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X Factor’s Johnny lights up Harrow!

Thursday, 1 December, 2011 1 comment

Be quick if you want to catch Harrow’s Johnny Robinson switching on the town centre’s Christmas lights tonight!

The star from West Harrow will strike the first note of Christmas celebrations by turning on the lights at St Ann’s Road, near Katie’s Statue (the skipping girl sculpture near Debenhams), at 6:30pm.

But the show has already started with street performances, balloon artists and Sparky the giant robot entertaining kids at St Ann’s Road.

Ahead of his performance, Johnny Robinson said: “I’m thrilled to be able to come back to Harrow to help launch the countdown to Christmas!

“I had such great support from local people during the X Factor and it will be fantastic to say thank you in person, as well as give my backing to local traders during the Christmas shopping period. I look forward to seeing lots of you in Harrow Town Centre!”

The Christmas lights along St Ann’s Road and Station Road were installed by Harrow Council with the £860,000 won from the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund to revitalise the shopping district.

Keith Ferry, Harrow Council’s portfolio holder for planning and economic development, said: “Johnny did Harrow proud during his time on the X Factor and we’re delighted that he’ll be joining us.”

He added: “The Mayor’s Outer London Fund aims to bring more shoppers to town centres like Harrow.

“It funds initiatives to dress up high streets and Harrow’s eye catching ‘light garden’ and festive lights caught the attention of the judges. We’re hoping you come and enjoy the lights, see Johnny, and shop for Christmas in the Town Centre.”

The ‘light garden’ art installation is now lit up outside St George’s Centre. It features giant snowdrops and lotus flowers around a giant alium flower. It was created by artist Jig Cochrane, who is responsible for October’s display of giant tulips for the Diwali celebrations.

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Hillingdon children deliver HS2 petition to Downing Street

Thursday, 24 November, 2011 Leave a comment

Hillingdon children are presenting a petition against the Government’s High Speed Rail (HS2) plans today.

Trains similar to these will operate on the proposed HS2 line between London and Birmingham. Image courtesy John Curnow.

Nine-year-old Max, the oldest of the four youngsters, wanted to send a message to the Prime Minister that it is unfair children don’t have a say in the government’s proposal for the HS2 line between London and Birmingham.

Max will deliver the ‘Save Us From HS2’ petition to Downing Street along with Caitlin, 8, Eve, 6 and Sian, aged 5, accompanied by local Conservative MPs Nick Hurd and John Randall. The petition has been signed by hundreds of children worried the development will ultimately threaten their gardens, schools, scout huts and a play park.

Keri Brennan, Chairman of Hillingdon Against HS2, said: “We have been amazed and humbled by children’s grasp of the facts about HS2.”

She said six Hillingdon schools will be closed in the plans and more will be affected by noise and construction. Hillingdon Outdoor Activities Centre is also under threat.

“Local children understand just how much their neighbourhoods and environment could be affected if HS2 is built,” added Mrs Brennan.

Hillingdon Council is among 14 councils opposed to HS2 and it backs Ruislip Against HS2.

Pro-HS2 MPs cite the economic benefits and improved links between north and south. HS2 will reduce the journey from London to Birmingham to a commutable 49 minutes while construction of the line over the next 7-10 years is expected to create more than 40,000 jobs. Half of the jobs created will be in London.

Director of Consultation and Communications for HS2, Miranda Carter, said: “It can’t stop in Hillingdon because that is where it picks up the high speed but it is a national project. The benefits of economic growth for the whole country will trickle down.”

The main petition against the project, with 108,000 signatures, was presented to Downing Street last month. The Government will make its final decision on the line in mid-December.

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.

Decapitated wallaby found in Ealing animal park

Sunday, 23 October, 2011 2 comments

A wallaby was found decapitated in its enclosure at an animal park in Hanwell, Ealing on Thursday, October 20.

Slain: A wallaby (similar to this one) had its head cut off on Thursday.

Keepers were shocked to find 7-year-old Parma wallaby Bruce left dead when they arrived at Brent Lodge Park, known locally as Bunny Park, on Thursday morning with the head removed. No other animals were injured but fellow wallaby Rolph was found visibly distressed.

Police confirmed an intruder gained entry by cutting through the perimeter fence to the enclosure at some time on Wednesday night. Once inside, they killed the wallaby.

Detective Inspector Tim Yates of Ealing CID said: “I know the families who use this park will be very concerned about this attack, but it is a very unusual incident and we are determined to find those responsible.”

A veterinary examination confirmed a knife had been used.

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for transport and environment, said: “I am completely sickened by this attack on a defenceless animal and I know the whole community is equally shocked.”

No arrests have been made. Police are appealing for witnesses and enquiries are ongoing.

As a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the centre houses a variety of animals including mongooses, goats, guinea pigs and rabbits, exotic birds and an indoor area with monkeys, reptiles and spiders.

Contact Ealing Police on 0208 721 7030 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 with any information in connection with the incident.

Image credit wwarby, Flickr.

Abandoned kittens get second chance at life

Saturday, 15 October, 2011 1 comment

Kittens and cats abandoned by their owners will be given a second chance for a loving home at a cattery’s open day tomorrow.

Edwina Coda, manager of the Comfy Cats Cattery, is running the re-homing event to give people a chance to see around 18 cats left at Shaftesbury Waye, Hayes.

Ms Coda said: “There is a shortage of people to the increasing number of cats we find. We wanted people to see all the cats in one place, rather than different places.”

Cat Protection Hillingdon co-ordinator Janet Campbell cited two cats, 16 and 17 years old, abandoned and fed by an elderly lady since last Christmas when the owner moved away and these cases are multiplying.

Ms Coda said: “Possible reasons could be the effects of the recession with people moving out of their homes and leaving cats behind, or rising costs of keeping pets.

“It is a real shame because they are wonderful animals that deserve to be with a loving family.”

The open day comes after an RSPCA appeal in August for potential cat owners to come forward after they were trying to find homes for more than double the number of abandoned cats than this time last year.

There are more than 20 cats at the RSPCA Hillingdon, Slough, Windsor, Kingston and District Branch. Among them are a litter of kittens saved by a waste collector who untied a black bag about to be thrown into the rubbish lorry after he saw something moving in it.

Irene Hansford, chairman of the branch, said cats are cared for at the RSPCA cattery in Brokengate Lane, Denham: “Cats are so cheap to look after compared to dogs, but when you have a lot of new born cats to look after people find they cannot cope and give them to us.”

She added: “The question we are asking ourselves is, are there 100 homes out there? We have more than 100 cats to re-house – it has doubled from a year ago. A high percentage are black cats and kittens which people don’t seem to want.”

Re-home a cat: the open day is at Comfy Cats Cattery, 3 Shaftesbury Waye, HAYES on Sunday, October 16, 12-3pm.

For more information, go to www.comfy-cats-cattery.co.uk, or call 0208 848 4843.

Comfy Cats Cattery manager,