Boris wins right to close 3 fire stations that sent help to the Apollo Theatre last night

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ampp3d — from Mirror

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London councils have lost a

High Court battle with Mayor

Boris Johnson.

Last night London’s fire crews were attending the Apollo Theatre accident. Today, a court decided it was OK for Mayor Boris Johnson to close three of the eight stations that sent help.

Islington, Camden, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Lewisham and Greenwich took the legal action over the cuts, which the Mayor says will save £28.8m.

Westminster, Knightsbridge and Southwark stations are now all set to be closed on January 9 2014.

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Government to make 40 per cent of Britain available for fracking

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Coalition forges ahead with licences

TOM BAWDEN  Tuesday 17 December 2013
The vast disruption that could be caused across the country by fracking has been laid bare, with the Government announcing it would make 40 per cent
of Britain available to companies to explore for oil and gas next year.
Local communities could be subjected to thousands of wells being dug every year in the search for fossil fuels – requiring billions of litres of water,
with dozens of lorries passing by every day – after the Coalition said it would put oil and gas licences covering 100,000 square kilometres up for auction next summer.

The auction, which would give the licence-winners exclusive rights to explore an area for oil and gas, but would require additional permits for fracking,

would add to the 19,000 square kilometres of licences that have already been sold to hydrocarbon producers.

Opponents of the drilling technique were quick to criticise the plans. Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth said:

“These plans cast a dark shadow over many communities across Britain who could now face the threat of fracking in their backyard.”

Read full Independent article here

Rising damp: Landlords report a surge in mould complaints as squeezed tenants underheat homes

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From Inside Housing .co.uk

20/12/2013 | By Carl BrownStuart Macdonald

Rising energy bills and increasing fuel poverty are being blamed for a surge in the number of calls to landlords across the UK to deal with mould, damp and condensation compared with previous winters.

Mould, which damages properties and tenants’ health, can increase in the winter if homes are not sufficiently heated because water vapour and condensation can build up.

Aragon Housing Association, a subsidiary of 10,000-home Grand Union Housing Group, received 76 requests from tenants for mould and damp inspections last month, a 300 per cent increase on the 19 received in November last year.

First Ark Group, the parent company of 14,000-home Knowsley Housing Trust, said tenant requests for damp inspections had doubled from 20 last November to 40 last month.

Aileen Davis, managing director of Aragon, said: ‘People cannot afford to heat their homes and are having to make the choice as to whether to eat or heat.’

A spokesperson for First Ark said this ‘could be due to the increase in costs for gas and electricity’.

In a survey of 30 landlords this month, Direct Works Forum, a consultancy which represents social landlords’ in-house maintenance teams, found 90 per cent had ‘encountered an increase in condensation problems since fuel poverty began to bite’.

Read fill article at Inside Housing here

We must not normalise food banks. Their proliferation is a mark of shame on this country

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Ministers refuse to acknowledge the depth and scale of the crisis

The Independent   LUCIANA BERGER Wednesday 18 December 2013

It is a national disgrace that this Christmas there are tens of thousands having to turn to food banks. Britain is experiencing a food poverty explosion. The Trussell Trust estimate that they will feed 700,000 people this financial year. Whilst 13 million people in Britain are living below the poverty line – one in five – it’s no surprise that hunger is a reality for so many adults and children. Yet this in one of the richest countries on earth.

Last year I secured the first parliamentary debate on food banks. It was a relatively new phenomenon. Most people had never heard of them a few years ago. My Labour colleagues and I exposed some shocking statistics: almost one in ten people in the UK have skipped meals because of poverty, gone without food to feed their families or relied on friends and family for food. We pressed ministers to tackle the sharp end of the cost of living crisis, but we failed. Ministers refuse to acknowledge the depth and scale of the crisis. Yet ministers view food banks as merely an expression of people’s good will, a worthy charitable enterprise or the manifestation of the illusive ‘big society’.

Full Independent article here

PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO POLICE AND STATE AGENCY RESPONSE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

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PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO POLICE AND STATE AGENCY RESPONSE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

TO: HOME SECRETARY, THERESA MAY

The national domestic violence charity Refuge, together with the family of Maria Stubbings, are calling on the Government to open a public inquiry to investigate why victims of domestic violence are still not getting the protection they deserve from the police and other state agencies.

In 2008, Maria Stubbings was murdered by her former partner, despite making repeated calls for help to Essex Police. An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) showed that Essex Police made a catalogue of shocking errors in their response to Maria.

Maria's case is not an isolated one. Two women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner. Domestic violence is a national problem; it requires a national response.

Why is this important?

Every single week, two women are killed as a result of domestic violence. Each death leaves behind devastated relatives and friends.  

Maria Stubbings was murdered by her former partner, Marc Chivers, in December 2008 – just 11 months after Chivers was released from prison in Germany for killing a previous girlfriend. Essex Police were aware of his previous conviction for murder. They were also aware that in July 2008 he had been convicted and jailed for assaulting Maria. Before Chivers’ release from prison, Essex Police disabled an alarm in Maria’s home. No conditions were placed on Chivers on his release and no steps were taken to provide protection for Maria.

In the days leading up to her death, Maria called the police to ask for help as Chivers was 'hanging round' her home. The case was closed after officers visited Maria’s home and got her to sign their notebooks saying she didn’t want further action taken. This is despite the fact that they believed Chivers might be present at the time in Maria’s home.

Maria's case is not a one-off. Refuge supports a number of families who have lost loved ones to domestic violence. Many women using our services also tell us that they feel completely let down by the police, and other state agencies.

Numerous IPCC investigations into police handling of domestic violence have shown recurring failings in forces across the country - sometimes in the most basic of policing duties.  

We urgently need a public inquiry to investigate why these failures keep happening. IPCC reports put the spotlight on individual police forces – but no-one is looking at the national picture. A public inquiry will make links between forces and help improve the state response to domestic violence across the country.

Refuge, the national domestic violence charity, and Maria’s family are determined to ensure that Maria did not die in vain. Please add your voice to this campaign.

Maria’s family are also fundraising for Refuge in her memory. Click here: http://www.justgiving.com/MariaFernandez

Find out more about domestic violence and our campaign In Maria's Name at http://refuge.org.uk/maria

Support the Fire Fighters

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The Tory sleight of hand over ’1.1 million more’ private sector jobs

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By James Bloodworth | Published: December 19, 2013

David Cameron likes to boast that his government has created over a million private sector jobs since 2010.

The Prime Minister has made the claim in the commons during PMQs, and yesterday it was once again made by chairman of the Conservative party Grant Shapps in an article entitled ‘Five simple messages for the doorstep this Christmas‘.

“We are cutting taxes for British businesses, helping to create jobs. Overall, 1.1 million more people are now working compared to the election,” Shapps boasted, accompanying his post with the following graph:

Million jobs

 

The first thing one notices about the graph is the large jump in private sector jobs seemingly created in April 2012, just short of two years after the coalition came to office. Perhaps on seeing this graph you, like me, were wondering what accounted for this encouraging surge in private sector employment last year. What innovative (and clearly successful) policy did the coalition introduce which created so many jobs so quickly?

They didn’t, is the answer, because the large increase in private sector employment seen in April 2012 was actually nothing of the sort, but rather was due to the reclasification of 196,000 public sector jobs to private sector ones. In reality, just under a fifth of the coalition’s ‘million new jobs’ are actually the result of the reclasification of further education and sixth form college teachers as private sector employees.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) made this clear last year when it said:

“These educational bodies employed 196,000 people in March 2012 and the reclassification therefore results in a large fall in public sector employment and a corresponding large increase in private sector employment between March and June 2012.”

Million jobsClaiming the government has created a ‘million new jobs’ relies on a completely dishonest interpretation of the figures. Especially making the same claim repeatedly even after it’s been pointed out as wrong by no less than the ONS.

And this from a party which in opposition regularly accused Labour of twisting the statistics to suit its own agenda.