Recorder letters: Dagnam Park football pitches, parking spaces, Upminster Pitch and Putt, memories of Collier Row childhood, RA facts, local cinema, borough’s heritage and crime rates in Upminster.

Upminster Pitch and Putt, Hall Lane, Upminster. Picture: Google Maps

Upminster Pitch and Putt, Hall Lane, Upminster. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Google Maps

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

Green spaces create lifelong memories

Thomas Clarke, membership development officer, Havering Liberal Democrats, writes:

I must have been nine when I first played a golf shot. I went to Upminster’s Hall Lane Miniature Golf Course with my father and a couple of my brothers and hacked my way around the place – my dad trying to give out golfing advice at the same time as making sure we didn’t kill each other or other golfers enjoying the course.

From that moment I have been hooked on golf and sport – so much that I have worked for Golf Monthly magazine for the past decade and been able to take my lack of golfing ability all around the world – even being fortunate enough to play Augusta National last year.


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I was then upset to see the news on Tuesday that the very same golf course at Hall Lane looks set to have some 48 homes built on its once luscious fairways.

I had known that the once superb course had fallen into disrepair ever since the council sold it off at the end of the 1990s – and it appears with no appetite from the council to keep this course running they are looking to make a quick buck instead.

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Unfortunately this is not the only example of the community losing a once popular sport facility.

There used to be several fantastic pitch and putt courses in the area including at Haynes Park and Harold Wood Park, all now long gone with easy to manage nature areas now in their place.

I am aware of the need for housing in the area, but we

cannot forget the role our green spaces play in influencing the younger generations and creating lifelong happy memories – like the ones I have – they can inspire people more than we can ever realise.

Football pitches at Dagnam Park were waste of money

Dennis Cook, Dagnam Park Drive, Romford, writes:

I am writing in response to the article on page 7 of last week’s Recorder headed “Football pitches written off due to lack of use”.

I first started watching football regularly in Dagnam Park (also known as The Manor) in 1956 after I had finished my National Service.

At that time there were two senior and five junior pitches. The changing facilities were provided by a small cricket pavilion for the seniors and two wooden huts for the juniors.

On Sunday mornings, when most of the matches took place, both senior pitches were in regular use, although they were muddy at times during the winter.

After the various cutbacks of the 80s (the Thatcher era) I started to watch football played on the two pitches in nearby Central Park.

I continued to do so up until the Water Board took over the pitches to carry out flood control work, promising to re-instate the football pitches in a better condition, a promise that was never kept. And football has never been played regularly there since.

The only regular football being played after that was played on the two pitches adjacent to the Albermarle Youth Centre, up until the council sold part of Central Park and the youth centre to build houses.

At that time I wrote to Sports England protesting that it was against government policy to sell off recreational land. In order to obtain planning permission the council promised to provide new pitches, resulting in The Friends of Dagnam Park being consulted about providing four new football pitches in The Manor. The Friends of Dagnam Park responded that, whilst not opposing the football pitches, the lack of changing facilities and parking would have consequences for the local residents. The council did not respond.

Four or five years ago landscaping and drainage work started work in The Manor. When completed there were two junior football pitches that, at a stretch, could have been used by senior teams.

Once the pitches were seeded they did, in my opinion, provide playing conditions as good as any that had ever been there in the past. However, just as had been forseen by The Friends of Dagnam Park, the lack of parking and changing facilities caused problems.

The figure you quoted of £100,000 spent on landscaping and installing the football pitches was a very conservative estimate, it was probably much more and, as changing facilities were not taken into account, this would appear to be a total waste of money.

Why we need parking spaces

D Ainsworth, Barnstaple Road, Romford, writes:

Parking’s been a Readers’ Letters issue for some weeks.

I was at three Streetcare meetings, and have minutes proving it, where parking initiatives were promised. The only parking proposals many saw was to witness two “hatchet men” visiting areas to reduce such spaces.

Particularly at junctions where double yellow lines have been extended far beyond what’s necssary to ensure good visibility and often where local residents can’t remember any accidents for decades.

Four years ago LBH’s housing department announced a major initiative to provide more parking spaces in municiple housing areas, and an officer named as its project leader.

He was near impossible to contact and, when eventually sighted, had the same response for all suggestions, to wit, “I haven’t got the budget.”

He left that position, and then LBH, and in reponse to a written question I’d submitted to the council’s then housing conference, was told no extra parking spaces had resulted from that initiative.

Reducing parking spaces and approving new housing developments with insufficient parking provision for vehicles only boosts revenue from penalties.

Local shopping parades are the lifeblood of an area, yet so many are in decline owing to parking restrictions and a lack of will to address this issue.

Both former and potential customers are literally driven to use superstores as parking is free and plentiful.

My late father managed a chemist shop on a small Harold Hill shopping parade, and if he knew what’s happening now at such sites, his ashes would be spinning in their urn.

Memories of Collier Row childhood

Paul Garrod, full address supplied, writes:

I was reflecting, as you do when you get older, about the fun and adventures I had as a youngster living in Linley Crescent, Collier Row in the 50s and 60s.

In particular I recall the fields adjacent to a playground and playing fields - bordered by A12 and Mawney Road. This sums up my fond memories:

Long summer days in nearby fields,

Laying in the grass - staring up at an azure sky.

A hovering skylark sings its heart out,

No traffic noise to stifle this delight.

Old air-raid shelters become secret hideaways,

The local river Rom becomes the Amazon.

School summer holidays lasted forever,

Endless days with no cares in the world.

Denis, get your RA facts right

Terence F Matthews LL B (Hons), Clement Way, Upminster, writes:

Cllr Denis O’Flynn seems to have difficulty in remembering things that happened in the past.

I left the Labour Party over 12 years ago because of the way the party was moving politically. I have been a member of the Hornchurch RA for over 39 years.

Members who are not officers or EC members can belong to a political party.

He forgets I am married to an ex-RA councillor of 32 years who I supported and hopefully Denis, your wife supports you.

Readers, in the main, will not have a clue who Len Long was, just as other things Denis in his RA bashing mentioned.

Maybe Denis can produce any letter or email from me that calls the RA Tories? He will have a hard job finding one as I never have.

Many of the attacks he makes are so far back in the past as to be irrelevant to today’s situation.

Like all his party political pals he states that RA councillors prop up the Tories but they must be doing something right as the Tories state that the RA support Labour.

The truth is that they are both frightened that the RA will take over. RA councillors are independent and vote in the way their conscience dictates.

They form a group in council as if they did not, they would not be allowed to sit on committees.

Each RA group in Havering is independent of all others and none of them can be tarred with the same brush, as Denis tries to do.

In 2018 I tried my best, at my own expense, to warn residents about rogue RA candidates in three wards but although their vote was down they still managed to get elected. Councillors in one RA group betrayed their voters for the second time but I think they have shot themselves in the foot this time.

Denis, please admit that the Hornchurch Residents Association has never propped up the Tories in modern times, and note that all but one of their councillors have never served as a HXRA councillor during the periods he mentions, with three being elected in May 2019.

If he wants to make references to the RA; point his comments at those who may have actually done what he alleges.

The Labour Party, even if it meant bringing the Tories down, would not join with any RA group, so stop moaning about the fact we have a minority Tory administration and do what a HXRA councillor does, work hard for their residents, with no high allowances.

Cinema: Stick to local independents

A Hornchurch resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

It’s a great shame that the large cinema chain still continues to mislead customers at Romford shopping centre.

As you travel up the travelator in the brewery it still advertises super Monday tickets only £3.99.

However, I was advised by the cinema chain staff that this offer is no longer running.

I decided to query with Vue on twitter and received conflicting responses. Therefore I contacted the company’s CEO who did not reply for nearly three weeks. The response was that they have no control over advertising.

It just proves stick to the local independent cinema instead of trusting big chains.

We must defend borough heritage

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

The impressive entrance to the Rainham Jewish Cemetery in Upminster Road North was demolished to make way for a larger entrance.

This was an act of cultural vandalism by the Federation of Synagogues undertaken without informing the council or local councillors and residents of their plans.

I was told the archway, erected in 1938, had been demolished rather than dismantled, and the damaged antique gates by prestigious Wainwrights and Waring sent for scrap somewhere up north and couldn’t be retrieved (Recorder February 22).

The Federation of Synagogues said the entrance was widened because following a land sale, their other entrance in Upminster Road North was no longer available, but they still had an entrance in Launders Lane and was it really necessary to create a two-way main entrance rather than install a give way sign to regulate traffic?

There should have been a proper discussion about this with planning and highway officers and councillors before the historic entrance was demolished.

For example, would moving the width restriction outside the main entrance a short distance have helped matters?

It’s an outrage but they were free to do so without planning permission because the archway and gates weren’t Listed, but it shows why the council needs to be pro-active in defending our local heritage in the face of housing targets and other developments.

We need the appointment of a heritage officer to work with councillors and residents to get things Listed throughout the borough before they suddenly disappear overnight without warning.

Crime rates low in Upminster area

Cllrs Linda Hawthorn, Ron Ower and Chris Wilkins, Upminster & Cranham Residents Association, write:

We have been lobbying various organisations/MPs to address concerns raised by local residents regarding crime locally.

This has included meeting the local MP and contacting the borough police commander responsible for Havering.

Also we have met with the Greater London Assembly (GLA) member, who represents both Upminster and Cranham wards.

Both the GLA member and the police were very supportive and were committed to reducing crime in both wards. The police have confirmed they are working with the Safer Transport Command (STC) and the British Transport Police (BTP) to ensure there is visible and effective policing on the bus routes, train lines and at the station.

The police have been reviewing crime statistics and have reported there has been a reduction in burglaries in Upminster and Cranham and the crime rates in both wards remain low against the rest of London.

However, they reported seeing an increase in robberies particularly involving children and young adults. In response they are working on a number of plans to tackle and reduce these serious crimes.

We will continue to lobbying the relevant agencies to put pressure on them so the police provide adequate resources in both our area.

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