Wednesday, May 12, 2010

London news wrap

London police still stopping photographers

PROFESSIONAL photographer Grant Smith, renowned for his work on architecture, was stopped and searched by police last week for taking pictures of the London skyline and subjected to a search under anti-terrorism laws – six months after a similar incident in which he was prevented from taking pictures on a London church.
He said the officers from the City of London Police prevented him from using his camera to film the stop and search and held his arms behind his back while they searched through his possessions. They even refused to allow him to use pen and paper to take notes.
He was told he was being held under section 44 of the Terrorism Act because of his obstructive and non-compliant attitude.
Smith said police left him feeling humiliated after manhandling him in front of office workers.
Last December police had stopped him from photographing the spire of Sir Christopher Wren’s Christ Church. This and a number of other well publicised incidents led to a public furore after which several senior police officers instructed their officers to refrain from inappropriate use of section 44 and reminding them that there are no laws against people taking pictures of buildings.
And earlier this year the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the arbitrary stop and search of people under section 44 without suspicion is illegal.

Boris renationalises Tube

TORY Mayor of London Boris Johnson last week accomplished one of the main goals of his predecessor, Ken Livingstone, when he renationalised the London Underground.
LU services have been blighted for over a decade by a deeply unpopular Government-imposed public-private partnership (PPP) for maintenance of the rail network that has seen the private companies involved milk the system for millions of pound for the benefit of their shareholders while delivering late and faulty work, causing hundreds of lines closures and delays.
But Boris had to pay a high price – £310 million – to buy the companies out of the PPP scheme. And there are more delays and closures to come because Transport for London (TfL) has discovered new, complex “challenges” in terms of work that needs doing before the system is working as it should.
And this extra cost is causing concern that the deal will involve cuts to jobs and services.
The Jubilee Line has suffered 113 closures since 2008 due to the installation of a new signalling system. A further 33 closures are planned but it may need a lot more as TfL has discovered “substantial further work” needed before the line can operate normally.
People living in south-east London have been forced to regard the line as generally a week-day only service.
This has particularly hit the O2 (formerly the Dome) – a venue for many large events of all kinds that depends on the Jubilee Line as the main public transport connection with central London.
The RMT transport union is concerned that the new strategy is a smokescreen for job cuts, ticket office closures and attacks on safety standards.
The union warns that Boris’s well publicised launch of his new TfL policy is masking a multi-billion transport cuts package that threatens thousands of jobs, ticket office closures across the capital and a systematic undermining of current safety standards.
RMT repeated its pledge to fight the tube and TfL cuts, including the threat to jobs following the final collapse of the PPP shambles with the buying out of the Tube Lines contract.
The union also raised fears that the incoming government, whichever format it takes, will seek further cuts in transport budgets as it swings the axe at public expenditure.

No comments: