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This is the official website of London Tonight, on ITV1 in London and the South East every weeknight at 6pm.


Thursday 5th June

London Tonight Tonight Thursday 5th June

Good afternoon.

Grief is a common human emotion but is dealt with in different ways in different cultures. Many of us, from a traditional Anglo-Saxon heritage adopt the stiff-upper lip approach - we grit our teeth, swallow hard and only allow watery eyes to be our concession to a deep inner sadness.

This morning, a beautiful Eritrean woman shook with grief and wept openly as a solicitor read a moving statement on her behalf, about the knife-killing of her daughter. It was made all the more powerful because of the properly "matter-of-fact" way in which the lawyer read it. I did the lip-biting bit when I heard it, but insist on inviting you to share in Arsema's mother's grief. Passion is so much more moving than protest.

Pause, Breath, Proceed.

Now, despite the protestations of Lennon and McCartney, Blackburn is lucky compared with London. "4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire", the Fab 4 warbled on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. But as many as 600 of our streets are currently being dug up by Thames Water and, if our own WC1 part of London is anything to go by , you can add a "0" to Blackburn's 4,000 if you want a guesstimate of London's hole-count. So traffic is gridlocked, local shopkeepers are up in arms at the disruption, and only car repair shops are happy, dealing with damaged suspensions and supplying replacement tyres.

But this is a rubix cube of a public policy challenge: valuable water is being wasted on a Biblical scale because, under public ownership, investment in a Victorian network ground to a halt in the Edwardian and Georgian eras, resulting in a complete mess in the Elizabethan era. Privatisation brought proper businessmen and women into the frame who took fat profits and, where the taps were still working, washed their hands of the responsibility to invest. Then OFWAT told them to sort themselves out or be flushed down the pan of corporate history. And today Thames Water reported bumper profits after bumper price rises.

So, here we are: they are doing what they have been told to and it is causing chaos. They are your streets and your roads; it is, for most of you, your water company and your water rates. You want your thirst quenched, your body cleaned and your geraniums blossoming, but you also want to be able to get to work and pay a fair price for water. Can it be done? Ben and Damien will turn dry statistics into human stories and we'll ask the man from Thames Water if he has answers, or wants to take a pistol and a bottle of scotch into a dark room.

Or he may chose to sit on the 2nd World War bomb in Bromley-by-Bow which, every now and then, starts ticking. The powers that be are confident it won't become Bromley by Boom but it is very exciting. Harris - and I chose not to make a joke about his 2nd WW namesake who ran the Lancaster squadrons - is "chocks away" but from a safe distance.

Distancing themselves from responsibility, we suspect, is the local authority who have just decided a man who has suffered with a weird form of skin cancer for years and years, and has had eleven hours care a day, now only needs half that amount. He is no fitter and his consultant thinks he still needs the same level of care. The social services say it has nothing to do with cost-cutting so it must be something else: answers on a postcard to Nick who has already ruled out voodoo, entropy, osmosis and sun-spots.

Our final offering is wonderful. Actually, Stevie Wonder-ful. The master song-smith is in town to promote his European tour and he tells you, via Nick Wallis, all about it. Chrissie celebrates by learning to tango on London Bridge and the papers will be used, after we have read the front pages to you, to wrap round yet more leaking pipes.

It is a tough old world out there. Dear Mr. Wonder, Can you please find me a Place in The Sun?

Alastair & Nina