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Archive for October, 2011

Trick or Treat?

Monday, 31 October, 2011 1 comment

According to a recent survey commissioned by Santander Insurance, 1 in 5 people would support banning Trick or Treating following the riots which swept across London earlier this year. 

Around 22%  of people surveyed believe that the yearly custom should have an outright ban, while 50% said that parental accompaniment should be compulsory in order to control the behaviour of children.

Furthermore, 43% of people would support a ban on people wearing masks which obscure the face over Halloween, and over a third of people asked would support a ban on people wearing hooded tops.

Andy Smith, head of media relations at Santander, said: “The summer’s riots resulted in a huge amount of innocent people becoming victims of crime. Our research would suggest that there is genuine concern about any more criminal damage or anti-social behaviour taking place in the period that surrounds Halloween and bonfire night – a period which many people already find intimidating”.

Are these fears founded or is it a lot of fuss about nothing? We want to know what you think: 

Game Overdose: Fallout 3 vs. Fallout: New Vegas DLC face-off PART 2

Sunday, 30 October, 2011 1 comment

Apologies for the lateness of this everyone, life got in the way and I got a little bit discouraged by being messed around a bit, but I’m back to finish off what I started, an overall comparison between Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas’s DLC.

Read more…

Liquid and Envy nightclub parent enters administration

Friday, 28 October, 2011 1 comment

Luminar Leisure Ltd., the parent company of nightclub chains Oceana, Liquid & Envy, filed for administration on Wednesday.

The UK nightclub chain called in administrators because it was unable to service its debts after bankers Lloyds TSB, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland declined to extend a loan repayment deadline.

Far from striking the end note, Luminar intends to keep their 75 clubs across the UK open indefinitely. The company is keen to dispel rumours about the fate of 3,000 full-time and part-time staff across the UK.

Stephen Lynn, Head of Marketing, said: “Despite Luminar being placed in administration, Liquid on the High Street will continue to trade and provide the clubbers of Uxbridge the best night out for the foreseeable future.”

He added: “There are rumours we are trying to shut the clubs down. The clubs are open and will be trading today, this weekend, and going forward.”

Nightlife: Luminar owns 75 Oceana, Liquid and Envy clubs nationwide. Image credit .Martin., Flickr.

Philip Bowcock, Finance Director of Luminar Group Holdings, issued a statement on Wednesday, October 26 confirming that the banks will not extend their original 3-month waiver on the repayment of an £85million debt facility granted on 11th May. The original repayment deadline was Thursday 27th October.

Without the waiver, Luminar is unable to meet its repayment obligations.

The statement said: “The Directors of Luminar have no option but to take steps to place the Company and certain of its subsidiaries into administration and to request the UK Listing Authority to suspend trading in Luminar’s shares with immediate effect.”

This year Liquid Uxbridge held more student nights, including live DJs and other performers, to appeal to a younger audience. The club’s core market of 18-24 year olds have less spare cash for nights out with rising youth unemployment and less economic security, while students are paying higher tuition fees.

The company recently introduced cocktail bars by the clubs, brought in a wider range of beers and held live music and comedy events in all their venues to appeal to more mature customers, but it didn’t turn the business around. The company said the August riots had a material impact on trading and that profit margins had been squeezed with  more promotions.

Shares in Luminar Group Holdings crashed by 30% at the close of trading on Wednesday, having fallen more than 600p over the past five years.

The company issued a series of profit warnings over the past 2 years. The last came in July when Luminar had a 12% fall in like-for-like sales.

Brunel University students will be pleased to know that Liquid and Envy in Uxbridge says it has no plans to close this weekend and will be going ahead with Halloween celebrations as planned. It is not known what the future of the club beyond the weekend will be.

Car accident closes Hillingdon Road

Wednesday, 26 October, 2011 Leave a comment

A woman was rushed to hospital this afternoon after being struck by a car opposite the former RAF Uxbridge.

The incident, which happened at about 5pm, saw a car plough into a group of pedestrians near the A4020 Hillingdon Road junction with Orchard Waye. Police and London Ambulance Service were called to the scene. One woman was rushed to a central London hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said “The male driver, aged in his 30s has been, arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and is in custody at a west London police station. Road closures remain in place.”

Drivers attempting to reach Uxbridge or destinations beyond are advised to turn off at Royal Lane and use the Cowley Road instead.

The A4020 is also known as the Uxbridge Road. Tailbacks are reported as far as Hillingdon.

Did you see what happened? Contact us or post on our Facebook page and let us know.

Vatican investigates sexual abuse at Ealing Abbey

Tuesday, 25 October, 2011 5 comments

The Vatican has ordered an inquiry following allegations of sexual abuse at a school and abbey in Ealing.

The  school, which admits pupils aged 4 to 18, came under scrutiny in 2009 when reports emerged of sexual abuse, some of which go back as far as the 1960s.

Father David Pearce, the former headmaster of St Benedict’s School, was jailed for eight years after being found guilty of abusing five students.

A number of priests and lay teachers at the school in Eaton Rise, have been linked to the scandal, which has been subject of three previous inquiries.

They include Father Laurence Soper currently on the run after failing to appear at a police station for questioning in March. The 81-year-old taught at St Benedict’s between 1972 and 1984 and was abbot of the abbey, in Charlbury Grove, for nine years from 1991.

Following further abuse claims, a team sent in by the Vatican visited the connected Ealing Abbey where some monks, who have also been accused of abuse, still live.

The latest inquiry has been ordered by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is led by Bishop Arnold, an auxiliary bishop of Westminster and Father Richard Yeo, president of the English Benedictine Congregation.

Supporters of the alleged victims have questioned the integrity of the Vatican’s internal inquiry, not least because its findings will remain secret. One campaigner went as far as to say that this latest inquiry is akin to ‘putting Dracula in charge of a blood bank’.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Carlile, has been conducting a separate inquiry into the abuse cases and is due to publish his findings later this month.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Westminster said: “The effective safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults is a priority for the Catholic Church, and Ealing Abbey’s safeguarding policies and procedures formed part of the remit of the apostolic visitation”.

He added: “The Vatican will decide what actions, if any, need to be taken”.

 

MPs split over EU vote

Tuesday, 25 October, 2011 1 comment

David Cameron faced what can arguably be seen as the biggest test of his leadership yesterday as a backbench motion calling for a referendum on Europe caused a massive rift within the House of Commons.

The decision of Cameron and Miliband not to allow a free vote within Parliament, opting for a three-line whip in the hope of controlling MPs votes, was met with fierce criticism from both The Commons and the general public.

After a five-hour debate on the pros and cons of EU membership and why the public should or should not be allowed to determine our future within Europe, 483 MPs voted to reject the motion, with only 111 voting in favour leaving a majority of 372 out of a total of 650 MPs in the House of Commons.

This result has sparked uncertainty over the future of several MPs within their parties. Grassroots reaction from Twitter and other social media sources suggest widespread public dissatisfaction with the result of the vote.

Twitter user Edward Butler-Ellis, who tweets under the username @EdwardBE1 and describes himself as an ‘avid Conservative campaigner’ said: “how is the #eureferendum a distraction for parliament? The EU is the single largest influence over the UK, don’t insult us. #referendumNOW

charlotteahenry, a self-described liberal, said: “Fuming about today’s self indulgent antics in Parliament, given what’s going on in the real world. Do MPs still wonder why nobody cares?”

Meanwhile, Labour supporter Shereef Abdallah (@Sheik74Shereef ) said: “Cameron is sleep walking to disaster. Even after the Euro vote, what happens if UK has d.dip recession ? Govt won’t survive till 2015.”

The list of rebels is as follows:

Conservative

Stuart Andrew

Steve Baker

John Baron

Andrew Bingham

Brian Binley

Bob Blackman

Peter Bone

Graham Brady

Andrew Bridgen

Steve Brine

Fiona Bruce

Dan Byles

Douglas Carswell

Bill Cash

Christopher Chope

James Clappison

Tracey Crouch

David T.C. Davies

Philip Davies

David Davis

Nick du Bois

Caroline Dinenage

Nadine Dorries

Richard Drax

Mark Field

Lorraine Fullbrook

Zac Goldsmith

James Gray

Chris Heaton-Harris

Gordon Henderson

George Hollingbery

Philip Hollobone

Stewart Jackson

Bernard Jenkin

Marcus Jones

Chris Kelly

Andrea Leadsom

Jeremy Lefroy

Edward Leigh

Dr. Julian Lewis

Karen Lumley

Jason McCartney

Karl McCartney

Stephen McPartland

Anne Main

Patrick Mercer

Nigel Mills

Anne-Marie Morris

James Morris

Stephen Mosely

Sheryll Murray

Caroline Nokes

David Nuttall

Matthew Offord

Neil Parish

Priti Patel

Andrew Percy

Mark Pritchard

Mark Reckless

John Redwood

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Simon Reevell

Laurence Robertson

Andrew Rosindell

Richard Shepherd

Henry Smith

John Stevenson

Bob Stewart

Gary Streeter

Julian Sturdy

Sir Peter Tapsell

Justin Tomlinson

Andrew Turner

Martin Vickers

Charles Walker

Robin Walker

Heather Wheeler

Craig Whittaker

John Whittingdale

Dr. Sarah Wollaston

Labour

Ronnie Campbell

Rosie Cooper

Jeremy Corbyn

Jon Cruddas

John Cryer

Ian Davidson

Natascha Engel

Frank Field

Roger Godsiff

Kate Hoey

Kelvin Hopkins

Steve McCabe

John McDonnell

Austin Mitchell

Dennis Skinner

Andrew Smith

Graham Stringer

Gisela Stuart

Mike Wood

Lib Dem

Adrian Sanders

Democratic Unionist Party

Gregory Campbell

Nigel Dodds

Jeffrey Donaldson

Dr. William McCrea

Ian Paisley Jr.

Jim Shannon

David Simpson

Sammy Wilson

Green

Caroline Lucas

Independent

Lady Hermon

POSITIVE ABSTENTIONS (Went through both Aye & No lobbies) 2

Ian Stewart (Conservative)

Mike Weatherley (Conservative)


Guest post: 2011, all out

Monday, 24 October, 2011 Leave a comment

This is a guest post by Hugh Frost-Wellings

As an English cricket supporter I am an enthusiastic fan of Sir Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham. He has scored over 5000 runs in his test career and has taken over 380 wickets. Any cricket lover will be aware of the 1981 Ashes series which became known as ‘Botham’s Ashes’ because of an incredible performance from him which led to an English victory in the series.

Universal: Cricket can be played virtually anywhere with minimal equipment. (image via sujohndas, Flickr)

He has also been given honorary life membership to the MCC; his picture hanging in the much coveted Long Room Bar at Lord’s Cricket Ground, and he has played professionally for Scunthorpe United and Yeovil Town FC.  A few weeks ago Sir Ian wrote an article in The Telegraph saying, amongst other things, that cricket is good for schoolchildren; I couldn’t agree more. There are so many things to be learnt from cricket, which in my opinion is the greatest sport in the world.

For those who are not cricket fans, let me give you a fleeting description. In a cricket team there are eleven people all offering something different and with the correct balance of personalities and talents, an unstoppable team is created.

When batting there is an order in which batsmen play, and the skills and talents of each batsman determines their position on that order. Similarly, when fielding, different bowling talents offer different attacking options; different areas of the field require different aptitudes to ensure wickets are taken.

Our society here in Britain really is an exceptional one. We are such a mix of people, cultures, knowledge and skills each bringing something different to the table… or to the field. Everything which makes up our varied communities is wonderful and creates something extra special.

As I have explained; cricket is an amalgamation of talents working together; providing individual talents, skills and abilities to support the overall objective of the collective. What an excellent model for us to adopt for society. What’s that old expression? ‘The whole is greater than the sum of the parts’ This is certainly true of our society; I believe our ‘whole’ country really is great.

There are other intrinsic principles to cricket which also should be intrinsic to our society. In cricket, the bowler will not begin his bowling attack until he is confident that the batsman is ready for it. If the bowler should start his attack, or his ‘run-up’ as it is known, before the batsman is ready, the batsman will signal to him and he will stop and start again.

How excellent a mind-set that even in professional, competitive sport there is such a dedicated, obvious and adhered-to policy of fair play? And isn’t that something everyone wants in the country?

There is also incredible discipline and perseverance in a cricket match; they do last for five days, after all, and, depending on weather, 26.6 football games could take place during one Test cricket match. There is much criticism of the school system in this country, especially with regards to discipline.

Professional: Taking up sport can lead to great things. (image via goldberg, Flickr)

Professional: Taking up sport can lead to great things. (image via goldberg, Flickr)

Boris Boot-Camps have been unveiled across London to instil some discipline, sense of responsibility and team work for school children. Perhaps the organisers of these boot camps and all the workers in the camps should listen to Mr.Botham and myself and make cricket compulsory for the benefit of society.

We cannot ignore the headlines in all the papers and on the internet at the moment talking about the obesity that seems to be swamping the whole western world. The NHS is struggling to cope with the number of people with health issues related to weight problems such as diabetes and the country is unsure of how to deal with the problem.

Andrew Lansley, the current Health Secretary, has said that people should eat less. This is true. Eating less is half the battle to a healthy lifestyle and therefore a healthy society. The other half is exercise. And where better to start than a sport where you win, by running more than the other team?

I cannot stress enough how good cricket is for the country and why it should be more widely played and appreciated. A celebration of diversity, pulling together for the greater good, respect for one’s opponents, a sense of discipline and stamina as well as improving fitness. What are you waiting for? Stop reading this, ring a few friends and see how many runs and wickets you can take!

Stay safe during Halloween and Bonfire Night!

Monday, 24 October, 2011 3 comments

With Halloween and Bonfire Night just around the corner, and the evenings getting longer and colder, the borough of Kensington and Chelsea have begun their seasonal crackdown on anti social behaviour.

Officers across the borough have already distributed thousands of leaflets and posters to residents in the borough designed to promote responsible trick or treating.

The posters display a ‘no trick or treat’ sign to be stuck in the windows of properties in the run up to the festivities.

Superintendent Simon Rose, head of Operations, said: “In Kensington and Chelsea we are encouraging responsible ‘trick or treating’, which allows people who wish to take part in the celebrations to do so in a safe and respectful manner, whilst respecting the privacy of residents who do not and preserving the safety and well-being of the more vulnerable members of our community.

“Obviously displaying this poster is no guarantee that you will not be visited on Halloween but it does make it clear to parents and other responsible ‘trick or treaters’ where callers will be welcome.”

Safer neighbourhood officers are continuing to patrol at key times across the borough, at transport hubs and visiting schools to discourage criminal activity around this time of year and are working closely with Test Sale operations with Trading Standards to monitor the sale of fireworks, alcohol and over the counter weapons.

Screening arches will also be in place around the borough as well as metal detection wands as part of a system to deter the carriage of weapons.

Halloween and Bonfire night are ideal opportunites for criminal activites with the use of costumes to conceal a weapon and people willingly opening their front doors without checking first who is visiting them.

Commander Christine Jones from the Met’s Territorial Policing Command Centre said: “We are here for London and to help make sure that everyone can enjoy the festivities and stay safe.

“I would like to stress that our operations are not aimed at demonising young people, the large majority of whom behave safely and responsibly. However those intent on committing crime and anti social behaviour will face the consequences.”

The Met are encouraging people to contact their local Safer Neighbourhood team for more information or guidance. In an emergency dial 999.

Image via somewhereintheworldtoday, Flickr.

Tube drivers in industrial action over new rules

Monday, 24 October, 2011 Leave a comment

Members of the RMT trade union are set to take industrial action short of a strike after a ballot was passed by a 4-1 majority last week.

Union bosses are concerned that new working practices being introduced by London Underground management may compromise passenger safety. The changes, contained in LU document “Operational Standards Notice 101” makes changes to at least four areas:

  • Carrying passengers who will not or cannot leave the train (for example, through falling ill) into sidings when reversing the train at the end of the line.
  • Drivers departing unaided from stations even if they cannot see the full length of the platform.
  • Allowing drivers to override “sensitive edge” technology on the new S Stock, which automatically stops the train if an item is caught in the doors.
  • Reversing a train from the front cab by up to one carriage’s length – for example, if the driver overruns his stopping point at a station.

450 drivers took part in the ballot, with about 370 voting in favour. RMT members have been instructed to ignore the new regulations by union representatives and work to a previous version.

Bob Crow, secretary of the RMT, said: “We have tried to get LUL to see sense, but they have continued to put cash and job cuts ahead of passenger safety and we had no choice but to ballot for action to put a stop to these dangerous proposals being imposed without agreement and we now have an overwhelming vote for action and it falls to LUL to pull back and start talking.”

The industrial action comes mere weeks after London Underground offered its employees a pay deal that will see some Tube drivers’ salaries exceed £52,000 during the Olympics.

A fresh ballot may take place over a similar management decision to scale back daily testing of tripcock equipment, which automatically stops trains that pass red signals, on S Stock trains. LU managers want to reduce testing to once every 15,000km, which the RMT estimates as being once in every 60 days.

It is unclear how testing can be reduced to 60 days as the testing equipment is physically located on the track, meaning trains are automatically tested as they are driven in service.

London Underground employs about 1,500 train drivers.

Film Review: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

Sunday, 23 October, 2011 5 comments

Fairy good creature feature: should be brought to light!

It is not unusual for an old house to make noises but eerie whispers are the last thing Sally, abandoned by her mother to the custody of her father and his new flame Kim (Katie Holmes), expects to hear coming from a vent in the basement of the 19th Century Blackwood Estate.

Angst: Sally (Bailee Madison) hears things that go bump in the night...

At first the voices seem playful and entice the girl’s curiosity, even encouraging her to remove the grill over the vent. But there are sinister motives at work in Guillermo del Toro’s latest monster mash, and when the owners of the voices reveal themselves in a terrifying encounter she sees them for what they are: homicidal fairy folk with a taste for children’s teeth!

Although it has been criticised for failing to work as a horror movie, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark does very well in other ways. The main focus does revolve more around the strained relationship between the girl, her father (Guy Pearce) and her step-mother, but this allows the film to illuminate a key theme: the angst of a terrified little girl, left to face her fears in isolation while her father deems any disturbances as a by-product of her irrational childhood behaviour.

She could easily be saved and yet he is too wrapped up in his own life to stop and care. Kim appears to eventually get through to her and realises something ominous is going on, but even her efforts are limited. In short, Sally is doomed from the start.

Del Toro’s creatures, ugly little grey goblins, are certainly hideous to look at but they spend a lot of time in the limelight. While this means audiences can contemplate their mysterious origin all the more, it does, apart from a couple of jumpy moments, make it rather difficult for them to scare us.

We become accustomed to their odd appearances, to the point where some have even described them as “cute” (I do not share such sentiments). Their mischievous and skittish nature, involving botched attempts to capture their prey, makes it harder still, to take them seriously.

Then again, their terrifying motive generates a sinister atmosphere from the start. You certainly wouldn’t want your children playing with these beasts, no matter what they say.

Before long, their latent viciousness is revealed, and they up their game, raiding the groundskeeper’s tool box for sharp objects! Perhaps this isn’t a scary horror, but it is a disturbing supernatural thriller.

After watching this one, you might feel happy enough to sleep with the lights off, but don’t be surprised if you find the creepy notion of the ‘hidden people’ staying with you a little while longer.

Four Stars: ****