Letters: Threat to Harold Hill deer, and TV licence fee for over-75s

The deer in Dagnam Park Reserve.

The deer in Dagnam Park Reserve. - Credit: Jan Sargent

We will fight to protect land for deer

A Romford resident, full name and address supplied, writes:
Oh deer! Once again, Havering takes the surgeon’s knife to Harold Hill. 

It seems enough is NOT enough when it comes to the removal of much loved and used green space which has been a blessing to so many over the last year. It seems bursting-at-the-seams doctors’ surgeries are, in fact, not bursting at the seams and it seems, the deer population has a low cash value. 

That value is packaged up as a very important parcel of land off Priory Road and a pivotal crossing point for the many wild stags and does who use it to access from the Manor to the fields around Harold Hill, driving a diversity of wildlife that is enjoyed by all residents and visitors.  

One only has to stop in the area to see the many cars slow down to take a look at the majestic stags, the smile they bring and the history they remind us of. And it is that very history that is under attack; while the beasts might not have a voice we, the residents of Harold Hill, do!  

For hundreds of years the deer have roamed this Hill, with a freedom that has seen wild beasts and residents of Harold Hill live, happily, side by side. It is a freedom that must be protected and fought for.   

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What can Deer Aid do to save land?

Cllr David Durant, Rainham and Wennington Independent Residents Group, writes:
Emergencies are used as cover to break the rules, with planning law now being de facto ignored to meet housing targets. 

This is why the planning committee approval to build in Priory Road, Harold Hill was really a political rather than planning decision, because the land has protected status as recreational land and can’t simply be built on to meet housing targets! 

But if the planners and committee ignore this what can local councillor Jan Sargent, Harold Hill Deer Aid and residents do to save the land? 
Well as it’s a council application, the council leader can order a review as the application only offered some improved access to Dagnam Park as compensation. 

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This isn’t enough, as there is already funding available from other developments to improve Dagnam Park and as it’s a council scheme it can be politically contested by councillors without going to the high court. 

However, this will require the Harold Wood/Hill/Park Residents Association councillors to show they vote to keep the Conservatives in power in order to “put their local area first” and not just for financial reasons with well paid committee chairmanships.

BBC could have programmes sponsored rather than charge over-75s for licence

Cllr Ron Ower, Derham Gardens, Upminster, writes: 
Last year the news that the BBC was taking away free TV Licences for the over 75s went down like a lead balloon.

It is estimated that around three million over the age of 75 years will now have to pay!

Havering has one of the largest groups of over 75s in the country so many will have to cough up for the fee currently at £157.50.

A report in the national press quoted that the BBC would need much more than this for a subscription service .

This comes at a time when there is now a whole host of companies offering subscription services for a wide range of films, sports, news channels etc.

I would be the first to acknowledge that the BBC has produced some excellent programmes.

A number of the documentaries have been excellent and whilst I would not want to see the BBC taken over by commercial advertising surely now is the time to look at their finances?

Programmes could be sponsored?

Pull together for good of the UK

L Cannon, Romford, full address supplied, writes:
In reply to Mr Sanderson’s letter last week, I stand corrected in that the first Referendum was held in 1975 (not 1974 as I had previously put). 

Like Mr Sanderson, I too remember that my dad was interested in what was going on in the world, in the 50s, after having fought in WW2. I have to admit I had never heard of the Conservative Party until I was older. 
Living in a staunchly Labour area, they were never mentioned in our house. 

I wasn’t questioning his depth of knowledge and experiences, I was picking up on the quotes that were made at the time of the 2016 Referendum regarding the EU having kept the peace in Europe. 

Mr Sanderson mentions the Suez Crisis, and the humiliation of the UK and France, being the reason to seek membership of the Common Market. That may be so, but that was in 1956. 

It was the United Nations that had been set up in 1945, plus NATO that was set up in 1949, to keep the hard-won peace in Europe, plus any future threat from Russia, that has kept the peace in Europe, and further. 

As for the propaganda, and using the term “faceless bureaucrats”, I realise, like our own Parliament, that much of the work is done by the equivalent of our civil servants, but I was referring to those on the council. 

How many members were household names, previous to Mr Van Rompuy, and Tusk, and the present members of today, who can be counted on one hand? 

With the UK Parliament, we, the people, have the opportunity to vote out the party in government after four years, if we think they’re not doing a good job. 

But with the EU, as an example, Ms Von Der Leyen (who had previously been a disaster as defence minister in Germany) wasn’t actually elected by the council to be president of the EU in 2019. How did she get that position? 

And as I said, there is no mechanism in place whereby she can be sacked (and she’s in her job until 2024).

Also, despite the mess Miss Von Der Leyen has made, it has recently been stated that all 13,000 of the EU staff are to be vaccinated, when many of the countries are still really struggling to get on top of Covid, and to get vaccines for their own people. 

The crux of my previous letter was meant to be, that it’s a shame that some who voted Remain, still can’t seem to accept that we have left the EU. 

Whatever anyone’s views are now, rightly or wrongly, there’ll be no going back, because we will be punished even more than they are trying to do now.

So we really need to all pull together to do the best for the United Kingdom.

Mask in class will affect deaf pupils

Ian Noon, the head of policy, National Deaf Children’s Society, writes:
With England’s 35,000 deaf pupils close to a return to education, the goalposts on face masks have moved yet again. 

Public health must take priority, but bringing face masks into classrooms will have a devastating effect on deaf children’s studies, mental health and ability to take part in lessons.

The government cannot make an announcement and expect this to be enough. 

It must move quickly to show exactly how it will guarantee deaf children can still access their lessons.

We cannot have a situation where thousands of deaf children and young people are unable to understand their teacher, leaving many with little point in even attending class.

The future of their education is at stake and the clock has already started.

Keep the uplift in Universal Credit 

Dr Alison Moore, Londonwide Assembly member, writes: 
The chancellor must use his Budget announcement on March 3 to keep the £20 weekly uplift in Universal Credit payments. This has been a lifeline to the most vulnerable in our community and the many thousands of Londoners who have lost their livelihoods during this pandemic.

This is the very least the government can do to keep countless households from falling into poverty. Even with the extra £20, Universal Credit claimants are struggling to make ends meet.

A recent study conducted by the Welfare at a Social Distance project has revealed that a significant number of new claimants have been unable to eat regularly or healthily, pay bills or put away a modest amount of money each month.

Too many Londoners on low incomes are becoming trapped in cycle of economic insecurity by a welfare system that has been ground down over the last 10 years.

During this prolonged national crisis, we must see ministers repair our safety net by also increasing Statutory Sick Pay so it is line with the London Living Wage, boosting Local Housing Allowance so it covers average rents and scrapping the five week wait and two child limit on Universal Credit payments.

Help save Union Learning Fund

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw, general secretary, writes: 
Let’s stop the government scrapping the Union Learning Fund in England at the end of March.

This unique scheme provides lifelong learning in many local workplaces, bringing together employers, education providers and trade unions to give workers a second chance at learning by contributing time, money and resources.

Learning and re-skilling will be core to helping us recover from the impact of Covid-19 and dealing with the changing world of work because of automation. 

While we welcome the government’s plans to invest £2.5billion through the National Skills Fund, we are concerned about how effective that investment will be.

In our experience, union learning is uniquely able to engage and support thousands of “disadvantaged” learners. Most had few, if any, qualifications and would never have considered attending a college, or signing up for an on-line course, if it were not for the support and encouragement of Union Learning reps in the workplace. Union Learn reaches the workers other schemes do not.

The cost of gaining new skills shouldn’t be out of reach for low paid key workers. We are asking the chancellor to recognise the value of union learning and provide the necessary £12m in the budget. I ask readers to support the campaign by signing the online TUC petition.

Diabetics should have Covid jab

Roz Rosenblatt, London head, Diabetes UK, writes: 
Diabetes UK is urging people with diabetes to take up the coronavirus vaccine when offered it.

People with diabetes have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they develop coronavirus. If you have diabetes, the best way to protect yourself against coronavirus is to avoid contact with the virus and get vaccinated.

The vaccines being offered are safe and will save lives, but if you have any concerns or would like more information, call Diabetes UK’s Helpline on 0345 123 2399 or visit diabetes.org.uk.

Share your story of neonatal care

Caroline Lee-Davey, chief executive, Bliss, writes: 
When Bliss was founded in 1979 by a group of parents in London, our objective as a charity was set out “to support the life of babies in distress at birth”, and since our foundation we have always sought to deliver this for all babies admitted to neonatal care, whether they were born prematurely or at full term.

Over the past 41 years our reach has grown and we now work with many neonatal units in London and across the UK. Having a baby in neonatal care can be incredibly distressing for families and Bliss offers emotional and practical support to empower families and equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to provide the best possible care to their baby, for however long they live and for however long their stay in neonatal care.

That is why we have launched Hidden Neonatal Journeys, our new campaign to raise awareness of the challenges faced by the parents of full term but sick babies. If you have had a neonatal experience with your full term baby and been supported by Bliss, we would love to hear from you.

Sharing stories like yours helps Bliss to reach more parents in your local area, shows them that they are not alone, and also means we can continually improve the care provided to families. Only with your support can Bliss continue to work to ensure every baby gets the best start in life for generations to come.

To find out more about the campaign visit bliss.org.uk/hiddenneonataljourneys

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