Connect with us

Latest Stories

CHRISTOPHER BIGGINS: Mayor, your cycle lanes are killing my London

Published

on

christopher biggins mayor your cycle lanes are killing my london

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner but I love whizzing around London town. Get me behind the wheel of my (fully electric) car and – toot toot! – I’m practically Mr Toad.

I gaze through the windscreen with a huge smile on my face as I whir through the city. I adore every chimney pot and shopfront, every pavement and palace. Memory lane or magical mystery tour, it’s all the same. Driving is an ever-changing joy in the city I call home.

Or at least it was.

Christopher Biggins, pictured with his electric BMW i3 has reduced his carbon footprint, though, despite his efforts, he still gets stuck in terrible traffic jams caused by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan's new cycle lanes

Christopher Biggins, pictured with his electric BMW i3 has reduced his carbon footprint, though, despite his efforts, he still gets stuck in terrible traffic jams caused by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan's new cycle lanes

Christopher Biggins, pictured with his electric BMW i3 has reduced his carbon footprint, though, despite his efforts, he still gets stuck in terrible traffic jams caused by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s new cycle lanes

33947144 8802015 image m 13 1601757934341

33947144 8802015 image m 13 1601757934341

Mr Khan, pictured, wanted to make it easier to get around the city by walking or cycling after the government advised people to avoid public transport due to Covid

33947658 0 image a 18 1601759154601

33947658 0 image a 18 1601759154601

In Tooting High Street, pictured, motorists sat in long delays while cyclists flew by

These days everything has changed. The streets of London aren’t full of smiles. They’re chock-full of traffic. Every road in every direction is snarled up by road closures, newly narrow lanes, suddenly wider (but oh so empty) pavements, and bike lanes so big you could land a plane on them.

A year ago, I could do an emission-free drive from my home in glamorous Hackney and get anywhere in London in under an hour. Today I need to allow two. Could it soon be three?

And heaven help anyone who needs to catch a train. Have you seen the new, all-day jams on the Euston Road past King’s Cross and St Pancras?

Stress levels are even higher if you’ve got a hospital appointment. And let’s not even think about waiting at home for a plumber or electrician, or a delivery. Where are the workers? They’re stuck in traffic, on roads where two lanes have become one.

Why the madness? The people who run London say they need to block roads and widen pavements so pedestrians can social-distance.

Seen anyone on the pavements in the City lately, Mr Mayor? Seen many shoppers in the West End? I just see traffic. Anyone with sense stays away.

Why else has London turned into a giant car park with every motor running? Because of the bike lanes. Now, I’m as keen as the next man to look at handsome cyclists in shorts. But how many lanes do we need?

Just north of Battersea Bridge, cyclists get a choice of two. There’s the old, green-painted bike lane that takes up half of the pavement. Don’t fancy it? Then there’s a new, blue-painted one running alongside it where cars used to go.

It’s the same on the nightmare that is Park Lane. After the hell of Hyde Park Corner, hemmed-in drivers can only inch forward in an endless, fume-filled jam. The lesser-spotted cyclist, however, can zip up a brand-new, madly-wide bike lane. But wait a minute. What’s that other thing outside yonder (car) window? It’s the old bike lane in the park that runs exactly parallel to the new one. Cyclists take your pick. Drivers wait your turn.

And all this while drivers pay tax, insurance and carry licence plates that mean we face fines if we break the rules. Cyclists? None of the above. Apart from the breaking the rules bit, which we see them do every day.

So have the people who run London declared war on motorists? It’s a yes from me, especially after a weekend away when I found giant flower pots had been brought in to close roads and block my route home. Local friends say their once-quiet street is now a rat-run because cars have to find somewhere else to go. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so tragic. After all, when I was in The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the 1970s, I dreamed of being a big-time movie-star and living in Los Angeles. All these years later LA’s gridlock has followed me to London… with a vengeance.

Want to see the human cost? Look at the exhausted faces of the endless line of white-van drivers on Embankment every day. They’re the makers and the doers we need to keep the economy going. They’re at the wheel, earning nothing, on a hugely polluting, stop-start journey across town that takes twice as long today as it did last year.

And our other heroes – the police, fire and ambulance drivers? When we need them they’ll be in the jams too. Terrifying but true.

And it’s only going to be after the next disaster that we realise how much this matters.

People of my age used to find our way around London using an A-Z. Now we can’t get from A to B. And while the Mayor may want to drive cars out of London, he needs to know that he’s driving people out as well. I can’t count the number of friends who’ve had enough. They’re selling up and heading to the country. For the first time, I’m thinking of joining them.

Extending the Congestion Charge – so people even have to pay to drive to church on Sundays – may raise a bit of cash today. But what about tomorrow? I dread to think what foreign tourists (remember them?) will think if they take a black cab from Harrods to the British Museum. The journey would take half their holiday. It would cost half their plane fare. They won’t rush back. That’s going to hurt all my beloved theatres, restaurants and the whole West End.

Sadder still, this just chokes the life out of the city I love. It’s the city I want to help in the current crisis. I can spend a bit of money. I’ve got time on my hands and an emission-free electric car. My life should be a cabaret, old chum. Instead, it’s a pantomime. So come on, Mr Mayor. Free my city. Open our streets. Let’s drive out of this nightmare and keep London alive.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

Latest Stories

Coronavirus UK: Daily infections hit 24,701 although cases DROP

Published

on

By

coronavirus uk daily infections hit 24701 although cases drop

Britain’s daily number of Covid-19 cases dropped today for the first time in a month as health officials announced 24,701 more infections amid hopes the second wave could finally be tailing off.

Department of Health statistics show 26,688 positive coronavirus tests were added to the Government’s count last Wednesday. It means today is the first time the daily number of cases has fallen on the amount recorded the week before since September 28, when the tally was affected by a counting blunder. 

But deaths are continuing to rise. Another 310 coronavirus victims were recorded today, up from the 191 posted this time last week. Yesterday officials announced 367 deaths, in the highest daily toll since the end of May. It can take infected patients several weeks to become severely-ill, meaning the death toll lags behind any spike in cases. 

It comes as Tory MPs have today urged Boris Johnson to resist pleas for tougher action after the Prime Minister was warned by his top scientific advisers that the UK faces a second wave of coronavirus even deadlier than the first. 

Projections by SAGE suggest the peak of the second wave will be lower than it was in the first wave. However, the peak is expected to last for longer, with high numbers of daily deaths likely to continue for months, resulting in a ‘lampshade’ second wave.

Sir Patrick Vallance, Number 10’s chief scientific adviser, is leading calls within the Government for Mr Johnson to take more drastic action as soon as possible to slow the spread of the disease amid fears daily deaths will hit 500 within weeks. SAGE is understood to be of the view that all of England will be forced into Tier Three lockdown by mid-December. 

But Mr Johnson is facing a difficult balancing act, with his experts calling for tougher restrictions while Tory MPs demand the PM set out a lockdown exit strategy. 

Senior Conservatives claimed SAGE appeared to operate in a ‘medical vacuum’ with no appreciation for the state of the economy or for ‘how people feel’ amid concerns about the mental health impact of the current rules. One MP added: ‘What would be the purpose of imposing lockdowns in parts of the country where there is very little Covid?’ 

34960238 8889481 image a 11 1603902146783

34960238 8889481 image a 11 1603902146783

34960240 8889481 image a 13 1603902151850

34960240 8889481 image a 13 1603902151850

According to internal analysis provided to Number 10 by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), deaths will peak at a lower level than in the spring but could remain high for weeks or even months with a Christmas respite unlikely

According to internal analysis provided to Number 10 by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), deaths will peak at a lower level than in the spring but could remain high for weeks or even months with a Christmas respite unlikely

According to internal analysis provided to Number 10 by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), deaths will peak at a lower level than in the spring but could remain high for weeks or even months with a Christmas respite unlikely

Sources within SAGE say there could be 25,000 people in hospital with Covid-19 by the end of November, more than double the 10,000 currently receiving care. Latest NHS England figures suggest the country has about 110,000 beds at its disposal, plus tens of thousands more in the Nightingale hospitals built during the first wave, which went unused. Its suggests that, even if the bleak prediction of 25,000 Covid-19 patients in hospitals by next month comes true, the health service will not be overstretched

Sources within SAGE say there could be 25,000 people in hospital with Covid-19 by the end of November, more than double the 10,000 currently receiving care. Latest NHS England figures suggest the country has about 110,000 beds at its disposal, plus tens of thousands more in the Nightingale hospitals built during the first wave, which went unused. Its suggests that, even if the bleak prediction of 25,000 Covid-19 patients in hospitals by next month comes true, the health service will not be overstretched

Sources within SAGE say there could be 25,000 people in hospital with Covid-19 by the end of November, more than double the 10,000 currently receiving care. Latest NHS England figures suggest the country has about 110,000 beds at its disposal, plus tens of thousands more in the Nightingale hospitals built during the first wave, which went unused. Its suggests that, even if the bleak prediction of 25,000 Covid-19 patients in hospitals by next month comes true, the health service will not be overstretched

But Mr Johnson is having to perform a balancing act, with SAGE experts calling for tougher lockdowns while Tory MPs press for a road map out of restrictions

But Mr Johnson is having to perform a balancing act, with SAGE experts calling for tougher lockdowns while Tory MPs press for a road map out of restrictions

But Mr Johnson is having to perform a balancing act, with SAGE experts calling for tougher lockdowns while Tory MPs press for a road map out of restrictions

First the ‘sombrero’, then the ‘camel’s humps’, and now the ‘lampshade’

In the early days of Britain’s coronavirus outbreak, top scientists predicted the crisis would take a sombrero-hat shape on graphs. Boris Johnson told the nation the plan was to delay the peak of the outbreak, or ‘squash the sombrero’.

Then in September, when the virus started to make a resurgence when schools and universities returned, the Prime Minister warned tougher action would be needed if the country failed to ‘stop the second hump of the dromedary’.

Now, Whitehall insiders have resorted to another bizarre phrase to describe how the second Covid-19 wave could pan out — with startling projections presented by SAGE warning of a ‘lampshade’ curve.

The forecast being circulated through Government predicts deaths will hit 500 a day by the end of November. For comparison, more than 1,000 Covid-19 patients were dying each day during the darkest spell of the pandemic in March and April.

But experts fear daily coronavirus deaths will stay at a high level for a longer period of time — making the second wave more deadly overall than the first, which killed at least 40,000 people.

A source told the Daily Telegraph: ‘It’s going to be worse this time, more deaths. That is the projection that has been put in front of the Prime Minister, and he is now being put under a lot of pressure to lock down again.’

Dr Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England’s medical director, warned last night that the spike in fatalities would continue ‘for some time’, after the UK recorded another 367 Covid-19 victims — the highest daily death toll since the end of May.

It comes after a SAGE adviser last week warned the second wave of Covid-19 could peak at Christmas unless there is a national lockdown now. Professor John Edmunds, an epidemiologist based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told MPs that he couldn’t see a way out of the current crisis without ‘deaths in the tens of thousands’.

Deaths climbed quickly in Britain’s first wave, rising almost 15-fold in a fortnight. On average, 42 infected patients were succumbing to the illness every day on March 23 — when lockdown was imposed. This jumped to 627 just a fortnight later.

But fatalities have yet to take off in the second wave. Department of Health statistics show around 200 Britons are currently dying from Covid-19 each day. But the figure two weeks ago stood at 82.

Britain is only now starting to record more coronavirus victims because of a spike in cases in September and October, following a lull in transmission over the summer. It can take infected patients weeks to fall severely ill and die.

And despite warnings that the death toll will continue to soar, a raft of statistics have suggested the outbreak has already started to slow down. It could mean that deaths may start to tail off in the coming weeks.

 

<!—->Advertisement

The latest coronavirus developments came as:

  • More police forces from across the UK confirmed they will enforce coronavirus restrictions if they are broken over Christmas – as nearly 20 per cent of families said they would ignore the Rule of Six;
  • Manchester’s Nightingale hospital today became the first moth-balled facility in England to open up again in an attempt to free up hospital beds across the North West; 
  • SAGE member Professor Sir Mark Walport said it is ‘not unrealistic’ to think there could be 25,000 Covid-19 patients in hospitals by the end of November;
  • Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, urged Mr Johnson to convene a four-nation summit to agree UK-wide coronavirus rules for the Christmas period;
  • Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the Government’s failure to impose a circuit-breaker lockdown over half-term meant ministers now need to ‘do something quickly to save Christmas’;
  • More hospitals announced they are suspending non-urgent surgery because of an influx of coronavirus patients;
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced he will reveal the Government’s spending plans for the year ahead on November 25;
  • Mark Drakeford announced a further 37 coronavirus deaths in Wales, the highest daily number in more than six months;
  • Bristol risked confusion as it announced it is moving into what it described as ‘Tier One Plus’, a move which includes introducing Covid marshals and taking on further test and trace powers;
  • The FTSE 100 closed down 1.9 per cent as it hit its lowest level in six months;
  • Drug offences soared by 30 per cent during the coronavirus lockdown as overall recorded crime dropped by a quarter compared to 2019, figures showed;
  • Protesters have once again taken to the streets in Spain and Italy to vent their fury at new coronavirus restrictions as European nations teeter on the brink of a second full lockdown.

The NRG group’s efforts received a boost from Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday as he said he shared the MPs’ frustrations at rules being imposed and ‘you want to know when it is going to be over’ in an apparent hint at his opposition to a national shutdown. 

Despite the warnings from SAGE, Environment Secretary George Eustice insisted this morning a national lockdown is ‘not appropriate’ because there is ‘no point having a lockdown in those parts of the country where the incidence of the disease is very low’. 

The UK is this morning waking up to predictions of a grim winter after it emerged that SAGE advice to the PM has projected the second wave could be even deadlier than the first. 

A source told The Telegraph: ‘It’s going to be worse this time, more deaths.

‘That is the projection that has been put in front of the Prime Minister and he is now being put under a lot of pressure to lock down again.’

SAGE has separately warned that it believes all of England will have to be put into the top tier of restrictions by mid-December, putting Christmas get-togethers at risk of being cancelled completely. 

Mr Johnson has previously described the Government’s coronavirus graphs which plot the number of deaths as looking like a sombrero or a camel’s hump. 

But the latest SAGE modelling suggests there is likely to be a so-called ‘lampshade’ graph in the coming months as infections reach a peak and then remain at a high level for weeks or even moths before eventually falling. 

Government experts believe daily deaths could remain in the hundreds for months, long beyond Christmas and potentially into March. 

A Government source told The Sun the latest Sage numbers are ‘utterly bleak’ with projections reportedly showing there could be 25,000 people in hospital with Covid-19 by the end of November.  

That would represent an even higher number than the peak in hospitalisations during the first wave. 

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 is currently just below 10,000. 

A further 367 deaths were announced yesterday, the highest daily number since May, with the official UK death toll now at 43,365.    

Health chiefs believe the daily total could rise to 500 within weeks, still significantly below the 1,000-plus recorded during the peak of the first wave, amid fears that the Government’s tier system is not enough to get infections back under control. 

Professor Sir Mark Walport, a member of SAGE, said this morning there is currently ‘little to feel reassured about’ and that it is ‘certainly not unrealistic to think’ there could be 25,000 people in hospital by the end of the November.  

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We are still relatively early in the second wave and, as we know, there’s a significant lag – two to three, two to four weeks – between actually getting an infection and people potentially dying, and so the number of deaths is always lagging the number of cases that are reported at any one time, so there’s little to feel reassured about.’

He added: ‘There are still an awful lot of people out there who are vulnerable, it’s not, as it were, that the disease has killed off everyone who is vulnerable, there are still very many people that are vulnerable and we know that only still a relatively small proportion of the population has had this infection.’

However, Sir Mark said he hoped improved treatments for coronavirus could keep the death toll down. 

34931394 8887775 image a 85 1603880125624

34931394 8887775 image a 85 1603880125624

West Yorkshire may be next to move into Tier Three affecting 1.8million people. If it were to be plunged into Tier Three, it would follow neighbours South Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester

34911748 8887775 image a 83 1603880125620

34911748 8887775 image a 83 1603880125620

34911744 8887775 image a 86 1603880125627

34911744 8887775 image a 86 1603880125627

Lib Dems urge Boris Johnson to hold four-nation summit to save Christmas

Boris Johnson is being urged by the Liberal Democrats to convene a four-nation summit to save Christmas as the party warned it is ‘inevitable’ people will travel to be with their loved ones. 

The party has written to Mr Johnson as well as Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford and Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster calling for them to work together on a blueprint for the festive period. 

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said that because family members are often split up across the different nations of the UK it makes sense for there to be one set of coronavirus rules during Christmas to avoid confusion. 

The party wants the four nations to agree ‘uniform guidance’ on the number of people who can gather, to cooperate on the safe return of students and to explore how to expand travel options to allow people to move around the country while complying with social distancing.  

Such a unified approach would represent a dramatic departure from the current way of working which has seen the four nations act largely independently in response to the coronavirus crisis. 

But Environment Secretary George Eustice rejected the idea this morning, saying it is ‘far too early’ to set out guidelines about Christmas.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It’s far too early to say exactly where things will be by Christmas, but the Prime Minister’s made clear he wants people to be able to have a Christmas that’s as close to possible as normal.’ 

<!—->Advertisement

FTSE 100 tumbles amid fears of second lockdown

The FTSE 100 today fell to its lowest level in six months amid growing fears over the direction of the UK’s coronavirus crisis. 

Investors moved to dump riskier assets as uncertainty continues to grow over whether the Government could impose tougher Covid-19 rules or even a national shutdown as cases rise.

The index finished 1.9 per cent down after losses in real estate and travel stocks. 

The FTSE 250 index also finished down 1.5 per cent as it slid to a three-week low after retailers and banks suffered a decline.

The dips came after the markets were rocked by reports that Boris Johnson is under pressure from Government scientific experts to bring forward new lockdown measures after SAGE warned the second wave of infections could be deadlier than the first.

Analysts fear a new lockdown could derail the UK’s economic recovery over the summer.    

<!—->Advertisement

He said: ‘The number of cases is rising very significantly – it was 22,800 on 27 October and the seven-day average was just over 22,000, so there are an awful lot of cases.

‘One of the differences of course is that we are better at looking after people with coronavirus now and so hopefully the case fatality rate will be lower than it was in the first wave, but at the end of the day the fatality rate, the number of people who die is a product of the number of people who are infected and their vulnerability.’

More than eight million people across England are now in Tier Three areas, with almost all of them located in the north of the country. 

Mr Johnson has repeatedly refused to rule out imposing a nationwide circuit-breaker lockdown. 

But he is reluctant to push the nuclear button because of the damage it would do to the economy and because of a growing Tory revolt over lockdown measures. 

The Northern Research Group of more than 50 Conservative MPs wrote to the PM yesterday to demand he set out a ‘road map’ for how areas can get out of Tier Three. 

The group was given a boost as Mr Sunak, who represents a constituency in Yorkshire, lined up to sympathise with the argument it had made. 

He told the BBC: ‘I absolutely share my colleague’s frustration at restrictions, of course that is frustrating if you’re having to live under these things and you want to know when it is going to be over.’ 

Growing Tory disquiet over current coronavirus restrictions means Mr Johnson is likely to face a furious backlash if he does opt to impose a national lockdown, even if it is only for a few weeks. 

However, the NRG demands for an exit strategy were given short shrift by some in Whitehall who said it is not possible to set out simple criteria for leaving Tier Three as they stressed it has to be a judgement call based on myriad factors. 

A Whitehall source told The Sun: ‘The exit path these guys want does not exist yet.’

Mr Eustice today insisted the Government is sticking to its to strategy of imposing local lockdowns. 

He told Times Radio: ‘In some ways we’ve always anticipated that there would be a second spike.

‘That’s why we have been monitoring the situation closely since September, introducing, in a timely way, restrictions that are appropriate to the level of prevalence in particular parts of the country with these three different levels of intervention.

‘And we’re adding to that all the time, so yesterday Warrington was put into the very high risk area, and there’s discussions now about Nottingham.

‘So we’re trying to intervene in things in a proportionate way across the country, but we don’t think it’s appropriate to have a national lockdown, because there’s parts of the country, like Cornwall, where the incidence of the disease is actually very low.’

Mr Eustice told the BBC: ‘We have learnt and I think our view at the moment is there’s no point having a lockdown in those parts of the country where the incidence of the disease is very low.’ 

The Cabinet minister also claimed the tiered system has held back the natural R rate of the virus of between 2.7 and 3 to the current level of between 1.4 and 1.5. 

Pressure on Mr Johnson over the Government’s coronavirus strategy came as the UK’s European neighbours braced for tougher restrictions. 

Both France and Germany are expected to announce new rules in the coming days in a desperate bid to combat a surge in infections. 

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have urged Mr Johnson to convene a four-nation summit to save Christmas as the party warned it is ‘inevitable’ people will travel to be with their loved ones. 

The party has written to Mr Johnson as well as Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford and Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster calling for them to work together on a blueprint for the festive period. 

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said that because family members are often split up across the different nations of the UK it makes sense for there to be one set of coronavirus rules during Christmas to avoid confusion. 

Office for National Statistics figures showed 761 Brits fell victim to the disease in the week ending October 16, the most recent recording period. Not since June 19, when there were 849 deaths, have more people lost their lives to the disease in a single week. At that point, the country was still in a national lockdown

Office for National Statistics figures showed 761 Brits fell victim to the disease in the week ending October 16, the most recent recording period. Not since June 19, when there were 849 deaths, have more people lost their lives to the disease in a single week. At that point, the country was still in a national lockdown

Office for National Statistics figures showed 761 Brits fell victim to the disease in the week ending October 16, the most recent recording period. Not since June 19, when there were 849 deaths, have more people lost their lives to the disease in a single week. At that point, the country was still in a national lockdown

Rishi Sunak to set out spending plans on November 25

Rishi Sunak will set out Government spending plans for the next year on November 25, he revealed today as coronavirus wreaks havoc with the UK economy.

The Chancellor had already confirmed that it was scrapping a planned multi-year spending review in the wake of the tumult caused by the pandemic. 

Instead he will set out a 12-month plan with its sights firmly set on coping with the dire financial impact of the global shutdown.

PM Boris Johnson wanted to use the three-year spending review to set out his masterplan for how he intends to deliver on his promise to ‘level up’ the nation. 

But the cancellation confirmed the Government has now conceded it needs to focus all of its energy on firefighting Covid-19. 

Mr Sunak today tweeted: ‘On November 25 I will deliver the 2020 Spending Review alongside the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast, setting out spending plans for the next year so we can continue to prioritise our response to Covid-19 and protect jobs.’

<!—->Advertisement

The party wants the four nations to agree ‘uniform guidance’ on the number of people who can gather, to cooperate on the safe return of students and to explore how to expand travel options to allow people to move around the country while complying with social distancing.

Such a unified approach would represent a dramatic departure from the current way of working which has seen the four nations act largely independently in response to the coronavirus crisis. 

Mr Ashworth said the Government’s failure to use the half-term for a circuit-breaker lockdown means they now need to ‘do something quickly to save Christmas’.

But Mr Eustice said it is ‘far too early’ to set out guidelines for the festive period.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘This is a rapidly developing situation and we are making judgments all the time about what restrictions might be needed and what’s appropriate to have as restrictions in a particular area.

‘It’s far too early to say exactly where things will be by Christmas, but the Prime Minister’s made clear he wants people to be able to have a Christmas that’s as close to possible as normal.’

It came as a police and crime commissioner warned the police could break up Christmas dinners if people flout coronavirus rules. 

West Midlands commissioner David Jamieson said officers would have to enforce any lockdown rules set by the Government over the festive period, as he also spoke of his fears of a ‘time bomb’ of unrest.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Mr Jamieson said: ‘If we think there’s large groups of people gathering where they shouldn’t be, then police will have to intervene.

‘If, again, there’s flagrant breaking of the rules, then the police would have to enforce.

‘It’s not the police’s job to stop people enjoying their Christmas.

‘However, we are there to enforce the rules that the Government makes, and if the Government makes those rules then the Government has to explain that to the public.’ 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

Continue Reading

Latest Stories

UK half-term weather: Britain faces SIX inches of rain in 36 hours as large hailstones fall

Published

on

By

uk half term weather britain faces six inches of rain in 36 hours as large hailstones fall

Large golf balls-sized hailstones have pelted parts of England today, as 60mph sweep heavy showers across the South and weather experts warn of up to six inches of rain over the next 36 hours. 

The massive hailstones crashed down in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, as parts of Britain were today put under a ‘danger to life’ warning ahead of the torrential downpours – which could make it the wettest month London has faced for 150 years.

The Met Office said flooding could affect homes and businesses, along with transport delays and communities becoming cut off by flooded roads in Wales, North West England and Pennine areas of North and West Yorkshire.

The yellow ‘be aware’ warning runs between noon tomorrow and the end of Friday, and the largest rainfall totals are expected on high ground, particularly in Wales and Cumbria, where up to 6in (150mm) could fall.

It comes as Londoners may be experiencing the wettest month for more than 150 years, as the capital endures one of the wettest Octobers to date and could have the most rainfall it has seen in any calendar month.

October is usually the wettest month in the UK and rainfall this year has been largely concentrated in Greater London and the home counties of South East England as well as a small area of North East Scotland. 

London has had 139mm (5.5in) of rain up to October 25, nearly double the full month average of 78mm (3.1in), meaning October 2020 is already ranking ninth rainiest in London since 1862 with six days of data still to collate.

The massive hailstones crashed down in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, as parts of Britain were today put under a 'danger to life' warning ahead of the torrential downpours - which could make it the wettest month London has faced for 150 years

The massive hailstones crashed down in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, as parts of Britain were today put under a 'danger to life' warning ahead of the torrential downpours - which could make it the wettest month London has faced for 150 years

The massive hailstones crashed down in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, as parts of Britain were today put under a ‘danger to life’ warning ahead of the torrential downpours – which could make it the wettest month London has faced for 150 years

Waves break at sunrise as a dog walker lets their pet loose on the beach at Porthleven in Cornwall this morning

Waves break at sunrise as a dog walker lets their pet loose on the beach at Porthleven in Cornwall this morning

Waves break at sunrise as a dog walker lets their pet loose on the beach at Porthleven in Cornwall this morning

34944950 8888029 image a 19 1603902424133

34944950 8888029 image a 19 1603902424133

A surfer catches a wave in St Ives in Cornwall this morning as parts of the country prepare for severe weather tomorrow

A surfer catches a wave in St Ives in Cornwall this morning as parts of the country prepare for severe weather tomorrow

A surfer catches a wave in St Ives in Cornwall this morning as parts of the country prepare for severe weather tomorrow

Waves break at sunrise at Porthleven in Cornwall this morning as the Met Office issued a severe weather warning

Waves break at sunrise at Porthleven in Cornwall this morning as the Met Office issued a severe weather warning

Waves break at sunrise at Porthleven in Cornwall this morning as the Met Office issued a severe weather warning

Speaking about the weather over the next few days, a Met Office spokesman said: ‘Periods of heavy rain are expected to develop across Wales and northwest England during Thursday and Friday.

‘Accumulations of 30mm (1.2in) to 40mm (1.6in) can be expected widely, whilst areas of higher ground exposed to strong south-westerly winds are likely to see 50mm (2in) to 80mm (3.2in).

34944126 8888029 image a 46 1603881145865

34944126 8888029 image a 46 1603881145865

‘The heaviest rainfall, however, is expected to be across the hills and mountains of northwest Wales and Cumbria, where 100mm (4in) to 150mm (6in) of rainfall is possible by the end of Friday.’ 

The weather warning states ‘fast flowing or deep floodwater’ could cause ‘danger to life’. Rain is also expected elsewhere across the country tomorrow and Friday, although not as heavy. 

Today is due to be ‘rather cold with blustery showers’ easing later in the day. More showers and longer spells of rain are expected at the weekend.

But forecasters say the start of November could see unsettled conditions giving way to a drier and brighter – but colder – spell including the first widespread frosts of the season.

The Met Office said: ‘A change to generally drier, more settled conditions is probable during early November with any strong winds, showers or longer spells of rain most likely confined to northern areas.

‘Elsewhere, winds will probably become mainly light. These more settled conditions bring an increased risk of colder weather with overnight frost and morning fog, particularly across the south.’

Surfers catch waves off the coast of St Ives in Cornwall this morning as they make the most of the weather conditions

Surfers catch waves off the coast of St Ives in Cornwall this morning as they make the most of the weather conditions

Surfers catch waves off the coast of St Ives in Cornwall this morning as they make the most of the weather conditions

Waves hit the Cornish coast at Porthleven this morning as the UK prepares for further rainfall over the next few days

Waves hit the Cornish coast at Porthleven this morning as the UK prepares for further rainfall over the next few days

Waves hit the Cornish coast at Porthleven this morning as the UK prepares for further rainfall over the next few days

Speaking about London, Met Office spokesperson Grahame Madge said with ‘considerable rainfall’ expected in the coming days it is ‘quite likely’ this month will break the October record, and potentially for any month.

The weather warning runs from noon tomorrow until the end of Friday, and covers Wales and North West England

The weather warning runs from noon tomorrow until the end of Friday, and covers Wales and North West England

The weather warning runs from noon tomorrow until the end of Friday, and covers Wales and North West England

Mr Madge said: ‘The wettest calendar month on record was November 1940 with 171.2mm (6.7in) of rainfall. Breaking this record) would require an extra 32mm (1.3in) of rainfall before the month end.

‘On October 3 the UK received an average of 31.5mm (1.2in) on one day, so it is possible. However, we will have to wait before we can say for sure.’

October 3 was the wettest day on record for the UK, with enough rain falling to more than fill Loch Ness.

The Saturday, which was just after Storm Alex hit, saw an average of 31.7mm across the nation, beating the previous record of 29.8mm on August 25, 1986.

Although Greater London and the home counties are experiencing a particularly wet October, rainfall around the UK has been only ‘slightly above average’, Mr Madge said.

‘Virtually everywhere was wet on October 3, but since then there have been pockets of the UK which has seen higher rainfall totals, especially London and parts of the south-east,’ he said.

‘This is because of the way the jet stream has steered low-pressure systems more to the south of England.’

An early morning cyclist rides in East London this morning past the skyline of the City of London which is lit by the sunrise

An early morning cyclist rides in East London this morning past the skyline of the City of London which is lit by the sunrise

An early morning cyclist rides in East London this morning past the skyline of the City of London which is lit by the sunrise 

An early morning walker on a bridge in front of the Canary Wharf skyline in East London this morning

An early morning walker on a bridge in front of the Canary Wharf skyline in East London this morning

An early morning walker on a bridge in front of the Canary Wharf skyline in East London this morning

A woman pedestrian struggles with her umbrella in London's Piccadilly Circus yesterday on a rainy and blustery day

A woman pedestrian struggles with her umbrella in London's Piccadilly Circus yesterday on a rainy and blustery day

A woman pedestrian struggles with her umbrella in London’s Piccadilly Circus yesterday on a rainy and blustery day

The wettest month for the UK in 2020 so far was February, when many regions were hit with devastating floods which destroyed homes and businesses.

Mr Madge added that climate change is having a ‘pronounced effect’ on temperatures in the UK, raising averages by about 1C (1.8F) since pre-industrial times, and the warmer atmosphere could be causing increased rainfall too.

He added that UK climate projections show warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers will lead to ‘more extreme rainfall records’ by the end of the century.

Hertfordshire is also seeing its ninth wettest October since 1862, with Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire experiencing their tenth soggiest.

In North East Scotland, this month is the third wettest for Moray, fourth for Banffshire, sixth for Kincardineshire, seventh for Aberdeenshire, and ninth for Nairn and Angus.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

Continue Reading

Latest Stories

Plastic supermarket trays worth MILLIONS are being stolen by gangs and secretly recycled at plants

Published

on

By

plastic supermarket trays worth millions are being stolen by gangs and secretly recycled at plants

Millions of pounds worth of plastic supermarket trays are being stolen by organised crime gangs and secretly recycled at firms across the UK.

Crooks are looting the food baskets from shops and stores and delivering them to companies who ‘turn a blind eye’ to their origin, an investigation has revealed.

Once broken down by crooked firms often operating in backstreet warehouses, the plastic is untraceable and lost forever.

Criminals are selling chipped plastic for up to £1,000 a ton in this country and abroad.

The reusable trays are used to deliver bread and food to every major food supermarket including Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Iceland and Lidl.

They should be collected and reused by their manufacturer, but widespread theft mean the UK market has to produce more new plastic than it needs to keep food industry deliveries and transportation going.

Plastic trays like these are being stolen and recycled by criminal gangs across the UK, notably in the West Midlands, with millions going missing each year, an investigation has revealed

Plastic trays like these are being stolen and recycled by criminal gangs across the UK, notably in the West Midlands, with millions going missing each year, an investigation has revealed

Plastic trays like these are being stolen and recycled by criminal gangs across the UK, notably in the West Midlands, with millions going missing each year, an investigation has revealed

The organised trade in stolen plastic trays has largely gone unnoticed by the public, but is widespread across the UK and in the ‘hotspot’ areas of the West Midlands, including West Bromwich, Smethwick and Sparkhill.

The thefts often fail to attract the attention of police who say recovery is a civil rather than criminal matter.

One tray manufacturer said around 12 million baskets are made every year but just ten per cent are returned for recycling.

What are the recycled plastic chips used for? 

Recycled plastic chips can be used for a variety of purposes depending on their composition and grading.

Uses include as weighting in industrial hazard cones or other types of signs.

The chips have also been used to assist with drainage in landscaping projects including golf bunkers. 

Other uses include being used to make up work surface tops or to make building site hoardings instead of the traditional plywood.

<!—->Advertisement

He said: ‘The rest just disappear. The majority should be returned because they belong to somebody.

‘There are some recycling firms that we believe have just set themselves up to break down stolen trays.’

Bakers Basco Ltd, a consortium of leading bakers including Warburtons and Hovis, makes and supplies its members with universal bread trays and has a pool of four million in circulation every year.

Of those, 400,000 go missing annually – running to several million pounds over the years.

It has a dedicated national recovery team who work 24/7 to try to stamp out this activity using pioneering ways to trace and retrieve stolen or missing baskets.

The team have visited, spoken to and frequently seized equipment from thousands of locations and recycling operations across the UK. 

Three years ago it started fitting hidden GPS-enabled trackers which led it to descend on 14 recycling companies, including 12 in inner-city Birmingham and the West Midlands.

The company said its investigations and police information indicated some discreditable firms were potentially making thousands of pounds per day through the stolen baskets.

A Bakers Basco Ltd source said: ‘Clearly if you can make that amount of money you can do the same in Leeds, Glasgow, London wherever. This is not isolated to the Midlands, although it is a hotspot.’

If investigators can show repeated instances of trays ending up at the same recycling centres, Bakers Basco Ltd can apply to the civil courts for an order banning those firms from handling the baskets again.

Once ground up, untraceable plastic is sold on and often shipped abroad by recycling firms

Once ground up, untraceable plastic is sold on and often shipped abroad by recycling firms

Once ground up, untraceable plastic is sold on and often shipped abroad by recycling firms

If those companies breach that order their directors can ultimately be personally liable for any court imposed sanctions including custodial sentences, fines or damages payable to Bakers Basco.

The Bakers Basco Ltd source added: ‘The trackers have led us to backstreet, out-of-the-way premises, which we would probably never have found, were it not for our GPS technology.

Does Bakers Basco ever recover its own trays?

Bakers Basco Ltd investigators have seized trays from some Birmingham recycling companies multiple times.

Between 2013 and 2018 it recovered 11,000 trays during 121 separate visits to two different sites operated by one company – and technology is catching the crooks red-handed.

GPS trackers allow Bakers Basco Ltd to identify the location of multiple trays.

In some instances, crafty crooks leave the stolen trays out in the open, or in disused premises for days to see if they are tracked down by recovery investigators.

If they are not, then they are carried off for lucrative recycling by the criminals.

They then sell on the broken down plastic – known as ‘jazz’ – to other recycling companies and legitimate plastic processors, who are made aware of this, in the UK or they send it abroad. 

<!—->Advertisement

‘Some premises are in what look like rundown warehouses and buildings, often with shutters down, behind locked gates, with what look like very expensive security cameras fitted.

‘In some cases there is no signage to indicate there is a business there at all.

‘We’ve seen some extraordinary sights – workers sitting on the ground sorting rubbish without gloves or boots, operating machinery without visible safety equipment.

‘We saw one Asian woman in her 80s sitting sifting through rubbish.

‘We’ve even seen children sorting rubbish. It is not uncommon for us to visit a recycling place and for workers to scatter and run away.’

In the West Midlands, baskets have been recovered from firms in the ‘hotspot’ areas of Smethwick and Birmingham before they have the chance to be destroyed.

One firm Bakers Basco Ltd had visited on 17 occasions since 2016 was Smethwick-based Arrow Recycling, recovering 841 trays before their destruction.

It led to the recycling firm entering into a formal agreement with Bakers Basco Ltd not to take possession of its equipment. 

An Arrow Recycling Ltd spokesman confirmed it had entered into an agreement with Bakers Basco Ltd not to take possession of its trays.

He said the company did not collect the trays itself, but had accepted them from ‘guys’ who had picked up cardboard and plastic from supermarkets.

Asked why the company had not asked for waste transfer notes from those delivering trays, the spokesman said the firm was now not accepting any trays unless they came from an official source with a waste transfer note.

He added that the company alerted Baskers Basco Ltd if it receives any of its trays.

Bakers Basco Ltd also used its GPS trackers to gather evidence against another Birmingham recycling firm, Capital Waste Management Ltd, based at Cape Yard on Grice Street.

The trays are taken to recycling companies where they are shredded and sold on for other uses

The trays are taken to recycling companies where they are shredded and sold on for other uses

The trays are taken to recycling companies where they are shredded and sold on for other uses

Recycling company’s health and safety woes 

In an unconnected incident, an Arrow Recycling worker was left in a coma when he was crushed by a falling stack of baled cardboard in April 2016.

Wolverhampton Crown Court later heard how Parvez Ahmed, 49, was left fighting for his life after around 400 kilograms of stacked cardboard fell on him, leaving him with a cracked skull and a brain haemorrhage.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation found the firm had failed to establish a safe way to stack the bales, which resulted in the unstable and overly heavy bales that led to the collapse.

The company, based on Cornwall Road, pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Heights Regulations 2005 and was fined £160,000.

<!—->Advertisement

At Birmingham County Court last May, Basco presented evidence collected on five separate occasions where a quantity of plastic baskets was taken without permission, the journey each batch took, and when they arrived at Capital Waste Management Ltd’s premises.

Capital Waste Management Ltd agreed to enter into an order not to accept Bakers Basco’s equipment again and pay £7,500 in damages and costs.

Capital Waste was set up in April 2018 by sole director Mandeep Gill, 30. The company was dissolved last November having never filed accounts.

Elsewhere in the country, Bakers Basco Ltd rumbled an elaborate scam in which bakery workers stole 60 lorry loads of plastic trays worth £560,000 to recycle.

Paul Rogers, Robert Cooper and Paul Mathews were jailed for a total of more than ten years after being convicted at Burnley Crown Court of conspiracy to steal in 2014.

They plotted to take the trays from the plant in Bolton, Greater Manchester, where Rogers and Cooper both worked.

The pair then sold the trays to PM Plastics in Darwen, Lancashire, owned by Matthews, where the plastic was chipped for recycling as part of the cash-making scheme.

Despite the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Bakers Basco Ltd still has a number of live investigations in progress with the number of recovery visits up 112 per cent, year-on-year.

Paul Empson, General Manager of Bakers Basco, said: ‘Most people see recycling as a benefit to society: but sometimes, the exact opposite is the case.

‘This is a major growing problem for the UK’s transport and logistics industries around the unethical recycling of stolen plastic items that don’t need to be recycled.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 DiazHub.