GUNS IN DAGENHAM: Four crooks jailed for weapons offences

Dagenham – VIJAY SHAH via MIKE BROOKE and Barking and Dagenham Post

Four people have been sent to prison in the United Kingdom for weapon possession offences after guns were discovered at a house in the town of Dagenham, Greater London, local newspaper the Barking and Dagenham Post reported on its website this past Friday.

More weapons were discovered secreted away in the boot of a car, the newspaper stated. The four individuals, three men and a woman, were put behind bars for a total of 29 years six months for possessing the firearms, which also came with an unspecified amount of ammunition.

 

The criminals, named by the Post as Spencer Tapper, Sandy Hunter, Mahesh Chaitoo and Aymon Popo, were sent down by Maidstone Crown Court in the county of Kent after pleading guilty to the firearms charges on January 29, 2018, according to the newspaper.

Police officers allied with the Trident and Area Crime Command, a branch of the Metropolitan force that covers the Greater London area, raided a house in Dagenham’s Goresbrook Road where they uncovered a handgun with fifteen live rounds of ammunition, and then another twenty rounds in a holdall hidden in a bedroom of the house. Another stash of illegal weaponry was found when a car was pulled over on the M2 motorway, a major road running through Kent from the London region.

Sandy Hunter, 33, of Goresbrook Road in Dagenham, was handed by Maidstone court a two-and-a-half years sentence for assisting an offender. Spencer Tapper, 27, of School Road, also in Dagenham, was sentenced to fifteen years on two charges of possessing a firearm and two charges of possessing ammunition. Aymon Popo, 33, from Romford, was given six-and-a-half years for conspiracy to possess a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life. Mahesh Chaitoo, 28, from Southend-on-Sea, was sentenced to five-and-a-half years for possessing a firearm.

“These defendants were carrying and exchanging firearms across London and Kent,” Det Insp Tim Grinsted said.

‘Firearms pose a significant danger to the public and we are delighted that we’ve been able to take them off the streets.

‘Gun crime of any kind will not be tolerated and we are committed to removing firearms from criminal circulation.”

A gun pickup was arranged where Tapper and Chaitoo were to visit the Kentish town of Ramsgate, but their vehicle was stopped on the M2 motorway where a gun and forty-two rounds of bullets were discovered concealed in the boot of Chaitoo’s car. Police later linked Popo to the investigation in Dagenham. He was charged with “being the conduit who arranged to transport the firearm” and for conspiracy to possess a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

SOURCES:

Sherrie Bachell.

“Four are jailed after guns and ammunition found at Dagenham address and in car boot” – Mike Brooke, Barking and Dagenham Post/Archant Community Media Ltd (9 February 2018) http://www.barkinganddagenhampost.co.uk/news/crime-court/four-are-jailed-after-guns-and-ammunition-found-at-dagenham-address-and-in-car-boot-1-5388322

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Free photo Ammo Firearms Bullets Weapon Pistol Handgun Gun – Max Pixel” – Max Pixel http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Ammo-Firearms-Bullets-Weapon-Pistol-Handgun-Gun-231696

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VOTES FOR WOMEN WEEKEND: London museum marks key democratic milestone

London – VIJAY SHAH via sources

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of British women winning the right to vote in elections, the Museum of London is hosting the Votes for Women Weekend from today in honour of women’s suffrage, featuring various participatory activities for people of all ages, the magazine Skint London writes.

The event, which is being held over two days from 3-4 February, 2018 and is free entry, promises to be an immersive and fun experience celebrating this key milestone in universal suffrage, when women over the age of thirty finally won the right to help choose who governs us, after a long struggle.

 

Votes for Women Weekend will feature lots of performances, photography, workshops, poetry and other things to do. Visitors can take part in a re-enactment of a suffragette rally, which also has a trip through history to the present day, and a two-hour long ‘banner-thon’ where they can create their own digital banners in collaboration with the charity Digital Drama’s 100 Banners projects. The banners will be taken on a march to the UK parliament.

Herstory fans can also learn about how the early 20th-century police used photography to capture suffragette activities undercover, and even play suffragette-inspired games in an Edwardian living room, including one called ‘Pank-a-squith’, a board game said to be have conceived by the Suffragettes themselves.

There will also be a spoken poetry jam and a chance to discover stories about inspirational women and girls, as well as learning about significant participants in the struggle to gain women the vote, such as Millicent Fawcett and Sophia Duleep Singh.

British women received the right to vote on the 6th of February, 1918, after a long struggle by early women’s activists, known as the Suffragettes, who first planned their protests in the drawing rooms of Victorian Britain, before eventually taking to rallies, civil disobedience protests, and in some cases, even getting into trouble with the law.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Super London, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/SuperLNDN

Skint London Mag, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/SkintLondon

“Top Skint picks for the Weekend!” – Skint London (2 February 2018) http://www.skintlondon.com/top-skint-picks-for-the-weekend-30/

“Votes for Women weekend” – Museum of London https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london/whats-on/votes-women-weekend?id=154608

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Suffragettes, England, 1908.JPG” – The New York Times photo archive via Mr. Gustafson, Wikimedia Commons (21 October 2007) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Suffragettes,_England,_1908.JPG

MAURITIUS’ 50TH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY: Massive family party launched

London – VIJAY SHAH

 

The organisers behind the Mauritian Open Air Festival, a yearly event celebrating Mauritian food, culture and general family entertainment and held in north London, have announced a special ‘family party’ this March, HEM News Agency exclusively reports.

The special event will be held on the 10 March 2018 at the Decorum Banqueting Suites in Wood Green, north London, just two days before the island of Mauritius itself marks a half-century of free rule. Previously the country of 1.8 million people was an outpost of the British Empire.

Celebrations will take place against the backdrop of a live concert by the Omaz Sega Band, performing the national music of Mauritius, séga. For patrons, there will also be a fully-licensed and stocked bar and Mauritian snacks on offer. There will also be tight security and a smart dress code enforced. The event will also be sponsored by a handful of Mauritius-connected companies, including the national airline of the country, Air Mauritius.

SOURCES/IMAGE CREDIT:

Mauritius Open Air Festival, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/mauritiusfestival/

“INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATION PARTY” – Mauritius Open Air Festival http://www.mauritiusfestival.com/buy-tickets-50-year-independence/

MEETINGS & TAXES: tax legal conference in London later this month

London – VIJAY SHAH

 

The International Bar Association (IBA), a worldwide club for legal professionals and bar societies is hosting its Annual IBA Finance & Capital Markets Tax Conference later this month here in London, at the etc.venues conference centre in Fenchurch Street, HEM News Agency exclusively reports.

The IBA’s conference, now in its seventh year, will bring together the best minds in tax and legal subjects. The event will attract a significant number of lawyers in the fields of tax, corporate, finance and banking law, as well as bankers, economists and accountants to central London to explore all the latest news and advances in corporate finance, tax and capital markets today.

Running over just two days on the 29-30th January 2018, the 7th Annual IBA Finance & Capital Markets Tax Conference will cover topics such as updates on European and US global developments; financing issues and trends; M&A; tax administration and debt workouts, among many others.

Managed by conference chairperson Jack Bernstein of Toronto-based law firm Aird & Berlis, the summit will feature speakers from across the globe, with the majority flying in from the Continent and North America. The event is also being promoted by a team of big name sponsors from the legal world, including Maisto e Associati, Bloomberg Tax, Linklaters, CMS and Duff & Phelps, with firm support from the International Law Office.

SOURCES:

International Bar Association, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/internationalbarassociation/

“7th Annual IBA Finance & Capital Markets Tax Conference” – International Bar Association https://www.ibanet.org/Conferences/conf856.aspx

“About the IBA” – International Bar Association https://www.ibanet.org/About_the_IBA/About_the_IBA.aspx

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Logo of the International Bar Association.jpg” – Timlicence, Wikimedia Commons (16 March 2011) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Logo_of_the_International_Bar_Association.jpg

CHEMICAL ‘COWARDS’ – Pair of robbers who attacked women with ammonia jailed

London – VIJAY SHAH via ALEX SHAW and Newham Recorder

Two vicious criminals who laughed as they launched attacks on people have been sentenced by a judge who described their attacks as ‘horrifying, cruel and barbaric’ have been sentenced, the Newham Recorder reports.

Joshua Jordan and Sadik Kamara launched attacks on women using ammonia liquid, which thy sprayed on their victims in order to rob them. After spraying the ‘high strength corrosive liquid’ in the violent robberies on two victims, they were reported as leaving the scenes laughing by witnesses. Kamara, aged 24, of Booth Road, Silvertown, and his accomplice Jordan, 20 years and living in Ruscoe Road, Canning Town, both in south Newham, were jailed for 14 years each by a judge at the Old Bailey court in London.

 

The trial, the culmination of proceedings that took place in early October, was presided over by Judge Dodd QC, who described the men’s attacks as “horrifying, cruel and barbaric” and said that the duo posed a significant risk to the public of further harm. It took the jury less than an hour to convict Jordan and Kamara.

The robbers would travel from their homes in Newham to the neighbouring borough of Hackney, where they were casing a convenience store in Mare Street, Central Hackney. Then on March 10, they launched their attack, targeting the 50-year-old storekeeper, who was working the tills alone at the time. Four men, believed to include Jordan and Kamara, entered the store. Without warning, the masked intruders walked straight to the storekeeper, with Kamara squirted the ammonia directly into her face. He did not make any demands for cash or even give the victim any warning.

Despite being sprayed from close range, CCTV footage from inside the store showed the storekeeper gallantly trying to fight off and kick out the gang, who are seen milling around the front of the shop. The scuffle sends store displays crashing to the floor as the woman tries to protect the shop from being plundered.

After fleeing the supermarket in a getaway car, the gang chanced upon their next victim, also a woman in her fifties, in Hackney’s Hassett Road. Two robbers got out of the car and bundled the woman to the ground, where they repeatedly sprayed the liquid into her face and stole her handbag. Police found discarded bottles of the substance at both crime scenes, the labels clearly stating that the ammonia could cause severe skin burns and blindness.

Both the shopkeeper and pedestrian who were assaulted were rushed to hospital with burns, one of which sustained chemical burns to her mouth also. While neither suffered permanent harm, the storekeeper was traumatised to the point she has now given up working at the shop.

CCTV cameras caught the gang, including Kamara and Jordan, who were subsequently arrested at their homes after police raids in May this year. Medical paperwork was found in Kamara’s home suggesting he had sought treatment, possibly for chemical burns, a day after the robberies. At the hospital, Kamara lied to doctors, claiming he had squirted ammonia in his eye while cleaning. He had since recovered from the burns.

The two robbers, who were described by investigators as little more than ‘cowards’, were convicted of two counts of applying a corrosive fluid with intent to burn, maim, disfigure or disable or to do some grievous bodily harm; one count of robbery; and one count of attempted robbery. Kamara was also told to make restitution of £2,000 (USD $2,678) to the victims.

Investigation lead Det Con Ben Kahane called the pair’s actions “cowardly in the extreme”.

“Five physically strong males preying on lone slightly built women to attack and rob,” he said, adding: “I hope they use the 14 years’ imprisonment that they have received to reflect on this.”

The report does not mention the fate of the other members of Kamara’s and Jordan’s gang. Acid attacks and assaults with corrosive chemicals such as ammonia and bleach are the rise in London, with many such attacks carried out for the purposes of robbing the victim.

SOURCES:

Newham Recorder, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/Newham.Recorder/

“Jailed: “Cowardly” Newham robbers who burnt women’s faces with ammonia” – Alex Shaw, Newham Recorder/Archant (8 December 2017) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/crime-court/jailed-cowardly-newham-robbers-who-burnt-women-s-faces-with-ammonia-1-5314590

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Liquid ammonia bottle.jpg” – Nadina Wiórkiewicz, Fotoedukacja/Wikimedia Commons (23 January 2011) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Liquid_ammonia_bottle.jpg

 

 

BUSINESS BOOK AWARDS: Authors in business invited to contribute to inaugural event

London – VIJAY SHAH via journalism.co.uk

Authors of books geared towards business are being invited to submit their work to the first ever Business Book Awards in the United Kingdom, journalism.co.uk reports.

The awards, which take place for the first time at London’s Grange City Hotel on the 16th of March, 2018, were founded by long established mentor and publisher for hundred of UK entrepreneurs, Lucy McCarraher. She will be working with event organisers ThinkFest on the event. McCarraher is also a prolific author, with eleven books under her name, and is also the co-founder and managing editor of publishing firm Rethink Press. She has seen stints as a writing coach, journalist and a public speaker in a varied and exciting career that has taken her from the UK to Singapore and Australia.

 

The Business Book Awards aim to celebrate business book authors and the expertise, life experiences and knowledge they help bring to a wider audience, as well as increase public awareness and appreciation of the work business writers do, in a world of niche publishing that is largely ignored by the mainstream reading economy. The role of business authors has been slowly thrust into the limelight thanks to the popularity of business-oriented TV programmes like The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den, as well as the UK’s government’s encouragement of entrepreneurship and small/medium enterprises as a whole.

Many major ‘celebrities’ in the business book publishing world have pledged their support, including one of the UK’s most successful business authors, Shaa Wasmund MBE, and co-founder of Dent Global, Daniel Priestley, author of four bestselling business books. Other key attendees expected are Heather Townsend, author of The Financial Times Guide to Business Networking, and Bridget Shine, the Chief Executive of the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG).

A panel of top judges has also been selected, including head judge Alison Jones,  founder of Practical Inspiration Publishing, a partnership publishing company. She is also the host of The Extraordinary Business Book Club, a podcast and community for writers and readers of extraordinary business books, and author of This Book Means Business. She worked for twenty-five years with leading book companies such as Chambers, Oxford University Press and Macmillan and was director of innovation strategy at Palgrave Macmillan. Joining Jones at the judge’s table will be John Williams – founder of The Ideas Lab and accomplished business author, and Sian Prime – coach and facilitator in innovation and creative entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Founder Lucy McCarraher told journalism.co.uk: “Every business author should enter for these awards. The high profile ambassadors, the well qualified judges and the integrity of the judging process means the Business Book Awards carry high kudos in the business world and further afield. Short-listed and winning authors will be able to take advantage of the publicity and promotion.

‘The Business Book Awards welcomes every good book and every method of publication. I want to recognise business book publishing and authorship in all its forms, and bring the best authors to public recognition. This is a truly egalitarian initiative, we welcome those who self-publish and have a broad outlook.”

The awards are open to authors with work published in 2017, and the deadline for submissions is 31st December 2017. The shortlist of nominees will be announced on 17th January, with one business author being selected for Business Book of the Year 2018, the highest honour to be bestowed at the ceremony.

Authors or publishers wishing to enter the awards can do so through the website: https://www.businessbookawards.co.uk/enter/.

SOURCES:

“Call for business authors to enter the Inaugural Business Book Awards” – Famous Publicity Ltd, journalism.co.uk/Mousetrap Media Ltd (16 November 2017) https://www.journalism.co.uk/press-releases/call-for-business-authors-to-enter-the-inaugural-business-book-awards-/s66/a713322/

“Business Book Awards – Celebrating the Best in Business Books” – The Business Book Awards/Lucy McGarraher/ThinkFest https://www.businessbookawards.co.uk/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Free stock photo of books, business, coffee” – Pixabay via Pexels (8 March 2015) https://www.pexels.com/photo/books-business-coffee-computer-259162/

ROGUE LANDLORDS: Newham council raid; man found living in meter cupboard

London – VIJAY SHAH via Newham Council

In yet another sign of the housing crisis gripping London, council officials in the east of the city found a man forced to sleep in a room no bigger than a store cupboard after conducting a raid on an overcrowded home in Beckton, Newham Council wrote on its website on Friday.

Housing officers from Newham Council, which administers the Beckton area, were tipped off that the house in the south of the borough was inhabited by more people than was allowed legally. The council’s private housing team sector entered the property, with the borough’s mayor, Sir Robin Wales and representatives of the GMB workers’ union, Warren Kenny (London Regional Secretary), and Tim Roache (General Secretary) in attendance.

Credit: speedpropertybuyers.co.uk

 

What they saw shocked them. In the Beckton house, one man was found to have been paying hundreds of pounds in rent per month to live in a store cupboard no bigger than 1 metre by 2 metres in area, with enough room for a single mattress only. The man’s living situation was made more dangerous by the presence of a gas meter and pipes directly above his bed. The raid also discovered a total of eleven sleeping spaces in the property, including bunk beds crammed into single rooms. The team also uncovered fire and electrical safety hazards, according to Newham Council.

The mayor and GMB leadership attended the raid to discover the day-to-day operations of those involved in enforcing Newham’s landlord licensing scheme, which requires all private housing landlords in the borough to purchase a five-year licence which requires them to obey certain regulations such as on overcrowding and fire safety. Newham was the first London borough to introduce such a scheme, which is now under threat of non-renewal due to central government financial cutbacks.

The housing officers also paid a visit to another suspect property in Upton Park, in northern Newham. They stumbled across a shed being rented out as a living space. Three people were found living in the shed, paying £200 a month each to live in sub-standard and cramped spaces. The house itself was split into eight rooms over three floors, which were being shared between four different families.

The rogue landlords responsible for renting out the properties raided by the officers will be subject to financial penalty notices, which could see them paying fines of up to £30,000 per offence committed, Newham Council said.

Mayor Wales said: “It cannot be right in the 21st century, in one of the world’s wealthiest cities, a young man is being forced to pay hundreds of pounds to rent a cupboard under the stairs, sleeping alongside the gas metre [sic].

‘The scenes we saw on this visit are a timely reminder that, while by tackling bad landlords we are driving up standards, there is still much to do. That is why it’s imperative that the government allow us to continue with this work, and stop the exploitation of tenants.’

‘The scheme aims to improve the quality of property in the private sector, to make the experience of renting homes in the borough safer and more secure for our residents.

‘The GMB union leadership was keen to come down and see our licensing scheme in action, to understand why it’s so important.”

The GMB’s general secretary, Tim Roache added: “Our visit to Newham was a real eye-opener, we all know the housing market is broken, but finding people living in cupboards marks a new low.

‘It’s fantastic to see how Newham’s licensing scheme is forcing this kind of chronic exploitation of tenants into the light, and how its effective enforcement by dedicated workers on the front line is bring the guilty landlords to book.

‘I would appeal to the government to act quickly and allow Newham to continue this critically important work.”

London has a whole has become notorious for its overheated housing market, with often sky-high rents, coupled with a low level of new houses being built, enabling unscrupulous landlords to take advantage of desperate renters priced out of the buying market, as well as new settlers in the city. Several landlords in outer London boroughs were prosecuted recently for renting out converted outbuildings and garden sheds, overcrowding family homes and letting out properties with numerous healthy and safety violations. The housing market problem has now spread far beyond the borders of Greater London, with the South East of England reporting some of the UK’s highest house prices.

SOURCES:

Newham London, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/newhamcouncil/

“Man found sleeping in under the stairs cupboard in rogue landlord raid” – Newham London/Newham Council (3 November 2017) https://www.newham.gov.uk/Pages/News/Man-found-sleeping-in-under-the-stairs-cupboard-in-rogue-landlord-raid.aspx?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=SocialSignIn&utm_source=Facebook&utm_content=News

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Renting Property” – Jeff Djevdet, Flickr (22 February 2016) https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffdjevdet/24568649014

MANOR PARK SURGERY: Failing Newham medical centre shuttered by CQC

London – VIJAY SHAH via ALEX SHAW and Newham Recorder

A poorly performing doctor’s surgery in the London Borough of Newham’s Manor Park area, east London, was ordered to close down after an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) ruled it as inadequate, reported local newspaper Newham Recorder.

The Manor Park Medical Centre, in Romford Road, was responsible for 1,300 local patients. It’s closure came after it failed three inspection reports in a row, the last one carried out in July 2017, the Newham Recorder stated. The CQC, which ensures standards of medical facilities in the UK, was scathing in its appraisal of the Manor Park Medical Centre, rating it as ‘inadequate’ in five key areas. A notice was pinned to the surgery’s house-like varnished wooden door announcing its closure, and offering a map and address of an alternative medical facility in nearby Church Road. The notice was issued by the Newham NHS Clinical Commissioning Group.

 

The Medical Centre, headed by Dr Surendra Kumar Dhariwal, appealed against the closure decision, but the CQC and a court at a first-tier tribunal had the upper hand. The centre’s registration was terminated this past Monday, which meant the practice no longer is open to patients.

“I was very concerned about patient care at Dr Surendra Kumar Dhariwal’s practice and the lack of response or improvement we have witnessed since previous inspections,” said Prof Ursula Gallagher, CQC deputy chief inspector of GP practices.

The regulator was “left with no option” but to close the practice “in the interests of patients,” she added.

The Medical Centre had been running into trouble since November 2016, and later inspections revealed no improvement in the situation. CQC inspectors were shocked by the poor levels of staff appraisal and training, unclear staffing arrangements and there were noticeable gaps in background checking of new staff.

The inspectors also raised concerns about the physical state of the centre and its medicine stocks. The Newham Recorder stated that the premises were covered in dust and some pharmaceutical items were also dusty or expired.

A significant amount of medicines and equipment were not fit for use and there were no effective systems in place to address this,” read the report.

It stated there was “no evidence” of the duty of candour, the legal duty of health centres to inform and apologise to patients if mistakes in their care have led to harm.

Dr Dhaliwal was not available for comment at the time of the Recorder’s report, but previously he claimed that improvements were made to the Manor Park Medical Centre after the earlier inspections and it was a “really good practice”. He had been a member of medical staff at the centre for fifty years. The CQC said that the failings at the centre posed a great risk of harm to its patients. It is not known if or when the centre may reopen.

SOURCES:

Newham Recorder, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/Newham.Recorder/

“Three strikes and out for Manor Park GP surgery” – Alex Shaw, Newham Recorder/Archant (6 October 2017) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/health/three-strikes-and-out-for-manor-park-gp-surgery-1-5225987

IMAGE CREDIT:

Google Maps https://maps.google.co.uk/

STRATFORD CENTRE: Six people hurt in fight and acid attack near shopping mall

London – VIJAY SHAH via ALIA ROPUN, ALAN MCGUINNESS, IAN FRANCIS and Sky News

Six men were reported injured after a ‘noxious substance’ was thrown in a street fight near the Stratford Centre shopping arcade in Stratford, east London yesterday at around 8 pm, Sky News said today.

The incident occurred near to a Subway restaurant on the Broadway, close to Stratford’s bus station and the Westfield Stratford City retail complex. Three of the individuals needed hospital treatment after having a chemical thrown on them during the mêlée between two separate groups of males, Sky News reported. A 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm.

 

Shoppers saw one man in agony as friends called for help by shouting “it is an acid attack, his skin is burning”. People rushed to the scene with water to ease the man’s chemical burns, according to the broadcaster.

One eyewitness, an assistant manager of a local Burger King restaurant who only gave his name as Hossen, told Sky News that he saw a victim and another male believed to be the victim’s friend, run into his restaurant and then to its washroom, desperate to wash off the corrosive chemical. Hossen said “There were cuts around his eyes and he was trying to chuck water into them”

The area where the fight took place was quickly cordoned off and treatment offered to the victims. Police, paramedics and fire crews all attended within 10 minutes. Paul Gibson, an assistant director of operations with the London Ambulance Service, said: “We treated six patients in total  and took three to London hospitals”.

Stratford administratively falls under the London Borough of Newham, and the borough’s police chief superintendent, Ade Adelekan, said: “I would like to be very clear concerning this incident.

“What initially may have been perceived as a number of random attacks has, on closer inspection, been found to be one incident involving two groups of males”.

Sky News reports that none of the men suffered serious harm in the street fight.

Attacks on people by assailants with chemicals such as sulphuric acid, bleach and drain cleaner were once associated with honour attacks in places like South Asia, but have become increasingly common in London, due to the ease of buying and carrying around dangerous chemicals, and the punishment for such attacks is less severe than assaults with knives or guns.

In June, 21-year-old student and model Resham Khan was travelling in Newham’s Beckton area with her cousin, Jameel Mukhtar, when an assailant flung acid in their faces while they were waiting at traffic lights. Even as far as back as 2011, a mother had acid splashed at her while walking her two children home from school in Upton Park. Latest figures published by the Evening Standard suggest a quarter of all acid attacks in London this year have occurred within Newham’s boundaries.

SOURCES:

Alia Ropun.

upday for Samsung UK http://www.upday.com/en/

“Six hurt in ‘acid attack’ at Stratford Centre in London” – Alan McGuinness and Ian Francis, Sky News/Sky UK (24 September 2017) http://news.sky.com/story/six-hurt-after-being-sprayed-with-noxious-substance-at-westfield-in-stratford-11050889

“Acid attack on school-run mother in Newham” – BBC News/BBC (4 May 2011) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-13282439

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Stratford Centre, Stratford” – N. Chadwick, geograph (20 January 2009) http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1128397

 

UBER: Disruptive taxi app firm stripped of licence by London’s TfL

London – VIJAY SHAH via SARAH BUTLER, GWYN TOPHAM and The Guardian

San Francisco-based taxi app company Uber has had its application to renew its public carriage licence turned down by Transport for London (TfL) after its business practices and safety record were called into question by critics, the Guardian newspaper reported today.

The company, founded by Travis Kalanick in 2010, operates in 400 cities around the world and is well known for its cheap prices, its large pool of contracted drivers and its ease of use. But the company has come under fire in London its ‘lack of corporate responsibility’, and its disruptive effect on the city’s indigenous ‘black cab’ licensed minicab trade. Uber has been accused of not properly vetting its drivers’ criminal records and for not doing enough to investigate alleged sexual assaults by contracted taxi drivers.

The move by TfL has created a massive shock in London, with many customers and drivers of Uber condemning the decision not to renew the firm’s licence, which enables it to operate on the city’s streets. Black cab drivers and motoring safety groups however, have expressed support for the decision, blaming Uber for increasing traffic and stealing trade from established cab firms.

 

TfL is said to have rejected Uber’s licence renewal on the basis that it is not a “fit and proper” private car hire operator, according to the Guardian newspaper. The current Uber licence will expire on the 30th of September and the company’s UK arm plans to launch an appeal against TfL’s decision.  Uber works with 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million users, called ‘riders’ in London alone.

Uber’s chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi in a message to the app’s staff issued yesterday said: “The truth is that there is a high cost to a bad reputation,” he wrote. “It really matters what people think of us, especially in a global business like ours.

“It’s critical that we act with integrity in everything we do, and learn how to be a better partner to every city we operate in. That doesn’t mean abandoning our principles – we will vigorously appeal TfL’s decision – but rather building trust through our actions and our behaviour. In doing so, we will show that Uber is not just a really great product, but a really great company that is meaningfully contributing to society, beyond its business and its bottom line.”

TfL was supported by London’s city Mayor, Sadiq Khan, employment rights campaigners and a federation of black cab firms. Uber has in the past been slated for not giving its drivers full employment status and not paying them a living wage, according to its critics. Uber’s customers and drivers have expressed dismay, along with Trade Minister  Greg Hands.

TfL said it had rejected the company’s application to renew its licence because “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility” in relation to reporting serious criminal offences, obtaining medical certificates and driver background checks. TfL has also accused Uber of employing special cloaking software to make it difficult for authorities to access the app and records for such purposes as law enforcement.

Khan said he fully supported TfL’s decision, saying all companies needed to “play by the rules”.

He said: “I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service.

“However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect – particularly when it comes to the safety of customers.”

But Hands, who is also minister for London, said: “At the flick of a pen Sadiq Khan is threatening to put 40,000 people out of work and leave 3.5 million users of Uber stranded.

“Uber must address safety concerns and it is important there is a level playing field across the private hire market.

“But a blanket ban will cause massive inconvenience to millions of Londoners, all while showing that the Mayor of London is closed to business and innovation.”

Sam Gyimah, a Conservative justice minister and MP (Member of Parliament) for the East Surrey political constituency, said it was “possible to have effective regulation of Uber without penalising the consumers who benefit from more choice and lower prices”.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, which represents London’s black cab drivers, said the mayor had made the right decision.

“Since it first came on to our streets Uber has broken the law, exploited its drivers and refused to take responsibility for the safety of passengers. This immoral company has no place on London’s streets,” he said.

Uber said in a statement the decision would “show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies”.

“3.5 million Londoners who use our app, and more than 40,000 licensed drivers who rely on Uber to make a living, will be astounded by this decision,” the company added.

Uber’s maverick business model have caused it to get in hot water in numerous world cities. There were protests against the app in places as far apart as Rio de Janeiro and Paris. Last year, its founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick was forced to step down after allegations of sexual harassment at the company’s headquarters and a fiery exchange with one of his company’s drivers, caught on camera. Many observers say that the decision by TfL could deal a fatal blow to Uber.

SOURCES:

Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/

“Uber stripped of London licence due to lack of corporate responsibility” – Sarah Butler and Gwyn Topham, The Guardian/Guardian News and Media Limited (23 September 2017) https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/22/uber-licence-transport-for-london-tfl

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Uber app” – freestocks.org, Flickr (12 January 2016) https://www.flickr.com/photos/freestocks/23707913564