Recorder letters: MPs claims, Postcode Lottery, Beam Park, Orchard Village medical centre, Hare Lodge, John Spencer, Elizabeth line name and Barnardo’s.
PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 January 2018
Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.
Thanks for playing Postcode Lottery
Rebecca Ashman, PDSA senior vet, writes:
On behalf of pet wellbeing charity, PDSA, which has a busy pet hospital in Danes Road, Romford, I’d like to say a huge thank you to all local players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
We have received fantastic support from players this year, which has helped to secure a better future for thousands of pets in the town, as well as providing emergency care and life-saving equipment.
In 2017, the funding has helped us to:
* See 71,000 pets brought to us with emergency conditions requiring immediate veterinary help. This included those treated at our Romford Pet Hospital
* Purchase 34 items through a National Emergency Equipment Fund to repair or replace old clinical equipment
* Host 52 pet first aid courses across the UK, which have equipped hundreds of people with potentially life-saving skills
* Promote PDSA’s online symptom checker, which has been used over 128,000 times. The free tool has helped owners with queries about their pets’ health
On behalf of us here at PDSA, and all the pets we treat, well done and thank you.
Facts don’t back up all MP’s ‘Special Havering’ claims
Angelina Leatherbarrow, Chair of Romford Labour Party, writes:
On December 22, there was an opinion piece from Romford MP Andrew Rosindell talking about his plans to “keep Havering special” in 2018.
Apart from the dog whistle language used in his article, such as suggesting that we will become “just another lump of Sadiq Khan’s inner London” and suggesting that our borough will become unrecognisable in a few years, he referred to some of the things that he believes set us aside from our neighbouring boroughs.
1. Lower crime than most parts of London.
Fact check - Havering has less than half the population per square mile than our neighbouring boroughs, with almost three times as much space.
Therefore, like for like comparisons on crime numbers are very misleading and don’t give any real indication of how it feels to live in an area.
What we do know is that burglaries and violent crime have increased year on year.
We were the fourth highest London borough for acid attacks with almost double the number of attacks in Hackney.
Our MP has voted in favour of keeping a pay freeze on our police service and the Conservative government have slashed police budgets by £400million, with another £600million worth of cuts are still to come, this will only make Havering less safe.
2. Some of the best schools in the region.
Fact check - In December 2017 the annual Ofsted report revealed that Havering’s secondary schools are the second worst in the country.
We also came in second lowest for how our children progress between Key stages 2 to 4, a vital time in their educational development.
With continued cuts to school budgets that will only make it harder for our already stretched teaching workforce to give our children the resources they need to flourish.
3. Havering Council delivering good, efficient public services, without the huge council tax rises we see elsewhere.
Fact check - The MP is being very selective with the facts here. Last year Havering increased our council tax by 3.5pc whilst our neighbouring boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest increased theirs by 4.3pc, so although they did have higher increases, there was less than 1pc difference.
However the main thing to note is that all of those boroughs still pay less council tax per year than Havering residents.
That means you can live on a road near the border of our borough and be paying almost £200 a year more than a neighbour who happens to be in the next borough.
4. The Mayor’s plan to scrap rules that protect Havering and the suburbs will pave the way for a surge in building and change Havering to the extent that it will become unrecognisable in a few years.
Fact check - Housing targets are set by the government’s planning department, but where we build is down to the council.
All of the new builds don’t need to be in Romford or Rainham; planning permission is political on a very local level and comes down to where the Tory councillors want to protect their votes, not what’s best for the borough.
Beam Park could be a nightmare
Representatives from Independent Havering Facebook Group, write:
Your recent article ‘Borough’s ‘most exciting’ regeneration scheme to go ahead at Beam Park site’ does not perhaps tell the full story.
It is true that the south of the borough has been neglected over the years and has attracted the “dirtiest” of industries eg gravel extraction, car repair yards etc.
Anything that removes the preponderance of those uses has to be a good thing.
The area is to be transformed but not necessarily for the better if overdeveloped.
The original concept of the Beam Park development was for the building of a “garden suburb”.
Most locals felt that this would be an extension of the owner occupied two-storey houses with back gardens that predominate the area.
Instead they are now facing development that consists of two-thirds flats, some potentially towering over houses.
Locals objected but to no avail as GLA housing targets were put first. Furthermore the council and GLA are determined to promote rental properties, which is out of character for the area.
Despite up to 10,000 new residents there is no guarantee of an NHS medical centre and since one primary school is insufficient, local schools are being forced to expand.
The new station is not necessary and is designed to inflate land values but will force a CPZ onto existing residents.
The attempt by some developers to try and link us with Barking & Dagenham is also a threat to Havering’s independence.
We just hope that the council leader’s excitement doesn’t turn into a nightmare
Orchard needs a medical centre
Cllr G Williamson, South Hornchurch Independent Residents, writes:
Further to your report ‘Building issues derail plans for GP surgery at troubled Orchard Village’ (Recorder, December 22), I need to put the record straight.
As part of the original planning application for Orchard Village a medical facility, to support the new estate and nearby residents, was promised.
The problem of the builds on the estate are certainly genuine but the NHS are using it as an excuse ie it is a red herring.
Whilst a handful of residents have understandably had their properties bought back, others have moved in.
Essentially, unlike claimed, there is no reduction in residents and they need nearby medical provision.
There are a lot of problems with NHS management eg public vs private interests (some of those making regional decisions own/have business links to private health companies), promise of facilities that never materialise or become under supported/under funded eg the South End Road Medical Centre.
Given the mushrooming of developments in Havering it is most concerning that there may not be adequate medical support and our council should not be supporting such developments without the necessary facilities.
We must appeal Lodge demolition
Cllr David Durant, Rainham and Wennington Independent Residents Group, writes:
The Havering chief executive says the council has sought two lots of external legal advice, the latter from a QC, about the likelihood of a successful appeal and concludes there is no prospect of a successful challenge to the Inspector’s decision to demolish Hare Lodge!!!
And yet on four previous occasions plans to harm Hare Lodge were refused.
The latest one was approved. So either the first four decisions were wrong or the latest one is wrong, unless they’re all right!
I am not persuaded the latest one is right and nor were the planning committee that voted unanimously against the demolition and without seeing the esteemed legal opinion, I am not persuaded there are no grounds for appeal.
And there is no law forbidding the executive from showing members or public the legal opinion. They just don’t like doing it.
I raised this before when told opinion was legally privileged.
But privilege means the lawyer can’t reveal details, but the customer – the council – can and as councillors, we are the council, and should be shown it.
This is not even confidential financial information, which we are shown (but I doubt all of it), this is just advice on planning law. Why should advice about planning law be kept secret?
For this reason I am seeking cross-party support to hold an extraordinary council meeting to debate and appeal Hare Lodge.
The council’s vote is advisory and If there are no grounds for appeal then the vote will be lost, or won and ignored, as it’s an executive decision whether to appeal.
Ex-Warren pupil John Spencer
Ken Hodges, Fore Street, Stratton, writes:
As an ex-resident of Romford from 1937-1972, I have been trying to
trace an old school friend of
mine, John Spencer who lived in Chadwell Heath and attended the Warren Secondary School in Whalebone Lane during the years 1948-1952.
Should anyone know of his whereabouts, I would be pleased to hear from them, as well as anyone else who may remember me from that time.
Why did Crossrail become Elizabeth?
Mr W Ramsay, Stephen Avenue, Rainham, writes:
The Romford Recorder (December 22) updated us on the progress of what is now called the Elizabeth line, but can the name change from Crossrail itself be so viewed as it involves considerable sacrifice of verbal convenience and meaningfulness?
It may be that the general sentiment is that the desirability of further commemorating the Queen’s reign in this way far outweighs the latter loss, but finding out before hand was evidently never thought desirable.
Make resolution to help Barnardo’s
William Farrell, retail volunteer manager, Barnardo’s, writes:
By giving us a little of your spare time, you will gain invaluable experience that could provide a stepping stone to a new career or
an opportunity to add to your personal statement for college or university.
Pop into your local Barnardo’s store or visit barnardos.org.uk/volunteering