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Recorder letters: Rat problems, fly the LGBT flag, building of homes, local plan vote, online safety, loss of power for councillors and homeless

PUBLISHED: 12:19 02 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:20 02 February 2018

An artist's impression of what the finished River Rom could look like at Bridge Close. Photo: Havering Council

An artist's impression of what the finished River Rom could look like at Bridge Close. Photo: Havering Council

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Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.

New housing partner must be better

Pat Brown, Upminster, full address supplied, writes:

Before approving Notting Hill Housing Association as its joint venture partner in a multi-million pound regeneration project, can the cabinet explain why there is no condition for NHHA to complete works to an acceptable standard compared to their existing properties in the borough? The issues raised in some of these properties have been acknowledged by NHHA as their responsibility but promised solutions have not materialised. Was there any consultation with current NHHA residents to ensure they are a responsible partner?

Estate’s rat problems did not happen overnight

Councillor Michael Deon Burton, South Hornchurch, writes:

Biblical Egypt has nothing on us we have Passive Close.

As a councillor with direct responsibility for the ward in which the Passive Close estate is located, please accept my thanks and appreciation for highlighting this wholly unacceptable state of affairs.

The demonstrable reality is, the size and intensity of this unprecedented vermin situation did not occur over night.

The unequivocal and distressing truth is, Old Ford Circle Housing now incorporated into the Clarion Housing Group, have responsibility for the clean and safe upkeep of the area surrounding these constituents’ homes.

To irresponsibly let matters evolve to this point is unacceptable.

You may be sure the all too often realities of rogue landlords saying one thing today whilst very little improves tomorrow, is not the sort of behaviour one would expect from a multi million pound social landlord partner to the council.

My residents demand higher standards.

Minded of the shameful shenanigans which are occurring at Passive Close’s sister estate, Orchard Village. This landlord’s conduct will not any longer escape the sight of the local authority and the Havering people.

Whether buyer or renter, those whom call Passive Close home deserve no less when exiting or entering their front doors than to enjoy piece of mind and sanitary surroundings the rest of us expect as a right.

To those of the Clarion Housing Group with responsibility for the welfare thus far of what is the near new Passive Close estate - I say shame on you.

Fly rainbow flag at council meeting

Fay Hough, Rainham, full address supplied, writes:

February marks LGBT history month, a month many people are proud to celebrate – apart from Havering Council it seems.

Havering Labour approached the council asking them, like other councils, to fly the LGBT flag over the Town Hall during February. The council have categorically refused, arguing that the flag is not recognised under their flag policy.

I strongly believe in the rights of our LGBT community, and can’t quite understand why the council are refusing to celebrate the hard fought rights of a community in their borough, and across the country.

For this reason, a demonstration has been organised on February 21 at 7pm before and during a full council meeting at Havering Town Hall, and we encourage as many people as possible to attend and fly the LGBT flag!

Havering Labour celebrates the contributions of our LGBT community, and stand with them as the fight for equality continues.

Building homes must be realistic

Cllr Clarence Barrett, Upminster & Cranham Residents’ Association, writes:

While the draft housing targets set for Havering by the mayor of London (1,875 per year for 10 years) remain damaging to the character of our borough as it is unrealistic, it is important that all options are explored to tackle the housing crisis.

For example, in London there are about 20,000 properties which have been standing empty for two years or more.

While there is a provision for councils to take control of these properties, namely Empty Dwelling Management Orders, the process is so complicated, expensive and long winded that hardly any councils use this tool.

It would be most useful if our

MPs could press the government

for a simplification of the rules relating to this.

It is, of course, important and desirable that we all have somewhere to live that is affordable and convenient. But we also need somewhere to live that is sustainable, has character, where we can breathe clean air and somewhere where we are proud to call ‘home’.

Cramming more and more people into less and less space is just a recipe for disharmony, discontent and choking congestion.

It is estimated that the population of London will grow by about 70,000 per year, reaching 10.8m in 2041.

While London is a great place to live, there must be broader thinking in terms of alternative locations outside of the capital; the idea of new towns is not new and something which should be pursued with vigour.

Real Local Plan vote will be May

Havering Residents Action write:

Regarding your story on the responses to Havering’s Local Plan consultation, it would seem quite clear that the amount of responses must be at least partially proportional to the confidence that the residents of Havering have in their responses being listened to and acted upon.

A far surer verdict on the Local Plan is surely approaching in the form of May’s Council elections.

Help keep children safe online

Lauren Seager-Smith, chief executive officer, Kidscape, writes:

Around 10 million grandparents in the UK support in the day to day care of children.

Children have grown up in a digital world, and given half a chance will spend hours on their tablets or phones. Some grandparents may feel they are out of their depth when it comes to technology, but more than ever children need a guiding hand to stay safe.

Grandparents and their grandchildren have a special relationship, and we want to give grandparents the confidence to take care of children as they explore the online world. It can be a wonderful place of connection, entertainment and creativity, but there are dangers. The good news is you don’t need to be a digital expert to help keep children safe:

1. Be interested in what your grandchildren are doing online: ask them to show you how it works, the games they are playing, what they like to watch and who they enjoy talking to. If the people seem a bit too old, the games or films too scary or brutal, or your child is sharing too much with strangers - gently say so. Trust your instinct.

2. Negotiate boundaries: for example, limit time on the internet, and check that the games and apps are age appropriate. Coax them to spend time with you offline playing games or going for a walk. It’s these times they will remember.

3. Let them know you are there for them. If anything they read, see or hear online worries or scares them you have a lot of life experience and will try to help.

4. Try using apps and social media yourself - ask your grandchild to show you how!

5. Look out for signs that your grandchild is unusually sad or withdrawn, or seem anxious or upset. Let them know they can tell you anything.

Councillors have slowly lost power

Cllr David Durant, Rainham and Wennington Independent Residents Group, writes:

When New Labour, supported by the New Conservatives, reformed local government by abolishing the committee system and replacing it with their EU inspired Fuhrer model of strong leader/elected mayor, they made almost all councillors redundant.

But successive governments kept councillors in place, with a pay rise, to fool the public into thinking that nothing fundamental to our British democracy had changed.But it had!

Under the decentralised committee system all councillors had a deciding voice and vote, but under the centralised Fuhrer model the leader alone becomes the executive and the decision maker!

This explains the controversy about the secret legal opinion NOT to appeal the demolition of Hare Lodge!

The common practice now is only the executive, the leader, as the decision maker, need see it, because all other councillors are now deemed backbenchers, with no decision making powers and so with no right to see it!

But is it a lawful requirement or just a convention to exclude backbenchers, that has gone unchallenged?

And even if the Leader is within his rights to withhold the legal opinion, it’s also within his gift to disclose it, as he did by showing it to cabinet member, Cllr Damian White, on an alleged need to know basis!

Talk about privileged legal opinion is intended as a smokescreen, because all privileged means, is the lawyer can’t make the legal opinion public, but the customer, the council, can, and as councillors, we are the council, so should be able to see it too, unless of course as stated earlier, we were made de facto redundant when democratic local government was reformed/traduced by New Labour/Conservative as part of their EU project!

Homeless need more help

Joan Smith, Hacton Lane, Hornchurch, writes:

Over the last few years I have noticed that there has been a marked increase in people sleeping on the streets of Havering, in particular the Romford area.

As far as I am aware, there

does not seem to be any help forthcoming from the relevant authorities. I also see that the new leisure centre in Romford is almost finished, offering ice skating and swimming.

This of course should be appreciated but one cannot help

feel a little guilty with the rising number of desperate people

sleeping on the pavement just outside.

I see that the Mosque in Waterloo Road is offering a free meal every Wednesday to the homeless, so

they acknowledge there is a problem and for this I applaud them.

Can Havering Council say that they are taking any such action as tangible as the Mosque, in order to help these people?

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