Couple find ‘traces of cannabis’ in McDonald’s burger


Some would say the addition of a hash brown to KFC’s Zinger Tower Burger was a controversial move, but it’s nothing compared to the variation reportedly found in one McDonald’s burger recently – when one couple discovered that their meal contained traces of marijuana. Pregnant 23-year-old Britanny Songer and her 31-year-old fiancée Cory Long noticed the surprise green ingredient as soon as they tasted their McDouble meal at a branch in Iowa. Read more on The Independent…


Four in five get first-choice secondary school

West London Free School

Hundreds of thousands of parents in England face an anxious wait on Monday to hear whether their children have been accepted into the state secondary school of their choice, with families in London, Brighton and Bristol among those facing the greatest competition. Around 500,000 pupils will hear – in most cases by email or online – the result of their application for a year seven place on what has become known as national offer day. While secondary school places are still relatively well supplied compared with primary schools that are groaning under the weight of the recent baby boom, the growth of online search tools and greater access to detailed information on exam performance means some schools are receiving more applications than ever before, as parents cluster towards the best performers. Read more on The Guardian…


Heiress jailed over £10m gem fraud


Celebrity friends of the stylist who invented glam rock fashion have rallied round her troubled daughter after she was jailed in Barbados over a fake £10.5 million jewellery robbery. Tululla Salvatori, 27, and her lover, Edward Denney, claimed that they were the victims of a raid by an armed gang on their luxury home. The couple arrived on the island in August last year and cultivated friendships with the celebrities who visit the island over Christmas and New Year. Salvatori’s Facebook page shows that she is friends with Nate James, the singer, Jade Holland Cooper, the fashion designer, Anna-Maria Dore. Read more on The Times…


Payday loan ads banned by Tower Hamlets Council


Payday loan companies are officially banned from advertising on all council-owned property in Tower Hamlets, or setting up business in local authority property, following a vote taken on Wednesday evening. Council members voted in favour of a petition presented by Citizen UK to ban payday loan advertising on billboards, bus shelters, public computers and council publications across the borough. The petition gained over 500 votes in the three weeks before it was presented to the council chamber by Nick Coke, the leader of Stepney Salvation Army and David Barclay of Bethnal Green’s financial advice service, Just Money. Read more on EastLondonLines…


Plans to curb bookmakers and fixed-odds betting terminals


Labour leader David Miliband has initiated a debate in parliament on Labour’s proposal to restrict the growth of bookmakers and fixed-odds betting terminals. If Labour regain power, they have promised to change planning laws across Britain, allowing councils to prohibit or reduce the amount of bookmakers and fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT). In addition to this, Miliband has pledged to reduce the maximum stake on FOBT’s from £100 per play to £2 per play, arguing that terminals are “spreading like an epidemic … causing debt and misery”. David Cameron has welcomed  the opposition day debate but would wait for the results of a current report before deciding on whether to take action on the betting industry in the Spring. Read more on EastLondonLines…

Majority of rape offences do not result in arrest


Two thirds of rape offences in Hackney are not followed by prosecution, a recent freedom of information request has revealed. Police figures from Hackney show that between 2010 and 2012, 189 arrests for rape were made but only 130 of them resulted in no further action being taken. Of the 59 cases that were followed up, six resulted in a police caution for the perpetrators of the crimes with no one being sentenced. In the same time period, 253 people were arrested for sexual offences. 121 cases resulted in no further action and 12 offenders received a police caution. Read more on EastLondonLines…

Lewisham exposed as one of the worst paid boroughs in London


Lewisham has been exposed as one of the worst boroughs in London for low pay. Lewisham and Bexley are two of the worst paid boroughs in the capital, according to a recent report from independent think tank, Centre for London. In the capital, an average of 2.9 per cent of workers are paid the minimum wage or below, whereas in Lewisham, 5.2 per cent of workers earn the minimum wage and under. Surprisingly, Lewisham was the first London borough to decide to pay their council employees and sub-contracted employees the London Living Wage from March 2012 onwards. However the Living Wage is a voluntary initiative for councils and employers and companies in Lewisham have no legal obligation to implement it. Read more on EastLondonLines…


Decision to ban Queen’s Gardens soup kitchen reversed


A controversial decision to ban a homeless soup kitchen in Croydon has been reversed by the borough council. Last week, a leaked council report revealed that Croydon Council planned on “utilising all available bylaws” to suspend a soup kitchen in Queen’s Gardens, due to concerns about potential antisocial behaviour. The leaked report, ‘Town Centre – Food Provision’, was written by Tony Brooks, the Director of Public Safety at Croydon Council and discussed at a private leadership meeting which included Council leader, Mike Fisher, the commander of Metropolitan Police, David Musker, and other senior council officers. Read more on EastLondonLines…


Police leaves wrong crime figures for London online for six months


Incorrect crime statistics for all of London, including the four EastLondonLines boroughs, were displayed on the Metropolitan Police website for six months without anyone noticing, ELL can reveal. The mistake only came to light after the Met police were alerted when Lutfur Rahman, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets and Councillor Sirajul Islam, leader of Tower Hamlets Labour group criticised the error as “a staggering mess.” The Met have apologised for the error, which was only spotted at the end of last month after Tower Hamlets Labour group highlighted what it believed to be a nine per cent rise in local crime figures. The force said the incorrect figures for all London boroughs were corrected within 24 hours of the police being notified of the mistake. Read more on EastLondonLines…


Fears ‘Teardrop’ Tower Will Cause Tears in Dalston


Developers’ preliminary plans for a 19-storey private complex next to Dalston Kingsland station have sparked uproar, with campaigning forum OPEN Dalston arguing that the construction will cast “gloomy shadows” across substantial parts of the area. The building, dubbed Teardrop Tower, will stand at the forefront of Ridley Road Market and will dominate the view of the street. A daylight and sunlight consultant report said the tower would have ‘’no significant impact’’ in terms of sunlight, but OPEN Dalston says it will look out of place, adding: “Like a lighthouse in reverse, the tower will take light from public space, local homes and roof gardens, businesses, locally listed buildings and from Ridley Road Market.” OPEN Dalston also argues that the development caters for an incoming class of single young professions rather than local families. Read more on Hackney Citizen…


Hackney activists fighting badger killing inside cull zone


Badger cull ‘sabs’ from Hackney have travelled to the heart of the countryside where government marksmen are engaged in shooting the animals. Some cull saboteurs have been living at ‘Camp Badger’, an encampment in rural Somerset, for weeks and plan to stay until the start of next month. They fear the cull in Somerset – one of two pilots being carried out over a period of six weeks – will kill 70 per cent of badgers in the area. Lisa Brown, 32, from Clapton, said: “The shooters aim to kill 80 badgers a night for it to be successful. This cull can best be described as a badger genocide.” Read more on Hackney Citizen…


Superhead resigns amidst school contracts controversy


One of the nation’s best-known ‘super-heads,’ who oversaw five Hackney primary schools, has resigned midway through an investigation into his alleged awarding of IT contracts to his boyfriend’s company. Greg Wallace was suspended on full pay in July, after allegations that he had hired his boyfriend Tony Zangoura, a director of C2 Technology, to supply computers to the five primary schools Wallace headed in 2009. Wallace’s resignation has come as a shock to Hackney staff and parents because the council’s investigation was not due to finish until the end of the year. Read more on EastLondonLines…

Marshroots art attack is latest weapon in Lea Valley campaign

lea v

Artworks celebrating the flora and fauna of Leyton Marsh are being exhibited at a Hackney cafe as part of the latest stage in a campaign fighting ‘over-development’ of one of East London’s most cherished wild spaces. The timing of this exhibition of paintings is apt, coming around a year on from the removal of a temporary Olympic basketball training facility that was controversially built on Leyton Marsh amid protests from activists. This area of parkland, a designated nature reserve, is part of a wider green lung known as the Lea Marshes that includes Hackney and Walthamstow Marshes. Read more on Hackney Citizen…


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