Three people have reportedly been shot dead in an incident in the United States city of New Orleans, according to an article published in a Scottish newspaper today.
Seven people have also been injured in the shootout in New Orleans, around three miles from the city’s tourist hotspot, the French Quarter, the Sunday Herald newspaper reports. The shooting occurred on Saturday (yesterday) night at the 3400 block area of Claiborne Avenue, a main road which runs the length of the city, according to a local police source, Aaron Looney.
The injured were taken to local hospitals, although their condition was not known. There is no information as yet of the perpetrators or the possible motive or motives and circumstances of the atrocity. Local police are now investigating.
New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell, released a statement via her mayoral office condemning the violence. The statement said: “There is no place in New Orleans for this kind of violence. I speak for everyone in our City when I say we are disgusted, we are infuriated, & we have had more than enough. Three more lives — gone. It has to end… It’s unacceptable anywhere.”
“We are grateful to those on the scene tonight: the NOPD (New Orleans Police Department), EMS (ambulance service), the chaplains and the social workers. We will dedicate any resource necessary to ending this horror and seeing justice done”.
London – VIJAY SHAH via ELLENA CRUSE and Newham Recorder
In a trend replicated across much of the United Kingdom, large numbers of public houses, licenced establishments selling alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. have closed down in the east London borough of Newham, according to figures published in an article from local newspaper, the Newham Recorder. Figures made available by the Inter-Departmental Business Register, a central government database of businesses, state that between the years 2001 to 2017, fifty-two per cent of the borough’s pubs have closed down, leading to a decline in community activities and the appearance of homogenised high streets.
Seventeen years ago, Newham had 105 pubs operating within its territory. As of last year, this number has shrunk down to only fifty, the second highest decline in London, and a development which has troubled the London mayor, Sadiq Khan. Mayor Khan urged central and local governments, including borough councils, and the pub industry to get together to stop the ongoing decline in pubs, many of which have been forced out of business by rising rents and business taxes, alongside a change in consumer drinking habits and the increasing cost of drinking and eating out at pubs. A nationwide smoking ban introduced in 2007 has also been blamed by many in the industry
The Mayor told the Recorder: “The traditional London pub has been at the heart of London’s communities for hundreds of years, but sadly they continue to face a long-term decline in numbers,’
‘As mayor, I have made safeguarding and growing London’s night-time economy a priority and am doing all I can to protect the capital’s iconic pubs.’
‘By creating the most pro-pub planning strategy the capital has ever seen I’ve shown what can be done, and I want to see the government and local authorities match my ambition and help protect these key community hubs for generations to come.”
Many closed-down public houses are converted to other business uses, or increasingly thanks to the city’s housing crisis and rising land prices, demolished to make way for flats or office complexes.
Geoff Strawbridge, the Greater London regional director for the drinking association the Campaign for Real Ale, added: “Camra branches would like to see all London boroughs adopting robust pub protection policies in their strategic plans and enforcing them in their planning decisions.
‘The mayor’s draft London Plan highlights the importance of London’s pubs as part of our heritage and culture and we commend the efforts of his team in reinforcing his message.”
Across all of London during the year 2017, pub numbers declined by around 2.4 per cent, according to the data sets published by the Inter-Departmental Business Register.
Ilford – VIJAY SHAH via ELLENA CRUSE and Ilford Recorder
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan beware, there’s a new kid on the block, and yes, he is actually a child. In a first for the city, London has witnessed the swearing into office (unofficially) of its first ‘children’s mayor’ – as part of a promotional campaign by a new kid-friendly theme park. Kishan Shah (no relation to the reporter), aged nine, and hailing from the upmarket Ilford suburb of Chigwell, has been elected mayor for youngsters with the help of children’s activity centre KidZania, his local newspaper the Ilford Recorder reported this past Thursday.
Shah beat off thousands of other entries and amazed judges at KidZania with his manifesto of improvements he would make to his city if he won. Among his manifesto pledges, Kishan suggested that people waiting in queues should be offered free fruit while they wait, the introduction of new clear signage for public water fountains, and helping children to interact with their new mayor via a suggestion box.
Kishan’s election was the result of a nationwide search by KidZania, an indoor theme park for children in west London, for a ‘KidZania London city mayor’ as part of their launch of a new annual pass that gives children unlimited access to their activity centre for twelve months. To celebrate Shah’s new ambassadorial role, KidZania will be giving his entire class a trip to their centre, a gold birthday party package for the new mayor himself, and even his own set of mayoral robes and keys to the KidZania City. Shah will also be the first recipient of the new KidZania yearly pass.
Kishan’s new job will be largely promoting KidZania activities, including the official opening of new attractions by the activity centre. The youngster was said to be thrilled at being chosen to be mayor, telling the Recorder: “I would make an excellent mayor as I am calm, friendly and approachable.
“I am also prepared to put in the hard work that being mayor would involve.”
Kishan’s mother Brijal added that the family were proud of their son winning the competition. She said: “He is an incredible boy with so much to give and I know he’ll do a brilliant job for KidZania”
The chief executive officer of KidZania London, Eddie Kemsley, also commented on the new mayor: “We received so many wonderful applications for the mayor position and we thank everyone for their efforts.
“However, there can only be one mayor and we are so happy for Kishan to come on board the KidZania London team.
“His personality really shone through in his application and we loved his ideas about introducing a mayor’s comment box in the city.
“We know he’ll be an enthusiastic voice for the people and we can’t wait for him to get started.”
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.
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.
In attendance at a meeting of the Parliamentary Transport Committee in the Houses of Parliament, Mayor Wales said: “A bridge at Gallions Reach in Beckton has been unnecessarily delayed for seven years. Having only a ferry is simply not good enough for London in the 21st century. London is moving east and a bridge should be built urgently“.
The Newham mayor also told the committee that he was against any plans to levy tolls for vehicles using the proposed river crossing at Beckton. He argued that people living and working in west London, who have several bridges at their disposal, are not required to pay to cross them, so the same courtesy should be extending to Londoners in the east. “If there are tolls there must be reductions for local people and local concessions“, Wales added.
There was no word of the London Mayor Boris Johnson‘s response to Wales’ criticism of his cabinet’s delay in construction of the Beckton crossing, but the transport committee is currently holding an inquiry into essential crossing over the river that cuts through London and have also been scrutinising the response to the delay by the Department for Transport. Newham Council have been petitioning City Hall for several years to establish a viable river crossing linking Newham with Greenwich, with Gallions Reach, home to a shopping centre, being the preferred location.
Newham Council hopes that the proposed bridge, which will be available 24 hours a day all week, will bring massive economic benefits and jobs to their borough, which has long struggled with high unemployment rates and lack of opportunities for residents. The new bridge could also reduce commuting times and help fuel growth in the area as part of the much-vaunted London Plan in the Thames Gateway, which includes Newham and four other boroughs.
The river Thames has over 200 bridges for foot and wheel, along with 27 tunnels, six public ferries and the Emirates cable car link between the O2 and southern Newham. With the expectation of the above-river cable car route which opened in June 2012 and is rarely used, Newham’s only links with the south are an underground tunnel connecting North Greenwich and Canning Town tube stations on the Jubilee line, and a Docklands Light Railway (DLR) connection between King George V station in Silvertown and Woolwich Arsenal in Woolwich. The Woolwich area also links with Newham via the Woolwich car ferry. There are no bridges at all along Newham’s stretch of the river with the nearest one being the famous Tower Bridge, completed in 1894 and situated around six miles (ten kilometres) away.
The transport committee’s report on the Gallions Reach crossing is expected to be published later this year.
“Delay on bridge is slammed” – The Newham Mag – Issue 308, Newham Council (30 January 2015)