Letters to the editor: 28/09/17

(28 September, 2017) Letters

...Featuring reaction to last week's empty council homes story, and to the forthcoming postal strike

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Empty council homes a disgrace

I read with interest your article ‘Housing Crisis? We’ve got 4 empty homes on our street’, Southwark News, September 20, 2017  about empty council properties in Hayles Street and am glad that John Bailey who lives on the street has brought this to people’s attention.

I live on the Sunray Estate, North Dulwich, and over the past few years have seen empty council properties left for months at a time.

A house opposite me was left empty for eighteen months after the elderly resident passed away.  A house along the road from me was left empty for six months before a family moved in this year. And since the beginning of March there has been another house in the same road left empty and you can’t see the front door or get up the front path because of the hedge overgrowth!

A couple of families came to look at  this house when it first became empty, but nothing has materialised and it’s just been left to stagnate, attracting rats and the threat of it being vandalised or squatted.

This is an absolute disgrace and agree with John Bailey that given the amount of people on the waiting list it is such a waste.

Let’s hope that Southwark Council can get their act together to help ease the housing crisis!

A resident, Sunray Estate, Dulwich

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There is no need for postal strike

Your readers may have read about a potential strike at Royal Mail by the Communications Workers Union (CWU), ‘Fears strike could hit Christmas post’, Southwark News, September 20, 2017.

Our postmen and women have the best pay – and the best terms and conditions – in our industry. They do an amazing job in all weathers – rain or shine. Average pay is 45-50m per cent above the National Living Wage. None of that is changing. There are just no grounds for a strike.

Previous strikes at Royal Mail meant we let our customers down. Some of our major rivals today were actually established because of those strikes. There really is no point shooting ourselves in the foot.

So, what’s at issue?

Well, not the great terms and conditions postmen and women have, as I said before. On pay, we have made a very good offer. That follows a 10.8 per cent pay rise in the four years since privatisation. That compares favourably with the 6.4 per cent UK national average earnings increase over the same period.

On pensions, we know how important pension benefits are to colleagues. Our proposal would be by far the best pension scheme in the industry – and one that benchmarks well to other large employers.  Many of our postmen and women are in a Defined Benefit scheme – 63 per cent, in fact, compared to just 6 per cent  of workers across the UK private sector.

We do need to change to a different type of Defined Benefit arrangement. That’s because – every year – it would cost us at least three times more than the cash we generate just to keep the existing pension open. No business could do that.

Royal Mail is a very good employer. We provide great terms and conditions.

We are working hard to keep improving our services to customers in a very competitive industry.

There is no need to strike. We want to work with our postmen and women, our great ambassadors, to keep being the best delivery company in the UK.

Tony Fox, Royal Mail Regional Operations Director – South

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Help out during Blue Cross Week 

I am writing to ask your animal-loving readers to join me in celebrating Blue Cross’s 120th anniversary.

The pet charity has been helping animals since the 1800’s and is hoping to inspire people to help during Blue Cross Week from the 2 – 8 October.

Sadly, over a century later, tens of thousands of cats, dogs, horses and small pets still turn to Blue Cross for aid. Theycharity cares for them when they’re sick or injured, and find them loving new homes if they’ve been given up or abandoned.

Pets count on us, and Blue Cross counts on generous supporters to make sure their doors are always open. That’s why this October, for their anniversary, it would be wonderful if readers could get involved to fundraise and raise awareness for pets in need.

My two dogs Stan and Elsie are very dear to me and they get so much love and attention – I wouldn’t be without them. But sadly not all pets are as lucky. Please visit bluecross.org.uk for more inspiration about how to get involved and help fundraise during Blue Cross Week.

Pam Ferris, Blue Cross Ambassador

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