£3.5bn promised to end dangerous cladding and other stories

An extra £3.5bn has been promised by ministers to remove cladding deemed unsafe from all buildings over 18m high across England “at no cost to residents” after thousands of flat owners have faced huge bills for such fire safety improvements. 

Part of Grenfell Tower, after the fire | Source: ChiralJon (CC BY 2.0)

Whilst Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick described the promise as the “largest ever government investment” of its kind, Labour stated that it was “too late for many” as the inquiry into the fire at Grenfell, that killed 72 people, continues today remotely.  

Included within Jenrick’s announcement was the promise of access to loans to pay for cladding replacements for people living in low-rise buildings and a new levy on developers of high rises to cover any future grants alongside a new tax on residential property development being introduced in 2022.  

The £3.5bn is in addition to the £1.6bn introduced last year to tackle the removal of unsafe cladding, however Conservative MP Stephen McPartland has criticised the government’s handling of the cladding crisis and believes that they have not gone far enough as “leaseholders are the innocent parties in this”.  

Brexit could cost London’s economy £9.5 billion annually

According to an analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, London’s economy could be affected by a potential annual loss of £9.5 billion of Gross Domestic Product as a result of a reduction of trade with the EU due to Brexit.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, released the report ahead of a meeting with businesses and organisations from London’s financial services sector on Thursday. 

At the root of this dramatic prediction is the lack of a substantial deal with the EU that includes services, one of the main sectors at the basis of the capital’s economy, other than goods. 

Mr Khan warned that the losses could be even higher if the Government failed to secure additional agreements with the EU on regulatory equivalence which is essential in the industries of finance, law, professional services and technology. 

Anti-HS2 activists daubed the Department for Transport with paint

Protesters against the HS2 rail link have thrown pink paint over the front of the Department for Transport in Westminster on Wednesday morning. 

Burning Pink, the activist group behind the act of protest, said they are disgusted by “the complicity of the Department of Transport in the demise of what little we have left in the way of nature and beauty” .

According to a spokesperson from the Metropolitan Police, two activists were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage. 

Anti-HS2 activists have dug and occupied tunnels outside Euston station in an attempt to halt construction works that would result in the removal of the green area in front of the rail hub. 

South Africa variant found in Lambeth

A case of the South African variant of Covid-19 has been discovered in Lambeth which has resulted in the deployment of surge testing across selected postcodes. 

Anyone in postcode areas SE27 0, SE27 9 and SW16 2, are being “strongly encouraged” to complete either on-the-spot doorstep tests, home testing kits or mobile testing in what the Department of Health has described as a move to “control and suppress the spread” of this variant in the south London area.  

Whilst there is no evidence amongst the majority that the South African variant causes more serious illness, experts are concerned as Public Health England reports 170 cases of the variant so far, including 18 not linked to travel.  

This is because the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine could be less effective against the South African coronavirus variant.

Inquest into Plumstead boy’s death 

An inquest has been opened and adjourned into the death of four-year-old Gbenuola Kingswealth Bayode. 

His body was found by emergency services at his home in Plumstead, South East London on December 27th.  

The child’s mother, Oluwakemi Badare, 36, is due to enter her plea in court next month after being charged with the murder of her son.  

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