Recorder letters: NHS support, smoke alarm/fire escape, men’s vote, women’s suffrage, loneliness, Diabetes UK, green belt and local politics

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 February 2018

GV of Smoke Alarm

GV of Smoke Alarm

PA Archive/PA Images

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

Have an alarm and an escape plan

Trevor Mckeever, South Hornchurch Labour Action Team and a former LFB firefighter, writes:

The fire at Orchard Village, however minor, is a timely reminder why we should test our smoke detectors/alarms on a regular basis and replace the batteries immediately when the audible bleep tone is actuated, this sound is a low battery warning.

Never take the battery out of your alarm unless replacing immediately!

Swift action by a local resident and a rapid response from the London Fire Brigade stopped this fire from developing into a bigger incident.

The amount of smoke detectors fitted should be a minimum of one per floor, if possible one in every room and one in the hallway is the best scenario, please don’t put a smoke alarm in the kitchen as they require a heat detector.

I look at my alarms as a pre warning for danger, that is why it is vital that you check your alarms once a month and change the battery every 12 months, but please be aware that some smoke alarms have a 10 year battery fitted, this type of battery cannot be replaced, you have to replace the whole smoke detector unit.

Another good investment would be a carbon monoxide alarm, many companies make a combined smoke and carbon monoxide alarm so you only have to put up one detector.

Always follow the manufactures fitting instructions, smoke detectors work best when fitted flat to the celling.

Have a fire escape plan in place, this is a plan that you and your family would do in the event of a fire. practising this plan could save lives in the event of a fire.

Plenty of ways for NHS to save vast sums of money

Mrs P Gogay, Main Road, Romford, writes:

It was heartening to witness so many protesters braving the bitterly cold weather to demonstrate support for the NHS and to demand more money to relieve the problems.

Although particular needs were not specified, the underlying causes, such as the squandering of resources are not always a fiscal matter.

There are hundreds of thousands of pounds to be saved NOW, TODAY.

I would have each ward employ a shopper who would buy pads, sheaths, gels, gloves, wet-wipes and dry-wipes from Aldi or Asda at normal retail prices rather than the outrageous mark-ups set by outsourcing private companies.

I would stop the practice of disposing of those red socks (still in their wrappers) and half used boxes of gloves and pots of cream left on a locker top when a patient is discharged.

Many patients already receive monthly prescriptions at home which accumulate during short hospital stays but may still have to wait many hours for all of them to be replaced by the hospital pharmacy. Even the wait for “off the shelf” antibiotics can delay freeing up a bed for hours.

I would employ porters. Private companies like Serpico operate like employment agencies and inevitably add considerable profit margins to wages.

Why did Queen’s outsource their cafes? And haven’t we noticed that the tables have been rearranged “banquet style” to accommodate numbers rather than those smaller round ones where grieving or anxious family members could talk privately. Cafes are money spinners and there are volunteers who would gladly help – just as they do in charity shops.

Those who do the tea/coffee rounds, clean the wards, service the equipment – all outsourced, all being paid desultory wages and more than the hospital can afford.

Perhaps the most glaring example of waste – as anyone over the age of 70 will attest to – is the fact that expensive equipment such as walking frames, commodes, wheelchairs are no longer collected for cleaning and reuse but instead are scrapped! Just as on-ward sluice room sterilised stainless steel bed pans (much more discrete and comfortable than wobbly, chafing cardboard ones) a small room could be set aside as a steam room to recycle their use.

Transport ambulances should introduce a daily equipment check so that pillows, hospital gowns and cellular blankets are not left behind when patients are transported back home.

Remember not all men could vote

Mary Griffiths, Romford, full address supplied, writes:

It’s great that The Recorder dedicated 10 whole pages to the centenary of Women’s Suffrage but why no mention of the 5.6 million men who also voted for the first time in 1918?

People may not be aware that until 1918 only 60 per cent of the male population had the right to vote. This was due to property criteria attached to voting rights.

Although these restrictions were lifted slightly in 1884 to include rate payers and not just property owners many men still couldn’t vote, including servants living with their employers (effectively working as slaves) and soldiers returning from fighting at the front.

It was mainly to address this injustice and avoid a civil uprising that the Representation of the People Act was passed giving all men and some women the vote.

The fact that women had to be older and still meet property criteria was probably to avoid a sudden shift in the balance of power. It shouldn’t be forgotten that women vastly outnumbered men, who had been killed in their millions during WW1, and limiting women’s voting rights ensured that only rich women could vote (thereby cancelling out the newly emancipated ordinary men’s votes).

These facts seem to be forgotten in the rush to celebrate women’s issues. Rather than celebrating so called “feminism” we should be focused on the emancipation of ordinary people whatever their gender, which sadly Emmeline Pankhurst and her cronies had little or no interest in.

Incidentally, Recorder readers might be interested to know that the Suffragettes’ main contribution to the war effort involved shaming young men into volunteering by handing out white feathers, whatever their age or fitness for service. It’s a sad fact that these noble women thoughtlessly sent men and boys to their deaths.

Who really won women suffrage?

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

Your centenary coverage regarding Votes for Women highlighted Sylvia Pankhurst of the East London Federation of Suffragettes.

But this was a small “left-wing” breakaway group from the Women’s Social & Political Union (of Suffragettes) headed by her mother and sister Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst who promoted a mainstream message but with a militancy made famous by Emily Davison who died trying to pin a suffrage scarf on the King’s horse at Epsom.

And this in turn was a breakaway from the far bigger and peaceful agitation of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (the Suffragists) headed by Millicent Fawcett.

This matters because the different groups had different policies and tactics and there is an ongoing debate over who played a deciding role in delivering female suffrage.

Was it the quiet agitation of political persuasion of a mass movement (Suffragists), the headline grabbing stunts of a militant few (Suffragettes), the “left-wing” agitation of Sylvia Pankhurst (who promoted many causes), or was it due to a growing female economic and cultural empowerment fast tracked by WWI? A process similar to the male suffrage!

The truth is all played a part, but it’s clear, who gets the media coverage, the Suffragettes, get the popular credit, rather than the far bigger group called, the Suffragists!

Welcome minister of loneliness

Remi Sogbesan, manager, Colin Pond Court, Longhayes Avenue, Romford, writes:

In this our 50th year, Anchor recognises that loneliness is nearing epidemic proportions and is something which concerns the older people living with us. According to the Campaign To End Loneliness, more than half the country’s 75 year olds currently live alone which increases the likelihood of mortality by 26per cent.

As we deliver housing, care and support to 40,000 older people from our 1,000 locations across England, Anchor does its utmost to prevent this. The older people living in retirement housing properties, like mine, benefit from living in a thriving community. I’m also around if they need any support.

That is why I welcome the government’s decision to appoint Tracey Crouch as its Minister for Loneliness. We wish her every success.

And local retailers can also help older people, particularly those living alone, to reduce their sense of loneliness. Anchor’s Standing Up 4 Sitting Down campaign is asking retailers to provide seating so that older shoppers, as well as disabled people and pregnant women, can rest mid-shop. A shopping trip may be a weekly chore for many but for some older people living alone it’s a chance for social interaction and could be a life saver.

Concert for Diabetes UK

Pete Bailey, media officer, Diabetes UK - Havering Group, writes:

This Year, Diabetes UK - Havering Group are once again organising a charity fundraising concert at 7.30pm on March 17 at St Luke’s Church, Front Lane, Cranham, Upminster, RM14 1LD.

Music will be by The Brentwood School Band.

Admission is adult £12 and £6 for under-16s. Everyone is welcome to support this event.

For tickets contact, Debbie Broom on 01708-473314 or email

The proceeds from the concert will be shared between Diabetes UK and Above us Only Sky - Hope for the homeless.

Council sacrificed the green belt

Cllr Denis O’Flynn, Heaten ward, writes:

The Recorder reported in considerable detail the discussions on Sadiq Khan’s London draft plan which proposes a housing target of 1,875 homes for Havering over the next ten years.

Great play was made of the need to protect the green belt and I agree but the record will show the green belt has already been sacrificed by this council when it suits them.

As an elected councillor for Harold Hill, Heaton ward, my Labour Party colleagues and I have fought repeatedly to defend the green belt and also the green spaces of the various areas of our community, but what happens, some speculator comes along and puts in a plan for a site that was previous garages for residents, some who had rented garages from the council for in many cases 35 years and more.

Someone submits a plan and the garages are knocked down and one or two houses with garages are built in their place. Places like Keats Avenue, Smart Close,Dagnam Park Drive and the Briar Road estate.

Green spaces disappeared and houses and bungalows were built in their place and absolutely no consideration was given to the residents’ point of view or their counter proposals.

And now even the council has submitted a plan for five units to be built on Priory Road and reawakens the fear of what is next on their agenda.

The argument put forward by my colleague and myself is that we in Havering need a plan of our own and avoid the plague of the private speculators who have no concern for either Harold Hill or Havering as a whole.

The target now is Sadiq Khan and let us conveniently forget the mess Boris Johnson’s lack of planning made of Havering over the period of his office and that lack of concern spread over all areas of our community including Harold Wood and parts of Romford.

We must put forward a plan of our own and take control of our destiny in the interest of our community.

Many of our residents in Harold Hill have housing problems which range from extortionate rents to private landlords, overcrowding, a desire to down size, and the victims of poor maintenance by private landlords and some of the big housing associations are as guilty as the small landlord.

Look at these cases and you will see why Havering must have a plan to stop the shady speculator grabbing every bit of green space.

Never seen these men at campaigns

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

I do not get involved with politics either locally or nationally but I vote in every election and I read all the manifestos and sometimes I have a laugh at the promises made but I never lose my temper.

That is until this week when I read some of the stuff put through my letterbox by Chris Cooper.

He claims he has been very active in campaigns and organising petitions – I have never seen him out on the safe the NHS campaign or any effort to stop the spread of HMCs.

On the campaign to the solar farm in Dagnam Park, he left all the work to others and only came in for photo calls.

He is titled chairman of Heaton Safer neighbourhood team but it is the police who chair the meeting, Chris never opens his mouth, not even to close the meeting.

Facebook is all he ever does and anyone who disagrees is blocked.

Phillip Hyde gives his reason for standing down two years ago as failing health. He told friends he was leaving the country and had his house up for sale for several months, but no sale.

I have looked Phillip Hyde up and he has tried to gain office in a number places without success.

I might be considered unfair in my criticism of these two people but I have not seen either of them in any meeting either at the town hall or Hilldene Avenue on a Saturday.

I cannot afford to put leaflets through doors or beat my drum in other places but I can write to my local paper the Romford Recorder, to air my views at the insult to my intelligence.

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