Tag Archives: London

How safe are you in Harrow?

A man was shot dead and another seriously injured outside Queensbury Tube station on Tuesday evening.

This is the 60th murder in the capital being investigated by London Police this year.

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Image credits: BBC news

 

The incident happened two days before residents of Harrow voted in the local elections, raising big concerns for public safety in London.

A resident speaking to BBC London said they didn’t feel that Harrow was normally dangerous, but they are certainly worried by the spike in violence and killings.

Previously between March and May 2017, a violent criminal terrorised in areas of Northolt, Ruislip and Harrow by robbing at BP, Shell, Asda and Esso petrol station using a BB gun sprayed black to make it look more realistic. The criminal was caught recently by the police and was sentenced to nine years in jail on 26 February 2018, Monday.

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Bob Blackman, Conservative member of Parliament (Harrow East) brought up this incident during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, and took the time to appreciate the efforts of police but also raised the bigger question of safety of people across London.

In response, PM Theresa May said: “I recognise the importance that’s attached to Queensbury station and also say I join-in in commending the actions of the police in emergency services to other such incidents. He’s right in the importance in dealing with the offensive weapons. We’ve announced plans under my right honourable friend, previous home secretary,  to be taken forward by the current home secretary it’s why we have launched a serious violence strategy and the serious violent task force which actually brings together ministers and representatives from across this house together with police and others to deal with this issue met for the first time.”

Watch recap of Prime Minister’s Questions here. Find Bob Blackman’s questioning at 47:57 minutes

Currently he is at the Harrow Count, but his representative has shared with us the statement he issued upon the shooting incident:

“I was saddened to learn of the fatality of one individual and wounding of another in a shooting last night, Tuesday 1 May, at Queensbury station. My thoughts are with the loved ones of those involved. I shall be having discussions with the police and also liaising with City Hall concerning this.”

“The police have reassured the local community tremendously and I would like to thank first responders for their work here and as ever.”

“We must take action to remove offensive weapons from our streets and anyone caught with such a weapon should, in my opinion, be prosecuted and imprisoned if found guilty.”

A spokeperson for Mr Blackman said: “Harrow remains one of the safest boroughs in London. Mr Blackman has solid relations with the police and engages positively with them as often as possible. He supports the Force in their efforts to combat crime and has continued to urge the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to respond to calls from officers for assistance from City Hall.”

With the local election results moving towards the count of votes, and the room heating up with anticipation, it’s becoming increasingly interesting to see how the winning party leader will move forward to combat this situation of violence.

Brent Council Election: Good result for Labour

Labour has gained the three Brondesbury Park seats from the Conservatives, leaving them with only three seats in Kenton.

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Find the full results here.

Results are in for local elections and there is not much change for the Brent Council as it still holds majority Labour seats. The Lib Dems lost one seat in Mapesbury to Labour and the Conservative party kept its three seats for the Kenton ward but lost its hold on Brondesbury Park. This suggests rising crime rates in the area might be a reason for Labour’s takeover.

Councillor for Kenton Suresh Kansagra highlights the importance of having Conservative representation in the majority Labour council: “We are going to provide effective opposition and scrutinise the decisions of the council.” Reg Colwill, another Conservative councillor, says they “work very well with the labour group so we are working together and getting things done”.

It is certainly important when budget cuts are increasing as well as resident expectations. “The hardest thing is getting across to residents the gravity of where local government is in terms of its budgets and resourcing”, says Shama Tatler, Labour councillor for Fryent.

There were no wins for the Lib Dems or the Green Party, yet candidates for the latter beat Conservatives and Lib Dems in some wards. Samuel Hopkins, Green Party candidate for Kensal Green says this means there is “hunger for a Green representative” across Brent.

 

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Willesden Green was the only ward that didn’t hold elections after they were called off following the passing of Lesley Ann Jones, the ward’s longest serving Labour councillor on Monday 30 April.  A by-election will be held after the party has selected a new candidate.

These local elections are being held after anti-semitism, Windrush and Grenfell fire scandals have affected Britain’s major political parties, Conservatives and Labour. However, there has been little to no change to how local councils have been elected across the country.

Cycling in London: how is it going?

Cover photo by Roman Koester on Unsplash.

“It’s as easy as riding a bike” is a common phrase used to say that, well, something is easy. But just how easy is it to do it in London, one of the most congested cities in the world? Transport for London’s 2017 Analysis estimated that 730,000 journeys are made daily with bicycles in the capital.

The Mayor of London recently announced a commitment of an average of £169m per year over the next five years to improve London’s cycling conditions, contributing to its target of 70 per cent of Londoners living within 400m of the cycle network by 2041.

Cyclists and campaign groups, however, want more than that. Yes, appropriate infrastructure is needed, but that also requires a transition of established societal and institutional ways. A study done by the Portland State University showed that changing cycling infrastructure won’t change culture.

Having blue lanes segregated from cars and other motorised vehicles won’t do anything if people don’t know how to use them. Bruce Lynn, from the London Cycling Campaign, says the infrastructure is there but people won’t use it.

There are bigger issues TfL and the Mayor of London have to consider to make cycling a possibility for every Londoner. Today, there is a common idea of the typical cyclist in London: young white men, environmentally-friendly and mostly liberal. This is supported by various studies that argue people who don’t identify as any of the above, feel less inclined to try cycling.

Who is cycling today

Who is cycling in london today_

Graphics by author

In TfL’s 2016 report, the fact that people are highly against changing their routines was assumed to be one of the main reasons they don’t try it. Their 2015 Attitudes towards cycling report also showed that safety concerns, fear of collisions, too much traffic, bad weather, lack of time, health reasons and lack of confidence and accessibility are some of the most common deterrents that put Londoners off using bikes.

Just last Saturday, around 4,000 riders took the streets of London for the #BikesUpKnivesDown demonstration led by the #BikeStormz movement to raise awareness to the rise of knife crime and murder rates in the city. They rode from London Bridge to Oxford Street in one of the biggest youth-led rides against knife crime, showing that the use of bikes has turned their lives around.

Current cycling network

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Central London’s cycling paths mapped by Route Plan Roll.

The current cycling network is made up of quietways and cycle superhighways for the most part. TfL defines them as “cycle routes running from outer London into and across central London. They give you safer, faster and more direct journeys into the city and could be your best and quickest way to get to work.”

Existing ones go from the City to Tottenham, Stratford to Aldgate, Barking to Tower Gateway, Oval to Pimlico, Merton to the City, and Wandsworth to Westminster. The east-west and north-south ones are the newest additions with proposed ones to go from Tower Bridge to Greenwich, Kensington Olympia to Brentford, and Swiss Cottage to the West End.

 

 

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Graphic by author

 

Safety

Safety concerns is probably what discourages people from riding the most. A study done recently by Cambridge academics found that changes in behaviour and policies is what is needed to keep the system moving, and tackle these concerns. A change in work hours, in the number of cycleways and docking stations, and in how people cycle together are factors that will contribute to that.

Another study done by Injury Prevention found that the more number of cyclists and pedestrians, the less likely motorists are to collide with them. This is partly because they are more visible, but also because the so called “safety in numbers” makes riders feel more comfortable.

14.6 per cent of casualties in Greater London while travelling were of cyclists in 2016, according to TfL. However, only eight, out of 4,424, were fatal, a decrease of 11 per cent from the year before. It certainly shows how, compared to the car, the transport mode responsible for 39.3 per cent of the casualties, cycling is less likely to get people injured. The study by Cambridge academics, however, also points out that an increase in cycling traffic also means an increased risk for cycle coalitions.

Not every rider has the same experience levels, specially in urban area conditions. ‘Bikeability’ is something most of the campaign groups advocate for, because they know that is where it starts. The London Cycling Campaign offers free ‘bikeability’ training to anyone interested and the have regular group sessions. Everyone, not only cyclists, should know how to share a public road.

How is London doing compared to the rest of the world?

 

Not good. It isn’t even on the top 20 of bike-friendly cities in the world. Infrastructure, safety and diversity (or lack of) are some of the reasons why the British capital is not considered in the 2017 Copenhagenize Design Company Index.

Tokyo, Munich, Helsinki and Oslo are new to the list because they have worked to fix issues that didn’t allow their cycling levels to grow. Closing the center to private cars, bike sharing systems, growth of network, parking facilities, and the creation of the Cycling Embassy (Tokio) and the Cycling Federation (Helsinki) are some of the things that are on place in this cities to improve the levels of cycling urbanism.

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As much as it is common thinking that more and better infrastructure will make London a top bike-friendly city, if Londoners don’t learn (or don’t want to learn) about ‘bikeability’ and cycling urbanism, the city won’t see any major changes in the years to come. The Mayor of London is committed to increase the use of bicycles in the city as it has been demonstrated that not only will it help with air pollution, but will also provide better quality public spaces.

 

What is this Siberian “Beast from East” and how did it make Britain so cold?

Why was the UK suddenly covered in heavy snow?

The blast of cold air sweeping in from Siberia to Western Europe, popularly dubbed as ‘beast from east’, is a result of a break down in jet streams over Scandinavia.

Jet streams are basically ribbons of strong, high altitude winds (upto 200mph), blowing across Atlantic west to east, that are responsible for the shifts in weather across the globe.

Jet streams naturally move either in a “wavy” irregular path or in strong-steady flow. And previous studies have shown the weather to be much cold moving south from the Artic towards the mid-latitudes, even bringing freezing temperatures when the jet streams move in a wavy path. Whereas, when jets streams move strong and steadily from west to east, winter weather conditions are milder in the countries that lie between the tropics and the Artic, including the UK.

And although there is no denying that last week’s bad winter weather has been a result of a natural shift, scientists are now linking the increasing frequencies of such weather shifts and anomalies to a larger change in global weather.

(Check out this video by Met Office on jet streams)

 

What is causing these weather anomalies across the globe?

While rest of the world is suffering from dropping degrees, scientists say temperatures have risen above freezing repeatedly at the North Pole, reaching as high as 30C above normal for the depths of winter.

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Source: Research on Arctic Temperatures by Zachary Labe

Such a radical difference (rise) in temperature in Arctic, especially in winter seasons, evidently does not bode well for the rest of the world. And the fact that these changes are in-part largely a result of man-made climate changes, makes things even more critical.

Professor Edward Hanna, of the University of Sheffield, said: “We’ve always had years with wavy and not so wavy jet stream winds, but in the last one to two decades the warming Arctic could well have been amplifying the effects of the wavy patterns.

“This may have contributed to some recent extreme cold winter spells along the eastern seaboard of the United States, in eastern Asia, and at times over the UK.”

(Read more about his research on Extreme cold winters fuelled by jet stream and climate change here.)

The lead scientist at Berkerley Earth, Robert Rohde, too pointed out recently that the North Pole is warmer than much of Europe.

And this anomaly is due to the dark retreat of sea ice in Arctic winter, resulting in temperatures above the freezing level at the meteorological site in the northern extreme of Greenland for a record-breaking 61 hours, so far in year 2018. As shown by the graph (below) from Robert Rohde’s research.

But the bigger question that comes to mind is that what is the probability of such weather conditions repeating itself? They are possibly higher than what would have been few decades ago. Especially with recent studies showing an increase in frequency of warm air intrusions, making scientists believe that the further reduction in ice sea on the Arctic Ocean will allow warmer water to release heat into the atmosphere, resulting in knock-on effects for the jet stream.

The most worrisome thing is not what is happening right now to the weather but how often this has started happening in the recent years.

This video by the Robert Rohde and the Berkerley Earth division showing how climate has changed in 168 years.

Cars and street covered with heavy snow in Central London. As the snow and cold grew, many motorways were forced to close down due to high levels of invisibility and accidents. Trains were delayed when not altogether cancelled. Even the airways suffered, with British Airways cancelling many flights from Heathrow Airport, London.

 

 

 

 

Artist Ylenia Molinari talks – ‘my need to fix emotions on a canvas’

She’s an artist: illustrator, graphic designer, painter, fashion and shoe designer. But she doesn’t work in the industry. At 26, she’s currently a supervisor in Press coffee and has worked in hospitality for three years, since she moved to London after completing her studies in Italy.

 

WNOL: How would you define your art?

An extension of my soul. I put my feeling on my art, even though it might not mean anything to someone else, each of my drawings and paintings is an emotion that I’ve felt with the need to fix it on a canvas.

 

WNOL: Who is Ylenia Molinari?

(laughs) She’s an artist… I guess. I haven’t found my way yet. I do many things: I do paintings, tattoos… I mean I do tattoos on me, I’ve never tried doing it on people because I don’t trust myself. So if I do it on myself is fine. I like things that are artistic or creative, but I don’t know what to do. I mean I can do everything, but it’s like doing nothing.

 

WNOL: Do you think you art sends a message? Do you want it to send a message?

Not actually. It’s more like expressing myself and my feelings. It’s why I’ve never done exhibitions. People ask me ‘why didn’t you do an exhibition’, because I don’t want to show it, it’s something that’s for myself. Even when they ask me for commissions, I just draw what’s in my mind.

 

WNOL: You seem to have a very strong position over nudity on Instagram, what do you think about it?

I’m very open about this. I like modeling, I do nude modeling but I don’t like to share it because I know that many people message me about it and not in an artistic way. I’m very upset that they see me just for my naked body, like a sexual object. I’ve never posted before because my friend, she posted a drawing of a girl showing her nipple and they censored it. So if they remove a drawing, I cannot post a picture obviously. I don’t understand why it is allowed for men to show their nipples. If men’s aren’t sexual then women’s shouldn’t be either.

 

WNOL: Your profile picture on your Instagram account says ‘ask me about my crippling anxiety’, what’s that about?

It’s weird, but this friend, she’s a photographer and she asked me to pose for her. And I connected that photoshoot with my anxiety. Usually when I do modeling I don’t look happy. Or when I take a picture of myself I’m never really happy because I’ve got anxiety and I don’t feel like smiling in my pictures, even though I’m a pretty happy person. (laughs)

 

WNOL: Why did you shave your head?

I think the first time was after a mental breakdown, instead of cutting myself to do something bad to my body, I just shaved my head. I knew I wouldn’t like myself without hair but I’m now used to it and I actually like it. The second time was a month ago after another mental breakdown because I lost my best friend. He died on Christmas day. Now I’m getting over it. They first thought it was a suicide. I was super upset because he was supposed to be my best friend and he didn’t tell me anything. But after a month we found out it wasn’t a suicide, it was an accident where he fell down from a building.

 

WNOL: What about your tattoos?

I think I can’t count them now, definitely have more than 25. I haven’t done them all, but most of them. For example this one says ‘nothing is going to hurt you baby’, it’s from a song and I got it done on the palm of my hand. It is one of the most painful places to get a tattoo and that’s why I did it there. Most of them have meanings, probably all of them.

View this post on Instagram

Nothing’s gonna hurt you baby

A post shared by Ylenia (@___cute_but_psycho___) on

 

WNOL: Do you think there should me more conversation going on around mental health?

Yeah. In my previous workplace, I told my manager I was having a panic attack and she just told me ‘yeah, yeah, go out for a smoke’. And it’s like no, I’m having a panic attack, I don’t need a smoke. People don’t understand anxiety either. They’re all ‘just chill out’ and it’s like no, it’s not about that. Yeah I relax, I go to bed at 9 pm but don’t go to sleep until 2 am. I spend hours trying to sleep. For many people it’s hard to talk about it. I found out a few months ago that I am bipolar and it’s hard to understand. My flatmate is bipolar too and she takes medicine but I don’t want to.

 

WNOL: What kind of work do you see yourself doing in the future?

Something creative for sure. I’m not even looking for a creative job at the moment because I met this guy who’s an artist, he’s a painter. He was doing it as a job and he started to not enjoy it because he had to do commissions. After a while he left his job and started to work as a kitchen porter, I would never work as that but (laughs). He does that for four days a week and he’s got three days that he can actually paint and he told me he’s much happier. So maybe finding a creative job is not my way, maybe I can just do a normal job and in my free time do my art.

Cover image: Ylenia Molinari

6 tips that will definitely not help with exams

With Exam season coming, here are some tips that will definitely help with your revision.

 

  1. Get drunk. Every day, every night, getting drunk is a fantastic way to procrastinate and spend an unnecessary amount of money.  giphy3
  2. Start a new series. Netflix was made for the exam season, why not try Archer or Orange is The New Black?  With hundreds of hours already on Netflix you can be sure that you won’t even think about starting revision.    giphy2
  3. Create a Pinterest, want to start planning the home you want to buy, or the holiday you won’t be able to afford because you spent too much time browsing the web than studying? Pinterest is the place to go. giphy5
  4. Find out what kitchen appliance you would be. Buzzfeed offer a number of pointless yet entertaining quizzes that are a  sure fire way to de-stress you and waste hours on finding yourself rather than revising.                                                                                  giphy4
  5. Tidy the house. It’s a great way to feel productive whilst still not doing the thing you’re supposed to be doing. While you’re at it why don’t you re-arrange your room? After all, a clean space = a clean mind.  giphy6
  6. When you’re really stuck for things to do you have to go to the last resort, phoning your parents. It may not be the most exciting thing and you’ll definitely get moaned at for something, maybe like, not doing your revision? giphy7

What London transport prices are doing for Mother Nature

Its annual average for last year was 125 micrograms of NO2 per cubic metre, over three times the limit of 40µg/m3. Brixton Road recorded 117µg/m3 and Marylebone Road was more than double the limit.

London has been named the most expensive city to commute in. With an average of £135 per month, it beats Dublin and New York City in terms of travel.

With rising prices of travel in Central London, it is no surprise that people are investing in cars. The fuels and emissions of the cars, especially in parts with heavy traffic, have become a threat to living in this city.

These cars pollute areas: (from highest to lowest)

  1. Wandsworth – Putney High Street
  2. Lambeth – Brixton Road
  3. Westminster – Strand (Northbank BID)
  4. Wandsworth – Putney High Street Facade
  5. City of London – Walbrook Wharf
  6. Westminster – Marylebone Road
  7. Camden – Euston Road
  8. Westminster – Oxford Street
  9. City of London – Beech Street
  10. Kensington and Chelsea – Earls Court Rd
 The Mayor has set a target to reduce London’s carbon dioxide emissions by 60% of their 1990 level by 2025. Most of London’s emissions (about 80 per cent) come from burning fossil fuels to power and heat buildings, and the rest from transport. The Mayor’s Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy explains what we’re doing to meet this target

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infographic: Tooba Haq

Find the whole story at the link below.

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