Lambeth bags award for supporting startups

Lambeth has been crowned joint winner for Best Programme of Support for Small Businesses at the annual Small Business Friendly Awards, alongside Sutton.

The awards ceremony, now in its fourth year, took place on Thursday March 30 at the Kingsway Hall Hotel in Holborn. It seeks to recognise the work done by London boroughs which helps to nurture and grow local small businesses.

Cllr Jack Hopkins, cabinet member for business, culture and regeneration, said: “This is a fantastic recognition of the work we’ve done to support small businesses in Lambeth.”

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Left to right Cllr Jack Hopkins and Small Business & Enterprise Officer Nathan Vasey 

Lambeth was praised for its Lambeth Works programme, which seeks to provide affordable workspace for startups and small businesses in the area. Plans include generating 140,000 square foot of workspace within in the next five years.

The programme has already seen successful ventures like Pop Brixton, once disused land, being turned into a creative space for startups in retail, food, social enterprise and design.

The council’s initiative also strives to prevent workspace losses in the Lambeth borough.

Cllr Jack Hopkins said: “We have improved the look and feel of our high streets and encouraged business friendly council planning and licensing policies…There has never been a better time to start or run a small business in this borough.”

Other winners in the South-West London area included Wandsworth borough for Best all-round business friendly borough award and Merton borough for the Best small business friendly procurement to support local trade award.

Lucky escape for hamster thrown in South London bin

A live hamster was found in the back of a rubbish truck, moments before it was about to be crushed.

One Tuesday morning in West Norwood, a bin man discovered a cage that had been dumped in an industrial bin, with a hamster still in it.

The bin man promptly took the creature to the local RSPCA charity shop, South East London Branch, where it was looked after by Deborah Thompson, 57.

“I’d just opened the shop and one of our bin men came in carrying a cage that he had found,” she said. “The cage had been put inside an industrial rubbish bin, and he noticed that when they tipped it out they saw a cage come out.

“Luckily enough he saw something moving, so before it went through the crusher he quickly whipped it out.

“I cleaned the cage out, because it was a bit of a mess, and then quickly ran to the pet shop and bought some clean straw and food.

“Her face was tiny, but within two minutes of being back in the cage her cheeks were huge, so god knows when the last time she had been fed.”

Shortly after Deborah had cleaned and fed the hamster, a RSPCA inspector arrived and took the hamster to the Putney RSPCA Animal Hospital where her health was checked out by professionals.

It is believed that the RSPCA inspector fell in love with the little pet, and once she had been checked out, was taken home.

We may be outraged by this mistreatment of a pet, but it happens more often than you might think, as Deborah explains:

“Lots of these types of things happen, because [the bin man] was saying that a few weeks before someone had put a piglet in an industrial bin, alive. It’s disgusting. But, it happens so much.”

However, the RSPCA try to do all they can to help neglected animals.

Deborah added: “Someone left a box on the shop floor, which we thought was a donation but no, it had 8 rabbits in it.

“We’ve had rabbits, somebody brought a cat in, and somebody caught a little song bird that was just flying around locally.

“We keep saying, ‘all we need is a dog now’!”

If you see an animal being mistreated or neglected, or if you would like to adopt a rescued pet, please contact the RSPCA immediately: 0300 123 4999.

12 years after Jamie Oliver’s junk food crusade, have colleges missed out on healthy food provisions?

Over a decade after Jamie Oliver’s campaign against junk food, the government is continuing to tackle an obesity ‘epidemic’ in schools – but is enough being done to tackle poor quality food in colleges?

Fatty foods over the counter, vending machines and fast-food premises setting up nearby colleges continue to put pressure on the institutions to promote quality food.

And education secretary Justine Greening’s plans to inject £415 million of cash into primary, secondary schools and sixth form colleges did not offer provisions for further education institutions.

Last year funding for the Education Funding Agency (EFA) was cut by 2.2pc, meaning a change in food standards in colleges may be slow due to budget constraints.

According to the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH), 40 per cent of schools are within walking distance to fast food outlets.

The RSPH’s findings also revealed that one in four children had takeaway orders delivered to their schools.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The Government recognises the importance of helping children and young people lead healthier lives.

“The ‘Childhood Obesity: A Plan for Action’ report was published last year to improve the well-being of children, and contribute towards reducing future pressures on the NHS.

“The plan will help children and families to recognise and make healthier choices and be more active, supported by schools and the NHS.”

Oliver’s campaign resulted in processed meats, sweets, soda and crisps being banned from schools.

The ban, which came into force in 2006, seemed to neglect colleges in higher education, meaning vending machines filled with chocolates and snacks with high levels of saturated fats can still populate these schools.

A move to combat the growing obesity problem in the country, in a report by the government, was estimated to cost the NHS £5.1bn in 2015.

In recent months, the government has focused its attention on younger schoolchildren – Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced a policy to provide free school meals for all primary schools.

As the current policy stands, pupils in the first three years of primary education receive free meals.

In England 16-year-olds must remain in some form of education until they reach the age of 18, unless they begin an apprenticeship or work.

People in this age group are believed to be the most vulnerable to unhealthy diets.

The government’s child obesity plan highlights that a third of children aged two to 15 are overweight and younger generations are staying obese for longer.

Obese adults are more likely to contract type-2 diabetes, and are not only prone to physical threats like heart attacks, but mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Hard Brexit could damage ‘tech capital of Europe’, says Khan

London’s tech industry may lose out if a hard Brexit means capping migration, Sadiq Khan has warned.

The Mayor of London was asked by London Assembly Member Fiona Twycross (Lab) at City Hall on March 22 whether he thought the government’s digital strategy was enough to prepare the capital for a “digital revolution”, referring to Brexit as the “elephant in the room”.

Mr Khan responded: “I think that we are the capital of Europe as far as tech is concerned. One of the reasons we are a world leader is our ability to attract talent.

“But if the government does not allow flexible immigration policy, and there is instead a crude cap, that will affect our ability to remain competitive.”

The Mayor’s warning follows an optimistic report from Tech City UK, whose Tech Nation report affirmed the former’s claim that the UK is “the digital capital of Europe”.

The report revealed that the capital produced a tech turnover of £56 billion, and that it was home to a third of Europe’s businesses valued at more than $1bn.

But Wendy Tan White, general partner at Entrepreneur First, warned: “There are some big challenges ahead of the British digital tech sector, not least finding the skilled staff to continue growing at this rate.

“Whatever happens in the coming months, the UK must continue to be an attractive place for investors to want to put their money, prioritising support and infrastructure for the start-up economy.”

Khan said that tech entrepreneurs are “either freelance or self-employed”, and should be assured job security from the government.

He later said that it was his view that the government should “rule out its hard Brexit no-deal approach”.