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Letters to the editor: 01/12/16

Good news on skills from the Chancellor

The Chancellor announced in last week’s Autumn Statement that skills funding is being devolved to London.

This is very good news for London as the city will now be able to make autonomous decisions that take account of local realities in the workforce.

London South Bank University (LSBU) plays a key role in providing education in south London, where many of our students come from and where we sponsor an academy school and a University Technical College and where over 1000 employers already send their staff to study with us so we fully understand the importance of this work.

We also welcome the establishment of a £2billion fund to provide more tax relief for businesses and universities, like LSBU, that spend money on research and development linked to key areas of our work such as robotics and artificial intelligence.

Science and innovation play a central role in many tech firms and in helping to create a modern, productive economy. If the UK is to stay competitive globally, research and development in universities is vital and whilst we need to raise our overall level of R&D spend we must also use any additional funding to find new ways of enhancing the translation of our research into new products and benefits to business and to society.

It’s pleasing to see that in this area LSBU has been recognised as one of the top UK universities winning the coveted title of Entrepreneurial university of the year and we look forward to further developing our research and enhancing the speed its translated into real societal benefit within the new funding environment.

I would therefore like to congratulate the Mayor on securing support for creating more high quality professional and technical opportunities for Londoners and look forward to working with our local stakeholders to make this happen and to enhancing the opportunities created through the enterprise and innovation in south London.

Professor Dave Phoenix, OBE, DL, Vice Chancellor, LSBU


MPs anti-democratic and unclear on EU

Southwark MPs Neil Coyle, Helen Hayes and Harriet Harman have to all intents and purposes turned their backs on and, by their reported views on the recent EU referendum, have pretty much insulted more than a quarter of Southwark’s electorate that voted Brexit (‘I’ll vote against Article 50 being triggered says Bermondsey MP’ Southwark News article, November 24, 2016).

Two MPs, Coyle and Hayes, say they will not support parliament triggering ‘Article 50’ which the democratic process of the EU referendum result now requires with a clear decisive ‘out’, so that the process of the UK withdrawing from EU membership may move forward as smoothly as possible as the nation expects.

Camberwell & Peckham’s Harriet Harman QC MP reserves her usual safe, characteristic noncommittal view, this time about Article 50, before she decides to go with the parliamentary flow for Yea or Nay. I suspect Harriet will bray “Nay” when parliament’s MPs eventually shuffle about guiltily in the Commons aisles For or Against Article 50, when finally voted on in parliament.

What a shambles our Southwark MPs are exhibiting with their anti-democratic and altogether unclear views about the EU referendum that the nation as a whole has decisively voted ‘No’ to regarding EU membership.

A little less than three quarters of Southwark that voted may not have wanted it. But, the nation as a whole did vote ’Out’ of the EU. Southwark MPs should accept this and reassure Southwark that non-membership of the EU must and can work to Southwark’s and the nation’s advantage.

Name and address supplied.


You can still us help fight the Housing Act!

Good news for Southwark Council tenants – the first part of the cruel and unworkable Housing and Planning Act 2016, ‘Pay to Stay’ (means testing council tenants) has been dropped thanks to broad opposition, co-ordinated by ‘Axe the Housing Act’.

And it has been announced that the sale of higher value council homes will be delayed by at least a year.

A lot still to fight for though, as other parts of this law – e.g. ending lifetime secure tenancies – are still in the pipeline.

Despite Southwark Council’s declared opposition to the Act they’ve told tenants they will implement it. Indeed Stephanie Cryan, Cabinet Member for Housing, sent all tenants a letter in early September saying that we needed to be ready to provide our income details to avoid ‘Pay to Stay’ rent rises. This caused huge anxiety and I wrote to Southwark News in September (published 15/9) to say that her letter was premature and defeatist. I was right.

Southwark Council can now actually do what they say, and:

  1. Join tenants and tenants’ groups in the campaign to stop the whole Act
  2. Write to all tenants explaining that ‘Pay to Stay’ has been defeated and saying sorry for sending us that frightening letter
  3. Assure us that they will not implement other parts of the Act.

Other Councils are working closely with their tenants to axe the Housing Act. So can Southwark!

Paul Shrubshall, Southwark Defend Council Housing


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