In a meeting with Sussex Student Union officers on Friday 19 October, Mike Weatherley, Conservative MP for Hove and Portslade, raised concerns about the lack of consultation carried out by the University in regards to its privatisation plans.
Mike Weatherley pledged to write to the University Registrar, John Duffy, questioning whether the University have failed to adhere to their memorandum of understanding over student consultation during the pursuit of their privatisation plans. He will be the second MP to do so.
Regarding a recent spate of errors by Student Finance England, in which many students were overpayed, Mike Weatherley agreed with the Union that upfront repayment would be unfair, and he suggested that repayment over three years would be more justifiable. Weatherley agreed to write and request a solution to this from David Willetts MP, the Universities Minister.
Rising student numbers and the block of voter registration were among other topics discussed. Weatherley commented that the rise in numbers of students does not coincide with an increase in council tax, therefore local services could potentially suffer strain.
Facing the issue of the block voter registration on campus, Weatherley is totally in favour of individual registration. The Students’ Union officers believe, however, that this could discourage students from voting. Some issues outside of Sussex campus were also discussed, for example the recent legislation on squatting.
Weatherley, a key figure in bringing forward the legislagion, believes that the criminalization of squatting in domestic propoerties has been a success, and suggests that it be expanded further to include commercial premises.
Kelly McBride, Students’ Union President, offered the contrasting view that many of these squatters have major life issues and therefore should be treated with respect. Weatherley argued that this was the duty of the social services and local authorities, and should not act as a reason to hinder the new legislation.
The last topic of discussion was the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Elections, and the opportunity for Brighton and Hove residents to vote for the first ever commissioner. Although Weatherley admitted his initial scepticism, he nonetheless made clear his belief that police accountability is certainly important.