Recorder letters: Upminster Pitch and Putt memories, Covid masks, construction noise and limiting development

PUBLISHED: 10:00 25 October 2020

Upminster Pitch and Putt, Hall Lane, Upminster. Picture: Google Maps

Upminster Pitch and Putt, Hall Lane, Upminster. Picture: Google Maps

Google Maps

Letters sent in from Recorder readers this week.

Memories of growing up next to the Pitch and Putt

Max Clark, Kendal, Cumbria, writes:

I hope your newspaper and your readers will forgive a middle-aged man a large slice of gratuitous reminiscence, but the recent vote by Havering Council to build over the Pitch and Putt course in Upminster struck a nerve and I felt compelled to write.

I was saddened to see what local councillor John Tyler rightly described as “a wonderful corner of Havering that should remain accessible for all” is now to be bulldozed to make way for housing.

My memories of the Pitch and Putt were formed as a child in the 1970s.

Our back garden overlooked the course – straight ahead was a mighty crack willow tree (which I hear blew over with a crack a few years ago) and it felt like I could almost touch the tinny, red, pyramid-shaped box that marked the eighth tee.

The occasional golf ball landed in our garden, a result of overexcited punters driving over the seventh green into ‘the rough’ that was my mum and dad’s flower border.

I remember the long drive (for a nipper at least) to the 11th green and then after that into the wilds at the far end of the course with its devilish bunkers.

All this will soon be gone, along with the fun, the competition, yes the frustrations too, but mostly the sheer joy of playing the closest I ever got to proper golf.

I live miles away in Cumbria now, so really I suppose I have no right to comment on other people’s business, but since I left at the age of 12, Upminster holds a very special place in my heart.

It was, and doubtless still is, a super place to grow up. I was lucky and I’ll never forget it.

Upminster is special and it saddens me to see that part of its municipal fabric will be torn away forever.

Whoever does the revamp, please make a good job of it and take care, there are hundreds of happy memories there!

I would be fascinated to know whether the original plans for the course are available in a local archive.

The clever person who designed the course should be remembered I reckon, perhaps in a street name – that would be a fitting memorial.

More Covid checks of stores needed

Sue, Romford, full name and address supplied, writes:

I too have seen customers at Lidl not wearing masks and others wearing masks only round their mouths including staff.

I have also visited Tesco in Main Road next to the police station. I asked a staff member why they were allowing customers to flout the law and he told me that when he spoke to them they swore at him and ignored him.

I spoke to one man who thanked me and went back to his car to get his mask – I doubt he would have done so if not challenged.

This morning I went in to the post office in Gidea Park. There were three people without masks and once again I asked the shop worker and he too confirmed that non mask wearers often swore at him. One of the offenders just ignored us talking about him.

What is even more disturbing is that baskets and trolleys no longer seem to be cleaned in Lidl and the cleansing trolley was being used for shelf stacking last weekend.

I watched as plastic trolleys baskets being wheeled from the checkouts straight back to the collection point.

Some allegedly Covid-safe stores are neglecting their responsibilities and more checks should be done.

No help to stop builders’ noise

Dean Kent, South Street, Romford, writes:

I am airing my frustration at Havering Council’s lack of help and assistance for neighbours of noise.

A new block of flats is being built next to my home on South Street, and has been under construction all year.

Construction works begin 7am and end 7pm Monday-Sunday, and involve drilling, banging, hammering.

I was convinced building works on Sundays were illegal. It certainly isn’t in their planning application.

They are loud and haphazard with works, I have seen them accidentally drop brickwork on to parked cars below, and they certainly don’t care about the impact they are having on their neighbours, with around 60 flats within 100m of the site suffering from their racket. I am so saddened that Havering Council don’t care either.

All through summer we had windows open for the heatwave and were woken up at criminally early hours by the builders, who even in October are still going on.

Lockdown, when stuck inside a tiny flat, we had their noise for company day and night.

I have emailed the council directly, emailed building control, emailed environmental services and nothing was ever done.

I have called them but there is no answer or callback, and the ‘emergency’ number for reporting building works at antisocial hours is only open 9-5!

What is the logic in that? Who can we turn to for help?

What do Havering residents get for paying the highest council tax rates in London?

RA is alternative to Conservatives

Cllr Ron Ower, Upminster and Cranham Residents Association, Derham Gardens, Upminster, writes:

Your correspondent in the Recorder of the October 16 was looking for an alternative to Conservative councillors in Havering .

Since the 1950s in a number of areas in the borough Independent Resident Association councillors have been elected .

In fact, at the last local elections in 2018, with just a handful of extra votes, a further six or more resident councillors would have been elected.

Whilst we in the RA may have different views on national and international policies, we share the belief that ‘party politics’ has no place in local affairs.

It was interesting to see in last year’s local elections outside Havering, a large number of Residents Association councillors were elected.

We do not receive the huge incomes that the political parties have, we have to raise our own funds.

Mask exemptions are downplayed

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

After a long letter in favour of masks, Trevor Baker says “I’ve managed to cope so far with only one bad injury to myself”! Surely that’s a reason not to wear them (letters October 16)?

The government has been conflating law and guidance to create “rules” confusing the public who fear ludicrous fines for breaking the “rules” - with mask wearing exemptions downplayed, but the fact is, there’s no legal requirement to wear a mask if you have a medical exemption and everyone has a medical exemption if mask wearing makes you ill.

And there is no legal requirement to show evidence of your exemption as this is a confidential medical matter and it’s an offence, a disability hate crime, to harass or order an exempt person to wear a mask.

We must be able to limit development

Cllr Graham Williamson, Independent Resident Group, South Hornchurch ward, writes:

I was surprised by the council leader’s response to your article ‘Ten-storey limit on heights of new buildings proposed in bid to alter local plan’ (Recorder, October 16).

Cllr White is quoted as saying in response to my and Cllr Morgan’s call for a 10-storey limit: “However, it is not possible to justify a height limit on blanket basis across the borough and it is irresponsible to suggest we can.”

May I remind him that the present local plan raised in 2008, and technically still ‘live’, states that outside Romford Town Centre no development should be predominantly greater than three storeys.

In Romford Town Centre a tall building is regarded as six high and thus ‘flagged’ as an issue and any development must reflect the character of the area.

The leader suggests that relying upon the latter is sufficient ie “It is for this reason that we review all proposed developments on a case by case basis to ensure they provide homes for local people, which respect local character”.

However, apart from the fact that the majority of new properties are not being built for local people, under this present administration, the existing limits and local character have been largely ignored in many planning applications.

Thus a new ‘precedent’ is created and developers justify throwing up much higher blocks thereafter because the council has approved a similar one ‘nearby’.

Tower blocks that are a minority become treated as part of a character’s area and before long they become the majority.

The reason for this creeping over-development is the council’s desperate attempt to meet excessive housing targets and developers desire to make as much profit as they can.

Whether a storey figure of three or 10 or whatever is chosen is less important than the need to have some benchmark figure which allows the council to limit the damage to our overall character.

Otherwise, the new local plan is likely to simply make it easier to ride roughshod even further than at present.

Don’t lose shops to provide housing

Dr Alison Moore, Londonwide Assembly member, writes:

The Covid-19 pandemic is not the only threat to our high streets. Amongst the government’s proposals to overhaul our planning system are further attacks on our local shops.

The situation is already stark with the Centre for Retail Research finding that almost 14,000 shops across the country pulled down their shutters for the final time, this year alone.

Despite this, ministers have just pushed through an expansion of permitted development rights, enabling retail and office space to be demolished to give way to flats.

These proposals would also remove democratic control from councillors and bar local people from being able to formally object to these schemes which could permanently transform the face of our communities.

Whilst permitted development projects now have to abide by minimum space standards, they still do not have to be set at an affordable rent or provide outside space for tenants.

More permitted development and the gutting of our high streets is not the solution to our housing crisis. The government must urgently have a rethink on this.

Black-and-white cats more popular

James Yeates, CEO, Cats Protection, writes:

Cat lovers have a lot to celebrate this Black Cat Day (October 27) with Cats Protection’s news that black and black-and-white cats are no longer overlooked as they once were.

Since we created the awareness day in 2010 to highlight that black cats took longer to rehome than other cats, they now spend 11 days less on average in care than before, prior to moving to their new loving homes.

Around 65,000 black or black-and-white cats have been homed through our adoption centres in the decade since the campaign started.

We would like to thank readers for their support and for helping us make a real difference.

Not only do these cats now spend less time in our care, but each year thousands celebrate the day and engage with our #BlackCatDay hashtag on social media.

Throughout the campaign, Cats Protection has explored reasons why black cats might be less popular, working to change perceptions and buck the rehoming trend. These included black cats being seen as unlucky or not photogenic in selfies.

We would love to invite readers to celebrate and showcase their black cat knowledge by hosting a quiz for friends and family while also raising vital funds for their local branch or centre.

More details about the quiz and Black Cat Day can be found at

Alzheimer’s charity needs your help

Linda O’Sullivan, Alzheimer’s Society head of region for London, writes:

Every autumn, Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk events across the UK see thousands of people come together to raise money to help defeat dementia.

Sadly, this year, coronavirus meant we had to cancel the large-scale events we all know and love. Instead, we asked people to step out and support us by doing their own personal walks, from July to October, in line with government guidelines.

We’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and generosity of 1,295 supporters across London who signed up and helped raise over £1.2million for Alzheimer’s Society.

We want to say a big thank you to everyone who took part in Memory Walk this year and made a difference to people affected by dementia.

The pandemic has hit people with dementia the hardest, with many of the 850,000 people living with the condition experiencing crippling loneliness and confusion by losing their much-needed routines.

Thousands of carers are facing care home visitor bans or are struggling to get a break.

Our services have been used over two million times since lockdown began, showing people need us more than ever.

But we’re facing a significant loss of fundraising income because of coronavirus.

As Memory Walk season ends, please consider donating to our Coronavirus Appeal or join one of our next fundraising events, like Elf Day on Friday, December 4 or any date that suits you.

Sign up for a free fundraising pack at

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