Recorder letters: Ring road, Olympic Levy, grass verges, special measures and landlords

PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 December 2017

The London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is the home of West Ham Utd

The London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is the home of West Ham Utd


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

Grass not always greener elsewhere

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

Further to the letter from Mr Cauvain (Recorder, last week) regarding the Olympic Levy and leaving London, I can assure readers that while we no longer pay the Olympic levy, the £8 per household (£750,000 across the borough) that we should have received back last year was, instead, kept by the Mayor of London, supposedly to support the police budget.

As for leaving London for the pleasant pastures of Essex, it’s not nearly as simple as it sounds.

Setting aside the ridiculous, unrealistic and damaging housing targets recently proposed by the Mayor for our borough, the £280pa each London household pays in their Council Tax to the Mayor of London makes up only 7per cent (£800m) of the overall £12bn annual budget for the Greater London Authority.

The vast majority is actually funded through government grants (£4.7bn) and fares, fees and charges (£6.3bn). This all then pays for services like the police, fire brigade, transport, London weighting on pay, skills and training and towards the 49,000 freedom passes held by Havering residents.

In a theoretical sense, should we up sticks and move our £280pa to Essex, how much of these comparable services would we get for our money? While it is absolutely right for us to value and retain our Havering identity, it would also be worth remembering that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

Ring road not fit for purpose

David Ainsworth, Barnstaple Road, Romford, writes:

Readers of your letters’ column (December 15) will be surprised to be learn that Romford’s ring road is a good example of a scheme that was successful for motorists.

It’s no longer fit for purpose, as traffic levels now mean all roundabouts are both dangerous to enter and cause long tailbacks.

No, I don’t refer just to the pre-Christmas build-up period, as this is common throughout the year.

When first visiting Romford decades ago, our town was acknowedged as the second top shopping centre after Oxford Street.

Not now, with a major reason deterring shoppers being poor access and egress from our town centre.

It’s not only motorists who suffer but also public transport’s many users. Bus timetables are reduced to fiction owing to poor traffic management in and around Romford’s town centre.

Now we’ve a plan to close subways under our ring road (which enable pedestrians to progress safely) and replace them with street level crossings – so futher adding travel time for motorists as more jams ensue.

This has all the hallmarks of a Transport for London (TfL) inititiative, designed by out-of-touch mandarins who work and reside far away from Havering.

Alas Havering Council usually accept TfL recommendations without question as history proves, often because they get work done without council expense providing they agree promptly.

What Havering urgently needs is traffic management, not more hairbrained schemes!

Tackle parking to save grass verges

M Chapman, Hornchurch, writes:

Last week’s anonymous main letter was sent by a dismayed resident “mourning” the demise of our grass verges in favour of dropped kerbs.

Our council has consistently failed to provide affordable parking to accommodate the exponential rise of vehicles in this borough.

Similarly, if Queen’s Hospital provided free parking for nurses and staff they would not be forced to park in nearby residential roads.

Residents in Grenfell Avenue, a stone’s throw from the hospital, experience daily problems of inconsiderate parking of cars by their owners, the majority of whom simply use the road as a free parking option.

This often results in a gridlock of larger vehicles such as delivery or refuse collection lorries. Many residents are left with no option other than to increase the size of existing dropped kerbs.

We have also seen a development of numerous new homes and flats but many construction companies fail to provide adequate parking, causing an inevitable overspill of vehicles into our overcrowded side roads.

A year ago Andrew Rosindell issued his annual propaganda leaflet through our letterboxes espousing his intention to tackle the problems with parking in Grenfell Avenue.

Despite numerous emails sent to Cllr Caine with photographic evidence, the most we have received are a few cursory double yellow lines on the corner of the avenue.

The council must become more proactive tackling parking issues in residential roads. Until such time we will inevitably see the further decline of our grass verges.

Put government into special measures

Mr W Ramsay, Stephen Avenue, Rainham, writes:

Once again we read in the Recorder (last week) about failing academy schools when the idea of having these state-funded independent schools was to produce improvement.

It is a matter of certainty that having such schools is more costly than former arrangements, just as with the privatised railway, and present forms of NHS organisation and funding, such as the disastrous Private Finance Initiative.

The combined waste of money may even exceed the expected gain from leaving the EU.

Government is very good at instituting stringent regulatory regimes for sectors under its control, such as Ofsted for education, but on this evidence what most requires a rigorous inspection regime is government itself.

Among the relevant performance indicators an obvious choice is whether a given change was actually worthwhile, but another would be how much consent did it have. Government would clearly have to be put into special measures on either of these counts.

Register all landlords

Marilyn Edwards, Shaftesbury Road, Romford, writes:

Recently I read in the Recorder about a Havering Council registration scheme for HMO landlords.

This is excellent but it must be for ALL landlords so near neighbours have contact details.

The Land Registry must supply up-to-date addresses for landlords and MPs must ensure that is a legal obligation.

There are many Victorian, terraced houses here (built when the railway came to

Romford in 1890s).

Owner/occupiers know that old houses need constant maintenance and this costs money.

Landlords are loath to spend on essential improvements like new roofs, new guttering, installing downpipes (with our changing weather patterns).

Even established Rights of Way are ignored. Just a lick of magnolia paint between tenancies seems the norm.

As more and more houses are being divided and rented we need drastic regulation of landlords before Romford turns into bedsit land.

And that will affect us all!

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