On Saturday afternoon, the hot water went off in Alex Milsom’s shared house in west London. Discussing the problem with his housemates on WhatsApp, one person replied: “It’s because there’s a cage on the thermostat.”
“I said I would put the water back on, but obviously I couldn’t get past the new lock box,” Alex said.
His landlady had visited the property to install a clear thermostat cover over the Google Nest thermostat – which can control heating and hot water.
“We have no idea what the temperature is,” he said. “The Nest screen only lights up when you stand up close to it, but the box has stopped that from working and we can’t see the number.”
Alex, 21, has been living with six or seven others in a semi-detached house in Ealing since August. Rented from a private landlady, he pays £700 a month, and the landlady covers his utility bills.
In a multi-occupancy dwelling like Alex’s, the landlord is permitted to control the heating, with no rules against boxing off the thermostat, experts say. The same is true of a standard rental property with fewer than three tenants, if the landlord pays the bills.
But, until now, Alex and his housemates have had control over the temperature of their home and the hot water via the thermostat in the communal kitchen.
“It’s just quite funny,” he adds.
“On Sunday night I woke up in a sweat because the heating was on, but the next morning I had to shower at work because there was no hot water,” he says. The water has since returned.
Alex shared his story on Twitter on Saturday, which went viral and prompted queries over the legality of the move.
Some landlords responded to the thread by saying the move could be understandable in a situation where tenants were being careless with the heating.
So can a landlord box off a thermostat?
David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, says there are no rules around boxing off thermostats.
But adds: “It is a matter of good tenancy management and we encourage landlords to speak first with tenants before taking such action.
“In shared homes there can often be disputes between tenants who want the thermostat set at different temperatures.”
However, the issue is not clear cut.
A tenant has a right to heating and hot water, says Daniel Fitzpatrick, a partner at Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors.
But whether a landlord can box off a thermostat depends on the terms of the tenancy agreement.
“If the tenant is just paying a basic agreement where bills are not included, that could be why the landlord installed the fitting – usually thermostats can be covered,” he says.
“Should that not be the case, then there could be various actions against the landlord.
“It’s a basic right to be able to turn on heating and hot water, and it would be a breach of health and safety if the tenant could not.”
Housing experts from Citizens Advice say the legality of a landlord-controlled thermostat is likely to rely on whether it results in hazards – excess cold or possibly extreme heat.
According to the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), which governs housing conditions, heating can be centrally controlled by the landlord in a house in multiple occupation.
But the guidance adds that if this causes “unreasonable extremes in temperature” then this may represent a hazard – over which the local authority can take action against the landlord.
Risks of adverse health effects arise when indoor temperature drops below 19C, with serious health risks occurring below 16C, it says.
What can a tenant do if they are still unhappy?
Under the new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, all residential tenancies after 20 March 2019 are required to be free of hazards.
If a tenant feels this is not the case they could try making a claim against the landlord.
But Citizens Advice says it is better to try to “negotiate amicably” if at all possible – “due to the limited security of tenure which private tenants tend to have” – and it warns of the risk of an escalating row.
“The tenants might consider trying to take control of the heating themselves by using electric heaters.
“There is a risk, however, that the landlord may respond negatively to a huge electricity bill, and perhaps seek to serve a section 21 notice (no fault eviction notice) to terminate the tenancy at the end of the fixed term, or seek to alter the rent or other tenancy terms as a condition of any renewal.”
A police officer has been hit by a car which had been pulled over in an “intelligence led stop” in Tottenham.
The vehicle was stopped by armed police in White Hart Lane at about 11:30 GMT and struck the officer when it was driven off “at speed”, the Met said.
London Ambulance Service said the firearms officer suffered a minor injury and had been driven to hospital.
No arrests have been made and “inquiries are under way to locate the suspects and the vehicle,” police said.
London’s trams are being fitted with automatic braking systems three years after a derailment killed seven people.
The safety measure is one of 15 recommended by the Rail Accidents Investigation Branch (RAIB) following its inquiry into the Croydon crash in November 2016.
Sixty one people were also injured when the tram, travelling at almost four times the speed limit, derailed.
TfL said the installation took three years because it “needed to be right”.
London will be the first UK tram service to have an automatic braking system.
Yellow beacons on tracks will monitor speeds and automatically apply the brakes if a tram exceeds speed limits.
The tram that crashed on a curve approaching the Sandilands stop in Croydon, was travelling at 43.5mph in a 12mph zone, investigators found.
“This is a particularly complex system where you are dealing with trams that are 20-years-old and we’re having to install something that interferes… with the acceleration and braking systems of the tram and we need to know it’s right,” said Mark Davis, Transport for London’s general manager of London Trams.
The new braking system would initially be configured for priority high-risk locations, but would be fitted in all trams by the end of the year TfL added.
Automatic braking will operate alongside another system launched in 2017 to warn of driver distraction and tiredness.
During its investigations the RAIB found the driver had taken a micro-sleep and that this was linked to fatigue.
Andy Benham, a tram driver not involved in the crash, has been using a simulator to train for the new safety system.
“It’s very reassuring. At the moment a lot of the driving is just down to the driver, so having this as a back-up in case anything should go wrong, you know you are safe,” he said.
Other safety measures include cats eyes fitted in tunnels and chevrons painted on bends to help the driver.
Extinction Rebellion activists are continuing protests despite a London-wide ban by police.
The group says it will challenge the ban, saying it believes it is unlawful. Lawyers and politicians have also criticised the move.
Meanwhile climate change protesters targeted the Department for Transport and MI5 on Tuesday morning.
A government spokeswoman said protests “should not disrupt people’s day-to-day lives”.
Extinction Rebellion’s co-founder, Gail Bradbrook, was arrested after climbing on to the entrance of the Department for Transport on Tuesday morning. Police also cleared further protesters from outside the building.
Activists have also been arrested on Millbank outside MI5’s headquarters, where a small group had gathered. Two men briefly sat in the middle of the road before being moved by officers.
On Monday evening, the Metropolitan Police began clearing protesters from Trafalgar Square following the announcement of a ban on the protests.
Under Section 14 of the Public Order Act, the force had imposed conditions requiring activists to stop their protests in central London by 21:00 BST on 14 October or risk arrest.
The Metropolitan Police said that the ban was imposed after “continued breaches” of a condition limiting the demonstration to Trafalgar Square.
Speaking to the Victoria Derbyshire programme, Extinction Rebellion campaigner and former Met Police officer Paul Stephens said: “Police are being really sloppy with the law, and it won’t stand up in court.”
He added that “there will be a judicial review”.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said he is “seeking further information” about the decision to impose the ban and why it was necessary.
“I believe the right to peaceful and lawful protest must always be upheld,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the government said the UK was “already taking world-leading action to combat climate change”.
The statement added: “While we share people’s concerns about global warming, and respect the right to peaceful protest, it should not disrupt people’s day-to-day lives.”
‘Overreach of powers’
Meanwhile, lawyers have questioned whether the ban by police was legal.
Anti-Brexit barrister Jo Maugham QC said the move was “a huge overreach” of police powers, while human rights lawyer Adam Wagner described it as “draconian and extremely heavy-handed”.
Mr Wagner added in a tweet: “We have a right to free speech under article 10 and to free assembly under article 11 of the (annex to the) Human Rights Act. These can only be interfered with if the interference is lawful and proportionate. I think the police may have gone too far here.”
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott tweeted: “This ban is completely contrary to Britain’s long-held traditions of policing by consent, freedom of speech, and the right to protest.”
Allan Hogarth, of Amnesty International, issued a statement saying the ban was “an unlawful restriction on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly”.
A number of demonstrations have been staged across the capital by Extinction Rebellion, which is calling on the government to do more to tackle climate change.
The protests were due to last two weeks and have led to more than 1,400 arrests.
The Met said there had been 1,457 arrests by 08:45 BST on Tuesday, in connection with the nine days of Extinction Rebellion protests in London.
Last week, the Home Office confirmed to BBC News that it was reviewing police powers around protests in response to recent demonstrations.
What are the rules around protests?
Police have the powers to ban a protest under the Public Order Act 1986, if a senior officer has reasonable belief that it may cause “serious disruption to the life of the community”.
Police are also under a duty to balance the task of keeping the streets open with the right freedom of assembly under the Article 11 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and freedom of expression, under Article 10. These rights are not absolute – the state can curtail them.
However, the BBC’s home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani said: “The test, if and when it gets to a court battle, is whether police action was proportionate to threat and only what was strictly necessary.”
By law, the organiser of a public march must tell the police certain information in writing six days in advance.
Police have the power to limit or change the route of the march or set other conditions.
A Section 14 notice issued under the Public Order Act allows police to impose conditions on a static protest and individuals who fail to comply with these can be arrested.
Extinction Rebellion activists have glued themselves to one government department and to the underside of a lorry outside another on a second day of protests in central London.
Police have made more than 400 arrests, and those camped out in Westminster have been ordered to move on.
The prime minister has described the activists as “unco-operative crusties”.
But campaigner and TV presenter Chris Packham said they are “the concerned people of the world.”
Extinction Rebellion activists are protesting in cities around the world, including Berlin, Amsterdam and Sydney, and are calling for urgent action on global climate and wildlife emergencies.
Protesters say they are occupying 11 sites in central London and people have travelled from across the UK to take part in the demonstrations.
The Metropolitan Police said at 13:00 BST on Tuesday there have been 404 arrests in relation to them.
Activists have attached themselves to the underside of a lorry, which is blocking the road outside the Home Office.
The vehicle is parked on Marsham Street, where hundreds of protesters set up camp overnight. One activist climbed on top of the lorry and set up a tent.
There was a large police presence in the area on Tuesday, with pictures showing officers removing activists from the lorry.
Protesters have also glued themselves to the Department for Transport building – a tactic used in similar protests in April.
Two activists have attached themselves to the doors of the building, while others demonstrate outside.
Meanwhile, a group have placed 800 potted trees outside Parliament, in Old Palace Yard, as they call on the government to plant billions of trees across the UK.
Trees have been dedicated to MPs, and protesters hope they will use them to reforest the country.
Sean Clay, 36, from Newcastle, told the BBC: “Planting trees would go a long way to restore the habitats we have lost as well as absorbing carbon emissions.”
Asked about Boris Johnson’s description of demonstrators, Packham told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme: “I was there yesterday. I met farmers, I met teachers, I met scientists, I met lawyers, I met grandparents, I met mothers and fathers, and I met children.
“These are the concerned people of the world.”
Mr Johnson had suggested while attending a book launch on Monday that the demonstrators should abandon their “hemp-smelling bivouacs” and stop blocking roads.
Protester Claudia Fisher, 57, from Brighton said campaigners would like to discuss their views with the prime minister.
Responding to his description of activists as “unco-operative crusties”, Ms Fisher said: “We are a little bit crusty, I’ll put my hands up to it, after a night sleeping out on the grounds of Whitehall, but we’re not uncooperative.
“We’re actually very cooperative. We… would really like to hear what he has to say, and we’d really like him to… hear what we have to say.”
John Curran, a 49-year-old former detective sergeant for the Metropolitan Police, was one of the protesters who camped overnight.
Mr Curran, who has a three-year-old daughter, says he was arrested while protesting with Extinction Rebellion in April, and is willing to be arrested again.
He said: “Clearly there is some frustration (for the police) that they probably have better things to be doing, and I agree, but the responsibility for that must lie with the government.
“Take action, and we won’t have to be here.”
Protesters who camped in Horseferry Road and Marsham Street, in Westminster, throughout the night were warned that they will be arrested unless they move to nearby Trafalgar Square. Police handed out section 14 notices to tents at around 07:30 BST.
Activists also camped at Smithfield Market overnight, but they say they allowed traders to operate.
‘A last resort’
By Becky Morton, BBC News
The only rush hour traffic around Parliament this morning came from cyclists, who were cheered as they passed encampments of protesters dotted around Westminster.
Roads have been blocked by tents and gazebos, with protesters from all over the country camping overnight.
Bowls of porridge were served from food trucks, while volunteers said some local businesses had donated pastries.
One of those who spent the night here is Mikaela Loach, 21, who travelled down by bus from Edinburgh with a friend.
She said taking part in this week’s action was a “last resort”.
“I’ve spoken to my local MP, I’ve taken part in protests, I just feel like I haven’t been listened to,” she said.
“I have been changing things in my lifestyle for a long time to try and be more eco-friendly, but I had a realisation a few months ago that it doesn’t matter if I go vegan or zero waste if the government doesn’t do anything.
“There need to be big structural changes.”
Further road closures are expected on Tuesday, with Parliament Street, Great Smith Street and Westminster and Lambeth bridges predicted to be heavily affected.
Extinction Rebellion claims protests in the capital will be five times bigger than similar events in April, which saw more than 1,100 people were arrested.
What is Extinction Rebellion?
2025year when the group aims for zero carbon emissions
298,000followers on Facebook
1,130people arrested over April’s London protests
2018year the group was founded
Source: BBC Research
Extinction Rebellion (XR for short) wants governments to declare a “climate and ecological emergency” and take immediate action to address climate change.
It describes itself as an international “non-violent civil disobedience activist movement”.
Extinction Rebellion was launched in 2018 and organisers say it now has groups willing to take action in dozens of countries.
In April, the group held a large demonstration in London that brought major routes in the city to a standstill.
The Football Association is investigating an allegation of racial discrimination during Saturday’s Championship game between Charlton Athletic and Leeds United.
It is understood the incident involved Leeds goalkeeper Kiko Casilla and Charlton forward Jonathan Leko.
Referee John Brooks is understood to have included the allegation in his match report after Charlton’s 1-0 win.
The FA will now speak to both clubs and the players allegedly involved.
London Broncos head coach Danny Ward has signed a new two-year contract to keep him with the club until the end of the 2021 season.
The Yorkshireman, 39, took charge in 2018 and led them to promotion to Super League in his first season.
However, they were relegated back to the Championship after finishing bottom of the top flight this term.
“I’m happy to extend my contract and big thanks to [chairman] David Hughes for putting faith in me,” he said.
“It has been an incredible journey so far, suffering incredible highs and lows along the way, with a fantastic bunch of players and performance staff and I am really looking forward to next season and the challenges that come our way.”
Ward initially joined London as a player in 2008, when they were known as Harlequins Rugby League, and went on to coach at the Broncos following his retirement.
He was assistant to former boss Andrew Henderson before stepping up to replace him when he left to join Warrington in 2018.
“Danny is almost a Londoner now and has done incredible things with the squad here in the capital. You can tell by the way the boys play that they have a huge respect for him and he has instilled a togetherness here that is second to none,” Hughes said.
Downward dogs and yoga mats have replaced cars and buses on London’s Tower Bridge as part of Car Free Day.
The mass yoga session was one of a number of activities taking place in the capital as more than 16 miles (27 km) of streets were shut.
Bank junction was turned into a festival space while children will race go-karts in the Square Mile.
The closures will be in place until 19:00 BST with roads elsewhere expected to be busy as a result.
Tower and London Bridge were shut at 07:00 BST along with streets in parts of the City, Southwark and Tower Hamlets.
Among the other activities taking place were a hedge maze in Cheapside and classic cycle rides on Tower Bridge.
Organisers hope more than 150,000 people will join the event, which has been named Reimagine.
Away from the centre, 15 boroughs will be running their own Car Free Day celebrations and more than 340 “play streets” – safe spaces for local people to socialise and play – have been approved by 24 boroughs.
London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan said the day was about “demonstrating our commitment to cleaning up our toxic air and experiencing a greener way of living”.
Transport for London has warned that those who do take to the roads should expect “significant delays”.
A series of failings by the National Probation Service (NPS) contributed to the death of a five-year-old boy who was murdered by his mother’s partner, an inquest has found.
Alex Malcolm was killed by Marvyn Iheanacho, who flew into a rage after the boy lost a trainer in a park in Catford, south-east London, in 2016.
The inquest found the NPS failed to share vital information about him.
Alex’s mother Liliya Breha said the “systems meant to protect us did not”.
The inquest, led by senior coroner Andrew Harris at Southwark Coroner’s Court, concluded on Thursday that a “series of individual failures by the NPS probation officers, coupled with inadequate support and supervision” contributed to Alex’s death.
Iheanacho, of Hounslow in west London, had just been released from prison when he started going out with Ms Breha in early 2016.
In November that year he went to Mountsfield Park with Alex where he flew into a rage after the boy lost a trainer.
Alex died in hospital two days later and the inquest recorded a head injury as the cause of his death.
Iheanacho was convicted of his murder in 2017 and jailed for life with a minimum of 18 years, which was later increased to a minimum of 21.
Under his release conditions, Iheanacho should not have had any unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16 and should have notified his probation officer of any relationships and changes of address.
But the inquest heard he broke those conditions without consequences, even though this would have been grounds for recall to prison.
The NPS failed to ensure his violent history with women was shared with Ms Breha and wrongly classified the “manipulative high risk offender” as a level one risk category instead of three, the inquest found.
The Ministry of Justice, which oversees the NPS, has apologised “unreservedly”.
A spokesperson said: “Our deepest condolences remain with the victim’s family, and we apologise unreservedly for the unacceptable failings in this case – we will now carefully consider the coroner’s findings.
“In the three years since Alex’s tragic death, the NPS in London has undertaken a huge programme of work to improve standards and better protect the public.”
But Ms Breha said her son “didn’t have to die for system failures to be identified and for people to start to do their jobs properly”.
“Alex was my heart beat and I miss him so much. He should be here right now going to school, playing with his friends,” she said.
“Someone took this away from him for no reason and the systems meant to protect us did not.”
A man has died while working on a moving walkway at Waterloo station.
Paramedics were unable to save the worker, who has yet to be identified, and he was pronounced dead shortly after 02:20 BST.
British Transport Police officers are investigating the death, which is being treated as unexplained.
Vernon Everitt, London Underground’s managing director, expressed “deepest condolences” to the man’s family from the rail network.
“We are also very conscious of the impact this sort of incident has on first responders and station staff, and a full support network has been stood up,” he added.
Passengers were advised they would be unable to change lines because of a fault with one of the Tube station’s two travelators.
A one-way system has been implemented at the station for Wednesday morning.
The man’s next of kin has not yet been contacted.