Recorder letters: SEND transport, missed train, poppies, police stations, family search, puppies and cat protection

PUBLISHED: 10:23 17 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:23 17 November 2017

A Virgin train. Picture: PA

A Virgin train. Picture: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

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

Missed train cost student £169

Angela Gipson, Ayr Way, Romford, writes:

My granddaughter travelled back from Manchester last Friday on a Virgin train. She is at university there, studying prosthetics, (false limbs etc) and orthotics. It was her birthday.

She had a travel card for peak travel and missed the train that she should have been on by one minute.

On the next train 20 minutes later a “jobsworth” ticket collector said to her “you either pay £169 or get off’’. My granddaughter was very upset as she was coming home for her birthday. She had to pay the £169, this was for one way, Manchester to London.

I hope this woman who made my granddaughter pay this large amount from her allowance, enjoyed the rest of her day, it certainly ruined my hard working dedicated granddaughter’s birthday. I might add on my granddaughter’s behalf that there was no intention to deceive.

We never refuse SEND transport due to budget

Cllr Robert Benham, Cabinet Member for Children’s and Learning, writes:

Havering Council would like to refute last week’s letter implying budget cuts within the children with disability service.

We never refuse transport to any eligible child or young person with special educational needs or disability (SEND) on the basis of budget.

The council forecasted expenditure of £2.7million on supplying children and young people with SEND transport in 2017/2018. There have been no budget reductions in this transport service in the last few years or during 2017/2018.

The number of children being assessed as being eligible for transport has increased over the years, leading Havering to be proactive in looking at innovative ways in which we can support our expanding population.

We aim to support families to become more independent where appropriate, and help them facilitate a model where they can meet their child’s needs.

The council is committed to increasing its local offer for children and young people with SEND. We have funded and opened a number of new specialist units in mainstream schools around the borough, as a way to support growing demand and plan to develop more.

Officers of the council regularly meet with parents to discuss issues affecting children and young people with disabilities, and work closely with schools to identify any issues then seek solutions.

We are also working with the Department for Education to open a new special free school in Havering for children with autism, and those with social emotional and mental health needs in 2019

Poppies could be other colours

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

It was good to see a high turnout on Remembrance Sunday, but I am aware of the misgivings some people have to wearing the red poppy and who view it as a symbol of war and imperial aggression.

For example, it’s a fractious symbol for many Irish and Muslims due to the “troubles” in Ireland and continuing conflict in Arabia and for others who believe it’s used to glorify war.

Officially Remembrance Sunday is about remembering those who fell in two world wars and other conflicts and not about supporting war and this is reflected in many church services given on the day. But I do think the British Legion could help make this distinction clearer, by promoting a choice of poppies.

They have traditionally promoted the red poppy as the symbol of the appeal for funds to assist servicemen and women in need, but they should consider promoting white and green poppies, and perhaps other colours too.

The British Legion make clear they don’t proscribe other colours, but offering a choice still raises vital funds and makes it easier for one to be worn by Irish, Muslims and anti-war people, particularly as many Irish, Muslims and conscientious objectors have served in the British military and need help too.

We’ll fight police station closures

Cllr Roger Ramsey, leader of Havering Council, writes:

Two weeks ago, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) announced that both Hornchurch and Rainham police stations, along with Safer Neighbourhood bases across the borough (apart from Elm Park) will be closed.

This is a decision that is in my view not only short-sighted, but detrimental to the needs of residents and of our growing population.

The council has consistently raised objections and I have met with the Deputy Mayor for Policing, Sophie Linden to try and preserve police presence especially in the southern part of the borough. I am therefore very disappointed by this outcome.

MOPAC’s consultation fails to consider adequately the needs of our residents, which is why the council will be looking at the prospect of a legal challenge.

I understand that there are cuts being made to the police service, but I believe that this result will have an adverse long-term consequence on our local community.

Residents in the south of the borough would have to travel over an hour to their nearest police station in the borough.

The consultation itself has been termed the “worst consultation of 2017” by The Institute of Consultation.

The Institute of Consultation has said that MOPAC’s approach was “deeply flawed” with “leading questions biased to elicit a particular answer” and failed to seek “any demographic data to understand who responds”.

This means that residents’ voices have not been taken into consideration, which questions the purpose of this consultation.

Was it a ‘tick box’ consultation as it seems that decisions were already made?

Whilst opposing the closures the council has offered to provide facilities that the police can use in outlying areas and whatever happens it will stand by that.

I urge local residents to send their comments to their local MPs, who I would encourage to raise this issue in Parliament.

Search for Biggs and Jose families

Terence C Jolley, 18 Wigfield Drive, Ward Green, Barnsley, S70 5HR, writes:

I am writing regarding a family tree search which has linked back to an 1880-1911 census for a family in the Hornchurch area.

It concerns an Agnes Pink (born East Meon, Hants) and Reginald Thomas George Biggs, born West Ham.

I am searching the in-laws of the Biggs’ stem of the family tree--Reginald (married into the Jose’s in 1909) of Mansfield Road, Ilford between 1883 and 1939/1957/

If any reader has any details of the Biggs/Jose’s of those years I should be most grateful to hear from them either by email, or the address above.

In particular the obstacle I find is that there is a daughter (grandaughter to Agnes Pink born 1910), Jose Mary Biggs (daughter of Reginald died 1939), and also a son John R Biggs who appears on Jose Mary’s death certificate of 1974, and also on the mother Edith Jane Biggs nee Jose in 1957 as informant but there is no trace of a birth certificate or indeed a death certificate for a JR Biggs nationally or on any ancestry site.

Help us to stop puppy smuggling

Paula Boyden, veterinary director, Dogs Trust, writes:

With just six weeks to go until Christmas, Dogs Trust is urging people not to fuel a cruel puppy trade – albeit unintentionally – by purchasing an illegally imported puppy.

The warning comes after record number of puppies were seized in just one week during a covert operation at the UK border with many more expected to be smuggled into the country undetected as devious importers hone in on the Christmas trade.

As the UK’s largest dog welfare charity we exposed the horrors of the illegal importation of puppies earlier this year as the demand for in-trend breeds such as French bulldogs and pugs continue to help fuel this sickening trade.

We’ve seen cases of bitches being smuggled across pregnant as importers find sinister new ways to get them through the border undetected.

Despite many people’s purchases being well intended, unbeknown to them the internet has become a thriving marketplace for advertising illegally imported puppies.

As a result we’ve produced some buyer advice to help people make sensible choices and avoid being tricked into buying puppies which have been illegally imported from Central and Eastern Europe.

Illegally importing puppies needs to end now.

We urge the government to improve this failing legislation.

This includes increasing penalties for those illegally importing puppies and a significant overhaul of the pet checking system at ports.

Members of the public can support our campaign by visiting

Government must license air guns

Jacqui Cuff, advocacy and government relations manager, Cats Protection, writes:

In addition to the terrible human deaths and casualties that have

been inflicted by indiscriminate

use of air weapons, many pets have also been the unfortunate victims of air weapons.

Cats Protection’s air gun licensing petition has already received over 76,000 signatures and we would like to thank all of those who have signed the petition.

Cats receive life-changing injuries from air guns such as limb amputation or loss of an eye.

A 2016 Cats Protection survey of vets found that 46 per cent of reported incidents result in fatalities.

We welcome the government’s intention to review the regulation of air weapons licensing.

We are asking the government to license air guns in England and Wales, bringing us in line with Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Our monitoring shows nearly four cats a week are reported as killed or injured by an air gun in the UK – the actual figure is higher as many remain unreported.

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