Grant Alexander Chapman-Clarke is President of the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union. If you would like to start a conversation, here is the Students’ Union GovFaces profile.
Once again, I have been asked to summarise the views of 24,000 students that attend the University of Portsmouth; always a nice task! However, I feel that my approach on the lovely question of “what do students think post election about the general election?” should be one of hope, and what our new MP and local council can do to make life better for students across the city; and not just students now, but those that I hope will become studious and join the “knowledge economy” in years to come. I’m also a fan of making Checklists, so I’m going to draft up a small checklist of things for our local Politicians to do (in my opinion), not only to make the lives of 10% of the city better, but to try and make Portsmouth better, too:
- Flick, vote to invest in the future of our country! This is a call to action now to make sure that our new MP does not vote for further loans, like the idea that is currently testing the water on the news about scrapping Maintenance Grants and turning them in to more loans. Portsmouth already has a HUGE problem getting young people to get themselves out of poverty, and we need to make sure that they aren’t put off by huge amounts of debt. Help the future help themselves, and stop letting the government saddle young people with huge amounts of debt!!
- Make sure that start ups are in an environment to Thrive. So many people now want to have agency in their lives, and this can be done by making sure that students and young people have affordable spaces to start these projects; wether its making Portsmouth the “Silicon Island” for future tech start ups by attracting investors to help young people make starts ups, or subsidising space. This will only help attract growth to the city. Currently, almost half of all start ups in Portsmouth fail within their first year, whereas Brighton’s rate is one in five. We can do better, and we should do better. This will only happen with appropriate investment in Portsmouth.
- Faster public transport to and from London: Being able to connect to the centre of the world’s finances and investors can do wonders; Portsmouth should look to work with other south coast cities to create a form of High Speed public transportation, to be able to quickly bring business and pleasure to our great waterfront city.
- Look after the Citizens of Portsmouth: A report last October revealed the extent at which children in the city live in poverty; 1 in 4 children live below the poverty line. This is an unacceptable state for a country with wealth such as ours, and our Government looks to be initiating cuts which will only dramatically further this. Aspiration needs to be a key agenda point for the Local Government, in particular regards to our young people. The dock yards are closing, with nothing seemingly being done to replace the income to our citizens that the dockyards provide for centuries. Something needs to happen, and it needs to happen now. The “Minister for Portsmouth” project appears to have done nothing from what I have seen, and is little replacement for the hundreds set to lose their jobs and incomes.
So there we go; 4 things that need to happen. Basically, (TL:DR): Invest, protect, and look after Portsmouth!!!
Voices of Portsmouth is a series of articles coming from various stakeholders within the Portsmouth community, from members of political parties to academics, students, or members of NGOs. The series highlights some of the most important challenges the city faces today.