One of the weird things that have popped up in London during/post-pandemic is a proliferation of ‘American’ Candy stores, mostly concentrated on Oxford street. Like, more than thirty on one street. Well, it turns out that there is a reason for it.
And it’s not good.
One, it appears to be an elaborate tax-dodging scheme, that is now under investigation.
Two, the stores are selling counterfeit and potentially dangerous candy.
Avoid these places when you’re traveling in London!
A haul of fake Wonka chocolate bars worth £22,000 is among counterfeit products totaling £100,000 seized from three stores on London’s Oxford Street.
Westminster City Council said officers raided the unnamed stores on Monday, taking away an estimated £22,000 worth of potentially dangerous Wonka bars from one store alone.
Officers seized 2,838 disposable vapes which contained excessive levels of nicotine, tank sizes above the permitted level, and products which had not been authorized by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
The haul of counterfeit products included toys, Apple and Samsung products, chargers, shisha products, and watches.
The council said the raid was part of its investigation into 30 US-style sweet and souvenir shops on Oxford Street for business rates evasion amounting to £7.9 million.
The council said it believed that very few of the shops were serving sufficient customers to be commercially viable and were instead being used to avoid business rate bills and possibly commit other offenses.
Westminster City Council recently wrote to 28 freeholders urging them to consider the impact of US sweet shops on Oxford Street and has so far seized around £574,000 worth of counterfeit and illegal goods from American candy and souvenir stores.
Complaints received by Westminster City Council trading standards about sweet shops had included display prices missing, products costing more than expected, out-of-date food, and counterfeit products.
Westminster City Council leader Adam Hug said: “Anyone walking down Oxford Street is struck by the ever-expanding number of US-style sweet shops and poor quality souvenir outlets. They are not only an eyesore; they are a threat to the status and value of what is supposed to be the nation’s premier shopping street.
“The problem is that owners of buildings are turning a blind eye to those who sublet them as it means they are not liable for business rates. That’s why we have a rash of US candy stores in prestige locations.
“This needs to stop and we will be stepping up pressure on landlords to make it clear they are responsible for Oxford Street being overrun with these kinds of stores. The people selling overpriced and often out-of-date sweets are cheating the UK taxpayer and very often swindling their customers into the bargain.”
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) warned consumers in May not to buy or eat counterfeit Wonka Bars as there was a possibility that they were being produced or repackaged by unregistered businesses and by individuals who could be contravening food hygiene, labeling and traceability laws.
Some counterfeit Wonka Bars removed from sale had been found to contain allergens which were not listed on the label, posing a major health risk to anyone who suffers from a food allergy or intolerance.
Tina Potter, head of incidents at the FSA, said: “There is no way of knowing what ingredients are in these bars or what food hygiene practices are being followed by the people making or repackaging them.
“If you have bought these knock-off bars, do not eat them or give them to friends and family.”
It said any Wonka-branded chocolate which did not feature the official Ferrero or Ferrara Candy Company trademarks on the label were likely to be a counterfeit product.
Black men and women are still facing racism and discrimination in modern-day Britain in a nation that would be poorer without the efforts of the Windrush generation, the Duke of Cambridge has said.
William was speaking as he and the Duchess of Cambridge attended the unveiling of a national monument at London’s Waterloo Station to celebrate the dreams and courage of the Windrush generation who came to help Britain rebuild after the Second World War.
The monument is a 12-ft statue – of a man, woman, and child in their Sunday best standing on top of suitcases – that was unveiled on Wednesday to mark Windrush Day.
In a speech to those who had gathered for the unveiling, which included Windrush passengers and high-profile members of the black community, William said: “We know without question that the Windrush generation have made our culture richer, our services stronger, and our fellow countrymen safer.”
William also spoke of the Windrush scandal which began to surface in 2017 after it emerged that hundreds of Commonwealth citizens, many of whom were from the Windrush generation, had been wrongly detained, deported, and denied legal rights.
He said: “Sadly, that is also the case for members of the Windrush generation who were victims of racism when they arrived here, and discrimination remains an all too familiar experience for black men and women in Britain in 2022.
“Only a matter of years ago, tens of thousands of that generation were profoundly wronged by the Windrush scandal. That rightly reverberates throughout the Caribbean community here in the UK as well as many in the Caribbean nations.
“Therefore, alongside celebrating the diverse fabric of our families, our communities, and our society as a whole – something the Windrush generation has contributed so much to – it is also important to acknowledge the ways in which the future they sought and deserved has yet to come to pass.
“Diversity is what makes us strong, and it is what reflects the modern, outward-looking values that are so important to our country.”
Next year marks 75 years since the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks in 1948, bringing 500 passengers from the Caribbean.
William spoke of the wide-ranging areas of British life which have been shaped by the work and skills of the Windrush generation and their descendants including commerce, manufacturing, sport, science, engineering, and fashion.
They have also provided valuable work for the transport system and the NHS which was founded two weeks after the Empire Windrush docked in England in 1948.
The Government, which has provided £1 million in funding for the monument, said it “symbolizes the courage, commitment, and resilience of the thousands of men, women, and children who traveled to the UK to start new lives from 1948 to 1971”.
It also acknowledges the Windrush generation’s “outstanding contribution” to British society and is intended to be “a permanent place of reflection”, it added.
Communities Secretary Michael Gove described the event as a “historical and profoundly moving moment” but also said “sorry” for the pain which had been caused by the Windrush scandal.
The Windrush generation had faced discrimination when they arrived in Britain and, in a reference to the scandal, he added “mistakes were made by the state”.
Mr. Gove said: “I want to emphasize how sorry we in Government are for those mistakes. Words can’t make up for the hurt and anguish that was caused but lessons have been learned.”
The Queen also sent her congratulations on what she described as a “historic occasion”.
In a personal message, she wrote: “The unveiling at Waterloo Station on Windrush Day serves as a fitting thank you to the Windrush pioneers and their descendants, on recognition of the profound contribution they have made to the United Kingdom over the decades.
“It is my hope that the memorial will serve to inspire present and future generations and I send you my warmest good wishes on this historic occasion.”
Waterloo station was chosen because thousands of people who arrived from the Caribbean passed through the station on their way to start their new lives across the country, the Government said.
The unveiling is one of dozens of events and activities across England to celebrate Windrush Day 2022.
The first glimpse of the statue came when the drapes which covered the statue were gently pulled away by the royal couple, Windrush pioneers Alford Gardner and Joh Richards, both aged 96, plus a group of schoolchildren.
It was created by Jamaican artist Basil Watson, who said his monument pays tribute to the “dreams and aspirations, courage and dignity, skills and talents” of the Windrush generation who arrived with “a hope of contributing to a society that they expected would welcome them in return”.
He said: “My parents, along with a great many others, took the long arduous voyage from the Caribbean with very little or nothing other than their aspirations, their courage, and a promise of opportunity for advancement.
“This monument tells that story of hope, determination, a strong belief in selves and a vison for the future.”
Familiar faces from the worlds of politics, activism, arts, and entertainment were among the guests including Baroness Lawrence, the mother of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, London mayor Sadiq Khan, actor Rudolph Walker, chefs Levi Roots, and Ainsley Harriott, plus former police superintendent Leroy Logan.
Moving onto an oft-forgot member of the London Underground, the Docklands Light Railway is a unique entity of all the lines. The DLR is also one of the youngest parts of the Underground as it’s only been around since 1987. As it celebrates its 35th year of ferrying Londoners around the Docklands, we’re going to explore its history from its origins through multiple extensions that have brought DLR’s route to about 24 miles. Read on and you might find there is plenty of interesting history related to DLR that you’d never considered. (Note: the DLR is not technically a ‘Tube’ line but is a light railway owned and operated by Transport for London).
The Docklands Light Railway came about as part of the redevelopment of the Docklands by the London Docklands Development Corporation. After World War II, the area around the Docklands became less utilized for shipping due to the development of containerization. The docks had been connected to the national railway system through the London and Blackwell Railway, but that closed in 1966 due to a lack of traffic. When the LDDC got its start, a light railways system was envisioned as part of the development, helping to solve issues of transporting Londoners from Central London into the eastern part of the city.
The LDDC then commissioned London Transport to explore several different routes and the LDDC and London Transport had hoped to use existing routes to develop DLR, but it appeared that there was no capacity to integrate the light railways into the existing network. Two routes were developed from Stratford to Island Gardens and Tower Gateway to Island Gardens. The DLR was meant to be constructed as cheaply as possible and only 11 trains were purchased, with only 9 or 10 expected to run at peak times. DLR was also developed to be entirely automated to cut down on staff, with the trains and stations both being automatic. However, this didn’t mean that the trains had no human operators in case of a problem, with Passenger Service Agents who not only patrolled the trains but could take control of them if necessary. While the Underground didn’t have the capacity at the time to link to DLR, the railways also made use of existing lines wherever possible with little new construction required.
Queen Elizabeth II then opened the line in 1987 and was immediately much more successful than predicted. It wasn’t long before the hourly ridership numbers were outpacing the original predicted daily figures. This necessitated an increased number of trains and soon extensions to DLR. The railways experienced numerous growth spurts throughout the 1990s and 2000s, expanding first into the City of London and the Royal Docks, then to Greenwich and Lewisham, and finally to the London City Airport and Woolwich. Eventually, the trains were further expanded to three cars while further expanding out to Stratford International rail station in anticipation of the 2012 Olympics. If you were to look at the DLR map as it exists today, you’d might think it resembled a giant squid with its tentacles flailing about the Docklands.
Originally run by London Regional Transport, the LDDC took over around 1992 and then operated by private sector franchisees from 1997 to the present. When Transport for London came about in 2000, they took over the management of DLR while continuing to run it through franchises, with the current franchisee being KeolisAmey Docklands LLC who has held the franchise since 2014 on a seven-year contract that was extended another four years in 2021 to run until 2025. It remains to be seen how DLR will continue to grow further in the future, though Transport for London will certainly be up to the challenge.
We do a deep dive into the London Tube’s fascinating history, covering the history of the tube network, fascinating stories, London’s abandoned and hidden Tube stations and so much more. This comprehensive book covers everything from the first Metropolitan Railway to the newly opened Elizabeth Line. In addition to all of this, we’ll provide useful and practical information using the network on your travels. It’s a combination of a history book, guidebook, and culture book.
Following a similar format to our previous books, such as 101 Budget Britain Travel Tips and 101 London Travel Tips it is a pleasure to read. Tube enthusiasts will adore this 300-page book, sure to learn something new about the most famous rail network in the world. From the history of every tube line, including facts about each tube line, to long-reads on the history of specific Tube-related topics, this comprehensive guide is a must-have for the Tube enthusiast.
This handy little book also includes tips on how to navigate and use the network. It is small enough to take with you on your journeys across the network.
Due to ship in September, Anglotopia is opening pre-orders starting today and we need to sell 100 copies in advance to gauge interest for the full print run.
Those who pre-order today though will receive a special deal – FREE SHIPPING. This is a limited-time offer, and the pre-sale order must be made by Monday, June 20th to be eligible for this fantastic deal.
This book will make an excellent holiday present, so be sure to order extra copies as holiday gifts for the Londonphile in your life, by all means, go ahead!