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"We intend to make the building even better" says new owner

"We intend to make the building even better" says new owner Safra Group Credit: John Walton/PA Wire

"The acquisition of 30 St Mary Axe is consistent with our real estate strategy of investing in properties that are truly special – at the best locations within great cities. While only ten years old, this building is already a London icon that is distinguished from others in the market, with excellent value growth potential. We intend to make the building even better and more desirable through active ownership that will lead to a range of enhancements that will benefit tenants."

– Safra Group

Building had guide price of £650m

The iconic skyscraper, at 30 St Mary Axe, is known as the Gherkin because of its distinctive shape.

According to the Financial Times, the group - headed by billionaire Brazilian businessman Joseph Safra - paid £726m for the 180m high Norman Foster-designed tower.

The building was put up for sale earlier this year with a guide price of £650m.

The Gherkin: the second tallest tower in the City of London Credit: John Walton/PA Archive

The Gherkin is the second tallest tower in the City of London and the sixth tallest in London.

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Oyster card customers losing out to contactless payers

Oyster card customers are paying up to £100 more a week than those using Contactless. The contactless method WAS billed as the same fare- but because of weekly caps using this method, but only daily caps with an Oyster, those using Oystercards are left paying more. The research was done by the London Assembly Labour Group- which has criticised Boris Johnson for what it describes as a 'worrying gap' in prices. It also points out that half a million Londonderes don't have a bank account, let alone a Contactless card.

Contactless payers paying less than Oyster customers per week Credit: PA

The analysis from London Assembly Labour Group Transport Spokesperson Val Shawcross AM has shown passengers using Oyster PAYG fares are paying up to £107 a week more than those using Contactless and making the same journeys. Shawcross said the figures throw serious doubt upon the Mayor of London's pledge that Oyster would always be the cheapest way to travel.

Are Oyster card customers paying more? Credit: PA

A peak-time commuter who hits the daily cap travelling between zones 4 and 7 for example would pay £19.60 a day using Oyster. On Contactless this would only cost £29.40 for a whole week meaning savings of £107.80 over Oyster if they were to hit the daily cap for a whole week. For those only commuting Monday to Friday, the saving on Contactless would still be £68.60.

A zone 1-6 commuter who hits the peak-time daily cap would save £53.40 per week by switching from Oyster to Contactless.

London Assembly Labour Group Transport Spokesperson, Val Shawcross AM, said:

"Boris Johnson has repeatedly said that Oyster would always be the cheapest way to travel but that simply isn't true. There is now a worrying gap between the prices paid by Contactless passengers and those using Oyster.

"What we now know is that many people in London who regularly hit the Oyster daily fare cap are potentially paying far more than those using Contactless despite being told it was the cheapest way to travel.

"When Boris Johnson launched Contactless he could have chosen to add weekly caps to the Oyster Card. Instead he purposely chose to give Contactless card users a better deal despite almost half a million Londoners not having a bank account let alone a Contactless card."

The same fares apply to both contactless and Oyster. Contactless provides the convenience of Monday to Sunday capping, giving customers the same fare as is available to Oyster customers who buy a weekly Travelcard or bus pass.

If a customer uses contactless for a week within zones 4 to 7 they will get their fare capped at £29.40. If a customer buys a weekly Travelcard on their Oyster card for zones 4 to 7 they will also pay the same fare of £29.40.

We are looking at introducing weekly capping on Oyster when the current technology can be updated. This is a complex process as it requires changes not only to the card readers but also to our back office and retailing systems.

– Shashi Verma, Transport for London’s Director of Customer Experience

Greater London is a new hotspot for crash for cash accidents

Accidents deliberately caused in order to claim whiplash compensation are now at the highest level ever according to the UK's largest insurer, Aviva. More than 50% of Aviva's motor injury claims fraud is organised in nature and the insurer now has over 6,500 suspicious injury claims linked to known fraud rings.

Aviva reveals crash for cash hotspots Credit: Aviva

Top 10 Postcodes for Crash for Cash by number of accidents:

  1. Birmingham (B)
  2. Luton (LU)
  3. North London (N)
  4. Manchester (M)
  5. Leeds (LS)
  6. Uxbridge (UB)
  7. Harrow (HA)
  8. North West London (NW)
  9. Bradford (BD)
  10. Slough (IG)

Tom Gardiner, Head of Fraud for Aviva's UK and Ireland General Insurance business, said, "Crash for cash is a serious social problem. No other form of insurance fraud puts the public at risk of serious injury. Imagine you're driving the kids to school when the car in front slams on their brakes without warning, leaving you no chance of avoiding a crash. These deliberate accidents are on the increase, putting innocent motorists at risk simply so the driver in front can get cash compensation"

  • Insurance Fraud Bureau says crash for cash costs £392m per year

London Mayor launches new city Living Wage

The Mayor of London will be stepping behind the coffee counter today as part of his launch of a new rate for the London Living Wage.

Boris Johnson will be marking the beginning of Living Wage week at the first coffee shop in the city to commit to paying the increased wage.

Boris Johnson will announce the new living wage rate this morning Credit: PA

The London Living Wage is calculated on an hourly rate based on the combination of the cost of living in the city and 60 percent of the median wage.

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Thousands of children set for a homeless Christmas

Over 60,000 children in the capital are facing Christmas homeless this year, according to a new report from the charity Shelter.

The charity has found that the number of families living in B&B's and in shared housing has almost doubled in the past three years.

Thousands of families will wake up homeless on Christmas day, Shelter has warned Credit: Rebecca Naden/PA Wire

More than half of those families also say their children's mental and emotional health has been affected by their living situation.

Some children are facing a commute of up to two hours to get to school because of their living arrangements.

London lagging behind with apprenticeships

A new report into London apprenticeships has found that the capital is lagging behind other regions in England- despite having a major problem with youth unemployment.

David Cameron with apprentices and staff at a Tesco store in London Credit: PA

The London Assembly Economy Committee- which compiled the report- is calling on the Mayor to do more to improve the situation- and meet his apprenticeship target of a quarter of a million by 2016.

The number of funded apprenticeships in 2012/13 stood at 77,110, the lowest regional total except for the North East.

Sectors such as construction, ICT, leisure, travel and tourism where London has particular strengths, are among the worst performing sectors in terms of the proportion of apprenticeships created.

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