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London Eye may become a permanent attraction in England

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The London Eye at the Southbank area of London
The London Eye, or the Millennium Wheel, was launched in 2000 and attracts more than 3.5 million people every year | Photo: Clement Felix

Merlin Entertainments has confirmed it is taking steps to secure a permanent future for the iconic London Eye.

Created as part of the millennium celebrations more than 20 years ago, the 135m-tall observation wheel opened to passengers in 2000 and has since become one of the UK’s most popular paid-for visitor attractions.

Its planning permission, however, includes a condition which requires the local planning authority to decide whether the attraction can be retained beyond 2028.

Merlin, which operates the attraction, as well more than 140 attractions in 24 countries around the world – including Madame Tussauds and Legoland – is now seeking to discharge the planning condition to enable the Eye to be kept in place permanently.

According to Mike Vallis, Merlin’s divisional director for midway attractions, the company is aiming to remove the clause through a forthcoming application to Lambeth Council, the local planning authority.

“The London Eye is a UK success story with a global reach,” Vallis said.

“When it first opened at the turn of the century, no-one could have envisaged it would become synonymous with all that is great about our capital city.

“As the capital’s most visited paid for attraction, it continues to be enjoyed by millions of guests every year, it is now time for us to secure its long-term future through this application to Lambeth Council.

“Over the summer, we have seen a significant (post-pandemic) return of international visitors, set to rise further over the coming years.

Merlin is currently engaged in pre-application discussions with Lambeth Council and will be submitting a discharge of condition application in spring 2023.

The Council will then assess the continued acceptability of the London Eye in this location.

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Officers implement new tactics to protect women in central London

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Officers implement new tactics to protect women in central London
On a recent patrol officers stopped eight men who raised suspicions, subsequently arresting six of them for offenses

Met officers patrolling the London West End are now using new training to identify predatory behavior, addressing concerns for the safety of women and girls.

The training, originally developed for counter-terrorism policing, equips officers to spot signs and behavioral cues of potential offenders. It has been rolled out to officers patrolling London streets to protect women and girls at risk of violence.

This initiative is part of the Met’s proactive operation, ‘Project Vigilant’, where officers conduct plain-clothed patrols, monitor live CCTV, and have uniformed officers on standby to respond and intervene when necessary.

“The Met is committed in tackling sexual offenders and rebuilding trust amongst women and girls in local communities. It is devastating that women and girls are not able to enjoy a night out with friends due to the potential harm they could face at the hands of predatory men. We remain focused in creating a safe space for women and girls and encourage all victims of violence or sexual violence come forward to help bring offenders to justice,” says Sargeant Augustine Anyaegbuna of the Westminster neighbourhood team.

On the most recent Vigilant patrol, officers stopped eight men who raised suspicions. Six of these were subsequently arrested for offenses including sexual assault, drug possession, robbery, and theft.

Beyond the streets of the capital, domestic abuse remains a significant issue across the country. According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, an estimated 2.1 million people aged 16 and over (1.4 million women and 751,000 men) experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2023.

However, the most recent data from the Office for National Statistics shows a slight decrease in domestic abuse-related prosecutions. There were 51,288 prosecutions in England and Wales for the year ending March 2023, down from 53,207 in the previous year.

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Channel 4’s Writers Scheme Welcomes 20 UK Authors

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Channel 4's New Writers Scheme Welcomes 20 UK Authors
Twenty people from across the UK have joined a Channel 4 scheme designed to work with TV drama writers

Twenty people from across the UK have joined a Channel 4 scheme designed to work with TV drama writers in the West and South West of England and Wales, North of England, and Scotland – providing them with months of expert industry training, mentoring and support to develop their first pilot episode-spec script.

4Skills launched this year’s New Writers Scheme last week with an aim to nurture underrepresented writing talent, focussing on diverse, regional and authentic voices who have a flair for television drama.

Following the successful pilot in the West and South West of England in 2022, the programme has since expanded to work with participants located near Channel 4’s regional hubs: Bristol, Glasgow and Leeds. The writers will benefit from nine months of expert industry training and mentoring from scripted indies and a script editor, alongside feedback from Channel 4. 

As part of the kick-off, screenwriters from the regional hubs met at Channel 4’s Leeds office for three days of introductions, writing tips and training with NFTS trainer Hannah Robinson and heard from the experts including Nicola Shindler, Danny Brocklehurst, Helen Black and Director of Film4 & Channel 4 Drama, Ollie Madden.

“It was very exciting to meet with such a talented group of writers, who all bring an incredible depth of creativity, specificity and passion to their projects. I am truly looking forward to seeing how this year’s cohort develop their skills in the months ahead,” says Ollie Madden, Director of Film4 & Channel 4 Drama. 

The New Writers Scheme is funded and developed by 4Skills with Channel 4 Drama and supported by the BFI NETWORK (Film Hub South West and Film Hub North) alongside support from Screen Scotland. 

The initiative is one of many projects being supported by 4Skills, which provided more than 57,000 learning, training or development opportunities in 2023.

Kevin Blacoe, Channel 4’s Head of Partnerships & Skills, Nations & Regions said:

4Skills is designed to open doors for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds and various regions across the UK, providing opportunities for those who typically wouldn’t have access to the behind-the-scenes world of television.

By guiding them as they advance in their careers, we are also investing in the future of television. Our goal is to ensure that every voice, both on-screen and off, is heard and valued.”

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Go North East sponsor Durham Cricket’s Visually Impaired Team

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Go North East sponsor Durham Cricket's Visually Impaired Team
Durham’s Visually Impaired Cricket Team now plays in the England and Wales Cricket Board Development League | Photo: Gavin Forster

Go North East has announced the continuation of its partnership with Durham Cricket as the front-of-shirt sponsor of their Visually Impaired team until 2025.

First founded in June 2007, Durham’s Visually Impaired Cricket Team now plays in the England and Wales Cricket Board Development League, against 11 other teams.

Visually Impaired (VI) cricket is a specially adapted version of the game that is suitable for anyone with a visual impairment – whether partially sighted or totally blind.

Ben Maxfield, Business Director, commented, “We are thrilled to be supporting the Visually Impaired Team at Durham Cricket again this year. At Go North East, we are dedicated to making our services accessible to everyone, and our buses are equipped with next-stop audio announcements to assist visually impaired passengers. This sponsorship is a natural extension of our commitment to inclusivity and supporting our community. We look forward to seeing the team’s success in the coming season.”

Tom Seymour, the Commercial Director for Durham Cricket said, “We are delighted to have Go North East, a local company connecting the region, renew their partnership and sponsorship of the Visually Impaired Team.”

He continued, “We’d like to thank them for their continued support for this programme and further showing the commitment we have here at Durham Cricket in creating an inclusive and welcoming space in the sport.”

For more information about the team, visit Visually Impaired Cricket – Durham Cricket

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