Letters to the editor: 13/07/17

(13 July, 2017)

Readers wrote in about: the 'lads' football alliance against extremism; warnings against ditching planning restrictions for tower blocks; nurses ballot for strike action

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All football fans are against extremism

As a Millwall season ticket holder, it was heartening to see your headline about the Football Lads’ Alliance (FLA) bringing football supporters to together unite against extremism, Millwall and West Ham Fans Join Thousands on March Against Extremism’, (Southwark News June 29, 2017).

Like I am sure all of your readers, I was appalled by the terror attacks of recent months and inspired by the heroism of Lions’ fan Roy Larner.

However, I was disappointed that the FLA and your reporter only highlighted attacks carried out by Islamic fundamentalists. Despite saying they were against all extremism there was no mention of the horrific events at Finsbury Park mosque when innocent Muslims were mown down or the death of MP Jo Cox at the hands of a right-wing extremist last year.

It would have been great if there had been a Muslim speaker at the demonstration to present a truly united front.

Also as a female football supporter I also wonder what part I have to play in a “lads alliance”—the very name seems to exclude half the population!

These are dangerous times. As well as the threat of terror there are frightening levels of Islamophobia (in East London where I work there have been 2 acid attacks on Muslims recently). I, therefore, welcome the FLA’s calls of unity but want an alliance that unites ALL football fans against ALL extremism.

Janet Noble, East Dulwich

 

Don’t relax restrictions on tower blocks

In the wake of the terrible Grenfell Tower fire, I’d like to encourage your readers to respond to the New Southwark Plan, in particular to the proposal to relax the current restrictions on tower block buildings in the borough.

Southwark argues that the pressing need for new homes means that we should remove the current restrictions which limit where tower blocks can be built. Of course the aspiration to provide high quality, affordable housing is an admirable one, but it needs to be balanced against the protection of existing and future communities.

Allowing a free-for-all on high rise buildings would fundamentally change our neighbourhoods for the worse.

It would expose existing residents to the avarice of developers, who, motivated by high profit margins would seek to utilise CPOs to bulldoze pockets of housing to build high.

It places communities at risk of overlooking, overshadowing, and over-stretching of public services (transport, doctors, schools) which are already under significant strain. And of course there is reason to doubt that new high rises would actually provide decent affordable homes for local people – a shameful proportion of those at Elephant Park (which replaced thousands of bulldozed council flats) have been sold to Hong Kong investors and sit empty.

The Southwark Plan talks of tall buildings needing to meet excellent design standards, but this is meaningless language that offers no protection. As Grenfell shows us, we need stringent regulations in place to govern buildings, not vague aspirational statements which can easily be exploited by developers looking to maintain a profit margin.

Southwark residents are strongly encouraged to give their views on the New Southwark Plan here. http://www.southwark.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/planning-policy-and-transport-policy/consultation-and-updates/new-southwark-plan-consultation-proposed-area-visions-and-site-allocations

Kat Joyce,  via email  

 

Skyscrapers don’t help communities

Liberal Democrat Councillors share the concerns raised in the News about Labour’s plans to remove planning restrictions on tall buildings in various parts of the borough.

This is, obviously, particularly a concern at the moment because of fire safety questions which must now be more carefully considered at the planning application stage. But it is also a concern often raised by communities as tall buildings fundamentally change the character of an area and affect its heritage, light and sense of space.

Tall buildings don’t automatically mean more homes and, in fact, it is the property developers who like them in order to build luxury flats unaffordable to local people.

This Labour council is, yet again, rolling over to developers by changing its planning policy to suit them and removing restrictions on tall buildings in communities like Camberwell and Bermondsey. It should not be for developers to decide where is best to put skyscrapers, it should be local residents.

Councillor Anood Al-Samerai, Leader, Southwark Liberal Democrat Council Group

 

Wreaths not for birds

While we are doing our best to feed many of our endangered species of wild birds I was dismayed so see on sale locally a feeder shaped like a vertical wreath on a wooden stand.

Pinned on this wreath were about 10 nylon mesh bags containing different sorts of seeds.

It is well known that birds can be trapped in these bags by their feet or beaks.

The RSPB advises us never to put out food in mesh bags..Apparently this feeder is on sale in many garden centres. I would plead with people not to buy these wreaths.

There are so many inexpensive bird feeders on sale and the joy that comes from seeing and hearing the different species that visit your garden safely cannot be beaten.

Many species are becoming endangered because their environment has disappeared, so we must do all we can to help them survive.

Mrs Foster, via email

 

Join nurses’ summer of protest please

It’s not often that nursing staff feel the need to get ‘political’.

We get on with doing the job we were trained to do. Many of us cannot imagine doing anything else.

But we now find ourselves in a situation that can no longer be tolerated.

Since 2010, pay freezes and the 1% cap on public sector pay increases have left each member of the NHS nursing staff at least £3,000 worse with salaries falling 14 per cent in real-terms.

The pay cap not only leaves nurses struggling financially, it devalues nurses and nursing.

For the first time since 2008, more nurses are now leaving the profession than joining. Patients cannot get the care they need because there are not enough nurses – in London there are 13,000 unfilled nursing posts, the highest it has ever been. This means wards across the Capital are understaffed and our nursing staff overstretched.

A Royal College of Nursing survey of members last month showed that 9 in 10 would support industrial action if the pay cap is not scrapped. That’s why many nurses are now getting involved in a “summer of protest” to give the Government a final chance to remove the cap. Failure to do so will result in a formal legal ballot on action later in the year.

Readers may see us as we undertake this activity and we hope they will support our aims. Without nursing staff, the NHS cannot survive.

Please support our campaign and call for the Government to #scrapthecap so we can continue to be there for the patients who need us now and in the future.

Cynthia Davis, RCN London Board Chair

 

Broadband disgrace

As MEP for London, I was disappointed by the results of the survey on broadband speeds by consumers’ association Which.

It reveals that speeds in many parts of central London are nothing like those further out. The measure is megabits per second (mbps) and Southwark and Westminster have an average 10.4 and 12.9 respectively while Kingston gets 25 and Enfield has the luxury of 29.1.

A city of our prominence and standing deserves broadband that is excellent, consistent and universal.

Bad broadband speed hits families who may want to have several different streams of internet use operating simultaneously.

Worse than that, it holds back the businesses that could be creating jobs and contributing to our prosperity. Slow broadband speeds mean a slower economy.

We need to see our Mayor working with London boroughs to do everything possible to speed up the internet across London. Our people and our businesses deserve better.

Syed Kamall MEP (London) www.syedkamall.com

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