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memorial service with my colleage
That's all for tonight.
Now on BBC One, it's time
for the news where you are.
I'm Claudia-Liza Armah.
There are claims tonight that
homeowners are being exploited,
paying extortionate service charges
to maintain their buildings for work
that isn't even carried out.
We've heard from some Londoners
who say they're paying
thousands of pounds a year.
One MP says the complaints
in her constituency are mounting up
and she's now calling
for a parliamentary investigation.
Sonja Jessup reports.
Look, he's sitting there,
He is climbing.
A very unwelcome guest at this
Hounslow housing block.
Residents say they've been
complaining to their landlord for
three years about a rat infestation.
So serious, these neighbours say,
they are considering moving out.
It's like you cannot sleep
because the constant screeching
and running around of the rats
in the wall.
You've got a list of your charges.
It came as a shock, then,
when some received bills
for nearly £200 each.
They suspected to tackle
the rat problem.
But say it's not clear what they're
actually paying for.
They've never said what it's for.
It just says it's
a surcharge deficit.
They are among an increasing number
of Londoners who are complaining
about service charges,
fees paid by most leaseholders
for maintaining communal areas.
And, as more new flats rise up,
legal experts say it's
inevitable that so too
will the number of disputes.
Some service charges add up
to thousands of pounds per year.
These are quite large
sums of money now.
They can be two, three, £4000,
for relatively modest properties.
We are not talking
your One Hyde Parks.
This MP has heard so many complaints
she is calling for a parliamentary
investigation into service charges
across the country.
I am very concerned that residents
are being exploited and that this
is little short of a scandal.
We know that there is a huge need
for affordable housing and models
like shared ownership but I believe,
it's a matter of great concern.
She wants stronger legislation
so residents are clear what charges
are for what service to expect
and a fair system to
deal with complaints.
If residents feel the charges
are unfair they can challenge
them in court but that can be
a complex and costly process.
That's something Pamela Rose
and her neighbours discovered.
She's tried to challenge
service charges which she
believes are unfair.
She says she has sometimes received
bills for hundreds of pounds,
often with no explanation.
When you open a bill,
you just don't know...
You start crying.
Sometimes, just cry.
Because just to think,
what am I working for?
Where'd you get the money from?
They just increase the charges
for whatever they want.
Her block is managed by the housing
the focus of many of the complaints
to the local MP.
In a statement, they told us...
"We always aim to ensure our service
charges are as clear
and transparent as possible."
"When a scheme requires
major or cyclical works,
such as repairs to the roof,
we write to residents
in advance to consult them."
"We also offer payment
support and advice."
"We are sorry to hear that some
of our residents have concerns
and we are providing as much
information and help as we can."
A2dominion has also
apologised for the ongoing
problem with rats here.
It says it has been working hard
to tackle it and is now
carrying out further works.
It says the £200 bill sent
to residents are not related but,
so far, has been unable to tell us
what they are for.
The government has just carried out
a consultation on service charges.
It's thought the law
could be changed in future.
Londoners like Pamela are worried
how far it will go and whether it
will help people like them.
Sonja Jessup, BBC London News.
Tomorrow marks six months
since the Grenfell fire,
and a memorial service is being held
at St Paul's Cathedral to remember
the 71 people who lost their lives.
Among those attending
is Clarrie Mendy, whose daughter
and cousin lived on the 20th floor
and died in the tragedy.
She's been talking to Helen Drew
about how she continues
to fight for justice.
Mary Mendy and Khadija Saye,
the mother and daughter who died
trying to escape from their flat
on Grenfell's 20th floor.
Six months on, Mary's cousin
pays tribute to them.
They were inseparable.
When you saw one, you saw the other.
They was very close.
Their personalities were just...
24-year-old Khadija was a rising
artist, becoming recognised
on the world stage.
Earlier this year the BBC filmed
in her Grenfell flat,
which doubled up as her art studio.
Back in central London,
Khadija Saye is here with her mum.
Both my parents are from Gambia,
and my mother is Christian
and my father is Muslim,
and it's one of the first times I've
been able to explore it
through my photography.
And she recently featured
in a Venice exhibition.
It's not every day an artist
makes their Venice debut.
They look amazing on the
wall, they really do.
Are you happy?
Yeah, extremely happy.
It's real now.
The saddest thing about it,
you know, she was asked "Where do
you see yourself in ten years?"
And to think not even ten
days later she is cut...
She's worked so hard, the world
was just becoming her oyster,
and to be cut down in your prime
like that is...
What Clarrie wants now
is justice for her family.
Every grain of sand
needs to be unturned.
So as long as we get it right,
yeah, let's do the job.
Meanwhile, the head
of the Metropolitan Police has made
it clear again today that relatives
hoping for quick answers
to what happened at Grenfell Tower
are likely to be disappointed.
With more on this,
Chris Rogers joins me now.
This is Cressida Dick making it
abundantly clear that the criminal
investigation will be painstakingly
When she explained why. Her
officers, 200, 400 at its peak, are
sifting through tonnes of debris,
thousands of files of evidence and
interviewing hundreds of people --
thousands of people. This will have
to be done before they feel they can
deliver any sort of conclusion. It
could be 2019 on many more years.
She is asking for more money from
the Government to do a better job.
She explained why it will be a
painstakingly slow investigation.
This will be a very significant,
very important matter
for the Metropolitan Police
for many, many, many months to come.
Indeed, I would be astonished
if we were finishing the criminal
investigation within 12 months.
I am sure it will be
much more than that.
Of course, families of victims are
desperate for answers a lot sooner
than 2019 and beyond. The focus will
be very much on them tomorrow with
that memorial service for the 71
people who died at St Paul's
Cathedral. It is a national tragedy,
so that service will be broadcast on
BBC One at 10:30am.
Now, we've had the walkie talkie,
the cheese grater, and now
the latest building to grace
the capital is the the Glass Cube.
With a price tag of around
£750 million the US Embassy could be
the most expensive embassy building
in the world.
Well, with its new home
by the Thames, security
is a top priority,
as Tolu Adeoye found out.
It is a striking building,
said to signify transparency,
openness and equality.
The new American Embassy in London
has been ten years in the making.
This has been one of those projects
that begins with the Bush
administration and approved then,
and starts design and construction
during the Obama administration
and is completed during the Trump
administration, but it's a building
designed for 60 to 100 years,
and it's going to probably transcend
maybe even ten presidencies.
Developing the site
has cost $1 billion.
Once it opens, 800 members of staff
will be based here and there will be
around 1000 visitors daily.
The security of the building is,
of course, a top priority.
Well, clearly they've spent
$1 billion on this building,
so you would expect bombproof glass,
bullet-proof glass, all those usual
features that would be considered.
The old embassy was effectively
within ten metres of roads,
it had a large public area in front,
so it was very difficult to defend
in terms of counterterrorism.
This building is effectively
an island site, so through excellent
use of architecture they've
distanced the building
from the threat.
You won't be able to approach
this building at speed.
Out front there's the lake,
there's bollards, so this
is going to be a very hard building
to target if you were a terrorist.
The embassy will be
operational from January,
but what of the ceremonial opening?
Do you hope President Trump will be
here to open the building in person?
Yes I do hope it, and we're
going to welcome him when he comes.
No date set.
So we will have to wait to find out
whether the president will be
here in person to open what has been
described as the centrepiece
of America's long-term
commitment to our country.
That's it for now from me, but let's
find out what the weather's up
That's it for now from me, but let's
find out what the weather's up
to with Stav Danaos.
Thanks very much. We have a few
showers around this thing tonight, a
little bit of winteriness over
higher ground. The showers should
begin to ease towards the second
part of the night and will be quite
breezy, stopping a frost developing.
Those in the City around two or
Tomorrow starts chilly, there should
be good spells of sunshine through
the day and a mixture of showers as
well. It will be quite windy,
blustery day. The wind 's strongest
across southern and western areas
where some will move through
proposed... Most places should stay
try, cooler than today, temperatures
of around six at best.
Things set to turn colder by Friday,
the low-pressure opens the
floodgates to the north. Quite a
quiet, calm day on Friday. No
showers around, quite a bit of cloud
through the morning, we should seek
sunshine pushing towards the north,
top temperatures five or six.
As we head into the weekend it is a
cold start to Saturday, things