19/02/2018 London News


19/02/2018

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LineFromTo

Now on BBC one it's time

for the news where you are.

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Good evening.

I'm Riz Lateef.

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First tonight - an insight

into the state of some

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of London's worst prisons.

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A serving officer has told us -

the shortage of staff

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makes her feel vulnerable.

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It comes amid concerns

about a recruitment crisis

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across the capital's jails,

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as Caroline Davies reports.

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I want my property!

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Violence, drugs, drones, self harm,

suicide and even murders.

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This is the state of London's

prisons, and according to some

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critics, the lack of staff

is making it worse.

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I've been working at prisons more

than 30 years and I have never seen

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them in such a terrible state.

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It is very bad for prisoners

and the public because it means

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the prisoners are locked up all day

and dumped back on the street angry

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and bitter and more likely

to commit another crime.

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At the end of 2016, the Government

said it would recruit an extra

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2,500 prison officers

across England and Wales.

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So how many new officers

have been recruited

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across London's eight prisons?

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There has been a net

gain of only 22.

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I really enjoyed it when I first

started,

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I loved the buzz and that,

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then it rapidly changed.

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This woman is an officer

in a London prison.

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We have concealed her identity

and dubbed her voice to protect her.

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There are no staff any more,

they come in but as quickly

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as they do, people are leaving.

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There are people who have been

there 15 years and remember

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when there were four officers

on a landing and now

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there is only one.

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What is it like when you're

just the one person?

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You get worried because what if

you are the one that

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gets attacked that day

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and you can't get

a whistle to your mouth?

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You better hope those prisoners

like you because they will be

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the ones saving your life.

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People will be shocked to hear

you rely on the prisoners

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to keep you safe?

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It is the truth, because there is no

one with you on the landing.

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You have

to rely on prisoners.

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What did the Ministry

of Justice's figures say

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about the picture in London?

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There might be 22 more officers

across London overall but some

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prisons have even fewer staff

than before the Government started

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this recruitment drive.

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Belmarsh Prison has 22 fewer

officers, Pentonville 20

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and Wormwood Scrubs 15.

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The prison service recruited just

over 4,500 new officers

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across England and Wales last year

but they also lost nearly 2,000.

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And almost 500 of those were

in their first year in a prison.

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Rachel used to be a prison officer

in London but after less than

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18 months, she quit.

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She said there was little

time for rehabilitation.

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Quite a lot of them are only

young and they are coming in

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and being thrown into prison,

rightfully so, but they are being

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put into a cell and locked away

for three days straight.

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I was the one giving them the phone

calls and letting them out

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to have a phone call and letting

them out to have a shower.

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That to me is basic humanity,

and they can't even get that

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because of a lack of staff.

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So what would make a difference

to those still working

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in London's prisons?

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Staff, to begin with anyway.

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I think I would feel more secure

if there was more staff.

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Both sides are clear what's needed

but while staff are leaving

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because of staff shortages,

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the prison system in London seems

stuck in a vicious circle.

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Alpa Patel is here

with more on this.

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What is the Ministry

of Justice saying about this?

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Well, the Ministry of Justice says

that it is on course to recruit

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2,500 prison of this is and the

Justice Secretary told us that

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staffing is the golden thread needed

to improve our presence, but as we

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saw in Caroline's report, it is

retention that is the real key here,

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especially of those experienced

officers who can deal with changing

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and dangerous situations in prison

is better than new recruits can.

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We've spoken to the Prison Officers

Association, who say the real

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problem over retention is pay,

prison officers aren't paid enough

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to either keep them in post or

recruit them to the posts that are

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needed and until that changes,

retention will continue to be a

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problem here in London.

OK, thanks

very much for that.

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News that celebrity chef

Jamie Oliver is selling his two

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London steakhouses has highlighted

some of the challenges

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facing restaurateurs more

widely in the capital.

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Others claim that high rents

and business rates are forcing them

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to take drastic measures

or face closure.

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Here's Chris Rogers.

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Business has been good

for the owners of this restaurant

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in Hackney but they are closing

the restaurant next week.

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Despite all the hard work

and awards, the rising costs of rent

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and rates mean they need to start

again, with a new name

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and a cheaper location

of Shoreditch but it comes

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at the cost of their Michelin star.

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Frankly, the rents in Shoreditch

are cheaper for us,

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so straightaway that is the reality

of what we are doing.

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As much as I love this

neighbourhood, I think it's

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a business and we've got

to do what's right.

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This is the latest London restaurant

to shut just in the last few days,

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yet it has won loads

of awards, look at this.

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So what is going on?

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One of the main issues is there

are simply too many restaurants.

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Dozens are closing and

opening all the time.

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Add to that the rising cost of food,

the higher minimum wage,

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a weak pound and Brexit

and you have the perfect storm

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according to this restaurant

owner and consultant.

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There is a shrinking labour market

because of issues with Brexit

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and people not coming to the UK,

it is harder to employ.

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A lot of the key positions,

more senior positions,

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you're having to pay way over

the odds to get people.

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It is just a real struggle.

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The bite of rising costs is also

felt by some of the big chains,

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among them chef Jamie Oliver.

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He is closing some

of his restaurants.

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His steakhouse in Piccadilly

was closed today.

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While burger chain Byron is to close

up to 20 restaurants.

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Announcements like that are bound

to shake the confidence

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of the smaller London Independents.

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There is only so much business out

there and only so much

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money to be had.

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I think this will be a bloodbath,

frankly, this year.

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And that's always a necessary part

of the cycle of life.

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Some analysts say the winners

will be the cheaper home

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delivery companies.

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A little far-fetched perhaps,

but as rising rents cause

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restaurants to raise their menu cost

or close, the likes of

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Next - it's proving

to be a hard sell.

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Commuters are complaining

about the comfort of seats on some

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new trains on Thameslink routes.

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The train operator says it meets

strict fire safety regulations.

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But is there cause for concern?

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Our transport correspondent

Tom Edwards has been finding out.

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These new Class 700 trains

are spacious and airy,

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but as well as having fewer seats,

some commuters think

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the cushioning is like concrete.

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On this service this

morning to St Albans,

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mainly uncomfortable agreement.

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It's really uncomfortable,

it's ridiculous.

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I can't believe this is a new train.

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There's not much legroom.

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Yeah.

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And the backs are a bit

narrow for my liking.

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If you're sitting next

to a stranger especially.

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Then you're practically

on top of them, yeah.

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Do you find them hard, the seats?

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Very hard.

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As you can see.

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Soft seats, in my country the seats

is really different,

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we don't have like these things,

the blue ones, so for me

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it's great, I like it.

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Complaints about train

seats aren't new.

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The latest trains on Great Western

have also drawn criticism.

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These trains on the Thameslink

Bedford to Brighton route

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are now being rolled out

on the Great Northern

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to Peterborough.

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Then I'd like you to lift your

buttocks upwards, just slowly.

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At this clinic in Maidenhead,

they're used to treating

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commuters' aches and pains.

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They say, over time, new harder

seats could make matters worse.

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The thing is, people's bodies

don't adapt that easily.

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I mean they're actually,

if you think about it,

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often sitting in an office,

at an office desk all day.

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They may be using

a computer all day.

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They may try and take exercise

breaks, but fundamentally,

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if their commute is uncomfortable

on a hard seat as well,

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it's just adding more insult

to injury, in a sense.

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The train companies say these seats

have to meet the strict criteria set

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by the Department for Transport,

and that means they have to meet

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strict fire regulations

and be graffiti proof.

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But others say what this is really

about is cost-cutting.

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We will shortly be

arriving at Three Bridges.

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Passengers have also complained

about a lack of legroom,

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and with no plans to change

the cushioning, commuters will have

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to get used to seats that one

compared to an ironing board.

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I'll say good night

and it's over to Phil Avery

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for this week's weather.

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for this week's weather.

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My word, hard seeds and a pretty

damp commute this morning, it was

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certainly wet when I skipped out the

door to catch the bin men and Dave

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in King's Cross also captured the

scene and I'm sure he can send

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something similar tomorrow because

there will be rain at times. A lot

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of cloud around, two weather fronts

close to the British Isles, one then

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the eastern side and a cold front

out towards the west which we will

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see eventually but overnight, even

though the breezes from the north, I

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think with quite a bit of cloud

around, the temperatures really

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won't slip away very far, no

scraping up the cars tomorrow

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morning but it will be a lead and

start to Tuesday. Then the cold

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front I was talking about will drift

across us. Not much rain to the west

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of the capital but over to the east,

it may integrate but behind it, some

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of the low-level cloud will

disappear and we will be looking at

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temperatures pretty much on a par

with today, nine or 10 degrees. Is

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there any end to the dank weather?

Yes, there is, as we go through

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Wednesday and Thursday and into the

weekend, at high pressure will keep

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the Atlantic runs at bay and there

will be a fair amount of dry weather

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around. So that is good. But

sunshine will initially be in short

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supply. It may just poke out a wee

bit later on but you will see the

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trend here is for temperatures to

really fall away, as far ahead as

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the weekend. We're looking at six or

seven or 8 degrees and into the

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start-up next week, it will feel

much, much cooler. There could be a

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passing wintry shower

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