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Newsnight's about to begin over
on BBC Two in a few moments.
I'm Asad Ahmad.
For the second time
in a matter of days,
residents in West London have
suffered flooding after a water main
burst on a major road.
Today's leak seriously damaged
some basement flats,
while local businesses lost money.
And the problem of flooding seems
to be getting worse,
as more have now been recorded,
than at any time in the past decade.
Here's Jim Wheble.
Another high street flooded,
thanks to a burst water main.
This time Goldhawk Road,
Shepherd's Bush, which started
gushing at 3am this morning.
OK, show us then what's been
going on down there.
And another shop owner flooded out.
It's the fourth time in the last
10 years it's happened
here to Brian Mitchell.
This is what we came down to see.
I mean, the water is still sort
of flowing in, isn't it?
Yeah, still flowing in.
What does this mean for you here?
We had to close down the studio
and then we had to close down
the shops upstairs as well.
Next door to Brian, it's even worse.
Well, this is Olga's
flat and you can see
it's completely flooded.
We're in the sort of basement level
here and there's all sorts
of stuff floating around.
I've got a mop here,
just floated its way over to me.
She's managed to take some
of her possessions out,
but she's literally too
upset to talk.
Two bin bags.
And if this seems strangely
familiar, well that's
because on the weekend a different
burst water main on King Street,
in Hammersmith, much
the same consequences.
Of course, London's Victorian water
main infrastructure doesn't help,
but some say Thames Water just
aren't doing enough.
It's not as though that issue has
been unknown to Thames Water
and they've only just discovered it,
so that's where my sympathy ends,
and I do think it's time for them
to step up and to get those
detection, the technology
into the pipes, so they can start
telling us which pipes are the most
likely to burst and to try
and prevent rather than then trying
to solve the problem.
So we know that investment
on our network is really,
really important to our customers
and that's why, for the year that's
just gone and the next two years,
we've increased the investment
in our large pipes -
those are big pipes over
12 inches in width -
by the tune of £90 million and why
the next period between 2020
and 2025 we're aiming
to double our investment.
As part of our business plan
processes, we're testing that
with our customers as we speak.
So the floodwater on Goldhawk
Road now has receded.
The engineers have got things
pretty much under control,
but there will be people throughout
the night who will have no water
or very low pressure.
There are bottles of water available
here as well as a liaison officers
from Thames Water who will be
here throughout the night.
Thames Water features
in our next story too,
because this programme has learnt
that tens of thousands of Londoners
could be about to get a pay-out
from their local council.
That's because nearly half
of London's councils have been
unfairly billing their tenants
for their tap water.
Alex Bushill can tell us how,
in his exclusive report.
Getting rinsed for your water bills.
Lorraine is a council tenant
on a low income but now high
on the list of those due a pay-out,
running perhaps to
hundreds of pounds.
It could have benefited
me in a lot of ways -
food, paying bills, I wouldn't have
been struggling so much.
To actually live, day-to-day.
So what's gone wrong for Lorraine
and so many others like her?
Well, this is what you'd expect
to see - Thames Water selling
direct to its customers.
Instead, though, some councils got
involved as a middleman, reselling
the water to their tenants.
What's more, Southwark didn't pass
on the discounts that it was given
by Thames Water for buying in bulk.
It's also worth stressing
that if tenants now fell
into arrears with the council,
effectively their landlord,
they could face eviction orders.
Lorraine says that's exactly
what happened to her.
If I was paying my water bill
directly to the water company,
I would not be allowed,
they would not be allowed
to cut my water off.
They would have to take me
to court themselves
and I wouldn't face eviction.
I think it's really disgraceful.
Our investigation has revealed that
Lorraine is far from alone.
We've identified a total of 269
recent cases where the evictions
of tenants did include an unfair
claim for water rate arrears.
Now, 14 councils in and around
London have confirmed they did enter
into similar deals with water
companies, of whom eight councils
said they generated £33 million
from those agreements between them.
Now, at least 170,000 tenants may
now be getting a pay out.
Wandsworth Council has already paid
back £5.9 million in total.
Waltham Forest has set
aside £4.3 million,
and Lorraine's Council,
Enfield, set aside £2.2 million.
As for Thames Water,
they say they've never
received any charges over
and above the authorised tariff.
What's more, they are now working
with local authorities,
reviewing contracts to ensure
customers pay the correct amount.
Lorraine's case is now
being investigated by lawyers
seeking to bring a joint class
action for all those affected.
They say even where councils
are already paying out,
a closer look may be needed.
Some of them are saying
that they are waiting for a legal
challenge and they are not
going to pay a single thing.
Others are trying to make small
payments below the radar.
Some tenants are having
small payments, £50,
that kind of amount,
made into their bank account
or credited against arrears.
Some councils are clearly hoping
that they can dispose of this
problem to a few people at a massive
discount against the true
compensation that should be paid.
Enfield Council also say
they have had no complaint
from Lorraine as yet,
but are happy to discuss
one when they do.
They have also changed their policy
so they are compliant.
Alex Bushell, BBC London News.
In other news...
Police officers were called-in
to take control of a Royal Borough
of Greenwich council meeting this
evening, after protestors shouted
over a speech about why
an unofficial shrine to murdered
soldier Lee Rigby had been
removed from the spot
where he was murdered nearly
five years ago.
Council Leader, Denise Hyland said
far-right groups used the shrine
"for their own causes"
and Fusilier Rigby's family
supported its removal.
The meeting was temporarily stopped.
A prisoner has been stabbed
to death at Wormwood Scrubs
jail in East Acton.
Scotland Yard said the victim
was found with a number
of knife wounds this afternoon
and died at the scene.
Just last month, inspectors said
has high levels of
The Mayor of London delivered on one
of his election pledges today.
The new unlimited hopper bus fare
means you can take as many
journeys as you want in an hour.
But, we can reveal that
the Mayor also has plans
to cut bus services,
after figures show a big drop
in passenger numbers.
Here's our Transport
Correspondent, Tom Edwards.
If you've noticed it can take longer
to get a bus, you're not wrong.
Services in London are being cut,
and the bad news is it's
going to get worse, and buses
are the most used form
of public transport,
with 6 million journeys a day.
Generally, I mean the bus service
I use is pretty regular,
but other services are not so good.
The only thing I can't complain
about actually is the drivers.
Are they regular, are they frequent?
Yes, when I use them they are, yeah.
The latest figures show that
in 2016, buses travelled
495 million kilometres.
In 2017 it fell to 490
million - a drop of 1%.
And, during that period, passengers
nnumbers fell by 32 million.
That's blamed on congestion,
the rise of minicab
apps and even Netflix.
But the Mayor wants to make further
cuts to the bus service.
He wants to reduce the total bus
mileage by 7% by 2022.
This morning, the Mayor
launched his hopper fare,
meaning unlimited bus trips
within an hour.
You've got passenger
numbers coming down,
you've cut bus mileage.
Is the bus service
in London in decline?
No, not at all.
I'm committed to buses in London.
As far as outer London is concerned,
you'll see more buses.
In central London, for very good
reasons, there'll be fewer buses
because of the Elizabeth Line coming
in and the Oxford Street
But actually, we want to make
sure buses are where
they are needed the most.
What nobody wants to see is empty
double-decker buses driving
across the centre of London
with nobody using them.
What we do want to see is buses
in those parts of London
where Londoners desperately need
more buses and with the unlimited
hopper, it makes it far more
attractive going forward than it has
in the past.
The unlimited hopper will cost
£35 million every year.
TfL's finances are already
under strain, and it
will mean more efficiencies.
The hopper will increase
the number of bus journeys
being made in London,
but it reduces our income
by a little bit because people get
a second journey free.
The unlimited hopper makes more
journeys free and it has a small
impact on our budget.
But as the Mayor has said,
TfL has been on a path of reducing
costs quite aggressively in the past
few years and that will
pay for the hopper.
The Mayor says the hopper fare
will bring back passengers.
Its critics say it is not worth
paying, with a worse
service for passengers.
Tom Edwards, BBC London News.
That's it for now from me,
but let's find out what
the weathers up to with Helen.
I don't know if you have seen the
moon everyone has been talking
moon everyone has been talking
Good evening. This is one of the
beautiful photographs we have had
sent in. No, it won't affect our
weather but our weather may affect
the view. Not just rain on the way
but as the skies cloud over we could
see a real wintry mix, a bit of
sleet and snow. It should clear for
the most part before the morning
rush, but look at the temperatures.
Falling back close to freezing. They
will fall to freezing on the roads
and pavements, they will be wet
following the rain and sleet and
snow so there is a Met Office be
prepared ice warning for the rest of
the evening, overnight and the
morning rush. Although tomorrow
looks sparkling, we will be scraping
the ice when the morning. A further
few showers to combat the wind
really will make it feel
significantly colder than
temperatures adjust. A little sweet
and hail as well. Here is