Melissa Roylett: who is Uber’s new UK boss – and can she get on right side of the law in London?

Uber has appointed a new boss for UK and Ireland. Who is she?

She’s called Melinda Roylett and yesterday she started as Uber’s general manager for the UK and Ireland. The Silicon Valley business, which recently listed on the New York Stock Exchange, has been without a boss in the UK since Tom Elvidge left for office rental company WeWork in March.

What qualifies her for the job?

She has an impressive CV. She joins from digital payment company Square, where she was head of Europe. She also had ten years at PayPal, managing the small and medium business segment.

What will be top of her to-do list?

Get on the right side of Transport for London (TfL). After TfL raised concerns over Uber’s “fit and proper” status to operate in the capital, it was given a temporary extension to its licence, to prove itself. That ends in October. She will focus on winning TfL over.

Is she likely to be able to convince TfL that Uber deserves a licence to operate in London?

Not according to Sky News, which has heard that TfL is likely to award the taxi-hailing app firm another extension before considering a full licence.

But Uber in the UK doesn’t just operate in London, right?

No. Ms Roylett will be overseeing operations in 40 towns and cities in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Globally, Uber has branched out into boat services – and will even be offering punts for Cambridge visitors over the bank holiday weekend.

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Channel 4 offering five days’ paid leave and up to £500 to entice staff to move to Leeds HQ

Channel 4 staff are being offered hundreds of pounds to visit Leeds with their families as part of the broadcaster’s efforts to encourage them to swap London for it’s new regional home, it can be revealed. Eligible workers are being offered five days’ paid leave and a “recce trip allowance” of £350 to cover travel, accommodation and meals while visiting the northern city with their partners.

For those travelling with their children, the allowance rises to £500, according to Channel 4’s relocation policy, which has been obtained by i from the broadcaster using Freedom of Information laws.

It emerged in June that up to 90 per cent of the broadcaster’s staff were choosing to take redundancy rather than move to the new regional base in Leeds or to satellite offices in Bristol and Glasgow.

The broadcaster says its 4 All the UK strategy aims to ensure it is more representative of all of the UK and it is proud that it is opening up jobs for people to work in creative industries outside London.

‘Sweeteners’ for staff

i has learned that incentives being offered to staff wanting to move north include Channel 4 covering the cost of homebuyers’ legal fees, estate agency fees, stamp duty, surveys, mortgage redemption fees, and house removal fees.

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The policy document shows that Channel 4 has also offered to cover any tax liability for the reimbursement of approved relocation expenses over the tax exemption limit of £8,000. Staff can also claim for the cost of temporary accommodation of up to six weeks while looking for a new home.

An allowance of up to £5,000 for temporary living includes van hire to move personal belongs into a rented house, cash for new household goods including carpets and curtains and standard rail or airfare for those separated from their families while in temporary accommodation.

But if staff who have relocated later resign or want to move back to London, they will have to repay the cost of relocation support at a rate of 75 per cent if they quit within the first 12 months of moving, or 50 per cent within two years.

Leeds will play host to Channel 4 (Photo: Shutterstock)
Leeds will play host to Channel 4 (Photo: Shutterstock)

Winning bid

Leeds beat off competition from cities including Manchester and Birmingham, saying at the time it would create more than 1,200 jobs and boost the local economy by £1bn over a decade.

i revealed in April how Leeds City Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority spent nearly £110,500 on its winning bid.

Channel 4’s Freedom of Information response said the relocation policy was “fairly standard” for a company of its size and was designed to ensure staff who wanted to move were no worse off as a result.

But, in a separate Freedom of Information response, Leeds City Council refused to hand over correspondence with Channel 4 about the relocation of the broadcaster’s staff.

The council said disclosing the information would “prejudice commercial interests” and may “lead commercial competitors to make approaches to specific groups of staff” and “would leave Channel 4 vulnerable to being unable to successfully execute its plans to hand over roles to the new offices”.

The broadcaster says its 4 All the UK strategy aims to ensure it is more representative of all of the UK and it is proud that it is opening up jobs for people to work in creative industries outside London.

A spokesman for Channel 4 said the proportion of staff electing not to transfer to a new location was in the range expected from the outset and a large number of roles was being opened up for talent in and around Leeds.

He said: “We’re proud that we’re opening up jobs for people to work in the creative industries outside London. The increase in our original UK production spend from our current quota of 35 percent to a new voluntary 50 percent will result in a further 3,000 jobs being created in the nations and regions creative industries.”

Here’s what Channel 4 staff can look forward to in Leeds

A guide to Leeds sent to Channel 4 staff says the vibrant Yorkshire city is one of the largest and friendliest in the UK and visitors are “guaranteed a warm welcome”.

It highlights the city’s world-class theatres, award-winning restaurants, breathtaking architecture and world-class shopping.

Arts highlights include Leeds Art Gallery, the Henry Moore Institute and the Brotherton Gallery, while the Hepworth gallery and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park are down the road at Wakefield.

The city is home to the Royal Armouries Museum and Harewood House, one of the treasure houses of England with its Capability Brown gardens, is only eight miles away.

Leeds is the only English city outside London to have its own resident opera and ballet companies – the internationally renowned and award-winning Opera North and the Northern Ballet.

The Emerald Headingley Stadium will play host to the third Ashes test this week, while Haworth, the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors and Scarborough are all just a train ride away.

“The shopping offer is unrivalled and our independent scene is thriving. Host to major international sporting events, colourful carnivals, music and food festivals and a whole lot more, discover Leeds and you’ll find more than just a city break,” it says.

More on Channel 4

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Home Office stabbing: Birmingham man Dominic Hornberger charged after knife attack on civil servant

A man from Birmingham has been charged in connection with an attack on a civil servant who was stabbed outside the Home Office last week.

The victim, aged in his 60s, was attacked on Marsham Street on 15 August. He works for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and went to the nearby Home Office for help after suffering knife wounds.

Dominic Hornberger, 29, was charged with grievous bodily harm and possession of a knife in a public place Friday. He appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday, Scotland Yard said.

Mr Hornberger has been remanded in custody and is to appear at Southwark Crown Court on Friday 13 September, according to police.

The incident

Police confirmed the victim’s injuries were not life threatening nor life changing (Photo: Getty)

Police were called to the site in Westminster on Thursday afternoon, following a report of a man with a knife.

Responding to an emergency call, armed officers had arrived at Marsham Street to find a man in his 60s with knife injuries.

London Ambulance Service attended the address and took the victim to a central London hospital. The victim’s injuries were reported at the time to be neither life threatening nor life changing.

Not terrorist related

Officers quickly detained a 29-year-old man, who was found near the scene at Smith Square, the police said at the time.

The police statement gave no information about the suspect’s background or indication of a possible motive.

On the day of the incident, police had said the attack was not thought to be related to terrorism.

Additional reporting from Press Association and Reuters.

More on London:

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‘It’s an insult’: What people in chicken shops actually think about anti-knife crime boxes

In the Morley’s takeaway in Brixton on Thursday afternoon, there’s a queue for fried chicken. Customer Diane Dugdale has already got hers, and we’re sat on the table next to the counter to talk about the Government’s latest attempt to engage with the disenfranchised youth of today: the “Knife Free” campaign printed on takeaway boxes. There’s a pile of them on a shelf above the hot light. 

The Home Office campaign is aimed at young people at risk of so-called “chicken shop grooming”, and 321,000 branded boxes are being distributed at branches of Morley’s, Chicken Cottage, and Dixy Chicken across England and Wales. 

According to the department, reports show gangs target youths at urban chicken shops and seek out vulnerable teenagers to use them in notorious county lines drug operations. The containers will include warnings and real life stories about people who have managed to get away from gang violence. 

Ms Dugdale, from Brixton, used to be a youth worker, and now works in housing. She says the boxes are “an insult – utter bullshit”, and thinks that rather than spending money on a “publicity stunt”, the government should invest in communities.

Lack of opportunities

Knife crime chicken boxes
She said more needs to be done to support communities (Photo: inews)

“Here in Brixton, they’ve closed community centres,” she tells i. “There’s nowhere for kids to go. We’ve heard all this before, but it’s still an issue. It’s idleness and it’s a lack of opportunities. 

“Young people need support, we need money put into schools, we need outreach programmes. We’ve got stories on chicken boxes and more stop and search? 

“I think this is just papering over the cracks. It’s putting a plaster over a complex problem in society. It’s an insult, utter bullshit, actually.”

Bridget Boeteng, a bus driver from Catford, works in Brixton and is in Morley’s with her two young sons, one of whom goes to school nearby. She admits she’s worried about the future and shares Ms Dugdale’s sentiments: where there are deterrents, there should be the promise of security. Ms Boeteng also thinks there’s an obvious disconnect between the country’s politicians and its youth. 

“Boxes alone aren’t going to solve this,” she says.

“Cigarette boxes have warnings on them… people still smoke. Young people need encouragement. They need prospects. Chicken boxes aren’t going to make a real difference and spark positive change. 

“There are fewer opportunities now. All the paths that used to be open have been closed.” 

Hope for ‘positive impact’ on communities

Knife crime chicken boxes
One of the stories is about a boxer called Sean (Photo: inews)

The Home Office said the boxes aren’t the only aspect of the project. Street teams of specially trained youth workers will also visit convenience stores, hair salons, barber shops, places of worship, and community centres in London, Manchester, and Birmingham to talk to young people about the dangers of carrying a knife.

But the government, under new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, clearly feels stories on takeaway packaging are vital in preventing violence. 

Read more:

Fried chicken boxes to carry knife crime warnings under government scheme

Government’s anti-knife chicken boxes criticised for being a ‘crude, offensive and harmful gimmick’

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said: “These chicken boxes will bring home to thousands of young people the tragic consequences of carrying a knife and challenge the idea that it makes you safer.”

Shan Selvendran, managing director of Morley’s, has backed the idea, and said: “We want to promote being knife free by using custom chicken boxes to deliver the message and start conversations amongst all of our customers.”

Separately, a Morley’s spokesperson told i that a trial of the campaign was well received: “Our involvement with the ‘Knife Free’ campaign started after a stabbing outside one of our stores which resulted in a tragic death, in November 2018.

“We agreed to run 20,000 chicken and burger boxes in 15 stores, in a distinctive black and white colour scheme, displaying the #knifefree hashtag, with more detailed messaging inside the box, to be read as our customers enjoy their meal.

“We had significant positive feedback and people coming into stores enquiring about the boxes. We hope this will have some positive impact in the communities we are a part of. Just one person being influenced not to carry a knife is invaluable and we want to contribute to that.” 

If there are good intentions, many feel they have been misplaced. The department has been accused of pedalling racial stereotypes, with some calling the idea “crude” and “offensive”. 

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott and fellow Labour MP David Lammy dismissed the strategy as a harmful gimmick, and called on the Government to properly invest in communities to tackle violent crime. But Home Secretary Priti Patel said she would “not apologise” for “communicating tragic consequences of carrying a knife”. 

‘More needs to be done’

Knife crime chicken boxes
Not all shops will feature the packaging (Photo: inews)

In Brixton, it is getting busier. A group of teenagers arrive and i asks a couple of them what they think of the boxes. Few, if any, have heard of the campaign, but after they understand the concept, one declares that “it sounds interesting”. “Yeah, interesting,” says another. Others seem less enthused, though that might be because they’re on a summer camp of some sort and don’t want to talk to some random bloke about knife crime. 

i passes three franchised branches of Morley’s on the route from Brixton to Peckham, but only select shops will be stocking the #knifefree literature. Still, outside one of them is Hakeem Williams, who lives in Romford but is working in south east London. He’s heard about the initiative. 

He says he doesn’t think the boxes won’t do any harm, and if they “save one life”, then it’s a good thing. But he isn’t sure they’ll have the desired effect in the long-term. 

Mr Williams says: “It’s important to talk about society’s problems. But if we want to enact real change, more needs to be done. The chicken boxes won’t do any harm. Fine. But they’re not going to provide anyone with any jobs are they? Or nurture young people who need nurturing.”

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So we’ve had NHS, policing and immigration plans from Johnson. Stand ready for a schools spending pledge.

So Boris Johnson has pledged 10,000 new police officers, as well as a raft of tougher-sounding anti-crime policies, an Australian-style points-based immigration system (not to mention the relaxion of migration rules for scientists), and £1.8 billion for the NHS.  It isn’t hard to see where he will go next, and soon.

The remaining element of Dominic Cummings’s favourite set of policies – tax cuts for lower-paid workers – may have to wait for a publicity push, because these would need legislation, and the Government has no working majority.  Though the Prime Minister could try them on the Commons anyway, daring Labour to vote them down, as part of an Emergency Budget in October (if there is one).

What is likely to come sooner is a Government commitment to spend at least £5,000 on every secondary school pupil.  ConservativeHome understands that this announcement is written into this summer’s campaigning grid.  But we need no special briefing to work this out for ourselves in any event – and nor does anyone else.  For why peer into the crystal of Downing Street announcements when one can read the book: i.e: Johnson’s Daily Telegraph columns?

For it was in one of these, back during the Conservative leadership election, that he pledged “significantly to improve the level of per pupil funding so that thousands of schools get much more per pupil – and to protect that funding in real terms”.  The £5000 figure was briefed out separarely.  This promise was one of the two main big ticket spending items of his campaign, the other being that undertaking to raise police spending.

“It is simply not sustainable that funding per pupil should be £6800 in parts of London and £4200 in some other parts of the country,” the former Mayor of the capital wrote.  Just as the NHS spending announcement was framed by a visit to hospitals in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, expect any school spending news to be projected by a trip to schools in Leave-voting provincial England: all part of the push to squeeze the Brexit Party.

If that column is any guide, don’t be surprised to see a maths, science and IT element too – which would also be very Cummings – as well as a stress on “giving real parity of esteem to vocational training and apprenticeships”.  There is evidence that these are popular all-round, but especially among older voters.  Gavin Williamson is bound to have a supporting role, just as Priti Patel has had with the weekend’s law and order initiatives, but Johnson will lead.

Like his other spending promises, Johnson’s school pledge may not be deliverable in the event of a No Deal Brexit, and there are inevitably questions anyway about timescale anyway.  But if you want to know what more will be in his campaigning package, look no further.

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Is Johnson aiming for a snap election?

Version one is that, as soon as Parliament returns in September, Boris Johnson will seek, and obtain, a general election.  He will thereby seize the initiative, commit again to leaving the EU by October 31, squeeze the Brexit Party’s vote, and exploit an opposition vote divided elsewhere, in England and Wales, between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.  Although the Conservatives will lose seats in London and Scotland these will perhaps be offset by gains in the Midlands and North.  The sum of this case is that the new Prime Minister must move early before Parliament proves him powerless, now that he has next to no working majority.

Version two is that Johnson hasn’t the credibility, under such a scenario, to squeeze the Brexit Party as much as he needs to.  Instead, he must prove his commitment to that October 31 date.  And he can only do that by going for it, deal or no deal.  Which he must do until or unless the Commons votes that it has no confidence in his Government, or the Philip Hammond/Oliver Letwin/Dominic Grieve/Yvette Cooper continuum, aided and abetted by the Speaker, finds a means of preventing Brexit by the end of October.  At which point, the Prime Minister seeks and obtains an election, as above, and tries to utilise the differences between his opponents.

Which version you believe may depend on, inter alia: how quickly CCHQ can get election-ready; whether you think voters would treat any poll as a referendum on Brexit (as in 2016) or a vote on wider domestic policy (as in the snap election of 2017); what the EU does next; what any Johnson manifesto might say – would it unambiguously commit to scrapping the Withdrawal Agreement? – and, above all, whether it would be too late for an election to stop Britain leaving the EU by October 31 in any event.  A poll by which date Brexit had already happened would obviously be different from one by which it had not – especially if squeezing Nigel Farage’s party is the name of the game.

The political story of this August, unexpected foreign affairs or other crises aside, will be about these alternatives – an election that Johnson either forces himself or is forced on him.  There will be a mass of conjecture and a shortage of facts.  This will be intensified by claims about what Dominic Cummings does and doesn’t think, and he is a man who likes to throw his opponents off balance.  So for what it’s worth, our advice is to stay cool, hang loose, enjoy the summer – and rule almost nothing out.  If you do the last, you may well be imitating Johnson and Cummings themselves, hunkered down as they will be with policy wonks and constitutional lawyers.

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