Letters, April 7-14, 2016

(14 April, 2016)

This week we have loopholes, mental health, and Dame Vera Lynn

There is no loophole in council’s new rule – In response to your article ‘Campaigners worry over ‘loophole’ on affordable homes’, Southwark News April 7, 2016.

We care deeply about social housing and have one of the best records in the country for securing new affordable homes from developers. We have also started the biggest council home building programme in the country.

We know that our residents want the planning system to be more transparent, which is why we have introduced new rules to make Viability Assessments for all new developments public. We are absolutely clear that this includes any developer that re-applies and attempts to reduce the amount of affordable housing in their scheme.

There is no loophole in this rule and it’s completely disingenuous for opposition councillors and others to suggest otherwise.

At a time when Government has slashed funding for new affordable homes, we know how important it is to hold developers to account and secure as many affordable homes from them as possible.

Southwark is leading the way on this issue and our plans go further than most other councils. We will continue to build as many genuinely affordable homes as possible, and we hope that by increasing transparency we can maintain and build public support for the development our borough and our residents need to tackle the housing crisis.

Councillor Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration and new homes


Where do mayoral candidates stand on homelessness?

We will soon be electing a new Mayor and London Assembly. This is a real opportunity for new ideas to deal with one of the challenges that tarnishes the image of our great city – homelessness.

The numbers of people sleeping rough in London have doubled since 2010. I know from my own experience as a volunteer with Crisis at Christmas that homelessness is a devastating and dangerous experience.

And it’s expensive too; as a society the fallout from homelessness costs us. According to some estimates we could save between £3,000 – £18,000 per person if we helped people as soon as they first become homeless.

The Mayor of London has the power to make an impact on homelessness, including currently a £34 million budget.

The candidates must now commit to take action to end rough sleeping, prioritise prevention, help people to rent and end destitution.

These proposals are at the heart of the Lead London Home campaign supported by Crisis and other homelessness organisations.

I support this campaign and I call upon the Mayoral candidates and our local London Assembly candidates to join me without delay.

James Trewby, Bermondsey


Rotherhithe will need its own sorting office

Further to Mr Brian Hodge’s letter in Southwark News April 7, 2016, “No infrastructure to support development”.

He forgot to add the Post Office Sorting Office in Mandela Way would be inadequate as well, having to cope with 6,000 more postal addresses.

It would then be about time that Rotherhithe got its own Sorting Office rather than residents having to go to SE1 to pick up undelivered packages.

Andy Hind, Rotherhithe


Stop teenage mental health crises early

My local MP, Helen Hayes, wrote in her column Southwark News March 10, 2016, that we face a crisis in mental health care for children.

Ms Hayes recalled a meeting she had with a distressed local mum, whose teenage son has had to wait months for treatment or even assessment.

Ms Hayes is right to call on the Government to give mental health the same attention as physical health. Evidence shows a strong link between early adverse childhood experiences and later mental health problems. With health budgets being squeezed, one exciting way to make progress and savings is to do far more to prevent harm before it happens.

This is where WAVE Trust’s 70/30 campaign comes in.  As 70/30’s local ambassador in Dulwich, I recently sat down with Ms Hayes and introduced her to the campaign.  I explained our ambitious goal: to reduce child maltreatment in the UK by 70% by 2030.

We can achieve this by tackling the root causes of child maltreatment. These might be parental mental health problems, domestic violence, substance abuse or a whole basket of other issues. By helping mums and dads to deal with these problems, alongside other benefits, you can prevent many children from developing mental health problems later in life.

We can give thousands of kids a better shot at life while saving money.

Surely that makes sense?

To get involved in the 70/30 campaign or find out more, visit www.wavetrust.org.

You can get in touch with Sam at slawes@wavetrust.org.

Sam Lawes, Administration Officer, WAVE Trust



Dame Vera’s historic record for Queen 

It is remarkable that, as her 90th birthday approaches, Her Majesty the Queen is still working so passionately for our country, and supporting the work of hundreds of charitable organisations.

In recognition of her incredible efforts, I would like to invite readers to be part of an historic online commemoration at www.TheQueensBirthdayBook.com

The Queen’s Birthday Book will form a huge digital collection of messages, photos and film to mark Her Majesty’s special day on 21 April 2016.

Anyone can contribute for free by adding their birthday messages and personal stories of meeting the Queen, and they can also share photos and videos of their street parties and celebrations for her official birthday in June.

One of my own special memories is performing for the Queen and other members of the royal family at Her Majesty’s 16th birthday celebrations at Windsor Castle, a night which I hope she remembers as fondly as I do.

As well as a great digital archive for future generations to look back on, we’ve created this book to raise vital funds for the charities the Queen is patron of, through the sale of specially issued commemorative medals from the London Mint Office.

I do hope people will join me in wishing Her Majesty a very happy 90th birthday by sharing their messages, photos, drawings and videos, while also helping to raise money for some very deserving causes.

Dame Vera Lynn



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