• August 18, 2004

More women than ever were breaking the glass ceiling to become London councils' top earners, and the private sector was catching up.

Many believed the gender gap in the top jobs would continue to decrease as the older generations retire and attitudes became more open.

This could already be seen in a GMB union report showing figures for Kingston and Richmond councils, where 48 per cent and 39 per cent respectively of the top five per cent of earners were.

The figures, according to New Malden businesswoman Yvette Hoskings-Janes, who ran Your Learned Friend legal consultants, is an indicator of things to come.

Ms Hosking-Janes, who was also a member of the Sutton Businesswomen's Lunch network, said: "A lot depends whether you are in the public sector or the private sector.

"Public sector experiences you hear tend to be very positive because it is a mandate of the sector to treat everybody the same and for them to have the same opportunities.

"There are lots of private companies which are in the same position and which are very family-friendly, but a lot of that depends on which part of the private sector you are in."

A former oil company lawyer, Ms Hosking-Janes added: "I felt I had to know everything about drilling and oil wells while a lot of my male colleagues simply did not care.

"Attitudes are changing, but that was a very male-dominated area. I only ever met one female engineer."

Lee Chalmers, chairman of the Kingston Women's Network and owner of Authentic Living, which helped people change their lives and jobs, said: "I am 33 and never in my life has it occurred to me that I could not do something because I am a woman.

"I have had no experience of any blocks to me in any way but I do think that May have something to do with my attitude."

President of Richmond Chamber of Commerce Chris Coopers said: "Many women have made tremendous strides in senior posts with business.

"I think there has been a change in the way things work, particularly in the south-east, where you can no longer afford to have the man as the sole breadwinner.

"Our membership now is 35 per cent women."

  • August 18, 2004

Patients branded Kingston Hospital's toilets the dirtiest in the UK.

A survey revealed 38 per cent of Kingston patients who took part believed the toilet and bathroom facilities were not very clean, or not clean at all.

The study was conducted across nearly 600 NHS trusts.

  • August 18, 1989

London Fire Brigade revealed plans to cut the number of fire engines at New Malden fire station from two to one.

Opponents said cash savings were being put above safety.

The station now retains one fire engine.

  • August 15, 1964

Houses in Tolworth were rocked by an explosion during a fire at the Rediffusion Vision Services factory in Fullers Avenue.

About 200 people watched firefighters from Surbiton, Esher, Malden and Wimbledon battle the blaze for an hour and a half.