CAMBRIDGE PREGNANCY CITIZENSHIP DEMAND: NHS compels UK woman with Polish surname to prove her residence

Cambridge – VIJAY SHAH via NICOLE MORLEY and Metro

A British-born pregnant woman who changed her surname to her husband’s Polish-origin one was forced by a hospital to prove her citizenship or be refused ante-natal care under the National Health Service (NHS), online news site Metro.co.uk (Metro) reported yesterday.

Emma Szewczak-Harris from Chesterton, a suburb of Cambridge, who is eight months pregnant, was asked to prove she was a British citizen by a letter sent from the city’s Addenbrooke Hospital, despite her still retaining her maiden name in her double-barrelled surname and having a typically English first name. The mother-to-be told Metro that the letter and actions of Addenbrooke Hospital made her feel a ‘second-class citizen’, and that it was a ‘disgrace’, especially given the fact that Szewczak-Harris was not asked for residency proof in previous appointments.

 

Szewczak-Harris said: “I’ve absolutely no idea why I received it other than my surname,

‘As I’m pregnant, I’m going to the hospital a lot at the moment, but no one has at any point asked for my credentials which – as a born and bred Brit – are completely sound.

So I’m stumped and angry that women in my condition, who are anxious enough as it is, should be made to worry about their access to care.’

After 26 years of living in the country and using the NHS, I’ve never had my identity policed until now,’ 

‘Am I going to go into labour and then be denied treatment?”

The letter, which was seen and shared by Metro, told Szewczak-Harris that she had failed to provide documents at her last appointment proving that she was entitled to free NHS treatment as an expectant mother, before giving a list of suitable proofs of identity and residence. It was dated October 12 and was issued by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Furthermore, the letter demanded Szewczak-Harris supply the necessary documentation by a deadline of October 30, 2017.

A hospital spokesperson said the letter had been sent out as part of a ‘pilot scheme’ aimed at preventing patients from abroad taking advantage of NHS treatment for free and that the hospital had a policy of asking non-emergency maternal care patients to bring proof of residence with them to appointments.

A Cambridge University Hospitals spokesman said: “The Department of Health has asked the trust to pilot a scheme to allow us to better monitor and collect payment from overseas patients who are not eligible for free NHS treatment.

‘This brings us into line with national NHS guidelines and how many other trusts operate.

‘From August 1, 2017 all non-emergency patients in maternity and urology have been asked in their appointment letters to provide two forms of identification when they attend – one to prove identity and one as proof of residence. Once you have provided this information you will not be asked again.

‘If a patient is not eligible for free NHS care, they will be charged for any treatment we give to them and, from October 23, there is a statutory requirement to withhold treatment where clinical staff assess if this routine aspect of their care can wait until they return to their home country.”

Szewczak-Harris said she was not going to reply to the letter.

“What are they going to do? I’m entitled to that,” she said. “My husband is very angry about it. He has faced this kind of thing before but as someone who works in medicine on the Addenbrooke’s site, he’s horrified about it. This makes us feel like second-class citizens.”

Hospitals in England may be required to check the residency and immigration status of all patients who use their services from October 23 (tomorrow) according to campaign group Docs Not Cops. The controversial ruling on English NHS trusts could mean people unable to prove their nationality would have to pay for treatment upfront. The rule is a sign of the UK Conservative government’s hardening stance on immigration and in particular, government fears of ‘health tourists’ from outside the UK coming to the country to help themselves to free treatment.

SOURCES:

Renata Soares Barros.

We Are #StopBrexit – We Are The 48%, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1586336064998120/

“Pregnant Brit forced to prove nationality by NHS after taking Polish husband’s name” – Nicole Morley, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (21 October 2017) http://metro.co.uk/2017/10/21/pregnant-woman-denied-nhs-treatment-after-taking-polish-husbands-name-7016266/amp/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“February 5, 2010 – Paperwork” – Caitlin Childs, Flickr (5 February 2010) https://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdcoregirl/4335907588

 

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BRADFORD SHOOTING: Man shot three times after Friday prayers

Bradford – VIJAY SHAH via CHARLIE MOORE, Daily Mail and MIB

A man is in hospital in the northern English city of Bradford after been shot at three times after he left prayers at a mosque in the city, online British South Asian news site MeanwhileInBritain.com and national newspaper Daily Mail reported.

The unidentified man had finished Muslim Friday (Juma’ah) prayers at the Jamia Abu Hanifa mosque in Hustler Street in the Barkerend district, central Bradford when assailants wearing balaclavas shot him just a hundred yards from the mosque. The gunshots terrified other worshippers at the mosque when the incident took place at 2pm local time, MeanwhileInBritain.com said.

 

Witnesses saw three men, faces obscured, pull up on the road in a car and immediately open fire on the victim. A member of the congregation who was praying when the shooting occurred said: “I saw lots of police and a man laying on the floor who had been shot. We heard the gunshot while we were inside praying.

‘There was an ambulance and about five police vehicles including two riot vans on the scene’

‘I have been told three men in balaclavas pulled up in a car and shot a man.’

The victim, who survived the shooting but was struck in a leg was taken to hospital. Bradford police say the shooting had nothing to do with the mosque. A statement from them said: “Police were called to Undercliffe Street, Bradford at 1.57pm today following a report of gunshots.

‘Officers attended and found a male in his twenties with a leg wound.

‘The injury is not believed to be life threatening and he has been taken to hospital for further treatment.

‘Enquiries are continuing at the scene although the injury is believed to be consistent with that of a firearms discharge.

‘Anyone with information is asked to contact Bradford CID on 101, quoting log 984 of today (Friday 20 October).”

Inquiries are continuing.

SOURCES:

British Asians UK, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/BritishAsiansUK/

“Man is shot by ‘three men in balaclavas’ near mosque in Bradford” – Charlie Moore, Mail Online News/Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group/Associated Newspapers Ltd (20 October 2017) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5001624/Man-shot-three-men-balaclavas-near-mosque.html

“MAN IS SHOT BY ‘THREE MEN IN BALACLAVAS’ AFTER JUM’AH PRAYER NEAR MOSQUE IN BRADFORD” – MIB/Meanwhile In Britain/Meanwhile In UK (20 October 2017) http://meanwhileinbritain.com/man-is-shot-by-three-men-in-balaclavas-after-jumah-prayer-near-mosque-in-bradford/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Crime Scene” – Alan Cleaver, Flickr (16 May 2009) https://www.flickr.com/photos/alancleaver/4121423119

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

 

EU FLAG PROMS: ‘Brexiteers’ angered by Royal Proms pro-EU flag distribution

London – VIJAY SHAH via JEFF FARRELL and The Independent

As the United Kingdom heads for its possible withdrawal from the European Union in two years’ time, supporters of EU withdrawal, informally known as Brexiteers, have hit out at a pro-EU campaign group who distributed EU flags to visitors at a music festival, The Independent reports.

The campaign group, EU Flag Proms Team, a previously unknown collective which favours UK remaining part of the European Union, had planned to distribute EU flags and banners outside the Royal Albert Hall in London, which plays host to a televised classical music festival, the Proms, which is specially promoted by the national public service broadcaster BBC. 

 

During the final day of the festival, known as the Last Night, EU Flag Proms team members planned to give out the 10,000 blue and yellow flags free to concertgoers to support EU closeness, while wearing t-shirts with the slogan “thank EU for the music EU”. EU Flag Proms explained the unusual stunt was to highlight how music is a universal language” that transcends borders.

It is a tradition among audiences at the Proms to wave national flags when national anthems are played, so for example the Union Flag (Union Jack) is waved when the song “Rule Britannia” is performed. As many classical composers featured at the Proms are from mainland Europe, it was hoped that the Proms’ visitors would be more supportive of Europe as a whole. The BBC’s own symphony orchestra featured music by the late composers Jean Sibelius and Richard Wagner, from Finland and Germany respectively.

A spokesman for EU Flags Proms Team told The Telegraph paper: “During the Age of Enlightenment Mozart, Handel and Bach all lived and worked for part of their lives in London.

“Presumably under the Brexit dark ages, they would not be welcome. What an appalling backward step for our country.

“We hope that the EU flags will remind the audience, the musicians and those watching from all over the world that music is a universal language that unites people, breaking down barriers and promoting communication, understanding, and peace.”

Leading supporters of Brexit, however have condemned EU Flag Proms, claiming that music can also be a signifier of national identity. Vociferous and controversial Brexit supporter, Nigel Farage, former leader of the right-wing nationalist UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), said to the Independent that he hoped Brexiteers would stage a similar counter-campaign distributing UK flags to Proms visitors. He said, referring to EU Flag Proms explanation for their campaign: “As for this airy fairy ‘music crosses all borders’ nonsense, music is also an important part of national symbolism in every part of the world.”

Farage said he planned to contact a former UKIP donor, Aaron Banks to possibly bankroll the counter-campaign, but due to the donor being abroad, the UKIP Union Flag giveaway did not take place for the Proms this year.

EU Flags Proms Team last year staged a similar Brexit protest outside the Royal Albert Hall, and handed out 2,500 EU flags to members of the public who turned up for Last Night of the Proms 2016.

British politicians are currently in negotiations with the European Union over the terms of withdrawal from the Union, which the UK was one of the first members of since it joined in 1973. The UK Brexit negotiation team has been slammed at home for heading into the talks unprepared and the EU has also been criticised for demanding a £50 billion ‘divorce settlement’ from the UK, for various projects and commitments made during the UK’s membership of the union. The United Kingdom plans to withdraw completely in 2019 after the two-year notice period after it triggered the Article 50 clause this year. There have been calls for a second referendum, either on the terms of Brexit or the withdrawal itself.

SOURCES:

Sarah Harness.

We Are The 48% – #StopBrexit, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1586336064998120/

“Brexiteers furious over thousands of EU flags handed out at Last Night of the Proms” – Jeff Farrell, The Telegraph (9 September 2017) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/eu-flags-brexit-last-night-proms-bbc-royal-albert-hall-london-a7938206.html

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Flagging Support” – Dave Kellam, Flickr (24 February 2007) https://www.flickr.com/photos/davekellam/414918350

BBQ OMG: 11 million barbecues to fail this summer

London – VIJAY SHAH via SWNS digital

It is the middle of summer, and in the UK, that of course means barbecue season. Families and people across the land will be pulling out their grills from the shed after a year of hibernation to fry tonnes of burgers, chops, sausages, kebabs and other meat and vegetarian products, but not all of them will reach the perfect sizzling conclusion, with a group of researchers claiming that up to 11 million British barbecue parties will be ruined this summer alone.

The main reasons for flaming failures, according to the research by meat trade agency Simply Beef & Lamb, are poorly cooked BBQ foods, followed by unwanted company, drunken guests and snacks or drinks running out. Other al fresco eating experiences could also be derailed by a lack of alcohol and bad taste in music or radio station selection. Burnt or undercooked food was the biggest risk factor for a ruined BBQ, with one in five Britons (22 per cent) complaining about it, according to the study, which surveyed a sample of 2,000 adults.

 

 

The massive amount of failed BBQs this year can also be put down to lack of skill in the relevant techniques with the study showing that one in five barbecue organisers struggling with the finer points of well prepared meat and poultry, and almost a quarter (24%) of participants going as far as branding the UK’s collective barbecuing a national disgrace. Twenty seven per cent of the sample claimed to be disgusted by seeing their food cooked on a dirty grill, with another twenty one per cent put off their burgers by guests exhibiting nasty eating habits or ‘table manners’. One in five respondents were annoyed by the British phenomenon of the ‘back-seat BBQer’ – guest who do not cook a single thing themselves but will hover around the person manning the grill, dispensing unwanted advice and criticism of their grilling finesse. Other respondents complained about groups of people huddling around the grill, public displays of affection, a lack of food and drink variety, and controversially, having to cater for vegetarian guests who cannot eat meat.

Simply Beef & Lamb also stated that the average adult will either attend or start up four barbecues in 2017, which adds up to 108 million cookouts among the UK’s 27 million households. The agency’s spokesperson, Nick White, spoke with SWNS news outlet, encouraging British families and friends to keep barbecuing, especially with steak:

“Following our survey, we are launching a campaign to get Brits grilling like Americans, Aussies and Argentinians.

‘We’re asking Brits to banish boring barbecue food and to come together to ‘raise the steaks’.’

‘It’s a misconception that steak is difficult to cook on the barbecue – it’s actually one of the quickest and tastiest meats to prepare on the grill.

‘There are numerous ways to enjoy it, from cutting it into kebabs to marinating it in different flavours.”

TOP 10 SIGNS A BARBECUE HAS FAILED:

  1. Undercooked food
  2. Rain
  3. Burnt food
  4. Bad company
  5. People who are too drunk
  6. Not enough food
  7. Poor BBQ skills
  8. No alcohol
  9. Bad music
  10. Boring and predictable food

TOP 10 BARBECUE BUGBEARS:

  1. Dirty BBQ grill
  2. People with bad eating manners
  3. Criticism and advice from ‘back seat’ BBQ-ers
  4. The amount of smoke from the BBQ
  5. Drunk arguments
  6. Same old bangers and burgers
  7. Vegetarians being awkward
  8. Couples’ public display of affection
  9. All the men huddling around the BBQ
  10. The fact you spend hours cooking and then everyone is too drunk to eat

SOURCE:

“Flaming Failures! 11 Millions Barbecues Will be Spoiled this Summer” – SWNS digital/72Point (1 July 2017) http://www.swnsdigital.com/2017/07/flaming-failures-11-millions-barbecues-will-be-spoiled-this-summer/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Texas – Driftwood: The Salt Lick BBQ – Barbecue pit” – Wally Gobetz, Flickr (17 August 2012) https://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/8061453680

LONDON BRIDGE ATTACK: Van steered into pedestrians, several killed

London – VIJAY SHAH via BBC News

Six people have been murdered and at least 48 have been injured after a terrorist atrocity on the world-famous London Bridge and Borough Market late yesterday, the BBC reports. Police gunned down the three attackers, all men, after a white van was deliberately crashed into pedestrians out and about on the bridge at 10.00 pm. The vehicle was then said to have proceeded to nearby Borough Market, where the three attackers got out and began stabbing random people, including one identified as a police officer.

Little is known about the assailants at this point, but eyewitnesses reported that they were wearing fake bomb vests.

The UK’s prime minister Theresa May described the events as ‘dreadful’, while opposition party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who heads the Labour party, condemned the incident as ‘brutal and shocking’, the BBC reported. London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan said that the attack was a “deliberate and cowardly attack on innocent Londoners”.  The mayor also said that London would always be a safe global city and that Londoners would not be cowed by terrorism.

 

 

The country is still recovering from a suicide attack in Manchester last month that saw 22 people killed by a lone bomber at a Ariana Grande pop music concert at the city’s Manchester Arena. Many of the victims were children. In March this year, six people died in London after a lone wolf terrorist rammed his car into bystanders at Westminster Bridge, before stabbing a brave police officer to death as he tried to attack the UK’s parliament in central London.

London’s Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said it was believed there were only three attackers involved and the explosive vests they were wearing were “hoaxes”.

One of the dead terrorists was reported by an eyewitness lying on the ground near a Borough Market drinking establishment, the vest visible in the body’s vicinity.

The BBC also reported that eighty medics were sent to the scene of the attacks, which were closed off and swarming with police and ambulances, according to television news coverage witnessed by the author of this article at around 11.00 pm last night.

A reporter working for the BBC, named as Holly Jones, saw a van being driven at 50 to 60 miles per hour head across the bridge just before the incident. She told the BBC: “He swerved right round me and then hit about five or six people. He hit about two people in front of me and then three behind”

Another eyewitness, identified only as Robbie, was sitting in a taxi opposite the Barrowboy and Banker pub on London Bridge. He told BBC Radio 5 Live, a national radio station: I saw about 20 or 30 people rushing to get back into the pub and five seconds later a big white van came screeching down the pavement,” 

“Two or three people jumped out. Initially, I thought it was a road traffic incident and the people had jumped out to see if anyone was injured, but I could tell immediately, they looked very aggressive.”

His friend Josh came out of the pub a few seconds later and saw people running up to the bridge from Borough Market.

“A chap (man) ran up and I heard him shout, ‘He’s got a knife, he’s stabbing people.'”

Another witness, Gerard, told the BBC: “They were running up shouting, ‘This is for Allah.’ They stabbed this girl maybe 10 times, 15 times. She was going, ‘Help me, help me.'”

Gerard said he chased the attackers, who were running into pubs and bars, and threw bottles, chairs and other items to try to stop them.

Steven Gibbs, who was drinking in St Christopher’s Inn, just metres from the scene, told the BBC: “A black cab drove past and the driver shouted, ‘Terrorist attack, run!’

“I stood up to take a look and then all of a sudden there were gunshots. Lots of people were screaming.”

Many of the injured, some in ‘critical condition’, have been sent to five nearby hospitals. The city’s police have set up hotlines and a casualty bureau for people to check up on loved ones. The bureau can be reached by calling 0800 096 1233 and 020 7158 0197 (+44 20 7158 0197 from outside the UK).

The area around Borough Market and the bridge was hastily placed on lockdown, with local pubs, bars and restaurants remaining closed. A police bomb disposal team was drafted in for fear the attackers had explosives with them. London Bridge itself and nearby Southwark Bridge are closed, along with major local thoroughfares such as Borough High Street and Lower Thames Street. Trains have been barred from stopping at the nearest Underground station, also called London Bridge.

Police investigations are still ongoing.

SOURCES:

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

“London attack: Seven killed in vehicle and stabbing incidents” – BBC News – UK (4 June 2017) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40146916

IMAGE CREDIT:

tabi3live, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/6_basharrdp

UK HOLIDAYS: Natural sights most popular for holidaymakers in 2017

London – VIJAY SHAH and SWNS digital

 

A recent poll on holidays and days out choices among British tourists has found that trips to the country’s peaks are the most popular. The scenic Lake District area of north England topped the choices at number one attraction people most want to visit, overtaking the Peak District in the county of Derbyshire and Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdon.

While mountains were the most popular options for communing with nature, the poll participants also voted for seaside locations like piers and beaches, as well as museums. The results were drawn from a list of fifty leading U.K. attractions devised by transport firm National Express. A thousand people were surveyed for the poll.

National Express’ managing director, Chris Hardy, said: “They say the best things in life are free and we hope our list inspires people to get out and explore somewhere new – without breaking the bank.

“It’s great to see that Brits appreciate the natural sights that the UK has to offer, and the sheer volume of beauty spots on this list goes to show that you’re never far from something stunning to see on a day out.”

Despite being the epicentre of British tourism for both national and international visitors, London made a poor showing in the results, with only one of the capital’s prime attractions, the Natural History Museum, making the top ten locations for days out. The museum only made it to ninth place. Twenty-three other museums across the country also featured, including smaller, region-specific museums such as the Royal Pump Rooms in Leamington Spa, central England. A few cathedrals also made the list.

SOURCE/IMAGE CREDIT:

“Natural Views and Scenery Dominate in List of UK’s Favourite Days Out” – SWNS digital/72Point (23 April 2017) http://www.swnsdigital.com/2017/04/natural-views-and-scenery-dominate-in-list-of-uks-favourite-days-out/

STURGEON’S OFFER: Scottish first minister invites Remainers to settle in Scotland if independence occurs

Aberdeen, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via PATRICK GRAFTON-GREEN and Evening Standard

The first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has invited residents of the other parts of the UK who were disappointed with the outcome of last year’s Brexit referendum to settle in her country, as she petitions for a new referendum on Scottish independence.

In a report by London-based newspaper The Evening Standard, the first minister announced an open invitation to the forty-eight per cent of Britons who voted ‘yes’ to staying in the European Union to relocate to Scotland, which plans to rejoin the EU should the outcome of the second ‘indyref’ be in favour of Scotland departing the United Kingdom and going it alone. Sturgeon presided over the first referendum, in 2014, which saw fifty five per cent of voters opt to stay in the UK, and forty-four per cent lean towards independence.

 

 

Sturgeon has expressed that those who have experienced discomfort with the actions of Westminster could relocate to Scotland and be part of a “outward-looking, compassionate country”. The open invite is the latest in a war of words between Sturgeon and UK prime minister Theresa May, who is open in her desire to realise Brexit and complete EU withdrawal by 2019. May has condemned Sturgeon for demanding a new referendum before Brexit negotiations with Brussels are complete, and has refused to give federal government permission for it to go ahead, angering Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party (SNP) which she heads.

In an address she made at the SNP conference in Aberdeen recently, Sturgeon has said that her party will completely guarantee the rights of EU nationals residing in Scotland. This is at odds with May’s approach, where she has refused to give a final ruling on EU settlers’ status in a post-Brexit Britain. May’s critics have accused her of using European nationals in the UK as a ‘bargaining chip’ in order to force the EU to guarantee settlement rights of Britons living in countries like France and Spain. At the address, Sturgeon also said that Scotland had potential for massive opportunities, and criticised the Conservative Party, who are the dominant political party currently in the UK, claiming they were trying to interfere with Scotland and accused them of maintaining a condescending attitude towards the country since the 1980s.

Sturgeon also criticised Westminster for its attitude towards Europeans living in the UK, saying “You cannot lecture others about politics not being a game while you are using the lives of human beings as pawns,” to Prime Minister May.

She told the conference: “Imagine what will happen if Scotland chooses to stay.

“We will become a magnet for talent and investment from all across the UK.

“So let me issue this open invitation today – Scotland isn’t full up.

“If you are as appalled as we are at the path this Westminster Government is taking, come and join us.

“Come here to live, work, invest or study.

“Come to Scotland – and be part of building a modern, progressive, outward-looking, compassionate country.”

SOURCES:
Sonel BC.
BritCits, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/britcits1/
“Nicola Sturgeon tells UK residents: Move to Scotland if you don’t like Brexit” – Patrick Grafton-Green, EveningStandard – News – Politics (18 March 2017) http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon-tells-uk-residents-move-to-scotland-if-you-don-t-like-brexit-a3493366.html
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Welcome to Scotland sign A1 road.jpg” – Amanda Slater via oxyman, Wikimedia Commons (14 September 2008) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Welcome_to_Scotland_sign_A1_road.jpg