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Brixton Academy will be allowed to reopen after deadly crowd crush if it can meet 77 ‘robust’ safety conditions | UK News

The Brixton Academy will be allowed to reopen after a fatal crowd crush at the venue last year – but Lambeth Council said the venue will have to meet 77 conditions to open again safely.

It comes after security guard Gaby Hutchinson, 23, and Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, died at the south London venue on 15 December 2022, when fans without tickets tried to enter a show by Nigerian Afrobeat artist, Asake.

Both victims were in the foyer of the building when they were critically injured, the Metropolitan Police said. About 1,000 people were outside the venue at the time.

The council said the Academy will have to meet 77 “extensive and robust” conditions “designed to promote public safety” before it could reopen, in a decision announced today.

Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, of Newham. Pic: Met Police
Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, of Newham. Pic: Met Police

Gabrielle Hutchinson has been named as the second woman to have died after a crush at the Asake concert in Brixton on Thursday
Gabrielle Hutchinson

Following the crush, which also injured 10 people, the venue was ordered to shut down after its licence was suspended by Lambeth Council in December.

A hearing of the council’s licensing subcommittee to decide the venue’s ultimate fate began on Monday.

The initial decision to close Brixton Academy was supported by the venue’s owner, Academy Music Group, which offered to voluntarily close the site’s doors over the suspension period.

The Metropolitan Police has also previously urged the council to act.

Gerald Gouriet KC, who represented the Met at an earlier licensing meeting, said officers found “large-scale disorder” with crowds eventually pushing the doors open in the moments before the crush.

A police investigation was launched, and the Security Industry Authority (SIA) opened an inquiry into corruption allegations that some security staff at the venue regularly took bribes.

Read more:
Families of victims will ‘never stop’ in search for justice
Probe into corrupt security claims

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‘People need to be held accountable’

Meanwhile, a petition was launched calling for the venue to reopen. It surpassed 100,000 signatures.

Members of well-known bands, such as Blur and The Chemical Brothers, supported the reopening of the venue.

Asake was forced to abandon the gig last December after performing three songs and released a statement saying his “heart is with those who were injured”.

His manager, Stephen Nana, later told Sky News he was “completely speechless and lost for words” after Ms Hutchinson’s death was announced.

American XL bully dogs to be banned after attacks, Rishi Sunak says | UK News

American XL bully dogs are a danger to communities and will banned, Rishi Sunak has said, following a spate of recent attacks.

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.

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Father among three charged with murder of 10-year-old Sara Sharif | UK News

Three people have been charged with the murder of 10-year-old Sara Sharif.

Surrey Police said the Crown Prosecution Service authorised charges against Sara’s father, Urfan Sharif, 41, his partner, Beinash Batool, 29, and his brother, Faisal Malik, 28, all of Hammond Road, Woking.

They have also been charged with causing or allowing the death of a child.

All three will appear before magistrates in Guildford today.

They were arrested on Wednesday evening at Gatwick Airport as they disembarked a flight from Dubai.

In a statement, Surrey Police said: “Sara’s mother has been informed of this latest development and is being supported by specialist officers.”

Urfan Sharif, left and Beinash Batool. Pic: AP
Urfan Sharif, left, and Beinash Batool. Pic: AP

Faisal Shahzad Malik Sharif
Faisal Malik

The trio travelled to Pakistan a day before police discovered Sara’s body in her home in Woking on 10 August.

Five of Sara’s siblings, aged between one and 13 years old, also travelled to Pakistan on 9 August with them.

A post-mortem found Sara had suffered “multiple and extensive injuries” over a “sustained and extended” period of time.

Northern Lights could be visible for parts of the UK until Saturday | UK News

Skygazers across the UK have a chance to witness the Northern Lights until Saturday.

The Met Office forecast suggests the phenomenon, also known as the Aurora Borealis, could be visible to the naked eye along the northern horizon from Scotland, where skies are clear.

The Northern Lights may also illuminate the sky in Northern Ireland and northern England.

A minor enhancement to the aurora oval – which determines the range of polar lights – means the dazzling display is visible further south.

It is usually associated with Scandinavian countries in Europe, but can sometimes be seen in the UK.

People reported sightings across the nation on Wednesday – from as far south as Cornwall, as well as in Greater Manchester, Northumberland and the Lake District.

Lancaster University’s AuroraWatch, run by the Space and Planetary Physics group, issued a “red alert” on Wednesday, meaning “it is likely that aurora will be visible by eye and camera from anywhere in the UK”.

The activity is expected to start subsiding from Saturday.

How can you see the phenomenon?

Professor Don Pollacco, of the University of Warwick’s department of physics, said it would be difficult to predict exactly where the Northern Lights could be seen, because conditions change rapidly.

“However, one thing is for sure, and that is that you are unlikely to see them from a brightly lit city environment – you need to go somewhere dark and look towards the northern horizon [look for the North Star].

“So, you would preferably be in the countryside away from street lights. Of course, it also needs to clear.”

Explaining what the lights are, Professor Pollacco added: “The Northern Lights [Aurora Borealis] are caused by the interaction of particles coming from the sun, the solar wind, with the Earth’s atmosphere – channelled to the polar regions by the Earth’s magnetic field.

“It’s actually a bit like iron filings and the field of a bar magnetic.

“The solar wind contains more particles when there are sun spots, as these are regions on the sun’s surface where the magnetic field is interacting with the plasma in the sun, and the particles can be released.

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Pink Aurora Borealis seen in Canada

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Pink aurora seen over Ottawa

“Once the particles are channelled into the Earth’s atmosphere they interact with molecules and have distinctive colours and patterns such as light emissions that look like curtains or spotlights.

“These shapes over change quickly over timescales of minutes/seconds.”

According to the Royal Observatory Greenwich, different gases determine what colours light up the sky, with nitrogen and oxygen being the primary gases in Earth’s atmosphere.

Green in the aurora is a characteristic of oxygen, while purple, blue or pink hues are caused by nitrogen.

A deep red can sometimes be seen when the aurora is “particularly energetic”, as a result of very high altitude oxygen interacting with solar particles.

Boy, 16, stabbed in Johnstone as police launch attempted murder probe | UK News

A 16-year-old boy is in hospital after being stabbed in an attempted murder in Renfrewshire.

The teenager was attacked after being approached by two male youths at a bus stop across from Thorn Court in Johnstone at around 12.20pm on Wednesday.

Police Scotland said the victim was assaulted and stabbed after becoming involved in an altercation, with the force treating the incident as attempted murder.

Emergency services attended and the boy was taken to hospital, where medical staff describe his condition as stable.

The attackers fled through Thorn Court.

Both suspects are described as slim and in their mid to late-teens.

One had brown hair and was wearing a dark-coloured tracksuit top and bottoms, with the hood up or a baseball cap on.

The other suspect was wearing a light-coloured top and a bag around his chest.

The force said an 18-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday night in connection with the incident but has since been released pending further enquiries.

Officers are gathering relevant CCTV footage from the surrounding area for any additional information.

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Detective Inspector Nicky Beattie said: “At this stage the motive is unknown for this attack and a 16-year-old has been seriously injured.

“I am appealing to any members of the public who were in and around the area yesterday at the time of the incident to get in touch with us with any information, no matter how small.

“If you have any recording equipment, such as doorbell or dashcams, please check the footage as you could have images which would assist our ongoing enquiries.”

Scotland’s census: Population grows to record high of 5,436,600 | UK News

Scotland’s population has risen to a record 5,436,600, the latest census has revealed.

It is the highest ever recorded by Scotland’s census and is a rise of 141,200 (2.7%) since the previous one in 2011.

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) said the results from the 2022 census show a slower rate of growth than between 2001 and 2011, when the population grew by 233,400 (4.6%).

The NRS said that without migration, Scotland’s population would have fallen by about 49,800 since 2011.

The other UK censuses showed higher rates of population growth than in Scotland. The population increased by 6.3% in England and Wales, and by 5.1% in Northern Ireland between 2011 and 2021.

There are now 1,091,000 aged 65 and over in Scotland – a 22.5% increase since 2011 – and 832,300 under the age of 15.

As context highlighting Scotland’s ageing population, the NRS said the 1971 census showed there were twice as many people under the age of 15 than over 65, and in 2011 the two age groups were of a broadly similar size.

On census day there were 2,509,300 households with at least one usual resident. This is a rise of 136,500 (5.8%) from the 2011 census.

The increase in the number of households (5.8%) is higher than the increase in the population (2.7%).

The NRS said older people are more likely to live alone or in smaller households, noting a related trend towards smaller households and more households overall.

Across Scotland, the population increased in 17 council areas between 2011 and 2022, with 10 areas seeing decreases and five seeing minimal change.

Most of the council areas in the Central Belt saw increases in their populations, particularly those around Edinburgh. These increases were driven by migration from within Scotland and from elsewhere.

Midlothian saw the largest increase (up 16.1%), while the Western Isles (Na h-Eileanan Siar) saw the biggest decrease (down 5.5%).

The census is usually carried out every 10 years and asks people to answer questions about themselves, their household and their home to build a detailed snapshot of society.

The results aim to help organisations make decisions on planning and funding public services such as healthcare, education and transport.

Janet Egdell, NRS chief executive, said: “This is an exciting milestone for Scotland’s census and the results paint a fascinating picture of how Scotland and our communities are changing.

“Census data is vital for planning health services, education and transport and the information published through our results will help local and central government, businesses and charities to shape Scotland for years to come.”

Read more from Sky News:
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NRS will publish further results from the census from spring 2024 onwards.

In summer 2024, a series of topic data reports will provide new and unique insights into the characteristics of Scotland’s people, including information on ethnicity, religion, the labour market, education and housing.

For the first time, it will also include data on Armed Forces veterans, sexual orientation and trans status or history.

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Constitution, external affairs and culture secretary Angus Robertson said: “Today’s publication represents a historic moment with the largest population ever recorded by Scotland’s census of 5.4 million.

“It also confirms this growth has been driven by inward migration, demonstrating that Scotland is an attractive place to come to live and work.”

Mr Robertson stated that Scotland faces an “ongoing population challenge” with fewer births than deaths registered since 2011.

He added: “The census also shows that, in line with many other countries, our population is ageing. Understanding these changes in the population will allow local authorities and the government to adapt vital public services to better meet the needs of those living and working in Scotland – including our large, established migrant community, whose contribution we greatly welcome.”

The Scottish government has pledged to publish an Addressing Depopulation Action Plan and will also introduce a Talent Attraction and Migration Service to support more people to live and work in Scotland.

Mr Robertson added: “The census also shows a trend towards smaller households and more households overall, which further demonstrates the importance of our strategy to tackle social isolation and loneliness through stronger social connections, and our continued funding for organisations working to address this issue.”

NHS to receive extra £200m ahead of winter amid record waiting lists | UK News

The NHS will receive a £200m boost from the government ahead of the busiest months of the year for them.

The winter resilience fund is aimed at supporting the health service so it can attend to patients as quickly as possible amid record waiting lists.

Last month, NHS England said 7.6 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of June – the highest number since records began in August 2007.

The additional money will help hospitals keep up with pre-planned surgeries and operations to cut down the list, according to officials.

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NHS treatment list at record high

Both the government and NHS England set an ambition of eliminating all waits of more than 18 months by April this year.

However, that excluded exceptionally complex cases or where patients chose to wait longer.

Winter is a hectic time for the NHS with COVID, flu, and respiratory illnesses common during the season, with some health commentators saying last winter was one of the worst on record for the health service.

They welcomed the extra cash but have questioned how far it will stretch amid upcoming strikes by doctors and consultants.

For the first time in NHS history, joint walkouts were announced over pay disputes.

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NHS strike action escalates

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Male and female NHS surgical staff are victims of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape

Alongside the winter fund, the government announced a £40m investment in social care, with local authorities being urged to bid for a share of the cash.

Ministers also injected £250m into the NHS last month as part of the two-year Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery plan which promised 5,000 additional beds, 800 new ambulances, and 10,000 virtual wards.

Officials said progress has been made compared to last July including faster emergency ambulance response times and more availability of general, acute, and virtual beds.

NHS England had also announced plans to introduce social care “traffic control centres” to help speed up hospital discharges for patients no longer needing to be in the wards.

Speaking about the new subsidy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Winter is the most challenging time for the health service, which is why we’ve been planning for it all year – with huge government investment to fund new ambulances, beds and virtual wards.

“This extra £200 million will bolster the health service during its busiest period, while protecting elective care so we can keep cutting waiting lists.”

Sir Keir Starmer pledges to ‘smash gangs and secure borders’ as he launches security plan | Politics News

Labour is unveiling its security plans for government on Thursday, promising to treat criminal gangs who smuggle people in small boats “on a par” with the threats of climate change, hostile foreign powers and terrorism.

Sir Keir Starmer is heading to The Hague later with his shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, where the pair will meet Europol officials as they pledge to seek a new partnership to combat migrant smuggling across the continent.

The party wants to have more UK police officers posted with the organisation for joint investigations, aiming to disrupt the gangs before they reach the coast.

And they want to work with EU partners on data and intelligence sharing, replacing the access the UK lost to certain programmes following Brexit.

Sir Keir said UK borders and the immigration system were “being run by a hostile and growing foreign power – criminal smuggling gangs on the continent”.

But he promised his party would be “twice as ruthless to smash the gangs and secure British borders”.

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Other elements of the party’s security plan include strengthening civil orders to restrict the movements of smuggling and trafficking suspects, and beefing up cooperation on surveillance of known offenders.

“These criminal smuggling gangs are growing fat on the government’s failures, while the Tories ramp up empty rhetoric around illegal immigration for cheap headlines,” added Sir Keir.

“The prime minister and home secretary swing wildly from gimmick to gimmick, each one designed to grab headlines rather than sort the problem.

“My Labour government will roll up our sleeves and go after these criminals, with a proper plan for a new security agreement with Europe to support better cross-border police operations and stronger powers for our enforcement agencies in the UK.”

More than 23,000 people have made the dangerous journey across the Channel in the year so far – with more than 3,000 making the crossing in September alone.

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Boat crossings ‘at odds with British values’

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made tackling the issue one of his five priorities for the year, promising to “stop the boats” with measures, such as deporting some asylum seekers to Rwanda and housing people on barges.

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But both schemes have hit barriers, with Rwanda flights caught up in the courts and an outbreak of Legionella’s disease on the Bibby Stockholm vessel.

Mr Sunak has repeatedly defended the government’s progress, saying: “We’ve already reduced the legacy backlog by over 28,000 – nearly a third – since the start of December and we remain on track to meet our target.

“But we know there is more to do to make sure asylum seekers do not spend months or years – living in the UK at vast expense to the taxpayer – waiting for a decision.”

Responding to Labour’s announcement, a Conservative spokesman said their rivals had been “doing everything to undermine our plans to stop the boats”, and claimed Sir Keir’s new policies would be “opening the door to voluntarily taking even more illegal migrants from the EU”.

They added: “Sir Keir belongs to the same failed politics that won’t take the necessary long-term decisions to tackle this issue.

“He clearly doesn’t care about illegal immigration and is trying to take the easy way out. Fundamentally his ideas would do nothing but weaken our tough measures.”

Tobias Ellwood resigns as defence committee chair after controversial Afghanistan video | Politics News

The chair of the Commons’ defence committee, Tobias Ellwood, has resigned from his role after criticism over a video he posted on X, Sky News understands.

The Tory MP, who had been the chair of the cross-party group since 2020, came under pressure to quit after sharing the clip on the platform formerly known as Twitter, where he appeared to praise the Taliban’s leadership in Afghanistan.

Northern Lights: Stunning pictures of phenomenon captured across UK | UK News

Parts of the UK were treated to a spectacular display of the Northern Lights last night.

Also known as the Aurora Borealis, it’s one of the most dazzling displays in the night sky.

Lancaster University’s AuroraWatch, run by the Space and Planetary Physics group, issued a “red alert” – meaning seeing the phenomenon was very “likely”.

A stunning show of the Northern lights over the refuge hut on the Holy Island causeway in Northumberland . Picture date: Wednesday September 13, 2023.
The Northern Lights over the refuge hut on the Holy Island causeway in Northumberland

The spectacle is most usually associated with Scandinavian countries in Europe but is sometimes visible in the UK.

It is rarely seen south of Scotland – but last night, stargazers reported sightings in Northumberland, the Lake District, Greater Manchester and as far south as Cornwall.

Vivid green, purple, pink and yellow streaks were witnessed through the night sky, with people posting images on X, formerly known as Twitter, describing the show as a “fantastic display”.

What causes the phenomenon?

According to the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the colourful lights we see in the night sky are caused by activity on the sun’s surface.

Solar storms on a star’s surface give out huge clouds of particles charged with electricity, which can enter the Earth’s atmosphere very quickly.

“These particles then slam into atoms and molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere and essentially heat them up,” Royal Observatory astronomer Tom Kerss said.

“We call this physical process ‘excitation, but it’s very much like heating a gas and making it glow.”

And so, what we are seeing are atoms and molecules in our atmosphere colliding with particles from the sun.

How do I see the Aurora Borealis from the UK?

The further north you are, the more likely you are to see the display – if you’re on X, check out @aurorawatchuk, where the space physicists at Lancaster University will tweet when the Northern Lights may be visible from the UK.

The conditions still need to be right: dark and clear nights with as little light pollution as possible.