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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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UK to get multi-million pound boost for grassroots cricket

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UK to get multi-million pound boost for grassroots cricket
Investment is expected to deliver 2,500 pieces of new equipment across schools, and help to get 930,000 pupils playing cricket

United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a £35 million investment in grassroots cricket facilities and widening access to the sport within state schools, enabling over 900,000 young people to play cricket over the next five years.

The investment, to be delivered across a period during which England and Wales host the 2026 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, the 2030 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and cricket returns to the Olympics for the first time in over 120 years, includes a major capital programme that will see 16 state-of-the-art all-weather cricket domes built within host cities across England.

The domes are covered and wind-protected and will allow for participation in cricket throughout the year – connecting school, community and talent programmes. Each dome will be built within diverse communities where figures have indicated low levels of physical activity. It follows the first cricket dome opened in Bradford in November last year.

The funding package will enable an extension to the ECB and Chance to Shine’s in-school cricket partnership. This will have a particular emphasis on children from lower socio-economic groups, and ensure that every school child in inner-city locations from across the 16 World Cup host cities will access the programme.

A further investment to the charity Lord’s Taverners will have a focus on access to cricket provision for 80,000 children with special educational needs and disabilities.

The total investment is expected to deliver around 2,500 pieces of new equipment across schools involved in the programmes, and help to get 930,000 pupils playing cricket over the next five years.

In addition, the ACE Programme will receive additional funding to support their work in reconnecting the Black community with cricket.

“I first experienced the magic of cricket watching Hampshire play at my local ground in Southampton as a child.

“There remains huge potential to grow the sport even further and open it up to everyone, from all backgrounds and in all parts of the country, building on the great work of organisations such as ACE and Chance to Shine.

“That is why I am so proud we are making a major £35 million investment in grassroots cricket today, to widen participation in schools, encourage healthy lifestyles and provide world class, all-year-round facilities for local communities,” said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

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European Forum pledges over €7.7 billion for global crises

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European Humanitarian Forum pledges over €7.7 billion for global crises
Nearly 300 million people around the world will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2024.

Nearly 300 million people around the world will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2024. The EU will provide more than €7.7 billion in humanitarian funding for 2024, following the European Humanitarian Forum which gathered leaders and humanitarian experts in Brussels. The money will go towards more efficient, long-term solutions to global humanitarian challenges.

The Forum’s participants agreed to increase funding to address the gap between humanitarian needs and available resources. Increase in climate financing for conflict-affected, climate-vulnerable areas is also on the cards, as well as address conflict and preserve humanitarian space, notably in the deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip.

The European Humanitarian Forum was co-organised by the European Commission and the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU last month, gathering 1,400 representatives from across the humanitarian community, EU countries and beyond.

Currently the EU is one of the biggest aid donors in the world, with funds being used for intervention in areas such as food and nutrition, shelter, healthcare, water, sanitation, and education.

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Grants for community projects in the UK open for applications

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Grants for community projects in the UK open for applications
The scheme offers support to projects which benefit both rail passengers and local communities | Photo: Kenny Eliason

Community rail projects have been given the green light thanks to funding from London Northwestern Railway (LNR).

Grants of between £10,000 and £100,000 have been made available via the “Your Community, Your Fund” scheme which offers support to projects which benefit both rail passengers and local communities.

The scheme, funded by the Department for Transport, is aimed at inspiring people to get involved with the railway and has been made available for applications by LNR.

“This funding is crucial for the railway and the vital projects make a real difference to local areas. The scheme has already supported a number of community-led projects in recent years and I am delighted that we have secured funding for new applications,” says Cara Higgs, LNR community strategy manager.

The funding is split between projects from LNR and its sister company West Midlands Railway (WMR).

Previously, projects have included enhancing Smethwick Rolfe Street with bedders, planters and artwork and the opening of a new tea room at Bricket Wood station in Hertfordshire.

The deadline for applications is 11.59pm Tuesday 16 April.

For more information visit www.lnr.uk/ycyf.

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