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Students march in support of striking lecturers

Lecturers at the South East's universities walked out on strike today in a row about their pensions. Members of the University and College Union staged demonstrations at campuses including Sussex and Kent.

Employers say the final salary pension scheme is too expensive and is facing a huge deficit. But lecturers fear proposed changes could leave them up to £10,000 a year worse off.

Meanwhile, students are losing out on teaching at a crucial stage of their studies. And some are demanding financial compensation.

Malcolm Shaw has our report.


Music app helps school orchestra hit the right note

iPads are increasingly being used in schools as aids to teaching. But now researchers at the University of Sussex have developed an app which could transform the way students learn music.

The notes and tempo for each player's instrument is displayed on their own tablet computer, helping to keep them in tune in with the rest of the orchestra.

Malcolm Shaw spoke to Gill Fenton of Southover School, Lewes, and Prof Ed Hughes from the University of Sussex.

Bee population falling rapidly

Researchers at Sussex University are calling on the public to help study why the number of bees is falling. Bees play a vital role in our countryside, pollinating fruit and vegetables. But many native species are declining rapidly. Now, it's hoped that "citizen science" will provide more clues about why the insects are under threat. Malcolm Shaw reports.

Weatherley 'overwhelmed' by attack support

Mike Weatherley says he was 'mobbed' yesterday Credit: Mike Weatherley

Mike Weatherley, MP for Hove, says he has been overwhelmed by kind wishes after having rocks and tomatoes hurled at him by pro-squatting protesters.

The Conservative MP had to be barricaded in a room along with his staff as a crowd gathered outside the University of Sussex, yesterday.

One member of his staff had her arm crushed in a door while another had a rock thrown at her neck, it was claimed.

Mr Weatherley said: "I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the kind messages of support that I have received from friends, constituents and concerned members of the public."

Sussex Police said no arrests were made but their investigations were "active and ongoing".

A statement from the Squatters' Network of Brighton (And Hove Actually) described the incident as "all in all, an amazing day out!".

It said Mr Weatherley had repeatedly shunned debate with any squatters before new laws were passed, which they claimed led 90% of people to oppose banning squatting in a Government consultation.

The University of Sussex said it was "appalled" by the incident which officials said did not involve their students.


University 'appalled' by MP attack - University of Sussex statement

Mike Weatherley 'mobbed' this afternoon Credit: Mike Weatherley

Mike Weatherley, MP for Hove and Portslade, was invited on to campus by the Conservative Society at the University of Sussex, to debate the new law that makes it a criminal offence to squat in residential properties. Mr Weatherly was instrumental in the introduction of the law.

Mr Weatherley was due to speak this lunchtime at the Asa Briggs Lecture Theatre in a debate open to all our students. He was due to discuss why he supported the new law and to discuss the opposition it has faced.

A violent protest prevented the event from taking place.

The University’s response to these events is: "We are appalled to hear that Mike Weatherley was prevented from speaking on campus by a group of protestors.

"We believe that the violent disruption was led by activist protestors from outside of the University, not by our students.

"We maintain a policy of freedom of speech on campus that is fundamental to the nature of academic institutions.

"It is a very positive aspect of British society that individuals responsible for important aspects of public life are willing to debate and discuss their actions and approaches.

"We successfully hold talks on campus from a wide range of people. Where protests have taken place in the past, they have been conducted in a peaceful way.

"We had appropriate security measures in place to protect our students and visitors as a matter of contingency - and we were able to put those into effect in this case.

"We are giving help and support to the police over the incident, and if there is any evidence of violent actions by our students we would of course provide that to them.

"We deeply regret that Mr Weatherley was not only unable to give his talk, depriving him and our students of any chance to discuss the issues concerned, but that he was prevented from doing so in such an aggressive manner.

“We also deeply regret the distress caused to Mr Weatherley and his staff as visitors to our campus, and the distress to our students who were involved in organising the talk.”

'Outrageous attack' MP Weatherley says after punches thrown and rocks hurled at University clash

Mike Weatherley Credit: Mike Weatherley

Mike Weatherley, the Conservative MP for Hove and Portslade, has labelled his attackers "pro-squatter thugs" after an incident at the University of Sussex this afternoon.

The MP said he was invited by students to talk about his involvement in changing the law to criminalise squatting.

However, just before the debate was to start, a "large mob of non-students surrounded Mike and threatened him," he said.

Security officials barricaded the MP and his staff into a room until police arrived.

Mr Weatherley said: “It’s absolutely outrageous that a peaceful event such as this should be hijacked by a group of violent thugs. As soon as I walked in to the lecture theatre someone attempted to punch me.

"The event was immediately abandoned, but as we tried to leave, rocks were hurled, and two female members of my staff were injured.

"The squatters have regularly attempted to stop free speech from taking place for the precise reason that they cannot justify their criminal behaviour."

Sussex University said: ”We are appalled to hear that Mike Weatherley was prevented from speaking on campus by a group of protestors - not our students.”

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