All entries for May 2008

May 30, 2008

Whitefields students seek compensation for lack of personal revision space

Earlier this term RaW News reported on the newly planned changes to the Union Rebuild schedule. However, this week has been one of much disruption on campus as students in Whitefields have been informed of some rather last-minute changes.

At the beginning of term students had been told that Whitefields would be “a 24 hour quiet zone” and that their revision would go on undisturbed. However, last Friday, the Whitefields accommodation Officer Graham Wright informed students in person that construction works were to begin on Tuesday of this week from 9am – 5pm every day until the end of term. The work will take place from just below the Graduate Bar, past Battered, and around the Cooler, all just a few meters away from the bedrooms – or study rooms as they are referred to – of students in Whitefields.

Students have expressed anger with regards to the Union’s lack of communication and they now fear that there will not be sufficient silent space available to study in – the Library and the Learning Grid are both full more often than not with second and third years who livee off campus, and with potentially a whole hall of residence being forced to vacate their houses to revise, how will the Union provide support for those that need it?

Union Rebuild Site

The Union have apologised for the short notice that was given to Whitefields residents, stating that this was due to a “slight breakdown in communications and the unfortunate timing of the bank holiday”. They have also stated that although the work will take place near to Whitefields it will not involve any heavy construction work until the end of the exam period. The preparatory work will not cause any disruption to students sitting exams in Rootes and contractors have full details of exam timetables. Welfare and Equal Opportunities Officer Ed Callow has agreed to block book rooms with enough space to accommodate the front row of houses from today onwards, when the noise was thought to have escalated.
This week on Insight we invited Lev Taylor, a resident in Whitefields, and one of the students instrumental in campaigning against the building works. He suggested that perhaps the Union were not as in control of the rebuild as we would like to think…

You can listen to the interview to find out more by clicking on the link below. I started by asking Lev what he was hoping to achieve by appealing to the Union at this stage in the works:

(Link unavailable)

Hannah Smith
News Editor

May 23, 2008

Warwick Labour predicts loss in by–election

Today, Thursday 22nd May, voters went to the polls in Crewe and Nantwich for the by-election in which 10 candidates took part in the contest, which follows the death of long-serving Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody last month.
Almost 72,000 people were registered to vote, with turnout expected to be above 60% even with the dreary weather conditions that have plagued the days voting. Polling stations opened at 7am and closed at 10pm, with the result expected at about 2.30am tomorrow morning.

On Insight this week, RaW News invited Warwick Labour’s Ben Nolan and Tom Wales from Warwick Conservatives to debate the events surrounding the by-election and to gage their thoughts and hopes for the results. In a controversial statement Nolan stated that a Labour win would be “unrealistic” and he essentially conceded defeat to the Conservatives – albeit a slim one – and Wales was confident of success in the next general election. Much debate was to be had with regards to the tactics used by both parties during the campaigning, and there was some speculation as to the causal roots for a potential Tory win.

Listen to the full debate here to find out more:

Was Warwick Labour being realistic or defeatist?
If the Conservatives do indeed win the by-election what will this mean for the future of the Labour Party in government?
Have your say by leaving any comments you may have in the section below.

Hannah Smith
News Editor

May 22, 2008

Britain should "expect significant slowdown" in the economy

After last week’s inflation report from the Bank of England, RaW News spoke to Dr Andrew Sentance, an external member of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) at the Bank of England. He told us that he expected inflation to return towards the 2% target in the medium run and whilst he said that we cannot rule out a recession, we should expect a “significant slowdown” in the growth of the economy. Asked whether the rising food prices would hit students would be disproportionately, he said that everybody would be affected. He also said that students should be the ones to decide what economic problem they should worry about, but wanted to emphasise the point that we all benefit from a low inflation economy.

As regards the future, he thought that if consumers become more cautious in the coming years, we may become more dependent on export led growth. This will also be helped by the depreciation of the pound.

The MPC is responsible for setting interest rates in the United Kingdom and it targets the Government’s target of 2% inflation (CPI).

We began by asking what his role is:

Please note: if your browser is having trouble opening the file, click here. and then click continue.

To read the overview of May’s inflation report, click here.

Sam Shirley
Programme Controller

The interview was conducted on Tuesday 20th May.

May 20, 2008

Warwick delegates vote for No Platform at NUS Conference

Monday 12th May saw the last Union council of this term, and after 4 and a half hours, it was certainly in the style of councils this academic year. With no policies up for review, and the governance reform, which had taken up a lot of time during previous meetings having passed at referendum, there were 12 pieces of new business to be debated. There were motions on welfare and liberation issues, on education, on international students’ issues and democracy in the union.

Questions to Union Officers were numerous. Officers were asked about their general activities since the last council, and about campaigning during local elections. A question on the voting behaviour of delegates to the NUS national conference on No Platform attracted the most controversy, due to the recent referendum that removed Warwick University’s No Platform Policy. Warwick’s NUS delegates controversially voted in favour of supporting No Platform on a national level, and RaW News invited the Union’s Finance, Democracy and Strategy Officer Tom Callow onto the show last week to debate with Rajiv Shah, a staunch supporter of the removal of No Platform.

No Platform symbol

Were the delegates right to vote for No Platform on a national level, or have they mis-represented the students who put them there in the first place?
To hear the debate click on the link below and feel free to add your comments in the section below.

Hannah Smith – News Editor
Andrew O’Brien – Chief Political Correspondent
Alex Fowles

May 14, 2008

First year student found dead in Claycroft

RaW News has today learnt of the tragic death of Jason Venezia, a first year student from the Psychology Department who lived in Claycroft.

His body was found on the afternoon of Tuesday 13th May on campus in his residence in Claycroft and the cause of death is as yet unconfirmed.

University staff and health professionals are working to support those students who were closest to him and his family have been contacted.

According to the University website, the Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Thrift said of the death: “The death of any student is felt deeply by the University community – particularly by friends and staff who knew them well. We offer our sincere condolences to his family and his friends.”

The University also says that a book of condolence will open in the Chaplaincy on Friday.

Hannah Smith
News Editor

May 12, 2008

Protestors Say No! To New Coal

On 1 May, 2008, students and other activists at the University of Warwick protested against E.ON’s plans to build a new coal power station at the Kingsnorth site in Kent. Members of the People and Planet network were joined by others interested in the cause, and members of the local group The Rising Tide in marching from the centre of the campus to E.ON’s national headquarters, located on the edge of the university in Westwood Business Park.

E.ON Protest

In a statement released by the organisers they state: “In our view, the issue is very simple: climate change is a fact, and burning fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil) for energy provision is a vast contributing factor to this, accounting for about 86% of global energy production. The UK is also obliged, under EU energy policy, to source 20% of its energy from renewable sources. For all these reasons, it seems very short-sighted and unreasonable to be investing large sums of money (£1.7 billion for Kingsnorth alone) when attention should be focussing on making renewables more efficient and wide-spread. E.ON claims that the replacement of the existing Kingsnorth coal power plant will be fitted with carbon capturing technology, which will enable it to store the emissions underground. However, research into carbon capturing is only at the trial stage and solutions will probably not be deployable until the 2020’s.”

With all this in mind, the protestors gathered at noon in the Piazza, Warwick’s central square, where they erected two 12-foot model power station chimneys. The 50-60 protestors marched across campus, chanting and handing out information leaflets, gaining momentum and attracting a lot of attention from a student population that is currently much more concerned with revising for impending summer examinations. Upon reaching the E.ON building at the far end of the business park, the group continued chanting and the staged a game “catch the carbon”. This was a playful reference to E.ON’s claims that the emissions from the coal power station would be negligible with its new carbon capturing technology, which will supposedly be able to “store the carbon underground” (E.ON website). The game involved one person with some black balloons (the carbon emission) being chased by others with fishing nets (the carbon capture). The game concluded after several rounds that the carbon capturing technology was unfit for purpose at present, thus demonstrating what the protestors were there for in the first instance.

Carbon Capture Technology

After enquiring whether he could have a statement from an E.ON member of staff, Alex Fowles, an organiser of the protest, was joined by Emily Highmore, E.ON’s senior press officer. When asked why E.ON was supporting a new set of coal power stations, she reasoned that it was their duty as energy providers to maintain a low price and a constant supply of electricity to homes and businesses. It was for the same reason that E.ON opposed a public enquiry into the governments impending decision about whether it should support E.ON’s plans. She further quoted E.ON’s commitment to an “energy mix”, in which renewable sources of energy played a part, but all in the context of guaranteeing energy supplies. She was not able to offer an explanation as to how carbon capturing was to be used if the technology was not ready yet, insisting that it would be installed from day one.

Overall, it is probably safe to say that the protest itself will probably not impact greatly on E.ON’s and the government’s decision-making processes. However, as part of the bigger movement of events, such as a protest outside parliament on April 1, and the Camp for Climate Action in August to be held at Kingsnorth, and a planned meeting with the University’s MP, Warwick University’s People and Planet society have great hope that it will have raised awareness and made their contribution to the ever louder growing voices saying “No!” to an “unsustainable and short-sighted” energy policy.

Alex Fowles
Hannah Smith

Links to find out more:

May 11, 2008

Brown takes the biggest blow for Labour since the 1950s

As if things could not get any worse for Gordon Brown, local elections have risen to strike another blow against the Government. In an election result, the likes of which have not been seen since the golden days of New Labour back in the mid 1990s, the Conservatives smashed the Labour Party across the country securing over 200 seats and the Governments losing around 300 seats. The Liberal Democrats had a disappointing night, gaining around 30 seats but a silver lining appeared when the BBC revealed that their share of the national vote was 1% higher then Labour, putting the Government in third place at 24% compared to 25% for the Liberal Democrats. The Conservative Party was in buoyant mood when the poll put them on 44% enough to secure a majority of over 120 seats, if such results were to occur in a General Election.

Whichever way the results are put, they are disappointing for the Labour Party. 331 Councillors down, reduced from 27% of the National Vote to 24% and 9 councils lost, including some in their midland and northern heartlands. The Conservatives picked up 256 new councillors, 12 new councils and increased their share of the vote by 4%. The Liberal Democrats had to content themselves with 34 new councillors, a single new council and a reduction in a vote by 1%.

Labour was given a further kick in the teeth, when the Conservatives managed to secure the London Mayoralty from Ken Livingstone. The charismatic but gaffe-prone, Boris Johnson, beat the former Mayor of London by over 100,000 votes making for more depressing reading from the point of view of the Prime Minister.

The week worsened for the Prime Minister when Scottish Labour Leader, Wendy Alexander made what could be one of the most important political decisions ever taken by a Scottish Labour Leader, when she decided to push the First Minister Alex Salmond to call a referendum on independence. Mrs Alexander told Alex Salmond to ‘bring it on’ and the Prime Minister was humiliated at Question Time as he tried desperately to get out of the mess his Scottish counterpart had put him in. Leader of the Opposition David Cameron battered the Prime Minister on other issues as well including early release schemes and called on Mr. Brown to ‘stop the PR and start being a PM’.

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg also stuck the boot in when it came to the 10p Tax Revolt, saying that as a matter of principle the Prime Minister should compensate those that are going to lose out from the tax changes.

The Weekend Newspapers though have not given the beleaguered Prime Minister any respite. Saturday saw the release of Cherie Blair’s Memoirs in the form of a serialisation by The Times, she claimed that Mr. Brown had ‘rattled the keys’ of No.10 to get Tony Blair out earlier and that Mr. Blair was now helping Mr. Brown to get through this politically damaging times, rumours which have been denied by senior Brown aides. The Sunday papers are even worse, with John Prescott’s Memoirs stating how he had advised the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to sack the Chancellor as well as describing the PM as ‘annoying, bewildering and prickly’. An Observer Poll has also shown the Prime Minister being rated as ‘worse then Cameron’ on all tests that they conducted on public feelings.
The Prime Minister is going to have to act fast to stop the rot, with most political commentators speaking of the Conservatives waltzing towards a landslide akin to 1997, a possible third revolt on benefit cuts in the Budget and a personal poll rating even worse then his predecessor at his most unpopular this looks like another tough week for the Prime Minister and the Government. As ever, RaW News shall keep students up to date with all the latest events and provide analysis.

Andrew O’Brien
Chief Political Correspondent

May 2008

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