Letters to the editor: 23/11/17

News Desk (23 November, 2017) Columnists

This week you wrote to us about: the need for EU citizens to maintain small businesses, and locals' victory in ensuring the future of Peckham's multi-storey carpark and cinema

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Planning to win

We have been successful in getting the Peckham Multi-Storey listed as an Asset of Community Value.

We nominated this in September and you carried a report on the story. Now it has been accepted by the council and the building has to be put on the list of buildings which are offered protection from sale.

Our nomination of the building added to the growing evidence we were developing for the Public Hearings into the New Southwark Plan that the plan for redevelopment of that site was unsound and would interfere with the approval of the whole Plan.

Some months earlier we had been able to encourage over 5,000 local people to write in to the council, in the planning policy process, with their views against demolition.

As a result of all this the council finally decided a few weeks ago (reported by you) to take the site out of the New Southwark Plan and extend the leases of the businesses in the building. The site will come up for planning policy again sometime in the next ten to fifteen years.

The listing as an Asset of Community Value means that the Council has to give the social uses of the building a very high priority in planning its long term future. We have shown that local people working together can change decisions in the complicated planning world.

Eileen Conn, Co-ordinator of Peckham Vision

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No Christmas puppies

With weeks to go until Christmas, Dogs Trust is urging people not to fuel a cruel puppy trade – albeit unintentionally – by purchasing an illegally imported puppy.

The warning comes after record number of puppies were seized in just one week during a covert operation at the UK border with many more expected to be smuggled into the country undetected as devious importers hone in on the Christmas trade.

As the UK’s largest dog welfare charity we exposed the horrors of the illegal importation of puppies earlier this year as the demand for in-trend breeds such as French Bulldogs and Pugs continue to help fuel this sickening trade. We’ve seen cases of bitches being smuggled across pregnant as importers find sinister new ways to get them through the border undetected.

Despite many people’s purchases being well intended, unbeknown to them the internet has become a thriving marketplace for advertising illegally imported puppies. As a result we’ve produced some buyer advice to help people make sensible choices and avoid being tricked into buying puppies which have been illegally imported from Central and Eastern Europe.

Illegally importing puppies needs to end now. We urge the Government to improve this failing legislation. This includes increasing penalties for those illegally importing puppies and a significant overhaul of the pet checking system at ports. Members of the public can support our campaign by visiting www.puppysmuggling.org.uk

Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director, Dogs Trust

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We need EU workers

Responding to the  Home Office announcement on the settled status scheme for EU citizens.

Skills and labour from the EU play an important role with one in five small business employers having at least one EU worker. These businesses rely on EU employees to grow, thrive and survive.

The new settled status scheme for EU citizens provides mixed messages. The proposed fee structure, which will see people charged up to the cost of a British passport – a ceiling that could be at least £72.50, has the potential to deter many EU citizens from staying in the UK. We want the Government to be transparent about how it has reached this figure and what analysis has been undertaken on the impact on EU citizens living and working in the UK.

This sends a worrying signal to EU citizens and there is a real risk that the small business community may face a talent drain post-Brexit. We would like to see a fee structure that is as affordable as possible and alleviates this risk.

On a more positive note, it is pleasing to see Government striving to make the future application system streamlined and user friendly. This is an issue that FSB has been advocating for some time and we welcome the fact that efforts are being made to limit the paperwork required for Settled Status.

Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman

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Sign Parkinson petition

Our country’s disability benefits system is failing those who need it the most, as well as costing us an unnecessary amount of money.

Your readers may be shocked to hear that reassessing everyone with Parkinson’s who received Daily Living Allowance (DLA) for the replacement benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will cost the taxpayer £3 million. These pointless reassessments that are being rolled out across London are happening despite the fact that people with Parkinson’s won’t get better.

The Government is throwing millions of pounds away on an assessment process that is broken. PIP is meant to help manage the extra costs of a condition, but in fact a quarter of people with Parkinson’s are losing some, or all, of their award. Why is the Government taking away the support they were previously told they’d have for life?

This is simply devastating. That’s why Parkinson’s UK is calling on the Government to automatically move people with Parkinson’s on the highest rate of DLA to PIP, without the need for reassessment.

2,207 people from London have already signed the charity’s petition, I hope your readers will join us by signing it here: www.parkinsons.org.uk/pippetition

Together we can help bring an end to a system that’s evidently not fit for purpose.

Laura Erinle (Parkinson’s UK Local Campaign Officer)

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