Recorder letters: Lower Thames Crossing, remembrance, council magazine, Rainham and end of First World War.

PUBLISHED: 14:40 09 November 2018

Eye Clinic, Elm Park

Eye Clinic, Elm Park


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

A wonderful way to teach history

Cllr Stephanie Nunn, Elm Park ward, writes:

I was so pleased to see the timely poppy window display in the Eye Clinic, Elm Park.

This reminds us that 2018 marks 100 years since the ending of the First World War in 1918 and also reminds us of the sacrifices made by all service men and women.

I congratulate Karen Ames of Elm Park Regeneration for the initiative and pre-nursery, nursery and reception classes of Suttons Primary School for their artwork and poppies.

This is a wonderful way to teach children history.

This year the Remembrance Day Parade on Sunday, November 11 will muster at 10.45 at the Royal British Legion, Elm Park, with a service to follow at St Nicholas Church led by Rt Rev Peter Hill, Bishop of Barking with Rev Amanda and Father Tom.

All are welcome.

Have your say in Thames Crossing consultation

Cllrs Linda Hawthorn, Ron Ower, Chris Wilkins, Clarence Barrett, Gillian Ford and John Tyler, Upminster & Cranham Residents’ Association, write:

Plans for a Lower Thames Crossing have reached the official consultation stage and we urge residents to take part.

The planned 14.5 mile road would connect the M2 near Rochester and the M25 by North Ockendon, it includes a 2.4 mile tunnel and will cost some £6billion.

Our original preference, which we still stand by, was constructing an additional crossing alongside the existing Dartford Bridge, however this has been dismissed by the government.

We remain concerned over the destruction of green belt, loss of homes, ancient forests, wildlife habitat and the resultant air and noise pollution as it impacts on our area. We are also concerned that the new route will be a toll road (same as Dartford Crossing) and we will lobby for Havering residents to be included in a resident discount scheme, as Dartford and Thurrock are for the Dartford Crossing, but Havering is not.

There will be consultation events held at the New Windmill Hall, Upminster, on Saturday, November 17 (midday – 6pm) and St Mary Magdalene Church, North Ockendon on Thursday, November 22 (2pm - 9pm) where Highways England reps will be on hand to answer your questions.

In addition, the official consultation on the proposed scheme continues until December 20. We strongly urge you to take part in the consultation which can be accessed at or call 0300 123 5000.

Remembering terrible times

William Swain, Barnstaple Road, Harold Hill, writes:

I was born in August 1943 during the war years in a small house not far from London’s East End.

We had to endure the overspill of the German bombing raids on London. My bedroom received a direct hit from a stray incendiary bomb.

As a young boy, I grew up in post-war London. They were hard times, very hard times, but there was a strong sense of community and an equally strong sense of general purpose.

Londoners were a special kind of people back in those days and, after those dreadful war years, they set to work to rebuild their devastated city with sheer hard work and determination.

On this special Remembrance Sunday, perhaps we should remember all those people who lost their lives in the London blitz. My deepest sympathy and abiding respect goes to all those who perished and suffered during those terrible times.

Why are Jews hated so much?

Richard Clements, Cross Road, Mawneys, writes:

The recent massacre at a synagogue in Pittsburgh made me wonder why Jews are so hated.

I have no Jewish friends at the present time but have known some Jews in the past. I met a Jewish chap at Scarborough about 30 years ago. We were both there for a political party conference. He was a real Jew with a large black beard and large black hat.

We got on famously and I still regard him as one of the nicest men I have ever met.

Council magazine blatantly biased

Terence F Matthews LL.B(Hons), Focus Editor, Hornchurch Residents Association, writes:

The Living magazine delivered to all residents in Havering is published by the council administration using our local taxes to do so. Do we get a fair and non political publication? No we do not.

I have no issue with the events advertised as this is pure information but blatant political spite is a different matter.

It has been Tory policy to only publicise Tory involvement in events and decisions for many years. The opposition, which makes up over half of the council members, are given no mention and photos are a no-no if a Tory is not in them.

A good example is the report regarding the police operation attended by the Commissioner Cressida Dick in Elm Park.

This was attended by one Tory member cabinet member but six Hornchurch Resident Association councillors and a number of EC members representing the three wards affected also attended.

Where was any mention of ward councillors being involved?(mainly Elm Park Ward Area was affected by the sweep)?

The Hornchurch Residents Association monthly members magazine Focus, reported the event with a picture of the Commissioner and local councillors on the front cover. This would have been a better reporting of the event rather than the misinformation provided by the Tories.

It is about time that a council magazine paid for by all council tax payers, relayed information about past events in a fair, open manner, with no political bias.

Rainham is being short-changed

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

The disparity of funding within the new LB Havering “borough-wide” leisure contract that excludes the Chafford Sports Complex, Rainham, is evidence of discriminatory bias against Rainham, contrary to the council’s equality, diversity and community cohesion duty within the 2010 Equality Act. Because despite Rainham contributing £4.277m towards the “borough-wide” leisure contract, its own leisure centre is being closed, allegedly, due to an unaffordable £232,000 subsidy.

I have calculated Rainham’s contribution based on the following:-

The council’s composite contribution to the new £28.8m Romford Leisure Centre was £26.726m. This involved £21.950m from Morrisons in exchange for the council-owned ice rink site and a further £4.776m from council reserves. Sports England contributed an additional £2.074m.

Please note, council assets and reserves are owned by all the borough.

In Havering there are 18 wards and if we count the three wards (16per cent) in the south as Rainham, it means Rainham’s share of council assets is about 16pc. This means Rainham’s contribution to the new Romford Leisure Centre was 16pc of £26,726m = £4.277m.

On the back of this contribution new centres and facilities have been opened in Romford, Hornchurch, Harold Hill and Noak Hill, with the council responsible for the capital funding and a new “borough-wide” leisure contract signed with SLM.

They are making a payment to council of £1.1m to manage the contract, but their own profit is undisclosed, although the council has yet to trigger a profit share option.

The council claims, as Chafford requires a subsidy, it has to close. Ignoring the fact the Romford Centre was opened after receiving a de facto upfront council subsidy of £26.726m.

In other words all the centres are receiving subsidy in one form or another and therefore they should all be included in the “borough-wide” contract and cross subsidised, but apparently Chafford has to close!!!

In short, Rainham contributes £4.277m towards the Romford Leisure Centre and “borough-wide” contract, but its own leisure centre has to close as it requires a £232,000 subsidy, when if Rainham’s £4.277m contribution towards the other centres had been spent in Rainham it’s enough to keep Chafford open for another 18 years, or at least until a new leisure centre is built in the south of the borough.

New tool shows civilian roles in war

Dr Alasdair Brooks, British Red Cross heritage manager, writes:

On Sunday, November 11, the people of the UK will commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War.
The British Red Cross has a near 150-year history of supporting people in the UK during times of crisis and, between 1914 and 1918, more than 90,000 people volunteered for the organisation, working as Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) in auxiliary hospitals at home and overseas.

Most of these volunteers were women and included such notable figures as the author Agatha Christie, campaigner Vera Brittain, Wimbledon champion Lottie Dod and suffragist Sophia Duleep Singh.

However, the vast majority of First World War volunteers were ordinary women, and men, who cared for the wounded and sick, drove ambulances and acted as clerks, cooks and storekeepers.

They gave dedicated, compassionate and skilled humanitarian service at a time of national crisis and the role of women during the war, in particular, led to significant social change with women, driven by their war experiences, seeking greater opportunities in the workplace and securing the same voting rights as men in 1928.

Given the sheer number of people who volunteered as VADs during the First World War, it seems likely that many of your readers will have ancestors who gave service during the conflict.

And, today, thanks to the popularity of genealogical websites and TV programmes like Who Do You Think You Are? many are keen to trace their family trees and better understand the lives and war-time roles of their ancestors.

Traditionally, much of that focus has been on the men who served, and in hundreds of thousands of cases, lost their lives on the front line.

Now, however, your readers can use our new online VAD database to find out if their ancestors, especially women relatives, performed a civilian role during the war.

Searchable by name, location and occupation, the database includes service records and, in some cases, photographs.

Anyone can access the website at and potentially discover new and illuminating facets to their family history.

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