Recently by David Tilley
In the latter half of last year more passengers were paid refunds for journeys delayed by late-running trains on the Metropolitan and Jubilee lines than on any other underground lines.
Figures obtained by the Observer under the Freedom of Information Act show Tube bosses doled out ÃÂ£118,447 for 26,273 claims relating to the Met line between June and November. Jubilee Line passengers received paybacks totalling ÃÂ£73,907 for 19,369 claims in the same period.
Travellers can apply to Transport for London (TfL) for a reimbursement equivalent to a single fare if their journey is delayed by more than 15 minutes.
Performance figures for roughly the same six months reveal the District line suffered the most late-running trains, an average of 28 a month.
The Piccadilly and Metropolitan lines held the second poorest record with 24 delays each a month, followed by the Central line's 22.
Those using the Jubilee line experienced an average of 13 services a month in which arrival was more than a quarter of an hour overdue.
However, these are absolute numbers and do not take into account the total number of services run on each line.
There may be a number of reasons why TfL pays out more to Metropolitan and Jubilee line passengers than any other.
Statistics show travellers using the Met have the longest average journey time of any line - around 41 minutes.
This, combined with the fact the line stretches from zone 1 to zone 9 and therefore a typical fare may be more expensive, could explain why a Met passenger would be more inclined to seek a refund than someone who hops on the Northern line for a handful of stops within two or three zones at relatively low cost, for instance.
Furthermore, long sections of the Metropolitan and Jubilee lines run on the surface, especially in north-west London, so are susceptible to the impact of bad weather compared to, for example, the Victoria line, which is entirely underground.
Anthony Wood, chairman of the Harrow Public Transport Users' Association, attributes the large number of claims on the Metropolitan to three factors.
He said: "One, the average journey on the line is longer for each person, so the fare is higher. Two, the line has the oldest trains on the system so there's more failures, and three, the signalling system is the oldest on the network, so there are more faults.
"These are the main failures but these are being sorted within the next seven to eight years - a much longer period than we were originally told."
He added: "There are a large number of passengers who know the customer service charter and are quite rightly making claims."
To celebrate the opening of its new Harlesden store, Specsavers has teamed up with the Observer to offer four lucky readers the chance to each win ÃÂ£150 worth of eyecare.
The competition is part of the store's two-week celebration to mark its launch.
Each prize includes a free eye examination and a pair of designer specs up to the value of ÃÂ£125.
The four winners can chose from well-known brands including Jasper Conran, Quiksilver, Red or Dead, Missoni and Specsavers' own best selling range of designer glasses - Osiris. A trained store stylist will be on hand to advise on the best frame style and shape to suit their face.
The closing date is March 27.
Heroes of the Battle of Britain visited Bentley Priory in Stanmore on Sunday.
The event attracted 300 spectators and air enthusiasts who came along to pay homage to those who fought in the battle to defend the country from Nazi invasion in 1940.
Eighteen veterans in their 90s met visitors and signed autographs for fans who had come to the former RAF base, which closed last May, which was headquarters of Fighter Command during the Second World War and played a critical role in the conflict.
Squadron leader, Erica Ferguson, executive consultant of the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust, said: "The veterans worked extremely hard all day. They're in their 90s so they're not young men. They're not young in body, but young in mind."
VSM Estates, which owns the site, announced plans to redevelop Bentley Priory last year, with 103 luxury homes in the gardens, while the main public areas of the officers' mess associated with Lord Dowding, Fighter Command and the Battle of Britain are to be developed into an education and heritage centre by the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust to commemorate those who fought and died in the Battle.
But these have been delayed after the sale of the site failed to go through, with the current economic climate blamed for stalling the plans and agreement could not be reached with a preferred developer. VSM will now retain ownership of the site until the property market improves.
Air Chief Marshall Sir Brian Burridge, chairman of the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust, said: "We understand that difficult market conditions have affected the sale of Bentley Priory. We have worked closely with VSM Estates throughout this process and although the plans to deliver the vibrant new museum within the Mansion House will be put back for now, we remain dedicated to these proposals and we look forward to progressing these plans in the coming months."
VSM Estates plans to build a museum in the Mansion House to commemorate the Battle of Britain, which it says will be carried forward once the economic climate begins to strengthen, as well as restoring the grade II-listed priory building.
Sq ldr Ferguson added: "The news about the redevelopment plans is very disappointing, because we were hoping that it would be ready for the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in September 2010."
Young people across Harrow are to benefit from impressive new sports facilities now that the borough has secured a ÃÂ£4.2million grant.
A multi-use sports hall, gym, IT suite, art room, recording studio, cafe and outdoor pitch will be constucted on the Cedars Estate in Harrow Weald thanks to the project, entitled The Pitch, A Place to Go.
It was announced on Tuesday that Watford FC's Community Sports and Education Trust would work with Harrow Council to develop the idea, after the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) gave the multi-million pound grant the go-ahead.
If planning applications are approved it is hoped yougsters between 11 and 19, as well as disabled people up to the age of 24, will steer clear of antisocial behaviour and use the club to socialise and hone their sporting skills.
But far from just being a centre for children to enjoy football, council chiefs say the site will offer a diverse range of activities, including karate, basketball, art, music and cookery.
It is anticipated that the council and Watford FC will also look to use the facilites to help improve young people's health, diet, fitness and social skills, as well as provide important information on issues ranging from education, training, sex and mental health.
Speaking after the announcement Paul Clark, the council's corporate director of children's services, expressed his delight at securing the money.
He said: "This grant is fantastic news. Young people helped us choose the design and shape of this application so we will be delivering facilities they have actively been asking for.
"Over the next few weeks we will be working with residents, voluntary and private groups, and young people to ensure we put the right planning application forward and secure approval for what I am sure will prove to be a great legacy for Harrow."
Chris Norton, Chairman of Watford's CSE Trust, said: "We are delighted to receive this grant, which will now allow us, working closely with Harrow Council, an opportunity to make a real difference through sport and learning outside of the Watford area.
"We are honoured to be able to help deliver a project of this scale, demonstrating the expertise within, and the development of our community trust."
England rugby stars met staff and patients when they toured the Royal Orthopaedic Centre in Stanmore.
Five members of England's Senior Elite Player Squad and England Rugby team - Toby Flood, Harry Ellis, Nick Kennedy, Delon Armitage and Riki Flutey - joined coach Martin Johnson in visiting the spinal injury unit at the centre on Brockley Hill last month.
The hospital is the largest orthopaedic hospital in the UK and is regarded as a leader in its field.
Addicts in desperate need of treatment may revert to crime if health bosses carry out plans to hand responsibility for drug treatment programmes to private firms.
That is according to a senior source at Harrow Primary Care Trust (PCT), who says plans are in the pipeline to commission out the services in a bid to cut costs - raising fears the quality of the provision will be compromised.
The whistleblower approached the Observer because of growing concerns that drug users will no longer get the attention they desperately need and that drug-related crime could rise as a result.
The source said: "If all the services are put out for tender it is likely that voluntary groups will run substance misuse programmes for a lot less money.
"These services do offer decent treatment, of course, but they have a history of having lower standards because they don't have to meet the same government criteria.
"Because of this they are not required to hire staff with greater qualifications and are therefore, comparatively, less qualified to deal with these vulnerable patients."
If these plans do go ahead, the doctor says staff who currently work within the service will be moved or redeployed, not necessarily within the same field, and crucial relationships with users will be lost.
They added: "Statistics show that the best kind of treatment for drug users comes when they deal with the same person on a regular basis.
"If staff are moved around, this rapport will be lost and, therefore, so will the effectiveness of the treatment.
"If this happens then more drug users face failing to deal with their problems and potentially there will be higher levels of crime in the area."
The medic added that at present there are seven programmes set to go out to tender, used by 642 people, according to the latest figures - many of them for the use of drugs like heroin and crack cocaine.
A record number of youngsters flocked to polling stations this year, wanting to ensure their favourite candidate was elected to the UK Youth Parliament.
More than 7,000 young people voted at more than 20 polling stations across Harrow in the week leading up to the announcement - almost 2,000 more than in last year's election.
Harrow's two places in the UK Youth Parliament were won by Aakash Bharania, and Rhiya Pau, both 15, while Amar Chandarana and Mahek Metha claimed deputy spots.
The budding Gordon Browns and Boris Johnsons, who had all been nominated for the posts by their peers, were given the results at the Civic Centre last week and will now join members drawn from all over England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The UK Youth Parliament (UKYP) was set up nine years ago as a way to improve youth participation in decision-making.
Harrow had previously been allowed just one elected Member of Youth Parliament (MYP) on the UKYP and one deputy, but has been asked to elect two of each for the past two years.
An internet class that helps Muslim women detect the tell-tale signs of extremism in their children has been praised by government officials.
The Harrow Council scheme, launched earlier this month, was one of three Harrow-run projects up for awards in the Prevention of Violent Terrorism awards, held last Tuesday.
Labelled the E-safety training workshop, the idea saw off competition from Brent, Hounslow and Lambeth in the best women's project category.
The class aims to cover safety advice on the use of internet messaging, social networking websites and chat rooms, but also helps to alert Muslim mothers about teenagers who might be enticed to look at websites which promote terrorism or extremism.
The event, which was organised by the Government Office for London and the London Prevent Network, was hosted by minister for London and Harrow East MP, Tony McNulty.
Harrow was also shortlisted for prizes in the best youth project and innovation categories.
Councillors are supporting the campaign for Gurkhas' rights and encouraging the public to get behind the ex-servicemen.
Harrow Council has put forward a motion that will urge local MPs to support the campaign and write to the Prime Minister to demand help for retired British Gurkhas.
Labour group head Bill Stephenson, council leader David Ashton (Conservative) and the Liberal Democrats' head Chris Noyce have all backed the plans.
The council is also asking its chief executive Michael Lockwood to look sympathetically at street collections in aid of the ex-servicemen who have been suffering financially.
Mayor of Harrow Councillor John Nickolay said: "I hope we are speaking for 99-100 per cent of the public when I say the Gurkhas are so grateful for what they do have and that they deserve to be treated with respect.
"They are from Nepal, but they are so patriotic for Britain."
Chairman of the Royal British Legion Harrow branch John Stelfox said: "We will obviously help in any way that we can.
"We have 15 Gurkha members in the Harrow British legion and I do know a lot of them are suffering financially, so any support we can give them we will."
The motion was heard at a council meeting last Thursday.
One of Britain's oldest people has celebrated her 110th birthday.
Elspeth Marion Wood celebrated her birthday at the nursing home where she lives on Wednesday.
Her son, Tony Wood, of Bentley Way, Stanmore, visits his mother every day and is happy she is celebrating another year.
The 71-year-old said: "She is a delightful person. When she turns on her smile everyone just melts.
"As far as I know she is the oldest person in Harrow and has been for a few years."
The mother-of-one has lived in the borough for more than 23 years, having moved to Uxbridge Road, in Hatch End, when she was 86.
Mrs Wood lived in the residential unit with a carer until November 2008, when she was moved to the Rowanweald Care Home, in Weald Lane, Harrow Weald, after she broke her hip.
Mr Wood said: "She started breaking her hips when she was about 100 years old.
"She is no longer mobile and she can't walk, but she has got all her marbles, she still tells jokes."
Mrs Wood has lived through two world wars and historical events including the first lunar landing (man on the moon).
Her son says she has a lot of interesting stories to tell.
Mr Wood said: "She was one of the ladies who could not go to university in her day so between 1917 and 1919 she was at a teacher training college learning to teach and she taught during the Second World War.
"She was a real Victorian baby."
The pensioner married in 1928 after meeting Herbert Wood, who was originally from Chester. He died in 1980 at the age of 83.
After 109 birthdays Mrs Wood is having a small party to celebrate her big day.
Her son said: "We are going to have a small celebration with some of her closest friends.
"I think her secret for living so long is the fact we all do our best to make her life enjoyable every day."