Tenants in London complain about toilets, rats and bin problems

Marina Skalic

Renters in the capital complain two times more about rats to their landlord than the national average, claims a new study from TenantRepair.com.

Study results also show that bathroom and toilet problems are on the top of the list for more than four million Londoners, who are paying to private landlords.

Tower Hamlets is the borough with the most maintenance requests, 4,881 of them. That is 10.9 per cent of the overall requests.

Merton follows with 10.3 per cent, according to the study. Southwark comes next with 10.1 per cent, Wandsworth with 7 percent and Lambeth with 6.2 per cent are in the top 5 as well.

Rajeev Nayaar, maker of the study, said: “There are lots of problems, that can’t be denied.

The question is whether London is complaining more or there are just more Londoners in the renting sector”.

Tenants in Merton, according to the study, make the most requests about bathroom and toilet problems in London, with 12.1 per cent of total requests.

Kensington has London’s worst problems with bin stores. They make 33 per cent of total number.

-Part of this could be driven by the older houses that they may not have in the other cities. It is also interesting to think weather expectations of renters are slightly different because they pay more for rents in London- Nayaar adds.

Tenants in Southwark have the most issues with electricity, which make nine per cent of all requests. It also has the most furniture requests- 19.7 per cent of them.

Problems with rats, mice and pests are biggest in Redbridge, with 12.3 per cent.

Hillingdon, according to this data, is the borough that had the lowest number of requests- just seven, or 0.14 per cent of all requests.


Is an Internet-Taxi Ban in New Delhi the solution to Women’s safety?

Photo credit: Carolyn Coles / Foter / CC BY

Sohini Sinha, YoungLondonNews

Unregistered app-based taxi services have faced a ban in New Delhi, India.

This followed after a 27-year old female passenger alleged that a driver contracted to the international taxi-booking service Uber raped her on Saturday, 5th December.

The transport department of the Delhi government issued a notice that only licensed cab services will run across the city some of them being Easy Cab, Mega Cab, Meru Cab, Chanson Cab, Yo Cab and Air Cab.

Madhurima Ghosh, a PHd student in Sociology says,

“The way society perceives a woman itself is the root cause of the problem. Our society being patriarchal objectifies women and perceives them as a property. Banning Internet taxis is not the solution to such a huge problem. If people do not use cabs, they will use some other means of transportation. And women can be molested anywhere, why only taxis?”

This has led to the axe falling on Uber-type app-based taxi services such as OlaCabs and TaxiForSure that stand banned from operating in the national capital region.

This latest episode has once again served to highlight the issue of women’s safety in India. The ban imposed, however raises many questions.

Should Uber taxi really be banned? What is more important?

Women safety or Prohibit the running of unlicensed vehicles.

25-year old Dipanwita Das Gupta, a freelance journalist and currently working as a copywriter in Blackpencil India says,

Every time, it takes a situation like this to awaken the Government. And every single time, things go back to square one. Nirbhaya’s ghost continues to haunt us, even as it approaches its 2nd anniversary.”

It is a reflection of the failure of Delhi Government’s Transport Department and law enforcement agencies to work as a team even after the December 16, 2012, gang rape involving a 23-year old student who was gang-raped in a moving bus.

“As a writer working in an ad agency, I have no fixed timings. There have been many times when I have almost fallen asleep in the car after a night of stressful work. Is that an invitation to get raped?”

She feels services like Uber that take no accountability for safety of its passengers should be banned. However, only banning Uber is not the solution. Improved security, proper vigilance, driver verification as well as GPS services need to be made available in every car.

Violence against women is a rampant issue plaguing not just Delhi, but the whole country right now. Is it because every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks he can get away by doing whatever he wants? Maybe, lawmakers need to ask themselves the question?

24-year old Ishita Roy, a lawyer working for Monika Kalra and Associates says, 

“Such incidents cannot be curbed till stringent laws are put into place from arrest of the accused to medical examination of victims and a speedy trial. Ammendments need to be made in the Motor Vehicles Act to keep it updated with changing times.”

The incident has rightfully angered many people in India, but city officials have gone so far as to ban Uber outright. That won’t improve safety for the city’s taxi-takers.

This problem is not just prevalent in India. UK is suffering from this disease as well.

According to a report entitled,Ending Violence against Women and Girls in the UK,” published by the Home Office in March 2013, only around one in ten women who experience serious sexual assault report it to the police.

As a result, one can assume that the actual number of taxi rapes across Britain as a whole is far greater than many are willing to admit.

But has this ban been brought into effect?

In spite of government advisory, Uber cabs continue to run in most metro cities on Tuesday. In Mumbai and Kolkata, the service was available and the smartphone app active. In Bengaluru, cabs on the web-based app were unavailable though no clear ban was announced in the city.

Uber’s smartphone app also continued to remain active and cabs available for hire in Delhi, more than 24 hours after the US-based firm was banned in the Capital following the rape of the 27-year-old woman.

Can Manchester United challenge Chelsea and Manchester City for title?

Manchester United may just be a small cloud of dust in the rear-view mirror of league leaders Chelsea, who lie eight points ahead, but one that’s getting bigger and coming closer with every passing game.

More than a month ago, when the two sides met at Old Trafford, there was a gulf-and-a-half between them, with Chelsea threatening to steer eight points clear of nearest rivals Southampton and United in the bottom half.

It needed a poaching striker’s goal from Robin van Persie in stoppage time to grab a deserved point for United, after regimentally labouring for 90 minutes to contain Jose Mourinho’s men to their 1-0 lead.

That draw had ignited the engine that Louis van Gaal had begun to construct since his appointment in the summer.

It may have taken longer than his stipulated three months, but van Gaal’s United are well up and running after their 2-1 win over Southampton on Monday evening, making it their fifth consecutive win since their 1-0 defeat in the Manchester Derby last month.

The two back-to-back results against Chelsea and Manchester City paved the way for United, who have struggled to adapt to the new manager’s philosophy, along with coping with an unenviable injury list.

However, after making their way from 10th in the table a month ago to third as the league enters the busy Christmas period, you can’t help but begin to feel that Van Gaal knows what he is doing.


Ugly wins, but wins nonetheless

Of United’s five consecutive wins, except for their 3-0 thrashing of Hull City, none have been convincing. They’ve been scrappy, lucky, opportunistic, grabbing the daylight-robbery variety of wins seen before only in the Alex Ferguson era.

Suddenly, everything seems to be falling into place.

Mind you, United are still nowhere near the finished product. Four of their last five results could have easily gone the other way and if they had, this column would probably be laying into Van Gaal.

United were abysmal in their passing against Southampton, only saved by their opposition’s own sloppiness, as was the case against Arsenal two weeks ago.

The absence of the injured Angel Di Maria in the midfield for the last couple of games robbed them from creativity down the middle of the pitch. United still managed to move along only due to the experience and precision off the feet of Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney.

A serpentine injury list (Chris Smalling became the season’s 42nd casualty on Sunday) left aside, the players are still finding their feet with Van Gaal’s 3-5-2 system, after being ingrained with the club’s traditional 4-4-2.

There are still some areas the manager will want to strengthen, particularly the back line. The squad’s depth has been subject to an acid test, with various combinations tried and tested, more by force than choice.

But even with a fragile backbone, inconsistent performances, new philosophies and lesser attempts on goal in a match since such statistics began being accumulated, United have stuttered sputtered to third place in December, just five points behind neighbours City.

What’s working for the Red Devils is the gritty, never-say-die attitude that they seem to have rediscovered. They may not be the well-oiled machine yet, rather the old, clunky variety, but are nonetheless managing to cruise along.

Mission impossible?

With their current winning momentum, can United close the gap on City and Chelsea, and—dare anyone say it—actually have a shot at the title?

A quick glance at United’s next 10 league fixtures which will take them to the first week of February suggests that their real title credentials would be clear by then.

Between now and February 10, these are United’s league fixtures: Liverpool (home), Aston Villa (away), Newcastle (home), Spurs (away), Stoke (away), Southampton (home), QPR (away), Leicester (home), West Ham (away), Burnley (home).

Van Gaal would be hoping he has a few of his injured players back by then, with the possibility of having a few reinforcements in the January transfer window as well.

If United are still rubbing shoulders with City and Chelsea come February, never say never. It would be quite remarkable, considering a month ago the most optimistic person wouldn’t even have dreamt of it.

However, considering the nature of their last five wins, United’s biggest enemy right now would be complacency. It only takes a gentle blow to bring down a house of cards.

Photo courtesy: Paulo Camera (Creative Commons)

Cameron rewards creator of the Plastic Challenge with government award


Photo Credit: Marine Conservation Society

Emily Smith, 26, a marine environment conservationist who created the Plastic Challenge to raise awareness of the harmful impact of plastics on the oceans has won the Points of Light Award today.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Emily’s Plastic Challenge has inspired people up and down the country to cut back on the amount of plastic they use and has raised awareness of the positive impact they can have on the oceans. I’m delighted to name her the 168th UK Point of Light.”

The Points of Light award recognizes outstanding individuals who make a positive impact in their community and inspire others.

Emily Smith, a volunteer with Marine Conservation Society, started the Plastic Challenge last year. According to Marine Conservation society, being frustrated with the large amount of plastic litter that she encountered in the beach cleaning drives, she gave up single-use plastics and started the ‘Plastic Challenge’. Later her initiative received backing from MCS.


Photo Credit: flickr, Creative Commons

The 2013 Marine Conservation Society Beachwatch survey found over 48 single use plastic bags for every km of beach surveyed.

Richard Harrington, Communications Manager at 
Marine Conservation Society said: “The amount of plastic litter on our beaches and in the sea is increasing, and with it the threat to marine life.”

Harrington added: “During a single weekend in September 2013, we removed 223,405 pieces of litter on UK beaches – 2,309 items of litter found for every kilometre cleaned, and the highest in the history of our survey.”

Last year, Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced his government’s commitment to bring in a 5p bag charge on single use bags. This move was said to have been prompted by the ministers concern over the environmental impact of the bags, particularly waterborne animals.   However, this charge will come into effect only after the 2015 elections.

In the meantime, Surfers Against Sewage reports, an estimated 14.7 billion single use thin gauge plastic bags would have been given out in England.

Killer munch for breakfast, dinner or lunch

Danae Diz, YoungLondonNews

From  bacon flavoured cocktails to stroking cats whilst drinking tea, in London you can literally consume everything. To add to the rapidly changing consumer market, from tomorrow on, London will also have an all day cereal café.

Located in Shoreditch, identical twins and founders Alan and Gary Keery are opening the UKs first cereal café. Cereal Killer Café is for all those, who like them “fancied a bowl of cereal and realized it’s not something available in any café or restaurant”.

The will offer customers a choice of 100 cereals from around the world, 12 varieties of milk along with 10 different toppings all for the price of £2.35 per 30 gr. Toppings will cost you an extra 20p!

Baroness Jenkin of Kennington has recently in the launch of a report into food poverty that “Porridge costs 4p a bowl”. Porridge, another breakfast option not available in cafes and restaurants but widely available in supermarkets.

In the UK, an average box of cereal rages from £1.50 Tesco cornflakes to £4.75 for Waitrose Crunchy Maple & Nut Muesli.

Ailbhe Malone, a Buzzfeed Journalist who visited the café, tells me “I suppose the café is an easy way of trying it (new cereals) out, without committing to purchasing a whole box. “

Cereal Killer Café may offer different cereals from around the world, cereal cocktails and its funky décor featuring cereal paintings may be eye catching and exciting, but would people really be willing to pay £2.35 for just 30g when they can get 1kg for the same price or less?

Photo credits: Hayley Daen
Photo credits: Hayley Daen

Tesco stocks plummet

Photo Credit: Gordon Joly

Hayley Daen, Young London News

Tesco announced that its trading profit for the financial year ending in February of 2015 would not exceed £1.4 billion, falling short of the predicted £1.8 billion to £2.2. Subsequently, shares fell 10.25% to £168.10.

Chris Griffith, head of Investor Relations for Tesco, said on the phone, “We haven’t given any guidance on the 2015-2016 financial year and won’t until January 8th. We are trying to create a constructive, productive way of working with suppliers that will hopefully make our fluid income more stable.” It remains to be seen how the company restructuring and falling profit margins will affect investors in the coming year.

Tesco said that the drop in expected trading profit is due, in part, to restructuring. The company plans to enhance their customer offer, increasing product availability and expanding service with 6,000 new employees.

The fall in shares and profit predictions followed Tesco’s £263 million misstatement of profits earlier this year. Dave Lewis, CEO said that although the steps they are taking to create sustainable value “are impacting short-term profitability, they are essential to restoring the health of our business.”

Tesco is not alone in falling stock prices. Morrison Supermarkets is down 4.38% to £176.80, and Sainsbury is down 3.56% to £227.40. Despite the falls in share prices, both Morrison Supermarkets and Sainsbury are trading higher than Tesco.

Tesco remains under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office for its accounting irregularities.

Cameron to seek info on British jihadists during Turkey visit


image: David Cameron – credit: DFID

By Hussein Abdel Fattah

In his first visit to Turkey since 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron will discuss today with Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan co-operation against neighboring Islamic state.

Turkey, which is considered a key ally in the war against IS in Syria and northern Iraq, is a pathway for hundreds of British citizens who travelled to the Middle East to take part in the ongoing fighting.

Over 500 British citizens joined forces with IS and around half of them are thought to have returned to Britain.

Christopher Hope, Telegraph’s senior political correspondent said that one of the key points on Cameron’s trip will be to try to persuade Turkey’s commercial airlines to provide information about their passengers who are flying direct to the UK.

This is a fraction of a number of the 2.5 million British national visiting Turkey each year, mostly for tourism.

But aside from being a main touristic destination, Turkey shares hundreds of kilometres in borders with the troubled Syria and Turkey.

Another point to be discussed by Cameron with Turkish president and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will be a possible direct Turkish military involvement against the IS fighters.

The international alliance against IS, announced by the US president Barack Obama last September, will receive major support by the joining of NATO’s only Muslim state member.

The visit comes in the wake of a report published by aid agencies calling for the UK and other “rich” countries to accept more of the 3.6 Syrian refugees displaced since the civil war began in 2011.

Turkey alone hosts 1.6 million of the refugees, most of them suffering harsh living conditions.

A European commission headed by Federica Mogherini, currently also visiting Turkey pledged to add €10 to the EU’s €187.5 million aid to help Syrian refugees in Turkey .

Mogherini said in the statement “Europe stands firmly with Turkey and is determined to play its role to the full to bring a lasting political solution to this regional crisis and humanitarian strategy”.