Lorry’s ‘cyclist sensor’ prevents 15 potentially fatal collisions in six-month trial



Cllr Bassam Mahfouz cycling next to lorry fitted with sensors

Cllr Bassam Mahfouz cycling next to lorry fitted with sensors

A safety sensor fitted to a London council lorry to alert the driver to cyclists and pedestrians has prevented 15 potentially fatal collisions in six months.

Ealing council today announced the results of the first London borough trial of the Cycle Safety Shield device, which a contractor has been using on a 26-tonne vehicle.

It is able to detect only pedestrians, cyclists and motorbikes – meaning the lorry driver does not receive repeated false alerts triggered by railings, signposts and other vehicles.

During the trial, which ran from January to June, the system detected more than 40,000 cyclists, pedestrians and motorbikes but an alarm only alerted the driver on 15 occasions, when they were close enough to be in danger.

The majority of alerts happened when a cyclist was detected on the left-side of the lorry as it turned left or drove straight ahead. The alarm enabled the driver to brake and avoid a collision. The presence of the system also meant the lorry used £500 less fuel due to smoother braking and accelerating.

As a result, the City of London Corporation is to trial the system on its refuse lorries. Transport for London is already testing it on a route 25 and a route 73 bus.

Ealing decided to pilot the scheme after six London cyclists were killed in a fortnight last November.

Bassam Mahfouz, Ealing’s cabinet member for transport, said: “We are committed to reducing lorry danger because we know they are involved in approximately two-thirds of cyclist deaths in London.

“We are in discussions with TfL and if their own independent results support these so far, we are keen to look at further roll out of this system across our fleet.”

Luke Brown, a driver for Murrill Construction, who took part in the TfL-funded trial, said: “The system has been a real benefit. I’ve used another system in the past that beeped at inanimate objects, such as cones, barriers and parked cars, so it was constantly making noise.”

Woman who lost breast after screening blunder wins pay-out from hospital

A woman who was forced to have a breast removed months after routine screening failed to detect cancer has won a substantial pay-out from one of London’s biggest NHS trusts.

Penny Morgan, 64, a school learning assistant from West Drayton, said she felt “vindicated” after Imperial College NHS trust apologised and paid undisclosed “five figure” compensation following the “misreported” mammogram.

She had been given the all clear in March 2010 after tests at West London Breast Screening mobile unit in Hayes but five months later underwent a mastectomy to remove a Grade II 2.3cm carcinoma.

Penny Morgan

Penny Morgan: vindicated after winning apology from hospital

She brought a legal challenge claiming that the initial mammogram had shown a visible mass that should have led to a re-examination. Her lawyers argued this could have prevented the need for the mastectomy and breast reconstruction.

In an agreed settlement, Imperial accepted the screening had found evidence justifying re-examination of Mrs Morgan’s breast.

Mrs Morgan told the Standard: “It should never have happened. I think probably they don’t want to recall people and worry them unnecessarily, but in taking that route they are missing people.

“What I wanted from the beginning was an apology and an explanation. I still don’t know what went wrong. All they have admitted was that there was evidence on the X-ray that meant I should have been recalled.

“I just knew there was something wrong and wasn’t going to be fobbed off. It’s taken four years. It’s been absolutely worth it – I feel vindicated. Hopefully they will have learned something.”

The mother of three, who also has a young grandchild, had noticed a small indentation beneath her breast on holiday several months later “by sheer chance”.

er brother had died of cancer two months earlier so she visited her GP. Subsequent private treatment confirmed that she had cancer and that a mastectomy was her only option.

“I was devastated and confused to be told that not only did I have breast cancer, but that a mastectomy was my only choice at this stage,” she said. “A mastectomy is a brutal operation and one I may never have had to experience had my mammogram been read correctly.”

Her lawyer Trevor Ward, from Linder Myers Solicitors, said: “A mastectomy is a serious and painful operation and could have been avoided had medical staff correctly reported that a visible mass was showing.”

Imperial said in a statement: “We apologise sincerely and unreservedly for the experience Mrs Morgan had with our service.

“Mrs Morgan had a form of breast cancer which is notoriously difficult to diagnose via mammography and unfortunately on this occasion it was not detected.

“We are constantly looking at how we can improve our breast cancer screening services and the safety and care of our patients remains the trust’s top priority.”

Inner-city mountain biking at Olympic velodrome completes world-class cycling legacy


The first-inner city course for mountain bikers has opened beside the Olympic velodrome – with “black run” trails for the most daring riders.

Cyclists are required to sign a consent form in case of injury before attempting the five-mile course, constructed out of the “lunar landscape” at northern end of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Bosses hope the course – which has easier “blue” and “red” trails for novice riders – will help British mountain bikers to match the success of track cyclists such as Sir Chris Hoy and Laura Trott and win gold medals.

Rob Mortlock, lead coach at the facility, now renamed the Lee Valley VeloPark, said: “We want to become the best cycling facility in the world. It would be fantastic for this venue to provide the stepping stone for future Olympians in all disciplines, not just the track.”

The opening of the course is the final part of the VeloPark and sits alongside the velodrome, a road cycling circuit and a BMX track. It was designed by one of the UK’s top trail-builders, Dafyyd Davis, who built trails such as Coed Y Brenin in Wales. Prices start at £6 (£2 on Wednesdays during school holidays).

The route takes riders on a loop across the A12. The biggest challenge is “Mount Olympus”, a nerve-shredding 5m drop down stepping stones made from concrete boulders.

Emergency alarms are positioned round the course in case of accidents. Staff have a mountain bike and golf buggy equipped with first aid equipment on standby.

Taster sessions are available to teach basic skills to novices.

“The blue trail is suitable most people who can ride a bike, right up to the more challenging black run,” Mr Mortlock said.

“Most riders come to a mountain bike taster session. If they have not already got some skills, they normally develop the key ones by the end of the session.

“Essentially the message is: don’t attempt anything you don’t think you are capable of doing. If in doubt, don’t try it.”

Team GB failed to win a mountain biking medal during the 2012 Games, when riders competed at Hadleigh farm in Essex.

Mr Mortlock said the trails would benefit riders unable to get to places such as Epping Forest during the week. “The idea is to bring four of the main cycling disciplines together in one place,” he said. “It’s quite unique to have 8km of single-track trails in central London.

“Most people are interested in the velodrome track but the mountain biking seems to be popular. I have noticed a number of people riding after work, which they probably couldn’t do if this wasn’t here.”

Unexplained child deaths fall to lowest figure in almost a decade



The number of unexplained deaths of infants has fallen to almost the lowest figure in a decade, it was revealed today.

A total of 221 children aged under one died in England and Wales in 2012. Of these, 158 were classed as sudden infant death while 63 deaths could not be ascertained, the Office for National Statistics reported.

The total is down on 247 deaths the previous year and continues the annual year-on-year fall seen since 2005, when there were 325 deaths.

London had the second lowest infant mortality rate, after the North West, with 0.25 deaths per 1,000 live births. Most infant deaths occurred between 28 days and one year, with boys twice as likely to die than girls.

Factors known to influence a child’s risk of death include the baby’s head being covered during sleep and the danger of overheating from central heating or extra clothing and blankets. Babies that are not breastfed and those exposed to tobacco smoke are also more at risk. New guidance from the NHS is due to be published in December on the risks attached to parents “co-sleeping” with their baby.

Unusually in 2012, the same proportion of unexplained deaths occurred in the summer and winter. Winter is normally a higher risk but the 2011/12 winter was the warmest for five years.

Death rates in 2012 were three times higher for low birthweight babies, while the risk to babies born to mothers under 20 was almost three times higher than average.

Campaign to save 22 East End surgeries heads to Downing Street

GPs and patients fighting NHS funding cuts that have placed 22 East End surgeries at risk of closure today took their campaign to Downing Street.

A petition with more than 21,000 signatures was being submitted at 1.30pm by Labour MPs Rushanara Ali and Jim Fitzpatrick as they appealed for a reprieve for the health centres in Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham.

They are among 98 across the country losing vast sums of protected income under a change to the funding rules. The Jubilee Street Practice, which has 11,000 patients in Stepney, would lose almost £220,000 a year over the next seven years and has warned NHS England that it will have to close next April.

See here for previous posts on the crisis and on Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham’s intervention.

Dr Naomi Beer, of Jubilee Street Practice, said: “We’ve already taken pay cuts to try to keep going, but we can’t absorb such a huge loss.

“It breaks my heart to think that our patients, some of them amongst the poorest in the country, are at very real risk of losing their GP practice. We are asking the Government to take action to ensure all practices receive a fair allocation of funds.

A High Court challenge to the “unlawful” change in funding has been launched by a Jubilee Street patient, Danny Currie. The 35-year-old has complex medical needs and has relied on the surgery for 30 years.

Richard Stein, from the human rights team at Leigh Day solicitors, claimed NHS England breached the National Health Service Act 2006 by failing to consult prior to changing the funding formula.

Lawyers believe the removal of the MPIG [minimum price income guarantee] safety net are flawed as they take no account of the level of deprivation, ethnicity and general health status of patients in the East End. Parts of Tower Hamlets have a life expectancy of 54 compared to 72 in Richmond.

Mr Stein said: “This is clearly an attack on inner city health provision and we agree with NHS England that the potential closure of this practice could be the first of many more.

“The Government must do more to address the consequences of its decisions and funds need to be spent to reduce not increase the disparity in the services provided.”

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA’s GP committee, said: “The BMA has been warning the government for well over a year that its decision to phase out MPIG would leave a number of practices in challenging circumstances at risk from closure.

“All GP practices are under real, sustained pressure from a combination of rising patient demand, declining funding and the government’s desire to move more care into the community. Given this climate, many of the practices that are funded by MPIG can ill-afford to lose this vital funding stream.

“The Tower Hamlets practices have to provide care to some of the most deprived areas in London where the population has significant health needs. This situation is completely unacceptable. The government must act before patient care is damaged.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The system needs to be fair so GP practices are paid fairly according to the number of patients and the services they deliver.

“The MPIG was introduced in 2004 to support practices moving to a new GP contract. NHS England will be supporting the most affected practices to adjust as these payments are gradually phased out over seven years, and the money will be reinvested in general practice.”

Britain’s fastest man has no plans to run away from life as a London student


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Adam Gemili being interviewed at the Team England media hub in Glasgow by Channel 5’s Simon Vigar20140729-165957-61197761.jpg

Adam Gemili today vowed to continue his university studies despite waking up as the second fastest man in the Commonwealth.

Gemili, 20, a student at the University of East London, won silver last night in the men’s 100m in Glasgow. Today he said it was “like a dream” and he had to pinch himself when he woke up.

He will receive his medal at Hampden Park tonight and will be back in the stadium on Friday and Saturday for the 4x100m sprint heats and final, in which he is likely to run the anchor leg against Usain Bolt as Team England challenge Jamaica for gold.

The former Chelsea trainee footballer left Stamford Bridge after seven seasons to play for Dagenham and Redbridge. But he gave up football completely to concentrate on athletics three years ago.

He has one year remaining on his Sports and Exercise Science with Human Biology at UEL and the Dartford Grammar School pupil insisted he is determined to see it through and graduate next year.

He told me: “The way my university helped me out and work with my coach and the rest of my team, we will get it done. I’ve one more year of university left. One last push and I will graduate with a good degree and I will be happy. “

Gemili spent an hour this morning patiently answering numerous questions from the media about how it felt to win a silver medal and whether he would run directly against Usain Bolt.

Referring to his medal, he added: “I did manage to get a couple of hours’ sleep but i’m still in shock really.

“It’s my first senior medal and it’s done on home soil. I’m still in shock I have got a silver medal.

“As soon as the gun went off I don’t really remember much until right at the end. My mind just went blank and I ytried to get to the line as quickly as I could.

“Hopefully I’m going to have a reasonable career, fingers crossed, if my body lets me.”

He said he was happy to run against Bolt in the anchor leg of the relay. “Whatever leg the relay coach wants me to run, I will run. I’m not bothered as long as I play my part for the team.”

The runner with Blackheath & Bromley Harriers tweeted this morning: “So I’ve woken up this morning and it turns out it wasn’t just a dream. It really did happen. Commonwealth Games Silver medalist!

“My first senior medal and I really am over the moon.”

Commonwealth victory back-flips at the ready from London netball sisters


Two London sisters plan to celebrate in style if they scoop a Commonwealth Games medal – by performing their “banned” victory backflips.

Netball players Sasha and Kadeen Corbin have made the acrobatic stunts their trademark but have been ordered not to attempt them to avoid injury in the run-up to the Games.

Last year they backflipped their way down the court at Wembley Arena after victory against Australia. “We were very excited at the time we did our backflips,” said Sasha. “That was obviously a pinnacle moment for everyone in the England team.

“We are not allowed to do them just now. We don’t want to get injured. But if something truly amazing happens in the Commonwealth Games, we might need to bust out some more.”

The sisters are part of a north London sporting dynasty – their cousin is the sprinter Asha Philip, while their mum Violet continues to run Troy netball club in Tottenham.

They credit her for encouraging their love of sport as teenagers.

Kadeen, 22, said: “From a young age we have always been into sport. We used to be gymnasts and then did athletics.”

Sasha, 26, said: “It was netball that I decided I wanted to take up, and she supported that. When we had to travel all around the country, she was the person who would take us there.”

Sasha said competing at the Commonwealth Games it had been the culmination of years of hard work and determination to overcome injuries. “I have had heartbreak,” she said.

“To be able to represent England at the biggest stage for us is just a dream come true.”

Kadeen is a netball coach at Barking Abbey school, a specialist sports college in Barking. She recently moved back home after completing a degree at Bath university.

Sasha, who lives in Enfield, is a Team England netball ambassador, and works with the commercial marketing team to drive interest in the sport. She runs Back 2 Netball courses in Tottenham to encourage women who played netball at school to return to the sport.

Both sisters visit Troy as often as possible and work to boost involvement in sport in their own community. “I want to give back to where I came from,” said Kadeen.

Sasha said: “I’m so honoured and privileged to have been given a job and do such an important role to promote netball as much as possible.”
They are due on court on Friday morning [July 25] for England’s opening fixture against Wales. Netball is not an Olympic sport – meaning the Commonwealth Games are the pinnacle of their sport.

“At the moment, we are just trying to look for better performances every day,” said Kadeen. “We want to get to the final, where we have never been before.”

Glasgow Commonwealth Games can beat achievement of London 2012, says Alex Salmond


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Glassgow can outshine the success of the London Olympics by staging an even better Commonwealth Games, Alex Salmond has claimed.

Scotland’s SNP First Minister told me that he was confident Glasgow could emulate the capital after copying the best parts of 2012.

Mr Salmond said: “London has set a very high bar. It will be our task over the next 10 days to see if we can leap over that bar.”

The 20th Commonwealth Games opening ceremony tonight has been masterminded by Jack Morton Worldwide, the London firm that also oversaw the Olympics.

It will include performances from Rod Stewart, Susan Boyle, Amy Macdonald and classical violinist Nicola Benedetti.

A dress rehearsal of the ceremony at Celtic Park was held on Monday night. Attendees were asked to keep its contents secret – just as those attending the previews of Danny Boyle’s 2012 opening spectacular were asked to do.

It is understood that tonight’s ceremony will attempt to avoid official formalities and be guided by tongue-in-cheek Glaswegian humour and the warm welcome traditionally shown by the city.

An insider said a list of “no go” areas had been ripped up and discarded – with each “taboo” being gently mocked.

It will also emphasise the nature of a “common wealth” by encouraging £5 donations to Unicef to tackle child poverty in developing nations.

Mr Salmond said he had not managed to speak to Boris Johnson in advance of the Games but said Commonwealth organisers had been able to draw on the assistance of leading figures in London 2012. “The hands-on experience we got has been extremely valuable,” he said.

He said the baton relay, which took the Commonwealth baton to each of Scotland’s 33 council regions and across the Highlands and Islands, had drawn directly from the nationwide tour of the 2012 Olympic torch.

Mr Salmond said the £575 million Games would inspire healthier lifestyles in a nation notorious for high rates of obesity and heart disease. He said it was good value compared to the “£7 billion” spent staging the London Olympics.

“This is something that will change lives, and change them for the better,” he said.”I think it’s £575 million well spent.”

Schoolgirl fulfils father’s table tennis dream by competing at Commonwealth Games


A London schoolgirl today told how her father’s dream of encouraging her to become a table tennis champion has seen her selected for the Commonwealth Games at the age of 15.

Tin-Tin Ho, from Bayswater, began playing at five and is one of the youngest members of the Team England squad, after being inspired by her “tiger father” Charles Ho.

“I’m really happy and excited,” she told the Standard. “It will be my first Games. It will be a really good experience. I have never competed in a multi-sport event before.”

Tin-Tin, who attends the City of London School for Girls, in Barbican, is ranked number three in England and 376 in the world in a sport dominated by players from China and, in the Commonwealth, by Singapore, Malaysia and India. But she is ranked the most active player in the world, competing in 126 matches last year, of which she won 71 per cent.

Her father used to play internationally for Hong Kong and also taught her elder brother, Ping, 20, now studying law at King’s College London, to play. He named her Tin-Tin because the initials matched those of table tennis, and had considered calling her Pong.

Mr Ho, an accountant, said there was “no surprise” at his daughter’s selection for the Commonwealth Games. “I’m very confident in her performance,” he said. “She is very good. She is number three in England’s senior rankings. She deserves her position.

“I have given her the techniques, The encouragement is from her mother. Her mother has done a very good job. I was a ‘tiger father’, very strict.” Her mother Rita said: “I’m very proud. I’m very happy.”

The basement of the family’s second home has been fitted with a table and competition flooring, while the walls are adorned with medals and pictures – including a visit to Downing Street to meet David Cameron.

Tin-Tin trains two hours a day, six days a week, with her brother and father, and at Morpeth school table tennis club in Bethnal Green. “When I come back from school I train, and then I will do my homework,” she said. She takes her GCSEs next year.

She admitted there had been times when she struggled to match her father’s enthusiasm for table tennis. “He managed to encourage me to still carry on,” she said. She first represented her country aged eight. “Before I didn’t take it seriously. I thought it was a fun thing to do. Then I started playing for England. That was when I wanted to play seriously.”

Her Commonwealth matches start at 9am on Thursday [July 24] – meaning she has to miss Wednesday night’s opening ceremony – and will continue for the next nine days.

Tin-Tin will play singles, doubles, mixed doubles and in the team event. England’s women came fourth in the team event Delhi in 2010. “Hopefully as team we can get a medal, seeing as last time we were so close,” she said. “In singles I don’t really know – I just want to enjoy it and get as far as I can.”

Two new cinemas will help raise profile of London’s ‘best unknown borough’


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The London borough that was once home to David Beckham and Damon Albarn is to rebrand itself in an effort to lose its “best-kept secret” reputation.

Experts found that economic development in Waltham Forest was being hampered by the fact that “relatively few people have heard of it or its attractiveness”.

The council is set to adopt a series of recommendations to help the borough “stand out” beyond its status as a property hot-spot. Prices rose 26 per cent in the year to May – the highest in London.

This week the council agreed to help the Soho Theatre purchase the derelict EMD cinema, where the Beatles and Rolling Stones once performed, and turn it into a 1,000-seat cinema and arts venue.

This will be only the second cinema in the borough – the first, a nine-screen Empire multiplex, opens in Walthamstow on November 20.

An independent commission headed by Tony Travers of the London School of Economics said Waltham Forest had to create its own identity. At present, it is less well known than its four town centres – Walthamstow, Leyton, Leytonstone and Chingford. Beckham was born in Leytonstone while Albarn grew up there.

Mr Travers said it was vital to improve the quality of the four main high streets and provide a better night-time economy. “We believe there is a need for efforts to promote the benefits of the borough to those who, if they knew more about the area, might invest in the borough or chose to live there.”

Hundreds of residents have backed a campaign to return the Grade II*-listed EMD to use. See here for my previous reports.

The council funding will help Soho Theatre to pursue a negotiated sale with the building owners, United Church of the Kingdom of God. If negotiations fail, the council will serve a compulsory purchase order on the church.

Council leader Chris Robbins said: “Residents have told us that they want the EMD open as an entertainment venue again and we’re committed to helping to make that happen.

“It will bring a wonderful building back into use and form part of our wider plans for regenerating the town centre.”

Mark Godfrey and Steve Marmion, directors of Soho Theatre, said: “We’re not there yet but this is a really important step forward. In an area of London with limited cultural provision, it will become one of the capital’s finest venues.”


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