permanent basis during the period 2017-19.

“The expertise from these procured resources centered around the redevelopment plans for the Cambridge Road Estate, which is key priority in our Corporate Plan and will bring forward a significant level of investment into the borough and deliver over 2,000 new warmer homes, including increased council homes, additional community facilities and public spaces.”

Severe disruption: A400 London southbound

BBC News Travel

A400 London southbound severe disruption, from Torrington Place to Bedford Square Garden.

A400 London - A400 Gower Street in Fitzrovia closed one way street from the Torrington Place junction to the Bedford Square Garden junction, because of resurfacing work.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Green mayoral candidate launches campaign

Susana Mendonca

BBC Radio London Political Reporter

Residents urged to support 'essential' community centre

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Trustees at the White House Community Centre in Hampton have called on locals to support the “fantastic” site to ensure it stays open.

Mike Pain, a trustee and ex-president of the Hampton Upon Thames Community Association, which now runs the centre, said it provides “absolutely essential services for the area”.

“We are determined to keep this centre open. It is a community hub for all ages and all members of the community,” he said.

The centre includes a pre-school, food bank, citizens advice centre and mental health support charity, and is situated in one of the most deprived wards in Richmond, Hampton North.

The centre was run by the YMCA for HoTCA before the YMCA withdrew most of its provision last year, leaving the original trustees to run most of the activities and services from December.

Last month Richmond Council approved emergency funding plans to keep the centre open until the end of July 2020, totalling £1,700 a month.

But although the centre is experiencing financial issues, the trustees seem confident they can improve its sustainability.

Cllr Michael Wilson, lead member for the voluntary sector at Richmond council has spoken about the importance of securing the centre’s long-term future.

He said the council will look at “a new vision” for the whole site to include the White House, Youth Centre and Tangley Park Children’s Centre and is “committed” to ongoing engagement with the Hampton community.

Severe accident: A2 London westbound

BBC News Travel

A2 London westbound severe accident, from A202 Queens Road to Hatcham Park Road.

A2 London - A2 New Cross Road in New Cross closed and queues into town from the A202 Queens Road junction to the Hatcham Park Road junction, because of an accident.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Is the mayor building enough houses?

Susana Mendonca

BBC Radio London Political Reporter

School cleaning jobs brought in-house at council

Local Democracy Reporting Service

The Town Hall is bringing a raft of school cleaner and facilities jobs at 10 schools in-house.

Over 120 jobs, currently part of a £2.5m contract with services giant Kier Group, will shift to schools and the council.

The decision has been taken as part of the council’s inclusive economy strategy, which was launched in riposte to theories based on the so-called trickle-down effect of economic growth and community concerns over local inequality.

It is understood that bringing ICT services back in-house has saved the council £1 million.

Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville (Lab & Co-op), who recently attended protests pushing for cleaning services at the Homerton Hospital to be brought in-house, added that an outsourced facilities management contract for the Hackney Learning Trust building has been renegotiated for all staff to be paid the London Living Wage, currently £10.55 an hour.

Mayor Glanville said: “Schools and the council will have more control over their costs, as reactive maintenance budgets previously covered by the contract are now managed directly by schools.

“They are also directly employing premises staff while over 100 staff will now be on local authority contracts with all of the benefits that come with them.

“Whether through in-sourced services or procured contracts, anchor institutions like Hackney can use our services to benefit the local economy.”

London's weather: Chilly with patchy rain

BBC Weather

A chilly start with early sunshine. Then turning hazier through the morning as cloud builds.

Patchy rain will spread from the west this afternoon, accompanied by freshening southwesterly winds.

Maximum temperature: 7 to 10°C (45 to 50°F).