Recorder letters: Theatre, Poppy Appeal, Havering College and Westlands

Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch. Picture: Google

Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch. Picture: Google - Credit: Google

Letters sent in from Recorder readers last week.

‘Optimistic’ Queen’s Theatre is a credit

Cllr Stephanie Nunn, Elm Park Ward, writes:

How lucky we are to have Queen’s Theatre, the most optimistic theatre in London.

Three times now since March an outing to “Mad Science” with my grandson has been postponed. Never is it cancelled, always postponed with cheerful optimism in a most positive manner.

You may also want to watch:

Similarly with the pantomime, not cancelled but with the agreement of patrons, moved to next year.

Still live streaming and rehearsing, totally dedicated and enthusiastic staff, please consider supporting this cultural asset in Havering -

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Thanks for supporting lockdown Poppy Appeal and service

Cllr Barry Mugglestone, chairman, Elm Park RBL (Royal British Legion), writes:

Well what a year we have had and what an effect Covid has had on the Poppy Appeal and Remembrance Services this year.

At Elm Park RBL we had a closed service which had Covid compliant processes in place. It was a very sincere and different service at the Elm Park Branch this year. We had the privilege of having Colonel Mark Bryant the deputy lieutenant, attending to lay a wreath at the memorial with other members.

My thanks must go to all the committee members who made this service go ahead, special thanks to Gary Driscoll who provided appropriate ceremonial music this year with the running order exactly the same as what happens at the Cenotaph in central London. Gary, who served in the Royal Green Jackets was in attendance with his veteran colleagues.

After the service at the branch we were invited to attend an outdoor church service which was conducted by Rev Amanda and Father Tom and their team at Saint Nicholas church. This was the fourth outdoor church service the church has had this year with respect for the Services; the others were VE Day, VJ Day and Merchant Navy Day in September. We as a branch are very lucky that Amanda and Tom are our branch presidents as they do us proud.

We knew it was going to be hard to match our last year’s total of over £40,000 for the Poppy Appeal with the lack of footfall in and around Elm Park and the reduction in collectors and where they could collect.

One idea I came up with was a Wall of Remembrance where people could make a donation to the Poppy Appeal, write a message on a cross and we would attach it to the Wall by Elm Park station.

We weren’t sure how it would do, but thanks to the Romford Recorder who wrote a story on it, also a national newspaper who ran a story on it, the Wall was very successful for the Poppy Appeal with 229 crosses and over £1,500 raised for the appeal.

Thanks must go to Joanne White and the Poppy Team, all the collectors and the schools who this year worked extra hard raising funds for the appeal.

As I said it was going to be a hard task, but we did really well and so far have raised over £15,000 in Elm Park for the appeal this year.

So Covid did try and stop us remembering through the year and collecting for the Poppy Appeal, but you know what it didn’t win.

The Poppy Appeal goes on all through the year and we will be having more fundraising events when we back to a more normal life. So well done and sincere thanks to all involved.

Are you raising money for the appeal? If so please let us know about the event and how it goes.

College deserves our support

Thomas Clarke, Ardleigh Green Road, Liberal Democrat GLA candidate for Havering and Redbridge, writes:

Andrew Rosindell released details of a letter he says he sent to the residents of Ardleigh Green about Havering College where he states the following: “I am beginning to think that the college may have outlived the site in Ardleigh Green Road and perhaps should be relocated. What do people think about this?”. This is yet another attempt to prey on the fears of local residents.

Let me tell you my thoughts Mr Rosindell – I have lived on Ardleigh Green Road almost my entire 39 years of life, indeed I live directly opposite Havering College. The college has been home to the wonderful Stepping Stones nursery where my son and now my daughter attend. My brother is currently completing an electrical installation course at the college, and I have a friend who teaches there as well.

The road outside the college has always been a lively place, especially around midday, the students getting their lunch and acting as teenage students do, but supporting the local takeaways and shops who do a roaring trade. The majority of the pupils are good natured and just trying to get an education and enjoying this time of their lives.

However, there is no doubt that there are issues with some of the students that attend, and for someone to bring a knife with them when they leave the house is horrifying – but the college cannot be expected to deal with every decision their students make or be held responsible for them for every minute of every day. It has been fantastic to hear that the college has acted swiftly to exclude problem students and has worked with the police to identify troublemakers.

It is down to us all as a society to work out why a teenager feels they need to have a knife on them and to then try and stop youngsters putting themselves into such vulnerable and dangerous positions. It was pleasing to see that the headteacher of Ardleigh Green School (where my son now attends) met with the principal of the college recently and are working together to make the area as safe as possible, while also providing a rewarding education to all students.

It should have come as no surprise me that you Mr Rosindell decided to not contact these community leaders before commenting on the isssue and instead decided to suggest that the college had “outlasted its time at its current location”. You appear to have forgotten the potential extra burden and worry that you are heaping on so many people, the staff of the college, local businesses and of course the students and their families.

For once why don’t you as an MP look at coming up with a solution that helps solve this problem in our society, not just a Nimbyist attitude of moving the problem somewhere else. Perhaps you could ask council leader Damien White for advice, he is one of the councillors in the ward that the college is located – not that we ever see him around here.

So Mr Rosindell, my thoughts are simple, stop putting businesses, families and children under more pressure, start working with your fellow MPs and local community leaders to solve the problems that lead to a teenager feeling that they need to carry a knife - don’t lazily blame an institution that has been responsible for changing thousands of young lives for the better.

Happy memories from Westlands

Mrs Pat Fall, Upminster, full address supplied, writes:

Reference your recent letters from Angla and James regarding the dance school near Hornchurch bus garage.

It was called Westlands. Another friend who also lives in the Cranham area and I were attending the school from 1957 until 1966 and the lessons were on the ground floor.

Lou lived just up the road from my parents in Cranston Park Avenue, Upminster, so he was known to me since I was born. Some very happy memories from those days! Do hope this information helps.

Dart Charge top up seems unfair

Merv Hughes, Wickford, full address supplied, writes:

When the toll booths were removed at the Dartford Crossing I decided to open a Dart Charge account so that I would never be caught out on my annual holidays on the Kent coast or my trips to Chatham and Rochester for various military events with my elderly brother. I maintained a balance of about £20 and when it fell below £10 it was automatically topped up by £10.

Imagine my surprise when I received an email in September informing me that as I hadn’t used my account for over a year (for obvious reasons), my account would be closed in 90 days! There were two ways that I could prevent this from happening, I could either make an unnecessary journey across the river or top up my account. As I had no intention of making an unnecessary journey I was forced to top up my account so they now have £30 of my money!

Why back flawed test and trace?

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

Under the guise of saving lives and the NHS the government is doing the exact opposite as shown by the test, track and trace regime, which makes little medical sense, but at truly epic, over £42 billion, costs to the taxpayer, whereas a fraction of this would deliver tremendous benefits if spent wisely.

And yet the council leader persists in volunteering Havering for mass-testing without any idea of what’s involved, based on the fact he has refused to answer elementary questions, such as: How many tests were carried out to deliver the latest Havering figure of 687 positives (including false positives)? How reliable is the PCR test? How many of those testing positive were otherwise healthy? Recorder, Roll out of mass-testing, November 13.

I suspect he doesn’t know the answers as the whole business has been contracted out to secretive private companies, including donors, and he is just fronting the operation without question. If so, this is appalling, as he should be doing some research and asking forensic questions the longer the madness continues, as simply enforcing the “rules” like a jobsworth and hunting down shops to close, such as Best Sellers in Hornchurch, isn’t leadership, but a dereliction of duty to the residents of Havering. I appreciate its difficult to make people understand when they’re being paid not to understand, but it’s time he listened to his Romford mentor (if not the residents of Havering) who voted against another national lockdown and started pushing back against the restrictions making the cure far worse than the disease.

For more information:

Too many people without masks

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

Last week I visited the dentist. On the way home I encountered a woman on BR train not wearing mask; A woman on M&S checkout not wearing mask; A man on Lidl Romford checkout not wearing mask and a Lidl customer not wearing mask – I challenged them all!

Covid-19 virus? What Covid-19 virus?

Alternatives to driving essential

Sian Berry, co-Leader of the Green Party and candidate for mayor, writes:

I welcome the news that Rishi Sunak is considering action to create smart incentives to reduce growing traffic

I have been pushing for years for London to introduce a smart, fair road pricing scheme to replace the blunt daily congestion charge.

This could be done well or very badly and the government’s recent record on delivering new initiatives really concerns me.

One major issue is that one size will not fit all, so we must ensure that local areas have control over the smart levers and share in the revenue. Unless the process is devolved there is a very real threat that all the funds would go to the treasury. Every penny raised must go to cities and regions so they can improve and invest in public transport and alternatives to driving, and help reduce the need to travel too with more public services within easy reach. And for a smart road pricing scheme to work, privacy must be baked in from the start. This means not collecting any more data than is needed, not relying on promises that our privacy will be protected which will erode over time.

Above all, the government should not be making traffic worse, which is another reason Grant Shapps giving the go-ahead for the Stonehenge road tunnel last week was the wrong decision. We are in a climate and ecological emergency and should be investing in alternatives to driving. The £27 billion road-building budget is the right source for funding this, and all major road-building schemes should be cancelled now.

Support charity to fund vital research

Elkie Woodbridge, regional director for the south, British Heart Foundation, writes:

Following the government’s announcement of a second lockdown, we were forced to close our shops in London until Thursday, December 3. We expect the current shop closures across England to cost us millions of pounds.

Our funding for new research is expected to be halved by £50 million next year, which could limit future funding and delay important scientific breakthroughs that could help save lives. Our charity shops run purely on the support of the public, which is why we are urging the local community to support us, either by shopping online or donating smaller items via post.


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