06/11/2011 The Politics Show South


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Investec, an Englishman's home is his castle, at least until


squatters moved in. Now there are moves to make squatting a criminal


offence. And well the �113 million announced this week from the


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2219 seconds


Regional Growth Fund deliver badly- Hello and welcome to the part of


the show especially for us here in the South. My name's Peter Henley.


On today's show: Are MPs really getting younger?


Daniel Clark, member for the Isle of Wight. They are not, that was


the Youth Parliament debating in the House of Commons this week.


Also coming up, will the money the Government handed out from the


Regional Growth Fund this week really do what it says on the tin


and stimulate growth? First, occupations have been in the


news, whether it is the tent city outside St Paul's or the of shoes


that have been set up in Brighton and Bournemouth. -- the offshoots.


And squatting looks set to be made a criminal offence. I will be


talking to Mike Weatherley, who has campaigned for that change, and


former Labour candidate Sarah Evans, who also happens to be a former


squatter. But what about current squatters? Earlier in the week, I


went to meet some in Britain. In Brighton, it has become part of


the protest lifestyle. Squatting gets you somewhere cheap to live


and it is also a statement about a society that allows properties like


this to stand empty. 27-year-old Annie lived here until they were


forcibly evicted. Look at it now, it is just ridiculous. It would


house adequately the amount of rough sleepers I know personally.


It moved to a derelict bed-and- breakfast and claims the neighbours


were pleased to see them taken over. You can see the dilapidation on the


frames here that we cannot reach. But we made what we had of it. The


same applies to inside the building. The new Bill would only make


squatting a criminal offence in domestic properties. There are


fears commercial ones like this could come under even more pressure.


But this group said they were more concerned about the principles of


criminalisation. You have a lot of people sharing rooms. Are you


worried there might be more people trying to squat? Buildings that


have been left empty that no one wants, no one is doing anything


about, they have no planning on them, we stay in them and we live


in them because they would just be going to waste. But someone does


own this. And you living in it is preventing it being turned into


something else. They do not necessarily own this building. The


owner of this building has actually passed away, so no one actually


knows who owns it. And the general public might not know that much


about squatters and when they hear you could go on holiday, come back


and your house is squatted, it is a scary thought. Have you ever come


across that? It has never happened in our circles, we would never


squat someone's home. It is illegal already. We do not want to put


people out of their homes. We believe housing should be a right,


not a privilege. Forcing people out of their homes is against what we


believe in. Let us take that point up with Mike


Weatherley. Already, there are powers to stop people going into


various places and that can be used by the police, who say they don't


need this new one. No, the police told me they'd do needed. I was


speaking to an inspector in Brighton and Hove, and they never


prosecuted anyone to do the squatting in 18 years. It is


illegal to enter a building but it is not a criminal offence. They get


moved on, because damaged, they just move into another property.


This is going to force a lot of vulnerable people out onto the


streets? Squatters and homeless people are two separate things. I


was for the homeless charity today and they are in favour of the


squatting laws, because it is giving the homeless people a rough


deal. Squatters are lifestyle squatters, by and large, they are


trying to get something for nothing. That is certainly what we saw in


that film, they were making a point about a principle and getting cheap


accommodation. If someone steals your car, they get punished. If the


still your house, at the moment, they do not. If everyone has the


right to have a roof over their head. The Metropolitan -- the


Metropolitan Police, the Law Society, they have all said,


squatting in someone's house or a house that someone wants to move


back into is a criminal offence, and the Met have said the laws are


broadly all right. And if they are used properly, and I think this is


where the problem arises, if they are used properly, it is easy to


get people that a squat in someone's home out. But perhaps it


is more a case of actually having enough resources for the police to


actually action the law. Right. Mike Weatherley, we have had, the


fact that people on the property and it is not a criminal offence


for many hundreds of years, why change it now? It is on their


criminal offence if when you get back home, you ask the squatters to


leave and they do not. But they should not be in that property to


start with. This whole reason why you have squatters rights comes


about because we had some rogue landlords. But the landlord could


not break the door down to throw people out when they had a right to


be there. But squatters do not have a legitimate right to be there,


they our lifestyle squatters, making a statement. I have to


totally disagree. Shelter carried out an independent piece of


research, and 78% of homeless people who had spotted at actually


sought to get a roof over their head in a different way, they had


approached the council, they had approached hostels, and had been


turned away. Because we have a dire shortage of council housing. We


have 5 million people on council waiting lists. We have 40,000


homeless people, probably more, because there is a whole load of so


faster for us that do not even register on the statistics. -- sofa


surfers. We should put the empty properties back into use, we have


incentives for bad landlords who are just holding on to it for the


wrong reasons. But just because our enemy's enemy, shouldn't make it a


friend to squatters. It is these lifestyle squatters we need to stop.


We need to put the empty properties back into life, we need more


homeless hostels, and I speak to a lot of charities that would support


the moves about the squatters criminalisation, providing there is


extra measures for the homeless, which the Government has announced.


But most of the squatters are not the homeless people we are talking


about. Sarah Evans, surely you would like to see some of these


empty properties, some of the second homes, being used to house


people. I think so. What we need to have in place is the ability for


councils to compulsory purchase empty properties. My experience of


squatting was living in a house, two rows of derelict houses, that


is what happens. These houses are derelict in the majority of cases.


And I had water running through the ceiling, holes in the walls and


floor, no glass in the windows. Mice jumping out everywhere.


you don't improve its? But I have no choice at the time. I managed to


borrow some money in getting to a privately rented house. But then,


that got repossessed. Once again, I had to move back again. At the time,


I had just come out of college and had a huge debt, but the majority


of people that are forced into squatty have mental health issues,


drug and alcohol issues, they might have come out of an abusive


relationship. Mike, this is what the independent study has shown.


Even the Law Society and the Metropolitan Police have agreed


that there is no evidence to support the need for Clause 26. And


you are criminalising people, you are criminalising very vulnerable


people. I find it unacceptable we should be saying that people should


squat in these derelict buildings. They are dangerous, they should not


be squatting there. Even if there was a link between on this is an


squatting, we should not allow people to squat in those type of


buildings. The second point you make about improving the properties,


I have thrown the gone there down to all the sporting organisations


in the country to show me one property they have been in -- they


have improved and not one has been forthcoming. Sarah Evans, Mike


Weatherley, thank you very much. More on this on Inside Out tomorrow


night which follows the story of join decade, he had to go to court


to evict a group of squatters from her mother's home in Berkshire. --


joined the caber, who had to go to court.


With at 100 members of the Youth Parliament were taking out --


taking part in their annual debate in the House of Commons. Who knows


what future Chancellor or Prime Minister might have been sizing up


the green benches. Because politicians really do seem to be


getting younger. We will create, the home on a democracy in which we


believe. That welfare state is being ripped apart by a vicious and


right-wing Tory lead Government. William Hague is a perfect example


of teenagers with strong opinions on political matters, prepared to


stand up and be heard. The Youth Parliament was designed to


encourage 11-18-year-olds to do exactly that when it was


established 12 years ago. Over 600 representatives are elected each


year to campaign and influence decision-makers on issues which


matter most to young people. On both regional and national levels.


Why are you so interested in politics? Because I feel,


especially locally, my MPs do not actually engage very well with the


young people. When I talk to people in my area, they say, are they


actually doing anything for us? When you are involved in the UK


Youth Parliament, you have a real opportunity to change things, meet


with decision-makers and try and influence the world and actual


society we live in. I'd like to think you can come from somewhere


small and effect something that is really big, affect the whole of the


UK. -- affect. The average age of a councillor or a young MP is 40, or


50s and 60s, so it does not seem to connect with the younger generation.


Just because you are not old enough to vote doesn't mean you cannot


make a difference. Members meet regularly with MPs and local


councillors, organising events to make speeches and run campaigns.


Public transport is an issue in my constituency. Over the summer, I


have met with various different transport providers, managers, and


discuss the issue. I am actually trying to compose at Transport


report which looks and identifies the problems in my constituency and


trying to think of practical solutions. I would like to create


discounts for young people, you have the NUS card when you are 16-


18, but you do not have any sort of card for a discount when you are


under 16. And yet, you are not allowed to work until you have an


even harder economic time. Over 60,000 people aged 11 to 18 took


part in this year's ballot at the Youth Parliament. That is ten times


the number who participated year before. But is the Government


listening? If David Cameron was sitting here, what would you like


to say? I would like him to talk to the young people more. I feel that


young people are ignored in this country. Under previous governments


as well. There is high youth unemployment, there is very little


jobs around for people. And so, they need some sort of support to


give them a helping hand in life. He needs to realise that making


cuts is not going to help the economic growth. It is going to


dampen it and make it worse. Make it even harder for people to boost


the economy. In a society, you should look to increase social


mobility and inspire young people, who are in their teens, so they


want to achieve something in life and in education. With the removal


of the cap on university fees, it is completely discouraging a lot of


people who wanted to go to university. Order, order! The UK


Parliament will consider the first motion of the day. So for one day a


year, the Youth Parliament takes over and it is serious business. To


debate and decide on which issued they should concentrate their


campaigning on for the coming year. I think that public transport is a


way of becoming more green and also, getting young people off the dole,


especially people in rural areas. Especially as we have a 20 year


high for youth unemployment. They live very at home there. We have a


real MP in the studio. This year the Government announced the lucky


winners in the second round of bids for the Regional Growth Fund. It is


designed to safeguard or create jobs. In the first round in April,


we got just one bid accepted. This time, we have got nine for the


south-east. We have been promised �113 million of the �1.4 billion


fund. To put that into context, the North East had 50 bids accepted. So,


is our �130 million and nearly 1,000 jobs the Government said they


will support a reasonable allocation? Willett really


encourage the sort of growth the economy needs? -- will it really


encourage. We have got George Hollingbury, the Conservative MP.


This particular fund allocation, are we getting very well organised?


I like to think we the Goody area in the South East. But you would


expect me to say that! But it does seem to be about this this


involvement, is that helping? are an elected board, we have eight


business leaders and some very influential this this is on that


board. We have five from local authorities and one from higher


education. We have a good board working solidly, all singing from


the same hymn sheet. We submitted six Dave's and we were successful


with almost two-thirds of them. -- six bids. Surely, Regional Growth


Fund rebalancing the economy is not giving more money in grants to the


south, however much Duggan would like to have it? There are parts of


the South that are also suffering from a reduction in Government


spending and are slightly less able to generate growth. It is quite


right that some of the growth should come down here. I think the


Solent Local Enterprise Partnership has done a fantastic job. They know


exactly where the money needs to go, supported by local authorities who


have been working to push the Partnership for South Hampshire.


They knew exactly what they wanted and the top business to drive it.


It has been very successful. It is the replacement for the retail


development agency, which used to look at the whole of the South East


on a broad level. -- of regional development agency. Those who shout


loudest are going to get the most money. If you stop and think for a


moment, we had bureaucrats sitting there in an unelected position,


pushing things around on a board. What we have now is real, viable


projects, pushed by people who are actually going to run them and make


a difference local. It is not just a matter of pursue money towards


something, we have people driving them to do things with. What about


the Isle of Wight? Dipper to no good for tourism, and did not get


the money, presumably because they were not part of such a forward-


thinking l e p as yours. For a start, the Isle of Wight is very


much part of the Solent LEP. We need to look at that, as to why


they were unsuccessful. We submitted six days. Surely, the


Isle of Wight is as deserving if not more so than -- as other parts


of the South East? Well, I would disagree about Southampton and


Portsmouth booming, there are lots of areas of deprivation in both


places. We have to congratulate ourselves on the facts we were


fortunate to get some of these bid is agreed. I am disappointed we did


not get the ones for the Isle of Wight. And the headquarters for


your organisation is in Portsmouth city council offices. There is


surely a Portsmouth by us there. Not really, the biggest funding is


coming to Southampton. Good answer! What about the people who are not


part of an MEP? What about Thames Valley, Berkshire, Oxford City? --


l e p. There is a confluence here are genuine deprivation. There are


parts of Portsmouth and Southampton that are generally deprived and we


need to bring some money in. Coupled with a fantastic structure


that has been in place for a long time. It has worked particularly


well on this occasion. I would say to you, I suspect there is more


reason to have the spending down here on the south coast and South


Central and there is in some of the other areas. It is not about


deserving cases like the Isle of Wight, say, it is about getting


growth, isn't it? If it means companies are already doing well,


that is where the money should go. We need to be careful what we say.


We had deprivation in Southampton and Portsmouth, severe deprivation


in some quarters. Some real problems. Not withstanding all of


that, we must understand the South East is the engine of the UK


economy. I don't think it is good enough for Government to say, there


is a North-South divide. We are delighted to have been so


successful. The very last thing, the original purpose of this fund


was to, say those areas that were particularly hit by a reduction in


Government spending. That element has to be considered. It is


investing in success, that is the idea. Thank you very much.


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