Letters: Elm Park, police foot patrols, Hilldene toilets and a KGH meeting

Elm Park in Bloom

Elm Park in Bloom - Credit: Stephanie Nunn

Reasons to be cheerful in Elm Park

Hornchurch and District Historical Society, Cllrs Stephanie Nunn and Barry Mugglestone, Hornchurch Residents’ Association, Elm Park ward, write:
A book should not be judged by its cover and Elm Park most certainly should not be judged purely on its takeaways.

In response to Adalaine Manning’s letter last week saying Elm Park has too many takeaways, many high streets have changed losing traditional retailers, not only Elm Park. We still have independent shops and we have a variety of restaurants and cafes which have had to become takeaways to survive the pandemic.

We were sad to see Webbs and the Hobby Shop close, but business owners have the right to choose when they want to retire as well as shop owners have the right to choose who they lease their premises to. It is not the councillors’ decision. 

In Elm Park we are very fortunate in having Bretons Manor, Hornchurch Country Park, Harrow Lodge Park and The Chase to walk and exercise in.  We have archery, football, dancing and aerobics and a brand new sports centre in Harrow Lodge Park complete with swimming pool too.

Elm Park is a wonderful community with many groups: Elm Park Horticultural Guild, Elm Park Regeneration, The Tennis Club, The Royal British Legion, St Nicholas Church, St Albans Church, the Baptist Church and many clubs for young people.  

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All these organisations and volunteers work together for the community.

The Elm Park London in Bloom Committee also works with these groups and with Havering Council’s help have won Gold Awards for the last two years.

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Residents have told us Elm Park has never looked so tidy. In 2018 Elm Park celebrated 80 years as a garden city. We also help with the Christmas Lights event each year which is organised by a small group and sponsored by local businesses and fund raising.  

We are very proud of Elm Park, its residents, businesses and volunteers and are privileged to have represented residents here. 

More police on foot patrol will make people feel safer

Michael J Frost, Peartree Gardens, Romford, writes:
If ever a government made a mistake, it was to take the “Bobby” off foot patrol and put him in a car. 

In one fell swoop communities became more susceptible to crime and faith in the police force diminished. The very act of turning a street corner and encountering a uniformed officer instilled in the local population a feeling of safety and also acted as a deterrent to antisocial behaviour.

Modern policing is more reactive rather than proactive, and this needs to be addressed. 

My suggestion may seem to be a retrograde step, but citizens’ safety should be the priority. 

No doubt government will argue that the costs will be prohibitive to achieve such a goal, but those costs could be balanced by cancelling some of the vainglorious overseas projects in which we involve ourselves with so little reward or thanks!

Hilldene toilets were ghastly

William Swain, retired community leader, Barnstaple Road, Harold Hill, writes:
I usually agree and support Mr Ainsworth’s insightful view and opinions on local issues, but on the vexed question of automated public toilets I must disagree.

I cannot comment on the public toilet facilities in other parts of the borough, but I’m sure that Mr Ainsworth would agree that the heavily vandalised public convenience in the Hilldene Shopping Centre had become a dreadful eyesore. 

It was constantly out of order and was a gathering point for local drug addicts, drunkards and degenerates of all shapes and sizes. 

However, I do agree that the proposed community toilet scheme using retailers is a ridiculous concept and a total non-starter.

I must confess that I’m very pleased that Havering Council have at long last removed that ghastly public lavatory in the Hilldene Shopping Centre - so congratulations and many thanks to Cllr Damian White.

Perhaps a temporary solution to the public toilet arrangements would be to make available to the public (and public transport workers) the toileting facilities in the old Harold Hill library building? 

There would, of course, have to be a small charge level to cover running costs and maintenance etc, but it could prove very profitable for Havering Council.

In conclusion, I would advise that I have spoken to local supermarket staff and they have assured me that they would not refuse customers access to toileting facilities in an emergency. 

Ron was an asset to Tithe Barn 

Peter M Butler, ex-president and general secretary (1980/2007), Hornchurch and District Historical Society, writes:
I wish to just write a short appraisal of Ron Miller, whom I knew as a steward at the Upminster Tithe Barn Museum in Hall Lane, for several years.

A most cheerful gentleman and absolute asset to the Barn Museum showing the public, in his modest way, the pieces of history mainly of the former days in this area - farming! Sometimes bringing his wife along.

As I was in charge of many of the open days, all in all he was very helpful to myself and the other stewards.

I am glad he made his centenary, he deserved such longevity.

Meeting to discuss new King George Hospital wing

Bob Archer (Redbridge Trade Union Council), Cllr Nic Dodin (Havering), Andy Walker (TUSC) and Rosemary Warrington (Green Party), write: 
Politics is about the competition between ideas on how best to organise our country. These differences need to be set aside sometimes when a common cause is required. 

The campaign for a new wing for new King George Hospital is such an example.

The management of King George and Queen’s hospitals says our hospitals are 90 beds short. We say a new wing at King George is the obvious location for these. 

Maternity also needs to come back to King George, plus we need extra bed capacity for a growing east London population. 
Readers might like to attend our zoom meeting on the March 27, at 3pm - the meeting ID is 848 8531 2123 with a passcode of 89875 - to discuss how we can drive our campaign forward.

All RAs are independent

Terence F Matthews LL B (Hons) RA member, Clement Way, Upminster (Hornchurch Hacton Ward), writes: 
Havering Council is increasing Council Tax by 4.5 per cent, over four times the rate of inflation. 

That is bad enough but the London mayor has increased  the GLA amount by 9.5 per cent or over nine times more than inflation. 

At this time raising local taxes cannot be justified. What a disgrace when the mayor is wasting money on such things as a commission to investigate statues and street names to ensure the people they commemorate were not involved in the slave trade. 

When will these people realise that it was England that stopped this vile trade, with the loss of over 20,000 sailors lives?

How about a bit of praise for the government of the day and our brave sailors, instead of continuously pouring bile on their names?

Mr Ramsey and his constant obtuse call for residents associations to consult with residents does not seem to call for such consultation in Tory and Labour held wards. 

Any resident can contact his or her RA councillor at any time to give their views. 

To run a consultation with over 22,000 individual members in four Hornchurch wards would cost a lot of money and as I have found, would result in showing a large for and a large anti vote. 

You cannot just consult members, all ward residents would have to be consulted and the best way to do this is, as I have said, is to contact your councillor. 

Decisions have to be made by the RA group at the town hall and association EC members for non group matters. 

Mr Ramsey also seems to know little about the RA movement in Havering.

All associations are independent and look after the wellbeing of their residents. 

The HRA is an association set up many years ago so that various local associations could consult on matters applying to all their areas and to decide how to oppose those matters detrimental to their residents and support those matters that were good for their residents.

However; I cannot support the RA council group in their decision not to produce a budget on the grounds of extra costs to the council. 

Can it be that the councillors concerned do not have any ideas on how to improve the administration’s budget? 

Most officers, if not all, dealing with the yearly budget, were working from home and could have produced an RA alternative budget, with no extra cost in wages or other expenses. 

The leader of the opposition gets no brownie points on this issue.

Grenfell tragedy not about carbon footprint

David Hughes, media officer, Barking Dagenham and Havering Green Party, writes:
Cllr Durant, Recorder Opinions, March 5, makes a rather flippant observation regarding the Dovers Corner development that removing all windows, not just bathroom windows, would further reduce the carbon footprint of the building.

Of course, building design, insulation, renewable energy sources, triple glazing, and other systems all play a role in maximizing a building’s efficiency and reducing its carbon footprint and all have an impact on initial costs.

Those costs are, of course, recouped in the following years through energy saving, but developers aren’t interested in that, they are only interested in the highest short term profits, hence the need for legislation.

With species extinctions every day, alarming decline in others, man-made or human induced (coronavirus, BSE for example) illnesses, erratic and unprecedented climate events and the findings and testaments of experts, other than some sponsored by the petrochemical industry, all attest to the damage incurred by some human activity and the fast approaching point of no return.

In the face of overwhelming evidence Cllr Durant still persists with his climate change-denying beliefs.

But in the same way as the opinions of flat Earthers are no longer taken seriously, the erroneous beliefs of climate change deniers are also being consigned to the same irrational and eccentric fringe.

But Cllr Durant is, of course, entitled to avoid any critical thinking and inhabit his own belief system.

Where I take issue with Cllr Durant is when he states that the Grenfell Tower tragedy was as a result of trying to reduce the carbon footprint of the building.

That is false and a lie and the type of invalid argument he has learnt from the conspiracy websites from which he derives most of his misinformation. I’d respectfully ask Cllr Durant to keep his arguments focused on the facts and those responsible for the deaths and not his silly conspiracy theories.

The Grenfell Tower tragedy was as a result of a Tory administration making a saving of £130,000 on cheaper, inappropriate and clearly incorrectly specified cladding on the building.

It’s quite simple. Whatever the purpose of the cladding, you simply don’t put material that can burn on the outside of high rise buildings. Never.

Westminster Council did and 72 people paid the price.

That’s just under a £2,000 saving per fatality on the cladding. That short-termism of Tory ideology is going to cost millions to put right.

Not unlike the short-termism of “herd immunity” and “take it on the chin” (unlike the East Asians and Antipodeans) for the sake of the economy. That same short-termism will cost 200,000 avoidable deaths.

Parking in a bay? Check restrictions

Councillor Ron Ower, Derham Gardens, Upminster, writes: 
A number of roads locally have white marked bays where it is possible to part park on the pavement.

These have been introduced over the years following requests from residents.

We have pointed out several times before, please note if these bays are in a parking restricted area eg where it is not permissible to park from 8am to 9.30am or 8am to 6pm Monday to Saturday etc.

The parking restrictions still cover these bays. The council will and do issue parking tickets.

Please pass this information onto friends relatives etc if they are visiting you.

Be clear if you are not religious

Paul Kaufman, chair, East London Humanists, writes:
Census 21 is a once in a decade opportunity. The information collected helps set government policy for the next 10 years. 

It is therefore important to make sure the information provided is accurate.

This is particularly important for those of us who are not religious. According to the British Social Attitudes Survey we make up around two fifths of Londoners and over half the UK’s population. 

Unfortunately the question in the census, “What is your religion”, leads many to say they have a religion even though they don’t have any meaningful belief in it. For example, it might just be the religion they were brought up in.

The same misleading question in the last census cut in half the results of the more accurate British Social Attitudes Survey. 

This is important. Underestimating the numbers of non-religious leads to under-allocation in education, health, social care and pastoral care. 

It is used to justify outdated provisions such as compulsory Christian worship in state schools and the automatic right of unelected bishops to vote on our laws in Parliament.

It is therefore important that anyone who is not religious in any meaningful sense ticks the “no religion” box.

Why was shielding letter signed by leader?

Thomas Clarke, Liberal Democrat GLA Candidate for Havering and Redbridge, writes:
A member of my household was surprised to receive a letter from the council telling them that they had to shield due to them being clinically vulnerable. 

They had already been made aware of this having had the NHS write to them recently. 

I was shocked to see that the council letter was signed from the leader of the council, Damian White. 

Why did the leader of the council think it was necessary to have the letter come addressed from him? 

Well it did have some useful and clear information within it - including details of how to sign up to postal voting for the May elections. 

This is clearly a ploy to try and get some good headlines for his party and himself by using council documents, and therefore funds, to do so.

I wonder, will he also be putting his name to council tax bills, planning applications and all other council communications in the future?

Brentwood slogan a waste of money

Doug Brown, Coram Green, Brentwood, writes:
All round the CM13 area on bus stops and lampposts are Brentwood Council flyers ‘Don’t be a tosser’ to imply to car drivers throwing litter out of their vehicles is dangerous.

Obviously these council bureaucrats have not consulted the Collins Dictionary to find the meaning of the word ‘tosser’. 

These same tossers know how to waste council and business tax on slogans like this as well as spending £30million on the town hall for it to remain closed since March 2020 and taking full advantage of furlough by working from home and keeping the High Street toilets closed on a Sunday to keep shoppers away.
If the council own it and the public want to use it then lock it.

Travel safety concerns from all genders

Emma Gibson, director, London TravelWatch, writes:
Our recent research with Londoners showed that concerns about personal safety while moving around the capital are heightened at the moment. 

We picked up these concerns from all genders, but particularly among younger people who wanted to see more visible staff and police presence on transport, to tackle anti-social behaviour. 

We also picked up a higher level of worry among BAME people about their health and well-being when they are travelling to and from work. 

With 60 per cent of key workers being women, it’s particularly important that transport operators listen and respond to the concerns of the people who are having to travel at the moment. 

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