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Coulsdon, Purley and South Croydon put on flood alert

Inside Croydon

The Environment Agency has issued a flood alert for south-east London, including Coulsdon, Kenley, Purley and South Croydon.

It is six years since the major flooding in Kenley and Purley, when emergency services had to work around the clock to protect vital infrastructure, and the pedestrian subway at Purley Cross was transformed into an underground lake to take up some of the floodwaters. The mopping up process took months.

Full story

Victoria coach station fire safety criticised

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Concerned fire safety experts found a catalogue of problems at one of Britain’s busiest transport hubs where there was no evidence that an evaluation of the risks had taken place.

Issues uncovered included potentially confusing fire escape notices, “inadequate” emergency routes, items stored on a staircase and a sprinkler which was out of action for more than two years.

London Fire Brigade sent a report spanning 10 pages of concerns and recommendations about Victoria Coach Station to Transport Trading Limited – a subsidiary of Transport for London (TfL).

Fourteen million passengers go through the station off Buckingham Palace Road every year, and one fire safety expert who read the report said “it looks like a walking disaster area”.

Transport bosses were told the breaches of the fire safety order had to be put right by 23 March.

Independent fire safety expert Stephen MacKenzie told the Local Democracy Reporting Service “There are some quite concerning findings, Victoria coach station is by far the worst I’ve seen in a long time.”

In their report the inspectors said fire exit signs at Victoria Coach Station were “of mixed standards” and spotted “contradictory” signs in the mobility lounge and “degraded” signs in the maintenance workshop and mezzanine floor.

And the report said no live or mock emergency evacuation had taken place. These exercises would help spot any problems which could be put right and help people become familiar with evacuation procedures.

A TfL spokeswoman said the last full evacuation exercise was held on 4 October 2019, with a “partial evacuation exercise on 14 October”.

Lilli Matson, TfL’s chief safety health and environment officer, said: “Safety is our top priority, and we work closely with London Fire Brigade to ensure that our network is safe for customers and staff.

“We have already addressed many of the points raised in the enforcement notice, which had also been identified in our most recent fire risk assessment. We have appointed a contractor to reinstate the coach station’s sprinklers and have deployed 24/7 fire watchers while we complete this project.”

Micheal Carver is the lead nurse for Violence Reduction at The Royal London Hospital.
A violence reduction nurse explains what needs to be done to save a stab victim's life.
'My boyfriend was a police spy'
Scotland Yard says it’s credible an ex-police spy had a relationship with a teenage campaigner.

Tanesha Melbourne-Blake: Sixth person held over killing

Tanesha Melbourne-Blake
PA Media

A man has been arrested over the killing of a 17-year-old girl who was shot dead in north London two years ago.

Tanesha Melbourne-Blake was gunned down while with friends in Charlgrove Road, Tottenham, on 2 April 2018.

The Met Police said a 30-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of murder on Thursday and remains in custody.

Five people have previously been held over the 17-year-old's death. Three were released under investigation pending further inquiries, while two others were released with no further action.

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.

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.

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.”

Green mayoral candidate launches campaign

Susana Mendonca

BBC Radio London Political Reporter

Canning Town freezer bodies: Murder trial date set

Met Police

A man accused of murdering two women who were found dead in a freezer faces trial in April.

Zahid Younis, 35, is charged with the murders of Henriett Szucs, 34, and Mihrican Mustafa, 38, and two counts of preventing the lawful and decent burial of a body.

The bodies of Hungarian national Ms Szucs and mother-of-three Ms Mustafa were discovered by police in a flat in Canning Town, east London, on 26 April 2019.

Mr Younis, of Vandome Close, Canning Town, appeared at the Old Bailey via video-link from Wandsworth jail for a hearing before Mr Justice Edis on Tuesday.

Mr Justice Edis confirmed he would be the trial judge and hear the case at Kingston Crown Court.

The case would be scheduled to start on 14 April and last for up to five weeks.

The defendant was remanded in custody

‘Lack of trust’ sees arts venue selling just 26% of tickets

Inside Croydon

The costs of refurbishing the Fairfield Halls rose by another £1.6million in just five months since it re-opened last September – and there could be many millions more to add to the price tag of the council-owned arts venue.

Full story

Strike action planned for Balerloo tube line

Staff working on the Bakerloo line are planning to strike from Friday.

London Underground sign
PA Media

Members of the RMT union will take action over a new timetable from 10:00 GMT on Friday until Monday evening.

The Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines will also be closed in central London this weekend for testing of the new signalling system.

"Vital work on the Bank station upgrade" will be taking place on the Northern line which will prevent travel between Moorgate and Kennington.

The Transport for London website has more details of alternative arrangement.

Love for London's firefighters from Koko

The owner of Camden music venue Koko has expressed his gratitude to the firefighters who saved the building from a blaze last month with a huge Valentine's day facade.

Olly Bengough, founder of KOKO and Simon Tuhill, Borough Commander, L.F.B gather outside Koko, London
PA Media

Olly Bengough invited firefighters to see the artwork and park their fire engines in front of the building.

"We owe so much to London Fire Brigade's swift and courageous response, which prevented the fire from spreading and saved the main theatre.

Eight engines and 60 firefighters tackled the blaze after receiving an emergency call.

The building's 120-year-old copper dome was destroyed but the feature saved the building from more extensive damage by acting as a chimney and funnelling the fire up through the roof.

A £40m redevelopment of the theatre will see the copper dome rebuilt to include an immersive cocktail bar.

Koko has hosted a range of stars including the Rolling Stones and Madonna.

Sister's plea to find brother missing for more than 30 years

Ian Bushell
Met Police
Police have issued an e-fit of what missing Ian Bushell may look like now

The sister of a man from Thamesmead who went missing more than 30 years ago is appealing for help to find him.

Ian Bushell was last seen by his father Wilton on 20 January 1988 when he was aged 21.

When Wilton next visited Ian’s flat just weeks later on 16 February there was no answer at the door and he let himself in.

There was no trace of Ian despite the rest of his possessions, including his clothes, wallet and keys all being in the house

Ian’s father immediately reported his son as missing to police and enquiries were made to try and find him.

Despite numerous appeals for information, Ian – who would have been 54 today – has never been found.

His sister Rosalind said: “I was only 16 when my big brother went missing and I have thought of him every day for the last 32 years.

“My dad passed away two years later and my mother in 2010, so now it is just me.

“I have no other siblings and would give anything to have my big brother back home or find out what happened to him.”

Storm Dennis: Yellow warning for most of London

Elizabeth Rizzini

BBC London weather

Currently there is a Met Office yellow warning out for the capital valid from 10:00 tomorrow to 23:59 on Sunday.

Keep an eye on the flood warnings from Environment Agency.

Heaviest of the rain is expected on Sunday but rain amounts will build through the weekend - for many it will just be continuous pretty much all weekend.

In terms of comparison to Storm Ciara last weekend there will be more rain and not quite so windy, again fairly prolonged pretty much all weekend.

It will be drier by Sunday evening but still very windy into the start of next week.

Keep up to date with the weather where you are

Khan: 'Government in chaos' ahead of Budget

Sadiq Khan
Getty Images

The Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says the resignation of the chancellor just weeks before the Budget shows the “government is in chaos”.

Speaking at an affordable housing development in Peckham, Mr Khan tells BBC London he is "sad" at the decision of Sajid Javid to step down, saying he understood the reasons why London needed more investment and had been "receptive" when he lobbied him ahead of the budget.

“On a personal level I am disappointed," he says. "Sajid is one of the ministers I’ve known for some time. Both of us coming from similar backgrounds, his dad being a bus driver and mine obviously.

“But actually what it shows is a government in chaos. They won an election on 12 December. They’ve got a decent majority and they’re in chaos.

"The chancellor is arguably the most important job in the cabinet other than the prime minister and here we have it, literally a few weeks before the Budget, the chancellor’s resigned.

"But it just shows the chaos in this government.”

Live: Reaction at shock resignation of Sajid Javid amid Cabinet reshuffle