It is two years since the cowardly terror attack on innocents enjoying a night out in our community around London Bridge and Borough Market. Eight people were killed and almost fifty injured with many hundreds more affected by the appalling atrocity. Whilst we will never forget the attack, our community is incredibly strong and proved terrorism cannot succeed by staying united and regaining our wonderful, vibrant area very quickly.
I’m pleased the police dealt with the terrorists so fast and that medical professionals and NHS were able to help so many, saving lives. I remain grateful to the cabbies who helped people escape that evening, the hotels and other businesses who offered sanctuary overnight. Above all, I’m proud to serve a community that refused to give into the hate of the attackers. Hate is easy. Forgiveness, love, hope and the strength to rebuild lives and continue are tougher but were achieved here through many acts of kindness as well as hard graft.
The inquest is underway and grim details of the attack have been made public. I cannot imagine how harrowing it must be for families of the victims, although acts of true heroism have also emerged. Some people acted that night in ways we can all only hope to under similar circumstances. Those who fought to save others, knowing they could be attacked, and those who provided first aid until paramedics were able to intervene.
Southwark Cathedral and its team led by Dean Andrew Nunn deserve special thanks for working so hard to reunite the community and regain the atmosphere we all love around Borough Market and London Bridge. The Market Trust also acted fast and many other local organisations, from Southwark Council, to Barclays on Borough High Street, to the United St Saviour’s charity, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, and even News UK, all stepped in to provide urgent help to our community and the businesses affected.
Many local employers discovered they also faced a significant loophole in terror insurance following the attack. The area was shut down for 10 days and around 150 businesses lost over £2 million but insurers were not obliged to cover these losses and the Government refused to contribute. I campaigned to change the law and the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Act has now passed, which means no businesses affected in the same way as those at London Bridge and Borough Market would lose out in future.
The attack also revealed that public donations intended to help people affected by terrorism were subject to less ethical companies’ profiteering. On top of admin fees, JustGiving took over £500,000 from donations following the attack here, the atrocity at Manchester Arena and the Grenfell tragedy. I launched a campaign to prevent donations in these circumstances being pocketed by the unscrupulous and I’m pleased that JustGiving have now announced an end to their profit-making fee.
Much has happened since the evening of the attack two years ago, but it will never be forgotten by those who lost loved ones or witnessed the vile assault on innocent people. It will also serve to strengthen and unite us further but also act as a reminder not to take our lives, area or opportunities for granted.