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Recorder letters: Market House, Hexit, building, Local Plan, village green and orange sacks

PUBLISHED: 11:31 24 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:31 24 July 2017

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The proposal for a Market House has been dropped.

Indoor market a practical solution

Ann Smith, Main Road, Gidea Park, writes:

Now that Havering Council has abandoned the plan for the building in the Market Place, could they not consider on indoor market.

With the number of empty shops in the Market Place, it would be a very practical solution and surely would not cost more than they have already spent.

Swan Walk could have a roof over it, as was suggested some years ago and the shops opened up to provide a large space which would offer the following benefits:

• Stallholders and shoppers would be protected from the elements

• Market Place would be free for parking and special events

• Stalls would not have to be dismantled as they would be permanently erected

It seems quite a practical solution that surely could be considered.

Council must show strong leadership in face of Hexit farce

Colin Nickless, full address supplied, writes:

I am concerned that Havering has become a laughing stock over Ukip’s motion of “Hexit”.

A recent news report on The Sunday Politics show claimed that residents were fed up with the GLA, and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s plans for the borough.

The report interviewed residents in Romford Market to canvass their views. This echoed the many TV reports the previous year from the Brexit campaign.

People are angry because of the effects of austerity and they are looking for someone to blame, so last year it was the EU, and now it is the GLA.

This is however, not a fair representation of all the residents, with many people very happy to be living in a London borough.

I cannot help but feel this is a group of opportunists preying on legitimate concerns of residents. Piggybacking their agenda onto residents’ campaigns over housing, planning and protecting our green spaces.

These could all be addressed without the notion of leaving the GLA. Ukip fared badly in the last two elections and I feel this has all been stirred up with one eye on next year’s council elections.

I doubt much thought has gone into the impact of leaving the GLA would have on transport costs, Freedom Passes, policing, fire and rescue services and house prices.

However, there are legitimate residents’ concerns to be addressed.

How would building 30,000 homes, have an impact on the borough? Scrutiny is needed over all plans for homes to make sure they include conditions for infrastructure, services and parking and developers are held to account over these conditions.

There needs to be adequate provisions for doctors, hospitals and schools. Many of the new homes are planned for professionals who work in London, but the c2c service cannot cope with the current level of usage now, so how will it cope in the future?

Havering Council should be engaging with the GLA, to address these concerns and stick up for the residents.

It is their failures in schemes such as Orchard Village, that has added fuel to the fire, and as such, needs now to show strong leadership in the face of this farce.

Unitary authority plan not sensible

Graham Lane, Jarvis Way, Harold Wood, writes:

The idea of Havering becoming a unitary authority is not a sensible one because it will lose the advantages it has as a London borough.

Cllr Lawrence seems to think Havering residents would still keep the Freedom Pass if it became an unitary council, when of course it would not, as that is managed and funded by the Greater London Council.

Havering Council is elected by the residents of Havering as is the GLA’s representative for this area. Everyone in London has a vote for the London Mayor.

Havering is going through considerable changes and if it became a unitary authority there would be serious difficulties in it raising sufficient finance for high quality services.

The local elections are next year with the opportunity to elect 54 Havering councillors with three members to each ward. Havering will soon be part of Crossrail, which will make travelling into London and Heathrow much easier.

Being a unitary authority would not give the residents of Havering more say and they would have less influence through not being part of the Greater London Authority, particularly over the services such as the fire service.

Making Havering a unitary authority would not be value for money and would result missing out on the qualities of service provided by the Greater London Authority.

Havering must leave the GLA

Peter R Schubert, Allen Road, Rainham, writes:

As was the case with the EU referendum, project fear has a new cause to alarm the population of Havering. The new cause is Hexit.

The loss of Freedom Pass the first thing on the list by opponents of Havering leaving control of the GLA.

The Freedom Pass is not a perk of being a part London, it is paid by the huge amount we pay in council tax. A sum of which is given to the GLA for nothing in return.

An example is policing – do you see any police out and about? Rainham police station was closed many years ago and was sold for housing. I know many police stations have closed in Essex too, but being a part of London has not prevented closures in Rainham and over places in Havering.

There is no reason why the Freedom Pass cannot continue after Hexit.

I fully agree with Mr Cauvain’s letter (Your Opinions - Romford Recorder, July 14), I too would like Havering to return to the control of the Essex County Council.

But whatever the borough does – become a unitary authority or return to the ECC, Havering must leave the GLA.

Residents did not have a say in the amalgamation of the Hornchurch UDC and the Romford BC to create today’s Havering Council and to become a part of the then GLC, and leaving the Greater London Authority it will some way rectify a great wrong.

Also, by leaving the GLA, true local democracy will return to the borough.

If Havering becomes a unitary authority the council will be answerable to the residents and no one else. If Havering becomes under the control of the Essex County Council, then the electorate will be able to elect county councillors to County Hall in Chelmsford, something we have not been able to do since 1965.

I know the borough will gain so much by leaving the control of the GLA and will be rid of dictatorial rule of the Mayor of London.

Councillors please listen to Cllr Lawrence Webb and be brave and vote to leave the GLA.

We don’t need to build so much

Cllr Graham Williamson, South Hornchurch Independent Residents Group, writes:

Further to your report on Havering’s developing Local Plan I would like to clarify a few assertions.

Whilst it is correct to say that the threat to build 30,000 properties, with or without infrastructure, stems from the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), this does NOT reflect Havering’s need.

Firstly, the assessment is suspect as the whole of London is treated as one housing market. The government produce figures of projected population increases and say that a disproportionate number will go and stay in London.

For their own reasons, the GLA have also decided that a disproportionate number would or should go to east London, including Havering. But let’s be honest, how many people from Sheffield or Warsaw say they must move to Romford, let alone east London? The whole process is dishonest and designed to force development on any area of London, the mayor/GLA desires.

Secondly, the original “need” identified for Havering up to 2033 in September of last year was some 25,200 properties (almost all of whom are not presently resident in Havering).

However, unlike other boroughs, we responded at that time to the GLA’s increased projected population figures, by increasing our housing figure to 30,050/year ie in other words adding some extra 5,000 properties, at a stroke.

This figure is important because it is used by the London Mayor to create his housing targets. Whilst the council are committing themselves to supporting the present GLA housing target of 1,170 properties per year, the mayor’s London Plan will be unveiled next year. He will undoubtedly demand the imposition of the 30,000 figure.

If we are lucky we might get our Local Plan implemented beforehand but thereafter the mayor will try and get his figure accepted. Critically, the SHMA suggests that the ‘backlog’ must be built into revised targets so we still end up with 30,000 by 2033!

Unlike our council, however, I do believe the figure can be challenged but, if the GLA/Inspectorate refuse to be flexible, I fear your other big story, “Hexit”, will be all that is left in our armoury.

Council at mercy of government

Mr W Ramsay, Stephen Avenue, Rainham, writes:

It was timely that the Recorder’s historian Prof Ged Martin should last week have described how the Becontree Estate came to be built, with the present controversy going on over the prospective building of 30,000 homes in Havering.

For, regulatory frameworks currently in place that apparently require the latter would obviously have prevented its construction. And such requirements can be imposed on unitary authorities as much as ones coming under the GLA, so Cllr Webb’s Hexit idea is not worth losing free travel over.

Local government is, as usual, at the mercy of national government decisions, as Cllr Williamson has acknowledged on the present matter, and it is not within the power of councillors to go against them, only make the best of things. However, we have a Havering MP, Jon Cruddas, who made an election pledge to “stop Tory plans to concrete over Rainham, South Hornchurch and Elm Park with 30,000 properties”. He is someone at the right level and it would be good to hear how he proposes to make good his pledge, particularly with the power of government not being what it was.

Local Plan doesn’t protect open space

Residents Action Havering, write:

It is with interest that we have perused the draft Local Plan from Havering Council.

No doubt they are pleased to be able to offer up the designation of open space for selected areas as a defence against the criticisms they have garnered recently.

What they wholly omit to explain however is what legal status, if any, these open spaces have. This is because they have none whatsoever, and are simply a few forms away from being designated as land suitable for housing, should the borough decide it needs yet more of our open spaces. These designations are simply window-dressing and of no real substance.

Under the Commons Act 2006, any landowner has the right to self-register land they own as a village green. This measure would go a long way to reassuring the residents of the borough that the council does, in fact, have a stopping point in mind for its “march of progress”.

The failure of Havering Council to act in the interests of its residents by securing legal protection for their open spaces should be viewed accordingly.

What about our village green?

John Clarke, on behalf of The Dovers Farm Estate Village Green Committee, writes:

So the draft Local Plan fails entirely to mention the open space on Dovers Farm Estate. Can we dare to hope that this omission is due to the council deciding to self-register the land as a village green, as it is entitled to do?

This would be the best outcome for all concerned, as it would allow the council to be seen in a positive light and in step with the opinions and wishes of its own residents.

If it turns out that this is not the case, we remain confident in the success of our village green application.

Orange sacks ration not enough

Christine Seymour, The Mall, Hornchurch, writes:

My neighbours and I are shocked to discover that our ration of orange sacks has been drastically reduced.

It is now 15 sacks every 13 weeks, which may be enough for some single person households but is certainly not enough for families.

Worse still, extra sacks from the library are also tightly rationed.

Meanwhile the council continues to urge us to recycle more.

How exactly are we supposed to do this?

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