Readers' letters: Thanks to hospital staff and market traders, ice rink site, and supermarkets profiting in lockdown

People strolling past the stalls at Romford Market

Romford Market after it reopened following the first lockdown. - Credit: Ken Mears

Thank you to staff of renal unit and market traders

Mrs Mary Bryan, Havering Road, Romford, writes:
This Christmas has been different but it has made us all more aware to support the hungry, the homeless, those alone and those in need.

It has been different but, nevertheless, many people have worked hard to keep things as normal as possible.

I would especially like to thank all the staff at the renal unit at King George Hospital, Goodmayes. My husband needs to attend three times a week and we are so grateful for the care and dedication of the drivers and all the doctors and nurses at the unit.

A big thank you to all the regular traders who kept Romford Market going during the Christmas period – and to St Edward’s Church in the Market Place that was open for prayer. It was comforting to slip in quietly, find a haven of peace and pray for all the people of Romford.

So may others need our thanks but we are very grateful to all the people who produce the Romford Recorder each week. We look forward to reading up-to-date information, news and views.

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Christmas was not quite the same the same this year as we had to self-isolate without meeting our family, but the joy of celebrating our Saviour’s birth was there! Jesus came to bring light and hope in to the world – much needed in these days of lockdown!

May the New Year bring us hope, joy and an anticipation of better things to come.
Best wishes to you all for 2021.

A case for starting calendar anew

Mr W Ramsay, Stephen Avenue, Rainham, writes: 
The turn of the year characteristically prompts reflections on the occasion, and in the present instance one such is what year it should be. 

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It is regularly observed that these are extraordinary times due to Covid and there may be a case for marking this by restarting the calendar, especially with 2020 having a good claim to be Year Zero through so many things not being able to happen. An obvious designation for this new time would be ‘PC’, meaning post-Covid, but these initials of course already have a use. 

However, there may not be a difficulty as the new use proposed here might coexist harmoniously with the old, or alternatively the latter might be replaced by the letters ‘PG’, signifying protected groupism, which may be judged an improvement in both accuracy and intelligibility.

Supermarkets profit in lockdown

A Romford resident, full name and address supplied, writes:
I hold my hands up and freely confess that I’m a bit of a snob – I only buy food in Sainsbury’s and M&S and would shop in Waitrose if there was one close enough to me. 

However, I’ve recently been shocked and disappointed by both M&S Food Hall and Sainsbury’s store managers when I’ve complained to them about various things. 

During the pandemic, we are supposed to keep our distance from each other, meet outside and in the highest tiers and lockdowns, only shop for essential items. 

Announcements are made over PAs thanking us for shopping alone and presumably it’s desirable to be as quick as possible; why then have first Sainsbury’s and now M&S rearranged their food aisles? Maybe other supermarkets have done this too. 

Instead of being able to go in and go straight to what we need, customers are having to stay longer inside the shop looking for items. 

I’ve spoken to both managers about shelves being rearranged and both have said that this has been done to maximise profits because they are businesses and have shareholders to answer to! 

Never mind that we are in a pandemic, people are fighting for their lives and livelihoods and that these stores have been lucky enough to stay open. 

Sainsbury’s has had no restrictions placed on what it can sell and has benefited from other shops having to close, and M&S has kept its non-food section open during tier 4 restrictions – even during lockdown, they moved some clothes into the food hall. 

Of course we are all immensely grateful to everyone who has had to continue working throughout the pandemic, but a bit of recognition that these stores have been less impacted or – in the case of Sainsbury’s in particular, profited from other store closures wouldn’t go amiss, and a bit of perspective on what’s important – saving lives over making a profit – during such difficult times would demonstrate humanity instead of corporate greed.

Are residents being short-changed over old ice rink site?

Cllr David Durant, Rainham and Wennington Independent Residents Group, writes:
The prospect of the old ice rink site being redeveloped to provide 1,050 flats and other facilities needs careful study for a number of reasons. 

This site was council owned and sold in a roundabout way to part pay for a new Romford leisure centre, but have Havering residents been short-changed?

As this prime site was then given planning approval for 620 flats, which increased the value of the former council site far beyond the cost of a new leisure centre. 

Despite being an obvious overdevelopment, the plans for the 620 flats were recommended for approval by the planning department, but never progressed, due to objections by the mayor of London.

Presumably the applicant must think the high-rise tower blocks needed to provide 1,050 flats and other facilities will be approved to meet housing targets, despite again being an obvious over-development in the Romford Town Centre! 

However an approval would again vastly increase the value of the former council owned site making the new Romford leisure centre far more expensive than its already over-priced £28m.

The Romford MP and council leader have spoken out against the prospect of high-rise tower blocks replacing the commercial properties opposite Queen’s Hospital, but is it a coincidence this follows the prospect of a “monstrous” scheme immediately outside the hospital (Recorder, December 11, 18 and 25)?

Local ward Cllr Timothy Ryan (Con, Brooklands) has warned the addition of thousands of residents has to be done correctly, but is this supported by the Romford MP and council leader and members of the Strategic Planning committee?

New Year’s Eve party at house

M Edwards, Shaftesbury Road, Romford, writes:
On New Year’s Eve I made two 999 calls to get the police to stop horrendous out of control partying with boombox electro thud and strobe lasers in a house nearby. 

No police arrived so the 20+ non residents will have spread the virus and to hell with the rest of us. So when you are waiting to get medical help at Queen’s, remember those delightful people.

Hurrah for Steve Allen

Jillian Atkins, Bourne End, Hornchurch, writes:
Hurrah for Steve Allen! I shall keep his article from Friday, October 23’s Recorder on my kitchen table to read every time I go by, as it makes me laugh so much. Thank you, Steve.

Turn your hand to home cooking

Roz Rosenblatt, London Head, Diabetes UK, writes:
This February, we’re asking people across London to keep up the new year motivation by signing up to take part in Diabetes UK’s first ever FakeAway Feb.

Challenge yourself to swap processed foods and takeaways for healthier alternatives throughout the month of February, while raising vital funds for diabetes research.

With Diabetes UK by your side to provide advice, support and, most importantly – delicious recipes, FakeAway Feb is here to kickstart your home-cooking journey. When you sign up, you’ll receive access to our online community where members can share cooking tips and tricks, as well as access to our FakeAway Feb Toolkit – where you can download your free meal planner.

It’s simple – one month, totally homemade. Sign up to FakeAway Feb today, and kickstart your journey to a healthier you.

We’re here to help care leavers

David Holmes CBE, chief executive, Family Action, writes:
It can be frightening and lonely for young people when they leave the care system. Many may be living on their own for the first time and often will not have a network of friends and family around to offer them support. 

However, the charity Family Action runs Listening Works, a free virtual helpline specifically for young care leavers aged 18-27 years old across the UK. 

We are here all evening, every evening 6pm to midnight. 

So if you are a care leaver, whether you’ve got something on your mind or you just fancy a friendly chat, we’re here for you when many other services are shut or not available. 

You can call us on 0808 802 0222, text us on 07860 065 169 or you can have a web chat with us via our website at – whatever kind of listening works for you, we are here.

Our trained volunteers can offer you someone to talk to – a listening ear, a friendly voice and a chance to talk openly about whatever’s on your mind. 

We also offer signposting to useful resources if any specific issues come up and information about other support out there and how to get it.

So if you are a care leaver, or know a care leaver who might benefit, please remember Listening Works is here for you. Please get in touch.

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