Locked out : LETTER

GORDON BROWN is being optimistic to suggest that a substantial training programme will make a significant impact on unemployment ("Inequalities that make us all poor", 12 February).

Brighton has an exception- ally high proportion of skilled and qualified people, yet many are unemployed, and the town is a notorious unemployment black spot.

The phenomenon is easily explained. There are half-a- million square feet of vacant offices and six large vacant sites in Brighton town centre. They are vacant primarily because property speculators, mainly institutional investors, bought feverishly in the pre-1988 boom, and the premises cannot be let at current market rentals because the owners would be forced to write- down their book values. The effect is that people are literally locked out of work.

Unless Labour deals with the problem of the unresponsiveness of the property market, all its plans to cut unemployment will come to nothing.

Henry Law