Recorder letters: Police station, Tri-borough, data-protection, councillors and austerity

PUBLISHED: 10:01 25 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:01 25 September 2017

Hornchurch Police Station was last saved by a residents' campaign in 2012

Hornchurch Police Station was last saved by a residents' campaign in 2012


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

Halt austerity and protect policing

Mr W Ramsay, Stephen Avenue, Rainham, writes:

Last week’s Recorder reported the prospective closure of Hornchurch police station to help make required savings from policing the borough of £259,000, and contribute to overall cuts for the Met amounting to £1bn since 2010.

At the same time last week saw an announced £50m spending on a London base for machine gunners arising from the threat of terrorism that now exists.

Both developments have a common origin in the disastrous Lab-Con consensus that the masterful but unlamented Blair engineered, which included the lax financial regulation that culminated in the bank breakdown and all the government debt it resulted in, and extended also to military deployments in the Islamic world.

Many may therefore agree that it is fortunate that consensus is no longer with us, and if not all its consequences can be removed the continuation of the Cameron cuts such as in police expenditure surely can be now there is no Cameron nor even a majority Conservative government to sustain them. We look to our local parliamentary representatives here.

Here we go again! Battle to save vital police station

Denis O’Flynn, Harold Hill Labour Party, writes:

On Wednesday, September 13, I read an email from Cllr Roger Ramsey leader of Havering Council, urging Havering residents to attend a meeting called for that evening in the Salvation Army buildings in High Street Romford.

The purpose of the rallying call was to try and oppose the threatened closures of the Hornchurch and Rainham police stations.

Regretfully many elected members who would have shared his concern were at the Town Hall for a full council meeting and many more members of the public were outside the Town Hall protesting against the pilot scheme merging Havering’s, Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge police force

At a meeting of the Havering, Dagenham and Barking Trades Council it was decided to support the opposition to closure which now also included Dagenham.

I welcomed the call to oppose closure but at the same time I could not forget the total lack of support that was evident when we fought against the closure of the Harold Hill police station and when I wrote to the assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard I was shocked to get a phone call from the then Havering Borough Commander accusing me of being out of order and going over his head.

As the closure of the police station was not of his making I could not understand his attitude and told him and others if they had spent more time listening to the Harold Hill residents their time would have been better spent.

So here we go again another battle to save a police station and I have no doubt we will be told it is an economic necessity and cannot be avoided and like the case of the Harold Hill residents they will put economy before the safety of our community.

Emergency police measures needed

Cllr Graham Williamson, South Hornchurch Independent Residents Group, writes:

I have to agree with Cllr Ramsey that we “must now question the value of any further involvement in this three-borough pilot and to demand a rethink to the whole proposal” (Police Response times under tri-borough scheme).

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons feels that emergency police measures, such as separating response teams back into three boroughs, are/will resolve the problem of poor response times.

What the article doesn’t say is that the other part of their attempt to improve the response times involves indefinitely taking away one Dedicated Ward Officer from four Havering wards and taking away ALL DWO’s and when the Response Teams require help. Thus in trying to solve one problem they are creating another (larger) one. Is losing our very limited local police a price we must pay for to improve Police times?

Frankly, the whole policing issue in the Capital is largely down to a lack of funding and this is driving the mayor to create these unsustainable pilot schemes and to threaten police station closures.

Since around 80 per cent of the budget comes from central government, the reduction in their grant, despite allowing the Capital’s population to boom, makes them primarily to blame. The latter say that it may be time for austerity to be loosened. May I suggest they start by properly funding our police forces.

Tri-borough trial was a mistake

Cllr David Durant, vice-chairman, Crime & Disorder committee, writes:

Our council tax bills include a payment to Havering Council and the Greater London Authority.

The GLA precept pays towards the emergency services, TfL and administrative costs, including a growing housing department.

This year the Mayor of London raised our GLA precept to pay towards policing due to a cut in government funding, although the Metropolitan Police are still required to deliver a further £400 million ‘savings’ by 2020! Hence the difficult decisions that need to be made, including the need to stop importing crime.

This cost cutting exercise is behind the trial (tri-borough) merger of Havering, Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge, Borough Command Units, which if successful is intended to be rolled out across London reducing the 33 borough commands to about 12, but with improved funding for the City of London police who are being armed with machine guns.

That’s why the decision of the council leader, Cllr Ramsey (Emerson Park) to volunteer us to take part in the trial was a mistake, because Havering has always been the ‘poor man’ in relation to police funding and personnel as we are a safe borough compared to inner-London. Therefore merging us with other commands was always a recipe for reduced coverage in Havering and indeed resulted in us having the lowest response times in London.

But to improve response times the police are having to reverse the cuts that resulted in the poor response times and by so doing are reversing the savings which was the reason for the merger!!! And presumably their admission of failure are the new plans to close police stations as an additional cost cutting measure!

We should opt-in rather than out

Cllr Clarence Barrett, Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Association, writes:

It was recently announced that, under the Data Protection Bill, automatically ticked consent boxes for receiving ‘marketing and promotional information’ on online forms will no longer be permitted.

However, the origin of much junk mail comes from the ‘open’ electoral register which lists out personal details of individuals and can be bought by any organisation for any purpose.

Currently, residents can choose to opt out of the ‘open’ register by ticking a box, but I would suggest that this is an example where residents should be free to tick the consent box if they wish to ‘opt-in’ to the ‘open’ register, thereby reversing the assumption of inclusion in the ‘open’ register.

How independent councillors work

Lorraine Moss, Jan Sargent and Rachel Barker, Harold Hill Independent Party, write:

We are writing in response to
P Clarks letter.

Firstly, in answer to your question with regard to development in Central Park and the loss of green spaces on the Briar Road Estate. The Harold Hill Independent Party was not formed when these campaigns were fought. Needless to say, I am sure if we had have been campaigning in the area at that time, we would have put in the same effort and determination in that, as we did when we led the campaign to Save The Manor from having a solar farm prior to us forming the party. It is a shame that all Labour’s hard work and effort seemed to go unnoticed by the residents, they were virtually wiped out as a party in the 2014 local elections.

With regard to Independents voting with the Conservatives, we do not see how this applies to any of us, we have never been elected as Cllr’s. However, we can assure you that if elected, we would not be making a habit of voting with the Conservatives. Unless of course they were putting forward a motion that would benefit the residents of Harold Hill and Havering.

You are correct in stating that Jan Sargent and Lorraine Moss did join the Labour Party. However, we soon became disenchanted after witnessing how disorganised and divided the local group are. We therefore decided to leave and form our own party. It is our belief that being Independent from party politics and not being subject to a whip system is the best way to serve the people of Harold Hill. Why should they play second fiddle to the needs of a national party?

Lorraine was a member of the Residents Association and her former group are still the main opposition party in Havering. They never went into coalition with the Conservatives.

All leaflets distributed by the Harold Hill Independent Party include our personal mobile numbers and email addresses. All three of us are also on Facebook and we are always available to deal with residents. We can assure you we are an open and honest party and do not mislead residents or go back on promises.

Austerity impacts our community

Paul Mcgeary, former Harold Hill Councillor, writes:

The council administration only realised just over a week ago that they were in danger of losing control of making planning decisions to central government if they refuse more than 10 per cent of applications they are currently on 9.2pc why didn’t they know about it and act earlier Tory administration incompetence!!

Cllr Roger Ramsey the leader of the council said that response times were falling short of expectations since the tri-borough policing scheme started.

He was also upset that the police had arranged a meeting with the public on the same night as the council meeting so that no councillors would be able to attend.

It suggests a breakdown in communications between the Crime and Disorder committee of the council and the police commissioner.

Clearly the administration are failing on a number of levels. I would say due to a lack of resources brought about by the Tory government’s austerity agenda and causing a lack of staff at the council so that members are not as informed as they should be.

They should also have been aware that cuts to youth services and children’s centres would impact on the level of crime after a short period of time.

Invest in public services and the whole community wins.

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