Recorder letters: Free parking at hospitals; Romford ice rink; new war memorial, thank you to nurse; Hornchurch Police Station and Battle of Britain anniversary.

PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 September 2018

Queen's Hospital, flagship hospital of the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Queen's Hospital, flagship hospital of the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.


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

Thank you for your help, kind nurse

Patricia Gogay, Main Road, Romford, writes to a nurse at Queen’s Hospital who looked after her elderly husband:

Dear nurse

I suppose I don’t really have to thank you in any formal sense because anyone who does their job well knows it and gains personal satisfaction from that.

But, whenever I encounter a ‘vocational’ nurse, I’m moved to say what a difference it makes, how reassuring it is, how special.

You radiate care. I noticed how happy your colleagues (including the tea lady) are to be working with you.

My husband (82) has received appalling personal care in the past and that makes good care shine out even more brightly. The biggest difference is that you look for ways to help your patients – can they reach and pour their water? Can they reach their meal? Are they comfortable in their bed or are they curled up in a corner with their legs dangling over the side?

Elderly care is very demanding and sometimes conflicts with the goal of making patients better but you nurse, are one of the few who understands that the person you are caring for may, one day in the future be you or your parents.

My husband and I salute you and wish you a long and fulfilling career.

People take advantage of free parking at hospitals

John Harris, Harold Wood, writes:

While I agree with Cllr Barrett that charging for parking on hospital sites is an imposition on patients, visitors and staff, yes the latter pay too without a guarantee of a space, there is at least one good reason for it to continue in some form.

I worked at Harold Wood Hospital for many years, indeed this was before charging was introduced, and the hospital suffered from commuters, usually from outside the borough, parking there and walking to Harold Wood Station to catch their train to London.

This had the added benefit of the subsidised fares compared with Brentwood and outwards into Essex.

The result was that the available parking was often full by 8.30am, resulting in problems for those arriving for appointments at 9:00am.

I think this went unnoticed until a train strike meant there were no commuters and suddenly plenty of car parking spaces, after that there were checks at the gate and eventually staff parking permits and charging.

This ruse was widely used in hospitals near commuter lines around London and Ford at Dagenham had similar issues with commuters going to Dagenham Docks Station until they introduced barriers.

I can think we could assume the same result if Queen’s removed the charges from the car parks.

So, there needs to be some form of regulation of the parking, which requires some sort of machines/barriers, which unless the NHS Trust is going to fund them means that charging is the only option.

Do not think that the distance from Queen’s to Romford Station will deter people, many of the cars parked on Gooshay’s Drive (outside the control parking zone around Harold Wood Station) are commuters who walk to the station.

That said, Cllr Barrett is right that the income should stay within the NHS and not fund private companies, but I suspect that is because of the PFI that built Queen’s Hospital.

Council’s bum deal on ice rink

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

The new Romford Sapphire Leisure Centre was part of an “asset swap”.

This involved Morrisons paying to build the new centre on their land in Western Road in exchange for the council owned Romford Ice Rink site, on which they planned to build a new supermarket, petrol station and 71 houses/flats.

The new £28.8m Leisure Centre was built with Morrisons contributing £21.950m, Sport England £2.074m and a council contribution of £4.776m.

However Morrisons didn’t want to go through with their own plans and instead ‘sold’ the site on to Affinity Rom Valley Ltd, who then submitted an approved planning application to build 620 flats on the old ice rink site!

At an average estimated gross value of £200,000 x 620 flats = £124 million, it means the value of the council asset swapped is much higher than Morrisons £21.950m contribution towards the new leisure centre.

And the council contribution towards the leisure centre of £4.776m is far more than the zero council contribution the council promised as the reason for progressing the “asset swap”.

This matters because the council are now proposing to close Chafford Sports Complex, Rainham, in the latest budget consultation, to save money, adding they can’t capital spend on the complex anyway because it’s school rather than council owned!

Its outrageous, after spending many £millions on a new Romford Leisure Centre, the council now say they can’t afford to keep Chafford open.

The solution is for the council to resume ownership of the complex (which Harris Academy supports) and then fund it from within the £multi-million pound leisure contract and from any lost profits clawed back from the “asset swap”.

No need for new war memorial

Hazel Elliott, Harold Wood, full address supplied, writes:

As a Harold Wood resident I have just been made aware that our cash strapped council is backing a proposal, and making arrangements for the instalment of a new, second war memorial in Harold Wood.

The applicant for planning permission is a Mr Philip Blyth from Cardiff, on research I have found that Mr Blyth is a name associated with Mossfords Sculptors, Cardiff.

We apparently have until October to make any objections but these will be disregarded as plans for the pre-installation work appear to have been agreed to enable it to be ready for Remembrance Sunday, yes, this year!

Is Mr Blyth donating and paying for the installation or is it us, as tax payers?

We already have a War Memorial Hall in Gubbins Lane, it provides a well maintained hall, kitchen and toilet facilities and is widely used by a number of groups within the community.

It is available for hire and is used for parties and wedding receptions.

It is a living memorial to those residents who gave so much during the war.

A Remembrance Service has been held there for many years and my children and now my grandchildren have participated in the service and the parade down Gubbins Lane as part of the uniformed groups.

The bells of St Peter’s church toll as the parade takes place and this year the bells will be rung, along with others nationwide, to remember the hundreds of bell ringers who lost their lives during the war.

The new site does not have seating or free toilet facilities for the people who gather year on year for this annual event (I wonder if it’s a council scheme to increase the income from the automated toilet, strategically placed alongside the ‘sculpture’).

We do not need or want a second war memorial in Harold Wood and we certainly don’t want our council tax paying for it.

Indeed, if the council has money to spare maybe it could be used to refurbish the memorial tablet on the front of Harold Wood Memorial Hall or perhaps Mr Blyth might like to do that.

Police station deal a win for everyone

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

It is indeed great news that Hornchurch Police Station will remain open, but reading the politically charged statement from the conservative leader of the council, which states it is a great victory for the council, it isn’t a singular victory.

It’s a far greater victory for the many people, not least of all the Hornchurch Residents’ Association, who campaigned and petitioned tirelessly for the Station to remain open.

It is interesting to note how the conservative leader of the council describes the Mayor of London as making an ‘appalling decision’ and being responsible for ‘savage cuts’.

However, if we cast our minds back to 2013 it was the conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who launched the policy of closing 63 police stations across the capital, largely in response to huge funding reductions imposed by a conservative government.

At the time he said: “A lot of people find a police station intimidating. They are becoming less and less central to our thinking”.

A few facts absent from the leader’s statement.

While the acquisition and lease back of the site makes some financial sense, the real credit should go to the people who made this happen.

Battle of Britain anniversary

Air Vice-Marshal David Murray, chief executive, RAF Benevolent Fund, writes:

This week we remember the bravery of the Battle of Britain pilots who took to our skies in defence of the nation, night after night during the summer of 1940.

Battle of Britain Day on September 15 is a moment to pause and reflect not only on their sacrifice but on the sacrifice of all who have served our country.

It is important to remember the legacy left by all those pilots who gave their lives for our today and to remember that whilst we may not face the same, visible, our selfless servicemen and women continue to put their lives on the line for us today.

This year, Battle of Britain Day coincides with Remember a Charity Week, a campaign to raise awareness of the impact a gift in a will can make to charities.

For the RAF Benevolent Fund, gifts in wills make up almost 60 per cent of our total donated income. Income which has been spent over the past 100 years supporting the RAF Family, serving and retired personnel and their families.

People like the families of those killed in action during the Battle of Britain in the Second World War, ensuring the pilots’ children received the best possible start in life despite their tragic loss; or providing for RAF veterans so that they may live out their retirement in comfort and dignity.

As the nation marked the Royal Air Force’s centenary this summer, here at the Fund, we celebrated almost 100 years of support for the RAF Family; we have stood side by side with those who gave their all, since 1919.

However, it is only because of the support of incredible donors who leave a legacy to support RAF and ex-RAF personnel in need that we are able to continue to do that.

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