Recorder letters: Gallows Corner, boundary meeting saga, face masks and more

PUBLISHED: 10:00 08 August 2020

Gallows Corner. Picture: Ken Mears

Gallows Corner. Picture: Ken Mears


Letters sent in from Recorder readers this week.

Expect new Gallows Corner promises

Cllr Ron Ower, Derham Gardens, Upminster, writes:

Recent correspondence in the Recorder on the problems at Gallows Corner show again that successive governments of all political persuasions have ignored Havering apart from us losing out financially - projects like the upgrading of Gallows Corner, long overdue, have simply been ignored.

Since its inception the amount of traffic using the flyover and roundabout has increased dramatically and is predicted to carry on increasing.

No doubt with elections taking place now next year to the Greater London Council we will receive promises to have Gallows Corner substantially upgraded.

Situation is of leader’s own making

Cllr Ray Morgon, leader of the opposition, Havering Council, writes:

In the leader of the council’s letter (July 31, 2020) he attempted to respond to claims that he had “Gerrymandered” the council’s submission to the Boundary Commission, and I must say that he made a gallant attempt to defend the indefensible.

But as the saying goes, when you are in a hole, stop digging.

He tried to give the impression that the normal process had been adhered to, but if that was the case, why did he tell his colleagues at a Conservative Group meeting back in February that the chief executive had allowed him to manipulate things to their political advantage? Is that really normal?

Strangely, he did not deny the accuracy of the things that he is heard saying on the recording, but stated that it had failed to capture some of the subtleties and way things had been phrased.

He certainly seems to be clutching at straws.

He later goes on to suggest that the standing of the chief executive should not be questioned, but given that it was he who stated at the meeting that to his surprise the chief executive had allowed him to manipulate things, then surely it is right and proper that the chief executive’s role in any of this should also be questioned as part of an independent investigation.

The council is now trying to suggest that their appointed investigator is independent of Havering, but the reality is certainly not the case.

How can you be considered independent when you are a director of an organisation jointly owned by Newham and Havering Council?

Finally, the leader of the council tries to suggest that individuals are seeking to gain political advantage, but the reality is that this situation is of his own making and the public expect and demand the truth that only a wholly independent investigation can provide.

Boundary response is the ‘fake news’

Cllr Bob Perry, Independent, writes:

In response to the letter submitted by Damian White and published on this page last Friday, and further comments made by Andrew Rosindell that the “boundary gate” scandal is fake news, is in itself fake news, as the recording and transcript prove.

To deny any wrongdoing clearly displays the lack of moral fibre they collectively possess. Mr White claims in his letter that, somehow, a false impression has been given and it was not recognised by him as an accurate transcript.

It is his voice on the recording, undeniable evidence in which he says: “So tomorrow, um, the op, the Opposition, all group leaders have been invited to meet Andrew Blake-Herbert to look at the four options we have come up with, um. He’d. For, for, um, these four walls, I’ve been able to, only recently he has agreed for some reason to allow me to influence the proposals and, erm, I’ve been able to.

“Andrew Rosindell has come in and looked at them and then checked them and out of the four options, if I’m honest, what they were proposing, some of them were disastrous.

“Erm, if we, they would be included, we would never ever win ever again. Um, they will just. Some, I mean for instance, one of them, one for Romford Town, Squirrels Heath, um, what, you know, large chunks of Harold Hill into Pettits. I mean they would just. Some of them we’d just lose but, um, but we’ve come up with, umm we’ve, we’ve come up with a set of proposals that I think are really politically advantageous for us.”

I ask how could this possibly be misunderstood?

Mr White goes on to say that, “those who are calling into question the character and integrity of the chief executive and other officers are wrong”.

I must point out that the only person who has brought their character into question is Damian White himself, as he is the one who mentions them in the recording.

He further states that everything was all done correctly and properly and nothing untoward took place, then why does he say on the recording that it had?

He concludes his letter by saying that, “it is unfortunate that certain individuals are seeking political advantage”.

What utter nonsense. I stand as an independent and not aligned to any political party, so what advantage am I supposedly seeking?

Andrew Rosindell suggested on the radio that I should apologise to Damian White.

NO Andrew, it is Damian White that should apologise to the good people of Havering.

The public are not stupid and can see this sorry saga for what it is. He should do something decent for the borough and resign.

Development density important

Adam Grace, Amanda McKiernan, Andrew Curtin, Michael Armstrong, Shauna Holmes and Tim Howson, executive committee, Romford Civic Society, write:

We know that everyone is very excited by ward boundaries at the moment, and this is important, but could we possibly drag discussion back to the equally important issue of the environment of Romford from these more political concerns?

The environment will exist wherever ward boundaries are and will inevitably be shared by everyone, even those only passing through, and so its quality, sustainability and interest are of importance.

There will not be lines dividing it up to indicate ward boundaries but it will be shared and (hopefully) enjoyed, though possibly loathed, if the wrong choices are made, by everyone.

In this context, the density of proposed development is extremely important.

Excessively dense developments, with an excessive number of properties per hectare, will seem glowering, over-bearing, cramped and unpleasant.

Those with a more reasonable level of density will have space to create a more pleasant impression in general and to provide for a more pleasant life for those living in them particularly.

In this light, the density of development proposed by Romford councillors on the Waterloo Road site is of importance.

Despite a polite request for debate on the matter published by the Recorder a couple of weeks ago, we note that no information has been forthcoming from local elected representatives, discussing the nature of their decision making in this matter.

Perhaps we could focus their minds on the issue once more?

The density which they propose for development on the Waterloo Road site is 317 units per hectare.

This is well above the 260 units per hectare established for such sites by the Mayor of London in his policies.

It is above the level proposed for comparative private-sector developments in Rom Valley Way nearby.

Some understanding of the considerations which Romford councillors are bearing in mind when proposing this apparently eye-wateringly excessive level of density for the site would be of benefit, enabling the community to feel that it has genuine interest and involvement in the quality of the environment which we all share.

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Minor discomfort to protect lives

Cllr Jason Frost, cabinet member, Public Health, writes:

Readers have once again been treated to peculiar wisdom that emanates from Cllr David Durant. In his latest proclaimations, Cllr Durant’s plea is that the borough’s citizens ought to treasure the “freedom to die”.

The government, acting on the advice of scientific and public health experts, chose to introduce the mandatory wearing of masks when inside shops and other buildings.

The driving principle being that the mass wearing of masks would act to protect others from the potential of infection. The wearing of a mask must therefore be regarded as a very visible commitment to our fellow men and women.

For Cllr Durant, such a commitment to the common good of our borough community should be cast aside in favour of the purely selfish motive. Better that we be free to die (or to condemn other, more vulnerable people to infection and death) than to accept some minor discomfort to protect lives.

However, not content with setting out his selfish ideology, Cllr Durant actively encourages the breaking of the law on masks (and presumably on social distancing more generally).

Curious indeed for an “acclaimed chairman of the Crime & Disorder Committee” as he has taken to styling himself. Did he believe it was his role to promote “disorder” rather than actually prevent it?

At a time when large areas of the country are having to be placed into lockdown once again due to rising numbers of cases caused by the large scale failure to adhere to the social distancing guidelines, and the economic damage that ensues, such extremist libertarianism advocated by Cllr Durant is criminally irresponsible.

No council homes for single people

Graham Davidson, Elm Park, full address supplied, writes:

Reading your letter about the lady whose son cannot get a council place, I know how he feels. I’ve lived in Havering borough for 57 years. Because I’m single, like the lady’s son, every time I fill a form in the council keeps putting things in my way. I sent a doctor’s letter and still didn’t get a reply. Thought it was council policy to write back within 14-28 days. I phoned and never got a call back.

It think it unfair that single men and women don’t stand a chance to get a council place. If it’s bad for me now to get a place, what will it be like for people in the future?

They’re building lots of council places in the borough and building on any available land. I think the government and local council should look into housing for single people.

I have written to many councillors, MP, Mrs May, Boris Johnson and am getting nowhere. There must be many more like me. They want your votes but don’t help you when you need help. We are told by the government we are all in this together. It doesn’t seem like it.

Why no Freedom Pass at 5.30am?

Peter Maddy, Hornchurch, writes:

I was using my Freedom Pass at 5.30 in the morning to get my newspapers and be back by 6am from Hornchurch to Elm Park.

Before all this happened about not being allowed to travel before 9am, there would only be three or four people on the bus. What diffence does this make?

I agreed not to travel in the rush hour, what rush hour at 5.30? The other day it was three minutes to 9 and I was refused to board the bus with only one passenger onboard.

Surely the government needs to look at this rule and use a bit of commonsense.

A better system for elections

Ian Sanderson, Liberal Democrat candidate for Romford in 2015, 2017 and 2019 general elections, full address supplied, writes:

In the notorious Tory group meeting, Damien White called some wards Conservative wards. It is for the voters to decide on their councillors, at each election.

The 2018 results show that in six of the eight wards with three Tory councillors each, the Tories got all three councillors with less than two thirds of the vote.

There is a better system for electing councillors, used throughout Northern Ireland and Scotland. It is the Single Transferable Vote (STV).

It would be simple to introduce in three-member wards in Havering. Voters number the candidates in the order they prefer. A voter is more likely to get a councillor he or she really wants. Havering electoral staff could easily learn counting an STV election – they already count four different types of election.

There is another advantage to STV. At the last ward boundary revision, great efforts were made to get exact wards of 10,000 electors. Since then the electorate in some wards has grown more than others. With STV you can just add a further council seat to an oversized ward and avoid the expense of boundary changes.

Why counselling is the answer

Cynthia Rao, a Romford counsellor, full address supplied, writes:

I read this week that in the first set of major announcements regarding job losses, that women in the retail sector were expected to make up a lot more than 50 per cent of the total numbers.

This is a further example of how the burden of this pandemic is falling disproportionately on the female gender.

During initial lockdown, more women than men took responsibility for home schooling. Women traditionally “knit” the family unit together and “douse down” flames when they spark up at home.

These are more frequent as a result of people being under the same roof 24/7. A number of 
women have been forced to live through lockdown within a dysfunctional family unit or with a volatile partner.

There are more women who are key workers, putting themselves in the frontline.

Now it seems women will bear the brunt of the first of many job loss announcements.

I am a counsellor and there is a professional angle to these comments.

The last four months have been difficult for everyone. The country has been informed daily about the numbers of infections and, sadly, deaths from Covid-19. But what no one knows yet is the toll that the pandemic has taken on the nation’s mental health.

I’ve always believed that reaching out for professional support is a sign of real strength.

The reason why counsellors/therapists are well-qualified, registered and have supervisory support themselves is because their work is complex, personal and absorbing. This is why they can 
work deeply with their clients to help find ways to fix the issues they have.

Yet many women will hide the issues they have, choosing instead to manage them by confiding in a friend and using the opportunity to chat to temporarily get the issues off their chest.

This is just a “sticking plaster solution” and doesn’t address the real issue. Talking to a friend might take the heat out of a situation, but it never seeks to understand what is causing the issue, let alone addressing the core problem.

A therapist will seek, in a non-judgmental way, to locate the source of any underlying anxiety, depression etc and why a persistent negative state has a hold over you.

The roots of fragile mental health as an adult nearly always lie in childhood. You may assume by that I mean a child who has suffered as a consequence of poor or abusive parenting techniques. However, there are just as many people who had the benefit of positive parenting, but it was other events in childhood that have affected them as adults. For example, an accident, bereavement or disruption caused by conflict or displacement.

When you locate the source of the issue it becomes easier to find a fix. Resilience starts to return, accompanied by feelings of happiness and fulfilment. These are outcomes worth striving for and can never be achieved by “offloading” periodically to a friend over a couple of glasses of wine.

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