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Fraud complaints over high-end furniture seller that shut down overnight

Fraud complaints over high-end furniture seller that shut down overnight Enraged customers claim to have been left high and dry by a Brent Cross-based furniture seller that took thousands of pounds in orders before abruptly closing down. The firm had branches across north London. It was first called Dogtas Exclusive, then changed its name to Hom Concept. Families across the capital say they placed orders for luxury goods in 2019 that were never delivered. Numerous complaints about the busine

Revealed: Shut luxury hotel's long history of financial problems

A company behind a luxury hotel, which shut last week leaving wedding plans in disarray, went bust more than two years ago owing thousands of pounds. Last week Lenwade House Hotel on Fakenham Road said it was closing because it could not pay off all its debts. However, we can reveal the hotel has a long history of financial problems. A company registered at the hotel, called Lenwade House Hotel Limited, owned by Jane Scrivens, was put into liquidation in May 2017 after failing to pay Broadlan

Abuse headteacher left estate to ex-council leader and priest to clear his name after death

A paedophile headmaster gave half his estate to an ex-leader of Islington Council in the hope it could be used to clear his name, the Gazette can reveal. Derek Slade died in March 2016 while serving a 21-year sentence at Norwich Prison for the physical and sexual abuse of boys. Slade admitted to more than 50 charges including sexual assault, beatings and child pornography at private schools in Norfolk

Giant rats, asbestos and flooding: So why was this house in Harold Hill signed off as fit for purpose?

Giant rats, asbestos and flooding: So why was this house in Harold Hill signed off as fit for purpose? A family is planning to take legal action against Havering Council after three years of misery in a home contractors said was up to scratch. Retired bailiff Paul Lewis, 52, daughter Sophie and her three-year-old son moved into the house in Hilldene Avenue in September 2016. An inspection in the summer had given the council property a clean bill of health after basic renovations costing £6,70

'A mockery': Emails reveal how planning authority helped MSG Sphere developer

Senior figures at the planning authority in charge of the Olympic Park helped a would-be developer with PR campaigns, a cache of emails reveal. London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), the independent planning authority for the Olympic Park, is due to make a decision next year on the proposed multi-million MSG Sphere development in Stratford. If approved the application would see a LED-covered entertainment venue built in Stratford, including a 21,500-capacity auditorium. But campaigners

Scandal-hit council service back in the spotlight as former investigator reveals extent of alleged corruption

Scandal-hit council service back in the spotlight as former investigator reveals extent of alleged corruption An ex-forensic investigator for Tower Hamlets Council has delivered a blistering account of how his work in the borough's youth service was, he said, subject to a "cover up to avoid political embarrassment". Mark Edmunds, 54, worked for the local authority from 2010 onwards and from 2014 was tasked with reviewing reports of corruption in the division. He is now bringing two claims aga

Residents kick out entire board on 'fiefdom' housing estate

A housing estate in Wapping is in limbo after its entire board of directors was unseated at a fiery emergency meeting. South Quay Plaza Estates (Freehold) Limited took over the South Quay estate at St Katherine Docks from Tower Hamlets Council in 2007. Most of the 299 properties are owned by private leaseholders, whom hold shares in the company and pay around £4,000 a year in service charges. At an emergency general meeting on Wednesday, May 22, they voted for the eight-strong board of direct

'Poke your head above the parapet, you will be shot': Bullying probe in council waste division as two dustmen kept off work for seven months

'Poke your head above the parapet, you will be shot': Bullying probe in council waste division as two dustmen kept off work for seven months Refuse workers at Newham Council have demanded the results of internal inquiries into bullying as management faces the prospect of a strike over back-pay. At least 49 people recently signed a petition asking to see the outcome of recent talks with senior officers after a series of whistleblower complaints in 2018. Two drivers - a father and son, one of w

Three deaths at Hackney homeless hostel in two months

Three deaths at Hackney homeless hostel in two months Three people have died at homeless hostel the Shuttleworth Hotel in the space of eight weeks this year, the Gazette has learned. The bodies of the three residents were taken away from the building for the homeless in Well Street on Monday, February 18, on Monday, March 4, and on Monday, April 18. Their next of kin have been informed and while the causes of their deaths are not yet known, none are thought to be suspicious. The tragic incid

RMS: Scandal in repairs division deepens as shock figures reveal “abuse” of bonus scheme

RMS: Scandal in repairs division deepens as shock figures reveal “abuse” of bonus scheme An overhaul of the payroll system at Newham Council’s troubled repairs service is under way as it emerges that millions of taxpayers’ pounds have been handed out in staff bonuses. Last December the Recorder revealed the catalogue of allegations behind an £8.7million overspend in the highways division of council’s repairs and maintenance service (RMS) in 2017/18. It has now emerged that the payroll scheme

Muslim Entrepreneur Network investors speak out as co-founders clash over alleged fraud

Muslim Entrepreneur Network investors speak out as co-founders clash over alleged fraud Members of the Muslim community have spoken of their fraught experience with the global “investment” scheme called Leverage, which scores of households in North and East London paid into. On Monday we reported ongoing fallout over the scheme run by the Muslim Entrepreneur Network, which has prompted at least 18 complaints to Action Fraud. Members left the scheme in droves over 2018 after being promised a p

Brown packages, Travis cards, and a ‘fraternity’: What was going on in this council division?

Ex-workers have spoken of a “1970s” working culture at Newham Council’s troubled repairs and maintenance service (RMS) as questions remain over why fraud allegations were not passed on to police. This week the Recorder highlighted a massive overspend in the repairs department last year, where irregular procurement, extraordinary overtime and bonus claims and fuel cards handed to external firms contributed to a so-far recorded deficit of £8.7m. Former staff have now come forward, raising even m

Managers sacked and contracts closed as council probes millions in overspent cash

Senior managers have been suspended and sacked for gross misconduct amid a catalogue of claims about financial malpractice. Senior managers have been suspended and sacked for gross misconduct amid a catalogue of claims about financial malpractice. Newham Council’s repairs and maintenance service (RMS), which is responsible for council homes and gas and highway works in the borough, had a “complete lack of control of financial management” that resulted in “alleged malpractice of financial opera

'I've told my family don't be surprised if I go out and don't come back': Reality of bitter postcode rivalry in Newham

Young men from warring postcodes in Newham have spoken out about the cycle of youth violence that has seen their friends wield knives or acid - and take each others lives. The teenagers crossed divides to meet up at a pioneering youth event organised by former gang member Raheel Butt on Thursday. They spoke of their own experience of violence and the real prospect of come-backs if they visit the wrong areas of Newham due to feuding gangs. One 17-year-old from Beckton, who the Recorder has agr

Big rise in use of ‘last resort’ powers to shut down Suffolk drug dens

Police are shutting down more and more drug dens but is it making a difference to the communities blighted by crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour? “It’s been like chalk and cheese,” said Liam Roberts, of Southgate and Roberts Funeral Home in Ipswich’s St Matthews Street. The area had become rife with crime until late last year when police used closure orders to shut down two drug dens and drive the dealers out. The orders have now expired but Mr Roberts said the improvements they brough

Revealed: How council flat helped save Hackney graduate from ‘hell of homeless hostels’

A former luxury fashion worker whose life spiralled into chaos when she became homeless has spoken of the healing influence of living in a council flat. Photography graduate Sarah-Louise Simon was at rock bottom when she was given the keys to her new home on the King’s Crescent Estate four months ago. The 30-year-old had been living in the “craziness” of homeless hostels in Hackney, which she describes as “like surviving time on a mental health ward”. She has bravely gone public with her stor

Revealed: ‘Shameful’ conditions inside Hackney homeless hostel owned by firm of top architect - where rooms cost £274 a week

An award-winning architect is profiting from taxpayers’ money operating homeless hostels where human faeces has been found smeared on walls and conditions are described as “shameful”, the Gazette can reveal. Housing firm Smart Hotels Ltd has come under fire for providing hostel rooms in two dilapidated buildings in Finsbury Park and Green Lanes to house destitute people placed by Hackney Council. The company was paid £519,000 last year. Images of Brownswood Hostel in Finsbury Park show rundow

“I used to go down the bins for food” - 84 year old sleeping rough helped by soup kitchens

“I feed the pigeons now because I know what it’s like to be hungry.” 84-year-old Roy Brown was sleeping rough in Norwich for three years, and would have relied on rifling through bins or the generosity of strangers to sustain him if it wasn’t for soup kitchens provided on Hay Hill. Twice a week volunteers at the People’s Picnic cook enough food for up to 20 people each, and hand it out to dozens of people in need from 8pm. Donations from the public allow hot meals to be handed out, along with

Suicide bids and breakdowns: How life in Hackney hostels is making mental health of homeless worse

Vulnerable people with mental health problems are among the hundreds living in hostel rooms in Hackney – and their grim surroundings only make it worse. Emma Youle reports on a startling lack of support for those in crisis Two years ago, as he battled depression in a dreary Hackney hostel room, Andrew decided he no longer wanted to live. The freelance producer had a blossoming career in live and visual arts and had even been involved with a seminal performance work about human rights at the UN

Owners of squalid Dalston hostel rake in taxpayers’ cash to house homeless in shocking conditions

Landlords are being given hundreds of thousands of pounds in taxpayers’ cash to house Hackney’s homeless in shocking conditions. Some 2,900 families and single people are now without a home in the borough and are forced to live in temporary accommodation including hostels – 400 more than this time last year. As the housing shortage in Hackney continues to deepen, some private hostel landlords are charging steep rents and raking in the profits. The council paid £41million in 2016-17 to house p
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