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Letters to the editor: 3/11/17

We hads are alarmed

Head Teachers in Southwark are viewing with increasing alarm the impact that government policy is having on school budgets.

The National Association of Head Teachers has estimated that schools nationally will lose 8% of their budgets in real terms by 2019. Schools in Southwark are predicted to be worst hit, with estimates of a cut of £1,024 per pupil per year in Southwark.

The biggest losers in this will be the children.  This level of cuts can only result in job losses and this will have a direct impact on children’s outcomes.  Simply put, there will not be the appropriate numbers of staff to meet the needs of the children.  The quality of children’s education will suffer as a result.

We agree that children in all schools should be adequately funded.  Evidence has shown that increased funding improves outcomes – the London Challenge and City Challenge initiatives proved that.  This is why funding in other areas of the country should be raised to match the levels received in London.  Reducing funding in London will only have a deleterious effect on the ability of schools and teachers to prepare our children to be the citizens and workforce of tomorrow.

In a time of crisis in recruitment and retention, it is key that those teachers who remain feel that their job is achievable.  Who will want to work in school environments that are stretched beyond their means?  Funding cuts will only continue to increase workloads and the levels of pressure on teachers, who are already leaving the profession in droves.

The sustainability of the school system is at stake.  Schools are being asked to do much more than teach children in this shift to a school-led system – teacher training, school to school support, professional development, school improvement and more.  Cuts in funding jeopardise the education system as a whole.

It is time that the government recognised the hugely negative impact that its policies are having on children’s education.  Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not the answer.  Sufficient funding for children in all schools has to be the goal.

Signed by 80 south London schools.


Call for flight ban

Sleep disruption is a major detriment to health, and a substantial loss of residential amenity.

Aircraft noise at night is accentuated by lower ambient noise levels, with westerly landings I am woken at 5am, even with secondary double glazing .

My home is 18 miles due west of Heathrow. Millions are adversely affected.  Traditional noise measurement techniques are inadequate. There is no good reason for approaching aircraft to fly so low for so long.  The aviation industry is treating residents with contempt.

The government must protect citizens from such externalities. There must be no flights between 11pm and 7am until flight patterns are changed and aircraft engine noise is massively reduced.

Toby Eckersley, Walworth


The good  old days at Millwall

In 1966, I was a 24 year old, and went to Spurs with my late father, for the FA cup replay, after a 0-0 draw at Cold Blow Lane.

It never entered our head there could be crowd trouble. I first went to Millwall with my dad and his friends at the age of six. Millwall were in division 3 South, and it was common to have 30,00 gates. Supporters were not segregated in those days. I am sure not many would know what that meant, and even less be able to spell it!

There were lots of tough dockers, etc, but there was a cockney code of conduct in those days, meaning no swearing if children or women were around! There would be lots of friendly banter with away supporters, but at the end of the game, whatever the score, shaking of hands and wishing them a safe journey home. Oh for the good old days!

Tom White, Southwark Pensioners Action Group


Harriet hypocritical at best, cynical at worst

I could not believe my eyes upon reading Harriet Harman’s column “View from Westminster”.

She painted a  harrowing picture of the anxieties faced by the very many citizens of the other EU countries and the uncertainties they face after the referendum last year.  Yet she cynically marched with the Tories into the lobby to vote for the Bill which would trigger Article 50, further exacerbating the insecurities that so many people feel.

Shortly before the Second Reading I wrote to Ms Harman to ask her to vote against the Bill.  She replied stating that she would vote in support of Article 50 because the Labour Party  needed to acknowledge the strength of feeling of those Labour-supporting constituencies which voted to leave the EU.  Apparently it did not occur to her that her job as MP is to represent her constituents and also to use her judgement in  Parliament.  It is not to take refuge behind some mythical “will of the people”.

I replied to Ms Harman and pointed out that the referendum was advisory only and had a consultative status.  I also informed her that the Prime Minister has no intention of remaining in the Single Market and, indeed, is on record as wishing to sever all ties with the EU.  I did not receive a reply.  Nor did I receive any reply to a third letter to her on the same subject.

Ms Harman appears to think that the Opposition can, somehow, mitigate the effects of our departure from the EU.  She does not enlighten us as to how that will occur.

If Ms Harman is really concerned about all those EU citizens currently working in Britain and contributing to the economy and the cultural life of the community she has one last chance open to her.  That is to vote against the Bill when it returns to the House of Commons.  If she does not then one will be entitled to conclude that all her protestations are hypocritical at best, cynical at worst.

Dermot McInerney, Camberwell


Double jeopardy

So, Southwark Council has put its hands up and pleaded guilty to failing to install proper safety measures in Lakanal House and six people died. ‘Council fined £270,000 for safety breaches over fatal Lakanal fire’, Southwark News, march 2, 2017.

Sometime next week a judge, in his or her high castle, will impose a fine on Southwark which the media will say can be expected to be substantial. Maybe it should be; but who will pay the penalty?

The Council Officials, by their incompetence or negligence contributed to the death of six of our people and we the rent and rate payers will pay their fine.

In the meantime no one who was responsible for this massive and fatal oversight will be called to account. The last four years have been littered with expensive mistakes and oversights costing millions of pounds. Draper House (estimated outturn cost £5millions), housing allocations fraud (estimated at £2.5millions), overcharging for water resale (compensation of £28.4millions) to highlight some of the biggest. Tenant activists warned the Council that there were problems with the water resale. They assured us that all was well – well that reassurance was £28 million wrong.

So, we, the people of Southwark, will stand in the dock and pay for the incompetence or negligence of the Council. So far no one has stood accountable for these tragic and expensive errors and I don’t suppose anyone will. Someone will apologise and say things will change and it must never happen again. Don’t hold your breath in anticipation.

Ian Ritchie, Nunhead



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