Monday, 25 March 2013

Evening Standard: "The council chiefs on more than £200,000 in salary and perks"

Link to web site

"Town halls across London spent almost £7 million on chief executive pay packages last year with some of the country’s poorest boroughs paying the biggest sums.

"Most council bosses in the capital received pay, perks and pensions of more than £200,000 each.

"The biggest earner was Derek Myers, who runs Hammersmith and Fulham as well as Kensington and Chelsea council, on £266,991. His take-home package included £209,800 salary, £10,500 bonus and £46,700 towards his pension pot.

"Other chiefs — all in Tory-run boroughs — were close behind with Paul Martin at Wandsworth picking up £254,880, Nick Walkley at Barnet [now at Haringey] collecting £250,818, and Will Tuckley at Bexley receiving £244,897."

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

BBC: "Bletchley Park enigma code huts prepare for restoration"

'I shall say this only once'

"Seventy years ago, smoke would have hung in the air from the cigars and cigarettes smoked by the assorted workers and from the fires that were lit to keep the buildings warm.

Now there are drips from pipes falling into large holes in the floor.

Whilst other parts of Bletchley Park have been restored, many of the key buildings - like Huts 3 and 6 - have been left to ruin, but not for much longer as a major refurbishment project will get under way in the coming days."

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

'The Rules': City of London: Tax Haven

Link to web site

"With corporate tax evasion featuring heavily in the news lately, little is being said about the system that makes it all possible: tax havens. 

"One of the biggest and most important is the City of London, the hub of the global tax haven system through which billions in untaxed profits flow every day. That's why it's being called the Tax Haven Capital of the World."

Monday, 18 March 2013

" 'Come down hard' on litter offenders, say Londoners"

Link to Evening Standard

"The leader of a London council today said a £400 penalty handed to a motorist for throwing a cellophane wrapper out of a car window should serve as a warning to other litter louts who blight the capital’s streets.

"Carmel Plummer, 27, from Clapham, was fined £200 for littering and ordered to pay £200 in court costs after being spotted dropping the rubbish in Abbey Mills, south west London.

"Stephen Alambritis, the leader of Merton council which brought the prosecution, made no apologies for the tough stance, saying litterbugs cost council tax payers millions of pounds every year.

"Branding people who litter 'reckless' and 'rude', he said: 'We need to send a strong message to offenders'."

Saturday, 16 March 2013

ITN: "Full report: Angry scenes outside incinerator site"

Link to video
(plus previous reports and videos)

"There were angry scenes outside the proposed site for a huge waste incinerator on the outskirts of Gloucester today. Councillors were visiting the location ahead of a vote on whether to approve the application.

"The incinerator will cost around £500 million, and a decision will be taken next week on whether to give it the go ahead."

Thursday, 14 March 2013

R+R: "Mayor demands faster Crossrail 2 progress" (to Alexandra Palace and Tottenham Hale lines)

Link to web site

"The schedule for the Crossrail 2 north-south underground rail link for London needs to be brought forward, the capital's mayor Boris Johnson said yesterday.

Mayoral agency Transport for London is due to begin consultation this spring on two alternative proposals to build lines from south-west London to the north and north-east of the capital.

But, speaking yesterday at the Mipim international property conference in Cannes, France, Johnson said that the project needed to be accelerated to provide for London’s burgeoning population, which is set to reach a record 8.6 million during his term.

" 'At the moment it is scheduled to complete in about 2032,' he said. 'We need to bring that timetable forward, and do stuff on Crossrail 2 in parallel with Crossrail 1'.

"The mayor said that he had already spoken to Crossrail chairman Terry Morgan about how this could be done, and that he thought the government would be supportive. 'George Osborne has taken to the idea with great excitement,' he said. [Oh, no.]

"National Infrastructure Planning Association secretary Robbie Owen said that, to speed up Crossrail 2, the Department for Transport should consider using the Planning Act process rather than a Hybrid Bill, 'as it includes a 12 month fixed timetable and so overall could be quicker than the Government promoting a bill, particularly as DfT will be busy with two HS2 bills'."

NatGeo: "Should Plastics Be Labeled 'Hazardous' to Reduce Ocean Pollution?"

Link to web site

"With packaging holding in place nearly all of our consumer desires, slow decomposition rates, and swirling debris fields the size of Texas in our oceans – it seems plastic isn’t going anywhere fast.  A recent Comment piece in Nature by authors Chelsea Rochman at UC Davis and Mark Anthony Browne at UC Santa Barbara offers a rare posturing by scientists, suggesting an actionable item to address this problem: classifying some plastic waste as hazardous.

According to the piece, last year humans collectively produced 280 million tons of plastic, only half of which was recycled or sent to a designated area like landfills, where it will slowly decay. Some of the remaining plastic remains in use, but the rest is unaccounted for, littering our planet. (See an infographic on plastic bags.)

Enfield Independent: "Campaigners fight North Circular Road development"

Link to web site

"A vast protest banner opposing major development plans around North Circular Road has appeared.

"The sign, put up on a railing in Bowes Road, reads 'Notting Hill Housing Trust - destroying our local community'."

Update of story!

Notting Hill Housing protest banner
removed from North Circular Road

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Independent on Sunday: "UK incinerator plans? They're just rubbish"

Link to web site

"A wave of new publicly-funded incinerators being built to burn rubbish could be mothballed before they are even turned on, amid claims there will not be enough waste to fuel them.

"The Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) has begun withdrawing funding for new incineration plants, with predictions there will be nothing for them to burn. Support for a scheme in Liverpool was withdrawn last month, following the removal of funding for projects in North and West Yorkshire.

"The UK already has 32 rubbish incinerators, but plans for 100 new ones are in the planning stages with local authorities around the country. The rush to build the new plants is rooted in the idea that they can be a cheaper alternative to sending rubbish to landfill, while creating renewable energy at the same time."

"What the &%*!/@# Bankers Did Next"

(click to enlarge, and possibly again to magnify)

Why there were no trains to Moorgate...

"Construction drills burst through train tunnel wall near Old Street"

Link to Hackney Gazette

"First Capital Connect (FCC) cancelled all Northern City Line services between Finsbury Park and Moorgate from 10am on Friday, after the incident which happened just north of Old Street station.

"The alarm was initially raised after the driver of the Welwyn Garden City to Moorgate service with passengers on board saw muddy water pouring on to the roof of his train, and services were suspended.

"A second empty train was sent along the line just after 11am to investigate the problem but as it approached the area at low speed, two large piling drills came through the side of the tunnel."

Saturday, 9 March 2013

[Reposted: The WLWA will not admit this!] West London Waste Authority: Procurement effort falls apart - just like in NORTH London!

TATA and E-ON abandon West London waste contract

"CHAIN has been officially informed that TATA and E-ON have withdrawn from the tendering process for the West London Waste Authority (WLWA) waste contract, and did not submit a final bid before the deadline that expired on 28 February 2013. Consequently, the sole remaining bid is from SITA UK Limited. Had TATA and E-ON been successful, they intended to transport 300,000 tonnes per annum of municipal waste a distance 200 miles from London to Lostock, a residential part of Northwich, for incineration.

"In a letter from their solicitors, both companies indicate that they will seek other waste contracts to fuel the incinerator.  CHAIN is currently challenging the Government decision to grant planning permission for the Northwich incinerator by way of a judicial review that is scheduled to be heard on 1 May in the High Court at Manchester.

"Brian Cartwright, CHAIN Chairman, stated:
“We must give a guarded welcome to this decision because it was always irresponsible nonsense to be seriously contemplating sending Londoners’ rubbish halfway up the country to Cheshire to be incinerated. You will not be surprised to hear that CHAIN and many of our supporters, including members of Cheshire West and Chester Council, have been in contact with the Board of the WLWA on many occasions and pointed this out to them.

We are concerned that TATA and E-ON say that they intend to seek other contracts to supply waste to feed the monster they want to build practically in the centre of Northwich. It is to be hoped that they will pause before they do so, and review the whole basis of their project. I have in mind, for example, the recent research report by independent experts that there will be 6.9 million tonnes excess treatment capacity, which includes incineration, in the UK by 2015/16. Quite simply, there will not be near enough waste to go round.

Here in the North West, with huge new plants going up in Runcorn and near Frodsham, the situation will be even worse. There are real risks that people will be deterred from recycling and incinerator operators would have to import garbage from across Europe for burning which would be utter insanity.

CHAIN and the people of Northwich have been fighting together against an incinerator in the town for over five years and we are determined to stay in the fight for as long as it takes. We are very hopeful that our legal challenge will succeed, although we are still seeking financial support from the public which would improve our prospects. There is also the distinct possibility that municipalities and local councils in the UK who may be seeking ways of treating their waste will see the injustice and folly of sending it to what is a highly populated residential part of a small town in Cheshire for burning. No waste, no waste incinerator.”

"Jeremy Irons joins Brussels fight for tax on plastic bags, as EU unveils plans to urge member states to ban them altogether"

Link to Daily Mail

"Jeremy Irons is leading a campaign to ban free plastic bags across Europe.

"The Oscar-winning actor called on lawmakers to tackle the ‘curable problem’ as the European Commission tabled proposals that could lead to a total ban by 2014.

"Among the measures being considered are landfill bans, taxes and pay-as-you-throw schemes to encourage recycling.

"Promoting his documentary Trashed, which focuses on some of the world’s most polluted places, Irons said plastic waste litters the most remote parts of the globe, thanks to our ‘throw-away’ culture."

Friday, 8 March 2013

The Independent: "The world is hottest it has been since the end of the ice age - and the temperature's still rising"

Link to web site

"The world is now warmer than at almost any time since the end of the last ice age and, on present trends, will continue to reach a record high for the entire period since the dawn of civilisation, a study has found.

"A reconstruction of global temperatures going back 11,300 years, which covers the historical period from the founding of the first ancient cities to the space age, has concluded the biggest and most rapid change in the climate has occurred in the past century."

The Economist: "A growth manifesto: A little faster, George?"

Link to web site

"OVER the past 170 years, this newspaper has tracked the British economy through some devastating shocks. The global slump of 1857 wiped out banks and chilled demand for exports. The 1930s Depression hit the country hard. Two world wars destroyed homes and infrastructure.

"Yet five years after each of these events the economy was growing. Not so this time.

"Britain is barely bumping along. The Bank of England reckons output, which peaked at £1.5 trillion ($3 trillion) in 2007, will not reach that level in real terms until 2015. With an ill wind the country could easily lose a decade. Meagre wages and stubborn inflation are eroding spending power. The pound is falling, yet the balance of trade is dismal.

"Pessimism is calcifying: 12% of Britons expect their household finances to improve next year, and 52% think they will worsen."

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Guardian: "Ecover to turn sea plastic into bottles in pioneering recycling scheme"

Link to web site

"Ecover, the green cleaning brand, said on Thursday it will use plastic waste retrieved from the sea to create an entirely new type of sustainable and recyclable plastic bottle.

"The Belgian company is working with plastic manufacturer Logoplaste to combine plastic trawled from the sea with a plastic made from sugar cane ('Plant-astic') and recycled plastic, in what it is calling a world-first for packaging. Products made from the packaging will go on sale next year.

"But the company was unable to give details of how much plastic would be retrieved or what percentage of 'sea plastic' would be used in the packaging."

Friday, 1 March 2013

Southgate's Space Gallery: Mind the Gap

Link to web site

"The latest exhibition at Southgate's Space Gallery opens on Monday.

Ross Ashmore is an urban landscape artist who paints in an expressionistic style, using oil paints in a heavy impasto manner. Formerly a commercial artist and graphic designer, Ross has embarked on an ambitious task of painting all the London Transport Underground Stations- of which there are 263. Around 100 of Ross Ashmores paintings are on show at Southgate until 5 April

17:30-19:30 (Mon-Fri)
12:00-14:00 (Wed)
12:00-16:00 (Sat, Sun)