Recorder letters: Gidea Park Library, Napier and New Plymouth estate, Freedom Pass, police’s unhappy lot, and more

Gidea Park Library. Picture: Ken Mears

Gidea Park Library. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Letters sent in from Recorder readers this week

Special mention for our library staff

Mr P Lott, Westmoreland Avenue, Hornchurch, writes:

During the pandemic, everyone has been praising our emergency services.

Quite rightly so, but I think our public services here in Havering have performed exceptionally well, despite severe budget cuts leading to a much reduced workforce.

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I finally went into my local library at Gidea Park recently and the staff there were very professional in carrying out the necessary arrangements to counter the virus such as contact details, hand and book sanitising and social distancing etc.

They were also very helpful with my enquiries and I think they deserve a special mention.

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Well done.

Admit the reality and hope housing market improves

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

If the reasons for the council to invest a further £20m in the Napier and New Plymouth redevelopment were really down to a damaged housing market then it certainly isn’t a win-win (Council set to take over big homes project, Recorder August 8).

The whole reason for a joint venture instead of a sole council development was to minimise our exposure because a) the council doesn’t have the money without borrowing and b) in case there were a ‘black swan’ event that threatens its financial viability.

Although that event has occurred ie Covid-19, and created more problems in terms of construction work and the housing market in general, why would we increase our exposure by giving Wates a way out?

I would suggest that the real reason is that Wates Residential now believe the development was not going to give an adequate return and certainly not a profit for six years at a time when it has had to make 300 people redundant.

If the council didn’t step in the scheme would have faltered.

Instead of spinning a very awkward situation the council should have admitted the reality and hope that the so-called damaged housing market will improve because if not the development will end up being a very expensive project indeed.

Allow Freedom Pass before 7am

Kim Redding,Carnforth Gardens, Hornchurch, writes:

I am writing in response to Peter Maddy regarding the use of the Freedom Pass before 9am. I totally agree with him.

I travel to Brentwood most mornings at about 6am and am unable to use my Freedom Pass. At that time of the morning I am sometimes the only one on the bus.

Would it not be better to restrict its use to between say 7am and 9am when a lot more people are using public transport?

Be careful what you wish for

Chris Hobbs, retired Metropolitan Police officer, full address supplied, writes:

It could well be argued that a police officer’s lot has never been such an unhappy one.

Throughout the Covid-19 crisis they’ve have been spat at, coughed upon, bitten and accused of being over-zealous despite each force issuing an average of just seven penalty tickets a day.

They were then vilified for not being firm enough when dealing with Black Lives Matter protests and continually criticised for being ‘soft’ when responding to so called ‘block’ parties.

After a brief interlude when they were hailed as heroes following their response to manic, deadly knife attacks at Reading and Glasgow the pendulum has swung back as the Met and indeed the entire British police service has been ‘collectively smeared’ as being racist, following contentious, filmed ‘stops’ in London.

Activists who criticise police conveniently ignore the fact that officers will respond on ‘blues and twos’ to deadly knife and gun attacks not knowing whether, on arrival, they will be confronted by a murderous criminal or a person or persons needing urgent, life-saving treatment.

Those critics, who label police as racist, should perhaps ask themselves how many lives have been saved by their arrival at horrific scenes before paramedics and administering that vital first aid, or how many lives have been spared by taking deadly knives and guns from the streets or how many lives have been turned around by police interventions at incidents involving those with suicidal mental health issues.

Activists calling for the defunding and abolition of police may wish to ponder the following - ‘Be careful what you wish for’.

More masks = fewer cases

Ian Pirie, Bridge Avenue, Upminster, writes:

Councillor David Durant has excelled himself in his latest incredible statement that masks are of no use to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Yes, of course the virus is microscopic - but it has to be carried by something, and that is droplets of moisture.

All over the world people are wearing masks to prevent the spread of the virus, and wherever more masks are worn there are fewer cases.

What should frighten Cllr Durant is that if he is right, and the viruses float around on their own in the air, then we all need to be wearing the most sophisticated medical masks to filter them out.

Perhaps he should inform the scientists who are advising the government that they are missing a trick: that’s why the virus is still around. PPE for all of us please!

Apologise for insulting faux pas

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

Cllr Jason Frost’s letter to the Recorder (August 7), quotes me as saying “freedom to die”, but this never appeared in my previous week’s letter he was referring to, and falsely accuses me of urging people to ignore the inhumane corona guidelines, which he describes as criminally irresponsible.

Except I don’t, but I do follow the science and doubt the efficacy of mandatory masks and social distancing rules being promoted by the prime minister for political rather than medical reasons, making the cure worse than the disease. For more information web search Dr John Lee.

I appreciate Cllr Frost has a habit of speaking before thinking, but a letter to the papers requires some thought and to say a former chairman of the Crime & Disorder committee, elected by acclamation in 2014, is being criminally irresponsible is defamatory and he should withdraw it.

I have therefore asked the Monitoring Officer to contact Cllr Frost to seek clarification whether his letter was an accurate reading of his views and if so ask him to honourably apologise for another insulting faux pas, contrary to the Code of Conduct.

Is it any wonder we feel betrayed?

Eamonn Mahon, Sheila Road, Romford, writes:

In response to my letter (Over 75s betrayed on TV licence) July 24, the only thing the Romford MP Andrew Rosindell seems to have understood is my frustration, disappointment and outrage regarding the shameless and heartless Tory broken 2017 manifesto pledge to retain the free TV licence for our pensioners over 75 years.

I’m amazed how this MP seems so at ease by the way the lifeline has been snatched (August 1) away from them. Is it any wonder our pensioners feel betrayed?

It has been well documented over the years in the Romford Recorder how he played a prominent part in trying to get rid of the Freedom Pass and the winter fuel allowance for our elderly.

I now believe the Romford MP would be more gainfully employed in encouraging his “hero” PM Johnson to immediately hold a public enquiry into his performance regarding the coronavirus, where he has presided over possibly the highest death rate in Europe to date and the fear of another spike on the way.

Councils facing £1.4bn shortfall

Cllr Peter John OBE, chairman of London Councils, writes:

Boroughs have played a crucial role in London’s response to Covid-19.

We’re proud that we helped more than 5,000 rough sleepers into emergency accommodation, delivered more than 80,000 food parcels to vulnerable residents, and secured millions of items of PPE for use in our local communities. All this work has been essential for keeping Londoners safe and slowing the spread of the virus.

However, the pandemic has played havoc with our finances.

In March the government assured councils that it would do ‘whatever is necessary’ to support our efforts to help residents and businesses through the pandemic.

But the extra money provided so far is not nearly enough to cover our costs. Boroughs are instead left facing a massive £1.4billion shortfall.

We’re extremely concerned about the implications for London’s local services, which so many Londoners rely on, and the capital’s post-pandemic recovery.

The government must move quicker to stabilise council finances and to commit to long-term sustainable funding for the sector as part of its upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.

MoD should be fair to our forces

Sam Elsby, president, Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), writes:

Compensation claims by armed forces personnel and families for needless injuries and deaths are desperately important, not only to help put shattered lives back on track, but also to make the job safer for others.

The unsuitability of vehicles used during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, would never have come to light had it not been for legal action taken by bereaved relatives.

But the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is now saying its responsibility for paying compensation to service personnel injured overseas should end after six years.

When someone is injured or killed there is usually a three-year time limit to start a legal claim for redress. After this time, a judge has the power to decide whether a case should go ahead.

The MoD’s Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill would apply a finite deadline of six years for claims for a negligent death or injury of a member of the armed forces. No judges. No exceptions.

There are numerous valid reasons why injured personnel and veterans wait to make claims, including poor mental health and fear of taking on the MoD while still in service.

You would think the government would at least be fair towards brave forces members and their families.

NHS facing one of toughest winters

Dr Gary Marlowe, chairman, BMA London Regional Council, writes:

NHS services across London will be preparing to face what will undoubtedly be one of the toughest winters in the history of our health service.

Come the winter our NHS will need to tackle a backlog of care, treat Covid patients, deal with the seasonal flu and prepare for further local or national outbreaks of coronavirus.

Empowering local councils to close shops, outdoor events and public spaces, while long overdue, is entirely necessary to help reduce the spread of the virus and keep the pressure off the NHS.

Though it is crucial that this is underpinned with adequate resources, clear local data shared with local Public Health bodies, and a well-managed test, track and trace system. So far, the government’s record in all these areas has not been good.

It is also crucial that any positive result is returned within 48 hours and that the result is communicated to the patient’s GP as well as the local authorities, to ensure swift action can be taken and any local flare-ups prevented.

What’s more, to help our health services cope with the huge demands that still lie ahead and to avoid a second Covid-19 spike this winter, every one of us must make prevention our priority.

New rules mean face coverings are now mandatory in shops as well as on public transport; however, the BMA believes face coverings should be worn in all situations where it is not possible to be more than two metres apart – even if not mandated by government.

Shops and businesses must also lead by example by ensuring physical distancing is adhered to and by encouraging staff and employees to wear face coverings.

Ultimately, we all have a responsibility to do what we can to minimise the spread of Covid to help protect ourselves, each other and the NHS.

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