Dick's payout, repair deadline, curtain twitching — London Spy, Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023
Your Tuesday round-up of the week so far in the capital
Morning, London — here’s what we’ve spied in the capital on Tuesday, January 31:
👮 The former boss of the Metropolitan police thought a fitting end to her scandal-ridden tenure would be a half-a-million pound golden handshake. Cressida Dick sought £500,000 to stand down as police commissioner in February 2022, emails between her staff and mayor Sadiq Khan’s show, after she lost the mayor’s trust amid a wave of scandals. These included: the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard by Wayne Couzens; the policing of a vigil then held for Sarah Everard in Clapham Common; officers sharing photos on WhatsApp of murder victims Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry; the strip-search of a 15-year-old Black girl known as Child Q in a school in Hackney. Letting all of that sink in might be why Dick eventually accepted a smaller(ish) payout of £165,000.
Scrutiny of Dick’s tenure was recently rekindled by failures on her watch surrounding serial rapist David Carrick, and continued on Monday with news that nearly 15,000 allegations were made about Met Police officers and staff in 2021 — her final full year heading up the Met. Racism, harassment, sexism, homophobia, sexual assault and excessive use of force are all among the charges made by the public, though, admittedly, these are just allegations at this point.
The start of the week at least at least saw some evidence the Met is making headway in rooting out its problems: an officer has been dismissed after requesting a photo of a decomposed body via WhatsApp so that she could show her relative.
🏘️ Time’s nearly up for developers still yet to remove unsafe cladding following the Grenfell Tower disaster. Yesterday saw the government send out contracts that will legally bind developers to fixing any unsafe buildings they were involved in over the past 30 years, and they face a six-week deadline to sign on the dotted line. The latest data shows that there are 272 high-rises in London still with Grenfell-style ACM cladding — but these statistics don’t include a further number of smaller blocks and buildings covered in the same materials that cost 72 Grenfell residents their lives in 2017.
💡 Curtain twitching is taking on a whole new meaning in east London, as residents voice their concern about light pollution from a huge new concert venue. “Like a sun on Earth” is how neighbours of a Las Vegas version of the MSG Sphere describe the 111-metre-high spherical concert hall, which developers are proposing to bring to Stratford. The case against made by locals is essentially that, unlike Las Vegas, this version of 21,500-capacity hall will be in the middle of a residential area, not the desert. Watch this space, as the planning application will eventually be referred to the mayor of London, who has the power to refuse it.
💨 A chance to reclaim the ULEZ narrative for Sadiq Khan, as he unveiled how City Hall plans to compensate drivers hit by new air pollution rules. Grants of £2,000 will be available for drivers needing to scrap or replace vehicles that will not comply with the ultra-low emissions zone due to cover the entirety of the Greater London area from August. How low-income individuals were expected to afford becoming ULEZ compliant has been of chief concern to Labour borough councils, so it’ll be soon be clear over the coming days whether Khan’s scrappage scheme settles discontent amongst his own party.
🍺 Finally — apparently Sir Ian McKellan owns a pub in London, and the hygiene leaves much to be desired. The Grapes pub in Limehouse has reportedly lost two stars from its hygiene rating, likely much to embarassment of Sir Ian and fellow owners Sean Mathias, his former partner and film director, and Russian-British businessman Evgeny Lebedev (yep, that one, who owns the Evening Standard and got made a lord by Boris Johnson). Inspectors from Tower Hamlets council found out-of-date food and a fridge operating at far too hot a temperature, leading to the pub’s rating slipping from five stars to three.
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