Recorder letters: Green space protection, parking charge, tv licence fee and more.
PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 July 2019
Cllr Stephanie Nunn
Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.
Thanks to all for Bloom preparations
Cllr Stephanie Nunn, Elm Park ward, writes:
I would like to say a huge thank you to all those involved in preparations for the London in Bloom judging this week.
Whatever the result, we have had strong community engagement with schools, businesses, groups and volunteers and a huge input from Havering Council, especially the officer Mark Jones whose expertise is second to none.
It has been hard work but we have all enjoyed working together. In particular I would like to thank the schools: Benhurst, R J Mitchell, Scotts and St Albans for the artwork, bees and butterflies.
I would also like to thank R J Mitchell for their gardening club display and St Albans for planting up the little Elm Park train.
Thank you to the Eye Clinic for the window display of children's art, businesses and St Nicholas Church who have made an effort to display the poster, decorated their shops or sponsored items.
If you ever wondered what Knit and Natter is all about, now you know as they have knitted an amazing 400 flowers to decorate our trees and the empty butcher's shop.
Finally, a special thank you to the Elm Park London in Bloom Committee who spent three hours on Saturday weeding, trimming trees and tidying up Elm Park Centre.
Elm Park is looking very good, we need to keep it that way, so please help to water the plants and we will all benefit.
Council claims to protect green spaces but builds on them
Kay Secchi, Queenstown Gardens, Rainham, writes:
Havering's latest Living Magazine dated July 2019, states a quote from Neil Stubbings, director of regeneration, that "we want to make sure that local people get to enjoy the outdoor environment as much as possible" and that they are devoted to protecting and creating new open and existing green spaces.
Yet since 2015, we have been fighting to save the tiny green centre of Dovers Farm Estate from developers.
This community green has been in existence since the beginning of this estate for over 68 years, yet Havering Council has spent over £118k of council tax money fighting the residents for the green, plus offered £50k allegedly to move the First World War memorial to the Anzacs to enable 30 houses to be built in its place.
Unfortunately, the residents of the estate don't have finances to fight back.
We have requested information regarding the land's original sale under the Freedom of Information act, which is our right by law. The council have yet to release this information. Have they got something to hide? How can the residents believe a word they say?
We were told the regeneration of New Plymouth House and Napier House were not going above six floors yet new plans suggest 10 floors.
The green that was there is also lost. The council's suggestion that it's OK as they have the country park to go and play, "it's only a little walk away" is rubbish and cruel. The children would have to cross very busy main roads to get there.
Would they be happy for their children to do that? Don't think so. All they have to do now is walk from their house onto the green and parents can watch them at ease.
So many parents work these days and can't afford the time to accompany the children. There are so many other vacant areas to build houses why take away precious open green spaces, including Gooshays, how many more are they going to destroy?
The extra traffic and lack of new infrastructure will make living here unbearable. Why are they promising their care in protecting and creating open green spaces when they clearly don't mean it?
Havering Council are not working for the benefit of Havering residents. The intended properties are not council houses nor affordable.
What will we be charged for next?
Pete Bailey, Poplar Steet, Romford, writes:
Many residents in Havering are really not happy with the recent increase in parking charges by the council.
We are also having to put up with the introduction of a charge for the annual Langtons Concert and The Havering Show.
These events are heavily sponsored by several local companies anyway, so why charge for admission? It seems very unfair to local residents.
The concern is what are the council planning to charge for next. Is there no stop to what they will plan next?
Many are saying, the council are getting like The Highway Man. Perhaps they will have a guest artist at the Havering Show, singer Adam Ant, singing Stand and Deliver.
Parking charge has not helped hall
J Lee, Rushmere Avenue, Upminster, writes:
I am writing in reply to the points made by Cllr Jason Frost. He states that the operators of the New Windmill Hall requested an increase in the parking tariff in 2016.
That was because the NWH car park was charging 20p, the cheapest parking in the area. Elsewhere it would have cost 50p after the free half hour.
We had an Upminster Park car park then, now built on, but Cllr Frost is quite aware that sports clubs, families and other users of the park are permitted to use NWH car park as it was decreed by the council to be for park use also.
Therefore, how has this resolved the problem for the operators of the NWH? And how can a community hall be run when local groups and classes have to tell members that on top of fees they need to pay another £1.50 or £2.50?
Groups such as these are leaving Upminster facilities as this has become a huge problem.
Budget available for yellow lines
D Ainsworth, Barnstaple Road, Romford, writes:
A while ago I read a local Conservative Party leaflet informing that ward councillors had reported roads with faded markings.
Good for them for so doing.
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When I report such matters a standard reply tells me there is currently no budget for renewing road markings.
Odd that, as there seems enough money for pots of paint to add even more single and double yellow road markings, even in places where they aren't needed or wanted.
This, I assume, to further reduce parking spaces, so increasing revenue from fines as more hard-pressed motorists find even less places to legally park!
Remembrance claim is an insult
Cllr Barry Mugglestone, chairman, Elm Park Royal British Legion Branch, writes:
In last week's council meeting the leader of the council said the Residents' Association alternative budget meant we would cancel the Remembrance Day Parade.
This is the most preposterous statement to make to me as chairman of the Elm Park Royal British Legion. I find it an insult for the leader to make this outrageous statement that RA councillors would cancel Remembrance parades, and I ask him to stop using this to try to score political points. The Legion's motto is "Service not Self".
Since becoming chairman I have seen the Elm Park parade grow in popularity each year with many youth groups becoming more involved.
Thanks to the excellent poppy team we have fundraising events all year round and on Remembrance Sunday we hold an auction, raffle and other fund raising activities.
All money raised is for the Poppy Appeal.
We are also part of an excellent welfare team who give support to those who need it.
All of this is done on a voluntary basis out of respect for those who have served their country.
My father was a soldier, Stephanie's father was a petty officer in the Navy and I am sure all of us have links with the services and wish to show the greatest respect to those who have fought for their country and in many cases made the ultimate sacrifice.
Not fair to blame BBC for licence fee
Geoff Grote, Brockley Crescent, Collier Row, writes:
Re Andrew Rosindell's letter in the last edition of this paper. He really cannot be allowed to get on his high horse and call the BBC "scandalous" and "disgraceful" over the end of the over 75s free TV licence.
When the Tories came to power in 2010 the free licence was paid for by the government but this was, subsequently, forced onto the BBC by George Osbourne. Now that the BBC has stated it cannot afford to use about 20per cent of its budget on this without closing TV stations we have a concerted operation by the government, and the right wing media, to show them as the villains of the piece.
This is not right nor fair.
Andrew's stance on knife crime is also questionable. Violent crime did, indeed, decrease when Boris Johnson was mayor but not as much as the rest of the country. Sadiq Khan has inherited a smaller police force than Boris had due to the Tory austerity programme which, I am sure, Andrew wholeheartedly supported.
Andrew contending that our current laws on environmental protection and labour standards will stifle our competitiveness outside the UK really does set alarm bells ringing. I am sure his hero, Boris, can't wait to sign up for some terrible trade deal with the USA after which those protections will be just a memory.
Andrew does not mention anything at all about the only position Boris had in government and how that worked out. There's a lady in an Iranian jail who can tell you.
There are ways to save free parking
Cllr Ray Morgon, leader of the opposition, writes:
As the leader of the opposition, I was frustrated that at the last council meeting the Conservative-led administration chose to ignore once again that there are choices available to save the 30 minutes free parking in Hornchurch and Upminster without impacting front line services.
The leader of the council stated that an alternative budget that I presented earlier in the year was anything but viable. Strange, as the council's chief finance officer signed it off as perfectly viable. Why does the leader of the council thinks he knows better than a professionally qualified finance officer?
At short notice, Residents Associations and Independent groups across Havering galvanised several hundred residents to protest outside the Town Hall.
With the help of local businesses we had already collected over 12,000 signatures against the scrapping of the 30 minutes free parking from local residents in Elm Park, Hornchurch and Upminster.
The editor of this newspaper has recognised that the changes brought in by this council are bound to have an effect on traders and that the council should be supporting our small shops. So why can everyone see this, but the Conservative administration can't. Aren't the Conservatives supposed to be the party of business?
Have you noticed how empty many of the council owned car parks are since the change?
And what about the social impact of the change? For example, many residents have contacted me about the additional cost to attend various classes at Fairkytes. If attendance numbers drop off, the class may not be viable with a valued social outlet disappearing.
Whilst I would agree that many of the roads and pavements are in need of investment, perhaps, a better balance to ensure that our town centres thrive whilst progress is made on improving our roads is the way forward.
Remember also future council income is from business rates. No businesses - no income to the council. And what about those local residents losing their jobs?
Given the millions that the council raked in last year in penalty charges, why can't some of this money be used?
Invitation to MP to help veterans
Cllr Denis O'Flynn, forces champion for Havering, writes:
I would like to ask Andrew Rosindell to join me to fight for homes for our veterans, many of whom are sleeping rough in the streets whilst the Ministry of Defence (MoD) still holds 11,500 empty homes.
Nearly a quarter of the MoD properties are still not being used and thousands of the homes have not been lived in for three years. With 8,340 still available for occupancy, according to the figures obtained by Sunday People.
The number of empty MoD homes means the majority of Britain's homeless veterans could be housed instantly if there was the political will. These properties are located across the country including west London and Cambridgeshire.
In 1996 the MoD sold off its housing stock to a private company, Annington Property Ltd, but is required to rent them back, even if they are empty.
That deal was described as disastrous by the public accounts committee chairwoman Meg Hillier MP and accused the MoD of leaving the taxpayer between £2.2bn and £4.2bn worse off.
Whilst I accept that a certain number of properties need to be kept empty to accommodate movement for repairs and updating, 11,500 empty properties is much too much.
Andrew, you and I attended the veterans parade on Saturday, June 29 as they marched through the Romford and Hornchurch, and we were both very proud to be in the presence of these warriors of all branches of our armed forces, but applause does not house the homeless or those suffering limb loss and still need help. At least one, of those was one of your constituents living in the Chase Cross area.
So help us to help them by putting down questions to who will return those empty MoD homes to house those that need them desperately.