Introducing social distancing at airports is “physically impossible”, the boss of Heathrow has warned.
“Social distancing does not work in any form of public transport, let alone aviation,” John Holland-Kaye said.
But the chief executive of Europe’s busiest airport said airports will have to introduce health-screening and passengers will have to wear masks.
However, the GMB union said the airport must enforce social-distancing to protect staff and passengers.
The union said workers fear contracting the coronavirus from passengers returning from countries where Covid-19 is prevalent. In the past two weeks three GMB members working at Heathrow have lost their lives to the coronavirus.
In an interview with the Press Association news agency, Mr Holland-Kaye said: “It’s just physically impossible to socially distance with any volume of passengers in an airport.”
He said a “better solution” is needed to make air travel safe. “The constraint is not about how many people you can fit on a plane, it will be how many people you can get through an airport safely.”
In a separate interview, with the BBC, Mr Holland-Kaye said that until a coronavirus vaccine could be developed, airports would have to introduce measures to minimise infection once lockdowns started to ease.
“This might include some kind of health screening as you come into the terminal so that if you have a high temperature, you may not be allowed to fly,” he said.
“As you go through the airport, you will probably be wearing a face mask, as people from Asia have been doing ever since Sars (virus) came out.”
Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary backed the call for temperature checks. “Anybody with a temperature of over 38 degrees will be refused entry,” he told the BBC.
Meanwhile, EasyJet has suggested it could leave the middle seats on its planes empty when flights resume.
The GMB has called for urgent action to protect Heathrow airport workers after an over-crowding incident this week. On Tuesday, two flights arrived at the same time from the same country, the union reported.
It said Heathrow allocated just one conveyor belt for up to 500 passengers waiting to collect their bags.
“No social-distancing was enforced in what was a very crowded area,” said Trevlyn McLeod, GMB London region organiser. “These are not safe conditions for passengers and they are not safe working conditions for our members.
“Enforcing social-distancing is essential if our members and airport passengers are to feel that their lives are more important than money,” he said.
The mother of a teenage boy who was stabbed to death by a love rival and his parents has called the sentences his killers received “a joke”.
Jay Sewell, 18, was attacked by a group led by Daniel Grogan, who thought he was dating his ex-girlfriend.
Mr Sewell’s mother Sharon Louch said she and her family were still “suffering” and felt they had been sidelined during the court process.
Grogan, 20, was found guilty of murder and jailed for a minimum of 21 years.
The Old Bailey heard he had deliberately engineered a stand-off with Mr Sewell and his ex-girlfriend Gemma Hodder in December 2018.
Mr Sewell and his friends were set upon in Lee, south-east London, by Grogan’s parents and friends who were armed with knives, hammers, a 4ft (1.2m) fireman’s axe and wooden sticks.
Ms Louch said her son had only known Ms Hodder for four days but in that time had received numerous threats.
“He decided enough was enough and he needed to go and sort it out. I wish he had come to me but instead he went to sort it out himself,” she said.
She described her son as a “very popular, very loyal” teenager who “meant everything to me”.
“I lie awake at night and that’s all I think about…just his last minutes because I never got to say goodbye,” Ms Louch said.
On Tuesday, Grogan and a group of his friends and family were given sentences ranging from life imprisonment to a nine-month rehabilitation order.
Ms Louch said it was “completely and utterly wrong” that some of those involved “could be out on the street” soon.
She said: “I had to walk out, I couldn’t listen to it – I did feel very angry about it because we haven’t been able to say a lot at all.
“It was all about them. The court process is very much in their favour. I just don’t think there’s any deterrent to stop people from doing this or reoffending.”
The prime minister has previously called for tougher sentences and an end to automatic release for all killers.
Those jailed over fatal stabbing
- Grogan’s father Robert, 58, who had armed himself with an axe, was jailed for 14-and-a-half years for manslaughter, six years for wounding with intent and three-and-a-half years for violent disorder
- Grogan’s mother Ann, 55, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years for manslaughter and three-and-a-half years for violent disorder, to be served concurrently
- Friend and neighbour Charlie Dudley, 26, of Grove Park, was jailed for 16 years for manslaughter, six-and-a-half years for wounding with intent and three-and-a-half years for violent disorder, to be served concurrently
- Cousin Liam Hickey, 19, of Eltham, was sentenced to three years in a Young Offenders Institution for wounding with intent and two years for violent disorder, to be served concurrently
- Sister Francesca Grogan, 30, of Sibthorpe Road, was jailed for 12 months for violent disorder
- Jamie Bennett, 32, of Sibthorpe Road, was sentenced to 20 months in prison for violent disorder
- A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named, was handed a nine-month rehabilitation order and a supervision order for violent disorder.
Millions of commuters will have to pay an average of 2.7% more for train tickets from today.
The rise, announced by industry body the Rail Delivery Group in November, is lower than the 3.1% increase at the start of last year.
Train companies say it is the third year in a row that average fares have been held below RPI – the inflation measure on which rises are based.
But many commuters face an increase of more than £100 for annual passes.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps cited a new fund for trials for flexible fares as an example of how the government was committed to “putting passengers first”.
He said he planned to tackle the “fragmented” system and had begun the process to end the franchise for Northern Rail, whose performance was “completely unacceptable”.
“You can judge me on this at the end of the year,” he told BBC Breakfast. “These changes are going to take time but I think people will see things moving in the right direction.”
But Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, said the rise showed passengers were “once again paying more for less under the Tories”.
Independent watchdog Transport Focus says most rail users (53%) do not feel train ticket prices offer value for money.
The watchdog’s director, David Sidebottom, said: “After a year of pretty poor performance in some areas, passengers just want a consistent day-to-day service they can rely on and a better chance of getting a seat.”
He encouraged passengers to claim compensation for eligible delays in order to “offset” the cost of fare rises.
Some annual passes go up by more than £100
£132Reading to London. Total £4,736
£118Gloucester to Birmingham. Total £4,356
£116Glasgow to Edinburgh. Total £4,200
However, Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions for Rail Delivery Group, said rail companies were investing in improving journeys while holding fare increases below inflation.
He said 2020 will see 1,000 extra weekly services and 1,000 more carriages added to Britain’s rail fleet.
“There is a record level of investment going into the railway at the moment,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“For people who do suffer from poor punctuality in areas of the country, that could be for a variety of different reasons, we apologise. We are looking at at trying to make punctuality much better across the board,” he said.
Official statistics show that just over one in three trains failed to arrive on time in July, August and September 2019, although that figure was an improvement on the previous year.
About 40% of annual rail price rises are regulated by governments in England, Scotland and Wales. They are pegged to the Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation measure for the previous July. Other fare rises are decided by train companies.
RPI inflation was 2.8% last year.
But RPI inflation is generally higher than the most widely watched measure of inflation, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI).
Passenger groups have repeatedly called for the system to be changed since RPI inflation was abandoned by the UK Statistics Authority as a national statistic in 2013.
Emily Yates, a freelance writer from Brighton who co-founded the Association of British Commuters, said the annual rises feel like “Groundhog Day” and a “complete charade”.
“Every year, we ask for a fares freeze, the government says no, and the rail industry defends the decision,” she said.
Protests will be held against the fare increase on Thursday, including a demonstration outside London King’s Cross station.
The rallies come as the Trades Union Congress (TUC) releases research suggesting fares have risen by twice as much as wages in the last 10 years.
The TUC said someone earning an average salary in the UK would have to spend 16% of their wages for a season ticket from Chelmsford to London (£511 a month), but similar commutes would cost 2% of the average salary in France, and 4% in Germany and Belgium.
Christmas dinners have been served to Londoners who are reliant on the city’s homelessness services.
Hairdressers and opticians were also made available at City Hall before guests were given a three-course meal.
Last year, 8,855 people were seen rough sleeping in London, an 18% increase since last year, and more than double the number in 2010.
“Events like this help bring a sense of community back in to London,” Claire, a former rough sleeper, told the BBC.
Claire, who spent 30 years either living on the streets or in prison, said: “It’s the type of event that does matter. It forms partnerships and builds bonds.
“If it wasn’t for the support of St Mungo’s, I’d either be dead or doing what I was before.”
Guests were chosen from the thousands of Londoners that currently receive assistance from services funded by City Hall and delivered by charities St Mungo’s and Thames Reach.
But Claire said services were still “hit and miss”.
“Where I live I’m still waiting for support with my mental health,” she added.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “St Mungo’s and Thames Reach are struggling with finances.
“Since I became mayor we’ve more than doubled the amount of money we’ve spent on rough sleeping and the size of our outreach team.
“But we’re just scratching the surface. We’ve not got the money or the resources to do much more – as it is I’m criticised for going outside my remit and my power.
“It is both heartbreaking and shameful that in one of the richest cities in the world we still have the levels rough sleeping that we do.”
Last year 15,470 people were accepted as being homeless by London councils.
There were 55,000 families living in temporary accommodation, such as bed and breakfasts and hostels.
Hundreds more people are estimated to be sleeping on London’s night buses.
Petra Salva, Director of Rough Sleeper Services at St Mungo’s, said: “It’s wonderful that the Mayor has opened the doors of City Hall for this festive event.
“Christmas can be a time of mixed emotions for clients in our services and our staff work hard to support those who stay with us over the holiday period.”
Sue Peart is preparing to be on the phone for Samaritans on Christmas Day.
It comes after her life quickly changed in 2017, when she left her job as a national magazine editor to look after her sick mother, who died only months later.
As a result, Sue’s mental health suffered – but two years later she is lending an ear to those in need.
Video Journalist: Paul Murphy-Kasp
Voting is under way to decide who will represent London’s 73 parliamentary seats.
Londoners will decide the fate of hundreds of parliamentary candidates including the prime minister and leader of the Labour Party.
Registered voters will be able to cast their ballots from 07:00 to 22:00 GMT.
Labour represented 46 seats in the city going into the 2019 General Election. The Conservative had 20 London MPs while Liberal Democrats had four.
The BBC, like other broadcasters, is not allowed to report details of campaigning while the polls are open. More details around electoral law and our BBC code of practice is explained here.
Minicab drivers in London will only be able to gain required qualifications at official centres after a cheating scandal was exposed by the BBC.
Drivers could previously sit mandatory exams at Transport for London (TfL) centres or authorised private schools and colleges to get a licence.
TfL said all licences gained from colleges where cheating occurred had been revoked.
As part of the cab application process, drivers must sit a topographical exam and an English test at one of eight official TfL testing centres.
Evidence of these exams can also be accepted via other qualifications including BTecs, which are usually taken at numerous private colleges and centres around the UK.
Some employees at one of these colleges – Vista Training Solutions in Newham, east London – offered to take the tests for several BBC researchers for £500 per BTec.
After the cheating was exposed, TfL carried out an “urgent review” of every licence gained through qualifications passed at private colleges.
It has now revoked those of 143 drivers who had gained them through Vista Training Solutions while another 209 licence applications made by people who passed their qualifications through the college have also been rejected.
The transport authority added that no evidence of “fraudulent activity” had been found at any other private colleges but from February, qualifications will only be allowed to be gained from one of TfL’s eight testing centres.
“The most robust and relevant topographical tests are our own assessments,” said Helen Chapman, TfL’s director of licensing, regulation and charging.
In a statement Ofqual, which regulates tests taken at private colleges, said it took “all allegations of qualifications fraud extremely seriously”.
Vista Training Solutions previously said it was “devastated to learn that such malpractice took place” and apologised “unreservedly”.
Arsenal have identified Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo as a potential replacement for Unai Emery if the Gunners decide to sack the Spaniard.
Head coach Emery is under pressure after a winless run of six matches across all competitions.
Arsenal have only won four of 13 Premier League games this season.
BBC Sport understands that if Emery is sacked and Nuno is allowed to speak to Arsenal, then the Portuguese would be a strong contender to take over.
Nuno said it would be “disrespectful” to talk about being linked with Arsenal when asked in a news conference before his side’s Europa League tie against Braga on Thursday.
“I wouldn’t ever mention an issue which is not a reality,” he said. “Speaking about a job which has a manager would be disrespectful and I will not do so.”
Emery said he still has the full support of the club, having been warned results must improve while being offered public backing by the Arsenal hierarchy earlier this month.
“Really the club is supporting me,” he said. “I feel the club, everyone responsible in that area, is backing me. Really I appreciate it a lot.
“I feel strong with that support and know my responsibility to come back and change that situation.”
The former Sevilla and Paris St-Germain boss added he is only focused on “today and tomorrow” as he prepares for his side’s Europa League match at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.
“My job is to prepare for the match, to show the best performance in front of our supporters,” he said.
Arsenal go into Thursday’s game top of Group F, four points clear of both their German opponents and Standard Liege.
On Sunday, a number of Arsenal fan groups called for “urgent action” over the “state of things” at the club.
“My focus is only today and tomorrow, to do all the things that we have worked on here at the training ground,” Emery added.
“We know our supporters were disappointed by the draw against Southampton, but we have the perfect chance to reconnect with our supporters.
“Our wish is that every supporter tomorrow helps the team, we need them.”
Arsenal are also eight points adrift of the top four and 19 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.
Andrew Lloyd Webber has announced he is to join forces with ticket resellers Twickets in a bid to beat the touts.
The theatrical grandee’s LW playhouses, which include The London Palladium the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, hope the move will bring “consumer-friendly ticket resale to the West End”.
Fans have often found themselves ripped off on secondary ticketing platforms.
Unwanted tickets bought at the box office will now be able to be resold for no more than the original price.
Rebecca Kane Burton, CEO at LW Theatres said: “We continue to strive to not only offer our customers an incredible experience, but also help them when things don’t go to plan.
“Providing a safe, secure and easy way to resell tickets is best practice and yet another step LW Theatres is taking to innovate and improve theatre-going.”
Lord Lloyd Webber has produced best-selling and long-running musicals including Cats and Jesus Christ Supsterstar.
Twickets launched in 2015 as a more ethical ticketing company, helping fans get into concerts by the likes of Adele and Arctic Monkeys, but this is their first official tie-in with a UK theatre group.
“The UK is in the midst of a market shift away from rip-off secondary ticketing platforms and towards capped consumer-friendly resale services,” added Twickets’ founder Richard Davies.
“I am proud Twickets is at the forefront of this change, and delighted we can extend our service to theatre lovers via this groundbreaking partnership with LW Theatres.”
London blogger The Gentle Author has been photographing the changing face of London, focusing on what is known as “facadism”, the practice of destroying everything apart from the front wall and constructing a new building behind it.
Here, we present a few pictures from the series and the story of the buildings that once stood.
National Provincial Bank, Threadneedle Street, City of London, EC2
This Grade I listed building was designed by John Gibson as London’s largest banking hall, in 1863-65, with figures along the roofline representing locations where the bank did business including:
Above the arched windows, eight sculpted panels of heroic allegorical scenes represent the achievements of mankind:
- the arts
The Cock & Hoop, Artillery Lane, Spitalfields, E1
Thomas Lloyd is recorded as this pub’s first landlord, in 1805.
After it closed for good, in 1908, the building was incorporated into the Providence Row Night Refuge and, in 2006, converted into student housing for the London School of Economics.
London Fruit & Wool Exchange, Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, E1
This building was designed by Sydney Perks, in 1927, as a state-of-the-art auction room with a roof that simulated sunlight on cloudy days, parquet floors, careful detailing and significant craft elements throughout.
Since the fruit and vegetable market left Spitalfields, in 1991, it has housed many small independent local businesses.
The tenant of the new development is an international legal corporation.
465 Caledonian Road, Islington, N7
Mallett, Porter & Dowd built this handsome warehouse for their business, in 1874.
Redevelopment by University College London for student housing was turned down by Islington Council, citing inadequate daylight, due to the windows of the new building not aligning with those in the facade.
But this judgement was later overturned by the Planning Inspectorate.
And the development won Building Design’s Carbuncle Cup for 2013.
College East, Toynbee Hall, Wentworth Street, Spitalfields, E1
Designed by Elijah Hoole, this part of the Toynbee Hall campus, built in 1884-85, was demolished and facaded for the construction of Attlee House, which was completed in 1971 but itself demolished in 2016.
It will next front Gatsby Apartments, a development of flats for the commercial market.
Former Unitarian Chapel, Stamford Street, Blackfriars, SE1
Designed in 1821 by Charles Parker, the architect of Hoare’s Bank, in the Strand, this chapel was demolished in the 1960s apart from the portico and part of the ground floor, which stood in front of a car park for many years.
The Grade II listed Doric hexastyle portico is topped by a triglyph frieze and a pediment.
Its central door has a shouldered architrave and iron gates.
The Spotted Dog, 38 High Road, Willesden, NW10
The Spotted Dog was described as “a well accustomed public house” in 1792, by which time it was at least 30 years old.
In the 19th Century, it was famous for its pleasure gardens and in the 1920s housed a dancehall.
18 Broadwick Street, Soho, W1
Decorative brick inlay on the Berwick Street elevation declares this facade was built in 1886.
Originally a bakery, it became Central Chemists in 1950 when the ground floor and basement premises were acquired by Gertrude Kramer.
Michael Moss acquired the pharmacy and freehold to the building from Mrs Kramer in the 1970s and enlarged it to include 85-86 Berwick Street in the late 1980s, naming it Broadwick Pharmacy.
Richard Piercy bought the shop in 1990 and ran it as Zest Pharmacy until 2016.
In recent memory, the upper parts of the building were used as offices by music, film and voice-over businesses.
All photographs © The Gentle Author from the book The Creeping Plague of Ghastly Facadism.