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Council car parking charge hike to be 'called-in'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

A decision to increase parking charges by up to 130% in Merton will be revisited after the council failed to fol low it’s own procedures.

The price hike, which has been described as discriminatory, would see parking in Wimbledon going up from£1.20 to £4.50 in some areas and permits increasing from £65 up to £150.

But there is now the possibility that this could now be overturned thanks to a ‘call-in’ by Merton’s Liberal Democrats.

At a special meeting of the council's overview and scrutiny commission this week Councillor Anthony Fairclough challenged the parking plan for ‘the failure to follow the council’s set equality assessment process’.

As part of the plan ‘equalities groups’ including people with disabilities and pregnant women had to be consulted.

But Mr Fairclough argued the council had failed to consult relevant groups enough to minimise the negative impact on them.

Chris Lee, the council's director of environment and regeneration, said groups had been contacted by email but when they did not respond it was not followed up as it should have been.

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Brigade concerns over lack of sprinklers in schools

Firefighters have not attended a single school or college fire in London this year where sprinklers were fitted, new figures have revealed.

London Fire Brigade said of the 57 educational establishments in London which had fires up until 25 July, none had automatic fire suppression systems (AFSS) fitted.

Between 2014 and July this year, only 2.3% - 13 - of the 565 so-called "school fires" had sprinklers.

The statistics cover blazes attended by fire crews at preschools and nurseries, infant and primary schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities, the brigade said.

It said it wanted sprinklers to be mandatory in all new school builds and for others to be fitted with them during major refurbishments.

Firefighter with a sprinkler
PA Media

Its deputy assistant commissioner for fire safety Charlie Pugsley said: "Sprinklers are the only fire safety system that detects a fire, suppresses a fire and can raise the alarm."

He added: "Millions of pounds are wasted every year repairing fire damage in London's schools when sprinklers could have prevented the spread of fire.

"This is not just about saving money; when a school is closed it disrupts a child's education, impacts on the local community and affects parents by closing breakfast and after school clubs."

The fire service said that sprinklers are especially important during the summer holidays when buildings are empty and fires can smolder undetected, causing "extensive and expensive" damage.

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Dan Roan and Patrick Nathanson

BBC Sport

Young Chelsea footballers were targeted for years by a "prolific and manipulative sexual abuser" who was able to operate "unchallenged", says a damning report.

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Ex-homeless man paints pictures of rough sleepers

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Andrew Mcleay
Andrew Mcleay

An ex-homeless man who paints rough sleepers on the streets has started selling his portraits, and using the proceeds to fund the soup kitchen he runs.

Andrew Mcleay found himself on the street in March 2008 after arriving from Australia.

Just over a decade later, he now organises the Ealing Soup Kitchen, and uses his love of painting to help fund his endeavours.

So far he has sold three of his portraits, getting £80-130 for each.

That might not sound like a huge amount, but it pays for about a month’s worth of supplies for the kitchen.

Each portrait has been bought by members of the public, and Andrew said using the money for anything other than supporting the homeless would feel wrong.

Andrew Mcleay

“I wouldn’t want to benefit from anyone’s dire situation, so I think it’s important that any proceeds I get from the paintings go back into the soup kitchen. The homeless are great because they’re generally happy to have their photos taken, and I just paint from that. As a painter generally it’s about trying to capture something that people don’t always see. It’s like trying to tell a story without any words."

Andrew Mcleay

Council 'shocked' over festival stabbings

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Merton Council has issued a statement after four men were stabbed at a council-run park this weekend.

The stabbings took place in Morden Park on Saturday where Eastern Electrics festival was taking place.

The techno music festival was granted a licence by the council in February despite strong opposition from nearby residents.

Today a spokesman for Merton Council said any future applications for events of this nature would take the incident into account.

The spokesman said: “We were shocked to hear what happened in Morden Park on Saturday. Our thoughts are with those involved and their families. Merton is a very safe place and we take safety at events very seriously.

“Should an application be submitted to the council for an event of this nature in the future, past events would, of course, be taken into consideration.”

The first victim, a 24-year-old, was attacked just after 16:00 and taken to hospital. Just before 18:45 another man, aged 27, was stabbed before being rushed to A&E.

Paramedics had to then take a third man, in his 20s, to hospital after he was found with stab wounds at 21:38.

None of these three men suffered life-threatening or life-changing injuries. The fourth victim, a man in his 40s, was then found injured just before 22:00, his condition is unknown.