Edmonton police station car crash: Man arrested

A police station in north London had to be evacuated after a car crashed into the building.

The crash happened shortly before 19:00 GMT in Edmonton. An eyewitness reported seeing a man then pouring petrol over the car and setting it alight.

Footage, posted on social media, shows a vehicle partially embedded in the entrance of the building. The Met Police said the car was being examined.

A man in his 40s has been arrested on suspicion of arson and other offences.

Both the London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade were called to the crash on Fore Street.

Police said officers were still at the scene but an earlier cordon had been reduced and staff had returned to the station. No injuries have been reported.

“At this time this remains a local investigation but is being supported by counter-terrorism officers,” the Met added.

Enfield Council leader Nesil Caliskan had earlier described the crash as a “major incident” and urged people to avoid the area.

Store manager Ogur Mazlum, 34, witnessed the moment the car crashed into the building.

His wife Serife Mazlum said: “He literally just walked out (of his shop) to just call me and see if everything’s OK at home.

“Then he said I have to shut the phone quickly… that was when the car crashed into the front of the police station.”

Mrs Mazlum said her husband, who speaks limited English, saw that the car had crashed through an exterior glass entrance to the police station and a man was trying to get through a second barrier.

“He was insisting on trying to get inside, but the glass door wouldn’t break anymore so he couldn’t get any closer,” she added.

“Then he casually got out of the car with a tank of petrol. He poured it down from the car into the middle of the road and then he just set it on fire.”

Video footage of the immediate aftermath shows police officers tackling the man and putting out the flames.

Mrs Mazlum said another man watching the scene from across the street ran to intervene after the driver had set the fuel alight.

“He pinned [the driver] to the ground just as the police was arriving,” she added.

“So by the time the police came and got out of the cars the citizen had already slammed him to the ground.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he had been in “constant contact” with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick about the incident.

Writing on Twitter, he said: “I’m grateful to the police officers and other emergency services who brought the situation under control and continue to investigate the incident.”

For more London news follow on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Rolls-Royce plans 16 mini-nuclear plants for UK

A consortium led by Rolls-Royce has announced plans to build up to 16 mini-nuclear plants in the UK.

It says the project will create 6,000 new jobs in the Midlands and the North of England over the next five years.

The prime minister is understood to be poised to announce at least £200m for the project as part of a long-delayed green plan for economic recovery.

Rolls-Royce argues that as well as producing low-carbon electricity, the concept may become an export industry.

The company’s UK “small modular reactor” (SMR) group includes the National Nuclear Laboratory and the building company Laing O’Rourke.

Last year, it received £18m to begin the design effort for the SMR concept.

The government says new nuclear is essential if the UK is to meet its target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 – where any carbon released is balanced out by an equivalent amount absorbed from the atmosphere.

But there is a nuclear-sized hole opening up in the energy network.

Six of the UK’s seven nuclear reactor sites are due to go offline by 2030 and the remaining one, Sizewell B, is due to be decommissioned in 2035.

Together they account for around 20% of the country’s electricity.

Rolls-Royce and its partners argue that instead of building huge nuclear mega-projects in muddy fields we should construct a series of smaller nuclear plants from “modules” made in factories.

The aim is to re-engineer nuclear power as a very high-tech Lego set.

The components would be broken down into a series of hundreds of these modules which would be made in a central factory and shipped by road to the site for assembly.

The objective is to tackle the biggest problem nuclear power faces: the exorbitant cost.

The reason it is so expensive is that the projects are huge and complex and have to meet very high safety standards.

And, because so few new nuclear power stations are built, there are very few opportunities to learn from mistakes.

So, Rolls-Royce and its partners are saying: let’s make them smaller and make lots of them so that we get really good at it.

The concept would dramatically reduce the amount of construction that would be associated with a nuclear project, claimed Tom Samson, the chief executive of the UK Small Modular Reactor consortium (UK SMR).

“If we move all that activity into a controlled factory environment that drives down cost by simplification and standardisation,” he explained.

Each plant would produce 440 megawatts of electricity – roughly enough to power Sheffield – and the hope is that, once the first few have been made, they will cost around £2bn each.

The consortium says the first of these modular plants could be up and running in 10 years, after that it will be able to build and install two a year.

By comparison, the much larger nuclear plant being built at Hinkley Point in Somerset is expect to cost some £22bn but will produce more than 3 gigawatts of electricity – over six times as much.

In addition to the six nuclear plants going offline by 2030, there’s another challenge. You have to factor in a massive increase in electricity demand over the coming decades.

That’s because if we’re going to reach our net zero target, we need to stop using fossil fuels for transport and home heating.

The government has said this could lead to a three-fold increase in electricity use.

UK SMR isn’t the only player which has spotted that there could be a gap in the market for smaller reactors. There are dozens of different companies around the world working on small reactor projects.

That has got the critics of nuclear power worried. Greenpeace and other environmental groups say small nuclear power stations pose similar risks of radioactive releases and weapons proliferation as big ones.

Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist, Doug Parr, said that if the government wanted to take a punt on some new technology to tackle climate change it would be better off investing in hydrogen or geothermal power.

And there are other reasons to question the SMR concept, says Prof MV Ramana of the University of British Columbia in Canada. He is a physicist and an expert on nuclear energy policy who has studied small modular reactors.

He said UK SMR’s 10-year time-scale for its first plant may prove optimistic. The one constant in the history of the nuclear industry to date is that big new concepts never come in on time and budget, he said.

He is sceptical that the factory concept can deliver significant cost savings given the complexity and scale of even a small nuclear plant. Smaller plants will have to meet the same rigorous safety standards as big ones, he points out.

He said that where the concept has been tried elsewhere – in the US and China, for example – there have been long delays and costs have ended up being comparable to those of large nuclear power stations.

Finally, he questioned whether there will be a market for these plants by the 2030s, when UK SMR says the first will be ready.

“Ten years from now, the competition will be renewables which are going to be far cheaper with much better storage technology than we have today,” said Prof Ramana.

But Boris Johnson’s powerful adviser, Dominic Cummings, is known to be taken with the modular nuclear idea.

One of the reasons the government has been fighting so hard to free itself from the EU’s state aid rules is so it can get its shoulder behind technologies it thinks will give the UK economy and its workers a real boost.

Modular nuclear has the potential to do just that.

If Rolls-Royce and its partners can show that the factory concept really does deliver high quality nuclear plants on time and on budget then there is potentially a huge world market for the technology.

The price per unit of electricity may be higher than with wind or solar, said the clean energy consultant Michael Liebreich, but nuclear delivers power pretty much 24/7 and therefore can command a premium.

UK SMR is pitching the concept as a UK solution to the global challenge of tackling climate change and says there will be a vast export market as the world starts to switch to low carbon energy.

Boris Johnson is rumoured to be planning to take a big punt on nuclear power.

His government has always said new nuclear is going to be a key part of Britain’s future energy system.

As well as the potential investment in SMRs, the BBC has already reported that the government is expected to give the long-discussed new large nuclear plant at Sizewell in Suffolk the go-ahead.

Mr Johnson is expected to say these investments are essential if the UK is going to meet its promise to decarbonise the economy by 2050 as part of the worldwide effort to tackle climate change.

And, while there may be good reasons to question whether the SMR concept will deliver on its promise of low-cost nuclear power, there is no question it holds out exactly the kind of optimistic vision for the UK’s industrial future the government is desperate for.

Follow Justin on Twitter.

I’ve travelled all over the world for the BBC and seen evidence of environmental damage and climate change everywhere. It’s the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced. Tackling it means changing how we do virtually everything. We are right to be anxious and afraid at the prospect, but I reckon we should also see this as a thrilling story of exploration, and I’m delighted to have been given the chance of a ringside seat as chief environment correspondent.

Lee Cain: Senior Johnson adviser to leave Downing Street

Boris Johnson’s director of communications, Lee Cain, is to resign amid reports of internal tensions in No 10.

Mr Cain is set to step down next month.

The BBC understands that he will be replaced by James Slack, currently No 10’s chief spokesman.

Mr Cain, a former Mirror journalist, has worked alongside Mr Johnson for several years, initially on the Vote Leave campaign during the EU referendum.

His resignation follows reports linking him with the vacant role of chief of staff in No 10. But news of his potential appointment led to consternation among some MPs, some ministers, and other insiders in government, according to BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg.

One Tory source even suggested that Mr Johnson’s fiancée, Carrie Symonds, had misgivings over the possible appointment.

Mr Johnson is looking to fill the post of chief of staff as part of a wider reorganisation, which will see ex-BBC journalist Allegra Stratton take on a new role fronting new daily televised news briefings.

In a statement, Mr Cain said it had been a privilege to work for Mr Johnson for the last three years.

“After careful consideration I have this evening resigned as No10 director of communications and will leave the post at the end of the year,” he said.

“I would like to thank the prime minister for his loyalty and leadership. I have no doubt that under his premiership the country will deliver on the promises made in the 2019 election campaign and build back better from the coronavirus pandemic.”

In response, Mr Johnson thanked Mr Cain for his “extraordinary service”.

“He has been a true ally and friend and I am very glad that he will remain director of communications until the new year and to help restructure the operation. He will be much missed.”

Home Office missed chance to stop rise in migrant boats

The Home Office failed to stop a rise in migrant boats crossing the English Channel before it was too late, an independent inspector has said.

Decisive action in late 2018 could have prevented crossings becoming “established”, David Bolt, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, said.

By early 2020 it “appeared to be too late” to stop the rise, he said.

The Home Office said it was tackling the criminals behind the crossings.

In 2018, 297 people reached the UK in small boats, with 1,840 doing so in 2019.

Nearly 8,000 people have made the journey this year, according to BBC analysis.

At least 10 people have died while attempting to cross the Channel since 2019.

On Wednesday, UK authorities intercepted four boats carrying 76 people, the Home Office said, and French authorities prevented 44 people from making the journey on the same day.

Mr Bolt said the Home Office had “neither the capacity nor the capabilities… to manage this threat more effectively”.

More needed to be done to investigate and prosecute people smugglers, he said.

Border Force officers were concerned about “what was being missed as a result” of staff being redeployed to cope with the problem, Mr Bond’s report said

Smuggling of people and goods may have increased in other parts of the UK while resources were concentrated in the South East, the report said.

Mr Bolt said there was no clear evidence to support the Home Office’s claim that increased security measures in northern France had led to the rise in small boat crossings.

He said the number of people who reached the UK in lorries in 2019 had increased by a third compared to 2018.

“Had more decisive action been taken earlier to demonstrate that these attempts would not succeed, the small boats route may not have become established in the minds of many migrants and facilitators as an effective method of illegal entry,” the report said.

The inspection took place between May and December 2019 and was published eight months after being submitted to the Home Office in March 2020.

Lucy Moreton, of the Immigration Services Union, questioned if the findings would still be “valid” due to the “massive increase [in small boat crossings this year] and the situation with coronavirus”.

“If the report is sat on for this length of time, is it truly open and transparent,” she asked.

A Home Office spokesman said the report’s publication was delayed by the complicated nature of its recommendations and the impacts of Covid-19.

The spokesman said it was “cracking down on the vile criminals smuggling vulnerable people into the UK and we continue to improve our response”.

Covid: Four UK nations discuss joint Christmas approach

Discussions have taken place about the four nations of the UK taking a joint approach to Covid rules over Christmas.

The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish first ministers held a virtual meeting with Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and other senior UK officials.

It was the first of what UK ministers hope will be weekly meetings.

UK government sources said topics including international travel, mass testing and the priority list for vaccinations were also discussed.

Nicola Sturgeon, Mark Drakeford and Arlene Foster took part in the meeting, as did Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart and Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis.

Mr Gove said they all recognised families across the UK “want to be able to see their loved ones this Christmas”.

He added: “Today my ministerial colleagues and I met with the devolved administrations to work towards that shared aim and to help ensure that our collective response delivers for the public in every part of the UK”.

It is understood government officials will now be considering how to put the desire for a “joint approach to Christmas” into action, with another meeting scheduled for next week.

Senior UK ministers have warned the situation remains highly volatile, with different levels of restrictions in different parts of the country and high rates of transmissions across the UK.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said recently that people may not be able to gather like normal in large groups while Ms Sturgeon’s most senior public health adviser, Jason Leitch, said last month that people should prepare themselves for a “digital Christmas”.

Earlier on Wednesday, a plan was announced to get students in England home safely for Christmas.

Students are to be allocated departure dates during a “student travel window” between 3 and 9 December, to minimise the risk of them spreading Covid-19.

In Wales, they are being asked to travel by 9 December at the latest.

The Scottish government wants as many as possible of the 80,000 or so students going home for Christmas to be offered voluntary tests before they travel.

Northern Ireland is expected to publish plans for students’ return in the coming days.

Chester hospital baby deaths: Nurse Lucy Letby charged with murder

A nurse has been charged with murdering eight babies and the attempted murder of another ten at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Lucy Letby was previously arrested in 2018 and 2019 as part of a probe into deaths at the neo-natal unit.

The charges relate to baby deaths and non-fatal collapses at the hospital from June 2015 to June 2016.

Ms Letby, originally from Hereford, is due to appear at Warrington Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

Croydon Council bans spending under Section 114 notice

Cash-strapped Labour-run Croydon Council has imposed emergency spending restrictions with “immediate effect”, the BBC has learned.

The Section 114 notice bans all new expenditure at Croydon Council, with the exception of statutory services for protecting vulnerable people.

A document seen by the BBC said “Croydon’s financial pressures are not all related to the pandemic”.

It is under a government review amid claims of “irresponsible spending”.

Section 114 notices are issued when a council cannot achieve a balanced budget.

In June, the BBC found many large councils in England feared going effectively bankrupt because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

To cope with coronavirus, councils revealed they were planning a mix of responses including using up cash reserves, reducing services and cancelling or postponing spending on big projects.

The Section 114 letter, which was sent by Croydon’s director of finance Lisa Taylor, said she was not confident the council “can make the level of savings required to deliver a balanced budget”.

“Despite the council having put in place spending controls over the summer 2020, non-essential cost have continued to be incurred,” she said.

“I am still not seeing an organisation that is taking the necessary radical decisions to stop all but essential expenditure.”

The document also says £17.7m of the £27.9m of the “new savings” presented to Croydon’s cabinet on 21 September and the full council meeting on 28 September were “incorrectly identified as new savings”.

As a result it forecasted that overspend “had not reduced by as much as previously reported”.

Croydon is the first council to declare a Section 114 order since Northamptonshire County Council in 2018.

Last month, Croydon’s cabinet member for finance Simon Hall resigned from his role, while former council leader Tony Newman announced his departure a few days later.

Both resignations came two weeks after the pair survived a vote of no confidence proposed by the Conservative opposition.

Councillor Hamida Ali, who took over as leader, accepted that the council “had made mistakes” in addition to the impact of coronavirus.

“While we continue to work hard to find savings, we must focus our spending on essential services and protecting our vulnerable residents,” she said.

“We’re not going to fix these problems overnight and there will be difficult decisions ahead but I want to reassure local people that the council will still be here to support you.”

Croydon’s chief executive Jo Negrini also announced in August that she would be stepping down.

The council’s Conservative opposition leader Cllr Jason Cummings said the report was “scathing” and he had fears local residents “would suffer most”.

He added: “Labour were warned repeatedly over the last few years but ploughed on anyway, they must take full responsibility for the damage they have caused.”

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said Croydon’s decision was “necessary” for it to manage its own finances.

A spokesman said: “We’re aware of serious concerns around the council’s governance and risk management and the recent Public Interest Report was damning about the governance within Croydon Council, which has been entirely irresponsible with their spending and investments.

“The council has decided to issue a section 114 notice and we will consider the findings of the review which concludes later this month.”

By BBC London’s political correspondent Tim Donovan

It’s not often a council needs to issue a Section 114 – but the pressures of coping with coronavirus have combined with at least questionable previous investment strategies to push Croydon over the edge.

It was heading for an overspend of £60m at the end of the year from dealing with the pandemic and government support didn’t look like covering it.

Croydon went into the coronavirus health crisis in a vulnerable state – with depleted reserves and £1.5bn debts.

It’s a financial position partially reached through buying up property including a hotel and a shopping centre.

In good times, it’s easy to see how that might have paid dividends but with weeks of lockdown, it left the council seriously exposed.

The latest development means new spending must be stopped immediately except for on statutory services like social care.

Now the council’s administration has 21 days to come up with a strategy which looks likely to mean more job losses to add to at least 400 already being cut.

Edmonton police station car crash: Man detained

A police station in north London has been evacuated after a car crashed into the building on Wednesday evening.

The crash happened shortly before 19:00 GMT in Edmonton and a man has been detained.

The Metropolitan Police said it had not been made aware of any injuries and the car was being examined. A “large cordon” remains in place.

Footage, posted on social media, shows a vehicle partially embedded into the entrance of the building.

Both the London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade remain at the scene on Fore Street.

Peter Allimadi, 30, from Edmonton, who works in Whitehall, described hearing “shouting, a loud crash and sirens from everywhere”.

He said: “I came out of the Lidl to see what the commotion was about, police screaming instructions to citizens to back away, some scared shoppers, commuters and parents running from the scene.”

Publish Priti Patel bullying claims report, says PMs standards adviser

A report into allegations Home Secretary Priti Patel bullied staff should be made public, the prime minister’s adviser on standards in public life has said.

Former MI5 chief Lord Evans warned that unresolved inquiries into ministers’ conduct undermined public trust.

A Cabinet Office investigation into allegations about Ms Patel’s behaviour was launched in March.

She has always strongly denied claims that she bullied staff.

In February Sir Philip Rutnam, the top civil servant in the Home Office, resigned saying he had been the target of a “vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign”. He is pursuing an employment tribunal claim.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life advises the prime minister on ethical standards across public life in England and is chaired by ex-MI5 boss Lord Evans of Weardale.

The Times first reported that Lord Evans wanted the Patel report to be made public.

He told the BBC he was not in a position to judge the accuracy of the complaints about the home secretary but said the public needed to know that allegations are “properly and independently investigated”.

“We want to make sure the system we have in place can resolve those issues so that people can have confidence the standards are being upheld in the right places and by everybody involved,” he told Radio 4’s The World at One.

Asked specifically about Ms Patel’s case he said there may be “good reasons” why some findings are not published but argued that any causes for delay should be explained.

“I think because they are left hanging in the air people are worried about it and that tends to reduce people’s trust.”

He also said that the process of investigating ministers should be more independent and transparent – and he suggested taking the responsibility for triggering such inquiries away from the prime minister.

In an interview with The Times, he said because the report on Ms Patel had not been published “it is very difficult to know whether there was something here or whether there wasn’t”.

Responding to Lord Evans’ comments, Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “It is a disgrace that the report into allegations of bullying against the home secretary is being suppressed.

“Continuing to refuse to release the report not only makes clear that the Tories have something to hide, it also undermines trust in politics at a crucial time – the report must be published without further delay.”

A government spokesperson said: “The process is ongoing and the prime minister will make any decision on the matter public once the process has concluded.”

Northerners prefer football to ballet, Jake Berry MP says

People in the south of England enjoy opera and ballet but football clubs are what matter to those living further north, a Conservative MP has said.

Former minister Jake Berry made the comparison as he warned “northern culture” is being hit by Covid-19.

He pressed the government to intervene to “save” football clubs.

But his comments were criticised by the Northern Ballet as it perpetuates “tropes that culture in the north is of less value than that in London”.

The former northern powerhouse minister compared Accrington Stanley to the Royal Ballet as he insisted action is required from Westminster to help protect clubs that are the “cornerstone” of communities.

Mr Berry, who made the comment as MPs debated support for the economy in the north of England, said: “First of all is the hit that northern culture has taken from this Covid crisis.

“For many people who live in London and the south of England, things like the opera house and ballet will be at the heart of their culture.

“But for many of us in the north it is our local football club – our Glyndebourne or Royal Ballet or Royal Opera House or Royal Shakespeare Company will be Blackburn Rovers, Accrington Stanley, Barrow, Carlisle or Sunderland.

He added the “time has come where the government must seek to intervene to unblock this to save local football clubs across the north of England, many of which are the cornerstone of our communities and at the heart of our culture”.

Treasury minister Kemi Badenoch did not address Mr Berry’s football plea in her reply to the debate, acknowledging the north of England has been a “hotbed” of energy, ideas and creativity for centuries.

Responding on Twitter, Northern Ballet said it was “disappointed” by the MP’s comments while other social media users criticised Mr Berry for his remarks.

1 2 3 8