Lib Dem’s London collapse a consolation prize for Labour

Voters in London © Slawekkozaks |

Voters in London © Slawekkozaks |

As the Labour Party picks over the disaster of election night London offers some small consolation.   Labour bucked the national trend in the capital to increase its MPs by 7, taking 45 of the 73 seats.  Those gains came largely at the expense of the Liberal Democrats as Labour not the Conservatives became beneficiaries of the Lib Dem collapse.

Labour’s success and the calamity for the Lib Dems is underlined in the voting share.  Labour’s share was up by 24%, the Lib Dems share plummeted by 64%. Ukip quadrupled their vote and the Greens doubled theirs from last time.  The Conservatives had a modest increase in votes but were down by one seat at the end of the night.


Voting share 2015

3.5 million people turned out to vote.  That’s up by 100,000 on 2010 and is a 65.6% turnout, a little below the national figure. The way votes were cast across the capital gives an insight into the politics of the city, more complex than the simple, first past the post constituency results. If seats were decided by a simple proportion of the share of the vote London MPs would look a lot different


General Election seats and shareVoting shares within constituencies give an insight into the spread of polical support in the city. The most fervent Labour supporting place is East Ham, where Stephen Timms romped home with 77% of the vote and the largest majority of any London MP.  The most Conservative constituency is Richmond Park where 34,404 people voted to re-elect Zac Goldsmith.

Ukip support is strongest in Hornchurch and Upminster, where Lawrence Webb got 13,977 votes and one of the party’s many second places.  Ukip also polled strongly in Barking, and Dagenham and Rainham.

Highest turnout in the capital was 77% in Twickenham where the senior Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister, Vince Cable, lost the seat he had held for 18 years. Lowest turnout was 54% in Ilford South.

The spread of voting patterns meant tight battles in many constituencies.  None tighter than Croydon Central where Conservative Gavin Barwell squeaked in with a majority of 165.

The capital also showed an enthusiasm for political diversity.  499 candidates put themselves up for election. Voters in Bethnal Green and Bow, Camberwell and Peckham, and Hackney South and Shoreditch had 11 candidates to choose from.  In Uxbridge and South Ruislip there was a choice of 13, among them London’s least successful candidate, Independent James Jackson who got just 14 votes.

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Low income students shine at A Levels

School Library copyStudents from poor and underprivileged families in London do better at achieving the key Level 3 target in A and AS levels than those across England.

Data gathered from the 32 London boroughs show that more than half the students who receive free school meals achieved 4 AS or 2 A levels compared with 36% in England generally.

Level 3 FSM YearlyLow-income families and those on benefits are eligible for free school meals. 19% of London students studying for A levels receive free meals. The national average for England is 9%. It is used by educationalists as a measure of deprivation.

In the grading system for qualifications 4 AS levels or 2 A levels is known as Level 3. London students who do not get free meals generally do better than the England average in achieving this target – 69% compared to 60%. But their record is outshone by students on free school meals.  They have been consistently outperforming the average for England by more than 40% for past 7 years.

Across the capital there is some variation in the results, though only one London borough, Havering, is failing to beat the national average. In Kensington and Chelsea 66% of students on free school meals are reaching Level 3.

The borough by borough break down shows that often it is the areas with larger number of students from underprivileged families who have the higher proportion getting 4 AS or 2 A levels. Tower Hamlets, Islington and Westminster have more free school meals students than Sutton, Kingston and Richmond, and they also see a higher proportion of them achieving Level 3.

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London losing its thirst for binge drinking

Drinking alcohol copyBinge drinking has been synonymous with a big night out in boozy Britain for decades.  But data collected from paramedics who pick up the pieces from the most severe cases suggest that London may be getting over its love of inebriated excess.

London’s relationship with alcohol is part of its history and culture. From Hogarth’s hellish 18th century depiction of Gin Lane to rowdy groups swaying and shouting through the West End on the average Saturday night, drink has been a feature of life in the capital.

The latest figures from the London Ambulance Service show that in the 12 months to January 2015 they dealt with 31,000 incidents of alcohol poisioning caused by binge drinking.  That’s a fall of 7% year on year and continues a slow but steady downward trend of the past 4 years.

In some boroughs the fall is much sharper.  Call outs are down by 25% in Redbridge.  Sutton, Waltham Forest, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Greenwich have all seen falls of 20% or more. The call out figures are down in 26 of the capital’s 33 boroughs.

It’s a different story in Barking and Dagenham where there has been a 15% rise in ambulance call outs for drinking.  Hounslow, Hillingdon, Havering, Richmond and Brent have also seen a rise in the number of incidents.

Dealing with binge drinking is a huge draw on ambulance service resources.  At the same time there has been a sharp rise in emergency calls for heroin and cocaine overdoses.  In the last year there were 700 calls.  But alcohol is still the so-called recreational drug that takes up the bulk of the time of hard-pressed ambulance crews.

Date Source

Note: The figures are based on retrospective reports by paramedics/ambulance staff and 999 call handlers who defined a call out as binge-drinking related.  Incidents involving people over 40 are not captured in this data.

Size matters – and it depends where you live

Obese copyLondon has a lower rate of adult obesity than any other region of England but there are large variations across the capital. 19.6% of Londoners are obese compared to the average for England of 23%. That goes up to a little over 25% in Yorkshire, Humberside and the North East.

But levels are even higher in some London boroughs as the map below shows.  Barking and Dagenham has 32% obesity and City of London 31%. That’s nearly three times the level in Kensington and Chelsea with 11.2%. Richmond also scores well with just 12.1% of residents classified as obese. It is double that in Hillingdon, Enfield, Bexley and Lewisham.

The data is based upon the Health Survey for England, the Sport England Active Person Survey and BMI information from the Understanding Society study for Health England.

Obesity is measured using the Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters. The NHS’s easy calculator is here. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal, healthy weight. Below 18.5 is underweight, above 25 is overweight and 30 and above is obese.

Londoners also score well when looking at that data for people at a normal, healthy weight. In London it’s 41% compared to 35% of people across England. And in Kensington and Chelsea, Richmond, and Hammersmith and Fulham 50% of people or more are in this category.

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Is our open space really open?

Richmond Park dawn copyLondon enjoys a reputation as a city of green spaces thanks to the parks spread across the centre.  But less than half of the open space in London is actually open to the public.  The rest is private land and gardens.

London sprawls across 1,594 square kilometres.  Data from Greenspace Information for Greater London shows that 622 square kilometres are designated as open space, which means the land hasn’t been developed.  That’s 39.4% of the total area and it puts London in the top flight of cities for open spaces.  Vienna, Singapore and Sydney all have a little more. But a closer look at the figures show that 52% of open space in London is not publicly accessible.

Most of the outer London boroughs have large areas of open space, as you might expect.  Bromley, the biggest borough by area has the most.  Data analysis by Urbs reveal that it also has the lowest proportion accessible to the public – just 21%. Richmond is about the third the size of Bromley, and has the same proportion of open space.  But in Richmond more than two thirds of the open space is accessible. This is likely due to the expanse of Richmond Park.

The borough with the highest proportion of accessible open space is Tower Hamlets with 80% accessibility. The inner city east London area may near the bottom of the table for available space but most of what it does have is open to all.

Open spaces 2 map

Finally,  spare a thought for the 11,000 residents of Town ward in Fulham.  According to the data the amount of open space in their 65 hectare neighbourhood is zero.


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Private school? Depends where you live

School Library copyMore than half the children going to school in Kensington and Chelsea are educated in the independent sector. Of the 78 schools in the borough 40 are fee paying.

Only the City of London has a higher proportion of children in private education. There it’s a staggering 90% but there is only 1 state primary school in the borough and 4 independents.

The data from the Department of Education reveals that across London private schooling features strongly with half of the boroughs exceeding the England average for pupils outside the state sector. In the affluent boroughs of Richmond, Camden, Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Wandsworth it’s between 24 and 29%. Across the capital the average is 11% with 7% the average for England.

London has more children in private education than any other region of England except the South East.

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Landlords reclaim record number of rented homes

To Let copyMore Londoners than ever are losing their rented home through landlord repossessions. Data analysis by Urbs shows that in the last 3 years the rate of landlord repossessions has risen sharply. And the data shows that this is a particular problem for London, as the rate for England as a whole has seen only a gradual rise.

In the third quarter of 2014 (the most recent data available) there were 4,137 rented home repossessions in London. That’s rate of 2.45 per thousand, and double the rate for England as a whole.

Renting has become more popular as high property prices make buying a home unaffordable for many people. That problem is most acute in the capital, particularly for younger Londoners.

Rising prices have also seen the end of the negative equity trap, which used to lead to large number of mortgage repossessions in London. These have fallen from their peak in the third quarter of 2006 of 1,181 homes to just 218 last summer. That is back to the level for repossessions last seen in 2003.

The picture of home repossessions across the capital shows a clear divide between richer and poorer boroughs. Southwark, Croydon and Newham have nearly three times the number of the more affluent Sutton, Kingston and Richmond.

Landlord repossessions 2 map

Repossession figures are based on county court action rather than actual incidents. Some homes are repossessed without court action and some court actions do not lead ultimately to repossession.

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