31/01/2018 London News


31/01/2018

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LineFromTo

Newsnight's about to begin over

on BBC Two in a few moments.

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Good evening,

I'm Asad Ahmad.

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For the second time

in a matter of days,

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residents in West London have

suffered flooding after a water main

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burst on a major road.

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Today's leak seriously damaged

some basement flats,

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while local businesses lost money.

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And the problem of flooding seems

to be getting worse,

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as more have now been recorded,

than at any time in the past decade.

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Here's Jim Wheble.

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Another high street flooded,

thanks to a burst water main.

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This time Goldhawk Road,

Shepherd's Bush, which started

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gushing at 3am this morning.

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OK, show us then what's been

going on down there.

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And another shop owner flooded out.

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It's the fourth time in the last

10 years it's happened

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here to Brian Mitchell.

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This is what we came down to see.

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Right.

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I mean, the water is still sort

of flowing in, isn't it?

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Yeah, still flowing in.

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What does this mean for you here?

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We had to close down the studio

and then we had to close down

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the shops upstairs as well.

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Next door to Brian, it's even worse.

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Well, this is Olga's

flat and you can see

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it's completely flooded.

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We're in the sort of basement level

here and there's all sorts

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of stuff floating around.

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I've got a mop here,

just floated its way over to me.

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She's managed to take some

of her possessions out,

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but she's literally too

upset to talk.

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Two bin bags.

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And if this seems strangely

familiar, well that's

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because on the weekend a different

burst water main on King Street,

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in Hammersmith, much

the same consequences.

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Of course, London's Victorian water

main infrastructure doesn't help,

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but some say Thames Water just

aren't doing enough.

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It's not as though that issue has

been unknown to Thames Water

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and they've only just discovered it,

so that's where my sympathy ends,

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and I do think it's time for them

to step up and to get those

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detection, the technology

into the pipes, so they can start

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telling us which pipes are the most

likely to burst and to try

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and prevent rather than then trying

to solve the problem.

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So we know that investment

on our network is really,

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really important to our customers

and that's why, for the year that's

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just gone and the next two years,

we've increased the investment

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in our large pipes -

those are big pipes over

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12 inches in width -

by the tune of £90 million and why

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the next period between 2020

and 2025 we're aiming

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to double our investment.

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As part of our business plan

processes, we're testing that

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with our customers as we speak.

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So the floodwater on Goldhawk

Road now has receded.

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The engineers have got things

pretty much under control,

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but there will be people throughout

the night who will have no water

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or very low pressure.

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There are bottles of water available

here as well as a liaison officers

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from Thames Water who will be

here throughout the night.

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Thames Water features

in our next story too,

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because this programme has learnt

that tens of thousands of Londoners

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could be about to get a pay-out

from their local council.

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That's because nearly half

of London's councils have been

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unfairly billing their tenants

for their tap water.

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Alex Bushill can tell us how,

in his exclusive report.

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Getting rinsed for your water bills.

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Lorraine is a council tenant

on a low income but now high

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on the list of those due a pay-out,

running perhaps to

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hundreds of pounds.

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It could have benefited

me in a lot of ways -

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food, paying bills, I wouldn't have

been struggling so much.

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To actually live, day-to-day.

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So what's gone wrong for Lorraine

and so many others like her?

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Well, this is what you'd expect

to see - Thames Water selling

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direct to its customers.

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Instead, though, some councils got

involved as a middleman, reselling

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the water to their tenants.

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What's more, Southwark didn't pass

on the discounts that it was given

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by Thames Water for buying in bulk.

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It's also worth stressing

that if tenants now fell

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into arrears with the council,

effectively their landlord,

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they could face eviction orders.

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Lorraine says that's exactly

what happened to her.

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If I was paying my water bill

directly to the water company,

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I would not be allowed,

they would not be allowed

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to cut my water off.

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They would have to take me

to court themselves

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and I wouldn't face eviction.

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I think it's really disgraceful.

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Our investigation has revealed that

Lorraine is far from alone.

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We've identified a total of 269

recent cases where the evictions

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of tenants did include an unfair

claim for water rate arrears.

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Now, 14 councils in and around

London have confirmed they did enter

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into similar deals with water

companies, of whom eight councils

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said they generated £33 million

from those agreements between them.

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Now, at least 170,000 tenants may

now be getting a pay out.

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Wandsworth Council has already paid

back £5.9 million in total.

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Waltham Forest has set

aside £4.3 million,

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and Lorraine's Council,

Enfield, set aside £2.2 million.

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As for Thames Water,

they say they've never

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received any charges over

and above the authorised tariff.

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What's more, they are now working

with local authorities,

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reviewing contracts to ensure

customers pay the correct amount.

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Lorraine's case is now

being investigated by lawyers

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seeking to bring a joint class

action for all those affected.

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They say even where councils

are already paying out,

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a closer look may be needed.

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Some of them are saying

that they are waiting for a legal

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challenge and they are not

going to pay a single thing.

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Others are trying to make small

payments below the radar.

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Some tenants are having

small payments, £50,

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that kind of amount,

made into their bank account

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or credited against arrears.

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Some councils are clearly hoping

that they can dispose of this

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problem to a few people at a massive

discount against the true

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compensation that should be paid.

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Enfield Council also say

they have had no complaint

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from Lorraine as yet,

but are happy to discuss

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one when they do.

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They have also changed their policy

so they are compliant.

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Alex Bushell, BBC London News.

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In other news...

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Police officers were called-in

to take control of a Royal Borough

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of Greenwich council meeting this

evening, after protestors shouted

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over a speech about why

an unofficial shrine to murdered

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soldier Lee Rigby had been

removed from the spot

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where he was murdered nearly

five years ago.

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Council Leader, Denise Hyland said

far-right groups used the shrine

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"for their own causes"

and Fusilier Rigby's family

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supported its removal.

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The meeting was temporarily stopped.

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A prisoner has been stabbed

to death at Wormwood Scrubs

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jail in East Acton.

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Scotland Yard said the victim

was found with a number

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of knife wounds this afternoon

and died at the scene.

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Just last month, inspectors said

the jail

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has high levels of

"serious violence".

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The Mayor of London delivered on one

of his election pledges today.

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The new unlimited hopper bus fare

means you can take as many

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journeys as you want in an hour.

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But, we can reveal that

the Mayor also has plans

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to cut bus services,

after figures show a big drop

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in passenger numbers.

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Here's our Transport

Correspondent, Tom Edwards.

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If you've noticed it can take longer

to get a bus, you're not wrong.

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Services in London are being cut,

and the bad news is it's

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going to get worse, and buses

are the most used form

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of public transport,

with 6 million journeys a day.

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Generally, I mean the bus service

I use is pretty regular,

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but other services are not so good.

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The only thing I can't complain

about actually is the drivers.

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Are they regular, are they frequent?

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Yes, when I use them they are, yeah.

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The latest figures show that

in 2016, buses travelled

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495 million kilometres.

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In 2017 it fell to 490

million - a drop of 1%.

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And, during that period, passengers

nnumbers fell by 32 million.

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That's blamed on congestion,

the rise of minicab

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apps and even Netflix.

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But the Mayor wants to make further

cuts to the bus service.

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He wants to reduce the total bus

mileage by 7% by 2022.

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This morning, the Mayor

launched his hopper fare,

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meaning unlimited bus trips

within an hour.

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You've got passenger

numbers coming down,

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you've cut bus mileage.

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Is the bus service

in London in decline?

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No, not at all.

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I'm committed to buses in London.

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As far as outer London is concerned,

you'll see more buses.

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In central London, for very good

reasons, there'll be fewer buses

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because of the Elizabeth Line coming

in and the Oxford Street

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pedestrianisation.

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But actually, we want to make

sure buses are where

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they are needed the most.

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What nobody wants to see is empty

double-decker buses driving

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across the centre of London

with nobody using them.

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What we do want to see is buses

in those parts of London

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where Londoners desperately need

more buses and with the unlimited

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hopper, it makes it far more

attractive going forward than it has

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in the past.

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The unlimited hopper will cost

£35 million every year.

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TfL's finances are already

under strain, and it

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will mean more efficiencies.

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The hopper will increase

the number of bus journeys

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being made in London,

but it reduces our income

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by a little bit because people get

a second journey free.

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The unlimited hopper makes more

journeys free and it has a small

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impact on our budget.

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But as the Mayor has said,

TfL has been on a path of reducing

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costs quite aggressively in the past

few years and that will

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pay for the hopper.

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The Mayor says the hopper fare

will bring back passengers.

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Its critics say it is not worth

paying, with a worse

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service for passengers.

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Tom Edwards, BBC London News.

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That's it for now from me,

but let's find out what

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the weathers up to with Helen.

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I don't know if you have seen the

moon everyone has been talking

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about.

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moon everyone has been talking

about.

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Good evening. This is one of the

beautiful photographs we have had

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sent in. No, it won't affect our

weather but our weather may affect

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the view. Not just rain on the way

but as the skies cloud over we could

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see a real wintry mix, a bit of

sleet and snow. It should clear for

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the most part before the morning

rush, but look at the temperatures.

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Falling back close to freezing. They

will fall to freezing on the roads

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and pavements, they will be wet

following the rain and sleet and

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snow so there is a Met Office be

prepared ice warning for the rest of

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the evening, overnight and the

morning rush. Although tomorrow

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looks sparkling, we will be scraping

the ice when the morning. A further

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few showers to combat the wind

really will make it feel

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significantly colder than

temperatures adjust. A little sweet

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and hail as well. Here is

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