Letters to the editor: 16/03/17

(16 March, 2017)

This week: why we still need International Women's Day, short-term lets, and reaction to the 2017-18 council budget

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Do we still need  Women’s Day?

One hundred years on from the first International Women’s Day, some may be slightly baffled as to why such a day is still needed.

There will be those who argue that women can do what they want here: they have the vote, can work where they want or receive the same education. Everything on the surface may seem fair.

If only. The original aim of the day – to achieve gender equality for women across the world – has not yet been realised.  In many countries, a gender pay gap continues to exist, glass ceilings are barely cracked and there are not enough women at the highest levels of business and politics.

Internationally, the statistics are staggering – and frightening:  at least one in three women have been beaten, coerced into sex or abused in their lifetime; between 1.5 and three million women and girls die each year because of gender-based violence; between 700,000 and 4 million girls and women are sold into prostitution each year. Meanwhile 99% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries, 41 million girls worldwide are still denied a primary education and at least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone brutal genital mutilation.

Of course, huge strides have been made with abuses and inequality being more readily challenged. But there is still a long way to go.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day was ‘Be Bold for Change’. Whether you are a girl or woman pursuing your dreams or a boy or man who wants his sister, daughter or mother to have the opportunity to achieve their ambitions, it’s a message that we should all support.

Syed Kamall, Conservative MEP for London

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Council look at own short-term lets

Southwark Defend Council Housing welcomes Cllr Mark Williams’ initiative to clamp down on private property owners exploiting the housing shortage by letting properties at exorbitant rents through websites like Airbnb (Southwark News 23 February 2017).

We share his concern ‘that the transient nature of very short-term lets could cause problems for neighbours due to noise, potential security issues or anti-social behaviour’.

We believe that all available homes should be available to rent at genuinely affordable rents and on long-term secure tenancies, thereby protecting local communities. Perhaps Cllr Williams should also look at the hundreds of short-term lets created by the council on the Aylesbury Estate and convert these to permanent tenancies. And how about the Council making a commitment not to implement the Tory Government’s plans to make all future council tenancies short-term?

Anyone concerned about the demolition of genuinely affordable and secure council housing in Southwark and the proliferation of short term lets should join our demo on Saturday 25th March. Assemble 12pm, outside Canada Water library to march to the Aylesbury Estate.

Tanya Murat, Southwark Defend Council Housing

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Nominate lottery unsung heroes

The National Lottery Awards 2017 are open for entries, giving Lottery-funded projects a chance to shine in the national limelight.

The Awards recognise the amazing work done by organisations using National Lottery funding to transform communities and change lives.  They celebrate the unsung heroes behind the success of local arts, sports, heritage, and community projects.

Every week National Lottery players raise £30 million for good causes and, since 1994, over 500,000 Lottery grants have been awarded.

Seven projects will be recognised at a star-studded awards ceremony broadcast on BBC One later this year and each will win a £3,000 cash prize.

Readers can visit www.nationallotteryawards.org.uk/awards to nominate projects.  All entries must be in by midnight on Friday 7 April.

John Barrowman, National Lottery Awards Ambassador

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Labour are trying to rewrite council budget

Most residents aren’t that keen on politicians going back and forth at each other in your letters pages and I normally agree.

However, Labour seemed to be trying to re-write council budget history in the News.

Residents see Learning Disabilities Day Centres being closed, while Labour can find £1million for the Tate Modern. Labour say they have to increase council tax so we all pay more, but they’ve found money to introduce new pay-outs for their own Labour Councillors. And they say they can’t afford free bulk refuse collections, but they’re not making the money they could from polluters, fly-tippers and developers.

There are clear choices for Councillors when it comes to the council’s finances. Labour keep making the wrong choices. Residents will also have a choice next year at the council elections and the chance to make the right choice – for a Liberal Democrat Council which isn’t focused on helping their own Cllrs and property developers, but which fights the corner of local people for genuinely affordable homes, clean streets and protecting the most vulnerable.

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

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