Online Checking – Letters on Harold Hill and Rainham
A community toilet scheme using retailers is a non-starter
D Ainsworth, Angmering House, Barnstaple Road, writes:
In your account last week of Havering’s disappearing public toilet units – except in the Tories’ Romford constituency stronghold – it’s reported our council suggests a community scheme could be introduced whereby shops allow their toilets to be used by those in need.
Hmmm! Harold Hill’s busy shopping centre now lacks public conveniences, so where does Havering’s Council leader suggest shoppers go when caught short?
Hard-pressed Harold Hill shopkeepers, even before Covid-19 hit town, faced serious anti-social behaviour in their units plus a serious rise in shoplifting.
Matters have worsened recently and are now a serious concern. Do such shopkeepers really want the general public entering their stores just to use toilets, which in most cases are towards the rear of their premises?
That would mean staff leaving their duties to escort toilet users to and from toilets. Back areas of shops are where stock is stored and where employees leave their belongings.
A Community Toilet Scheme using retail units is a non-runner.
The retail sector urgently needs boosting and should include free public conveniences in all major shopping centres, as seen in Romford and Upminster town centres. With curious timing all but two of these toilet units were removed during a cold spell, which in itself generated extra demand for such facilities, especially from our borough’s high number of elderly residents.
Bank closure is a cynical ploy
A Harold Hill resident, full name and address supplied, writes:
I note with dismay that the local NatWest branch in the Hilldene Shopping Centre has probably used the pretext of the coronavirus emergency to close its doors to the public.
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I strongly suspect that it is basically just another cost-cutting measure and a cynical ploy on the part of NatWest to pressurise their customers into online banking.
I feel very sorry for the people of Harold Hill who may not be au fait with personal banking technology.
Clearly, the powers that be at NatWest did not stop for a moment to consider them!
Fortunately, there is still a bank that believes in providing good basic banking services to customers.
It is not possible to advertise its name in this letter, but it shares the same name as a free daily newspaper
Rheumatology clinic moved
A Gidea Park resident and rheumatology patient, writes:
I have been under Queen’s Hospital (QH) rheumatology for 10-plus years diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and treated with a medicine call Banapali.
This is a specialist medicine, a drug which can only be prescribed by my consultant. I have been at QH rheumatology department throughout the entire period of my treatment.
However, recently the rheumatology department at QH has shifted to King George Hospital (KGH) at Goodmayes.
This is very inconvenient for me as I live in Gidea Park. I used to hop on to 498 bus from the top of my road and get off in front of QH.
When I contacted rheumatology department, I was told that all the patients are seen and clinics are conducted at KGH.
I was horrified as to travel there is a very difficult journey and involves train and bus – I do not know how to get there!
I am elderly, frail and live on my own. Travel to QH has always worked well for me. I’m sure there must be many elderly patients like myself.
My consultant and nurses would now be based at KGH. It is very unfair for decisions regarding patient’s care to be taken unilaterally. The opinion of patients is not considered.
I understand the work pressure and the good work done at QH, but at least one rheumatology clinic can be held at QH daily. I am very stressed now and my joints are flaring.
My consultant called and said not to worry and not to get stressed. However, my consultant could not promise that I will be seen at QH in the future.
No alternative budget proposed
Cllr Dilip Patel, chair, Strategic Planning committee, writes:
Politics, by its very nature, is oppositional. Organised political parties are vehicles designed to advance a certain point of view or champion a particular policy.
This policy may or may not be shared by others, and it is therefore beholden on other groups to challenge this message and to present their own alternative vision of policy.
This is a responsible, and mature approach to politics.
Sadly, this is approach is not one that appears to be shared by the many opposition groups on Havering Council.
This week the Conservative Group presented its proposed budget for the year.
Contained within this were decisions on which the Conservative administration were subject to political attack by the individual opposition groups. This is par for the course. However, on the one occasion of the year when the opposition have an opportunity to put their political attacks into actual policy choices – that is in presenting alternative budget proposals – they seem to lack the willingness or any real desire to offer challenge.
Is one to assume that the opposition groups do not really stand for anything? Or are they too busy squabbling amongst themselves to come up with a coherent alternative vision for the borough? Are they just too lazy to care?
As the old saying goes; it is fun to oppose things, but eventually you also have to stand for something. Is it time the opposition tried to work out exactly what this is?
Budget delivers on your priorities
Cllr Damian White, leader, Havering Council, writes:
This week I presented a budget to full council that will continue to deliver on your priorities for Havering.
This includes another £10million to fix and rebuild for our borough’s roads and pavements; a £5million to upgrade our CCTV network to fight against crime; funding to deliver a state-of-the-art new leisure centre in Rainham; a £2million boost to our borough’s parks – helping us maintain a record 16 Green Flags; a new crew to deal with fly-tipping; and plans for a new generation of council homes for our residents.
We will be doing this at the same time as continuing to provide care and support to our most vulnerable residents and driving increasing value for money – which has led Havering Council becoming the fifth most efficient council in the country.
It is a privilege and honour to be elected to Havering Council and I am deeply proud of the work that has been carried out over the last 15 months – highlighting how important local government is to our country.
Community spirit alive in Collier Row
Cllr Jason Frost, Mawneys ward, writes:
To all those in our borough who so eagerly dismiss community spirit as being a something long abandoned by contemporary society, I would ask you to come up a visit Collier Row; the spirit is very much alive and flourishing in this parish.
The partnership between Clockhouse Lane Primary School and Keystones Property to put together a free Easter half-term activity, in the shape of a treasure hunt, reported in the Recorder last week, is a wonderful demonstration of how strong co-operation between local businesses and key local anchor institutions (eg schools and churches) can help build and strengthen relationships between residents and the sense of belonging to a place.
As one who was born and bred in Collier Row, and who now has the privilege of representing part of the area on the council, these everyday acts of community spirit fill me with pride and gratitude that I was blessed to be a member of this community.
My thanks and compliments to Mr Gavin Koten (Clockhouse Lane Primary School) and Mr Scott Jay (Keystones Property) for their efforts.
Ten years too long to wait for home
Graham Davidson, Elm Park, writes:
Reading your letters page last week in the Recorder, I came across a letter that one of your readers had written about the council putting the waiting list for accommodation up from six to 10 years.
I have lived in Havering all of my life, 57 years, and I keep being turned down for the housing register.
Every time I approach Damian White about my housing situation he always puts something different that he wants done. I have done everything that he has asked me to do.
There must be other people in the same situation as myself.
I totally agree with the reader last week about Damian White and his party. They are quick enough to ask for your vote and promise to help you if you vote for them. When the election is over, you never hear from them.
I think it’s about time we had a new party to run Havering that wants to do things for the residents.
I hope Damian White and his party read this letter. Mr White knows my situation and still won’t help. If everyone sticks together maybe something will be done. Promises, promises don’t get you a place to live.
All the people in the same situation as myself should write to Mr Damian White and contact your MPs. If we have to wait 10 years no one will get any housing. They are building new homes but I don’t know anyone whose moving into them.
We don’t want 10 years, what about five? We should go back to the old way before bidding.
I will be looking forward to see how many reading this agree with me.
Fewer windows ‘to save the world’
Cllr David Durant, Rainham and Wennington Independent Residents Group, writes:
The Strategic Planning Committee, February 24, approved an amendment to the approved plans for Dovers Corner (north-side).
This involved some changes to the appearance of the exterior and the removal of windows from bathrooms.
The planning officer said the number of windows involved was small, as most of the flats on the development had no bathroom windows, making it a ‘minor’ variation to the plans.
The old Napier and New Plymouth House tower blocks were an eyesore from the outside, but were spacious on the inside.
It appears their replacements will be attractive on the outside, but cramped on the inside, as the planning officer euphemistically called the bathrooms “not generous”!
Is this really progress, or has the council wasted an opportunity to build back better as an enlightened house builder setting a benchmark for others to follow?
The explanation for the change wasn’t clear, as the committee were told the removal of windows made the buildings more efficient, but what did this mean, as it wasn’t explained.
Well it means they’re being removed to reduce the buildings’ “carbon footprint”.
Yes, removing bathroom windows helps meet the government’s carbon reduction targets and no doubt removing all windows from the building would help some more.
This is the down to earth reality of the impact of climate change legislation, remove bathroom windows on housing estates to save the world.
The same madness happened at Grenfell where cladding was added to reduce the building’s carbon footprint, with devastating results.
Lab and Con zero carbon enthusiasts approved the plans.
Having the vaccine is a kindness
Cllr Khaled Noor, chair, Muslim Professionals Forum, writes:
The virus can affect anyone – regardless of their immigration status or whether they have a home.
It is important that everyone can access the vaccine, to protect the whole community. More than that, however, it should be a basic human right to access healthcare – and we welcome and support this campaign which seeks to make the paper policy a reality.
It is important that Muslim organisations swing behind this campaign to send out the signal that it is a call from all communities in the UK. We urge Muslim professionals to sign up their Mosques, community organisations and their professional organisations.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) told us “Allah is kind, and He loves kindness in all matters”.
It is up to the Muslim community to show kindness in action at this difficult time and ensure that #VaccinesForAll swiftly becomes a reality – in the UK and across the world. Please sign up to show your support.
TfL needs help from government
Dr Alison Moore AM, Londonwide Assembly Member, writes:
Later this month, Transport for London are facing the prospect of running out of money yet again. This is down to two reasons.
The first is that last spring, the pandemic caused fares revenues across the TfL’s network to plummet by 90 per cent. Consecutive lockdowns have meant that passenger numbers have failed to properly recover ever since.
After the government took the irresponsible decision to stop providing TfL with a £700m a year operating grant in 2018, it was left to rely on fares as its main source of income.
This is why, alongside TfL and the mayor, I have been calling for a long-term sustainable funding package from the government.
Whilst ministers immediately gave the private rail companies a comprehensive bailout back in March 2020, they have only given TfL two short-term, sticking-plaster deals with a number of strings attached.
The government must provide TfL with the sustainable package it urgently needs.
The alternative is cuts to local transport services and key infrastructure projects, which are vital for creating job opportunities for our community.
Give up chocolate to help BHF
Emma Day, head of Dechox, British Heart Foundation, writes:
This March, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) is encouraging the British public to take on their Dechox challenge and give up chocolate and other sugary snacks for the month of March.
Dechox Warriors will help to raise life-saving funds for the 7.6 million people in the UK living with heart and circulatory diseases.
Covid-19 has cut our future research funding in half, so we need your donations to carry on funding medical breakthroughs into heart and circulatory diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and vascular dementia.
Please sign up to Dechox and say no to chocolate for March: bhf.org.uk/dechox
Online Checking – Letters on Harold Hill and Rainham
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