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LondonNet News Headlines

LondonNet Archive:
London News Headlines from October 2004
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Twelve Year Old Arrested In Connection With Abduction
- The strange abduction of a five-year-old on Tuesday grows more bizarre with the arrest of a minor.

A TWELVE-year-old girl has been arrested in connection with the abduction of a five-year-old, who went missing in a London shopping centre on Tuesday.

The child was separated from her mother in Riverdale shopping centre, according to the BBC, where police believe she was approached by a someone claiming to help her find her mother. Instead, the two boarded the bus to the Waterfront swimming baths, then to a park in Charlton, where the girl fell in a pond.

She was then directed to change into clean clothes at a shop in Woolwich, where the abductor left her. The shop's staff called police after noticing the soaking child outside the store.

Police used evidence on CCTV cameras across London to track the pair's journey.

Chief Inspector Nathan Briant, the investigating officer in the case, said he did not know why the woman would have done this.

"She might need help herself," he said.

London's Top Cop Named
- Ian Blair to replace John Stevens as Met Police Commissioner

SURREY'S FORMER Chief Constable Ian Blair has been named as the next Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Blair (no relation to Prime Minister Tony), 51, was pipped to the same post by incumbent Commissioner Sir John Stevens back in 1999. He has acted as Stevens's deputy since 2000.

Thanks to his Oxford education and progressive attitude to the MacPherson report and other police reforms, the new Yard boss has garnered a reputation as the 'thinking man's cop'.

But while Blair has rallied against the 'barrack room' behaviour of some fellow cops, which he says foster racist and sexist attitudes, he himself ran into trouble in 2002 for saying that most muggers were black. That statistically ill-informed comment generated a terse response from the National Black Police Association who said his comments could deter black recruits.

One of Blair's major challenges will be marshalling the capital's 30,000 police officers to face the threat of international terrorism. The immediacy of which was summed up by outgoing Commissioner Stevens when he said it was more a matter of 'when not if' in terms of the prospect of a major attack.

London Gets The Bullet
- 140mph Hitachi trains promised for Stratford and Kent services

LONG SUFFERING commuters in Kent and East London are to get super-fast trains by 2009 the government said today.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling confirmed that Hitachi, the Japanese firm behind the Far East country's record breaking Bullet trains, has been named as preferred bidder for the UKP300 million project.

Thirty of the six-carriage 140mph trains will be used on the route from the new Eurotunnel terminus at St Pancras to Stratford in East London and on to Gravesend, the Medway towns, Sittingbourne, Folkestone, Canterbury and Ramsgate. Journey time to Ashford in East Kent could be reduced by forty minutes.

The move is being lauded as further evidence of London's forward planning for hosting the Olympic Games in 2012. The games would be centred around Stratford from where the Hitachi trains could reach St Pancras in less than eight minutes.

The announcement comes just a month after Virgin introduced 125mph Pendolino tilting trains to its routes from London to the North West slashing journey times to Manchester and beyond.

The Battle for Groceries
- In another quest for business, Tesco boasts its post-grocery curb-to-curb service

FORGET lugging your roast on the bus. Yesterday marked the start of latest scheme in the war of supermarkets: free taxi rides.

Tesco mega-chain will provide shoppers with free rides home in Zones 1 and 2, Monday through Friday, between 11am and 7pm, and can be hailed or booked from the store. Shoppers just have to furnish that day's Tesco reciept.

The twenty branded taxis of the Tesco Taxi Service are on the road in collaboration with Radio Taxis, one of London's biggest cab firms.

"The Tesco Taxi Service is a first from a UK retailer and is another way of making life easier for our London customers," said a Tesco spokesperson.

The programme is on a four-week trial period, with other supermarket chains likely to spawn off other antics.

Platform 9 3/4 Best London Movie Moment
- Harry Potter's train stop and a speedboat chase on the Thames outweigh the smorgasbord of London's film repertoire

IN A POLL to mark the start of the 48th London Film Festival, London's top movie moment is not a royal one, but a speedboat chase in The World is Not Enough.

The chase scene, with Pierce Brosnan zooming down the Thames in a Bond-style speedboat, was voted top by one in five voters, from a poll taken by the London Underground.

Runners up in the poll include Bridget Jones' snog in the snow, with scantily clad Renee Zellweger fumbling after Colin Firth in the middle of a snowstorm, and Mary Poppins feeding the birds.

The idea for the poll came about because of the frequent movie-related questions asked of Underground staff by passengers.

A poll of fictional London places, however, took the biggest margin in votes. One in three polled overwhelmingly nominated Platform 9 3/4 -- the
fictional train platform in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series -- with the fake Notting Hill bookshop owned by Hugh Grant cornering 9.5% of the votes.

"London Film Festival is one of the highlights of the year for movie lovers in the capital, " said London Underground spokesperson Elizabeth Norris. "We hope that the results from our poll will encourage people to make the most of their city and explore all the world famous movie icons the capital has on offer."

Time Flies Out the Door
- Exclusive shop is cleaned out by watch thieves

JEWELLERY worth UKP3 million has been snatched from one of London's most exclusive stores - on the night the store launched a new range of pricey watches.

"It was a very professional job," said Neil Duckworth, owner of The Watch Gallery in Chelsea. "We had just had an event where we invited guests to view our new collection of Lange and Sohne watches. After we closed the shop someone revisited us."

The burglars provided precious few clues for police, though a tiny camera was found in the shop which might suggest the thieves were scanning the premises to check the coast was clear before pulling off the heist.

"I don't know whether they had hidden inside when we locked up, or whether they had some other means of access," said Duckworth. "They knew how to get into the safe, and cleaned us out; we have almost nothing left now."

German made Lange and Sohne watches are considered among the most desirable on the planet and are available at only one other shop in the UK. They range in price from UKP6,000 to UKP100,000.

London Goes Shopping for Shops
- More shops needed to feed a growing city, says the GLA

NEW shopping centres could be on the way for central and south London after a report for the Greater London Authority came the conclusion that London is soon to be short on shops.

"We can't keep on increasing the West End forever," said Dr Neil Blake of Experian, the consultants who complied the GLA's report. "But there are under-developed high streets and neighbourhood centres which could be developed."

The basis of the shortage of retail space is that London's population is predicted to rise by at least a million over the next decade. That, plus increased spending power from those already here, is likely to mean more shopping trips and therefore the need for more shops.

The report is now likely to be used as evidence for GLA planning decisions, which can be expected to be favourable to retail developments.

London Film Festival Kicks Off
- Mike Leigh's latest is first up in movie parade

IT'S day one of the 48th London Film Festival. One of the festival's big films, Mike Leigh's Vera Drake, kicks off the cinematic celebration this evening in a full-on premiere at the Odeon on Leicester Square.

Vera Drake is the beautifully observed story of an abortionist to the rich
in 1950s London and has already received rave reviews.

Also today, the festival branches out for the first time in its history to Trafalgar Square where free short films will be on view on a giant, inflatable screen. The shorts run from 6pm until 9pm this evening and then for two days after at the same times.

More on the London Film festival, including LondonNet's other festival
picks, can be found at:
LondonNet's Guide to the 2004 LFF

Europe Admits: London is Number One
- EU stats put us top of pan-continental league table

LONDON is the top dog of european capitals, according to statistics produced by the EU.

Eurostat researched figures from 2001, a census year for many European countries, to find London is well ahead of others across a range of measures.

Size isn't everything, but there's no denying it says something about a city's status and London's population, at 7.2 million, dwarfs its rivals. Berlin has 3.4 million, Madrid 3 million and Paris 2.1 million.

London is also the richest, has the most theatres, the highest proportion of green space and the lowest mortality rate through heart disease.

Even on crime, long considered by Londoners themselves as an Achilles heal, London was far from the worst, recording less than half the number of offences as Berlin and Paris.

Olympic Parade for an Olympic City
- Star athletes and fans to boost London's bid

UPWARDS of a hundred thousand people are expected to line the streets of central London today to cheer on Britain's Olympic heroes.

The parade is to feature nearly a hundred Olympic and Paralympic athletes, including double track gold medal star Kelly Holmes, the victorious men's 4x100 relay team and cycling time trialist winner Chris Hoy.

The parade starts at 1.30pm from Piccadilly, moving through Haymarket and Pall Mall before arriving at Trafalgar Square at around 3.30pm. As well as a celebration of 2004 Olympic achievements, the parade is a chance to beef up London's bid for the 2012 games.

"This provides both the British public and British sport a unique opportunity to celebrate all that is great about Olympic and Paralympic sport," said Simon Clegg, CEO of the British Olympic Association.

"Importantly, it comes at a crucial time in the bidding process for the 2012 Olympic Games."

Forum for Debate Draws Thousands to London
- Anti-war march to top off meeting-filled weekend

A BIG anti-war march is planned as the parting shot of this weekend's European Social Forum, held in London for the first time.

Organisers expect tens of thousands of activists from across Europe to converge on London to discuss a wide variety of political topics, grouped loosely under the triple heading of war, racism and corporate power. The Forum will include meetings, music and films at venues across London.

London mayor Ken Livingstone has come under fire for providing public money for the event, but sees it as an important boost to the city's standing.

"As a major international city, London has a direct interest in all these issues," said Livingstone.

"I hope that the thousands of visitors to our city will return home after the weekend with a warm place in their hearts for London."

Click here for more information

Big Freeze On the Way
- Weather experts predict long, cold, winter

GET out of the country between the 22nd and 27th of November. That's the advice implied in a stark weather warning from leading weather analysts

The end of November is just the worst in a series of cold snaps predicted by Metcheck, who forecast correctly the recent summer of rain.

"We are confident that we will see a higher than average frequency of northerly weather types," said Metcheck's Andrew Bond. "That will bring not
just colder weather but a more frequent snowfall than we have experienced in recent years."

The first of the cold snaps is forecast to arrive soon. "The cold snap next week is nature giving us a taste of what is to come in the next few months," said Bond, who expects London to be affected by severely cold winds.


Harry Faces Cheat Accusations
- Ex-teacher brings case to court today

PRINCE HARRY could lose his place at Sandhurst if allegations he cheated in his A-levels are proven correct.

The army officer training college requires its students to have passed at least two A-levels and the prince has exactly that, including the art A-level that is currently the source of dispute.

Harry denies that he received disallowed help from teacher Sarah Forsyth for the art exam, while she says she was asked to beef up Harry's course work with the use of correct technical terminology.

More on the dispute could be revealed today as Forsyth is bringing a case of unfair dismissal against Eton College, the school Harry attended.

Shocking Welcome at Buckingham Palace
- Electric fence installed to block Batman return

ELECTRIC shocks will greet intruders to Buckingham Palace thanks to a new security fence that has been erected around the walls of the famous Royal residence.

The fence comes in the wake of last month's Fathers4Justice publicity stunt when a man dressed as Batman scaled the palace's walls and remained in a highly visible position on the front of the palace for five hours.

The Queen was reported to have been "irritated" by the stunt, but has been warned that she and her family would do well not to rely totally on measures such as the fence for their protection.

"There needs to be a radical change in the way the royal family think about security," said a police spokesperson.

The new fence does not deliver lethal levels of electricity, but does emit enough sparks temporarily to disable intruders, time enough for police to effect an arrest. Stray cats had also better beware.

Ramsay Wins Good Food Award
- But London not be-all-and-end-all, say judges

GORDON RAMSAY'S restaurant in Chelsea came top in the Good Food Guide annual awards, announced today, but London was warned it now has serious competition from the rest of the country.

"Anybody who thinks London is the be-all-and-end-all needs to expand their horizons," said Andrew Turvil, Good Food Guide editor.

"The capital is not about to lose its position at the culinary vanguard, but it is great to see such good things happening all over the country,
sometimes in unexpected locations."

Restaurants from Lincolnshire, Gloucestershire and Devon were all in the upper reaches of the Good Food Guide's best-of-Britain 2004 list.
Nevertheless, apart from Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London was well represented in the awards, with The Capital, Pied-a-Terre and Tom Aikens all appearing in the top ten.

Others to impress the judges included The Fat Duck and The Waterside Inn, both in Bray, Berkshire, just a short trip from London.

Stars Back University Appeal
- UCL aims for UKP300 million to fund research

COLDPLAY and comedian Ricky Gervais have backed a huge fund-raising campaign by University College London (UCL).

Comedian Gervais and the soft-rock band have past links with the University, which leads the world in a number of fields and which was named Britain's best - ahead of Oxford and Cambridge - in a recent Sunday Times survey.

UCL hope to raise UKP300 million, a figure it says is the biggest ever in British university history. Among the projects it plans to fund are an ear
research institute, a spinal repair unit and a museum featuring works by artists such as Constable, Rembrandt and Turner.

"This campaign will enable UCL, a real British success story, to enjoy the kind of resources to enable us to compete with the world's very best academic institutions," said UCL provost Professor Malcolm Grant.

Penis Show Needs New Members
- London auditions for genital gymnasts

COCKS, dicks, pricks and willies are all invited to an audition tomorrow, the 6th of October, for a role in a famous touring party.

Puppetry of the Penis has played to startled audiences around the world and now needs new members for its next international tour.

Requirements for the job include an uncanny ability to bend and stretch pieces of the male anatomy not usually associated with such gymnastics.

"We want a flexible working attitude," said a spokesperson for the show.

"Puppetry of the Penis is an equal opportunity employer and will audition both circumcised and uncircumcised genital origami hopefuls."

Auditions will be held at the Apollo theatre. Contact [email protected] or click here for more details.

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London Drivers are the Worst
- Survey blames driver-stress for poor road record

STRESSFUL and lengthy journeys make London drivers the worst in the country, according to a new survey from car insurance company Privilege.

"Factors such as the time drivers take in completing a journey, where they live and the volume of motorists on the road, all have a direct affect on how safely they drive," said Ian Parker, director of Privilege.

Such stress-inducing conditions encourage bad road behaviour, including undertaking and breaking red lights, two areas in which London leads the rest of Britain.

London's men are even worse than London's women, according the the survey of 1,500 motorists, while women in Scotland are the best mannered of all. No link at all, but Privilege Insurance was launched by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Knightley is Sexiest Movie Star of All Time
- London teenager beats screen legends in poll

LONDONER Keira Knightley is the sexiest actor in the movie history, according to readers of top film magazine Empire.

Nineteen year-old Knightley forced Angelina Jolie into second spot with Orlando Bloom into third as the top male. Legendary stars such as Marilyn Monroe, who polled 6th, and Brigitte Bardot, 20th, were left trailing the modern crop of cinema beauties.

Bend it Like Beckham, in which she played a young footballer, earned Knightley a huge amount of attention, but, aged only 14, she had actually played a key part in Star Wars: the Phantom Menace a few years earlier as Sabe, the double of the Queen.

Since then, Knightley, who grew up in Teddington, has starred in Pirates of the Caribbean and King Arthur. Among her next projects are Pride and Prejudice and possibly a sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean.

LondonNet News Archive:
Oct 2004
Sep 2004
Aug 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004

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