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Recorder letters: Residents' Associations, armed police, WaveLength and more.

PUBLISHED: 13:03 01 December 2019

Two youths were arrested in South Street, Romford on suspicion of robbery and taken into custody. Picture: Courtier Photography

Two youths were arrested in South Street, Romford on suspicion of robbery and taken into custody. Picture: Courtier Photography

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

Growing deployment of armed police

Cllr David Durant, Crime & Disorder Committee, writes:

I was alarmed to read the Recorder report by April Roach "armed police arrest youths in Romford after reports schoolchildren were robbed", because there seems to be a growing deployment of armed officers to deal with what appear low level incidents and as it appears a bit extreme to send at least four armed officers (one shown with a machine gun) to deal with the incident described.

The report says the incident took place about 4.30pm on Wednesday, November 13, outside Gadcet in South Street and the accompanying picture shows four people on the ground surrounded by armed police!

The report said two people were arrested, but alas no details about the other two suspects shown in the picture, the welfare of the children being robbed and court appearances was provided.

I have therefore asked Cllr Bob Perry (Con) Crime & Disorder committee chairman to ask the Borough Commander to provide updates on all incidents involving armed police in Havering to be presented to future Crime & Disorder committee meetings, so members can ascertain whether the growing deployment of armed police is necessary and proportionate, as I fear this deployment undermines our proud tradition of unarmed policing with consent.

Concern with how residents' associations should be managed

Mr W Ramsay, Stephen Avenue, Rainham, writes:

My earlier letter of November 1, following criticism of the council's online parking consultation by Terence Matthews LLB and Cllr Stephanie Nunn of one of the borough's RA groups, referred to the old proverb to do with glasshouses. In response to my letter I have now had some stones thrown by Mr Matthews (Recorder, last week)who has suggested obtuseness on my part and having 'no idea of how a residents association is run'. But do his stones break any glass?

As regards the second allegation, I have, as he must be aware, attended the relevant association's AGM in recent years and on the last but one occasion seem to recall hearing Mr Matthews saying many of the things contained in his letter - but I am relying on memory here as it was not minuted, for reasons, as I understand, of 'succinctness'. He was, if I remember correctly, arguing against a proposal, mentioned in my earlier letter, that residents' wishes should decide what RA councillors do, which also fell victim to the latter consideration.

The concern is in any case not with how a residents association is run but how it should be run if it is to live up to its name. There are furthermore four residents' associations or groups represented on Havering Council and can he speak for all of these as regards how they are run?

A different view of the matter is presented by Cllr Mugglestone, who has regularly been commended in the letters pages. I was delighted to read in his election address last year the following: "We listen to the residents and carry out their wishes and we believe the council should be resident driven". This is not easy to reconcile with Mr Matthews' view that "No organisation can have a system of everybody being asked what to do before something is carried out", an expectation which he regards as obtuse. I have previously suspected divisions within the RA group here and I have suggested members should decide what the approach should be.

Mr Matthews further says that RAs, meaning presumably his own group, do not go in for online consultations as "anybody in the world can influence the outcome", while at the same time he demands a broadening of the council's parking consultation, which would surely lead to just this supposedly undesirable result. It would be interesting to know if he is reporting a decision of the association's executive committee here, and if so whether it is an instance of obtuseness to suggest that members should decide the forms of consultation engaged in.

Rather than pursuing other more minor points that could be made, I would conclude by saying that my concern at the form traditionally taken by political representation, that I have long pursued in the letters pages, was prompted by repeated complaints in the Recorder of the form 'no one asked us if we wanted this'. Over time there has been a growth of consultation, particularly, I have to say, from the Conservatives, but then it comes to nought if the outcome is not reflected in the action taken, nor if it is not of a form intended to ascertain and implement residents' wishes. We look to RAs to do better, but cannot expect this if traditional ideas predominate - namely, that their role is to decide on people's behalf, apart perhaps from some showpiece exceptions.

Don't forget those who live in silence

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Tim Leech, WaveLength CEO, High Street, Hornchurch, writes:

Switch on the television, listen to the radio, scroll through Facebook or Twitter, and you'll see an abundance of General Election material.‌

Some of us will thrive from this political frenzy; others will want the noise of it all to stop.

Amongst roars of support or a cacophony of boos, we risk ignoring those who live in silence: ‌the 9+ million adults in the UK who are often or always lonely.

I'm CEO‌ of the 80-year-old national charity WaveLength on the High Street in Hornchurch, which gives technology to those most in need to help them feel less lonely. We help people who are at the most risk of being lonely: those in financial hardship who suffer from serious physical and mental health conditions, or have been homeless, or fled domestic abuse. Referrers to WaveLength often describe how applicants live in silence. For some, the only sound which punctuates the day is the click of the boiler, or the landing of election material on the doormat.

In the run up to December 12, we shouldn't forget the loneliness agenda. We have a Minister (Baroness Barran) and a strategy (A Connected Society). We also have cross-departmental commitments to help those who are lonely. As a member of the Loneliness Action Group, WaveLength supports the delivery of the government's loneliness strategy. Whether through technological interventions, befriending schemes, chatty benches, social prescribing, or improved community spaces, different sectors are offering more social opportunities to help lift people out of loneliness.

However, more work needs to be done. We can't afford for loneliness funding to dwindle, just at the time when we're building momentum. We need the next government to fund new and existing solutions which tackle loneliness head on. These initiatives need to be underpinned by research into their effectiveness, which in turn foster useful cross-sectoral partnerships.

From a health perspective, tackling loneliness is a no brainer. By reducing loneliness levels, you decrease the likelihood of developing other health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or cognitive decline. Research by the LSE and the Campaign to End Loneliness proves there's a strong economic case too: for every £1 invested in loneliness, it saves £3. Investment in loneliness is a win win for all.

In this election period, let's not forget those who live in silence. Together, let's ensure that the next government turns A Connected Society into a reality.

Help for children with cancer

Helen Lam, CLIC Sargent London Fundraising Engagement Manager, writes:

Christmas is a magical time for families from London to enjoy all the lovely things about the festive season - from decorating the tree to visiting Santa's Grotto to spending time with your loved ones. But when you're a child going through cancer treatment, that's all at risk.

I work for CLIC Sargent, the UK's leading cancer charity for children and young people, and we've kick-started our Christmas campaign this December to highlight how cancer can cost children their Christmas. We are now asking the public for their support so that we can be there for these families helping to keep them together this festive season, and beyond.

With the community's support, donations will help fund CLIC Sargent's Homes from Home service, which provides free accommodation for families near hospitals, so they can be close to their child whilst facing cancer this Christmas. Your support will also mean CLIC Sargent social workers, based in hospitals and out in the community can be there to provide practical, emotional and financial support.

As well as donating, there are other ways the community can support children and young people with cancer this Christmas, from collecting stamps to visiting the charity's online shop for Christmas shopping.

As we approach the end of the year, I'd like to say a personal thank you to everyone in the community who has supported CLIC Sargent this year. Your help and generosity means CLIC Sargent can continue to be there for more children and young people from London facing cancer.

To donate to CLIC Sargent's Christmas appeal and for more information, visit clicsargent.org.uk/christmas, call 0300 330 0803 or text GIVE to 70030 to donate £5.*

*Texts cost £5 plus one standard network rate message. CLIC Sargent will receive 100pc of your donation. To opt out of calls, text NOCALL CLIC to 78866. To opt out of SMS, text NOSMS CLIC to 78866. (Texts will be charged at your network's standard message charge.)

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