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Explained: How a secret recording damaged Havering Council - and what it now means for residents

On Thursday afternoon, in a meeting over Zoom, Havering Council tried to end months of bad headlines and in-fighting. A panel had been assembled to determine whether the council’s leader, Damian White, should face an investigation over an alleged attempt to manipulate the borough’s electoral boundaries for political gain. The Romford Recorder was banned from addressing the meeting. Opposition memb

Reports of Suffolk coronavirus ‘spike’ sparked by just three cases – here is what is actually happening

National newspaper reports that Suffolk is one area which could face a local lockdown because of a rise in the number of coronavirus cases is based on just one extra test result. The county had, in fact, one of the lowest rates of coronavirus cases in the country last week. Suffolk was named in national newspapers as one of 36 local authorities that have recorded an increase in Covid-19 cas

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

Revealed: The most deprived areas in Norfolk and Waveney ranked by postcode

Nearly 50 neighbourhoods in Norfolk and Waveney are among the 10pc most deprived in the country, figures have revealed. The area around London Road South, in Lowestoft, was ranked at number 25 of 32,844 neighbourhoods in England which suffers from high levels of deprivation, according to statistics by the Ministry of Housing and Communities and Local Government. The 10 most deprived areas in the county are all in Grea

The Norwich neighbourhoods where the richest and the poorest live side-by-side

Some of the poorest and richest areas of Norwich are divided by just one street, according to the latest official figures on deprivation. A map of deprivation, from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, shows the stark divide between the haves and have-nots in the city. The three areas where the divide is most stark is the Golden Triangle, Harvey Lane and the Bluebell Road area. Located in one

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

‘We’re living on £10 a day’: What deprivation means to Norwich families

‘We’re living on £10 a day’: What deprivation means to Norwich families Many of the gardens along Clarkson Road are well maintained, cars line the kerbs and parents chat happily on street corners. But this area of Earlham is, according to the latest government figures, the most deprived place in Norwich and among the most deprived areas in the country. And behind some of the front doors are stories of hardship, many of them hidden. Grandfather Daniel Mark*, 54, says struggling to make ends m

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
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